Posted by: judy | December 29, 2009

CCO/Jubilee Conference: Redeeming Culture and the Social Gospel

Byron Borger of Hearts & Minds Books comments on a post:

“Jubilee does not believe that mankind redeems anything, Jesus does that.  That is essential and not at all debatable: He is Lord and the only One and the only way.  Therefore, Jubilee and the CCO does not and never has been influenced by the liberal tradition of the social gospel.”

However:

Gideon Strauss, 43Things,  President, Center for Public Justice, CCO/Jubilee 2010 Speaker, says this:

“and we live at a moment when the prospects are good for our work to flourish and bless others. With my dear friend (and favorite bookseller) Byron Borger I rejoice that we live in a moment when an abundance of Christian writers and publishers are “doing books about social justice, for and from the new generation who are serving the poor, and resources for those who are taking up this struggle to seek God’s reign in ways that bring hope to the hurting and hungry.”

 Chuck Colson, 2008 Jubilee Conference and CCO Major Donor Dinner Speaker says this:

 “Redeeming the culture is the never-ending mission of the church.” (Chuck Colson, Breakpoint, Jan.2, 05).

Christianity is more than a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is also a worldview that not only answers life’s basic questions–Where did we come from, and who are we? What has gone wrong with the world? What can we do to fix it?–but also shows us how we should live as a result of those answers. How Now Shall We Live? gives Christians the understanding, the confidence, and the tools to confront the world’s bankrupt worldviews and to restore and redeem every aspect of contemporary culture: family, education, ethics, work, law, politics, science, art, music. This book will change every Christian who reads it. It will change the church in the new millennium.

Rob and Kirsten Vander Giessen-Reitsma, Founder of culture is not optional, CCO/Jubilee 2010 Speakers:

“The mission of culture is not optional is to equip Christians to be faithful servants by uniting the community of believers and learning together how to actively participate in the redemption of all of culture.”

Bob Robinson, Past CCO Area Director of Ohio and now CCO Campus Minister at 3 College/Universities in Ohio, Vanguard Church Blog

“Bob is also concerned as to how our Christian faith impacts what we do in the world. Spiritual transformation is meant to be the catalyst for transforming the world. Matters of justice, the battle against poverty, care for the Creation, issues of economic globalization, seeking peace in times of war, and issues of life are high on his social action list.”

 Bob says this:

“Rather, I’d like to see a totally different paradigm: The ultimate goal is to help children believe and own a holistic view of the world that is rooted in the story of God’s redemption of all things. When a child embraces God’s plan of redemption and sees himself or herself as an active player in that plan, they find purpose and meaning in life rooted in biblical teaching.”

 Chris Seay, CCO/Jubilee 2010 Speaker, co-creator The Voice, says this:

“Here’s the point: Let’s bring reality to bear and realize that the culture is upon us. Our kids are already in it. It’s not a matter of needing to rescue the kids from the culture—it’s a matter of rescuing the lens through which they interpret culture. It’s a matter of them living in a community, discerning the truth, and redeeming what aspects of the culture can be redeemed.”

**DISCLAIMER** By no means am I assuming that the above mentioned people have or will have any influence at Jubilee, other CCO events, or Geneva College where CCO staff serve,  on the liberal tradition of the Social Gospel or the “Cultural Mandate” to redeem culture and other aspects of this world.

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Responses

  1. As Bryon keeps pointing out to you, this is NOT the social gospel in it’s original historical form. The social gospel, as it was stated in the early 20th cent, didn’t care about Jesus at all. He could or could not have been real. All they cared about was making a better world with no concern for the historic Reformed view of the Gospel.

    This is not the position that the CCO takes, nor the position of many of its speakers. Instead, we take a postion heavily influenced by what is known as “Covenant Theology” which attempts to take a full orbed view of scripture, rather than a dispensationlist view.

    Because really, that is what lies at the core of this disagreement. We (the CCO) believe that God created the world good. We believe that we were to be the image bearers of God in this good creation. We sinned and fell from that image bearing role. When Christ came, He redeemed us from our sin so we could be restored to the image bearing role intended for us.

    So, when we speak of redeeming the culture, caring for the enviorment, etc this is what we mean, no more, no less. Your constant refrain about “the social gospel” shows you are either ignorant of covenant theology or you want to willfully mispresent the CCO for your own ends.

    As you are sisters in Christ, I’m going to hope it’s the former and not the later. The former is not a sin. The later position, is.

  2. As I pointed out in one of my comments to earlier posts, the “social gospel” has long been used beyond the original use of the term from a century ago, and the word games you guys are playing is to marginalize the fact that “cultural mandate” teaching is very much a social gospel type of teaching. This is usually part and parcel of the reconstructionist or dominion theology which says we have to “Christianize” the world for Christ to return. Of course covenant theology also is problematic in that, like Rome, it confuses Israel and the Church. The “Social Gospel” is still very much focused on trying to eradicate poverty (although Jesus said the poor would always be with us) and very socialist worldview. We will never “redeem” the culture because the culture is based on sinful people. All we can do is spread the true Gospel so people are changed. Only by changing hearts can we affect cultural change, but too many “social gospel” advocates today forget about salvation and that Christ is the only way, rather we are to just follow his teachings about helping the poor and needy, the widows, orphans, etc. But if you don’t have the gospel all you have are well-fed, well-clothed hell-bound sinners.

  3. Judy,

    Thanks for offering these great quotes. All of them in one way or another indicate the theological tradition that I have happily tried to explain. Several writers have explained that yes, CCO believes that God wants to bring His restoration to His world. “Let justice flow down” and be “repairers of the breach” and salt & leaven” and all that. Yes, yes, we believe that in Christ we are to be used of God, in His Spirit’s power and under the influence of the redeeming power of the blood, as we are conformed to Christ, used as His “agents of reconciliation”, to have an impact on culture. Your quotes are good proof of that. Indeed, we think that Jesus is Lord, and we are to pray for “thy Kingdom to come” “on Earth.” Yep, that is all right. You’ve chosen fine quotes as examples, I’d say.

    The matter that you so seriously misrepresented, and now Yvonne has, too, is seen in this very odd leap of logic that implies that any of this “redeeming” of things happens through, because of, or by humans. That is a charge that is unsubstantiated, unfair, dishonest, untrue. You imply or “read into” those quotes about redeeming society some view that isn’t there (namely, I guess you mean to say, again, that these quotes show that Jubilee believes that “we” do the redeeming.)

    I am sorry to say this, Judy, as I trust you mean well, but I believe this is really, really low of you. After all this conversation, you revert to this very ugly accusation that does not hold water. It is just out and out wrong.

    Can you quote any bits in those authors that suggest that this “redeeming” they talk of is anything other than God’s work in the world, God using us as His servants, our role in living out faith as “salt” and “light” and doing the “good works” that we are to “walk in.”? If these quotes prove anything heretical, as I’m supposing you are suggesting, why not bring out the big guns quotes, that show that these folks are sub-Christian, humanistic, or that they think that “we” redeem stuff? You don’t offer THOSE kind of quotes because I suspect they don’t exit! Those authors don’t say that kind of stuff because they don’t believe that kind of stuff. Once again, you slander them unfairly. WHY?

    Surely, God chooses to use humans–He used a human to get the Son born, he used humans to write His holy Word, in His Providence He uses humans to proclaim His word, and announce His gospel. Romans 13 suggests He even uses institutions and authorities (Colossians 1 says that quite clearly, too, “thrones and dominions.”) SO, sure, God uses humans (and stones, and Balaam’s donkey, and pagan Kings like Cyrus.) Sure, God uses people. You surely don’t deny that, do you? But that isn’t any insinuation that such a view is “man-centered” or that humans can redeem anything on their own. Not at all.

    The large and serious matter of concern here is that you imply that any of the above speakers or authors suggest that “we” do the redeeming. In the body of their work and teaching, I am confident that NONE of them (well, I don’t know Chris Seay, so I can’t say for sure about him, but I have read very Christ-exalting stuff from him, and doubt if he thinks that mankind redeems anything.) No, these authors don’t believe that “man” or humans do the redeeming.

    If you say that about them, you would have to document it, with them saying that humans without Christ can save the world on their own. And they do NOT say anything of the sort.

    That is the truth, I am confident. Only non-Christians or very liberal social gospel types believe that mankind—autonomous from a Holy God and His Word, and Christ’s redeeming blood and death-smashing resurrection—can save anything. True Christians believe it is God and His Word that brings His Kingdom’s power to bear on human history. Why can’t you admit that on that much, at least you and CCO agree? WHY?

    Nobody in CCO circles and none of the authors listed above believes that we can “redeem” culture outside of God. I can speak for Jubilee leadership on this, I am sure, and I know the work of the above authors and to suggest that this is “man-centered” (as Yvonne did) or in anyway theologically liberal is just very, very untruthful. Again, you have “accused falsely.”

    Why can’t you just say we are wrong to believe this stuff. You’d be on the wrong side of church history, I think, but so be it. Be brave and argue your case with graciousness and good manners. But why say that which you cannot prove, accusing people falsely, insinuating the worst about them, implying bad, bad stuff that isn’t true? Why not argue the Biblical text, but leave out the harsh overstatements?

    All I want you to do is to tell the truth.

    Glen, you say that we must change hearts to affect social change. Amen! Why do you accuse anybody of thinking otherwise? Of course there are some differences of nuance, and those who have seen starvation up close may feel strongly that Matt 25 is so very, very important. Chuck Colson, a conservative social critic, has been in prison, so he does soul-wining and tries to help those in prison by Biblically-inspired reforms. Do you oppose that? Those who have heard John Perkins tell of being tortured in a white jail cell in Mississippi, and know of his God-given ability to forgive, may understand that preaching the gospel in a way the leads to the fruits of ethnic reconciliation, as the New Testament demands. Do you oppose that? So, yes, some have a sense of urgency about various aspects of faithfulness, but none in the above list or any who are in leadership of Jubilee, would disagree that it is essential to do faithful evangelism and preach the pure gospel.

    You say that the “cultural mandate” thinking–a phrase about the mandate to work and “tend the garden” (Genesis 2, besides Gen 1:26-28) is a social gospel type teaching. WHY DO YOU SAY THAT? Because it involves society? Well, heck, yeah, of course it does. The Bible says a lot about society. We all live in society! The apostle Paul insists (Romans 13, just for one obvious example) that this is a good thing! Nobody denies that (except a few odd cults and the gnostic heretics that Paul wrote against.) So you not agree?

    But to say it [the cultural mandate] has anything to do with the Christ-denying, cross-hating, blood-forsaking, watered-down pseudo-gospel, liberal tradition WHEN THOSE AFFILIATED WITH THAT TRADITION never even used the phrase “cultural mandate” makes little sense to me. Maybe I’m confused, but those who coined and used that phrase are solid, evangelical Reformed theologians in the mainstream of historic Christian orthodoxy. You really have to get your history right on that, I’d say, unless I’m missing something. (I know social gospel liberals, and I’ve met Chuck Colson; I know those who are in the liberal wing of social activism, and I know the solid teachers who talk about the cultural mandate. In my experience they have very, very little similiarities and I think it is wrong of you to suggest any significant overlap. Take up your beef with the social justice liberals if you are mad at the social gospel movement; those who think that God wants us to serve Him across all of society, most of us who learned it from the likes of impeccable evangelicals like Francis Schaeffer or Ron Sider are a different tradition and theology altogether. You surely understand the difference don’t you?

    I don’t want to get snide and ask how many folks you have actually lead to Jesus in your life. I know some of the CCO staff have born good fruit by God’s grace and seen sinners repent, lives changed, kids redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. These are not liberals, not social crusaders devoid of solid doctrine or lively faith, they are not advocates for weird or eccentric theology. I get around a bit to different sorts of religious groups, and these Jubilee leaders are solid. I don’t know if you know Jubilee or CCO, Glen (R.C. Sproul was on their first board and D. James Kennedy one of their first speakers, and Al Wolters who wrote Creation Regained a large influence.) I invite you to check ’em out. Judy and Yvonne, Glen, are lying about this organization. It grieves me to use strong language, but they are unwilling to stop saying untruthful things. They are passing rumors of the most unsubstantiated sort. You should ask them some hard questions about their facts.

    I am not asking you or them to agree with CCO–as I’ve often said, this is their website and they can hold whatever eccentric theology they want. BUT IT IS WRONG TO SAY OR IMPLY THINGS THAT ARE UNTRUE AND UNFAIR. IT IS SIN TO DO SO.

    I invite anybody reading along to check out the truth for themselves. Don’t trust whatever accusations these sisters make unless they can back it up not with insinuation and their own overblown assertions, but with clear and logical and true facts.

    YES, the above quotes show that Jubilee teaches cultural engagement and whole-life discipleship. God is glorified through our good works! The quotes above in no way indicate a man-centered liberal gospel or suggest that the authors believe in anything other than a classic, historic view of social change happening through revival, reformation, the application of the Word, and the strengthening of the church.

    If you don’t like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Kuyper, Edwards, Francis Schaeffer, Carl Henry, John Stott, John Piper, Chuck Colson and others like this, that is your right. But please don’t allow these bloggers to suggest that CCO or Jubilee is anything other than an evangelical ministry holding up the worth of Jesus exalted, the effective power of the Cross, and the reality of the Kingdom coming, seen among the transformed lives of those saved by His sovereign grace. Sure they want to help college students live in their classes and vocations, becoming Godly in their thinking about academics, jobs, citizenship and such. If you don’t think they should teach that, if you think the gospel doesn’t have implications for all of life, that is your right. But you shouldn’t misconstrue that in ways that makes Jubilee sound like something it isn’t. WHY do you do that, anyway? You could just say what you disagree with, doctrinally. But then you go on and say these ugly mistruths.

    Nobody in the CCO is theologically liberal, none are greatly influenced by the “social gospel” and the call to be a force for good over or in society does NOT mean that “we” redeem anything. I myself believe these brothers cited above could be a bit more careful in their use of the word “redeem” but in the fuller body of their work they are very, very clear that we don’t do the redeeming, only Christ does. We don’t “build” His Kingdom, either, but point towards it, witnessing to Jesus and His gospel. Some in these circles have perhaps used those phrases without always, everytime, detailing what they mean by that. But in the body of their books and sermons and writings and blogs, there is NO DOUBT that they mean that the society is marked by improvement as people are changed by God’s grace and as through God’s power folks live as they ought, think as they ought, etc. Nobody suggests that social improvement comes through our good efforts without God or the gospel. They just don’t. If you are implying that they do, you are way off base.

    SO, Judy, I am glad you offered these quotes. You did some helpful research, and that is to be applauded.

    But for what purpose? You quote these Bible- believing, seriously Christian folks and then you imply that they believe, by saying they want to have God glorified by “redeeming” culture. that that is somehow an indication that “they” or mankind, does the redeeming. And they never said that, even though you emphasized certain phrase. (Social justice is mentioned. Oh my! I guess you don’t like Deuteronomy or Isaiah, Amos or Haggai, Jeremiah or Micah, eh? Come on, why the “emphasis added” because a guy just mentions social justice? Is that to prove something? What, exactly? Is it a “bad” word? I hope you know your Bible better than that! Why DID you choose to “emphasize” that one little phrase, anyway? Guilt by association or something? Marxists and liberal Christians mention justice, so that means if a blood-bought, Bible-believing evangelical mentions it they are suspect? What kind of logic is that? Of course some wacky folks have fought for justice. That doesn’t mean the word isn’t in the Bible thousands of times! Matthew 23:23, for instance.)

    My previous point stands: just because some evangelicals, mostly Reformed, want to see God use them–become “players” is how Bob Robinson colorfully worded it, but we could use the Biblical language of ambassadors, or agents, or servants, does NOT mean anybody wants to deny the saving power of Christ alone, or that His Kingdom comes as He sees fit.

    Hey, one last thing. That disclaimer didn’t quite seem clear to me. I think you were trying to be sarcastic, but it didn’t quite work. These people have had an influence at Jubilee, since they have spoken there (some of them) but NOT from the social gospel, since they each despise any ideology that discounts the role of Jesus and His saving grace. And that last sentence was just kinda weird. Want to try again, so it makes grammatical sense? You even put it in another color so I guess it was to be important.

    I think you should tell the truth about things. I hope your readers explore this matter about Jubilee for themselves. You have committed a grave injustice by implying things that just aren’t so.

    Thank you for allowing these comments on your website.

    I again invite you to talk to me off line at my personal email which I gave you. I would love to know who you once knew in CCO, what turned you towards this current view, why you have grown in the way you have. I know you said we met, and I’d love to know when that was. What church do you attend? We have spoken harshly about one another, and I feel that it is proper to rebuke you for these wrong statements. I can’t imagine why you can’t just speak Bible truth, and not make these claims that are undeniably false about people that it seems to me you hardly know and do not understand. Maybe we could talk personally?

  4. Judy:

    I just glanced back over your post. I see that you have, following my little quote saying that CCO isn’t influenced by the liberal social gospel tradition (thanks for that), the big word: HOWEVER.

    That means that you think that Chuck Colson and Gideon Strauss are “social gospel.” My goodness, what an unusual accusation.

    (This portion has been deleted.) You may not like those two men or the way they word things, but the fellas you listed as “social gospel”? Laughable.
    I can’t wait to tell ’em you wrote this, since they have, in fact, been hated and persecuted for being too evangelical and too conservative.

    Do you know what it is like to have friends that have been tortured to death? Gideon (from South Africa) has. Do you know what it is like to get death threats, real ones, because of a strong conservative stance for Jesus? (This portion has been deleted.) You have no idea…

    Weep, sister. You have no idea, do you?

    My goodness, you think these guys are social gospel. They have suffered for Jesus and you dare insult them. I am stunned by how embarassing all this is.

  5. Considering the time of your last comment, I believe fatigue has clouded your judgement. Your comments to Judy are unnessary due to the personal nature and do not add to the discussion. In the future, please focus on the subject of the post verses the illogical ad hominem attacks.

    Any further personal attacks will result in your comments being deleted.

  6. Yvonne,

    What do you mean? (The egg nog was a joke–obviously.) Personal attacks? It is what you specialize in. Are you kidding me? Is this a surreal plot from Kafka or a Monty Python skit? If that isn’t “the pot calling the kettle black” I don’t know what is!

    Is it when I said she has “no clue”? I have tried to dress things up with less casual phrases, but this is obviously the case. To say what she said is so, so far off the mark she clearly doesn’t know the common usage of words, and doesn’t know the history or doctrine of the people she is attacking. To accuse a conservatives who have suffered for their (historic, orthodox) faith, who has had death threats against him, of being a “social gospel” person is personally mean and intellectually ludicrous.

    Something is really haywire out there, and to think that I am attacking you who speak untruth and don’t even have the common courtesy, let alone the Biblical insight, of treating those with whom you disagree with honesty, is a travesty.

    How dare you?

  7. Yvonne,

    I wasn’t being just rhetorical when I asked you to tell me what sentence of mine was out of line.

    Do tell, please. If I have spoken unfairly, I will apologize.

    Perhaps she herself could answer my inquiry: why does she speak untruthfully about others with such brazen disregard?

  8. PS Regarding ad hominem attacks. Again, if I have done this inappropriately, please show where and I will apologize if I am wrong.

    I wrote many, many words arguing what I took to be logical (show me which sentences failed at that, please) about the need for you two ladies to be honest, not making claims that are unsubstantiated. I insist that it is unchristian to speak falsely about things. Seems like a pretty commonly agreed upon ideal, doesn’t it? Fairness and all. Don’t you agree? Do you? I presume you do but it is not evident.

    [Again, I am not asking you to not offer judgments against what you take to be doctrinal error. Go ahead. But you must be honest about what people really believe before you try to correct them; you can only expose errors that are really there, not “sort of ” there or “you think are there” unless that is how you phrase it. It is somewhat like those liberal pundits who said that those who disapproved of Obama’s health care were racists. There was no shred of evidence that they were motivated by racism, but yet the critics of the protesters said it with impunity. Similarly, you insist CCO believes this and that and yet there is not a shred of evidence that they really do believe what you say they do. When the liberal pundits were asked to document their ugly charges, they just said stuff like “it is just there and you can’t see it, which proves it.” Kinda like what you replied to me at another post. So I ask you to document your charges. And in reply you say I’m attacking and illogical.]

    An ad hom attack, by the way, is when one attacks the person instead of their ideas, avoids the facts of the matter and instead judges the person. I don’t think I did that, really.

    You say things that are outlandishly full of error without any regret, or so it seems. (Correct me if I am wrong, please.)

    You say the most ugly things about others, but cry foul when folks ask you to use words correctly and to speak only what you can show to be true or hold up your truly outrageous accusations to be untrue.

    The insult to brother Gideon–who you obviously don’t know, and to Dr. Charles Colson, who is a staunch conservative (and speaks against the emergent crowd and the social gospel agenda) showed a very, very large misunderstanding of who these men are and what they stand for.

    So I said Judy was without a clue on that. And that she should weep for her crass and public flaunting of her ignorance on this. I must tell you–I am not being dramatic–I was shedding tears as I typed. Yes, the hour was late, but your ridiculous charges were so out of line that it broke me and I cried.

    How dare you speak untruths and not even desire to get it right or make it right?

    • Your ugly comments have been deleted. Please keep your comments focused on the subject of the post.

      Acts 17:11

  9. Byron, you say that “Nobody in the CCO is theologically liberal . . . “ Then why does CCO invite theologically liberal speakers to Jubilee and “just possibly” influence college students. How would you defend Chris Seay and Karen Sloan as not theologically liberal? Is Brian McLaren penciled in for next year?

    Your anger betrays you.

  10. Our anger, Judy, is your inability to offer proof for any of your accusations, especially as it pertains to the CCO.

    And, our anger comes from your unwillingness to admit you might just be wrong.

  11. Jonathon,

    Please tell us then, how the theology of Chris Seay and Karen Sloan supports Byron’s defense that “Nobody in the CCO is theologically liberal”.

  12. Judy,
    As you are making the accusations, the responsibility rests on you to make your case. I have yet to see why you think Chris Seay is objectionable other than a few out of context quotes.

    Oh, by the way, to accuse Byron of making ugly comments is just absurd.

    • You asked how having Chris Seay or Karen Sloan as speakers does or doesn’t support my claim that nobody in CCO is liberal. I never said that CCO isn’t willing to listen to or learn from others. You may think that is wrong to do, or unwise, but that is another conversation. Chris S or Karen S do not work for the CCO and it simply doesn’t refute my point.

      I do understand that you can surmise that having controversial speakers can be a sign of confused doctrine. You have said things that I think are outlandish, but I see where you are coming from on this. I trust the people who have invited them, and I suspect they’ve been asked to speak on specific things, in this limited venue. But I always worry about what speakers will say and what books are most helpful, etc.

      But, their being at a CCO function simply doesn’t “prove” anything about the theological foundation of CCO, it only shows they are willing to work with others and have a willingness to host a variety of speakers. The speakers mentioned don’t work for the CCO so they don’t really speak “for” the CCO either. I think that is a fair way to say it–register your concern about what this might suggest, but one mustn’t overstate it as if these folks work for CCO, which they do not. And I don’t know how “liberal” they are—you’re quotes that you cited from them didn’t seem THAT alarming, I’d say, and surely didn’t prove anything conclusive.

    • Jonathon — Quite the contrary;

      James 3:1 (NASB)
      “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.”
      As an ordained Pastor, as a teacher, as a leader in the Church, a leader in CCO, and as a Godly man you bear full responsibility for what you teach, recommend and promote to unbelievers, believers, and your family.

  13. Jonathan,

    The evidence against Chris Seay as been presented on another post, as well. It is perfectly clear that he represents the ’emerging’ side and is ‘liberal’ in his theology. How much more emergent/liberal is his partner in The Voice than Brian McLaren?

    Since you think our quotes have been taken out of context, show us your evidence. Prove that we are wrong! Don’t just say so.

    We are exposing the error of the beliefs and teachings of the men and women who are influencing our youth, while you are busy interviewing ‘godless liberals’ to find ‘common ground’.

    “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14

    Paul commands us in Ephesians 5:11, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” In Acts 17, Paul commends the Bereans as more ‘fair-minded’ because they compared his teaching to Scripture. As we compare these ‘leaders” teaching to Scripture, we find them to be deceptive.

    Judy and I stand on the Firm Foundation of Christ’s Word. Where do you stand, Jonathan?

  14. Yvonne:

    If you could meet a former God-hating student that someone like Jonathan–through their “wise as serpents” strategy of finding good common ground with atheists and being authentic friends—has lead to Jesus, and you found that that convert is truly aware of their sinful state before a Holy God and has, through a CCO worker like Jonathan, come to realize the need to throw themselves on the mercy of Christ, and have received the forgiveness of God and imputation of righteousness that Paul describes (and that Jonathan affirms, by the way) and you felt this person really had been saved and was a “new creature” in Christ—-IF that happened and you thought it was legit, would you then be glad?

    I presume that you would, that you would rejoice if an atheist comes to faith through the helpful, kind, conversational work of somebody like Jonathon, maybe patterned after Paul on Mars Hill (Acts 17).

    There are some folks out there, it seems, who think that if the gospel isn’t preached in the method they use or if it is among a population that is written off, then it must be suspect. I think it is a little ungracious of you to start off with skepticism about John’s faith (asking him where he stands.) Accusing him of being “yolked” to sinners because he befriends and works with them. Have you not ever developed a relationship of a sort with hopes of sharing the gospel? Is that being unequally yolked? That seems a bit unusual of an interpretation of that verse.

    I am not asking if you agree with the CCO or Jubilee, but just this: if J was used by God to see a hard-core sinner repent and believe, would you agree that that is commendable? Would your heart be glad? Jon himself–who does this careful, kindly, honest work of witnessing to un-churched anti-Christians–isn’t “yolked” to them, and isn’t having “fellowship” as per Paul in Ephesians. He is witnessing to them, holding forth as Paul did, using the Word and logic and kindness to exalt the saving power of Jesus.

    I guess it would be nice to see if you can affirm something like that—not a whole endorsement of him or his work or his organization. Just this: if he sees by God’s great grace a sinner repent in a solid manner, would you rejoice with him?

    You deleted a portion of my previous post, I believe, where I wondered out loud (did NOT accuse, just asked) how many people you have ever led to Christ, or something to that effect. It isn’t a nasty question, since the Bible says “by their fruits you shall know them.” If you have been nearby when a sinner repents and is saved, you know the utter joy of that. Some Christians who have great opinions about all kinds of stuff say they have a burden for souls, but yet they really never do much about it. I think it is fair to ask a public writer like yourself about your life. Do you live what you believe? Do you have a burden for mostly critiquing others (a legitimate calling, I agree) or do you also burn with a yearning to see God’s name exalted, even among postmodern atheist students?

    If a sinner comes to faith and affirms the saving mercy of the cross and commits to being a citizen of the Kingdom of God, that shows something good, right? It would make your heart leap to hear such a report, wouldn’t it? We have seen that in Jonathon’s ministry.

    I am glad you stand on the only firm foundation of Christ. I hope your questions glorify Him. Let us all pray that God allows good fruit to come.

    I pray Jonathan has good conversations with these lost souls, and that his genuine friendships with them allows him to be effective in his evangelism. Why is there so precious little affirmation in your letters, nothing to encourage him or at least thank him for trying (even if you have warnings that he might be doing something wrong.) Don’t you at least want to wish him well?

    I hope your work bears fruit. I am confident, however, it will not until you tell the truth about those with whom you disagree and stop this shameful habit of insulting needlessly those who are trying to be faithful and honorable, in Christ, for Christ, and through Christ.

  15. Yvonne,

    If you feel that me or ministry contradicts the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then I invite you to make a complaint to the Midwest presbytery of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church which has oversight of my ordination. The last time I checked, they are the ones with spiritual authority over me and they are the only ones I owe any accounting for my ministry of the Gospel.

    All I have heard you say about Chris Seay is a bunch of quotes that I have no idea what the context might have been. No, I can’t say I do trust you to quote him in context.

    As for this quote, “We are exposing the error of the beliefs and teachings of the men and women who are influencing our youth, while you are busy interviewing ‘godless liberals’ to find ‘common ground’.”

    The last time I checked, my youth were busy spreading the Gospel with atheists rather than being in love with their own self righteousness.

    I applaud your willingess to stand up for scriptural truth. So, how about these?

    Matthew 9:9-13
    Matthew 11:18-19

    And a parable I suggest you read very carefully

    Luke 15:11-32.

    • Am I to understand that by referencing the passages of Scripture in Matthew that this is your justification for your ministry with atheists and skeptics? If so, I see the point you are trying to make.

      While, there is no doubt that these passages speak of Jesus eating with sinners, some of which became His Apostles, it is quite a stretch, however, to extrapolate that this justifies standing arm-in-arm with unbelievers in ‘service projects’. It’s one thing to share the Gospel with atheists and skeptics; but quite another working with them in an attempt to fix society’s ills.

      If your presbytery supports this type of ‘ministry’ then so be it. Your final accountability is not to man, as I’m sure you are aware.

      Again, I’ll remind you of God’s command in 2 Corinthians 6:14, which clearly states ‘Do not be unequally yoked…’. This passage implies separation, not from evil in this world, but from compromise with unbelievers in this world.

      Do you honestly believe that by working with unbelievers in any ‘social’ project is what God intends pastors to do?

      I am truly interested in your response.

  16. Yvonne,
    I think we are miles a part in the conversation and I don’t really see the point in trying to continue it.


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