June 28, 2013

The Corrupted Gospel #andcanitbe

John Wesley's conviction that the Methodist movement existed primarily to proclaim the doctrine of Christian perfection (or entire sanctification) is well-known. Here is Wesley in his own words:
"This doctrine (full sanctification) is the grand depositum which God has lodged with the people called Methodists; and for the sake of propagating this chiefly He appeared to have raised us up."
For Wesley, the recovery of this good news is the distinctive contribution of the Methodists; to lose it would be to lose our identity. Tragically, we seem to have done just that. This quote from George MacDonald gets straight to the heart of the matter when it comes to why we must recover and hold on to the message of holiness:
"The Lord never came to deliver men from the consequences of their sins while yet those sins remained: that would be to cast out of the window the medicine of cure while yet the man lay sick; to go dead against the very laws of being. Yet men, loving their sins, and feeling nothing of their dread hatefulness, have, consistent with their low condition, constantly taken this word concerning the Lord [Matt.1:21] to mean that He came to save them from the punishment of their sins. This idea - this miserable fancy, rather - has terribly corrupted  the preaching of the gospel. The message of the good news has not truly been delivered" (Life Essential, 15). 
For MacDonald, to suggest that Christ came to save us from the consequences of our sin, namely hell, without also declaring the hope that Christ came to free us from a life marred by perpetual sin is nothing less than a corruption of the gospel. Again, MacDonald, "this is what He came to deliver us from - not the things we have done, but the possibility of doing such things any more" (16). I can only imagine that Wesley would agree and encourage the present day people called Methodists to preach a gospel that is whole and uncorrupted. 

1 comment:

ἐκκλησία said...

Matt, Jesus came to be the lens through we which view and understand the Old Covenant become New.

Through Christ we were to see the covenant contract God proclaimed to Abraham, established in Isaac then Jacob, to found a kingdom of priests [Exo 19:6] and a Holy nation. We were to see Christ as husband to a bride, redeemer to her and the Holy one of Israel and Christ himself would be that lens.

Yet, what have we now?

Christ is not that lens. Human theologians are that lens. We have Calvin, Luther, Barth, and others. A covenant relationship between a bridegroom and his bride are not the objects we gaze upon.

The bridegroom we glimpse may partially be the one Christ presented, but the bridegroom WE perceive is married to the world, or perhaps to a mockery of Babylon (now called the church).

This is what happens when we discard God's covenant promises and replace Christ's view with ones we ourselves construct. We see through a glass dimly.

We do not perceive the bridegroom who declared to his chosen wife "Your maker is your husband [Isa 54:5].

So why do quibbles about Christ's purpose trouble you then? Christ came to do more than simply save us from sin, or even to save us from the consequence of our sin. These are merely the limited preponderances of Wesley and his opponents; long dead perspectives on old arguments of little consequence now.

If we can't even perceive the fullness of Christ's covenant purpose as he expressed fulfilling the Old Covenant (since Christ Himself makes it clear the New Covenant is the Old Covenant fulfilled), and choose instead theological positions as our fashion, if that's what we see when we gaze towards Christ, we've long been lost and it matters little.

The only Gospel that matters is the one Christ understood. Arguments between historical men is not about that.