Ranking low in my esteem, among all the phrases one hears in modern evangelical Christendom, is personal Lord and Savior.
As an aside, it brings to mind the slogan they used to (still do?) have on Pennsylvania license plates: You have a friend in Pennsylvania. One was always tempted, when traversing the Keystone State, to roll down the window and ask a passerby, “Hey, are you my friend?” No—I’m not the one—must be someone else. Keep looking.
Anyway, what really bothers me about personal Lord and Savior is not that the phrase is absent from scripture, but that it projects a view of God’s relationship with man as being comprised of many one-on-one best-friendships. While God certainly enters into personal relationships, the personal Lord and Savior crowd, in my experience, deemphasizes if not outright ignores (denies?) that God also has an (at least) equally important collective (corporate) relationship with His people.
His people, the Church. We (well, some of us) like to say that the Church is the New Testament Israel. It is perhaps more revealing to say the Israel was the Old Testament Church. God has declared covenants with His people, the Church, and it is a mistake to underestimate the redemptive significance of those covenants. To say that they are little more than a tent, inside of which it is every man for himself.
Much more about this in the weeks to come. Having delivered my Intelligent Design talk, I’ll be off the science theme for a while.