Saturday, March 8, 2014

Bishop Roy Sano on biblical obedience

Lots of food for thought in this post by Bishop Roy Sano.  His first point, "Jesus drew a sharp distinction between disobedience to human tradition and obedience to God’s word."  sent me to Wesley's commentary on Matthew 23:23 where I found multiple examples of how Wesley characterized inward religion versus outward religion-

From the 3d to the 30th verse Mt 23:3 - 30 is exposed every thing that commonly passes in the world for religion, whereby the pretenders to it keep both themselves and others from entering into the kingdom of God; from attaining, or even seeking after those tempers, in which alone true Christianity consists. As, Punctuality in attending on public and private prayer, ver. 4 - 14. Mt 23:4 - 14 Zeal to make proselytes to our opinion or communion, though they have less of the spirit of religion than before, ver. 15. Mt 23:15 A superstitious reverence for consecrated places or things, without any for Him to whom they are consecrated, ver. 16 - 22. Mt 23:16 - 22 A scrupulous exactness in little observances, though with the neglect of justice, mercy, and faith, ver. 23, 24. Mt 23:23,24 A nice cautiousness to cleanse the outward behaviour, but without any regard to inward purity, ver. 25, 26. Mt 23:25,26 A specious face of virtue and piety, covering the deepest hypocrisy and villany, ver. 27, 28. Mt 23:27,28 A professed veneration for all good men, except those among whom they live.

Biblical obedience does not seem like the right term for what Wesley is talking about here.  For Wesley, the nature of true Christianity is characterized by obedience to the Spirit and not dedication to words on a page.

Nevertheless, whichever term you prefer to use, the end result is the same.  Bishop Sano and Wesley both call for the followers of Christ to be filled with divine love and to live out of that love as they interact with others.  Wesley's writings are just more emphatic in attributing the capacity to love to the power of the living Spirit rather than to human willpower.

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