Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Extremism

If you haven't read Doug Wilson's blog, I suggest you do. And then read his books.

One thing I appreciate about Doug Wilson is his willingness to take extreme stances on just about everything. His speaking engagements and lectures often have throngs of protestors holding flags and waving signs, proclaiming the outrageousness of his ideologies (when the tolerance police start protesting, you must be doing something right). And it's true—to the outsider, Doug Wilson is extreme, or, rather, radical. This is because Wilson understands that Christ is Lord over each aspect of life and that every thought should be taken captive to Him (2 Cor. 10:5). In other words, the Bible reaches down to the root of everything. And so we become radical because God is radical. We have extreme ideals because the Bible is full of extreme ideals. It doesn't get much more extreme than holiness, which is what the Lord requires.

But Wilson, taking his cue from the same Bible, has a full and robust understanding of how grace fits into this mess. Grace is the only way to understand how we are still living in a world of such extreme standards. The Bible does have extreme standards of conduct, but we are offered grace as the way to measure up. God is holy, and He requires holiness from us. Yet only Jesus was truly holy, and He offers us His holiness as a free gift of grace, if only we repent and rejoice in Him. We pass the test, but not because we studied hard. We pass the test because someone else answered for us.

This idea is important to understand. The Bible's standard of conduct is impossibly extreme; no one can live up to it. And the standards of God's law apply to more than just "the church." They are universal in their application and exclusive in their jurisdiction. Thus, all of nature is subject to God's law and all of mankind stands under God's judgment. Mercifully, God tells us there is a way out from under all this judgment—repent and believe! (Mark 1:15).Those who do not wish to bow their knee to any other god but themselves will surely make a stink about repentance (it requires us to admit fault for crying out loud!). So as it goes, Doug Wilson is labeled an extremist and "racist, sexist, anti-gay." Is he extreme? Yes, because he has a robust understanding of the universal application of God's extreme standards to everyone. But he uses this radicalism to call people to repentance and faith in Christ, the only way to be right with God.

All of this, in the end, should serve to increase manifestly our love for Jesus. Let us look at the impossible standard of God's law, admit that we fall woefully short, and then look to the cross, where our perfect obedience was bought with Christ's blood. That is the real scandal.

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