13 November, 2008

Is Christianity Rational or Emotional? The Prodigal God Requires Both

Often Christians find themselves erring in how they view their relationship with God in Christ. Some see Christianity as merely a relationship with God and they forget things like requirements, obedience, commands, and other biblical things. Too often, in the Reformed churches, we tend to make religion too rational. We do not think that Christianity has an emotional aspect to it. We think- head good; heart bad. We take a dogmatic and rational approach to God. Of course, we are to have a dogmatic and rational approach to the Scriptures and to the God of the Bible. We are also called to have a relationship with him- an experience of God. Timothy Keller touches upon this in his new book, The Prodigal God. Keller (in chapter 7) comments,

Salvation is experiential. A feast is a place where our appetites of senses, taste, sight, smell, are filled up. In John's Gospel we are told Jesus was in attendance at a wedding reception where the wine had run out too early. Both the bridal couple and the master of the banquet... were in danger of social humiliation. However, in his first public exercise of divine power, Jesus turned several large containers of water into wine. Amazingly, John the Gospel writer calls this miracle a sign, a signifier of what Jesus' ministry was all about. Why would this be his inaugural act? Why would Jesus, to convey what he had come to do choose to turn 150 gallons of water into superb wine in order to keep a party going? The answer is that Jesus came to bring festival joy. He is the real and true master of the banquet, the Lord of the feast...

Salvation is not only objective and legal but also subjective and experiential. The Bible insists on using sensory language about salvation. It calls us to taste and see that the LORD is good, not only to agree and believe it.. The difference between believing that God is gracious and tasting that God is gracious is as different as having a rational sense that honey is sweet and having an actual sense of its sweetness...

His love is like honey or like wine, rather than only believing that he is loving we come to sense the reality, the beauty, and the power of his love. His love can become more real to you than anyone else.

9 comments:

Droll Flood said...

God is not prodigal, Nate. He doesn't live wastefully, etc. despite what Arminians say.

backwoodspresbyterian said...

Thanks for this Nathan. I'll have to pick up this book for between terms...

Benjamin P. Glaser

Nathan Eshelman. Living a life unto the glory of Jesus Christ. said...

Droll,

I appreciate the concern. I was uneasy with the title as well until I read it. My thought: , "Well Keller, you've gone too far this time!"

BUT, He does defend his usage right from the beginning of the book. The OED supports his usage in this definition (now, mind you, it is not the first usage, but it is part of the word's meaning)

" b. Having or providing a lavish amount of a resource or quality; generously or abundantly supplied with. Also: extravagant or unrestrained in the provision of something, the performance of an action, etc."

Droll Flood said...

"The OED supports his usage in this definition (now, mind you, it is not the first usage, but it is part of the word's meaning)"

-One can then say that they fornicate with their wife because sex is part of fornication?

Nate said...

No, Droll. This definition IS one of the definitions. The word can mean wasteful or what I have added from the OED.

Both are meanings of the word. The prodigal son fell under definition 1. The Prodigal God falls under definition 2 in the way in which he seeks out sinners.

Anonymous said...

The word fornicate does not have the same breadth of lexical range as the word 'prodigal.' 'Prodigal' (cf. 'prodigy' and 'prodigious') means lavish (a positive), but also to the point of extravagence (a negative.) That is--abundance taken too far. The younger son in the story can be called 'prodigal.' But that is also what the elder brother thinks of the the actions of the father in bringing the younger son back into the family. The father's love is seen as 'prodigal' by the elder brother and the gospel of grace is always seen in the same way by the younger son. This is probably why Spurgeon entitled his sermon on this text 'Prodigal Love for the Prodigal Son.' I hope this helps understand why the word is useful to describe both the actions of the younger son and of the father in the parable.

--Tim Keller

Nathan Eshelman. Living a life unto the glory of Jesus Christ. said...

Who knew Tim Keller sits around reading seminarian blogs about his books. I thought that he would have more important things to do!

Thanks for reading Dr. Keller.

;)

Droll Flood said...

"The OED supports his usage in this definition (now, mind you, it is not the first usage, but it is part of the word's meaning)"

-One can then say that they fornicate with their wife because sex is part of fornication?"

I was using an absurdity more just to be ridiculous. I repose on the OED.
I am glad Keller at least took the time to explain his strange usage. He seems to be at least acknowledging that definition to not be in the normal usage.

ON A SIDE NOTE Roosevelt Island looks like a neat place, Tim.

relentlessgrace said...

Its on my Christmas list; I do not want to cough up the $20... though I am sure Keller will take a mace to my "religiousity" all for the better.

I am thankful for Clowney's sermon on this. The treatise that prompted Keller's book.

Your question, however, Francis Schaeffer answers ago and again in his "True Spirituality." Excellent read.

PS. Tim Keller does comment on certain blogs. When he does it is a doozy. on Justin Buzzard's blog Keller commented on the riches of Puritans in and for biblical counseling. I think you'll like that one.