Jeff Turner is another modern-day prophet. His incisive logic and clear thought processes, combined with the heart of a true seeker after God, make him one of the most formidable minds in the modern Grace movement. Here’s a piece of his from Facebook from a couple of days ago that speaks an upbuilding lesson. It’s a bit long, but so well worth the read.
“The pursuit of a wholly secular society is a pursuit that could not be had if the holy and the sacred did not exist, even if only in the mind of the pursuers. I don’t mean that they actually believe in the divine, but that the pursuit of what is the opposite of the sacred is still to pursue something that exists in the same world as the sacred, and without the sacred the pursued object or ideal would be undefinable. So the pursuit of the wholly secular often ends with the holy-secular, as one requires the other in order for either to exist conceptually. A true secularism would be one that did not derive it’s not identity from non-God, but simply did not even think in the context of a God whatsoever.
“In the same way, the very concept of grace which is so popular today is one that tells people that God is kind, loving, merciful and forgiving; that he is no longer angry, wrathful, violent or holding our sins against us. There is a key word in the former sentence, however, that exposes the chink in this ideology’s armor: anymore.
“To say that God is kind, loving, merciful and forgiving because he is *no longer* angry, wrathful, violent or holding our sins against us is to say that God once was this way. It also usually follows that God is only not this way as it concerns believers in Jesus, but for all others he is still very much angry, wrathful, etc. This “sort” of grace, then, can only exist or even be proclaimed as the solution to a very real problem. There really is an angry God in the universe, but if you come within the confines of this very particular belief system you can be saved from this. So, while it touts the idea of a loving, gracious God, it still very much needs the angry God to exist for some, or to have existed in the past, in order to have any sort of identity.
“For me, the concept of grace led me out of the dungeon of performance, self-hatred and that never ending quest to turn God’s frown upside down, and it truly felt like freedom for a season. But soon I hit a wall. Have you ever seen the Truman Show? Do you remember that almost final scene where Truman has escaped the island on which he lived, overcame a storm at sea, and is heading into what he thinks is open waters and open skies? Do you remember what happens next? His boat crashes into that “open blue sky” and he realizes that it is simply the end of the set on which his pseudo-life had been filmed.
“What’s interesting though is that before hitting the wall, he really felt that he had broken away from the false and that he was now experiencing freedom! He had lost relationships, faced storms and overcome his fears, and he was in a place of peace, serenity and freedom! And then suddenly his illusion of freedom was shattered when he realized that there are layers to freedom. It isn’t all instant, and sometimes one bad idea leads you away from a worse idea, until you finally hit a wall and can escape altogether.
“This is what my experience with the popular form of grace was like. It truly felt like freedom and had cost me a lot to pursue it, and I eventually I came to a place where I felt like the fighting was behind me and it had all paid off. Then I suddenly realized that while I was freer than I had been before, it was still an illusory form of freedom.
“The wall I hit was the reality that the God this belief system claimed to liberate me from depended on this same God for its existence. If there were not an angry and wrathful God, the message had no power. Like the secular depends on the sacred, and so is never truly free from the sacred, so “grace” depends on an angry, perfection-demanding deity, and without it has no existence of its own.
“This was my “blind leading the blind” moment. While, yes, the blind can’t lead the blind, and a bad idea can’t lead you to freedom, it can at least drag you into a ditch so you can realize that in all of your wandering you weren’t actually going anywhere. As far as Truman felt he may have sailed from bondage, he was still very much a slave, and so long as the God of anger and wrath existed, even in a domesticated or medicated form, I was still beneath his tyranny.
“Freedom came when I hit the wall, and realized that the concept of God peddled in so many religious systems just does not exist at all. It isn’t that Jesus saves us from him, or that he hides us from him in his own righteousness, or that he satiates his wrath by volunteering to die beneath it in our place. It’s that the “god” who condemns us in that way, and would require that sort of payment isn’t real. He isn’t a problem because he’s not a reality. The only God who can exist for the Christian is the one Jesus called Abba, who he also claims to perfectly represent.
“This is what Christianity really does for the world, I believe: it comes not to give us one more God-concept, but to free us from the ruling God-concept we have viewed matters both natural and spiritual through since the dawn of time. Jesus leads us not into a God-filled universe, but a god-less one. That is to say, Christianity is less about the addition of another God as it is about a negation of all others, including the one we’ve thought him to be. It reveals to us that even the sort of freedom we thought we found in the discovery of what Jesus had done to deal with this God’s attitude toward our sins was a form of bondage. So long as that sort of God exists in our minds, it does not matter whether we call him Yahweh or Ba’al, we are slaves. We need to be freed from it altogether, that we might learn to live in an entirely new way.
“Because I’ve come to understand that the God who needs to be pleased through my efforts, and punishes me when he is not, does not exist, I can speak of things like morality, my own shortcomings, etc., without it triggering thoughts or memories of the tyrannical deity I once served. That god-concept is now dead to me, and so the thought of being an upright, moral person no longer has anything to do with “works” or striving to make God happy. It is simply the way I desire to live because I’ve realized God has only ever been loving, and that as a Father, he loves all that he has fathered. That “god” is so dead to me that I do not even think in those terms anymore.
“I say a lot of this to explain why I speak the way I speak these days. Some who have known and “followed” my material for years have commented on a shift in the way I present things. Some, not fully understanding the journey I briefly covered above, mistake my talk about serving humanity, etc., as being a return to “works” and a system of striving to please God through my efforts. Those are simply terms I no longer think in.
“For me, God is only loving, and only Jesus-like. The idea of following this God, and living a life of others-centered, self-giving love does not in the least sound like a burdensome task, nor something that I need grace to free me from. Again, that God is dead to me. He no longer exists in my mind, and so I don’t have him in mind when I speak.
“I’d ask you, does that God still exist in your belief system? Have you been rescued from him through Jesus? If so, that means that, even if he is simply imprisoned, satiated, “moved upstairs”, or stripped of power, he still exists in your worldview. In fact, that view cannot exist without him. Words like “no longer” aren’t powerful enough to remove this “god” from existence, but actually serve to keep him alive. If this “god” still exists, then, even living in protest against him is another form of being enslaved to him. Thus, even if you feel free from him, there is still a sense in which you are being controlled by him.
“My sincere plea to you is that you do not mistake “freedom” for freedom. It might seem like blue skies, and they might certainly be bluer than what you once knew, but keep sailing. You might hit a wall, but don’t lose heart! It is the hitting of the wall that actually creates the opportunity for you to walk out of that system altogether and find true freedom.
“Anyways, this was long, and to those who actually read this far, you have my sincere respect.
“Good Saturday to you.
Here’s the original Facebook post:
2 thoughts on “Jeff Turner on Freedom”
This is exactly what has been building within me for some time now. The realization that the god we thought we knew and against which I have been rebelling all of my life never even existed!
This post has helped me to get a better grip on what is going on within me right now.
I am being called to step into the freedom and grace of Spirit and to make that the foundation for my life.
I have been wondering why I know in my heart that Love is the only truth, and yet my life still seems small and restricted.
So much of my time lately has been spent trying to figure out what to keep and what to lose from the usual way that God and Jesus have been presented, and it is very much like trying to put new wine into old bottles.
Grace is calling me to let it all go and abide in the freedom of Spirit, and to let that spirit teach me what God is really like.
Only then will I be able to speak truly with conviction.
Tremendous stuff, Dennis! 🙂