…I have now landed on NeoPuritan as the heart of this movement. Puritanism is, of course, personal zeal before the Lord for holiness and, also, zeal for reforming church and society according to biblical (and not ecclesiastical) teachings.
This got me thinking about the Puritans and specifically about the Puritan theologian & preacher, Jonathan Edwards (a hero to many) and perhaps his most famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.
…God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards (natural men held in the hand of God) as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease or abate that anger…
Which then caused me to think about how Jesus taught us about God the Father’s character, in the story of the Prodigal Son.
As you remember, in that story, we see the younger son who effectively tells his father that he wants to view him as dead so he can immediately recieve his inheritance.
The father’s response is neither to ignore him, punish him or even disown him. Rather, the father gives his younger son what he demands, his inheritance — the father no doubt knowing that his son will end up as a wastrel.
The son quickly burns through all his inherited wealth and sinks to the point of finding himself sleeping with pigs — particularly gross to Jesus’ Jewish audience— and though he believes his father will no longer see him as his son, he hopes that he might at least be a hired servant on his father’s estate. So he heads home… or at least to what was once his home.
Jesus shocks his audience when he tells them of the father’s response. He sees his son coming from a great distance — as if the father has been looking, hoping and waiting for his prodigal son to return. And the father runs to his pig-stinking, wastrel son — throwing his arms around him and kissing him. (While the son attempts to apologize and asks to be a hired servant.) The father then has him clothed in fine robes, puts a ring on his finger and throws a party in his honor.
Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’
Jesus’ audience, “tax collectors and sinners” and grumbling “Pharisees and teachers” would have all been shocked. This was not how they had been taught to view Yahweh.
I would ask, is this a story of Jesus showing us sinners in the hands of an angry God? Or are we all sinners in the hands of the Prodigal’s Father.
Perhaps a little food for thought in light of what’s going on in some parts of the NeoPuritan world right now.