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What's So Amazing About What's So Amazing?


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#21 Fortigurn

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Posted 09 May 2003 - 08:22 PM

Forgiveness of Sins is not by payment of a debt

The second secret of the cross is that it is the source of the forgiveness of sins.  It is not a debt settled by due payment.  It is not a substitutionary offering whereby someone is paid a price so that others might then go free.  No, the cross is a means of forgiveness, and forgiveness is an act of grace and not of rights or earnings by the settlement of a debt. Therefore, our understanding of the redemptive work of Jesus our Lord must allow for the full expression of the love of God and His forgiveness.  The blessings of love and forgiveness flow to us through the channel of faith in the message of the Gospel of Christ and by God’s acceptance of us through Jesus.  Forgiveness comes to the believer when he personally seeks and asks for it in the way appointed by God. Forgiveness is certain: but it is not automatic. There is forgiveness with God, but it is not bestowed on men without their knowledge and co-operation.  Such a thing would be true if redemption were the erasure of a debt, or a substitutionary transaction which had totally removed the necessity for us to seek forgiveness.  The Bible approach is much simpler and much more satisfying. 

Forgiveness comes to the man who believes the Gospel, repents and is baptized in the name of Christ… (Acts 2v38; 3v19; 22v16; Rom 6v3-4, 22-23; Gal 2v20).

Bro Harry Tennant  (The Christadelphians - what they believe and preach, p.71)



#22 Fortigurn

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Posted 09 May 2003 - 08:23 PM

MISUNDERSTOOD SCRIPTURE


“When I was a child listening to the story in Sunday school, I could not understand the loops and twists in the account of Joseph's reconciliation with his brothers. One moment Joseph acted harshly, throwing his brothers in jail; the next moment he seemed overcome with sorrow, leaving the room to blubber like a drunk. He played tricks on his brothers, hiding money in their grain sacks, seizing one as a hostage, accusing another of stealing his silver cup.  For months, maybe years, these intrigues dragged on until finally Joseph could restrain himself no longer.  He summoned his brothers and dramatically forgave them. I now see that story as a realistic depiction of the unnatural act of forgiveness.  The brothers Joseph struggled to forgive were the very ones who had bullied him, had cooked up schemes to murder him, had sold him into slavery.  Because of them he had spent the best years of his youth moldering in an Egyptian dungeon.  Though he went on to triumph over adversity and though with all his heart he now wanted to forgive these brothers, he could not bring himself to that point, not yet.  The wound still hurt too much.  I view Genesis 42-45 as Joseph's way of saying, 'I think it's pretty amazing that I forgive you for the dastardly things you've done!'  When grace finally broke through to Joseph, the sound of his grief and love echoed throughout the palace.” (What’s so amazing about grace? p. 84-85)

“For the Biblical Joseph, who had borne a well-deserved grudge against his brothers, forgiveness spilled out in the form of tears and groans.”  (p. 100)



#23 Fortigurn

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Posted 09 May 2003 - 08:23 PM

Some questions:

Where is the Scriptural proof that Joseph had a “grudge” against his brothers, or has this just been assumed?

Where does it say that Joseph “struggled to forgive” his brothers?

Where does the Bible ever record evil motives or feelings Joseph may have had towards his brothers?

How Scriptural is this concept of imputing wrong motives upon a faithful Bible character without any evidence to back it up?

From this misunderstanding of Joseph’s character, false theories about God’s character are then formulated. Yancey later on goes on to say, “From the Gospel accounts, it seems forgiveness was not easy for God, either…” Also, that “the Bible portrays God going through progressive stages when He forgives, much as we humans do.” We then ask:

Is this because Joseph’s lack of forgiveness is supposed to be typical of God himself?

If this is how God supposedly struggles to forgive, then we might ask - Did Jesus have the same difficulty in forgiving others too?

Does God still find it difficult to forgive us today? Or did He only struggle to forgive people before Jesus’s sacrifice finally appeased His anger as a substitutionary sacrifice?

If all these arguments are fundamentally flawed, what do you think are the ramifications of believing what Yancey says in this book?

#24 Fortigurn

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Posted 09 May 2003 - 08:23 PM

GRACE APPLIED TO A WORLD THAT KNOWS NOT GOD

“The world thirsts for grace in ways it does not even recognise; little wonder the hymn “Amazing Grace” edged its way onto the Top Ten charts two hundred years after composition.  For a society that seems adrift, without moorings, I know of no better place to drop an anchor of faith.  Like grace notes in music, though, the state of grace proves fleeting.  The Berlin Wall falls in a night of euphoria; South African blacks queue up in long, exuberant lines to cast their first votes ever; Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shake hands in the Rose Garden - for a moment, grace descends.” (What’s so amazing about Grace? p. 13)


Some questions:

Is there any relevance in God’s sight of a song edging its way into the Top 10 charts? Is this really proof that the world does thirst for God’s grace after all?

Did the Truth of the Scriptures have anything to do with the motivation behind political events in South Africa?

Was Rabin’s handshake with Yasser Arafat motivated because of God’s grace as we know it from the Scriptures - or was this just a politically motivated event which will eventually lead the world to Armageddon?

#25 Fortigurn

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Posted 09 May 2003 - 08:23 PM

“…No one can deny the power of grace.  Who can forget the images from the Philippines, when common people knelt before fifty-ton tanks, which lurched to a halt as if colliding with an invisible shield of prayer.  The Philippines is the only Christian-majority country in Asia, and it was here that the weapons of grace overcame the weapons of tyranny….

The Cold War, says former Senator Sam Nunn, ended “not in a nuclear inferno, but in a blaze of candles in the churches of Eastern Europe.” Candlelight processions in East Germany did not show up well on the evening news, but they helped change the face of the globe… Police and soldiers with all their weapons seemed powerless against such a force.  Ultimately, on the night a similar march in East Berlin attracted one million protestors, the hated Berlin Wall came tumbling down without a shot being fired. 

A huge banner appeared across a Leipzig street: Wir danken Dir, Kirche (We thank you, church)… In 1989 alone ten nations - Poland, East Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Yugoslavia, Mongolia, the Soviet Union - comprising half a billion people experienced nonviolent revolutions.  In many of these, the Christian minority played a crucial role.  Stalin’s mocking question, “How many divisions has the Pope?” got its answer.”  (What’s so amazing about Grace? p. 134-135)



#26 Fortigurn

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Posted 09 May 2003 - 08:24 PM

Some questions:

Were God’s “weapons of grace” in the Philippines really victorious because of God’s favour upon Roman Catholicism as the dominant religion?

Is “grace” and the “invisible shield of prayer” so successful in overthrowing a tyrannical government because God supports the Roman Catholic Church and the other “Christian” religions in the Philippines?

Does Yancey have any idea about how wicked and perversely superstitious Roman Catholicism is in the Philippines, or doesn’t this really matter anyway?

Is this just another good natured “Christian” religion that “God loves anyhow” or is it the most evil system spoken of in the Bible, called Babylon the Great in Revelation 17?

Is it possible that Yancey’s idea of “Christianity” and “weapons of grace” are really seen by God as “the habitation of devils, the hold of every foul spirit, and cage of every unclean and hateful bird” (Rev 18v2)? Could this be an example of the “nations drinking of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (Rev 14v8)?

#27 Fortigurn

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Posted 09 May 2003 - 08:24 PM

Yancey is right in that he says the “Christian” (ie. Catholic) Church played a crucial role in the Revolutions of 1989-90. Mikhail Gorbechev said of the revolutions in Eastern Europe, and later in Russia that “I think that at the core of that resistance was Catholicism.” The leader of the Revolution in Poland, Lech Walsea said that “The Holy father was the instigator of all these transformations.” But let’s ask some more questions:

Was the fall of Communism and the Berlin wall really because of God’s loving support for the “Christian” Pope and his “blaze of candles in the churches of Eastern Europe”?

Or was the Pope’s role in overthrowing the Polish government an example of a rebellious “frog spirit” out of the mouth of the “false prophet” (Rev 16v13-16), which will eventually lead the world to Armageddon?

Could this have been the beginning of Babylon’s rise to prominence in the latter days as prophesied in Revelation? Or is it just another example of how wonderfully gracious Roman Catholicism really is?

Is this really about “grace” or is it just rebellion, or can’t we even tell the difference?

Did the Catholic Church’s lust for power and the expansion of her political influence in eastern Europe have anything to do with her vital role in bringing down Communism? Or was this just “grace”?

Is it possible that the Pope wanted East and West Germany reunited so as to re-establish a united Holy Roman Empire in Western Europe? Or was this just “grace”?

Stalin’s mocking question, “How many divisions (ie. armies) has the Pope?” certainly was answered. Are the Pope’s “divisions” in Europe who overthrow governments and instigate revolutions a classic example of grace for us to follow?

Does Philip Yancey’s identification of Roman Catholicism as “Christianity” and “the power of grace” mean that Evangelical Christianity is just another one of the harlot daughters of the mother church (Rev 17v5)?

Because this book has Roman Catholic doctrines as its foundation (ie. the Trinity, pre-existence of Christ, substitution, heaven-going etc.), should we really be surprised?

The key issue: Is this another classic example of how popular modern Christianity is really just part of the evil system of Babylon? Or has the difference between truth and error become so blurred that we cannot even tell the difference?

#28 Fortigurn

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Posted 09 May 2003 - 08:24 PM

HOMOSEXUALITY

“Among the marchers were at least 3000 who identified themselves with various religious groups: the Catholic “Dignity” movement, the Episcopalian group “Integrity”, and even a sprinkling of Mormons and Seventh-Day Adventists.  More than a thousand marched under the banner of the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), a denomination that professes a mostly evangelical theology except for its stance on homosexuality.  This last group had a poignant reply to the beleaguered Christian protestors: they drew even, turned to face them, and sang, “Jesus loves us, this we know, for the Bible tells us so.” 

The abrupt ironies in that scene of confrontation struck me.  On the one side were Christians defending pure doctrine (not even the National Council of Churches has accepted the MCC denomination for membership).  On the other side were “sinners”, many of whom openly admit to homosexual practice.  Yet the more orthodox group spewed out hate, and the other group sang of Jesus’ love.”  (What’s so amazing about Grace, p. 165-166)

“The whole notion of a “gay church” seems bizarre to me. I have met celibate, non practicing homosexuals who wish desperately that another church would welcome them, but have found none.  I feel sad that the churches I attend are missing out on the spiritual gifts of these Christians, and sad too that the MCC denomination seems to me so fixated on sexual issues.” (p. 173)



#29 Fortigurn

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Posted 09 May 2003 - 08:24 PM

He does however go on to say that “Mel and I have deep differences. I cannot condone many of the decisions he has made.” In saying this however Yancey makes no comment on what the Bible says about the issue or what his views actually are. He conveniently says, “I am not discussing my views of homosexual behaviour, only my attitudes towards homosexuals.”

Why won’t Yancey tell us what his real views are on homosexuality, or at least what he thinks the Bible says?

Why does Yancey spend page after page showing how loving and how “Christian” these homosexuals are compared with the harsh, hard line, right wing “Christians” who are appalled by the arrogance of unrepentant homosexuals? What is the benefit of this? Should we therefore tolerate homosexuality?

Why is it that those who are disgusted by the homosexual lifestyle are shown to be bigots and unforgiving while the homosexuals are presented in a good light?

Why is it that in this whole 15 page chapter (chapter 13), there is hardly any reference to Scripture? If Scripture is not the basis, then how can we trust that Yancey’s opinions are right? So what does the Bible say?

1 Cor 6v9-11 “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (NIV)

We all would joyfully acknowledge that God opens the door for forgiveness to homosexuals who wish to forsake their previous way of life and turn to Him. God’s forgiveness is total and absolute, but this is conditional on repentance and a forsaking of the old way of life (Luke 15v10; Acts 3v19). Yancey however spends just so much time trying to convince us of how nice these homosexuals can be, but why nothing on God’s forgiveness? Why doesn’t he emphasise that homosexuals can be forgiven? Why doesn’t he encourage them to repent? The important issue here is surely God’s wonderful promise of forgiveness:

Luke 13v3 “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”

Isaiah 55v6-7 “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and  let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”

Acts 17v30 “Now (God) commandeth all men everywhere to repent.”


Why not give examples in this chapter of God’s forgiveness of Bible characters who were repentant and forgiven? Is it because it is politically incorrect or is there some other reason? We just don’t know.

#30 Fortigurn

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Posted 09 May 2003 - 08:24 PM

Maybe some light can be shed on this issue by the following comments:

“At one point, a TV interviewer asked Mel’s parents on-camera, “You know what other Christians are saying about your son.  They say he is an abomination. What do you think about that?“  “Well,” the mother answered in a sweet, quavery voice, “he may be an abomination, but he’s still our pride and joy.”

That line has stayed with me because I came to see it as a heartened definition of grace.  I came to see that Mel White’s mother expressed how God views every one of us.  In some ways we are all abominations to God - All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God - and yet somehow, against all reason, God loves us anyhow.  Grace declares that we are still God’s pride and joy.”  (What’s so amazing about Grace? p. 170-171)


Yes, we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. However he misses the critical issue. There is a difference between unrepentant homosexuals and repentant brethren in Christ. Brethren in Christ who are repentant, have been baptised and have forsaken their old way of life are counted righteous for Christ’s sake (Rom 3v24; Eph 4v32). How can unrepentant homosexuals be placed in this category? Because of his belief in the doctrine of substitution, it all gets back to Yancey’s main catchcry, that “God loves us anyhow.”
This is where things really start getting serious. Let’s ask the following crucial questions:

Are unrepentant homosexuals really “God’s pride and joy”?

What Scriptural evidence is there to show that an unrepentant homosexual is no different in God’s sight to those faithful believers who are Christ’s brethren?

What is the practical result of all this? Is this really where Yancey’s philosophy about grace leads us? Is it that nothing matters in our lives either, because “God loves us anyhow”?

What should really be the positive emphasis of all this?

Psa 32v1,2,6 “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile….  For this shall every one that is Godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.”



#31 Fortigurn

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Posted 09 May 2003 - 08:25 PM

SCOFFING ATTITUDE

“What bothers me most, in retrospect, was the Bible college's attempt to relate all their rules to God's law... I seethed at their contorted attempts to condemn long hair on men, aware that Jesus and most of the Biblical characters we studied probably had longer hair than ours and facial hair to boot.  The rule about hair length had more to do with the likelihood of offending supporters than with anything in Scripture, but no one dared admit it.  I could not find one word in the Bible about rock music, skirt lengths, or cigarette smoking, and the ban against alcohol puts us on the side of John the Baptist, not Jesus.  Yet authorities in that school made a determined effort to present all these rules as part of the gospel.” (What’s so amazing about Grace?  p. 194)


Some questions arise from these comments:

Does this now mean that at our Ecclesial camps, Young Peoples Conferences and Bible Schools we should freely allow everyone to drink, smoke and listen to any types of rock music they please? Or are there certain Scriptural principles involved here?

Is it possible to be “on the side of John the Baptist” while not being “on the side of Jesus” or vice versa?

Is it true that there are certain clear Scriptural principles that guide our lives rather than any particular verse in the Bible that says, for instance, “thou shalt not smoke cigarettes” ? Or are Scriptural principles not really important anyway?

There are just so many Scriptures that could be used here, but just consider the following 2 passages:

1 Pet 1v13-16 “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.””  (NIV)

1 Cor 11v14-15 “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.”



#32 Fortigurn

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Posted 09 May 2003 - 08:25 PM

IS OUR WAY OF THINKING BEING CHANGED BY ALL THIS?

A scoffing attitude is a feature of so much of Yancey’s book. Why is it that almost anyone he mentions who advocates any kind of morality or the upholding of God’s principles such as “family values” is shown to be a bigot, a hypocrite, a child abuser, or even a criminal or one who rents X-rated videos? Those supposed “hypocrites” who are said to “censure” drinking, filthy magazines and “questionable movies or books” are so often implicated as being legalists and even racists and promoters of apartheid. These underlying attitudes promoted by Yancey pose one of the greatest dangers of this book. It teaches us to be cynical and to impute evil motives on those who are striving to lead Christ-like lives (2 Tim 3v3,7). We need to wake up to how this type of “Christian” literature is changing our way of thinking over time.

The result of this type of philosophy is that the difference between right and wrong has become very blurred. No longer do we focus on developing a Godly character, discerning between good and evil (Heb 5v14). Instead we focus on the fact that God supposedly “loves us anyhow” despite what we do. This is substitutionary grace, not Biblical grace. It is founded on the doctrine of substitution and is therefore wrong. For further detail on the doctrinal basis of this type of Evangelical “grace”, see Bro Jonathan Burke’s comments in his study entitled, “If Yancey is wrong, then why is it so hard to tell?

#33 Fortigurn

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Posted 09 May 2003 - 08:25 PM

CONCLUSION OF THE BOOK

“Bill Moyers’ documentary film on the hymn “Amazing Grace” includes a scene filmed in Wembly Stadium in London.  Various musical groups, mostly rock bands, had gathered together in celebration of the changes in South Africa, and for some reason the promoters scheduled an opera singer, Jessye Norman, as the closing act.  The film cuts back and forth between scenes of the unruly crowd in the stadium and Jessye Norman being interviewed.  For 12 hours groups like Guns ‘n’ Roses have blasted the crowd through banks of speakers, riling up fans already high on booze and dope.  The crowd yells for more curtain calls, and the rock groups oblige.  Meanwhile, Jessye Norman sits in her dressing room discussing “ Amazing Grace” with Moyers.…

Finally the time comes for her to sing.  A single circle of light follows Norman, a majestic African-American woman wearing a flowing African dashiki, as she strolls onstage.  No backup band, no musical instruments, just Jessye.  The crowd stirs, restless.  Few recognise the opera diva.  A voice yells for more Guns ‘n’ Roses.  Others take up the cry.  The scene is getting ugly.  Alone, a capella, Jessye Norman begins to sing, very slowly:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found -
Was blind, but now I see.

A remarkable thing happens in Wembly Stadium that night.  Seventy thousand raucous fans fall silent before her aria of grace.  By the time Norman reaches the second verse, “Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved…” the soprano has the crowd in her hands.  By the time she reads the third verse, “Tis grace has brought me safe this far, and grace will lead me home,” several thousand fans are singing along, digging far back in nearly lost memories for words they heard long ago.

When we’ve been there 10,000 years
Bright shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.

Jessye Norman later confessed she had no idea what power descended on Wembley Stadium that night.  I think I know. The world thirsts for grace. When grace descends, the world falls silent before it.”  (What’s so amazing about Grace?  pages 281-282)



#34 Fortigurn

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Posted 09 May 2003 - 08:25 PM

So is this really the conclusion to it all?

No visions of the Kingdom. Nothing about the Kingdom of God on earth, by God’s grace. No mention of the resurrection from the dead. No mention of the restoration of Israel or their repentance before their Messiah. No mention about the fulfilment of God’s promises to the Fathers. No mention of immortality bestowed upon the righteous. And certainly nothing about God’s judgements on the Roman Catholic system or on an evil world that hates Him. Nothing about the Saints and their work of restoration in a 1000 year reign of peace and righteousness. And nothing about Jesus Christ reigning from Jerusalem or the beautiful visions of Isaiah 35 or Psalm 72. Nothing whatsoever.

Instead, we find ourselves full of dope and booze at a drunken rock concert. This is where the power of God’s grace is supposed to be found. It is supposedly bestowed on a world that doesn’t even know it and which doesn’t want to respond to it.

This is the conclusion of Yancey’s philosophy about grace. This is where it all ends. Incredible.

Gal 6v7 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”






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