- Telling the world about all the sins of the world against us?
- The One who is the Answer to our sins against the world?
Monday, November 19, 2012
Saturday, November 17, 2012
The discussion has to start with a Christian definition of legalism from the perspective of a Theology of the Cross. In my youth, I was taught that "legalism" was a very bad thing. I still agree that it is, it was just wrongly defined at the time. I was warned that not only telling people what good things to do but also talking about what bad things people were doing was legalism. I believed this for a while, but later realized the last half of that equation-- silence about what bad people were doing, stemmed more from the right-libertarian works of Ayn Rand than Luther.
I didn't gain a proper understanding of legalism until I started listening to the sermons of Tullian Tchividjian. He correctly points out is that legalism is REDUCING the demands of the law to the DOABLE. It's not that the legalist gives you too many things to do, it's that the legalist reduces the full weight of demand of God's law down to a minimum standard that the legalist is comfortable with. Tullian on the other hand says Christ's demand is to be perfect. (Matt 5:48) Not, give yourself grey hairs and ulcers worrying about whether you've gone enough to deserve God's grace, but "Shut up, sit down and thank God for Jesus!"
Now on to a social question, like, for example, the treatment of Jews in Medieval Germany. It was really bad. The problem of many conservatives is to dismiss the gravity of anything that Luther or any Christian German did wrong. They shrug and say, "Luther was definitely a man of his times." In other words, "Hey, he wasn't nearly as bad as his neighbors, and his badness was merely what responsible people in his day and age did." In this view, God's only "social demand" of you is to be as responsible as your responsible neighbors.
This view in my opinion is an affront to everyone who suffered, and and affront to the idea of a just or a loving God. "Be perfect" in this view gets reduced to, "Do as the Joneses do."
What would Luther say if accused (today) of participating in an evil, God-displeasing culture, of being an intellectual architect of the 20th century Holocaust? Some conservatives may say that defending the honor of a man who came up with some very Godly theology is defending God. Some theologians of the cross may say that pointing out how bad we are only points the need for a cross. Again, I quote Luther's letterto Spalatin:
“Therefore my faithful request and admonition is that you join our company and associate with us, who are real, great, and hard-boiled sinners. You must by no means make Christ to seem paltry and trifling to us, as though He could be our Helper only when we want to be rid from imaginary, nominal, and childish sins. No, no! That would not be good for us. He must rather be a Savior and Redeemer from real, great, grievous, and damnable transgressions and iniquities, yea, from the very greatest and most shocking sins; to be brief, from all sins added together in a grand total.”
The question for us today is whether the Holocaust or any other social sin that folks are debating today are "real, great, grievous, and damnable transgressions and iniquities."
Sunday, November 04, 2012
- I'm about 17 and sitting at a Boy Scout camp with two other boys from my high school from Lynchburg, Virginia. We start chatting about other guys in the high school. One of them mentions a boy who goes to my church. I actually say I hate that boy because he comes to church dressed in Alligator shirts all the time. One of the guys says, "But that's what you're supposed to wear, unlike the N____'s in their white suits." It dawned on me that there were people who hated blacks enough to use derogatory language, and I shared uncool characteristics with the blacks. You see, the only suit I owned was a white one. Granted, me saying I hated a kid from my own church probably wasn't the best witness for the faith, but that's another story.
- Our high school graduating class was having a reunion, to be hosted at the local country club. It was stated that one popular black woman would not be attending because of the venue. Her parents, in her youth, had not been allowed as a matter of policy to join the club, so she was offended at the choice of venue. It dawned on me that my church-going, college-educated father, who kept a nice home with furniture chosen by his wife consulting with an interior decorator, this man too wasn't ever allowed in that country club. Probably of stock too recent to the US, himself too recent to the town, and having made the choice of choosing a neighborhood too close to the clusters of African Americans in the town. He had remnants of a Swedish accent and grew up as an itinerant farmer, one step above sharecropping. But there was some excluding going on in the town, and my family wasn't allowed in places blacks weren't allowed in.
- A) Claw and scratch your way into whatever exclusive circles exist in your era, so that your kids don't suffer the same shame.
- B) Adopt politics and theologies that express exasperation with those who hate the unlovely minority du jour.
- Christians stink.
- The only way someone would think Christians stink is that the liberal media distort the truth about them.
- Christians stink.
- Christians stink. This was said, in a derogatory sense, by Ted Turner when he said, "The Church is for losers."
- The only way someone would think that Christians stink is that the liberal media distort the truth about them. I caught this sentiment in an article that Trevin Wax linked to on his blog, "9 Lies the Media Likes to Tell About Evangelical Christians". Evangelicals (Christians) are incredibly cool, it's just the media that distort the truth because they hate them.
- Christians stink. This idea was found in several places:
- Again, it was said, in a derogatory sense, by Ted Turner: "The Church is for losers." The only way I know Turner said this was that it was quoted in a sermon by Tullian Tchividjian. Tullian agreed with Turner, and is a great evangelical pastor, IMO.
- Romans 3. Romans 3:19ff says that ALL people are swift to shed blood, that the mouths of ALL people are open graves. Christians should be counted for in this list of all people, written by a Christian to a church of Christians.
- Martin Luther (quoted in Walther's Twelfth Lecture claimed as much. (To find the section in that link containing the full context of these quotes, search for the name "Spalatin".) Luther writes to a fellow pastor who has become completely despondent over his having given out some really bad moral advice. Luther writes:
"“Therefore my faithful request and admonition is that you join our company and associate with us, who are real, great, and hard-boiled sinners. You must by no means make Christ to seem paltry and trifling to us, as though He could be our Helper only when we want to be rid from imaginary, nominal, and childish sins. No, no! That would not be good for us. He must rather be a Savior and Redeemer from real, great, grievous, and damnable transgressions and iniquities, yea, from the very greatest and most shocking sins; to be brief, from all sins added together in a grand total.”In other words, Christians stink!