Wednesday, January 07, 2004

I was going back through The Purpose-Driven Life, and I realized that to properly satirize this book, the satire should not be The Purposeless-Driven Life, but The Law-Driven Life. The key to the whole book is in one paragraph in the first chapter.

God has not left us in the dark to wonder and guess [about our purpose]. He has clearly revealed his five purposes for our lives through the Bible. It is our Owner's Manual, explaining why we are alive, how life works, what to avoid, and what to expect in the future. It explains what no self-help or philosophy book could know. (P. 20, 2nd full paragraph, bold emphasis mine)

The problem with satirizing this book is that the book is the ultimate satire of itself. I could not have said it better myself. The ultimate problem with this book (and the rest of the garbage that American Evangelicalism puts out) is that it assumes the Bible is a self-help book. The problem with that assumption is that it denigrates the primary purpose of the Bible: to reveal God's plan of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible is there to reveal the Gospel. If you start out with a bad assumption, it can be assumed most of the conclusions derived from that assumption are also bad. As far as I have read, this is true of this book. All that can, that will replace the Gospel is the Law. If Christ crucified is not our central focal point (the Theology of the Cross), the natural religion of man, the law (the theology of glory) will rush in to replace it. Ultimately, The problem with The Purpose -Driven Life is that it replaces the cross with two stone tablets and expect that to be enough motivation for us to live as Christians. Rather, they become two millstones hanging around our necks, trying to choke us. Only through a proper distinction between law and gospel can the millstone be lifted from our hearts and, thus, live a life of thanksgiving, not because the law commands us, but because we love our Lord. Then, and only then, do we live a truly purpose-driven life.

I have not mentioned a couple of wonderful books I received on Christmas Day. The first is The Defense Never Rests: A lawyer's quest for the gospel by Craig Parton. I cannot thank Mr. Parton enough for showing the insanity that is American Evangelicalism and why Lutheranism is the answer. It even goes into how the arts can be an apologetic tool and uses the example of J.S. Bach. The Fifth Evangelist is still proclaiming the cross of Christ long after he has fallen asleep. May God continue to bless our Church with great artists who proclaim the Gospel of Christ. The second book is On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflection on Luther's Heidelberg Disputation, 1518 by Gerhard O. Forde. I can hear the groans now. "Why are you reading a book by an ELCA professor?" I would like to mention this book was highly recommended by one of the most confessional men I know: Todd Wilken. Anyway, this book is slow reading, even though it is highly readable. Dr. Forde packs a lot into his writing, so you have to reread what he wrote to make sure you caught everything. Even so, the little I have read, is well worth your time. He makes the pertinent point that everyone is a theologian. We all think about God at some point. It is just most of us are, naturally, very bad theologians. We have a tendency to try to save ourselves by the law (the theology of glory) rather than receive the love of God through his Son's death (the theology of the cross). He uses the Heidelberg Disputation as the means of conveying what a theologian of the cross does. I will try to give a more complete review when the book is finished.

Have a Blessed Epiphany season. Speaking of which, Epiphany is possibly the most misunderstood and underappreciated season in the Church Year. Take some time to meditate on the fact Epiphany celebrates our savior revealed to the Gentiles. Search the Stars.

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