There are several big problems in the present Free Grace Food Fight. The first, and by far the most important, is a matter of character. “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is a folly and a shame to him.” There is far too little listening going on on all sides; most of the proponents of the major positions can’t give a fair representation of their opponents — or won’t even try. A faulty conception of Christian unity continues to plague our community. And some people simply shouldn’t be allowed in the discussion to start with.
Theologically, the last year or so of studying Scripture’s own handling of Scripture has produced a fundamental shift in my thinking with three notable results for this discussion. (I owe something to Van Til and Ralph Smith on the Trinity as well.) First, the gospel is not predominantly about delivering propositions. Second, evangelism is a fuller endeavor than most realize, more about storytelling than theologizing. Third, although propositions still matter, other things do as well, and the other things require more maturity to grasp.
I am still working through how to present this material in terms of an overall biblical theology of story and history/typology, which is where it’s all headed. As far as I can tell. Details TBA, but don’t hold your breath; this stuff takes time.
Below you’ll find some older material I’ve written on the Food Fight.
Orthodoxy, Character, Wisdom and Witness: An Open Letter to the Free Grace Community is a plea to all sides in the current teapot typhoon to adhere to biblical standards not only in the content of our doctrine, but in the manner of our conduct. Nothing is quite as ugly as an ungracious man preaching a gracious message.
In late 2007 the Free Grace Alliance, of which I am not a member, graciously invited me to sit on a couple of panels at their annual conference. In that setting, I was representing minority views on a couple of very volatile issues, and I thank the FGA for their courtesy to me; they were the very model of hospitality. At their request, I provided this brief for the moderator of one of the panels. The panel format itself consisted of opening statements from each panelist, followed by questions taken from the floor. I don’t have transcriptions of the question portion, but here are my opening statements for the panels on assurance and the relationship of the cross to the gospel (if you’ve listened to the audio, these are a little different, because I went off-script in some spots). Speaking of the audio, you can now listen to both the assurance panel and the cross panel here.
If you’re in a hurry, here’s the short version: it’s 80% personality conflicts and other relational sins seeking a convenient doctrinal issue over which to create a “respectable” division, and 20% real doctrinal substance. If you must be in it, your priorities should be first of all to conduct yourself blamelessly. Try making doctrinal truth your first priority and you’ll wind up conducting yourself as blamelessly as can be managed while you cheerfully bayonet everyone who disagrees with you, all the while patting yourself on the back for “defending the gospel.” Think I’m kidding? Look around.