The Taser's Edge


Reconciliation vs. Morality?
“The whole thrust of God’s purpose in Christ as executed by the Spirit is to bring men to reconciliation and relationship with God, so that in comparison even moral sanctification becomes a quite subsidiary interest.”

Thomas Smail, Reflected Glory: The Spirit in Christ and in Christians, p. 57

That is, God’s main purpose in Christ is to heal the shattered relationship between human beings and God; being enabled to live morally is of secondary concern in God’s plan.  Not sure if that translation translated anything for you.  The reason I post it is because it is a quite provocative statement, inflammatory in some Christian circles which do seem to reduce Christianity to that moral sanctification.  Stereotypically, “Don’t drink, don’t chew, and don’t date girls that do.”  More concretely and realistically, there are plenty of Christian colleges–even real, accredited ones among them–that make you sign off on not dancing, not drinking, not fraternizing with the opposite sex when alone.

My take?  Smail is right.  God surely cares more about healing our broken relationship with God than about whether we like microbrews.  (After all, when Jesus made wine, he made good wine, not more Sutter Home.)  And yet reconciliation with God and reconciliation with other humans are inseparable processes.  They are not two reconciliations; they are one.  If my fellow child of God and I are both being drawn into a healed relationship with God, then our relationships with each other will also experience redemption and healing.

Yes, being reconciled with God can certainly cause friction and even destruction of some relationships.  Yes, the Gospel causes its own offense, and God knows Christians cause plenty more.  Jesus said, “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword…a man against his father, and a woman against her mother.”  But if I am not experiencing healing and redemption in interpersonal relationships, then I don’t see how I can possibly believe that God is drawing me nearer to God.  If morality is some separate little (or even big) compartment of our lives, then, rest assured, it is not Christian morality.

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