One of the arresting vows that church members take in Presbyterian circles is this:
Do you confess that because of your sinfulness you abhor and humble yourself before God, that you repent of your sin, and that you trust for salvation not in yourself but in Jesus Christ alone?
Important to consider is that this is something someone who has already converted or been baptized and reared in the church is supposed to answer in the affirmative. That means that someone who is already regenerate and progressing in sanctification is supposed to affirm. After all, we don’t go straight from the conversion experience to a gathering of the congregation to receive members.
Why is it then that someone who is holy and sanctified, since these are parts of the gospel as some tell us, would abhor himself (notice too that we require the fairer sex also to abhor herself)? And why is it that we need to understand, as the gospel networkers are encouraging us to learn, that growth in holiness does not lead to spiritual pride?
We deny that assurance gained through growth in godliness amounts to a performance-based religion or necessitates an unwholesome spiritual pride. . . .
We deny that rejoicing in victories over sin amounts to spiritual pride or performance religion, although Christians may and sometimes do sin in this way.
This makes me wonder if our membership vows need to be revised. Should we add a membership vow that asks, “do you rejoice now and will you continue to do so in your victories over sin?” Or is the posture of abhorrence much more fitting for those who join the body of Christ?
Now if you believe Jesus is in some sense (hear that republicationists) like us, then you may not care for the language of abhorrence. Then again, if you affirm what Machen explained about the uniqueness of Christ, disgust with yourself may not be so bad:
Certainly Jesus had a religion of His own; His prayer was real prayer, His faith was real religious faith. His relation to His heavenly Father was not merely that of a child to a father; it was that of a man to his God. Certainly Jesus had a religion; without it His humanity would indeed have been but incomplete. Without doubt Jesus had a religion; the fact is of the utmost importance. But it is equally important to observe that that religion which Jesus had was not Christianity. Christianity is a way of getting rid of sin, and Jesus was without sin. His religion was a religion of Paradise, not a religion of sinful humanity. It was a religion to which we may perhaps in some sort attain in heaven, when the process of our purification is complete (though even then the memory of redemption will never leave us); but certainly it is not a religion with which we can begin. The religion of Jesus was a religion of untroubled sonship; Christianity is a religion of the attainment of sonship by the redeeming work of Christ. (Christianity and Liberalism, 92)