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Posts Tagged ‘Justification’

 

Harvey Weinstein_AP

Harvey Weinstein, AP

 

Their foot shall slide in due time. Deuteronomy 32:35

It’s been quite a tumultuous week plus for famed Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Here’s a man who went from king of the movie world to fired by the board of directors of his own company in the space of just a few days. To add insult to injury, just a few days later he became only the second person to be kicked out of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the organization’s 90 year history. The official statement of the board read,

We do so not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleague but also to send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over.

I confess to being fairly ignorant of Hollywood generally. As is the case with most people, I watch movies from time to time, but I can’t say I’m a huge fan. Concerning the name Harvey Weinstein, it’s a name that until the past few days was barely known to me. I can’t say that I ever gave it more than a moment’s thought. And yet, here I am writing a blog post on the subject.

So what prompted me to do this? Well, as reports of Weinstein’s behavior dribbled out in the media, and the consequences of it started to come home to roost, it called tom mind, of all people, the great Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards and his famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.

Edwards’ sermon is apropos Weinstein’s situation in a number of ways. First, is the context of Deuteronomy 32:35. the verse on which Edwards based his sermon. This verse speaks of God’s judgment upon his enemies, how he will take vengeance upon them and do so suddenly. As Edwards observed, this passage, “implies that they were always exposed to sudden unexpected destruction.. As he that walks in slippery places is every moment liable to fall, he cannot foresee one moment whether he shall stand or fall the next, and when he does fall, he falls at once without warning. Which is also expresed in ‘Surely thou didst set them in slippery places, thou castedst them down into destruction: How are they brought into desolation as in a moment? (Psalm 73:18-19)’ ”

And so it was with Weinstein. The predator, after years – decades one supposes – is now very suddenly the prey.

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moses

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).

The first chapter of John is a gold mine of theological insight. To paraphrase the apostle himself, if all that could be written on the chapter actually were written, one supposes that the whole earth could not contain the books.

And while it is not the intention of this writer to attempt anything like a comprehensive review of all that John has to tell us, it seems that a look at one small portion of the chapter is not too daunting a task.

In verse 17, John draws an important distinction for us, namely the distinction between Moses and Jesus Christ. The law, John tells us, was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

This brief statement is loaded with implications, a few of which, Lord willing, I will endeavor to point out over the next two weeks.

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Wittenberg-1536.jpg

Wittenberg as seen from the Elbe, 1536.

October 31 is known to much of the world as the pagan holiday of Halloween. But for Christians, October 31 represents something quite different. It’s what we call Reformation Day.

 

For it was on that date in 1517 that Martin Luther’s nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg church door and forever changed the world for the better.

The Gospel of Justification By Faith Alone – the idea that sinful men are saved, not by doing good works, but solely by faith in Christ Jesus – once again shone forth in all its brilliance after a millennium of suppression by the Roman Church-State and millions were saved as a result.

But Luther’s rejection of church tradition in favor of the objective, written Word of God did not revolutionize the church only. It resulted in a whole new civilization, what we now call the West, coming into existence.

Ideas such as the sanctity of private property, honesty in exchange, the rule of law, capitalism, written constitutions, secular work as pleasing to God all found their origin in the Protestant Reformation that began with Luther.

Though it is not commonly understood by Americans, our nation owes its very existence to the Biblical ideas recovered at the time of the Reformation.

Most of us are taught to trace the foundations of our republic to Greece and Rome. But limited, constitutional government did not begin with Greco-Roman civilization. It began with the Hebrew Republic as recorded for us in the Old Testament. Thus the Bible is foundational to our political system.

In like manner, our economic system of capitalism or free enterprise finds its origins, not in the writings of pagan philosophers, nor in the thought of medieval scholastics, nor in the principles of the Renaissance, but in the propositions of the Word of God, the 66 books of the Bible.

To put it another way: No Protestant Reformation, no United States of America. To quote John Robbins,

One of Luther’s most brilliant followers, John Calvin, systematized the theology of the Reformation. The seventeenth-century Calvinists laid the foundations for both English and American civil rights and liberties: freedom of speech, pres, and religion, the privilege against self-incrimination, the independence of juries, and right of habeas corpus, the right not to be imprisoned without cause. The nineteenth-century German historian Leopold von Ranke referred to Calvin as the “virtual founder of America” (Civilization and the Protestant Reformation).

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