The Heresy of Underestimating God’s Grace. (Redemption in Christian Community part II)

This is part II in a series on redemption. In yesterday’s post I talked about the puzzling problem of a culture that seems to love redemption, but doesn’t seem at all compelled by the real redemption that is central to the Christian message. Why is that? I think the problem lies in two separate but related functional heresies at work in the Church (here meaning heresies in what beliefs are reflected in the way we behave, even if we swear up and down with large conferences, studies and sermon series’ to the contrary). The first is the heresy of core goodness; that we were simply good people on a wrong path before Christ came and saved us. The second is the heresy of surface neatness, as opposed to deep righteousness.
The first heresy works to make us, at least in the way we act, imagine that some people are beyond salvation, by imagining that we were not “beyond salvation” before God came and saved us, regardless of how respectable we were at the time.
Just by way of review, let me remind us of where we were before God found us. We were one of the “all” that were going their own we, we were not doing righteousness, because none were (read Romans Ch 1-3 for a full elucidation of the topic… and yes, Romans 1 applies to all of us). The simple fact was that our righteousness was as dirty rags (and so our evil was even worse). We were not seeking God, we were seeking our own righteousness when God saved us.
By forgetting this, we imagine that certain people (usually people who don’t meet our standards of surface neatness… more on that tomorrow) are beyond God’s salvation. We may use religious language to cloak it (misappropriating Jesus’ words about pearls before swine), but the result is the same, we believe we were closer to God when he saved us than those other people are, so there is no reason to have patience with people who struggle with sins that are different from our own.
It’s also going to mean that we’re going to have “second class Christians” (or even go so far as to call other people not Christian) for “sins” that are minor in the Biblical metanarrative (drinking alcohol, failing to divest of investments in politically problematic companies), all the while ignoring sins that are major (failing to love people created in the image of God…. all people, or failing to love God).
This gets really dark when it’s linked with the other major functional heresy. More tomorrow

Author: Stephen Dawe

Steve is a part-time vocational elder Calvary Baptist Church, St. John's as well as a full-time student at Memorial University of Newfoundland, in the Religious Studies Department.