June 28, 2009 Commentary:
The Heart of Christianity
Hello, and welcome to another broadcast of the White Horse Inn. The heart of the Christian Faith, what is it? It is amazing how many Christians today answer that question in terms of "law" rather than "gospel." Even in evangelical circles today, we often hear that the main thing is deeds, not creeds. Or we hear about "living the gospel." The watchword in many circles today is "What would Jesus do?" The question, "What did Jesus do?" is a doctrinal issue, increasingly controversial, that distracts our focus and energies from the mission of the church to transform individuals and the world. Let's face it, that is what a lot of people really think. "What would Jesus do makes it all about us, and we can do to make the world a better place." What did Jesus do for us," the gospel, is a question that takes us into doctrinal byways that just gets us caught up in arguments and debates. I recently heard one noted evangelical leader say that the main mission of Jesus was to make the world a better place. You hardly need an incarnate God for that one. I have Jewish, Muslim, and even atheist friends who make the world a better place every day and nobody had to be crucified in order for that to be the case.
It's good news for us that the heart of the Christian Faith is not a law but is a gospel; not something to do, but an announcement of something that has been done. Out of that triumphant announcement we offer ourselves to God and our neighbors as a living sacrifice of thanksgiving, but that's the fruit. The tree that bears the fruit is Christ's person and work.
The heart of the Christian faith is not personal or social transformation, although the gospel transforms people from the inside out. The heart of the Christian faith is not a strategy, program, or plan for our own victory. The heart of the Christian faith is the announcement of the victory that God has already achieved in his Son and now applies by his Spirit through the gospel. The heart of the Christian faith is not good advice, but good news. And for that very reason, it's "the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes." We are going to be looking at the importance of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone as the hear t of the gospel. The heart of the Christian Faith in this program...
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June 21, 2009 Commentary:
Is Christianity The One True Religion?
Hello and welcome to another edition of the White Horse Inn. In this edition we are going to be talking about Christianity as sure in the context of religious pluralism. Now all of us are for political pluralism for the toleration of free speech and the freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, we are all in favor of "The Bill of Rights" and for the rights of anybody to hold office regardless of their creed or religious perspective. Nevertheless, the culture that we live in right now is asking more from us generally speaking than that. They want us to believe that all religions are equally true, equally valid, equally right, and is that something that Christians can accept?
Contrary to its evangelical friends and foes, postmodernism is not responsible for this relativism and subjectivism. On the more "Emergent Church" side of things, breaking out of an era of rigid dogmatism and religious intolerance is a sign that we are finally coming of age: hence, post-modern. Then on the more conservative side, postmodernism equals a denial of truth and a descent into spiritual, moral, and theological anarchy. Both conclusions are wide of the mark. If we go back to the leaders of the Enlightenment--the epitome of modern thought-we quickly learn that there is really nothing "postmodern" about religious relativism and subjectivism. One notable example is Lessing's 1778 play, "Nathan the Wise-Which One is the True Religion?".
Set in Jerusalem during the Third Crusade, with Christian crusaders threatening Muslim-controlled Palestine, the play has the Muslim leader Saladin asking Nathan the Wise which is the true religion. Nathan replies with a parable.
A man in the East once had a priceless ring-so magical that "he who wore it, trusting its strength, was loved of God and man." Entrusting the treasure to his favorite son on that pledge that he too would pass it down to his favorite son, each heir would be favored regardless of his birth. "At last the ring, passed on from son to son, descended to a father of three sons; all of whom were duly dutiful," and, consequently, whom "he must needs love alike" says Lessing.
Over time, the father could not resist promising each of the three sons the ring, depending on which son he was favoring at the moment. Finally, as he lay dying, the father-grieved at having to wound two of his sons, but a man of his word-sent secretly for a jeweler to make two more identical rings. Approving the jeweler's beautiful reproductions, the father calls his sons to his side and confers his blessing-and a ring-each one receiving it in turn. Then he dies.
Nathan continues, "What happens then you can predict-scarce is the father dead when all three sons appear, each with his ring, and each would be the reigning prince. They seek the facts, they quarrel, accuse. In vain; the genuine ring was not demonstrable-almost as little as today the genuine faith."
The play as it goes on point out that this is really what goes on in the world of religion. So you see? There is nothing new under the sun, this has all been tried again-it's called postmodernism by people like Brian McLaren and the like, it's just a rebellion of one generation of moderns against another. This has been around for a very long time and we are going to talk about it on this program.
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June 14, 2009 Commentary:
God's Story vs. Our Stories
What is the gospel? For many Christians today, the gospel is the good news about how I got saved-in other words, my conversion experience. But is that the way that the New Testament uses the term "gospel" or good news? Not at all. The apostles refer to the gospel as a message concerning God's Son, Jesus Christ: God made flesh, fulfilling all righteousness in our place, enduring our sentence on the cross, and being raised on the third day as the source of eternal life. Where are you in that definition? Where am I? Nowhere!!! That's why it's good news. The gospel is the good news about who God is and what he's done in spite of who we are and what we've done. The gospel is good news for us precisely because it isn't about us.
It's striking that we know practically nothing about the personal piety of the apostles. In fact, we know more about Peter's misunderstanding of the gospel and cowardice before the resurrection than we learn about his godliness afterward. The whole focus of the Scriptures is on God's salvation of the ungodly, the helpless, those without any hope of saving themselves.
That's not to say that there's no place for telling friends and neighbors about the difference that Christ has made in our lives or telling them how we came to faith through the gospel, as much as that mysterious work of the Spirit can be identified. But we shouldn't assimilate Christ's story to our own. What happened to us is the result of the gospel, it isn't the gospel. The gospel is what happened to Jesus Christ. It is his life story, not ours. And precisely because of that fact, our lives can be grafted onto his. We die to ourselves and "the show about nothing" and are made alive in Christ by the Spirit.
As we consider how we can be effective witnesses to Christ in a post-Christian culture, it's vital that we recover the clarity and confidence in the gospel as the good news concerning Christ that is, for precisely that reason, good news for all of us.
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June 7, 2009 Commentary:
Why is Christianity True?
There is no commentary this week as the White Horse Inn interviews Doug Powell, author of the Holman QuickSource Guide to Christian Apologetics, as we help you know what you believe and why you believe it.
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