Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Shadow of Christ in Braveheart

Ok, I admit that I get a little tired of "Finding God in _____" books. As a sidenote, I recently saw there are two of those books out on The Shack. Seeing as The Shack is supposed to clearly be about God, it's probably a bad sign that you need some other book to help you find Him in it. While all of its supporters were touting The Shack as a modern day pilgrim's progress, can you imagine a book called "Find God in The Pilgrim's Progress"? Of course you can't, because anyone who's read Pilgrim's Progress has no problem seeing God in it on their own (I did search amazon for a book of this sort for Pilgrim's Progress; didn't return any results). Anyway, I digress.

Even though these types of connections can be trite, as I watched braveheart for the 700th time today (rough estimate), I was struck with the many connections between William Wallace and Christ. This is particularly evident to me in the mini-redemption of Robert the Bruce. Robert the Bruce starts out a slave to others, mainly his father. This is in stark contrast to William Wallace, who because of his commitment to a principle (freedom), is a slave to no one.

Ultimately Wallace's commitment to a principle, a principle that also committed him to a people (the Scottish), cost him his life. He never backed down from suffering, but willingly accepted his death on behalf of his cause. Yet in his death he was victorious. I think two things impact Robert the Bruce about the suffering and death of Wallace: 1. That he himself betrayed a great man in Wallace 2. That Wallace loved a principle and a people enough to die for them. Robert the Bruce knew that wasn't him. He realized he was rather a selfish man, only after his own crown. But in Wallace he saw the emptiness of such a hope and was empowered to die to his selfish desires, that he might truly live. His heart was captivated by what Wallace did on behalf of his people, so Robert the Bruce was changed in such a way that he now wanted to live, and possibly die, for freedom. He wanted to be like Wallace.

Now don't get me wrong here, I don't think we get a full blown gospel parallel in Braveheart. Even Chronicles of Narnia couldn't deliver that. But I think there are some definite parallels. To name a few:
  • Wallace suffered and died for a principle and a people. Jesus suffered and died for God's glory (Jn. 12:27-33, 17:5) and for the redemption of all who would trust Him (Heb. 10:14).
  • Wallace suffered and died to set the Scottish free from British oppression. Jesus suffered and died to set us free from our slavery to sin under the law (Gal. 3:10-13, 5:1).
  • Robert the Bruce realized he betrayed a great man. The centurion present at Jesus' crucifixion realized that they crucified the Son of God (Mark. 15:39)
  • Wallace was victorious in death. Jesus was victorious in death (Col. 2:14-15)
  • Robert the Bruce is drawn to Wallace because Wallace was willing to die for his cause and people. Jesus drew people to himself when He was crucified (Jn. 12:32)
  • Wallace did not resist his punishment once he was caught. Jesus likewise did not answer back to those who sought to kill Him, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23)
  • Wallace finally dies on a cross, before which he yells out "FREEDOM!" Jesus also died on a cross, and in a similar fashion yelled a victorious "IT IS FINISHED!" (Jn. 19:30)
  • The result of Wallace's death is that Robert the Bruce is now committed to his cause and wants to be like him (freedom). The result of Jesus' death is that His people are now committed to His cause (God's glory) and want to be like Him (Titus 2:14, Phil. 2:12-13, 1 Cor. 10:31).
  • In order to follow Wallace, Robert the Bruce had to deny himself (his desire for the crown, glory from men, etc.). Jesus similarly calls us to deny ourselves and follow Him (Luke 9:23)
  • The result of Robert the Bruce's change and allegiance to Wallace is his joy (as is so clear in the final scene when he leads the Scots in battle). The result of allegiance to Christ is fullness of joy (Jn. 15:11, 17:13, Ps. 16:11)

Nonethless, the gospel is much better than Braveheart. Wallace himself wasn't perfect (having sex with another man's wife, albeit a poor excuse for a man, is still sinful). Wallace never makes provision for the guilt of his own sin or Robert the Bruce's for that matter. He also dies permanently, so he can't rule anymore. Therefore the freedom he purchases is temporary, and the kingdom he leads is temporary as well. But Christ was sinless (Heb. 4:15), bore the curse our sin incurred (Gal. 3:13), and rose again (1 Cor. 15:3-4). He therefore purchased us eternal freedom (Heb. 4:9-11, Gal. 5:1) in an eternal kingdom (Isa. 9:7, Eph. 2:6, Rev. 21-22) if we place our trust in Him alone. And in Him there is truly fullness of joy.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I Love This Article

Today I was surfing Desiring God looking for a sermon to listen to to do something different in my time with my God. As I was doing it I stumbled across this article. It drove me to tears and confession before God. I want to pass it along to you:

What Is That To You? You Follow Me!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Some Initial Reactions to Wayne Grudem's "Politics According to the Bible"

If you catch my sidebar on the books I'm reading you may have noticed that I've recently been going through Wayne Grudem's newest book entitled Politics According to the Bible. I've finished the first 4 chapters. These all fall under the first part of the book, which is entitled "basic principles." This is the part of the book I was most excited to read. I've been frustrated in the past when I hear other Christians debating individual political issues. The reason that can be hard for me is because I find myself unsure of how to even approach politics. How involved should we as Christians be? Should we legislate morality or leave freedom? Should we feed the poor via government or leave that to the people? Should we care for the environment via government sanctions or the will of the people?

Christians fall down on either side of these issues, especially younger Christians who are fed up with the politicizing tendencies of the Christian right. However I think myself and most of my peers also forget the politicizing tendencies of the Christian left (generally seen in the more liberal, mainline churches). The difficulty for me in sorting through these arguments is that I feel I don't know how to even approach them. What constitutes a "correct" view on a given issue? What does God want politics to look like? So, I got Grudem's book and was excited to read it. Here are some initial reactions 4 chapters in:

1. Grudem is an excellent communicator of biblical truth. He writes with such clarity and in general his reasoning flows clearly from the scriptures. He calls error error and truth truth. I really appreciate this about him.

2. In his second chapter Grudem puts forth the idea of "significant Christian influence on government." This is in his view the Biblical position. In support of this he offers a number of OT texts where governments in general, not just Israel, are condemned for their failure to obey God's law in their governance. From this we see God has a moral will for government. He then cites two stories in the NT where Christians confront rulers about their sin. John the Baptist confronts Herod (Matt. 14, Luke 3) and Paul confronts Felix (Acts 24).

The interesting thing to me about these NT texts is the text itself doesn't specify what John the Baptist and Paul confront their counterparts about. It says they call them to repentence, but it doesn't say that has anything to do with their political positions. In fact, in the case of John the Baptist he confronts Herod about his personal sexual immorality. Grudem simply assumes that political advice or calls to repentence in their policies were also there. Thus he finds NT precedent for believers engaging in policy issues. I find this suspect at best. We have no evidence that this is what John the Baptist and Paul were doing, yet these are the only examples Grudem gives of NT people "engaging in politics."

I don't think any evangelical denies that God as a moral will for governments. The question is what we as Christians are to do about it. Should we simply evangelize and disciple everyone, including politicians, such that as they are progressively sanctified by the Spirit they grow in holiness that then overflows to their vocation? Grudem says no, this is not enough. He calls this the wrong view of "do evangelism, not politics." But this seems to be all we know the NT church to be doing. Where is the imperative for the church to be engaged in politics? It seems what we see more of the NT church actually doing and being commanded to do is to submit to the government and to reach the people in it with the gospel, not try to fix the system itself. All he has to counter this are 2 suspect examples.

I'm still not totally convinced one way or the other, but it's the kind of question I wish Grudem had addressed more thoroughly. He speaks of the gospel as God's "good news for all areas of life." I'm fine with that, but it leaves so much unanswered. If the gospel includes the redemption of governments, does that automatically mean it's a redemption we bring about progressively? Is this a post-millenial view where we bring about the millenium by redeeming all areas of life? (But then again Grudem is pre-mil). These theological underpinnings of our view of governments were exactly the thing I was hoping Grudem would have addressed more adequately.

3. This ended up being longer than I thought. More to come.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I'm Still Here

Hey everyone, not much to say in this post, just mostly wanted anyone still reading this blog to know that I am in fact still alive. Haha, I know it's been over a month since my last post and I do want to get back into it. I'm working through alot of good books right now (see right) so hopefully there will be some things the Lord teaches me through them that I could share with you all.

I've started working full-time with The Navigators as a campus missionary at Texas Tech University. The move and getting started have been excited but have also kept me busy, hence my absence from blogging. Keep your eyes peeled though; more to come shortly.