Saturday, April 9, 2011

Provocative Words

This sounds like heresy to an evangelical culture drunk on pragmatism

Evangelicals have always insisted that Christ is a person who can and should be known personally; he is not simply an item on a creed to which assent should be given. But from this point they have drawn conclusions that become increasingly injurious. They have proceeded to seek assurance of faith not in terms of the objective truthfulness of the biblical teaching but in terms of the efficacy of its subjective experience. Testimonies have become indispensible items in the evangelistic fare. Testifying to having experienced Christ personally is particularly seductive in the modern context, because it opens up to view an inner experience that responds to the hunger of the “other-directed” individual but often sacrifices its objective truth value in doing so. The question it poses to the outsider is not whether Christ is objectively real but simply whether the experience is appealing, whether it seems to have worked, whether having it will bring one inside the group and give one connections to others.

In any genuine knowledge of God, there is an experience of his grace and power, informed by the written Scriptures, mediated by the Holy Spirit, and based upon the work of Christ upon the Cross. What is not so clear from the New Testament is that this experience should itself become the source of our knowledge of God or that it should be used to commend that knowledge to others. To be sure there was plenty of witnessing that went on in the early Church, but it is anything but clear that this should be understood as the use of personal autobiography to persuade others that they should commit themselves to Christ. (David Wells, No Place for Truth, 172-173. Italics original)

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