Thursday, March 10, 2005

No ethos without theos

My head's been banging around about true grace, and how the role of the poor relates to Christianity. I was very encouraged and challenged by this article.

SOURCE: Thinklings
Kingdom behavior cannot create kingdom hearts. It is the other way around. For the former approach puts the focus on man, while the latter gives the glory to God. This is more, I suspect than many of Bono’s acolytes would be willing to accept. Bono says, "To me, faith in Jesus Christ that is not aligned with social justice, that is not aligned with the poor -- it's nothing." But the reverse – "Social justice that is not aligned with faith in Jesus Christ is nothing" – is just as true, is in fact truer. Why is it not preached except by those accused of bigotry and judgmentalism and putting conditions on the Gospel? Because most of us, Christians included, want the glory without the cross.

The evangelical, conservative church is not exempt from this error either. I think the Church makes the same mistake, despite its explicit acceptance of the exclusivity of Jesus. The Church reduces the Jesus ethic to pious sentimentalities, as well, equating “doing good” with “being good,” decontextualizing the teachings of Jesus until they become little more than baptized proverbs. Discipleship is about self-improvement, taking up one’s cross is about staying positive through a rough time, etc. We are just as guilty, because we are drunk on self-help and our own potential and discovering the champion in ourselves. We too want the glory without the cross. Bonhoeffer had a phrase for that: cheap grace.

No sentimentality without (the) sacrifice.
No justice without holiness.
No right behavior without righteous character.
No ethos without theos.

Kingdom actions without kingdom character are rubbish.

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