Total providence or total depravity? (John Cassian as a remedy for Augustinian nihilism)

In a recent post, John Meunier writes, “You cannot speak intelligently about Wesleyan theology if you discard the doctrine of Original Sin.” He shares a statement in the Book of Discipline which says, “We believe man is fallen from righteousness and, apart from the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, is destitute of holiness and inclined to evil.” I agree that we need to know we’re sinful in order to recognize our need for Christ. But is the Christian gospel really unintelligible unless we believe that every non-Christian around us is “destitute of holiness and inclined to evil”? I wanted to offer a different way to narrate this, with the help of 4th century saint John Cassian. I ultimately think a doctrine of total providence is more faithful to John Wesley’s vision than total depravity.

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Why you need to hear Jonathan Martin preach about heaven

I’ve got issues with how people talk about heaven. It bothers me that the most popular Christian books are “proofs” of the afterlife instead of accounts of how people have lived out the kingdom of God here on Earth. Last week, part of my sermon text came from a passage in Hebrews 11 that refers to the hope of the Israelite patriarchs: “All of these died in faith without having received the promises… They desired a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.” It is one thing to live in the hope of a promise that will not be fulfilled in your lifetime; it is another thing to live in a nihilistic indifference to God’s beautiful creation because you’re ready for Him to burn it up and rapture you away. The way that my favorite podcast preacher Jonathan Martin put it in his sermon last week is that we don’t need to get ready to leave Earth and go to heaven; we need to be ready for the day that God brings heaven to Earth.

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Everything I have belongs to You (a song)

This is the first song that I’ve written in two years. It’s basically about stewardship of our wealth and witness as well an attempt to cling to the beauty of Christ in spite of the ugliness of the body of Christ in America right now. I pushed too much with my voice so it’s nasally but I had to record it on the third run-through that I did because my sons had to go to bed. Chords and lyrics are below. And for those who think the word “hate” shouldn’t appear in a praise song, see Psalm 139:21-22, but don’t google it because then you’ll find a bunch of misappropriations of scripture that are the object of the hatred I describe in my song, which isn’t against a person but against the kind of disrespect for Jesus’ name that occurs when a psalm is proof-texted in order to make a case for actually hating people instead of “love the sinner and hate the sin” (which was what Gandhi said, not the Bible, etc). Amazing what some so-called Christians have become, isn’t it? The psalmist brings his hatred to God in order to have it healed and converted into love. I hate any dishonor shown to God and most of all that shown by His people because I love God and I love His people. Continue reading

Why God-reliance and self-reliance are utterly incompatible

I know that I got under some people’s skin for beefing with Dave Ramsey on Red Letter Christians. I’ve never been in debt. If I had and some guy’s videos helped me out of it, I would be hurt if some random cocky young blogger was hating on my hero. So I wanted to try to explain where I’m coming from and why I felt compelled to speak out. Continue reading