My Blogroll

My Watchlist
Blog Name
(click on a blog to link to it)
Calvinism Arminianism Universalism Dispensationalism New Covenantal Theology Conenantalism Conservatism Liberalism
Anglican and CESA
Peter’s Progress  RSS  Twitter  Link Love   ?         ? ?    
Shark Bait’s Reef  RSS  Link Love  Link Love   almost Arminianism         Covenantalism   almost Conservatism  
Chris Ebden  RSS Calvinism           Covenantalism   ?  
Clay Jar People  RSS Conservatism           Covenantalism Conservatism    
Contact Online Weblog  RSS Calvinism           Covenantalism Conservatism    
davidsshortstories’ photostream  RSS   almost Arminianism         Covenantalism   almost Conservatism  
St John’s Anglican Church  RSS   almost Arminianism         Covenantalism   almost Conservatism  
Baptist
Because He Lives  RSS  Twitter  Link Love Calvinism       Dispensationalism     Conservatism    
Pretoria Herald  RSS  Link Love Calvinism       ?     ?    
Reformed and Renewed  RSS  Link Love Calvinism       Dispensationalism     Conservatism    
The Regatta  RSS  Link Love Calvinism           Covenantalism Conservatism    
Brackenhurst Baptist Church  RSS Calvinism           Covenantalism Conservatism    
Called. Convicted. Converted.  RSS Calvinism           Covenantalism Conservatism    
Conservative Christianity  RSS  Link Love Calvinism       Dispensationalism     Conservatism    
Cregenda  RSS ?           ? ?    
Fingerprints of God  RSS Calvinism       ?     Conservatism    
Midrand Chapel Baptist Church  RSS Calvinism       Dispensationalism     Conservatism    
Motion Picture Theology  RSS ?         ?   ?    
The Silver Sword  RSS Calvinism           Covenantalism Conservatism    
Vertical Vision  RSS Calvinism       ?     Conservatism    
Word Feast  RSS  Twitter ?         ?   ?    
Congregational
Urban Ministry Live…  RSS  Link Love   almost Arminianism         Covenantalism Conservatism    
Dutch Reformed Church
my contemplations  RSS  Twitter  Link Love   ?         Covenantalism   ?  
a piece of my mind….  RSS                    
Methodist
Aiden Choles  RSS  Twitter  Link Love     Arminianism       Covenantalism     Liberalism
Carpenter’s Shoes  RSS  Twitter  Link Love  Link Love     Arminianism       Covenantalism   almost Conservatism  
gruntleblog…  RSS  Twitter  Link Love     Arminianism       Covenantalism   almost Conservatism  
Keeping Up…with the Joneses  RSS  Link Love     Arminianism       Covenantalism   almost Conservatism  
Matthew 6 : 25 – 34  RSS  Link Love     Arminianism       Covenantalism   almost Conservatism  
Along “The Way”  RSS  Twitter     Arminianism       Covenantalism   almost Conservatism  
An uncommon path  RSS  Twitter     Arminianism       Covenantalism     Liberalism
Living In Grace  RSS  Twitter     Arminianism       Covenantalism   almost Conservatism  
Rock in the Grass  RSS     Arminianism       Covenantalism     Liberalism
Sacredise  RSS  Twitter     Arminianism       Covenantalism     Liberalism
Skypilot  RSS     Arminianism ?     Covenantalism     Liberalism
Tongue In Cheek Stew  RSS     Arminianism       Covenantalism   almost Conservatism  
Wessel’s place  RSS     Arminianism       Covenantalism   almost Conservatism  
Wondering Preacher  RSS     Arminianism       Covenantalism   almost Conservatism  
Non-Denominational and Pre-Denominational
Christian Diary  RSS  Link Love   ?     Dispensationalism     Conservatism    
Theo-Enthumology  RSS  Twitter  Link Love Calvinism         New Covenantal Theology   Conservatism    
For the Love of His Truth  RSS  Twitter  Link Love  Link Love Calvinism       Dispensationalism     Conservatism    
New Testament Ministry  RSS  Twitter   ?     Dispensationalism     Conservatism    
Thompson’s Two Cents  RSS ?       ?     ?    
…daylight  RSS Calvinism         New Covenantal Theology     almost Conservatism  
Non-Institutional
Discerning the World  RSS  Link Love   almost Arminianism     Dispensationalism     Conservatism    
Ryan Peter Blogs and stuff  RSS   ?       ?     ?  
Watch and Pray  RSS   almost Arminianism       New Covenantal Theology   Conservatism    
Orthodox
Khanya  RSS  Link Love  Link Love   ?         Covenantalism   ?  
Unknown
fresh expressions…  RSS                    

Key
Symbol Description
RSS Not using RSS to follow your favourite blogs is like trying to dig a garden pond equipped with a spoon. Want more information about RSS? Click here.
Twitter Everyone’s on Twitter… or should be. Click the Twitter image to go to the persons Twitter page.
Link Love Thanks for linking to me from your blogroll. I really appreciate it. This is my way of giving you cred.
Star I believe this is the current leader in this section. This is really subjective.
Um, you’ve been boxed. Check the column. How close am I?
? I’m not sure where you stand. Maybe you could drop me a note and correct me?

A blogroll is really just a “blogger’s list of hyperlinks to other blogs”. More often than not it quickly degenerates into a you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours rewards mechanism. I decided to drop it from my sidebar because I was concerned that by linking without prudence I’d give unfettered consent to views disparate from my own and I had a deep sense of discomfort with that thought.

Enter My Watchlist. These are the South African blogs monitored by my RSS feed. These are not blogs I necessarily always (or even ever) agree with, these are blogs purporting to be Christian which I subscribe to. To emphasize discernment I’ve categorised each of them according to criteria which I deem to be important. Of course the categorization is subjective and my perception may well be incorrect. If you become a casualty of my zealous endeavour I apologise, it is done without malice. Please correct me in the comments section below. As always I’d encourage you to excise discernment, amongst those listed are savage wolves seeking to draw away disciples after themselves.

It was my blogging friend Jenny Hillebrand who pointed out the need for me to lay down some of the guidelines to how the categorisation was done. The tables below are an attempt to make clear the thinking above. Most of the silly, dusty, Theological words are hyperlinks that you could press on to link to wikipedia articles giving you more information.

Salvation
Calvinism Arminianism Universalism
Total depravity Humans are naturally unable to make any effort towards salvation. No works of human effort can cause or contribute to salvation. Salvation is possible only by God’s grace, which cannot be merited. God plans to redeem, restore, and transform all people through Christ. This is in conflict with the clear teachings of Scripture and is an apostate belief system.
Unconditional election God’s election is conditional on faith in the sacrifice and Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Limited atonement Christ’s atonement was made on behalf of all people.
Irresistible grace God allows his grace to be resisted by those who freely reject Christ.
Perseverance of the saints Believers are able to resist sin but are not beyond the possibility of falling from grace through persistent, unrepented-of sin.
It is my observation that Calvinists will view “To the Glory of God” as the preeminent theme running through Scripture. I’d imagine that Arminianists would view “The scarlet-colored blood-red thread of God’s redemptive plan and purpose” as the chief end and purpose of the Biblical account?

The Big Picture
Dispensationalism New Covanent Theology Covenantalism
Dispensationalism is a Protestant evangelical tradition and theology based on a biblical hermeneutic that sees a series of chronologically successive “dispensations” or periods in history in which God relates to human beings in different ways under different Biblical covenants. A middle-ground between a Reformed and Dispensationalist view of how the Old Testament, and in particular the Mosaic Covenant, apply to the Christian today. Covenant theology (also known as Covenantalism or Federal theology or Federalism) is a conceptual overview and interpretive framework for understanding the overall flow of the Bible. It uses the theological concept of covenant as an organizing principle for Christian theology.

Some Important Nitty Gritties
Conservatism * Liberalism
The inspiration of the Bible by the Holy Spirit and the inerrancy of Scripture as a result of this.
The virgin birth of Christ.
The belief that Christ’s death was the atonement for sin. Ransom view or the moral influence view
The bodily resurrection of Christ.
The historical reality of Christ’s miracles.
Sola scriptura (“by Scripture alone”).
Sola fide (“by faith alone”).
Sola gratia (“by grace alone”).
Solus Christus or Solo Christo (“Christ alone” or “through Christ alone”).
Soli Deo gloria (“glory to God alone”).
Creationism. Evolution, Ruin-Restoration Creationism or Progressive Creationism.
Cessationism Spiritualism (not to be confused with Spirituality) or Mysticism

* Conservatism: I’ve chosen to adopt this word because in fairness Fundamentalism, the word I used originally, is too narrow in scope for what I wish to describe. Anyone I’m missing? Much to my own amusement I’ve just realized that neither Wayne Grudem nor John Piper would make it into the conservative column because they’re not Cessationists ?. I’m a bit double handed. Sorry.

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112 thoughts on “My Blogroll

  1. This is an interesting way of looking at things. And I think, could be the start of something quite useful in terms of categorising theological thinking.
    Could you explain a little more how your graphs work? Why are some lines long and some short? Some left and some right?

    • Hi Jenny,

      I will flesh it out a bit more, giving detail as to what the various categories mean to me. I think though it’s important to point out that the format is my perception and is acknowledged to be subjective. I’m ok with that.

      Is there any other categorizations that would be useful? The aim is to have a South African Christian bloggers guide.

      The more I blog the more I realise how marginalised my doctrinal stances are :).

      In Christ,

      Mark

    • Hi William,

      I follow all your blogs as well. You are refreshing close to me Theologically (except for that New Covenant Theology thing:)). In fact when I drew up the criteria I thought of you but decided that there are so few NCT’s that I’d just mark you as ½ Covenantal ½ Dispensational. Would that be an insult? Got a better idea? Do I need to add the column?

      The reason why I hadn’t put you into the first pass was I wasn’t sure which Denomination to put you in and I was in a rush? I was thinking Presbyterian or Baptist or Non-Denominational?

      Do you know any other South African Christian Blogs I should add on?

      In Christ and for His glory,

      Mark

      • Sorry for only replying now Mark. I have been sick on my leave with bronchitis and it doesn’t want to clear.

        Coming back to NCT, it is definitely separate from CT and DT, and so I am glad to see that you added a column for that. Also, NCT seems to be predominantly among Calvinistic Baptist circles, although not exclusive.

        Anyhow, the table is a great idea.

  2. Hi Mark – I like the way you have changed the graph. It is easier to read.
    Some comments: I don’t think that your reformed thinking is that unusual -it is just that not many reformed people blog. I must admit that I was surprised when I realised that you were a dispensationalist – I don’t think I’ve ever met a ‘real one’ before!
    It seems to me that you might run into difficulties trying to describe a ‘liberal’ position. There isn’t just one ‘as described on the box’ liberal doctrine. I wonder if it would be possible to change that category to have maybe 5 options describing different liberal trends? One of these trends would impact your Calvinist/ Arminian category – you should maybe include universalism there. (Can you get a universalist Christian – well, there are people in that category).
    A SA Methodist blog that you should include is John van de Laar http://www.sacredise.blogspot.com. I think he is the ‘most popular’ Methodist blogger.
    I could say a lot more, because your project interests me!
    Thanks for an interesting post.

    • Hi Jenny,

      Please do say a lot more. I’d like this to be something of value to the blogging community. I’m getting a lot out of interacting with South African Christian bloggers and would like to give something back.

      I’ve added John van de Laar, thanks for the referral. In your opinion is he conservative, moderate or liberal or can you not say :)?

      Universalism and Christianity are two disparate ways of approaching God. To reflect that I’ve removed the Salvation category from the Emergent Conversation section (if no one says anything about this statement it means no one reads the comments).

      I like your idea about the categorization of Liberal Theology however I fear it’d result in a table that would be unreadable and a bit difficult to manage. I do however need to do something, I’ll give it some thought.

      Thanks for the comments.

      Mark

  3. Hi Mark. I think you could categorise John with Dion – as far as I can see they think much the same. Yes, the different streams of liberal theology do become quite overwhelming. There is one track which is the slaves, women, homosexuals line. There is another which is the Calvinist, Arminian, Universalist line (if you want to talk theology you will have to at least acknowledge the existence of the universalist position). Then there is ‘the Bible is literally the word of God’, ‘the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit and forms the basis for our belief’ and ‘the Bible is a useful religious book’. (I’ve just rattled those off, could be better worded).
    Some of these are interlinked, some aren’t and some should be but aren’t.
    This is a bit muddled and very inexact, but working from what you’ve already put there it starts to put the nebulous ‘liberal’ into focus.

  4. Hi Mark

    Very interesting post. Thank you for including my blog – I’m humbled and flattered at the same time!

    Just for interest and categorisation purposes, “Matthew 6: 25-34” belongs to Hanno Prinsloo, who is Methodist.

    Blessings,
    Steven

  5. I find “Conservative” and “liberal” rather confusing, because they mean different things politically, economically and theologically. But generally I think theological liberals are political conservatives and vice versa. Theological liberals (in my view, of course, which may not be yours) are always changing their theology to fit the world, which means they accept the status quo. Theological conservatives are prefer to change the world to fit their theology, so they are usually revolutionaries in the world.

    But what’s a “cessationist”? I’ve never heard of that one!

    • Hi Steve,

      Yes, it’s not easy categorising. Much of it is perception. I have tried to define the choices I’ve made in order to give some insight into my thinking.

      You have me stumped :). Because you speak to such a broad cross section of people and hold to interesting views on many subject I had difficultly forcing you into the box. Please correct me if I’ve got you wrong.

      “In Christian theology, cessationism is the view that the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as tongues, prophecy and healing, ceased being practiced early on in Church history. The opposition of cessationism is Continuationism.” Cessationism isn’t the denial of the miraculous nor of spirituality nor of the divine working of the person of the Holy Spirit.

      Does that make sense?

      In Christ,

      Mark

      • Hi Mark,

        Concerning my “box”, I’m not sure. I see you have me takgged as “Covenentalism”, and that’s as unfamiliar to me as “Cessationism” was.

        If you want to see something of my theology and how it might, or might not, be related to your own, check my blog post on salvation and atonement

  6. I see a lot of question marks in my row so let me help you out. First off I’m not presbyterian, I’m independent although I would describe myself as something of a presby/baptist (elder-led church government and credo-baptism – although I won’t die on the hill of the latter). I am a Calvinist and I’m halfway between NCT and Covenant Theology. I’m not a cessationist so that rules me out being a conservative. I broadly fall into what is becoming known as the new calvinists or the neo-reformed. I also have (some) sympathies with the emerging church conversation. As always though, I’m a work in progress so I might have to check in with you again in a few years time ;)

    Been interesting to read your watchlist.

    BTW – my friend Christ Ebden is a calvinist anglican.

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for the insight. I’ve been reading your blog for a while. I made the presby link because of the trip to Keller’s church in NY (also enjoyed the MOM study we did at our church).

      I’m a Piper fan, so saying that someone isn’t Conservative because they’re not a Cessationist leaves me with a question mark however my Fundamentalist gut tells me anyone who’s different to me must be liberalish ;).

      The NCT thing is coming up quite a bit amongst really grounded Christian bloggers. I’m considering studying correspondence through the Reformed Seminary this year so maybe I’ll get a bit more exposure.

      Lastly, you need to blog more. I like you style and your story.

      In Christ,

      Mark

    • Hi gus,

      I really wanted to post a comment on your post but I keep getting an error. See my comment below:

      Hi Angus,

      Great observations. Yes My-Watchlist does sound a little like dirty-tricks-CIA-espionage-black-silent-helicopter-stuff doesn’t it? The picture you posted allows me to see how the visual elements that I intended are not rendering correctly on your machine. When I have some time I’ll look into that. I’m glad you found some value in it. I know there’re negative connotations to “boxing” people. I hope I don’t cause too much offence (Steve, I’m sorry, I think you may be a victim of my over enthusiasm and lack of insight into where you stand. Please correct me where I’m wrong and I’ll ‘Reform’ ;) ).

      I’ve been asking all the ‘blogging Methodists’ I come across the same question, “Why on earth are so many of you online?” Your’s is the first answer I think holds water, “We’re inspired by John Wesley’s journaling and tract writing and witness… Or maybe we’re just exhibitionists?” [edited]. Maybe exhibitionism might be a function of evangelism which Methodists are known to excel in :)? Oh that could be a post!

      You might on occasion be called a flaming liberal but I have to contend with being called a flaming MONK! Such is the cross we bear :).

      David, the ‘red thing’ is a bit confrontational isn’t it? I think a lot of my own prejudices are reflected in how I’ve put this together. Much of it is subjective rather than cutting objectivity. I’m comfortable that it at least talks to my perception of the South African Christian blogging community and is an attempt of sharing links while retaining a sense of integrity at the same time. I wouldn’t mind changing it or throwing it out if I was convicted of a flaw in the overall thinking.

  7. Mark,

    Thanks for the explanation of “cessationist” — I’d not heard of it, though I understand that the attitude it describes is part of dispensationalism. as, I believe, is chiliasm.

    But you’re a member of the Thandanani Forum, I believe, and that is a good place to discuss the beliefs of different groups of Christians, and to clarify some of the points that have been raised here.

    • Yes,

      I really should begin posting there too. It’s the juggling of the ‘job’, the family, the dogs, the budget, the blog and the church I’m left with very little time.

      I know that’s not the best of excuses. Thanks for your comments.

  8. Pingback: Labels and stereotypes « Khanya

  9. I have worked assiduously to preserve my cover, and you have finally blown it. ;-) The only trouble is, looking at the basis on which you made your various calls, I’m not the perfect fit in the places you put me — nor am I convinced that you’ve identified the real features of your labels. I wondered whether John Calvin himself would be quite happy.

    With regard to categorisation, in recent years I resisted repeated calls by my seminary to declare my theological position. Finally I made a position statement about shunning position statements. Then they finally quit. CS Lewis, apparently, had a similar approach, and reprimanded his secretary once when she revealed something that she shouldn’t have (I think, that he was an Anglican).

    However, there are theological reasons why I eschew categorisation. I believe in the positional unity of believers, which transcends and overshadows categories. Positional unity speaks of a living relationship with God, not a mental arrangement. From another point of view, I minister in a theologically diverse congregation, which makes it necessary, I think, to look beyond the usual classifications.

    • All very good points Thomas. I also understand the need for you to juggle many balls in your cosmopolitan setting. Could we boil down the table to my perception of you, which may or may not be accurate and is certainly not holistic. The value the table may have to you is that it gives insight into how at least one other person, me, views about you. Is that value enough?

  10. That OK, Mark.

    Another point that stayed in my head. The conservatism-liberalism distinction on your tables is no longer current. Liberalism is now very widely considered to be passe: modernist, tied into the Enlightenment narrative, and so on. The major seminaries, such as FTS, PTS, Yale now very often espouse postliberalism or narrative theology. If you should not be familiar with this, you absolutely have to get to know the terrain. :-) I look forward to seeing a post.

    Thomas.

  11. Hey Mark,

    Thanks so much for the links! I too find labels interesting (of course I use them, and for the most part they only make sense in my somewhat eclectic mind!)

    Some call me liberal, other evangelical – like Gus your table also doesn’t render perfectly on my computer (what is the heading for the column second from the end (next to the red ticks)?)

    What astounds me is that you’ve managed to dig into all of the blogs of these wonderful friends!

    I remember a time when it was just Steve Hayes and I on the WHOLE internet! We had so much space we could throw a ball and not hit a single Methodist… Now they (Methodists) make the place look untidy ;-)

    Rich blessing, it is great to be connected with you!

    Dion

    • Hi Dion,

      Thanks for the encouragement.

      For what it’s worth I think your’s was the first South African Christian blog I stumbled across when I ‘tuned in’ last year. Steve’s was second. I wanted to only focus on the South African ‘discussion’ and so I followed his links and ended up in the emergent woods. The comments on you site lead me to the Methodists whom I’ve found most friendly, active and vibrant. I’ve struggled to find pockets representing other voices.

      There’re about 20 more sites I’m sifting through. Cori, ‘fresh expressions…’ and ‘Seeig More Clearly’ spring to mind. I just need to finish reading some of the content and the comments. You have any suggestions.

      I’ve been watching your YouTube stuff like ‘driving in the car’ and the ‘Christmas address’. Interesting techniques. You’re cutting edge :).

  12. Hi Mark, It great to be able to follow some of the links. So uch of good Christain debate and viewpoints is very enriching. On top of it I see a list of fellow Methodists. See you have not “categorised” me.

    • Hi Herman,

      I’ve been following you for a while. I enjoy your life blogging style.

      Now that I know you’re Methodist maybe you could confirm some of the other “boxes”:). Are you an Arminianist? Are you a Covenantalist? How would you describe yourself: Liberal, Conservative or perfectly balanced:)?

  13. Hi Mark,
    Late on the scene…….I’m a slow starter.
    I don’t like boxes and my theological terminology is way out of date, so I’m not too sure of some of what you have here. However, I accept what you are doing and your lack of pretences in doing it. It’s a useful summary of different blogs and a good discussion starter.
    I also appreciate the amount of time and commitment you have, and continue to, put in. Your wife is right, although I’m sure she will, like my wife, say that sleep is good too.
    I’m presuming that the hyphen between Conservatism and Liberalism denotes being inbetween. If so, I guess that’s right, Conservative is not something I would describe myself as, but it seems that Liberalism means something different from liberal.
    So, strength to your soul and thanks for stopping by on my blog, and caring to include me here.
    Regards,
    Ian

    • Hi Ian,

      I’ve been reading your posts since Saturday 13th February’s, “Hello World!”

      All the most interesting and social people online are Methodist: Jenny, Steve, John, Angus… You all got a great online vibe going.

      I have found (and it is confirmed by the comments above) that the more a person tends towards liberalism (good point re the difference between liberal and liberalism) the less they like tags; being put into a box.

      If I list you here it’s because I intend on interacting with your content in the future. Looking forward to more chats.

  14. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for linking me!

    Regarding the categorisation, alongside Tyrell is probably quite accurate, seeing as he is linked to my church. I’m still at the stage of figuring out what all those big words mean, and where I stand… :-)

    Renate

      • Lol!

        The bit that’s really confusing me at the moment is the whole dispensationalism vs new covenant theology vs covenantalism thing. Kinda a new concept for me… Will have to look into it a bit.

        Thanks for sparking the interest.

        • Hi Mark

          I spoke to Tyrell a while ago and he said that you have actually labelled him (us…) incorrectly. He said that we are not New Covenant, but rather Covenantelist. (Did I spell that right, it looks kinda funny?) :-o

          Anyway, just thought I’d drop by to let you know.

          Renate

                • Yup! Looks good. Thank you.

                  Also, on a totally irrelevant note, I was reading your “Why blog” series and was once again amazed at how small the world is!

                  I saw your link to “Sharkbait’s Reef” and immediately wondered:”Hey, wasn’t that David7’s blog?” I met him through NaNoWriMo. (National Novel Writing Month)

                  The networking opportunities on the internet never fail to astound me!

                  • Whoah, just reread and realized that I was saying things I didn’t mean to be saying.

                    Make that “met” D7… As in, on the internet, not in person.

                    • Hey Renate,

                      I’ve met him in real life. Actually I see him a few times a year when I go down to my home town. He’s a really nice guy and an upstanding Christian.

                      The world is impossibly small, yet I also believe that there’re so few of “us” that we’re bound to be walking around in the same circles.

  15. Hi Mark

    Grant will check us out on your “blog roll” as requested a bittie later :-)

    I posted the link of that lovely picture for you at out blog.

    blessings

    Elmarie

    • Thanks Elmarie,

      I want to encourage you; the folk that you’re reposting, MacArthur, Tozer, Ryle and co are amongst my favourite authors in the world. Not often I bump into likeminded individuals.

      In Christ,

      Mark

  16. Hi Mark

    Time is at a premium and “survival” has become the new “success” in the current economy. It is quite a tricky situation instituting balanced time management between writing articles and keeping business afloat.

    As there exists a grave need for Biblical truth to be employed against the deception in the world and false teachings in the church, which has necessarily spilled over into the digital world, we try as best we can to post solid Biblical articles, sermons etc. There exists a plethora of opinionated arguments and refutations made on websites and blogs, which do not necessarily offer truth, but rather affected individual opinion.

    So, while it takes a lot longer these days to get my own articles carefully researched and published, we rely on the solid authors you mention. As time has allowed, and as the need becomes apparent, I have recently been able to publish a few, as you might have seen on our blog.

    There are, and you probably experience the same thing, another seven million incomplete articles and ideas at various stages of development in my thoughts and in drafts! Whether I’ll ever get to them is another matter completely.

    Thanks for the addition to your blogroll, although I’m not sure whether it is a discernment roll? The term ‘discernment’ has taken on an entirely new meaning when one considers all the blogs and websites which refer to themselves as discernment sites or ministries.

    So very few of them are Biblical, or even Biblically orientated and even less of them seem to apply discernment. While every true Spirit-led believer necessarily has the gift of discernment through the Holy Spirit and understanding by studying the Word, the majority of the so-called discernment sites simply apply a loveless and largely un-Christian approach to voice malicious opinion. In most instances, unfortunately, the truth is certainly not applied in refuting the lies.

    Although the need certainly exists to comply with Biblical instruction to contend for the Christian faith, the methodology required by that same instruction is certainly very different to that which is evident at the majority of these discernment locales.

    When one simply considers the extreme theological errors and incorrect Biblical interpretation employed, to the point of absurdity, by discernment sites who discern other discernment sites, who in turn are claiming to be the true gifted discerners of matters discerning and on and on the circus goes, the gross deception should be very clear to Christians… of course, there are exceptions for which we are grateful. It is certainly our hope that our blog is not regarded as a discernment blog.

    Nevertheless, for your blog roll regarding our blog’s ‘catagories’: Calvinism seems to be the closest choice to Biblical doctrine, if attesting to the five Solas is seen as Calvinism, then we’ll go for that one, thank you. Therefore, dispensationalist, conservative and pre-denominational suites us nice and snug (although not in the Orthodox Church sense).

    Thanks for the encouragement, because as you rightly say, not often do we encounter likeminded Biblical individuals!

    Rejoicing in your faith,

    Grant

    • Hey there Grant,

      mmm, I’ve got to apologise, the whole discernment thing was tongue in cheek. I used to follow Elmarie and your comments on Discerning the World although by that stage Deborah had asked me to cease commenting on her blog so I was just keeping tags on the comments RSS to see who was saying what.

      Pre-Denominational… :). Got to ask because that tag interests me, are you a member of a Church of Christ congregation? I know you’re not Catholic and other than them the Church of Christ is the only other “denomination” I know of who uses that particular tag. I guess failing that I’d ask if you’re a member of a local church at all? Do you see an importance of the local church? You answer intrigues me. I ask because I’d like to understand.

      As for your changes I believe they’re all done.

      In Christ,

      Mark

  17. Hi Mark

    Thanks for the encouragement :-) much appreciated !!!

    Just a thought. As Grant mentioned above, how about a 3rd option “Biblical Christianity” in the column with Calvinism and Arminianism and the option of “Pre-denominational” for Biblical Christians rather than non-denominational, which has the effect of grouping John Calvin, J C Ryle & John MacArthur with Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, Angus Buchan & Rick Warren

    blessings

    Elmarie

    • Hey there Elmarie,

      You and Steve together have effectively underlined an important short coming in the list above, that is, not many people understand the Theological tags I’ve used (Elmarie) even when they are objective (Steve).

      To Elmarie: Calvinism and Arminianism are opposing views of a very narrow sliver of Theology called Soteriology. Soteriology is concerned exclusively with the doctrines related to Salvation (I remember you enjoyed GotQuestions.com, so go and check out What is Calvinism and is it Biblical?).

      “Biblical Christianity” on the other hand is holistic. It impacts Ecclesiology (doctrines of the Church), Pneumatology (doctrines on the Holy Spirit), Christology (doctrines relates to Lord and Saviour, Christ Jesus) and so on and so forth. There is not a subject “Biblical Christianity” wouldn’t touch.

      Now, while undertaking to categorise all South Bloggers on every particular peculiarity they might hold to would be a noble task it’s not one I’m currently geared to and so I’ve relegated myself to looking at three particularly important macro subjects.

      1) What does a person hold to concerning the Gospel (Calvinism vs Arminianism).

      2) What does a person hold to concerning God’s dealing with mankind (Dispensationalism vs Covenant Theology).

      3) What does a person hold to concerning the fundamentals of the Christian Faith (Fundamentalism vs Liberalism).

      So, in practise, and to use the examples you gave, this would work out like this:

      1) Regarding What does a person hold to concerning the Gospel: John Calvin & John MacArthur would all get ticks in the Calvinist box. Angus Buchan would get a tick in the Arminianist box (he is a Methodist). J C Ryle (being an Anglican) would get a tick in the center. Heaven knows where Rick Warren would get a tick. I wouldn’t have listed Joyce Meyer or Benny Hinn as I’ve not been referencing Pentecostals.

      2) Regarding What does a person hold to concerning God’s dealing with mankind: John Calvin, J C Ryle, Angus Buchan would all get a tick in the Covenantal Theology box, John MacArthur would get a tick in the Dispensational box and Rick Warren… I have no clue.

      3) Regarding What does a person hold to concerning the fundamentals of the Christian Faith: John Calvin, John MacArthur and J C Ryle would all get ticks as conservatives. Angus Buchan and Rick well they’d get the infamous “Liberal” label.

      Does this clarify anything or make it muddier? If you enjoy reading pick up a copy of Charles Ryrie’s Biblical Theology of the New Testament. The man has a way of making the complex seem simple.

      In Christ,

      Mark

      • Anglicanism is considered a historically reformed tradition – Conservative anglicans (Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer and in the contemporary realm: Dick Lucas, John Stott) were historically calvinists. So JC Ryle was a calvinist, he wasn’t in the middle.

        BTW – I now work for a Presbyterian Church so you can label me under Presbyterian again.

        One other thing: I would argue that NCT theology is a lot closer to Covenant Theology than it is to dispensationalism. I have many friends and colleagues who generally hold to covenant theology but have some NCT leanings.

        Anyway – always fun reading your classifications.
        Blessings.

  18. Hi Elmarie

    If Mark were to include a category for “Biblical Christianity”, he would need to define his own understanding of the term, since, after all, this is HIS list.

    For example, each of the names you have listed above may be considered to be adherents of Biblical Christianity (even if only by themselves and their followers).

    Perhaps we need to open a discussion around how different people understand the term “Biblical Christianity”? For instance, I don’t consider myself to be a literalist, yet I regard myself as a Biblical Christian. Many people on different points along the theological scale would regard themselves likewise.

    Mark – it’s your blog – what do you think?

    Regards,
    Steven

    • :).

      See comments above.

      How about a syncro blog with you and Elmarie/Grant on the subject of Biblical Christianity. Posts must be < 1500 words. I’ll host the writings and moderate?

  19. Could be interesting, Mark. It might be something that would interest Jenny as well – I’ll chat to her. My only constraint may be time, since seminary keeps me rather busy. I’m therefore normally only able to blog in short “bursts”. But let’s explore it.

  20. Hi Mark

    My honest answer about your suggestion, I had an absolute overdose of debating people over at Dtw and I have found that there is nothing edifying about debates especially when it comes to the Bible. soooo I wil make a run for it lol lol however I do see your well meant suggestion. It is more edifying to spread the Gospel and none is more so.

    besides I adhere to Paul’s teaching in the Word that no woman should teach men. 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. Therefore I can not go into a debate with Steven. That is also why I would not post any teaching by women on our blog.

    I have read your suggested link thanks and it ads to my already understanding these things :-)

    I am sure Grant will answer your Q’s when time permits.

    blessings

    Elmarie

  21. Hi Mark – in answer to your question – sorry for the delay – baby is a handful!! We’re Calvinists, so its Covenantialism too. Hope that helps? Thanks for adding me!

  22. Oh and in theory we’re CESA, as in we attend the same church as Chris Ebden. However we do differ with CESA on paedo-baptism, so in that regard we’re possible in the baptist group – however as I said – Calvinists, so with Driscoll and Piper…

  23. Hi Mark

    I had been making notes along the way while traveling for a few days, so, while in Mpumulanga last week, I spent three hours in putting all those notes together in a detailed response to your questions. I had also addressed the issue pertaining to a discussion on Biblical Christianity and the varied understandings of what it entails.

    When I hit the “submit comment” button, the internet medium, which I have come to distrust even more than a rock star charismatic, emergent evangelist or fanatical jihadist, lived up to it’s similarly infamous reputation and failed to respond. As a result my comment got lost somewhere in the virtual void and time had run out.

    This has happened to me all too often and I never seem to learn to write that sort of thing using a safer format, before pasting it on a blog. It is akin to studying and cramming religiously for a week for a Mathematics exam, just to be told on the day, that you are actually writing a History paper! I will put it together again when time allows.

    I noted the recent addition of “pre-denominational” to the non-denominational section on your blogroll. It was certainly not my intention to point out any shortcomings on your blogroll, after all it is YOUR list, as Steven Jones rightly indicated. Nevertheless, if it has any future relevance and thereby accommodates someone more insistent than myself, in demanding to be correctly ‘tagged’, it would probably have been worth it.

    The existence of thousands of Protestant denominations, as the Catholic and Orthodox Church like to indicate as being resultant from Biblical teaching having been removed from the explicit control of the papacy by the Protestant Reformation, led me to investigate the pre-denominational ‘tag’. I prefer it today, certainly not because any categorized physically defined group does, but because I feel it best describes what encompasses the historical truth I believe true saved Christians should hold to.

    My personality is such that it is an absolute and immovable imperative that I know how things work, and even more so, what the truth is pertaining to all matters which may affect my life, or those of my family, in any possible way. If ever you came to know me personally, and I look forward to meeting you one day, you would probably come to realize that these things are far more important to me than they are to most. I would rather be deprived of oxygen than of understanding, or be dispossessed of the truth. It is a burden which I (usually) carry gladly, as not only has it proven to be the source of indescribable frustration to me and possibly to others, but also the source of invaluable knowledge and information which has stood me, and those others, in good stead.

    I was “Christened” in the Anglican Church, as was required by members of my family who raised me, but between the ages of 12 and 22, I can honestly not remember attending church services. Sure, there had been a funeral or two, and then of course there was my own wedding to Elmarie in the (formerly safer), Dutch Reformed Church. When I was blessed with the births of my children, I ‘sort of’ realized the need to have them “Christened” or officially “named” in a church. The closest local church at the time was a Methodist Church pastored by Roland Watson (ex-world champion South African squash player), which seemed to make a bit of sense…

    When, by the Grace of God I came to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, I was not a member of, affiliated to, drawn toward or even particularly fond of any Protestant denomination, or any other physical church. Truth be told, prior to knowing the Lord, I was naturally suspicious and intolerant of the ‘losers’ who in my mind could not accept the reality of the world, or cut it in any field of play and thus hid behind their churches. According to my unregenerate estimation at the time, those who claimed to be Christians were simply incapable or too yellow-bellied to face reality, and therefore sought the company and protection of other like-minded societal weaklings in a congregational church. To me, the Bible and the farcical and pretentious attitudes it advertised, were simply embarrassingly childish and of dubious historical origin.

    The existence and vast diversity of denominations (and here I include the Roman Catholic Church, Orthodox and so on), opposing doctrines and claimants to the title of “true church”, were to me by far the greatest sources of confusion and heartfelt opposition to our Faith. I met many good people in church circles, many of whom had compelling yet dissimilar opinions and whom professed to be saved Christians. I made the acquaintance of pastors, elders, mature professing Christians and other theological scholars, some experienced and some in training, all of whom proffered convincing but totally diverse teaching on the Word and what constituted the nuts and bolts of the Christian faith. Of course as the Spirit has enabled me to do, I have mercifully been enabled to rid myself of that earlier confusion by finding answers, prayerfully and tearfully, in the Word.

    On the recommendation of an old friend, we began attending a major Charismatic Pentecostal church in Pretoria. Our friend had been a member of that church since its inception twelve years prior, and he had come to know their god/s well. I do believe that the Lord has since called him out of that spiritual deception. I knew no better at the time, but I also could not ignore the immediate urgent prompting of the Holy Spirit, which became clearer and clearer by the day, for me to find the Truth.

    Needless to say, I became immensely uncomfortable and embarrassed with the farcical and ludicrous proceedings there. Even though there was an enormous congregation, I could not find people who could answer my urgent questions on Biblical matters, the Christian faith or believable Spiritual life. I was literally surrounded by spiritually slain zombies, like unmanned drones buzzing around coffee cups and excitedly discussing nonsensical prophecy about rugby scores, stock markets and someone called Oom Angus. The gibberish tongues, complimentary ballpoint pens and healing schools seemed to represent some form of religion I simply could not recognize or equate with true Christianity.

    I have never been told that I am a stupid man, at least not by someone intelligent or by way of a test. Foolish I certainly have been, but not stupid. In addition, there were numerous recognized intellectuals who were ‘card carrying’, prophesying members of the Charismatic churches I attended. Therefore, my inability to believe the Charismatic act led me one of two conclusions; either, it was as the pastors proclaimed, that I was resistant to the work of their resident spirit and therefore would remain ignorant of the gifts of tongues, healing, prophecy, financial excess and better biceps, or; the Charismatic Pentecostal church was false.

    I reached a point where I simply had to say to Elmarie that, if what we had encountered at that church was representative of the faith we had been called to, I could no longer be a part of it. I simply could not do that to my family, my dogs, my staff or to myself. I hate lies, I hate fakes, I loath pretence. By that time we had experienced much more of the Pentecostal world in other similar churches, books, websites, pastors, congregations, magazines, rock stars, television, etc.

    The false conversions which take place at those institutions worldwide, due to the deceptively potent false gospel being preached from pulpits in the modern, post-modern and emergent churches, must surely represent the greatest spiritual threat to good people the world has known to date. I have yet to encounter a more anti-Christian display than what is unashamedly evidenced in those circles.

    It was during that time of searching that we encountered another extreme in that same deceptive falsehood; that is the cesspit represented by the plethora of extremely undiscerning so-called “Discernment Ministries”. If Satan cannot succeed in trapping you at one end of his deceptive network, he certainly will do his utmost to do so at another, when you least expect it. As I have said before, I do not believe that discernment ministries, as we have come to know the majority of them in the internet age, are Biblically summoned. Nevertheless, that is where you first noticed my wife and I in the virtual realm, and additionally where you have personally also encountered a resistance to Biblical truth. Mercifully, once again the Lord resolutely delivered us from being consumed in that trough.

    We had truly been saved, not as a result of our attendance of a physical church, but in spite thereof. We had truly been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and not by any false spirit. That much and more became abundantly clear as we were met by the Truth at a super-natural rate during the first year after walking away from the various false churches and the social gospel. To our amazement, God continues to reveal His truth to us as our faith continues to grow by His grace in a continually expanding miracle. Through that we also know that the Lord is so very real and that we serve a very living God. We can do nothing other than to praise the Almighty and Sovereign Lord God for His fathomless grace, patience and mercy!

    Regarding your question as to whether I regard the local church as important, it would certainly not be Biblically correct if I were to disregard or downplay the importance thereof. I do, however, regard with importance the question as to whether the perceived significance of the physical church to the Body is always correctly understood and upheld. The visible physical church comprises the vast scope of denominations, Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox and I suppose some other in between, and as I have illustrated, this in itself presents a great source of confusion and harm to enormous numbers of good people and terribly saddened true Christians. Of course, there are exceptions.

    Apart from the experiences I have personally had in far too many local churches, allow me to list only two simple examples, among many others of even greater and further reaching significance. One needs to look no further than what recent (ongoing) reading I have done, on the role of the Catholic and German Protestant churches in the Nazi atrocities during and even after WW2, and the similar role of certain Protestant churches in South Africa’s apartheid history. Further to that, I refer also to the dangers presented by the majority of “local churches”, such as I have mentioned earlier in this letter.

    I am all too aware of the saddle-sore excuse that there are always bad apples to be found in communal and social organizations, but it begs the question as to whether the problem could possibly as serious and pronounced in the spiritual church, which is not as much a social organization, but rather of God. Martin Luther whom, I suppose, not all Protestants have regard for even though he was Mr. Protestant, had this to say: “Now the church is not wood and stone, but the company of people who believe in Christ.”

    Additionally, why would a Christian congregant feel encouraged to be willfully exposed to controversy and error on an ongoing basis, ending up in a continual battle for the truth? So, yes, I am all for the “local” church, because I feel that both the Old and New Testaments instruct us in that regard. Finding the local church, however, is no longer a simple matter.

    Regarding my participation in a debate over what constitutes Biblical Christianity: I, for one, could probably learn from it, but it would be certainly be an endless debate and none of our positions would be markedly changed. As you have mentioned it does encompass an enormous range of subjects, but it is encapsulated by and limited to the completed Canon of Scripture, I think you would agree, unless I’m not expressing my thoughts clearly. However, it seems that Steven Jones (brother and fellow Banana Boy) agrees in principle, but adds that it is completely acceptable that varied and even opposing interpretations on what constitutes Biblical Christianity are acceptable, due to denominational or historical church tradition.

    Steven Jones said: “For instance, I don’t consider myself to be a literalist, yet I regard myself as a Biblical Christian.” Is that position even attainable by an individual? To me that is like saying: “I don’t consider myself to be literate, yet I regard myself as being able to read”.

    There cannot exist varied interpretations of a singular Truth or variations of the Gospel adapted to suite individual or denominational perceptions and preferences. A hungry lion remains a hungry lion and he will eat you, irrespective of whether you correctly identify the lion as an apex predator, or prefer to see him as a friendly pet kitten because it better suites your situation.

    “A fundamental principle in grammatico-historical exposition is that the words and sentences can have but one significance in one and the same connection. The moment we neglect this principle we drift out upon a sea of uncertainty and conjecture.” – Milton S Terry

    The use of performance enhancing drugs has reached epidemic proportions, and ‘clever’ drugs have taken the problem beyond that which can be stopped. Worse still is that the use of all the performance enhancing drugs and chemicals is becoming more and more acceptable to the sporting world, athletes, administrators and fans alike. I do not regard it as fair or logical that drug enhanced athletes compete for the same title along with other ‘clean’ athletes. The playing field is simply not level and the results are guaranteed to differ before the game has even started. There should be two distinctly separate disciplines, if drugs are to continue to be accepted.

    A similar scenario exists in the Christian world. There is quite obviously a clear message which Jesus Christ brought to the world. That message and instruction, which future Christians needed to hear and adhere to, continued to be preached by the Apostles and is contained in both Testaments of the Holy Bible. If performance enhancing synergistic doctrines, non-literal interpretations and religious traditions are to be accepted along with the truth, then we might as well include all other polytheistic, atheistic and mystical religions as well, and call it all Christianity. Rob Bell, Dion Forster and other Emergents can ride that “Cape Argus-class” worldly bicycle, I’ll stick with the old penny-farthing of God’s Word. It might not have a carbon fibre frame, synergistic suspension or Arminian drop handles, it is not popular with most of modern society for obvious reasons, it does not go in circles very well, but its propensity for holding a straight line to heaven is what I find makes it the right vehicle.

    In my understanding, there are then two distinctly separate disciplines, and a debate between the two would simply be quarreling, as the one competes for Biblical Christianity and the other for whatever it would. Proverbs 17:14 “Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.”

    Rejoicing in your faith,
    Grant

  24. Hi Grant

    Your response has been quite lengthy and thought=provoking, and I’ll need some time (when I’m not under pressure of assignments) to really engage with it.

    However, in the meantime, would you be able (and willing) to give a brief outline of what your understanding of “Biblical Christianity” is? I think your quote from Milton Terry is a pointer to where you are in this regard, but I think that my currently-fired brain needs it spelt out a bit more clearly.

    Suffice to say at this stage – I’ll say more on this in a post on my own blog at a later stage – that I’m not convinced that specific wording necessarily conveys the same, originally intended meaning, for all time in all cases. That’s why I believe that we need to understand and explore the context in which something is written – from the point of view of the event being written on, as well as from the point of view of the person writing the account, as well as the intended audience for whom the person is writing.

    For example, the word “gay” conveyed a very different meaning in 1950 than it does in 2011 – surely it would be incorrect to interpret someone writing about being gay in the 50s (meaning that they were happy and carefree) through a 2011 hermeneutic and interpret that person to be homosexual? And here we’re only talking 60 years.

    That’s not to say for one moment that I am tossing out the Bible – far from it! On the contrary, I believe that our understanding of Scripture and what it says us today can be greatly enhanced if we understand its original context, rather than if we look at it through 2011 eyes and try to apply it verbatim. Could there even be the possiblility that, because of the changes in the meaning of words and language over time, a literal, word-for-word application of a particular passage of Scripture may in fact be CONTRARY to God’s will for us today (for example, passages dealing with relationships between master and slave that appear to condone slavery)?

    Yours as one still growing in Christ
    Steven

  25. Dear Grant

    I love the way you write and also what you have to say … I think we probably agree on many things (but definitely not all). I consider you a brother in Christ. I’m pretty sure you would not consider me a brother in Christ though. Not a “true, saved Christian” as I think you put it. I also am very conscious that you wrote to Mark – not me … so reading your letter felt a little bit like eavesdropping / being a peeping tom. Nevertheless i need to act according to my views and beliefs … which means I should respond to your letter anyway…

    After thinking about your lengthy (and very readable) letter above I thought I picked up a theme. I have quoted 10 short excerpts from it taken in order (but there are plenty more) which I think highlight this theme:

    (1) “it is an absolute and immovable imperative that I know how things work”

    (2) “I would rather be deprived of oxygen than of understanding, or be dispossessed of the truth”

    (3) “invaluable knowledge and information”

    (4) “I came to know Jesus”

    (5) “enabled to rid myself of that earlier confusion by finding answers”

    (6) “for me to find the Truth.”

    (7) “I have never been told that I am a stupid man, at least not by someone intelligent”

    (8) “whether the perceived significance of the physical church to the Body is always correctly understood”

    (9) “The moment we neglect this principle we drift out upon a sea of uncertainty and conjecture.” – Milton S Terry”

    (10) “In my understanding,”

    I am reminded of the Bible’s injunction for us NOT to lean on our own understanding … and also of Jesus’ words to Pontius Pilate: “What is truth?”

    I kind of feel adrift on Milton Terr’s sea of uncertainty much of the time … but I have found that Jesus is out here with me holding my hand…

    Might I be so bold as to ask you if it isn’t time that you too step out of the boat? (And identify what the boat – for you – is?)

    In Christ Jesus’ Love
    Lance

    PS – Are you sure you should be lumping Emergents with Pentecostals?????? That surprized me!

    • In Anglican Liturgies I learnt the phrase “the peace that passes understanding” … maybe you recall that?

  26. Hi Lance

    Thank you for your response, kind words and interest in my thoughts.

    I will certainly attempt to respond to your slightly ambiguous comments and questions as openly and warmly as I can. To be sure, not all of our comments and questions are necessarily deserving of a response. Courtesy and compassion however, usually do no harm and I hope my response portrays a little of those.

    From your comment:

    I consider you a brother in Christ. I’m pretty sure you would not consider me a brother in Christ though.

    Considering the fact that I do not know you, the detail at my disposal regarding your salvific position is severely limited or, more realistically, non-existent. Any opinion which I might have, and I don’t, can only be formed by my reading your written comments. Why would you think that I have an opinion on this matter, and why do think that opinion would be negative? I have not had the honour of making your acquaintance and thereby having observed the extent of your ‘fruits’, even so, I cannot be your judge.

    A few points are resultant from this fact.
    1. It is irrelevant what my opinion is regarding this matter, and I cannot influence the matter either way, 2. My regarding you as being a brother in Christ, or not, would be based on pure speculation and assumptions on my part,
    3. If you agreed with Biblical Doctrine, that which states that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, you would probably not have felt compelled to make this comment,
    4. If you held to monergistic theology of the cross (as I hope you do), rather than the theology of glory, you would have an appreciation for the fact that, only at the cross does a fallen human being gain the understanding that is the result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit at conversion (1 Corinthians 12:13; Romans 8:9;Ephesians 1:13-14)
    5. Your comment seems contentious as you choose to criticize my regard of your salvific position while I remain ignorant thereof, due to your not having stated that position.

    From your comment:

    Not a “true, saved Christian” as I think you put it.

    That is certainly an exclusive matter between you and God. (Philippians 2) 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

    It is my hope and prayer that you are a true, saved Christian and a brother in Christ, or soon do become one, failing which, I would be saddened to contemplate your eternal position separated from God.

    From your comment:

    I have quoted 10 short excerpts from it taken in order (but there are plenty more) which I think highlight this theme:

    Rightfully you have identified a theme, one which I intentionally wrote into the comment. We are, as you pointed out, warned clearly NOT to lean on our own understanding (Pro 3:5), for to do that would be to depend on an understanding which is like a broken pillar and bound to fail. The understanding which I speak of with a heart filled with thankfulness, joy and humility, is the understanding which can only be gained through the Holy Spirit. The understanding which I speak of is not my own, as obviated by the fact that, prior to knowing the Lord, I had no such understanding. The theme which you happened upon, gives repetitive testimony to the miraculous enlightenment which the Holy Spirit brings.

    Without understanding of the Word on our part, we can not know what God’s message to us is. As we obey Him, He transforms us, giving us understanding and a new nature (2 Cor 5:12-17). We are able to find answers, truth and understanding through God’s grace and wisdom. As saved Christians, we have at our disposal, knowledge to understand what to do and where to turn (Pro 3:5,6) and unconstrained access to wisdom (James 1:5,6).

    From your comment:

    … and also of Jesus’ words to Pontius Pilate: “What is truth?”

    John 18:38 tells us that Pontius Pilate asked the question of Jesus, those were therefore not Jesus’ words. Reading it the wrong way around, could considerably alter our understanding of that passage.

    Ravi Zacharias puts it this way: “The fact is, the truth matters – especially when you’re on the receiving end of a lie.” Nowhere is this more important than in the area of faith and religion. Eternity is an awfully long time to be wrong.

    Truth is what it really is, the way things really are. Any other submission, viewpoint or understanding is not true and therefore also wrong. The truth hides nothing and is everlasting, unchanging. (John 14:6) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

    There are many things which are not the truth, there is only one Truth. In the post-modern church it is disputed that the truth can be known, and the Truth is not recognized. In many other churches there are adaptations which are offered as the Truth. In false religions the Truth is denied intentionally and entirely.

    Often, those who hold to the truth, are regarded as being narrow-minded, or arrogant in claiming that someone else is wrong. At times, those holding to truth in matters of faith are faced with the charge that such a position excludes certain people, rather than including everyone. All these complaints fail, simply because truth, by its nature, excludes its opposite. God’s Word is the truth I hold to, Jesus is the Truth I hold to.

    Truth is offensive to those who will not believe it. It is also the truth that consequences exist in life for being wrong.

    From your comment:

    In Anglican Liturgies I learnt the phrase “the peace that passes understanding”… maybe you recall that?

    I certainly do, not from Anglican Liturgies though, but from the letter Paul wrote to the Philippians. The peace which surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7) which you refer to, is at the disposal of the saved Christian, as is evidenced by Paul having written the letter to the brothers (Philippians 4:1,3 and 8). He also tells the brothers to stand firm in the Lord, something which they could not possibly have done, had they not been true, saved Christians and in Christ beforehand. It also clear from verse 7, that the peace spoken of is not something the brothers can generate of their own accord, but a peace which is from God, Who is at hand (verse 5). I share in that peace, because I have been blessed with sharing in that brotherhood.

    From your comment:

    Might I be so bold as to ask you if it isn’t time that you too step out of the boat? (And identify what the boat – for you – is?)

    I find it just a little odd that you would ask me this, as I have been writing all of this from my position of safety on dry land. I have long since abandoned the boat on which I was adrift and needed to step out of. By His grace the Lord led me the shore.

    Identify the boat? Truthfully, Doctor, it would be a difficult choice between the USS Enterprise, HMS Victory or Noah’s Ark. Certainly not the Titanic, even though the onboard luxuries undeniably warrant consideration. I think it might have been the lack of broadband internet there that dissuaded me .

    From your comment:

    PS – Are you sure you should be lumping Emergents with Pentecostals??????

    The Emergents are the next step in, if you would excuse my use of the term, evolution, of the false church. I do not wish to lump Emergents with Pentecostals per se, as they have proven themselves quite capable of lumping themselves into the same category. The similarities in the Charismatic Pentecostal church and the rapidly “emerging” church are obvious, particularly with regard to the emphasis placed on mysticism and experiential religion. The emergent church movement falls into line with the same basic post-modernist thinking as the Charismatic Pentecostals, it is about experience over reason, subjectivity over objectivity, spirituality over faith, images over words, outward over inward, feelings over truth. Both groups embrace post-modernist thinking, which leads to a watered down “feel good” translation of the Bible and the inclusion of much non-Christian practice.

    I’m pretty sure that in both of those vaguely defined institutions, are believers of God’s Word. Similarly, as I have stated before on our blog and on others in this regard, there are more than likely, saved Christians in the Roman Catholic Church and most others. There are men and women of Islamic and Hindu faith whom God calls out of those religions according to His will, just as there are those who are saved out of the Satanic church or atheists who come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. How long these men and women can safely remain in those false ‘institutions’ after being summoned by God is a matter of conjecture. His will be done.

    I do not hesitate for a moment, however, to lump all adversaries to the Truth and opponents of the church together, irrespective of which false religion or belief they hold to. That would, by definition, necessarily include all religions other than true Biblical Christianity. Also those who profess to be Christians, but preach a different gospel and follow a different Jesus influenced by another spirit other than the Holy Spirit.

    There are no compromises to be found in Scripture whereby it becomes evident that it is permissible by God, that grey areas are made acceptable. No teaching in Scripture can lead us to believe that a diversity of truths apply to the anecdotal likes and dislikes of societies or individuals, those with social or cultural differences, affected or opinionated interpretations and understanding of the Word, or an increasingly modernized world.

    There are two sides only, to this coin. Side 1: The false churches and religions all ‘lumped’ together, which support and provide the anti-Christ and will experience God’s wrath and Side 2: The bride of Christ, which is the true church comprising all saved Christians who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour and have received eternal life. No grey areas.

    It is not my intention to unduly offend and if my comments seem uncompassionate in any way, I offer my sincerest apology. It is by no means my intention to belittle or offend fellow believers, and ultimately these are simply my thoughts.

    May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

  27. thanks Grant – and no offence taken at all – I appreciate your response.

    I’m fairly tired now (as I was when I scrubbed that first response together) so I’ll leave a more thought through response till after I’ve reread yours more carefully.

    must admit I was more than a tad careless and sweeping in my previous response (especially in not googling “what is truth?” when I realized I wasn’t sure my memory was accurate as to whether it was Jesus or Pontius who said those words … mustve realized you would check it up and point out the accurate rendition if i erred though… judging from your penchant for details and admirable thoroughness. hehehe!

    I apologize if I seemed insincere at all … (not the case and im not aware of the ambiguity that slipped in. my bad!) and also if it was rude of me to point out that i thought you would not consider me a “christian” .. I based this on previous pieces of yours I read which suggested to me that you would not feel that I would qualify as a “christian” according to your definition thereof. Also wouldn’t mind that though. Everyone is welcome to their beliefs in my book and, based on what I do know about your beliefs and also what I know about myself – I’m pretty sure you would not consider me one. But it is probably really unfair of me to put words in your mouth – so I humbly apologize for that!

    im too tired now to google and cut and paste … but if i had the energy i’d put Puck’s words from the end of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (?) here………

    PS – i really loved your humour re the boats! (still chuckling!) but i think you missed the boat … i mean the point! –

    PPS – i was considering the emergent church as an option for myself – and am very glad for your analysis of them … that really gave me pause for thought!!

    PPPS – last “dig” : so, how come you think your understanding of Scripture is better than mine – or more importantly that of Steve Jones ? (quite some chutzpah of mine even asking given your showing me up with all those verses … but I guess its not the person with the most knowledge (+-even the devils believe and tremble+-) but rather the one with the most love who actually has a better grasp on the whole Christian thing in my view. (Although I say this fully aware that you might very well be more loving than I am!)

    PPPPS – I do love your writing – but I think you mix up the words “suit” and “suite” sometimes?

    • :-) Lance

      PPS – i was considering the emergent church as an option for myself

      Please pray about this, please pray about this, please pray about this and pause for as long as you can in thought over this matter. Then listen for His voice. Then please pray some more about this.

      PPPS – last “dig” : so, how come you think your understanding of Scripture is better than mine – or more importantly that of Steve Jones ?…

      I don’t think that. If I did, it would be tantamount to me trying to glorify myself rather than giving the glory to God. I have nothing more than complete and total confidence in the living Word of God.

      PPPPS – I do love your writing – but I think you mix up the words “suit” and “suite” sometimes?

      Do I? More than likely. My apologies. I will substitute the one for the other in future, that way I’ll get it right at least no less than I currently do. Which means the suite I’ll compose in my suite while in my suit will be sweet. Sweet?

  28. Howzit Grant :)

    Im sure Mark doesnt mind us corresponding away merrily like this on his blog so im just going on … until he lets me know otherwise (Hi Mark :) )

    Grant – phew – your response to my first letter to you is way to long for me to do justice to in the time i have available…

    Im wondering if I might cut to the chase by sharing my beliefs — my “creed” if you like — and maybe the similarities and contrasts might become evident? I’ll keep to layman’s terminology (a) because Im rusty since I last studied BibStuds a good 17 years ago at varsity and (b) cos I dont like terminology that goes beyond common parlance … it seems too intellectual to me to fit with the kind of faith I think is/would be real and relevant to the people I mingle with on a daily basis (kids, gays, retarded people, atheists, agnostics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus etc etc etc)

    I do believe that we’re saved by faith in grace alone – not by good works / effort / belonging to a denomination etc etc

    I do believe that Jesus is the only way to the Father…

    but I don’t believe that only Christians will “end up in heaven” – {soteriological inclusivism – but I DIDNT say that!!!! ;-) }

    I think many trust in Jesus without even knowing theyre doing so … without even knowing his Name … neonates who die young, and stillborns, profoundly retarded people, isolated and primitive tribes, etc etc … approximately 4 billion people on earth who will never be exposed to our “gospel” but who God knows and loves all the same.

    I don’t care what denomination ppl are in, or what their preferred designations (Emergent, Catholic, Protestant, even Pentecostal although I generally struggle with ’em) and doctrines may be. I consider myself part of the Body of all who trust in God (whether they realize it or not) alive on earth today, passed on in the 2000 and in fact 5000 years and longer before me and also those who are not yet born who will trust in God.

    Thats my belief as far as salvation – and “belonging to the Chruch” goes.

    And all I have time to write now.

    I do look forward to your response to this though.

    • Huzzit Lance :-)

      I apologize for the delay(s) in responding. It is certainly not due to disinterest, but rather to time constraints. I will respond briefly, for now.

      I certainly hope Mark does not mind, I’m sure he will kick the ball into touch if and when he finds it necessary.

      I’ll keep to layman’s terminology (a) because Im rusty since I last studied BibStuds a good 17 years ago at varsity…

      Similarly, I often have no option but to use layman’s terminology. I can’t be rusty though, as I have never done any institutional Bible Studies!

      (b) cos I dont like terminology that goes beyond common parlance … it seems too intellectual to me to fit with the kind of faith I think is/would be real and relevant to the people…

      I agree. There are many illiterate people who are saved by simply hearing and believing the Gospel. If the truth was intricate and exclusive to intellectuals, it would be useless to the vast majority of humankind. We, however, are blessed with the ability and access to draw on great Biblical and theological sources. In an attempt to make a comprehensible point, I think we may lean on the lofty words, sometimes.

      I do believe that Jesus is the only way to the Father… but I don’t believe that only Christians will “end up in heaven”

      It is the Bible which describes Jesus Christ of Nazareth as the Saviour of the world. The same Bible tells us that Jesus is the only way to the Father as it relates Jesus’ own words. The same Bible explains how Jesus paid the price for the sins of the whole world. There is no other sacrifice with which God could have been satisfied, the price of sin was too high. Based only on our belief in that Sacrifice, will we gain access to heaven.

      In other religions such as Hinduism and Islam there are references to other prophets and gods which they have also named ‘Jesus’. Those are not the same Jesus of which the Bible speaks. Those false Jesus’ did not pay the price on the cross, those Jesus’ were not resurrected and did not ascend into heaven, therefore to believe in them for salvation from eternal death is a fatal error.

      If you believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father (which you say you do), then you believe Him that His Father is in heaven. You also then believe that Jesus said that He was going to prepare a place for us (Christians) in His Father’s house in heaven, it stands to reason that only the followers of Jesus Christ (Christians) will end up in heaven, because that is what Jesus says. If you reject the fact that only Christians will have an eternal life in heaven in the presence of God, then you also reject what the Word of God says, and simultaneously you reject Jesus, because Jesus is the Word of God.

      You say that you consider yourself “part of the body of all who trust in God”, you necessarily need to trust God’s Word, without which there can be no such trust. God’s Word makes no provision for any person since and including Adam (Genesis) to enter heaven outside of grace and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Every person ever born or created can be justified only by the Blood of Jesus Christ. (Acts 4:12), “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

      The Word of God tells us that all men, past, present and future are made aware of God. But that knowledge and awareness does not save men, it convicts them. God sent Jesus to be sacrificed so that men could have a solution to the problem of sin.

      Only Christians can believe what Jesus said, only Christians can have faith unto salvation, only Christians can receive regeneration of the Holy Spirit, only Christians are justified and sanctified and only Christians will be glorified. That is what the Word of God says.

      Either you accept that what the Word of God says is entirely the truth, or you reject it entirely.

      I think many trust in Jesus without even knowing theyre doing so …

      That is simply humanly impossible, illogical and not biblical. A normal person does not trust in a stranger they do not know. Would you simply believe a stranger who approached you and told you that he was your father? Those who are unable to believe due to mental or physical inability (neonates, stillborn babies, profoundly retarded people, etc) cannot be responsible for their unbelief. We must remember that, due to inherited sin, no unborn, young child or mentally retarded person is innocent or sinless. It is consistent with the great love of God that the fact that Christ’s death was sufficient for all sin would allow the possibility of God’s applying that payment to those who were never capable of believing.

      Isolated and primitive tribes fall into a different “category”, and they are dependant on the Christians to take the Gospel to them. It is every Christians’ responsibility to take the Good News to those who have not heard it, so that those who will believe the Gospel when they hear it, can be saved. The Christian has that great responsibility.

      blockquote> …approximately 4 billion people on earth who will never be exposed to our “gospel” but who God knows and loves all the same.
      God loves them so much that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). God knows and loves His Creatures so much that He was prepared to give man a free solution to sin, a free passage into heaven, even after man chose to sin. If it were not for what Jesus did on the cross, not only would those 4 billion people (probably many more than that) be unsaved and lost, but ALL people would be lost to eternal damnation.

      In reality, it is not that some people have not heard about God. Rather, the problem is that they have rejected what they have heard. The problem is “there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God” (Romans 3:11).

      If we assume that those who never hear the gospel are granted mercy from God, we will run into a terrible problem. If people who never hear the gospel are saved, it is logical that we should make sure no one ever hears the gospel. The worst thing we could do would be to share the gospel with a person and have him or her reject it. If that were to happen, he or she would be condemned. People who do not hear the gospel must be condemned, or else there is no motivation for evangelism. Why run the risk of people possibly rejecting the gospel and condemning themselves when they were previously saved because they had never heard the gospel?

      Rejecting or toying with the truth about Jesus Christ is deadly, but I can’t convince you or anyone else of that. That conviction comes from God alone. I must warn you most urgently, please try to not get yourself caught up in the web of false religions which teach very clever and comfortable lies like soteriological inclusivism, ecumenism, religious pluralism and the like. They do seem to be so very modern, loving and applicable to our times, but God’s Word remains unchanged and He warned us that these false religions would test us all. As I said before, eternity is an awfully long time to be wrong. We don’t want to lose you!

      Grace and peace to you.

      • howzit Grant and thanks for your response and concern.

        I think I get what you’re saying … it seems very very familiar to me – in fact identical to what I believed in my teens and twenties … I can practically hear my voice saying the same things, making the same points. [what did bob dylan sing ?I was so much older then…? :-) ]

        I guess I’ve moved – I’d like to say “grown”- a bit since then (but Im pretty sure you wouldnt like the term “grown” in this context)

        Unlike you though I have no fear w.r.t. my eternal destination – I rest easy, trusting Him to finish the good work in me that He started … as His Word promises. have no fear! : there is no way in hell you’ll be losing me… He won’t allow that :)

        I believe that God is bigger than the Bible. I believe that you may be falling into error yourself: the error of Bibliolatry. Once again I suspect you are relying on your own understanding of the Word rather than the Living Word Himself. You seem to equate God and the Bible. I don’t think we should limit or box God into what our tiny minds can contain. Not only humility but a certain amount of Christian mysticism may very well be called for.

        To challenge your earlier paragraphs (and “categories” above which I think you are adding to the teaching of Scripture yourself rather than getting from Scripture) Hebrews 11 cites numerous people who are in heaven who didn’t know Jesus / the gospel / the means of grace / the Mechanism of Salvation (Jesus’ death and resurrection) etc yet who are definitely saved and in heaven. I’m suggesting that if God could do it for them He might very well do it for people in the Amazon or mountains of Pakistan, etc. (you get the picture Im sure)

        I also think your “category” of neonates, profoundly retarded people etc reveals your reliance (once again) on understanding / knowledge (reminds me of the ancient gnostics with their “special knowledge”… rather than on faith / trust … which is based on belief in things which cannot be seen (and therefore not understood by our very limited minds). It is a wonderful fact that we are in fact able to trust before we are able to understand. Psychologists such as Erikson have pointed out the very first phase humans go through in our infancy is the phase where we learn to trust – even before we can talk (i.e. think / understand). Of course the psalmist expressed this same sentiment (somewhere) when he said (sung) that God taught him to trust at his mother’s breast! So what you term “humanly (!!!) impossible”, “illogical” and un”biblical” might need to be revised! (It takes a real humility to realize that just because something doesn’t make sense to us – yet – doesn’t in fact mean that it is illogical or nonsensical … I struggle with this all the time … and maybe you do too?)

        I apologize that my tone is probably quite challenging in this reply … and also that I didnt point some of this out in my previous email … I was really remiss in this and in my hurry to respond.

        I am left feeling deeply appreciative of your interest and engagement with me on this. You certainly have taught me much. I hope I’ve offered something worthwhile back to you as I’ve shared my beliefs back… I’m hoping that although Ive been challenging your thinking in doing so I might be opening you up to an ever greater freedom and enjoyment and love of our wonderful Father as I have found since developing (and obviously changing) the views which I used to hold onto so tightly (and which I see echoed in your current views). I guess none of us has “arrived” and all of us have some growing (i.e. changing) to do. Let’s hope that the growth is basically in our capacity to love … because that after all is what Christian Maturity is all about.

        I think part of growing in grace means respecting other’s different views and understanding of Scripture… and being humble enough to say “well, I might be wrong … I’m not perfect yet … but I trust in One Who is … and so do you! …) In a nutshell “Sola Scriptura” NOT “Solo Scriptura” if you get what I mean?

        Much love, grace and respect and looking forward to your response when you get the time!

        Lance

        • Lance, greetings!

          I think I get what you’re saying … it seems very very familiar to me – in fact identical to what I believed in my teens and twenties … I can practically hear my voice saying the same things, making the same points. [what did bob dylan sing ?I was so much older then…? :-) ]
          I guess I’ve moved – I’d like to say “grown”- a bit since then (but Im pretty sure you wouldnt like the term “grown” in this context)

          I certainly could not dispute the fact that you must have “grown” since your younger years. We all do. The question is whether that growth has brought you closer to God or moved you further from God? If that growth and movement has been away from the truth, it is still growth, nevertheless. How could you be sure either way, if you do not measure it by the only yardstick we have, which is the Word, the Bible, which you downplay the importance of? The deception which is employed by Satan is often beyond that which we ourselves can deal with.

          What good is a tree to the farmer which has grown to span a whole orchard, but carries no fruit? What good is a humble house which has been developed into a mansion over a long time, if its foundations still rest in sand?

          It seems obvious from what you write, that the faith you had during your teens and twenties was Biblical, and growth in that faith is good, no alteration in direction was required.

          Unlike you though I have no fear w.r.t. my eternal destination – I rest easy, trusting Him to finish the good work in me that He started … as His Word promises. have no fear! : there is no way in hell you’ll be losing me… He won’t allow that :)

          Unlike me? You are most definitely unaware of my position in Christ. By the very nature of that on which my faith is based, I can not possibly harbour such fear. I would rejoice in knowing that you are eternally secure in the hands of our Lord Jesus Christ.

          I believe that God is bigger than the Bible. I believe that you may be falling into error yourself: the error of Bibliolatry. Once again I suspect you are relying on your own understanding of the Word rather than the Living Word Himself. You seem to equate God and the Bible. I don’t think we should limit or box God into what our tiny minds can contain. Not only humility but a certain amount of Christian mysticism may very well be called for.

          Typically, your misunderstanding of what constitutes bibliolatry is used as an attack on those who hold to the inerrancy, infallibility, and supremacy of Scripture. It is often employed as an inflammatory and derogatory attack on believers who hold to sola-Scriptura and a literal interpretation of the Bible. I find it very unusual that, while it is precisely my firm belief in and application of sola-Scriptura (and the four other Solas), you see that as bibliolatry and eisegesis. The accusation of bibliolatry is that some Christians elevate the Bible to the point that it is equal with God, or to the point that studying the Bible is more important than developing a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Your charge of bibliolatry is inaccurate and false.

          Believing in an inerrant, infallible, and authoritative Bible is not bibliolatry. Rather, it is simply believing what the Bible says about itself. Further, believing what the Bible says about itself is in fact worshipping the very God who breathed out His Word. Only a perfect, infallible, omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient God could create written revelation that is itself perfect and infallible. The Bible, based on what it says about itself, must be a higher authority than nature, tradition, experience (mysticism) or reason and must, in fact, be the authority against which they are judged. God would never contradict Himself by revealing something in nature, reason, or experience that disagrees with what He revealed in His Word.

          The Bible is not God. The Bible does not contain all of God’s knowledge. While the Bible gives principles that apply to every situation, it does not explicitly give us all the information we need to live our daily lives. While the Bible must be our authority, we must also use it to confirm and verify the conclusions we reach with our God-given reason and God-directed experience (see: 1 Peter 3:15). Believing what the Bible says about itself is not bibliolatry. Rather, accepting God’s Word for what it claims to be is in fact worshipping the God who wrote it.

          You need to clarify, for yourself, the difference between Bibliolatry and what constitutes true Christian faith. Your definition of error in this regard is certainly very rusty and once again you completely misread my position and therefore also the position of all Bible believing Christians. I’ll pass on the mysticism bit and stick to Christianity. God’s Word is a great anti-rust agent with an eternal guarantee.

          To challenge your earlier paragraphs (and “categories” above which I think you are adding to the teaching of Scripture yourself rather than getting from Scripture) Hebrews 11 cites numerous people who are in heaven who didn’t know Jesus / the gospel / the means of grace / the Mechanism of Salvation (Jesus’ death and resurrection) etc yet who are definitely saved and in heaven. I’m suggesting that if God could do it for them He might very well do it for people in the Amazon or mountains of Pakistan, etc. (you get the picture Im sure)

          In response to your challenge; I added no categories to the teaching of Scripture, I simply used the ones already there, which would be wrong of me to reject. Before you can make an assumption of that nature, the onus surely rests on you to provide substantiation for such a claim. Firstly you would have to deny Jesus’ role in the salvation of the Old Testament saints.

          God can certainly do all things, but He cannot lie or change the fundamentals of salvation. Jesus Christ has been the way to all salvation since before Creation. Those mentioned in Hebrews 11 certainly did not have the advantage of witness and glorious revelation the saints have had subsequent to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Those in the Old Testament relied on the words of the prophets. The saints in Hebrews 11, were saved by faith, not of themselves but by a supernatural faith. If it were not for the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, they could never have been saved and they would have slept for eternity. Christ’s sacrifice paid the penalty for the past sins of Old Testament saints and future sins of New Testament saints. See also Matthew 27:52 where many Old Testament saints were raised.

          God’s requirement of what must be believed is based on the amount of revelation He has given mankind up to that time. Fancy terminology for this biblical fact is “progressive revelation”. Throughout the Old Testament, those who had faith that God would take care of their sin, because there was no way that they could do that themselves after the fall in Genesis, were saved through Jesus.

          1. Jesus paid the price, so that Old Testament saints (Hebrews 11, etc) who believed in the coming Saviour because they believed God who spoke through the prophets, could be saved.
          2. Jesus also paid the price, so that New Testament saints (John 3:16, etc) who believe in the Saviour, because they believe God who speaks through His complete Word, can be saved.

          You say that people in those remote areas can be saved without being Christians. Since God requires faith in His Son to save all men, because He paid a higher price than any could, it seems highly unlikely. You have previously agreed that no man comes to the Father but by way of Jesus. To advocate that His sacrifice is not required in some instances, is to cheapen His ultimate sacrifice and raise the worth and importance of some souls.

          I also think your “category” of neonates, profoundly retarded people etc reveals your reliance (once again) on understanding / knowledge (reminds me of the ancient gnostics with their “special knowledge”… rather than on faith / trust … which is based on belief in things which cannot be seen (and therefore not understood by our very limited minds). It is a wonderful fact that we are in fact able to trust before we are able to understand. Psychologists such as Erikson have pointed out the very first phase humans go through in our infancy is the phase where we learn to trust – even before we can talk (i.e. think / understand). Of course the psalmist expressed this same sentiment (somewhere) when he said (sung) that God taught him to trust at his mother’s breast! So what you term “humanly (!!!) impossible”, “illogical” and un”biblical” might need to be revised! (It takes a real humility to realize that just because something doesn’t make sense to us – yet – doesn’t in fact mean that it is illogical or nonsensical … I struggle with this all the time … and maybe you do too?)

          It was the Gnostics who opposed the truth and the Scriptures by applying mysticism to their arsenal of errors. If our minds were so limited as to not understand the extent and nature of our sin, and therefore also not understand the extent and nature of the solution to that sin, our faith would be completely worthless. A faith which is based on things which cannot be seen, does not equate to a faith based on things which we cannot understand.

          Gnostics based their false beliefs on an understanding and knowledge gained from extra-biblical mystical and spiritual sources. The Gnostics opposed the Christian faith. Gnosticism is based on a mystical, intuitive, subjective, inward, emotional approach to truth which is not new at all. Quite contrary to your opinion, I must take care of the true Christian faith and Word, my sword and my shield. If I lose them I will be defenseless. Rather, your rejection of the basic doctrines of salvation and that which you partially replace them with, is mysticism and Gnosticism. You have even indicated that you have considered the emergent church as an option for yourself. The emergent church is a revival of pure Gnosticism, but with even more artificial flavourants added.

          Erikson may or may not be correct, but that is unrelated and irrelevant. What is most important is the fact that your employment of Psalm 22 (which you refer to) is incorrect. The Psalmist did not express this sentiment about man. David speaks here about Jesus Christ and how, after He was taken from the womb, He was made to trust God at his mother’s breast. Psalm 22 is a detailed account of the suffering of Jesus Christ, not that of the psalmist and certainly not the enlightenment of man.

          Some examples: verse 8 – what was said to Christ by the mocking bystanders, verse 10 – the Son in the image of His Father, verse 14 – Jesus is poured out like water, all His bones are out of joint, His heart is broken, verse 16 – His hands and feet are pierced, verse 18 – they divide Jesus’ garments and cast lots for His clothing. It is clear that it is Jesus whom God taught to trust at His mother’s breast, not man. My original point, therefore, on what is humanly impossible, illogical and certainly unbiblical stands unaffected and needs no revision. Yet.

          I apologize that my tone is probably quite challenging in this reply … and also that I didnt point some of this out in my previous email … I was really remiss in this and in my hurry to respond.

          I understand. The conversation will be quite challenging, due to the (now more obvious) differing nature of our beliefs. Similarly, and as I have said before, it is not my intention to be overly contentious, ostensibly argumentative or offensive. Truth is all that will finally matter to all men. If the truth is offensive, it stands to reason that the person offended by the truth held/holds to that which is not true.

          I am left feeling deeply appreciative of your interest and engagement with me on this. You certainly have taught me much. I hope I’ve offered something worthwhile back to you as I’ve shared my beliefs back… I’m hoping that although Ive been challenging your thinking in doing so I might be opening you up to an ever greater freedom and enjoyment and love of our wonderful Father as I have found since developing (and obviously changing) the views which I used to hold onto so tightly (and which I see echoed in your current views). I guess none of us has “arrived” and all of us have some growing (i.e. changing) to do. Let’s hope that the growth is basically in our capacity to love … because that after all is what Christian Maturity is all about.

          It has certainly been interesting and a bit of an exercise. I appreciate mostly the fact that it was done with a generous dollop of mutual respect. All too often, ardent conversations that address differences, degenerate into a mess which leaves the participants angered, hurt and frustrated. You have certainly challenged my thoughts, but I cannot share in your beliefs. There is no greater freedom or enjoyment in which I might partake, than that which is found only in the secure salvation in Jesus Christ.

          I would be negligent of the truth, if I did not point out to you that, I do not think that you developing and changing your old views has presented you with more freedom or enjoyment. Certainly, it may seem to be so to you, but it is a false worldly freedom and a very temporary enjoyment. You may be led to believe that we were created to experience an increasing freedom and enjoyment in this life on earth, but that is, for the most part, a deception. We were created for the sole purpose of glorifying God, which we failed to do. I do think that the eternally unchanging God which you held onto so tightly in your youth, is carrying you now, while you ponder a changing world view of Him.

          I think part of growing in grace means respecting other’s different views and understanding of Scripture… and being humble enough to say “well, I might be wrong … I’m not perfect yet … but I trust in One Who is … and so do you! …) In a nutshell “Sola Scriptura” NOT “Solo Scriptura” if you get what I mean?

          I have read much and written a little, on the error of solo-Scriptura. It remains one of the most misunderstood sources of confusion amongst people I meet, particularly those with good intentions. It is used as a highly effective tool by false teachers, authors and evangelists who wish to bring deceptive beliefs, false teachings and doctrines into the church. I concur that humility, respect, patience, love and understanding are wonderful virtues. Showing grace to others is admitting that we are not perfect, and a humble acknowledgement of Him that is.

          Regarding our different interpretations on the essentials, the Bible is abundantly clear. There is nothing ambiguous about the deity of Christ, the reality of heaven and hell, and salvation by grace through faith. On some issues of lesser importance, however, it seems that honest sincere Christians have a little more scope to differ. If ever we can rid our differences of man’s doctrines, church fashions and fantasy, church traditions and new embellishments, and get back to what the Bible says, we will be able to claim that we adhere to sola-Scriptura.

          That, of course, would also result in a complete change in the content of our interesting blog comments :).

          Be blessed

          Grant

  29. Lucky Lance

    Church and Crutch are probably purposefully close in there makeup. That’s kinda what community life is like for me, some days I’m the hero and others I’m been carried, I don’t find it unfortunate.

    Blessings
    MH

  30. Howzit Grant

    Must admit I’m also enjoying the tone of mutual respect and sincerity despite our differences in views!

    Either because of my lack of clear communication or your lack of clear understandign of my communication (or most likely a combo of both) I think you may have a bit of a wrong impression about my views … which might be a little closer to yours than I think you’re currently believing them to be.

    For example I don’t think you’re concerned about your OWN salvation – I thought you were concerned about mine!! :) (somehow despite trying to make it clear I’m aware of the possible ambiguity / confusion my way of expressing it might have caused. Sorry!) (It really did SEEM clear to me from your previous response that you were very concerned for me!)

    I also feel you may have misunderstood my belief in the “essentialness” of Jesus’ atoning action for all to be saved including the old testament saints (heb 11 and matt 27) … I do believe that He is the ONLY way to the Father… but I manage to somehow see Jesus as being able to save even individuals in the lost tribes of the Amazon / mountains of Afghanistan etc just as he did the OT saints — i.e. through their faith in God’s grace … irrespective of their having the benefit of knowing Jesus’ name / hearing the gospel / calling themselves Christians / or even UNDERSTANDING the whole mechanics of how God accomplished all this. (A blind faith, I guess). (a.k.a. soteriological inclusivism in my understanding of that term)

    We clearly have different understandings / definitions of the term “Bibliolatry” but I think we share a belief that God is bigger than the Bible and that the Bible should not be worshipped. We just seem to differ on what “worship” of the Bible entails. I found your argument here useful and will think about it … but don’t agree with it yet…. obviously needing time to chew on it a bit before spitting or swallowing… :)

    Also would like to point out that I did not in fact “charge” you with bibliolatry … I believe I used the tentative term “may” to imply I was wondering about the possibility thereof and wanting you to think about and talk to the point. Which you did.

    I also don’t think I downplay the importance of the Bible – as you suggest – in fact I have a very high regard for it … it is possible that my understanding of the Bible and your understanding of the Bible are not identical though. I don’t see this as a huge problem though because in time I believe (and trust) that He will lead us into all truth. (As I’m sure you do!)

    Although I liked your growth metaphor of the really big but fruitless tree … I think it best for us to admit that there is simply no realistic way you and I could judge each other on our fruits (except maybe by looking at how lovingly we correspond with each other despite differing and misunderstanding each other in these messages – which might suggest a certain level of Christian Maturity a.k.a. Love (Agape) on both our parts – but probably far too scant to be the basis of a good judgement … and anyway that is probably really God’s prerogative at the end of the day)

    What I am really rusty on is Gnosticism – but I find your comparison of the Emergents with this ancient sect interesting! I would love to hear a true Emergent take you on on that point … and then I could watch from the sidelines and make up my mind! :)

    While I am well aware of the many allusions in Ps 22 to Jesus I do differ with you on your believing that it ONLY / SOLELY refers to Jesus – I believe King David was also speaking about himself, that this was not just a Messianic text – and that this wonderful and beautiful and touching Psalm actually works on many levels. Speaking of David, speaking of Jesus and even speaking of us. I believe (as James says) that all good things come from above (the Father of heavenly lights) and that God in fact teaches all of us to trust through various God-directed experiences (your term) INCLUDING for example learning to trust our mums at the breast! To me the fact that Scripture can speak on so many dimensions is partly what makes it such an amazing text!

    I think we may actually be emphasizing different aspects of what Scripture says about itself. Currently. I tend towards verses spoken by Jesus that affect our interpretation of Scripture e.g. the whole of the Law and the Prophets hang on the Great Commands – to LOVE. You seem to me to emphasize the verses around Scripture speaking to Scripture’s innerancy. I guess just as love can be understood differently … so can “inerrancy” / “infallibility”? I think of the Bible’s power as being like that seed that goes out and will bear fruit … the fruit of love… that never fails… i.e. is victorious (infallible?) in a more practical way.

    I also value the 5 solas very highly … in fact it seems we might only really differ w.r.t. the first one … and even there less than we might think … ? I think I am a Biblical believer too and that soteriological inclusivism is in fact completely in line with the Bible as I understand them both.

    I certainly seem to still agree with you on the basics / fundamentals around grace and faith, the deity of Christ , and the reality of heaven and hell (although there again we may have different ideas about exactly what these “places” are like?)

    It has been fascinating! :)

    Have a blessed Holy Week! in fact I don’t really believe in Holy weeks! … or Holy places … or Holy books … just Holy People ;-)

    I would love to hear how clear you think Scripture is on issues such as Gay Marriage! (from an exegetical – not an eisegetical- perspective obviously!!)

    PS – w.r.t. your “categories” of neonates/profoundly retarded ppl (on the one hand) and unbelievers who have not heard the gospel since Jesus’ time on the other hand I would love to know where you find these categories in Scripture … yes I’m challenging you here, but I would also sincerely like to know (sheep/goats? wheat/chaff? ???)

    • Hi Lance

      Apologies for the delay in my response, “life” is taking a little longer than usual :) I will certainly return to this discussion as soon as I can give it deserved attention.

      But, before I rush off again, I wanted to respond to one point, and rather than my hurried attempts to explain the Scriptural position regarding the question (in your PS), which would take me much longer to put together and would probably not be as accurate as these, here are short articles by the late Ronald Nash (on unbelievers who have not heard the Gospel) and another by John MacArthur (on those unable to believe e.g. neonates, etc). Both of these articles provide Scriptures to support their viewpoints. Viewpoints which I fully share.

      It is of course possible, that you have previously read these articles. If so I apologize for repeating them. Also, Mark, apologies for placing on your blog, the work and opinion of teachers you may not necessarily agree with. If it in any way offends or is contrary to your ministry, please edit or remove that which you deem fit.

      Ronald Nash, on those who have not heard the Gospel :

      All people are accountable to God whether or not they have “heard about Him.” The Bible tells us that God has clearly revealed Himself in nature (Romans 1:20) and in the hearts of people (Ecclesiastes 3:11). The problem is that the human race is sinful; we all reject this knowledge of God and rebel against Him (Romans 1:21-23). If it were not for God’s grace, we would be given over to the sinful desires of our hearts, allowing us to discover how useless and miserable life is apart from Him. He does this for those who continually reject Him (Romans 1:24-32).

      In reality, it is not that some people have not heard about God. Rather, the problem is that they have rejected what they have heard and what is readily seen in nature. Deuteronomy 4:29proclaims, “But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.” This verse teaches an important principle—everyone who truly seeks after God will find Him. If a person truly desires to know God, God will make Himself known.

      The problem is “there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God” (Romans 3:11). People reject the knowledge of God that is present in nature and in their own hearts, and instead decide to worship a “god” of their own creation. It is foolish to debate the fairness of God sending someone to hell who never had the opportunity to hear the gospel of Christ. People are responsible to God for what God has already revealed to them. The Bible says that people reject this knowledge, and therefore God is just in condemning them to hell.

      Instead of debating the fate of those who have never heard, we, as Christians, should be doing our best to make sure they do hear. We are called to spread the gospel throughout the nations (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). We know people reject the knowledge of God revealed in nature, and that must motivate us to proclaim the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. Only by accepting God’s grace through the Lord Jesus Christ can people be saved from their sins and rescued from an eternity apart from God.

      If we assume that those who never hear the gospel are granted mercy from God, we will run into a terrible problem. If people who never hear the gospel are saved, it is logical that we should make sure no one ever hears the gospel. The worst thing we could do would be to share the gospel with a person and have him or her reject it. If that were to happen, he or she would be condemned. People who do not hear the gospel must be condemned, or else there is no motivation for evangelism. Why run the risk of people possibly rejecting the gospel and condemning themselves when they were previously saved because they had never heard the gospel?

      On what happens to babies / profoundly retarded people when they die, John MacArthur writes :

      The concept of the “age of accountability” is that children are not held accountable by God for their sins until they reach a certain age, and that if a child dies before reaching the “age of accountability,’ that child will, by the grace and mercy of God, be granted entrance into Heaven. Is the concept of an age of accountability biblical? Is there such a thing as an “age of innocence”?

      Frequently lost in the discussion regarding the age of accountability is the fact that children, no matter how young, are not “innocent” in the sense of being sinless. The Bible tells us that even if an infant or child has not committed personal sin, all people, including infants and children, are guilty before God because of inherited and imputed sin. Inherited sin is that which is passed on from our parents. In Psalm 51:5, David wrote, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” David recognized that even at conception, he was a sinner. The very sad fact that infants sometimes die demonstrates that even infants are impacted by Adam’s sin, since physical and spiritual death were the results of Adam’s original sin.

      Each person, infant or adult, stands guilty before God; each person has offended the holiness of God. The only way God can be just and at the same time declare a person righteous is for that person to have received forgiveness by faith in Christ. Christ is the only way. John 14:6 records what Jesus said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, except through Me.” Also, Peter states in Acts 4:12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Salvation is an individual choice.

      What about babies and young children who never reach the ability to make this individual choice? The age of accountability is a concept that teaches those who die before reaching the age of accountability are automatically saved, by God’s grace and mercy. The age of accountability is a belief that God saves all those who die before reaching the ability to make a decision for or against Christ. Thirteen is the most common number given for the age of accountability, based on the Jewish custom that a child becomes an adult at the age of 13. However, the Bible gives no direct support to the age of 13 always being the age of accountability. It likely varies from child to child. A child has passed the age of accountability once he or she is capable of making a faith decision for or against Christ.

      With the above in mind, also consider this: Christ’s death is presented as sufficient for all of mankind.First John 2:2 says Jesus is “the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” This verse is clear that Jesus’ death was sufficient for all sins, not just the sins of those who specifically have come to Him in faith. The fact that Christ’s death was sufficient for all sin would allow the possibility of God’s applying that payment to those who were never capable of believing.

      The one passage that seems to identify with this topic more than any other is 2 Samuel 12:21-23. The context of these verses is that King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, with a resulting pregnancy. The prophet Nathan was sent by the Lord to inform David that because of his sin, the Lord would take the child in death. David responded to this by grieving, mourning, and praying for the child. But once the child was taken, David’s mourning ended. David’s servants were surprised to hear this. They said to King David, “What is this thing that you have done? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” David’s response was, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows, the LORD may be gracious to me, that the child may live.’ But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” David’s response indicates that those who cannot believe are safe in the Lord. David said that he could go to the child, but that he could not bring the child back to him. Also, and just as important, David seemed to be comforted over this. In other words, David seemed to be saying that he would see the child (in heaven), though he could not bring him back.

      Although it is possible that God applies Christ’s payment for sin to those who cannot believe, the Bible does not specifically say that He does this. Therefore, this is a subject about which we should not be adamant or dogmatic. God’s applying Christ’s death to those who cannot believe would seem consistent with His love and mercy. It is our position that God applies Christ’s payment for sin to young children and those who are mentally handicapped, since they were not mentally capable of understanding their sinful state and their need for the Savior, but again we cannot be dogmatic. Of this we are certain: God is loving, holy, merciful, just, and gracious. Whatever He does is always right and good.

      Gay Marriage??!!! Later.

      Much Grace to you!

    • Hi Lance

      Just quickly, and in response to the Gay Marriage question; I received this poignant piece in my inbox this morning. I had to pass it on as relevant to the immensely destructive issue of tolerance toward the sin of unbelief, which of course encompasses the acceptance of homosexual practices.

      This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despiser of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; (2 Timothy 3:1-3)

      Last Friday, (which happened to be good Friday), I believe the world had one of those “wisdom cries out in the streets “moments. By that I mean one of those times when something happens publicly which has implications for all of us, but can only be discerned by those “who have ears to hear”.

      At a McDonalds in Baltimore, Maryland, a sickening film of a vicious assault was posted on YouTube by one of several McDonalds employees who stood around and gleefully watched what appeared to be a young girl beaten almost to death by two inner city females.

      This story is so bizarre one doesn’t know where to begin an analysis, but Wisdom is indeed crying out through it, so here is a breakdown of some of the issues raised by it ;

      * Brutal violence – Two teenaged girls pummeling with kicks and fists what appeared to be a young girl was hard enough to witness. But after leaving her in a passive heap on the floor, they returned three or four more times, taking the trouble get in more vicious kicks and punches.

      The teen-aged sociopaths were only challenged by one person, a heroic older lady, who tried to intervene as they were dragging “her” by the hair through the restaurant towards the door to the parking lot. The good Samaritan was punched and cursed at by the assailants for her efforts. Several able-bodied men were present, who did nothing but laugh.

      The police have arrested the 18-year-old who led the assault. Lo and Behold this is the second known assault at that very McDonalds by this vicious criminal. Last July a 38-year-old mother with two teenaged daughters had the misfortune of encountering her as she left the same McDonalds.

      The miscreant threw a punch at the mother, accusing her of calling her “ugly”, then attacked one of her daughters, while the mother fearfully dialed 9-11!

      Welcome to our godless, brutal, post abortion society, brought to us by those who would destroy the once Judeo Christian foundation we once took for granted. Once we accepted the violence of abortion, how could we avoid mindless violence as commonplace?

      As in the days of Noah, so shall the coming of the Son of man be…

      * Perversion – I told you this was a bizarre one…It turns out that the “young woman” was instead an extremely troubled young man, a transgendered victim of our godless merging of atheism, technology, and Sodomite ideology.

      Of course this fact doesn’t make it right to beat the obviously troubled young man almost to death. He is still a human being, worthy of protection. After all, from the beginning of the assault, he offered no resistance.

      Who failed this young man? How does one end up so convoluted and distorted that in his early twenties he renounced his God given gender and submitted to an operation that castrated him?

      Thank you brave new educational world! Your “sex education” teachings that in many districts starts as early as kindergarten, have gone far beyond the fake “tolerance” and “acceptance” of every form of degeneration known to man, that you once called for. You now cause youngsters to question their sexual orientation before they even enter into puberty, you debauch them, indoctrinating them into sodomite propaganda.

      This perverted troubled, haunted, confused and abused young man is one of your trophies. This evil generation should remember something someone once said about millstones and bodies of water.

  31. Hi Grant

    Thanks for the interesting reading! As you surmised I am aware of the Nash and Macarthur ideas above – but it is always good to reaquaint myself with these arguments and explanations. I don’t really find my current beliefs clash with those expressed by these renowned brothers of ours too much.

    I must admit to not finding your last contribution by an unknown author (you never mentioned the author) as far less helpful. In fact I found it very unpleasant – some might even describe it as thinly veiled hate speech. I also found it showing a stark ignorance of issues of gender identity and sexual orientation and a conflating and equating of these two very distinctive concepts.

    I think it is important to speak the truth (as we see it) in love. And to me the ignorance of the latter author really smacks of a deep-seated personal dislike for “gay” issues rather than a genuine love and comprehensive understanding of the terms. His/her “interpretation” of the event really seems to me to be self-serving and almost akin to eisegesis (with the object being an event rather than Scripture).

    Of course the Bible doesn’t purport to be a psychiatric or medical manual anymore than it purports to be a history textbook, a diet handbook or a popular magazine – so maybe this is an area where if we are ignorant (a) we admit that and (b) we humbly comply with Macarthur’s suggestion that we are not too “adamant or dogmatic” (I really thought this was his most useful point!)

    I happen to know quite a bit about sexual orientation and gender issues – so I think when I call the author ignorant I do so with some authority and knowledge.

    I actually wonder if an underlying “issue” that might be useful for us to focus on in order to move this discussion on though is about our understanding of Scripture. Our human, limited, fallible UNDERSTANDING of Scripture. After all we know that equally sincere and mature Christians sometimes understand 1 piece of Scripture in quite contrasting ways. Peter himself (speaking of Paul’s writings) mentions that some parts of Scripture are difficult to understand and can be misunderstood. And we have examples of Scripture being twisted to ill-effect in Scripture itself: as with Satan’s quoting of Scripture when tempting Jesus.

    Scripture itself mentions that it is the Holy Spirit (not Scripture itself) that will lead us into all truth.

    I differ with you in one significant area I think: I don’t think that “Truth” (understanding / beliefs / knowledge) is the most important thing at the end of the day. I think that faith, hope and love are the most important. Especially love. And all three of these concepts actually surpass rational and logical understanding! But that His love is sufficient… to save us, to sanctify us.

    Don’t get me wrong: I think understanding is great! and important! and the raison d’etre for evangelism in my opinion…. but I do not think that salvation DEPENDS on us at all. Just like I believe WE are saved by Grace entirely so I believe that OTHERS are saved by God’s Grace entirely. From beginning to end. He can use people. He can use donkeys! But He is not limited to either. (As you pointed out Nature and human hearts can also enable people to experience God). So I guess I do disagree with Macarthur re the whole “terrible dilemma” of witnessing if we believe that people can be saved without hearing the gospel. I think the gospel is fantastic and we truly are blessed to have it but I don’t believe that it is necessary for a human to understand (babies/retarded people) or even hear (OT saints, unreached people groups/individuals) that gospel. Jesus blood alone is sufficient – through His Grace to bring individuals to Faith in God (even without understanding or realizing that they are in fact trusting in Him!). I think not to believe this creates a worse “terrible dilemma” – that of trying to explain how an omnipotent God can allow billions to go to hell … and still be Love! That is not how I understand Love. There is nothing fair, gentle, kind, patient, peaceful, joyful, good, faithful, keeping no record of wrongs, always protecting, always trusting, always hoping, always persevering in that. And that is how I have come to know (yadah!) my God.

    • Hi Lance

      On MacArthur and Nash you said:

      I don’t really find my current beliefs clash with those expressed by these renowned brothers of ours too much.

      If you accept the truth in God’s Word, you should realize that your current beliefs are in contrast with the teaching of these men. There may be certain areas or portions of their work with which you are in agreement, but the Truth and the Gospel they preach is not the same as that which you are currently prepared to fully accept. For you to claim otherwise, or for me to agree with such a claim, would be dishonest and not the whole truth. I will substantiate:

      The last contribution, and my apologies for not mentioning the author, is from the blog of Pastor Bill Randles of Believers in Grace Ministries (USA). I found the content of the article to be of far greater relevance and my time was at a premium. I fail to understand why you would regard it as being unpleasant, unless for some strange reason you approve of the sad incident and rotten state it describes. The article is certainly no veiled attempt at hate speech, as it quite clearly, openly and correctly addresses the problem of sin and its results, from a loving Christian perspective. The only perceptible hatred, if one could term it that, is in that it voices a just hatred for the sin; but also a sincere love and compassion for the sinner and the victims of sin.

      I do not assume to speak for him, but I guess that Pastor Bill Randles does not have the same understanding of gender issues and sexual orientation that you do. I furthermore doubt very much whether it should be expected of him, or any other Bible teacher or sincere Christian, for that matter. What is expected of him, and what he most certainly does here, is that he delivers a clear warning in keeping with Scripture as all Christians should do, after all he is a pastor, not a psychiatrist or medical therapist.

      I happen to know quite a bit about sexual orientation and gender issues – so I think when I call the author ignorant I do so with some authority and knowledge.

      I’m sure your psychological studies in those matters have been extensive, however, that does not qualify or authorize your opinion on matters of this nature from a Biblical perspective. The author, that is Bill Randles on the other hand, happens to know quite a bit about the Scriptures and is qualified to give a hermeneutical perspective with the necessary authority and knowledge. As you have mentioned, the Bible is not a medical handbook, but it is the only comprehensive and authoritative list of God’s moral instructions at our disposal.

      I think it is important to speak the truth (as we see it) in love.

      There is only one Truth for all. No matter how passionately we like to believe, or how vehemently we protest that there exists a different truth for each one of us according to the way we see it or according to our personal perceptions, we cannot adapt the Word of God to accommodate our likes, dislikes or conception. The Bible is not a hypothesis or provisional conjecture which we can mould or adapt to fit societal or cultural advances or moral deterioration.

      We either conform with the Truth in His Word, or we reject it; the Bible advises that you not be deceived into believing the popular post-modern idea that it is negotiable. Read the book of Jude again.

      The world will, for obvious reasons, make attractive the false belief that it has developed and advanced beyond the old biblical depiction of sin. The degenerate world, in an attempt to sooth its conscience, will suggest that, what has become socially acceptable can therefore no longer be regarded as sin. The false church and ecumenical world appeals to human reason, in a very successful attempt to make an emergent, evolutionary form of the truth seem loving. The worldly church preaches that tolerance above all is preferential to the truth, because the truth is offensive to the sinner.

      Adolf Hitler was deceived enough to believe that his version of the truth, as he saw it, was correct. He felt it justified by proclaiming it to be “in love” for his followers. Osama Bin Laden speaks his version of the truth, as he sees it, “in love” for the murderous god of Islam. Neither of these examples are representative of the Truth and Love spoken of in Scripture. The truth is that God does not mildly dislike sin, God hates sin. In fact, God hates sin enough, and loves the righteous enough, to impose the death penalty on those who persist in unrepentant sin and rejection of the Truth.

      1Jn 1:6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

      1Jn 1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

      1Jn 2:4-6 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:
      6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

      Our human, limited, fallible UNDERSTANDING of Scripture.

      That is a condition which is remedied in the believer by the Holy Spirit, Who enables us to understand the Scripture. If it were not so, how would we come to know the Truth? Would God expect of believers to remain in partial darkness and ignorance of the fullness of the Word which He gave to us in a complete form? The Apostles were ordinary men, but by the Holy Spirit they were enabled to understand Scripture, as are all believers chosen and saved by the Grace of God.

      Understanding the Bible is a challenging and difficult task, but with God’s help, it is possible. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, God’s Spirit indwells you as in Romans 8:9. The God who gave us Scripture (2 Tim 3:16,17) is the same God who indwells the believer and will bring us to an understanding of His Word if we rely on Him. It would be simply farcical for God to desire of us to seek Him and to search His Word by fully exploring it, if we were to be permanently limited and denied enlightenment by only our own understanding.

      In Acts 8:30, Philip was traveling to Gaza, and the Holy Spirit led him to a man who was reading a portion of Isaiah. Philip approached the man, saw what he was reading, and asked this very important question: “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip knew that understanding was the starting point for faith. Without understanding the Bible, we cannot apply it, obey it, or believe it.

      I differ with you in one significant area I think: I don’t think that “Truth” (understanding / beliefs / knowledge) is the most important thing at the end of the day. ……………… but I do not think that salvation DEPENDS on us at all

      I do not think that understanding / beliefs / knowledge surpasses the importance of love. Let us be clear that, if I were to hold that position, it would be disobedient to the greatest commandment of our Lord. That commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind . Naturally this includes that we love God’s Word (Jesus) and the Truth (Jesus). This command also explicitly tells us that we should employ our mind (understanding) in how we love God. We use our regenerate mind to understand God’s Word.

      The second commandment flows out of the first, that is to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. If we do not have a right relationship with God, our relationships with others will not be right either, and quite frankly, those relationships would be false and empty. If we do not love God in the way He commands, we will not have an understanding of God, as that understanding is resultant from our salvation by way of His Grace and simultaneously according to our instructions in the Word. Love therefore leads to understanding, knowledge, correct belief, confidence, at the end of the day. Love and understanding are synonymous and inseparable.

      The Bible declares that it is faith that saves us, not understanding. But genuine faith will result in more and more understanding of God’s Word as we grow in Christ because the Author of Scripture—the Holy Spirit—dwells in our hearts, and He will lead us into all truth (John 16:13).

      (As you pointed out Nature and human hearts can also enable people to experience God).

      These things can and do enable people to experience God, or to become aware of Him. However, that experience and awareness cannot save those people, salvation by Grace is only through accepting Jesus by way of hearing the Gospel. We are entirely spiritually paralyzed by sin, therefore without accepting Jesus and by Grace the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we are like paralyzed men on the tracks (Romans 3:11), we can see the approaching locomotive, but without Jesus we are unable to move out of its way.

      God has made it simple to understand how we are saved. When asked what needed to be done in order to be saved, Paul and Silas made it very clear: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved – you and your household” (Acts 16:31). In John 6: 28,29 Jesus was asked, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” to which Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent.” Jesus also said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25).

      …(even without understanding or realizing that they are in fact trusting in Him

      That is not biblical, it seems rather to be a fantastical heresy. Not only does it eliminate God’s Word and Jesus’ atonement, but it makes a joke of the greatest and the second commandments.

      …that of trying to explain how an omnipotent God can allow billions to go to hell … and still be Love!

      We do not have to try to explain how an omnipotent God can allow billions to go to hell… and still be Love. The reality of hell is not a contradiction, but rather its very existence glorifies God. God explains that to us clearly in His Word. If you do not, or will not realize the severity of sin, then you can not equate a loving God with the punishment for the one thing He will not accept.

      Billions go to hell because God keeps His Word which shows His infinite worth, and His power to subdue all who rebel against Him. Billions go to hell because they do not accept that God is merciful to those who trust Him and because sending unbelievers to hell upholds the reality of love by punishing those who reject God, Who is love. Billions go to hell because it vindicates all who suffered to hear or proclaim the Truth of God’s Word.

      Most clearly, billions go to hell because it shows the enormity of what Jesus accomplished when he died to save all who would trust Him, from the hell they deserved. If they were not to be sent to hell, there would be no need for the Cross.

      There is nothing fair, gentle, kind, patient, peaceful, joyful, good, faithful, keeping no record of wrongs, always protecting, always trusting, always hoping, always persevering in that.

      The fact that God sends billions of unbelieving and unrepentant sinners to hell is perfect proof of why God is faithful to do only good according to His Word, for all of the reasons you mention in your above comment. In simplistic terms, what could be fair about sacrificing your sinless and only son to save those who are undeserving (in order that they may be saved through His death), just to allow all those who shun Him or who do not come to know Him, free entrance to heaven, anyway? That would make God’s Word into a lie and glorify a liar. That has reduced me to tears. In all honesty, how could your thinking, which is contrary to the Scriptures, glorify a Holy God?

      To deny that an omnipotent and all loving God would rightfully send billions to hell, those who do not come to know a sinless Jesus who paid a higher price than anyone could, is also to deny the existence of that same omnipotent, omniscient, Sovereign and all loving God.

      (1Jn 3:16) By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (Brothers being those who do the Will of the Father, not their own version thereof, see in Matthew 12)

      (1Jn 3:18) Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

  32. (I just need to clarify that the “billions” I am referring to above are only those who have not had a fair chance to hear the gospel – not those who have refused God’s grace and salvation via the gospel / Nature etc. etc…. the latter group I do believe will end up there.)

  33. Lucky Lance.

    From your site I remember you from the photo. We met at Greg and Cheryl’s engagement party a few years ago in PE. We were Looking at the Latin Bible on my cellphone at the time, if you recall? Haha small world.

    On Gay Marriage:

    Interacted a bit with a good fella John [Sacredise] and reflected and prayed much on the issue at the time. After it all I put this little tale together that I thought you may enjoy:

    Blessings
    MH

  34. Hello Mark

    With the “new look” we have , there is a page called links we would like with your permission to put a link Mark Penrith there :-) or would you prefer Because He Lives ? Please let me know.

    Blessings in His name.

    Elmarie

  35. Hey there,

    Anything I write on this blog is made public under a creative commons license: Fee to Share and to Remix so long as people adhere to Attribution.

    That said, I’m getting to know and trust you guys; as long as your heart is for the Kingdom you can use whatever you like however you like to His glory.

    In Christ,

    Mark

    • Morning Mark

      You may want to have a peep and let me know should you want me to change anything :-)

      God bless
      Elmarie

  36. Hey Mark,

    If you find the time is it possible to change the link to my blog here to http://www.ryanpeterwrites.com? The link is still pointing to my old WordPress blog which is no longer active :)

    To classify, I guess you could mark me for the middle of Calvinism and Arminianism. I actually subscribe to what some call the ‘partaker’ view – I’m a predestinarian and believe in once-saved-always saved. The warnings in the Bible, I believe, pertain to a loss of reward / inheritance, not a loss of salvation.

    However, I have some open theist leanings. Go figure that out. But I’m not an Arminian, I’m probably more Calvinist.

    As to liberal / conservative, again I’m probably in the middle. I have conservative views on many things and liberal views on some things. For example, I subscribe to inclusivism (not universalism. Inclusivism means, as far as I understand, that not all who don’t know Christ will go to hell). As to hell, I’m an annihiliationist – not a universalist, not a eternal-tormentorist.

    So you can see I’m a mixed bag. But I’m not terribly dogmatic so classifying me can be a bit of trouble I think. And I’m always studying and seeing if I should change my mind. At any rate, I decided maybe not to be so incognito as there’s no fun in that. :P

    As to NCT or Dispensationalist, I still have no idea. I may be more dispensationalist as I’m largely reformed. I need to put a marker on that sometime though.

    As to eschatology, I can tell you I’m not pre-millenial. I tend to hover between post-millenialism or amillenialism.

    I’m not a ‘charismatic’ or a pentecostal although I believe the charismatic gifts are still active today and I occasionally pray in tongues, prophesy etc. I guess that’s fairly common these days. But my understanding of the gifts is much less in the vein of pentecostalism (I practice the gifts in a very un-charismatic way, if that makes sense).

    Ok, well feel free to ask questions if you’d like :) Hope that helps with classifying!

    – Ryan

  37. Let me join the milieu and ask how to join the list.

    A few college friends and I have started blogging. Obviously we don’t all have the same views so I guess we’re non-denominational but we’re all calvinists and I think we’re probably conservative with slight liberal leanings and convenantal or nct.

    I think your distinction between liberal and conservative is lacking. What would you do with framework hypothesis on creation? Also inspiration and inerrancy are being redefined on the liberal side. Historicity in the Old Testament especially seems to be another marker that is rising.

    I just found this page and I’m delighted to see how many Christian bloggers there are in SA!

    • Hey there James, I haven’t had the opportunity to update the blogroll for about a year. Just seem far too busy. I’ll get around to it soon I guess. There must be about 50 more blogs that I’m subscribed to that are active which deserve a place on the list. Thanks for dropping by.

  38. Pingback: SA Blog Awards and SA blogging « A vow of conversation

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