I have tried to refrain from commenting on the blogs since the SBC 2012 Convention. I've even refrained from reading several blogs I use to frequent. I've all but stopped writing on this blog and others that I maintain. It seems my spirit wars with my flesh and often my flesh wins the battle. Which is proof-positive that even after we are saved, and the Lord regenerates us, our will still seeks it's own way as the Apostle Paul so aptly described in Romans 7:15. An unyielded will grieves the Spirit as we choose our way instead of God's.
Indeed, just the other day as I read the tag-team sparring match between two Anti-Traditionalists disputing Traditionalist, Dr. Braxton Hunter's,* views on a Christian's life and response to the gospel, as "a can of worms", I found myself jumping into the comment stream and posting this:
"These tag-team questions remind me of when the pharisees kept asking Jesus, but, but, but….if a man had 5 wives on earth who are they married to in heaven? geesh. Sometime I think it’s not a can of worms being opened, it’s your brains falling out of your heads. A person has the free will to open the door receive Jesus, and ask Him to come in, and they decide they really want what God is offering–total cleansing from their filth and disobedience and rebellion. So God not only forgives them, He comes inside them and creates an entirely new creature. Then Paul tells them that we battle the flesh and the spirit within the rest of our days until the day of completion. What is so complicated?" selahV
Naughty, naughty me--not a shining moment. I got so rattled with the persistent goading questions which could never be answered satisfactorily by a Traditonalist, no matter what is written in reply. So, in my reckless abandon to my own will, I succumbed to the flesh of my past and posted the unseemly "brains" analogy, albeit descriptive, of the thinking patterns of the Anti-Traditionalists in said conversation. When a Presbyterian reposted my comment and added his admonishment: "Nice. Not.", I first wickedly chuckled. Then I saw the error of my choice of verbiage and once again, recomitted myself to reading more than writing.
Unfortunately, some of the Anti-Traditionalists have left me wondering if there is anything I could ever say that might pass muster and scrutiny for value, worth, or theological correctness. While some of the articles in the Traditional Statement and the authors of posts at SBC Today have found agreement with some non-Traditionalists, even those points of agreement are short-lived in the comment streams as Anti-traditionalists begin voicing their disdain upon SBC pastors, SBC theologians, and Seminary professors.
One Anti-Traditionalist posted on his blog that pastors who had signed the Traditional Statement were "forced" or "pressured" to do so. "Forced." I know some of those pastors and they were not forced, nor coerced.** When Dr. Tom Ascol is confronted with his assertion and asked for links, he replied:
"I don't know of any links that are available about the pressure that has been applied to some to sign the statement. I was not told this in confidence. I hope those who experienced it will be willing at some point to speak for themselves. If the issue can be depoliticized that is much more likely to happen." Tom Ascol
Along with Dr. Ascol's alleged assertion, a few statements that have me scratching my head are as follows:
One Anti-traditionalist responds to a question made by a Traditionalist regarding John Calvin's practices "Where was the life changing Gospel, friend?":
(Anti-Traditionalist): "And that will forever be your problem. The gospel isn’t about “life change,” it’s about Christ dying as a sacrifice for our sins."
To that teensey exchange, I must query the Anti-Trad, "WHAT? "The gospel isn't about "life change, ["?????] it's about Christ dying as a sacrifice for our sins."
While I agree to the latter portion of that statement, I'm sorry friends, but what in the world is the gospel message if not Christ also dying to save us from our sins, forgive us of our sins, and create a new heart within us, seal us, abide in us, edify us, correct us, convict us, gift us, and indeed, change us from enemies of Christ to ambassadors of Christ, righteous and holy acceptable in His sight?
Is the gospel inanimate? without life or power? For what purpose is the need for God's only Son to die an excruciating and humiliating death if not to save us and "change" us, so our sins of scarlet will be as white as snow? If that is not a life change, what is it?
How can dead be made alive without a life-change? If there is no light, no salt where is the gospel in the reborn? Why must the only sinless man ever to walk upon this earth be made sin wherein he had no sin, bear ALL the sin of mankind if the gospel does nothing to change the life of those for whom He died?
"Come, all ye weary and heavy laden [by law, works, oppression, and duty], take My yoke upon you, and I will give you rest." Weariness is changed to being comforted. Unrighteousness changes to righteousness. Darkness is changed to light. The gospel is power. Power to save, cleanse, and change sinful man. It's the power to redeem, to justify, sanctify, and continue to work in man to change him more and more each day.
Just yesterday, one Anti-Traditionalist writes in response to a commenter who questions John Calvin's theology by his practices. Lydia, a non-calvinist writes:
Patrick says on June 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm:
"Calvin had believers who disagreed with him imprisoned and tortured. And when a professing believer does such things, we should question every word from his pen.”
"While I’m not surprised that such drivel is posited from here, my mind is blown by the complaints raised against Calvin. Particularly given the beliefs of those raising the complaints. Do you not see that it was Luther and Calvin who actually understood the difference between law and gospel….the very thing you’re complaining about? Clearly not." Patrick, a Calvinist
“Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Cor 5:17)
“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Rom 6:4)
“Put on your new nature, created to be like God–truly righteous and holy.” (Eph 4:24)
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.” (Gal 2:20)
And now I sit here wondering. Is there really any comment or any conversation anyone can offer to bridge the divide between Traditionalists and Anti-Traditionalists? Even when the Trad-Statement agrees in part with teachings of reformed theology, the Trad is accused of making a fuss over nothing. Shane Dodson, an anti-Traditionalist writes:
"The Gospel isn’t “Jesus loves everyone and died for everyone.”
Please cite book/chapter/verse in which the apostles preached such a Gospel.
The Gospel is that sin has been atoned for by Jesus Christ.
“Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” – 1 Tim 1:15
Christians should preach the Gospel in the manner after the apostles…not denominational tradition." Shane Dodson (Anti-Traditionalist)
Christians, my readers, friends, brothers and sisters, I believe the Gospel preached by SBC Traditionalists is "in the manner after the apostles". However, I admit, I do not make my assertions based on my understanding of Calvin, Arminius, Anthropology, the Council of Orange, or the men in Geneva centuries ago. I have a tough time with semantics and the complication of a simple message from Jesus. So, I follow Jesus, and abide in Him and trust His words, none other-- which, in the scheme of things, makes my words, and those of others, pale in significance, don't you think? selahV
*(Braxton Hunter, PhD, Professor of Philosophy and Apologetics at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Indiana, and former President of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists)
**TO THOSE PASTORS who Tom Ascol alleges felt "pressured or forced to sign" the Traditional Statement on Soteriology: How awful for you! I'm sure this could be quickly resolved if you simply contact the site and remove your names from the list.