Jun 132018
 

I’ll keep saying this until people listen…while I vigorously applaud groups doing events such as “For A Time Such As This”, until the issue of financial liability for the denomination (or non denominational denomination) is addressed there will be no teeth in any “resolutions” passed.

Some courts have already held state conventions in the SBC liable for the actions of member churches even with the loose affiliations of that group. The fact that no one has yet addressed the liability/accountability issue tells me that the reformers don’t understand the issue…trust me, the leadership does.

 

The newly elected SBC president is already apologizing for  Vice President Pence’s appearance at the conference…“I know that sent a terribly mixed signal. We are grateful for civic leaders who want to speak to our Convention—but make no mistake about it, our identity is in the gospel and our unity is in the Great Commission. Commissioned missionaries, not political platforms, are what we do.” Partisan politics and the gay rights agenda are crippling the church…kudos to the SBC for ignoring the latter…

I wonder if Pence is going to affirm the excellent resolution on immigration that the SBC passed? Thank you, SBC…

The United States Catholic bishops are also convening this week…and they made a strong statement regarding immigration reform also…thank you to them as well.

For some of us this is as much of a moral issue as abortion…and thus should be addressed with the same vigor.

I’ve been meaning to get to this for a while now…what would you have said to this little boy?

  163 Responses to “Loose Ends”

  1. “Some courts have already held state conventions in the SBC liable for the actions of member churches”

    When, where, and how? I can’t imagine a situation where that would possibly occur.

    There were several motions placed dealing with abuse, including Wade Burleson’s which I think is linked to the “Such a time” group. Looks like they will be lumped together, and most likely a task force appointed to consider what could be done. That sounds lame, but it is a positive step in the right direction. In the past, these motions have been dismissed right off. You can’t get away with that anymore.

  2. Josh,

    I had the articles archived, then my computer crashed…but it was an East Coast case and my guess is that the leadership is well aware of it.

    Any time these abuse issues get a hearing it’s positive….but that iceberg isn’t melting that wrecks all attempts at real accountability….

  3. You still speak without understanding the structure. I don’t say that as an insult. It is common for people to misunderstand the structure of the SBC.

    There is absolutely nothing that could be done Convention-wide that could have any teeth. Nothing. They don’t pay us anything, we pay them. They have no authority over us. We have authority over them.

    There are 45,000 cooperating churches in the SBC. If today, some goon in Dallas made a rule that binds all the ocal churches, how many do you think would be cooperating tomorrow? IF your answer was much less than 45,000 you would be correct.

    The local church is the only chance for accountability. This is not a negative point. This is good! Something can actually be done locally.

  4. “The local church is the only chance for accountability. This is not a negative point. This is good! Something can actually be done locally.”

    Actually, I understand all too well after 16 years of CC.

    My point that I’m trying to gently make is exactly yours…nothing is really going to happen.

    You and I will disagree greatly on whether local accountability only is a good thing.

  5. No, somehting IS happening. The churches are cooperating together and deciding that we want something to happen. It’s beautiful. It’s too slow, long-overdue, and in some congreagations will still be ignored, but it is happening. And I guarantee you that in the congregations that take accountability measures, they will be more effective than ones enforced by a national entity.

    “You and I will disagree greatly on whether local accountability only is a good thing.”

    Maybe, but you can’t take an autonomous church and force it to give up its autonomy. Not in America, anyway.

    I also think your keen understanding of CC is part of the problem. There is a much different dynamic with SBC. At least before Chuck died, CC was simpler. If Chuck says it, it happens. We don’t have any structure like that at all. There are positives and negatives, but I’ve seen abuse in independent churches, associated churches, and churches with strong denominational structures.

  6. “Maybe, but you can’t take an autonomous church and force it to give up its autonomy. Not in America, anyway.”

    Some of us think that relinquishing some autonomy for the sake of accountability should be what church associations are for…

    We also realize that American evangelicalism finds that heretical…

  7. Umm, there are more formal evangelical denominations than the SBC. They don’t do much better with accountabilty. Some do much worse.

  8. Do totally unaffiliated churches need to go ahead and place themselves in some hierarchy structure?

  9. Josh,

    I’m not singling out the SBC for criticism…I’m simply trying to tell people the truth about these matters.

    I still get email asking why CGN or the CCA doesn’t enforce some form of accountability…and the answer is money.

  10. Hierarchies have a bad rap today, but I haven’t seen a better idea…

  11. I’m not sure about CC. But the answer to why The SBC doesn’t enforce something…is because they can’t. I think CC at some time had a structure in place to do that type of thing. THat’s not how the SBC started. It has always been individual churches that wanted to pool resources for missions. THat’s it. I’m not neccesarily disagreeing with anything you are saying, but laying it out fuller how the accountability will have to work in the SBC. My church and most of the churches I know have pretty good accountabilty in place. We can still be taken by someone with evil intent. We can all point to examples where hierachy did the exact opposite of bringing accountability. I don’t at all believe that is the answer.

  12. Josh,

    As long as the SBC employs Russell Moore, the good outweighs the negative with me… 🙂

  13. Well, he survived another year…it seems. 🙂

  14. I don’t think he is in the best position for his talents, though. I’d like to see him in a differnt SBC position.

  15. Josh,

    I really admire the guy…great role model for the rest of us on how to talk about issues…

  16. Maybe he is in a good spot then.

    I’d just like to see him breather some life into Southwestern now it’s presidency is vacant.

  17. I would’ve prayed for the young man.

  18. The video… the faith of a child… Papa was an atheist; is he in heaven now?
    The lad says his papa was a good man and he had all his children baptized… The Pope seems to think God was impressed with that… I don’t know where Papa went when he died, but i sure wouldn’t burden a small child with the possibility of his papa now in hell…. I guess i’d tell the lad that God knows our hearts and He knows papa’s and let it rest there for now…

    You asked, but what a question!

  19. “Some of us think that relinquishing some autonomy for the sake of accountability should be what church associations are for…“

    In scripture or church history, can you point to a time where this has happened? With specifics.

    I see your point.

    The most independent Christians/“Christians” who refuse accountability, refuse to fellowship and refuse church membership are so destructive. As they are to the local church, so lawless local churches who refuse accountability from pastors/Christian leaders or brethren outside their local church are to a broader hierarchy, or so the argument would go?
    .

  20. Em,

    I’m not at all sure I would have told the little guy anything different…better to know the love of God at an early age …

  21. JTK,

    Even the history here is contested.
    We know that the earliest churches were under apostolic authority, then bishoprics.

    Has it always worked?
    That would be no.

    Many denominations demand fidelity to certain doctrinal standards and have courts to deal with those who color outside those lines…why not for moral issues as well?

  22. I would have done something similar to the Pope. This was not the moment to parse the details of final judgment and justification by faith alone.

    Likely I would have told the young lad that it is not in our authority to judge one who has died. I might have stated that his father may well have had more belief in God than he let on. The act of baptizing his children means that he believed his children needed help that daddy could not provide but there was a greater one to whom we can appeal.

    I would have told the lad to love his father and talk to God about him. Yes, very much like the Pope did.

    It was a good moment.

  23. Well said, BD…

  24. In the best of all possible worlds, accountability does not have to wait until a sordid situation breaks in the media. The accountability begins the moment a person takes a pastoral position. When someone is watching over them (a bishop, a senior pastor, a governing board) many issues can be dealt with early on and with respect and due regard for all involved. (Conversation which may have been appropriate in a seminary dorm room might not be appropriate in a parish church coffee hour.) Early oversight and intervention can deal with a host of issues. Pastors need pastoral care as well. Only those who literally believe that they are God’s gift are arrogant enough to think otherwise. If Patterson had been called out on his language and counseling 20 years ago, perhaps he would have reacted differently to those who sought him out seeking his help. Oversight is not onerous, it is redemptive.

  25. Yet it does go against the creeds which you hold up as minimum entry into heaven.

    But lying to the kid may still have been beneficial – who knows? I think the pope may have been better off to keep it confidential because putting the kid aside, the pope lied to the rest of the crowd.

  26. “Pastors need pastoral care as well.”

    That is truth and rarely enters into these discussions…

  27. Yeah, so, the pope. Had I been in the Pope’s position, in public, on a mic, with a cute little kid, I would have loved on the kid for sure (in the not-creepy way that might sound). I would have somehow pointed the kid to the goodness of Jesus, not the goodness of his dead atheist dad. I would have drawn the kids attention to his own relationship with Jesus. But I for sure would not have said that God let dad in because he was a good guy. Because now atheists go to heaven without Jesus. That is also the wrong message.

  28. The problem is, how to comfort that child without lying because as the child gets older he needs to know, in this case a pope, that the Church’s leaders don’t lie about serious matters. I’d trust Michael or Pastor Dread to navigate that fine line….
    I like the way this Pope comforted the lad… He seems to have a heart for humanity…. but…. what turns up in the news probably shouldn’t be relied on…. dunno

  29. “Yet it does go against the creeds which you hold up as minimum entry into heaven.”

    No, I hold them up as a basic doctrinal statement about Christianity.

    Maybe… there will be folks who recite them for the first time in the presence of the Lord…maybe.

    Love covers a multitude of sins…and confessions.

  30. This parallels one of the reasons I avoided doing funerals when I was a pastor. It drives me crazy when I go to one and hear the person say, “We know he’s looking down on us from heaven.” when they had zero discernible relationship with God whatsoever. I couldn’t, with any personal feeling of integrity, say that about someone unless I knew them well enough to say it. That’s not me putting myself in the position of determining if a person was actually saved or not. That’s just me being a fruit inspector (take that as you will).

  31. Corby,

    I get that…but we probably even define fruit differently… 🙂

  32. Here’s a statement on immigration. The deeds speak louder than words. [link]:

    McAllen, Texas (CNN) – The undocumented immigrant from Honduras sobbed as she told an attorney Tuesday how federal authorities took her daughter while she breastfed the child in a detention center, where she was awaiting prosecution for entering the country illegally.

    When the woman resisted, she was handcuffed, Natalia Cornelio, the attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, recalled from her interview with the woman, who had been detained under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy to refer anyone caught crossing the border illegally for federal prosecution.

    I’d add some additional comments, but I have no words.

  33. Actually maybe the kid was wrong about his father. What kind of atheist father would baptize their kids? It doesn’t make sense. Maybe the kid was told his father was an unbeliever by his mother or someone else for various reasons. But surely a father that baptizes his kids must have had some kind of faith, no?

  34. I agree Steve. What a beautiful answer from the Pope. I think it’s a mistake to underestimate the mercy of God for people.

  35. I had my 3 kids baptized when I was a non believer. Went back every other year 3 times. Why? Because my wife was a Christian and wanted them baptized. It was a big deal to her, meant nothing to me. To me it was no harm, no foul keep the wife happy.
    If I would have died during those years, I would be in hell with 3 baptized kids.

  36. According to most historic, orthodox, doctrine, the Pope and I are both wrong.
    I understand that.
    There are theological ways to work out hope for the little boy and his daddy…and I understand all the objections to them.

    At this stage of my life I choose to believe in hope and the love of God without discarding either tradition or Scripture,but by emphasizing different parts of both.

    I am not a universalist, but I grow more convinced daily that the grace of God is far broader than we have any idea…

  37. What would I have said. Agreed with Em and BD…good answers.

    Having read a number of missionary biographies, including Bruchko, I’ve come to conclusion that God will move heaven and earth to bring the gospel to a seeker, even a reluctant seeker. There are seekers in many religious or even non-religious groups. God honors the humble but resists the proud, and He brings the truth to those who earnestly seek Him. That deceased Father was humble and tried to give good things to his children.

    That said, no man on earth can judge another’s heart with respect to his Maker.

    Need to share a story about a man here in my town who has served the homeless since he was saved. He runs a meal feeding, worship, and gospel service each Saturday at a homeless park. He was once a drug addict and was homeless. He sees these homeless people as his congregation and that they each have gifts to offer the Church. Every night, he walks the streets in the downtown area to clean up any trash so that the homeless will not be blamed for the litter. Because of this ministry, his living expenses are paid by a fundraiser that’s held each year by those who have served with him. Not one church runs this ministry, but many, as they are called by the Spirit, come together to minister to the homeless. Those involved in this ministry stopped giving money to this gentleman money because he gave it all away. Now, they just pay for a roof and utilities. That is all he wants or needs. Wow…that is an understanding and example of the gospel in action!

  38. Linnea,

    I’m glad you’re still here…good words as well…

  39. #36

    ^^^^^^

  40. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart… I think the Church is unique and does require a public declaration of Faith among other things, on the other hand, we do see O.T. instances of God pursuing reluctant souls so, while i wouldn’t take a chance on it, myself (i do believe in hell), there is always the hope that, at the last, the heart was seeking reconciliation….
    That sounds like i’ve spent the day in the company of lawyers… Sorry

  41. I rest in the fact that no one loves this boys father like our Heavenly Father. That’s enough for me.

  42. I am an example of ” the grace of God is far broader than we have any idea…”

    Just saying

  43. What does that mean “the grace of God is far broader than we have any idea…” – Jesus died for the sins of every single person ever to live. We all know that – don’t we?

    But let’s take the dad at the kid’s word – that he is an atheist, and sure enough of it to burden his kid with the idea – now what?

    The creed says 2 things to this;
    1.) .Whoever desires to be saved should above all hold to the catholic faith – (this is the opening sentence.)
    2.) This is the catholic faith:one cannot be saved without believing it firmly and faithfully.

    Forget the atheist for a minute – I have wondered if a universalist can be a Christian based on this? After all, he is declaring that one does not need to believe to be saved.

    or do we just say that the creeds were formed by whoever had church power at the time and the manner they enforced such was with these threats? or are they true?

  44. We can say a lot of things if we choose to look at things a tad differently.

    First, when the Scriptures talk about the number of the saved it talks about numbers too great to count.

    We can say that the creeds are normative Christian doctrine…but God is free to work outside the norm.

    We can say that in the Incarnation and Crucifixion Jesus did things that affected all of humanity…and His stated mission was to seek and save the lost.

    We can reason that as we watch the Pope comfort a child that we aren’t kinder than God and it’s His image upon us that causes us to resonate with the hope that was spoken.

    We could say much more…but I’ll end with believing that the grace and mercy and love of God isn’t something to be codified,but experienced and shared.

  45. Michael, I too believe that the number saved will be a number too great to count. I just taught that on the blog in Rev 7. However, I do not think any of them will be those who deny Jesus which is also equivalent to denying the Father.

    I did say earlier that I thought the Pope lying to the kid probably did more good than harm – but thought he should kept it private as he did end up lying to the congregation. Ironic we are using a Romanist as a teaching point and he is a man who teaches that very, very, very few go directly to heaven.
    Actually, I am at a loss by you last post. I know God is merciful, that is what the whole topic of Jesus’ incarnation is all about. I just don’t know that it conveys to the unrepentant Christ denier – whether it be the atheist, Buddhist, Jew or Muslim.
    Oh, what the he’ll.

  46. MLD,

    I don’t expect you to affirm my theology.
    I’m reading lots of stuff and having interesting conversations about things that don’t fit into tidy boxes.
    I’m in process and still learning… I haven’t reached any dogmatic conclusions, nor an I sure that it’s necessary to do so.

  47. i think i understand MLD’s concern – just as we wouldn’t want someone in our household who did not respect our family, a person who was cavalier about our children’s welfare, we, none of us, would want someone in our midst in Eternity who did not have a repentant reverent, thankful heart and mind a desire to understand what God did, what it cost to reconcile man to himself… Total humility, love and worshipful loyalty to God… otherwise, we’d be facing another rebellion at some point and i pray to God that Satan – Lucifer – is the last of his kind…
    I confess that i cannot get my mind around the holiness of God. I know that it involves much more than power, more than sinlessness… every time i pray “hallowed be Thy Name” i am convicted of how short i am of understanding what that entails
    it is not for nothing that scripture tells us that our God is a consuming fire… but grace, God is absolutely, perfectly fair
    So?
    So i guess it is unthinkable that anyone would sneak into heaven who did not appreciate and worship this incredible Creator…

  48. Michael, I do appreciate the changes you go through – well some of them. I do find it a bit condescending when ever I raise a biblical standard that you relegate it to me just trying to fit everything into neat categories or ‘tidy boxes’. This is not so.
    We cannot change who God is in the scriptures – he wasn’t at one time the OT wrathful God but today he is the nice loving NT God who has set his wrath aside. God is still the same wrathful God he has always been – the only difference is that his wrath has been aimed at Jesus and his work on the cross. For those who refuse to be shielded by Jesus and fight God on their own are still open to his wrath – even at best if it is put on hold today until the consummation of time.

    The picture you sometimes present seems to be of a God who used to look like an Elijah / John the baptist character but today looks like some 18th century prince who wears the puffy silk shorts with white stockings and has a hankey tucked in the wristband of his silky shirt.

    Good luck on your search.

  49. Long ago, I placed all my eggs in the “Jesus is the only way” basket. I’ll be dying on that hill.

  50. How far does Christ’s Incarnation and Work on the Cross go? Can we hope and pray for the opportunity of forgiveness of those on the other side of death?

  51. Joel the scripture seems to speak to that. If you look at the rich man and Lazarus it seems he cannot’ cross that bridge. The Hebrews passage it is appointed once to die and then the judgement. I’m out walking so I can’t look up scriptures but I think you can get the point.

  52. Joel, another hill I’m going to die on is that the bible is the authoritative Word of God. As MLD pointed out, the bible does not allow for your scenario.

  53. Yes a very depressing story, indeed. The sheep and goats. The story of Jesus telling some He never knew them. Sometimes I don’t understand how heaven can be heaven knowing others are suffering eternal punishment. But I am talking about things I don’t understand and trust God over my reasoning.

  54. All the more reason to tell people while we still can.

  55. And I appreciate yours and MLD’s words, Josh.

  56. True Josh

  57. Joel, Jesus says he will wipe away all tears and sorrows. That is how you know God is Good and heaven is great.
    Also remember – no one goes to Hellboy accident.

  58. I think Jesus is the only way in that however anyone is redeemed it’s through His work…whether they know it now or not.

    As for the Bible being the authoritative word of God, I can affirm that as well…however choosing which interpretation of it is authoritative is whole different ballgame.

  59. Frankly, having to spend eternity with a lot of the folks who qualify as “saved” sounds like hell to me , so I might be in trouble myself…

    I think one can accept that the normative way people are saved is through the traditional means we see in Scripture while holding out hope that the mercy of God is greater than has been revealed.

  60. Michael, your 1st paragraph is Romanist theology and definitely outside of reformation thinking and I personally would include outside of Christian doctrine.
    I don’t think you can hold that belief and still claim to not be a Universalist.
    That is me making my own application. 🙂

  61. I couldn’t imagine why Jesus would endure the cross if it wasn’t going to matter anyway.

    “however choosing which interpretation of it is authoritative is whole different ballgame.”

    We can ususally tell when someone is trying to be squirelly and interpret around the truth. There are a very few sticky passages. Many, many more that are not.

  62. MLD,

    Trust me when I express how little I care about whether someone puts my theology in a “Romanist” or”Reformed” camp or outside either.

    I can claim not to be a universalist because I’m not one, nor do I have any real inclination toward such.

  63. Josh,

    You are a dispensationalist.
    MLD is a confessional Lutheran.
    I am an Anglican.

    We have radically different ways of interpreting Scripture.

    I listened to Greg Laurie’s message from his crusade and what he was promising was unknown to me.

    We use similar language and we all center it on the person and work of Christ…but we even interpret that differently.

    By the time we’re done, most of the book is “sticky”.

  64. The cross matters…and so does the Incarnation and the life lived between both…

  65. Nah, that’s just a very pessimistic view. The bible is clear on so many things. For instance, Jesus is the Son of God. You’d have to squirm really hard to make the bible say something else.

    Speculating about end times is fun sport, but yes, that is the sticky part. Things we all agree on, we don’t have to discuss so much.

    If we say that one can be saved without knowing Jesus, I don’t see how the Incarnation makes any didfference whatsoever.

  66. (And just to be clear for eveyone else reading, I’m not much of a dispensationalist. I believe in premil eschatology, and find the hermenutic useful in some cases. Other than Christian, the only label I am fully comfortable with is Baptist. But I know what Michael meant. 🙂 )

  67. “If we say that one can be saved without knowing Jesus, I don’t see how the Incarnation makes any didfference whatsoever.”

    I’m not pessimistic or optimistic, I’m realistic.

    There are numerous ways of understanding even what it means that Jesus was “The Son of God”.

    There are also different ways of “saying” things…one can “say” things as accepted dogma and also “say” things as hopeful hypotheses…

  68. “I think one can accept that the normative way people are saved is through the traditional means we see in Scripture while holding out hope that the mercy of God is greater than has been revealed.”

    This is a keeper.

    This may be thin reasoning, but the Prodigals father didn’t have a time limit on how long he would mercifully wait for his son to return from the consequences of choice.

  69. Michael, you know I’m a friend. I’ve been around a long time. I have found you to be consistantly pessimistic. I don’t say that as an insult, just an observation. I wouldn’t consider myself particularly optimistic for the most part. It is what it is.

    “There are numerous ways of understanding even what it means that Jesus was “The Son of God””

    Anybody that argues that JEsus is not the Son of God, I’m sorry, but they will be outside the family. Not my rules. And there are very few rules, but bleieveing Jesus is the Son of God is one of those rules.

  70. Just so as to assure those who think I’ve fallen off my mystical rocker…

    I think passages like these lead us to meditate on what it means that Christ is the “last Adam” and what it means that He is reconciling “all things” to Himself that He may be “all in all”.

    One can think without reaching dogmatic conclusions…

    “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.The last enemy to be destroyed is death.For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him.When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.”
    (1 Corinthians 15:20–28 ESV)

    “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
    But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
    Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.”
    (Romans 5:12–18 ESV)

    “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”
    (Colossians 1:15–20 ESV)

  71. Josh,

    Herein lies my “pessimism”.

    You are making a rule without defining what the term even means.
    You assume that there is one universal definition across all groups…and there really isn’t.

    I would affirm that Jesus is the son of God…but I damn sure don’t affirm eternal subordination.

  72. I haven’t made any rule.

    Are you honestly gonna tell me that the bible doesn’t clearly say Jesus is the Son of GOd?

  73. Josh,

    I just affirmed that I believe Jesus is the Son of God.
    I couldn’t have been any more clear.

    I am also being very clear that different groups have historically defined the term and the theological implications of it differently…as has been the case with may things in Christendom.

  74. How far out on a limb have you gone when a guy says “Jesus is the Son of GOd” and you say,”Yeah, but”?

  75. Josh,

    I’m not saying “yes, but”.
    I’m saying that the term itself means different things to different people…or have you missed the raging theological debate over eternal subordination?

  76. You are the only one here talking eternal subordination.

  77. Well, I will say, if salvation requires the crazy knot-tying skills like youare making it out, I do hope God just lets anybody in.

    Fortunately, it is much, much simpler than that.

  78. “You are the only one here talking eternal subordination.”

    I’m talking about it because you brought up believing that Jesus is the Son of God as if there were one definition of the term.

    In reality there is dispute among orthodox believers as to the meaning of the term…

  79. “In reality there is dispute among orthodox believers as to the meaning of the term…”

    So? We agree that the Bible is clear that JEsus is the SOn of GOd. That’s all I siad. You tried to make it more complicated.

  80. Where have I affirmed “crazy knot tying skills” as a means of grace?

    I affirmed the normative ways that people come to Christ while hoping for a broadness in God’s mercy.

    I have nowhere stated that God “just lets anyone in”.

  81. “You tried to make it more complicated.”

    How do we know we agree if don’t define the terms?

    Whether you and I like it or not there is dispute among the orthodox on almost every major doctrine…and we’ve seen those arguments rage on here for years.

  82. Alright. Hope you have a good day!

  83. Josh,

    Evidently, the conversation didn’t go well.
    The JW’s and Mormons say Jesus is the Son of God…but they don’t mean what I do.
    Wayne Grudem says He’s eternally subordinate to the father.
    Nicea says the Son is homoousios (i.e. same nature, same substance) with the Father.
    I’m with Nicea…

    I hope you have a good day as well…

  84. Re: The Pope and the Bambino
    “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”

    What an awful spiritual place that little boy is in. God please keep him.

    I dunno what I would have said. I haven’t placed myself before all the world as a substitute for the Holy Spirit.

    That boy needed Grace and truth, but he received deception. The boy needed true counseling from a righteous person (like mom or grandparent maybe), and instead received a pat on the head from a “vicar”. I mean, unless the Pope is now truly the vicar speaking the Father’s progressive revelations.

    I wonder if the Pope is still inspired by the same counseling intentions that led him to neglect the concerns of child abuse victims of the Catholic clergy in Argentina?

    As was said in The Miracle On 34th Street, do you tell him a lie that brings a smile, or the truth that brings tears? It is an awful place that God has chosen to place that little boy in. Given that, I think God does not give his children anything they can’t handle.

    What do you think would Paul or Peter have told him?

  85. “Given that, I think God does not give his children anything they can’t handle.”

    God often gives His children more than they can handle so they learn to let Him handle it all…I’m so over my head this morning in what I can’t handle that my only hope is in the mercy of God.

  86. The Trinity
    In light of Psalm 138:2, do you think God could, in each person, be subordinate to his own will?

  87. And the power of his Spirit he has given you to rest upon. God bless and Warmest greetings, Michael.

  88. Michael, your 1 Cor quote – Jesus must put all his enemies under his feet (I think it can be assumed this is not a salvation happening) aren’t these enemies those who deny Christ?
    Doesn’t this show that God still has wrath towards the unbeliever?

  89. MLD,

    You have never, ever, seen me deny the reality that Christ has enemies.
    You have never, ever, seen me deny the existence of hell.

    What you have seen is honest questioning of who those enemies are and who ends up in the pit.

    For some it’s a simple matter of someone professing faith or not doing so.

    I’m not sure it’s that simple.

  90. Why would you not suspect that all unbelievers are worshipers of other gods – worshipers of Baal or worshipers of the dragon and the beast?
    Do you really think there are “neutral” unbelievers? The Bible is clear that no unbeliever seeks after God.
    It’s probably one of my tidy boxes – but those who deny Christ are the enemies of Jesus.
    Matthew 12:30 – Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

  91. MLD,

    I see a complexity in humans that goes beyond simply God haters or God lovers.
    We also see this inside the visible church.
    Many Protestants think that those who are Roman or Eastern in their beliefs are not really believers at all.
    Some in Roman or Eastern churches believe Protestants are apostates.

    According to traditional dogma two of the most important people in my life are roasting in hell, while some who made my life a living hell are enjoying the presence of Christ.

    Everyone who never heard the name of Christ is roasting in hell.

    I need questions to stay sane and in the faith…

  92. In looking over this thread, I’m afraid that there is much more heat than light.

    I am a creedal Christian. Nonetheless, I would find myself arrogant in the extreme to define the extent of God’s mercy, or, indeed, the extent of God’s wrath. When as Anglicans we say that the Bible is sufficient for salvation, we are also saying that there are things the Bible does not tell us – Why was this person healed and another was not? Why did this person die but another was not? Why was this prayer answered and another prayer was not? There were many people at the pool, why did Jesus only heal one? In the end, we throw ourselves on the mercy of God precisely because there is so much that we do not know. I think we need to have the humility to say that we don’t have all the answers…

  93. Duane,

    Thank you…that was much more articulate than what I have fumbled with this morning.
    I completely concur.

  94. I haven’t seen anyone claim to have all the answers…but if we can’t claim to have at least some of the answers, what are we even talking about?

  95. I will tell a personal story about my unbelieving mother.
    Last July my 90 yr old mother had cancer surgery in northern California. I drove in from AZ, my older brother flew in from Newport Beach and my younger brother was already up there as he lives in the same city.
    So after the surgery we went to my brother’s house for dinner. In the middle of dinner, my younger brother, who is a bigger baiter than I am, is an antagonistic, atheist Jew so he tosses me a question – “do you think mom is going to heaven?” It was a flip question so I gave him a flip answer and said “of course not – she’s Jewish”.

    He flipped out and demanded to know how I could hold such a position. I told him, “hey Jews don’t really believe in the afterlife and they definitely do not believe in heaven and hell – so why would I relegate her to a place she doesn’t believe in?” He became furious, but I followed up and said “hey, you are an atheist and don’t believe in heaven so you don’t think she is going to heaven either – what’s the difference?” He kicked me out of his house.

    That is to get to this point. So this April I went back to my mom’s to help her get set up to have hip replacement surgery (which she had 2 weeks ago) – I took her to lunch and while we were sitting in the parking lot she asked “what is this feud with your brother?” I told her there was no feud on my part it was all on his end. She then said “he told me you said I wasn’t going to heaven.” I explain to her the context of our conversation / dispute and she looked at me and said “you are right, I do not believe in God or going to heaven.” I told her that I knew that and that was her right to believe or not believe – and we left it at that.

    I have no expectations that my mother will change her mind and I have no expectation that I will see her in heaven. So based on this conversation , am I supposed to change and begin hoping for a broader form of mercy from God? Come on, that sounds more like the religion of Jiminy Cricket as he wishes upon a star.

  96. Duane – “There were many people at the pool, why did Jesus only heal one?
    I go even further when I teach that passage and bring up that Jesus may have stepped over a dozen others who needed healing as he went to the on – AND, then stepped over the same dozen a second time as he went out to catch a cab to the next location.
    We all live with those issues where the Bible does not tell us – but I think there are plenty of clear passage to deal with on how Jesus saves.

    Even at the bare roots of the question – what must I do to be saved? and voila! there is an answer.

  97. Josh,

    As I’ve said many times, I affirm the creeds and the 39 Articles of my sect.
    These are the things I think I “know”.
    I have a long list of things I hope as well…

  98. MLD,

    I hope that God reveals Himself to your mom…and mine.

    My mom isn’t a God hater, but she has very good reasons to hate those who claimed to represent Him in her life.

  99. I hope the creeds include that Jesus is the Son of God 🙂

  100. The creeds defined what the term meant…so that those who reject creeds could still be orthodox.. 🙂

  101. The first two articles of 39…

    . Of Faith in the Holy Trinity.
    There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the Maker, and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

    II. Of the Word or Son of God, which was made very Man.
    The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took Man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect Natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God, and very Man; who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men

  102. Michael, That is an odd comment, and I know you mean well – but why would you think God has not revealed himself to our mothers all these years? I know he has revealed himself to my mother, through a good 15 yrs that I presented Christ to her. (I know because he promised to be in his word.) She rejected for all those years and I have not tried for the past 20 yrs – you know, that old prophet in his own town stuff. I have left it up to others.

    I do not have an expectation that God will say ” oh what the Heck – she’s old, the mother of 3 the Bubbie of 10 and the great Bubbie of 16 – well done, enter.”

  103. Michael – #100 – the creed itself says that you cannot Even be saved if you don’t believe it, let alone still be orthodox.
    What do you base that comment on?

  104. #94 Josh

    “I haven’t seen anyone claim to have all the answers…but if we can’t claim to have at least some of the answers, what are we even talking about?”

    Of course we have some answers, but even with those “answers”, we still “see through a glass darkly”. It is why I’ve always admired humility in a theologian… they know what they don’t know…

  105. MLD, I haven’t met that many 90 year olds that are completely cogent. Usually a bit of dementia or memory loss starts creeping in. They may say one thing and mean another. Maybe this is where we should not judge because we honestly can’t get inside someone’s head to measure their faith.

    Can you really get inside the head of an infant yet somehow you advocate baptizing them. If that is the case, when your mom gets to the point of complete Alzheimer dementia, will you baptize her and if not why not?

  106. MLD,

    I was answering Josh on the question of whether the early creeds and confessions spoke about Jesus as the Son of God.
    Josh is not a creedal Christian as Baptists reject the authority of creeds, last time I checked…but he affirms the theology in them.

  107. I know a man who’s almost 80 who just came to faith…after a lifetime of thinking Christianity was the province of blithering idiots.

    He still thinks most of us are,but he’s grown enamored of Christ…

  108. Steve – a couple of things – my mother who will be 91 in a couple of months and my wife’s mother who will be 94 next month are sharp as pins – especially Facebooking and playing words with friends 🙂 Both are tremendously active – my mother even goes to her Jewish temple a couple of times a week and doesn’t believe in their god either.

    But you confuse baptism – which is a work of God and not the person receiving it. So if it be an infant or an unconscious old person, the promise of salvation is in the water mixed with the word – not in a person’s mind.

  109. The man in your number 107 has perhaps a greater insight into Christendom as a babe the most of us probably ever will. Blithering idiots! I can own that one…

  110. Reading #70 the song running thru my head is…
    “Love was when God became a man … Just a carpenter and some fishermen…..”
    We like to debate what God becoming a man means … We might spend more time in awe of the fact and quit trying to dissect the process? 😶 mebbe?

    My son once related to me that a friend had asked him how a god worthy of worship could consign a soul who had never heard of Jesus to hell. While not “doctrine,” i replied that God will judge us on how we’ve responded to what we have heard. From Adam on there seems to be a record of responding – submission or rebellion – pride or humility….
    But bottom line is, IMV, we don’t get to adjudicate God… The Holy (absolute perfection in every facet of being) God judges everything and that includes us..

  111. #110 Em

    “But bottom line is, IMV, we don’t get to adjudicate God…”

    And we get in trouble when we try…

  112. Michael’s #107 has me dancing. 🙆 !

    How many have been chased away from Christ by hostile folk claiming to be children of God? I suspect many who have come to Christ had to run the gauntlet to get there… Gives me pause… I pray i haven’t done that to anyone, but truthfully i’m not certain i haven’t

  113. Have you guys found non-Christians to be better people than Christians?

    I haven’t.

  114. “____ isn’t a God hater, but ____ has very good reasons to hate those who claimed to represent Him in her life.”

    Exactly why #JesusNeedsNewPR

    …and grace & love always wins

  115. “Have you guys found non-Christians to be better people than Christians?”

    “Better people” = concern for the poor, the sick, the lonely, the elderly, the immigrants, especially those who have their child literally ripped from the mother’s breast

    Yes, indeed, I have.

    They do not swear blind allegiance to The GOP, Trump or the racist ideals which are expressed in MAGA

  116. Josh the B… I don’t think non Christians are better people (some are in their dealings with their fellow man), but we haven’t conquered the wolves in our flocks, either.

  117. Josh,

    I’ve seen plenty of saints and scoundrels on both sides…

  118. GMan,

    If you go down to the border where these things are happening you will find that the persons who’ve been there the longest and have invested the most resources are Christians…as my terribly missed mentor said “They’re the only ones who are doing a (expletive deleted) thing to help anyone.” He was not in the habit of complimenting people of faith…but he was committed to the truth as he saw it.

  119. As a matter of fact, Chuck was instrumental in raising money to help keep some of those missions afloat.

    If you are deported to Mexico, the government isn’t waiting to help.

    The church is.

    On this side of the border the real warriors on the front line are Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox men and women living Jesus centered lives poured out for migrants and those seeking asylum.

    Maybe Jesus doesn’t need new PR as much as we need to start focusing on what His quiet kids are doing…

  120. “Maybe Jesus doesn’t need new PR as much as we need to start focusing on what His quiet kids are doing…”

    Bingo.

  121. “concern for the poor, the sick, the lonely, the elderly, the immigrants, especially those who have their child literally ripped from the mother’s breast”

    Wonder if I can think of a Christian charity?
    A Christian home for the elderly?
    A Christian reponse to he border issues in the last week?

    NAh, probably not.

  122. Appreciate the last few comments folks! That is true faith.

  123. “Have you guys found non-Christians to be better people than Christians?”

    That’s a pretty much meaningless question, iMHO. It would pretty easy to cite
    evidence for each, but so what?

    Do we know the hearts of anyone else, let alone our own?

  124. AG Jeff Sessions said basically that it is biblical to separate children from their families.

    Even Franklin Graham isn’t buying this blasphemy.

    And some people think God is gonna bring down fire and brimstone because if abortion and gay marriage.

  125. bob1 – The Christian bashing got to be a bit much for me. We aren’t better, but we defintiely aren’t worse.

    It all comes of judemental and holier-than-thou.

  126. FWIW – Sessions was speaking in terms of following the laws of the land… Tracing the problem to its source, it is our paralytic do-nothings that we’ve sent to Congress who have written terrible laws – how can we move them to act intelligently, repeal and replace our immigration law?…?… I suppose an I.Q. test that places one at least at 115 in all categories will never be a requirement to hold office … sigh
    I think we are already seeing God giving our nation over to reprobate minds… and He may be firing a few other shots across the bow of the ship of state … Dunno

  127. The fellow above is Scott Hicks who is both a pastor and an immigration lawyer.

  128. The problem is that Sessions is well aware that people applying for asylum haven’t broken any laws!

    The narrative that these folks are criminals has worked well…it’s a lie, but it’s working

    Sessions is one good reason why I could never be a universalist…

  129. There is only one way to solve this issue. Since we are too broken, evil and incompetent to handle this and it is obviously sinful to put the immigrants through such experiences, we must bus all incoming immigrants to Canada where they will be well taken care of, loved and assimilated into Canadian society and culture.

    This is also a chance for our Canadian neighbors to shine and show us how it is done. We will pay for all meals and transportation.

    I think it is workable, humane and can be considered an act of Christian charity, The quality of life for these immigrants will be greater than life in the US.

  130. This stuff (along with some other stuff) has me too depressed to even write.
    They keep raising the cruelty bar to see if we’ll object.
    Try to educate folks even on one salient point…the fact that the asylum seekers have broken no American law…and you get called everything but holy and nobody hears.

    There’s not much point in trying anymore…

  131. and MLD just confirmed my point…I think we’re shutting this show down for a while.

  132. From where i sit it seems that it is incumbent upon our churches to help these people trying to flee their dangerous countries. I read that 16 candidates in Mexico’s coming election have been murdered so far. Yes, i know theses immigrants in question are coming from further south…. Two questions trouble me, however…
    1 – the great numbers seem to be too much for our nation to handle in many ways
    2 – this is tough thinking, i know, but i question whether the fact that your native land is lawless and, therefore, dangerous is justification for these mass migrations into another country.

    As the host country may not be able to handle such large numbers of people by absorbing them or even processing them does reality override compassion as sorrowful as it may be? I dont know, but it is a problem worthy of prayer cover. That much i do know…

    God keep

    BTW, MLD, i read that Canada has pulled in their welcome mat.. So don’t waste your money on those busses. 😳

  133. Mine was a sincere comment and I have been floating it around social media for a couple of months. We are incapable of fixing this issue in the near future and I think to subject immigrants to another generation of this is inhumane.

    Send them where they can be welcomed and have a chance at that better life. It will not happen here.

  134. Em,

    The number of candidates murdered so far is 113.

  135. 124

    Yes, it was nauseating to hear Jeff Sessions quote Rom. 13:1.

    It’s the same passage many slaveowners and their ministers used to
    justify slavery in the mid-19th century in the US.

    It’s called Scripture twisting. It has a long, sad history in the Church.

  136. ““Maybe Jesus doesn’t need new PR as much as we need to start focusing on what His quiet kids are doing…”

    Bingo.”

    Bingo!
    Bingo!

  137. Agreed bob1 (136). I was lead to this story about Sessions and his bible-twisting by a twitter account I follow (a well-known progressive Christian author).

    Sad that those who are considered “barely Christian” or not saved at all, are the one calling BS on this issue.

  138. I don’t want to change the subject…oh wait, yes I do! 🙂

    Acts 20:17-38 is a beautiful and heartbreaking passage of scripture. Don’t know why, but when I read it this morning, it seemed particularly poignant.

  139. “Have you guys found non-Christians to be better people than Christians?”

    There’s a lot of good Christians out there. Just ask them.

  140. We spend a lot of time accusing the brethren.

  141. That should let you know that Jesus is real. Without supernatural involvement, whay would someone wan tto be a part of such an inloving family?

  142. I will let Bonhoeffer speak for me:

    “I often ask myself why a “Christian instinct” often draws me more to the religionless people than to the religious, by which I don’t in the least mean with any evangelizing intention, but, I might almost say, “in brotherhood.”

  143. Sounds like New Testament Christianity to me.

  144. Allowing the Apostle Paul to speak:

    “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.”

    Or Jesus:

    “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.”

  145. Josh I find unbelievers to be more human and sympathetic to weakness and failure. In my circle there is a constant pressure to do “great things” and “get better” for God while denying the realty of sin and weakness. This is not meant to be an accusation, just an observation.

  146. I need help being one with other Christians. No doubt. It’s a lonely place to be.

  147. I have been guilty of this same judgemental spirit. It feels so good to look at our brothers and sisters, turn up our noses and say “At least I’m not like one of them”.

    I now see it as what it is: sin. I will be repenting.

  148. “Josh I find unbelievers to be more human and sympathetic to weakness and failure”

    I see unbelievers attacking weakness like rabid dogs, every day.

  149. “I see unbelievers attacking weakness like rabid dogs, every day.”

    I see that too. I should mention I deal with anxiety and depression and that paints how I see things. So take my observations with a grain of salt. I am pessimist by nature. I’d like to think it makes me a realist. It’s not a desired trait in the land of happy-clappy.

  150. Joel – I am not speaking to you direclty.

    I’ve been on medication for depression for the past 19 years. I understand the struggle.

  151. Josh you’re going to make a good pastor. 🙂

    I will step out. Back to regularly scheduled blogging….

  152. Joel no need to step out. I intend on trying to change the subject again soon 🙂

  153. Great words and fellowship Josh and JoelG.. I too am in the Fellowship of the Broken.

  154. Dan, this may not be a church, but it’s a good place for us to find fellow broken believers like us and listen and share.

    Let’s not ever give up the faith. As Jason Stellman writes in his book Misfit Faith:

    “I’d rather suck at something awesome than be awesome at something that sucks.”

    Poetic. 😉

  155. Amen JoelG! Great quote too!

  156. Dan and Joel, honored to be included among your ranks.

  157. Thank you Josh and Dan

  158. Do schools (middle and high school) still hold pep rallies? Someone mentioned the happy clappy churches… It seems to me that this approach is no different than a pep rallye and just fosters loyalty to the clan – has nothing that helps a Christian to grow in either knowledge of or stability in the Faith.. Not saying that there aren’t spontaneous happy clappy, get up and dance moments …. moments when some wonder of God’s goodness, His character just stun us – BUT those moments are not the necessary outward manifestation of the Christian way of life… IMNSHO. again 😇
    1 Cor. 13:1-13 describes a Christian living as God designed and i’m on this tablet thing or i’d post the whole chapter … It is our spiritual thermometer 😊

    Just sayin… again. (quoting an old dusty sign-off again)

  159. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, Oh God, thou wilt not despise Psalm 51:17

    I think we need to hold onto the result “contrite” – it doesn’t say beat down to extinction – isn’t the consequence of coming to the end of ourselves dependence on our Creator, our Savior? I don’t have much patience with a church that isn’t focused on the Triune God. Tell us what we have in a relationship One on one as a child of God. Pastor, please don’t get between me and God. Just teach me about our God.
    At least that’s the church i want to be a part of…. I think that makes your church a holy place, a place that feeds my soul to do those good works…

  160. Very interesting discussions. First VP Pence appearing at SBC had market and branding value and that is all that matters so I dont get why people get upset. The entire event is political from the massive overreaction to “revoice” with Janet Mefferd and Steve Camp leading the charge. It really is simple if people disagree with how other consenting adults live their lives dont live your life that way. In the filed I am in there is are a lot of people who are gay and transgendered. They are far more conservative than me who just want to live in peace. They are fine human beings and great teachers, aids, administrators etc. Many of them are devout Christians and they live a single celibate life, as I do. In the “world”, I was kidded one time about my “lifestyle”, in my faith communities it was a constant rebuff and rebuke about me not being married and accused of all sorts of silly things. My reason for being single is simple. I was the primary care provider for four of my family members for most of my adult life from 18 to 52, after that my health was an issue and I just did not have the energy. Another big reason, probably the most significant is I lacked financial resources. I did struggle with a rather nasty bought of depression after all of my family but my one brother had died. I am deeply and personally ashamed of that.

    As for the pope, It always bothered me, it should not have but it did, that I was responsible for my family members going to hell because I did not live good enough, did not preach to them enough, did not have enough faith, was not studied in the Word, was not (fill in the blank). It does something to U when one believes deep in their soul that they will be responsible, personally, for a family member being tormented for all eternity in the presence of the Lamb to His eternal Glory. I cant even wrap my mind around it any more. I struggle with it more because the individuals I work (ed) do not have the cognitive ability to grasp every single Gospel distinctive and the bible is clear about people continuing to sin are not of God. Not believing correctly about Jesus substitutionary atonement, hypostatic union, the Trinity, the 5 sola’s etc. Get one even slightly wrong and God’s eternal Wrath is upon you. I struggled/struggle with that, I should not, as one of my faith brothers told me I should have that stuff nailed down in the backyard maybe 1 month after conversion or sooner.

    In my personal experience, it was considered right to tell kids, grieving wives, grieving family that their loved one is suffering that very second in eternal torment waiting for the white throne judgment when God would give them a new body to be sent back into the lake of fire. In fact, they went into great detail about how God would torment them. It was hard to fathom just how much God hated us, I mean so deeply and totally. Then there were the students I work with and how I just could not see God that way. I see God as a loving Father, an ever creating artist, a seeking of that which is lost because God can be overjoyed like any parent when a child “gets it”. I never really had an issue with God hating me, but I just dont have the ability to see that same hate for other people.

    The pope just wanted to give a little kid some peace, in my old evangelical days that was seen with such a horrid disgust. Kids should be told the hard truth about God’s eternal wrath even at 4 or even earlier. They should be literally terrified of God and His holiness and anger at sin and at the vast majority of all of humanity. I never understood that type of deity and I sure would not worship it.

  161. That evangelical “honesty” is curious on light of the fact that some evangelicals ate former RCC who were turned off by the “guilt” they perceived and now feel free with grace.

    Truthfully, there’s a line in trying to walk with my own little kids. What’s age appropriate? What is right?

  162. It doesn’t have four walls, but it is the church. neighbors…

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