Thursday, July 09, 2009
Sounds like a bad thing when it comes to theology, I guess a majority of people may think? Dr. Radmacher tells this story again and again in class: "My former student said to me, 'Dr. R., that's not what you taught seven years ago.' Well... if I'm done learning, then just shoot me!" And he is fully joking and fully serious when he tells this; you might be able to picture his expression. :)
Sure, believers can depart from truth and embark toward error, and that's unfortunate. But if there is no mobility permitted on principle, how are those who are currently drifting in error going to learn something redeeming? I myself want others who are more knowledgeable to encourage me to reconsider whatever might be tradition, and I do that by reckoning with them that the Word as fully fit for reproof.
Is there any grace, for theological error?
Of evangelicals, those who already defend grace toward theological error are Free Grace people. Does God only declare righteous the doctrinally pristine? No! We have been debating in excess of late that one can be saved by believing the "gospel" - and let's say for the moment that the gospel was "glorious" - 1 Cor 15:1-4 (though technically it appears that Stegall's gospel may actually require the most numerous points of content though it is difficult to figure out how to enumerate; therefore my addition may be incorrect). Even the fullest Free Grace gospel does not require belief in the Trinity, or belief in the virgin birth, or belief in other things such as the infallibility of the Bible, does it? These advocates readily explain for the sake of this debate that this is not the case; otherwise, they are adding a long list of biblical ideas to the gospel message. Our justification in Jesus Christ is accomplished without these additional beliefs - in the absence of them - or in the err of them. What about our sanctification?
How long is long enough that someone can walk by faith in Christ; someone who is a new believer founded and secured in everlasting life upon the content of the gospel.... How long, and still either not know about the Trinity or not believe in the Trinity? How long is long enough till it affects someone's sanctification, jeopardizing their obedience, by faith, in Christ? At some point it does, but can you tell your neighbor exactly when and where it has become sin - impossibly they must not have been righteous, in Christ, by faith alone, while also not knowing or receiving these other doctrines?
Or would you tell them that they must believe all doctrine from scripture in order to move forward from being born again, in any intent to walk with Him after that initial moment?
What is the one doctrine requiring our theological precision, in order that one may be sanctified in faith in our LORD after being born again?
Is it not how to walk by faith in Christ?
Miss this, and I don't see how one could be perpetually transformed into the image of Christ. (Of course there is always the reality that believers practice it even while denying or being unaware of the truth, and many new believers have no clue what any doctrine is yet the Spirit leads and teaches them.) I understand faith-righteousness to be the only precise doctrine, if any, necessary for godliness - though all the Word is all Truth and in measure, our challenge for abiding in Christ. Change your mind on this one, though, and the gospel begins to be corrupted in the daily Christian devotion (Galatians 3 - "you foolish Galatians!") and then also, eventually, corrupted in the Christian declaration (Galatians 1 "no other gospel").
I asked, above, if God justifies only the doctrinally pristine; and now I'd like to inquire whether God sanctifies only the doctrinally pristine?
I've always appreciated those who have taught on the subject of "theological legalism" because this is one of Free Grace's ameliorating contributions to evangelicalism. It will minister to many brothers and sisters in my thinking, freeing them from unrealistic expectations of themselves and of others. They are freed not from abiding in the Word, nor from learning the Truth. But, they are freed from obligation to a perfect or even well-rounded understanding of it (their doctrine) as they are abiding in Him.
If I'm incorrect, I'm willing to change my mind as I learn more.
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