The Problem With Catchy Slogans
I have a friend named “Joe.” While he would claim to be a Christian, Joe thinks that he can do whatever he wants. Anything. He life lacks any sort of responsibility or accountability. His response: “Once saved, always saved” and “God loves me the way I am.”
Catchy slogans are useful, because they can express truth in memorable ways. But the problem is that, taken in isolation, they can represent falsehoods. Joe’s slogans are derived from the Bible, but without the Bible they are misleading, just as freedom of speech does not function apart our other legal rights and responsibilities: you cannot say whatever you want whenever you want (shout “fire!” in a crowded movie theater, etc.).
I do believe that the Bible teaches that God will protect his own until the very end (John 17; Romans 8:38). Calvinists call this the “perseverance of the saints,” although many other groups hold to similar beliefs. But how can you know that you are “saved” if your life does not reflect your professed faith?
God loves you, he really does. But his is not the love of a dismissive and permissive parent (Deism?). His is the love of an actively involved father, working in the lives of his children, calling them to himself. His is the love of an artist, wooing his creation ever more into his own image.
I think of the prophet Hosea, called by God to marry the prostitute named Gomer (what a name!) to be an example of the kind of love God has for his wayward people. “I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one. ‘I will say to those called ‘Not my people, ”You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.'”” Hosea 2:23Yet we want something for nothing. The offer of grace, of God’s forgiveness, is free. It costs nothing to grasp hold of it. But it costs everything to keep hold of it. The better slogan is “God loves you the way you are, but he is not content to leave you that way.”
Bonhoeffer called the cop-out “cheap grace.” It is “the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance,… grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ” (The Cost of Discipleship). Cheap grace is not grace.
Lazy faith is not faith.