Why So Teary, O Logie?
Robert Isaac Logie was born during the late half of the twentieth century in the Midwestern United States. His friends called him Logie.
When he was seven, the Sunday School teacher from his parents’ church taught him about the Genesis account of creation. That day, his class learned about the snake, the apple, and the fall. Logie thought God seemed a little too upset about the whole apple ordeal. I mean, he could remember plenty of times his parents caught him stealing an extra cookie (which they had told him he couldn’t have) after dinner, but they never threatened to kill him for it! Logie’s teacher told him that, since God is super-perfect, He can’t stand to be in the presence of even the smallest sin. That was why Jesus had to die for us. That night, when Logie’s mother asked him what he had learned that day, he cried. She looked at him sympathetically and asked, “Why so teary, O Logie?” He replied, “I don’t want to die.”
When he was twelve years old Logie made a new friend, Calvin Edwards. Most of Calvin’s friends called him Cal, so Logie did too. Cal’s father was the pastor of another church in town, and he took the Bible very seriously. Even at such a young age, the boys began to read the Bible together and discuss what it meant to them. One day, as they were reading Romans 8, the boys became fixated on verses 10-15. Logie was troubled, and again he remembered that god he had learned about in Sunday School, who he thought had so over-reacted about the apple.
He asked Cal what he thought the verses meant, and Cal responded, “My dad says that we are all totally evil, and can’t do anything good by ourselves. So God just picks some people to go to heaven and and other people to go to hell, but not because they have been good or bad. That way we can’t become proud of ourselves, and God gets to show how strong He is.” Now Logie was becoming really afraid, and he asked Cal, “But, my parents have always told me that God loves me. They say that God loves everybody. But if God loves everybody, how come He creates some people in order to send them to hell?” Cal responded, “We don’t understand God because we are only little people. My dad says that even though God loves us, He is also just, and in His justice He is glorified by sending people to hell.” Now Logie was terrified. How could he tell if he was one of the people God had chosen to go to heaven? That night, after dinner, Logie’s mother asked him what he and Cal had done that day. Logie again began to sniff. “Oh,” his mother said, “Why so teary, O Logie?” “Because,” Logie managed, “I want to know that I will go to heaven when I die.”
Around the time he turned sixteen, Logie began to develop serious doubts about whether or not he was actually a Christian, and about what it would even mean to claim that he was. There were so many things that just didn’t seem to add up. Now he understood that, at root, choosing to believe in God was choosing to believe in something that he could never completely understand. But, it seemed to him that certain friends of his (such as Cal) were asking him to believe in things that didn’t even make sense. I’m okay with believing in something I don’t understand, he thought, but I have no clue how to begin believing in something that I can make no sense of at all. For one thing, what he couldn’t make sense of was precisely what it was he was supposed to be believing in.
For instance, Logie’s parents told him throughout his childhood that God loved him and sent His Son to die on the cross for all of Logie’s sin (indeed, the sin of the whole world). Then, at around the age of thirteen or fourteen, they began to tell him that God was very angry about his sin and he needed to repent and be baptized. “Why do I need to be baptized,” Logie would ask, “if Christ already died for my sins? Cal says that we can’t do anything to improve our standing before God, and you say that Jesus loves me and forgives me and already died for me. So why do I need to be baptized?” To this his parents would reply “Because Jesus tells us to.” Again Logie thought of the Sunday School god and his funny rules about apples.
At another time Logie asked his parents “Why did Jesus have to die for our sins?”
“Because He had to take the wrath of God unto Himself. Since we have sinned we deserve to be punished, and because God is just he must punish sin. Christ took the punishment of God for us, so that we don’t have to” they replied.
“But,” Logie complained, “Jesus didn’t sin. So how is it just that God took out all His wrath on Jesus instead of on us? It seems like God was just angry, and had to take it out on someone before He could forgive us.”
To this Logie’s parents explained, “We do not understand God’s justice, because we are not God. We just have to believe He is just and good and loving.”
“I know we can’t completely understand the justice of God,” Logie said, “but our justice should at least resemble His justice, shouldn’t it? Wouldn’t it be odd if God’s ‘justice’ looked more like our vengeance than it did our justice?” “Also,” he cried, “if Christ took all of God’s wrath, why isn’t everybody saved from it? How come only certain people go to heaven?”
“We must believe, dear.” they responded, “We must have faith in the Word of God and trust that He is good.”
How can I believe that God is good when He seems to do things that any person would be punished for? Logie thought, Taking his anger out on the innocent, being “glorified” by the eternal suffering of so many people. In a fit of frustration he hurriedly left the room before his parents noticed the moisture in his eyes. As he ran away, Logie heard his mother’s voice in the back of his mind: “Why so teary, O Logie?” “Because,” he snapped at his mother’s phantom, “I don’t even know what it means to be saved anymore. I don’t even know who God is.”
At the age of twenty, Robert (having abandoned his childhood nickname) decided to attend classes at the local theological seminary. His favorite professor was Professor Johnathon Christopher Ostomos. The first class Robert took from Prof. Ostomos was a class in “soteriology” (which, he was to learn, is just a fancy word for the study of salvation, or the different theories about salvation, anyway). Robert was fascinated. He never realized there were so many different interpretations of what it meant to be saved! One theory in particular stood out to him, and it was the theory Prof. Ostomos called Medicinal Soteriology. Prof. Ostomos’ class made Robert decide that he wanted to focus his studies on the nature and mechanics of salvation, and that night he called his mother to tell her about his decision. “Why soteriology?” she asked. He replied, “Because studying salvation is showing me such a bigger picture of God’s love for me, and it’s actually starting to make sense.”
Medicinal soteriology, Robert learned, teaches that sin is not primarily a matter of doing something morally bad, but rather, sin is seen as doing something bad for you. Sin, in this view, is seen as a sickness, a disease, corruption. The big problem with sin is not that it must be forgiven, but that it must be healed. Of course, our sins must also be forgiven, but God forgives the sin of everyone in this way (likewise, we are also commanded to forgive everyone—even our enemies, and even if they don’t ask for forgiveness). The God whom Christians worship is the God who forgives a man even as that same man is crucifying Him.1 However, we must go beyond forgiveness if we want communion with God, because we are sick, corrupted, and dying. As sinful creatures, we live in bodies of rotting flesh, and such flesh cannot stand to be in the presence of a Holy God (such flesh in such a presence is consumed).
We must be forgiven, but furthermore we must be healed. We must be made whole. We must, in short, be saved. This is why the Word of God became flesh and walked among us. By becoming human Jesus brought divinity back into human flesh, and when He entered into a human death, He brought Life itself into death with Him, and death could not survive the presence of the Eternal Life. Like a lamp brought into a dark room destroys the darkness, so too Life entering into death destroys it at the root.
In the death of Christ we also have the final sacrifice of the Old Covenant. By suffering death, Jesus gave His Body and His Blood to us for food and drink, and by eating His Body and drinking His Blood we are able to bring the divine presence into our own bodies, and the Eternal Life into the life of our blood.
God has provided the medicine which conquers death, and all we must do is to accept the medicine. Those who do not accept the medicine of eternal life remain dead in their flesh. When such people die and go to be with God they are unable to receive His divine Love because their dead flesh recoils against it. In their mortal life, they never learned how to empty themselves in order to accept the absolute Other—they never learned how to truly love. In this situation, the divine Love is experienced as the very fire of hell itself—not because God cannot stand to be in the presence of sin (He became sin for us!2), but because sin cannot stand to be in the presence of a holy and loving God.
As Robert learned more about the narrative of medicinal soteriology, his mind became illuminated with a new framework for viewing all of his childhood frustrations with Christianity. When Adam ate that fateful fruit, he did not merely commit a moral trespass, but an ontological one. He ate the one and only single fruit in the garden which had not been given to him as a means of communion with God—he broke communion with God, and (since he was designed specifically for such communion) so doing broke his own essential being, or nature. Christ did not offer to an angry God appeasement on the cross, but to a loving God he offered a righteous life (righteous even unto death, as he prayed for the forgiveness of those who crucified Him). God does not arbitrarily create some people for condemnation, and He did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world. The only condemnation that exists is this: that Light has come into the world, but men chose darkness rather than Light because their deeds were evil.3 For anyone who chooses the Light, there is life everlasting; for just as death came to all men through the corruption of one man’s nature, so too life has now come to all men through the perfection of one man’s nature. All a man must do is to accept this grace.4
Robert now understood why he was expected to forgive all his enemies: because God has forgiven all His enemies. Robert understood that he is to forgive as he has been forgiven, and he is to love as he has been loved. He is to become Holy, as his heavenly Father is Holy. This enormous grace Robert now saw, this unconditional love, was so vast and perfect and ineffable that it was well beyond his human understanding; and it was well that it should be. It made sense. As he leaned back in his study’s armchair, Robert felt as though he were peering into the foundational structure of the universe, the primary mode of Existence, the communion of the Holy Trinity which holds all things together—Love.
“Why soteriology?” Robert thought, “Because the more of God I see, the more I feel His presence grow inside me.”View Sources
2. 2 Corinthians 5:21
3. John 3:19
4. Romans 5:17