Odds and Ends: Imputed Righteousness and the Lust for Divinity

Even though I am not an open theist myself despite being called one recently, I actually like the way Greg Boyd makes me think.  Greg Boyd also has some interesting points I agree with in the book Repenting of Religion and The Myth of a Christian Nation.

One interesting point that I Do agree with Boyd on is his understanding of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Greg Boyd (Arminian, Open Theist) and Paul Vander Klay (5 point Reformed thinker) are on opposite ends of the spectrum in many ways but come together on Gregs Point on the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Greg Boyd Information from Paul Vander Klays Leading Church BLOG
For another link on this concept click here

(you may have to read the links to make sense of the rest of the article)

Greg actually got this idea of the tree of knowledge of good and evil from Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Lutheran theologian) of the early to mid 1900’s. I believe Dietrich got this idea from Martin Luther. The reason I say this is that Luther discussed two important concepts. The two important concepts from Martin Luther’s theology of the Cross are:

Concept 1) The imputed Righteousness of Christ (Romans 1:16-17, my new testament life verse). The only real and unbending righteossness and significance is the one we can have IN CHRIST.

Concept 2) A deep meaning of religious legalism and that the ultimate lust of man is a lust for their own divinity and a yearning for their own significance completely SEPARATE from God. (Genesis 3). This is mans original sin. Trusting in themselves and becoming their own gods. This is an equal slap in the face for older and younger Brothers (The parable of the prodigal son) and religous and irreligious people. Martin Luther on this point says the following:

Luther says that God does not save people who are only “fictitious sinners.” No, God saves actual sinners. “Luther often called actual sin, as does Scripture…spiritual adultery.”[27] Luther says all men have a “lust for divinity”: “No sin troubles us as severely as the lust after divinity. Of course, the lust of the flesh is also a furiously strong urge, yet it is only a form (of sin) and nothing in comparison with spiritual lust or fornication.”[28] All actual sins are attempts to deify ourselves. As Ewald Plass points out, “At the heart of every sin which our corrupt nature moves us to commit is the burning desire to recognize no one as superior to ourselves…Luther points to this as the common denominator of all actual sins.”[29] In our zeal to be our own gods, we psychological say, “I do not believe God’s ways are the right way for me.” Thus, at our spiritual roots, our actions are the result of unbelief in the heart- a blatant disbelief that God’s way is the best way. We are all indeed, actual sinners.

Paul quotes Greg on his BLOG:

The tree of the knowledge of Good and evil then becomes the grid which we impose on reality, our perception of reality, which we use to determine what will feed us, that which we can try to draw life from independent of God, and what threatens us, often others also in the same pursuit. The world then becomes a feeding frenzy of us seeking to draw life from idols. (I thought that was a vivid and powerful image.)

However, God wants us NOT to eat from this grid of this type of understanding. He wants us to eat from Christ (The tree of life) and to put down this grid contained inside our knowledge of good and evil and in how we see the world.   Paul goes on to say: “This feeding frenzy, this panic we experience at realizing that having cut ourselves off from the source of all life brings us to constantly assess everything around us through this grid. We assess everything and label as “good” that which we think will feed us and “bad” that which threatens us or our access to our feeding grounds.”

So we have a choice…. do we continue to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and judge the world through this grid or …. do we eat from the tree of life and trust in our relationship in Christ and through the Cross. This is the difference between being a younger brother eating with his Father at a feast or being an elder brother. This is the difference between being “In Christ” and only being a good, moral, upright citizen sitting in the pews of Church in what we perceive as a safe environment.  This is the difference between religious obedience and obedience that actually serves his creator.

I am going to end this with something Paul said on his BLOG

We so under-estimate sin. Think of all the wrestling we find God the creator, and Jesus his son doing with sin. Jesus talks and talks and does miracles and signs and on and on but hardly anyone sees.  [It] took Jesus going to the cross to deal with sin, what makes us think it will be [easy] for us.

There is an interesting link between the tree of knowledge of good and evil and Martin Luthers lust for divinity. I am not the wordsmith so think about it.


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