Pride, Part 65

Pride likes to hide itself in ways so as not to see itself in all of its horror. But pride must be exposed in order for Christianity to be centered upon God and to receive all from God as free grace. Pride likes to dress itself in the garb of religion and morality, but even there it is still pride. Pride hides itself in religion and morality by taking what was God-centered in all ways and simply changing a few things at a time until things are now man-centered. Pride hides itself under the guise of the language and perhaps the theology of what was once God-centeredness, but it has gutted the heart from it and turns it into man-centeredness with the language of God about it.

“In Luther, the theocentricity of primitive Christianity returns; and it is the determining factor of his whole outlook. His opposition to Catholicism is due ultimately to nothing else but this. In the Catholic conception of Christianity, it is in the last analysis man who occupies the centre of the religious stage; in Luther’s reforming conception it is God. Luther seeks to eradicate every vestige of the egocentric or anthropocentric tendency from the religious relationship. There is no place for the slightest degree of human self-assertion in the presence of God. Here, man must be content to receive undeserved the gifts God wills to bestow on him, and to obey without thought of reward the commandments God pleases to give him. In other words, he must let God really be God, the center around which his whole existence moves. This theocentric emphasis can be described as the fundamental motif of Luther’s entire thought.” (Let God Be God! An Interpretation of the Theology of Martin Luther)

If the Reformation is thought of in terms of God and His glory versus man-centeredness of the slightest degree of human self-assertion, then everything takes on a different picture. It is no longer just a certain theology that the Reformers held that we must return to, because that theology itself can hide human self-assertion as does Arminianism. While Catholicism was inundated with human self-assertion, it hid it very well from most people in the language of theology and religious rituals that were said to bring grace. We live in a day where human self-assertion is rampant in all brands of theology. Clearly, or at least it seems to be so, that what is needed is a new Reformation that sweeps human self-assertion off its legs of pride and fights for a thorough God-centeredness in all things. In the quote above it is said that Luther sought “to eradicate every vestige of the egocentric or anthropocentric tendency from the religious relationship. There is no place for the slightest degree of human self-assertion in the presence of God.” These are the marching orders of a new Reformation. Human self-assertion is nothing but pride and is puny man trying to assert himself into the things of God. This must be eradicated.

Catholicism used the word “grace” a lot, but it was not biblical grace. It was a grace invented by men so that they could dispense it as they willed rather than proclaiming the grace of God who gives grace at His good pleasure. Romans 3:24 is quite clear that we are justified by a grace that is a free gift. What it really means is that the grace that saves finds no reason or cause to save a person in the person. The reason or cause of salvation is found in God. Catholicism did not use grace like that, but rather human self-assertion had made grace available to man by the works, merit, or even money of man. Arminianism has human self-assertion in that salvation is left up to the free-will of man which is to say that grace is available to a human being when it is willing to assert itself to do so. Ah, but Reformed theology has its own problems. It many corners it seems to have a grace available as long as people are baptized. In other circles it seems that grace is available to those that will believe certain things. But where is human pride denounced and trounced on so that the freeness of God can be seen in showing grace to whom He pleases? Oh no, we are told, we should not talk like that because it will run people away. Jesus talked like that and He ran almost everybody off too. If we don’t make clear what the term grace really means and who the God is that shows grace according to His own pleasure, we leave the door open to human self-assertion.

It is true that life may be easier in many ways when we allow the foot of human self-assertion in the door, but that is nothing but allowing pride to come in the door in disguise. Where there is pride grace will go the other way. If we would rather be nice and gracious (in a manner of speaking) and get along with everybody, we will be found to be the enemies of grace while we hide ourselves with the words. The Reformation was a time when men stood up and gave their lives in an effort to stamp out human self-assertion in Christianity. This is why we must follow Scripture alone and why we must preach a Gospel of grace alone that God shows as He pleases. We may lose friends and money, but our true goal must be to love God and His glory above all things.

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