July 2, 2012

PCUSA Pastor on Evangelism: “Knock It Off”

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Before the heavy proceedings of General Assembly 2012 went under way, members of the Presbyterian Church (USA) took the opportunity to visit various churches in Pittsburgh. Progressives flocked to the gorgeous East Liberty Presbyterian Church (ELPC), Pittburgh’s flagship congregation for liberal theology. It turns out that the packed sanctuary would be about 2/3 to 3/4 out-of-town visitors. I went to listen in on what this (in)famous congregation had to say to its numerous visitors. Chances for a good scoop were high since the church website revealed that the sermon would center on that veritable standby of progressive theology—and, to my knowledge, one of the few portions of Scripture that liberal Christians put to memory—Micah 6:8. Those unfamiliar with liberal eisegesis may be unfamiliar with the narrow partisan positions derived from this verse as it is pulled out of context. I, however, always anticipate some humorous nonsense culled from this Scripture portion and wondered what Sunday’s particular reiteration would look like. Reinforcing my professional hopes was the announcement that openly gay Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson would act as liturgist. Just the night before he had spoken to the radical pansexual More Light Presbyterians.

I tried to glean as much as I could from the pre-sermon service: a gorgeous Gothic cathedral, rousing hymnody provided by a massive organ (something I direly miss from my childhood) and the Pittsburgh Symphony brass, and a stately (and very un-Presbyterian) procession of the cross. As the medievals might say, my soul was lifted to the higher spheres thanks to this gorgeous rendition of “All Creatures of Our God and King.” But the exultation soon came to a crashing halt by the time we arrived at the teaching part of the service as I had expected.

The Rev. Dr. Randall K. Bush opened with this famous viral video to prove that we now live in a “single global civilization.” “How would we live to see the world as God sees it?” he asked. The pastor then asserted, “We started to commodify [the Gospel] as if we owned it.” He mocked the 1700s and 1800s missionary movements, with missionaries and their supporting societies going out into the world to share the Gospel of Christ. He made sure to put the phrase “evangelize to the heathen” in ominous scare quotes. To my astonishment at least, he then claimed, “As of this point, the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been preached to all the corners of the world, so knock it off.” He followed up with yet another proof of theological cluelessness: “Once the evangelical notion of the church can be turned down for a moment, the wisdom of other faiths can finally speak.”

In the crass dialect of internet memes, I essentially said this in my head during the entire proceeding:

what is this i don’t even

But I digress. After discrediting the church’s duty to evangelical proclamations, Bush prophesied, “Once the evangelical approach to the New Testament church has been turned down a bit, we can finally hear the calling of our foundational faith.” That foundation, of course, is doing justice, showing mercy, and walking humbly with God. That’s right folks, one verse pulled from context (and one, I might add, we fail to follow on a near-daily basis) overrides the Gospels and Paul’s epistles (Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians especially come to mind). Bush offered such tropes as “justice means a religion not so much about doctrine but reconciliation,…it means balancing your personal good with the common good,” and “we redistribute power, we redistribute priorities.” The pastor told his flock that, when they “do” Micah 6:8, “redemption,…atonement,…everything else comes from that.” In other news, free energy discovered by harnessing generators to John Calvin and John Knox as they roll in their graves.

The Rev. Dr. Bush made several claims that merit further inquiry. First of all, how does the existence of a “single global civilization” somehow discount the Great Commission’s call to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world”? I fail to see the logic here. I really don’t see how it follows that A (global community) demands B (no more missionary evangelism). Perhaps there need to be changes for the attitudes and techniques, but since when does “there are other people groups and religions out there” mean “don’t try to convert people to the one true faith”? Likewise, how come the global issue isn’t seen as a problem, but as a sort of unqualified good? As local communities disentegrate in the “global” age, we give up true human incarnational neighborliness for interface with various electronic screens.

Also, did the church somehow “commodify” the Gospel message out of the blue/through time, or have its exclusive truth claims always been there? Let’s look at the Great Commission again: “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” The Gospel isn’t commodified. Instead, the church is entrusted with the Gospel. That is its work: to establish the Kingdom of God. And that Kingdom is made up of citizens, not just warm feelings of relativist multiculturalism.


62 Responses to PCUSA Pastor on Evangelism: “Knock It Off”

  1. I especially like your last paragraph.

  2. Lon says:

    Wow! So, either God the Father, Son, and Spirit are exclusivists (aka 1 way, 1 truth, 1 life John 14:6) or we should all be Universalists, or maybe Agnostics? There’s an awful lot of the Bible one must reject as the authentic, authoritative words of God to get to the position you described from Dr. Bush.

  3. Dan Trabue says:

    First, thanks for pointing to that viral video. I had missed it, it’s a great one!

    Secondly, as a member of a church that preaches on God’s justice, love and walking with God (as referred to in Micah 6: 8) may I offer a few thoughts on this…

    That’s right folks, one verse pulled from context (and one, I might add, we fail to follow on a near-daily basis) overrides the Gospels and Paul’s epistles (Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians especially come to mind).

    I don’t know the Bush you cite in this story, but he sounds like he’s preaching/teaching the sorts of things that our anabaptist-ish church preaches and teaches. Namely, that we don’t believe that

    Do Justice,
    Love Mercy,
    Walk Humbly with God

    are an isolated theme from a minor OT prophet, but that it is indeed a theme common to the Bible and, indeed, to the Gospel of our Lord, Jesus. Consider…

    When jesus began his ministry, he told us why he’d come…

    I have come to preach good news to the poor, to bring liberty to the captives, healing for the sick, to release the oppressed and proclaim the Day of God’s Good Favor [oft thought to be a reference to the OT Jubilee message]

    (and, as an aside, that paraphrase is from memory – no need to try to demonize your Christian family that you consider more progressive/liberal than you – we, too, memorize and know the Bible quite well, oft-times, albeit not well-enough, to be sure).

    Consider also how common this theme is biblically…

    The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern… speak and judge fairly, defend the rights of the poor and needy… (proverbs)

    I cannot stand your assemblies… away with the noise of your songs! …But let justice roll on like a river… (Amos)

    For, if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly practice justice between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood… then I will let you dwell in this place…

    Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor… (Jeremiah)

    Woe to those who enact evil statutes… so as to deprive the needy of justice, and rob the poor of My people of their rights…

    Is this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into the house (Isaiah)

    And, as I’m sure you know, the list would go on and on.

    Consider our Lord’s own teaching, in issuing a warning to the religious folk of his day…

    Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.

    The call to Do Justice is an essential Christian teaching, found throughout the bible, including in Jesus’ teachings.

    And so, in the so-called Great Commission, it would seem to me that Jesus calls us to work for justice…

    As you are going through the world, make disciples, and teach them to observe all those things I’ve been teaching you

    What were those things that Jesus had been teaching?

    Wouldn’t they include…

    Turn the other cheek
    Love your enemies
    I have come to proclaim good news to the poor
    Blessed are you who are poor, blessed are you who are hungry
    Woe to you who are rich…
    don’t worry about the clothes you wear or the food you eat, but seek first God’s Kingdom

    etc, etc. Aren’t these Jesus’ teachings that we are to teach to others?

    In short, isn’t salvation by grace, by God’s grace, by our lives of grace – including our acts of mercy AND justice – isn’t this part of the Gospel message that Jesus modeled for us and that we are to teach?

    I guess I’m asking for some clarification, because it seems you are criticizing your Christian brothers for doing exactly what Jesus taught, but I’m sure I must be missing a point. What is wrong or unbiblical about teaching/doing justice?

    • Charles meaning says:

      I did not see in your post anything about Jesus’ Gospel of the forgiveness of sin, for which his was brutally beaten and spilled his blood up there on the cross. Also I didn’t see anything in your post about Jesus’ words to repent of sin, that is to turn away from sin, such as when he told the woman caught in the act of sexual immorality “Your sins are forgiven. Go and sin no more.” Things like this are what noticed missing from your post.

      • Dan Trabue says:

        To be sure, Jesus taught about the forgiveness of sin. Jesus offered a sacrifical life as an example of sacrificial, grace-filled love – of God’s love. Jesus taught us to repent (repent from the sins of arrogance, of presuming to speak for God, of greed, of the sins of the pharisees, etc, etc…) and to walk in his ways.

        I didn’t list ever teaching of Jesus, just a few. But my point was that when Jesus taught us to, as we were going places (which is my understanding of how best to translate, “Go ye therefore…”) to teach all those things that Jesus taught.

        I think it’s possible that some of us have limited “evangelism” to meaning only a specific little “Romans Road” sort of presentation. My guess would be that this is what Bush was reacting to, but that’s just a guess.

        Are we in agreement, Charles, that when Jesus taught us to make disciples and teach all things that Jesus taught, that he meant “all things…”?

        I bet we are.

      • Charles meaning says:

        Dan, this post is in response to your response to my first post. Your list of sins you mentioned that need to be repented of is a good one, but I think there are a few more sins equally important to be repented of that would probably make your list a bit more representative. I would suggest drawing from the list there toward the end of Romans chapter 1. Although that list is not complete, it is a well-rounded list of sins we need to turn away from that Jesus, in his goodness and gracious kindness, will surely forgive.

      • Dan Trabue says:

        Again, I’m not trying to list every teaching of Jesus. My question, though, was: Wouldn’t we agree that the great commission teaching is that we are to make disciples, teaching them “all things” that Jesus taught? Not merely some Romans Road, modern version of the Gospel?

    • Ron Henzel says:

      No, there is nothing wrong with wrong or unbiblical with teaching or doing justice. But there is something a little preposterous about leaving long comments on a blog post you haven’t read very well.

      • Dan Trabue says:

        My apologies, Ron, for the overly long comment. In some of my comments at some more conservative sites, they have complained because I have offered an opinion with no biblical backing. This time, I offered the biblical backing and that has made it longer.

        What’s the right answer?

        I don’t know what makes you think I have not read the post, though, that seems an odd comment to make. Of course I read the post, that is what raised the concern on my part that the author seemed to be downplaying the biblical teaching of Justice.

      • Ron Henzel says:

        No, Dan, once again I think you miss the point. It’s not about leaving an overly-long comment, but that you did so without interacting with the primary point of the post—which is kind of hard to miss, since it’s in the title!

        Randall K. Bush wants evangelical Christians to stop preaching the Gospel. That’s the main point.

        Now, I can’t definitively determine what the Gospel means for you, but if I were to speculate based on the flavor of your comments, it seems to me that you define “the Gospel” as being inclusive of all the moral teachings of Christ. If so, you and I have a major difference in understanding what the Gospel is, because you do not separate Law and Gospel the same way that the Protestant Reformers did, and I am a Reformed Christian. If you’re Anabaptist, that is understandable. I don’t want to misrepresent you, but my impression seems confirmed by the manner in which you seem to deprecate “Romans Road” presentations of the Gospel as being too limiting.

        For those of us in the Reformation tradition (and I would place Anabaptists in a separate tradition), the Gospel certainly can be neatly summarized in presentations such as “The Romans Road to Salvation.” This does not mean that we minimize the moral teachings of Christ, but that we distinguish them from the Gospel. The Good News does not consist of Christ’s righteous expectations for His people. We have already failed in that area. The Good News is that He paid for our failures, that He sent the Holy Spirit to give us new life, and that we can rest in the salvation provided for us by the Triune God.

        That’s the message that Randall K. Bush responds to with, “Knock it off!” And that’s why he’s an enemy of God.

      • Dan Trabue says:

        Brother Ron, I didn’t miss that point. I had a question about one aspect of what the author said, and raised that. I agree with Bush that seeking God’s justice is one aspect of the gospel of Christ – the Good news that Jesus came preaching to the poor, the lives of grace we are to live and embrace in juxtaposition to lives of oppression and injustice.

        To the central point: The author FEARS that Bush is advocating “evangelical Christians to stop preaching the Gospel,” but based on the few excerpts we have, I don’t see that to be what Bush is teaching at all. I would be willing to bet that if you asked Bush directly, “Do you want Christians to quite preaching the Gospel?” he would reply with a gasp and a resounding, “NO!”

        He appears to me (based on these few out of context quotes, which is all I have) to be speaking of a particular modernist approach to the gospel – one that comes too close to the sins of the Pharisees which Jesus repeatedly condemned: Arrogance, presumption, blasphemy, even.

        I am not a presbyterian, but have not met any who would say they don’t believe in preaching the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus, I don’t think that is Bush’s point here.

        I am concerned about the Body of Christ continually biting and scratching at itself, destroying one another with accusation RATHER THAN embracing the lives of God’s Grace by which we are saved and we are to live.

        I (and many in the anabaptist tradition) find it worrying that so many modern Christians would separate out Jesus’ ACTUAL and DIRECT teachings from “the gospel,” and I would only hope to respectfully call my dear brothers in Christ to be wary of that. Jesus CAME preaching Good news to the poor, to the outcast, freedom to the captives, etc. If we then make Jesus’ actual teachings “not REALLY the Gospel,” are we denying Christ in ways much more significant than any loose wording of Mr Bush?

        An “enemy of God…”? Did you hear the sermon? Do you know this man or is all you are relying on is heresay and second hand reports of a few quotes taken out of context?

        If the latter, I would warn against that, my brother. It is a dangerous and graceless road to go down, I fear.

      • Ron Henzel says:

        Once again, your comments expose that you have a different definition—this time of the Gospel—than I believe we find in Scripture. No, “seeking God’s justice” is not “one aspect of the gospel of Christ.” The “aspects” of the Gospel of Christ include the the penal substitutionary atonement of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 15:1-6) and justification by faith (cf. Romans and Galatians). Seeking God’s justice is a corollary to the Gospel. It is part of our sanctification, which comes after our justification, which comes when we believe the Gospel. To make the seeking of God’s justice part of the Gospel immediately introduces human works into our salvation.

        Meanwhile, if you can look at the above citations where Randall Bush is telling Christians who evangelize to “knock it off,” and conclude that he is not telling them to quit preaching the Gospel, then there’s no way you can expect that I will find your analysis here in the least bit reasonable. Our discussion would appear to be at an intractable impasse.

  4. eMatters says:

    It is ironic when those who would call us biblical literalists (when we actually read in context and just consider it to be God’s word, as the authors noted) would take something so literally and assume that as soon as the Gospel got to part of every country then we’d quit evangelizing — as if no new human beings are ever created who would need to hear the Good News!

    In a much more hypocritical way, these “Progressives” are almost universally pro-legalized abortion and pro-taxpayer-funded abortion yet they prattle on about justice. If deliberately killing an innocent yet unwanted human being just because she isn’t wanted isn’t unjust and un-merciful, nothing is.

    And it is a self-parody for them to claim to walk humbly with God when they are Romans 1 poster children in not only proudly committing sins but encouraging others to do so.

  5. eMatters says:

    “Once the evangelical notion of the church can be turned down for a moment, the wisdom of other faiths can finally speak.”

    That’s a sure sign of a false teacher. There are 100+ direct and indirect claims in the Bible that Jesus is the only way to salvation and if you actually read the OT you can’t miss the “don’t worship other gods” theme. So this faux-Christian might want to explain what these other religions have to teach us about Jesus that isn’t in the Bible.

    1 Corinthians 10:20 — “I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons.”

  6. Dan Trabue says:

    But brother Neil, is not all wisdom – even wisdom offered by other faith traditions – God’s Wisdom?

    That is, if a Jewish fella, or a Muslim gal or a group of Zoroastrians offer the wisdom that “We ought to not treat others in ways that we don’t want to be treated…” is that not God’s wisdom? Aren’t all things that are good and true and just Of God?

    I would suggest this is the case.

    It may not be in my tradition to light candles as part of worship as a way of concentrating my mind on the Holy, or it is not in my tradition to throw brightly colored dust into the air and on each other to celebrate the Creator, etc, does not mean I can’t learn something from it.

    Here’s Paul speaking to the pagan Athenians…

    As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are God’s offspring.’

    If recognizing Truths from other traditions is good enough for Paul, it’s good enough for me…

    • Ron Henzel says:

      The “wisdom” offered by other faith traditions, insofar as it is consistent with God’s wisdom, is part of God’s general revelation to all humanity, which flows from His common grace to mankind. Unfortunately, since no one has ever obeyed this wisdom, all it serves to do for us is condemn us, just as the Law condemns sinners. This is why the Gospel is needed. And this is why wolves like Randall K. Bush hate the Gospel so much: he thinks he doesn’t need it.

    • Charles meaning says:

      “…is not all wisdom – even wisdom offered by other faith traditions – God’s Wisdom?”
      I would suggest that yes, some godly wisdom can be heard from the voices of many people of different faiths and beliefs, but that is not the complete story. First, in my agreement with what you say, we have to also remember that all humans are created in God’s image, and even though all humans except Christ are sinners, it is possible to hear from them some wisdom some of the time. Second, since all humans are the progeny of Adam and Eve, and have continued to walk in their disobedience of eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of both GOOD and evil, it is a natural thing to hear some godly wisdom from anyone of just about any faith, even from atheists. So while what you say certainly makes sense, it sounds very much like an incomplete picture of the gospel of Christ. The very first words from Jesus in Mark’s gospel are “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” So doing the many good works you mention in your earlier post should be based on a foundation of repentance from dead, or sinful works. As Paul says in Hebrews 9:14 we need the blood of Christ to “purge our conscience from dead works” so that we can indeed serve the living God. Unless our salvation rests in the foundation of Jesus who was crucified for our sin, we are at risk of becoming those people who come up to Christ saying, “Lord, Lord, we have done many good works in your name,” to which Jesus replys “I never knew you. Depart from me, you workers of iniquity.” Matt. 7

  7. eMatters says:

    Just so no one thinks I’m accidentally ignoring Dan, I want to note that I deliberately ignore him. When Dan responds to one of my comments I simply offer this rebuttal / prebuttal as a time saver. I guarantee that no matter what his reply is that this will cover it. Seriously, just try it and see. http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2011/05/03/false-teacher-profile/ . It is symptomatic of his wolf-skin and narcissism that he knows I’ll do this and still perpetuates his “brother Neil” question-begging, even though he knows I don’t read what comes after.

    I suppose it makes sense that wolves would defend other wolves.

  8. eMatters says:

    “How would we live to see the world as God sees it?”

    Maybe he could start by taking the Bible seriously.

    It is ironic that he has never been properly evangelized himself. He sits in judgment of the real God and has made god in his own image.

  9. Dan Trabue says:

    An ad hom attack on me, Brother Neil, does not address my questions raised.

    Thou shalt not bear false witness…

    …since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful

    Embrace grace, my brother.

    In Christ’s deep love for Neil,

    Dan

  10. Dan Trabue says:

    Just tween you and I, Neil… (sorry everyone else), where you say…

    It is symptomatic of his wolf-skin and narcissism that he knows I’ll do this and still perpetuates his “brother Neil” question-begging, even though he knows I don’t read what comes after.

    I’d point out that it is symptomatic of my deep love for you as a brother in Christ and of Christ our savior that I respond to your ad hom attacks, reaching out in love, respect and hope that God will mend this rift between us. I call you “brother Neil” because you are my brother in Christ. I have no doubt that you intend to follow in the steps of Christ our Lord, even as you attack me with your words. I’m sure your intentions are noble, even if the effort is not.

    Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Like it or not, Neil, we are joined in God’s family. Your disapproval of me does not separate me from the deep love of God, nor does it separate me from you as Christian family.

    As to what I “know” and don’t know, I don’t presume to know what you may or may not do, I’m not a mind-reader. I post a comment as an effort to reach out to you.

    In Christ,

    Dan

    (and again, apologies to everyone else for this detour…)

    • Ron Henzel says:

      Dan,

      If you’re really a Christian, doesn’t it bother you at all when people like Randall K. Bush tell us to stop preaching the Gospel? Doesn’t it bother you at all when he substitutes the morality of the Law—which is holy, just, and good, but also condemns us as sinners—for the good news of the Gospel?

      • Dan Trabue says:

        1. I really am a Christian, saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus, the risen son of God.

        2. If I thought Bush was teaching us “ignore the Gospel,” or “stop teaching the Gospel,” I would be concerned. I don’t think Bush’s words indicate that. Rather, he seems to be responding to a particular, modernist take on what the Gospel means, not the actual Gospel.

        3. I don’t seem him substituting the morality of God for the grace of God (ie, the Good News). Perhaps you have misunderstood his point?

        4. I’m always concerned when Christians take other Christian’s words out of context and publicly demonize that fellow Christian. There are biblical warnings against such behavior, but I won’t post them so as to not make this overly long.

      • eMatters says:

        Excellent points, Ron. I’ll add that the false teachers highlighted in the Bible probably referred to themselves as “brothers,” but that meant as much as it does when false teacher Dan says it.

        2 Corinthians 11:13-15 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

      • Ron Henzel says:

        Dan,

        I’m glad you profess faith in the grace of Christ, but, in my estimation, it’s pretty obvious to me that you’re being seduced by Randall Bush’s “Knock it off!” sermon because he quoted a nice-sounding verse (Micah 6:8).

        No matter what you think Bush was teaching, here’s what he actually said: “As of this point, the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been preached to all the corners of the world, so knock it off.” He insisted that “the evangelical notion of the church” should be “turned down.” How anyone can possibly avoid the clear meaning of these words is beyond me. How you can possibly infer that he was “responding to a particular, modernist take on what the Gospel means” without making any such distinction in his sermon strains credulity.

        I’m sorry that you don’t see him substituting the morality of God for the grace of God, because that’s exactly what he did when he told his congregation that it was enough if they simply practiced Micah 6:8—which is essentially a moral commandment that we cannot keep because of our sinfulness—and then said of that verse: “redemption,…atonement,…everything else comes from that.” No, redemption and atonement and “everything else” does not come from Christians following Micah 6:8. And yet that’s what Bush was clearly saying. No, I don’t think he left us any room for misunderstanding him on this point.

        I’m glad that you’re always concerned when Christian’s take the words of other Christians out of context and publicly demonize them. You should be concerned when that happens. I’m concerned about it, too. And yes, there are biblical warnings about that. But there are also biblical warnings about following false teachers, and false teachers are described in the most unflattering of terms in Scripture. And Randall Bush has clearly identified himself as being one.

      • Dan Trabue says:

        A “nice-sounding verse…”?? It is the Gospel found in the Bible that Bush referenced, and I take the Bible seriously, my brother.

        Ron, do you know Bush, or are you relying only upon these few excerpts? Do you think that is fair or reasonable to do so? Or Christian?

        Jesus was often taken out of context, too, and called “of the devil,” but his accusers were wrong, weren’t they?

        I don’t know this Bush from Adam, maybe he IS spreading false teachings, but I don’t think you can get that from these few excerpts, and I certainly don’t think you can make a case that he is deliberately engaged in false teaching (in the Biblical sense of the teachings about “false teachers,” that is).

        In the Bible, “false teachers” is used to describe some particular group of people – charlatans and moneymongers deliberately being divisive and teaching wrong things. In the Bible, “false teachers” are not merely those who might be mistaken in good faith or may have used the wrong words to describe something.

        Can we agree on that much?

        I fear that in our “defense of the faith” we sometimes (too often) abandon the very grace which is the heart of our faith.

      • Ron Henzel says:

        Dan,

        No: the Gospel cannot be reduced to Micah 6:8, the verse that Bush referenced. You seem to have now fully shown your hand as having a different definition of the Gospel than I do. Therefore, since I base my definition of a Christian as one who believes the true Gospel, while I cannot deny that you are a Christian neither can I take it for granted that you are one. This, along with the fact that we are each operating with a different set of definitions, would also seem to explain why you are not getting my points. The net result here is that our conversation will probably not accomplish very much.

        Unless you are accusing Bart Gingerich of distorting the meaning Bush’s statements, I can think of no context that would adequately justify them. I believe that we should always interpret people charitably, and I assume that’s what you think you’re trying to do, but charitable interpretation can only be extended as far the communicator is willing to take responsibility to be clear. Unless Bush went out of his way to clarify what he meant, he could only expect his words to be taken at their face value, and it is quite unreasonable for you or anyone else to expect otherwise. Unless Gingerich is deliberately hiding something from us that would confirm your explanation, it absolutely defies sound judgment to assume that Bush was simply using the wrong words while attempting in good faith to represent the teachings of Scripture.

        So, no, we can’t “agree on that much,” because “the very grace which is the heart of our faith” is not blind to those who attack that faith, does not excuse those who attack that faith, and while it may be patient and long suffering toward those who attack our faith, it is careful to identify them, warn them, and warn others about them. This is because the only grace known to Scripture is that which stands out clearly against the backdrop of sin and rebellion—not that which coddles it to the point of blending in with it.

      • Dan Trabue says:

        Ron…

        the Gospel cannot be reduced to Micah 6:8, the verse that Bush referenced..

        I did not “reduce the Gospel to Micah 6:8.” Look at my words, I believe you will see you have drawn a mistaken inference, it’s not there in my words adn I don’t believe we can “reduce” the Gospel to “Do Justice, Love Mercy, Walk humbly with God.”

        On the other hand, Jesus did use that sort of language when speaking with the Pharisees, warning them against “neglecting the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness.” Not that Jesus nor I are saying that is the Gospel, but Jesus CLEARLY taught that these ideals are part and parcel of living in God’s Way. Right?

        Ron…

        You seem to have now fully shown your hand as having a different definition of the Gospel than I do

        Again, my concern is that you all appear to be actively LOOKING for ways to say, “He ain’t one of us!”

        I will be clear, here is the Gospel message as I understand it:

        Humanity has a sin problem, and thus we are all in need of salvation.
        God loves us and is not willing for any to perish.
        In fact, God loved us so much that God came and lived right amongst us, in the man, Jesus.
        Jesus taught us by his teachings and his life that we are NOT saved by our good works, or by blood sacrifice or right rituals.
        Jesus taught us that we are saved by Grace, through faith in Jesus.
        To accept this salvation, we ought repent for our sins and trust in Jesus and Jesus’ ways and the grace of God as exemplified by Jesus, making Jesus “Lord of our lives…”

        That is the orthodox Christian message and it is what I mean by the Gospel, the good news as found in Jesus’ sacrifically poured out life and teachings and echoed by Paul and the rest of the Apostles’ writings.

        If you are concerned that I have a different Gospel, where specifically in my actual words do you find a problem?

        Do you see how this pertains to the complaints about Bush?

        Do you know either Gingerich or Bush? Why would you accept one man’s understanding over another man whom you have not even heard and apparently don’t even know? I don’t know either Gingerich or Bush and have naught against either one of them. I do know, though (from personal experience) that people CAN be misunderstood and quoted out of context and incorrectly. Not to discount Gingerich, just saying that it’s part of the human condition to make mistakes and to have misunderstandings. Short of the actual words in the presence of the actual “accused” I am unwilling to gossip or slander another brother or call into question his Christianity based on heresay.

        And again, this is basic Christian, biblical teaching. I assume you are aware of the warnings against slander, against gossip, against bearing false witness, against making bad accusations?

        Given that our Lord, Jesus was repeatedly accused against and slandered by the religious folk in his day, I think there is ample reason to be wary of such behavior on our own parts.

      • Ron Henzel says:

        Dan,

        You may not have reduced the Gospel to Micah 6:8, but Bush most certainly did.

        Your own Gospel presentation is alright insofar as it goes, but it omits any account of the central feature of the Gospel: the cross of Christ. No penal substitutionary atonement = no biblical Gospel.

        If you want to make this out to be all just one huge misunderstanding, fine. I think that explanation is fatally flawed, but I can’t stop you from offering it.

        Again: I think we’ve reached an intractable impasse in our discussion. To go any further would be to simply keep spinning our wheels in the mud without actually going anywhere.

      • Dan Trabue says:

        Ron…

        No penal substitutionary atonement = no biblical Gospel.

        The PSA THEORY of atonement is a more modern development, developed by 16th Century reformers. It is an EXTRAPOLATION and INTERPRETATION of the idea of atonement. We anabaptists don’t reject it – we tend to believe it has some biblical merit – but we do tend to point out that it is a modern theory, not a direct-from-Jesus teaching.

        But that’s probably a discussion best left for another day, since it’s off topic here…

      • Ron Henzel says:

        Penal substitution is not a “modern theory,” but a modern title given to a biblical teaching. It is not only easily demonstrated from the Scriptures, but its essence can be distilled as far back as the Sermons of Augustine (AD 354-430):

        “That he might be nigh, he took thy penalty, he did not take thy guilt! … By taking the penalty and not taking the guilt, he effaced both the guilt and the penalty.”

        [Augustine, Sermon CXXI.3]

        Penal substitution is central to the atonement, the atonement is central to the Gospel, and it is the Gospel that Randall Bush doesn’t want us to preach.

  11. undergroundpewster says:

    “As of this point, the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been preached to all the corners of the world, so knock it off.”

    Egads!

    False teachings indeed.

    • Ron Henzel says:

      As if God said, “OK, when you reach the four corners, stop preaching! You’re done!” Of course, people who hate the God of Scripture, loathe the Gospel message, trample underfoot the cross of Christ, and despise the Son of God always get upset when the message of salvation is preached. So they will seize upon any loophole they think they can find, to their own destruction.

  12. guerito says:

    there are some 2000 languages without a Bible. the speakers of those languages have not heard the Gospel, therefore we have not preached it to ‘the utter ends of the earth’.

    • John Leek says:

      That was my chief concern with his argument. It’s only possible to be unaware of the hundreds of millions dying without access to the Gospel in their own languages if one has long been unengaged with trying to spread that Gospel.

      I’ve also met folks in the American South who don’t know the basic claims of Jesus in our shared Good News. As the fastest emerging mission field in the world the ends of the earth is here too! We clearly aren’t “finished” yet.

  13. Ron Henzel says:

    They redistribute power and redistribute priorities by redistributing truth. They’ve come full-circle to this: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.” (H. Richard Neibuhr) And all the while they read from a Bible without a Gospel.

  14. Dan Trabue says:

    Ron, if I may, could I ask two direct questions that I think are fairly simple? The answers to these, I think, may help focus our points and maybe even find some agreement…

    1. You reference Jesus’ specific teachings in the Bible as oft-times “merely” moral teachings, NOT “The Gospel.” Are there any places in any of Jesus’ direct and specific teachings that you DO think are “The Gospel…”?

    2. Do you think that salvation depends upon a perfect knowledge of sin? That is, can we accept God’s salvation by grace through faith in Jesus and yet be mistaken on some behavior’s sin nature and still be saved?

    I am fairly confident that you and I could agree with the orthodox Christian teaching: We are NOT saved by our perfect knowledge, but by God’s grace. Those who would teach that one can’t be mistaken and saved have slid into (or are at least potentially sliding into) a salvation-by-works heresy, right?

    Consider then:

    Jesus, the very son of God, came flesh and blood into a world where the “religious experts” had a corner market on God and salvation. They knew what was right and necessary to be saved and that was a Right Understanding of God’s rules and adhering to them. And WHO knew what a “Right Understanding” was? Why, the religious experts.

    Thus, the very son of God could come into this world and make “mistakes” in behavior (“You’re working on the Sabbath! You’re healing on the Sabbath! Thus, you are doing the work of Satan!! We know, because we are the Religious Experts and we have the Rule Book!”) and be blasted, condemned, demonized for that behavior by those who would presumptively speak for God.

    In their defense, they were no doubt often honestly trying to keep the Jewish people true to God’s Word. And they DID have these moral teachings and oft-times, no doubt, it WAS quite clear to them what was right and wrong.

    But Jesus came and taught a different message. He told them, “Fools! You’re getting it wrong. It’s not a perfect understanding and agreement WITH YOU that gets and keeps you saved, it is God’s GRACE by which we are saved… You must keep in mind that these rules – this Sabbath rule, for instance – were made as guidelines for your sake to HELP you – it’s for your sake – not to beat one another into submission with…”

    I am concerned that, too often, some of our dearly beloved more conservative brothers and sisters (and I MEAN “dearly beloved,” I come from conservative roots and was conservative for 30 of my 50 years of life – conservative folk are my family and friends, they taught me to love God, love people and love the Bible, I DO love my conservative family), come too perilously close to falling into the very trap that the Pharisees fall in to – they make the mistake of thinking they have a corner on understanding God and God’s ways and anyone who disagrees with THEIR understanding – or even says something in a manner queer to them – are not merely mistaken, but they’re “false teachers!” and “not Christians!” and “rejecting God and Jesus!” and “are heretics!!” and so on.

    In this world, I promise you, we will not know all things perfectly. The bible promises us that. But thank God! We are not saved by our perfect knowlege, but by God’s sweet grace!

    Thus, I can have a brother whom I believe to be mistaken on a point and I need not demonize him, or call him NOT Christian or Heretic or anything beyond, “You know, I think you might be mistaken on that point…” and they are still family, still united, still obviously in love with one another.

    Thank God for grace! The very grace by which we are saved, we can – should – embrace that grace in our lives and dealings with one another.

    When you look at it that way, you can see then, the “Gospel message” that Paul so nicely summed up, “For it is by grace that we are saved, through faith in Jesus Christ” throughout Jesus’ teachings. The bulk of Jesus’ teachings, then, are NOT merely nice moral teachings on showing us how better to live, but they ARE the Gospel – how to live lives of Grace.

    I fear that many more conservative folk have downgraded the vast majority of Jesus’ direct teachings to some secondary, non-essential, non-Gospel message and come perilously close to rejecting Jesus.

    What say ye, dear brother?

    (Sorry for the length, but this does seem to me to be right in keeping with the post…)

  15. Ron Henzel says:

    Dan,

    Of course there are places where Jesus directly and specifically presents the Gospel. John 3:1-21, 6:28-29 come immediately to mind. There are also places in his teachings where he sets the promises of the Gospel alongside the demands of Law. He does this so that we will see that we cannot keep the Law’s demands and flee to the promises of the Gospel. This is particularly noteworthy in the Sermon on the Mount, which begins by extending promises to those who labor under the conviction of sin, and moves quickly to put everyone on notice of the stringent requirements of the Law.

    And no, of course salvation does not depend upon a perfect knowledge of sin. It doesn’t depend on a perfect knowledge of anything.

    But when you express confidence that you and I could agree that we are saved by God’s grace, I’m now sure how you define grace. Here’s how I believe the Bible defines it: grace is not merely God’s unmerited favor, but his demerited favor—in other words, it is love, kindness, and mercy that He shows toward us despite the fact that we deserve hatred, rejection, and punishment—and it is effected by God, in the person of Jesus, taking all that we deserved on Himself on the cross in our place, and applied by the work of His Spirit in our lives.

    Meanwhile, the word of God is also clear that distorting grace into a license to sin is to redefine “grace” to the point where it has nothing whatsoever to do with God’s actual grace. Grace is not permission to disobey God’s law. Grace both removes the condemnation for disobedience and assists us to obey. “Mistakes” are irrelevant here; only sins are relevant. If our “mistakes” lead us into sin, the assistance through His Spirit that God will give us in His grace will lead us away from those “mistakes.”

    The scribes and Pharisees were not merely guilty of “mistakes.” They made the law void through their traditions, even while piling towering loads of guilt on other people’s shoulders. This is not about, “Why can’t we all get along?” or “Why can’t we all admit it’s not about being right,” or even “Why can’t we all agree to disagree and just focus on ‘grace.'”

    This is about Randall Bush telling us we should stop evangelizing people—stop telling them about the Good News of what Jesus did for us. If he meant something different from that, he needs to clarify what he said.

  16. Dan Trabue says:

    Ron, thank you very much for the direct answers to my questions.

    1. I’m glad we can agree that Jesus’ teachings include the Gospel message, at least a little.

    I would guess where we might disagree is that I tend to think of much of Jesus’ teachings as containing the Gospel message.

    The Gospel writers tell us that Jesus went around speaking/preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

    We have at least a few of Jesus’ actual sermons and teachings.

    I would find it presumptuous to say of these actual sermons and teachings, “These – the bulk of Jesus’ actual words! – are not actually part of the Gospel message. They are merely some moral teachings that are really separate from the Gospel message…”

    If you separate them out (The Sermon on the Mount, the Sermon on the Plain, the great and glorious parables), then that would be one point of disagreement between this anabaptist brother and you (and it is true that this is one thing that sort of separates the anabaptists from other protestants – are clinging tightly to the words of Jesus as part and parcel of the Gospel).

    But then, the church has always had disagreements and I don’t think it’s necessary to part fellowship over mere human disagreements and interpretations.

    Do you?

    2. I’m very glad we can agree that having perfect knowledge is not required for salvation. That is, of course, an orthodox Christian agreement, there.

    I don’t define grace differently than you do, I don’t believe. I’m open to multiple understandings of God’s great grace. I’m a mere human and not the holder of all understanding about an infinite God, right?!

    I believe that grace is God’s unmerited favor. I even agree with your “demerited” interpretation, although I probably wouldn’t use that word, just because I don’t see the purpose of it. When we were sinners, God loved us and even died for us, leaving us an example of a life of Grace.

    I agree entirely with you that taking grace and deliberately twisting it into a license to sin is a mistake and warned against.

    Grace is NOT permission to disobey God’s law.

    Me and my tribe all strongly agree with that. Thus, when we disagree with more conservative types on some point (Christians engaging in war/the killing of our enemies, for instance, or marriage equity for all), we hold our position PRECISELY because we want to follow God and God’s ways. We think those who disagree with our understanding run the risk of a sinful understanding/application of how to live and we don’t think they ought to use God’s grace as a license to engage in killing of the enemy or to denounce our gay and lesbian friends who wish to commit to a loving, faithful, monogamous marriage relationship.

    The thing is, I’m sure that you are not disagreeing with us IN ORDER to promote sin, but because you believe your understanding is right.

    Correct?

    Same for us. We don’t disagree with you BECAUSE we wish to promote sin, but because this is the Path to Right Living as we understand it.

    Do you see any place, then, where we disagree on the meaning of Grace?

    Grace is a gift, God’s gift to sinful humans.

    Grace is God’s gift of eternal and rich, wholesome, wondrous life, beginning here and now.

    Grace is the invitation of the outcast and the marginalized and the least of these to God’s dinner table, NOT because we deserve it, but because God loves us and wills it.

    Grace is the forgiveness of sin based on God’s sacrificial love.

    On the other hand, grace is NOT perfect knowledge; it is NOT a blood sacrifice or right rituals or even right living. God desires mercy, not sacrifice.

    Amen?

  17. Dan Trabue says:

    Ron…

    This is about Randall Bush telling us we should stop evangelizing people—stop telling them about the Good News of what Jesus did for us. If he meant something different from that, he needs to clarify what he said.

    Again, I would ask: Do you know anything about this Bush guy other than these few excerpts here?

    If so, I would just ask: Do you agree that we ought not cast stones or call others NOT of God based on heresay and gossip?

    Do you agree that such behavior (calling out someone specifically wrong) is not an action to be done publicly, but privately, and from a place of personal knowledge, not heresay?

    If I were to go to my blog and quote you, for instance, saying…

    “There’s this guy, Ron Henzel out there in the internets and HE said, ‘This does not mean that we minimize the moral teachings of Christ, but that we distinguish them from the Gospel…’ Can you believe it? He is REJECTING Jesus’ actual words as NOT being part of the Gospel message…”

    And then me and my anabaptist buddies engaged in a protracted denouncement of your “rejection” of Jesus – all outside of interaction with you or without first going to you to discuss this… Do you think that sort of behavior is in keeping with Christian teaching?

    I don’t.

    If you have a problem with someone’s teaching, you should FIRST of all, know the full context. It’s unfair to take a second hand bit of gossip of a complete stranger as a fair representation.

    Secondly, if you DID have the context and communication with the “accused,” the correction should be personal and private.

    Finally, if you wished to deal with the problem in general, then I think it’s okay (and biblical and moral) to talk about the problematic CONCEPT without gossiping and possibly slandering the actual person. (Like, “I’ve heard that some people are actually saying we ought to quit evangelizing the world…”)

    One man’s opinion.

    In Christ, Dan

    • Ron Henzel says:

      Dan,

      I don’t have much more to say on this topic other than this: unable to win the dispute about the substance of Randall Bush’s words, you are trying to turn this into an dispute about the process by which those words are critiqued.

      You have taken Bart Gingerich’s account of what Randall Bush publicly said and turned it into an accusation against Gingerich, while simultaneously erecting an unfair standard of accountability. Without any evidence whatsoever, you are accusing Gingerich of distorting Bush’s meaning by taking his words out-of-context.

      According to East Liberty Presbyterian Church’s web site, the audio and text of Bush’s sermon are “coming soon (http://www.cathedralofhope.org/sermons/index.html). I tell you what: why don’t you listen to it when it gets uploaded and then present your evidence for how Gingerich misunderstood Bush? I like to think of myself as open to correction, and I hope Mr. Gingerich is as well.

      Your analogy concerning my words about Jesus’ teachings doesn’t wash for the simple reason that not everything Jesus said was “part of the Gospel message.” When Jesus said, “What have I to do with you, woman?” at the wedding at Cana, those words were not part of the Gospel message. When He made an extended rebuke of the Pharisees, pronouncing multiple “woes” upon them, those words were not part of the Gospel message. If everything Jesus ever said was part of the Gospel message, then the Gospel message has no specific content.

      Furthermore, no: knowing the “full context” of a statement is not a universal prerequisite for adequately understanding it. And, no: when a person utters heresy in public he is not entitled to a private rebuke. People who sin in public should expect public correction, especially when that sin has the potential to cause others to go astray.

      This is not gossip. This is dealing with public heresy.

      • Dan Trabue says:

        Ron…

        This is not gossip. This is dealing with public heresy.

        In the English language, Ron, talking about someone’s salvation or their theology in a setting without them present, that IS gossip, by definition, I would suggest.

        Gossip: rumor or report of an intimate nature.

        I don’t think saying outside of someone’s presence or in some place where they can’t even defend themselves against the rumors, “This person is a false teacher – he’s a heretic, not a christian!”… that you can’t get away from being a gossip – that IS a report of a very intimate nature.

        If you’re concerned about the teaching, “We ought not engage in evangelism anymore!” then you can deal with that teaching without gossiping about a particular person. IF you talk about that PERSON (he’s a heretic and false teacher), then you should do so with full knowledge and ideally with the person. Otherwise, you will certainly be gossiping and also running the risk of slandering, since you’re speaking from a position of ignorance of their actual positions.

        They [those who abandon God’s Ways] were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, Slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents…

        What do you think Paul meant in Romans 1 when he said that slanderers and gossips were not of the Kingdom of God?

  18. Dan Trabue says:

    Well, as I said somewhere, that is probably best taken as a matter for another day.

    Christians throughout the ages have offered many theories of atonement. I’m told that the earliest theory was the Ransom theory of atonement – the idea that God had to pay a “ransom” to the devil (or, in some cases, to God’s own self!) to “buy us back” from our sinful destiny.

    Just as with the PSA, the Ransom theory (and the other Atonement Theories) can be traced to some biblical passage or another. None of them are entirely without warrant biblically speaking.

    But the Bible does not have God saying – nor has God told any of us – “Hey y’all! The PSA Theory of atonement is the One Right Theory. You should all hold to that…” That simply is not in the Bible.

    This does get to my (and I suspect Bush’s) repeated point: That Christians of Good Faith do and will disagree with this interpretation or that interpretation. It happens and will continue to happen as long as the church is made up of imperfect humans such as Dan Trabue (and Ron and Neil…)

    That does not mean that “we’re all right, in our own way…” or that none of us are mistaken.

    It’s just that none of us own God or Christianity. What is beyond doubt a commonly accepted and abundantly biblical and rational concept is this: We are saved by Grace through faith in Jesus. All who repent of their known sins and seek God and turn to God, seeking by God’s grace to walk under Jesus’ Lordship… that all of us are saved.

    We will have disagreements and we WILL be wrong sometimes. Thank God our salvation is not dependent upon our perfect understanding of HOW God’s grace works.

    Can we agree to that, my friend?

    And, even though marginally off topic, I think it applies: Do you think that seekers MUST agree with specifically the PSA Theory in order to be saved, or would you agree with me that this is similar to the whole “perfect knowledge” problem – that ultimately, that would be a savlation-by-works heresy?

  19. eMatters says:

    “Penal substitution is not a “modern theory,” but a modern title given to a biblical teaching. It is not only easily demonstrated from the Scriptures, but its essence can be distilled as far back as the Sermons of Augustine.”

    Exactly. And of course, it is pure self-parody for a pro-oxymoronic “same-sex marriage” false teacher to dismiss penal substitutionary atonement (or anything else, for that matter) for being a modern theory. Their false teaching is as modern as it gets. Should we be surprised that these world-lovers changed their “biblical” views to match the radical Liberal culture?

  20. Dan Trabue says:

    Ron…

    People who sin in public should expect public correction, especially when that sin has the potential to cause others to go astray.

    Then it is, in your opinion, a sin to be mistaken about some point of theology or to say something in a less-than-perfect manner?

    Again, my fear is that this comes too dangerously close to treading down the path of Phariseeism, for my tastes. If you believe in public rebukes, then you can accept that as one for you in the love and name of Jesus, although I mean it in the more general manner, “here’s something to watch out for my friends…” from one flawed sinner to some others… saved by God’s grace and not our perfect understanding.

  21. Dan Trabue says:

    Neil…

    And of course, it is pure self-parody for a pro-oxymoronic “same-sex marriage” false teacher to dismiss penal substitutionary atonement (or anything else, for that matter) for being a modern theory.

    I’m not dismissing it. I’m noting it for what it is. As a more modern idea (like “all slavery is wrong” or “all sexism” is wrong) it is not necessarily be wrong for being modern. I’m just noting that Christians throughout the ages have held to various theories of atonement and that perfect understanding of “atonement” is not rationally nor biblically a prerequisite for salvation.

  22. Dan Trabue says:

    They [those who abandon God’s Ways] were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, Slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents…

    What do you think Paul meant in Romans 1 when he said that slanderers and gossips were not of the Kingdom of God?

  23. Dan Trabue says:

    I am sorry that Neil insists on making this personal and engage in ad hom attacks rather than respectfully speaking of ideas and ideals on a more adult and Christian level.

    Brother Neil, I encourage you in the name of Jesus our Lord, give up this crusade of yours. It only makes you look petty and, well, a gossip and slanderer.

  24. Bart Gingerich says:

    Dear Dan Trabue:

    http://xkcd.com/386/

  25. Dan Trabue says:

    I know! It’s funny and a bit odd how Neil follows me around places and gossips about me and engages in slander rather than get in to a discussion of ideals. And all because someone on the internet disagrees with him!

    Silly, isn’t it?

    • Ron Henzel says:

      Dan,

      Get a life.

      Bye.

      • Dan Trabue says:

        Brother, I have a life, and that abundant, in Christ.

        Why the hostility, friends?

        And Ron, you are free to end the conversation, but I do hope you’ll reconsider the points I made. Gossip is Gossip and it is condemned, we are not to be a part of it. You say you believe in Christians correcting one another and those who are off on a teaching, I would hope you’d prayerfully consider this point. The biblical warnings are quite strong.

        In the meantime, I thank you all for the conversation, such as it was. I, for one, enjoy speaking with my more conservative brothers and sisters, even when we disagree.

        Thanks and God’s peace.

    • Ron Henzel says:

      Dan,

      I have no hostility toward you, but so far you have defended a heretic (Bush), accused a brother of abusing him through misquotes (Gingerich), and falsely and unbiblically accused me of gossip for holding the heretic accountable (your definition of “gossip” is worthy of the Accuser of the Brethren). I have given you an alternative to your highly defamatory course of action: bring evidence from Bush’s sermon that we are wrong, but you continue to hurl accusations our way.

      Now, of course, you do all this in an insipid, obsequiously imploring style, as if you are profoundly concerned for righteousness, but in my book anyone who does these things is simply a divisive man, albeit a shrewd one. Thus it seems to me that the warning of Titus 3:10-11 applies to you: “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned” (ESV).

      If you are as sincere as you want the world to think you are, show it by listening to the sermon and proving us wrong. Otherwise, I have nothing more to say to you.

      • Dan Trabue says:

        I have given you an alternative to your highly defamatory course of action: bring evidence from Bush’s sermon that we are wrong, but you continue to hurl accusations our way.

        You mentioned that sermon yesterday and you said it isn’t on line yet. How am I supposed to listen to what you say isn’t there?

        And where do you see accusations? From where I sit, all the accusations are coming from you all. You boldly and arrogantly (pardon my observation, but this is how it seems to me – I guess you can call THIS an accusation) accuse a man THAT YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW beyond a few out of context quotes of being a heretic. What gives you the right? Do you not see, Ron, the presumption in that course? Do you not see the unfairness? No trial, no check to see if the facts are right or if there might be more to the story, just a blatant charge of heresy!

        Do you remember Jesus’ teaching about such problems? Or the OT? Or just plain adult logic? If there is a serious charge (and heresy/false teaching IS a serious charge – they used to burn people to death for that, you know), then you check with witnesses. You don’t just throw a charge out there, that is gossip. And if it’s wrong, then it’s slander.

        My friends, this is not as it should be. This is not what Paul is speaking of and it IS the very definition of gossip. On that point, you say…

        your definition of “gossip” is worthy of the Accuser of the Brethren

        “My” definition? It is the English definition from Merriam Webster that I offered. What definition of gossip are you using?

        And then to accuse ME of being worthy of the devil for citing an English definition of the word? Do you not see how that could come across as petty and divisive itself?

        Why do you presume guilt and throw it on me to prove innocence? Do you really think that is of Christ or even just reason?

  26. Dan Trabue says:

    I would hope that you all would address this question from earlier…

    Do you think that seekers MUST agree with specifically the PSA Theory in order to be saved, or would you agree with me that this is similar to the whole “perfect knowledge” problem – that ultimately, that would be a savlation-by-works heresy?

    While sort of off-topic, I think it gets to the heart of the matter – this hasty and apparently graceless practice of rejecting and accusing all who don’t agree with you in just the right way, I fear you all may be on that slippery slope towards an actual heresy – salvation by works instead of grace.

    Must you agree SPECIFICALLY with the PSA Theory in order to be saved? And all those throughout history (including many Baptists and anabaptists, amongst others) were lost because they were sincerely mistaken and lacked perfect knowledge on that point?

    • John Leek says:

      I wasn’t involved in the previous discussion (and don’t intend to enter that mess ;), but I would state unequivocally that a particular view of the atonement isn’t necessary.

      That said various strands of our understanding all agree on this: a real savior (the God/Man Jesus) died a real death to save people from real sin that separated them from a real God. He rose from death to real life reversing the curse brought on my the first people’s, and all subsequent people’s, disobedience to God.

      Sin is sin whether it is offending God through idolatry (worshiping other gods or making a god out of oneself), being consumed by materialism (prosperity Gospel or simply living above necessity at the expense of the poor), to calling what God calls evil –> good and good –> evil. God’s view of justice is un-accomplishable without God’s full Gospel at which Jesus’ life, death and resurrection are at the center. They are, in fact, the center point of human history.

      It is entirely possible to err very wrongly in the direction of right belief and fail to follow right action. That said, I fear for any tradition or preacher who finds their focus in an evangelism free Gospel that places anything at the center other than Christ’s saving work for the world and in us.

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