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

I Believe Is Not the Same Thing as I Know

My goal in this post is to spark within the reader a thought process that leads to greater fellowship and dialogue among Christians with different beliefs. It is expected that this post will cause reactions within some, but it is written with the simple goal of fostering beneficial responses. For the purpose of illustration I will be open and honest about what I personally believe. My fellowship and relationship with you, at least in my mind, is not dependent upon our mutual beliefs. Rather I am your brother in Christ because of our personal, intimate and experiential knowledge of God - which we hold in common. In other words, my fellowship with you is based upon what we both know, not what we believe.

When we read the New Testament we find that the Apostles John, Paul, James and others made a clear distinction between belief and knowledge. There were just a few things which they "knew" and were absolutely persuaded about by God. The best synopsis of this knowledge is found in Paul's letter to young Timothy when he said,

Nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed" (II Timothy 1:12).

In short, I know what Paul knows. I know God is God and I am not. I know that God is able, and I am incapable. I know that the salvation of my soul is due to His love for me as revealed in the work of His Son on my behalf. These things I know.

But I believe so much more.

The atheist, agnostic and avoider of Christ would deny that I could even "know" the above. They say that at most, what Paul told Timothy he "knew," and what I declare to know, is a matter of faith, not knowledge. To some degree the atheist would be correct. The writer of Hebrews says, "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." (Hebrews 11:6).

But on the other hand, the atheist is simply missing the key blessing of coming to God through faith in Jesus Christ - the knowledge that God actually exists. Those who seek God will meet God, and will be rewarded with an intimate relationship with their Creator through Jesus Christ our Lord. The atheist has no "gnosis" or personal knowledge of this one true God. Therefore, the intellectually honest atheist can only say, "Atheism is my BELIEF that the most probable number of Gods is zero, and this has a fairly high probability." He is a man of belief. His belief has also led him to a personal and experiential knowledge - there is no God. He knows this as his reality, because the atheist hasn't met God. Yet the prophet declares, "Prepare to meet thy God."

As for us, we would say we know there is a God, for we have met Him. We were trapped in our own failures and inabilities when we heard the good news. We came to faith in the God who made provision for us through His Son, Jesus the Anointed One. Having trusted Him, we have found God true, faithful and able - just like Paul told Timothy.

I know this to be true!

But, again, I believe so much more.

In my ministry I live what I know and I teach what I believe. I teach what I believe with passion. I teach what I believe with conviction. But there is a difference between knowing and believing. My brothers and sisters in Christ who know God can "believe" differently than I and we shall continue in fellowship, for our fellowship is around the Person we know, not the things we believe.

Illustrations of that Which I Believe

(1). I believe Jesus died for a particular people - God's 'elect,' or Christ's 'bride,' or His 'church,' or 'believers,' or however else one wishes to describe the people from every nation, tribe, kindred and tongue who have an inheritance in heaven.

But I don't know Jesus died just for the elect. I have a friend, Paul Young, who believes Jesus died for every single human being who has ever lived, those in hell and in heaven, and as a result, he is a hopeful universalist - holding out hope that somehow, someway, someday, Jesus will empty hell and all of the universe will be redeemed because everyone will see the glory of the Son who actually redeemed them.

I teach what I believe (particular redemption), but I don't "know" that what I believe about particular redemption is true - one day I will find out. My belief in particular redemption is not shaken by those who oppose it. My belief in particular redemption does not form my identity. My fellowship with other believers is not defined by our mutual faith in particular redemption. I don't know that particular redemption is true - but I believe it. I just happen to know that what binds me with others is our mutual knowledge of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

(2). I believe that the earth is a young earth - but I don't know that the earth is young. When I teach through Genesis expositionally, as I have done three times, I teach that God created the earth at most 10,000 years ago - because that is what i believe. However, I don't "know" that God created the earth 10,000 years ago.

I wasn't there.

The Scriptures can be interpreted in various ways regarding the age of the earth. My belief in a young earth is not threatened by those brothers in Christ who believe in an old earth. My fellowship with those who know God through Jesus Christ is not limited to those who believe in a young earth. I am firm in my personal belief in a young earth, but I am honest enough to say I don't "know" the earth is young. One of these days I will "know."

We have teachers in our church who believe in a young earth, we have teachers in our church who believe in an old earth. They are free to teach whatever they believe, they are simply reminded to acknowledge that what they teach is a matter of faith.

(3). I believe that most, if not all, of the prophecies of Scripture have been fulfilled - I am what some would call a partial preterist. Preterism is from the Latin word meaning "having been fulfilled." I believe the prophecies of Revelation were fulfilled in 70 A.D., thus I believe in an early dating of the writing of Revelation. I believe the prophecies of Jesus in Matthew 24 were fulfilled in 70 A.D - within a generation of when they were given. I believe that the prophecies of Daniel were fulfilled through Alexander the Great, the birth of Jesus, and the destruction of Jerusalem.

But I don't "know" that the prophecies of Scripture have all been fulfilled completely. I teach what I believe about eschatology and allow others in our church to teach what they believe about eschatology. In fact, I have taught all four major eschatological positions (premillenialism, amillienialism, post-millenialism, preterism) to the people of Emmanuel - and then I asked them to choose what they believe.

Our fellowship is around our personal knowledge of Christ, not our mutual beliefs in other matters.

(4). I believe that God made women equal to men in authority - and so I see the prophetesses in Scripture prophesying, Priscilla teaching Apollo theology, Deborah reigning over Israel and judging God's people, and I have no problem with women teaching men today, or women holding positions of authority over men today, or believing women are gifted by the Spirit of God just the same as the Spirit gifts men today. Sure, there are different roles for men and women (women give birth, men don't), but the idea that a woman cannot have equal "authority to a man" is completely foreign to my understanding of the Bible and the purposes of God.

But here is where it gets sticky. Unlike my belief in a young earth, particular redemption, and partial preterism, belief in the equality of women has a corresponding action with it - it affects how the believer in gender equality treats women. Am I open for women to be in positions of spiritual leadership? Yes. Can women teach the Bible to men in our church? Yes, and they do. Do I believe women can teach Hebrew to future preachers? Yes.

Again, my view of equality is not based on experience, but on what I believe Scripture teaches. But my interpretation of Scripture is also consistent with my experience. So in some aspects I am like the apostle Paul when he said I am "fully persuaded" by God. My belief has become my personal knowledge.

Could I be wrong? Of course. God may not have given to women equal authority or equal spiritual abilities to men. If that is the case, then my interpretation of Scripture is leading me to place women in a very compromising, uncomfortable and possibly untenable positions. But, again, my actual experience has been just the opposite. Every teacher, every leader, every proclaimer of Jesus Christ who happens to be female seems to me to be just as capable and equal to men.

By the way, it is my desire to maintain fellowship and relationship with my brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with me on this belief. But I have found that sometimes it is difficult for other Christians to fellowship with me around differing beliefs that lead to opposite, and uncomfortable actions. In other words, one can debate ecclesiology, eschatology, creation, and atonement - but serve the Lord's supper to a non-church member in front of a Landmarker, or put a woman as a teacher to men in front of a patriarch, or do something else that corresponds to, and is consistent with, your Christian beliefs, then the fireworks begin. That is, unless Christians understand the difference between believing something and knowing something.

Our church has been trained to be comfortable fellowshipping with various Christians that have differing beliefs, and in many instances, fellowshipping with Christians whose beliefs have led them to actions or activities that some in our church would refrain from participating in. There is in our church, for lack of a better word, soul freedom.

I freely confess that it would be difficult for me to be a part of a church where men treated women as inferior, or where men were allowed to speak down to women as if they were children, or where women were taught that their places in life were reserved to be a servants to the men. Yet, in no form or fashion would I ever urge a Convention to disfellowship from, or cease to cooperate with, a patriarchal church. Patriarchs are simply living out their beliefs, and they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. We just believe differently than they.

(5). I believe that God is absolutely sovereign - and not one atom, not one molecule, not one event, not one person, not one devil is allowed to move or act without his permission, prohibition, persuasion, or providence. There is nothing that is hidden from God or too hard for God. He does as He pleases, always as He pleases, only as He pleases. His purposes shall be fulfilled, and he shall accomplish everything according to His purposes.

But I could be wrong. God could not know the future because the things of the future do not yet exist and thus are not knowable, as Greg Boyd teaches. God could be dependent upon the will of man as Arminius taught.

But I teach what I believe, so I teach He is sovereign over all things, even the will of man and the future events of the world.

But it doesn't bother me to fellowship with someone who knows God but believes differently regarding His providence. One of these days I am hopeful that those of us who have very specific beliefs will come to the place where we are neither threatened by, nor seek to separate from, those Christians who believe differently than we.

There are so many other illustrations that could be given to show the difference between what we believe and what we know, but I think you get the point.



In His Grace,


Wade

136 comments:

Paul T said...

Wade,
I enjoyed this post.
I'm not sure, though, that you stated Greg Boyd's position accurately. My impression from Boyd's books and sermons is that God knows all that can be known, but that some things do not yet exist and thus are not knowable.
If God is limited in His knowledge, it is a self-limitation.
Boyd believes in a sovereign God, but defines sovereignty differently.
I don't necessarily agree with Boyd, but that is my take on his teaching.

Thanks again for a great post.

Wade Burleson said...

Paul T.

Thanks. I will correct my representation of his position.

Blessings,

Wade

Dr. Paul W. Foltz said...

I MUST DISAGREE WITH YOU ON 2 AND 4, BUT WON'T BREAK FELLOWSHIP OVER IT, NOR DEBATE IT. WHAT I KNOW IS WHAT THE SPIRIT HAS GIVEN TO ME.

Dr. Paul W. Foltz said...

I MUST DISAGREE WITH YOU ON 2 AND 4, BUT WON'T BREAK FELLOWSHIP OVER IT, NOR DEBATE IT. WHAT I KNOW IS WHAT THE SPIRIT HAS GIVEN TO ME.

Christiane said...

Perhaps Boyd does not consider this: that God, not restricted by our limits of time and sequential
time-lines, may know the result of events without effecting the cause of those events.

To know something is going to happen does not mean that you make it happen.

A child holds an ice-cream. You know that the child is going to eat it. But do you MAKE the child eat it?

You watch a train approaching fast a car stopped on the railroad tracks. You 'know' the train will hit the car. But did your 'knowledge' make this event happen?

In Judaism, the rabbis teach this: that all is known by God, but choice is permitted.

Michael Leakim said...

Dear Pastor Burleson, I've posted here in the past and I have been warned that it's dangerous for me as an Episcopalian/Anglican to post here.
But Reverend Burleson in this posting of yours you certainly sound like an Episcopalian.
You don't keep a 3-legged stool in your house do you?
Come on and visit anytime.
May God continue to bless and guide you and yours.

Our General Convention starts this week in Anaheim. I invite you to read Lowell's Blog from the convention and would like to see your comments on the convention here on your blog.

http://generalconvention.blogspot.com/

Remember Rich Mullins?

And I believe what I believe
Is what makes me what I am
I did not make it, no it is making me
It is the very truth of God and not
The invention of any man

Thy Peace said...

This is an interesting post. About the differentiation between knowing and believing. I already read the post twice. But I need to think more about this. Maybe if I had an year or two to mull over the finer differences.

Jon L. Estes said...

Wade,

I don't think the position of leader, teacher proclaimer (as in a pastor) has anything to do with capability but everything to do with God in and through us.

Many women (and men) who are not called to do these things are more capable of them than I but the calling fell on me.

I support any church to call a woman as a pastor as strongly as I support any other organization to distant themselves from such, if they choose so because they believe it to be absolutely wrong.

Other than that, thanks for your blog.

Wade Burleson said...

Jon Estes,

I understand. You are acting consistent with your beliefs.

No problem.

Do you consider the possibility that your beliefs may be based on a faulty interpretation of Scripture?

I am not saying they are, I am just asking if you think it could be a possibility for you?

Rick said...

I've always said, "you can believe what you want; it doesn't change the truth". (especially helpful in eschatological matters - I'm a "pan-millennialist", btw)

Yet, I, too, teach/preach what I believe. Just as importantly, I hope that I actually LIVE what I believe!

Jon L. Estes said...

Wade,

At this point I do not see my beliefs being out of line with scripture but I do daily seek God to show me truth, even where it differs from where I am at and what I believe.

God has changed some things in my life over the years and I believe He will continue to do so.

I have asked desperately over the past week concerning this very issue being discussed (in previous posts mostly). Asking for God to show me where I am wrong and adjust my life to His right. Either:

1 - There is no need
2 - His timing for me to know is not now.

I know I can come off sarcastic and often times it is intentional but from my cheap seats there seems to be a need for some of the women to have the authoratative word in the discussion. I would even say they want to be boss over the subject.

No slam meant and I know words in print do not really show the heart of the typist. So I try not to get emotional... Stress try.

Wade Burleson said...

Yes, Rick, you are correct.

I'm attempting to show that the Truth is Jesus Christ. (I am the way, THE TRUTH, the life). This we know.

Secondary and tertiary TRUTH is open to interpretation (i.e. "millenialisms"), and the ability to say, "I believe, but I don't know that that what I believe is the actual truth" is a humble approach.

I don't know, but it seems to me, some have a hard time understanding that a conservative, inerrantist, Southern Baptist pastor like I, who is very precise in what I believe (in all things), yet can say without shame that I could be wrong in what I believe - in most everything but Jesus Christ - and not be threatened.

Wade Burleson said...

Jon Estes,

You said, "At this point I do not see my beliefs being out of line with scripture but I do daily seek God to show me truth, even where it differs from where I am at and what I believe."

Amen, my friend. You are one after my own heart. With that kind of spirit there would be no breach in fellowship as brothers in Christ.

Wade Burleson said...

Michael,

Interesting enough, the great Anglican theologian and hymnwriter Augustus Toplady was best friends with the Baptist Hebraist and theologian John Gill.

It was not unusual for 18th Cenntury Episcopal forerunners (Anglicans) to be friends with Baptists.

Have a great Convention.

Wade

Benji Ramsaur said...

Interesting post Wade.

My take:

We can't exclude the element of belief from intimate knowing.

We shouldn't, I think, exclude the possible element of intimate knowing from any belief.

Even Paul in 2 Timothy 1:12 says "I 'know' whom I have 'believed'."

I can't just walk up to a guy on the street and say "Do you intimately know God and His Son Jesus?" and him say "Yes" to which I say "Great, let's fellowship"

I need to know which God He is talking about. I need to know which Jesus he might be talking about. Is this the Jesus who is the Son of God? Is this the incarnate Jesus? The Jesus who rose bodily from the dead?

I need to know if the Jesus he claims to know is the Jesus revealed in Scripture. There is such a thing as a Jesus which is not Jesus [2 Cor. 11:4].

It seems that what you are saying [and I could be wrong in this] is that there are only a few things in Scripture that we can intimately know in intimately knowing our God.

I think any Scripture we intimately know [and believe in] can be an experience of intimately knowing God.

This is not to say I want to break fellowship over a difference in the millennium [for example]. I don't.

However, you seem to be limiting what we can intimately know further than I would.

Even if I intimately know something and another disagrees with it does not necessarily mean I want to break fellowship. It depends on what it is.

We all are in the process of being sanctified. None of us have "arrived" yet. At least I haven't.

But again, I might be misreading you in this post.

Grace to you,

Benji

Nick and Kathy said...

Another opportunity for biblical illusionists Lydia, Cheryl, DebD, believer333, MaryR, Thy Peace, et. al. to display their craft.

For today's show, they will demonstrate for us that the word "helpmate" does not really mean "helpmate". In the next ring over, the NT stage, they will clearly demonstrate that "head" does not mean "head."


Next they will prove before your very eyes that I Corinthians 11 and I Peter 3, actually show that men are to submit to women. And in a show you won't want to miss, these scriptural magicians will actaully make the book of Timothy demonstrate that women should have the authoritative and preaching roles in the church.

Now, don't try reading scripture and think you can understand anything unless you have mastered at least two ancient languages. The Bible is much more convert and sneaky than that. It's meanings are not in what it says, but in its secondary or alternative innuendo.

You will see an amazing display of textual agility. You've seen bird, rabbits, even whole people disappear before your very eyes. You ain't seen nothing yet. These individuals have honed their craft to the level where they can make whole scriptural teachings and even truth itself disappear through distraction and misdirection.

Ringmaster Wade has perfectly set the stage by planting the seed in the audience's mind that you can't actually be sure you "know" that much from reading scripture.

Let the show begin....

Chris Ryan said...

In response to your title, Wade:

I know.

John Fariss said...

Wade,

This is an excellent point. I find myself wondering though: what would today's Baptist "landscape" look like if Southern Baptist ministers, especially those of influence and with a significant following, had adopted such an outlook in years past, viz.: (1) in the period appx. 1840-1860, when the dominant Baptist "position" on slavery changed from viewing it as a necessary evil to as a positive good; (2) in the late 1950s and early 60s, during the Civil Rights era; (3) during the CR; and (4) todays events with the IBM's restrictions and "guidelines" and such issues. Oh well, the first three at least are useless speculation, and they will not change history, or its consequences. But if enough people adopt your dialogue, maybe it will have a bearing on the later.

I do have one question, although I am frankly unsure if it is significant or not, and I am afraid I am not going to word it very presicely. How do spiritual gifts fit or mesh into the things one "knows"? What I am getting at is that one of the spiritual gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:9 is the gift of faith. A definition that resonates for me of the gift of faith is "the divine enablement to act on God's promises with confidence and unwavering belief in God's ability to fulfill His purposes" (taken from "Network" by Bruce Bugbee, Don Cousins, & Bill Hybels). There are believers who have such absolute confidence--but since not all of us possess all gifts, not all believers have this spiritual gift of faith. I am one of those who does not; as I tell people, there are things I believe because I am 99.44% certain of them, and things I believe because I am 51% sure of them. I have long felt defensive about this, especially since I have heard sermons saying unless one has no doubt at all, you are not saved, and have not experienced Christ Jesus. That did not stop me from giving up the vocation I had before I heard my call, from moving the place I loved 600+ miles to pursue that call, or a number of other things that have changed significantly, but my personality is such that I "always" entertain other possibilities, which some would call doubts. Without crossing over the "line" between what one knows and what one believes per your article, where does the issue of the gift of faith and/or its absence fit into what you describe as the "personal, intimate and experiential knowledge of God" (which I would affirm as having)?

Blessings,

John

Christiane said...

It is from the Anglican Burial Service that I find one of the greatest statements of 'knowing' ever written.

Strangely, it comes from the Book of Job: who recounts his earthly trials and then, in spite of, (or maybe because of everything he is enduring), he gives us his testimony of 'knowing'.
The contrast between his suffering and his 'knowing' is what gives his statement its magnificence. One wonders: for him, has one given birth to the other?


FROM THE BOOK OF JOB Chapter 19

"23 Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!
24 That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!
25 For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another . . . "

Paul B. said...

Hi Wade,

I think it's very important to understand the difference between what we know and what we believe - iOW, to qualify our thoughts. Where we come down on the more uncertain issues is, as you say, less important.

One small correction - it was Apollo, not Paul, that Priscilla helped teach.

bb,
P.

Jon L. Estes said...

Nick & Kathy,

The people in the pews have no ability to know Truth from the words we have in our bibles.

I think I will write a book and call it the BIBLE CODE. A book to lead you on a great adventure, find hidden clues, and learn first hand that the bible says what it does not say. That there is no bible for the common man. there is no bible in our language. But the clues will lead us to find and open the code where books not inspired by God will give us real Truth.

And all this time I thought I needed the bible.

Intended TIC

Thy Peace said...

Nick and Kathy said...
Another opportunity for biblical illusionists Lydia, Cheryl, DebD, believer333, MaryR, Thy Peace, et. al. to display their craft
.

I know for a fact that my life is full of illusions and deceptive thinking. God is slowly removing these illusions.

I am acutely conscious of my own sins and faults. Through God's Grace, I walk with God, with ALL my faults and sins. He is cleansing me as I walk with Him.

Joe Blackmon said...

he is a hopeful universalist - holding out hope that somehow, someway, someday, Jesus will empty hell and all of the universe will be redeemed because everyone will see the glory of the Son who actually redeemed them.

I may not know that Jesus died only for the elect and I'll grant that. However, I know for an absolute fact that the above statement about what Wm Paul belives is heretical. Period. A universalist does not understand the gospel.

Thy Peace said...

On Hope.

From Breakfast With Fred weekly newsletter:

Strengthening the Core

The Apostle Paul tells us “endurance produces character.” It’s important he didn’t say endurance produces personality. We are living today in an age when personality often substitutes for character.

Our personality is affected by our moods, our environment, even by our associations. We learn to define what is happy, what is pleasant, what is appealing through our social grid. It is flexible.

Our character is the bedrock. It is the foundation for our life. It is who we are. Someone has said, “character is what you are when you are alone.” I think it is more than that because your true strength of character often must show when we are with others, when we are fighting temptations, when we are forced to take a stand, when we choose to do the right thing.

Character is the domicile of our core structure. It is the vault for our values.

What did the Apostle Paul build on that character foundation? Hope. I am convinced hope is the healthy mental condition of the normal Christian. Notice I did not say “average” Christian. Like Watchman Nee pointed out, the normal Christian life is not always the average one. If we are to be normal, we must live in hope.

Recently, the President of a large corporation came to talk about the pressures of facing chapter 11 bankruptcy. He was nationally known and respected. Due to financial circumstances (many beyond his control), the company is in terrible trouble. He talked about the meetings ahead of him and the factions within his company. I reminded him of the danger of hopelessness. We are never to be without hope because we are never without Help.

On numerous occasions, I have visited with friends contemplating suicide. Invariably, we got to lack of hope. They could see nothing good in the future. They could anticipate no pleasure. Strangely, they found a certain heroism in “going down with the ship.” Somehow they wanted to symbolically administer the last rites. I called one friend on this challenging him the emotion he needed to demonstrate was hope, not false heroics.

Hope is the birthright of Christians. But, hope is not in our productivity or our material wealth. Our hope is centered in being, not in doing, or in having.

True hope never disappoints. True character never disappears.

greg.w.h said...

"I believe" admits the somewhat ambiguous line drawn between it and "I know." We must fight hard that our certainty in what we believe doesn't turn into the hard shell of certitude.

I thought this paragraph by Jon L. Estes was well thought:

I support any church to call a woman as a pastor as strongly as I support any other organization to distant themselves from such, if they choose so because they believe it to be absolutely wrong.

I believe we have an obligation to pursue unity to the greatest extent possible, and the first half of his statement increases unity while the latter half, unfortunately, appears at first blush to diminish it. But it led me to think about that a little more.

I'm reminded of the times that the disciples brought to Jesus's attention people who were performing works in his name who he hadn't taught. He responded that those "who aren't against us are for us."

But I'm also reminded that when Apollos was teaching an incomplete baptism (only that of John the Baptizer and not of Jesus), that Prisca and Aquila pulled him to the side and instructed him completely in the message of the Gospel.

When I think of that--how Priscilla and Aquila worked to complete (perfect) Apollos' knowledge, it in turn reminds me of this verse (emphasis mine):

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV) 11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Our search for knowledge, for understanding, and our attestations of specific belief should reflect maturity, fullness of Christ Jesus, and should result in unity in the faith. I worry that we often excuse ourselves from pursuing unity by our belief in the superiority of our knowledge and I also worry that such an expression of superiority is a result not of understanding but of pride.

Yet I understand how difficult it is for a pastor to stand up before his congregation (or hers) and proclaim the Gospel clearly if he (or she) lacks the certainty of both belief and conviction. To put it in a secular perspective, it's like a salesperson who doesn't believe in the goods he (or she) is selling.

I think this is a thorny problem to solve, but I believe that if we will struggle with the problem honestly and authentically--admitting when we simply do not have knowledge rather than making up the answers--what results will be pursuit of complete knowledge of Christ Jesus and the result of THAT will be unity.

How so? Because, honestly, only one is right. Either Jesus intended for his church to be run only by men or he didn't or he was willing to accept it for period of time. And we can duke that out and churches can separate and we can create ever more "belief" distinctions and further excuse the divisions, or we can agree to work together to be iron sharpening iron and to demonstrate that our unity depends on our completed knowledge of Christ Jesus and our DISunity is merely a temporal result of incomplete knowledge.

When we add the "belief" concept to our faith, unfortunately, we tend to jettison doubt, lack of understanding, and incomplete knowledge as baggage that we shouldn't have to carry around with us. But, perhaps, humility requires us precisely to continue to carry that weight in order to avoid spiritual pride?

Greg Harvey

Bob Cleveland said...

Wade,

For many years, I struggled with whether I was really a Christian. Sure, I believed all the right things, but I was never sure that I believed properly.

Then one day, in one of those little conversations with God, He pointed out a couple things to me that changed my life. The first was that I was not trying to prove Jesus was the Savior. I KNEW Jesus was the only way to heaven.

What I wanted proof of, was only that I believed as I should. What I see in that, is God's affirmation that knowing Jesus is the Savior, and not trying to find salvation anywhere else, was the essence of faith (for me).

This post has the ring of truth, to me.

Thanks.

Timothy Snider said...

RE: Wade's comment to Michael (11:51AM).

Interesting about Augustus Toplady - the Anglican who wrote Rock of Ages - a favorite Southern Baptist hymn. I knew he wrote the hymn - didn't know he was Anglican. Neat!

Wade Burleson said...

Joe Blackmon,

How would you feel if I told you that I see more consistency in a universalist who believes Christ atoned for the sins of every man - and the powerful work and atonement of Christ guarantees salvation for every sinner - than I do the theology that says Christ died for every sinner, but some for whom He died wind up in hell?

Of course, as you know, I am a particular redemptionist, but if I believed that Christ died for every person I too, would be a universalist, because we all know that what saves sinners is Christ's work, not our own work.

Blessings,

Wade

Paula said...

While I don't think the line between believing and knowing is easy to draw, the comments so far bring out what I think is a bigger issue: what we do with what we know and believe.

We have already seen here the mockery of fellow believers. It is a poor substitute for dealing with actual issues or arguments. To shoot the messenger and make sport of their views is a hateful and divisive tactic which should have no place in the community of believers.

Wade Burleson said...

John Farris,

You ask me a great question about spiritual gifts.

I respond in this manner;

I believe the gifts continue, but my belief is simply that - belief.

I have brothers and sisters in Christ who "know" that they continue because they have been persuaded by God that their interpreation of Scripture is real - through experience.

My interpretation of Scripture has not lined up with personal experience, but I don't sweat that, because Paul himself said the greatest of all gifts is love.

Joe Blackmon said...

Wade

Well being a definite or paticular atonement guy myself I'm not sure what I'd say except that Arminians are not heretics in my book. I just happen to think they're wrong on some ponits of doctrine. At least they recognize the fact that Christ paid the price for sin.

Wade Burleson said...

Joe,

A universalist who is a believer in Jesus Christ is a universalist PRECISELY because, as you say, "Christ paid the price for sin." The only difference between a Christian universalist and me and you is that we believe Christ paid the price for sin for the elect - they believe He paid the price of sin for every sinner.

I'm not sure you understand universalism.

Go back and study the 18th Century and you will see that many of the five point Calvinists in England, men who believe just as you, became Christian universalist.

I am not a universalist because of my interpretation of Scripture.

I just have one simple question to ask you.

If you were to stand before God at death and He were to inform you that He actually died for every single sinner, and that because of His grace of redemption, every single sinner would be redeemed . . .

Would you argue with God?

:) Smile.

Or, would you call him a heretic?

Paula said...

Not sure about that definition of "Christian universalist". Some do believe that all will be saved, but I don't. Yet I believe Jesus died so that all **could** be saved. In other words, non-acceptance of limited atonement is not universalism in itself, because it does not say that all the atoned will be saved.

Joe Blackmon said...

In other words, non-acceptance of limited atonement is not universalism in itself, because it does not say that all the atoned will be saved.

Paula,

I was just about to make that point. I'm agreeing with you again. Where's that pepermint when I need it.

Wade,

Moot point. The God of the universe making a declaration and Wm writing the garbage (and that is a kind term for what I think of his drivel) are just a wee bit different, I'd say. Kinda like the difference between a Matchbox toy car and a Galaxy Class Starship (if there were such a thing).

believer333 said...

BLOG CHATTER

”Many women (and men) who are not called to do these things are more capable of them than I but the calling fell on me.”

Jon Estes, to me the above sounds like crazy thinking. First whom God calls He equips. Secondly, church leadership is not supposed to be about worldly leadership skills but is a spiritual ministry. And spiritual giftings are not segregated but are dispensed upon whomsoever God chooses.

I understand that you are simply following your predetermined convictions and are standing upon certain Scriptures to support your convictions. The problem is that all the Scriptures that discuss the HS giving of Spiritual giftings do not support your separation theories.

Knowing that for you this is not up for discussion, I will stop here. I just wanted you to know that the above statement of yours if being used to justify limiting women from church leadership, doesn’t fly.

Blessings ~

Thy Peace said...

Off Topic:

Fbc Jax Watchdog > Bully Pastors Put on the Gloves....
Last month I received a letter from the lawyer of an SBC mega church pastor, an SWBTS graduate, who claims I defamed this mega church pastor on my blog in 2008. He accused me of "unlawful conduct" because of my blog post, demanded that I immediately take down the offending posts, else will face a lawsuit with massive damages and legal costs. Even said I would have to pay the mega church pastor's legal costs, which would be "substantial".

believer333 said...

” I know I can come off sarcastic and often times it is intentional but from my cheap seats there seems to be a need for some of the women to have the authoratative word in the discussion. I would even say they want to be boss over the subject.”

I have observed many hierarchalists making similar demeaning assumptions about women who believe women can be used of God in any gifting.

Wondering why they do that, I’ve considered that perhaps when people think they have the corner on something thinking no one can ‘touch them’, it is shaking to their security and positions of privilege to find that not only do others disagree but they do the very thing one assumes they cannot do and do it well.

:)

Wade Burleson said...

Joe Blackmon,

You should know that I, above all people, respect your's (and Paula's position). I know what you believe about the atonement and respect it.

I am, however, challenging your critical statement of Paul Young. You call him a heretic because "a universalist doesn't understand the gospel."

I am just pointing out that Paul Young does understand the gospel - Jesus saves. He simply believes that it is Jesus intention to save everyone, and Jesus will not fail.

How is that heresy?

Wade

P.S. I respect the fact that there are those who believe, as does Paula, that it is Jesus' intention to save everyone, but He cannot, nor will He, violate the will of man to be "saved." Jesus only makes it possible for sinners to be saved - and that choice is up to the sinner. That is not heresy either. Again, I am asking you how what Paul Young believes is "heresy."

I submit you either don't understand what he believes, or you have a really warped view of heresy.

Lydia said...

"I know I can come off sarcastic and often times it is intentional but from my cheap seats there seems to be a need for some of the women to have the authoratative word in the discussion. I would even say they want to be boss over the subject."

Pot>Kettle>black

In other words, it is ok for you, a man, to have an 'authoritative word' on the subject but not so for the women who are the ones being discussed.

Jon, your slip is showing. :o)


Nick and Kathy,

What I find interesting is that I do not know who wrote your comment, Nick or Kathy?

Stephen said...

Wade, you have done it once again! You have written a message that we all need to hear. Thank you!

I am also glad that Paula cleared up any misconception of the definition of a universalism.

Thanks, Paula.

Paula said...

Lydia, excellent responses.

Stephen, thanks! Always glad to help. I know full well that a certain unnamed theological system likes to see absolutely everything in black and white, such that to not accept limited atonement is to think everybody's going to heaven, so I thought it was important to make the distinction.

TheWayofCain said...

Great post Wade. Perhaps I'm not a heretic for questioning certain Doctrines. Full Preterism, annhiliationism and Old Earth creation are things I flirt with.


P.S. Is your church web site going through changes? I haven't been able to access it for a couple of days.

Thy Peace said...

Emmanuel Enid site is working.

Philip Miller said...

Pastor Wade,
It seems to me that your logic breaks down rather quickly as being totally inadequate, or else leaves us with some awful conclusions. Why pick only these several issues of examples of things we only believe but do not know? For instance, how do you know the Bible is true? Or do you just believe it? How do you "know" Bart Ehrman is not correct when he says that the Bible we have today is a total corruption from what was originally written? Were you there when the originals were written? Do you have copies? Also, how do you "know" that the resurrection truly happened. Were you there when Jesus came out of the grave? Have you seen the resurrected Jesus in His body. Or could it be that you just believe it to have happened?
I don't claim to have a corner on the truth, or to know the sum total of all Truth, but I know that your differentiation between knowing and believing is very lacking. Or else there is very little, if anything, that we can truly know.

Also, you say that our fellowship is "not dependent upon our mutual beliefs". So what if I do not believe in the Trinity, or in the divinty of Christ. Am I still your brother in Christ? Were the early Church Councils wrong in drawing lines of fellowship based on beliefs in these particular items? I only point these out to demonstrate how lacking your arguments quickly becomes. It seems to me that you have drunk deeply from the stream of post-modernism that ultimately denies that there is a meta-narrative that defines an absolute truth or knowledge, but that that truth and knowledge are subjective to the individual's life story.
I would be interested in hearing others respond to my concerns of Wade's logic.

St. Steven of St. Paul, MN said...

I am a covenant partner at Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, MN. For Greg's thoughts on Open Theism I direct you to his website Christus Victor...and his book God of the Possible.
I believe Jesus died for "whosoever will"...in the creation of earth in a time long, long ago...that partial preterism is close - and amilleniamism is too...that women are coequal with men...and that open theism has much to its credit.
To know the Lord means to be in an intimitate relationship with him...it is far beyond mental/rational constructs and language. And like Billy Graham has been quoted as saying more recently...the gates of heaven are open far wider than many Christians are happy about.
Joy to ya'll southern Christians.

TheWayofCain said...

Philip, I agree with your points and with Wade. The question is where is the line to be drawn. That seems to be where the friction comes.

TheWayofCain said...

ThyPeace,

It must be a problem on my end then. This is what I get:



DNS error - cannot find server

Oops! This link appears to be broken.Suggestions:
View cached copy of page from Google
Reload this page later
Search on Google:

Wade Burleson said...

Phillip Miller,


You ask:

(1). How do you know the Bible is true? Or do you just believe it?

It should be obvious, Phillip, that I believe the message of the Bible is true.

I leave the archeological apologetics, the textual apologetics, and all other apologetics on the veracity of the Bible's geographical, scientific and historical accuracy to people much smarter than I - but I have no problem stating I believe the Bible to be inspired and inerrant. If, however, we arrive in heaven and we find that Bart Ehrman was actually correct and there has been a total corruption from what was orginally written, it would seem to me that it would have absolutely no effect on my salvation.

My faith is in the Christ the Bible presents to us. I worship Him, not the Bible.


You ask:

(2). How do you "know" Bart Ehrman is not correct when he says that the Bible we have today is a total corruption from what was originally written?

See above

You ask:

(3). Were you there when the originals were written? Do you have copies?

No, what does that have to do with my belief in the veracity of Scripture?

You ask:

Also, how do you "know" that the resurrection truly happened. Were you there when Jesus came out of the grave? Have you seen the resurrected Jesus in His body. Or could it be that you just believe it to have happened?

I answer as I point out Paul answered to Timothy: "I know whom I have believed and am persuaded." I have no problem saying I know the living Christ.

That is our common faith as Christians.


Phillip, you draw the conclusion:

I don't claim to have a corner on the truth, or to know the sum total of all Truth, but I know that your differentiation between knowing and believing is very lacking.Or else there is very little, if anything, that we can truly know.

Maybe, now, Phillip, you will see that I am suggesting one should be firm in his beliefs, but humble enough not to be dogmatic secondary and tertiary issues.

Thy Peace said...

If you are having DNS errors, I would encourage you to use OpenDNS. Their DNS servers are 208.67.222.222 or 208.67.220.220. Their site has instructions on how to configure dns settings for your computer here.

Thy Peace said...

Also, you can try this to access Emmanuel Enid. I entered their IP address in the link. It should work.

Thy Peace said...

Also, if the above does not work ... then the only possibility is your computer is compromised. Could be the browser or the OS. Try a different browser, say like Firefox, Opera, Chrome or Safari. If all do the same, then the likely culprit might be the OS got contaminated, assuming your actual dns is ok, but there is malware on your computer.

TheWayofCain said...

Also, you can try this to access Emmanuel Enid. I entered their IP address in the link. It should work.

It worked, thanks. Not sure why it works and just a plain old Google search didn't. Funny, I had the same problem on 2 computers. Thanks again, I can now resume the 1 John series.

Mary R said...

Nick and Kathy, far from your false assessment of my comments on the two previous entries, I believe what I believe precisely because the Bible says what it says. God has changed my stubborn mind because I have been willing for it to be renewed to the end of transforming me more fully into the likeness of Christ.

I realize you (quite obviously) don't like what several of us have said. Nobody's expecting you personally to stop believing whatever it is that you believe.

It appears you're taking the dishonest but easy tactic of ridiculing those with whom you disagree, rather than to engage in an actual conversation with them.

Please, enough with your "illusionist" accusations. They're not true, and they reflect badly on you and the blessed Name you bear. That's not how Christian brothers and sisters ought to speak of one another and it ill becomes you as fellow believers in Jesus Christ.

If you have no better defense of your own position than false witness against those who don't accept your premises, then I invite you to look critically at your premises. Perhaps you'll find them as lacking in scriptural support as I finally did when I let God be God and speak the unpopular word to me. That's uncomfortable, and even dangerous to the cultural assumptions Christians tend to make. But that's the kind of work God does on us when we stop valuing our pet interpretations above the One who gave us the Scriptures in the first place.

I wish God's peace on you.

Christiane said...

I have been 'mulling over' the
"belief", "faith", "knowledge" definitions. But I keep going back to the old Commandment:
"Thou shalt love Thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." Full strength.
Nothing held back.

And then I stumble over the 'knowing' word. Is this simply a mental 'knowledge'? Or is it something more than that: an experential knowing, where words become irrelevant because there ARE NO WORDS for the experience of knowing the Holy One in this way. We enter into the knowledge of the mystery of God.
We leave the words behind and we encounter The Word. Big difference. These encounters are found often in silence. Often we are alone. And then our hearts and souls and minds are open to 'receive' His Presence. Time seems to stop. There is that peacefulness that comes. And healing, and strengthening.

We enter into the mystery of God that arises from understanding the limitations of our own human knowledge. This is the gift of the indwelling Spirit who speaks to us in this Great Silence and we hear His Voice. We KNOW His Voice. WE KNOW HIS vOICE.

Those that have experienced the Lord in this way share a bond of unity in the Body of Christ to which they have been called by The Spirit, and united in Christ.

All communication becomes the 'sharing of gifts', the sharing of blessings, of caring, and of love.

In this realm, Christian brothers and sisters are bonded in Him, with Him, and through Him.

No 'doctrinal divisions' destroy this bond. How can they? As the Roman soldiers could not divide up the seamless robe of Christ, the Body of Christ
remains untorn. Thanks Be To God.

Chris Ryan said...

L's,

You write, "We leave the words behind and we encounter The Word." I think that is the best description of what Wade is talking about. And it is the only thing that we can truly know: we have experienced communion with God. That is why our faith is based on God, not the Bible, not the BFM, not the Chicago Statement, but on God. He is our source and our hope, all else is trivial compared to knowing and communing with Him.

Thank you for that beautiful assessment.

Rex Ray said...

Off Topic


World's oldest Christian Bible digitized

July 06, 2009 4:05 PM EDT

LONDON - The surviving pages of the world's oldest Christian Bible have been reunited - digitally. The early work known as the Codex Sinaiticus has been housed in four separate locations across the world for more than 150 years. But starting Monday, it became available for perusal on the Web at http://www.codexsinaiticus.org so scholars and other readers can get a closer look at what the British Library calls a "unique treasure."

"(The book) offers a window into the development of early Christianity and firsthand evidence of how the text of the Bible was transmitted from generation to generation," said Scot McKendrick, head of Western manuscripts at the British Library.

It is the oldest book that contains a complete New Testament and is only missing parts of the Old Testament and the Apocrypha.

The 4th-century book, written in Greek, has been digitally reunited in a project involving groups from Britain, Germany, Russia and Egypt, which each possessed parts of the 1,600-year-old manuscript.

They worked together to publish new research into the history of the Codex and transcribed 650,000 words over a four-year period.

Juan Garces, the Codex Sinaiticus project manager, said putting the book online was a "definitely a historical moment."

"It's special because it's the oldest almost completely preserved bible," Garces said.

Garces said the only other Bible that rivals Codex Sinaiticus in age is the Codex Vaticanus, which was written around the same time but lacks parts of the New Testament.

On the Codex parchment leaves is written around half of the Old Testament and Apocrypha, the whole of the New Testament and two early Christian texts not found in modern Bibles. Most of the first part of the Bible manuscript - containing most of the so-called historical books, from Genesis to 1 Chronicles - is missing and presumed to be lost.

"From Parchment to Pixel: The Virtual Reunification of the Codex Sinaiticus," an exhibit about the Bible's reunification process, opened at the British Library on Monday and runs until Sept. 7.

The digitized manuscript includes more than 800 pages and fragments, including the pages discovered in 1975 - published for the first time.

"There's a high demand," Garces said. "Our Web site has crashed because people want to look at it."

---

On the Net: http://www.codexsinaiticus.org

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Christiane said...

IN THE GARDEN

"I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.
Refrain

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

Refrain

I’d stay in the garden with Him
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.

Refrain


Words: Charles Austin Miles (1912)


Story: I read…the story of the greatest morn in history: “The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, while it was yet very dark, unto the sepulcher.” Instantly, completely, there unfolded in my mind the scenes of the garden of Joseph….Out of the mists of the garden comes a form, halting, hesitating, tearful, seeking, turning from side to side in bewildering amazement. Falteringly, bearing grief in every accent, with tear-dimmed eyes, she whispers, “If thou hast borne him hence”… “He speaks, and the sound of His voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” Just one word from his lips, and forgotten the heartaches, the long dreary hours….all the past blotted out in the presence of the Living Present and the Eternal Future. (Thanks to cyberhymnal.org)

Another Story: Here is the account of how this beautiful hymn was written—from the hymn-writer C. Austin Miles himself: One day in April, 1912, 1 was seated in the dark room, where I kept my photographic equipment and organ. I drew my Bible toward me; it opened at my favorite chapter, John 20--whether by chance or inspiration let each reader decide. That meeting of Jesus and Mary had lost none of its power and charm.

As I read it that day, I seemed to be part of the scene. I became a silent witness to that dramatic moment in Mary's life, when she knelt before her Lord, and cried, Rabboni!

My hands were resting on the Bible while I stared at the fight blue wall. As the light faded, I seemed to be standing at the entrance of a garden, looking down a gently winding path, shaded by olive branches. A woman in white, with head bowed, hand clasping her throat, as if to choke back her sobs, walked slowly into the shadows. it was Mary. As she came to the tomb, upon which she placed her hand, she bent over to look in, and hurried away.

John, in flowing robe, appeared, looking at the tomb; then came Peter, who entered the tomb, followed slowly by John.

As they departed, Mary reappeared; leaning her head upon her arm at the tomb, she wept. Turning herself, she saw Jesus standing, so did 1. 1 knew it was He. She knelt before Him, with arms outstretched and looking into His face cried, Rabboni!

I awakened in sunlight, grip­ping the Bible, with muscles tense and nerves vibrating. Under the inspiration of this vision I wrote as quickly as the words could be formed the poem exactly as it has since appeared. That same evening I wrote the music. " (tanbible.com)

Joe Blackmon said...

I submit you either don't understand what he believes, or you have a really warped view of heresy.

Wade

Your concern is touching. I understand exactly what he believes. I heard the man say on a radio interview (I can probably dig up the link if'n you like) where he said that the lake of fire in Revelation is meant to purify people and not for punishment. The Bible is unmistakably clear that (1) God will punish sinners and (2) their punishment is eternal. According to Wm (1) God doesn't punish sin and (2) any perceived punishment (the lake of fire) is only intended to purify folks because he said, and I'm quoting here, "...it's in the presence of the Lamb..." Therefore, he does not understand the gospel. Since his statements contradict what scripture clearly teaches and that Christians worldwide, not just Southern Baptists, affirm to be true, he is also a heretic.

Paula said...

You might be interested in a little thing I wrote about universalist interpretations.

Wade Burleson said...

Paula,

Good article. Always appreciate your thoughts.

Both of you know that I am on the opposite end of universalism, so the following question is not to convince you of universalism, but to simply satisfy some curiosity in my mind about what you two believe regarding the atonement.

Here's the question:

"If God intended to save every single human being through the death of Jesus Christ and the atonement provided through Christ's shed blood, is it then a guarantee that every single human being will be saved, because the atonement is efficacious (able to accomplish God's intention to save)? or can the intentions of God in the atonement of Christ (the redemption of every single human being) be thwarted, because the atonement saves no one, just makes it possible for sinners to be saved?"

Methinks the two of you would respond differently to that question. Paula would say God can intend to save every sinner through the atonement of Christ, but He can be frustrated in His intentions because the atonement does not save anyone - faith in the atonement saves.

Joe would say that God could, if it were His intention, save every single sinner through the atonement because there is power and efficacy in the work of Christ for sinners - but it is not His intention.

I submit to you that Paul Young and the translator of "the source" hold to Joe's view of the efficacy and power of the atonement (it actually saves) and to Paula's views of the extent of the atonement. Therefore, if you combine their beliefs, they are both hopeful universalists.

Do I agree with them?

Absolutely not.

Do I call them heretics?

Absolutely not.

It seems to me they have faith in a God who saves through "the Lamb."

Just food for thought.

Wade

Thu Jul 09, 10:18:00 AM 2009

Joe Blackmon said...

Therefore, if you combine their beliefs, they are both hopeful universalists.

And if a frog had wings....

:-)

Wade Burleson said...

Joe, I'm trying to help you clearly understand the theological position of another brother in Christ that you (unintentionally) misrepresent.

You write,

The Bible is unmistakably clear that (1) God will punish sinners and (2) their punishment is eternal.

Amen, so far so good. But then you allege:

According to William Paul Young (1) God doesn't punish sin and (2) any perceived punishment (the lake of fire) is only intended to purify folks because he said, and I'm quoting here, "...it's in the presence of the Lamb..."

You are wrong in your allegation of Paul Young because of your misperceptions of what Paul Young believes about the punishment, hell and the atonement.

Paul Young FULLY believes what you and I believe the Bible teaches about hell and punishment (the first paragraph above) . . .

He just simply believes (contrary to us) that "the Lamb" has taken the punishment of every sinner in His atonement for sin. He views the atonement of Christ so powerful that those who die without faith in Christ will eventually be brought to see the beauty of the Lamb and bow at the feet of the only Savior given to sinners - and, again, in Paul Young's view, it is EVERY SINGLE SINNER that Jesus atoned for in His death.

So Paul Young takes your powerful view of the atonement and combines it with Paula's universal extent of the atonement and is what could be called a "hopeful" universalist - just like the translator of The Source.

Of course, I disagree with them, but admire their high view of Jesus Christ and His powerful work at Calvary.

Blessings,

Wade

Wade Burleson said...

By the way, for those who are new to discussions regarding the eternal nature of a sinner's punishment, they might ask the question . . .

How can the death at Calvary of our substitute Jesus Christ, dying as He did bearing our punishment, be equal to a sinner spending eternity in hell? He was on the cross for just a few hours, so how is that equal to an eternity in hell if His atonement is FULL PAYMENT for my punishment?

The answer, of course, is in the nature of the one who died.

The ETERNAL Son of God took upon Himself flesh, and died in our stead.

So, either sin is paid for eternally through Jesus our substitute . . .

Or sin is paid for eternally in hell.

Blessings,

Wade

Paula said...

Wade,

Thanks for even counting my article worthy of your time. :-)

Let me try and apply a "logic analyzer" (inside joke to electronic techs) to your question.

If God intended to save every single human being...

I would consider this a proven premise, since there are clear scriptures in support of it.

is it then a guarantee that every single human being will be saved...

I would not consider this to follow logically from the premise, since there are plenty of scriptures against it.

or can the intentions of God... be thwarted, because the atonement... just makes it possible for sinners to be saved

While "thwarted" implies power of man over God, I think there are scriptures which indicate God's sovereign right to allow man the freedom to choose, which necessarily entails the freedom to reject.

It's difficult to distill this whole atonement / salvation issue enough for a blog comment stream but let me at least try.

Looking back at the incident of the serpent lifted up so that the Israelites could look at it in faith and be saved from the serpent bites, we note that this act (of lifting up the bronze serpent) (1) did not have to be repeated, (2) did not have to be looked on continuously, and (3) was not "wasted" even though not all the people took advantage of it.

So it is with Jesus being lifted up on the cross. It was a one-off event (see Hebrews), the placing of individual faith is a one-off event, and not a single drop of Jesus' blood was "wasted" on those who do not look to Him in faith.

Jesus atoned for all mankind (1 John 2:2), but the arbiter of salvation is faith in that atonement (John 3:18, 5:24, 2 Thes. 2:12).

Hope that helps!

Thy Peace said...

Off Topic:

VTMBottomLine > A Ministry Encounter With "A Homosexual".
I've been reading on the blogs a great deal lately about how the Church is going to have to come to grips with the homosexual issue in a fashion that will allow us to minister to people who engage in that behavior without condoning such behavior. I agree. We DO need to think things through toward that goal. Not only homosexual activity but adultery, fornication, pre-marital sex and all other sexual behaviors that are clearly unacceptable from a scriptural perspective need some additional thought. There has to be a way to minister without condemning the person or condoning such behavior.

Wade Burleson said...

Paula,

I completely understand your position.

Thanks for clarifying it for those who read the comment stream, but I needed no help to comrehend what you believe. I am very familiar with it and respect it.

Blessings,

Wade

Wade Burleson said...

Paula, bottom line difference between your belief in the atonement and my belief in the atonement is simply this:

You believe, "Look and live."

I believe, "He died, we live."

Whereas you believe "the look" to the uplifted cross is the cause of salvation, I believe "the look" to the uplifted cross is the result of salvation.

In other words, "God saves sinners" is my motto. I see your motto is, "God makes it possible for sinners to be saved - now sinners, do your thing - believe!."

Of course, depending upon the demonination, the "sinner do your thing" aspect is different. Some say, "Repent and believe" some say, "Repent and be baptized," and some say, "Repent, be baptized, believe and be sanctified," others say, "Repent, be baptized, go to confession, take communion, partake of the church's sacraments," sigh . . .

You get the picture.

A little crude, but that's the difference I see.

Don't misunderstand - I respect all the differences.

I'm just pretty much at rest and peace knowing my salvation is all in the Lord's hands - even what little faith I have seems to me to be a gift.

Jon L. Estes said...

Lydia,

The difference is, from my seat in the stadium, I am not telling you that you are wrong but that I disagree with you. I have stated that I support you in believing what you believe but I just can't go there.

This is different than what is being stated concerning those who believe patriarchy is not sinful.

The desire for patriarchy can be (as the subject of Wades post on the subject). I do not desire this but I understand God's order in this and to be a responsible Christian to the Word of God I must be obedient.

Spurgeon wrote about His wife:

She delights in her husband, in his person, his character, his affection; to her, he is not only the chief and foremost of mankind, but in her eyes he is all-in-all; her heart's love belongs to him, and to him only. She finds sweetest content and solace in his company, his fellowship, his fondness; he is her little world, her Paradise, her choice treasure. At any time, she would gladly lay aside her own pleasure to find it doubled in gratifying him. She is glad to sink her individuality in his. She seeks no renown for herself; his honor is reflected upon her, and she rejoices in it. She would defend his name with her dying breath; safe enough is he where she can speak for him. The domestic circle is her kingdom; that she may there create happiness and comfort, is her lifework; and his smiling gratitude is all the reward she seeks. Even in her dress, she thinks of him; without constraint she consults his taste and considers nothing beautiful which is distasteful to him.

He has many objects in life, some of which she does not quite understand; but she believes in them all, and anything she can do to promote them, she delights to perform. He lavishes love on her, and, in return, she lavishes love on him.

Therein, the husband acts as a tender head; and the wife, as a true spouse, realizes the model marriage-relation, and sets forth what our oneness with the Lord ought to be.

Paula said...

Jon,

I know you were talking to Lydia but this quote is what I find absolutely reprehensible:

She is glad to sink her individuality in his.

Is she not his glory? Is she not his very flesh and bone? Is she not the one to whom he joins, not her to him? Did not Jesus die to set her free, to affirm her personhood? To tell any believer that they must "sing their individuality" into any other but Jesus is nothing short of idolatry and the death of a precious soul He died to redeem and set free.

This is just one of the issue I have with these "great theologians".

Tim Marsh said...

Pastor Wade,

I really appreciated this post and am thankful that you are opened to more theological discussion.

One thing that my theology professor, Fisher Humphreys, always taught was that his theology was "corrigible" or open to correction.

I have always tried to teach what I believe with conviction as well, but also keep in mind the difference between 'believe' and 'know.'

The question that I have for all is why the refusal to engage the New Perpestive on Paul, the Emergent Church, Narrative Theology and Hermeneutics.

I was really disappointed in my theological training at Beeson on this matter. While I received a great education, it was from a reformed slant, and there was not much engagement with these schools of thought, which are Christian.

I have often been disgusted that evangelicals will debate Calvinism and Arminianism until they are blue in the face, and then say we are friends.

However, the above schools of thought are rarely engaged, and when so, there is a very defensive posture.

John Piper's critique of NT Wright is an example.

Jon L. Estes said...

You find it reprehensible that Suzanne Spurgeon found gladness sinking her individuality in his?

Wow, It is probable if Suzanne were here today she might feel extremely sorrowful for you.

I do find it sad that you take this Christian womans individual choice and see it as reprehensible. A place where she found gladness in Christ.

Praying for you, Paula.

Joe Blackmon said...

I was really disappointed in my theological training at Beeson on this matter. While I received a great education, it was from a reformed slant, and there was not much engagement with these schools of thought, which are Christian.

Of course you were, Tim-may. Mainstreamers are always disappointed when someone says that there is absolute truth. I mean, how dare anyone make the claim that the Bible is the word of God and not that it contains the word of God.

There's no reason to have or attempt to have a serious discussion with people who deny foundational truths of scripture (the virgin birth, the sufficiency and authority of scripture, etc...) Doesn't Proverbs warn against answering a fool, or is that just another part of the Bible that really isn't scripture?

Paula said...

Yes, Jon, it is reprehensible to idolize a mere man. It is reprehensible to insult what Jesus did for all, including women. It is reprehensible even if a woman consents to it. That you would not see this is what I pray for you about, Jon, because it shows lack of either comprehension or appreciation for the extent of Jesus' sacrifice. Be insulted by that if you must, but I honestly think your position on this negates what Jesus came to do.

Jon L. Estes said...

Paula,

I disagree with you and I do believe women who interpret scripture as they are to place themselves under their husbands leadership and find joy in doing so know without a doubt there is nothing reprehensible about it.

I can recall some women school teachers who turned their back on my wife and gave her the cold shoulder for being a stay at home mom who homeschooled her kids. These women missed the blessing my wife was receiving, not by participation but by acknowledgment.

Do what you will but don't down women who find submission to their husbands a glorious thing. They might find glory in it.

I hope you can one day see beyond the freedom you desire for all women to believe like you and appreciate the freedom some women find in being submissively different.

Again, I disagree with your conclusions but do not condemn you for having them.

Wade Burleson said...

Joe,

You have gone after Tim but not responded to my two comments addressed to you regarding your misunderstanding of a view held by a brother in Christ.

Can you now admit that maybe you have slighted a brother who has as high a view of the atonement as you, but varies on the extent of the atonement?

Just wondering.

Tim,

I agree.

Discussion is healthy.

If someone is confident in his beliefs, he should never be afraid of challenges.

Blessings,

Wade

Wade Burleson said...

Jon,

I like your spirit.

By the way, I would agree with you. If a wife finds her joy losing herself in her husband - great!!

That's just not the way Paula, or my wife, see it.

I give to them just as much a great! as I do Spurgeon's wife.

I think that's what I hear you saying.

wade

Tim Marsh said...

Joe,

The Bible does warn against answering a fool, but I trust that you are not of that category as I respond to you, in anger though.

I have read your sarcasm on this blog for a year now, and have done so with silent disgust.

You speak before you know (Proverbs says something about that, doesn't it?). I am not a mainstreamer, nor do I deny the virgin birth, the sufficiency of scripture or any of the truths taught in the Bible. Nor do I deny that the Bible is the Word of God (Though I do emphasize John 1:14 when I say this).

The problem is that the I do not agree with you that the Bible teaches the truths you affirm as a Fundamentalist.

That is why I read widely and broadly and believe that theology is best learned in conversation with those I disagree, including you.

That is the disappointment I was alluding to. Indoctrination into a theological tradition and giving pejorative lables to all opponents of that tradition is ignorant, foolish, and borderline evil.

If you want people to take you seriously, articulate your position and engage the conversation, respecting those who disagree with you, yet purport your position thoughtfully and passionately (I have read some of your blog and know that you can do that). However, your sarcasm is merely cause for all of us who read you to dismiss you.

Rex Ray said...

Christiane,
I printed your “In the Garden” and plan to put it on our church bulletin board next Sunday with this note:

I’ve always loved this song but resented “None other has ever known” because I felt it glorified the singer.

But after this explanation, I see the words are Mary’s as she met our Lord. I wish there were more verses and we sang it more often.

L’s, thank you very much…you’ve made my day!

Joe Blackmon said...

Wade,

I maintain, regardless of your assertions to the contrary, that I understand exactly what Wm believes and I have quoted him as proof. I do not agree with your statement that he takes Paulas view of the atonement (that Christ died for all men) and combines it with my view of the atonement. In his book, he writes that God doesn't punish sin, rather that sin is it's own punishment. He writes that it is God's joy to cure it. Further, he stated in a radio interview that Christ was not punished on the cross for sin. Later in that radio interview, he says, several times in fact, that fire is used to depict a purifying process and the fact that the lake of fire is "...in the presence of the Lamb..." is evidence that the lake of fire describe in Revelation is not punative and implies that it is not eternal. I don't have the interview hand right this second but I can get the link.

He wrote it. He said it. Therefore, I am not aware of any slight that would require an apology. I said it and meant exactly what I said.

Wade Burleson said...

No problem Joe.

I will continue to put more stock in my assessment of Paul Young's views after my two hour personal, face to face dialogue with Paul Young on the very subjects of atonement, hell and punishment of sin over and against your interpretation and assessment of his views on those same subjects.

Blessings,

Thy Peace said...

Is she not his glory? Is she not his very flesh and bone? Is she not the one to whom he joins, not her to him? Did not Jesus die to set her free, to affirm her personhood? To tell any believer that they must "sing their individuality" into any other but Jesus is nothing short of idolatry and the death of a precious soul He died to redeem and set free.

Amen.

That is why I read widely and broadly and believe that theology is best learned in conversation with those I disagree, including you.

Amen.

In his book, he writes that God doesn't punish sin, rather that sin is it's own punishment. He writes that it is God's joy to cure it.

If anyone who struggles with sin in their life, is conscious of it, truly knows what a punishment it is. Sometimes even the hell fires or what happens after death seems to happen while alive. And the sad part is one knows that they are truly soulfully dying and the only hope of rescue is from Our Lord Jesus Christ.

My concept of heaven is looking to Our Lord. My concept of hell is looking away from Our Lord.

I understand what The Bible teaches about hell and eternity. But I also understand "wishfully" with Paul Young, for I myself have thought so. But I would defer to The Bible.

Tim Marsh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paula said...

can recall some women school teachers who turned their back on my wife and gave her the cold shoulder for being a stay at home mom who homeschooled her kids. These women missed the blessing my wife was receiving, not by participation but by acknowledgment.

I am a stay at home mom.

I have homeschooled both my children.

I have also had a career.

I have a solid marriage going on 20 years now.

I have missed no blessings.

You err greatly in your presumptions. You err in presuming that because I believe women are adults, because I believe that Paul held up SINGLENESS as the ideal Christian state for those who could accept it, and because I view a man "absorbing" his wive as idolatry on her part and blasphemy on his, that somehow I have condemned women who CHOOSE, as independent adults, to make raising their children their main, full-time job.

You err greatly.

Lydia said...

"The difference is, from my seat in the stadium, I am not telling you that you are wrong but that I disagree with you. I have stated that I support you in believing what you believe but I just can't go there."

Jon, I do not think you can 'hear
yourself' well. Here was a very insulting comment you made to women earlier:

"I know I can come off sarcastic and often times it is intentional but from my cheap seats there seems to be a need for some of the women to have the authoratative word in the discussion. I would even say they want to be boss over the subject."

I am sure you do not see the problem with what you wrote. And that is probably because of the way you believe and your position.

That is ok. Insults or condascention does not bother me. I am mainly speaking to your crediblity in subsequent comments.

You write..

"The desire for patriarchy can be (as the subject of Wades post on the subject). I do not desire this but I understand God's order in this and to be a responsible Christian to the Word of God I must be obedient."

I will forgo any more mention that your view on this benefits and elevates you so that could not possibly be why you see authority in creation order when God never says one Word about creation order meaning authority. Not even in 1 Tim. So, to act as if it is some cross you must bear, is over the top.

You wrote to Paula...

"You find it reprehensible that Suzanne Spurgeon found gladness sinking her individuality in his?"

What I find reprehensible, Jon, is that you would want us to compare ourselves to Suzanne Spurgeon. I can see why the example of Suzanne Spurgeon would delight you. To what end do we compare ourselves to other humans?

My example is Christ. Not another human. Even though Christ was MALE, He is still my example because following Christ transcends gender, roles, rules, talmudic beliefs.

There is actually a lot of this thinking in the SBC. All these young guys wanting to be like Driscoll, Mahaney or some other leader. Why are so many following and emulationg other humans instead of their Messiah?

Lydia said...

"You find it reprehensible that Suzanne Spurgeon found gladness sinking her individuality in his?"

The way it is presented reeks of idolatry, Jon. Any wife should only sink her individuality into Christ.

Idolatry has been taught as quite normal

John Fariss said...

Joe,

I am not up on what Mr. Young does or doesn't believe, and I am not an authority on exactly what he means by his words in question.
What though do you think of John 3:36? In the NIV it is, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." It is very similar from the KJV, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." It is even more dramatic from The Message, which I realize is a paraphrase, but usually pretty sound in spite of that, "That is why whoever accepts and trusts the Son gets in on everything, life complete and forever! And that is also why the person who avoids and distrusts the Son is in the dark and doesn't see life. All he experiences of God is darkness, and an angry darkness at that."

Maybe it's just me, but that sounds reasonably close to the statement you have such a problem with from Mr. Young about sin being its own punishment.

How do you understand John 3:36?

John

believer333 said...

Jon Estes, Paula doesn’t need prayer from you in the way you inferred. You just need to comprehend the meaning and intent of her words.

You quote what Spurgeon says of his wife as if that attitude should be in all women toward their husbands. Paula and others are correct regarding the statement that “She is glad to sink her individuality in his”. That statement is troubling. It sounds like more than just losing herself in her husband. No man or woman, should give up their God created individuality or identity to another human being. I would be interested in how Spurgeon describes his love and devotedness toward his wife. If it were of the same depth of devotion and losing himself in her, then cause for alarm would be lessoned.

God gives each human being individuality because He wants each human being to grow up into the maturity of the man Christ Jesus. God delights in the gifts, skills, mental perceptions and all the things that make each person a person. In HIM we become who we are. No other person can take the place of Christ in our lives.

Jon L. Estes said...

Lydia,

If you were insulted, I apologize, that was not my intent. Maybe I am misreading but there are accusations being made (male supremacists) when that is not the case. This label being thrown out there and not being spoken against from those who think as you do, speaks loudly.

I have stated and will state again. I support you to believe what you do without condemnation (OK, I threw in a TIC - very clearly identified as such, but no intent to demonize). Is is this comment made specifically which says that those who differ from such belief need to listen to me and line up to my belief (non-patriarchy). To do less than this means you are a male supremacist. The tone I read is saying that one side has the final authority on this and you better line up or else you are a ___________ .

These words come across as some want to be boss of the discussion and everyone else better line up or the wrath is coming.

If these women are married and their marriage works for them their way, who am I to tell them to do it differently. But if Suzanne Spurgeon's marriage works for them, who are you to say it should be done differently. Now, if you were the authority (boss), people might listen. Alas, you are not but I support your right to believe what you choose without condemnation, Can you do the same and encourage others who call names, to do the same.

believer333 said...

"Episcopalian/Anglican to post here.
But Reverend Burleson in this posting of yours you certainly sound like an Episcopalian."


Michael L.,

Just wanted you to know that I appreciate Episcopalian and Anglican fellow believers. Some of my friends are such.

Aloha! :)

Jon L. Estes said...

333,

This is where you seem to miss what I am saying. Could it be that Suzanne Spurgeon found her God given identity in living the way she did? It sounds as if she did.

My problem is when ones beliefs are put out there on subjects such as this as the only way it can be.

If those on this forum do not want to be in a patriarchal family structure, so be it but to infer that anyone in such a structure is wrong is not helpful to the discussion.

Jon L. Estes said...

This will be my last comment on this subject. It seems some would be better off without having to deal with opposing comments.

I pray you enjoy your discussion and will become more willing to allow differences of beliefs on this subject to be discussed rationally.

I admit I did not always do that myself but I will step back, get out of the way and let those of like mind enjoy the discussion.

believer333 said...

John Fariss, I hope you don’t mind if I chime in on your questions to Wade. ☺
On the gift of faith versus the faith of a believer. I do believe they are different. The gifting of faith by the HS is a supernatural faith operating from the influence of the HS. I’ve had that from time to time. Sometimes, I think some of the other giftings need that special faith that believes and know without seeing any proff, in order for one to proceed in doing what God has called one to do.
But the average believer grows in personal faith daily and yearly. It is not wrong to have doubts and questions. That is how we grow. It’s what we do with them as believers that helps us grow or not grow. I have a poem hung on my wall:

”Growth seeks to break through layers of reasonings. And with each bit of growing there is a little pain”

To my thinking, that typifies my walk with God. My finite mind must stretch a bit as I grow closer and deeper into His omnipotent presence. And often that feeling of painful stretching is my faith growing deeper in God.

believer333 said...

Jon, please don't take your thoughts and walk away hoarding them to yourself. Disagreement is not always bad. :)

I do agree with you that if a husband and wife truly enjoy the patriarchal structure and can flourish within it, then who am I to complain. However, what I thought was being stated in the Spurgeon example, was that ALL women should be willing to lose their individuality in their husbands. There are many men who simply would be appalled at a woman wanting to do that. It would not appeal to them at all.

Paula said...

Jon,

You were asked how it can be fine for a male to be assertive and throw his personal convictions around, but if a female does it it's "bossing". You never answered. The double standard is overshadowing your criticisms.

So I'm glad you're done with this topic, because it means no more having to endure that double standard. Your own unwillingness to hear the other side will not be missed.

Lydia said...

Jon, I have been reading you for a long time. If you have actually changed your position that your interpretation of a few proof texts MIGHT NOT be the only interpretation, then good for you. That is edifying to the whole Body of Christ.


I am glad to hear that a secondary doctrine will no longer be presented as a primary salvic doctrine for over one half of all believers.

Believers who love Jesus Christ with their whole heart and mind are on both sides of this one issue. It should never be presented as a requirement for salvation or sanctification.

The only difference between us is that my interpretation only elevates Christ. Not one human over another. If that sounds authoritative, then what can I say? Your interpretation limits the exercising of certain spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit to over one half of all believers. My interpretation does not limit this for you or elevate on part of the Body over another.

believer333 said...

"Could it be that Suzanne Spurgeon found her God given identity in living the way she did? It sounds as if she did."

How can our God given identity be found in anything other than our relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Do you have any Scriptures to support that thought?

John Fariss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Fariss said...

Believer333,

AMEN and AMEN!

John

linda said...

The basic premise that there are some things we can know, and others are matters of faith, is sound.

The rubber hits the road when it comes to discerning which things are which, does it not?

This seems like a back door way to again slam those that think women's ordination is something to divide over.

What breaks my heart is the name calling against those that believe in all sincerity that the Bible forbids women's ordination. Terms like male supremacist (earlier in the week), patriarchalist, and hierarchialist are deliberate attempts to smear and miss the point, in my humble opinion.

Even more sadly, using such terms is the very opposite of what real feminism is all about.

Real feminism values all people and all roles equally. This whole women's ordination flap ASSUMES the pastorate and traditional male roles are better roles, and therefore it is mean and demeaning to refuse them to women. It ASSUMES that women in the know will aspire to those "better" roles.

I am now a part of the Church of the Nazarene. Women who believe they are called to minister can train and receive ordination. Churches have pastors recommended by the DS but have the final say or vote in who they get. Those folks opposing women's ordination may vote no, those in favor may vote yes.

That most churches are pastored by men in no way indicts Nazarene churches. The fact is there are more men applying for the jobs.

More women want part time pastorates, or decide they want to stay home with the kids. Those choices are also honored and valued.

But Pastor Wade, something smells rotten here, with all due respect. If you REALLY accept women in leadership but it REALLY is not a sticking point for you, live it out and drop the subject.

Otherwise you come across as SAYING you can honor the beliefs of others, then turn around and belittle them for those beliefs.

I can say this: I believe the scripture makes it clear there are general rules and general callings--such as father's to lead, mothers to homemake and train the children, and rules as to how to deal with government.

And then I see God move time and again to sovereignly choose someone outside the "rules".

My personal practice is to trust the scripture. Yes, I study different translations, different scholars, different opinions. But at the end of the session is up to me to discern what I believe the Holy Spirit says, and stand by it.

I tend to trust the ploughboy over the scholar, especially when it takes many twists and turns to come up with a meaning that is the polar opposite of plain scriptural reading.

Paula said...

What breaks my heart is the name calling against those that believe in all sincerity that the Bible forbids women's ordination. Terms like male supremacist (earlier in the week), patriarchalist, and hierarchialist are deliberate attempts to smear and miss the point, in my humble opinion.

It has gone both ways. What breaks my heart is when people think it doesn't and try to paint the other side as the villain. "Liberal", "feminist", "bossy" don't qualify as name calling?

And words like "patriarchy" are not slams at all but accurate referrals to the teachings. What are we supposed to call it when the flesh of all things is used to put one believer over another? And it has not been these evil "feminists" doing all the smearing and avoiding arguments, as anyone can see from reading the comments.

Lin said...

"Could it be that Suzanne Spurgeon found her God given identity in living the way she did? It sounds as if she did."

How can our God given identity be found in anything other than our relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Do you have any Scriptures to support that thought?

Thu Jul 09, 03:30:00 PM 2009

Oh that every child, male and female would be taught this!

linda said...

Paula--we must agree to disagree.

Although we both know that there are sane, good hearted, women and men who are feminists. And we both know there are those who see every issue through the "women as victim" lense.

Patriarchy implies men in charge, and I certainly agree with you there are men and women who believe that.

But can you admit that there are complementarians who are not patriarchialists? It is true. Some value both the traditional female role and the traditional male role equally.

Just because they disagree with your point of view does not mean they demean women.

Paula said...

But can you admit that there are complementarians who are not patriarchialists? It is true. Some value both the traditional female role and the traditional male role equally.

Either men have spiritual and social privilege or they do not. The degrees of this flesh-based privilege vary widely, but it's all varying on the same side: male entitlement. Splitting hairs on someone's degree of male entitlement isn't the issue, it's the very existence of that entitlement.

And why all this emphasis on tradition? Isn't it scripture we're supposed to be getting our values from?

Just because they disagree with your point of view does not mean they demean women.

Whether they intend to demean women or not, that is what their viewpoint does. If a woman can never "have the final say" then she is a child. If a woman must have some mystical "covering" of a man, all based on the flesh, then she is a spiritual inferior. If a woman is labeled rebellious if she doesn't play certain alleged "roles", then she is outside of the gospel that sets only men completely free.

And why is it that only I am forbidden to passionately defend my point of view? Why is it that men are never called "bossy" for having personal convictions? This double standard is what stands between the two sides and prevents communication.

Tim Marsh said...

Pastor Wade,

Thank you for your response. I am excited about the theological discussions on your blog, the diversity represented and the desire by all to love God with our minds.

Thank you for creating this kind of environment. I looking forward to this non-political year on your forum.

God bless!

believer333 said...

"patriarchalist, and hierarchialist are deliberate attempts to smear and miss the point, in my humble opinion."

Those terms are not smears. They are just as descriptive (and perhaps moreso) than the terms complementarian and egalitarian.

Patriarchy -
1. a form of social organization in which the father is the supreme authority in the family, clan, or tribe and descent is reckoned in the male line, with the children belonging to the father's clan or tribe.
2. a society, community, or country based on this social organization.

Hierarchy -
1. any system of persons or things ranked one above another.
2. government by ecclesiastical rulers.
3. the power or dominion of a hierarch.
4. an organized body of ecclesiastical officials in successive ranks or orders: the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

Mark Heath said...

Pastor Wade, this is an interesting post. However, a little philosophical insight seems appropriate. Knowledge is justified, true belief. Thus, one cannot know something you do not believe. However, it is possible to infer from this truth that one can believe something that is not true and/or justified, which would not constitute as knowledge. Thus, you are correct to say that knowledge and belief are not to be equated. Yet, they are not mutually exclusive either.

Michael Ruffin said...

OK, here's a thought on this election business from someone who admittedly doesn't give it a lot of thought, figuring that the good Lord knows what the good Lord is up to.

(1) Is it not true that in the OT Israel is "elected" by God?

(2) Is it not true that not every person in the nation of Israel, the nation elected by God, was "saved" and thus would not be ultimately included in the "elect"?

(3) Is it not true that the OT concept of the "remnant" may come into play here; that while the nation is elect it is finally only those who respond to God's grace with faith and obedience are finally "elect" and thus "finally elect" and "remnant" are the same thing?

(4) Is it not true that we have to balance Paul's "all Israel will be saved" with his comments about who the true descandants of Abraham are--i.e. those who have faith, who for all intents and purposes constitute the "remnant" and thus the "finally elect" from among the "elect"?

(5) Is it not true that we might conclude from this that God's elect are in one sense all of those who have the opportunity to respond to God's call and grace (in the OT that's literally all of Israel, maybe given the NT it is everybody) but that only those who do in fact respond become the "finally elect" (yeah, I know--I've coined a non-biblical term) that is in effect the "ultimate remnant"?

It just seems to me, moderate that I am, that we have to accept the fact that the Bible teaches God's election and human free will and that the Bible is more comfortable with the tension than are we western-oriented rationalists.

Well, as we say down here in GA, "Sic 'em."

believer333 said...

"(5) Is it not true that we might conclude from this that God's elect are in one sense all of those who have the opportunity to respond to God's call and grace (in the OT that's literally all of Israel, maybe given the NT it is everybody) but that only those who do in fact respond become the "finally elect" (yeah, I know--I've coined a non-biblical term) that is in effect the "ultimate remnant"?"

This fits in with my thinking. In short, Christ died for all humanity. Those who do finally choose to accept His free offer are the elect. Those who stay the elect until death are the 'finally elect'.

It is indeed a tension, a tension built on the limitations of our finite knowledge.

younglandmarker said...

Wade,

I am new to posting on this blog, but I am Jonathan Melton. I am a second-year student (in the fall) at Louisiana Missionary Baptist Institute and Seminary in Minden, LA.

On the subject of limited atonement, how would you answer 1 John 2:2: "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for
the sins of the whole world
."

I would have to agree with Paula on this: Just because you do not believe in limited atonement does not automatically mean you are a universalist that believes all will be saved in the end, nor an Arminian, who believes that it is possible to lose one's salvation.

believer 333,

"This fits in with my thinking. In short, Christ died for all humanity. Those who do finally choose to accept His free offer are the elect. Those who stay the elect until death are the 'finally elect'."

So, in your thinking, it is possible to at one point be part of the elect, and at some point lose that standing and not be part of the "finally elect?"

D.R. said...

Tim Marsh,

I am sorry that you are disappointed in your theological education at Beeson, but I don't think it's fair for you to say:

The question that I have for all is why the refusal to engage the New Perpestive on Paul, the Emergent Church, Narrative Theology and Hermeneutics.

There has been much engagement on these topics. You mention Piper, but Piper's book was meant to be written for a more popular format and to address specific statements made by N.T. Wright.

There are plenty of other resources on the New Perspective out there. Here is a list I obtained from Theopedia.


Getting the Gospel Right: Assessing the Reformation and New Perspectives on Paul, Cornelis P. Venema (2006). ISBN 085151927X
Justification And Variegated Nomism, 2 volumes, edited by D.A. Carson, P.T. O'Brien & M.A. Seifrid ISBN 0801027926
Where Is Boasting: Early Jewish Soteriology and Paul's Response in Romans 1-5, by Simon J. Gathercole ISBN 0802839916
Justification And The New Perspectives On Paul: A Review And Response, by Guy Prentiss Waters ISBN 0875526497
Revisiting Paul's Doctrine of Justification: A Challenge to the New Perspective, by Peter Stuhlmacher, Donald A. Hagner ISBN 0830826610
Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The "Lutheran" Paul and His Critics, by Stephen Westerholm ISBN 0802848095
Misunderstanding Paul?: Responding to the New Perspective, by J. Ligon Duncan ISBN 1581347200
Paul and the New Perspective: Second Thoughts on the Origin of Paul's Gospel, by Seyoon Kim ISBN 0802849741
Paul, the Law, and the Covenant, by A. Andrew Das ISBN 1565634632


The same holds true for postmodern hermeneutics, the Emergent Church, Open Theism, etc.

Again, let me point you to Theopedia on these subjects. They often have great links to resources.

If you were only a Master's level student at Beeson, then you probably wouldn't engage with these topics unless you did more in depth classroom work. These are usually addressed in Ph.D level work in most traditional seminaries. Master's programs are not created with that sort of depth of engagement in mind.

D.R. said...

Wade,

You asked earlier how universalism was a heresy. Seriously?

First, let's begin with a definition of heresy from Michael Horton (via Tom Ascol):

"[A]ny teaching that directly contradicts the clear and direct witness of the Scriptures on a point of salvific importance."

Baptists, for their entire history, have viewed universalism as a heresy. The Anabaptists actually burned people for this.

In Early Church history, Universalism was first viewed as a heresy with Justinian's critiques in 543 A.D. This was followed by the condemnation of it as an anathema by the 2nd Council of Constantinople in 553 A.D.

Since then it has been "universally" accepted as a heretical view by orthodox Christians.

Hope this answers your question sufficiently. My question to you is, "How could you allow a universalist to speak at your church (from the pulpit no less!)?"

Do you think Paul would have done such a thing? the Apostle John ? Justin Martyr? John Chrysostem? Augustine? Calvin? Luther? Fuller? Gill? Spurgeon?

Doubtful.

believer333 said...

"So, in your thinking, it is possible to at one point be part of the elect, and at some point lose that standing and not be part of the "finally elect?""

Heb. 6: 4It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because[b]to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

If one has been enlightened, and tasted the heavenly gift, shared in the HS, tasted the goodness of God's Word, then he has become part of the elect. This is why there is no more room for repentance again once they should fall away.

That is my take on it. It has been said by some that if they fall away then they were never 'in' to begin with. But this Scripture belies that. For if they were never 'in', then they would still have opportunity for repentance. The reason there is no more opportunity, is because they have doubly crucified Christ by their choice to walk away from God's unspeakable gift after actually tasted of it's goodness.

Paula said...

Hi believer333,

Part of the problem in citing this passage in Hebrews is that it is not usually cited in its full context. The writer has been going along about Jesus and his Melchizedek priesthood, and will pick it up again as if nothing happened in ch. 7. So this whole section is a kind of "time out" to deal with an issue of maturity before continuing on the more academic discussion.

The passage begins with an expression of exasperation at the readers' lack of spiritual maturity, and it ends with a reminder of the finished work of Christ. That this is all addressed to believers is clear not only from those two "bookends" but also from the statement in vs. 9: "Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation." So it follows that what has been discussed up to that verse are in contrast to things having to do with salvation; that is, they do not apply to the saved.

The question is exactly what is meant by "once enlightened, sampled the gift, partaking of the Spirit, sampling the declaration of God". While an argument can be made for it referring to Jews who were near to God, heard the gospel, and turned away (this is a letter to Hebrews after all), I think it is referring to salvation. But look at where it's stated: after a rebuke about immaturity.

When I consider the timing of this passage, along with the statements about Jesus' finished work, I take it to mean that the writer is saying "You people need to stop sitting on first base and get moving. Stop worrying about losing your salvation, because it can't happen. You'd literally have to put Jesus back on the cross to be saved again if that were possible."

I've talked to people who are very adamant that they were truly saved, then truly lost, then truly saved again. They have no doubt that they actually had the Spirit, lost Him, then regained Him. Yet not one of them has ever been able to explain how they came up with another sacrifice for their second salvation. In addition, much more than salvation happens at the moment we are saved. At the end of this article is a chart of all the things that happen, and I would be interested in hearing anyone say how every one of those things can be lost.

Tim Marsh said...

D.R.,

Thank you for your response. Please note that I said that I was disappointed that Beeson did not engage other schools of thought.

Overall, I cannot think of a better place a young "Wade Burleson" could get a Baptist-Reformed education.

Beeson is a great school for ministry preparation. However, I think that their engagement of the New Perspective and at least making students aware of other schools of thought is weak.

Sorry if my comments came across critically.

believer333 said...

Paula ,

Excellent thoughts. This is not something I will live and die on, but I do have a few thoughts as to why I view it this way at this time.

I view what you described as backsliding, something spoken of in Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and probably inferred elsewhere. This fits with your observation that the statement in Hebrews is after a rebuke about immaturity. The backslider does not completely put off and reject God though he/she turns back to the world and sin for a time. God says that He will cure the backslider. I suspect the backslider is more like one whose sins overtake them for a time, yet whose heart longs to be where God wants them.

I agree with much of what you said, even that we cannot lose our salvation. But I do believe we can of our own free will reject Christ. God does not force us to remain with Him. And I did observe what had all the appearances of a man who had tasted of God’s HS, yet turned completely unrepentantly back to the world to gross wickedness and even hate of Jesus. Actually, I met a woman who seemed to have done that also. She truly hated Jesus and was willing to do wicked things to hurt God’s people. And yet, at one time she considered herself one of God’s own. In her case the turning point seemed to be that God did not answer some very important prayers the way she wanted. Whether she will come back, I don’t know. I watched her life for a good 10 years and she just went deeper into wickedness. Only God knows the heart. So, I don’t know the answer.

This is not something I’ve researched deeply. But I’ve not heard anything to cause me to drop my thoughts on it entirely, yet.

believer333 said...

I wasn't finished typing. :)

It may be that the Hebrews passage covers both backsliding and walking away. If one backslides but does not turn back, he has in effect walked away.

Paula said...

I agree, this issue isn't something to divide over. Neither side exhibits better quality of Christian living than the other, and they both would agree that the important thing is not trying to see how much we can get away with and still make it to heaven. That's why I stress reconciliation in gospel presentations, because the person who is saved out of fear is on much shakier ground than the one who is saved out of wanting to "get right with God".

But I do still offer that challenge about the list of things that happen when we are saved, and about how some people believe they were saved more than once.

believer333 said...

"But I do still offer that challenge about the list of things that happen when we are saved, and about how some people believe they were saved more than once."

I would say that they were backslidden and were healed of their backsliding. One cannot be saved more than once. When we are in active sin, the HS is silent. It is quenched. When we turn back toward God, repenting and putting off the known sin, then we release the HS within us. I suspect that is what they were sensing.

D.R. said...

Tim,

I know only a little about Beeson (had a couple of friends go there some time back), but other than Timothy George, I don't know any theology professors there who are engaging in these current theological debates.

Now, at Southern Seminary, I do think you would have found more engagement on the issues you mentioned. On the New Perspective, several professors were beginning to engage in writing. Two in particular - Mark Seifrid and Thomas Schreiner.

I think much of the exposure you get to these topics depends on what the particular professor you are taking cares about at the time. Regardless, usually these sorts of things come up in Ph.D seminars rather than Master's level classes. What I saw at Southern was more of trickle down effect from the Ph.D students, as well as numerous Master's level students who took a particular interest in those discussions.

That's a huge contrast from my work at New Orleans Baptist Seminary where we only debated Calvinism - and sometimes discussed Open Theism.

Lydia said...

"Now, at Southern Seminary, I do think you would have found more engagement on the issues you mentioned. On the New Perspective, several professors were beginning to engage in writing. Two in particular - Mark Seifrid and Thomas Schreiner."

I would not call what SBTS does on the NP as 'engagement' at all. They convened a 'forum' for students in order to trash Wrights new book that had not even been published. The students who had no opportunity to read it before the forum.

I call that indoctrination not academia. And I am no fan of Wright.

There is an interesting comment stream on Denny Burkes blog about it.

D.R. said...

Lydia,

Denny addresses any concerns about 10 comments down. IT WAS A FORUM. Of course, obviously they are going to be critical of the book. Did you expect them to agree with it? And remember, this was held at Boyce College.

Even if you had a problem with this particular forum - one forum isn't all that the professors teach and speak about concerning the New Perspective (especially on the Master's level). It was a hot topic because of the buzz it generated and thus they did a forum. But a forum isn't a conference and it wasn't meant to be comprehensive. It was a few professors giving their opinion.

Aren't you assuming a whole here - namely, that's all the SBTS and its professors have ever said about the New Perspective? Have you ever read anything Mark Seifrid has written about it? Tom Schreiner? Have you sat in the NT Theology classes? I think you are making a lot of assumptions based on some comments you read on one blog about one forum. Do you really think that is enough information to make an informed opinion about how SBTS engages the topic of New Perspective?

BTW, have you read any of the 10 or so books I posted on the New Perspective? Or James Dunn's books? Or E.P Sanders works? Anything outside of NT Wright, that's not on the internet?

Lydia said...

"Do you really think that is enough information to make an informed opinion about how SBTS engages the topic of New Perspective? "

DR, Here are facts: SBTS, an academic institution, had a 'forum' on Wrights NEW UNPUBLISHED book for their students who COULD NOT READ the book before the forum. There was only one view with all the forum members: Anti Wright.

Take away from that what you will.

"BTW, have you read any of the 10 or so books I posted on the New Perspective? Or James Dunn's books? Or E.P Sanders works? Anything outside of NT Wright, that's not on the internet?"

DR, Retract your claws. I am not going to get into a my 'scholarship is better than your scholarship' debate with you.

I made it clear in my original comment to you that I am NOT a fan of Wright.

But I do expect Academic Institutions, even Theological ones, to preform like institutions of scholarship.

D.R. said...

So what you are saying Lydia is that based on your knowledge of one FORUM at Boyce College and little to no personal knowledge of the subject yourself, you feel qualified to declare that Southern Seminary doesn't engage the topic of the New Perspective on Paul adequately enough. And that in fact, based on your vast knowledge, they are in fact indoctrinating and not educating (yet, you've never sat in a class there or interacted with any of their students or faculty on the subject)?

Is that what you are saying?

And you still feel qualified to pass judgment that Southern is not "preform"ing like an institution of scholarship?

Really?

Tim Marsh said...

D.R.,

You could add Frank Thielman to your reading list. He is an excellent NT scholar and just published a NT Theology.

But, yeah, in class he did not engage those debates. Glad to hear your perspective about SBTS.

Lydia said...

"So what you are saying Lydia is that based on your knowledge of one FORUM at Boyce College"

How they present the forum is pretty important for an institution of higher learning. A stacked panel of anti Wright folks about a yet to be published book the students could not read?

Just the fact they would do such a thing speaks volumes about the academic integrity at SBTS.


" and little to no personal knowledge of the subject yourself,"

That is your opinion based on the fact I won't get into a discussion of Wright. His NP is NOT the main point of my comment. I have made it clear TWICE that I am not a fan of Wright.

How they presented the "forum" on Wright's latest book that had yet to be published was my main point.

" you feel qualified to declare that Southern Seminary doesn't engage the topic of the New Perspective on Paul adequately enough."

No, I said something different...and I will repeat...they stacked a forum about a NOT published book for students who could NOT read the book before attending. I cannot understand why you cannot see that and are trying to argue about everything else.

How could the students ask intelligent questions if they could not read the book before the forum? How do they know the book was presented accurately? Are the students not intelligent enough to read and make distinctions?

What was the real purpose of the forum?

" And that in fact, based on your vast knowledge, they are in fact indoctrinating and not educating (yet, you've never sat in a class there or interacted with any of their students or faculty on the subject)?"

How do you know I have never gone there? How do you know whether I know a ton of students/profs/staff or not?

"nd you still feel qualified to pass judgment that Southern is not "preform"ing like an institution of scholarship?"

Absolutely. It is not rocket science when looking at that forum.

And also because we are a Holy Priesthood. Which is why it is ok for you to pass judgement on me as lacking the intelligence to make judgements on academic integrity. Right? Or, is there another reason it is ok for you to pass judgements on me?

Sorry about the typo but at least it gave you the opportunity to feel more superior. Glad to be of service.

Lydia said...

http://www.dennyburk.com/?p=4108

Link to the NT Wright "Debate". I forgot that Denny Burke called it a debate. It was anything but since there was no NT Wright representation.

This passes for higher education in our seminaries? Students will think this constitutes a 'debate'?

The comments are interesting. Others 'get it', too.

Word verification: Cheabo. that just about sums it up.

Thy Peace said...

Denny Burk > Schreiner, Seifrid, and Vickers Assess Piper-Wright Debate at Boyce College.

Denny Burk > Assessing the Piper-Wright Debate on Justification.

Tim Marsh said...

Lydia, ThyPeace, DR,

I just read through the comments on link to the Wright 'debate.'

I would be concerned to call that 'scholarship.'

Wright poses the point in many of his writings that his goal is to read Paul, regardless of the where the chips fall.

Piper and others are concerned about the Reformation's articulation of justification by faith.

As a Baptist, I must go with the text, regardless of what doctrines are re-articulated. To 'defend' justification by faith alone is to defend tradition.

If that is what scripture says and the reformers got it right, then engage Wright at the level of the text.

As I wrote earlier, there is much defensiveness and hostility toward Wright because theological traditions are at stake. However, argue from the text.

Lydia, as Joel Marcus of Duke Div said in a lecture: "Wright can be wrong too."

Wright is merely one New Perspective representative. There are many and along with them, many variations on their readings of Paul.

For what its worth...

Lydia said...

"Lydia, as Joel Marcus of Duke Div said in a lecture: "Wright can be wrong too."

I totally agree. My concern is what passes for scholarship at SBTS.

D.R. said...

Lydia,

My main concern is that you seem to be trying to libel Southern Seminary by asserting that on the basis of one (again) FORUM at BOYCE COLLEGE, you can conclude that the SEMINARY as a whole (and apparently from you comments, not just on NP evaluations) has shotty scholarship.

That's simply absurd and illogical.

For all that you said, you still haven't proven that you have any more knowledge about the NP or about Southern Seminary than what you read on one blog about one forum regarding one topic and one issue within that topic.

You said that I didn't know your interaction with Southern. So then tell us - have you ever sat in on any theological classes at Southern or had any discussions with multiple Master's level students at Southern on the topic of NP? What other knowledge can you bring to this table other than your opinion based upon reading some comments on a blog?

BTW, prior to your first comment on this subject here, did you listen to the forum in its entirety? Or did you just read the comments? Have you read Wright's book and can you evaluate personally whether or not the Professors at the forum were being fair or not?

You see the answers to those questions are important to what you wrote, because you put yourself in a position of judging the merits of the Seminary's scholarship. You should at least prove your own merits here to make such a judgment call. Otherwise, why should anyone accept YOUR OPINION?

A couple of final thoughts. Denny mentioned before this forum that "the event is aimed at our Boyce College undergraduates." So you need to put your guns down toward the Seminary. It wasn't even held there or designed for them.

Secondly, you seem to falsely accuse Denny Burk of calling this forum a debate. Where exactly did he say that, because I can't find that anywhere?

Finally, no one's passing judgment on your intelligence, but rather your qualifications to make declarations about the quality of scholarship at Southern Seminary. You could be intelligent and still not have the qualifications to judge the merits of an institution.

Richard Dawkins is intelligent, but I don't want him picking my fantasy football team, or assessing the Wright-Piper debate.

Lydia said...

DR,

The fact that an institution of higher learning would present such a 'debate' on an unpublished book to students says quite a bit. It was not a debate and was hardly fair. It was not a learning opportunity but an indoctrination session.

My point was to warn folks of what SBTS is willing to do. And what they call a 'debate' or even a forum that is stacked and the students did not even have the opportunity to READ the unpublished book being discussed.

If that passes for scholarship with you, then fine.

You can continue to try and insult me, make this about something it is not, etc. Anything to get the focus off FACTS of what they did with this 'debate'. Good luck with that.

Paula said...

I'm no insider on any of this, but I do know one thing: too many Christians are willing to turn a blind eye to red flags just to protect seriously flawed institutions.

I agree with Lydia that a kangaroo court like this "debate" is legitimate grounds for distrusting the whole thing. Remember that verse about "a little leaven"? Was this an isolated glitch or the tip of the iceberg? From what I've read here and elsewhere, I'd say the latter.

We have got to stop sweeping things like this under the rug. The people who staged this event should come clean to the students about their motives and methods. I am sure that had the topic been the roasting of, say, one of the men on that panel (someone with power and status), heads would be rolling by now.

I once had a college prof of tenure and credentials to the max, for ancient history. One day he said, with a straight face, "My sisters are conservatives, but only because they are uneducated." Should he have been allowed to get away with that? Absolutely not, but of course we all knew that he would; he was untouchable. It was unprofessional and childish but people sharing his political views obviously didn't care.

In the same way, people who call themselves scholars and leaders have to be above the sort of propaganda stunt like this "debate", especially if they call themselves Christians. Where is accountability? Where is professionalism? Where is love?

Tim Marsh said...

Paula, Lydia and DR,

Your discussion is very interesting.

Just my two cents: most professors of religion bring their presuppositions to their academic work.

Pastor Wade's post today about how a complementarian and an egalitarian defined kephale. I wonder if both papers began with the conclusion in mind.

With that being said, I have read the works of many that begin with the end in mind. It is not always easy to spot this, but when I do, instantly, the writer loses some credibility in my eyes, though not all, when I discover that the author has begun with the end in mind and when the author is merely defending a tradition.

Though you are citing SBTS as a case, I think that it is elsewhere as well. Even at Duke, it was obvious when a presuppositional concern of the professor influenced the professors "academic study" of a particular text.

Paula said...

And so it is will all aspects of society, for all of history (which of course is "written by the victors").

The trick is to see through the propaganda.

And the "victors" don't like being exposed.

believer333 said...

I know what you mean Tim. It is not easy to do research with a mindset that is open to any conclusion.

However, may I point out respectfully with a smile, that when one writes a paper they had best know where the beginning and end of their argument is. While writing is no place to do the research. First do the research and then share the conclusions.

Problems are that many don't really do the research honestly

D.R. said...

Lydia,

This is my last word on the subject.

Please answer this question:

Can you show me where this forum was ever billed as a "debate" and where Denny Burk called it "debate"?

Unless you can show where this was a debate, continuing to accuse Boyce College, Southern Seminary, and its professors of calling that is simply a false accusation. And there's no debate on what the Bible says about that.

Either cease making false accusations or back them up. And again no one is insulting you, just asking for facts. If that's insulting, then something is seriously wrong.