Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Fascination with the Miraculous/Moralistic

In his article, "Fascinations that Lead Away From the Cross..", Michael Horton discusses three things that he sees as potentially distracting us from the clear and simple message of the Cross.

The three things he covers are:

1. Fascination with the miraculous
2. Fascination with the moralistic
3. Fascination with the mysterious

This got me thinking, what is of greater importance to me: The simple (and seemingly foolish) message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, or the more socially acceptable and attractive things, such as: miracles, good morals, and mysteries? It seems that much of Modern Christianity is hyping the later category for all it is worth and ignoring the former one. Moralism and a hunger for miracles may "charge us up" and leave us with that fuzzy feeling, but focusing on them leaves us with a shakey foundation for our faith. While miracles, morals, and mysteries all are part of Christianity, ultimately the Cross needs to be the focal point of our faith as Christians.

What follows are a few short exerpts from the first two points that I found very true and helpful.

(on the miraculous)

"As in our Lord's day, few today who seek miracles are interested in that to which signs point. 'A wicked generation seeks for signs,' Jesus said, followed by Paul's reminder that his fellow Jews were so busy looking for miraculous wonders that they stumbled over the Gospel of Christ crucified. Seeking direct experiences with God without the mediation of Scripture, preaching, and sacraments..we trip over the weakness of the cross....Satan had offered Jesus a crown without a cross, so even Jesus' own brothers, impressed with his success as a miracle-worker, anxiously offered a tour of the major cities. Similarly, James and John wanted to call down fire on their enemies, and their mother came to Jesus to ask him to allow her sons to sit on his left and right hand in his kingdom. Everyone was planning for glory, but Jesus was planning for the cross. Triumphalism ignores the cross, and when the hour of trial (sin, failure, loss of popularity, shame, and abuse) comes, we, like the disciples, flee for cover instead of sharing in Christ's suffering."

(on the moralistic)

"Sadly, [many Christians] tend to read (and preach) the Bible moralistically: that is, either as positive tips for better living or as scolding for not being what one should be. Thus, the key biblical characters become heroes to imitate rather than figures in a redemptive-historical plot centering around Jesus Christ. Jesus told the Pharisees that in spite of their ostensive devotion to the Scriptures, they did not really understand what they were reading, since he (Jesus) is the point of all of Scripture.....The preoccupation with moralism finds the preaching of the cross 'foolishness'......When sin and grace are replaced with therapeutic, ethical, political, and pragmatic concerns, it is a sure sign that we too have stumbled over the Rock of offense."



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