theological jargon, the South Hamilton Institute of Theology and banal conclusions born of bowel movements
for those of you who haven't noticed, it is now november and i am well into my sixth year at the South Hamilton Institute of Theology.
i am currently taking a class on the life of jesus with dr. colin nichol and, since it is a 500 level class, i often find myself quite bored with it (though i am thankful that this life of Christ class does not require me to utilize my mad coloring skills).
anyway, at some point in every single class dr. nichol is somehow loosed from the fetters of his outline and really starts to preach. this past week he preached on the economic demands of discipleship that are highlighted in the gospel of Luke. that lead to a good bit of discussion that i am too tired to recount here.
the week before that, nichol started preaching about the gospel. in the midst of his sermon he commended evangelicalism for emphasizing the substitutionary atonement (read: efficacious sacrifice, Christ's death for our sins, etc.) of Christ, but he bewailed the fact that we have often ignored Christ's call to obedience. a full orbed understanding of the gospel, nichol argued, must emphasize the grace that is offered upon the cross and the life of obedience that is demanded of those who follow in the way of the cross. to ignore either of these emphases in our preaching and teaching, he suggested, is to leave the church with an anemic gospel.
in the midst of nichol's homiletical moment, i was engaged enough to ask him, "if we (evangelicals) have traditionally overemphasized substitutionary atonement and disregarded Christ's call to obedience, isn't it reasonable to assume that we have misunderstood the gospel?" after a brief pause, dr. nichol answered in the affirmative.
this is the point at which i am supposed to revel in my cleverness and disembody my straw man of evangelical orthodoxy. but i think we'll both be better off if we let this point pass.
what i would like to say is this: if obedience to the demands of Jesus (the god-man who called us to "be perfect as his heavenly father is perfect," embrace a righteousness that "exceeds that of the pharisees and sadducees," and "lose your life so that you can save us") plays a bigger part in my salvation/reconciliation/renewal than i originally thought, then i have some serious work to do.
obedience hasn't traditionally been my cup of tazo, but as i think more often and a bit more deeply about it, i think i'll find a way forward. here's what i'm thinking at present: if salvation/reconciliation is the result of God's grace, and the purpose of such work is to lead me into the eternal quality of life, then obedience is simply living in rhythm with this quality of life instead of unraveling in the despair, monotony and unoriginality of death. if i put it that way, it doesn't sound so bad.
in short, if i'm really going to receive the reconciliation that God has offered and be the reconciler that he intended, then i need to be a more obedient disciple. i'm starting to think that obedience isn't such a bad thing. of course, that thought as well as this untidy, rushed conclusion might be the result of the bowel movement that is about to begin. now, if you'll excuse me...