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143 Responses

  1. Xenia says:

    If you all just read Fr. James’ article (the first link) I will never have to explain anything here again!

  2. Michael says:


    I thought that was an excellent article…I’m glad you affirm it.

  3. Xenia says:

    Michael, it’s basic Eastern Orthodox theology and he explained it very well.

  4. Nonnie says:

    A friend sent me this sexual abuse article this morning. I was there, in Manila, when New Tribes sent the sexual abuser (dorm parent) back to the states. I honestly believe that everyone thought he would face justice in a court of law once he got to the states, but it was not until years later that I discovered that nothing was done to him stateside. Turns out they had no jurisdiction over a crime committed in the Philippines. His wife died just a few months later from a heart attack. As one of her friends put it, “She literally died of a broken heart.”
    I am so thankful that there are groups training churches and missions how to properly vet, train, react to, and prevent sexual abuse.

  5. Jean says:

    I quite enjoyed Bernstein’s article, “The Original Christian Gospel.” It was my first exposure to Eastern Orthodox theology and was probably the finest summary of the major atonement theories I have come accross. I would love to read a fuller biblical exegesis of the Biblical Orthodox Understanding of Salvation to see how the different scriptual angles on atonement fit within Bernstein’s framework.

  6. Ryan Ashton says:

    I had a fascinating talk with a BJU administrator this morning covering a wide range of topics, including GRACE. I told him about the American Prospect article (linked above) and he said a few things that should interest you all:

    First, I saw his eyes, demeanor, and tone — as well as his wife who I’ve had candid conversations about this — and know without a doubt the people Dr. Stephen Jones has put in place are a much different bunch than who were there in decades past. My contact is utterly sincere and I think an advocate for compassion and introspection. He admitted without my asking some glaring issues with fundamentalism and noted the American Church, and Fundamentalism in particular, is entering a season we can no longer ignore. He said he was grateful the relationship with GRACE was put back on track, and I asked him what we all could do in anticipation of this report. (Since we all know there will be backlash.) I mentioned to him how Bob Coy and Mark Driscoll have handled things, and he seemed to take those examples to heart.

    I think BJU is ready. They want to help people — whether they regain credibility or not (and they hope they do). It’s almost like judging America for Jim Crow when the generation that is alive didn’t institute those laws (I guess… Bad analogy, but you get my meaning? Aside from the older faculty, most of the people here are new and different).

    I feel like BJU deserves a chance. I’ve spoken to enough people here to witness their heart, and while their stance on theology is steadfast, it gives the impression they don’t care about people… And nothing could be further from the truth.

    I told him I want to help. I want to see people healed. I want to see myself healed. I’ll be in contact with these folks during the summer when the report comes out. Please be praying — I think this is an opportunity to finally right wrongs and I am praying I’m the right person at the right place at the right time.

  7. Nonnie says:

    Ryan said, ” I am praying I’m the right person at the right place at the right time.”

    Praying with you, Ryan. Maybe for such a time as this, the Lord has placed you there to encouraged the BJU folks about compassion and transparency and be a reminder of the devastation caused when wounded folks are marginalized, ignored or just told to just close the door on the way out, etc.

  8. Andy says:

    That first link is a jumbled confusing mess to me. Talk about not being the “simplicity of the Gospel”.

    I believe in Jesus who died for my sins and rose again, therefore I’m going to heaven. There, the Gospel is done. I will be in heaven, no matter what.

    SBC is no longer going to be dispensationalist…. I knew there was a reason why I felt led to stop referring people to SBC churches, some time back.

  9. Andy – one day I will have to ask you what you mean by believe. My 3 yr old granddaughter believes in Jesus … but she also believes in unicorns.

  10. Andy says:

    MLD, believe means to put my full trust in. I put my full trust in the fact that Jesus’ death paid for my sins, and that Jesus rose from the dead, and that believing this means I will be in heaven, no matter what, and that it is the only way to heaven. I add no works to contradict that trust. For, to add works, means to not believe, to not trust.

  11. Michael says:


    That first link is quite representative of the first few hundred years of Christianity.
    Nothing makes me laugh like a dispensationalist calling another tradition jumbled and confused…

  12. Andy says:

    Michael, we’re back to that “history” thing, and I don’t buy it.

    Since the Bible doesn’t support the other “gospels”, but only one Gospel.

  13. covered says:

    I will always remember and be grateful for how CC taught me the Word. It helped me to fall in love with God’s Word. What I learned though away from the CC theology from other teachers opened my heart and mind to a fuller understanding of God’s Word and a stronger relationship with Jesus. Andy, I have been reading your posts for a couple of days now and let me just say that I understand why you say the things you say but there’s another side to what you have been taught and it’s a wonderful thing.

  14. Michael says:


    Were the moon landings faked as well?
    The Bible has always been interpreted…and those interpretations have developed over the centuries.
    Your interpretation is relatively new on that timeline.
    That doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily wrong, it’s just a fact.

  15. Andy says:

    covered, I am fully persuaded of what I believe about the Bible. I’m all set. 🙂 I’m not looking for another side. There is only one side, and that is God’s side. That’s where I want to be.

    Michael, mockery doesn’t make your case.

    “My interpretation” was found also among the “early church fathers”, and we’ve of course had this discussion many times. It is “your interpretation” that came along many hundreds of years later.

  16. covered says:

    Andy, one of the best things about this site is what we can learn from folks like Michael, Xenia, MLD, Steve, Fil, Nonnie and host of others who love Jesus as much as you do. If you can’t learn anymore, why do you come here? By your recent comments, it seems that you have it all figured out, you think that your knowledge is superior to others and it appears that you now just want to be confrontational. So now I’m very curious, why do you come here?

  17. Ricky Bobby says:

    Andy, I think “God” has a sense of humor and a sense of irony, many times when someone claims they’ve got things all figured out (it happens to me, often)…”God” has a way of showing you how wrong you are in your “figured out”-ness and throws something your way that forces you out of your “100% I’m all set!” box 🙂

  18. Andy says:

    covered, I’m not saying that I have nothing to learn. I’m saying that there are things that I don’t believe in, and I’ve already studied them, and rejected them.

    This is the second time someone said, “why do you come here?”, so I will grant your wish, and depart. 🙂

  19. Ricky Bobby says:

    One of the few things that is settled for me personally is knowing that I’ve got things all figured out and that my particular Box is “100% correct doctrine!” etc.

  20. Ricky Bobby says:

    “knowing that I DON’T have things all figured out” above. Yikes! I’m a typo machine today. More coffee please!!!

  21. London says:

    Sincere question.
    Isn’t “putting your whole trust in” a work in and if itself?
    I know it certainly was (is) for me. It doesn’t come at all naturally for me to trust ANYONE including God. It has been a painful and long process that I still have to work on nearly every day.
    It’s work for me.
    I did the whole ask Jesus into your heart when I was about 10 and meant every word. I’ve never doubted that was a sincere and binding act or that what my VBS teachers told me about Jesus that day was false.
    I see saving and surrendering as two distinct things. Do you?

  22. covered says:

    Andy, I never asked you to leave, I was just curious as to why you came here? You have been around for a while and know well that in between well deserved CC floggings and beatings that others like Driscoll rightly deserve, that this site is full of those who have a great knowlegde and strong opinion of God’s Word. If you aren’t interested in learning, then it just seems strange that you sit on the bleachers and tell others how wrong they are and how you have it all figured out. It’s just a bit weird but you’re welcome to stay with the rest of us weirdos.

  23. covered says:

    London, great observation. I think that MLD is going to be all over this but I know that there are times when I heard that still small voice reveal things. Everytime this happened, it changed or confirmed what I thought I understood about God’s Word. His Word IS alive and He can even use others to share it as it was intended.

  24. Scott Barber says:

    Wow. Pretty blown away by that first link. I have spent the last four years studying the first five centuries of the Church, and I have stumbled across few things that sum up early Christian thought so well. It reminds me of The Spirit of Early Christian Thought by Robert Wilken (a very, very, good book) .

  25. Ricky Bobby says:

    I think “god’s word is alive!” in the sense that it means so many different things to so many different people and keeps growing and changing in its interpretation etc. from generation to generation, from Sect to Sect, etc.

    It certainly has taken on a life of its own 🙂

  26. Michael says:


    It blew me away as well…really concise and clear.
    Now, I have to order that book… 🙂

  27. Michael says:


    It doesn’t bother me to know that the doctrines that I hold to took centuries to fully develop.
    I’m not sure why it offends you…

  28. Ricky Bobby says:

    The US Constitution is alive as well….according to the Liberals…only the US Constitution, unlike the bible, is much more consistent and cut-and-dry and not full of dual narrative and contradiction etc.

  29. Ricky Bobby says:

    The differences between the “Bible” and the US Constitution (in terms of inconsistency vs. consistency, contradiction vs. non-contradiction, ambiguity vs. specificity, etc.) is why I am Liberal with regards to bible theology/doctrine and Conservative regarding the US Constitution.

  30. London says:

    Oh and here’s my contribution to “decent people doing good things” for the week.
    Totally excited about this group and looking forward to services/class with them on an upcoming visit to Austin.

  31. Xenia says:

    A little personal testimony…

    I was a Protestant Christian for the first 50 years of my life. (I will include my early childhood because even then, I was attending Sunday School and Vacation Bible School.) I must have heard the western version of the Atonement explained to me hundreds of times, from the pulpit, from my Sunday teachers, from books, from radio sermons, and in Bible College and it never made sense to me at all.

    I would sit in church and the pastor would get ready to explain it all again and I would say “pay attention, this time you are going to understand it!” And the pastor would start talking and I would sit on the edge of my seat, hoping that this time I would get it, praying that I would get it, worrying that I might not be saved unless I *did* get it, and it was always a bust, it never made a lick of sense. Everyone would respond with “isn’t that great?” and I would quietly think “It doesn’t make any sense!”

    So I just accepted on faith that the Atonement had some kind of meaning that I was either too dumb or too carnal to understand. It made me uneasy, though, that the central tenet of Christianity was so completely lost on me.

    The Orthodox view makes perfect sense to me. It is in keeping with what I always thought God was like- a truly loving Father. I can’t tell you what a relief it was to discover the view of the Atonement that Fr. James explained in Michael’s link. Not only does it make sense, it is in keeping with the nature of God, who is pure love.

  32. Xenia says:

    The view presented by Fr. James in the first link is not just early Christian thought, it is the theology still believed by millions of Christians today.

    If anyone wants to see this ancient theology in practice, visit your local Orthodox Church.

  33. Scott Barber says:

    Michael, I think you will really enjoy Wilken’s book, it does a good job placing the reader in that late antique world.

  34. RB, so why do we need a Supreme Court if the Constitution is so clear and not contradictory? I have a question for you … see how Constitutionally smart your are.

    According to the Constitution, which branch of government has jurisdiction over the constitution?

  35. Michael says:


    I just used the rest of a gift card and bought it. 🙂

  36. Whenever someone says that their view represents the Bible and refuses any critique of that view as being invalid because it is not from the Bible when all they have done is offer a variant interpretation… it is best to just change the channel and ignore the background noise.

  37. Andy gets ganged up on a lot and people hardly ever give him a fair shake on here. I have seen much scorn and mockery aimed at him with the added hint that he should leave.
    How loving.

  38. Is Andy a new blogger or is he a reincarnation? I have not seen him before the last two days though I am forgetful. The rejection of history out of hand simply leaves no room for discussion. I am not meaning to gang up just to point out useless dialogue.

  39. Ricky Bobby says:

    MLD, au contraire, it illustrates the subjectivity of ancient or even old text or even recent text…even a very non-contradictory straightforward document like the US Constitution requires a level of interpretation and there is some disagreement…how much more an ambiguous ancient text like the “bible”…which is why there are 9,000 to 30,000 official differences of opinion by Sect and Denomination.

    It is more reasonable to hold a conservative literalist opinion of a text that is much less ambiguous…vs. taking a conservative and literalist opinion of a text that is rife with ambiguity and competing narrative and contradiction.

  40. Steve Wright says:

    I finally had the time to read the first link….I don’t know what exactly to say.

    I found that the key points being made by the priest throughout almost the entire article are points I make consistently and regularly – and I have an archive of messages to verify my claim.

    But I hardly think I am unique, and I know my theological education has been almost wholly from those tied to western Protestantism.

    So I guess I’ll just shrug. 🙂 Maybe with a clearer recognition why Xenia and I get along pretty well. 🙂

  41. Ricky Bobby says:

    MLD, your comment also exposes something I’ve been pointing out for a very long time and thank you for confirming it:

    Yes, there is an “official” body that is charged with “official” interpretation of the US Constitution: The Supreme Court.

    In Christianity*….who is the “official” body charged with “official” interpretation of the “bible”?

    Certainly not the Lutherans nor anyone from the Reformation that split from the “official” church, no?

  42. Scott Barber says:

    Nice! You will have to tell me how you find it. The book passed around my friends and I at Regent and well all took a lot away from it. I believe Hans Boersma first introduced us to it. As an Augustine guy, I think the picture he gives of Auggie is just hit out of the park. And there is a great introduction to allegorical hermeneutics in there that sums up the modern study very well. Enjoy!

  43. Steve,
    I like you didn’t find a lot to disagree with in the first article and have heard a lot of it preached.
    Didn’t find it all that revolutionary or new.

    I have fuller answers on Thing I think thread, but I think i am through arguing for the day.
    And Andy has been here a little while.

  44. Xenia says:

    I am a little surprised (happily, though) that some of you find the first article somewhat familiar because when I discovered it, it was truly revolutionary for me.

    Hi Steve 🙂

  45. Xenia says:

    Andy is typical of a certain type of American Christian that I no longer identify with but I tell you what: from what I’ve read from him, he is a devoted follower of our Lord and I have a lot of respect for him.

  46. Ricky Bobby says:

    MLD, it illustrates the subjectivity of ancient or even old text or even recent text…even a very non-contradictory straightforward document like the US Constitution requires a level of interpretation and there is some disagreement…how much more an ambiguous ancient text like the “bible”…which is why there are 9,000 to 30,000 official differences of opinion by Sect and Denomination.

    It is more reasonable to hold a conservative literalist opinion of a text that is much less ambiguous…vs. taking a conservative and literalist opinion of a text that is rife with ambiguity and competing narrative and contradiction.

  47. Ricky Bobby says:

    MLD, the Supreme Court is charged with interpreting the Constitution…the States and the Legislative branch (with a requisite amount of support and some hoops to jump through) can Amend the Constitution. Basic Civics 101.

  48. RB, Your answer is incorrect. The Constitution failed to state who had jurisdiction. It was in Marbury vs Madison (1803) that the Supreme Court itself ruled that it had jurisdiction over the Constitution.

    The constitution is quite unclear on most topics … would you like to discuss interstate trade and see how clear it is?

    Also, you do know that your 9,000 to 30,000 denominations is a phoney claim as most denominations are not split over theological issues. Most are nationality, language and customs.

    All believe in baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the deity of Jesus, the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, the resurrection, the 2nd coming of Jesus.

    Methodist and Free Methodist split over whether people should pay for their pew – not a very theological issue.

  49. Brian says:

    Number one made me weep. So often when I read protestant theology I come away with just how much God hates my gutz, every single cell that is not perfect, every single atom and sub atomic particle that makes up “me” God loathes with a deep eternal and unrelenting wrath. That was being tame. I mean most outside of the paul washer’s of the world do they come close to just how vile human beings are. I mean two year old babies that would slaughter their father and walk across his bloody corpse and feel absolutely no remorse whatsoever for a shiny watch. Dont believe me go listen to his sermon, I posted it here a few times. You hear the same nonsense from JM, Driscoll and the rest of the hit parade.

    I think the Orthodox view is nuanced and holds the wonderment of God but does not couch sin. You know why this link was truly powerful, I have always felt guilty at how repulsed I am by some of the extreme expressions of protestant theology, and made to feel like I am spitting in God’s face. Now I understand more fully how other forms of the Christian faith that have been around far more than the neocons have.

  50. London says:

    I wasn’t ganging up. I wanted to know his thoughts.
    I assume he is not an AKA for someone else. If so, then ill pass

  51. Jean says:

    As I indicated earlier, the first article contains a very good summary of several atonement theories, and the Eastern Orthodox understanding of atonement is very interesting. However, before I could consider it convincing, I would need to see the biblical exegesis, which the article didn’t provide. There are many biblical texts which may not line up with the Eastern Orthodox understanding, and I would love to see them addressed in support of their understanding. To name a few, Jesus and Peter both describe Jesus’ death as a ransom. Also, the author of Hebrews describes Christ’s death as a sacrifice offered to bear the sins of many. Paul in 1 Cor 15 wrote that Christ died for our sins. And, of course, we cannot ignore 2 Cor 5:21. Thus, I would love to read the Eastern Orthodox interpretation of these and other verses, which have ransom, substitution or penal elements, to see how they line up with the Eastern Orthodox theory of atonement.

  52. Xenia says:

    Hi Jean, I noticed that your two requests for a biblical exegesis of the Eastern view of the Atonement have gone unanswered. I guess if anyone was going to provide the answers, it would be me. Unfortunately, due to poor time management on my part, I am woefully behind on my school work and have to scramble to catch up so no time to do the research necessary to provide you with an adequate response. However, the author of the article, Fr. James Bernstein, is a friend of a friend and I am going to email him and see if he will be good enough to send me the information which I will post here. Sorry; I know it sounds like I’m brushing you off but I am truly swamped and should even be on the blog at all this week!

    Forgive me,

  53. Xenia says:

    *should NOT even be on the blog….

  54. Jean says:

    That would be awesome Xenia. No need for apology. Maybe Michael would allow Fr. Bernstein to guest blog here.

  55. sisterchristian says:

    Really enjoyed reading the article on the orthodox position of the gospel
    Seems to make more sense

    Would be interested in hearing more
    Especially having the questions Jean asked above explained., as I am left with similar questions

  56. Xenia says:

    The chairs! Thanks for posting that, Brian.


  57. Brian says:

    This one is very long but worth it from my quick reading. The EO is definitely different than the Catholic view in some ways, it is very different from the protestant view.

    Sorry about the double posts but did not want it to get caught in the filter.

  58. Xenia says:

    We do believe that Christ died for our sins, by the way. We just interpret that statement differently.

  59. Brian says:

    From my reading the orthodox also do not think babies have the ability to become mass murders and kill their parents for shiny watches, I think that is a plus but that is just me.

  60. Monk says:

    I liked the “seeking God in silence” link.

    There are some places in the desert where you can hear your own heart beating it is so quite.

    Most people are very uncomfortable with silence. Today I see people all over the place wearing head phones. Even on the basketball court there are some with headphones on.

    Sensory deprivation tanks are more then silent. You are placed in a tank of water heated exactly to your own body temp, a tank in a chamber that has sound absorbing materials that make it super silent.

    Few can stay in the tank for very long.

    I knew of one old prophetic man way back in 1972 who lived in San Diego county CA. This man would sit in the middle of his room. A room that had a radio on each side of it that was on and tuned to different stations. The clatter was unbearable from those radios.

    With all of that racket and lack of silence this man would just sit there in the middle of it all and practice the presence of The Lord.

    So I guess it works both ways, silence or noise.

    Seeking out after God no matter what environment we find ourselves in is entirely possible. Therefore we are really without excuse for not doing as such.

    Christian meditation upon the Master Creator is a neglected practice by many Christians. Making time for God, for waiting upon The Lord, is a component of relationship with Him.

    Often Jesus sought out the quiet place of the desert to commune with His Father.

  61. Andrew says:

    I must say that the Orthodox link is fascinating. I think there is a lot of good stuff in there. However, It is probably impossible for me to ever embrace all the conclusions. I found the legal vs. medicinal discussion very interesting, However, I do think we need something else even more radically different. Not a lawyer, not a doctor but a perfect wonderful savior. You see when you are “dead” no lawyer or doctor can heal. We need a miracle worker to raise us from the dead. I love the emphasis on the humility and love of God in the Orthodox position. It is something in the institutionalized western churches we do not hear much about. With this said though, I am not sure how the Orthodox would treat the book of Revelation. The book is filled with judgements with the unveiling of Christ. So this part doesn’t see to jive with me. It certainly seems that God is a judge. Although during Christ first coming he did not come to condemn, I think in His second coming there definitely will be judgement. So I look to try to find a balance with this understand of God in my life.

  62. Ricky Bobby says:

    MLD, incorrect about the 9,000 to 30,000 claim….James White’s number is 9,000 and he removed those issues you claim.

    The 30,000 claim is actually above 40,000 by many scholars who see nuance and differences in the various Sects/Denoms that are not language-based etc. It’s why I give the range to show the low end and the high end of the Consensus.

  63. Ricky Bobby says:

    Regarding your claims about the US Constitution being a text that still is rife with subjectivity and ambiguity…yes, you are agreeing with my macro position about basing certain claims about “thus sayeth the Lord!” on a text that can be interpreted broadly.

    My comparison and my assertion was that the US Constitution (an old text) is much more straightforward, much more specific and precise and doesn’t have the contradictions and double-narratives of the bible…yet there is still not 100% agreement about what the authors intended and it requires interpretation and that interpretation varies…though not nearly as many disagreements as the much more ambiguous bible text.

  64. Ricky Bobby says:

    Christians* use the Magic Eraser and claim the “Holy Spirit” tells them what the bible says to try and get around the problem.

    However, that doesn’t fly as all claim that the Holy Spirit tells them what the text really means…and there are still 9,000 to 30,000 differences of opinion.

  65. Ricky Bobby says:

    Which makes it clear that either there is one Group that truly hears from the Holy Spirit and all else don’t hear right (and are thus wrong)…or we don’t know what the bible really intends to say on most every issue b/c so many “bible believing!” and “holy spirit filled!” Christians* hear much differently…and have much different opinions on most issues concerning the “bible”.

  66. Ricky Bobby says:

    MLD, why would the “Holy Spirit” who you claim is the real author of the bible…tell YOU that Infant Baptism is legit and “saves” people…but tells most everyone in Evangelicalism that it isn’t an issue and doesn’t save anyone?

  67. Andrew says:

    Ricky Bobby, there are really basically only 4 flavors to choose from of the kind church.

    1. Roman Catholic
    2. Lutheran
    3. Eastern Orthodox
    4. Anglican/Calvinism and its western spin offs….

    All of these churches are different but it seems every church can fall into one of these 4 basic types. At least that is the way I see it now.

  68. Ricky Bobby says:

    James White did a thorough debunking of a RCC claim by Steve Ray that there are “33,000 protestant denominations!”…White removed the language stuff, etc…and came up with “only” 9,000 different protestant denominations.


    Any way you slice it…even if you ignore claims by sociologists that put the number north of 40,000 and RCC claims of 33,000…9,000 is still a lot of disagreement….all saying “the Holy Spirit told me what the bible says!”

  69. RB,
    The Church has always had baptism right. For the most part ALL of the Church baptized babies for 1,500 yrs. Just because some renegades came along (Anabaptist) with a new vision (really just hate of anything the RCC did) and got a following – does not for a moment suggest that the Holy Spirit was involved.

    And yes, most evangelical churches come from a tradition that hates anything that even has the aroma of the RCC

  70. Ricky Bobby says:

    MLD, whatevs…are you saying all those folks don’t hear from the same Holy Spirit you claim to? Are there a lot of different Holy Spirits floating around out there?

  71. RB,
    “9,000 is still a lot of disagreement….all saying “the Holy Spirit told me what the bible says!”

    I guess that is just all the more reason that you do not believe the Bible … but it is the only place that we know Jesus Christ … who you line up more with Islam and perhaps give him prophet status at best.

  72. Ricky Bobby says:

    MLD said, “but it is the only place that we know Jesus Christ”

    How did anyone know Jesus before the bible?

  73. they heard wrong – why is that so hard for you to figure out?

  74. Anonymous says:


    Do you believe that baptism replaces the sign of circumcision?

  75. Ricky Bobby says:

    MLD said, “they heard wrong – why is that so hard for you to figure out?”

    I think everyone hears wrong most of the time…in fact I don’t think the Holy Spirit is telling anyone much of anything with regards to “correct bible doctrine!”…man comes up with what makes sense to him.

  76. Ricky Bobby says:

    The “Holy Spirit” told me that the bible was not intended to be made an idol in place of God and that doctrine/theology was never meant to replace God and faith in the unknown.

    Now you can’t argue with that…or you are arguing with God hisself! 😆

  77. Andrew says:

    RB, How do you know there is a “Holy Spirit”? If He told you, How do you know about Him if not by the Bible. Just curious?

  78. Ricky Bobby says:

    Andrew, that line of reasoning never flies. How did the authors of the bible know there was a Holy Spirit before they wrote the bible?

  79. Anonymous,
    “Do you believe that baptism replaces the sign of circumcision?”

    Not really – I think circumcision is used as a comparison, but not the equivalent – baptism is much more.

    I believe as the Bible says, that baptism saves, that baptism delivers to us the Holy Spirit, that baptism buries us with Christ and raises us in his resurrection, that baptism clothes us in Christ.

    I believe that baptism is totally a work of God – a method God uses to deliver to deliver to individuals what Jesus won for us on the cross. .

  80. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t that (what I mentioned) a Lutheran position?

    “Not really”??

  81. Anon,
    What was the sign of circumcision? Was it a saving act?

  82. Actually, I think the circumcision thing is more the reformed position

  83. Anonymous says:

    “What was the sign of circumcision? Was it a saving act?”

    Aw, c’mon’re pulling my leg!!

    Think Genesis 17

  84. Andrew says:

    Andrew, that line of reasoning never flies. How did the authors of the bible know there was a Holy Spirit before they wrote the bible?

    At least, in the NT, all of the authors talked “directly” and knew personally Jesus who was God.

  85. Anonymous says:

    “You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you.”

    So, is your position that baptism has replaced the sign of circumcision?

  86. Anon,
    That’s what i am trying to tell you. The comparison is invalid. Circumcision saved no one … baptism does.

    The circumcision thing in NT theology is a part of Covenant Theology which is reformed by nature and not Lutheran.

  87. “So, is your position that baptism has replaced the sign of circumcision?”
    No – circumcision was a Jewish thing.

    Baptism is different in that baptism is not a sign, but a means of grace used by God to save.

  88. Anonymous says:

    The point is not whether circumcision saves, but whether baptism of infants in NT replaces the sign of circumcision in the OT.

    From what I understand, this is the position of the Lutheran church.

  89. Steve Wright says:

    I believe as the Bible says, that baptism saves, that baptism delivers to us the Holy Spirit, that baptism buries us with Christ and raises us in his resurrection, that baptism clothes us in Christ. I believe that baptism is totally a work of God – a method God uses to deliver to deliver to individuals what Jesus won for us on the cross. .
    And yet MLD, at the same time you believe that once the little baby is old enough to decide the Christian faith is a bunch of hooey, he/she can reject all of the above.

  90. Anon,
    “From what I understand, this is the position of the Lutheran church.”

    I think you are in error – at best it is the Reformed position – they say baptism bings one into the covenant with God. Lutherans are not into covenant theology.

    But let me ask this – what’s your point in asking the question in the first place – perhaps that will shed some light.

  91. Anonymous says:

    From a Lutheran church website:

    III – Baptism Replaces Circumcision

    God’s covenant with Abraham (Genesis 17:10-14) demanded that every male child was to be circumcised when eight days old. By circumcision, the baby entered into a covenant relationship with the true God.

    St. Paul teaches us that in the New Testament baptism has replaced circumcision. “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism . . .” (Col. 2:11-12).

    Given this fact, it would have been natural for first century Jewish believers to baptize infants, since they were accustomed to circumcise their male children at eight days old. It is also logical that if God regarded eight day old male babies as members of His covenant people through circumcision, He will also regard newborn babies to be members of His kingdom through baptism, the “circumcision made without hands.”

  92. “And yet MLD, at the same time you believe that once the little baby is old enough to decide the Christian faith is a bunch of hooey, he/she can reject all of the above.”

    Just like adults do all the time

  93. Anonymous says:

    “But let me ask this – what’s your point in asking the question in the first place – perhaps that will shed some light.”

    I just wanted you to answer the question.
    And I know you like to debate the subject.

  94. Anon,
    I still don’t get it – circumcision (one thing) ended and baptism (another thing) took it’s place.
    That is why I said in my first response “not really”

    Baptism is not circumcision.Check the catacombs and let me know how many folks included their circumcision dates. But on Christian tombs, they included the child’s baptism date.

  95. So when I answered your question why did that not end the topic?

  96. Anonymous says:


    But the point you are missing is this: the REASON for infant baptism In the Lutheran church, is because they believe it REPLACES the sign of circumcision.

    I won’t believe you are missing that. You’re too smart.

  97. Anonymous says:

    In other words-that’s why you baptize infants.
    (But I am sure you know that already)

  98. Anonymous says:

    I need to go to work-will be gone most of the day.

  99. You are wrong – but not the first time.
    Listen to this Lutheran sermon on baptism – given at the time of a babies baptism. In fine Lutheran style it is only 11 min long. 🙂 – see if her baptism is not unto salvation and not a circumcision replacement.

  100. Steve Wright says:

    Just like adults do all the time
    Not at all MLD. You spoke of the Holy Spirit being delivered to us, buried with Christ and raised in his resurrection, clothed in Christ…delivering to individuals what Jesus won for us on the cross.

    Neither I, nor millions like me think that once God has done all of that work in the life of a person, that it can just be tossed aside…and of course the primary difference is that you have all this wonderful work of God happening to a baby and allowing for the rejection once the baby is old enough to think for itself……

    Your view has God with a very loose grip…

    My view is that none of that happens to a baby at its baptism ritual forced upon it by its parents

    But we’ve been down this road before…a lack of security for the believer is essential to your infant baptism doctrine.

    Whereas the security of the believer is one of the most blessed doctrines I can think of. Or I should say, justification by grace through faith is that blessed doctrine.

  101. Andrew says:

    Whereas the security of the believer is one of the most blessed doctrines I can think of. Or I should say, justification by grace through faith is that blessed doctrine.

    Steve, what is the issue here? You are talking about someone with faith not someone without it. If you lose your faith, how can you be secure especially if you are no longer a believer.

  102. Jean says:

    One of the problems with some doctrines is they cause the adherent to set aside or mangle scriptures that do not support them in order to hold to them.

  103. Steve,
    Actually your position has zero security. When I ask “what happens when one of yours falls away?” you reply “well, they were never really saved”

    So how can anyone hold to your position with any security at all – how do you know that you are not one who will fall away and find out you were never really saved?”

    I have often asked, what about the believer who stops believing? (and we know they are out there) – does he, by God’s tight grip, still end up in heaven? Do we have unbelievers in heaven? I can’t find that one in my Bible.

    Now, nowhere is my position that one can lose their salvation.

  104. Steve,
    “My view is that none of that happens to a baby at its baptism ritual forced upon it by its parents ”

    Well heck, you don’t believe any of that happens when an adult freely chooses to get baptized either. You just believe “wet” happens – 😉

  105. Steve Wright says:

    Both MLD and I believe salvation is a supernatural work of God. Our differences is that I see that work as an act of grace through faith, and MLD sees it as the result of a parent forcing their baby to go through a Christian ritual.

    Another difference is that I do not think man can undo what God has done. MLD does.

    And since the Spirit bears witness to my spirit that I am a child of God, all the “how do you know you are saved” questions are moot.

  106. Jean says:

    Steve, do you believe that God has given us free will?

  107. Steve, you are becoming a better comedian that you are a pastor. 🙂

    Since we are stating each others position – Steve’s, position is that God can work only with our permission. Steve denies that God’s word does a work in our life – but instead believes that it takes our rational thought to consent to what God has proposed. I personally think that God’s word does it’s own work.

  108. Andrew says:

    Wow Steve, you really think a parent is being abusive in what you call “FORCING” their baby to go through baptism? That is the most ludicrous thing I have ever heard. Have you ever seen a little baby boy get circumcised. Now that is where you are going to hear that baby cry for a long time.

  109. Nonnie says:

    Actually, Andrew, my baby boy cried much less getting circumcised than my baby girls did when they got their PKU blood tests. I’m not arguing for circumcision, just stating how my babies reacted. (However, I did wait until the 8th day to have it done as my doctor was a 7th Day Adventist and he was convinced that it was better for baby in all ways, to wait until the 8th day. )

  110. Andrew says:

    Most Americans circumcise their boys and how brutal that can be but most don’t get all uptight about it. It takes them a few days to heal afterwords as well. But if we baptize a baby we are someone being abusive because its a Christian ritual? I’ll really don’t know what to say to this other than I’m perplexed because Jesus said don’t hinder the little ones from coming to Him.

  111. Andrew – I think he was joking. It’s the way Steve and I make our points to each other. 🙂

  112. Nonnie says:

    Andrew, I was not taking any issue with you over baptism. Agreed that parents are to bring their children to Jesus.

  113. Andrew says:

    MLD, you are right Steve is a better comedian than a pastor. 🙂 But you have to be to be a pastor in the decisional regenerational type church. 🙂

  114. Steve Wright says:

    Luke 13:34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!

    Mld wrote (Steve’s, position is that God can work only with our permission)

    Steve’s position is reflected in the words of Jesus above. He wanted to do something, but the people refused, so it did not get done. There were consequences as a result, and Jesus even is seen later weeping as He explains those consequences.

    Steve’s position is that God created us with the capacity of choice and that both the perfect and permissive will of God are found throughout the Bible, both in teaching and in practice among God’s people. That God certainly permits sin, and yet God does not ordain it, nor does He somehow stop working because someone is sinning.

    Steve’s position is that God is sovereign and in His sovereignty He has given man this capacity of choice, but with God overseeing the consequences of those choices.

    Steve’s position is that as many as receive Him, even that believe in His name, are given the authority to become a child of God.

    Steve’s position(s) above are all reflected quite clearly in the pages of Scripture.

    And I used the word “forcing” in the Physics sense. A physical force exercised upon another. No baby is going to show up at its baptism without someone picking it up and physically delivering it to the church. The baby has no more choice in the matter than these keys I am hitting to make these words appear.

  115. Steve Wright says:

    Andrew, do you think every time a parent forces a child to do something that the parent is being abusive? Brush their teeth. Turn off the TV. Go to bed. Eat the veggies. Do the homework.

    Is that really how you communicate in English with normal people, or is that just the ready-made argument when you see my name attached to a post? 🙂

  116. Xenia says:

    Steve’s 101, security of the believer.

    When I was an evangelical, I was a nervous wreck all the time worrying that I was not a genuine Christian because (1) I never received that 2nd blessing I was told I should have gotten by just asking for it and (2) there was always the “if you were sincere when you asked Jesus into your heart” caveat and since I am probably the least sincere person I know, that was enough to have me asking Jesus into my heart over and over. So I never had any security and I don’t believe I was alone in this.

  117. Steve,
    “but with God overseeing the consequences of those choices.”

    What does this mean?

    By your Luke quote, are you saying that no one in Israel could be saved – where did the disciples come from? I think you may be misapplying the scripture you put into play.

  118. Steve Wright says:

    You were taught very poorly Xenia, no matter how common it might be among evangelicals. May I ask if part of that concern was accompanied by a steady stream of altar calls you were subject to?

    I guess the flip side though is to ask if it is better for someone to be striving to enter into the gates because they are a nervous wreck…or for someone to have a false sense of salvation because of a ritual during their infancy only to wake up in hell after death?

  119. Andrew says:

    Steve, its just funny when I see you and MLD interact. MLD does infact call it child abuse if a parent won’t allow their baby to be baptized; so when I see you take the opposite view of MLD its almost like you are saying its child abuse if a parent does baptize their child. Its the dynamic of you and MLD chatting and not so much your name alone.

  120. Steve Wright says:

    “but with God overseeing the consequences of those choices.”
    What does this mean?
    MLD – As a parent, I leave the house for work and tell my child that if the homework is done and the room is clean then we are going to go get pizza and a movie. If they aren’t he won’t come with the rest of the family.

    I am sovereign in the consequences, while my child has the capacity of choice.

    My perfect will is for homework to get done, room to be cleaned AND to enjoy a fun night with my child. I’ve laid it out, my son has been convicted of what is right and wrong, and yet can resist my perfect will.

    If so, my permissive will is that he stays home to do the work while the rest of the family goes out for the fun.

    But my will is going to be done either way.

    Nobody is going to be able to refuse God when He sends them to hell at judgment day. His will is done in sending to hell.

    But to think it is God’s perfect will to damn souls for eternity is not a doctrine I see in the Scriptures.

  121. I am much more secure in my salvation now knowing that it was God working in me to save me than I ever was when I was taught to think that I chose God.

    Unlike the decision theology crowd, I found that salvation was not just getting enough information to make an informed decision – but to wake up to the change God made in me.

    It’s the difference in the procedure – we don’t ask people if the want to accept Christ … Christ accepts them.

  122. Andrew says:

    Steve, between the two extremes of striving to inter the gates and having a false sense of salvation, I think you may have missed the boat completely. Maybe the person striving so hard with their own pietism will be the one that wakes up some day in hell after death because they were trusting in themselves. Ever think of that? Its faith and not works that gets you into heaven.

  123. Steve Wright says:

    And I know that plenty of theologians balk at the permissive/perfect will of God discussion. But that is what I see over and over in the Bible – and so that is what I teach.

    Have to run now and prepare more for tonight. Finishing the last two chapters of Isaiah…I think we started the book in mid August last year!

  124. Steve Wright says:

    Andrew, I doubt there are many people in our church going through what Xenia described in her experience and if they are there then they are not listening to the messages very well, but if they keep coming back they will be freed from that insecurity.

    I have many, many folks over the years express their newfound understanding for salvation at our church, despite prior years of evangelicalism.

    Thanks for the insight that faith, not works, gets us into heaven. I’m sure that needed to be explained to me…. 😉

  125. Steve Wright says:

    Choose God, MLD? I believe the Scripture which I quoted accurately was “believe in His name”

  126. Andrew says:

    Steve, what you are describing could very well be giving people false assurance to listen to more decisional theology. On the flip side it could also be causing doubt in those that have faith when they don’t come to your church any longer.

  127. Steve,
    Choose God was a general statement for the decision theology crowd – however it was also picked out of your #115 “Steve’s position is that God created us with the capacity of choice…”

  128. Happymom says:

    Just caught up reading the links and wanted to express appreciation to you for posting them. Being Jesus in the kill Zone is an incredible story.
    Just an FYI, I couldn’t get the link for Nine things you should know about prayer in the Bible to work.

  129. PP Vet says:

    Relatively few people come to Christ through those enlightened ones who preach against decision theology.

    What bothers me is the narrowness: Do those who preach against decision theology have a valid point? Of course they do.

    However, they reshape the gospel around their own perspective, beliefs, and experience and throw out whatever does not fit. And this is damaging to people.

    Preach what you know, and allow room for the fact that there is much you do not understand.

    Choose ye this day whether to embrace decision theology.

  130. PP Vet,
    At least I am glad that you recognize it as decision theology. The difference between the saved and the lost is not God … but who makes the right decision. The one who best processes the information

    Hey, it does make for the great music that comes out of crusades and altar calls .:-)

  131. Jean says:

    “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward” (Heb 11:24-26 NASB).

    Every one of us makes decisions every day: Do we remain in the comfort of Egypt or follow The Way and live as new exodus people?

  132. Bob says:


    There’s one problem with your anti-decision making theology, the bible is full of people who are giving choice and decide between God’s instruction and their own way.

    Of course there also appears to be others who had zero choice to decide either way and these are often used to support the basic principals of Calvin.

    So what sayth thee?

  133. Jean,
    You are 100% correct – that is the daily decision made by the believer … the unbeliever not so much. The unbeliever cannot say “faith” – he has not yet been given the faith – and if he already has the faith, well, then he is already a believer.

  134. Bob,
    Well I am far from a Calvinist – I just believe the Bible (to quote some here) that says God gives you the faith to believe through hearing his word.

    You hear the word, it builds faith in you and one day you are a Christian.

    Go look to the roots of decision theology (hint – the past 200 yrs) and see the reason – I need to drive to work – I will check later

  135. Bob says:

    I don’t have much time to post, but I know this, life requires decisions. Within all is the roots to decide to follow the paths set before each person everyday. However, the question at hand is do people have the ability to choose the path of God?

    I find it a very tough and even personal conversation. On the outside it appears some just have it all together and find it easy to follow God while others not so much. What I find interesting is having faith in the one God and Messiah Jesus doesn’t require what most would call the right behavior.

    What I basically believe is many confuse choice with right behavior

  136. Jean says:

    Is it faith which is the gift, or is it grace which is the gift? I see the latter as the biblical description, however, I haven’t done an exhaustive study and am open to other views.

  137. Jean,
    Salvation is all gift – the methods, the means, the end product.
    God repents us, God justifies us, God sanctifies us and God glorifies us.

    The faith has to be gift because it is built into God’s word “faith comes by hearing the word of God.”

    Unlike many, I don’t see the ‘choice’ as God has cast his vote for you, satan has cast his vote against you – now YOU have the deciding vote … with a build up like a game show – which door do you choose? 🙂

  138. Jean says:

    MLD, does your understanding lead to God gifting some people and not other people (i.e., pre-destination)? If not, what is the distinction?

  139. Jean,
    Well, we cannot deny predestination or election – they are in the Bible. What they mean may not be so clear – at least not to me.

    This is called the crux theologorum.- The cross of theologians – trying to answer “why some and not others ” has brought down many a great theologian. As a Lutheran, where the Bible speaks I speak – where the Bible is silent, I must remain silent. The Bible never says.

    Both Calvinists “God predestines some to hell, others to heaven”, and Arminians “I have chosen to follow Jesus”, are usually pretty frustrated with us.

    I think I can say this 2 people sit next to each other and here God’s word preached by the pastor, some amount of faith is dispensed to each – when enough has been given, people come to faith (I have no idea what that amount would be) – the person to be saved, without thinking about it let’s it accumulate until one day the work is done in that person. The other, I don’t know, pre salvation all anyone can do is reject – perhaps after each service they reach in grab the faith and toss it in the trash can on the way out. Who know?

  140. Bob says:


    You know I found the scriptures don’t spend a lot of time teaching people how to figure out if others are in the house or not. But it does spend a lot of time teaching those who are I the house God’s walk in those life and the next.

    It is a sad state of affairs when the sole goal of believing is one’s eternal destiny, life after death, when God’s kingdom is here today. I could be wrong and misunderstanding what I read, but Much of what I hear from you is about life after death when there is so much more. My scriptures, and life, tell me faith in Him, His sacrificial death, resurrection and teachings are about living today and not just a hope for bodily resurrection. My joy isn’t in the idea I will escape death in some future, God only knows, date, but that I escape death and walk with Him each and every day.

    Now did I personally choose and make Him God? heaven forbid! However, He presented me His words and at that moment I knew I had to make a choice, not to escape hell, but to either walk on my own or with Him. I chose to walk with Him.

    Was I predestined to choose God? All I know is I had come to the fork in the road and it was time to decide which direction I was going to take. You know what? The idea of taking the wrong fork, the one which leads to destruction, was the last thing in my mind at that moment.

  141. Bob,
    You must be reading someone else’s’ posts and applying my name. I rarely discuss the afterlife as it applies to salvation. – I see salvation as a process and if you remember, as an amillennialist I see Jesus ruling and reigning on David’s throne in his kingdom today … it’s not me who is waiting for the good stuff once the church is raptured.

    Escaping death as you speak of – I have already passed from death to life myself.

  142. “It is a sad state of affairs when the sole goal of believing is one’s eternal destiny, life after death, when God’s kingdom is here today…. living today and not just a hope for bodily resurrection. My joy isn’t in the idea I will escape death in some future, God only knows, date, but that I escape death and walk with Him each and every day.”

    Amen, Bob, that rocks! =)

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