All posts in “Disgrace to Grace”

“Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner” – Disgrace to Grace #5

Love the sinnerIt’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. You can find the other four here. There’s no order or focus here, that is, except for a series of articles debunking Christian beliefs/dogma that are in fact very un-christian. Here’s number 5:

“Hate the sin, love the sinner.”

In theory, this works. But we can’t live in the theoretical la-la land of what should work. Every now and then we need to get real and face the music. This mantra of ours, is not working.

This phrase is usually used in the context of homosexuality. We talk about “loving” homosexuals while hating their sin.

There’s two thoughts I have about this. To begin with, let’s flip this around and try it on ourselves. I’ll be the guinea pig.

I’m a writer. I align myself with that title, and I’m proud of it. But what if you read something I’ve written, like my book, and you tell me you hated it. My book was an utter abomination to you. It was bad theology, horrible logic, etc, etc.

Now, no matter how much you try to “love me”, I doubt I would want to hear much more from you. It’s hard to separate something you are so passionate about, to the point of wrapping it up with you identity, from yourself. In other words, I take criticism seriously. There is an emotional element involved. I may tell myself to separate myself from my work, but that is really difficult.

Am I my book? No. But I put my heart in soul into my writing, and that makes it really hard to hear “I love you” in the midst of “I hate what you’ve written.”

Now imagine that standing before you now is a homosexual. You may “hate the sin and love the sinner”, but what if for them, that’s the same thing? What if they are their “sin”. It’s not for them just what they do, it’s wrapped up into their DNA. They were born this way!

How deep do you think it hurts? How painful are our words? They may be well-intended and honest, but the sharp reality is that our words can kill.

The fact of the matter remains: we can’t “hate the sin” without hurting the sinner. This is especially true when the sinner identifies themselves with what they do, the very thing you “hate”. They don’t feel your theoretical “love” all they feel is cold, hard hatred.

Do they feel loved?

A good question we should ask ourselves is not “do we love”- because our answer will always be a subjective opinion. We must instead ask: “do these ‘sinners’ feel loved?”

Do you think the people we’re talking about who we supposedly “love” actually feel loved from us? If you asked, would they say so?

That matters, therefore, far more than whether or not you think you love people.

Stop trying to “hate the sin, love the sinner” and just love. Period. No further comment. Just love, as Christ loved: selflessly, radically; genuinely.

Now what do you think? How can we love those we disagree with? Leave me a comment below!

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“Prone to Sin” – Disgrace to Grace #4

DTG 4Disgrace To Grace is a series of articles written to debunk doctrines that I believe have hijacked the Good News of God’s outrageous grace. Here’s #4, enjoy!

Prone to Sin

I grew up believing that at the core of my existence, I was prone to sin. Therefore, I believed I would spend my entire life “dying daily” and fighting against my own evil desires. In Heaven—sure, I could be finally free from sin. But here on earth? No way. I was destined to fight against sin for my entire life.

My life radically changed when God helped me to see the truth—that I am not prone to sin.

God  helped me see that through His Son I was not a sinner, but a saint; not evil, but good; not corrupt, but righteous.

This radically changed everything I thought I knew about Christianity. Actually, this revelation has been arguably the most life-changing revelation I have learned over the last five years. It changed my theology, my mindset, and my relationship with God.

The mindset that says “you will always struggle with sin” is a major disgrace to grace. Jesus died to set us free from sin, not just to get us into Heaven. So here are three powerful thoughts, along these lines, to help you see that you too are free from sin.

Free From Sin

Thought #1 – I am not what I do. 

What you do does not define who you are. We like to label one another with titles based on actions, but scripturally it’s important to see that God does not operate like this.

God declares “those things that are not, as though they are.” 1  God’s declarations are creative in function, meaning they create the reality they declare. 2

Therefore, when the scriptures say we are righteous 3, holy 4, and new 5—God is not declaring a possibility, He is declaring the reality. 

What God says you are, you are. You are defined by God, not by you. Your actions may look different than righteous, holy, and new but that does not change who you are. God defines you, period.

Thought #2 I am (already) dead.

We get the Pauline phrase “I die daily” horribly wrong in Christianity.  What did Paul really mean when He wrote this?

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:31 that he “dies daily.” But don’t forget the context! Listen to what he writes just one verse prior. “Why are we also in danger every hour?” 6

Paul is not talking about spiritually beating himself up! He is literally saying that he is at risk of death every day for the sake of the Gospel! Elsewhere he boasts about how much he has suffered for the sake of the gospel 7.

We are not called to die daily. We are called to see that we have already died with Christ! 8

Thought #3 I am inherently good.

Our old sinful self is dead and gone. We do not have to fight an internal sin nature, because none exists. We are entirely free from the bondage of sin!

We are now inherently good!

We are good not because we have earned our own way into this goodness. We are good only because the work of Christ has made us good. No longer sinners prone to sin, we are saints prone to goodness!

Paul writes in Galatians 2:20 that “I have been co-crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. The life I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God.”

Our old nature is dead with Christ—lost and gone forever. We are now sharing in the life of Christ Himself. Our nature is His nature! 9

The Successful Cross

The cross was a success. Jesus destroyed the sin nature, and removed it from us entirely. We are free from sin, no longer prone to sin. We are prone to righteousness, goodness, and holiness!

Stop trying to work your way into righteousness, and just trust in the righteousness of Christ. Trust in the success of the cross, and the finished work of Christ!

What do you think? Do you believe you are “prone to sin” or “prone to righteousness”? Leave me a comment below!

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Notes:

  1. Romans 4:17
  2. Genesis 1:3—God spoke, and it was.
  3. Romans 3:22
  4. 1Peter 2:9
  5. 2 Corinthians 5:17
  6. vs. 30 NASB
  7. 2 Corinthians 11:16-33
  8. The Scriptural evidence for our death, in the past tense, is overwhelming. To name a few verses see: Galatians 2:20, Romans 6 (11 times Paul mentions your death here!), 2 Corinthians 5:14, and Colossians 3.
  9. Partakers of the divine nature, 2 Peter 1:4

“Jesus Was Forsaken by God” – Disgrace to Grace #3

Jesus Forsaken?Disgrace To Grace is a series of articles written to debunk doctrines that I believe have hijacked the Good News of God’s outrageous grace. Here’s #3, enjoy!

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Last week we talked about Penal Substitutionary Atonement (PSA), and several of the reasons why I disagree with it. Today I want to debunk another aspect of what PSA teaches.

Growing up I often heard Matthew 27:46 1 quoted in presenting the Gospel. The preacher would say something along these lines:

“God is to holy to look at sin. When Jesus died on the cross, the Father turned His back on Him. He abandoned Jesus, and forsake Him to die…”

But did the Father really forsake His Son on the cross?

Absolutely not!

Let me tell you some good news: Jesus, His Father, and the Holy Spirit remained inseparable on the cross. Jesus was not abandoned by His Father!

But how can I come to such a conclusion? Doesn’t Matthew 27:46 clearly say the opposite?

Here’s the deal. This is exactly why holding the bible in its proper context is extremely important. Yes, this verse does say this, but it should not be taken at face value apart from the right context.

Without the right context  for this verse you could easily (but wrongly) assume that Matthew 27:46 are Jesus’ words. They are not!

Jesus is quoting David from the Psalms.

Psalms 22 to be specific. Psalm 22 is a prophetic Psalm foretelling the death of Jesus. 2 Psalms 22 starts with “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”

Essentially Jesus here is quoting the first line of a famous song that every good Jew would have known by heart. Jesus wasn’t making a statement about how His Father left Him. Jesus is declaring the He is the Messiah.

And this is ultimately how I know that the Father did not forsake Jesus on the cross: Psalms 22 clearly says so!

Check out verse 24: “For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”

Jesus was not forsaken by God! The perfect union of Father, Son, and Spirit remained unbroken!

God did not forsake His Son on the cross. As Paul writes, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.” 3

Where was God on the cross? He was in Christ. He did not forsake His Son, nor did He abandon Him! He was right there with Him! The cross was the seamless act of an undivided Trinity.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is not a prayer of Jesus. Every single prayer of Jesus starts with “Abba! Father!” The Trinity remains undivided!

What do you think? Leave me a comment below!

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Notes:

  1. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
  2. I encourage you to read all of Psalms 22 in order to fully grasp onto what Jesus really meant to say. Specifically check out the later verses, including verse 27 (a favorite verse of mine).
  3. 2 Corinthians 5:19

“Jesus Saves! …From God?” – Disgrace To Grace #2

Disgrace To Grace is a series of articles written to debunk doctrines that I believe have hijacked the Good News of God’s outrageous grace. Here’s #2, enjoy!

Saves From GOD?Saved.. From God?

I want to talk about Penal Substitutionary Atonement today (PSA for short). Chances are you’ve probably never heard that term, but I’m sure you’ve been influenced by it.

PSA sounds like this: “God is a judge, and you are on trial. You’re guilty. You’ve sinned; God sentences you to death. He’s about to slam down the hammer, sending you off to eternal punishment, when suddenly Jesus steps in and offers his life in your place. He suffers the wrath of the judge, and you are forgiven your debt.”

PSA is Penal (to punish) Substitution (in our place) Atonement (to bring about redemption). It is a theory 1 of atonement, held popularly in Christianity, that claims Jesus died in order to appease the wrath of God.

Now, I have several issues with this theory of atonement. I don’t plan to address every issue I see here, but I hope to show you, at the very least, a few of the fundamental flaws in this theory.

I do plan on writing much more about this (both articles and eventually books), so this is definitely not the full scope of what I wish to say. But this will serve as a good introduction to why I have called Penal Substitutionary Atonement a “Disgrace to Grace.”

Problems With PSA

Undermining the Trinity:

This view of atonement, I believe, undermines the Trinity. PSA is a theory that is fundamentally anti-Trinitarian.

The Trinity should be central to our way of thinking about God. At no other place is this more vital then the cross, because the cross is essential to the Gospel story.

Within this model you get a very dualistic vision of the Trinity. On one side there is a holy judge demanding punishment, while on the other side there is a loving Jesus appeasing him.

Essentially, PSA teaches that one Member of the Trinity comes to save you from another Member of the Trinity.

This is not only an inconceivable flaw in logic, but a slap in the face to the early church who fought hard in defending the doctrine of the Trinity.

You can’t separate the inseparable Trinity!

PSA goes against Jesus’ union with His Father: “I and my Father are One.” 2 This union between Father, Son, and Spirit must remain central. The will of God is undivided. PSA splits the Trinity, making the will, and action of Jesus separate from that of His Father’s. Which I believe, is catastrophic.

The Dark Side of Jesus:

Did the fall of Adam change us, or did it change God?

trinity-knotObviously, the Garden changed us, not God. So who then did the cross seek to fix? Did the cross fix us, or did it fix God?

If PSA is correct, then the cross dealt with God, not us.

PSA flips the Gospel on its head. If Jesus died in order to meet a legal requirement within the heart of God, instead of fixing us, and our sin, the cross becomes about fixing God. 3

In other words, according to PSA, Jesus died in order to deal with the “dark side of God.” Jesus may be loving towards sinners, but His Father is furious and filled with wrath. When Jesus died, He died to appease the wrath of God. (To deal with His “dark side.”)

No wonder so many Christians love Jesus, but fear His Father! We’ve been taught that God has a dark side. Heck, even Martin Luther admitted that, while he loved Jesus, he wasn’t sure about His Father.

Again, Jesus said, “I and my Father are One.” There is no dark side of God for the cross to appease. Jesus came because of His great love for us, not because of His great wrath!

History, and The Church Fathers:

Additionally, this theory of atonement is actually relatively new. Not a single church father held to this belief. 4 It was first attributed to a man named Anselm in the 1100s. A whole century after the life of Christ!

Nicholas-Icon-Meme-2Early church father Athanasius, for example, seemed to have held primarily to the Christus Victor view. 5 Historically, PSA was only taken seriously after the 12th century. Which is not to say that new theories are automatically wrong, and old theories right. Rather, it is to say that there’s something wrong with a theory of atonement that is disconnected from the early church. (Those who witnessed first hand the life of Jesus.)

It’s not just the early church who reject this theory either. Do you like C.S. Lewis? He didn’t align with PSA. 6

Conclusions

Jesus did not come and die in order to appease the wrath of God. He didn’t come to save you from His angry Father.

Remember? Wasn’t it “For God so loved the world that He gave His Son..” not, “For God so hated the world..”?

The Cross is a revelation of love, not wrath! 

Jesus did not come to save you from the Father. He came to save you from sin, and undo the fall of Adam.

The Cross was the act of the whole Trinity: Father, Son, and Spirit. “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself..” 7

Now I know this may be a big stretch for some of you, and I understand that, it was for me too. But there are just too many errors in this theory of atonement, and it’s gone unchallenged for long enough. 8

Over the next few weeks I plan on coming back to this topic. Until then, please feel free to leave me any question you may have about this, as well as any objections.

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Notes:

  1. While many assert that this is not a theory, but rather a undeniable fact, there is not enough scripture written to adequately support this view. Many of the brightest minds in Theology consider this to be only a theory. Many hold that while it may be possibly what happened, there’s no certain way of knowing. Therefore, I insist that this is theory, not fact.
  2. John 10:30
  3. For more on this argument, check out Dr. C. Baxter Kruger’s book God is For Us.
  4. Some of Augustine’s writing seem to use similar language as PSA does, which has lead some to conclude that he is the origin for this theory of atonement. However, Anselm was the first to say that Jesus saved us from God. Augustine, and many church fathers, did say that we were saved from the guilt, and penalty of death. The distinction is that one believed to be sent from God through wrath, and another as the natural consequence of sin.
  5. In the next post, I will present some more of the alternate views of atonement for you. Specifically within Christus Victor, Athanasius, and other contemporary theories. So if you don’t know what that is, no worries, next week I’ll give you an overview.
  6. For a great video by Greg Boyd, explaining C.S. Lewis’ take on atonement (a more Christus Victor view as well) click here.
  7. 2 Corinthians 5:19
  8. I plan to write more next week on the scriptural refutes against PSA. (Not all of my arguments are just philosophical.)

“Sin Separates You From God” – Disgrace to Grace #1

I’m excited to announce a new series: Disgrace to Grace. Disgrace to Grace is about debunking several disgraceful ideas that spit in the face of the Gospel. I hope to boast in the outrage of Grace, and set you free from bad beliefs. Here’s #1. Enjoy!

Disgrace to Grace #1- Sin Separates You From God

Disgrace to Grace #1First of all, separation from God is an impossibility. Seeing that it is actually Christ who sustains you, and upholds your very existence (See Col. 1:17 and Heb. 1:3) any sort of separation from Christ would mean complete annihilation.

If Christ left you, you, as you know you, would cease to exist.

Additionally, if sin truly separates us from God, you are going to have to theologically do away with the omnipresence of God (which is a fancy way of saying “God is everywhere”). If sin separates us from God then our sin is more powerful than His omnipresence. In other words, if our sin separates us from God, then our sin changes the unchanging God. 

I’ve heard this idea a lot growing up in church. Whenever I would sin, I felt like I had to re-earn my way back into relationship with God. I believe this Disgrace to Grace is detrimental to our relationship with God. It can’t go on any longer!

Where did this horrible idea come from? This Disgrace to Grace comes from two scriptures: Isaiah 59:2 and Habakkuk 1:13.

In Isaiah 59:2 we read “..your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God..” (NASB)

Doesn’t this clearly say sin separates us? Not necessarily. Think about it like this: Separation from God is an illusion that infiltrated our mindset after the fall. The illusion of separation was a by-product of the fall. It is the Adamic mind that believes this illusion, but it has always been just that, an illusion. There is no separation.

Paul says this very thing in Colossians 1:21: “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.” (Emphasis mine) Our alienation from God was always an illusion, not a reality.

Remember, it was Adam and Eve who hid from God after their sin, not the other way around.

Onto the next verse then..

Habakkuk 1:13 is where we get the whole “God can’t look a sin” idea. But I challenge you to read this verse in its proper context.

This verse is in the middle of a dialogue between Habakkuk and God. He is essentially saying this: “God you are so holy and pure. You can’t look at sin. So why are you? Why do you let sin run rampant in the world?” 

Habakkuk is not saying that God actually can’t look at sin. He is talking to God, and implying the exact opposite: that God does look at sin.

The Truth

Sin cannot separate you from God! You have been eternally joined to the inescapable presence of God. He is in you, and you are in Him. You have been joined in union with Christ. You can’t go anywhere or do anything to change that fact!

This Disgrace to Grace is often taught to invoke a fear of sin, and in doing so, sin is often given more precedence than God. We think sin is bigger than grace!

But if the Gospel tells us anything, it’s that sin can’t hold a candle to grace. The grace of Jesus Christ is far greater, and far stronger than even the worst of sins.

Stop fearing sin! Absolutely nothing can separate you from God!

“..Though sin is shown to be wide and deep, thank God His grace is wider and deeper still!”

(Romans 5:20 J.B. Phillips)

What do you think about this weeks Disgrace to Grace? Share your thoughts below!

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