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Another Lutheran Leaning Calvinist

April 15, 2011

I’ve become acquainted with a pastor through my Twitter stream–Tullian Tchividjian.  He’s a grandson of Billy Graham and the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian in Florida, where D. James Kennedy was pastor.  Check out this quote from his latest blog post.

[Gerhard] Forde rightly shows that when we stop narcissistically focusing on our need to get better,that is what it means to get better! When we stop obsessing over our need to improve,that is what it means to improve! Remember, the Apostle Paul referred to himself as the chief of sinners at the end of his life. It was his ability to freely admit that which demonstrated his spiritual maturity–he had nothing to prove or protect because it wasn’t about him!

I’m realizing that the sin I need removed daily is precisely my narcissistic understanding of spiritual progress. I think too much about how I’m doing, if I’m growing, whether I’m doing it right or not. I spend too much time pondering my failure, brooding over my spiritual successes, and wondering why, when it’s all said and done, I don’t seem to be getting that much better. In short, I spend way too much time thinking about me and what I need to do and far too little time thinking about Jesus and what he’s already done. And what I’ve discovered, ironically, is that the more I focus on my need to get better the worse I actually get. I become neurotic and self-absorbed. Preoccupation with my performance over Christ’s performance for me makes me increasingly self-centered and morbidly introspective. After all, Peter only began to sink when he took his eyes off Jesus and focused on “how he was doing.”  As my friend Rod Rosenbladt wrote to me recently, “Anytime our natural incurvitas (fixture on self) is rattled, shaken, turned from itself to that Man’s blood, to that Man’s cross, then the devil take the hindmost!”

Gerhard Forde and Rod Rosenbladt!  Those are my peeps!  May Lutheran gospel-centeredness continue to evangelize evangelicalism!  I’m being silly by framing this like it’s a team sport rivalry between Lutherans and Calvinists.  But I truly am thankful for the way Luther’s persistent focus on the gospel extra nos is getting more and more press in mainstream evangelicalism.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Matt and Ky permalink
    April 17, 2011 2:05 pm

    Thank you for this, Mike. Very refreshing and certainly hits home. This is a major way your ministry has helped correct a vast, erroneous chunk of my understanding of God; it really isn’t about me, it’s about God revealed in the Gospel (and who I am now is because of Him and Him alone). This continues to have a tremendous impact, even though I need to be shaken out of my own selfititude on a regular basis.

    – K

  2. April 18, 2011 8:53 pm

    This was a really refreshing read, and very true. It reminded me a bit of that Indigo Girls song that has long struck home for me- there’s a lot in the song that I don’t agree with, but the bit about the less *I* seek… the closer I am to fine… always seemed to hold a nugget of truth to me, though I couldn’t put my finger on why exactly until this post! It is really freeing, though, to not have to worry overmuch about my own performance, and realize that I can redirect that towards looking at Jesus. He’s much more interesting, anyhow ;)

  3. April 20, 2011 7:22 am

    Great post!

    Thanks for sharing the freedom that Christ has won on the cross. A freedom from ‘religious progressivism and the freedom of God to love and save real sinners.

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