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Baptizing Ambition

American exceptionalism—the belief that our country stands apart from other nations in divine favor, potential, morality, etc.—has been imported to the church, personalized for the individual and then sanctified and elevated to a virtue. Each person—it is suggested—is born with a seed of greatness. Accepting mediocrity, ordinary-ness or normalcy is an offense against the God who made you for greatness and wants to “unleash” you into your “destiny.” In many conferences, books and TV programs, this is presented as the essence of Christianity. Biblical characters like David and Paul are normative models for Christian life—sans the adultery, stonings, shipwrecks and...

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Eternal Security and the Belittling of Sin

Now that you’re here, you are probably expecting me to argue that those who teach “eternal security” or “the perseverance of the saints” are somehow belittling the seriousness of sin by doing so. On the contrary, let me reverse the argument: If I believe that certain sins—or a certain number of sins—can cause me to lose my standing with God, then I must believe that there are scores of sins that are fairly minor and inoffensive to God. Why? For every sin I acknowledge and confess on a daily basis, there are myriad other sins—of commission and omission, word and...