It's double-play Wednesday, so we're featuring two posts. First, a full meal on the right relationship of faith and works, followed by the shortest reconcilation of Paul & James I've ever seen...
The main course...
So I'm thinking about this short series since last night, and I realize that some people might read this and call it another in series of merciless beatings regarding purity of doctrine. Let me tell you that I do not intend this to be a "merciless beating".
The last bit of background or foreground or pallet or whatever you want to call my qualifications of this series about U2's last CD and the Banty Rooster's review of said CD (this is still about that 2-part review) is that I reject using the name of Christ and His church for ungodly ends. If I wanted to translate that down into something more application-oriented, it pretty well makes me sick when someone tries to leverage the good conscience of a disciple of Christ to achieve something that is not glorifying to Christ.
Some of you have read the article in CT from the "condiment" entry in this series, and you are prolly asking yourselves, "Cent: crackhead. Is eliminating AIDS in Africa actually not glorifying to God? What about eliminating poverty? Have you gone mad?"
Here's what I think about that: Jesus doesn't call us to eliminate poverty, but to minister to the poor. In that, ministering to the poor starts with delivering the Gospel ministry. To hand our loaves and fishes but not to hand out the Bread of Life sermon is metaphysically criminal. If you have also read Doug Wilson's blog that I linked to today, you'll see the fleshing out of that argument in a way which I can agree with.
Jesus also doesn't just call on us to heal the sick, but to preach the Gospel in order to reap the Kingdom, which is to say the Resurrection. Somebody is bound to try to take my head off over that statement, arguing that I am disjoining the incarnation or making the hope of the Gospel purely future and Aristotelian. Well, I doubt it. Those who are allegedly antisectarian but will call anyone with a cross earring a "Christian" are doing far worse when you think that the ministry to physical needs takes priority over the Gospel ministry.
Now go ahead: cite James 1 & 2 on me. You know what I'm taking about:
- What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
In what way? Because James never bothers to tell us what he thinks about works apart from faith! If someone is doing "good works" but can't bring himself to say "in the name of Jesus Christ" as a matter of qualification and a matter of adoration, then this person has no faith and is merely trying to live up to the Law.
It is not at all either/or. I would submit that it is wrong to spout propositions in hopes that they will do some spiritual or earthly good without also ministering to the person, but it is equally wrong to set up a soup kitchen or a hospital or whatever and not include the Gospel as part of the ministry -- it simply stops being a ministry and turns into a bureaucracy.
My point, really, is to underscore one important fact of the matter here: I'm in no position to judge the state of Bono's soul. I can't see that well. My glasses don't have the Spiritu Sanctu polarized lenses. So in that, I can't tell you if Bono is saved or not.
Whatever conclusions I draw in the final part of this series, (like nobody can see what's coming in this series, right?) I am not consigning Bono to Hell: I am trying to underscore the point that his rhetoric and his poses are a ploy to achieve a political end and not a statement of faith. The reason to make this point is simple: the conscience of the church should not be played for the sake of politics. And in that, it raises questions that the Banty Rooster's review of U2's last CD doesn't answer.
The question you readers should ask yourselves is if, after Cent finished deconstructing Bono and TBR, he will apply the same level of disinterest to those with whom he shares some political affinity.
See: THAT's gotta hurt.
and for dessert...
"Even so faith, if it hath not propositions, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have propositions: shew me thy faith without thy propositions, and I will shew thee my faith by my propositions." Some might argue that this restatement is leaning in the opposite direction from James' expressed concerns. So it is, which does not make it false or unnecessary -- Paul did it too. Paul and James were in full fellowship, both their concerns were legitimate, and they extended the right hand to one another. They did this, and what they both wrote is in the Scriptures because sinful men constantly want to veer off in one direction or the other. Paul opposed dead works, and James opposed dead faith. What they shared was their hostility to death.HT: Doug Wilson.