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Archive for April 5th, 2013

Wesley for Armchair

My last book I’m reading from the series of “For Armchair Theologians” books. Suffice as an introduction to Wesley and his theology. The first chapter went over his biography before exploring various aspect of his theology. The author himself comes from a Wesleyan background. Which should come to no surprises that he lets Wesley off the hook easily for his rejection of Calvinism. I did not know how high church Wesley was until this book. Two critical comments about the book: the author excuses Wesley for not being as clear and systematic in his theology at times because Wesley was first and foremost pastoral in his concern and he was a preacher. While I don’t want to take away from the importance of pastoring, nevertheless when one consider Wesley’s “greatness” with that of other great leaders of spiritual and theological impact such as the other biographies in this series, many were pastors and preachers as well and were great in organizing and thinking through their theology (Augustine, Luther and Calvin, etc). I also thought it was strange the author describe Wesley’s exposition on “You must be born again” and justification by faith is as “Vulgar, popular Protestantism.” Vulgar?

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wrong way conscience

The perfect crime–and yet one couldn’t get away.

I read this news story today:

The family of Frederick Hart, who was killed in 1990 at the age of 15, wants to know why the alleged murder has come forward now, 23 years later. The alleged murderer’s friend says it was an issue of conscience.

Steven Goff of Ventnor turned himself into Galloway Township Police for the murder of Frederick Hart in 1990 on Monday.

Alan Rickel, a close friend of Goff, said to ABCNews.com, “He said he sees the kid’s mother in nightmares, saying, ‘How can you do this to my family?’ He had a 1,000-pound elephant sitting on his chest. He said that he had to confess and meet his maker.”

ABC News reported that Goff allegedly stabbed the 15-year old Hart multiple times with a knife behind Galloway’s Clubs Condominiums, according to Atlantic County prosecutors. No motive has been given for the murder.

Goff, 41, called living with what he had done every day “a living hell.” Goff told NBC40.net, “I had no chance of getting caught from this crime, whatsoever. I was away scot–free but you know, that doesn’t mean that it was away in my mind.”

According to 6abc.com, Goff said he wouldn’t be hiring a lawyer and would only use a public defender if it would move things along. “I’m prepared to enter a guilty plea right now,” he said at his hearing. “I did the crime. I’m prepared to do whatever I got to do.”

Hart’s family was shocked, but glad to have the closure. “It’s like having to relive his death all over again,” said Hart’s half-sister Kathy Fornash, according to The Press of Atlantic City. Step-sister Susan Dubberly spoke about Goff, adding, “I just want to know why he did it.”

(Link)

If it turns out to be true, it’s definitely a story that’s mind blowing, especially his own admission that “I had no chance of getting caught from this crime, whatsoever. I was away scot–free but you know, that doesn’t mean that it was away in my mind.””  The title of another news article even asked, “Why Did Steven Goff Finally Confess To A 1990 Murder?” and concluded with the line that the authorities “still don’t know why he came forward.”  Or maybe it’s more appropriate to say the author couldn’t reach a conclusion.

But I think the reason might have already been given by Steven Goff already.  Again, “I had no chance of getting caught from this crime, whatsoever. I was away scot–free but you know, that doesn’t mean that it was away in my mind.””  It was outwardly a perfect crime he got away.  He beat man’s justice system.  But then inside he knew in his hearts of hearts that he didn’t beat THE Justice system.

I thought the article’s quote from his close friend is equally illuminating: “He had a 1,000-pound elephant sitting on his chest. He said that he had to confess and meet his maker.””  That 1,000 pound elephant sitting on his chest is what the Bible calls conscience.  It’s the faculty that God has put inside of humanity that serves as an internal witness to ourselves.  If we do what is right or what we believe is right, we see in 2 Corinthians 1:12 it serves as a mirror to tell us we are doing right:

For our [a]proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.” (2 Corinthians 1:12)

But if we sin Romans 2:15 and 1 John 3:20 tells us that it also accuses and condemns us.  It makes us so uncomfortable that it continues to testify even against our very own selfish desire and interests.   And yet in 1 John 3:20 is our hope:  God is greater than our Conscience.  That does not mean he just goes ahead and forgive just like that.  His justice demand that sins be dealt with, and for those who would trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, their sins are objectively dealt with through Jesus’ death on the Cross, burial, resurrection and ascension.

I think this story should remind us that guilt is objective.  Sins not atone for that sits in our conscience is a horrific beast.  This story should stir us to remember the importance of evangelism by appealing to a person’s conscience to show that they themselves would acknowledge that they are sinners.  Use the Law of God to inform their conscience.  Show the guilty their need for a Savior.  Then preach Jesus, the Savior of sinners’ soul.

Ray Comfort was really on to something.

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