Friday, January 24, 2014

The Gospel: A Different Inclusive

I am currently studying the call to repentance found in Peter's speech in Acts 2. 

It appears "all" are called to repent in Acts 2, equally.  As Acts progresses, we really see how big "all" really is.  In the day Acts describes, and that we still live in now in the 21st century, the gospel is big enough to include all.

Interestingly in our culture today, the gospel's inclusiveness is labeled exclusive.  I think the reason for this is that the gospel's form of inclusive is also a call to repentance.  Repentance sounds so "churchy" though.  Rather, let's just say, all are invited according to the message of the Christian gospel to be included in the people of God, and being part of this people means one must totally turn their valuations of most-everything on its head.  We must turn from a life without God's voice obeyed, to a life of obeying God by the power of the Holy Spirit and in constant confession.

What clarified this for me was a quote I read today in Craig Keener's (massive!) commentary on Acts 1:1-2:47.  This quote below also shows me that we as humanity have not progressed beyond relgion and our philosophy of religions either.

Keener observes:

[While calls of repentance can be found in Israelite tradition] Gentiles did not speak much of moral repentance in light of religion.  Joining a mystery cult simply supplemented one's previous religious experience; polytheism was inclusive. (italics mine)

This quote does not cover every base, but is an analogy.  But isn't this what our culture calls us to when they call us to inclusivism?   That is, isn't this what it means to be "worldly" or "cultured"?  Don't you look better and feel more spiritual and safe when you got a few religions and the latest science under your belt? Isn't it better to hedge your bets?  Paul doesn't think so when he is speaking to those in Athens in Acts 17. 

Christianity claims things that make "inclusivists" nervous.  We, as Paul does in Athens, claim to know the creator through Jesus.  This seems to be exclusive to "inclusivists."  They would rather add one world religion's conception of creation to another, and then add a dash of Darwinism so as to be secularly and scholarly acceptable.  This is not new.  Apparently, for Keener, it has been the rebellious preference of thousands of years.  Hear me, YOU ARE NOT NEW IN YOUR BELIEFS! YOU HAVE NOT EVOLVED PAST THE NORMAL TENDENCY OF HUMANITY AND THEIR RELIGIOUS PREDILECTIONS.  

However, Christianity is not exclusive.  It is, in fact, a different kind of inclusive.  All are invited and included.  However, Christianity is not another religion to add to your arsenal of religious, political, scientific, or other beliefs.  Rather, Jesus calls his followers to radical inclusivism that requires radical renewal of valuations.  There is no supplementing the grace that is sufficient. This is why I think we could say that Christianity is a "different type of inclusive."

Paul says in 2 Cor. 12:9:

 But [Jesus] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

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