The Sanctification Gap – An Introduction
When you think of Christianity, especially of getting saved, what comes to mind? Likely, your thoughts begin with inviting Jesus into your heart, or praying a prayer, or doing something like similar. This is, for most Christians, the way to understand the event that we call getting saved. Aside from salvation and altar-calls (and fire and brimstone messages), the other most commonly preached subject is perfection. Christians are very good at talking about what perfection looked like (after all, we do have Jesus as an example, don’t we?), much like we are good at talking about how broken and fallen man is (why else would we need salvation?). There is a problem, here, however. And that is called the Sanctification Gap.
This is the term used in Spiritual Theology, coined by Richard Lovelace, to refer to that space between salvation and perfection. It is, unfortunately, a gap precisely because we know best how to preach on either side, and rarely do we know how to preach in the middle. This can lead to pretense (pretending to live perfect when we are not, because the nebulous middle-ground is difficult to pin down), despair (“Why am I not perfect even though I’ve been saved for ten years?”), and doubt (“Maybe I’m not actually saved…”).
In order to fix this, we must step out of our fear of Spiritual Disciplines and into the traditions (and Biblical teachings, mind!) of yesteryear. Not only does the Bible support Christian Spirituality, as well as a sanctification process, but within our Church history we see many theologians agree that discipline is necessary for spiritual growth. This gap is dangerous, and it is formidable. It has alienated many, and has dulled many more.
For my next couple of posts (I’m not sure how many), I intend to look into what we can do in order to bridge this gap. What can we do to grow as Christians who are saved but are far from perfection? To what extent does moralism hold up in this discussion? Does God punish us for our wrongs, even after we are saved? Do we have any influence in our sanctification? These are the sorts of questions I will be answering. if you have a related questions, add it as a comment, or send an email to pushofpikes (at) gmail (dot) com, and I’d be happy to try to work it in.