In Theo Hoekstra’s latest missive filed under Your Place of Worship (Coast Reporter, Jan. 18), he asks, “A merciless bully? A self-obsessed merciless bully? Who sees God that way?” A strange question coming from a pastor since it is, in fact, the Old Testament that sees God that way.
Tangentially, I suspect that alleged Christians who favour repeatedly deferring to the Old Testament also see God that way. Isn’t the New Testament referred to as such exactly because it offers a radically different view of God from that of the Old Testament?
Mr. Hoekstra then offers an accurate assertion, that it is written in 1 John that “God is love,” followed immediately by reinterpreting this statement to mean — not that God is love — but that “love is central to his (sic) character.”
Mr. Hoekstra specifically uses the phrase “in other words,” as though his interpretation should take precedence over — or at least carry equal weight with — what is actually written in the Bible. Nowhere in 1 John, nor in the second or third epistle, does the author qualify his original assertion. In fact, he emphasizes it by stating it twice (4:8 and 4:16).
Mr. Hoekstra's practice of “reinterpreting” appears to be the major source of the numerous theological errors that have appeared with disturbing frequency throughout his missives. I’d like to encourage him to reflect on the following quote from Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation:
At no time in the spiritual life is it more necessary to be completely docile and subject to the most delicate movements of God’s will and His grace than when you try to share the knowledge of His love with other men. It is much better to be so diffident that you risk not sharing it with them at all, than to throw it all away by trying to give it to other people before you have received it yourself.