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I read a past issue of Modern Reformation and read an excellent article on “The Law and the Gospel.”  In it Sean Norris mentioned about his past in the typical realm of relational Christianity.  Everything was based on stirrings and emotion.  I had similar experiences where I craved the emotional status of quiet times, youth camps and moments of crying.  While these are good, it was rooted in temporary experiences.  I had to do “x” so I could feel “y”.  However, it was the If-Then moments that I craved.  Little did I know that my efforts weren’t good enough.

My stirrings were meant to show that I wasn’t good enough.  The Law (pointing out my sin) that I strove against was there to demonstrate that I was sick.  It was the salt that was poured into the wound signifying my problem.  Fortunately, that was only part of the drama.

Part two dealt with the ramifications of my depravity.  While the Law was the hammer that crushed me, grace was the thing that restored me.  My entire being was the problem and my external actions that sought to live up to the standards was not the tool to solve the problem.

Since Christ died and rose again on my behalf (indeed for the sins of the world), the problem has been solved.  I have now been restored to the proper standing before God.  The free gift that paid my debt is not conditional upon my actions, present or future.  The Law points to the cross and the cross demonstrates the gospel (the good news) that humanity can be justified to God.

Norris explained that “the if/then conditional nature of relationships ends and because/therefore wins out.”  No longer would I have to partake in the “if I focus enough on God, then I will be at peace.”  No, it is because Christ died, therefore I have peace with God through Jesus (Romans 5:1).  What a breakthrough!  The gospel is the answer to any accusation we receive from the Law.

Thanks be to God.

I was reading an article by Michael Horton about American Christianity’s obsession with sentimentality.  We picture angels as chubby babies and God as this old bearded man.  Sometimes we are terrified of mental images that we create about God, but by and large, we desire a God that is tame.

While I believe there are bright and articulate spokespeople for Wesleyan-Arminian theology, sometimes I feel that those who emphasize freewill are trying to make God tame  It seems that pop-Armininian theology is about allowing me to choose my own path and it is glorifying my own choice.  I want to be able to approach God on my own merits, I want to walk up to Him in a more friendly manner.

What appeals in a Reformed theology is the emphasis on God’s sovereignty.  We do not choose God, He chooses us.  God is not about sentimentality, like a Precious Moments doll.  He is not predictable.  There is a scene in the Narnia books where Lucy realizes that Aslan is not safe.  He does what needs to be done but is not safe at all.  However, while he is not safe, he is good.  He can be relied on, even though he did not do practical things that Lucy might have wanted. 

I am glad that Jesus is not safe but is good instead.

America is a Hindu nation. That is what a Newsweek poll discovered last summer. Even Evangelicals believe certain tenets that run contrary to the very core of being Evangelical. I am not writing about disagreements between Calvinism and Arminian or Traditional music and contemporary music, I’m talking about a denial of key doctrines like the bodily resurrection and the necessity of the gospel. Yes, those same Bible-thumpers might place a high value on Scripture but interestingly enough a portion deny central mores to their faith. The Newsweek article writes,

Stephen Prothero, religion professor at Boston University, has long framed the American propensity for “the divine-deli-cafeteria religion” as “very much in the spirit of Hinduism. You’re not picking and choosing from different religions, because they’re all the same,” he says. “It isn’t about orthodoxy. It’s about whatever works. If going to yoga works, great—and if going to Catholic mass works, great. And if going to Catholic mass plus the yoga plus the Buddhist retreat works, that’s great, too.”

It comes down to the point that Bible-believing Christians as a large portion do not necessarily follow the key tenets of their faith. In regards to the trend within contemporary American Christianity, theologian Michael Horton would write,

On one hand, there is the tendency to say, as Luther characterized the problem, “I go to church, hear what my priest says, and him I believe.” Calvin complained to Cardinal Sadoleto that the sermons before the Reformation were part trivial pursuit, part story-telling. Today, this same process of “dumbing down” has meant that we are, in George Gallup’s words, “a nation of biblical illiterates.” Perhaps we have a high view of the Bible’s inspiration: 80% of adult Americans believe that the Bible is the literal or inspired Word of God. But 30% of the teenagers who attend church regularly do not even know why Easter is celebrated. “The decline in Bible reading,” says Gallup, “is due in part to the widely held conviction that the Bible is inaccessible, and to less emphasis on religious training in the churches.”

The American church, in many ways, has returned to a state of illiteracy. Emphasis is placed on nationalism, political action and culture wars instead of the power of the gospel. It is not just seminary students that reject historic tenets of their faith, but a large portion of laypersons (35% according to Barna). Hopefully evangelicals as a whole will begin to focus on the gospel instead of alien philosophy and rhetoric from the Religious Right and Left.  There needs to be a reformation within the Church.

I hope I am around to see it.

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