You see why it is that anxious sinners do not find peace. They are looking at their own guilt and danger. They are regarding God as an avenger, and shrinking from His terrors. This will render it impossible they should ever come at peace. While looking at the wrath of God, making them wither and tremble, they cannot love Him, they hide from Him. Anxious sinners, let me tell you a secret. If you keep looking at that feature of God's character, it will drive you to despair, and that is inconsistent with true submission.—Charles Finney<idle musing>
Oooh, that's good. And that's the focus of too much "evangelism" today. Personally, I think it is the direct result of an emphasis on penal substitution and a misunderstanding of law as retributive in nature—thanks to Augustine and an overly heavy reliance on Roman law in the western church.
We need to start with the presupposition, taken from the biblical text, that God is love. From there we create our theology. Far too often we come to the text with presuppositions that aren't taken from the biblical text and formulate our theology accordingly. No wonder we end up with bad theology and a mad god! As one of my seminary professors was fond of saying, "we reason from the given to the divine." In other words, we start with observations of what we feel, think, and see and import them into our vision of God. Rather, we should start with the biblical text and let itdictate our presuppositions about God. What we find is a loving Father who takes the initiative in chasing his wayward creation—Augustine's hound of heaven as it were (see, I'm not against Augustine!).
Now I need to go do some drywall—and maybe lay some vinyl flooring in another bathroom. We open on Friday and although we don't have any reservations, it would be nice to be ready. After all, it might warm up enough for people to want to come north : )