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Saturday, September 29, 2007 

Internet "Gospel"ing

Reading: Stewart, Melville The Trinity: East/West Dialogue
Enjoying: coffee on our unusual Autumn day
Listening: vidcasts of the DG conference

From the Cranach blog, regarding one of the regular readers:
But I appreciate SteveG, an agnostic who reads this blog, for weighing in.

SteveG, if the only Christianity I knew was mainstream liberal Protestantism, I would be like you. I'd much rather be an agnostic--or even a "bright"--than a theological liberal. Theological liberals don't believe Christianity either, gutting it of the good parts (the Incarnation, the Atonement, the Gospel) and leaving only religiosity and do-gooderism. I have no respect for that. You are better off leaving, as you did.

As a Lutheran, I confess, in the words of our catechism, that "I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to Him." Luther continues: "but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith." Faith is a gift. I can't help having it.

Why do I have it and you don't? I don't know. It is certainly not because I am better than you. It is probably because I am worse than you. I suspect that you consider yourself to be a good person and are fairly satisfied with your life. If so, you are right. Christianity has nothing for you.

If, however, you do not live up to your own standards, if you have known guilt and failure, if you ever feel lost in the cosmos, if you struggle with the meaning of life and death, then the message that God became a human being; that somehow He took into Himself your griefs and transgressions; that God died for you; that He rose from the dead and somehow carries you with Him. All of that can become quite compelling. Not as an intellectual theorem but as something--rather, someone--that possesses you.

I know Christ not just as some idea to be debated, nor even just as a historical fact, nor even as an imaginary friend inside my head. He is outside myself, but really present. I hear His voice everytime I open my Bible or hear good preaching. I can pray to Him and I have the sense that He is listening. I encounter Him, not abstractly, but in His body and blood when He gives Himself to me again in the bread and wine of Holy Communion.

I can't explain this, and I'm not saying it makes sense, but this is a genuine conviction, the evidence of something not seen, a kind of trust and relationship that is faith. Not faith in an emotion or a choice or an idea but faith that has the object of God enfleshed and nailed to a cross.

[Cranach] | [evangelism]

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Do you agree with his statements like "not as an intellectual theorem" or "I can't explain this, and I'm not saying it makes sense"?

Is he:
1)affirming the irrationality of Christianity by the natural man's standards?

2)affirming the irrationality of pretty much everything, which is something you can maybe get from Van Til?

3)denying the rationality of God's claims upon us (fideism)?

Good eye, Ben. He's a freakin' Lutheran! (j/k Botz and any other Melancthon-lovin' lurkers).

My guess? A combination of 3 parts from #1 and 1 part from #3. I think he's trying to take it out of the sphere of the rational and empirical but bordering on fideism (I apologize Dr. Veith!).

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Transplanted from the artic blight of Minnesota to the sunny paradise of SoCal, I am attending school and learning to say "dude." I like to think of myself as equal parts surf rash, Batman, heavy metal, Levinas, poetic license, and reformational. Other than creating blund blogs, I enjoy reading, sporting, and socializing with serious and funny people.
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