Ephesians 2:4-6 (NKJV – emphasis mine) — But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together …
I have noted before on my blog that legalism mocks God’s grace. If we are raised in a home that doesn’t perform “worldly” externals, and all Christianity is about is not doing those “worldly” externals, then God hasn’t really saved us from much — we weren’t dead in our trespasses; we just had the sniffles.
A couple weeks ago, Neil wrote about labels, and how they can be helpful at times — and downright useless and silly at other times. The latter issue was the larger portion of his post and (although he didn’t initially identify it at the time of the writing), I was one of the people that he wrote about who had been incorrectly and unfairly labeled. (He later went back and filled readers in on who the label-ers were. ‘Twas a hop, skip, and jump from there to figure out who the label-ees were.)
Unfortunately, for any “fact-checkers” out there, the background of my incident can’t be accurately checked, as the moderators of the site on which I was labeled chose to conveniently excise large parts of the exchange in which either (a) I made a strong point or (b) they looked foolish in retrospect. But that’s not why I’m writing this, anyway …
I was attempting to answer the question “Is Francis Chan emergent?” by noting that the important question was not whether or not someone had attached a label to Chan, but whether or not what he teaches/writes is the truth. As the questioner appeared to truly be researching Chan, but coming up empty, I pointed her to a couple of book reviews and a brief (and, for me, convicting) video by Chan.
(For what extremely little it was worth, one of the book reviews included a quote from Chan that pretty much answered her irrelevant question.)
Having just made the point that the issue was truth (not labels), the very next comment — by a moderator, no less — asked me if I was emergent. Quite frankly, I was stunned at how incredibly and thoroughly he had missed my entire point. I felt like tapping the mic and asking, “Is this thing on?”
I temporarily evaded the question, as it was no more relevant for me than it was for Chan. However, after a while, it became obvious that I was never going to get that point through, even though I repeated it numerous times in different ways. So I just (metaphorically) threw up my hands and answered their question. I worked off a list of teachers/writers that one of my accusers had provided, and (I’m sure to their utter shock) largely agreed with their stances on these men.
But then I “messed up” and dragged God into the conversation (what was I thinking?):
Bottom line though: While none of those men are on my bookshelf, I do not think God incapable of using them to speak truth to me.
The responses to this statement (all of my others “disappeared”) made things abundantly clear — they were so utterly focused on these men, that they totally (dis)missed God. One can only come to the conclusion that they do think God incapable of using those men.
There was even a great, though certainly unintended, illustration of this. One of the moderators has an image in his signature line — riffing off of President Obama’s “Hope” slogan — that says “Hopeless” (complete with the same logo in the “O” as was in the original). While no fan of the president by a long shot, I have to note that this image says infinitely more about the moderator’s view of God than his view of the president.
I ran across a post on another blog today about some truly horrific people — murderers, drunkards, adulterers, pimps, prostitutes — the scum of the earth. Oddly, they’re all characters cited in Genesis, many of whom were greatly used by God. And some of them don’t even have the “good” testimonies of how they did all that bad stuff before they met God, and walked the straight and narrow ever since.
The phrase “another gospel” (riffing off Galatians 1) has been perverted in its overuse to mean “that with which we do not agree”. And, to be sure, I saw that phrase used often in the discussions surrounding Chan and others. But to claim (even indirectly) that God is incapable of using anyone requires not only the ignoring of large portions of Scripture, but an outright mockery of God’s grace and the heart of the gospel message.
That, my friends, is truly “another gospel”.
Galatians 1:9 (NKJV – emphasis mine) — As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
Don’t blame me — I didn’t say it.