Feb 24, 2005

Law over Lord

The book I am currently reading is Ronald J. Sider’s “The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience”. This book takes a long, hard look at the disparity between what Born-Again Evangelicals in the USA say they believe, and what they do. It’s not a pretty picture.

According to Gallup and Barna surveys, white born-again Evangelicals give less than non-evangelicals, they divorce and cohabitate as often as the culture as a whole, they are more racist than the culture as a whole, and they are more abusive to their wives, as well. It fits in well with my Pharisees vs. the Sadducees theory about American culture (the Left plays the role of the Sadducees, while the Right assumes the task of recreating the Pharisees).

Dr. Sider looks at “cheap grace” (as described by Dietrich Bonhoeffer so well in “The Cost of Discipleship”) as a primary culprit: the ability to ask Jesus for forgiveness, and then once saved-always saved, to go on sinning. Damning stuff…literally.

I have wondered often about how the Law has come into such prominence over Grace among Evangelicals. They focus so much more on the Bad News than the Good News, one wonders if they even believe it. Dr. Sider’s book got me to thinking that perhaps this return to the Law is based upon an odd by-product of Cheap Grace. Because their lives haven’t been changed, because there is no sign of true discipleship to the Lord Jesus, but instead they continue to wallow in sin and greed, they point to their outward confession of forgiveness…for themselves. The internal guilt, however, drives them to A) point the guilt away from themselves to other sinners, and B) to uphold the Law over the Lord.

I fear that the Alabama “Ten Commandments” monument is a good example of this return to worshipping the Law while ignoring the commands of the Lord. The protestors kneel for it, bow in prayer before it, and then point to their “Righteousness” as if it were a product of their own doing. Works Justification, except they don’t even really have the “works” that Jesus demanded to show.

In the end, it comes down to self-worship, and that’s pretty scary.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

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