Thursday, August 13, 2009

"Deserve" as a theological term ... good or bad?

I still plan on finishing my little study through the book of Revelation. The birth of our first kid has graciously relieved me from some of the things I have been doing.

But for now … Okay, so I’m sitting right now in a coffee shop in KC. The only people around are these three guys at table about ten feet from me. They are Christians. Naturally I have been trying to listen to what they have been saying because I am nosy and curious. In some ways I want to try and maintain my anonymity that I am a Christians because I am curious how other Christians “act” in public. Kinda weird, huh? Maybe a little underhanded. Anyways. That’s what I am doing.

At one point in the conversation this guy, who has clearly been dominating the conversation, says something to the effect of “we don’t deserve heaven.” What I want to do is officially open up a conversation about the theological significance of the word “deserve” when it comes to salvation.

Over the past few months I have heard a number of people use this word and I am wondering if it is the best word to use, or if it is even helpful. Do we “deserve” heaven? Do we “deserve” God’s grace? Do we “deserve” hell? My first thought is that “deserve” is a good word if your thoughts on the atonement include the notion that God has to punish Sin.

The conversation is officially opened.


Wilson Ryland said...

it might be helpful ... if we are careful to be clear that when we talk about "deserve" we are speaking from our human starting point. our perspective.

but we cannot stay there. because when we move to God's perspective, and we must move from ours or it is no gospel, "what we deserve" is a meaningless category.

Scott Savage said...

Develop that a little. Why should we talk about it from our perspective in the first place if when we move on to God's perspective it becomes meaningless? Doesn't its meaninglessness make it irrelevant? Shouldn't we then just abandon the term in the first place?