Tag Archives: sloppy agape

Cheap Grace, Sloppy Agape, Greasy Grace

Is it my imagination or does it appear that millions of Christians think this life of a believer is some easy road? If I hear “once saved always saved” one more time I will _____.

Furthermore the way Grace is tossed around you’d think God didn’t judge sin or think it was much of a big deal. Not so.

Men’s hearts are dark and their deeds reveal what is in their hearts. All will be exposed, judged and cleansed.  One way or the other.

God will expose all evil everywhere

Agape (pronounced ah-gah-pay) is the Greek word for sacrificial love. Greek, being the most exacting of languages, has several words for love. Phileo means love between people. We recognize Philadelphia as the city of brotherly love. There is eros for sexual love, and storge which is family love, and there are many parts of the world where only family love exists. Sloppy agape has come to mean for the Christian church that since Jesus paid it all, we can sit back on His laurels and be-bop our way to the final whoppy-goodbye. Others call it greasy or cheap grace.

Grace is God’s word for blessings no human has now or ever will deserve. Grace then is undeserved benefits. But you’d jolly well think many are only too happy to let Jesus pay it all and then live no-account lives on the interest payments.

Sitting in church  produces no Christians

I can barely count the numbers of “believers” – using the term loosely – who think they become Christians by sitting in church. I challenge you. Sit in the garage for three months and see if you can turn into a Ford F150.

Jesus (and the Bible) reassures the new believers that they are not going to slip back into hell. But people – if you’ve been around for some years, you should not need constant reassurance about your salvation. You are not a baby anymore – or should not be. Babies are lovable and cute but they produce little more than smiles, and feces. Parents are only too happy to take them off the bottle and enroll them  into kindergarten.

The test of salvation is continuing maturity

The test of salvation is growing up. Is there anything more heartbreaking than seeing a bus load of adults who have some severe retardation? Or disability? No, because we know that the best that life has for them is not available. God will save and bless them but it is not the perfect thing for man.

Same for the believers. Time to show up, grow up and man up.

Game Theory and the Weakness in Christian Evangelism.

Economist John Forbes Nash won a Noble prize for game theory. He made two points. (1) The more valuable something appears to be in the minds of the competitors, the higher the price it generates. As an example, he noted that a beautiful girl created greater competition than just a pretty girl vying for the same group of young men.

(2) Competitors seek to keep the final price as cheap as possible, which he called equilibrium. For math-nuts there is a pile of equations which we will ignore here. Both theories apply to modern Christian evangelism.

Nash described a bar scene where a group of college boys discussed the girls. A pretty girl entered and several of the men, but not all of them, went over to get her attention. A little later on a drop-dead gorgeous girl came in and all the men gathered round.

The prize of the game – the girl – earned her value by her perceived worth to the men based on her beauty. Her actual value may have been very little – in fact she might be a tiresome pill. The merely pretty girl may be much more clever, intelligent and talented but this did not factor into the game.

Let us apply this to the issue of Christian evangelism. Clearly the most valuable thing available to humans today is the saving of their soul. Its loss is an eternal disaster.

If we apply game theory two things become obvious. Modern evangelism does not attach a high price to salvation. Television religious programming which reaches the largest audience focuses on the “love of God” to the point of leaving listeners to conclude that God is too nice and too tolerant to ever send anyone to hell.

Theologians dubbed this “sloppy agape” or “cheap grace” so what cost Him everything we regard lightly or not at all. It is one jump from there to the wrong conclusion that God saves everyone and that hell is a wild image from Renaissance literature, with gargoyles spitting and lashing out their tongues at us from the stone walls of ancient cathedrals. Some teachers even conclude that there is no hell at all except for a handful of really BAD people and we all know who they are! The rest they say end up in heaven.

There is a not a shred of evidence to support universal salvation or the absence of hell. To compare this with Nash’s theory, the beautiful girl that the men compete for is not all that beautiful, in fact, she may be very ordinary. Statistically we know that 30% of the born again believers do not go to churches. If there is no competition, no real loss in choices of life or death – why bother??

If hell is not really that big a deal, then being saved is not a big deal either. Many people already believe their sin is not so bad that anyone, much less they must die for it, but just to get their ticket punched each week they show up at church. Equilibrium for them is the uneasy self-satisfaction of knowing they have done their very least.

 

Originally printed in Pathway Press, 2013.