Monday, February 16, 2009

What's old is new

At his really interesting new blog, Kevin DeYoung argues that what seems exciting and new in the Church is sometimes very, very old, and very wrong:
There is a New Mood in evangelicalism. The New Mood can be found in emergent writers like Brian McLaren who speak mockingly about the wrath of God and dismissively about the reality of eternal punishment. The New Mood can be found in Christian academics who marginalize, or even deny, the concept of penal substitution. The New Mood can be found in megachurch pastors who argue that the essence of Christianity is that Jesus "shows us the best way to live." The New Mood can be found in bestsellers like The Shack with its claims that "The Bible doesn't teach you to follow rules" (197), God doesn't need to punish sin (120), and the biblical portrayal of God's justice is caricatured as an blood-thirsty God who runs around killing people all the time (119).

The New Mood is squeamish about hell and uncomfortable with God's wrath. The New Mood envisions a Christianity where the attribute of God's love eclipses all other attributes, especially God's justice and power. The New Mood tells the Christian story not first of all (or at all) as good news about a Substitute who saves us from the wrath of God, but as a message which means to inspire us to live a life of sacrifice and shalom.
DeYoung goes on to describe the teaching of the 2nd century heretic, Marcion, including this summary of Marcion's theological errors:
Marcion's theological errors (and there were many) came from one main root. He refused to believe that the God of the Old Testament was the same as the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. Marcion could simply not believe in a God full of wrath and justice. So he threw away the Old Testament and took for his Bible a truncated version of Luke's Gospel and selectively edited versions of Paul's epistles. When all the cutting and pasting was finished, Marcion had the Christianity he wanted: a God of goodness and nothing else; a message of inspiring moral uplift; a Bible that does away with the uncomfortable bits about God's wrath and hell. Marcionism was anitnomian, idealistic about human potential, and skittish about dogma and rules.
DeYoung concludes:
The idea of recasting Christianity for a new day—in softer, gentler hues, more focused on the life of Jesus instead of the death of Jesus—sounds familiar, does it not? Listen to some of the country's most popular preachers, or to some of the loudest voices in the emergent conversation, or to some of the bestselling Christian books and you will find that Marcionism is alive and well. [more]
DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed

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