"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Popularity Is Not My Mistress; Christ Guides Me

I am currently reading a book entitled "Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America 1789-1989" by Presidential historian Michael Beschloss. It is quickly becoming one of my top ten books of all time. Beschloss points out that the greatest leaders in United States history were those who were willing to buck popular opinion, follow one's conscience and conviction, and implement change for the good of the nation as a whole. As President John Adams said when he sought peace with France during a time that the vast majority of Americans desired war with the French, "Popularity is not my mistress."

There are three positions I am committed to take as a Southern Baptist for the next decade that may not be popular, but I am convinced that each of them is the right course of action for me.

(1). I am committed to love those Christians with whom I disagree.

I shared in my blog comment string yesterday that I am a die hard Republican. One of my best friends is a Republican National Committee member. Our former Republican Governor, Frank Keating, used my office on a regular basis when he would travel through northwest Oklahoma. I am a right wing conservative politically. I am pro-Israel, and anti-abortion. I support a consitutional amendment on marriage and believe the war in Iraq is just. You will not find a bigger supporter of George W. Bush than I, and I am absolutely convinced history will be kinder to him than the current polls. I love America and am a very strong capitalist. Yet . . .

I refuse to be defined by my politics when it comes to relating to, and cooperating with, my Christian brothers and sisters. I don't care if my brother in Christ is a Democrat, or a left wing politian. I don't care if he is politically anti-Israel, and refuses to fight against abortion in the same manner as I - I will still call him a brother in Christ. I don't care if he dislikes George Bush, believes the war in Iraq is unjust and favors more money for welfare and blushes at the presentation of colors - I will still call him a brother in Christ. I don't care if he is black, Asian, Hispanic or Jewish, if he calls Christ His Lord - he is my brother. He may view the world different than I; he may relate to the world different than I; but if he is my brother in Christ I will extend to him the right hand of fellowship and love.

I will, however, make a deal with him. When we get together, let's not talk about politics. When we worship together, let's just focus on Christ. When we see a need in the world around us, let's do our part to meet that need through cooperation. We may never see eye to eye politically, philosophically or even theologically, but we will commit to love each other with the love of Christ. I shall refuse and resist to become caustic, angry or bitter towards my brother or sister in Christ, and would hope the desires would be reciprocal. But even if my brother in Christ tries to provoke me to anger by attacking me, I will steadfastly refuse to respond in kind.

I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him. -- Booker T. Washington

(2). I am committed to be firm in my convictions, but humble in my relationships.

I am not scared to dialogue with others who disagree. I am not afraid to listen to those with opposing views. Only the weak silence dissent. Only the insecure wish the dissidents buried. Those strong in their convictions have the ability to be humble in their approach. Meekness is controlled strength, and only strength of convictions under control give rise to meekness in relationships with others.

In fact, I will go even further. When evangelical conservative Christians seek to make friends of liberal non-evangelical Christians, liberalism is destroyed. It is the goodness of God that leads to repentance, and it is the goodness of conservatives that leads non-conservatives to a greater appreciation for, and ultimate conversion to, a more conservative view of their world and their faith. Animosity, anger, bitterness and hate only turn people away from the fulness of the gospel, but love, grace, meekness and patience lead people to it.

Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them? -- Abraham Lincoln

(3). I will absolutely refuse to allow any of my political, cultural, traditional or national views transcend or trump my view of the gospel of Jesus Christ and my relationship with those who follow Him.

That does not mean I will not maintain my national, political, and cultural identity, for I will. To deny who I am would be dishonest. However, in everything Jesus Christ will be preeminent. I am not interested in people living like those of us in Western Civilization. I am not even that concerned that people view the world as I view it. World views are important, but Christ has a way of changing the perceptions of His people, and He does not need me to do it for Him.

I will keep the main thing the main thing. I desire to know nothing among you save Christ and Him crucified. It is my desire to win converts to Christ, and His kingdom transcends everthing. I will resist with all my might ANY attempts to politicize the spiritual. We Baptists always err when we are more concerned with politics, denominationalism, national identity, and Western Civilization than we are the kingdom of Christ. I remind all of us however that the Apostle Paul clearly told us that the purpose of goverment is to 'bear the sword of justice,' while the purpose of the church is to proclaim to the world the gospel of Christ.

When I am around my brothers in Christ I will pray with them, support them, encourage them, partner with them, and praise them -- but I will not seek to make them like me politically, culturally, philosophically or even theologically. Nor will I bend if they attempt to make me like them. My bond with my brothers and sisters in Christ is Christ alone.

When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said "Let us pray." We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land. -- Bishop Desmond Tutu

I look forward to the next ten years in the SBC.

In His Grace,


Wade

100 comments:

Phil said...

Long time reader, first time commentor. I really appreciate your clarity and your class. You have modeled for me how a person can effect change, overcome challenges with a gracious spirit, and be persistent in the face of opposition. I'm proud to be a Southern Baptist because of you.

Alan Cross said...

Well said, Wade. Well said.

Now, if we can all have the courage and clarity to live that out . . .

Anonymous said...

Didn't Desmond Tutu finish that statement with, "... and we got the better of the deal."?

Here's hoping that our opponents in non-religious issues will let us be their friends and brothers in religious matters. It seems a whole lot of people are married to their habit of arguing.

Steve Austin

Alycelee said...

"...Christ has a way of changing the perceptions of His people, and He does not need me to do it for Him."
My personal favorite quote.
That really gives me great hope.
Thanks Wade

OC Hands said...

Wade,
I have already commented on Marty's blog about those of you who attended this meeting. YOU have our deepest admiration. We will pray for you and all who will be associated with the meeting. Our prayer is that this will become God's meeting and it will accomplish His agenda.

Anonymous said...

Again: Each year's version of the Baptist Faith and Message (1925, 1963, 2000) is REPRESENTATIVE of the personal theological persuasions of every kind of Baptist ever walking on planet Earth--and can be the basis for our cooperation in evangelism and missions if we will cooperate (which is the real question; will we cooperate? Only the Bible itself is exhaustive of the personal theological persuasions of any of us). Let each Baptist choose his version and let all cooperate for Christ's sake.

I think this blogsite has come a long way since December 2005. Thanks, Wade--keep up the good work holding out the Good Word that Christians share more common ground than we sometimes seem to believe that we do. Too much is at stake, and the time is too short, for any other approach to life in God's kingdom.


David Troublefield
Wichita Falls, TX

martyduren said...

Steve-
I think that quote is older than the Bishop and its original context did not include the thought you've raised, it spoke to betrayal.

Wade-
Nicely done. If your not careful, you'll be more like Timothy George than his fundamentalist counterparts.

Keep it up.

REV. CHRIS HILLIARD said...

Wade,
I actually agree in the principles you present here and believe them to be very well presented. But It still begs an unanswered question for me from yesterday. Is there ANY doctrinal stance, moral conviction, theological camp, etc. that a "Baptist" could hold to and publicly proclaim that would/could/should exclude us from joining hands in supporting/doing ministry together?

Kyle A. Roberts said...

Wade,

I appreciate the tenor and thrust of your post. Yes, Christians are Christians, whatever their afiliation, and fellowship/unity is the highest priority. However, I was struck by the "deal" you want to make: "when we get together, let's not talk politics." Doesn't this set a limit on the constructiveness of theology and doesn't it suggest that theology has little bearing on actual life? e.g. politics, economics, etc. Theology (and preaching) should be living theology, which means it has to do with the affairs and structures of everyday, human existence. Would the prophets have it otherwise? I'm not advocating for the religious right here, just suggesting that God may, in fact, have a politic (J. Wallis).

Bob Cleveland said...

When concern over the message, its delivery, the methods and implications, becomes more important than the One Whom the message is ABOUT, all sorts of regrettable stuff happens. THAT concern is more about US than JESUS.

When I show up at the Pearly Gates requesting entrance, I'm not going to be searching for a confession or tract or Statement of Faith to get me in. I'm going to be crying out for Jesus to come get me.

Wade Burleson said...

Chris,

When a man denies Jesus Christ as the unique Son of God who gave His life for sinners, then I can love Him, be kind to Him, and may even partner with him on social issues, but I could never partner with Him in terms of the gospel. I am determined to take a man at His Word when he says to me, "Jesus Christ is my Lord and my Savior."

Jack Maddox said...

Wade

You seem to imply that much of the opposition to your joining hands with President Carter in a Kingdom effort is due to his Political views. That the opposition to this meeting (and I would be counted among that number)is because he is a democrat and holds different views than Republicans on issues of national security, the economy and social issues. I would suggest this is far from the real reason for opposition. The real reason is due to his aforementioned views of the very nature of the gospel itself. His recent comments concerning the inclusivity of the gospel and his numerous statement on the SBC. It is not Wade that we feel you have no right to meet with him...you certainly have every right to. There is however a great deal of inconsistency when you chide those who would question the wisdom of your meeting based upon Carter's BIBLICAL views and in effect say we are wrong for feeling that it is indeed not only important, but a matter of biblical obedience to draw a line in the sand and say "we will not partner with those who have placed themselves in opposition to the very FUNDAMENTAL teachings of scripture.” Certainly Carter's soteriology , despite your rather poor interpretation of it, is reason enough to suspect and call into question the propriety of conservative, evangelical Christians partnering with him in Kingdoms work.

It is not his politics or yours Wade that is the issue...it is the call of scripture to be faithful to the centrality of the gospel in which men, women, boys and girls can be saved.

Jack

Wade Burleson said...

Mr. Jack,

It is the gospel which Mr. Carter and those around the table discussed. He professed his belief in Christ, the Son of God, giving His life in atonement for sinners at Calvary and he proclaimed to us all that salvation was 'by grace through faith in Christ.'

If that is not the gospel I do not know what is.

REV. CHRIS HILLIARD said...

Extremely well put Jack and with a Christlike spirit.

Wade,
Isn't there a necessity to clarify which "Jesus" and which "gospel"? I mean, Carter himself said he believes mormons are Christians. They would agree with the statements you mentioned and yet we know that they do not proclaim the true gospel but are false prophets. If he really believes that, it shows something skewed in his understanding of the truth.

Gotta go enjoy the day.

Wade Burleson said...

Chris,

God saves sinners through the work of His Son. Period.

Whether or not there is not one person in the Mormon church who has been saved by the work of Christ is something that I will not venture to say, but since you seem to have clear insight into the matter, I trust you believe the information you have received you believe is correct.

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said…
Today's the first time I’ve heard the quote of Bishop Desmond Tutu, but I tend to agree with Marty Duren that it is older than him and spoke of betrayal. I base my opinion upon a rude experience I had that relates me to a joke:

“In Colorado, what’s the difference between a dead coyote and a dead Texan in the road?”
“Skid marks in front of the coyote.”

While natives were dreaming of their land, Texans bought it.

At one time, Indians had land and white man had nothing.

Also while Arabs roamed the land, Jews came from all over the world and built houses.

Jack Maddox said...

Wade

we must all then rejoice in Carter's repentance! Certainly you would agree Mr. Wade that your interpretation of his statement is in opposition to his previous positions, not to mention a history of hostility towards the SBC and her leaders. One can only conclude then that he has had a change of heart.

My point was, and I am not sure you addressed it, you seem to imply in your post that the opposition to your meeting with him is due to his political activity. My point is that the concern comes from the premise that Carter's past statements, actions, positions and rhetoric has been anything but friendly to the SBC or Conservative evangelicals as a whole...

It is not politics Mr. Wade...It's THEOLOGY...that is what moderates have always had a hard time understanding. Wade, you have based your whole platform on what constitutes 2nd and 3rd tier doctrines…as I know you are more than abundantly aware of…soteriology a 1st tier doctrine! To try to make the point that Carter has not has some serious problems in this arena is like saying that Joel Osteen is hard on sin! (Oh no…I have done gone and done it now!) : )

But it is good to know that you are not in that camp Wade...that you and Ben and Marty are being used of God to bring President Carter back into the proper soteriological fold. (wink wink)

Blessings
Jack

Jack Maddox said...

Hey Rex

It is off topic (Sorry Wade) but my Petrolia Girls softball team beat your Ector girls a couple of weeks ago in the playoffs...were you there? We won last night and will now play in the reigonal finals!

By the way...I did not know your church was a member of the SBTC!

Jack

Wade Burleson said...

Jack,

Does one's understanding of the work of Christ on the cross save, or does the work of Christ on the cross save.

If you say the former, then how do you ever know if you have completely or fully understood?

Is there not such a thing as 'growing in grace and the knowledge thereof?'

My theology tells me that God gives understanding of His Son, for we are all by nature blind. I trust Christ and believe others when they tell me they trust Him as well. I'm uncomfortable telling them their faith does not measure up to mine or Jack Maddox's.

Wade Burleson said...

Jack, also, congratulations on your softball victory!

Jack Maddox said...

Wade

I concur, however you once again skirt the issue and I say this with the utmost of repsect. The issue is, and I am going to use caps for emphasis, THAT YOUR UNDERSATNDING OF CARTERS POSITION IS IN OPPOSITION TO WHAT HE HAS STATED IN THE PAST AND THE NOT SO DISTANT PAST AT THAT. What Carter are we dealing with here? The Carter understood by Wade Burleson, who believes that salvation can only come through Christ’s atoning work on the cross and the necessity of mans understanding and may I add appropriation of said atonement through faith and by grace? Or are we still to believe the Carter of History? Tell ya what would help, if President Carter would make an announcement that he is recanting his former inclusiveist views and that he firmly and without apology stands in the camp of the exclusivist! I won't hold my breath.

Also, will you respond to the issue that I have already mentioned twice, that you are erroneously accusing those of us who would oppose this meeting based upon theology and implying that we are in opposition because of Carter’s or your political platform or position?

and thanks...we are looking forward to Austin and another Petrolia State Championship!

Jack

Jack Maddox said...

Wade Burleson said

"Does one's understanding of the work of Christ on the cross save, or does the work of Christ on the cross save.

If you say the former, then how do you ever know if you have completely or fully understood?"

Wade, surely you are not saying here that Christ’s work on the cross by itself without the necessity of our faith by itself is salvific? As I know you are more than aware...It is by grace we are saved THROUGH FAITH...If we believe in our heart and CONFESS with our mouth...

I believe all of these are a by product of regeneration, I suspect you and I agree upon this. You ask how do I know I am saved? Because I HAVE BELIVED IN MY HEART AND CONFESSED WITH MY MOUTH, again, the by product of a heart that has been redeemed. It is not a work lest I boast but it is only by the grace of God. As Spurgeon said, salvation is ALL OF GRACE, Yet the grace of God does not lead us to believe in that which is in opposition to the revealed word of God in scripture. This is the problem with much of Carter's position of salvation.

Jack

Anonymous said...

Wade- Think further outside the box. Go to:
http://bucknerprez.typepad.com/ken_hall/2007/05/somewhere_out_t.html

Kyle A. Roberts said...

Jack,

Do you believe all infants go to Hell? What about severely mentally handicapped persons? What about persons who lived before the time of Christ?

I'm guessing you don't adequately understand the difficulties which lead some inclusivists to the positions they hold.

Even a theologian as orthodox and conservative as Jonathan Edwards noted that we're saved by justification by faith alone, not by our understanding of justification by faith alone.

Kyle A. Roberts said...

Jack,

You seem to be reversing the order. It's not "because of" our confession in Christ that we're saved, it's "because of", and "on the basis of" the saving grace of God in the work of Christ. Our faith is instrumental, not the basis. That's just basic Reformed soteriology.

Anonymous said...

kyle,

x pres. carter didnt say that some mormons might be saved. he spoke of the group as being christians. also, he didnt say that some jews might be saved, nor that jews can be saved, he said that we shouldnt be evangelizing the jews.

i guess x pres. carter's gospel is a lot different than the gospel of the bible. i'm glad that Jesus didnt think that the jews didnt need to be evangelized. i'm glad that peter, james, and john didnt believe like mr. carter in regards to the jewish people.

kyle, do you think that mr. carter would believe john 14:6?

david...volfan007

Bryan Riley said...

I just said this about another post on another blog, but I feel compelled to say it here as well.

One of hte best posts I've read in a while, and this may be your best post ever, Wade. Makes me think the book must be worth the read. Excellent.

When I read it I thought that you surely must be preaching from the following passages:

For point I: Romans 13:8 and Romans 14-15

For point II: Romans 12

For point III: 1 Corinthians 10:23-33.

Fantastic. Be bold and courageous, Joshua... and excellent response to the repetition of Rev. Chris.

Kyle A. Roberts said...

David,

I can't, nor would I ever presume to, speak for former President Carter's interpretation of select biblical passages.

I can say that some evangelical inclusivists would wholeheartedly affirm John 14:6. Just as Jesus was the "way and the truth and the life" for Old Testament saints, so he is the way, the truth and the life for all who are saved by God today, including, possibly, infants who die, mentally handicapped persons, and unevangelized people.

Keep in mind I'm not defending any form of universalism here, just stating the theological rationale for some inclusivists (who are not universalists).

Kyle A. Roberts said...

And David,

Just for fun, let me put the question Jack hasn't yet answered to you: do you believe all infants who die, all severely mentally handicapped persons, and every unevangelized person will God to Hell? If not, what is your criterion for allowing exceptions within your exclusivist/propositionalist soteriology?

Kyle A. Roberts said...

oops...should be *go to Hell*

bryan riley said...

Alan Cross, who always has something fantastic and wise to add, and Wade, if we don't have the courage and clarity to live out what you've written, are we living examples of one of the following two sons??

"What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' And he answered, 'I will not,' but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, 'I go, sir,' but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you."

Alan Knox recently posted about this very thing and it's worth the read.

Great questions, Kyle. I almost wrote the same thing.

Anonymous said...

kyle,

i believe that the bible clearly teaches that all unevangelized people go to hell forever. if a person dies outside of Jesus, then they will go to hell to pay for thier sins forever.

concerning infants and mentally handicapped people....i believe in an age of accountability. due to king david's statement about his infant son dying, and due to some other verses in the bible, i personally believe this. but, it's not something that is clearly taught in the bible. thus, it's just my personal opinion...which i value highly, btw.

also, may i ask you what difference there is between an inclusivist and a universalist? they seem like the same kind of dog to me.

david....volfan007

Anonymous said...

let me clarify what i said about infants and the mentally handicapped. i re read what i wrote and realized it may not be understood. i believe that infants go to heaven since they have not reached the age of accountability...whatever that age is....i believe that it's different for different children. and, of course, many mentally handicapped never reach the age of accountability. thus, i believe that a loving God will take them to heaven.

again, this is not clearly taught in the bible...so, it's my personal conviction based on the bible.


but, kyle, the bible is very clear concerning people who die without Jesus...the Jesus of the bible...that they will go to hell. God will send them there forever.


david.....volfan007

Bryan Riley said...

Wouldn't it be incredible if your belief, David, would stir up more to go to "unevangelized" parts of the world or even just to tell more people in their environment and ethnos about how Jesus has changed their lives.

Big Daddy Weave said...

If Jimmy Carter was not involved with the upcoming Celebration - would any of you support the NBC's efforts and consider attending?

Jimmy Carter is but one person. The Celebration hopes to attract 20,000 people. The pastors that have been lined up to preach are pretty conservative. Heck, I'm just excited about the preaching - Charles Adams and Joel Gregory are two of my favorites!

Is it even possible for some here to move past this Jimmy Carter-inclusivist hoorah and discuss the merits of the Celebration? Go ahead, give Jimmy a kick or two and move on. Because the Celebration is much much bigger than Jimmy Carter.

Kyle A. Roberts said...

David,

Very interesting, thanks for your engagement on this.

So you allow for exceptions, based on "personal convictions based on the Bible," but not on "clear" teachings of the Bible. Join the club. That's all I'm driving toward. The bottom line is (many) even exclusivists allow for exceptions, because the Bible doesn't give us a systematic theology that answers all those issues.

The difference between inclusivists and universalists is simply that (many) inclusivists do not believe everyone will be saved. They do believe, however, that everyone has access to the saving work of Christ, in one way or another (inclusivists differ on what this access looks like--propositional information, "Christic mystery," Holy Spirit illumination, etc.). Persons are saved only because of Christ's atoning work, through their faith in Him. Not everyone comes to faith in Christ, however, because some reject the revelation they have received concerning him.

martyduren said...

BDW-
The answer to your question is "no" for several reasons:
1. We didn't organize it.
2. There are democrats involved. Make it pro-abortion Republicans and we'd be all over it.
3. There are theological moderates and liberals involved.
4. Bill Clinton and Bill Moyers

Jack Maddox said...

Kyle

Sorry I have not responded...i walked away from the computer for a moment to actually live life : )

As per your first post, you bring out questions that have been debated, discussed, and generally disagreed upon for centuries. I will answer your questions but first let me say that what you raise is a red herring in context to this post and thread. Carter's statements have not been about infants, Old Testament saints and the mentally infirmed...they have been much broader and strike at the very core of the exclusivity of Jesus Christ in Salvation. Either Jesus is the only was or He is one of many ways...what say you President Carter? I believe he has already alluded to his position. Wade says otherwise...fair enough. I am really not that concerned with what motivates inclusivist or universalists...not preterists or modelists...I am to consumed with the clarity of the gospel and the urgency placed upon our rightly dividing the word of truth and as dying men presenting it to a dying world. I believe that our message must be clear and concise...thus this is what bothers and concerns me with the whole "Unity in the midst of diversity" mantra. The questions and even the second post that by the way, I agree with you and stand corrected, lend themselves to the discussion of reformed theology. This is not that discussion at hand in this thread.

As far as Baby's, Old Testament Saints and the mentally infirmed. My understanding of the sovereignty of God causes me to take David’s answer as somewhat simplistic but it is the best one that I have. I guess if the baby or the mentally challenged knows enough to reject the gospel as they understand it then we have a problem. It is a worthy question and most of us should be honest enough to admit we struggle with it, however, once again...it is not the issue. We are discussing Wade's new found theological alliance with President Carter and it’s ramifications on the direction he has for the SBC.

Anonymous said...

Well, here's my other kick on Mr. Carter. He saw a reporter and ouldn't help but grab a headline:

"I think that the almost undeviating support by Great Britain for the ill-advised policies of President Bush in Iraq have been a major tragedy for the world."

Not, "haven't worked out," or, "didn't go as well as in WWII," but "major tragedy for the world."

Also, please note, when our country does something, Carter is so partisan that he has to say it's just Bush doing it. Mr. Carter, are you still invested in OUR country any more, or are you - what, a Saudi now?

Lord, work Your will on all of us, that we may have Your peace.

Steve Austin
Hoptown, Ky.

Colin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dwm III said...

To all,

Can one be saved without believing that Christ is God?

dwmiii

dwm III said...

BTW, John Owen has a great work on Christology.

texasinafrica said...

Wade, I really appreciate what you said here (and that you included your sisters in Christ as well!). But I do have a question about this part:

"When evangelical conservative Christians seek to make friends of liberal non-evangelical Christians, liberalism is destroyed. It is the goodness of God that leads to repentance, and it is the goodness of conservatives that leads non-conservatives to a greater appreciation for, and ultimate conversion to, a more conservative view of their world and their faith. Animosity, anger, bitterness and hate only turn people away from the fulness of the gospel, but love, grace, meekness and patience lead people to it."

Of course you think you're right about being conservative theologically and politically, just as I think I'm right about being more moderate on these issues.

But how is it possible for us to have a mutually respectful dialogue when we know up front that you think we are 1) wrong, 2) sinful, and 3) in need of repentance from our convictions? I think you're wrong about many things, but that doesn't mean I believe you need to repent simply because I disagree with you on some point of doctrine or politics.

Is it possible that the conservative world view doesn't have a lock on God's truth? I want desparately for there to be reconciliation among Baptists and among all the different kinds of Christians, but I don't want to be the object of an outreach effort to convince me of my so-called wrong views because that's not a true reconciliation.

Again, I really appreciate this post and what you said. And I'm not trying to be contentious. We need each other. Moderates and liberals need the right's passionate focus on evangelism and a call to 2,000 years of orthodox tradition. Conservatives need the left's reminders of God's call to pursue justice for the needy and to remember that we do not know all there is to know about the mind of God.

We need each other. But I don't think this means we have to convince one another to all believe all the same things.

Wade Burleson said...

texasinafrica,

I understand what you are saying and am not asking you to change.

bryan riley said...

I do not believe everyone will be saved. I do believe God desires that all would be, but that He loves us so much that He allows us not to choose to love Him, thus resulting in an eternal separation from Him. I also believe that Christ is the only way to the Father, but I have to wonder if what we have defined as the way Christ accomplishes that salvation for every individual isn't askew. That perhaps may be what Kyle is getting at. I know it is askew when we define it as believe this set of propositions, which, unfortunately, seems to be a predominant view.

Charles R. said...

Pharisees fought for propositions...Jesus died for people.

R. L. Vaughn said...

David asked "what difference there is between an inclusivist and a universalist?"

Probably all universalists would be considered inclusivists, but an inclusivist doesn't have to be a universalist. A universalist believes that every member of the human race will ultimately be saved. An inclusivist believes that there will be people saved apart from Jesus Christ, but not necessarily every member of the human race. Actually many inclusivists would not agree to "apart from Jesus Christ", but would probably rather argue that His work can be appropriated some other way than by faith responding to the preached gospel.

Big Daddy Weave asked, "If Jimmy Carter was not involved with the upcoming Celebration - would any of you support the NBC's efforts and consider attending?"

No, I would not. On the home page of the NewBaptCov (to me NBC symbolizes National Baptist Convention, so I'm distinguishing it) the stated goal is "to have a major demonstration of harmony, etc." I have my doubts about the true harmony of the participants in the celebration. Regardless, my presence would imply a harmony that does not exist between myself and some represented organizations (though I might very well find harmony with some individuals and churches within those organizations).

davidinflorida said...

1 Tim 2: 1-4

Therefore, I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.

Jimmy Carter`s response; " this administration has been the worst in history"

Jack Maddox said...

David in Fla

It is ironic that during this thread we see Pres Carter break every rule of Presidential ediquite in blasting the current P Bush. Interesting...but I gues not relevent to this conversation. But I do agree with your premise David.

Jack

Jack Maddox said...

charles r

That is kind of catchy...but what pray tell does it mean?

Jack

Shamgar said...

I'm greatly concerned by what I see here in this post, and in these comments. I can agree with a sizable portion of it - but there are points that concern me.

For example I can agree with the political aspect. I understand why some people are concerned about that but I think they might not be reading it carefully/charitably.

I frequently bite my tongue in the presence of some people on non-essential political type issues. Generally after we've hashed it out enough that I know they've actually thought through their views - and vice versa. Or when I know they're not capable of having a discussion about such easily heatable issues in a reasonable fashion. If there's not going to be any light generated there's no point. (I'm not perfect on this point btw - but it's a goal. :-)

I don't know much about the carter situation, so I am not going to go into that much. But later on in the post you say something that does concern me:
Christ has a way of changing the perceptions of His people, and He does not need me to do it for Him.

Yes he does - and it is quite frequently by the use of his people as vessels. Are you not basically refusing to be used of God for this purpose?

This comes out further here:
When I am around my brothers in Christ I will pray with them, support them, encourage them, partner with them, and praise them -- but I will not seek to make them like me politically, culturally, philosophically or even theologically.

Really? Later on you talk about growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ, as we all must do. None of us has perfect theology. But what if Paul had taken this view in regard to how Peter behaved towards Gentile believers?

What if Pastors all suddenly decided it was not their place to try to make their people like them theologically? Is this not essentially what preaching is? An exposition of the truth of scripture and a call and charge to believe it?

What about Sunday School teachers? What point do they serve? And how exactly do people grow in grace and knowledge if there is no-one to mentor or shepherd them?

I know this is not the end you're calling for. I don't know you personally but I've read enough of what you've written to know that isn't you at all. But is it not the end result of a consistent living out of the principles you're espousing?

And as others have asked, how far do you take this? Do you include baptists who deny the godhood of God? (like open theists) Do you include non-trinitarian baptists? What about Phelp's church? They claim to be baptist. Do you include them? As others have asked, when is it acceptable to draw a line based on behavior and the words spoken beyond the surface claims of Christ?

You also said in a comment:

Whether or not there is not one person in the Mormon church who has been saved by the work of Christ is something that I will not venture to say, but since you seem to have clear insight into the matter, I trust you believe the information you have received you believe is correct.


Someone else has pointed out that Carter's claim is that *all* Mormon's are saved - presumably on the basis of their beliefs. I have not verified this fact myself but I don't think he was lying on this point.

Given what Mormon's believe reveals that they worship and serve a different god, a different jesus, than we do - would you then say that you would have no objection to calling them a brother in Christ and praying and ministering along side them? If that is the case, would you then hold the same view towards Roman Catholics? Lastly, if you don't hold to this, how would these things you have said apply to people who do hold to this, as it has been suggested Carter does. Do you believe it's possible to believe the gospel and hold to it, and at the same time betray it? At the same time hold to a gospel that is exclusive and falsely proclaim security to the lost rather than call them to repentance and faith?

I agree with you that some people can be inclined to divide over silly things - but all to often they fail to divide over important things - things critical and definitional to the gospel.

I would like to think that the current events of our day are just making us more sensitive to this issue (Beckwith/etc) but I would very much like to be reassured that this is not the direction you're heading in.

jack said...

I am a member of a Southern Baptist Church and a registered G.O.P. voter.

-Still, I find it sad that some among us appear to worship both the cross and the elephant.

I am a Christian first, a Baptist second, and a Republican much further down my list of life's priorities.

When I think of Jimmy Carter the President - I see failure.

When I think of Jimmy Carter the Christian - I see redemption.

Here is a man who has faithfully attended a local Baptist Church; teaches a Sunday School class to all who wish to attend; has built homes for the poor; and yes, stands for political solutions with which I do not agree.

I feel sorry for those of you who wish to cast the first stone because you see him as a liberal, democrat -- etc.

I encourage you to look beyond that and see the fellow Christian... just as I would encourage you to look beyond our theological differences with Catholics to see what a great sister in Christ Mother Teresa was.

I would also encourage you to not pre-judge our Mormon brothers and sisters. Most of those I have met desire to know and follow Christ and are extremely strong in their faith. I have not hesitated to tell them that I can not follow their latter day testament -- but if they wish to worship Christ with me as revealed in Old & New Testaments they are welcome. -Many will.

My prayer is that this meeting of reconciliation in Atlanta will be just that... and that God will open the eyes and ears and hearts of those who are closed to this opportunity to heal the division within the SBC and turn it away from Man and Politics and back to God and proclaiming his Word.

Anonymous said...

Wade, I don't think you should apologize for meeting with Carter. I might have done it myself. Your mistake has been the words and tone of your blogging after the meeting. I am sure that Carter is very pleased with his coverage on your blog. I have read your blog for more than a year, with pleasure. This junk about Jimmy Carter really takes away the pleasure for me now.

Shamgar said...

Kyle, you asked a couple of people:
Do you believe all infants go to Hell? What about severely mentally handicapped persons? What about persons who lived before the time of Christ?

Given their answers I thought I would chime in voluntarily with mine - given that they both hold to a concept which is not biblically sound (as they have admitted) which you have then used as a means of justifying further ambiguity on the part of inclusivists.

I believe that possibly some babies and mentally incapacitated people are possibly saved. I make that allowance because I am not God, and to make anything stronger would be to go beyond the Scriptures.

However, they clearly teach that Faith comes by hearing. The bible teaches that apart from God's revelation we are lost. Natural revelation is insufficient to save. Hence, no, I do not believe those who are not reached enter heaven's gates. God knows those who are his, and he, as an omnipotent sovereign God is fully capable of ensuring that those who are his come to him in repentance and faith.

The same goes for infants and those who are mentally incapacitated. I have no reason to believe that God's plan of salvation for an individual can be thwarted by a doctor with a knife or any of the numerous means by which people end up mentally handicapped. I simply cannot believe that abortion is one of the best ways to ensure your Children enter heaven's gates.

All of us, infants, mentally disabled, and unreached adults, are sinful from the day of our conception. We are born at enmity with God, and deserving of God's wrath and eternal punishment. That child may look cute and innocent, but he holds within an eternal soul that shakes its fist at God until the day God by his grace makes it new.


That said, I also know that salvation is entirely by Grace, and God is God, and his ways are higher than my ways. So I must not be dogmatic about something not directly addressed in his word. I certainly don't divide with my brother's and sisters over this belief - even over a belief in the age of accountability - but I do challenge them to consider its implications and its lack of scriptural basis.

I'm guessing you don't adequately understand the difficulties which lead some inclusivists to the positions they hold.

I understand them, I just think they're only difficulties because we have a human consideration of what "fair" is, instead of real biblical considerations of concepts like justice, wrath, and mercy.

We have a tendency to believe we are all deserving of God's grace, and therefore if God gives it to me, then he has to give it to everyone. Instead, none of us deserve it, but rather deserve wrath, and some of us get grace and mercy instead.

Shamgar said...

I encourage you to look beyond that and see the fellow Christian... just as I would encourage you to look beyond our theological differences with Catholics to see what a great sister in Christ Mother Teresa was.

This is the whole problem. On what basis do you call her a Sister in Christ given her own testimony of what she believed? This goes to the very core of what the gospel is.

I would also encourage you to not pre-judge our Mormon brothers and sisters. Most of those I have met desire to know and follow Christ and are extremely strong in their faith. I have not hesitated to tell them that I can not follow their latter day testament -- but if they wish to worship Christ with me as revealed in Old & New Testaments they are welcome. -Many will.

Oh really? Or are they simply patronizing you and putting aside differences to pray with you, all the while continuing in their unbelief? How are you calling them to salvation in Christ by this action? If you truly love them, is this not what you should be doing?

Why should we not prejudge them to be faithful to the religion they profess? Why should we not assume they believe what they proclaim to believe? Why is it implied that doing so is wrong?

When I tell people I am a reformed baptist, I expect that to have a meaning. I expect that person to assume that means certain things about me. Now, maybe all of them won't be accurate, but I certainly wouldn't expect them to assume that I worship buddah when I say it.

jack said...

I base my opinion of Mother Teresa by her words and her deeds. She is one of the most Christlike people of my lifetime.

I have discussed Baptist theology with Mormon friends and co-workers. We have talked openly about our differences as well as our like beliefs.

I have not converted to Mormonism; they have not joined the SBC. I will continue to discuss the bible with them in friendship and fellowship.

I will continue to be a friendly witness and pray that the Holy Spirit leads them in the right direction. God will judge us later; it is not my place to do that now.

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said…
Jack,
You said, “I will continue to discuss the Bible with them in friendship and fellowship.” From my experience, you are wasting your time.

On my blog, I carried on a conversation with a Mormon named Scott. There were 40 long comments made. We could not agree on Ezekiel 37:16 “Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions.”

Scott said, “The stick of Judah is the Bible and the stick of Joseph is the Book of Mormon.”

After much debate, I told him if he would not change his mind, I was talking to a fool and would no longer engage him in conversation. I reminded him of Paul’s words: (Galatians 1:8-9) “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other that what we have preached to you, a curse be on him!”
The Christians that were taught by Paul did not have the Book of Mormon or the teachings of Joseph Smith. Therefore, Scott, so that you understand this real plain, I put a curse on the Book of Mormon and missionaries teaching Joseph Smith.

His reply was: “Sorry Rex Ray, but you are one of the unbelievers who refuses to listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost which will lead someone to the truth. Down in flames..... you gooooooooooo.”

Michael said...

I think that many people are afraid (oops, sorry I meant "decided not" ) to go not because of political or theological disagreements but because of the fear that you will be associated with the people that go to that conference by the people that don't go to the conference.

similar to a taunt "you went to that conference you must believe what the organizers believe"

were I pastor I would explain carefully to my congregation exactly why I was going and then go.

do remember the we do have the holy spirit with us so don't be too worried about being infected by faulty gospel and I would encourage trying to infect them with true gospel.

Volfan007 and others,
you sound as if you don't have any friends that have different theological or political views, is this true? or any unbelievers who are friends, what do you say?
Michael

Charles R. said...

Jack Maddox,
When propositional thinking is elevated above relational thinking, the only result that can be expected is what we are witnessing today. After all, did not Jesus Christ come in obedience to His Father's will that we be shown that His law was always about relationship, not proposition?

Anonymous said...

Michael -
I say you are wrong, WAY wrong, that's what I say.

Shamgar said...

Jack,

I base my opinion of Mother Teresa by her words and her deeds. She is one of the most Christlike people of my lifetime.

She may have good works, but good works is not the basis of our salvation. She has publicly demonstrated her commitment to the false church of Rome. As a faithful catholic, she was lost and desperately in need of a faithful witness. Yet her prominence probably precluded most close enough to her from having the courage to stand on truth.

I have not converted to Mormonism; they have not joined the SBC. I will continue to discuss the bible with them in friendship and fellowship.

I'm not sure how to take this line of comment. I have in no way suggested that we avoid associating with those who do not share our beliefs in any way. All I have advocated is that we not grant to them a position in regards to faith and salvation that the bible itself does not grant. That we put the same importance on truth - particularly gospel truth - that God does.

I have friends of various faiths - and supposed non-faiths like atheism and agnosticism. Yet they all know my position, we talk about them openly, and they understand why I make that effort and that I consider what they believe to be a false gospel and why. I don't approve of it and they are aware and yet somehow we manage work together (as co-workers).

God will judge us later; it is not my place to do that now.

This is a cop out. Unless you would say that Paul was wrong - repeatedly - in his efforts to judge and rebuke those who taught a false gospel.

Shamgar said...

Charles r,
When propositional thinking is elevated above relational thinking, the only result that can be expected is what we are witnessing today. After all, did not Jesus Christ come in obedience to His Father's will that we be shown that His law was always about relationship, not proposition?

Are you saying Jesus didn't care about propositional truth?

Anonymous said...

3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

11"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

--

Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

11"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

--

Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

Anonymous said...

Newt Grinrich spoke the other day at Liberty University and is quoted as saying that " . . . the radical secularists insist that religious belief is inherently divisive . . . "

One does not have to be a radical secularist to understand how divisive the message of Jesus Christ can seem to non-christians and even to professing christians. Just look at the comments in this blog, along with all the refined arguments over how many angels can dance on the head of a SBC pin.

egibbon

Charles R. said...

What I'm saying, Shamgar, is that Jesus regularly elevated a relational imperative over a propositional mandate. The gospels are filled with examples, the one anonymous posted above being just one. Healing on the sabbath is just one other.

Bryan Riley said...

Wow, how off post are we???

I would say that to the extent Jesus taught propositional truths they were of this nature...

Follow me.

Love God.

Love your neighbor.

Don't worry about what you will eat or about your clothing.

Forgive.

Don't lay up treasures on earth.

Judge not.

You will know them by their fruits (not by their statements or actions).

Mary chose the most excellent way, the way of sitting at His feet and worshiping, a relational reality.

Preach The Kingdom of Heaven.

Take up your cross.

Surrender and submit to the Father.

Robert I Masters said...

Everyone,
Here is some music for all the "good people" at the NBC.
A link from my friend Ted Dekker.
http://www.midiboy.com/home.html.

From the Southern Baptist Geneva
Rob Masters

martyduren said...

Rob-
I had forgotten that your families were there together. What is the age difference between you and Ted?

Shamgar said...

Charles, I fail to see how what he did in either of those incidents elevated relationships over propositional truth.

Bryan, that's really all the propositional truth you can think of?

John 6:44 - 44 "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws R361 him; and I will raise R362 him up on the last day.

John 8:24 "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."

John 8:44-45: You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. "But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me.

John 10:26-27: But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;

John 12:48: He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.


Then of course you have all of the rest of the new testament beyond the four gospels which quite clearly testify to the importance of propositional truth - unless you are saying that Paul/Peter/etc got it all wrong and we should just discard those books.

Debbie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Debbie said...

Shagmar: Charles has some good points. I hear what you are saying, but put that with what Charles has adequately said.

Belief Matters said...

Bryan, How about be Holy for a propositional truth.

IMHO. You cannot elevate Truth over relationships, or relationships over Truth. To do either is destory the foundation of the Gospel

Belief Matters said...

Charles R, just because the Pharisees did something doesn't mean it was all together wrong.

Jesus died for all who will believe in Him. In that statement is proposition and relation. Don't separate the two, they aren't enemies, but friends that show the depth and beauty of the Gospel.

Robert I Masters said...

Marty,
I am one year behind him!

In Christ
Rob Masters

Bryan Riley said...

I never said I was including all of them. I just included many that it seems are overlooked. And I didn't even say:

Give to any who ask

When asked for a tunic, give your cloak also.

Heal the sick.

And, yes, I would definitely include be holy, hearing God's voice, and all the other cited examples. To carry well the Kingdom of God. To be so identified with Jesus that there is no part of our lives that demonstrates the lie that there is a separation between secular and sacred.

I think if what we believe to be Truth causes separation within the family, we need to go to the Father together and seek more of Him, which is relational as to Him and then as He reveals more of Himself, prayerfully it will also be relationship building and truth revealing. Many things about God definitely are binary truths, and you are right to say that as to binary truths you cannot have one without the other, but God made the one who had no sin be sin for us, in spite of the Truth, so that He could restore a relationship with us. I'm not sure, but in that moment, he may have well put relationship over truth. All in the name of love.

1 Corinthians 13 comes to mind...

bryan riley said...

Shamgar, I just read your last paragraph. Why are you putting words in my mouth? I never once commented as to the validity of the NT. Is that your way of building unity or encouraging a brother in Christ?

OC Hands said...

I have been mulling over the comments regarding Baptist "unity" and the reasons some give for not joining together with other Baptists. While I can understand their reluctance, to some extent, I can't get away from the words of Jesus, which are found in the passage below:

John 17: 20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

As our pastor read this passage, I began to think "Given this prayer by Jesus himself, whom would I want to exclude from a fellowship with Him, and how would I justify it?" It is easy to say about certain folks "Since they don't believe the same things I do, they aren't true believers, so I don't have to be "one" with them." So, who would you exclude from a fellowship that included you and Jesus? And how would you justify it to Jesus, not to me?

jack said...

Agreed.

And how will some of our leaders explain why some did not come to Christ because committed missionaries and church planters like Jason Epps were removed or denied entry to the field because someone did not like how they prayed in private?

RKSOKC66 said...

Texas in Africa: (and others)

I believe you have hit on a core issue. Namely, what is the basis for so much angst between "moderates" and "conservatives"? I don't know the answer to this but as a "conservative" I think the issue must be complex.

Probably it partly is due to historical circumstance according to whatever church a person happened to grow up in and the stance of the leadership of that church. It also may be partly due to some "mean spirited political maneuvering" by one camp or the other that alienated a person from one or the other side. Partly it is probably due to a failure to really understand the position of the other side.

For me it is a mixture of these.

Do I have historical baggage? Of course.

However, I also don't think I could align with a church that denies that the Bible is "inerrant". For me, the Bible is the base method of knowing God. It trumps stuff I might glean from God due to experience or any other way. It does not logically flow to me that people would preach from the Bible, have Sunday School lessons from the Bible, etc and still hold that the Bible has errors.

How would people not holding to inerrancy know where the errors were? How would they know, for example, which of the four Gospels was fabricated. How would they know if entire books of the NT or OT and/or chapters of some books were bogus?

Do non-inerrantists have some type of "special reverence" for the Bible even though it is laced with errors? How exactly, do they differentiate between the Bible and say the Wall St. Journal in terms of its accuracy?

As I understand it the "moderate" position is that the Bible is "authoritative" but not "accurate". I don't see how a document can have any authority if it contains errors.

I simply hold that the entire Bible is true. I simply hold that all the various textual variants of the NT are the "same". For me, whatever differences there are between variant readings of a passage does not distract from the fact that the corpus of the Bible is still "true" and "correct".

Do we have the original autographs? No. Are there differences between English language translations? Yes. Are there differences between Greek texts of the NT? Yes.

If "moderates" would hold to inerrancy I would already be a "moderate". However, I just can't get over my hangup to hold that the Bible is actually true.

I think all Christians should cooperate. I admit, however, they are some who use the term "Christian" that don't even hold to the basic tenets of Christianity.

I don't claim to have a corner of truth. All I know is that God sent his son to save me as a sinner.

I guess I admit I'm a conservative out of desperation. I couldn't subscribe to a religion that is based upon a book that was bogus so I just join up with a group that holds that the Bible is actually true.

Even less tenable to me than my conservative position of "inerrancy" would be a position where it is acknowledged up front that the Bible has errors.

I have a question for you "moderates". Are conservatives, like me, just using "innerracy" as a crutch to disguise our total naiviete of the complexities of the development of the cannon of scripture? Can a person actually use the Bible with integrity even if he holds that it is laced with errors?

Roger Simpson Oklahoma City OK

Belief Matters said...

Bryan, My brother in Christ I blv you still misunderstand my position. Truth is not either/or. You cannot divorce truth into separate beings. To overemphasie relationship IMHO leads to liberalism, and to emp proposition you have legalism.

Shamgar said...

Bryan,

(I originally said)
Then of course you have all of the rest of the new testament beyond the four gospels which quite clearly testify to the importance of propositional truth - unless you are saying that Paul/Peter/etc got it all wrong and we should just discard those books.

You replied thusly:
Shamgar, I just read your last paragraph. Why are you putting words in my mouth? I never once commented as to the validity of the NT. Is that your way of building unity or encouraging a brother in Christ?

Forgive me. It was not my intent to put words in your mouth. In the context of the thread I read what you were writing as supporting the current elevation of relational over propositional truth - particularly given some of your choices. In retrospect that was not a fair or charitable reading and I am sorry.

Understand tho, that even if it were accurate it was not my attempt to put words in your mouth - but merely to ask the question. All too often I have seen people attempt to focus on the words of Christ as if somehow they say something contradictory to the words of later writers (like paul) followed by an attempt to discredit them and their work.

Again, it was not fair of me to lump you in when you had said too little on the topic to make that conclusion, and I am sorry.

Stephen Pruett said...

If Mr. Carter really unequivocally stated and still really believes that Mormons as a general rule are saved, then it is possible that he has a view of the gospel that I would not be comfortable joining with him to share. Can anyone remind me of the location of an exact quote on this matter from Mr. Carter?

However, reading the quote with regard to whether salvation is avaialable to everyone, I think he may have simply meant that He was willing to trust the matter to God and His grace, not that he is a universalist.

He may be reacting to counteract an attitude and types of statements that I believe have turned many away from the gospel. Emphasis on the certain damnation of those who have not heard the gospel has turned away many potential converts. I think they believe that if their own sense of fairness is more developed than God's then they can't see how God can help them be better (I know the counterarguments for this, I am just pointing out their perspective). Biblically, it is clear that Christ is the only way and the ideal way to appropriate His gift is to repent, confess, and accept it. However, Old Testament figures such as many of those in the roll call of the faithful, obviously did not approrpriate salvation in this way. What would be different about God counting as righteousness the faith of current people who have not heard the gospel?

I am not a strong advocate that this is a correct interpretation, but it suggests to me that there is room for some uncertainty, not about the basis of salvation and its source, but about its appropriation. Reformed and non-reformed believers disagree about one aspect of this, whether faith is a free choice, and a choice which is necessary to appropriate salvation, or whether faith is an irresistable gift that appropriates salvation.

Thus, when Mr. Carter says that he is content to leave it to God's grace, perhaps he is simply acknowledging this uncertainty and that no one knows another's heart or whether another is saved.

I would suggest that in practice allowing for this uncertainty, which is based on a biblical precedent, would not lead to proclamation of a different gospel. To explain how to be saved somone who is uncertain as to the fate of those who have never heard the gospel would preach exactly the same gospel as would the person who was convinced they were headed inevitably to hell. Thus, I could cooperate with such people without hesitation. They would not proclaim, "don't worry, God will find a way to save you". They would proclaim, "repent, believe, and confess Christ as Savior and Lord", but if you don't ever get that opportunity, I trust God to be true to his statement that he is not willing that any should perish and true to his omnipotent nature by finding a way to give an opportunity.

Acknowledging some degree of uncertainty as to how God permits people to appropriate His gift under various unusual circumstances seems to me more consistent biblically (vis a vis salvation in OT times) and expresses a humility before God and a humility with regard to our own understanding and knowledge that I find much more appealing and biblically supportable than the adamant declaration of inevitable damnation that some seem to enjoy proclaiming. (Wow, that was a long sentence, sorry)

Shamgar said...

oc hands,

I agree that unity is what Christ prayed for, and I think it is what we can and do have - but that it has to be based on truth. Both Christ and his apostles quite clearly saw essential truths to be something to divide over - and the issue of what the gospel is would definitely be one of those things.

Our unity must be based on truth, not on a willingness to overlook error or it is only a false unity.

Shamgar said...

Stephen said:
However, Old Testament figures such as many of those in the roll call of the faithful, obviously did not approrpriate salvation in this way. What would be different about God counting as righteousness the faith of current people who have not heard the gospel?

What was their faith in? Their faith was in a coming savior, and in God's promise. Their faith is the same as ours, it was just in something they had not seen. If you want to compare it, compare it to all the people who lived in pagan countries in the old testament. I think you'll find that best-effort didn't cut it then either.

if you don't ever get that opportunity, I trust God to be true to his statement that he is not willing that any should perish and true to his omnipotent nature by finding a way to give an opportunity.

Who is peter writing to:
2 Pet 1:1 - To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours

Who is the you in 2Pet 3:9? Those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours.

What is the context? Some unbelievers are mocking the believers and their belief in Christ's return. It's not salvation. Does he make the group exclusive that he is addressing? Yes. Note verse 5:

For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water,

Who is the they? The unbelievers. Those doing the mocking. So now we have two groups. And then in verse 9, he explains why Christ's coming is delayed:

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

So then, this is not a verse to comfort unbelievers. It is a verse to comfort believers.

Baptist Theologue said...

Stephen, you asked,

“Can anyone remind me of the location of an exact quote on this matter from Mr. Carter?”

Check out the two quotes below.

(1) “Do you think a Mormon is a Christian? Yes, I do. I have a cousin who is a Mormon and she married one of the Marriott family. I don’t know anyone who’s more devout in their faith than she and her family. I admire them very much.”

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17723147/site/newsweek/page/2/

(2) Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Saturday, November 15, 1997
ARE MORMONS CHRISTIAN? CERTAINLY, CARTER SAYS
By Carrie A. Moore, religion editor

Jimmy Carter calls things as he sees them. And he just made a call
that leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention won't like.
Arguably the highest profile member of the Southern Baptist faith,
the nation's 39th president told reporters this week that SBC leaders
are wrong in characterizing Mormons as non-Christians.
"Too many leaders now, I think, in the Southern Baptist Convention
and in other conventions, are trying to act as the Pharisees did, who
were condemned by Christ, in trying to define who can and who cannot be
considered an acceptable person in the eyes of God. In other words,
they're making judgments on behalf of God. I think that's wrong."
Carter said his personal philosophy includes a nonjudgmental,
reconciling type of spirituality with which he acknowledged many people
--including leaders of his Southern Baptist faith -- disagree.
When questioned by the Deseret News about the SBC's characterization
of Mormons as non-Christians, Carter said his church's leadership has
become "narrow in their definition of what is a proper Christian or
certainly even a proper Baptist."
"They believe that every verse in the Bible has to be interpreted
literally. They are inerrantists, (meaning) there cannot possibly be
any error in even a translation of a Bible down through the centuries."
While Mormons believe in the Bible, they do so only "as far as it is
translated correctly." Latter-day Saints also revere three other books
-- the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants, and the Pearl of Great
Price -- as scripture. These, among other points of LDS doctrine, have
been grounds for Southern Baptist leadership to characterize members of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as non-Christian.
Consequently, SBC leaders are preparing their members to proselyte
Mormons in Salt Lake City next summer [1998] when they bring the annual
Southern Baptist convention here.

http://www.panix.com/~bord/Carter_on_SBC.txt

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said…
Roger Simpson,
I’ve been labeled a bad word—moderate/liberal because I believe the Bible with my whole heart in a ‘different’ way than you. Here is my view in part:

1. It’s impossible for God to tell a lie.
2. It’s impossible for God to ‘breath’ a lie.
3. It’s impossible for God to ‘inspire’ a lie.
4. Lies of the devil are in the Bible.
5. Lies of men are in the Bible.
6. Ignorance of men is in the Bible.
7. Stupidity of men is in the Bible.
8. Just because words are truly told in the Bible, does not mean all words are breathed or inspired from the mouth of God.
9. As grain and shaft are separated by wind, truth and untruth of the Bible must be separated by the Holy Spirit

The SBC chose the “Strict Interpretation” from 8 definitions that 300 scholars made in The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. The “Strict Interpretation” has 12 qualifications that may be accepted and still be called an ‘Inerrantists.’ The first qualification says ‘inerrancy’ only applies to the original manuscripts.
The last page reads:

Exposition
“The truthfulness of Scripture is not negated by…reports of false statements (for example, the lies of Satan), or seeming discrepancies between one passage and another. Where for the present no convincing solution is at hand we shall significantly honor God by trusting His assurance that His Word is true, despite these appearances, and by maintaining our confidence that one day they will be seen to have been ILLUSIONS.”


Must inerrantists see illusions, and believe those that can’t are second class Christians that don’t believe the Bible?
Hey! That’s like the king having a perfect suit until someone said he was naked!


1. How did Christians spread the gospel for almost 2000 years without the word ‘inerrancy’?
2. How much time has been spent on squabbling over what the word means?
3. With 8 definitions of inerrancy and 12 qualifications for the one that SBC preferred, how can people be so narrow minded in denouncing (won’t let others have leadership positions in the SBC or be missionaries) those who picked one of the other definitions?
4. Since ‘inerrancy’ is NOT mentioned in the BFM, it must be a third tier item, but some use it as a ‘password’ to join the ‘in crowd’.
5. Inerrancy has become a controversy almost as much as baptizing babies for salvation.
6. The word has split conventions: The president of the new SBTC, Miles Seaborn who later was put on the Board of SWBTS, stated, “Every one of us is a warrior to preserve God’s INNERANT Word and he would not give another nickel of his tithe to anywhere he thought was UNGODLY.” Their executive director, Jim Richards said, “Theological agreement will be the first foundation of the new convention. Those who depart theologically will be identified and called to repent. To the foes of SBTC, we say we’ve not in competition with you, but we’ve been called to contrast you.”
7. It has become like a second god to some—one man yelled at a SBC, “We have OUR INERRANCY and no one is going to take it from us!”
8. For the above reasons, I pray the word ‘inerrancy’ will go back to where it came from—the SMILING lips of the devil.

In summery, inerrancy is a recipe that ‘conservatives’ have for believing the Bible. Moderates have their receipt and both produce the same Gospel, the same major and minor beliefs.

Why argue which recipe has to be accepted when they produce the same ‘cake’? (Quote from Bob Cleveland)

Bryan Riley said...

Baptist Theologue, I'm not into debating what Jimmy Carter believes, but that second article is from a mormon paper and if you read it carefully, most of it has nothing to do with what Carter has said at all. It is simply trying to give a mormon spin to a difficult question and answer.

Stephen Carter, you consistently write honestly and with integrity. Thank you.

Shamgar, thank you for your apology. I believe that it is such leaps of assumption and conclusion that create a lot of anger and bitterness among brothers and sisters, and they come from people who could be described as conservative and people who could be described as liberal. I hope we can all learn to lay such down and be more receiving of one another. You did just that! Thank you! I accept your apology and forgive you.

As to the OT, I agree that people had faith in God's promise and a coming savior... but how did this work for Job, as just one example...? And, as people answer, whether in their hearts or here on the blog, we all need to remember that Jesus was slain before the foundation of this world. God is timeless and outside of time.

Bryan Riley said...

Belief Matters, I think I understand your position well, actually, but I also know my limitations. I can't read people's minds or hearts. I think my position is that the greatest Truth is relationship and I'm glad God made it that way.

Why? Because of my finite mind. God made the greatest Truth relationship so that even a child or someone of a low IQ can enter in. You see, if mental propositions of factual/theological knowledge (something that really seems to be of the flesh) are just as important as relationship, then by definition the smartest, most analytical, deepest thinkers will be the best Christians. The person who can memorize the most scripture, spout the best answers to every question, etc. will be the greatest under that theory of following Jesus. The problem with that is that it isn't biblical at all, which then makes me reexamine propositional truth. I think the greatest truth of all is that God has done everything to restore man to Himself. To usher in the Kingdom of God, adopting as many sons and daughters as will accept Him as King.

I dont' believe trying to convice people that they must believe certain sets of doctrinal propositions is walking by the spirit. It smacks fo the flesh to me. I hope to point people to the Father through Jesus, just as Jesus did, and then let the Holy Spirit and the Word do the work to help them get more and more revelation of Who the Father is so that they will have a greater understanding of truth and will fall more and more in love with the Father. Such a relationship will drive obedience and such obedience will result in more going and more hearing and more being saved.

bryan riley said...

Trying to think of how this all ties back to the original post, I realized that when we focus on our relationship with Him as the Truth, then we won't be guided by popularity at all. Little t "truths" have changed over history, whether simply a matter of cultural preferences or bigger matters, where people realized that the things they had been taught as biblical (i.e. slavery, biblical deacons, much that resulted in protestantism) weren't, but were popular beliefs. When we let Jesus be our guide, fixing our eyes on Him, what is religiously popular won't sway us.

Bart Barber said...

Stephen Pruett,

Yours would be a plausible interpretation (i.e., Carter could simply be saying, "Who goes to Heaven or Hell is God's decision, not mine."), but for the fact that Carter did, indeed, advance an answer for himself:

Q: Your first lesson on Ephesians emphasizes man's reconciliation to God through grace and the sacrifice of Christ. [Note: Who all thinks we're talking about common rather than saving grace here?] Do you believe that grace applies to people who don't presently believe in Jesus?

A: Yes, I do.…what about those that don't publicly accept Christ, are they condemned?…my own personal belief is one of God's forgiveness and God's grace.


I've abridged the response to make the response more concise. The full quote appears here.

Baptist Theologue said...

Bryan, it’s interesting to see how President Carter’s pastor reacted to his statements about Mormons in 1997:

“Dan Ariail, pastor of Maranatha Church in Plains, Ga., where Carter is known for teaching Sunday school on a regular basis, said he disagrees both with Carter's reported views as well as the statement that his church would not be trying to convert Mormons. In fact, he said, he plans to use in his church ‘The Mormon Puzzle,’ a video and curriculum resource developed by the North American Mission Board to help educate Southern Baptists on Mormon beliefs. ‘I would disagree with (President Carter) in the most basic way, but he is entitled to his opinion ... he has a right to be wrong,’ Ariail said. Sharing the biblical gospel with Mormons, Ariail said, ‘is not a front-burner issue here but we need to share the gospel with them and I would certainly try.’”

http://www.baptistpress.com/bpnews.asp?id=4767

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said…
Wade,
Your saying, “There are three positions I am committed to take as a Southern Baptist for the next decade that may not be popular, but I am convinced that each of them is the right course of action for me” could be accomplished by the obedience to Christ saying, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples [Christians], if you have love for one another.”

I believe that means there are NO ‘second-class Christians.’ By ‘second-class’, I mean, “There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

If this is true, how much more would it be true to say ‘there is NO moderate or conservative, for we are one in Christ Jesus’?

Kyle A. Roberts said...

I think it would be helpful if evangelicals would begin to think of biblical truth in "speech act" categories. The dichotomizing of "propositional" and "personal" fades when communication is seen for what it is: action. When Jesus says things, like "I am the way, the truth and the life" he is, it's propositional, but its much more than that. He's also doing something: challenging, guiding, directing, saving, rebuking, correcting, etc. All these are very "personal" activities, are they not? So when we encounter Jesus' words, we're engaging with his "speech acts." Through the illumination of the spirit, his words are as alive today to the attentive, obedient reader as they ever were. But intellectual categories alone will never enable the fullness of truth to make it's point, to find its home in our hearts and lives.

OC Hands said...

Shamgar,
I hear what you are saying, and I have heard it said in so many ways. No matter what Jesus said, we can find a way around it. Using my understanding of the truth to erect barriers is not a new thing, but just another excuse not to follow the desire of Jesus that we may all be one.
Can we be "one" with people who deny the divinity of Jesus? Of course not, not in the same we we can be one with our fellow believers. But look at what Jesus prayed--That they may be one as we are one--I in them and them in me.
That is a powerful prayer, and one I cannot so easily dismiss just because someone is a 'moderate' or a 'conservative' or a 'fundamentalist.'
While I respect your regard for the truth, I think using that argument for not relating to those who do believe in the truth of the gospel, just not like I do is often just an excuse.

Bryan Riley said...

This is not being critical of any individual, but some can choose to talk about Carter all they want. I just hope more and more will talk about Jesus and how He has changed their lives. Lay aside those things that hinder you (and others) from running the race well and fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith!!! Oh God, wake us up from our intellectual stupor and ignite us with a passion for the love that you showed us in and through Jesus!!!

RKSOKC66 said...

Rex:

It looks like there are two "problems" that frame the debate. BOTH OF THEM ARE ATMOSPHERIC NOT ACTUAL.

(1) There is a hang up on the use of the word "inerrancy" due to so much baggage attached to the word. Whether the Chicago guys came up with 1 or 1000 different nuanced meanings for the term "inerrancy" does not really cut to the essence of the argument of whether the Bible is true. How about not using the "I word" and just simply saying that the Bible is "true" or "correct" based upon the common dictionary definition of "true" / "correct"?

(2) There has been a lot of political posturing and fighting in the SBC (and elsewhere) regarding "inerrancy". I conceed your point. However, my stance on holding that the Bible being "true" is not derailed just because there was a fight in the SBC and/or guys like Page Patterson or Judge Pressler did stuff. Heck, I'd still hold that the Bible is "true" even if these guys never existed. I'd probably have a simple unadorned view that the Bible is "true" -- even if the SBC didn't exist. Can't a guy hold that the Bible is true without having to defend tons of stuff that was done by various guys in the CR? I don't by what is essentially a "guilt by association" argument when broached by either side.

(3) I agree with your premise that there are two different "camps" of Baptists. Some like me who are "conservative" and some like you who are "moderate". We need to work together since: (1) we are going to be spending time together later (in heaven) so we might as well get used to it and (2) if we cooperated on more stuff we might be more effective in spreading the Gospel.

Hey, I might be a conservative but that doesn't mean I breath fire.

I'm just a plain ol' guy who holds that the Bible should be "accurate" in order to justify studying it.

Roger Simpson Oklahoma City OK

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said…
Thanks Wade. I believe your post today (Monday May 21) more than answered my question if “There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” is true, how much more would it be true to say ‘there is NO moderate or conservative, for we are one in Christ Jesus’?

Roger Simpson,
I think we’re on the same page. Moderates believe in the infallible Word of God and it is in our BFM as:

“We believe the Bible has…truth, without any mixture of error for its matter, and that all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy.”

Now some of that sounds like ‘lawyer talk’, so I asked the lawyer for the SBC, Michael Whitehead, what “mixture of error” meant.
He replied, “That means the truth of the Bible is true and the untruth of the Bible is untrue; that is why we added “and that all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy.”

It is my belief that the BFM in defining TRUTH does not contradict itself.

RKSOKC66 said...

Rex:

I'd say we are in agreement as to the "nature" of the Bible 100%.

The BFM statement saying the Bible is "truth without any mixture of error" covers it for me.

I wonder if the so-called "disagreement" between "moderates" and "conservatives" is more a result of political posturing on both sides and negative fallout from some pretty rough stuff in the trenches rather than a substantive argument about the nature of the Bible.

If moderates are hung up on the "I word" (for whatever reason) I have no problem substituting the wording of the BF&M. To me at least these two various descriptions of the nature of the Bible are "the same".

My guess is that 90% of the "conservatives" and "moderates" -- who are the guys, like me, that just fill the pews on Sundays -- have allowed the religious elites on either side to paint this debate too starkly. While most of us were asleep at the switch the whole SBC broke up over "nothing".

As far as I know the only purported reason for the CR was a fight over the nature of the Bible.

If your view is representative of the "moderate" position I'd say that the fight was off target.

I wonder why President Carter could not bring the warring factions of the SBC back together again? Probably more a case of bruised egos on either side or wrangling about some nuanced definition of "inerrancy" than any substantive disagreement.

Wade, thanks for letting me hijack your Blog to bring this up. I think this -- at least tangentially -- relates to President Carter.

For years, I've carried around the erronous assumption -- based upon ignorance I guess -- that "moderates" think that the Bible is laced with errors.

I guess I don't really have a fully orbed understanding of the term "moderate" vis. a vis. "conservative" as used in the context of SBC life. But to the extent that I understand either term I think I'm simultaneously in both camps.

Roger Simpson Oklahoma City OK

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said...
Thanks Roger--ypu said a lot.

And thanks to Wade for not shooting both of us.