Justified Journal

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Tag: Tullian tchividjian

Unwilling

Tullian Tchividjian wrote a book called, “Jesus + Nothing = Everything”. I have taken a look at it on Amazon to see if it would be an interesting read. I began to look at the comments to see what others said about this book.

I looked at the lowest scores and saw that my former pastor, Michael Fabarez had critiqued the book. His criticism was a clear example of conflicting theologies. His comments attacked the type of sanctification Tullian proposed. Pastor Fabarez employed scriptural ‘proof texts’ to refute the non-‘biblical’ view of sanctification that Tullian was supporting.

To understand why Pastor Fabarez did this, one needs to explore the foundation of his thinking. He is completely invested in Lordship Salvation theology.

Lordship Salvation theology teaches that from beginning to end, our faith works synergistically with God’s grace in obedience so that we can be Holy Christians. The presupposition is that we have enough good in us to say yes to God by making a decision for Him. Our will has the ability to say yes to God. In fact, the human will is seen as a sort of ‘neutral agent’ or even a positive, sinless agent in relation to God. Thus, the synergy of human will and God’s demands in Scripture continues throughout the Christian life.

The reformers of the 16th century dealt with similar theologies. Luther used the term ‘Semi-Pelagian’ to characterize the Roman Catholics who held this view. Calvinists had to confront Arminians who held to the synergistic model, as well. Lordship Salvation may appear to be evangelical, but this is an illusion.  It is nothing more than a re-hash of the medieval ‘divine spark’ theology of the Roman Catholic Church.

With such a strong faith in human will, it is also a rejection of the biblical concept of total depravity as seen in the letters Paul wrote to the Colossians and Ephesians. What can this mean, ‘And you were dead in your trespasses and sins’ (Eph. 2:1) or, ‘And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses’ (Colossians 2:13). Neither of these verses supports the idea that we have the smallest ability to ‘repent and believe’ by an act of will.

The other significant issue is that of sanctification. This is where Lordship Salvation proponents really dig in their heels. Sanctification is a matter of total surrender and obedience to the commands in Scripture. The Reformed call these ‘imperatives’. These imperatives fit into a model of biblical interpretation.

Lordship Salvation adherents interpret their Bibles more than literally, however, they interpret their Bibles literalistic-ally. That is, everything, even poetry, analogies, metaphors and parables are bent into shapes they were never meant to hold. Anything that is not a command or directive is seen as secondary to the life of the believer.

Scripture is used aggressively within the church and against those outside of Lordship Salvation. Instead of examining the hermeneutics one uses, adherents simply assert, “the Bible says it”. Context, original purpose, audience, and the overall narrative of Scripture are minimized for the argument one makes from a single verse.

And, the overall narrative is misunderstood, as well. It is a narrative of Law as lord. It is important to remember that there was a 400+ year span between Abraham (faithful) and Moses (thus, the giving of the Law) when faithful people had no Law.

It is also lost in the discussion that Christ perfectly fulfilled the Law for you. Instead, the emphasis is on the ability one has to repent, believe, and obey. In short, Lordship Salvation is an invitation to centering your belief on … yourself. The reformers called it, ‘incurvitas en se’, or ‘being curved in on oneself’. It is the perfect theology for the self-centered people of our present-day culture. You are still in control. No need to be crucified and resurrected, just dusted off and shined up a little. No need for Jesus, just a strict moral adherence which will make you right as rain. The ultimate goal is the binding of the will to God’s commands.

The Law is not used properly in such a hermeneutic. Instead of being a mirror by which one sees his/her own sin, the Law is tailored and pacified into achievable goals to live by, instead of the raging lion that reveals our total sinfulness.

Contrary to Lordship Salvation’s foundational belief about the human will, the will is neither neutral nor good. Jesus says so in Matthew 23:37 and in John 5:40. Contextually, the latter verse is addressed to the ‘religious’ people of Jesus’ day (read Pharisees) who “… search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life …” However, they missed the point, “… and it is these that bear witness of me” (emphasis mine).

To believe that the will is somehow entirely sanctified after one repents and believes is to deny the reality of sinfulness. It is to say that when we sin, it is not sin, but just a mistake.

It is no wonder Pastor Fabarez must aggressively attack Pastor Tchividjian’s book. He isn’t just fighting for his ideas, he’s fighting to keep the Old Man (read ‘Old Adam’) in control. He’s fighting to keep the Old Adam alive. He’s fighting to keep the Holy Spirit’s work of magnifying Christ out of his church. He’s fighting to continue being god, as are all those who hold to Lordship Salvation.

Advertisements

Scaffolding the self

 

Extensive scaffolding on a building in downtow...

Extensive scaffolding on a building in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Human beings make an art form out of self-preservation.  They invest in scaffolding to hold up the corpse of the Old Adam.

 

More often than not, these scaffolds appear ‘religious’.  Re-packaging makes them appear to be new, but they are ancient.  The big three are Morality, Mysticism, and Speculation.  Although they appear to be significantly different, they all operate on the same premise.  They are based in self-effort to reach the Holy.

And, self-effort to reach the Holy is rooted in the Old Adam:

Romans 5:12: ‘Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned …’  The strange part of this is that Christians deny that their Old Adam still lives.  In fact, the Old Adam works to preserve itself through the three modes listed above.

Morality, Mysticism and Speculation are all efforts to preserve the sinful self.  The cross is an offense to us not because it crucifies these three, but because it crucifies the self.

And, we are unwilling to die.  It goes against our nature.  We want to preserve that ‘religious’ part of ourselves.  So, we erect one, two or all three of the scaffolds in an effort to prop up the corpse of the Old Adam and loudly proclaim, “I am alive!” when nothing could be more silly or further from the truth.

The Morality scaffold appeals to that part of us that says doing good will result in a happier life.  In fact, there is a kernel of truth to this in our earthly lives.  Morality leads to better relationships, and a ‘clean conscience’.  The downsides, however, are guilt and shame (when you realize that you can’t ‘pull it off’ perfectly) or arrogant pride and judgement of others (hypocrisy).  Scripture is not just interpreted literally, it is interpreted literalistic-ally.

The Mysticism scaffold appeals to that part of us that wants to ‘see God’.  Beneficially, people become more committed to spending one-on-one time with God.  In a busy world, the experience of retreating can be calming and re-invigorating.  The other end of this, though, is that Scripture is a kind of launching point into a ‘cloud of knowing’ (analogous use of Scripture).  Ultimately, it denies the incarnate nature of Christ and Christianity.

The Speculation scaffold presents a very attractive possibility.  It lies within the reason and logic of man.  It is ‘familiar’.  It leads to a greater growth and understanding of the human mind.  It is logical, clear, organized and clean.  Unfortunately, it struggles with reality.  Speculators look at Christ on the Cross and see it as the stained glass through which one can see ‘God as He really is’.  They want to deny that Christ on the Cross is God as He really is … the dying-for-me-God.  Scripture is evaluated through the lens of a certain logic, and massive efforts are made to make it ‘fit’ the human mind.

All of these have long traditions, histories and adherents.  And, it may seem that I am attacking the big three.  The real issue is not the big three, though.  The real issue is the Adam that produced the big three.

This Old Adam wants nothing more than to be left alone by the Jesus who infiltrates our world.  He doesn’t want to see a passive righteousness given to us by a God whose greatest work was His passive death on the cross.  He doesn’t want to hear that God became sin for us.  He doesn’t want to hear that the big three are the beautiful flowers of a plant that is dead.  He doesn’t want to accept forgiveness, because he didn’t ‘earn it’.  In short, the Old Adam wants to maintain control of his own spirituality.  And that, my friends leads to death.

Romans 5:

     15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. 17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

 

%d bloggers like this: