Some Questions Arising From My Recent Post on the John MacArthur Controversy

Anthony Baker, from Therecoveringlegalist.com, had some excellent questions for me following my post on “A Response to the John MacArthur Controversy…”

I answered him in a commentary reply, but I wanted to expand on these answers just a bit and allow for others to wrestle with them as well, and to chime in if the Spirit moves.

Thank you, Anthony, for the great, probing, questions:

First, I must say that I am very concerned with the glee and anticipation of evangelical Christianity falling by the wayside, fundamental or not. I tend to wonder what others consider the options to be? Is it only the legalists and the Pharisees that are being ushered off the cliff with rejoicing? Or, is there really a problem with proactive Christianity as a whole? Do I hear the voices of biblical grace, or is it simply the post-modern, pluralistic mindset calling all to dance at the funeral of dogma?

Are there no other options for the future of Christianity other than evangelic or fundamentalism? Do you not see any other options, thoughts, or ideas?

Also, you use words like “glee”, “anticipation”, “rejoicing”, and “dancing at the funeral” about those who you deem as seeing an imminent end to the evangelic or fundamental mindset. Though I grant you that a small percentage within the more progressive outlook would likely feel these emotions, I don’t know of any reasonable Christian, no matter their views, who would feel this way about anyone whose beliefs may differ even though those views may be losing hold on the majority opinion. If mine, or anyone else I have sited, now or in the past, have made it appear as if I am gleeful or rejoicing to see this more conservative thinking being called out, I apologize, though I do not retract the need to call these (in my humble opinion) antiquated opinions out, if for no other reason than the harm that they do, and for the sheer lack of grace, humility and mercy shown by those opinions.

Whether or not this is the intention of those stating that opinion, I have no idea, but this is the way it tends to come across…especially to those about whom they are so callously speaking. This is not “speaking the truth in love”. The speaker does not get to decide whether or not what is said is loving. The hearer makes that decision, simple as that. And if the hearer does not “feel the love”, maybe it’s time we—all of us Christians—change our approach.

I suppose this would be my own personal offering of “another option”.

…the quote of Benjamin Corey (linked here) does nothing to put 1 Corinthians in the proper context. All he does is water down, if not muddy what should have been perfectly clear: blatant, unrepentant sin cannot be allowed to run rampant, nor celebrated, within the church.

Personally, I felt that this was exactly the point Corey brought forth: blatant, unrepentant sin cannot be allowed to run rampant—the entire laundry list, not just one, and it’s time to stop the cherry-picking.

It’s rather easy to pull out one particular sin-du-jour, if only because  it is currently socially acceptable to do so, while not giving equal due to any of the other sins Paul points up as well. Not to mention, speaking of context, the sexual immorality that Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 5 has nothing to do with homosexuality.

I do not state the previous sentences lightly, but it bears repeating; it is socially acceptable, in today’s conservative Christian circles, even demanded and applauded, to single out this one sin and therefore ostracize an entire group of people. This should not be. This is not our job, even under the tired banner of “speaking the truth in love” as I said previously.

I suppose another “option” I would put forth is to, instead, invite people inside—all people, regardless of sin nature or past history—make room in the pews, invite them to a communal meal, develop a meaningful, heartfelt relationship, and let the Holy Spirit do His work—on both of you/us. That’s His job, and He’s rather good at it if we, well intended Christians, would simply get out of the way and let Him work. If Christians are going to throw around phrases like “we’re all sinners”, and “every sin is equal in the sight of the Lord”, and “none of us are any ‘better’”, then this should be the practical interpretation of those phrases.

Further, what do we know of anyone’s struggles, emotional or physical, and who are we to paint those struggles on a placard and hang it around the neck of someone with whom we disagree? And yes, I’m speaking to both sides of the proverbial fence here. We all wrestle with our own, often carefully hidden, sin habits. What if a well-meaning body of believers came together and cast you out after the seventh “failure” to turn away, unknowing that it would have been the eighth time that would have brought you “home”? How many times are we asked, by Jesus, to forgive? Seven times?

Trying to relate how Jesus was hated because He was the one who actually ate with sinners is completely (1000%) off the mark, completely out of context.

I would respectfully disagree here as well. Matthew 11 has Jesus saying:

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

And, Matthew 9 says (probably one of the dinners Jesus was speaking of):

10 Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?”

They may not have “hated” him, but they certainly questioned his choice of company and methodology (which sounds eerily similar to the conservative/progressive debate today).

And, what were the “sinners” sins? It never says, and my own belief is that it doesn’t say because that’s not the point. The point was Jesus’ example, as you have said, freely associating with the least of these (at least in society’s eyes) “in order draw them to Himself”. And here, you and I would be in agreement, which is in what I, too, said previously: invite them to a communal meal, develop a meaningful, heartfelt relationship, and let the Holy Spirit do His work. “…when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed…”

 

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