How Do You Decide?

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322 Responses

  1. Jon Bartlett says:

    Let’s start you all off with a curve ball. Here in the UK, my wife and I moved 20 miles out of London, from a 500-strong Anglican church to a 35-strong Baptist one. And we have been at this little church for 33 years now. Our reason? We felt that we should worship in a church in the same community that we lived, so we could be fully involved in both – we live 5 minutes walk from the church. In the end, this was more important than the small print of the church statement of faith. (I know that this won’t please some contributors, but 95% of their doctrine was the same.) We have a spiritual home, and I am free to read what I like, and work through my faith with friends – especially with the pastor, who grew up in a traditional Pentecostal church, before defecting to the dark side.

    Do keep up the debates here – I find them useful and instructive – but please play nicely!!

  2. Michael says:

    Jon,

    That’s actually encouraging to me…I like your priorities!

  3. Steve says:

    My old CC used to say and brag that they were the last watering hole in the city. The would always say come as you are and they were proud that they removed all obsticals and their bar was so low or non existent that basically if you couldn’t make it there you couldn’t make it anywhere. Well I guess I was an odd ball who didn’t make it there and now I’ve discovered they certainly aren’t the last watering hole. I needed to be part of community and there is nothing more isolating than going to a large CC and being told to shut up and listen to the pastor and shut up some more and listen to their concert worship service and shut up again and go out of the service realizing nobody knows anyone’s name while waiting for it to start again with the second service and then again for the third service. God in his grace moved me on to more of a solid in the faith community based church.

  4. Duane Arnold says:

    Theology, History, Liturgy and Aesthetics…

    I never intended to be an Anglican priest. My goal was to be a lay theologian, but things changed owing to a promise I made. My field is Church History, subset Patristics. This has always been a strength of Anglicanism (sadly waning these days). An added plus is the emphasis placed on history by Anglicans (also on the wane). Then there is liturgy. It does not have to be created and recreated Sunday by Sunday (as I had to do in CC). There are specified forms in which a wide range of liturgical expression may be found. Finally, aesthetics… generally speaking, Anglicans care about the beauty of their liturgy, the beauty of their buildings, the beauty of their music and hymnody (much of this is also on the wane). In all candor, the most likely reason that I am not Eastern Orthodox, is that I am culturally an Anglican.

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

    The journey began with RCC infant baptism, 1st & 2nd grade RCC school, then public school with Catechism, then Jesus People Movement, to a relocation to SCal to go to CCCM for many many years, but grew disillusioned with the increasing Chuck worship, so then checked out various smaller CCs, visited and attended Saddleback Community Church, stayed awhile until I learned that by taking their class we were covertly signed up to be Southern Baptists. Disillusioned, we checked out Capo Beach Calvary and loved the ChuckJr era, but left when Pete arrived, supported a new community called TheEffect for quite a while, then stepped away to take a sabbatical. Was asked to bring music to a contemplative community called RefleXion which we supported and participated in, have found like minded folk who are OK with questions and process.

    It’s been a long lifetime of affiliations, friendships, exploration of styles, and deconstruction of those things which were not safe to question.

    There is nowhere I go that God’s presence is not already there, and it’s daily about encouraging others to know they are loved as they ultimately ask the same questions about being “good enough”.

    Dad says, “You’re my kids, there’s nothing that can make you less or more my kids.
    Like a sheep on my shoulders and a coin in my pocket, you’re safe!”

  6. Jean says:

    I am inherently skeptical and mistrustful, with a sensitivity to evil and my own sin. (So, for example, I wouldn’t last two minutes in either a Pentacostal church or a fundamentalist civil religion type church.) As I bounced around different churches and traditions from my late teens and into early to mid adulthood I looked for a tradition which reflected Biblical truth about both God and mankind.

    I found that finding that combination of (i) the true God – who He is and what He accomplished and offers man, on the one hand, and (ii) true man – who he is and what he lacks and rebels against, on the other, is the key to both true theology and true Christian spirituality. I wanted a right belief in God and a right practice of the faith.

    Then it was on this blog that I came into contact with the first confessional Lutheran I ever met, and after studying the Lutheran traditions for a year, I concluded that Lutheran Christianity (a) reflects the doctrines taught in Scripture, (b) provides an honest and realistic piety, and (c) provides biblical teaching to assist the Christian in establishing a framework for making sense of and navigating the world and culture.

    It is, IMO, essential that Christians be able to (a) distinguish the teachings of Scripture from the philosophical and political presuppositions that we are brought up with from our youth that become so ingrained that we don’t even know we have them, and (b) separate the Kingdom of God from the kingdoms of the world, even while living within both kingdoms. Lutheran theology distinguishes both kingdoms.

    Secondly, Christians are re-birthed into a new community, which is the body of Christ, also called the Church. This isn’t an option, but is a reality and Christian piety is therefore both individual and communal. Lutheran theology encompasses both the community and the individual.

  7. Em says:

    Well…..
    I wouldn’t take anything for the journey the Lord has brought me through
    Brain washed as a child by a malcontent mother who blamed all her trials on the fact that she was raised by mindless religious fanatics, the parents she dumped me on, i pretty much hated “god” as a child.
    Today those grandparents are my shining data point of living as a Christian. Grace, Faith uncompromising and prayer prevailing examples of God’s design for man and wife. She was a well to do Colorado rancher’s daughter and he was a turn of the century Holiness movement pastor. He mellowed, strong in faith all his life and she, true to her pioneer roots was the wife all men wish for. IMO, of course.
    Me? One “coincidence/provision of God after another brought me to face John 3:16 (yes, the whole chapter is edifying). God’s love is strong, pure and powerful, not mushy wil o the wisp…
    I do feel badly that today, few recognize the miraculous noncompromising salvation He has provided that does not defile God’s holiness.
    I have found two kinds of genuine children of God. Those whose faces light up as they discuss Eternal things and those who take a fighting stance on doctrines. Both expressions of their love of God…
    I started my walk as a Presbyterian, but i find lovers of Jesus, who understand/know our triune God among many denominations – many. So i cannot say that i identify with any single one group today. You love, treasure John 3:16? We are family, then.. . 😘 like it or not

  8. pstrmike says:

    Steve,
    In my world, watering holes was how many referred to bars. Make your own application 😉

    “I fell in love with the traditions of Anglicanism, especially the fact that other sects didn’t have to be wrong in order for Anglicanism to be right for me.”

    I think this is a gift that Anglicanism offers to the rest of the church who are often too busy fighting to recognize the value of it.

  9. Steve says:

    Pstrmike, well I think with the legalism regarding alcohol and going to bars coming out of CC Philly, probably explains a lot why they used the terms watering holes to review to their own church. Maybe this is why I didn’t quite fit in. I never really had a problem with alcohol but I think sometimes they assumed everyone had a problem with alcohol which was a big assumption and huge mistake and outright legalism.

  10. Chris says:

    I was saved through a contemporary Baptist church. Began going to a Calvary Chapel because it was similar in style and theology to what I had always known, and through a crazy bunch of “coincidences” that led me there. Now I’m part of a smaller Calvary with a more community-based culture which is really nice. Over the years as I’ve explored more theology, many of my convictions and beliefs have changed or broadened and I don’t fit nearly as well at CC as I used to, but my roots are here and it’s hard to uproot, and I’m not sure I’d fit any more cleanly anywhere else. The downside of being a theological mutt (especially in a CC church) is you need to be careful what you say to whom, because everyone thinks their answer is the only right answer, and anything different is heresy. Your friendships can only go so deep in situations like that.

  11. Jim says:

    The coffee.

  12. Laura Figueroa-Scott says:

    I was raised Catholic and I fell in love with the majesty of God. What I did not like was the emphasis on confession and that we needed to go through intercessors without a seeming direct connection to God. As it happened, the person that let me know the beauty of a direct connect with God was a Sister of Charity, Sister Marie Amodea. She remains one of my spiritual heroes. After that, I went in search of my own spirituality and finally, broken, I found my way to the cross and have been happy that a direct connect could be had and maintained. I wanted more humanity from the pulpit and found it at a Charismatic church. There, I am fed scholastically and emotionally with a big emphasis on worship. I am happy but at times, I miss the reverence that is part of Catholicism.

  13. Eric says:

    I grew up in a large baptist church.
    A group of us from there moved into a small baptist church that might otherwise have died, and it became a somewhat cool young adults church for a while – I spent most of my 20s going there.

    When I moved house I joined the church in my street (I could sometimes hear the organ from my driveway), which was also a baptist church, but not a very cool one (I was the only one in my 20s). It was the obvious place for me – as well as being so close, and my landlady was going there, I could see ways I could serve there.

    When I moved house again, I joined an evangelical Anglican church that was being planted 1km away. I thought that would be a short stint before I moved again, but it was 5 years.

    Now I’m living somewhere else and part of an organic (independent and messy) church here – again it’s close and it’s somewhere I can serve.

    Those have been my home churches, but a lot of my Christian life has been in various parachurch spheres: The university Christian group was really my primary Christian community when I was a student. I’ve been part of all all kinds of seasonal ministries that involve people across broad evangelicalism and beyond. That’s why I was happy to go to an ‘uncool’ church on Sunday – because I knew I would be serving & fellowshipping in the interchurch scene from time to time and getting enough excitement there.

    Although leaders might need to be more in tune with their tradition, as a layperson I don’t have that difficulty. If my criteria for participating in a church only fit 5% of churches, and my church has a goal reaching people “out there” with the gospel and having them join our church with no problem – that’s a double standard I’m struggling to articulate.

  14. Tom says:

    Michael, this was a thought-provoking article, as I am looking for a new church. I attend an urban Calvary Chapel 45 minutes away – the ministry is great there, but I miss having local fellowship. As Chris nicely illustrated, I too am a “theological mutt” and find myself less able to “fit in”. I find myself more in agreement with Orthodoxy in some areas – so much so that I find it hard to listen to some Evangelical sermons. What you said, “There is freedom to read and think broadly” – whether it is in the theological, scientific, or political arena, is of paramount importance, as most churches want you to adhere to certain viewpoints outside of the core doctrines we all share. I don’t know where God is taking me at this time, but I know where I am not going back to.

  15. Xenia says:

    Once I realized that my path to repentance and salvation was going to be mediated by the Orthodox Church, I (eventually) chose the one closest to our house.

  16. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    Why the Orthodox instead of the RCC or Anglicanism?

  17. Michael says:

    Tom,

    “What you said, “There is freedom to read and think broadly” – whether it is in the theological, scientific, or political arena, is of paramount importance, as most churches want you to adhere to certain viewpoints outside of the core doctrines we all share.”

    Thats a tougher one to find…confessional churches demand subscription to what is already written, the RCC and Orthodox to what the church has decided.

    Sometimes I wish I could stop thinking and tow those lines…

  18. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I would hope no one is suggesting that if you subscribe to a confession that stops being able to ‘read and think broadly’. That would not be a wise assumption.

  19. EricL says:

    As Michael said, “I fell in love with the traditions of Anglicanism, especially the fact that other sects didn’t have to be wrong in order for Anglicanism to be right for me.” Replace the word Anglican with Vineyard and that’s the one reason why I returned to this Charismatic movement. I appreciate the fact that they emphasize that you can love your particular “tribe” without hating or condemning all the other sects.

    I don’t often share about my particular denomination here because I don’t have the margin in my life to spend time defending it against those who will never be unconvinced of their own views.
    Kudos to Josh for his doggedness in defending Evangelicalism; sometimes I feel guilty for leaving him on the battlefield alone, but usually I don’t read the comment battles until well after they have cooled off and the battle has raged on to some other hill to die on. I appreciate that Josh will keep speaking up; I also appreciate that Michael keeps this forum open to the full gambit of Christianity.

    PS- thanks Michael, for enduring Linkathon without me yesterday- I was busy playing nurse to a sick family. Just as I’ve gotten over an almost two month fight with a Sinus Infection, both my boys became sick- with different stuff. Today is the first day in over a week without one of them home. Anyway, now it is back to work.

  20. Xenia says:

    Michael, I did not choose a church based on a study of theology.

    The RC is corrupt and has been for 1000+ years. The last RC service I attended featured a CD of Frank Sinatra singing “I did it my way” for the communion hymn. They are dressing up as pagans in the Amazon. They have gone off the rails.

    I have never been attracted to Anglicanism, especially the modern version with lesbian bishops, etc. I spent several teen years with the family of an Episcopal priest and they mocked traditional Christianity from dawn to dusk. It appears to be a sinking ship. The beautiful cathedrals in England, which I admire, were built by the Catholics. I am not terribly interested in being given the freedom to believe whatever I want, I am a person who needs well-defined guidelines.

    The real answer is that one Sunday I wandered into the local Orthodox church and had a mystical experience and there was no turning back from that. I learned the theology after I joined up.

  21. Xenia says:

    Why I left the Evangelical world… Basically, I was becoming a worse sinner with each passing year, and this didn’t seem right. I began to think there was more to Christianity than getting to heaven, based on a half-sincere act of walking the aisle when I was 12. Because of various things I’ve mentioned here over the years, I seriously doubted my salvation, but attempts at re-dedication were failures. The evangelical system just didn’t appear to be working, even though I personally worked quite hard at it, what with continual Bible study/reading and so forth. If this was Christianity, it was hollow.

    As I’ve mentioned here before, I spent the summer attending CC but also visiting every denomination in town, only to realize they were all pale imitations of Calvary Chapel, yes, even the LCMS was really no different in atmosphere. Then I blundered into St. Seraphim’s, pretty much as a tourist, and was changed forever.

    There is more to Christianity than getting to heaven when one dies. Becoming *like Christ* on the journey was the missing piece. For a church that I was warned against as “salvation by works I have found rest.

  22. Xenia says:

    I didn’t leave my old CC for reasons of abuse or resentment, etc. I didn’t leave them because of any sins on their part; I left because of the pile of sins on my part that needed a remedy I didn’t believe they could offer. My story is not “I left CC because Pastor X. blah blah blah.” I love and admire my old Pastor X. We are at peace with each other. He is a great man who loves the Lord and has worked hard all his life to spread the Gospel.

  23. Xenia says:

    I’d better add this:

    When I first came to this blog, I did have some very negative things to say about my old CC and by extension, the pastor. I don’t feel this way now, and I regret (and have apologized for) some of those things I said. I think a few years under Orthodox teaching changed my attitude about a lot of things.

  24. Jean says:

    Xenia,

    “For a church that I was warned against as “salvation by works I have found rest.”

    Some might call it paradox, I call it irony, but often the churches which warn the most about “salvation by works,” are the ones giving (requesting, cajoling) their members the most work.

  25. Josh says:

    Xenia – I’d like to hear more about the mystical experience, please.

  26. Xenia says:

    Hi Josh, when I entered the church, it was like I crossed a line from the every-day world of Seaside and stepped into heaven. It was like a jolt of something… maybe Spirit but I am not going to say that. It was from God, though. I looked around at the icons (which I had previously thought idolatrous) and saw my old Bible friends (John the Baptist, Mary, Michael, Gabriel, etc. and above all, Jesus Christ) on the walls and felt like I was in a worship service along with them. The singing, which at that time (I now realize) was not very good (choir was too small then) and in a foreign language (Slavonic) sounded like angels singing. (I now know the angels do participate in the Liturgy with us so I believe it was them that I heard.) It smelled like I imagined heaven would smell like. The people (very few in number at that time) seemed to me to represent all the faithful Christians of the past 2000 years, standing with the Saints to worship the Trinity. I was probably in the narthex (small entryway) for just a few minutes when I heard (not audibly) “Diane, this is the place for you.” I said (not audibly) “This is the place for me.” But I couldn’t take it for more than about 15 minutes, I had to leave, it was too much for me.

    That was it. I wandered in, having no intention whatsoever to become Orthodox and left after 15 minutes, pretty much dazed, with the determination to join, which I did a few months later. I entered full of cynicism and misery and pretty much floated out.

    (This was when the parish was not doing well, numbers-wise. It has now become a thriving parish.)

  27. Xenia says:

    All to say, that morning I believe God granted me a waking vision of heaven and history and invited me to join.

  28. Josh says:

    Sounds beautiful. Thank you for elaborating.

  29. Xenia says:

    Thanks, Josh. Afterwards, I went to my Calvary Chapel service, in a rather altered state of mind. I ran into a friend, the ass’t pastor’s wife, who noticed I was a bit dedazzled. “What happened?” “I was just at the Orthodox Church in town,” I said. She saw that I was not entirely myself and asked me to help her count the money (from the offering) and was quietly companionable. God bless her. 🙂

    Then I had some decisions to make, because I was employed by this church at their high school as a history teacher. I might lose the job (I didn’t, because Pastor X was merciful). Each Sunday, as I drove to church, I came to a literal fork in the road. I could either turn East, towards the Orthodox Church, or West, to Calvary Chapel. My car always wanted to turn East. 🙂 Eventually, I was received into the Greek Church (seemed easier than the Russians) with the name “Xenia.” When the CC people found out, there was much consternation but I believe it all turned out well and 6 of them converted, too. Pastor X. was especially gracious. This was all about 18 years ago and corresponds with Michael firing up the PhxP.

  30. Xenia says:

    My husband converted a year or two later.

  31. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I have told my story before in the PP article I wrote here years ago on becoming Lutheran. I will recap in abbreviated form.
    In 1990 I had about 10 yrs of Christianity under my belt (I wonder where that phrase comes from?). I was in a bookstore one afternoon and the sales guy came up to me and asked “are you interested in Reformed theology. I told him I had no idea what reformed theology was. He mentioned that a couple of his friends had just started a radio program (no podcasts in those days). It turned out it was the White Horse Inn. I knew 2 of the hosts – kim Riddlebarger was a fellow student in the mid 80s at Simon Greenleaf and Rod Rosenbladt was one of the instructors.
    So you had 2 reformed guys and a Lutheran. I listened and pondered their stuff for over a decade. There came a time when I bought into their stuff but it was all background. Enter another figure from my Simon Greenleaf days, Greg Koukl who had a weekend radio show called Stand to Reason. He was always mentioning that many times mid week he was on a radio program in the Midwest – without mentioning which program. After a couple of years I sent him an email asking which radio show and which program.

    It was in St Louis and it was Lutheran. They had just set up a interactive web page with MP3s of past shows (I think they were WAV files at the time). Let me tell you I was floored by the information and spent the next 3 years catechizing myself as a Lutheran. At the end of those 3 years, I was a convinced Lutheran and had not set foot in a Lutheran church.

    Sometime at the end of 2005 we began going Sunday mornings to a local Lutheran church (we would go to our regular church on Saturdays and I was teaching 3 nights a week at the old Church) In the spring of 2006 we made the final move.

    The only ‘moving experience’ I had in the early days at the Lutheran church was the horror of hearing the law voiced against my sins and the greater majesty of hearing Christ died – not just died, but died for me.
    And the rest is rock n roll history. 🙂

  32. Josh says:

    I was saved in 1993 in a small town in North Carolina. SBC was inevitable.

  33. Josh says:

    For instance, our county has less than 100,000 people. Here are the SBC churches in the county:

    http://gccba.org/churches/

  34. Xenia says:

    MLD, White Horse Inn had a small role in my change of churches, too.

    My sister was converting to Lutheranism round about the same time I was becoming Orthodox. (We were both raised Baptists but she hadn’t been to church in decades.) She wound up at a LCMS church with some well-known (she said) Lutheran people (Boyd?) who were connected with the White Horse Inn people. They would meet at the famous person’s house (I think Boyd?) when it was time for the program, sip wine, and talk about the night’s show, which was mostly trashing Calvary Chapel at this time in its history. So my sister told me about this and I began to listen, too. And some of the things they said did make sense at the time but it didn’t really address my issues and eventually, even my sister thought they were lacking in Christian charity. She actually got to know some of them (Riddlebarger, I think? Maybe Rosenblatt, too?). Anyway, she was quite happy for me UNTIL the White Horse people left off trashing Calvary Chapel and turned their sights on Eastern Orthodoxy, and of course my sister was no longer happy for me.

  35. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Denis – interesting take on the WHI. I find they were actually quite supportive of the EO at least as far as Protestants can go.

    The C.f. thing was actually quite the opposite. The radio show and their conferences impacted many CC types in a positive was and CC people brought that into the CC nest. Reformed theology gained a pretty good foothold in the CC movement by the mid 90s. Chuck was pissed and made several challengi,g comments about the guys at WHI. At one point he called them out by name from the pulpit on a Sunday morning. That recording got plenty of playtime on the radio for the next couple of months. 🙂
    I have about 200 of their programs (1991-96) I recorded off the radio that I converted to MP3 a couple of years ago if anyone is interested.
    JI Packed was a good friend of theirs and used to speak at many of their conferences.

  36. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    The last one wss back to Xenia – I guess auto correct does not recognize saints.

  37. directambiguity says:

    I’m where I’m at because I put the bible above all, I don’t believe in traditions… some people would say I worship the bible and I’m fine with that even though that’s not true. The bible has commands to do and not do, it has examples of what God approves of and what He doesn’t and it has necessary inferences that must be believed because there is no other logical conclusion. Maybe if more people saw it that way there wouldn’t be so many denominations…

  38. Jean says:

    Hi directambiguity,

    I wonder if you would be willing to clarify a point or two from your 2:29 pm comment:

    When you say, “I put the bible above all, I don’t believe in traditions,” do you mean that you have learned all your theology directly from the Bible unaided by teachers or theology books, such as commentaries?

    When you say that you don’t believe in traditions, do you think they are unnecessary or harmful?

    Thanks.

  39. directambiguity says:

    Hi Jean, No and mostly yes.

  40. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I agree. I don’t need traditions or confessions to know that baptism saves and delivers the Holy Spirit because the Bible says so in black and white. 🙂

  41. directambiguity says:

    MLD,

    That would be an inference but not a necessary inference.

  42. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Which part is an inference?

  43. Jean says:

    directambiguity,

    You were doing well. However, if you say that what MLD says is from inference, you prove that you yourself do not believe what you said you believe. In order to say that MLD is drawing an inference, one must deny what the plain words of the Bible actually say.

  44. directambiguity says:

    Jean

    There is difference between an inference and a necessary inference but I should have probably added I’m glad MLD is saved in my last comment even though his soteriology is wrong.

  45. Jean says:

    Directambiguity,

    I must admit that I miss the days when we had unabashed conservative evangelicals on the blog, because when they deny Scripture they at least deny admittedly it by interpolating concepts like “symbolic,’ or “figurative,” or “in the Greek it means something else” (though none of the translators got it). But you are true to your moniker.

    FWIW, the denial of the efficacy of Baptism is a tradition. So, you have embraced at least one tradition.

  46. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    How can my soteriology be wrong if I am saved the same way Paul was saved in Acts 22 – get up, go get baptized and have your sins washed away.
    Isn’t that one of those God commands you were talking about?

  47. Josh says:

    I no longer see the need to argue doctrine with solid, bible-believing Christians. It doesn’t help as much as I once thought it would.

  48. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I am not arguing – I am discussing. Discussion of theological issues is good.

  49. Jim says:

    Very glad to see Josh here.

  50. Jim says:

    MLD and I got in a little kerfuffle back in 2006 or so. I was learning about Lutheranism and liked a lot of what I was seeing. I still do. I got hung up on baptism and literal vs memorial elements. He later picked a fight with me over gun control, which I’m certain he was just doing for the fun of it.

    I’m with Josh re arguing doctrine here, but MLD is still one of my favorite PP’rs.

  51. Josh says:

    Thanks Jim, I’m here under the guise of no doctrinal fights with believers. We’ll see how long I last. I’m not so good at that 🙂

    MLD just likes flexing those “Masters in Apologetics” muscles 🙂

  52. Xenia says:

    The very table of contents of the Bible is a tradition.

  53. Josh says:

    We kind of know what he means though, right? He’s a guy who love the Lord and loves His Word. Not my enemy, for sure.

  54. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jim, I can’t imagine you think I argued with you on gun control (unless you were for it back then).
    My position is that we should require all adults (except the crazies) to own weapons and take more responsibility for the protection of themselves, families and neighborhoods.
    All 3 of my kids own guns including the types many want to outlaw.

  55. Jim says:

    It happened, MLD. You aren’t subtle.

    I know where you stand, and I think that you took the opposing view just for sport, which can be fun. This was maybe 2-3 years ago. I’ve been into guns since elementary school, and have always opposed all forms of gun control.

  56. directambiguity says:

    MLD,

    I missed your comment earlier. We can discuss it more tomorrow or some other time. I know all your arguments I think.

  57. Xenia, thank you for your testimony. It is helpful (and beautiful), especially since I am contemplating leaving CC, for me, and more importantly, my lambs. I’m curious, scared, and intrigued by the tiny (and I mean tiny!) EO parish 2 blocks from my house in East San Jose. It seems so out of place in our ‘hood.

  58. Steve says:

    My current pastor is a big fan of the white horse Inn and recommends it at every chance he can get. Makes me think that Lutherans and Reformed folk are not that far from each other that some hear sometimes seem to espouse.

  59. Steve says:

    I agree. I don’t need traditions or confessions to know that baptism saves and delivers the Holy Spirit because the Bible says so in black and white.
    ———————————————————————————————————-

    MLD, when you interpret the “Baptism saves” passage the way you just did, isn’t it clear and understood that Jesus is doing the saving? But sometimes the way you try to explain it here in your truncated view is that “baptism” is a god that actually does the saving. That is the inference some of us get. Wouldn’t that be idolatry? Baptism is not a god or is it? Baptism maybe a means and a method that God uses, ordains and institutes but quite frankly when you just quote a verse saying “baptism saves” what you are doing is taking a verse in isolation and removing it from its context which creates a inference of its own.

  60. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Steve, the Reformed and Lutherans are miles apart. Many are fooled by similar reformation language, but different meaning are poured into the similar words. The thing that made the old White Horse Inn work is that the participants fully understood each other’s position and differences and were able to make good discussion. The one thing both sides did agree on was evangelicals of the 80s and 90s had pretty much left the reservation. 😉

    I can’t speak for the modern version of the WHI – Riddlebarger and Rosenblatt no longer participate in the program.

  61. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Steve, Jesus uses physical means to save people. There is not a single case since the death, burial, resurrection and ascension that Jesus has saved a person without physical means.

    So, just with your statement / question we can see the deep divide between the Reformed and Lutheran. 🙂

  62. Michael says:

    A number of years ago, I baptized the pillar of our fellowship in her 90th year.
    She’d been “saved” longer than I’d been alive…

  63. Jean says:

    I don’t think anyone here has ever said that **only** baptism saves.

  64. Xenia says:

    I don’t think anyone here, at least, believes that a mechanical dipping in the water with Christian prayers “saves” a person. The Orthodox believe it is the beginning of the journey. At the time of one’s baptism, the person (1) is exorcised [spitting on the devil] and (2) receives the Holy Spirit [chrismation]. Through a period of rebellion and negligence, devils can come back and the Holy Spirit won’t stay where He isn’t wanted and the person is in extreme danger of perdition.

    But, in anticipation of objections, this isn’t a daily “in and out of the Kingdom” kind of thing where you’re saved one day and lost the next. It takes some time.

  65. Duane Arnold says:

    Augustine, On Baptism, Against the Donatists (Book IV), ch.22

  66. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I agree with Jean’s statement that we do not say only baptism saves. We object to those who deny that baptism saves or that Jesus does not use physical means to save.

  67. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Xenia – we believe baptism saves and at the same time we do not believe once saved always saved.

  68. Xenia says:

    MLD, yes, that’s what we believe, too.

  69. Steve says:

    I don’t think anyone here, at least, believes that a mechanical dipping in the water with Christian prayers “saves” a person.
    _____________________________________________________________________

    Xenia, this appears to be exactly what MLD is saying of the Lutheran faith.

    Josh’s link is interesting. I thought for certain infants were baptized in the EO but the link says differently. Also, if baptism is required for salvation in the Lutheran churches, I wonder where all the aborted unborn and unbaptized babies go. This is not a rare event when you are talking millions about millions. I honestly believe many of these babies as well as fetuses and embryos will be in heaven some day. Not a rare event and absolutely no baptism.

  70. Jean says:

    Steve,

    We don’t get our theology for internet charts. Here is the official statement of the LCMS regarding Baptism, which is what MLD believes, as do I and the apostles:

    “The LCMS does not believe that Baptism is ABSOLUTELY necessary for salvation. All true believers in the Old Testament era were saved without baptism. Mark 16:16 implies that it is not the absence of Baptism that condemns a person but the absence of faith, and there are clearly other ways of coming to faith by the power of the Holy Spirit (reading or hearing the Word of God).

    Still, Baptism dare not be despised or willfully neglected, since it is explicitly commanded by God and has His precious promises attached to it. It is not a mere “ritual” or “symbol,” but a powerful means of grace by which God grants faith and the forgiveness of sins.”

  71. Josh says:

    When you guys get this solved, let me know.

  72. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Steve, this conversation began when disambiguity said he believes only the Bible and has no use for confessions and tradition.
    I only challenged with direct references from the Bible about baptism.
    This baptism saves – baptism delivers the Holy Spirit – baptism washes away sin. I chose only 3 but they are very clear – and all the distracters ran away from Scripture and back to their traditional beliefs. It was sort of a test in hypocrisy.
    People can believe what they want, but you can’t say those passages don’t say what they say.
    Now my question, since I am sure that you also firmly hold to a belief that God always uses physical means to save (as I doubt you believe in pixie dust) – why do you get to believe in the physical means of your choice?

  73. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh has moved from being a participant to passive aggressive bystander. 🙂

  74. Michael says:

    “People can believe what they want, but you can’t say those passages don’t say what they say.”

    Some people, using other parts of Scripture to aid in interpretation, interpret them differently.

    You have faith in your interpretation, they have faith in theirs.
    How one decides between the interpretations was the question I was trying to get at with this article.

  75. Josh says:

    Yes, I have. 11 years ago, I though these discussions would be helpful. Half the people who use to argue with us no longer claim to be Christian.

  76. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – I didn’t speak of how anyone ‘interprets’ I spoke to what the words actually say.

  77. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    See, I say the words are absolutely true -baptism save because the Bible says so. Other means also save. The preached word saves, the written word saves.
    I don’t understand why this is so difficult?
    Is it just as valid to say that the preached word does not save?
    I have never seen a baptism related passage that indicates that baptism does not save – or is not a valid means that God would use.

  78. Michael says:

    Steve,

    “I honestly believe many of these babies as well as fetuses and embryos will be in heaven some day. Not a rare event and absolutely no baptism.”

    So universalism is acceptable as long as the human remains unborn or young?

  79. Michael says:

    MLD,

    I’m purely speaking to interpretive method.
    Josh believes in the Bible as much as you and has a different interpretation of those Scriptures.

  80. Josh says:

    “Half the people who use to argue with us no longer claim to be Christian.”

    In other words, we’ve failed miserably.

  81. Michael says:

    Josh,
    I think “half” is a large overstatement and that those who may no longer consider themselves believers had significantly larger reasons than debates here.

  82. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I don’t know why anyone who considered themselves to be a follower of Jesus Christ would give up that path because I hold to some strong theological views.
    If that were even possible then I am glad that I help them sort it out so that Christianity no longer burdened their lives.

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

    Michael,
    “So universalism is acceptable as long as the human remains unborn or young?”

    …one of the many reasons I am a universalist.
    <3

  84. Josh says:

    So keep at it. Maybe more will be unburdened. That seems to be where we are headed.

  85. Michael says:

    Josh,
    What are you talking about?

  86. Josh says:

    That was an answer to MLD.

    In general, my part here for 11 years has not built the faith of others.

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

    there’s still a “burden”, but it’s relative…

    “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

  88. Michael says:

    Josh,
    On an average day a couple thousand people read the blog.
    We have about 30 people who comment.
    I judge nothing about the impact of the blog based on the comments of the same few people who’ve shared an online space for a long time.
    I write for the lurkers…and my guess is that you’ve had a positive impact on many of them.

  89. Steve says:

    Michael, universalism? I never said ALL. I said MANY but I certainly hope its all. Because it seems consistent with who God is.

  90. Josh says:

    I can go through about a dozen who have largely walked away from the faith in the last decade. That’s an impact alright.

  91. Michael says:

    Steve,
    What would send an infant to hell?
    All of those who have some hope for universal reconciliation base it partially on what is known of God.
    I sure as hell don’t want to open up this can again, but the inconsistency is worth noting.

  92. Michael says:

    A dozen?
    I can only think of a couple…and I don’t think anything here pushed them into apostasy.

  93. Jean says:

    In his commentary on Acts, the noted Evangelical NT scholar, Darrell Bock, expounds 22:16: “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” as follows:

    “This means that Paul will call on Jesus’ name, an expression pointing to salvation. Such a faith invocation of God washes away sin with the cleansing symbolized in water baptism” [cross references omitted].

    This is exactly what MLD was talking about. Bock inserts the word “symbolized.” There is no grammatical reason to insert a word that isn’t in the text to aid interpretation. If 10 people who are not Bible scholars and had never stepped foot in an Evangelical church were asked what that verse meant, it can’t be clearer that Paul is told to have his sins washed away in Baptism. It takes a scholar to wash away Paul’s meaning.

  94. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh – I thought you were one of those once saved always saved guy?

  95. Michael says:

    I would also note that after 18 years and millions of visitors I have thousands of emails from people whose faith was helped by this blog.
    I always have felt it tawdry to mention, but maybe I should.

  96. Steve says:

    Michael, why you are bringing up universalism here is beyond me. I have no inconsistency here. I’m even the one that said God may reveil himself to every human being the nano second before they die and give them a chance. I don’t know the mind if God in this. I certainly believe every unborn will be in heaven but I’m not dogmatic about it

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

    Michael,
    “I always have felt it tawdry to mention, but maybe I should.”

    Far from tawdry.
    Appreciate the reality check!
    =)

  98. Michael says:

    Steve,
    I think most people of faith would assume that the unborn, the aborted, and infants would be “saved” without a profession of faith or baptism.
    We hope that God has ways in His love and mercy that are not codified in Scripture.
    I find that reasonable and in line with what we know about Jesus, his mission and work.
    Some just extend that hope to all age groups.

  99. Steve says:

    Ok regarding universalism, does Judas the son of perdition eventually make it in or is he with Satan in hell? If he doesn’t make it, You are not a universalist. I know where I stand but I’ll let others comment.

  100. Jean says:

    “The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” – Jesus

  101. Michael says:

    Steve,
    I’m not debating the issue.
    Just wanted to point out the inconsistency.

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

    Jesus, knowing each of us better than we know ourselves, would know just how much of His grace and sacrifice would satisfy the human construct of an equation of infinite wrath that such a betrayer could earn.

  103. Steve says:

    Jean nailed it!

  104. Em says:

    MLD @ 3:31
    The seed (gospel) falls onto a variety of souls, err soils – but the seed on good soil takes root and is permanent… even those little seedlings that sometimes get stepped on by, among others, careless Christians ….

  105. Xenia says:

    Steve. Josh’s link has a major error. The Eastern Orthodox absolutely DO baptize infants, by triple immersion.

  106. JoelG says:

    I always thought Judas giving back the money and confessing to betraying innocent blood was a form of repentance.

  107. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Am, not the saved rocky soil person. The one who hears the good news promise of Jesus, who receives the promise and who continues on for a time ( the ESV says he endures for a while) but then because of life’s issues, actually a return to unbelief he gives up the promises – note they are not taken away.

    But he had it for a time. Jesus is giving a warning in this parable – don’t lose what I gave you.

  108. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Em also it says he fell away. How do you fall away from a faith you never had?

  109. Jean says:

    “I always thought Judas giving back the money and confessing to betraying innocent blood was a form of repentance.”

    Joel,

    Judas was sorry, but self-hate is not repentance. Repentance is contrition + faith. Judas showed remorse, but no faith that his sins were forgiven in Christ. Judas went back to the priests, who gave him a law answer: See to it yourself. The letter kills.

  110. JoelG says:

    Thanks Jean. I can’t imagine the despair he went through.

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

    Jesus chooses to forgive Judas.
    Dare anyone want to tell Him He’s forbidden to do so? What forbids Him?

  112. BrianD says:

    He obviously missed the tape from Calvary Pastor’s Through the Bible series and ignored the book by Reformed Calvniist Pastor-Theologian. 🙂

  113. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jesus forgave Judas of all his sins past, present and future on the cross. Heck, from the cross Jesus forgave Adolf Hitler for his sins – even the sins of killing 6 million Jews, poof! all sins in the world gone forever, even the abortionist in Indiana who had the remains of 2,500 aborted fetuses in his home last month. He has forgiven even the ones who have killed abortion doctors.

    Sin is not the issue. Sin is not what keeps you out of heaven. It is simple rank unbelief of the person which keeps us out. This is the parable of the ten virgins.

    Universal reconciliation seems to have God likened to a North Vietnamese POW camp commendant who with enough time, torture and brainwashing will get even the John Wayne type American GI to confess to war crimes to get out.
    One man’s thoughts on an early Saturday morning.

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

    To clarify,
    “Jesus chooses to forgive Judas.”
    UNCONDITIONALLY
    …without ANY cooperation or agreement on the part of the object of Jesus’ forgiveness.

    I’m going to attempt to clarify further.

    At a real-time, actual party of dregs, whores and lowlifes, Jesus’ friends who are, with Him, eating, drinking and loudly laughing,
    Jesus shooshes the scene and tells 3 rapid fire stories to muttering Pharisees who delight in their convoluted bookkeeping of a human made purity code to decide who does and doesn’t belong…

    Ok, shhhh, and pay attention;
    a woman is rejoicing at having found her lost coin, a shepherd is rejoicing at having found his lost sheep, and a dad is overjoyed at having his wayward boy home!

    The lost coin had no volitional role in it’s lost-ness, the coin’s Owner did all the work, seeking, searching, sweeping away the dirt and filth that hid and obscured the coin’s presence and value.

    The lost sheep had no volitional role in it’s lost-ness, the Shepherd did all the work, seeking, searching, cornering, overpowering, picking up and shouldering the sheep, thereby preventing the sheep’s inability to resist its struggles and futile efforts to escape.

    The Dad never accepted the lies going through his wayward son’s mind, and before that son could utter a word, Dad lavished a gift impossible to earn or ever repay, impossible to be disqualified from, then stood His ground to defend His choice of unconditional acceptance and loudly proclaim it over the din of a party to His hard-hearted child who jealously insisted Dad has no business forgiving his brother who was the greatest possible sinner ever conceived in the history of families.

    Dare a Pharisee still mutter?

  115. Jean says:

    G-Man,

    I, I anticipate MLD, and most of us here would not object to much of your 8:05 am (the use of the word “acceptance” is unwarranted and unsupported). But, it’s not the complete story. It makes a point that Jesus was making there, but it is gospel reductionism, that is, it is a truncated and unscriptural gospel.

    You leave out two matters: (1) the role of faith in salvation. (2) the role of repentance on the part of the sinner.

    MLD and I would not say that the regenerate believe or repent by their free-will, but two things are necessary: (i) A preacher (even Jesus himself during his earthly ministry) must announce the grace of God to a sinner in order for the Holy Spirit to bestow faith, and (ii) the sinner must not despise the grace of God and reject the work of the Holy Spirit in him or her.

    Maybe, if you read more than one chapter of Luke’s Gospel, you could incorporate the whole doctrine of salvation into your theology.

  116. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    G, you will note that Jesus is claiming to save, even the dregs as you call them. However whenever he gathers with the dregs, the whores, tax collectors etc, they are people who first have invited Jesus to wine and dine with him after Jesus has prepared them previously with his words.
    In each conversation Jesus is telling the Jewish leaders why others are being saved. Have you ever noticed that he never turns to the scoffed and says, “don’t get too uppity folks, I’m saving you too!”

  117. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    So what the universalist of any form has done is put God in a box and say “God is not allowed to carry out eternal punishment – my philoshy does not allow for it.”

  118. JoelG says:

    Ultimately I hope you are right, G. But I wouldn’t describe those who disagree as Pharisees. Anyone who rests in and points to Jesus aren’t putting man-made burdens on people, are they?

    I am grateful for my exposure to the Lutheran Church. I find rest in their Christ-centered teaching. At the same time I find Him in the writings of Xenia and Fr Stephen Freeman. Our battle is within our own hearts. I also find Him in the writings of Josh, Em, Paige and other Evangelicals here. I think I most identify with Michael and Duane. I see His fruit in all tribes within Christiandom.

    I going to an Evangelical church because it fits my chaotic family situation. It may not check off all my theological views, but it’s a place to hear His Word and receive His Gifts. Ultimately this Christianity thing is a relationship with our Maker.

    I’m

  119. JoelG says:

    …. out 😉

  120. MM says:

    How do you decide?

    The title of this thread.

    “According to the Churchless data, in the 1990s, 30% of the American population was unchurched. Today, two decades later, that percentage has risen to more than four in 10 Americans (43%).*”

    How Millennials choose?

    “We asked Millennials to select an aspirational image for what church should be in the world and found that, by and large, young adults respect the potential of organized religion. Almost half chose the image of a small-group Bible study (48%), which combines the social and intellectual aspects of Christianity. Most of the rest chose the image of a growing flower (33%), which implies a possibility for personal growth and for cultivating beauty (and . . . nature again!). The other two images—the hospital and the health club—were much less popular (12% and 7%, respectively).*”

    *https://www.barna.com/research/george-barna-david-kinnaman-on-the-rise-of-the-churchless/
    https://www.barna.com/research/what-millennials-want-when-they-visit-church/

    Somehow the topic switched to universalism and do aborted babies get to heaven?

    My personal opinion is this, God is all merciful and completely just and I have faith in that image of Him. He will save whom he desires.

    But, yes I do have personal difficulties with this idea. An aborted baby (or any baby for that matter) would be rejected, while a murderous, and evil man who was responsible for the deaths of millions would be accepted because of a death bed confession, baptism and reception of the Eucharist.

    Yes that is a personal problem/opinion and not meant to teach as doctrine. The good news is my opinion isn’t even a drop of water in the ocean of God’s mercy and love for His creation.

    Please note, I am not a “Universalist,” but believe the scriptures make it clear the people who are “saved” are those who love God. And salvation is not measured by ones ability to live “right” or to do some sort of ritual process to join the club.

    However, the way one lives is a reflection of their love for God.

  121. Michael says:

    “So what the universalist of any form has done is put God in a box and say “God is not allowed to carry out eternal punishment – my philoshy does not allow for it.””

    I’m so tired of this crap.
    Exhausted.
    Might just start deleting it.

    What I have read from most (excepting Hart who calls the doctrine of eternal torment “imbecilic” from a philosophical basis) are people wrestling with the philosophical and biblical aspects of hell, just like theologians do with every single other doctrine in the church.

    I profit from interaction with those wrestlers, whether they embrace the traditional view, annihilationism, or some form of universalism.
    Wrestling with doctrines shows an understanding and admission of the biblical and philosophical dissonance that exists…denying that dissonance is not good theology, it’s simply a grasp for certainty and demanding that everyone reassure you or be damned.

    G might be wrong in his methodology and conclusions…but he’s wrong for the right reasons.
    He’s settled his whole faith on the love and goodness of God in Jesus Christ.
    He can’t go too far wrong doing so.

  122. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    My comment was the flip side to G’s roughly, are you saying God cannot save everyone? I just ask, are you saying God can’t carryout eternal punishment?

  123. Jean says:

    All Christians begin with the premise that God is good. Since God is good, His justice must also be good. What frustrates many Christians is that much of God’s justice is incomprehensible and undisclosed to human beings. Therefore, some things in the Bible and events in the world appear to us as incompatible with what we expect from a good and just God. As a result, many Christians look for solutions that uphold God as both just and good.

    Universalism is one such solution that addresses three issues in particular: (1) Is it just for someone without the Gospel who is guilty of only small outward sins is damned, while a different person guilty of heinous and voluminous sins hears and believes the Gospel later in life and is pardoned of all his/her sins and saved? (2) Is it just for someone who has never heard of Jesus to be damned for not believing in Him? and (3) Is eternal damnation just?

    Almost 500 years ago, the Catholic theologian, Greek scholar, and gifted rhetorician, Desiderius Erasmus, objected to Luther’s “bondage of the will” in a similar vein. He asked:
    Is it just for God to condemn man for failing to keep the law that He himself commands, if He creates man with a bound will? Similarly, if man sins by necessity, then is God responsible for evil in the world, since God creates man with the infirmity of a bound will? For Erasmus, the solution to protect God’s good reputation was to grant man a “free will.”

    So, the quest for a good and just God is not a new one, though Christians from time to time look for different solutions that uphold God’s reputation. In my next comment, I will give Luther’s response to Erasmus, which might benefit all of us even today.

  124. Jean says:

    This is a follow up comment to my comment left at 1:57 pm.

    “You may be worried that it is hard to defend the mercy and equity of God in damning the undeserving, that is, ungodly persons, who, being born in ungodliness, can by no means avoid being ungodly, and staying so, and being damned, but are compelled by natural necessity to sin and perish; as Paul says: ‘We were all children of wrath, even as others’ (Eph. 2:3), created such by God Himself from a seed that had been corrupted by the sin of the one man, Adam.

    “But here God must be reverenced and held in awe, as being most merciful to those whom he justifies and saves in their own utter unworthiness; and we must show some measure of deference to His Divine wisdom by believing Him just when to us He seems unjust. If His justice were such as could be adjudged just by human reckoning, it clearly would not be Divine; it would in no way differ from human justice. But inasmuch as He is the one true God, wholly incomprehensible and inaccessible to man’s understanding, it is reasonable, indeed inevitable, that His justice also should be incomprehensible; as Paul cries, saying: ‘O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!’…

    “God governs the external affairs of the world in such a way that, if you regard and follow the judgment of human reason, you are forced to say, either that there is no God, or that God is unjust; as the poet said: ‘I am often tempted to think there are no gods.’ See the great prosperity of the wicked, and by contrast the great adversity of the good. Proverbs, and experience, the parent of proverbs, bear record that the more abandoned men are, the more successful they are. ‘The tabernacle of robbers prosper,’ says Job, and [Psalm Seventy-Two] complains that sinners in the world are full of riches….

    “Hereupon some of the greatest minds have fallen into denying the existence of God, and imagining that Chance governs all things at random….
    “Yet all this, which looks so much like injustice in God, and is traduced as such by arguments which no reason or light of nature can resist, is most easily cleared up by the light of the gospel and the knowledge of grace, which teaches us that though the wicked flourish in their bodies, yet they perish in their souls. And a summary explanation of this whole inexplicable problem is found in a single little word: There is a life after this life; and all that is not punished and repaid here will be punished and repaid there; for this life is nothing more than a precursor, or, rather, a beginning, of life that is to come.”

    Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will, transl. Packer & Johnston, pp. 314-36

  125. Josh says:

    “G might be wrong in his methodology and conclusions…but he’s wrong for the right reasons.”

    Or …just maybe…because he tossed 62 of the 66 books of the bible.

  126. Michael says:

    Can you receive the Gospel in the 4 Gospels?
    I think so.
    We all understand that according to most traditions, Gman is on the fringe of orthodoxy.
    I still consider him family.

    I think we’re all coming to grips with the fact that we all attend different churches for good reasons.
    The question before the house is whether we can continue to co-exist as brethren as those differences become more visible…

  127. Josh says:

    G has a religion, but we can’t honestly call it a biblical faith. Is he going to heaven? Not my job.
    Will I accept any sort of teaching from him? Come on, man.

  128. Michael says:

    Josh,

    You’re not being asked to receive any teaching from him.
    He is simply expressing his faith.
    I don’t agree with G on a lot..but I don’t agree with you, or the Lutherans, or anyone else on everything.

    The stark reality that no one wants to own is that everyone thinks their faith is “biblical”. The further reality is that it’s actually differing opinions on biblical interpretation that gets debated.

    Which brings me back to the original question of how one decides which opinion is more valid…

  129. Josh says:

    “Which brings me back to the original question of how one decides which opinion is more valid…”

    If you say “I discard the vast majority of the bible”, I can dismiss that pretty quick.

    The others usually explain why they came to their biblical conclusions. Those are people I no longer want to argue with on here.

  130. Michael says:

    Josh,

    What is the root of your discomfiture?
    It’s really obvious that you’re really unhappy with this site.

  131. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    It depends on what you mean by co exist. I have said before that we could all play together in a city run softball league under the umbrella of a church league and I would not question anyone’s authenticity when they claim to be Christian. That is good fellowship and coexistence.

    Now, when it comes to calling the brethren to the communion rail, well that takes a different qualification.

  132. Josh says:

    I recognized how silly I’ve been here for along time. I’ve argued non-stop over minutia while many were literally losing there faith all along.

    You say we are writing for the lurkers. Anyone reading my stuff here for the last 11 years thinks that my biggest issue is with MLD and his theology. Because we have argued for sport. My differences with MLD are miniscule. If I contribute here, I actually want to talk about things that matter.

  133. Jean says:

    Josh,

    “What is the root of your discomfiture?”

    Would I be close in guessing that you would like to see affirmation given to those here who believe in objective truth, that objective truth is available in God’s Word, and that the quest for objective truth is a worthy endeavor.

  134. Michael says:

    Josh,

    What matters to you?
    What do you think matters to the lurkers?
    I’ve read their emails and answered their calls for 18 years here…I have a good idea of a lot of it.

  135. Josh says:

    Jean – The affirmation is not expected. The rest is correct.

  136. Josh says:

    I have no clue what matters to them. I know that way to many who were involved have left the faith while I’ve played rhetorical chess with MLD.

  137. Michael says:

    Jean,

    Objective truth cannot be questioned.
    There is some of that in the Bible.
    However, we have huge disputes about much of what we hold as objective truth in different sects beyond the very basic articles of faith.

  138. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I only know of two people who have been regulars that left the faith.
    They didn’t leave over anything that happened here.

  139. Josh says:

    I could name at least 12 that no longer hold anything close to historic Christian faith.

    That said, two is way too many.

  140. Michael says:

    The only two I know of are Reuben and Phil…and neither one left because of anything here, nor could we have done anything to change those choices.

  141. Jim says:

    While I’m confident in Michael’s numbers (although I don’t believe one can leave the faith in a manner that equals loss of salvation), it seems that Josh is going through a public repentance or perhaps a reevaluation. I don’t see why that’s a problem, as he’s only talking about himself. I’m glad that he’s comfortable doing so, and I think that others would support it.

  142. Josh says:

    Keep in mind, each of those 12 I argued with viciously about silly stuff. Their faith was hanging in the balance, and I worked really hard to prove that I was right and they were wrong about something that doesn’t matter.

    I include Reuben and Phil in that 12 and take some responsibility for their leaving.

  143. Michael says:

    Josh,
    I don’t mean to argue with you…and I have no idea who the other ten apostates are.
    I can assure you (they are both real friends) that neither you nor anyone else here had anything to do with those twos choices whatsoever.

  144. JoelG says:

    Being in a family with theological and political differences and maintaining loving relationships is extremely difficult. My therapist told me I need to learn to empathize with those I disagree with.

    Sigh…

  145. Michael says:

    JoelG,

    It can be really hard depending on how great the fissure…

  146. Michael says:

    I will say this…because it’s been on my mind for a long time and a topic in my inner circle.

    This used to be a safe place to express doubts and the cognitive dissonance that is inherent in the faith.
    I used to open a vein and bleed here with my own issues believing that it would help others as well.

    It is no longer safe for people with questions or issues…they just become targets of the holy sure and the heresy hunters.

    That is my biggest failure here.

  147. JoelG says:

    I think you and Josh and all the regular commenters here have done a great job maintaining a relationship despite differences. It can get heated, but I think it’s been a benefit to the readers. It makes us think. Thank you to each and everyone person here. 👍🏻

  148. Michael says:

    When I talk to people who are on the edge of or are leaving the faith these things are most often mentioned.

    1. The lack of accountability in the church with abusive leaders.
    2. The lack of love unless you walk like a clone.
    3. The lack of experiential faith…unanswered prayer and a lack of a sense of God’s presence and providence.
    4. The lack of room for people with doubts or disagreements.
    5. Those who would write off all of the above as simply “god-haters”.

  149. Michael says:

    JoelG,

    Back in the day, this place was a wonder…so many different people from different sects and stations in life.
    Now, I’m starting to wonder what to do next.
    We’ve hit rough spots before too…

  150. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I try to be very careful not to put pressure on those who are hurting or doubting. I do engage with those who are strong and at variance.
    I respect the prayer thread and the TGIF thread – I never comment as they are more of a touchy feelie kind of place and I resigned myself years ago that just my presence there could create hostility.
    When a big blow up thread comes around like the Potter’s Field stuff – not a peep from me because that is where the lurkers and visitors come in and I don’t know their hurts or temperment.

    But for the regulars, I join in for open and robust discussion and I do not mind saying that half the time I am arguing against hidden theological agendas and theological motives for some of their strange theologies.

  151. Michael says:

    “But for the regulars, I join in for open and robust discussion and I do not mind saying that half the time I am arguing against hidden theological agendas and theological motives for some of their strange theologies.”

    Conspiracy theories!
    To what end are these malevolent discussions taking place, Q?

  152. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – you really need to reconsider your continual use of the term sect
    Dictionary definition has it’s first use as a negative.

    Definition of sect – (Entry 1 of 2)
    1a : a dissenting or schismatic religious body especially : one regarded as extreme or heretical

  153. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Conspiracy theories!
    now there is an open and generous reply.

  154. Michael says:

    Definition of sect (Entry 1 of 2)
    1a : a dissenting or schismatic religious body
    especially : one regarded as extreme or heretical
    b : a religious denomination
    2 archaic : SEX sense 1
    so is all her sect
    — William Shakespeare
    3a : a group adhering to a distinctive doctrine or to a leader
    b : PARTY
    c : FACTION

    I always use it as 2 or 3.
    If I use the word denomination, the non denoms feel left out…

  155. Michael says:

    “Conspiracy theories!
    now there is an open and generous reply.”

    Just how should one respond to charges of hidden agendas and motives?
    I’m asking what those agendas and motives are.

  156. Jean says:

    “It is no longer safe for people with questions or issues…they just become targets of the holy sure and the heresy hunters.”

    “The holy sure” “Heresy hunters.” LOL!

    When did settled faith become such a detriment here or anywhere. You can’t help but put people who aren’t doubters down. Why?

    If someone expresses a question, don’t they merit an answer?

  157. Michael says:

    Jean,

    My irritation (putting it mildly) is toward those who appear to think that everyone should be as settled as they are, in the same way they are.

    I’ve been a pastor for 30 years and engaged thousands of Christians here…and for most, it doesn’t work that way.

    You have found your answers.
    They may not be someone elses answers.

    I’m glad you have found your home…but it’s not my home…and I deal with mostly spiritually homeless people.

  158. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “I’m asking what those agendas and motives are.”

    I spoke to it a couple of months ago – people who do not baptize babies because they have a weak or non existent doctrine of original sin – but they won’t admit it. So I argue to get at the core.

    The reformed who end up with a weakened Christology in their defense of no physical presence in the supper – because their Christology does not allow for Jesus to be in more than one place at a time.
    The list could go on – I am sure you could try that on me also and it would be fair game.

  159. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jesus gave definite ‘settled’ answers.

  160. Michael says:

    MLD,

    I don’t call those hidden agendas or motives.
    I call them sincere theological differences…and in both cases there’s excellent scholarship on both sides.
    In most of these intramural brawls there is excellent scholarship to defend the differences…it comes down to a subjective choice as to which you believe.

  161. Michael says:

    “Jesus gave definite ‘settled’ answers.”

    Which is why we have 33,000 Protestant groups plus the RCC, Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans…

  162. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Most denominational differences are cultural, language and locations. Most denominations agree on 90% plus items of doctrine and theology.
    Back in the day the Methodist split. The Methodists changed for the pews and another group thought it was wrong – hence the establishment of the Free Methodist ‘sect’.

    We have denominational difference because of human sin – NOT because Jesus was not clear and gave wavering answers – get that part straight.

  163. Michael says:

    “We have denominational difference because of human sin – NOT because Jesus was not clear and gave wavering answers – get that part straight.”

    So which one of us is in sin?

  164. Josh says:

    This.

    I don’t think this is helpful.

    I love the people I’ve met, but I’m ashamed of the damage I’ve done.

  165. Michael says:

    Josh,

    What do you think would be helpful?
    I posted the main concerns I deal with…

  166. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I am constantly in sin – in thought, word and deed. In fact I will begin the divine liturgy tomorrow with that confession.

  167. Xenia says:

    My irritation (putting it mildly) is toward those who appear to think that everyone should be as settled as they are, in the same way they are.<<<

    Yes, it is true. I wish everyone was a content Orthodox Christian, just as I am.

  168. Josh says:

    I don’t know. I’ve just talked on here for so freaking long, that I feel like I ought to say…something.

    I feel like I’m nurturing people out of the faith, and I can’t do that. I also can’t turn to something like universalism to make me feel better about it. Hey, maybe they are saved after all! Nope. Can’t go there either.

    But yeah, I’ll argue infant baptism with MLD for the 4,346th time. Why not.

  169. Jim says:

    Michael, times like these are good for the blog.

    Josh, repentance and reflection are very good things, but you’re being too hard on yourself. This might come off as rude, but I think that it might be a bit prideful to give one’s own words too much weight.

  170. Josh says:

    Not rude. You are probably right. A lot going on that is causing me to be too introspective. I apologize to all.

    I’ll be back to my annoying self again soon, I’m sure.

  171. Josh,

    I get what you are saying. However, even if what you or anybody wrangles out here isn’t inspired as the writers of the books of the Bible were, would it be correct to impugn them and their writings for the 33,000 protestant sects, the RCC, the EO and the Lutherans, not to mention the others?

    To answer the question Michael tried to redirect:

    My mom grew up Dutch Reformed in Holland, MI. She moved to work as a nurse in San Francisco in the late 60s. Though born in 1942, she orbited the hippie lifestyle. Engaged to a SFO hedonist (I met him when I was 12 and he waa in bed with his teen son with two women, clothed since they knew we were coming as my mom called, but I saw it). He forced/encouraged her to get an abortion. She worked in an abortion clinic and baptized still-moving remains. She was attracted to the Jesus People. My mom was never into drugs or drinking. She was very anti-that especially telling me my birth mother basically killed herself by drugs and alcohol, in the early stereotypically Native American fashion, she was born on The Red.

    She moved to Sacramento and adopted me. We attended Warehouse Ministries which later affiliated with CC though it wasn’t originally CC.

    In 3rd grade, we started attending a Lutheran church which one of my mom’s nurse friends attended. We became official members so my mom could get a tuition discount to their school and I was enrolled the second half of 4th grade. I has problems in the public school system. Though I thought it sounded shady and possibly insincere, I was there until the end of 6th grade. On occasion, we would attend WM. My babysitters late teen daughter attended it. I went to CC summer camp the end of 6th grade and it was a good experience.

    When we moved to the mountains, I attended a tiny Lutheran church and started confirmation, but never finished. I don’t remember why. My mother had several mental illnesses. For a long time, I wished to forget everything before my 18th birthday on which day I moved out, never to spend another night in the house I had only lived in for part of my 17th year as a senior in high school. Previously, we had basically been homeless from 12-17. Then came a long period of being in the wilderness, unchurched,by my choice.

    When I returned to Cali from Oregon in 2000, I was still unchurched. Apathy, rebeliousness, Social Anxiety, maybe all of those. I did try CC Fremont, whose pastor has posted here. The fact that they had a prison outreach attracted me though I’ve never been to jail or prison. That they would reach out to those who needed salvation and help was a good thing. I attended one service, then ran home. Social Anxiety? Maybe. Fast forward…

    I lost faith in what from my point-of-view were unanswered prayers and chose to start a family with the mother of our kids, a woman who “hated!” Marriage due to her parents’ abusive and dysfunctional one. Fast forward almost 6 years…

    All but over, the chickens of my sin came home to roost, with then S3 and D1, innocent. I will have to explain this to them someday… i had decided to go back to church and the morning I was taking our son, I found evidence of her cheating. I had decided to go back to a CC so I had chosen one of the main ones, but not the closest. It was familiar from my past. That morning waa one of the hardest of my life… Fast forward to the present.

    I’m still there, but on the verge of leaving. The whole PFM debacle is one of the drivers. I’ve also considered going back to the LCMS (thanks Jean and MLD), or maybe a Baptist denom (thanks Josh). Anglicans sound interesting (thanks Duane and Michael), and EO intriguing (thanks Xenia).

    When now D7 says she wants to get baptized (in my opinion, to participate), her brother says, “we were already baptized!” In the RCC. That comes from me, from The liturgical Christians here.

    So as a kind of lurker, who maybe should lurk more, thank you to all. This is my story on how i choose. Maybe it’s pathetic that at 48 (the end of the month), I’m still choosing, yet I realize that my choice is not just about me, but also about my lambs, and to some extent, their mother as well.

  172. Michael says:

    Victor,

    Thank you for that.
    Part of my decision to join the Anglican church was for my godson.
    He could get wiped out easily in an evangelical church…the liturgy will protect him from the worst after I’m gone.

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

    I find it interesting that there’s a theology that really hopes that Judas is unforgiven by Jesus, and that hopes A Dad, Who, after the story is told, holds to the idea that He could still kill His son because His justice which is greater than Him is demanding He do so.

    With that, I’m joining others, being busy with things we’re doing before we go to hell…
    https://johnpavlovitz.com/2016/05/10/things-im-doing-before-going-to-hell/

  174. JoelG says:

    “There is a tradition in the early church, however, that his suicide was based not on despair but on hope. If God was just, then he knew there was no question where he would be heading as soon as he’d breathed his last. Furthermore, if God was also merciful, he knew there was no question either that in a last-ditch effort to save the souls of the damned as God’s son, Jesus would be down theretoo. Thus the way Judas figured it, hell might be the last chance he’d have of making it to heaven, so to get there as soon as possible, he tied the rope around his neck and kicked away the stool. Who knows?

    In any case, it’s a scene to conjure with. Once again they met in the shadows, the two old friends, both of them a little worse for wear after all that had happened, only this time it was Jesus who was the one to give the kiss, and this time it wasn’t the kiss of death that was given.“

    – Buechner

  175. Jean says:

    Human beings are by nature “religious.” There are and always have been lots of religions. There are many, many religious belief systems. In America, you have freedom to believe whatever you want regarding God.

    The Christian religion has a sacred text called the Bible. In the Bible, mankind is presented with objective truth and reality from God’s perspective, regarding God and man. It claims to provide Spirit and truth, regarding what Christians believe about God, their relationship with God, and how they are to live in the world and in relation to their neighbors.

    If someone calls himself a Christian, but divorces (explicitly or implicitly) his religion from the Christian sacred text, he practices faux Christianity. (Christianity and the Bible go together indivisibly.) He opens himself up to the imagination of his own heart and to gurus who can say whatever they want and persuade on the basis of human reason and emotion. Such a person who unmoors himself to the Bible has NO anchor, in which to settle His conscience that he knows and has peace with God in the forgiveness of his sins, because he has despised the ONLY sacred text that reveals the Christian God, and relegated it to a document, which at best includes only some objective truth.

    Once you give up on the Bible as the rule and norm for theology, or decide that it includes only some objective truth, you inevitably reach the question: How does one know what the true bits are and what the false bits are? Is it the bits that agree with my sense of justice or morality? What other test might you apply to the Bible in determining which part is from God and which part isn’t?

  176. Michael says:

    Jean,
    That was beyond offensive.
    When I have the time I will respond.
    This…is going to get ugly.

  177. Michael says:

    JoelG,

    Love Buchner and that work…

  178. Michael says:

    I simply won’t tolerate people with different views of Scripture being accused of “faux Christianity”.
    My faith is in Christ and despite all the different expressions of the Christian faith here, I believe that everyone here is also in Christ.
    If that is beyond your ability to handle, save me the trouble and ban yourself now.

  179. JoelG says:

    I hope you don’t get too angry Michael. I fully expected a response of correction. One of the upsides if being on the fringes is the freedom to use ones imagination and hope despite evidence to the contrary.

    Peace to all.

  180. Michael says:

    JoelG,

    That was well said!
    I lost my mind for a second, but we’ll move on…

  181. Jean says:

    So, yesterday at 8:05 am, G-Man said, “Dare a Pharisee still mutter?”, implying that Christians who disagree with him on Judas are Pharisees. Then, this morning, he says: “I find it interesting that there’s a theology that really hopes that Judas is unforgiven….”

    So, on the one hand he implies that I and/or MLD are Pharisees, and on the other hand slanders us, who never said we hope Judas is unforgiven. Why are traditional and catholic theological viewpoints continually mocked or insulted here, without any indignation from our host? Just curious?

  182. bob1 says:

    Yes, ban yourself now. Save Michael the hassle.

    LOLROTF

  183. Michael says:

    “Why are traditional and catholic theological viewpoints continually mocked or insulted here, without any indignation from our host? Just curious?”

    They aren’t.
    You don’t get anymore traditional than Xenia and Josh.
    What I’ve finally had enough of is your inability to discuss any issue without a lecture on Lutheran dogmatics.
    The host is not a Lutheran and is known for ecumenicism…not calling other believers faux Christians.
    I’m here to learn from other traditions, not instruct them on their “errors”.

    As far as being called a Pharisee, if the shoe fits, wear it… and trot on out of here.

  184. Michael says:

    The arguments about Biblical authority are pointless.
    Every person here who holds to some sort of inerrancy disagrees with persons from other traditions who do like wise…to the point of anathemas.
    The issue is interpretation, not authority.

    We all use a combination of Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience to form our doctrines beyond the creeds.

  185. Jim says:

    “The issue is interpretation, not authority.” Sad that this needs to be said as it’s so obvious.

  186. Michael says:

    “Sad that this needs to be said as it’s so obvious.”
    I’ve passed from sad to really annoyed after saying it a few hundred times…

  187. Em says:

    listened to the late Aron Rogers again this morning… he observed that any preacher/teacher preaching on hell should do so with sorrow… the fact that Judas was blinded (IMV) by his own ambitions to who it was that he was trying to manipulate (IMV) does not make me gloat in his most probable consignment to hell

    Matt 26:25…
    “When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve.
    “And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
    “And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?”
    “He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me.
    “The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”
    “Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.” ESV

  188. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    I consider myself to be fairly traditional (especially in terms of Liturgy). I also think that I have a fairly catholic theological viewpoint. Yet, I have gone round and round with you (not as much lately) and MLD. The reason seems to be that I am not a confessional Lutheran. I know the doctrine. I am very familiar with the confessions and have been instructed in them by some of the leading lights of confessional Lutheranism. I simply do not subscribe to all that is contained in those confessions. There is a difference between us. Yet, I would never dream of categorizing either you or MLD as anything but brothers in Christ…
    I really think it is that simple.

  189. Michael says:

    “I really think it is that simple.”
    It really is…

  190. Jean says:

    Duane,

    You know as well as anyone here, that the views I have expressed here concerning both hell and Judas have nothing whatsoever to do with Lutheranism, and are shared by the vast majority of Christians worldwide and throughout time.Em shared one of the authoritative Scriptures on the matters. Bringing up Lutheran, holy sures, wooden, sects, heresy hunters, Pharisees, are all designed to marginalize traditional, orthodox Christianity.

  191. Michael says:

    Jean,

    “Bringing up Lutheran, holy sures, wooden, sects, heresy hunters, Pharisees, are all designed to marginalize traditional, orthodox Christianity.”

    Nope.

    Some of us like to consider other voices, like Buechners.

    You don’t.
    Start your own blog, then.

  192. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    The Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man are big in Freemasonry and Urantia but foreign to Christianity.
    Disclaimer – NOT a Lutheran thought – just an observation. 🙂 – but it is my objection to a couple of statements and defenses here.

  193. Michael says:

    So tell us before you leave, MLD…who is outside the faith here and on what basis?

  194. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael it is odd how you push things where you want to go. I was careful not to identify anyone and I did not say anyone was outside the faith – right?
    What I am saying is that anyone who holds that position is wrong. Do you disagree?

  195. Michael says:

    MLD,
    You wouldn’t have said it unless you thought it applied here. I believe all people bear the image of God, that Christ took on all humanity in the Incarnation, and died for the sins of the whole world. Do what you want with that…

  196. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    But the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the first person of the Trinity may be the creator of all but is not the Father of all.

  197. Michael says:

    And? Some are outside Christ. Some will end up in hell. Is that the end of the story.? Maybe…maybe not. Do I want or need a rebuttal to the possibility that God may eventually reconcile them? Nope. Do I expect you to believe it. Nope. Do I care? Nope.

  198. Xenia says:

    Some of us like to consider other voices<<<

    And some of us are happy with what we believe is traditional Christianity yet we feel our views are increasingly unwelcome. We feel our beliefs are being ridiculed.

    I do not like being called a Pharisee for believing the traditional teachings of the Scriptures. I may indeed be a Pharisee, but not for that reason.

    I've about had it here.

  199. Michael says:

    Xenia,
    No one has ridiculed you, nor would they.
    I have not ridiculed your views, nor would I.
    What I am done with is the attitude that those who have different views are somehow lost, and all things have to be measured against one groups confession.
    All this hostility started because I said I was reading a book…and I was expected to defend arguments I wasn’t even making.
    I don’t subscribe to a confession, nor a magisterium. I have no problems with those who do as long as we’re free to discuss things that don’t fit in those places without condemning those thinking stuff through.

  200. Jean says:

    No one that holds a traditional, orthodox view of Christianity here has to my knowledge accused anyone else here of being lost, nor have they condemned anyone.

  201. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – again you mispresent some of us to suit you purposes.
    Who here has been declared ‘lost’? No one – not a single person has been declared lost, unsaved or any such term.
    Do we say some views held by some are wrong – yes we do but we do not judge beyond that.
    You accused me of that as recently as your 2:01 post.

  202. Michael says:

    Jean,
    I’m done with this.
    There have been endless insults and insinuations on both sides…you made an accusation this morning that “some” here were “faux” Christians.
    Those who hold to “traditional, orthodox” Christianity here have major differences in how they define both “traditional “and “orthodox”.

  203. Jim says:

    I’m down for a guns, gays, and govt conversation

  204. JIM says:

    JUST KIDDING!

  205. Jean says:

    Nope. Here is what I said: “If someone calls himself a Christian, but divorces (explicitly or implicitly) his religion from the Christian sacred text, he practices faux Christianity. (Christianity and the Bible go together indivisibly.)” – There are aspects of my wife’s Catholicism that are faux, yet, she is baptized and believes in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, so despite what I consider false teaching in the Catholic Church, I do not doubt her salvation.

    Why not stop your insults? At 2:58 pm is the first time, you even admit to insulting me. I try very hard to deal with the issues at hand on the basis of Scripture, and you don’t hear me referring to Anglicanism, your “sect” or any such thing. However, I am far from perfect, and am not immune to sin or needing to repent. So, for my part, I ask for your and your readers’ forgiveness for any arrogance or rudeness on my part.

  206. Xenia says:

    Yet I agree with Jean’s post at 9:56, to which your response was “This is going to get ugly.”

    You didn’t know I agreed w/ Jean because your angry response pretty much stopped me in my tracks. I am not up for a brawl.

    Often, for the sake of keeping the peace, I don’t say everything I think, giving the impression that I am milder in my views than I actually am. There’s a reason for this. Years ago I asked permission from my former priest (may his memory be eternal) about participating on this blog. He said yes, explain things but don’t argue. I have done considerable arguing over the years but I have, for the most part, tried to agree where I can. This blog has become so polarized….

  207. Michael says:

    MLD,
    I would assume that someone practicing faux Christianity is void of the real thing.
    If this were an honest conversation everyone here would admit that they think everyone outside their group is wrong.
    The objective here for me is to examine lots of different Christian thought…people can decide what fits and what doesn’t.
    I trust God will take care of his own.

  208. Michael says:

    Thanks, Jim! 😀

  209. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, is it not even remotely possible in your world to understand that some of us can consider parts of a person’s theology to be wrong without even considering for a moment that they are not a Christian?

    That said, some teachings left unchecked can be and are dangerous to the faith of others.

  210. Michael says:

    I’m done for the day. My frustration here just boiled over into real life and that’s grave sin in my book.

  211. Em says:

    Michael @ 3:23
    You kicked a cat? 🙂 Oh no! ! !

  212. Michael says:

    That will never happen.
    Unfortunately, I treat cats better than people at times.

  213. Dave says:

    Josh & Michael

    I could be mistaken on this point, but I sincerely believe the Lord would have us avoid two extremes, regarding retrospective analysis of our words to another, and the heart condition that inspired as much.

    Irresponsible flippancy is an easy one for all of us to identify, …its the counter point that seems harder for me to ascertain. I struggle attempting to get the balance ‘right’ between heartfelt, contritition over an inconsistent display of adoration of my Lord, and a string of associated failures in being a ‘new creation’.

    While contemplating running home toward my Father’s house, yearning to confess my offenses and plead for reconciliation, …a familiar, detouring fork in the road emerges, pointing elsewhere …and beckons me down a dark path of self-condemnation and unworthiness.

    That all-too-familiar path is fraught with demands for ‘works of penance’ to kick-start or generate within me, …sufficient acts of righteousness, to permit presenting myself before the mercy seat. Conflating ‘genuine’ mourning over my sin, with ascetic rigors of self denial of comfort or refuge. Prolonging the estrangement from my Savior: “Go away from me Lord, …for I am a sinful man!”

    I think the individual relationship God has with each of his children applies very much here: The progressive revelation (‘degree of light’) of himself to us, and in us, as we move along the path towards our Heavenly home is what matters.

    Paul suffered ‘flash burns’ on his eyes from the intense proximity to the holiness of Christ, and repeatedly had the affection for worldly carnality, …literally thrashed and beaten out of him. In gloriously befitting irony that frustrates human wisdom, a man blinded for 3 days, would later perceive (and profoundly grieve) in his soul, the remaining fragments of residual sin, still existing within.

    God knows we are just flesh, and we are responsible for the amount of ‘light’ inside of us …at various times throughout the journey.

    Josh, you have in good conscience, faithfully been a witness to the light here for many years, and it’s inexplicably awesome that God allows each of us to participate in this ministry of reconciliation, within and without the body. For some reason, Dad decided that all His kids would get their turns at sowing, watering and reaping His harvest.

    Michael, it may one day be revealed that this online community, better facilitated desperately needed transparency and attributes of ‘the church’ God intended, better than many 501c3 entrepreneurships.

  214. Steve says:

    ….. not a single person has been declared lost, unsaved or any such term.
    _________________________________________________________________

    MLD, I was away for the weekend and trying to get caught up on some comments. I think I was the one that hinted at the fact that Judas was lost. I still believe that. I realize now their are other theologies that give hope to Judas. On what grounds, I’m not sure. At this point, I’m convinced really smart people can come up with a theology that says anything they want and be convincing. So for at least me personally, I think this is foolish scholarship to study this since it does seem completely divorced from scripture. I could be wrong but I’m just a layman and really don’t have time to study all the latest fads. I’m having a hard enough time just meditating on psalm 23. I appreciate everyone comments here but I’m going to try to start listening to the Lord my shepherd more closely. Not sure how much my participation can remain on this blog. Wish everyone well.

  215. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Steve, the Judas thing is insane, but we are in the age of all thought can just flow with equal validity.
    I was reading the other day a guy making the case that Judas will get a front row seat in heaven because he was faithful carrying out God’s will.
    For those who think Judas will make it to heaven, even if it is on a 9th or 10th ballot, ignore the fact that Jesus made the confession that he lost Judas.
    Philosophy reigns in the halls of theology.

  216. Michael says:

    Philosophy has undergirded theology from the beginning…

  217. JoelG says:

    Steve,

    I hope you don’t go. I’m sorry if the Buechner quote caused any harm to your faith. I certainly don’t consider it to be doctrine. Only something to ponder and hope for (for me) even if it’s wrong.

  218. Michael says:

    JoelG,

    Please don’t be sorry.
    It was a beautiful piece of sanctified imagination.
    Buechner has been a light to me in some dark times.

  219. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, I chose my words very carefully. Philosophy undergirding theology has always been it’s natural position. What we have seen in the 21st century is a megashift in some circles where philosophy now reigns over theology – with emotions a close second.

  220. JoelG says:

    That’s great to hear Michael. Me too. I’m reading and rereading him on a regular basis. “Telling Secrets” is full of treasures. “Secrets in the Dark” is my favorite book, next to “Mere Christianity”.

    I just don’t want to stumble a beloved brother or sister in Christ

  221. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    “About ten years ago I gave a set of lectures at Harvard in which I made the observation that all theology, like all fiction, is at its heart autobiography, and that what a theologian is doing essentially is examining as honestly as he can the rough-and-tumble of his own experience with all its ups and downs, its mysteries and loose ends, and expressing in logical, abstract terms the truths about human life and about God that he believes he has found implicit there…”
    Frederick Buechner

    Sounds like someone I know…

  222. Michael says:

    Duane,

    This is getting spooky…I’m trying to write an article around that quote as we speak…

  223. Jean says:

    Joel,

    As you consider various voices, I would hold up for your contemplation Jesus’ Good Shepherd discourse in John Chapter 6. In that discourse the topic of “voices” is at the center.

    I don’t agree with the thought of theology being related to autobiography. That implies that I make God in my own image. I think theology should be in the service of proclamation of the Gospel (as provided in the Bible), which renews us and conforms us to the image of Jesus Christ. He is our life. We are baptized into Christ.

    The biography that makes all the difference for mankind is the biography of Jesus Christ, who was born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. On the third day he rose again, ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. His biography is the source of your life, so that you and everyone here may have life and have it abundantly.

  224. Steve says:

    JoelG,

    You didn’t do any harm to my faith. The way I look at it is now I know who Frederick Buechner is. This may sound closed minded but I have no intention of ever reading him and you have saved me some very precious time instead of figuring this out on my own. There is no way I can become an expert on all the empty philosophies.

  225. JoelG says:

    Jean,

    Thank you. I ultimately agree with you and confess the Creeds with you along with everyone here.

    At the same time, it has been a help to see how others with similar personalities and struggles (doubt / anxiety among other things) who share their stories via books and blogs wrestle with life and faith. I see it in the same way we look to Saints in Church history and how they lived out their faith.

    Steve, I’m glad your faith wasn’t affected by the quote or anything else here. I appreciate your writing here.

  226. Michael says:

    Jean,

    I don’t think anyone who comments here needs a primer on the Gospel…and the church has historically looked to the biographies of the saints for wisdom and comfort.
    My guess is that you would have affirmed a quote from Luther…

  227. Josh says:

    “I don’t think anyone who comments here needs a primer on the Gospel”

    I do.

  228. Michael says:

    Josh,

    Why?
    To my knowledge almost everyone here holds to the teaching of the creeds and “believes on the Lord Jesus Christ”.
    What more is necessary?

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

    “Jesus made the confession that he lost Judas.”

    Jesus didn’t say that.

    This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.”
    John 18:9

    I prefer a hopeful theology where even the most deluded, self-absorbed political misfit can and will be forgiven by TheInfinitePersonalGodWhoIsThere

  230. Jean says:

    Part of an honest discussion is being honest about what the other person says and imputing good motives.

    Here is what I found troubling about the Buechner quote: “all theology, like all fiction, is at its heart autobiography,”

    Here was my reservation conveyed to Joel: “I don’t agree with the thought of theology being related to autobiography. That implies that I make God in my own image.”

    Notice, my concern was not with reading biographies, but turning theology into an autobiography. If anyone thinks that is a wholesome thing to do, then by all means disagree with me. Only, please disagree with what I actually say. That would be in keeping with the courtesy that Duane has espoused in this thread, and which I am in total agreement.

  231. Josh says:

    “While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled”

    Jesus DID say that. John 17:12.

  232. Josh says:

    Why do I need to hear the Gospel daily?

    I haven’t moved beyond it yet.

  233. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    G-Man – you may wish to read John 17:12.
    I know it is inconvenient to your line of thought – but hey, it is in red letters.
    Aren’t the red letters your golden truth?

  234. Duane Arnold says:

    Well, in the first place, the Gospels were known in the early Church as the “memoirs of the Apostles”, i.e. autobiographies of their encounter with Christ, what they witnessed and how they reacted to and processed that encounter. Spiritual autobiography has been a mainstay of Christian theology for almost 1700 years… might we think of the Confessions of St. Augustine? Do I need to name more? Oh, and, of course, it has also been a mainstay of spiritual direction and a consistent way of doing theology since at least the time of the Brethren of the Common Life (where Luther received instruction) through to C.S. Lewis. And, Luther used autobiography to shape his theology. Shall we talk about the storm in the forest or what took place in the tower? Shall we speak about his ” examining as honestly as he [could] the rough-and-tumble of his own experience with all its ups and downs”? This is really Theology and Church History 101…

  235. Josh says:

    I don’t think the objection is to the idea of biographies or autobiographies being helpful, more the idea that ALL theology is autobiography. Personally, I do find biblical theologies to be more helpful.

  236. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I love how Duane likes to respond with the zingers. Do you really think that throwing up something about Luther moves the ball at all? I can’t speak for Jean, but just because Luther did something does not mean that we follow it.
    Look, much of what you bring up is early Luther when he was still a superstitious RCC monk or a little later still clinging to several RCC errors.
    This is why we emphasize the need to distinguish between early Luther and later Luther (anyone with any training in Luther understands this)

    So, I prefer later Luther when he struggled over the text to settle issues rather than some stories of Anne and the storm etc of a, as I said, a superstitious RCC guy.

  237. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    The quote was, “I don’t agree with the thought of theology being related to autobiography.” Quite simply, it is. And, I tend to agree that “all theology, like all fiction, is at its heart autobiography…” You and I work through the biblical languages. You get stuck on a phrase. I recognize it from a Patristic source. We discuss it – what you were taught, what I was taught. Our “self-histories” inform us as to how understand the phrase. That is before we look at the application of the phrase which will also be informed by our personal histories. It’s not “mechanical”… it’s art.

  238. Duane Arnold says:

    So, am I to believe that the early Luther was not doing theology? Even when he stumbled on to the idea of grace? I think not…

  239. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    We have all read Frederick Buechner and Robert Farrar Capon – hey, they have pithy quotes all over the internet, but do we consider them to be anything other than the religious version of Will Rogers and his style of cracker barrel wisdom?

    I don’t know about Buechner, but when Lutherans get a hold of Capon they become antinomians – off the deep end antinomians.

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

    John 17:12
    Indeed. You are correct.

    My question remains, if Jesus chooses to forgive Judas, even though Judas was a lost coin, a lost sheep, a child of incalculable treachery and disappointment, what then?

  241. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane – not what I said as usual – I just made the point that his theology needs to be evaluated by a time period of his theological development.

  242. Duane Arnold says:

    And, to aid my ignorance of Luther, exactly what years constitute the “real Luther”? I’ll have to adjust my books accordingly and decide which volumes I remove from his collected works…

  243. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane – it is not in years – it’s in development of subjects. Review Luther’s theology on Mary.

  244. Josh says:

    G – I have to stick with the bible:

    “except the one doomed to destruction” -Jesus

  245. Jean says:

    Duane and MLD,

    The Augsburg Confession was presented by multiple German princes (I think 7) to the Emperor. It had Luther’s approval, that is, it reflected his theology. The fact that Melanchthon wote it and at least 7 other men endorsed it, means that it wasn’t Luther’s autobiography, unless they all had the same autobiography, which is impossible.

    Moreover, I have read scores of Luther’s writings, and he always subordinates all human thought and reason to the Word of God. He was well read on the fathers and other historical theologians; it would take what accorded with Scripture and throw out the rest.

  246. Michael says:

    This is ridiculous.
    I love reading lots of people, others don’t.
    Then don’t.
    Lord, have mercy…everything has to be a fight.
    I see the Bible as one big narrative…the story of how Jesus rescues the creation.
    A biography, in a sense…

  247. Steve says:

    What is the difference between the denial of Peter with the betrayal of Judas? Both pretty serious with their sin. One however is forever lost and one was restored and found. It’s not rocket science here.

  248. Duane Arnold says:

    One might look at Luther’s autobiographical fragment from 1545. He recounts how he had to develop as a theologian and writer after recounting the events and struggles in his life…

  249. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    G-Man – always the what ifs

    What if God decides to keep his promises to the damned that they will suffer eternal punishment – what if??
    What if Jesus last words to the damned are those recorded in scriptures – “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.” What if??

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

    Michael,
    Diving into some music and design projects.
    Consider me a hopeful friend and brother.
    I’m cheering you on, May this day bring you unanticipated joy, for you, your boy, and your feline friends!

  251. Jean says:

    I should clarify: When I said Luther “always subordinates all human thought and reason to the Word of God, I mean from the time that he broke away from his Roman Catholic heritage. I would say that from about 1518 (and certainly 1521), Luther had become Lutheran.

  252. Michael says:

    Blessings , G.
    I consider you both .

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

    MLD,
    You be the person you insist on being.

    I shall be the person I am.
    The fruit of the tree of hope will prevail.

  254. Josh says:

    I still disagree with Beuchner’s statement. Theology should not ultimately be about me. It should be aiming towards an unchanging truth; an absolute. Being that we are finite, we will never reach that absolute, and my understanding will certainly be colored by my experience. Still, the goal should be to transcend.

  255. Josh says:

    I’m not offended or trying to argue. Just giving my opinion on an interesting quote.

  256. Michael says:

    Theology is ultimately about Jesus and Buechner would be the first to affirm that. Jesus is the word, the unchanging truth, the absolute. Our personal theologies are all failed attempts to understand the transcendent…colored by experience and culture.
    As long as we center on Him, they will suffice.

  257. Jean says:

    “Lord, have mercy…everything has to be a fight.”

    It doesn’t. And it shouldn’t.

    I had a thought, and don’t know if it would be accepted or not, but I will put it out here for your consideration.

    Could you include content, book recommendations, etc. that reflect traditional, conservative Christian theology to balance out other avant guarde content and book recommendations? That used to be the case here, and might be well received by readers holding conservative theological viewpoints or others still defining their own theology.

  258. Josh says:

    The strife, for me, comes when an easily refutable false statement is made, and then I feel like we are supposed to let it stand as if it is true, and just another true interpretation among all the other true interpretations. That’s about as anti-intellectual as you can get, in my opinion.

  259. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    Theology arises from our encounter with God, through Christ, by the agency of the Holy Spirit. Your encounter is distinctly yours, because you are a distinct human being. The truth of God is the same, our understanding of that encounter is, individual… it speaks to you as an individual, even as it speaks to an ecclesia…

    Let me ask a question: Was your conversion an individual experience… that is, personal to you?

  260. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    G, the person I insist on being is faithful to the text (or at minimum I always refer to the text). You on the other hand insist on being a person of emotion (not a perjorative) rulesd by what you feel.

    You are right – we are who we are – I hope Jesus is a God of his word – I take hope in his promises. You hope Jesus is a promise breaker – that he will not carry out his promises to children and to those who have rejected his love.

    Go figure.

  261. Josh says:

    Duane – Yes, but ideally “The Study of God” would focus on God and not my experience. Again, I know that I can never really get there, but that should be the goal.

  262. Steve says:

    Josh you are a voice of sanity on this blog. However sanity is no longer in vogue. Curious if any of this is stemming from the existentialism of Soren Keirkegard?

  263. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    I agree, but the doing of Theology is not mechanistic… it can’t be by its very nature.

  264. Josh says:

    Steve – I doubt many of us read much of Keirkegard, but I was kind of thinking along the same lines. Reminds me of Schaeffer’s “line of despair”.

  265. Michael says:

    Jean,
    I don’t review anything I haven’t read and I don’t have the time or inclination to read in small circles that only affirm the same things over and over again.
    I hold to “conservative” viewpoints on almost all the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith and I’m getting tired of stating so over and over again.
    I believe in reading broadly and thinking through things that intrigue me.
    I don’t think that is either dangerous or harmful.
    If the expectation here is that I will stop doing so and just “stand on Scripture”…you’re in the wrong place.
    Everyone here is standing on their interpretation of Scripture, and those interpretations vary wildly on many doctrines. I’m just searching out the best interpretations for me just like the rest of you have.
    I’m good with those differences…because I also know that all of you are in Christ despite the differences in understanding.
    When I get a minute I’ll post what books are recent or I’m reading now from my Kindle….

  266. Em says:

    There are two fathers defined in our scriptures, are there not?
    John 8:39-59 should answer this question of universal salvation – IMV… sadly, not all the human race want to be in the Family of the Redeemed…. Not all sons who leave home return… not all lost coins are found… Judas declared that he betrayed innocent blood, yes, but i suspect that his pride, his scheme to manipulate Jesus and advance himself caused him to the despair leading to his suicide … repentance would have brought him back to Jesus to serve the Church…. Or so it seems to me
    Yes, God seeks and receives the lost, but He knows those who are His
    To coin an old dusty observation, “just sayin, cuz i can” here

  267. Jean says:

    “If the expectation here is that I will stop doing so and just “stand on Scripture”…you’re in the wrong place.”

    I don’t expect that and didn’t imply that I did. I asked you simply to include traditional, conservative theological content to balance out the other exploratory theology you’re reading. If you don’t want to, fine by me. It was only a request.

  268. Michael says:

    Josh,
    If what you’re referring to are Gmans beliefs , he is aware that some of them are heterodox at best.
    We all get that.
    I don’t feel any need to refute him as he is sharing where he’s at in his journey and he truly loves Jesus.
    He’s been saying the same things for years…and I believe he’s being faithful to what he believes while understanding that he is an outlier.
    He’s a friend and brother…I’m sure the Lord is capable of instructing his errors and mine.

  269. Josh says:

    Like he posted a “Jesus didn’t say that” earlier…but Jesus DID say it. But then he’s going to do the hippy rambling for a minute and then leave (because he has no way to back up his thoughts).

    All thoughts are not created equal. There has to be some basis for truth, and yes, if I am going to be here, I am bound to refute those things which are obviously not true. The lurkers, remember? I can’t allow them to see me post next to obvious lunacy with silent approval. Doesn’t mean I’m angry with anyone or hate anyone. But some people ARE wrong.

  270. Michael says:

    Jean,

    I do very few reviews anymore.
    I do publish a Linkathon every week and it is usually about 80-90% “conservative” and usually includes links from Lutheran writers.
    This is simple.
    If I don’t like the content of a website, I don’t read it.
    I try to have all sorts of voices here…and after years of that working well, it no longer is.

  271. Michael says:

    Josh,

    If you feel you must then do so.
    Silence on a blog usually means that people are doing something else…like all the stuff I’m neglecting this morning…again.

  272. Jean says:

    I’m trying to be constructive. It would also be appreciated, and in my opinion helpful, if all commenters received equal courtesy and consideration. That could help reestablish trust.

  273. Josh says:

    I find it tiring, and not much fun, but when no one else is addressing the elephant…

  274. Michael says:

    Josh,

    He’s been here at least10 years, probably more.
    Said the same stuff all along.
    Why is it an issue now?

  275. Josh says:

    Always has been.

    I used to not be alone in refuting his false gospel.

  276. Josh says:

    For instance – in 2013 Babylon’s Dread said:

    “Universalism is one of those things that would have been overtly taught in the scriptures if it were true. It is a doctrine that makes most of the scripture incoherent and makes the lives of the apostles irrational. The doctrine if true makes Paul a raving lunatic. Remember the old LORD LIAR LUNATIC schematic about Jesus? Well universalism makes Paul look like guy who could stop lots of suffering and persecution just by appealing to people to chill a little. “Wait guys, you don’t understand, all I am saying is that Jesus is going to accomplish your salvation without any help or even visible response on your part.”

    I mean the doctrine is just a prequel to Oprah.

    Seriously, someone will say “NO, I mean Christian Universalism not that unitarian stuff.” And then they will take the lashes as a prelude to death just so they can win the point?

    Christian universalism is just a bunch of liberal christians trying to out-nice the world.

    It is silly and it is based on tortured exegesis… which would of course be a logical replacement to being tortured for Jesus.”

    I won’t quote Michael as he sees it as a personal attack.

  277. Michael says:

    Josh,

    Are we still wound up over my book choices?
    2013?
    This is getting way crazy…

    If you want to read the two books i referenced and talk about them here, that’s fine.
    Otherwise, I don’t get this at all..

  278. Michael says:

    Just so I know…are there any other subjects off limits…on my own blog?

  279. Josh says:

    I was telling you why I had to respond to G. And just pointing out that I used to not be the only one in this boat.

    G hasn’t changed, nor have I.

  280. Josh says:

    You are free to talk about whatever you like.

    My standing as a biblical Christian will determine how I respond.

  281. Michael says:

    Josh,
    Universalism has always been a minority report in the church.
    Most of the arguments in favor of it have been lame.
    I found two books looking at it from biblical and philosophical perspectives and found them compelling and worthy of discussion.
    I have not declared myself a universalist.
    If ideas by themselves are now off limits , then that’s a problem I can’t and won’t fix.

  282. Josh says:

    You are making the ideas off limits. Talk about whatever lunacy anyone wants to talk about. Just don’t get bent out of shape when I speak up against them.

  283. Michael says:

    I consider myself a biblical Christian as well…once again the issue is interpretation, not authority.

  284. Josh says:

    Why do you keep saying that?

  285. Michael says:

    Josh,

    Because people who don’t agree on much keep calling themselves “biblical” Christians as if I’m not…and I’m done with it.
    We all consider the Bible the standard for doctrine and practice…and we all disagree on what it says.
    Thus, we all claim the same authority…while evidently pretending that there aren’t wild interpretative differences between orthodox believers.

  286. Michael says:

    The question here is can we coexist knowing those differences exist.
    We have done well in the past.
    Now, not so much…

  287. Jean says:

    If someone says they’re a biblical Christian and claims publicly that Judas is forgiven and in heaven, or anything else opposed to the plain text of the Bible, then if someone asks, as a biblical Christian he or she should be willing to defend that position by explaining how the patently opposing texts actually mean something else. Would we all be in agreement as to that definition?

  288. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    May I ask a question? What do you believe this blog to be? No “gotcha” involved…

  289. Jean says:

    A community of Christian faith.

  290. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    Is it a church?

  291. Jean says:

    Duane. I answered you.

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

    I’m busy celebrating one of my children’s birthdays with my awesome wife. My silence is due to joy!

  293. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    No you did not. A community of Christian faith encompasses a whole range of belief, from liberal progressives to fundamentalists. Agreed?

  294. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, you make 2 huge errors here.
    1.) Universalism has never reached the level of ‘minority report’s – at best it has scant existence as there is not a single sect (to include all entities) nor has any proponent in church history been given any legitimate hearing.
    2.) You continually say that we all claim the Bible but we can’t agree with anything. This is not even close to the truth. I doubt there is anyone on this blog or lurking that we don’t agree with on 90% of Scripture interpretation and the way we understand doctrine and the way we carry out our faith.

    Many of us talk offline, Facebook etc and if we were closer together we would do coffee or lunch – heck. I used to do coffee and lunch with the G-Man before he cut me off.

  295. Jean says:

    Duane, feel to make your point. A community is as broad or narrow as it is established to be. That’s up to Michael to define, not me. I follow the rules that are promulgated.

    Although I feel somewhat in the minority, I read your posts and Michael’s comments and try to incorporate your suggestions into my interactions here. I wonder who else attempts a self application. I really does require mutual efforts on the part of all concerned.

  296. Michael says:

    MLD,
    I look forward to you and Josh telling about your agreements on baptism, the Eucharist, justification, eternal security, eschatology, sanctification, law and gospel and dispensationalism.
    I had no idea that you were that close…
    I had no idea you

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

    Never “cut off”, merely a healthy boundary.

    Healthy boundaries means, for me, simply making more room for a few billion others who are willing to consider me and them “family” purely because we’re made in the image of TheDivine and have this huge table feast with no muttering.

    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  298. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    I consider this to be an “online community of faith” in the broadest terms. It is not a church in which we adhere to a specific faith confession, apart from a general understanding of creedal Christianity. In reality, it is Michael’s blog in which he has allowed a forum that is more akin to a “public square” in which people share reactions to the articles or, on open blogging, share insights or things they have come across. It is not, as I understand it, a place in which constituencies are served according to demands. It is also not a place for proselytizing, either for a particular church or a particular theological position. Michael may certainly correct me on any of these observations.

    Because of what this place is, and is not, a degree of good will is required. It also involves a bit of humility and, at least in my case, a willingness to learn. I don’t believe Michael ever envisioned the blog as a “pulpit” for any particular sectarian or theological point of view…

  299. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, that’s right, you have listed the totality of our differences, but as anyone who plays around with theology knows, there are a couple of hundred topics – so you showed we have a 3% variation in theology.
    Even within those differences listed, we have common thoughts.
    Eschatology? We agree Jesus is coming back.
    Baptism? We believe Jesus commanded baptism.
    The Eucharist? We believe Jesus called us to the table.
    Justification? We both agree that God alone saves.

    So, I rest on what I said earlier.

  300. Josh says:

    So the only one who constantly cuts others off is the one who tells us “dad” never cuts any one off?

    That’s rich.

  301. Michael says:

    Here is what I know.
    I’ve robbed Trey of my attention and input yet again and allowed the stress created here to affect me physically.
    I’m done.
    I will continue to write here and I hope Duane does as well.
    I will continue to have people from different perspectives welcome here and will continue to provide space for a diverse Christian community.
    If you think me a heretic or this site displeases you, go in peace…there are plenty of places to park online that you may find edifying.
    If you wish to continue in personal relationships I’m on Facebook and Twitter with my cats.
    This conversation is over.

  302. Josh says:

    The different interpretations should go without saying. The same is true for any piece of literature. You go to a lit class and you sit around and talk about what the book meant. Everybody has different answers. Still, there is a test, and not all answers are equal. We bring our views and back them up with the text. Some are more valid than others. That is what being a biblical Christian is?

    But honestly Michael, and don’t take this as an insult or an accusation, just a question, why is it important to you to be called a biblical or conservative Christian? You say that so much has changed, why are those two labels still important to you?

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

    Not “cut off”.

    The table is big, I just moved to hang with the part of the family which welcomes me and likes to jam…

    ( |o )====:::

  304. Josh says:

    Yeah, right.

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

    Pick up your bass and join the song!
    ( |o )======::
    ——————
    ( |o )====:::

  306. Josh says:

    Sorry, the hypocrisy catches me off guard some times.

    But as far as the discussion here, it seems to be stuck because we once had a more unified basis of agreement and then we argued about the smaller differences. Now some of those foundations don’t seem as solid.

  307. Josh says:

    I do like the bass G made though. My four tuners are all on top, but still, not bad.

  308. Michael says:

    Josh,
    It is an accusation and an insult and it breaks my heart that it’s come to this for some reason.
    Different interpretations should not go without saying when all the interpreters claim they are bringing the very Word of God.

    I am biblical because that is my primary source for doctrine and practice.
    I am conservative because i affirm completely that which Paul declared to be the Gospel.
    I defend both labels because to be declared otherwise is a weapon wielded against too many brethren.

    “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
    For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me”
    (1 Corinthians 15:1–8 ESV)

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

    Sorry, it’s the only one I could scare up.

  310. Steve says:

    —–in the image of TheDivine and have this huge table feast with no muttering.

    ———————————————————————————————————————-
    Not really. The Lord himself prepares a table in the presence of my enemies not for my enemies. (Psalms 23).

  311. Jim says:

    It might be time to give peace a chance?

    Some people believe some crazy stuff. Some people think that I believe some crazy stuff.

    I’m ok with it all, and I think God will sort it out. Maybe we can chill out and give Michael a break for a little while.

  312. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    “…why is it important to you to be called a biblical or conservative Christian?”

    In my church, I’m considered a conservative traditionalist, and I’ve paid a price for that… more than you know. You would, I guess, consider me slightly to the left as I use different tools to interpret Scripture and I do not hold to inerrancy, despite having a very high view of Scripture. That’s a result, however, of only looking through your own lens or the church context in which you live out you faith. These are discussions that call for charity, not labels or impugning motives.

  313. Michael says:

    One more thing…
    In church, the heterodox or heretic can be problematic.
    In community I keep them close in case I have an answer they may find true…and because they are friends, family, and others made in the image of God.
    I also keep them close because I care about them as people no matter their beliefs.
    If you only love people who agree with you, you only love their agreement.

  314. Josh says:

    I tried to make it clear that it was not an accusation. Not towards Michael or Duane. I just wanted to hear the answer. I let you define you.

  315. Em says:

    Before i read through the thoughts here again, i believe that God sees there is nothing wrong with us considering ALL our fellow humans as candidates for redemption as we walk our journey on this earth – God might even prefer that approach. After all only He is qualified to make that final cut at the judgment…
    Seems the sticking point is, how do righteousness and justice reconcile His love with absolute holiness….

  316. Jean says:

    I am in agreement with Jim above that “Maybe we can chill out and give Michael a break for a little while.” Thus, I will attempt some mutually edifying thoughts:

    (1) Josh, one thing that I enjoy in our discussions is that if and when we disagree, whether about doctrine or a creed, we have a common “rule” book to consult. And, we both mutually desire to consult that same book. I don’t call on the name of Luther or the BOC or the LCMS or any father, but I consult Scripture, as do you. Because of that, we can have a good discussion, even if we don’t reach agreement at the end. Over the years, I have learned from other Christians using this method.

    (2) Steve, I noticed your reference to Psalm 23. Once you’ve completed your meditations on that Psalm, may I suggest another? Psalm 91 would be my first choice; then Psalm 32.

    I love all of you here. I would never advocate excommunication from a blog or even censorship, although I do think it’s prudent (out of love and charity) for someone to either self-identify heterodox or heretical theology, or someone else to call it out, so that someone else is not inadvertently led astray, which would be abdicating our call to love our neighbor as ourself.

  317. Steve says:

    Thanks Jean! I will read those next.

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