Whole Counsel Theology

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Contemplating Christian Character in Correspondence

May our glorious God and Savior, Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, keep sin from me and guide me into righteousness. Please, Lord, make it so. Amen.[1]

Perhaps this post would be better titled, "A Cry for Prayerful Self Examination." I am a preacher, however, so perhaps alliteration runs strong with me.

Not that long ago, Dr. James White posted a video on his blog that challenged some claims Dr. Ergun Caner made on the Pastor's Perspective radio program (at least I think it is a radio program; perhaps it is a webcast; I am not sure) put out by Calvary Chapel. Dr. White called what Dr. Caner said about Reformed Apologists and their debates "dishonest," and Dr. White took what Dr. Caner said to be directed at him. Here is a link to the video if anyone is interested in viewing it; I would recommend it if, for no other reason, than it would give the appropriate information and background to what I am saying here.

Picking up on this video, Pastor Tim Rogers posted an article over at SBC Today here. The post seemed to take the form of a defense of Dr. Caner's credentials.[2]

Shortly after the post on SBC Today, Peter Lumpkins followed with this post.

There were many, many blog posts that were fired off from supporters of Caner and supporters of White; all of the supporters for these men claim the name of Christ.

Dr. White posted another article on his blog dealing with the issues on SBC Today and Peter Lumpkins' blog here, and then posted an article here, addressing Dr. Caner and the ongoing question about the statements Dr. Caner made regarding his own words in the videos Dr. White included in his own. In this last post by Dr. White (which includes a link to Caner's partial explanation, here), Dr. White presses Caner further with the issue of Caner's documented statements about many things, as well as wishes him success in opposing missional strategies that compromise the Gospel.

I write this blog post not to critique Dr. White, Dr. Caner, Peter Lumpkins, Tim Rogers, or anyone in particular. I write it so that we, as Christians, will be more inclined to critique ourselves.

I would encourage everyone reading this post to have a look at the comments sections of the SBC Today blog and Mr. Lumpkins' blog. Read through them, at least some of them, and I suspect you'll see the same thing I did. If you find yourself siding exclusively with one set of comments regardless of how they are presented (say, the Calvinists against the non-Calvinists, (which generally would be White's supporter against Caner's supporters), read this quote and look again:
Do not delight so much in a person's viewpoint that you become corrupted by an un-Christian spirit.
-- John Piper, from the audio of a sermon he preached on 1 Peter 2:13-17

I am of course not saying that we shouldn't take any kind of a position, or if you will, a side in such matters. I am not one opposed to correcting others, and as I've mentioned in my own rules for engagement, welcome correction to me if I am in error.

What prompted me to write this post was the manner in which people commented, which in many cases, clearly demonstrated an un-Christian spirit. From both sides there seems to have been a lack of gentleness in general, something that we most definitely ought to have toward one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Now, before reading any farther in this post, I want you to click this link and read the page in its entirety, including the link to Dan Phillips' post on TeamPyro in it, if you have not already done so. Yes, I know it is long, but it is important and quite worth your time, I assure you. Please be sure to read it and the rest of this post before commenting.

We Are a Sinful People

As a Reformed Baptist, and therefore a Calvinist, I claim to understand the horrid nature of man's depravity, and sin in general. All Christians, if they truly are Christians, understand sin enough to know that God hates it, and they needed to repent of it and have faith in Christ to be saved. Calvinists, by our own profession of doctrine, ought to understand it even more. Sin is a horrible, evil, permeating wickedness that is ever present, assailing us in a myriad of forms. We war against it constantly; it is a bitter enemy, and though it is true that in Christ we are continually gaining ground against it as the Spirit works sanctification in our lives, we must never grow slack in the battle against the flesh. Never be naive as to think that sin is not with us, looking over our shoulders, whispering in our ears, desiring to have us betray our Lord and Master at any moment. The apostle John said it well:
1 John 1:8
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

We should also remember that the Apostle Paul struggled against sin greatly, and I doubt any of us would claim a level of holiness equal with him.

Such a realization should give us pause, drive us to our knees, and cause us to cry out to God any time we open our mouths or allow our fingers to brush across a keyboard. We should ask and beseech our God and Savior, Jesus Christ, to keep us from sin and to grant us that we would show forth His majesty and wonder as we speak or write or do whatever, knowing our own tendency to do the opposite.

We Must Be Accurate in What We Address

Proverbs 18:13
If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.

I have this Bible verse printed out and hanging over my computer. It is a constant reminder to me when I am sitting at this machine, always admonishing me to have all of the facts about something before I make a statement about it. It reminds me that I need to be about asking questions about things when I am not sure before coming out with a statement that sounds like I am sure. All of us should hear, and hear well before giving an answer.

Anything less is a violation of Proverbs 18:13.

Anything less, therefore, is sin.

I truly think that we as human beings, even as Christians, are very prone to the error warned against in this simple proverb. We would all do well to ask a lot more questions before making statements about things or assuming something about an event or person. It would go a long way in avoiding offense, and even better, in avoiding sin.

Now, am I saying that Tim Rogers or Peter Lumpkins or James White or Ergun Caner or Tom Ascol or any of the dozens of commenters on those blogs are guilty of this violation -- this sin?

Let's just say, given my own failures in this area, it wouldn't surprise me if that were the case with much of what was said. Further, for those who are not guilty of it in this situation, not a one of them, if they are honest with themselves and humble before God, wouldn't appreciate this reminder to remain steadfast against this sin and others; I shall trust that is how my post will be taken.

So then I ask, no, plead with anyone reading this post who has any kind of public ministry, whether it be in a blog or elsewhere: war against sin! Think twice, even a third time before you speak. Honoring our God by obeying His Word and loving our brothers and sisters is our highest priority.

May God grant us grace to obey Him,
David B. Hewitt


1. I hope such is the prayer for us all as we dare to enter into the blogosphere as Christians. How easy it is to stumble.

2. Whether or not the video Dr. White produced had anything to do with Dr. Caner's credentials is irrelevant to my post, so I won't go into it.

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