Monday, February 02, 2009

What Empowers Christian Growth?

I hear a lot of people talking about Christian growth but few that do much about it. Every week I receive a quote about God's grace from a great ministry that works hard to facilitate individual and church growth.

I normally enjoy it because I agree with it. (I'm funny that way.) The one I received today did not quite agree with my understanding of the ways to enable and empower Christian growth.Read it and see what you think. I would love to hear your insights.

"Conversion is the lifelong transformational process of being remade into the image of God. It is so much more than simply trying to avoid sin. The focus of repentance and conversion is Jesus, not my sin nor my self. My attachment to sinful ways of being is much too strong to ever be undone by mere willpower. There is no substitute for surrender to divine love as the fuel to propel such undoing. Divine love transforms both my heart and my will. Divine love enables me to choose God’s will over mine. Without this, repentance will be nothing more than a self-help scheme based on effort and resolve." David Benner, Surrender to love.

Graced again is compiled by Tom Wood, Church Multiplication Ministries, a non-profit, whose mission is starting, strengthening, multiplying grace-centered churches through consults and coaching church planting pastors, leaders and emerging leaders. Sign up on the web at Graced Again.
Do you agree with Benner? Why? Why not?
Gary Sweeten


KiddDoc said...

Funny, I always like your posts because you have the rare discernment to agree with me! In this case, I have to agree with your disagreement. Sadly, I do this at the expense of my other good buddy Tom Wood, who usually has the good sense to agree with me too.

So here's my thoughts:
1. I would say that Salvation is the lifelong transformational process of being remade into the image of God, not conversion. If by metonymy he replaces part for whole, would quibble that it is not a good substitution. Because....
2. Benner seems to root repentance and conversion (now he adds repentance? Perhaps my Pres. friend Tom can help him review the Ordo Salutis) as actions of the will. Certainly, they are aspects of salvation that highlight the need for a redeemed will (volition) but that is not ALL that needs redeeming.
3. Benner rightly states that our attachment to sin is beyond willpower, but that certainly is the reason we need salvation. He leaves unasked the question of what a redeemed will is able to do. (posse non peccare) the ability not to sin....
4. He sneaks in the (important) concept of love in a discussion of the limits of redeemed volition. It seems to me that this is a somewhat different (but related) topic --ie the other aspects of human personality (the more emotive aspects) and their relation to salvation. But sin is more than rebellion--it includes shame, guilt, and bondage. So God's love has more to do than help our overcomes our shame, etc.

Those are some initial thoughts...which way were you going on it?

Gary Sweeten said...

Richard, I like your comment. I will refrain from relating my thioughts until others have a chance to think about the original and your comment.

Gary Sweeten said...

My good frined Angela Anno left this comment on Facebook.

"I read it and agree--we love because God first loved us. Conversion is the fruit of that deepening love relationship"