Bags of Bran

A keystone in my arch–from a Lutheran guy?
November 15, 2012, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Bible, Biography

I finally got around to perusing Carl Trueman, a fellow recommended to me by more than one friend. I discovered this and could not believe what I was reading. Trueman objects to the way people use Luther to affirm their own modern prejudices, and when he has time, he plans to demonstrate that Luther has nothing to offer modern prejudices. But what was perhaps most valuable for my own peace of mind is this quote from Walter Sundberg’s Worship as Repentance: Lutheran Liturgical Traditions and Catholic Consensus:

The war cry of our age, says psychologist Bernie Zilbergeld (1939-2002), is, “I DESERVE….I deserve love. I deserve to be trusted. I deserve freedom. I deserve friendship. I deserve respect. I deserve sexual pleasure. I deserve happiness.” This war cry is the motive force of much of what is taught in the mainline church about personal ethics, pastoral care, and even the gospel itself. Many would like to make Luther the precursor of the modern liberator who teaches a gospel of self-fulfillment in which the “law” becomes that which restricts us and the “gospel” that which releases us from any encumbrance, who binds the conscience not to Scripture but to oneself, who endorses, as it were, a new type of “happy exchange”….: not that between the sins of believers and the innocence of Christ, as Luther describes it in The Freedom of the Christian (1520) but rather that between the ego and the id. (p. 169)

First response: “Eureka!”

After the sugar rush wore off: “All is lost!”

From where I sit and my limited perspective, I see a church full of people who live in a culture of lusts enshrined as confident expectations. Many who sit in the church also cherish those same confident expectations, not recognizing them as James’ lusts that war within them.

There is a flowing torrent of hymnody, literature, and preaching that will most certainly not topple and trample the enshrined expectations, but rather will affirm those expectations, and will, in the best cases, assure the hearer that God cares and wishes to fulfill those expectations either here and now (kingdom authority flowing from his throne) or there and then (in a mansion over the hilltop). In the worst cases, one purpose of Jesus’ death was to redeem those expectations and make them part of the Christian life (life is MINE to live, now there’s the power of the cross!).

Here is laid bare the true Evangelical sense of the acronym, God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Yea, the torrent floweth.

I intend to not contribute to that flowing torrent, as soon as I discover how to not do so, which may be complicated, especially when one considers that learning how to leave a thing undone requires more attention to detail than learning how to do the other stuff. The problem is that I’m infected with the same selfishness that marks the spirit of my age, and to self-consciously battle that selfishness in ministry ought to be a royal hoot.


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