Kissing Josh Harris Goodbye
Josh Harris informed the world that he no longer considers himself a Christian.
He didn’t really say why, though he did apologize for the usual litany of conservative Christian beliefs.
It’s obvious that at the very least, he’s deconstructing his faith, probably in light of personal crises.
I’ve had some very close friends enter the same process in the midst of great disappointments, tragedy, abuse, depression, and other factors.
The interesting thing to me isn’t Harris’s announcement…I’ve never found him to be that interesting at all, frankly.
The interesting thing to me has been the reactions of other professing believers.
“If he were ever a real Christian, he would never leave…”
“I could never do that…”
“Once you’ve really met Jesus, you would never leave Him…”
“It just proves he was never one of us…”
Evidently, the story of “doubting” Thomas was erased from their copy of the inerrant Scriptures…
If Harris is actually an apostate, then the proper response is mourning and prayers that Jesus will leave the 99 to bring back the one.
If he’s simply going through a very dark night of the soul, then the same response is proper.
Self righteous condemnation and the constant presentation of your spiritual superiority won’t help him and makes some of us nauseous.
I’ve spent a lot of time in some very dark places..so close to the edge of leaving…and it wasn’t the harping of the religious that kept me in the faith, it was the kindness of Jesus incarnated in His people that did.
Some of you are so excited about the possibility of someone else going to hell that you make hell a preferable destination to spending eternity with you.
I stay close to my doubting friends and the ones who have left the faith…because if I leave them now it simply means that the only reason I loved them in the first place was because they affirmed my own beliefs and that was where I found value in them.
That is nothing more than narcissism.
So I pray that Harris and all my friends find their way back home…while I pray that some of my other friends find the humility to help shine the light on that path for them.
Make your own application…
Thank you for this.
Thank you for still being my friend.
You and I will always be friends.
Well said, Michael. I saved my rant about that whole mess for the Linkathon thread. Here you are addressing something far more important: a brother who has wandered off. May Joshua Harris find peace with our Lord again, a quiet peace without the need for book tours or social media announcements or a large audience. Just a simple faith among others who have the same- a trusted group that will be there in the pain and joy, no matter what.
I just posted this on linkathon, refreshed and found this article from Michael, so will share here too.
thx for posting Michael. This one is a tough one to swallow.
I wonder for the leader who ultimately decides to walk away from the faith in this manner, does it really help to make a public renunciation of their faith?, why not just leave quietly? A public renunciation like this certainly brings collateral damage including discouraging others in their faith.
Will certainly pray for this person to return to his maker.
Jesus is LORD and he has restored the habitation of God to his people via his breath which lives in us. Apparently, someone has lost their breath. As usual this is not the end of the story and we will see what turns it takes. For sure it is long past time that we surrendered pet doctrines about whether one can leave Jesus. Clearly they can and many have. Among the things surprising in this day and time is the vastness of this apostasy wave. It is as vast as the thin mist into which so many cast their allegiance and called it Christianity.
I know Jesus it is as plain as that. 10,000 more such defections have nothing to do with that reality. He is breath and life. I am sorry for Josh. I am sorry that losing faith was as fragile as losing virginity. When one is known primarily for their moralisms we should not be shocked when the foundations that held it give way. Surely there was more to his foundation than a crusade for sexual purity but then again perhaps not.
It is also clear that the foundations of fundamentalist Christianity have fallen prey to the certainty which failed to shield them. Ultimately fundamentalism is a rationalism and that is insufficient to save us. Let us not minimize the egregious damage he has wreaked but still we can wish him well as he goes and keep the door open for his return.
Thank you Michael. That was an encouraging word. It exemplified the heart of Jesus.
The return of BD…my day has been made. 🙂
“It is also clear that the foundations of fundamentalist Christianity have fallen prey to the certainty which failed to shield them. Ultimately fundamentalism is a rationalism and that is insufficient to save us.”
Amen and amen…
Thank you Michael.
Praying for Josh to find his way home.
Things like this tend to be contagious. I hope not. It’s so grievous. If he is simply reacting to years of self-enforced legalism, then, when he heals, the pendulum could swing back. Maybe then he could settle into a more measured approach and his faith may thrive again. Prayer, indeed.
Oops! Reading that some are predicting he will “come out”. Things are sad enough. I hope that’s a joke.
Josh Harris is quite found, as are we all.
…a sheep on the shoulders of his Shepherd
…a coin that the owner is rejoicing over, safe in her hand
…a son with a ring on his finger at the party we’re all at
It’s only the Pharisees who insist on muttering, and the older brothers among us who grumble and refuse to dance
Amen, Michael… GMan, is all heart, but skewed – in my humble old opinion… ?
My faith in the fate of the followers rests in the parable of the seeds… Hopefully, Harris has good roots and faith will grow again
Jesus’ stories, 3 of them, emphasize the joy of “found-ness”, and the fact the coin, the lamb, and the son couldn’t do anything to be lost or disowned to their owners or families. All three are cherished by everyone except the Pharisees, who were ALSO at the party, but couldn’t dance, rejoice and fellowship.
A good word, Michael. We need to pray for him and his family.
Yes, there is something to be said about staying close to a fallen friend/brother who has wandered away. However, there is also something to be said about keeping a safe distance from a raging lunatic who is jumping off a spiritual cliff and inviting others to join him. I don’t know Joshua H motive but I’m inclined to err on keeping a safe distance from an apostate not because I wish him harm but rather he may wish me harm. I’m still a believer and this may be enemy territory. I pray those gifted to reach these folks will do so joyfully. I just don’t have that gift and I don’t think many do.
Gman, the joy of “foundness” ? We agree … ?
Job 6:14 –
“To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend, Even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty. ” NKJV
Indeed, the only Army that shoots its’ wounded.
Good words Michael…
Of course I am grieved for the Harris family… so sad for them all….
There is a vast different between Faith in Jesus Christ…and church culture, which continues to produce victims more and more so.
I don’t know the specifics, so I won’t comment specifically about Harris. However, here is what I believe is at issue:
Some of the comments here and elsewhere are focused on the subject, Harris, and what he says, said and when. Then folks plug Harris’ sayings into their theological system and come out with “He was never saved,” or “He was saved, but not anymore,” or “He was saved, so his salvation cannot be lost.”
The way I see it is that salvation is a gift. A gift is not imposed nor is it earned. “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”
A gift must be subjectively received by the recipient. What receives the gift of salvation? Faith: I believe!
A gift can be rejected. “I heard your sermon, pastor, and I don’t believe it!. Jesus is a hoax. Christianity is the opioid of the masses. The resurrection of the dead is insane. God becoming incarnate by a Jewish virgin is a fantasy; etc.”
So the gift, Christ’s atonement for the sins of the world, is wasted in many cases. Some of this great seed falls along the path; other seed falls on rocky ground; still other seed falls among the thorn bushes. But, there is seed that falls in good soil: “they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.”
There have been long stretches in my life when the seed fell along the path. There have been other stretches when it fell in with the thorn bushes. But Christ, through his masks, that is faithful Christians that I knew, kept on scattering the seed my way. Eventually seed found some good soil in my heart and Lord willing that seed has found a permanent place to plant deep roots and bear fruit.
Let’s face it, on the face of it, Harris is in a bad place. I wouldn’t wish his place on anyone. However, while it is “today,” may the Word of God find him, repent him, and give him a new heart. The Word of God is conveyed through preachers. Thus, my prayer is that God would send him a preacher and give Mr. Harris an ear to hear the Gospel and to believe it. It is a living word, and it pierces deep. Faith in Jesus is his only eternal hope!
Point being, no one should consider any person “unfound”
The father celebrates BOTH children, declaring them equal offspring, regardless and in spite of each one’s behavior. Nothing either child could have done would disqualify their place in the family, according to their father.
I don’t know why it posted me as “Ramdall,” LOL!
Job is saying that kindness should be our first reaction, even if they really have forsaken the fear of the Almighty. We do not know that Josh has, but we can see that there is some kind of a struggle he is enduring. So, we should react in kindness.
Gman and Randall, sometimes the kindest thing one can do is make sure those we know are aware of where they are going – even if our words (loving and kind ones) are dismissed as coming from a ” know nothing” evangelical… or….. insert Christian of your choice. ?
I’ve never heard of this fellow. If I’ve heard correctly he’s separated from his wife. That’s not a fun place to be, believe me. Talk about disorientation. It colors all aspects of life, including ones faith. But the Lord will not let him, or anyone else, go easy.
“If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!”
Meanwhile it is overlooked that the prodigal was found on the way home.
Is it possible that some of those who seem angry and unloving might actually just be afraid? Afraid that if someone they looked up to can’t make, how can they? It leaves them with dark thoughts that can have temporary relief in sayings like “he was never really saved.” Then they can cling on to the hope that they are lucky enough to be one of the elect. Sorry if this doesn’t make sense, but I am typing on a phone – one of my greatest frustrations in life.
Josh will be okay, simply because he belongs to God.
I do wish that he would deconstruct his love for the limelight.
God tells us to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. It does not tell us to examine others.
I will say I’m glad that my prodigal years were before marriage and family. I was certainly a fool, but a fool alone.
May Josh Harris discover the Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus. Perhaps for the very first time.
Also, totally with Michael with this post. I can’t bring myself to read people’s comments about this matter.
Maybe I’m, no I am the odd ball in this topic.
You all seem to focus on his salvation and will he get to heaven at some point. It’s my opinion that judgement belongs solely with God, our creator. So, I really have no comment about his faith in God.
Where I’m bothered is here’s another broken home, children with a part time parent, and extended family, friends and those who look up to him (some saying “yes,”while others say “oh no”) are being broken over this. None of us live in a vacuum and all our decisions effect others and Harris is effecting a whole lot more than we care to sometimes see.
In a sense this is similar to PFM, except while others aren’t directly abused, many will feel abused by his revelations.
It’s all pretty nasty.
Something that comes to mind is that … granting Trueman’s article was salient in a lot of ways, last year was the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Francis Schaeffer’s book The God Who is There. Here we are half a century later and … what’s Frank Schaeffer up to? How influential could we realistically say francis Schaeffer’s ideas have been? The 50th anniversary would have seemed like an occasion for a retrospective but not much was written. The celebrity Christians, even at the level of a Francis Schaeffer (who, let me be clear, I do not think was just a celebrity Christian in some pejorative sense but a Christian), can turn out to have a negligible legacy.
Harris became famous for a whole lot less than Francis Schaeffer was known for. If he’s turned out to be more like a Frank than a Francis then Trueman’s comments about the legacy admission aspect of the evangelical scene are worth keeping in mind. How many of these folks actually sought out the roles they walked into. The process of working out that there was nothing about following Christ and loving neighbor that required me to stay at Mars Hill, for instance, took years. Harris may have left the faith for a time or for good but having seen enough of how what I’d call the legacy conscription dynamic plays out in American evangelicalism I admit I feel some pity for the guy.
I’m also the sort of Calvinist who thinks that the weakness we Americans have is we tell ourselves that if we were in the Milgram experiment we wouldn’t do what we’re told, which is probably the most likely sign that we absolutely would.
MM, I hear you.
Leaders will be judged more harshly. I ran into a Christ-rejecting man in college. He was “all in” until he wasn’t, but was very angry and nasty. I wanted to ask “who hurt you?” But i was scared. JH doesn’t seem so, yet that college guy wasn’t a leader. Stories like this make me feel sad. I’ve never been, and never will be, in such a position of public leadership or scrutiny.
I won’t dare to judge the state of his faith or his standing in God’s grace. I do hope he changes his mind. Thanks for no further scandals.
Beyond that, sorry, don’t care. I don’t think any of us should. I see someone’s self importance posted on social media. Social media is poison.
Do we feel pity for him? He just trashed millions of conservative Christians very politely. It’s like reading The Screwtape Letters. He’s not apologising to them.
I found this posting helpful in understanding this situation:
Paul if only you had understood all that Demas was going through the way we understand things today you would have vouchsafed him a variant epilogue. “Demas has gone on a journey to discover his truest self we are humbled by his courage.” Paul, you would have been a better man with some discipling from Freud and the apostleship of Derrida and Foucault. No worries, when they are done with you no one will utter your name as anything but an epithet.
I don’t think Paul would have tolerated what passes for Christianity today in some circles.
Do you really believe Paul would have turned a blind eye to the abuse and corruption so prevalent today and wouldn’t have understood why people run like hell from the results?
Re Michael’s 10:34
If you answered the question, yes, ” you might maybe ought to read his lettrrs to the Corinthians… ?
Does Hell still exist?
I don’t know why Harris says he’s not a Christian now..,but I have seen many folks damning him eternally for his temporal statement.
Oddly enough, I have yet to see one person question the eternal destiny of people like the Rozells who leave a trail of broken souls, but claim proper doctrine.
This is one reason why I don’t factor hell into my theology much…
You haven’t seen people questioning the Christianity of the Rozzells and anyone involved in CC? I certainly have.
It just seems that we’ve either all taken the G-route, that everyone will end up in heaven…or we don’t really believe there is a Hell at all. Or maybe we don’t think any of it is very important.
If Hell does exist, the Harris stuff and the Rozzell stuff is very serious.
I find discussions about hell difficult .
I don’t deny that there is a place where the eternally unrepentant go, but I believe it will have far fewer residents than most think.
It’s something I’m studying…and it’s a lot more complex than I thought when I began.
Harris makes the statement on social media that he is no longer a Christian. He doesn’t give any theological reasons, just that his beliefs have changed and that the biblical definition for it is “falling away”. His words.
Yes he needs prayer.
So do those who know him and are directly impacted by his announcement.
Personally, I would rather talk with Harris than get within lightning strike distance from the Rozells.
The claim to proper doctrine doesn’t make it proper. Jesus said “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”
I don’t know who is going to hell and who is not. It may be fewer than we think, however it will not be few – you know, that wide gate / path vs thatnarrow gate / path. I have a feeling the ratio to hell is enormous over those going to heaven.
Based on Jesus’ three stories of “foundness”, value, identity and helplessness, I can assure Josh Harris that his place in the household, in the sheepfold, in the brotherhood/sisterhood of the family is secure, not threatened by any nonsense stories of unworthiness or disqualification.
His destination is secure, now and forever
The thing with Harris is that he did not ‘wander off’ and get lost.
He destroyed a ministry, blew up his wife and family and while walking out the door, publicly on social media gave Jesus the finger as his final salute.
I agree with the last three, Jean, (|0)====:::, and MLD. You all have true comments that aren’t in conflict.
Proper doctrine is not the issue for Heaven, all of humanity’s place is assured and reserved (of course one has to check in somehow), and last he did not “wander off.”
My concern would be more for the people, God’s creation made in His image, over Harris. He’s a 40 something year old man who has been around the block a few times and not some innocent follower or child.
He’ll figure something out. The lime light is really addictive.
Gman, no, you can’t assure Harris of his eternal destination… You can hope and pray and know that God is never not fair…
Job 38 is a good ponder – IMNSHO. ?
Let me make myself clearer. The person referenced here is responsible for his own apostasy, morality, theology, participation in corruption and renunciation of the marital covenant. Categories that make him a victim empower us all to do as we will.
I like what you just wrote and says what both I and my wife have thought about.
I just read the link from Spiritual Sounding board, and while how we are raised and mentored counts for some of our actions it does not excuse bringing harm to others.
Harris won’t be fixed via PP, but maybe he will read it and comment.
Thank you BD for a mature and enlightening view.
I agree with BD 100%.
In fact I was having a similar thought: Can one be deemed a victim when his own false theology failed him?
Those claiming Harris’s eternstion destination is secure are just as dangerous as though that know for sure he is eternally lost. Both positions take the perspective that only God himself has the right to.
Speaking of God, Jesus himself said a lot about Hell and the absolute importance in believing in Him and Him alone for our salvation. This in my opinion is pretty important and should not be down played.
I only dare assure him and anyone else based on what Jesus dares assure the coin, the lamb, and the 2 brothers per what their father told them. Jesus, was directly addressing the Pharisees who were at odds with Him over who’s “worthy” to be at the party. They just mutter…
G – I don’t think Harris wants to be at the party.
Jesus was indeed teaching the Pharisees that the “sinners” were welcomed home into the heart of the Father. The older brother was indicative of the Pharisees in that he was not welcoming the returned prodigal and felt displaced by the lavish love of the Father.
The story is silent about brothers who do not return. The joy in heaven is reserved for those who repent. Unlike coins and sheep, sons must actually participate in the return.
Unstrung guitars play badly but wannabe players whale away at the air unperturbed by reality.
Gman, i will give you this (your heart is compassionate), your positive encouragement should motivate that wandering sheep to return… that is nothing but good… UNLESS we’re talking wolf in disguise… Pray for discernment – the fruit thing, perhaps?
“But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?“
I’m thankful Jesus didn’t give up on Adam waiting for him to come to his senses while hiding among the trees in the garden.
Jesus seeks and saves the lost.
i assume you’re referring to Josh’s personal ministry (ie fan club), as he didn’t destroy SGM or CLC. Their diminished status is completely self inflicted.
Em, I don’t think G is compassionate at all by assuring apostates there are no consequences to life’s choices.
Actually, I think it may be cruel.
Jim, I am speaking of his personal ministry.
In the end I think this is a tactic on his part to become relevant – to regain his 15 min of fame.
Take that up with Jesus.
“Unstrung guitars play badly but wannabe players whale away at the air unperturbed by reality.“
So, are you relating your skill-set or imagination?
( |o )====:::
strung, in tune EADGBE, no capo.
Playing Jesus’ song, note for note, with full fingerstyle, harmonics on open, 12th, 5th & 7th frets.
G, I don’t need to take it up with Jesus – he took it up with us in his word.
Jesus never gave comfort to the unrepentant.
I think it’s a bit unfair to evaluate what Harris hasn’t made public about his beliefs and dogmas these days. I also think trying to figure out his eternity is also a mistake.
Stick with what has been revealed, divorce, family, alternative marriage approval, apologies for his book, rejection of traditional Christianity (which he has not explained).
Just trying to make sense and I like the image of the prodigal son was on his way home when the father ran to meet him. Let’s see who told that story and in some bibles it’s printed in red.
Is anyone really sure he is rejecting the Christ of Matthew 11:28-30? Or is he rejecting fundamentalist Jesus?
Do we look at Josh Harris with empathy and compassion and ask God to forgive him? Or write him off as lost (and list all of his sins)?
I may be misinterpreting comments, but there’s some “thank God I’m not like him” stuff I’m reading that drove me from the Evangelical bubble.
Shouldn’t our prayer for him simply be “forgive him, he knows not what he does”?
I figure the people in Josh Harris’ real life are much better fitted to console/exhort/encourage/challenge/love him than all the complete strangers who are commenting on the inter webs.
Yes he’s a public figure. But I don’t know him. I can be aware and pray.
Joel, if at this point Harris doesn’t know what he’s doing than he’s operating on IQ far lower than anyone assumed. Seriously.
That or he knows exactly what he’s doing… “hand to the plow”, that sort of thing. For what?
Pity points on Twitter and instagram? It stinks like conceit.
Exactly, Carl: “Sorry, as Elton John sang, seems to be the hardest word. Which is odd for a religion predicated on repentance.”
Harris wasn’t apologizing to any of you nor to any victims of the sexual abuse he covered up nor to anyone whose lives were shaped by his words. He has trashed the faith of millions he inspired, gave Jesus the bird, and made common cause with people who are proudly enemies of the church.
He apologized for not being relevant, or rather, for being irrelevant –
which is how it should remain.
If he wants attention he can have his 15 minutes elsewhere. He doesn’t give two flying North Carolina cow chips about any of you. I bet there’s a new book coming along…
Other than a few folks on this blog there is a lot of compassion for Harris but little warning. This concerns me. Harris was an influential pastor of a large church and not some pew sitter like myself. The warning sign needs to be in bright bold blinking neo lights that this man is being held hostage by the enemy and may take many with him. From all appearances he does not appear to be a brother and should not be treated as such. Love him, of course, but to give him any platform to spew his lies is unmoral and gives the devil a foot hold. Lest we fall from unbelief ourselves we need to proceed with caution. Only those gifted with such ministry should even attempt this. Unbelief is a serious sin that has enormous consequences.
“See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;”
Any person who was inside the church can become a root of bitterness, particularly someone who makes a “noisy” exit.
There are many possibilities here, including outright apostasy.
What I think I’m hearing from him (because I hear it often the last few years) is a deconstruction of his faith, primarily the structures we all build around basic faith In Jesus.
There comes a point for many when the cognitive dissonance between what you’re supposed to believe and reality becomes too great to live with.
You trash everything and start over.
It’s a messy process and shouldn’t be done in public, unless you want the ire of many.
I’ve been in a similar process for a while…my faith in Christ has grown while my faith in a lot of dogma has shrunk.
Harris should disappear for a while and deal with his situation with a couple solid friends in private…
That Harris promulgated what one author described as a “sexual prosperity gospel” is more or less the only reason those of us who ever heard of him even heard of him in the first place.\https://religionnews.com/2019/07/26/joshua-harris-and-the-sexual-prosperity-gospel/
But I would say that Harris hasn’t been the only one to promote a sexual prosperity gospel, and it would be a mistake to confine that message to purity movements. In the last twenty years different strands of the sexual prosperity gospel could arguably be found in Mark Driscoll’s teaching and also the teaching of Nadia Bolz-Weber but we live in a cultural climate in which the red and blue state variants of the veneration of Hera and/or Aphrodite will not be recognized as being held in common by those for whom the red state and blue state variants are the deal-making or deal-breaking details.
While Mark Driscoll was up here in the Seattle area he could be described as a kind of conservative Christian variant on Dan Savage (if you don’t already know who that is maybe you don’t want to know).
agree that Harris should stop being a public figure and figure out what to do. Shifting out of being a public figure altogether is probably what could be best for him.
“shouldn’t be done in public, unless you want the ire of many.”
There is also the possibility of leading others astray while you make your public mess.
“There is also the possibility of leading others astray while you make your public mess.”
I’m not as swayed by that anymore as it assumes that people are unable to think for themselves and take responsibility for their own beliefs.
On the other hand…it’s also true that many people don’t.
Come on. Are you saying there are no false teachers, or at least no danger in false teaching?
Interesting conversation here; Michael, I am in total agreement that the longer I am in the Kingdom, the less comfortable I am with discussions about hell. I cannot reconcile my ‘heart’s’ ‘hopeful’ universalism with the reality of Scriptural declarations that my intellect must accept, if it is to remain honest.
This is an interesting time; I cannot view Harris as a victim in the context of others who have been truly victimized in the context of western church practice. Harris was a member of what I call the Evangelical-Industrial Complex, in which vast sums of money and its accompanying power, is accorded to those of certain systems, (e.g. The Gospel Coalition, Mars Hill, 9-Marks and others). These men, interconnected through sharing platforms at conferences, endorsing each others books, declaring each other fit for ministry when failures occur (e.g. Trueman’s written declaration of Mahaney’s fitness for ministry after some pretty egregious behavior, Harris telling CLC that Mahaney was fit for leadership of the Louisville church plant, Piper’s endorsement of Driscoll while at Mars Hill). The financial rewards Harris reaped while a member in good standing of this complex ensure that he and his family will at least have a soft landing financially, a status denied to most victims of abusive church leadership.
The future will reveal what was real, and what was not, with both Harris and these other men. I cannot help but think of the words of Jesus regarding his warning about the Pharisees; they place burdens on others they refuse to carry themselves.
I’m in transit…back in a few.
Defining false teachers is a big can of worms…
Surely one who doesn’t believe Jesus is Lord would fall into that category.
Let’s be honest (taking Harris out of this) – too many Americans no longer fear God. We put up with people like Rob Bell, ripping God out of people’s lives, teaching there is no hell etc.
Look at the crazy lady on the Bachelorette, espousing to be a born again Christian and boinking everyone on the show.
And the response of many is ‘well they wandered.’ What BS.
There is actually more warrant for” hopeful” universalism than one might think…I’m studying the matter now and it’s a more complex matter than we traditionally think.
Even more complex than Jesus thought, apparently.
So…my definition of a false teacher is someone who denies the deity of Christ, the resurrection, or one of the other few cardinal doctrines of the faith.
What most call false teachers today is someone who disagrees with their particular slant on something…
“Even more complex than Jesus thought, apparently.”
Actually, one can hold to a hopeful universalism without contradicting a single thing Jesus said or denying there is a hell.
I realize that doesn’t fit your tradition, but one should look deeper before dismissing the matter out of hand or implying that one is making up doctrine out of whole cloth…
Harris would have to fit that description, right?
I don’t know what Harris believes about Jesus…and he may not either at this point.
What I heard from him was a lot of confusion and deconstruction right after the bomb went off.
Until he can speak publicly with clarity, he should keep his circle small…
“I realize that doesn’t fit your tradition, ”
I LOL-ed at that one.
Harris is publicizing his apostasy. If he weren’t trying to lead others astray, he would do as you suggest: Keep it private. He has a lot of followers who learned form him as an author, pastor, and now he hopes they continue to follow him without the ball-and chain of Jesus holding him back.
I don’t know what Harris’s motives are.
I know that myself and many others I know are going through similar processes for our own sake, not to lead anyone else anywhere.
My contention with Harris at this point would be that he has access to many skilled theologians in his circle and it’s within that circle that this sort of discussion should take place.
I’m fortunate enough to have two highly educated theologians from different traditions to work through these matters with…but most of those discussions never make it to the blog or my pulpit.
“but most of those discussions never make it to the blog or my pulpit.”
And that is wisdom.
Honestly, it has been my fear for a long time that you would one day leave the faith. I don’t say that as an insult, but as a concerned friend. So many in your close circle have left the faith, and you seem to sympathize with them more than those who could never imagine a different life. I don’t want that for you, man.
In his defense, I do know that once you start examining one piece your faith, you end up having to question almost everything.
That leaves you feeling as if the foundations of everything have been shaken and it’s confusing and anxiety creating.
Some folks make declarations so that people will convince them otherwise.
In any case, expect to see more and more people doing this…I certainly am.
I hope this theologian still as credibility within the modern church:
11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”
But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
Parable of the Talents… “For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
The Shepherd Separates the Sheep and Goats… “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
In my deconstruction, my faith in Christ has risen to levels I’ve never known before.
Jesus has become more and more precious to me as my scorn for some of the people and attitudes surrounding Him has increased.
I’m not going anywhere…
Thank you for the affirmation. I’m glad to hear your love for Christ is growing.
As I just said…one can have a sort of hopeful universalism without denying one word Jesus said or denying that there is a hell.
I affirm the words of Christ and I affirm that there is a hell.
I’m not sure where I stand on a dogmatic point on this, but I’m not going to defend things I’m not saying.
I’ve followed this discussion with interest and some degree of profit.
When John Henry Newman decided to go to Rome, he dropped out of the public eye for a few years and made no public pronouncements. He did not want to hurt his former friends and colleagues. Additionally, he realized that it would take time to sort out his new position.
I’m suspicious of public pronouncements, made in the moment, of momentous personal spiritual changes. We don’t know what Mr. Harris is really thinking. My guess is that Mr. Harris does not really know what he’s thinking. Yet, he has been used to making public pronouncements on a whole range of issues for years… so that’s what he has done. He is now making public statements of his doubts, just as he once made public statements of his certainties. I took his certainties with a large helping of salt, and will do the same with his doubts.
The problem in both cases, however, are those who listen to the certainties and the doubts and are harmed. My personal feeling is that he should take a long time out of the spotlight – for his sake and the sake of others.
Jesus is the only reason life makes any sense at all.
The only alternative is nihilism and atheism.
Now, it is a huge challenge in these times to hang on to the Jesus I believe is revealed in Scripture…as the Jesus of nationalism and Trumpism would drive me to nihilism if I allowed it to.
The Sermon on the Mount is the single greatest manifesto ever delivered and it leaves me in awe continually.
MLD,. Your comment about the crazy lady on the bachelorette borders on moralism which out of all folks here I thought you would know better. This type of moralism maybe what Harris is trying to deconstruct now. Just an observation for what it’s worth. I see your point in the inconsistency in her life but will not presume to know or challenge what she understands as being born again. There may be real legitimate faith that is just starting to take root which I would never want to be an obstacle for. We both sinner and saint at same time except when it comes to the bachelorette that apparently is just sinner in your moralistic eyes.
Great example… and well said.
Duane is 100% on point.
“as the Jesus of nationalism and Trumpism ”
I just reject those as I reject Muhammad, or Mormonism…or whatever other false religions. I dislike it, but it has not affected my faith one bit.
I’m not familiar with the latest Christian lingo. What is “hopeful universalism? Is it a cliche? A slogan? It sounds like, “I’m hopeful Jesus doesn’t mean what he says” or “I’m hopeful Jesus will change his mind.” Why would any Christian hope for something opposed to the teaching of Jesus? It sounds irreverent to say the least. May you could explain what that phrase means and how it honors God’s Word.
When Christians pray “thy kingdom come, they will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” implicit is bringing God’s justice in its fullness to earth. Christians who hate sin and the power of evil, who groan inwardly, long for God to exterminate all impurity from God’s creation (including the remnant of sin that dwells in us). Our hope is the perfect timing of God.
It has affected the faith of millions of others as it has been advanced by many in your tradition and others in evangelicalism.
There are people who don’t have the luxury of thinking about theology all the time or listening in on conversations like this who have been led to believe that it’s either support such things or leave the faith…and they start the deconstruction process.
Once it starts, often unguided by more mature saints, it goes places that we have reason to dread.
I’m not going to argue a case made in books on a blog.
There are scholars who share your same concerns about biblical fidelity that come to different conclusions.
You would have to read their work in context to understand that they are working hard to be both biblical and faithful.
If you want to read further, I’ll be happy to make recommendations…if not, quit assuming the worst about something you know little to nothing about.
“It has affected the faith of millions of others as it has been advanced by many in your tradition”
What is the “it” in this case? SBC isn’t the first group to reject universalism, though I think I may be misunderstanding.
I wasn’t speaking about universalism.
I was speaking of nationalism and Trumpism.
When a teaching goes against the catholic faith, I don’t have to read about it to draw a negative conclusion. That’s one of the blessings of being a creedal Christian; I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. I can stand on the tried and true teachings of the Church which have been confessed for the majority of Her history. However, I’m not condemning anyone who wants to do theology differently.
If you’re not going to read any theology other than your own sects, that’s your prerogative.
However, it puts you in the position you find yourself in this morning, making a case against arguments no one is making, flailing forcefully in the wind against an opponent who doesn’t exist.
That is quite annoying for those of us taking the time to actually think and examine matters we’re discussing.
I too am a creedal Christian…as are some of the people I’m reading on this matter.
Jean, I used the term hopeful universalist as a self-descriptor; I am not familiar with anyone else using it, in my flawed memory I do not recall its use in popular Christian literature. I am willing to stand corrected if it is in popular use and would love to extend credit to whoever may have originated the phrase.
Your points are well-taken; if I were into solely making binary choices, I would certainly side with you. As I have taken stock of my 40+ years in Kingdom life, and experiences with authoritarian and abusive church/thought systems, I am not easily swayed to binary choices that lay outside the creeds. A theologian I respect, hoping I get her name right, Dr. Sarah Sumner, has a wonderful discussion of the Hebrew view of paradox as compared to the western view of paradox, in her book Men and Women in the Church. In Hebrew thought, paradox was seen as both sides of a coin rather than contradiction. A lot of viewpoints that I have held earlier in my walk that were strongly binary have modified with age and experience. Both and, rather than either or, if that makes sense.
I am a hopeful universalist in my heart because I have seen too much death in my previous career. The thought of eternity without Jesus for anyone is too much to bear heartwise, although in my head I realize and currently am closer to your binary choice regarding the biblical understanding of hell. I do not think I am insulting Jesus for having this intellectual/heart conflict. I have found Him to be very patient with me as I work through these areas of life.
What the church has always taught is that there is a judgment and there is a hell.
I affirm both those things.
I would commend a book called “Evangelical Universalism” to you…it’s an honest wrestling with the issue.
Orthodox scholar David Bentley Hart has a massive volume coming out in September that looks fascinating as well.
I haven’t come down dogmatically on where I stand on the doctrine…I praise God for being in a place now where I’m able to wrestle as long as I need to with it…
As I read through my comment, I perhaps slighted Dr. Sumner by not noting the 2 sides of the coin was a simple analogy she used to demonstrate the difference between Hebrew and western views. This was in the context of a much more nuanced and comprehensive discussion of paradox. I highly recommend her book and did not mean in any way to diminish her by drawing on this brief analogy.
I’m ordering it as we speak.
I’m also fascinated with the differences between Eastern and Western thought in Christianity…
Thanks Rick. Jesus preached a binary Gospel: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Everywhere He went, He caused division.
One gets the impression from the writings of many modern intellectuals that holding simple truths, holding contrasts of black and white, right and wrong, good and bad, are signs of ignorance. That the true intellectual finds the grey, and the truth in all opinions. That in the grey is the reality. I question whether this modern relativism is actually benefiting anyone, much less honoring God.
The Reformation principle of the church is a fully regenerate people. The ‘church within the church’ is always the reality. That is to say the unregenerate are always mixed in. The sweeping wave of evangelical decision-based revivalism of the last 70 years has caught up with us. Those of us who are my age would likely agree that we have never seen such a massive defection from faith.
It is legitimate to ask the nature of this apostasy. It is better if we ask it in the generic rather than the personal sense as per this matter. When we watched and participated in the crusade-style evangelism we all knew that we were making our bed with dubious denizens. We all knew the unregenerate were signing allegiance with us on both moralistic and accommodationist grounds. We all knew it was a bubble inevitably would burst. Here we are.
Anyone who understands the Gospel in terms of new creation should stand un-alarmed but deeply grieved. We are reaping the wind. The difficult part is that having sown a Gospel that cannot save into a culture we will have to wait generations for its poison to wash out in hope for a new people who will have ears to hear.
Something has definitely happened but what? Prophets of bygone days warned us of just such a time as Booth put it, “…Christianity without Christ…” . I just watched Chernobyl. The contamination lesson is stark. But we know him and we fear not when the beasts arise from land and sea, this calls for endurance, this calls for wisdom.
“I was speaking of nationalism and Trumpism.”
Yes, many SBC’ers are guilty in that arena. Some other high profile guys have spoken against such, for which I am thankful.
Have we seen a massive defection from the faith or a defection from systems that exalted certain ideas more than the person of Christ?
Well said, BD.
As I stated before, I utterly affirm what is in the creeds of Christendom; I am as binary regarding those truths as the day is long. An example of a binary system of thought that I am not as comfortable with is the conflict between those who call themselves egalitarian and those who call themselves complementarian. In popular Christian culture, at least in America, there seem to be no other choices. I think it crowds what is true into too small a space; the way men and women are to interact with each other, in the context of church, in the context of marriage, cannot be adequately expressed in either of those thought systems. You can call me grey, or gray, if we want to be binary about spelling, but I think there is more of the color of the gospel outside the boundaries of those two thought systems.
Michael, thank you for the book recommendation–I will pursue it. I think you will like the Sumner book; it was eye-opening to me, especially the call to see how the relationships of men and women is a higher call from God than can be expressed in either the egalitarian or complementarian thought structures. My 9:36 AM post was a response to Jean, I forgot to label it as such.
I like the way you think and write…consider this an open invitation to write articles for us as well…
Michael, thank you–you are most kind.
“Jesus never gave comfort to the unrepentant.”
Jesus gave comfort to the coin, the lost sheep and the son who declared himself unworthy even though his father never ceased loving him.
Jesus point is “belonging”.
The coin belonged to the woman.
The sheep belonged to the shepherd.
The son belonged to the father.
No act on the part of any of the three changed the “belongingness”.
We’re at an awesome party, Josh Harris is here, along with the rest of us, and the bummer is that there’s also a lady holding up a coin and dancing, a slightly sheep-smelly shepherd toasting the crowd, and a group of grumbling older brothers who hold their noses at the earthiness of that stinky shepherd and the whole scene while they refuse to join the dance, and look down their noses at brother Harris while he keeps repeating the rediculous story that he’s not even worthy to be here.
I get what you mean about the egalitarian – complementarian dichotomy.
For me, I see those categorizations as a function of something unhealthy which has its roots in scholasticism, where theology is systematized to the point where two things happen: (1) mystery and paradox are explained away; and (2) the concrete realities of the relationship between God and mankind is reduced to abstract thoughts and formulas.
The only way I can guard myself from falling prey to overly systematizing theology or converting theology into abstract thought is by staying in the Word and submitting my reason to the Word, trusting that if there’s something I don’t understand now, it will be revealed to me later or in the age to come. The last thing I want to do is say to myself: “I know the Bible says X but it means Y.
G- Look, I hope Harris makes it. I hope we all do. But I don’t see Jesus grabbing people by the hair and dragging them to the party, like it or not. Doesn’t seem to be His style.
I’ve read Sarah Sumner’s book on Men and Women in the church. A great read.
While she was a prof at Azusa Pacific, she was part of a preaching team at a church in San Dimas.
I’ve always like her style.
Divorce is a violent dance. Better turn up the music and pass the margaritas.
Pharisees wouldn’t dance with Jesus and in case you missed it Jesus took the party from them and gave it to others and destroyed their dance hall so much for belongingness.
Rejection is hell and silly renderings of Jesus’ stories do not extinguish the flames. There are real sufferers and real perpetrators and real consequences. So just keep the numbing it out for us.
We are already at the party, we just choose to tell ourselves we’re disqualified, or, in the case of the Pharisees and older brother, :: more qualified to be there :: due to our score keeping.
Jean, yes to your comment at 10:12; I think you express so well the faithful guarding of one’s heart. When I went to Germany for two years beginning in 1977, I was a free-will, pre-tribulation rapturist, dispensationalist, futurist. When I came back to the USA, I was none of those things. I can define well what I am no longer, outside the creeds, I don’t give much thought to naming what I am now. I know that I am strongly neither when it comes to binary choices such as Calvinism/Arminianism or egalitarian/complementarian or democrat/republican, but am unable to cogently describe what I am in a way that makes sense to anyone but me, (and perhaps my wife).
I have full confidence we will understand someday…I have a lot more questions than answers but am more at rest in trust in the character of Jesus than ever in my life.
G- OK. Are the child-rapists also at the party?
Here’s an easier way to ask the question… Who did :: Jesus :: say was :: not :: at the party?
Yeah, that one makes you uncomfortable too, huh?
Steve @ 8:32 this morning. You missed my point. I don’t care about her immorality, but against a form of Christianity that does not have enough fear of God to have taught her differently. Her comment to the public was I am a Christian and Jesus loves me regardless of my actions. Not only will the church not call her out, but I will bet her church does not preach to her both the law AND the gospel.
This is what I object to – that she can go on national TV and brag in her sin. Antinomianism is alive and well .
BD @ 9:29 – “Decision based revival”. Thanks for that!
Been reading a bio of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and he said basically the same thing you did about 90 years ago. Here’s a link :https://banneroftruth.org/us/resources/articles/2003/dr-lloyd-jones-on-the-altar-call/
G, you ask who Jesus says is not at the party? How about those who have Satan as their father? I think you will find that in your beloved red letters. (More red letters)
How about the guy who showed up to the party not properly clothed? He was kicked out of the party with some pretty harsh words. His exit was not of his choosing.
Those are just for beginners – the followers of Jezebel in the book of Revelation to swell the numbers.
MLD,. The bachelorette is not a leader or pastor in the church. She is also probably a fraction of your age and don’t know when she became a Christian. In addition at her young tender age her hormones are working pretty darn hard to undermine a rational mind such as your own. It would behoove you to put all that into context. Her public statements are hard to listen to but she is probably being manipulated by the producer of the show to gather more ratings. Of course she is in-mature and has a lot to learn and repent of. It seems to me what she has said openly in public is what many are doing and thinking in private. At least I commend her for her transparency. Maybe you can start viewing her more like the women at the well that Jesus encountered rather than the town whore you are describing.
Steve, I also rail against those who defend her behavior, make excuses for her behavior and refuse to call her to repentance.
Unlike you, the other Christian contestant, very much to his credit tried to call her to repentance – and was promptly dismissed.
“Yeah, that one makes you uncomfortable too, huh?”
Not at all.
Back to it, in the context of Jesus’ 3 stories, who did :: Jesus :: say was :: not :: at the party?
Belonging is not tied to performance, or failure, or good/evil actions.
Her comment to the public was I am a Christian and Jesus loves me regardless of my actions.
Actually MLD what you wrote above is true and good doctrine. It’s unfortunate you still are putting requirements on God’s love. I’ll even go as far and say he loves the unbeliever. I just don’t think there is scriptural evidence to support universal salvation without faith.
MLD, unlike you I don’t watch the worldly show and I should probably call you out on your own sin in digesting this entertainment. Jesus said even if you have lust in your heart you have committed adultery. So get off your high horse and repent of your moralism and self righteousness.
Steve, it’s either that or (and you don’t even…) going down to the lake in Havasu. I thought I was in Sodom and Gomorrah. 🙂 The Bachelorette is like the Disney Channel by comparison.
I think that I’m concerned that someone is actually watching The Bachelorette… really?!?!?
Maybe MLD is trying to get in touch with his feelings. The Bachelorette is a very emotional program. The men and women become very vulnerable and put it all out there on the line for each other…
Jean from the reviews on Fox news the Bachelorette sounds like an X rated soap opera. So calling out the contestants to repent and not removing the plank from your own eye first is about as close to hypocracy as it gets.
I haven’t watched it in years, but my recollection is that it is fueled by hormones. It probably provides its viewers with a voyeuristic experience of romance.
In general our culture has become desensitized to the beauty of mundane experience. This desensitization has infected the Church to our detriment.
Maybe give MLD the benefit of the doubt. He could be simply be trying to be a good husband and take interest in his wife’s shows. I know how that it. Try sitting through the Housewives on Bravo. Yikes.
We’re all a work in progress.
“In general our culture has become desensitized to the beauty of mundane experience.”
Amen and amen
God comes to us in quiet ordinary ways if we’d only pay attention. The world is a Sacrament.
Holiness is not something mortals can get their minds around (at least i can’t) … We tend to think of it as dry and limiting, i think.
In reality it is perfect life on full flower … and power.
If this party in question here is at GMan’s and in walks a guest who has walked through a pile of dog manure on his way… If asked to please remove his shoes and he says, no – for whatever reason – would it be reasonable for GMan to then say, “Oh, okay, brother, your choice?”
whosoever will may come, but there are certain criteria that – IMV – God, not only has the right, but the duty to hold fast… Thank God for His grace and love, but don’t bend them to suit your own standards, your definition of fair… We aren’t that good … IMHO ?
Belonging is not tied to performance, or failure, or good/evil actions.
…this includes stinky shoes
…but I would be inclined to walk my friend outside, “accidentally” douse him with water, then offer a change of clothes
Steve, LOL ? – Until I read the CNN article online I did not know of such a show (I do remember there was a Batchelor show some years ago — and then there was Batchelor Father with John Forsythe (sp). 🙂 )
I guess I’m old fashioned and still think the Bible’s warning passages are still in effect and more rare among many in this modern day, one who thinks the law needs to be preached to the Christians alongside the gospel.
MLD, if you haven’t noticed I was preaching the law to you. Christians and non Christians have a very different reason for following the law and perhaps this is where we differ.
Steve – but I am repentant when the law is preached – this lady is taking a victory lap in her sin and when the other Christian on the show tried to point out her sin, she told him that his Christian views (he was waiting until marriage) and to go pound sand.
Again, I point out, I didn’t question her salvation (although perhaps I do as I see no shame or sorrow on her part – she told a national audience with her parents in the audience, that she blinked the guy 4 times in the windmill. Her parents were horrified and embarrassed.)
But it’s not about her or Josh Harris – it is the fact that there is no fear of God.
Because of the public nature, if she were in my church and there was no public repentance to the church, she would be disciplined.
MLD, I’m pretty sure everyone in your church would be disciplined if their sins were found out. It appears the discipline is only because its public. That to me doesn’t sit quite well. Is fear to drive us to repentance? To me its His kindness and goodness. The law works differently for the believer.
Regarding the show, you really don’t get it. All of this from her to the other Christian guy were all staged to make for sleazy entertainment. Do you really believe any of it? I’m not that naive but maybe you are.
I’ve seen clips from the Bachelor/Bachelorette on a sports show I watch. They show the clips as they are so absurd yet the shows pull big numbers. We live in an anything goes society so nothing the show does would surprise me. Back to Spiderman 3! 🙂
Steve, in my church we confess our sin one to another each week.
As far as the public vs private sin we can only act on that which is made public otherwise we would not know.
But hey, perh a PS you blacked out that Matthew 18 stuff as “none of our business.” If the person is confronted and remains unrepentant, take it to the church.
In my church, discipline begins with keeping a member from the supper – a moderated form of excommunication to eventually bring the person back into full fellowship.
How does discipline work in your church?
“To me its His kindness and goodness.“
I guess that’s why I have trouble believing that anyone would reject Christ if they really knew Him. That is my naivety I suppose.
Isn’t sin itself it’s own punishment (wages of sin is death). If so, isn’t the appropriate response compassion (Jesus defeated death on the Cross)?
We were created for Communion with our Maker. Like water to drink and air to breath, we need Him. And He knows this.
Therefore love and kindness seem to be the appropriate response to Josh Harris and the Bachelorette, in my mind, rather than condemnation.
Just pondering out loud…
As far as I understand, “emunah” and “pisteo” (forgive my attempt here) both carry the dual meaning faith/faithfulness. Impossible to have one without the other. Jean has already given three parables, MLD a couple, and Em has given us a very good analogy besides the scads of examples in Paul’s letters that depict an expectation of certain behavior at v the party. Both Harris and the Bacholerette are good examples of “virgins” who need some oil (holy spirit) in their lamps. The woman at the well was interested in obtaining the Living Water. Jesus told her and she was ecstatic. Not so re: our two post-modern, neo-pagan examples.
Adam and Eve talked to God, as did Cain. The Israelites out of Egypt experienced that miracles, as did many Jews later by Jesus. Eli probably talked to God. Many cry out fur mercy. Others don’t because the light exposes their evil deeds done in darkness. Jesus doesn’t rescue goats.
I have no opinion on Harris other than leaders are under greater judgment, so let many not be called thus.
How does discipline work in your church?
MLD @6:51. I’ve never seen it happen. That doesn’t mean it won’t. I’m pretty sure the elders, church counsel and congregation would need a majority vote to remove from communion table up to and possibly including removing individual from membership role. No one person like you have just done would determine who is disciplined or not. A lot of checks and balances in our church always following the Bible. But we usually don’t entertain discipling hypothetical bachelorette contestants that have no relationship to us.
In Matthew 18:17, what church was Jesus speaking of?
Josh – I am off to teach a class, but if you are asking me, then I would say her local church where her pastor has been given the ministry to care for her soul.
Did that church exist in Matthew 18?
There is only one Church. Matthew 18 is for the one Church, which has now spread throughout the entire world. It is carried out locally in individual congregations. When Paul instructed the church in Corinth to discipline the sexually immoral man, he gave that instruction to that particular church. He did not give that instruction to the Galatians nor to the Philippians, nor what it their responsibility to discipline the Corinthian sinner.
More specifically then, when Jesus told those listening in Matthew 18 to “take it to the church”, who was he saying to take it to, the local synagogue? I’m pretty sure no local Christian congregation existed in Matthew 18.
Do your exegesis of ἐκκλησίας…
Duan – yes, that is the root of the question.
Duane – Duan is his Hispanic cousin 🙂
The local Christian congregation existing when Jesus gave his discourse on church practice (the 4th of 5 discourses in Matthew) were those believers gathered around Him. But Jesus doesn’t restrict his discourse to His original followers. “If your brother…” is spoken to the listening Christian of every generation. The church of which Jesus speaks is the church against which the gates of hell will not prevail. It is the church commissioned to make disciples of all nations. It is the church which gathers in Jesus’ name, in which He promises to be present. It is the church where the faithful commune with Jesus in His holy body and blood.
Here’s a clue… there’s a “double meaning”… ?
(And lay off my cousin!)
I don’t think so, Jean, though that was a good answer. I don’t begrudge churches for following Matt 18, I just don’t think Jesus was addressing local church discipline in the passage. Specifically, I think “church” is poor translation choice for ἐκκλησίας in that context.
What translation would you give it?
Literally, I would go with assembly or group. If I were to paraphrase what that means in context, it seems Jesus is speaking specifically to his disciples.
If Jesus is speaking only to his disciples, then what is the application, if any, for us today?
1. a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly
a. an assembly of the people convened at the public place of the council for the purpose of deliberating
b. the assembly of the Israelites
c. any gathering or throng of men assembled by chance, tumultuously
2. in a Christian sense
a. an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting
b. a company of Christians, or of those who, hoping for eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, observe their own religious rites, hold their own religious meetings, and manage their own affairs, according to regulations prescribed for the body for order’s sake
c. those who anywhere, in a city, village, constitute such a company and are united into one body
d. the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth
e. the assembly of faithful Christians already dead and received into heaven
It changes the thrust of the instruction,f or sure. Like I said, it is still a good model to follow, but does not to seem to be specific instruction for the governance of the New Testament church. If He is speaking specifically to the disciples, he would be saying to the effect” If one of you sins, go to him individually. If he doesn’t listen, take two or three more. After that, take it to the rest of the twelve.”
The stress seems to be, then, on keeping the matter as quiet as possible. I don’t know that Jesus would advocate for shaming someone in front of a modern mega-church, for instance. “Take it to the church” may be read as taking it to the entire leadership group at that point.
Also good to look at the immediate context of the passage…
Of course, which is why I lean away from New Testament church discipline.
By your reading, which I won’t argue with you about, because it is your right to read it any way you want, you are not only leaning away from NT church discipline, but also the actual goal of the discipline, restoring a penitent sinner and the assembly’s authority to absolve the penitent sinner.
The very thing Jesus spoke into the ears of so many during His earthly ministry (I forgive you), which He authorized His Body to carry on after His ascension, your reading eliminates.
“restoring a penitent sinner and the assembly’s authority to absolve the penitent sinner.”
Of course not. I’m just defining the assembly as a smaller body in this context.
Either Jesus is speaking to you and your church today, or if not, then where do you get the authority to absolve penitent sinners (i.e., “…whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”)?
Josh, brings up some very interesting points that I never thought of before. He may turn me into a Baptist someday.
What points do you find interesting? Look at how the vast number of English translations translate ekklésia. Look at how the LXX translates ekklésia. Note the manner in which Josh proposes that the Word of God be heard and the consequences for the listener.
” LXX translates ekklésia.”
I took my translation from the LXX.
I’m sorry. This is another trigger for Jean. I didn’t expect it to be. No offense intended. I just don’t think the passage means exactly what he thinks it means, but I am fine with his translation.
Josh @9:13 – you said – “If He is speaking specifically to the disciples,…”
So when Jesus spoke the great commission in Matt 28 to the same group, are you saying it has no present day implications for today?
First, I didn’t say that Matthew 18 has no present day implications. In fact I said otherwise.
Josh – “I don’t know that Jesus would advocate for shaming someone in front of a modern mega-church, ” – why would you think of it as a shaming process and not a healing process?
Let’s go back to the Bachelorette situation (and it does not need to be her in particular).
Let’s assume she goes to a large mega church and everyone knew she was going to be on the show. Did she not embarrass or shame her whole church by not only her actions, but making a public spectacle of her church as the world assumes the teaching of her church is that immoral behavior is totally acceptable.
So the pastor calls her in because he has been commissioned to care for her soul, he calles her to repentance and she repents. Now is her repentance to be kept quiet or does she have an obligation to repent to those who she brought shame? When she shows up at the communion rail, how is one to know that she has repented?
I don’t know if you remember Sandy Patti – but she went through this – an affair, a divorce and a remarriage before anyone knew she had had the affair.
She was brought before her church and made public confession and was restored (at least in her church – the general public still had an issue). But it was restorative and not punitive.
Well, you bring up some instances where “assembly” may in fact include the entire congregation. I’ve already said I’m not opposed to that APPLICATION, just that I quarry with the linguistic interpretation.
quarrel. Quarry is his Irish boxer cousin.
Ah, Jerry Quarry – one of the all time favorites in SoCal back in the 60s and 70s.
He could punch and take a punch. 🙂
🙂 He could certainly take a punch.
Isn’t there some Scripture that addresses what we are to do when a “brother” is overtaken in a fault? ? ?
That said, if i had brought shame to my whole church, an apology before the whole congregation might be appropriate… still there is tempering grace – a duty of the church also – perhaps time for a word from the pastor? ?
Amen to this post. And a reminder that Harris was himself sexually abused in some form as a child, by his own confession.
I think this is a better article and has another quote from Harris’s instagram.
Interesting how he is using the social media and gets says he is “not broadcasting” nor writing books, but rather is sitting in “quietness” and “silence”
Some silence Josh.
BTW the doughnuts do look good.
Is he coming out?
Add it up:
Kissed marriage goodbye
Kissed raising his children goodbye
Says hello to his new family.
Maybe, maybe not. It could just be another cause and purpose to live for, loving and guiding his biological family just wasn’t enough.
I didn’t care about Johns opinion when he wrote his book on dating and I still don’t care what the guy thinks…