Thursday, January 24, 2008

Pop Quiz!

Are you a good person?
The first time I took this quiz it told me I was going to hell.
The second time I took the quiz I took time read the questions. :-)
It actually makes no difference how you answer the first part of the quiz (even leave it blank!) - the "score" is always the same. Eventually you end up at the 10 steps to being a Christian (or something along those lines).

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Where the Apple Falls

Last night my oldest child (Seventeen) went to youth group at a friend's church. I will tell you beforehand that this child is very outgoing, headstrong and a bit bossy (think Lucy Van Pelt but less self-centered).

When she came home the first thing she asked me was, "It's Christ that accepts us, right?"

"Yes?" I replied, knowing this was just the tip of the iceberg.

Seventeen: The teacher at Friend's church said we need to accept Christ into our hearts.

Me: (eyebrows raised) Synergism?

Seventeen: Huh? (looks at me weird) No, she just said that God begins faith, but it is up to us to accept Christ into our hearts.

Me: What did you say?

Seventeen: I didn't say anything.

Me: Faith is the work of the Holy Spirit...

Seventeen: I know, I know. Anyway, she said we have to strive to be like Jesus.

Me: (jaw dropping) What did you say?

Seventeen: I said, but aren't we the sheep and Jesus the shepherd. The sheep can't become the shepherd. The shepherd does everything for the sheep - finds them when they're lost and stuff like that. Sheep can't do anything.

Me: What did she say?

Seventeen: She said that yes, Jesus is the shepherd, but He is also the rabbi and we are His disciples and as disciples our job is to become rabbis.

Me: What did you say?

Seventeen: I told her there was no way possible for me to become God, no matter how hard I try. I'm just a sinner.

Me: Did anyone agree with you?

Seventeen: No. They just argued with me.

Me: Did they change your mind?

Seventeen: No! I know I'm right.

Me: (Smiling so big my face hurts) Good.

Indeed it is a smorgasbord out there (thanks, Sara, for the analogy). There are a lot of differing views, theologies, doctrines and ideas. Many are biblical, many are not. It seems, from my humble perspective, that the ideas we find most appealing (appetizing) are those that agree with our human reasoning (easy to digest).

But as we survey what lays before us on the buffet, remember that God's way is not man's way.

Oh, I almost forgot, the denomination of the church Seventeen visited last night : ELCA.

Hebrew 13:20-21, 25 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen....Grace be with all of you.

Monday, January 14, 2008

More thoughts on "getting" saved

Expanding my vocabulary:

Monergism - God alone is the one who saves and that humans have no active role in coming to faith (conversion). God creates faith and causes the unbeliever to become a believer without any merit, worthiness, or cooperation on the person's part.

Synergism - humans have some role to play in conversion and being saved, and people in some way "work together" with God to bring this about in individual lives. Synergists treat faith as something the sinner comes up with in response to and in cooperation with God's grace. Faith is ultimately being treated as a cause or condition of salvation, a part of the cooperative effort that the human being is to some degree responsible for.

Also, here is another comparison of Theology of Glory with Theology of the Cross.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Did Somebody Mention Getting Saved?

From From Issues Etc. Journal

"...Within Protestantism there are two very distinct systems of theology. One is a Theology of Glory and the other is a Theology of the Cross.

...The Protestant theology of glory begins with a one-time trip to the Cross of Jesus Christ. The preaching of human sin and divine grace is only directed at the unbeliever in order to "get him saved."

The theology of the Cross is quite different. The preaching of sin and grace or Law and Gospel is not only intended to convert the unbelieving sinner but is intended to produce sanctification in the Christian. The preaching of the Law continues to convict the Christian of sin, leading to contrition, and the Gospel continues to produce faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ.

A theology of glory separates the Christian life from the Gospel. Once you are saved you are given a list of do’s and don’ts. More often than not, these are "evangelical house rules." If you continue to break the rules or backslide, the solution is the rededication of your life to God or, in some cases, the emotional determination to keep your promises. You wouldn’t go back to the Cross again because you already did that when you got saved. Rather, you rededicate your life, because "once saved, is always saved."

The theology of the Cross never gets you past the Cross. The preaching of the Law is not intended to provide you with a list of do’s and don’ts. Rather the preaching of the Law is intended to drive you back to the Cross through the hearing of the Gospel. As a result of the Gospel, your faith is strengthened. Out of faith, the good works defining the Christian life are produced.

A theology of glory produces people who think they are better than other people. "Getting saved" moves you to a higher level. You are now a better person, a step above those who are not saved. You can think of yourself as a part of the "moral majority" as opposed to the "immoral minority." You share your testimony so that other people will get saved and be a good person just like you are.

Living in a theology of the Cross never makes you any "better" than anyone else. Every day in every way you are not getting better and better. In fact, the preaching of Law and Gospel will not lead you to an awareness of your holiness, but rather to greater awareness of the depth of your sin. As a result, you will develop an ever-increasing faith in and appreciation for the redeeming work of Jesus Christ.

Your witness will focus upon the work of the Cross, not upon your experience of getting saved, sanctified, or becoming more spiritual. You have taken no step toward God or arrived at any higher level of holiness. You don’t talk about your spirituality. You talk about the grace of God in Christ Jesus.

Martin Luther accurately defined sin as man turning in on himself. While a theology of glory continues to turn you to yourself as you measure your growth in holiness against a plethora of spiritual experiences, the theology of the Cross turns you away from yourself. As a result of the conviction of the Law, you forsake your own good works and spiritual experiences and cling to the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Which is Correct?
Any reading of the New Testament will demonstrate that the systematic theology of the Apostle Paul was a theology of the Cross. His focus was not upon his spirituality but upon the Cross of Christ. He boasted of his weaknesses. He referred to himself as the "chief of sinners" and a "wretched man." As far as he was concerned, his holiness and goodness was manure compared to the righteousness of Christ. For the Apostle, the dynamic of both justification and sanctification was "not I, but Christ."

The Reformation theology that characterizes both Lutheranism and traditional Calvinism is a theology of the Cross. There is no doubt that the theology of glory appeals to natural man. It is a theology of Adam. It is self-focused. It defines "popular Christianity." The reality is, it is not biblical Christianity."