Saturday, December 17, 2005

Tying up some loose ends

I promised a Narnia review, and some comments on Doxo's Calvinism not posts. Here they are.

"You will get whatever you seek out of Narnia." That's my assessment. By that I mean that if you go looking for Christ, you'll find him there. The obvious allusion is there. If you go looking merely for a good story, you will find it there. The story of the Pevensy children going through a wardrobe into a magical world is compelling, regardless of your views on symbolism. If you go wanting to see a good movie, you'll find it. The movie world hasn't been kind to families lately, and Disney has had some real clunkers. This is a an encouraging sign.

In fact, the only thing it was lacking was the narrator's voice that creeps out every so often. But had they chosen to include that (ala Lemony Snicket), it would have been a very different movie altogether, and not quite as good. Overall, the movie is faithful to the book, as far as one medium translates to another. I think Lewis would be proud.

On Men Doing Good
On men doing good, it may be helpful to make a distinction between good and righteous. From a human perspective, we may look at a particular action and see it as good. However, it's a whole other thing to proclaim an action righteous, because that involves a different type of judgment.

Also, I think this illustration may be helpful, as far as it goes. My uncle is a dairy farmer. He also loves to BBQ. One day, he goes out and works all day, and then comes home in the evening to cook the biggest, juiciest steaks around. The only problem is that he doesn't bother to wash his hands. The meat is good, but it is tainted, because the one who did them has hands that are tainted. Only with men, it is their hearts that are tainted.

Frank Turk offers an interesting discussion of this back in his very first post. The post is actually an open letter to Derek Webb, but has a bearing on what we're discussing here.

...let me offer a passage of Scripture and then ask my question. The passage is this (ESV):

James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
26If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. 27Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

This passage says that faith is not a feeling but an action. But for example, just because Sandra Bullock gives $1 million to the Red Cross (and has done so several times in the last 5 years), that does not make her a hero of the faith; Bill Gates has dedicated $1 billion to educating children, and that does not make him a hero of the faith. Walt Disney is not a hero of the faith for making family-friendly movies. Sinead O’Connor is not a hero of the faith for protesting the Pope.

My question to you is this: “Are all good works inherently Christ-centered good works?” Your essay is about 8 weeks old, and I suspect you have had others asking this question, and frankly you don’t owe man an answer. But I ask you this as someone who knows you have heard the Gospel and understand its Christ-centeredness.

Or, put a different way, are all the good works of man righteous works? I hope the obvious answer to this question is "no."

Let me finish by relating this point to N.T. Wright and the New Perspective. Rom 4:4-5 says this:

Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.

This is as clear a declaration of justification by faith, apart from works, as there is in the Scriptures. The NPP reframes this and other "works" passages to mean specifically circumcision--those things that would identify Christians with the OT Covenant, thereby changing the idea from one of justification by faith apart from good works to one of trusting God's faithfulness and eschewing covenant symbols. Bad enough that what the NPP says about Paul changes the definition justification. But in addition, by subverting these passages and redefining what "works" means, it opens the door once again for works-based righteousness. I'm not saying that any in the NPP are advocating this; I'm merely pointing out that by stripping out passages that say works aren't sufficient for salvation, what has been a foregone conclusion since Luther's time may now be put back up for discussion.

I've got family in town this weekend all the way from the UK, so I doubt I'll be posting much until midweek next week. In the meantime, let me recommend Doxo's discussion of sin (intro & part 1 of Origin of Sin currently written). This will set the stage for what I hope to post next week--"Sin is the Reason for the Season," and Part 2 of "Theology Really Is Important."

For a laugh, check out this post from Glenn. Even if you haven't been following the Baptism discussion at Centuri0n's blog, you'll still get a good laugh. And remember, Glenn pays for comments.

Finally, don't forget to spend some time with the people of God this weekend.


Kim said...

I just saw Narnia today. As I was watching, I was thinking that I feel bad for people who are not Christians because all they will see is a great story, and won't be reminded of a more eternal story.

I cried when they shaved Aslan's mane. My sons thought I was nutty.

Kim said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gummby said...

Kim--it's funny you mentioned the mane thing. As I sat and watched that, all I could think of was what Christ endured, and it reinforced it in a way that actually seeing it portrayed on the screen (ala "The Passon") just couldn't do.

Thanks for sharing that.

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