Not In Kansas Anymore

I left a comment last week on this post to the effect that I’m not in the same place theologically that I used to be. A few days ago a good friend who knows my theological journey very well told me how surprised he was to hear me say that, so it seems like a little clarification is in order. I thought about appending it to the comment thread, but it seemed like it might be more visible as a post, so here it is.

First the assurances. I still believe in the virgin birth, the miracles, the bodily resurrection of Christ, His return in the clouds in like manner as He went, and just for good measure, His coming reign on this very planet. I also believe in the preservation of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego through the fire, the ascension of Elijah in a fiery chariot, Joshua’s long day, manna from heaven, the Red Sea crossing, and Noah’s flood that covered the whole world, by which I mean the whole world. I believe all these things because the Bible says them, and being the very word of God, the Bible is true in all its words and in all its parts. It is never wrong.

For the same reason, I believe that about 6,000 years ago, God made the world in 6 days, by which I mean six days. I have not failed to notice what is sometimes called “evidence of literary design” in the creation account, but unlike some folks, I seem to have also noticed that God is not just writing the account, He is also writing the world. These marks of authorship are a feature of the text because they are a feature of history, because God is telling the story.

I believe in the priesthood of all believers, salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, and I mean “faith alone” in a way John MacArthur would heartily disapprove of.

So what’s changed? Two things.

First, I have heartily rejected the rampant sectarianism of my former ecclesiastical tribe. Some of them will say straight out that of course they don’t think the folks in the local Anglican church are saved. Others would never say something like that, but practically, they certainly will not seek to love and serve their brothers and sisters at the local Anglican church. They will simply behave as though the local Anglican church doesn’t exist. In whatever guise, this breaking of table fellowship is a practical denial of justification by faith (Gal. 1-2), a moral failure to walk worthy of our calling (Eph. 4:1-6), and a refusal to comply with Jesus’ dying wish for His people (Jn. 17).

Second, I now believe in all the biblical spiritual gifts, not just some of them, which is to say that I am not a cessationist. I believe in all the biblical gifts for the same reason that I believe in six-day creationism: because that’s what the Bible says.

I didn’t initially think of these two changes as a complete break with my ecclesiastical tribe. After all, we still had a huge amount in common, and I was prepared to work with them. However, I quickly discovered that virtually nobody was willing to work with me. They would fall all over themselves to affirm that I’m a good guy and they wish me all the best and they’re sure God’s doing great things through me — they just don’t want to, you know, actually work together. On anything. Ever again. But hey, thanks for calling, and let’s get coffee sometime….

So when Jeremy mentioned that he’s no longer where I am theologically — which he’s not — I felt pretty comfortable allowing as how I don’t feel like I’m in Kansas anymore either. I see how that was ambiguous, and I hope I have clarified it.

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5 Responses to Not In Kansas Anymore

  1. Jeremy Myers says:

    Hmm. So maybe some more clarification is needed now. Ha!

    This person who was surprised at what you wrote wasn’t me, right? Apparently they called you….

    Your reference to me at the end of this post made me wonder that whoever this person was, they talked to you about me? Are they that concerned with my views that they get upset when I comment on someone else’s blog?

    It seems they may also have mentioned some concerns they have with what they (wrongly) assume are my views on creation, miracles, the return of Jesus, and other related items which appeared in my fateful blog post from about 5 years ago.

    I’m not asking you to name names. It doesn’t matter. I was just seeking a little clarification myself now, and want you to know that quite likely, I do not believe what they told you I believe….

  2. Tim Nichols says:

    Jeremy,

    Whoops. No, I’m afraid now I managed to give you the wrong impression. You really didn’t come up in the conversation in question, other than that my comment was in response to yours.
    When my friend mentioned that given how little I’ve actually changed, he was surprised to see me say what I did, I figured I should say something, so I just kind of ran the litany of things off the top of my head, considering the sensitivities of our former constituency.
    Had I been responding to fears that I was turning into The-Jeremy-Bogeyman-That-Folks-Imagine, I’d have used your “heretic” post for a template, and said something about hell. Now I think about it, I probably should’ve said something about hell anyway.
    Oh well — can’t say everything, all the time, in a way that will communicate to everybody.

  3. Jeremy Myers says:

    Ah. Thanks! It is part of my wounded ego I suppose to think that some from my old circles are still talking about my downfall…

    Regarding hell, yes, it will get you every time! I would be interested to see what you would write about on the subject…

  4. Tom Samson says:

    Tim –

    Forgive my ignorance – but please explain for me what you mean by:

    “faith alone” in a way John MacArthur would heartily disapprove of

    Wishing you and all the brothers and sisters in Englewood a Merry Christmas!

  5. Tim Nichols says:

    Tom,

    Thanks for your good wishes, and the same to you and yours in MN!

    What I meant was that MacArthur and I would both heartily affirm faith alone, but he would go on to say that *real* faith is always followed by works — and however he may hedge it theologically, in practice, he means a visible life of discipleship. I don’t agree. From what I see in Scripture, a person who believes the gospel is saved eternally, period. Of course a life of discipleship *ought* to follow, but it’s an imperfect world, and what ought to happen doesn’t always. I don’t believe in questioning whether a child is really in the family just because he disobeys.

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