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Why “Grace” Doesn’t Seem to Make Anyone “Nice”

May 16, 2013

Ran across this debate by a guy writing a book apparently criticizing what he calls “hyper-grace”, and someone from the Pantelism Facebook group was involved, so I saw the link.

The author complains that many of these apparent “grace”-believers in Facebook feedback were responding angrily and hatefully and he includes a back and forth correspondence with one, where the person reacts to him insinuating he doesn’t know the Lord “in a personal way”, and the author keeps pointing us to his nasty reactions.
In the comments, others testify to the nasty reactions of those opposed to more conservative forms of Christianity. Of course, it’s usually the other way around. “The world” has long tagged Christians as being hateful and judgmental. So now, it seems some Christians are trying to throw the charge back at the world.
One person stated in opposition, “Publicly revealing another person’s faults after having a disagreement with them is far from mature and will certainly not help your cause to have civil, loving and Christian debate with them. All I see in the comments you pointed out are angry people who feel attacked responding with agitation. I recall the Apostle Paul being agitated with a group of people and saying that he wished they would just cut off their private parts. The things these people said are rather light and minor.”

Who’s right? Both, really!
[my response]:

Neither side in this or any other dispute has a monopoly on unemotional “objectivity”.

People who believe in complete grace (which is now being called “hyper”) are likely reacting from having given significant portions of their lives up to fear and a fear-based “orthodoxy” masquerading as “grace”, but is still ultimately just as controlling (in practice) as the “works”-based systems it eschews. (Or if never giving up any of their life to it, still being subjected to fear tactics by Christian relatives and others). Just like many “orthodox” or “conservatives” are just as angry, and historically more loud and vocal about a feared loss of influence in culture (including from so many in their ranks giving up the fear-based doctrine, which has been credited with being the “glue” that kept society together). Or more closely corresponding; evangelicals coming out of stricter works-based religions (Catholicism, cults, Judaism, etc) and then preaching strongly and often angrily against them.

At least the hypergrace believers don’t question one’s standing in Christ, since that is based purely on His grace, and not our efforts of getting our beliefs, attitudes or behavior in order. (One version of this grace doctrine holds that the NT reflected a “transition” period between Law and Grace, so that’s why you still see an emphasis on behavior with a fear of judgment for sin).

It should also be noted, that whatever is the truth, it is clear that God is no longer giving new supernatural revelatory validation of it, like in scripture, so religion (and irreligion) has spiraled out of control, and everyone is left to adopt any belief with no absolute certainty. (Something obviously changed since the close of the canon, but that’s another debate). So we all have doubts that we try to suppress, yet when someone else believes differently, and especially if they confront us with it, it triggers this, and we essentially fight our own doubts in the other person. (A guy named Robert Johnson points this out). And everyone is susceptible to this, because no one has any new revelation today (including those who claim to).

  1. Will probably eventually make another article of this point, but the uncertainty of reality is what conspiracy theorists live off of. From Elvis to Amelia Earhart, to the citizenship of Obama, whose fault a particular disaster is, and to even if the world is really round or flat after all; anytime there’s no ready absolute proof of something, someone will always call common “knowledge” into question, using an opposing hypothesis or even series of hypotheses.

  2. In a debate on this article: where people argued on the “cost” of grace” (versus “cheap” grace).

    First of all, I see a lot of people in the comments are critical of the article, but both sides are operating off of a “doing” mindset, and the only difference is which deeds are to be “done” or not done, in order to be “living the Gospel/Walking the Christian walk”. That, I think is the real problem on both sides. “Grace” is just some side thing that needs to be preached WITH something else; some form of works.

    Of course, people attribute all of these changes in the Church to the “falling away” of “the last days”. Paul wrote that over 1950 years ago, and it was something he was warning his readers about THEN. Precisely the problem in debates like this, is the assumption that everything was good in the past, and only NOW is the “falling away”, because of the loss of OUR (the Church’s) power over American (particularly, and perhaps also the rest of the “West”) society.

    But things were already screwed up and far from scriptural back then (and the centuries before), only covered up behind a veneer of “morality” (just like those Christ preached to). All the modern generation has done is remove more of the veneer, but that was never what the Gospel was about to begin with, and was precisely the problem in the first place (especially as it led to judgmentalism, and often everything up to persecution of others).
    What happens, is that when we insist that it’s what’s “going on” (as one person said) in OUR time, that makes the prophecies all about us (and our nation, often), which negates all the sin and ignorance of truth throughout the centuries. It assumes even the corrupt Dark Ages church had the “truth”, and only now are we falling into error. So apparently, they fell away in Paul’s day, then at some point, they restored the truth (in Western Christianity), but now it’s falling away again.
    There might have been some corrections to corruption (like the Reformation challenging the Roman system and emphasizing grace over works), but the falling away Paul referred to was leading to a specific end, which occurred shortly after, and it was not undone by Church history.

    The discussion on our Facebook group eventually turns to whether this “cost” includes the nonphysical criticism complaining Christians here in the West count as this “cost” (of “suffering”).

    “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

    It seems to me this encouragement from our Lord speaks largely, though perhaps not exclusively, of verbal and emotional harassment, rejection, criticism, slander, ostracism, etc. So I don’t think it’s justified to suggest that persecution must be physical… at least, it appears “reviling” and “false evil speaking” qualify as persecution in Jesus’ opinion.

    It also seems the cause of such “persecution” is “righteousness” of the sort the prophets demonstrated where the prophets were often confrontational, “judgmental”, and demanding repentance. In other words, preaching, say holiness or Jesus is the only way or repent you sinners, and being “reviled” for it is a blessing.

    Where does one get that notion from? This could be taken, as many do, to surmise that Christians can behave any way they want to people, because they are in the “right”, and the others are in the wrong, and thus have no rights to any sort of respect; and thus any negative response of those preached at is taken as proof they are just “rejecting the truth”. Just what old-time Christianity has come under fire for. It’s basically “presuppositionalism”.

    What everyone who uses this rationale misses is that the prophets often included themselves among those they preached to; you didn’t have quite the “US/YOU” mentality we’ve seen in the old time church.
    Plus, the fact that those Jesus was referring to were not the “ungodly secularists”, but rather the established conservative religious leaders preaching the Law and repentance! The problem, they (in their ‘confrontational’ attitudes toward others) forgot their own sin, and thus looked for Jesus to come and straighten out everyone else. When he went after THEM instead, then they rejected Him and persecuted his followers.

    So now, everyone tries to copy the prophets, but no one copies Christ’s humility and patience with sinners. This is the “emulation” Paul mentions.
    And it was understood, that when the Christ-rejectors made those verbal attacks against Christ’s followers, true persecution would eventually follow. They basically called out the followers, and then the Romans came and often physically persecuted them.

  3. How the Modern Church helped create a God that people hate

    Started out interesting, comparing Johnathan Edwards to Joel Osteen, and how we went from one to the other (via Freud, basically).

    To accuse people who question certain aspects of the common teachings on God of “culture of victimization” is what actually exalts man to this all-capable being who simply chooses not to do what he’s perfectly capable of doing.
    (And it greatly parallels the defenders of the rich and powerful in US politics, who accuse the poor of “victimization” rhetoric, while they then proceed to claim to having their money and freedoms taken away to benefit these “undeserving” poor, which is not even really accurate to begin with).

    Isn’t God a “force beyond one’s control”? Why is it OK to make HIM the “victim” (as preaching on the severity of sin and why it must be punished often in effect does)?

    This ignores the whole reason why we need grace in the first place, (even as it is used by Calvinists such as Edwards who emphasize the “bondage of the will”). They completely forget Christ’s Cross prayer “Forgive them, for they know not what they do” and especially Psalm 103:14 “For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust” acknowledging our weakness.
    Saying “The primary focus is God. When one focuses upon God as the ultimate; the highest, greatest, most supreme being…then value of the human individual seems somewhat diminished” still doesn’t explain God putting the ball in man’s corner, and leaving it there; only reducing the “requirement” to “the mere cost of repentance and humbling oneself “. (Which in PRACTICE often carries a lot of baggage, which ends up just as hard if not impossible as the old Law)!
    The human individual is so little in value; yet he seems to be “big” enough to have this tremendous “responsibility” placed on him (and people seem to think this “asymmetry” as one Calvinist called it, is cute or something. And it will only be “pardoned” for some, in one way or another).

    He’s using the questions of “atheists” (e.g. “if there’s a good God, why…”, etc.) to prove that the “love” message is actually what made people “hate God” [i.e. He doesn’t measure up to this “soft” image of “love”]; but it was primarily the old fear tactics that started the revulsion (and Romans 7 shows why), and then because “love” was often mentioned by the same preachers (though usually with conditions placed on it), and the people rejecting the whole idea of God didn’t really distinguish between the harder and softer messages [they usually just lumped all “religion” into the same pot], that’s why those questions of became so common!

    People defending the old ways are always trying to turn things completely around and blame the opposite side for the effects of their actions

  4. Conservatives (including and especially Christian ones) fail to notice how all the virtues they pride their old society as upholding, and judge others for lacking, are slipping away from right under themselves one by one, in their reactions to others they feel threatened by:

    •“rugged individualism” (pride)
    •“people today are too easily offended ”(being offensive becomes a virtue)
    •disowning the President, and then feeling free to call him a turd, wish he would die, etc. (respect for leaders, including ungodly ones–Rom.13; plus murderous thoughts, and remember what Jesus said, just holding these thoughts is spiritually the same as carrying them out!)
    •Focus on personal “freedom” (this is used in areas such as racial history and economics, to justify harming others and even taking their freedoms. They’ll accuse teachings like the Fulfilled View ⦅that removes “choice” and improved behavior as requirements for salvation⦆ of being what they call “license” or “antinomian”, but we’re not using it as an excuse to offend others like they are; for the whole point is that love is to be the restraint; not Law, which as we see time and time again, can be bent and loopholed to justify any exception).

    They’re the proverbial “frog in the heating up pot of water” their brand of preachers used to warn everyone about being. One day, they’ll look up, and “conservativism” will be almost defined by its own form of vulgarity.

    (See also:

  5. Nails the issue!

    Please Stop Blaming Your Obnoxious Behavior On Jesus

    “The basic logic goes like this:
    (a) Everybody hated Jesus,
    (b) Jesus said his followers would be hated too,
    (c) If everybody hates me I’m doing something right.

    Sadly, the misunderstanding of how this all works leads us as Christians to be complete jerks, and to be proud of it in the process.”

  6. So now Catholicism is going after “MTD: Moralistic Therapeutic Deism”, which we’ve heard tossed around more conservative evangelicals, including Horton:

    Right away I noticed:

    “Our Catholic faith produces knights and ladies, not snowflakes and SJWs.”
    Then starts talking about “narcissism”! Go figure!

    That’s the problem with “duty faith” religion. Christ said “if you admitted you were blind, you would have no sin, but now you say you see, therefore your sin remains” (John 9:41), and Paul asked people trying to “preach against sin” if they did the same things (Romans 2). Meanwhile, what has that church done to make society a better place? Other than try to rule, and instill this “rugged individualism” that thinks that being NOT ‘nice’ just for the sake of being not nice (Paul refers to this as being “contrary to all men”), is somehow Christlike, and now everyone is rebelling against it.

    Point #2 puts down being “nice” in favor of “holy”, but holiness is always interpreted in terms of good behavior, so it’s just as “moralistic”; only disputing what parts of morality are important; or good behavior toward whom (treating others well, or just personal “ethics”, especially sexual, which supposedly matter more to God).

    Typical discussion in #3-5 about “happiness”, “The actual goal is to grow closer to Christ”, the supposed negative effects of MTD on groups like men, and “using God’s grace to push us to be better and more virtuous. It means not living by the beast like passion of emotions but rising to our true level of reason and virtue. It means embracing discipline and selflessness”.
    This is all “therapeutic” (from Greek therapeia “curing, healing, service done to the sick; a waiting on, service,” from therapeuein “to cure, treat medically,” literally “attend, do service, take care of”) It’s the same old changing of “grace” into some force that makes us better people.
    Grace, in scripture is an unmerited favor where God no longer counts our sin against us (2 Cor. 5:19). Here, it is something where forgiveness is earned if we do our part in applying the force to become better people.

    And thus, it’s “deistic” because it’s all about our “choices”; God does nothing for us on His own (including salvation) without us doing for ourselves first (the Cross only “makes it possible” as even some Protestants will say).
    (It should be pointed out that #5 is “All good people go to heaven”, but it’s the Catholic Church that gave its own people that impression with its focus on being “good” and “works”. It’s when you read between the lines that you find that most people aren’t actually “making it”. Yet the Church still has them coming and giving money thinking they are buying Heaven, though)

    So this shows us how easy it is to be describing one’s own views when pointing at what you see in others.
    And so, likewise, regarding the evangelicals, we see:
    Why do evangelicals like Trump? Because he’s one of us.

    Christians have been doing outrage for years. We’ve spent decades nursing a persecution mindset and a culture-war mentality. We claim to be outraged by all sorts of injustices—some real, some not—but mostly we’re angry and fearful at the loss of our cultural dominance.

    So we treat those who are different as enemies… by which I don’t mean we love them like Jesus actually told us to.

    In sermons and in blog posts, we cultivate a siege mentality among the faithful because, as it turns out, making people angry and afraid is a very effective way to build a platform.

    But there are consequences.

    When you teach people to be outraged all the time, they might end up voting for someone who is the personification of a YouTube comment section.

    To those who are shocked and unsettled by Trump’s resonance among evangelicals, what else did you expect?

    Donald Trump is exactly the kind of candidate we deserve. He is a reflection of us.

    His popularity is an indictment of our addiction to outrage. It’s an indictment of our culture-war mentality.

    All these years, when we should have been encouraging Christians to love and serve their neighbors, instead we told them to prepare for battle.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Why “Grace” Doesn’t Seem to Make Anyone “Nice” |
  2. Duggar controversy and the battle over who has “morals” and can judge “morality” | "ERIPEDIA"
  3. Systems vs Individuals and the balance of power and the role of “meaning” | "ERIPEDIA"
  4. Humanity’s biggest Pitfall: “Merit” | "ERIPEDIA"

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