Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Decoding Law Usage in Modern Langauge

8. "What Would Jesus Do?" (WWJD)

Who can forget about WWJD?!? Oh man, that was a huge fad when I was in school! The really appealing thing about it is that it is complete and total Law... but it has "Jesus" in the name so people think it's Gospel. To counter increasing teen promiscuity, drug use, violence, and lewdness (in the church especially), this program sought to create a kind of cosmic version of Simon says. The idea behind it is "Jesus wouldn't do that so you don't do that either." or "Jesus would do this so you have to make it happen." Just like the implied imperatives we talked about before, WWJD is built on the same concept except Jesus is in place of Moses and His perfect life is in place of the two stone tablets.

You think this fad is dead? Think again. Yeah, some Jehovah's Witness wannabe hasn't handed me one of those cheapo bracelets in a while, but just yesterday I heard a woman on national television use "WWJD" as the reason behind a particular behavior choice. The problem with fads is that--once they die--they are very susceptible to necromancy. The zombie-returned-from-the-grave-to-haunt-us version of "WWJD" is "Christ Follower". More on that in a minute.

Getting back on point, some people did their best to turn "WWJD" into a Gospel message. They started going with "WDJD" and "WHJD" for "What Did Jesus Do" and "What Has Jesus Done". I know some people love this turn of phrase, but it really is garbage. First of all, it is only kind of sort of Gospel-ish. It is a classic case of talking about the Gospel without ever mentioning the Gospel. The problem here is that the implication of the question is too vague. Jesus DID alot of stuff... like heal the sick... feed the poor... teach really neat lessons about loving people. Secondly, the "What Did Jesus Do" got perverted and it has largely become the Gospel guilt trip to motivate people to do more law. As in, "Jesus died for you and you are going to repay Him by acting like this?!?" Not good. Read C.F.W. Walther's Thesis XV in his Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel.

9. Christ Follower

Trendy guys with square-framed glasses, designer shoes, frosted highlights, $150 jeans, and artificial tans came up with this term a while back. Thankfully, I had left the Purpose Driven movement in time to miss this one. For 2,000 years, the church has used words like "Christians", "Believers", "The Faithful", "The Elect", "Brothers and Sisters" and "Saints" to describe those who have been won by Christ.

Apparently this was just not good enough. We took the ideas already expressed in WWJD and made a new kind of disciple who was obsessed with the moralistic example of Jesus instead of the saving work of Jesus. Unlike most people, I don't think that this was just a move solely motivated by contemporary impulses. They keep words like "tithe" and "Bible", so why ditch traditional name of the people in the religion? It's not about being contextual because "tithe" is much more offensive than "believer". I think there is an actual theological argument being made here and it all has to do with Gospel and Law. Stay with me:

Traditionally understood, "Christians" and "Believers" are made. Alot of people say that they became a Christian, but a more exact term is that you were made a Christian. God creates faith. We put on Christ through the waters of baptism. No one comes to Christ unless the Father draws them to Him. We are sons and heirs of the Kingdom and everyone knows that you don't decide to become an heir. You are made one. You are born again... something totally out of your control. This concept is Gospel.

We can't have that though in the Law-dominated church. Already weakened by decision theology and revivalism (thanks for nothing, Charles Finney...), this historic understanding of God making Christians has been thrown out the window and replaced with something that places the emphasis on the man and not God. A "Christ Follower" is one who follows Christ. It's right there in the name. Do Christians follow Christ? Of course, but what I am pointing out is a change of emphasis. We have gone from language that was largely understood in mongeristic terms to a focus on the human activity that occurs in response to faith: i.e. discipleship. Those are works... and if you listen to some of these seeker-sensitive guys, they think that the start of this "following" process can precede coming to the faith and prepare someone for conversion! MMmm... smells like... legalism... and sulfer....

"Christ Follower" is not just dumb and unneccesary... it's a Law term. It's not even a good Law term because Law and Gospel are badly confused in how it is explained and defined.

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