Good Goats

HEALING: How Being Loved And Forgiven, As An Unrepentant Sinner, Healed Me by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, and Matthew Linn

August 17, 2017

From: Good Goats Being loved as an unrepentant sinner, as Paul was, has often been a healing and life-changing experience for me.  For example, years ago my German self-righteousness got set off by the U. S. border patrol.  One day, while we were in California a mile from the Mexican border, I was writing outside with Sheila.  We saw the border guards catch five Mexicans on the beach.  We wanted to reach out to the Mexicans in some way, so we went inside the house, gathered up enough granola bars for them, and went out to the beach.  When we arrived, the five Mexicans had their hands up in the air and were being searched.  We had just been in Mexico, where we felt overwhelmed by meeting so many jobless people unable to provide [...]

HEALING: Is God A Prosecuting Attorney Or A Defense Attorney? by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, and Matthew Linn

August 10, 2017

From: Good Goats The theology of Anselm leaves out some very important “good news” because it ignores other traditional and more compassionate understandings of the New Testament accounts.  For example, parakletos, or the “Spirit of Jesus that judges us” could best be translated as “our defense attorney who justifies us,” (John 14:15; 15:26).  Spanish conveys this well, since in many Biblical translations and church prayers it describes the Spirit of Jesus which judges as nuestro abogado, meaning “our defense attorney.” The New Testament has many stories of Jesus as defense attorney.  Two such stories are those of Saint Paul, (Acts 9:1-22), and of the adulterous woman, (John 8:2-12).  In [...]

HEALING: God’s Twenty-Thousand-Year Pout by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, and Matthew Linn

August 3, 2017

From: Good Goats My tendency to read the vengeful punishment language in scripture literally came in part from a common understanding of the teaching of Saint Anselm (1033–1109).  In Redemptive Intimacy, Dick Westley quotes theologian Walter Imbiorski who describes how Anselm’s thinking has often been caricatured by popular Christian teaching: You see, part of the difficulty is that most of us are caught up emotionally in what I would call Anselmian Salvation Theology, which goes something like this.  God created the world.  Adam and Eve sinned.  God got pretty damn sore, goes into a 10,000 year pout, slams the gates of Heaven and throws the scoundrels out.  So he’s up there pouting and about 5,000 years ago by and the [...]

HEALING: Reading Vengeful Punishment Passages Literally Can Drive Us Crazy by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, and Matthew Linn

July 27, 2017

From: Good Goats The time when I understood most clearly the dangers of reading the vengeful punishment passages in the Bible literally was when I was called to a mental hospital to see my friend, Bill Wilson.  Guards ushered me into his room.  Bill’s hands were chained to his bed and he had a bandage over the right side of his face.  That morning he had tried to gouge out his right eye.  When I asked him why, he quoted to me Matthew 5:29: “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your member than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” Everyone knew Bill was crazy for taking the first part of that passage, “If your right eye causes you to sin, [...]

HEALING: Jesus’s Response to Vengeful Punishment by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, and Matthew Linn

July 20, 2017

From: Good Goats Changing our image of God from child abuser to child lover was the core of Jesus’s mission.  Jesus was always trying to change people’s vengeful image of God.  Often Jesus tried to heal on the sabbath, or touch a leper, or forgive someone.  But the priests, scribes, and Pharisees would forbid Jesus to do these things because they interpreted literally the vengeful punishment passages of their Bibles which spelled out the consequences of such “illegal” actions. For example, in the story of the adulterous woman (John 8:5), the scribes and Pharisees want to stone her to death.  They justify themselves by telling Jesus, “Moses has ordered us in the law to condemn women like this to death by [...]

HEALING: What About Vengeful Punishment In Scripture? by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, and Matthew Linn

July 13, 2017

From: Good Goats At first I found it hard to believe in Hilda’s loving God.  I had grown up reading Matthew 25, about what God would do to goats, and other seemingly vengeful punishment passages in scripture.  For example, Matthew 5:29 says that if your right eye is a temptation, it would be better to pluck it out than to have God throw you into the fires of hell.  Such passages made God seem to be a child abuser, much like Good Old Uncle George. Assuming that what I had learned from Hilda might be true, I began asking myself, how do those who love us the most use vengeful punishment language?  Then I began to notice that those who love the most – grandparents, parents, lovers – often use the same words of vengeful punishment [...]

HEALING: God Loves Us At Least As Much As The Person Who Loves Us The Most by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, and Matthew Linn

July 6, 2017

From: Good Goats I was stunned.  What Hilda taught me in those few minutes is the bottom line of healthy Christian spirituality: God loves us at least as much as the person who loves us the most.  God loves us at least as much as Hilda loves her son or at least as much as Sheila and Matt love me. When Sheila and Matt most love me, they are not going to say, “Dennis, we love you unconditionally, much more than you can ever imagine.  But you really blew it.  So, to hell with you, but remember how much we love you.”  And even though Sheila has a mighty big purse, she does not lug around an account book to mark down my sins and what punishment I merit.  And if Sheila and Matt don’t do these things, could it be that God [...]

HEALING: How My Image Of God Changed by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, and Matthew Linn

June 29, 2017

From: Good Goats One day Hilda came to me crying because her son had tried to commit suicide for the fourth time.  She told me that he was involved in prostitution, drug dealing, and murder.  She ended her list of her son’s “big sins” with, “What bothers me most is that my son says he wants nothing to do with God.  What will happen to my son if he commits suicide without repenting and wanting nothing to do with God?” Since at the time my image of God was like Good Old Uncle George, I thought, “God will probably send your son to hell.”  But I didn’t want to tell Hilda that.  I was glad that my many years of theological training had taught me what to do when I don’t know how to [...]

HEALING: We Become Like The God We Adore by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, and Matthew Linn

June 22, 2017

From: Good Goats I changed when my image of God changed.  Most of us recognize that we become like our parents whom from early on we adore, even with all their faults.  We may not realize that we also become like the God we adore. Unfortunately, the God I grew up adoring was German.  My God was a self-righteous German who sat on his (at the time my God was all male) judgment throne.  Being a self-righteous German, my God could see all the mistakes and errors in everyone else.  If my self-righteous God did not like what he saw in others, he could even separate himself form them by sending them into hell.  And if my God could be a self-righteous German then no matter how many healing prayers I prayed, I would probably never change.  I [...]

HEALING: Why Wasn’t I Healed? by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, and Matthew Linn

June 15, 2017

From: Good Goats For many years the three of us have prayed for healing of life’s crippling hurts.  We have experienced profound healing in our own lives and in the lives of others.  But I (Dennis) finally came up against a problem in my life where healing prayer didn’t work.  Why not? I am half German.  Although I don’t want to stereotype all Germans, like many of my ancestors I was born a self-righteous German.  Like self-righteous “Good Old Uncle George,” who threw into the blazing fire anyone who did not act in a way he approved, I, too, saw all the mistakes and errors in everyone but myself. For years I tried every kind of healing prayer in order to be rid of my self-righteousness.  Although these [...]

HEALING: Good Old Uncle George by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, and Matthew Linn

June 8, 2017

From: Good Goats I (Dennis) grew up with an image of God that resembled Good Old Uncle George, as described by Gerard Hughes. God was a family relative, much admired by Mum and Dad, who described him as very loving, a great friend of the family, very powerful and interested in all of us.  Eventually we are taken to visit “Good Old Uncle George.”  He lives in a formidable mansion, is bearded, gruff, and threatening.  We cannot share our parents’ professed admiration for this jewel in the family.  At the end of the visit, Uncle George addressed us.  “Now listen, dear,” he begins, looking very severe, “I want to see you here once a week, and if you fail to come, let me just show you what will happen to [...]