The Pastoral Practicality Of Law-Gospel Theology

by Tullian Tchividjian     August 23, 2012

So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin... -Romans 7:12&13

 Our church was recently hit with a high-ranking moral tragedy. It was discovered that a staff member (and close friend) was engaging in marital infidelity. I was both shocked and saddened. I didn't see it coming. None of us did. Of all the crises I've faced and had to deal with over the last 17 years of pastoral ministry, this was a first for me. I have dealt on numerous occasions with husbands and wives in the throes of an extramarital affair, but never a staff member. Never someone this close to me. It'll take me a long time to get over this one. On top of having to deal with this on a very personal level, I had the weighty responsibility of leading our church through this. How do you handle something like this? What do you tell people? I reached out to a small handful of older, wiser, more seasoned friends of mine who are pastors and counselors that have lived and led through situations like this. Their help and counsel and encouragement and insight were indispensable life savers for me. What would I do without these people in my life? One week after we discovered the affair, I had to stand up on my first Sunday back from vacation and tell our church what happened. I, of course, did not share much. I steered clear of details. I simply told our church that this man had been engaged in marital infidelity and the situation was such that it required him to be removed from his position. I shared with our church the detailed ways that we were caring for the families involved and communicated our long-term commitment to continue caring for the families involved. It was a tough morning for me. It was a tough morning for everybody. The hurt, the anger, the sadness, the confusion. I preached from Gal 5:13 that morning, and among the things I emphasized and explained to our church was that we are not a one word community (law or gospel) but a two word community (law then gospel). A law-only community responds to a situation like this by calling for the guy's head (sadly, many churches are guilty of this). These churches lick their chops at the opportunity to excommunicate. A gospel-only community responds by saying, "We're no better than he is so why does he have to lose his job? After all, don't we believe in grace and forgiveness?" A one word community simply doesn't possess the biblical wisdom or theological resources to know how to deal with sinners in an honest, loving, and appropriate way. Explaining that we are a law-gospel community, I showed how pastorally this means we believe God uses his law to crush hard hearts and his gospel to cure broken hearts. The law is God's first word; the gospel is God's final word. And when we rush past God's first word to get to God's final word and the law has not yet had a chance to do its deep wrecking work, the gospel is not given a chance to do its deep restorative work. Sinners never experience the freedom that comes from crying "Abba" (gospel) until they first cry "Uncle" (law). I illustrated this point by reminding our church that the Father of the prodigal son in Luke 15 did not fall to his knees and wrap his arms around his sons legs as the son was leaving, but as he was returning. He had been waiting, looking to the horizon in hope. When he saw his son coming home, crushed and humbled, he ran to him. But he didn't stop him from leaving. He didn't rescue his son from the pigsty. If we really love people and want to see them truly set free, we have to get out of God's way and let the law do its crushing work so that the gospel can do its curing work. I've seen way too many lives ruined because parents, pastors, families, and friends have cushioned the fall of someone they love--robbing that person from ever experiencing true deliverance because they never experience true desperation. As John Zahl has said, "God's office is at the end of our rope." Grace always runs downhill--meeting us at the bottom, not the top. With tears in my eyes and deep longing in my heart, I ache for the day when I can look out on the horizon and see my crushed friend walking toward me. On that day I'll know that God's law has done it's work. And when that happens, I will run to meet him, fall on my knees, wrap my arms around his legs, and throw a party. No questions asked. Just a party. I'm waiting for you, my brother!


We who passionately love doctrine know theology gets a bad rap from many in the church. It's seen as antithetical to piety, or at least distracting from the church's mission of making disciples in the world. We're accused of arrogance, arguing over trifles, and being personally cold to God and to others. Unfortunately, sometimes we fit the description. I'm a divinity school student, and I've seen plenty of contentiousness, snobbery, and cold-heartedness among those studying to become pastors and seminary professors. I've seen plenty of it in myself as well. Why? It can't be that theology inherently makes us this way. Theology is good. God is an infinitely beautiful, infinitely worthy subject of study. Theology helps us understand and articulate truth about God. It also helps us discern and counter erroneous teaching. Spiritual life without robust theology slips towards gullible pietism and becomes susceptible to heresy. We don't need less theology. But we might be tempted to live under the illusion that theology alone is sufficient. Our faith is foremost a relationship with the living God. We need to complement our theology, our knowledge about God, with what may be called Thouology: direct, relational knowledge of God. "Thou" is necessarily relational; I cannot speak about "Thou"---only directly to my subject. "Thou" reminds me that God is a being, not just a subject of study. The difference between theology and Thouology is the difference between reading a book on marriage and going on a date with my wife. My understanding of marriage certainly needs improvement. But experiential knowledge of my wife can only come from face-to-face time together. I'll learn more about her during this time, but I'll also experience her in a way that makes me love and cherish her more. In the same way, we must undertake knowing God on a personal level, interacting with him to truly learn him. The Psalms show us the richness of a life steeped in Thouology: You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16:11). One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple (Ps. 27:4). So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you (Ps. 63:2-3). The most beautiful descriptions of our hope for the future are also expressed in terms of direct personal relationship: The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing (Zeph. 3:17). Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God (Rev. 21:3). No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads (Rev. 22:3-4). Even the final controlling metaphor for Christ's relationship with the church---bridegroom and bride---is a "Thou" relationship. If we want to prepare ourselves for eternity, we'll begin now by cultivating Thouology. Here are five suggestions for how we can do so. 

1. Set yourself in the gospel. Guides on spirituality can be man-centered, promising that the right technique or habit will guarantee a satisfying relationship with God. But we as Christians already have access to the presence of God---entirely because of the work of Jesus imputed to us by God's grace. There is no room for pride before a God called a "consuming fire." But that same God has adopted us as his children. Preach yourself the gospel daily, reminding yourself that God has out of love already secured your relationship with him. The humility and gratitude this reflection engenders will prepare you to relate to God as "Thou." 

2. Meditate on the whole counsel of God. Meditation is deliberate digestion for the purpose of spiritual nourishment. God's Word teaches us, challenges us, equips us---essentially, it feeds us. Digesting God's Word leads us to know the God who inspired and authored it. Theology buffs usually love the Pauline epistles. Their tight logic leads to deep study. The other genres hold truth in equal measures but different manners: messy humanity-steeped narrative, fiery-hearted prophecy, contemplative wisdom literature, and otherworldly apocalyptic all proclaim truth, all contain God equally. For us to know God fully, we must take into ourselves all the ways God has spoken himself to us. 

3. Treat God as a person when you pray. Even when we pray, we sometimes feel we're merely throwing words into the air. We confess sin, express our emotions, bring needs before God, and even plead for the salvation of others without really engaging God as if he is a real being. There's no one sure technique to relating to God in "Thouological" prayer. Either we pay attention to him or we don't. Look at him, focusing on who he is. Tell yourself he's there, because he is. Interact with him, knowing that he's really listening and may even be speaking back to you. 

4. Immediately digest all theological learning into praise. Paul concludes his renowned theological treatise in the first 11 chapters of Romans with an eruption of praise. God's sovereignty, transcendence, and mystery provoke him to worship. The student of Thouology will look up from reading a sound work of theology and praise the God it reveals. If we take what we read and speak or sing it back to God in worship, we will find ourselves more aware of God as "Thou" and with a richer understanding of the God we worship. 

5. Discuss Thouology with others---especially those with a different theology than yours. Talk of theology often settles to differences: feeling out the other's viewpoint, defending our own, perhaps gently questioning theirs. But Thouology---discussing God as he is revealing himself and relating to us---can draw us together. Thouological conversations set our hearts firmly on God. They remind us that we will all someday stand as one multitude, crying out to one God, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" 

Joseph Rhea is studying for the Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama. He is a pastoral intern with Redeemer Community Church and married to Allison.

"It bears repeating: The act of believing per se does not and cannot save. Faith's value depends upon its object. Speaking more precisely, it is not even faith in Jesus Christ that saves. It is Jesus Christ who saves the sinner who places his trust in him. And I must underscore again, that to the degree that the evangelical 'inclusivist' believes that people of other religions may be saved apart from a conscious knowledge of Christ, to that same degree are they implying that the evangelical faith is irrelevant and obsolete. And that implication, regardless of the degree to which one may espouse it, is a direct attack upon the uniqueness and finality of Jesus Christ, the only Savior of the world! -Robert L Reymond


-Beautiful Terrible Cross-  by Selah

There is a beautiful terrible cross
Where though You commiteed no sin;
Savior You suffered the most wicked fate
On the cruelest creation of men

Yet on that beautiful terrible cross
You did what only You could;
Turning that dark inspired evil of Hell
Into our souls greatest good

We see the love that You showed us
We see the life that You lost;
We bow in wonder and praise You
For the beautiful terrible cross

There on that beautiful terrible cross
Though darkness was strong on that hill
You remained sovereign, Lord, still in control
As you perfect plan was fulfilled

We see the love that You showed us
We see the life that You lost;
We bow in wonder and praise You
For the beautiful terrible cross

We gained the riches of Heaven
Jesus you paid the horrible cost;
We stand forgive and praise You
For the beautiful terrible cross
For the beautiful terrible cross

In the cross, in the cross
Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river

Standing on Your Tiptoes- by Elyse Fitzpatrick

Am I Growing?

The conversation between 4-year-old Jackson and his mom in the car after dropping off his siblings at school was all-too-typical. “Am I growing? Am I getting bigger? Why am I still so little?” Jackson began his habitual morning tears. His mom answered, “You’re growing, my love…Don’t worry.”

Jackson then said, “But I don’t feel bigger. My brother is getting taller and taller and I’m still the same! When will I be big?” His mom replied, “Don’t worry, sweetheart. You’re growing even though you can’t tell. Some day you’ll be able to look back and see how much you've grown. You just can’t see it right now.”

“I’ll never grow!” he hopelessly sobbed. “I’ll always be little!” Even though the mom tried to comfort her dear little boy, he refused to believe he really was growing. He looked at his little feet and hands and remembered how big his brother’s were. When they arrived home, he ran into the house, up to the wall where he had already been measured that morning. He stood up straight to make himself taller. Then he stood up on his tiptoes and asked his mom to measure again.

“See? I am growing!” His mom just smiled and hugged him and said, “Yes, sweetie, you are getting bigger.”

Why Am I Still Struggling?

Although I’m a grandmother, I can understand this little guy’s concerns. In fact, there are times when I’m just like him. I’ve been a Christian for forty years now and I still look around at other believers and wonder, “Am I growing? Will I ever get big? How come she’s so spiritual and I’m still struggling?” I look at my life and then I look at theirs and I think, “Will I ever grow?”

If God has justified me, he certainly won’t condemn me. Why would I condemn myself?

Then sometimes, when I’m at my lowest, I start searching through my “good deeds,” trying to stand on my tiptoes so that I can feel happy about myself. I so want to know that I’m doing better. I really do want to approve of myself, but the more that I try to discern growth in my heart, the move discouraged I become. Others are growing and changing. I’m still fighting with the same sins. Sure, some of the outer obvious stuff is gone but my heart, oh my heart, is still so weak, so selfish, so unloving. So I find myself back at the Wall of Self-Approval, failing miserably. I know I need to refuse to be enticed by self-improvement’s allurements, but when I realize that I’ve been at the wall again, I feel even worse.

Our God Comforts-

What do I need to hear? How does the Spirit speak to me? Like the loving mom in the vignette above, the Spirit continually reassures me, "You’re growing, because I’m at work. I’ve got this all well in hand and even your sin, the failures that make you think you’re shrinking, are the building blocks of a soul that is being fit for heaven. After all I’ve done to make you my own, would I leave you now?"

Here’s how Paul sought to encourage our timid little hearts: If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

God Did Not Spare His Son-

What I need to remember is that the Father didn’t spare his own Son, but gave him up for me. If he would do that, wouldn’t it stand to reason that he will grow me in the way I need to be grown, when I need to be grown? He’s already graciously given me everything I need to be pleasing in his sight. So I can rest in his work and wait for the fruit of it to appear in its season, in his time. I can trust that even when I fail he’s using my failure to make me more like him–more humble, more dependent, and more thankful for grace.

God has already graciously given me everything I need to be pleasing in his sight.

Who is going to bring any charge against me? If God has justified me, he certainly won’t condemn me. Why would I condemn myself? Is my opinion more important than his? And then, when I’m tempted to run to the wall with pencil in hand again, here’s where I really need to focus: Christ Jesus is the one who died, who was made small in the incarnation and even smaller in the crucifixion. Then he was raised and is seated now at the right hand of God, interceding for me. He’s there for me. Now.

Do I Still Struggle?

Do I struggle in my growth? Yes. Further, the sad truth is that sometimes I want to grow so that I can be like Jackson and be happy about my growth as I compete with my siblings. The desire to grow is a good, but my motives are frequently so sinful. But even then, even when my motives to please him are wrong, I can rest. Why? Because he’s interceding for me. Right then, in my unbelief and pride, in my desire to save myself and avoid being little (a weak, unbelieving sinner), he’s praying for me. And not only that, his righteous record is mine. Now.

So, let’s put our pencils and rulers away and rest in his promise to complete the work he’s begun in us. And then, on the days when we pick them up again, let’s remember that he is interceding for us at the right hand of the Father who gave all so we would be his. We don’t need to stand on our tiptoes any more. We’re standing in his righteousness.

Excerpt From Elyse Fitzpatrick's latest book, "Give Them Grace"


Gospel-Saturated Dish-Washing and Diaper-Changing

In his new book,Gospel Wakefulness, Jared Wilson talks about how all of life is relevant for mission. From drinking coffee to changing diapers, from cutting the grass to washing dishes — all of life can be lived to the glory of God by those who have been awakened to the gospel of our exhaustively sovereign Savior.

He writes,

One of the attendant aims of missional evangelicalism is to challenge the compartmentalizing of the Christian faith that we see within the Western church. We are fantastic at itemizing our schedules, and even if we don't assign God a very large bracket, we are constantly remorseful that we "haven't made much time for him." While such compartmentalizing — as if "time with God" can or should be hermetically sealed off from everything else — is a natural symptom of our culture and environment, it also reflects a bad theology.

The truth is, the day does not belong to us. It is not our day to do with as we please. We serve a sovereign God. He created the end from the beginning, knows our future exhaustively, and is firmly in control. He made our days and they belong to him. As such, isn't it a bit arrogant to begin with the idea that each day is ours and then worry about fitting God in? Instead, we should work at the humble awe of knowing all of our moments, every millisecond, waking or sleeping, are perfectly accounted for within the economy of heaven.

Let us stake the flag of Christ's kingdom into the soil of our first waking moment. Drink your coffee when you get up, of course, but drink it to the glory of God. Then carry on in this way all day, no matter the task, be it menial or notable, so that each day may be a living prayer that God's will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. This is what it means to live a gospel-saturated life: it means being so conscious of the greatness of the gospel that changing diapers or cutting the grass is as much an act of worship as singing a praise chorus in a church service….

Jesus Christ is Lord over my heart, and he is Lord over my hands, and he is Lord over what I do with these hands, and he is Lord over what I say in my heart while I'm doing it. In submitting to the lordship of Christ, then, I do not treat washing dishes as wasting time I could be spending doing something "meaningful," but rather as a service to those who eat in my home, as a service to those who would have to wash the dishes if I did not, and as an offering of thanksgiving to God that I have food to eat, dishes to eat it on, and running water inside my home to clean with.

To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, there is not a square inch of our lives that is not claimed by God and counterclaimed by ourselves. If we believe God is sovereign, however, we will see all of life as mission and be led to submit the square inches we otherwise hold so tightly to the Maker of inches and hands.

Gospel Wakefulness, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2011), 90–92, paragraphing added.

"My Soul Finds Rest In God Alone" - Aaron Keyes

"My soul finds rest in God alone,
My Rock and my salvation,
A fortress strong against my foes,
And I will not be shaken.
Though lips may bless and hearts may curse,
And lies like arrows pierce me,
I’ll fix my heart on righteousness,
I’ll look to Him who hears me.

O praise Him, hallelujah,
My Delight and my Reward;
Everlasting, never failing,
My Redeemer, my God.

Find rest, my soul, in God alone
Amid the world’s temptations;
When evil seeks to take a hold
I’ll cling to my salvation.
Though riches come and riches go,
Don’t set your heart upon them;
The fields of hope in which I sow
Are harvested in heaven.

O praise Him, hallelujah,
My Delight and my Reward;
Everlasting, never failing,
My Redeemer, my God.

I’ll set my gaze on God alone,
And trust in Him completely;
With every day pour out my soul,
And He will prove His mercy.
Though life is but a fleeting breath,
A sigh too brief to measure,
My King has crushed the curse of death
And I am His forever.

O praise Him, hallelujah,
My Delight and my Reward;
Everlasting, never failing,
My Redeemer, my God."

"Jesus is now the Lord; He is enthroned at the right hand of God; He is reigning in His kingdom. But this is a Lordship and a kingly reign which is known only to believers. It must be confessed by faith. His Second Coming will mean nothing less than the Lordship which is His now will be visible to all the world. When we pray, "Thy kingdom come," this is what we are praying for: the effectual and universal rule of Christ in all the world, not only over believers". -George Eldon Ladd

"The Spirit-Led Are the Sons of God"

“For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God, are sons of God”. -Romans 8:13&14

“So let’s ask the question, what is it to be ‘led by the Spirit’? Because if you took verse 14 and just yanked it out of context, you could make it mean all kinds of strange things. You might say, “if I’m led to the right spouse, then I’m a child of God; if I’m led to the right college, then I am a child of God; if I’m led to the right vocation, then I’m a child of God. Now I don’t want to minimize the fact that the Holy Spirit practically leads our lives and we should look to Him for leadership and guidance. But that’s not the context here. Let’s make sure we get this right. The context here is, if you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Reason? Because those who are thus led are children of God. In other words, the meaning of being led by the Spirit in verse 14 is being led to kill sin in your life. It’s being led into warfare. So you want to know, how can I know if I’m a child of God? One answer from the connection between verse 13 and 14 is: Are you being led by the Spirit to make war on your sin? If came to me and said you were struggling with assurance about being a child of God, one of the questions I’d try to draw out from you is, tell me how you feel about your sin. And if you communicated to me a kind of cavalier attitude toward sin, that you’re not engaged in a deadly warfare to put the death the deeds of the body, I would take you to this text and say, “now look, the text says: ‘if you put to death the deeds of the body you’ll live, because those that are led by the Spirit are the children of God’. If you’re not putting to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit, then you’re not being led by the Spirit, and therefore your warrant to be a child of God is not there”. Don’t take this leadership of the Spirit and do anything else with it first; do THIS with it first. Being led by the Spirit is being led into WAR! The Holy Spirit is not cavalier about your sin. He hates your sin. And therefore if He’s there, leading, he leads you into hatred. He leads you into war. He leads you into killing your sin.” 

An EXCELLENT post from Ray Ortlund on GOSSIP:

Q: What are the duties required in the ninth commandment?

A: The duties required in the ninth commandment are the preserving and promoting of truth between man and man and the good name of our neighbor, . . . loving, desiring and rejoicing in their good name; . . . a ready receiving of a good report and unwillingness to admit of an evil report concerning them.
So says the Westminster Larger Catechism. The Bible itself is so clear against gossip, probably because we are so inclined toward gossip:
O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
He who does not take up a reproach against his friend. 
Psalm 15:13
There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him: . . .
one who sows discord among brothers. 
Proverbs 6:1619
Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people. Leviticus 19:16, AV
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. James 4:11
Argue your case with your neighbor himself,
and do not reveal another’s secret. 
Proverbs 25:9
God gave them up to a debased mind . . . . They are gossips. Romans 1:28-29
There are many biblical passages confronting gossip. The witness of God against this sin is overwhelming.
What is gossip? It is not necessarily false information. Slander is false. Gossip might include true information, and maybe that’s why gossip doesn’t always feel sinful. What makes it sin is, first and foremost, that God says it’s sin. But gossip spreads what can include accurate information to diminish another person. That is not how people behave when they are living in the power of the grace of God.
Gossip is our dark moral fervor eagerly seeking gratification. Gossip makes us feel important and needed as we declare our judgments. It makes us feel included to know the inside scoop. It makes us feel powerful to cut someone else down to size, especially someone we are jealous of. It makes us feel righteous, even responsible, to pronounce someone else guilty. Gossip can feel good in multiple ways. But it is of the flesh, not of the Spirit.
Adultery too is a serious sin, and one likely to be disciplined in a church. But I have never seen a church split over the sin of adultery. Gossip is a sin rarely disciplined but often more socially destructive than the sensational sins.
Gossip leaves a wide trail of devastation wherever and however it goes – word of mouth, email, blogging, YouTube. It erodes trust and destroys morale. It creates a social environment of suspicion where everyone must wonder what is being said behind their backs and whether appearances of friendship are sincere. It ruins hard-won reputations with cowardly but effective weapons of misrepresentation. It manipulates people into taking sides when no such action is necessary or beneficial. It unleashes the dark powers of psychological transference, doing violence to the gossiper, to the one receiving the gossip and to the person being spoken against. It makes the Body of Christ look like the Body of Antichrist – destroyers rather than healers. It exhausts the energies we would otherwise devote to positive witness. It robs our Lord of the Church he deserves. It exposes the hostility in our hearts and discredits the gospel in the eyes of the world. Then we wonder why we don’t see more conversions, why “the ground is so hard.”
What should we do when a conversation starts slipping into gossip? We should immediately challenge the sin: “Hey friend, sorry to interrupt, but this is gossip. So here’s the deal. This conversation is now on hold until you go get _____________, and then you can start over and say whatever you feel you must say right to his face. I am willing to be a witness to that conversation, but I will not participate in gossip. What do you choose to do?” Amy Carmichael established this rule at her mission station: “Never about, always to.”
“Let all things be done for building up” (1 Corinthians 14:26). Therefore, let’s always ask ourselves, “These words about to rise up out of my mouth or go out through my keyboard – do they build up? Am I being constructive? If the person I feel like discussing were here with me right now, how would his presence change what I feel like saying?”
“Do not be deceived: . . . revilers will not inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Is It Humble To Think All Paths Lead to God?

Many people conclude that there must be many ways to God (or act like this, a view called Religious Pluralism) because their social experiences introduce them to kind, respectable people who do not believe Jesus is the only way to God. In this post, we will weigh whether or not religious pluralism is a more humble claim than the claim of Jesus.
Is Religious Pluralism More Humble?
Despite very clear differences on who God is and how to reach him, religious pluralists continue to insist that there are many ways to God. Why would educated people continue to insist on an inaccurate view of other religions? One major reason is because they believe it to be an act of humility and love. Very often I hear people say: “Who am I to judge someone else’s religion, to tell them that they are wrong?” This implies, of course, that maintaining Jesus is the only way to God is arrogant. I’ll be the first to admit there are angry, arrogant Christians who rudely insist that Jesus is the only way to God. I’d like to apologize for those kinds of Christians. Arrogant insistence on your beliefs actually runs counter to the life and teachings of Jesus. However, just because someone is arrogant doesn’t make them wrong.

Arrogance and Humility
People can be arrogantly right about all kinds of things—math, science, religion. You probably work with someone like this. (Can you say Dwight Schreute?) The arrogantly right person always talk down to others with an air of pride because they have the right answer. It might not be nice, but it doesn’t mean they are wrong. And for all the Christians who are arrogant about Jesus’ exclusive claims, there are many more who have ardently considered many religions, searched out the truth, and humbly come the conclusion that Jesus was telling the truth when he said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). This doesn’t make them arrogant; it makes them authentic. They are willing to stand by what they discovered to be true. There is a humble and an arrogant way to insist on Jesus’ claim that he is the only way to God. Insisting on what is true doesn’t make you arrogant. After all, it is Jesus who said it, and Jesus was quintessentially humble, especially if he is who he said he was.

Religious pluralism exclusively insists that its view—all ways lead to God—is true while all other religions are false in their exclusive teachings.

The Hidden Arrogance of Religious Pluralism
When religious pluralism says that there are many ways to God, it is not humble. It actually carries an air of arrogance about it. How? Religious pluralism insists that its view—all ways lead to God—is true while all other religions are false in their exclusive teachings. Religious pluralism dogmatically insists on its exclusive claim, namely that all roads lead to God. The problem, as we have seen, is that this claim directly contradicts many religions like Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, and Christianity. The claim of the religious pluralist is arrogant because it enforces own belief on others. It says to other religions: “You must believe what I believe, not what you believe. Your way isn’t right, in fact all of your ways are wrong and my way is right. There isn’t just one way (insert your way) to God; there are many ways. You are wrong and I am right.” This can be incredibly arrogant, particularly if the person saying this hasn’t studied all the world religions in depth and makes this blind assertion. Upon what basis can the religious pluralist make this exclusive claim? Where is the proof that this is true? To what ancient Scriptures, traditions, and careful reasoning can they point?

The lack of historical and rational support for religious pluralism makes it a highly untenable view of the world and its religions. As we have seen, while it may appear to be a more enlightened and humble view on God and how to reach him, it is not.
"The shortest route to deeper and richer worship is a clearer theology."  -P.D. Manson

No comments:

Post a Comment