Thursday, July 8, 2010

The ZigZag Café

We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue. I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.

For today:

How would you respond to someone who says, “there is no need for progression in sanctification, as all we have to do in the here and now is live in Christ and we're sanctified” ?





Living Spiritual Rhythms For Today



carter said...

Why do so many of your questions seem to center around the issues raised by Paul in his letter to the Romans? Love of and from God requires a response of and from me that implies more than mere passive acceptance. If I truly love God, then I will take one or more positive steps toward the goal of ultimate unity with him and the church universal.

Greg said...

Thanks. I guess I'm pretty engaged with Romans, especially chapters 6-8, but I do hope that ZigZag questions are more far reaching in terms of working out the realities of those chapters. At any rate, this question comes more out of 1 Corinthians, than Romans.

So, is it all there for us now if we just live in Christ? Doubt it. Seems like progression from one stage to another is part of being in community with God.

Rhett & Valerie said...

(I'm interpreting this comment as the person here is saying there's no need for human effort in the process of sanctification. If they're saying that we're *already* imaging Jesus perfectly--therefore there's no need for progress in the process--they're deceived and need look no further than the Sermon on the Mount and compare themselves to its standards to realize they fall short).

I agree; this comment presupposes a passivity and lack of human action in the sanctification process. There's so much throughout the entire Scripture that contradicts this. After you Believe (Tom Wright) has been helpful for me in sorting out this issue. I think Bonhoeffer referred to the mindset detailed above as "cheap grace".

The dicey thing is that as people progress toward Christlikeness they're always on different levels of maturity. You can't add anything to the gospel and say "a TRUE Christian is going to be saved by grace AND____" (fill in the blank with your hobby horse of choice; "and only use organic products and support eco friendly causes", "and give absolutely everything they own to the poor", "and never swear", etc). As each one of us progresses toward Christlikeness we will be in various places; there's no common yardstick with which we can all measure our devotion and growth in maturity. Only Jesus knows our hearts. So if we say there's an element of human responsibility in following Christ and becoming more like him, we also need to say that we need to be very gracious and patient with our brothers and sisters in Christ as they grow. At the same time we make efforts to listen to the affirmation and critique of our community and to affirm and critique others within it as well, all within the context of love.


Greg said...

Thanks. Excellent comment. This person was saying that a human effort to live in Christ was attainable because of what Christ has done and what the Spirit is doing. There is no process, as a symmetry exists between us and what Christ accomplished and what the Spirit does - therefore we're sanctified.

I found Wright helpful too, yet I have some reservations about his anthropology.

Good points about degrees of being sanctified. While we're all at different places on the journey, our destiny is the same. Consequently, the need for and the devotion to love and grace pertains to us all.

Rhett & Valerie said...

So was this person saying there's no distinction between justification and sanctification? Like sanctification is instantaneous? What if you mess up?

I'm curious about your comments on Wright's anthro. If you have the time/space here, that's great. If not, I would like to hear them at some point.


Greg said...

Yes, I think that's what it amounts to. Basically this person was saying there is no distinction. My take is that sometimes the words justification and sanctification are like synonyms, but other times they are not.

Briefly, on Wright's anthro. Seemed to me that he was a bit reductionistic with regard to the mind and its need for renewal. Not that it doesn't require renewal, but there is more to us than the mind. Of course, this might be a question for Paul?

Joshua said...

If the folk is grounding one's understanding in 1 Corinthians, he'd be right, no? I guess I'm not understanding what the difference between progression and actually "living in Christ".

Joshua said...

Forgive the he, lapse in neutered language.

Greg said...

Thanks. Good question. While the Corinthians are never told they are not sanctified (used here in the sense of justified), they are queried about whether they are acting as those who are and further, they are critiqued for failing to live as those in Christ. Their having been made holy is clear from the fact that they are Christians, but their living is not reminiscent of this having been made and being in Christ. So, progression and living in Christ have a relation and distinction - Christians are living in Christ, but want to move toward that being more and more characteristic of who they be and what they do.