…in her post column on Christianity.
Most perplexing was columnist Dan Savage’s indignant accusation that Hume was claiming that Christianity “offers the best deal — it gives you the get-out-of-adultery-free card that other religions just can’t.”
In fact, that’s exactly what Christianity does. It’s the best deal in the universe.
That is true. The first half of her column contains truths and the snark that she is famous for; to wit:
(If liberals really want to keep people from hearing about God, they should give Him his own show on MSNBC.)
And then follows with one of the greatest and truest paradoxes of the universe.
Christianity is simultaneously the easiest religion in the world and the hardest religion in the world.
She then describes the no frills version of Christianity. That version she describes is an accurate picture of most versions of protestantism and protestant belief in general, and in doing so she hits the brick wall built by Mr. Luther and his successors:
Christianity is also the hardest religion in the world because, if you believe Christ died for your sins and rose from the dead, you have no choice but to give your life entirely over to Him. No more sexual promiscuity, no lying, no cheating, no stealing, no killing inconvenient old people or unborn babies — no doing what all the other kids do.
Ah sorry Ann but you just got though telling us that in the no-frills version we don’t have to do a thing, therefore under your explanation we DON’T have to give up sexual promiscuity, lying, cheating, stealing, killing inconvenient old people or unborn babies — doing what all the other kids do. Under that belief system it doesn’t matter one bit, one simply declaration and you are all set, even if you backslide, once saved always saved. That being the case why bother to do good? Does it really make a difference?
Yes it does. Here is why:
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna. 5:22
If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions. 6:14-15
Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. 7:19
I tell you, on the day of judgment people will render an account for every careless word they speak. By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” 12:36-37
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” 25:41-46
Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 8:34b
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 12:30-31
Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’ Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where (you) are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!’ 13:23-27
Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 17:3
But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. 19:8-9
Jesus answered and said to him, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. 14:23-24
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 15:10
“I have told you this so that you may not fall away. 16:1
And of course James:
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. 2:14-19
You’ve got to follow through, if you slip you can be forgiven after all it is written:
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” John 20:22-23
But you do need to ask for that forgiveness, as Paul said even he was not safe:
No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified. 1 Cor 9:27 emphasis mine
In a big way this is really a chicken and egg argument, a person with faith is going to produce works, and a person doing works for the sake of faith does the same. There is less of an argument than you think.
The real problem is when the doctrine is used to justify non-repentance for actual sin. That’s the silent danger. One hides sins rather than combat them. It is SO easy. As they remain hidden, those favorite sins of ours that each of us are most vulnerable to, they grow stronger and stronger while we ignore them; after all why confront them? We are saved by faith alone. Finally we finally reach that point where we are two different people at once. When we use justification by faith alone to excuse without repentance, our personal sins we are no different than the Pharisees in Matthew 15:4-9. Those will be the sins that fester and without repentance eventually will destroy us.
Have no fear, we have our entire life to prevent this, but not one second more.