Dluxe's World

Monday, October 9

But for God's grace...

I've had a lot of things swirling in my little pea-brain that I'd love to post... It's just that I've not been able to find time to do it. Finally, it became obvious that I just needed to make time.

I recently stopped visiting/reading a well-known evangelical watch blog. I made the choice to 'quit them' for three reasons:
  • The authors of this particular site seem to devote an enormous amount of time to playing a twisted version of Six [Heretical] Degrees of Kevin Bacon. It usually goes like this... Pastor McGillicutty cites something intelligent uttered by Tony Jones (of Emergent Conversation infamy). Typically Jones can be counted on to be more than a little off-center theologically, so Pastor McGillicutty has effectively been exposed to the heresy-ebola virus and must be culled from the herd.

    No consideration is given to the validity of the quoted content or any such thing. And, increasingly, not even close association is needed to be guilty. If I quote someone who's book that was endorsed by Billy Graham in the 80s, I'm at risk. After all, Dr. Graham has gotten a little flaky lately, ya know?

    My personal prediction is that all of Protestant Christianity will be deemed evil-by-association within the year. At that point, their blog itself will have to implode for having quoted so many stinkin' heretics.
  • There seems to be an inability on the part of the blog owners to entertain a respectful disagreement with their position. It is, naturally, well within their rights to use their blog as a soapbox and censor any discussion... Still, I can't help but feel a little icky when alternative views are squished under thumb - especially when the blog in question claims to want to draw people out of error. It would seem that giving "a ready defense" to your position when confronted with a polite objection would be a better way to operate.
  • The last issue, and the one I wanna focus on, is the increasingly scathing attitude of the posts.
Christianity Today recently published their cover article on the resurgence of Reformed Theology (aka Calvinism) on the web. In that article, 'slight and short' Josh Harris is cited thusly:
[Harris] knew enough to realize he didn't like Calvinism, though. "I remember some of the first encounters I had with Calvinists," Harris told another group of pastors during Mark Driscoll's Reform and Resurge conference in Seattle in May. "I'm sorry to say that they represented the doctrines of grace with a total lack of grace. They were spiteful, cliquish, and arrogant. I didn't even stick around to understand what they were teaching. I took one look at them and knew I didn't want any part of it."
"If you really understand Reformed theology, we should all just sit around shaking our heads going, 'It's unbelievable. Why would God choose any of us?'" Harris said. "You are so amazed by grace, you're not picking a fight with anyone, you're just crying tears of amazement that should lead to a heart for lost people, that God does indeed save, when he doesn't have to save anybody."

As Harris correctly point out, I think that many of us in Christianity today - myself included, - have been guilty of having knowledge of Christ that is not accompanied with the heart of Christ. We know the facts, see how others are wrong, and then lash out with fire and anger at the sin we see...

Righteous anger is just that: Righteous. I guess I just question how able many of us are to keep our emotions in check. I think there's a very real way in which sin should make us angry... In meditating on the perfection of God's Law, the Psalmist says (in Psalm 119:53) that "[h]ot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake Your law." Our anger should boil up when we see a world that treats the loving God of the universe as nothing more than a punchline to a joke.

However, we also need to remember this: You and I would be the same way, but for God's grace.

There was nothing about us that made us worth redeeming. Our sinfulness was not less than theirs before God rescued us. Peek under the covers a little and we'd see that our hearts, subdued though they have been by the Holy Spirit, are still prone to wander back to our old ways. But for grace, I'd look at people like me (Christians) and wonder why they'd choose to believe what amounts to a child's fairy tale...

Paul was getting at this in Ephesians 2:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

I'm not so different from them... In fact, I was 'them'. I was enslaved by the same master.

But for the grace of God.

We must battle sin, especially when it is within the walls of the church... When we see people watering down the Gospel or marrying faith in the One True God with the lies of another religion we must respond! And that response mustn't be flaccid and weak. We should burn with zeal for the God who has rescued us...

But, that zeal must also be tempered with broken-hearted acknowledgement that those people are just like us. Sin is the enemy, and it has taken everything good about mankind and corrupted it. Our hearts must feel the weight of the sin that binds those around us... Our hearts have to break when we see people who are blind to the Gospel. We know where they are going, folks! Should we stand by and cheer now while people are being destined for an eternity in hell, or should we be moved to tears when we look at our neighbors and friends who just don't see?

C.S. Lewis once used an illustration of a small child making mud-pies in the slums of London, ignorant of what a holiday at the sea would be like. Think about it: You're driving to the beach for a day of sun and fun. On your way, you see a poor child in dirty clothes sitting in a mud puddle, glumly patting handfuls of mud back into the ground. What does your heart feel?

Do you want to jump out of the car and angrily say to the kid, "What's wrong with you? How can you be so stupid just sitting here in the mud? It just makes me want to vomit!" Or do you want to reach out, pick up the child, and take them with you to a world that is sweeter than they could've imagined?

The Gospel is not that we were better or smarter than anyone else. The truth is that you and I were ignorantly sitting in the mud and muck when God broke through and rescued us. When we see people where we were, we should remember and preach the unbelievable grace that picked us up and adopted us into a family as heirs. Our hearts should be broken and burning... Righteous anger may be there, but self-righteous anger should never pass our lips.

And so, I won't be reading much of that blog anymore. I'm already prone to thinking I'm something special, when I'm not... But for God's grace.



  • I saw a comment by iMonk once in which he referred to it as "Six Degrees of Brian McLaren". ;-)

    I've got a post brewing on the issue of this site (and ones like it). Still wrestling with it, and I'm still not sure that it's going to be a post that doesn't end with a question mark.

    By Anonymous Brendt, at 1:49 PM, October 12, 2006  

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