Saturday, December 13, 2008

This week at Baptist Press

I've started trying to remember to do a little looking at what Baptist Press is talking about on Saturday night the last week or two. I don't know that I can promise I'll do it every week but I'm going to try.

Baptist Press' Assistant Editor Michael Foust's article on President Bush, "Land: Bush not 'theologian-in-chief," revealed, in my opinion, that Land wasn't right on target, as far as I'm concerned.

It isn't any surprise to me that President Bush didn't meet Land's "theologian litmus test," but I think at least one conclusion about Bush was a bit off the mark and, I should add, I don't think it is an American President's duty to become an evangelical Christian's "theologian-in-chief."

Land drew the conclusion that Bush believes there is more than one way to reach God, more than one path, more than one avenue, based on something the President said to Cynthia McFadden of NightLine in a December 8 interview. I'm a bit of a word parser and I think Land went a little too far in drawing that conclusion.

Bush said:

"I don't think God is a narrow concept. I think it's a broad concept. I just happen to believe the way to God is through Christ, and others have different avenues toward God, and I believe we pray to the same Almighty -- I do."

Clearly, Bush made the statement that he believes "the way to God is through Christ." He went on to say that other people follow different paths toward God, not stating that they actually get to God, but only that they are following different avenues toward God. I think there is a subtle difference and the difference is an oft used tactic of politicians.

Certainly, if word-parsed it can't truly be used against him by an evangelical who wants to claim, as Land did, that Bush was saying there are other paths to God, after all, Bush said he believes, "the way to God is through Christ," and others who might believe there are other avenues to God can't argue against him, or take offense because he gave a head nod their direction and did not make a firm statement saying they would never reach God by following a different avenue, simply that they have "different avenues toward God."

Politicians are practiced at giving just enough of an answer to satisfy an interviewer while being sufficiently vague to not offend those with whom, if pressed, they might disagree. Bush certainly hasn't been an over all good speaker but he can sometimes rise to the occasion of being a sufficient politician.


Vincent David Jericho said...

I talked about this on the show last week. I agree with Mr. Faust. God Bless you Jackie, you always want to think the best of people and build consensus HOWEVER

Matthew 7:21-23 (New International Version)

21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

Jackie some people do nice things it doesn't mean they serve Christ. The President said in that interview that people from different religions are all praying to the same God he does.

That is not Christian doctrine, that is Universalism...BIG difference.

I am not being judgmental just laying out the facts: 2+2=4; multi paths to God = Universalism NOT Christianity.

Jackie Melton said...

Hi Vince,

Maybe you have an advantage over me? I didn't see the interview with Cynthia McFadden but I was pointing out the assumption Land made about Bush's position on how one "gets saved" or reaches God and using Foust's reference to a particular quote from Bush that was included in the article.

I don't believe there is any other way to get to God than through Christ, myself, and that's what Bush said he, personally, believed in the quote used. If Bush elaborated more on that later, I am unaware of it.

I wasn't really taking up the topic about Muslims and Christians praying to the same God. I don't believe they do, so I would differ from Bush in that regard.

It seems like you are reading more into what I wrote than what I intended, Vince. I don't believe people get to heaven at all by what they DO on earth. It doesn't matter how "good," or "nice," or how much money you put into the offering plate or give to a local charity. It matters what you have chosen to do with Christ.

James talks about how good works should be evidence of a Christian's life but good works certainly aren't proof of a Christian life, I didn't mean to leave an impression that I believe that at all!

There are a lot of people who do a lot of good things, some may think they are doing it for Christ but if they haven't accepted Christ as their Lord and their Savior their "works" won't mean anything to God. It's something I almost wish wasn't so, thinking about good, benevolent people who will end up in hell someday because they were on the wrong path and chose against accepting Christ, believing what someone else told them, that there are many paths to God so, God forbid I gave the impression I believe there are many paths to God, it isn't true! BUT, God forbid I turn people away from God by being too forceful.

It is only a Christian's job to share their testimony and the gospel of Christ with others. I don't think it is particularly beneficial, beyond that, to brow beat people. It is God who determines how long He will strive with any given person. And, I'm not sure that staying out of hell, as the only reason for salvation, exactly facilitates a true belief on Christ, but that's another discussion.

Christ Jesus said if you reject Him (Christ) you have rejected the Father. I believe that, whether it gets me in trouble with non-believers or not.

On another note, do you think that being a "theologian-in-chief" is something we should expect from the President? I don't. If that was the case we've sure done a poor job at picking Presidents throughout history, which might, arguably, be the case, anyway.

Jackie Melton said...

Okay Vince, a follow up.

I was unaware you had spoken about it last week and so I went to the KSGF Web site and listened to the podcast.

Since I listened to the pod cast I would, first of all ask you what "Christian doctrine" you are referring to in your comment?

Catholic? Methodist? Baptist? Episcopalian? Church of Christ?

Each of those Christian denominations has some difference in their doctrines.

I think I have a fair understanding of the Baptist doctrine since I was raised in the Baptist church, certainly I'm not theologian but I believe I have a fair understanding of the doctrine of my particular denomination of choice.

Secondly, I would ask, if I just moved to Springfield, Missouri, bought a house and got registered to vote but I did not get a city charter, the doctrine of law of this city, and was totally ignorant of the laws and ordinances of Springfield, Missouri, would it make me less a resident of Springfield because I didn't or don't know what the City Charter says?

If I recently, or even 20 years ago, became a Christian but because, perhaps, I don't like to read, I never picked up a Bible and studied it, only relied on what I learned from others or the pastor of my church, would it make me less a Christian?

You and I may have a very fundamental disagreement on what makes a Christian a Christian.

I don't believe an understanding of every jot and tittle of the Bible is linked to the salvation of anyone or determines whether they are or are not a Christian. I do believe that a Christian should WANT and desire to have an understanding of scripture but I don't think it is a requirement of salvation.

We are all called to testify for Christ, I believe that is scriptural but, I also believe that, as Paul tells us in one of his epistles, not all Christians are called to be teachers or preachers or "theologians-in-chief," some are called to be encouragers, or simply work in "helps," as, I think, the pentacostles call it. Those people, not being able to teach or preach or heal or prophesy are no more or less Christians than those who are called to be helpers.

If we've accepted and believed on Christ, as George W. Bush professes, and accepted we were sinners, lost with only the hope of reconciliation to God through Christ and we have asked Him to forgive our sins, THAT is the doctrine that is required to become a Christian, if it is not, what hope have those natives of countries where there is a ban on Bibles? Where they may never have the luxury of opening its pages and studying it?

If you challenged me, said that I was not a Christian because I didn't have a "Christian doctrine," I could not prove to you that I was a Christian and, honestly, I shouldn't have to prove my Christianity to you. My boss is God, He is the one I must answer to in the end.

You know I love you, Vince, as a brother in Christ and because you're so dang cute and all, besides, I still really like that hat you won't let me wear but I don't even know if we could agree on every aspect of Christian doctrine, my Baptist theology might not meet your other denomination theology for all I know. How does it help the cause of Christ and the church to question my faith? To question my Christianity or to question that of another? Is that what Christ asks of us?

Vincent David Jericho said...

When did I question YOUR faith?

All I was saying it is a fundamental tenant of ALL mainstream Christian denominations that there is only one, way, one truth, one life and no one comes to the Father {God} but through Him {Christ}.

President Bush saying he believes there are multiple paths to God is NOT a Christian doctrine.

Jackie the Bible says we have a responsibility to point out errors in doctrine.

That is all I was doing is pointing out his error and voicing my belief that Bush is a Universalist or Diest.

You will find this sort of belief commonly found amongst those who have participated in a 12-step program which I believe the President has.

Anonymous said...

I want to PLAY!

According to the Qur'an, all non-believers who have received and rejected Islamic teachings will go to Hell.

For an interesting history on the word Hell itself please go to...

Egyptian, 2400BCE
Sheol, Hebrew.
Valley of Gehenna, Hebrew.
Hades, Greek.
Tartaros, Greek.

Jackie Melton said...

Vince, I was just using myself as an example, I didn't mean you had literally questioned MY faith.

I think we are basically on the same page except that, and admittedly I'm word parsing here, I said so to begin with: Bush said "he believes" that the way to God is through Christ. Based on the other half of his sentence, I don't see where he exactly said there are other paths to God or that you can reach God in another way, what he said was there are other paths, or "avenues toward" God.

I think he worded it that way for a purpose so as not to offend, for political reasons, that's all. We might do well to question why he believes political correctness to be more important than clearly testifying for Christ, if my theory is correct.

I'm not trying to defend all of his beliefs as doctrinally sound, from a Christian standpoint. I was speaking to that one point. Now, if he elaborated in the interview at some other point that I missed and said flatly that there are many paths to God I would agree with Land's conclusion, I just didn't feel, based on what I read, that Land's conclusion was well founded without more clarification, in other words, I felt Land assumed too much.

Personally, if you are (or someone else is) interested, I believe in an inerrant scripture and that, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17

...and, I also believe, "If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing." 1 Timothy 6:3-4

So, you are right to place great emphasis on doctrine and I didn't mean to suggest otherwise and those who don't have a clear understanding need to be very careful. Maybe, in a way, it would have been better for Bush to have said, "no comment," rather than what he did say?

You and I take a great risk even discussing such things in public or in a public forum and I'm sure you belabor every point as much as I do. It's important that we don't misunderstand each other and that others don't misunderstand us.

Bush, if I am right in my thinking, could have been much clearer in his comment, he has allowed for confusion and THAT, certainly, is a problem in light of the seriousness of the issue.

Vincent David Jericho said...

Hey AN,

Welcome to one of the few blogs where the host is bright and thoughtful and those that inhabit are courteous.

Post on!!!!

Jackie your a putz. ;-}

Much hugs,


Jackie Melton said...

A putz!!!???

BTW, You spelled "your" wrong.


Anonymous said...

I know she is bright... I even know who she is... and... I suspect she likely knows who I am as well...



Anyway I greatly enjoy this sort of conversation myself ;) I think I might enjoy being a religious historian...

Anonymous said...

A putz is Jewish slang for a penis. How does Jacke qualify? Is there something we should know?


Angel said...

I think Bush was saying there are more than one way to God too. He says for him it is through Christ, but others use different avenues. And, that whole comment on all of us praying to the same God is definitely false. Sometimes ... I don't think all Christians are praying to the same God honestly. Especially when they say things like "My God wouldn't send anybody to hell." No ... their god wouldn't. But that is me getting way off the topic! LOL

Jackie Melton said...

I think I know anon 4:13 VERY well, in fact. ;)