So Nimm Denn Meine Hande...

Friday, October 13, 2006

What I really learned from Thomas A Kempis...

Man. Last night I smoked through An Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis in a little over 2 hours, then took all my quotes and assembled an evaluation paper. I did the typical "theological evaluation" and "examination of his views of the Eucharist and Soteriology" and everything, but after reading it all I ended up thinking:

I'm so blessed that I wasn't born before the reformation. I cannot imagine how horrible life would have been when laity's access to the scriptures was forbidden, the priesthood was a circus of simony (another good name for a metal band) and the corporate church was essentially apostate. I mean, God preserved his remnant in all periods of time, but certain times were definitely dark. I was caught imagining being born into Gaul or South America (especially in 1400 AD) and not ever knowing Christ...

...Then I all of a sudden made the leap from "Man I'm blessed to be here, now, with all this" to the pressing global need for missions. As I was pondering Kempis, I realized that he's basically as good as anyone can do without the gospel: insanely obsessive personal piety and a works-based righteousness that leads one to throw every effort into the mortification of evil beheviour without any power to mortify evil desires. I mean, Kempis was the man of his day. Even the pope bowed and kissed his hand when they met. He was the most pious and spiritual monk around, but sin isn't conquered by sweat; it's conquered by blood, and every last drop at that...hence we need someone else's blood. (to atone for sin...and then imputed righteousness to become our rightousness)

I guess reading spiritualists of other cultures and faith systems is important in that it reveals the lostness of man. Kempis had really no understanding of grace, though he talked about it lots; grace to work harder to mortify the body, grace to stand against wickedness, grace to persevere, but never grace in justification by faith apart from works of the law. His grace was just "extra power from on high" to do what he didn't have enough power to do on his own. And I have talked with Catholics, Mormons, Buddhists, Moslems, Jehovah's Witnesses and Ba'hai, and that's the same boat they're in; God wants me to keep his commands and he'll possibly empower me for that feat.

They all don't get Romans 3:10 - "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin."

And the best and brightest of their philosophers, monks and accademics all are unable to see that, short of a work of divine grace to illumine their minds to the glories of Christ:

"Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation" - Colossians 2:21-22 (bold and italics mine)

If only Thomas knew the ministry of reconciliation, completed by Christ's real death on the cross, perfect and complete in power and efficaciousness, administered to God on his behalf and appropriated by faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ.. Only in that sense can Paul then say:

"We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me." -Colossians 2:28-29

I'm thankful that God has revealed himself to me and granted me to live in an era where the truth was loudly professed and I could learn with essentially unrestrained access to information and truth, but so many know so little about things that are SO important. So much vanity from so many voices and so many searching for any sort of salvation. I'm starting to ramble, so that's my cue for bed. Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian


Blogger fastdomino said...

hey i found this an interesting read. my experience has been nearly the opposite, hearing all about grace for forgiveness and salvation but slowly i'm realizing that hey, there's grace to do what is right as well, ie/to stop sinning while on earth. without either of these graces, its a depressing life, in one case because we'll never be good enough to work our way into heaven and in the latter its depressing because you're a slave to sin in this world.
i hope i don't reject either...

2:41 PM

Anonymous The Armchair Theologian said...

yeah, that's certainly true. Many of us who were raised in conservative circles get force-fed "grace" in the sense of the gospel, but with no talk of righteousness in our lives. I, like you, came from that angle of some form of "easy believism"...though I guess that was longer ago than I actually realize.

I do remember the first time I heard a hardcore sermon on "killing sin" though...I really had to stop and think about how little I cared about chasing righteousness. I definitely agree with you when you say they're both important

5:32 PM

Blogger Jennifer said...

This was...awesome. Thank you for this! Great thoughts.

9:25 AM


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