Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Lesser Offense of Those Barely Saved

I was sitting in my disheveled office, if it can be called that in the corner of our "community room" or den, listening to several releases by Matt Redman and The Passion Worship band in the midst of this Passion Weekend. Browsing through several sites this afternoon, I came across a piece posted on James Swan's blog at Beggars All. I did not see a place for posting comments so I thought it appropriate to respond here. The title of his posting was "Semi-Pelagianism 101 – Arminians Are Christians? Yes, Barely!" and it was an excerpt from R.C. Sproul's book Willing To Believe that Mr. Swan apparently spent time in Sunday School discussing. It was this Sunday School study that grabbed my attention this weekend of all weeks in the year. Now many in the Body of Christ have become accustomed to zealots on the fringes attacking us with abandon however what many Christians do not realize is that many of these attacks emanate from within "orthodoxy", from within what should be the ecumenical church. In the mind of many of these "moderate" Calvinists, most of Christ's Body is "barely saved", to use Sproul's phrase and Swan's echo. Quite recently, it was John Piper leading the charge of anathemas against the elders and pastors of most of Christ with a posting on his site that caused quite a stir on several blogs (see my related thread on Rather than these attacks and gross misrepresentations being carried out by fringe groups on the outer edges of Christendom, we, the Body of Christ, are being attacked from a cancer within. Yes, we are barely saved, Mr. Swan and Mr. Sproul. We are scarcely saved as the Apostle Peter phrased it and knowingly stand ready for the falsehoods spoken of us, the innuendo fashioned against us and the musings of those who study the techniques of carnal religion employed against the Body of Christ. Certainly the lover of Christ should be engaged in the study of the LORD's Word, especially so when gathered in fellowship for study and preaching. Speaking falsehoods and generating avarice toward His Body is not a function of fellowship and study of the scriptures. It is instead a display of religious zealotry with one purpose: to throw seeds of schism and dissention. In a word it is anti-orthodox if not outright enmity towards the ecumenical church of Jesus Christ.

Christians would do well to recognize this cancer in its midst and respond appropriately. Our families and friends need to be aware of this enmity against them for it seeks to make inroads into our churches and our Christian outlook. Given we are indeed barely saved even though a haughty and arrogant mind would view this as an inferior position, it is a far lesser offense if any offense at all to be considered as such. It is our expectation to be the recipient of offenses rather than being the offense as intended by Sproul and Swan. Perhaps the words of Peter are best for a close and I will leave the dry bones exegesis for the brothers Sproul and Swan.

"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy [are ye]; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or [as] a thief, or [as] an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. Yet if [any man suffer] as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time [is come] that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if [it] first [begin] at us, what shall the end [be] of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls [to him] in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator." (1Pe 4:12-19 AV)