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Unknowing God: Toward a Post-Abusive Theology

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Try journaling as you work through each of these six principles so you can more easily see a pattern emerging. If all six principles are pointing in the same direction, prayerfully move forward, trusting God to guide you as you go. Some of the punches hit home and must be taken on the chin; others might be countered. But something more than a promise to do better is needed if the Church to which these authors and their readers surely owe a great deal is to live to fight another day. God also lets us get to know Him and His way of thinking through loving correction, or“chastening.” It’s written that the Lord chastens those whom He loves. (Hebrews 12:6) It doesn’tfeel good when I hear that voice inside pointing out something that I didn’t do according toGod’s will. Perhaps I inadvertently gave an angry reply to someone, and later God by His Spiritshows me how I was wrong, and how I should have done it differently. Jeremiah 9:23-24 ESV Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

Gradually, the part-time space we give to the Holy Spirit will be invaded by worldly distractions and the lure of wealth. We will be tempted with lots of reasons to forget God. What you can do: Take time to observe and learn about our natural world. As you do, ask yourself, ‘What do the amazing designs manifest in nature reveal about God?’ a Of course, there are many things that nature cannot tell us about our Creator. That is why he gave us the Bible. If you sincerely asked Jesus into your life just now, then he has come into your life as he promised. You have begun a personal relationship with God. ►If you’re facing a big decision, you may wish God would just write His will for you on the wall or speak with an audible voice. But He rarely chooses to make His will for your life that obvious. Instead, He wants you to be persistent in seeking His guidance.

As you spend time working through your options, consider the whole picture. It can be dangerous to make a decision based on one principle you feel strongly about while ignoring the other five. 1. Surrender your personal desires Paul, the early Christian leader who wrote much of the New Testament, prayed this for the church in the city of Colossae: “We ask God to give you complete knowledge of His will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better” (Colossians 1:9-10, NLT). John 15:14-15 ESV You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. Those who know God and those who don’t Both authors were trained in theology and engaged in delivering theological education during journeys into and then out of immersion in Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions — Nicholas Peter Harvey as a Benedictine monk turned tutor at Queen’s College, Birmingham, and freelance writer, and Linda Woodhead as ethics tutor at Ripon College, Cuddesdon, then Head of Theology and Religious Studies at King’s College, London, specialising in sociology of religion.

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You are ultimately the one responsible for your decisions, and you cannot rely exclusively on what other people say. They may have biases of their own clouding their vision, even if they are strong Christians. They care about you, so they will care about what you decide. God created you. Not only that, he loves you so much that he wants you to know him now and spend eternity with him. Jesus said, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." 1 Read Scripture daily, asking God to open the eyes of your heart and teach you (Ps. 119:18; 1 Cor. 2:12; Eph. 1:16–20). This includes learning to meditate on God’s Word and memorize key verses. Meditation takes biblical truth deeper into our minds and hearts with powerful effect. But that effect occurs only as you take to heart what you read and meditate on and become a doer of the word; otherwise you will not grow spiritually but only become self-deceived (James 1:22–25). The only way we can truly know God and have the “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16) is by being baptised and inviting His Holy Spirit to take permanent residence in us, just like Jesus showed us by His own example. Who better to acquaint us with God than His Spirit? See Preparing our hearts for baptism and How to test for the Holy Spirit. When the Bible talks about God’s will, it is usually referring to one of two different things: God’s sovereign will or God’s prescriptive will. God’s sovereign will

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