Chuck De Groat’s “You’re Not As Bad as you think you are!”

New Exodus

Great quotes from Calvin on the image of God within us all.

And my comment I left:

The ecclesiastical journey aspect of this fascinates me. I grew up CRC but never felt hobbled by lack of acceptance and overwhelming judgment from God. Of course my CRC experience was very much dictated by my father who was also my pastor. I’ve never been a part of a church where this was a dominant theme, although I know plenty of CRC folks who have. Church for me has always been a place of great love, acceptance, grace, affirmation. I imagine I have been blessed in this while others have not.

Of course your title seems in response to Tim Keller’s mantra. “The Gospel is that I am far worse than I imagine and simultaneously more loved and accepted by God than I ever dared hope for — because of Jesus death for me.”

Is there anything beneficial to telling them the first part? I guess that is the question. I’ve generally experienced the doctrine of total depravity to be liberating and communal. I always understand it both as “I’m not alone in my mess” which is comforting. I also sense it as “I have no right to look down upon another. Why exalt myself at their expense?”

What I hear from you is that a real issue in some of these conservative Reformed enclaves is a belief in the functional efficacy of holy browbeating. It’s the ecclesiastical equivalent of never telling your beautiful daughter she’s lovely because “I don’t want her to get a big head.”

My impression (and you’re the shrink in this conversation) is that so much of this is:

1. passed on implicitly in our relationships, families and communities.

I don’t find TD to be debilitating because the community that I grew up in which it was embraced doctrinally didn’t receive it as a cause for some morose self-flagellation.

2. in places where it has become a cornerstone of individual identity it has bonded with other aspects of our brokenness to become abusive. Like when the stories of a violent, angry god are employed to justify our anger and violence.

I’ll have to ponder this further.

Thanks for illuminating the side of Calvin that unfortunately gets far too little press. pvk

About PaulVK

Husband, Father of 5, Pastor
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