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

Pursue the Greater Graces and the Greatest Gifts

Dr. Molly Marshall, a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and former professor at Southern Theological Seminary, is now the President of Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee, Kansas. Dr. Marshall has a blog entitled Trinitarian Soundings. Recently, Dr. Marshall wrote the following insightful blog:

"The Apostle ends 1 Corinthians 12 with the following exhortation: “But strive for the greater gifts.” As summation of his discussion of how the many members of the Body of Christ can work together and as prelude to the beloved next chapter on love, St. Paul knows that sustained unity amidst diversity taxes even the best among us. At the first hint of conflict persons nervously move away from one another, fearful of what might damage the relationship. Yet they ensure that the relationship will be damaged by refusing to enter into transformative conflict. The most mature relationships are characterized by conflict, not forced unanimity which subjugates one party to another.

Richard P. Olson, Distinguished Professor of Pastoral Theology at Central, has recently published Love Letter to a Conflicted Church. He offers distilled wisdom from over 40 years in pastoral ministry on how to engage conflict constructively. He writes: “…there are redemptive and transforming possibilities in conflict. Through conflict a person can become more self aware, articulate, and personally empowered. Not only that—one can learn to see the other as a human being, a child of God, one with struggles and needs much like one’s own. Indeed, redemption can happen in conflict when one obeys Jesus to love both neighbor and self” (p. 21). These are words to live by, indeed to “fight” by. I commend his insightful work.

Another scholar I respect, Mitch Carnell, a Baptist layperson in Charleston, S.C., has issues a clarion call for a different kind of discourse than what populates the varied radio and cable news talk shows. In his book Christian Civility in an Uncivil World, he suggests that a challenge greater than the political arena may be in bringing people of faith together to practice the way of civility. The purpose of his book is “to explore ways for people of faith to talk to and about each other in a way that glorifies God and advances God’s kingdom” (p.14). Our stewardship of words matters.

While I am not sure what all the Apostle had in mind when he referred to the “greater gifts,” surely he was urging the Corinthians (and those who listen to the epistle today) to learn how to live with others respectfully. In Pauline theology, one of the functions of the Spirit of God is to assist persons in bearing the strains of their differences in a constructive way. Learning to “speak the truth in love” and not “to think too highly of oneself” are grace gifts worth striving for in our day."


Excellent article! I long for the day when we conservative inerrantists, particularly those in positions of strategic leadership in the SBC, will write similar articles.

Nobody is saying we shouldn't take strong stands for truth. We should. But we should pursue the greater graces and the greatest gifts more than any other.

In His Grace,

Wade

71 comments:

Darrell said...

Let me be the first to say AMEN!This article is a great post by a great mind in Dr Marshall. Thank you Wade for reminding the Battling Baptists that that we need to learn from the Bible and not just argue over it.

Gary Snowden said...

Having been privileged to hear Dr. Marshall in recent years at several gatherings in the Midwest, I've never failed to be impressed by her biblical scholarship and depth of commitment to Christ. Thanks for sharing the article.

Kevin M. Crowder said...

"St. Paul knows that sustained unity amidst diversity taxes even the best among us. At the first hint of conflict persons nervously move away from one another, fearful of what might damage the relationship. Yet they ensure that the relationship will be damaged by refusing to enter into transformative conflict." ~MM

This is NOT what Paul is talking about in the passage. He, beginning at 12:27, is showing us Spiritual divisions in the Body based purely on calling and gifting. But goes on to suggest that we must not, who have not been directly called with these "higher gifts," sit back and allow the more gifted to do all the work. But rather we must ALL desire the higher gifts, thereby building the body up in love.

The first car dealership I ever worked for made each new employee spend a day or two in EVERY other position within the dealership—from porter, to salesman, to mechanic, to parts manager, to receptionist, to file clerk, to a day with the dealer himself. This gave us deep respect for every other “part of the dealership” resulting in deep love and respect for each other. That dealership was a well oiled machine and the customers loved us and bragged about us to the manufacturer time and time again. I knew as a salesman that the “guys in the back” were a vital part of my job. I knew that the porters were more than just 6 dollar an hour grunt workers—they provided a service which was vital to my success. I knew this because I had to do their job.
This is Paul’s point. This is why the famous chapter on love follows chapter 12. Not because Paul wanted to write a topical piece on “love,” but because we must not think only of ourselves and our calling but rather have a love for those above us and below us, using our gifts to build the Body up in love.

Dr. Marshall—a Seminary President she may be—a biblical scholar she is not.


K

Rex Ray said...

Wade,
This very good post makes me realize a weakness I have in avoiding conflict with some people that has ended as Marshall said: “forced unanimity which subjugates one party to another.”

After making a statement of what’s going/needs to be done, they end it with “OK”. The “OK” gives the feeling if you don’t agree you’ll get your block knocked off. I’ve held my tongue afraid to hear their ranting and a broken friendship.

I thought sure someone would make a comment on a previous link I made, but…
This link fits in with the type of people I’m talking about so I’ll give it again:

www.timcartersfirepit.com/scott-brown-and-adolf-hitler.html#more


Olson’s words of “These are words to live by, indeed to ‘fight’ by", reminds me of the guy that said,

“I want peace even if I have to fight for it!”


Now for a little conflict that’ll make us stronger :) I’ll comment on Wade saying:

“I long for the day when we conservative inerrantists…will write similar articles.”

If all is “inerrant’ in the Bible, how do inerrantists handle Paul saying:

“Now about the young women who are not yet married.
[1] I have no commandment from the Lord for them.
[2] But the Lord in his kindness has given me wisdom that can be trusted…
[3] I think it best to remain just as your are. (1 Corinthians 7:25-26 NLT)

[1] Since inerrantists believe every word is from God, do they think Paul is misinformed/untruthful by saying his words are not from God? If they do, how do they know it’s the only time?

[2] Did God give Paul wisdom on this subject?

[3] Was Paul’s advice good or bad? What would have happened if Christians never married?

Chris Ryan said...

Rex,

I haven't the time right now to speak to all your concerns, but I will address your third. If Christians had never married, God would still have raised up the church anew each generation even until today. That is the wonder of evangelism: it works on more than the children of church-goers.

Corrie said...

"This is NOT what Paul is talking about in the passage."

Kevin,

1 Cor 12 IS talking about unity amidst diversity.

"But goes on to suggest that we must not, who have not been directly called with these "higher gifts," sit back and allow the more gifted to do all the work. But rather we must ALL desire the higher gifts, thereby building the body up in love.
"

And, that is not what 1 Cor 12:31 is exactly saying.

The whole passage speaks about the necessity of each member of the body and how we are not to look down on those who we view, in our flesh, as lesser because they are actually to be bestowed MORE honor than those we consider to be most honorable.

I don't see anywhere in this passage where it speaks of not allowing the more gifted to do all of the work. It is speaking more to the unity of the body and the importance of every single part. Each member of the body has its own gifts and jobs to do.

And, though we may covet the best/greater gifts, Paul shows us a BETTER way in 1 Cor 13.

"Dr. Marshall—a Seminary President she may be—a biblical scholar she is not."

This is an unjustifiable statement. What she says is just as valid as what you have extrapolated from 1 Cor 12.

From one little quote you can make such a huge assertion? What else do you base your comment on besides that one quote? Because you must have other factors going into your assessment in order to make that assertion.

Corrie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin M. Crowder said...

Corrie,

MM and I cannot both be right. Our understandings of the text are totally different. The key is doing what we have been gifted to do IN LIGHT of those below us AND above us. Paul in this passages admonishes us to not simply do our ministry but rather to function like a cog in a clock. Or like a brick in a pyramid. As a brick, we always are sitting on another brick, but we always have a brick above us--thus "we are to sit with respect to how it makes us feel to hold." With the prize before--Christ--the Author and finisher of our faith.

The is not a passage to support theological eccumenicism, as is the point of MM's post.

As a brick, I will refuse always to sit on the brick of a heretic simply to hold a heretic up. But in love, I can encourage a heretic—as I would like to be encouraged—in Christ.

Rex Ray said...

Chris Ryan,
You said, “If Christians had never married, God would still have raised up the church anew each generation even until today.”

I believe you sound like the guy in heaven asking God why He let him drown. The guy had been in a flood sitting on top of his house. He had told a boat and a helicopter to save someone else because God would provide for him. God told the man, “I sent a boat and a helicopter…”

Sure, the wonder of evangelism works on more than the children of church-goers, but would it work as well saying, “Accept Jesus and never marry”? Duh?

Chris, do you know Corrie has ten children? – I rest my case. :)

Debbie Kaufman said...

Kevin: I didn't read that Corrie thought both you and MM were right.

Kevin M. Crowder said...

Debbie,

I agree with you. I didn't read that either. Had I, I would not have responded as I did. But thank you for your brilliant insight.

K

Chris Ryan said...

Rex,

I didn't say that the advise was prescriptive. You asked what would have happened. I said that God would have raised up another generation of spiritual sons and daughters to constitute His church.

There is nothing wrong with marriage, as Paul makes clear elsewhere, but nor should we make marriage the idol that it too often is (and as your last comment seems to suggest it is to you - I only say that because there is a "Jesus and..." feel to it. The "and" in this case is marriage, and those "ands" are almost always idolatrous. It seems like you said Jesus wouldn't be worth following unless marriage could be had as well).

Paul and Jesus were both single. Jesus effectively disowned His own family when they came to take Him home. Family life is important, and it is important that those with family do family life well. But there is nothing wrong with remaining single, even for a lifetime. Just as marriage can invisage Christ and the Church, so can singleness invisage Christ and the church (perhaps even better than marriage, because the single person does not have to divide attention from their bridegroom to an earthly husband/wife). We have made marriage the norm, but that doesn't mean familial ties should be understood as better or more holy than a life of chastity and service, or vice versa. To each as God calls.

God called Paul to be single. He probably thought it was a good idea for everyone else. From time to time we all think that what's good for the goose must be good for the gander. That doesn't make Paul right. That doesn't make Paul wrong. Both marriage and singleness call each other towards faithfulness to Christ (in different ways, admittedly) if we can recover a solid theology of each, stripping away the idolatry attached to marriage and the stigma attached to singleness to let God redeem them both.

Rev. said...

Too bad Dr. Marshall believes, "One can be saved without knowing of, or believing in, Jesus Christ." At least, that is, if she still holds to the same theology she did when she wrote her dissertation.

Wade Burleson said...

Rev,

Why don't you call Dr. Marshall and ask her? Or, place the relevant quotes in her public dissertation here.

The truth is, you believe the same thing.

Infants who die in infancy have no knowledge of, or faith in, Jesus Christ -- but surely you believe they are in heaven, right?

My point is, one must be careful in making assertions of what others believe without placing those beliefs in proper context.

Wade

Corrie said...

"Our understandings of the text are totally different. The key is doing what we have been gifted to do IN LIGHT of those below us AND above us. Paul in this passages admonishes us to not simply do our ministry but rather to function like a cog in a clock. Or like a brick in a pyramid. As a brick, we always are sitting on another brick, but we always have a brick above us--thus "we are to sit with respect to how it makes us feel to hold." With the prize before--Christ--the Author and finisher of our faith."

Kevin,

I don't get your interpretation at all from 1 Cor. 12. I prefer to go with the simplest understanding of that text.

We are all members of one body and there is no such thing as shameful or dishonorable members/gifts because they are all just as vital and valid as the ones we HUMANS tend to give the most honor to.

I didn't get the ecumenical slant that you seem to see in MM's quote? She talks about sustained unity amidst diversity and how that taxes even the best of us. Is that untrue? After all, the Bible does talk about how all believers are to be one in spirit and one in mind and one in fellowship! Is that too ecumenical? She also speaks of how, at the first hint of conflict, people nervously move away from one another. Is that not the truth? I have seen it happen more times than I can count.

1 Cor 12 isn't about subjugation but about equality. We are not to think that there are some gifts that are lower than others, as if they are less important.

And the way one can read 1 Cor 12:31 is this: "you eagerly desire/ covet the "greater" (Paul just got done telling the Corinthians that there weren't greater gifts) gifts but I will show you a more excellent way".

I don't know, considering Paul's employment of irony in many of his arguments, I see this as being very plausible.

"But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it."

Equality and not subjugation is what these verses sound like they are trying to get across. :-)

Corrie said...

"Chris, do you know Corrie has ten children? – I rest my case. :)"

Ha! Well, since it is the will of God and not of man that creates new creatures in Christ....... ;-)

I hope my little heathens turn into great warriors for Christ but there are no guarantees.

I was the first believer out of my family and I wasn't saved until I was 23.

Tim Marsh said...

For the record, the greater gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 are those that contribute to the unity and mission of the church. The "lesser" gifts are those that call attention to individuals. Tongues was a mark of spiritual superiority and Paul, while not rejecting the practice, indicates that it is a lesser gift. He turns the tables on those who think that ecstatic utterances are greater than gifts that build the church and contribute to her mission to the world.

Kevin, though I agree with Corrie that MM does not explicitly say those things in her text, I cannot help but have thought the same thing about her rhetoric on diversity. I am concerned with regard to what the CBF means by "diversity" (and this is from someone who swims in their sea).

linda said...

I long for the day, and will work to hasten its coming, when two Southern Baptists can once again strongly disagree on matters of theology and doctrine without one calling the other a heretic.

Dinosaur that I am, I actually remember when we met over the fried chicken and before the peach pie and discussed, not debated, theology.

Sister Rowena would say to Bro. Joe "Now I understand from chapterandverse you believe xyz. And he would say, "Yes, I do, and moreover chapterandverse leads me to also believe abc."

And Sister Rowena would reply, "See, I don't get that because of chapterandverse that lead me to believe rather def and ghi."

And Bro. Joe would ask for the cream for his coffee, lean back, and say "Well, I don't think so but I'll take it up with the Lord. You could be right I guess, but He will have to show me. Did those heifers bring a good price Tuesday?"

Now, you need to know Sister Rowena was what today we might call a moderate or defame as a liberal. And he was as Landmark as you can get, believing the only true church was a local SBC. And yet they labored together as friends in the Lord's service some 50 odd years.

Were part and parcel of my husband's salvation. Both of them.

Or just before SS you might hear Sister quiverfulfundy compliment Sister liberated on her new haircut. And Sister liberated might reply, "Why thank you. I know you believe it is sinful for a woman to cut her hair, but I don't so went to see Mrs. Deacon. She does good work." And Sister quiverfulfundy might reply, "Oh, she does indeed. It is so pretty. Yes, I am convicted not to cut my hair but that looks so pretty on you."

And folks, our churches were full, our coffers were expanding, and most importantly of all THE LOST WERE GETTING SAVED IN BUNCHES.

And no, we weren't going to hades in a handbasket sinning all we could.

Lydia said...

Linda, you are describing the SBC I grew up in sans the heifer prices. :o)

"1 Cor 12 isn't about subjugation but about equality. We are not to think that there are some gifts that are lower than others, as if they are less important."

Corrie, this is why Kevin cannot get it. Everything is about authority and followers to him. You can see it in his comment.


I agree with Tim. I do get nervous when I see the word Diversity and want to know what they mean by it. For now, I will take it as diversity on secondary doctrines because of her history with being thrown under the bus for being a woman at SBTS.

Rev. said...

Wade:

I did place a very relevant quote in the comment section here. To my knowledge, Dr. Marshall has never renounced here long-standing view that adherents of non-Christian religions do not need to place explicit faith in Jesus Christ in order to be justified. Her book, 'No Salvation Outside the Church? A Critical Inquiry', is based upon her doctoral dissertation. It articulates her pluralistic viewpoints quite clearly. There is no point, really, in calling her since there have been no public retractions and since she criticizes those like me who approach a Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu as someone who is condemned apart from Christ.

To say, "The truth is, you believe the same thing," is really quite ludicrous. Apples and oranges. Yes I believe, as the Baptist Confession (1689) declares, "Infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, Who works when, where, and how He pleases. So also are all elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word." But I believe, and what the 2LBC is pointing out, is that these are extraordinary cases, not ordinary ones. This is much different than the "anonymous Christian" type theology expounded by Rahner and which Dr. Marshall advocates. The proper context is to read her dissertation or her book or many of her other public statements.

Wade Burleson said...

Rev,

Were your assessments of Molly Marshall's doctrinal position found to be accurate, I would unequicovally disagree with her view.

That would not, however, negate the truth of what she wrote in her devotional posted here today.

Wade

Darrell said...

I have know Dr. Molly Marshall for many years and have many long discussions with her. Her integrity and ethics in ministry are far superior than many "so called" conservative scholars and preacherboys. She has plowed forward for the Gospel while a well concerted effort to twist, slander, and distort her writings seems set on doing all they can to harm her .

If you believe she is wrong, bring your scholarship and a humble attitude and ask her to sit down with you.

Rev. said...

Darrell:

I've not questioned Dr. Marshall's ethics. I've simply pointed out that her soteriology is at odds with historic Christian/Evangelical orthodoxy. Neither have I sought to "twist, slander, and distort her writings." From everything I've read about her on a positive level (not from "fundamentalist watchdogs", but from sympathetic moderates/liberals), I've no doubt she would tell either one of us how Rahner has influenced her theological thinking to a great degree. Of course, she has written a book for those of us who don't have the opportunity to sit down with her in person. She and I disagree greatly on the issue.

Thy Peace said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thy Peace said...

"One can be saved without knowing of, or believing in, Jesus Christ".

The above quote comes from this article:

FROM MODERNITY TO MOHLER: HOW THINGS CHANGED FROM LIBERALIMS TO CONSERVATISM AT THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY By Rev. Tobby Smith.

Kevin M. Crowder said...

Corrie,

Two things I never use in biblical interpretation are "sounds like" and those pesky little publisher headlines over various passages. In fact, the chapter division at the end of chapter 12 is dangerously out of place.

I find much of what I know of Dr. Marshall's theology to be dangerous to the Kingdom of Christ. The doctrines of her Seminary and denomination are doing great harm to the Body and to good biblical scholar. There is a reason she is no longer at SBTS. I support that reason. I know my good friend Mr. Treat holds her in high regard, and has it on rather good authority that she was treated poorly at Southern upon here exodus. I do not know but would guess she felt that way. If I had been Dr. Mohler, after knowing of her theological bent, I would have given her about a 10 minute head start before I ordered the custodial department to empty her office. And that to the Glory of the Lord Jesus.

Rex Ray said...

Thy Peace,
Wow! Your link by Tobby Smith was quite an eye opener for me. SBTS sounded like the professors at Yale when one asked my father to speak on the Holy Spirit but made fun of everything he said in front of the class.

The ‘takeover’ of SBTS sounds like the necessity of the Boston Tea Party, but I believe they became a lynch mob in firing Dilday and taking over SWBTS because the school and Russell Dilday were as conservative as you can get.

Patterson even told Dilday, “You’re conservative all right, but you’re not one of us.”

Dilday stood for truth and confronted the shameful methods the ‘Battle for the Bible’ group was using to take over the SBC. He did not believe ‘the ends justify the means’.

Tobby Smith used SBTS as a broad brush to paint the SBC as “the dark days of liberalism.”

Patterson had a list of these liberal professors and the total could ride in one Volkswagen.

Smith used glowing words to deny the C/R was for political control, but it’s easy to see the SBC has changed from the supposedly liberal ditch to the opposite ditch of legalism.

Smith puts Molly Marshall in that Volkswagen, but as Wade said, “That would not, however, negate the truth of what she wrote in her devotional posted here today.”

I agree with Wade. I was criticized for quoting Voltaire, but I liked what he said, and wrote:

“Our wretched species is so made that those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road”…Voltaire, The Truth of Acts is not a new road, but an old one that’s been hidden by the devil’s hedges made by proud men of little faith.”


Kevin said, “I would have given her about a 10 minute head start before I ordered the custodial department to empty her office.”

Hey! That’s more than they gave Dilday. The lock to his office was changed before they told him he was fired.

Darrell said...

Brother Kevin, I don't want to get in a spitting contest here as it would serve no purpose. Have you read all of Molly's writings? Can you read it without any presupositions you have learned from another professor? Do you guys always think that anyone who doesn't agree with you is wrong or a heretic?

when sherry klouda was selling her blood to buy medicine for her husband,(caused by an inerrantist) where was all the self rightous inerrantist who should have been first to help her.

1John 3:16 says if we see a brother in need and we have the means to help and don't, HOW CAN THE LOVE OF GOD BE IN US?

Ps 58:10 says "the rightous will rejoice when he sees the vengence:he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked".

I wonder who's feet will be in who's blood?

darrell

Tim Marsh said...

Regarding diversity, I remember a friend commenting how he/she was moved by participating in an "interfaith" worship service, with Christians, Muslims and Jews at Thanksgiving.

I cannot agree that an interfaith worship service is a proper expression of diversity. Interfaith dialogue, would be permissible. Agreements that eliminate slander, hate, prejudice and ultimately the use of violence to promote one's religion are permissible.

But an "interfaith" worship service is either a worship service that includes elements of each faith's worldview (which are contradictory) or it is a worship service that affirms ethical values about one's faith while denying their own faith's truth claims. I cannot participate in that.

Corrie said...

"Or just before SS you might hear Sister quiverfulfundy compliment Sister liberated on her new haircut."

Linda,

Loved it!! :-)

Kevin,

" If I had been Dr. Mohler, after knowing of her theological bent, I would have given her about a 10 minute head start before I ordered the custodial department to empty her office. And that to the Glory of the Lord Jesus."

How very righteous of you. :-) And you get double points because it is a woman being kicked to the curb! The Good Ol' Boys Patriocentric Club would be proud!

As for your interpretation of 1 Cor 12, you took great liberties, imho, in what you say the text means. I do not see it as bricks sitting on top of each other. That is NOT how a body works. It is not about making sure the ones with the "greater gifts" don't have to do all the work (I sense some major bias in that idea). I see it as every person in the body of Christ has a function/job and each one is just as important as the next. Each member of the body serving one another and working together with no attitudes of superiority or looking down on certain body parts as being less honorable.

So, your criticism of Dr. Marshall and her words on 1 Cor 12 apply equally to you, imho. Neither of you stuck specifically to the text but extrapolated meaning as you saw fit.

Not trying to be rude, Kevin, but not being a Southern Baptist, I find the treatment of some SBC members by other SBC members to be vicious and unwarranted based on manmade traditions (ie. patriarchal views of women with a few Bible verses ripped out of their contexts for good measure) and not on the word of God.

Tom Kelley said...

Darrell said...
when sherry klouda was selling her blood to buy medicine for her husband,(caused by an inerrantist) where was all the self rightous inerrantist who should have been first to help her.


I don't know how many people helped Dr. Klouda, but a person I know of who did much to help her (Wade) is an inerrantist. I can't say for sure, but I suspect that Dr. Klouda herself is one, also.

Self-righteousness is not exclusive to inerrantists, and helping others is not exclusive to those who don't believe the Bible.

Rex Ray said...

Chris Ryan, I haven't the time right now to speak to all you said, (your words – remember? :) ) but I didn’t want to think I was ignoring your comment.

What do you think about: “You know how, when you were a small child, you were taught the Holy Scriptures; and it is these that make you wise to accept God’s salvation by trusting in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15 Living)

Darrell said...

Tom, I am also an inerrantist. Those who have been here long know my heart for wade and his work.

In my life as a Pastor, evangelist etc. I have never intentionally destroyed a life, a career or a ministry. I believe the inerrant word when it says to Love one another.

many act like they could care less about that verse or anything else God has to say, yet with degrees and pedigree in hand they continue to destroy, deceive and claim rightousness.

be not deceived, God will not be mocked

Christiane said...

Dr. Molly Marshall wrote:

'Learning to “speak the truth in love” and not “to think too highly of oneself” are grace gifts worth striving for in our day."'

There is the 'key' to speaking 'truth in love':
humility before God and before those we serve.

No self rightousness, no'anger' or 'I'm OK, you're not OK', or 'you are going to hell and I can tell you that is God's judgement of you'. None of that.

The person who is filled with self-righteousness who speaks 'down' to another person is doing so out of pride, not out of faith in Christ.

If 'we' as a Christian community exist, it is to honor Christ, and His Commandments, and to strive to incorporate that into all we do in service to others. 'Cursing the darkness' does no good: it is not the way of Christian people.
IT NEVER WAS.
'The 'Better Way' leads to the greater graces, yes.
But entering out on to that path can only be done by those who stand in sincere humility before the Lord. This was 'The Way of Life' taught by the ancient Christians.
The difference: 'truth in love' is spoken in a way that reflects the great love of Christ poured out on all of us who have sinned. It is spoken in a way that brings His peace and His healing on the whole Christian community together.

Caritas Christi,
L's

Christiane said...

Dear TOM KELLEY,

It wasn't the BELIEF in the inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures that hurt Dr. Klouda.

It was the open fact that some chose to set aside the Great Commandment of Christ.
Dr. Klouda didn't suffer at the hands of those who believed in Christ the Lord AND who followed His Commandment to love.

She suffered from those who forgot to love.

Lydia said...

I would have given her about a 10 minute head start before I ordered the custodial department to empty her office. And that to the Glory of the Lord Jesus.

Fri Jan 29, 12:39:00 AM 2010

I fear for your soul if you get power in ministry.

Anna A said...

Catholic here.

Some of this conversation seems to be about Dr. Marshall's theology, and I have a related question.

Thank you, in advance

Do you believe that God has a way for those people, who through no fault of their own have never heard anything about Jesus the Christ, to be with Him after death?

Kevin M. Crowder said...

no

Rex Ray said...

Anna,
You asked a sincere question that I believe needs more than a “no”.

God said, “If you eat any fruit from that tree, you will die before the day is over.” (Genesis 1:17 Contemporary English)

Adam and Eve were spiritual dead before the day was over. Spiritual death is separated from God. (They hid themselves.)

I believe that God from the beginning planed for man to die physical and live again in heaven higher than the angels.

This caused the jealousy and rebellion of the devil – you’re not making anyone higher than me! Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightening.” (Luke 10:18)

If somehow man could be spiritually reunited with God, He would never have executed his Son for the penalty of our sins.

“I am the way, the truth, and the light. No one can come to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

Tim Marsh said...

Anna A,

I think that you have raised the question that most conservative Baptists dread to answer.

Kevin Crowder believes in predestination, along with many other readers. All those God has chosen before time will be saved, through the gospel or through other means, as in the case of the infant or those with mental handicaps, will be saved. No one that is lost is lost outside the will of God.

I reject predestination of individuals to salvation. This causes me lots of theological problems, because I believe that we are responsible for the getting the gospel to the world.

A couple of answers:

Let Hell be God's business.

Jesus had more words of condemnation for the religious than the "secular" who were "seeking."

Those who leave this life without faith in God's Son are not in a good situation.

And, IF there are those who do not profess Christ in this lifetime in heaven, it is not because of good works or that their own faith was somehow a way to God, but that the grace of God extended further than we can imagine.

For a different perspective than this blog may offer, I would encourage you to visit Greg Boyd's website.

www.gregboyd.org

Tim

Darrell said...

Anna,

Your's is a good question that many want to avoid. I have many of my own. ex. why didn't God stop hitler? why does God allow the rape of children? and many others. However, I do beieve He is in charge of all His creation and someday we will understand.

I am not a universalist and I believe some are going to hell.

I would like to ask your question in another way? Does God need our help to get people to heaven? (NO)

OR does a persons voice have to be involved before another person can get to heaven? (NO)

there is a verse that says "how shall they hear without a preacher"?

many hang there hat there that no one gets to heaven without hearing the magical words from a human.

God allows us to help Him but NEVER needs our help.

John 3:8 says "spirit gives birh to spirit" and "the spirit is like the wind, you don't know where it comes from or where it is going. SO IT IS WITH EVERYONE BORN OF THE SPIRIT.
Romans 1:18-19 says all humans know of thier Crreator and are without excuse"

Since faith comes from God and grace comes from God and Jesus said "no one can come to me unless the father calls" and Jesus says I am the way truth and light".....

SEEMS TO ME THE ANSWER COULD ONLY BE THAT THE CREATOR OF MAN DOES NOT NEED MAN'S HELP OR PERMISSION WHO HE CALLS AND WHO HE SAVES.
(ok guys, let the slandering and howling begin! :-)

Kevin M. Crowder said...

"Kevin Crowder believes in predestination, along with many other readers. All those God has chosen before time will be saved, through the gospel or through other means, as in the case of the infant or those with mental handicaps, will be saved. No one that is lost is lost outside the will of God."

Just to clarify in my own words, I do indeed believe in predestination. But people are not saved through the Gospel, the Gospel is the sum total, or the story and plan of Redemption. They are saved by grace through faith alone. Through HEARING the Gospel. No one is saved outside the Gospel, or through or by another means. (That is the crux of my "no" to AnnaA). For the record, I do not believe all infants go to heaven, that is an extra biblical view. I believe some are elect and some are not. I believe the Bible teaches Covenant Redemption--blessings bestowed on the children of the covenant family. That is biblical.

Why would anyone cry over a baby going to hell when they do not cry over any other soul who going to hell? Both are evil and wretched and vile in the site of God without Christ.

Finally as to those who are mentally handicapped. His Spirit testifies with our spirit...the mind need not understand always the things of God, for it is the Heart of man which is transformed by God. For them, the extent of their progressive sanctification might be a smile at the pretty sound of a song bird, knowing that God made everything.

I was subbing I a gym class yesterday and one period and young man was wheeled in, clearly some physical and mental handicaps, but the kid is brilliant and the school tries to integrate him as much as possible. In PE were where playing volleyball. 2 games going, plus a small game for this kid and a few helpers with a blow up beach ball. He was keeping score in his head accurately for all 3 games.

Never underestimate a mind which God has created to understand the simplicity of the Gospel for salvation. This is why they need to hear the Gosel as well.

Rev. said...

Anna:

You have asked a very important question. The Apostle Paul makes it plain in Romans 1-3 that the entire world, without exception, is guilty before God. All have sinned, that is, everyone has rebelled against God's commands. The penalty for this rebellion is death and condemnation. The remedy provided by God to overcome this breach in the relationship between God and humanity is the work of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Gospel. The Apostle Paul discusses this remedy in Romans 4-5. Later in this epistle (Rom 10), St. Paul makes it plain that individuals must hear the gospel in order to respond to God's invitation. Those who do not hear the gospel are guilty before God and worthy of condemnation, not because they have not heard, but because they have rejected the revelation God has given to them in creation (Rom 1).

Tim - this is not an issue which conservative Baptists should dread to address, unless they are embarrassed by the things revealed by God in Scripture and the traditional orthodoxy held by all Christians for 2,000 years. The issue isn't about predestination, but about the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ.

You're right, Hell *is* God's business. This doesn't mean, however, that we should tip-toe around what God has already revealed about the matter, namely that those who reject God will be judged and condemned. The Lord Jesus certainly had strong words of condemnation for religious leaders who used their religion as a cloak for their rejection of God. The issue isn't whether one is religious or not, but whether or not one submits to the things God has revealed.

Tim Marsh said...

If one infant is in heaven, or if one person is in heaven that cannot respond to the gospel because of mental handicap, then I rest my case that there are those who are saved outside of their response to the gospel.

Yes, I agree that Hell is real, and that people are in danger of winding up there. It is interesting, though, that the recipients of the "hell, fire and damnation" words of Jesus are the religious one's themselves.

Please, spare me the Sunday School answers.

Predestination matters in this discussion, as it does in many "biblical" discussions and to reduce one's reasoning to: "that is what the Bible says" is misleading. Rather, it should: "This is how the Reformed Perspective understands the Bible."

Come on, don't you think that I have read the Bible?

And, yes, I believe that we ought to speak gravely about Hell, because it is an eternal human sould that we are talking about.

Finally as an Arminian/New Perspective/Moderate Baptist (with a touch of Barth and Bonhoeffer thrown into the theological stew) I believe that all inhabitants of hell, like all inhabitants of heaven and earth, are objects of God's unconditional love that never desired to let them go. Therefore, I do weep over hell, and speak about it with care.

Again, God's love and sovereignty are not understood as mutually exclusive attributes. Once again, I challenge, does God love in terms of his sovereignty, or is he sovereign in terms of his universal, unconditional love?

A Calvinist cannot choose the latter. But which is Biblical?

Kevin M. Crowder said...

Tim,

In the OT, only those babies whose parent were faithful, and who parents had circumcised them with the signb and seal of the covenant were safe, and would rest in the arms of the Father had they died. So, Jesus dies on the cross for sinners and now that changes? Where in the NT does it say that?

Or is it just Satan making us think this as he appeals to our emotions that babies are cute and thus God would not send cute things to hell...

Tim Marsh said...

Kevin,

The "Satan" card is convenient to pull when one disagrees with another interpretation of scripture.

Like, I could suggest that it is Satan that would want us to believe in a "predestination" that suggests that all the predetermined elect will be saved and so we do not have to worry about the destiny of the reprobate, nor do we "love" them with the radical love of Christ in this life time.

However, both opportunities to use the "Satan" card throw a roadblock for genuine dialogue.

Tim Marsh said...

Kevin,

As to babies in the OT, at least the "early" OT, participation in the covenant was to secure "blessing" in this lifetime. There was very little concern for post-mortem existence, much less where one would spend eternity. What we do have, like Daniel 12, is late.

Thus, when you read passages like Job 3 and 14, there is a bemoaning of the fact that the good and the bad go to the same place. They die (it is debatable that there is a depressed existence in Sheol or whether it is a mere metaphor for death).

When David said of his infant son, the firstborn to Bathsheba, that when he "would go to him" he was not expressing confidence in heavenly afterlife, but that he would one day, like the baby, die.

Two axioms of my faith and theological worldview:

1. God is a God who radically loves ALL people (Rom. 11:32 and John 3:16)

2. God is a God whose glory is revealed by defeating death. We know sin is defeated because he defeated it in the resurrection of Jesus.

Therefore, for a human soul to spend eternity for no fault of its own (no opportunity to respond to the gospel or a misunderstanding of Adam's sin and the point Paul was making with Romans 5) I continue to speak with gravity about hell and maintain that mission is necessary.

Yet a God of grace and love revealed in Jesus Christ, trumps a God of sovereignty and law found in a certain (mis)reading of scripture.

Lydia said...

"Yes, I agree that Hell is real, and that people are in danger of winding up there. It is interesting, though, that the recipients of the "hell, fire and damnation" words of Jesus are the religious one's themselves."


Exactly

Tim Marsh said...

Kevin,

"So, Jesus dies on the cross for sinners and now that changes? Where in the NT does it say that?"

Much changed. That is what the book of Hebrews is about. Maybe, much was misunderstood about the Old Covenant.

Furthermore, Romans 9-11, the Calvinist tract of Predestination, is really Paul's unravelling of an understanding of election based on possession of the covenant. God's glory is not that he has exactly picked out each individual of the elect, but that his grace has gone out to the ends of the earth, so that "he might have mercy on ALL"

(At last check of the Greek for All, it meant "all" :) )

Darrell said...

Tim said,
"If one infant is in heaven, or if one person is in heaven that cannot respond to the gospel because of mental handicap, then I rest my case that there are those who are saved outside of their response to the gospel." AMEN!

For years I dealt with those who could/would not address their position on predestination without being arrogant or self rightous. Most toss around the "clear teaching of the Bible" statement as if their interpreatation is all that matters.
Wade and his dad are the only gracious men I have ever heard be gracious when talking about it. I have grown and learned from their preaching and teaching.

I have friends who believe that election is only for Israel.

Shucks, even the Jehovah Witnesses believe they are the only ones going to Heaven!

Still, the struggle for me is that if God has already chose those He is taking to heaven, why the cross, why the torture of Christ, why the gosples, why centuries of slaughter of etc.

And, of course, does the creator of all need a human to choose to help him before the elect can be elected.

I appreciate your spirit on this blog.

Darrell

Tim Marsh said...

Darrell,

"Still, the struggle for me is that if God has already chose those He is taking to heaven, why the cross, why the torture of Christ, why the gosples, why centuries of slaughter of etc."

Exactly!

And for reformed theologians to answer with the cop out "mystery" is no good here. If one is going to accept that the Bible teaches predestination, then this is the exact point where we need some answers. We also need answers to the question as to why God can hold responsible those who cannot, in the system of predestination, respond to the gospel.

"Mystery" is a cop out. If we can map the human genome, then certainly reformed theologians can address these questions with biblical and systematic responses.

Throughout the OT there are glimpses and hints that Israel's vocation is to bring blessing to the world.

Paul has the necessary theological resources to frame the gospel in this light, much in a way that the Jewish religious leaders and even the other Apostles could not. The gospel is intended for the whole world is Paul's conclusion (Rom. 11:32).

An even more appropriate question is how does the reformed doctrine of predestination mesh with a God of radical love and grace, whose love extends to the world.

E.K. said...

"Or is it just Satan making us think this as he appeals to our emotions that babies are cute and thus God would not send cute things to hell..."

This statement turn my stomach. It is difficult to believe that a Christian penned it. So, now we credit Satan, and not God, with making babies cute?? How does one tell the cry of a starving or abused "damned" baby from the cry of a starving or abused "chosen" baby? Kevin, I suppose you know.

Lydia said...

"Tim - this is not an issue which conservative Baptists should dread to address, unless they are embarrassed by the things revealed by God in Scripture and the traditional orthodoxy held by all Christians for 2,000 years. The issue isn't about predestination, but about the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ.
"

It is answers like these that show the shallowness and arrogance of many of the reformed.

1. The implication is that if you do not believe as Rev does then you are embarassed by the truth of the Word. They always use backhanded insults.

2. Traditional Orthodoxy held by ALL Christians for 2000 years. This argument is downright silly and illogical. Lots of wrong things have been believed and taught for thousands of years. Transubstantiation, sacraments, magistrate, church/state, infant baptism, slavery as instituted by God, patriarchy, etc.

And this is coming from a gal who believes in predestination. But I go back further than Calvin or even Augustine.

Tim Marsh said...

Lydia,

I appreciate your comments, coming from a Reformed perspective. It has been my experience, though I do not hear this from Wade or some other Calvinists, like Timothy George at Beeson Divinity School, that many who believe in predestination treat human beings as objects. They lack consideration and compassion that these are real human beings that we are talking about, whether they are infants or fully functioning adults that reject God.

I believe, regardless of one's choosing of God, that God chooses to love all who are made in his image.

Rev. said...

Lydia:
You accuse me of "shallowness and arrogance," yet say I'm employing backhanded insults. At least that's not backhanded, huh?

Has the Church for 2,000 years taught that those who do not hear the gospel are lost or not? Again, it is not a "Reformed" issue, but a Christian one. To start throwing out transubstantiation, purgatory, etc., is missing the point. If those who don't hear the gospel have a "better chance" of entering heaven than those who do, then forget all about missions and evangelism. The best thing you can do for an unbeliever is to never tell them about Christ and hope their good works outweigh the bad, I suppose.

Lydia said...

"Has the Church for 2,000 years taught that those who do not hear the gospel are lost or not?"

So all aborted babies and infants who die will definitely go to hell?

And I thought we had to be like little children to enter the Kingdom. Who is more lowly in intelligence and status than an infant? Who is more trusting?

You know, David's take on this question is interesting:

22 And he said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the LORD[a] will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” 2 Samuel 12

So, would it only be New Covenant babies who do not hear the Gospel that are consigned to hell?

Rev. said...

"We also need answers to the question as to why God can hold responsible those who cannot, in the system of predestination, respond to the gospel."

They are held responsible for the revelation they have received, namely, general revelation (Rom. 1-2). They are not condemned for not hearing the gospel, they are condemned for "suppressing the truth in unrighteousness" (Rom. 1:18). There is none without sin, no, not one.

Tim wrote, "many who believe in predestination treat human beings as objects. They lack consideration and compassion that these are real human beings that we are talking about, whether they are infants or fully functioning adults that reject God. I believe, regardless of one's choosing of God, that God chooses to love all who are made in his image."

You're right, human beings should never be treated as mere objects. God has made every human being in His image and has chosen to be loving to all.

Rev. said...

Lydia, you wrote: "'Has the Church for 2,000 years taught that those who do not hear the gospel are lost or not?' So all aborted babies and infants who die will definitely go to hell?" I encourage you to read what I commented earlier in this thread regarding such cases.

The thrust of what I'm posing does not deal with these extraordinary cases, but ordinary ones.

Lydia said...

The thrust of what I'm posing does not deal with these extraordinary cases, but ordinary ones.

Mon Feb 01, 06:41:00 PM 2010

I read through the comments and am still missing where you deal with infants or those not able to respond.

By the way, I am not a universalists. But I would argue that ESS is just as horrible of a heresy as universalism. It lessens Jesus Christ and what He did for us on the Cross.

But we cannot discount also some Muslims in the ME who are being reached by dreams of Isa and seeking the Lord because of those dreams to great danger to themselves. No pulpits, no pastors just dreams and then seeking out the truth. A fulfillment of prophecy.

Tim Marsh said...

Rev., you wrote:

"They are held responsible for the revelation they have received, namely, general revelation (Rom. 1-2). They are not condemned for not hearing the gospel, they are condemned for "suppressing the truth in unrighteousness" (Rom. 1:18). There is none without sin, no, not one."

Here is where I throw the challenge to all reformed Christians:

In TULIP Calvinism, the decision for salvation rests solely on God. Yes, all humans decide against God with their life choices. However, in Calvinism, no human being is capable of deciding for or against the gospel. This is the work of God alone, would you agree?

Therefore, predestination is always double predestination. In Calvinism, the reason why the lost go to hell is because God did not elect them, not because of their sin. The reason why some go to heaven is that God chose them, not because they responded affirmatively to the gospel. Therefore, it is God's choice, not man's sin, that condemns to hell.

Finally, Paul's gospel is undoing Romans 1-2, that all are responsible for the revelation that they have received in nature. Inotherwords, the position that says that Gentiles have received revelation and chose depravity is the position that Paul argues against. It is a common Jewish prejudice of the day found in the Wisdom of Solomon. Paul argues that the ones who possess the covenant are not justified by their possession but by their deeds. Therefore, those who possess the covenant are not "saved" by mere possession of the covenant. It is God's grace revealed in Christ and evidenced by the Spirit that are marks of Salvation.

The problem was that the "objects of wrath" (i.e. the Gentiles) were giving evidence of the Spirit. That is the meaning behind Paul's rhetorical question "What if God bore with patience the objects of wrath?"

The whole point of Romans 9-11 is that Israel would eventually be brought to Christ and that the Gentiles reception of the gospel and salvation was the means by which it would happen.

Richard Hays has some excellent work on Romans 9-11 as does Tom Wright, though Wright can be a confusing writer.

However, I am not asking that you be convinced by my "uninformed" theology as opposed to your "reformed" theology. All I really ask is that you maintain with sensitivity what you are saying about God and his view of human beings when you speak of election, predestination and hell.

Human beings are not points for theological argument, but real souls who will live forever and in much need, just like you and me, of a loving savior.

Rev. said...

Lydia:
I stated, "Yes I believe, as the Baptist Confession (1689) declares, 'Infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, Who works when, where, and how He pleases. So also are all elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.' But I believe, and what the 2LBC is pointing out, is that these are extraordinary cases, not ordinary ones. This is much different than the 'anonymous Christian' type theology expounded by Rahner and which Dr. Marshall advocates."

By the way, what is ESS?

Tim:
You write, "In TULIP Calvinism, the decision for salvation rests solely on God." Let's stop there for a moment. By this are you referring solely to God's choice/election, or are you saying that human beings are completely devoid of choosing for or against God in regard to salvation? I disagree that "no human being is capable of deciding for or against the gospel." The problem with sinners is, left to themselves, they choose against God (Rom 1-3). The lost do *not* go to Hell because of God's failure to choose them, but for their own willful rebellion against Him.

When an individual is saved, it is because of God's gracious intervention, and they are justified when they believe upon Christ. They are not justified without believing upon Him. No one is saved without deciding to follow Jesus. We obviously disagree with what the Apostle is teaching in Rom 1-2. While the gospel undoes the penalty of sin, it only does so in the case of those who believe (Rom 4-5, 10).

Are you saying that St. Paul teaches that one is justified by deeds when you state, "Paul argues that the ones who possess the covenant are not justified by their possession but by their deeds"?

I'm trying to maintain sensitivity with what I'm saying, though I'm trying to deal mainly with the issue of whether or not persons are saved apart from the gospel (not trying to deal mainly with predestination/election). This is an issue, not for the Reformed, but for all Christians. I'm saying things about the exclusivity of Christ and the gospel that an 'Arminian' like Wesley gladly affirmed.

I agree with you, "Human beings are not points for theological argument, but real souls who will live forever and in much need, just like you and me, of a loving savior." I believe they need the gospel, and will perish if they do not hear of the Savior.

Tim Marsh said...

Rev.,

In Calvinism, the lost do not go to hell because of their rebellion against God but because of God's decision not to elect them to salvation.

All humanity goes to hell if God does nothing. However, in Christ God has done something. Calvinism says that what God has done benefits only those whom God chooses. Arminianism says what God has done benefits all, but the decision to "receive" or "accept" God's grace rests on the human.

In Calvinism, those who are in hell are there because God chooses them to be there. In Arminianism, those who are in hell choose to be there themselves.

In Calvinism God is responsible for who is saved and who is not. In Arminianism, it is the human who responds.

You cannot hold human beings responsible for the initial problem on which God has acted if he only acts to benefit some, not all. That is where Calvinism fails for me. And, it is not a "mystery" but a direct contradiction of God's character.

If God is solely responsible for salvation, then why are all not saved, when it says "God so loved the world (spare me the "created order" stuff, it is clear that he is referring to all human beings here)? It seems God would receive greater glory, don't you think?

Too, with Paul, he is not saying that we are justified by deeds per se, just that Jews and Jewish Christians cannot rely on possession of the covenant, but performance ofthe covenant. Because of that judgment, both Jew and Gentile are under condemnation, to which Christ is the solution for Jew and Greek, for there is no distinction.

Rev. said...

Tim:

You stated, "In Calvinism, the lost do not go to hell because of their rebellion against God but because of God's decision not to elect them to salvation."

I strongly suggest you read the canons of the Synod of Dort. This very thing is repudiated by the Dortians themselves, not to mention stalwart Reformed theologians such as Warfield, Hodge, et al.

Am I right, Wade?

Tim, I agree fully with your statement, "All humanity goes to hell if God does nothing. However, in Christ God has done something."

God holds human beings responsible for every action and every decision. Period. No one is exempt from being responsible because God is sovereign. Pharaoah and Judas Iscariot are both proof of that.

Tim Marsh said...

Rev.,

That is a flat out contradiction.

Calvinism: God is responsible for a human being's response to the gospel.

Arminianism: Human beings are responsible for their own responses to the gospel.

I don't care what Dort says. Too, they killed those who disagreed at Dort.

Do you agree that, in Calvinism, that no one is saved unless God elects? If so, then who is responsible for the human being's response to the gospel?

Dort was merely a long way around the obvious...

Rev. said...

Tim:

What is a flat out contradiction? That God is sovereign while at the same time human beings are responsible? You may not care what Dort says, but at least don't put words into the mouths of Calvinists. Let them speak for themselves. Historic Calvinism affirms both divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Please don't confuse historic Calvinism with hyper-Calvinism, which affirms sovereignty but denies responsibility.

I agree, in Calvinism no one is saved unless God elects them. That does not negate human responsibility. Pharaoh is a prime example, which is why St. Paul discusses him in Romans 9.

Gene S said...

This is MOST interesting. The post began with accolades to a person advocating that we get along and love one another.

At this point we have a pointless theological debate splitting hairs over what tradition one follows.

It is a clear reminder of how easily men became distracted from Jesus and his message arguing over "who do you follow / who do you say that I am?"

Don't you realize that Satan's great tool in distracting us from our purpose?

Tim Marsh said...

Gene S,

No theology has ever developed in a vacuum but in conversation, even in the New Testament.

Though I am a moderate Baptist, I think that eventually the call to religious freedom will come back to haunt us. Why?

1. Even the slightest twist in theological interpretation will take the church's mission a mile in a different direction.

An example would be whether or not all faiths lead to heaven or if Christianity is the only way. Though I can get along with the other, it radically changes how you do evangelism.

2. Whether we like it or not, Calvinism and Arminianism lay claims about the character of God and the eternal destiny of human beings. I believe those are "primary" theological issues. The question asked had to do with the destiny of human beings who could not confess Christ, and subsequently the character of God.

Because I believe love is of utmost importance to the character of God, I feel, if challenged, that I will defend the character of God who loves all people.

3. I don't see "us" moderates any better at reaching out to conservatives, to those who are against women in ministry, to those who have problems with the ecumenical movement, or whatever values of moderate Baptists that "separate" us from conservatives. We are no better. And my problem is that we use the position of minority and victim to further our cause. That will only last so long. We are no more "open-minded" to churches that reject women in ministry as they are to us. We need to realize that.

Theological debate is important. Yes, there is a right way to do it. However, blog comments are not carefully crafted responses that consider the feelings of the other. I love Calvinists, consider them brothers and sisters in Christ, and believe that we want similar things in mission. However, I have a major problem when we say that God does not love all people, and that he acts compassionately towards those who lack the capability to respond.

And, your comments on blogs tend to be devisive, don't they??

Smiling :)

Tim

Gene S said...

Tim--

Did Jesus mix words in Matthew 23 when it came to the hypocracy of the Pharisees?

I think a person's theology is their own business and should give them a "peace that passes understanding along with true joy of salvation."

When people would rather judge and exclude anyone not a narrow as them, it bears comment from me.

My daddy, used to say, "If you draw a circle and shut me out, I will just draw a bigger circle and included you in mine." My trouble with most people I debate strongly is their circle is so small only a few can enter it.

When Jesus saw people turning the Temple at Jerusalem into a money making business, he did some flailing with a whip. In recent years, that is about all I have seen with preachers in mega churches which seem to be the ideal with far too many.

Sorry if I get on your nerves, but someone has to stand for something besides misdirection of the church into just another business these days. I feel that as a calling in my elder years--to be prophetic.

What would you have me do to make you happy?

Tim Marsh said...

Gene,

I don't know if you are still reading this thread.

I actually enjoy and appreciate your comments when I read them, especially on the Biblical Recorder page (you are the same Gene, right?).

Theological debate can be healthy and constructive, that is the point that I am getting at. Too, moderates seem to play the inclusion card at times of convenience.

We just need to keep plugging away and ask for God's grace to lead us to the Promised Land. I think we need to work for unity. However, there are times when we all need to stand our ground. And, we must avoid false and artificial uniformity.

God bless!

Gene S said...

Tim--

You are right, I am one and the same.

I hate we have to ever have differences of opinion to the point of fighting. Now, when it comes to intelligent discussion of important matter, a difference of opinion make things interesting.

Sadly, in recent years we have lost the ability to agree to disagree and continue our support of things Baptist.

I take great issue with the NCBSC over their destruction of Autonomy in favor of a Financial Policy. In all the years past, if you supported missions, you could give and vote. Even if you didn't agree with the majority, you could still be a good Baptist and you money was acceptable.

That no longer exists on a state and national level. It is one of the reasons we are in decline, I think.

Gene S said...

Tim--

I do admit to being divisive at times. However, it is the same kind of divisive I think Jesus used when he asked, "Who do you say that I am?"

This divides people into those who are willing to follow and those who pretend to follow.

Since 1990 I have kept somewhat quiet after attempting seriously to bring us back. Now that things are obviously not going so well, I hope there will be people who will listen carefully to what I have to say.

My problem is that I was raised by a down-the-middle solid and thinking Baptist Preacher. He could allow for all sides of the theological perspective to sit at the same table together. I am willing to do just that. I take strong exception to anyone trying to hyjack our wonderful world of autonomy and bold mission thrusting.

I believe it is the same as money changers on the steps of the Temple--to which Jesus took serious exception and beat the devil out of them with no apology.

Whether or not you or others agree with me, I think I am trying to present my case clearly with a reason why I feel the way I do.

I take your words as a compliment from a fellow believer. Hope I see you at the CBFNC meeting in Winston-Salem. They, too, are become more political than I would like. But they are more in line with my experience of being Baptist so I encourage them and take time to attend--at my own expense since I don't have a church right now, and those I serve can't afford to spoil the preacher with a large Convention Expense figure in the budget--and that's OK with me!