May 27, 2007 Commentary:
"Why Christ Alone Saves"
Throughout this year-long series, we're following the general rubric of the so-called "solas," or "onlys," of the Reformation--only Scripture as the final authority for faith and practice, only Christ as Savior and Lord, only grace as the method of redemption, and only faith as the means of receiving it. In this program, we're focusing on that second sola, solo Christo, or "by Christ alone." As with the other slogans, it's the "only" that makes all the difference. The Reformation wouldn't have become the nuisance it was if it had just insisted on the importance of Scripture, Christ, grace, faith, and God's glory. The problems arose when it affirmed not only the importance and necessity of these pillars of faith, but when it said that there was no higher authority than Scripture itself, no saving merit before God apart from or in addition to Christ's, that grace was not only the essential but the exclusive method of God's saving work, and that faith alone--apart from works--was the means of receiving justification and all other gifts of Christ's.
Rome had no trouble believing that God should receive all the glory, but it also gave human beings some of the glory by attributing salvation partially to their good works. So the reformers really got into hot water by saying that God alone should receive all the glory since it's He alone who's done all the saving. So when we come to "Christ alone," we run into trouble on all sides. First, we run into trouble in religious circles where it's either implicitly or explicitly thought that Christ's righteousness needs to be supplemented by our own efforts; second, we encounter a world that doesn't mind if we believe in Christ but has insisted the conviction that "there is no other name in heaven or on earth by which a person can be saved." It's the exclusivity of that sola, of that "only," that the world finds so offensive.
But that's always been the case. Christians were thrown to the lions in the early centuries not because they believed in Jesus--after all, there were altars and statues set up of all sorts of deities--no, they were despised because by claiming that Jesus Christ alone was Lord, they were judging all other religious perspectives, deities, and outlooks--idolatrous and untrue. In this program, that will be our topic: Why Christ alone saves.
May 20, 2007 Commentary:
"Who Do You Say That I Am?"
When we read that Jesus came to his own and they didn't receive him, we catch a glimpse of the whole history of Christianity. More often than not, challenges to the biblical proclamation of Christ as God incarnate who has come to save us from our sins have come not from external enemies, but from within the church's own ranks. We've seen this, for example, ever since the Enlightenment. Some of the most important names in modern thought, people who contributed to the agnosticism and secularism of the era, or, according to their own biography anyway, pious Christians. Nearly all were raised in the church, and many of these figures (the great philosophers) were even students of theology. In fact, theology in biblical studies and faculty in the great universities, have often been the most fanatically devoted to the destruction of orthodox Christianity. So, none of this is really new. In fact, it goes way back before the Enlightenment. The same denials and confusions that we find in the modern era could be found in the ancient church. Heresies not only threaten the peace and outreach of the church, they also help the church to think through more deeply what it believed and why. So today Jesus asks us, as he asked his disciples, "Who do you say I am?" In this program, we'll look at some of the contemporary answers to that question, particularly from those who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ.
May 13, 2007 Commentary:
"The Person of Christ: A Matter of History or Faith?"
Every day, there seems to be something in the news or in TV documentaries about Jesus-we saw that this past Easter. For post-Christian culture, there seems to be a lot of interest still in this Jewish rabbi who lived two millennia ago. Yet for many the interest is like the great interest in the mysteries of Egypt, or the history of the Aztecs, or the myth of King Arthur. The question is consistently pressed, "How much of it is true?" And as Christians, when we go to church and sing about Christ as God incarnate, savior of the world, and judge of the last day, how do we know to what extent any of this corresponds to that which is actually true? In other words, is faith in Christ dependent on the facts concerning the historical Jesus? Does it even really matter?
May 6, 2007 Commentary:
"The Quest For Relevance"
Our special guest is Os Guiness. Os is the author of Dining with the Devil, Fit Bodies, Fat Minds, and, most importantly for this broadcast, Prophetic Untimeliness: A Challenge to the Idol of Relevance.
Mike: Prophetic Untimeliness is a very interesting title. Why did you pick that title?
Os: Well, my concern is that evangelicals are becoming liberals in the sense of two hundred years of following Schleiermacher's idea of reaching the culture, despises the gospel...The liberals have gone down that route and have ended up as the tail of a dog, always wagging wherever the dog leads, and the extreme of that is people like John Shelby Spong, the Episcopal leader, and so on, which is really a sell-out of the gospel. And evangelicals resisted that stoutly, but nonetheless, twenty or thirty years under the influence of the seeker-sensitive movement, you've got an evangelical equivalent. So someone like, say, Brian McLaren (A New Kind of Christian), is exactly the same title as John Shelby Spong. And the irony is, in that chase for relevance, they become irrelevant because they tie themselves into some fashion of the spirit of the age and as the saying goes, "He who marries the spirit of the age soon becomes a widower." So I'm trying to warn evangelicals: the chase for relevance leads to irrelevance.
Mike: What do you think have been the principal ingredients of that downward drift?
Os: Basically, insecurity. To put it more deeply, traditionally human beings have had a view of time with three faces: the past, the present, and the future, obviously. But most people felt that the only one of the three they knew anything about was the past. It was, put crudely, in the can. They didn't know that much about the present, and nothing at all about the future, I mean, unless you're in touch with some bogus shamen or something like that. But in the craziness of our modern world, we ignore the past-which, biblically, is the key to wisdom. With our total, instant information, we pretend we know everything about the present, and now we even think we know the future.