The Bankrupt Theology of the Morality Gospel

Blogs and Podcast with David Leo Schultz

There has long been a war between Christians over law vs. grace. But the war started long before our little religion ever started. These were conversations on the fringe of Judaism in the time of the incarnated Christ – Jesus. And I have a feeling this tension existed long before the incarnation. 

I can remember several heated conversations in college on the folly of grace and the need for morality. It’s as if grace in the objectors mind is a cute sentiment but ultimately it’s not sufficient to produce a “faithful” and “obedient” believer.

Grace and love just don’t cut it. 

Or so they think…they need law, a hyper focus on obedience, and a strong sense of rules, and a dedication to morality. 

If I were an Atheist – I’d agree with them. 

But I’m not an Atheist – I believe there is a Divine Madman behind the material world as we know it. And the DNA of the Divine Madman is nothing short of love and grace. 

Or as Richard Rohr says in his eye opening book, The Immortal Diamond, “ Perhaps “Grace” is the first name of God, and “Grace” is probably his last name too.”

If the Morality Gospel really worked, then I believe our world would or should look a whole lot differently – but considering the jaw dropping number of people that call themselves Christians in this country…and there’s no doubt they strive to be “moral”…but they are communities also known for hate, judgement, shame, and condemnation to such a high extent…that people are literally fleeing the churches…and leaving by the droves…and the ones that are surviving and thriving…are selling a “different” type of gospel…and not a healthy one…but that’s another blog post or rant all together.

To get down to business…the problem with the Morality Gospel….is it’s a flawed “why” in the pursuit of holiness. Or perhaps a better word than “flawed”…is EMPTY.

Those that are more in love with the “law” than the God who is literally made of Divine Grace….they say that the pursuit of morality is the best way and why if we hope to be obedient and God honoring…

They just don’t get it. 

We’re not obedient …or moral….for the sake of being moral…or even obedient….we are in love with LOVE because we are loved by LOVE.

I’ll be so bold to say this…if love isn’t the why behind your obedience …than call it what you want…but it’s not really obedient or moral.

It’s a shallow substitute for the real thing.

Are you starting to see or getting a sense of where I’m going?

If my actions, words, or deeds have the appearance of morality or obedience it’s because it’s a “fruit”…not because it’s the end goal.

And therein lies the problem for the law lovers…that’s the wrong road they take that leaves them as the scriptures would prophesy…”The outside of the cup is clean…but the inside is filthy.”

What you chase after is usually what you get, unfortunately it’s usually all you get…and that’s the problem with the Lord of your life being a life of morality or obedience.

See God wants our hearts.

His plan is to transform our hearts from desiring the things that don’t matter…to the things that do matter…from the shallow to the deep. From the things that pass away to the eternal.

But what about Jesus’ words that say…”obey my commands.”

Yes. But this must be read without theological reductionism. 

It’s just my opinion, but God isn’t saying…obey my commands…regardless if you want to….what He’s saying is this…My disciples obey my commands…BECAUSE they want to. 

My point probably could just be made by saying…the law lovers just got the cart before the horse…

But my friends this order is very crucial. If you get the order wrong…you will fall into the very cliche but very common Christian crisis here in America…a person has the moral resume and the belief system to call themselves a Christian…without actually being one.

A reformation that has to happen…is we have to get past this idea that you are only a Christian if you believe …or call yourself one…and start looking at the fruit…

And again…I’m not talking about morality fruit here…there’s many christians who are completely moral, and think they have all the “right” beliefs…and the fruit of their life is completely rotten.

So, where’s the hope?

The way truly is narrow. You can’t get to God through morality, or obediently EARNING him…He loves you too much to allow that…

There’s only one way…and that is through grace…

It’s grace, because of grace, and because He is grace, and that’s because His name is grace…and that’s probably His last name too.

In short, forget about pursuing being moral or obedience…that’s been done for decades if not centuries…so why not try something different…

Let the WHY of your WALK with Christ be something…new …and fresh…let the WHY of your WALK be LOVE.

Then when people look at your life and call it moral or obedient…you might not even know what they are talking about…because those are external observations to your love affair with God…

But those descriptions are sterile and empty..and are a far cry from what’s really going on…

What then, is going on?

Love. That’s what.

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