Robert Wieland, in the book Grace on Trial, writes about three motivations that are often empoyed in seeking to gain converts to Christianity. These are:
1) Pie in The Sky – Don’t you want the streets of gold and to live forever?
2) Fear of Hell – You don’t want to go to hell? Whether hell is an ever burning reality (as most evangelicals teach) or a punishment that will burn out (as Adventists and some evangelicals teach),
both use the scare tactic that was used by Jonathan Edwards in his classic sermon “Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God.”
3) God Will Hook You Up Here And Now – Pay your tithe or plant your seed and watch God hook you up with blessings.
These are the basic approaches that all of us use. Fear of death, hope for heaven, or hope for a better life down here.
Ultimately all three of these are based in what can I get? The larger question is can any of these three motivations keep us?
When our life decends into a hell that looks like Job’s life, will the false promise of God hooking us up with “things” down here stand up?
When the enticing temptation of immediate gratification comes before us, can either a fear of hell or a hope for heaven keep us from sin?
Weiland attempts to break through these motivations by positing the Cross. When one looks at the cross in its fullness, according to Weiland’s theology, one cannot help but be transformed as one was willing to “go to hell” or “say goodbye to life forever” to save all of humanity.
This reality does not use hope of heaven or threatenings of hell to change us. Simply a look at the cross and “by beholding we become changed.”
If this is true, then we need to look at the cross again. How does the cross eclicit this kind of love response?
And finally, is this love something that can guide us to a higher place than the hoep of heaven, fear of hell, or seeking the hookup?
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