"The one who is coming after me is stronger than I am. I’m not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
Ministry of John the Baptist
3 In those days John the Baptist appeared in the desert of Judea announcing, 2 “ Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven! ” 3 He was the one of whom Isaiah the prophet spoke when he said:
4 John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey.
5 People from Jerusalem, throughout Judea, and all around the Jordan River came to him. 6 As they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. 7 Many Pharisees and Sadducees came to be baptized by John. He said to them, “ You children of snakes! Who warned you to escape from the angry judgment that is coming soon? 8 Produce fruit that shows you have changed your hearts and lives. 9 And don’t even think about saying to yourselves, Abraham is our father. I tell you that God is able to raise up Abraham’s children from these stones. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and tossed into the fire. 11 I baptize with water those of you who have changed your hearts and lives. The one who is coming after me is stronger than I am. I’m not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 The shovel he uses to sift the wheat from the husks is in his hands. He will clean out his threshing area and bring the wheat into his barn. But he will burn the husks with a fire that can’t be put out. ”
Throughout the history of Christianity, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (“LGBT” or“queer”) people have been condemned as unrepentant sinners who are in dire need of God’s saving grace. As a result of this condemnation, LGBT people have been subjected to great spiritual, emotional and physical abuse and violence. This issue has taken on a particular urgency in light of the horrific string of suicides over the last year of young LGBT people who were subjected to harassment and bullying by their classmates.
Cheng argues that people need to be liberated from the traditional legal model of thinking about sin and grace as a violation of divine and natural laws in which grace is understood as the strength to refrain from violating such laws. Rather Cheng proposes a Christological model based upon the theologies of Irenaeus, Bonaventure and Barth, in which sin and grace are defined in terms of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.
This book will serve as a useful resource for all people who struggle to make sense of the traditional Christian doctrines of sin and grace in the context of the 21st century.