Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Beware of Exploding Wolfs - New Creation and Sanctification
As many of you know, my reading of Romans 7 is that it refers to pre-Christian Paul and not to the struggle of Christian Paul. You know also that I really dislike the analogy of a Christian having two natures a fleshly nature and spiritual nature and the struggle between them being likened to two dogs fighting and the dog who wins the contest is one you feed the most. I don't like this because it promotes an ontological dualism that does not square with the new creation. Justin Taylor blogged on this some time ago which prompted some discussion, and as a follow up (thanks to Aaron), I have a further analogy for how to integrate belief in new creation into our doctrine of sanctification with the struggle of sin in the life of the believer. Here it is:
Beware of exploding wolfs!
Once we were wolves. We were ravenous, blood thirsty, violent, predatory, and evil creatures of the night. And then a heavenly veternarian found us wounded and caught in a bear trap, while we were yet wild and untamed, he gave us an injection to treat our wounds. But this was no ordinary injection, he wasn't trying to cure our cuts and laserations, but to destroy the wolfness of our wolfhood. One particular wolf was given the injection and within moments the wolf suddenly fell to the ground clutching his stomach in pain, then pawing at his throat, howling in agony and confusion, bright lights started shining out of his nose, mouth, ears, and his eyes began glowing with dazzling white light with enough brightness to illuminate a baseball stadium. And then, quite dramtatically, the wolf exploded in a blinding explosion of radiant beams of golden light and covering the surrounding area in a debris of blood, bone, guts, and gore. Yet in the place where the wolf was lying down racked in pain was now a perfect looking lamb. It is the mind and soul of the same animal, but the wolf was gone and the lamb was there instead. The lamb, unfortunately, was still coverered in bits of the blood and gore of the exploded wolf that need to be cleaned off. But the wolf is dead, and the lamb is here. The new lamb begins acting immediately like a lamb but there is still a struggle with remnants of wolfiness still around. People keep asking him or her, "Didn't you used to be a wolf?" And the lamb answered, "Well, yes, but he exploded, and I'm a lamb now". Every now and then, he'll feel like eating some mutton, till he remember that lambs don't eat mutton. Eventually, most of the old wolf instincts faded as more and more of the wolf gore was wiped away and he spends time frolicing in the pastures with the Vet who is also the Shepherd of the flock.
That I think is a better analogy than the old "two dogs" story that you hear. No analogies are perfect, but does this do the job better than the "two dogs" analogy?