Thursday, October 21, 2010

Chuck Swindoll's Feel Good Doctrine

Feel good doctrine can come from many different places. As I was listening to the radio the other day I heard Chuck Swindoll talking about a song he learned in his youth. The verses of the song talk about being satisfied with just, but Chuck Swindoll says that the refrain is unscriptural because it asks the question “is Jesus satisfied with me?” He then went on to say that of course Jesus is satisfied with us. He made the claim that we talk about grace but we focus on works.

I know we would all like to think that God is satisfied with us, so it is tempting to think that since we are now under grace he is satisfied with us no matter how we might mess up. Chuck Swindoll has a bigger following than me, so rather than just saying that I disagree with Chuck Swindoll, let’s see if we can see what the Bible has to say about this subject.

If Chuck Swindoll is correct, then it must be the case that there is never a case in the Bible that God is never dissatisfied with one of his elect. We could point to someone like David, a man after God’s own heart, but we know what David did. David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then committed murder to cover up his sin. We find after that incident that God wasn’t satisfied with David, as Chuck Swindoll would have us believe. In fact, David’s son died as a result of his sin. In another place, David numbered the people and God wasn’t happy about that either. As a result, many people died.

The argument some people might make is that because David is in the Old Testament that he was still under the law rather than under grace, but today God is not dissatisfied with us because we are under grace. So for the sake of argument, let’s limit our discussion to the New Testament. If Chuck Swindoll is correct, we should find no instance in the New Testament where there is a Christian that God is dissatisfied with because we’re under grace.

We turn our attention to Act 5 in which Ananias and Sapphira sold a possession and decided to claim that they had donated all of the money to the church, even though they kept back part of the price. The money was theirs to do with as they pleased, but they lied and as a result they dropped dead. Were they saved? It certainly appears that they were. Were they under grace? Absolutely. But how else can we explain them dropping dead for their sin if God was satisfied with them? It is very important for us to realize that it is possible for us to get outside of God’s will and when we do God isn’t satisfied with us.

I think that is the point of the song Chuck Swindoll mentioned. We have every reason to be satisfied with Jesus, but when we look at our own lives it is easy to see that we’re not living up to the standard that we should. God isn’t satisfied with that and because of his grace he is working to bring us to where we should be. If we follow the philosophy that Chuck Swindoll seems to be preaching, it may encourage us to feel good about ourselves, but it puts us in danger of living outside God’s will.

Now it may be that some people have the idea that Ananias and Sapphira weren’t true Christians and for that reason they were killed. That is dangerous theology because it begs the question. It would seem that because God wasn’t satisfied with them they must not have been saved and therefore they are not a good argument against Chuck Swindoll’s feel good philosophy. By accepting that, we risk putting ourselves back in slavery to sin. If our basis for knowing if we are saved or not is in whether God is satisfied with us or not, then we may try to do works to satisfy God so that we can be sure we are saved. Instead, we should recognize that God isn’t always happy with us, even like a parent isn’t always happy with a child, and we should attempt to get back to where God wants us to be. But at the same time we should recognize that even when God isn’t satisfied with us he is constantly satisfied with Jesus. As long as we are putting out trust in Jesus, we have nothing to fear.


Tim A Martin said...

Amen! You know, this is something I've pondered in my head over and over again and I always come to the same conclusion that you do (I always think about David and Moses too).

I think your analogy of parents loving their children unconditionally but can still be angry with them is spot on. I have three daughters, and I believe God blesses many of us with children to help comprehend better our relationship with Him.

I will always love my daughters but at times they've certainly been out of favor of myself and my wife. Just ask how their backsides feel after lying, or how they feel going to bed without dessert or a movie. Consequences of bad behavior. While saved by grace, there are also consequences of when we still mess up and sin.

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is; because of his adultery many years ago, Chuck Swindoll became biblically unqualified to be a paster. A pastor and/or elder must be "a one woman man". This is an emphatic statement and irrevocable. It has everything to do with who is qualified and who becomes disqualified!