Theologically questionable tweets, part 1

September 25, 2012

According to this tweet, Rev. Mike Slaughter, a well-known United Methodist pastor and author, said the following [click to enlarge]:

On first blush, this sounds like a good Methodist thing to say. God has no need to actively punish us for our sin. Rather, our punishment is simply suffering sin’s natural consequences.

Unless I’m mistaken, however, one problem with sin in this world of time and space is that we often don’t suffer consequences, not in proportion to the wrong that we’ve done. Our finitude has a way of insulating us from sin’s consequences. We too often sin with impunity.

Wouldn’t it therefore be gracious on God’s part—a severe mercy—for God to use punishment to alert us, his children, to the harm that we’re causing—to ourselves, to others, and to our relationship with God?

In fact, this is what God promises to do. As the writer of Hebrews says, quoting Proverbs,

My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline
or give up when you are corrected by him,
because the Lord disciplines whomever he loves,
and he punishes every son or daughter whom he accepts. [Hebrews 12:5b-6, CEB]

I wonder if people who believe that God doesn’t punish for sin underestimate its destructive power. What do you think?

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