In Galatians 4:21-31, Paul allegorizes the story of Sara and Hagar. He speaks of those who bear children of Spirit and those who bear children of Flesh. Children of flesh are those who trust in the Law, who define their value by externals (achievement, etc.).

Some of our “kids” are born in flash: they don’t need Gods help. Some are born out of only God’s intervention.

Justification is the crown jewel of our salvation. But Justification isn’t an end in itself. Justification should lead us to Sonship/Daughterhood. As Matt pointed out,

I don’t want to go camping with a judge

(Matt seemed to be unaware that, while rhetorically effective, this is a misrepresentation of the Biblical concept of a Judge. In the Ancient World, a Judge was a father, and acted as a father to the community he judged. Matt’s presentation of judgeship sounds more like a contemporary court system – or perhaps 16th century Geneva – than anything the Scriptures describe.)

Romans 8: 14-17 describes us as coheirs with Christ. So what is our Inheritance?

1. We get God

You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine. — Psalm 4:7 (NLT)

God is better even than the Good Times. (cf. Psalm 73:25-26)

2. We get Resurrected and Imperishable Bodies

It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. — 1 Corinthians 15:42 (NLT)

3. We get the World

4. We get Suffering and Rejection

Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. — 2 Timothy 3:12 (NLT)

In the midst of our suffering, God promises to be near and sustain us. It’s not unloving of God to wound you now for your eternal good.

Be Faithful where you are. Do you find it easier to critique people in a larger position than you are?

The Ugly

The last time Matt spoke at Catalyst East, in 2010, he followed Shane Hipps. Matt apparently didn’t agree with Shane, because his first comment on the stage was a derogatory jab at Shane. He later tweeted another jab while flying home. Having not heard of Matt before, I was shocked by his level of unprofessionalism, pettiness and cruelty to not only a brother in Christ, but fellow speaker.

Given that history and Matt’s recent appointment as the new president of Acts 29 – a post recently vacated by Mark Driscoll, I was nervous about Matt’s talk. And while the core of his message was very good – as you can see in the notes above, Matt resorted to the same sort of pettiness this year.

Unsurprisingly, his theology was thoroughly Antinomian. That in-and-of itself isn’t terrible. I’m not a Calvinist, so I disagree, but I can certainly learn from those with whom I disagree. But Matt repeatedly insterted overtly theologically divisive rhetoric into his talk.

The Calvinist terminologies and perspectives didn’t do anything to enhance his central message. Instead, it just further reinforced divisions and partisanship.

Two examples: Matt took a potshot at those (including myself) who don’t adhere to so strictly literal a reading of the Scriptures as he does. While reading Galatians 4:24, he paused to claim that the Bible should only be read allegorically when it specifically tells us to do so.

We could have all sorts of fun debating whether that’s actually a good hermaneutic, especially when the actual writers of the Scriptures (not to mention most of Church history) don’t follow it. But that wasn’t the point of Matt’s talk. So he just drew a boundary line where he didn’t need to.

More egregious, in his closing prayer, Matt corrected himself. Instead of thanking Jesus for his righteousness, he backtracked and instead thanked Jesus for his “imputed righteousness”. In making that statement, he excluded anyone who’s not specifically a Calvinist from his prayer, and by extension his whole talk.

Matt can believe however he likes. And I am free to disagree with him. That we have differing theologies isn’t the issue. The problem is that this is a Christian Leadership conference. And instead of choosing to model setting aside our theological differences for the sake of unity and love, Matt chose to draw boundaries and shore up theological positions.

We don’t need more theological entrenchment in the Church. We need more love and pleas for unity. Matt’s Catalyst talk was a Leadership Fail.

YOUR TURN: Did you like Matt’s talk? Do you think his rhetorical approach was as harmful as I do? Or should speakers include their theological perspectives?

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