Can we see ourselves in these?

I apologize for this post’s brevity. True confession: I am writing it mostly so I can hold on to these two links and write another post or two later that references them. Both are about tensions in the Reformed movement known as The Gospel Coalition.

The first is a story about divisions within the movement over the doctrine of sanctification. As a Wesleyan, I think there is fodder here for consideration of where we fall on these issues.

The second is a story about the split within The Gospel Coalition that includes an interesting look back at the split within British evangelicalism in the 1960s. Back then the question was whether to stay within the mainstream Church of England or “come out” and form separate bodies. I think evangelicals within United Methodism have been engaged and will be engaged in the same sort of debate in coming years.

Like I say, there is lots of interesting stuff here. Time does not permit me to delve into it right now. Feel free to share your thoughts, though.

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2 thoughts on “Can we see ourselves in these?

  1. This is a very interesting dialog, John. Regarding Tulllian Tchividjian’s doctrine of sanctification, I believe he makes neither a good Lutheran nor a good Reformed theologian. He believed the law is a moral guide on the Reformed side, and he failed to understand that the law must always be present in the killing off of the old Adam on the Lutheran side. In both camps, he flirts with antinomianism.

    As it relates to the Reformed/Lutheran debate, I cannot speak to the Reformed criticism of Lutherans. I can say that after swimming in Lutheran streams for some time now, I am increasingly aware that there is always temptation to lower the severe demands of the law to accommodate our sense of personal potential in spiritual matters. Lutherans believe that God’s holiness is stern, severe, and unbending. God’s nature, and the law that makes that nature manifest to us, makes absolutely no room for human frailty and, as a result, it kills the old Adam before, during, and after conversion. At the same time, God’s sacrificial love, as manifest by the person and work of Christ, forgives and regenerates for new life. This constant reality of law and gospel serves as a mortifying reality (law) and as a life-giving resurrected life (gospel).

    In short, Lutheran theologians can rightly confess that “All people, in every vocation, should seek perfection, that is, grow in the fear of God, in faith, in love toward one’s neighbor, and similar spiritual virtues” (Apology to the Augsburg Confession, Article XXXVII.37). To seek after perfection is to love God and neighbor, but we are always aware that God’s holiness is so far above our own that we cannot but help confess that we consistently and always fall short in fulfilling the whole law.

    Sadly, I believe Tchividjian’s vision of law and gospel bordered on lawlessness.

  2. Adam, I agree with your conclusion on the one hand, and yet reading and hearing what he has to say about it, I believe it is unintentional because of his ultimate conclusion. Tchividjian believes that grace is the means by which God accomplishes his work to the point that, when people realize they can’t earn his love, they will be so overwhelmed with love in return that becoming “the righteousness of God” is the only possible response.

    This is beautifully hopeful. Unfortunately, I don’t think the rest of Scriptural witness or practical experience indicate that this is, in fact, how God nor man work. So yes, while not the intention, in practice I don’t see it ending up anywhere else than lawlessness.

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