LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Entry 3- Pocket Idols

A. W. Tozer once made the observation that “Grace will save a man but it will not save him and his idol”. I am sure that he meant to aim his arrow in an evangelical direction and point to the less than controvertible fact that the Lord saves lost people from their idols not with them. The converted sinner can not take his stone statues with him into the kingdom. When the true God calls, all false gods must be cast aside. But this truth can be applied to the Christian’s heart as well. We may not bow before images of chiseled stone or polished brass but let us not deceive ourselves into thinking that we are without our idols. The idols that most appeal to us are pocket idols; the kind that are outside the range of human eyesight but are there none the less to trip us up. One such idol is doctrine. You know the tags. We all use them. I am a Calvinist. You are an Arminian. We are Dispensationalists. They are Covenant theologians. He is this and she is that. Just add an “ian” or “ist” to virtually any word and you can form for yourself a new idol of dogma and doctrine that multitudes may be willing to follow. What am I really? If I answered that question fifteen years ago I probably would have identified myself as a Reformed Baptist with puritanical convictions and premillenial leanings. That is the idol I would have stuffed in my pocket. And if any disagreed with me I would have shown them, in a very pompous way, why they should leave their idol and come over to mine. I would never have admitted that I had an idol but that is why I carried it in my pocket. If it is out of sight it really doesn’t exist even if it is very much in my mind. You see I found, much to my displeasure, that I was so preoccupied with Calvin that I had almost forgotten my Christ. That is what happens when sound doctrine becomes a senseless idol. Doctrine is good when it causes us to think more of the Savior. It is bad and idolatrous when it causes us to dwell more on the teaching and less on the Person it is supposed to reflect. Now we must all concede that truth is indispensable. Teaching and doctrine both come from the same Greek root and underscore the fact that you cannot have true teaching without true doctrine. But doctrine by itself is sterile and lifeless. Dogma cannot pardon a lost soul. It is only the person of Christ that can save a wretch like me. What am I really? Well if answered today I hope, above and beyond all other things, I would say that I am a Christian. The doctrine is there. It just that I took it out of my pocket and put it where it belongs. What’s in your pocket?

22 Comments:

Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

“Grace will save a man but it will not save him and his idol”.

So we are saved by grace, plus giving up our idols.

July 11, 2007 3:54 AM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Matthew,
God gives through grace what he requires. When one is born again from God's power, he will give up his idol. This is a result of regeneratin, not a requirement for regeneration......... Same principle as we have discussed before.

July 11, 2007 8:10 AM

 
Blogger only1way said...

Jazzy -- I think Matthew knows that but he just woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning and is grumpy. The obvious turn here is that the potter saves the lump of clay to do something with it --- not just leave it a lump of clay. No man can serve two masters. When we are saved our allegience (sp?) turns from the false god(s) to the one and only true God.

July 11, 2007 8:28 AM

 
Blogger Gayla said...

Matthew,

::sigh::

July 11, 2007 10:31 AM

 
Blogger Scribe said...

Matthew,

Your apparent apprehensions seem to stem from aversions to biblical sacntification.

July 11, 2007 10:39 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Folks, Matthew has read Grudem's Systematic Theology at least once, and Berkhoff's at least twice.
So the next time he pulls this kind of Grace Evangelical Society stunt we shall... laugh. He knows better than this.

Matthew, spare us!

July 11, 2007 12:04 PM

 
Blogger Baptist Girl said...

Excellent Post John!

I have no problem with labels because it helps us understand a bit about what we think theologically. The problem is like you said when we get proccupid by our idols, we do inadvertently forget about Christ.

Cristina

July 11, 2007 12:20 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

As I sat in a shopping mall today, killing time between departure flights (my dad flew out early, my son in the evening), I was thinking about various Scriptures, when the obvious came to mind in that particular setting:

You cannot serve both God and money.

Almost immediately the next verse that came to mind was the love of money is the root of all evil.

The two together really got me thinking. It's one or the other. God or anything but God. There's no middle ground.

God or idols.

And anything can be an idol.

July 11, 2007 8:33 PM

 
Blogger Scribe said...

You cannot serve both God and money.

Almost immediately the next verse that came to mind was the love of money is the root of all evil.

The two together really got me thinking. It's one or the other. God or anything but God. There's no middle ground.

God or idols.

And anything can be an idol.


That would have been my next reply... do great minds really think alike? ;D

July 11, 2007 9:30 PM

 
Blogger only1way said...

There, of course, can be many other idols as well. How about church? That can be an idle. Children? Wow that's a biggy. Ministries? Yes even ministry if it is done for "ministry" sake can be an idol. Husbands? No chance of that, right ladies :-(
There can be many spokes but if Christ is not the hub than there is great danger of turning spokes into idols.

July 11, 2007 9:52 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

do great minds really think alike? ;D

Either that or simple minds.

My husband and I often say, "Even a blind hog comes across a chestnut now and again."

July 11, 2007 10:01 PM

 
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

AW Tozer was an Arminian, so you can expect a theologically confused statement from him.

Iknow perfectly well that you guys believe that sanctification is by grace (even Catholics would say that their works righteousness is by grace as well).

However, Tozer's statement is very clumsy and badly worded. Even you guys must admit that.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

July 12, 2007 3:38 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Matthew, you approach things from the FGT position (even you must admit that their theology is a dishonor to God, being repentance-less, Holy Spirit-less, conversion-less and very Pelagian) and therefore any reasoning from that position holds NO weight with those of us who are orthodox. Your novel ideas are what we use to line our trash cans.

I can't see how any truely regenerate person could be at all influenced by the Hodges/Wilkin system. I am sorry for you and your friends. May the Lord open your eyes.

July 12, 2007 6:25 AM

 
Blogger Scribe said...

AW Tozer was an Arminian, so you can expect a theologically confused statement from him.

A.W.Tozer was a man of God...to lump him into the arminian camp is immaterial. Matthew are you not an arminian too? And please do not assert that you are a "biblicist".

July 12, 2007 6:33 AM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Matthew,
The basic characteristic of defining an Arminian is election, not eternal security as you seem to think. This would make you very much an Arminian that believes in eternal security.

Wouldn't you say that eternal security would be the only point that you would disagree with five point Arminians?

July 12, 2007 7:58 AM

 
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I am a Synergist.

I know that Antonio denies being Synegistic, but I think that passive trust may be said to be co-operation with God, so I think I can accept that label.

Possibly I could be described as Semi-Pelagian, but as Semi means half, I could equally be called a Semi-Augustinian. As Pelagianism is heresy and Augustinianism is considered orthodox, I would suggest it is more polite to call somebody a Semi-Augustinian rather than a Semi-Pelagian.

Am I an Arminian?

I think that this term is unhelpful, because it is too historically ambigouos.

There are several movements that have been called Arminian:

1) The Remonstrants of Holland who embraced the theology of Jacob Arminius.

Arminius was quite moderate in his theology. He was closer to Calvinism than Semi-Augustinianism on total depravity and he was undecided on the issue of eternal security.

Personally, I do not identify with his theology, simply because he was essentially working within the theoogical categories of Reformed Calvinism, while challenging its conclusions.

I certainly would not want to be identified with his Remonstrant followers, most notably Hugo Grotius. These people moved in a decidely Liberal and infidel direction.

2) The word Arminian has been applied to High Church Anglicans, particularly in the 17th century who opposed Calvinism and who viewed the Church of England as a Via Media between Catholicism and Protestantism.

I have little affinity with these people.

3) The word Arminian is also applied to the Wesleyan tradition.

I fundamentally reject their denial of eternal security and their Perfectionist view of sanctification.

Some of them also uphold Hugo Grotius' erroneus theory of Governmental Atonement and thus deny the substitutionary character of the cross.

There is also a tendency in the Wesleyan tradition to reject the Verbal Inspiration and Inerrancy of the Bible.



I would thus suggest that to call any Evangelical Christian who rejects a Calvinistic view of election as Arminian is unhelpful and imprecise.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

July 12, 2007 8:53 AM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Matthew,
Thank you for your explanation. Does not Synergism make the whole salvation process a human decision?
(Grace aided, but requiring a human decision.) That is the semi-Pelagian view is it not?

Do you see all human beings receiving the same identical amount of grace from God so as to make it "fair"?

July 12, 2007 9:24 AM

 
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Wayne, there is an human element involved.

God is under no obligation to show grace to anyone. If He does not give an equal opportunity to all to receive grace, that is no matter for human complaint.

But it seems doubtful that God should withold all opportunty for some.

God Bless

Matthew

July 12, 2007 2:21 PM

 
Blogger Gojira said...

Hi John, That was an excellent post.

Cristina, Amen.

July 12, 2007 2:37 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Do you see all human beings receiving the same identical amount of grace from God so as to make it "fair"?

Wayne,
This is an interesting question for non-Calvinists.
We've been 'round the bend and then some between Cs and non-Cs on this, but I think this question would make a good post.

July 12, 2007 6:23 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Susan,
Actually we already have..... see April 2 post.

Matthew answered it much better here than I remember anyone doing then.

July 12, 2007 7:01 PM

 
Blogger ROD WILLETT said...

I do not believe heaven will have doctrinal labels; so we should do our best to avoid them now.

July 12, 2007 11:11 PM

 

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