Friday, February 8, 2013

Where's the Tentatio?

Where's the Tentatio?

I feel like the old lady from the Wendy's commercial when I look upon so much of what passes for theology today, but instead of "Where's the Beef" I think, "Where's the Tentatio?"

The old standard for what makes, what shapes a theologian was "Oratio, Meditatio, and Tentatio" - that is Prayer, Meditation (or reflection), and Testing (or trial, temptation).  There should be that prayer, that worship-based approach to things.  I can see that.  There should be reflection upon the Word... well, I often find that lacking, or just given in passing.

But where is the Tentatio?

Where is the experience, the struggles one has had with one's own faults and demons and temptations?  Where is that profound knowledge - not just awareness, but experiential knowledge that you are a poor miserable sinner who needs the Gospel every single moment or otherwise you die?

Because, to be honest - I'm not seeing a lot of Tentatio in how people are writing and dealing with theology.  I see a lot of brash and bold statements about what is right and wrong.  I see a lot of statements about how you must do X, Y, and Z.

I do not see... humility.  I do not see "my sin is ever before me" -- rather I see "I thank God that I don't do what these people do."

I see it even in myself when I try to engage.

This is because sinful man, at his core, is more concerned with fixing others, with making the next guy be something convenient than he is with repentance.  Whether that's keeping them from doing something bad, or limiting their freedom so you feel good with your own choices (safety in numbers!), whether it's just being a busy body.

Again - not the point.  Yes, I am to serve and love my neighbor... but I do so not as a judge, not as the paragon of wisdom and virtue.

I love my neighbors as a poor, miserable sinner who himself deserves temporal and eternal punishment.  I love my neighbors as one who only knows what love is because Christ has loved me totally and purely.  I love my neighbors not by my own reason or strength, but because Christ puts me to use, even over and against my sinful flesh, even over and against my druthers or how I think the world ought to be.

If you think you are but a little sinner, you will only want a little Savior... and you will have very little interest in proclaming Him to others, at least not before they get their acts in gear.  But when you see that you are the chief of sinners, then you will be determined to know nothing but Christ and Him Crucified - not only for your neighbor's sake, but also for your own.

God be merciful to me, a sinner!  Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!

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