Monday, November 30, 2009

Basic Theology of Salvation and Sanctification

Why is there so much confusion about practical Christianity among Believers? In fact, even many Pastors are confused about how people are saved and how they can be sanctified. I hear it every day and I see it in many Clergy. I must be frank and admit that I was as confused or more confused than most by this question. I grew up among people who loved a good argument about theological issues. Well, we loved a good argument anyway.

It was not until I met a Lutheran Theologian from Thousand Oaks, California that I found a system that allowed me to put a lot of theological loose ends together. The man's name was Dr. James Kallas. He was a theological lecturer on a cruise ship loaded with Christians coasting from port to port from Holland to Germany to Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and the USSR. In every place Dr. Kallas taught about how its culture, society, legal system and social structure had been influenced by a particular theological stream of thought.

When I heard his system I was immediately struck by how well it described the various people who came to counselors and pastors for help with personal problems. Dr. Kallas' system was broken into three streams or emphases based on how they perceived fallen nature. Some people, and thus nations see "sin" and personal problems as Rebellion that must be stopped by laws and constraints.

Others see problems as proof that they are Guilty and must be punished. Finally, some countries see bad behavior as the result of brokenness or sickness that cannot be altered by punishment or by passing new laws but people who just need to be medicated, taught or healed.

These three basic problems, so said Kallas, could be summarized as Rebellion, Guilt and Bondage. His teachings opened my eyes to the different ways people conceive of their problems. If I, as a Minister/Counselor, perceived their problem differently it goes without saying that my advise would be unwelcome, unheeded and ineffective.

That cruise was designed to be a Study Leave for me. I had signed up to accompany and learn from a famous pastor and writer. I did follow him and listen to his lectures but the real reason God had me on that boat was to meet Dr. Kallas.

Next time? More ways to understand and bring the good news to people and nations.

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