A Fair (and Fun!) Fight

Hey all, sorry I have been scarce.  It’s been hectic finishing up the semester at ACU and transitioning to two worship services at WG.  Thanks for your patience as I dropped off the face of the blogosphere.

This morning I had a great time that really encouraged me in Christ that I thought I would share.  If you’ve had much exposure to the Lordship Salvation controversy you are well aware that it can be a contentious and nasty argument at times.  When it is pursued as a means of telling who is “in” and who is “out,” it is never fun.

Today, though, I had a very different experience.  I had three friends come over to my office to discuss this issue.  One is a pastor and seminarian, one graduates from seminary in a few weeks, and the third is studying the Bible at ACU.  So the table had some people with a background in the text.  More than that, everyone had a position on the topic that they came to the table with!

The cool thing, for me, was that at the end of the day I left energized.  Now, for some it may have not been that way, but in the midst of the discussion we tried to be thoughtful and polite.  We tried not to set the other side up as a caricature but to really consider what they were saying.  We went through the case of Judas, and 1 John 3:6-10, and James 2:21-24, and 2 Timothy 2:11-13.  We considered what each text said and how each side understood it.  We looked at the Greek text when appropriate and did some impromptu word studies (thank you, Logos!).

At the end of the day, we realized that despite some differences we had a lot more in common than we originally thought.  And more than that, we realized that there is a big difference between being an “evangelical” and being a “fundamentalist,” which I would define as a Christian who believes that anyone who deviates from their doctrinal conviction in non-essential areas (inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, full humanity and full deity of Jesus, Trinity, and salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone) is a heretic and headed to hell.  Thankfully we had no fundamentalists in the room, only evangelicals!

The discussion was spirited but cordial; it was passionate but grounded in John 13:35.  And that really encouraged me, because it showed me again that we can have unity in diversity within the bounds of historic, orthodox Christianity.  Yay!

So today I am encouraged by my brothers and sisters in Christ who don’t shrink from a good “argument” and do it with class.  So much thanks to Drew, Sean, and Kristin for a fun morning, and let’s do it again.

How about you?  When we get together next, are you in?  Can you handle the requirements?  Do you do this, or do you run from these discussions?

FGA Conference, Day 2: Blessings and Responsibilities

It was another great day today at the FGA conference.  The plenary speakers were really good, and I am looking forward to getting to hear the other breakout session speakers on MP3 later in the week!  It was a day of blessing for me as well.

I got out for a run this morning, and it was interesting!  Dallas is cool in the mornings right now, and I got to run a path I have never run through some fields that I couldn’t really tell what kind of footing I had in.  Rather than fret that it wasn’t my preference I decided to enjoy the experience, so I had a great time.  It was a harbinger for the day, as things weren’t 100% as expected but that was good anyway.

Our plenary speaker in the morning was Dr. Jody Dillow, who impacted me mightily through his book Reign of the Servant Kings.  Dr. Dillow shared on Matthew 7 and on “entering the kingdom of God” from a very interesting viewpoint that has sent me off looking for some cultural context on “entering” that might prove fruitful.  The sessions were interesting to say the least; when they are available online I will post them!  I got to go to lunch with Dr. Dillow and my good friends Keith and Lori, which was a really good time of fellowship.  It’s fun to meet your theological heroes and realize that they are real people, and especially fun when you see a devotional heart and great humility in Christ.

I got to lead a breakout session today which was awesome.  Within the theme of “getting the gospel out” I was asked to teach of Preaching and teaching the free grace of God.  So I titled my message “Don’t Church it Up!”  I was very blessed to have about 20-22 people attend my session; I think it went very well.  We had fun talking about keeping it simple in presenting the gospel of Christ, centered around Paul’s admonition in 1 Cor 2:1-5.  The audio file will be available soon.

We went from there to our annual business meeting.  I HATE meetings; they are “where minutes are kept and hours are wasted.”  There were some procedural things that needed to be done, but after that I was very touched that Dr. Fred Chay put forth my name to serve on the board of trustees (they call it an executive council) for FGA.  Along with four other good men I was approved by the membership, and so for the next two years I will be a board member.  This was a great honor and I am blessed to be able to serve God by helping people see the truly free offer of eternal life in Christ.

The evening was really great as well.  We had our banquet, and the banquet speaker was none other than Dr. Charles Ryrie!  I use Dr. Ryrie’s Basic Theology in my Systematic Theology classes at SWC, so it was great to meet him.  He is a humble man to be sure, and a great thinker and writer.

So all in all today was great.  I was very honored to get to speak to friends and colleagues in my breakout session, and even more humbled to be asked to serve on the board.  I got to spend some great time getting to know some amazing theologians and writers as well, and that time of fellowship was very precious to me!  I am being filled with the grace of God as I listen to the speakers and challenged in my theology, which is always a good thing.  And I am having godly fun with friends, which is like the cherry on top of the sundae!

I used to disdain conferences because of their “rah rah” nature, but now I see that doesn’t have to be the case.  If they are run correctly and the content is really solid, they can be a very useful tool and a helpful time of growth and refreshment.  I am ready to get home to Phoenix and help people see the grace of God more clearly!