PonderForth: Halloween and Soteriology

Go ahead an bookmark the new blog PonderForth.
You can thank me later.

Michael Forth, the author, is a good friend of mine and a bright doctoral student at Aberdeen University. This week he posted two blogs worth reading:

A Word About Halloween:
“The bottom line is that we are witnesses to Christ and His Kingdom.  All symbols that do not point to Jesus are not wrong; they have been twisted from their proper purpose of revealing Him to His world.  We are to untwist them; we are to bend them back into shape so they can reveal Christ and His Kingdom.  In the case of Halloween, is there anyone better to explain the true meaning of death and how it has been overcome?  How can we not embrace this opportunity to reclaim a symbol that has been illegitimately appropriated by an unbelieving culture, especially when it was done by means of such a silly subculture as the neopagans.

It would be improper, however, to use this line of thinking as an opportunity to browbeat our neighbors in the name of Jesus.  We are witnesses and ambassadors, not Gospel thugs.  When we use Halloween as an excuse for aggressive evangelism, we show that evangelism per se mean more to us than our neighbor.  Our neighbors feel as though we are using a children’s holiday to sell them a spiritual pyramid scheme.  Opportunistic evangelism never works.”

The Price We Pay for Soteriology:
“The more and more that I experience of the Evangelical world, both in the U.S. and in our new circumstances in Scotland, the more I am convinced of the dangers of soteriolatry (soteriology + idolatry).  Soteriolatry is a name that I have given to the Evangelical tendency to prize soteriology (the doctrine of salvation) above all else, functionally turning it into an idol with disastrous effects.  While I may have coined the neologism “soteriolatry” in a moment of self-congratulatory pseudo-insight several years ago, others with similar concerns may have coined the same term or something similar….

This overemphasis on soteriology in the Evangelical tradition may well be labeled as Neo-Lutheran, since it stems largely from one of the primary motivations of Luther (though without his nuance and balance).  Some may disagree with this label, but I will use ‘NL’ as shorthand for this perspective in what follows.  What am I offering in contrast to the focus?  What can I say?  I’m a kingdom guy.  I believe that when the New Testament refers to the gospel it is referring to the good news of the arrival of the Kingdom of God.  It is only within such a context that our salvation in Jesus Christ has its proper place.  Without such a context, it too often seems as though we are saved for the sake of being saved.”

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