Thanks

Just a final note to thank Todd Deaver for his invaluable contribution to this effort. Although my by-line shows up on more than my fair share of posts, the readers need to understand how valuable Todd’s efforts have been. He is a remarkable intellect and talent, who will surely have much more to contribute to the Kingdom in years to come.

Please buy a copy of his book Facing Our Failure. It’s a remarkable piece of research clearly demonstrating the intellectual bankruptcy of conservative Church of Christ theology — bankrupt because the conservative Churches of Christ have never been able to articulate a theology of who does and doesn’t fall away. No one has refuted Todd’s work. It remains unchallenged.

Here at GraceConversation, three of the most well-known, widely published ministers of the conservative Churches of Christ have failed to articulate a coherent position, and when we called them on their failure, they quit. (Greg left the conversation earlier for entirely legitimate reasons independent of this dialogue.) I’m disappointed that they gave up, but not surprised. After all, in over 100 years of debate, the conservatives have never come up with a consistent rule for whom they consider saved and whom they consider fallen. And in my many years of discussing this issue with conservative ministers, every one has left the conversation when asked to state a clear position.

I’m especially disappointed that Mac Deaver quit, as I see his disagreement with his son Todd as a microcosm of the division in the Churches of Christ. We are called to be peacemakers and to bring reconciliation. And I don’t know any way for the two sides to reconcile except through dialogue — and it takes two to have a dialogue. If someone would rather debate than converse, rather quit than confront the weaknesses in his views, reconciliation cannot happen. Mac has made a tragic choice for both his earthly and his spiritual families. I pray that God softens his heart.

And I want to thank the many who logged in and read these posts — especially those who commented, and more especially those who disagree with me. Seriously. There’s no point in the dialogue if everyone already agrees!

I remain willing to continue this conversation about the issues that divide the Churches of Christ. I’d only want to take on the effort with a well-known representative of the conservative Churches. And, God willing, one day someone from the conservative Churches will be willing to discuss his views in this forum. In the meantime, we’ll leave this website up and the materials available as a resource for anyone interested. And I’ll keep participating in the comments. I love comments.

For further material on the topic, Todd’s Bridging the Grace Divide blog and my own OneInJesus blog could be helpful. Readers may also be interested in two online books I wrote: The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace (also available in paperback here or here) and Do We Teach Another Gospel?

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28 Comments on “Thanks”


  1. I appreciate all five participants – as well as all the commenters – for making (what I feel was) a good faith effort to converse on the premises which divide us for as long as they did. It was a challenge all along because of a lack of common idiom and culture. There were times when passion was not balanced by reason, and sometimes we argued for the sake of arguing rather than conversing toward a common
    understanding.

    (I said “we” for good reason.)

    In the end, what I think I learned – beyond remorse for my own online misbehavior and hotheaded frustration – was that the divide involves deep differences in the way we perceive scripture, God, His Son, His Spirit, His church, grace, obedience, fellowship, truth, gospel, law, instruction, and far too many other items of faith to expect to
    resolve them even in a forum like this one.

    Nevertheless, it is important to try, and I am grateful that the attempt has been made.

    And, hopefully, just begun.

    Down deep, I believe we all agree on the prayer in John 17 as Jesus’ will for His followers.

  2. nicodemus Says:

    Well, I too am particularly disappointed in the conservative response.

    I have seen it time after time that there is no substantial engagement. Perhaps the conservative case really is flimsy enough to not survive detailed examination.

    The conservative participants should really pause and consider how their actions reflect upon their position.

    And, Nicodemus is chosen for a reason. I have been a conservative for sometime now, but the lack of response has convinced me they are wrong.

    So, thanks to my conservative brothers for helping me see the light.

  3. Alfonso Says:

    I appreciate all five participants – as well as all the commenters – for making (what I feel was) a good faith effort to converse on the premises which divide us for as long as they did. It was a challenge all along because of a lack of common idiom and culture. There were times when passion was not balanced by reason, and sometimes we argued for the sake of arguing rather than conversing toward a common
    understanding.

    (I said "we" for good reason.)

    In the end, what I think I learned – beyond remorse for my own online misbehavior and hotheaded frustration – was that the divide involves deep differences in the way we perceive scripture, God, His Son, His Spirit, His church, grace, obedience, fellowship, truth, gospel, law, instruction, and far too many other items of faith to expect to
    resolve them even in a forum like this one.

    Nevertheless, it is important to try, and I am grateful that the attempt has been made.

    And, hopefully, just begun.

    Down deep, I believe we all agree on the prayer in John 17 as Jesus' will for His followers….

  4. James Says:

    Why did you repeat or copy what Keith B. said?

  5. David W. Hester Says:

    I find it very interesting that boastful statements have been posted on this website, concerning the lack of willingness of those who disagree with you to discuss these matters. I also find it interesting that “discussion” is only on your terms.

    Paul was willing to “dispute” publicly with the Pharisees and Jews who opposed him. Formal debates are the best forums in which to discuss these issues. A carefully worded proposition, with ground rules set beforehand, keeps the discussion on a high plane.

    I myself am willing to publicly discuss these issues. I have written two books addressing current problems in churches of Christ: Among The Scholars (1994) and Tampering With Truth (2007). I also teach undergraduate Bible, part-time, at Amridge University. Please let me know if you are willing to do this.

    David W. Hester
    Minister, Springville Road church of Christ

  6. nick gill Says:

    Brother Hester,

    The Internet is as public as it gets, and there is absolutely nothing inherent in an Internet forum preventing careful wording and ground rules.

    In fact, written debate before the watching world meshes the best of both worlds — publicity and the potential to edit one’s words before hitting Submit.

    in HIS love,
    nick gill
    Frankfort, KY

  7. Jay Guin Says:

    David,

    I posted your question at my primary blog, http://oneinjesus.info, and thought sure that most readers would respond by saying they have no interest in hearing more on this subject. After all, GraceConversation has just wrapped up several months worth of discussion on this topic.

    Rather, the overwhelming response was that any continuation of the GraceConversation should be on the internet and not in an oral debate.

    As I’m sure you know, I’ve already responded to Mac Deaver’s challenge for an oral debate at https://graceconversation.com/2009/08/07/in-response-to-macs-final-post/. Basically, I have three problems with the idea —

    1. My health, at present, does not permit it, as I told Mac. That hasn’t changed and I’m afraid I can’t be goaded into better health. I wish it were true!

    2. The internet is, in my opinion, a vastly superior forum. This site has had many thousands of hits from 30 or more countries. There is nothing more public than the internet.

    Moreover, a written discussion gives both sides the opportunity to respond thoughtfully. Oral debates can be contests in thinking on one’s feet, whereas a written discussion allows for each exchange to be preceded by prayerful reflection.

    3. If you are interested in gaining an audience among the progressive Churches of Christ for your view, I don’t think you’ll get many in a room to watch a debate. You’ll get thousands on the internet.

    And so, I have two questions for you —

    First, would you be willing to exchange views here at GraceConversation — where your writings will be read by thousands all over the world? (If so, we’ll need to discuss some other things.)

    Second, either way, I’d be very interested in seeing your carefully worded proposition. I have stated, and I believe it, that Phil and Mac could not state a coherent position because their position is ad hoc, that is, they change positions depending on the doctrinal error under discussion.

    Therefore, I would be very interested to know whether you can do what they could not. By what scriptural standard do we distinguish doctrinal error that causes a Christian to necessarily fall away from doctrinal error that does not?

  8. David W. Hester Says:

    Jay,

    I was not aware of your reply to Mac Deaver’s chalenge. I understand fully about your health issues; I have no problem with that at all.

    As far as the Internet being a “vastly superior forum,” that is your opinion. It is indeed public, to be sure; however, I think you woould agree with me that it is also a two-edged sword. I think it has also contributed to the coarsening of dialogue and the hardening of attitudes. People can much more easily throw verbal barrages at each other from a distance, by the stroke of a key. When one is face-to face with someone who disagrees, it tends to soften the dialogue and force the participants to actually think about HOW they say something, as well as WHAT they say.

    As to the possibility of a written discussion, I don’t have a problem with it, except for the time factor involved. In between my Ph.D classes that I take, the undergraduate Bible I teach, and my full-time ministry, I have little time to squeeze in much more. If a discussion is going to be “open-ended” as to time, I am reluctant to enter into it. That is why a discussion with ground rules set beforehand appeals to me more. If a discussion is just going to go on and on and on, I can tell you that my time simply will not allow it. That being said, I am willing to have what I write posted on your site.

    As to a proposition, I would have to draw one up. I was speaking as to a possible proposition for future discussion.

    Your question at the last of your post is one that I will have to examine and reply to ASAP. Be sure, I WILL reply to it. Your wording is interesting, and I am curious as to what you mean in one part of the question. But, that will wait until I reply to it.

    Thank you for your response, and I look forward to conversing with you.

    In the Lord,

    David W. Hester

    P. S. Nick, I appreciate your thoughts, too! Thanks for your insight.

    P. P. S. Jay, you have my word that I will conduct myself as a gentleman in any discussion we engage in.

  9. Jay Guin Says:

    David,

    Thanks for your reply.

    Whether another conversation of this nature is worthwhile depends on several things.

    First, as you’ve noted, the ground rules need to be agreed upon. I’m open to suggestions.

    Second, I think it’s important that you have read the preceding posts in GraceConversation, especially those by Greg, Mac, and Phil. There’s little point in your repeating arguments already made only to have me to reply with arguments already made.

    And your answers to the questions in my previous email will go a long way toward showing whether we will be covering fresh ground.

    Third, we need to generate the biggest audience possible among both the conservative and progressive elements of the Churches.

    I would want to discuss with you how we might go about doing that.

    My personal email address is jfguin(at)comcast(dot)net. I’d be glad to send my cell phone number by private email.

    I also commit to act as a Christian gentleman.

  10. David W. Hester Says:

    Jay,

    I will be contacting you via your private e-mail very soon. As for now, just know that I am leery of engaging in an open-ended discussion. And frankly, that is what your previous discussion seemed to be. Also, the reaction from readers was telling. It seems that those who read the posts were primarily from the left. Any discussion we have would need to be one in which both sides are able to read or listen. But, that can all wait until we talk privately.

    BTW, are you related to anyone in Walker county? My Dad preached near Jasper for over 20 years, and my grandfather (the late S. F. Hester) preached at Goodsprings, as well as many other congregations in the county.

    I will be replying to your question in the last message soon.

    Thanks,

    David

  11. Jay Guin Says:

    My family is originally from Russellville, AL via Belgreen. No close kin in Walker County.

    I look forward to your email.

  12. David W. Hester Says:

    Jay,

    First, my apologies for the delay. In between teaching undergraduate Bible, working on the first of two 18 page papers for the PhD course I’m taking this semester, my full-time preaching work, and two sons (one a sophomore in college and the other a very active high school senior) I have to “squeeze in” whatever extras there are.

    I will adress some things in private correspondence; however, I want to address your question in this post. “By what scriptural standard do we distinguish doctrinal error that causes a Christian to necessarily fall away from doctrinal error that does not?”

    This question assumes (correctly) that there is indeed doctrinal error. It also assumes that a child of God can so sin as to be lost (again, correctly).

    The “rub” is in the (supposed) distinction between “error that causes a Christian to necessarily fall away from doctrinal error that does not.” Without sounding evasive, I would like to know more of what you mean by that distinction. I know that there have been those on the Left who have tried, for example, to equate instrumental music with communion cups and padded pews (a false equation).

    This question seems to point to the heart of the problem, as I see it, between brethren today: how does one interpret Scripture to derive authority?

    I make no apologies for upholding the position that biblical authority is derived from direct statements, examples, and implication. One of the courses I teach is on Biblical Authority–and, we use the late Roy Deaver’s Ascertaining Biblical Authority as the textbook.

    I stand with Jesus’ method of interpretation, as per Matthew 22 and his discussion with his enemies.

    I look forward to more discussion along these lines.

    David

  13. Jay Guin Says:

    David,

    I’m glad to see your interest in continuing these discussions, but I find your response to my question very puzzling. The issue that Todd, Greg, Phil, Mac, and I discussed is: What doctrinal error causes a Christian to fall away? You began a few weeks ago by challenging me to debate you regarding the same issues that had been taken up at GraceConversation. We did not discuss the merits of the Regulative Principle or the instrumental music arguments.

    You see, it’s been assumed in countless discussions that if someone worships in error or organizes a church in error etc. that he forfeits his soul for that mistake. The debates over the years have nearly always focused on the merits of a given worship practice or approach to organization — with both sides tacitly assuming that error damns.

    Todd and I believe that the conservative Churches of Christ have no answer for that question. Rarely does a preacher or author even address the question.

    It seems obvious that not all error damns and also obvious that some error does damn. We offered our understanding as to how the scriptures make that distinction. The conservatives never stated a position.

    We eventually stated a position for the conservatives, which they largely agreed with and then immediately contradicted in several respects — and in the end, all three disagreed with each other. Even today, I don’t know how they distinguish between damning error and error covered by grace.

    And so I honestly don’t understand your response to the question. Are you saying that the only doctrinal error that damns is error as to what practices are authorized? Or that unauthorized practices are an example of the sort of error that damns? Are you saying that all error damns?

    Again: By what scriptural standard do we distinguish doctrinal error that causes a Christian to necessarily fall away from doctrinal error that does not?

  14. David W. Hester Says:

    Jay,

    Without taking up the same arguments made in previous discussions, I can truly say one thing: I am not God. That is, I cannot detemine who has fallen away (beyond the point of no return) and somebody who, as I understand it, has sinned. This applies to all areas of the Christian life, not just worship practices or organization, etc.

    Again, the question as posed is curious. And, I find curious your comment: “it’s been assumed in countless discussions that if someone worships in error or organizes a church in error etc. that he forfeits his soul for that mistake.” Really? So, at that moment, he cannot be restored? If he is in error, must he be restored? As long as there is time and opportunity, anyone can be restored. And, I do think that if congregations engage in unscriptural practices, that they are in error.

    Your question, “Are you saying that all error damns?” is misleading. All sin has the potential to lead one to torment, if he refuses to repent. This applies to all areas of life. However, just because one has sinned or is in sin does not mean that he ultimately will be lost eternally at the day of judgment. That individual can change his life, as long as the Lord allows him time, and be in a right relationship with God.

    As to the Scriptural standard we are to use: Colossians 3:17 applies, I believe. “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

    You and I would agree that to do something “in the name of” another means to do it by that person’s authority. Thus, if something is not in the name of the Lord, it is not allowed. I hope that gets to the heart of what you ask.

    I will be corresponding with you via private e-mail soon. I am in between papers in my PhD class, and we are at mid-term in the courses I teach.

    Grace and peace,

    David

  15. Jay Guin Says:

    David,

    I take you to be saying that if someone sins, he is damned until he is restored. Thus, if one is guilty of a sinful form of worship, he is damned until he repents of that sin and no longer participates in that sin. Right?

  16. Jay Guin Says:

    David,

    PS — For now, I’m not wanting to debate the position or asking that you defend it. I just want to know what you believe on the subject.

  17. David W. Hester Says:

    Jay,

    I disagree with your language. “Damned?” The only places in the NT I see that word used is Mk. 16:16, Rom. 14:23, and 2 Thess. 2:12–in the KJV. And, in only one of those verses (Rom. 14:23) does the word apply to a child of God. I might also add that the ESV never uses the word “damned.”

    May I ask you a question? Can a child of God sin? If so, can he continue in sin to the point where he jeopardizes his soul?

    I must reiterate: I am not God. Neither are you. All I can do, as a Gospel preacher, is to preach the truth as far as I understand it, without apology or favor, in love for souls. My aim is to save souls–not condemn folks to Hell. I did not grow up hearing that kind of preaching, and neither do I engage in it. I preach Hell, but I also preach Heaven.

    Brother, we all need to get our heads right. Does error exist? How do we know what is/is not error? Does it matter? I take it from some of your PowerPoint lessons elsewhere that you are ready to “mark” those who do not disagree with you. How is that any different from what you seem to want to condemn?

    My Grandfather left denominationalism in the late 1930s when he heard W. A. Holley preach in Fayette, AL on baptism. He was ready to prove him wrong, and ended up realizing that he himself was wrong. He left the church he grew up in and embraced New Testament Christianity, going on to baptize thousands of people over the years before his death in 1982. We have about 14 preachers in our family because of his one decision. The bottom line? He accepted what the NT says.

    In one meeting he held, there were several members of a local denomination that visited one evening. He happened to be preaching on baptism and the church (without knowing they would be there). Everytime he would emphasize what the NT says, sosme of the brethren in the congregation would turn around in their seats and grin at the visitors. Pa Hester noticed this and addressed the members: “Brethren, these folks are our guests. They did not have to comee tonight. You are being extremely rude. If you cocme back tomorrow night, you’ll get yours.” The next night, he shamed the brethren for how they treated those folks. (By the way, he ended up converting most of the visitors who had come). I have tried to follow his example.

    What I am saying is that your language is almost foreign to me, because I don’t use it.

    I hope we can clarify things better in subsequent posts.

  18. David W. Hester Says:

    By the way, in the last post, I meant in paragraph 4 to say “Who disagree with you,” not “who do not disagree with you.”

  19. David W. Hester Says:

    I also apologize for the misspelled words in that post.

  20. Jay Guin Says:

    David wrote:

    I disagree with your language. “Damned?” The only places in the NT I see that word used is Mk. 16:16, Rom. 14:23, and 2 Thess. 2:12–in the KJV. And, in only one of those verses (Rom. 14:23) does the word apply to a child of God. I might also add that the ESV never uses the word “damned.”

    I think you’re avoiding the question. Again.

    May I ask you a question? Can a child of God sin? If so, can he continue in sin to the point where he jeopardizes his soul?

    Yes and yes.

    I must reiterate: I am not God. Neither are you. All I can do, as a Gospel preacher, is to preach the truth as far as I understand it, without apology or favor, in love for souls. My aim is to save souls–not condemn folks to Hell. I did not grow up hearing that kind of preaching, and neither do I engage in it. I preach Hell, but I also preach Heaven.

    I have not accused you of preaching or not preaching anything. You said you wanted to challenge my views expressed at the site and that you wanted to begin with a “carefully worded proposition.” I’ve asked for your carefully worded proposition. You’re avoiding the question.

    I just want to know your position on apostasy — if you have one. If you don’t have one, just say so. But since this entire exchange

    Brother, we all need to get our heads right. Does error exist? How do we know what is/is not error? Does it matter?

    Does error exist? Certainly. Does it matter? Of course. The scriptures tell us what is and is not error. I have never said otherwise.

    I take it from some of your PowerPoint lessons elsewhere that youare ready to “mark” those who do not disagree with you. How is that any different from what you seem to want to condemn?

    Plainly, we are to obey the command of Rom 16:17. I think the traditional interpretation of that verse in the Churches of Christ is sadly in error, but I do believe that the command, as properly understood, must be obeyed.

    How is that different? Well, we agree that the verse should be obeyed. We have differing interpretations as to what the command means.

    I repeat my request one more time from several posts ago —

    Second, either way, I’d be very interested in seeing your carefully worded proposition. I have stated, and I believe it, that Phil and Mac could not state a coherent position because their position is ad hoc, that is, they change positions depending on the doctrinal error under discussion.

    Therefore, I would be very interested to know whether you can do what they could not. By what scriptural standard do we distinguish doctrinal error that causes a Christian to necessarily fall away from doctrinal error that does not?

    “Fall away” is used in the ESV multiple times and is the phrase I used when I first asked the question. I trust it suffices.

    You began this discussion by saying, “I myself am willing to publicly discuss these issues,” and pointing out how important it is to begin with a carefully worded proposition. I agree that a carefully worded proposition is essential to a fruitful discussion, and so I’m asking for yours.

  21. David W. Hester Says:

    Jay,

    Your question: “By what scriptural standard do we distinguish doctrinal error that causes a Christian to necessarily fall away from doctrinal error that does not?”

    I gave an answer in a previous post: “As to the Scriptural standard we are to use: Colossians 3:17 applies, I believe. ‘And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.’

    “You and I would agree that to do something ‘in the name of’ another means to do it by that person’s authority. Thus, if something is not in the name of the Lord, it is not allowed. I hope that gets to the heart of what you ask.”

    You did not touch that passage, nor even acknowledge I said it. So, to say that I am “avoiding the question” is simply false. As for a proposition, that is dependent on your willingness to debate, which you have already made clear previously that you would not.

    My position on apostasy in general is what the Hebrews writer teaches in Heb. 6:4-6, what Paul writes in Gal. 5:4, and what Peter affirms in 2 Pet. 2:20-22 (among other NT passages). As far as doctrinal error, Romans 16:17 and 2 Jn. 9-11 applies. Is that enough, or do you want more? I can easily accomodate.

    I reiterate: Colossians 3:17 gives the fundamental principle concerning how to distinguish between doctrinal error and matters of judgment. Again, interpretation of the Scriptures is crucial.

    Here is a possible proposition to mull over:

    “Resolved: The Scriptures teach that a child of God can engage in unauthorized worship practices, such as instrumental music, and be right in so doing.”

    And, this:

    “Resolved: The Scriptures teach that a child of God can preach and teach doctrinal error and be right in so doing.”

    I await your reply.

  22. Jay Guin Says:

    David,

    Forgive me if I seem to belabor the point, but it’s essential that we understand each other on something so central. Many use Col 3:17 as a proof text for the Regulative Principle. You seem to be saying that anyone who violates the Regulative Principle will no longer be saved. Is that a fair understanding?

    Are you saying that Col 3:17 is an example of those things that might cause a saved person to fall away? Or are you saying this is the only way a saved person can fall away?

    You cite several passages that I agree are among those that teach the scriptures’ doctrine of apostasy. They are the same passages from which I teach what I understand the doctrine of apostasy to be. But as I’m sure you know, people disagree as to how to interpret them. I have to think we disagree. What is your interpretation?

    You suggest this proposition: “Resolved: The Scriptures teach that a child of God can engage in unauthorized worship practices, such as instrumental music, and be right in so doing.” What does “be right” mean? Do you mean to state that one can commit error and not be in error? Obviously not. If you mean one can commit error and yet remain saved, the answer is: of course, depending on the error. Not all errors cause one to be lost, but some do.

    You also suggest: “Resolved: The Scriptures teach that a child of God can preach and teach doctrinal error and be right in so doing.” Again, I’m not familiar with the use of “be right” as a theological term. If by “be right” you mean “be stating a propositional truth,” of course one cannot be teaching error and stating a propositional truth. But if by “be right” you mean “be right with God,” the answer is: of course, depending on the error.

    It’s really not necessary to submit propositions for my agreement or disagreement to discern my position. It’s stated at this website at https://graceconversation.com/2009/06/18/a-progressive-position-statement-of-position-on-apostasy/ and Todd and I defend it in the several posts that follow. If you want to understand my thinking, it’s laid out in detail.

  23. David W. Hester Says:

    Jay,

    I must admit to a certain amount of frustration in our exchanges. I am doing my best to reply to your questions, and yet you either (a) claim that I have not answered them, or (b) ignore my answers. Yet, I will again make an effort to maintain this dialogue.

    In your previous post, you write:

    “Many use Col 3:17 as a proof text for the Regulative Principle. You seem to be saying that anyone who violates the Regulative Principle will no longer be saved. Is that a fair understanding?

    “Are you saying that Col 3:17 is an example of those things that might cause a saved person to fall away? Or are you saying this is the only way a saved person can fall away?”

    Your first assumption in the first paragraph is way off of the mark. Your original question to me was: “By what scriptural standard do we distinguish doctrinal error that causes a Christian to necessarily fall away from doctrinal error that does not?” By “standard” I assumed you meant a basic principle from the Scriptures. Col. 3:17 gives that principle for all areas of life, not just our teaching.

    Also, you say “do we distinguish…” This clearly implies that we engage in some kind of hermeneutical process, and that you believe (by asking the question in this way) that it can be done. In good faith, I gave the scripture. However, you seem (based on previous posts) to be desirous of a “checklist” of sins, which I find highly ironic—given the position advocated against such a mentality by those on your side of the aisle.

    That being said, we can distinguish between things that are essential and things that are expedient, and know when a thing is not scriptural. I teach a class every semester on Biblical Authority—and use Roy Deaver’s book as one of the textbooks. George Beals’s book on the silence of Scripture is another book we use.

    Your second question is a complete misapprehension of the reason I cited Col. 3:17. The verse gives a general principle for all areas of life. I also find it interesting that you use the term “Regulative Principle.” I have never used that term in teaching, preaching, or writing.

    Are you completely opposed to prooftexting? If so, do you think that Jesus erred in Matt. 22:31-32? I am interested about your take on this passage.

    As to the propositions: since you insisted on them in your last post, I came up with the two listed. If you remember, this is what I originally wrote in my first post:

    “Paul was willing to “dispute” publicly with the Pharisees and Jews who opposed him. Formal debates are the best forums in which to discuss these issues. A carefully worded proposition, with ground rules set beforehand, keeps the discussion on a high plane.”

    This was set in the context of giving reasons for oral debate as opposed to internet forum discussion. I did not suggest, at that time, that I had such a proposition. Nor do I suggest now that the two I submitted fit the bill—because (a) you are not willing to have an oral debate, and (b) a carefully worded proposition has to be agreed to by both sides before such a debate can take place. Such propositions are designed for public debate. I have read your material online, and have your book The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace.

    Be that as it may, the first proposition (I thought) would be one you could affirm—however, it seems that you are not willing to do so. As far as “be right” is concerned for both propositions, it refers to being right according to the Scriptures. As far as it being a “theological term,” that means nothing to me. If something is Scriptural, that is what matters most. There are a lot of theologians who are just dead wrong—the Jesus Seminar being the most obvious example.

    By the way, let me ask you a few questions. Do you believe that a person is correct who:

    (1) Teaches that Moses did not write the Pentateuch?
    (2) Teaches that the Scriptures are not inerrant?
    (3) Expresses sympathy for the Jesus Seminar, and its conclusions?

    If not, then how do we treat such a person? Is he/she teaching truth, or error?

    I await your response.

    David

  24. Jay Guin Says:

    David,

    I have read and re-read you comment and have concluded that we are making no progress at all. I regret that, but I think you are likely to agree that it’s so.

    For whatever reason, we seem unable to communicate in a way that is likely to be helpful to each other or to the readers. I did not have this difficulty with Phil, Greg, and Mac, and have not had this difficulty in many other online discussions with conservatives. I don’t know why in this case here, but we’d may as well admit it and move on.

    I’m sorry that our exchange hasn’t been more fruitful, but I don’t see any point in continuing.

    You wrote, “Paul was willing to dispute publicly with the Pharisees and Jews who opposed him.” I post one or more articles a day at http://OneInJesus.info and allow unmoderated comments. I frequently engage in public disputes (in the sense of a debate, not in the sense of a heated argument). Many a conservative has challenged my views, and I have gladly exchanged views before a very large audience.

    This website, GraceConversation, hosted a public debate that I created and organized. I actually sought out the most respected representatives of the conservative Churches I could find.

    It’s therefore entirely unfair to suggest that I’m unwilling to publicly defend my views. I do so every day to a worldwide audience.

    I’m unable to engage in an oral debate for several reasons, one of which is my health — as we’ve previously discussed. It’s not a matter of choice, and I cannot be goaded into good health. I wish it were true.

    If you wish to challenge my views, you are welcome to post comments at http://OneInJesus.info. You comments will be read by a great many people.

    I wish you well in your ministry.

  25. David W. Hester Says:

    Jay,

    I regret that you have decided to end this discussion. However, I understand.

    Let me clarify one small point: I did not intend to suggest that you were simply unwilling to publicly defend your views. If you recall, I acknowledged the main reason you gave: poor health. I only said on the last post that you “are not willing to have an oral debate.” I had no intention of suggesting any dark motives; indeed, folks can read the previous posts and knwo that such was never my intent.

    One other small point: I do not condone heated arguments. I don’t think we have engaged in that kind of exchange; at the very least, I haven’t been angry at all–and I have not detected that from you.

    I have told you my opinion about the efficacy of the internet in back-and-forth discussions. That opinion has not changed. However, I must commend you for being willing to step forward in this arena and make your voice heard. Not many on your side of the aisle are willing to engage those whom they oppose in a give-and-take. May your tribe increase.

    I hope we meet again in another venue someday. I wish you well, and hope there comes a day when all of us in the church can be truly unified.

    In Christ,

    David

  26. Don Prather Says:

    Pardon me, but the statement “the intellectual bankruptcy of conservative Church of Christ theology” just does not seem very gracious to me.

  27. Jay Guin Says:

    Don,

    I wrote,

    Please buy a copy of his book Facing Our Failure. It’s a remarkable piece of research clearly demonstrating the intellectual bankruptcy of conservative Church of Christ theology — bankrupt because the conservative Churches of Christ have never been able to articulate a theology of who does and doesn’t fall away. No one has refuted Todd’s work. It remains unchallenged.

    I said that the theology of the conservative Churches is “intellectually bankrupt.” “Bankrupt” means you are unable to pay what you owe, and the conservative Churches owe their members an explanation for how we discern which doctrinal errors damn and which do not.

    As Todd has shown in Facing Our Failure, there’s been an utter failure to do so. That question was the subject of the GraceConversation dialog, and the first several posts are about the refusal of the conservative proponents to even attempt an answer to the question.

    Eventually they did, and when we pointed out the inconsistencies of their position, they abandoned the discussion. (And they couldn’t even agree among themselves on what they believe.)

    It’s outrageous that the leaders of the conservative Churches of Christ would declare some errors as damning but not other errors without explaining how we distinguish one from the other.

    In one breath they teach continuous forgiveness of sins per 1 John 1:7 and then declare certain errors as damning purely because error is sin. And so what sins are continuously forgiven and what sins are not? Why is grace given for moral sins for not for how we worship on Sundays? Do we seriously believe that God is more concerned about our singing than our morality?!

    Until the conservative Churches offer a scriptural explanation for their teaching, I stand by what I wrote — because the conservative Churches can’t explain or defend the basis for their teaching — and even after it’s pointed out that they have no answer, they go on damning over some errors but not others without any scriptural justification for how they pick.

    For a group that is so proud of having a book, chapter, and verse for everything they teach, it’s astonishing that they so easily damn millions of believers in Jesus without any scriptural basis at all.

  28. StevePage Says:

    Looks like I missed out in a great conversation.

    A great church of Christ professor said in class one night that Habbakkuk 2:4 (Behold, his soul which is proud is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.KJV) could possibly be more accurately translated, ” the righteous shall live by faithfulness…” (of course some translations say this or something similar)

    As you know, the words translated from Hebrew or Greek to the word faith in English can mean either faith or faithfulness in their original languages. It’s amazing how the scriptures seem to come alive when you read them with that in mind, and of course keeping in mind that the Lord has always demanded covenant faithfulness and that every relationship between God and man in scripture is covenantal in nature.

    I believe the churches of Christ come closer to teaching what scripture does than other sects, which is why I attend one myself. But, I do find that our doctrine, and indeed the small part of this discussion that I read, often fails to address covenants and faithfulness to the New Covenant.

    We often take issue with those who teach that we are saved by faith alone, because we realize that more than faith is needed. We can’t make the mistake of asking “what about, or this or that, how does baptism (or whatever) relate to salvation?” Baptism, communion, repentance and so forth are all part of our covenant with Jesus.

    If we read through the OT and look for the covenants it’s then easy to understand that we lose our salvation when we choose to permanently end our covenant with the Lord. Leaving the covenant may look quite different according to each individual’s state of relationship with the Lord. We may see that one person falls away and it’s very obvious, others may confess Jesus with their mouths but deny Him with their lives. The thing they all have in common is that something in their lives has become a priority over their covenant with the Lord.

    God Bless and thank you for the effort you’ve made to bring the Light.


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