GraceConversation.com

grace7I think we’ve finally gotten to the real issue: does the conservative branch of the Churches of Christ have a scriptural rationale for declaring as apostate (damned) those who disagree on certain hot-button issues? Hopefully, as we explore this question, we can talk more meaningfully about our disagreements on grace in general.

I asked Greg Tidwell to explain why he makes some doctrinal error salvation issues and some not. He responded that my demanding a checklist is legalistic. It’s been a long time since I’ve been called a legalist!

And so I responded that I don’t want a checklist. I just want to know why the checklists that he and others have published treat certain doctrinal error — but not all doctrinal error — as damning. To make the point, I posted excerpts from two of his published articles listing of doctrinal errors that damn.

Greg will be responding late this coming week. In the meantime, I challenged the conservative readership to offer their own explanations for why certain doctrinal errors damn. And I’m quite sincere. I’d love to see the best possible arguments posted at GraceConversation. If the conservative view of apostasy is right, surely someone out there can state the argument for it.

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8 Responses

  1. Jay,

    It is perfectly scriptural to say that some issues matter and some do not. If you reject the Lordship of Christ…that is a serious matter. If you think the Sabbath should still be observed, that is quite another. One is a salvation issue and the other is not (Rom 14).

    Now, the way we pick and choose which are the salvation issues and which are MUST be based on scripture (very, very clear scriptures…and not any that force you to jump through more than 2 flaming hoops of logic to conclude) and not on self (comfort zones in particular). Some people have a bad habit of thinking if it violates their comfort zone that it violates scripture. That is plain wrong.

    Scripture has to define which are key doctrines and which have flex room for differences of opinion.

    The other point I would like to make is that we have to be consistent with this. If someone says any error requires disfellowship (which is not a scriptural view, by the way) but then is inconsistent in application then they violate their own conscience. At least be consistent! Paul clearly teaches in Romans 14 that some doctrinal issues, no matter how much they are our pet issues, have wiggle room. Some do not.

  2. Jay,

    I was very skeptical about the graceconversation and it went right where I thought it would. Sorry to be so cynical but I have had the same questions and the same dialogue but to no avail. We did eventually get to the heart of the matter surprisingly we almost all agreed on almost all the basic propositions but what became very evident from the tangent ramblings was that the approach to scripture (mainly CENI and its associates) is the issue. In the very first post I said that I thought that only foundational issues such as Jesus being God in the Flesh would be salvation issues. For Phil and the others God has placed equal importance on the format of a worship service they also believe that the NT outlines specifically the acts that can occur and who may perform them. Though they will never admit that publicly in writing or verbally it is confirmed in context by their own rhetoric and polemics. When you ask them for things such as a list of what is damnable and what are not, they immediately start this smoke and mirrors routine with phrases such as “Let’s just let the Lord speak” or that “it plainly says”. They refuse to accept and attempt to address the inconsistencies and major flaws of the CENI/Silence/We Speak where the bible speaks and are silent where the bible is silent hermeneutics. They vehemently oppose IM but are ok with large expensive church buildings. They are willing state the IM may jeopardize someone’s soul but wiling explain away direct commands to great each other with a holy kiss, and to invite strangers into your house, and for women to wear head coverings and my favorite to raise holy hands. I was shocked when I read that Paul commanded men “to lift holy hands”. Wow I wonder why we never took that command literally. Probably in an effort to differentiate ourselves from the charismatic groups. Well until the traditional camp is wiling to listen to other possible approaches to scripture or address the inconsistency and flaws of the CENI and its cohorts this whole conversation is really a moot point. It only results in long discourses, hurt feelings, bruised spirits and deeper division. There are those who are willing to listen and that is the beauty of Jay’s blog it helps those who are genuinely seeking a “deeper understanding”. So I beg you Jay to continue your blog as it always has been, it has helped so many and is so productive in passing around good thoughts on how to do evangelism, minister, teach, and serve; and so on it truly spurs others on to good works. Please don’t let the graceconversation take away from the ministry this blog is for so many earnest wounded hearts, for unlike the graceconversation they are listening.

  3. Matt, you are absolutely right. As Todd pointed out in his book, the glaring inconsistences of how fellowship is handled should wake us up to the problem.

    For years I have accepted that my family has not properly responded to the message of the gospel according to the teaching of some brethren. I had to swallow that crushing realization before I was baptized.

    Yet, when it comes to withdrawing fellowship for sin, I have been shocked, dismayed, and disappointed how some have established ‘traditions’ to get out of the very standards they use ‘disfellowshipping others’. Truth is truth. I appreciate how Jay was able to narrow the discussion so quickly on graceconversation.com. I am looking forward to the continued discussion.

  4. Jay

    About all you have accomplished is to throw more gasoline on an already raging inferno. All sides ,and there are more than two, in their own opinion are right . Jesus must be weeping over the time lost in determining legal correctness while many souls are lost because you scholars don’t have time to teach evangelism.

    Also, do you teach legal correctness to those you immerse? These are but babes and they, including me for years had no idea of what you are talking about in you long list of style that lacked substance (examples or lists).

    In His last journey to Galilee, Jesus wept or had compassion over the dusty, tired and bewildered flock of souls that sought direction from him. The teachers and Pharasees did nothing for them with their long lists of immpossible rules. Jesus looked out and saw a vast field of souls and said the harvest is here but the workers are few.

    Please don’t be gullty of neglecting the lost

    Bob

  5. Bob,

    The very question being wrestled with is, “Who is lost?”

    I daresay none of the four brethren involved in the conversation are neglecting the lost. I know Brother Tidwell and Brother Guin oversee and encourage serious campus ministries in their communities (Alabama and Ohio State, with thousands of lost [or at least confused] young people). Brother Sanders has been a tireless teacher of young ministers in Nashville and is now working with a ministry in Oklahoma sharing the gospel with the lost. And Brother Deaver comes from a long line of ministers and missionaries, and honors both Christ and his heritage in his own life as a preacher and servant of the risen Lord.

    Perhaps the raging inferno will burn away some chaff and leave valuable matters clearly visible for us to deal with.

  6. Jay
    I have read with great intrest this conversation, and conclude that the “progressive brethern” are looking for comfort as they “cross the threshold” to IM.
    It seems to me you have won Gres’s argument for him. Please allow me to edit just a few words in one of your post

    If Jay can’t show from scripture why these particular errors do not damn, then isn’t he guilty of “self-made religion” (Col 2:23 NASB), adding to God’s word (Deu 12:32; Rev. 22:18-19), and teaching for doctrines the commandments of men (Matt 15:9 KJV)?
    If Jay can’t show from scripture why these particular errors do not damn, then by telling his readers that they are not guilty of these errors , isn’t he guilty of abiding not in the doctrine of Christ 2Jn. 9

  7. Jay,

    First, yes, I think I can show just that. My turn will come. Our agreement is that Greg and Phil will go first, state their position, and defend it from scripture. Todd and I will follow.

    But there’s a critical point I need to get across. Greg teaches a certain doctrine of apostasy. He publishes that teaching. It is only right that he defend it. I mean, no one should assert that X damns without being willing to explain from the Bible why that is true. The doctrine of apostasy is serious, serious business, and it would be disingenuous at best to argue that I can make whatever claims I want until someone shows me wrong. No, no one should make such claims without being prepared to defend those claims from scripture. (I’ve often stated my position on this site and defended it from scripture at length.)

    And I’m not implying that Greg is not prepared to give a defense. I’m sure that he is. I’m just saying that whoever makes the assertion should expect to go first to defend it. I mean, I’m not inclined to accept anyone’s assertions about the Bible unless they’ll tell me how they reached their conclusion. If you agree with him, I’m sure it’s for a Biblical reason. You should go over to GraceConversation and offer your own defense.

    You need to also realize that those particular accusations you paraphrase have been made routinely against the progressives. My point is that the arguments are a two-edged sword. It’s just as wrong to add to God’s word as to take from it. In fact, Matt 15:9 is speaking specifically to adding to God’s word, as is Gal 5:4.

    Now, there will come a time when Todd and I will need to present our own views, and we are prepared to do so. And I’m sure I’ll be held to the same standard — not because of anyone’s debating tactics, but because defining the Kingdom’s boundaries are serious business, and should not be undertaken by anyone unwilling to defend his views from the scripture. I wouldn’t want anyone to agree with me except because of the scriptural justification.

    And, I should add, that one reason both for this blog and GraceConversation. There’s no better way to test your theories than to open them up to inspection by people who don’t necessarily agree with you — the smarter and more knowledgeable the better. You see, if I’m wrong, I want to be shown wrong — by the scriptures.

  8. These verses pertain to the statement:

    “Scripture has to define which are key doctrines and which have flex room for differences of opinion.”

    Scripture plainly gives us freedom and liberty from legalism. The Issues that DO matter are plainly deliniated in scripture, all other “issues” are just opinion. What baffles me is why people who claim to follow Christ and His Word do not defer to His inspired word, but rather will twist it to fit their personal preference and opinion. That is plainly sin.

    Colossians 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a feast day or a new moon or a sabbath day:

    I Corinthians 8:9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to the weak.

    I Corinthians 10:29 conscience, I say, not thine own, but the other’s; for why is my liberty judged by another conscience?

    II Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

    Galatians 2:4 and that because of the false brethren privily brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:

    James 2:12 So speak ye, and so do, as men that are to be judged by a law of liberty.

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