A Fantastic Truth not a Comfortable Notion

Sermons

Preached by The Reverend Paul D. Allick on The Great Vigil of Easter (Saturday, April 15, 2017)

The salvation story we just encountered is implausible, weird, wonderful and stunning. Despite how Easter will be celebrated culturally tomorrow morning with Easter egg hunts and new spring outfits, tonight we encounter a fantastic truth that rattles us to the core with awe and joy.

 

We proclaim that God has come intimately into our human existence. From creating us out of mud, to setting us up in paradise only to see us wreck it, to the beyond heroic faith of father Abraham, to the crossing of the Red Sea God has called us out and taken on us on a long strange trip. On that trek, we have been delivered from mere idol worship into an intimate relationship with a living God. Through his Holy People Israel, the Lord God revealed to us that our God is One and he is Merciful, Just and Fantastical.

 

This is in stark contrast to the mild agnostic deism I encounter so often in Mother Church. This is Salvation Story is well and good as long as it serves my left or right political agenda. I’m not going to blindly follow the weird bits but I will find a way to bend the overall meaning toward my theological self-assurance.

 

Sociologists Christian Smith and Melinda Denton, after researching the religious views of young Americans, came up with this description, “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.”

 

Ø  A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth

Ø  God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and most religions

Ø  The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself

Ø  God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem

Ø  Good people go to heaven when they die

 

Many of us believe that this “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” has infiltrated Christianity and other religions in the United States. These comfortable notions fall in line with our quest for inclusion at all costs but they do not touch the meaning of tonight.

 

This awesome Salvation Story doesn’t settle down as it goes on. It gets more bizarre. It culminates in God becoming one of us, living and dying like one of us and then conquering death forever! That is not a comfortable notion. This is a stunning revelation that changes everything forever!

 

Here is how I would restate the ideas of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism for the serious disciple of Jesus living in the real world, for those of us who want the Jesus Movement to be the center of our lives:

Ø  The Creator and Sustainer of the universe has stooped down to a fallen humanity. In Christ God has entered into a passionate relationship with us. God does far more than benignly watch over us.

Ø  God want us to be reconciled with him and each other in the love of Jesus. We do this by pursuing reconciliation, by respecting the dignity of every human being. This isn’t just about personal happiness and fulfillment. It is about striving for happiness and fulfillment for the whole community.

Ø  God continues to be involved in our lives. We should thank him more often and not only talk with him when we have a problem.

Ø  People who are reconciling with God and each other in the Name of Jesus Christ will experience the joy of the kingdom here and now and in the life to come.

 

Tonight, is so much more wonderfully strange and breathtaking than some bland Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.

 

 

 

Reference: Soul Searching by Christian Smith and Melinda Denton.