Great post on how we should handle debate.
Interesting…He basically rips John Piper apart using scripture wrongly I might add in a fallacious manner to fit his argument-full of strawmans etc… I love how he used the story of Jesus in the temple acting out intentionally and not emotionally as if he knew John Piper’s heart was acting out emotionally and not intentionally furthermore what does “intentionally not emotionally” even mean? How can you act without emotion? How does he even know what was brewing inside Jesus than what scripture tells us? He is basing his presupposition on Jesus making the whip? Not only does that not prove anything that is bad hermeneutics but I digress to be fair he “ends” it by saying, he will give John Piper the benefit of the doubt but uses that “doubt” to show it could be misguided as self-righteousness further ripping him which would lend credence as to what this blogger’s intention was for writing this? Was he acting out intentionally or emotionally and if he is writing this blog “intentionally” in order to demonstrate how one shouldn’t handle a disagreement with criticism of another brother in Christ, well then isn’t that self-righteousness? so it wouldn’t matter if John Piper reacted emotionally or intentionally, they would both be sins. The true question is, did he react scripturally?
Furthermore this whole aritcle is rendered moot because the premise is that Christians should behave civil to one another afterall we are all brothers and sisters in Christ but there’s the rub. My camp never saw Rob Bell as a Christian, he is a pagan bringing in 'new age" philiosophy and reinventing Christianity. That goes way beyond abhorrent into heresy. He is not the first and he won’t be the last. We see Rob Bell as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The ironic part is the blogger believes that John Piper went too far when I and many others think John Piper didn’t go far enough scripturally.
I have some questions if anyone is willing to answer
Are there false teachers?
What constitutues a false teacher?
What does the bible tell us how to deal with false teachers?
I am not sure what made you so angry about the blog. It seemed like a pretty balanced and sensible article to me. Only a very small part of it referred to John Piper and it was hardly ripping him apart! I don’t think JP will lose any sleep over these comments. I’m not sure what you think is so scriptural about sending a tweet saying “Farewell Rob Bell” and a link to a condemnatory post about a book no one had read yet. I’m not condemning Piper, who is worthy of respect, but his tweet was at least clumsy and inappropriate.
As for your comment:-
“My camp never saw Rob Bell as a Christian, he is a pagan bringing in 'new age” philiosophy and reinventing Christianity. That goes way beyond abhorrent into heresy. He is not the first and he won’t be the last. We see Rob Bell as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The ironic part is the blogger believes that John Piper went too far when I and many others think John Piper didn’t go far enough scripturally."
… I wonder if you have actually read anything Bell has written or seen any of the Nooma DVDs. As an experienced and mainsteam Anglican Vicar, I’m very happy to use and recommend Bell’s materials as thoroughly Christian. I don’t agree with him on every point, but your statement is wildly inaccurate, to say the least!
“False Teacher” is a strong accusation, and some people use it too readily - often as a way of closing off discussion rather than engaging with the scriptural arguments of people who interpret scripture differently.
Thanks, great article!
Oxymoron is making a point and, in love, we need to enter into listening to hear his point. By listening deeply we invite him to consider his own views and some counter views. We can encourage him where we agree.
It seems to me that his point is that it is not a sin to decide that another person is a false prophet. And he may draw the line tighter than others. But that doesn’t in itself mean that he is wrong or in sin or a bad person. His stricter approach probably requires a bit of sacrifice as we live in a hyper tolerant age. This is hard, for intimacy on earth is in shorter supply when we don’t follow the path that most are following.
We should always try to be civil to people, whether Christian or not.
We are the body of Christ, and Christ loved the world first before any of us ever loved him. Civility does not necessitate being a theological, or philosophical junk drawer where anyone can throw anything into it - but on that same token, we should not be belligerent as much as we can help it…we are human and prone to anger, but even God’s anger does not last forever.
We rarely see those outside our camp as Christian. When I was a child people told me that Methodists were going to hell.
In your opinion who is acting scripturally; the Calvinist or the Arminians?
This statement seems to be in dispute on this forum where some think that Christ only loves the part(s) of us which are actually Himself in us.
I think Christ loves the good in us and hates the evil. It’s good because God made it, and God loves it because it’s good. Christian fellowship is blowing that spark into flame.
(I might be wrong, of course. I have friends who argue that my view is dualistic, removes the possibility of free will and makes God the author of evil.)
If you find something I write helpful, take it. If you find it unhelpful or annoying, then leave it. We’re all mere mortals here, hobbling along the road to our Father’s house. I fall into the ditch. Again. You trip over a log. Let’s help each other out. Together, we might find some sort of balance.
I’m more interested in whether God loves US or not. Christ died for us whilst we were sinners. I suppose I’m making the distinction that the scriptures seem to suggest that Christ Loves US, whilst you keep talking about whether Christ loves or hates what is IN us. I see that as an entirely different issue. Forget (for the moment ) what is IN us, I think its an extremely important question as to whether Christ loves US.
There may be many things IN me (some good, some bad) but do you think that CHrist loves the essential ME as I am NOW (in whatever state of Grace)?
If not, then I can no longer go to a stranger and say ‘God Loves You’
Didn’t God make US?
God does not love sin, I can agree with that. But WE are not sin. Sin is something we do, but doesn’t God love us (yes and hate the sin) despite of what we do?
Take it or leave it? Wow!
On a discussion forum?
Are we not here to learn from each other? I don’t think I’d learn much if I just ‘left’ any ideas I didn’t immediately like.
I couldn’t give a monkey’s if something is ‘annoying’ (or even if it might seem ‘unhelpful’) and I’m not sure why this strain of thought has occurred to you. What I want to learn is ‘truth’. Whether the truth hurts or not, whether I like it or not is irrelevant. I want more truth. It may be that your ideas on this issue are true and right. If that is the case then I need to embrace them.
One of the ways I learn to embrace ideas which are new to me is to test them, question them, consider carefully where they lead and whether they are in accordance with scripture.
I am grateful for you giving me some new thoughts and I am trying to be critical of the thoughts not the person behind the thoughts. If I was firmly convicted that they were not true, then I would not be continuing the discussion. It is precisely because I see the possibility that they MAY be true, that I give them hard and critical consideration.
I think the ramifications of your ideas are profound and extensive.
You make me feel as if you certainly don’t want to hear (read) any opposing ideas and would rather have your beliefs ‘left alone’. You don’t consider the possibility that you too might learn something through discussion?
I agree entirely.
I would say that God has given us all unique minds and that by exchanging ideas, discussing and challenging ideas and beliefs, we can ALL learn from each other by God’s grace and by the guidance of the Holy Spirit we may gain better knowledge of the truth. Isn’t this what we all want? Or is it that we just want to be proved right?
Please forgive me if I have come across as curt or ill mannered in some way. I see these issues as extremely important.
If I have understood you correctly, you do not believe it is correct to say to someone ‘God loves you’?
God bless you
Suppose I jumble John’s Gospel and Mein Kamph together, one word at a time. Hitler’s words I paint red, and John’s I paint blue. I then ask you if the book is good. You reply, “No, it’s not. It’s an evil mess and makes no sense whatsoever! But look… If I remove all the red words, a miracle happens! The book suddenly becomes very good indeed. You know what? I hate those red words! They spoil the book and make it evil. But I love the blue words. I’m going to delete the red, and save the blue.”
Human nature is a complete mess, but once all the red bits are deleted and the blue bits saved, then it will be very good indeed.
Jesus affirmed the confusion inherent in our nature when he said, “If you who are evil know how to give good gifts…” But if we are evil, why would we even want to give good gifts? Wanting to give good gifts sounds good, to me.
You can say it. If the true man is awake, he will hear God’s voice in your words. If not, he won’t.
In what sense did Jesus love the person he called a son of the devil? Can I suggest the evil in that man was so dominant and the good so deeply asleep, that there was nothing awake for Jesus to love. Jesus was not speaking to the true man, but to the evil shadow of that man. And of course, because the shadow was evil, it failed to hear the truth of Jesus words. As Paul said, the wisdom of the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing. They do not understand, nor can they, because the words are spiritually discerned. (But this is not the end of the story. “Hear, O Sleepers! Rise from the dead, and let the light shine on you.”)
When Adam fell, he changed. That change wasn’t God’s creation. Rather, it was an uncreation. Something formless and void, a darkness, entered into Adam. He was no longer single-minded, but of two minds. The same was true of Cain. God said, “Sin is crouching at your door. It desires to master you, but you must master it.” But Cain failed. So then. There is something about me which God made and loves, and something about me which God did not make. These two natures are in conflict.
If God hates the sin, he will also hate the part of me that wants to sin.
Once people get annoyed, rational discussion pretty much flies out the window. Chest-thumping begins. I’m too old for that sort of nonsense. (Did I mention that Grandchild No. 6 was born yesterday? )
Thanks. That’s encouraging to know.
I’m sorry I make you feel that way. I tend to write dogmatically, which is strange. I’m not particularly dogmatic in person. It must be annoying. In which case, leave it be.
The analogy is not a good one because the book is not a soul/spirit. We can find the same words and phrases in many books but there is only one ‘me’ in essence. I am a conscious being. My consciousness is not shared by you neither yours by me.
What I actually wrote was:
You now say that God DOES NOW LOVE the essential ME?
You now suggest that Jesus doesn’t love people if their good part is ‘asleep’???
And now you suggest that the evil bit is not really ‘the man’ but only an ‘evil shadow of the man’ hence the good bit is ‘the true man’??
What happened to your idea about mein kampf? That we are all a conglomerate of good and bad bits and that God only loves bits of us?
I don’t know of a part of me that WANTS to sin. Do you think there is a part of you that wants to sin? St Paul was clear about this.
I referred to your ‘Take it or leave it’ ultimatum and you reply:
Your own language is very emotive. Are you saying that you’re annoyed? Or are you claiming to read my heart? If I have put something irrational down, just point it out to me.
I think this personal talk is a distraction to healthy discussion on a crucial topic
You honestly can’t remember whether you posted about your grandchild? No you didn’t and I have no idea what the relevance is but I congratulate you and pray that you may not get too annoyed with your descendents or dismiss their thoughts as ‘nonsense’.
I can only imagine that you are telling me in a round-about way that you are a decent age and perhaps that your age gives excuse for annoyance or lack of patience?
Again, I don’t see the relevance myself but if it is important to you, I have been a Christian for some 48 years and as I grow older I find that I am more understanding and patient than I was in times past.
Quite wrong. I have no problem with people being dogmatic and I disagree that you ‘must be annoying’. What is interesting is that, in this post, you have said nothing to dissuade me that you don’t want to hear (read) any opposing ideas and would rather have your beliefs ‘left alone’.
Firstly, the ‘case’ you have suggested is completely untrue. Secondly, I have no idea to what the ‘it’ refers? If you are referring to your manner and approach, I have no complaints and no desire to change you (or certain bits of you – as you might say). If you are referring to the topic in hand, I have already dealt with your ‘Take it or leave it’ approach which I find quite astonishing on a discussion forum.
However, what is certainly the case is that concerning the topic under discussion we are in danger of repetition. You have said that God only loves the good bits of a person and yet it is not wrong to say to a stranger “God loves you”.
It seems to me you want your cake and eat it.
and you still can’t find it in you to endorse his statement.
I agree with you in principle; but let’s keep in mind that Oxy’s “tighter line” on the subject of who is a “false prophet” has recently included people who make no claim to prophetic authority. Which to me seems a rather more liberal line about who counts as a false prophet, ironically.
That being said, he didn’t use the term “false prophet” this time, but “false teacher” instead; and no one can deny that the people involved are claiming teaching authority. So yes, it’s a perfectly fair (and important) question to consider.
That being said , I can’t help but suspect that he was aiming simply for “a false teacher teaches that which runs against the testimony of scripture.” Everyone agrees with this; what people don’t agree about is what in fact runs against the testimony of scripture. Which consequentially means that not everyone agrees about who is a false teacher or not.
Of course, if person A thinks person B is teaching contrary to scripture, then A should say so–and even strenuously so–and should also have clear reasons to say so! (Clear enough at least that the reasoning can be discussed pro or con!) This is true in principle whether or not person A happens to be factually correct about person B being a false teacher.
That means I’m prepared to be sympathetic to non-universalists calling Rob Bell a false teacher, even if I think he isn’t. It also means I’m prepared to not be very sympathetic to Rob Bell if in effect he calls other Christian teachers false teachers but then is vaguely whiffy about his reasons why! (And, by the way, it also means I am prepared to not be very sympathetic to non-universalists if they call Rob Bell a false prophet out of mere rhetorical convenience when he has not in fact made any claim to prophetic authority. But ditto for a universalist calling a non-universalist a false prophet when the non-u hasn’t made such authority claims either.)
One of my projects this weekend, if I can get around to it (I’m helping my parents with our yearly taxes), is to go through the NT looking for how Jesus and the NT authors construe the charge of false teaching. (Going through the OT on it is important, too, but is obviously a much larger task. I have some relevant refs from there in mind as well, however.) The relevant question in regard to universalism is whether NT authorities (up to and especially including God) denounce people as false teachers (and/or false prophets, and similar such things) for teaching that we can hope and even expect God to persist in saving all sinners from sin.
A universalist might still be a false teacher even if there is no such explicit testimony about this counting as evidence of false teaching; but that will only go back to the much larger question of what exactly the overall scriptural testimony is on this topic. And that has to be argued on the exegetical merits pro or con (which is a very huge and detailed process, not something to be done lightly or flippantly with a few prooftext grenades thrown onto the field.)
Wasn’t Christ the seamless union of two natures? Or what is the nature of a demonized person? If I am one essence, is that essence good or evil? If good, it needs no saving. If evil, there is nothing to save. But if I am both good and evil, then I will experience inner conflict, I will be in need of saving, there will be something to save, and something worth saving.
Have a look at paws.kettering.edu/~drussell/Dem … ition.html
The wave coming from the right adds to the wave coming from the left. This is called superposition. If I gave you a photo of the two waves completely overlapped, you’d have no way of knowing that the big wave was made of two smaller waves. The union of the two is complete. But even more astonishing, as the two waves pass through each other, they emerge from the superposition unchanged.
Using that as a metaphor. I know from subjective experience I am both good and evil. Part of me is moving towards God, part is moving away. It seems I have two natures, two fundamental and diametrically opposite tendencies, not one. The part moving towards God is created and good, the part moving away is uncreated and evil. How could these opposites be one nature? At this point in time, these two are in superposition, overlapping in one body. Does God love the whole me? No. Part of me loves to sin. How could God love that part that loves to sin? Rather, the wrath of God abides on such things. No immoral person, no idolater, etc will enter the Kingdom of God. But I am an idolater, and so are you. At least, part of me is, but not the real me. “If I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I that do it, but sin living in me.”
The superposition of natures is temporary. The time is coming when God will separate the wheat from the weeds forever. My shadow will be cast into eternal fire. “Who shall save me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Evil isn’t real. God, who is the ground of all reality, didn’t create it. Rather, evil is the absence of good, like darkness is the absence of light. Evil is where God isn’t. God only loves the real and the good. Not even God can love the unreal and the evil, because there is nothing there to love. So then, God loves the true me. He loves everything about me that is real and good. But I know there are parts of me in shadow, long gloomy corridors, rooms where the doors are locked, the curtains drawn. God is not yet fully present in every corner of the temple of my soul. God does not, cannot, love those parts, but vows to destroy them by filling them with light.
Paul said: For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light… This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
In God’s good time, he wakes these “sleepers”, these slumbering children of light. Before they wake, who or what is driving their body? If not a child of light, it must be a child of darkness, an evil being that is enslaved to sin.
If God loved Saul, then why did he transform him into Paul? Rather, God hated Saul (a child of darkness) and destroyed him. In one overwhelming flash, the person-shaped shadow called Saul was dealt a mortal blow, being filled with the light of Christ. Paul (a child of light) woke from slumber so profound it was like death. It was now Paul’s task to struggle against the darkness that remained. “Live as children of light.”
The real you, the part born of God, the child of light, doesn’t want to sin. But you do sin. There is another motivation, another nature.
I’ve found from long experience that if someone doesn’t grasp a point in the first post or two, they either (rightly or wrongly) cannot get it, or (rightly or wrongly) will not get it. This is as true for me as for others. When the first few posts fail, we either repeat ourselves or get frustrated. So I say, if you find ideas helpful, take them. If not, that’s fine. You might pick them up some other time, and I might pick up yours. There’s no rush. No pressure to conform.
God loves only the good. He cannot love evil because its not real. God saves his people (good) from sin (evil) by filling the darkness with light. But I’m repeating myself.
I think you’re winning me over Allan.
I really appreciate that last post and I think there IS truth in both our positions. I cannot deny what you say. My trade is Maths and the wave analogy was perfect.
I have just posted to Chris on his testimony thread. If you read his testimony and my reply, maybe it will help you see why I see truth in ‘God loves us as we are’ whilst still determined to heal (and completely destroy) this hideous disease called ‘sin’.
Thank you once again. May God continue to bless your ministry.
I did a degree in pure maths last century sometime, but the limit of what I remember as t --> 60 = 0. I teach a bit of physics now, and enjoy it very much.
Here’s an interesting bit from Matthew: “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
The first part (v 33-35) fits into my scheme of things quite well, but not the second (36-37). How does human responsibility (reward and punishment) work? How can the good part of me be held responsible for what the bad part does? The same goes for forgiveness. The evil in me needs no forgiveness. Rather, it needs to be destroyed. And the good part needs no forgiveness, by definition.
Curiouser and curiouser
Reading through this page, I was getting a bit concerned (especially given two of those grandchildren mentioned are my children ), however, I think you have actually ended up illustrating quite well how Christians should handle debate: with love, patience, forgiveness and a genuine desire not just to “win” an argument, but to help each other grow & “see” positions
Your father is clearly a very gracious gentleman. I wish my children had a grandfather like AllanS for a little longer than they did. I have no grandchildren yet but, God willing, not too long to wait.