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The Gospel’s Freedom – Colossians 1:13, 14

The apostle’s prayer in verses 9-12 is followed by a statement about the Gospel’s effect on his readers’ lives.

They have been:

  • rescued from the power of darkness and
  • transferred into the Kingdom of God’s beloved Son.

ὃς ἐρρύσατο ἡμᾶς ἐκ τῆς ἐξουσίας τοῦ σκότους καὶ μετέστησεν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ υἱοῦ τῆς ἀγάπης αὐτοῦ, ἐν ᾧ ἔχομεν τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν, τὴν ἄφεσιν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν·

[God] has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (NRSV).

John Wesley (1703 –1791)

John Wesley (1703 –1791)

John Wesley comments:

Power detains reluctant captives, a kingdom cherishes willing subjects.

In those words, he captures what I believe is the basic contrast contained in this passage: a tyranny vs. a kingdom; Oppression vs. loving service. The Gospel of Jesus Christ (in this view) does not initiate a new faith-based tyranny — it is, in fact the basis for freedom from all human tyrannies — be they political or personal. As Jesus says in John 8:36: “… if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” God is the great AntiTyrant. Because God loves and respects and values each human being, service to God is the only kind of service that need not be tyranny and oppression. (And, if it has become this for you, something has gone wrong — very likely you are in an oppressive and cult-like fellowship. You need to find the freedom and hope of faith.) (more…)

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God as the Great AntiTyrant

I begin this post by calling attention again to a quote I posted on tbis blog previously. It is from the second volume of Wolfhart Pannenberg’s Systematic Theology.

But, I need to give it a little context. Pannenberg is saying that the idea that humans have a special place in the world because of their rationality has pre-Christian origin. He mentions Cicero’s statement of this idea. He goes on to say:

Yet, Cicero did not link this dignity, as modern usage does, to the idea of the inviolability of human life in each individual. This thought arose only with the idea that we are under a supreme authority that releases us from obligation to other powers, and especially from being controlled by other people or by society. Rightly, then, the Christian tradition sought the basis of personal dignity in our creation in the image of God. Our destiny of fellowship with God forms the indispensable premise of the function of human dignity as the content of a supreme legal principle and a basis for individual human rights, e.g., in modern declarations of such rights.

Systematic Theology, Volume 2, Chapter 8, page 176, 177.

Let’s stop and look at some of the details of this quote for a minute. The wording is important. (more…)

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