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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I'm taking a deep breath first...

And now I'm letting it out.

Obviously, when I wrote my last few blogs, I was prepared for the responses. I've heard there has been much said lately. And I say: high five! Glad to hear I make you think.

Two things: 1, I've never said I am some super-theologian writing his newest exegesis on systematic theology--I say I am me expressing my opinion; 2, if you don't like my opinion, I don't care.

I'm not saying I'm 100% correct. I don't think anyone is 100% correct. I'm saying that "this or that" is what I think, what I believe, how I feel. Take it or leave it--it is what it is. And I'm not asking you to agree. I'm not saying: "Follow me! I've got it all figured out!"

So feel free to disagree. Please! I encourage thinking, asking questions, doubting... they are some of the best things for one's spiritual growth. But don't waste my time and blog comment-area space by writing some long dissertation on the opposing view point. And please, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, stop putting words in my mouth.

I'm not big on labels, but I am Arminian. I stand on the opposite side of the fence from Reformed or Calvinist doctrine. True. However, that does not mean I don't believe that God is sovereign above all else. I believe he is. I don't believe my Biblical view points contradict that. No matter how you feel, this is how I feel.

I believe that God initiates salvation. SHOCK! Yes, I do. I believe in prevenient grace. A better phrasing would be preceding grace. In other words, when Romans and Hebrews say that Jesus died once for all, it means it. Contrary to what Reformed doctrine says (that this means he died for the elect) it clearly says he died for all. Therefore, following along with the rest of the New Testament (SHOCK again! I read my Bible) grace is OFFERED to all. Jesus offers grace to all. Therefore he has started the process. We choose to respond or not.

I do believe that God is in control! SHOCK! But just because he's in control doesn't mean he causes everything to happen. I can't look at the world and say that its this way because he desires it to be. That's not the God I see in Christian Scriptures. I don't see a God who creates a bunch of human robots--controlling their every move and decision and so on and so on. I see a God who creates and gives that creation the choice. What's more glorifying to God? A robot that praises him or a human that chooses to praise him?

And I agree with those who say: there's some mystery to this. Sure. Certain concepts and ideas and parts of Scripture simply cannot be fully explained. I don't think that rules out us being free to discuss it.

So discuss away, I say! Let's talk about it. We don't have to agree. I'm sure we all won't. We're humans. That's kinda the beauty of it all: we won't really know it all here on this earth in this life.

But don't put words in my mouth. Don't think I'm going off the deep end. I'm just trying to honestly pursue Jesus and what he has for his church. That looks different for everyone, and that's okay. I'm just trying to be who Christ has made me to be. I make no apologies for that. And as always, I encourage you all to do the same. Holler back...

11 comments:

jacobblair said...

JDR,

As I'm sure you've noticed, I'm a very long-winded guy. And as we talked last night I think we can both agree that "perfect" doctrine will forever be out of reach because we are: human, flawed and temporary. As the Psalmist beautifully puts it in 39:5 "Each man's life is but a breath." Or as Kansas puts it, "All we are is dust in the wind." (I think Kansas read the Bible, but that's just me.)

But as I heard responses from another I think I was misunderstood with my postmodern comment; I was not accusing you of being postmodern, but I think when our opinion overrides Scripture we are in danger of that and I'm sure you can agree, just look at our American culture. And I'm not saying you don't read Scripture, (shoot, you probably know alot more than me) because there are many passages that would make one understand where the Armenian viewpoint comes from, (believe me, my dad and I have had an ongoing 8-month long debate over the topic. I love every minute of it because it means we're both reading Scripture; not to duke it out but to merely catch a glimpse of the unveiled beauty of God).

Also, as I write this, I thought about calling you up or e-mailing you, but I wanted it to make it clear with the public that you and I are not here to spar it out. Let us love. When we rebuke, as the Bible commands us to do, let it be from love. My favorite verse in the New Testament is 1 John 4:16, "God is love." It's written as fact. It does not read "God is alot like love" or "sorta like love." No. Its fact. God is love.

My goal was never to wound you or the people who read this but as 2 Timothy 3:16 reads, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." My objective was to correct and rebuke. Now again, I don't know it all and I never will. All I know is what the Scriptures says and commands. Paul makes a really tough command in that Scripture, I want to ask "But Paul, how can we rebuke if we are only man?" But that's just it, we can't let our carnal minds override God-breathed Scripture.

As Galatians 1:9 says, if I preach a gospel that is not in accordance with Scripture may I be eternally condemned! And if I say anything that rocks the boat again, please rebuke me with Scipture. I am striving to better myself each day by God's grace and it would mean so much if you did. Last time I was rebuked with Scripture I hugged the guy and thanked him for caring for me so much.

And as always I will be here ready to discuss.

From one brother to another,
jacob

Sheffield said...

I like blogs and cold pizza.

Sheffield said...

JD I got my blog back up but the url is different it's mattsheffield.blogspot.com

Pharris said...

I am writing you this response not to argue you but to try to clarify for me what you are saying. I apologize now for the length and i hope i do not sound brash. From one brother to another i hope through love for one another, spoken about in Ephesians 3 and 4 that i dislay not a heart of anger but hope through Christ that we may gain unity and maturity through this discussion. I thank you for the time of reading this.

What then is making things happen if not God? I agree that not all is as it is desired to be but did not the Lord we love so much curse the land we live in, in Genesis? If the Lord is sovereign then what does he not have control over. Mark Driscoll just finished a series on Ruth which speaks of the Providence of God and how it is evident in that book but it does not say God was not there, allowing things just to fall into place. I will stretch to say that you believe that God has a plan for us. If you disagree i apologize now for my assumptions. Him being sovereign and omnipotent he is all powerful and all knowing. So he knows our choices that we have and will make. I am glad to know that you believe that God initiates salvation. In romans six Paul is end speaking on if we should to continue sinning so that grace may abound. Paul says no we should not because now we know what is righteous of us to do. Paul says this because he says we were saved from being slaves of sin. With out choice we were slave to commit sin before the Lord revealed himself to us. Then once this revaluation is given to us we now understand the difference between unrighteous and righteous. Right and wrong simply put. I am taking this paraphrase from the ESV. i am most likely not doing the word its justice. I apologize for that. So my question is, if Paul continually says about sin that we were once captives now set free, slaves, or any other metaphor that implies our lack of choice before the Lord shows himself to us and then our ability to choose sin or following the Lord, does not the Lord know what we will choose? Since the Lord is sovereign he knows those that will accept him and reject him right? Because he knows this i wonder how painful it must be for such a lovering God who only wants to love us to continue to create creatures that will reject him. I hope one day to be a father but i can not imagine how it would feel if my children hated me. I think it is worse for our Glorious father. It pains me to try to grasp the reasons for this. but when i read in Ephesians 3. Again a paraphrase, i apologize. Paul is speaking of the mystery of God that has been revealed to him from the Lord. That mystery was previously stated that it was unity for all people "saints" gentiles, and Jews the same through faith in Christ. That all are the same heirs of the promise spoken about in the Old testament. He concludes chapter three saying that he was given this message to teach to others that the reason the mystery happened was that the manifold wisdom of God made be know in all the heavens. Reading through the beauty of the words you see that Christ died so that all of his creation may know the he is GOD. The Lord acts and moves and allows all things so that all of his creation may know that he is GOD. He saves us for his glory, he creates, loves, hates, is jealous, and punishes all for his Glory. I agree with you that he does not want robots to praise him but he does want active believers who love him. Until we know what is right and wrong, what is spoken about in Romans 6, i say we are slaves, robots as you say, to sin, but the Lord initiates and then we know the difference, then we can choose. Please forgive me if i sounded argumentative in any of this. It is not meant to be that way. I have only read your words and i hope you read mine. Thank you for the time you have spent reading this. Please respond on your blog, i will return. If you will, please give scripture with what you say that i may look also is my bible and see what the Lord has been showing you.

Anonymous said...

Granted, I’m no theologian, nor am I an avid church-goer, but if history has proven anything on any subject, it is that religion is fallible so long as man is responsible for its practice and influx into society. I’m not calling Christianity a false religion, I was raised Christian and still believe many of its core tenets, but I cannot (or will not, if you prefer me use another verb) accept that the Scriptures are the unedited word of God. To think that the Bible has not been grossly corrupted over two millennia is absurd.

It is quite reasonable to think that many scriptures seem to contradict one another largely due to the politics of the times they were recorded (or translated, or interpreted). To rebuke someone for having beliefs that aren’t exactly in line with one’s own is condescending and judgmental, which is contradictory to the premise that only God can judge and to the notion that God gave man free will for a reason.

I conjecture, is it not possible that the whole concept of rebuking fellow Christians was inserted into the Bible by the same [fallible] people who picked and chose which Gospels could (or should) be used to tell Christ’s story? To call anyone wrong for their beliefs is insulting because no man knows what corruptions have made it into the Scripture. I view “rebuking” as naught more than a power play, something that was, and is, used to consolidate church power, whether it be by the mighty Catholic church (via excommunication) or Protestant practitioners (via said rebuking or disassociations or what have you).

Too many people try to “encourage spiritual growth” with no intention of accepting the fact that spirituality is a personal thing.

Anonymous said...

"Please! I encourage thinking, asking questions, doubting... they are some of the best things for one's spiritual growth."
-John David Ryan

"But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will recive anything from the Lord; he is a double minded man, unstable in all his ways."
-James 1:6-8

"The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."
-1 Timothy 1:5

Be carefull what you preach, my friend.

In Christ,

John Perry

Brittany said...

I think everyone just needs to leave you alone. But, I am your wife and I am always going to say that.

With that understood, there are a few things that I want to address and because I do not want the whole world to know everything I am thinking on a daily basis (by having my own blog), I will just comment on your blog and not have to deal with people wasting their breaths trying to argue with me. Because, believe me, sweetie...you do not want everyone to know what I really think.

Unlike people who have only been Christians for a short time, I have called myself a "Christian" (wrong or right) since I was seven years old. However, I have realized that I really began my journey with Christ about my seventh grade year...He has taught me a lot about what it means to be a true Christ-follower. In that time, I have learned that some of the times I have grown closest to Him is when I have DOUBTED things the most...that is when faith is required. I do not believe any true Christian (or Christ-follower, label it what you will) would have the gall to say they have never doubted anything about the Christian faith, and, because of it, the doubting caused a great increase in love in and a closer relationship with our Lord Jesus.

In response to what someone who does not know you at all put in response to your blog about asking you to use scripture...My question is why? It seems to me that every person set out to argue with you and make you seem like a complete idiot (which I know you are far from) has done a wonderful job at finding the "precise scripture that demonstrates what they are trying to say." I guess they never learned that scripture can be twisted. However, they have proven that true, indeed. If any of you reading this has ever taken Dr. Trafton's New Testament class, you know that Scripture cannot be taken out of context...but you're probably smarter than him, right?

Instead, you told me the other night that you are not using scripture because you are just airing your opinion on your personal blog and not forcing anyone to believe the same way you do. You are using Scripture as a whole...Believe me, you guys who do not know my husband at all, that he CAN provide scripture to back up what he is saying...but maybe if you knew him at all, you would know that...or maybe if you took the time to talk to him before accosting him on his blog, you would get a chance to talk to him.

You know what saddens me the most is the people who do not consider themselves Christ-followers that are reading all of the ugly responses we have towards one another. What about them? Aren't we called to love one another and share what we know instead of merely boasting of ourselves in how much Scripture we know and who is more doctrinally sound--an Arminian or a Calvanist?

My biggest question is: was Jesus, when he was on this earth, concerned with all the doctrinal "stuff?" As I recall from the Gospels, he was more concerned about reaching out to others and helping people where they were instead of worrying about who is right and who is wrong. One of you even said so yourself...you and John David will both be in heaven together...why do you all keep condemning him if you believe he is still a Christian? Just stop.

John David, you know I support you in everything that you do...you know I have been here in the past eight months while our whole lives have been turned upside-down. I am just so SICK of people talking about you behind your back (which everyone probably doesn't know we know about) and acting as if we are completely crazy. I have stood by you silent long enough. I am so tired of it. Is anyone talking about us behind our backs and acting all self-righteous on a computer bringing Christ any glory??? I think NOT!! Instead, I think He is weeping because there are so many out there who are so lost and think they are found. So many out there that think they are so right but really are so wrong. At the end of the day, is Christ being glorified???? If anyone answers yes...that's a real reason for me to doubt all this...

See...I told you that you did not want me to have a blog.

I love you with all my heart. But, more importantly, I love Christ and the plan He has for us.

There...I am done...

jacobblair said...

Dear anonymous who believes Scripture is contradictory,

I implore you to read the following Scriptures (I pray in context):
1 Timothy 1:3, 1 Timothy 6:3, 1 Timothy 3:16, Titus 1:9, Titus 2:1, Leviticus 19:17, Revelation 3:19

May I ask what verses you find contradictory? I'd love to discuss it with you.

Here's a philosophical idea I heard from Dr. Ravi Zacharias when approaching postmodern theology.

Lets say you are given 3 statements that read:
1) All statements are true
2) All statements are false
3) Some statements are true some statements are false.

If you accept the illogical statement 1, that means that statement 2 would be correct by default, cancelling out both statments.

If you accept statement 2, you in turn, refute statement 2 because it is considered false as well.

The only logical conclusion therefore is statement 3. There is truth and there is falsehood.

The name escapes me, but a philosophical doctor defined culture as an attempt to find coherence in an ever changing world. And as we see today, postmodern doctrine is trying to find coherence in relation to the world around them. Yet Romans 12:2 reads "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world."

CS Lewis wrote that his constant longings that always remained unsatisfied, his search for his idea of personal truth left him hopeless and therefore concluded: perhaps we were not made for this world.

Anonymous said...

I weep. I grow confused and distant. I feel that Christ follower is a unreachable task in a nation so caught up in greed, pride, and hate. I look at Christ so loving and full of hope. He did not care about theology. The Pharisees did. Instead he loved people that many considered unlovable. Christ loved the sinful imperfect beings. Those people are us. Oh how I long to see brothers and sisters in Christ casting aside their differences. Those of you who continue to use sccripture as a way to win an argument. What was your goal? I will say this that you lost. No one can win. We are all towards one goal. If we argue with each other it makes no sense. Both are eyes should be pointing to the cross. Are lives should be wiped clean by Christ's scandelous grace. My hope and prayer is that another world is possible. When Christians love. Something that sounds so simple.
Love,
Your brother
P.S. (My scripture references are the whole Bible. Though I have not memorized it. I believe that the Bible does a good job at pointing to Christ. If I am supposed to be more specific I was using a lot of what I learned from the gospels (Matt.- John).)

Anonymous said...

jacobblair,

I have no intention of discussing theology with you. I don't claim to study it, and you obviously do.

I never intended to choose one verse and contrast it with another, I find no need to. Apparently, you missed my point: religion is fallible. There have been countless opportunities over the course of thousands of years to play the telephone game with the Scriptures. I don't doubt their basic content, I'm just not so sure how accurate they are contextually (if they're still in the context for which they were intended). People do things out of self-interest. People sin. People are selfish.

Don't label me anything, I'm not "postmodern" or whatever it is you're railing against. I'm just a good guy with a good, logical head on his shoulders who gets a little hot and bothered by high and mighty youngsters spouting off their personal truths as the only truths, bashing what may be true for another.

I'm not saying you're wrong. I'm just saying you're not right.

jacobblair said...

Dear anonymous,

"The Case for Christ" answers many of your questions and words it much better than I ever will.

-jacobblair