Wednesday, April 14, 2010

T4G or WHIT4G?

There's a big conference in town - Together for the Gospel - and though I'm sure many of the sessions will be uplifting presentations of biblical teaching, my heart is weighed down with what it symbolically represents.

Looking at the conference topics, I am struck by how most of them focus on maintaining the "boundaries" of the gospel (the theme this year is "The Unadjusted Gospel"). It seems that every time they do this conference, this is the focus. It is symbolic of the "young, restless and reformed" group's growing entrenchment in a new fundamentalism. It can appear to be a Reformed back-slapping session, where "This is the Gospel," and "Get the gospel right," "My friends Al, Ligon, Mark, etc. have the gospel right, and if you want to be in their club, you will too" charge the atmosphere.

I am all for maintaining the truths of the gospel in a pluralistic culture and an biblically illiterate church; but what I oppose is so focusing on these truths that we forget what the gospel is for - intimate relationship with God!! I feel that there is an imbalance here, a dangerous one in which we can be so easily duped into thinking that if we only hold the right doctrines of the gospel, we are right with God! (even the demons do this) Even worse, we can come to believe that our doctrinal precision and fervency is the same thing as an intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ!

Using the analogy of the Tabernacle/Temple after Jesus' death, it is like the priests and Pharisees are arguing over the location and condition of the sacrificial altar, table of showbread, and the menorah, when the way into the Holy of Holies has been torn wide open! It is tragic to think that "maintaining the boundaries" keeps God's children from entering his presence.

Martin Luther talked of the doctrine of Justification by Faith as being the hinge upon which the Reformation swung. A pastor lecturing on Luther in a similar conference (Stephen Beck, a Reformed pastor from Canada) reminded us that this is true, and the door itself is intimacy with God!

Let's remember to maintain the truths and boundaries of the gospel, but even more importantly let's remember to stand on these truths as we lift up our hands in pursuit of an intimate relationship with God that inflames both head and heart. Otherwise, the conference might as well be called WHIT4G - or, We Have It Together For the Gospel.

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