Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why So Passionate?

I was asked in a comment below why I was so passionate on the whole stuff with Contraception. And thinking and reflecting about it - it's not so much that specific issue (well, it irks me... I strongly dislike attempts to change society... God forbid we ever adopt a "Changing the Culture for Christ" sort of attitude... blech. Let's work out our own salvation with fear and trembling... and ya'll can do what you want, but as for me and my house, we'll follow the Lord. That's enough for anyone's plate!), but rather what really gets me fired up is the theological approach.

In our zeal to make people recognize blessings, we are approaching on making a Law, and a Law not found expressed in the Scriptures, a Law not specifically commanded, but a Law that "seems good to us" - that seems to be the intent of what God said.

Consider the parallel:

1. Children are a blessing (Scriptural)
2. Many reasons for avoiding children are foolish (I'll concede)
Solution: Teach that a Christian isn't to use contraception. (Huh?)

1. The Lord's Supper is a blessing (Scriptural)
2. Many reasons for avoiding the Supper are foolish (I'll concede)
Solution: Teach that a Christian must attend the Supper so often.

These two patterns are exactly the same. And they are wrong patterns. When people pushed Luther on how often one needed to attend the Supper - he wouldn't give an answer. We think he said "4 times a year" -- but that's not what he said. He said that if you don't attend at least for times a year you should examine yourself and consider whether or not you are still a Christian.

See... not a rule, not a hoop - but a drive towards self examination.

This becomes the thing... repentance always involves self examination, reflection, looking at ones own actions and evaluating them. Not simply conformity to outward behaviors.

I'd argue that the better approach would be as follows:

1. Show the Scriptural teaching (Both children and the Supper are blessings)
2. See that some reasons for avoiding are foolish (both children and the Supper)
3. Show what are foolish reasons, while having compassion for those who have legit reasons for what is going on.

I'm not going to hammer about having kids when there's the gal with the health issues in the congregation. I'm not going to hammer on attendance at Supper to the person who has some other issues that creep up.

Or in other words -- attack the foolish causes with the Law... and then simply let the New Man arise by the power of the Gospel... not by attempts to establish new rules to coax him out.

The Law never gives life. Us the Law only to attack that which hinders the Christian - sin and fear. Then the Gospel will give growth, then the Gospel will cast out fear. In God's own time... not yours.


(Update and Addition)

The thing is this - this isn't just a silly fear or apprehension -- this same reasoning has popped up in other places.

Or why do some religious groups forbid blood transfusions?
Or why do some forbid all drinking?
Or why do some forbid all dancing?
Or say you need to handle snakes?
Or make Confession and Absolution mandatory?
Or have days of obligation?
Or mandate fasting?

It's the same theological steps, the same shift that is taken. And always for the best of reasons, always for an attempt to be good and God pleasing... and always going beyond His Word and substituting our own ideas and trying to lay these upon our neighbor.


Darrin said...

Good Post and great points. Our freedom should never lead to "now you must do this" or "you mustn't do that". The same can be said regarding repentance as well. They are both gifts and the fruit of grace working compassion in us.

scott said...

I agree, and had also seen the connection as similar to the blessing of communion. Often I find the anti-bc crowd to be in the way of "man is for the sabbath" type of thinking.