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Posts Tagged ‘Hypergrace’

There’s a lot of debate at the moment around issues of hypergrace theology, sanctification and accusations of antinomianism. In America it has most recently surrounded the removal of Tullian Tchividjian’s blog from the Gospel Coalition website but there was already a lot of discussion prompted largely by Joseph Prince’s teaching. I’m aware that it is an issue in Uganda as well with one or two large city churches seeming to preach a message that ‘You’re saved so sin all you want’ or ‘You’ve died in Christ so you’re free from all responsibilities to this world’. Some groups seem to be linking this with the false teaching that ‘You are gods’, thus exponentially increasing the poison of the error.

Let’s be clear for a start, ‘Saved to sin’ is wrong and ‘Saved by works’ is wrong. ‘We no longer sin’ is wrong and ‘It doesn’t matter if we sin’ is wrong. Reading through 1 John (as I’m doing at the moment) makes that very clear. As the great African theologian Tertullian is credited with saying, just as Christ was crucified between two thieves, so the doctrine of justification is constantly accompanied by two opposite errors. (It may be that Tertullian was originally referring to Christological controversies rather than justification and that the errors in question were of saying Jesus is the Father versus saying Jesus is only man, but his picture works well for legalism and license too.)

The problem is that in trying to refute one error you can very easily fall into the other one. As the Puritans used to say, you mustn’t correct an imbalance with an imbalance. How we argue these things matter. These are deep waters and I feel very ill-equipped to swim in them but these are also very important questions (e.g. is just preaching Christ enough? what do we mean by ‘just preaching Christ’? what is the place of the law? how do Christians change? is telling Christians to do things always moralism?) so we need to at least wade in a little way.

To start things off, here are a few posts from others that I’ve found very helpful:

  • Obedience: not a dirty word – “It’s true that there is a slavery on the near side of sonship and that is spiritual death.  But there’s a slavery on the far side of sonship and it is life and peace.”
  • Grace aint a carrot, sanctification aint a stick – commenting on the Tullian Tchividjian debate.
  • Gospel preaching: preaching to the converted – is the gospel ‘repent and believe’ or ‘what Christ has done’?
  • Gospel preaching: the third way – the options for progress in the Christian life are not simply 1) obedience / self-effort or 2) knowing our identity in Christ / remembrance of salvation / gratitude – there is a third option.
  • Gospel preaching: the third way (continued) – “If the gospel doesn’t transform a life, do you balance grace with effort?  Do you preach grace more boldly?  Or do you make sure your preaching of the gospel of grace goes beyond gratitude to the dynamic relational and spiritual union of being one with Christ?”
  • God sanctifies his people – very helpful message by Piper explaining from 1 Thess. 5:23-24 how sanctification is both something that is promised as the work of God and something commanded which we need to pursue.
  • Extravagant Grace – Dane Ortlund’s very helpful review in Themelios of Barbara Duguid’s important book building on John Newton’s understanding of sanctification.

This is all really challenging me to think things through more carefully…

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