Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Much More Like A Ball

How much grace is too much grace? You've heard the arguments. To say that it really is finished, to say that the Gospel of Christ really is the main thing, is to invoke the usual skeptics who insist that there really is a balance that needs to be struck between the Law and the Gospel. The result of this controversy, this tension between Law and Gospel as it were, has been a church awash in legalism, powerless evangelism, and saved Christians unprepared for the inevitable storms of life on one end, and on the other end, people seeking refuge in hopeless versions of the gospel that promise selfish rewards for faith (what the Gospel actually frees us from), as if grace were a commodity to be bought and sold. The church really needs to answer the question, "What is the Gospel?", and truly articulate that answer to all those who profess to follow Christ, and to those that need Him.

Fortunately, many authors are standing up to address this tension, and redefine the gospel in an understandable way that truly unleashes the gospel into the believing Christian's life. One such book is Jared Wilson's Gospel Wakefulness, wonderfully capturing the truth of the Gospel, how obedience is from the gospel, not our part in it. For instance, in his chapter Chief Spiritual Rhythms, Jared likens the Gospel to a ballroom dance:

    "The Christian not wowed in gospel wakefulness may move like the frightened victim in an old Western, shuffling his feet frantically as the law, demanding he "dance!" fires a six-shooter at his toes. There is compliance but no heart, no rhythm. But the gospel-wakened Christian dances because he's at the ball. He hears the music of the gospel and cannot help but dance!" 

Reading the book, it being totally comprehensive in approach, one can truly be awakened to the Gospel and all the real peace and blessings it contains, enabling the Christian to enthusiastically take part in the evangelism and mission of the church.

Jared incorporates the very interesting story of his pastoral move from a bible-belt southern church to a northeastern church, and the surprises and similarities he encounters preaching gospel wakefulness along the way. He is the author of several books, including Your Jesus Is Too Safe, another "must read". Wilson's blog, The Gospel Driven Church is parked at The Gospel Coalition, and should be one of your regular stops.

Friday, February 17, 2012

ER2- Enough Already!

Let's name her "Grace."

For those of you not familiar with the "Elephant Room Crisis," you might need to get caught up by reading one post from Vodie Baucham at Grace Family Baptist Church to ingest the whole controversy. In (very) short, Elephant Room founder and mega pastor James MacDonald invited controversial figure T.D. Jakes to join in their moderated discussion on church differences before a large online audience, thus presumably giving acceptance to his prosperity gospel ideas, and allowing him to weakly gloss over his differences on his Oneness Trinity beliefs. They did treat him as a brother in Christ, propelling James MacDonald to (behind the scenes) resign from his board position with the Gospel Coalition, before the event even took place, whether by force or consent. We don't know. The appearance was that it was a mutual decision. Needless to say, the internet erupted at the conclusion of the event condemning all who were involved, all who even knew any of the participants, and it still goes on and on.

The Gospel Coalition, a mostly Reformed group of church leaders, movers and shakers, in the current "gospel-centered" movement, were bludgeoned the most, for their seemingly slow response to the controversy, and now pastors even remotely connected with the group are being attacked for merely pointing out their friendship of, and support of, James MacDonald and his christian philosophies. In short, Christians are shooting Christians.

Here's how far this has gone, and my "quick take" on what is happening in this aftermath, using as few names as possible-

Mega church Pastor Matt Chandler, one of the most humble and honest men of God leading in the Body of Christ, recently tweeted that he was "baffled and appalled" that anyone would consider James MacDonald a "heretic", and hashtagged it under "crazytalk".