Proposition One: Doctrinal error can lead to eternal damnation, by Phil Sanders

I am grateful to discuss the Bible with anyone, but I am grieved that this controversy has created confusion among us. It appears some are questioning whether or not we should dismiss the threat of false beliefs and practices, since the grace of God is abundant. The abundance of grace, however, must never be an inducement to ignore or continue in sin. True hope must ground itself on the eternal words of God (Col. 2:6-8), and we find no promise attached to the false hopes of humanly constructed doctrines.

We are not here in this discussion to replace God. We do not know how far the grace of God will extend to those who are unwittingly mistaken. Our task is to proclaim what God says about false doctrines and strange practices that go beyond the teaching of the Lord in the New Testament. God has spoken for himself on these matters. Our second task is to remain as free from error as possible and to lead others to remain free. We have no desire to be cruel to others by leaving them with false hope that they may remain in error.

Proposition 1: The New Testament makes it abundantly clear that doctrinal error can lead to eternal damnation.

Didache is a noun found thirty times in the New Testament to mean “doctrine,” “teaching.” Didaskalia is a synonym for didache, and denotes “doctrine,” or “teaching” throughout the nearly twenty occurrences of the term. The teaching or doctrine of Jesus Christ comes through his words revealed in his personal ministry and assured to the apostles and prophets in the first century through the work of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 16:12-13). The Lord Jesus declared his Word to be the standard by which all people living today will be judged (John 12:48). One cannot reject him or his teaching and remain guiltless.

Jesus often expresses his authority over men by his teaching (Matt. 7:21-28; 28:18-20; Luke 6:46; 11:28; John 8:31-32; 8:51; 14:15, 21, 23; 15:8-10). Those who wish to remain in a right relationship with the Lord and be his true disciples must abide in and observe his teaching. Jesus highly valued his words, and he expects his people to value them as well.

Matthew 7:21-23 ( NASB ) 21“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  23“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Jesus regards the person who hears his words and does not do them as foolish and headed for destruction (Matthew 7:26-27).

Jesus does not separate one teaching from another here. Rebellion to his teaching, any teaching, is rebellion toward him. Lawlessness occurs when an individual lives in disregard for the law of Christ and acts as if there were no laws. A person who will not do the will of the Father but practices lawlessness will not enter heaven. Lawlessness is a salvation issue. One is both lawless and foolish who hears the words of Christ but will not do them. Many are deceived into thinking because they have done something, they have done the words of Jesus. Those who ignore the belief, for instance, that baptism is necessary to salvation (John 3:5; Acts 22:16)

The Lord Jesus said to the Jews who believed him, “If you continue [remain or abide] in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32). The adverb alethos in this passage is used some twenty times in the New Testament and means “truly” or “surely,” “corresponding to what is really so, truly, in truth, really, actually.”[i] Danker translates the phrase in John 8:31, “you are real disciples of mine.” Real or true disciples abide in the word of Jesus. This suggests those who do not abide in the word of Jesus are not real disciples, though they think they are.

2 John 1:9-11 ( NASB ) Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.

While we grant “the teaching of Christ” may very well be the specific teaching about Christ that challenged the church in the second century, we recognize that whether one takes the phrase “teaching of Christ” as an objective genitive or a subjective genitive to be a moot question. The sin of 2 John 9 is in going too far and not abiding in what is taught. One is in error for trying to distort the nature of Christ’s deity, but the act of distorting or changing any teaching from God is abhorrent and condemned throughout Scripture (Deut. 12:32; 2 Cor. 4:2; Gal. 1:6-9). By way of the application of this principle, one must not distort any teaching of Christ. Should he do so, he risks losing his relationship with God. Our relationship with God is tied to what we believe (Heb. 11:6).

What Is Error?

A person in error is a person who is deceived. The Greek term plane means “error, deception, deceit.” In all New Testament occurrences of plane, the word refers figuratively to moral (Rom. 1:27) or spiritual (1 John 4:6) deception or error. Paul’s appeal for maturity is so that people no longer be deceived by ‘error’ (Eph. 4:14; 2 Pet. 2:18; 3:17; Jude 11).[ii]
Louw and Nida describe plane as the content of that which misleads or deceives-‘misleading belief, deceptive belief, error, mistaken view.’[iii]

Peter warned Christians about the untaught and unstable who distort Paul’s writings and the rest of the Scriptures to their own destruction. He warned, “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:17-18).

James 5:19-20 ( NASB ) 19My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, 20let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Interestingly, we are not told which truth this “brother” has strayed from. We are told that he has strayed from the truth. J. W. Roberts makes this comment: “To wander from the truth is to be deceived (mistaken) and thus led away from the truth, the truth being the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is possible for one to deceive himself or be deceived by others.”[iv]

The origin of this problem is found in the statement “wander from the truth” (James 5:19). The truth means, of course, the Word of God. “Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17). Unless the believer stays close to the truth, he will start to drift away. “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (Heb. 2:1, nasb).[v]

False Doctrine is Evil

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). Lying to another by giving them false hope is cruel. Allowing a person to remain in deceived, when the truth could lead them out of error is cruel and criminal, even by human terms (Ezek. 3:18-21).

A person who supports the teaching of false doctrine participates in its “evil deeds” (2 John 10-11).

A person who leads others to believe a false doctrine also leads them into “further ungodliness” and may shipwreck their faith (2 Tim. 2:16-18; Tit. 1:10-11).

A person who presses a false belief or practice to the division of the church has committed great sin (Titus 3:10-11), such sin that will cause a person not to inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21).

The Perversion of the Gospel

Galatians 1:6-9 ( NASB ) 6I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

The Judaizers of the first century who sought to bind circumcision and the Law of Moses on Christians taught many others things right. There is no indication they denied the resurrection, denied the deity of Jesus, or contended for salvation before baptism. We have no reason to believe they contended for instrumental music in worship, sought to change the Lord’s Supper, or believed in denominational Christianity. They taught contrary to the gospel and were accursed for it.

When people think they can pervert or distort the will of God on any matter, they have become in essence “lawless.” They are acting outside the will and teaching of God. Distorting God’s teaching is a crime against God; it may be presumptuous rebellion or callous indifference. In either case it shows no love for God.

Paul “renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God” (2 Cor. 4:2). The cunning of the devil comes in his ability to distort the truth just enough to lead one into error. Rat poison is mostly corn meal with very little poison. It is mostly corn meal so that the rats will eat it but just enough poison so that it will kill. The devil and his apostles appear as angels of light to deceive the elect, but their end shall be according to their deeds (2 Cor. 11:13-15).

Whether in matters large or small, distorting God’s Word is offensive to God and sinful. Any sinful behavior arising from distorted teaching that disturbs the brethren is sand theology (Matthew 7:24-27).

1 Timothy 4:13, 16 ( NASB ) 13Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. … 16Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.

Here again, the principle applies to teaching on any topic. If what one teaches does not matter, such language as Paul uses in 4:16 is indeed absurd. Teaching does indeed affect one’s salvation. If it is a matter of salvation, it must also be a matter of fellowship.

People Who Cause Division with Their Teaching

Romans 16:17-18 ( NASB ) 17Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.

Titus 1:9-11 ( NASB ) 9holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.

Titus 3:9-11 ( NASB ) But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.

The term “factious” (heretikos) refers to a person who is a schismatic, who divides a congregation with false teaching. Such a one is to be isolated from the community.[vi]

Romans and Titus tell several things about schismatics in the church.

1. Their motives are selfish.

2. They use deceitful means to influence the unsuspecting.

3. Their teaching is contrary to the apostolic teaching.

4. They create dissensions and factions.

5. They are to be “watched,” “turned away from,” and “rejected.”[vii]

Jimmy Jividen noted this about schismatics:

Schismatics will be judged by God for their destructive behavior in the fellowship of the church. They also must be judged by the church itself. Those who cause division in the church must not be tolerated. The body of Christ must cut off any member who is divisive. If they do not, the body itself will be destroyed. Every church split could have been prevented if the church had excluded the schismatics from its fellowship before they formed a party.[viii]

Jude 11-13 ( NASB ) 11Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. 12These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; 13wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.

Jude 1:17-19 ( NASB ) 17But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, 18that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” 19These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.

Testing the spirits

1 John 4:1-3 ( NASB ) 1Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.

The Scriptures regard the Bereans as noble, “for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

2 Timothy 2:15-18 ( NASB ) 15Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 16But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.

While the message of the Lord to the Ephesian church in Revelation shows disappointment for their loss of love, the Lord praises them for testing the false apostles and dealing with them (Revelation 2:2-3). Jesus found fault with the church at Pergammum for holding to the teaching of Balaam and the teaching of the Nicolaitans (Rev. 2:14-16). The Lord warned them to repent or he would come and make war against them with the sword of his mouth.

The Lord rebuked the church at Thyatira for their willingness to tolerate false teachers with their false doctrine which led to immorality and error. The Son of God gave them time to repent, but it is clear there would be a limit to his grace, since she does not want to repent of her immorality (Rev. 2:20-23). The Lord rebuked the act of tolerating in this instance. Tolerating false doctrine allows it to perpetuate. It is sinful not to speak out and act against false doctrine.


[i] BDAG, alethos, 44.

[ii] William D. Mounce, Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 217.

[iii] Louw, Johannes P. ; Nida, Eugene Albert: Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament : Based on Semantic Domains. electronic ed. of the 2nd edition. New York : United Bible societies, 1996, c1989, S. 1:366.

[iv] J. W. Roberts, “The Letter of James,” The Living Word Commentary, 178.

[v] Wiersbe, Warren W.: The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1989, S. Jas 5:19

[vi] Stephen Renn, Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, “heretic.”

[vii] Jimmy Jividen, Koinonia, 99.

[viii] Ibid.

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186 Comments on “Proposition One: Doctrinal error can lead to eternal damnation, by Phil Sanders”


  1. Phil,

    I appreciate very much that you are participating in this dialogue–indeed, to all of you, may I quote the wise one from “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou”–“I’m with you fellows.” I pray for fruitful dialogue.

    There is so much in your first posting, Phil. It is difficult to focus when there so much is offered.

    Given your proposition, I would ask that you define “doctrinal error.” Is that any kind of error that does not measure up to all the teachings of the New Testament? Or, is there more focus than that? I’m unsure of your intent.

    I will focus on Matthew 7 for my contribution since there is too much to comment upon in a brief note like this. It seems to me that Matthew 7 is focused on the ethics of the kingdom of God. “Doing the will” and “hearing” the words here is directly related to the Sermon on the Mount. Clearly, one who does not practice the ethics of the kingdom is not doing the will of God. I think we can find common ground here.

    “Doing the will of God,” however, does not mean–or does it?–the complete and perfect obedience to the Sermon on the Mount. We fallibly, feebily seek the kingdom of God, but we still worry, we still fail to pray as we ought (and we rarely fast), etc. We even disagree among many of us what it means to love our enemies (that is, may we love our enemies as we kill them in Iraq?).

    At what point will “error” in seeking to practice the ethics of the kingdom condemn us to eternal death? I think that is the question that beats most significantly in my heart.

    Thanks, my brother.

    • Robert Baty Says:

      Indeed, not unexpedtedly, there is much in Phil’s first posting and it is, will be, difficult to focus.

      I would hope, as earlier expressed, that substantive issues could be explored, refined, and defined so that a truly profitable discussion might be had as it relates to “us”.

      Otherwise, as already indicated, the discussion might grow by geometric proportions leaving “us” by the wayside.

      Proposition:

      > Doctrinal error can lead to
      > eternal damnation.

      I think Phil, Greg, Jay and Todd need to either explicitly agree or disagree on the meaning of those terms and that proposition before loading us up with commentary and citations.

      Otherwise, I would suggest they choose a more fundamental point of disagreement to try and resolve.

      Sincerely,
      Robert Baty

      • Robert Baty Says:

        My statement of the proposition above was simply taken from the title of the article. The more formal statement of the proposition from the text of the article is:

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

        I have earlier referenced the problem, at least in my mind, with such language as “abundantly clear”. I make note here as a supplement to my earlier observations.

        Sincerely,
        Robert Baty

    • Gerry Parker Says:

      Phil,

      Yes, doctrinal error can lead to eternal damnation. But does ALL doctrinal error lead to eternal damnation? Are there some doctrines/teachings more important than others?

      As for Matt. 7, Jesus had been speaking of good trees and bad trees. Good fruit and bad fruit. And just prior to that he spoke of the false prophets.

      These are people who are deliberately deceiving. They are not just making mistakes by teaching something false. They are teaching false deliberately.

      In the past I have certainly taught things I now no longer believe to be true. Even though now I know they were false, I also know that I taught them as true. Surely God’s grace was sufficient then and now to save me.

      God bless,
      Gerry Parker

    • philsanders Says:

      John Mark,
      I am glad that you are commenting. I do appreciate that you are taking time to wade in on this discussion.

      I did define error in my post. When someone departs from the teaching of the New Testament by adding, subtracting, distorting, or substituting, that person is in error. Error arises from being misled, deceived, or mistaken in understanding what the Scripture says. Satan is a master deceiver.

      I realize Matthew 7:21-27 would apply to the Sermon on the Mount, but it also applies to his entire teaching revealed to us through the apostles. Which commandment of God from the lips of Jesus can anyone ignore or distort and be guiltless. Matthew 7 is not out of context with other passages like Luke 11:28 or John 8:31 or Luke 9:26, where Jesus gives great value to his words.

      When is imperfect obedience really obedience? When is half a gospel the whole gospel? When is doing some of what God desires equivalent to observing all that he commands (Mt. 28:20)? I do not know of any command we can dismiss or leave out with impunity. Isn’t this what James is saying in James 2:10-12? Atomistic hermeneutics opens lots of doors for people to ignore what they wish.

      Matthew 7:15-20 also needs to be taken into account with Matthew 7:21-27. There is more going on in the Sermon on the Mount than ethics. Truth also matters.

      phil


      • Phil,

        Thanks, Phil. I will comment when I am able and think appropriate. Blessings on your adventure, my brother.

        I only wanted to make sure I understood. I am correct in understanding that you are affirming: (1) Any devitation from any teaching of the New Testament is an error that can lead to eternal damnation and (2)Imperfect obedience is disobedience so all obedience, to be saving, must be perfect.

        I agree that we cannot dismiss or leave out any command of God. I agree truth matters. I agree that atomistic hermeneutics (by which I mean extracting a text from its context in order to link it with another text that has nothing to do with the context of the previous text) is dangerous.


  2. May I add one additional point? I would assume that the command to “love your enemies” is a “doctrinal” matter, that is, it is a teaching of Jesus. Yet, we have such wide disagreement about how to understand and apply that teaching. Some kill others in war while others oppose it, some practice biogtry (more so in the past, for sure) while others oppose it,etc. My point is that we fallibly and imperfectly understand and practice this fundamental teaching of Jesus. Is any violation, no matter the circumstances, of that command mean one is eternally condemned?

    • rhbrandon Says:

      We have the same problem with “love your neighbor as yourself”. Straightforward-enough command technically; a life-time challenge nonetheless.

      • Alan Says:

        How many of us have obeyed the “doctrine” of Jesus when he taught us how to give a banquet?

        Luk 14:12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid.
        Luk 14:13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,
        Luk 14:14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

        This is not a complicated theological teaching. There’s not much to argue about here. Yet how many of us have actually obeyed it? Are we therefore all condemned?

    • philsanders Says:

      John,
      “Wide understanding”: what an interesting phrase! The fact that people differ does not make truth unattainable. I suppose we could think of any number of commands and find “wide understanding.” This is why we bring other principles in Scripture into focus. No one has perfect understanding, I grant that. I know I do not. But we are not speaking of my ability or inability; we are speaking of what the Scriptures say. Most folks know when they are full of hate for others.

      People are full of excuses and schemes to try excuse their misbehavior. It is this desire to find a way around truth that leads to “error”: mistaken, misleading beliefs and practices.

      phil


      • We can both agree, Phil, that neither us has perfect understanding. And I also am talking about what the Scriptures say…they say, “love your enemies.”

        I did not say truth was unattainable. I only pointed out that some people disagree about how to obey this command. This is an attempt to excuse disobedience but rather an attempt to tease out how good brothers and sisters can disagree about even a clear and plain statement in Scripture, that is, “love your enemies.”

        Now, let’s be particular. Within our historic brotherhood we have had people who said “love your enemies” means “don’t kill anyone even in a ‘just’ war” and others who said that “love your enemies” does not prohibit defending your country against agression by killing the enemy. Both of these groups seek to follow God and neither of them wants to leave out any command of God. Both believe they are following the command of Jesus to love their enemies.

        One of them, however, is in “error,” but yet historically we have embraced both within the fellowship of the body of Christ. Is this an imperfection (one of them is obeying imperfectly) that we willingly fellowship by assembling in the same congregation and eating the Supper together?

        Gratnted that error can lead to eternal damnation, does this error? How do we discern?


      • My bad…left an important negative. “This is NOT an to excuse…” Sorry about that!


      • Oh, Phil, notice that I did not say “wide understanding,” but “wide disagreement.” :-)

  3. Zach Cox Says:

    Phil,

    Could you provide a little clarification for me? Your proposition is “The New Testament makes it abundantly clear that doctrinal error CAN lead to eternal damnation.” Are you affirming that it is merely possible (and thus various circumstances would dictate when and where) or that it WILL lead to eternal damnation, period. Just seeking some clarification here. Also, what is your definition of “false doctrine?” Is it simply anything that is not true? Is it your possition that all false doctrine/error damns?

    Thanks,

    Zach Cox

  4. Zach Cox Says:

    Sorry, John Mark must have hit submit before me and asked the same questions; I didn’t mean to sound redundant.

    Zach

  5. Zach Cox Says:

    I think the war issue serves this discussion well. Many believe the kingdom message of Jesus to be one of non-violence and sacrificial suffering (“love your enemies” and “turn the other cheek”), while others believe it is permissible for kingdom people to further kingdom values through violence and war (having trouble coming up with supporting statements from Jesus on this one). Is it the case that one group is by default false teachers and lost, since both can’t be true? Or is there something that allows us to disagree on this doctrinal matter while maintaining Christian fellowship?

    • Terry Says:

      I have not heard of members of Churches of Christ who “believe it is permissible for kingdom people to further kingdom values through violence and war.” However, loving your neighbor can be complicated. In fact, it could involve the use of force. For example, if a woman is being raped, is it not the loving thing to intervene with force if the rapist will not stop after a verbal warning? I may be doing the loving and just thing in opposing violence with force. Just something to think about.

      • Zach Cox Says:

        Terry,

        You may very well be right, but my point was not to discuss the merit of the various positions, but simply to highlight the existence of the differing interpretations.

        Thanks,

        Zach

      • J. M. Branum Says:

        Once upon a time the Churches of Christ took the values of the Sermon on the Mount seriously, which included Jesus’ teachings on non-violence (one of the most beautiful examples was of Cordell Christian College in Cordell, OK, which was shut down by the US government because the faculty refused to tell their students that they should enlist in the military).

        The COC’s rejection of these teachings in the post-WWII era is one of the reasons I have left the tradition and am now a Mennonite.


  6. [...] Posted on April 2, 2009 by Jay Guin Phil Sanders has posted Proposition 1: Doctrinal Error Can Lead to Eternal Damnation. [...]

  7. Royce Says:

    One must perfectly understand and perfectly obey everything Jesus taught (or is “doctrine” broader than that?) or be damned? Wow, I understand sanctification to be a process.

    In the history of Restoration Movement churches who has caused more divisions? The correct answer is not “change agents” or “progressives” or “liberals”. No,it has been men who thought they had everything about God and following him down to a pattern anyone could follow and rigidly demanded that others follow what they said. The problem arose when not everyone agreed with what “doctrine” was and what was “authorized”.

    I appreciate the forum and you Phil for leading off on what will be and informative discussion, and I sincerely hope will bring brothers together and glory to Christ.

    I contend that precisely the reason Jesus gave himself for us is that not one of us can perfectly obey God while we live in this sinful flesh. Because Jesus perfectly obeyed I am a child of God. Therefore all glory is His, every good is His good, and my only hope is His eternal faithfulness.

    Royce

    • Robert Baty Says:

      As I read it, neither Phil, Greg, Todd or Jay is proposing the following suggested by Royce:

      > One must perfectly understand
      > and perfectly obey everything
      > Jesus taught or be damned.

      Is that what they call a “strawman”?

      I also don’t think there is any basis for deciding the issues based on counting up the number of divisions which might be attributed to various positions.

      Sincerely,
      Robert Baty

      • Royce Says:

        Phil’s opening is that doctrinal error can cause one to loose his soul and be damned.

        Who decides which doctrine? Where is the line one must cross to be that far in error? Phil’s opening is subjective, he knows what that line is for everyone perhaps but another conservative might include another doctrine or leave one off. And, that is exactly what has happened down through the history of our movement. The result is churches have split, the splinters have split,and the splits have split.

        Robert this is hardly a strawman. It seems your position is one of a blindman.

        Royce

      • Zach Cox Says:

        Robert,

        It might not be as much of a “strawman” as you suggest, for Phil asks the rhetorical question, “When is imperfect obedience really obedience?” He will have to clarify, but the impression is left that perfect obedience is required.

      • Robert Baty Says:

        Royce, Zach:

        I see that you are trying to change the subject.

        The proposition Royce suggested and that I described as a “strawman” is:

        > One must perfectly understand
        > and perfectly obey everything
        > Jesus taught or be damned.

        I fail to see such a position reflected in Phil’s actual proposition or related discussion.

        I certainly didn’t get the “impression” that Phil was claiming “perfect obedience is required” or that he, “perhaps, knows where the line is for everyone”.

        Sincerely,
        Robert Baty

      • nick gill Says:

        “When is imperfect obedience really obedience?” – Phil Sanders

        If imperfect obedience is not *really* obedience, then only perfect obedience can *really* be obedience.


    • Royce, I would be interested to see a documentation of your assertion regarding who has caused more divisions. However, the argument itself is prejudiced. The more things that people note as being matters of doctrine will provide more matters on which there could be division. The person who has the least amount of convictions, therefore, might be able to claim he had divided people the least. Does this make his position of non-conviction morally and ethically superior?

      • Royce Says:

        Oh so easy Kevin! Just count up the splits in the conservative wing or traditional wing of the coC over agains the splits in the progressive wing.

        Either you don’t know much about the coC’s history, you don’t want to admit the truth about us, or….???

        Royce

      • Matt Clifton Says:

        Royce,

        The reason “progressive” congregations do not split as often is because they split off from conservative congregations in the first place. So when you say “conservative congregations split more,” it is because progressives leave because they do not agree with the doctrine.

        Also, progressives are less likely to hold to a clear conviction on doctrine, therefore there is nothing to defend. If a congregations has an understanding that basically any understanding of doctrine is acceptable, it’s pretty easy to stay together. :)

        Matt

  8. Stephen Cureton Says:

    How does Romans 14 apply to these differences? Where does false doctrine began instead of just one christian having a weaker faith? I’m sure we can understand that Christ died for both the weak and the strong, however, the most responsibility is levied on the stronger christian by submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

    • Alan Scott Says:

      I aggree, Stephen. I think Roans 14 is left out too often in the discussion of doctrinal disagreement. Particularly verses 14-19, “I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.”

      I emphasize one verse again – “do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil.”

      When does this apply? Only with food? Or does it apply with ANYTHING that God has chosen to be silent on – on ANYTHING that does not take away from putting our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation?

      It seems that this verse is saying that we are NOT to call something a sin that God has not called a sin.

      Blessings

    • Alan Says:

      Romans 14 instructs both the weak and the strong. Too often people debate which position is the “weak” one as if that somehow that can absolve them of responsibility. The bottom line of Romans 14 is that both parties have a responsibility to accept the other party, and to do what leads to peace and mutual edification. The natural tendency is for the one who abstains to condemn the one who does not and for the one who partakes to look down on the one who does not. (Think about our modern day controversies…) Both parties are “fully convinced” they are right. But they are both commanded to accept one another.

      The passage even teaches us to keep what we believe about the matter between ourselves and God. That’s not theologically complicated. But how many of us obey it?

      • Bob Brandon Says:

        When one looks at Rom. 14, it is clear that – while Paul is able to distinguish, relatively speaking, the more mature in faith from those less mature in faith, as he does elsewhere in his writings – both sets of disputants consider themselves to be “strong”:

        “The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him.” (v. 3)

        When Paul is writing the Roman Christians, he’s addressing folks who are already drawing lines and making such things “salvation themes,” accusing those who don’t follow certain practices as being in “doctrinal error.”

        It’s why I now find the New Testament comforting as well in a back-handed sort of way: we can know that we are facing similar situations as which confronted our first-century forebearers. We don’t “have to” restore the first-century church; it, so to speak, “restores” itself. Er.

      • Matt Clifton Says:

        Alan,

        How do we know Romans 14 is being applied to doctrinal matters, and not matters of opinion? This seems to be Paul’s gist, to me.

        What do you think?

      • Alan Says:

        Matt,

        Romans 14 addresses people who had contradictory understanding of the teachings (“doctrine”) of eating meat, drinking wine, and observing sacred days. There is biblical teaching (“doctrine”) on all three of these topics. Jesus himself taught that all foods are clean (Mark 7:19). It is every bit as appropriate to call these topics “doctrine” as any other topic communicated to the church through the scriptures. If not, why not?

      • Matt Clifton Says:

        Alan,

        Sorry to be vague with terminology. Romans 14 is addressing how to handle optional or doubtful matters. It is not referring to matters of obligation.

        One would be hard-pressed to fit a matter of obligation into Romans 14, since it seem to put God into the position of being a respecter of persons.

        Thanks!

        Matt

      • Alan Says:

        Matt,

        Could you define “matters of obligation” scripturally? And can you show me from the scriptures how a “matter of obligation” cannot be a “disputable” matter? (διακρισεις διαλογισμων)

        Note, Romans 14 does not say anything about these disputable matters being “optional.” In fact, the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats. It’s certainly not optional to him!

      • Matt Clifton Says:

        Alan,

        I’ll answer this one more post, and then we need to find a better place to discuss this between us. This format is too confusing for anyone to benefit much from.

        As for matters of obligation, it would certainly be something that is not optional in order to be pleasing to God (this is my own definition).

        For instance, the baptism in water of a believer is not an option, it is a matter of obligation. Someone may claim baptism is a optional matter, but God does not see it this way (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38).

        In fact, Paul does give the impression that Christians have the option of “observing the day” or not observing the day. But you could not apply the arguments Paul is making in Romans 14 to a matter like baptism, because if you did then you would through the inspired apostle into contradiction, not only with himself, but also the rest of the New Testament.

        And yes, Paul is saying one can sin against his own conscience. But then, he is talking about matters of option. One’s conscience cannot be their guide in matters of obligation, such as salvation, worship, and service.

        Anyway, hope these answers will suffice. If not, let’s “get off the street” here and go to our own blogs to discuss. Contact me if you want to talk further.

        God bless,

        Matt

      • Alan Says:

        I guess I asked a hard question. ;-)

        In your answer I see human reasoning, not scriptural instruction. I think there is a better answer.

        Rom 14:22b Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.

        So there is a limit to how far your mistaken beliefs and practices can go and still be covered by grace. But God (through Paul) places responsibility for those things on the individual. The instruction to accept one another still stands. God will sort out those disputed areas.

        It is true that there are limits to the effectiveness of this form of discussion. But I think these questions need to be discussed in the light, where the lines of reasoning can be examined by both sides. Graceconversation.com is the right place for that to happen IMO.

      • Robert Baty Says:

        Matt, you wrote, in part:

        > “This forum is too confusing…

        Again, I have to take part of the blame for that. I just “failed” in my feeble efforts to get the boys to stay on track, work out the fundamentals first, and then decide how best to “converse” about resolving their differences.

        Jay has promised us something better, but he hasn’t shown up with his “pudding” yet.

        Sincerely,
        Robert Baty

      • Matt Clifton Says:

        Alan,

        Do you think baptism is a matter of obligation, or do you think it is optional?

        If you say it is a matter of obligation, then matters like baptism are not what Paul is referring to in Romans 14.

        You can call that human reasoning if you wish, but I prefer to call it using that thing between my ears that God gave me. :)

        BTW, I did not ask you to have a private conversation, but rather on a calmer site. But that’s your choice. I have to place emphasis on different areas of ministry. Maybe I’ll comment from time to time, but I cannot afford to have long, drawn-out discussion here. I feel like I’m spitting in the ocean.

        Take care,

        matt

      • Alan Says:

        Do you think baptism is a matter of obligation, or do you think it is optional?

        It’s hard to say without a reliable definition of a “matter of obligation.” God promised forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit to believers who repent of their sins and are baptized into Jesus. The text explicitly tells us that promise applies to everyone God will call. So I can teach that with the full authority of scripture. I’m not aware of any alternative teaching I am similarly authorized to teach to lost souls today. And I certainly am not free to make up promises for God to keep. So you tell me, do I consider baptism a “matter of obligation?”

        If you say it is a matter of obligation, then matters like baptism are not what Paul is referring to in Romans 14.

        You still have not provided scriptural proof for your premise, that “matters of obligation” are excluded from the Romans 14 instructions.

      • Matt Clifton Says:

        Alan,

        If you teach that baptism is necessary for salvation (which it seems hard to pin you down on anything in particular), then baptism is an obligation toward God.

        In Romans 14, Paul was saying either eating or not eating is okay with God. If you transfer baptism into this passage, you would make Paul to say, either baptism or non-baptism is okay with God. This would conflict with clear teaching of scripture (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38).

        Try it with lying. The Bible says lying is a damnable sin (Rev. 21:8). Therefore it to refrain from lying is an obligation, not an option. If you make Paul to say one can lie or not lie, either is okay with God, then clearly this contradicts scriptures.

        Now Alan, I get the feeling we are just spinning our wheels talking to one another. We have never been able to connect with one another, so I will let this conversation die out here, at least for my part.

        God bless you, Alan.

        Matt

      • Alan Says:

        Matt wrote:

        If you teach that baptism is necessary for salvation (which it seems hard to pin you down on anything in particular), then baptism is an obligation toward God.

        I’ve stated my belief pretty clearly I think, which I think you would agree follows what is written in Acts 2. I can give my opinion on what I read “between the lines” but my opinions are not the issue.

        In any case, I can attempt to infer a definition of “matters of obligation” from your latest post. It seems you call things matters of obligation if they are manditory for salvation. So, if we can find scripture making a certain thing a matter of salvation, then you say that matter is not included in “disputable matters” as addressed in Romans 14. Am I close?

        But Romans 14 itself makes the matters under discussion a matter of salvation. The one who doubts is condemned if he eats. So, if I’ve understood your definition right, then your premise fails (that is, the premise that Romans 14 does not address matters of obligation). There is an obligation to obey what we believe to be true, even within the context of Romans 14.

      • Matt Clifton Says:

        Alan,

        If you make Romans 14 about anything other than optional matters of conscience (baptism, for instance, is not a matter of option), then you in effect make salvation about agreeing with one’s own conscience. Then, in that case, man makes the rules.

        This is why Romans 14 cannot be about matters such as baptism, the Lord’s supper, etc. To make it so throws all of the Bible into contradiction.

        There is an obligation to obey what we believe to be true, even within the context of Romans 14.

        But we are talking about optional things in Romans 14, Alan. One may eat the meat, or not. God does not care. If you are weak in the faith, though, and you think it is wrong to eat, then you sin against your own conscience by eating.

        God has not commanded anything in regard to the church regarding eating meats, other than all things are clean.

        Now, to insert a command of God into Romans 14 would be wrong. Let’s stay with baptism. God has commanded baptism for the the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38, etc.). One cannot put that into Romans 14 and say, “I am free not to be baptized, therefore I cannot condemn other who are not baptized.” Baptism is not something we have been released from, but rather something that we are bound to for entry into the covenant in Christ’s blood.

        You can, however, insert optional matters in here. For instance, one man thinks Christian liberty allows him to play card games, but another thinks it is sinful. Neither one is condemned by God, because it is an optional matter.

        Alan, this part of the thread has gone on way too long, so you can have the last word. God bless.

        Matt

      • Matt Clifton Says:

        Alan,

        If you make Romans 14 about anything other than optional matters of conscience (baptism, for instance, is not a matter of option), then you in effect make salvation about agreeing with one’s own conscience. Then, in that case, man makes the rules.

        This is why Romans 14 cannot be about matters such as baptism, the Lord’s supper, etc. To make it so throws all of the Bible into contradiction.

        There is an obligation to obey what we believe to be true, even within the context of Romans 14.

        But we are talking about optional things in Romans 14, Alan. One may eat the meat, or not. God does not care. If you are weak in the faith, though, and you think it is wrong to eat, then you sin against your own conscience by eating.

        God has not commanded anything in regard to the church regarding eating meats, other than all things are clean.

        Now, to insert a command of God into Romans 14 would be wrong. Let’s stay with baptism. God has commanded baptism for the the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38, etc.). One cannot put that into Romans 14 and say, “I am free not to be baptized, therefore I cannot condemn other who are not baptized.” Baptism is not something we have been released from, but rather something that we are bound to for entry into the covenant in Christ’s blood.

        You can, however, insert optional matters in here. For instance, one man thinks Christian liberty allows him to play card games, but another thinks it is sinful. Neither one is condemned by God, because it is an optional matter.

        Alan, this part of the thread has gone on way too long, so you can have the last word. God bless.

        Matt

      • Brad Says:

        Matt, would you care to explain the idea behind a ‘sin against my own conscience?’ The whole idea sounds ludicrous to me. So, if it’s a sin against MY conscience, that means it’s not covered by the blood of Christ, correct? Because if it’s ME sinning against ME, then all I have to do is forgive myself, right? Funny, but I always thought every sin I commited, whether perpetrated against myself or someone else, was ultimately against God, because it transgressed the righteousness of God. If it’s bad enough that I no longer have salvation because of it, I don’t think I’d argue with God that it was only a sin against my own conscience.

      • Matt Clifton Says:

        Brad,

        Things are becoming a little to contentious, and I do not think any good is being done. So with that, you guys can have the last word.

        God bless you all as you seek His will,

        Matt

      • Alan Says:

        Matt wrote:

        If you make Romans 14 about anything other than optional matters of conscience (baptism, for instance, is not a matter of option), then you in effect make salvation about agreeing with one’s own conscience. Then, in that case, man makes the rules…

        You are presenting human reasoning for your position. Whether or not you are right in the examples you cite, I don’t have any confidence that the rules you derive by human reasoning will lead to accurate conclusions in every other case. That is the core issue in our conversation and in the more general discussion on this site. The rules that make sense to you lead to conclusions that some of us don’t think are warranted by what the text actually says.

        Romans 14 addresses controversies on which both sides are fully convinced in their own minds. One side thinks a certain action is prohibited, and the other side thinks it is optional. Your rule would cause the former group to condemn the latter group in every case. But the passage clearly commands them not to do so. So that rule cannot be correct.

  9. Chr1sch Says:

    I would also agree that this is too long and very hard to follow. Too many points at once.

  10. Alan Says:

    Matt 7:21 comes at the end of the Sermon on the Mount. I think those who heard this sermon would have felt it obvious that he was referring to the teaching he had just given them. It’s certainly not intended as a proof text to be applied to any and every ‘error.’ If that were the case, then it would conflict with Romans 14.

    2 John 7-11 comes in a very short letter. John had many other things to teach them, and preferred to do that in person on his upcoming visit. But only one issue rose to the level of urgency requiring him to write the letter: the heresy denying that Jesus had come in the flesh. John wasn’t telling the church to disfellowship over every disagreement. He was addressing a specific heresy. One could make a case that this passage could also be applied to other equivalent heresies (that Jesus did not rise from the dead; that Jesus was merely a prophet…etc) But to apply it to matters that clearly are not equivalent (kitchens, communion cups, musical instruments…) is to twist the scriptures.

    The passages you quoted in 1 Timothy and Titus speak of moral issues and godly living. Sound doctrine in the pastoral epistles is internally defined by the matters he addressed.

    Romans 16 speaks of people being slaves of their own appetites. So this is addressing matters like self control, morality, and godly living.

    Jude speaks of people following their own lusts, and being worldly minded. So once again the passage refers to moral matters, not the agenda of the worship assembly.

    1 John 4:1-3 which you quoted severely damages your case. It clearly states that the issue is whether one accepts that Jesus came in the flesh. “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.” How much clearer could it be?

    You wrote:

    The Lord rebuked the church at Thyatira for their willingness to tolerate false teachers with their false doctrine which led to immorality and error.

    This is an excellent illustration of how all these scriptures are being misused, applying them to areas far from what they actually address. Look at what the Lord rebuked the church at Thyatira for:

    Rev 2:20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.

    She was rebuked for leading people into sexual immorality and eating food sacrificed to idols. But you have added “and error” to the list, as though the passage applies to any and every mistake of doctrine. That is not what the passage says. Adding “and error” to the list leads to drawing unwarranted conclusions from the passage.

    As others have said, there are so many points made in the article that it is difficult to discuss the article completely in this medium. So I will stop there for now. The fact that I have not addressed some points in the article should not be taken as conceding those points. It would be helpful to the discussion to limit the scope of future articles so that topics can be more easily discussed.

    Thank you for agreeing to participate in this discussion. It think God wants these matters discussed, and I respect your decision to engage in the discussion.


    • Your mention specifically of Thyatira lacks an element of historical consideration. It fails to address the possibility of the prophetic use of the term “sexual immorality” to refer to false religion. The reference to the food sacrificed to idols buttresses this possibility.

      • Bob Brandon Says:

        What would be the alternative “prophetic use” of the term? What it clearly refers to is a problem with syncretism that would have been a matter common for many believers from Gentile backgrounds.

  11. Jason Fikes Says:

    So often doctrine and truth in Scripture are not simply facts that must be affirmed. As several above have suggested, in Matthew 7, doing the will of the Father must seen in the context of the Sermon on the Mount.

    Another passage to consider in this light is Ephesians 4:17-24. “The truth that is in Jesus” and the teaching is about putting off an old self, being made new in mind, and putting on a new self. And yet there is “darkened thinking” that must be addressed.

    I think the good news breaks through ignorance and hardness of heart where people are no longer insensitive and willful.

    There is a lot more going on in this passage than an allusion to immersion (putting off the old self and putting on a new self). I would love to hear what others think about Ephesians 4:17-24 and what it says about the nature of Christian teaching

    • Alan Says:

      Great point Jason. And it doesn’t stop with verse 24. Continuing through the end of chapter 4, and chapter 5, and into chapter 6, Paul writes about godly living, righteousness, and holiness. He addresses lying, stealing, rage, anger, brawling, slander, sexual immorality, greed, obscenity…

      Note the transition in 4:17. Because the church needs to build itself up in love, he goes into all of those moral issues. That’s what sound doctrine is all about.


  12. Two points:

    1) I can agree with Phil’s proposition that “doctrinal error CAN lead to eternal damnation.” My point of disagreement is that doctrinal error MUST lead to eternal damnation.

    As has already been pointed out doctrinal error may be unintentional or deliberate. And deliberately teaching something I know to be doctrinal error raises a much different issue that teaching something I believe to be consistent with God’s will — even if you disagree with my view and understanding.

    2) Phil writes: “If it is a matter of salvation, it must also be a matter of fellowship.”

    How can that be true?
    Did Jesus not worship at the Synagogues of Israel because they had perverted the Law of Moses? Phil, this statement cannot be assumed to be true. You need to provide substantive support for such a significant assertion.

  13. nick gill Says:

    “The term ‘factious’ (heretikos) refers to a person who is a schismatic, who divides a congregation with false teaching.”

    This is simply an incorrect definition. There is nothing in the term ‘hairesis’ (schism) or ‘hairetikos’ (driven by division) to suggest ‘false doctrine’ as part of the definition.

    That is called ‘begging the question’ — trying to smuggle the answer to the dilemma into the affirmation itself.

    The term ‘hairetikos’ describes one who is driven by division. That is all the word suggests.

  14. Joe Baggett Says:

    Here is the issue. There is significant evidence to suggest that the Apostles addressed moral error in the NT and there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the Apostles addressed doctrinal error. But what was the context of doctrinal/moral error? This is important. Not all doctrines are equally important. Time and time again Jesus and the Apostles say “these things I give you are of first importance”. Now does this mean that other things the bible may speak of are not important? No, but I do believe I it suggests that some things should be understood first and only a good understand of the first things can a good understanding and context of the subsequent things be gained. I would suggest the first thing that must be understood before you get into all the finer points of the “work, worship, and organization of the church”; is the character of God and his nature. Without understating those things we can sincerely read the Bible and come up with all kinds of doctrines and rules that seem like they are supported by scripture but in brutal reality are nothing more than reading our own culture into some more obscure section of scripture. When you go back and read the Bible without the lens of trying to establish the “Work Worship ad Organization of the church” and rather ask what does this part of the bible tell us about God in his nature and character then you realize that many parts of the bible that we thought we talking about the “Worship Service” are not really talking about the format of a one hour assembly but rather a spiritual formation process within each believer. Also without understanding the nature of God first then things like women’s’ roles, weekly communion, acapella music become just as important as Jesus being God in the flesh and doctrines like that. The false teachers that Peter warns of were those who denied the deity of Jesus not those who were struggling to understand women’s roles or the specific religious acts and rituals that were to occur in one hour assembly once a week. The Anti Christ that John warns of were the Gnostics who denied the deity of Jesus and thought he just had special knowledge. I would suggest that damnation for doctrinal error is reserved mostly for those who teach things that actually undermine the foundation of Jesus Christ such as denying his deity. Beyond that we would all be in trouble because we are all in some sort of doctrinal error because we are human. I know I will be labeled a heretic for just saying this but through serious study this I have come to believe. To me legalism is reading the bible (with sincere conviction) and making up and enforcing religious laws or doctrines that on the surface seem to be supported by the bible but on a deeper level that are contrary to the nature of God. Here are some things I have come believe are manmade doctrines. The law of silence, CENI, we speak where the bible speaks and are silent where the Bible is silent. A much better saying should have been we speak where we want the bible to speak and we are silent where we want the bible to be silent. That is why we demand that women shut up during a one hour assembly but do not require them to wear a head covering. That is why we excuse the four or five times we are directly instructed to give each other a holy kiss but settle for a hand shake instead. It is human understanding that excuses one direct instruction but makes damnable error out of an issue of silence such as instrumental music. This may seem unfair but if we apply the logic Phil seems to suggest consistently and strictly we are all damned for one error or another. Notice I agree that doctrinal error can damn but disagree with the context. I also agree that moral error can damn but only when there is no longer a remnant of faith otherwise we would all be damned for that as well as we all have some sin in our life that we are willfully involved in even if it is something as seemingly insignificant as gossip or covetousness. If we say that we don’t then I would suggest that is woefully close to claiming we have no sin. Which John says is a lie.

    • Alan Says:

      Excellent comments, Joe.

      The law of silence, CENI, we speak where the bible speaks and are silent where the Bible is silent. A much better saying should have been we speak where we want the bible to speak and we are silent where we want the bible to be silent. That is why we demand that women shut up during a one hour assembly but do not require them to wear a head covering. That is why we excuse the four or five times we are directly instructed to give each other a holy kiss but settle for a hand shake instead. It is human understanding that excuses one direct instruction but makes damnable error out of an issue of silence such as instrumental music.

      This is pretty close to the core issue. If there is such thing as a disputable matter (Rom 14), surely the subjects on which the scriptures are silent would be on the list.

    • Robert Baty Says:

      “Here is the issue” as framed by Phil Sanders:

      > Doctrinal error can lead to
      > eternal damnation.

      or

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

      Would Joe, Todd and Jay “please very succinctly but specifically state their position” in reference to the propositions submitted by Phil?

      Oh, there it is from Joe; buried in his commentary:

      > “I (Joe Baggett) agree that
      > doctrinal error can damn…”

      and

      > “I (Joe Baggett) also agree
      > that moral error can damn…”

      Now, maybe Todd and Jay will be as clear, and more direct, in agreeing or disagreeing with Phil’s propositions.

      We will see.

      I suspect, given all the misdirection in response to Phil’s opening that Phil, Greg, Jay & Todd might want to reconsider how such an important discussion might need to proceed.

      For now, it looks to me like they need to work on a proposition that is “abundantly clear” and that represents a fundamental point of disagreement.

      Sincerely,
      Robert Baty

      • Robert Baty Says:

        Funny?

        I notice that Joe posted what appears to be the same article over on Jay’s blog.

        Maybe the issue was “there” and not “here” as he supposed!

        Sincerely,
        Robert Baty


    • Your comments about “CENI” are not helpful. They misrepresent the position (which I will allow it is possible you simply misunderstand) and therefore cannot make a positive contribution to the conversation intended here. From your examples, I would suggest that you mixing cultural matters with doctrinal matters and treating them equally. The first distinction is necessary before moving on to the second.

  15. laymond Says:

    “doctrinal error CAN lead to eternal damnation.”
    This is certainly true, when we form our own doctrine which cannot plainly be proven from scripture,and teach it as an infallible truth to those who depend upon others (preachers and elders) to lead them to Christ through these doctrines, then we are accountable for the destruction of others as well as our self.
    Although I have never attended a service preached explaining where two major doctrines were formed by using scripture alone without speculation. I have searched the bible over and over without being satisfied that the “Trinity and Jesus is really God” doctrines come from scripture without stretching the imagination all out of shape. As a matter of fact I have never attended a CoC sermon that attempted to explain this Catholic introduced doctrine.
    Is this one of those “silence doctrines” maybe if we don’t bring it up nobody will notice it doctrine. I won’t comment on anything except the original intent of your post, because if I commented on all you said, my comment would be longer than your post :) may God bless

  16. Joe Baggett Says:

    Phil,
    Would you please very succinctly but specifically state what you think is truth or attainable truth. If you admit that no one has a perfect understanding then would you also agree that the way we understand the scripture will always be changing as well? Because herein lies the issue. No one I know of in the churches of Christ is “adding” the catechism or the Book of Common Prayer or the Koran to the Bible as equal truth. To me that is adding. Nor is anyone suggesting that any part of the bible is not truth which to me would be subtracting. Nor is anyone being belligerently evasive. Those who argue for something different than the teachings traditionally held by the churches of Christ do so with reasons and logic. None have said well this is what we believe to be true but we are going to do something else. The heart of the issue rests in the approach to scripture not adding, subtracting and distorting. If we are going to use adding subtracting or distorting as I suppose (I may be misinformed) you mean it then we must immediately get rid of our large expensive church buildings as they are not authorized. The example of meeting in the NT is in homes and free public places there in no direct command to build them and no inference. But we do it anyway in the way you describe this is distorting the truth to adapt to our culture based on your hermeneutic. I do this to show that no hermeneutic is perfect so what you perceive as doctrinal error based on adding subtracting and distorting should be limited to only foundational issues such as the deity of Christ otherwise we risk imposing our limited understanding of scripture on others as damnable error.

  17. Mark Says:

    Error and truth are measurements of the human experience. Without people the need to understand error or truth is non existent. But since there is a human element to this issue especially in Christianity evaluating the accuracy of our lives is unavoidable. This leads us to compare ourselves in 2 different ideas in Biblical thinking. Is the Bible a human understanding of error or is it a divine measurement for us to dovetail our lives in? Could it be both?

    History teaches us much like the Bible that we can assume from the artifacts left behind. 2000 Years later as we attempt to apply the meaning of scriptures we are awe struck by the pasteurization of the original language . We are puzzled by the complexities of ancient cultures. Common sense doesn’t seem so common in a world of vacillating hermeneutics and exegesis. Where is truth or error in all the diversity of thinking? I believe we really don’t know but faith still stirs our hearts to spiritual discernments . How God will judge that is impossible know.

    • Robert Says:

      Mark

      Good statement. At times I am as cynical as Pilot when He replied to Jesus…”What is Truth?”

      I stay out of doctrinal discussions especially with the many translations of God’s word available.

      My effort is to tell my friends rthat Jesus wants to be your friend.

      Robert

      • Robert Baty Says:

        FWIW, that Robert is not this Robert.

        Between Jay’s blog and here, there are a number of Roberts and references thereto are not always immediately clear as to which is intended.

        Sincerely,
        Robert Baty

  18. Matthew Says:

    I am thankful for these type of conversations, but I am hopefully that these will be productive and on the task at hand. I am thankful for those who are spending time on this purpose.

    I did not have time to read all the comments, so this might have been addressed, just the first few between John Mark and Phil. In my opinion, two of the best thinkers in the church.

    It seems to me, that we have a “throw in the towel” mindset. I mean by this that it seems so impossible to be right about everything, that we sometimes go to the other extreme of allowing too much grace or wrongness to win (I know there are theological problems with this statement). I am thankful for these talks so that truth can prevail. I will be listening.

  19. philsanders Says:

    Joe,
    Thanks for your post. I frankly think we take the wrong approach. I have heard far too much about “our experience” as if truth arose only out of what we observe. Let’s let the Lord speak and accept by faith what He says.

    Jesus defined the truth and is the truth.
    I came to bear witness to the truth (Jn 18:37)
    I am the way, the truth, and the life (14:6)
    If you abide in my words, you will know the truth; and the truth will set you free (8:31-32)
    Grace and truth came by Jesus (Jn 1:17-18)
    Thy Word is truth (17:17)

    “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” (Jn. 18:37).

    While I am imperfect, the promise of Jesus in 8:31-32 stands. He is able to tell us what the truth is. Stay in his words, and you WILL know it.

    phil

    • FredZ Says:

      Undoubtedly there is the kind of truth that Jesus speaks of in your cited passages of Scripture. Undoubtedly! I do believe, however, that the issue is NOT whether there is an absolute truth (which there is) but, rather, what happens to us as we search for that absolute truth and likely keep missing it time and time again.

      The disciples lived and ate and breathed with “truth” but still couldn’t completely grasp it. Jesus, for our sake, spoke in parables to help us understand truth, but there were (are) many who could not (can’t) understand the essential truth of the parables. And so on.

      My belief and faith tells me that Jesus is truth and that he is the absolute arbiter of that truth. My goal is to move, with every ounce of energy I have, to an understanding of that truth.

      But what about the meantime? What happens when I misunderstand unintentionally what Jesus meant? What about when I teach mistakenly – though not in my understanding – error? What is the result of taking Scripture, piecing it together into something that seems cogent and manageable and true and then imposing it on others who don’t quite see my “pieces” of Scripture in the same way I or my tribe do?

      Thanks for engaging in these discussions. I hope God blesses this effort.

    • laymond Says:

      Phil, you and I agree wholeheartedly when you state that, “Let’s let the Lord speak and accept by faith what He says.”. And I might add be very careful not to put words in the Lord’s mouth that did not originate there.
      As you know from past conversations I am not as conservative, as you and some others, and I am not as progressive as Bobby Valentine. so I see things on both sides, but if the answer does not originate with God, I am forced to ignore it.
      I truly hope this forum will produce good, and at least some agreement. But as I feared when there were four participates instead of two, it won’t be easy nor simple. I believe it would be helpful if when one speaks the other three would be given the opportunity to comment before all others jump into the fray. It is confusing enough without every one talking at once. but I suppose Jay is the moderator and is in charge, maybe he can heard cats. :)

    • Alan Says:

      Phil wrote:

      While I am imperfect, the promise of Jesus in 8:31-32 stands. He is able to tell us what the truth is. Stay in his words, and you WILL know it.

      So, if two people disagree on (for example) the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, is that evidence that at least one of them did not stay in his words? We can easily identify many church of Christ preachers and writers in the past who lived an died without coming to consensus on that subject. At least some of these brothers died still believing in error on this subject. Are those who died in error lost eternally as a result?

      If not, why not?

    • nick gill Says:

      John 14:6 says truth is not an it.

      “I am … the truth.”

      Truth, according to Jesus, is not a collection of data.

      Stay in his words, and you will know HIM.

      nick


  20. Phil,

    I too want to thank you, Greg, Jay and Todd this venture. It is my prayer that good comes from it. I think we all agree, I really do, that there such a thing as False Doctrine. I think we agree, I really do, that some False Doctrine, can lead to damnation.

    The question that plagues my mind since you do not claim infallibility and I do not either … and I know I am most likely in “error” on some matter and I am fairly sure the same is true for you … the question of assurance comes up. How do I know the grace of God does not cover the error that I hold or that you hold? Since, as you point out, “we do not know how far the grace of God will extend to those who are unwittingly mistaken.” If I am mistaken it is unwittingly … for I have not willfully embraced any error. I assume the same is true for you. Can I lay my head on my pillow in peace at night or shall I be wondering if my unwitting error may not be covered by God’s “abundant grace?”

    You see I do not disagree with most of your individual statements. What I have a problem with is the “package” it seems to be arranged in. I believe in false doctrine. I believe we can loose our salvation. I believe God calls us to grow, mature, and test the spirits. I believe he calls us to obedience. I believe all these things.

    Yet I do not believe my unwitting mistake will cost my salvation. I sleep well precisely because my salvation does rest, not on my correct knowledge and flawless obedience but because God in Christ has made me perfect in him. In spite of my flaw … in obedience and in theology … I AM (present tense) a saint and I have been (past tense) sanctified by the power of God through Jesus Christ and his Holy Spirit. I am saved and will be saved flaws and all. The Corinthian Church is the apostolic exhibit A of this.

    What I think you fail to account for in your exposition is the difference between Rebellion against a known and accepted truth and a misunderstanding embraced or committed by one who is otherwise living in submissive faith before the Father. Scripture makes is abundantly clear that God looks at these situations differently.

    Shalom,
    Bobby Valentine

    • Robert Baty Says:

      Bobby Valentine writes, in relevant part:

      > I (Bobby Valentine) too want to
      > thank you (Phil), Greg, Jay and
      > Todd (for) this venture.

      > I (Bobby Valentine) think we agree,
      > I really do, that some False
      > Doctrine, can lead to damnation.

      I’ve been having trouble getting everyone to simply agree on Phil’s proposition, Bobby’s version appearing to be reasonably acceptable, so that the discussion might actually progress to a fundamental point of disagreement crucial to this exercise in problem solving.

      Are Jay and Todd ready to join Bobby, Phil and Greg and so begin working on the “next step” in the discussion?

      Sincerely,
      Robert Baty


      • I doubt if anyone disagrees with the proposition since the denial that Jesus has come in the flesh entails no fellowship with God.

        So, my question is: what is the significance of the proposition?

        John Mark

      • Robert Baty Says:

        Well, if the four main characters can agree with the proposed proposition, perhaps they can then move on to discussing its significance.

        Otherwise, they may wish to choose a different proposition upon which to build their conversation, or converse regarding their disagreement, if they have one, with the present proposition.

        Or, John Mark, were you talking to Bobby V. and/or about a different proposition??

        Sincerely,
        Robert Baty


  21. Laymond. Just for the record Bobby Valentine is not “progressive!” I am so conservative that I squeak, ;-)


    • Bobby,

      Yours is truly a good example of human perception based on a comparison among other fallible beings but not against a specific standard.


      • What “standard” would you use Kevin that is not based on “human perception?” The terms “conservative” or “progressive” are so nebulous in our heritage that they literally mean whatever the user chooses them to mean. To say I Believe is to say quite a bit … and I do!

    • laymond Says:

      Sorry Bobby, the few conversations we have had I came away with the impression that you were a pretty liberal thinker. Guess you can’t define a book by the cover. :)


      • I suppose, Laymond, this is where we have to distinguish between traditional and holding to scripture. If one means that I am by no means shackled to the 1950s Church of Christ or even the 1970s Church of Christ or that I am not shackled to Modernism then I suppose I can be classified as non-Traditional. But “liberal” is properly a word that describes a THEOLOGICAL orientation. When used properly there is no way on God’s Good Earth that I can be called a liberal … NOR most of those so brushed with that paint within the circle of Churches of Christ.

        I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth.

        I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord, his Virgin Birth, that he was born and suffered under Pilate, that he was crucified, buried, that he descended to the dead and was raised (literally and bodily) on the third day, that he ascended to the Father and is seated at his right hand and that he will come and judge the living and the dead.

        I believe in the Holy Spirit, the non-sectarian universal church of God, the communion of the saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life evermore in the presence of God.

        Now brother I can not be classified as liberal in ANY sense.

        What is truly “progressive” is the idea that any doctrinal error will cost one his or her salvation. That SOME could and even WILL cost one that salvation is clear but the loss of safety in the ark of grace comes with the importance of what is denied or unbelieved.

        In the post that Phil made, John Mark asked for clarification of what he meant by doctrinal error. Phil says he defined it. But Phil neither practices what he writes and neither can anyone else. The brilliance of Todd Deaver’s Facing Our Failure (see link here: http://stoned-campbelldisciple.blogspot.com/2009/01/todd-deaver-facing-our-failure-thoughts.html ) is that he shows that the logic in the post is inconsistent at best. Phil disagrees with some brothers on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Phil is either correct or his detractors are correct or they are both wrong but someone is in ERROR. Which one? I have an opinion on the matter. But Phil has not withdrawn fellowship those whom he believes to be in doctrinal error on this point … why not? Who says their error is not one that God’s “abundant grace” may not cover this “unwitting” embrace of false doctrine. So Phil at least on the practical level knows there is a pecking order of doctrinal error.

        Well enough thoughts for now …

        Shalom,
        Bobby Valentine

  22. Kim Says:

    I wonder if people could comment on God’s purpose for truth in our lives. IOW, isn’t truth usually a stepping stone toward a greater purpose? If a police officer is searching for truth, isn’t it for the purpose of solving a crime? If a cancer researcher is searching for truth, isn’t it for the purpose of discovering a cure? If someone in love is looking for truth in their interactions with the object of their affections, isn’t it for the purpose of developing a deeper relationship? (And so forth and so on.)

    Are we created to serve doctrine (truth) or was it created to serve us? Obviously, this is not a new question. And if serving truth is not in itself the goal, if it is a means to an end and not the end itself, then maybe defining God’s ultimate goal should be our first priority. Maybe if we sift the truth with that as the backdrop, we will be more enlightened and less frightened?


    • Kim,

      The purpose of truth is to draw us closer to God. When you accept error, you are on a path that diverges from God and therefore from achieving fellowship with Him. Character is at the center of this–God’s character. But God is spirit (Jn. 4:24), love (1 Jn. 4:8), AND light (1 Jn. 1:5). Thus, to be right with God requires thinking spiritually, loving properly, and adopting the standard of God’s light to all that we do, in life and as His people.

  23. Gene Wright Says:

    Phil, Sorry I didn’t get to say so long before you moved out to OK.

    Would disagreements on Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage (MDR) constitute doctrinal error? If brother A says two people can remarry after circumstances XY and be ok with God and brother B says they would be against God’s commands, isn’t brother A or B teaching doctrinal error?

    If so, how would we know if these disagreements put one in danger of losing one’s salvation?

    If not, then are questions of MDR matters of opinion? That would be a great relief to many to hear that.

  24. Charles McLean Says:

    James speaks of a brother who wanders from the truth. The discussion then shifts to “which truth” is applicable here. But Jesus declares Himself to be The Truth. I am not at all sure that either Jesus or James was speaking of a discrete set of doctrines when they spoke of “truth”; I believe they both spoke of a Person.

  25. JDH Says:

    The answer to the proposition does doctrinal lead to enternal Damnantion is obvious. Of course it can, as can many other things. IMHO the real question is where is our trust placed, in Jesus the Christ and Him crucified or in doctrines? We spend a great deal of time discussing doctrine, and basing our actions around Doctrines we have been taught are correct. Doctrine we can back up with book chapter and verse, as can the people we find ourselves discussing with. Make no mistake about that. Most of the doctrines we have are traditions. I know we don’t like to hear that, when the word tradtion is used many deny and try to cover themselves out of fear that admitting they have tradtions puts them at odds with Jesus’s words about the tradtions of men. But Jesus doesn’t say that tradtions of men are wrong! He says placing the tradtions of men ahead of the commands of God is wrong, and gives some much better examples of that then any of us can do.

    From the begining man has preverted the word of God, and always will do so. That was the problem with the Pharasies. We must be careful that we don’t testify against ourselves, when we run to doctrine as they did. Above all we should remember there are no nail holes in our hands and feet, none of us were crucified for the sins of man. Tread every carefully when we set about declaring a specific (doctrinal) action will lead to enternal damnation. Paul writes about the scriptures aren’t open for interpetation, yet many times that has been interpeted to mean we got it right other can’t disagree with us. What we do is in fact testify against ourselves.


  26. [...] issues at http://graceconversation.com. Greg’s first contribution is here. Phil’s is here. Todd’s first entry is [...]

  27. Joe Baggett Says:

    Matt,
    Matt,
    Growing up in Texas I once thought that the whole splitting thing was so called progressive vs. conservative. Then I moved to Mississippi. The churches out there didn’t even know how to spell progressive but they split over MDR, Celebrating Christmas, Small groups and so on. I respectfully disagree with your idea about it being mainly conservative vs. progressive. I now know that the division and constant splitting is due to poor theology and attitudes. The reason that progressive churches splinter less often is because they make every effort to bear with one another in love.

  28. philsanders Says:

    Joe Baggett,
    I don’t recall saying all division is progressive vs. conservative. The problem of division is at heart one of the “works of the flesh” (Gal. 5:19-21). So much of division is personality driven. Many fusses seek out a “doctrine” to justify the heart problem they already have.

    Phil

    • K. Rex Butts Says:

      Phil,

      I think you are right about so much division being personality driven. For one reason or another, we take each other and ourselves too seriously and in the process begin to anathematize each other as those each other is the enemy. This happens when each side handles legitimate conflict, disagreements, and differences of opinion in sinful ways. I have been guilty of this in the past.

      We need to remember that we all are on the same side…that is we all love Jesus, confess him as Lord and Savior, and want to bear faithul witness to him around the world. Sometimes it is even harder to remember this in a blog forum, but thank-you and thank-you to all for the great confession you continually make.

      Your brother in Christ,

      Rex

  29. Joe Baggett Says:

    Phil,
    Matt Clifton said that the division thing was conservative vs. progresive not you sorry.

  30. Royce Says:

    Matt Clifton,

    You said “The reason “progressive” congregations do not split as often is because they split off from conservative congregations in the first place. So when you say “conservative congregations split more,” it is because progressives leave because they do not agree with the doctrine.”

    This is the clear view of someone with his head firmly planted in the sand. Is there really a need to list all of the several odd factions among the most “conservative” brothers? I can quickly list perhaps a dozen or more and not one of them in the most remote way have any connection to those dreaded “progressives”.

    People who bind on other Christians their preferences and make them “salvation issues” are no different than the false teachers Paul addressed in Galations who added circumcision to the gospel, which was “another gospel” which was not really gospel at all. “Let them be accursed” is very strong language and was used for those who added to the completed work of Jesus on behalf of sinners.

    Anyone who adds to the gospel is a false teacher even if he is a member of a church of Christ.

    Royce

    • Matt Clifton Says:

      Royce,

      Since you made the assertion that you have facts to back up your opinion, it would be helpful for you to post your statistics now on what percentage of congregations that split are “conservative,” and what percentage are “progressive.” Please also reveal your sources.

      Thanks!

      Matt

  31. philsanders Says:

    Matt,
    I don’t think anyone knows that for sure. If they did, it would be wrong before the month is out. I think the problem of “division,” as a work of the flesh is something all of us has to face. We can all be tempted to become arrogant, self-assured, and divide the body. I do believe many people hunt up a doctrine to justify their wrong-headed desires.

    Phil

    • Royce Says:

      Phil,

      On this we agree, it canges often.But an honest look at history does show plenty of divisions and clearly most of those divisions were decidedly not what is now called “progressive” congregations.

      Both camps of the “Institutional” and the “Non-Institutional” churches were sectarian and alike did not hold to A.Campbell’s “Christians but not the only Christians” ideal.

      The same is true of the “one cuppers” vs. “multi cuppers”, “Sunday school, vs. “No Sunday School”, and women’s head coverings in worship, black people in worship, divorce and remarriage, paid preachers vs. non paid or non professionsal preachers, etc, etc.

      I am sure some so called “progressive” congregations have split but I don’t personally know of any. It seems that most people who come to the conclusion that more than one song leader is no more sinful than one, that raising hands in worship to God (which I am too stuffy to do) is OK and might even be scriptural, and that our common faith in Jesus is what unites Christians, they don’t have quite as much to divide over.

      I do appreciate you and the other brothers for your willingness to open up this discussion. In the end, what we have in common is far more important than anything on earth in my view.

      Royce

      • K. Rex Butts Says:

        I don’t know what sort of churches split and what sort do not. I know that Satan does not discriminate upon whom he attacks and therefore no congregation, progressive, traditional, or other is imune to Satan’s schemes.

        Grace and peace,

        Rex

      • Matt Clifton Says:

        Rex,

        Huge “amen” over here from the cheap seats.

        Matt

      • J. M. Branum Says:

        I’ve seen plenty of dividing on all sides of the aisle, and I’m not 100% convinced that this is always a bad thing.

        For instance of 2 parts of a congregation have strongly held convictions that forbid them from worshiping together, I would think it would be ideal to first see if there is any way to reconcile. But after that, why not part amicably. For that matter what is to stop these two congregations from working together on common areas where there isn’t disagreement?

        One of the best examples I can think of is that of a predominantly black church and predominantly white church in Oklahoma. Both churches are willing to compromise a great deal and were considering a merger but in the end decided not to do this. The reason — first, the minority group (in this case the black church) would have to bend the most, and for many of them, the style of worship was one that was culturally significant to them and spoke to their hearts.

        Secondly, both churches realized that they each were able to reach out to different communities better than the other.

        So, instead what they now do is have joint Sunday services I believe 1-2 times per month. They also work together in mission efforts and other common projects.

        Of course the differences here weren’t over doctrinal issues, so maybe that’s the difference, but to me this seems like a good positive example of what is possible between brothers and sisters who see things differently but want to still work together.

  32. Johnny Melton Says:

    This is a difficult post to follow. What strikes me about Phil’s thesis is that it assumes, on one hand, that because it is possible for truth to be known and attained that everyone is obligated to know and attain all of it. On the other hand, he is quite capable of acknowledging that he hasn’t attained a knowledge of all of the truth and that he doesn’t know perfectly the truth that he does know. Beyond that, I suggest that unless he is a very strange individual then he has experienced “knowing” something to be the “truth” one day, only to find some information the next day that convinced him that what he “knew” to be the “truth” was in fact error, and he was forced, because of his commitment to truth, to accept a position that he had earlier thought to be error to be, in fact, the “truth.” (I know that is convoluted, but it is my effort to illustrate the problem that I am having trying to follow all of this.)

    I know that Phil can say, along with most of us, that he doesn’t have to know all truth in order to know some truth. Agreed. The problem arises, as I have suggested above, when you discover that the truth you know today is not true. How confident can you be of your knowledge of any truth? (And no, I am not a closet agnostic. I simply know this truth: the idea that truth can only be expressed in propositional statements and understood as a series of “facts” is doomed by the limits of human language and experience.)

    Phil seems further to be able to move from the business of knowing the truth to doing or obeying the truth. He suggests that partial obedience is not obedience. I don’t want to get into a semantical argument. When is a circle not a circle? Can a geometric object that is not a precise circle still be called a circle because it approximates a circle and because the one drawing it intended for it to be a circle? I think so, but technically, a circle meets the formula x-square plus y-square equals r-square, it is simply round, but it is not a circle.

    Rather than dealing with supposition, take the case of Abraham. God called Abram and told him to leave Ur, to leave his family, and to go to a place that God would show him. Abram left Ur, but he took his father and his nephew and he went to Haran. Stephen explains Abraham’s response to God’s call in these words: “The God of glory appeared to our ancestor Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, Leave your country and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you.’ Then he left the country of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After his father died, God had him move from there to this country in which you are now living” (Acts 7:2-4). Now it has to be clear that what Abraham did according to Genesis 12:4b and Acts 7 is not precisely what God had told him to do. However, Hebrews 11:8 records, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going.” Abraham acted in faith, but his obedience was not full and complete. It was partial and flawed, but it was prompted by faith.

    Abraham’s obedience was only partial in the matter of leaving family and country and going to the land that God would show. What about his obedience when it came to the matter of the child of promise? Was Abraham fully obedient to God when he added to God’s plan a sexual union with Hagar in order to provide an offspring that he hoped God would accept as his heir? To ask the question is to answer it. However, despite this flawed obedience, here is the assessment of the matter from the preacher of Hebrews: “By faith he received power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, ‘as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore’” (Hebrews 11:11-12).

    I believe that Abraham’s faithful obedience is a model, not of what faithful obedience should be, but of what faithful obedience is. Faithful obedience should be precise and complete, but it rarely is. It is most often partial and flawed. The Good News is that God accepted Abraham’s flawed and imprecise response to his commands and called it obedience. For my part, I will take God’s assessment of what constitutes obedience over Phil’s assessment.

    • Barbara Ann Says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Johnny,and I can agree with much of what you say. As a woman of faith, and I don’t see many women responding here, I am stunned that the fellowship that I grew up in is still disagreeing over which hoops we need to be jumping through to prove that we are followers of Jesus. I have read through the comments about the CofC speaks where the Bible speaks ——–and all of you know the rest of the drill. Where great joy is found in being a follower of the Master is “Where the Bible speaks, we speak; where the Bible is silent, there is great freedom.” And, do you know what? Abraham, David, Solomon and a few others could have never sit for very long in the assembly of most Churches of Christ – one was a liar, one danced naked and one brought about the worship of other gods – wow, which one did God not use? Personally, I can’t wait to see all of these guys and Sarah (she was a liar, as well) in heaven and talk about their struggles with perfection. Just fodder for thought with all this talk about perfect obedience – from a follower of Jesus! (who should only bake casseroles and cakes for the grieving?)

    • Darin Says:

      Nice thoughts Mr. Melton.

  33. Royce Says:

    Barbara,

    Well said. I believe the greatest weakness of coC theological understanding is this simple fact. Sinners are only accepted by God based upon the perfect obedience of Jesus. So far as salvation is concerned, or staying saved (as in staying born) there is no “God’s part/man’s part”, because Jesus did man’s part and every person who finally makes it to heaven will be there because of what Jesus has done.

    In view of that we who have been born from above are to do works that fit the repentance we claim, love others unconditionally, and make Christ known in word and work the best we can. On our best day, putting in our best performance, we come far short of God’s standard which is precisely why we must have Christ perfection credited to our account.

    As my friend Edward Fudge says, the gospel is not “good does, or good views, but good news”. When we try to add our good works to the gospel equation we are in effect saying Christ’s offering of himself was not enough, a gastly sin.

    Royce

  34. philsanders Says:

    Dear Barbara Ann,

    Truth be known all of us have weaknesses. No one is suggesting in this that moral and spiritual perfection is necessary to be a Christian. When David sinned, however, he admitted it and repented (Psalm 32:1-5). What I am hearing is that one can remain in error due to grace. This is ludicrous (Rom. 6:1-2). Grace instructs people to live godly lives (Tit. 2:11-14).

    All of us understand that we need the grace of Christ; all of us struggle. We know that. The suggestion that somehow we have no responsibility to correct error and moral stain is certainly not the will of God.

    Doctrinal error is sinful, just like moral error; and both will lead to destruction if not corrected.

    phil

  35. Randy Says:

    Phil, we all pretty much agree on your points, here. We all know that one committing adultery must repent of that sin. This is clearly labeled sin in the bible, but other things are so clear. There are many other issues we divide over, and some even consider fatal/will lead to destruction if not corrected. I know of conservative members and preachers who differ on the Holy Spirit – Him residing literally in the believer or only through the written Word. Would this fall into the category of fatalism if not corrected? This is clearly a doctrinal issue and not one where we can throw in the expedient card. Also, the well known one: Instrumental Music in worship. Would this fall into the category of fatalism if not corrected? Who makes the rules, far as picking and choosing what is fatal and what is not ??

    Randy

  36. Phil Sanders Says:

    Randy,
    thanks for writing. I have said at the beginning that I do not wish to play God over anyone’s soul. My task is not to be the decision maker. I am not the Lord.

    I do believe that we each must take the harder road of looking into Scripture and reasoning out the principles and teaching there that leads us to rock rather than sand. I find some are taking the easy way out of presuming upon grace rather than asking the question: “what does God desire?”

    The self-made religion of the Pharisees is sand. It is a plant that will be uprooted. IM is a humanly planted tradition. I can read about singing. I can’t about the instrument. The instrument’s introduction into our brotherhood has caused division, because it is humanly planted and offensive to those who wish to worship as God directs.

    Perhaps one reason IM has caused trouble but not the HS issue is because IM has disrupted what we do each week, whereas the indwelling of the HS has not. IM forces choice, which is divisive by its nature.

    phil

    • K. Rex Butts Says:

      Phil,

      I think you are right as to the reason why the IM issue has been so much more disruptive than the HS issue. It seems that many of the most (but not all) divisive issues in our fellowship have been issues that directly affect our Sunday worship assemblies. Though the worship assembly is certainly important, it is far from the sum of the churches life together. With that in mind, I wonder how much some of these assembly issues that have resulted in division have been caused by personal likes and dislikes (both on the right and left) within the assembly to which people have afixed a doctrinal/scriptural attachment to the issue to justify division? I know of a congregation that was split over what style of worship songs they prefered, traditional or contemporary and it was amazing to see how both sides began plucking from scripture the passages they could use as weapons to defend their desires (pretty pathetic).

      Your brother in Christ,

      Rex

      • Matt Clifton Says:

        Rex,

        I know a congregation that split over the carpet color.

        The main thing is, if we cannot sacrifice selfish desires in all facets of our Christian lives, we are not living as Christ would have us live. If we cannot give up things we “want” in deference to God’s will, then we left our cross somewhere behind us on the road, and forgot to deny ourselves.

        God bless you,

        Matt

  37. Randy Says:

    Thanks for your reply, Phil.

    I know, at some point, you guys will discuss this matter of IM… and I will not put too much icing on the cake, at this point. My experience is that many consider IM to be outside of Gods authority, which some consider fatal. I understand you do not wish to play God over anyone’s soul, but many within the brotherhood are quite focal when it comes to IM and do not hesitate to call others apostates if they participate in such assemblies.

    You obviously consider IM going beyond what is written, but seem to hesitate to call it willful sin or a fatal error. I look forward to this discussion in the future.

    Again, thx !
    Randy

  38. Randy Says:

    Rex,

    I agree with Phil too. But, is this how we decide what is fatal and what is not? So, if it is disruptive, we conclude it to be fatal?

    We clearly have two views within the church of Christ regarding the indwelling of the HS. Both can not be correct, even if both aren’t disruptive.

    My point is if we can except each other on one doctrinal issue, why not another? What are the guidelines? We have some who call others apostates if they have an assembly with IM, and within their very own assemblies are people who have two views of the indwelling of the HS. The inconsistency is sickening. I hope for some clarification from the Authors.

    Randy

    • K. Rex Butts Says:

      Randy,

      I think I hear what you are asking. Personally, I do not believe IM to be sinful. However, I am not attempting to add instruments where I serve because I know it would cause division over an issue that is not worth the cost. Likewise, where I have served in the past, we have had members who were raised in the Idependent Christian Churches and did not believe IM was wrong. They also we not willing to attempt the introduction of IM because they believed unity was more important than division. Yet there are some CoC’s that send out video’s and other paraphelia trying to address the issue of IM for us. Those churches seem to be just as divisive as the ones they loathe by trying to force their issues on other congregations who are at peace and would become divided over such an issue. I respect the right of other congregation who determine they need to teach against IM (if that is their conviction) but why do they feel they must decide for us what should be our issues? And I can add, that in the North there are some who find it a bit insulting that these churches (which are always located in the South) continue to think they know what is best for a congregation they probably have never even visited and certainly do not understand the particular dynamics of.

      Now that I have chased a rabbit for a bit, I too am waiting to hear what the guidlines are? I have some idea as to what might be proposed and if that is the case, well…there will be some disagreement. Yet, we all can still be brethren (at least from my view point).

      Your brother in Christ,

      Rex

  39. philsanders Says:

    Randy,
    No, I do believe IM is sinful and have said so many times and in many ways. I believe its introduction has been extremely divisive and corrupting of the Lord’ worship. I cannot and will not fellowship the use of IM in worship.

    The question of this discussion seems to revolve around at what point one loses relationship with God and should be disciplined. I am not the Lord and will not presume to act in His place. What I can and must do is decide what I will and will not fellowship. I have chosen not to fellowship self-made religion, which I believe God calls sin and irreverent. I cannot join in with IM in worship any more than I could go to an X-rated movie. At what point one has so sinned as to lose his soul is God’s part. My part is to keep myself unspotted from the world.

    Phil

  40. Wayne McDaniel Says:

    Phil, In your post of 11:48 this morning, you wrote,
    “IM is a humanly planted tradition.” Yet you know the origin of instruments in the temple service. Their inclusion was not David’s idea. Please remember their origin. I have no interest in adding them to singing praise, but the position you express appears to elevate one way of interpreting scripture into an idol. Where is the fruit of joy in those “who set all others at nought.”?


    • 2 Chronicles 5:11-14 describes the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem, at which Levites played cymbals, harps, lyres and 120 trumpets, in addition to an unspecified number of singers.

      So, it’s safe to say, it was YHWH at the dedication of the Temple who introduced instrumental music into worship.

  41. Randy Says:

    Well said, Rex.

    I don’t see IM as sinful either, and hold the views you stated. Being a man from the South, :) I know what you mean by the brethren in some of our circles. And, yes….their attempts to unite, often cause more problems and division.

    I understand Phil’s argument, but if IM can be called sinful, because of misunderstanding, then the same rule should apply to the HS indwelling. What makes one doctrine a case of fatalism and the other not? Who makes the rules, and what are the guidelines? If I can extend fellowship to those who differ with me regarding the HS, surely I could do the same regarding IM.

    I just don’t understand the rules, I guess. :)

    Randy

  42. philsanders Says:

    Wayne and David,

    Just for the record. Abraham, David and Solomon were not Christians; neither was the king’s seer. The Temple is not the church.

    There is nothing in the New Testament that suggests, implies, or says the CHURCH used IM in its worship. Don’t show me OT passages to instruct the CHURCH in how to worship. The NT is God’s instructions for the church and its worship.

    Where is IM found in the church? If it were instructed by David, why did the early church in later centuries so vehemently oppose it?

    phil


    • Where in the NT is IM condemned? The only words Jesus spoke regarding worship required doing it in Spirit and in Truth.

      My post only stated a fact — the God instituted the use of instrumental music in worship. Certainly you’re not disputing that!

      And interestingly enough, it was the Jewish elders who chose to stop using it in worship following the destruction of the Temple, because they wrote that it seemed to celebratory in light of the Temple’s destruction, so they began chanting — objecting even to harmony in music — a practice that remains common today among many if not most or all Orthodox synagogues.

      To your second point, I’m happy to accept the NT as the only standard, because the NT never uses the word a capella or instrumental.

      And your last sentence implies that you’re suggesting church history defines proper doctrine — that’s quite a departure from citing NT references. We’re not instructed to build facilities. We’re not instructed to have songbooks. We’re not instructed to meet on Wednesday nights. We’re not instructed to have Bible study classes on Sunday mornings.

      And I’ve heard to citations (which perhaps you can provide) that the early church “vehemently” opposed the use of instruments. I don’t think we really know how they worshipped in Ephesus or Rome or even in Antioch. We have, in the NT, only a few fleeting descriptions of what happened in worship and none I’ve read suggest they are comprehensive descriptions or absolute instructions regarding what we should or should not do — with the single exception of Paul’s writing to the Corinthians because they had apparently so perverted the intent of the Lord’s supper.

    • Wayne McDaniel Says:

      Phil, From Rev. 14:2 and 15:2, there will apparently be harps in heaven.

      I fear that some who are vehement in their opposition to IM see that as something by which they distinguish themselves from others.
      Their opposition arising from interpretation can easily become a badge of seperation, and that goes back to our oldest sin – pride.

    • Richard May Says:

      Phil,

      For me, the absence of instruments from early assemblies is powerful. I don’t believe that Ephesians 5:19, Hebrews 13:15 or Colossians 3:16 teach anything about the use of instruments, but I do believe they reflect apostolic teaching.

      You have to wonder why, with instruments being available and with experience using them in worship, the early church didn’t use them and the NT reflects a tradition of singing alone.

  43. philsanders Says:

    Rex,
    My concern is not what the churches of the North or South think. I am greatly concerned what God thinks. Since God is silent on the use of IM in the worship, I think I should respect that and not be presumptuous to add it in. Adding the instrument is somewhat like Ahaz’s altar, something folks want but God never asked for. That is presumptuous.

    phil

    • Alan Scott Says:

      Phil,

      Since God is silent on the use of IM in the Christian worship, and you think you should respect that and not be presumptuous to add it in, should you also respect that and not be presumptuous to add condemnation in place of God’s silence? Isn’t it just as presumptuous to condemn where God has not condemned as it is to approve where God has not approved? Doesn’t Paul by inspiration of the Spirit command us to not allow what we consider good to be spoken of as evil? (Romans 14:16)

      God bless.

  44. Randy Says:

    I didn’t mean to turn this into a debate over IM. I understand Phil loud and clear, but nowhere is it ever hinted at that IM is sin, we conclude that because Paul said sing. Can we clap? How about hum? How about pat our feet rhythmically to the song?

    One can take this to extremes, if sing excludes. There are passages in the OT where the word “sing” is only stated, but we know they done more than sing.

    If I ask you “did you hear Willie Nelsons new song” do you infer that he had no band? If I went to see Willie Nelson sing at a concert, does this mean he sang only. Can one not have melody in their heart while playing an instrument?

  45. philsanders Says:

    Randy,
    the question is what does psallo and psalmos mean in the NT contexts where they are used, not what possible meanings can I read into them. The common practice in the synagogue had them psallovtes psalmous without the aid of instruments. When they thought of day to day singing of hymns it was not with the harp.

    phil

    • K. Rex Butts Says:

      Eph 5.19 “…singing [ado] and singing praises [psallo] in your hear unto the Lord.” Too often this word *psallo* is removed this from the sentense and context it belongs to, given the text-book definition, and then shoved back into the sentense and context without any regards to Paul’s intent. We all know that text-book definitions do not always fit so neatly into specific contexts. Does the context of Ephesians sound like Paul is trying to regulate how these Christians in Ephesus specifically sing?

      If I say to Johhny “Run to the store and buy me some milk” and Johnny gets in a car and drives to the store to buy me milk, is Johnny wrong or right for driving a car when I said “run”? I am sorry Phil, I just do not see in the context where God/Paul is trying to use the word *psallo* to regulate specifically how Christians sing in worship. I know we will disagree on this and I respect you for standing by your conviction but I have heard all my life the case for a capella worship and I don’t find it convincing.

      Your brother in Christ,

      Rex

  46. Phil Sanders Says:

    Alan,
    God is not silent about punishing self-made religion. The Scriptures repeated condemned and reject it.

    Ahaz’s altar was rejected
    Every plant which my Father has not planted shall be rooted up–Matthew 15:13 is stated about the traditions of the Pharisees. How much more so for those who inject self-made traditions into the worship!

    God is not silent about the condemnation of these matters. He has spoken.

    phil

    • Alan Says:

      God is not silent about punishing self-made religion.

      Different Alan this time…

      God is not silent about man-made rules in religion.
      (1 Tim 4:1-2; Mark 7:6-7; Col 2:16-23). What these passages condemn is people making up rules in religion that God didn’t give himself. Prohibiting instrumental music is just like prohibiting eating meat, prohibiting certain people from getting married, making rules about ceremonial washings, making rules about giving gifts to the church as a substitute for giving them to parents, etc. All of those are man-made rules. You won’t find them in the scriptures. And God has given us serious warnings about that sort of thing.

  47. Tim S. Says:

    Phil,
    You indicated that the IM issue hinges on the meaning of psallo. Yet, both ado and humneo (and cognates) are also used in the NT w/ regard to singing.

    Lexicographers define words based on how they are used. Since the number of times each of these words is used in the NT is so small, we must go outside the text of the NT to see how they are used – and so define them.

    When we do, the data suggests that humneo (for singing praises) can be used while instruments are in use (see LXX of 2 Chron 29:28). Ado, likewise, is used (even in the NT) for accompanied singing (see Revelation 15:2-3). This is not to argue for IM in the church because it is in Heaven. I introduce this only to show how the word ado is used, and that it does not inherently exclude IM.

    Since ado is the word used in Eph 5:19 & Col 3:16 for “sing,” it is hard for me to see how “sing” and “play” are mutually exclusive. Yet, the preaching I grew up with was that adding “playing” to your “singing” would be violating God’s specific instruction to “sing.”

    Humneo appears in Acts 16:25; Hebrews 2:12; & Matt 26:30 (and its parallel, Mark 14:26). Since it is used in the OT, at least some of the time, to include singing that is accompanied, how can we be so certain that, in the NT, it MUST alwayss mean unaccompanied singing?

    This is how we can go beyond what is written to bind an opinion. I prefer a capella singing in worship. The church where I worship sings a capella. Yet, I look with shame on the time when I was not quite a teenager traveling with my parents. We came to a church of Christ somewhere in WV, stopped, went in, and promptly marched out when we realized they were using a piano.

    Tim

  48. philsanders Says:

    Tim,
    The LXX uses psallo more than 50 times, and only in a dozen passages is it translated “play” in my NASB. The other times it is translated “sing.” About a dozen times the context enters into the picture, which shows in addition to the singing, playing was done. But when psallo is used by itself, the meaning is to sing.

    The common practice of hymn singing and psalm singing in the NT era was without accompaniment in the synagogue. It is the responsibility of the IM advocate to show that they did more than that, since this is the common understanding of the time.

    phil

    • Alan Says:

      The common practice of hymn singing and psalm singing in the NT era was without accompaniment in the synagogue. It is the responsibility of the IM advocate to show that they did more than that, since this is the common understanding of the time.

      It sounds like you base your doctrinal positions partly on scripture and partly on extra-biblical sources. For those who base their doctrine on scripture only, the common practice in the NT era is irrelevant, except as revealed in scripture.

      If God wanted us in the 21st century to be constrained by the example of the early church on this matter, I am convinced he would have given us greater detail so that we wouldn’t be left guessing. I don’t doubt your sincerity, and as far as I know my own heart I don’t doubt my own sincerity. But we don’t see eye to eye on this question. It’s just not spelled out in scripture. We are two fallible humans, and we draw different inferences from the same data.

      God wants both you and I to be saved. He knew before the beginning of time that we would see this issue differently. If this was a matter that would block one or the other of us from salvation, wouldn’t he have removed all doubt one way or the other by including explicit instructions about cessation (or not) of instrumental worship in the Christian era? After all, he sent his son to die on a cross for our sins. He *really* wants us to be saved. Would that same God place a riddle about instrumental music in the scriptures, and condemn all who fail to solve it? Of course not.

      • philsanders Says:

        Alan,
        No I don’t. But the history is strong, and unwavering for a cappella singing in the early church for several centuries. And this cannot be dismissed in trying to understand how they understood the instructions of the New Testament.

        The real issue for me is decided by silence. Jesus NEVER added to His Father’s instructions. Out of love, he did exactly what His Father commanded (Jn 14:31). This is my model. It is the same reason I don’t put roast lamb on the Lord’s table, the same reason I do not celebrate Christmas and Easter as religious holidays, the same reason I don’t regard the Lord’s Supper as the actual body of Jesus, and the same reason I oppose a special priesthood for Christians. When you can tell me why these things are wrong, you will know why the instrument is wrong. They are all self-made religion, which Jesus condemns (Mt. 15:13).

        There is no riddle here. The confusion comes from the fact that our religious neighbors use it, and some of our own people have grown to love it and want it. Sprinkling is not baptism just because many folks do it, and IM isn’t acceptable just because many good folks do it.

        phil

        phil

  49. philsanders Says:

    Alan,

    I am very much opposed to condemning what God has not condemned. That is also self-made religion. I have debated with denominationalists who tried to bind the “no-pork” rule more than once with passages like 1 Timothy 4 and Col. 2:20-23. There can be no doubt that making rules is wrong on everyone’s part.

    But this is not the case with IM. What is happening in this case is that someone is interjecting into the worship of the church an element that is man-made. This is very much like Ahaz’ altar, or David’s ox cart, or the handwashing of the Pharisees, all of which were against the will of God.

    Col. 2:20-23 should not be applied to those who are pointing out real errors. Col 2 is more in line with the over-scrupulous Pharisees who condemned over rules they made up.

    The burden of proof lies on the user of IM not those who object. They have added to the worship what God never asked for.

    Phil

    • Alan Says:

      I am very much opposed to condemning what God has not condemned. That is also self-made religion.

      You and I are in complete agreement on that.

      What is happening in this case is that someone is interjecting into the worship of the church an element that is man-made.

      Of course that is the view of those who oppose instrumental music in worship. As you well know, there is an opposing view – namely, that those who condemn instrumental music in worship are the ones interjecting something man-made into the worship of the church.

      Both of our positions are based on inferences from scripture. God has not explicitly stated whether or not instrumental music ceased at time the NT church began. You infer from silence that the practice is prohibited. I infer from OT example and the absence of instruction to the contrary that it is permitted in the NT church. Both are inferences, and as such are fallible.

      Of course you believe your inference is better than mine. You provide examples of God’s judgment under OT Levitical law as proof. I don’t believe those are equivalent cases, and I believe your conclusions from those cases conflict with NT teachings about atonement, justification, and grace.

      The bottom line is that this is a disputable matter. We should not be judging one another over this. We should accept one another, and not judge someone else’s servant. We should leave it in the hands of God, who is able to make both of us stand–and we will stand:

      Rom 14:4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

      I am not making an appeal that you should adopt instrumental music, nor that you should stop teaching your congregation what you believe about the subject. Instead, I am appealing to you to stop judging those who have drawn different conclusions from yourself after studying the same data. We should be able to acknowledge one another publicly as Christians. And we should be able to acknowledge publicly that we are both fallible and could be wrong about this disputed matter. But each of us is still each obligated to follow our convictions on the subject.

      In the end God will sort out what error will be forgiven and what error will not be forgiven. We should not even be trying to make those judgments. In the meantime we should embrace each other as brothers and not give the devil a foothold.

      • Alan Scott Says:

        Well said, Alan. If our brothers who oppose IM really believed and obeyed God’s commands in Romans 14, then we would not be divided over IM or over any disputable matter. This is where our attempts to restore NT Christianity have failed – too many of us no longer honor Romans 14 as binding, and dismiss it as only culturally relevant.

        God bless,
        Alan Scott

  50. Wayne McDaniel Says:

    Phil, I have just read your reply to Tim S. re IM, and you have IGNORED that he wrote of two different NT words, ado and humneo, rather than psallo.

    Phil, do you think those who are reading these exchanges will not notice that you have ignored the points he made regarding the usage of those NT words?

  51. Tim S. Says:

    Phil,

    You missed my point. Our argument has traditionally focused on psallo, following Thayer & others who state that in the NT, psallo means only to sing.

    My post dealt, not with psallo, but with other words used for “sing” in the NT. Both of these words, ado and humneo with their cognates, may (not must) include instrumental accompaniment. To determine in any instance whether they do or not requires context. And the NT context is absolutely silent as to the presence or absence of IM. For us to demand that others assume with us that there could have been no IM is to go beyond what is written in the text of the Scriptures, as you did in your reply when you referenced “the common practice of hymn singing and psalm singing in the NT era.” Whether the early church did or did not use an instrument is not a matter of the Biblical record when the words used to describe their singing do not demand the non-use.

    Tim

    • philsanders Says:

      Tim,
      I have not ignored the arguments regarding psallo, hymneo, or ode. The common practice of the early church in music was to sing. The common understanding of singing hymns, psalms or spiritual songs was vocal. The only instrument they plucked was the heart (Eph 5:19).

      I am aware that these words in an OT context were used with an instrument. But I am also pointing out that this is not our context for determining how the CHURCH was to worship. Our context arises out of the instructions and examples given in the NT of the church. We only know singing from these passages. To try to read something more into it is unworthy of a good Bible student.

      I would recommend to all of you who want to deal with this the new book by Jack P. Lewis, whose scholarship is unquestionable. The book: The Question of Instrumental Music in Worship, 2008, published by Truth for Today.

      Here is a relevant quote:
      The Oxford encyclopedia of music has consistently, in its various revisions, reported that early Christians did not use musical instruments. The 1983 edition states:

      “Since the first Christians were Jews, it is not surprising that the music they adopted for their church assemblies was taken directly from synagogue rites, in particular the unaccompanied singing of psalms and canticles.” (Anthony Prayer, “Church Music,” The New Oxford Companion to Music, ed. Denis Arnold {Oxford Press, 1983} 1:388.)

      One of the reasons, as Lewis points out, that the Early Church Fathers do not much speak to this point is that it was not an issue for them. They considered IM to be such a moral stain they could not imagine bringing it into the church. Others regarded IM as pagan or as a childish act of Judaism.

      “The safe course, then, is for Christians to continue to sing a cappella in worship.” (Lewis, p. 24).

      phil

      • Alan Says:

        Phil quoted:

        “The safe course, then, is for Christians to continue to sing a cappella in worship.” (Lewis, p. 24).

        Phil, do you believe that the scriptures teach we must withdraw fellowship from those who don’t choose the “safe course?”

        Isn’t it a matter of human judgment which course is “safe?”

        Doesn’t the fact that we call it the “safe course” imply that we aren’t sure it is the only course?

      • Alan Scott Says:

        “I would recommend to all of you who want to deal with this the new book by Jack P. Lewis, whose scholarship is unquestionable. The book: The Question of Instrumental Music in Worship, 2008, published by Truth for Today.”

        While I agree that Dr. Lewis’ scholarship is unquestionable, I would not say the same for his conclusions which are still based on his upbringing as much as on his scholarship.

        I would also recommend another book that looks at both sides of the IM scriptures and orignal language and points-of-view. The book is “Missing More Than Music” by Danny Corbett – http://missingmorethanmusic.com/

        God bless,
        Alan Scott

  52. Royce Ogle Says:

    It is almost unbelievable that anyone who knows much about the nature of God and the extent He has gone to in order to save sinners that He would revoke His grace and somehow reverse a birth over IM in worship.

    Can you imagine at the judgment this exchange?

    God: You are condemend to hell.
    Joe the coC member: Why? I have repented and put my trust in Jesus, been baptised for the remission of my sins and lived a faithful life of service to others, prayed regularly, gave sacrifically, and now I’m lost?
    God: You continued to worship with a congregation after they got a piano.
    Joe the coC member: Thats it?
    God: I didn’t approve a piano.
    Joe the coC member: I thought I was saved by grace upon the work of Jesus and his offering for me.
    God: I don’t like pianos, go to hell.

    This is how stupid this discussion is and has been for decades. The belief that God will condemn one of His own dear children to hell because he was present when a piano accompanied sining in worship proves that some of us don’t have a clue about How God justifies sinners and makes them His own.

    Royce

    • Wayne McDaniel Says:

      Royce, Thank you for pointing out the absurdity of the anti-IM position. Alan also pointed out the truth: The Lord truly desires to bring us into his presence. Condemning those who sing with instruments comes from PRIDE that wants to set all others at nought.

      Phil S. has already IGNORED the observation by Tim S. re the NT Gk. words ado & humneo, that were used in contexts of instruments.

    • philsanders Says:

      Royce,
      Emotional arguments such as this one are not really helpful to our discussion over what is and is not sin.

      The question is whether IM is sinful and whether it should be forsaken. David got angry over Uzzah, but he changed his attitude.

      phil

  53. Charles McLean Says:

    In one of his posts, Phil said, “The question of this discussion seems to revolve around at what point one loses relationship with God and should be disciplined.” If this is indeed the question, the question is absurd. The Father disciplines his sons. The idea that we would lose our sonship because of our sins or wrong doctrines, and THEN we would be disciplined by a Father we no longer have makes no sense whatsoever.

    • philsanders Says:

      Charles,
      That is not the whole truth, though it is true that God disciplines.

      Paul upbraided the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 5 for failing to deal with the man who had his father’s wife. Their arrogance was no credit to them.

      Jesus upbraided Thyatira for tolerating Jezebel. Though Ephesus had other problems, Jesus commended Ephesus for test the men who said they were apostles and found them to be false.

      The church has an obligation to discipline those who are false teachers. Otherwise Titus 3:9-11 and Romans 16:17-18 would not make sense.

      phil

      • Charles McLean Says:

        Phil, I do not see anything in the examples you cite that relates to losing our relationship with God. It is quite true that the church is taught to exercise discipline among itself. This is part and parcel of operating as the “body of Christ”, acting as He does under His headship. But I do not find us being given the authority to put someone outside of Christ. You provided an answer, but unfortunately not to the issue I addressed.

        Once again, God disciplines his sons. He does not cast them out of the family and THEN take them to the woodshed.

  54. Bondservant Says:

    Some cofC denominations declare music in worship is a sin. I don’t believe God ever declared that in the Bible.

    Luke 15:11-32, Jesus tells this parable about a son who was once lost but returns to his father and is found. And what did Jesus say the brother heard, Jesus said the brother “heard music and dancing” when the father was glad his son had returned home.

    Luke 15:25, “And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.”

    1 Chronicles 16:7-36, David used the word sing a couple of times but he never mentions music here David being someone who we all know sang praises to God with music. So did David mean for them to sing “only” without music, or is that something one would assume in their own opinion.

    1 Chronicles 16:8-9, “Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works!”

    Revelation 14:1-5, There are the sounds of harpists playing their harps as they sang a new song.

    Revelation 14:2-3 “And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. They sang as it were a new song before the throne.”

    The coC denomination have added commands God never gave.

    Where does the Bible say “be silent where the Bible is silent”, please provide BCV.

    Where does God say “music in worship is a sin”, please provide BCV.

    Is the Bible silent on the following issues? song leaders, song books, choirs, paid preachers, shoes worn on holy ground, sitting and standing in unison during a service while worshiping singing a song, indoor baptisms, singing songs written by members of different denominations, youth ministers, church secretaries, fellowship halls, and church buildings?

  55. Randy Says:

    Very well stated “TRUTH.” Nowhere does the bible call music sinful, that is something we have done. We have spoken where God has not. Why would Jesus even use examples regarding music, if it were sin? As you pointed out, there are places in the Old Testament where the word “sing: is only stated, and we know that they didn’t take that to mean “sing only.”

    Some will insist that Paul was specifying sing only, was he? How about these verses that are silent about music:

    1 Chronicles 16:7-36, David used the word sing a couple of times but he never mentions music here David being someone who we all know sang praises to God with music. So did David mean for them to sing “only” without music, or is that something one would assume in their own opinion.

    1 Chronicles 16:8-9, “Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works!”

    Also, make note that when we attempt to use Old Testament examples, we are told not to go there, but then take note of all of the arguments made from the Old Testament from the very same ones insisting we cant. There seems to be a double-standard.

    BTM line, they have yet to prove IM to be sin. They assume its sin, based upon “silence.” But, they have yet to show how IM transgresses the law of God, seeing God approved IM and Jesus used music in the story of the Prodigal son and John uses music in REV…sorry, but if God deemed it as sin, would he use it as “good” examples?

    We condemn IM, not God. We have spoken where God has not, which to me is adding to Gods word.

    • philsanders Says:

      Randy,

      If all this is so clear and demands that we use IM in our worship, why didn’t the early church use IM? Why didn’t they understand psallo, humeo, and ode to mean they ought to use IM? Surely they understood these things to be the case! Ah, but no. You see, Randy, if make me ignorant and judgmental, you must also make them. Don’t you? Of course you do!

      IM is sinful because men added it in. Dr. Lewis and Dr. Ferguson both argue that the instrument didn’t come along in the church until sometime between the 7th and the 10th century AD. Now why? You tell me why the early missed all those arguments? Why is it these arguments that progressives make today were missed by the early church. Are we the only generation that ever thought of these matters? No. They knew what God wanted and did it, without feeling they had to be like the religions around them. They weren’t pagans or Jews. They sang and gave praise from the heart and lips.

      The Lord still said Matthew 14:13! If the Lord didn’t plant it, He condemned it!!!

      phil


      • Phil,
        How, logically, does it follow that a practice of the early church (such as the use or non-use of instrumental music) which is not specifically prescribed in the NT can be “unquestionably” used as a “law” for anyone.

        Are you suggesting that tradition is more important than the NT?

        That’s what it sounds like.

      • Wayne McDaniel Says:

        Phil, your reply to Randy concluded with a mistake in your reference to Matthew’s gospel. You intended to refer to 15:13.
        But the deeper problem is your misuse of Jesus’ words. He was not refering to
        “issues” or “disputable matters”. He was refering to individuals.

        The disciples had just called Jesus’ attention to the fact that the Pharisees were skandalized by his teaching. The planting he spoke of is a part of Isa. 61, that Jesus had read in the Naz. syn. and applied to himself(Lk.4).It is clear in Isa.61:3 that the Lord was describing PEOPLE that mourned – over their sin.

      • nick gill Says:

        A few points here:

        1) No one is “teaching as doctrine” the practice of IM. No one is saying that IM is necessary to please God — which is the deeper context about which Jesus quotes Isaiah. The Pharisees were adding to God’s *requirements*, not pointing out things he had not banned.

        2) I bet Dr. Ferguson, at least, also mentions that churches owned no property until sometime between the 3rd and 5th centuries. Now why? You tell me why the early church didn’t buy buildings in which to gather during the peaceful decades before Cosntantine? Are we the only generation that ever thought of these matters?

        3) Who says the Lord didn’t plant it, but the seed took a lot longer to burst forth? Slavery is an evil that the church winked at for centuries before the seed of freedom burst forth from the ground.
        Some seeds are more deeply planted than others, and have a lot of work to break through our hard hearts. IM was planted by the Lord before His own birth, and he never uprooted it.

  56. Tim S. Says:

    Phil, You wrote, “I am aware that these words [psallo, humneo, and ode or ado] in an OT context were used with an instrument. But I am also pointing out that this is not our context for determining how the CHURCH was to worship.”

    In at least one NT context (Rev 15:2-3) ado or ode was used with IM. Don’t just tell me that this was in Heaven, not in the church. Tell me how the NT can use this word in one place to mean accompanied singing, but that when it uses it elsewhere it MUST be unaccompanied.

    Is the nonbiblical, historic evidence you cite really sufficient cause to divide the church of our Lord?

    You quote Dr. Lewis, “The safe course, then, is for Christians to continue to sing a cappella in worship.” (Lewis, p. 24).

    I agree that it is “safe” to sing a capella, but is it required? It is also “safe” to chant instead of using 4-part harmony, but does the fact that the early church sang by chanting require that we do so?

    Those who make requirements GOD HAS NOT MADE have done the very thing they excoriate the people who use an instrument in worship of doing – go beyond what is written in the Scriptural record.

    While I am happy to sing without an instrument (and indeed prefer to do so), why MUST I refuse fellowship to those who choose to do so?

    This is the question that is behind all of my comments.

    Tim

  57. philsanders Says:

    Tim,
    there are many things in heaven that have nothing to do with how the church worships today. If Rev. 15:2-3 is an instruction for how the church is to worship, why didn’t those early Christians heed the instruction? Why did they wait for hundreds of years?

    Four-part harmony is still speaking, singing, teaching, and admonishing. It is still an act of the lips and heart. IM has none of this. It does not fulfill what God instructs us to do.

    phil

    • Tim S. Says:

      Phil, You wrote in your reply to me,

      “Four-part harmony is still speaking, singing, teaching, and admonishing. It is still an act of the lips and heart. IM has none of this.”

      Singing with an instrument “is stll speaking, singing, teaching, and admonishing.” Whether the heart of the singer is involved is a matter for God to judge, not me (any more than it is my place to judge the heart of someoneone who is singing acapella).

      Please note that I did not say Rev 15 provides instruction for how the church is to worship. I merely used that text to show that ado/odein does not excluded an instrument. For us to insist that “sing” means only acapella and can not mean “to sing while acompanied” is going beyond the meaning of the word.

      There many have been many reasons the early church did not use instruments other than their understanding of a “requirement” imposed on them by God. You cited a couple of these in your reference to Dr. Lewis’ work. There may be any number of reasons other than a prohibition by God NOT to do something today as well. Love and consideration for the conscience of a weak brother may constrain me even where there is no commandment of God.

      But, my question still stands unanswered: why MUST I refuse to have fellowship with a congregation (or even individuals) who sing with IM?

      Tim

  58. Alan Says:

    Phil wrote:

    If Rev. 15:2-3 is an instruction for how the church is to worship, why didn’t those early Christians heed the instruction? Why did they wait for hundreds of years?

    Phil, isn’t it possible for a thing to be permitted without it being required?

    Rev 5:8-9 uses ωδην to identify songs sung with instruments. Ephesians 5:19 uses the same word where we are commanded to speak to one another in “spiritual songs.” That decisively refutes the conservative claim that the NT instructions for singing exclude instruments through silence. ωδην can include instrumental music.

  59. Randy Says:

    Phil, I think Alan covered everything I was thinking.

    When you see the word “sing” do you really exclude music when you read this?

    As pointed out before. If I tell you I heard Carrie Underwood singing on the radio, do you INFER she had no music. I seen a sign that read “ Carrie Underwood singing tonight at 7pm” does this mean she doesn’t have music?

    1 Chronicles 16:8-9, “Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works!” Does this statement exclude music?

    When one sings, with the aid of music sheets, song leaders, PA systems, piano….singing still occurs. Singing is not replaced by any of these aids.

    I could ask ‘what authority do we have to use songs written by sinners.’ Our song books have them as well as songs from other denominations. I could ask ‘what authority do we have to sing the “invitation song” seeing the bible doesn’t specify we sing an invitation song’….seems Peter forgot that in Acts 2. We added this to worship. It is a TRADTION within our heritage.

  60. Randy Says:

    I think David H. makes some valid points. If our pattern is truly EVERYTHING that the early church practiced, have we not forsaken that pattern on many levels? I don’t see where they had our “invitation song” prior to asking people to be baptized.

    Did they have men walking an isle to serve communion on silver platters of “Welch’s” and crackers? I bet they were assembled in a family oriented form, rather than our stadium format.

  61. Randy Says:

    “IM was planted by the Lord before His own birth, and he never uprooted it.”

    Great comment! I cant find it being uprooted. Does silence mean Its uprooted and now considered a sin? As pointed out, the Old Testament uses the word sing in a couple of passages. Did they take that to mean “sing only?”

    We have added to Gods Word, when we call something sin, where God has not. How does IM transgress the law of God? Where has God called it sin? Paul didn’t use the word sing, in order to exclude song books, pitch pipes, song leaders, piano, and other things. We have taken the word sing and excluded some things while allowing other aids. We have made a law where God made no such law. If I sing with the aid of a piano, does singing still occur? Can we clap? Can we hum? Can we pat our feet? How far can we take such an argument??


  62. [...] are a few realizations I have come to as a result of reading the comments on [...]

  63. Stephen Says:

    I have read most of this and my head is about to explode. I don’t want to get into the argument of IM because God told us to go and preach the gospel not why this church is sinning for doing this and that. Seriously folks THE GOSPEL is for all. Have we forgotten what our true purpose is to spread the gospel. That is it. I find it insulting when a preacher gets on that stage and starts telling me about subjects that are so far drawn from what the gospel is. I bet the CHURCH would be in a much better place if we focused on that. Also, you want to know why God told us to be like children. Because, children can come together no matter what their differences are and accomplish anything. Imagine if we could get over our differences and could work together to preach…wait for it….THE GOSPEL!!!!!

  64. Matt Clifton Says:

    Stephen,

    Are you referring to Phil’s article? He preaches the gospel all the time!

    God bless.

    Matt

    • Stephen Says:

      Matt,

      I would love to actually see a well written account on the gospel by Phil. I believe the Gospel to be the story of Christ,what he did for us and how we are saved through Christ. God didn’t say go out and preach against this or that. He just said go into the world and preach the gospel. That’s all my life will be about.

      In love,

      Stephen

      • Matt Clifton Says:

        Stephen,

        Do you know Phil, and his work? He is a preacher of the gospel. I suppose you would have to have access to every sermon he has ever preached to accuse him of not preaching the gospel. :)

        Phil is talking about the subject at hand: apostasy.

        BTW, Jesus told them to go into all the world, baptize, and teach all things He commanded them (Matt. 28:19-20). Jesus included some hard things, such as how to handle an unrepentant brother (Matt. 18:15-17). Shouldn’t this be taught, also?

        God bless!

        Matt

      • Wayne McDaniel Says:

        Matt,
        I have read several of your posts to this blog and another, and from what you have written, I have suspicion about your “gospel”. I suspect that your message fails to convey Jesus’ kindness and desire to save us. I have no doubt that you are familiar with the history of Jesus’ life, his crucifixion, and resurrection, but expect the tone in which you would convey those facts, and explain how they are truly “good news” for sinful people, fails to reveal the Lord’s will to rescue us from our PRIDE that leads to death. Jesus’ story needs to be spoken from the same Spirit that led Jesus — the Spirit that groans with deep sorrow for the distressed who do not yet know the Shepherd who forgives and heals. If our words do not echo the kindness and compassion of the Good Shepherd, we only scatter.

      • Matt Clifton Says:

        Wayne,

        What particular sermon, Bible class or personal study that I have delivered or participated in are you referring to?

      • Stephen Says:

        I was actually being sincere about wanting to hear a great gospel sermon on this forum by phil. Why do you have to judge my heart so harshly without trying to see where it is. I just am tired of all of these sermons that have little to do with Jesus’s real message and more to do with nitpicking traditions and opinions. If I knew Phil’s work why would I need to ask! This jumping the gun juding of mens hearts has really become a problem in the brotherhood. I now Jesus told them to baptize, it’s part of the gospel. We focus to much inside the church and not enough outside, and that my friend is why the church numbers are truely declining!

  65. Wayne McDaniel Says:

    Matt, From the tenor of your words at this blog and at Dell Kimberley’s blog, it appears to me that you would have difficulty in quoting wholeheartedly Paul’s words in Gal.6:14, as though they were your’s.

    Before Paul’s conversion, he was exceedingly zealous for the traditions of his fathers, Gal.1:14. That is an inclination of our flesh. We try and distinguish ourselves from others by things that cost us little, some that occur within a Sunday morning assembly. We overlook our resemblance to those who “trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and set all others at nought.” We may even thank God that we are not as the rest of men. Paul saw Jesus bearing our shame and understood that there was nothing he could boast in, because of the cross.

    My roots go far back into the RM, and I can recall my zeal to declare the Church of Christ. By the Lord’s longsuffering, my only plea is for Jesus’ life to cover me. There is no joy or peace in boasting in anything but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    May the joy of the Lord be your strength.

    • Matt Clifton Says:

      Wayne,

      So out of the hundreds of hours of gospel preaching, you have not heard a single sermon, sat in a class, or participated in a Bible study with me?

      I’m wondering where your “seems to me” opinions are coming from, Wayne.

      Since you have not heard me teach, should I assume that you can look into a man’s heart?

      I suspect (and hope) your answer is “no,” so I thik the judging one another’s intent needs to stop. Isn’t that, after all, the “progressive” plea?

      • Alan Says:

        Person A preaches the gospel but then occasionally adds something not found in scripture (ex: instruments). They are accused of preaching another gospel.

        Person B claims that because some of their sermons consist of the undisputed gospel — without regard for what else they preach on other occasions.

        Isn’t that a double standard?

        Are you willing to call all the conservatives to stop accusing Person A of preaching another gospel?

      • Matt Clifton Says:

        Alan,

        First, I do not speak for “all the conservatives.” Second, I do not recall having said anything about “Person A.”

        Third, the argument you put forth is comparing apples to oranges. Jesus said to teach ALL that He commanded. Not everything He taught was about the death, burial and resurrection, although it all relates to our response to it. The apostles, of course, taught perfectly those things Jesus wanted them to teach (ie all that He commanded).

        A person that teaches others to use instrumental music is not teaching people “all the He commanded,” since Jesus never taught it, nor the apostles.

        Someone who teaches about how to resole conflicts (Matt. 18:15-17) or how to be a good husband and father (Eph. 5, for instance) are teaching what Christ commanded.

        I am actually ashamed of some of you guys who would accuse a man like Phil of not preaching the gospel.

        I remember, now, why I was staying away from here!

      • Alan Says:

        Matt, I didn’t ask you to speak “for” all conservatives. I asked you to speak “to” them.

        I thought you had said that if someone listened to enough of your preaching they would hear you preach the gospel. I didn’t dispute that. I just think the same can be said for others who are accused by some folks of preaching ‘another gospel.’

        I don’t think the circumcision / law issues in Galatians are equivalent to the matters over which conservatives and progressives differ. We shouldn’t be invoking “anathema” on people who disagree with us on most of these things. The issue in Galatians was about adding requirements that must be met in order to be saved. The things conservatives and progressives disagree about today are of an entirely different nature.

    • Matt Clifton Says:

      Wayne,

      I meant to add, that I do not think reading a blog is a good way to judge a person’s ministerial work on the ground in the real world. Would you want to be judged by what you’ve written and done here?

      God bless you,

      matt

  66. Wayne McDaniel Says:

    Matt,
    Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. There are no limitations of context with Jesus.

    I recall the tenor of your words on Dell’s blog several weeks ago. That is where the largest portion of my impression of your teaching comes from.

    Paul understood the cross crucified him to the world.

    “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness, I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name…”

    • Matt Clifton Says:

      Wayne,

      So you have cast judgment, even though you do not know me, and even though Dell and I are friends and brothers and have absolutely no animosity?

      I thought maybe things were better in here, but apparently not. I’m afraid the comments section will continue to be a “progressives only” party.

      May God bless you all as you seek His will,

      Matt

      • Alan Scott Says:

        Matt,

        I am surprised by your comment, “I’m afraid the comments section will continue to be a “progressives only” party.”

        Don’t you realize that all are invited but only a few choose to come to the feast. :-)

        I am glad you have chosen to come.

        God bless,
        Alan Scott
        Sugar Land, TX

    • Alan Scott Says:

      Wayne,

      Your closing quotation reminds me of the observation once made by G.C.Brewer (one-time editor of the Gospel Advocate) who said, “We sing a better Gospel than we preach.”

      Blessings,
      Alan Scott
      Sugar Land, TX

  67. Mark Littleton Says:

    For what it’s worth, I tend to agree that the comments section isn’t helping the discussion. Some of the posts have been relevant and have contributed in a constructive way to the dialogue, but many of them in my opinion have not. I think the format might need to be restructured in some way. I’d hate to see the comment section closed entirely, but some sort of adjustments, I believe, are in order.

    In the meantime — again, for what it’s worth — I would just plead with everyone to check (and double check) the way the tone of your posts might be perceived by others before hitting “Submit Comment.” We need more light here, not heat.

    Not trying to throw stones at anyone — just trying to offer some help…

  68. Phil Sanders Says:

    Here is a link to several sermons I preached just this week in Elizabethtown, KY. I preached a sermon entitled, The Gospel.

    http://www.elizabethtownchurchofchrist.com/Gospel%20Meetings.htm

    BTW, many millions of people can hear my sermons many weeks on “In Search of the Lord’s Way.” It goes out all over the country. On March 29, I preached one entitled the “Gift of Repentance.” I also encourage you to listen to “People Can Change.” I want you to hear my heart, not judge me on the basis of a few posts.

    If you wish to hear and read hundreds of sermons I have preached (also see the Evangelism Handbook), go to

    http://www.God-answers.org

    thanks,
    phil

    http://www.searchtv.org

    Phil


  69. [...] won’t have to look far to find this very argument made at GraceConversation or in comments here at OneInJesus, and many other places. This is a classic conservative argument. [...]

  70. Dan Smith Says:

    Rom 7:21-8:2 (surely the absolute worse chapter division in all scripture) with Gal 5 inserted:

    So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind [love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control], but with my flesh I serve the law of sin [sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these]. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

    Paraphrase (mine)
    Even though, with my flesh/body I’m enslaved to sin, with my mind/spirit I’m enslaved to righteousness; therefore, I’m IN CHRIST, free of the law of sin and death’s condemnation.

    Where, in this, is doctrinal error in the mind/teaching of the Christian who is enslaved to God and righteousness?

  71. - Says:

    Pleasant content! I?d wish to loose time waiting for you subsequent article.


  72. [...] won’t have to look far to find this very argument made at GraceConversation or in comments here at OneInJesus, and many other places. This is a classic conservative argument. [...]


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