Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Legal Mindset vs Love and Grace

Sunday, December 20, 2009
My Legal Mindset vs Love and Grace
  • Taking God to Court or Taking Him at His Word?
  • Loving God as a Father or Holding Him Accountable to His Own Law?
  • Acting Like God's Adopted Son, or Acting Like His Creditor?
To my own surprise, shock, and astonishment, I have once again become "spiritually converted". The last time I experienced this was about 28-years ago when the decisively Catholic upbringing my loving parents gave to me was re-directed by Protestant theology which opened my eyes to my own rebellion to God and my very real need for a Savior. Erroneously thinking that this was a stark contrast to the Catholic position, I have spent the last 28-years pursuing Christ in Protestant and Reformed circles.

However, by God's grace, I have now come to understand more fully what it means to be part of the family of God, and this is not expressed better anywhere than it is in the Catholic Church, which I now believe to be God's own expression of grace on earth, as it is in heaven.

Though new to me, I have initial thoughts that I express here. I understand these thoughts are simple and need much more study and contemplation, but they are real enough to me to tune my ears to Catholic history, doctrine, and theologins, over and above what I have been listening to over the past 28 years from my Protestant teachers, whom I owe a certain debt of gratitude for their knowledge.

That said, the following is what I have been seeing is at the heart of the difference between the protestant position and the Catholic position which I have recently taken very, very, seriously:

As a Reformer, although I could rationalize my salvation with 'legal-ease' and I could intellectually concede that I was justified in Christ, I was never sure that I was actually ... IN, CHRIST.

Whereas, as a Catholic, I now embrace my salvation as a precious gift, and I humbly concede the worthiness of Jesus Christ by my faithful obedience to Him, and as I DO, I am more and more assured that He is my brother, and that His Father and mine are the same.

Does this make me a legalist? Does this mean I am 'working' FOR salvation? No, quite the opposite. This means I have not taken my Father to court demanding my inheritence, but have instead, accepted His terms and have placed my trust in His love for me through His Son Jesus Christ. I no longer need the letter of the law to justify my inheritence, but now, I trust the love of my Father and have no desire to hold my holy and perfect Father accountable to me in any way whatsoever. I am free now in my relationship with Him...and so is He.

By the above rationale, it is not a stretch to say that it is the Protestant mind set that has reduced family, love, salvation, and covenant, to mere business transaction, law, guarantee, and contract. The scenario that expresses grace the most is obvious.

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