Aren’t Some Errors Covered by Grace?

by Todd Deaver

The answer Greg and Phil have given (see my last post, “Phil’s and Greg’s Position on Apostasy“) is by no means unusual in Churches of Christ. You don’t have to search long in our journals and books to find this position repeatedly and emphatically expressed. But there are, I believe, some serious problems with it.

To begin with, this position implies that there are no doctrinal errors that are innocuous. It’s just very hard to contend that all doctrinal error is spiritually fatal if persisted in. For example, in Romans 16:7 Paul either did or did not intend to designate Andronicus and Junias as “apostles” in some sense (cf. Phil. 2:25 where Epaphroditus is called an apostle). Good Bible students differ on the question, and those who miss Paul’s intention here are wrong on this matter of Bible teaching (doctrine). But do Phil and Greg believe this doctrinal error will ultimately lead to eternal destruction if not corrected?

Just so, studious disciples differ over whether the rich landowners addressed in James 5:1-6 are Christians or non-Christians. Certainly, it’s either one or the other, but are those who are in perpetual error on this point jeopardizing their souls?

If a believer continually misunderstands the time and place of Jesus’ proclamation to “the spirits in prison” (1 Pet. 3:19), is she in danger of hell? Must the child of God at some point grasp the truth about where saints go immediately after death (heaven or hades?), the nature of our resurrection bodies (physical or nonphysical?), and the kind of forgiveness enjoyed by Old Testament saints (actual or only prospective?) to have assurance of his salvation?

These questions might seem silly, but they point up a critical defect in the view Greg and Phil advocate, because that view makes no distinction among doctrinal errors as far as apostasy is concerned. Given Phil’s all-encompassing application of the passages he cites, missing the doctrinal mark on any of the above biblical issues is tantamount to perverting the gospel (Gal. 1:6-9), being spiritually blind (Matt. 15:14; 2 Cor. 4:4), rejecting the truth in favor of a damning lie (2 Thes. 2:10-12), being held captive by the devil (2 Tim. 2:24-26), and distorting the scriptures to one’s own destruction (2 Pet. 3:16).

I struggle to believe that Greg and Phil truly insist on this position. But if they believe there are some doctrinal errors that can be sincerely and perpetually believed without jeopardizing the soul, they need to modify their stated position and clearly explain what kinds of doctrinal errors fit in this category. Up to now they have allowed for no exceptions.

The dilemma faced by the conservative Churches of Christ is simple. Either all or only some doctrinal errors will damn if persisted in long enough. If the answer is “all,” then even mistakes such as the ones just mentioned will lead to damnation–and who can meet such a standard? If the answer is “only some,” then the distinction between error that damns if persisted in and error that doesn’t must be found in the scriptures. And where is the scripture that says instrumental music–if persisted in–damns, but that error as to the location of souls between death and the resurrection–if persisted in–does not?

Explore posts in the same categories: Apostasy

86 Comments on “Aren’t Some Errors Covered by Grace?”

  1. thumper Says:

    Very clear and to the point.

    I really hope for a clear response. I don’t expect one, but hope springs eternal.

  2. Dusty Chris Says:

    I hope there is some learning curve for new (and old) Christians where grace applies. I have been a Christian for 30 years yet my beliefs have continued to develop and mature. I look back on what I believed just 10 years ago and think what an ignoramous I was ‘back then.’ Does grace cover immature or imperfect beliefs? I hope so.

    It is my understanding that only God is perfect and we are left with imperfection. Are our conservative brothers the only ones with perfect theology and the rest of us are misinformed and ignorant (at best) or intentionally disobedient (at worst)? That is some pretty big pants to fill, to be the only ones that ‘get it.’ It is dangerous territory to think one has a perfect grasp on what is the deep, mysterious, and awesome gospel of Jesus Christ.

  3. Alan Says:

    Up to now they have allowed for no exceptions.

    I doubt they really hold that conviction. I’m not sure they really have clearly articulated principles guiding their practice on the limits of fellowship. As you emphatically demonstrated in your book, their stated doctrine does not match their obvious practice. That much is obvious to observers, even if the conservatives cannot articulate the doctrine that they actually practice.

  4. ben overby Says:


    It is my experience (as noted earlier) that all doctrinal error–real or supposed–ins’t treated equally by those who are gripping the keys of the kingdom today. You’ve rightly established the horns of the bull representing the conversative dilemma. I think most who share the view of Phil and Greg will be gored by the nasty “all doctrinal error can lead to damnation” horn.

    If my assumption is true it raises suspicion. Why is there inconsistency regarding withdrawal from the brother who’s in error? The answer, in my experience, has everything to do with social identity. What error gets the most zealous response with the greatest consistency. The boundary markers have been institutionalized–baptism (submerged in water) for the expressed purpose of remission of sins, non-instrumental worship, 5 act worship scheme, 5 step plan, plurality of leaders, and women’s role. Of course splinter groups have added things here and there their kingdom managers forged their own social identity distinct from the mother group.

    So, even if Phil and Greg could prove the principle to be true, they’ed have a lot of explaining to as to why the leaders within the churches of Christ are so incredibly selective in how they apply the principles. If you’re in error with reference to the application of the principle, it seems to me that would identify a moral or ethic transgression as damning as any doctrinal error.

    As has been noted over and over again, we all hold some errant position presently. We can’t know it because that’s just how God designed. We self-justify our own views, and changing those views and understandings is a good deal more complex than working out a geometry equation or getting the syllogisms to say something true with valid form. Therefore, God has clearly stipulated the difference in the manner in which he’ll deal with those who sin presumptiously and those who are simply mistaken (found throughout scripture–esp. Heb. 9). He knows the heart and head. We should teach what we believe to be right, but we should do so with a throat crammed full of humility.


  5. Royce Says:


    The reason a defence for the positions laid out is not forth coming is simple. Their position cannot be defended using the Bible, in context.

    Phil says he believes sinners are saved by grace through faith but you would never know it by what he teaches the rest of the time.

    I heard Edward Fudge put it this way. “The gospel is not “good views”, or “good do’s”, but “good news”. I fear that most of our consservative friends preach “good views” and “good do’s” at the expense of the “good news” about what Jesus accomplished for sinners.

    Jesus did not live and die and live again to give wicked sinners a second chance to keep the law. The good news is that we have been justifed based upon the work of the person, Jesus Christ, on our behalf.

    The gospel of Christ and the whole redemption story is Christ centered with God calling the shots. The gospel in most coC congregations is man centered with man calling the shots. God is not unfolding His eternal plan one day at a time waiting to see if someone gets music right in worship or understands doctrine perfectly.

    It is almost as easy for a man to loose his salvation as it is for a drunk to get off the white line in a field sobriety test on the side of a highway according to Phil and Greg.

    “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness?” (Gal 3:2-6)


  6. Hank Says:

    I understand what Todd is getting at here. However, I wonder if he himself will do what he asks of others? For example, above he writes, “But if they (Phil and Greg) believe there are some doctrinal errors that can be sincerely and perpetually believed without jeopardizing the soul, they need to modify their stated position and clearly explain what kinds of doctrinal errors fit in this category. Up to now they have allowed for no exceptions.”

    Has Todd anywhere “clearly explained” which doctrinal errors can be “perpetually believed without jepardizing the soul”? If he believes some doctrinal errors would jeapardize the soul while others would not…then I wonder if he would and/or could clearly explain the matter.

    Seems to me that unless a person wants to say that NO doctrinal error would ever jeapardize the soul, then he too is faced with the challenge of figuring out which ones would.

    Personally, I DO believe that some doctrinal errors when perpetually believed WILL cost the soul but DO NOT claim to know exactly which ones and at what point. Thus, we need to strive to avoid believing any error at all…never taking comfort in the fact that the grace of God will cover whichever errors I choose to embrace because I really want to believe (or accept) them.


  7. Wayne McDaniel Says:

    You have expressed the truth extremely well.
    Those who tell others what will sever them from Christ, are blind to their own pride, just like Diotrephes, 3 John 9-10.

    I am not a reader of classic lit.,but have been blessed by this quote of Blaise Pascal from his Penses: “Certainly nothing offends us more rudely than this doctrine [original sin],
    yet without this mystery, the most incomprehensible of all, we are incomprehensible to ourselves.”

    Do you have a blog of your own?

  8. Royce Says:

    Yes, if you click on my name above you’ll go to it.


  9. Royce Says:

    Funny stuff Hank…

    The doctrinal error that damns is depending on yourself, being right on doctrine, being in the right church, doing the right stuff at the right time, etc, etc.

    Only those who are actively depending on Jesus (and not themselves) have eternal life.


  10. Jay Guin Says:


    Todd and I have already stated some doctrinal error that will cost the soul at the beginning of this discussion.

    We will soon be laying out our views more extensively. But at this point, we are testing the conservative position. Our time of testing will come.

    Ultimately, the dialogue isn’t about winning and losing, but about faithfulness to God and his word. If we prove the other position to be in error, that does not make our position right. Therefore, we will certainly have to state our views, explain the scriptural basis for them, and submit them to Phil, Greg, and the readers to be tested against the scriptures.

    Moreover, I strongly believe that the best exegesis is done in dialogue — not only with those who agree with me but also with those who do not. Iron sharpens iron. As I study and test Phil’s and Greg’s views, I learn more about the scriptures. When my own views are tested, I expect to learn as well.

    And so, for me, this is all about learning God’s word in a way that I can’t do by myself — and so I greatly appreciate all those participating for what I’m learning.

  11. Todd Deaver Says:

    Good to see you again, Hank. I appreciate your point and yes, Jay and I will be presenting our own view of apostasy in a little while. Right now Greg and Phil are explaining and defending theirs. When both positions have been stated and critiqued, readers will hopefully be able to determine which approach is the more biblical one.

  12. Hank, I wonder if this puts you in the unenviable position of having no assurance of your salvation since you don’t know which doctrinal errors “cost the soul” and which do not as it might very well be that you do not know that you hold some doctrinal errors that “cost the soul.”

    I don’t believe I have ever heard anyone “take comfort in the fact that the grace of God will cover” their errors because they “really want to believe” those errors. I would rather say something like that we all want to be obedient to God and embrace all that he truly teaches but we all recognize that we do so imperfectly.

    I think it is important to talk about the discerning principle, and I assume our bloggers will get to that at some point. Perhaps we can simply start with those doctrinal errors which Scripture explicitly identifies as “costing the soul”—which are very few, it seems, as I read Scripture.

  13. Alan Says:

    Personally, I DO believe that some doctrinal errors when perpetually believed WILL cost the soul but DO NOT claim to know exactly which ones and at what point. Thus, we need to strive to avoid believing any error at all.

    That is a true statement, but not very helpful. I believe in my beliefs. I think they are right. If I didn’t think so, they wouldn’t be my beliefs. All of us strive not to believe any error at all. The problem is that we aren’t good enough at actually accomplishing that. That goes for conservatives as well as progressives.

    We think we are right on every point, but we are not. So if perfect doctrine were essential to salvation, we could not know whether we are saved or not. It would be impossible to know. Furthermore, virtually none of us actually would be saved. Although Jesus died on the cross to save us, it wouldn’t be sufficient. We’d still be lost because of our fallible reading comprehension skills, our lack of knowledge of ancient Greek, our inability to overcome our varying cultural biases, and our resulting failure to draw the correct inferences from scripture.

    My hope in heaven is not built on those shaky foundations.

  14. Hank Says:

    Do you believe you are able to say whether or not any and every individual doctrinal error if pereptually believed (and practiced) will cost the soul? Would it make a difference whether the believer of such were a new convert with greater “baggage” as opposed to a long-time believer who was/is more accountable to God? (the much given-much required scenario). If you are so able, may I give you a list of doctrines in order for you to answer whether or not a person may believe and practice them incorrectly and yet still be considered by God as in the light and a practicer of truth? If not…well, then are you not in the csame boat as I?

    As to your second paragraph, do you deny that there have ever been people who believed that ______ was possibly (even likely) displeasing to God but because they wished _______ was acceptable, they went ahead and embraced _______ all the while assuring themselves that “we can’t be doctrinally perfect anyway” and that “the grace of God allows for doctrinal errors”? I know there are people like that. In fact, and being honest, I have to gaurd against do that very thing myself from time to time.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  15. Hank,

    I do believe there is a discerning principle that makes the distinction for which you are asking. I could look at your list and apply the principle, I suppose, but everyone would have their own opinion about it.

    And this is my point. We are saved by grace through faith rather than through doctrinal perfection. It seems to me that the category of “doctrinal errors” that “cost the soul” is very small and identified in Scripture as undermining our salvation that is by grace through faith.

    I did not say there had never been any such people, but only that I have never heard anyone say such a thing. And I would presume that those in this discussion do not approach their God in this dismissive way where they intentionally decide to believe something or do something they know (or likely think) is displeasing to God with a soothed conscience.

    Blessings, my brother.

  16. Hank Says:


    Very well. But, if “everyone would have their own opinion about it” (concerning which incorrect doctrines you believe will cost the soul when perpetually believed and/or practiced)– then what good is it? I mean, if your “discerning principle” will not say say whether or not a particular doctrine (name them one by one) must be understood and practiced correctly…then how do we know which ones allow for “wiggle room”? If even after applying your discerning principle everyone would still have their own opinion, how would we know who is right? And if we’d all be left with differing opinions regarding which false doctrines would cost the soul (and if some will/could in fact cost the soul), then everyone is in the same unenviable position after all. Except for those who’s opinions were exactly right, of course!

    For example, could you tell me what John had in mind when he said that whoever “does not keep his commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him” (1 Jn. 2:4)? Are you able to tell me precisely which commandments the apostle did (or did not) have in mind? Which ones we had “to keep” in order to not be a no truth having liar and which ones were not “a must”?

    Frankly, such passages are somewhat frightening to me (hence, my unenviable position). In all seriousness brother, if you could help me with that one I would be extremely grateful.

    On a side note, I have some of your books in my library and appreciate your taking the time to address the things I’ve written.



    P.s., I do believe that we are in fact saved by grace through faith rather than doctrinal perfection. Else, all would be lost.

  17. What I mean, of course, is that everyone will have their own way of applying and assessing my discerning principle. I have no illusions it would create unity or everyone would have an “ah ha” moment and submit to my principle. 🙂 But my principle–as I would articulate–basically says God still saves even when we don’t agree.

    It would take a substantial post or two or three to illuminate my own discerning principle, but I will offer it in a nutshell. It seems to me that whatever subverts salvation by grace through faith is condemning. This is the problem in Galatians, for example. I understand “faith” to be a submissive trust in Jesus. It is not, as you note, a doctrinal perfectionism or ecclesiological perfectionism, etc. Rather, it is a mode of being through which we seek God’s will in our lives–a submissive trust in God’s work for us. I have articulated some of this on my own blog, and my ruminations began with a piece published in 1992 available here.

    This is why many issues over which we divide, argue and disfellowship are not “salvation” issues for me.

    I can see where 1 John 2:4 would be frightening. However, it seems to me that his fundamental command (the new commandment) is to love, and this is something we learn from God’s own act in Jesus. Loving is process of growth and not perfection. We are growing toward that end. So, the call to “truth” and “commands” here must be framed by the sense of “walking in the light” (walking in the light of God’s call and love) where our disobedience and failures are forgiven by the blood of Jesus. I understand walking in the light to be essentially syononymous with “faith” or “loving”; it is about orientation, direction and a sense of being rather than about a list of duties and positive commands.

    I hope that is helpful, brother. I did not intend to insult you in speaking of the “unenviable” position. I have been there myself, and I don’t have it all figured out myself. Instead, I seek God, trust in Jesus, and live in the Spirit as I am enabled by the Spirit’s power….that is salvation by grace through faith. At least, to me. 🙂

    Blessings, JMH

  18. Hank Says:

    Thank you for thoughts.


  19. Hank Says:


    Thinking of keeping “his commandments” in terms of “walking in the light” does help. Since as we “walk in the light” our sins are continually forgiven (provided we actually are of course).

    Again, thanks


  20. Josh Kraft Says:

    I knew it. I knew when I came here that sooner or later the fangs of the liberals would show. Liberals claim to be so loving and open minded, but just disagree with their position and then see them. They are some of the most unloving and closed minded people around unless you walk in lockstep with their dogmatic positions.

  21. Josh, please identify the fangs. Your description is fairly “dogmatic” and “unloving” itself. Could you be more specific?

    Blessings, JMH

  22. Alan Says:

    I don’t see any meanness being expressed here.

  23. Josh Kraft Says:

    The principles on determining which errors damn and which ones don’t can be clearly articulated. And they have been countless times. As J.W. McGarvey pointed out in his sermon on “Believing A Lie” if a doctrine leads one to sin then that is a doctrine that damns. All of the doctrinal disagreements among brethren that don’t divide (i.e., HS indwelling, heaven/hell or hades between death and the Day of Judgement, etc) fall into the category of errors that do not damn (i.e., do not lead to sin) because a person who holds to either view still lives, worships, and serves God faithfully. OTOH there are things that are salvation issues because they cause a person to not live, worship, or serve God faithfully.

  24. Josh Kraft Says:

    There isn’t anything wrong with being “dogmatic” as long as that for which one is being “dogmatic” is the right thing. Also, Paul seemed very “unloving” when he said that he hoped that the false teachers in his day would “go beyond circumcision.” So I don’t have a problem with being “dogmatic” or “unloving” as long as that for which one is being those ways towards is false doctrine.

    OTOH liberals inconsistently say that they aren’t dogmatic, narrow minded, and unloving all the while they attack those who disagree with their assertions and call them “Pharisees” and “narrow minded.” (I’ve read a number of comments by liberals in various posts here. And sooner or later–usually sooner–these “fangs” pop out.)

  25. ben Says:


    Are you teaching anything that would lead people to sin, and how would you know it if you were?

    Ben O

  26. K. Rex Butts Says:

    Ah… JMH, we have misundertood the exception to ethics. With a little tongue in cheek, did you not know it is OK to sound dogmatic and unloving so long at the ends to that means are right…but if your ends are wrong, then it is wrong to sound dogmatic and unloving?

    Your brother in Christ,


  27. Zach Cox Says:

    Hank and John Mark,

    As to what it means in 1 John 2:4 about “obeying his commands” and which commands that entails, it might be the same commands which he shortly enumerates in 1 John 3:22-23

    “…we…receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. AND THIS IS HIS COMMAND: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.”


  28. Josh Kraft Says:

    There are three positions which one could take regarding knowing:
    (1) I know everything. (Nobody knows everything.)
    (2) I know nothing. (If so then one needs to not go outside lest he tries to cross the street and gets hit by a bus.)
    (3) I know something. (This is the correct view.)

    Can one understand the will of God? Paul says that we can (Eph 5:17). One can’t understand something unless he knows it. Also, one can’t do it unless he first knows it either (cf. Matt 7:21). I’m to “preach the word” (2 Tim 4:2). One can’t preach what one doesn’t know.

    It appears that our “progressive” brethren didn’t hear enough “Can we understand the Bible?” sermons in their youth and have as a result been infected with a serious case of hermeneutical agnosticism.

  29. Josh, “Wow!” May God give you peace.


  30. Josh Kraft Says:

    I was simply accusing you guys of being guilty of self-contradiction and hypocrisy. I’m not being guilty of these things myself in this particular matter because I don’t claim to hold to a liberal view of Christianity with its false Jesus (the “luv” hippy)and false gospel. 🙂

  31. Alan Says:

    There’s no shortage of people willing to assert what you just said. What is in short supply is people willing and able to supply book, chapter, and verse in support of that position.

  32. ben Says:


    You admit that you don’t know everything. Therefore, how can you know that there isn’t something you’re teaching which causes someone to sin?

    This isn’t a matter knowledge, this is a question of perfect knowledge. If none of us has perfect knowledge, then we can do the best that we can, while trusting Jesus. When you err in your teaching, and everyone does at some point, it’s either presumptuous or unintentionally. The blood of Jesus gives grace to our imperfection. See Heb. 9.

    A false (he’s a pretender) teacher is presumptuous. He leads people astray intentionally and will not turn around.

    ben o

  33. ben Says:


    P.S. I should go on to say, that presumptuous sin prevents grace. God has mercy on the humble, but he has never tolerated the presumptuous sin of the arrogant false teacher.

    Ben O

  34. Josh Kraft Says:

    There is no verse that explicitly says what I said. However, it is implied by explicit statements.

  35. Alan Says:

    Ah, this is progress!

    I’d say it is not implied, but inferred. The question remaining is, “Is it a necessary inference, a reasonable inference, or an incorrect inference?” We need for you to provide the scriptures from which you infer the following doctrinal statement:

    OTOH there are things that are salvation issues because they cause a person to not live, worship, or serve God faithfully.

  36. Josh Kraft Says:

    Understanding the will of God is not as hard as you guys make it out to be. While there are certain parts of the Bible that aren’t easy to understand (and one may never be able to fully understand them in this life) God has made what one must do to become a child of God and to live faithfully very plain.

  37. Alan Says:

    Who gets to decide what is plain and what is not? God tells us a few things are obvious. And he tells us various other matters are disputable (Rom 14:1).

    God’s eternal power and divine nature are obvious, and God expects us to recognize that he exists from the unavoidable evidence. (Rom 1:18-19)

    “The works of the flesh are obvious” and God expects us to recognize other things like those listed (Gal 5:21)

    Where is the comparable statement about mandated a cappella singing being obvious? Or lifetime elder appointment? or prohibited missionary societies / orphan homes / etc?

  38. ben Says:

    Very true Alan. Paul gives us permission to esteem days as unto the Lord, but there are those who’ve made “salvation” issues out of keeping easter or Christmas as holy days (which again, Paul permits).

    Knowledge puffs up. Truth keeps us humble.

  39. K. Rex Butts Says:


    Of all the pictures I saw of Jesus growing up as a child, he looked like a hippie to me – at least according to the haircut standards my father insisted upon for my brothers and I. 🙂

    Your brother in Christ,


  40. Josh Kraft Says:

    I think that I can “cut to the heart” of not only whether errors can be covered by grace but also the responses that have been given to some of comments by asking my “liberal” brethren one question:

    Is a friend of mine holding to a damnable doctrine for holding to (and teaching) hyperpreterism (i.e., the Second Coming, Resurrection, and Day of Judgment all occurred in AD 70)?

    Keep in mind that he is a brother in Christ, is sincere in his belief, and holds firmly to the Deity of Christ….

  41. Josh Kraft Says:

    BTW I meant to say “…to some of MY comments…” in my above comment. I REALLY need to get more sleep. LOL

  42. Josh Kraft Says:

    Let me repeat the question…slowly….

    My friend is a brother in Christ. He is sincere in his belief. And he holds to the Deity of Christ. (Now surely our “progressive” brethren who have recently discovered grace have got to love this guy. We are saved by grace remember?)


    He believes and teaches hyperpreterism.


    Is my sincere hyperpreterist brother who believes in the Deity of Christ saved or lost?

    It’s a simple question.:)

  43. Todd Deaver Says:


    Your suggestion is different from Phil’s and Greg’s approach thus far. It may well be that they modify their position to the one you describe. If so, we’ll address it at that point.

  44. Josh Kraft Says:

    If it is inferred it is implied. And if it is inferred it is, by definition, necessary. Otherwise, it’s an assumption and not an inference. God implies and we infer. If God didn’t imply it we can’t infer it. To say that “A” implies “B” is to say that it is impossible for “A” to be true and for “B” to be false.

    All that one needs to do is to gather all of the passages that teach that a person must live, worship, and serve God faithfully. We are clearly told that one must be faithful even to the point of death (i.e., dying for ones faith) in order to receive the crown (Rev 2:10). So by implication ANYTHING that would cause a person to not remain faithful would therefore be a sin that damns (unless it is repented of and forsaken, of course).

  45. ben Says:


    With reference to your question I will answer like a good Rabbi (btw, I’m neither good nor a rabbi).

    Given that the resurrection is basic to the gospel, are those who deny the resurrection of the dead saved or lost?

    And, are premillennialists saved or lost?

    I’d answer that any of the three cases could be damning (or not). It just depends on whether a person is presumptuous in his error or innocently mistaken.

    You answers, please. : )

  46. ben Says:

    Josh, I posted this above in the wrong place. Reposting here to avoid confusion.

    With reference to your question I will answer like a good Rabbi (btw, I’m neither good nor a rabbi).

    Given that the resurrection is basic to the gospel, are those who deny the resurrection of the dead saved or lost?

    And, are premillennialists saved or lost?

    I’d answer that any of the three cases could be damning (or not). It just depends on whether a person is presumptuous in his error or innocently mistaken.

    Your answers, please. : )

  47. Josh Kraft Says:

    But my friend–who is a real person BTW; I DO have friends :)) believes in the death, burial, and (bodily) resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:1-4). He believes in an afterlife (i.e., that the righteous go to heaven and the unrighteous go to hell after death). He just has a “small, little difference in understanding” with regard to the bodily resurrection of all mankind part(i.e., there isn’t going to be one). But–seeing as how grace covers sin–then surely his error in a doctrinal matter (which we ALL have some) isn’t going to affect his soul’s salvation, will it? And surely it would be WRONG for us to write this particular doctrinal error on some “error list,” wouldn’t it?

  48. ben Says:


    It sounds like your friend and the Corinthians have the same problem. The Corinthians believed in an after life too. They simply couldn’t imagine the resurrection; a physical body being given new life–like Jesus. Paul argued that the denial of a physical, bodily resurrection implied that Jesus had not been raised. He even insists that if Christ has not been raised our faith is futile and we are still in our sins.

    Now to further complicate things, stand before a group of believers this Sunday and ask, “Do you believe that after death you will float off to Heaven as an unbodily spirit, singing devo songs for eternity multiplied by infinity or will we you be given your physical body, new and improved as was the case with Jesus?”

    Most will affirm that we’ll be spirits without a physical body. Those who don’t will contend that the answer really doesn’t matter. But Paul argued against Plato’s worldview and insisted that if we deny the physical resurrection then we are still in our sins. He even tied the whole thing into ethics before the chapter was complete.

    HOWEVER, he didn’t mark and withdraw from the uninformed Corinthians. In their error, they still trusted Jesus and were making progress. Heck, it’s been well-chronicled by now that most of Western Christianity accepts the same platonic concepts the Corinthians believed, teachers teach a version of life after death that isn’t physical, and when pressed claim it doesn’t matter.

    I believe it matters tons. But I also believe that those who accept such notions do not embrace the implications that Paul argued for. We can imply something that’s dreadful, but never see it, and Paul was OK with loving and caring for those brothers. Denying the resurrection didn’t make the list of 1 Co. 5.

    What you see as an implication isn’t the law. No one, Josh, not a single person under heaven is going to be judged by implications that you draw from various truths.

  49. Alan Says:

    Josh, I’m not aware of a scripture that answers your question directly. As far as I can tell, your question is a disputable matter.

  50. Josh Kraft Says:

    There were those in the first century who—like hyperpreterists—taught that the resurrection was past already. (Apparently they believed in a spiritual resurrection just like hyperpreterists do.) Paul refers to these false teachers and names two in particular (Hymenaeus and Philetus) in Second Timothy 2:16-18. He says that what they taught was “profane babblings” and that their word would eat as gangrene does. He says that they were “men who concerning the truth have erred” and that they “overthrow the faith of some.”
    So the denial of a future bodily resurrection of the dead wasn’t just some harmless thing. And for anyone to assume that those at Corinth could just keep on holding to all of their errors (including the one on the resurrection) after Paul wrote his 1st epistle to them to correct them shows that one hasn’t read his 2nd epistle to them (2 Cor 12:20-21). Let me ask you this question:” If those at Corinth who held to their false doctrine on the resurrection refused to repent and give it up what were the other members of the church there supposed to do in light of 2 Thes 3:6?”

    Regarding your statement that “not a single person under heaven is going to be judged by implications that you draw from various truths” tell me….
    1. Where is the EXPLICIT STATEMENT in the Bible that says that?
    2. Is your name or any other person’s name EXPLICITLY mentioned in the Bible? If not, then how do you determine that any of it applies to you or to others?
    3. The following statement is not found EXPLICITLY in the Bible: “John (a homosexual)will go into the lake of fire unless he repents.” However, is it not found IMPLICITLY there (1 Cor 6:9-11; Acts 17:30-31; Rev 21:8)?

  51. Alan Says:

    There were those in the first century who—like hyperpreterists—taught that the resurrection was past already.

    You refer to

    2Ti 2:17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus,
    2Ti 2:18 who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.

    It’s not completely clear exactly what those two were teaching, but it clearly was a serious problem for them to teach it. If that is what hyperpreterists believe, then they likewise have “wandered from the truth” and are presumably destroying the faith of some.

  52. Josh Kraft Says:

    Exactly. And thus we have here an error in doctrine that will damn a person who continues to hold to it.

  53. Jay Guin Says:


    I pulled up that sermon, and it really does say what you say it says — which astonishes me because McGarvey refused to break fellowship over the instrument. My problem with that interpretation is pretty straightforward: where does the Bible say grace can cover sin caused by moral error but not sin caused by doctrinal error?

  54. Ben Overby Says:

    Hmmm. Now we have something of a problem. Josh, you wrote: “So the denial of a future bodily resurrection of the dead wasn’t just some harmless thing. And for anyone to assume that those at Corinth could just keep on holding to all of their errors (including the one on the resurrection) after Paul wrote his 1st epistle to them to correct them shows that one hasn’t read his 2nd epistle to them (2 Cor 12:20-21).”

    I’ll assure you I’ve read both epistles, but one wonders what you’ve been reading. Paul doesn’t in any way hint of the resurrection question in the verses you cited above, unless you suppose that belief can be described as impurity, sexual immorality, or sensuality.

    We might ask ourselves if Christians, in general, have read the 1st letter, especially the 15th chapter in light of the fact that so many quickly affirm life after death, but believe it to be a spirit realm void of any dreadful and “evil” physicality. Many believe Jesus jettisoned his physical body at the ascension, having no need for it in a spirit-realm, and when we meet him in the air, we will have no need of a physical body in a spiritual realm such as heaven.

    I preached for 15 years. Anytime I pressed the issue of a physical resurrection, a portion of the people (in various places) would grow uneasy. As a subject, it’s often considered divisive with the leadership concluding, “I don’t care what sort of form we have. I just want to go to heaven.” A few years ago in NY I was visiting in a home, studying with a few folks from a local mainstream coc. One of the elders’ wives was quite emotional in denying the fact that we will have bodies or that we will have memories. I’m sure we’ve all heard it time and time again.

    My guess is that everyone reading this could share similar experiences, and if everyone reading this were to poll their congregations this week, we’d find out what we already know: everyone believes in life after death, but very few believe in a literal, bodily resurrection. That is, we have the same problem infecting the church today as existed in Corinth.

    What should we do about it, Josh? Simply teach the truth. But remember, just because you and I see the implications of a thing, that doesn’t mean someone else will. Paul makes no mention of putting away those who affirmed life after death but who denied a physical resurrection. What do you know about God that Paul didn’t?

    With reference to your questions, the person who believes in spiritual vs. physical life after death, doesn’t think that belief denies the faith or leaves him or her in sins. Just because Paul saw an implication 15 paces removed from the basic truth, that doesn’t mean everyone else could see it, and many don’t see it today (arguing out of ignorance that ch. 15 actually denies a physical resurrection).

    Paul’s a more powerful logician than you an I can hope to be. Draw out your implications, but don’t expect everyone to agree with you—even when you’re actually right.

    It doesn’t take a genius to realize that even when you’ve got what appears to be a hard case of a perfect implication, God will not be boxed. One case in point: Jesus’ disciples were accused of sinning by pulling ears of corn on the Sabbath. They all knew the story of Nu. 15.32-36. If it’s wrong to pick up sticks on the Sabbath, then can there be any doubt that it’s wrong to pick corn? The logic of the religious managers was something to marvel at–it was clean, mathematical, precise, confident, and . . . wrong.

    Knowledge puffs up. Truth humbles. There are some with much knowledge and little truth.

  55. Ben Overby Says:

    Josh, you noted, To say that “A” implies “B” is to say that it is impossible for “A” to be true and for “B” to be false.

    Yes, the Pharisees had a great modus ponens case against Jesus and the disciples in Mt. 12. The antecedent is Nu. 15 and the man who picked up sticks on the Sabbath. If A is true, then anyone who does similar work must be similarly guilty. If A then B. Is picking corn like picking up sticks? Why sure it is. There are 6 days to work and put aside food so that one doesn’t have to pick corn on the Sabbath. If that’s true, then those who pick corn are as guilty as the man who picked up sticks.

    But there was and is a flaw in the human limitations of modus ponens, tollens, hypothetical syllogisms, disjunctive syllogisms, and all logial argumentation. It has a tendency to be used by those who appear to have no heart. It can be arrogantly blind. It can be puffed up. It is often used to manipulate people toward a predetermined conclusion, so that when a mitigating or qualifying truth (such as mercy not sacrifice) is introduced, people end up on crosses. The Logos murdered by the logical.

    This isn’t a case against logic, just a case against us weak humans who use it. Logic works only when we get in all the facts. A CENI system is weighted in one direction right out of the starting block. It never will be able see all the truth, and will sink under the bulk of its own sense of correctness.

  56. Todd Deaver Says:

    That’s about as well as I’ve heard it put, Ben. Thanks for those insightful words.

  57. Alan Says:

    Exactly. And thus we have here an error in doctrine that will damn a person who continues to hold to it.

    Josh, I think most of us here would acknowledge that there are some doctrinal errors that one cannot hold and be considered a Christian. I also think most of us would acknowledge that there are some other doctrinal errors which a person could hold and still be a faithful Christian. So there are two categories. This discussion is attempting to figure out the principles that determine which category a given doctrine would fit into.

  58. Alan Says:

    Jay wrote:

    I pulled up that sermon, and it really does say what you say it says — which astonishes me because McGarvey refused to break fellowship over the instrument.

    McGarvey didn’t say that causing a third party to sin makes a false doctrine fatal. He said causing the one who believes it to sin — and not subsequently to be forgiven of the sin — is what makes it fatal. In other words, it’s not the false doctrine, but the resulting sin, that causes condemnation. Quoting McGarvey:

    I think that the doctrine of election as taught in the old creeds is false in the extreme; but I think that many a man has believed it all his life, and then gone to heaven when he died. What, then, is the distinction? It is to be traced out by remembering that there is only one thing that can keep men out of heaven, or keep them estranged from God in this life. That one thing is sin. Nothing else does or can stand between God and any man. If the belief of a lie, then, leads a man to commit sin, it will prove fatal unless that sin shall be forgiven.

    I’m not so sure our conservative friends today would be so generous regarding the Calvinist doctrine of election. Furthermore, the modern conservative position is that believing a false doctrine is itself sin (and requires repentance). But McGarvey made a distinction between beliefs and sin. For McGarvey it seems that sin is something you do, not something you believe.

  59. Josh Kraft Says:


    If your view is correct on the Corinthians and the denial of the resurrection by some there then why, oh pray tell, did Paul even bring up the subject and refute it? According to your view it didn’t amount to a hill of beans anyway what they believed about it. So why even deal with it?

    In addition, notice that Paul argued logically (i.e., “IF…THEN…”)and showed the implications of their false doctrine. He then shows that the implication of their doctrine was false. Therefore, the doctrine itself was false. He knew that any doctrine which implies a false doctrine is itself false.


  60. Ben Overby Says:


    Paul brought it up because it’s important for us to understand the nature of the resurrection especially when compared to other views.

    But the brain, like the eye is inhabited by sin, and our transformation is a process, not a one-off event. Structural evil works its way into our bodies (sarx, flesh) so that before we know it, we sin as naturally as we breathe. As Paul put it, we find it to be a principle that when we want to do right, evil lies close at hand. We delight in the law of God in our inner being, but we also see another law in our flesh, waging war against the law of our mind and making us captive to the law of sin in our flesh. We’re delivered from this body of death in Christ. But our thoughts and emotions continue to be inclined toward sin until, by the Spirit, we put to death the body of sin.

    We are weakened by the flesh, Josh. You don’t plant a tiny apple tree today and eat from its fruit tomorrow. It takes time for the covetous person to discipline the self so that covetousness dies off. And it takes time to understand things, like the physical resurrection when our worldview is so entirely inhabited by Platonistic notions of good and evil, the virtue of the spiritual as compared to the evil of the physical. Seriously. Try it with any group of Christians. Insist that the form of resurrection body does matter, and that we’ll be raised with new bodies, composed of a new physicality that will not die, get sick, etc., just like the one Jesus has.

    There are implications to believing Plato’s view of the afterlife rather than Paul’s. But regardless of those implications, people don’t always get the truth immediately, just like they don’t stop committing adultery immediately. That’s right! A man might stop having an affair when he becomes a Christian, but that doesn’t mean he’s stopped lusting. But Jesus wants complete transformation, not just surface righteousness. An adulterer isn’t just the man who’ll sleep with your wife, he’s the man who would if he could get away with it. If it takes a process of discipleship to rid our bodies of lusts, then can’t we see that it takes a process to rid our minds of error, and even the best of us will never reach perfection of the body, mind, emotions, or spirit in this life? So Paul was patient with the people he taught. We can stop the hemorrhaging immediately (surface sin), but it takes quite a while to apply the cure for the source of the bleeding (inner transformation). He understood the human and understood the curse of an external religion.

    You see, if we don’t accept that transformation is a process and give it time, while at the same time being very concerned about righteousness, we essentially doom ourselves to an external religion. We will focus on the surface stuff we can control (most of the time) without going to the deeper problem. We’ll suppose sanctification is a one-time event, expecting that we’ll be changed from the inside out without the need for the first bit of discipline. It’s this attitude that breeds hypocrisy, play acting, Christianity without Christlikeness. Who could have guessed the religious leaders of Jesus’ day were a bunch of jealous murderers? They were white washed logicians full of dead mens’ bones.

    Should we divide over the resurrection/afterlife issue? That’s just one example of the inconsistent application of fellowship applied by those who presently dangle the keys to the kingdom.

    ben o

  61. Royce Says:

    Ben O, You are my hero for the day! Well said.


  62. Ed Boggess Says:

    In Ac 8 Simon believed error and it was error in which his soul was at risk. He believed he could buy what the apostle’s had. Peter responded, “Repent”. He could not have held this error very long for the apostle’s had only come recently to lay hands on folks. Nonetheless it was error that “your money perish with you for you thought . . .” Does this mean that everyone or anyone that holds a false thought is at risk? Peter also revealed, “for your heart is not right”. I believe this is the distinction. Why do Phil, Greg or I work with people who are obviously in error, patiently teaching, encouraging, forbearing; yet at the same time teach and believe that error can and does condemn? Is it inconsistent? No more so than Paul and the Corinthians. Can a disciple be saved believing in error? Yes. Can a disciple be lost when he presumptuously chooses error over truth or carelessly allows self-deception? If Simon teaches us anything, then yes.

  63. ben Says:


    You make an important distinction, maybe THE important distinction. Presumption. However some give the impression that all error is presumptuous, or else suppose they are in a position to determine how long an error can be held “innocently” and at what point it becomes presumptuous. This is where the complexity resides. We don’t know hearts. How do you distinguish between the person who carelessly allows self-deception and the person who is just immature in his process toward greater understanding? We try to teach the word like math, worse still, like complex geometry, insisting that people see implications that require much focus and some maturity, people who are too busy trying to live their lives to spend countless hours locked away in a library learning demorgans theorem so that they can unlock the mysteries surrounding the so-called sin of instrumental music in worship or the supposed wickedness of women passing out the lord’s supper.

    ben overby

  64. K. Rex Butts Says:


    You hit the nail right square on the head when it comes to the struggle with the flesh/sinful nature and our transformation (what Paul would describe as justification, sanctification, and glorification). I will add that sometimes, as much as we would like otherwise, that struggle with lust, anger, greed, etc… will never go away until Christ returns and we our transformed to be like Jesus (1 Jn 3.2). In this verse, the word that is translated “like him” implies a bodily resurrection and transformation rather than the plantonic theory – that is, unless we are ready to deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus. This is the same reason why Paul in 1 Cor 15 begins with the resurrection of Jesus because Jesus is the beginning (the “first fruits” 1 Cor 15.20) of the resurrection, Jesus and then those who belong to Jesus but it is still one event. In 1 Cor 15 there is a question as to whether our resurrection body will be a brand new (as in totally different) body or an old but very new (as in restored) body. I don’t know the answer to that one. I wrote a paper on this subject at HUGSR but then have changed my mind back and forth since.

    As for understanding the bodily resurrection, I believe the NLT is a good translation to begin with. For instance, 1 Cor 15.54 in the NLT reads “Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die…”

    It is sort of funny to hear you mention people getting all worked up because you are teaching a bodily resurrection. I have encountered some of the same reactions myself, although I have also found some Christians who were finally glad to hear a preacher/teacher speaking on this.

    Your brother in Christ,


  65. Josh Kraft Says:


    Would your same “logic” apply to ALL DOCTRINAL ERRORS or just this particular one on the part of some of the Corinthians?


    P.S. I urge you to reconsider your view of Romans 7. In his argument Paul is discussing the man under the Law of Moses and not himself as a Christian.

  66. K. Rex Butts Says:


    You’ve missed the point of Romans 7. Regardless of who Paul is refering to (which I seriously doubt he has in mind a man under the Old Covenant in mind at this point), his point is that no matter how much we want to do good we will still fail to do so and therefore we are utterly dependent upon God’s rescue of us in Jesus Christ. The point for our application is that is that no matter how much we try for perfect knowledge and perfect repentance, we will still fail but our weakness is not God’s weakness. We can therefore have assurance that God will save us despite our weak flesh because there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.

    Your brother in Christ,


  67. Josh Kraft Says:

    Even assuming that all you say is true I must ask…

    What does any of this have to do with teaching and/or fellowshipping damnable false doctrine(i.e., doctrine that corrupts one’s morals, perverts worship, prevents a person from being saved, etc)?

    Your “logic” reminds me of those who use John 8 (“Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”)to forbid a congregation from practicing 1 Cor 5. Nobody that I know of has ever claimed to be perfect or sinless. So that canard is a strawman and that dog ain’t gonna hunt.
    God doesn’t require perfection. He requires faithfulness. And teaching and/or fellowshipping damnable false doctrine is about as far from faithfulness as the east is from the west.

  68. ben Says:


    Before I answer your question about applying my “logic” to other matters of doctrine, it would be nice to know if you are, or intend to be, consistent with what you’ve already said on the subject. Are you going to withdraw fellowship from those who deny that we will be raised with a physical body? If not, I’d like to know why not? If so, what other criteria will you use to determine when to make the break? I mean, it’s obvious you believe Paul would have eventually withdrew from the Corinthians over the resurrection issue. I’m wondering why this issue (a foundational doctrine) has received so little attention from coc leadership while other issues 13,000 paces from the cross get so much attention.

    As to Ro. 7, it doesn’t make any difference whether he’s talking about himself as a Christian or a man under law. The principle is the same, isn’t it? When you want to do what is right, do you find evil lying close at hand or were you suddenly able to do all the right things after baptism? What about a few days after your baptism, was your flesh suddenly freed from the sin that was in it? Frankly, most Christians I know can’t say no to a donut, much less a covetous dabbling or a moment of jealous pleasure. With MY mind I delight in the law of Christ, but I still notice another law in my flesh, my neuro system, engrained in my various social context, etc., and it wages war against the law of my mind. Jesus commands us to die to the self, but the self goes out kicking and screaming.

    The liberty anticipated at my baptism didn’t become an instant reality with reference to my thinking, my emotions, my body, or my spirit. I’m a reconstruction project, not a rabbit yanked from a magical baptistery. So, it makes no difference to me whether Paul was under the law or not in Ro. 7. The fact remains that he goes on to argue that there’s no condemnation for those of us in Christ because of Jesus, and because of the work of His Spirit, and to tie this in with the earlier discussion, because the Spirit was able to raise Jesus from the dead (read ch. 8 slowly). If that same Spirit is in us then he’ll give life to our otherwise dead bodies. It’s by the Spirit, Paul says, that we put to death the deeds of the body. Yet some would have us believe the Spirit doesn’t dwell in us.

    Is it any surprise that the chickens are coming home to roost in those congregations that explicitly deny the Spirit as literally dwelling in our bodies, and who also could care less if the resurrection is physical or a platonic life after death experience? And yet, those who stand tall in these place feel qualified to manage the kingdom of God, inventing hermeneutical systems, and dictating to each other who’s in and who’s out—doesn’t it border on the absurd?

    What changes when we enter Christ is that we have hope firmly rooted in the resurrection of Jesus. If the Spirit can take a body twisted and ripped to shreds by Sin—Jesus’ cold dead body, then I’m firmly convinced that same Spirit living in me can give life to my body, a body killed by sin before I even knew what was happening to it. Take away the resurrection, take away the indwelling Spirit (or make him into a word only “influence”), and you basically have a human captive to sin who can’t do any better and learns to manage righteousness through hypocrisy—play acting.

    ben overby

  69. Josh Kraft Says:

    You ask if I’m going to withdraw fellowship from those who deny that we will be raised with a physical body. If any hold to it as a private view I wouldn’t know it unless they told it. If it is a new Christian or a brother who in private expresses this view to me I will bear with them patiently until they are taught the way of the Lord more accurately. OTOH if it is a preacher or teacher who teaches it PUBLICLY he should be condemned and—unless he repents—he should be withdrawn from.

    You ask why this issue hasn’t received much attention from the leadership within churches of Christ whereas other issues have. Could it be because they didn’t think that it was an issue? Something becomes an issue when a controversy arises over a particular thing. If it seems that everyone is in agreement over something then there is no issue toward which to give much attention.

  70. K. Rex Butts Says:

    You are right Josh, God requires faithfulness. The point of Romans 7 is that even are faithfulness fails. And part of that failed faithfulness could just be that even in our best attempt to teach what we believe is the truth, we could be teaching an error (that is, unless we want to claim we are perfect).

    As for your question… Part of the problem is that their is no consistant criterion among the conservative side of the CoC to determine what is a dammable false teaching/belief/practice not to mention the inconsistent lists of such purported claims of falsity among the conservative CoC (which is the original point of this entire blog).

    Now I am going to go and preach the hippie-love gospel while I still believe that the greatest and second-greatest commands have something to do with loving God and neighbor. 🙂 I’m teasing with you a bit. But in all seriousness… I have enjoyed the dialogue but since we are probably not going to see eye to eye on this issue, we’ll just have to lovingly agree to disagree at this point.

    Your brother in Christ,


  71. Josh Kraft Says:

    “…[P]art of that failed faithfulness could just be that even in our best attempt to teach what we believe is the truth, we could be teaching an error (that is, unless we want to claim we are perfect)….”

    “…Part of the problem is that their is no consistant criterion among the conservative side of the CoC to determine what is a dammable false teaching/belief/practice not to mention the inconsistent lists of such purported claims of falsity among the conservative CoC….”

    So we aren’t perfect and shouldn’t even claim that we are. Nay, never!

    And yet the “liberal side of the CofC” DEMANDS that we be perfect when it comes to fellowship and the consistent application of it.

    O Consistency, thou art a rare jewel!LOL!

  72. Ben Overby Says:

    Maybe, Josh, it’s treated the same way the subject of the Spirit is treated. I’ve heard both pushed aside under the banner, “They aren’t salvation issues.”

    Leaders will fight to the death over petty issues like women passing out the Lord’s supper, supposing it is a salvation issue. I’m back to my original point. The whole thing raises suspicion. Weighty issues are treated lightly and light issues are treated heavily and with little rhyme or reason except that bro. Joe decided to make an issue of thing.

    And by the way, since when is teaching a “false” doctrine the prime or only source of error? We present our worldview as much by what we don’t say as by what we do say. If something like the physical resurrection isn’t an issue, maybe it’s because it “ain’t” being taught. Back at TBC we were told we could know a brother was weak in the faith if he didn’t ever shuck the corn, peeling the hide off a variety of false teachers we constantly had in our sights. We had to name them publically, or else be considered weak, or false ourselves.

    There’s no end to what people will do in an effort to manage the kingdom, or the excuses they’ll come up with in order to explain their inexplicable inconsistency.

    ben o

  73. Alan Says:

    And yet the “liberal side of the CofC” DEMANDS that we be perfect when it comes to fellowship and the consistent application of it.

    I think you have missed the whole point of the grace conversation. Many conservatives publicly call out progressives as apostate. Progressives naturally take issue with that and are insisting on a sound biblical basis for such a charge. It is not inconsistent nor unreasonable in any way to expect an explanation for that, nor to examine that explanation to see if it is sound.

  74. Josh Kraft Says:


    I don’t hold to a literal indwelling. Is my denial of the teaching of a literal indwelling a salvation issue or not? If it ISN’T then you are “griping and complaining” about something that you hold to yourself and you are being inconsistent in attacking those who say that it isn’t a salvation issue. OTOH if it IS a salvation issue then you are likewise being inconsistent with your liberal creed and dogma.

    What is so wrong with our “inexplicable inconsistency” if we all are “brothers in error” and aren’t perfect? After all we are “covered by grace.” Why do you liberals then look down on a brother for whom Christ died? Hmmm?


  75. Josh Kraft Says:

    Question: Is the doctrine on fellowship that “conservative” brethren hold an error that is covered by grace?

  76. Alan Says:

    What is so wrong with our “inexplicable inconsistency” if we all are “brothers in error” and aren’t perfect?

    I don’t consider you apostate for your unbelief in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I just consider you mistaken. OTOH many conservatives do consider progressives apostate for disagreeing with conservative positions on selected doctrines.

    With the judgment you use, you will be judged. Judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. So, there is a risk in calling someone apostate. When we do that, we set the standard that will be used on ourselves.

    It is fascinating to see people in their old age becoming more tolerant of others. There is something about seeing his own judgment draw near that compels a wise man to extend mercy rather than judgment.

  77. Josh Kraft Says:

    No, I don’t think that I have missed the point of the grace conversation. It is the “progressives” who are the ones making the charge that “conservatives” are wrong on fellowship. It is the “progressives” who are bringing forth a “new doctrine” and demanding that “conservatives” submit to it. One of their arguments is that the “conservative” view is wrong because it is not consistently applied. (Liberals clearly aren’t very good at logic.)Thus, we are in effect being told, “Be sinlessly perfect in the application of fellowship…or else.”

  78. Alan Says:

    It is the “progressives” who are the ones making the charge that “conservatives” are wrong on fellowship.

    Ah, but you have missed the point.

    This is a discussion of what makes one apostate and the implications of that for fellowship. The progressives are not accusing the conservatives of being apostate, and have not broken fellowship with the conservatives. It is the conservatives who have done those things. It is not the progressives, but the conservatives, who have been breaking fellowship for over a century.

  79. Josh Kraft Says:

    I disagree. “Conservatives” didn’t “split the log.” There was once unity until “progressives” came along pushing “new doctrines” and bringing division to the Body of Christ. To say otherwise would be like the Judaizers claiming that Paul was being divisive or the Gnostics claiming that John was breaking fellowship.

  80. Dusty Chris Says:

    Of course, Josh, but the progressives are in the same position. That is the beauty of grace, it is unearned. The grace of God gives us an opportunity get right with God, and to experience his love. I think as long as we are open to the movement of God and want Jesus Christ to change our lives, the patience, grace and mercy of God is our gift.

    But that is also true of everyone who calls upon the name of Jesus and declares him as Lord.

  81. Dusty Chris Says:

    I don’t look down on people who don’t believe nor do I judge them. I have hope that someday you will understand but that is entirely up to God for the timing. That is not to say that progressives are more mature or more evolved that conservatives, not at all. We are in a different place…different not necessary better.

    To me there is such greatness in the freedom that comes through Christ. It’s like getting a gift for Christmas and never opening it, never to see what is possible. But if your current position is working for you, great!

    I hear some hear believing in the indwelling of the Spirit but I am curious to how many actually have experienced the indwelling of the Spirit to where they were exhibiting thr gifts of the Spirit. Believing in it and having it are two entirely different things.

  82. Ben Overby Says:


    It’s easy to pigeon hole, but just keep in mind that I’ve never suggested that we shouldn’t, at times, remove fellowship with someone who’s a false teacher or immoral. I have some progressive and conservative tendencies. I’m not one or the other—at least in my opinion. : ) I try to be faithful to God without respect to political pressure, social pressure, etc., though I’m terribly imperfect.

    For instance, the stuff of Galatians is deadly. It leaves people dependent on the flesh for justification. Paul is clear about the fact that those who promote such a thing and accept such a thing have fallen from grace. When we fail to teach grace, the work of the Spirit in the transformation of our lives (e.g., ro. 8), or teach it in such a way that we are still self reliant, we promote the same error Paul warned about.

    Because of smoke and mirrors it can be really hard to pin someone down who is promoting self-justification. For me, however, I just look at the product of the teaching. I don’t care what GM says about the quality of its company—what matters to me is whether or not their car will get me to town and back (therefore, I own three Hondas!). If the gospel that’s being taught is leaving people rather joyless and lacking peace (inner and outer), if it’s generated a people who can articulate the 5 steps, give sophisiticated answers about why IM is wrong, who know all about Nadab and Abihu but nothing of Eleazar and Ithamar, a people who have yet to get their imaginations around Ro. 8.18f and the liberation of all creation (not just the humans)—the very hope Paul says we’re saved in; if it’s creating a people who know more about how to divide than to add, then I know it isn’t the gospel Jesus preached.

    So, the proof is in the pudding (I say again). What sort of disciples are we making? If the conservatives are generating disciples who rely to much on the self and obsess over petty issues, then are the progressives any better if the gospel they’re teaching generates vampire Christians, who suck Jesus blood-dry for forgiveness, but never get around to becoming like Him?

    There’s too much room for error in our judgment of each other in a forum such as this, so I’ll refrain from such judgment. What indicates the result of a minister’s work in the kingdom, with a good deal more certitude than one’s capacity for debate, is the sort of disciples resulting from his teaching.

    If we could all step out of ourselves and just take a look at our fruit, the result of our labor in the kingdom, then we might get some clarity as to what we’re actually teaching. If we’re making disciples of the church of Christ, we’d better make haste in repenting! If we’re making disciples who simply have an updated vocabulary and more modern worship style, who know all about Eleazar and Ithamar but have never heard of Nadab and Ibihu, who talk of the Spirit but bear none of His fruit, then we better make haste to repent.

    I don’t look down on you, Josh. I don’t even know you, or hardly anything about what you believe, teach, etc. My words are a reflection of my experiences struggling against a mindset that insists on justification on the basis of social identity–church of Christness (the galatian problem). I’m not even sligthtly embarrased to say that it is a sinful reality. The alternative isn’t antinomianism—or at least it doesn’t have to be. Cheap grace is just cheap. It isn’t grace. Maybe, discussions like this can do something to bring balance to the churches of Christ.

    As to the Spirit, I’ve been noted as a false teacher because I taught what the Bible says on the subject without trying to make the subject fit into Modernism’s categories. I don’t think you have to see it the same way I do in order for us to work together in fellowship. We need to be kind and patient. We’d part company if your belief led people to trust in themselves rather than Jesus. However, I’ve never received tit for tat, being described as a false teacher because I believe the Spirit of God dwells in us as per Ro. 8 and other explicit passages.

    And in a debate with a brother in Chattanooga a few years ago, he stood on the platform, red faced, screaming at me in front of his congregation of a few hundred, saying—Yes, I believe you will lose your soul, and all those who follow you! Why did he feel that way? Essentially, because I ate food in the building. CENI was his weapon and a social identity as a sub category within the churches of Christ was his to defend and promote. And when baptizing hundreds while working with soldiers at Ft. Benning, it was determined by some that I couldn’t have been teaching the gospel. I must have been watering it down, it was supposed. Some good men from the community visited. They were troubled. They insisted that before I baptized anyone else, I give them a copy of “Why I’m a Member of the Churches of Christ,” and make sure they understood the material before baptizing.

    Those are just snapshots to give you a sense of where I’m coming from.

    I don’t have theories about the various movements within the churches of Christ. None of this is an academic exercise for me. I don’t look down on those who disagree. Before throwing in the towel by dropping out of ministry a year and half ago, I’d lived, in exquisite detail the struggle we’re engaged in relative to our identity. And there are countless other nameless men who’ve gone through the same sausage grinder. I just wish, for the sake of God’s glory, some of the differences could be resolved. Living together is difficult. Worldviews are clashing. The question is, who will we become?

  83. Alan Says:

    There was once unity until “progressives” came along pushing “new doctrines” and bringing division to the Body of Christ.

    120 years ago it was Daniel Sommer and his conservative allies who pronounced the Address and Declaration, declaring that churches with a paid preacher were not Christian for that reason… and churches that raise funds by bake sales and the like are not Christian for that reason… and similarly for having a choir, for supporting a missionary society, for supporting preacher colleges… and yes, even for instrumental music. It wasn’t the progressives who declared the split.

    I agree that progressives introduced the practices that conservatives used as the reason for the split. Where those practices caused a split in a local congregation, that was wrong. They should have followed Paul’s example not to eat meat, nor drink wine, nor do anything else that would cause a brother to stumble. But where the congregation as a whole agreed with the practice, introducing the practice was not divisive. The divisiveness came from conservatives in other places who felt the need to exercise judgment over distant congregations. Claiming to believe in autonomy, they violated autonomy for the sake of eradicating disagreement between congregations.

  84. Alan Says:

    …I am curious to how many actually have experienced the indwelling of the Spirit to where they were exhibiting the gifts of the Spirit.

    Having the indwelling Spirit and exhibiting miraculous gifts are two different things. The indwelling Spirit can have an effect without making a dramatic display.

    Joh 3:8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

  85. Royce Says:

    The most important thing “the indwelling Spirit” will do is glorify Jesus.


  86. Glenn Dowling Says:

    Ben, I confess that I do not know your whole story but have read enough to know your struggle is in the right direction. I am a Church of Christ drop out. I serve as an elder in a conservative Presbyterian Church and read with absolute disbelief the comments by the dogmatic CoC members. Have they not heard that God saves, and that Christ “will lose not one” How sad. CoC do not believe in original sin nor in the “security of the believer.” That, my brother IS the other gospel warned about in Galatians. Be encouraged!

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