Randy, I’ve been meaning to thank you profusely (and I now do so here) for the link to George Macdonald’s sermon that you shared five days ago in this thread. It’s not a sermon that can be read quickly – must be digested slowly, and yields increasing fruits with the increased labors of the reader. It isn’t one that is for every Christian today (tough meat for chewing) as it plunges deeply into the heart of what is held doctrinally dear by so many. Nor is it even, (dare I say!), well-aligned with the mission of Biologos here where so many well-meaning Christians are understandably eager to bring out the treasures of their household, both new and old for display in all their orthodox glory. This sermon cuts deeply into all that, however, and necessarily so. The theme it does share with Christians here is in this: the removal of unnecessary stumbling blocks that would impose themselves between any downtrodden believer and Christ himself. Indeed this sermon is one way to expose the utter poverty (and yet total necessity) of the mockers’ objection that “God sacrificed himself to himself to save us from himself”. All this is brought out into the light and exposed for what it is … but at a price that may be deemed too great for a great many lovers of all received traditional doctrine today.
But even apart from such challenge as that, this sermon is rich with wisdom. Here are a couple quotes I can’t resist sharing here.
No soul is saved that would not prefer hell to sin. Jesus did not die to save us from punishment; he was called Jesus because he should save his people from their sins.
Having yanked the above from out of a larger text providing rich context, one could fairly capture Macdonald’s meaning above by inserting the word yet: No soul is saved yet that would not prefer…
The below longer excerpt below also reveals much of the spirit of this message:
I have no desire to change the opinion of man or woman. Let everyone for me hold what he pleases. But I would do my utmost to disable such as think correct opinion essential to salvation from laying any other burden on the shoulders of true men and women than the yoke of their Master; and such burden, if already oppressing any, I would gladly lift. Let the Lord himself teach them, I say. A man who has not the mind of Christ–and no man has the mind of Christ except him who makes it his business to obey him–cannot have correct opinions concerning him; neither, if he could, would they be of any value to him: he would be nothing the better, he would be the worse for having them. Our business is not to think correctly, but to live truly; then first will there be a possibility of our thinking correctly. One chief cause of the amount of unbelief in the world is, that those who have seen something of the glory of Christ, set themselves to theorize concerning him rather than to obey him. In teaching men, they have not taught them Christ, but taught them about Christ. More eager after credible theory than after doing the truth, they have speculated in a condition of heart in which it was impossible they should understand; they have presumed to explain a Christ whom years and years of obedience could alone have made them able to comprehend. Their teaching of him, therefore, has been repugnant to the common sense of many who had not half their privileges, but in whom, as in Nathanael, there was no guile. Such, naturally, press their theories, in general derived from them of old time, upon others, insisting on their thinking about Christ as they think, instead of urging them to go to Christ to be taught by him whatever he chooses to teach them.
I should mention all this comes from Macdonald’s actual full sermon, “Justice”. Randy’s link above goes to commentary about that sermon, which is an excellent gateway toward easily finding the actual sermon itself online.