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Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Ghost of Adrian Rogers (actually his wife) Weighs In...

Adrian_rogers_1_1GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP)--Joyce Rogers, widow of Adrian Rogers, longtime pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, commented on what she described is the narrowing of parameters in Southern Baptist life June 12 during a tribute to her late husband in the Pastors’ Conference at the Greensboro Coliseum.

“Adrian Rogers was a gracious man who worked for unity in the body of Christ,” Joyce Rogers said. “… [I]n the battle for the Bible, he believed with all his heart that inerrancy was a hill big enough to die on. But under that umbrella, and the essentials of the faith, he sought for unity in the body of Christ, among Southern Baptists and the wider body of Christ.”

Rogers said her late husband had “other interpretations of doctrines that were important to him, like he was an avid believer in the premillennial view of prophecy. But he never considered that that was a basis for fellowship, and he believed that it was in the local church that you honed those beliefs.”

At this point in her remarks, Rogers urged the Pastors’ Conference audience to listen to her carefully.

“Adrian Rogers would not have been a part of what is going on in some parts of our convention today, getting narrower and narrower about very highly interpretive issues,” she said, touching off about 15 seconds’ worth of applause.

“He would try to convince you of his view, but not to exclude you from service and fellowship, or to prevent you from going around the world with Southern Baptists to share the Gospel if you disagreed on these controversial issues,” Rogers said. “And I challenge you on his behalf to graciously work for unity in the body of Christ.”

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June 15, 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink

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The SBC has no doubt fought over some very non-essential doctrines.

There are also other Essential Doctrines, like The Gospel, Sovereignty and "essentials of the Faith" that are very much worth discussing to an end of absolute Unity in Christ.

Sometimes however the term "unity" is used to defend a failing or false position and should rather be called comprimise. On the flip side, unity could also be considered bullying which is WHY Scripture must be held to as the standard. "What does Scripture SAY" about Who God IS.

We shouldn't use "unity" in hopes to deceive ourselves or others when a doctrine is called into question, ESPECIALLY essential Doctrines. We should be willing to hear the discussion and consider it, pray about it, etc. Not just dismiss it with "you believe what you want and I'll believe what I want". That's not ANY desire for unity, that's a desire to do what is right in my OWN eyes.

There is no doubt we should try to convince others with Scripture but to suggest it's okay to go around the world to share the gospel would be absolutely wrong of me, if the gospel being preached is not The Gospel delivered to us in Scripture. Luther might as well have denied sola scriptora (sp) and we all become Catholic.

Posted by: BeHim | Jun 15, 2006 10:54:51 AM

Of course this goes back to the question of what's central and what's peripheral. The frustrating part of this is that people disagree. While some might argue that a Reformed understanding of sovereignty is central to Christianity, others disagree. While some might argue that inerrancy is central to Christianity, others disagree. While some might argue that complementarianism is central to Christianity, others disagree. And while some might argue that voting Republican is central to Christianity, others might disagree.
The question then, is 'who gets to say what's central and what's not?'

Posted by: Daniel | Jun 15, 2006 12:05:45 PM

The ancient Creeds get to say what is central. At least as far as I am concerned, but then again someone else can say differently.

Posted by: eric | Jun 15, 2006 12:15:22 PM

Perhaps there is a difference in the freedom or flexibility we leave room for within different groups. Within a particular church community, doctrinal issues about which there are many different views in the universal church, can (and probably should) be much more narrowly defined. Then, within a denomination the issues get a little broader, allowing for different views within the denomination on things we deem as non-essential for us, and even differing views among some of our essentials among brothers and sisters in other denominations. As individual believers we choose to align ourselves with a church and denomination that fits with our understanding or interpretation of scripture on “non-essentials.”

For example, I know of two well known BGC pastors of large churches within the same community whose churches have completely different interpretations of scripture regarding women in ministry. One ordains and affirms women (egalitarian) and the other affirms a male only interpretation of scripture (complementarian). I know that these two pastors work arm in arm serving the community with the same gospel. Obviously it would be wrong for a complementarian to join the church that affirms women and then start a campaign to change that church into affirming what he or she understands to be the correct interpretation of scripture. Unity trumps.

However, as a denomination the BGC affirms believer’s baptism using the mode of emersion. It is important, for unity within the denomination, for BGC pastors and churches to affirm this understanding of baptism. All of us within the BGC can still minister in unity with brothers and sisters from other denominations like the UMC, RCA, ELCA and others that affirm infant baptism. I believe that Mrs. Rogers would also affirm the importance of striving for this kind of unity within the universal church.

I believe that our ability (or inability) to achieve such unity affects our witness. Hmm. . . something Jesus said about the world knowing Him because of the unity observed among those who claim His name.

Wendi

Posted by: Wendi | Jun 15, 2006 1:04:16 PM

It seems that the hardest thing to agree upon is not certain doctrines, but whether certain doctrines are "essential" and therefore in need of agreement! In other words, we disagree about what it's okay to disagree about!

Posted by: Randy Ehle | Jun 15, 2006 2:11:27 PM

[Of course this goes back to the question of what's central and what's peripheral. The frustrating part of this is that people disagree. While some might argue that a Reformed understanding of sovereignty is central to Christianity, others disagree. While some might argue that inerrancy is central to Christianity, others disagree. While some might argue that complementarianism is central to Christianity, others disagree. And while some might argue that voting Republican is central to Christianity, others might disagree.
The question then, is 'who gets to say what's central and what's not?']

What does Scripture say. The question then becomes, is God subjective or objective. Are we the objective (making Scripture subjective to our lives) or subjective (making our lives subjective to the Scriptures). Completely different starting points with completely different ending points and very serious consequences considering there are really only two ending points.

[It seems that the hardest thing to agree upon is not certain doctrines, but whether certain doctrines are "essential" and therefore in need of agreement! In other words, we disagree about what it's okay to disagree about!]

Great way of putting Randy and if you don't mind my suggesting to all of us to consider. All deeds have a belief or idea behind them that for the sake of this discussion we can call doctrines or "teachings".

2 Timothy 3:16 states that ALL Scripture (which means the Old and New Testament, not just the new testament) is given for doctrine and deed.

We cannot in the Christian Worldview conceivably separate deeds from doctrine. The world wants us to be neutral concerning The Scriptural Doctrines when discussing deeds.

All of our actions AND thoughts are to be brought captive to Scripture and the doctrines contained in them.

The issue then becomes, what Doctrines align with the Charachter and Nature of God. Anything outside of these "Laws" would be considered an anomoly. We must test the anomolies with the Nature and Charachter of God with Him being the Object and all things submitting to Him, including the anomolies. If the anomolies in any way change the Nature of God or Charachter of Jesus, they should be cast off or away.

Hope that makes sense, I'm inbetween responsabilities, trying to make lunch... lol.

Love the discussion though. Thank God for using Todd today and posting this article :)

Posted by: BeHim | Jun 15, 2006 2:23:06 PM

If we agree with Randy and Daniel’s points – that the hardest thing to agree on is what we must agree on (is that a respectable paraphrase?), then don’t we solve the problem by only insisting on more narrow agreement within more narrow groups? Within the universal church we insist ONLY in agreement with the ancient fathers who, led by the HS, determined the cannon and established historic orthodox Christian doctrine through the creeds. Teaching is only heretical if it lands outside of historic Christian orthodoxy. Within a collection of churches (denominations) we appropriately insist on agreement with certain doctrines (interpretations of scripture) that are defined by doctrinal statements of a given denomination. Within a local body, in order to function together with order and unity, we can (and should) more narrowly define our doctrine. All the while we can affirm brothers and sisters different views (interpretations) of the same scripture.

BeHim – when you respond here to Daniel and other times with: [What does Scripture say? The question then becomes, is God subjective or objective] . . . you seem to say that I have somehow subjectified God (made Him into something I want Him to be) if I don’t agree with you. Or maybe you have subjectified God. Maybe I’m the one with the “right” interpretation and you are the one who is incorrectly understanding scripture. See the problem? I think that is this is exactly the point Mrs. Rogers is trying to make with the SBC. Her husband believed, using the example she cited to the conference, that people could unify around the doctrine of inerrency, read the very same biblical passages and come out different doctrines of eschatology. So . . . as a pre-millinialist, Pastor Rogers would never say to a post-millinialist brother “what does scripture say?” That statement would be (is) pejorative. Both know exactly what scripture says, they respect one another and can certainly serve the gospel together with different understandings about what scripture “means”?

Wendi

Posted by: Wendi | Jun 15, 2006 3:05:17 PM

Wendi,

You are absolutely correct. Thank you.

When I ask someone, "What does Scripture say?" in that tone, what I am actually saying is, "You are not intelligent or spiritual enough to figure this out on your own. You are attempting to destroy the Gospel and the message of Jesus. So...Let ME, the enlightened one, tell you how it really is and should be."

This is not humility. I like what is being said in the article. As John Wesley said, "If your heart is like my heart, then give me your hand." He was able to look past the doctrinal differences and look at the person's heart and desire to follow God. Wesley and Whitefield stood on opposite sides of the Calvinism/Arminianism debate and yet were able to work together and spend time in a small group together.

Posted by: eric | Jun 15, 2006 4:19:49 PM

[BeHim – when you respond here to Daniel and other times with: [What does Scripture say? The question then becomes, is God subjective or objective] . . . you seem to say that I have somehow subjectified God (made Him into something I want Him to be) if I don’t agree with you. Or maybe you have subjectified God. Maybe I’m the one with the “right” interpretation and you are the one who is incorrectly understanding scripture. See the problem?]

I can be wrong and you right or vice versa OR we could both be wrong (bringing even more views to the table) which leads to the false understanding and belief that we can't really know for sure (relativism).

BUT the question is... is God clear (coherant), consistent and unified (unchanging), in His Communication (Revelation of Himself in both the Old and New Testament) concerning the deed (action) and teaching (doctrine)?

It is not God who is incoherant, inconsistent or chaotic in His Communication about any deed or doctrine, it is us... mankind, in our understanding and knowledge that is incoherant, inconsistent and chaotic. How do we fall into error/deception/mistake in our knowledge and understanding of God?

Let God be True and every man a liar Romans 3:4... it is in OUR charachter and nature to lie, cheat, steal, deceive and murder, NOT God's Charachter or Nature.

We fall into error by attempting to either change the (God) Nature or Charachter of God or His Son, Jesus. This is True of EVERY cult and false god.

So how do we know who's right, me, you or them?

God is right in His Charachter and Nature (the very laws of Logic are established in His Charachter and Nature) and we subject ourselves to this Truth. All our deeds [actions] and all our ideas [doctrines]. If we are not willing to subject ourselves to His Charachter and Nature then we do in fact rebel, NOT against one another in our "interpretations" (it's not about us "agreeing", its about His Charachter and Nature being THE Foundation of our deeds [heart] and ideas [mind]) but rebel against the very existence of God and all His Authority, including Scripture.

Posted by: BeHim | Jun 15, 2006 4:33:00 PM

Whoa, Wendi - I thought for a minute you were talking about "Mr. Rogers"! Gotta get my new glasses!

BeHim, you wrote with great grace and gentleness, which I appreciate. Certainly the main question is, "What does Scripture say?" But no less certain is the fact that, we can both read the same scripture and draw two vastly different interpretations from it. If that happens even when we're reading the same English translation, how much more likely is it if we are able to go back to the most accurate, original-language manuscripts? (Good grief, just look at the comments on MMI for a while and count the number of times a commenter has written something like, "You didn't understand me; what I meant to say was...".)

Eric suggested that "The ancient creeds get to say what is central" ... then, fortunately, gave himself a good side door exit from that box. I would prefer to keep my own list of essentials pretty short so I can be open to fellowshipping with and learning from others. That doesn't mean I have a short list of beliefs, only that I'm willing to pray, eat, have fun, and share communion with as many people as possible.

(I'm not easily offended, but I was when I attended an evangelical church that holds a consubstantiational view of the Eucharist. I read in the bulletin that if I didn't agree with that position, I was to refrain from taking communion. It was on the honor system, but having read that, I couldn't partake in good conscience and maintain my personal integrity.)

Posted by: Randy Ehle | Jun 15, 2006 4:35:33 PM

[BeHim, you wrote with great grace and gentleness, which I appreciate. Certainly the main question is, "What does Scripture say?" But no less certain is the fact that, we can both read the same scripture and draw two vastly different interpretations from it. If that happens even when we're reading the same English translation, how much more likely is it if we are able to go back to the most accurate, original-language manuscripts? (Good grief, just look at the comments on MMI for a while and count the number of times a commenter has written something like, "You didn't understand me; what I meant to say was...".)]

Thank you and I will try to keep inside of grace and gentleness and I appreciate the compliment. Okay, when we draw two vastly different interpretations from the Scripture is it God who is unclear, incoherant, and chaotic in His Communication?

Or

Is it you and I who have taken what God has said and come to conclusions that may or may not agree with what He Communicated?

I agree that 1. I could be wrong and you right 2. You could be wrong and I would be right 3. we could both be wrong and because we've reached two opposite conclusions, we cannot both be right (A cannot be A and not A at the same time in the same sense - this view defies the 2nd law of logic, the law of non-contradiction)!

So how do you and I, as Believers get to the bottom of which view is correct/True?

Do we, as you suggest, dig through the original manuscripts and have to knuckle down and learn new languages (otherwise we would be subject to the interpretation of the interpreter, etc)?

Do we just walk away and say oh well, who cares (if it is essential)?

Or can we, through Scripture and our Knowledge of God and Understanding of Him reach a conclusion that agrees, not with our charachter and nature, which can lie, cheat, steal, murder, deceive, but one that agrees with the Charachter and Nature of God?

It is this FUNDAMENTAL (dangerous word to be using today) assumption that can save us from SO MANY of these "agree to disagree interpretations".

God's Nature and Charachter will not change, EVER! Nor will the Knowledge and Understanding when it is Wrought and Established IN HIM!

Test the view against His Charachter and Nature.

Example: At least a few times the eschotology response has come up. We can open some pretty big cans with that view can't we? Do they cause division? You BET! So what's the answer?

A wicked and adulterous generation seeks thereafter a sign. Much of the division today is wrought in the conern for future things.

God's Charachter and Nature doesn't change and the future is secure IN HIM. Seems simple enough but... mankind is not satisfied in his old nature with such a simple answer. We must know the answer? To what? The end of days!

It doesn't matter what response you put to the view, it will always fly in the face of Scripture:

Worry not
a wicked and adulterous generation
enough evil for today
(paraphrased for sake of time)

God's Nature and Charachter provide the Established Truth for our Doctrines AND Deeds. Knowing and Understanding His Sovereignty is the number one place a person can start! Nothing is Neutral and outside of God's Providence. God does NOT have two Wills and He is no different today in Grace and Love than He was in the Days of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David and Peter, James, John and Paul. He is the Same Today, Yesterday and Tomorrow.

Please extend me some grace if my tone is strong, it is not my intent. I am VERY pleased we are dialouging and discussing, it is very encouraging to me.

Posted by: BeHim | Jun 15, 2006 6:05:40 PM

Randy, wasn’t “Mr. Rogers” a Presbyterian minister? I think he might have wanted to weigh in on this discussion.

BeHim – after responding to Randy by articulating the various scenarios which could lead to different interpretations of scripture, you ask: [So how do you and I, as Believers get to the bottom of which view is correct/true?]

I respond with a question . . . why must we “get to the bottom” of which is the correct/true view of every single doctrinal issue?

I’d answer my own question by saying, WE SHOULDN’T (at least I know without a doubt that I shouldn’t). Instead, due diligence requires that I search the scriptures honestly and “land” somewhere personally on most of these disputable issues. Having done so I’ll choose a faith community where I fit, with whom I can worship and serve authentically and with unity, and I’ll get busy with the great commandment and great commission. That’s it.

Personally, I think that our enemy can use our well intentioned efforts to “get to the bottom” of every single issue. Just outside the doors of my church are hundreds of broken, hurting and desperately confused people who need Jesus. Satan would rather I do anything else but to engage with these people, because once I do he’s in trouble. So, he is going to try to distract me and get me “off mission.” Trying to “get to the bottom” of a doctrinal issue that Christians have disagreed about for centuries to nothing to help me fulfill the mission God has called me to and will be a distraction. And so when you ask [Do we just walk away and say ‘oh well, who cares?’] I answer, YES, absolutely. That is exactly what we must do. I think that is what Adrian Rogers widow was suggesting.

Wendi

Posted by: Wendi | Jun 15, 2006 6:57:12 PM

BeHim wrote: ["Do we just walk away and say oh well, who cares (if it is essential)?"]

Wendi wrote, quoting part of BeHim: ["[Do we just walk away and say ‘oh well, who cares?’] I answer, YES, absolutely. That is exactly what we must do."]

Wendi excluded BeHim's parenthetical, "(if it is essential)", which is exactly my question: what is essential? Who decides that? Eric suggested the ancient creeds, but I say those were simply written by men hundreds of years ago who somehow were able to agree on certain doctrines. Still, they were men. Would not a creed composed by men today have the same potential authority that the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds have been granted? (Except for the centuries of common acceptance, of course; hence "potential authority".)

So, what is essential? And what if you and I disagree on what is essential before we even get to the question of what we actually believe? How is that going to affect the way we fellowship together, the way we minister together, the way we share our faith with people who are dying and going to hell (if you believe in hell!)?

These questions really need to be considered by those who have longer lists of essentials. If I believe that eschatology is essential, and that a particular eschatology is "right", am I going to minister alongside someone who shares neither of those convictions? If Mr. Post-Mill and I are working side-by-side on a mission trip to Africa and a non-believer asks what will happen when he dies, should I press my pre-mill/pre-trib belief on him, then let Mr. Post-Mill offer his understanding, then press the issue before even inviting him to give his life to Jesus? I sure as hell hope not - and I mean that very literally, not profanely; as certain as I am of hell's existence, I hope that I wouldn't press for him to choose between the two different understandings.

I believe it was Paul who wrote, "continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling." That is what I seek to do and what I encourage every believer to do. It is that exhortation that gives me reason to keep a short list of essentials and grant wide latitude to those whose beliefs and convictions do not mirror my own.

Posted by: Randy Ehle | Jun 15, 2006 7:47:00 PM

Randy –

First, personally I agree with Eric that the creeds do help us get to essentials for the very reason you cite (historical authority). Granted, a bunch of guys could come up with some new creeds today. But church fathers who wrestled with these things were closer in proximity of time, in the case of the earliest councils probably had before them original manuscripts of what became canonized, and they wrestled with the very things you describe in your Africa mission trip example – issues that affected the very gospel message of salvation.

As you point out, it matters not one bit to the African seeker whether Jesus will return before, during or after the tribulation. However, it matters very much whether Jesus was God, human or fully God and fully human. That makes (for me) essential the description of Jesus from the 4th century Nicene Creed as “the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made.”

Are there things remaining for the whole of Christendom to wrestle with that, if not agreed upon, could compromise the very gospel of salvation? I don’t think so.

Could it be that the there is some divine intent in the fact that there are things within the holy, inspired and inerrant scriptures about which human beings disagree? The fact that you and Mr. Post-mill are willing and able to work together in bringing the message of salvation to the African seeker is (IMO) as much a part of the gospel as are the various points of the redemption message. On the other hand, if you could not (work together), do you not compromise some of that is the very essence of the gospel itself? I think you (and we) do.

Wendi

Posted by: Wendi | Jun 15, 2006 9:21:46 PM

You know... I couldn't help holding back a few tears after reading this post on Adrian Rogers.. I hold a deep love& respect in my heart for this man.

If there was ever a T.V. Preacher who was a true Christian and resembled Christ it was Adrian Rogers...

I am like him in one way... I too love unity and long for it. It really hurts me when there is no unity in our churches...
It seems our churches strive for bigger buildings, attractive buildings, fancy singing, people who can tithe the biggest, and etc... But we seem to over look unity.

I may be wrong you all but unity to me is having everything in common. We all have Jesus Christ in common no matter our social status, or our place on the coperate ladder.

That is why I long for heaven and home.. Becuase there we will have unity once and for all... Adrian is now living that... Amen and Amen...

Posted by: Jeff Ruble | Jun 15, 2006 9:24:26 PM

[I respond with a question . . . why must we “get to the bottom” of which is the correct/true view of every single doctrinal issue?

I’d answer my own question by saying, WE SHOULDN’T (at least I know without a doubt that I shouldn’t). Instead, due diligence requires that I search the scriptures honestly and “land” somewhere personally on most of these disputable issues. Having done so I’ll choose a faith community where I fit, with whom I can worship and serve authentically and with unity, and I’ll get busy with the great commandment and great commission. That’s it.

Personally, I think that our enemy can use our well intentioned efforts to “get to the bottom” of every single issue. Just outside the doors of my church are hundreds of broken, hurting and desperately confused people who need Jesus. Satan would rather I do anything else but to engage with these people, because once I do he’s in trouble. So, he is going to try to distract me and get me “off mission.” Trying to “get to the bottom” of a doctrinal issue that Christians have disagreed about for centuries to nothing to help me fulfill the mission God has called me to and will be a distraction. And so when you ask [Do we just walk away and say ‘oh well, who cares?’] I answer, YES, absolutely. That is exactly what we must do. I think that is what Adrian Rogers widow was suggesting.]

In the end Wendi, you're simply saying who cares what THE Truth is, I'm going to believe what I want to believe and serve accordingly. Sad but.... "absolutely" True!

It is very much sad but true that there are many in christianity today serving to help solve social ailments not necessarily in Truth but anyway they can that will get the job done. Truth is not as important as solving the problem. Believing deep down that doctrine doesn't matter as long as the mission is getting done, as though the mission has no doctrine or at least one that doesn't matter as much as the mission itself.

It is truly unfortunate that there are some church leaders who will not endure sound doctrine but rather go about doing what they believe is right more than likely in their own eyes - probably to the degree that they are not willing to endure sound doctrine.

Paul in writing to Timothy as a encouragement to leading The Church states:
2 Timothy 3:
10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 4:
1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at[a] His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

No deed ever done is not without the support of some doctrine (teaching). Deeds are wrought in doctrine! You CANNOT have deeds without doctrine!!!

"Doctrine without deed is a tree without fruit; deed without doctrine is a tree without root." J.Vernon McGee

Jesus IS The Root in fullness, God's Charachter and Nature.

[So, what is essential? And what if you and I disagree on what is essential before we even get to the question of what we actually believe? How is that going to affect the way we fellowship together, the way we minister together, the way we share our faith with people who are dying and going to hell (if you believe in hell!)?]

Essentially we must agree on and believe in The Nature and Charachter of God, revealed in the Old and New Testament only; these do not change, EVER! Who IS God? What kind of God is HE? These are the foundation of Doctrine and Deed and are wrought personally in Christ Jesus.

Posted by: BeHim | Jun 16, 2006 12:18:32 AM

[In the end Wendi, you're simply saying who cares what THE Truth is, I'm going to believe what I want to believe and serve accordingly. Sad but.... "absolutely" True!]

No BeHim, I’m not saying that. I’m saying “who cares” whether you, or I or anyone else have “gotten to the bottom” of the “true” meaning of a particular doctrine that has been disputed by faithful Christians for centuries and doesn’t make a lick of difference in regard to salvation. On the issues you and I would disagree about I HAVE honestly and diligently searched the scripture and determined what I believe scripture to teach. But I say “who cares” about convincing you or anyone else about my interpretations on things I believe to be non-essentials. I believe scripture calls us, as good stewards, to invest our resources (time and energy) on things that will most likely produce kingdom fruit. In my book, debating non-essentials is fruitless activity and not honoring to God or the whole counsel of scripture.

You bet, I do feel called to issues of social justice, because we learn through the admonishment of the prophets that God has always wanted His people to serve the poor, oppressed and marginalized in society. So, it is “biblical truth” that calls me to pay attention to social justice. I’m not sure what you see as the problem with Christians working for social justice, or what that has to do with Joyce Rogers challenge “on his [her husband’s] behalf to graciously work for unity in the body of Christ.”

Wendi

Posted by: Wendi | Jun 16, 2006 1:21:22 AM

I was at the SBC Pastors' Conference. I was impressed with Mrs. Rogers challenge. The context was for unity among Southern Baptists. Which I agree with. However, we have differing denominations among Christians because of debates over what different groups believe to be essential. The Catholic church split East and West over what they perceived to be major issues around 1000 AD. Luther split away from the Catholics over salvation. A person of the charismatic movement and I can personally agree on salvation by grace and yet I know of churches that have split over the issue of Spirit baptism and speaking in tongues. Why? Because they are considered essential doctrines by some.

It is sad that Christendom is fractured in so many ways. What one group considers essential another considers non-essential and thus the differences will keep us apart. Every group uses the Bible to support what they profess is essential. I even witness it on this blog on this topic.

Mrs. Rogers was speaking about unity among Southern Baptists. Which we need. Period. I'd love to see unity among the wider body of Christ. I have attempted to work with the wider body but have been hurt too many times to mention here by others because of what I believe is non-essential is considered essential by others.

For me, this is an in-house issue among Southern Baptists and I believe that is the right context.

Posted by: Dan Moore | Jun 16, 2006 8:54:16 AM

Again, this comes down to: Scripture being made subjective to the individual's interpretation. Thousands of them.

Is there one TRUE interpretation? Yes! His Charachter and Nature as Revealed in the Old and New Testaments only! When an "interpretation" goes against God's Nature and Charachter then we are to know it is a lie, counterfeit, or as John quoted Jesus, "doctrine of demons".

We MUST not as believers hold to a neutral view on "interpretations", it is the same as agreeing it is okay to do what is right in your own eyes. God is NEVER neutral on any idea or action, nor does He Change. This is Who He IS, in Charachter and Nature.

Our hearts and minds are to be taken captive with Him.

Much of what is called social justice has become a humanitarian movement: devoted to the promotion of human welfare and the advancement of social reforms.

We are not humanitarians, we are missionaries. We feed the hungry, clothe the poor and comfort widows for the sake of The Gospel not human welfare and social reform (a better quality of life).

Jesus didn't come to give us our best life now, here on earth but to set the captives free and look forward to The Life after this one.

It is His Nature and Charachter to Live in Perfection and that will not happen in THIS life, no matter how much human welfare and social reform we promote. We instead promote The Truth that he who loses his life for His Sake will find it (controlling the flesh, including the heart and mind being subject to His Word).

Posted by: BeHim | Jun 16, 2006 10:56:37 AM

I for one know Wendi that we are not called to be neutral but rather captive in all things to the Will of God.

We don't do that by considering ideas and actions as non-essential. There is no part of the Christian life that is not or should not be captive to Him and His Word and we know there is One God, One Way and One Truth and these things are not subjective to interpretation.

So why argue about teachings? Because ideas have consequences and all deeds are based on ideas.

Posted by: BeHim | Jun 16, 2006 11:01:35 AM

Oh my... BeHim's caught us in his trap again, hasn't he?

Todd

Posted by: Todd Rhoades | Jun 16, 2006 11:03:14 AM

What, The Word of God?

Posted by: BeHim | Jun 16, 2006 11:04:51 AM

See how I didn't respond to that?!

Posted by: Todd Rhoades | Jun 16, 2006 11:28:59 AM

Unfortunately, BeHim, your more recent posts lost the grace and gentleness with which you began in this series. You suggest that there is only one interpretation of Scripture, yet you drastically misinterpreted much of what Wendi said...and you're only minutes away from the "original" text there, yet millennia removed from the closest copies we have to original scripture texts.

I agree with the statement BeHim made that, "Essentially we must agree on and believe in The Nature and Charachter of God, revealed in the Old and New Testament only; these do not change, EVER! Who IS God? What kind of God is HE?" That's a pretty broad statement that covers a lot of theological ground, but I'll allow that there may be other things in Scripture that are also essential beliefs.

Nonetheless, I believe (and I think Wendi does, too) that there are many things in Scripture that righteous, holy men and women disagree about; that these things do not detract from the unchanging character of God; and that these things *generally* should not divide our fellowship as believers the way they do. This is, perhaps, what Mrs. Rogers was appealing for, and what was appealed for in the 17th century by an Augsburg pastor named Peter Meiderlin (aka Rupertus Meldenius) when he wrote, "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity." (Usually, but apparently incorrectly, attributed to St. Augustine.)

Posted by: Randy Ehle | Jun 16, 2006 12:09:36 PM

Thank you Randy, for leading me to the correct author of that famous quote. I have been among the many incorrectly attributing it to St. Augustine. After reading your post I “googled” Meiderlin and found this interesting historical tidbit about what influenced his quest for peace among Christian brethren. I think it is appropriate to this thread and gets to Mrs. Rogers point. I’ve pasted it below as my last offering on this thread, lest I become guilty of what I suggested is poor stewardship, fruitlessly arguing with BeHim over something that is “non-essential” to our faith.

“Peter Meiderlin's argument for peace in the church starts out with a story about a dream he had. In it he encounters a devout Christian theologian in a white robe sitting at a table and reading the Scriptures. All of a sudden Christ appears to him as the victor over death and devil and warns him of an impending danger and admonishes him to be very vigilant. Then Christ vanishes and the Devil appears in the form of a blinding light, moonlight to be exact, and claims to have been sent on a mission from God. He states that in this final age the Church needs to be protected from all heresy and apostasy of any kind and God's elect have the duty to safeguard and keep pure the doctrinal truths they inherited. The devil then alleges that God has authorized him to found a new order of these doctrinally pure elect, some sort of a doctrinal heritage coven. Those who join will bind themselves to an oath of strictest observance to these doctrines. The devil then extends to our devout theologian the invitation to join this militant fellowship for his own eternal welfare. Our theologian thinks about what he has just heard and decides to bring it in prayer before God, upon which the devil immediately vanishes and Christ reappears. Christ tenderly raises the trembling Christian up, comforts him most kindly, and before he departs admonishes him to remain loyal only to the Word of God in simplicity and humility of heart. For Meldenius, this dream depicted in a powerful way the state of his own church, and the resultant admonition is his own contribution on how to keep the peace.”

http://www.restorationquarterly.org/Volume_039/rq03903rollmann.htm

Wendi

Posted by: Wendi | Jun 16, 2006 12:27:06 PM

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