13 July 2006

When an apostle "gets hot"

by Dan Phillips

Beginning my read-through of 1 Corinthians, I was struck by the apostle's tone.

Paul is writing to a problem-church. They are messed up, from Dan to Beersheba. They're schismatic, they're elitist; they've got some people who are confused about the resurrection, they've got others who get drunk at Communion (-- must be that curiously strong first-century grape juice). They've even got a guy having an illicit relationship with his dad's wife, and the goofs at New Life Abundant Dynamic Impacted Living Worship Center of Corinth wear it as a badge of courage. They're a mess.

And yet the apostle starts the letter off in gracious, patient tones. Hear him from that perspective:

Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
He asserts his apostleship right off the bat, as he commonly does (v. 1). He is going to take them to the woodshed, and that in no uncertain terms. When they get there, Paul wants them to be crystal-clear on who it is who's hauled them out.

But Paul can also afffirm them as called to be holy, as kept and gifted; he can even thank God for them, and wish them grace and peace (vv. 2-9). That is a gentle beginning. He's holding the rod behind his back, to be sure. The admonition and sarcasm and pleading are coming. But he sets the stage in a gentle, conciliatory way. It's brothers and sisters Paul will confront.

This opening is basically like all of the apostle's letters' beginnings. All except one.

That "one" would be Galatians.

I have often said that anyone who reads Galatians 1:1ff aloud in sonorous, sepulchrally ecclesiastical tones, thereby does the letter, the apostle, and the hearers a great disservice. The apostle did not write calmly. He was perfectly rational, perfectly in control -- but he was hot. His letter starts off like a slap in the face. Notice what is there, and (almost more importantly) what is missing, in his opening words in Galatians:
Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
Like the other letters, Paul identifies himself and his recipients, and he does wish them grace and peace -- but there the similarity ends.

In other epistles, the apostle (as it were) knocks politely at the door, identifies himself, comes in with a smile, says nice things about the kids, the cats, and the furniture, accepts a cup of coffee, and sits down to have an earnest talk.

Here in Galatians, Paul bellows out his creds, kicks the door in, charges in through the dust-cloud, and starts throwing furniture around. Less Martha Stewart, more Jack Bauer.

No coffee, thanks.

What's the difference? Why the shift in tone?

It isn't that the "issues" in Corinth aren't crucial. It isn't that Paul doesn't feel strongly about them. Read 1 Corinthians, you'll have no doubt of that. In Corinth, they may be a goofy plate of spaghetti, but the apostle evidently has reason to believe that the majority still holds fast to the essentials of the Gospel (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:1ff.).

He is not so sure of the Galatians. He's hopeful (cf. 5:10), but the apostle is clearly very worried for them (cf. 4:11, 20; 5:7). They were foolish, bewitched (3:1) Their trouble isn't elitism, immorality, disorder -- bad as those are. The Galatians' problem is that they are defecting from the Gospel itself (1:6). They are giving attentive ears to a perversion of the very core and essence of what it is to be a believer. If they embrace this perversion, it will send both them and its preachers straight to Hell (cf. Galatians 1:6-9).

This is -- or should be -- instructive to us.

We in public Christendom have our extremes. To the one extreme, of course, are the gleeful fighters. They are represented by the separated brethren of the First Baptist It-Never-Rains-In-August Church folks, who "worship" just around the corner from the First Baptist It-Does-So-Rain-In-August Church. These sorts of folks think WWF is for pansies. They jump into a brawl at the drop of a hat (or the refusal to wear one). There's no lining up such a spirit with imperatives such as those we find in Ephesians 4:1ff., Philippians 2:1ff., and elsewhere.

But at the other end we have the "peace in our time" folks, phlegmatics who think that all this quibbling about doctrinal details is just so much bosh and foolishness. They are far, far above the rabble. They are passionate about their lack of passion, and disdain those who disdain mortal heresy aloud and in public. They consider it bad form, impolite, un-conciliatory.

So this fellow preaches Christ alone as Savior, by grace alone, through faith alone, and the seamless imputed righteousness of Christ as our sole hope of standing before God; but then that other good brother preaches faith too, grace too, Christ too, salvation too -- all sealed and held and maintained by our faithfulness and righteous living. What of it? Both are preaching Christ, are they not? Why get ourselves upset over jots and tittles? Is God such a harsh theological schoolmaster? There are few enough of us as it is. We should be grateful to have such educated, articulate, winsome, influential -- and popular! -- men and women on our side at all. We should not quarrel about trivia. We agree about so much! Let us not exalt the adiaphora.

Count me in as heartily opposed to quarrelling about adiaphora. But the Gospel is not in that category. Eternal life and death is not trivial. If you don't think that way, the apostle Paul clearly did.

Paul sounds angry, does he not, like Jesus in the Temple? But it is the anger of concern, and we see both emotions mixed in his words to the Galatians. Why is it so?

No parent would have trouble understanding what close companions fear and anger can be. We all know of the scene of a mom or dad snatching his careless, wandering child out of the busy traffic on the street, hugging him tight -- and then paddling him, and telling him never, never to do it again.

So some pneumatic phlegmatics can be passive, calm, indifferent and unengaged in the controversies over the nature of the Gospel today. Some of them speak and write as if the Reformation were much ado about nothing. They seem to think it was an unfortunate mistake. They are unwilling to contend for this, the sola Gospel, the heart of the Christian faith. Worse, they instead gladly contend with those who are willing to contend for the Gospel.

I have to conclude that their problem is the opposite of their own estimation. It isn't that they are just so abounding in love that they won't fight. It is that they are bereft of love. For if they truly loved their fellow humans, they'd be unable to rest easy as men and women are sold the poison of a false, damning "gospel" -- no gospel at all, no Good News, but a dyspel, bad news. And if they loved God's Word, they'd never accept seeing its core message perverted and subverted.

And if they loved the Savior, they'd never make peace with His perfect and final sacrifice, His love, and His accomplishment on the Cross cast to the ground, there to be mixed with the dung and muck of human merit.

The apostle was no such pallid, flabby, loveless soul. When the Gospel was perverted and souls endangered, he saw red. Now, that was a man. That was a man of God.

God grant His church more of Paul's mindset today.

Dan Phillips's signature

65 comments:

Jeremy Weaver said...

Amen!
I've been studying James for the past couple of weeks and he got hot over some things too.

Mike Y said...

must be that curiously strong first-century grape juice

Bad Dan!

Actually, this is a great post and much easier on my mind than the last one. I spent all of the last couple of days looking at chipmunks and wondering what they were pointing to. Turns out they were just laughing at me.

I do wish some folks would take the Gospel as seriously as Paul. Yep... go ahead and modernize it, make it more user friendly, come as you are and stay as you are.

This isn't the Gospel. It doesn't even bear a close resemblance.

When I see people go through such a passage, or through Matt 7, or through Revelation 2 & 3 without any introspection whatsoever, it gives me great concern.

I am often left with the impression that they do this, and go such routes, because they are simply unregenerate. And every now and then I may actually come across one who actually has the Spirit's witness within him and can be reasoned out of such delusion.

Thanks for the great article!

TheBlueRaja said...

More at stake in Galatia than Corinth? Maybe, but:

1) The truth of bodily resurrection was at stake in Corinth (1 Co. 1:12)

2) as was the significance of the cross itself (1 Co. 1:17)along with

3) the acceptance of the authority of Paul's apostleship, his letters (1 Co. 4:1-21, see esp. vs. 18-21), and therefore the authority of "God's Word"

So the Corinthians were denying the significance of the cross, the possibility of literal bodily resurrection and the authority of Paul's letters - sounds like a bunch of liberals to me . . . and the worst kind of liberals; the crazy, charismatic kind (1 Co. 12-14) with immorality not even seen in the Gentile world (1 Co. 5:1).

C. T. Lillies said...

Thanks, I needed that this morning brother. My first thought was "What the heck is adiaphora?" The second was "Yeah, we could ALL do with a little less Martha." I particularly liked that toddler-in-the-traffic illustration.

Much Grace...
Josh

Catez said...

Maybe Paul was in more of a hurry writing the letter to the Galatians? Perhaps he didn't have time for the gracious intro. Just some thoughts as I read the post.

DJP said...

All already anticipated and responded to in the post, BR.

It's embarrassing when you quick-draw and misfire without reading, in public, isn't it?

DJP said...

Catez -- No.

TheBlueRaja said...

That would be embarassing - but what I was pointing out was that all of these issues seem to have the Gospel at stake every bit as much as the Galatians - so why the difference in tone?

In 1 Corinthians he sounds "not so sure" of them in a few places (like in 15:2, for example. He's worried for them. The polemics in 1:18-4:21 call them foolish while they think themselves wise. The difference, you're saying, is that the Gospel was at stake in Galatia, while he was addressing affirmed-but-messed-up brothers and sisters in Corinth. But is bodily resurrection, the significance of the cross, the authority of Paul and unparalleled immorality less of a compromise of the Gospel, less essential, less grounds for getting "hot" than what he encountered in Galatia, and if so, why?

DJP said...

Nothing new, still all answered.

I carry many burdens. One is working hard to express myself clearly. If I fail, I hope I'll admit it.

But if I'm misread, and stubbornly so... well, I just don't accept the burden of responsibility for that.

Carrie said...

Wow Dan. Your last few posts have been hitting the nail on the head for me. I’m so glad to see you write about Paul’s example when dealing with these types of issues. I’ve been struggling with these kinds of ideas on my own blog so it’s nice to get some reassurance.

These “contenders with the contenders for the Gospel” seem very prevalent on the more female side of the blogosphere. I don’t know why that is but it can be quite disheartening. We could use some good female versions of you (although that might not be pretty). Thanks for another great post!

DJP said...

Interesting, Carrie. Any theories on why?

I know in some other forums, I've seen that a bit -- but I've never really had it gender-specific in my mind. Care to expand?

Mike Ratliff said...

Galatians was Paul's first epistle to one of the the first churches he planted on his first missionary journey. He was younger then and he was fighting those who were perverting the Gospel with WORKS RIGHTEOUSNESS.

In Corinth he was battling a bunch of immature Christians who were messing up big time. He was older then too.

Good post

in CHrist

Mike Ratliff

TheBlueRaja said...

Dan,

If this was answered, I don't see how - but I'm willing to say that it's probably my fault. Maybe it would help to hear who modern "Corinthians" (with all of their problems) might be, as opposed to modern "Galatians".

It seems like if we encountered anything like what was happening at either Corinth OR Galatia we would be inclined to say that BOTH were "denying the Gospel". I can see modern analogues with people who don't believe in bodily resurrection, reject Pauline authorship of the Pastorals and those who integrate other belief systems into Christianity -- and I would assume that you'd think of these people as having denied the Gospel.

But I can't see from your post why we would be wrong in assuming that, and if you feel like addressing it any further, maybe you could point out where you spelled out the answer. If it's patently obvious in your post the problem isn't stubbornness as much as stupidity.

Wayne said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ajlin said...

DJP,

No kidding: this is the best post I've ever read on the blogosphere- potentially very helpful to all who read it.

BR,

I do think that DJP anticipated and answered your objections. It seems that part of the deal with the Corinthian church was that, by God's providence, there were so many factions in the church which had to be rebuked (as Paul began to address in chapter 1) that no one heresy was swaying the majority of the congregation.
->So you had, as it were, the TBN-watching folks in one corner, the guys persuaded by the latest Jesus Seminar books in another corner, and the guy who wrote, "I Kissed Dating My Mother Hello!" in another, with most folks trying to find out if any of these cliques were making some good points. A dangerous situation to be sure, and one requiring some stern rebuke (which Paul does give), but I think that Paul's concern for the Galatians is not that a few nutty splinter groups will form (which seems to be the most likely case in Corinth), but that the Galatians- and, indeed, many other churches- will be persuaded of a false gospel and will begin to help the spread of this falsehood. For we must note that in the Corinthian church, the doctrinal problems seem to have arisen from within the congregation (I don't think Cephas and Apollos were trying to get people to form factions in their names any more than Paul or Christ were- cf. I Cor. 1:12). People were taking the apostolic teaching on issues such as the spiritual gifts, spiritual resurrection, forgiveness, etc. and twisting it to their own ends. The Galatian church, on the other hand, was influenced by a deliberate outside movement which was setting itself up in opposition to the spread of the Gospel of Grace (see Galatians 4:17). Also, the heresy which was beginning to be embraced by the Galatians was more subtle than the issues the Corinthians were dealing with, and thus more dangerous. The hyper-charismatics, who were apparently not acting in a fitting and orderly way (see I Cor. 14:40), would not have had the organization to systematically spread their falsehood, those denying the resurrction were blatantly cutting off the hope of the Christian Gospel (I Cor. 15:9) and this hopeless "Gospel" was not likely to spread very far either (as we see currently with the 'revival' of skepticism about the resurrection, when congregations embrace this resurrectionless "Gospel" their influence under the name of "Christianity" invariably dwindles and dies), etc.
->A false gospel such as the one the Galatians were giving heed to is significantly more influential in religious peoples' minds. It has been rightly noted that there are only 2 types of religion- those that depend on human works and the one that depends on God's Grace. The heresy to which the Galatians were exposed sought to blend these 2 categories together- to add human works to God's grace as the basis for our standing before God. This was a powerful threat, one we see played out in countless lives today, in those who call themselves by Jesus' name while following the blended grace+works system presented by organizations such as the Roman Catholics or Mormons.

Phil Johnson said...

Raja: "If this was answered, I don't see how "

Here's the operative sentence in Dan's post: "In Corinth, they may be a goofy plate of spaghetti, but the apostle evidently has reason to believe that the majority still holds fast to the essentials of the Gospel."

In other words, the difference was not that the doctrinal issues were more grave in Galatia, but that the error had penetrated more deeply and affected more people.

Phil Johnson said...

BTW, Dan: I agree with Ajlin. Great post. Best I've seen on this subject. Someone should nail it on the swinging wooden doors at a certain cyber-saloon on the other side of town.

Bike Bubba said...

Well noted. A study we have where I work has been going through the letters to the Corinthians and Galatians has noted (I have at least) that Paul's mode of speech reminds me of stereotypical Brooklyn at times.

I haven't made the effort to parse out exactly when he left upstate and arrived in Brooklyn, or when he left Brooklyn for the Bronx, but certain Paul is NOT being "Minnesota nice" here. It's a nice reminder.

TheBlueRaja said...

Phil and ajlin,

Thanks for the clarification! Although I disagree that the priority would be more dire if the error was coming from without rather than within, and I doubt very much that Paul's concern was minimized due to the factional nature of the errors, or that there is any textual proof for a greater concern for a majority of unaffected Christians in Corinth, at least I understand the argument.

contratimes said...

Perhaps there is more to say why Paul's tone is different in the first chapters of Corinthians than in the opening lines of Galatians.

DJP writes:

Here in Galatians, Paul bellows out his creds, kicks the door in, charges in through the dust-cloud, and starts throwing furniture around. Less Martha Stewart, more Jack Bauer.

No coffee, thanks.

What's the difference? Why the shift in tone?


I think the first place to start is the nature of Paul's audience: In Galatians he is addressing a region -- a set of churches (we do not know how many) -- while in Corinthians he is specifically speaking to a particular church, a particular body; an urban church.

Hence, one might be able to make the distinction that the Corinthian letters are intimately pastoral: it is like a set of letters from a senior pastor on sabbatical. The Galatian letter reads far more like a missive from a bishop, an overseer of more than one church. It is less intimate, it is less detailed in church polity and difficulties.

I agree with DJP that Paul is more concerned about Galatia. There Paul is dealing with Judaizers (Paul has a wicked attitude towards them, and rightly so). He is angry over something he has dealt with before, even with Peter. And he is concerned over the scope of this heresy: It is threatening a whole set of churches in a whole region.

Corinth, on the other hand, is a church that is dealing with unique difficulties. The church is in a tough town: Corinth is the seat of gross and licentious paganism. The Corinthian believers are still struggling with this; for example, they are treating the Lord's Supper as a pagan meal: if some is good then more is better! They are often acting just like their pagan neighbors.

Perhaps Paul ultimately strikes a different tone towards what he perceives as different threats: the Corinthian threat is pagan and Greek; the Galatian threat is Jewish. Perhaps Paul has more tolerance for heresies born of paganism; though, of course, he has no tolerance for heresies at all!

Hopefully this adds to the discussion.

Manly men unite!

Peace and mirth!

BG

Catez said...

Actually Dan 'contenders with contenders for the gospel' are not more prevalent in female blogging. That's really a gross misrepresentation (I know you didn't say it - just responding). There is some good apologetics blogging and discussion on Christian womens blogs. Choosing Home had hundreds of comments on a series of posts recently. The posts were clear and the discussion had it's difficulties but was well attended to by the blogger who wrote the posts.

Where many Christian women have draw the line in blogging is when it isn't apologetics - when it is misinformation, or personal bias without substantiation. Paul didn't do that.

On Galatians - "no" is a pretty short answer. I mean I don't really just go, "oh ok - he said 'No" so that's it". I did a commentary lookup - seems unlikely he was in more of a hurry. From what I read he would have not been pressed to cut to the chase in the way he has done. He was not in jail as far as I can see from what I've read. So I agree with your "no" as it turns out.

Interesting looking at possible reasons for that cut to the chase. I'll give it some more thought.

David B. Hewitt said...

Brother Dan:

I agree. An excellent post to be sure. I think I'll link to it in my up and coming post on the importance of doctrine!

I'll also point Carla this way. I suspect she'll be encouraged... especially by one of Dr. Johnson's comments. :)

SDG,
David Hewitt

DJP said...

Catez --

See how much time you would have saved if you'd just gone with my "No"?

Dan

PS -- Kidding! Just kidding!!!

(c;

Mike Y said...

In response to carrie's comment, I shudder at the thought of a female version of Dan. Still having problems with the pink chiffon :)

And I agree with Phil's comment. The error definitely ran deep and I would further welcome the idea of posting this article in numerous locations. In fact...

Catez said...

Dan,
LOl. Well it saved you time...

I get very into the circumstances surrounding the writing of Paul's epistles but alas cannot always remember them off the top of my head.

Carla said...

Booyah,

this was a really good post. I started reading it this morning then (as usual) got distracted. Thank you for your insights, and for not really wearing pink chiffon.

That would be just a tad over the top.

As for the contending for the contenders thing on female blogs - I think I see that more on the guy-blogs, not the girl blogs. Maybe I'm just missing something though?

Could be. In any case, great post.

SDG,
Carla

Carrie said...

Sorry, I guess my comment didn't read right.

I wasn't trying to say that there are more "contenders against the contenders of the Gospel" on the women's side than on the men's side. It's just that I tend to read more female bloggers and it seems more prevalent than I would expect (based on experience in the real world).

Catez - I don't think that is a "gross misrepresentation", it is just my opinion.

Where many Christian women have draw the line in blogging is when it isn't apologetics - when it is misinformation, or personal bias without substantiation

So Mormons identifying themselves as "Christians" doesn't fall under apologetics?

donsands said...

Excellent teaching. Thanks. The Gospel must be contended for with all our might and yet with hearts that are broken and humble.
Paul said to the Romans that he wished that he could be accursed for his brethern, but the glory of the gospel supercedes even his love for people.

I wonder if Paul had to deal with more resistance to his charge, or if there was genuinely more repentance with the church in Galatia? Or perhaps a mixture of both.

centuri0n said...

Man I hate it when a decent meta like this gets hashed out while I am in Covey class.

And yet today I am so much more effective ... amazing ...

Catez said...

Carrie,
As I mentioned Choosing Home blog recntly had a series of posts on the issue and they were well done.

I do have a problem with personal bias masquerading as "contending for the gospel". By all means address the apologetic issue. But false accusation and imputing motives to people without substantiation is not the gospel nor is it what Paul exemplied.

And quite frankly, I see nothing in Dan's post that promotes that sort of lack of integrity.

Your response was a thinly veiled ad hominem. I am not interested in seeing this comment thread hijacked by that either.

Catez said...

This was meant to be in my previous comment:

I don't think that is a "gross misrepresentation", it is just my opinion.

Then that opinion is a gross misrepresentation.

Carrie said...

Main Entry: ad hominem
1 : appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect
2 : marked by or being an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made

Actually Catez, I would say that you are one that is resorting to ad hominem.

In my original post I was just sharing some of the struggles I have had while blogging and thanking Dan for posts like these which have helped me feel better about taking a stand. I made absolutely no reference to you or your comment about Paul perhaps rushing the Word of God.

You are the one that felt the need to correct my "gross misrepresentation" and allude to a certain situation where you and I have butted heads before. A situation where the idea of Mormons trying to be seen under the umbrella of Christianity was being discussed. So since you seem to allude to that particular situation and classify that as not apologetics, I wanted to clarify with you that the subject would indeed fall under apologetics.

You didn't answer my direct question. You did mention ChoosingHome having a good apologetics discussion but you did not mention the topic, so no, that didn't qualify.

This is where you and I have issues. You are very politically-correct in your responses so as not to offend the masses, but don't have a problem attacking my character here.

I made no reference in my original comment as to what type of struggles I have had or whether they would fall under your "personal bias" category. You are assuming that I am talking about the situation where you and I have disagreed before and must think now I only commented here to try and stick it to you. That is not the case. I have better things to do.

I'm sorry, Dan! I really did love this post and just wanted to share why it particularly spoke to me (with no hiddnen agenda, I promise). You asked me to expand on my comment but after this little squabble with Catez, I don't think there is a need to expand. In my mind this isn't a hijack but an live demonstration of why your article was so appropriate.

Catez said...

You brought it up Carrie:

"Where many Christian women have draw the line in blogging is when it isn't apologetics - when it is misinformation, or personal bias without substantiation

So Mormons identifying themselves as "Christians" doesn't fall under apologetics?"

That's from your comment. There was nothing in my comment on that issue.

You are the one that felt the need to correct my "gross misrepresentation" and allude to a certain situation where you and I have butted heads before.

I didn't allude to it at all. I believe you made a gross misrepresentation in general terms. We haven't "butted heads" - I have not publicly engaged with you on it at all actually.

A situation where the idea of Mormons trying to be seen under the umbrella of Christianity was being discussed.

Unfortunately that was not the situation. Another gross misrepresentation. As I said then - I agree with apologetics being done on blogs. I've done some myself and am part of an apologetics group blog that has been going for about two years now I think. I object to false accusations, the imputation of motives without substantiation, and the sort of revisionism of events that defies credulity.

So since you seem to allude to that particular situation and classify that as not apologetics,

No - I allude to the false accusation, misinformation, and imputation of motives without substantiation as not apologetics - all of which occur on the internet at times and yes, did occur in that situation. I'd also add that expecting Christian women to go along with something on a bandwagon "even if the information is bogus" is unChristlike, untruthful and not apologetics. Yes - that is directly referring to you.


I wanted to clarify with you that the subject would indeed fall under apologetics.

If you had read my comment it was patently obvious.

You didn't answer my direct question. You did mention ChoosingHome having a good apologetics discussion but you did not mention the topic, so no, that didn't qualify.

Well too bad - I'm sure anyone else reading this understood me perfectly.

This is where you and I have issues.

This is where you have an issue. I have turned the other cheek with you enough.

You are very politically-correct in your responses so as not to offend the masses, but don't have a problem attacking my character here.

What has this got to do with what we are discussing? Nothing at all. It's another ad hominem - another attempt to discredit a sister in Christ while pretending that we have "issues" and you are not hijacking the thread.

Nice game Carrie - now let's be done.

Catez said...

A note of self-correction - I did briefly comment on a post and I suppose you could call that amicable discussion engaging on the issue. Any "headbutting" was publicly one-sided and occurred after that, i.e you were headbutting thin air.

As I said - nice game, let's be done.

contratimes said...

Dear Carrie and Catez,

It is amazing, and maybe even a little sad, that there should have emerged something of a fight between sisters of the Lord over which of them, in a sense, is a real contender for Christ. The irony is not lost, considering that Mr. Phillips' post was, to some degree, about ineffective men in ministry; about men who neither love nor fight (in the good way) like St. Paul.

I am not going to agree or disagree with either of you, Carrie or Catez, in this comment. But I will say this: Carrie's first remark, namely

These “contenders with the contenders for the Gospel” seem very prevalent on the more female side of the blogosphere. I don’t know why that is but it can be quite disheartening. We could use some good female versions of you (although that might not be pretty). Thanks for another great post!

does not strike me as polemical. It strikes me merely as opinion, as a passing observation, one held subjectively (from her experience) and viscerally (her gut reaction). It does not strike me at any point as argument; nor can it, in any way, be perceived as a "gross misinterpretation." It is merely what she feels, thinks, believes. Carrie has not attempted to make a hard case out of this.

So I think, Catez, that you did indeed come at her hard, and your first mistake was not to name her; which you could have easily done. Your second mistake was not to let Carrie first respond to Dan's appropriate invitation for her to expand on her experience. You jumped in, called it "gross", and this without naming your interlocutor.

That being said, I don't think either of you mean to be fighting about all of this; besides, it sort of proves Carrie's point, that fighting between contenders (or contenders of contenders) is all too prevalent (it is quite prevalent between men, of course).

What I feel might have set you off, Catez, is DJP's terse "No" to your question. His response might have been right; but I can't help but think that DJP's response made you feel dismissed, even stupid. That's just my take. Maybe you have a long relationship here with DJP and thus are used to that sort of banter; I am new here, and I can only say that his "No" bothered me. Oh, well. I am a softy.

In part, and this is for you Catez, and Blueraja, I offered my own observations why the tone of the two epistles is quite different. Apparently my comment did not add to the discussion, which is fine. But I just wanted you to know that I was thinking of you (and BR) when I posted my comments.

(BTW, Catez: I loved your blog. You handled Hawkings admirably. And the Merciful Stripper piece has me reeling. Carrie, I have not had a chance to enjoy your site, Of Christian Women, but I will soon.)

Peace to all, always and forever,

BG

Catez said...

Hi Contratimes,
I appreciate your effort. Just to clarify for you - no, Dan's comment didn't make feel stupid and didn't bother me in that kind of way. I was just conversing with him in reply - and my tone wasn't intended as anything other than good natured. It didn't set me off at all. It challenged me to look something up. So that has nothing to do with this other unfortunate matter.

On the Carrie stuff - actually she can email me if she wants. That is probably the better option. I don't know her and have had minimal interaction a long time back with her. Perhaps I could have named her regarding the first reply but I was talking to Dan.

I'm not arguing about who contends more, the best whatever. There's history to this regarding Christian womens blogging - and I didn't raise it here. But it got raised. I stand by my comments regarding that. And I agree - it would be good to let it drop. It was 4 months ago and this isn't the place to revisit it in my view.

There are some great apologetics bloggers - men and women. I can think of several.

Thankyou for your kind comments too. I will have to check out your blog also.

DJP said...

Catez and Carrie -- maybe it's me, but I'm completely lost as to what you two are arguing about. I'm glad to have you both here; just don't understand what's going on. Am I doing a typical-male-ear thing, or...?

Does one of you think Mormons are Christians?

I'm lost.

/c:

Catez said...

Actually BG, I re-read your comment. You have a point - a hard case wasn't made regarding the prevalence of that in Christian womens blogging. I don't think a hard case can be made. But yes, it was just an opinion which was modified to be completely subjective later. I see your point.

I think I hear your heart too.

Catez said...

Hi Dan,
I am sorry. I read your other post about commenting on posts (which was excellent) and now I feel like things got a bit derailed here.

Does one of you think Mormons are Christians?

Dan - no.

LOl.

Sorry - you probably didn't see the hundreds of comments at Choosing Home regarding that in response to their series. So my previous comment may have flown past you.

The issue is misinformation, false accusation and imputed motives without substantiation being masqueraded as apologetics.

Which is not what Choosing Home did by the way - and consequently Christian women bloggers have participated there as well as non-Christians. I have no problem with apologetics when it is apologetics.

Catez said...

BG,
Your comment was helpful:

the Corinthian letters are intimately pastoral: it is like a set of letters from a senior pastor on sabbatical. The Galatian letter reads far more like a missive from a bishop, an overseer of more than one church. It is less intimate, it is less detailed in church polity and difficulties.

Jamieson Faucett & Brown say something very similar to that. They also make some interesting observations about the Galatians thmselves - which I'm not completely sure about but according to the commentary the Galatians were noted for being "extremely changeable".

I also find it interesting that Paul writes this epistle the way he does not just because Judaizers were present in Galatia - since they followed him to other places too. But in this instances - or instances - it is the response of the Galatian churches that warrants his style I think. i.e. they were believing the false gospel.

C. T. Lillies said...

This may be a no brainer Dan, but just how do you go about correcting a serious doctrinal error if you're not, for example, the Apostle Paul?

Josh

Phil Johnson said...

Catez: I'm still mystified about what your argument with Carrie is all about. Your reference to "hundreds of comments at Choosing Home" didn't help. But now that my curiosity has been piqued, could one of you post an actual link to the pertinent thread? Now that we've given so much space on our blog to the argument, I'd appreciate a clue regarding what it was about in the first place.

DJP said...

C. T. lillies -- Well, I always just ask Phil to handle it!

But seriously....

The content of one's response (truth) shouldn't change from situation to situation, and the motivation (love for God and others) shouldn't change, but the specific method may. See Proverbs 15:2, 23, 28).

Carrie said...

Sorry guys. I really didn't want to air any potentially dirty laundry here so I tried to avoid addressing the original situation in my response here to Catez. My very first comment was not meant to allude to any of this but somehow it was forced.

Unfortunately the "facts" of this argument can no longer be followed as it was started by some posts that Marla Swoffer had made, but since Marla has quit blogging and deleted her blog, I can't point you to the original content.

It would take alot of effort for me to try and recap the whole thing as it occurred over a couple of weeks and at this point without Marla's post it would come down to a "she said, she said".

If you just can't contain your curiousity Phil, I can try to get together some circumstantial links that may help and you could get the idea. I would love an outsider's opinion on this whole "situation" but I am also afraid this may add fuel to the fire. It was never my intention to talk about all this and I'm not sure I can take any more character assassinations or spin.

I have more to say to defend myself but I'm not in the mood right now.

Catez said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
4given said...

"Less Martha Stewart"

You must mean when the TV camera is not on her.

In response to serious doctrinal error: DJP wrote "The content of one's response (truth) shouldn't change from situation to situation, and the motivation (love for God and others) shouldn't change, but the specific method may."

Excellent answer.

Aren't we all called to be defenders of the Truth? Apologists in a sense., approving the things that are excellent, "always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence."

*Changing modes of emphasis in Christian apologetics, whether or not they are considered culturally relevant, are important markers in the history of the church.*

You wrote: "The Galatians' problem is that they are defecting from the Gospel itself (1:6). They are giving attentive ears to a perversion of the very core and essence of what it is to be a believer. If they embrace this perversion, it will send both them and its preachers straight to Hell (cf. Galatians 1:6-9)."

Well, that sounds horridly familiar and say... relevant to today. It is waring to me to hear that Scripture as it is written is no loger "culturally " relevant. We should, as Paul, never back down in the defense of the true Gospel. Shame on us if we do. And shame on any one of us if we get caught up in thinking that in defending it, we are somehow less loving because we will not "go with the flow, dude." We can defend it and appear to be purposefully divisive. Some may be. But if, in defending it, do we not have to step back and realize that this is the nature of the true Gospel to those who are unregenerate? To those who are not wanting to have their sin exposed? For that is what it does when proclaimed without compromise.

4given said...

Sorry for all the typos in that last comment. I am sure you can figure out what I was trying to say. I meant to push preview but accidently pushed post. I probably would have cut out about 1/2 of what I wrote... apologies.

Catez said...

The content of one's response (truth) shouldn't change from situation to situation, and the motivation (love for God and others) shouldn't change, but the specific method may. See Proverbs 15:2, 23, 28).

Yes, thanks. I like 15:28 as it relates to studying rather than impetuosity. You've just answered the question for me too. I have wondered about it. I've wondered about novices perhaps taking on more than they are equipped for - yet at the same time we can all give a reason for the hope that is within us.

I'm going to think on this some more.

Carla said...

Well then...

Dan, do you see what you've started!? How dare you be so controversial.

;o)

Carrie said...

Wow. All I will say is that I do not believe the comment by Catez to be an accurate reflection of who I am or how things went in the past.

Frankly, I am baffled by what I said in THIS comment thread to warrant all of this. If someone else sees it, please point it out.

Although I could defend myself point by point, this is not the place to do it and I'm not sure I even want to reward such a tirade with a response. I am embarrassed to be a part of this and apologize to TeamPyro that this has unfolded in your comments section.

Again Dan, this was a great post. I hope this little tiff doesn't detract from that.

Catez said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
4given said...

E-mail is a really great tool for communication when you cannot talk personally. Way better than arguing off topic on someone else's blog.

Backwoods Presbyterian said...

Paul's Righteous Anger is much needed in today's wishy-washy church.

Catez said...

Well almost ready to leave it. Except to add that Phil asked me the question and I gave the short version in response.

The pretence is what is embarrassing. Many Christian women bloggers share a similar view in disagreeing with the way this issue was raised in the first place. There are some who didn't. They did not resort to your tactics. I can respect their difference of opinion.

I have as I said given the option of email.

Catez said...

4given - I agree.

DJP said...

Carla -- Dan, do you see what you've started!?

I, er... yeah.

Rick Potter said...

"And if they loved the Savior, they'd never make peace with His perfect and final sacrifice, His love, and His accomplishment on the Cross cast to the ground, there to be mixed with the dung and muck of human merit."

I enjoyed this post for a different reason than what has been addressed (in my thinking anyway). I'm reading Michael Horton's "God of Promise" where he adopts a thinking that compels us to look at the heresy the Galations are experiencing from a covenantal perspective. His chapter title "A Tale of Two Mothers" says this:

"Paul speaks forcefully in Galations 4 of two covenants, two mountains, and two mothers. A covenant of law is established at Mount Sinai, engendering an earthly Jerusalem, which is identified with Hagar the slave; and a covenant of promise is given to Abraham and his seed, engendering a heavenly Jerusalem, which is identified with Sarah the free woman. Confusion of these two covenants, Paul believed, lay at the heart of the Galation heresy, a charge repeated by the Protestant Reformers in the sixteenth century."

Regardless of why Paul used such strong language, he did it out of love. Accordingly, I would hope that I could see this in my own pastor were he to jump down my throat, so to speak. I fail to listen closely at times - until our pastor raises his volume and gets down to business about something as serious as false teaching.

Catez said...

Don't shoot me - but I do need to say that I would prefer reconciliation. I did send a friendly email way back explaining that my motive was not what was imputed. That email was not responded to and the false accusation was not withdrawn.

Having answered and said everything else I'd be remiss leaving that out.

Email is still an option - perhaps a reply to the friendly one I sent for starters.

candyinsierras said...

May I suggest:

1. Develop a thick skin. People disagree. Get over it.
Question: How do I develop thick skin?
Answer: Work with rebellious
teens who have no
qualms about finding
your deepest
weaknesses and
announcing said
weaknesses to anyone
within hearing
distance.

2. If you are into "discerning truth", discern rightfully between spaghetti (quirky fallible Christians), and tofu (emergent and "relevant", among other trends, what else!).

3. Consider self examination before raising the standard in public. Is it true? Will it truly cause a brother or sister to consider their plight? Are you Paul or are you Jerry Springer/ Ann Coulter? Will it cause repentence or defenses to rise up. The goal is truth.

Obviously Paul earned the right to be heard.

My boss at my job works harder than anyone I know. So when she says...move...we move! Why? Because we respect her. She has earned our respect.

Instead of adopting a "talk to the hand" attitude, let's pursue truth according to the grace God has granted us and understand that God is also working in others in his timing and his particular sovereignty. Perhaps a few people could use a little patience in receiving the truth of Sola Gratia..Sola Fide..Sola Christus..Sola Scriptura..Soli Deo Gloria....hello? To God ALONE be the glory.

Catez said...

Hi Candy,
I have worked with rebellious teenagers in the past. Certainly a challenge.

You're right.
If you are into "discerning truth", discern rightfully

You may not know it but you got some things in a nutshell with that. I wish I'd thought of that so succinctly.

I read Libbie's post too, which is different but similar in a way - that was excellent.

Catez said...

Hi Phil,
This is the comment I made previously but I have decided to edit it and repost it. It was not a tirade, and what I said previously was true. However I got too specific regarding the actions of some-one else and don't think it necessary that those specifics remain on your blog permanently. It is always possible to reconcile issues and leaving the specifics of another's actions here isn't facilitative to that I think. There are things that would be better discussed privately so I have edited those. Here's the comment:

Here's the Choosing Home posts:

Part Four

The series is linked at the top of the post.

As to what the rest of the discussion is about. It's about something unconnected with Choosing Home's posts. Partly it's about a post months ago which wasn't correct factually. And there was history behind that post. The upshot being that instead of there being apologetics there was misinformation and unsubstantiated claims about motives. There was also targeting of individuals unnecessarily. To be fair some better posts followed later - and I have always stated that I have no problem with people discussing apologetics. But what occurred initially was unnecessary - and instead of being a discussion/apologetic about Mormonism and Christianity it was instead about a number of things that were completely unhelpful and even obstructive to real discussion taking place in a meaningful and effective way.

All of that has been discussed at length in the blogosphere - with many women, including by the way the Choosing Home blogger (who I expect would not want to be dragged into this now), stating that they disagreed with the way things were done (meaning what the another person posted months ago - that was not a Choosing Home post).

Also relevant to the discussion is that I posted on the issue factually while discussion was then current. There were some things said publicly which were false about me personally in response to that, and which until now I have not defended myself on. I did try to resolve it with an email.

As I stated earlier - misinformation, false accusations and imputing motive without substantiation is not apologetics. That is what happened and that is what numerous Christian women bloggers objected to.

There was also a view put forward that even if the information originally posted by some-one had been "bogus" it was wrong for others to point that out. In other words - if we know something is untrue we should pretend we don't know and let it look true. Which is not what Paul exemplified, not apologetics, and certainly not how I conduct myself.

The dispute has partly developed here because I've been asked questions that I had already answered, and my position is already known. This issue in general hasn't just arisen here but has been brought up elsewhere - not by me. I have not responded to that either.

That's the short version - since you asked. I don't put it here because I feel I need a referee.

There are a number of Christian women who blog apologetics and do so well. I don't always agree with everything they say - but I appreciate them. And not everyone will blog apologetics too - which is fine with me.

Hope you find the Choosing Home posts interesting. They are a great bunch over there.

Kent Brandenburg said...

You can tell me if I'm wrong, but it seems that you are saying, Dan, that, based upon the writing styles of Galatians and 1 Corinthians, if someone distorts the gospel by adding works to grace, he is to get the angry treatment like Paul with the Galatians, and even like Paul with Peter. However, if he causes disunity, accepts immorality, commits fornication, becomes a stumbling block or a bad testimony, abuses the Lord's Table, fakes speaking in tongues, or distorts the resurrection (and these types of things), one should approach him gently, offering a "cup of coffee" (so-to speak).

DJP said...

Nope, Kent. Read again, please; it's really all there.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Again, then, tell me if I'm wrong. You are saying that add to grace in salvation and you get a sharp beginning to ending. If you do the Corinthian things, you get a soft beginning to a take-them-to-the-woodshed finish.

Assuming that I am correct now in understanding what you wrote, two questions:

1) Would Paul's tone of approach apply to any distortion of the gospel or just the particular distortion of the Galatian judaizers?

2) If someone were to question someone on a possible moral issue, the question less than any Corinthian offense, would that merit a harsh, Galatian-like response?

Catez said...

I've just come back to this post (over a month later) because I think it's important to add that the situation has since been resolved by private email. That was a little while ago.
We serve a good God.