Alan Higgins, over at Real Christianity, has written an indictment against the poverty and justice Bible. He comes out against the book because it does not highlight “mans biggest problem–which is sin.” He argues that, while looking after the poor is important, it is NOT the gospel. Here is Higgin’s version of the gospel from an earlier post:
“It simply is this. We are all sinners and have broken God’s laws and as a result the wrath of God abides on us. God must punish sin because he is holy and he SHOULD punish us all and throw us ALL into the lake of fire but Christ showed his love to us by taking the punishment on the cross that should have been ours, and dying on the cross provided a way out for us so that we can receive the forgiveness of sins and be made righteous. Simply said, we broke the law, but Jesus paid the fine. Unless a person repents and puts their trust in Christ ALONE, they will incur God’s punishment and his wrath. For a more in depth explanation, click here.”
Higgins provides the standard “substitutionary atonement” model for salvation. I am happy that Higgins has attempted to help us understand the gospel, but as Father Stephen of the Eastern Orthodox church shows here, there are also other ways to understand salvation. Father Stephen has a problem, one which I share, that makes “the wrath of God a dogma.” I would like to quote Father Stephen at length here:
“The Orthodox problem with these images is that they are just that: images. Orthodoxy teaches that, through Christ, we can know God, though God in His essence is unknowable. The mystery which surrounds God and even our knowledge of Him is essential in Orthodox understanding. There is always a warning within Orthodox theology when we speak very plainly about God – that we know only what God has made known to us – and though we know Him, that knowledge is itself frequently a mystery – something that cannot be expressed sufficiently in words. Thus to speak of God’s wrath (as the Scriptures certainly do) is not to say that God is angry in any way comparable to the anger of man. To speak of God’s wrath is a theological statement about the rupture in our relationship with Him and should not be confused with a statement about how God feels.”
I just thought I would post this little tidbit for what its worth.