For various reason I was recently thinking about the first few posts I did on this blog. Andrew and I started “The Reformed Reader” back in September 2007. That makes me feel old! Anyway, here’s one of the first posts from the Reformed Reader taken from exactly 14 years ago:
Peter Eldersveld, a CRC minister from around 40 years ago, wrote a nice little booklet in the ’60’s all about suffering and Christianity (Sharing His Suffering [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1961]). I was reading this very recently while working through Isaiah 52.13-53.12. During my studies, I was struck by Eldersveld’s words in light of recent media reports about Joel Osteen’s fame. Here are Eldersveld’s words from over 40 years ago which are just as true today.
“Many people…want a religion that makes them feel good, an easy religion that demands no sacrifices. In other words, they want to be saved without suffering. They want a life of comfort and joy and sunshine all the way.”
“But actually this is not the choice that confronts man in a world of sin. It is not as though we can choose between suffering and not suffering. The only choice is between two kinds of suffering: suffering with Christ, or suffering without him…. There are two kinds of human suffering with opposite issues. That is all there is in this world. No man gets through it without suffering the effects of sin.”
Now Eldersveld hits home:
“The question is: does he suffer unto eternal life with Christ, or does he suffer unto eternal death without him? The one stream of suffering in this world begins at the cross and ends in heaven. The other begins without the cross and ends in hell. And men are always choosing between the two” (73).
“[Many] cannot accept the idea of glory through suffering. What they really want is a form of Christianity that will have room for all the gods and goals of secular modern life…and they seemed to have found it. And they have made it popular. But it has left them pagan at heart. Someone has rightly called it ‘baptized paganism'” (75).
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015