The Marriage Covenant

The-Marriage-Covenant

Grandview Christian Assembly has been spending several weeks working through 1 Corinthians 7 – a chapter loaded with marriage theology.   One aspect of marriage is that it is more than simply an agreement between two people or a human legal arrangement.  Marriage is a covenant in the eyes of God.  The marriage covenant is a picture of the holy covenant of God with His people.  It is something holy and something not to be treated lightly.

A friend, who does not attend GCA, asked me today about a written resource she could use to assist some Christians who are married, are struggling in their marriage, and had not been introduced to the biblical view of marriage as a covenant.  After some digging around, I came across an article from the Resurgence in 2011 that presented the concept simply, and yet from several different angles.  I have reproduced it below:

MARRIAGE IN GOD’S STORY

Phil Smidt 

IN THE BEGINNING

The story of God is one of Good News, and it begins with a wedding ceremony.

After God created the heavens and earth and filled it, he made the man and the woman, uniting them in marriage.

God created marriage for his purposes, not ours, as marriage belongs to him. He determined marriage as a sacred union on which he would build the foundation for establishing families and, ultimately, society and culture. 

MARRIAGE IS

God defined marriage from the beginning: an intimate, covenant relationship between one man and one woman lasting a lifetime (Genesis 2:24Proverbs 2:16-17Malachi 2:14).

Biblically, Moses first characterized marriage: “Therefore (because of marriage – my emphasis) a man shall leave his father and his mother, hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). In the New Testament, both Jesus (Matthew 19:5Mark 10:6–7) and Paul (Ephesians 5:32) affirm Moses and agree with God’s definition of marriage:

  • It is exclusive (one man and his wife).
  • It is not defined by temporal family ties but by permanent covenantal promises (leave father and mother).
  • It is a lifetime commitment (hold fast).
  • Intimacy (oneness) ensues (they become one flesh).

However, marriage was never meant as an end to itself.

As the story of God begins to unfold, he reveals his greater intention for marriage.

A COVENANT PROMISE

God’s love for his people has always been steadfast and sure, and he holds fast to them in a permanent, exclusive, intimate, covenantal relationship.

Vows and promises are the basis for a covenant. On a wedding day, the bride and groom make vows to one another, promising to love each other solely for a lifetime, regardless of circumstances.

Throughout Scripture, there are numerous parallels drawn between the covenant promises of God and his chosen people and the covenant promises of a husband and wife in marriage. Specifically, God calls himself “husband” and his people, “bride” (Isaiah 54:562:5Jeremiah 2:2Revelation 19:721:29,22:17).

GOD IS BETTER AT PROMISES THAN WE ARE

A problem has existed since Genesis 3 regarding the difference between God’s covenants and ours: 

  • God makes promises and keeps them.
  • We make promises and break them.

When the people of God sin against him and chase after other gods, their sinful deeds are named ‘spiritual adultery’ and ‘whoredom’—strong language for sin, but an accurate description of the relationally destructive nature of our rebellion against a loving, trustworthy, and Holy God (Hosea, Jeremiah 3:6–2131:32, Ezekiel 23, Psalm 106:39).

We don’t sin in a vacuum. Someone is always, beginning with God, sinned against. But continually, a passionate, faithful God pursues and intervenes, providing payment for sin that is sufficient and everlasting for rebellious children who repent.  

JESUS AND MARRIAGE

Ephesians 5:23–32 reveals more of God’s plan for Christian marriage as it is written specifically to Spirit-filled husbands and wives (Ephesians 5:1,18): “This mystery is profound, and I am saying it refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32). The mystery refers to God’s plan of redemption for his church (his bride), collectively all who have received salvation through Christ’s atoning death on the cross.

This powerful image of Christ, and the church in general, also permeates the marriage of one man and one woman, specifically applying itself in the daily details of their life together. Without Jesus, it is impossible for the husband and wife to muster up enough strength, loving feelings, or good intentions to fulfill their biblical role and calling in marriage. But because of him, two sinful, completely different individuals can be miraculously transformed into one.

ROLES OF HUSBAND AND WIFE DEFINED BY THE CROSS

It is clear the Biblical roles of husband and wife are less about what the couple should do and more about what Jesus has done for them. 

Christian wives can look to the cross and see Jesus who freely submitted himself to the will of the Father to die in her place (Ephesians 5:22–24). Her submissive response is not to be one of begrudging foot-dragging, competition with her husband, or a fearful power struggle, but joyful and purposeful, just like Christ’s attitude was for her (Hebrews 12:2).

Likewise, Christian husbands can look to the cross and see Jesus, who in love and humility laid his life aside to die for the man’s sin. Jesus then defeated death and rose to live for and lead the church, providing for its needs (Philippians 2:3–8). In the same way, Christ now calls husbands to die to themselves and live for and lead their wives and children in bringing attention and glory to God, not to rule as controlling tyrants or disappear as cowardly abdicators (Ephesians 5:25–30).

GOD’S VISION FOR MARRIAGE

Spirit-filled married couples have the opportunity to know and accept each other deeply, as they learn that loving someone else isn’t natural, nor does it come easily. They get to love because Christ loves them (1 John 4:10–11). They don’t need to fear intimacy or confessing sin, they can walk in the freedom of faith and repentance. Since they have been graced and forgiven they can offer grace and forgiveness to each other. Because God has been kind to them, they can be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:32).

As helpful companions who see their spouse as a precious gift from God, together they get to face the blessings, trials, and unexpected surprises of life, saturate their children with Jesus, serve brothers and sisters in the church, and share the gospel with neighbors, extended families and co-workers. Just as Jesus continues to intentionally pursue and love them, they get to creatively pursue and love each other, building a God-honoring legacy as they grow old together.

WEDDED BLISS

The Bible ends with a wedding ceremony. In Revelation 19:6–9, the story of God culminates in Jesus bringing his Bride, the church, home to live with him permanently. Those who have trusted in Christ for salvation throughout history, whether anticipating his coming or looking back to when he came, will live with him forever.

The marriage supper of the Lamb proves that the covenant-keeping God honors his promises. That is your hope, and will always be the hope of the Bride of Christ.

8 Misconceptions About the Bible

8 MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE BIBLE

Mark Driscoll 

“How can you trust the Bible when it’s been translated so many times?” “Isn’t the Bible full of mistakes and contradictions?” Pastor Mark Driscoll debunks 8 common misconceptions about the Bible in this fourth installment of his blog series, which provides a guided tour of topics such as what is the Biblewhere the Bible came from, and how to interpret the Bible.

Over the years I’ve come across many misconceptions about the Bible. Some of these are due to rampant biblical illiteracy, and others to simple misunderstandings about how the Bible was copied and transmitted over the years. Many misconceptions about the Bible can be cleared up simply by learning how to interpret the Bible, but some require a more detailed response. In this post I’ll briefly look at some common misconceptions.

1. “YOU CAN’T TRUST THE BIBLE BECAUSE IT’S BEEN TRANSLATED SO MANY TIMES”

This misconception assumes that we don’t have an abundance of manuscript evidence in languages such as Greek and Hebrew supporting the Bible. As a result, it makes the added assumption that the Bible may have started out in some original ancient languages a long time ago, but has since been translated and re-translated over and over again into so many different languages that we can’t trust it anymore. This is simply not true. We have access to literally thousands of manuscripts and fragments that are used in translating the Bible, not a long chain of degraded translations.

2. “THE BIBLE IS FULL OF MISTAKES AND CONTRADICTIONS”

This misconception is usually just thrown out without any supporting evidence. Always ask for a specific example when you encounter this misconception. But be prepared, because some people may have specifics or even several examples, and you’ll want to know how to respond. In reality, though, to say the Bible is full of mistakes and contradictions usually stems from a lack of understanding of principles of biblical interpretation. Many capable scholars have addressed questions about Bible difficulties.

3. “YOU CAN MAKE THE BIBLE SAY WHATEVER YOU WANT IT TO SAY”

This only applies if one takes a relaxed view of Scripture, such as a relativistic attitude that rejects that the author had real intent and meaning. Also, if we treat the Bible fairly in our interpretation, following the basic principles of hermeneutics, then we can’t make it say what we want it to say. I once heard a seminary professor say that the Golden Rule of interpretation is, “Seek to interpret a text just as you would like others to interpret your words, whether written or spoken.”

4. “THE BIBLE SAYS…”

This misconception claims the Bible says something specific, when it really doesn’t. As an example, some will state that the Bible says, “God helps those who helps themselves.” Sorry, that was Ben Franklin, not the Bible. Some will claim the Bible supports the abuse of women, that it encourages slavery, or some other major allegation. There’s a long list of things people say the Bible supports when in reality it doesn’t.

5. “POWER-HUNGRY CHURCH COUNCILS DECIDED WHAT TO INCLUDE IN THE BIBLE”

The idea is that at some point, usually much later than the time of the New Testament, church councils met and included whatever books and ideas in the Bible would best help consolidate their own power. This is simply false.

Church councils formalized and officially recognized writings that God’s people had already accepted and used as inspired Scripture for hundreds of years, in the case of the New Testament, and thousands of years in the case of the Old Testament. Some of these councils include the Council of Laodicea (A.D. 363); the Council of Hippo (A.D. 393); and the Council of Carthage (A.D. 397). Church councils simply acknowledged the Scriptures that were already known and trusted by Christians everywhere.

6. “THE NEW TESTAMENT WAS WRITTEN HUNDREDS OF YEARS AFTER THE TIME OF JESUS”

The implication of this misconception is that so much time passed between the writing of the Bible and the actual events it records that there’s no way it could be accurate. Supposedly, the gap between the reality and the writing allowed ample time for corruption, legends, and even myths to develop. In actuality, the time between the New Testament events and when they were recorded is very short, especially when compared with other ancient documents. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, for instance, within about 25 years of Jesus’ life. That’s not enough time for myth or legend to develop, because eyewitnesses were still living and would have objected to what Paul wrote and the church taught if it was historically inaccurate.

The earliest surviving manuscript fragment of the New Testament, from the Gospel of John, dates to about A.D. 130. That’s very close to when John actually wrote his Gospel, between A.D. 70–100. And although it’s still being verified, New Testament scholar Daniel Wallace reports that a fragment from Mark may very well be dated to the first century, making it an even earlier fragment than the one from John.

7. “THE BIBLE IS AN OLD, OUTDATED LIST OF RULES THAT NO LONGER APPLY”

While the Bible is old, it is definitely not outdated. Not only is it filled with practical wisdom, but it lays out God’s plan of redemption for humanity. Its insights are timeless, relevant, and useful in everyday life. A quick reading of Proverbs, for example, will yield much wisdom and timeless advice.

8. “THE BIBLE EXCLUDED OTHER MORE ACCURATE MANUSCRIPTS”

Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code popularized the idea that there were originally numerous competing “gospels,” and church leaders chose their favorites. Supposedly, the four Gospels in the New Testament are biased, and in reality there were dozens or maybe even hundreds of other gospels to choose from. You’ll hear about the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Barnabas, the Gospel of Philip, or even the Gospel of Judas. Occasionally these “other gospels” get a burst of media attention, as though they somehow seal the doom of the New Testament.

There are three lines of evidence that argue against the reliability of these other “gospels.” First, the manuscript evidence for them is terrible, especially compared to the manuscript evidence for the New Testament Gospels. Second, all of these other writings were written down much later than the New Testament. Third, the ideas they present are often completely foreign to what the New Testament Gospels are about, sometimes offering up advice that is just plain bizarre.

In the case of the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, it’s not even in the style of the New Testament Gospels, instead serving as a sort of collection of sayings. Some of the material is orthodox, while other parts are strange and outlandish. For example, in Saying 114 of the Gospel of Thomas, Peter supposedly says, “women are not worthy of life.” Jesus responds not by clearing up Peter’s mistake, but by saying he, Jesus, will make the woman into a man so she can then enter the kingdom of heaven. That hardly sounds like the gospel we see throughout the rest of Scripture.

When it is rightly understood and wisely interpreted, we can be confident that the Bible is accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. The Bible is uniquely and solely God’s completely trustworthy revelation to us today.

Savoring the Gospel

Savoring

Savoring the Gospel 

By Joe Thorn

“Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully.”
1 Timothy 1:8

It seems that every few years there is a fight over keeping the Ten Commandments in the public square (a courthouse, a public school, etc.). I’m not interested in getting into the merits of the arguement for either position here, but I do find it sadly ironic that many Christians are ready to fight for the Ten Commandments to be lifted up in the public square, but are much less motivated to see the gospel take center stage. It is as if some think that the law of God is a cure-all. That if we can just gather ourselves around the law things will change: our cities, our citizens, our culture. And, this is not only a social/political issue. Many of us are also tempted to think this way as it relates to our own growth in the grace of godliness. It is as if we think that the law of God is our cure-all. That if we can just gather ourselves around the law we will change: our thoughts, our hearts, our lives.

THE NEED FOR JUSTIFICATION

But law does not save you. The law cannot save you. This does not mean the law is bad. The law is holy, just, and good. It is still the gift of God, but the law cannot save you. It is a gift that shows us his way, our rebellion, and our great need for the gospel. The law deals a crushing blow to our sense of self-righteousness, but also prepares us for the good news of God’s forgiving and restoring grace. In the law we see God’s standard of righteousness, but in the gospel we see Jesus fulfilling all righteousness for us. Here are the two gifts: one that exposes our guilt, and another than unleashes God’s grace; one that crushes, and another that revives and renews. The law is good when used rightly–not to justify–but to show our need for justification that must come from outside of ourselves.

No, the law does not save, but it does help us to savor the gospel.

“Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully.” 1 Timothy 1:8

It seems that every few years there is a fight over keeping the Ten Commandments in the public square (a courthouse, a public school, etc.). I’m not interested in getting into the merits of the arguement for either position here, but I do find it sadly ironic that many Christians are ready to fight for the Ten Commandments to be lifted up in the public square, but are much less motivated to see the gospel take center stage. It is as if some think that the law of God is a cure-all. That if we can just gather ourselves around the law things will change: our cities, our citizens, our culture. And, this is not only a social/political issue. Many of us are also tempted to think this way as it relates to our own growth in the grace of godliness. It is as if we think that the law of God is our cure-all. That if we can just gather ourselves around the law we will change: our thoughts, our hearts, our lives.

THE NEED FOR JUSTIFICATION

But law does not save you. The law cannot save you. This does not mean the law is bad. The law is holy, just, and good. It is still the gift of God, but the law cannot save you. It is a gift that shows us his way, our rebellion, and our great need for the gospel. The law deals a crushing blow to our sense of self-righteousness, but also prepares us for the good news of God’s forgiving and restoring grace. In the law we see God’s standard of righteousness, but in the gospel we see Jesus fulfilling all righteousness for us. Here are the two gifts: one that exposes our guilt, and another than unleashes God’s grace; one that crushes, and another that revives and renews. The law is good when used rightly–not to justify–but to show our need for justification that must come from outside of ourselves.

No, the law does not save, but it does help us to savor the gospel.

The Easter Bear

Forget the Easter Bunny, it is time to bring the Easter Bear out of hibernation.  The Easter Bear has the teeth and claws to shred at least three common myths about the resurrection that hatch every year around Easter as people try their best (and fail) to show that the bodily resurrection of Jesus did not happen.

Megan Almon wrote a synopsis of the Easter Bear argument in her Resurgence article, “Debunking 3 Common Myths about the Resurrection“:

It’s the thing that makes or breaks Christianity. According to Paul, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile” (1 Cor. 15:17).

And because it’s a historical event, it’s testable. For years, scholars have studied the details surrounding the Resurrection. The facts most widely accepted by Christian and non-Christian scholars alike include:

• Jesus’ death and burial

• The empty tomb

• Post-Resurrection appearances

• The rise of Christianity

Think of the acronym “B.E.A.R.When it comes to testing the Resurrection, you have to think like a good investigator. Any explanatory theory must have sufficient scope and power—it must cover all of the facts in a compelling way.

For centuries, naturalistic theories have been raised that attempt to explain away a supernatural raising from the dead.

The Conspiracy Theory

This was the first counter-theory proposed by the authorities when they asked the guards of the tomb to lie and say the disciples had stolen the body. It was revived by the deists of the eighteenth century.

It accounts for B and E. (Note: The fact that the guards were asked to lie about how the tomb became empty implies that it actually was empty.)

It accounts for A only if the disciples lied about having seen Jesus. If they continued their ruse, R is covered as well.

While the Conspiracy Theory barely passes muster in its scope, it fails in its power.

Not only would the disciples have had to lie to account for A, but James, Paul, and the 500 witnesses Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 15 would have had to lie as well.

Finally, the unlikelihood of all of the remaining the disciples dying for an elaborate lie raises questions. Furthermore, the lie itself must be considered.

N.T. Wright writes, “They were not refusing to come to terms with the fact that they had been wrong all along. On the contrary, they were indeed coming to terms with, and reordering their lives around, dramatic and irrefutable evidence that they had been wrong.

That’s why they ran in fear.

Whatever the disciples may have hoped would happen in terms of the Messiah they envisioned—one who would conquer the current order by military might—is not what they described after that first Easter.

The Swoon Theory

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Friedrich Schleiermacher and other critics claimed that Jesus was only nearly dead when he was taken down from the cross and entombed.

The theory succeeds in its scope, accounting to some degree for B, E, A, and R, but it fails to do so with power.

The very idea that days after the crucifixion, a near-dead Jesus could remove the massive stone covering the tomb entrance is just not believable. If the tomb was in fact guarded, that casts further doubt.

In such a weakened and battered condition, it is unlikely that Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances would have recorded such a picture of glorified health. It’s even less likely that Peter and the others would have found Jesus’ pitiful figure on their doorstep and later proclaimed before their own brutal deaths, “He is the risen Lord!”

The Hallucination Hypothesis

As an attempt to explain Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances, this theory claims the disciples simply hallucinated having seen the risen Christ. Because it only accounts for A, it must be paired with another theory in order to get off the ground in the scope category.

Furthermore, it fails to be compelling. Hallucinations are, by definition, the product of a single mind. It would be impossible for even two of the disciples to share the same hallucination, much less all of them, plus James, Paul, and the 500.

And even if widespread hallucinations were possible, the production of the body—any body—would have dispelled the myth or, at the very least, caused enough damage so that Christianity’s spread may have halted. But there is no record of such an attempt, and the new faith spread like wildfire.

Resurrection

Working with the “BEAR” minimum—a handful of details considered accurate even by critics of Christianity—the physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the most sufficient and compelling explanation of what happened in history.

Tips for Talking about Jesus

Does the thought of talking with your friends or neighbors about Jesus freak you out?  Do you need to down a bottle of Pepto Bismal every time the word “evangelism” or “gospel” pop up at church?  If so, take a deep breath and read these simple and relatively non-scary tips for talking with someone about Jesus from Tim Gaydos’ 7 Tips for Talking with Your Neighbor about Jesus:

We met in the elevator of our condo building.

Instead of the classic stare down at the ground and avoid eye contact bit, I said hello and introduced myself. I asked him a few non-awkward, basic questions: “How long have you lived here? Do you like it? Have you met any cool people?”

The following week, I saw him in the lobby, and we picked up the conversation with a longer discussion revolving around the Seattle Mariners and their dim prospects for the year. I checked again to see if he was up for talking more, “If you want to watch a game at Sport, [the appropriately-named Seattle sports pub,] let me know.” He accepted, we figured out a good date and time and within a few weeks, we were grabbing a bite and watching a game together.

Breaking the Stereotype of Judgmental Jerk

It wasn’t long before he found out I was a Christian, went to church, and loved Jesus. He said to me, “Wow, my stereotype of Christians has been blown away. Youʼre normal. You like good food and drink, you love your city and donʼt come off as a judgmental jerk.” I soon invited him to church, where he heard the gospel preached powerfully. He became a Christian and got involved in Community Groups, praise God.

For whatever reason, it’s easy for Christians to clam up and get weird when talking about their faith in the day-to-day. Here are a few tips to make bridge those inhibitions and get the conversation going:

1. Find a road that leads to Jesus.

In the course of conversation, be thinking of how Jesus intersects with the discussion, because Jesus intersects and touches everything in our culture: sports, music, art, politics. Look for bridges to introduce Jesus into the conversation. It should be just as casually or passionately as you talk about everything else.

2. Donʼt be weird and awkward.

“So…now, Iʼd like to talk with you about Jesus.” If all of a sudden you put on your “Jesus” hat and you are talking to them like a project and not a friend, then you’re entering awkward territory. Now, there will be times it becomes awkward because talking about Jesus and sin can be that way, but don’t let it be because you are socially weird.

3. Be winsome.

Included in that word is the word “win.” Be “winning” friends and the conversation by being engaging, friendly, and kind. For more on being winsome, check out Soul Winner by Charles Spurgeon.

4. Counter stereotypes and caricatures of Christians.

Many urban, secular folks have a particular caricature of a Christian, which is not very flattering (judgmental, harsh, the “morality police”), although many don’t personally have any Christian friends. Be gracious and talk with them, serve them, and love them.

5. Host an open house.

When my wife and I moved into a new apartment building we hosted an open house for the whole building and went over the top with really good food and wine. Dozens of our neighbors came out and it was the foundation for future gospel-centered conversations.

6. Be honest about your struggles and failings.

We all fall short. We all struggle and fail. The credit has to be given to Jesus in your life. Many non-Christians donʼt want to talk with Christians as they will feel guilty regarding their own problems.

7. Actions also communicate.

Serve your neighbors. Serve your neighborhood. Look for opportunities without being an attention-getter. Your neighbors are watching you and just as James said, faith without works is dead.

 

Pluralism’s Intolerance

Is Pluralism More Tolerant than Christianity?  Jonathan Dodson addresses this question in his “Is Jesus the Only Way?” series.  Through a look at the duplicity of pluralism’s claims, Dodson displays that pluralism turns out to be another “intolerant” religion.  In the attempt to say all religions lead to God, pluralism actually assumes a religious stance that seeks to overrule the faith claims of other religions.  Pluralism is a classic example of intolerance in the name of tolerance.

Is Pluralism More Tolerant Than Christianity?
(by Jonathan Dodson)

In the prior three posts, we have examined the claim that Jesus is the only way to God is both unenlightened and arrogant. As it turns out, it’s actually the opposite. It is religious pluralism that is rather unenlightened and carries an air of arrogance. In this post we will examine the important idea of tolerance. Is religious pluralism more tolerant than Christianity?

Is Religious Pluralism Truly Tolerant?

Very often people hold to religious pluralism because they think it is more tolerant than Christianity. I’ll be the first to say that we need tolerance, but what does it mean to be tolerant? To be tolerant is to accommodate differences, which can be very noble. I believe that Christians should be some of the most accommodating kinds of people, giving everyone the dignity to believe whatever they want and not enforcing their beliefs on others through politics or preaching. We should winsomely tolerate different beliefs. Interestingly, religious pluralism doesn’t really allow for this kind of tolerance. Instead of accommodating spiritual differences, religious pluralism blunts them. Let me explain.

The claim that all paths lead to the same God actually minimizes other religions by asserting a new religious claim. When someone says all paths lead to the same God, they blunt the distinctives between religions, throwing them all in one pot, saying: “See, they all get us to God so the differences don’t really matter.” This isn’t tolerance; it’s a power play. When asserting all religions lead to God, the distinctive and very different views of God and how to reach him in Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam are brushed aside in one powerful swoop. The Eightfold Noble Path of Buddhism, the 5 Pillars of Islam, and the Gospel of Christ are not tolerated but told they must submit to a new religious claim–all ways lead to God–despite the fact that this isn’t what those religions teach.

The Religion of Pluralism

People spend years studying and practicing their religious distinctives. To say they don’t really matter is highly intolerant! The very notion of religious tolerance assumes there are differences to tolerate but pluralism is intolerant of those very differences! In this sense, religious pluralism is a religion of its own. It has its own religious absolute—all paths lead to the same God—and requires people of other faiths to embrace this absolute, without any religious backing at all. It is highly evangelistic! Religious pluralism is highly political and preachy. Yet, it does so under the guise of tolerance. It is a leap of faith to say there are many paths to God; it is not a self-evident fact. It isn’t even an educated leap, nor is it as humble and tolerant as it might appear.

Recall Stephen Prothero’s comment [in his book God is Not One] regarding religious pluralism:

“But this sentiment, however well-intentioned, is neither accurate nor ethically responsible. God is not one.” He goes on: “Faith in the unity of religions is just that—faith (perhaps even a kind of fundamentalism). And the leap that gets us there is an act of the hyperactive imagination.”

Enlightened, Humble, Tolerant?

As it turns out, the reasons for subscribing to religious pluralism—enlightenment, humility, and tolerance—actually backfire. They don’t carry through. Religious pluralism isn’t enlightened, it’s inaccurate; it isn’t humble, it’s fiercely dogmatic; and it isn’t really all that tolerant because it intolerantly blunts religious distinctives. In the end, religious pluralism is a religion, a leap of faith, based on contradiction and is highly untenable. Christianity, on the other hand, should respect and honor the various distinctives of other religions, comparing them, and honoring their differing principles–Karma (Hinduism), Enlightenment (Buddhism), Submission (Islam), and Grace (Christianity). In the next and final post, I will examine Jesus’ exclusive claim, and the charge that his teachings in Christianity are unenlightened, arrogant, and intolerant. In particular, we will examine the unique principle of grace.

Dear Mr. Antinomian

I came across this “open letter” on the Resurgence blog and found it amusing and a great insight on the radial power of God’s grace.  For some reason, even Christians seem to have difficulty in believing that God’s grace is as powerful as the Bible declares.  Maybe it is due to our vast experience with the power of our sinful nature – its ability to overwhelm our human desires and attempts to do that which is good (Romans 7:7-25) – that leads to our lack of belief in the power of God’s grace.  Yet, if we say that we believe the truth of the Bible, does it not make sense to believe that the power of God’s grace abounds more than sin (Romans 6:18-21)?  In comparison to the rushing flood of grace’s power, sin is but a dripping faucet. Imagine the wonderful impact in the lives of people if we actually accepted the truth of the radical nature of God’s grace, allowing it to run freely in our lives.

Dear Mr. Antinomian (Resurgence)

An Introduction from Tullian Tchividjian:

There seems to be a fear out there that the preaching of radical grace produces serial killers. Or, to put it in more theological terms, too much emphasis on the indicatives of the gospel leads to antinomianism (a lawless version of Christianity that believes the directives and commands of God don’t matter). My problem with this fear is that I’ve never actually met anyone who has been truly gripped by God’s amazing grace in the gospel who then doesn’t care about obeying him. As I have said before: antinomianism happens not when we think too much of grace. Just the opposite, actually. Antinomianism happens when we think too little of grace.

Wondering whether this common fear is valid, my dear friend Elyse Fitzpatrick (in C.S. Lewis fashion) writes an open letter to Mr. Grace-Loving Antinomian–a person she’s heard about for years but never met–asking him to please step forward and identify himself.

Enjoy…


Dear Mr. Antinomian,

Forgive me for writing to you in such an open forum but I’ve been trying to meet you for years and we just never seem to connect. While it’s true that I live in a little corner of the States and while it’s true that I am, well, a woman, I did assume that I would meet you at some point in my decades old counseling practice. But alas, neither you nor any of your (must be) thousands of brothers and sisters have ever shown up for my help… So again, please do pardon my writing in such a public manner but, you see, I’ve got a few things to say to you and I think it’s time I got them off my chest.

I wonder if you know how hard you’re making it for those of us who love to brag about the gospel. You say that you love the gospel and grace too, but I wonder how that can be possible since it’s been continuously reported to me that you live like such a slug. I’ve even heard that you are lazy and don’t work at obeying God at all…Rather you sit around munching on cigars and Twinkies, brewing beer and watching porn on your computer. Mr. A, really! Can this be true?

So many of my friends and acquaintances are simply up in arms about the way you act and they tell me it’s because you talk too much about grace. They suggest (and I’m almost tempted to agree) that what you need is more and more rules to live by. In fact, I’m very tempted to tell you that you need to get up off your lazy chair, pour your beer down the drain, turn off your computer and get about the business of the Kingdom.

I admit that I’m absolutely flummoxed, though, which is why I’m writing as I am. You puzzle me. How can you think about all that Christ has done for you, about your Father’s steadfast, immeasurable, extravagantly generous love and still live the way you do? Have you never considered the incarnation, about the Son leaving ineffable light to be consigned first to the darkness of Mary’s womb and then the darkness of this world? Have you never considered how He labored day-after-day in His home, obeying His parents, loving His brothers and sisters so that you could be counted righteous in the sight of His Father? Have you forgotten the bloody disgrace of the cross you deserve? Don’t you know that in the resurrection He demolished sin’s power over you? Aren’t you moved to loving action knowing that He’s now your ascended Lord Who prays for you and daily bears you on His heart? Has your heart of stone never been warmed and transformed by the Spirit? Does this grace really not impel zealous obedience? Hello…Are you there?

Honestly, even though my friends talk about you as though you were just everywhere in every church, always talking about justification but living like the devil, frankly I wonder if you even exist. I suppose you must because everyone is so afraid that talking about grace will produce more of you. So that’s why I’m writing: Will you please come forward? Will you please stand up in front of all of us and tell us that your heart has been captivated so deeply by grace that it makes you want to watch the Playboy channel?

Again, please do forgive me for calling you out like this. I really would like to meet you.

Trusting in Grace Alone,
Elyse