#25 -The Whole Character of God ft. Dr. Jeff Bucknam and Ray Harms-Wiebe

 In

Theology & Preaching

 

Join Rob and his guests as they unpack how God’s justice and mercy intersect at the Cross. If you are concerned with clarity and faithfulness to Scripture in your preaching of the gospel, then this podcast will benefit you.

 

“God loves just because who he is, but he exercises his wrath in response to, to human rebellion, to demonic powers, to the presence of sin. And that comes right out of his holiness. This is love.” – Ray Harms-Wiebe

 

 

“I don’t see justice like God does. He’s eminently more just than I am and eminently more loving and eminently more compassionate than I am. I don’t want to presume to be more compassionate than him, by, by stressing one of his character traits at the expense of another” – Jeff Bucknam

 

Topics Covered Include

  • Preaching the message of the cross
  • Judgement and Mercy
  • Wrath of God
  • Holiness of God
  • Penal substitutionary atonement

Show Notes

 

 

#25 -The Whole Character of God ft. Dr. Jeff Bucknam and Ray Harms-Wiebe
BCMB Pastor to Pastor Podcast

 
 
00:00 / 46:49
 
1X
 

 

Transcription

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Jeff Bucknam:
The idea that you can separate the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in this plan of redemption is nonsense.

Jeff Bucknam:
And so any kind of talk we have about atonement has to involve all three willingly enacting this plan in order to display their glory and save those they call.

Ray Harms-Wiebe:
I don't think it's a true statement to say that God is wrath. He is love. He is holy. He is just, that's his nature. He is not wrath, but his wrath is his holy, determined response to everything that just honors and opposes him.

Welcome to the BCMB podcast, pastor to pastor. This is a podcast by the British Columbia Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. We want to help equip and encourage pastors, churches and anyone else who wants to listen in and be more effective in their ministry. This is Episode 25. The Whole Character of God with Dr. Jeff Bucknham and Ray Harms Wiebe.

Rob Thiessen:
Welcome to our listeners. My name is Rob Thiessen, this is the BCMB Pastor to Pastor Podcast. And it is a special, privilege for me to welcome today a couple of guests who, while they're well known to many of us but, they're pastors in two of our largest churches. And, you know, that's not a, not a bragging statement. I'm sure there's plenty of times both of these brothers would be glad to be somewhere in a smaller community taking care of a little flock, but that God has called them to work. And so between the two of them, I don't know whether pastoring a good chunk of our BCMB Mennonite Brethren community. So welcome to Ray Harms-Wiebe, Pastor at Willingdon Church and to Jeff Bucknam, pastor at Northview Church. And today, our topic, we're going to jump into a very important topic and it's very relevant to, to our times. It's not the topic of the Corona virus, which is on everybody's mind. right, right now. It is a topic of our season approaching the topic of the cross and how we preach the message of the cross, in particular, how we understand, how the judgment and mercy of God function at the cross and why it's important that we, we teach and preach accurately on these things. So it's our prayer that this conversation will help equip us as leaders to teach and lead in our churches in a faithful way. So as I welcome the guests, why don't I start with you, Ray. I'll ask you a question that I ask a lot of our guests. Tell us a little bit about the faith community that shaped your life.

Ray Harms-Wiebe:
Thank you, Rob. Good to be with you today. I guess the first faith community that shaped me was a Greendale, Mennonite Brethren faith community. So I grew up in a small rural community. And what I learned there was that faith had to be authentic, that if you had faith in Jesus, you needed to live that out in daily life. And I think of one person in particular that influenced me greatly was Rusty Reimer, our youth pastor. In fact, I think he's still my youth pastor because when I go for coffee with him, I feel like I'm 15 years old. Having said that, I really struggled to find my way to complete surrender to Jesus throughout my teen years. I didn't come to a place of full commitment to Jesus until I was about 19 at Capernwray School in Texas. And again, that small community shaped me in a great way, just around being in the scriptures and, and living in community. And I went from there to a very different community, which was Columbia Bible college in South Carolina. And I'm thankful for the biblical foundations I received there. I went on to Regent and then studied in California. And all of these communities along the way shaped me in different ways. And one of the things I'm really thankful for is that I was obviously influenced by the Mennonite Brethren faith family, but also influenced by Presbyterians and Methodists and Baptists and, you know, Anglicans. And so the evangelical tradition is rich. And the, the, the, the biblical foundations that I received early on and the encouragement to have a personal living relationship with Jesus. Have, I think shaped me like nothing else. And, of course, then it went on to, to Brazil. And being in a different culture, in a different environment, living my faith in a different setting also shaped me in a whole new way. Maybe that's enough for now.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah, that's great. That's, that's a journey that. Well, many people have questions for you. Jeff, tell us a little bit about your story too. Wide open door here.

Jeff Bucknam:
Yeah. Thanks for having me, Rob. Good to be with you guys. So I came from a nominal Christian family. 1970S American home, where everybody goes to church and then goes home and.

Jeff Bucknam:
forgets most of what was said. Although the church that I attended was a mainline Presbyterian church and there wasn't a whole lot of gospel content. I would say I mean, I learned to do better, be better in that. So, I mean, that did have an influence on me, probably negatively, because when I got to junior high school, I kind of was done.

Jeff Bucknam:
You know, I, I just didn't see the point in it.

Jeff Bucknam:
But the Lord drew me to himself through, through actually the ministry of an independent, I guess it be like an independent Bible church. It was really the ministry of a former football player in the Seattle area named Ken Hutcherson, who's just died in the last few years. But he, a guy who took me under his wing and invited me to his house, along with a group of other high school guys and really did a discipleship ministry. I was very influenced at that point. Just by the power of, of, of, you know, one to one discipleship or, you know, one person on a small group, discipleship really is something that I still believe in strongly today. I ended up working with my father in law, actually at a church in eastern Washington State after graduating from university. And I was a youth pastor because I had nothing else to do.

Jeff Bucknam:
And he had a big influence on me. He actually was a..

Jeff Bucknam:
He was one of these old, steady handed faithful pastors of a small church. And he did a lot of visitation, cared deeply for people and preached the word. And it was a huge influence on me. And I felt like I saw, I saw a steadiness in him and one that I hope to emulate in my ministry.

Jeff Bucknam:
Eventually, I made my way to Dallas Seminary. it's funny, Ray, I actually went to a Capernwray school that had a huge impact on me.

Jeff Bucknam:
Mine was in Austria, and that had a very big impact on me. I thought about going to Columbia because I got to know J Robertson McQuilkin a little bit, who was at Columbia, I think. Now you were there and this part of the Keswick movement. So I went to Dallas because my father in law was a Dallas grad and he said, you go to Dallas if you want to preach the Bible. I didn't know. Right. I mean, I had no idea. So I just did what he told me to do, which was a good move. I like Dallas, but I wouldn't say that I really absorbed all the things that Dallas is historically known for. But at the same time, I love the fact that they taught me how to study the Bible and teach the Bible. And yeah, from there I lived overseas as well, and in New Zealand and was also mentored in my early days by another pastor, Donald Irvine, who is pastor of a small church, very similar to my father in law. But I also had a. He had a real zeal and passion to see that lost people saved. And that was a huge influence on me. There've been others along the way. And, you know, Northview has had an impact on me, it was my first foray into the Mennonite Brethren. And that's had an impact on me and.

Jeff Bucknam:
Yeah. Thankful for each one of them. I mean, I wouldn't be who I am today. I see God's providence in all of it.

Rob Thiessen:
All right. Yeah. That's great. Thanks for, for sharing a little bit of your journey and that makes three for three of us were involved in Capernwray at different times in our lives. And that was a real grace tool to, to to each of us. I think introducing us to the scripture.

Rob Thiessen:
And so, let's talk about the preaching of the cross here. And I'm going to just start with the, with the, with the honesty around the tension of judgment and mercy that, you know, that we, we feel and and I think, you know, people maybe this is some motivation for people to, you know, come up and say, well, how could God be like, how could God be a judge?

Rob Thiessen:
How could God be wrathful? Even some versions of the cross that people are presenting like. Well, the idea that God would, would pour out his wrath and anger against his son, isn't that divine child abuse. And so how do, how do we deal with, with that tension and how do we respond to it? So take a, take a shot at that. It's something I know you wrestle with.

Ray Harms-Wiebe:
Well, I can start, you ask the question, how could God even exercise wrath? I don't think it's a true statement to say that God is wrath. He is love. He is holy. He is just that's his nature. He's not wrath. But his wrath is his holy, determined response to everything that dishonors and opposes him. God, God loves just because who he is, but he exercises his wrath in response to, to human rebellion, to demonic powers, to the presence of sin. And that comes right out of his holiness. This is love. I heard one theologian say that, you know, when, when we suffer injustice, our visceral response is his lament. And. Another, that that's our visceral response quite often.

Ray Harms-Wiebe:
But God's visceral response to, to injustice and evil is his wrath and it's his statement. You know, this cannot continue. Things cannot continue as they are.

Ray Harms-Wiebe:
So go ahead.

Rob Thiessen:
So you're saying it's something, wrath is his expression, and it's not something that we're saying, well, this is inherent to his character, the way we say his love is inherent to, you know, his character. The Bible says that God is love. It doesn't say that God is wrath, but wrath is his righteous and just response. Jeff, how, how, how have you thought about it or expressed this?

Jeff Bucknam:
Yeah, I mean, the phrasing that I often use when we talk about that kind of thing, what Ray's tried to rightly express is that God's wrath is an extension of his or it's a, it's an outcome of his justice. And so God's justice is his, his character trait. He's, he's just, he's righteous. You know, whenever I face this question and we do frequently these days, I am reminded of um. Do you guys remember that movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles? I don't know if I should or.. It was funny OK. Steve Martin and I think Michael Caine or some anyway. There's this character. They were scam artists. And the character that they had created, that was kind of their way out of, of eventually marrying the women that they, that they were scamming. And his name was Ruprecht. Rubrecht was a mess. He was like a fake character who Steve Martin kind of played. And he had a, who was dangerous, had a cork on the end of his fork and would stab himself in the eye with it and run around. I mean, he acted like a two year old.

Jeff Bucknam:
And. I often think about the way that we, we treat God is that he is, there's a he's got a little Ruprecht in him, for us. I mean, we like certain character traits of God. And they're, they're wonderful, we glory in them. And we think, oh, God's love is so fantastic. And look at his mercy and look at his grace.

Jeff Bucknam:
And when you ask a community group question, to describe God. Those are the ones you're going to put up on your little white board. What they're not going to talk about usually is God's justice and its expression and his, his wrath. And yet those things are just as true of God's character as his love is. And I don't think that we have the freedom to just put Ruprecht up in the, up in the, in the attic because we don't like certain aspects of his character.

Jeff Bucknam:
I would actually say that God, by definition, every aspect of his character is equally beautiful.

Jeff Bucknam:
So for us to favor his love over his justice, I think is, is actually quite sinister because God's justice is just as beautiful and holy as his, as his, love is. And I, my goal in my, my ministry for years is basically to, to introduce people to the whole God and glory in the whole God and every part of his character and see how they fit together. And they do fit together. And so I usually don't, I don't like the image of the even, even we say there's a tension. I don't even know if I want to use tension. I think they're equally wonderful things. And that's hard for me. I understand the God's expression of his wrath in the Old Testament, especially and some of the new, right? He's going to, he's going to come back with a sword at his mouth, a tattoo down his legs, and he's going to slay the wicked and leave them for the birds. So that's hard. The hard thing to, to understand. But yet, at the same time, I don't. I don't see justice like God does. He's eminently more just than I am and eminently more loving and eminently more compassionate than I am. I don't want to presume to be more compassionate than him, by, by stressing one of his character traits at the expense of another.

Rob Thiessen:
I think that's, that is a way that we respond. I think as pastors, there's a lot of, there are aspects of the character of God that did that. We don't understand. But I think I've often said to people, as, you know, one thing that the Bible is very clear that God is just he is fair. Nobody will stand before him one day and say this wasn't fair. It just isn't going to happen because God is just and will always do justly. And then that's, that's letting God be God and not compromising or putting us in his place.

Jeff Bucknam:
I think that's what's interesting to me, Rob, is that, that we, we, we struggle with things that the biblical characters didn't seem to struggle with, certain aspects. And that probably is more a result in it should should indicate more a result of our cultural lenses than it does anything else. I don't see any of the characters in the Old Testament apologizing for God's wrath. I don't, I don't see that in the new testament. I just don't. Jesus himself doesn't seem to have a problem talking about the wrath of God that will be displayed against his enemies.

Ray Harms-Wiebe:
And I agree with Jeff there that I think that we are much more influenced by our culture than we would like to admit. Like, even when I'm most self-aware, you know, I think that I just have to admit that I'm influenced more than I would like to be by the culture around me.

Ray Harms-Wiebe:
And I experienced this just a few weeks ago, and we've been going through the Book of Revelation, Revelation 4 through 11 the last number of months, great prep, actually, for Covid19. And there were some chapters which focus primarily on the exercise of God's wrath. And I found myself struggling at points to just preach those chapters with their full force. I found myself wanting to slip in a word of comfort here and there.

Ray Harms-Wiebe:
And it's not that we shouldn't, you know, be full of grace in our preaching, but we also cannot water down the truth of the word of God.

Ray Harms-Wiebe:
And along the way, I found this wonderful quote from Miroslav Volf, which I think fits in your, Croatian theologian, he writes this in his book, Free of Charge, Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace. Well, just, just a couple of lines, he says, "I used to think that wrath was unworthy of God, isn't God love? Shouldn't divine love be beyond wrath? God is love. And God loves every person and every creature. That's exactly why God is wrathful against some of them." Then he talks about his resistance to the idea of God's wrath, just being blown away when Yugoslavia went through its civil war. And after seeing what happened in Rwanda and of course, we could go to examples, Around the world, and then he writes, "But by doting on the perpetrators in a grand" no, I'm sorry. "Though I used to complain about the indecency of the idea of God's wrath, I came to think that I would have to rebel against a God who wasn't wrathful at the sight of the world's evil. God isn't wrathful in spite of being love, God, his wrathful because he is love."

Ray Harms-Wiebe:
And so I think, when we are influenced by the culture around us, we come to see God's justice in a twisted way, as Jeff said. We begin to struggle with the exercise of God's wrath, his judgments. We want God to be, to be good, to be loving, to be present. And at the same time, we want him to be tolerant. And tolerance is actually not love. It's the opposite of love. An apathetic response toward injustice, evil, sin, an indifferent response is actually the opposite of love. And it's just hard for us to actually let that truth sink deep into our souls and say, yeah, that's true. But when God does not judge, he's actually not being loving. He's being indifferent, he's being apathetic. He's actually saying to us, I really don't care.

Rob Thiessen:
And that's good.

Rob Thiessen:
That's good. It sounds better when Miroslav Wolf says it, though, and I wonder, the way I see it. That's it. That's good.

Rob Thiessen:
Let's just talk about the preaching now of the cross as really, you know, the nexus, where God's righteous wrath against sin is poured out in his love and mercy are demonstrated so powerfully. So Jeff, talk a little bit about, the scripture presents different perspectives on the work of Christ on the cross. Why is substitutionary atonement, penile substitutionary atonement, Maybe you want to unpack that a bit. Why is that teaching so central, important to us? And you know what? We're asking this question also in the context of, of authors that are pushing, you know, a view of the cross and the atonement that like a nonviolent view. Gregory Boyd's written a whole series of books, very prolific author, brilliant man, exploring, you know, a lot of unusual pathways of theology. But, but talk a little, little bit about that, the work of the cross and why this is important.

Jeff Bucknam:
Yeah.

Jeff Bucknam:
You know, most people would agree with that concept of sub,substitutionary atonement, I don't really think I've come across too many people who's, who struggled with the idea of substitutionary atonement. They usually want to stress that it's one of many. One of many uses, moral influence theory of the atonement, there's a governmental theory of the atonement. Right. There's Christus Victor, which is a for those who aren't well acquainted with that. It's the belief that Jesus won the power over all, the all the power. He won the victory over all the powers.

Jeff Bucknam:
And then,then people will agree with substitution, it's the penal part that they're not as, as keen on. And we use that, penal penalty. Right. We call our law the penal code. And because it, it carries with it a judgment that put you in jail or something like that. That's the part that people struggle with. And even if they struggle with it, they usually want to say, OK, I'm OK with even penal substitutionary atonement. But I don't believe that the penalty is retributive. I believe the penalty is restorative. That God is always restorative. And so ultimately really does come down to a question of the very things we just talked about is, is God right and just, to judge people. Is he right and just to judge people infinitely. Is he right and just to judge people with the wisdom that he has, or should he not? I believe, of course, that Penal Substitutionary Atonement is a, is a central piece of the atonement.

Jeff Bucknam:
I don't think the others work without it. I don't think Jesus can win a victory unless he has done it for us. Right. He needs to do it on our behalf. And so there needs to be a substitutionary aspect of it. And I don't think God remains just if he doesn't have a penalty. I think that all of us feel that way.

Jeff Bucknam:
In fact, as Ray was talking a minute ago. I was thinking to myself about some movies that I've seen recently or TV shows that have Nazi's in them.

Jeff Bucknam:
And, you know, Nazis are the embodiment of everything, everything evil and every movie I've ever seen with the Nazis in them, toward the end of the film, they portray the evil the Nazis did. And then toward the end of the film or middle of the film, you're so incensed inside of you at what, what has happened here. You want. You want. You want justice. You want somebody to come and stop this from happening and hold them to account for what they've done. And that's righteous. That's that's right. That's exactly what it is. What kind of judge is one that says it's no big deal? Right. Boiled those children in, in oil. Don't worry about it. So ultimately, that really is what it comes down to, is God, is God to right in issuing a penalty, and I usually think that's the, that's the fight that I've experienced when I've discussed this with a lot of people who, who deny it at some level. They just can't think of God as a, as a God who would do that. One last thing. Jonathan Merritt. Do you know that name? He writes for the Religion News Service in the United States. Religion writer. The Covid19 thing comes along, and one of the things he said was, I cannot believe in a God who would let, basically allow Covid19 to happen to people. That's not that's not the kind of God that I would, you know, who would allow a plague to take place to people.

Jeff Bucknam:
I was like, oh, my word, Jonathan. You know, the Bible's filled with that God. Right. Talk to the Egyptians about that, you know, and talk to the Israelites about that. My goodness.

Jeff Bucknam:
That, that there are all sorts of plagues. Jesus himself was like, oh, you guys are bothered by that tower falling on those people over there.

Jeff Bucknam:
Well, you should be thinking is that, you should have been all right. So I guess it comes down to the character thing for me.

Ray Harms-Wiebe:
Ya, I've been thinking about that to, with, you know, Covid19 and obviously it is the effects of sin on on earth, human life. But why couldn't it be the judgment of God as well on the global population? If you look at scripture, right all the way back to Egypt, as, as Jeff said, and then if you look at the Book of Revelation that our church has been in over the last. My goodness. You know, the four horsemen running across the earth and there's, you know, the lust for a human, for, for power, for conquest. And there's warfare and there's famine and pestilence and death. And, yeah, you know, God does judge and he judges in many different ways. He exercises his judgment in many different ways. And that's because he wants people to wake up. His intent is that people repent and turn to him. I agree with something that Jeff said earlier, that, you know, penal substitutionary atonement is at the center of what Jesus is accomplishing on the cross. It's like the spinal cord. I don't know if that's the right analogy, but I often think of it that way.

Ray Harms-Wiebe:
It's the spinal cord. Yes. You know, I do believe in Christus Victor. Jesus's triumphing over the powers of sin, death, the evil one. Without a doubt. And we celebrate that in our Easter series is going to be entitled The Victory. So we're going to celebrate that victory. But we wouldn't be celebrating the victory if Jesus had not paid the price for our sins. The price we could never pay if he had not taken the punishment that we so rightly deserve. Right. And that's at the core of the gospel. Jesus came and died because God takes sin seriously and and loves us. And did the, you know, we see in Jesus, the ultimate act of love in order for our sin to be paid for, for us to be restored to relationship with him, reconciled with him. If, if Jesus didn't have to do that, then there was really no reason for him to come. Why would Jesus come? And what would be the purpose is if, if, if he didn't have to do something that we could never do for ourselves.

Jeff Bucknam:
And your doctrine of atone, atonement needs to make sure that it had to be God himself. Exactly. And because if you don't, then this gets into all sorts of questions about the nature of hell and all these sorts of, these sorts things, all, you know, theology is an Eco-System. And so what you do with atonement, is what you're going to do with the nature of hell and other things. So what is Jesus' experience on the cross? What what is the punishment? So you decide that, that, you know, hell is less than, less than, you know, infinite.

Jeff Bucknam:
You've basically established that you can, you could have had a really good. The Aryans were right. You could have a really good guy pay the price, but not....

Jeff Bucknam:
He wouldn't have to be infinite, infinitely worthy. So, yeah, you know, I, saying that I've, I've heard repeatedly that I think is that really explains the theory of atonement well, is that, the atonement is more than penal substitutionary, but it's certainly not less.

Rob Thiessen:
Can't be. And the other the other pictures are beautiful pictures, certainly.

Rob Thiessen:
Even, you know, the moral view that it inspires us. And Anabaptists have often looked at the cross as an example. And it is that it's a tremendous example for us, but we would be powerless to follow that example. We would still be left in our sin. So all in a discussion that we all are having. It does always bring us back to another fundamental assumption that we're making, that we're sinful people. And this also is, you know, in the, in some of the theologians that we're discussing are wrestling with.

Rob Thiessen:
Something that you hear undermined a lot of people, so, you know, really, why are we emphasizing that? Why are we talking that way? You know, people are good. I was listening to you, Bruxy to a, to a sermon series. And I get it. You know Bruxy, he's got lots of good things to say. I was listening to him talking. Talking about Genesis. He's going, even you mentioned, I don't know why people are always jumping into Genesis three. What is that? Why are we so preoccupied with the fall when we start with the beauty of Genesis Chapter one? You know, look at the amazing things. God created it good. And of course, I'm thinking to myself, well, I know why we start with Genesis three, because that's the mess we're in. You know, it's like when it's nice to have the story about how amazing it was at the beginning, but that's not where I am. I'm in a, I'm in a terrible state. I'm in jail here. You know, I know I'm keenly aware that I live in the fall. That's my state. And so it makes sense to me that that's the part where, you know, this story all of a sudden becomes. Boom. That's my life right there. Stop there. That's what happened. That explains the dilemma I'm in. And so when we, when you're talking about the cross now, let's talk a little bit about the revelation of the holiness of God at the cross, because this also has to do with why is God, why is there a judgment and wrath? And let's talk a little bit about how the preaching of the cross, the holiness of God and his beauty are revealed here.

Rob Thiessen:
Because I heard you say at the beginning, Jeff, you know, this is something that's beautiful. Every aspect of God is beautiful. And it seems to me that the judgment there's a real, that God's justice reveals something about his holiness to us.

Rob Thiessen:
And, I think you're also, what you're describing when you talk about the need to have an infinite sacrifice. It's because there's a. What makes this sin an infinite sin against God. What makes our sin so impactful. And it has something to do with his character. So how does it cross reveal the holiness of God?

Jeff Bucknam:
Yeah. So there's an old, there's an old illustration that, that theologians like to use. It's about. So it goes, it goes like this. If I were to go out and I were to go and rip the legs off of a grasshopper, you would probably think I was a little weird. Right. Go into the field, you grab those grasshoppers and you rip their legs off. You'd think I was a little sadistic and there might be something wrong with me.

Jeff Bucknam:
But if I were to do that with a baby, a human baby, you would, you would send me to jail? I would hope. So what's the difference? It's the same action. It is. It's the same action I'm ripping the legs off of the thing. And the difference is that one of those things has a higher value than the other. Instinctively, we know that. Look, we know that too. Rob, if I came to your house today and, coughed on you, it would be a big deal. But if I did that to the queen of England, I imagine it would probably be a bigger deal. I did it to Trump, I would probably dead, right.

Jeff Bucknam:
But we so, so there's a distinction between the quality of the individuals or at least the perceived quality, of the individual. So if that's, if that's the case and it certainly seems to be, then what?

Jeff Bucknam:
What is the travesty of a sin against an infinitely holy God?

Jeff Bucknam:
Like, how valuable and worthy is God?

Jeff Bucknam:
And I would say that he is more valuable and worthy than anything, ever, anywhere, that his value and worth is infinite.

Jeff Bucknam:
Therefore, the only only sacrifice that can be made that would suffice and be sufficient. Would be an infinitely holy sacrifice. Thus, you have a god and a man. He has to be man.

Jeff Bucknam:
In order for it to stand in our place, he had to be one of us. But he also had to be God so that he could he would be worthy enough to be a sacrifice. The blood of bulls and goats, you could do it forever and ever. It was never going to get there. You and me, dying, never gonna get there. It's not gonna be a vicarious atonement for anybody. Maybe one person. Maybe, you know, Rob, you're a really holy guy. Maybe you cover two people. I don't know. But Jesus infinitely holy God of very God can be a sacrifice that God himself planned before the foundation of the world to give to display. I think His Holiness and his grace and his righteousness and his love. It is when you look at the cross, you are looking at the full array of God's character. And it is, as you look at it, magnificent. Though I don't want to Domitian been diminish it in any way because I think it costs me worship if I do. Mm hmm.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah. Yeah. And all the, you think of all the most uplifting worship songs that we have. They, they center on the mystery of what Christ accomplished for us.

Ray Harms-Wiebe:
I agree with Jeff and what he's saying that, you know, we see the fullness of God on the cross. And I love what he's saying about God's holiness and justice and love and grace and all that he is coming together there. And in that, in that moment and in that act, that event, we. We don't want to diminish that in any way. And if we do and at the same time diminish the reality of sin and its full impact, internal impact on us. We not only lessen what God does on the cross. We also then diminish ourselves. Because the beauty of what God has done is that he is actually expressing the value that he places on, on us and his desire that we'd be redeemed and that we'd be restored to relationship with him. That's, you know, the whole gospel story from beginning to end, God reaching out and wanting to draw us to himself. And so when you, when you diminish the reality of sin in our own lives, in human lives, we are diminished. You know what?

Ray Harms-Wiebe:
What God does on the cross, at the end of the day, we're diminishing all that God is, he is no longer as holy as he is, as just as he is, as loving as he is, as gracious as he is. It all gets watered down. If I can just read another quote. The stuff that's happening today and just the watering down of the gospel. And it is nothing new. Right. Like, this is not the first time in history that people are saying these things. And I just think of Richard Niebuhr, you know, the first half of the 20th century is looking at the impact of the social gospel in his day. And he writes these words and it's just the lament. He says, "A God without wrath brought me without sin into a kingdom without judgment, through the ministrations of Christ, without the cross." In other words, gospel is completing completely gutted.There's nothing left.

Rob Thiessen:
Liberalism of the past. So sometimes when the critiques, you have people coming up and saying, well, you know, God, a wrathful God, pours out his anger on an innocent son. How is that? That's wrong. It's just abuse. How how do you respond to that?

Rob Thiessen:
And then maybe there have been times I know sometimes I've heard pastors present a kind of a preaching about what God did on the cross, not quite like that, but kind of a little bit kind of weird like like that, you know.

Rob Thiessen:
How do you guard against having, you know, really in an accurate presentation of, of the preaching about what God did to, pouring out his wrath on his son? How do you present that in a holistic way, in a trinitarian way, so that it isn't open to that? What I think is really a bit of a caricature, a bit of a strawman, but, but maybe there is some teaching out there that, that is inaccurate.

Jeff Bucknam:
I think it's, I agree with you that I think it's a strawman. However, I think it's a strawman that wasn't raised necessarily by the, but by the people who are critics of penal substitutionary atonement. It's actually, it's actually a strawman that is created by some of the illustrations that people have employed to try to describe penal substitutionary atonement. I mean, one of my least favorite ones that is probably most commonly you know, the bridge, bridge worker who, you know, takes his son to the park. And, the he's, there's a bunch of prisoners coming across the bridge. He looks down and he's got to lower the bridge in order for them to get across. But his son's playing in the gears, so he crushes his son for these prisoners. And that's what it's like for you. No, it's no, it's not. And and the reason it's not is because in that illustration, the son is a unwitting is an unwitting victim of the father's actions.

Jeff Bucknam:
And that certainly. Listen, I heard that, after a while you'd reflect on it and go. So you're basically saying God is a sadistic monster who crushes his son. That is child abuse.

Jeff Bucknam:
That's awful. That's not the case.

Jeff Bucknam:
God, the father, God the son, God the Holy Spirit, planned before the foundations of the world, that they would reveal their glory ultimately through this plan. And that's what you see enacted before you. That's why this son willingly goes to the cross. Even though the garden of gethsemane is there, there's a reason he says, not my will, but yours be done. He's having a real passion and real difficulty. But at the same time submits himself to the father's will because he knows eternally that this was, this was the plan. He, read through John, and you'll see it repeated over and over again. He knows what's coming. Even in the synoptic gospels, Jesus is striving toward Jerusalem. He knows what's gonna happen. So the idea that you can separate the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in this plan of redemption is nonsense. And so any kind of talk we have about atonement has to involve all three, willingly enacting this plan in order to display their glory and save those they call. So.

Ray Harms-Wiebe:
Yeah, I couldn't agree more with Jeff. You know, whoever puts out these abuse theories, Just needs, I would say just go to John fifteen through 17, read Jesus conversation with the father. How would you ever get abuse out of that? Like, it's just a complete perversion of the gospel. And I think quite often and we're all guilty of this, but we read our own agenda into scripture. And instead of actually wrestling with what scripture is saying, we're struggling with our own stuff. So I remember reading one book that was talking about, I won't mentioned the author. But he was talking about penal substitutionary atonement being child abuse. But what he was writing was really about the abuse his wife had suffered. It wasn't actually about the gospel. And so if that's your starting place, if you're starting with the pain of a person that is has suffered child abuse, then then you're just starting in the wrong, wrong place and you're going to land in a bad place. So I think if we read the gospel story for what it is, the beauty of it. Like Jeff said, you see Father, Son and Holy Spirit participating together in a beautiful way, as you do as you see them participating in, you know, throughout the gospel story, working together. And it Jesus, Jesus does choose to do this. And he does it out of obedience to the father. Yes. But he knew from before the foundation of the world it was going to happen. And does it in love. And so. Yeah. I mean, why would we ever want to diminish the truth and beauty of that event?

Rob Thiessen:
Good. Good. Well, this has been a rich conversation, guys, and we've been on a deep topics. So I've never done this on a podcast before. But I know, Jeff, you did a lot of theological work on movies and stuff and you've referred to a couple of movies. So in the conversation, so in the theaters are closed. But hey, there's Netflix and you can order online. So, yes, you've seen any good movies recently that you want to recommend to our listener?

Jeff Bucknam:
Wow. I did spring that one on you. You know what? As a pastor, you're always in great danger whenever you trivialises your very frequent, frequently, I have to say in sermons, I don't see this movie. But here's where here's the point.

Jeff Bucknam:
You know, there are several different stories I think that, you know, on. On Netflix and I actually watch Amazon Prime a bit more than, I watch Netflix. And I, I've really enjoyed some of some of the series that I've gone through. One was called Sneaky Pete that I thought was fascinating. And so if you if you have Amazon Prime, Sneaky Pete on there and it's, it's fascinating, there's some language. In fact, I think there's language in all of it about Sneaky Pete largely avoids all the other bits and bobs. But it's a, it's a basically a con man story. It's one of those stories like Ocean's Eleven, and all that, all the pieces sort of wrapped together at the end of the season.

Jeff Bucknam:
So it's, it',s it's pretty good, Ray, you know, you got any you have watched these days?

Rob Thiessen:
I'll venture into one.

Ray Harms-Wiebe:
Go ahead, Rob.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah. So my wife and I went to see, this is my daughter and giving a recommendation, we went to see Jo Jo, Rabbit, Yeah. And I was just like, you know, the movie started off and I thought, I'm going to hate this. Like, it's just, you know, it's kind of got this imaginary friend. Hitler's an imaginary friend. Craziest premise for a movie. But while it's unfolding, I just thought, what are they all teaching, you know? And it's really it leaves you wondering and it's got a lot of profound lessons. And I was, I didn't realize this, but the guy that plays Hitler is the guy that made the movie.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah. He's a Jewish guy.

Jeff Bucknam:
He's a Kiwi.

Jeff Bucknam:
Ok. Yeah. So he's, he's great. He's actually, he's actually one of the actors in the Thor movie with, he's the big rock looking guy.

Rob Thiessen:
Ok. Yeah. It was just fascinating. And, and I was also interested in it because there's a little stuff about Hitler youth in it and they kind of they poke fun at both that and but, you know, with my parents and my mother, she would tell stories about, because when she was in Germany, she was in the Hitler Youth and she would talk about how amazing it was, the school and the order and the structure and the marches that they did, watching. And I was like, wow, that's the thing that those people experienced. That was a very moving movie. Also watched Harriet Tubman a while ago, and that's a different historical movie. But it's also just impacted by. It's good.

Ray Harms-Wiebe:
1917 was great. If you are a Mennonite of any stripe, you will love it, because the point in the end is very much that.

Ray Harms-Wiebe:
What's the point? War. But it's an excellent war movie.

Rob Thiessen:
Ok. Yeah, we've been that's on our list too to watch on on Telus on demand there. Ray, now you have to pick something.

Ray Harms-Wiebe:
Yeah. I'm going to pick a safe one. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

Jeff Bucknam:
No, it's good. I saw it the other day, it's great

Ray Harms-Wiebe:
And one of the reasons I really liked it was that, like I was never a, I never watched Mr. Rogers when I was younger.

Ray Harms-Wiebe:
But I do, I did find like just studying his story to be quite interesting. And one of the things I really appreciated about him is that he sought to be present with the child that was in front of him. And when he did his, his program, he thought of, you know, the individual child that he was speaking to, to. And so for me, as I've prayed with people, you know, when you're in a large church, sometimes you have just multiple conversations on a weekend and it can just be a blur.

Ray Harms-Wiebe:
So to actually be, be present with the person that's, you know, right in front of you and also when you're preaching to not see the crowd, but to actually see individuals that you're speaking to. And so, anyways, it was it was fun to see the movie and learn to connect and move on.

Jeff Bucknam:
Like, it's the lovely redemptive story in that very, very Christian movie, I would say. And in many ways, it really is. Really?

Jeff Bucknam:
Yeah. I always recommend The King's Speech to everybody because I actually think it's the one of the best movies ever about friendship.

Ray Harms-Wiebe:
Yes, that is an amazing movie. Yes. Yeah.

Rob Thiessen:
Ok, guys, great conversation.

Jeff Bucknam:
And Contagion. Right. Perfect. That brings, it will bring peace to all of you. Do not watch Contagion at this point. Okay.

Rob Thiessen:
I look forward to maybe our next conversation, we can, we can have that face to face in a group larger than three. Closer than six feet from each other. All right. Bless you guys and your work and all your online work during this seasons.

Really great to chat with you. Thanks to all our listeners.

Ray Harms-Wiebe:
And we're praying for you, Rob. Thanks. Thanks. Well, yeah.

Rob Thiessen:
To the wider community. We'll look forward to meeting you again on the next podcast. Have a great day. See you.

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