Without question, one of the most disturbing trends in the world of theology is that, far too often, grace is eclipsed by theological legalism.

Twice today I encountered this in its most blatant forms by two very different types of people. Both were very passionate about theology and both, undoubtedly, believe that their attitude toward me or my teaching is justified and honoring to the Lord. However, I believe both of these men sacrificed the major issue – grace – in defense of minor issues in theology.

The first, whose name I will not share as he is undoubtedly well-known to most of you, caught me very much off guard (and it is not really easy to catch me off guard, as I receive dozens of “hate” emails every day from those who believe it is their job to put me back on the path of theological correctness). This man, a significant figure in the world of reformation theology, does not believe I take theology seriously enough. Of course, his reasons come (I imagine) from the fact that I don’t agree with him. And obviously, if I took theology seriously, I would agree with him! Ironically, this lack of grace often comes from those who believe most strongly in the reformed “doctrines of grace.” But this man sent me one of the most ungracious emails I have ever received. And, yes, it did hurt my feelings. But more than that, sensing that this man’s criticism of me comes from his general disdain for the “heresy” of Evangelical Calvinism – it discouraged me that someone who believes he is so right theologically could be so graceless personally.

The second came from a Fundamentalist who was quite disturbed that I would suggest that Catholics could be saved. To be fair, I remember in the mid-nineties when Billy Graham suggested the same on national television. I was so angry and confused. I could not believe that Billy Graham would be so theologically inept as to make such a suggestion. In order for me to retain the belief that Billy Graham was saved, I had to convince myself that he had just gone senile in his old age. But this came from someone who has been a believer for quite some time and is a leader in his local church. This one statement (“Catholics can be saved”) has served to disqualify me and all of my teachings. To him, I will forever be one of the many who has compromised my faith for the glory of acceptance among men.

Theological legalism is nothing new (and is certainly not limited to the world of theology). Think of the Pharisees who, according to Christ, strained out gnats and swallowed camels (Matt. 23:24). To the theological legalist, there is no such thing as a gnat. Christ spoke of the weightier things of the Law (Matt. 23:23). To the doctrinal legalist, all issues are equally weighty. Paul spoke of things of “first importance” (1 Cor. 15:3); to those who are theological Pharisees, everything is of first importance. There is rarely, if ever, a second.

I find this very typical of those who call themselves “true” Calvinists. You will sometimes be given more grace by these if you don’t claim to be a Calvinist. But if you claim to be so, you are never Calvinistic enough. They live to nit-pick all the minor details they believe you get wrong about reformed theology. Nothing makes them angrier than so-called “Evangelical Calvinists” (such as me). I also find this among those egalitarians who wear bitterness on their sleeves, believing everyone who opposes them is doing so in order to oppress. I see this among Christian evolutionists who attempt to belittle anyone who opposes their position (some even calling creationists “cultic”). This theological fundamentalism elevates doctrine above the mandates that the doctrine necessitates. Right belief becomes their primary call to righteousness.

And let me not forget Roman Catholics. The system itself demands acceptance of everything the Church has ever dogmatized, from the resurrection of Christ to the assumption of Mary. The Catholic Catechism – to which all Roman Catholics must submit – is almost as long as the Bible itself. And I rarely meet a gracious Eastern Orthodox. Though they disdain Catechisms, they seem to have an unspoken canon which produces an incredible arrogance. And then there are the Baptists . . . oh, where to begin?!

Of course, there are many exceptions to all of these and I don’t mean to indict any without qualification. There are some shining examples of grace, wisdom, and humility in all of these traditions. I think of my Eastern Orthodox friend Bradley Nassif. I think of Irene, our Roman Catholic commentator. I think of Thomas Schreiner, an incredibly humble Baptist scholar and pastor. And, as you have noticed, I placed my own Calvinistic tradition on the stand. But the sad truth is that very often, the deeper one gets into theological passions, the more corrupt our ability to treat others with grace and humility becomes.

Here are some ways to know if you are a theological legalist:

  1. You don’t think there are “minor theological issues”
  2. You always define yourself with the word “true” in front of it (e.g., “I am a ‘true’ Calvinist,” “I am a ‘true’ Baptist,” or “I am a ‘true’ Christian”).
  3. Your statement of faith or catechism is so detailed that no one but your particular tradition can sign it.
  4. Your passions focus on the small issues and this finds expression in your personality.
  5. Most of your theological writing and/or discussion focuses on where other Christians have gone wrong.
  6. You have a bulldog mentality with regard to your “pet” issues; you cannot let things go emotionally. You have to leave the room.
  7. When one disagrees with you they are forever defined by that disagreement (“There goes Joe the Arminian,” or “I would like to introduce you to Katie the Complementarian.”
  8. You think belief is either black or white, you either have it or you don’t; there is no in-between and certainly no room for doubt.
  9. You think all those outside of your tradition are either going to hell or are less spiritual than you are (i.e., all Catholics are going to hell, all Protestants are going to hell, all those who suggest otherwise are going to hell, etc.)
  10. There are only three reasons why people disagree with you: 1) they don’t have enough or the right knowledge, 2) they have compromised, and/or 3) they are justifying in some sin.
  11. No one outside of your tradition wants to talk theology with you (and you take it as a badge of honor).
  12. When you write about other Christians, you continually find yourself putting the word “Christian” in quotes.
  13. Your statement of faith is so qualified no one can understand it.
  14. You are always shutting conversation down by accusations of logical fallacies ad absurdum.

Of course we all have these problems from time to time. And I am not saying the word “Christian” should not be placed in quotes for some people. But if you find yourself identifying with many items on this list too often, you may have the problem of doctrinal legalism which, in my opinion, is the most dangerous trap out there for those of us who love theology. I have been there and still wrestle with my own theological legalism. But this is something we all need to repent of, and teach our students and children about its dangers.

If you love theology, please be the first to put on the attitude of humility. When someone speaks about you in this regard, don’t have your goal to be for others to think you are smart or right, but rather humble and meek. When others talk about your personality with regard to theological discourse, would they say you are arrogant and legalistic, or gracious and gentle? This does not mean we sacrifice our passions or beliefs, it just means we temper ourselves for the sake of the Gospel. The truth is too important for us to lose our witness due to theological legalism.

Titus 3:2
[Instruct them] to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.

Phi 4:5
Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.

2 Tim 2:25-26
With gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

 

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C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    204 replies to "Fourteen Characteristics of Theological Legalism"

    • Eugene

      Thanks for the helpful reminders!

      And thanks for writing all that you do. I have to make a concerted effort to avoid regularly visiting your blog so as not to stay up all night reading (almost) everything you’ve written 🙂

      Very interesting. Very helpful. To God be the glory.

      ps. i’m from okc (yukon), but serve in western China

    • Susan

      Michael, did you mean to add “Legalism” as the last word of your title by any chance?

      Good post. Sorry you’ve been knocked around by legalistic bullies. There are good cautions there for all of us.

    • Susan

      You beat me to it!
      Never mind 🙂

    • Wolf Paul

      Thanks for a great article, Michael (and thanks for the one about “sufficient for the day is the evil thereof” a couple of days ago).

      In my experience, “evangelical Catholics” tend to be fairly gracious about doctrinal differences — and from all I have heard this extends to the current pope. The reality is, if you are a “cradle Catholic”, nobody ever asks whether you agree with everything in the Catechism, and evangelical Catholics would have more problems with liberal Catholics who dissent on such things as the sanctity of life than with evangelical Protestants who don’t pray to Mary.

    • Bob Anderson

      You mean there is “a significant theologian in the world of reformation theology”?

      Ok. Sorry, bad joke, but one I could not resist. I will probably pay dearly for that one some time in another discussion.

      Most of the reformers I read are Biblical scholars and are not overly concerned with formal, historical theologies. It is a breath of fresh air to hear someone who disagrees with me say, “here is how I would interpret the text, but it also could be interpreted otherwise.” Leander Keck noted in his commentary to Romans that all interpretation is tentative.

      As for who is saved and who is not, I am always amazed at how many people believe that they are the eschatological judge at the end of time. I once told my church study group that the last person they would want to be their judge was me. It is way beyond either my wisdom or my pay grade. I leave it up to God to make those decisions, not me.

      Perhaps it comes with age, but I think we evolve theologically as time goes by, either hardening to defend a position or softening to seek understanding. Growing up evangelical, I think I followed a similar path to CMP, not knowing why Billy Graham was sending Catholics back to their churches. But then I studied at a Catholic seminary under mostly protestant teachers (some Reformed). I saw people different than me confessing the same Lord. I saw people of different faiths and different religions able to say, “I disagree, but I understand.” I also saw that some people from other traditions were way smarter theologically than I was.

      We all should believe passionately in our Lord and Savior. But after a lifetime of study, I have come to the place where “knowing” now gives me understanding of how little I really know. It is the Savior we serve, not the theology.

      The goal of theology should be to learn to hear and understand. If we cannot hear, how can the Spirit teach?

      Thanks, Michael, for a good article.

    • R David

      “You are always shutting conversation down by accusations of logical fallacies ad absurdum.”

      Certainly you have not seen that recently ;^)

    • David Bishop

      Mr. Patton, is it really unreasonable to expect even the newest Christian convert to have a basic Biblical understanding of an accomplished redemption? After all, when I explain the gospel to someone, shouldn’t I be explaining to them what an accomplished redemption is and what it means? Isn’t an accomplished redemption the very heart of the gospel message itself?

      You see, that is the problem. You don’t believe an accomplished redemption is the heart of the gospel at all. Rather, you think it’s icing on the cake doctrine, a secondary issue better left in the back room buried beneath issues you find more relevant; like abortion, taxes, and the nation’s moral center.

      The Scriptures define the gospel as the revelation of God’s righteousness (Rom 1:16-17). The Scriptures also define this revelation as being by faith in the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood for the redemption of His people whom He justifies by His grace as a gift in order to show His righteousness apart from the Law) (Rom 3:21-26). To summarize, the gospel is the revelation of God’s righteousness revealed by faith in the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

      Two questions loom before us in the face of this definition. First, are there other redemptions to be found besides the one that is in Christ? And second, what is the redemption that is in Christ Jesus?

      These are questions you don’t want answered, Mr. Patton. And you don’t want them answered, because you have already decided to make do with a “possible” redemption that is found in a Jesus who is Jesus-not-Vishnu-Buddha-or-any-other-god. Congratulations on the Jesus who isn’t any other god, Mr. Patton, but you’ve still got a false redemption.

      • C Michael Patton

        David,

        I don’t know what you are talking about. I do believe in particular redemption. But, having said that, I don’t think it is an issue of first importance.

    • Wolf Paul

      @Greg (Tiribulus): perhaps you could point out the most important point I missed per e-mail: [email protected]. Would appreciate it.

    • Joli

      I enjoy reading your articles. The way I found out about them was from somebody criticizing your theology on Facebook. If they had never done that, I would never have found out about this site. Haha. Thanks for this.

    • jin

      Two verses that everybody should keep in their hearts.

      8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. Colossians 2:8

      8 He has shown you, O man, what is good;
      And what does the Lord require of you
      But to do justly,
      To love mercy,
      And to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

    • Nathan

      Another verse to supplement:

      I Peter 3:15 – but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with GENTLENESS and RESPECT

    • David Bishop

      I know you don’t find particular atonement to be an issue of first importance, Mr. Patton. That is why I said you don’t. That is also why I said you have decided to make do with a “possible redemption” that is in Jesus-and-not-Vishnu. Sincerity is your righteousness, Mr. Patton, not Christ. Allow me to be blunt. You are a legalist, sir, masquerading as a grace teacher. You are an Arminian pretending to be a Calvinist.

    • Yolanda

      Well said! How can we love our enemies when we don’t even love each other? So many of these non-essential squabbles don’t change our job description at all. Get out there and spread the Gospel!

    • DragonLady

      I thought this was a great post! I also think it stings me a little (or maybe a lot). 🙂

    • Tom

      I suspect that I know who the “significant theologian in the world of reformation theology” you refer to is, and I’m guessing that many of your other readers do, too. Unfortunately, as one who admires both your work and his, I am unable to evaluate the situation because of the lack of detail that you have presented. I’m not saying you should tell us more detail, but what you are saying does not especially comport with my experience of hearing the man in question speak in the past (assuming that I am correct in my identification of him). Unless you are prepared to lay the issue out in full, this might have been better left unmentioned, since it now stands as a slur against his character that cannot be confirmed or denied by your readers. Saying only what you have said leaves a cloud hanging over his head that there is really no way to dispel.

      With regard to the matter of Catholics being saved, I think there is a difference between saying that Catholics cannot be saved and saying that the Roman system does not lead to salvation. Can Catholics be saved? Of course they can. So can Buddhists, Muslims, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. They can be saved by turning to the Christ of Scripture. Which will mean that they are no longer Buddhists, Muslims, Mormons, JWs or Roman Catholics in any meaningful sense. The RC system is a system in which salvation is based (at least partially) on works, and such a system does not result in salvation. Catholics can be saved, yes, but any who are saved are saved in spite of RC teaching, not because of it. It’s not a question of which organization’s membership roll our name is on, but rather on whom we rely for salvation. Is salvation of Christ alone, or is it partly based on our own works? So the answer to the question, “Can Catholics be saved?” really depends on what is meant by the question. I can’t speak for your Fundamentalist correspondent or Billy Graham, but might you have been talking past each other on this?

    • Kenneth R Fountain

      It’s quite importnt that all of us Christians be bottom up thinkers. When we foist our ideas about what we know on other believers we put ourselve in the position of “top down” thinkers. Hawking and Krauss are two self proclaimed type. Better to be like John Polkinghorne, a “bottom up” thinker. Top down contains the hubris that, although endowed ith only a 4% sample of the universe they proclaim conclusions that require complete knowledge. Who cn write on Dark matter but God himself?

    • Gaby LeBlanc

      How does subscribing to a detailed Catechism automatically make one a legalist? What if that Catechism itself asserts exactly what the inspired writers asserted: that grace must take precedent over petty doctrinal disputes? The Catechism is extremely useful for by-passing legalism: instead of getting dragged into petty arguments about minute points of theology, you just point to the relevant chapter and get on with your life of grace!

    • Rocky G

      I reckon by FAR the clearest indications of legalism are:

      1) pride

      2) shame

      Both are ungodly and result from a ‘works-based’ righteousness… 🙂

      Blessings 🙂

    • Wolf Paul

      David Bishop, you need to learn principles of civilized discourse.

      One of these is to let everyone state their own motivation and thoughts, and comment on what they say/write rather than on what and why they think.

      Instead you pronounce on what Michael thinks (how do you know?) and why he thinks it (again, how do you know?)

      This comes across as arrogant.

    • David Bishop

      Wolf Paul, I bet Lois Lerner agrees with you.

    • Wolf Paul

      No idea what Lois Lerner has to do with this discussion or principles of civilized discourse.

    • David Bishop

      She doesn’t think words reveal a person’s motivations either.

      But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. – Matthew 15:18

    • David Bishop

      My original comment:

      Mr. Patton, is it really unreasonable to expect even the newest Christian convert to have a basic Biblical understanding of an accomplished redemption? After all, when I explain the gospel to someone, shouldn’t I be explaining to them what an accomplished redemption is and what it means? Isn’t an accomplished redemption the very heart of the gospel message itself?

      You see, that is the problem. You don’t believe an accomplished redemption is the heart of the gospel at all. Rather, you think it’s icing on the cake doctrine, a secondary issue better left in the back room buried beneath issues you find more relevant; like abortion, taxes, and the nation’s moral center.

      Mr. Patton’s response:
      David, I don’t know what you are talking about. I do believe in particular redemption. But, having said that, I don’t think it is an issue of first importance.

      See that, Wolf? I was correct.

    • C Michael Patton

      Tom, it is not John Mac.

    • C Michael Patton

      This guy would have come down on John Mac, and prob for the same reasons.

    • David Bishop

      The clearest indication of a works based righteousness is doctrine that fosters a works based righteousness. What does such doctrine sound like? Like this — particular redemption is not an issue of first importance, for a person who believes Christ died for everyone to make redemption possible can still have at least secured his redemption by utilizing his almighty, God-like power of sincerity to believe Jesus is the real true God rather than Buddha.

    • Dave Z

      Michael, if I didn’t trust your integrity, I’d wonder if you were setting up some of these comments to prove your point. 🙂

    • Art

      David,
      Question: Must one hold to the doctrine of particular redemption in order to be saved?

    • Matt Morrison

      This is a great reminder! We must not make theology an idol. I actually wrote something similar on this subject earlier this week – http://www.mattmorrison.org/the-idol-of-theology/

    • David Bishop

      One will hold as being the gospel the most basic, Biblical definition of particular redemption if they have been saved.

      That means that if you think you’re saved because someone told you that if you repent of your sins and confess Jesus as your Lord and Savior then you’ll be saved, then you’ve been duped, my friend. Someone has told you a lie.

    • David Bishop

      I explain the gospel as follows:

      The Scriptures define the gospel as the revelation of God’s righteousness (Rom 1:16-17). The Scriptures also define this revelation as being by faith in the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood for the redemption of His people whom He justifies by His grace as a gift in order to show His righteousness apart from the Law) (Rom 3:21-26). Now, this is what redemption means . . . And this is what propitiation means . . . Here is who He redeemed, here is why He redeemed, and here is how He redeemed . . . Now, God commands you to believe what I’ve just told you is true. Any questions?

    • David Bishop

      Christ died to redeem a chosen few. His death was an act of perfect obedience. In so dying for His chosen few, He accomplished what no goat, no bull, no dove or lamb had ever done or could ever do – fully satisfy God’s wrath on behalf of His chosen few, thereby atoning for their guilt. His death did NOT make redemption possible. Rather, His death actually redeemed His people. His death is why His people are brought to faith. His death is why His people are made willing. His death is why not one of His people shall be lost.

      Into this contrast between accomplished and possible steps the Tolerant Calvinist, who insists that, although the message of accomplished redemption is true, nevertheless, some of the redeemed are brought to faith by an inconsistent or deficient belief in a message of a possible redemption. This introduces a fatal flaw into the system, for it presumes an accuracy in inaccuracy, meaning that it turns lies into truth.

      If Christ’s death is the sole cause of a person’s redemption, and not everyone is redeemed, then naturally, Christ’s death cannot have been intended for everyone. Christ must have died only for those He intended to redeem. His death is why they have been redeemed.

      Suppose, however, I am convinced that 2 = 9. Could you assume of me that I also believe 2 + 2 = 4 simply because I tell you that 9 + 9 = 18? No, because no matter how correct I might be about the fact that 9 + 9 = 18, 9 + 9 is still not the same thing as 2 + 2. The Tolerant Calvinist presumes that I believe 2 + 2 = 4 rather than 2 + 2 = 18 simply because I believe 9 + 9 = 18. He disregards the fact that I believe 2 = 9.

      The Arminian believes his possible redemption is found “only in Christ” rather than in Buddha or any other false god. The Arminian is correct to say redemption is found only in Christ. But redemption found only in Christ does not equal an accomplished redemption found only in Christ. 2 is not 9. Works are not grace.

    • There comes a point when all the nit picking really does nothing to edify or uplift the Body of Christ, rather is detrimental to very simple message that Jesus Christ came to convey. I wish I were so sure of my theological position as David Bishop, and so willing to stress my view to the point of without saying it outright, condemn another Christian as a heretic. What Tom said in his second paragraph leaves open the possibility of grace to work on the heart of a believer. How can any of us know the true heart of a believer? I certainly have no idea what is in the heart of my brethren, but I do know the fruit of his works, it becomes self evident.

      We can throw out Scripture verses all day long to support our various positions, yet by what measure of faith does final judgment befall all of us who confess Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior before men? By whose righteousness does qualify us to stand before Him with boldness and assuredness of pardon? At the end of this age, will all of this really matter to those who are in Christ? Brethren, none of us are frankly that sure of our theology and if you think that you are, you are in danger of being a legalist. Where is the love of God in Christ in all of that? Remember the parable of the wheat and the tares? Not all will be saved, and we are not judge and jury of God’s ontology. We are the clay, God is the potter. Be humble and gentle of heart, remember that the Kingdom of God is at hand. Be prepared.

    • David Bishop

      A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation — “Traditional Southern Baptist soteriology is grounded in the conviction that every person can and must be saved by a personal and free decision to respond to the Gospel by trusting in Christ Jesus alone as Savior and Lord.”

      Notice that. Saved not by the atoning death of Christ. Saved not by sacrifice of the Lamb. But rather, saved by a personal and free decision to respond. Well congratulations, mighty me. I think I’ll build an altar to myself.

      And you guys think adding sincerity to the response in some way turns “I saved myself” into “Jesus saved me”?

      I’ve no doubt you guys are sincere. So is Satan. When he lies, he sincerely speaks from his nature. You’re sincere? I say, so what? Your sincerity is just as sinful as the rest of you.

    • Lora

      Legalistic bullies……great term!

      Any “teacher of theology” who uses fallacy of Ad Hominem instead of dealing honestly with the topic of Adam in Romans 5 is likewise guilty of being a legalistic bully.

      Projection…..hmmmm, isn’t that the same thing that Jesus pointed out with the Pharisees?

    • Tom

      Michael, no, John Mac is not who I was thinking of. But regardless of who the person is, it seems to me that what you have done here is to throw up a cloud of suspicion that can’t be evaluated by your readers. Was this person truly out of line, or did you misinterpret what he said, or perhaps were you offended by his disagreement rather than his manner? We have no way of knowing and are left with doubts about our brother.

    • […] I truly understand everything I’ve learned. I read a really good article today titled ‘Fourteen Characteristics of Theological Legalism.‘ Michael Patton, a professor at Dallas Seminary […]

    • Kraig

      David,
      You seem interested in particular redemption.
      I’m curious: Do you think Christ’s propitiation is particular in value and therefore particular in application to the elect? Or do you think Christ’s propitiation is immeasurable or infinite in value but particular in application to the elect?
      Would Christ’s propitiatory experience had been any different if God had elected 1 more or 1 less person?
      Did Christ suffer a designated amount for each particular sin for each elect person, so that there is a quantifiable relation of Christ’s suffering to individual sins that were or ever would be committed by the elect? If yes, is God just to punish Christ in a measurable way for specific sins not yet committed (even though God knows they would be committed)? (See movie Minority Report)
      Did Christ suffer for X amount of sins and bear X amount of wrath that corresponds to those X sins?
      If Christ propitiated a particular, defined, and/or limited value, of what measurement is that value? How would different measurements of that value be distinguished experientially for Christ when he suffered and died?
      If Christ specifically propitiatiated sins of specific people and did not propitiate sins of other people, so that in a measurable way he paid the penalty for the sins of the elect, would not the elect be justified at the time of the sacrifice? Can I be born by nature a child of wrath if Christ already took on God’s wrath in a measurable way for my sins specifically?

      What do you think of people who base the particularness of Christ’s redemption in its application and not in any sort of measurable and limited propitiatory value of Christ’s death? Would theological legalism result from the belief that Christ, as Great High Priest, applies his immeasurable sacrifice to the elect alone?

      What do you think is limited? The propitiation? The application? Or both?

    • Matt H

      As a man with Calvinistic leanings, I do think that it’s interesting that from a theological view there is belief in pre-destination and salvation being a work of God alone, yet many people who have this belief seem to be quick to judge other people’s state of salvation.

      It is important to seek the truth that is written in the bible, & to apply it in our lives. Certainly there is also responsibility to share and educate from the truth that can be discovered in the bible.

      I do not hold that any particular theological view should be used as divining rod whereby one can judge the state of another whom God may or may not have called to be part of his kingdom.

    • Jin

      David Bishop, God always works hand in hand with us. It is the relationship that He seeks from us. Yes, it is the atoning death of Christ that saves us, but it would be worth nothing if no one accepted it or cared for it. Our personal and individual acknowledgement of its redeeming act is what saves us. This is the beauty of God’s love for us. Jesus gave His life for us free of charge. All we have to do is accept it.

      Having said that, accepting His death for us is different than just believing in it. You can merely believe in it, but may not accept it. Satan believes in God and that Jesus died for our sins too. However, Satan does not accept it and does not care for it. We, on the other hand, believe it AND accept it resulting in rebirth and change in our life and lifestyle.

    • Jugulum

      David Bishop,

      “Mr. Patton, is it really unreasonable to expect even the newest Christian convert to have a basic Biblical understanding of an accomplished redemption?”

      You asked CMP that question, not me, but I’ll try answering: That depends on what level of understanding you’re talking about.

      If you’re saying that even the newest Christian converts should understand more than “Because of what Jesus did in his death & resurrection, those who believe will be saved”, then yes, based on my read of how much detail we can see the apostles going into in Acts, I would call that unreasonable.

      But if “Because of what Jesus did in his death & resurrection, those who believe will be saved” does describe the “basic Biblical understanding” you’re talking about, then you and I are on the same page.

      And I’m pretty sure CMP wouldn’t disagree.

    • T

      Great post, Michael. It’s funny; not often being in reformed circles, including this blog, very often, I read this post and really didn’t expect such powerful examples to pop up in the comments, at least not to this post! Wow. If this is the world you live within, I very seriously empathize. No one should have to deal with this kind of thing this often.

      David Bishop, to me the crux of your argument lies in this statement: “The Scriptures define the gospel as . . .” and you then refer to Romans 1:16-17. But what about all the other scriptural references to the gospel in which it is defined or phrased differently, often very differently? If I paraphrase or even quote some other portion of the NT’s gospel summaries or descriptions, have I lied to my hearers? If not, and they are saved through that gospel that doesn’t even include the parts you see as central, does that give us any conclusions we can make? And further still, even the one quote from Romans doesn’t say all you’ve inferred. I hope you can hear some of what Michael has written here, or what others like him have said to you in this vein. The gospel is not a formula. It is news, about Jesus. The gospel according to Mark (or Matthew, or Luke, or John) is the gospel, for instance, and a long version at that, and it doesn’t emphasize the issues your emphasizing at all. Does it matter that our “gospel” writers themselves don’t really emphasize, at all, what you think is central?

    • I agree with Tom’s # 39! What’s the real point? Indeed there is theological legalism in all Christian groups, and certainly with Calvinists and the Reformed! And I am a neo-Calvinist and Reformed myself! Sadly its the nature of our sinful self!

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      “Tom, it is not John Mac.”

      Rachel Held Evans? Rob Bell? Brian McLaren? Jim Wallis?

      😉

    • Art

      Legalism is when you attempt to add something to what Christ has done in order to be saved. I highly doubt the thief on the cross had his ducks in a row when it comes to particular redemption. He was saved by His faith alone in Christ that day.

      Knowledge and assent to this doctrine saves no one. The work of Christ saves the elect. If I am dead on the street, I do not have to have knowledge of, or assent to CPR for it to be wholly and particularly effective.

    • Phil James

      Peter Leithart on Charles Hodge and the Church:

      ‘When the Presbyterian General Assembly determined that Catholic baptism was not valid, Charles Hodge was “overwhelmed.” He was sure it was an anomaly, and that most Presbyterians would not believe that Catholics “lived and died unbaptized,” since such a position was “in opposition to all previous practice, and to the principles of every other Protestant church.”

      He was wrong. As Paul Gutjahr notes in his Charles Hodge: Guardian of American Orthodoxy (236-9), Hodge’s argument for the validity of Catholic baptism was “tremendously unpopular” among Presbyterians. Hodge claimed that the Catholic church was “corrupted and overlaid by false and soul-destroying abuses and errors,” but that it was still a body of believers and Catholics were members of the visible church. Catholic baptism was done with the “intention of complying with the command of Christ,” and thus should be accepted as Christian baptism.

      He worried too that Presbyterian sectarianism would “unchurch almost the whole Christian world; and Presbyterians, instead of being the most catholic of churches, and admitting the being of a church, wherever we see the fruits of the Spirit, would become one of the narrowest and most bigoted of sects.”

    • @Truth: Sadly those four you quote, are simply biblically & theologically erroneous or wrong! Not a personal attack at all, but certainly a simple biblical and theological approximation, at least from the general position of the Reformed Divinity!

    • Pete again

      CMP,

      I don’t remember any time when someone from the Eastern church posted or acted in a way that you describe in your “14 bullet points”. Is there one in particular that you remember? Or were you just including us so that we wouldn’t be felt left out? 🙂

      “Though (E.O.’s) they disdain Catechisms, they seem to have an unspoken canon which produces an incredible arrogance.”

      Um…we’ve got a catechism my man. It’s called Holy Tradition:

      http://www.antiochian.org/discover

      I don’t know about “arrogance”. When you’ve existed since Pentecost, and have carried forward the deposit of the faith “once delivered to the saints”, I think “secure” is a better adjective.

      I think this is mostly about your hurt pride because “Mr. Mystery Calvinist Man” dissed you.

    • Jeremy

      Isn’t it notable that Hymenaeus and Philetus made a theological error yet Peter didn’t defend them with doctrinal tolerance, but rather denounced them (by name) saying that they overthrew the faith of some?

      And it strikes me that, in the midst of that controversy, Paul says NEVERTHELESS, the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, THE LORD KNOWETH THEM THAT ARE HIS. (2 Timothy 2:19a). In other words, doctrine matters because it ultimately reinforces or tears down faith. Even, however, in the face of that, Paul makes the statement that His own are known to Him and they are sealed and on an unshakeable foundation.

      However, what does he follow it up with? Let EVERYONE that names the name of Christ depart iniquity. There’s no claim that any man will know who belongs to God, but it is clear they are secure and fixed. Yet even so, the call to depart iniquity goes to all men who name Christ (whether they are elect or not).

      Takeaway :

      1. It is missing the point to divide theology up into minor and major issues. Any issue that is theological and has any bearing on a man’s faith is important and must be treated as such. Not a “number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin” issue, but certainly far more than what most would consider important. The OP seems vague on what is major and follow-up posts seem to argue over whether a particular vs. general view of atonement is major. Of course it is. Can one be on either side and still be saved? Yes. That doesn’t make it a minor issue.

      2. Naming those that disagree is important for many reasons – not the least of all is a consistent witness. If it is a private dispute, then don’t raise the issue publicly to begin with. The article could have been written without alluding to any personalities – just issues and doctrines.

      3. A person’s theology is just empty words if they don’t depart from sin. A man can be doctrinally correct but spiritually dead.

    • theoldadam

      Christ and His work…ALONE…is tough to adhere to.

      It seems everybody wants to add…something. If only a little bit.

      Your feelings. Your seriousness. A Pope. An inerrant biblical text (a paper pope). A decision. Anything will do.

    • craig. bennett

      Sigh! After reading through the comments, I wish I hadn’t.

      Michael. Though I am not a Calvinist, I actually appreciate you and your thoughts as you explain what you believe and why.. This is a well written article and I am sorry to hear you have been over the coals…

      Many of the comments bear out the truth of your article.. and all I can say is that some of the commenters should go and join West Boro Baptist.. you would fit in well there.

    • MEM

      Michael,

      Your blogs and podcasts help me to maintain gospel-centered theology. Thank you! Far too many people go to legalism or anti-intellectualism (“Jesus only” folks who seem to be afraid of doctrine).

      Having been in a anti-intellectual Baptist church for the last 5 years it is so refreshing for me to study theology and yet not slip into legalism. I was just telling my pastor the other day how your ministry has helped to keep me grounded in the gospel and nothing else.

      Thank you, keep it up, and to God be the glory!

    • C Michael Patton

      Yeah, as DaveZ said, you would think I planted some of these comments. Sadly I did not.

    • C Michael Patton

      Pete,

      Hurt pride instigated this? Definitely. But take away my emotional reasons for posting and this blog would be blank!

      Eastern Orthodox arrogance: yes, this is definitely MY observation. It does not mean it is true, but I would say that there are very deep issues that EO people need to consider and at least hear what I have to say. Besides that, everyone got thrown under the bus! We all have issues.

      Let me ask you what you think the biggest problem in your EO tradition is?

    • C Michael Patton

      And no, I am not going to tell who the person was. Of course I may truly be at fault or misunderstood. This is the case with every illustration we have that involves people. But you read this blog giving me general trust believing that I have enough wisdom to discern such things. And whether it is the fundamentalist or the Reformed scholar, both illustrations require that you give me the benefit of the doubt.

      But I don’t reveal his name so that I don’t create controversy. And it is not James White. He would get thrown under the same bus as me.

      However, this blog is read widely enough that this particular gentleman may comment of he so chooses. I have never seen him even on the web, but from the nature of our interaction I suspect he is familiar enough with this blog.

      But again, even if there was no possibility that I am misinterpreting him, I would not reveal his name. I rarely name folks that I criticize on this blog unless they call me out publicly. But sometimes I deserve it!

    • Brian Roden

      The same pen that wrote Rom 1:16-17 wrote Rom 10:9-10

      If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

    • craig. bennett

      Greg.

      I once had a fellow Christian tear strips of me in a way that nearly had me in tears. He then put his hand on my shoulder and said he was only saying that to encourage me.

      I think we all need to truly pray and ask the Lord to teach us what does it really mean to speak the truth in love and to be people of real grace.

      Its really sad that some of the comments here are neither graceful or grace filled.

    • […] By C. Michael Patton: […]

    • […] Fourteen Characteristics of Theological Legalism […]

    • anonymous

      ok…, I am thinking maybe you are gonna be my friend. not positive yet 🙂

    • Phil Barron

      Brethren I think Michaels point is well illustrated in some of the comments that have been displayed here. What do you think someone who is lost is going to think of your Jesus after reading all of this? I learned a long time ago not to be sucked into arguments for the sake of those who were listening. Their soul is worth more than vindicating my position.

    • EricW

      Jesus read this post and the comments.

      ἐδάκρυσεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς, καὶ λέγει, ὦ γενεὰ ἄπιστος καὶ διεστραμμένη, ἕως πότε μεθ’ ὑμῶν ἔσομαι; ἕως πότε ἀνέξομαι ὑμῶν;

    • Lora

      Thank you Craig Bennet for making such an excellent point…

      Without grace and humility, there is no wisdom.

      Anyone who claims to be a “teacher of theology” must be cognizant of Scriptural responsibility to serve–not to lord it over others, but to serve as an example.

      Confessing our faults one to another…..when someone in a position of authority refuses to accept responsibility for their sin, then it is best to remind ourselves of our responsibility to follow teaching of Jesus Christ–to be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves.

      Scripture is clear (especially Proverbs) that we are foolish if we accept teaching from such as these-as Paul instructs Timothy (II Tim. 3) from such turn away.

    • It is interesting that when Paul spoke about something like this, he gave the name of the person/people who were providing the information, (as the “house or Chloe’s people”, 1 Cor. 1: 11). And of course when necessary he called them “false brethren” (Gal. 2: 4 / 2 Cor. 11: 26). And of course with the Philippians, they were “dogs”, and “evil workers”…”the false circumcision.” Even in Paul’s day he said these so-called “brethren” had sneaked in! As too Peter wrote, “for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.” (1 Pet. 2: 8). Sometimes I really wonder if we really believe in the authority of Holy Scripture today, even in our best churches? Now sadly, they live right in the Church itself, and even preach from the pulpit’s! And we can see them surely in the so-called Christian Academy. It is simply “unbelief” and “error” masquerading as belief and believers! Wow, you say, how dare you make such a statement, but again I wonder if we have just become so dull in even our so-called biblical doctrine & theology? Here of course were the Judaizers, but now they are simply much more almost plain apostates, outright renegades (to the Word of God) under the guise of freedom, but as Jude wrote: “ungodly persons who turn the grace of God into licentiousness.” (Jude 1: 4)

      Btw, this was one of the sins of the Church at Corinth, “impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced.” (2 Cor. 12: 21) And note too, Paul calls some of this, “defilement of flesh and spirit”! (2 Cor. 7: 1)

      To point here, is that we are in the depth of a great spiritual battle, and now today even more for the life and soul of the Christian Church! (Note, the last three churches in Rev. 3!)

    • Sorry Michael, but the old pastor-teacher I think in me comes out on this subject! Of course we are not really to judge people, but surely we must often and really always judge what many people are saying biblically and theologically, especially those who claim to speak for God and the Bible! And those of us that really believe that the hour is late, and the so-called Church ever nears the eschatological realities! We simply must speak up! (The Parable of the Ten Virgins comes to mind, Matt. 25: 1-13)

    • Note my last is to a blog of mine that sits in “moderation”!

    • Btw, to place any over-zealous commentators here with the so-called “West Bro Baptist” American church is simply an overstatement, at best.. and perhaps really something else?

    • Paul

      I find Patton’s view rather cynical, pandering to those who are “lite” or loose on Bible doctrine (who are the implied heroes) and mischaracterizing those who are earnest contenders for God’s Word (who are the implied villains). It is also judgmental of others’ base motives.

    • Lora

      Having reviewed comment #60, it is very difficult for me to trust C Michael Patton and what he says about other people when he has misrepresented me and my statements–especially considering the fact that he has refused to accept responsibility for his behavior.

      Expecting the rest of us to give him the benefit of the doubt when he has not given me the benefit of the doubt is definitely a double standard….

      More than likely, I am not the only one who has had this experience with him……

    • Pete again

      CMP,

      “But take away my emotional reasons for posting and this blog would be blank!”

      LOL true!!!

      We have had our differences of opinion of course, but I’ve never doubted 1) your exceptional writing talents and 2) that you are 100% sincere in your beliefs

      “Let me ask you what you think the biggest problem in your EO tradition is?”

      People like me who spend too much time on blogs instead of prayer!

      In other words, EOs that don’t fully understand and learn Holy Tradition (including the Holy Scriptures, which are the centerpiece of our Tradition and Liturgy), and that don’t live the Christian life by trying to be perfect, as our Father in heaven is perfect.

      (In our defense, in terms of learning…it took the disciples, and St. Paul, 3 whole years of their life to learn the basics of Christianity. And then, add on all that we’ve learned through revelation as a Church in the past 2,000 years…well, that is a lot to digest!)

      Anyway, I am a poor example of an EO and unfortunately there are many others like me. That’s not empty humility, it is the truth. Having just gone through Great Lent, my weaknesses were again clearly pointed out. I guess that’s one of the goals of observing Lent.

      You mentioned Brad Nassif… I agree, what a great example to model oneself after.

    • @Pete: Your thoughts are also the support of the Augustinian and Pauline view that the Christian lives in the reality of both Romans 7: 13-25, with Romans chapter 8: 1-3, etc. (the whole of Romans 8). But, I don’t think this is the position of the EO?

    • Earl M. Blackburn

      Thank you for your post. As a Reformed Baptist, who loves the grace and glory of God that is revealed in the face of Jesus Christ, I appreciate your posts. I do not always agree with you about every minor thing, but I appreciate your heart and seriousness. Even though I have no idea about the identity of the well-known Reformed person, I am genuinely sorry for the ungracious email you received. I have always believed that we who love the “doctrines of grace’ should, of all people be the most gracious. Do NOT grow weary or give up. Onward! We have a great King!

    • John Roper

      Michael, Good article. While there is much we would not agree upon in theological areas, I have found your teachings beneficial & at least an honest effort to be balanced on various positions. I found myself in empathy with you as I read this article. It is funny how little theology Christ taught while he was here on earth. It was his acts (his works) that brought salvation. As Peter says in the book of Acts – “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”. The legalist flies too close to the flame of “right thought” equals salvation instead of only by the work of our Savior Jesus. While I love to study the Bible and theology, I know that it is only by Jesus we can be saved. He is all we can depend upon. I do appreciate your honest struggles. Be Blessed Brother.

    • Luigi

      Luckily, I am a Catholic. I believe Christ left us a church (not a bible) and she determines what is important and interprets theological matters; thus we all don’t individually have to. I know this won’t be a popular view amongst reformers, however, I do enjoy reading different analysis and interpretations and Credo is one of my fave sites for that. Nonetheless I do think each one of us will interpret things in our own way, thus create arguments and confusion and ultimately gets us caught in the “thick of thin things”.

      • C Michael Patton

        Luigi,

        Interesting that you did not even mention that Christ left us the Holy Spirit which is the subject of the whole upper room discourse. Christ left us the church, yes. But this Body of which he is the head, is empowered by the Holy Spirit. But all traditions believe that God left us the Bible. No need to undermine its significance. Read Dei Verbum. It is one of the great documents about the authority of the Bible in all history.

    • David G. Pickett

      Humility and love should be your legs as you walk through Scripture. In Matthew, Jesus says that on the Great Commandment to love hangs all the law and prophets, all his scripture. Jesus says he did not come to change one line of the law, but when there was nobody to throw the first stone, Jesus did not feel obligated by the law to do so, either. That story was so beloved of the early church that it lived outside the Gospels by word of mouth and memory for quite a while, before being given a Gospel home.

      We are all sinners, and are not tasked by Jesus with judgement but to love, minister, witness, worship, learn, teach. We are not purified until we leave this world, for our animal instincts work to twist our minds into subtle sin (but we can be much improved; humility allows us to more readily see the sin creeping in, for we are not in denial). We depend on Grace for our salvation. It is sad and ridiculous for a Christian to say “But they are sinners!”, for we all are.

    • David G. Pickett

      BTW, your email twitter link had a modified title, somewhat reversed:

      14 Ways To Prevent Theological Liberalism http://conta.cc/18osN4w

    • John Metz

      Michael,
      A very good post and a sometimes strange conversation following. Overall I think both the post and the conversation made your point.

    • Pete again

      Hi Fr. Robert,

      EOs love Romans:

      Romans 2:6-7: 5 God…will render to each one according to his deeds: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality.

      Romans 5:10: For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we WILL be saved by His life (future tense).

      Romans 13:11: … now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is NEARER than when we first believed

      Romans 3:31: Do we then make void the Law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.

      Romans 12:16: Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

      Of course I have to chuckle about your note: “…follows the Augustinian & Pauline…” instead of, more accurately, “…follows the Augustinian interpretation of St. Paul”…

      But I’ll bite anyway, I took the day off: what exactly are you referring to?

    • Gary Brown

      David Bishop – as one who is far more spiritual than you are (I began my Christian walk 37 years ago by attending Bill Gothard nine separate times!), I think I’m well qualified to declare that you are so twisted in your desperate desire to have everyone agree with every point of your theology that you’ve become the clanging cymbal referred to in I Cor 13:1. Get a grip, man!

      Do you know how many times you posted in a row? Making sure that everyone knew that you were RIGHT and they were hell-bound, deceived instruments of satan? The vast majority of those who have changed the world for Christ (George Muller, Hudson Taylor, D.L. Moody, Charles Spurgeon, Brother Andrew, Billy Graham etc, etc, etc) would never fit in your tiny theological world. Instead, they spent their time demonstrating the love and power of Christ to a lost world, winning millions in the process.

      One could only hope this would be a wake up call to you. While I’m sure Michael didn’t have you in mind, the article was exactly what you need to hear. Except I doubt you have ears to hear.

      BTW, one could only wish you understood how little we care about your opinion of our salvation. We don’t answer to you and you haven’t transformed our life. The Spirit that bears witness with our spirit that we are childen of the King is not the spirit by which you speak.

    • Gary Brown

      Do I need to say the first line was a joke?

    • neomajic

      There was one thing that stood out to me as I read your post… “forget grace, everyone you talked about has missed the 2nd commandment Jesus gave us… Love one another!”

      You talk about all these different view points and everyone seems to hate each other, where is the JOY?

      Here’s an idea, give up on the theological knowledge and great wisdom you all seek for prideful reasons and follow Jesus, you all sound like the 2 disciples arguing who will be the greatest or sit at the right or left… I am thinking they missed the point also. Time for some self reflection and maybe a new filling of the Holy Spirit! jmho

    • David G. Pickett

      Legalism has problems like: Bacon good, Gay bad. Nothing like the Vurt of an Orthodox Jewish nephew to show you how much of the law we ignore for our convenience.

    • jin

      15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:16The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:17But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.18What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
      Philippians 1

    • Robert Eaglestone

      Well, it’s a shock, a serious shock, to think that Christians like Methodists and Anglicans may have valid baptisms. Yes, that’s my Inner Pharisee, nurtured and coddled for decades through Baptist and baptistic churches. And yes, it IS possible to stop thinking that way about others. It’s just not easy… not easy at all. Maybe it involves dying to self, in a way, since it is possible that some personally-held doctrine may, in fact, be mistaken…

      Glory to God! If it weren’t for the Lord’s grace, we’d all be in hell. Imagine if we were held eternally accountable for our theology!

    • Gerrie

      I read somewhere that the Lord God said through a prophet Isaiah, that a chosen people were honoring Him with their lips, but with hearts that were far from Him. Centuries later the descendants of those same people were reminded of these words by a man known as Jesus of Nazaret. As a theologian myself, and specifically one who is reading the Bible again as if for the first time, there are many doctrines out there in the Christian environment that I see the flaws of man-made traditions in. But in explaining my understanding, I always try to play the ball and not the man. I trust that I succeed in doing so. There are probably many, many people with a heart for God despite their lack of rightly divided knowledge.

      And I remember a murderer and adulterer who was called a man after God’s own heart. Of him the Lord said to a prophet (Samuel) that He looked at man in a different way that man did – He looked upon the heart.

      Well written Michael. I differ from you in a number theological or doctrinal respects, but as a considerably older man than you, I have come over a number of years to respect and value your opinion and understanding.

    • Tore Bostrup

      I just love how God puts the right sermon, the right Facebook post, the right blog, radio program in my path as I seek understanding of a biblical subject! This is one of those times. You may agree or disagree with individual statements, but if one or more of these 14 characteristics fit, it is at least time for some serious soul searching.
      I’m not a theologian, my teacher is Christ (I.e. scripture), I try to be careful about judging the state of salvation in others, rather I try to judge myself. Christ paid for my sins on the cross, through which He offered me salvation. The works he asks of me are that I believe in Him the Father sent. I was saved before I knew the finer points of theology (still don’t, but I know and learn every day). I learn by seeking scripture, listening to and reading what other mature Christians have to say, and asking God to guide and direct me, and He is faithful to do so.
      I measure what others say and teach against scripture, not against theological interpretations based on traditions of men.
      This does not make me a better person or a better Christian, and is by no means anything that I can take credit for. It is simply what God has put on my heart, so who am I to argue? May The Lord bless you all, and may we all find ourselves in His grace, and may we all consider each other with the mercy that we hope for and are assured of!

    • Anne

      2 Corinthians 3
      “1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
      4 Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. 5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
      7Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, 8will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9 If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! . . .”

    • Randy Harris

      Mr. Patton: you do mention those who believe that they have “the truth” (RCs, EOs, Southern Baptists with their Landmark teachings, Lutherans, Charismatics, etc, etc), but fail to mention pre-mil dispys, who can viciously attack anyone disagreeing with their teachings and private believe anyone not adhering to their eschatology is going to hell. (For an example of this, see “The End Times Controversy,” a nasty diatribe written 8-9 years ago by many dispys attacking all those who have “strayed” from this “obvious” correct teaching. What arrogance!!)

      Have you ever hosted a debate between pre-mils, amils, and postmils? Of course you haven’t. Be careful of being caught in the very hypocrisy you condemn.

      Yes, there are weighty matters of the law. The problem comes when WHO DECIDES what those weighty matters are and which aren’t. Obviously, Scripture dictates this, but just note that Jesus did go on in that passage to STILL SAY that tithing was important. Sadly, many ignorant Christians fail to read on in the passage and so don’t tithe.

      The fact of the matter is that denominationalism has pretty much rendered the Church ineffective to confront the very major problems in the world which could bring nations to their destruction. The fact that Christians are not of one mind which both Jesus and Paul commanded has ruined almost everything.

      So even though you condemn others for these things you yourself are guilty of these things and do not even realize it. This is exactly why I have never become a financial supporter of your ministry. Try showing a little grace yourself.

    • Jeremy

      What is the OP’s definition of legalism? It seems to me it’s a poorly defined term more often than not – resulting in assumption-based reactions. It’s a little like the term ‘cult’. I’m willing to bet that most people don’t know the precise definition of the word but “know it when I see it”. How can anything productive come from such imprecision? Especially when mixed with emotional reactions.

      If making everything of prime importance is legalism, the term is misleading or clumsily used. After all, we serve a God who numbers the hairs on our heads but it hardly seems to fit to call God a legalistic. He equates lust with adultery, stubbornness with idolatry (how extreme does that seem!) and laziness with being related to a destroyer. Yet He is slow to anger and abounding in love. So He fits at least one description of “legalistic” (making even small things of great importance) but He meets the qualifications for that which we would call anything but legalistic (merciful and kind). That these two coexist in one Person hints that maybe true legalism is nothing more than incomplete attention to what God desires of us (speaking the truth in love -NOT diminution of either). Further, I would suggest that the charge of Pharisaism is more often than not an attempt either to suppress the truth or an excuse not to show love to our neighbor (or both). After all, how often do we complain about others not being hard enough on us when we sin?

      The OP’s charge of imbalance is, I think, partly true. But not in or approach to doctrine – rather in how the love for the truth affects our love for others. Neither should be tempered but both should simultaneously drive us in all we do.

      So I think several of the points in the blog are, themselves tempering truth itself rather than encouraging both truth (which includes doctrine) and compassion to operate simultaneously without reserve – letting them balance each other.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      #83:

      14 Ways To Prevent Theological Liberalism

      Where’s that linked post at?

      Is this one of CMP’s post? If not, he should write it.

    • Donnie

      I remember playing HS football, I enjoyed “taking peoples heads off”. I’ll never forget the advice my dad gave me after a rough loss. He said, “no matter how tough you are, you’ll always find someone bigger and meaner than you”. I think David Bishop found that person when Kraig showed up (41). I think my dads advice holds true in theology too.

    • April Carter

      More often than not, following the attitude and beliefs of Patton’s points is a sign of willful ignorance and disobedience.

      1. “You always define yourself with the word “true” in front of it (e.g. “I am a ‘true’ Calvinist,” “I am a ‘true’ Baptist,” “I am a ‘true’ Christian).”

      Most Americans claim to be Christian but reject the gospel. They are goats pretending to be sheep. So, we need to let people know what a true Christian looks like according to the Word.

      4. “Most of your theological writing and/or discussion focuses on where other Christians have gone wrong.”

      Some people are called to be watchmen. In other words, they must warn Christians about various evils that are in the Church. If you do not like that, then you are probably participating in those evils.

      9. “There are the only three reasons why people disagree with you: 1) they don’t have enough or the right knowledge, 2) they have compromised, and/or 3) they are justifying in some sin.”

      If you are truly speaking truth, those reasons do apply.

      In my experience, people who want to disobey God react like rabid zombies. It’s as if they’re possessed (and some probably are). But, backsliding Christians also respond that way. Such people try to silence God’s messengers, shut them out, belittle them, ignore what they say, demonize them, slander and libel them, call them “legalists”, say they’re listening to Satan, project themselves onto them, displace others onto them, call good evil and evil good, use weak and carnal arguments to “win”, etc.

    • April Carter

      Anyone who sincerely accepts Jesus as his or her Lord and savior is a Christian. However, if they purposely pray to idols (Buddha, Mary, angels, saints, other dead people, etc) or if they put people over God (scholars, pastors, priests, popes, educated people, etc) then they are guilty of idolatry. They are also guilty of adultery when they follow false teachings (pluralism, New Age, indulgences, using rosaries, calling Mary “Queen of Heaven”, calling the pope “Holy Father”, praying to dead people, etc). Jesus said that his true followers obey his commands. If someone claiming to be Christian refuses to repent of willful ignorance and disobedience, he or she can wind up a reprobate. It is unwise to have the mentality that if you accept Jesus, you do not have to obey all of his commands. It is also unwise to rely on humans for wisdom and understanding, in any capacity. Wrong thinking is why the Church is apostate.

    • Don

      What is our message to the unbelieving community? Did Jesus die for us or is this not important. I am trying to encourage my wife to believe in Jesus my Lord and Saviour and all this blog does is nit pick and not send the message
      to the world that Jesus died for everyone and wants to accept Him as Lord and saviour? She reads this daily and will not appreciate my comment.

    • Don

      Michael like your sister my wife suffers from depression. Twice she has tried to end her life. Fortunately the one night I was working my daughter in law that does not live in the same city realized from the email she received that my wife was in trouble and phoned the police who sent an ambulance to our home. My wife is doing much better now, however, she continues to doubt her faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and saviour. Thank you for what you wrote, however people who comment on this blog need to be thinking about who is reading their comments and what message they want to send to doubters and those who don’t believe.

    • Bryant

      What’s an evangelical Calvinist?

    • craig. bennett

      Greg. Check this site out. http://evangelicalcalvinist.blogspot.com.au/

      You will get some detailed info here.

    • craig. bennett

      Greg, maybe Michael does mean something different.. but Bobby is the only one up till now I have heard use that terminology and presumed he meant the same.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Don: “Michael like your sister my wife suffers from depression. Twice she has tried to end her life. … My wife is doing much better now, however, she continues to doubt her faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and saviour. Thank you for what you wrote, however people who comment on this blog need to be thinking about who is reading their comments and what message they want to send to doubters and those who don’t believe.”

      Don’s wife,

      Please don’t kill yourself.

      I don’t know why you doubt Jesus. It hasn’t been made sufficiently clear. Curious, have you ever doubted your doubt?

      For all those who don’t believe and actively trust Jesus and in Jesus as their Lord and Savior as both repentant and redeemed sinners, it will not go well for you in the end according to Scripture.

    • David G. Pickett

      regarding depression and Jesus, sometimes I feel like a surfer on the wave of my mood, high up on the manic side, feeling and sharing the love as best I can, and with Jesus by my side, helping me keep my balance on that tricky wave. Sometimes I fall, but we get back up on the wave right away. So be bipolar just long enough to get in touch with the love, and then stand up on your surfboard and stay in the sunlight. Do not doubt the love that made this Creation, the love that forgives us every sin at our first asking, so we can be close to God, have God with us, Jesus by our side, Emmanuel. Even the staunchest Atheists I have chatted with still believe in love, and God is love, so I can work with that. Believe in the love, first. Our love for you is real.

      PS: It might seem off topic, but in a simple, not legalistic theology, everything is close. So, on the commandments to love hang all the law and the prophets. Without love, you are nothing. Without love, faith is meaningless. Without love, scripture and its law, legalism is meaningless. Among faith, hope and love, the greatest of these in love.

    • william

      JOHN 13:35
      (No love for one another? Not my disciple then!)
      and Rupertus Meldenius work for me.

    • william

      It seems to me (and not being a great understander of these things I’m probably wrong here lol) that some people are so divisive that they are like the nose that cuts itself off to spite the face thereby ironically no longer being part of the body themselves! I love CMP, I am thankful for this ministry and if I had the cash would fund it for a year. His work has changed my life for the better and many others too.
      Love ya CMP! I probably won’t meet you in this life but can’t wait to shake your hand and thank you in the next.

    • […] Fourteen Characteristics of Theological Legalism – “Without question, one of the most disturbing traits of the world of theology is the far to often reality that grace is eclipsed by theological legalism. Twice today I encountered this in its most blatant forms by two very different types of people. Both were very passionate about theology and both, undoubtedly, believe that their attitude toward me or my teaching is justified and honoring to the Lord. However, I believe that both of these men sacrificed a major issue of grace in defense of minor issues in theology.” Parchment and Pen Blog […]

    • Antoninus

      To Don’s wife: please don’t feel that your ‘doubt’ condemns you in any way. Everyone has doubts, unless they have no imagination; sometimes the fiercest condemn because they are trying to hide from their own doubts.

      Depression is an illness, and no one who has not had it can understand how devastating it can be. It strikes at your core, and you cannot talk or think your way out of it. But it is a disease, not a definition of you, your character, or your spirituality. Seek help for your depression from doctors and counselors who know something about it. And hold on to the Hand that Jesus extends to you every moment. He suffers with you, and will not abandon you, despite the moments of despair and self-doubt you will inevitably suffer. He loves you completely, and you are worthy of love. He is beyond theology or doctrine or anyone’s criticisms. Hold on.

    • David G. Pickett

      Wow, so many blog to say “I resemble that remark!”

      Jesus came, not to condemn, but to save. Some Christians feel their job is to condemn. They ignore that they are charged to save all, not just some, and nobody gets thrown under the bus. If you dislike someone else’s theology, your proof and your vindication is through your love, your ministry. Love is so much more powerful, and sings the truth to all hearts. Why would you set your most powerful tool down, and switch to something weak and eventually less satisfying like hateful language? Whose team is that?

    • David G. Pickett

      It is somewhat impossible to criticize criticism, without shooting oneself in the foot. Still, after leading by loving example and seeing the message ignored, frustration tempts one to address it. Well, we are all sinners, so this is one thing you get. I suppose it is nice to make your stance clear occasionally, but love not criticism will win hearts.

      It seems like there is enough hate in the world without Christians adding any hate of sinners of competing traditions. I am not Roman Catholic, I am PCUSA, but my just confirmed RC granddaughter wonders why we are not all RC. I worship with them, minister with them, sometimes take communion with them, for while humans have denominations, Jesus just has followers.

      There is much more sin in the shunning than in any participation.

      Ditto for when I worship with the Fundamentalist friends, and my Jewish family wing, Orthodox through very reformed. Love is my law, guide, armor, shield and sword; my God and the essence of my Savior is love.

    • David G. Pickett

      It is sad that the words ‘true’ and ‘full’ are used to denigrate other traditions, in large print for emphasis in text and signage. Jesus showed us love is true and full, love fulfills the law. That does not say love drives us to obey the law, it says that law was a tool to create a more loving society, When we are loving, we more than obey the law, we give the law a sense of success, because the purpose of the law was love, and its purpose was achieved more fully than the law alone could hope for, through the example, teachings, love and sacrifice of Jesus.

      Playing catch up today!

    • Francis

      I actually (partially) agree with “law was a tool to create a more loving society”. Rather, law was (and is) a tool to create a more loving, and JUST, society.

      More correctly, law was a tool to reveal to man who God is, what man is, where man falls short, and indirectly, how man can be redeemed in spite of his deficiencies. –> This is the ultimate purpose of law.

    • william

      This morning while washing up the dishes I felt a real conviction over my previous posts. I felt that I had been ‘superior’ in my manner and condemning even. So I prayed and asked God for forgiveness of my sins. It was nice to come here and see posts about love.

      David G. Pickett said

      “It is somewhat impossible to criticize criticism, without shooting oneself in the foot. Still, after leading by loving example and seeing the message ignored, frustration tempts one to address it. Well, we are all sinners, so this is one thing you get. I suppose it is nice to make your stance clear occasionally, but love not criticism will win hearts.”

      This had been my exact line of thinking when it hit me that I had been criticizing criticism too and how hypocritical I had been. It occurred to me, if I was asking my child why she had done something wrong and she kept saying ‘but look daddy, your other daughter did something wrong too…’ then I would say to her, but this is about you and me, not me and them. This is a simple (and probably wrong) analogy of how we can be with God sometimes. We forget to look at where we stand with Him and look at where others stand with Him. Pointing at others and using diversionary tactics to take the focus off our own faults. But if it doesn’t fool us, it isn’t going to fool God. Sometimes we get so angry or superior with others who do not agree with us that we are prepared to slander, mock and even condemn them to hell (in our own minds). We (esp me) get on such a high horse just the dizzying height can cause us to fall off and often we don’t even realize we are on one.

    • […] If your statement of faith is crafted with such precision that it really only applies to your church, you might be bound by theological legalism. […]

    • Dennis J.

      Well, I came really late to this and am not expecting to have my questions answered, but here goes anyway. Regarding the “discussion” David Bishop brought forward:
      1) I am not clear on the difference between Accomplished and Particular Redemption. They sound like the same thing to me, especially in view of Charles Spurgeon’s sermon here: http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0181.htm What am I missing?
      2) CMP stated in (12) “I don’t know what you are talking about. I do believe in particular redemption. But, having said that, I don’t think it is an issue of first importance.” By that I assume he means the issue between particular and possible redemption is not of first importance, not that redemption is not of first importance? At least, I hope that’s what he meant.
      3) To David, although I doubt you will ever see this, I remember my days of being oh, so dogmatic, the years have taught me that extending grace goes a lot further in a “discussion” than punching people in the nose.

    • David Bishop

      What you are missing, Dennis, is the fact that most people here do not believe a particular redemption (redemption made only for some people) is also one that has actually been accomplished (was concluded 2000 years ago). Of course you don’t think it is of first importance. Rather, you think a particular redemption that needs something more to finish it is just as fine as one that is already finished and therefore needs nothing to complete it.

      Your days of being oh so dogmatic were just as self righteous as your days are now. The fact that I am dogmatic is not why I am righteous. You think it was why you were righteous. You are deceived on both accounts.

    • David Bishop

      I have no interest in answering stupid questions. All that needs to be said I have already said. If you desire to plod heedlessly ahead in your foolishness, then be my guest. Your blood be on your head. Either way, I shake the dust.

    • Gary Brown

      David Bishop – if your theological legalism were only confined to your private condemnations, that would be one thing and we could all simply ignore it. But the real problem with graceless Phariseeism is that it drives people away from Christ. Pride is that way. It repels people. So, while you seem to take great pleasure in spewing revealing condemnations like “your blood be on your head” and “I shake the dust” to fellow believers who you have condemned to hell simply because they disagree that belief in particular redemption is a prerequisite to a poor lost beggar being saved, you are as much an antievangelist as Bart Ehrman. Utterly graceless and blind in your pride, you can take great solace that you’re “right”. The pharisees who nailed Jesus to the cross felt the same way.

      This article was written for a reason. You’re it.

    • David Bishop

      I explain why Christ alone is my righteousness, and you call it legalism. Typical.

    • David Bishop

      I am not associated with Chris Duncan or his associates from Outside the Camp. I have never spoken to him, don’t know him, and have no desire to. I have read some of what his friend Marc Carpenter has posted on his site, and I detest the fact that Carpenter makes secondary issues a part of his gospel. I have continued here to make the redemption which Christ accomplished for His people the entire focus of the discussion. I have not deviated from this.

    • cherylu

      Interesting website there David.

      All Pelagians, semi Pelaginas, and Arminians are lost. And for that matter, so are all Calvinists that believe any of the above are brothers/sisters in Christ.

      I would guess from what you say there that you are probably the only one commenting any where on this blog–including all of the blog contributors, that is really a saved person.

    • David Bishop

      If you mean Mr. Patton’s blog, then you would again be wrong. I have not spoken to everyone on Mr. Patton’s blog. As for Mr. Patton himself, he has made it clear that he does indeed deny an accomplished redemption, therefore I indeed call attention to the fact he denies redemption accomplished.

    • cherylu

      I was speaking of Mr Patton’s blog–not yours. And I may or may not be wrong when it comes to this blog. But I don’t believe I have ever heard any one here express your views. In fact, if my memory is correct, (and I have commented here for years), any Calvinist here that has expressed an opinion on the subject in all of that time has not agreed with your views. So, if any one here holds the same beliefs as you do, they are certainly keeping them to themselves.

    • David Bishop

      Well I’ll take your word for it that you have read every single comment that anyone has ever posted to this blog over the course of its life. Of course, I’m just being facetious. I rather believe you are embellishing.

    • cherylu

      Maybe I am embellishing. The fact remains that there have been many discussions on Calvinism/Arminianism here over the years and not once do I recall any other Calvinist stating the view point that you and your friends have. I remember one Calvinist saying something to the effect that Arminians worship a different God but that is as far as he took it I believe.

      Of course, my memory could be failing me in this area.

    • David Bishop

      Oh, I see, in your eyes worshiping a different God means worshiping the same God. Yeah, no surprise there.

    • cherylu

      David,

      I have no interest at all in getting into a long debate with you.

      I am simply stating that you and your friends hold a radical and seemingly very minority view that seemingly casts even most of your fellow Calvinists as unsaved people.

    • David Bishop

      Minority, yes. Radical, perhaps. Unique, not even close. You might read the Canons of Dordt sometime.

    • Gary Brown

      D.L. Moody
      John & Charles Wesley
      Charles Spurgeon
      Amy Carmichael
      Hudson Taylor
      Brother Andrew
      Charles Finney (especially!)
      George Whitefield
      George Muller
      Billy Graham
      C.S. Lewis
      Michael Patton
      and almost everyone else who has ever changed the world for Christ;

      are on their way to hell. But not David Bishop. No, his theology is perfect on all the essential particulars. He is going to heaven.

      So good to finally know what I need to do to be saved. Up till now, I was laboring under the misconception of Romans 10:9-10. Silly me. To be saved, you must agree theologically with David Bishop. Go spread the good news!

    • David Bishop

      Who said Michael Patton is going to hell? I didn’t. Mr. Patton is still alive. He may be one of the elect, and God may yet bring him to repentance.

      As to your list, don’t forget Watchman Nee and every pope who has ever sat in the seat of the Roman Catholic throne.

      I’m glad you didn’t include Augustus Toplady, John Owen, John Gill, Tobias Crisp, or any of the other saints of God.

      C S Lewis? Pfft. That old heretic? I just posted a new essay about that dog and his master Chesterton this morning.

      http://cornbreadandbourbon.wordpress.com/2013/06/

    • cherylu

      Hey Greg, how did you guess?? 🙂

    • David Bishop

      Sure, because that’s what the Pharisees were, all right, they were perceived as being rude.

      Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

      Or . . . ahem . . . maybe they weren’t the ones who were perceived to be rude, after all.

    • David Bishop

      Emotionalism is not an epistemology. And the tremendous feeling of hurt that has infected you is not really a disease. Why is it that most Brits are immune to your cause for tears? Might it be the result of the tremendous feeling of butt hurt that your rich, white founding fathers felt at being told to pay taxes, before they sent a bunch of poor people to fight and die for them in their quest for more power and wealth . . . er, I mean, independence. “Give me liberty or give me death, but dontchya ever, ever hurt my little feelings.”

    • David Bishop

      You know what’s not so funny? The fact that Billy Graham believes Hindus and Muslims and Mormons will be in heaven, and that Jesus Christ is not the only way to salvation. C S Lewis was in full agreement.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MZWug3QAvs

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axxlXy6bLH0

      I challenged his grandson, Tullian Tchividjian, with this. Someone on his staff wrote back to tell me I was being mean and vicious and that Billy Graham was a man of God. Yep, straight from the mouth of the horse’s ass. Funny that you sound the same, Greg.

      Contrast Billy Graham’s lies with the Puritan Jonathan Edwards’ sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, and you will discover why what I say hurts your feelings.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4m-uR7RumaA

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3H0cYi8OfzY

    • cherylu

      There is one thought that keeps going round and round in my mind about all of this.

      In Revelation 7, it speaks of “a great multitude that no man could number” that are worshiping around the throne of God. Has there been such a multitude in the past or will there be such a multitude in the future that believes what David insists has to be believed in order to have salvation?

      In view of the minority group he is part of now, it would really make me think that if he is correct, Heaven may be a very lonely place.

    • craig. bennett

      Sigh! Thank God that Scripture tells me Christ has taken my sins away. I became a changed person the day the Spirit of God convicted me of this need.

      That will do me.

    • Gary Brown

      Salvation is a very complicated matter. David Bishop took no exception to the list of the unsaved that included Billy Graham and posted evidence that Graham gave an interview in 1978 in he really did give a pluralistic, inclusivist answer, contrary to scripture.

      So I suppose the take away is this: it doesn’t matter whether a person repents of their sins and asked Christ for forgiveness – to be their Lord and Savior. It doesn’t matter if they preach one message to millions from the pulpit – that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way of salvation and that only through repentance and turning to Christ alone can one be saved. It doesn’t matter if millions heed the call and turn to Christ as Lord and Savior.

      What really matters is whether Graham ever made a false statement in an interview. Because if he did, he was never saved in the first place. Besides, did Billy Graham ever stress the importance of believing in particular redemption before someone could be saved? NO! He only preached Jesus as the way of salvation. So, Graham is clearly on his way to hell!

      It’s funny. Armenians are often accused of “saved by grace, kept by works”. It appears that Calvinists have their own version of “saved by grace unless you ever stumble theologically, then you were never the elect in the first place!” I like the Armenian version better.

    • craig. bennett

      Sighs!!! The irony is killing me.

    • David Bishop

      Luke 13:22-30
      He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

      Acts 4:11-12 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

      Mark 13:21-23 And then if anyone says to you, “Look, here is the Christ!” or “Look, there He is!” do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be on guard, I have told you all things beforehand.

      Mormons repent of their sins and ask Christ for forgiveness – to be their Lord and Savior. Mormons preach one message to millions from the pulpit – that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way of salvation and that only through repentance and turning to Christ alone can one be saved. Millions heed the call and turn to this Christ. Is this the same Christ of Scripture?

    • David Bishop

      ***** WARNING: RIPPED FROM MORMON WEBSITE*****

      Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and the Son of God. He is our Redeemer. The Holy Bible teaches us that Jesus Christ’s mother was Mary, His father on earth was Joseph, that He was born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth, and labored with Joseph as a carpenter. When he turned 30, He began a three-year ministry of teaching, blessing, and healing the people of the Holy Land. He also organized His Church and gave His apostles “power and authority” (Luke 9:1) to assist in His work.

      But what do we mean when we say He is the Savior of the world? The Redeemer? Each of these titles point to the truth that Jesus Christ is the only way by which we can return to live with our Heavenly Father. Jesus suffered and was crucified for the sins of the world, giving each of God’s children the gift of repentance and forgiveness. Only by His mercy and grace can anyone be saved. His subsequent resurrection prepared the way for every person to overcome physical death as well. These events are called the Atonement. In short, Jesus Christ saves us from sin and death. For that, he is very literally our Savior and Redeemer.

    • David Bishop

      What you say:

      Salvation is a very complicated matter. David Bishop took no exception to the list of the unsaved that included Billy Graham and posted evidence that Graham gave an interview in 1978 in he really did give a pluralistic, inclusivist answer, contrary to scripture.

      So I suppose the take away is this: it doesn’t matter whether a person repents of their sins and asked Christ for forgiveness – to be their Lord and Savior. It doesn’t matter if they preach one message to millions from the pulpit – that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way of salvation and that only through repentance and turning to Christ alone can one be saved. It doesn’t matter if millions heed the call and turn to Christ as Lord and Savior.

      What they say:

      Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and the Son of God. He is our Redeemer. The Holy Bible teaches us that Jesus Christ’s mother was Mary, His father on earth was Joseph, that He was born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth, and labored with Joseph as a carpenter. When he turned 30, He began a three-year ministry of teaching, blessing, and healing the people of the Holy Land. He also organized His Church and gave His apostles “power and authority” (Luke 9:1) to assist in His work.

      But what do we mean when we say He is the Savior of the world? The Redeemer? Each of these titles point to the truth that Jesus Christ is the only way by which we can return to live with our Heavenly Father. Jesus suffered and was crucified for the sins of the world, giving each of God’s children the gift of repentance and forgiveness. Only by His mercy and grace can anyone be saved. His subsequent resurrection prepared the way for every person to overcome physical death as well. These events are called the Atonement. In short, Jesus Christ saves us from sin and death. For that, he is very literally our Savior and Redeemer.

      My point is, you sound just like a Mormon.

    • Gary Brown

      Exactly. What is your point? That Billy Graham’s preaching is akin to Mormonism? Or that his presentation of the gospel is insufficiently clear because he doesn’t lecture millions in his TV crusades on the necessity to understand and accept particular redemption as a prerequisite to salvation?

    • David Bishop

      You keep bringing up the fact he has lectured millions as though that means something. Lots of people have lectured and taught millions. Albert Einstein and Mark Twain lectured and taught millions. Lecturing and teaching millions proves nothing.

      My point is precisely that Billy Graham’s gospel is no different in its idolatry than Mormonism. You can’t even tell them apart!

    • Gary Brown

      David – do you believe salvation is a matter of precise definitions thoroughly explained and clearly understood? Or does the Holy Spirit any role in illuminating a person’s mind and heart? Or would that be too close to Mormonism?

      If a Christian in a remote village of Nepal tells a poor beggar about Jesus and the poor beggar repents and puts his trust in Christ, can that person be saved without having understood the finer points of systematic theology? Or does God require precise acceptance of your theology (which excludes the message of almost everyone who has made an impact on the world) first?

    • David Bishop

      Gary, do you think the Holy Spirit has illuminated the minds of Mormons?

    • Gary Brown

      David, of course not. Mormonism is a false religion. The Holy Spirit could not illuminate falsehood.

    • Gary Brown

      How is Billy Graham’s gospel – that he has preached since the 50’s (not an isolated interview in the past 60 years), similar in idolotry to Mormonism?

      When has Graham ever preached that Jesus is anyone other than the second person of the Trinity? When has Graham ever preached that “As man is, God once was; as God is, man can become.” When has Graham ever one time preached any of Mormon history? When has Graham ever PREACHED that salvation is anything other than by grace through faith in Christ ALONE?

      Do the fruits of the Spirit include slander?

    • cherylu

      David,

      I agree with those that have made the point here about the Mormon version of God and the Christian version of God.

      Arminians believe that God in His sovereignty planned the way He will interact with mankind in one way. Calvinists believe that He planned to act in a different way.

      That is completely different ball game we are talking about then the differences between the Hindu understanding of God, or the Mormon understanding, or the Muslim understanding of who Jesus is.

      The Calvinism/Mormonism debate is a difference in the understanding of how God functions. The difference between Christians and Mormons, Hindus, and Muslims is an ontological difference–a difference in the very essence of who God or Jesus is. Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet–not God Himself. Mormons believe that God was not always God but became God and someday we can/will too.

      You seem to be making categorical errors here. You are “comparing apples and oranges”.

    • craig. bennett

      Within the construct of God’s mercy and grace, do you think its possible that in the back blocks of Nepal or other places, if the only mention of Jesus came from a JW and a child / adult earnestly prayed to God for their forgiveness – that God would actually Damn that person to hell?

    • David Bishop

      You are missing the point. What separates Mormonism from Arminianism and Arminianism from Calvinism?

      D-O-C-T-R-I-N-E

    • craig. bennett

      David Bishop. So doctrine separates us from the love of God.

    • David Bishop

      What makes a false teacher a false teacher?

      FALSE D-O-C-T-R-I-N-E

      What makes a false Christ a false Christ?

      FALSE D-O-C-T-R-I-N-E

      What makes Billy Graham a false teacher?

      FALSE D-O-C-T-R-I-N-E.

      It doesn’t matter that he has some true doctrine mixed in with his false doctrine. Even demons believe God is one and that Christ will return one day to judge them. Are you ready to sit at their feet and listen to them expound on the gospel simply because they believe God is one?

      Graham agrees that God is Trinity, and that Christ is the Second Person of the Trinity. So what? So do most pagan Americans who call themselves Christian. I bet even Snooki agrees that God is Trinity and that Christ is the Second Person of the Trinity. I bet she even wept at a showing of The Passion of the Christ. So what? That doesn’t make her a believer!

      Good grief, you people are so deceived. Is it American TV? Is that what made you so blind?

      Take one day, just one day, to read the Westminster Confession of 1649 or the London Baptist Confession of 1689 and then come back here and try to tell me you aren’t complete frauds.

    • David Bishop

      My gosh. If you have bad doctrine, you are already separated from the love of God!!!!

      1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

    • craig. bennett

      David. I don’t say this lightly. But, I have been following your comments here since you started. I think your a troll. But here in Australia, we have a particular term, that once again, I don’t use lightly. But, just as Paul used the colloquium about how he wished they went the whole hog and cut all their tackle off…

      Simply put, you are a royal WANKER!

    • David Bishop

      I’d rather be a wanker for God, than a nice fellow for Satan.

    • craig. bennett

      Unfortunately, you fail dismally with your representation of God. I would go and find out the truth about what love really is David.

      As I said, your a real TROLL. Now you could be mentally ill and if so, we can work alongside that. But, you are now reaping the lack of grace you have shown others in this forum.

      Personally, I find you are actually held in the grip of the evil one along the same lines as those who work for him at West Boro. Maybe you attend that church…you certainly fit in with them.

    • David Bishop

      I give Scripture, while you give fat, stupid opinion. There you go.

    • craig. bennett

      For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten son, so that who soever believes in him, shall not perish, but shall inherit eternal life. John 3:16.

    • David Bishop

      Whosoever what? That’s right, BELIEVES IN HIM. Believes in who? That’s right, IN HIM. Not, mind you, believes in any old Christ, but rather a very specific Christ. Here, check this out, same chapter:

      18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe IS CONDEMNED ALREADY, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

      Hey, check this out too. Same Gospel. Two chapters earlier:

      John 1:9-13
      9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

      Thoroughly exposes you as a fraud, doesn’t it. Yep. Thoroughly.

    • craig. bennett

      Your highness. You miss the point. It doesn’t say who so ever believes in double predestination. It doesn’t say who so ever believes in TULIP. It doesn’t say who so ever believes in David Bishops extreme demonic version of the gospel.

      It simply says, who believes in me shall not perish.

      Guess what….that includes the Arminians and perhaps some of the Calvinists… but I”m not sure it includes you.. because you think you are saved by what you believe.. and not that you believe in Christ… huge difference.

      Anyway, as I said, I do recognise after reading your blog, you exhibit remarkable traits of mental illness and grand delusion, but in reality we can work with that.

      But from now on, I have said my piece about you being mentally ill and a right royal wanker…and from now on, so that I can retain my sense of peace – I will refuse to have anything to do with you any more.

    • craig. bennett

      Greg…lol! I was kinda being ironic with that statement, seeing as he was casting everyone else into the lake of fire.

      Your point about him not being a troll is taken on board and that in my opinion makes him doubly dangerous.

    • David Bishop

      As I have said before, I now say again. I do not know Chris Duncan, have never spoken to Chris Duncan, have never even heard the name Chris Duncan before his name was brought up here. I certainly did not get anything from Chris Duncan. I got it from Christ.

      You agree with about 3% of what I say, Greg, so you can do yourself a favor and cut out the fibbing.

      I don’t care if what I say offends you. I really, literally, could not care less. I post on these boards knowing ahead of time that the message of the Cross is going to offend, so I am not surprised in the least that it does.

      Lastly, emotionalism is not an epistemology. Your emotional appeals are pointless and fallacious. I count it as rubbish as I do all self righteousness.

    • David Bishop

      “Your point about him not being a troll is taken on board and that in my opinion makes him doubly dangerous.”

      You are absolutely correct about that. Triple dangerous, even. To those who are perishing, I have indeed the aroma of death.

      2 Cor 2:16

    • craig. bennett

      Greg Trib. I am glad that I am not saved by how I believe the atonement works, nor how election works – though I do have my own beliefs about such.

      For myself, Paul says that if I believe in my heart and confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord, then I am saved.

      How sad it is when we add to Scripture that which Scripture doesn’t say about salvation.

    • David Bishop

      Matthew 7:
      21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

      They confessed Jesus as Lord. Is that what Paul meant by confessing Jesus as Lord? Slap a label on the end of His name, and presto! chango! you’re saved?

      Romans 10:1-4 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that THEY HAVE A ZEAL FOR GOD, BUT NOT ACCORDING TO KNOWLEDGE. For, BEING IGNORANT OF THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD, and seeking to establish their own, THEY DID NOT SUBMIT TO GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

    • craig. bennett

      Greg…you really got to be joking about that outside the camp link. They have nearly every well know preacher I have heard of in that list of preachers outside the camp.

      David Bishop – what makes you so sure that your interpretations of those Scriptures are so right.. after all, I also believe the Bible to be the word of God and read the same passages you do.

    • Chad Dougless

      David,

      You are an angry person. It’s alright, people get angry. Christ still forgives. I do not see how you are living out the truth of what you wish to profess. If you truly believe that you are so exclusively, ultimately saved by Christ with flawless doctrine to which all must adhere or they are simply pagans, why then do you ignore Colossians 3:12-17. There is no kindness, no meekness, and certainly no patience. You have entered into this forum not to rebuke in love, but to puff yourself up. You may not think that it is so, but everyone else can quickly tell you that you are wrong.

      Now, you can either take those words as “demonic delusion” of everyone else here, or you can simply realize that you are blinded in this. If you disagree with others interpretation of Scripture, whether you are right or not, you simply do not approach as a witness to the risen Lord as an arrogant, pompous, self-righteous, all-knowing, nationalistic, narcissistic, insulting person.

      Preach the truth in love. Correct with Scripture, but do not place yourself in the judgment seat of God. You do not know the heart, but God knows the heart. If you think doctrine has gone astray, approach the doctrine under the auspices of grace. I believe it is important to be firm in your convictions, but you firmly cross that line. Be careful of the measure you use, because it will be the same measure used to judge you. But not by us, by God.

      God alone is perfect, His grace is sufficient, and the Spirit can change hearts and minds. I pray that you will read your words and understand the authorial emotion placed into them.

    • craig. bennett

      Greg, when I was a new Christian, I met a guy who held the same views. He and a couple of others with him had actually caused a number of church splits causing much hurt to many Godly people.

      I also know a local Dutch reformed church in the area who are overtly reformed – but they hold a monthly BBQ in the community at the park and over a period of years have fruitfully and effectively ministered in love – making Christ known through word and deed to the broken hearted in the area.

      While I may disagree with their theology, I rejoice and pray with them for their ministry to the lost and the way they minister to the lost.

      I really don’t see any love coming through David at all. I wonder what sort of abusive past he has had which has made him into such a loveless person.

    • David Bishop

      You read the same passages, but unlike myself, you do not believe they are true.

      Does this local Dutch Reformed Church refer to those they minister to as “brothers in Christ”, “saved”, “washed by the blood”, “Christians”? Or do they simply refer to them as lost?

      The fact that you disagree with my gospel does NOT make you my brother. You are not my brother, Craig. You are lost.

      You don’t see any love coming through me the same way liberals do not see any love coming from conservative values. That is, the very fact that you hold my Lord’s gospel in contempt means you also hold me in contempt, for I bring the message of my Lord’s gospel, which comes to your nostrils reeking of death.

    • craig. bennett

      David… Paul said to the Roman church, that if you confess Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that he was raised from the dead, then you are saved. I truly believe that Jesus is Lord and was raised from the dead.

      However, you say that is not enough. Hmmmm if its not enough, then you are guilty of adding to the Gospel requirements as to what is needed to be saved.

      You have said enough. I have said enough. I wish I was able to disable the email function from getting any more emails from this thread, because I am not even interested in responding to your dribble any more.

      I might ask Michael to now close the comments on this thread – because frankly your not making any Godly contribution to the discussion – except to truly highlight the truth of this article and how bonded you are to legalism and not the grace of Christ.

    • jin

      41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; … John 9

      30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, Acts 17

      Jesus only counts the sins that we understand and know. If a person grows up knowing only the doctrine that they were taught, I don’t think God would count that against him/her. So don’t be so judgemental to those that have a different doctrine. Be loving and gently guide them. Don’t persecute them. If that person is truly after the truth and truly wants to serve God, then God will in His own time show that person the truth. Once it is shown to Him in God’s time, it is up to that person to accept it or deny it.

      David, it is not up to you or me to judge and persecute. Only God can do it. And…He will do it. So just make sure that your doctrine is the truth. And make sure that you don’t grieve or deny the Holy Spirit by dogmaticlly sticking to your doctrine when He shows you the truth.

    • cherylu

      David,

      I would still like to know where that great multitude around the throne that no man can number is going to come from?

      You seem to have such an exclusive view of things and have stated somewhere on your own blog that God is saving only a few (I think you said “very few”?), that I really have to wonder how there could possibly be such a great and numberless throng worshipping in Heaven before the throne.

    • Gary Brown

      Michael Patton – I think this thread has value as an example of the mindset of theological legalism. It could be a good illustration if Credo House ever publishes something more indepth on the subject.

    • David Bishop

      Where do you get that a great multitude = everyone? Thousands of years counting so far, and all of God’s elect, and you don’t think they represent a great multitude? I can tell you there will be an even greater multitude who won’t be there.

    • David Bishop

      Of course you don’t, Gary. That’s because you’re lost and have not the mind of Christ.

    • cherylu

      David, I never once implied that the great multitude=everyone.

    • Gary Brown

      David – I wish you could see what a silly comic you are. Though you can’t comprehend this, I have had, since the age of 17 when Christ totally transformed my life, a relationship with Jesus. A living relationship that has grown day by day as I fellowship with Him and daily experience His grace.

      Sorry, pal, but one thing I am sure of is the saving blood of Jesus that is my only hope. And my hope is well founded not only on the promise of His Word but also on the inner witness of the Holy Spirit that I am His and He is mine.

      So while your words (“you’re lost!”) make me smile because they remind me just how faithful Christ is and how important the indwelling Spirit really is, they also make me sad because of how really warped, lonely and repellant you are. Repellant not to me, because I really do hope and pray you will escape the satanic bondage you’re in but repellant to a lost world who sees you and wants nothing to do with such a loveless caracature of “faith”.

    • cherylu

      David,

      What are you going to do with a testimony like Gary’s? Are you still going to insist that he is lost because he doesn’t believe the doctrine that you insist he must?

    • cherylu

      Greg,

      Did you get the message I sent to you on Facebook this a.m?

    • cherylu

      That means you got it, right? The question mark made me wonder. 🙂

    • cherylu

      Thanks Greg!

    • Gary Brown

      I hope no one here thinks that I’m defending Billy Graham’s pluralistic interview statments. I thought I made it clear that I did not. However, I refuse to condemn him – in fact I will stand with him – in the message he has publicly preached since the 1950’s – that Christ alone is our only hope and that only through repentance and trust in Christ can we be saved. I actually went to one of Billy Graham’s last crusades roughly 10 years ago and marveled at a small group of protestors holding signs proclaiming “Billy Graham is going to hell!” My thought was what a very sad witness to the lost that Graham himself was seeking to save.

      I’ve been a Christian for 37 years. I’ve seen every spurious theology out there – Word-Faith, theological liberalism, Mormonism (LOTS of witnessing), JW (LOTS of witnessing) as well as many other cults, even a lonely Krishna guy in an airport on the way back from Israel (who condemned me for eating meat).

      But my particular interest is the biographies of those who have changed the world for Christ. What I’ve found is that God refuses to be told where He can work or who He can save. That’s why the Holy Spirit can and sometimes does save someone at a Kenneth Copeland rally (whose theology I absolutely detest). I know many Catholics who I believe are saved, including the former President of the National Association of Evangelicals, Frank Beckwith.

      I personally draw the line at the essentials – the nature of God and the nature of salvation (grace alone, faith alone, through Christ alone). So how can I believe that some Catholics are Christians? Simple – often people in that context place their faith in Christ for salvation without subscribing overtly to the negative aspects of Catholic theology. This won’t satisfy David Bishop. But on that I truly don’t care. Christ is Lord and my hope is in Him alone.

    • Carrie J

      This nonsense is why I dont claim a specific faith. Its all over the board? Who can be right? I dont think any one has the whole truth anymore.

    • Lora

      Good point, Carrie J.

      Only the Lord holds the entirety of truth in His hand.
      Thank God that He is the only One who can truly judge us.

      When Bethel (the house of God) has become Babel (meaning confusion) then everyone speaks but no one listens.

      Then perhaps it is best for us to walk away…?

    • Carrie J

      Lora,
      Walking away is definately the easy approach but unfortunately the wrong answer. Removing ourselves from the situation does not remove ourselves from the responsibility that we have to find truth. God will still hold us accountable to is law and covenants. It is our responsibility to discover truth behind all of the confusion man and its organized religion has created.

    • Gary Brown

      Carrie,

      What none of us can escape is the brevity of life. Even atheists will agree that our time here on this planet is a nanosecond relative to eternity. So we can’t ignore God. We can deny Him but it really doesn’t make much sense to believe that time, space, energy, matter, order, complexity and information arose from nothing by chance.

      Sure, man (yes, and woman!) have certainly screwed things up, but the one certain hope we have is that by all accounts, the tomb is empty. The implications therein are overwhelming. And really, really good. I mean REALLY good. You’re right to be turned off to all the theological bickering – straining at gnats for the most part – but don’t lose sight of the big picture. Jesus loves you. He demonstrated it. And that changes everything.

    • Michael T

      It seems that the view of some here is that at the gates of heaven Christ is going to be standing there with a questionnaire that has 500 theological questions on it and if you get one wrong you are going to hell. Just as a matter of reason if this were the case the extraordinarily few are going to heaven. In fact if taken to the extreme probably only one person is going to heaven (if that) since I have never seen two people who have the exact same theological stances on everything.

      The question becomes how you can be so sure that your the one person in all of history who has answered correctly to all 500 questions. Oh I know I know, you’ve read the Bible and YOU REALLY believe what it says. Everyone else doesn’t really believe what the Bible says or is just pretending. Of course what you are really saying isn’t that the other people don’t believe what the Bible says, rather what you are saying is that they don’t believe what you believe the Bible says.

      So why so confident?? Oh I know, I know, because you were pre-destined, “elected” to believe the Truth and you have the Holy Spirit confirming for you the Truth. But wait a second the same God who predestined you to believe what you believe, also predestined those who don’t believe what you believe to believe what they believe. And they seem to or at least claim to experience the Holy Spirit telling them that what they believe is the Truth as well. Since you never made any independent free choice to believe what you believe why believe that what you believe is the Truth and not what they believe? It could just as easily be you who has been deceived into thinking that God determined that you believe the right things. It could just as easily be you who has been deceived into thinking they experience the genuine witness of the Holy Spirit. God predestines those who believe Truth and those who believe falsehood alike and predestines them to believe that they are right.

    • craig. bennett

      Greg Trib..

      I have thought in the past you were harsh. After reading through this thread, I have actually got where it is your coming from and why – compared to David, you really are extremely moderate… 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Btw, whats your email address?

    • C Michael Patton

      Sorry guys. I just read some of David’s increasingly ironic posts. He has been blacklisted for breaking the gentleness and kindness rule to a degree which I have never seen, Christian or non.

    • craig. bennett

      Thanks Michael. I too want to repent for my anger towards David on this thread and ask forgiveness for some of the words I used.

    • Gary Brown

      Michael – it’s your page and the administration of it is yours. But you might want to reconsider blacklisting David. I can’t speak for anyone else but he didn’t offend me in the least. In fact, his posts were very illuminating but probably not in the way he intended. How would I know your article actually had a reason for being written without David? He has a point of view that he is passionate about and in that passion, he got pretty pointed in his remarks. I did too. But it really doesn’t matter if someone tells me that I’m lost.

      Anyway, just a thought.

    • ralph schreiber

      As we strive (as in agony) to enter at the straight gate, words and others can lead us along other paths. Ex. in Matt. 7 the ‘have we not’ has an overtone of Moses giving water. Jesus said of himself he could do nothing–it is the Father who does the works.

    • Antoninus

      God looks at the heart, not the mind, or the smarter would have the advantage in getting to heaven.
      I know it is against your belief systems (and all our belief systems spring from our raising, our experience, our fears and hopes, betrayals and hurts, and our ability to love (which we are gifted at differently). God knows what we are, and why we are the way that we are. David is the way he is because of reasons we can’t fathom, and may be saved because he is sincere in his belief, unChristian though he appears in his angry and seemingly self-righteous posts, and as narrow and wrongheaded as his version of theology (i.e. doctrine, doctrine, doctrine) is. But he and I and everyone are only understood in our capacities and limits by God, who will judge us by His complete knowledge, love and understanding. None of us knows if we are saved; we believe it, we hope it, we fool ourselves into thinking it must be so. And maybe we are all right. But only God knows. Let us focus on our own imperfections, and try to understand that we can’t really understand who another is, other than a child of God, loved by God, redeemed if God judges us of being worthy of it through Jesus’ sacrifice and His knowledge of who and what we are.
      Sorry to go on so long, but my heart is breaking over what I’ve read here. We need to see each other a little more as God sees us, and as Jesus was willing to die for, and as the Holy Spirit is available to guide us if we, in humility and love, accept that guidance.

    • Antoninus

      My apologies if anything I said above was offensive to your theology or your feelings. It is right to try to correct brothers and sisters wandering off the path; but as was stated above, some of us get too adamant, and actually drive them off the path by showing them an ugly, judgmental face and making them defensive. Jesus forgave the good thief, who was in all likelihood a murderer; he did not, though, turn around and yell at the thief who mocked him “But you, sir, are going to hell!” Jesus was the perfect psychologist, Who understood the human heart (and its need for mercy and forgiveness) better than anyone else ever will. Try his system; it works.

    • Carrie J

      Antoninus,
      Wow! I completely agree with you. We cannot know if we will be saved or not until that judgement day. There are many denominations that claim they know the perfect formula on how to get god to save you. Go into any denomination and they will claim to have the ultimate translation, interpretation and understanding or gods word and yet they willall differ. The truth is that no one understands completely. Who can understand the mind of god? No one can. All we can do is obey gods laws the bwst that we can. Ask forgivess and repent where we fail. Pray that god will have mercy is areas that we lacked understanding and continue to endure to the end. We only will know what the true desire of our heart was on judgement day and god will judge correctly.

    • craig. bennett

      Carrie J. I believe we can know with certainty our salvation. Jesus said the Holy Spirit will convince us of our sin, convince us of the righteousness of Christ in forgiving us our sins and will convince us the devil is judged and condemned.

      Far to often I see Christians walking in condemnation of doubt and fear. If Christ says we are forgiven, then we are forgiven indeed.

      We need our hearts warmed to this by the Holy Spirit of God, who convinces us of the truth. We need the empowering of the Holy Spirit to tell the devil and his lies to rack off. And we need the continual infilling and presence of the Holy Spirit to enable us to live as he would have us.

    • cherylu

      Antonius an Carrie J,

      The apostle John certainly believed we can know that we are saved. He said, And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. I John 5:11-13

    • Jin

      We have been given the promise of salvation through His death. With faith, we believe in that promise. However, as Jesus has told us through many of His parables it is not something we can be complacent about. The parables of the Ten virgins and the parable of the unforgiving servant teach us that IF we don’t continue to abide in Christ, we CAN lose our salvation. Even Paul tells us so in Romans 11.

      For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. (Romans 11:21, 22 NKJV)

      Paul says that we CAN be CUT OFF!!

      So don’t let your guard down and think that you have been already saved. Complacency is what satan wants you to be. This allows his many temptations to creep in. Just leave your salvation to Jesus by continuing to abide in Him!

    • Gary Brown

      Greg – that was really funny. Good laugh.

    • James-the-lesser

      Let’s take a close look at Jesus’ methods of persuasion:
      He never condemned.
      John: 3:17: For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
      John: 8:10: When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
      John:8:11: She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
      He never enticed
      John:6:26: “Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. You only follow me for the loaves and fishes,” he said.
      Matthew13:58: “And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”
      He never made discipleship easy.
      Luke 19:16-30: To the Rich Young Ruler, he said, “Sale all you have and give to the poor, if you want to follow me.”
      He never coerced:
      Luke 9:52: “And [he] sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. 53: And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. 54: And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? 55: But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. 56: For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.”

    • Here I Link

      […] Legalism: Fourteen Characteristics of Theological Legalism. […]

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