Thursday, July 16, 2009

Every Believer a Witness - A Personal Testimony

This past Sunday morning through Wednesday night our church hosted Dennis Nunn and Every Believer a Witness. Hands down, in twenty-five years of ministry, this past week did more to encourage our church family to be faithful in witnessing to others than anything I have ever before experienced. From 1500 people on Sunday morning, to the several hundred people who came back for each evening 6:30 session, there has developed within our church family this past week a culture of excitement about sharing Jesus. Dennis was funny and engaging, our people were captivated, and by Wednesday night they had learned how to naturally and easily share Christ with others - by simply relating their own story of being touched by Christ Himself. The blind man in the gospels declared, "This one thing I know, I once was blind but now I see." The believers that make up our church family are acting like that blind man.

Rather than give details of what we learned through Every Believer a Witness, allow me to tell you of three spiritually blind people who came to see their need of Christ and publicly shared with our church this past week their own stories.

The San Diego Police Officer

On Sunday night after we learned how to tell others our personal story of our life before Christ, how we came to meet Christ, and our life after Christ, Dennis asked for someone who had never spoken publicly in a church setting to share his or her story.

A fifty year old woman about midway back stood and told us her story. It is impossible for me to write down all she said and to do justice to what we heard that night. We all sat transfixed as this woman named Cheryl, who had just recently begun attending Emmanuel Baptist Church, explained to us how she had met Christ in February of this year. For years she had worked as a San Diego "cop" and had grown hard, cynical and bitter. She saw so much evil, so many wicked things, that she had closed her heart and mind to any concept of God. How could there be a God? - there was just too much evil in the world. Yet, after a medical retirement from the SDPD, she had moved to Oklahoma with her husband to work in the oil fields and God had pursued her. After hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ through the testimony of other believers she had come under conviction herself. She surrendered her life to Jesus Christ and her placed her faith in His death and resurrection. There were many tears as she shared the specifics of her story and how her life had changed since meeting Christ, and at one time she apologized for being so emotional. It was then that Dennis said something I'll never forget - "When God squeezes the heart, the juice comes out the eyes." God was squeezing a ton of hearts that night.

The Wealthy Businessman

On Tuesday night a man who owns his own business that employs three hundred people, and who himself had attended Sunday morning's service, stood and told us his story. He shared how he had allowed money to become his god, how he had been unfaithful to his wife, was going through a divorce, but his own 14 year old son had been talking to his father about repenting of his lifestyle and trusting Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Through many tears, the businessman father shared with our church that just a few hours earlier he had given his life to Jesus Christ. He asked his 14 year old son to stand and publicly thanked him for being a faithful witness of what Christ could do for his father. The businessman will be baptized at our baptismal service at Ski Lake next month.

The Single Young Lady

On the very back row of one of our evening services, a young lady stood and described how she had longed for somebody to love her, and absent the kind of love that satisfies the soul, she had turned to alcohol and sexual promiscuity. Through the faithful testimony of a believer, the young lady had come to discover that her needs could only be met through a personal faith relationship with Jesus Christ. She described how she had placed her faith in His death and resurrection and how her life had changed since believing in Christ. Again, I cannot give her story justice in this blog, but what I want you to understand is that people like this stood before hundreds of people during worship services and shared their faith in Christ because they had been taught how to share their stories - "This one thing I know, I once was blind but now I see."

Throughout the week we learned practical ways of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with servers at restaurants, neighbors on the block, co-workers, friends and complete strangers. During the evening services we had testimonies of how God was moving through witnessing to others. Every Believer a Witness is not a new program. It's not a new "method." It is simply getting God's people excited about bragging on Jesus.

And it works.

Two things I wish to encourage those who read this blog to consider:

(1). First, if you are in a position to invite Dennis Nunn to come to your church to lead out in Every Believer a Witness - do it. Contact him at 1.866.888.8589. Your church will never be as excited about witnessing as they will be by the end of the week - and it's not something they have to do - it is something they are EXCITED and WANT to do. Dennis is a staff evangelist for FBC, Woodstock, the church that is pastored by the President of the Southern Baptist Convention President - Johnny Hunt. He will help your church whether it is big or small, metro or rural, traditional or contemporary. Sharing Jesus transcends all those things.

(2). Second, a few have remarked on other blogs that I am moving "leftward" theologically - at least in one case it was because they learned I am the Friday night keynote speaker at the New Baptist Covenant Conference in Norman, Oklahoma on Friday, August 7th, following Jimmy Carter's keynote address on Thursday night. Rather than defend myself against the "leftward leaning" accusations, just let me simply say that after I have spent one week observing the Spirit of God producing some incredible conversions to faith in Jesus Christ through the faithful sharing of the gospel by my church members at Emmanuel - I no longer care that others may accuse me of leaning "leftward."

I know my heart, and if the excitement I feel in seeing so many conversions to Christ- and knowing that we will be baptizing between 50 and 100 people at our baptismal service on August 9th - if that is what it means for my heart to "lean leftward," then give me more leftward leanings! :)

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


Writer said...


Thanks for the info about Dennis Nunn. I'll probably be giving him a call.

BTW, you can mention my name if you wish. It doesn't bother me. I am concerned about the direction you seem to be taking recently. But I know that you probably don't care about what I think. :)

BTW, I'm reading your book, "Hardball Religion." It's verrrrry interesting, to say the least. I disagree with those who say it is nothing new from your blog posts. I think I'm going to do a post about the things I didn't know until I read your book. I should finish it in a couple of days.


greg.w.h said...


If leaning leftward means paying more attention to the requirements of Matthew 25 and James while putting doctrinal and theological purity in perspective to those verses--real religion, after all, is to feed the poor and care for widows and orphans according to the Bible--then leaning leftward simply is a higher calling than conservatism and one evoked not just by Jesus himself but also by his half-brother James.

I would note, though, that your experience with Dennis Nunn is as close to the intention of the Great Commission Resurgence as you could possible lead your congregation. Either that, or the GCR is a fraud being perpetrated for the sake of control.


Greg Harvey

Bryan Riley said...

Left, right, whatever so long as your eyes are fixed on Jesus. Great stuff, Wade. What a word on a family beginning steps to reconciliation and relationship. said...


I sometimes am baffled by your assessments of me seeing you have never spent a day with me in ministry, to my knowledge have not ever once heard me preach - much less listened to my current 25 expositional messages of 1 John - nor spoken with me via phone or shared coomunication with me via email, yet you have both the freedom and ability to deduce I have "recently" begun to move left.

Les, my feet are planted where they have been for 25 years of pastoral ministry - I am a Bible-believing, Christ-exalting, grace-living, people-loving kind of pastor.

If you feel it necessary to join the chorus of a few who try to tag me liberal - go ahead.

I am just telling you the only thing liberal about me is grace and love toward people.

One of these days you will my view of women will be called what it actually is - biblical and conservative.


Joe Blackmon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Praise God for your placing the emphasis in your church on everyone sharing their experiences and relationships with Jesus Christ to others.

We can have all kinds of research to discern the problems with our SBC and come up with all kinds of suggestions dealing with re-structuring and streamlining. We can attribute the decline in the morality of our beloved America to all kinds of sources.

But one would think that we professing followers of Jesus Christ would recognize that our problems lie in our mediocrity about our walk with the King of Kings.

I sure hope your emphasis catches on and becomes contagious among our churches.

Tom Parker said...


You said to Les P:"Les, my feet are planted where they have been for 25 years of pastoral ministry - I am a Bible-believing, Christ-exalting, grace-living, people-loving kind of pastor."

Sadly, that is not enough for some in the SBC. To deviate from what they believe to be correct is to be labeled leaning leftward which is the same as being called a Liberal. Sadly, this tactic has been going about 30 years now and shows no evidence of stopping.

Former FBC Insider said...

How beautiful.
This reminds me so much of Shirley Lindsay (Homer's wife).
This was her method of soul winning. She had stories upon stories of sharing her faith with practically everyone she met.
She was casual and comfortable, engaging the person in conversation and then she would bounce right into Jesus.
She taught us that just the mention of the name Jesus would direct the conversation and all you'd need to do from there would be to follow His lead.
She dared us to try it! It was so true. Sometimes the mention of His name would cause the person to shut down, sometimes it would open their heart's door.
Either way, all you have to do is to share your own personal experience. No one can ever take that away from you, and no one knows your experience until you share it.
We are an eye witness to what Jesus has done in our hearts and in our lives.
Just like on the witness stand, tell what you have experienced.
That belongs to you, and with it comes a responsibility to share that with others.
Not only does the other person become richer for it, even if it's just a seed that is planted, you are also warmed by the Holy Spirit with a smile in your heart.
Thanks for the reminder!

Anonymous said...

We are constrained by the love of the Anointed One, when we consider that one died for the sake of all, and in that way all died. And he died for the sake of all so that those who live will no longer live only for themselves but also for the One who died for them and was raised. So we no longer think of people as how they are in the flesh. We once only knew the Anointed One this way but no longer, because if anyone is in the Anointed One, they are a new creation; the old has passed away-- look, it's become new!

Yet it all comes from God, the One who reconciled us to himself by means of the Anointed One and assigned us to this service of reconciliation. Through the Anointed One God reconciled the world to himself, not holding their stumbling against them, and gave us the word of reconciliation. So we are the Anointed One's ambassadors, and God pleads through us.

So, on behalf of the Anointed One, we plead with you to be reconciled to God! For this One who knew no failure became failure for our sakes, so that in Him we can become right with God. As co-workers we plead with you not to waste the grace of God you received. He says, "At the right time I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." Look! Now is the right time; now is the day of salvation!
-- 2 Cor. 5:16-21

Whether in word or deed or both, we do indeed need to tell of our testimony. But we cannot forget that it doesn't end there. The goal of such testimony is reconciliation with God.

People know, one way or another, what it is like to be estranged from someone. But they also know that reconciliation cannot happen magically with saying "okay, we're friends again", but with heart-felt change. We cannot claim to be reconciled with someone if we continue on as if nothing happened, irritating the person and treating them with contempt.

And so it is with God. We cannot claim to have reconciled with One we do not believe exists, or One we give no thought to, or One we sin against with impunity, or One for whose likes and dislikes we show no concern.

Jesus did first, and said second; Paul witnessed to the philosophers on Mars Hill by appealing to their quest to appease an unknown God; Peter pointed his finger at the self-righteous on Pentecost and confronted them with what they had done. People are not all the same, so our approach to witnessing is not always the same. But the goal should always be to bring them to reconciliation with God.

Writer said...


Your recent writings on this blog are what I am basing my opinion on, and yes, it is just an opinion. Also, your being involved with the "New Baptist Covenant" is indicative of leftward leanings as well.

Would you say that the New Baptist Covenant folks are not liberal? Based on their partner organizations I would say their makeup is overwhelmingly liberal.

I really hope that you will reconsider your involvement with New Baptist Covenant. This will not help you in your crusade against SBC fundamentalism.

Les said...


Like Spurgeon, the opportunity to preach the gospel is something I never decline. If, as in your mind, the people who gather for the New Baptist Covenant are deficient spiritually, liberal theologically, and possibly in sin practically and ecclesiologically, would you not be thrilled I would be asked to preach, and if you were in my shoes, are you saying you would decline?


Christiane said...


I had always wondered about something:

Our school where I worked was the kind of place that was not 'sought after' by teachers coming into the system. It was known, that the children there 'did not have good support systems', which is a euphemism for: grandmother cares for them, maybe mom is in prison, and 'dad' ???, well, we won't even go there.

So our students did not have much, or so people thought.

The strange thing is that during the times when the School System sponsored contests to raise food for the Christmas Baskets to be sent out, our school always won these contests.

The dynamic? What was 'going on' that this could be?
Why were our students, who had so little, more 'giving' than the ones in the suburban schools surrounded by the million dollar homes? Why?

I was given a glimpse into this mystery when Nancy, our guidance counselor, and I delivered a basket to the room of a very frail, bird-like woman who had 'nothing' this world values.
(Nancy and I were on the committee to deliver Christmas baskets.)

We found her living at the back of a building with a 'bar' on the front, and alleys that were terrifyingly littered with broken bottles and other 'unmentionable cast-offs'.

She invited us to sit down and we did not decline, as we might have done.

We talked with her for a while about our school and the children who had contributed the food.
She told us that the school children who lived nearby would often bring her food and would spend some time with her.
Then, this tiny woman gave us 'a blessing': as she held our hands, she prayed to God to thank Him for the food and for us and for the children.

Nancy and I left. In the car, we were silent and and both of us were in tears. Then this: "I felt like I was in church there", said Protestant Nancy. "I felt it, too" said Catholic Christiane.

I never understood what happened there exactly, but I was given a glimpse:
our students 'understood' brokeness and loneliness. They knew what it meant to be hungry sometimes and they lived in the 'dark places' where we don't want to go. In that dark realm, the Spirit of Christ shone brighter, because He was needed more, I think.

The greater the contrast between the 'Broken-ness' and "Healing Love", the more we can understand: sometimes it is the magnitude of that healing blessing that speaks to us.

"Poverty" is much more than 'material', it lies in whether or not we are able to reach out and care, to love as He would have us to do.

My 'disadvantaged' children in that school taught me something, in their giving: the 'real poverty' was out there in the suburbs, and it had nothing to do with 'money'.

I am thankful for the glimpse I was given.

I am very, very thankful.

Love, L's

Jake Barker said...

I just took you up on going to the New Baptist Covenant website. I read about the Oklahoma function in early August (the one Wade is speaking at) on their list of speakers, participants etc the only confirmed and well recognized liberal is Jimmy (peanuts) Carter. Heaven forbid that Wade would associate with a "Freewill Baptist" or someone like J.C. Watts. Maybe you are unfamilliar with JC but he SHOULD be the governor of Oklahoma and on the fast track to being a Republican candidate for Prez or VP. Give Wade the benefit of the doubt here.

Writer said...


Yes, I would decline. I would dare say that the folks who invited you to speak want to use you to bash the SBC more than they wish to present the gospel. I would not be a party to any such effort.

You say you're like Spurgeon. You really have a propensity to name drop and compare yourself to great men of God as well as lauding your humility and kindness. You defend your motives as motivated by the highest spiritual concern yet you villify those who disagree as being less spiritual than you.

I have defended you in meetings with IMB trustees where I expressed my concern over the same two doctrinal policies that you have made a blogging career on. As you said in your book, fellow trustees accused you of arrogance. The people with whom I met said the same thing, but I defended you. I am not a fundamentalist seeking to harm you. I thought we were friends and I could speak to you as a friend. Perhaps I was wrong.

I once heard a former friend of yours say, "What Wade Burleson is mainly interested in is Wade Burleson." I defended you then, but I'm not so sure now. I believe that your assoication with New Baptist Covenant will damage your credibility. As a friend, I urge you to reconsider your acceptance of their invitation to speak.

Keeping it real,


Jon L. Estes said...


I understand where you are coming from and have some concerns myself. I also have some major concerns within our own SBC and decisions which have been made and seem to continue to be made.

I am excited about the GCR and admire Johnny Hunt and know Danny Akin. I think both of them are shooting straight and focused right. Some of the ones on the committee chosen concern me, especially leaders of churches which give little to the CP presently, and historically. Not that these men do not have a heart for the GC but evidence of them having a heart to do it through the SBC is evident.

I am afraid that the GCR will be no more than a political machine, chewing up good people, after to many people get a hold of it.

I also understand Wade (I think). He is making his choice on non-political reasons but doing it in a very political pool. He will not be able to jump in and swim with these people and come out smelling "right". Yet, Wade is known for his political stand. He now is closing that door and wanting to be more theological (a worthy decision) but the political bubble he lives in is there by his choice and he will live with it the rest of his life no matter how much he wants to avoid it now.

We need to get together and do some small church stuff this next year.

2 cents.

Tom Parker said...

Les P:

You said to Wade:"I thought we were friends and I could speak to you as a friend. Perhaps I was wrong."

Did you contact Wade privately before you went on another "friends" Blog and expressed your concern about as you call it his leftward leaning?

If you did not, why make it a public viewing of your attempt to get Wade to change his mind.

Bennett Willis said...

The only thing that an unbeliever cannot argue convicingly against is your own personal experience. If you can stay with this, they may not be won over but they cannot disagree.

It sounded like that was the basis of the witness training. I am sure there was more, but if push comes to shove stay with what you know. :) KISS.

Bennett Willis

Former FBC Insider said...

I would like to share a personal eye witness account of what I've experienced here on Wade's blog. I've never met Wade. I don't know him. He does not know me. But I can read his heart here on his blog. I can see that he has a humble spirit and that he is gentle to people who agree with him or totally disagree with him.

I can't tell you how refreshing that has been for me. The pastor that I've known has been arrogant and a bully to his people. I have never seen that from Wade.

I can't believe that there are still some Christians who think their own reputation is more important than speaking the name of Jesus to a group that does not believe the same way you do. Who would be a better audience, your Christian fan club or the woman at the well?

Wade, I admire that you are willing to speak to the real world who may or may not agree with you. I am glad to see that you know the message of Jesus Christ is not just for the tidy little church groups. How in the world did we get those tidy little groups?

From outside the circle!

Bring them into the fold.
Don't bar the door.

Joe Blackmon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ramesh said...

Jimmy Carter, though a Democrat and a liberal, he is one of few people with a conscience. He has done yeoman's work with Habitat for Humanity.

For people who question Pastor Wade's motives and theological bent or political aspirations if any, should listen to his sermons. Granted he is preaching expositionally and it's The Word that is talking, but still you get to see his inner thinking and heart. More than this blog, his sermons point out his thinking and his heart. Maybe with the change of direction, this blog will be more aligned with his sermons.

Former FBC Insider said...

I agree. The personal eye witness account is a door opener. Bennett Willis summed up my comments best by stating, "The only thing that an unbeliever cannot argue convicingly against is your own personal experience." Our eye witness account is just that, it is ours.

There have been many times that this has given me opportunity to share why we must have reconciliation with God and how by sharing the scriptures with the unbeliever. It's a great tool to have ready in your back pocket!

You're right, God uses us all in different ways, with different groups of people, with each of our different gifts.

Love hearing your thoughts Paula!

: )

Christiane said...

'Association' with 'certain people' can give Someone a bad reputation?

It can happen. Someone has been reading their Bible.


We have the example of Our Lord, who chose His own company in spite of condemnation.

Maybe even because of it:
to teach His followers a lesson we need to know about, if we are to be able to serve Him.
We have His Teaching.
We need to follow His example without fear, certainly without fear of the judgment and condemnation of others, for whom 'reputation in the eyes of men' is a great priority.

Wade, go where the Lord leads you and 'Be Not Afraid'.

Let the 'faint of heart' stay
where 'it's safe'
and 'it's respectable'.
Will the Spirit someday come to them with the gift of courage to go out and serve in the World of the Marginalized, the Broken, and the Lost?
There is a precedent. :)

Love, L's

Writer said...


I agree with you about the GCR task force. The makeup of the committee pretty much assures it will be business as usual. Disappointing.

I won't be doing anymore national small church conferences. Small church pastors aren't intested in small church ideas and the SBC is a convention of small churches run by megachurch people. I don't see those attitudes changing anytime soon. I'll be spending most of my time leading our church in doing our part in the Acts 1:8 Challenge.

If you want to do something locally or regionally, I will be glad to help.


Yeah, I know who JC Watts is. Great college football player who didn't make it in the NFL and a staunch conservative or at least used to be. I haven't heard much from him in the past few years.

I also saw that my friend Todd Littleton was involved as well. I believe it is a mistake to lend their names and time to any New Baptist Covenant endeavor. They seek conservative credibility through such efforts. Smoke and mirrors, pal. Smoke and mirrors.


Thank you for trying to teach me biblical principles.


Writer said...


BTW, is your name Tom or Robert?


Anonymous said...


My experience with many online atheists is that personal experience is what drove them from God. God didn't do something they thought He should have, so they hate Him (rarely do people actually disbelieve there is a God). These people will not listen to personal testimony.

So for them we need to appeal to epistemology and focus our efforts there. People don't stop and think about the underlying presuppositions they live on, or the implications of their worldview. When they blame God for failing to act, they are making themselves His judge. They will not listen to accounts of His love because they cannot reconcile their definition of a "good" God with the suffering of life.

And as I blogged recently, many of them claim to have been Christians but were disillusioned, and justifiably so, by many of the things that are routinely discussed here.

So we believers first of all need to clean our own "house" before very many will be open to anything we say.

Just thinkin' out loud. :-)

Lydia said...

"What you associate with, you support"

Hmmmm. I am currently dealing with the same thinking. As a commissioner in a small city government, I happen to agree with the FACTS and DATA of another commissioner who is a complete and total jerk to everyone. Even to me though I agree with his positions on several important areas like budget cutting, etc. I do NOT support his rude behavior. But folks are convinced if I agree with his economic position, I therefore must agree with his rudeness to others even though I have made my position clear.

He is fiscally a conservative like me. But everyone wants to draw lines based on liberal and conservative or by emotions such as who we like or do not like.

So, how does Wade associating with CBF mean that he supports everything they believe or do?

I will admit that even 5 years ago I would have agreed with this and drawn the lines but now I look at us and wonder why anyone would want to associate with us! The list of reasons is quite indepth... We present, as a convention, a picture of authoritarianism, promoting mere men instead of Christ, greed, lacking in caring for victims of greed or sexual perversion, only caring about numbers, position, infighting, jockying for position, being more political than spiritual, promoting Talmudic teaching on women's roles, fighting the culture instead of witnessing, ruining folks who dare disagree or female Hebrew professors, supporting pastors who coddle pedophile ministers, supporting and promoting pastors who get trespass warnings and investigate bloggers with subpeona's, supporting and promoting mega church pastors who change by-laws with a vote, trying to take the Holy Priesthood out of the BFM, supporting quiverfull teaching, patriarchy, supporting the lifestyles of the rich and famous type living of some of our seminary presidents, stacking trustees to agree with entity leadership, etc, etc.

I have to ask why a true lowly bondservant of Christ on the narrow road would want to associate with us?

Christiane said...


"What you 'associate with' you support."

I proudly give you my friend Joyce. And I mean MY FRIEND.

I met Joyce when I taught teenage addicts for "Straight and Narrow", a drug rehab run by the Diocese of Patterson, NJ.
The rehab school where I taught the teenage residents was a mile or two from the rehab residence.

Joyce was employed to work at the rehab and came to the school to help with supervision. Joyce had done time for drug use and related activities. She had scars from knife wounds on her wrists, which were pretty much hidden by the long-sleeved men's shirts she wore. She had been a lesbian and still wore man's clothes, (I must say, with great style: her trade-mark bow-tie, with a freshly ironed shirt, very neat). She felt uncomfortable wearing 'women's clothes' because of some things that had happened to her when she was a child.
Joyce had lost her top front teeth, so she talked 'funny' and put her hand up over her mouth when she smiled. (Very endearing.)
And yes, she was African-American, so what, I'm French-Canadienne American, so what.

I always bought extra sodas to work with me and shared them with her at lunch. She was good company and I was glad to know her. She lived at the rehab residence and I gave her rides sometimes, so she wouldn't have to take the bus. Some days, she didn't feel very well.

"What you associate with, you support." Yeah. I supported her with sodas, and companionship at lunch, and rides in my car. And with friendship, until her death from AIDS.

I was sad when she died. She was one of those people that spoke of the Christ who had saved her.
The way she told it, you knew it was true.

I miss my friend, but this is what I know: I will see her again on The Day of The Lord.
Love, L's

Anonymous said...

The line between those that Christians should associate with and those they should not isn't always easy to draw.

For example, I have been an avid supporter of the Creation Museum. I am a lifetime charter member. But when I learned of some questionable business practices, and saw in their magazine how they continue to push both Calvinism and male supremacism, I stopped supporting them and canceled my subscription even though it was free. It was a matter of personal conviction for me, of standing on principle.

Sometimes I am ashamed of what my fellow American citizens do, and many foreigners will associate me with those people simply because I am a citizen. But I am not about to move out of the country and denounce my citizenship because of the reputation I get just by being an American. (Besides, whose country is any better?)

Association or support is largely in the heart of each person. I do not condone what some Americans, or some Christians, do. But I would have to leave the planet in order to abstain from any and all "appearances of evil".

Scripture says not to associate with those who call themselves believers yet practice things like sexual sin and swindling. But how many in the SBC are therefore willing to obey that scripture and leave the association, since its leadership in many cases continues to practice such grievous sins?

I can only speak to what I myself endorse; I can't go through life trying to say spotless in the eyes of so many conflicting factions. When I am among people who are particularly offended by something I think is fine, I do try to be considerate of them. On the other hand, they can't expect me to continue to cater to their sensitivities 24/7.

Kind of a Romans 14 thing.

John Fariss said...

I going to be really sarcastic, and say, "Wow! Those CBF-and-NBC folks must be some kind of evil! They are open not only to all sorts of heretical theology, but even use people--my goodness, they'll use Wade, poor innocent that he is, to beat Bible-believing-Baptists into homosexual-supporting, baby-sprinkling, salvation-loosing, anti-Calvinist liberals and pagans!" OK, I got that out of my system.

But I agree with one thing: birds of a feather do flock together, Les and others. The problem is, and I base this primarily on working with troubled churches for 18 years, is that the similarities around which "birds of a feather flock" are often not the obvious ones. You would think groups coalese around things like a similar home life, family or social connections, a shared financial or social status, coming from one region of the country or another, life stories which parallel one another, shared interests, things like that. My experience is that even in dysfunctional groups, alliances and groups are often based on things more subtle than that, as well as more fluid.

I am seeing a common assumption among my more conservative brothers ands sisters that those who "flock" around the CBF and the NBC (in that I am speculating, as I have had no contact with it) do so around being liberal. I suggest that although there are those in the CBF are to your left (though not all, and many by only a small degree), they are still far, far to the right of mainstream denominations such as the Episcopal Church, the UMC, and whichever Presbyterian denomination is considered left-leaning. And I would further state that what many of "us" flock around are things like (1) being tired of the constant fussing, bickering, and name-calling that exists in the SBC, (2) trying to ratchet down our anxiety level, imparted by the stress existing in the SBC, in order to be useful to God in mission, and (3) being tired of being excluded not because of substantive issues separating us, but over words which become differences without a distinction. So before you go calling CBF'ers and NBC'ers liberals who cluster around distinctively liberal issues and them only, you owe it to yourself AND the larger Christian family of which you are a part to search more closely and do it more personally. After all, WWJD?Remember: Jesus could have associated with just his disciples and the others (i.e., the women) who supported Him. Instead, He ate with "sinners and Publicans."


Dennis Nunn said...


Can we all get back to the MAIN point in Wade's post, i.e. that God gloriously used Every Believer a Witness to get tremendous numbers of his people to begin actively sharing their faith? This is the norm each time Every Believer a Witness is taught.

Jesus told us to ask the Lord of the harvest to send out more laborers into His harvest. I feel very confident that regardless of how you view Wade's theology or bent, no one reading this post is content with the percentage of people in their church who are laborers in the harvest.

It's true - Every Believer a Witness is not another "program". In addition to the wonderful results Wade shared, during the week I spent several hours with him and the other staff members teaching them how to model and mentor the principles of Every Believer a Witness in order to keep witnessing "on the front burner".

NAMB has launched a major Evangelism Initiative for Southern Baptists to share the Good News with every person in the country by 2020. Every Believer a Witness is unquestionably the easiest, simplest way to equip your people for GPS.

If you want to see large numbers of your people actively, daily sharing their faith, please contact me about having one of our Certified Trainers come and lead an Every Believer a Witness Evangelism Training Revival in your church, OR come to one of our Pastor Training Clinics and be trained to teach Every Believer a Witness yourself in our "6 Weeks of Witnessing" format.

Regardless of the format, churches that implement our Follow-Up Plan are truly able to "create and maintain an on-going culture of witnessing and evangelism" and get witnessing into the DNA of their churches.

Dennis, Luke 8:39

Joe Blackmon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Parker said...

Joe B:

You said--"Acutally, all I need to do is ask some simple questions:
1) Are most churches that affirm homosexuality or at least wouldn't call it a sin CBF or SBC?
2) Would churches in the CBF or SBC be more likely to say that the Bible "contains" the word of God rather than it "is" the word of God and claim that it cannot be taken literally?
3) Would churches in the CBF or SBC be more likely to support what is commonly referred to as "social gospel" (government welfare programs, having the goal of "reducing the number of abortions" instead of making abortion a crime, etc.)?

In just those three examples I named, the answers would be "CBF". That's all I need to know about them."

Proof please to your above statements.

John Fariss said...

Well, Joe, you will someday stand before the judgment seat, and I hope your answers do you well then.

For myself, I would answer:

(1) Neither I nor the church I pastor affirm or support the practice of homosexuality;
(2) Both I and the church I pastor believe that the Bible IS the written Word of God, AND we take it literally, though contextually (as I hope you do);
(3) Both I and the church I pastor oppose abortion as a means of retroactive birth control, and we would support making abortion illegal--and in the meantime, we support efforts to make it rare.


Big Daddy Weave said...

The CBF and NBC are obviously not one in the same. The CBF is but one of many Baptist organizations that have chosen to partner with the New Baptist Covenant, a point that many intentionally do not make.

I don't think that Joe Blackmon or anyone else could argue with a straight face that the following partnering organizations which represent millions and millions of African-American Baptists are anything but theologically conservative:

-Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Society
-National Baptist Convention of America, Inc.
-National Baptist Convention USA, Inc.
-National Missionary Baptist Convention of America

Same goes for the Native American Baptists and Hispanic Baptists that have chosen to participate at the event in Oklahoma.

Stephen Pruett said...


"How does the Bible teach we are supposed to deal with folks in error?"

Interesting question. I recall it saying that people living openly in sin refusing to repent should be shunned (1 Tim 1; 1 Corinthians 5). Also those in the church who are idle should be avoided (2 Thess 3). It is interesting that Paul equates a wide variety of sins with poor doctrine. I get the idea that he wasn't all that interested in debating the fine points of scripture on non-essentials. In any case, I can't find any biblical case for expelling anyone for questionable doctrine.

Even the heretical teachings of Philetus did not prompt advice to boot him. In fact, the advice was, "24 And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will."

Divisive people who argue endlessly over scriptural minutia are to be shunned (Titus 3) but even heretics are to be confronted in love (Titus 1). Deceivers, "who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh" are not to be welcomed. In 2 Peter 2, we are told that false teachers will be punished by God. What should our response to them be? How about "But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21 Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life." (Jude). Again, in Galatians, it seems that heretics will be dealt with by God, "9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!"

I thought there were instructions to shun heretics or blasphemers, but I couldn't find them. If I missed an example, of this please let me know. However, even if I did, all the examples I found about how believers should deal with false teachers We should be afraid of false them. We should be aware of them, not follow them, confront them in love, and leave it to God to give them what they need (or deserve).

If you can find evidence that the Bible teaches something else, I would be interested in hearing about.

Anonymous said...

1 Corinthians 5:11-13
But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with any who claim to be fellow believers but are sexually immoral or greedy, idolaters or slanderers, drunkards or swindlers. With such persons do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked person from among you."

2 John 1:10
If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them.

Who was the second one written to?

To the lady chosen by God and to her children...

There was a congregation meeting in her house. To invite someone in was to accept them into the congregation.

So we are to expel from among us anyone who claims to be a believer yet lives in unrepentant sin, or does not accept the gospel. Scripture is very clear on this.

Why this is being brought up again, and in this thread, I don't know; I only know that if it had been I who brought it up, the cops would be after me. ;-) But if the guardians will not guard, they will have to answer to the Judge for allowing the flock to be scattered.

Which is why it is so vital to make sure guardians can tell wolves from sheep.

Christiane said...

"You can safely assume
that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do." -Anne Lamott

Debbie Kaufman said...

Les: I am truly disappointed in you. Truly.

Anonymous said...

What happened to the notion that this site was to be theological and not political for a change?


Why are you disappointed with Les? He seemed to converse in a pretty Christian manner to me. Although, he did say that he thought that Wade's pride was showing, but am I wrong or did he seem to be saying that he would like to maintain a relationship as friends?

It is interesting how we all discern the same statements in different ways. I think this is because we're "writing" and not talking face to face, don't you? Requires a lot of grace and giving the benefit of doubt as we "read" what others write.

Debbie Kaufman said...

RRR: This is not the only place Les has commented, although I disagree and am disappointed with his statements here as well.

I have talked, agreed and disagreed with Les for over three years. In this I believe I do know what I am talking about.

Debbie Kaufman said...

BTW: I have talked to Wade face to face along with his wife for about 17 years. That's how long my family and I have had him as our minister. said...


I'm advocating the spread of the gospel in this post, and simply pointing out that the gospel is what is most important.

If you consider that politics then you will always consider my posts political.


Wade said...


I think what Debbie is saying is she is qualified to determined whether or not my "theology" has shifted left, as Les accuses (and she is, by the way), and Debbie is saying it has not. She is also pointing out that she is disappointed that Les would say so something so blatantly (I've moved "leftward" theologically) and publicly without knowledge. She expects that kind of behavior from others - not Les. said...

I agree with Dennis' comment above.

Anybody like to comment on the post itself and get away from comments that have nothing to do with the post?

Jusk asking.


Joe Blackmon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ART PIERCE said...

Wade said:
Knowing that we will be baptizing between 50 and 100 people at our baptismal service on August 9th - if that is what it means for my heart to "lean leftward," then give me more leftward leanings!

I was visiting in a large Baptist church in Tennessee some time ago and in talking to one of the Deacons about its membership. He said to me, we are baptizing 10 to 15 every Sunday. I said to him were all these people coming from. He said to me, most of them are people that said they were not saved the first time, they were baptized and wish to be re-baptized. My question to you Wade; will the people being baptized, be the first time for them?

By the way do you re-baptized those who may say they were not saved in the first time around and count them in your annual report to the convention?

Bob Cleveland said...


I spent an interesting hour in the Coffee shop at Ridgecrest, talking with Dennis Nunn at the "Building Bridges Conference". I really liked his approach, as it certainly goes along with Peter and John's statement that "..we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard".

I fear churches are so "program-oriented" that folks are afraid they don't "know enough" to share Jesus, but everybody can certainly share what they DO know. And their own story is surely that.

Dennis is scheduled to be at FBC Pelham in 2011.

Christiane said...


Below is comment from a Baptist Pastor Johnson, who wrote this in 2008 after the New Baptist Covenant Conference in Atlanta:

"The splintering from the Southern Baptist Convention for some was due to the denial of historic Baptist principles. Others, like me, completely left the SBC, not only for these reasons, but more because of the anemic appeal of resurgent moral superiority.

We heard the call of Jesus for more than the conversion of the individual heart to heaven or as a subjective plateau for personal achievement and purity. The incarnation taught us how dirty hands of service grew out of open minds and accepting hearts. Yet we felt isolated and alone, like a voice crying in the wilderness as we sought to embrace rather than judge the neighbor.

Now, we have this moment, a time to critically ask and hopefully provide some answer to the penetrating questions we face as Americans, as Christians and as Baptists.

* “I’ve been speaking for about 14 minutes. And in those 14 minutes, 225 are estimated to have died of hunger,” (U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa).
* “Jesus preached more and taught more about helping the poor and the sick and the hungry than he did about heaven and hell. Shouldn’t that tell us something?” (John Grisham, perhaps the world’s most read Baptist).

* Not long ago, Baptist fundamentalists spoke of a doctrinal litmus test.

With the arrival of the New Baptist Covenant, maybe a Luke 4 litmus test is the old/new way to begin all over again."

MY COMMENT: When I read the Gospel of St. Luke, I can understand Pastor Johnson's remarks: ' The incarnation taught us how dirty hands of service grew out of open minds and accepting hearts.'

Today I listened to an archived interview of a well-known (we do not speak his name) President of an SBC Seminary who spoke about this:
every four or five years, professors were 'required' to go out into the mission fields in order to 'get their hands dirty with humanity' (his words).

(?) I'm not sure I understand this person at all.

Could it be that the 'differences between left and right are born out of their MOTIVATION to 'get their hands dirty':

is it a 'requirement' ?

or is it the honorable following of One Whose Own Hands once formed us from the dust of the Earth, Whose Hands healed the sores of lepers, and used mud to heal the blind, and Whose Hands were ultimately impaled and bloody so that we could live?

Do some on the right have to be
'required' to 'get their hands dirty with humanity' ???????
I don't think this remark comes from the Spirit of the Gospel of St. Luke, or any Gospel.
What kind of an attitude gives birth to such a remark?
Love, L's

Debbie Kaufman said...

Thank you Wade, you have explained my comment well.

Wayne Smith said...


You have observed the same things that I have in the changes in Brother Wade, becoming more Liberal in His Blog Posts and Comments. I saw a change in your Heart 3 years ago and how God has Blessed your Ministry in the last 3 years. God is at work weeding out those that don’t want to hear and that is so sad. The small churches need a Great Awakening.

Wayne said...

Art Pierce,

As far as I know they are all first timers. Our church does not do the rebaptism thing.



Bryan Riley said...

When will people realize that we will never see people recognize Jesus for who He is until we stop killing each other. Jesus didn't mess around praying for unity right before He gave up His life for us because it was unimportant.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Amen Bryan. said...

Joe Blackmon,

Hmmmm, well let's see here, where is the first place on this webpage where anything about leftward shift or NBC or anything is mentioned. Was it Les? Was it me? Where is the first place it was mentioned? Who brought it up first?

I have learned that it is best to respond on this webpage to the falsehoods on other webpages. The last paragraph of this post, however, is one tenth of what was written. I would like your comment, Joe, on the other 9/10's.

What do you think of people coming to know Jesus?


Bryan Riley said...

It seems that people who love people coming to know Jesus would hold dear what God says results in people knowing Him.

1. Unity with fellow believers.
2. Prayer in the Spirit at all times that fellow believers would come to unity and to a greater knowledge - as in personal, intimate, experiential knowledge - of God
3. Using wholesome words designed to edify and build up the body of Christ.
4. Fearing God more than man.

The list can go on.

Jeff said...

Bryan, Don't forget A Gospel that is undefiled? Doctrine....

Christiane said...

As Christians we are called to be a 'presence' in this world that points to Christ;
To be 'in the world' but not 'of the world'.

In humility, can we go among those who need Him most?
Or do we just 'talk at them'
from a Great Distance?

Is our presence a reflection
of His Presence ?

Do we encounter the doubts of others with our anger and frustration, or with the gentle kindness shown by Christ to Thomas?

Do we listen to their cares with patient love, or overwhelm them with our pride-filled 'knowing'?

And those that are the most hated and rejected of sinners: What do we see when we look at them, with our eyes unblinded by the Lord? What do we see?
And having seen them in His Light, do we offer our hand? Or do we close the door of the inn, and send them out into the night unaided, because we have no room for them in our lives?

If we want to share Him, Christians must go out among the lost ,to bring the gentle strength that flows from the deep Peace of Christ within us.

Our spoken words ring hollow unless we bring within us the Spirit of 'caritas in veritate':
a Spirit that witnesses of Christ the Lord, with a power far greater than words.

Love, L's

Bryan Riley said...


I never forget doctrine, but I always ask "What is doctrine?" It is didiskalia - teaching. How did Jesus teach? With what doctrine did He indoctrinate? As I do that I begin to look at how doctrine is presented in the scriptures and meditate on that. It is never doctrine like we would talk about the Doctrine of Soteriology or the Doctrine of Eschatology.

Former FBC Insider said...


Now THAT was church!!
Preach on.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Jeff: What Bryan wrote in the comment above yours is doctrine. It's greatly ignored but it is doctrine.

Chris Ryan said...


A gospel undefiled is not doctrine. Even if you look at what we call the Gospels, what are you looking at? It is not a systematic presentation of principles which must me mentally processed, understood, and adopted. The Gospel is life. It is THE Life.

Stanley Hauerwas puts it very well, "Some may think that emphasis on narrative as the primary grammar of Christian belief is a theological mistake. Surely we cn talk about God in a more fundamental manner than through stories - eg through doctrine. Doctrinally we affirm that God is our creator and/or redeemer, or that God's essential nature is that of a trinitarian relationship. But such emphasis ignores the fact that such 'doctrines' are themselves a story, or perhaps better, the outline of the story. Claims such as 'God is creator' are simply shorthand ways of reminding ourselves that we believe we are participants in a much more elaborate story of which God is the author. Doctrines, therefore, are not the upshot of the stories; they are not the meaning or heart of the stories. Rather they are tool (sometimes even misleading tools), meant to help us tell the story better." (The Peaceable Kingdom, c.1983, p.25-26)

Somewhat ironically, that is the subject of Wade's post. To tell the story of our life as it has intersected and then been brought closer to parallel with The Life is the true subject of evangelism. It is not four spiritual laws. It is one spiritual Man and how He changed me and can change you.

Christiane said...


Your words about 'intersection' brought to mind an ancient prayer that celebrates the this great event: the Nativity of Christ Incarnated on Earth, AND His reception within our own hearts:

"A child is born to us
a Son is given to us.

Your Eternal Word
leaped down from heaven
in the silent watches of the night,

and now your Church is filled
with wonder
at the Nearness Of Her God.

Open our hearts
to receive His Life
and increase our vision
with the Rising of the Dawn "

Thanks for sharing about the 'intersection' , Chris.
It sure has meaning for me.
Love, L's

Lin said...

It is not a systematic presentation of principles which must me mentally processed, understood, and adopted. The Gospel is life. It is THE Life.


Anonymous said...

Jesus told the Samaritan woman that we would worship God "in spirit and in truth". That to me means both the heart and the head. Both are needed, because the heart alone is easily deceived, while the head alone is cold and lifeless. Together they make an unbreakable bond. That is why we cannot neglect one for the other, and why neither should be promoted over the other.

Ramesh said...

I would encourage everyone to listen Pastor Wade's recent sermon that reflects previous post. Excellent music, singing and sermon.

#23. He Who Has the Son Has Life (I John 5:6-12), of the series I John: The Christian and Complete Joy. If you watch the video, it's titled "He Who Has the Son Has Life", part 23 of series - July 19, 2009 (1 Jn. 5:6-12).

Christiane said...


Thanks for telling folks about it.
I have seen Wade's sermon and it was so moving. Wade told about the forty Roman centurions who were martyred and are much honored in Orthodox tradition. ( I wonder where he heard the story ?)

I am still praying for Emily. Thanks for letting us know her need.
Love, L's

Ramesh said...

Wiki > Forty Martyrs of Sebaste.

Ron said...

Joe Blackmon said "What you associate with, you support." Since Jerry Falwell associated with Sun Myung Moon and the Moonies for years and accepted financial support from them we must assume Joe is saying the Jerry Falwell and his followers suppport the Moonie heresy and Sun Myung Moon. Since Paige Patterson and Paul Pressler for years associated with the Coors Beer family and Reconstructionist Theology followers for political purposes we must assume Joe is accusing Patterson and Pressler of supporting the beer industry and the reconstructionist heresy.

Darrell said...

I have gotten more than a semester at seminary in your last few post.



Rex Ray said...

Off topic.
This was on The Baptist Standard blog:

Adrian Rogers' son resigning as IMB missionary

By Bob Allen
Published: July 16, 2009
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (ABP) -- David Rogers, son of the legendary preacher and Southern Baptist Convention president Adrian Rogers, is resigning after 19 years as a missionary to Spain.
Rogers, a blogger who has written extensively about his disagreement with International Mission Board policies against praying in tongues, said Baptist politics had nothing to do with the decision, which is based solely on health issues involving a family member.
Rogers said he will remain in the Memphis, Tenn., area to work full time with the Adrian Rogers Pastor Training Institute, where he has been editing training materials in Spanish and English on a temporary basis for several months.

David Rogers is stepping down as an IMB missionary to work for an institute honoring his father's legacy.
At the institute, founded in 2003, Rogers works alongside his brother Steve and sits at the desk formerly used by his father while he was pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church near Memphis for 32 years before retiring in 2005.
Rogers said part of his work will be dedicated to building the Adrian Rogers Legacy Library, a project by the family to electronically index and cross-reference notes and transcripts of more than 6,000 sermons the elder Rogers preached during a ministry spanning more than 50 years before his death in 2005.
Rogers and his wife, Kelly, have been on stateside appointment and leave of absence for two years. He said they had planned to return to Spain a year ago but decided to remain in the United States for personal family reasons.
He described the decision to leave the IMB as "painful" and said he would continue to support and pray for missionary colleagues still on the field.
Three years ago Rogers wrote IMB trustees objecting to a new policy banning missionaries who admit to a "private prayer language" in their devotional lives. He said he could not speak for his late father, but he voiced concern that the "conservative resurgence" that he helped launch in 1979 was "in danger of being commandeered in a new, more extreme direction."
Rogers told Associated Baptist Press July 16 his opinions about IMB policies or SBC politics had nothing to do with his resignation, and he hoped media would not ask personal questions that intrude into a private family decision.

Rex says:
I feel the SBC has lost a great missionary.

Chris Ryan said...


You are right that there is a mental aspect to our faith. But to what do we conform our mind? The mind of Christ. How do we know Christ? Doctrine? I think not. We know Christ by His story as it meets ours. Doctrine is an outline of that story, a briefer interpretation of what we have seen with our eyes and known as our hearts burned within us.

I would love to teach systematic theology one day. But I realize the limitations which doctrine must operate within. For as you said, the head alone is cold and lifeless. Therefore, if the Gospel is equated with doctrine then it is just as cold and lifeless. There is no life and life abundant in doctrine alone. There is no life in mental assent, period (unless we have bought into the Enlightenment without reserve). There is life in Christ. Christ is a person.

Chris Ryan said...

Let me add:

It was that same Jesus who told the Samaritan woman to worship in spirit and truth who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life."

Anonymous said...

But then comes the paradox: How would we know what Jesus said without the written documents?

Having the written Word prevents what is typically but fallaciously presumed: that our beliefs are no different than the classic "telephone game" illustration. Memories and stories change, but documents from two thousand years ago or more keep the original message accurate.

Most religions will tell you of changed lives, miracles, inner witness, and all that the Christian experience can muster. What we have that is unique is eyewitness testimony of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. And the very word "witness" speaks of legality and testimony-- which appeal to the mind.

They are, as I've been saying, intertwined.

Now "doctrine" can mean many things, but what I mean by it is that eyewitness testimony and its implications, which constitute the NT as we know it. So there we are, having come full circle, to an unavoidable truth: we cannot experience the true Jesus until we know the truth about Jesus.

Chris Ryan said...

How did Paul know without the written documents? He tells us in Galatians. Christ met Him and changed Him and Christ instructed him. And that is how Paul claims to be a witness to the Resurrection. But that is far too spiritual an interpretation to make Protestants comfortable. But that is why I think Paul would invert your statement: we cannot know the truth about Jesus until we know the true Jesus.

Anonymous said...

As I said though, other religions can produce experiences that change people's lives. How would we tell the difference? And Paul was not ignorant; he did not live in a vacuum, such that he would not know anything about the real, historical Jesus and the claims of Christians, or why else would he have been persecuting them? He had the knowledge first, and then he met the Reality.

I have heard of the thousands that came forward at Billy Graham crusades, only to be told by counselors that they should return to their religions and be better members of those religions. Or what about Jesus' flaming condemnation of the Pharisees, who went over land and sea to win a single convert, then made them "twice as much a son of hell" than they were?

We cannot have one without the other; we cannot properly identify the Savior with experience alone. If that were true then we'd have no need for the NT at all. Or what is the purpose of Acts 1:3? "After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God."

Jesus not only appeared, He gave evidence. He gave instruction. Why? What is the purpose of proof?

Christiane said...


Have you read any of the Patristic writings on the Nature of Christ and on the Trinity?

Love, L's

Anonymous said...

Not much.

Chris Ryan said...


Paul didn't live in a vacuum, but yet again you get his testimony backwards. You say, "He had the knowledge first, and then he met the Reality." Paul says that he and the other Jews had a zeal that was not according to knowledge. He met Christ and then he had a knowledge, a wisdom, worth sharing.

Other religions can testify to their experiences. And they too will have a zeal not according to knowledge. We have eyewitness testimony, but other religions have their boooks too. There is a subjectivity to our own faith which we are culturally conditioned to fight, but that is actually central to what it means to have faith. It seems foolish to the outsider, but to those who have been touched by Christ it is the power of God unto salvation.

What is the purpose of Acts 1:3 - just what it says it is. HE appeared to them and gave them proofs. That is the purpose of the NT (and even the OT), that God may appear in our midst and convince us that He alone is worthy of worship. They are tools for accomplishing worship, but they are only tools. As Wade pointed out in a previous post, we worship the God the Bible reveals not the Bible itself. And I would add that the Bible isn't necessary for worship. God is perfectly capable of inspiring worship without it. For us, though, the Bible with prayer is the surest means for Christ's revealing Himself to us.

Anonymous said...


The knowledge I referred to was knowledge of the facts about Jesus. He knew there really was such a person and that His followers were calling Him the Messiah. And you equivocate on "zeal without knowledge". Paul defines it in Rom. 10:3, "Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness." They knew what Jesus said, they knew what His followers were saying, and they rejected those claims to His divinity. They knew ABOUT Jesus; they knew the facts.

Faith is not, as Tozer put it, a blind acceptance of all that has about it the flavor of the supernatural. Our faith is based upon knowledge of the resurrection of Jesus, attested by witnesses and offered as evidence of His divinity. Salvation comes by acceptance of facts whose realization changes and transforms the heart. Other religions have no objectivity to their faith, but that is not the case with Christianity.

I think you missed the point on Acts 1:3, which I bolded. You seem to agree now that Jesus gave proofs, but I asked what the reason was, if we need no such things but only subjective inner witness. When I appeal to the written Word, I appeal to facts which we can verify have not fallen prey to the "telephone game", so I know that the Object of my faith is not a made-up story or fable.

Again I ask: is it the Source or the medium that makes something "spiritual"? Do the words of God lose credibility when written, as opposed to when spoken? Is it not insulting to God to dismiss His words once they are written down?

In other words, while you might accuse me of worshiping the Bible, I could accuse you of "treating as a profane thing" the written words of God. And I would challenge you to justify telling a new believer that they have to take the Bible with a grain of salt since we cannot know which parts are true, so they have to hope they clearly and flawlessly hear the Spirit as they read.

How much would your faith differ from that of other religions without the Bible? How would you convince them that Jesus isn't just another prophet, and that there is only one God, only accessible through Jesus?

Chris Ryan said...


Let me take your last question first, as I believe that is the most central. You ask, "How would you convince them that Jesus isn't just another prophet, and that there is only one God, only accessible through Jesus?"

I answer, I wouldn't. Because it is not my job to convince. It is up to Christ to reveal Himself, whether by written word or otherwise. I think that we are beginning to talk past each other here. We both agree that proof's are necessary, yes. You are talking about the proof offered in the Bible, I am talking about the proof offered by Christ Himself into the lives of those who would be and those who are belieivers. The two forms of proof are certainly not exclusive. It is that one is more inclusive than the other. You are talking only about the objective, I offer both the subjective and objective as valid proofs. God's words are not profaned by their writing down, but nor is God's word and work confined to what is written. Otherwise, John 21:25 is unintelligable.

Anonymous said...

it is not my job to convince

Acts 17:4
Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas...

Acts 18:4
Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

Acts 26:28
Then Agrippa said to Paul, "Do you think that in such a short time you

Acts 28:23
... He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:11
Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade people...

You say, "The two forms of proof are certainly not exclusive.

I've been saying this the whole time. But then you say,

It is that one is more inclusive than the other. You are talking only about the objective,"

Which isn't true at all. I have continually stressed the need for both. The reason we are talking past each other is because you somehow managed to miss what I've said repeatedly.

Anonymous said...

Obviously the Acts 26:28 ref. shoudl read,

Then Agrippa said to Paul, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?"

Bryan Riley said...

Paula and Chris,

The beautiful thing about God is that He loves each one of us so much that He meets us where we are. He pursues and woos us and gets on our level. That is what Christ did by coming to earth, but it still is what God does today through the Holy Spirit. For one it might be a convincing proof (e.g., Thomas - which, note, had nothing to do with words). For another, it might not require such. For a shepherd He reveals Himself as the Great Shepherd (David), and for Moses, one who has a bit of an identity crisis, He reveals His identity and tells him who his fathers are.

You are both emphasizing the things that God has given you to emphasize and be passionate about. Our Body is incomplete without both of you - and those whom God is pursuing needs both of your strengths because some will begin to see God revealed through Chris and others through Paula - remember that Christ is in you - and in you hope is revealed. Remember that all that is happening is happening for good so that you will be conformed more into the image of Jesus.

Did you know that 2/3rds of the world today is illiterate? Most are because they don't have a written language, but there are also people who have an intelligence level, given them by God, that leaves them without the ability to read. God meets these people where they are. And they can love Him with all their minds without ever reading God's word. They must hear it, and we have it, and we can preach it, but they will never spend hours studying man-created, complex doctrines out of it. they just want to meet the living God.

Others, with their gifts for analysis and love for the written word, will greatly learn much about God through deep study of the written word. (Of course, if they never encounter Him personally, it will all be in vain.)

Christiane said...


May I offer some thoughts from two other perspectives: the Judaic and the Catholic/Orthodox ?

In Judaism, there is an intimacy about the celebration of Passover, where the events are 're-lived' as though one was present right there with the original participants.

In Catholic/Orthodox tradition, we have the same sense of being present with the first Christians through our participation in Eucharistic celebration. For us, it is not a 'memorial' in the Baptist sense, but as a communion with Christ more understood to be 'experienced', as though the centuries did not stand between us and the Lord.

So Judaism and the Catholic/Orthodox traditions share this sense of intimacy with the ancient.

A rabbi will understand a Catholic or an Orthodox service in this regard, more than a Baptist minister would.

So different traditions have a different sense of being 'present' within the ancient sacred events.
For us, the 'communion' bond of the Eucharist has a timelessness, that allows us to experience His Presence with the same power as did the first Christians.

I have for a long time known that the Good Lord shares His Presence equally as intimately with the souls and spirits of Protestants who seek Him with humility.

I know He cares for all in the Body of Christ, but most especially, for those at the heart of it: the ones who are 'challenged' by retardation and other difficulties which might limit them from 'knowing' Him through scriptures.
He is more Present to them than we know. Love, L's

Chris Ryan said...


I just went back and reviewed our entire conversation. I'm sorry that I missed where you were open to both. It seemed to me that you were continually trying to pull things back to the more exclusivist position of "only the Bible is proof." I see where I was misreading you, now. If I am understanding you better, your position is that the Bible is the most reliable proof while our personal experience is the most compelling proof for us. Is that fair?

Also, I have been trying to place the emphasis on Christ's work in us and you have, if I have understood you, been placing the emphasis on our participation in Christ's work within us. Again, not exclusive to each other but we are seeing as more relevant to this conversation different talking points (as Bryan pointed out).

I kept trying to draw things out to big picture and you kept trying to talk details. Both are important, I imagine the focus on each comes easier to both of us and thus the frustrations when other people aren't looking at the same sized picture we are.

Thanks for some perspective and insight.

Anonymous said...


Yes, I think that's a better description. I think the place in this particular thread where I expressed that is the comment marked Sun Jul 19, 06:13:00 PM 2009.

What happens is that if I see one side being emphasized, I will respond with the other in an effort to bring balance to the discussion. If I keep arguing one side it's because I don't see it being considered or understood. I also have a habit of taking someone's argument to its logical conclusion, which can give the erroneous impression that I'm accusing the person of holding that extreme. Instead, I'm trying to impress upon them how their position can lead to that, whether it was their conscious intention or not.

And thank you also for the discussion. That sort of thing is a much better way of studying a topic than if people try to reach compromise. For example, there are blogs where people aren't allowed to passionately argue their position because it's deemed "divisive". But the result is the stifling of thought and personality, and only the most superficial discussion of the topic. But when two sides argue vigorously against each other, each side is motivated to expose the faults in the other's argument, and the onlooker derives the greatest benefit.

Christiane said...


You wrote this " . . . there are also people who have an intelligence level, given them by God, that leaves them without the ability to read. God meets these people where they are. And they can love Him with all their minds without ever reading God's word."

I know this to be true. Thanks for writing about it so beautifully. My friend, Susan Dorward, is a Dutch Reformed Minister who serves at Eastern Christian Children's Retreat, whose residents cannot know of Him in 'normal' ways, but only by the Spirit.
She says she has been blessed by the residents more than she has blessed them, when it comes to witnessing to His Presence in their lives.

You understand.
So few people 'get it'.
So few.

Love, L's

Rhology said...

I know I'm a couple of days late, but if anyone (Pastor Burleson included) could enlighten me how this statement:

just let me simply say that after I have spent one week observing the Spirit of God producing some incredible conversions to faith in Jesus Christ through the faithful sharing of the gospel by my church members at Emmanuel - I no longer care that others may accuse me of leaning "leftward."

I know my heart, and if the excitement I feel in seeing so many conversions to Christ- and knowing that we will be baptizing between 50 and 100 people at our baptismal service on August 9th - if that is what it means for my heart to "lean leftward," then give me more leftward leanings! :)

is connected to the complaint that Pastor Burleson will be preaching at the NBC meeting, I would really appreciate it.
After thinking about it several minutes (and perhaps I need more minutes) and reading half the combox, I still don't see it.


Grace and peace,