Monday, April 16, 2012

Rebuttal to Andrew Sullivan: "Don't Follow Jesus – Let Him Live in You"

I cannot believe that a “respected” columnist would conclude that former President Thomas Jefferson distilled the best out of Christianity. That deist distorted the Word of God, removing all the miracles and whatever did not accord with his limited intellect, with his fallen reason.
Jefferson represents the cult of Rationalism, which has disputed anything that cannot be proven to a man’s mind. Yet the heart of man, that is the wickedness that corrupts everything that he does.
Sullivan, like many secular thinkers, concludes that Jesus as teacher is sufficient. Yet His teachings will produce nothing but despair if man attempts to live them out literally. Jesus’ teachings mean nothing without the Cross, without His resurrection, the first born from the dead.
We do not need rules, we need life. We need resurrection power, and for the vast majority of humanity, which has attempted to stir up life and meaning on one’s own, there can only be disappointment, disapproval, and death if they try to find or mine for life their own way.
“A Christian cannot find salvation by fighting political battles, winning a few news cycles, or funding an anti-abortion super-PAC” –point of fact, no one can find salvation – salvation must be received by grace through faith – we do not take it, we receive it! This process is an offense to man, though, who insists on power and efficacy on his own, his empty intellect convincing time and again that if he tried hard enough, he can have whatever he wants.
Certainly, organized religion is in decline, because men and women have never been more literate, have never had such unprecedented access to the Word of God. We no longer have to attend seminaries in order to receive an adequate schooling in the Bible. We can go on line, find the scriptures in the original languages along with several competent translations in our own vernacular.
“Learning How to Live” is one if the most misinformed of all titles in Sullivan’s piece. We do not learn how to live, we receive the Life of Christ in us, and He leads out of us His life! No better example explains this than the dysfunctional and fanatical life of Saint Francis of Assisi. He sought the company of the down-trodden for himself – he wanted to feel better. Human beings in their sufferings are not crutches for our problems. Jesus can to heal the sick, not just to tend to their symptoms. He came to make us whole and holy, not just fill the hole in our empty lives. Good works are the fruit, not the root, or righteousness; Francis never learned that. His piety and impious behavior all demonstrate the curse of the law on a man. “Spiritual intensity”does not describe a man who choose to live in poverty, to beg for food – Did not Francis read “My God will supply all of your need according to His riches in glory?”
In man’s vain attempt to imitate Christ, he simply gratifies his flesh. Paul railed against such arrogant, voluntary humility with the Colossians:

"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

"For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." (Colossians 2: 8-9)

And later

"Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

"And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God." (Colossians 2: 18-19)
Francis’ extreme repudiation of wealth and comfort was legalistic to the extreme, an offense which brought him more tarnished glory than His Savior. Such legalism led the Italian religious dilettante to harass a brother who had offered him a pillow for his rest, or other outrageous orders, like a man must walk or right a donkey, never a horse. This man would have given the Pharisees, the hated religious leaders of Jesus’ day, a run for their money. Francis typifies everything wrong with man of the churches in our day, who have demoted Jesus to holy Example instead of Savior, God who wants to live and thrive within us and live out His life through us. This is the true act of humility, one which makes nothing of us, and everything of our Lord and Savior reigning and working in us.
Christianity does not need to be resurrected. The proper authority, the centrality of Christ and His Finished Work, must be restored – the Cross, the ultimate sacrifice made by God the Father by sending His Son to die for us, and by His death, resurrection, and ascension at the right hand of the Father, He releases to the world the gift of the Holy Spirit. By this Holy Spirit, indwelling in every believer, Christ can live in every one of us. These are matters of faith and fidelity to the Word of God, not our reason, certainly not the cult of Rationalism.
Jesus preached a full adherence to the law in order to bring man to the end of himself. It is impossible for anyone of us to live up or to live out the standards which Jesus preached. Instead, he offered that every person who had ears to hear would repent – change their minds – and receive the gospel, that their sins were forgiven and that Christ would now live and be one with each person who believes on His name.

Mr. Sullivan, please consider these points in light of the article which you wrote. The teachings of Jesus are nothing without respecting and revering His Final Work, His Active and Passive Obedience, at the Cross!

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