Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Pastoral and the Prophetic

Biblical Christianity has two voices: the pastoral and the prophetic. It's vogue today to focus on the healing, the comforting and the affirming message of the Faith. This is important but it is incomplete without the prophetic voice, the call for sinners to become saints through the death and resurrection of Christ. The prophetic voice is the unambiguous demand for repentance and the direct proclamation of the consequences of not repenting. This prophetic voice is further for people "at ease in Zion" who confess Christianity but their lives don't support their professions:

"They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work."
(Titus 1.16 ESV)

We find one such example of the prophetic voice in a Journal entry by John Wesley. For October 2, 1741, the Anglican evangelist pens:

"We rode to Fonmon castle. We found Mr. Jones's daughter ill of the smallpox; but he could cheerfully leave her and all the rest in the hands of Him in whom he now believed. In the evening I preached at Cardiff in the shire-hall, a large and convenient place, on 'God hath given unto us eternal life, and this life is in his son' [I John 5:11]. There having been a feast in the town that day, I believed it needful to add a few words upon intemperance: and while I was saying, 'As for you, drunkards, you have no part in this life; you abide in death; you choose death and hell,' a man cried out vehemently, 'I am one; and thither I am going.' But I trust God at that hour began to show him and others 'a more excellent way.'"

Granted, such a blunt statement—drunks are going to hell—won't mesh with the notion of some antimonians who believe in an extreme form of unconditional eternal security. However, Wesley, the Arminian, wasn't a stranger to controversy (or opposition) for telling the blunt truth. After all, the Scripture does say:

"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." (1Co 6.9-10 ESV)

It's not popular in today's climate that demands "tolerance" (i.e. never tell anybody he's wrong) but it is the biblical truth. Wesley stood for truth and he called them as he saw them. He certainly said enough things to estrange others from his message. Doubtless many people refused to heed him.

But those who truly hungered and thirsted for righteousness listened.