Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Where it stands? - GraceConversation.com

Expand Messages
  • Robert Baty
    http://www.GraceConversation.com Where Things Stand Posted: 30 May 2009 05:42 PM PDT by Jay Guin Mac (Deaver) has made a number of thoughtful points and asked
    Message 1 of 3 , May 31, 2009
    • 0 Attachment
      http://www.GraceConversation.com

      Where Things Stand
      Posted: 30 May 2009
      05:42 PM PDT

      by Jay Guin

      Mac (Deaver) has made a number of thoughtful points and asked several questions in his last post, but before we get to the particulars, I’d like to be sure I stay centered on the topic we’re here for.

      The challenge Todd (Deaver) and I made to our conservative conversationalists is:

      Please tell us what doctrinal error would cause a saved person to fall away.
      Please defend your position from the scriptures.

      (Todd and I will soon be called upon to do the same from the progressive perspective.)

      There have been quite a few posts, and we’ve had a change in participants. I thought it would be helpful if I attempted to summarize where I think we are.

      I’ll first go through the posts of my conservative friends and quote the sections that seem to most directly answer the question under consideration. At the end, I’ll summarize what I believe is the conservative contention.

      Finally, I’ll ask that Phil (Sanders) and Mac correct me if I’m in error on any point.

      Phil writes,

      The New Testament makes it abundantly clear that doctrinal error can lead to eternal damnation.

      We agree, but this doesn’t tell us which doctrinal error does so.

      Phil also writes,

      A person who teaches false doctrines either lies about God or about his will for mankind. All lying is evil and damnable (Rev. 21:8). What is often called “mistaken” is in reality deception. It is evil to deceive others (John 8:44).

      We certainly agree with the evil of lying about God’s truth, but “lying” implies that one knows he is speaking an untruth. What about someone who teaches error in all innocence? Surely some teach in honest error.

      Greg writes,

      However, Scripture indicates that religious error can lead to eternal destruction.

      Again, we agree, but which error?

      Phil then writes,

      [A]ll doctrinal error has the potential to condemn but does not always do so

      So which errors do in fact damn?

      Greg then writes,

      What I am saying is that when one no longer believes in the complete truthfulness of God’s Word, or when one no longer believes in God’s Way of Salvation, then one stands in danger of divine judgment.

      And so, giving due allowance for God’s patience in allowing for repentance, one may be damned for denying the doctrine of inerrancy or when one no longer believes in the “Way of Salvation.”

      Greg then offers some additional boundaries —

      At this point in our discussion (not wanting to be obdurate) let me say that, yes indeed, I feel disregarding the authority of God’s Word concerning male spiritual leadership, and I feel embracing unauthorized worship places one in danger of divine judgment.

      Thus, we add to the list of errors resulting in apostasy (with due allowance for God’s patience) error as to the role of women in the church and embracing unauthorized worship.

      Greg expands on his position —

      It is my conviction that no error fits into the category of perpetual indulgence. Error is to be opposed, not accepted.

      Now, if Greg is speaking of God’s indulgence, which is what this conversation is about, he certainly seems to say that at some point, any error damns, because at some point God’s patience will expire.

      Phil then rejoins the conversation, saying,

      The New Testament makes it abundantly clear that doctrinal error can lead to eternal damnation. … I am saying that people who continue to entertain and press beliefs that are false and harm others are sinning. Doctrinal error can lead to eternal damnation.

      Of course, teaching harmful error is sin. Phil seems to argue that the error that damns is error that is pressed on others and leads to harm.

      Phil continues in the same article,

      Doctrinal error can lead to eternal damnation, and yes I believe this can be any doctrinal error. It is so because error is equated in God’s eyes with sin. Any sin can lead to eternal damnation. Doctrinal sin is not less evil than moral sin.

      If any sin — moral or doctrinal — can lead to eternal damnation, where does grace fit in?

      Phil does not believe grace comes into play until the sin committed has been repented of.

      Repentance is always a qualifier. Those who repent of moral sin can find forgiveness, and those who repent of doctrinal error can also find forgiveness. …

      Restoration begins with repentance and demands correction. Repentance is the gift of correction. …

      Grace teaches correction (Titus 2:11-14); one may not continue in moral or doctrinal error. …

      Should a person repent of error, God grants forgiveness.

      Phil adds another qualifier for maturity. God does not judge the immature as strictly as the mature.

      A second qualifier in my mind is in the area of maturity. We are all growing. Not all men have knowledge as they ought. …

      Should we be patient with each other? Yes. How long? Till a person hardens his heart and stubbornly refuses to come to the truth.

      At this point, my take on Greg’s and Phil’s position was that any error at all has the potential to damn, even if the error is one of belief and not actual sinful conduct. However, God does not damn immediately. He does not hold the immature to quite as strict a standard, and he allows some time for repentance. However, once God charges the error against the Christian, forgiveness does not happen until the doctrinal error (or moral error) is repented of — and thus the sinning Christian no longer commits that sin.

      Mac Deaver was kind enough to fill in for Greg, who had to leave the discussion for a time. He’s written two posts. In his first post, he explains,

      Briefly, not all errors damn the soul. Those doctrinal errors that when believed create divine doctrinal violation (sin), however, could damn the soul.

      Mac expands on this point in his second post —

      Now, having already said that some personally held doctrinal errors may not finally condemn a person, it is still true that some of these doctrinal errors are so clear and significant that they do condemn. We reject them, not simply because we find fault with them, but because we know that to stay in them is to forfeit salvation (cf. 11 Tim. 2:16-18; 1 Tim. 6:3-5; 1 Cor. 15:12-19). There are some things we do not do nor condone for conscience sake (Rom.14:23); we avoid some things because we know that such leads to eternal ruin even for those who with a good conscience continue in them. And some people stand self-condemned (Tit. 3:10, 11). …

      By divine doctrinal violation, I mean a violation of divine teaching. I could be in error with regard to many facts given in the Scriptures. But doctrinal violation would involve me in sin. I could be wrong about the interpretation of a lot of factual information without getting into violation of obligation.

      Thus, the standard for which errors damns is how “clear and significant” the errors are. But some “personally held” errors do not damn. Moreover, error does not damn until it leads to actual sin. Mere false beliefs that do not lead to sinful conduct do not damn.

      Like Greg and Phil, Mac stresses God’s patience with error.

      However, the degree to which God allows doctrinal error in the heart of a saint at a given time is not always clear to us, nor does it have to be. There is certainly time allowed for growth (11 Pet. 3:18). That is God’s concern.

      Mac then explains,

      Doctrinal error that is clearly personally corruptive, congregationally disruptive, or doctrinally detrimental is condemned (1 Cor. 5:1-8; Tit. 3:10; 11 Tim. 2:18; Gal. 2:5).

      In his second post, Mac expands on this standard,

      By “doctrinally detrimental,” I mean error that corrupts or that is a detriment to pure doctrine. It damages pure doctrine (cf. Gal. 1:6-10). Paul makes it clear that it is possible to embrace a doctrine, the falsity of which implies that the truth of the gospel is not continuing with us anymore (Gal. 2:5). Such doctrines have to be fought. Liberty promised by such falsity is misguided; bondage awaits (Gal. 2:4; 11 Cor. 3:17). …

      Errors are doctrinally detrimental if they are conclusions reached which attack the doctrine of Christ. Errors of some Bible facts (although the presentation of these facts is Bible doctrine) are not very consequential. Errors of other facts would be. Some facts we must know; others we do not have to know. Errors of doctrine that lead people to sin, however, would be attacks on the purity of the gospel of Christ and harmful to those who subscribe to them. Any doctrine that implies that we do not have to submit to the least requirements (obligations) of the doctrine of Christ is a false doctrine (Matt.5:19; cf. Matt 23:23; Luke 17:10).

      Mac concludes that error must be “consequential,” that is, it must “lead people to sin” for the error to lead to damnation.

      Regarding what is required to repent, Mac asserts,

      Regarding Todd’s second question as to whether or not repentance always entails the cessation of the sin, let me say that it does.

      Mac expands on this in his second post. He writes,

      No cessation-no repentance. One cannot walk in righteousness and walk in evil at the same time (Eph. 2:1-3). …

      But doctrinal error that causes violation of God’s law is not something that one has to live with (Jno. 8:32; Rom. 12:1, 2; 11 Jno.4; 1 Tim. 6:20, 21). If it were otherwise (if we had to live with continual doctrinal error that causes continual violation of God’s will) we would not need the Bible. If we are forever shut up to inevitable doctrinal error that keeps us in constant violation of God’s will, truth cannot save us (But, Acts 20:32). All of us must grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ (11 Pet. 3:18). To fail to do so is sin.

      Thus, Mac seems to argue, consistently with Greg’s and Phil’s earlier posts, that God will only temporarily tolerate doctrinal error. There comes a point where we have to get it right. And this is any error “that causes violation of God’s law.” That is, Mac appears to narrow those errors that damn to errors that lead to sinful conduct (“that causes continual violation of God’s will”).

      Finally, in Mac’s second post, he concludes that the Richland Hills Church of Christ is lost in sin because of having added an instrumental service. He argues,

      Regarding a congregation’s forsaking the form of pure worship practice for unauthorized worship, I would say that flesh now dominates spirit regarding those in the eldership and the preacher. Perhaps there are some in the congregation who simply are confused or being novices have not found their duty clear, but those experienced leaders who left the truth for worship error, flesh has dominated spirit (cf. the brethren at Corinth who were in so much error and who seemed for a while not to comprehend their sad condition).

      Now, I had pointed out that this congregation is very devoted to spiritual things, being quite active in their care for the poor and needy, in evangelism and missions, and in regular worship. Thus, I inquired whether the addition of an instrumental service necessarily means that a church’s fleshly nature dominates its spiritual nature.

      Mac says it certainly does. And this is consistent with his writings, as error in instrumental music leads to erroneous practice. However, thousands of their members do not worship with an instrument. They are merely willing to be identified with a congregation that includes members who do. This also leads to apostasy (with due consideration given for God’s patience).

      In summary

      If I understand Greg, Phil, and Mac correctly, their understanding of the doctrine of apostasy due to doctrinal error runs like this —

      Not all doctrinal error damns.

      Error due to a Christian’s status as a novice is tolerated by God until the Christian has had the opportunity to be instructed on that matter.

      Even the mature Christian isn’t immediately damned for his error, as God will be patient for a while in hopes the Christian will repent.

      The error that leads to damnation is error that leads to sinful conduct. Thus, merely having the wrong position on instrumental music in worship, held privately, would not damn — until the Christian either teaches the error or worships in error (subject to points 2 and 3).

      Once a Christian is lost for doctrinal error, he cannot be restored until he repents by no longer teaching the error, believing the error, or practicing the sin that error has led to.

      The standard for doctrinal error is the same as for moral error. Both damn (subject to points 2 and 3) until repented of by the Christian who, consequently, ceases to commit that sin.

      Examples of doctrinal errors that damn (subject to points 2 and 3) include —
      Erroneous teaching or practice as to the Way of Salvation.

      Erroneous teaching with respect to the inerrancy of the scriptures.

      Erroneous teaching or practice with respect to the role of women in the church.
      Erroneous teaching or practice regarding the worship of God.

      Please correct me if I’ve gotten any of this wrong.

      I am about to leave on vacation and don’t know whether I’ll have time to respond to Mac’s list of questions before the trip. However, I’m thinking that a more direct and helpful approach would be to proceed in this order —

      Mac and/or Phil corrects any error in our understanding of their position.

      Jay and Todd state their position and the scriptural justification for it. After all, the point of Mac’s questionnaire is to sort out what we believe. It’d be more helpful if we just tell you. Following our laying out our position, Mac would be welcome to re-ask any questions that he’d find helpful to the conversation.

      While we certainly have points to make regarding the arguments made by Mac, we believe the discussion would be less abstract and easier to follow if we go ahead and put our position on the table.

      I should add that as soon as I get back from vacation, Todd will be leaving on his own vacation, so it may take us a little while to put things together.

      --------------------------------------
      --------------------------------------


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Tom Farr
      The overarching issue at stake, in my opinion.....is what is the nature of God? Is he the Divine Bean counter, green shade pulled low over a frowning brow,
      Message 2 of 3 , May 31, 2009
      • 0 Attachment
        The overarching issue at stake, in my opinion.....is what is the nature of
        God? Is he the Divine Bean counter, green shade pulled low over a frowning
        brow, with more than a little capriciousness in His temperment, looking for
        reasons to make crispy critters of his creations for various reasons....not
        the least of which is insufficient cognitive ability to follow all of the
        rules.....or is He, as I believe the scriptures abundantly
        proclaim......totally Good and Trustworthy with no shadow of turning....the
        very definition of love? It is a very clear distinction and the side which
        says everybody else is going to hell may get a book out of me yet.
        Peace,
        Tom Farr


        On 5/31/09 11:00 AM, "Robert Baty" <rlbaty@...> wrote:

        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > http://www.GraceConversation.com
        >
        > Where Things Stand
        > Posted: 30 May 2009
        > 05:42 PM PDT
        >
        > by Jay Guin
        >
        > Mac (Deaver) has made a number of thoughtful points and asked several
        > questions in his last post, but before we get to the particulars, I¹d like to
        > be sure I stay centered on the topic we¹re here for.
        >
        > The challenge Todd (Deaver) and I made to our conservative conversationalists
        > is:
        >
        > Please tell us what doctrinal error would cause a saved person to fall away.
        > Please defend your position from the scriptures.
        >
        > (Todd and I will soon be called upon to do the same from the progressive
        > perspective.)
        >
        > There have been quite a few posts, and we¹ve had a change in participants. I
        > thought it would be helpful if I attempted to summarize where I think we are.
        >
        > <snips>



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Robert Baty
        Tom Farr asks: ... or ... If those are the choices, I think I ll go with Tom and choose (2)! Sincerely, Robert Baty ... To: Maury_and_Baty@yahoogroups.com
        Message 3 of 3 , May 31, 2009
        • 0 Attachment
          Tom Farr asks:

          Is God:

          > (1) the Divine Bean counter,
          > green shade pulled low over
          > a frowning brow, with more
          > than a little capriciousness in
          > His temperment, looking for
          > reasons to make crispy critters
          > of his creations for various
          > reasons....not the least of which
          > is insufficient cognitive ability
          > to follow all of the rules.....

          or

          > (2) is He totally Good and
          > Trustworthy with no shadow of
          > turning....the very definition of
          > love?

          If those are the choices, I think I'll go with Tom and choose (2)!

          Sincerely,
          Robert Baty

          --------------Tom's Message---------------

          To: Maury_and_Baty@yahoogroups.com
          From: Tom Farr
          Subject: Re: [M & B] Where it stands? - GraceConversation.com
          Date: Sunday, May 31, 2009 10:19 AM

          The overarching issue at stake, in my opinion.....is what is the nature of
          God? Is he the Divine Bean counter, green shade pulled low over a frowning
          brow, with more than a little capriciousness in His temperment, looking for
          reasons to make crispy critters of his creations for various reasons....not
          the least of which is insufficient cognitive ability to follow all of the
          rules.....or is He, as I believe the scriptures abundantly
          proclaim......totally Good and Trustworthy with no shadow of turning....the
          very definition of love? It is a very clear distinction and the side which
          says everybody else is going to hell may get a book out of me yet.

          Peace,
          Tom Farr

          ----------------------------------------
          ----------------------------------------



          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.