The dudes at the White Horse Inn have done it again with another peach of a podcast. This week worldly wisdom was compared with the folly of God in the gospel. Horton and co. were again discussing the Corinthian church and the problems faced there. Horton mentioned that Corinthian culture was invading the church and doing violence to the gospel.
In Corinth, oratory skills were prized. Motivational speakers would pack out arenas where they would wow the crowds with their eloquence. Much of the time, it wasn't the substance of what they said that was important as opposed to the way in which it was said. Many of the messages focused on getting ahead in life and advancing in finance, work, etc.
This cultural baggage had found its way into the Corinthian church where sexy-speakers were wowing the congregation with their 'life skills' talks and engaging style. They spoke a message of worldly wisdom. Paul contrasts their message with his in chapter 2 where he describes his gospel as the 'message of the cross'. 'Jews look for signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but for those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.'
So we have to ask ourselves, what message are we cleaving to? I trust that readers of this blog aren't clinging to the charismental Benny Hinn-style sign seeking approach. I would guess that we are more susceptible to looking for a 'wise' message by this world's standards.
How often do you hear in church, 'I just want a practical message' or 'I prefer practical preaching'. Too many of us want life skills taught from the pulpit. We want relationship advice or love makin' tips or child rearing advice. In contrast, the message of the Scriptures is simply, as Machen put it, a grand indicative.
This indicative is the message of Christ, crucified, buried and raised for his people. To be honest, you get very little 'practical' teaching in the NT. Sure you get general principles like, 'husbands love your wives' etc, but even these are only issued in the light of the gospel 'e.g. as Christ loved the church'. We want law, we want principles, we want purpose driven lives. We want to know how to find the equilibrium and stay there. We want to know how much money to give to the church, how much time we should pray each day, blah blah blah.
Sorry, but this is the last thing we need. The history of Israel should tell us that life skills will only condemn us when we fail to practice them. 'Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law to do them' (Gal 3). Whenever we hear our hearts moan for law lite, we need to preach Christ to ourselves. He was justified by his works so we could be justified by grace. Our living should be an overflow of the grace we've received in Christ. The only imperative you get in the NT is, as Augustine affirmed, 'love God and live how you like'.