books, C. F. W. Walther, Calvinism, discussion, false teaching, friendship, Gospel, Law, Lutheranism, Oneness Pentecostalism, Reformed Theology, Scripture, seminary, theology, witnessing, work
Last night, I was working at the store and a Oneness Pentecostal guy came in. I told him I had relatives that had gone to ABI (Apostolic Bridal Bible Institute) and instantly he wanted to talk, which was cool.
It was a fascinating discussion. We talked about imputed righteousness, eschatology, holy living, the marks of a true Christian…all in the space of one hour. I was in it more to hear how he heard my questions and how I might ask them better of someone I’m trying to share the gospel with, so it was a fruitful time.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him, however, that not only was I not baptized “in Jesus’ Name,” but that I’ve never spoken in tongues. He did get to the point however, where he would refer to himself and me in terms I’d relate to “the invisible Church.” He put a high premium on inspiration (his own) through sermon prep and even at one point claimed to have seen the backside of God in a dream.
Now, I don’t post this to mock him at all. I think it’s an interesting conversation when one can not only hear the inconsistencies of one’s heritage (I come from Oneness roots), but also hear some good things…or at least, things which on the surface one could say “yes and amen” to.
Oneness folks I’ve interacted with don’t have a consistent idea of how Christ’s imputed righteousness works in their obedience (carrying out “good works” a la Ephesians 2:10) after the point of salvation. This guy didn’t go down the road of “our works are ours,” but he didn’t seem to have thought out why he obeys…but obedience was a main part of his theology and it’s what he preached as being the comfort of a believer, per Psalm 147, where he extracted that “praise changes things.” So, if you want things to change, you should engage in praising God.
Now, assuming for a moment that he isn’t going down the road of “praise changing God’s mind,” assuming instead that he was talking about us, for our circumstances (which is more or less how the context seemed to lead), I’d say sure…but is that the Gospel? Where is the Gospel?
It’s so absent everywhere.
One of my profs at seminary told me yesterday that I had too narrow a view of the Gospel. He recommended I take a look at the “Jesus is Lord” discussion in Romans 10. I suppose I’ll consider that more homework and will try to tackle that on Monday at some point.
It’s not like I expected everyone to want to adopt my view of the Gospel when I got there. I’m interested in honing my views in the four years I’m scheduled to be there with other men who love Christ and His Church. Dr. Chapell had some recommendations for me in terms of Reformed people who take a view at least somewhat akin if not identical to the confessional Lutheran perspective on Law & Gospel. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into those things…Chapell didn’t cringe when I told him that I was reading Walther and most of the books he rattled off are required reading for the senior preaching class. He said by reading Walther, I already had a leg up on the situation, so I was glad to hear that.
Maybe I should go back to school.
Yeah…maybe you should. 🙂 Some of Covenant’s classes are online, so you could start as a distance learner…
luke geraty said:
First, I’d like to tell you how much I have enjoyed reading this blog. In fact, I would love to interact more with you, as I really enjoy your writing and thinking.
Secondly, I pastor in a community that is heavily influenced by Oneness Theology and I struggle with some of what you write too. I have deep, deep concerns about Oneness Theology… and yet I can’t judge the hearts of every person who is a part of that specific church (UPC). How have you thought through these issues? I’d love to know more…