The Logic of Comfort

The folks who like to draw attention to obedience in the Christian life do not seem to consider the source of believer’s comfort. Consider the following:

Since the Bible doesn’t restrict the word “gospel” to a very precise meaning, we shouldn’t either. This is not to say that we can’t use the gospel in its narrow sense and distinguish between the gospel (what Jesus has done) and our response to the gospel (what we need to do). To do so is to distinguish between redemption accomplished and redemption applied, and that is a very helpful and necessary distinction. The point is that we shouldn’t oppose or separate them. The Bible binds them together and includes both under the term “gospel.”

Paul summarized the gospel he preached in terms of the death and resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-5). But that is not all there is to the gospel, or even to the work of Christ. A summary of the gospel is just that—a summary—and it shouldn’t be set in direct opposition to its broader definition or fuller explanation.

There are some rather large problems that may arise when people limit the meaning of the gospel to its narrow sense. One potential problem is the unjust accusation of legalism or of mixing law and gospel. It is not necessarily legalistic to use phrases such as “living the gospel,” “obeying the gospel,” or “the conditions of the gospel.” But if you see what we do as only “law” and what Christ has done as only “gospel” then you will likely interpret the broad but biblical use of the term “gospel” as legalistic. Another potential problem is the minimization or outright denial of the conditions of the gospel, which is what the puritans called antinomianism.

If you confessed, however, the Heidelberg Catechism, what would its first answer do to efforts to make the gospel something you obey?

Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?

A. That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together
for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit he also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him.

It’s not as if that assertion lacks good works. But the Holy Spirit is the one to produce good works. Obedience inevitably springs from a true faith that receives and rests on Christ. To speak of the gospel requiring good works places the burden on believers who thought they had comfort.

That may explain why in Paul’s short summary (too short for some) of the gospel in 1 Cor 15:1-5, he goes on to talk about the comfort that believers take from Christ’s finished work:

14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

So glad Paul did not write, “if Christ has not been raised, your obedience is futile and your good works don’t count for anything.”


Rod Dreher admits to feeling unpatriotic during his visit to Monticello:

I had a very disconcerting moment, an unusual feeling, I think, for an American to have in a place like Mr. Jefferson’s house. We stood with the guide in the parlor, admiring the oil portraits Jefferson hung along the wall — most of them of historical figures he admired. On the southern wall were three portraits in a row: Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, and John Locke — described by Jefferson as “my trinity of the three greatest men the world has ever produced.” That, plus the marble bust of Voltaire flanking one side of the door in the entrance hall, really brought home to me how much a man of the Enlightenment Jefferson was. All the Founding Fathers were, but ignorant as I am about colonial history, I had not realized how deeply Jefferson identified with the Enlightenment.

As someone who has been doing a lot of reading lately in European intellectual history, and who has very mixed feelings about the Enlightenment, I was startled by the feeling that Jefferson was, well, wrong about some important matters. Obviously this is contestable, and I expect that most Americans would disagree. The only reason I bring it up was because I felt a bit profane, even unpatriotic, having those thoughts there…. I had a faintly similar sense of alienation. I wondered: Had I been alive during the Revolution, would I have been a Loyalist to the Crown, for the same reasons that being in Jefferson’s house and being confronted in his art by his Enlightened sensibilities made me feel so surprisingly alien.

Protestants don’t experience such a conflict in the presence of the Bible.

If Roman Catholics disagree with the pope, do they feel un-Christian? Can anything other than loyalty to the Bishop of Rome be acceptable in Roman Catholicism?

Voluntary or Forced Exit

I was listening to another episode of the Glenn Loury Show today on the way to the office and Glenn (a few years ago now) brought up the book by Albert O. Hirschman, Exit, Voice, Loyalty. It’s about what happens when businesses or states break down and consumers or citizens need to decide whether to exit, voice dissent, or remain loyal. Hirschman doesn’t apply his argument to Christianity but I couldn’t help think of Roman Catholicism, the Reformation, and Roman Catholic defenders (at all costs, it seems) while Glenn was speaking.

I couldn’t find any reviews of Hirschman in the religious journals but Margaret O’Brien Steinfels did apply the book’s insights to the Roman Catholic Church a few years ago:

One out of every three Americans raised in the church is no longer a Catholic. These “formers” make up the second or third largest religious group in America (depending on whether Baptists are counted in their unity or diversity). In marketing terms, half these Catholics have chosen another brand of religion; the other half are “nones”—unaffiliated. It’s as if roughly 12 million people had forsaken Crest for Tom’s toothpaste, while the other 12 million stopped brushing their teeth altogether. Procter & Gamble, which makes Crest, would work hard to win back those customers: perhaps by banishing turquoise toothpaste or reducing the price. Not so the Catholic Church; it is not a manufacturer and need not be as enterprising as P&G. Does that mean lost customers are more valuable than lost sheep?

Albert O. Hirschman, a brilliant and iconoclastic economist (recently celebrated in a seven-hundred-page biography), laid out a plausible explanation for this kind of phenomenon in his classic study Exit, Voice, and Loyalty, which focuses on organizations that don’t function effectively and their dissatisfied members or customers. Some leave (the “exit” of the title); some stay (the “loyalty”). Hirschman asked why.

He recognized that exiting is easy if we’re talking toothpaste. Consumers dissatisfied with their usual brand can try another. Loyalty is more likely with organizations that invite a strong allegiance, possess a monopoly on something valued, or exact a high price for leaving—for example, families, religions, political parties, and totalitarian governments. Hirschman thinks that a strong sense of loyalty to the group makes exiting a tough, even unthinkable choice for discontented members. Instead, the dissatisfied voice their criticism rather than exit.

Back in the 1960s, when Hirschman was writing Exit, Voice, and Loyalty, voice was in vogue. Women were challenging patriarchy, Democrats protesting the war in Vietnam, Eastern European dissidents questioning Marxist orthodoxy, and Catholics debating Vatican II. These were the voices of critical members who would not or could not exit. Today the cost of exit has declined in all these arenas. Marriages became more egalitarian and divorce laws were relaxed. Ronald Reagan won the votes of FDR Democrats. The Soviet Union collapsed. The Catholic Church lost its monopoly on salvation.

Steinfels, on the progressive side of the church, could only think of Hirschman in the context of Vatican II, updating Roman Catholicism, and traditionalist opposition to such reforms. She did not think about the situation of Protestants in the sixteenth century who voiced their grievances and could not continue to do so because the hierarchy disenfranchised them within the church. This was not a voluntary but a coerced exit.

And yet, Steinfels point may have something to say to folks like Bryan and the Jasons (and their followers) who seem to embody a form of loyalty that approximates blind faith:

Some would argue that the Catholic Church, claiming a monopoly on truth as well as salvation, has no course correction to make. That has been the stand of recent popes and their episcopal appointees, who have rescinded or tinkered with Vatican II reforms and ruled out further change. Complaints have gone unheard, while conforming members have been embraced. And many have left.

Parents and friends of former Catholics now singing in a Baptist choir, serving on the vestry of an Episcopal parish, or meditating in a Buddhist monastery may be relieved that they’re still praying, still believing in something. Perhaps even the “lazy monopolists” consider that these sheep are not lost, simply misplaced. But what of the “nones,” those who abandon religion altogether or just drift away from it. We seem strangely indifferent to their exit. If 12 million people stopped brushing their teeth, we’d all take notice.

Though Hirschman is inventive in pursuing the combination and permutations of exit, voice, and loyalty that might insure an organization’s long-term survival, he recognizes that efforts to change an organization may come to nothing. He sums up this eventuality on a religious note: “the martyr’s death is exit at its most irreversible and argument at its most irrefutable.” It is ironic to think of those who give up their Catholic faith as martyrs, but their departure is at least as drastic as martyrdom. Lazy monopolists take note.

Actually, thinking of certain Protestants in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as martyrs is not all that ironic. Regarding those who appeal to circular arguments like motives of credibility or invincible ignorance as lazy sure looks obvious.

Sanctification Jihad?

In light of recent events, Tim Challies might want to choose a different set of metaphors:

“How?” people ask. “How do we make this happen in our churches? I’ve always believed that prayerful, word-driven ‘vine work’ was the essence of ministry, and you’ve reminded me of that. But how do we get our people fired up to be doing that—to be ‘disciple-making disciples’?”

In other words, if prayerful teaching of the Bible is the basic method of ministry, by which God transforms people, then how (one wonders) might we see our people and our church challenged and changed and transformed to live a different vision of the Christian life?

The answer seems pretty obvious when you ask it like that: by patiently and prayerfully slashing away at each other’s dull, sinful hearts with the sharp, two-edged sword of the word of God.

This is how God changes people. Why would we imagine that our church would change in any other way? [emphasis OL]

The "Good" News of Obedient Faith

Msgr. Charles Pope (how’s that for a name?) explains:

3. The Gospel is not merely noetic (informative); it is dynamic (transformative). God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Thus when God says “Be holy,” His words contain the actual power to effect what they announce, provided we receive them in faith.

4. The Gospel is no mere written word. The Gospel is Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh. Therefore the Gospel saves all who receive it (Him) with faith and heed its warnings and teachings with the obedience of faith.

Thus, the term “gospel” means more than “good news.” And given our cultural setting and its presuppositions related to the word “good,” the notion that “gospel = good news” can be downright misleading. It is better and richer to understand the term “gospel” to refer to the life-changing and transformative utterance of God, which is able to save us if we obey its demands in faith. It is in fact Jesus Himself who is the Word made Flesh. Perhaps this is less memorable, but it is more true and less misleading.

But given our historical setting post-fall, good news that promises we will be saved if we obey God’s commands doesn’t sound very good. (Why should the gospel be only “Good News” instead of like awakenings “Great News” or revolutions “Glorious News”?) That’s why the first Protestants (read Lutherans) were known as evangelicals. Obedience Boys take note.


Somewhere during the past few weeks I recall reading something about the origins of the episcopate and Ambrose’s contention that obedience to the bishop was of the essence of episcopacy. (That may generate titters from those in the Episcopal Church or the Reformed Episcopal Church, but it still goes with the territory of a universal bishop who has access to the relics of Peter.) Here is one account of the obedience that bishops require (though it might carry more weight actually coming from a bishop):

. . . most of us encounter bishops not only by instruction in the faith, but in practical judgments that have no assurance of divine guidance: appointment or removal of a priest, refusal of a legitimate request, closing of a church or school. Here obedience – along with charity and patience – is truly tested. This instance requires two further clarifications.

On the one hand, according the will of Christ the apostles and their successors the bishops have legitimate authority in all ecclesial matters down to the most mundane dealings. By virtue of the duties incurred by the great gift of our baptisms, we must obey the juridical decisions of bishops, even if we disagree.

On the other hand, our duty of obedience does not mean we cannot communicate our opinions, ideas, and reservations to our bishops, in private or public. But because of bishops’ ecclesial dignity, we must do so charitably and with deference. We can seek recourse to the Apostolic See if we believe a bishop has decided contrary to canon law, but we must never seek to embarrass or insult him in the process – doing so only further disturbs the whole flock.

“A bishop is bound to belong to all, to bear the burden of all,” writes Chrysostom. As members of the same Body of Christ, we must help our bishops bear the burden of souls by bearing our burden of obedience to them. Obedience never has been easy, and it never will be. But like all things truly Catholic, obedience is worth the sacrifice.

So far, so good (if you’re not a presbyterian or congregationalist).

Then along comes this diatribe that might have given Luther pause:

America’s bishops are confusing Catholics by using doublespeak, being indecisive, and being politically correct. Their posturing has, and is, causing great harm to the Church in America.

A case in point: In June 2012, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) unanimously stated that the contraception-sterilization-abortifacients regulation of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act was an “unjust and illegal mandate and a violation of personal civil rights.” Following the National Prayer Breakfast in May, Sean Cardinal O’Malley, OFM Cap., the archbishop of Boston and chair of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, was asked if this regulation violates God’s law. He responded, “The regulation that imposes abortion and sterilization, this is a violation of God’s law.”

So far, so good; here is the rest of the story. In a letter to Congress, the American bishops wrote, “Those who help provide health care, and those who need such care for themselves and their families, should not be forced to choose between preserving their religious and moral integrity and participating in our health-care system.”

However, when Cardinal O’Malley was asked whether American Catholics should obey laws that violate God’s law, he responded, “The question is complicated.” He went on to further confuse the issue: “This is a very complicated issue, and it’s something the Church is struggling with right now, and trying to come up with a moral analysis in order to be able to allow people to form their consciences and to go forward.”

As I Catholic, I do not wish to engage in calumny, particularly involving a cardinal or bishop of the Church I love. I do not believe my comments are such. I believe that the Catholic hierarchy is obligated to be clear and concise when it comes to defining God’s law. I believe that the hierarchy has a duty, as difficult as it may be, to “uncomplicate” the issues that Catholics face when it comes to their faith and how we should live as Catholics in our secular society. Cardinal O’Malley has failed to meet this obligation.

This is the sort of blast that might have actually led to excommunication and the start of a new church if bishops still expected obedience — enforcing it might be another matter. But episcopacy is not what it used to be and I don’t think Jason and the Callers have noticed.

Do the Obedience Boys Know Their Catechism?

Amid the flurry of posts about justification, sanctification, and antinomianism, attention to the Shorter Catechism has been missing. When you look there, you receive a very different impression of the law and good works than the obedience boys, Mark Jones and Rick Phillips, give.

At the birds-eye-view level, the Catechism teaches twice that God requires something from us. The first comes with the introduction to the Decalogue:

Q. 39. What is the duty which God requireth of man?
A. The duty which God requireth of man is obedience to his revealed will.

For neo-nomians or the antinomianphobes, this looks encouraging. (It also seems to make the theonomists and neo-Calvinists’ hearts swell since it would seem to encourage efforts to implement God’s revealed will in all walks of every square inch.) See, God requires obedience from us and teaching the import of law and good works is only going along with what God requires.

But then comes the kicker. After discussing the requirements and prohibitions of each and every commandment — this is the catechetical speed bump that poses a barrier to covenant children ever learning the sacraments — the catechism soberly reminds where these requirements end: the wrath and curse of God.

Q. 82. Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
A. No mere man since the fall is able in this life perfectly to keep the commandments of God, but doth daily break them in thought, word and deed.

Q. 83. Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous?
A. Some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.

Q. 84. What doth every sin deserve?
A. Every sin deserveth God’s wrath and curse, both in this life, and that which is to come.

This depressing experience with the law is why some of us lean on the grace side of things. Sure, the law is good and important and it reveals God’s holiness and our own standard for holiness. But any attempt to keep it post-fall will result in God’s wrath and curse (which is also kind of a downer for thinking about implementing God’s revealed will in politics, the cinema, or plumbing).

But then the catechism goes on to talk about the remedy to our misery:

Q. 85. What doth God require of us that we may escape his wrath and curse due to us for sin?
A. To escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin, God requireth of us faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, with the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption.

I have always found it remarkable that these Puritans did not include the law or good works in this answer. This doesn’t mean that they did not affirm the third use of the law. Nor does this answer say that “faith and repentance are necessary for salvation” (even though that’s basically what Paul told a certain jailer). But for the basic problem of sin and its consequences, the remedy for the human predicament (we are talking salvation, here) is faith, repentance, and attending the means of grace. In other words, to escape God’s wrath and curse, our obedience — in terms of obeying the law — is not going to count for much anything. Instead, what we need to do is trust in Christ, grieve over and turn from our sins, and continue to sit under the Christian ministry to have our faith strengthened and to prevent self-righteousness.

Forensic Friday: Calvin on Conscience

We must take our definition from the etymology of the word. When men grasp the conception of things with the mind and the understanding they are said “to know,” from which the word “knowledge” is derived. In like manner, when men have an awareness of divine judgment adjoined to them as a witness which does not let them hide their sins but arraigns them as guilty before the judgment seat – this awareness is called “conscience.” It is a certain mean between God and man, for it does not allow man to suppress within himself what he knows, but pursues him to the point of making him acknowledge his guilt. This is what Paul means when he teaches that conscience testifies to men, while their thoughts accuse or excuse them in God’s judgment (Rom. 2:15-16). A simple awareness could repose in man, bottled up, as it were. Therefore, this feeling, which draws men to God’s judgment, is like a keeper assigned to man, that watches and observes all his secrets so that nothing may remain buried in darkness. Hence that ancient proverb: conscience is a thousand witnesses. By like reasoning, Peter also put “the response of a good conscience to God” (1 Peter 3:21) as equivalent to peace of mind, when, convinced of Christ’s grace, we fearlessly present ourselves before God. And when the author of of The Letter to the Hebrews states that we “no longer have any consciousness of sin” (Heb. 10:2), he means that we are freed or absolved so that sin can no longer accuse us.

Therefore, just as works concern men, so the conscience relates to God in such a way that a good conscience is nothing but an inward uprightness of heart. In this sense, Paul writes that “the fulfillment of the law is love, out of a pure . . . conscience and faith unfeigned” (1 Tim. 1:5 p.). Afterward, in the same chapter, he shows how much it differs from understanding, saying that certain ones “made shipwreck of faith” because they had “forsaken a good conscience (1 Tim. 1:19). For by these words he indicates that is a lively longing to worship God and a sincere intent to live a godly and holy life. (Institutes, IV. x. 3-4.)

A couple of points are worth noting. One is the importance (there goes that squishy word) of justification to a clean conscience. Since justification is precisely a verdict of not guilty, that benefit alone can give the wounded and grieved conscience what it so desperately needs. I am not saying the doctrine does this logocentrically – as if propositions have consequences – or that this happens apart from the work of the Spirit. I am saying that a guilty conscience is important for all people because of the reality and pressing demands of the law. To have that burden lifted because of the perfect righteousness of Christ imputed to us by faith alone is an amazingly liberating moment and life.

The second point is how much Calvin sees love and holy living springing from this forensic reality of a clear conscience. Conscience goes far down in all of us thanks to being created in the image of God. So to change that legal torments that goes to the core of our being as sinners may also involve something truly renovative. At least, it is responsible to say that the significance of conscience in the life of every person means that justification can in no way be merely a book keeping matter, as if our account is credited with Christ’s righteousness way over there but then we need to have a moral transformation way deep down over here inside us for salvation to play out. Justification solves the guilty conscience problem. It’s a remedy for what is basic and deep down in each human being.

When Easy Obeyism becomes Hard

sisyphusAs long as the call for an obedient faith or the assertion that good works are necessary for salvation has justification to fall back on, the demand for a “real” and personal holiness among those who trust in Christ is not a threat but a comfort. The reason is that the perfect righteousness of Christ satisfied all the claims of the law and justice upon the elect. Christians no longer face condemnation, not only for original sin, sins committed prior to faith in Christ, sinful acts while a Christian, or even for the wickedness that clings to their good works that are the fruit and evidence of saving faith. All their sins in all aspects of their lives have been blotted out by Christ’s work on the cross.

As the Heidelberg Catechism so helpfully puts it:

Even though my conscience accuses me of having grievously sinned against all God’s commandments and of never having kept any of them, and even though I am still inclined toward all evil, nevertheless, without my deserving it at all, out of sheer grace, God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, as if I had beeen as perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me. [60]

In other words, God looks upon me as really perfect and he looks at my good works which are filthy rags as a spotless raiment only because of Christ’s righteousness imputed to me by faith alone.

As long as this understanding of justification is the basis for considerations of obedience, good works, and sanctification (i.e. the logical priority of justification), we are fine. Obeying is easy because we know that despite our weakness and infirmity we are clinging to the cross of Christ, not to our own efforts, as the source of our real and personal holiness that makes us, as the Heidelberg Catechism also puts it, “right with God.”

But that’s generally not the way it goes when people consider their good works and faithfulness. After all, faith is awfully close to faithfulness, and so maybe my faithfulness is not simply evidence of my faith but also proof of my own goodness. Of course, going all the way back to the Garden, humans want to justify themselves before God. This is the way we are wired because the Covenant of Works is so deeply rooted in our who we are as divine image bearers. We want to believe that if we do good works, we will live eternally because of our goodness, or at least because we tried hard. But to bring faithfulness close to faith is like pointing an addict to dope.

Yet, some like Norman Shepherd didn’t recognize the attraction of self-righteousness for the works-addicted. He feared that an overly forensic conception of salvation would encourage moral laxity among Christians, as if an overemphasis on justification would yield a neglect of good works. Mind you, simply making sanctification a distinct but simultaneous benefit of union with Christ won’t fix the problem of potential moral laxity. Definitive sanctification, for instance, merely heightens the problem of antinomianism – if I am simultaneously justified and sanctified, then I’m all good all the time. There’s no need for improvement.

This problem may have been responsible for the efforts of Norman Shepherd to find biblical and confessional reasons to get Christians to live better. But unfortunately, like all moral nudging it ended up making Christians who, stood guiltless before God because of Christ, feel guilty.

In the twentieth and twenty-first of his thirty-four theses, Shepherd asserted:

The Pauline affirmation in Romans 2:13, “the doers of the Law will be justified,” is not to be understood hypothetically in the sense that there are no persons who fall into that class, but in the sense that faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ will be justified (Compare Luke 8:21; James 1:22-25). The exclusive ground of the justification of the believer in the state of justification is the righteousness of Jesus Christ, but his obedience, which is simply the perseverance of the saints in the way of truth and righteousness, is necessary to his continuing in a state of justification (Heb. 3:6, 14).

The righteousness of Jesus Christ ever remains the exclusive ground of the believer’s justification, but the personal godliness of the believer is also necessary for his justification in the judgment of the last day

A natural response to these assertions is “have I been obedient enough”? Or “have I been sufficiently faithful”? After all, if I’m not obedient, then it sounds like I’m going to compromise my state of justification. And if I’m not personally obedient, then I need to worry about judgment day. At the same time, if the truth of my justification is linked to my own goodness and godliness, and if my good works are tainted with sin, I’m in a heap of trouble. Which is another way of saying that linking faith and obedience closely, even if the aim is to get people to be holier, is to destroy the comfort of a clear conscience that comes with justification by faith alone.

The Reformers saw this problem and addressed it directly when explaining justification and good works. According to the Belgic Confession, Article 23, the obedience of Christ:

is enough to cover all our sins and to make us confident, freeing the conscience from the fear, dread, and terror of God’s approach, without doing what our first father, Adam, did, who trembled as he tried to cover himself with fig leaves.

In fact, if we had to appear before God relying– no matter how little– on ourselves or some other creature, then, alas, we would be swallowed up.

Therefore everyone must say with David: “Lord, do not enter into judgment with your servants, for before you no living person shall be justified.”

The problem of a plagued conscience was also pertinent to the consideration of the Christian’s obedience and faithfulness. In the next article (24) the Belgic Confession affirms:

[A]lthough we do good works we do not base our salvation on them; for we cannot do any work that is not defiled by our flesh and also worthy of punishment. And even if we could point to one, memory of a single sin is enough for God to reject that work.

So we would always be in doubt, tossed back and forth without any certainty, and our poor consciences would be tormented constantly if they did not rest on the merit of the suffering and death of our Savior.

The great advantage of justification by faith alone and its priority to sanctification and good works, then, is that it calms a sinner’s conscience. It could be my problem alone, since I may have more dirt to plague my conscience than others. But then again, if perfection is the standard, all are condemned and should be haunted by God’s holy standard. That is all the more a reason for highlighting justification by faith alone as the solution to a guilty conscience, and rejecting any formulation that prompts sinners to wonder if they have done enough to be saved.