Archive - March, 2014

Heading Towards the Cross: The Offense of Substitutionary Atonement

I readily confess that one of my favorite more contemporary Christian hymns/songs is “In Christ Alone” (written in 2001).  Its emphasis on the centrality of Christ and the trust the Lord rarely fails to move me to a deeper conviction and engage me in a stronger commitment.  It is one of those songs that feeds my soul.  Even typing the words, the great, first verse anchors my being and brings me before the Lord in peace.

“In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.”

The second verse moves into an affirmation of the incarnation. “Christ alone, Who took on flesh, Fullness of God in helpless babe!” Yet, from there it plunges into claims of atonement that are often an offense.

“This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid –“

The third verse embraces the resurrection in full-throated glory and the fourth verse moves the listener to the heights of discipleship in sanctified commitment.  Yet the last half of the second verse remains as an in-your-face declaration of substitutionary atonement.

In my last blog, “Heading Towards the Cross: The Workings of the Cross – Atonement” I noted the variety of metaphors which speak to the issue of how the cross “works” or how we are atoned – if you will, “at-oned” with God in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. I made no claims that my list was exhaustive (the list was largely, though not exclusively, taken from the writing of Scot McKnight in his book A Community Called Atonement). I emphasized how the earliest Christians refused to settle for a single metaphor or image understanding of atonement and salvation.  Through a refusal to settle for a single metaphor and an equal refusal to jettison any one biblical image under the inspired guidance of the Holy Spirit, those earliest Christians led us to a great and uncomfortable truth.  We wish to pick the image we like and slide quickly by the rest. Such is a mistake of biblical proportions.

In particular this conflict can be noted around issues relating to substitutionary atonement.  Substitutionary atonement is the notion (metaphor or image) that Jesus did something we could not do for ourselves.  He paid the price for our sin.  In short form it goes something like this.  A righteous, just, and holy God cannot simply ignore the disasters and evil consequence of sin.  The price of sin must be paid.  Christ, the one sinless human being (fully human and fully divine!), on the cross paid the price that just and righteous God required. God’s wrath is not against humans but against sin.  It is the logical consequence of love’s full embrace.  To demand that God’s wrath towards sin be ignored is effectively to live in a delusion of sin’s effect on human life and living.  By way of illustration of sin’s power we simply need to point to the civil war waging in Syria this very day.  Or, should we chose something closer to home, we can easily note the rising homelessness in the world’s most prosperous nation (including right here in Fort Worth!).  These are the real world consequences of sin and they can be ignored or papered over.

Yet notions of a wrathful God make us, especially those of the old mainline (now sideline) – shrink back in unfeigned disgust.  We recoil at the very idea of God’s wrath needing to be satisfied.  It makes God look vengeful and needless cruel. (Years ago I heard someone refer to it as “divine child abuse.”  In a recent article Dr. Bill Bouknight recalled that “back in 1993 at the infamous Re-Imagining Conference, a Union Seminary professor said, ‘We don’t need to hear about somebody hanging on a cross, and blood dripping, and all that stuff.’  And when those words were spoken, the interdenominational audience exploded into applause.  Obviously, the message of the cross is still as offensive as St. Paul found it to be—‘a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles’ (I Cor. 1:23).”  He went on to note that “The official position of the UMC is clearly stated in Article XX of the Articles of Religion: ‘The offering of Christ, once made, is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction but that alone’ (Bill Bouknight, The Atonement Controversy).”  Furthermore, scriptural references are too numerous to be ignored.  “God has done what was impossible for the Law, since it was weak because of selfishness. God condemned sin in the body by sending his own Son to deal with sin in the same body as humans, who are controlled by sin. He did this so that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us” (Romans 8:3, CEB).  “…he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (I John 2:2, NRSV).  “People are destined to die once and then face judgment. In the same way, Christ was also offered once to take on himself the sins of many people. He will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:27-28).  “You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, because you were slain, and by your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation” (Revelation 5:9, CEB). The list could go on but the reader can get the drift.

Whether we like it or not, substitutionary atonement cannot be ignore.  H. Richard Niebuhr’s great quote will preach at lent!  “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross” (H. Richard Niebuhr from The Kingdom of God in America).  At the same time it is important, vitally important, that we do not boil our whole understanding of salvation down to substitutionary atonement.  What the first Christians refused to do, so should we refuse to do also.  There is room and application needed for all of the various understandings (theories/metaphors/images) of atonement.  We need to embrace the whole of the gospel not just part of it.

The offense of substitutionary atonement comes for much of our age because it, substitutionary atonement, takes sin so seriously.  This is a truth we need to recover not only in our peaching and teaching but in our lives and confession.  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (I John 1:8-10).  We suffer from a surfeit of cheap grace.  A grace that costs little and means less.  Paul had it right, “we preach Christ crucified, which is a scandal to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. But to those who are called—both Jews and Greeks—Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom” (I Corinthians 1:23-24).

The song, In Christ Alone, has it right, “Here in the death of Christ I live” (verse 2, last line).

Heading Towards the Cross: The Workings of the Cross – Atonement

There is an old story passed on to me years ago by an Army veteran in a congregation I served.  If I recall it correctly, a company of soldiers was dug-in on a hill and receiving a great deal of lethal shelling from the enemy.  Through the explosions, a soldier dived into a foxhole.  Hugging the ground his fingers touched metal.  He pried up a little pocket cross.  As the shelling lessoned, he look across the foxhole and notice that the person he shared it with was a chaplain.  “Say Chaplain,” he said, “how do you make this thing work anyhow?”  Atonement is about how this thing – the cross, crucifixion and resurrection – works.  It is about how we become at one with God.

Make no mistake about it.  The cross looms over the landscape leading to Easter.  How the cross works in the equation that leads us from the incarnation of Christmas to the joy of Easter morning and beyond is what this journey called Lent is about.

The cross is the epitome of Roman power and might.  It is the essence of human sin and suffering.  It is an unescapable reality of the Christ faith.  “Jesus said to everyone, ‘All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will save them’” (Luke 9:23-24).

I like the way the famous Anglican Church pastor John R. W. Stott put it: “There is then, it is safe to say, no Christianity without the cross. If the cross is not central to our religion, ours is not the religion of Jesus.” Or take the great quote of the German Christian martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer who so valiantly resisted the evils of Nazi Germany: “The cross is laid on every Christian…. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death – we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p. 89).

That phrase of Bonhoeffer’s – “he bids him come and die” – is justly famous for this is exactly what Bonhoeffer did.  Furthermore it is justly famous because it pushes us back on the meaning of the cross and the basic teaching of Jesus – “take up [your] cross.”

All of this is a way of getting at how salvation becomes effective, how it all “works.”  It is significant, I think, that the early church insisted on doctrine of incarnation with Jesus confessed as fully human and fully divine as embedded in the great creeds. “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; … he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human” (The Nicene Creed). They battled over the precise meaning of the Holy Trinity giving us the great threefold rendition of the Apostle Creed. “I believe in God the Father Almighty, … And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; … I believe in the Holy Spirit” (The Apostles Creed).

But, when it came to understanding salvation, what we properly call atonement or at-one-ment.  They reached for a series of metaphors and refused to adopt just one definition or understanding.  Each metaphor points back to the crucial transaction that takes place in the crucifixion and in the resurrection.  Consider the listing that Scot McKnight lifts up in his marvelous book A Community Called Atonement.

  • Recapitulation – “he [Jesus] became like us that we might be like him” (Attributed to a number of early church theologians including Irenaeus and Athnasius)
  • Ransom/Christus Victor – Jesus’ identification with us in death breaks our captivity to sin
  • Satisfaction – Jesus identifies with our sinful nature (this metaphor is closely akin to Substitution)
  • Substitution – Jesus did something for us that we could not do for ourselves, “He died instead of us and for our sins so that we could be raised with him to new life” (McKnight, p. 111).
  • Representation – “We both die and rise with Christ (inclusive representation) and he dies and is raised instead of us but for our benefit by incorporation (exclusive representation)” (McKnight, p. 112).
  • Penal Substitution – Christ died instead of us and died for us by paying the “price” for our sins.
  • Demonstration – Jesus’ death was the supreme demonstration of God’s love making it possible for us to take up our cross and live a life of love & service to others.

The list is hardly exhaustive and is fraught with complexity.  I would argue that the early church got it right in insisting on not just one metaphor but a series of metaphors.  Put differently, it is a serious mistake to take one of the above (or some version) and lift it alone as the sum total of what we understand atonement – at-one-ment – to be.  The “way it works” to go back to my opening image is more complex and more varied than any single metaphor.  In its great wisdom the early Church understood this truth.  My plea is that Lent finds us wrestling with these great themes.  They are still vitally the stuff of life today … especially in this bruised and battered world of ours.

On a very different subject, I want to pass on some good news.  The Central Texas Conference has received a grant from the General Board of Global Ministries.  The RELCC (Racial Ethnic Local Concerns Committee) grant is for a part of the covenant relationship with the Eastern Mexico Conference in which Eastern Mexico sends a team of worship leaders to lead a weekend worship retreat at El Buen Samaritano.  The retreat is designed for worship leaders seeking training/resources for leading Hispanic worship.  Rev. Sam Macias and Rev. Lilliana Padilla were instrumental in the development of this idea and have worked with the Conference centers of both Mission Support and Evangelism & Church Growth to set up this ministry project.  We give thanks for the generosity of GBGM and all here who have worked on setting this up!

Heading Towards the Cross: The Seriousness of Our Separation

As we continue heading towards the cross in our Lenten journey, those who claim to be Christ-followers traverse a landscaped called atonement.  We cannot help but do so.  We may argue at length with each other on just how a new relationship with God, with self, with others, and with the world has come about. But the unshakable reality is, that in some way, Jesus Christ dying on the cross atoned for our sins.

I like to think of atonement by simply breaking the word apart: at-one-ment.  Through the cross we become at one with God.  In the one person who was both fully human and fully divine we are reconnected with our maker. As John Richard Neuhaus put it, “what was separated is now at one” (Scot McKnight, A Community Called Atonement, p. 15).

Today we often stumble in our failure to take seriously our separation; namely sin.  We tend to slide by theories of atonement and settle into a facile understanding of Jesus the great teacher because we are uncomfortable facing the reality of our lives.  We are sinners.  I am a sinner.  I have within me a propensity to place myself ahead of the Lord God. So do we all.

Think of the standard images for atonement.  The term salvation comes from the battlefield.  We are knocked to the ground and about to be run-in by a spear-wielding enemy.  Just then, someone steps into to take the blow and dies to save our life.  We are saved!  Or think of redemption, the image comes from the slave market.  It is an especially powerful image for those caught in the grip of an addiction.  We are being auctioned into slavery for our sins  – our willful separation from God.  Someone, Jesus Christ, steps in and pays the price for our freedom.  Or again, consider the term Paul uses in Romans – Justification.  We are in court and held to account for our failures, our sins.  Any plea that we are mostly a nice person is easily thrust aside.  The evidence is clear.  We are guilty of sin, of separation, from God.  As the gavel is pounded down, Christ steps in and sets the verdict aside declaring us justified, that is made right by his actions.

While hardly a complete list, each image referenced points to the seriousness of our separation from God.  They signal a far different reality than the need for just a little correction.  They give evidence of a radical flaw in our makeup; a flaw so deep that none escape.  This truth was demonstrated recently by Pope Francis when he posed the question about himself.  “‘Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?’ I am a sinner. This the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.”

It is the cross rising before us in the distance that makes us face fully and truthfully the reality of sin; our propensity to be our own gods.  It is the cross standing before us in the distance that challenges our naïve assumptions of our own essential goodness.  Consider just one list of false gods that clamor to reign over us, over the very best of us!

  • Individualism – the story that “I” am the center of the universe
  • Consumerism – the story that I am what I own
  • Nationalism – the story that my nation is God’s nation
  • Moral relativism – the story that we can’t know what is universally good
  • Scientific naturalism – the story that all that matters is matter
  • New Age – the story that we are gods
  • Postmodern tribalism – the story that all that matters is what my small group thinks
  • Salvation by therapy – the story that I can come to my full human potential through inner exploration (taken from The King Jesus Gospel by Scot McKnight; pg. 157).

The Christian conviction wrapped up in the theological concept called atonement is that through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus somehow this sin has met its match.  Sin is still real.  It is still present.  It still needs to be faced, confessed and repented of; but its power is ultimately broken.  Heading towards the cross we are challenged to face the seriousness of our separation.  Only then can the joy of Easter morning be fully embraced.

I will continue on the theme of atonement in my next blog as we together head toward the cross … and beyond!  I close with a pungent quote from Stephen Seamands:  “For at the cross we see Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, being mocked, tortured, and finally murdered by the sons and daughters of men. We see humanity defiantly turned against God, the creature, in all of its prideful arrogance, seeking to annihilate the Creator. The writer of Hebrews exhorts us to “think of all the hostility he endured form sinful people” (Heb 12:3) as he endured the cross. Here our deep-seated, burning hostility toward God is fully exposed: Our hatred is so intense we would kill God if we could. In our determination to be autonomous and independent, to be our own gods, we would go so far as to get rid of God so we could take his place. Here we see not “sinners in the hands of an angry God,” as Jonathan Edwards put it in his famous eighteenth-century sermon, but “God in the hands of angry sinners.” The cross reveals how hell-bent we are and how heinous and horrible sin is” (Stephen Seamands, Give Them Christ, pg. 62).




This blog is a special plea and invitation for young adults ages 18 to 35 to sign up for the Taize “Pilgrimage of Trust” that will be held at Whites Chapel UMC, April 4-6!  You may do so by going to the Central Texas Conference Website

A truly great blessing in my time as bishop of the Central Texas Conference was a leadership trip that I took with a group of young people from the Conference to Taize, France.  Through the leadership of Rev. Larry Duggins and the Missional Wisdom Foundation, we have developed a relationship with this inspiring ministry.

By way of background: “The Taizé Community is an ecumenical monastic community located in the small village of Taizé, France. The Brothers are from twenty-five countries and from various Christian denominations. Together they seek to live a parable of community and reconciliation. For more than forty years, Taizé has become a place of pilgrimage for tens of thousands of young adults from all over the world. At Taizé, they take part in weekly meetings that are organized by the community.”

Last June in reflecting on my Taize experience I wrote a series of four blogs (entitled “COME HOLY SPIRIT).  In the first I shared, “As I soaked in the experience of Taize, I discovered myself going through a spiritual detoxification.  The challenges, struggles, and problems of life and of my work as bishop did not disappear.  Rather they are put in perspective as I take time to open myself to the Holy Spirit.  In one sense, this is not new at all.  I hardly needed to travel to France to experience the importance of music, silence, and scripture in my Christian walk.  In another, greater sense, I feel like a desperately thirsty man staggering in from the desert and being offered a cold glass of refreshing water.  Steve Bryant’s (the former editor of the Upper Room) maxim that most of us do not go to the high places enough once again rings true in my life.  I (we!!!!) need time for spiritual detoxification from the world’s constant bombardment.”

Those who attend will bless themselves and others richly in the grace of God and the love of neighbor through this great spiritual happening.  It is not taking place in France but right here in our Conference.  (God bless you Whites Chapel and the Missional Wisdom Foundation for hosting!) It is not just for Methodist but for all young adults (18 to 35) who see a relationship with living Lord.

Next Tuesday I will continue a series of Lenten blogs on the cross.

The Cross Before Us

Last Sunday I preached from the opening chapter of I Corinthians.  In my preparation I could not help but be struck again for the … hum…. maybe 300th time …by Paul’s insistence in pointing us to the crucifixion of Christ.  Insistently he argues for the centrality of Christ. Four times in the first 3 verses, the Apostle Paul mentions Jesus Christ or the Lord Jesus Christ or Christ Jesus. “Together with all those who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place—he’s their Lord and ours!” (I Corinthians 1:2b)

Just as quickly as this great sainted leader of the early Christian movement lifts up Christ, Paul links the confession of Jesus Christ with the cross of Christ.  He bores right into the heart of what constitutes a faithful church.  “We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (I Corinthians 1:23-24) Indeed, John Wesley’s instruction to the first Methodist preachers was a repeat of St. Paul’s plea.  “Preach Christ, and Him crucified.”

It is fashionable in some Christian circles to de-emphasize the cross in favor of the incarnation (God with us in the person of Christ) and the resurrection (God in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit conquering death).  Both incarnation and resurrection are vital core Christian doctrines.  Neither can be slighted.  But without the cross they do not hang together.

For the incarnation to be real, a resurrection must take place.  For a resurrection to take place.   The crucifixion must happen.  Far too many try to skip over this uncomfortable truth by seeking to leap from the triumph of Palm Sunday to the joy of Easter morning.  But such a leap does precisely what the Apostle Paul warns against.  It empties the cross and resurrection of their power.

In the first chapter of I Corinthians Paul pauses to be thankful that he has baptized just a few people lest Christians be misled.  I find that truly amazing!  For me, baptism is a high moment and a privilege, a crowning joy.  It is the activity I miss most as a bishop.  For Paul baptism must have likewise held great joy.  To say in verse fourteen, “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius” (I Corinthians 1:14) dramatically highlights the importance of the cross before us on our Lenten journey.  Embrace with me again the power of the Apostle’s words:  “Christ didn’t send me to baptize but to preach the good news. And Christ didn’t send me to preach the good news with clever words so that Christ’s cross won’t be emptied of its meaning.” (I Corinthians 1:17)  Now step forward into the text of I Corinthians.  “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are being destroyed. But it is the power of God for those of us who are being saved.” (I Corinthians 1:18)

We tend to be squeamish about the reality of the cross; we fumble, slightly offended by concepts like substitutionary atonement (more on that in a later blog); yet the reality of the cross is ever before us.  I close with a piece of writing from John Ortberg’s Who Is This Man? The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus:

“As a simple historical reality, it was sin – human darkness in every other person involved – that put Jesus on the cross. But he believed that through love the cross could somehow become not just a symbol of sin and death but also a symbol of even more powerful redemptive love. And whatever else one believes or does not believe about Jesus, that is exactly what happened.

Out of his remarkable brilliance, breathtaking courage, and inexplicable love, Jesus sized up a situation that defeated every human attempt at correction. He identified exactly what would be needed to bring redemption. It would cost him his life.

Two thousand years later, his death is the most important, most remembered death in the history of the world.

Pilate, who wanted above all to be a friend of Caesar, ended up writing in Hebrew, the language of the people of God; in Greek, the language of the cultured world; and in Latin, the language of the Roman Empire, so that the whole world could read:

Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews.

Jesus outlasted, outmaneuvered, and out-thought every group, every power. But not just that. Mostly he just out-loved everybody. For Jesus in the garden had one agenda that superseded the agendas of all the others: love.

‘I’ll die on Friday.’”  (John Ortberg, Who Is This Man? The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus, p. 172-173)

This Lent preach, teach, and talk about Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  The cross is before us.

Reflections on The Discipline, Worship and Focus

At the Convocation of Cabinets (worldwide) held at Lake Junaluska in November 2007, Bishop Janice Huie gave a memorable address. At one point in her presentation, she lifted in one hand a Discipline from one hundred years ago. It was a small, relatively thin book.

Bishop Huie shared the following (taken from her speech notes): In my lifetime, the Book of Discipline has grown from this (hold up a 1948 BOD) to this (hold up a 2004 BOD) and this (hold up a 2004 BOR) and this (hold up a BOW).  The 1948 BOD had a section on the social principles and worship.  (Hold the three.)  Stability and order is good, but that’s a lot of stability and order. 

Just so the initials are clear.  BOR = Book of Resolutions.  The 2012 version is ¾ of an inch thick.  The 2008 version was 2 inches thick!  BOW = Book of Worship.  The most recent version is 1 ½ inches thick.  The current Hymnal is 1 ½ inches thick.  It is supplemented by a number of other hymnals containing a variety of music styles.  BOD = Book of Discipline.  It was 1 ½ inches thick in 2008.  The 2012 version of the BOD is 1 ¼ inches thick.  (There is actually no appreciable change in size, maybe minutely larger in material, but the print size and margins are smaller and the paper is thinner.)

Now reflect on the 1898 Book of Discipline of the Methodist Church.  In that Discipline were not only the rules of the church but also hymns to be sung and orders of worship. Stack it all up as Bishop Huie did.  She weighed up all of the books which we have now to do the same functions as the 1898 Book of Discipline: The Book of Discipline, The Book of Resolutions, The United Methodist Hymnal, The Book of Worship. The difference between the one stack that is difficult for a person to hold in one hand and the one slim book that would easily fit in a saddle bag is staggering to behold.  If my math is accurate, 1898 = ¾ inches.  2012 = 5 inches; if we use the 2008 totals then the differences is 6.75 vs .6.5 inches.

When the church was at its best, it lives out of a clear set of convictions and a passionate commitment to the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world with a minimal set of legal instructions.  Wherever we are going as a denominational faith community, adding more pages  to The Discipline won’t help.  [In Remember the Future, Bishop Robert Schnase has a number of excellent chapters on this subject.  Chapter 4: “Four Thousand Shalls” and Chapter 22: “Logjam” especially catch my attention.]  What will make a difference is focusing on the mission of making disciples – disciplined committed followers of Jesus Christ who (by definition!) are engaged in transforming the world (“on earth as it is in heaven!”).

At our recent Cabinet meeting, Don Scott handed me an old 1898 copy of The Discipline.  It still offers marvelous insight to what we are about. One section caught my eye. It is as follows:

The Means of Grace.
Section I
Of Public Worship.

Question 1. What directions are given for uniformity of public worship?
Par. 216. Ans. 1. The norming service shall be conducted in the following order:
(1) Singing – the congregation standing.
(2) Prayer – the congregation kneeling.
(3) Reading a lesson out of the Old Testament, and another out of the New.
(4) Singing – the congregation sitting.
(5) Preaching.
(6) Singing – the congregation standing.
(7) Prayer – the congregation kneeling.
(8) Benediction.
-Book of Discipline 1898

Hmm, … it sounds like an order of worship for a (so-called) contemporary worship service.  But then I’ve gone from preaching to meddling.

What is clear is the need to focus on the mission.  Passionate worship is Job One.  It must be yoked to the other crucial elements of faithful and fruitful living: radical hospitality (witness/evangelism), intentional faith development (prayer), risk-taking mission and service (service), and extravagant generosity (gifts).