29
Aug
12

Hiding Behind Mama’s Skirt

Have you ever witnessed children taunting other children until someone begins to retaliate? Then, they run and hide behind their mother’s skirts. At times, there are people in the religious [I say religious, not Christian] blogging community who act just like these children. Today, I challenged a blogger named Joel Taylor at 5ptsalt.com concerning a scathing indictment he had made against Tullian Tchividjian. Of course, there was the usual charge of heresy. Anyone who disagrees with Joel is a heretic. Based on Pastor Tchividjian’s tweet that was the basis of these accusations, Joel pronounced, “Tullian doesn’t want you to mature in Christ. He doesn’t want you to do anything, just continue ‘just as you are’ – and he calls that sanctification! being made holy!” Perhaps Tullian has shared this with Joel in private. It certainly isn’t evident from what he wrote in his tweet. Joel called Pastor Tchividjian’s tweet an “antinomian lie from hell.” Then he alleged, “Tullian is leading people to Hell and damnation with an antinomian lie.” According to Joel, “the brutish stupidity of this man’s theology needs to be made public.” Now, as I have stated before, there are elements of Pastor Tchividjian’s statement of his theology with which I would not agree and admittedly, I haven’t sat under his ministry every Sunday, as Pres. Obama sat under the “preaching” of Jeremiah Wright, so that I am well acquainted with all that he teaches.

Additionally, I should say I am not a defender of Pastor Tchividjian or of New Calvinism. I simply wanted to comment on what Pastor Tchividjian’s tweet said and what it did not say. This was his tweet.

“Just as I am without one plea” is just as true for sanctification as it is for justification.”

Now, I find no difficulty with this statement as it stands. By the very nature of “tweets,” one cannot say everything that needs to be said about a particular doctrine in a tweet. If all that Joel extrapolated from the tweet were actually Pastor Tchividjian’s position on sanctification, then Tullian is a bad dude indeed. Can you imagine a pastor so vile that he doesn’t want the people under his ministry to mature in Christ? Now, where in this tweet does Pastor Tchividjian state that God doesn’t require obedience from his people? Where does he state that it doesn’t matter if believers remain unsanctified?

The reality is, the tweet says none of what Joel has claimed. One question I asked at Joel’s blog was if we have a plea to offer God that would recommend us as good candidates for sanctification, what would that plea be? Can we argue that we are not quite as sinful as others? I don’t think so. The reality is, if God doesn’t sanctify us, there is no hope of change.

J.C. Ryle wrote,

3) For another thing, if we would be sanctified, our course is clear and plain—we must begin with Christ. We must go to Him as sinners, with no plea but that of utter need, and cast our souls on Him by faith for peace and reconciliation with God. We must place ourselves in His hands, as in the hands of a good physician and cry to him for mercy and grace. We must wait for nothing to bring with us as a recommendation. [To me that sounds very similar to Pastor Tchividjian’s tweet]. The very first step towards sanctification, no less than justification, is to come with faith to Christ. We must first live and then work.

(4) For another thing, if we would grow in holiness and become more sanctified, we must continually go on as we began, and ever be making fresh applications to Christ. He is the head from which every member must be supplied (Ephes. iv.16.) To live the life of daily faith in the Son of God, and to be daily drawing out of His fulness the promised grace and strength which He has laid up for His people—this is the grand secret of progressive sanctification.

Joel thinks people need to be warned against those who would harm the church. That is why I am warning you about him. No one is well served by wild accusations of heresy. I have no question about Joel’s sincerity. No doubt, he believes he is doing God a favor in opposing these horrible heretics, but if he wants to oppose something, he needs to take issue with what people actually state, not with what he imagines they believe.

I have no problem if someone wants to dissect a theological statement and then comment on its fallacies. But, to read into a statement a meaning that was never intended only divides God’s people and obscures real issues.

Oh, by the way, instead of interacting with my comments, Joel hid behind Mama’s skirt and deleted all of them. Why not be a man and discuss real issues? The only answer I can imagine is you know you don’t have answers to real questions. I wrote to congratulate him on his show of courage. He hasn’t answered me.

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20 Responses to “Hiding Behind Mama’s Skirt”


  1. August 29, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    I visited his blog and left a comment that actually made it to press. The next comment I left probably won’t. I quoted Proverbs 6:16-19 and suggested he go after real heretics.

  2. 2 Bri
    August 29, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    You nailed it… my thoughts exactly.

    • August 30, 2012 at 12:24 am

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. It is unfortunate that some seem incapable of carrying on a meaningful discussion of these issues based on a careful exegesis of the Scriptures. It is far easier for them to spew their vitriol.

  3. September 5, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Interesting opinion. If you are speaking of the term itself, you are correct. But what do you make of such texts as “21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,
    22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4: 21-24), “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (2 Cor 7:1),” “10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb 12:10-11), “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14), “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Cor 3:18), “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation-” (1 Pet. 2:2), “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (2 Pet. 3:18),
    among others?

    Since these verses are written to believers who are already perfectly holy in Christ, what other holiness could they refer to if not progressive holiness/sanctification?

    • September 5, 2012 at 6:42 pm

      I am very sorry to hear about your mother’s passing. I know how painful it can be to loose a parent and your have our sympathy and prayers.

      Re: Progressive Sanctification–Jesus said, “Severed from me you can do nothing.” Perhaps you are forgetting that as believers, we are not severed from him. Because God works in us by His Spirit, we have the desire and the ability to do what pleases him (See Phil. 2:13). Paul also wrote, “I can do all things through him who is constantly infusing his strength to me.” Perhaps you would like to interact with some of the citations from John Murray in my article “Sanctification, how does it happen?”

  4. September 7, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Open and honest discussion is never a problem here, as long as you remain respectful.

  5. September 7, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    I don’t happen to share your view re: the KJV. There are verses in the TR that have very little if any textual support whatsoever. Additionally, which KJV are we going to crown as the king of translations? There have been many revisions since the original translation. Textual issues aside, there are a number of places in the KJV in which the translators botched the translation. Do you not understand that what Fuller wrote was one of man’s “floating opinions?”

    That said, the issue we are discussing has nothing to do with textual variants. The word in question may be translated “without” or “apart from.” The phrase I used was my own, based on the context. Since Jesus was stressing the need to remain [I know your Bible says “abide”] in him by persevering faith as a vine that is to live and be fruitful must remain attached to the vine, “severed from” seems to be a good rendering of the word. If you wish to insist on “without” I have no problem with it. Let me repeat what I said using a term you will accept. Believers are not “without” him and therefore are not unable to produce fruit unto holiness. Since true believers are not without him, WE CAN DO SOMETHING, I.E., produce fruit.

  6. September 7, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    Bill,

    Opinions are like armpits; most people have a couple and think theirs don’t stink.

  7. September 7, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    If a single letter has been altered since the original 1611 AV, then it [the revision] is no longer the Word of God since it isn’t exactly true to the original. Give me a break! Should the text read, “Prevent” or “precede” those who have fallen asleep 1 Thess 4:15. Should John 12:30 read “all men” or “all peoples?” (NKJV). These two expressions could lead people to decidedly different conclusions. Which one is the Word of God? Both are based on the same text. Should 2 Cor 5:14 read, “then were all dead” or “then all died?” (NKJV). The latter accurately renders the Aorist tense but differs from the AV.

    I fail to understand how anyone can defend the idea that only the AV is the Word of God. If you want to defend the TR you may have better success, even though it is difficult to make an iron clad case for any group of text. I think it is better to take each variant individually and seek to discern which reading is most likely to have been the original. The reality is there is not a dime’s worth of difference between all the manuscripts and no doctrine of Scripture is affected or altered by any of these variants.

    But Bill,

    Since you have a penchant for a language no one has spoken in centuries, I will address thee in thine own tongue. The KJV translation of Galatians 5:17 reads, “For the flesh lusteth [I know I use that word all the time] against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary one to the other, so that
    you cannot do the things that you would.” You have cited this verse, it seems to me, to show that believers have no ability to please God. Please correct me if I am wrong. What you have overlooked is the connection between this verse and the preceeding verse. The connecting word is FOR or because. In other words, Paul intended the words of verse 17 to give a reason for verse 16. The apostle had written, “Walk [live your lives continually and habitually] in [or by] the Spirit and you will by no means fulfill the desires of the flesh, FOR [BECAUSE] in other words, he gives a reason why we believers, living by the Spirit will not continue in the sinful things we would have wished were we not controlled by the Spirit. Left to ourselves, we can do nothing pleasing to God, but we are not left to ourselves. We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

  8. September 8, 2012 at 12:04 am

    Bill,

    You have accused me of using the same methodology as the cults in choosing proof texts to prove my positions. Incidently, in the very next sentence you cited a text, without its context, to try to prove me wrong.The “proof-text” method involves taking verses out of their context and using them to prove a position they were never intended to support. If you believe I have done this, you owe it to me to carefully and exegetically show me how I have used these verses out of context and twisted their meanings to prove my point contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture. The charge you have made is a serious one. Back it up or ask my forgiveness for it.

  9. September 8, 2012 at 12:21 am

    `Bill,

    “Humanism” describes the secular ideology that espouses reason, ethics, and justice, while specifically rejecting supernatural and religious ideas as a basis of morality and decision making.’ . . . religious humanism is a unique integration of humanist ethical philosophy with the rituals and beliefs of some religion, although religious humanism still centers on human needs, interests, and abilities.” Wikipedia article on Humanism

    Which aspect of humanism do you think I have imbibed in my view of sanctification?

  10. September 8, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Bill,

    I just want you to know our discussion is about to come to an end unless you state my position accurately. I am most happy to have a reasonable discussion with you, but we need to discuss real issues. I have not said we are able to accomplish anything in the realm of sanctification unless God gives us the ability to do so. I have written extensively elsewhere on the passages you have accused me of ignoring. I only listed the verses I did to ask you how you would respond to them in the light of your outrageous statement that progressive sanctification doesn’t exist. You have not yet dealt with those verses.

    This is what you said about my view–“Your view is “WE CAN WITHOUT CHRIST”. You won’t admit that that blatantly, but that is what you are saying…I quote you: “”WE CAN DO SOMETHING, I.E., produce fruit.”” Randy Seiver…” Are you so deluded that you can’t read and understand what I actually said? This is what I actually wrote, ” Believers are not “without” him and therefore are not unable to produce fruit unto holiness. Since true believers are not without him, WE CAN DO SOMETHING, I.E., produce fruit.” You conveniently omitted the phrase, “Since true believers are not without him, . . .” Unless you accurately represent my views, these will be your last posts here. Let me repeat, I will be happy to continue a real discussion with you but I cannot defend a position I don’t hold and have never stated.

    • September 8, 2012 at 2:19 pm

      There is nothing man-centered about my view. But, if you wish to end the “discussion” rather trying to be accurate about my position, that works for me. After this post, you would have been cut off anyway.

      Sent from my iPad

  11. September 8, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    My position is very clearly stated here. Read all I have written about sanctification on this blog. Feel free to ask questions about these posts, but the next time you are insulting or misrepresent my position I will have to block you. Any attempt on my part to clarify my position further would be futile.

    Sent from my iPad

  12. 15 Bri
    September 10, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Bill, I’m a bit floored at your attitude and behavior towards Randy on this blog. In one of your earlier posts, you confess “It is one of my ‘sins’ of pride to argue”, yet you continue to argue in some of the most “un-gracious” and self-righteous of ways, here in a public forum. This is not Christ or Bible honoring, but divisive and demonic. Brother, I exhort you to repent of this quickly, as your pride can cause serious damage to the work of Christ, as well as your own soul.

    Randy’s said a number of great things on this post, and in other writings. Rather than appreciate the numerous truths, your flesh guides you to one point of potential contention (that you apparently misunderstood), and then use that as a platform to argue and sit in judgement on his heart. There’s something seriously wrong with that.

    Galations 6:1 says “..if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted”. In your attempts to school Randy in what you see as error, I see no such meekness from you here, my friend. And it’s painfully obvious you’ve become tempted (by pride) and fallen greatly into it. Statements like “You are WRONG and I am RIGHT” only expose what your motive is, they don’t really help others see your position. You seem more interested in making a point, rather thank making a difference and helping someone see something you see, with whatever patience and humility and grace it takes (because that’s what God has done for us in Jesus).

    I say this as one who struggles with this myself, which is why I can easily see it in you, and know of the incalculable damage it can cause. The fact that you and I are saved and love God, yet continue to struggle with pride, should be proof in itself that our sanctification is a process, and God is not done with us yet. We’re fools to think we see everything perfectly, and have reached the pinnacle of holiness. It’s this illusion which fuels our pride and desire to argue and belittle, rather than grow in humility and lead others in love to Christ and His word.

    Repent, my friend. You’re on a dangerous road and it will catch up with you.

    In love,
    Bri

    • September 10, 2012 at 11:02 pm

      Bri,

      Thank you for you words of defense. It pains me deeply that professed believers in Christ can’t simply discuss real issues based on an exigesis of pertinent passages of Scripture. More often, it seems the discussion degenerates into misrepresentations and false accusations.

      I am painfully aware that I am not infallable in anything I speak or write. I have more than once over the years been compelled to change my views because I was confronted with clear passages of Scripture taken in their proper context that I couldn’t ignore. I delight in discussing such passages with those who disagree with positions I have taken, but I cannot defend views I don’t hold.

      Correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t think I have wirtten anything here that would give the impression that progressive sanctification means believers are able to make themselves better apart from Christ. My view is just the opposite. I believe we can only make progress in the life of sanctification because we are united to Christ and God the Spirit works in us to will and do.

      The bottom line is that I am here to try to facilitate meaningful discussions on important issues of the Christian Faith. The problem is that we cannot learn and grow if we are determine to villify those who disagree with us.

      Thanks for stopping by. I hope you will keep coming.

      By grace alone,

      Randy

      • 17 Bri
        September 11, 2012 at 5:15 pm

        You need not defend yourself, Randy. The real issue here has not been sanctification or KJV or anything else, it’s simply pride. When you enter a “discussion” where one or both sides struggle with pride, it really doesn’t become about learning anymore, just winning. It doesn’t matter what you say, the other side will just find anything wrong with it they can and focus on it, ignoring everything else. Sometimes we have to be quick to recognize pride in the other side, or ourselves, and agree to disagree or part company gracefully (or until another day and time perhaps) so that we can avoid foolish quarrels.

        Bill, your apology and repentant heart make you a winner in my book. Thank you. I will be praying for your struggle with pride, my friend, and ask you to please pray for mine. May we be quick to kill pride when it rises up, lest it kills us and all that’s precious to us, and we become unwilling tools of the enemy to hurt people and divide the body of Christ.

        Jesus prayed for unity in His followers, so that should be a priority for us. And in areas where we disagree and must divide, we should do so with grace and humility and love. The world is watching.

        Bri

      • September 11, 2012 at 5:48 pm

        Very well said. Thanks for the comment.

  13. September 11, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    From what i have read of Randy, to assert that he holds to a man-centered view of sanctification is to argue against facts not in evidence. Just my 2 cents.

  14. September 11, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Bill,

    Thank you for the apology. I personally find no problem with trying to convince others of what one believes to be true. The sin is in misrepresenting the position others espouse in an effort to gain an advantage over them. I encourage honest disagreement here. Iron sharpens Iron. Let´s just be sure we are honest in our representations.

    By free grace alone,
    Randy


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