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Entries in secular humanism (2)


Our glorious restoration: Better than what Adam and Eve once had.

The opposite of grace is self-righteousness and self-improvement. 

"Self-righteous" doesn't mean being holier-than-thou or a goodie two-shoes.  It means having to make a flawless case for yourself - to justify everything you've ever done or thought.  Self-righteousness is a declaration that you've never wounded anyone, never withdrawn love, never acted in a way that violates any relationship you've ever had.

It is a claim to moral perfection, or at least superiority; because you can always point to someone who's screwed up more than you. 

Who in the world would want to make that case for themselves?  Self-justification is exhausting and Jesus wants to release us from the terrible burden of self-righteousness and self-improvement.

Christianity is a release from the self-improvement, comparison-based ["I'm not as bad as that guy, but better than this guy"], sliding-scale of "being good."  How do you ever know when you're good enough?  It's an impossible burden.

The only person whose righteousness and goodness is self-authenticating is Jesus.  The rest of us get to borrow his goodness. 

I think any time we want to put human goodness [rather than Christ-given goodness, given to those who want to know him] on the scales of justice, we badly misunderstand Adam and Eve.  We assume that because they blew it, they must have been just like usThe were not.  Before their Fall, they had hearts that had never known sin.  Can you image what it must have been like to:

  • Never feel selfish,

  • Never feel doubt,

  • Never feel like God owed you something or was holding out on you,

  • Never have an addiction or lust for an empty substitute? 

  • Never desire anything more than what God has already given?

  • Never withhold love from anyone at any time?

  • Never feeling unloved?


The tragedy of ruin:
Our ruin [the Fall that every human since has inherited] was so dramatic because of the heights from which we fell.  We fell from the stars, dropping through cold space, plumetting through mesosphere, stratosphere and bird-winged sky; sinking like a chain-wrapped corpse to the bottom of the deepest ocean trench, a mile below the water's surface where darkness creates blindness. 

Adam and Eve became specters of their former selves.  They let the Thief in through the window.  Put themselves and their children in front of the oncoming bus.  Humanity's inherited ruin is so deep because our former glory was so stunning.  We fell far because we were once so much more.

And that's what is nearly impossible for us to conceive.  That's why we want to cling to our pre-Christ, soiled goodness.

Here's the astounding news.
When God gives you a new heart, his indwelling goodness, he restores you to a glory exceeding what Adam and Eve possessed before the Fall:

“For God is not merely mending, not simply restoring a status quo.  Redeemed humanity is to be something more glorious than unfallen humanity.” – C.S. Lewis

Read that again. 

A person who trusts Jesus' rescue and is restored by Jesus' work, has a capacity that Adam and Eve did not -- even in Adam and Eve's pre-Fall, unblemished and shame-less state.  And that person has a more glorious-than-unfallen-nature right now.  Not just in heaven.  Now!

Living in that truth will bring a genuine sense of humility and deep gratitude to the heart.  In Christ, the degree of our restoration has surpassed the degree of our ruin.



Is 'grace' the new secular humanism?

I'll tell you why I raise the question:  For many in the grace movement (of which I consider myself a part), there is the subtle transition away from the distinctive work of Christ for us (and the radical problem of personal evil it solves) towards a secular-humanism with a nod to Jesus, (but a revised Jesus.) This new 'grace' is a constraint-free, fully-permissive grace (but not 'profitable') that permits the adherent to believe whatever suits him or her.   

This revised grace flows from a reconstructed version of Scripture that no longer values absolutes:  Everything is now fluid and flexible.   This has happened in large part because of postmodernism's affect upon the Church, as much as anywhere else.  It has resulted in the deconstruction of everything, leaving many in the Church to develop their own stories piecemeal, and according to their own tastes...and wounds.  (Our unhealed wounds lead us far more than we know.)

This new grace is also a reaction to the failures of institutional ideals (and there are many).  I  myself was deeply wounded by the institutionalized version of the 'gospel.'  In many ways, an initial polarization against the things that once bound us is completely normal....as long as we don't stay there.  Healthy development means continuously reassessing our current position so that we are lead to truer and deeper freedom in Christ. 

Grace is a great thing, but it is not license to construct our own versions of the Gospel.   I'm not even sure you need Jesus with this new and revised grace, nor do you need the testimony about him and his cure for the human condition as described in the scriptures.   Many no longer even hold the Scriptures as the final authority against which all other voices are measured.  (God does speak to our hearts outside of Scripture, but never in contradiction to it.  So how do you evaluate what you hear if you've discarded the template altogether?)

Secular humanism, under the guise of 'grace' doesn't lead us into reality any better than the storylines we followed before we met Christ;  for it becomes unhinged from the actual person and restoring work of the actual Jesus.  This altered humanistic distortion of grace reconstructs the Gospel, leaving each of its adherents coccooned in their private plot-lines and fragmented narratives.  How is that helpful?


Have you seen this dynamic at work?  Do you agree, disagree?