Friday, October 16, 2009

A Marshmallow Gospel

The scripture posted for the Bible Study on Ray Comfort's blog was:

Luke 1:51-53 He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.

I contributed a comment which was mostly a quote from A.W. Pink, where he shows that a sinner coming to Christ for life must first realize his desperate and lost condition, and that death and judgment are just a step away.

Someone challenged that with an objection that concluded with their understanding of what conversion is. This is what they said:
"To come to Christ for life, is for the person to realize that God, as a loving father, wants only what is best for every creature; is to see himself as God's child; is to admit that he is deserving of God's love, thus taking side with God; it is for him to find himself for the first time in the grace and love of God, and humbly extend the love of God to others."

I called this a "marshmallow gospel" because the way of salvation found in Scripture is quite different. The Bible says that God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Through the Law He graciously reveals to sinners their own corruption and that they will have to face a holy and just Judge on the Last Day. Through the Gospel He shows Jesus Christ, who endured the wrath of Almighty God, on the cross, as the substitute for those he came to save.

No, it isn't a matter of realizing that we are "deserving of God's love" and that all are His children. All men are naturally God's enemies, and only by grace are we saved. It is the Son of God who draws sinners to Himself, and Salvation is of free grace for all who come to Christ and receive it on his terms. (Ephesians 2:2-5)

This is the "meat and potatoes gospel," not a "marshmallow gospel."


Ho_Theos Agape_Esti said...

Craig, you say:

All men are naturally God's enemies, and only by grace are we saved. It is the Son of God who draws sinners to Himself, and Salvation is of free grace for all who come to Christ and receive it on his terms. (Ephesians 2:2-5)

We could swap "proof-texts" back and forth all day. Here's one:

"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." (Romans 8:15ff).

But proof-texting is futile, because our difference is not over what the Scriptures say, but rather over how the Scriptures should be understood (which is a separate matter).

The ultra-calvinist conception of God (Pink's), as I see it, inspires nothing but fear, we either fall into line like good little syncophants, or the Almighty Sky-Tyrant will torture us forever in his torture box. On the other hand, Christ, as I see him, teaches me to think of God as my loving father, and to fear not for tomorrow, because God is watching out for me, and his love sustains me.

The point of my comment, which I notice you left out, was that you were speaking though there was one way of understanding what the Bible, or Christianity, has to say about salvation.

I contend that Christianity may be true, and Pink's form of Calvinism at the same time could be false. What do you think? said...

To: "God is Love"

Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting.

First of all, I should tell you that the reason for my initial comment on the "Back to Dr. Luke" post was that I happened to read that passage from Pink on the day of Ray's posting. I thought it fit in with the scripture passage and Ray,s words. I am not an apologist for Pink, although I appreciate the selection that I quoted.

Re. Proof texting and Romans 8:15ff. True, I didn't address that (although I linked to your entire comment here). I didn't see the point. The fact that different people and groups within Christendom interpret doctrines differently is axiomatic. I hold the Epesians and Romans passages to be in harmony. St. Paul's letters addressed believers who previously had been at enmity with God, but upon being born again have been translated into His kingdom, and are in fact members of His household. Christ himself calls us his brethren.

I'm fine with having a friendly discussion of our differing views if that is what you want, but the "Three Forms of Unity" is closer to what I would heartily endorse as reflecting my views, not Pink. (You can see them on The United Reformed Church link [below]).

It would help to know who you are. Your "profile" was only just created and there isn't any information on it.

Best wishes,