Posted tagged ‘Richard Lovelace’

Rob Bell: Your Concept of Love Is Not Credible

July 13, 2011

Richard Lovelace, some 32 years ago, had some great words for Rob Bell and those who would argue that “love wins” where there is no wrath and reality of hell. Lovelace writes:

“The cross is the perfect statement both of God’s wrath against sin and of the depth of his love and mercy in the recovery of the damaged creation and its damagers.  God’s mercy, patience, and love must be fully preached in the church.  But they are not credible unless they are presented in tension with God’s infinite power, complete and sovereign control of the universe, holiness, and righteousness.  And where God’s righteousness is clearly presented, compassionate warnings of his holy anger against sin must be given, and warnings also of the certainty of divine judgment in endless alienation from God which will be unimaginably worse than the literal descriptions of hell.  It is no wonder that the world and the church are not awakened when our leadership is either singing a lullaby concerning these matters or presenting them in a caricature which is so grotesque that it is unbelievable.

The tension between God’s holy righteousness and his compassionate mercy cannot be legitimately resolved by remolding his character into an image of pure benevolence as the church did in the nineteenth century.  There is only one way that this contradiction can be removed: through the cross of Christ which reveals the severity of God’s anger against sin and the depth of his compassion in paying its penalty through the vicarious sacrifice of his Son.  In systems which resolve this tension by softening the character of God, Christ and his work become an addendum, and spiritual darkness becomes complete because the true God has been abandoned for the worship of a magnified image of human tolerance.”

BOOM.

– Richard Lovelace, Dynamics for Spiritual Life, 84-85 (emphasis mine).

When Justification Is Marginalized

July 7, 2010

Check this powerful excerpt describing nominal Christianity evidenced when “the dynamic of justification” is marginalized:

“The ultimate concern of most church members is not the worship and service of Christ in evangelistic mission and social compassion, but rather survival and success in their secular vocation.  The church is a spoke on the wheel of life connected to a secular hub.  It is a departmental subconcern, not the organizing center of all other concerns.  Church members who have been conditioned all their lives to devote themselves to building their own kingdom and whose flesh naturally gravitates in that direction anyway find it hard to invest much energy in the kingdom of God.  They go to church once or twice a week and punch the clock, so to speak, fulfilling their ‘church obligation’ by sitting passively and listening critically or approvingly to the pastor’s teaching.

[ . . .] Since their understanding of justification is marginal or unreal–anchored not to Christ, but to some conversion experience in the past or to an imagined present state of goodness in their lives–they know little of the dynamic of justification.  Their understanding of sin focuses on behavioral externals which they can eliminate from their lives by a little will power and ignores the great submerged continents of pride, covetousness and hostility beneath the surface.  Thus their pharisaism defends them both against full involvement in the church’s mission and against full subjection of their inner lives to the authority of Christ.”

– Richard F. Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal, 204-05 (emphasis mine).