We Don’t Care About Your Motives, Just So You are Against Sin, Secularism and Obama?

William Blake

The Moral Virtues in Great Fear

Formed the Cross & Nails & Spear

And the Accuser Standing By

Cried out Crucify Crucify

If Moral Virtue was Christianity

Christ’s Pretensions were all Vanity

Conservative “Christians” tend to be identified with a prescribed set of practices rather than with ideas and doctrines about what God did in Christ.

Hearing the gospel is not about how much we make ourselves do or how much we can make ourselves believe. Faith is the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ causing us to look to Jesus Christ so what we depend on what Jesus Christ already did by His death and resurrection so that we do not depend on what we believe that Jesus Christ is doing in us and in our church.

Grace is not for the nice people who are living right. Grace is not what causes us to live right. None of us lives right yet. Grace is not useful the way parents and politicians want it to be. Isn’t it wonderful that Jesus Christ has already done enough so that we don’t have to con ourselves into believing that God has to “show up” every Sunday in the presence of authorized clergy?

For freedom Christ has made us free. We don’t have to have Jesus “warm up our hearts” in our daily quiet time. Romans 6 even says we don’t even have to sin to get more grace. Romans 5—we stand in grace. What are we going to do, now that we know that our doing is not what causes God to bless us?

But surely there’s got to be more to life than “merely” that, doesn’t there? More than “only” not having our sins imputed to us? At the end of the day, I say, NOT SO MUCH. Who in our day cares about not having sins credited to them? Who cares about that? Can’t we now get over that basic fact, and get on with it, and concern ourselves now with moral progress? Our sins are not counted against us. Do you hear that anymore? Who in our age now is so selfish and individualistic to still care about if their sins are counted against them? I Am.

But isn’t it dangerous for God to not count our sins against us? Maybe it’s so, maybe it’s not. Maybe there’s a not yet aspect of our justification in which God’s work in us by the Holy Spirit will be brought in as an additional factor, so that we can now still have various different motives, including the beauty of threats and the loss of assurance, and whatever else that works to get us on the move… NO NO NO.

But wouldn’t it be better now, in the present fight against secularism and liberalism, to not “rock the boat” about grace, and accept the “tension” between grace motives and other motives? So what if some works are not done from a clean conscience but done in order to keep the conscience clean, why rock the boat just because grace happens to work for you? Can’t we get along with people who operate out of different motives?
And the accusers appeal to us, if you really believe in grace, they tell us, you should get alone with the rest of us, with other doctrines, with other motives. Some Christians, they tell us, are

Many today warn us–yes, grace and gratitude is one complex of motives, but don’t forget to balance that with other motives

Do we address the people in church as if they have been believing some form of the gospel all along? “Close as in horseshoes”? Or do we say—some or all of you may need to be reconciled. Nobody is born reconciled. Let’s not presume. Let’s not beg the question.

Jerry Bridges, p 34, Transforming Grace—“if you are trusting TO ANY DEGREE in your own morality, or if you believe that God will somehow recognize any of your good works as a reason for your salvation, you need to seriously consider if you are truly a Christian.”

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8 Comments on “We Don’t Care About Your Motives, Just So You are Against Sin, Secularism and Obama?”

  1. slightlybehindthecurve Says:

    Mark thanks for your insightful posts on union. I am trying hard to understand it. My motivation is that almost every Sunday I hear that Tullian and Mike are antinomian and wrong on union.

  2. markmcculley Says:

    If all sin is the same as not believing the gospel, then being christian is being moral, and if being moral is being Christian, then being Mormon is being Christian. If all sin is the same as not believing the gospel, then there are no Christians but only sinners.

  3. markmcculley Says:

    I am all for being “anti-liberal” but that does not mean being “anti-secular” and it certainly does not mean that we need to endorse new Christendom projects. Hauerwas, like Brad Gregory, simply hates both the Reformation but also the non-Magisterial idea of voluntary visible churches (plural) , Stanley willingly follows Leithart, Milbank, and Oliver O”Donovan into illusions of moderate and organic reformations so that one church tells the nations what should be done.

    John Howard Yoder never agreed to the Hauerwas romance with Constantinianism. After Stan wrote Against the Nations (by means of one catholic established church)), Yoder wrote books defining ecclesia as that which happens (or not).

    But Hauerwas more and more wants ( at least in theory) one catholic church where the ordained sacramentalists stand up front where you walk to receive salvation from them while they tell you what to do if you want to stay in the (one) covenant.

    To go toward Rome is to go from churches being important to one church being the gospel. Stan likes the pope for the same reason he likes Amish elders.

    If we want to go the other direction from Rome we need to do more than change seats on the bus heading that way. We need to get off the bus. That does not mean saying that visible churches are not important, but it does mean noticing that we only have churches (not one church). The best critique written so far of Hauerwas is Nate Kerr’s book on apocalyptic. Our hope is not our influence on society but the second coming of our King..

  4. markmcculley Says:

    hart: the problem is that adding Christianity to the common realm only gums up the works. It either turns Christians against Christians, or it leads Christians to say nothing that your average American on anti-depressants wouldn’t also affirm.

    is one implication of the gospel that the forgiveness of sins is not all that important or practical?

    http://oldlife.org/2014/03/adding-jesus-doesnt-make-better/comment-page-1/#comment-122122

  5. markmcculley Says:

    Some Christians “act as if some vast conspiracy is brewing in America over the Christian faith, with naysayers organized against Christians. They feel like they live life on the cultural margins, so they take that as their identity–they count their marginalization as their righteousness. They are not looking to Jesus as their only righteousness, and so they act from prejudice, assuming that everyone hates them, and they act in a way that confirms this.” (Crucifying Morality, p 105, R. W. Glenn)

  6. markmcculley Says:

  7. markmcculley Says:

    Theodore D. Bozeman, “Inductive and Deductive Polities”, Journal of American History, December 1977, p722–Materially comfortable and conspicuously toward the leading groups in society, the old school carried forward traditional Calvinist support for business and professional vocations….Having supported from the beginning a version of Protestantism supportive of property consciousness, the Old School leadership had incentive enough for worry about social instability…
    Old School contributions to social analysis may be viewed as a sustained attempt to defend the inherited social structure…The General Assembly found it necessary to lament the practice of those who ‘question and unsettle practice which have received the enlightened sanction of centuries’…
    Social naturalists assumed that the laws of society were not merely true, that is, given in the scheme of nature. They bore too the humbling force of prescription; they demanded compliance. The desire was to draw the ought out of the is…to make facts serve a normative purpose.”


  8. My simple reply is, “I am so thankful for the imputed righteousness of Christ and His death for my sins”. I cannot look to anything in me or done by be, as I am a sinner. My acceptance with God stands alone in the finished work of God for me in Jesus. I rest my faith in what has been done in Jesus, and on Jesus prayers for me, my loved ones, friends, and my enemies. Thank you God for your unspeakable gift, Jesus.


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