Archive for July 2009

What the Bible actually says about apostasy: 1 John and Walking in the Light, Chapters 1 – 2

July 15, 2009

by Jay Guin

The theme of 1 John is repeatedly stated in the book. John writes to tell his readers how to tell whether they are saved — and he writes with confidence that they are. Over and over, John draws a line — if you’re on this side of the line, you’re saved; if you’re on the other side, you’re not. It’s a simply written book filled with profundity.

Trying to discern the conservative position

Mac frequently refers to 1 John 1:7,

Can a man maintain faithfulness to God while imperfectly walking in the light? If he is in the light, he is in the light. I do not quibble over human weakness. We all have already admitted such. Can a man perfectly believe? Can he perfectly repent? Can he perfectly make the good confession? Can he perfectly or absolutely correctly be baptized? Can he perfectly or correctly walk in truth?

At times, we seem to be in agreement with Mac on this. Of course, all Christians are imperfect and sin. Of course, they can still be in the light despite their imperfection and sin. The hard question is: when does sin become so severe that the Christian leaves the light and passes into darkness? When does sin cause a Christian to fall from grace?

As we read over Greg’s, Phil’s, and Mac’s posts, we find ourselves unable to discern just what their position really is. They say that all sin and all error damn until repented of. And penitence requires that the Christian no longer engage in the sin. But if a Christian continues in a given sin, he has not repented of it — or else he would have stopped that sin, right? Which means the Christian must be perfect to be saved! (more…)

What the Bible actually says about apostasy: Introduction

July 15, 2009

by Jay Guin

If you think about it, it’s astonishing how far apart the conservative and progressive positions are given how much we agree on. We agree —

  • That Christians must be penitent and obedient.
  • That Christians who are insufficiently penitent or obedient can lose their salvation.

The question on which we disagree is just how penitent/obedient must a Christian be to stay saved? The conservative position remains — after months of blogging — inconsistently defined, but evidently a Christian is lost just as soon as he sins — morally or doctrinally — until he repents by admitting the sinfulness of that conduct and no longer being guilty of that conduct (subject to whatever degree of patience God extends to that Christian).

However, it also appears that a Christian remains saved, by grace, so long as he is walking in the light — which allows for some error due to moral or doctrinal weakness, which error hasn’t been defined for us.

Rather that battling back and forth over proof texts, we thought it would be more helpful to trace how this very question is answered by three different authors —John, the author of Hebrews, and Paul. You see, the question of apostasy is a major theme in the New Testament, and so we are able to cite entire epistles in support of our understanding. (more…)

The Incoherence of the Conservative Position, Part 2

July 13, 2009

by Jay Guin

It’s time to take a position

At the beginning of our dialogue, Greg and Phil agreed to begin by stating their position on apostasy and then defending it. Months later, we don’t have even a statement of a position — other than the one we wrote, that Greg and Phil agreed to (with one exception noted by Phil), and that Mac immediately contradicted in several ways. It’s unfair to ask us to accept a position that changes every few paragraphs.

We understand that our questions may have led Mac and Phil to rethink their views. If so, that’s fine. We just wish they’d let us know what their position is now.

  • As we agreed at the very beginning, please state your position on apostasy succinctly and in terms that you can consistently argue from. If Mac and Phil have different positions, please note the differences or, if necessary, provide separate statements.

Incoherence of the conservative position

Mac’s position dramatically shifts throughout his post. If the conservative view of apostasy were true, we’d think that after over a century of advocacy, it would be simple to state the position and defend it as stated. And yet, our conservative friends can’t do it.

As Todd demonstrated to great effect in his book Facing Our Failure, the conservative thought leaders have never stated a position that is consistent with their other teaching. That is, as quickly as a conservative states a doctrine of apostasy, he contradicts it — just as Mac has done here. And this fact amply shows the incoherence of the conservative points of view. (more…)

The Incoherence of the Conservative Position, Part 1

July 13, 2009

by Jay Guin and Todd Deaver

It appears to us that the position of our conservative friends is logically incoherent — so much so that it can’t even be plainly stated.

By referring to the conservative position as “incoherent,” we mean that it doesn’t cohere — it doesn’t hold together. Rather, the conservative advocates find themselves constantly changing their position on a purely ad hoc basis. Nor can they agree among themselves.

We began this conversation months ago asking the conservative side to succinctly state their position. After numerous posts, we were obliged to attempt to do that for them, which we did in the “Where We Stand” post. (more…)

Introduction to the Next Series of Posts by Todd and Jay

July 13, 2009

by Jay Guin and Todd Deaver

Mac’s recent series of posts raises a host of questions that beg for answers. However, to go through each point and fully answer each one would severely test that patience of both our readers and our correspondents. And so, for now, we want to focus on a few points that are at the heart of our disagreement.

Therefore, our first two posts will address a number of inconsistencies we see in Mac’s posts, seeking to show the overall incoherence of the conservative position.

We will then address the question that this discussion began with: what do the passages of scripture that actually deal with falling away say?

Finally, having established certain of the fundamental Biblical principles that govern the doctrine of apostasy, we’ll address these key questions posed by Mac —

* What’s the difference between imperfect obedience and disobedience?

* Why teach a Christian God’s will on a subject when God’s grace will cover sins committed by a penitent Christian in unintentional ignorance of God’s will?

* How can salvation be by faith and not works, and yet works be the necessary consequence of salvation?

These are, of course, very serious questions, and they are questions directly answered by the scriptures.

We expect post the three parts of our response every-other day, that is, Monday (today), Wednesday, and then Friday.

Mac’s Response To Todd’s And Jay’s Answers, Part 4

July 1, 2009

Response to Jay’s and Todd’s Post Concerning Repentance

by Mac Deaver

Now let us consider Jay’s and Todd’s most recent post concerning repentance.

First, Jay and Todd find fault with the concept that (1) if there is no cessation of the sin, then there is no repentance of it, and that (2) repentance must be with regard to all sin in a person’s life. So, with regard to the first point, they are claiming that one can repent and continue in the sin of which he repents! That is certainly a redefinition of repentance that amounts to a cancellation of repentance and amounts to an unintentional attack on the process of actual conversion. I cannot repent of slapping you as I continue to slap you. If I can repent of slapping you while I continue the practice of slapping you, what could repentance possibly mean? The very concept of repentance evaporates before our eyes. The very concept of Jay and Todd leads to the continuation of practiced sin while one allegedly enters the church. This is not an extension of grace; it is a corruption of the church. It eliminates the possibility of conversion. It turns the church back into the world. (more…)

Mac’s Response To Todd’s And Jay’s Answers, Part 3

July 1, 2009

Mac’s Answers to Jay’s and Todd’s Questions

by Mac Deaver

Now we turn to their new questions for us:

1. Yes, as for me, I will accept your summation as adequate for our discussion. On the summation itself Phil offers the following:

I object to the statement: “Not all doctrinal error damns.” I rather affirm, “All doctrinal error can lead to eternal damnation.” Any human teaching or opinion has the potential to lead people away from God (Col.2:6-8). (more…)

Mac’s Response To Todd’s And Jay’s Answers, Part 2

July 1, 2009

Mac’s Response to Todd’s and Jay’s Summary

by Mac Deaver

Now we go to their summary:

They suggest that their “conservative friends” want it both ways but cannot have it both ways. They say that we admit that all Christians continue to sin and need grace and do, in fact, receive forgiveness. But we also say that some sins damn (are excluded from continual grace).Yet, we refuse to provide the list of all those that do damn the souls of saints. But, why should we have to provide an exhaustive list? I will provide an accurate and exhaustive list of those that damn right after they provide an accurate and exhaustive list of all of those that do not. The fact is, that even in those lists of sins which we have in the New Testament which God provided for us himself, not one list is exhaustive in the sense of thorough specific itemization. Each list is, however, exhaustive in principle, but not in the sense that every possible sin is mentioned specifically so that it is distinguished from every other possible sin (Gal.5:19-21; Rom.1:28-32; 1 Tim.1:8-11). If God himself never provided a complete list of sins, then why should I feel compelled to give a complete list of possible damning errors of which people can be guilty or could be guilty and the exact situations that would have to obtain in order for those sins in those particular circumstances to damn souls? (more…)

Mac’s Response To Todd’s And Jay’s Answers: Part 1

July 1, 2009

Jay’s and Todd’s Answers to Mac’s Questions

by Mac Deaver

T  F 1. You say that the statement “Obedience to Christ is a type of work (Jno.6:29; Heb.5:8, 9; Eph.2:10) is not precise enough to answer either true or false. You claim that there is “sharp distinction” between (1) obedient acts done in order to receive salvation and (2) obedient acts done because one already has salvation. Yes, and we can agree if “salvation” refers to the salvation from past sins granted when one becomes a Christian! However, are you willing to claim that there is a sharp distinction between (1) obedience in order to become a Christian and (2) obedience in order to remain a faithful one? Where does that sharp distinction appear? When we say that we must continue to obey we are not saying that (1) one must continue to obey in order to contribute to his initial salvation or conversion (and you realize this), but we are saying that (2) one must continue to obey in order to maintain his righteous standing before God or to maintain his salvation in Christ. We are to “work out” our own salvation (Phil.2:12), and that is obedience (Heb.5:8, 9). The statement was precise enough. You failed to deal with because you would have to admit, as the Scriptures show, that there is work to be done to contribute to the “ongoingness” of salvation. (more…)