Monday, August 09, 2010

Things That Are Different Can't Be the Same

It is not at all difficult to see how this is incompatible with this.

46 comments:

Joel said...

It's an interesting conjecture. At Central they have bait and switch soteriology teachers---or have had and have been open to that teaching, much to the consternation of some students! At least four of those guys in the picture from Faith have taught at Central as adjuncts or visitors. I doubt they're really all that Lounie.

Wonder how bait and switch soteriology is faring in the world with all the pleasant associations from Halleloujah land.

David Stertz said...

Joel,

Could you explain what you mean by "bait and switch?" Is that comment made in light of Central having guys in from FBTS or is it among the teachers at Central themselves?

Ben,

I appreciate you digging up the article from FBTS. Do you think that the Lordship issue is a crux issue now between Faith and Central since the Faith article is over 20 years old? Those ethos statements said a lot of things on which Central and Faith would probably agree. I have little knowledge of Faith so I am wondering if you know that the Lordship issue is still strong there?

Joel said...

Bait and switch soteriology is what I call the notion that people get saved and afterward find out that the one who saved them is actually none other than the Lord, and that, moreover, he expects them to surrender every corner of their heart--bit by bit if necessary, but whole and entire if possible--so they can grow. In other words, the position that takes shots at Lordship salvation.

It's taught at Central by some, or was . . . I've been gone for a while. I had a few teachers that taught it. I also remember that told one that he didn't really understand people who teach Lordship salvation in a moment of academic freedom (they don't; it isn't a doctrine they hold to, its an obsession, otherwise they'd realize they're battling over semantics. Nobody is teaching salvation by works on either side, which is why they can live together at Central). I think bait and switch soteriology has a lot of emotional attachments to the notion of surrendering and that sort of strain-based or crisis model of spirituality. Hence the focus on the discipleship being 'hard.' It's really a battle about models of sanctification, and, not surprisingly, overlaps with the whole issue of being led by felt promptings of the Spirit, because you have to keep yielding those little bits, those little, small rooms that you keep tucked away in the recesses of your labyrinthine heart . . . as the Spirit nudges.

I hope there aint no resulting confusion about what side I'm on, now.

ben said...

Joel,

I can't speak to the internal dynamics at Central, but I agree with your bait-and-switch analogy.

I do disagree with you a bit on your suggestion that it's a battle over models of sanctification. I'd actually argue that it's a battle over the nature of conversion.

Recently I heard an anti-Lordship guy argue that the two sides don't hold to the same gospel. On that point, I would surely agree with him.

Don Johnson said...

I think Joel is perhaps making a bit of a false dichotomy. I don't think you have to be what he calls "bait and switch" to be someone who sees problems with the Lordship teaching.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jeremiah 33.3

Matthew LaPine said...

From someone who went to FBBC/TS, this seems to be a non-issue. The article from Dr. Kober is dated March of 1989. It's not an issue that is discussed much anymore. I would also add that it's somewhat transparent where the disagreement seems to be, one side claims you cannot "reject Christ as Lord," the other claims it's wrong to assert "unless one submits to the Lordship of Christ...he is not really saved." Those are two very different ideas. They are speaking past each other.

Also, I'll be honest I didn't follow Joel in his second post. But he's got to be at least partly right about the sanctification issue. Keswick theology has been a force at Faith, not sure about Central. An implication of Keswick sanctification is very explicitly that one *will not* realize Christ's Lordship until a later time, a crisis. But Keswick theology isn't explicitly taught at FBBC/TS anymore (maybe never was? though certainly there were/are influences).

ben said...

"not an issue that is discussed much anymore"

Well that line brings back memories from ten years ago.

Matthew, so to make sure I'm understanding you clearly, are you arguing that it's ok to be neutral to Christ as Lord as long as we don't reject him?

I should clarify one thing. It's entirely possible that Faith is posting this article merely as a historical record. I didn't grasp when I initially posted that "Faith Pulpit" referred to a periodical. But it does seem as though, were an institution to recognize a position to be in error, that some sort of disclaimer be added, regardless of how long ago it was published. Fundamentalists like to skewer non-fundamentalists for errors of the past, do they not?

Joel said...

Well, our differences, Ben, do highlight the difference. I came out with a generally Central take on it. While I´m on one side of the issue, I don´t see it as the problem you do. Which, if I may return to the original point of the post, is what I was trying to say.

Anonymous said...

At Faith and wherever else "anti-Lordship" was or is taught, what do they teach about the doctrines of "union with Christ" and "adoption"?

Wouldn't a right understanding of those things eliminate this whole silly, misguided argument?

I don't know any among those assigned the label of "Lorship Salvation" by the anti-Lordship guys who would say that one must understand all the ramifications of Christ's Lordship at the time of conversion in order to be saved. None of them would argue against the need for growth in grace and ongoing sanctification. What the anti-Lordship guys imply about the Lorship guys just isn't a real thing.

Surely, the anti-Lordship guys wouldn't argue that one can "trust" in Christ without a desire to be united with him (and all that he is) -- to be in him -- and a belief that such union is one's only hope.

Surely, they wouldn't argue that one can be "saved" and fellowship with God unless one is adopted by God -- again in Christ (and all that he is).

Or, would they?

Keith

d4v34x said...

Isn't one of the first things one has to recognize (in order to be truly converted)is that one is in rebellion against the authority of God (whom Jesus is) over one's life?

If so, then must not repentance necessarily entail a decision to discontinue that rebellion and accept God's/Jesus' authority?

Since I can't imagine any of the non-Lordship guys arguing the above, I too lean towards it being an issue of semantics that springs from the practical difficulty of sanctification rather than actual differences in defining repentance.

If I'm wrong, however, this whole thing would be solved very quickly if the non-Lordship folks would just realize our repentance isn't our own work anyway, it's God.

Yes, this would go away if they'd just surrender to the Lordship of God in election.

ben said...

@Keith,

You seldom cease to remind me why I love confessionalists.

ben said...

David,

As Paul Tripp helpfully tweeted today, "The Gospel calls you to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ because, clearly, your lordship wasn't working!"

I certainly understand that to be faithful to the gospel Jesus and the apostles preached. (And, by the way, the gospel Moses and the prophets preached.)

We can hope this is semantics. I'm not at all sure that it is, when many non-Lordship folks want to bifurcate salvation and discipleship, as the Faith article does: "Zane Hodges clearly distinguishes between salvation and discipleship. Eternal life is free. Discipleship is immeasurably hard. The former is attained by faith alone; the latter by a faith that works."

And I'm not sure the nature of the gospel and conversion is a realm in which we want to foster much verbal confusion.

Greg Linscott said...

As a Faith alumnus, I know that this issue of Lordship was a matter of significant discussion in the merger talks with Central. While Matt is right in the fact that it may not be a matter of regular discussion at Faith, that is not to say they have forsaken or downplayed the importance of the position.

Anonymous said...

Ben,

Thanks.

You inadvertantly made me chuckle though. The hardcore, self-identified "confessionalists" in the presbyterian and reformed world probably wouldn't claim me. And, I don't usually feel drawn to them.

Of course compared to much of fundamentalism, I'm sure my degree of confessionalism looks extremely high. Just one more example of how there are more categories than most fundamentalists want to admit.

I am still curious as to what folks like those at Faith think about "union with Christ". (My questions weren't rhetorical).

I am also a bit confused as to whether you think that the primary problem with the FBBC position relates to conversion or sanctification. You initially said "conversion" was the issue, but then you posted that quote that begins, "Zane Hodges . . ." Surely the problem with that quote isn't that Hodges thinks that salvation is free.

Keith

Don Johnson said...

To respond a bit to Keith's question about union with Christ...

First, I don't think you can simply lump all 'anti-Lordship' guys into one group. I suppose the same is true of 'Lordship guys'.

In some cases, I think that the issue is simply a problem of semantics, however the problem isn't only a problem of semantics.

I would guess that most 'anti-Lordship' guys wouldn't say that a desire for union is necessary for salvation (at least in the way you are expressing it). Most would say that union with Christ is what happens at salvation, but whether the new believer is consciously desiring union at the point of salvation is quite another matter. The new believer's mind may well be on other things, like conviction of sin and the need for a Saviour other than himself. He may not know that salvation means union with Christ, but he will know he needs a Saviour and can't save himself.

You might quibble with that last paragraph to some extent, but that is where the semantics comes in.

On the other hand, there are two areas where I think some 'Lordship guys' are problematic. Some of them seem to go too far in the way they state things and insist on a conscious submission to Jesus as Lord in order to be saved. That seems to be at least an overstatement of the case.

The other area is over a difference concerning the nature of sanctification. Some will deny such a thing as 'carnal Christians', but that seems to ignore 1 Cor 3.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Bro. Jude 1:3 said...

Ben,
FYI, your site's information has been used in mine. I thought I would let you know, as solid Bro's do.

Ben said...

Don,

Do you see repentance as something different from submission to Christ's lordship? If so, could you explain how?

Bro. Jude,

Of course you're right. Thank you for bringing my negligence to my attention.

Anonymous said...

Don,

I wasn't suggesting that the difference was semantics. I was asking questions about what the anti-Lordship guys actually think is involved in conversion.

You say, "He may not know that salvation means union with Christ, but he will know he needs a Saviour and can't save himself"

But how does he think he can be saved? How does he think he can get a savior?

Maybe this is where the "ask Jesus into your heart" approach is causing problems. You don't need to get a savior the way you get a pair of shoes. You need to be gotten by the savior -- He needs to get you if you want to receive what he receives.

You say, "Some of them [Lordshipers] seem to go too far in the way they state things and insist on a conscious submission to Jesus as Lord in order to be saved."

Of course no one needs to understand all the deep theology of union with Christ in order to be saved. Of course no one needs to be aware of every area of sin that will ever appear in one's life and consciously repent of it at the moment of conversion. If either of those were the case, then I'd not be saved.

But Biblical faith is placing one's self IN the real person of Christ, and that real person IS Lord. If one doesn't understand THAT about Christ, who exactly is one trusting?

Keith

Don Johnson said...

Ben, you ask if I think there is a difference between repentance and submission to Christ's Lordship. I haven't really studied repentance in detail. I think that it is possible to repent without a complete understanding of all it entails.

In response to Keith as well, I think that little children can be truly converted and I am pretty sure they don't fully understand everything about salvation other than the fact they are sinners and need a Saviour. I think adults can come to Christ the same way.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Ben said...

Don, no one argues that anyone has to understand all that repentance entails in order to be converted. I'm not sure anyone argues that anyone has to understand everything about any aspect of the gospel in order to be converted. To suggest otherwise is simply a red herring. (I'm not suggesting that you personally are doing so, though it could be construed that way.)

It does seem to me as though anti-Lordship folks ought to be able to offer a biblical argument for how repentance is distinct from submission to Christ's lordship. If they are not able to do that, then not only is their argument wholly unsustainable, but so is the notion that this is a matter of semantics.

IOW, unless anti-Lordship folks can articulate a biblical distinction between repentance and submission, then I'm going to continue arguing that this is a gospel issue. Repentance is essential to the gospel, is it not?

Ben said...

Keith,

The problem isn't with the Faith Pulpit quote. It's with the fact that Hodges and the author both seem comfortable with a bifurcation of conversion and discipleship.

Anonymous said...

"I think that little children can be truly converted and I am pretty sure they don't fully understand everything about salvation other than the fact they are sinners and need a Saviour."

Everybody thinks that little children can be truly converted.

And, again, I'm pretty sure that no one fully understands everything about salvation. So, if anyone says that is a requirement, they are saying that no one can be saved.

Nevertheless, I think that even children need to understand a little bit more than you suggest. They need to know that they are sinners, that they need a savior, and that Jesus is the only one who can be their savior. They need to trust Jesus -- an actual person distinct from all other persons.

If I'm starving, it's not good enough to say I need something to eat. It's not even enough to say that I need food to eat -- then stick a rock in my mouth. I have to ackowledge that I need food and eat something that will keep me alive.

Even a little kid can understand that.

Don Johnson said...

Ben, I think your question is reasonable. I just haven't personally studied that particular point enough to give an intelligent answer.

I would say that repentance is an essential aspect of saving faith, but I suspect that we have competing definitions of repentance. I also wonder if repentance in the Bible always means exactly the same thing.

I listened to a series of messages from John MacArthur on the preaching of John the Baptist. He made some statements in that series that were quite unusual. In that series he seemed to make repentance very works-oriented. I could find a link if you are interested.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Anonymous said...

Oops,

That last was for Don, and it was from me.

And, Ben, I see what you're saying now.

Keith

Don Johnson said...

Yes, Keith, I agree that a little child needs to also know that Jesus is the only Saviour. Just typing fast earlier and not trying to hit everything. But my point in using that as an illustration is that while we might expect an adult to understand a bit more about the Christ they are accepting and the sin they are renouncing, their is no scriptural requirement for some kind of full-orbed theological commitments in order to be saved.

It seems that some Lordship statements call for that, which I say are an overstatement of the case.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

d4v34x said...

Don, let me reword a previous comment as a question directly to you,

If one of the first things one has to recognize (in order to be truly converted)is that one is in rebellion against the authority of God (whom Jesus is) over one's life, must not repentance necessarily entail a decision to discontinue that rebellion and accept God's/Jesus' authority?

Don Johnson said...

d4,

If one of the first things one has to recognize (in order to be truly converted)is that one is in rebellion against the authority of God (whom Jesus is) over one's life

And you would say that this first part of your proposition is true? While it is true that the sinner is in rebellion to God, I am not sure that recognizing that fact is required for salvation. Do you have any authority for that statement?

You do have to confess that you are a sinner and can't save yourself. You may or may not recognize that sin at its heart is rebellion.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

d4v34x said...

I could quote authority and one of your assertions lends more.

Does the person have to understand what a sinner is? I'd say yes.

What is a sinner?

d4v34x said...

Rather than push this back and forth, I'll just elaborate. If one doesn't have a basic grasp of sin as a violation of God's authority in our life, confessing one's self a sinner is meaningless.

Being a sinner cannot be merely some nebulous bad thing. When we confront someone with the commandments, we are confronting them with the lawlessness of thier actions relative to God's authority.

There is no basis for repentence outside this. Nor is there a basis for a mercy plea if God is not the wronged party in all our sin.

brian said...

The kerygmatic speeches in Acts lead me to the conclusion that the historical resurrection of Jesus and the future judgment of all men by him as Lord is part and parcel of the gospel. This is not, of course, to the exclusion of the substitutionary death of a sinless Christ for our sin. The two cannot and must not be separated.

Could it be that the gospel of the modern, western church has more often than not empasized faith in a dying Savior to the exclusion of repentance toward the resurrected and coming Judge?

Note also the gospel Jesus preached. "The kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the gospel." Were this good news strictly speaking "good" news, why must someone repent? If however, the coming kingdom is the first step toward a reigning Lord, those who stand in his way (all of us) must kiss the Son, lest he be angry. The gospel is only good news to those who do so.

I know I'm late to this discussion, but here's my point: people will respond in ways commensurate to our message. We can argue all day about what repentance should look like, but only when we get our gospel right should we expect to find biblical repentance at work.

We can also argue all day about how much one must know to be saved. I personally think some people who "ask Jesus into their heart" are probably saved (I said some). However, let's not shoot for the lowest common denominator, or how little repentance is necessary. Let's also not fall into the "Romans Road" syndrome of how short and simple our presentation can be.

Why not model our evangelistic preaching after Peter in Acts, and just see how different our gospel looks, and then see if people come to faith only years later to "submit to the Lordship of Christ"?

Ben said...

Don,

This is where I think you'd be well-served to pursue a clear understanding of a biblical theology of repentance. Brian is absolutely right about Acts and Jesus. But we have a rich backdrop in the OT as well.

There, time and again, we see God's messengers calling for repentance. That repentance is, in it's very essence, an acknowledgment and renouncement (to use your well-chosen word) of idolatry. What is idolatry if it is not rebellion against the one true God and the exclusive worship he deserves?

Don Johnson said...

Hi Ben,

Well, I think this discussion shows that I need to study this more thoroughly. That is, not just because of this discussion here, but these teachings are a matter of discussion among some of our church folks. They listen to various teachers on the radio/internet and have brought up some of this teaching in conversation. Others have commented on the other side of the issue, so I need to be clear to head off any conflict or controversy.

In answer to D4 and some others, I think that a rational theological understanding of terms is one thing, but in terms of saving faith, it isn't entirely an exercise of reason, is it? That's why someone can be saved without full understanding of all these concepts.

I'm happy to leave it there for now.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Lou Martuneac said...

Ben/All:

Greg wrote, “As a Faith alumnus, I know that this issue of Lordship was a matter of significant discussion in the merger talks with Central.”

Scores of FBBC alumnus and friends did NOT want the merger to go through. They are relieved it will not.

Lordship Salvation (LS) is one of two major reasons why the Faith/Central merger never had any real chance of materializing and was widely advised against.

The article by Dr. Kober (that Ben links to) is a two part series, which by permission of FBBC and Dr. Kober I reproduced in their entirety at my blog. I did this for two reasons: 1) An excellent refutation of LS theology, and especially 2) to raise awareness that FBBC historically rejects the LS interpretation of the Gospel.

The other reason the merger was not going to happen is found in Bauder’s ethos statement in which he on the one hand declared, “Because of these differences we do not believe that complete cooperation with conservative evangelicalism is desirable.” and then stated, “For this reason, we believe that careful, limited forms of fellowship are possible.”

What should come immediately to mind is allowing for the camel’s nose in the tent.

It is probably enough to say that the institutional ethos/culture of each school on soteriology (LS) and cooperation with the so-called “conservative” evangelicals are the major factors for the end of merger talks. There is an obvious incompatibility. Faith had nothing to gain by a merger.


LM

Ben said...

Lou,

Thanks for stopping by. As usual, I find your comments clarifying. I didn't realize the Kober article was reprinted in your book. That's helpful to know.

As for the camel's nose, I'd argue that popped in a long, long time ago. As for now, well, whatcha got here . . . is a camel ranch.

A couple questions that might we might benefit to hear you answer:

1) Is repentance essential to conversion?

2) How is repentance different from submission to Christ's lordship?

Lou Martuneac said...

Ben:

First a clarification- I reproduced Kober’s two part article at my blog. It is not in my book.

Second, there are various sorts of camel’s noses that have regrettably come into the tent. The so-called “conservative” evangelicalism (ce) is the contemporary camel’s nose. IMO and the opinion of men like Dr. Gerald Priest the ce camel’s nose is a Trojan horse. Men like Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran are holding the gate open for it and trying to influence others to embrace it.

Your questions:

1) Yes.

2) They are not the same. The biblical definition of repentance shows that submission to the lordship of Christ is NOT an element required to become a born again disciple of Christ, i.e. a Christian. But most assuredly submission to the lordship of Christ should be the desire of one who has been born again.


LM

Lou Martuneac said...

Ben:

FWIW, this is the link to my reproduction of Part One of Dr. Manfred Kober’s Lordship Salvation: Forgotten Truth or a False Doctrine?

A link to Part 2 of Kober’s series appears at the end. They need to be read jointly.


LM

Lou Martuneac said...

Matthew LaPine:

Early in this thread I saw you referenced Keswick theology.

I will refer you to an article on the subject by Evangelist John VanGelderen. It is titled, Keswick: A Good Word or a Bad One?

I trust you'll find it a helpful read.


LM

Ben said...

Whoops, my bad on the citation, Lou. Well, there's a link to your book, nonetheless.

Thanks for your answer to my first question. But you didn't really answer the second. How, exactly, is repentance different from submission to the lordship of Christ. Asserting that one is necessary for salvation, but the other is merely a preferred (but unnecessary) option for the believer doesn't help anyone understand how they are actually different from one another.

Lou Martuneac said...

Ben:

Thanks for the link.

I like the answer I gave. It draws the biblical distinction between the two, repentance for conversion and the disciple's submission to Christ's lordship, which obviously exists.


LM

Ben said...

Lou,

Let me try this a different way:

1) What is repentance?

2) What is submission to the lordship of Christ?

Biblical argumentation preferable.

Thanks.

Joel Gearhart said...

Let me suggest a different resource on Keswick Theology than what Lou offered. Here is a link to three lectures that from Andy Naselli:

http://andynaselli.com/lectures-on-keswick-theology

I was at the lectures that Naselli gave at DBTS. They are well worth the several hours to get through.

Bro. Jude 1:3 said...

Ben,

Bro. Lou gave you an answer, and you didn't like it. Bro. Lou did like his answer. Only a froward paleoneoevangelical wouldn't see the power in that reasoning.

d4v34x said...

Lou wrote:It draws the biblical distinction between the two . . .

Actually it merely asserts a distinction without offering Biblical definition or defense. Are all non-Lordship guys this nebulous about the content saving faith must have?

Ben said...

Bro. Jude 1:3, it's almost like you're having more fun with all this than Jude 1:3 allows. And isn't it really Jude 3?

Dave, hence my point that this is a foundational gospel issue, not mere semantics.

Bro. Jude 1:3 said...

Bro. Ben (I'll allow for now that you are a bro.)

Your comment about my name seems to be slightly froward. In my KJV, the book of Jude begins with a large "1". That would make all the verses after it 1:1, 1:2, 1:3 etc. I'm sure you understand.

I don't know about fun, but the zeal of the Lord sure does consume me when confronting the enemies of the gospel.

Ben said...

Bro. Jude, points taken.