Just a few words about this past week's "tiff" in the blogosphere. You know the infamous "video." (Strike's up Darth Vader's theme from Star Wars).
If you'll notice, I've kept out of this...until now. I'll be catching flack for this.
1. We need to distinguish for a moment between what is said because of a reaction to what many of us experienced in the past and the relation of the Pauline order. The Pauline order in Romans, for example, is not - hear me well - a prospectus for evangelistic method. It's a theology text that follows the the order of knowing, rather than the order of being. The Reformers, even the ogre of many, Beza, stated that Romans provided the order for learning theology in a teleological fashion from what the believer has experienced to the more heady doctrine of God (ergo: depravity, justification, sanctification, the ordu salutis, election). Beza went the other direction in his Tabula, as did Perkins in Golden Chaine, but they both said this could not be understood apart from the Pauline order first. This "ontological order" was for the classroom for the mature Christian who already understood the doctrines from the other direction.
But we're not teaching theology in the classroom when we do evangelism. We aren't giving a prospectus for theology or theological method; we're sharing the gospel, and that is often tailored to the individual situation.
Many of us come from antinomian, easy-believism backgrounds. Its natural to react negatively to this video. But this leads me to
2. We need to separate our emotional reaction from our reasoned response. I am on record as stating that I have a far greater issue with the easy believism of the SBC and the IFBx people than the Wesleyans. I'd rather coopeate with the later in a single effort if necessary than the former. I disagree with the whole idea of prevenient grace in their theology. I disagree with "free will" as they define it. But they are just as horrified by easy believism as I am, and I am not going to mistake the objectivity of what Christ did and the scope and effectuality of the cross and grace with a person's subjective beliefs about the structure of the ordu salutis. I certainly am not going to evaluate an entire ministry based on a single video. What's next, shall the non-equivalentalists among those who believe in particular redemption and the equivalentalists squabble if one side allegedly muddles the doctrine of atonement?
3. Just this past month and again this past week, I was castigated by one James Jay, a man with no church - go figure - and one who has apparently interacted with James White. Mr. Jay thinks that it's not enough that I believe in particular redemption, defend it, and teach it myself, but I have to label all general redemptionists (and that includes Amyraldians and other "4 Pointers" out there, not just Lutherans, Arminians, and others) "unregenerate." Apparently, you have to perform that single work of superogation in order to be "truly saved," not just "TR." Of course, when I learned he had no church, it was pretty easy to tell him not to bother criticizing me, my ministry, or my church when he is not part of one himself- and he likely never will be, since he's the only one going to heaven - him and a group about the size of the Heaven's Gate cult.
I had planned to post that conversation on my church blog in toto to show them what a real hyper-Calvinist is like. I think now I'll post it here as well with no comment options (because Mr. Jay has forfeited the right to interact under Titus 3), just to give us all a little reminder of where this sort of fiestiness can lead if we don't police ourselves more closely. And this goes for people on both sides of the issue. You see, nobody really starts out like Mr. Jay; it takes time. Today, they seem perfectly reasonable, but they keep on and on and on, until one day they are off in a corner begging for a dime for a cup of proverbial coffee and talking to themselves is a schizophrenic fit. So, I think what I'll do is provide the moral equivalent of an object lesson, rather like taking your kids to the local jail to show them what life is really like. It's a lesson they will hopefully never forget.