Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cameron, Morgan, pt. 5

Wise Witnesses # 3: The Heart Of The Matter.

Cameron might also have engaged Morgan on deeper and more fundamental issues. 
 Regardless of the sneaky tactics of Morgan, we should know not to engage in moralism or moralistic debate with unbelievers. With unbelievers, moral disputes of any kind are seldom profitable. Why? Because the issue, the real problem, is not their professed morality or lack there of. Rather, the real problem is one's relationship to God. It is idolatry that leads to immorality; immorality is God's judgment on idolatry (Romans 1.18ff). Sure, immorality is a sign of the wrath to come -- but, it is also a sign that wrath has come: a sign, in response to our forsaking God, that God has forsaken us. He has let our wicked hurts run free.

Idolatry deals more deeply with the plight of mankind than moralism, but the problem goes deeper. Why are we idolaters? Why? Because we are all born in a state of guilt and dastardly rebellion against God; sin is not surprising. We don't, not at first, become sinners because we sin; we sin because we ARE sinners. Sin is, apart from grace, all we can do. Sin is not surprising – grace is.

Sinful rebellion against God is our nature as the heirs of Adam. Our natural condition, down to the heart of our hearts, is spiritual deadness. We don't need a few new morals; we need a whole new heart. Something -- not supplemental and external, but fundamental and internal -- is wrong with us. Morality is our problem in the same way that a chipped nail is the problem of a corpse; in other words, only a problem if one prefers looking lively over being alive. This is why, when Jesus was approached by Nicodemus, he cut him to the heart, and dealt with his heart, in a single phrase, “You must be born again (John 3.3).” Jesus brushed aside Nicodemus’ faint praise, “You are a swell teacher Jesus. I think real high of you.” He brushed this aside, rather rudely and abruptly, and got to the relevant real deal, “You must be born again.” Nicodemus tried to damn Jesus with faint praise; Jesus, in response, told him, with no praise, that he was damned. 

Piers Morgan, like Nicodemus, certainly has a fair admiration of Jesus the teacher. He has his own ideas about a ‘loving’ God as he made plain in his Lewis Black interview. He clearly thinks of himself as moral, and even morally superior to Cameron. In his own mind, neither his religious views, nor his ethical guidelines, are a real problem. He's right; he'd be shocked to find out how right he is. These are not the real problem. He's got much deeper problems: he is, at present, dead in sin, and blind to truth. His moral preening before cameras is viewed by many -- but, it is, in the strictest sense of the word, a 'viewing': he's sound asleep at his own wake.

Unbelievers often want to mud wrestle over moral questions, and they usually pose such questions in dreadful worse cased scenarios, "What if your daughter were raped?" In a way, many unbelievers are actually too moral or, rather, too concerned about only morals; too caught up in defending their personal self-righteousness, and being morally superior to others. Ah, the smugness. What a strange thing to see a corpse smile with satisfaction. I sometimes wonder if the world has forgotten that Jesus' followers include scores of former prostitutes, drunks, blasphemers, embezzlers, and low-lifes: scores of people even now snubbed by the self-satisfied elite. Micah prophesied that The City of God would be populated by the lame. Huh? 

And the lame I will make the remnant, and those who were cast off, a strong nation; and the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion from this time forth and forevermore (Micah 4.7).
I read those words again today, and again, scratched my head. Even now, The City of God is being colonized -- to the derision of the so-called healthy -- by men who crawl forth on all fours with dust on their lips? What a strange prophecy -- does it ever fail to shock? Does it ever fail to startle that one Saul of Tarsus, the least moral man who ever lived, the infamous chief of sinners, is one Jesus' most famous followers. 

Jesus appears rather drawn to than repelled by these kinds of broken people. He can, obviously, deal decisively with whatever immorality there is, and whatever guilt and power accompany such immorality. So, ironically, a man's morality is often a bigger hindrance than a man's immorality. A man's morality may divert his attention from his deeper problem: his utterly corrupt and dead heart.

By getting mired with Morgan in a battle of the wits over morality, Cameron was wasting his breath. Morgan wasn’t convinced, and he wasn’t going to be convinced. He couldn’t even fathom what Cameron was saying; it was literally folly to him. No surprise. Blind men can’t see truth no matter how big the letters are painted. When Jesus confronted Nicodemus, he went to the heart of the matter: the heart. Mankind is blinded by sin and in a mad rage against the good God. Jesus told Nicodemus he’d never see the Kingdom unless he was born again. He didn’t try to paint the picture of the Kingdom in vivid colors; Nicodemus couldn’t see any color apart from the gracious intervention of God. 

The grace of God -- there’s the only remedy for dead rebels: transformation and spiritual vision comes by the grace of God. It comes, not by man's decision, but by God's, as God unilaterally raises dead sinners out of their spiritual graves and opens their blind eyes. We can’t argue anyone into the Kingdom anymore than we can argue a dead person back to life. Even if we were to win the argument, and persuade them of our position -- well, all we've done is polish a chipped nail on a corpse.

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