Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Great Controversy Project

There is a in some sectors of the Adventist Church a movement to freely distribute the Great Controversy. Their website states:
This is an exciting project and, while is still in its infancy, the results are nothing short of amazing; even more so because of your involvement! Already, well over one-hundred requests come in monthly for studies given through the Amazing Facts Ministries. Their study request cards are bound into the middle of the book making it easy for the reader to sign up for Bible or other studies. Almost 1 million homes have received The Great Controversy in the mail. Many have read it and accept the truth contained within. Many seek answers to the perplexing questions of our day and those events which are impacting our daily life. This book will awaken the masses to the approaching storm as it sheds much needed light on the impending conflict that lurks just over the horizon.

  We are living in the most solemn period of this world's history. The destiny earth's teeming multitudes is about to be decided. Our own future well-being and also the salvation of others depend upon the course which we now pursue. Time is running out! Congress passed the hate crime bill (HR1913) and President Obama signed it into law October of 2009. This bill contains language that could very well make it a federal offense to publish and distribute this book (even though it mostly historical and can be verified at the local library) as it will be classified as hate propaganda by some special interest groups or individuals. Please join us in getting this book and its urgent message out to the masses...”
As many Adventist know the Ellen White book The Great Controversy was written in multiple versions and was revised in 1911 to acknowledge the numerous portions copied from other works. Those more familiar with history will also know that the history outlined in the book is questionable on many points regarding it's accuracy. Ellen White used many religious writers rather like Alexander Hislop did selecting writers that agreed with his assumptions but as with Hislop many of the sources were not reliable. For the Great Controversy Project to continue to propagate certain areas of misinformation a hundred years later is not a terribly wise course. (see below for a few examples of some of the material and problems from the proceeding link)

As you read the above quote you will notice that like the book itself they are hoping to capitalize on sensationalism. For instance the hate crime bill would have nothing at all to do with the publishing or distribution of the book. Hate crimes are the additional penalties placed upon violent crimes to add additional penalties. As the OpenCongress summary states:

This bill, previously introduced in Congress in 2007, seeks to expand upon the 1969 US federal hate-crime law by extending hate crime protections to bodily crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, in addition to the current protections for bodily crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived race, color, religion, and national origin. It would also codify and expand the funding and investigative capabilities of federal officials for aiding their local counterparts.

You can read the text of the bill and see that it does not deal with the publication of books. Perhaps if someone dumped a truck load of the books upon the body of some person then it would have some application but short of that the bill has nothing to do with limiting the publication or distribution of the book whether it was truly offensive or not.
The book apparently has an invitation to visit a website which starts off by saying this:
For your interest in learning why you received this book, "The Great Controversy"
You may be asking, "Who sent it", "Will I receive a bill?", "Who is the author?", "What can I learn from reading this book?"

This book was not written or sent to condemn anyone but to warn everyone about the deception used by powers to take away our liberties. It was no accident that you have received this free book and you will not receive a bill. It was sent by someone who cares for you. They want you to know about the coming storm and the challenges everyone is going to face. It is always best to love our neighbors above ourselves. Without the exercise of this love, the highest profession of faith is mere hypocrisy. The goal is only to enlighten people of a major storm that is brewing and the serious developments taking place. The wails of sorrow are heard from all around us. Take courage, for this book will help answer your life's questions.
When you continue to the next page where you would assume they would answer the question of who is the author you find information about how many pages the author wrote but not the name of the author. In fact you don't even find the name of the denomination that has sent out this book. Of course with the Internet it would be easy to find out the name of the author but the question is why the subterfuge and why not be up front with both the name of the author, the denomination and the fact that the denomination thinks this author is viewed as a Prophet by the denomination.

In fact Ellen White did want the widest exposure to the Great Controversy as the Great Controversy Project page says. But her views are certainly dated and the idea of a Roman Catholic resurgence of Medieval power is not very credible in a world now threatened by and even more immediate threat found in radical Islam. That does not mean that the final eschatological events will revolve around Muslim power any more then those in the 19th century in America were so fearful of Roman Catholics. What it does do however is point us to the fact that what we think at any one time may not actually be an end time event at all.

Adventism and Christianity have to move past the desire to tell others what is going to happen, we have had no history of accuracy in predictions and Christianity has never been agreement in the various denominations about what the eschatology beliefs are. Each group thinking they are correct and each without any way to verify their views or prove the alternative views incorrect. Just become someone claims to be sharing the truth does not make it the truth and we have to recognize that beliefs without evidence is not truth. The philosophy of Christianity is far more important then eschatology and the focus of Adventism must shift to the heart of Christianity and away from sectarian predictions.

A few examples of the type of material  that makes up a good deal of the Great Controversy book:

Chapter 21,  A Warning Rejected, All Except SDAs Become Babylon, 375-390
Chapter 20 ends with the Adventist disappointment that Christ did not return to earth in the spring of 1844. [Again, the first (1843) date taught by Miller for 25 years is totally ignored in The Great Controversy.] Chapter 21 covers the period between spring 1844 and the next disappointment when Christ failed to return in autumn 1844. Chapter 21 introduces the phrase from Revelation 14:8, “Babylon is fallen.”

GC373-374: God designed to prove His people. His hand covered a mistake in the reckoning of the prophetic periods. Adventists did not discover the error, nor was it discovered by the most learned of their opponents.

GC389: The second angel’s message of Revelation 14 was first preached in the summer of 1844 ... The churches then experienced a moral fall, in consequence of their refusal of the light of the advent message; but that fall was not complete.
GC398: It was not the proclamation of the second advent that caused fanaticism and division. These appeared in the summer of 1844, when Adventists were in a state of doubt and perplexity concerning their real position. The preaching of the first angel’s message and of the “midnight cry” tended directly to repress fanaticism and dissension.

GC401: Of all the great religious movements since the days of the apostles, none have been more free from human imperfection and the wiles of Satan than was that of the autumn of 1844.
GC420: By the offering of blood the sinner acknowledged the authority of the law, confessed his guilt in transgression, and expressed his desire for pardon through faith in a Redeemer to come; but he was not yet entirely released from the condemnation of the law.

GC420: Placing his hands upon the head of the scapegoat, he confessed over him all these sins, thus in figure transferring them from himself to the goat. The goat then bore them away, and they were regarded as forever separated from the people.
ERROR 104: The Bible does not say “thus in figure transferring them from himself to the goat.” EGW said that! Atoned sins never made it past the doorway! And the high priest certainly did not carry “sins” inside the sanctuary because he would have been defiled and unclean! He presented a visual demonstration to Israel that their sins were forever removed. “All these sins” refers, not to previously confessed and atoned sin, but to the general sinfulness of Israel. See Lev 16:16-20, 30.
For more see this article

While the book may have many good and accurate observations it has many many problems with history and interpretation and is really not the best introduction one could have into Adventism unless of course by Adventism one is restricted to 19th century Adventism.

Update: April 23, 2011

When dealing with the the Book the Great Controversy I really should include some of the things written by General Conference leaders at the 1919 Bible Conference. The originals are finally available on the SDA Archives site but the easier to read versions are available here. (Pay particular attention toward the end of the quote below how W.W. Prescott became orthodox in his interpretation of "Babylon" after the 1911 revision of the 1888 Great Controversy)

A. G. Daniells: I think Brother Benson's question on historical and theological matters has not been dealt with yet, and I do not know that I am able to give any light. Perhaps some of you may know to what extent Sister White has revised some of her statements and references or quotations from historical writings. Have you ever gone through and made a list of them?
W. W. Prescott: I gave nearly an hour to that the other day, taking the old edition of "Great Controversy" and reading it and then reading the revised edition. But that did not cover all the ground.

A. G. Daniells: We did not create that difficulty, did we? We General Conference men did not create it, for we did not make the revision. We did not take any part in it. We had nothing whatever to do with it. It was all done under her supervision. If there is a difficulty there, she created it, did she not?
F. M. Wilcox: She assumed the whole responsibility for it.
M. F. Kern: But we have to meet it.
A. G. Daniells: Well, now, which statement shall we take, the original or the revised?
B. L. House: My real difficulty is just here: Sister White did not write either the old edition or the revised, as I understand it.
A. G. Daniells: What do you mean by saying that she did not write either edition?
B. L. House: As I understand it, Elder J. N. Anderson prepared those historical quotations for the old edition, and Brother Robinson and Brother Crisler, Professor Prescott and others furnished the quotations for the new edition. Did she write the historical quotations in there?
A. G. Daniells: No.
B. L. House: Then there is a difference between the Testimonies and those books.
W. W. Prescott: Changes have been made in what was not historical extract at all.
A. G. Daniells: Shall we not confine ourselves just now to this question of Brother Benson's and lead our way up to the real difficulty, and then deal with it? Do you have a clear conception of the way the difficulty arose? -- that in making the first edition of "Great Controversy" those who helped her prepare the copy were allowed to bring forward historical quotations that seemed to fit the case. She may have asked, "Now, what good history do you have for that?" I do not know just how she brought it in, but she never would allow us to claim anything for her as a historian. She did not put herself up as a corrector of history, -- not only did not do that, but protested against it. Just how they dealt in bringing the history along, I could not say, but I suspect that she referred to this as she went along, and then allowed them to gather the very best historical statements they could and submit them to her, and she approved of them.
C. L. Benson: This is my query, and it underlies all of her writings: How did she determine upon the philosophy of history? If she endorsed our interpretation of history, without any details, do we dare to set that aside? I understand she never studied medical science; but she has laid down certain fundamental principles; and that she has done the same with education and organization.
A. G. Daniells: Sister White never has written anything on the philosophy of history.
C. L. Benson: No, but she has endorsed our 2300 day proposition, from 538 to 1798.
A. G. Daniells: You understand she did that by placing that in her writings?
C. L. Benson: Yes.
A. G. Daniells: Yes, I suppose she did.
C. A. Shull: I think the book "Education" contains something along the line of the philosophy of history.
W. E. Howell: Yes, she outlines general principles.
C. M. Sorenson: Nobody has ever questioned Sister White's philosophy of history, so far as I know, -- and I presume I have heard most of the questions raised about it, -- along the line of the hand of God in human affairs and the way the hand of God has been manifested. The only question anybody has raised has been about minor details. Take this question as to whether 533 has some significance taken in connection with 538. She never set 533, but if there is a significance attached to it in human affairs, it certainly would not shut us out from using it, and that would not affect the 1260 years. Some people say antichrist is yet to come, and is to last for three and one-half literal years. If you change those positions, you will change the philosophy.
W. W. Prescott: Do I understand Brother Benson's view is that such a statement as that in "Great Controversy," that the 1260 years began in 538 and ended in 1798, settles the matter infallibly?
C. L. Benson: No, only on the preaching of doctrines in general. If she endorses the prophetic part of our interpretation, irrespective of details, then she endorses it.
W. W. Prescott: Then that settles it as being a part of that philosophy.
C. L. Benson: Yes, in this way: I do not see how we can do anything else but set up our individual judgment if we say we will discount that, because we have something else that we think is better evidence. It is the same with education and the medical science.
W. W. Prescott: You are touching exactly the experience through which I went, personally, because you all know that I contributed something toward the revision of "Great Controversy." I furnished considerable material bearing upon that question.
A. G. Daniells: By request.
W. W. Prescott: Yes, I was asked to do it, and at first I said, "No, I will not do it. I know what it means." But I was urged into it. When I had gone over it with W. C. White, then I said, "Here is my difficulty. I have gone over this and suggested changes that ought to be made in order to correct statements. These changes have been accepted. My personal difficulty will be to retain faith on those things that I can not deal with on that basis." But I did not throw up the spirit of prophecy, and have not yet; but I have had to adjust my view of things. I will say to you, as a matter of fact, that the relation of those writings to this movement and to our work, is clearer and more consistent in my mind than it was then. But still you know what I am charged with. I have gone through the personal experience myself over that very thing that you speak of. If we correct it here and correct it there, how are we going to stand with it in the other places?
F. M. Wilcox: Those things do not involve the general philosophy of the book.
W. W. Prescott: No, but they did involve quite large details. For instance, before "Great Controversy" was revised, I was unorthodox on a certain point, but after it was revised, I was perfectly orthodox.
C. M. Sorenson: On what point?
W. W. Prescott: My interpretation was, (and I taught it for years in The Protestant Magazine) that Babylon stood for the great apostasy against God, which headed up in the papacy, but which included all minor forms, and that before we come to the end, they would all come under one. That was not the teaching of "Great Controversy." "Great Controversy" said that Babylon could not mean the romish church, and I had made it mean that largely and primarily. After the book was revised, although the whole argument remained the same, it said that it could not mean the Roman Church alone, just that one word added.
F. M. Wilcox: That helped you out.
W. W. Prescott: Yes, but I told W. C. White I did not think anybody had any right to do that. And I did not believe anybody had any right to use it against me before or afterward. I simply went right on with my teaching.
J. W. Anderson: Would you not claim other portions of the book as on the same basis?
W. W. Prescott: No, I would refuse to do that. I had to deal with A. R. Henry over that question. He was determined to crush those men that took a wrong course concerning him. I spent hours with that man trying to help him. We were intimate in our work, and I used to go to his house and spend hours with him. He brought up this question about the authority of the spirit of prophecy and wanted me to draw the line between what was authoritative and what was not. I said, "Brother Henry, I will not attempt to do it, and I advise you not to do it. There is an authority in that gift here, and we must recognize it."
I have tried to maintain personal confidence in this gift in the church, and I use it and use it. I have gotten great help from those books, but I will tell you frankly that I held to that position on the question of Babylon for years when I knew it was exactly contrary to "Great Controversy," but I went on, and in due time I became orthodox. I did not enjoy that experience at all, and I hope you will not have to go through it. It means something.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Myth of Sola Scriptura

Wikipedia defines Sola Scriptura as:
Sola scriptura (Latin ablative, "by scripture alone") is the doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. Consequently, sola scriptura demands that only those doctrines are to be admitted or confessed that are found directly within or indirectly by using valid logical deduction or valid deductive reasoning from scripture. However, sola scriptura is not a denial of other authorities governing Christian life and devotion. Rather, it simply demands that all other authorities are subordinate to, and are to be corrected by, the written word of God. Sola scriptura was a foundational doctrinal principle of the Protestant Reformation held by the Reformers and is a formal principle of Protestantism today (see Five solas).
That however is not the myth to which I refer, the myth is when the Bible is used without out using valid logical deduction and valid deductive reasoning; the Bible only without the aid of reasoning and logic, as one of the comments on my last blog said “taking the Bible as it reads”. What does that mean, as it reads? The myth is that you don’t have to take the time and effort to logically interpret the Bible, the myth is that knowledge from outside the Bible is not needed for the interpretation of the Bible.

The Bible in fact does not define itself, just as with any other document of any language the Bible requires both fields of study known as Lower and Higher Criticism. And both of those fields require knowledge of humanity found outside the Bible. The information from outside the Bible is used to understand the culture the times and the language of the material in the Bible. A simply example is the Chiasm, now the Bible does not define what a Chiasm is but it uses them. Our understanding of poetry from the poetry of other ancient literature is used when we see poetry in the Bible. We don’t have to simply claim the Bible tells us everything we need to know about poetry. Poetry frequently is not literal and may cause people to come to wrong interpretations when something is poetic and it is assumed to be literal. One can say that is the way it reads but unless the reader is informed of the poetic characteristics they take the text in ways it was never meant to be taken. For example the book of Job says the stars sang together, if not view poetically people I have seen come up with ideas like the stars are beings from other planets. Despite the poetic nature and despite the context there are probably hundreds of such off the wall interpretations to some simple piece of poetry. 
Poetry is just one of the problems in interpretation; another is the assumption that past knowledge when used makes that knowledge used appear to be religious truth. As we saw in my recent article, Bibliotatry, about Jesus taunting the Pharisees when they asked him to make the people stop praising him and he stated if the people stopped the rocks would cry out. Another similar example is when Jesus said that a seed had to die before it could grow and produce more seeds.
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24 NIV)
We know that the seed does not actually die, this is figurative it seems like it is dead and buried but with modern techniques we can actually prove that a seed carries on respiration, those that don’t are truly dead and they won’t germinate. For example the Tetrazolium test or as the simple test when I planted my edible pod peas from my crop last season some seeds floating at the top of the cup of water, those are not going to grow. Dead seeds don’t grow! But we understand the meaning of a new life a fresh start from the context and the figurative language of Jesus but what we know is because of our cultural and scientific and often our own experiential knowledge. There is little doubt that the Bible writers expected people to read with those ideas from outside their writing. We would hardly expect God in His inspiration process to expect differently. But it is the tradition of the Fundamentalist that says the Bible interprets itself. It does not and neither does any other written work because authors expect their readers to use some reasoning skills. Even with symbols the Bible does not necessarily interpret itself because it will often use multiple symbols and the context is needed to recognize just which symbol is meant for which idea in reality.

Does this mean that human beings have to interpret the Bible with human reason? The answer is yes, you can’t get there any other way, it is not a magic book  with writing that absorbs into the mind without the mind thinking, reacting and yes interpreting data. God has given us minds to use and we should be using them and all the tools that the mind can come up with that aid the process of understanding. The book of Isaiah writes:

Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. (Isa 1:17-18 NIV)

The Lord says to reason together and learn to do right, you can’t get there without reasoning and thinking and learning that is what our minds are for and we need to use them to understand the Bible and see what it says in context and does the context fit our situations and acknowledge the progressive revelation about God and man that we see in the Bible itself as well as how what we have learned in the thousands of years since the Bible’s individual books were written.

So don’t let the fundamentalist tell you that you are using human reason to understand the Bible, it is simply a cheap and deceitful trick they use to make you think that their certainty is somehow superior. After all it is a truism that the more you know the more you find that you don’t know. If the more you know makes you see even less…then maybe what you think you know is not really knowledge let alone truth.



Friday, April 01, 2011

The fiction of Imputed Righteousness

In light of the lessons study for this week here is a more Biblical view then offered by our Lesson Study Guide which seems to think tradition is more important then a logical view of what the Bible actually says.

Forgiveness; The Robe of Christ's Righteousness

Christ's Death a Necessity. For a loving God to maintain His justice and righteousness, the atoning death of Jesus Christ became "a moral and legal necessity." God's "Justice requires that sin be carried to judgment. God must therefore execute judgment on sin and thus on the sinner. In this execution the Son of God took our place, the sinner's place, according to God's will. The atonement was necessary because man stood under the righteous wrath of God. Herein lies the heart of the gospel of forgiveness of sin and the mystery of the cross of Christ: Christ's perfect righteousness adequately satisfied divine justice, and God is willing to accept Christ's self-sacrifice in place of man's death." 5 (Seventh-day Adventists Believe...A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines Review and Herald Pub Assn. 1988.p.111
Footnote 5 refers to Hans K. LaRondelle, Christ Our Salvation Mountain View, CA; Pacific Press, 1980 pp.25, 26)

...We are covered with His garment of righteousness. When God looks at the believing, penitent sinner He sees, not the nakedness or deformity of sin, but the robe of righteousness formed by Christ's perfect obedience to the law. 12 None can be truly righteous unless covered by this robe. (P.114 footnote 12 refers to White, Christ's Object Lessons. p.312)

 One of the interesting tenets of those who hold to the substitutionary atonement is the idea that Christ's Righteousness can be imputed into the Christian. One of the methods or illustrations, which is commonly used within the SDA community, is the idea that Christ covers our sinfulness with his righteousness. Using the parable of the wedding feast they determine that the robe the guest puts on is Christ's Righteousness.

The parable found in Matt 22:1-14
1 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 "The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. 4 "Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.' 5 "But they paid no attention and went off-- one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 "Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.'10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 "But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes.12 'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless.13 "Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14 "For many are invited, but few are chosen." (NIV)

To this the following verse is often related: Rev 3:18

I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. (NIV)

And Isa 61:10

I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (NIV)

 It should be noted that the term Christ's Righteousness or even the Righteousness of Christ are not terms the Bible ever uses. Is the idea, common among SDA's that by accepting the Robe of Christ's Righteousness when God looks at the person He sees Christ, actually what the Bible teaches?

Some in theology call this a legal fiction; the answer however may be far simpler then many of the Theologians of the past 500 years have envisioned.

The Bible in several places speaks of those clothed in White, (Rev 3:4-5, 6:11,7:9,7:13-14,) unfortunately too many people are missing the clear picture of the Bible in order to create a complex legal fiction.

Let us try for a moment to look at these verses used above in a slightly different light. The light of forgiveness.
Isa 1:18 "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. (NIV)

 The following is information on Forgiveness from _The New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible_ pages 306-7 should help us see how these concepts work together. I have added the Strong's number in front of the words.

Forgiveness. In the O.T. several Hebrew roots contain the concept of "forgive". The verb 5545 calach (saw-lakh') a primitive root; to forgive: signifies literally "forgive, pardon" (Lev. 4:20, 26: I Kings 8:30, 34: Ps. 86:5: 103:3: Jer. 31:34). The root 3722 kaphar (kaw-far') (cover) which is used to express the idea of atonement or propitiation, in some cases means "forgive" (Ps. 65:3; 78:38;79:9; Isa. 6:7; 22:14; Jer. 18:23; Ezek. 16:63). The root 4229 machah (maw-khaw') signifies that sins may be wiped or blotted out (Neh. 4:5; Ps. 51:1; 109:14; Isa. 43:25; 44:22; Jer. 18:23). The verb 3680 kacah (kaw-saw') suggests that sins may be covered or concealed (Neh. 4:5; Ps. 32:1; 85:3). The root 5375 nasa' (naw-saw')
(lift up, take away) may also mean "forgive" (Gen. 50:17;Ex. 10:17; 32:32; 34:7; Ps. 32:5; 85:3). God forgives sin, but this presupposes repentance and prayer on the part of the sinner (Ps.51:1-17).
Forgiveness is the covering, the concealment, the blotting out or removal of sins. Think about how well the concept of forgiveness fits with those clothed in White, and those at the wedding feast. "The connection with the O.T. is evident when forgiveness is presented in the language of sacrifice (Matt. 26:28; Heb. 9:11-28). It is God's gracious pardon to sinful men and is effected through Christ and through faith in him (Acts 2:38; 5:31; 10:43; 13:38; 26:18: Eph. 4:32; col. 1:9-14). In divine forgiveness the guilt and debt of sin are canceled, and repentant man is received back into fellowship with the Father. " (The New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible_ pages 306-7)

We who were enemies of God are offered forgiveness and acceptance back into a relationship with God,a God we can trust to accept and forgive us because He offers the acceptance and forgiveness to us first.

Col 1:21-23
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation--if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. (NIV)

Christ who while enduring physical torture on the cross loving offered them His forgiveness. Showing all who are willing to see that God is in fact loving, forgiving, and accepting the return of his prodigal sons. The author of life killed by His creation, though He was rejected He continues to offer reconciliation, and forgiveness.

Acts 3:14-16 
You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see. (NIV)

It is the Righteousness of God, the grace, the love which offers us the "garments of salvation" the forgiveness which is offered to all who are willing to accept His gift. A gift at present we can only see by faith based upon the evidence which Christ brought to us by His life death and resurrection. A faith in the character of our God.

I John 3:2-5
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. (NIV)

The following quote from a nineteenth century shows how misleading the doctrine of the Robe of Christ's Righteousness can become.

The Lord Jesus Christ has prepared a covering, the robe of his own righteousness, that he will put on every repenting, believing soul who by faith will receive it. Said John, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Sin is the transgression of the law; but Christ died to make it possible for every man to have his sins taken away. A fig-leaf apron will never cover our nakedness. Sin must be taken away, the garment of Christ's righteousness must cover the transgressor of God's law. Then when the Lord looks upon the believing sinner, he sees, not the fig-leaves covering him, but his own robe of righteousness, which is perfect obedience to the law of Jehovah.

The legal fiction of a God who needs to pretend that the Christian is perfectly obedient to the Laws. Instead of a God who sees our imperfections yet offers us forgiveness and reconciliation out of His love.No games, no legal maneuvers are necessary for God to forgive and accept us back from our wanderings in a far country. Just love.

From the CD The Robe by Wes King (1993) Words by Wes King music by Phil Naish
The Robe
"Come as you are and He will cleanse you. You are guilty; your pardon is of God" --Charles H. Spurgeon
Anyone whose heart is cold and lonely/ Anyone who can't believe/ Anyone whose hands are worn and empty/ Come as you are
Anyone whose feet are tired of walking/ And even lost their will to run/ There is a place of rest for your aching soul/ Come as you are
Chorus: For the robe is of God/ that will clothe your nakedness/ And the robe is His grace/ It's all you all you need/ Come as you are
Anyone who feels that they're unworthy/ Anyone who's just afraid/ Come sinner, come and receive His mercy/ Come as you are.

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