Friday, June 13, 2014

Hyper-Grace, and Are Relationships with God Like Human Relationships?

I was watching a couple of YouTube videos yesterday.  They were about the Hyper-grace movement.  I blogged about that a few days ago.  See here.  In that particular link, I talk about Michael Brown’s criticism of the Hyper-grace movement.  Dr. Brown says that it maintains that we do not have to follow or obey Jesus, for all we have to do is accept God’s free grace.  He also stated that one of its beliefs is that we do not continually have to confess our sins to God to receive forgiveness, for God has already forgiven believers once they’ve accepted Christ’s sacrifice for them on the cross.

Michael Brown said that he asks Hyper-grace people a question.  Suppose you get into an argument with your wife.  Don’t you feel the need to apologize to her?  If so, should you not apologize to God for your sins?  According to Michael Brown, Hyper-grace people usually answer that their relationship with God is different from their relationship with people.

Is it?  One preacher who is often labelled a Hyper-grace preacher (whether Michael Brown does so or not, I do not know, but I google “Hyper-grace preachers” and this name comes up) is Joseph Prince.  I was watching an excerpt of a sermon of his yesterday.  What I understood Prince to be saying is that believers should approach God, not as a sinner approaches a lord (which is how the repentant publican in Luke 18 approached God), but as a child approaches his father.  According to Prince, we’re in the relationship with God through Christ, and we don’t have to maintain that relationship through our performance.  So we have Joseph Prince, who is called a Hyper-grace preacher, likening the divine-believer relationship to a human relationship.

But there are Hyper-grace people who don’t think that the divine-believer relationship can be likened to human relationships.  Yesterday, I watched a video by American Wayne, who called into Michael Brown’s radio program.  American Wayne identified himself as one of the Hyper-grace people Michael Brown is criticizing.  American Wayne said that he used to be addicted to pornography, but the addiction faded when he stopped struggling and accepted God’s grace.  Michael Brown responded that he did not have much of a disagreement with that approach, but then Michael Brown went on to ask American Wayne his question: Would you apologize to God, as you would apologize to your wife after saying something bad to her?  American Wayne replied that he did not consider his relationship to God to be like human relationships.  God has already forgiven him in Christ.  Why, then, would he need to keep asking God for forgiveness?

Is my relationship with God like my relationship with human beings?  Do I apologize to God, as I do to human beings?  It’s something to think about!  To be honest, I pray more for strength to do right rather than asking for forgiveness for wrong.  That is, unless we’re talking about wrong that I genuinely feel guilty about, as opposed to what Christians, the Bible, etc., may say I should feel guilty about.  Yes, there is overlap between the two in my life, but I’m reluctant to beat myself up for being human or less than perfect.  Now, if I tell someone I love off, I feel a need to apologize to that person, and to God.  For some reason, though, I am very, very reluctant to apologize to God when I tell him off.  If I do apologize, it is so I will be on his good side rather than his bad side.  Sometimes, I may say, “Okay, I’m sorry for saying that—-if I am wrong about what you are like, and you are not really as bad as I think you are.”  Part of me feels that I am justified in being mad at God.

On a related note, I have a couple of things to share.  The first is a post by K.W. Leslie about the Romans torturing Jesus before Jesus was crucified.  This part caught my attention, probably because it resonated with me so much:

“There are a lot of people in the world, in our culture, who are really, really angry at God. Given the chance, they’d join the soldiers in smacking him around if they could. Doesn’t matter if he doesn’t deserve it; they’re convinced he does deserve it. He let their loved ones die, horribly. Or he didn’t give them the prayer-requests they begged for. Or he didn’t come through for them, and they thought they had a deal. Or their lives just suck in general, and they’ve convinced themselves a good, loving God should take away all the problems in the world; not have us solve them ourselves.  So this represents that: Humanity telling God what they really think of him. Doing to him what they really want to do to him, instead of love him. Jesus said they didn’t know what they were doing, Lk 23.34 ’cause they really didn’t; those who hate God, who find him frustrating, don’t understand him. And don’t really want to. They just want to hurt him.”

The hatred part resonated with me.  I hope that, with God’s grace, the realization that such hatred is wrong will resonate with me even more.

Second, American Wayne did a YouTube video in which he was responding to someone who felt a need for God, yet had a lot of fundamentalist evangelical baggage and was disillusioned with dogma.  He was wondering how exactly he should see the Bible.  American Wayne responded in a compassionate, understanding manner.

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