‘What you do with Jesus will determine what He’ll do with you’

This statement is one of the recent “crummy church signs” posted on the hilarious but depressing blog. In general, the signs demonstrate your usual garden-variety crumminess. But every once in a while, a sign comes along that merits a serious rebuttal. This is one such sign. The notion that God will deal with us the way we deal with God is so wrong that it either inspires fury or laughter—and probably both.

(1) First, such a notion inverts the relation between God and humanity: we are the active agents and God is the passive recipient of our action. We determine what God will do. We become the arbiters of our own fate. (2) Second, it is thoroughly Pelagian. Humanity is seen here as capable of freely deciding its eternal fate. The human person can choose heaven or hell, salvation or damnation, reconciliation or reprobation—all depending on what we want. We can decide our own future. If we choose God, we choose heavenly bliss; if we choose not-God, we choose hellish torment. (3) Third, the statement entirely bypasses the gospel. It radically misreads Romans and Galatians, and it reduces Jesus into our eternal judge, forgetting that Jesus is the judge who was in fact judged in our place. The gospel of reconciliation here is replaced with the pseudo-gospel (it’s not Good News!) of self-determination.

In closing, let us remember the words of Jesus in John 12.47: “I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” Churches the world over would be infinitely better if we all remembered this.

Comments

kim fabricius said…
Yes, many a motorist has gone to hell on the back of the theology of wayside pulpits - and found the devil fuming there on his own.

But you're too kind, David, with the word "crummy". I'm sure Shane would provide you with something more pithy (indeed, assume I have a lisp and you've got an alternative already!).

Cheers,
Kim
m@ said…
"Third, the statement entirely bypasses the gospel. It radically misreads Romans and Galatians..."

umm, i think the statement skips biblical reading as a whole.

reading church marquee statements is kind of like going to horror movies for me. terrifying at the thought the content could be true, yet laughable because it so isn't.
JP Manzi said…
Good thoughts Dave, not totally related, but I am tackling the issue of universal reconciliation. I see you have too, and if you could add anything to the discussion that would be great