Monday, August 29, 2005

A big bad look at a post by Mo

There is in the blogosphere a little Irish person who thinks a lot called Mo, who is intelligent, fun and blunt and provides some interesting reading. Anyhow, he has recently posted some thoughts on the Emergent movement/church/conversation (who cares anyway) which he thinks is missing the point. Some of it got me thinking again about the subject of my previous post, and because I have not got the energy to write well tonight I am going do lots of recounting of what he said.

To get going he claims that McLaren's "A New Kind of Christian" 'seemed to be something of a misnomer [...] for one of his books, because quite frankly liberal Christianity has been round for years' something I have also been tempted to post about parts of Chalke's Lost Message of Jesus but never had the guts to.

Then interacting with another book he starts thinking about what salvation entails. McLaren (he claims) believes that 'Salvation is about being rescued from the cycle of violence, our pattern of hatred and fear, to be a blessing to others' which on first reflection he liked, because it points to how Salvation effects the here-and-now, but then he started to have misgivings. He is concerned that 'when Jesus comes to save us from our sins, it is not merely to get us out of the cycle of wanting to beat our enemies, but to deal with the root problem, God's judgment, and (this is where McLaren is right) for those people to live as God's new community won back to him, their sin dealt with.' More bluntly he says 'the REAL problem isn't sin - ie sin=oppression, but rather God's reaction to sin, which puts his people into exile, into the hands of their enemies. The problem of oppression by enemies comes from God's reaction of punishment to the people's sin - this stands out of the Old Testament on every page.'

Though he does not use these terms he identifies that the issue here is the relationship of salvation from both the penalty and the power of sin. As he points out, many emergent types think a lot about how salvation is from the power of sin (thought of largely in a social way), largely neglecting the idea of the penalty God exacts for it. In contrast Mo believes that 'the central problem Jesus solves is relational; between God and us' not between each of us.

My first reaction was (like in my previous post) look for a middle way that sees salvation from both penalty and power in a 'balanced' way. However now I think Mo is right that the restoring of the God-humanity relationship must come first, and that freedom from Sin's oppression comes out of this. The reason I think this is that the power of sin over us is a result of God's decision to punish us for the first sin. I think this mainly on the basis of Romans 1 where we are told that because humanity 'exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles [...] God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves'. I'll have to think about it a bit more though, as it is perhaps the key point of tension between Emergent-types and Trad-Evangelical-Types.

This has been a poorly written post because it is so parasitic on a someone else's post, please forgive me.

PS There is an interesting point in one of the panel discussions of the Sex and the Supremacy of Christ Conference where Al Mohler and John Piper have a bit of a surprise disagreement about the meaning of Romans 1 as it touches on Homosexuality. Mohler argues that the condition (?) is part of the corruption in-built in humanity as a result of the fall(s), and Piper argues that Romans 1 says it is to be seen as punishment for sin. I may be mischaracterising the debate, because it is a while since I watched it but I though this is interesting if you broaden the subject to be about the penalty and power of all sin (or Sin with a capital 'S').

PPS In all these comments I have still not forgotten Alistair's advocation of the centrality of 'Holy war' to salvation which has its attractions. As always I could write more but you have probably stopped reading and I would have even less of a clue about how to tie that concept in as well. My brain is tired.


Post a Comment

<< Home