welcome. why "weak on sanctification"?

this accusation is often made about lutheran christians. because we focus so strongly on god's justifying grace in christ, and our continual need, as "sinner-saints," to receive god's gifts of grace through word and sacrament, people say we are "weak on sanctification." i prefer to say we are strong on jesus, whose sanctifying work in our lives is the fruit of the gospel all along our lifelong journey. i would much rather focus on what he has done than on anything i might do.

the weekly discussion

each week I set forth a topic to promote discourse about some aspect of Christianity, the church, or the spiritual life. i would love to hear your perspective and thoughts on each week's subject. these discussions are usually posted on mondays, so if you missed this week's post and would like to catch up on the conversation, just scroll down and join us.

November 21, 2009

mark galli on "transformation"

a wonderful interview with mark galli, senior managing editor of christianity today, has been posted over at the ever-interesting mockingbird blog.

a couple of paragraphs caught my attention as appropriate to share here, because they deal directly with the subject of being "weak on sanctification."

preach it, mark!

The other thing is the whole business of “transformation.” I notice how often that word comes up—our lives can be transformed, our churches can be transformed, our culture can be transformed. We imagine if we do everything right according to what the New Testament teaches us, that things will be completely changed. And if they aren’t completely changed, I’ve either bet my life on something that’s not true, or the Gospel itself is not true.

I just keep on coming back to Luther’s truth that we are simultaneously justified and sinners. I keep on looking at my own life, and at church history, and I realize that when the Gospel talks about transformation, it can’t possibly mean an actual, literal change in this life of a dramatic nature, except in a few instances. It must be primarily eschatological; it must be referring to the fact that we will in fact be changed. The essential thing to make change possible has occurred—Christ died and rose again. (And in this life we will see flashes of that, just like in Jesus’ ministry there were moments when the Kingdom broke in and we see a miracle. And these moments tell us there is something better awaiting for us and God is gracious enough at times to allow a person or a church or a community to experience transformation at some level.) But we can’t get into the habit of thinking that this dramatic change is normal, this side of the Kingdom. What’s normal this side of the Kingdom is falling into sin (in big or small ways), and then appropriating the grace of God and looking forward to the transformation to come.

click on the following link to read galli's article, "the scandal of the public evangelical," in which he expounds further on "the long-standing evangelical myth that there should be something different about the christian."

today's van gogh
field with poppies, 1889

1 comment:

  1. Indeed, one of the problems with evangelicalism is the concentration on immediate transformation and the follow-up questions "why are you still doing that...?" and "why isn't this working out?"
    The answer would be "you aren't doing enough (praying, believing, etc)."
    I think that the focus on long term santification instead of immediate total transformation is more realistic and ultimately scriptural. (I am being transformed daily into the knowledge and image of my creator).
    We like to make fun of the disciples saying and doing stupid things in the gospels and then point to Peter at Pentecost and say all that is behind us. Yet Peter still did some unwise things in Acts, and favored Jewish customs only when the Jews came around. Reading some of the things Paul preaches about in the Epistles puts it in perspective. The churches weren't transmogrified with a bunch of squeeky clean 1950's Christians, they had problems with race (Jew vs Gentile), sexual sin, worshipping angels (Colossians), etc.