Saturday, February 28, 2009

Clarification: Saved by Faith

It appears a clarification is needed concerning a post I wrote recently on works-righteousness.

Based on a couple emails, I think people were drawing the conclusion that I'm opposed to a "saved by faith" theology. Not to make those people feel bad, but I believe that this is an example of something pretty common in Christianity:

i) Someone says something nettling to the theological scaffolding of evangelicalism.
ii) Evangelicals jump to conclusions based on whatever is said.
iii) They reject those conclusions as untenable, hence allowing them to ignore what was originally said rather than grapple with its merits.

In this case all I was pointing out was that the term "works-righteousness" is ill-conceived and has no really valid meaning. It is rather applied like a scarlet letter to a wide variety of thoughts evangelicals wish to denounce.

I most certainly hold that we are justified by grace and saved by faith...the question is what do those phrases mean? Here is where our 20th century Western perspective on the world really leaves Christianity prone to misinterpretation. Since the New Testament was written by 1st century Jews, we have to ask ourselves what those words would mean in the context and the lexicon of their Jewish writers. Rather than pick definitions that are line with the theology that makes sense to us or satisfies our desires or works within some extra-biblical natural theology we dream up, we have to get down into scripture and ask what the terms mean to the Jews who wrote them... taking into particular consideration the prophecies that described the Christ and His work.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Book is Available

8 years in the making [kinda]

But my book is now available to most English speakers in the world.

Go to for details.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I recently wrote a post at gush on the topic of "Works-Righteousness" and reckoned it reasonable to post here:

I was thinking about the term "Works-Righteousness" today and decided it is just another of those Christian Buzzwords that are thrown about without any care for their actual meaning. In this case, it's just a pejorative that's used to label a collection of beliefs without having a real meaning. It's like "Nazi" or "Fascist" for evangelicals.

So, I was wondering what you people think it means and if anyone can come up with a good actual definition.

Here are some thoughts I had [in an effort to show why I've decided it is just a junk-word Christians use to attack things.]

First, obviously the word indicates a philosophy/theology that links "works" to "righteousness"

The first and most important observation is that the term really cannot have anything to do with the Final Judgment if it has any meaning. People are described righteous or unrighteous throughout the Bible without any reference to the Final Judgment. So, whatever "righteous" means, it has to have a meaning/use that is not directly linked to the Judgment.

So, however one defines "works-righteousness," it cannot be defined by using the Final Judgment as a guide.

The second issue is that the word righteous refers to a state not a prize. In fact, we should probably stop using the word "righteous" altogether because 500 years of reformed writings have corrupted what the word means. The word really just means "to be as one ought to be." In today's language "acceptable" would probably be a better term.

The problem is that most of the time when people describe things having to do with works-righteousness, they do not treat "righteousness" as a state but rather as prize to be won, or as a label denoting someone is worthwhile rather than the worthwhileness itself.

The third issue, of course, is what is works, really. Do works refer to "good deeds" as in "doing the will of the father"? [a' la Matthew 7:21 and Matthew 12:50] I think that is mental definition people would often give...but often people who are attacking works-righteousness address people who are promoting "standard morality" things like not drinking, not dancing, not smoking, etc....items which are very much on the periphery of "doing the will of the father"

And, last but not least, what is the relationship that is assumed when someone decries a philosophy as "works-righteousness"?

Is it that works develop righteousness? Like pumping iron develops muscle or practicing develops mastery of the piano.

Is it that works secures righteousness, like having a majority of votes secures a person's election to government?

Is it that works demonstrates righteousness, like how the ability to scratch all other naturally occurring minerals demonstrates that something is a diamond.

Is it that works are demonstrated by the righteous in the same way that sentimental gifts are given by those who love others without really demonstrating or proving that love.

Or is that works and righteousness are tantamount to one another, like "having tons of money in the bank" and "being wealthy."

I don't really think people mean any of these because I believe most people use the term "works-righteousness" in a way that does not respect the fact that righteousness is a property someone has (or develops), not a evaluation or credential someone attains.

So... anyone care give a good definition for what "works-righteousness" means without appealing to the Final Judgment or treating "righteousness" as a credential?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Book Sent to the Printer

The book has now been sent to the printers. Of course, just today I realized something I really wished I had put in it. [The link of Matthew 7:21-23 to Matthew 7:26 and hence back to Luke 6:46 through Luke 6:47-48]

Should be available in 10 days or so.