Thursday, September 29, 2005

What God has joined together

Ben Witherington (top class scholar) has just posted on what Jesus and Paul have to say about Marriage. He thinks that the NT era means that we are no longer required to 'Be fruitful and multiply', at least in the same way as Adam did. Which is intriguing. But he has some other thoughts as well, including:

Not all persons who get married in the church building have been "joined together by God". Think about it. In the first century A.D. when Jesus and Paul were speaking there were no church buildings, there were no certificates of marriage that were just like modern ones, and weddings, at least in early Judaism, did not require ordained rabbis to solemnize them. What then made a marriage a Biblical marriage if it wasn't the officiants, the piece of paper, or the locale where it transpired? The answer is that God led two people to be together, they made vows and promises in the presence of God and human witnesses and they agreed to 'plight their troth' to one another. That's it.

In fact, I would stress that a lot of Christian persons have raced into marriage ceremonies without really seeking out the spiritual basis for what they are doing, without really asking, Is God leading us together? Even Christians are capable of coupling themselves together, just as non-Christians do, without the permission, guidance, or blessing of God. If God has not joined them together, or if they are not prepared to submit their relationship to God after the fact and beseech God so he will indeed join and bless their togetherness, then they do not meet either the pre-requisites for what Jesus and Paul say about marriage, or the pre-requisites for what they say about divorce.

Now I don't know about his application to today, but I have never really thought through in what way the married are 'joined together by God'. I have always assumed that it is because men and women were created to be 'joined together', so if they do get married they are automatically joined together by God. I may be wrong though, but I don't see any biblical justification for Ben Witherington's own idea in the two NT texts using this terminology.

On the subject of what constituted marriage in biblical times, I am no scholar but I always found 1 Corinthians 6:16 ('Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, "The two will become one flesh."') thought-provoking. It uses the phrase 'one flesh' which is used with both the 'God has joined together' passages. Sex it would seem is important to God, because it means quite a lot.

I am hesitant to post this post as I am not in the least qualified, being 100% single, and having not even read I Kissed Dating Goodbye! But I don't think it can do too much harm, although feel free to correct me.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

So... what is the Gospel anyway?


Garbled thoughts on the Sermon on the Mount

I'm still thinking about the Sermon on the Mount. In this post I will recount some of my thoughts and reading over the past week, in a garbled fashion which mirrors my own thinking.

Graham Stanton on the Sermon on the Mount:

Luther also discussed the Sermon in terms of 'law' and 'gospel'. In some of his writings he emphasized that the Sermon is the 'law of Christ' that makes people aware of the gospel of God's grace through Christ: 'we are not able properly to fulfill one tattle out of our own strength...but must always crawl to Christ.' But in other passages Luther stated that the Sermon is not just the accusing law that points to sin: it is also 'gospel'. This is especially true of the beatitudes (5. 3-12). Christ 'does not press, but in a friendly way entices and speaks: "Blessed are the poor."'

By referring in different passages in his writings to the Sermon both as 'law' and as 'gospel', Luther confused some of his later followers. Many Lutheran theologians have stressed that the Sermon is the law that awakens knowledge of sin. But some (notably J. Jeremias [1961]) have claimed that the demands of Jesus in the Sermon are preceded by 'gospel', that is, by his proclamation of the kingdom and by his encouragement to his disciples to share his own sense of sonship.

(p. 292, Stanton, Graham N., A Gospel for a New People: Studies in Matthew, 1992, Edinburgh:T&T Clark)

I think Luther knew what he was doing more that Stanton thinks he did, and I think both can be maintained.

Ulrich Luz says that Jesus' 'doctrine, the "gospel of the kingdom", is contained in the Sermon on the Mount' (p. 42, The Theology of the Gospel of Matthew, 1995, Cambridge:CUP) at the beginning of his discussion on it. However he never really expands on why he thinks it is good news. I agree with Stanton though that we should remember that the sermon is just one of five discourses in Matthew, and so we should not assume that it contains all Matthew wants to recount of Jesus' teaching.

Tom Wright pointed out the obvious (that I missed) that all the obvious parallels to Moses' giving of the law means we should see what Jesus' is doing as inaugurating the New Covenant. Parallels with the Mosaic covenant are helpful. For example, you can think of how the ten commandments are purposely set in the context of Israel's redemption ('I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery...You shall...'). Or you can compare the beatitudes with the blessings/curses of Deuteronomy 28 which is no doubt what Jesus intended. But I do not yet have any conclusions on these comparisons yet.

Jesus' claim to fulfill the law I am convinced must be understood in much the same way as the numerous other references to fulfillment in Matthew, but am not sure what that means yet. Also concerned with the context of the sermon in salvation history, I remember a lecture of Don Carson once where he posed the interesting question, will their be laws in heaven (and the New Creation)? Living in the overlap of the ages I think this is the most profound question in NT ethics. I haven't yet worked out how that applies to the sermon though.

Monday, September 26, 2005

God's desire for his glory, his intra-Trinitarian Love, and John Piper

Just read a post by wink called Why I am no longer a Piperite which is very intelligent and insightful. The best bit is critique of Piper's central concern that God is most concerned with his own glory. He says:

Frankly, I don't think that the traditional Glory of God model is worth salvaging. While the Bible consistently talks about God being concerned for His own glory, I do not agree that His own glory is His ultimate concern. Rather I think that God's inter-Trinitarian love is His ultimate concern. That is to say that the Father's highest concern is to love the Son, and the Son's is to love the Father. Similarly so with the Spirit. Piper takes care to reject this idea using John 17:24-26. Piper states:

From these texts we learn that through all eternity God the Father has beheld the image of his own glory perfectly represented in the person of his Son. Therefore one of the best ways to think about God's infinite enjoyment of his own glory is to think of it as the delight he has in his Son who is the perfect reflection of that glory (See John 17:24-26)...As God the Father contemplates the image of his own glory in the person of his Son, he is infinitely happy." (Desiring God, pg 33)

Thus, according to Piper, God loves the Son because the Son reflects the Father's glory. However, this is in flat contradiction to the very verses he uses to make his point. John 17:24 says "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world." The beloved disciple makes is clear that the Father glorifies the Son because He loves the Son, not the other way around as Piper asserts. Glory is a by-product of Love. (It is possible to glorify someone without loving them. But I assert that it is impossible to love someone with out glorifying them.)

The doctrine of the Trinity is enough to give anyone a headache, but it seems to me that the placing of intra-Trinitarian love as central is dead-right. However, that does not negate the importance of Piper's concern for God's glory, as the glory of each other is so important to each member of the Trinity because of their love for each other. Applying that to us we should love the Father/Jesus/the Spirit and so desire their glory, not visa versa, which should also prevent cold-hearted seeking after God's glory that Piper himself so dislikes.

Wink's second criticism, in my opinion, doesn't stick quite as well largely because he has not absorbed Piper's point that everything you desire/seek/do is done for pleasure. So when Wink argues, against Piper seeking joy in loving his wife, that 'his motivation should...[be] his wife herself' he does not seem to understand that that sort of statement is really just shorthand for 'his motivation should be his own joy in his wife herself'. Seeking joy is not something that you can choose not to do, everything you do is seeking joy whether you like it or not. You can only choose to find joy in something over another.

If you appreciate Piper though go and read the post carefully, it is very good. If you like you can read his review of God and the Gospel too.

HT: Adrian Warnock who sees controversy where I see quibbles.

PS do not get me wrong, I think Piper's God centered theology is greatly needed in the world (I was going to write church, which would have been bad) today. I certainly thank God for how he has used him in my life.

A waste of time and ink? 1 Chronicles 27

A few days back I had the amazing privilege to spend a day with a friend from uni and his wife to be, and to join them in their daily bible reading. They’re great people. They were due to read 1 Chronicles 27-28 and were celebrating the fact they had almost finishing the lists and genealogies that the Chronicler was so fond of. I shared their sentiment.

However, as 1 Chronicles 27 was read out, I tried to imagine what the post-exilic Jews (subjects of the enormous Persian empire) who first heard the list read would have been thinking. Hearing it read aloud was a great benefit as so often when you read them alone you skip them over, or your brain switches off as you try and remember 2 Tim 3:16.

It begins by describing how the army was organised so that every month of the year was covered by a division of 24,000, a number drummed into your head by the repetition. However, there is no mention of war here (they have been fought and one) but the country is safely protected by this ordered force. The list of commanders from all corners of a united nation tells a different story to the post-exilic Jews for whom a united nation must have seemed little more than a myth. Reinforcing this the next list tells of the leaders of each tribe. The latter Jews, and us, are then treated to a list of David’s (and the nation’s) great and diverse wealth, all organised by different named people. The lists communicate a sense of stable prosperity to me than any prose ever could, making much more real than vague descriptions.

This picture of prosperity, unity, peace, independence, and above all ordered stability must have seemed like a dream to the post-exilic Jews who knew only poverty, could not imagine unity, could not remember real peace, could not foresee independence from such a great empire, and had been buffeted from one corner of the known world to the other with not even a stable subjugator. All this is intimately connected by the Chronicler to the person of David, the designer of the temple who had a heart after God's own. Chapter 28 is basically David's challenge to Solomon and the people to follow his example (and to go further in completing the temple), and serve God 'with a whole heart and with a willing mind'. The benefits will follow forever if they obey God’s commandments.

Saul never really gets a look-in in Chronicles, and the narrative only really starts from this great height for the people of Israel. The rest of Chronicles charts the continually falling fortunes of the people, that is until there is a glimpse of light when the exiles return at the end by Cyrus' decree, which is not that the people return, but that the temple is rebuilt (necessitating the peoples return). I imagine the original hearers must have been filled with a sense of what could have been if Solomon and the people had been up to David’s challenge. At the same time looking on a different temple they must also have been challenged themselves to follow David's example, and looked for God to bless them in it. Maybe they could do better this time. A true descendent of David to rule over them would help as well though...

I came out of that time buzzing with thoughts of God’s blessing...I have had a great time recently reading the bible with others.

PS feel free to pick me up if you think I have Chronicles, and especially chapter 27, all wrong. I haven't really read it for a long while.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Blog Redesign

I've adapted the underlying standard Blogger template which my blog has had since the beginning. It's a bit more of a clean look, perhaps even clinical (perhaps a sad reflection of my character). But it is only the result of a few hours work, most of which was spent trying to work out how on earth you used Paint Shop Pro to create the image at the top (btw thanks to 4 Free Image Host for hosting that). It needs more fiddling, but that will have to wait for another night when I both have time, and don't feel like thinking.

It's not like I get many visitors to impress, although I now have 4 links according to Technocrati, a record for me (Although the generous Dave Bish accounts for 3 of those). This suits me fine as I already worry too much about the damage push-button publishing could do in my hands (and only slightly less about how I consistently embarrass myself).

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Beatitutes are Good News!

The Beatitutes (Matthew 5:1-11) have never been a favourite passage of mine. They have always seemed to me to have the flavour of 'do this, and this, and this, ...etc and you will be blessed', and as a card-carrying Protestant I find that hard to like. Jeff Meyer's recent post entitled The Gospel in the Gospels made me think about them all over again. I am not sure about much of what he has to say, although it is very thought-provoking, but he pointed out that the few verses before the Sermon on the Mount should control much of our understanding of what Matthew was doing. 4:23 reads:

And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.

That could be described as Matthew's summation of Jesus' ministry, and when chapters 5-7 are the Sermon on the Mount and 8-9 are various healing miracles, it suggests 5-9 is an expansion of that one verse. That does suggest to me that the Gospel is proclaimed in the Sermon on the Mount (even if not all of it). And I now agree with Jeff Meyers that:

the Good News of the Kingdom is that those who teach and live according God's instruction as laid out in the Law and Prophets and embodied in Jesus' life will be called great.

That the Beatitutes are a message of Good News to the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek etc seems obvious. How I for all this time read them as a How-to-be-holy-and-so-blessed guide, when they are a proclamation of something God is going to do for his faithful people, is beyond me.

Jeff Meyers deserves to be heard again:

Okay. So how is THIS good news?

Whether anyone in this life recognizes it or not, those who seek to be scrupulous about their conformity to God's instruction are blessed by God.

This is NOT to say that they merit God's favor or that they earn their position of greatness by means of brownie points with God. Rather, remember, Jesus is speaking to his disciples, to the Israel of God who have been chosen by God, graciously redeemed by God, favored by God's unmerited love and grace, and made part of his kingdom.

This train of thought lead me to a few other passages which are along the same theme:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;

(Isaiah 61:1-2)

And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.

(Luke 1:46-53)

I still think out loud...

PS. I think Jeff Meyers is saying something quite different to me, so please read his own stuff before catagorising him (even then you may struggle).

Jesus accused of anti-nomism?

Martyn Lloyd-Jones said:

There is no better test as to whether a man is really preaching the New Testament gospel of salvation than this, that some people might misunderstand it and misinterpret it to mean that it really amounts to this, that because you are saved by grace alone it does not matter at all what you do; you can go on sinning as much as you like because it will redound all the more to the glory of grace. If my preaching and presentation of the gospel of salvation does not expose it to that misunderstanding, then it is not the gospel.

It has since been repeated countless times by countless people, and everytime I hear it it winds me up. It seems to me to be leading to a reduction of sinning to a harmless inconsiquentiality, something not so uncommon already I fear. So when Dave Bish brought up the subject (see also JollyBlogger), I was tempted to fire off a comment that while that was clearly true of Paul, it could never be considered true of Jesus. You see I've been reading the Sermon on the Mount and that is all about morality. But then I thought of the comment of Jesus in the same Sermon,

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.   (Matthew 5:17)

Implied in that is that some did think Jesus came to abolish the law. I'm still not entirely happy with the Lloyd-Jones quote, but thankfully have not made any rash comments, and will think some more.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Random pickings

I still have no time to do post anything of substance, but will note what I have noticed recently.

Scot McKnight has a great post on how think about the unity of scripture here. I got a bit grilled by someone the other day about the authority of scripture in the light of the differences between the OT and NT, which reminded me again how I leave the question on the back burner most of the time (probably due to the way it got in the way of communication with the Father once). Another thing making me think about how I handle the diversity of scripture faithfully was a review of Greg Beale's The Temple and the Church's Mission in theRBL (HT Mark Goodacre).

Elsewhere, meeting me where I am, was a interview with Richard Foster and Dallas Willard on spiritual formation/discipleship. Willard says:

What sometimes goes on in all sorts of Christian institutions is not formation of people in the character of Christ; it's teaching of outward conformity. You don't get in trouble for not having the character of Christ, but you do if you don't obey the laws.

It is so important to understand that character formation is not behavior modification. Lots of people misunderstand it and put it in the category of Alcoholics Anonymous. But in spiritual formation, we're not talking about behavior modification.

In an attempt to rethink things freshly through using different and more explicit language (I'm still thinking about jargon a lot) the phrase 'character formation' should be used more, for just the reasons Willard and Foster describe. (HT Tod Blosinger.)

Posts close to my heart

Both Mark Horne (briefly) and Tod Bolsinger (more extensively) both posted on a subject close to my heart today - The cosmic nature of redemption (of which our salvation is just a part). (Although I should be careful that I do not give the wrong impression, as our part is the central part because of the way the world was created in relationship with us)

I should probably write more, but, as you may have guessed by my lack of blogging this week, I am busy and emotionally a little tired. All I wanted was to share my enjoyment of these posts.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Worship and meeting together

It is interesting to compare the great post by Derek Thomas on worship, and Mark Horne's even better follow-up, when, like me, you have spent so much time in a segment of British Evangelicalism heavily influenced by Sydney Anglicans. The Presbyterians in America are more than happy to describe meeting together as worship (in a sense above the usual) and even talk of Sunday meetings as entering the presence of God. In contrast the Sydney Anglicans get all worked up about anything of that sort (Pentecostal songs about accending up Mount Zion being particularly disliked).

The wonderful thing about the web is how it can show you so many different points of view forcing you to go back to scripture. I can see the strengths of both perspectives, but will think about it a bit more.

If you want to read some examples of the Sydney Anglican view try either Tony Payne's article on the church, or his email discussion with Don Carson on worship.

PS you may have noticed, but probably have not, that Mark Horne has been promoted to my favourite blogs list, replacing the currently quite quiet Beginning with Moses Blog. The last few weeks he has been producing some very thought provoking stuff and is worth a look.

---------- update (9th Sept) ----------

Just to clarify: the two parties I mentioned above are obviously operating in totally different contexts and so should not be seen as propagating opposite sides of the one argument. Each is reacting to different issues to the other, and they would no doubt agree on more than they disagree.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Liam Fox, wanabee conservative party leader

Thank you BBC

I have never posted on politics before but Liam Fox announced that he is to run to be conservative party leader and was speaking on Radio Five Live. I was struck by what he said when he set out his stall saying that when the tories got in in 1979 the problem was that the economy was falling apart, now the problem is that society is falling apart! It struck me as rare for a politician to stress the needs of societal cohesion over economic management or public service management...all our politicians seem to be managers now!

I doubt he has got a chance of winning, although there is a lot of time to go, but if you want to read a little bit more (stress on the 'little') try here.

Teaching for the sake of teaching

One of the guest bloggers at the Blue Fish Project posted the following today:

I heard something very wise today when our church minister told me that the whole way he thought about his work changed when he realised he deeply loved the people in his church.

From that moment on he ceased to be a bible teacher, but a pastor who teaches the bible. A true shepherd, a lover of his flock who wants the best for them. A man who sees people, not projects and whose love drives him to serve them the best he could.

This reminds me of a comment of Graham Beynon, in his great little book God's New Community:

Lot's of churches are known as places of good teaching [...] I'd far prefer it, though, for a church to be known as a place of good learning! Because that's what the teaching is supposed to achieve.

I we focus on the 'teaching' then we can easily think that if we have decent sermons on a Sunday morning and meaty Bible studies in our small groups then we are fulfilling this priority. Well, we may be, but not necessarily. We have to ask, 'Is all of that teaching, all that, input, achieving learning?' If it is not, then we need to make some changes. That may be a change in how we give our sermons, or the way we lead our Bible studies, or how we listen to a sermon or take part part in our Bible studies.

Reading that again now I am really challenged to sort out how I learn from others, listening to sermons, or taking part in Bible studies. As well as be aware of that point in the very small amount of teaching I do. I also think that in some of the circles I move in, where teaching is everything, lots of other people also need to hear that.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Grace grinding and listening

Scot McKnight is surprised by the reaction to his post on what he calls 'grace grinders', which I commented on a little while back. Answering requests for biblical examples he has posted on the subject for the third time.

His last post, with some powerful examples, has made me think a bit about how we should present the gospel (or 'grace') to people, in all their variety. Jesus remarkably showed nothing but the God's love to some terrible sinners, and told parables about a father/lord that did the same, and McKnight lists some examples. However, it is of note that in most of the contexts the listener/recipient is more than aware of their sinfulness (even if not in a fully orbed sense), or at least of their unloveliness. When dealing with the proud, including his own disciples Jesus was happy to lead with condemnation, like many other biblical writers. Similarly, I think we should be listening to those we speak to, not coming with a ready made presentation of the gospel in hand (although they have their uses), telling them what they most need to hear.

The judgment theme in the sacraments

Very strangely, the other day I picked up C. H. Dodd’s festschrift (ed. W. D. Davies and D. Daube, The Background of the New Testament and its Eschatology, 1956, Cambridge: CUP) at my library and an article by C. F. D. Moule entitled 'The Judgment Theme in the Sacraments' caught my eye. It was a brilliant article, and I thought I would attempt to sum up briefly what it had to say which has both interested me, and helped me to relate through Christ to the Father.


Moule begins by looking at baptism, and picking up the well known association of the sacrament with dying and rising with Christ, contends that baptism should be seen as 'voluntary death', a 'pleading guilty, an acceptance of the sentence [of death, because of sin]' (p.465). Death, Moule is clear, is 'the ultimate verdict on sin', a verdict that Christ accepted upon himself and referred to in terms of baptism (Mark 10:38; Luke 12:50). The Christian by accepting the verdict upon himself, in union with Christ, is also united with Christ's own vindication by the resurrection. So it is in the Christian’s baptism that John the Baptist's prediction that Christ would baptise with both Spirit and fire is fulfilled.

Moule is also at pains to remind us that filial obedience (whether our own or Christ's) will always lead to death in a fallen world, and that it is only by accepting this suffering that the 'gateway to man’s destiny' can be found (p.466). Later he considers Jesus' command to take up our cross in this light, noting that we are not told there to endure suffering, but to 'take it up'! In summary he says:

'Baptism is essentially pleading guilty, accepting the verdict 'setting to one’s seal that God is true' (John 3:33), 'admitting that God is in the right' (Luke 7:29); it is dying, it is rising again; so that by baptism an individual, or indeed the whole Church corporately, is (in a sense) brought past the great assize, past the final judgment of the last day, into the life of the new age' (p. 467)

To avoid the necessity of this death sentence as Peter did at Caeserea Philippi, is to have a human outlook, which in seeking to avoid death actually results in death. In contrast to be baptised is to be past judgment once-for-all, hence baptism is also a once-for-all thing.

The Lord's Supper

However, as any Christian soon realises, the 'absolute' of the birth of a new life, and death of the old is not seen completed in the life of the Church. Some may think that the new creation has already happened, others may think nothing has changed, both would be wrong. Something has changed permanently so it would be wrong to baptise again, however we are not perfect and so constant renewal is needed, and there is a sacrament to go with this – the Eucharist.

Preparation for the Lord’s Supper also involves self-examination or self-judgment (1 Cor 11; Didache 14?), and a fresh acceptance of God’s verdict on sin, and of forgiveness. In fact, Moule shows, self-judgment is a common theme in the NT although it is not always connected with the Eucharist explicitly. But some, like some of the Corinthians, refuse the acceptance of death upon ourselves and so join the 'secular powers in pronouncing a sentence of "Guilty" on Jesus' being blind to his vindication in the resurrection (p. 472). Therefore 'the Eucharist is an occasion of judgment – either of voluntary self-judgment, in acceptance of God's verdict on fallen man, or else of unwilling liability to God’s judgment as it falls upon those who, in the blindness of selfish secularism, side against the Lord Jesus' (p. 472). Thus Paul speaks about disease and death occurring among the Corinthians as a judgment for their lack of discernment in judging themselves. But unlike with baptism here the purpose is to discipline, not to condemn - the once-for-all cannot be denied. Interestingly the reference of Jesus to taking up cross, can be picked up again, except the Lord’s supper finds it parallel more with Luke’s version where we are told to take up the cross daily.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Am I a grace grinder, and should I be ashamed?

Scot McKnight has this to say:

There is a kind of writing, preaching, and talking about grace that instead of offering grace and extolling the goodness of God, seems to use grace as the backhand of God that is used to grind humans into the ground as it talks about grace. I'm having a hard time being gracious about this.

It is the sort of communication that does extol grace, God's good grace, but it makes that grace an angry thing God has to do because he is gracious. God, being so loving but downright ticked off with humans for their sins and stiff-neckedness and hard-heartedness, is still gracious to us. That sort of idea.

This is a massive distortion of what God actually does to us. James tells us, don't forget, that if we ask God in faith that God gives to us simply or unbegrudgingly - and the grace grinders tend to make God a begruding God of grace rather than a delightful and pro-active God of grace.

These people can't talk about grace without emphasizing that we are wretches; they can't read Yancey's What's So Amazing'? without saying it isn't the whole story;

I do not want to be the person described in the first two paragraphs, but I do want to say that Yancey's What's So Amazing'? is not the whole story. While I do not want to emphasise that we are wretches when I talk about grace, I do want it an important part of the discussion to be that we are, or rather were. God's love to us seems to just become just warm and fuzzy when I do, not rich and steadfast, and Christ-exhalting. Maybe I'm just blind to the damage I inflict by using grace as a grinding instrument. Maybe I'm not a grace grinder by McKnight's definition anyway, so I shouldn't worry. Maybe I should sleep instead of regurgitating my thoughts to a computer screen.

---------Update (7th Sept)---------

The discussion has continued, I need to think some more about it before I post any thoughts.