Send As SMS

Bible for Thinkers

Liberals love the Bible, too. We just look at it differently. This is a place to discuss the Bible where you don't have to check your brain at the door. There are many ways to see it, and many ways to have it come to life.

Monday, August 22, 2005


When I fired up my laptop tonight, my CNN homepage had a picture of Pat Rudolph, the mother of Eric Rudolph, who was sentenced today for the 1996 bombings at the Olympic Games in Atlanta. The headline reads: Rudolph's mother: Son not a "monster." She goes on to say that "I don't see him as a monster. I don't think I could," and that she loves him even though she doesn't condone what he did.

Since earlier this evening I was responding to someone who was wondering about the line between grace and judgment, the first response I had to the headline was "That's how God views each of the unconditional love of a mother for her child. That's why we should talk more about God as a mother." That thought had no sooner past through the ticker than the next one came: "Maybe that's one of the reasons why we're so resistant to talking about God as a mother!"

Could it be that the grace of a mother's love is something that we don't really want let loose in our society? Perhaps we want to keep that notion safely tucked away on Mother's Day and other sentimental occasions but send it to the backwaters when judgment and condemnation more nicely suit our purposes. Dad the disciplinarian is the one we will let out for public view...the one who will be practical about it all and mete out the proper punishment. Mom gives her view after the trial is done.

But suppose God is like Mom. Suppose God says, "I don't see him as a monster; I don't think I could." That would make our lives so much more difficult--because if God couldn't see him as a monster, we wouldn't really be allowed to either. If God could say, "Father, forgive them," then maybe we would have to follow that example. Maybe our unwillingness to give up our right to vengeance is one of the reasons we resist a Mother God. She'll let the kids get away with murder.

Not that the issues are easy. Elie Wiesel once said tha anything we say about God has to be able to be said over a pit of burning babies. A mother's love for a child gone wrong is not cheap grace. I think we need to wrestle more with what that means. We need to wrestle with the issues of forgiveness and justice raised in books like The Sunflower by Simon Wiesenthal. We need to consider what it might mean if God had the heart of a mother.


At 12:34 PM, Teresa said...

Anne, I wrote a couple of posts on this and I got basicly creamed by those who did not understand. The last one was Unforgivable Sin and there is a link to Joseph Edward Duncan. There was another one, I cannot remember what it was called (Early August/Late July) that was about a 16 yr old boy who killed a lady (who was his therapist) who took him into her home(as she did many others. I think that as hard as it is, when God says, love your enemies, we need to do the best we can to do that, otherwise we are hippocrites! So our forgiveness only extends to those who deserve it? It is the same thing with grace, with we love a God who loves us unconditionally but does that only for a few? I have not got this all figured out and I don't claim to, but I think that it is wrong for us to just sit back and not ask the "tough" questions just because we "feel" one way or another. I sure hope that someone understands this.

At 1:05 PM, Anne Robertson said...


Yeah, there are some things we really, really don't want God to forgive, no matter what...and for good reason. People do such atrocious things I can hardly get my mind to comprehend them.

Fortunately, ultimate forgiveness is not up to us. "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and compassion on whom I will have compassion." (Rom. 9:15) Both vengeance and mercy belong to God.

There's no doubt that the questions are hard. I can't talk about forgiving Hitler, for example, because Hitler did not harm me. I can't forgive on behalf of someone else. Likewise, if harm IS done to me, no one else can limit my offer of forgiveness because they think the offense should not be forgiven.

Forgiveness is a gift of love, and a gift is freely given, or it's not a gift. So I also can't tell you that you must forgive someone who has done you great harm.

But I can say that Jesus got himself in hot water a lot of times precisely because he would not condemn, fight back, or hold a grudge. The only instance where he was confronted with a capital case, he let the woman off (John 8). When the people wanted him to overthrow Roman oppression (and it was nasty...remember the slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem?) he told them to put away their swords. And with the few breaths he could muster from his agony on the cross, he chose to forgive the unrepentant brutes who mocked, tortured and killed him.

If Christianity means anything for real life, we have got to really wrestle with this behavior of Jesus and not just revert to the wipe-out-your-enemies implications of the Conquest of Canaan.

Jesus said, "Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you." He meant real enemies...the kind that hunt you down and kill you, not the woman who thinks you're too fat. He meant real persecution...the kind that denies your rights and steals your humanity, not the person who always shuts you down at meetings.

We might not understand it or like it; we might find it incredibly difficult to do or even think about. But forgiveness is a central teaching of the Christian's what the Cross is all about...and we can't just pretend it's not there.

So I applaud your willingness to raise it in your posts, despite the attacks. Our world will get no better until forgiveness is both better understood and more widely practiced.

At 2:27 AM, Teresa said...

Anne, you have a way of putting things as to not offend people, I think. I try, but I seem to ask the questions wrong or something. I tried to ask questions to get people to think and instead of answering the question, they still had their boxing gloves on. I'm not going there for awhile. I guess I'll just have to learn 'a new thing' as I've done time and time again. Hey thanks SO much!


Post a Comment

<< Home