Friday, July 14, 2006

Thank you, Scot

Scot McKnight looks at thoughts from N.T. Wright and considers the relationship of justification and discipleship:
I see two major approaches: first, preach discipleship harder — rail away on the weakness of individual Christians today and highlight those weaknesses by showing just how committed Jesus wanted us to be. I would say I followed this approach from the time I read Bonhoeffer as a sophomore in college until I began teaching college students when it dawned on me that such an approach might get the whole notion of gospel and law mixed up. So, the second approach is to speak of God’s embracing grace, of the gospel of God, and of the power of God’s Spirit.

It would be unwise to choose between these, but I will offer this: If it is God’s grace that transforms, focus on God’s grace, God’s Spirit, and the gospel as the power of God for all of us in every way imaginable.
Scot is looking at an issue preachers face weekly. It's tough, but he gets it right.

Update: A reader has raised some questions for discussion in the comments section, and the comments so far are very much worth reading.


Blogger PamBG said...

I have an intuition that there is a middle way here, which is to preach about the sins that I face and the way that I sin. I think that this can invite people into the situation. For me, preaching that "you are sinful" feels like Phariseeism - that, and the fact that there are always a number of people in the congregation who are much further along the road of discipleship than I am!

But I think we should always, always preach God's grace; at every opportunity.


This post has triggered a question for me. I'd like to ask a question about the difference between male and female preachers. I respond best to encouragement, I think. Sometimes I hear men talking about wanting to "be challenged" in church. Can anyone give me an idea what this means? I presume it's not that men want the preacher to preach as if s/he were a Seargent Major at boot camp? "You all are lousey sinners! Shape up!" (This is a serious question, by the way. Not meant to get anyone's back up.)

7:32 AM, July 15, 2006  
Blogger Bob Spencer said...

Milton, this is a very clear delineation of the issue, I think. Scot is right in saying that it is dangerous to choose between the two--dangerous to overemphasize one at the expense of the other. Many people leave a church because the preacher talked to much about sin, and so they walk away saying he's too legalistic. These people are looking for grace, but some of them may be looking for it "on the cheap." Without saying so (of course), they're hoping to find a church where grace "abounds" in the preaching simply so that they can then go on sinning with an untroubled conscience. So preaching grace, in my view, needs to be tempered with the keen realization that we NEED it--that we are doomed without it. Then, when we understand the sheer gracefulness of grace, we will want to pursue the Graceful One with all our hearts . . . which ends up looking an awful lot like holiness!

6:05 AM, July 16, 2006  

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