Most Ameriicans Think You Get to Vote On If Christ’s Death Works For You–tms–cthomastq–b-a20181225-20181225-column.html

Cal Thomas, in his column for Christmas 2018, claims that his readers are free to accept or reject the claim of the gospel, but not free to “reinvent” the gospel. “To change the message to fit your beliefs and
choices” The column presumes that Cal Thomas himself has a true definition of the gospel. But the reality is that Cal Thomas has a
false gospel, which is not a version of the true gospel, but bad news which has no hope for anybody.

Here is the Cal Thomas version—“Like a gift under the tree, the transaction is not complete until the one for whom the gift isintended receives it. If anyone refuses a gift, the transaction is incomplete, its purpose thwarted.

This is a version of the gospel quite different from the original “on whom God favors”. It is “another gospel”, which is not the gospel. Instead of being about Christ’s deathfor the sins of those of God’s good pleasure, the faals gospel of Cal Thomas changes the theology into something about human good pleausre, something about “peace tothose who use their free will correctly”

The Thomas perversion of the gospel is not about us depending on God, but about God depending on us to complete God’s purpose and mission. According to Thomas, the death of Jesus can and does fail because what Christ did now all depends on our choices

On the one hand, Thomas seems to disapprove of a “world in which humans choose to live as they please, rather than be transformed.”. On the other hand, Thomas teaches a false gospel in which even the success of Christ’s incarnation and death depends on how “humans choose to live”. Where the Bible teaches that we sinners are unable to live right or choose right, and need God to transform us and change our wills, Thomas agrees with the world that we are aallowed to “choose what weplease”. The false god Thomas worships is not permitted to change our decisions but intead merely leaves us with “the consequences of unbelief”.

Thomas has no idea of us having being born in original sin, in guilt and shame before God and unable to make right decisions.Thomas seems not to want us to be atheists and depend only on ourselves (we need big armines), but Thomas also only wants an idol god who will gives us rules and decisions so that the outcome depends on us . For Thomas, the only sin that matters is “unbelief of the good news”. For Thomas, either other sins never matter or all those other sins have been provided for, but the bad news is that Thomas does not believe that God interferes with “belief or unbelief”

According to Thomas, Christ may have entered the world without our consent, but nevertheless that means nothing unless we ourselves vote Jesus into our own hearts, and for that “transaction”, Jesus does not
have his permission to “enter into our hearts” unless first our hearts (which presumably need to be transformed) “let Jesus in”.

This is not only a hopeless message but also a false message, one in which Thomas has substituted his own worldly American ideas about how God must deal with humans.

Luke 2: 13: “Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest
heaven, and peace on earth to people God favors

John 10:14 “I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me,15 as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep.

Ephesians 1:5 God predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, 6 to the praise of His glorious grace that God favored us with in the Beloved.

Romans 9: 22 And what if God, desiring to display His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience objects of wrath ready for destruction?

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4 Comments on “Most Ameriicans Think You Get to Vote On If Christ’s Death Works For You”

  1. Mark Mcculley Says:–tms–cthomastq–b-a20181225-20181225-column.html

    Cal Thomas: The prophecy delivered by the Christmas Child that there would be “wars and rumors of wars” until He comes again, seems more like current events than a far-off future. One hears a lot of silliness from theological illiterates and institutions whose sole interest in Christmas appears to be profit.
    Consider the conspicuous consumption associated with “Black Friday,” a day that began for some businesses days earlier.

    People speak of “the spirit of Christmas,” or when observing some
    special act with which they approve or seek to inspire, refer to “the
    true meaning of Christmas.” They are never asked what they mean by either.

    The true meaning of Christmas is this: God took on the form of a huma to die in our place, paying for our sins, so that humans who receive Him might be forgiven and be with Him forever.

    You are free to reject that message and the One who delivered it, but
    what you are not free to do is to redefine or change the message into
    something that fits your own beliefs and choices.

    In “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” (part of his classic “The
    Chronicles of Narnia” series), C.S. Lewis writes of a frozen land
    ruled by a “White Witch,” devoid of hope. In that world, it is “always
    winter, but never Christmas.”

    It is a metaphor for a world that has rejected God and His redemptive
    power. It is a world where humans choose to live as they please,
    rather than be transformed, even renewed. It is this world in which we now live, full of mendacity, envy, greed, lust, anger, terrorism, war, political divisions and confusion. We have forgotten who we are,
    because we have forgotten Whose we are. It is these and so many other human deficiencies the Christ child came to reset.

    Like a gift under a tree, however, the transaction is not complete
    until the one for whom the gift is intended receives it. If anyone
    refuses a gift, the transaction is incomplete, its purpose thwarted.
    Does it matter that so many reject Him? Look around and consider the result. While some point to the occasional violence mistakenly done in His name to “prove” God does not exist, there are far more examples of good, such as charities, hospitals and inner-city missions that help the poor and homeless.

    If the bad disproves God, what does the good prove? These good acts rooted in faith are motivated not by selfishness, but
    selflessness, the kind of selflessness demonstrated by the One who
    left perfection and emptied Himself, taking on the form of a servant,
    to come to a fallen world and save us from the consequences of
    unbelief. Isn’t that message worth celebrating? Isn’t that child worth
    worshipping? Isn’t that Man worth receiving?

    As the carol says, “Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear
    Christ enters in.”

  2. markmcculley Says:

    It is almost always the case that I disagree with CS lewis. This particular essay is very often quoted against any form of “pacifism”

    I certainly do not think that those who get paid for the nation-state should take it as their vocation to repay strictly according to their law and then justify their lack of mercy as the legitimate wrath of God. God’s sovereignty in the election of some sinners to be saved is not only for God’s own good but also for the good of these sinners.

    “Luther’s rebelliousness was, however, paradoxically joined to an opposition to real-world change. While rousing the masses, he refused to endorse measures that would concretely address their needs. This combination of incitement and passivity is apparent in contemporary American evangelicalism, with both its ceaseless agitation against the centers of power and its shunning of any real program to address the underlying sources of resentment and dissatisfaction. In accord with Luther’s doctrine of the two kingdoms, many evangelicals see the proper role of the government to be imposing order, not showing mercy.

    Donald Trump has followed this approach. On the one hand, he has played on the conviction of evangelicals that they are an oppressed minority who have been prevented from practicing their religion as they see fit. He has vigorously defended the right of the faithful to say “Merry Christmas,” of pastors to speak freely in their pulpits, of church-run hospitals and health-care organizations to refuse to offer contraceptives. He has also appointed judges committed to those principles. At the same time, Trump has carefully avoided taking on the powerful financiers and magnates who have helped to create the economic system that has inflicted such hardship on his base. Trump’s insults, invective, and mocking tweets against enemies real and perceived seem a long way from the Sermon on the Mount,

    Of course C S Lewis did not have this “retribution” view of “hell”. Lewis not only taught purgatory but also (in The Great Divorce) taught that “hell” is not divine punishment so much as divine provision—of freewill for those who would not want to live in heaven or worshio God.

    • markmcculley Says:

      Hauerwas: People read Romans 13 and don’t read Romans 12. Paul would have thought that the emperor should also forgive his enemies and so I think that chapter division is just a disaster. “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars, unto God the things that are of God.” I treat that in the new commentary that has just been published on the gospel of Matthew and I think it’s pretty clear that that wasn’t saying, “Oh, well Caesar gets to do what Caesar does.” I mean you know when Jesus says let me see the coin, the very fact that the people that had asked him the question handed him the coin already indicated that they were complicit with Rome in a way that was incompatible with being Jewish. So I think that the assumption that, oh well Caesar is Caesar and the church is church and we can get along, well you know Caesar wants it all and I think the idea that we got that straightened out by separation of church and state is just crazy.

  3. markmcculley Says:

    Lewis believed that we rightly think the idea of decent behaviour is obvious to everyone. That does not mean that there are not differences between moralities but that such differences have never amounted to anything like a total difference. Lewis will, therefore, base his case against pacifism on the natural law grounds he thinks enshrined in the common conscience of our humanity. He is quite clear that all three elements of reason are also found in the conscience, but the difference is that inarguable intuitions of the conscience are much more likely to be corrupted by the passions in matters of good and evil than when considering questions of truth and falsehood. That is why authority is so important for checking and superseding our grasp of the facts. Our judgments as to right and wrong are a mixture of inarguable intuitions and arguable processes of reasoning or submission to authority. Accordingly nothing is to be treated as an intuition unless it is such that no good man has ever dreamed of doubting it.

    Lewis thus rules out any presumption by a pacifist that their disavowal of killing can be based on an intuition that taking life is always wrong. A person may think they should not kill by appealing to an authority, but not to an intuition. The former are open to argument but the latter are not. A pacifist who would base his or her position on such an intuition is simply someone who has excommunicated themselves from the human race. Lewis does not think, however, that most pacifists base their position on such an intuitive ground. He, therefore, begins systematically to characterize and then critique the arguments he understands pacifists to make. He begins by observing that all agree that war is very disagreeable, but pacifists seem to hold the view that wars do more harm than good. Lewis argues such a view is speculative, making it impossible to know what might count as evidence for such a conclusion.

    Lewis happily concedes that rulers often promise more than they should but that is no argument that no good comes from war. In fact Lewis asserts that history is full of useful wars as well as useless wars. The pacifist case, moreover, seems to be committed to the idea that we can do good to and for some without harming others. But what Lewis calls, “the law of beneficence,” means that we must do good to some men, at some times making it impossible to avoid helping some in preference to others.

    So rests Lewis case against pacifism. He ends his case against pacifism by acknowledging that moral decisions do not admit of certainty, so pacifism may be right. But he concludes:

    “it seems to me very long odds, longer odds than I would care to take with the voice of almost all humanity against me.”

    As far as one can tell from his text, he seems to think pacifism can be equated with a general disavowal of war. Pacifism is, of course, a stance against war, but it makes all the difference how that stance is shaped by more constitutive practices. Lewis seems to have assumed that pacifism is rightly identified with liberal forms of pacifism, that is, the view that war is so horrible it has got to be wrong. Liberal pacifists often, as Lewis’s critique presupposes, thought war must be some kind of mistake or the result of a conspiracy, because no right thinking human being can believe war to be a “good thing.” Such a view may seem naive but it was a very common position held by many after World War I. Lewis, therefore, had a far too easy target for his critique of pacifism.

    Accordingly, Jesus’s authority is not expressed only in his teachings or his spiritual depth, but in “the way he went about representing a new moral option in Palestine, at the cost of his death.” Christians are nonviolent not, therefore, because we believe that nonviolence is a strategy to rid the world of war, but because nonviolence is constitutive of what it means to be a disciple to Jesus.

    To be sure, such an account of nonviolence draws on an eschatological understanding of the relation of the church to the world, an account that is foreign to Lewis’s theology. Lewis, as is clear from his appeal to common sense, assumes a strong identification between what it means to be a Christian and what it means to be a human being.

    Throughout his work Lewis emphasized the difference being a Christian makes for what it means to believe in God, but how he understood that difference did not shape his thinking about war. I think he failed to draw out the implications of his theological convictions for war because of his conviction that a natural law ethic was sufficient to account for how we should think about war.

    Lewis’s flatfooted interpretation of “resist not evil” nicely illustrates his inability to recognize the difference Christ makes for the transformation of our “reason.” He dismisses any accounts of how to read the passage that might be constructed through historical criticism, because he has learned as a scholar of literature that such methods are no way to read a text. But Lewis’s suggestion that those hearing Jesus’s words were “private people in a disarmed nation” and, therefore, would have not thought “Our Lord to be referring to war” is as nice an example as one could wish for the kind of speculative reading sometimes associated with historical criticism.

    Lewis’s account of practical reason in “Why I am not a Pacifist” drew on his general view that “prudence means practical common sense, taking the trouble to think out what you are doing and what is likely to come of it.” The problem is not in his account of the three elements of reason, but rather in his failure to see how reason and conscience must be transformed by the virtues. Such a view seems odd given his claim that though every moral judgment involves facts, intuitions, and reasoning, regard for authority commensurate with the virtue of humility is also required. That seems exactly right, but then I cannot help but wonder why Lewis does not include the lives of the martyrs as authorities for the shaping of Christian practical reason.

    In “Learning in War-Time,” Lewis observes that before he became a Christian he did not realize his life after conversion would consist in doing most of the same things he had done prior to his conversion. He notes that he hopes he is doing the same things in a new spirit, but they are still the same things. There is wisdom in what he says because we rightly believe that what it means to be a Christian is what God has created all to be. Therefore there is some continuity between the natural moral virtues and the theological virtues, but Lewis is wrong to think what he is doing is “the same thing.” It cannot be the same thing because what he “does” is part of a different narrative.

    Pacifists, at least pacifists shaped by Christological convictions, can agree with most of the arguments Lewis makes in “Why I am not a Pacifist.” We have no stake in arguments that try to ground pacifism on an immediate intuition that the killing of a human being is an absolute evil. We believe, however, that we were not created to kill, so we will not be surprised that those who do not count themselves Christians may also think it rational to be a pacifist. But Christian pacifism does not appeal to such intuitions for its justification. Nor is Christian pacifism grounded in claims about the “disagreeable” character of war. Any serious moral conviction may entail quite disagreeable consequences. So Lewis is quite right that we simply cannot know whether wars do more harm than good.

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