Monday, May 05, 2008

Silly quote of the day

From here (italics in original):
The Christian gospel is in serious danger of being melted down into a call merely to do good works here and now in the social and political realms. ...a “gospel” that majors on good deeds and social work to the detriment of the atoning, saving work of Christ is no “gospel” at all. As I’ve put it elsewhere, it winds up making Christianity just another boring moralism that’s no different from any other religion in the world....

I think you’re right to define and emphasize justification by faith alone in Christ alone as the heart of the Christian gospel. That is without doubt or equivocation the fountainhead of everything else, and you don’t get to the rest of the “good news” unless you start there. In other words, to tell someone that it’s not really important to focus on the atonement, but rather that you can be a Christian just by being a “follower of Jesus” and by “living like Jesus” is not Christianity. To be a Christian is to believe in Jesus, repenting of sins and trusting for salvation in his atoning, reconciling, justifying, substitutionary death on the cross.
Okay, so I didn't manage to read through to the end of that before I cracked up laughing.

A message "to do good works here and now in the social and political realms" strikes me as an extremely accurate description of the content of Jesus' public ministry as depicted in the gospels. The gospels present Jesus' ministry as a campaign over social issues, period. The social gospel is certainly well-founded in the biblical accounts of Jesus' ministry. So, according to the above writer, the Christian gospel is apparently "in serious danger" of being reduced to, well, the gospels. Dang, we surely can't allow that, can we? Apparently not, because as our above writer continues, that is "no gospel at all". Excuse me while I go and cut the four gospels out of my bible. One wonders why Christ bothered preaching "no gospel at all" in the course of his three year ministry.

Next, the writer makes the accusation of moralism. 'Moralism' is the most common term historians of doctrine use to describe Christianity in the pre-Nicene period, namely because early Christianity was extremely moralistic. So as I was reading the above I mentally substituted: "it winds up making Christianity just another boring (?!) moralism that’s no different from any other religion in the world early Christianity." Of course, according to the above writer's definition, pre-Nicene Christianity is not Christianity, so maybe the writer wouldn't be concerned by this.

Sadly, for some reason a popular apologetic tactic at the moment among some groups is to assert the totally arbitrary idea that "human religions" are about man trying to get merit before God whereas "true religion" is about man trusting in God for salvation, and it is usually further arbitrarily asserted without evidence that Christianity is the only religion in world history that fits the category of "true religion". Somehow I doubt the author's implicit claim that all non-Christian religions in world-history are "boring" rests on any evidence or any actual experience of other religions! I also note that if all non-Christian religions are moralistic then it means that the vast majority of humans in world-history felt that moralistic religions are a good type of religion, and suggests that non-moralistic forms of Christianity would generally be considered bad, thus calling the arbitrary value judgment that such religions are good into serious doubt.

As for the claim that "justification by faith alone in Christ alone [is] the heart of the Christian gospel", well it seems then that the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century therefore marks the beginning of Christianity. Can we therefore consign the first 15 centuries of Christians, martyr and theologians to the dustbin?

For me, the most amusing quote in the above is: '[the idea] that you can be a Christian just by being a “follower of Jesus” and by “living like Jesus” is not Christianity.' Excuse me while I go cut the rest of my New Testament out of my bible...

2 Comments:

Blogger Me said...

Nicely Done!

6/5/08  
Blogger Roger Pearse said...

To ignore the doctrinal content of Christianity in favour of ways of living seems curious. Are locusts optional or compulsory, if that is the key? :-)

8/7/08  

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