Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Saviour AND Lord

I used to hear this at evangelical meetings. The distinction between making Jesus your savior and making Jesus your Lord. That is offering people the opportunity to accept salvation from Jesus without having to promise to obey Jesus. Now the speaker always recommended doing both but presented them as separate decisions. So some could say I want to go to heaven but I don't want to reform my life.

I didn't believe there was a distinction back then. It was just referred to again on Called to Communion. Apparently John MacArthur is all over it. The ironic thing is that the distinction is very close to the Catholic objection to Faith Alone. Something that same John MacArthur calls a complete rejection of the gospel. He misunderstands the Catholic position. He says we want to make works a requirement. But he is OK with making obedience a requirement. It is just that Catholics are more precise about what that means. We list gravely evil things that can remove people from a state of grace. Somehow being precise makes people feel like grace is not involved. That does not follow logically but people seem to go there.

Practically the concept is the same. If you have someone who wants to say Yes to Jesus but they are in an impure sexual relationship. Can they say Yes and just go back to that relationship? Some would declare them saved right now and hope they bring that area of their life into obedience at some unspecified time. But Catholics and more conservative protestants would disagree. You must say No to that relationship as part of your Yes to Jesus. That does not mean you will never sin in that area. It just means you are serious about making Jesus Lord of your life. Any change you do make is still by grace alone.

So where is the difference? A lot of it is language. There are some connections Catholics make with sacraments. But much of it is dome by protestants without the theology around it. They would not tie initiation to any sacrament but they would expect some sort of sinner's prayer type of event. If someone fell into serious sin they would expect some sort of act of contrition. Again it would not be a sacrament and there would be no precise theology around it but they would recognize that the sin cannot just continue if the person is saved. Eucharist would not be important but you had better go to church somewhere on Sunday morning. They would see absence from weekly services as a sign of a serious spiritual problem. They would never call it a mortal sin but they recognize that reality.

Protestants are less sacramental and less precise about these matters mostly because they have to be. They don't have the authority to demand people perform certain sacramental rites in certain situations. So they come as close as they can without actually instituting it. It does allow people to cheat around the edges. The extra rigor is good and bad. It does rub protestants the wrong way. It feels like legalism. But the freedom of fuzzy lines can be abused. It often is at very critical moments in our spiritual walk. So we have something solid there all the time just so it will be there when we would otherwise fall. The rest of the time it might be a pain but it is a small pain. It teaches us obedience and humility.

No comments:

Post a Comment