My impression is that in current Western Protestantism, and even more so in Catholicism, there’s an over-emphasis on the judicial side of what God has accomplished through Christ, and a severe under-emphasis on the existential side, so the present day restorative work of God through what’s been done through Christ and is currently available through the Holy Spirit is still largely ignored. Healing is one example of what’s been missing from the large picture until the last 100 or so years.
The symptoms of that skewed emphasis are evident in that the most prominent debates in Christian circles mostly center on justification. As a result, heaven becomes a future reward as opposed to a present position that we should operate out of, people talk about future hell (from the context, meaning gehenna, as opposed to hades, meaning a place of judicial punishment) a lot more than the present reality of death in its manifestations such as sickness and poverty, intellectual OSAS (once saved always saved) doctrines as opposed to present vital union with Christ and the reality of new creation as the source of security for believers, sickness as sometimes good if it may somehow aid in the process of securing a position “in heaven”, the next coming of Christ to help people with issues that have already resolved through Christ’s initial coming, and so forth.
A lot of church organizations act just as religious courtrooms because of that. Medieval inquisitions, indulgences, burnings at the stake, etc. are a grotesque outgrowth of that skewed perspective. Well, how many times do we need to be justified, and how many times does Christ need to be sacrificed to accomplish justification and pardon of sins and transgressions? If once was indeed enough, and that is to be simply received by faith, that would put a lot of religious organizations out of business, and leave them with nothing to do. Justification is all they know, and that’s the only card they keep playing over and over and over.
So then, there are roughly 3 options to keep the wheels turning:
- Threaten attendees not-so-good news and coax them into earning what’s been freely given, and secure attendance that way, or
- Shift focus to social programs, life coaching, leadership training, etc. (which is better than the 1st option for everyone concerned, but that can be done without God in the picture just as well), or
- Uncover the entire spectrum of what Jesus has accomplished – justification, righteousness (right standing with God / rightness), authority of the believer, present-day empowerment of the Holy Spirit, which will lead to healing the sick, get people out of sinful lifestyles, addictions, and poverty, act in Jesus’ stead to make the earth look like heaven by God’s enablement – which would keep everyone busy and productive well until the return of Christ.
(To be fair, I separated things into 3 neat rhetorical categories, in real life those things coexist a lot of times, especially 1 and 2, and 3 and 2).
Leave a Reply