Theological differences and unity in Christ

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by JonC δοῦλος, May 7, 2016.

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  1. JonC

    JonC
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    It has been said that there is nothing new under the sun. Cultures and sociopolitical atmospheres change from one people to the next as successions of generations are gulfed by changing ideologies, perspectives and worldviews; but this is nothing new. During the past few decades many churches and denominations have undergone major upheavals as parties and factions (both within and without) have struggled to establish or maintain cultural, political and doctrinal positions. Some churches have grown stronger, others have faltered. This climate has accentuated both weaknesses and strengths of evangelical faith and practice in general. This too is nothing new. In various aspects the debates of today are but echoes of the past as the Christian voice has been described many ways, but never theologically monolithic.

    Christians are commanded to be united in Christ. They are, in fact and by definition, united in Christ. The local church find’s its ontologically driven purpose only when centered in the gospel of Jesus Christ. And the child of God can engage no laudable pursuit except that it be Christ centered and for God’s own glory.

    There is a way to discuss theological differences and remain united in Christ, and there is a way to argue these differences towards the detriment of the Church and the degrading of the Cross. The manner in which a theology is held becomes an outward expression its validity to the one holding it, the determining factor being whether or not it is held in a Christ-centered manner. To put it another way, even correct doctrine incorrectly apprehended and wielded is error and sin.

    The only offensive weapon afforded the believer is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God – not the anthropological and extra-biblical dagger of developed theories concerning the mechanics of God’s decisions, thoughts and intent beyond what is stated in Scripture. The usefulness of systematic theologies is plainly obvious in its necessity towards understanding and developing doctrine as well as forming a framework in which to apply God’s Word to our daily lives. But we can never downgrade the gospel of Jesus Christ or the truth of God revealed through Scripture by equating our systemized understandings and theories to the Bible. Scripture is objective. The gospel of Jesus Christ is objective. What our theologies derive of objective truth to form doctrines about what is not directly revealed in Scripture is subjective. While we can (and should) hold and defend our understanding as being true (even when we disagree), we can embrace no systematic theology as wholly objective divine truth and remain within the bounds of biblical warrant, biblically orthodox faith, or on a footing centered on Christ. To do so elevates man as breathing into Perfection the imperfect breath of fallen humanity and calling it divine. It is heresy.

    It has become evident to me that there are men more committed to their theology than they are to Christ. I believe that there are men who seek discord over secondary theological disagreement rather than unity in Christ. It is unfortunate that the saying ‘the Christian “army” is the only army that kills it’s wounded ‘often rings true. But we also know that there are men who teach a truth while holding that truth in such a way as to remain unknown of God. So many issues may abound in debating and discussing theological differences. That should not dissuade dialogue, but we need to be cognitive when our center becomes our systematic belief itself rather than Christ.
     
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  2. Jerome

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    Charles Spurgeon, "The God of Peace":

    "I admit that some called Calvinists are the most quarrelsome set breathing, this is the reason—while they have the main part of the truth of God, many of them are leaving out something important—therefore God chastises them because they are some of His best children! It may be a sign of life that they are so eager after truth that they kill one another in order to get it, but I wish they would leave off their quarrelling, for it is a disgrace to our religion! If they had more peace, I might hope better for the progress of truth. Everyone says to me—“Look there at your brothers and sisters! I never saw such a set of cut-throats in my life! I never saw a church where they have the gospel, but where they are always falling out!” Well, that is near the truth, and I am ashamed to confess it; I pray God to send a little more peace where He has sent the gospel."

    Charles Spurgeon, "The Common Salvation":

    "I speak not of mere professors, but truly spiritual people. Such are all one in Christ Jesus and their salvation is in all respects the same. If they have not all things common, at least they have one and the same salvation! All converted men and women believe in the same essential Truths of God, feel the working of the same Spirit within them and press forward to the same end, namely, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord. You shall take a high churchman who is a truly spiritual man—and there are such people—and you shall set him down side by side with the most rigid member of the Society of Friends and when they begin to talk of Jesus, of the work of the Holy Spirit in the soul and the desire of their hearts after God, you will hardly know which is which! The nearer we come to Him, who is the Salvation of God, the more plainly we see that among the children of God the basis of agreement is far wider than the ground of division."
     
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  3. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Think so do ya? LOL......I have been reading your posts in earnest but I am not sure of what your point is? The starting point for any system of doctrine ought to be to the greater glory of God. So do we have agreement here?
     
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  4. JonC

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    We are in agreement. Our starting point, ending point, and everything in between should be for the glory of God (which is Christ).

    My point is that our theologies are not only divine revelation. There are areas where our understandings express ideas that are not directly revealed in Scripture. We teach, argue, defend and believe these things - but we should do so with the realization that some of these things are our conclusions, based at least in part on our reasoning, and not necessarily divine revealed truth. I believe that when we cannot discern between what has been revealed by God to man and what man has developed from that revelation then we are downgrading God's Word by elevating man's.
     
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  5. TCassidy

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    And what is the basis for that discernment? You and your ability to discern? Is it possible that I may be more able to discern something, perhaps due to a life long study of the issue, that you are not yet as able to discern? And vice versa?

    The problem with this thought is that, carried to its logical conclusion, nobody would be sure of anything. My position is found in Romans 14:5b "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." :)
     
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  6. Earth Wind and Fire

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  7. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Jon & Tom.......Im still not satisfied that this is not just confusion regarding the Doctrines of Grace! Maybe it would help to recognize the role of each person of the Trinity in the 5 points?

    1. Election is the choice of the Father
    2. The atonement is the sacrifice of the Son
    3. The grace that draws us to Christ & enables us to persevere to the very end is the work of the HS.

    Thus salvation is all Gods work from beginning to end, IE a coordinated work of a triune God.

    I see all this in scripture....that salvation is all of Gods grace therefore He gets all the Glory. DOG Theology points to this central truth ........therefore all 5 of the points must be considered together in order to work to His glory; of this I am firmly convinced.

    Now do I view myself a Calvinist? No I view myself as a radical Christian, but I see this doctrine in scripture.
     
  8. JonC

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    I disagree. Partly because of what can be seen in your "logical conclusion" comment. The reason is that I believe the gospel is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes. This is objective truth. This is revelation unveiled by the Spirit. This is not what I am talking about when I speak of subjectivity to human reasoning in systematic theology.

    I am referring to doctrines that deal in detail with what is not specifically laid out in Scripture. We do study and grow, and I agree that we grow in truth and gain knowledge both of Scripture and God through study. But if we stop knowing where that knowledge comes from (whether it is something we’ve discovered in God’s word, or it is a theory we’ve developed out of such a discovery) then we have a problem. I don't think that men seeking to understand God in a way that God has not revealed of himself in Scripture is necessarily a great sin (as Luther believed). But I do think that we need to know where Scripture stops and man begins.

    An example I offered previously is my belief in double predestination. I can defend it biblically, but I know others can argue against it biblically. What is left on the table is not Scripture but two different reasonings. I have every right to defend my belief and argue for that position. But if I get to the point where I believe a denial of double predestination is a denial of God’s Word then there is an issue.
     
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  9. JonC

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    For my part, I am suggesting that systematic theology in general (all systematic theologies) are subjective when they get to the point that they do not directly reflect what is said in Scripture. This does not make them necessarily wrong. But it does introduce the potential for human error.

    Insofar as the Doctrines of Grace, I can't speak for Tom but I agree that they reflect the work of the Trinity. I don't want to be mistaken as speaking against the Doctrines of Grace here, as this is how I understand God's redemptive work.

    But I also see the Father as electing unconditionally and offering his Son. I see the Son as not only being made a guilt offering by the Father but also as laying down his life for his sheep. And I see the work of the Spirit in drawing us to God and keeping us to the end.
     
  10. TCassidy

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    Is Romans 14:5b NOT objective truth, and not revelation unveiled by the Spirit? :)

    And who, on this forum, holds to such a doctrine, and what is that doctrine?
     
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  11. TCassidy

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    I agree.

    So do I.

    Again, I agree.

    Neither do I, using that term. Just the name causes way too much strife. That is why I self-identify as either a Particular Baptist or a Sovereign Grace believer.

    So do I, in spite of those who claim I don't. :)
     
  12. JonC

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    I already said that we should stand on and defend our beliefs. But you are not saying that Romans 14:5b means that biblical truth is relevant to the conscious of the believer, are you? You are not suggesting that we "lean on our own understanding"...right?

    Throughout our interaction I'm sure that you've come to know that I appreciate the sermons of Spurgeon. In one of my favorite sermons he explains the fallacy present in our theologies - that fallacy of man. So please let's not pretend that I am suggesting a new idea.

    Scripture is objective truth. My understanding and your rejection of "double predestination" is not objective truth. You are not denying Scripture when you reject my theology. I am not denying Scripture when I reject your theology. Just because my conscious dictates that God decreed some to condemnation does not make it objective truth. We can disagree on a theological issue without denying Scripture.
    Who says the only doctrines we discuss are those held on the BB?
     
  13. TCassidy

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    I am saying that the bible says "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." I believe that. And I am "fully persuaded in my own mind" that "Salvation is of the Lord."

    I have never made such a suggestion. "There is nothing new under the sun." I am engaged on another forum with a man who previously believed as most baptists do but now believes that Jesus only became the Christ, the Word of God, at the time of the Incarnation. He went on (and on) to elaborate, in an incredibly complex post, his new concept. He was crushed when I explained to him it is just the old heresy called "adoptionism" declared to be heresy at the end of the 2nd century and was rejected by the Synods of Antioch and the First Council of Nicaea.

    So, if we all agree, who are you going to discuss it with?

    If I start a thread wherein I assert "This is the Baptist Board." How much discussion would I get?
     
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  14. JonC

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    I agree. I already said several times that I am speaking of theological issues not spelled out in Scripture. I believe salvation being of the Lord is not one of them.
    There are many beliefs we discuss here that are not actually held by members of this forum. Atheism, for example, has been discussed several times (as has Mormonism). Catholicism has been discussed in the Baptist only section. I do not see your objection here genuine, brother.

    But to clarify, out of fear that my inability to articulate would lead to people talking past one another, I almost did not post this as an open thread for discussion. If you look in the mod tools, you will see the difficulty I had (I closed it twice before deciding to take the chance).
     
  15. Martin Marprelate

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    But when a church or a professing Christian crosses a line into apostasy, are other Christians still united to him? This chap is a Baptist and claims to be an evangelical Christian; who wants to be united with him?
    http://christianconcern.com/our-con...e-chalkes-church-to-offer-same-sex-marriages?
    'But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than that which we preached to you, let him be accursed' (Gal. 1:8).
    Now I am very firmly a Particular or Reformed Baptist, but I don't regard Arminianism and Dispensationalism as apostasy, and therefore I don't tend to get as involved as some with the constant beating-up on DHK and Rev, even though I strongly disagree with them. However, I do regard the future bodily Return of Christ as an essential doctrine, and Penal Substitution as a very important one, so I will go in hard when these topics come up and I make no apology for that. However, others may regard these doctrines as unimportant and wonder why I get steamed up about them.

    My point is we may not all agree that we are united in Christ with each other. However, we should always conduct ourselves like Christians at all times, and I believe that the Mods should come down hard on those who fail to do so.
     
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  16. Rob_BW

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    If you started it? Most likely none.

    If some of the other posters on this board started the same thread, they would have a string of dumb and dislike ratings thrown at it.
     
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  17. TCassidy

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    Which are?
     
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  18. JonC

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    .
    Which are those doctrines that are derived from Scripture but that rely on our reasoning to answer questions not nescessarly being addressed in the Bible. My example was my belief in (and definition of) double predestination.
     
  19. TCassidy

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    So your forcing the unbiblical teaching of "double predestination" a Hyper Calvinist error, into the scriptures is your example?

    Can you think of another? One that someone else on this forum advocates?
     
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  20. JonC

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    Sure...your doctrinal objection to my understanding of double predestination.
     
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