John Gavazzoni
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Beware of Your Presumptions
By John Gavazzoni

I won't impose upon you who read this article, the stories of the many times I have been found to have jumped out of the frying pan of some theological confinement, heated by "strange fire," into the flames of an equally, or even more scripturally untenable one. My experience has been that at the heart of such a syndrome is some presumption I held that made me vulnerable to---to change the metaphor---getting out of the ditch on one side of the road, only to end up in the ditch on the other side.

There are few more classically representative instances of this propensity in church history than how John Calvin crossed the road from the ditch where God's will is made subservient to man's will, only to fall into the ditch of describing the sovereignty of God as it relates to salvation in essentially fiendish terms.

He did so because of being handicapped in his otherwise extremely logical mind by the pervasive presumption of his day that most of humanity has to end up in the "eternal" suffering of being hopelessly abandoned by God. Thus Calvin reasoned, since (and he was right in this) the effectiveness of the death of Christ was the reconciliation of all for whom He died, therefore, He must have only died for a few, because he PRESUMED that eternal torment was the destiny of all but a few.

The history of the empirical church on every page contains instances of such confusion. Each chapter in that history while tending to focus on one foremost crisis of understanding, looking at more carefully, one sees very fundamental underlying issues played out over and over again. But praise God, the process does, by God's sovereignty, become instrumental toward restoration through the elect of, and for that day and hour.

Lately I've become sensitized to an issue that has come to the surface in our day that fits into the scenario I've described above. It is the issue of God's Oneness. Brethren, as God gives us grace, let us be aware of our presumptions about Divine Oneness. One presumption stands out as crippling to an accurate understanding of the Unity of God, and that is that Divine Oneness is to be understood as divine aloneness.

Nay! Nay, say scripture and nature. How could one look at an acorn, and exclaim, "Look! Look, the acorn is all alone," when all around it is the evidence of many oak trees with branches filled with more acorns? Ah, what appears to be alone, has within itself a family of its own likeness certain to emerge as the one becomes many, for the many are in the one.

So also is the greater testimony of scripture, "Let US make man in our image and according to our likeness. So God made man in His image, male and female made He them." See, the creating One describes Himself by referring to "His" and "Us," and the one created by Him/Us is, in God's likeness, one, yet out from whom came another. There, so succinctly we have the description of God and His image using"He," "our" and "Us," and man as "them."

Everything about the Divine Nature resists aloneness, so much so that the Source of all Life will submit to death in order to not be alone, as all creation and scripture testify. Our presumptions, can be devastatingly blinding to the most obvious. Who can read Paul and come to really know his thought without being impressed by his awareness of the One and the many. Who can read John without coming away challenged by the penetrating insight of the Word which IS God, yet also WITH God. God is, according to the thought that the Greek carries, the One God, who is "toward God" and even "face to face God."

Would we deprive Jesus of the blessedness of communion WITH the Father? Would we deprive the Father of the delight of birthing the Son of His love who is One WITH Him out from the origin of Primal Being, but with distinction of Personhood, with whom He can commune in the ecstasy of perfect Love?

There is again, quite acutely, in the "air" (atmosphere) of the ponderings of the saints, the slippery slope of both ditches, the limiting perception that the only choice is one of the two ditches, the frying pan or the fire. It is lazily presumed that we must choose between a trinity of gods, and an all alone god.

Brethren, I have often counselled folks to look suspiciously at any theology that does not understand suffering as integral to the economy of God. Do not, in that same vein, seek to avoid the tormenting of the natural mind as it looks at the mystery of Deity, by accepting conclusions---whether consciously or unconsciously--- simply to relieve the tension that arises as full-orbed truth presses upon our minds. That tendency is akin to what Christians decry, the seeking of instant gratification.

John GavazzoniJohn Gavazzoni
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