Saturday, January 16, 2010

Helpful interchange for understanding modern theological liberalism


A local pastor friend of mine, Steve Rives, wrote a bold post confronting another local pastor.

Adam Hamilton is the pastor of the Church of the Resurrection (United Methodist) just a few miles away from us (Redeemer). The Church of the Resurrection was the fastest growing church in the U.S. at one point and I believe has a membership roll of well over 10,000 people. Mainline churches are predominantly liberal theologically denying the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, Christ as the only way of salvation, and heterosexual marriage as the biblical mandate, among other erroneous teachings. Adam Hamilton is no different, except he is exceptionally gifted at re-phrasing liberal disbelief in ways that seem so religious. He has found a masterful way of using evangelical-esque language to disarm, all the while cooking his congregation in the slow heating water of liberal theology and disbelief until they are boiling like the proverbial frog.

Pastor Steve Rives has determined the same thing and so wrote the following post. Amazingly, Adam Hamilton got wind of Steve's post and responded to Steve, also posted below. Finally, Steve responds to Adam.

This interchange will teach the reader a bit about modern theological liberalism (Adam Hamilton) and how slippery it is.

Pastor Steve Rives' letter to Adam Hamilton:

Adam Hamilton is the pastor of Church of the Resurrection — one of the largest churches in America and perhaps the largest church in the Kansas City area. He wrote the book, Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White. In 2007 I had to dive into this book, and I want to pull out a representative quote that should cause his supporters and his congregation great alarm.

Adam writes: How could the God of the parable of the Prodigal Son, who cries from the cross, “Father forgive them,” be the same God who says in Deuteronomy 32:41b-42 (NIV), “I will take vengeance on my adversaries and repay those who hate me. I will make my arrows drunk with blood, while my sword devours flesh”? Did God change, or did humanity grow a deeper and clearer understanding of God? The later is possible if we reject the idea that every word of Scripture was chosen by God and is “totally true and trustworthy” — Pastor Adam Hamilton, Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White, page 70-71 footnote 7.


Hamilton pits an Old Testament view of God against a supposedly different New Testament view (i.e., his view of Deuteronomy vs. his view of the Gospel Prodigal). But these two records of God are not two contrary views — where one is to be preferred over the other. Deuteronomy and the Gospels represent the one True God, not two gods. But Adam has it that humanity grew or evolved in an understanding of what God is like, and this development can be traced in scripture. The Bible, in this way of thinking, is not God’s Word to man, but is man’s reflections on who or what God is. And so Adam is able to embrace it is as a growing document that corrects itself and improves with time.


Adam says that we can reconcile what he sees as a problem. Namely, if we jettison the idea that the Bible is “totally true and trustworthy” we can get to the kind of God that fits the right way to think about God. That is, the loving God of the Prodigal Son can be found in the Bible, and the non-loving God can be seen for what he was: the invention of fallible men (so goes Adam’s basic argument).


The true solution lies elsewhere. Instead of pitting the Old Testament against the New Testament, we are better to accept that God’s Word is totally true and trustworthy, and then explore why it is that Adam (and maybe others like him) have a problem with that true and trustworthy revelation. It is okay to struggle with the Bible, and to seek how to work out the meaning of the text, but Adam’s solution is no solution at all. He ends up without a Bible from God, and when he does that, he erases his original problem. By attributing the hard parts of the Bible to human error, he rejects what God has really revealed about himself. It may satisfy him that he
doesn’t have to struggle with what God is like, but it means he chiseled God into a mold that better matches his image and expectations.

Whatever it is that is troubling Adam about Deuteronomy, the problem is not with revelation itself. The problem is the way Adam is coming to it. In his pride, however, he rejects the revelation. That is, he exalts himself above God’s Word and calls it mistaken. Adam must abandon this way of thinking and his own solution. Adam is in the same boat as the rest of us. We all must accept the Bible. Therein we discover from the Word of God itself that God is ultimate — he indeed creates people that are the objects of his wrath (see Romans 9:19-26). This may trouble us, but we can explore the ramifications of this teaching by first accepting it.



Adam will not have a God who says, “I will take vengeance on my adversaries and repay those who hate me. I will make my arrows drunk with blood, while my sword devours flesh.” Why would God do this and be like this? That is the better question. It is better to explore that than to explore the path Adam proposes. Adam is not in charge here. We don’t have to accept his ideas. But he wants us to reject the revelation of God and follow his teaching. But we can’t. We can’t because it is not right for us to assume that the Bible is the creation of mere men. Instead, we should accept the Bible as totally trustworthy. At that point, it may be permissible to humbly ponder, “Why is God like God?”


Adam wants to ask, “How has mankind grown up and bettered their view of God?” But the Bible does not represent mankind’s evolving view of God. That is Adam’s first mistake. The Bible represents God as God (it is totally trustworthy and true)! The Bible is an accurate telling of who God is and why.


Adam has made himself a priest of what is revelation. That is, now that Adam seems to know which parts of the Bible are not representing God, he has exalted himself as the one who can tell the rest of us which parts are about God (accurately) and the other parts which are not trustworthy. Adam is like a new Adam or a new Moses. He makes himself higher than he is.



The reason Adam can’t see through to a better solution is because he has adopted the ideas of so-called “higher criticism” (which he articulates and defends in Chapter 8 of his book). These ideas are nothing more than a renewing of the early heresy of
Marcion. The church identified teachers of this system as Heretics.

Here is what saddens me most: One of the largest churches in the world accepts Adam as their teacher (even after he has clearly published his views). Scores of thoughtful people are supporting Adam and his ministry. When I have brought this to the attention of people who attend his church, they defend him and their church. This is stunning. They have replaced affection for truth with affection for one single instance of an institution. They seem to protect their idea of a particular community and the significance of that organization (a place where they themselves are plugged-in, accepted and loved) more than fundamental convictions about God — convictions which may drive them to strike out and go where the revelation of God is ultimate and not the filtering abilities of the pastors (a place where Christ is worshiped in Spirit and in Truth).



I conclude that some people would rather stay under a false teacher (and promote his work) than to embrace the clear teachings of Scripture. I want to address these very people. To them I say: Look at Jesus. Observe how he left his glorious position from above and came among us to live the life of a slave. If Jesus can divest himself of all his privileges, then we can abandon the meaningful relationships of a group that is under a teacher of heresy.


Dear Church of the Resurrection, I beg of you, reject the heresy of Adam Hamilton and embrace that the Bible is totally true and trustworthy. Call Adam to repent. If he will not correct his writings, and you stay and support him, then you participate in his guilt. You have a holy
responsibility in this. You will be held responsible for enabling the publication of this falsehood. Adam may love you, he may seem so nice, he may be a great teacher, he may speak eloquently about the love of God and he may advance the cause of the poor and needy. Satan (if you believe in him) would have you to support a false teacher exactly for these reasons. False teachers are enabled by you when you overlook their error because of their virtues. You can have an orthodox pastor and continue your ministry. You are not in an either-or position. Call Adam to repentance, or find a repentant pastor. Then call all of your leaders to repentance for overlooking this book. Your church will have a great revival if you do this. And Adam will be blessed if you call him to this repentance. If you love your pastor, then help him! He is worth your effort. It is worth your energy to get this right and to help your leaders and your pastor. If your church will not listen, and if Adam will not repent, then don’t be surprised. Adam rejects the clear teaching of Deuteronomy about God, why would he listen to you? If he is too proud to bend to the Bible, then he will be too proud to bend to you. But the Holy Spirit uses people just like you to help the proud. So mobilize around this, go to him, help him, you can do it. And you all can make it and overcome this.

Sincerely, Steve Rives


Adam Hamilton responds to Steve's post:

Dear Steve,

I would invite your readers to read the entire chapter in Seeing Gray that you are referring to and not simply the quote you’
ve included here.

I stand by what I wrote there – it attempts to capture both God’s inspiration of scripture and the humanity of the authors who heard God’s word and understood God’s purposes in the light of their own times and theological framework. I believe that Jesus is the definitive Word from God – unmitigated – and that all other words about God must be judged in the light of the revelation of God that came to us in Christ. I would reject Marcion’s claims – and find it interesting that you would seek to associate me with his views.

I hope your readers will take the time to read the chapter and come to their own conclusions.


Most mainline pastors and theologians, many moderates in your own denomination, and an increasing number of evangelicals recognize that inspiration does not preclude the human authors of scripture from seeing and understanding the promptings of the Spirit in the light of the prevailing understanding of God in their time.

In Seeing Gray I raised the question many thinking people ask when reading the Bible: How do we reconcile the character of God revealed in Jesus Christ with those handful of pictures of God in the Old Testament in which God appears cruel, unjust and unmerciful?
Your readers might appreciate reading Dennis Bratcher’s article on the inerrancy debate at http://www.crivoice.org/inerrant.html.


A couple of helpful books written by evangelical scholars include The Biblical Canon by Lee Martin McDonald published by
Hendrickson and Craig Allert’s A High View of Scripture? published by Baker Academic. One last word – you noted in your response to Woody that you wrote your column out of love for me. I might suggest that another way of expressing that love might have been to actually seek to share your concerns with me personally, rather than writing an open letter to the church I serve.

Blessings in your work at
Eastside.

Adam Hamilton


A brief note on Hamilton's final statement gently scolding Steve for not speaking privately with him- Hamilton's views are public and published. His book is erroneous and guilty of deep theological error and heresy. Thus, due to the public nature of Hamilton's teaching, it was proper for Steve to address the letter as he did.

Pastor Steve Rives' response to Hamilton:

Dear Adam,

You wrote:
“I believe that Jesus is the definitive Word from God – unmitigated – and that all other words about God must be judged in the light of the revelation of God that came to us in Christ.”

You are mistaken to believe that we must judge the Old Testament (which is included in your phrase, “all other words about God…”) in the light of Jesus. We read the Old Testament in the light of Jesus, we do not judge it. By proposing that we use Jesus to judge the Old Testament, you have it that there are parts of the OT that we can now recognize as not Christ-like. You make Jesus judge over the rest of revelation. You pit text-revelation (the Bible) against Flesh-Revelation (Jesus). But Jesus is not the judge over God’s Word. Jesus is the judge of the world (and he will come in wrath and glory) but he is not our paradigm as judge over the written Word. We are under the Bible, not over it (not even in the name of Christ are we over it).


Contrary to your suggestion, God’s
inscripturated Word is as equally unmitigated as his incarnated Word. That’s why Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matt 5:17). Jesus never reflected your sentiment, but really the opposite. He said, “If you believed Moses you would believe me; for he wrote about me” (John 5:45). Jesus never gave the sense of correcting the Old Testament as one who reveals the standard by which to discover the false parts (as where you said he appears, “cruel, unjust and unmerciful”), but he points to himself as embodying and fulfilling the Old Testament. Jesus is the very God who is exactly like the verse you reject in your book: Deuteronomy 32:41b-42 (see Revelation 14:19-20).

You cannot reject parts of Moses’ books (even if you reject them in the name of Christ) and still have Christ, for Jesus said, “But if you don’t believe his writings, how will you believe my words ?” (John 5:46).


You have not given textual evidence why you reject parts of the Old Testament, just theological argumentation. You have not refuted that you are
Marcion, but only denied it. You did not defend your position, but affirmed it and pointed to others who you claim to be like you (which is not a defense).

Your church has a holy obligation to deal with your persistent lack of repentance. This is not a private matter between you and me, this is a matter of your public writings. May God have mercy on you and bring you to the great joy of seeing that Scripture is “Yes and Amen” in Jesus. As it stands, you are arguing on the side of Satan who is the first to have uttered these words, “Has God Really Said… ?” (Gen 3:1).


You are in a fearful position, you and all those who are afraid to oppose you. But God is good, merciful and ready to forgive. You can repent, and he will enjoy your change of mind! Those around you can be bold and bring this to a good resolution, but do not delay, for we are not to treat God’s patience presumptuously.


I say this even as I find myself repenting of my own sins,

Pastor Steve Rives


Steve Rives is the pastor of Eastside Church of the Cross in Louisburg, Kansas

17 comments:

Michael Lockridge said...

This reminds me of a time, long ago, when I was a new Christian and fellowshipping with a variety of believers in Germany. I was then a soldier. We fellowshipped at the Overseas Christian Servicemen's Center, a mission. We were encouraged to attend the local chapels run by the military, as a witness and an act of faithfulness.

The most popular chaplain was a liberal theologian, who used his dynamic personality and skills to build a huge following.

We learned over time that he was from an evangelical background, and had a personal event that turned him away from that view of God. However, he loved religion and had found an avenue of compromise that allowed him to continue in religious practice.

He would preach right up to the Good News, and then tell the people that God loved them just as they were. It was very sad, but a great lesson for a young Christian saved from outside of the Christian culture.

Other people and events come to mind on this matter, but I have taken up enough space for the moment.

The upside of the exchange you shared is that there is dialog. Too often error goes unchallenged.

Mike

Zach said...

Come now, aren't we being a little hard on ol' Adam Hamilton? It strikes me that, regarding the canon of Scripture, he's a worthy successor to Luther, the Reformer par excellence. After all, Adam is treating Deuteronomy in much the same manner that Luther treated James, Jude, Revelation, Hebrews, Esther, Jonah, and Ecclesiastes (among others).

About James, Luther wrote: "He [James] mangles the Scriptures and thereby opposes Paul and all Scripture. He tries to accomplish by harping on the law what the apostles accomplish by stimulating people to love. Therefore I will not have him in my Bible to be numbered among the true chief books . . . One man is no man in worldly things; how then, should this single man alone avail against Paul and all Scripture."

About Jude, he wrote: "But this letter does not seem to have been written by the real apostle. . . Nor does it contain anything special. . ."

About Revelation: "I miss more than one thing in this book, and this makes me hold it to be neither apostolic nor prophetic. . . And so I think of it almost as I do of the Fourth Book of Esdras, and can nohow detect that the Holy Spirit produced it. . .There is one sufficient reason for me not to think highly of it -- Christ is not taught or known in it."

About Hebrews: ". . . to be sure, we cannot put it on the same level with the apostolic epistles"

About Esther: "I am so great an enemy to the second book of the Maccabees, and to Esther, that I wish they had not come to us at all, for they have too many heathen unnaturalities." And elsewhere, "Esther…which despite their [the Jews] inclusion of it in the canon deserves more than all the rest in my judgment to be regarded as noncanonical."

About Ecclesiastes: “Ecclesiastes has neither boots nor spurs, but rides in socks, as I did when I was in the cloister."

Now, if we are able to laud Martin Luther as a great hero of the faith despite his attempts to diminish great swaths of Holy Writ because he deems them inferior relative to other parts of Scripture, are we not then hypocritical to claim that Adam Hamilton, in doing the very same thing, is "arguing on the side of Satan"?

Reepicheep said...

Zach,

Luther was used of God to start the needed Reformation, but he wasn't right on everything. Too bad the Cardinal who oversaw his first RC court appearance wasn't aware of his deficiencies like you seem to be. Heck, too bad the Cardinal didn't even know his own Canon Law (or the bible). It's always funny to me when RC's jump to liberal protestants aid.

Luther was simply opposing the RC monster and Pope Leo X (the the Vicar of Christ par excellence. Big NOT).

As for the impact of Luther's view- no major doctrine of Scripture was violated by Luther's narrow view of the Canonical books, unlike Marcion and Hamilton.

Luther's faith was Apostolic and certainly Nicene. This can't be said of Marcion or Hamilton.

Zach said...

"No major doctrine of Scripture was violated" by Luther's deprecation and attempted diminution of the Scriptures? I think there's a self-refuting idea in there somewhere.

If you think I'm defending Hamilton or liberal Protestants, you missed the intended irony in my post. My point was that Hamilton and Luther are doing exactly the same thing -- I don't think there's any denying that -- and what's good for the goose is good for the gander. The only thing that makes Luther a good Protestant and Hamilton a bad one is that you happen to agree with Luther.

Reepicheep said...

Z, I guess I did miss your irony.

Luther and Hamilton are vastly different.

Luther disputed certain books based on authorship. His way of determining authorship wasn't always solid, but that's his reasoning. His view of Scripture, however, was right on- it is inspired,inerrant, authoritative, and sufficient. If a book was indeed canonical, it had the full weight of authority.

Hamilton doesn't believe any book of the bible is necessarily indpired, inerrant, authorititave, or sufficient. It's all fair game to him. He takes passages about Jesus and applies them as a standard for determining reliablity of other texts (never mind the canonicity of those texts).

From this weakened view of Scripture, Hamilton commits manifold other errors.

Finally, using the label "Protestant" is not too helpful here though it allows for you to take a cheap shot.

The issues is Christianity VS Liberalism. Two different religions all together. That's why I agree with Luther, for all his foibles. No, I don't think there really is too much the same about Hamilton and Luther. At least neither were Papists.

steve.rives said...

Zach,

Thankfully, Luther isn't the test here. Hamilton is committed to his view because he rejects what he sees as God's cruel nature. That is the Marcion grid. Luther was not using a Marcion grid (whatever he was doing), and so this is not simply a matter of Adam rejecting scripture, it is also WHY he is rejecting it. It is bad enough if a person is confused on the scope of the scriptures, another thing altogether if they have a precomiitment that God is not like the God of Deuteronomy 32. Adam outright rejects that God is like God.

What is always true in a theological discussion is the need for a careful use of distinctions. It is when we equate things that are not to be equated that we suffer from inaccuracy. It would be inaccurate to equate Luther and Hamilton in this instance. If Luther were alive to write (and cared to do so), he would oppose Hamilton as Marcion. The reason is because Luther accepted what God said about himself in terms of his wrath and justice. In fact, the wrath of God and the justice of God inform the entire system of thought that Luther sought to advance (namely, justification deals with how a wicked man can be made right with a just God who has wrath).

Hamilton is willing to domesticate God and remove his fangs, and so a wicked man (an enemy of God) need not fear that his blood will engulf the arrows of God. This is Hamilton's whole point in the quote above.

Certainly Luther was in error (if the quotes you give prove accurate -- and I assume they do). But his error is of a different kind.

And that is another thing that we are able to do in theology. We are able to weigh the relative seriousness of error. This is not because we are confused about what error is, but we understand the main thrust and themes of God's book. And one of his main themes is the very one that Luther sought to get right: Justification.

Finally. it is not virtuous to defend Hamilton when the only thing required is his repentance. If his error was an honest mistake, fine. But now he must recant. God is good that way, he lets us recant of our error. The solution here is not that since Luther was mistaken we don't call Adam to correction. Otherwise, we would never call any sinner to repentance for we can enumerate the sins of greater men. For example, King David committed adultery, therefore who are we to judge adultery? That sort of thinking is only helpful if we have a perverted desire to assist sinners in hiding from the wrath of a just God.

Hope this helps, as the main point is that we are right to (and we must) make distinctions. Luther is distinct from Hamilton on this point (though Luther is not innocent).

Steve Rives

Woody Woodward said...

My first reply’s to Brother Steve's blog: Jan 15, 2010
Wow! Right on Steve! Speaking the truth is hard but the Lord’s stern warnings from your powerful pen came through loud and clear! You will receive much criticism but rest in Truth, for we know that God will bless only truth!
My wife and I were part of Resurrection for 9 years. But after his infamous April 2004 sermon on embracing lies over truth, I knew I had to face the lies and it was past-time to address the pastor. Now, “if I boast I boast in the Lord”, we stood up and made our voice known. Following Matthew 18:15-18 and Galatians 6:1-4 we addressed his departure from the truth, gave him an opportunity to recant and when he refused, my wife and I were part of the 2004 exodus. Looking back, leaving was the hardest thing we have ever done, but beyond any doubt, God blessed our obedience! After wondering in our spiritual wilderness for over a year, searching for a home, our Gracious Lord, “who judges the thoughts and the intentions of the heart,” sent us where the truth is proclaimed and will never be compromised for the sake of political correctness! But the real issue was not this one sermon; the core issue was inerrancy of Scripture. If you don’t believe that God’s Word is TRUTH absolute TRUTH, then your opinion is more valid than mine. It is as I told Pastor Adam when I left, “Adam, if you love people, you tell them truth!”

Zach said...

"At least neither were Papists." Whoa, Tony, talk about a cheap shot! :)

And just for the record, the last time I checked, United Methodists (even the liberal ones) were universally regarded as Protestants, so I don't see how referring to them as such is objectionable.

I won't carry this on too much longer, but I think it's important to note that Luther, despite what you're arguing, does follow the exact same process in downplaying James that Hamilton does in downplaying Deuteronomy.

1. Both come to the table with their minds made up regarding a point of theology. (Luther on Sola Fide, Hamilton on the gentleness of God)

2. Both find certain support for their views in Scripture. (Luther in Paul's epistles, Hamilton in Christ's parables)

3. Both are confronted, however, with other passages of Scripture that seem to contradict their pet views. (Luther with James' apparent denial of Sola Fide, Hamilton with Deuteronomy's presentation of a vengeful God)

4. Both then attempt to establish their preferred Scriptures as the standard by which the non-preferred Scriptures are to be judged.

The application of this ad hoc standard inevitably results in suppressing the non-preferred Scriptures. Hamilton leaves them in the canon, but argues that "all other words about God must be judged in the light of the revelation of God that came to us in Christ."

Luther also leaves them in the canon, but -- just like Hamilton -- denigrates them as less important writings that must be subordinated to his preferred Scriptures. He writes regarding James:

"I do not regard it as the writing of an apostle, and my reasons follow. In the first place it is flatly against St. Paul and all the rest of Scripture in ascribing justification to works (2:24). It says that Abraham was justified by his works when he offered his son Isaac (2:20); Though in Romans 4:22-22 St. Paul teaches to the contrary that Abraham was justified apart from works, by his faith alone, before he had offered his son, and proves it by Moses in Genesis 15:6. Although it would be possible to 'save' the epistle by a gloss giving a correct explanation of justification here ascribed to works, it is impossible to deny that it does refer to Moses' words in Genesis 15 (which speaks not of Abraham's works but of his faith, just as Paul makes plain in Romans 4) to Abraham's works. This fault proves that this epistle is not the work of any apostle."

Substitute the particulars of Hamilton's beef with Deuteronomy, and the preceding passage could have been written by Hamilton. So you can attempt to distinguish Luther's methodology as being based on authorship concerns, but as we've seen, the very reason why Luther casts aspersions on James' authorship is that Luther sees James as contradicting his opinions -- and the scriptures that are more supportive of them. Luther was wrong to do so. Hamilton was wrong to do so. But, in the end, guys like Hamilton are just using Protestant tools-of-the-trade to take the "protest" a little further.

Reepicheep said...

Steve, thanks for your letter to Hamilton and your comments here. Very helpful.

Zach, take note :)

Zach said...

Steve,

I, too, thank you for your comment. I want to assure you that I am not defending Adam Hamilton.

I think both his means (monkeying with Scripture) and his ends (attempting to support his erroneous theory about God's nature) are wrong.

Then again, I think both Luther's means (monkeying with Scripture) and his ends (attempting to support his erroneous theory about God's justification of man) are wrong.

I realize that you think Luther's ends are correct, which would mean he was merely desecrating the Scriptures for a good cause. But what I was attempting to get you to see is that Luther opened a Pandora's box with his methodology -- and Adam Hamilton (and a thousand others like him) are the inevitable result.

Perry said...

I've often wondered about certain pictures on some people's blogposts. I see you have the UMC symbol at the top of this post. I know you're not using the picture in an offensive or negative way. But, I still wonder, don't you have to have permission to use that on your post?

Rick Calohan said...

Wow, how I refrained from commenting on this post must truly be a gift from the Holy Spirit! ; )

Zach: Methodist are simply Baptist who learned how to read.

Reepicheep said...

Perry,
Copyrighted pictures can't be posted on a blog without permission. Further, paysites (sites or blogs that generate income for the creator) can't use pictures without permission.

There are hosts of public domain pictures stored all over the internet. The UMC pic came from such a site.

Woody Woodward said...

Sure like to see Pastor Adam chime in, but I won't hold my breath.

Joe said...

I'm jumping in here late, but just a few comments:

1. Bravo to Steve.

2. As Steve mentioned, Luther isn't the issue here, but just as an aside, the Luther quotes showed he was a fallible man, and thankfully the Reformation church didn't follow him in his error, UNLIKE the Church of the Resurrection which is apparently following Hamilton in his error.

3. Bravo to Steve. (Did I say that already?)

Joe V.

YPPDAN said...

Hi, I am a young seminary student. I know I am about 3 years late on commenting but I came across this blog searching for articles about the inerrancy of the Bible. I don't care what side of the argument I hear, I think it equips me for ministry either way. I know not everyone I come across in ministry will think the same. Conversations like this is especially helpful in understanding the central issues on both sides.

Minus the theological argument though, I think Steve was in the wrong in writing this kind of letter publicly to the Resurrection congregation in the way that he did. Especially if their churches are close to each other, this is not respecting the ministry of the Resurrection church. I have no beef with Steve arguing Adam's views but the letter was not loving, in my opinion. Speaking with Adam privately, as colleagues, might have been more helpful. I am sure Steve doesn't believe that what he teaches at his church is the only way to be Christian either. I don't agree theologically with my roommate but I am not going to email his youth group and tell them what I think is wrong about his teaching and that my roommate needs to repent.

I also agree with Zach in that whether you agree with the conclusion, Luther and Adam's methods are the same. My church history has taught me that the Reformation opened the Pandora's box in the way we have come to read the bible. If the Catholic church is not going to have the final say then anyone can have a say. That is the trade off.

Whether Steve agrees that parts of the Bible seem to disagree with each other or not, non-religious and non church goers are asking these kinds of questions. I think from reading about the Resurrection church and their focus, Adam is focused on equipping his members to be able to engage with non christians who ask the hard questions. The "we can believe in the Bible because the Bible said so..." argument doesn't work on people that have no belief in the bible at all. In most cases, those are the precise issues that turn them off.

All in all, I think theological talks must begin with faith that the other person is not just trying to destroy the truth but simply trying to understanding and get to the truth in their own way.



tinatea said...

Thank you for this very important matter being posted . I am in awe of how many of my Church family members are paying so much attention to A.H. . It was clear to me after one small Bible study that he was putting God in a box and twisting scripture to fit his ideas.. Wrong is wrong and he is Wrong. Please keep up the good work . I am sad hes intrancing so many people at my church to take on his mindset. Little bit of mind control going on with this guy and he just needs to go . God Bless Sincerly Tina Arnold