Friday, 29 August 2014

Tango with God?

I must confess that I love the #humour of this one

THINKING OUT LOUD: I missed the #CalvinismDebate - only a Twitter reference afterwards alerting me even to its very existence. Apparently you can follow it here and here. Someone reported (OK - that makes it, officially, "hearsay") that one of the non Calvinist  contenders referred to salvation being likened unto a dance. Well, I had somewhat to say about that! And this led to an interesting discussion with Mr Vreeland which starts here, where (as I often say) you can wade through the rushes yourself. TBH, I forgot about Matthew 11:17 so I have to drink some of my own medicine. You know, the one with #SimpleConcordance written on the bottle :o) I thought about the Matthew 11:17 reference overnight. 
And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.

Does Matthew 11:17 refer to salvation, or is it just the side detail of an overall thought that you just couldn't satisfy the crabby old Pharisees, no matter what you did? When you piped and danced, they thought you were too light and happy clappy. When you mourned and cried, they thought you were too glum and depressing? I would tend to think the latter. 

"Salvation" is a serious word. To say "I was saved..." indicates some calamity. We tend to think of watery grave and burning buildings. We tend to sing hymns to that end like "Throw out the life line across the dark wave..." or (more succintly) "Rescue the perishing..."  and we think of men like General Booth of the Salvation Army who took his troops into the slums of Victorian London. The word "dance" OTOH isn't so serious. As Mr Vreeland points out, it is more used to denote joyful worship. Psalm 149:3 coming to mind. 

This being so, most of the salvation verses speak of the sinner standing in great need, while the Saviour (significant title) comes to relieve that great need. Examples may be multiplied:

Acts 16:30-31/Romans 10:13 etc., bring us the word "saved"  as expounded in Matt 1:21 where Jesus will "save His people from their sins" i.e. the guilt and pollution and (one day) presence of sin.

In John 6 the starving sinner is saved from the ravages of hunger
In John 7 the parched sinner is saved from the ravages of thirst
In Luke 15 - the wandering and helpless sheep is saved from certain death
In Luke 15 (again) - the wasteful prodigal is saved from destitution and starvation
In Luke 18- the self humiliating sinner crying for mercy
In Matthew 18  - the bankrupt debtor is saved from the prison
in Matthew 23 the helpless little chick is saved under the hen's wings from the predator 

Sometimes, the salvation truth changes. We seem to move from the terrible idea of immediate plight is not so prominent. Hence: 

In Matthew 13 the pearl dealer sells all to secure the pearl of great price
In Matthew 13 (again) the treasure seeker sells all to secure the appropriate field 

We must use the word "immediate" though, must we not? The gain, once within our grasp, could be lost if we dither. I suppose we could argue that if the pearl dealer etc., did not make money, then he would ultimately starve. The wolf is never far from the door, even if we are running a multi million pound business. The emphasis seems to be on the riches we have in Christ and also, by extension, the value of our own soul and therefore the need (so it does turn up) on securing its immediate salvation.

If we elevate the thought of dancing with God (drawn, supposedly, from Matthew 11:19) to salvation, then how is the big loss conveyed to us if we don't take to the floor? People in need don't dance. They cry out - they call - they lay hold - they plead - they flee etc. 

Perhaps the context of the original statement throws additional light on the thought patterns of the one who used this analogy. I accept that I am commenting on a stand alone statement. My first thought (as may be seen above) ran to AW Tozer's comment which I find myself constantly referring to, where he spoke his total contempt for the teddy bear gods of modern evangelism. Calvinists in particular (plus non Calvinists like Tozer) dread the type of theology that presents salvation in any light short of the sinner needing mercy. This is why we also abominate the idea of the "I gave Jesus my casting vote" analogy in election which effectively switches the roles and puts Jesus on the back foot. I simply saw the "dancing with God" analogy in the same light. 

Will we ever dance with God? In 2 Samuel 6:24, David danced before the Lord in the OT era (with all his might) which suggests a reverent distance being kept. He attributed the cause of his dancing to the Lord in Psalm 30:11 (where the thought of mourning and sackcloth also turn up) but he does not claim that in so doing he "danced with God." Indeed, the term does not turn up anywhere in the Bible (at least, not in the AV) and therefore not in Matthew 11:19 either.

Just a few thoughts...



1 comment:

  1. Yes I would agree on Matthew 17:11. Jesus Christ himself goes on to explain what he meant in verses 18 and 19. John the Baptist came with a prophetic ministry of rebuke, calling for repentance. Jesus Christ came as a friend of sinners, and ate and drank with them (Lk 19:1-7). Yet no matter. The Pharisees largely feared John but would not heed his call, nor admit he was sent of God. They also rejected the Lord Jesus Christ. Matthew Henry has a very good write up of this portion of scripture:
    After reading Mr. Henry, you also could see where these that would write such things as salvation being as a dance were much like the people of Jesus' day. They were as children in their thinking. Unable to grasp real biblical truth, childish in their thinking, they only pretend to be religious. They find fault with true piety and amuse themselves with making the scriptures say what pleases them, rather than soberly trying to understand its true intent and meaning.


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