In this episode of the podcast. Bill Giovannetti continues sharing new book, CHAOS:As Goes the Church, So Goes the World.
Below you have a short snippet of each chapter…
Chapter 11 – How the Church Murdered Grace
I come from a theological perspective some have labeled the Free Grace Movement. I am happy with that label, because what’s not to like? It’s free. It’s grace. No, I don’t endorse everything the Free Grace Movement stands for, but I’m sure the feeling is mutual. That’s where charity comes in.
I also feel certain affinities toward what is called Sovereign Grace, a euphemism for Calvinism, though my theological disagreements there are more pronounced.
As a guy who’s known for a grace-oriented theology, I am routinely greeted with enthusiastic statements such as, “My pastor preaches grace too!” Or, “We have a new song about grace.” Or, “I’m glad God is gracious, because I’m such a wreck.” The people I meet in my travels are generally eager to show that their church/ministry/book/etc. proclaims grace too.
Nevertheless, the simple fact of the matter is that the evangelical church has unceremoniously murdered grace. We have committed this crime by misuse, dilution, and the death of a thousand cuts.
The great Bible teacher and founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, Lewis Sperry Chafer, began his book on grace by saying, “The precise and discriminate meaning of the word grace ought to be crystal clear to every child of God.”
Now, there’s an “ought” I can get behind.
The problem is that we are not “crystal clear,” not even close. We barely reach the “murky” threshold. The church is to blame. The church at large has murdered grace, thereby relegating the people of God to the terminally stunted Phariseeism which Jesus verbally crucified.
Once again, the motive for this crime is less obvious than it might at first appear. Let’s dispatch a few obvious motives, and then get down to brass knuckles.
The Obvious Stuff
We can rattle off quite a few obvious reasons for the death of grace in the church today. We have already fretted over a general theological illiteracy in the land, which easily applies to the rigorous doctrine we call grace. We have also lamented the thug ironically called ultra-tolerance, and the way it has bullied itself into churches and seminaries today. Unless we’re virtue-signaling our acceptance — actually advocacy —of every moral deviancy that has a name, we’re accused of being anti-grace.
Perhaps a deeper etching on Grace’s tombstone says something as simple as They Never Understood the Cross. And it’s true. By neglecting theology, we have starved God’s children of the meat of Calvary: propitiation, expiation, regeneration, redemption, vicarious substitution, and all the doctrines stained crimson by Jesus’ blood.
The heart of Scripture is Christ. The heart of Christ is grace. The heart of Grace is the Cross.
Without Christ’s Cross, there is no grace, not in reality, and not conceptually either. There is no such thing as a Christless grace, yet this is certainly abroad in the land. But even worse, there is no such thing as a Crossless grace, and this is pandemic.
Every time we say that God accepts you just as you are, we think we are talking about grace, when in reality we are jabbing a knife in grace’s back unless we connect that acceptance to the Old Rugged Cross.
Every time we tell an immoral person not to worry because God forgives them, we only set them up for an even deeper guilt later on, unless we explain exactly how and where that forgiveness was procured. We need a forgiveness that means something — one that the devil can’t undermine — and such a forgiveness requires ideational linkages to the Cross.
The late, great Australian New Testament scholar, Leon Morris, did the English-speaking church a massive favor when he wrote two books specifically on the cross. In 1955, he penned The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross. In this marvelous book, he delves into the precise meanings of the words I have already lamented for dropping out of the Christian vocabulary: justification, propitiation, etc. In each chapter, he traces the apostolic preaching as rooted in the Old Testament and wending its way through the New, and then into the early church. He lapses into Greek and Hebrew with impunity, and writes for the studious pastor or seminary student. I re-read this book every other year, and find new wonders in it every time. Morris shows what it meant for Peter, Paul, John, and all the apostles to preach the Cross of Christ.
If this isn’t the foundation of grace, nothing is.
I used to assign this book in my seminary classes.
I can no longer do so, as so many no longer take Greek and Hebrew.
No worries, however, as Morris put out a more accessible version of the same book in 1983 called The Atonement. He covers the same ground at a less technical level.
Back to the main point. I am saying that the church has murdered grace, and one of the stab wounds is our fundamental ignorance of the most important thing of all: the meaning of the Cross of Christ. Oh, we have some idea of it, but it’s not enough to silence the devil. Perhaps even worse, it is not enough to answer faith-destroying critics who would turn the vicarious death of Christ into a mere moral example or something less. It takes a scholar to silence a scholar, and the evangelical church’s scholars are dying off faster than they’re being replaced.
To divorce grace from the Cross is to murder it. In most places, the corpse has already stopped twitching. Grace has devolved into a general synonym for nice, or lenient, or something God-awfully wimpy like that. That’s why we can sing Amazing Grace at a drug-dealer’s funeral, and assume that God is nice enough not to damn anybody. What else would you expect from a bunch of theologically stunted spiritual brats?
Crossless grace is an abomination that meshes perfectly with our post-modern, deconstructed, intersectionalized preference for subjectivity over truth.
But this divide from Calvary’s Cross, as bad as it is, is not the real perp in Grace’s tragic murder. No. The real murderer is more insidious and harder to spot.
How, exactly, did the church murder grace?
To read the rest of Chaos, please pick up the book!
[Please click here to be notified when the book is released.]
You might have caught some changes in file names, podcasts episode names and titles, because I have basically changed the numbering system to make the whole structure of the book more clear, it’s a work in progress. I’m also changing chapter titles…
With this episode Bill continues giving away most of this book, as he shares it with you on the podcast. The message is urgent. The message is timely. If it strikes a chord with you, please share it with your friends. I appreciate your prayers.
There has never been a more important moment in the life of the modern church. It is time for us to return to our roots and seek God as never before.
Here’s the Table of Contents (subject to change)
CHAOS: AS GOES THE CHURCH SO GOES THE WORLD
Part One: Disturbing Trends in Today’s Church
1. The Giants Have Perished
2. Cheap Epistemology
3. The Song that Never Ends
4. For the Love of All That’s Holy
5. Whatever Happened to Hell?
6. Modern Day Pharisees
7. Kingdom Mania
8. The Discipleship Captivity of the Church
9. The Leadership Captivity of the Church
10. The Brokenness of “Woken-ness”
11. How the Church Murdered Grace
Part Two: The Revival We Need
12. Grow Big / Reformation pt 1
13. Grow Big / Reformation pt 2
14. Stand Tall / Some Theology Concerning Revival
15. Stand Tall / Some History Concerning Revival
16. Proclaim Christ
Afterword: What’s an Evangelical?
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Please click here to be notified when the book is released.