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Faith for the Unfaithful

“According to his critics, Jesus “did God” all wrong. He went to the wrong places, said the wrong things, and worst of all, let just anyone into the kingdom. Jesus scandalized an intimidating, elitist, country-club religion by opening membership in the spiritual life to those who had been denied it. What made people furious was Jesus’ “irresponsible” habit of throwing open the doors of his love to the whosoevers, the just-anyones, and the not-a-chancers like you and me… Nothing makes people in the church more angry than grace.” – Mike Yaconelli, “Messy Spirituality”

God really does give faith to the unlikely, the ones we don’t think should get it. And that is good news, because we re really they. Jesus has thrown the doors of his love wide open, open to all in need of rest. Come.

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Whole Soul Faith

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)

“Literally, “looking away.” We are to look to Jesus in a special way, a way that is different from the way we looked at the cloud of witnesses. The verb is in the present tense, so a continual acts is intended. In all that we do, in our profession and obedience, we are constantly to look to Christ… ‘Looking’ denotes an act of faith or trust, with hope and expectation. It is not just an act of understanding or considering what we are looking at; it is an act of the whole soul in faith and trust… So the Lord Jesus is not set before us here merely as an example for us but as him in whom we place our faith, trust, and confidence, with all our expectation of success in our Christian course. Without this faith and trust in him, we will derive no benefit from his example.” – John Owen

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You call yourself a “Christian”

I love my seminary. The teaching is great and Gospel-centered. But it is the interaction with other students that I am finding valuable. We have a student body formed from very different experience and backgrounds. While some choose to keep their view on the quiet side (after all the school was founded by Conservative Baptists) it is refreshing to have discussions with people working out their faith in unique ways. Of course I think we are all doing this with the Cross at the center (I mean what is the point otherwise) and I know there are schools where that would not be true.

This interaction is showing me more and more the need for grace among fellow Christians. We are all still depraved human (we can all affirm at least one point of Calvinism – the sin nature part) so our messed-up-ness makes its way into our worship and expressions of faith. We pick sides and stand firm on little things, because after all that is what humans do; just look at our politics or our preferences for music, the list could go on and on.

So how do we function in Christendom without extra-biblical criticism, hate, anger or your choice of bad attitude? I don’t know for sure yet. Even I am still defining what my own set of Reformed Plus beliefs (the plus being a charismatic understanding of the Holy Spirit) mean and how they play out in real life. But I think we start with the recognition and dialogue. We have to talk about these things and not pigeonhole each other (no one likes labels anyway, unless you like labels.)

Fellow seminarian, and much smarter man, Brian LePort is unpacking some of these thoughts in his own life and he has blogged a list of reasons why he is not camping in certain perspectives. Here is a taste:

I would have been this or that form of Christian except there was always something wrong…

I would be Reformed except I don’t believe in double predestination (a.k.a. theological duck-duck-goose [some days I don’t even believe in the Calvinistic interpretation of predestination]), I think humans have some sort of free will, I don’t feel like I can be comfortable with undoubted doctrinal superiority, I like the color “gray” (i.e. not everything is black and white), I don’t read Mark Driscoll or John Piper, and I like Catholics…

I would have been Baptist except I think women can lead, the charismatic gifts still operate in the church today, the Eucharist is worth doing more than once a month, and Al Mohler has become your spokesperson/mascot.

I would have been Pentecostal except I like to participate in the Eucharist more than four times a year, I don’t think Christians who speak in tongues are superior to other Christians, I think a little order during worship is a good thing, I am not anti-education, and I think they threw me out already.

You can read his whole post here. While I don’t agree on all points – after all I can’t function without absolute truth and black and whites – I respect his candid account of his spiritual formation. Have we all taken the time to think through things like this? This is where we start to find a solution. It is there somewhere, there is nothing new under the sun (or the Son for that matter) we just have to dig and search with passion and grace.