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The Gonzo Journalism of Grace
by gonzodave coulon
4/08/2008 / Christian Living
"So, now, whenever anybody says to me, "Your view of the atonement, you know, is very old-fashioned, the doctrine of substitution is quite out of date;" I am not at all shaken in my belief.
The gentlemen of the modern-thought school, who have been to Germany for their theology, do not like that glorious doctrine of substitution. They think that the atonement is a something or other, that in some way or other, somehow or other, has something or other to do with the salvation of men; but I tell them that their cloudy gospel might have surrounded me till my hair grew grey, but I should never have been any the better for it. I should never have found peace with God, nor come to love the Lord at all, if it had not been that I distinctly saw that he, who knew no sin, was made sin for me, that I might be made the righteousness of God in him.
When I realized that, although I had gone astray from God, and broken his righteous law, he had laid on Christ my iniquity, and punished him in my stead, my soul found rest at once; and, to this day, it cannot rest under any other explanation of the atonement of Christ. So I bear my own personal witness, and many of you can heartily join with me in bearing similar testimony. You have been with Christ, so you can speak of the power of his substitutionary sacrifice as begetting peace in your soul."
Charles H. Spurgeon
"Objective journalism is one of the main reasons American politics has been allowed to be so corrupt for so long. You can't be objective about Nixon."
Hunter S. Thompson
There is no OLD SCHOOL - there is only ONE SCHOOL - which teaches that only two kinds of Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, et. al. exist within any so-called denomination today. Those who trust completely in the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ for continued salvation and those who trust in themselves - just like the rest of the world (e.g., no palengenesis; no regeneration; new birth from death to life).
It is impossible to be objective about one's own salvation. Objective Christianity is the reason for the latitude that allows for the corrupted message that proudly teaches a loss of salvation for those who are not "good enough" to be accepted by God. The objective is to defend and proclaim God's free grace secured in the blood of Christ Jesus for sinners.
(Essay from an unpublished manuscript. About 2800 words)
THE HISTORICAL AND POLITICAL PREMISE OF AMERICAN CHRISTIANITY
What has been gained by the enthusiastic focus on the Christian family, concerning matters that are psychological, behavioral, and legal, when all the while, inside the church there is no difference in the rate of divorce and unwed or unwanted pregnancies? Divorce, pregnancy, and abortion may be said to be completely voluntary in more than 99 of 100 incidents. Also, there is an extreme overemphasis by many so-called Christian organizations against secular attacks upon Christianity. The presumption being that current legal activities to defend religious freedoms maintain the greater democratic freedoms that were founded by men who believed in Jesus Christ for salvation. Keeping in mind the just previous section of HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL FACTS, is this assertion accurate?
In 21st century American society it is rather difficult to distinguish Christianity from the historical beginnings of political thought that began in the post-Reformation and Protestant led English Civil War which continued in the humanism of the politics that were championed in the "Age of Reason/Enlightenment." Christianity has been joined to political thought and used by atheist and deist (e.g., Freemasonry 1) to extend their influence and control. The great contributors to American political thought, John Locke and Thomas Paine, were English Deists and certainly not Christians. John Hancock, for one, and others who signed the Declaration of Independence were Freemasons. Also, George Washington appears in a famous painting sporting full Freemason regalia and the famous Freemason "apron."
Beyond the era of the founding fathers, the Freemason William Taft, the US President between Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, was a professed Unitarian. Both recent Presidents named Bush are members of the freemasonry "Skull and Bones Club." Which is an ivy-league fraternity. "In God is our trust" is one line in the Star Spangled Banner. "In God We Trust" was not mandatory on all US currency until 1955. This motto was not originally a national movement. It first appeared on a few Union coins in 1864 - during the War Between the States.
Fierce individualism is a tenet of an unencumbered free economy conceived in the Enlightenment era and is not a NT Christian nor an OT Jewish ethic. Freedom and liberty from the power and penalties of sin contained in the gospel of saving grace does not translate into the "pursuit of happiness" coined by Jefferson (or "property" as originally penned by John Locke). If the OT Jews desired their non-voting theocracy under God so much, why were they constantly being defeated, enslaved, and dispersed as a result of their non-observance of the Torah?
All this is not to say that God and morality were not held in high regard in early colonial America. A little appreciated fact is that a much different "populist" Christianity existed in Colonial America than that which has dominated Protestantism since the 1850's. This dissimilarity is above and beyond any moral considerations. A sovereign grace Puritan of the 1700's is not the free will Arminian of 2008. The Christian of the "First Great Awakening" is not the Christian of the "Second Great Awakening." The distinction, once again, is not morality, or rules for living; rather, it is the doctrine of salvation (Soteriology). The vital foundation of evangelicalism. Which is "the gospel" message for the lost.
The core difference being what is believed about the value of the death of Christ for salvation. Did Christ pay the full price or not? This was the essential difference of "justification by faith" between Luther and the Roman Church in the Protestant Reformation. This difference continually returns and makes its home inside Christianity. Cults are not in view in this discussion. However, the so-called orthodox Christian salvation - in which cults share the same Soteriology of "parolee" salvation is in view.
In the blood of Christ, denominational distinctions disappear and contain no vital difference. The death of Christ is either considered the single focus, or, it is merely adapted to "rules of life," that consist of so-called biblical Christian commands for continued salvation. The two are not separate "opinions;" rather, one is false and one is true. They cannot occupy the same space. Christ did not die two separate deaths. So, then, historically, American Christianity is properly packaged and separated into apple barrels and orange crates. The distinction of probationary salvation and its traditional form of overly stressed dramatic preaching about hell-fire exists today in the vast populist presence of Arminianism that was spread throughout the early frontier America (1810-1850) by stump-jumping, turn or burn circuit riders who were farmer preachers performing for their evening meal and traveling money (viz., the non-intellectual rural nature of American "populist" Christianity).
Much of the present-day social contention over Christian freedoms would be eliminated and disappear if transferred to the common area of civil freedoms. But, only if the underlying Holy Grail of a tax-exempt status were voluntarily relinquished. "Give unto Caesar what is Caesar's" is not an anti-Christian idea, it is the plain teaching of Jesus and the NT Apostles in many verses of the Epistles. Should this occur, the ACLU would then have no privileged adversary and, thus, no socially offended underdogs that can be elevated to the status of a "specially protected citizen." Also, there would be no "cash cow" for judgment awards to fund their extortive activities.
More importantly, what kind of Christianity is being paraded through the courts of America? Does God really bless America because of the unique worthiness of today's "populist" American Christianity? The character of Christianity that threatens her enemies in the modern secular world is quite a different hazard than that which jeopardized the 1st century secular enemies of the church. Aside from His blasting condemnation of the spiritual sin of the Pharisees, Jesus did not condemn sinners for being immoral. He cleansed the temple of spiritual sin and "thieves" who were "money changers." Also, Jesus allowed demons that He had exorcised to destroy 2000 income producing pigs that were illegally owned by Jews. The villagers promptly ran Him out of town. The Apostles, who were poor as dirt themselves, took away income also. They did this by silencing a persistent slave girl who was a fortune teller and converting people to Christianity. The well-to-do owners of the demon-possessed slave girl lost their livelihood and the conversions threatened the powerful metalsmith union that produced idols and depleted the local Jewish synagogues of tithe paying Jews. (The continued practice of Judaism for acceptance before God became spiritual sin after the death of Christ.) The Ephesian believers burned 50,000 man-days (almost 200 man-years) worth of "books of magic and spells" several years after their conversion. All of the above mentioned financially injured and non-believing parties sought legal retribution. The common thread is monetary loss of income earned by "spiritual" sin against God in the form of denying Jesus Christ, not moral sin.
The epistolary NT gives explicit details to determine a false teacher by their doctrine, not their morality. The first three Gospels, with advice intended primarily for a future time, state just the opposite. The greatest "spiritual" sin committed today is by those who enjoy a fabulous life-style from preaching a false Christianity. The "poor little donkey," the teachings defended by the NT writers against the internal enemies of the early church had to contend with adversaries who bear much resemblance to today's "populist" Christianity. A popular Christianity that esteems riches and recognition to be the deserved rewards for continued faith in Jesus Christ. Should Christianity genuinely be a "health and wealth" contract only the foolish would turn it down. Since this idea is false, who are those that offer and who are they which accept such a contract? "Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by which ye are called? For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a man in vile raiment; Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of (with) evil thoughts?" (James 2:6, 7, 2, 4).
It may be said that there exists a pecking order - an order of importance and prestige held by a "populist" Christianity. A direct example between "two forms" of Christianity may be found in chapter 22 of the book of Numbers. In this chapter, a poor little servant donkey, who later actually speaks, receives a beating from the false teacher, Balaam (Heb.=destruction). As perceived by Balaam, the donkey delays the prophet in his pursuit of a reward for cursing the immoral enemies of a king named Balak (Heb.=to make empty). These enemies threaten the religious freedoms of the king and his followers. But, as we are shown in this story, Balaam is actually serving the wrong king. He serves an easy world conformity. In this scenario, Jesus, as the Angel of the Lord, appears and says to Balaam: "And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive" (Num 22:34).
In the temptation of Christ recorded in Matthew 4:3-10 there is an uncanny parallel between Balaam's donkey and Christ in the threefold sequence of physical need, self-harm, and worship. Some insightful teachers advise a new Christian to first seriously study the temptation of Christ rather than the Gospel of John. Jesus is love, yes; but what was his experience in love? and, what might the Christian expect?
THE GONZO JOURNALISM OF GRACE
Many books have been written about grace. Most are one-sided and outside-in homiletic treatments where grace is approached more by sentimentality than zealous defense. Abraham was declared righteous by God when he believed in what God said. Only one other man in the OT was declared righteous by God (other persons are named by the NT in Hebrews 11). The grandson of Aaron, Phineas, was a priest who acted in the defense of God's honor in response to the false teaching of Balaam which had seduced the Israelites. Through Abraham, the entrance into grace is typified. Through Phineas, faithful action within grace is typified. I understand these two men as demonstrating the meritless gift of grace through faith and the meritorious rewards of action because one has received the free gift of grace. Both together encompass the Christian life. This is in contradiction to behavior grounded in biblical commands and a reward of salvation for continuing faith.
Grace is the all-important theme of this work. The enemies of grace are found in the house of her friends. If there is no outrage at the parasitic nature of a false Christianity that ridicules the grace that sustains true believers; that holds the true children of God up to mockery and contempt for holding to the "law of Christ" and not the Law of Moses; that unreservedly asserts the child of God is lying about God's Word when assurance in the blood of Christ for salvation is claimed. Then where, I ask, is the love for Christ in those who will not and cannot defend the honor of Christ who died so that they could live? May it be recognized and well understood that the assumption of a higher ground of morality is the same turn of logic that is used by secular moral relativism to silence any arguments about moral standards. A Christianity based on broken legal commands that can destroy God's grace is in league with the world - certainly not Christ and the teachings of grace. This is a much more vital threat than secular atheism. The fact that the unsaved are atheist is hardly news or a threat to a properly informed Christian. The correct response of a worthy and pious mind is to recognize the tactical diversion of an extra-biblical threat from an atheistic world-view for what it is, namely: Get a grip, man, that's the mission field not the battlefield!
But, then, how may the proper battle be fought? By being a proper witness who defends God's saving grace in the presence of the mission field. By exposing "spiritual" sin and cleaning first the house of the Lord. How then may "spiritual" sin be known and proved beyond all doubt? How may the false friends be exposed for the "spiritual" crime from which they earn their livelihood? How may true believers who are zealous for the honor of Christ remove this insult to the grace of God, first from their own lives and then the stain from the honor of Christianity? The answer is simple by understanding grace. The process is not so easy. The transformation of the spiritual mind takes much Scripture and dedicated attention. Also, a guide is needed. Someone or something, who Christ has instructed and prepared for such a purpose. Someone who has been there and come back to tell others. This book is a guide that will detail that journey.
To begin to understand the position and moral high ground assumed by a false Christianity, one must first appreciate that God's offer of salvation in Christ, on the sole condition of faith, is a very straight forward proposition. However, sadly, as religious and pretentious men would have it, no straight forward proposition is preached by a "populist" Christianity. A higher moral ground than grace has been claimed. In a word a Mountain, the symbol of a kingdom. Willful ignorance is extremely hard to separate from convenient ignorance. In the OT this is dramatically illustrated: "Then said Micah, Now I know that the Lord will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest" (Judges 17:13). Concerning Micah, Dr. C. I. Scofield writes, "A striking illustration of all apostasy. With his entire departure from the revealed will of God concerning worship and priesthood, there is yet an exaltation of false priesthood. Saying, "Blessed be thou of Jehovah," Micah's mother makes an idol; and Micah expects the blessings of Jehovah because he has linked his idolatry to the ancient Levitical order." i
The Gospel record of Jesus Christ in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the first chapter of Acts has been divinely written to be historically correct. The record within the four Gospels is chronologically accurate. There exists only minor perceived exceptions which do not actually conflict; but only provide different details of different incidents at different times. Many common scenarios are contained in the first three Synoptic Gospels. This having been said, the very existence of this correct historical record invites the grossly false and insulting misconceptions that have been preached as so-called "true" doctrines of "the gospel" by false Protestants teachers for centuries. Is this to say the Bible is used against the Bible. An emphatic affirmative is the one answer. Bear in mind the corrupted religion depicted above, from the OT with Micah as the example. Does this seem terribly confusing? Confusion is not of the Lord's making; but perplexity is the stumbling stone that discourages the unsaved who are curious and entangles the believer who is immature. Lazy minds crippled by 10 second sound bytes are not able to digest the mature spiritual "meat" of God's grace contained in Scripture. No clear distinction can be made between law and grace until a knowledge of both is obtained by contrasting one to the other.
To properly separate myth and false doctrine in "populist" Christianity from the pure teachings of NT grace, and, to understand grace from the "inside-out," as opposed to a superficial "outside-in," is a formidable task. Beyond any personal doubt, this fact has been demonstrated as a result of this extended effort. Over 7000 pages of theological instruction and references, along with three Bible translations, have been scoured and gleaned to assemble the doctrines of central importance. These teachings of God's grace have been selected to produce the proofs used in this investigative report.
A correct exposition of grace needs a highly subjective and radically honest comparison to non-grace. A passionate and dedicated, highly subjective, non-fiction - a gonzo journalism of grace - was used to identify the source, not symptoms, of misleading propaganda that would diminish the reverence that the grace of God deserves. The word "propaganda" has its origin in the 1700's. It is derived from the Latin expression, Congregatio de Propaganda Fide, "Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith."
1 The earliest of the U.S. lodges, founded by authority of the Grand Lodge of England, were the First Lodge of Boston, established in 1733, and one in Philadelphia, established about the same time. By the time of the American Revolution, about 150 lodges existed in colonial America. American Freemasons today make up more than three-fourths of the total number of all members throughout the world; world membership exceeds 5 million. Microsoft Encarta 2006. 1993-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
i Old Scofield Study System, Dr. C. I. Scofield, p 308
Reference: The excellent and comprehensive historical work by E. Brooks Holifield, Theology in America
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