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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Saving Wretches Like You and Me

Part II

Today’s blog brings to a conclusion Keith Drury’s compelling commentary on John Newton’s hymn, Amazing Grace (see Saving Wretches Like You and Me, Part I, Monday, January 7, 2008). He writes, “Self-esteem theology teaches us we’re deserving. Being basically good we expect basically good things to happen to us. We expect God to provide money for our new house, college tuition, and funds for our latest adventure in missionary tourism. We expect good health and a fulfilling life and good grades and pretty girlfriends and a husband that meets the criteria on the list we made at youth camp. We are entitled to these things. So why be grateful when we get them? We abhor sacrifice and suffering for ourselves and only love the idea when the stories are about people far in the past or far away on the planet. Being fairly good people we think we deserve a fairly good life. Even heaven is nothing to get excited about—after all, God has such a crush on us—where else could he send us? This is why we tune in to preachers who will tell us how good we are and how much God is totally absorbed with blessing us with material possessions, fulfillment in our careers and really great sex lives. Is the reason Christ died—for cars and promotions and good sex?

“Of course, there are occasional sour notes in the choir. They usually come from some conservative reminding us of our total depravity. These guys take Romans 7:24 seriously—they believe that we all are wretched. They string verses like Job 25:4-6 and Psalm 22:6 with the Romans verse to make a necklace of wretchedness and wormlyhood. They claim that even our good deeds are besmirched by sin. You were bad before you were saved and you are still bad now. Nothing good lies within you. You are wretched and poor and blind and naked. You are a worm! It is only by God’s grace that you are set free—so be grateful!

“The rest of us just sing louder and drown out these sour notes. There are far more choir members singing songs of self-esteem than conservatives singing songs of total depravity. Since we’ve already rejected their “worm theology” we just ignore their warnings. We continue to preach a happy face doctrine of self esteem. People like it. Which is why so many on Sundays have changed the lyrics of Amazing Grace. We might think John Newton [along with the homeless, addicts, jobless and all other losers] was a wretch and worm, but not us, thank you very much. We’re far better than that.”

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