September 25, 2020

Midweek Tidbits (6/13/12)

1. So, I go to Christian Post, and John Piper’s message this week is, “Did the Death of Jesus Accomplish Anything for the Non-Elect?”

He begins by saying,“It’s amazing how frequently that question is coming up recently.”

Really? What world are these people living in?

2. The more I think about the upcoming presidential election, the more I am convinced what we will have is a choice between two people completely committed to statism, one who is center-left and the other who is center-right.

Is this much of a choice? Will it make much of a difference?

3. I must confess my absolutely un-Christian loathing for the Miami Heat.

“Father, forgive me for I have sinned…

“But, Lord, mayest thou bless the Oklahoma City Thunder as thou didst blest thy holy hand grenade, that they might be the instruments of thy holy wrath in the NBA Finals and blow thine enemies to bits. In thy mercy.”

4. I am really digging using my new Google Chromebook to write the blog. My Macbook’s hard drive bit the dust a couple of weeks ago, and I decided to get something inexpensive and devote it to internet use, storing everything on the cloud.

We’ll still have to come up with another solution eventually to handle music, iPhone and iPod synching, and perhaps some larger storage issues (like pictures), but for now and for blogging and web-based usage, this little machine is swift and sweet.

5. Oh, I can’t stop with just one Christian Post story. That site is a veritable gold mine of evangelical craziness. I hereby raise a glass to Ed Young for continuing the constant drumbeat of moralistic pietism with, “Eliminating Vulgarity Key to Restoring Relationship With Christ.”

Then there’s the always reliable Dan Deizell with another question that comes straight out of the revivalist, “Wretched Urgency” mentality: “Can Deliberate Sin Negate Your Conversion Experience?”

And, are churches still really talking about tithing?

6. I received an email from a renowned author and NT scholar last week. He wanted to comment on some of the discussion regarding the Sermon on the Mount we had. Here’s what he wrote:

Mercy, I’m surprised how many of your readers don’t want the Sermon on the Mount to do what it does: do what Jesus says. It ends with a call to do. The theological overlay, Lutheran and Calvinist, concerns me in those readers.

By the way, Luther’s Sermon on the Mount commentary does not do that at all. He does not say it has to do with the Law raised to the highest level in order to reveal sinfulness. I read the whole thing; not sure he says it at all in that little commentary. Nor does Calvin’s. That so-called Lutheran view, while it may be found somewhere in Luther, is not so much Luther but later Lutheranism and is a theology gone astray. Bonhoeffer said that.

Bonhoeffer’s Sermon blows apart the distinction of justification and sanctification.

I’m thinking we are going to be having more posts on the Sermon on the Mount. To really understand Jesus, we have to get that message right.

* * *

7. I can’t wait to go camping in northern Indiana this weekend. The only thing I dread is that the temperature is supposed to be in the low 90’s. Away from the phone, away from the computer, away from the television, away from the daily grind — and can’t wait to just spend relaxed time with the family and friends.

Jeff will be watching over Internet Monk Saturday and Sunday.

Oh, and thanks to all of you for your words of encouragement on Monday about peeling myself off the wall that I so unceremoniously hit last week.


  1. I found that tithing article to be a bit annoying. What I have never heard in a tithing discussion from a pulpit or from any Christian leader is trying to mesh tithing with high income tax rates (I don’t fall in that category) or with income that is at or below basic living costs. For myself, having experienced extended unemployment and underemployment for 2 1/2 years, it’s hard enough trying to continue sponsoring two Compassion kids every month without the temptation to call up the Compassion folks and say “I can’t anymore; I have my own kids to worry about.” The unfortunate reality is that the more my family gives to others, the more likely the burden of providing for my family will fall on extended family (including the risk of having to move in with extended family), most of whom are almost as unfortunate as we are in this economic nightmare.

    The theoretical (though perhaps unrealistic) scenario I typically like to bring up is a 90% tax rate. If you give away 10% of your income prior to taxes, there’s nothing left over. It seems to me that in the OT, the tithe system was pretty much an income tax, so it seems dumb to not take that into account.

    • cermak_rd says

      Absolutely. That’s exactly what it was. Remember, the Jews at the time, were a community with a government, not just a religious group. Any religious group demanding a tithe for Biblical reasons, should, in my opinion, be avoided as fraudulent or at least woefully ignorant of the purpose of the tithe.

      There are plenty of decent religious groups that don’t demand a tithe and then you can choose to give to good charities with good ratings where the information is available on where the money goes and how much goes to the cause.

  2. cermak_rd says

    Enjoy the camping. Drink plenty of water. If you get too hot, get in the shade. Don’t forget to enjoy the stars at night. Rejoice in the breezes. Relax and enjoy!

  3. Steve Newell says

    In the piece of Ed Young (number 5), I found the following statement both amazing and saddening at the same time:

    “Young expressed, however, that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross allows sinners a chance to make that relationship work again. Just like committing onself to a spouse, one has to commit himself to God by speaking purely and leaving vulgarity behind, he urged.”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      And so the Gospel gets reduced to “No Cussing”. Just like that Christian pro wrestling franchise.

  4. I swear, once I think I’ve read the most nonsensical thing from a Calvinist perspective, they go and totally try to outdo themselves. How in the world can someone spurn irresistible grace? How is an offer of salvation truly an offer if a person has no power to actually accept or reject it? It blows my mind that seemingly smart people cannot see inherent nonsense in this.

  5. I am convinced what we will have is a choice between two people completely committed to statism, one who is center-left and the other who is center-right.

    From a Canadian perspective your choices are between someone who is center-right and someone who is far right (to be distinguished from extreme far right).

    • A friend of mine from England quoted to me this bit “In America you have the Republicans, who are like the Tories, and the Democrats, who are like the Tories.”

      Wish I knew the original source.

      • David Morris says

        One of Bill Clinton’s political strategists had worked for all three major political parties in the UK. I remember him being asked how he could do this, and his response was that they would all be Democrats in the US.

  6. In regards to #6, I just heard a White Horse Inn podcast advocating that postion your email scholar is concerned about (initials SM?).

    I think the concern they are trying to deal with is works righteousness.

  7. I don’t understand your concern with the Dan Deizell story. This is a topic that came up in discussion between me and a Calvinist on Monday.

    • Mike, maybe it’s because I have never had a lot of problems with assurance. I find that the author approaches most everything in older, revivalistic categories that I now find entirely inadequate. I’d hate to see churches going back to the model of coming forward again and again to “nail down” my decision.

      • Thanks for your response Mike. While I don’t think he worded his article particularly well, his key statement was: “It has to do with what you are relying upon for the forgiveness of your sins…..your religious efforts, or the cross….as well as your new attitude toward sin.”

        Even as a 5 point Arminian, I have assurance of Salvation because I am “in Christ.”

        I thinkthis article is much better written concerning assurance and sin.

        The Arminian position is that while the Bible does teach apostasy, we also accept that the Bible teaches that God holds those who abide in Jesus by faith. I love how Psalm 37:23-24 reads concerning God upholding the righteous. We are righteous if we are in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:24; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9) but apart from Jesus, we have no righteousness (Isaiah 64:6). The Arminian accepts that Jesus keeps His own (John 10:27-29) and that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). We accept that as we abide in Him, He is able to bring His work to completion (Philippians 1:6). We have the wonderful promise of Colossians 3:1-3 that we are hidden with Christ in God if we in Christ by faith.

  8. If by the “non-elect” the learned gentleman means the likes of me, then I certainly hope it accomplished something!

    I’m perfectly capable of sending myself to Hell without requiring the deliberate foreknowledge and sovereign will of God to comprehend from before the creation of the Universe that that was where I was headed, and so make my damnation unalterable by virtue of that same foreknowledge.

  9. “Bonhoeffer’s Sermon blows apart the distinction of justification and sanctification.”

    That’s what revivalism does. I respect NT Wright and have no dog in that theological fight, but I don’t think he fully represents the logical conclusions of what he is saying in that one statement. Very frankly, with no distinction between the works of justification and sanctification, there is no assurance of salvation. Not even John Wesley removed that distinction. To say I am shocked by that statement puts it lightly. I can care less about defending reformed theology or Lutheranism; I can just tell you from many of years of life and living and putting up with the crap of revivalistic evangelicalism, that what Wright proposes is untenable. If there is no alternative here, then sign me up for another religion.

    Absolutely. Let the Sermon on the Mount do its work. Let it drive us to the end of ourselves, to repentance, and to the foot of the cross.

    • Perhaps I am reading too much into Wright’s statement. I definitely agree that Bonhoeffer blurred the lines between justification and sanctification. Wright stops short of agreeing with Bonhoeffer, but that agreement seems implied.

    • This did not come from NT Wright, but your point stands.

    • How did Wright get lumped into this? Perhaps you misread “NT scholar” (which, I’ve always thought were rather fortuitous initials for Wright…).

      But to get to the question of the purpose of the Sermon on the Mount, I think it all depends on how we read Jesus statement, ” For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” I think the way that it’s read in many evangelical circles is people are taking it to say that unless someone is more perfect than these people, they have no chance.

      I think, though, if we look at what Jesus had to say about the Pharisees, it becomes more accurate to read it another way. Jesus’ problem with the Pharisee wasn’t that they were observing the Torah. It was that they were really doing things that made it look like they were observing it, but meanwhile they were actually missing the point of it. They were, as He says in Matthew 23, “whitewashed tombs”. They looked good on the outside, but they were full of death on the inside. What Jesus is promising is that in the Kingdom of God, it’s the other way around. People hearts will be changed, and when that happens their righteousness will be real righteousness based on their heart condition – not a parody meant to garner approval.

    • Dana Ames says

      dumb ox,

      My past experience with the SOM preached with a stated intention to “drive us to the end of ourselves, to repentance, and to the foot of the cross” had that effect the first couple of times I heard it that way. Later on, I started to tune it out. I thought, if that’s what Jesus was really up to with the SOM, then it is just another aspect of force – but force and manipulation were incongruent with the rest of Jesus’ teaching, life and death on the cross. So I had to give up that interpretation, and I was left without one for a long time, because, well, that’s just how it’s always preached. It was Dallas Willard in “Divine Conspiracy” whose interpretation of the SOM finally make sense to me, not only of itself, but also within the book of Matthew and the understanding of the Kingdom of God in general in the NT.

      Wright is not a Lutheran, so you’re probably not going to agree with him very much. I have found that most of Wright’s perspective – pun intended 🙂 dovetails quite nicely with Willard’s view of the SOM, and with much of EOrthodoxy.

      I’m a recovering perfectionist, had it very, very bad up until my mid-30s, and sometimes all the attendant fears connected with my perfectionism still dog my heels. The whole “theology of the cross vs theology of glory” as expressed by the Lutheran folk here seems very similar to the revivalist “make them see how sinful they are, which will certainly drive them to the cross” attitude I encountered in nearly 35 years in non-liturgical Evangelicalism. Brother, believe me – I already knew I needed Jesus for salvation, even as a Roman Catholic! And that kind of preaching did not lead to me believing that the Godhead *really loved me* and *wanted* to save me, or anyone else. It always seemed like Jesus and the Father had their hands “tied behind their backs” so to speak – Jesus had to love us because he was God, and the Father had to forgive because Jesus was the perfect sinless sacrifice. All nice and tidy and systemic and rationalistic and mechanistic and forensic – no love really necessary.

      I ended up really at the point of a kind of despair over this, with no theological relief anywhere I looked in Protestantism (although for some time I fully expected to find some, somewhere…). It was that as much as – or perhaps more than – anything else, with the questions I had piling up and all inter-related – that drove me into the Evangelical Wilderness.


      • I have to say, I’m confused by this comment. Preaching on the law and depravity made you doubt that Jesus really loved you? So what then? The only alternative is that Jesus died for us because of something we did. That is clearly not the case, as he repeatedly forgives and blessed the dregs of society who have no works on which to rely.

        I note that Dallas wilards amazon review says the book offers a practical plan by which we may become Christlike. I’m guessing its more than repent and receive Christs sacraments.

        • Dallas Willard espouse the controversial idea that we become more Christ-like by obeying Christ… Shocking, I know…

          • Nobody disagree with that. How one not conceived by the holy spirit, and tainted by Adams first sin, goes about doing so is the issue. Jesus certainly didn’t offer any practical plans to be perfect. He just said, do it. And that our sins will be forgiven, which is the key part, obscured by practical plans to be perfect as our father in heaven is perfect.

        • Dana Ames says


          If you’re sincerely asking, the “what then” alternative is what I found in N.T. Wright’s “Christian Origins” books (the “big books”) and what I found out about how Eastern Orthodox Christianity views the whole thing. Humans are not viewed as “snow-covered dung”. The Father is not outraged at our offices, the Son is not placating the Father and fending off his wrath. The “justice of God” does not demand a perfect sacrifice. God is not prohibited from forgiving us until _____ (fill in the blank).

          The alternative is not that Jesus died for something that we did.

          The alternative is that God, according to his love and his desire in creating humans in the first place, became incarnate – actually condescended in love to become a human being – and remained a human being while still remaining God!!! – and identified with humanity all the way down into death, so that he could rescue us from death and everything that is death-dealing, and ultimately fill us with his Spirit and be united with us and live in us and through us, so that humans can be all they were created to be, both now and after we are bodily resurrected when Christ returns. God is out to rescue his creation, all of his own incentive. Has nothing at all to do with the concept of “works”.

          A blog comment would not suffice to explain it all, and as I get the drift you are a convinced Lutheran, I am not trying to “evangelize” you, merely to answer your question. If you want to know more, there are plenty of ways to find out more.

          Re “practical plan”, that’s a mischaracterization- beware of publishers’ blurbs 😉 What Willard proposes is not an “easy steps” sort of list. It’s extremely simple, and extremely difficult.


          • Dana Ames says

            That is, the Father is not outraged at our *offenses*.


          • Ah, orthodoxy, that explains it.

            Nothing would make me despair more than looking at my life in light of the doctrine of theosis. Of course, the doctrine only makes sense if one severely waters down the demands of the law, which is exactly what Christ accused the pharisees of doing in the Sermon on the Mount. Not only was perfect compliance with all required outwards acts required, but one’s inner thoughts, desires, and motivations must all grow from perfect love for God and neighbor. No apostle claimed such perfection, instead, they boasted of their weaknesses.

            The idea that God is not outraged at sin, that he does not demand perfect sacrifice, or require utter purity in love, contradicts everything in the old testament. If that were true, then the OT God is not a god at all.

            Finally, Lutherans agree that God’s perfect love is forgiving, which is why God displayed his wrath on himself in the man Jesus. It doesn’t make sense to talk about God being bound to atone in bloody sacrifice or prohibited to forgive unless certain punishment is meted out, or that God must act in certain ways. There is no external rule imposed on God that he must follow (we reject the Euthyphro dilemma.). God’s nature is revealed in Christ, and whether or not God could have atoned for the world in some other way isn’t revealed to us. The atonement was through Christ on the cross, and he suffered, without having done anything to deserve suffering. That is how he showed the nature of his love for us. To make that merely into a decision by God to take on human form to “identify” with us better, is to turn Jesus into a Dr. Who or Q type figure.

          • Dana Ames says


            I experienced that despair long before I knew anything about EOrthodoxy, or theosis. I said it was a big part of what drove me into the Evangelical Wilderness. Orthodoxy was not even on my radar screen at that time.

            I believe the OT is to be read through the Passion of Christ – cross + resurrection. God us the same God, and therefore “God’s nature as revealed in Christ” indeed has to be the interpretive key. I just think – which opinion I came to before I ever read Orthodox theologians – that N.T. Wright’s interpretation, along with that of Willard, is much more consistent and coherent, and does not pit the Father against the Son.

            You are convinced, and so am I, so I will conclude by saying, the Lord keep you.


      • Dana

        With regards to your comment that Dallas Willard & N.T. Wright go together nicely on the Sermon on the Mount, I had the exact same though. I read Divine Conspiracy probably 2 years ago, and then recently picked up Surprised by Hope and Simply Jesus and realized that they were saying the same things. My views on salvation and Jesus haven’t been the same since!

    • cermak_rd says

      Why is assurance of salvation so important to you? I used to be Catholic, and I don’t remember assurance of salvation being a tenet of such, and of course, now as a Jew, we (in Reform) don’t even tend to concern ourselves overmuch with what happens after this life. We will, of course, find out when we get there. In the meantime, there’s a lot needed doing here and now.

      • Cermak_rd – I say to you AMEN! Worry about details that will be revealed to us when we die seems very “Martha” to me.

  10. Hearing Ed Young talk about the evils of vulgarity is kind of like asking someone what the next step is in an equation after you divide by zero.

  11. Re: Assurance
    The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. That just annoys the bejeebers out of the law abiding crowd who wish to document and observe in three dimensions. True, we are known by our fruits but we are also decieved by wolves exhibiting the same fruits. Knowledge of who we are and where we stand in Christ is held in the deep spirit in the quietest of places and can never be quantified by good deeds or missteps. The heart that loves God will be found in God. It is ‘being’ in Him that assures us of who we are. It is extraordinarily unsettling to ‘try to act like Jesus’ or call Him our model or example. There is canyon, of universal proportions, lying between Jesus as my role model and Jesus as my life. Allowing Him to live through me requires artistry, agility, intuition, imagination and, pardon me, cajones. Being engaged and occupied in that vital interaction with the Spirit of life leaves little need for assurance. Plodding the lifeless death march of following Jesus’ example on the other hand, requires constant assurance from one abject failure to the next. The cloak of the law is heavy indeed.

  12. Clay Knick says

    Thanks for this. I really enjoy these.

    As always you are spot on. If you’re ever in VA we’ve got to get together.

    Does anyone watch the NBA? 🙂 I used to, but the game got…boring. At least it is not as fun to watch as the NCAA.
    I might peek in here and there. I do like Durant.

    I’d love more on the Sermon on the Mount. Addison Hart’s book about it will be out soon and I plan to read it and just might use it for a fall study.

    Enjoy the camping.

  13. Chaplain Mike, if you really think it won’t make much of a difference whether Romney or Obama is elected, let me just say (in Christian love, of course) that you have your head buried in the sand all the way up to your ankles.

    • Not only do I not think there is much difference between the candidates, but I don’t really think who is president actually makes much of a difference when it comes to things like the economy. Quick — the last president to have a balanced budget? That’s right, Bill Clinton. The last people to propose an “Obamacare” type health program — that’s right, the Republican leadership in Congress in opposition to Bill Clinton who wanted something more. The last two presidents who ended up with the largest increase in deficits under their watch — Reagan and Bush II.

      It’s not about who is president. It’s about timing.

      • Clay Knick says

        Yes! I could not agree more.

      • Absolutely. It’s all about timing. The rest is about the best of intentions and a lot of hype and bluster. The Pres is very limited by congress, the economy, the state of war or lack thereof, etc., etc.

      • I believe the Supreme Court nominations that will come up in the next four years would be vastly different between Obama & Romney. The one’s Obama has made so far are examples.

      • Sorry Chaplin but the deficit run up by Obama in less than four years is greater than all the previous presidents combined.

        • Simply not true. Check out this article on

          • CM, that FactCheck dot org article seems to be more about rate of growth in spending annually, not about our national debt. The information I keep hearing over and over (admittedly from Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh) is that Pres. Obama called Pres. Bush unpatriotic during the 2008 campaign for adding 4-point-something trillion to the national debt in his eight years in office, but Pres. Obama has added 5.6 trillion to the debt in just 3-1/2 years.

            One of us has his head in the sand, and it ain’t me….

            I would love for you to prove me wrong.

    • I too think there is a difference. As we drive toward the wall Obama has the peddal to the floor whereas we have hopes that Romney will tap on the brake every now and then.

  14. (in Christian love, of course)

    This sounds like the Southern phrase, “Why, bless his heart…”

    “Why, bless his heart, but isn’t he just the biggest moron you’ve ever seen?”

    In other words, I don’t buy the false contrition…

    • cermak_rd says

      In Chicago, I hear 2 versions. With all due respect… and God love him BUT. As in:

      With all due respect, the mayor is an idiot who is so incompetent he shouldn’t cross streets by himself.


      God love him, but the mayor couldn’t find his way out of a wet paper sack.

      Not that I have anything against our lovely mayor, but I needed an example and by running, he volunteered for the spot.

  15. “I am convinced what we will have is a choice between two people completely committed to statism, one who is center-left and the other who is center-right.”

    We have the choice of not choosing between the only two candidates with the most realistic opportunity to win. There will be others on the ballot, and indeed some you might consider crackpots, but I would probably be correct in saying very few people even read the other candidates’ platforms and make an informed decision.

    Accuse me of “wasting my vote” but my conscious is clear each time I do.

  16. It’s almost like every time he opens his mouth, John Piper is thinking, “I wonder how I can sound like even more of a self-righteous, dogmatic, arrogant windbag than last time?” I’m sure there are Calvinists who aren’t like this, but I haven’t met very many.

    I am absolutely disgusted at how so many evangelical churches still teach tithing (an Old Testament law based around supporting the priesthood through giving PHYSICAL offerings, not money) instead of sacrificial giving (what the NT really teaches.) The amount of judgmentalism and scaremongering found in many churches about this topic is really appalling. Reboot Christianity had a good post on the historical context of tithing, sacrificial giving, and modern day applications.

  17. re the Dan Deizell article: is there any sin that isn’t deliberate? Somebody please explain.

    • The Communion Prayer in the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom refers to sins “voluntary and involuntary…known and unknown.”

      “I believe and confess, Lord, that You are truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. I also believe that this is truly Your pure Body and that this is truly Your precious Blood. Therefore, I pray to You, have mercy upon me, and forgive my transgressions, voluntary and involuntary, in word and deed, known and unknown. And make me worthy without condemnation to partake of Your pure Mysteries for the forgiveness of sins and for life eternal. Amen.”

      • But to give you an idea as to how this is possible, suppose I recoil before the sight of homeless people, without intending to do so, or necessarily even being conscious that I do this. This could be an example of a sin which is involuntary and/or unknown to me.

        • Thanks, Gerald. I think I have read St John Chrysostom’s prayer before, but as that’s not in my tradition it’s never been taught. Chrysostom may have been referring to any act of negligence, any omission, that can be corrected next time around if only we had been aware. I notice that he called that a “transgression”. I wouldn’t call it a sin.

          As for recoiling unconciously before a homeless person, or any other involuntary reaction, I don’t consider that in itself a sin. I think it’s the later, voluntary responses that become the problem. It’s something like feeling guilty for a dream. Not a sin no matter how steamy.

          For example, instead of a homeless person, let’s say that I notice a gorgeous woman in a low-cut dress. My noticing her the first time, and my favorable reaction to that, is not a sin (I insist to myself); but the second look (and any impure thoughts that accompany) become the sin.

          Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus himself was tempted in every way as we are, but without sin. No second look, or at least no lust to accompany it.

          Thanks for the reply.

    • Do we distinguish sins from abominations?

    • Ted-

      There are some sins which are involuntary. Like in the example given above, where a person does something almost on instinct (recoils from homeless), that is what I think would likely cover an involuntary sin. And, of course, there are sins that we perform that we do not know- whether it just doesn’t cross our daily radars, or because at the time we were not aware it was a sin (learning not to steal from the cookie jar as a kid, for example).

  18. Perhaps, after his resurrection, Jesus ought to have reached out to his opponents and pledged to be a messiah for the whole world, not just the souls who voted for him.

  19. Christians ought not tithe.

    A tithe is a calulation.

    Christians aren’t calculated givers. We give freely, from the heart.

    Jesus told us what a true gift was. The widow who gave all that she had.

    How does that make you feel?

    Me too.

    I’m glad I have a Savior. I really need one.

    • The widow who gave her last mite makes me detest the exploitation of the poor, which is what Christ was showing his disciples. He wasn’t, I’m sure, citing the widow as an example of sacrificial giving, but as someone whose living was virtually being stolen by the self-righteous of her day. And that type still live among us. See James – care for the widows and orphans is true religion.

      • You see…I didn’t see your take on it at all.

        I see someone giving evrything (a true gift) and Jesus comparing her to those who give a wee bit of their wealth, with plenty of fanfare.

        True religion, I believe, is believing in Jesus. Even pagans and Hindus can take care of the poor.

        • It’s something Jesus talked about a lot for it not being all that important.

          I think that much of our conversation on this subject is skewed because we’re approaching the Gospels from a soterian perspective (to use Scot McKnight’s terminology). We are so used to picking out verses from the Gospel to support our efforts to get people to accept Christ, convert, be born again, or however you want to describe the experience, that we seem to be unable to step back and see the bigger picture. That’s my opinion on the matter, anyway. I do not think that the Jews in audience equated “salvation” with a “personal relationship with God”, “going to heaven when you die”, or generally most of the things it has come to mean.

  20. I’m having a hard time finding the “sermon on the mount” posts. Could you link to them?

    Sure, the sermon on the mount might end with a call to “do,” but it is chock full of declarative sentences. The takeaway isn’t a ton of imperative, though that is certainly not lacking entirely. But Jesus did not come to give us another to do list. I could agree that the purpose of the sermon wasn’t simply to drive us to despair; I think the law was capable of doing that just fine on its own before Jesus came along. But there are certain portions of the SotM where Jesus appears to be blatantly one-upping the decalogue.

    I’ve got to ask, is this “renowned author and NT scholar” a Roman Catholic? Because as far as I know, the distinction between justification and sanctification is the essence of Protestantism generally.

    And for Pete’s sake, let’s add the “appeal to Luther” to the list of logical fallacies when arguing theology. Luther is not definitive of Lutheran theology, but merely the instigator. We owe a good deal to many other theologians who left their distinctive marks on our tradition. Just because some idea isn’t in Luther’s commentary doesn’t mean it isn’t “Lutheran.” If you want to know what is, read the Book of Concord.

    • The person is not Roman Catholic, and not very familiar with Lutheranism and its theological discourse. I included his comments to prompt discussion, not to take sides, though I think he has a point (as do the Lutheran commenters).

    • Miguel, the emailer was responding to my post last week from the Pastorum Conference on Scot McKnight’s talk.

  21. Chaplain Mike:

    Regarding the tithing issue we did a piece at the Steam Tunnel on Memphis SBC Pastor Steve Gaines’s, um, colorful discourse about tithing (Tithe or You’re Dead). Based on your response to some of our other pieces, I thought you might find it interesting.

    Sergius Martin-George

  22. About the Ed Young item (#5):

    I think it’s interesting that Young tries to say that controlling vulgarity isn’t about externals but rather it is about the heart (i. e. if you are using vulgarity and not making efforts to eliminate it from your life then you have heart issues). I had an experience with something like this once while attending a Catholic high school. One day I was late for school. The assistant principal called me into his office for a short meeting, during which he asked, “Do you think there is more to this than meets the eye?” I was hurt and offended by this–the implication here was that he considered my tardiness that day to be the outward manifestation of a heart issue. But I didn’t want any trouble, so I just answered “No” and left it at that.

    Also, Eric Rigney wrote a thoughtful piece about cussing here on this site. It’s way back in the old archives: