Sanctification and Faith – In Response to Tullian Tchividjian (Link)

Geoff ChapmanThinking Out Loud0 Comments

Tullian Tchividjian talks about the dangers of accountability groups here:

I have posted a response in the comments but wanted to copy it here in case it doesn’t make the cut!Here goes:

It seems that the whole debate about sanctification focuses on the question of how much effort a Christian should put into their own sanctification and where that effort is focused.

Is any effort at all a violation of God’s grace to us in Christ? Should we just let go and let God?

Should we concentrate on an increasing understanding of God’s grace that leads us to greater thankfulness and therefore thankful obedience. Or does that lead to a kind of sanctification by faith alone?

Should we enter into personal examination or small-group accountability to try to rout out sin in our lives? Should we put effort into Christian disciplines? Should we seek to obey God’s law more? How much effort can we put in before we start to drift towards legalism and fall into the Galatian error?

The discussions between advocates of different approaches to sanctification often come from the point of view of “this approach leads to this error, therefore something else must be the answer”. Often this comes from personal painful experiences of allowing antinomianism or legalism to grow in our own hearts. It is natural that we become repulsed by the theologies that seemed to be complicit in our sin and so we come to advocate an opposing view.
It is common for Christians who have lived without sufficient regard to God’s law and his holiness to come to a sudden and overwhelming repentance that transforms their discipleship with a new, and wonderful obedience. It is natural that they are resistant to any theology that would seemingly lead them back toward antinomianism. Likewise, for those who lived under an emphasis on law that has led to legalism, the realisation of God’s grace is sudden, powerful and liberating, bringing life to a dry and desolate faith. It is natural that they want to emphasise grace and are resistant to theologies that seem to lead them back into the desert from which they emerged.

Maybe our mistake is in trying to come up with methods that fit our experiences. Is there a more profound starting point? What is God asking us to do when he commands us to “work out your faith with fear and trembling”. Why does he ask us to do that when he could sanctify us instantly if he wished?

It is not ultimately a matter of “How much effort and in what way?” That is a secondary issue. Until we answer the question “Why does God require any effort on our part at all?” then the debate may continue to pendulate and our theology will be less fruitful than it should be.


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