This is our sixth in seven installments on legalism, or covenant path marking.
According to Foster, the Evangelical tradition of the Christian life focuses on the Word. (Don’t equate this with the current raging debate about what an “evangelical” is; Foster’s usage is broad.) He uses three examples: Augustine, Peter, and Billy Graham (who will be interviewed Friday night on Larry King Live).
The Evangelical tradition is known for faithful proclamation of redemption and reconciliation, for the faithful preservation of the gospel, for the faithful interpretation of the gospel — and the delves here briefly into the creeds. The major strengths: call to conversion, missionary mandate, biblical fidelity, sound doctrine. The potential perils: fixate or the peripheral or non-essential, sectarianism, limitation of salvation to getting to heaven, and bibliolatry.
How does the Evangelical tradition of the Christian life develop covenant path marking? Whenever I am judged by how much I know about the Bible, or whenever I judge others for that. (Believe me, I’m a Bible teacher but…) Whenever Bible reading is more important than living properly, whenever a human is seen as nothing more than a potential convert, whenever sound doctrine destroys human relationships (be careful here for it is good to be sound but not in any way that destroys the other), whenever someone’s worth is measured by how close they are to you in your theology, whenever the gospel is reduced to getting to heaven, whenever the Church is equated with “only my own local church”, whenever the Bible is de-personalized, whenever theology is seen as more important than its goal to make us “perfect” or people who love God and love others.
For all the caveats about all these things, please give my other posts some attention. I don’t want to repeat all these all the time. But, let me add this in defense of those of us who see ourselves as Evangelicals: nothing in our concerns is bad; but what is good can be distorted to where it is no longer a good. I think that makes it clear.
Played golf today for the first time this year (had a decent round of 76), so I got a late start.