Saturday, September 08, 2007

BAD THEOLOGY 101

I got the following e-mail of pictures forwarded onto me from a well intentioned member of our church. I think they meant to encourage me. Instead it highly annoyed me. It's just plain bad theology.

History lesson #1 on the comic strip like thing to follow: The image of laying down a cross over a gap of sin comes from the infamous 4 spiritual laws tract booklet which has been used all around the world. The booklet more or less says that once someone confesses their sins and invites Jesus into their life and accepts his blood as penalty for their sin, then a cross laid down across the gap (or bottomless chasm) created by sin is walkable from us to God. In the picture. God is on one side. We are on the other. And evidently the cross bridges the sin gap.

History lesson #2. At one point, the Bible records Jesus telling a crowd and the 12 disciples, after he just rebuked Peter for claiming that Jesus does not have to suffer or die, that this is not true and in fact one must "take up the cross, deny themselves, and follow Jesus" if they too are to live as Jesus does. This is recorded in all 3 synoptic gospels: Matt 16:24, Mark 8:34, and Luke 9:23.

Bad Theology Merger Below: In the following pictures, what evidently is supposed to be cute and convicting... is just a bad merging of the above two ideas. It claims that if you sweat and endure pain and carry a big enough load on earth, then your sacrifice or cross you bear for God will be big enough to get you over the gaps of sin. However, this means my redemption is about my work, not about the work of Jesus. And this is true heresy. Hebrews 9:27-28 is one verse that comes to mind. I believe that my salvation is not a one-and-done prayer type deal. However I don't think that means I earn it or my inability to carry less of a load means I'm somehow not going to make it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 comes to mind here. And I really really really really HATE the comparison image of others doing enough to get them across while one guy who didn't work as hard is gonna be left with a cross to bear that was too small. This is bunk. Here's a post that quotes Scot McKnight pretty much says the same thing in his new book, "A community called atonement". It's not about us or others, it's all about Jesus!!














3 comments:

BradnAlisha 10:55 PM  

So I read through the cartoon first, and then I read your commentary so I would form my own opinion. At first glance, I just assumed that cutting the cross was a metaphor for "picking and choosing" the bible into something less than God intended. But after reading your thoughts, I think your synopsis might reflect the artists intent more accurately - which I agree is ridiculous. ...I hope this misinterpretation on my part doesn't 'shorten' my cross!

Jackson 8:11 PM  

Wow...what a gross misunderstanding of the gospel. Yikes.

Jackson 3:15 PM  

My name is also Jackson, and the comment by the other Jackson was so in-line with my own reaction to the BAD THEOLOGY that I actually tried to remember whether I had posted that comment myself. The notion that you can do the work yourself is not only not true, it's also a recipe for frustration.

Anyway, that comic is kind of sad, but really great as a comic.

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