Friday, May 24, 2013

Book Review: Crucifying Morality (2013)

Crucifying Morality: The Gospel of the Beatitudes. R.W. Glenn. 2013. Shepherd Press. 128 pages.

I definitely loved R.W. Glenn's Crucifying Morality. I think it did a great job focusing on the work Christ has done on our behalf, of illustrating that the beatitudes are not ever to be a Christian's "to do" list. Apart from Christ, a person cannot hope to obtain God's blessing or favor. (If you'd like to read the beatitudes yourself, they can be found in Matthew 5:3-12.)

He also did a wonderful job in showing that the beatitudes build on one another. That one can't mourn until one has become poor in spirit; that one can't hunger and thirst for righteousness unless you're first made meek; that you can't be pure in heart until you're merciful. I had never thought about it in quite that way, and so it was refreshing to meditate on the beatitudes in a new way.

Glenn persuasively shows that Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of the beatitudes. That he ultimately shows us what it is to be poor in spirit, to mourn, to be meek, to hunger and thirst for righteousness, to be merciful, to be pure, to be a peacemaker, to be persecuted. He lived the beatitudes.

I just LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one!!!

Favorite quotes:
Being blessed by God is not something that you earn or achieve. God gives blessedness as a gift: he shows favor to people who have no right to it whatsoever. It is simply an expression of God's grace, which is always a surprise. 
Jesus' teaching is too radical to be stuck on felt.
Kingdom blessing looks like the opposite of everything we value. So don't moralize the Beatitudes, sterilizing the gospel as though it is primarily or even only a rulebook for nicer living. You cannot put the mind-altering, world-shattering nature of the Beatitudes into neat categories. Jesus won't let you.
The Beatitudes declare what a child of the kingdom looks like; they do not list dos and don'ts that get you in the kingdom.
Therefore, do not seek poverty of spirit. Seek Jesus. As you see what it cost the heavenly Father to save you, you will see yourself as bankrupt beyond words. Seek Jesus, and you will mourn not because of what your sin cost you, but because of what it cost your heavenly Father. Seek Jesus, and meekness will overflow in your life. Who can take a posture of superiority at the foot of the cross? Seek Jesus, and you will find all the righteousness you will ever need: his perfect record given to you freely as a gift. Seek Jesus, and you will be merciful, for the most needy recipient of a handout is the person you see in the mirror every day. Seek Jesus, and you will find your heart more and more singular in its devotion to God and more willing to be honest with other people. Seek Jesus, and you will continually sheath your sword and seek reconciliation with others because you know the utter serenity achieved between you and God by the blood of Jesus. Seek Jesus, and you will gladly bear reproach for his name. Do not seek the Beatitudes. Do not turn them into moralistic teaching. Seek Jesus Christ who alone embodies the Beatitudes, and the Beatitudes will then be true of you as well. Why? Because Jesus fulfills them.
The Beatitudes are all about Jesus. Seek him through the gospel and you will be a new person, enjoying all the benefits of a relationship with God, living in the kingdom. Christianity is about coming over and over again to rest in the life that Jesus lived and the death that he died for you as a gift of sheer grace. 
The fundamental character of the Christian faith is that you live conscious of your utter dependence upon God.
Grace allows me to hear the hardest things about my flaws and patterns of sin because I know, by grace, that there is no flaw I can discover nor any sin I can unearth that can ever decimate my life. I cannot be any more loved and accepted than I am by the Lord who loves me with the full knowledge of what I have done, am doing, and will do; I have unshakable confidence that nothing can reduce his love for me. Therefore, I am free to admit my desperation. In so doing, I can experience real change, which is the very power of the kingdom of heaven in my life. 
The problem is that we do not understand how truly miserable we are, nor how desperately we need God to comfort us. If we did, we would mourn gladly, and then delight in God more deeply than we ever could before.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is not good news to the comfortable, but to the uncomfortable.
If you truly grieve your own sin, you cannot help but grieve the sin all around you...mourning is the only sane, reasonable response to seeing ourselves and the world as we really are. 
To whatever extent you remember and rejoice in the work of Jesus on your behalf, to that extent you will be blessedly satisfied. 
Thomas Watson said, "The hypocrite suspects others and has charitable thoughts of himself. The sincere Christian has charitable thoughts of others and suspects himself.
Whatever degree we lack purity of heart, to that degree have we failed to comprehend the gospel.
You did not earn adoption but received it as a gift without any reference to your own goodness, so you can be sure that he will not take it away when you fail him now. Nothing can separate you from the adoptive love of God that is in Christ Jesus.
The Sermon on the Mount is the expression of a life gripped by God's grace. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

1 comment:

hopeinbrazil said...

Nice review of a book I'm not familiar with.