The End

by Todd Deaver

Jay and I have now finished presenting the case for our position on apostasy. We have argued that there are three ways a saved person can fall away:

  • A Christian falls away when he no longer has faith. “Faith” means faith in Jesus.
  • A Christian falls away when he is no longer penitent. Equivalently, a Christian falls away when he no longer submits to Jesus as Lord. Equivalently, a Christian falls away when he willfully continues to sin.
  • A Christian falls away when he seeks to be justified other than by faith in Jesus.

Drawing from a wide range of scripture, Jay demonstrated that this position is consistently and repeatedly affirmed in the New Testament.

We believe our conservative participants amply demonstrated that their position on apostasy is incoherent. Our conservative friends actually disagreed among themselves, presenting two conflicting positions on apostasy. Greg and Phil argued that all doctrinal error, if not repented of, condemns; Dad restricted damning error to those wrong doctrines that lead one to sin.

Yet, having stated his position, Dad (who, by this time, was the only active conservative in the discussion) contradicted it time and time again when asked to apply it to specific cases. He also implied that the Bible requires an unattainable perfectionism by affirming that repentance always entails the cessation of the sin, and by refusing to acknowledge the difference between imperfect obedience and disobedience.

Along the way we also had occasion to analyze a number of conservative “proof texts” that were introduced, and to show how they were being misused.

As we end this important conversation, let me again thank Jay for initiating it and inviting me and the other men to participate. Jay is the kind of progressive I never heard about in my conservative upbringing. I was always told that progressives refuse to have their views tested in public discussion with conservatives because they know their position can’t be defended.

Jay apparently didn’t get the memo. GraceConversation was his idea. He discovered that many conservative leaders aren’t anxious to defend their own views in a public forum. But after a number of rejections, he found two who were willing and, after more rejections, a third to replace Greg when he had to leave the discussion.

I greatly appreciate Jay and the work he has done here (he did most of the writing for our side, as you noticed), as well as his ongoing work at oneinjesus.info.

We sincerely thank the three conservative authors – Greg, Phil, and Dad – for the time and effort they contributed. Despite our strong disagreement, we love and appreciate them.

And we thank you, our readers, for patiently following the discussion and sharing your thoughts with us.

We hope much good was done here. We assure you only good was intended.

May God help us all to overcome the obstacles impeding the unity for which Jesus fervently prayed. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

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3 Comments on “The End”

  1. Ed Boggess Says:

    Greetings Todd,
    I have read with interest this discussion and have submitted comments when thought profitable. My question for you is this: In which of the three categories does the failure to observe the Lord’s Supper in a proper manner fit? Everyone agrees that the Lord’s Supper is an expression of our worship. Paul warned that those who became “guilty of the body and blood” were “judged” and “chastened”, “that we may not be condemned with the world”. Apparently one’s soul was at risk when he did not worship properly and he “eats and drinks judgment on himself”.

  2. Todd Deaver Says:

    Ed,

    I’d say it falls in the second category: penitence/submission. As 1 John shows, one of the signs of a true disciple is love for the brethren. Just as one can’t be saved without trusting Jesus, one can’t be saved without loving others, because if we’re saved (and submitting) we’ll have the same kind of heart Jesus had.

    Please notice that the sin concerning the Lord’s supper in Corinth had nothing to do with our modern doctrinal debates. What was at stake here was not an intellectual mistake (e.g., failing to deduce that the supper must be observed weekly, only on Sunday, etc.). Rather, the haves were neglecting/mistreating the have-nots in the supper (v. 22). They apparently ate before the poor even arrived (vv. 21, 33), and seem to have discriminated against the poor by not giving them the same generous portions of food they had. As a result, the rich were sated while the poor were still hungry.

    In its context, “the body” (v. 29) means, not Jesus’ body on Calvary, but the church (cf. 10:17). These Christians failed to embody the unity that the supper symbolized. Instead, the haves were maintaining sociological distinctions in the church and were abusing the have-nots at the Lord’s table in the ways mentioned above.

    So the sin here that so concerned Paul was disrespectful, unloving behavior. Again, it’s about the heart. His rebuke does not suggest that someone who honestly misunderstands something like the proper day or frequency of partaking is in danger of losing his soul.

    If someone believes that it does, I would ask a question. This passage, as well as the gospel accounts describing the institution of the supper, shows that in the first century the Lord’s supper was observed in the context of an actual meal. Since conservative Churches of Christ have departed from this scriptural pattern, why wouldn’t their souls be at risk on that basis?

    Thanks for the question, Ed. I hope these thoughts will help.

  3. brian rayburn Says:

    Thank you for such insight brothers. MY EYES HAVE BEEN OPENED! I appreciate all of you.


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