Crock-Pot Theology

There are times when it is necessary to say nothing, to wait and grow.  There are also times when the growing is done, and it’s time to let your hard-won light shine.  We all go through such seasons.  I’m going through a wait-and-grow season vis-a-vis the Free Grace Food Fight presently, which is why I’ve had nothing to say about it for a while.

Then, too, different people have different gifts.  Some people are theological microwaves; pop in a question and get an answer back 30 seconds later.  Others are crock-pot theologians.  Answers may be few and far between, but rich and flavorful for having been so long in the preparation.

My friend Michele is such a person, and she’s just delivered a crock-pot feast over at Sanc’s Blog.  The specifics are aimed at a narrow segment of the Christian community; if you don’t live in that end of the pool, just let the references to modern-day Euodia and Syntyche pass you by.  The meat of the matter is accessible enough, and it’ll be a blessing to you, if you can hear it.

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34 Responses to Crock-Pot Theology

  1. Mike Bull says:

    Very thought-provoking link. Not sure if I’m familiar with the mind of the intended audience, but much to chew on. Thanks!

  2. Jeremy Myers says:

    Ha! When I first read this, I thought you were writing about crack-pot theology.

    The two are very different!

  3. Bro Tim,

    I think everyone would agree with you in principle, Tim. Personally, I still consider Zane C Hodges to be a “crock-pot theologian” par excellence. No one could reasonably accuse this man of using a microwave! However, in about 3 years of blogging, I’ve yet to find even a single blogger about which I could say the same, even though there are many who clearly consider themselves such. I’m just sayin…

    Grace and peace,
    Gary

  4. And no, just so I’m not misunderstood, my comment is not directed at Michele who I love dearly even if we disagree on some things.

    Gary

  5. Tim Nichols says:

    Gary,

    Well, we certainly agree that Zane was not a microwave! By way of clarification, I should say that I don’t mean “microwave” to be a disparaging term at all. One of the reasons the FG movement lost the LS battles of the ’80s was because we were very, very slow to put out usable resources, and the LS guys weren’t. We need guys who can give you the best answer available, right now. We need others that will stay quiet, and dig deep. Different gifts, and glory to God for all of it.

    I confess I am a little puzzled by the disclaimer in your second response here. I don’t question your love for Michele at all, but…well, let me see if I can articulate the source of my confusion. You respond to a post in which I call Michele a crock-pot theologian by saying that you haven’t seen any blogger who could live up to that title. Then you tell me that your comment is not directed at Michele — again, the only person to whom the title was being ascribed to start with. These two things seem a bit incongruent to me. Would you mind explaining what you’re driving at a little more clearly?

  6. Tim,

    You’re right, what I said is a little unclear. I didn’t mean to say that I’ve encountered no bloggers I would consider “crock-pot theologians”, because I think there ARE some of those in the blogosphere–some I respect a lot. I meant that I’ve not found any I would consider a “crock-pot theologian” of Zane’s caliber–i.e.,”par excellence”. And yet–let’s be honest–isn’t it true that it’s Zane’s views about the “saving message”, the sine qua non of saving faith, and the purpose of John’s Gospel that, at bottom, is at issue in what’s happening here and at Michele’s blog? So, I confess, there was an element of cynicism and/or sarcasm in my comment. Perhaps for that I owe you an apology since it was directed at you more than Michele. But it’s becoming increasingly clear to me as time goes on how much influence both you and JimR have had on her present views. You see, Tim, I’m convinced that the clarity Zane brought to these specific issues I mentioned above was his greatest contribution to the Free Grace movement, the church, and indeed, my own personal life. How could this be unimportant to me? How could I not be sensitive to it? On the other hand, I would be less than honest if I didn’t say that I’m deeply troubled by the highly subjective direction Michele’s theology and hermeneutical method seem to have taken (sorry Michele). It only confirms the apprehension I’ve always had from the beginning about what you and Jim are advocating. There is no getting around it: If what you, Jim, and Michele are espousing is true, then Zane’s views on these three crucial issues I’ve mentioned are WRONG. IOW–to simply be persuaded of the truth of Jesus’ promise of eternal life to every believer is NOT really true and/or adequate saving faith at all. To simply believe (=accept as true) “in His name” and/or “Jesus is the Christ” in this sense is not enough for one to be born again according to your view. There must also be a volitional element for our faith to be adequate and saving. This volitional element is, in fact, the sine qua non of true saving faith according to your view, is it not? And yet none of you are able to even clearly define what exactly this volitional element of faith really is and/or entails. Can’t you see how subjective all of this is? And how dangerous it is for the FG movement? If someone can be saved just by some kind of vague and indefinable volitional response to “God” at whatever level of propositional knowledge they have of Him, why do we even need a FG movement? The LS gospel, while it might be somewhat of a distortion, will work just as well for getting people saved in your view– as along as they make some kind of positive response which can’t really be clearly or objectively defined or measured from scripture, right?

    Is my assessment of your position wrong?

    Listen. I consider you, Jim, and Michele to be my brothers and sister in Christ and I love you as such. I’m even become quite fond of all three of you on the basis of our past interactions– honestly I have. And I’ve also made what I feel is a diligent effort to understand your views, if perhaps it is indeed a positive contribution to the FG movement. But in the end, I can only see one outcome of accepting your views–I absolutely MUST reject Zane’s views of the gospel if I am to accept yours. The problem with that for me is this: I’m still convinced that Zane as given compelling exegetical proof that his view is biblical while I’ve yet to see the same from you, Jim, and Michele. Furthermore, Zane’s view make SENSE to me, while your view seems inscrutable, experiential, subjective, mystical, etc. Unlike your view, Zane’s views can actually be rationally articulated while yours apparently cannot. A rainbow, however beautiful, is simply not convincing to me. Frankly, the more I try to even understand your views about the gospel and saving faith the more disoriented from all rationality I feel. I can’t express it any better than ADR has on Michele’s blog: It always leaves “…me feeling like I (am) floating on a cloud, respirating on pharmaceutical ether.” I don’t think I can top that. But didn’t I essentially tell you this weeks ago with my “Dark Side of the Moon” comment. I wasn’t really trying to be funny so must as give an honest analogy of how I was feeling at the time.

    Honestly, I hope all three of you will take this the right way because it’s not my intent to be mean-spirited at all. But I’m just very troubled by what I’m reading lately. And the hermeneutical method, if there is one, seems quite alien–something I’ve never encountered. While I consider all of you to be sincere, good, and intellectually gifted people, I can’t help but feel you’ve lost your epistemological, hermeneutical, and theological bearings. Your views of the gospel and the true nature of saving faith now seem adrift in a sea of subjectivity and mystical experience. But we’ve already been over all that haven’t we?

    I think ADR is doing a fine job over at Michele’s trying to address her questions and concerns, many of which are quite perceptive and legitimate on her part (Michele is among the sharpest and most perceptive of people I’ve ever known). In fact, I’m starting to think he’s now serving up a little of his own “crock-pot theology.” Hopefully, some light can be shed on these issues over there in the course of things.

    At this point, I feel it’s more my place to just sit in the bleachers, eat some popcorn, and see where it all leads. It took me a period of time to re-orient myself and get my feet back on the ground after my last trip here to the “Dark Side” with you and Jim. I guess I need some “crock-pot” time myself. The “crossless” debacle almost did me in…and then came the “Dark Side…” haha

    For me, there is only one bedrock truth of the gospel–“Jesus is the Christ”. As Jesus said, it is the ROCK on which the church is built. Anyone who understands what this means– as John’s Gospel illuminates it for us– and simply believes it’s true, HAS everlasting life. (Jn. 20:31; 1 Jn 5:1) In fact, the more I read the NT from Acts to Revelation the more aware I become of this ROCK staring me in the face on practically every page. It most often reads like this: “Jesus Christ” or “Christ Jesus”, i.e., Jesus is the Christ. But John’s Gospel has already explained that to us hasn’t it? And so has Zane C Hodges. Thank you Jesus~

    Grace and peace,
    Gary

  7. Tim Nichols says:

    Gary,

    Thank you, brother! This is an articulate, careful, considerate reply, and I appreciate it very much. You deserve response in kind, and I’m kinda crunched for time right now, a combination of church responsibilities, a publication deadline, and family coming into town tomorrow. It may take me a few days to compose an appropriate reply, but I want you to know up front that I’m not ignoring you. I’m grateful for your thought and care, and hoping to reciprocate. I truly hope you don’t mind waiting a bit; this is a conversation I really do want to have with you.

    In His service,
    Tim

  8. Jim Reitman says:

    Gary,

    Since Tim will be taking some time to reply, I just wanted to say that I agree completely with him above. I do understand your concerns but I believe Tim is in a better position than I to respond because he has a very similar background to you and ADR as far as his roots in FG are concerned. Zane’s earlier writing provided the main direction for my own theological development, beginning my last year at DTS (1982-3) and in the following decade. But Tim is much more familiar than I with Zane’s more recent work and also understands, better than I, the perceived pitfalls for FG of going down certain theological “roads.”

    I have spoken briefly with him about your post and we are not at all interested in retreating (to the “dark side”) from the deliverance Zane provided for so many mired in the assurance-curse of LS. I do not believe your assessment of our position(s) is “wrong” as much as incomplete, and I look forward to a healthy dialogue between you and Tim. Thanks for you careful and kind tone in the expression of your concerns. I truly hope everything is well with you and yours.

  9. Tim and Jim,

    Thank you for your kind response. It is much appreciated. I doubt it would be helpful or healthy to retread the same path of a discussion we’ve already had. As I mentioned above, my experience has not been a positive one in trying to engage you in these matters. It seems to me there is just too must of a disconnect between us epistemologically, hermeneutically, semantically, theologically, etc, to be realistically hopeful of a resolution. I came away last time feeling quite disoriented and disconcerted. I truly felt lost in the vacuum of space the more I contemplated your view of the gospel, saving faith, etc. It was only as I regained my orientation to the one and only ROCK (Jn 20:31) of the Christian faith that I began to regain my stability. This is why I’m genuinely concerned for you guys. I can’t help but believe you’ve drifted into some precarious terrain indeed.

    Anyway, may I leave you with these words of Zane? I trust you will recognize how germane they are to this discussion– and I will be content to give both of you the last word. Grace and peace to you.

    ______________________________

    “Today many evangelicals listen to the Siren song of what is now called postmodernism. The song sung by postmodern voices is a call to diversity and variety, whether social, sexual, philosophical or religious. No single statement of truth is be be preferred to some other statement, and the concept of absolute truth is severely disparaged. Tragically, some who profess to hold the biblical doctrine of God’s saving grace have argued that this doctrine can be couched in a variety of ways. No single articulation of the gospel should be given primacy over any other. A diversity of messages to the lost is not to be deplored, but rather can be wamly approved. But this point of view is an invitation to doctrinal shipwreck. To listen to its alluring music is to go off course and head for the rocks of theological confusion and error. The only way to avoid such calamity is to lash ourselves to the solid mast of divine revelation, or to stop our ears by filling them with God’s truth. This booklet is an effort to do that. In it we affirm that the biblical gospel of God’s saving grace is not a postmodern religious smorgasbord. Instead it is a divine revelation by which all other so-called “gospels” must be held to account.”

    [Did Paul Preach Eternal Life, Zane C Hodges, available through GES]

    “Unless the grace movement holds firmly to the uniqueness of the Biblical gospel and to the indispensability of the name of Jesus for salvation, it cannot hope to accomplish what it ought to accomplish for God. Indeed if it does not do these things, it may be buried under an ocean of false theology. It may be washed away by the experience-based religion that is all too rapidly rising to prominence, as our world hurtles toward
    divine judgment.

    So what’s my final word today? Here it is: Stay awake; it’s later than you think!”

    [The Spirit of Antichrist: Decoupling Jesus from the Christ, Zane C Hodges, Autumn 2007-Vol 20:39]

  10. Tim Nichols says:

    Gary,

    I guess this will be the last word here if you let it be, but I’d rather it wasn’t. I appreciate that you don’t want to endlessly churn the same ground over and over, but you were perfectly willing to raise the old issues again just a few days ago, and you did by far the best job you’ve ever done here of expressing your concerns. That could well lead to a whole different discussion than in the past. If it turns out that it doesn’t, feel free to say so and retire. But I really hope you won’t choose to deliver 2 pages of well-articulated concerns and then just say ‘never mind, let’s not talk about it.’

    I’ll center my response around two main issues: your assessment of my position, and the epistemology issue.

    Yes, your assessment of my position is wrong, on two points. First, you’re only half-right about having to reject Zane’s views in order to accept mine. There are aspects, yes, where Zane and I will clash, but I’m not tossing his work; I’m building on it. I accept much of it, as far as it goes. No doubt we’ll come back to this.

    Second, “There must also be a volitional element for our faith to be adequate and saving. This volitional element is, in fact, the sine qua non of true saving faith according to your view, is it not?” No, no, and NO! That is very much not what I’m saying at all. I’m going much, much deeper than that. I am rejecting the “intellect/volition/emotion” (hereinafter IVE) way of carving up the inner man, period. My position is *not* that we need to “put volition back into” the existing definition of faith in the IVE paradigm, but that the whole paradigm is unbiblical to start with. Given the IVE anthropology, Zane did the best he could do with it: receiving eternal life is not dependent on how you feel, so emotion is out; it sometimes happens to people who seem to be trying to avoid it (e.g., Saul of Tarsus), so volition is out; what’s left? But that anthropology is *not* a given.
    By way of analogy, if you’ve read Lewis Sperry Chafer, you know he was deeply devoted to grace. But he considered himself a 4-point Calvinist. In his mind, the only options were Calvinism of some variety, or Arminianism of some variety. Given those choices, he did the best he could with them — and he did quite well, too. But Zane was able to see that although soteriology debates had been framed in those terms for centuries, those were not the only two choices. Leaving them behind opened up a whole new world for us, and I’m grateful to him for it.
    I see something similar with IVE anthropology. Scripture doesn’t require us to submit to it; if we can shake off those shackles, then we’ll be free to engage Scripture more deeply than before, without the blinders that IVE anthropology imposes.

    Okay, the epistemology. Two of your comments particularly stood out to me here: “Unlike your view, Zane’s views can actually be rationally articulated while yours apparently cannot….Frankly, the more I try to even understand your views…the more disoriented from all rationality I feel.” I want to ask a little about your conception of rationality here. I know it sounds a little odd and academic, but hear me out. In the intelligent design debate, the neo-darwinians will often complain that ID is just irrational, that it’s not science at all. This is because, to them, materialism/naturalism is coextensive with rationality; appeal to anything outside the closed system of the material universe is irrational by definition. So they can’t get a handle on the debate as a result.

    I wonder if we’re not having a similar problem here. I grant that to make the points I am driving at, I find myself often using metaphors, pictures, and analogies — rainbows, moonstones, rays of light, marriage, parenting, and so on. Is this irrational, in your view? If it’s not that, what is it? What is it that causes you to stop and say “This isn’t rational!”?

  11. Tim,

    I see that you’ve again brought up issues that we’ve already discussed in the past. Since I essentially only need cite a couple of past comments to answer you, I decided to venture one last comment here. The following is a comment I made on your post “Why Assent to Intellect”, along with your response:

    ————————————————

    Gary Edmonson says:

    27 February 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Tim said:

    “Zane Hodges and GES took it a step further and cut the will out with the doctrine of passive faith (and I was in on that, and wrote a couple of articles in support of it).  When accused of preaching “mere intellectual assent,” we responded that there’s nothing mere about intellectual assent – that’s what belief is, and believing is all that’s required for salvation…Anyway, ‘intellect’ was never a biblical category to start with.  There’s nothing mandatory about it.  We did not derive it from diligent study of Scripture.  If we are going to have the category, we will need to defend it from the Bible.  I leave that job to someone who thinks it can be done; personally I don’t, and don’t intent to waste time trying… We need a better, more biblical anthropology.”

    Well, Tim, you certainly wouldn’t have needed to “waste time” arguing this point with Zane–nor would you have needed to “hog-tie” him. Once again (I’m starting to see a pattern!), you misrepresent and distort his views:
———————————————–
    “We should discard words like mental or intellectual altogether. The Bible knows nothing about an intellectual faith as over against some other kind of faith (like emotional or volitional). What the Bible does recognize is the the obvious distinction between faith and unbelief!

    No one needs to be a psychologist to understand what faith is. Still less do we need to resort to “pop psychology” to explain it. It is an unproductive waste of time to employ the popular categories–intellect, emotion, or will–as a way of analyzing the mechanics of faith. SUCH DISCUSSIONS LIE FAR OUTSIDE THE BOUNDARIES OF BIBLICAL THOUGHT (emphasis mine). People know whether they believe something or not, and that is the real issue where God is concerned.” Zane C. Hodges–”Absolutely Free”, pp 30, 31
————————————————
    It was precisely these kinds of artificial and absurd distinctions that theologians so often make between ordinary faith and “saving” faith that Zane opposed:

    “It is one of the great absurdities of theology that I can’t really know whether I believe God’s saving truth or not”…Surely it is one of the conceits of modern theology to suppose that we can define away simple terms like “belief” and “unbelief” and replace their obvious meanings with complicated elaborations. The confusion produced by this sort of process has a pervasive influence in the church today. The solution, however, is to return to the plain meaning of the biblical text.” [Absolutely Free. p 31]
—————————————————


    And what is the plain meaning of the biblical text?

    “The phase “believe in” (Greek; pisteueo eis) reflects an expression which is extremely common in the Fourth Gospel (cf. Jn 1:12; 2:11,23; 3:15-16, 18, 36; and passim) and is a standard way for John to convey the idea of faith in Jesus for eternal life. (Efforts have been made to claim that “spurious” faith is indicated in Jn 2:23; 8:30; and 12:42, but all these attempts are without valid support in John’s text and represent an effort to read into his text a preconceived theology.) The idea of “believing IN” Jesus is identical in force with the idea of “believing THAT [Greek: hoti] Jesus is the Christ” (John 11:27; 20:31; cf. 8:24; 13:19). This is shown by the fact that either Greek construction can be said to express the means of receiving eternal life (cf. Jn 20:31 with Jn 3:15-16,18, etc.) One should compare 1 Jn 5:1, “Whoever believes THAT [Greek: hoti] Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” The person who exercises this faith, John says, “has the witness in himself”. That is to say, God’s testimony about His Son, which John will state in the next verse, is INTERNALIZED when a person “believes in the Son of God.” This statement reflects the New Testament recognition that when the word of God in the gospel is believed, that word is a life-giving seed planted within the believer. (Cf. 1 Peter 1:23 and Luke 8:11-15 where “the seed is the word of God” and the ground on which it falls is the human HEART (emphasis mine.) By contrast, the person “who does not believe God (that is, disbelieves “the testimony that God has given of His Son”) for all intents and purposes makes God out to be a “liar”. This is true because he is saying, in effect, that God’s “testimony” is false. It is clear that the issue for John is very simply the truth or falsity of what God says about His Son. Neither here nor anywhere else does John introduce the complications often proposed by theologians. There is nothing here about “head or heart belief,” or about a “faith that yields to God as over against mere intellectual assent,” etc. The bible does not complicate faith like that. Once we have understood the message, the issue is: Is it true or false? Do we believe it, or do we not?” The Epistles of John–Zane C Hodges, comments on 1 Jn 5:10– pp. 223, 224
————————————————

    So Tim, the notion of faith being in some kind of “Platonic category of intellect” did not arise from Zane’s theology, but from those who accused him (and continue to accuse him) of teaching a ”mere intellectual assent” view of faith. Their misleading characterizations actually stem more from the superimposition of their OWN “crypto-Platonism” and “pop psychology” on Zane’s views than from the views of Zane himself. For Zane, “belief” and “unbelief” should simply be understood in their NORMAL sense–and that sense has been the same in every age and in every place. It’s called COMMON-sense.

    “Of course, some people will still try to say, “I believe it is true, but how do I know I really believe it and therefore it is true of me?” But no matter who makes this statement it is actually nonsense. It is like saying, “I believe that Elvis is alive, but how do I know I really believe it?” We would send a person who said that to see a psychiatrist. But in theology we actually take such a statement as if it were a meaningful observation.

    It is not. It is actually the product of years of theological brainwashing. We have been told so many times that some people have a spurious belief and that we should check out our own faith to make sure it is true saving faith, that we almost believe such nonsense. The Bible knows nothing about this sort of thing.” [JOTGES–Assurance is of the Essence of Saving Faith– Zane C Hodges]
———————————————

    
Jim, a porcupine doesn’t get “edgy” because it’s a “crypto-Platonist”– it does so because it’s just good COMMON sense to protect oneself from NON-sense. Unless or until you and Tim can at least give a clear and intelligible definition of what you think saving faith IS and what it entails, perhaps you should not try making love to porcupines–or telling them they need to repent.

    ———————————————

    Tim Nichols says:

    1 March 2011 at 9:21 am

    Gary,

    Let’s take that first quote from Absolutely Free, because I think that read in context it illustrates my concerns perfectly.

    Zane argues for the everyday meaning of belief, as over against some over-psychologized definition such as one might find in the Puritans — and as I already have said, I agree. But keep reading, because he goes on to tell us a bit more about this everyday meaning that he espouses.

    For instance, immediately after what you quoted:

    But lordship salvation drives its adherents into a psychological shadowland. We are told that true faith has volitional and emotional elements. But we might ask: in what sense?
Have we not all at some time been compelled by facts to believe something we did not wish to believe? Did we not, in a sense, believe against our will? Was that not even the case with Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus? And is it not equally true that we often believe things without any discernible emotional response to them, while at other times we are overwhelmed with emotion?

    A little further down the page:

    Does [believing] involve the intellect? Of course! But is it mere intellectual assent? Of course not! To describe faith that way is to demean it as a trivial, academic exercise, when it fact it is no such thing.
What faith really is, in biblical language, is receiving the testimony of God. It is the inward conviction that what God says to us in the Gospel is true. That–and that alone–is saving faith.

    So saving faith in Zane’s everyday sense does not involve the will in any clear way, nor is there necessarily any emotional component, but there is a necessary exercise of the intellect. But it’s not intellectual assent, because that would trivial and academic; it’s inward conviction that involves the intellect.

    What else does it involve? Nothing that he mentions.

    So hang on; why is this not intellectual assent, or mental assent? Well, because, as we learnt on the previous page, those words have negative connotations; they make it sound too detached, so we’re going to call it “inward conviction” instead. But when he gets round to explaining what he means, Zane denies involvement of the will or the emotions, affirms involvement of the intellect, and if there’s any other component to saving faith, it doesn’t seem to be worth mentioning.

    My point of departure from all this? First of all, when he says “Does that involve the intellect? Of course!” — right there, he concedes the existence of the intellect. That’s a concession I’m not willing to make, which was the point of this post.

    Second, immediately after decrying the intellect/emotion/will anthropology as inadequate for analyzing saving faith, Zane proceeds to use those very categories to offer his own analysis. I think he’s reaching for a more biblical anthropology that doesn’t get tangled up in that set of categories, but I don’t think he’s really succeeded in avoiding the tangle himself; by immediately resorting to those categories again, he’s failed to offer a real alternative to intellectual assent; he’s just renamed it and talked around it for a couple of pages.

    This is enough for one comment; I’ll address the 1 John quote in another.

    ——————————–

    Okay Tim, I’m now (today 7-17-11) going to note a crucial part of your quote of Zane that you omitted back then (4-1-11). As I recall, I was already reaching the point of complete exasperation since you were clearly laboring so very hard to prove something about Zane’s position that’s simply NOT true. Now, out of everything I’ve said on THIS thread, you again bring up this issue. So , here is what you left out of what Zane said–something he said within the very passage you cited supposedly to prove that Zane did in fact base his view of faith on the 3-part anthropological model of intellect, emotion, and volition:

    “Such questions show how precarious and contradictory are the notions about faith which arise out of popular psychology.” [Absolutely Free, p.31]

    All one need do is read Zane’s entire statement on p. 31 of Absolutely Free to see how Zane felt about this issue. They will also clearly see that your persistent attempts to attribute some connection of the IVE antropological model to Zane’s views are completely unfounded. All of his discussion here (p 31-Absolutely Free) of the so-called “intellectual component” of faith was merely a rhetorical concession forced upon him by his LS opponents. He only discussed faith here in terms of “intellectual assent” for the purpose of demonstrating why he utterly rejected it! Zane had shaken off those shackles long before you Tim! Zane wasn’t wearing the “blinders” of IVE anthropology. In fact, Zane didn’t believe ANY kind of “anthropology” was necessary to understand the common sense notion of faith that even a little child possesses. He would, no doubt say that only a brilliant theologian would ever think such a thing! There can be no doubt as to the meaning of the word “believe” in Jn 11:26, 20:31, 1 Jn 5:1. And to claim that John (and Jesus) considered such a “belief” inadequate to be born again/regenerated is simply an incredibly absurd assertion!

    As for your question about my notion of rational vs irrational, I thought you had practically conceded that point to me. After all, as I’ve already noted, you and Jim have failed to ever give any kind of rationally articulated definition of “saving faith” and all that it entails. The closest you’ve come is to say it is personal “relationship”, “encounter”, etc, and that trying to define such a thing would be comparable to “explaining a rainbow to a blind man.” This, coupled with your continual disparagement of propositional truth and “proposition worshippers” (which, by the way, is a very unjust and pejorative way to label a man like Zane Hodges). But my invitation for you and Jim to provide such a clear and rational definition/articulation remains a standing invitation if you’re still interested. At least then we would all some way of knowing if we are saved or not according to your gospel.

    So, are you beginning to understand why I said in my previous comment that I felt any further discussion is an exercise in futility? You have merely provided me with yet another illustration of that unfortunate fact.

    You claim to only be tossing certain aspects of Zane’s work and attempting to build on it. But the truth is that you and Jim are trying to cut the very heart and soul out of Zane’s understanding of such eminently weighty issues as saving faith, the COSF, and the evangelistic purpose of John’s Gospel. You want to replace it (not build on it) what I suspect Zane might call a Postmodern/Mystical/Experiential Hydra-Head Gospel, aka–the 3-D Gospel. It goes without saying, of course, that you want to do the same to the Traditional/FGA understanding of the Gospel as well.

    Sorry, Tim, but I’m starting to feel that same disconcerting angst of floating in the dark realm of deep space while “respirating on ether” creeping up on me again. I better keep my promise and withdraw from this discussion. With all of your claims to the contrary, you and Jim know full well that you are light-years apart from Zane’s understanding of these issues. It truly is just another “Hydra-Head”, whatever kind you want to call it.

    May the Lord bless you, Jim, and Michele as you continue studying, meditating, and seeking the Lord in this issues.

    Gary

  12. I meant in the closing sentence of the 5th from last paragraph: “At least then we would all have some rationally understandable and objective way of knowing if we are saved or not according to your gospel.”

  13. p.s., Tim, you ask why I consider your views irrational, yet you continually have expressed your antipathy not only to propositional truth as the COSF, but even to the involvement of the “intellect” as well:

    ” My point of departure from all this? First of all, when he (Zane) says “Does that involve the intellect? Of course!” — right there, he concedes the existence of the intellect. That’s a concession I’m not willing to make, which was the point of this post.”

    Yet you ask why I consider your views irrational. Well, what other option is there…what else could it be? The cumulative effect of all you seem to be saying the past few months points to the fundamentally irrational nature of your views on saving faith. If your “point of departure” from Zane is, as you clearly say here, his contention that our capacity for rationality/reason is “involved” in saving faith, it should be obvious what I mean by calling your views
    irrational, shouldn’t it? Like I said, I’ve just assumed you had conceded this point a long time ago. In light of statements like this, how could I think otherwise? I’m confounded as to why you think I need to explain something so self-evident.

  14. Tim Nichols says:

    Gary,

    Once again, I’m finding your response a bit incongruent; perhaps you can clarify it for me. Why did you comment on this blog entry at all? You don’t seem to want to discuss anything; you say we’ve already raised all these issues before. You don’t seem to think I’m worth talking to, and you find my position repulsive.

    And yet you are not repulsed. Here you are again, trying to have the conversation, and then again, trying not to have it at the same time.

    Why?

  15. Tim,

    You said this in your previous comment:

    “Gary,

    I guess this will be the last word here if you let it be, but I’d rather it wasn’t. I appreciate that you don’t want to endlessly churn the same ground over and over, but you were perfectly willing to raise the old issues again just a few days ago, and you did by far the best job you’ve ever done here of expressing your concerns. That could well lead to a whole different discussion than in the past. If it turns out that it doesn’t, feel free to say so and retire. But I really hope you won’t choose to deliver 2 pages of well-articulated concerns and then just say ‘never mind, let’s not talk about it.’”

    But now you say I’m being incongruent in responding to you after you tried to coax me back in. So, would it be fair to say we are both being incongruent at this point?

    So yes, I now feel free to say without a doubt this is just the same discussion we’ve already had. I will retire now.

    Grace and peace,

    Gary

  16. Tim Nichols says:

    Gary,

    You reading me as incongruent at this point is just another example of how your hermeneutics fail for lack of charity toward the person you’re trying to interpret. I was inviting you to an actual discussion. All you did was quote-mine a past discussion and repeat that there’s nothing to talk about.

    Yet here you are, still talking, and there’s the incongruence.

    Over the past year or more, you have repeatedly shown up to interact, then insulted me and other discussion partners, and walked away again. You say again and again that there are no answers here, but you keep coming back. If you were satisfied with what you have, Gary, you wouldn’t still be hungry. If you didn’t smell food here, Gary, you wouldn’t keep coming back. Yet you do — because the answers you already possess have left you still starving, and you know at some level that here, we can help you with that. And we’re willing. The food is on the table.

    But you don’t have the courage to sit down at the table and eat, and until you do, brother, you’re going to stay hungry.

    However, there’s a cost associated with the meal. You’ll have to learn and grow. You’ll have to be willing to have Zane as a teacher rather than a know-all guru. You’ll have to develop relationships and interact genuinely instead of breaking out your hatchet in a murderous little tantrum every time you hear something that confuses you. So far, you shy away from a productive way of coming to the table.

    Instead, you engage, but then you don’t listen at all, you just quote-mine past discussions. Anything you find remotely threatening, you bury under an avalanche of Zane quotes. You’re so long-quote-happy it’s almost like you’re channelling the spirit of Lou-who-must-not-be-named.

    Stop it. You’re here for a reason, and you know it. Have the grace — and the guts — to follow through.

  17. Gary,

    I have to say, after having read all of this, that I am empathetic to you. Your second comment in this thread (the large one) was thoughtful and precise. I just got back into the swing of things after an hiatus, and wasn’t aware of this discussion. I am both fascinated and disheartened at the same time by it.

    Don’t be made to feel that, since you have been persuaded by positions and arguments through the exegetical precision of Zane Hodges, he is therefore your “know-all guru”. Such is merely a red herring.

    Tim,

    It may be helpful if you construct a treatise or a series of them clearly identifying your particular views on these important subjects. I find that these very small and ambiguous posts (these metaphors and short illustrations) have the unintiated like myself chasing shadows. Is your position able to be clearly articulated in a more scholarly fashion?

    It seems a waste of time for me or others to engage you in dialogue when after the engagements that you have had with Gary he still does not understand your position. That is telling as he possesses quite an intellect (maybe a wrong choice of words as it may not be included in your anthropology — I am not clear on your position), and this consideration portends what must be the thought of men and women with less. Michele’s posts are incoherent and are not perspicuous and/or are rife with imprecision and contradiction, and frankly, I am surprised that Jim and you attach yourselves to them. A definitive treatise on your part seems imperative if meaningful dialogue is to ensue. I am confident that you can draw upon your gifts (as you are a preaching pastor and adjunct professor, no?), fill in the gaps, and provide a coherent theological landscape with which to interact with. If what is fog is in the pulpit, what is to be said of the pews?

    AdR

  18. Jim Reitman says:

    Indeed, Antonio, both Tim and I are men of integrity, such that you might have thought to ask why we would be so stoked on what Michele has written that we are willing to hang in there with some things that may not have been worded clearly enough for those who aren’t used to her style of theology.

    I do appreciate your careful wording above, leaving room for having perhaps misconstrued or misunderstood Michele in some form or fashion. However, your options were too limited. Tim and I have both been weaned on modernist epistemology and have had exactly the same sense of internal, intellectual dysphoria when confronted with “mystical” kinds of writing. I don’t know if you’ve read all of Tim’s [about] 12 different posts on Mystical Union since January 2011, but he does a really good job of describing that recent dysphoria in his own life as a pastor and professor. If you haven’t studied these posts carefully, I would strongly recommend doing so before any further interchange on this thread, “Swimming Crib,” or Michele’s recent series.

    You seem to disparage Tim’s use of “metaphors and short illustrations” as being way too ambiguous and potentially confusing, in short, frustrating to anyone looking for sharp, clear, systematic language in building a theology. I consider you a friend and am deeply appreciative of the grace you showed me on your blog a few years ago, especially the notorious 600+ comment-long thread that unfortunately ended up shedding more heat than light. So I understand your reticence to get embroiled in anything that seems so confusing among people like Michele and me whom you have walked with in the past for more than a few miles. But you are in danger, my friend.

    I have taught hermeneutics for several years now and had my eyes and ears opened to deeper levels of truth in Scripture than were ever possible by drawing bright lines of verbal-propositional precision, proof-texting, and/or “principlizing.” (My greatest lesson has been that understanding often lags behind obedience to the light that we have received.) Some truth can only be imperfectly described by even the most “precise” verbal propositional description; such truth simply can’t be incarnated without use of metaphor and parable, and Michele is particularly gifted at surfacing the latter while admittedly suffering from need for improvement in the former. But none of us has capitulated to anything like the postmodern relativism or tolerance you fear so deeply and which Zane decried, as we have been assaulted by the recent quotes you and GOE have brought to bear on the discussion. So here’s my invitation:

    If you are willing, we (Tim and I) are willing to help you broaden your literary skills and perspective to begin to see with new eyes and hear with new ears. This is not arrogant or presumptuous on our part, as I readily acknowledge that you bring a lot of firepower to the table in your own right. It is because we have been humbled by our own rife epistemological failure that we make this offer. But unless you are willing to retreat a few steps back from the head to the heart in attending to heart-level, image-and-narrative-based theological truth—exactly the kind that our Lord used with the greatest possible pedagogical power—then I don’t think we can make much progress. Choose your venue, if you like.

    Whaddya think?

  19. Jim Reitman says:

    I realize I used a medical term in the previous post that may not be at all clear to others. Although not exactly the same as dysphoria, the term cognitive dissonance would probably better express what I was trying to portray by using that word.

  20. Tim,
    I by no means want to interfere with your discussion with Antonio, but I just want you to be aware of the question he recently asked Michele. Perhaps you could help her answer it? It’s essentially the same question I’ve been asking for months. Of course, as I’ve already stated in previous threads, you have a standing invitation to answer it anytime it’s convenient for you. Please forgive my intrusion. Thanks.

    —————————————————-

    Michele,
    Antonio has asked you an exceedingly important and penetrating question. If you could and/or would answer it, you will have succeeded in highly distinguishing yourself as a 3-D Gospel “authority” in a way that, thus far, neither Tim nor Jim has been willing and/or able to even come close to doing. Can you answer it? Will you? It would be a shame for you to miss this opportunity. Furthermore, you will have made a great contribution to facilitating and advancing this whole discussion beyond the vain and exasperating “chasing of shadows”, which has deplorably characterized it for months now. No rainbows or moonstones, please; remember, I am a blind man, so I’m told, who needs a 3-D GURU to rationally articulate an answer for me in a way that is accessible to the uninitiated. The question is this:

    Antonio: ‘How is it that you understood yourself to be saved apart from faith in Jesus for eternal salvation (or eternal security, or irrevocable justification, or eternal life, etc.)? Please tell me how you came to this understanding that you were “saved” apart from specific and purposeful faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life, or please link to an article that explains it.”

    Every blessing in Christ,
    Gary

  21. Jim says: “If you haven’t studied these posts carefully, I would strongly recommend doing so before any further interchange on this thread, “Swimming Crib,” or Michele’s recent series….But none of us has capitulated to anything like the postmodern relativism or tolerance you fear so deeply and which Zane decried, as we have been assaulted by the recent quotes you and GOE have brought to bear on the discussion.”

    “Assaulted”? Right, and you and Tim aren’t “assaulting” Zane Hodges at all are you? Very funny, but I’m not amused nor sympathetic at all to your lame attempt to play victim here Jim. “Proposition worshippers who need to repent for teaching a narrow and false gospel”–isn’t that “assault” on Zane, Bob Wilkin, and others precisely how this all began? Yes, it most emphatically IS how it began. Go cry elsewhere Jim.

    For anyone interested in a more accurate and well-rounded understanding of Jim’s true position– [and I assume Tim–but he’s not very forthcoming about things like that (!)]– I highly recommend “The Spirit of Antichrist–Decoupling Jesus from the Christ” by Zane C Hodges. Right Jim? Have the “guts” (as Tim said to me) to at least (1) Own and openly acknowledge your theology, and (2) Defend it to the best of your abiblity. That’s what you need to do, Jim. Stop the cat and mouse games and lay all your cards on the table FIRST–and the sooner the better. Do THAT, then you can continue your assault on Zane’s teaching on “saving faith”, the COSF, and the evangelistic purpose of John’s Gospel all you wish brother. The subterfuge approach has not served you well in gaining trust from those you seek to persuade.

  22. Jim,

    Another thing you and Tim need to own up to and acknowledge is that you are assaulting Zane’s conviction that the Name and Person of the historical “JESUS” is the necessary object of saving faith, that it was the distinctive feature of NT evangelization, and that nothing else has even a shred of Biblical evidence.

    So, you and Tim would appear to have only two options: either step up to the plate and get busy proving Zane wrong, or else get busy repenting of your insolent rebellion against God and subversion of the gospel.

    Sorry, but it IS an undeniable and lamentable fact that you and Tim started all this with your own call for repentance is it not? In fact, as best I can determine, it all started with your disciple Tim over on Michele’s blog over a year ago. Funny how things have now come full circle.

  23. P.S.–Jim,

    I came across a quote by writer Michael Janeway that reminded me of the “cognitive dissonance” that you say was the effect of reading mystical writings:

    “In Vietnam, reality fell away and dissonance between claim and fact filled the void.”

    Ever considered the possibility that the “cognitive dissonance” you experienced was a warning you failed to heed, and that now you no longer have any rational/objective/biblical basis for distinguishing between claim and fact?

  24. Tim Nichols says:

    Gary,

    Michele gave you an answer — John 17:3. You dismissed her totally without ever dealing with the answer she gave you. Because you don’t like it, because you don’t know what those words mean, because you think it’s a contemptible answer — whatever your reasons. If you want to have an actual conversation, you’re always welcome here. If you’re going to be rude and obnoxious to my friends, then you can go hang out with people who value that behavior, and I wish them joy of you.

    We’ve had this conversation before, Gary. Again, I want you to understand that I’m not banning you. I am, however, inviting you to go away until you can be civil. We are more than willing to help you walk with God — always have been, always will be. We look forward to benefiting from your fellowship, as you walk with Him. But I’m afraid there’s little we can do for you, or you for us, until your desire for Him and His people is greater than your desire to balm your own fears by condemning others based on a set of petty litmus tests.

  25. Jim Reitman says:

    Gary, I have to agree with Tim. I can discuss the Scriptures in context with you, but not while you are bleeding all over and dying here, Bro.

  26. Gary,

    Because I love you I don’t know how to fight with you, I can’t fathom it.  If that’s what you resolve to do then I don’t know what to do anymore, except agree with Jim and Tim as they have already given their best.  You and I have been long friends and supporters and if that somehow is trivialized in your eyes, then at this point we’re all bleeding.

  27. John 17:3 is thus evacuated of its true meaning being divorced from its context and the grammar of its construction and filled with the hopes and wishes of those who raise this empty shell high as the standard to which their ranks fall in line.

    Such a tactic as answering a pertinent question with a simple scripture reference in a serious matter as this is evasive, disingenuous, and shameful. And such does not even begin to be in the same plane of existence as an “actual conversation” but a direct attack upon one.

    The superficiality of this novel and dangerous formulation is what is truly bleeding. The endless pronouncement after pronouncement without a shred of rational, exegetical appeal to our rule of faith (the Bible) is outrageous.

    Tim, Jim, and Michele have circled their wagons…

    I feel for Gary, who has hung in there despite the frustrating and ceaseless runaround he has been subject to.

    Jim,

    in 2009, we had several discussions about “eternal life”, the Chrisian life, and so on at Rene’s house and at the conference. If you recollect (and I do) we were in agreement on everything concerning the concept of the “onion” of eternal life. But at that time, too, Rene and I had concerns with the direction you take with faith, object, and content.

    I am open ears if you want to give a systematic explanation of your “enlightened” hermeneutical methods that take the interpretation of the bible to a “deeper” level of meaning.

    I consider you a friend and you have been an incredible help to me in problems that I had. I have to be honest. I consider this new formulation being posited by you and Tim to be dangerous, dangerous to assurance, dangerous, to growth, and dangerous to the saving message.

    So, does Rene now share these views you have with the gospel and hermeneutics (2 separate issues)? I wonder how he would characterize these posts that Tim has been writing.

    I love you deeply as a brother, Jim, and that is a constant in this.

    Antonio

  28. Jim, you heard me loud and clear. Tim, you heard me. Michele, you heard me.

    May God bless you Antonio, lift you up, and make His face shine upon you.

    “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

    And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words…grace be with you all. Amen.”

    Heb. 13:20-22,25

    Gary

  29. Jim Reitman says:

    Antonio, thanks for the measured response. But I have to admit I did not see the same care and thought put into your treatise on Tim’s other, more recent thread. I appreciate that you did go and catch up on the exchanges that you hadn’t seen heretofore but to my view, it appears that you have overreacted.

    On the other thread you mentioned “talking past” each other, and I wholeheartedly agree—that is happening on all sides. I’m speaking for myself, here, but I’m not sure that there is any future in continuing the discussions that we have begun since you joined us. We’ve already assumed our polemic stances and we are preparing our responses as soon as we read what the “other” has written without seeking to think it through from the “other’s” POV.

    It’s a Catch-22 of sorts, because everyone starts with some kind of “system” and reads Scripture against the backdrop of their own system. I have my system and Tim has his. (And we are learning a lot from Michele who has been very difficult for me to understand but whose writing I’ve come to appreciate after reading her installments about 3 times on average, following initial varying degrees of confusion or even frank shock. But that did not keep me from pursuing further relationship with Michele.) So, the dilemma is that our systems need constant readjustment to careful exegesis in context as you have duly pointed out. This is one aspect of the so-called “hermeneutical spiral”: the “systems” and the exegesis are of necessity mutually informing. We are still suffering after nearly 500 years since the Reformation because this delicate process was fatefully delayed by the marked polarization that developed in the wake of a hundred years or more of polemic debate. The kind of mutually informing process I am advocating is not possible in a polemic venue—in fact, it is subverted.

    If Tim will permit me (he has turned comment mod on), I’d just like to give a brief response to your kind statements/invitations below and hope that you don’t take it personally. Maybe some future process for us will become clearer after a “time out” and a big breath (or three or five). I will respond in boldface:

    Jim,

    in 2009, we had several discussions about “eternal life”, the Chrisian life, and so on at Rene’s house and at the conference. If you recollect (and I do) we were in agreement on everything concerning the concept of the “onion” of eternal life. But at that time, too, Rene and I had concerns with the direction you take with faith, object, and content. I largely agree with your recollection, but I also suffered from a fair amount of sleep deprivation during those three days, so forgive me if I can’t remember the details of the “onion.” I vaguely recollect that we did not necessarily agree on the primary audience of GJohn.

    I am open ears if you want to give a systematic explanation of your “enlightened” hermeneutical methods that take the interpretation of the bible to a “deeper” level of meaning. My basic hermeneutics are laid out in detail in the Preface to my book Unlocking Wisdom. However, the canonical and narrative hermeneutic aspects have developed considerably since that was published, with significant stimulus from Michele’s intuitive gift in this area. If you would like to start with my book, I think the best way to proceed after that would be for us to dissect my “Gospel in 3D” series which Gary has condemned on the basis of contradictions with Zane, but which may hold some promise of at least “enlightening” the hermeneutics behind what I wrote, which is a significant advance on what I wrote in my book.

    I consider you a friend and you have been an incredible help to me in problems that I had. I have to be honest. I consider this new formulation being posited by you and Tim to be dangerous, dangerous to assurance, dangerous, to growth, and dangerous to the saving message. I understand your concern. You are one of a number of people who have reacted negatively out of their common deep-seated (and understandable) loyalty to Zane and his writings. Tim and I have the exact opposite impressions of the “danger,” however: Borrowing your words I would say that the developing theology is healing to assurance, fosters growth (especially in community), and deepens the saving message to invite an even greater excitement of Body life and evangelism. I know that you, Gary, Diane, and a number of others can’t see that from where you sit and from what we have written on the blogs, but I’m OK with that for the time being.

    So, does Rene now share these views you have with the gospel and hermeneutics (2 separate issues)? I wonder how he would characterize these posts that Tim has been writing. Rene was totally preoccupied with his thesis for the year following our last time together at his house. Since his thesis was completed and accepted a year ago, he has been heavily involved in teaching and pastoral ministry. I have had few occasions to discuss these issues in depth, and we do have some differences I am aware of, but there has also been a fair degree of convergence from the limited discussions we have had. For example, I am pretty sure he does not share your views on the primary audience of GJohn, and that has been a recurring theme in our occasional talks, albeit not in reference to you, personally. He has read some of Tim’s stuff on mystical union and has questions, understandably, but not wholesale condemnation for sure. Shoot, I had questions, but that did not keep me from pursuing further relationship with Tim.

    Rene has asked about you, but of course I haven’t been able to give him an answer before you re-emerged. I suggest that he would welcome your attempt to renew the relationship.

    I love you deeply as a brother, Jim, and that is a constant in this. Likewise, my brother; I pray for some substantive relational reconciliation among all the alienated parties, indeed the Body of Christ, “…that the world may know…”.

    Antonio

  30. Tim Nichols says:

    Antonio,

    I must confess I’m fascinated by your response here. I completely agree with your celebration of Gary’s second (long) post in this thread, and you will notice that I said so at the time. I was, and am, deeply disappointed that he seemed to change his mind about interacting before I had a chance to interact with him. What followed was my attempt to bring him back to the table — which failed, I grant, but I was trying.

    Seems odd to me that would somehow translate in your mind into me giving him the runaround.

    No doubt the treatise you’re hoping for will be forthcoming at some point, and in the meantime, perhaps the controversy between Barlaam and Palamas (on God-as-thought-experiment versus actual experience and relationship with God) would furnish some profitable reading. (Fair warning: that will severely test your ability to read charitably and in context. These guys are not moderns.) But I have to say that my writing models — for years now — have been the biblical writers, who are long on parables, stories, reflections, songs, epigrams and exhortations, and relatively short on anything resembling a treatise. (Not to mention that academic writing of any type is simply not present in the biblical writings, still less systematic theology.)

    In the history of our movement, few writings have been so necessary to us as a commentary on John’s Gospel, wouldn’t you agree? We needed a good, solid scholarly one, by Zane, two decades ago. Never happened. We didn’t have one at all until last year, and we still need a far more detailed treatment than fit within the scope of the Grace New Testament Commentary. We have always needed a WBC- or NICNT-level treatment, and what we have is more BKC-level. (Not knocking Bob’s work there at all, I’m grateful we have as much as we do — but the need for more is undeniable, and very long-standing.) My point? This stuff takes time, sometimes lots of it, and the FG community, of all people, ought to understand that. Folks have been patient enough on the John commentary; don’t damn the three of us because we can’t produce a treatise by last Wednesday. We’ve only been working on this for a few years.

    And besides, the early returns are not encouraging. Jim did a noteworthy 7-installment series on John 3:16 that has yet to see any serious interaction; why should we put a high priority on investing months in writing a treatise for the same audience that’s ignoring him, in droves?

    But — hopeful of better things — I see a starting point before us, if you want to take advantage of it. I felt that Gary skipped right over the John 17:3 portion of Michele’s answer. You feel that we didn’t really introduce or discuss John 17:3 properly. So it looks like we all agree that verse needs more attention, and we all want to see the other guy step up to it. In the spirit of mutual submission, let’s. What do you say?

  31. Hi Antonio,

    No amount of using spiritual gifts of discernment from afar is going to beat picking up the phone and calling. You can come and talk to me on my blog all you want; I’m just not going to fight with you, is all. As much as you or others express your emotions and deep concerns, I’d rejoice. My choice though is with this caveat: we are mutually responsible to have compassion for and receive one another. I don’t endorse the emotions that prove we all have the ability to escalate. We’re friends, we’ve dwelt alongside each other in spite of not agreeing on everything, and that is requisite for me to continue. Like I said to Gary, I can’t imagine a conversation with him where we aren’t having our usual fun. Gary is so important to me, it goes beyond saying. I won’t throw that away no matter what.

    Try being in my shoes and hear (from friends) every other time that I am incoherent or that it takes three reads to get what I’m saying (it’s a feat by prayer to keep going). To have you then say to others that I think myself a teacher just because I write, oh my gosh, that hurt badly. I believe Tim knows that and thus defended me as sister. I’m doing the best I can before God, and I’m okay with that, so if at least by some measurements I am in a (lower) class all to myself, I’m okay with that too.

    You said I think myself an authority; but the most I’m doing is accepting invitation to speak on what I find in God’s Word – invitation comes from their authority – is that clearer? I believe when I was available at my blog, you were here talking about me to an audience, which is closer to being treated like an experiment than other things going on ’round here. I do not pretend to be a teacher with wide influence as you say via James 3; my theological thoughts are evolving in the best venue I have found for me so far. I believe for you it may be different, for me however blog reflections are never pronouncements set in stone but rather a setting for refinement from community. Which makes me wonder how this is still much like the old days where a single misfired sentence produces judgment that can never be lived down and is the end of all give and take. We need growth, and we need each other to do it. As you have known about me from the beginning, I believe in influencing the blogs for discussion and fellowship in “debate.” You can choose if you ultimately buy in or just can’t, but I’ve taken my stand for this end at my blog, and have not moved.

    I have been writing on this since January; once I got to seeing discipleship in the content of the gospel, I was hungry to stretch my wings and see what I could find. I took six months looking at the Samaritan woman in John 4, the good news according to Romans, and Abrahamic righteousness fulfilled. It dawns on me you probably didn’t understand why I was writing and what I was writing, till lately? That explains why I haven’t had any comments except from Jim since I began. People who dwell near each other imitate each other, and Paul said “imitate me.” If you don’t like what I reflect that’s fine, but it doesn’t make the process remarkable.
    I have good things to say if you want to continue.

  32. Michele,


    I want to add one further note so you will be sure to understand my perspective and where I’m coming from in all this:

I’ve always considered you primarily a victim in all this, and I believe that the Lord sees it in that vein as well. That’s why, from the beginning of my involvement in the “Crock-Pot Theology” thread, I’ve tried, for the most part, to keep my comments directed squarely at Tim and Jim, not you. As those who hold responsible positions of leadership in their local church, and furthermore make their livelihood from the preaching/teaching of God’s word, their culpability in this matter is all the greater magnified– if indeed this novel and bizarre formulation of the gospel they promote and have convinced you of proves to be un-biblical. Accordingly, please note to whom the above comment was addressed, the one regarding Jim and Tim’s assault on the Name and Person of the historical “JESUS” as the necessary object of saving faith. 




    As for Tim’s utterly disingenuous reprimand of me for supposedly ignoring your “answer” to Antonio’s question, I can say in all due sincerity that it never even occurred to me for a second that you were offering a bare biblical reference (“Jn 17:3”), merely tacked on as an appendage to your comment, as a legitimate explanation/answer made in good-faith. However, since I have indeed become quite accustomed to such similar and persistent evasive tactics on Tims’ blog, I now admit I should have clearly recognized it for what it is: just a further reflection of Jim and Tim’s own “image”and methods –that which they have created in you. In view of the utterly vacuous theological shipwreck in which they have now embrangled themselves and you, they appear to have few other options. This is what is truly reprehensible. Tim’s devious and unfounded castigation of me for “dismissing you totally without ever dealing with the answer” is merely one further example. So now I’m straightforwardly “dealing” with it if it would so give Tim joy for me to do so.



    Finally, for whatever it’s worth, this again would be my final word to you in these matters, as to us all: 

”Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in us* what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. 

And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words…grace be with you all. Amen.”
Heb. 13:20-22,25



    Please note the change from “you” to “us”(v 21) in accordance with the NU and Majority Text–which better expresses my feelings anyway, since, like the writer of Hebrews, it’s not my intent to exclude myself from this exhortation.


    
Every blessing to you in Christ,


    Gary



  33. Tim Nichols says:

    Gary,

    I know you were miffed that your comment got snagged up in the moderation queue for several hours. I’d apologize, but brother, you earned it. I’ve been busy most of the day doing things more pressing than babysit my blog, so haven’t had time to give it any serious attention. Them as haven’t been recently misbehaving here, I passed through; you got snagged for a more careful reading when I had time to get to it. I don’t like it either, and I hope not to need to do that in the future. But it’s kinda up to you, ain’t it?

  34. Thank you, Tim, for deciding to post my comment. This will be my last post here. I leave you with these words, for I can think of no better way to so succinctly contrast our views of saving faith and the gospel:

    “I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
    But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”

    From “The Solid Rock”,

    Gary

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