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Judge For Yourself: Do These Statements Agree?

Judge For Yourself: Do These Statements Agree?

My blogging style is polemical, and I don't deny it. But I am also careful to cite all my sources when I mention the views of others, so readers can read the original source themselves.

Pastor Thabiti feels that I have misrepresented him with regard to his position on the relationship between theology and practice.

So, here are the extended quotes in question. You be the judge: Do they agree? 


Statement #1:

"Fifth, good theology does not mechanically lead to good living.
We need to understand this. It’s a commonplace Christian assertion that if we believe the right things we ought to do the right things. Then we’re perplexed when either people who believe the right things actually do vile things, or people with supposedly faulty theology actually live better than the orthodox. We’re left groping for explanations and defenses. How did the Puritans “miss it”? Why did “liberals” seem to “get it”? Well, “it” doesn’t follow mechanically, ipso facto, ex opere operato from some set of solid beliefs. There’s a whole lot of effort, application, resistance to the world, self-examination, and mortification that’s gotta accompany the doctrine in order for the duty to follow. As Flav put it, “They’re blind, baby, because they can’t see.” That’s why they missed it; they couldn’t see it. Their theology wasn’t a corrective lense; it didn’t fix the cataracts. It didn’t fix the degenerative sight of Southern Presbyterians who also missed it, or the Dutch Reformed of South Africa who not only missed it but supported Apartheid, or some of the German Reformed who missed it in Nazi Germany, and so on. And this is why I’m made slightly nervous by the tendency of some Reformed types to advocate “pure” doctrine and demur at “pure” social action. The Puritan movement was a movement in church reform and revival, and some of their heirs (I count myself one) can be too purely concerned about the purity of the church without a commensurate concern about the purity of social witness. We can stack our chips on theology, as though theology inexorably produces the social results we want with little to no attending effort. Mistake, I think. The Puritans prove that."


Statement #2:

"I would privilege all the biblical texts that command love for neighbor (Matt. 22:35-39), love for enemies (Matt. 5:43-48), and especially love for brothers and sisters in Christ. This, our Lord teaches us, is the second greatest commandment. All the Law and the Prophets hang upon this command and the command to love God above all (Matt. 22:40). Jesus teaches us that love is the distinguishing mark of true discipleship, a mark that should be so evident that the world will know we’re His disciples (John 13:34-35). The apostle John elevates love to almost a synonym for the gospel itself—”This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.” He continues, “And this is his command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us” (1 John 3:11, 23). John tells us we have no right to regard ourselves as Christians apart from love for the brothers (1 Jn 4:20-21).

Now, lest someone think I’m trying to pull a fast one by pointing to a “general principle” to avoid more specific and toothier commands, let me hasten to point out that biblical love is a very fangy creature! It’s not mere sentiment devoid of action. Recall that love is a verb in 1 Corinthians 13. And the apostle John tells us, “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 Jn 3:18). I am contending that the command to love should have been obeyed and it should have been the controlling command in the entire debate. I argue that for this reason: love is everywhere commanded and slaveholding is nowhere commanded. We must realize we are comparing a positive injunction against an arguable freedom. Before we insist on obedience to the household codes, which address a matter of Christian freedom (at best), we need to insist on obedience to the greatest commands, which are not a matter of Christian freedom but obligation to God—indeed evidence of whether or not we really know God."



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Theological Graffiti is a blog written by T. C. Moore @tc_moore ...a Jesus-disciple, husband, father, Associate Pastor @NewCityChurch of Los Angeles, sometimes web designer, writer, and theology geek. For more about me, visit my Personal Website or my Online Profile. Otherwise, enjoy the graffiti.

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