Thursday, October 21, 2010

Modified Sweeping Generalizations

I have been doing more reading and observing, so I think I will modify my previous sweeping generalizations. New modifications are in italics.

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Here are some sweeping theological generalizations.

1. The less you see the depths of your own sinfulness, the more likely you are to gravitate away from Confessional Lutheranism.

2a. If you love the liturgy and see your sin being defeated and removed more and more in this life , you will gravitate towards the East.

2b. If you love your works and history and see God's grace as primarily helping you overcome your sin, you will gravitate towards Rome.

2c. If you love your works but disdain both history and your sin, you will gravitate towards Evangelicalism and Contemporary worship.

2d. If you decide to love your sin, you will gravitate towards theological liberalism or even depart from Christianity entirely.

3. We always tend to underestimate our own sin, which is why there are so few Lutherans in the world.

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Do I doubt that I am or ought to grow in holiness? By no means. Do I doubt that God's strength and grace gives me victory over specific and concrete temptation. By no means.

But if I behold my own holiness and see it as mine... it is no longer holiness but pride. If I see my own good works, they are no longer good, but pride. When I look at the sins which I have conquered over, I cannot but help to see many more that I have not conquered over.

Paul was a good man. He was the greatest of the Pharisee. If ever there was a man who could point to his own holiness, it would be Paul. Yet as he grew in the faith, what does he say. What I want to do, I do not, and what I do not want to do, I do. Oh wretch that I am. The saying is trustworthy, that Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I *am* the foremost.

To grow and mature in your faith is to see more and more the depths of your sin. To know and see that you are not getting better, but rather you just had really low standards. To understand the utter and constant sinfulness that comes across every thought, word, and deed.

Are my thoughts not as vile as they once were, are my words not as coarse, are my deeds not as shocking as they once were? Um, I suppose. But behold how wicked my thoughts, words, and deeds are - for they are not perfect as my Father in heaven is perfect. Is my sin less because my anger flares not as high? Is it less lustful now that it isn't as explicit? Or does it all fall woefully short of the glory of God.

We are so tempted to focus on our current growth and maturation - like the 4 year old who thinks he is grown because he can use the drinking fountain by himself. Salvation is both now and not yet - the now is true - but the not yet is what I long for. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

1 comment:

Mike Baker said...

My pastor likes to relay a perceptive quote about the Parable of the Pharasee and the Tax Collector from one of his parishioners at a previous call.

"When I look at the tax collector and conclude that what I need to do is to start being more like him, that's really just the Pharasee in me talking."