I just listened to Tony’s interview with you on your blog, The Down Grade and it was very revealing.
First off I want to say you seem a very nice guy and very personable… this does not always translate on the blogosphere or in the forums we both tend to travel. I appreciate that you are not as much on the attack as I had thought you were… and please as you read this realize I have a friendly smile and do so in a way that I hope is as a friend and brother in Christ and not an enemy. This is not an attack on you at all... just some observations.
Man there are some major errors in your theology! I mean that in the nicest way…
Let me explain one area for starters…
God is sovereign… I hope we agree. Yes, we agree, but your definition is lacking in depth.
Yet you state that there are some things God “cannot do” like lie. The Scripture states that, Iggy:Hebrews 6:18: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us...
Titus 1:2: ...In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began...
You have created a major contradiction. For if God is sovereign, then nothing is impossible. If God cannot do something and is “bound” to it, then God is subject to the thing He is “Bound” to… God is not longer sovereign… the thing He is bound to becomes sovereign over God.
Now, it is not that God “cannot do” this or that, but “will not” do something as it is against His nature to do that thing. So you are limiting your Sovereign God and making him less than sovereign. I will agree that cannot was a poor choice of words. He will not, because it is not in his nature to sin would be much more accurate. However, this holds true in his judgement according to his law. God is a righteous judge, he will not allow those who have broken His law into heaven with him. He has set the standard of His moral law, he has promised that his wrath will abide on those who have broken His law. In a human sense, he is bound by his justice
because God will not lie, or break his promises. Again, words lack power to describe God perfectly. He can be both sovereign and choose to put limitations on Himself. He is all powerful, but he can choose to limit his power. He is all just, yet he is all merciful. How is that possible? Because He is God. He can choose to do what he wants, but within his revealed character, he cannot and will not do certain things. Yet he is still sovereign.
If God is not sovereign then He cannot be just, but must bow to the justice of the thing He is bound to. God will not do some things as it is against His Character. He does things because of His Name as it is because of His character to do or to not to do. If you take away God’s will and bind Him in anyway, I do not bind Him, he binds Himself. He can do that, He is God. then He cannot be sovereign. If He cannot choose to forbear, or be patient to not judge immediately? I would argue this self-sufficient choice proves he is sovereign. Boy, talk about putting God in a box?! God may limit Himself as He did in the incarnation as Jesus emptied Himself (Philippians 2:6-7) and became totally dependant on the Father by the Holy Spirit. (John 5:19)
Get that so far? I do, Carlos. Do you?
God in Truth….
God is Truth and Jesus is the Truth Incarnate. To know Truth we need to know Jesus. Amen We do not approach God from our view of Truth but from His. Jesus states in John 5: 39-40. “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
Without the Person Who is Truth Incarnate and without first having the Life that is in the Son you cannot have Truth. We may have a perception of Truth but it will only be relative to our own limited knowledge. So to say that we are to seek God in Truth is backwards… God reveals His Truth to us and we gain understanding of Truth by that revelation by what is called the “renewing of the mind”. We cannot seek God in truth, only he can draw us into truth. We must worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth, which means, only if we are new creatures in Christ can we worship the father rightly. He does reveal this truth to us, and we cannot know Jesus except if we know the truth (Jesus) which will set us free. This is an immediate and progressive action. The first action is justification, where man is drawn by God to Christ, and man responds by faith given him by God. When we place this faith in Christ, we become new creatures in Christ.
That is why to place regeneration ahead of salvation is a bit dangerous as it implies one has already arrived. As we are “Born of Heaven” or “Born from above” which is the literal translation of being “born again” we begin the process of regeneration that comes to its fulfillment when we are in the New Creation. (Titus 3:5) You might note in Titus 3:5 that it is “the washing” which is not the same as “having been washed” it is a process that begins and continues until we are “renewed” by the Holy Ghost at the Resurrection, as stated in verse 7 if you stay in context.
So we may agree that one need be born of heaven, yet I think that you miss the nuance of what is actually going on by the system of theology you use. Not at all, I think many miss the nuance of salvation being both a settled and progressive event, with all the progress being made as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit.
It is not as you stated. “to believe rightly”… in fact, you miss the subtle nuance of the passage in which it is that if one believes they are not condemned and in that if they do not believe they are condemned already. It is not in the “belief” but the person that one is saved. Or as Jesus stated, “so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” (John 3 14-15) So what you have done and is done most often unintentionally is switch the focus from belief in Him to being saved by one’s “Belief” and even more narrow, a “rightly believed, belief” … and this is what Plato taught and was known as Gnosticism… to believe in our own beliefs or abstract thoughts or the immaterial … as if it was a higher reality than the material. This is dangerous as it is subtly moving salvation being based on “the Person of Jesus Christ come in the flesh” to “immaterial abstract beliefs” and as John teaches in 1 John 4: 2. “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3. but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” So if I was not as nice as I was I would point out that you have allowed the Spirit of anti Christ replace the Person of Jesus if you assert that it is our belief that saves us… of course I do not think you believe that, but as I listened to you talk to Tony Jones… that is exactly what you stated and I heard.
Now, “What makes a Christian” is not as important as how one is brought to and finds salvation. I disagree, that is the absolute starting point for all these things. What makes a Christian is repentance and faith in Christ alone, that is being born from above. Often what makes a “Christian” is reduced to being religious. I hate religion, religion is simply man's lame attempt at finding ways to please God in himself. Jesus stated that we are to believe and do. Not just believe. But we must believe to be a Christian. So much focus is on just believing and not doing. In fact much of the doing is man made busy work… and misses the “works of God” done in and through us. I agree, but we must be before our works can glorify God. If we have, by God's grace, believed and placed our faith in Christ, the spiritual result is good works. Otherwise, these works you describe are just religious acts.
Yet here you also stated that some confess things like "baptism saves us"... and yet, there are those like Chris Rosebrough who goes to the Lutheran church... and believes just this! Yet, you are more concerned that Tony thinks that most do not "think" this way, while you ignore Chris Rosebrough teaching others what you have just condemned... http://www.blogger.com/www.extremetheology.com
I know you will then say, that you are not responsible for Chris, yet then how are you responsible for Tony or me or anyone for that matter?I am not responsible for anyone but myself, but I am concerned for you and Tony, and, if Chris believes that, I am also concerned for Him. I know Lutherans who do not believe that Baptism saves, but believe that is is a covenant baptism, trusting that infants when baptized and raised in the faith will come into the faith at the age of accountability. This is similar to Anglican teaching. It does not always work that way.
I see an agenda a mile wide and in a huge steaming pile and the consistent refusal to face your "comrades in arms". In fact as you stated you are a Cal-Minian, which is fine with me, yet Ken Silva would state flat out you are a semi-pelagian and have a man loving man based faith… and as I listen to you I would actually agree! How do you know what Ken would say? You are judging a person wrongly! You cannot judge Ken's intentions, only his actions! You are dead wrong there buddy.
Again, you seem to be blind to all that... and focus on the gnat while the camel swallows you.
You are in the minority and in that minority there is a huge contradiction. You have Lutherans and Calvinists saying that we must be like them, when historical Luther did not like Calvin though Calvin liked Luther... Zwingli agreed with all points with Luther except over the Lord's Supper and Luther refused to talk to Zwingli ever again after their meeting.
So, which tradition of man are we supposed to follow all in the name of being reformed?
Again, if someone on your "side" studied some history there might be a breakthrough... we might find common ground and actually seek real Unity in the faith. Unity can only be found in truth, and truth is a known commodity. We see it in the Word of God, and in the person of Jesus Christ. I am on the side of Jesus, and He is not on the side of a generous orthodoxy. He is the WAY the TRUTH the LIFE no man gets to the Father but by HIM.
Did you know according to Dr David Calhoun at Worldwide Theological Seminary, which is a reformed school that the teaching of Grace might have been lost if it was not for the Christian Mystics? That these men inspired Augustine, Aquinas, St Bernard, which inspired Luther, and Calvin and all the great reformers?
What we have is a huge lump of ignorance attacking others out of their ignorance...
Did you realize that the one who gave us St Anthony of the Desert also was instrumental in giving us the present canon of scripture as well as the Nicene Creed?
Again, this is how dangerous people like Ken Silva and Ingrid are...
Did you know that Ingrid pushed a form of Contemplative prayer on her own blog while attacking others for practicing it?
I mean you guys always attack the Emerging church on thing and call us to be like you, yet we look at history and wonder which "you" are we to be? It seems that you can't even decide which one you should be... and you want us to be like you, and you claim all this certainty?
I stand here again calling you and your friends to repentance in the Name of Jesus... that you would seek Unity in the Faith in Christ and not around your man made indecisive doctrines.
The bottom line is that when I listened to you speak and noted that you are attending John MacArthur’s Masters Institute… working on a Masters degree… and you state that the emerging church or emergent are “hard to nail down” or “some squishy or untidy language being used” and I hear you contradict yourself all over and as I pointed out… I wonder what is being taught at that and other seminaries.
Again, John this is not meant to be harsh or mean or whatever, but just what I have observed and heard from your camp and from you.
Now realize we have not even gotten into your view of the atonement and how you seem to deny the finished works of Christ on the Cross by stating that God is “bound” to punish those according to the Law. He is bound by himself to judge rightly, according to his perfect, holy standard. No In fact you contradict Jesus own words by saying that God is bound to “judge” mankind… John 5:22 flat out states the contrary to your assertion. “Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son” In context, we see Jesus as a man has 'set aside' willingly his Godhood (Ph 2:6-11) during his incarnation. God has granted him in his incarnation judgement, life giving power, etc. is what the bible teaches. In fact Jesus goes on to say that “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” But those who do not believe are condemned already-verse 19- in opposition to the teachings of McLaren, Pagitt, Jones, and Bell (you might recongnize John 3:17 there) to condemn means that Jesus would judge it, yet scripture also states, “-those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” (John 5:29) but what you are missing is who and how people who do evil will be judged. “You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. (John 8:15-16) which leads us to how one will be judged, "As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.” (John 12: 47-48)
First notice why one will be judged besides doing evil. It is because they rejected Jesus, they are not judge because God is bound by the Law… it is because they rejected Jesus. Who was the propitiation- the final and total payment- for the debt we owe because we sinned
Second, notice that it is by the Words that Jesus spoke… for as scripture states, “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6). Jesus dealt with sin on the Cross and in with that we are only faced with the wages of Sin… which is death. What do dead men need most? Life! The Life is in the Son… Christ died “once for all” or as scripture states, “he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself”. Notice that last phrase, as it is very important in understanding the Cross… “to do away with sin” or as John the Baptist stated, “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. You confuse the propitiation of sin with salvation, for as Roman 5:10 plainly states; “For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”
We are saved through His Life… yet you are still saying that God is bound by the Law that Jesus fulfilled for those who would believe and must punish mankind by that demands of the Law for those who choose not to believe . This is not the proper understanding of the Law at all. The Law was to reveal sin and show that wrath was stored up for us, yet instead we find God is longsuffering and kind and gave his only Son to die in our place so that we may have new life by the power of the Resurrection. People who reject Jesus reject their own salvation. It is that simple. People reject Jesus, and choose God's wrath instead of his mercy, by trying to works that please God, and by refusing to turn to Christ in faith.
There is much more John that I would love to talk about with you. I do hope this will lead you into a deeper understanding of what our great faith is about and that we share.