Thursday, June 7, 2012

“Christian” Ideas that Aren’t (8)


1.    “I’m more of a New Testament Christian.”
2.    “The Old Testament is legalistic and about law; the New Testament is about love and grace.
3.    “God helps those who help themselves.”
4.    “Those who do not work should not eat.”
5.    “Minds are like umbrellas.  They work best when open.”
6.    “My faith is private/personal and nobody else’s business.”
7.    “We need to be more spiritual.”
8.    “I was saved when I first believed in Jesus.”

A popular idea - but theologically off-target.  I was saved, you were saved, indeed, the whole cosmos was saved that first Easter weekend when Jesus died and God raised him from the dead.  Salvation is God’s work.  We cannot save ourselves; even our faith is God’s gift to us, not a self-generated act that we can claim as our own.

Karl Barth even claims that faith means being brought to the point of giving up on ourselves, of surrendering any hint of capacity to do what God asks!  That seems right to me and a helpful antidote to the American tendency to emphasize and valorize human action, even in relation to God.  Faith, biblical faith, is just the opposite of any interest in or reliance on ourselves.  Believe as hard and sincerely as we might in Jesus, if had not died and been raised from the dead, there would be no salvation.  There is no salvation without faith (as described above); but there may be faith without salvation if by faith we mean our own independent action in claiming what Christ has done for us!

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