Near the beginning he asks, "should we conclude that "man-made rules" do not contribute at all to walking in a manner worthy of our calling? Is it accurate to say that rules contribute nothing to sanctification? Should we even believe that they are—as some suggest—inherently dangerous and often hostile to growth in grace?"
He goes on to say, "Perhaps some confusion on this point is due to binary thinking about the relationship between the inner man—the heart and mind—and outward behavior. Is it true that a believer either obeys with faith and love or sins? What if he obeys without faith and love or—as is more often the case, obeys with incomplete faith (and understanding) and less than pure love? Is this "sin"? Even if it is, is it no better than the sin the rule is intended to prevent?
I believe the dynamic between inner man and outward conduct is far from binary (all or nothing) and looks more like this:
- Best: do right out of faith and love
- Good: do right to avoid punishment, etc. (lacking in faith and love)
- Bad: do right with some evil motive
- Worst: do wrong"
In what is a startling undermining of the Gospel, Blumer writes, "obedience is so helpful that increasing it by means of rules is a genuine spiritual blessing to believers even when their faith is incomplete and love is not their primary motivation." Actually, it is precisely this type of behavior, when applied to the spiritual mission of the Church, that Scripture calls sin. This is the thinking that led Paul to write Galatians. It is the grosteque specter of human religiousity from which Christ freed us and the watered-down moralism that has proven powerless to effect change. Faithless Israel begged to return to slavery in Egypt, and now Blumer offers us a taxi-cab ride back to Goshen. The belief that we must add man-made rules to the Church is an abandonment of the Gospel.
After I commented on his article, Blumer replied: "I am confused. Christ's church does have rules all over the NT. And breaking them without repentance leads to being disciplined out of the church in order to protect the gospel. So how can you say that adding them abandons the gospel?"
If "younger fundamentalism" cannot see the difference between Jesus giving rules and humans adding them, then we are destined to repeat the egregious errors of our fathers. Either the Cross (with the Grace it brings) is everything, or it is nothing.
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