In good curmudgeonly fashion, I will forgo the tradition of resolutions for 2007. Instead, I offer refusals, negations, denials. I soon turn 50 after the beginning of the year, so these refusals are born out of the gravity of aging and the thirst to make the most of the time God gives us in this vaporous life. But with every refusal comes an "instead," or an affirmation. Every true curmudgeon (in the sense defined and, I hope, illustrated on this blog) denies only because he is utterly enthralled by the transcendent Ideal, the divine Yes.
1. I refuse to waste time on trivia: that means 95% of popular culture. Instead, I will center on study, teaching, preaching, writing, and mentoring.
2. I refuse to accept the anti-intellectualism (and even misology) of American evangelicalism. Instead I will teach, preach, and write in ways that demand concentration; I will write what ignites the intellect; I will preach as deeply as I can and dare you to come with me.
3. I refuse to dumb down anything, anywhere, any time. Instead I will inspire people to rise to the occasion intellectually.
4. I refuse to join those Christians who seldom read or reflect on the Bible. Instead I will read it, reread it, study it, memorize it, and meditate on it. I will try to incorporate it increasingly into my thoughts and words.
5. I refuse to seek no more than "personal peace and affluence" (as Francis Schaeffer put it thirty years ago) for my life. Instead, I will contribute to Kingdom endeavors here and abroad.
6. I refuse to tolerate bad preaching, superficial books, or kitschy Christian culture (Precious Moments, Thomas Kinkaide, etc., ad nauseum). Instead I will seek out the best, praise it, and challenge underachievers to climb higher.
7. I refuse to ever play a video game. Instead, I will look for Kingdom opportunities in the land of the living.
8. I refuse to waste time on small talk. Instead, I will endeavor to make all my words count for eternity.
9. I refuse to speak in cliches or outworn adjectives ("awesome," "cool," etc.). Instead I will try to find the right word for the right thought. Or say nothing.
10. I refuse to pose. Instead, I will live.
11. I refuse to accept the de facto deism of so many evangelicals who do not seek God for supernatural manifestations of Christ's Kingdom (healing, signs and wonders). Instead, I will seek (but never presume upon) God's miraculous, supernatural presence in this dark world.
12. I refuse to confine the Kingdom of God to America. Instead, I will keep an eagle eye for ways I can bless, encourage, and edify Christ-followers around the world.
13. I refuse to consign Christian women to second-class status in the church, the home, or the world. Instead, I will support and encourage gifted women to serve God in accord with their gifts and opportunities.
14. I refuse to preach only to the choir, to limit my ministry to the church, Christian school, parachurch, and so on. Instead, I will in every way possible seek to inject Christian truth creatively into culture through my writing and teaching, to colonize alien lands with truths not normally found there.
15. I refuse to follow any trend simply because it is a trend. Instead, I will seek to discern the hand of God in the world.
None of this can be achieved in my own power: "Yet not I but Christ who lives in me."
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Fifteeen Refusals for 2007
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Fantastic post - I'm going to share it with friends. Thank you for your ministry Douglas!
Cool post, Doug. And DIFFERENT! But I hope there will also be room in your new life for a little frivolity, humor, pause, wonder, and maybe a video game or two if the occasion calls for it.
we wouldnt want you turning crusty in your 50's . . .
This is a fantastic post! I recently made a similar resolve for myself when I turned 41, though not as eloquent and lengthy. In the end all that counts is bearing fruit for the Lord. The older one gets the more fruit there will be. So getting on is a blessing for the committed Christian.
May I offer a 16th refusal? My life shall not be characterized by lack of prayer. Instead I shall diligently seek out the right moment each day to spend time before the Lord. For it is by prayer that things change.
Great post. I agree, but am afraid I will miss on at least a few of those points. I am not, however, content with mediocrity.
What don't you get?
I agree on the prayer issue. I should have included that.
Here's my renewal of commitments.
Nothing new, but certainly vital.
1. I affirm that the Gospel entrusted to the church is, in the first instance, God’s Gospel (Mark 1:14; Rom. 1:1). God is its author, and he reveals it to us in and by his Word. Its authority and truth rest on him alone. I deny that the truth or authority of the Gospel derives from any human insight or invention (Gal. 1:1-11). I also deny that the truth or authority of the Gospel rests on the authority of any particular church or human institution.
2. I affirm that the Gospel is the saving power of God in that the Gospel effects salvation to everyone who believes, without distinction (Rom. 1:16). This efficacy of the Gospel is by the power of God himself (1 Cor. 1:18). I deny that the power of the Gospel rests in the eloquence of the preacher, the technique of the evangelist, or the persuasion of rational argument (1 Cor. 1:21; 2:1-5).
3. I affirm that the Gospel diagnoses the universal human condition as one of sinful rebellion against God, which, if unchanged, will lead each person to eternal loss under God's condemnation. I deny any rejection of the fallenness of human nature or any assertion of the natural goodness, or divinity, of the human race.
4. I affirm that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation, the only mediator between God and humanity (John 14:6; 1 Tim. 2:5). I deny that anyone is saved in any other way than by Jesus Christ and his Gospel. The Bible offers no hope that sincere worshipers of other religions will be saved without personal faith in Jesus Christ.
5. I affirm that the church is commanded by God and is therefore under divine obligation to preach the Gospel to every living person (Luke 24:47; Matt. 28:18-19). I deny that any particular class or group of persons, whatever their ethnic or cultural identity, may be ignored or passed over in the preaching of the Gospel (1 Cor. 9:19-22). God purposes a global church made up from people of every tribe, language, and nation (Rev. 7:9).
6. I affirm that faith in Jesus Christ as the divine Word (or Logos, John 1:1), the second Person of the Trinity, co-eternal and co-essential with the Father and the Holy Spirit (Heb. 1:3), is foundational to faith in the Gospel. I deny that any view of Jesus Christ which reduces or rejects his full deity is Gospel faith or will avail to salvation.
7. I affirm that Jesus Christ is God incarnate (John 1:14). The virgin-born descendant of David (Rom. 1:3), he had a true human nature, was subject to the Law of God (Gal. 4:5), and was like us at all points, except without sin (Heb. 2:17, 7:26-28). I affirm that faith in the true humanity of Christ is essential to faith in the Gospel. I deny that anyone who rejects the humanity of Christ, his incarnation, or his sinlessness, or who maintains that these truths are not essential to the Gospel, will be saved (1 John 4:2-3).
8. I affirm that the atonement of Christ by which, in his obedience, he offered a perfect sacrifice, propitiating the Father by paying for our sins and satisfying divine justice on our behalf according to God’s eternal plan, is an essential element of the Gospel. I deny that any view of the Atonement that rejects the substitutionary satisfaction of divine justice, accomplished vicariously for believers, is compatible with the teaching of the Gospel.
9. I affirm that Christ’s saving work included both his life and his death on our behalf (Gal. 3:13). I declare that faith in the perfect obedience of Christ by which he fulfilled all the demands of the Law of God in our behalf is essential to the Gospel. I deny that our salvation was achieved merely or exclusively by the death of Christ without reference to his life of perfect righteousness.
10. I affirm that the bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead is essential to the biblical Gospel (1 Cor. 15:14). I deny the validity of any so-called gospel that denies the historical reality of the bodily resurrection of Christ.
11. I affirm that the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone in Christ alone is essential to the Gospel (Rom. 3:28; 4:5; Gal. 2:16). I deny that any person can believe the biblical Gospel and at the same time reject the apostolic teaching of justification by faith alone in Christ alone. I also deny that there is more than one true Gospel (Gal. 1:6-9).
12. I affirm that the doctrine of the imputation (reckoning or counting) both of my sins to Christ and of his righteousness to us, whereby our sins are fully forgiven and I am fully accepted, is essential to the biblical Gospel (2 Cor. 5:19-21). I deny that I am justified by the righteousness of Christ infused into me or by any righteousness that is thought to inhere within me.
13. I affirm that the righteousness of Christ by which I am justified is properly his own, which he achieved apart from us, in and by his perfect obedience. This righteousness is counted, reckoned, or imputed to us by the forensic (that is, legal) declaration of God, as the sole ground of our justification. I deny that any works I perform at any stage of our existence add to the merit of Christ or earn for us any merit that contributes in any way to the ground of our justification (Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).
14. I affirm that, while all believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and are in the process of being made holy and conformed to the image of Christ, those consequences of justification are not its ground. God declares us just, remits our sins, and adopts us as his children, by his grace alone, and through faith alone, because of Christ alone, while I am still a sinner (Rom. 4:5). I deny that believers must be inherently righteous by virtue of their cooperation with God’s life-transforming grace before God will declare them justified in Christ. I am justified while I am still a sinner.
15. I affirm that saving faith results in sanctification, the transformation of life in growing conformity to Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Sanctification means ongoing repentance, a life of turning from sin to serve Jesus Christ in grateful reliance on him as one’s Lord and Master (Gal. 5:22-25; Rom. 8:4, 13-14). I reject any view of justification which divorces it from our sanctifying union with Christ and our increasing conformity to his image through prayer, repentance, cross-bearing, and life in the Spirit.
16. I affirm that saving faith includes mental assent to the content of the Gospel, acknowledgment of our own sin and need, and personal trust and reliance upon Christ and his work. I deny that saving faith includes only mental acceptance of the Gospel, and that justification is secured by a mere outward profession of faith. I further deny that any element of saving faith is a meritorious work or earns salvation for us.
17. I affirm that, although true doctrine is vital for spiritual health and well-being, I am not saved by doctrine. Doctrine is necessary to inform us how I may be saved by Christ, but it is Christ who saves. I deny that the doctrines of the Gospel can be rejected without harm. Denial of the Gospel brings spiritual ruin and exposes us to God’s judgment.
18. I affirm that Jesus Christ commands his followers to proclaim the Gospel to all living persons, evangelizing everyone everywhere, and discipling believers within the fellowship of the church. A full and faithful witness to Christ includes the witness of personal testimony, godly living, and acts of mercy and charity to our neighbor, without which the preaching of the Gospel appears barren. I deny that the witness of personal testimony, godly living, and acts of mercy and charity to our neighbors constitutes evangelism apart from the proclamation of the Gospel.
Congradulations! You won a Watchman Awards over at The Watchman for writing a great article!
The Watchman Awards
I refuse to waste time on trivia: that means 95% of popular culture. Instead, I will center on study, teaching, preaching, writing, and mentoring.
I find that contact with popular culture is critical to evangelism, just like knowing the native language is important for missionaries. How will we proclaim the gospel if we refuse to speak the language of those who need it, and hold it in utter contempt?
Some people would say (I am not one of them, but they say this to me frequently) that blogging itself violates most of the refusals you have listed here. When they say it to me, I accept it as a criticism of the kind of blog I write and move on.
How would you respond to the comment that if you blog you have necessarily violated principles like being serious, intellectually-challenging, peace-seeking, Kingdom-building, and unsuperficial?
I have a follow-up, based on your response, and I thank you for your time.
I hope my blog is not trivial!
You can understand much of pop culture without directly experiencing it. I often know more about it than other seminary profs even though I never watch TV, don't play video games, and so on. I read, you see. I also talk to people.
And I am not without opportunities to engage unbelievers on many levels.
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