Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Good Stuff Coming From Richard Beck

I am very excited about an upcoming series that Richard Beck is going to write about the sermons of George McDonald. In today's introduction he articulated something that had been gnawing at me for years. It all comes down to: What is salvation?

He writes (emphasis mine):

Why did these novels from the dustbin of literary history so affect me? Two reasons. First was MacDonald's view of sin and grace and the refining and inescapable love of God. Many of MacDonald's protagonists make horrible mistakes. And their salvation is this slow journey though the purifying love of God. Sin is "forgiven" in MacDonald's novels when the character embraces the harsh consequences of sin and moves through that painful fire. Salvation isn't a simple "forgiveness," avoiding God's consequences for sin. In fact, the worst thing possible, the real hell, is NOT suffering the consequences sin. Salvation, in short, is about character formation. And this formation must, absolutely must, involve removing sin from our hearts and minds. God, I learned from MacDonald, wants us to be clean. Not pseudo-clean, not bait and switch clean, not imputed righteousness clean, not "God sees Jesus and not me" clean, but really, truly clean. You and I, finally, coming into the love of God and becoming the people we were created to be. And you have to go through the purifying fires of hell to get there. God wants to save us from sin. Not the consequences of sin.

I am in complete agreement with Beck here, and my acceptance of this view caused my theology to become upended. The whole concept of "imputed righteousness", I believe, has developed a warped and atrophic effect within the ethical standards of much of Christianity. I have written on this topic before, but it is this point of theology that allows many Christians to bask in superiority while behaving in inferior ways.


Don said...

Andrew, I am excited about RB's harvesting of quotes. I own the book and love it, although I marvel at how long and complex the sermons are, and mostly without complex prooftexting, just reason and a clear revelation of the love of God in Christ.

Kay said...

I just bought "At the Back of the North Wind" and am about half way through it. I cheated and read Beck's recent post as to what the book is about (which I didn't know when I bought it) and that "spoiler" has only made me more excited to finish it.

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