Monday, November 06, 2006

Gospel v. Moralism

I'm enjoying everyone's thoughts here on whether or not the 1940's was "The Greatest Generation" (Tom Brokaw's terminology, not mine), just as bad as our current generation, or even far worse. I think it would be helpful to clarify the difference between an outwardly "good" society, and a society permeated with the Gospel.

My only point in posting the article was to contrast (very briefly) the society of the 1940's with today's society. I find the difference in childhood expectations, parental and child responsibility, respect, and outward morality to be great. The important thing to remember, though, and I should have clarified this when I posted, was that "good works" does not a good man make. It is far easier in many ways for parents to teach their children godly principles if those principles are also generally supported by the society, or at least not flagrantly disregarded. But only Jesus can do helpless sinners good.

The Gospel is the opposite of moralism. Let me say that again. The Gospel is the opposite of moralism. Moralism is an attempt to make ourselves good enough before God and man. The Gospel tells us we can never make ourselves good enough. We are so utterly corrupt that we need someone else to cleanse us from the inside out. We cannot earn our own righteousness. We need Christ's righteousness. If our goal as Christians is merely to get back to the 1940's, or the 1800's, or whatever our preferred ideal era, then we are far too unambitious. The story of the Bible is one of redemption, not merely from outward evils, but most of all from inward evils. We are our own worst enemies.

So let's enjoy past decades and appreciate the great men and women who have gone before us. But ultimately we must realize that God is sovereign. He placed us in this century for a purpose. It took me years to truly be greatful to be born in this time period, and that gratitude to God only came when I began to appreciate and grasp (in a small way) His sovereignty.

Also, let's remind each other of the great work God is doing in the world here and now. Look at the great progress of the Gospel in Asia and Latin America. We must pray in faith for a revival to sweep our land as well. Christ is reigning, and someday He will reign in all His fulness. Thanks be to God!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.


Jessie said...

Blogger just ate my comment! And it was such a good one too : (
I was feeling quite inspired, but now it's gone, all gone. Oh well. I'll have to leave it up to y'all's imaginations to figure out what it was I was saying. I almost can't remember, myself, right now! Here today, gone tomorrow, that's how it is sometimes.
Susan, maybe you and I and Hannah should all collaberate on a work of nonfiction entitled, Living the Blonde Life: Reflections on the pains and joys of light-headed living. I think we could make in to the Times bestseller list, don't you??

zan said...

I would buy that book. : )

I agree with you, Susan. Even though past societies in history looked moral they were still sinful. I do think that due to media and the common trend of blaming everyone for their problems that immorality is being accepted today. Immorality in the church is be tolerated. Society will never turn around until the church repents. Our sermon was on this very subject yesterday.

I get a lot of Catholic news since my parents have been on their long journey to Catholism. One thing that I agreed was was how the Catholic church (one could argue Protestant, as well) tolerates sin. RC's are some of the most pro-life people you will ever meet. Why do they tolerate members like Ted Kennedy and John Kerry. These men support policies to kill human life. I heard one priest say that their parishes should be removed from Rome (or whatever Catholics do to cut off rebellious churches). It makes no sense that Rome would tolerate such garbage when it goes against their beliefs.I really had to hand it to that priest.

I don't think our society will ever be generally moral again until the church repents.

Becky Miller said...

This is something I've been contemplating as I read the Anne books again...Montgomery obviously knew the Bible (the books are full of Biblical allusions) and she writes a lot about good morals and church membership...yet the characters think that those things alone will get them into heaven. No talk at all of a real relationship with's an interesting look at the "Christian culture" of bygone days.

I just read the chapter in Anne of the Island about Ruby Gillis dying. I want to use that in teaching a class or something someday and talk about living for eternity now.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Susan. I find it hard to be grateful for the time in which I live, especially in regard to matters like sexuality and male and female roles. It seems like these things were much more in line with my idea of what is Biblical in many past generations than they are now . . . and sometimes I despair of being able to live out what I believe! However, I remind myself that God has placed me in this time for a reason! It is not a mistake! If I had lived long ago, there would no doubt have been other areas where the prevailing culture (even in the church) grated against what I believed to be Biblical. We must work to rejoice in the time God has given us.

Thanks for your thoughts on the Anne books, Becky. I have often thought the same thing myself. However, technically they should have known how we are saved because they were always learning the catechism. They had no excuse if they didn't realise, since it is all included there! I always cry when Ruby dies.

Susan said...

Now I'm going to be up late(r) tonight, Jessie, wondering what you were going to say! I really should be in bed, but my inbox is calling to be emptied, and Bible study is cancelled tomorrow, due to elections. So I don't have to get up so early in order to squeeze in a walk beforehand. At least, that's my excuse. And I love the book title idea. Light-headed living. Nice alliteration there :).

The variation within the Catholic church has always mystified me as well, Zan. Most of the policies by the Pope and councils are completely ignored by most Catholics. But then I look at Evangelical Christians and I could say the same thing. Our divorce rate is as high, and I think so is our teenage pregnancy rate. Only 32% of American, self-identified "Christian" teens believe in moral absolutes. That's scary. And 85% of covenant children will leave the church by the end of college.

Susan said...

*then glances down and remembers other comments* ;) Long day. That's my excuse. . .

Becky, I must say that your example of L.M. Montgomery is perfect. I've often pondered the interesting portrayal of religion, Presbyterianism, God, and faith, as given by L.M.M. That passage in which Ruby Gillis dies is one of the most poignant L.M.M. penned, and she penned some very poignant passages!

Sherrin, I really liked what you said about working to rejoice in the time God has given us. Here that has an interesting double meaning! We rejoice in the time (numbered days) that we live on this earth, and we also rejoice in the time (era) He has given us. Very reminiscent of Ecclesiastes! :)

zan said...

I think I saw the same stats about the church that you just shared. It is very sad and scary. I fear for my children.

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