Posted by: Jonathan Stepp | February 5, 2009

Computing and Imputing

“Daddy can I use your imputer?” Lewis asked when he was 4 years old. He had trouble saying “computer” and his toddler language got me to thinking “what would an imputing machine look like?”

I didn’t get very far in thinking about it, but it does raise a vague sense of the ominous – machines that ascribe attributes to human beings instead of computing human input. Machines that input data into us instead of the other way around.

Some people think God is computational. They imagine a solitary, perfect being watching us all and computing our “goodness” score. Much like the ancient Egyptians we imagine our hearts being weighed in a scale and if the weight of our sins is computed to be less than the standard set by the Almighty then we are safe.

But the Bible says that God is not computational, he’s relational. God is the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit living in a joyful relationship of love. And love, the Holy Spirit says, “keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Cor. 13:5). Love does not compute, as the robot from Lost in Space might have said.

The Father isn’t computing our goodness, he’s embracing us through Jesus in the love and life they share with the Holy Spirit. The Bible says “he’s not counting humanity’s sins against us” (2 cor. 5:19).

Since we’re human, not Divine, there’s no way we could ever get ourselves into the Divine relationship of Love that is the nature of the Trinity. So, the blessed Trinity has gotten us into their relationship – giving, i.e. “imputing” – their perfectly joyful life to us by adopting us in the humanity of the Son, Jesus Christ.

As far as machines go, give me computers. As far as my Dad in heaven goes, I’ll take imputation any day.

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