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Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Blight of Cross-less Christianity

Take a look at one of my favorite Lutheran blogs: What You Do, Do Quickly, from whom I shamelessly have "borrowed" the image to the left. I just think it aptly illustrates a sad indictment against major streams of contemporary Christianity: the blight of cross-less-ness.

It stuns me when I listen to highly respected Christian preachers on the radio or television who preach and preach and preach, but fail to mention the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Sometimes I catch Charles Stanley when I'm in the car and when I do, I always listen. He's a gifted communicator, in my opinion. Gives lots of good biblical advice. He just doesn't preach the gospel very much - at least from what I have heard. (Maybe I just tuned in on the wrong days). Oh, he mentions God A LOT. He's very God-centered, to be sure. But there is a diff between being God-centered and being Christ-centered. A few days ago, I listened to one of his sermons and thought afterwards that any Mormon could have delivered that message. That was a really good Mormon lecture on ethics. And we wonder why most evangelicals, in surveys, still think that you basically get to heaven by faith plus works. Come to think of it, can you really be called an EVANGELICAL if you don't understand forensic justification? What then is the "evangel?"

You see, if you ask a person what the main message of Christianity is and they say it's something like:

  • Love. Love God and love your neighbor.
  • Following Jesus.
  • Being totally committed to Christ in everything you do.
  • Believe in God and follow His commandment
...then they maybe haven't grasped the central notions of sin & grace, the nature of God, the incarnation of the eternal Logos, the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, etc.

I am a regular guest on a local radio talk program Sunday nights 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Two Lutheran pastors and one layman hashing stuff out and taking calls. A couple of weeks ago, we were talking about revivalist Charles Finney with Dr. Lawrence Rast from Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, IN. We discussed the "new measures" Finney employed to gain converts. And as we were criticizing the stress on gimickry and emotional manipulation of Finney (not to mention his rank heresies), a caller phoned with a question. He said his church won't allow you to join unless you can report having had an experience of conversion and a dedication to Christ. We had been talking about altar calls and the like. As we chatted, he wanted to be able to point to a moment in time when a person commits himself to Jesus as the moment of personal regeneration. He was confusing faith with commitment. Or justification with sanctification. At the end of the call, he accused us of "easy-believism" because we were emphasizing salvation by grace through faith alone.

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4 comments:

Diana said...

If it's so easy for sinful humanity to believe in salvation by grace through faith alone, why doesn't everyone believe it?

Paul, in South Park said...

diana,
because it is the path of least resistance for many to simply believe the "love, love, love" concept than the central notion of sin and grace.

VirginiaLutherans said...

Its also not easy to believe that you can do nothing to save yourself. Mankind wants to believe he can make it, if he tries hard enough. But a wretched sinner knows nothing and can do nothing towards his salvation. Christianity is a long, hard difficult path. Its much easier to follow the crowd than Christ. If it was easy or natural for man, Christ wouldn't have needed to die.

Petersen said...

Easy believism. I love it. Nothing easier than justification by grace, but nothing so difficult either.

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