Friday, January 19, 2007

Cross-less Christianity

If you haven't been to The Shepherds Scrapbook you should really take the time to visit, Tony Reinke is a dear brother who has a vast knowledge of great Christian literature and a heart to share the Gospel message revealed in them. One of his latest recommendations is a book by WM. P. Farley titled "Outrageous Mercy" which is now out of print (thanks Tony, I picked it up for $5.00), In the opening chapter I find it to be very insightful and humbling because of it's cross-centered message and why the cross is the central message that should be embeded into our thoughts and affections to the point that a deep sense of spiritual poverty overwhelmes our everday life to the result of deep humility, vs a contrast of a cross-less message which can only produce pride.

"The presence or absence of cross-centeredness impacts behavior. Christianity that is not cross-centered will be sympathy without decisiveness, kindness without justice, charm without backbone, and sentimentality without action.

Christianity then becomes a religion for the deserving but not for sinners, a message for the upper-class but not for the lower-class. Without the cross, justification by faith alone degenerates into moralism, and God's holy wrath morphs into tolerance for the well-intentioned. A cross-less Christianity tames the terrible God enthroned between the cherubim before whom the nations tremble. God becomes love, but nothing else. In short, when the message of the cross is removed from the center of Christianity, Christianity removes itself from the center of our thoughts and devotions. A bushel basket is placed over the lamp. It is that simple.

Most importantly, cross-centered Christians grow progressively humble. I fellowship with one church that preaches the cross. The sing it, they preach it, they read about it, and they exult in it. Therefore, they feel deeply their sinfulness and unworthiness. Humility is their outstanding quality.

Another church in my area believes in the cross, but transforming the culture is their central focus. They write about culture, sing about it, and discuss it constantly, By contrast, their outstanding quality is pride. They look down on other Christians. The are contentious and lack grace."

Excerpt taken from WM. P. Farley, Outrageous Mercy: Rediscover the Radical Nature of Christianity (Baker: Grand Rapids, MI) 2004. Page 19-20.

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