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Posts Tagged ‘works righteousness’


Last night CavWife and I, along with other friends in ministry and their wives, were invited to a screening of the soon to be release movie (9/30) Courageous.  This is the latest movie to come out of Sherwood Baptist Church.  They started with Facing the Giants, then Fireproof.  The quality of production improved, as has the Hendricks brothers ability.  The first deal with committing one’s life to Christ, the second addressed marriage.  And this new one addresses the issue of parenting, particularly fatherhood.

They write what they know, small town Georgia.  This movie starts off with excitement as some gang members try to carjack a car at the gas station.  The man, so we are lead to believe, over-reacts.  But he has good cause, as you’ll discover.  The actor was also in Fireproof.  They tend to build relationships with the actors, so they brought him back for the role of Nathan.  Nathan is the new man on the police force, and a committed family man.

Alex Hendrick, who co-wrote and produced it with his brother, directs and returns as its main character, Adam.  He’s a police officer who is worn out by the time he comes home.  He doesn’t seem to have time for his kids.  He’s often self-conscious, pulling back from fully engaging with them.  Their partners are a single man, and a divorced man.  We never see their fathers, though we hear about some of them.  These men were largely raised without fathers, and they are just coming to grips with the gaps in their lives through the choices they’ve made.

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It is always difficult to share the story of a personal tragedy.  It can easily come across as narcissistic.  We live in a culture of people who love to share their pain.

Sometimes your pain is incredibly public.  But it doesn’t go away when the cameras leave your driveway.  You and your family continue in pain, and many continue to wonder how you’re doing.  Sometimes you realize that others may find help and healing from your story.  You see that some of the good that God brings of the evil is to help others who suffer similar loss.

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  2 Corinthians 1

Mary Beth Chapman opens the door on their private lives and pain in Choosing to See: A Journey of Struggle and Hope.  She walks the tightrope, but pretty much remains on track.  She shares her struggles before Maria’s tragic death and following that horrible day.  She is honest but not ‘graphic’; she does not delve into unnecessary detail.  For instance, she shares that she was sexually assaulted (date rape?).  She does not focus on the event, but the ways it affected her.

She adds a good dose of humor as well.  This is very good since there is so much pain in this story.  All but the hardest of hearts will weep.

While she seeks to make some sense of what happened, and there is a little theology, she leaves room for mystery.  She doesn’t claim to have all the answers about why.  It is about faith struggling to trust without answers.  That struggle began many years before her husband was famous.

“Looking back, I’m not sure if this works orientation is what my church really taught, or if this was how I perceived it.”

I like the honesty here.  But she isn’t blaming others.  She recognizes the weaknesses of memory.  For instance, CavGirl swears my in-laws were here for CavSon’s Gotta-versary dinner.  It was my parents who were here.  Mary Beth admits she had a faulty understanding of our relationship of God.  She’s just not sure of its origin.  Unlike many who bash fundamentalist churches, she does not lay the blame at their feet.  I found that refreshing, even though I’m not a Fundamentalist.

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I think this will be my final post on The Future of Justification: a Response to N.T. Wright by John Piper.  I think it is more of an assessment than a response.  Piper does a good job of laying out N.T. Wright’s distinctive views on these issues, and then weighing them.  Piper does more than assess them by his own views, he tries to examine if they fit the evidence of Wright’s secondary sources, and (more importantly) the biblical texts.  He also weighs Wright’s criticisms of evangelical theology on this matter (which have some merit) as well as these proposed solution (not so much merit there).

Piper avoids the common traps of polemical theology.  He affirms where N.T. Wright is correct.  He does not demonize him or attack him personally.  In all this I think Piper writes a book that is clear, fair and convincing.  If disciples of N.T. Wright want to hear a fair case of the other side- this is it.  They might not be convinced that Wright is going in unhelpful ways in this matter, but allegiances can work that way.  And then my question becomes, are there areas in which you disagree with him?  If not, then you probably aren’t thinking.  I disagree with John Piper on a few issues, but not here.

Anyway… in chapter 10 Piper assesses the implications of ethnic badges and self-help moralism.  Wright sees “the works of the law” “as an ethnic badge worn to show that a person is in the covenant rather than deeds done to show they deserve God’s favor.”  Wright points to Romans 3:26-30.

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