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Thursday, August 20, 2009
Yesterday, Tony Jones posted this sad statement on the shape of the Emerging Church. Sad in that it looks like there is little that now separates it from all of the other dying liberal American churches, or for that matter, Unitarian Universalists. Upon reading it, I immediately thought of Titus 1:15-16. One has to be incredibly spiritually warped to deny what God says clearly yet infer where there is no warrant. Reading the entire Bible as a discourse on human sexuality is a disturbing hermeneutical method, to say the least.


Steve Martin said...

When we throw out God's law, we are asking for God to remove His Lampstand from us.

Chris A said...

I read that article. Talk about doctrines of devils! When the EC phenomenon was first being discussed at ZFT, I thought they were going in this direction doctrinally. At the time, I tried to keep my opinions to myself since I was really ignorant about the whole movement. I don't know to what extent this "pastor" is representative of the EC folks in general, but this is highly apostate stuff. In my experience, I have never seen anyone repent from this degree of error. When a person gets into this arena of heresy, they are generally there until the judgment of God rubs them out. I pray that God have mercy on this man and reveal the light of the true Gospel that Satan has blinded this man from seeing.

Darius said...

Amen to both of you.

Chris, I'm not sure of the author's involvement in the EC, but Tony Jones, the guy passing it along to his readers as a "thoughtful, reasonable, pastoral comment" is the former head of the Emergent Village and one of the core leaders of the EC today.

Yes, it does seem that when one goes into that bad of theological error, they rarely if ever recover. Of course, God warned us of this in Hebrews 6 and Romans 1, I believe. He is not long mocked.

Chris A said...

Well Romans 1 certainly tells us this:

21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened...26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

I believe the Hebrews 6 passage is specifically speaking about going back into Judaism after having received Christ, but I think you're right that it could absolutely be applied here as well, assuming this guy was ever saved in the first place.

Darius said...

Not that I want to get into this topic, but one is never "saved in the first place" if they later reject Christ. Christ doesn't save and then let some fall away by their own choice. All who are called and respond are held tightly in His hand. Some may temporarily wander slightly from the truth or fall back into old habits, but in the end, Jesus still holds him. He saves, He sanctifies, He justifies, He transforms our hearts. We can recognize from this guy's fruit that he either never heard the true gospel or, like the seeds thrown on the rocks in Matthew 13, has no God-given root within him and has fallen away from the Truth. Either way, he never came to a true repentant faith in Christ. He was not born again. It is not possible for someone who has tasted of what the Holy Spirit offers, has heard the Word preached, and yet has chosen to exchange the Word for a lie to be born again. If he ever is born again, it is yet in his future (but the Scriptures seem to indicate that is highly unlikely).

Chris A said...

Well, let's look at Hebrews 6 closely:

4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

So let's answer this question first of all: To whom is this letter written, and to whom specifically is the writer of Hebrews referring? Obviously this is written to Hebrew Christians, and specifically those who 1)were once enlightened 2)have tasted the heavenly gift 3)have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit 4)have tasted the good word of God, and 5)have tasted the powers of the age to come.

In my view, not every Christian qualifies. In other words, not every believer fits this description. But those who do, if they should reject Christ outright in favor of another religious system (Judaism in this case), they are in dangerous territory and are awaiting the judgment of God. Lets look at verses 7 and 8:

7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; 8 but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.

Here we see those that rejected Christ are themselves being rejected and "burned". Fire is typical of God's judgment. Does this mean eternal judgment as in hell? Well, that is up for debate since the scripture doesn't explicitly say so in this verse, but certainly a person who was "once enlightened" and therefore "saved" could "fall away" such that they could not be "renewed to repentance".

The word "saved" is used in different ways in the New Testament. I don't have time to get into all that. Maybe I'll elaborate another time and address the deeper question of "eternal security" that you seem to be speaking about.

Chris A said...

Back to the "eternal security" question. Let me state my position clearly: I believe that it is possible (albeit unlikely in most instances) that a person could "lose" his salvation. The word "lose" is really unfortunate because it suggests something passive. So I actually don't think anyone loses his salvation, really. Am I confusing you yet? I believe that a person can outright reject the free gift. In doing so, he does not lose it per se; he just makes clear that he doesn't want it, or makes a decision whereby he is preferential to the praise of men instead. So what is the "unpardonable sin" here? Rejecting Jesus, since he is the only Way to the Father.

Now I've been on either side of the issue, and I'm not hostile to "eternal security" Calvinists at all. And I'm not loyal to the Arminian tradition either. I just think the Bible has to have the final word. If it is consistent with Calvinism or Arminianism, fine. (Both schools of thought have more in common than most people think anyway.) But I think it is inherently disingenuous to hold to a theological persuasion without being fully convinced that Scripture concurs, and I am not convinced that "once saved, always saved" is entirely consistent with the New Testament. Neither do I believe it can be made a black and white issue.

Going back to Hebrews 6, here is another thing: What does "renew to repentance" mean? Well, obviously it must be understood in light of the clear context in which it is written. Look at the first verse:

1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God...

So in context the repentance he is speaking of is in connection with the initial salvation experience. This is an "elementary principle" of Christian faith.

I believe that it is "impossible to renew them to repentance" because they harden their hearts toward God, not because God won't forgive them. In the historical context, the lines were drawn - either you were a Jew or a Christian, whether you were a Hebrew or a Gentile ethnically. So once you made up your mind to revert back to Judaism, it was pretty much a decision that you stuck with for familial or political reasons.

Anyway, this is my take here. I'm not going to be dogmatic about it. Certainly I believe I'm eternally secure. I'm not going reject Jesus and adopt some other religion in His place.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to cry when reading that. Seriously, Jones has completely lost it.

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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
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