Tuesday, May 11, 2004

The list of stuff you shouldn’t do...
I think one of the concerns when we’re discussing the exclusivity of Christianity, is that without a belief in a one, true God, we lose absolute moral authority. The Christians will have their God, Muslims theirs, etc. etc. etc. I’m not sure how much that really matters, practically and theologically. Practically, Christianity has flourished for 2000 years in a world where a large portion of the population doesn’t acknowledge the Christian God as sovereign. Theologically, I’m not sure it matters that much either.

When we talk about moral absolutes, I get the feeling that what people want is a list of stuff they shouldn’t do. And if they do the stuff they shouldn’t do, they want to know what the consequences are. I think part of the fear is that if we acknowledge that there aren’t moral absolutes (meaning lists of stuff you shouldn’t do) then people will say, "to hell with Christianity, I’m going to fornicate, curse, drink, and dance myself to death." In all seriousness, the fear is that Christianity will lose its moral authority if it can’t say, "our rules are the only way." But I would ask, is the transformational power of God’s grace found in scaring people into obeying a moral code, or people choosing of their own volition to follow Christ?

It seems to me that the message of moral absolutism is this: the world is a fallen, sinful place. Christ is the answer, but the fallen and sinful cannot see it because of their sin. Only by showing them the specific details of their sin, can we lead them to Christ. Thus we need a list of stuff you shouldn’t do that is backed the absolute moral authority of God.

But what about a view of the world that looks like this: the world is full of sin and sinners, but it is also a hopeful place. By sharing the knowledge of God’s unconditional acceptance and the power of Christ to transform our lives, we can advance God’s kingdom on earth. Grace can transform the world and through grace we will no longer focus on the list of stuff we shouldn’t do and instead deepen our relationship with God through study, worship, prayer and mission. As Christians, in our personal and communal relationship with God we will strive to lead faithful lives, but knowing that we will often miss the target. But we will rejoice in our creation and God’s love for us as evidenced by God’s grace!



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