Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Chattering in the blogosphere...

Everybody in my little world decided to read the Shack last month, and Richey and Austin devoted some blog space to it. I'm going to withhold comment because I haven't gotten past the foreword yet. And if I end up never getting around to reading it, I'll just label them liberal, new-age heretics for reading such an evil book, and then I'll feel self-righteous and pious instead of just feeling like a slow reader who can't keep up with the pace of others more intelligent than I.

But I thought chapter two of Richey's book was pretty hard-hitting. It really reminded me of James 5:1-6, with its condemnation of living in luxury while the righteous suffer. Richey's scene also makes us recognize that some of our supposed cultural superiority may well be propped up by peace and prosperity, so that if these crutches were taken away many who shake their heads at atrocities now would quickly sink to the same level of savagery. The amount of wealth and free time that we have been given by the socio-economic forces of history is amazing, and provides a tremendous opportunity. If we squander it on selfish pleasures and neglect compassion, these seemingly small and harmless sins condemn us. Thanks, Matt, for creative and thought-provoking content.

Now how about certainty of salvation? I really appreciated Richey's emphasis on God as the source of salvation. Faith and the gospel are the means he has established, and they bring us to God, the one "who is coming to be glorified in his saints, and marveled at among all who have believed" (1 Thess 1:10). I'd agree that we can have a warranted confidence, but probably won't be without doubt and certainly won't have empirical certainty. This doesn't mean we ought to question with every wrong action whether we have just failed to persevere. But it does mean that we ought to expect believers to show in the sum of their lives enduring fruits of regeneration. When someone starts down that path, then falls away, as it seems occurred with Bob Dylan in Richey's case study, what was the cause? Did God give them grace to express the fruit of the Spirit for a time, then withdraw it? Were they working out of the strength of their flesh and only appeared to have genuine fruits of godliness? Hmmm...

2 comments:

faithbornfromdoubt said...

you know what really sucks about having read the shack? that almost everybody else is reading it and/or talking about it! I feel so normal and sterotypical... so with the curve instead of ahead of it. I dont like that feeling.

Thanks for your comments on my fiction chapter thing. Unfortunately I've tried to pick out sins that I am in some way and degree guilty of myself so I feel so dirty and hypocritical writing them.

Bren said...

nate! fun post! i too have not read the shack but it sure is fun reading everyone else's take on it. let's be self-righteous, pious ignoramuses together! ;] enjoyed your thoughts on richey's book as well.