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Off the top

A blog dedicated to the Source of everything good.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Bits and Pieces, 1/27/06

just give me Jesus

Jollyblogger “recycles” an “oldie but goodie” with a timeless, relevant-to-the-minute message:

It is not accurate to think 'the gospel' is what saves non-Christians, and then, what matures Christians is trying hard to live according to Biblical principles. It is more accurate to say that we are saved by believing the gospel, and then we are transformed in every part of our mind, heart, and life by believing the gospel more and more deeply as our life goes on.

He speaks of his own journey out of legalism:

He [his pastor] explained to me that salvation was all of grace but so was sanctification. In thinking that the gospel justifies, but obedience sanctifies I had gone down an inevitable road of legalism that was destined to ruin my relationships, sap my joy in following Christ and wear me out. In this little story I have only focused on the relational troubles my legalism produced, but the fact was that I wasn't all that joyful and burnout was always around the corner.

So, at that point I began a long process of understanding the gospel. I'm still not getting it to be honest. Of course I do get it intellectually, but intellectual comprehension is not enough. Understanding the gospel isn't a matter of getting a set of facts straight in your head, it is about believing and resting in Christ every moment of the day.

Pastor Wayne illustrates the difficulty of maintaining moment-to-moment reliance on the gospel: as soon as one has a “truth” realization, pride jumps in and tries to claim it –

The gospel reminds me every day that I am still full of pride and self-sufficiency and this is hard to face, especially for such a fine Christian as myself ;-). Even coming to understand the things I just talked about presents its own struggle because there is now the temptation to think that I have a better understanding of my own sinfulness and need for Christ than you do. "Wretched man that I am, who will free me from the body of this death?"

Indeed, a predicament and question common to us all! Praise God for the answer: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25)


put the spears away

ChristianityToday features an article addressing the controversy that surrounds homosexual actor and activist Chad Allen’s appearance in End of the Spear. In Christian Studio Explains Hiring of Gay Actor, there's an excerpt from Steve Saint's email to Christianity Today Movies regarding Allen's hiring:

I could not imagine how something like this could slip through a professional screening process...After I got over the emotional shock of realizing that a man who has chosen to live a lifestyle in stark contrast to my dad's would actually be playing his role in End of the Spear, I realized I would likely be held responsible for that decision. I wanted the issue to go away. Finally, I realized I was going to have to face what was happening, and there was little chance of coming out unscathed.

Saint had a dream, in which he was
being chased by a mob of Christians who were angry with me for having desecrated ‘their story.’ The answer to their hostility was easy: Just ask Chad to remove himself. But as quickly as this thought came to me, I found myself standing before God. His look was not as compassionate as I had expected. God said, ‘Steve, you of all people should know that I love all of my children. With regard to Chad Allen, I went to great lengths to orchestrate an opportunity for him to see what it would be like for him to walk the trail that I marked for him. Why did you mess with my plans for him?’

I didn’t get a chance to see the movie; it was in my area for only a few days.

(update: I did, in fact, see the movie; it was around for longer than first rumored. Comments above.)


speak the truth in love

In a post titled A Spirit of Fear, Mr. Dawn Treader asks what the Christian’s approach to “the culture” ought to be.
Am I seeing a real trend line, or am I adding to a spirit of fear about rampant moral relativism in our culture?

The ensuing discussion is most interesting, and gets at what I think is a crucial point. From a comment by Rob Ryan:
I think tgirsch's point still holds in that many people who believe there is no objective morality are not in the least offended when others assert that there is. I think morality is subjective, but it would be silly for me to take offense at assertions to the contrary. After all, mine is almost certainly a minority view, and I am a pragmatic person. As you say, it is the tone that really matters. I can take offense even with statements I materially agree with if they are put forth in an arrogant or condescending manner. I think, and I hope, that most others feel the same way.

Whether or not his view that morality is subjective is a minority view or not, his final statement is important.

A previous post is mentioned, the body and comments to which contain more excellent discussion, including this comment by Brian (referenced in the post by the author, Jeff Clinton):
People don't care what you know till they know that you care.

Does this mean that there are none who are hostile to the truth itself but only to the way it’s presented if done so in an offensive way? No, I don’t believe so. But (you knew there was going to be a “but” ;-) ), an offensive presentation may certainly keep a person who might otherwise see the truth from seeing it.


  • We did see the movie, which was riveting. I didn't know anything about the stars--missed the article in CT. Thanks.

    By Blogger Martin LaBar, at 10:01 AM  

  • I love that second quote from Saint. God is in control of this situation.

    By Blogger Julana, at 1:57 PM  

  • I just read an article by Luci Shaw, in which she mentioned the story of Denise Levertov's conversion. Levertov was writing an "agnostic mass" poem.

    "I thought of my poem as an agnostic mass, basing each part on what seemed its primal character: the Kyrie a cry for mercy, the Gloria a praise-song, the Credo an individual assertion, and so on: each a personal, secular meditation. But a few months later, when I had arrived at the Agnus Dei, I discovered myself to be in a different relationship to the material and to the liturgical form from that in which I had begun.
    The experience of writing the poem—that long swim through waters of unknown depth—had been a conversion process.

    In effect, Levertov had been transformed by her own writing as she experienced unintended changes in her understanding through the poem she herself was working on, and the efficacy of truth and its substance in her own unconscious."

    As God said in Saint's dream, "get out of this man's way!"

    By Blogger Julana, at 2:06 PM  

  • You're welcome, Martin. My family and I saw the movie as well (actually, I saw it twice!)

    Thanks for your comments and for alerting me to that article, Julana. I've been doing a whole lot of thinking about the different elements of the EOTS controversy, one of them being the way God communicates with us. I hope to formulate something worthy of posting.

    (Takes me back to my own conversion process, which in large part happened through my aesthetic way of viewing the world -- similar to Sheldon Vanauken's as detailed in A Severe Mercy)

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 11:58 PM  

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