Innocence Lost : Duane W. H. Arnold, PhD

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77 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    This was a timely article…
    The analogy you make hits home for me…hard.
    I grew up in a home full of conflict and more and more every day want to withdraw from all social interactions…

    “If someone attempted to do so, I would quite likely leave the house altogether, not wishing to be under the same roof with such people. “

  2. Michael says:

    “The great thing about losing something, is that with a bit of effort, you can oftentimes find it again.”

    I think we’re past the point of no return and something(s) awful will have to jar our collective conscience back to hoping for better.

  3. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael,

    Some think that conflict and argument are a sport. For myself, I think it is, for the most part, destructive. It diminishes and wounds all involved, perpetrators and victims alike… and, despite claims to the contrary, it does not promote learning or edification on the part of onlookers.

  4. Michael says:

    I’ve done more than my share of online brawling.
    The church has a rich history of heated polemics.
    Somethings different now, though…I think the objective is to destroy, not change or persuade.

  5. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    “Somethings different now, though…I think the objective is to destroy, not change or persuade.”

    Agreed.

  6. Duane Arnold says:

    You know, it’s funny. The key verse for anyone engaged in apologetics is 1Peter 3:15… I wonder how often we look at the last phrase of that verse: “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…”

  7. Michael says:

    Duane,

    I’ve failed to measure up to that one a few thousand times…

  8. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    As have we all…

  9. JoelG says:

    Yesterday I wrote: “It can get heated, but I think it’s been a benefit to the readers.”

    Not that I think my words carry much weight, but I was wrong to think this. I’m sorry.

    Sometimes I think it’s a miracle that relationships are maintained at all in these days of social media, ironically.

    Thank you for a healthy reminder to bring more light and less heat in all of our relationships.

  10. Duane Arnold says:

    JoelG

    “Sometimes I think it’s a miracle that relationships are maintained at all in these days of social media, ironically…”

    I’m still naive enough to believe that Christians are still in the “miracle business”… Thank you.

  11. bob1 says:

    I appreciate the references to Senator Hatfield. He was (and always will be) a hero of mine.

    He was not well-liked among the “God and country” set fifty years ago (some things never change). He used to get mail addressed to “Dear S…head.” He was a man who lived his Christian convictions strongly but with a great deal of evenhandedness at the same time.

  12. Jean says:

    Duane,

    “Some think that conflict and argument are a sport. For myself, I think it is, for the most part, destructive.”

    Sport: Agree 100%. And would add that it’s a tremendous waste of our valuable time.

    Argument: Agree that unless both parties are genuinely interested in either confirming an understanding or increasing understanding, then arguing just for the sake of winning an argument is unfruitful and can be harmful.

    Conflict: This one is more difficult to pin down. First there is subjectivity: Is the mere exchange of differing opinions a conflict? Is there a clear, objective sign that we can all identify as a boundary marker between non-conflict and unhealthy conflict?

    Moreover, becoming a Christian places every Christian into conflict between the Spirit and the flesh. When is that internal conflict projected onto another person who may voice the Word of God in a matter under discussion?

    How can diverse views be discussed if anyone might subjectively feel a conflict? Haven’t educational institutions attempted to deal with this by the creation of “safe places?” Are safe places a good idea?

    What responsibility does a Christian in a community of faith have to one’s brothers and sisters in that community to speak up if he or she reads something that appears to promote or affirm sin or false or heterodox teaching? What inferences might be drawn from silence?

    These are just some questions that come to mind from your article.

  13. Duane Arnold says:

    Bob1

    Yes, Senator Hatfield was a thoughtful and reflective person. We could use more politicians of his sort today…

  14. ( |o )====::: says:

    I have found that instead of wasting time as a self-appointed theological gatekeeper / truthtester / heresyhunter there’s much more progress to be made in Jesus’ present world with individual engagement, partnering and being open to fund, heal, comfort, encourage, stay along side the hurt and suffering ones, regardless of professions of faith or identification on some subjective spectrum of “orthodoxy”. Also, staying committed to each through the long haul of life has brought joy to all participants.
    =)

  15. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    Differing opinions do not constitute conflict. Questioning the motives of a person with a differing opinion does create conflict. We don’t have a window into other people’s souls.

    In terms of voicing “the Word of God in a matter under discussion”, it is more often our understanding and/or our interpretation of the “Word of God” that is being given voice. It is seldom an absolute. 2000 years of the interpretation of scripture, with widely differing views among writers and thinkers within the Christian tradition should at least call for some humility on our part.

    With regard to the subjective nature of discussions or conversations a pretty good guide might be common courtesy which, as I understand it, calls for empathy, that is, you are considerate of the other person. It does not mean that you have to accept and/or believe what they are saying, but, again, one doesn’t impugn their motives.

    Finally, silence is not consent, as we know in law. Additionally, one must be careful when using phrases such as “appears to promote or affirm sin” and “false or heterodox teaching”. I happen to have a cocktail every evening. In many circles that would appear to promote or affirm sin. I could go on… As to “false or heterodox teaching”, I would have to ask, “According to whom?” What magisterium shall we use? What confession shall we reference? And that is precisely the point… there is not a common magisterium or confession that will encompass all of us here. In your own church where you are bound together by a confession, it is a different matter. That, however, is not the situation here.

  16. Jean says:

    Thanks, Duane.

    “Questioning the motives of a person with a differing opinion does create conflict. We don’t have a window into other people’s souls.” Agree. In exegesis, we call that “looking behind the text.” It’s not only unreliable, but easily becomes a sin against the 8th Commandment.

    “With regard to the subjective nature of discussions or conversations a pretty good guide might be common courtesy which, as I understand it, calls for empathy, that is, you are considerate of the other person.” Agree.

  17. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    As you know… “Our good reputation is another gift from God. God gives some the duty to judge behavior and to punish evildoers, but if that is not our calling in life, we have no right to tarnish other people’s reputations.We have the duty to speak in such a way about individuals or situations that we are putting the best construction on them and speaking about them in the kindest possible way, even as God treats us kindly, with mercy and compassion, through Christ our Lord.”

  18. Michael says:

    Well said, Duane.
    “As to “false or heterodox teaching”, I would have to ask, “According to whom?” What magisterium shall we use? What confession shall we reference? And that is precisely the point… there is not a common magisterium or confession that will encompass all of us here. In your own church where you are bound together by a confession, it is a different matter. That, however, is not the situation here.”

    May I add that it is intentionally not the case here.
    The responsibility for content here is solely my own…and my assumption has been that the reader is able to engage with ideas that they may not believe without issues.

  19. Josh says:

    So nothing qualifies as false teaching here? No standards? Post what you like, and we’ll consider it all with no issues?

    Really?
    It has not always been that way.

  20. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I agree with Josh – at what point do you say “you are wrong”?

    The readers, lurkers are left defenseless — although that is their own fault if they have not put enough time in to at least have and opinion, or their own version.

  21. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    I attended an LCMS seminary without being a Lutheran. I attended Anglican institutions before I was an Anglican. I’ve attended Orthodox institutions and conferences without being Orthodox. I have attended and taught in RC institutions without being Roman Catholic. I have spent my life engaging with ideas that I may not have believed at the time. When approached with courtesy and a desire to learn, it does not have to be an issue… in fact, it can be enriching.

  22. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I think my standard has been clear as being the historic creeds of the church.
    The bare essentials, if you will.
    I’ve never said that objections or debates on ideas were off limits.
    What I mean by no issues is the old canards about what exposure to different ideas will do to the “weaker brother”…I think the ability to discuss issues freely only strengthens faith.

  23. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    I’ll allow Michael to respond more fully as it is his blog. For myself, as we have said before, I think most here are essentially creedal Christians and hold that as a norm. And again, tell me how you personally define “false teaching”?

  24. Duane Arnold says:

    Again, Michael and I are not on the phone 😁…

  25. Michael says:

    “at what point do you say “you are wrong”?”

    Depends on your perspective…and what standard you measure right and wrong with.
    Everyone claims the Bible…while disagreeing with others who make the same claim.
    It just doesn’t fly.

  26. Josh says:

    Michael – I’ve seen that the slippery slop is all too real.

    Duane – Easy. If it is in opposition to Scripture it is false. I know, I know. “Who’s interpretation of Scripture?”. Also easy. Mine, of course. The problem comes in, that when I try to make my scriptural case, I am immediately shouted down and insulted until I stop.

  27. Jean says:

    “What I mean by no issues is the old canards about what exposure to different ideas will do to the ‘weaker brother’. ”

    Why is that a canard?

    “O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge,’ for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.”

  28. Josh says:

    “Everyone claims the Bible…while disagreeing with others who make the same claim.”

    If you claim the bible, you should be able to make your case with the bible. I have certainly heard case that were stronger than mine and changed my opinion to a more biblical position.

  29. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    It’s also the humility to realize there might be a different take on the same scriptural case…

  30. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    Are you speaking for yourself, or others? Any one who wishes to avoid the discussion should certainly bow out. On the other hand, as I referenced above, “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…”

    “Gentleness and respect” would cover a multitude of sins…

  31. Michael says:

    Josh,

    You and Jean both claim “sola scripture”.
    Yet Baptists and Lutherans have been at odds on The Lord’s Table, baptism, and other standard doctrines for centuries.
    The debates will continue until the Lord returns.

    I’ll say it again.
    It’s an issue of interpretation, not authority.

  32. Michael says:

    In my opinion what everyone here offers is their interpretation of Scripture or what their confession or teaching magisterium demands.

    That kind of diversity should lead to humility…

  33. Jean says:

    Duane,

    “Are you speaking for yourself, or others?” I don’t know what you mean. But, Paul’s admonishment to Timothy is not solved with “anyone who wishes to avoid discussion should certainly bow out.” People who are susceptible to false or heterodox teaching often don’t see themselves that way and may not even be aware that what they are hearing is not orthodox. In other words, I don’t think simply asking people to self-police their reading is sufficient; I think any person handling the Word of God publicly owes an obligation under the 2nd Commandment of the Decalogue to use the name of God reverently and rightly.

  34. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    So is there anything scriptural that you know for sure and would challenge an opposing position as wrong?

  35. Michael says:

    MLD,

    I’ve already said that I hold to creedal Christianity.
    I think a great many things propounded here are “wrong”…but I don’t believe they are important enough to debate, or the debates have gone on so long without resolution that resolution simply won’t happen until the eschaton.
    I don’t have to defend a confession or submit to a magisterium, so I’m going to have a broader view than many.

  36. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    I will allow Michael to answer more fully, but I think the sort of strict “orthodox” echo chamber you desire will, most likely, not be found here. There is diversity and there are people on the fringe of the mainstream. Many extreme comments are moderated (over 1400 at present count not including bots and spam). I don’t really see us as theological police…

  37. Michael says:

    Jean,
    Duane spoke well to that.
    To be as real as possible, I don’t think you’re going to find what you’re looking for anywhere except on sites with other confessional Lutherans.
    What the current strife here signals to me is a further separation and isolation of people congregating only with those they are in lockstep with theologically or politically.
    That in my opinion is truly dangerous and will never happen here.

  38. Jean says:

    Duane,

    “I think the sort of strict “orthodox” echo chamber you desire will”

    For the second time in this discussion, you’ve done precisely what you said we shouldn’t do: you’ve questioned my motives and opened a window into my soul. And in the process you’ve wildly misrepresented me.

  39. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    All I can say is that John Shelby Spong and Nadia Bolz Weber are allowed to flourish to large audiences because both communion are apathetic in calling out apostasy and heresy — but kumbaya prevails around them.
    But no one cares – so I won’t.

  40. Michael says:

    MLD,
    I haven’t seen either one post here…

  41. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    I’m sorry if that is the case. Just what is it then that you want here?

  42. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – would you tell them they are wrong?
    I am sure that Spong still adheres to the creed but he denies scriptures – denies most of Jesus’ miracles and most of Jesus red letters.
    Check out his book on John.
    He is a heretic and no one in his communion calls him out – because it’s not nice and who is to say what is right.

    Nadia just isn’t a Christian.

  43. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – “signals to me is a further separation and isolation of people congregating only with those they are in lockstep with theologically or politically.”

    I don’t know what you know or what you think you are seeing – this is the only blog I participate on – I am here for the diversity.
    Even with the one who aligns with me theologically on most issues – fights with me politically.

    Because one takes a stand does not mean I / we walk lockstep. Think about it for a minute – you are trying to persuade everyone to walk ‘lockstep’ with you in a open and fully accepting manner.

    At the end of the day, I don’t care if anyone agrees with me – I just want them to know what they are disagreeing with.

  44. Jean says:

    Duane,

    “Just what is it then that you want here?”

    Courtesy and mutual respect towards everyone, including, but not limited to, Christians who are settled in their tradition and theology, as well as those who are open to new ideas, but who would be so open while seeing the majority of the Bible as clearly speaking.

  45. Michael says:

    MLD,

    I would tell Spong he’s wrong, but not just on the basis of biblical interpretation.
    I believe he denies the bodily resurrection and there is no way in my understanding to defend that.

  46. filbertz says:

    I received communion last week with NBW officiating. I wouldn’t classify her as a non-believer.

    This illustrates the need for group discernment and oversight vs. individual opinion/interpretation. Does the person(s) in question adhere to the core beliefs? If her group is satisfied, my opinion is worth a used stamp.

  47. filbertz says:

    …but then again, perhaps I’m heretical.

  48. Michael says:

    Jean,
    I do not see most of the Bible as clearly speaking , rather I see it as incredibly paradoxical and open to interpretation.
    Real clarity would wipe away all the heated disputes over almost every doctrine and minimize the thousands of different expressions of the faith that claim to have the correct views.

  49. Michael says:

    Good to see you, Fil!

  50. ( |o )====::: says:

    “Nadia just isn’t a Christian.”

    When did Jesus say that?

  51. Jean says:

    Michael,

    “I do not see most of the Bible as clearly speaking , rather I see it as incredibly paradoxical and open to interpretation.”

    I do not deny your opinion, but simply ask you to not condemn nor mock those who disagree with this opinion.

    I took a quick look at the Apology to the Augsburg Confession. And even in that document, there was a decent minority of the Chief Articles of Faith in which the Reformers and Rome agreed in whole or in part. I think that it should be the prayer and endeavor of every Christian to work towards unity in doctrine. That is just my though.

  52. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – Not to start an argument or even a discussion – but just to point out “This is my body” and This baptism saves are pretty clear statements. To deny so must begin with “well, what they really mean is this is NOT my body and this baptism does NOT save.

    But we are in America and we can believe and say what we want.

  53. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    ” I think that it should be the prayer and endeavor of every Christian to work towards unity in doctrine.”

    Or, unity despite doctrine! Off for a while, cocktails with my bride…

  54. Michael says:

    MLD,
    Those disputes were happening before America existed…

  55. Michael says:

    Jean,
    What I mock is acting as if your opinion came from Sinai.

  56. Jean says:

    Michael,

    “What I mock is acting as if your opinion came from Sinai.”

    That’s a projection. Again, it’s looking behind the words. Why not just address the words? I would like, God help me, to accord everyone the same courtesy.

  57. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, the disputes may be long running but lack of clarity of those two statements is not the cause.

  58. Michael says:

    MLD,
    Tens of millions of Baptist’s beg to differ…

  59. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    They can beg to differ all they want, but they must first deny very, very clear verses and at the same time they cannot produce a single baptism verse that states baptism does not save or one that says Jesus did not claim the body to be his very body.

    I will say though, they may have philosophy on their side but not Scripture.

    I know you think I am mean, but what am I supposed to say?

  60. Michael says:

    MLD,

    You guys wear me out.
    Why can’t you simply acknowledge that there is a diversity of views on theses matters while holding to your own?
    Whenever I hear someone say “the Bible clearly says”, my eyes glaze over and I move on…

  61. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I do hold that there are a diversity of views on these matters. What do you think I am addressing? I just don’t hold that they are equally valid.

    You believe just as staunchly in clear passages. Are the verses to feed the hungry, care for widows and orphans along with justice for the downcast some how unclear and open to question and rejection?

    You are just sure about different things.

  62. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    You don’t need to reply.

  63. Duane Arnold says:

    I’ll reply… this is the very thing that I’ve been talking about. I hold to a similar, if not the same interpretation. I will not, however, use that interpretation to fence off and exclude those who do not have that interpretation. You turn words of comfort and assurance meant to heal and restore into weapons to wound and exclude.

    I’ll repeat myself… “I cannot imagine being argued or bullied into a particular room. If someone attempted to do so, I would quite likely leave the house altogether, not wishing to be under the same roof with such people.”

  64. Jim says:

    MLD said, “I am here for the diversity.”

    Me too. I also have a God-given affection for many here. I’m sure others do as well. It’s kind of a holy thing in my view.

  65. Jean says:

    Duane,

    I will share a real-life story, recent, of weaponizing doctrine to wound and exclude.

    Recently I was told by a proud pastor that he baptized a young girl in her late teens or early twenties, who had been persuaded by his church that her baptism as an infant was invalid. Moreover, he said that this young lady had been persecuted per Mt. 5:10-11 by her own parents who objected to her re-baptism. This pastor persuaded this young lady to violate the 4th Commandment, to be disobedient to the wishes of her parents.

    That turning words of comfort and assurance to heal and restore into bullying and wounding.

    When MLD argues that “is” means “is”, he is saying the same thing that 2/3 to 3/4 of Christians worldwide confess. He doesn’t argue for this to bully or wound, but to present them with what Christians historically and in the majority have always said. He most likely would like to invite them to hear those words as words of comfort and assurance, rather than as words of an ordinance which affirm obedience, rather than bestow the grace of God. Please don’t be hard on MLD.

  66. Michael says:

    Since when do people in their 20’s have to obey their parents religious requirements?

  67. Michael says:

    Jim,

    I hear you…but I think we’re losing that..

  68. Jean says:

    Does the 4th Commandment have an age expiration date. In Mt. 15, Jesus applied the commandment to a adult children.

  69. Michael says:

    That’s just bizarre…

  70. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, who have I excluded and what have I excluded them from? This is very bizarre.

  71. ( |o )====::: says:

    Nadia Bolz-Weber not a Christian?
    I beg to differ

    https://youtu.be/OjIWtWjT7L4

  72. Em says:

    an adult child does not obey their parents… they only agree or disagree and act accordingly… it is entirely within the realm of walking with the Lord to conclude that an infant baptism, of which they had no volitional participation, does not meet their need to follow the Lord in obedience now that they are adults… parents should be gracious
    Can twice baptized hurt? Only if one is thinking that a rebaptism and a rebaptism etc will cover sins – a lack of faith? maybe, but sins of the Christian are confessed

    sorry for the evangelical, protestant dogmatic post…. 🙂

  73. If I obeyed my mother to the extreme, I’d be unable to provide for my children,my primary family (1 Timothy 5:8… I did my best for my mother for years), and might be in jail for false accusations of elder abuse. It was the worst struggle of my life 3 years ago though I got validation from my Christian therapist and multiple government agencies. I still felt guilty… she started accusing my little kids, too. That was enough!

    Almost 6 years ago, I got a lot of grief (to put it mildly) for reporting my ex BIL for possibly molesting my daughter. I was supposed to defer to her grandma and grandpa (The Patriarch) who had a history of hiding abuse. No. Way. In. Hell.

    If my life is cut short, then so be it . I protected my lambs. And yes, I still struggle with these things, with tears…

  74. Em says:

    FWIW
    New Victor, my mother is gone now… but it was necessary to find a senior care home for her when she turned 90 and couldn’t handle her affairs. I would much rather have had her in my home, but all her life she had a problem with lying. Her doctor thought that we were abusing her and the home thought we were trying to steal from her. Fortunately, her funds were handled by an accountant and an attorney as she’d convinced both her late husband’s family and mine that we were stealing from her. The only person who saw through her, and i am in his debt, was a dear old Roman Catholic priest. “L-,” he said to her one day out of the blue, “God hates liars.” There must be something to the confessional that benefits the priest, if not the parishioner… In spite of all that, i am hoping that God’s grace brought her home and i have reason to hope this.

    Do not let yourself feel that you failed your mother – if she was like mine, nothing would make her happier than knowing you felt guilty . 🙂

  75. Thank you so much Em.

    She’s under conservatorship. She didn’t know who we were the last time we visited. She seemed happy. A friend of mine who knew her for 20 years happened to visit someone else and saw her. She didn’t remember who he was and didn’t recognize my name or her grandchildren’s names. Yet he observed her to be happy and getting along well with staff and residents though she told me shed rather die than end up in skilled care, being an RN. I suppose my prayers were answered. I asked God to take care of her. I hope to see her in heaven, healed from the proverbial demons which plagued her life-long.

  76. Michael says:

    TNV,

    You did the right thing.
    “Honoring” your parents is a whole different matter than “obeying” them.

  77. Thank you Michael. I struggled though this with many tears. Sometimes still…

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