the reason for god

This interview with Tim Keller is pretty, pretty good (c Larry David)…..

Here’s a quote that resonated with me:

“C. S. Lewis says somewhere not to believe in Christianity because it’s relevant or exciting or personally satisfying. Believe it because it’s true. And if it’s true, it eventually will be relevant, exciting, and personally satisfying. But there will be many times when it’s not relevant, exciting, and personally satisfying. To be a Christian is going to be very, very hard. So unless you come to it simply because it’s really the truth, you really won’t live the Christian life, and you won’t get to the excitement and to the relevance and all that other stuff.”

sacraments

March 24, 2008

Protestants need to rediscover the sacraments. There are certain ways that God’s presence is made more real within a community of believers. God’s grace is his presence –his opening up of himself to us. We treat “grace” as some sort of substance that is “imputed” to people based on certain “merits”. It’s like a huge point system. Protestants don’t even recognize that they are taking on the medieval Catholic viewpoint that led to the theology of indulgences.

Eastern Orthodoxy has helped me see that the goal of our lives shouldn’t be to obtain some sort of “grace” based on a specific kind of “faith”, but rather we should follow God’s commands and ask for his presence to help us live within his divine life. That is salvation to me. I’m not looking for some sort of fire insurance anymore. Instead, I’m looking for God’s presence in everything and every situation, and praying for his mercy to help me to accept him in all of my life. God’s got enough grace for all of us, but his grace is his presence and nothing less. He came down to our level so that we could be raised up to his level and share the beautiful communion that the Trinity shares. That’s salvation, and that’s grace.

So how does this relate to sacraments? Well, sacraments (Greek: mysteries, or “divine mysteries” if you’d like) are ways in which God allows us to experience himself tangibly. It’s a whole worldview that needs to change. True, Christ is present in communion, marriage, baptism, etc. But he is also present in so many other ways if we have eyes to see him. How do we do that? By purifying our hearts by striving and putting forth effort in his power. In the Beatitudes in Matthew, Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” At the same time it is “not of works, it is the gift of God.”

Evangelical protestants put huge emphasis on “preaching the word”. It becomes almost magical that somehow by hearing these divine ideas, our lives are changed. I wouldn’t want to disparage this viewpoint too much, but I’d like to point out that this is very close to what high-church people call a sacrament. I believe that God’s holy word rightly preached, explained, and used with a worshipful heart is a sacrament. But let’s not forget about all of the other ways in which God makes his graceful presence known.