CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

Greg Johnson, founder of the St. Louis Center for Christian Study, has written a very pertinent series of chapters on the modern invention of "Quiet Time", and how the church has turned our devotion to God into an issue of guilt. Each day this week, I will quote a chapter and comment as necessary. Below is part three in the series of six entitled, "Freedom from Quiet Time Guilt Part III: The Remedy - Weakness Christianity." Part I can be found here. Part II can be found here.

The Remedy: Weakness Christianity

There are two religions calling themselves evangelical Christianity today: Strength Christianity and Weakness Christianity. Strength Christianity is that religion which places both feet squarely on the Bible and proclaims, “I am strong. I sought the Lord. I’m a believer. I’ve turned away from sin. I read my Bible and pray every single day. I’m for God!” Weakness Christianity, by contrast, places both knees squarely on the Bible and says, “I am weak, but the Lord has sought me. I believe, but help now my unbelief. I fail and am broken by my continued sinfulness. Have mercy on me, Lord, and grant me favor, for apart from you I can do nothing.”

Those who pursue Strength Christianity will never find joy in God, for they will never find God. Our Father refuses to be approached in that manner. They will find only increasing religious pride and secret hardness of heart. On the outside, they will project a picture of righteousness. They’ll have it all together. They’ll be spiritual. But only on the outside.

For those who stumble across the rare jewel of Weakness Christianity, however, there is provision beyond what we can possibly imagine. Our suffering, our failures, our weaknesses and disappointments all gain an incredible spiritual significance. God never says he’ll be glorified in our religious accomplishments. But he does promise that his power will be made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor 12:9).

Neediness is the heart of biblical religion. When we honestly lay our brokenness before God, we’re surprised to see a radically different message in the Bible. While we had perhaps expected a to-do list from Holy Writ, a program to make us righteous, or a divinely sanctioned self-help book, we instead see a shocking message that centers on our God and his grace to his broken people—not about us and our performance and expected rewards. And when we approach God in brokenness—Weakness Christianity—we find a radically difference vision for prayer. Prayer is not something we do—a performance designed to get something from God. Instead, it’s merely a free and honest confession of our neediness to God and our spoken reliance upon him for each and every blessing. When you stumble upon Weakness Christianity, you realize that true religion is all about God’s grace, not about our devotional consistency.

Weakness Christianity, it sounds like something Martin Luther would have embraced. The details of Johnson's split in Christendom mimics, at least in my mind, that of the Reformation. Luther, convinced of man's inability to please a Holy Father by his own merits or by being guilted into offering one's money to the Church to secure one's salvation, taught that it was only by this humble attitude and recognition of depravity that we could then be in need of a Savior. Why would anyone want to be saved if they truly thought they were "basically good?"

The Apostle Paul noticed this in 2 Corinthians 11: 29-30:

"29 Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern? 30 If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness." [emphasis mine]

Here, after enduring tremendous hardship in prison and traveling hundreds of miles, Paul knows that if anyone in the church has claims to boast it would be him. However, Paul's wisdom brings him to his knees, where we are at the foot of the cross. There is where we find rest and joy. Only at the foot of the cross are we sanctified. "Sola bootrapa" applies here, but on God's terms. God alone is the one who pulls us up from our own condemnation.

This is where our prayers become truly effective. We may pray fervently in semi-Pelagean phrases whereby we only need a little of God's help to get us moving, but it is that prayer which leads to full Pelagean thought.

There's been all this talk about grace. Are you wondering who grace applies to and how does it and works co-exist at the same time? Find out tomorrow in part IIII of the on-going series this week entitled, "Freedom from Quiet Time Guilt: The rare beauty of Weakness Christianity."

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Cross-blogged at Apologia Christi

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