Thursday, January 31, 2008

Better to Be Right than to Error on the Side of Grace

Our son was on his way to guitar lessons when he asked my wife this "theological" question: "If I jump off a bridge and then ask God to save me, will he?" My wife explained that God has created certain laws--one of which is called gravity--with which God typically governs the universe. While he certainly could trump such laws, he usually does not.

Upon arriving at guitar lessons, my wife remembered that our son's guitar teacher is not just an accomplished musician; she is also a theological graduate. So my wife told our son that his teacher was a theologian and so it would be good to see how she would answer his question. So she posed the question to the guitar teacher, and also told her how she had answered our son. "Is that how you would respond?" My wife asked. "If our son were to jump off a bridge and then ask God to save him, he probably wouldn't, would he?"

The teacher paused, then responded, "I don't know, I think it would be better to error on the side of grace."

My wife chuckled. Until she saw from the look on the teacher's face that she wasn't joking.

"I don't think we should judge," said the teacher as she repeated her answer again. "It is better to error on the side of grace."

The teacher's comment reflects much of what is being taught in theology today. Our postmodernity has gotten the best of us, or at least it will if we try jumping off bridges with such beliefs.

The rejection of absolute truth and antithesis in favor of relativism is that dangerous. And so we must also boldly proclaim what is not true. It is better to be right than to error on the side of grace.

Francis Schaeffer notes:

If we do not communicate clearly on the basis of antithesis, many will respond to their own interpretation of the gospel, in their own relativistic thought-forms, including a concept of psychological guilt feelings rather than of true moral guilt before the holy, living God. If they do respond in this way, they have not understood the gospel; they are still lost, and we have defaulted in our task of preaching and communicating the gospel to our generation. (From, The God Who Is There, Appendix C.)

In his book, Bringing Up Boys, James Dobson also illustrates this need for what he calls "beneficial negatives":
Negative thinking has its advantages too. It is negative thinking that leads me to buckle my seat belt when I get in a car. I might be hurt in a collision if I don’t strap myself in. It’s negative thinking that causes me to buy life insurance to protect my family. I could die suddenly and leave my loved ones in financial difficulty. It’s negative thinking that encourages me to avoid behavior that could be addictive—such as using illicit drugs, alcohol, or pornography. . . . Indeed, if a person only allows himself to read or hear positive messages, he will have to skip over at least half of the Scriptures. Jesus said some of the most profoundly negative words that have ever been uttered, including the prospect of unregenerate people entering eternity without God. Yet His message to a lost and dying world is called the gospel, meaning “good news.” (Page 235.)

A vicious lie is being told to today's generation, thanks to our theological accommodation to postmodern ideals. We have lost our ability (or willingness) to offer the world our best commodity: truth. If you ignore the truth of the gospel you will perish.

And the same thing will probably happen if you jump off the bridge.

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