Jesus: Bringer of Peace, Bearer of Wrath

I am almost finished with the book "Why we're not emergent: by two guys who should be." (Kevin Deyoung and Ted Kluck). The title of this post is from the chapter I just completed.

I woke up this morning thinking about the term "enemy" and how we are perceived by others. Then I clicked on a message board and read someone else's feelings about being considered an enemy. This inspired me to write a long, emotional post on this message board. For those of you who don't know, this is a message board for people who have come out of my former church affiliation (not just one individual church, but the fellowship as a whole). One of the reasons I haven't been posting on my blog as often lately is because I have been posting a lot on that message board. I once felt guilty about posting there (because it hurt people's feelings). But I now believe God is using that message board and is speaking to hearts through it. I know there are many people reading who never make their presence known. Yes, there are things a reader has to "wade through" at times. Not every word spoken there is edifying. We are human and flawed. And many come to that board as a result of deep wounds inflicted by these churches. But if God can speak through a donkey, He can speak through a message board. If we are listening for God's voice, He can use just about anything to speak to us.

After I finished typing out my reflections and articulating the pain I feel in being viewed as anyone's enemy, I picked up my book and began reading Chapter 9. This chapter is entitled "Jesus: Bringer of Peace, Bearer of Wrath." I would like to share some of that chapter because I see similarities between the thinking of the emergent church movement and voices from my past. I think that is one of the reasons I have such an interest in learning about this movement.

Too often emergent leaders force us to choose between salvation by following Jesus' example or salvation that doesn't care about good works. But this is another false dilemma. By God's common grace people often show the work of the law written on their hearts (Rom. 2:15), but Paul makes clear that we don't always do what the law requires, such that good works can never justify us in God's sight (Rom. 3:20). Therefore, Abraham is our example, not because he tried to make the world a better place, but because "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness" (Rom. 4:3; Gen. 15:6).

McLaren and others in the emergent church are right to want a gospel available for all. Where they misstep is in neglecting to mention, and sometimes outright denying, that the gospel is (1) first and foremost a message about what Jesus accomplished, and (2) it is for those who repent of their sins and call on Jesus Christ as Lord. Does the emergent Jesus demand that all nations worship Him as their God and Savior or merely that everyone live like He did? McLaren argues that "Jesus didn't get crucified for being exclusive; he was hated and crucified for the reverse -- for opening the windows of grace and the doors of heaven to the tax collectors and prostitutes, the half-breeds and ultimately even the Gentiles. But is this really so -- Jesus was crucified for opening the doors of heaven too wide? Obviously Jesus was chided for fraternizing with sinners and tax collectors, but why did the Jews crucify Him? They killed Jesus for His outrageous Godlike claims -- that He was the Son of God and the King of Israel (Matt. 26:63-66; 27:39-43).

Jesus consistently upset Jewish scruples about Torah, but it was His self-identification that drove them to murder. "This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God" (John 5:18). I'm sure emergent Christians are sincere in their love for Jesus, but what kind of love is it that makes so little of His glory as the long-awaited Messiah and the Son of the living God (Matt. 16:16), the Alpha and Omega (Rev. 1:8), the righteous Judge (2 Tim. 4:8), the conquering King who rules the nations with a rod of iron (Rev. 2:26-27), the great I am (John 8:58), and the Lamb who was slain to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29)? Chesterton is right. "Those who charged the Christians with burning down Rome with firebrands were slanderers; but they were at least far nearer to the nature of Christianity than those among the moderns who tell us that the Christians were a sort of ethical society, being martyred in a languid fashion for telling men they had a duty to their neighbors, and only mildly disliked because they were meek and mild. The early church was important because it was intolerable, and it was intolerable because it was intolerant. Not socially intolerant or coldhearted or obnoxiously abrasive, but intolerant of any salvation but the cross, any God but theirs, and any Lord but Christ."


Anonymous said…

That was good thanks for sharing from the book. It goes back to the subject that we have been discussing so much and that is the Cross.

It is amazing to me how offensive the Cross is. However, I should not be amazed as I too was an enemy of the Cross. It is so offensive because it strips us away from contributing anything and leaves us absolutely 100% unworthy of anything. Our sinful pride can not take it and that is why Salvation is a supernatural work of God.

I'll share a quote from Paul Washer that I really love.

" I don’t care how strong your religion is, or how strong your church life is, I don’t care how strong your morality is. On that day of judgment God will tear it down and it will wilt. Whenever humans declare themselves to be righteous they are doing it by contrasting themselves with other humans who are worse. And you can get away with that, but when your righteousness is contrasted with the righteousness of God there is nothing but to throw yourself down and declare your morality to be dung."
- Paul Washer

Todd E.
Shari said…
Great quote, Todd.

I never even thought about how we diminished God's holiness and elevated man to believe these doctrines until I left. I have renounced these beliefs and repented of them because God opened my eyes.