Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Approached from a different angle

Preaching to Felt Needs. Mohler cites William Willimon:
"Jesus doesn't meet our needs; he rearranges them. He cares very little about most things that I assume are my needs, and he gives me needs I would've never had if I hadn't met Jesus. He reorders them."
At Forum we sang Tim Hughes' song The Rising Sun which includes these words.
"Almighty God, in every way
You are above and beyond understanding"
Its a decent song that captures something of the spirit of 1 Corinthians 2. If you'll forgive the slight critique the song misses the fact that our Almighty God has been revealed. The same niggling feature is found in Wonderful so wonderful. I really like both songs but seem to be missing something.

The gospel, the revelation of our God is beyond our understanding and invention. This is true. We would not come up with it. Freud was right that religion is a projection of our desires. But Christianity is not. No-one comes up with a God like the Trinitarian God of the Bible.

At Relay 1 Mike Reeves spent two hours burning and bubbling with the heart of the gospel.
"When people have invented religion they've pumped up versions of themselves... The Cross of Christ defies this... The cross defines love... It defines justice... The Cross separates doctrine from demonic teaching... God without the cross is an idol, is the devil..."
We don't know what we need. We don't figure God out. He is "beyond understanding". But God reveals himself to us! He reorders what we think we know and what we think we need. The cross is our theology! As Paul said, he resolved to:
"...know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Cor 2v2)
We think we know what works. Its why we try to be religious. But, Mike asked: "Why did Jesus go to the Cross if a quiet time could do it?". The Cross is counter-intuitive. It is God's weak-looking power and God's foolish-looking wisdom. We would not work it out. We would not think we need it.

Crux probat omnia. The cross, as Luther said, tests everything. It is our theology. Crucifixion is not the ultimate offense, it is the meaning of the crucixion of Jesus that offends. Its not the kind of thing we would come up with. But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2v16b) The Spirit of God teaches us God's thinking. And then it all begins to make sense.
"“Glorious God.”
So far above all earthly things"
In closing.... Bob Kauflin on "Father, Spirit, Son" in our songs - a warning against being lyric police but in favour of being true to what God has revealed of himself. And more on the topic of this post. Covenant Life Church are preaching from 1 Corinthians. Hear this from Josh Harris. Proclaiming Christ-Crucified: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5


  1. I came across that song for the first time at Forum and had that same niggle. If the words "in every way" weren't there I'd have felt a lot more at ease singing it.

    It's interesting that after 10 and a half chapters of the most profound explanation of the gospel, that in Romans 11, Paul bursts out saying how unknowable and glorious God is.

    I've noticed that most of my favourite worship songs have at least a hint of what Edwards called 'diverse excellencies' of Christ. Him as great yet humble, great yet good, God but man and so on.

    A few assorted thoughts there...

  2. lol...

    Don't be silly.

    I bet you £1,000,000 you don't have a complete understanding of any theological ideas. It doesn't matter if you pick the Trinity, Atonement, Inspiration of Scripture, Christology, Canon. I bet you don't understand in the full sense of understand, any doctrine or any idea.


  3. "you don't have a complete understanding of any theological ideas"

    of course! But we do have some idea based on what God has revealed... we're not entirely in the dark.