Liberal Theology

by Mike Ratliff

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 ESV)

In 1980 I moved from the Washington, D.C. area to a suburb of Oklahoma City to take a new job. I was 29 years old and thought I was a Christian because of my on again, off again religiosity. I was single and a political liberal. I was also very close to being a libertine. Sometime during that year I remember reading in The Daily Oklahoman newspaper about a Southern Baptist pastor in Oklahoma City who was one of the leaders in a movement in the Southern Baptist Convention to bring in a more moderate stance on theology and Biblical inerrancy. His name was Gene Garrison. He was at that time the pastor of First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City.

I was not a Christian then, but for some reason I followed the news about the struggle in the SBC between the forces of liberalism and conservatism during the convention that year. When the convention was over, the coverage in the paper was very sympathetic towards Garrison and his liberal colleagues because they had been censured by the convention and literally blackballed from holding any committee leadership positions in the convention. Over the next several years Garrison and other liberals continued to try to gain control of the convention, but eventually gave up.

I was saved in 1986 and for the next 19 or so years was a member of conservative SBC churches in the OKC, Tulsa, and Kansas City areas. Christian Liberals were seen as confused, worldly people who would eventually overwhelm all of the Christian denominations. In the mean-time, we just had to make sure that we did not succumb to it. The struggles seemed far away and not something to be concerned about as long as we stood firm.

Things have changed. It seems that Satan has changed his tactics. Instead of attacking churches with obviously liberal theology that is easy to see as the product of “higher criticism” and apostate Christian wannabes, the new push is to meld the same Liberal Theological package with the Social Gospel and Secular Humanism. Then have it sold by the likes of Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

After I watched this video of former US President Bill Clinton I had some discussions with some of my friends and fellow writers for CRN. I asked them to pray for me as I did some research into this. For some reason listening to Clinton speak of Christianity from his liberal viewpoint caused me much heartache. This post is the first in a series of articles about the stealing of the Church by those like Carter, Clinton, Campolo, Gore, Warren, and McLaren. In this post I intend to contrast true, orthodox Christianity from the Liberal version.

The line of demarcation between genuine Christianity and Liberal Christianity is actually very easy to see and understand. Jesus said that He is the way, the truth and the life, No one comes to the Father, but by Him. The exclusivity of genuine Christianity is not only the line of demarcation, but it also the point of contention between liberals and genuine Christians. From this exclusivity flows the doctrines that define our faith. These doctrines tell us that God is Sovereign, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent and immutable. They tell us that He gave us His Word which is perfect and inerrant. They tell us that all who believe God, trusting in the work of Christ dying on the cross for our sins that we shall have eternal life. They tell us that all whom believes and trusts God are saved by grace through faith. They are regenerated into new creations unto good works and are given the Holy Spirit. They tell us that we are commanded to evangelize the world, making disciples until our Lord returns.

However, Liberal theology’s contention starts at this line of demarcation. Liberals proudly tell us that they are free thinkers and open minded. The following is a quote directly from the Mainstream Baptists web page:

“We are not narrow-minded, dogmatic, legalistic or anti-intellectual. We believe that all truth is God’s truth and we are open to discovering truth by scientific inquiry, philosophic reasoning, and human experience.

We humbly recognize that ultimate Truth is beyond human conceptualization (Isaiah 55:8), that Truth is ultimately personal (John 14:6), and that we must depend upon the guidance of God’s Spirit to discern truth (John 16:13).”

The implication is that if one is not a liberal Christian then he or she is narrow-minded, dogmatic, legalistic and anti-intellectual. Is it narrow-minded and dogmatic to believe what the Bible teaches? If you watch the Clinton video then you know that he is a liberal and does not believe Christians can know the truth from the Word of God. This is essentially what this statement from Mainstream Baptists is saying. They claim that God did not stop revealing the truth to Man after Revelation. They refuse to see the Bible as the ultimate truth. They elevate scientific inquiry, philosophic reasoning, and human experience above the Bible. They believe that Christians must respect all other religions because faith is personal. In other words, my truth is my truth, but not necessarily anyone else’s truth.

What did Jesus say again?

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 ESV)

Yes, this statement by our Lord stands in face of all liberal thought that seeks to define any other way to God except through Him.

As I researched this piece I kept running into a great deal of liberal religious sounding verbiage pertaining to the Bible and faith. On one hand they do affirm that the Bible is God’s word, but that it cannot be understood or explained by people. They say it is just paper and ink, and it is, but it can become manifest in the heart of believers as the living Word, Jesus Christ. On one hand they praise the Bible, but then they refuse to listen to anyone try to teach them from it. They gladly accept “higher criticism” that stretches their faith though. Higher criticism does not stretch my faith. I see the “higher critics” as unbelievers who are tools of the enemy bent of destroying our faith. Therefore, I do not listen to them.

Religious liberty is a very important topic for Christian Liberals. Here is quote from the Mainstream Baptists page about that:

“Religious Liberty is the nursing mother of all liberty. Without it all other forms of liberty must soon wither and die. The Baptists grasped this conception of liberty in its full-orbed glory, from the very beginning. Their contention has been, is now, and must ever be, that it is the God-given and indefeasible right of every human being, to worship God or not, according to the dictates of his conscience; and, as long as he does not infringe on the rights of others, he is to be held accountable to God alone, for all his religious beliefs and practices.”

That sounds very American doesn’t it? However, what happens is that they claim that our teaching on the exclusivity of the Gospel and genuine Christianity is a polemic to Religious liberty. The page from where I copied this quote has an icon on it that contains a cross, a star of David, a Muslim sword and crescent, and other non-Christian symbols in it. What are they saying with this statement and that graphic? Aren’t they saying that the very words of Christ from John 14:6 are not true?

We must not force Christianity down anyone’s throat, but we had better make sure that we are preaching the truth as God commands, not some liberal version of it that basically says, “I’m ok, you’re ok!” In other words, they do not preach the real gospel, but preach the social gospel about ethics, the environment, racial issues, aids, gay rights, ecumenicalism, religious freedom, environmentalism, and social activism. They will never teach about the cross and Hell.

In the last chapter of this age the world will be dominated by one religious system. The only people who will be excluded from it will be those who hold to Jesus words, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Liberal theology has been transformed into a sellable package that will fool a large number of people and entice nominal Christians to abandon their preconceived “faith” and move over to one that is “open-minded.” There are no “doctrines” in this form of Christianity. There are no requirements of repentance, but there are for social activism and liberal causes.

The liberals use their “human reason” to attack the faith of genuine Christians the same way atheists do. In the last year or so I have had some very interesting encounters with emergents, liberals, atheists, neo-pagans, and apostates. The first three use the same tactics. It is all about reason and not about faith. The Liberal version of Christianity is all about people and their fulfillment. Genuine Christianity is all about God and His people becoming conformed to His will for His glory.

Soli Deo Gloria

75 thoughts on “Liberal Theology

  1. And in addition to those men and movements that you mentioned, there is another aspect of this liberal watershed. It is the astounding malaise and indifference and even blissful ignorance of what is taking place by the average professing Christian, the rank and file. I believe one reason is that the bar of what it means to be a Christian is so low that many are not saved while others have no idea that their “walk” is so shallow because everyone lives like they do and their preacher makes them feel good.

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  2. Hi Mike,
    I am not really sure if there is a point in responding to your post. You seem to have clearly delineated your beliefs and hedged them tightly within a circle of certainty. I say that not to be offensive but to state my instinct about the real possibility of a conversation (where two or more people openly and safely share possibly conflicting ideas) vs. a monologue, regardless of how many participate. So, with that said, I leave your response to God’s guiding spirit.

    You are a fundamentalist. However, per your description of “liberals” so are they. Fundamentalism, best defined in my opinion by Peter Rollins in “How (Not) To Talk of God” is not what you believe (correct doctrines) but how you believe what you believe. If how you believe determines that no one else can possibly be right, regardless of the content of that belief, you fall within the fundamentalist definition. This applies across the spectrum of beliefs systems, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, atheist, etc. If one cannot, while holding to one’s beliefs, still acknowledge fully that I just might be, and probably am, wrong, then fundamentalism is the product. Conversation is never the product of fundamentalism. Monologue, in the form of preaching, screaming, demeaning, or violence, is always the result. Second, when anyone casts their beliefs as the “orthodox” approach, they immediately fall into idolatry. Belief systems become what we believe in as opposed to what they attempt to point to, the mystery of God, then yours or my belief (doctrine) is just another form of idolatry.

    I would disagree strongly that “liberal” Christians have no doctrines and only rely on reason as opposed to faith. I fear your experiences have been either very limited or colored by a presupposition as to what some who is different than you believes.

    By the way, your use of the verse stating “I am the way, the truth, etc.” is incorrect. Look at the entire context of the verse. Jesus is telling his disciples, after Thomas says they don’t know the way (to heaven), Jesus is pointing out that if you want to see heaven, look at my way, my teachings, my example of life. This is all you need.

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  3. And just to further illustrate the ambivalence in the congregation whenever I have asked people if they have heard of these different movements they usually say “no” and are very uninterested even when I share some of the more startling theogical issues. This is do to three major principle:

    First – the average preacher has not fully discipled his congregation on doctrinal issues.

    Second – Because of that the average church member has no perspective by which to discern truth verses error.

    Third – The average professing believer is so consumed with his own life he has no time to seek God and His truth and he doesn’t consider it important.

    These things are self replicating within the church which is why our ministry is not primarily to call strayers back (most will not come back), but our small oice is to help believers stand fast against what will only get worse.

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  4. Well recycledchristian, you are incorrect. Jesus was not telling Thomas to live like He did and he would find his way to Heaven. I did not take it out of context. He was telling His disciples that HE is the way to the Father. Jesus also made this point very clear in John 6.

    You have no idea what genuine Faith is do you?

    The Liberals I know very well and debate quite often decry doctrine. They minimize it. They may say they have doctrine here and there, but they push it to the rear and live according to the social gospel instead, such as your insinuation that that is what Jesus was talking about.

    You are right about one thing. You and I could never converse about this.

    In Christ

    Mike Raltiff

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  5. How terribly sad. I never decry anyone believing differently than myself, only when they demand that I must follow lock-step in line with them. To say that we could never converse only further pushes people apart. You only have to look across the world to the Middle East and see the results of not conversing. When people talk a remarkable thing happens. That other, that “person” who I demonized and made into nothing more than an object, suddenly becomes a subject. I am no longer talking ABOUT the person or group that I disagree with but am talking TO them. Suddenly it becomes very, very hard to flame someone in a blog or throw a bomb.

    The opposite of faith is not doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty.

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  6. Well, I always welcome anyone wishing me the best, if that is what you mean by pity. I don’t know that of course since pity more often is the result of an arrogant view of the other. Was it pity that drove early missionaries into non-Christian cultures (a desire for only the best of those cultures) or an arrogance that always resulted in the destruction of their world? Was it pity that sent Jesus into the proverbial lion’s den and his death? I guess that depends on how you and I respond. Fundamentalism drives to erase all other beliefs, all other voices, all others. Jesus walked, ate, conversed, and yes, died, for the other. What about you?

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  7. recycledchistianity,

    What about me what?

    I used the word pity to convey that I am really sorry that you have rejected the truth and must bear the consequences for doing so.

    As far as me trying to silence others. No, I don’t do that. However, I do tell the truth as a warning to others about false apostles, false teachers, false preachers, false Christian leaders. Why? Because we are told to do so. Truth is not fluid. It does not change. Truth is truth. Jesus said He is the truth. Therefore, anyone who takes what He taught and abuses it has revealed that they are not in His truth.

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  8. Truth is a heavy burden to bear my friend. I know that I don’t have it, only truth with a small “t.” The idea of truth with a capital “T” seems to be only within the province of God.

    Regarding consequences, your Calvinism is showing. But I would end this response (conversation) with this question. Isn’t it odd, considering Jesus says we are to always forgive (70X7 means without ceasing) without them going and taking the offense out on someone else, yet God seems unable to do the same?

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  9. recycledchristianity,

    I have His grace so that I can bear it. God is just and must judge all sin because of that. If He didn’t then He would violate His own character, which He will not do. He provided THE WAY to not experience His wrath through the Son on HIS TERMS, not yours or mine. Those who trust in Him and believe Him through faith by His grace are saved. No one else is. Now why would you suggest, or demand, that we don’t share this good news with everyone?

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  10. Maybe the best answer from me is to ask you how you come to your conclusions and interpretations of Christianity? Nothing appears from a vacuum, so I can only surmise that your history had determined the acceptance of this one interpretation of Jesus and the Gospel. (you did know that there have been, historically, quite a few attempts at explaining Jesus’ death and resurrection and the penal substitution theory, which you are advocating, didn’t appear until about year 1000?)

    I noticed you like Jeremy Camp’s song “Walk by Faith.” “I will walk by faith even though I cannot see.” The opposite of faith isn’t doubt (or not seeing) but certainty.

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  11. It seems odd to me that my comment before has been moderated. This behavior from you, Mike, really plays into how you seem to avoid or blindly reject anything that counters your paradigm.

    I had no idea a “Amen, recycledchristian,” would be moderated.

    To me, the base element of recycledchristian’s argument is that your liberal theology post does not make any attempt to understand why these “liberals” think in the way they do. Belief of a system — this is not necessarily a comment on Christianity — cannot be fully achieved without conceding that “hey, there might be something else out there and let’s find out what it is.”

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  12. “Isn’t it odd, considering Jesus says we are to always forgive (70X7 means without ceasing) without them going and taking the offense out on someone else, yet God seems unable to do the same?”

    God answers to no one and our understanding is severely limited. Questioning the justice of God is eternally dangerous that comes with eternal consequences.

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  13. KLwhatever,

    I have no idea what you are rambling about. AKISMET probably spammed you. Did you read my post? Obviously not. If you had you would know that it is an introduction to a series. In it I am simply contrasting Liberal Theology from Orthodox theology. Your last statement is anti faith and would be foolish on my part to address.

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  14. recylcedchristianity,

    I was given my faith by the Grace of God. How can I explain that to an unbeliever like you so that you could understand it? The faith I have is independent of man-made religion. I will walk by faith even when I cannot see because I trust (remember my previous comment?) Him. The opposite of faith is rebellion which breeds doubt. Certainty that I have is rooted in my faith. You are very confused.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  15. Come on, recycled. That’s a load of hogwash. Thomas says “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus response is “I AM the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would also have known my Father also. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
    You say that Jesus is point out if you want to see heaven, “look at my way, my teachings, my example of life.” Is that out of the Message paraphrase or recycledchristian’s paraphrase. Jesus is saying in CONTEXT, I am the way (to heaven), I am the truth (Truth that can be known, among other things that He and the Father are one and knowable. Truth that there is a real place that He is going to, and that He really is preparing places for them.), and I am the life (in the context of going where He is going, he speaks of Eternal Life!!!, also that as stated in the first chapter “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.)
    You said:
    —–If how you believe determines that no one else can possibly be right, regardless of the content of that belief, you fall within the fundamentalist definition. This applies across the spectrum of beliefs systems, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, atheist, etc. If one cannot, while holding to one’s beliefs, still acknowledge fully that I just might be, and probably am, wrong, then fundamentalism is the product.—–
    I would dare say that my brother Mike would be the first to admit he does not know everything about God, the scriptures, etc. And that there are, for lack of a better word, non essentials that he may be incorrect about. But he, along with any other sound teacher/preacher cannot, should not, and will not, concede that they may be wrong about the “essentials”. Those core beliefs that are not open to opinion or discussion. Truth can be known, as Jesus said. The apostles were very convinced of what they PREACHED, not conversed, when they said that “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” These men were CERTAIN, Uncompromising, Convinced of what they knew to be true and right. Never in all of their accounts do you hear them talking about how they could possibly be wrong about some of what they say, so “let’s have a conversation about it and find out, if possible, what the truth is.”
    You talk about they “mystery of God”. Great, Paul talked of it too. Did you know, nearly ever time Paul spoke of a mystery, he explained it. And we he didn’t, if read in context, you can see that at some prior time he must have explained it, because he assumes his audience knows what he is talking about.
    Beliefs can only become idolatry two ways. One is that if those beliefs are concerning something that isn’t God and yet are held at a higher respect and reverence than God, or if the beliefs that are of God are not true, but those that hold to it insist they are.
    The belief that all men are sinful and deserving of God’s wrath is something to hold to because it is scriptural and to hold to that is to also hold to the right view of a holy and righteous God who has spoken Truth through His Word.
    There are beliefs that are worth standing and dying for because it HONORS Almighty God.

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  16. I’m rambling about your inability to get your head around anything but your own convoluted, blind belief. Your reactionary statement was another testament to that sad fact.

    I took the time to address your rubbish. Respond to this question: have you ever truly taken a look at any religion besides your own?

    And please don’t quote your scripture, just address the question.

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  17. Klo516, You could not have read my post. If you had then you would see where I described myself before I was a Christian. It was in the first paragraph, you know, the one at the top…

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  18. “The opposite of faith is not doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty.”

    If I have faith in your truthfulness, then I trust what you say and I have certainty that you are telling the truth. Faith and certainty go hand in hand.

    If I doubt your truthfulness, the I am uncertain about the statements you make and I have no faith in your truthfulness. Faith is the opposite of doubt.

    faith (fth)
    n.
    1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.

    doubt (dout)
    n.
    1. A lack of certainty that often leads to irresolution. See Synonyms at uncertainty.

    It’s difficult to have a conversation when you change the meaning of words.

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  19. Mike,
    You have spoken well for me, brother. “Recycled” seems to be lacking in one thing we are exhorted to obtain in the scriptures……the fear of God. We all like to think about the love of God, but it is also the fear of God (our maker) that compels us to seek to do his will, as well as the love of God. Eternal consequences are pretty clearly spelled out for those who have eyes to see (read) in the Bible. If we choose not to accept these consequences as realistic, and we want to be PC by saying that we’ll leave it up to God to sort out, then we can come off as being “Open-Minded”, and “Loving”, and maybe “Liberal” as a Christian. In doing this we are taking no responsibility for the knowledge placed in our hearts by the reading of the Word of God.

    I would rather at least put forth the view that a person is on dangerous ground as he leans out over the cliff, rather than let it all be “sorted” out by God in the end, as it would be my certain (truth) belief that just one or two more steps will leave the person airborne for a very brief flight, along with the undeniable failure that contending with gravity is sure to bring.

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  20. Jordon, I am not really sure where to begin, or if it would be of any value. Your understanding of scripture is naturally very contextually influenced (modernity, calvinism, colonialism) that to explore the context in which Jesus spoke, and frankly, the writers of the synoptic gospels, may be a wasted effort. This is again another example of fundamentalism. You faith is in your interpretation which is understandably created within a complex pool of experiences and learning. A simple example. Jesus spoke Aramaic. The writers of the gospels did not write in Aramaic, but rather Greek. The very well known issue of translating one culture’s language, with its many levels of implied knowledge, into another very different language in and of itself creates “unknowing.” We do not know exactly what Jesus said, even when we place faith in the Greek scriptures. (none of the accepted gospels were written prior to C.E. 70 so that alone creates a challenge in content)

    Be very careful about interpreting Jesus though the eyes of Paul. It is very clear that Paul knew little and cared less about Jesus’ life. For Paul it was all about the resurrection (another word grossly misinterpreted). The gospels, in Paul’s day, were nothing more than a collection of stories, mostly in an oral tradition, with probably a written down collection of sayings of Jesus. True, the disciples, and yes, including Paul, were very certain about what they believed in Jesus. I fear however that few if any current advocates of the Christian faith actually understand what they believed.

    Finally, I believe your statement about beliefs and idolatry misses the mark completely. You imply that therefore we can hold the “only true” beliefs about God, thus avoiding idolatry. This contradicts itself, as God is truly unknowable. (we see through a glass dimly) Our beliefs must always be called into question, not just for content, but for our willingness to acknowledge that God must be far, far better than the best “belief” about God. However this reduces God to an object for consideration, for in faith God is experienced as the ultimate subject. God is not a theoretical problem to somehow resolve but rather a mystery to participate in. (How (Not) To Speak of God-Rollins, pg. 22)

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  21. recycled,

    Well, well, well, what have here? The New Perspective on Paul is nothing but Liberal Theology’s attempt to cast doubt on Biblical inerrancy and destory the faith of many. The Gospel of Mark was written prior to AD 70. Get your facts straight if you are going to discuss this. Konine Greek was the language of the culture in the first century. The people then were multi-lingual, and that would include Jesus and His apostles.

    Are there mysteries about God. Yes! Do we know all about Him and the Spiritual realm? No! However, scripture gives us all we need to know about both in order to know God, worship Him and live for His glory.

    You quote: Our beliefs must always be called into question, not just for content, but for our willingness to acknowledge that God must be far, far better than the best “belief” about God. However this reduces God to an object for consideration, for in faith God is experienced as the ultimate subject. God is not a theoretical problem to somehow resolve but rather a mystery to participate in. (How (Not) To Speak of God-Rollins, pg. 22)

    So who cares what Rollins thinks? This man knows nothing of the truth. If he did then he would not be in doubt.

    Liberal Theology is nothing but unregenerate people’s attempt to come to grasps with Christianity. They cannot understand it so they assume that no one else can either. Pathetic and pitiable.

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  22. Mike,
    Hmmm, Sounds like something I heard from my own brother. Impossible to even discuss truth with someone who calls the word of God, inerrant. Then they always throw in all the great books they have read and quote them instead of the Bible. My brother isn’t following any religion,( he thinks.) Just some Hindu, New Age, all relative mumbo jumbo. They are broad minded which is the wide road.

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  23. 1. “recycled ‘s” name says it all. Same point was made in Geneis 3:5
    2. The opposite of faith is fear, ” I don’t kniow anything for certain; Can we know for sure?; God’s word can’t be trusted so I rely on myself and my own wonderful thoughts and feelings. Has God indeed said?”
    3. All who are His, have not been given a spirit of fear.
    4. Your wretched eisegesis makes Paul out to be liar since he says he spent time with Jesus in the 3rd heaven.
    5. Your wretched eisegesis butchers Jesus’ own words.
    6. Rich Freuh is arminian in his pov and he doesn’t agree with you either. Does anyone tire of “the Reformation is bad” blather? You would not be able to state your pathetic opinion here, if it had not been for the reformers.
    7. I am not a calvinist/fundamentalist as you define it. I agree with the Word. You are stating that the Word is untrustworthy.You are wrong.
    8. Your objective is to cast doubt which is the fruit of fear. Therefore you are not a man of faith, and you are imminently unqualified to speak on anything concerning Yahweh and his Word. hsssssss

    Hebrews 11:
    1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

    That oh foolish man is certainty. Even if I am not holding it with my own two hands of flesh, I still possess it.
    May God help you.

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  24. This is a good object lesson. A sinner cannot be reached if he is not seeking and he will not seek on his own. Our words are not the Spirit and the modern day Warren’s believe that through many words men can be persuaded. Even as an Arminian, when I hear words like those from recycled it becomes obvious he is representing not seeking and only prayer is appropriate.

    As our Lord said, “If you were blind you would have no sin, but now you say “We see”, therefore you sin remains.”

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  25. One: nothing I said is new. This information has been widely accepted by anyone with more than a high school diploma from Billy Bob’s Bible School for many, many years.

    Two: I assume you have some double-secret knowledge as to the writing of Mark, which has been clearly established as the earliest of the synoptic Gospels. If you have substantial evidence other than the circular reasoning of the statement “the bible says it so it must be so” then I welcome your facts. Jesus was a peasant, and by that I mean illiterate. There is absolutely no evidence other than your desperate claims that he spoke or understood Greek. We can debate the apostles but considering the scant knowledge we have of their history, it is also highly doubtful they understood Greek either.

    Deborah, might I suggest you talk less and listen more. Maybe even pick up a book and read it. Closed minds always go sour.

    When asked if I would rather deal with an “inerrant” Bible or “inerrant” Pope, I will have to take the Pope. He talks less.

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  26. It would seem from scripture that Paul probably had a pretty good handle on Jesus’ life. You know, what from have that certain experience on the damascus road and all. Come to think of it, wasn’t it Paul who said “be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”?
    I could be wrong though…. does that mean we can continue the conversation? I find it interesting that the same thing the Mormon church teaches about how they alone have the true gospel, that all others up until that point had been corrupt…. sounds awfully similar to the likes of liberal and/or emerging rhetoric.
    Ultimately, these sorts of discussions are mostly fruitless, because one side holds to the inerrancy, infallibility, sufficiency of scripture, and the other side doesn’t. It’s easier to witness to your general non believer, than to debate with a professing christian who doesn’t hold to that doctrine.

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  27. Well Brian

    One: Just because there have always been liberal theologians and apostates who spew forth these things “for many years and are nothing new” means nothing. They are still of the the original lie from Satan in Genesis 3- Hath God said?

    Two: I have studied theology for many, many years and am a Bible teacher. I have no special knowledge that other genuine believers don’t have. Jesus read from the scroll in the synogogue in Nazareth so He was not illiterate. He conversed with Pilate in Greek because that was the language of his court.

    The Gospels and the Epistles were written by dictation for the most part. These men most certainly knew Greek. Paul was a first line intellectual of his day. But to accuse our Lord of being an illiterate peasant is beyond stupid. He is God and knows all things.

    Leave my friend Deb alone. If you wish to accuse her then you will have to go through me and I do have the Holy Spirit.

    Your last statement is the very one Tyndale was dealing with in the apostate RC priests of his day. Fools of a feather flock together.

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  28. This little dialogue has been quite fun. Not in a “fun like a root canal” fun, but more like the morbid fun of watching a car wreck. You know you shouldn’t be drawn to it but somehow just can’t help yourself. I won’t bother myself with an attempt to “educate” (not my job), illuminate (God’s job) or even convince any of the somewhat inarticulate posters. No, I encourage you to continue in your faith. Hold tight. Don’t let go. But I think that over time you will find that it is kinda like trying to hold on real tight to a handful of sand.

    Forgive if anything was taken as an offense. I have spent enough time here and actually must get back to my real job, ministry in the Kingdom of God.

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  29. You are right Jordan. I walked 4 to 5 miles today at lunch. I prayed and grieved much over this “conversation.” The accuser was really letting me have it. I have learned to discern his voice though. When I got back I asked God if we are doing this right. Yes indeed! We are standing for the truth and not falling or running from the fiery darts of the enemy. So, let us not give in to the lies or the pressure to conform.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  30. Brian,

    This is my blog. I allowed you to comment. That made you my guest. You were the one exposing us to your arrogance.

    Your pathetic grasp of faith is very telling, you don’t have any so how could you possibly be working in the ministry in the Kingdom of God. You may have the title pastor or whatever, but you most certainly are not working in His Kingdom.

    Genuine faith is not something I cling to desperately. It is where I live all day every day. I trust God and believe Him. I have no idea what you could be trusting in.

    Keep your education. I will put mine and my friends biblical knowledge up against your “education” any day.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  31. Wow……..leave for a half a day and come back to read our favorite blogs and what an eye opener! Darts are going every which way!! Not just on your blog Mike, but seems the enemy is targeting all the solid Biblical true sites. Hang in there, but don’t let them frazzel you to much. Thats what they love to do. In fact, they get a real kick out of it. I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction. It is interesting to see how they operate though. One tactic they use that never seems to change and thats a play on words………its as old as Genesis.

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  32. 1 Corinthians 1:18-19
    Christ the Wisdom and Power of God
    18For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written,

    “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
    and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

    1 Corinthians 2:14
    14The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
    2 Corinthians 4:3-
    3And even if our gospel is veiled,(H) it is veiled only to those who are perishing. 4In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
    1 John 4:4-6
    4Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

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  33. Pingback: On Liberal Theology « Jesus Christology

  34. recycled Brian said:
    “I have spent enough time here and actually must get back to my real job, ministry in the Kingdom of God.”

    At the risk of sounding “unchristian”, this guy is fortunate that we weren’t in the same room for this “conversation”

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  35. Wow, Mike, keep up the good work!

    John 12:37-40
    But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke:
    “ Lord, who has believed our report?
    And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?”
    Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again:
    “ He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts,
    Lest they should see with their eyes,
    Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
    So that I should heal them.”

    Sometimes, we just have to let it go.

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  36. Mike, Isn’t it a blessing to be used by God so much, you are constantly under attack by Satan?! You are in my prayers; as the wide road ever broadens and increases in popularity, let us stand firm in God’s word and always pray for discernment-which is vital in these latter times. Those who possess head knowledge are on the prowl, looking for true believers to pick theological fights with. I feel this is Satan trying to distract and wear down the body of Christ. These words of Christ ring so true in this time, “Many are called, few are chosen”. By the way, great article, God bless you!!!

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  37. One more thing, John 14:6 commands the exclusivity of Christ, the narrow way, if you will. Your response was accurate and right on target. I am amazed how one can be a ‘liberal’ and a ‘christian’ and the same time!! The way is narrow, and with good reason. I praise God for the wisdom, knowledge, and discernment He gives me each day; it’s posts like those from recycled that enable me to see just how blessed I am.

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  38. Pingback: Faith Grace and Certainty « Possessing the Treasure

  39. Mike,

    Just let the idolator be handed over to his idolatry. That is the only way that he can be saved. You have done a great job with presenting the gospel. The truth is offensive to those who are perishing, and his responses indicate that he is offended by the unshakeable truth.

    Josh

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  40. Save me! Please save me!

    Oh hell, if I have to spend eternity with such bores I’ll take the devil. At least he/she is interesting.

    Pity you won’t be spending your eternity with the Jesus of your faith. He would be a bore also.

    Like

  41. Pingback: Two Out of Seven « Clupeiforum

  42. Wow!

    Like Paul, I left for a little while and came back to a ‘hissing’ fit.

    Satan and his followers may bruise our (the Church) heel, but Christ will crush the head of the serpent, and all his “snake in the grass” followers.
    ————————————————————————————————————————
    The quotes below are not quotes from me, but from various places that I have saved – they speak clearly concerning any false gospel, for no matter the label, the title, or the popularity – the root of it all and the result is the same.
    __

    “With this kind of utter distortion already in place, how much further
    in the future, how soon is the coming of Jesus Christ? “..when the Lord
    Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire
    taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not
    obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2Th1:7-8)

    “They strive to attain unto deity, through themselves, without Christ. Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (Jn14:6) When they are “getting past” Christ, they are not reaching to God, because “there is no other name (than Jesus)…by which we need to be saved” (Acts4:10,12) To be sure, they -will- bow before Jesus, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow..” (Phil2:10) But that will be just before their own names are found missing from the Book of Life, and they are cast into an -absolute/certain- “Lake of Fire”. (Rev20:15) “..where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched..” (Mk9:44)

    “You know…I betcha satan must be going crazy over us who are Real Believers…because, no matter how ‘cleverly’ he disguises his counterfeits, when we are in God’s Word, eventually the Truth wins out, and he is exposed. Sometimes, in the case of his prophets who proclaim 99.999% truth, it takes several years. But -eventually- it becomes known that “none of them were of us”. (1Jn2:19) It’s like Jesus said, “to deceive, IF POSSIBLE, the elect”. (Mt24:24) Satan tries, but he can’t -quite- get us… because we are the fulfillment of God’s mystery since the beginning. Satan could corrupt the rest, but he cannot touch us, because we are the “righteousness of God in [Christ]”. (2Cor5:21)

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  43. Watch it recylce, your foolishness is showing. You are the epitome of Romans 1:21 and 2 Timothy 3:7. Your mocking tone and foolish words only reveal how dark your heart really is.

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  44. Actually, it seems Chris is pretty dark. His comments almost sounded like a physical threat.

    Unfortunately humor, especially sophisticated humor such as sarcasm, seems to be in very short supply in your camp of back-slapping congratulators.

    Tell you what though. Enough of the throwing scripture around to justify a belief that someone else can argue against with the same scripture. I sense, and please correct me if this is so, that you, or some of your crowd, base your complete interpretation of the Bible on its literal inerrancy. Am I correct?

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  45. That is actually a great question. I sense an attempt at a trap but nonetheless, here goes.

    Sovereign: Complete control and rights over, in this case, all of creation. Since we both agree that God is the source of creation, then both of us would agree God has sovereign rights over creation. The question that then arises is does God exercise those rights? That ties cleanly with Omnipotent, or all power. The very early Hebrews certainly didn’t believe God was omnipotent; this came later. But back to the question-does God exercise the rights of a sovereign and omnipotent deity? Well, if God does, then this raises many, many uncomfortable questions. “If God is all powerful then why did he allow my child to die?” “If God is all powerful then why did he allow the holocaust, Darfur, the tornadoes last week in the south?” “If God is all knowing why did he allow….?” (Omniscient) The simplistic answer “It’s God will.” just will not cut it any more. It might within your crowd, but I work with many people who have seen and experienced too much pain for an answer that feels glib.

    Immutable,or unchanging. Well, I would say that while God is immutable our understanding of God is not. If that is not so then how to you account for Psalm 137 where God, in the context of Israel under captivity and destruction, advocates children (little ones) killed by “dashing them against the rock.”?

    Omnipresent: everywhere at once. Yes.

    Much of these attributes bleed into Christian understandings directly from Greek philosophy. Not a one to one of course, but the influence was very strong. Trying to understand how Jews, 2000 years ago and earlier, believed is the real tricky part.

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  46. recycle,

    How we view God is key to whether we believe men or Him.

    If you have read all of my articles or at least some of them then you probably know that my view of God’s Sovereignty is that it is absolute. If He is not sovereign over all then He isn’t sovereign. No, there is no area of creation that He is not sovereign.

    The rest of those attributes are all understood to be absolute as well. Any other view would be people attempting to force their own standards for God upon Him.

    Your other hypothetical questions such as, “If God is all powerful then why did he allow my child to die?” are not valid. Why? God always does right. He is perfectly Righteous so He does not sin. He never does injustice. Well then how can there be evil in the world, how can their be sickness and death? Right? Isn’t this the question? Well, all of those are products of the fall. (Genesis 3) We are fallen people living in a fallen world.

    No one is righteous except God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He is just and all sin will be judged by Him. All sin! That is why Jesus went to the Cross as the propitiation for the Elect. He was the substitute. He experienced God’s wrath against their sin. These elect are called by God effectually. They believe and trust God’s promises because of their new birth, ie their faith made alive by God’s grace. God imputes the Righteousness of Christ to them. They are Justified by faith.

    Are these people perfect now? Nope. They still are in their flesh living in a fallen world. The rest of their lives are spent in the sanctification process. This is what you are describing. These bad things that happen to “good people.” Bad things, pressure, is what God uses to perfect or complete His people. The bad things that happen to unbelievers are simply the natural consequences of this fallen world we live in. The bad things that happen to believers are the fires of sanctification that produce the nature of Christ in them. They learn to deny self and trust God. They learn to pray and be humble.

    God has to be immutable or else we could not trust his promises.

    There is nothing tricky about it. If believers submit to God and mature in their working out their salvation with fear and trembling they may indeed suffer much (Romans 8), but it is all for God’s glory and their sanctification. Biblical Sanctification is the removal of the believer from sin.

    Now, to answer your question. I believe that God is Sovereign and Omnipotent and Omnipresent and Omniscient and Immutable and Holy and Righteous and Just. He is all of these things and so much more than my finite mind could ever understand. However, the attributes He has revealed to us in His Word and through our relationships with Him are enough for us to know that He is perfectly capable of preserving His Word no matter that it had human authors who lived thousands of years apart or what culture they lived in. None of that matters. The Word of God is Spirit Breathed and Inspired. I have seen the studies that have compared all of the manuscripts from the Old and New Testaments. The differences between the different manuscript groups, etc. There is not one difference that is doctrinal in nature. I have compared much the Textus Receptus with the Majority Text and the Tischendorf, etc. The differences are mostly where the transcribers either put in or left out marginal notations. Even so, they still amount to no doctrinal differences.

    Is God capable of preserving His Word for us to the degree that He uses it to edify, lead, and guide His people? Sure, He is not a hands-off God. He is infinitely involved in His creation.

    Brian, you must ask yourself why you are kicking against the goads. Why are you fighting the truth?

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  47. Thanks for the thoughtful response. It seems on these issues at least, we believe together in spirit, if not in substance. I would address one thing you said which actually answers my original question regarding literalism. The Fall. Sure, you, along with others can parade out those who will attempt to argue in a literal 6-day creation some 6000-12000 years ago. (I choose that time as a reference, not inferring it is your timescale) However, only those who retreat into a flat-earth mindset can continue to argue a similar time frame. Is evolution a force in the creation of life? Maybe. But even if it is ever proven beyond any shadow of a doubt I, and you, would place God behind it. So, and this is where I profoundly disagree, if there could not have been a literal Garden of Eden and literal Adam and Eve, how could there be a literal, time framed, fall from grace? I fully realize you may have complete faith in this doctrine. It is not for me to attempt to sway you. However this approach to man’s condition frankly speaking has zero power on the world today. The manipulation of guilt used by this story (myth) simply does not have power, at least for the people that I work with day in and day out. 21st century people. And yes, I can anticipate the numerous catch phrases of blinded by the world, or sin, or Satan, or fallen from God, etc. You fill in the blank. But, and this is a crucial but, this restructuring of the Jewish creation story into its correct place in their scriptures does erase the fact that yes, humans are pretty messed up.

    The penal substitution theory of atonement, if you go back and study history, is actually a product of about year 1000 CE. There are several others, all with validity. This theory, and it really is a theory since God hasn’t dropped by physically lately, piggy-backs, so to speak, on the idea of original sin. Without original sin, we have the uncomfortable question of why God created us this way. That takes us to why Jesus died.

    So much more could be said but time now limits. I would point to you one verse in the Hebrew texts though that clearly shows the early views toward divinity. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” If the early Hebrews did not believe in a pantheon of god, which we know definitively that they did, why bother with a law about “other gods?” Again, with overwhelming evidence, all cultures some 3000 years ago believed in many gods.

    Ah, again there is that truth. Your back must be getting heavy, carrying such a burden. It really is OK to let go of the idea that you (not you only but all who claim to hold Truth) and actually just live a life of justice, peace, reconciliation, and love.

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  48. Brian,

    Penal substitution was Paulian and that is first century. 🙂

    Please don’t believe that my faith is in doctrine. It isn’t. My faith is in God who has extended His grace to me, quickening my faith and justifying me apart from works. I delight in Him, love Him and am His servant forever.

    You keep mentioning the heavy burden of truth. I am not carrying that burden. God is. My faith is borne out in His grace. He has given me His joy which strengthens me. I abide in Christ and am pruned so I will be fruitful. I am not working for my salvation. I am working out my salvation.

    You used the word myth referring to Genesis 3. I’m sorry for you. It must be a very barren place without faith. Brian, you are making the same mistake that all apostates and atheists make. You are making the invalid assumption that truth is truth only if you believe it. Our belief or unbelief has zero bearing on the veracity of truth.

    Lastly, you mention living a life of justice, peace, reconciliation and love. Well, I do and I preach and teach that all believers must do this, but in the power of God’s grace in obedience to Him.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  49. Then I can only be happy for you and your belief. For myself, God is here just as he entered the world in Jesus, without claim, without fanfare, without power, as a baby. I cannot bring power (attempting to coerce others through “logic” or fear) into my mission of the Kingdom of God. Jesus didn’t. He didn’t drag people into “salvation” through arguments or logic. He loved. He gave them, instead of doctrine, poetry.

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  50. Brian,

    Your intellect is getting in the way of belief. In any case, your statement about Jesus is supportable only if you ignore most of the New Testament. I suppose this is the reason for so much “higher criticism.” If you don’t want to believe what it says then you must attempt to destroy it’s credibility. Same old argument from Genesis 3:1-5.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  51. Correct me if I am wrong, but, didn’t Jesus say “…and you will KNOW the truth and the truth will set you free”? Was He just kidding?

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