Do you have a passion to share your faith? You do well. But do it with Discernment. One of our Elders processed the recent interaction on thecripplegate.com (one of my favourite blogs), regarding the Way of the Master, and the friendly critique it received at the 2012 Shepherd’s Conference. It is such a great example of careful reasoning and analysis that I asked him to share it with us here:
Ray’s position: Evangelists need to confront sin so they see their need for Christ, which is why God gave his law. The 10 commandments are the law; to not mention the 10 commandments is to not mention judgement and therefore is not a biblical Gospel presentation.
Jesse’s position: I agree that evangelists need to confront sin and show people they are under judgement, but the law is more than just the 10 commandments. Your Gospel presentation is not unbiblical, but simply not the only way.
Conflict: Whether the 10 commandments are a subset proposition or a convertible proposition of the law. A subset proposition is a statement where one subject is equated with another broader subject and the statements conversion does not mean the same thing. For example, cars are machines does not mean the same thing as machines are cars; machines is a larger category containing cars. A convertible proposition can be presented either way: Meaghan is my wife and my wife is Meaghan mean the same thing.
The Law: Law is not equatable with the 10 commandments. A quick look at a half-decent lexicon will reveal that the word for the law of Moses, Torah does include laws but also implies teaching and instruction. The Torah itself is a large book and Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy are not equivalent to the ten commandments. Mortimer Adler in How to Read A Book notes that a key to understanding an author is to understand the specific use of terms an author uses (and all good authors will define their terms). Failure to properly understand author’s use of a term is to fail to understand the author’s meaning. The Bible, as literature, is no different in this regard. This also explains Ray’s questionable use quotes from historical figures.
Lastly, Ray made no mention of the divisiveness that has arisen in the church, the very reason Jesse was asked to speak on the issue. Notice that parts of Ray’s conclusion show a very black and white view of this issue, which may cause further unnecessary division between genuine believers. Ray writes:
“If the above accusations are true, I should be thrown out of the Church and my teachings considered heretical. . . I wonder how many will now set aside the use of The Ten Commandments because of Jesse’s talk, and cease to mention Judgment Day, or open up the divine Law as Jesus did. . . .Look at these sobering words from the Prince of Preachers: The doctrine of judgment to come is the power by which men are to be aroused. There is another life; the Lord will come a second time; judgment will arrive; the wrath of God will be revealed. Where this is not preached, I am bold to say the gospel is not preached.”
Jesse’s charitable dealings with Ray are at the least a good reminder to show patience with those that one perceives are in error, instead polemics that lack subtlety and nuance which ultimately undermine the witness of a church.