OK, I’ve made glancing comments on the Dividing Line without getting specific, mainly due to respect for the individual (I still like this guy!) and out of hope that some semblance of balance might be regained. But today’s rambling comments by Timothy Enloe (see the blog entry for 1/14/04) simply demand a brief response. Seemingly, unless you believe it is God’s intention to create another “Christendom,” i.e., a Christian society (and hence hold to a particular form of post-millennialism), you separate the gospel out from the “rest of life.” The result? Well—and Mr. Enloe says this repeatedly—specifics regarding the doctrine of justification do not seem anymore to be relevant to the gospel itself (if you are wondering where you heard that before, let me remind you: it’s called ECT, Evangelicals and Catholics Together). The example used by Enloe in the current blog is quite insightful: the destruction of the Oak of Geismar by Boniface in the 8th century. Enloe narrates it briefly, and then makes the amazing statement, “Boniface preached the Gospel by chopping down a tree, not by thundering about Justification By Faith Alone.” So, that was the extent of the proclamation? Cut down the tree and then sprinkle the amazed and awed pagans, and now you have a Christian society? Does not history tell us what happens when this kind of “societal evangelism by baptism” is practiced? You end up with wet paganism. What happened to following the Apostolic example found in the New Testament? Why didn’t Paul knock over the altar to the Unknown God? Why am I a Platonist for noting that the Apostles seemed quite concerned about the details of their proclamation of the gospel? Have all those statements about “watch your doctrine!” from 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus fallen out of the canon up in Moscow, Idaho?
Folks, the foundation of the Christian life is knowing who God is, what He has done in Christ, and that I have peace with God not because of anything I have done but solely because of what Christ has done. Until that relationship of peace is established and understood, the rest is just window dressing. You can sprinkle water on somebody’s noggin until they drown, but without that foundation you will never build a proper, balanced Christian life. Whether justification involves imputation or infusion may sound like a war over words, but it isn’t, anymore than saying there really is no difference between saying Jesus is God or “a god.” The issue of whether there is, in fact, a positive imputation of Christ’s righteousness or not (the issues relating to New Perspectivism) is vital to how we view ourselves, our relationship to God, our standing in Christ, and any number of pastoral questions and issues. And whether the mere act of Trinitarian baptism actually joins one to the covenant in the blood of Christ so that one so baptized is in fact to be considered a “brother” (contra Galatians 2) is likewise of vital importance to our evangelism, our view of the gospel, and our apologetics. These are vitally important issues, with great importance to the faith. I can only hope that those who once seemed to be balanced in their understanding of these things will regain that balance, all to God’s glory.