Thank You Michael Phelps

I want to thank Michael Phelps for illustrating something I think we all know real well – heroes suck. Ok, not like Phelps was a personal hero of mine, though he’s an amazing swimmer, but still – he was a hero for a lot of people.

My hero’s tend to be dead, but still, the more I learn about my hero’s the more I realize how flawed they were. Luther was an anti-Semite, Servetus is a blemish on Calvin’s ministry (though he was under the death sentence all over Europe), Edwards owned slaves, Wesley was Wesleyan, etc…Even those heroes whose sins aren’t so public were still flawed. I’m sure of it.

As I’ve been reading through Genesis and Exodus, the same truth hits you square between the eyes. The Pentateuch is sometimes uncomfortable. Abraham pimps his wife out to powerful men to save his skin. Isaac follows dad’s example. Jacob is just slimy. Moses is a murderer. We could go on, but point made. God uses people mired in sin to accomplish his purposes. Even after they are called and begin serving God the process of sanctification is slow and painful and never quite complete, at least not in this life.

As we consider our heroes we should come to a place of worship. Certainly not of our heroes but of the God who gave them the privilege of serving his purposes.

6 thoughts on “Thank You Michael Phelps

  1. Hi! I really like your blog, but one part of this entry confuses me… “Wesley was Wesleyan.” I was wondering if you could explain your views on Wesleyan thought and why you listed this along with flaws. Thanks! 🙂

  2. Anonymous,
    Thanks for the questions. I should’ve clarified. In part, it was a fun jab at my Wesleyan friends whom I love dearly. That doesn’t mean I don’t think there are serious flaws in his theology. Here are three (without any detailed description of why I think they are wrong).
    First, Wesley’s understanding of prevenient grace doesn’t seem to me to be biblical. As a Calvinist, I see God’s grace as sovereign and irresistable. Grace in Wesley’s scheme is not sovereign and can be refused. On the positive side, Wesley did retain a healthy doctrine of total depravity. Later Arminians like Charles Finney rejected this.
    Second, and flowing from the first point above, Wesley believed it was possible for someone who was genuinely saved to lose their salvation.
    Third, and most problematic for me, is his understanding of sanctification. He believed it was possible to reach a place of maturity where the Christian stopped sinning willfully at all. I don’t see it biblically. The Christian life continues to be a struggle (and the Bible makes little distinction between willful and unwillful sins – in the OT both needed to be atoned for by offering sacrifices!). Moreover, he believed that ‘entire sanctification’ was a subsequent crisis event in the Christians life where the war withing one’s self, the war against the sin nature and sinful desires, ceased.
    That’s my beef with Wesley. maybe some full posts would be appropriate in the future.

  3. Thank you very much 🙂 As someone who grew up in a Wesleyan tradition, sometimes I don’t understand the differences between Wesleyan thought and Calvinist thought, or the main disagreements. That really helped- thank you!

  4. You know, I got to thinking today — only a man would come up with the “Christians can stop sinning willfully” theory. I’d like to see Wesley deal with PMS and see if he feels the same way.

    Anyway, I agree — I like Wesley and honestly even “get” the prevenient grace thing on some level. But no more willful sinning? Uh-uh.

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