Cultural-Redemptive Theology

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I know what redemptive-historical theology is. But Dr. William Edgar (apologetics professor at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia) has finally given name to something that has eluded me for a long time. It’s called cultural-redemptive theology. It’s all the rage at The Gospel and Culture Project. From what I gather, unlike redemptive-historical, cultural-redemptive theology basically means that redemption isn’t exclusively for image bearers anymore—it’s for any part of creation that is simply groaning.

What I can never quite understand is why some cultural redeemers can redeem culture but others are out to lunch. Can someone—anyone—elucidate why Jeff Skillen can shake down Chuck Colson for confusing his kingdoms on a site that talks about cultural-redemptive theology with a straight face? Isn’t Chuck really just doing his level best to apply the following principles:

“…apply the Gospel as truth capable of transforming human culture…the application of the Christian faith to aspects of contemporary culture ranging from media, justice and politics to aesthetics and globalization…the church’s calling includes fulfilling Scripture’s command to glorify God in this world by influencing it to more truly reflect his character…the Bible [presents] an unfolding historical process that culminates in the coming of Christ’s kingdom…all things cohere in Christ, who is the Lord of life and therefore of culture. History, as God ordains it, is moving toward a new creation — a new heaven and earth. At the center of this process is God redeeming us so that we might know and enjoy him and his world in this life and the next. A prime aspect of this knowing involves his speaking to us through his word. God guides us in how we may work in a world that is fallen, yet one in which he is at work. As a result, to understand culture in a cultural-redemptive framework is to understand that God can and will work with us and through us so that this world might more truly reflect his character. As a result, we believe that the church can and must fulfill its calling to interact dynamically and thoughtfully with the key questions and issues our world faces.”

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87 Responses to Cultural-Redemptive Theology

  1. Greg says:

    “We can, on biblical grounds, call that newly broadened community of faith God’s new Israel, the community of those being gathered together into the kingdom of God. But under no circumstances may we identify America or any other nation with either ancient Israel or this new Israel in Christ. To do that is to radically misunderstand the Bible.”

    It would seem to me that their primary charge is that Colson thinks that America is/was-but-can-be-again in a special relationship with God; a second Israel. Unless I missed it, I think they are still both pursuing the same end of cultural redemption, but seeing different means (perhaps).

    Other comments regarding their website:

    “The GCP has two primary distinctives: 1) its theological rooting and 2) its core belief that the church’s calling includes fulfilling Scripture’s command to glorify God in this world by influencing it to more truly reflect his character.”

    Regarding “its theological rooting”, its statement of faith is limited to the Nicene Creed. That is a distinctive?!? Apparently there is a distinction between the theological rooting and the “core belief” as they are listed separately. The Scriptural supports for #2 were sadly missing.

    “The GCP’s approach, known as cultural-redemptive theology, interprets the Bible as presenting an unfolding historical process that culminates in the coming of Christ’s kingdom.”

    What should one make of “process” and “coming”?

    What is their basis for interpreting the Bible this way? (Post-millennialism?)

    Finally, I found this link to be interesting (and who wouldn’t, given GCP’s “distinctives”).

    http://www.gospelandculture.org/2009/01/should-god-ultimate-brand/

    …brings to mind Ken Myer’s book, All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes.

  2. D G Hart says:

    Zrim, ding, ding, ding, ding. I went over to Skillen’s post and couldn’t resist a comment. I would have linked to your post here but most of these blogs don’t have those clever doo-dads to create such links. I encourage you to go over there and pile on.

  3. Zrim says:

    god,

    I would but I now have Jeff Cagle on the brain.

  4. RubeRad says:

    Wait, I’m confused; is Edgar an advocate of “cultural-redemptive theology,” or did he merely coin the term so he would have a better handle to criticize it (like Christian Smith’s term “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism”)? Who/what is the blockquote from?

  5. Greg says:

    According to the website, he’s on the board.

  6. Greg says:

    (an advocate)

  7. Chris Sherman says:

    Seems to me our call is to make disciples, not redeem culture. However, it does not mean that as Christians we do not have anything to say to cultural. We are called to be a blessing in the common grace arena and as such there is a certain amount of redemption of culture that occurs when we do.

    The Common Good and Common Grace- Don Eberly
    http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php?page=articledisplay&var1=ArtRead&var2=513&var3=main

  8. Zrim says:

    Rube,

    I don’t know who coined the term, but it doesn’t seem to matter since Edgar is all ’bout cultural redemption.

    Chris,

    I agree that we have plenty to say to the culture, it just isn’t what is intutitve, it’s more counter-intuitive. In other words, instead of standing up when called upon we sit down.

    If, as you say, we are not called to redeem culture, how, as you then also say, does a certain amount of cultural redemption happen? How does not being called to something result in its happening? We are called to make disciples and it happens, so how does cultural redemption happen if we are not so called?

  9. Chris Sherman says:

    Unintentional by-product from a regenerate person’s sphere of influence.

  10. Chris Sherman says:

    Influence of salt in a bland world.

  11. RubeRad says:

    I agree with “unintential by-product” and “influence of salt”, but I wouldn’t call it cultural “redemption”. Just plain ol’ improvement.

  12. Chris Sherman says:

    “Plain ol’ improvement” works too. Not redemption as in salvific.

  13. Zrim says:

    Chris and Rube,

    That’s what I thought. Methinks not all the transformationalism has been shaken off.

    But I’m still studying with my daughter instead of using osmosis:

    https://confessionalouthouse.wordpress.com/2009/01/15/voila-transformed/

  14. Chris Sherman says:

    Z,

    Whatcha mean?

    “That’s what I thought. Methinks not all the transformationalism has been shaken off.”

  15. Zrim says:

    Chris,

    The long answer is in the link.

    The short answer is that, I could be wrong, but “unintentional by-product from a regenerate person’s sphere of influence” sure sounds a lot like it has the basic principles of transformationalism still in the background. Are you saying I am improving my sphere of influence without even knowing it?

  16. D G Hart says:

    Chris, but what if the influence of salt in a bland world only ends up making the world safe for Mormonism? (Ken Myer’s phrase, not mine.) Now, either we can say that Christianity is responsible for all the great works of art and the West’s ethical standards, or we can be a whole lot more restrained and suggest that a lot of the good things that have happened in the West are the result of lots of influences — from Aristotle to Jefferson. It is the idea that Christianity deserves credit and has an obligation to redeem/transform/improve society that just doesn’t wash with historical experience. Nor am I sure that it harmonizes with the experience of Christ and his apostles. They didn’t improve much. Oh, wait, they did, it just wasn’t cultural or political. Why can’t we be content with their influence?

  17. Zrim says:

    It is the idea that Christianity deserves credit and has an obligation to redeem/transform/improve society that just doesn’t wash with historical experience.

    Don’t miss this, Rube and Chris. Notions of “improving, salting and lighting” seem to have a lot more to do with what we wish were true than what really has happened.

    If it were true that we had the kind of influence you suggest then why does my immediate sphere of influence still seem so gosh-darn human? Is it me? Hang on to your hats, but I can’t help but think there is a lot of shared space here with prosperity gospel, just dialed down for the more staid who prefer wallets over money-clips.

  18. dgh says:

    Zrim, good point on dialed-down prosperity gospel. It does seem that neo-Calvinists have a hard time when God answers prayer by not healing, not finding me a job, and not orchestrating the triumph of democracy and justice. Which is to say, it is a theology of glory, not the cross. Granted, I’d prefer glory to the cross. But if the question is what would Jesus do, isn’t the answer fairly obvious?

  19. Chris Sherman says:

    “Are you saying I am improving my sphere of influence without even knowing it?”

    One would hope that there is a tangible difference between a regenerate person and one who is not. Is there no external manifestation of inward grace? Does one in union with Christ behave the same as one who’s father is the devil? If we are the same, then what’s the point? You might as well stay pagan and enjoy life without any guilt.

    If we are no longer this: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
    then surely we must look like something else.

    “but what if the influence of salt in a bland world only ends up making the world safe for Mormonism?”

    I think I am misunderstood. Let me reiterate my point. I am not espousing redemption of culture, rather I am saying that as those who are redeemed, we by our new nature exude a certain amount of sanctification to the world around us. This sanctification, if only temporal and non-salvific, is a blessing to all who are under common grace.

    I am not saying that Christianity can do a better job of civility than any other religion. Or maybe that’s just it, it truly can, but it is not our calling. I agree with the theology of the cross, it is our calling to suffer in this age. That was never in question for me.

    Certainly Christ did not come to set up an earthly kingdom.

    Better to elect a wise Turk than a foolish Christian as Luther says.

  20. Chris Sherman says:

    I meant “civilizing”, not “civility ” my apologies to Mr. Guinness.

  21. RubeRad says:

    I still say sanctification makes the world a better place; maybe I’ll add the caveat that if the localized region of the “world” is anti-Christianity, then sanctification causes more conflict (Matt 5:11-12).

    But apart from that (as long as the “world” is properly secular), more sanctification means less sinning against neighbors.

    It seems to me that anything bad in society which Christianity can be “blamed” for (slavery? crusades?) doesn’t actually result from Christianity, but from a perversion of Christianity.

    And anything good in society which some might want to credit Christianity for, can only be indirect.

    For instance are not Western literacy and the scientific revolution “because of” the Reformation? Well, yes — because the priesthood of all believers says all Christians need equal access to God’s word, thus all are taught to read, thus society as a whole is better-educated, … Did the reformers set out to spark a scientific revolution? Of course not. But would they deny that the blossoming of the West was a happy side-effect of the Reformation? I don’t think so.

  22. Zrim says:

    Chris,
    I think what is at work in your view is the idea that sanctification, as it were, easily translates from way down deep inside and out the finger tips, almost the way one might think of grace as some sort of stuff that oozes out. But I tend to think of the temple of God as quite hermetically sealed where nothing escapes.

    It is also interesting that you use words like “tangible” and phrases like “surely we must look like something else.” I think the fixation on the immediate, seen and tangible is what informs the theology of glory, while the mediate, unseen and intangible are traits of a theology of the cross. Like I suggested before, Jacob and Esau were twins. Whatever else that may imply, the realities that made all the difference between them were those which were unseen. And Jacob wasn’t exactly an angel—he seemed to be more sinful than not. What made him different was more archetypal than ectypal.

    Rube,
    It seems to me that anything bad in society which Christianity can be “blamed” for (slavery? crusades?) doesn’t actually result from Christianity, but from a perversion of Christianity.

    That sounds good. But I think it may be more accurate to say that sin accounts for evil, not religion or irreligion. Forget sexy stuff like slavery and crusades; when I think or say or do evil things it isn’t because I’ve not grasped or applied Christianity well but because I am a sinner. Instead of trying to protect Christianity as being a useful system to make things better (against its alleged perversions) it might serve better to assert what it teaches, namely that we are sinners and that’s why bad things happen.

    And “more sanctification doesn’t mean less sinning,” it means more confessing. More sanctification makes us more cognizant of our sin and need for a savior. It’s less Pharisee and more tax collector.

  23. Chris Sherman says:

    “But I tend to think of the temple of God as quite hermetically sealed where nothing escapes. ”

    Huh? wouldn’t this mean we can go on sinning cause it’s just external and the internal is sealed?

    “I think the fixation on the immediate, seen and tangible is what informs the theology of glory, while the mediate, unseen and intangible are traits of a theology of the cross.”

    Fixation? You are reading too much into what I was saying. How about a healthy fear of God?
    A desire to do what is pleasing out of a heart of gratitude for Christ’s finished work on the cross?

  24. Zrim says:

    Chris,

    I don’t follow, but, no, we cannot go on sinning. We have to be covenant keepers, pursue God’s law, third use, law of Christ, etc.

    Ok, “fixation” may be too strong. How about “tendency”? But, since I think you may have missed the point, do you know what I mean by these two theologies? Nothing I said has anything to do with contradicting “a healthy fear of God, a desire to do what is pleasing out of a heart of gratitude for Christ’s finished work on the cross.” In fact, it has a lot to do with affirming these things.

  25. Chris Sherman says:

    Yes, I understand and embrace the theology of the cross. The difference betwixt the two theologies is that of synergism and monergism. The difference of the “victorious Christian life” and that of faith (even this is a gift from God) in a victorious savior as our righteousness. I hope that was not in question.

    Perhaps I was reading too much into your posts, including the “voila” post. It was sounding like you were eliminating any personal responsibility, aka hyper Calvinism. Which of recent has left a particular bad taste in my mouth.

  26. mt says:

    “And “more sanctification doesn’t mean less sinning,” it means more confessing. More sanctification makes us more cognizant of our sin and need for a savior. It’s less Pharisee and more tax collector.”

    Great point. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long, long time and you’ve hit the nail on it’s head.

    With regard to the “sanctification” or “improvement” of culture, it’s interesting to note the difference that the author of Genesis makes with regard to the line of Lamech and the line of Enoch. Lamech’s line (descending from the seed of the serpent) makes significant and positive contributions to society (metallurgy)and culture (music) among other things (bigomy not included). While Enoch and his progeny (belonging to the seed of the woman) are characterized by their cultic commitment. Taking a page from Zrim, how does “Less Lamech and more Enoch” sound with regard to sanctification/improvement of culture? (Actually, it doesn’t sound good at all…my bad.)

    Zrim, you should have someone compile your little zingers into an anthology – I’d read it.

  27. Zrim says:

    mt,

    Great idea. I might even read it, too.

  28. Zrim says:

    Chris,

    Perhaps I was reading too much into your posts, including the “voila” post. It was sounding like you were eliminating any personal responsibility, aka hyper Calvinism. Which of recent has left a particular bad taste in my mouth.

    That’s OK, I get that a lot. I take comfort that Paul was accused of antinomianism but never any form of transformationalism (or moralism or legalism).

    I might suggest you have that “reading too much into” thing looked at though. It might have something to do with why you think we aren’t called to redeem culture but we end up doing it anyway. I still don’t get how that works.

  29. RubeRad says:

    And more sanctification doesn’t mean less sinning, it means more confessing.

    Pish. I’ll go so far as: more than simply less sinning, sanctification also means more recognizing and confessing sin, even to the extent that (however sin may be quantified), the more that we recognize and confess is greater than the less that we sin.

    Nevertheless, sanctification does involve less sinning, which is good for anybody who is being sinned against.

  30. Zrim says:

    Rube,

    Does that mean you won’t be compiling the anthology of Zrimisms? OK, mt, you’re hired.

    I guess I’m way too Calvinist on this one, Rube. I have no idea what is to be gained by holding out for “less sinning” along side “more confession.” I think I’m more a part of the human problem than solution, even with the Holy Spirit indwelling. Sounds like you may still want Xianity to be useful on man’s terms.

  31. dgh says:

    Chris, you wrote: “One would hope that there is a tangible difference between a regenerate person and one who is not. Is there no external manifestation of inward grace?”

    Does this mean that if you observe someone sinning you automatically think, hey, he’s not a Christian? Maybe not, but I don’t know how you avoid some kind of judgmentalism (that may in fact be way wrong because saints continue to sin) with an assertion that grace must show itself tangibly, not to mention the way you will be fooled by hypocrisy. There are, of course, visible actions that matter, prayer, praise, hearing the preached word, taking the sacrament. But the logic of looking for an across the board difference among Christians over against non-Christians makes these holy acts simply forms of nominalism — they don’t count, but wearing your faith on your sleeve (or your t-shirt) does.

    Rube, if you want to give Protestantism credit for science and the West more generally, then what do you do with Darwin and Michael Madoff? Doesn’t science lead to evolution? Don’t free markets lead to extortion? Maybe not. But how do you take credit for only the good things in the West? Don’t you have to assume responsibility for it all? In which case, doesn’t the idea of decoupling Christianity and culture look pretty good?

  32. Chris Sherman says:

    Does this mean that if you observe someone sinning you automatically think, hey, he’s not a Christian?

    No, why would I think that? Why would you think that I would think that?

    One might be lead to believe that you think there is no difference between a believer and a non- believer’s ethos, when clearly there so much in scripture that say there is.

    So many references to choose from,

    From Galatians
    But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

    As to the science dialogue going on here, to be fair, Islam (of old) has made substantial contributions to the fields of medicine, astronomy and botany.

  33. Chris Sherman says:

    forgot to quote the first part of my last post,

    “Does this mean that if you observe someone sinning you automatically think, hey, he’s not a Christian? “

  34. Chris Sherman says:

    Hey, I’ve got an official account now. Now you can see what I look like, if it works.

  35. Zrim says:

    Chris,

    Now you can see what I look like, if it works.

    What was that about a tendency for the tangible and readily seen? Kidding.

  36. Chris Sherman says:

    If RC Sproul can be a mushroom, I can be a donkey.

    I just realized that it is actually a representation of my name- Christopher.

  37. D G Hart says:

    Chris, but can you see an ethos? The reason I think you might think a person who sins is not a Christian is because you believe Christians will be markedly different from non-Christians. Isn’t that right? So if Chrisitans are not markedly different from non-Christians, what else am I to think on the basis of your assertion?

  38. Zrim says:

    Chris,

    To follow up on DGH’s point, what I think is at the end of your logic is that my immigrant Hindi neighbors may be more Xian than me, since they are models of outward virtues I would think you likely have in mind (or at least wouldn’t rule out): self-discipline, self-sacrifice, obedience, prudence, retsraint and charity. I like to think I have those, too, but I have to admit I wish I had it like them.

    What I’ve got is a stupid piece of bread and vial of wine once a week. And my point is that those things are what actually make the difference. Or does that sound foolish?

  39. mt says:

    DG and Zrim.

    Do us all a favor and stop making so much sense.

  40. Chris Sherman says:

    “The reason I think you might think a person who sins is not a Christian is because you believe Christians will be markedly different from non-Christians.”

    Am I mistaken or does not Paul make this assertion over and over?

    Is there then no external attestation of Christ’s indwelling? Do you continue in the same patterns as before? I like to sin, God likes to forgive, what a great relationship?

    Do you have the book of James in your bible?

    Is not faith (belief) evidenced by works?

    Please make some argument from scripture at least and then I may believe you.

  41. Chris Sherman says:

    Zrim, what am I to do with the vast amount of exhortations towards (for lack of a better term) holy living in Paul’s writing? So I just partake of the bread and wine and go about my sinful l lifestyle? Or do I now, by God’s mercies, offer myself as a living sacrifice?

  42. mt says:

    One more thing though, Zrim…

    I was thinking about that sanctification zinger last night again and couldn’t help be see a misplaced emphasis on increased recognition of sin(fulness) and (perhaps) not enough dying unto sin. I was discussing it with my wife last night and we both concluded that although a spiritual reality, sanctification must have some sort of visible manifestation (although I’m not exactly sure how). Of course I don’t intend on saying that I can regard who is/isn’t a Christian by the holiness of their lives (a confession of a faith is good for me), but I can’t help but think that Scripture and the confessions speak clearly of an “outward” change (i.e., “dying unto sin and living unto righteousness”, “several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified”, etc).

    BTW, I have no problems putting together an anthology. Now if only I can find a Christian publishing house that will take your work…

  43. Chris Sherman says:

    I found this to be helpful, Michael Horton in MR- article titled, “Reformation Piety”

    http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php?page=articledisplay&var1=ArtRead&var2=319&var3=searchresults&var4=Search&var5=piety

    His conclusion,
    “Authentic Christian piety is expressed with others over a lifetime, as God’s people are exposed to the work of the Spirit through Word and Sacrament, so that their union with Christ is concretely experienced in this life by their union with each other. This piety is not as flamboyant as the individualistic piety encouraged by spiritual fads, but it runs deeper and further under God’s promised blessing. Then, instead of concentrating exclusively on our own spiritual blessing, we become instruments of blessing for others wherever God has placed us in this world and in the flock he has purchased with his own blood.”

  44. Chris Sherman says:

    “Hindi neighbors may be more Xian than me, since they are models of outward virtues I would think you likely have in mind (or at least wouldn’t rule out): self-discipline, self-sacrifice, obedience, prudence, retsraint and charity.”

    I would never argue that Christianity has the market on morality, however I like to think a covenant community of believers is somehow gonna be doing different things than a street gang. Maybe things are different in Michigan?

  45. Zrim says:

    Chris,

    The point isn’t at all that there is no category for holy living, rather to put that category into a better perspective. If imperatives are grounded in indicatives, and those indicatives include something about our sin, then our sin must be ever before us.

    Yes, we should look different from street gangs. But the problem here is that we run the risk of “comparing ourselves down to easy devils and handily declaring ourselves fit.” The comparison should actually be in the other direction, don’t you think? If even the holiest amongst us make but the smallest advancement, if even our good works are but filthy rags, we must be prepared to understand ourselves as more sinful than not even as we pursue holy living. Like I said a few posts above, everything I am saying is said within a pretty conventionally Reformed understanding of the third use of the law, etc.

    If it’s true that our sanctification is as immediately transferrable and immediately known then it would also seem to follow that believers are better human beings than unbelievers. I don’t think you’d say that. But if you reject the idea that we are better human beings than unbelievers on what grounds do you do so? Civility, general politeness or a doctrine of sin?

    Mt,

    Your point is well taken. But, again, just as the point isn’t that there is no category for holy living, it also isn’t that mortification and vivification aren’t not happening. Rather, it seems to me that these things are much more mysterious in nature and efforts to reveal them not a little indulgent and dangerous.

  46. Chris Sherman says:

    I can live with that.

  47. D G Hart says:

    Chris, maybe you’ve given up. But I’ll respond one more time. You earlier quoted Paul from Galatians: “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

    Two points: An implication of this is that Christians will “look” different from a street gang. But it is not exactly an exhortation to look different. And I think the constant harranging on looking different — I have some ministers in mind more than you — leads to a Christian exceptionalistm that invites self-righteousness.

    Second point: weren’t the churches that Paul wrote to guilty of ” sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies” and didn’t he still address them as saints? (I’m thinking especially of Corinth.)

  48. mt says:

    “But, again, just as the point isn’t that there is no category for holy living, it also isn’t that mortification and vivification aren’t not happening.”

    Double negatives are hard enough as it is, but triple negatives?? Urgh…my brain hurts.

    Nevertheless, I get what you’re saying.

  49. Zrim says:

    mt,

    I’m feeling confident about my decision to hire you. Thanks for the editorial eye.

    (…it also isn’t that mortification and vivification aren’t happening…)

  50. Chris Sherman says:

    DG,

    1.Of course its not an exhortation to look different, it is an exhortation behave differently (imperative). The effect is that you will look different (indicative).

    “I have some ministers in mind more than you — leads to a Christian exceptionalistm that invites self-righteousness.”

    How about we start with the fact that we already are self-righteous. I know I am. I am quite aware that whenever I desire to do good, evil is right there with me. Nevertheless, if I become paralyzed in fear of doing anything out of self righteousness, then I’m going to walk on the other side of the road from the half dead man.
    However tainted my motives may be, I know when I do a good work, it is now acceptable to God because of Christ. I also know they do not gain me one ounce of favor, that was already bought on the cross.

    2.The saints in Corinth- It is precisely because they are saints that Paul addresses them,”Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly”

    and further

    “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans” (Are they looking like a street gang?)

    What was your point about Corinth?

  51. Chris Sherman says:

    Is this horse dead yet?

  52. D G Hart says:

    Chris: technically, it’s not an imperative. Paul describes those who will not inherit the kingdom, and then he lists the fruit of the spirit. There is likely an indicative in there somewhere. But again, I fear you may read more imperatives into the text than are there because you think we will look different.

    The point about Corinth was that they didn’t look different and yet Paul still regarded them as Christians. So what does that do to your notion that Christians will be different. Corinthians weren’t, and yet they were still Christian. Bad ones maybe. But I’d rather be a bad Christian than God’s enemy.

  53. Zrim says:

    (Chris, funny how horses look like beasts of burden on blogs. You’re up. Whatever you do, please don’t invoke the primative/immature church argument wrt to Corinth–I just caught my daughter’s cold and have little energy to point out…eh, where’s the Ibuprofen?)

  54. RubeRad says:

    I fear you may read more imperatives into the text than are there because you think we will look different.

    How is 1 Pet 2:15 (or :20) to work if sanctification produces nothing visible? If Christians are indistinguishable?

  55. Chris Sheman says:

    Z,

    Get well soon, my daughter has a cold now as well.

    Jesus to his Disciples,
    ” A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

    kinda sounds like something observable to me.

    from 1 Thess 4;

    “Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.”

    Deal with the 5 (of the 7) churches in Revelation that need to repent or else what happens?

  56. D G Hart says:

    Rube: I don’t have 1 Pet. memorized and I’m in a coffee shop. You win, I guess.

    Chris: they will know you are my followers by the way you love each other. Well, that’s a little more complicated than it seems, and again makes me think you “see” visibility where it isn’t necessarily. Do you believe in PDA — public displays of affection? I don’t. So how will people know that I love my wife. I’d like to think that if people were a fly on the wall of my home they would see. But they’d also see the dark side of marriage. So I wish you’d give me some wiggle room here instead of a guilt-trip.

    And if we aren’t showing love, doesn’t that mean we aren’t Christ’s disciples? And yet, you seem to want to avoid the conclusion that follows from invisibility — you’re not a follower of Jesus.

  57. D G Hart says:

    Zrim, apparently the Gospel and Culture project does not include technico-redemptive theology because Skillen’s post has in a week generated only two commens.

  58. Zrim says:

    DGH,

    Make it three now. I finally got around to the pile-on.

    (Good point on the PDA thing. One might say that the logic from the other side here sounds a bit like a wife claiming her husband doesn’t love her because he won’t act publically like an adolescent. Doesn’t she know she might get a little more if she weren’t being so silly? Can you tell I have personal experience here?)

  59. Chris Sherman says:

    DG,

    “So I wish you’d give me some wiggle room here instead of a guilt-trip.”

    Here’s some for ya;

    “And if we aren’t showing love, doesn’t that mean we aren’t Christ’s disciples?”

    Well it doesn’t mean that we aren’t his disciples, but it does mean something, right?

    Could you explain just how by our love for one another they will know we are his disciples?

  60. Chris Sherman says:

    (reposted to add space)

    DG,

    “So I wish you’d give me some wiggle room here instead of a guilt-trip.”

    Here’s some for ya;

    .
    .

    .
    .

    .
    .
    .

    .
    .

    .
    .
    .
    “And if we aren’t showing love, doesn’t that mean we aren’t Christ’s disciples?”

    Well it doesn’t mean that we aren’t his disciples, but it does mean something, right?

    Could you explain just how by our love for one another they will know we are his disciples?

  61. Zrim says:

    Could you explain just how by our love for one another they will know we are his disciples?

    Chris, I might suggest you keep the marriage analogy going (there’s good reason familial metaphors are in the Bible, especially this one). Do people know you love your wife because of your outward displays, which usually only mean something sophomoric and thin. Or is your loved manifest by more enduring postures and acts?

  62. D G Hart says:

    Chris: you write “Well it doesn’t mean that we aren’t his disciples, but it does mean something, right?” So what does it mean since you’re the one insisting on it. If you can’t say, then why make a deal of it?

    Have you ever considered that at the Lord’s Supper we show our love? It’s possibly the most intimate communion we know this side of glory.

  63. Chris Sherman says:

    I was about to give DG more wiggle room.

    I was thinking something like law gives no room to wiggle , so thankfully we have Gospel.

    O.K. so more on marriage, I’ll let Paul speak,

    from Ephesians 5

    “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

    Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

    Says it far better than I could even begin.

  64. Chris Sherman says:

    “Have you ever considered that at the Lord’s Supper we show our love? It’s possibly the most intimate communion we know this side of glory.”

    Kinda think it is a means of grace. How is it we are showing love?

  65. RubeRad says:

    Rube: I don’t have 1 Pet. memorized and I’m in a coffee shop. You win, I guess.

    If you’re commenting on a blog, I’m guessing you’re hooked up to the interwebs, and can access any number of free bible sites, like biblegateway.com…

    BUt my point was pretty much the same as Chris with “they will know you are my followers”

  66. D G Hart says:

    Chris: what Rube said about having internet access to theological resources. Here’s the Larger Catechism on the Lord’s Supper:
    Q. 168. What is the Lord’s supper?
    A. The Lord’s supper is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine according to the appointment of Jesus Christ, his death is showed forth; and they that worthily communicate feed upon his body and blood, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace; have their union and communion with him confirmed; testify and renew their thankfulness, and engagement to God, and their mutual love and fellowship each with other, as members of the same mystical body.

    Looks like there’s some love going on there.

    Also, do you really want to go to marriage for the “difference” between believers and non-believers. Marriage, I thought, was one of those ordinances we wanted all heterosexuals to enjoy. It is not a Christian institution but a creation ordinance. And I know lots of non-Christians who enjoy good marriages, some of them better than Christian marriages.

    So again, if Christians don’t have good marriages, are they not Christian, bad Christians, or suffering Christians?

  67. RubeRad says:

    internet access to theological resources. Here’s the Larger Catechism

    Indeed, if you scroll up yonder to the Confessions and Catechisms tab, you will find the LC in its entirety at this very site…

    As for loving one another, I don’t expect the world will very often be present to witness our communion.

  68. Zrim says:

    Rube,

    As for loving one another, I don’t expect the world will very often be present to witness our communion.

    What about the tares and hypocrites that are (always) present? Besides, whatever else is happening, doesn’t our absence from amongst them one day day every week perhaps imply that love is going on amongst us?

    I wanted to rib you over all that Hart-speak about marriage being a creation ordinance and all, but my lunch is ready.

  69. Chris Sherman says:

    “What about the tares and hypocrites that are (always) present? Besides, whatever else is happening, doesn’t our absence from amongst them one day day every week perhaps imply that love is going on amongst us?”

    Aha, so you admit it, there is something observably different. – our absence…

    And hey, I represent that hypocrite remark.

    DG,

    Thanks for Q168, I knew there was something more to it that than our silly non-denom church observes. (If they even know what the are observing.) Wish there was a good confessional church near here. It’s a constant source of frustration for me. We are considering moving, but it’s not that easy.

    Meanwhile, any of you are welcome to come stay with us (read, send help), we are just outside Yosemite National Park.

  70. Zrim says:

    Aha, so you admit it, there is something observably different. – our absence…

    Well, the argument hasn’t been that observable differences are diminished to nothing at all. It has been that what distinguishes is more unseen than seen. Moreover, what is seen is counter-intuitive and different from what one could see amongst any other religious group. For example, what other group lays up hope in the resurrection of one man and then eats his body/drinks his blood? Not many. But lots talk about loving your neighbor.

  71. Chris Sherman says:

    “counter-intuitive ” yes, definitely. With you 100% on that.

    “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. ”

    I can live with, “more unseen than seen.”

    What do you make of a statement like this:

    (I say where its from later)

    “Scripture makes no distinction between the sacred and the secular, that is, it does not encourage us to think that some activities, such as prayer or evangelism, are more spiritual than other activities, such as caring for children or manual labor. Rather we are taught that Christ is the Lord of all of life and that our calling is to honor Him in all that we do. We are to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ and to seek to serve Him in every human activity.
    Often Christians retreat from the wider culture, believing it to be completely dominated by ideas and practices which are contrary to God’s commandments. Developing our own sub-culture will provide protection from the world for ourselves and our children, many Christians feel, and so society is abandoned to go its wicked way. Yet, God has not abandoned the human race, humans all still bear the divine image,
    and therefore His Glory can still be perceived in all human cultures despite the terrible corruptions of sin. As Christians we are called by the Lord not to withdraw from the world but to be in it, living as salt and light in it, rejoicing in all that is good in human society, and committing ourselves to make a difference in our own small way in whatever calling we are placed by the Lord.”

  72. Zrim says:

    Chris,

    There is quite a workable bit in there. I can’t help but think, though, that it still holds out for some things I’m not convinced of. I think I know who it is.

  73. Chris Sherman says:

    Who do you suspect?

    I will say that it is not the work of one person, but was influenced by one person. The ministry now is somewhat different than when it started.

    And I will also say that I agree with much of his work, but strongly disagree with at least one of his later works (to be fair I have not read through it completely). I disagree with his eschatology, but he wasn’t known for that anyway.

    One of his protege was recently on WHI.

  74. Zrim says:

    Chris, is it Schaffer related? Who was the protege?

  75. Chris Sherman says:

    The statement comes from L’abri- so yes Francis Schaeffer.

    Os Guinness was a former L’abri worker. (I just found out he is a relative of Aurthur Guinness)

  76. RubeRad says:

    Scripture makes no distinction between the sacred and the secular

    Gen 2:3: “God blessed the seventh day and made it holy” As RSC (and probably others) point out, what could this mean in a pre-fall world except to distinguish sacred from secular?

  77. Chris Sherman says:

    Pre-fall world where the Garden was the Temple, as GK Beale points out?

    I know first hand that those at L’abri do regard the Sabbath as holy. I will bring this up in discussion next time I am there, if I have a chance to go again.

  78. Chris Sherman says:

    Now that I look back at it the context it makes more sense.
    “Scripture makes no distinction between the sacred and the secular, that is, it does not encourage us to think that some activities, such as prayer or evangelism, are more spiritual than other activities, such as caring for children or manual labor….”

  79. Chris Sherman says:

    Now that I look back at it in context it makes more sense.
    “Scripture makes no distinction between the sacred and the secular, that is, it does not encourage us to think that some activities, such as prayer or evangelism, are more spiritual than other activities, such as caring for children or manual labor….”

  80. Zrim says:

    I like the second part of the phrase that makes no distinction between the activities of spiritual people (i.e. their prayer and diaper changing are both of equal value).

    But the idea that scripture makes “no distinction between sacred and secular” is weak. Pre-fall the sac/sec were one and the same, post-fall they are necessarily distinguished. Moreover, Jesus is Lord over both as equally as my prayer and diaper changing are of equal value.

  81. Chris Sherman says:

    I wonder if it is more closely tied to the summation of the Law, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

  82. Zrim says:

    Chris, I’m not sure I follow.

  83. Chris Sherman says:

    Well, the “activities of a spiritual person” fall into either loving God or loving your neighbor. i.e. prayer or changing a diaper. Both are fulfilling the law, through the work of Christ in us.

    Perhaps it is a notion that secular is along the lines of loving neighbor. More of a temporal thing.

    I don’t know, just thinking about it.

  84. Brian says:

    “Better to elect a wise Turk than a foolish Christian as Luther says”.
    As far as I know this is a bogus quote…Show me were he said this is you will
    Regards,
    Brian

  85. todd says:

    Brian,

    Yes I believe the quote is a myth also, no one can find it anywhere, but the sentiment matches what he says elsewhere concerning the two kingdoms.

  86. RubeRad says:

    That’s too bad! On the upside, now I can claim the quote for myself!

  87. Zrim says:

    Brian,

    It’s one thing to say it doesn’t matter if Jesus rose from the dead or not (it’s the message that counts), quite another to quibble over whether Luther actually said that. Some accounts are worth the investigation, some, eh, not so much.

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