Some quotes (savor this article as you might savor a medium-rare ribeye):
“There is in the soul of American evangelicals a feverish anxiety. If our faith in Christ does not lead to our moral uplift, we jumpstart a new spiritual formation regimen that promises to lift us. If the church is not making a difference in the world, we shame ourselves to become more socially relevant and evangelistically effective.”
“Contrary to our aspirations and assumptions, the Christian faith is not a bulleted list that equips us with principles to create the good life, let alone the best life now. Nor does it present us with an agenda, as some would have it, for making the world a better place. The core of the faith is good news. It is a revelation of the deeper realities that plague us (of which our anxiety about change is just a symptom) and the unveiling of an unshakable hope.” (ed. note: Are you kidding me?!)
“If grace is in any way, shape, or form a deal, a quid pro quo, a bargain, a contract, then we will always be obligated to do our part. It would then be our duty to do what God says. It would turn Christian ethics into another law, and therefore into another burden, into “Alienation: The Sequel.” God is not looking for people first and foremost to do or be good, to fulfill the law—in Christ he’s already fulfilled it (Matt. 5:17)! He’s looking for people who will love—love God and neighbor.”
“But love cannot be created by contract, no matter how righteous the clauses. If a “grace contract”—to speak absurdly—is to remain in force, God would do his part, and then we would be obligated to do ours, or vice versa. A contract is about mutual obligation. It has nothing to do with love. Only unconditional grace can transform a hardened heart into a grateful heart. Only a free gift can sabotage any notion of the quid pro quo. Only an utterly merciful act of love can fashion a new creation capable of love. As theologian Karl Barth puts it, “As the beloved of God, we have no alternative but to love him in return.”” (The editor has fainted)
“Now, this does not address the issue of why in this life we know grateful, purity-of-heart love only in fleeting moments (more of this in my next column). Still, it does suggest that the Christian life is not grounded in moral improvement—but in the reality that he who is forgiven much, loves much (Luke 7:47)—and that our first prayer is not a plea for changed behavior but “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10).”
Read the whole article here.