Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Moral Victory

Hooray! In the publishing world I know there is a lot of editing and cutting that is done, so one shouldn't be surprised if something they've written has been deleted when it hits the presses. But I'm happy to report to you that I just survived a close call.

A little while back, I was asked if I would write an article for a special issue of the Adventist Review that focused on the Beatitudes (the Review, for the few of you who are not Seventh-day Adventists, is our church's official weekly publication). All the articles would be written by people in their 20s and 30s, so it would be looking at the Beatitudes from "our" perspective (although, curiously, one of my friends who is nowhere near that age range snuck in there and has an article in the issue. I won't tell you who it is so as not to "out" him or her).

I chose to write on the Beatitude "Blessed are the pure in heart." Thing is, towards the end of the article I also "snuck" in something of my own - a quote from a book by one of my former Seminary professors (to be completely honest, I didn't try to "sneak" it in at all). Someone contacted me from the magazine and asked me if I could "finesse" the quote a little more to make it jive with "Adventist theology" better. Problem is, how can you finesse someone else's quote?

At the same time, I am not sure how much more "Adventist" this quote could be. This is nothing against the magazine at all, or the individual who contacted me about it, but this plain idea has been at the heart of Adventist theology for over 100 years. Sadly, most of the Church has forgotten this truth, while many others have abused it (hence, the reaction).

So when I looked at the finished product today, I was thrilled to see that they left the quote in (I assumed that they would, since they told me that they would not change anything without informing me). Not a huge deal, but a moral victory, indeed. I do believe that the quote brings home the point I was trying to make in the article. To leave it out would deprive the readers of an important element of my message.

And what was the quote that was a bit troubling?

By His Spirit, God can speed up the spiritual growth of His people so that they outgrow sin. By cleansing His people and presenting them to Himself without blemish, Christ works Himself out of the job of forgiving sins. He does not walk off the job. We could say that He is "laid off" from this work because there are no more forgivable sins to forgive.

What do you think about it? The quote is taken, by the way, from Roy Gane's book, Altar Call.


Johnny Workentine said...

I can see why they didn't like your quote:

Dingo said...

That quote is so richly radical in wording. It doesn't state things quite the way we're used to. But then, probably the Biblical bases for it were also richly radical at the time they were written.

When I first heard this kind of thing, it was like catching a taste of something I had longed for painfully for my whole life, and yet had not dared to believe, even though the Bible seemed to teach it.

Isn't that quote pretty much the same as growing "unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ"?

Thank God I can be, through the grace of the cross, more and more "a partaker of the divine nature". when Jesus comes back, I can be "found of him in peace, without spot and blameless."

It is so awesome that Jesus is capable of washing us so clean that when He comes to claim His people, He will be able to present us "to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."

Praise God for letting the quote stand.

Shawn Brace said...

Thank you for your thoughts, Johnny and Dingo. For the life of me, I have never understood why an idea that promises total recovery from the disease of sin has been so despised. It's as if people think it's the worst news in the world!

Unfortunately, many of us have cast it in a bad light, making it bad news, but when properly understood and presented, it's the the Gospel in its totality!

Blake said...

I like the quote Shawn. I think the concept of victory over sin is good news if we see how bad sin really is. But of course, for those who want their cake and to eat it too (i.e. keep my sin and my savior/salvation)then the idea of victory over sin is not that appealing. Also, I think if we understand that victory over sin is achieved by dying to self (not by just trying hard) and that it is a process (as death by crucifixion is a process - Gal 2:20) then I think the idea of victory over sin and self is some very good news. What do you think about how victory over sin is achieved? I'd be interested in your thoughts. And please don't treat me with kid gloves if you think I'm wrong. I'd like to hear your take. Good to catch up with you my friend. God bless... – Blake

PS - enjoyed reading your comments on the Bible and homosexuality on the spectrum blog. I agreed with what you said. I find it spooky that there are influential people in our church that have such a non-biblical worldview...but that's another topic for another day. Blessings!

Shawn Brace said...


You ask a very relevant question - one that I have been thinking a bit about recently in a round-about way. I think what you have shared is on target for the most part.

At the core, it is about dying to self. But how is that achieved? I think it can only be accomplished when we look to the cross and are humbled by Christ's agape love there. There is a reason why (presumably) Paul writes in Hebrews, when he tells us to "lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us," to look "unto Jesus."

At the same time, there are sins that we commit that we are not even aware of. If we want total victory and cleansing we must come to the place, like David, where we ask the Lord to reveal all those unknown and secret sins that we cherish. As David writes, "Cleanse me from secret faults" (Psa 19:12). I know that I am not too willing to go there in my sinful nature!

Does this help? Would love to continue the discussion if you so desire!

Bulworth said...

The Beatitudes issue was the best Adventist Review I've read in years.