Thursday, July 30, 2009

Here's What They Said

The determining factor of my existence is no longer my past. It is Christ's past. -Sinclair Ferguson

From this guy Michael Horton I've been hearing about on the blogosphere:
For Paul, such gifts are given immediately in Christ and worked out in the believer's life, while for many today as in every age, these gifts are the prize for the believer's success.


A gospel that "works" for zealous perfectionists one moment merely creates
tomorrow’s disillusioned and spent supersaints.

How 'bout this from the Internet Monk archives(the rest of the post is quite gleeful as well):

Martin Luther would have beat up your prissy pastor and poured beer on him.

How 'bout Luther himself:

You are an advocate for these most barbarous soul-murderers, who fill the world with hypocrites, and with such as blaspheme God and hate him in their hearts, in order that they may restrain them from a little outward sin. As though there were no other way of restraining, which makes no hypocrites, and is wrought without any destroying of consciences.
Or this:

Let us equip ourselves against the accusations of Satan with this and similar passages of Holy Scripture. If he says, "Thou shalt be damned," you tell him: "No, for I fly to Christ who gave Himself for my sins. In accusing me of being a damnable sinner, you are cutting your own throat, Satan. You are reminding me of God's fatherly goodness toward me, that He so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. In calling me a sinner, Satan, you really comfort me above measure." With such heavenly cunning we are to meet the devil's craft and put from us the memory of sin.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

C.S. Lewis on hell

Hell begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others . . . but you are still distinct from it. You may even criticize it in yourself and wish you could stop it. But there may come a day when you can no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood or even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself, going on forever like a machine. It is not a question of God 'sending us' to hell. In each of us there is something growing, which will BE Hell unless it is nipped in the bud.

He Said WHAT?

Honestly, it's as if I just read 2 blogs and then regurgitate what they're saying, or just link to it. This time it's Gospel Driven Church again...

I will be throroughly surprised if people all over the blogosphere don't start gesticulating wildly and shouting "Did you hear what he just said?"

Here's a touch, then go read the rest:
I still have some basic objections with the message communicated in the use of video preaching.... one reason against it that I haven't blogged on is this: A preacher on a TV screen can't be murdered.

I guess he wasn't kidding when he titled his book Your Jesus Is Too Safe...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Grace Does Not Equal a Sweet Tone of Voice

Jared Wilson has an incendiary post, including an incendiary clip from Mark Driscoll to close it. The clip was the subject of some "hand-wringing" as Jared notes in the beginning. I won't post the video clip and don't really have a comment on it, but I do have an opinion about the assumption of many of the hand-wringers...

Truth is stranger than fiction...a website( devoted to expediating adulterous affairs? I guess it was just a matter of time, but honestly it's hard for me to imagine the shamelessness it takes to bring an idea like that into reality, and to premeditate an affair to the point where you are using something like that. As if pornography wasn't proof that unbridled capitalism will legitimize whatever kind of depravity that people will pay for...but this isn't a post about political ideologies.

I used to want to say things like "where's grace?" in response to opinions like Jared's and clips like Driscoll's. I would have expressed that the love of God covers even such sins as these, and that the primary need is for forgiveness to be extended to the sinner. I would not even now disagree with those last two. My question now would be "what's grace?", not "where's grace?" In other words, what exactly does the grace of God look like for someone who is in the position of, say, Mark Sandford or John Ensign(pols who recently admitted to affairs) or better yet, a Christian pastor who has cheated on his wife?

In a recent post, I expressed that I believe the Gospel alone is responsible for sanctification, and I will hold forth on that until I die. But honestly, it would be nice if us "grace-people" questioned our judgment about what love and grace look like in a given situation as quickly as we question judgmentalism of the moralists. Where exactly to do admonishments like "now, now, God loves sinners; don't be too harsh; don't judge; remember to have grace; nobody's perfect"...etc, come from exactly?

Let's put this in perspective: if I witnessed a small child being brutalized and murdered, or dehumanized as a slave to increase the profit of some ruthless, money-happy dictator/pimp, what should my first reaction be?

" we can't be too judgmental, after all God loves this poor guy" ???!!!

Probably not. In fact, it could be argued that someone with a reaction like this is as criminally insane as the one perpetrating the sin.

The point isn't to apply the law so that people will obey. But to apply the law for what it was originally intended for- to crush man's poisoned and poisionous will. Death precedes resurrection. The Gospel that transforms is not simply one that forgives, but also brings God's character so close that sin looks like exactly what it is: despicable, repulsive, worthy of death, and deserving of being called into the light so all can see what it is that God hates and is doing away with via the Gospel. Are people going to get upset? Yep. Embarassed? You bet. Scream and cry and say "you're no better than me?" Of course I'm not, and may I be equally crushed and embarassed over the sin in me. So that I can be transformed. Remember the scene in the Great Divorce with the lizard on the guy's back? (no? well, go read it...) Let's correct a misjudgment that seems to have permeated some people's understanding: The application of grace = creating happy, comfortable circumstances (i.e. don't get mad) for the sinner.

To paraphrase one un-famous pastor I know, if walk out of the grocery store only to see my best friend slashing my tires in the parking lot, then hastily running off before he's caught, my first reaction is going to be anger, indignation, and regret at making such a person my friend. But when I discover that there's a bomb attached to my ignition, and that had I been able to drive the car, I would have been blown to bits, my opinion of that friend and his actions drastically changes. The only difference is, in the adultery situation, the deadly danger is something that I've done, not something that's been done to me. Honestly now, if your three-year-old daughter were running towards a busy highway, would you speak softly to let her know that she shouldn't go in that direction?

Is every word Driscoll said right on? Was his anger perfectly sanctified and loving? Who knows. Probably not. Does anger, raised voice, application of the law, and calling sinners "fools" and "unworthy" qualify as gracelessness? Not really. You need a lot more to go on then that, like say, the content of the rest of the rebuker's sermons, life, and paradigm. CEO says "people cheat because their lives aren't working for them." Wrong. People cheat because they don't work. And they need to be convinced of that by whatever means necessary, not consoled and given victim status.