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  1. I watched Scrooged last night so I am now officially in the Xmas spirit. I am hanging The Lights this morning and getting The Tree this afternoon. 🙂

  2. The Dude says:

    A request for prayer…..His name is Kirk and he is in the hospital on a ventilator.He had surgery this week and he’s very sick.He’s going to have a long road to recovery.Kirk is a believer.

  3. jlo says:

    praying for Kirk

  4. We will soon have a country where cops can only arrest their own race.

  5. Donner says:

    Brian Brodersen preached at Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale on Wednesday. Here’s a link:

  6. Donner says:

    The link didn’t copy. If you’re interested in the sermon, you can go to CCFTL’s web site, then click Media for the most recent sermons.

  7. JonnyB says:

    Father every day miracles are possible. We ask for a miracle healing of our brother Kirk in Jesus name.

    We are thankful for the hope we have in You.

    ***
    Spurgeon nailed it!

    Kind of fits the recent comments on the state of “Christ-bookstores,” with their best sellers as opposed to Michael’s fine list of books with meaty learning and wisdom.

    Lonnie Frisbee, in 1992, said the people no longer want the preaching of the cross or the gospel message.

    Look how popular some “prosperity churches” are and how people fill them.

    While solid doctrinal gospel based churches are struggling.

    We need to wake ourselves up and start hungering for God.

  8. Northstar says:

    Cant believe the Vikings lost today

  9. Jean says:

    This 8 minute video by a leading Wesleyan theologian presents a Wesleyan view of salvation and eternal security. I suspect the Reformed and Lutherans each would object, perhaps in different ways, to some or all of this view, and I am interested in their objections (and why). I also wonder how this view agrees or disagrees with the CC, Baptist and OE views (to the extent there are institutional standard views). Thanks.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2014/12/15/on-eternal-security-freedom-and-the-role-of-behavior-in-salvation/?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=bibleandculture_121514UTC021218_daily&utm_content=&spMailingID=47625264&spUserID=Nzg4MDUyODc5MDgS1&spJobID=582903203&spReportId=NTgyOTAzMjAzS0

  10. Michael says:

    I don’t have time to completely exegete that video this morning, but from Reformed view it’s close to heresy and very close to Romanism.
    It made me almost physically ill to listen to it.
    He cherry picks verses and then constructs a a whole theology around conflating justification with sanctification.
    Maybe i should sit in front of my computer and take all the verses that speak of justification by grace through faith and NOT by works and help him understand the difference between justification and sanctification.

    I’ve been thinking for a while that I needed to do a little PDF lesson on Romans 4-5…which begins with;

    “What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:
    “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.””
    (Romans 4:1–8 ESV)

    I could rail against what was taught in that video for hours and from many angles all with biblical based reasons…but the main issue is that he has traded the amazing grace of God in salvation for his idol of libertarian free will.
    What’s left is no Gospel at all.
    The ironic part is that there is no freedom in that doctrine…you are forever chained to trying to be good enough to merit the grace of God…and the Bible is clear that none of us are.
    That’s a prison only the real Gospel can break you out of.

    Works are important, behavior is important…but it is grace alone that saves the sinner.

    You asked… 🙂

  11. Jean says:

    #11,

    I did ask, and anticipated your reply. Thanks you.

    What typically happens is that one side gives his/her verses and the other side accuses the first side of cherry picking verses, while at the same time giving his/her own verses. However, we never seem to get to a holistic view which affirms all the verses. Without, engagement of the verses, which point to the other side, the conversation does not reach it’s full potential. It remains primarily rhetoric.

  12. Michael says:

    Depends on who “we” is.
    You’re not going to get a full, biblical, systematic theology on a blog
    All the various traditions believe they have a holistic theology.

    The Reformed, Lutherans, Orthodox, and Roman Catholics have engaged all of these verses in thousands of volumes for hundreds of years.

    The Wesleyans have produced some as well.

    Reproducing that volume of material is beyond the scope of what is possible on a blog.

  13. I don’t think it’s helpful to call Ben Witherington and the entire Wesleyan tradition near heretics, though I think he is in error.

    The big flaw in Witherington’s argument is that he draws a false conclusion. i.e., Since these type of sinners will not go to heaven, they must have lost their salvation along the way. There is a much easier way to answer that question: That those who continue to act in that way were never truly saved.

    From article V. of the Baptist Faith and Message:

    “All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.”

  14. Michael says:

    Josh,

    Let me be more careful…I do distinguish between judging a systematic theology and those who hold to it.
    As I wrote “from a Reformed perspective”…it doesn’t get much worse than what Witherington was saying.
    As I’ve said many times in the past there are true Christians in every tradition…but I would never allow that doctrine to be preached in our church.

  15. Jean says:

    Josh,

    I am aware of the “answer” in your #14. That is a significant point of engagement between the two views. The most thorough treatment in support of that answer that I’ve come across is in the book: Still Sovereign: Contemporary Perspectives on Election, Foreknowledge, and Grace, edited by Schreiner and Ware. From what I can derive on a purely exegetical basis, the issue boils down to the interpretation of 2 or 3 Greek words.

  16. Jean, I didn’t purport to be offering you anything new, only giving you the Baptist view that you asked for.

    I disagree that the issue boils down to 2 or 3 Greek words, as I see it flow through every book of the Bible. The error, in my opinion, would be to focus on those 2 or 3 words, rather than the entire canon.

  17. Jean says:

    Josh,
    I agree with you that the issue shouldn’t be settled by focusing on 2 or 3 words, but was reporting on where the focus of the book I referred to concentrated. I agree that the entire canon should be respected.

    Also, thank you for providing the Baptist view. Although I was aware of the view, I didn’t associate it with the Baptists until now.

  18. Traditionally, with issues of soteriology, Baptists fall dead in the middle of Calvinists and Arminians.

  19. Jean says:

    Josh,
    Rather than ask you to spend a lot of time fleshing that “middle” out, is there a resource available online that I could read to get an understanding of the Baptist views of soteriology?

  20. Em says:

    coming off of reading Michael’s #11 with what is, perhaps, a perverse ponder…
    works justification circumvents humility and confession as one’s focus is on “doing,” not “being,” a Christ-filled person… maybe one has to be female to fully understand the freedom that comes in trusting and responding to love (which is expressed to us by God in grace in all its provisions)… ? … no, i don’t think so… just pondering… again

  21. Jean says:

    The only thing perverse was in #11 itself. Ad hominem comments rarely shed any light on a topic or accurately reflect an opposing view point.

  22. Michael says:

    Jean,

    You posted a video that was from a very distinct tradition and asked for comment on it.
    When you get the comment you asked for, it is called ‘perverse”.
    If that’s how you want to play…don’t ask.

  23. Jean says:

    Michael,
    If you don’t recognize the difference between a respectful counter-response, such as #14, and a disrespectful, dismissive invective, then perhaps you should do some careful reflection.

    “from Reformed view it’s close to heresy and very close to Romanism. It made me almost physically ill to listen to it. He cherry picks verses and then constructs a whole theology around conflating justification with sanctification.”

    I think you’re capable of more grace and intellectual rigor.

  24. Michael says:

    Jean,

    Read carefully.
    From a theological standpoint to a Reformed theologian what Witherington presented was close to heresy…in fact theologians over the last five centuries from both traditions have called the other camps theology heresy.
    I don’t go that far, but there is no disguising the very real differences we have.

    It is very close to Roman soteriology in our view as it conflates justification with sanctification and is completely synergistic.
    Reformed theology is completely monergistic in regard to justification and synergistic in sanctification.
    The two theologies are utterly incompatible.
    Let me say this for the umpteenth time…there are good and holy Christians in all the Christian traditions…but there are good reasons why we attend different churches.
    I affirm the faith of all who name the name of Christ, but I don’t embrace all the different theological perspectives we hold.
    You wanted a Reformed perspective and that’s what I gave you.
    As a pastor I believe that what I consider to be works based righteousness to be a killer of both joy and assurance and an endless treadmill of hoping that one can be good enough…while knowing all the while that we aren’t.
    Works based righteousness does cause a visceral response in me…as it did for Luther and Calvin and the Reformers.
    That doesn’t mean we don’t think sanctification and works are unimportant, it means that we put them in the category they belong in.

  25. Xenia says:

    Dr. Witherington’s talk could have been a homily at an Orthodox Church. What he said is exactly what we believe.

  26. Xenia says:

    We are unapologetically synergistic, of course.

  27. Xenia says:

    Apart from CS Lewis, John Wesley is probably the most respected Protestant theologian/ writer. (Not sure you can call Lewis a theologian.)

  28. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    My point exactly.
    Please correct me if I’m wrong but the differences between Orthodox and Roman Catholic soteriology are minimal in this regard.

  29. I have only watched the first couple of minutes and need to run into a meeting – but I need to know – how many times can I get drunk before I lose my salvation? and what is the acceptable level of drunkenness?? Breath a lyzer .08 or acting goofy?

    When he uses the 3 tenses for being saved – when he says “I am being save” – would he not better be saying, “I am continually keeping myself saved.”?? If I keep myself saved, yes as Michael said… that would be problematic.

  30. Xenia says:

    Michael, I don’t know enough about RCC soteriology to say other than to note that the RCC are more into bean-counting of sins whereas the EO is not especially systematic. Basically, Roman Catholicism is legalistic Orthodoxy. They have a lot of specific rules; we have a lot of general principles.

    But of course I am not offended by having my beliefs compared favorably with those of the Roman Catholics. They are closest to us in their core doctrines, which from what I can tell, none of them seem to believe in anymore.

  31. Xenia says:

    Let’s put it this way: I have much more in common with a *traditional* Roman Catholic than I do with any other flavor of Christian. I have almost nothing in common with most modern Catholics.

  32. Xenia says:

    MLD, don’t make me tell the Mom-in-the-kitchen-baking-cookies parable again!

    🙂

  33. Jean says:

    MLD,
    If Witherington were merely making stuff up, he could change the words to whatever might support his argument. But if he is an honest theologian, then he would use the words he used because, for example, St. Paul used those same words at least 3 times in his letters to the Corinthians, Including here:

    “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.”

  34. Xenia says:

    How many times can I get drunk….

    How many times does the Lord tell us to forgive? Seven times? Seventy x seven?

    He will forgive us an infinite number of times.

    When we get so callous that we no longer repent or ask His forgiveness, then we are in trouble of completely falling away from the faith.

    We all know people who began well but defiantly renounced God. Unbelievers don’t go to heaven.

  35. Xenia says:

    However, MLD, the “how many times can I do X” is reflective of Roman Catholic bean-counting.

  36. Steve Wright says:

    I believe in the three tenses of salvation, as I see them taught in Scripture.

    We have been saved from the penalty of (all) our sins. – Justification

    We are being saved from the power of sin to control our lives – Sanctification

    We will be saved from the presence of sin one day – Glorification

    So I guess I side with Michael in stating the “error” seems to be confusing justification and sanctification

  37. Andrew says:

    “Reformed theology is completely monergistic in regard to justification and synergistic in sanctification.”
    ____________________________________________________________________

    Michael so if I understand correct, Reformed theology is a mix. If you add a tad bit of monergism and a pinch of synergism, doesn’t that make the whole batch synergistic? After all isn’t it at the end of your life when the sanctification process is all wrapped up that’s going to matter ultimately? I am under the opinion that the entire kit and Kaboodle is mongergistic. This statement probably needs to be nuanced somewhat but I still stand by it.

  38. Jean says:

    Josh,

    The article you linked at #21 was an excellent succinct summary. Thank you. The only article that somewhat puzzled me was Article Four (see below).

    “Article Four: The Grace of God
    We affirm that grace is God’s generous decision to provide salvation for any person by taking all of the initiative in providing atonement, in freely offering the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in uniting the believer to Christ through the Holy Spirit by faith.

    We deny that grace negates the necessity of a free response of faith or that it cannot be resisted. We deny that the response of faith is in any way a meritorious work that earns salvation.”

    My question is: What is the difference between a “free response of faith” and a “meritorious work”? I think a Wesleyan would agree with Article Four, but I could see where a different tradition might object by saying that a free response of faith is intrinscally a meritorious work. How would you (or anyone else) respond to that argument?

  39. Michael says:

    Andrew,

    At the end of the day we would be close to agreement…because any obedience that we are capable of is only possible through the grace of God.
    You’re well on your way to becoming a confessional Lutheran… 🙂

  40. Michael says:

    Jean,

    The Reformed would simply go to John 6 where it states that none can come except those who are called, all who are called will come, and none that come will be lost.

    Then we’d pour ourselves a shot and read some Calvin.

  41. Jean says:

    I would propably join you for that shot; may not feel like reading afterwords, however. 🙂

  42. Michael says:

    Steve,

    We would be in basic agreement on what you lined out.

  43. Michael says:

    Jean,

    My guess is that if you actually read Calvin you might be surprised…or maybe not.

  44. OK, I am out of my meeting. It was preordained to be boring … and it was my meeting.:-)

    Here is my point in asking the question I did (how many times) and making the statement (the tenses) – what is Witherington’s motivation for making that blog video? That would be most telling.

    Second, he does the error of many – he assumes something that is not true and throws it into the discussion. I know of no one who doesn’t say behavior is important or that behavior is not a result of proper beliefs.

    Can anyone here from Witherington’s position tell me of a Christian group that encourages “act as you will.”?

  45. Jean says:

    Michael,

    Is there anything roughly equivalent to the Book of Concord for Calvinists? I am willing to take you up on your recommendation, but I would ask for a recommendation for a single book of doctrine or confessions, which would represent authentic (in your judgment) Calvinism.

  46. Michael says:

    Jean,

    The simplest way would be to read through some Calvinistic confessions.

    The Synods of Dort, the Heidelberg and Westminster Confessions are good places to start.

    I love Calvin’s Institutes because they are pastoral as well as theological, but that’s too much for most folks…and they aren’t as broad as the confessions.

  47. Michael says:

    Keep in mind as well that Calvinism isn’t as monolithic in thought as confessional Lutheranism.

  48. I was gonna answer Jean, to know what John Calvin thought, read the Institutes of Christian Religion…BUT! To learn what calvinists believe, you’ll have to read the Remonstrants.

  49. Jean says:

    MLD,

    Regarding your first question: Of course I didn’t ask him, but this video is what I understand to be a regular weekly broadcast called “Seven Minute Semminary” made by Asbury Semminary a conservative Wesleyan semminary, where different professors give short layperson oriented talks on a variety of theological issues. Right now, Asbury is on the side vehamently against same sex marriage and gay/lesbian ordination. I got a certain sense (maybe just my imagination) that in the video Witherington was taking a shot against some of the pro-same sex marriage, gay/lesbian ordination proponents.

    Regarding your second question, when he says that behavior is important, he is not saying that other people don’t think behavior is important (so I think you’re wrongly interpreting him). He is talking about ultimate salvation. So, when he says that behavior is important, he is saying that as St. Paul did (in Witherington’s view) behavior can impact final salvation. In this respect, there are people, then, who don’t view behavior as having any impact on the salvation of a Christian.

  50. Andrew says:

    Michael,
    I am not a confessional Lutheran yet but so far I seem to agree with what I know. I never read the Lutheran confessions. Is the Book of Concord pretty much it? Is it a tough read?

  51. Jean says:

    Andrew,
    The Book of Concord is available free online and, while the online version uses some older English, it’s relatively accessible. Lot’s of Biblical citation and nicely organized.

  52. Andrew,
    There are other resources but acceptance of the Book of Concord is the ONLY thing that makes you a Lutheran.

  53. Xenia says:

    Lutheran Satire on the RC and the EO: (very true!)

  54. Hans Fiene knows how to get to the root of the issue in 2 1/2 min. His videos are great.

    A note to be taken – this was really a shot at the ELCA and Worldwide Lutheranism who signed the Joint Declaration with Rome back in 1998. They were sucker punched thinking the Pope would move one inch from Trent.

    Watch out EO – don’t join back up with the Anti Christ.

  55. Xenia says:

    Watch out EO – don’t join back up with the Anti Christ<<<

    If you had to pick one topic that never ends on EO/ RC forums, this is it.

    The Catholics think that if we would just humble ourselves and accept the supremacy of the Roman Pope everything would be fine.

    We say there is a lot more at stake that just the self-aggrandizement of the Bishop of Rome.

    For starters, the RCC permits liturgical atrocities like this: (I know most of you will not like the EO version very much either, but at least it's reverent.)

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHZtbnaXuGk&w=854&h=510%5D

  56. Xenia says:

    (The first part isn’t so bad. It’s the part at the end!)

  57. Xenia says:

    Skip to 5:40

    Catholics will say that this is not typical but the fact that it is permitted means the EO and the RC will never unite.

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