The Submissional Life // Matt Tebbe

living in submission, leading from below, loving as mission

3 Religious Temptations in the Christian Life

One of my favorite theologians, Michael Gorman, has a new post here about a sermon he preached on the book of Revelation. In it he mentions two temptations facing the churches in Revelation (and specifically Smyrna – Rev 2.8-11). They are:


1. Moralistic Therapeutic Deism
There is a god who created the world, looks down on us from heaven with a smile, wants to bless us, wants us to be good to ourselves and kind to others, is there for us when we are in a jam, and promises us a place in heaven if we are good.


2. Civil Religion
There is a god who created the world, looks down on our country (fill in the blank) with a big smile, has blessed us more than any other nation, thinks our values are his values, wants to expand our influence around the world, wants us to be good to our friends but helps us defeat our enemies, and expects us to love our country as a way of loving God.


I’d like to offer a third:


3. Religious Moralism

There is a god who wants us to be obedient and holy. Life is an endeavor to overcome the guilt and shame we feel for the wrong we’ve done. Focus tends to be on overcoming sin, taking a stand against culture, and working on myself. Many live with the secret disappointment in themselves and the belief that “I should be farther along than I am”. There is a desperate desire to please to God.


Each is missing the gospel…and the following post will discuss how we live a gospel life – a submissional life – as a Christian. But first…

Do you see these at play in your church? The church you grew up in? 

In your story which has been the greatest temptation?

How do you see each of these ‘missing’ the gospel? 


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