13 November 2008

The Christian's Priority and Presence: Things We Agree On

by Dan Phillips and Phil Johnson

couple of our readers lately have questioned whether we are really on the same page regarding political activism and the proper place of partisan punditry in Christian ministry. Since Dan has extensively written on elections and political/societal matters at his own blog, and Frank Turk writes a fair amount of social and cultural commentary at his blog, one or two of our commenters wondered if all the members of TeamPyro really do see eye to eye on these matters. Obviously, we each have different emphases and interests we like to write about. Phil likes Bach Cantatas and Dan likes Chicago. Dan collects commentaries and Frank collects comic books. Frank is an expert in marketing and Phil is an expert in editorial matters. Granted, we're an unlikely menagerie of co-authors. But on the issues that really count, we're all on the same page.

Even on the issues of civic activism and "engaging the culture" via the political process? Absolutely.

Let's see if this helps. Here are some things we all agree on from the get-go:


  1. Among other things, the Christian is the person who boasts only in the Cross; to whom the world has been crucified, and he to the world (Galatians 6:14).
  2. The sole unique possession that every Christian has, that all his neighbors most desperately need, is the Gospel (Romans 1:16).
  3. The Gospel is itself not actions nor outreaches nor programs; the Gospel is a message, communicated in words that express propositional truths (Romans 10:14-17).
  4. While what we do may at best adorn the Gospel, it must never supplant or eclipse the Gospel (cf. 1 Timothy 2:10; Titus 2:10).
  5. The message and aim of the gospel is redemption (Galatians 4:5; Titus 2:14) not merely reform.
  6. The gospel itself is the only instrument of redemption; it "is the power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16).
  7. Gospel and law are not the same, even though they agree at many key points (Luke 16:16; Galatians 3:1-19).
  8. "Works of the law"—and all other means of adorning the gospel—are non-redemptive (Romans 3:20, 28; Galatians 2:16); they are even damning for those who place their trust in them (Romans 10:1-3; Philippians 3:3); and therefore such things must never be made a higher priority (or given a higher profile) in any Christian ministry than the gospel itself.
  9. Christians, individually and corporately, are ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20), and like all ambassadors, they must proclaim the message they are given—not a truncated message or a different message of their own choosing.
  10. The message Christians are given to proclaim to unbelievers is about justification by faith, not social reform through legal means; and it culminates in a plea for sinners to be reconciled to God through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20-21).
  11. The primary, distinctive, defining task of the church is to enroll and train students of Christ by the emphatic ministry of the Word (Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Timothy 4:1-4).
  12. Works of mercy and material help must grow out of that ministry of the Word, must not supplant it, and should first target Christians within the local church body (cf. Acts 2:42-47; 6:2; Galatians 6:10).
  13. A full-orbed pulpit ministry will eventually touch on everything the Word touches on (Acts 20:27).
  14. Since the Word touches on every essential area of Christian living, aspects of pulpit ministry can and will touch on every area of a Christian's public life (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
  15. Individual Christians must pay taxes and respect the institutions of authority in his country (Romans 13:1-7).
  16. Individual American Christians should take seriously the accountability-factor for their citizenship in a constitutional republic (cf. Luke 12:48).
  17. Individual Christians are obligated to seek and find how to be good stewards of what God has entrusted them with, in all walks of life (cf. Psalm 24:1; 1 Corinthians 10:31).
  18. Some of those possible avenues for individual Christians include careers in politics and journalism, other forms of communication, working with pro-life causes and adoption agencies, and with other charitable organizations (cf. Proverbs 10:11; 11:11; 24:11-12; Jeremiah 29:1-9; Galatians 6:10).
  19. Avenues such as those listed in #18 are perfectly legitimate investments of a Christian's time and energy. However—
  20. Avenues such as those listed in #18 are no substitute for preaching the Gospel, since only the Gospel meets man's deepest needs, and thus most truly fulfills the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves.
  21. If offered an association that requires him to put a basket on his relationship with Jesus Christ, or on the Gospel, an individual Christian should decline (Mark 8:38).

Dan Phillips's signature

Phil's signature

63 comments:

Frank Turk said...

BTW, Dan and Phil wrote this post, and I fully endorse it.

Also: I buried Paul. I mean: Cranberry Sauce.

Mike Riccardi said...

Shouldn't the reference in 19 and 20 be #18, not #12?

Also, this was awesome. Can we plagiarize?

DJP said...

Yes to the former (leftover bone from collaborative process), no to the latter.

(c;

(Use with attribution - of course!)

Johnny Dialectic said...

A recent photo shows Phil, Dan and Frank walking across Roscoe Blvd. Only Frank is out of step and barefoot. What does this mean?

donsands said...

"The message Christians are given to proclaim to unbelievers is about justification by faith, not social reform through legal means; and it culminates in a plea for sinners to be reconciled to God through Christ"

Man, if the Church could get this deep "down in our ears" (Luke 9:44), and pray a lot, I believe we would see God's greatness like we've haven't seen it for quite a while.

"A full-orbed pulpit ministry will eventually touch on everything the Word touches on (Acts 20:27)."

The Word in it's fullness is another key for the Body of Christ in our day.

Excellent post. It's a keeper.

danny2 said...

great list brothers!

Frank Turk said...

Johnny:

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

Matt said...

Thanks for the clarification, guys. You were successful in answering a number of my questions.

Solameanie said...

LOL. If this meta goes off the rails with Beatles references, Frank has to bear the responsibility this time! By the way, is it true that "Sexy Sadie" was really about Maharishi Mahesh Yogi?

As to the post at hand, it will be very, very interesting to watch as time goes by and see what lessons are drawn by evangelicals who are politically active. I am waiting for the Emergent folks to begin harping that this election was evidence that the church needs to liberalize its views on social issues etc.

DJP said...

If this meta goes off the rails with Beatles references, Frank has to bear the responsibility this time!

"This time," because... normally Frank would never derail a meta?

Mesa Mike said...

Can we call those the Pyromaniacs' 21 Theses? Which church's door will they be nailed to?

The Walrus was Paul.

Phil Johnson said...

Mesa Mike:

We talked about that. Ruled it out because it seemed a little campy.

Personally, I would have named it "Come Together."

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Scott Klusendorf: "Voices within Christendom will assert that evangelicals have spent too much time on politics, with little to show for it. What's really needed, so the claim will go, is more time preaching the gospel. Well, I'm all for preaching the gospel, but why should anyone suppose that political efforts aimed at protecting human life detract from the biblical command to go make disciples? Why can't pro-life Christians do both? Simply put, the answer to a lack of evangelical fervor for the gospel is not to withdraw our political advocacy for the weak and vulnerable; it's to encourage Christians to do a better job presenting the gospel. . . . In short, the true solution to our current political defeat is to equip more pro-lifers to engage the culture, not shrink back in defeat. Quitting now is simply not an option."

DJP, PJ, and FT: "If offered an association that requires him to put a basket on his relationship with Jesus Christ, or on the Gospel, an individual Christian should decline (Mark 8:38)."

#1. I obviously can't speak for Scott Klusendorf, but I think it's safe to presume that he both agrees with #21 and that it's fully congruent with his broad-based pro-life ministry.

#2. I think the key word in #21 is the word "requires".

#3. With respect to #21, would you agree that those conservative Christians who led or participated in the broad-based coalition effort to pass Proposition 8 in California did not violate #21?

#4. Excellent post.

Pax.

JackW said...

Yeah, yeah, yeah ... but what do you NOT agree on? ... then we'll have a post!

;{)

Phil Johnson said...

TUaD:

This post isn't about Scott Klusendorf and has nothing to do with him.

I said in a post last week that I like Scott Klusendorf even though I don't always agree with him on strategy. I was as specific about where my disagreements lie as we need to be. And that was last week.

I've repeatedly asked you to stop this kind of comment where you try to pit one of us against someone who isn't a participant in the thread. Please: I'm really serious about this.

If Scott K. wants to come here and participate, he is more than welcome. But let's let him decide whether to join the comment-threads of posts where not the topic, OK?

As for your number 3, my answer would be in some cases yes; in some cases no. You can't reasonably expect a blanket statement that either completely condemns or completely exonerates every activity every evangelical got involved in for the passage of that proposition.

Is the proposition actually going to curtail homosexual activities or refute the thinking of those who accept the Keith Olberman polemic?

We'll see. So far, not so much.

I'm not saying prop 8 was a bad thing; I'm saying it should not be any Christian's final word on the matter.

Jim Crigler said...

Re: Phil likes Bach Cantatas and Dan likes Chicago.

Why can't we have both? And Joe Satriani, too? (Does an attitude like this make me postmodern?)

Re: Dan collects commentaries and Frank collects comic books.

Does Phil collect Cubs playoff losses?

Solameanie said...

normally Frank would never derail a meta?"

I haven't seen Frank lay dynamite under the tracks too often, no. Or if he did, perhaps I was enjoying the occurrence too much to assign responsibility. (smile)

I have to look myself in the mirror. Old radio guy that I am, song titles come to mind often enough as it is.

All together now...

~Mark said...

In all seriousness, I love you guys and appreciate that you took the time to show that we can be different yet united on Truth.

Besides, I could see y'all were united on what's important. The rest is personal choice. I like Back and Chicago, but I'll more often be listening to Stanley Clarke.

I'm constantly amazed that such little things make people confused as to how one person can appreciate a variety of things!

Mesa Mike said...

Doesn't anybody like Spike Jones?

Phil Johnson said...

Mesa Mike:

I happen to have the definitive Spike Jones collection on my iPod. 22 hours of music, total. My favorite is a little number called "Never Hit Your Grandma with a Shovel (It Makes a Bad Impression on her Mind)."

DJP said...

Strangest. Sense of humor. Ever.

Libbie said...

Argh! I already had my husband inflict the Beatles on me on my birthday, and now they've infested the meta at pyro.

*Sticks fingers in ears*

DJP said...

The Americans are all Beatle-love; the Brit rolls on the floor and whimpers.

What's up with that?

SolaMommy said...

Awesome post. We can't expect unbelievers to act any differently than according to their sin nature. Unless we share the gospel with them and they've been given a new heart, they will continue in their ways. This reminds me of when I interviewed with Birthright for a volunteering opportunity. They told me that I would not be allowed to "talk about Jesus" with any of the women, being that it was a Catholic organization...but I would be expected to reason with them on how it's a bad idea to be having sex outside of marriage. I left thinking about how ludicrous that concept was. I knew if I couldn't share the gospel with them, I had no right to expect them to change their ways. So, amen to #21.

Frank Turk said...

Libby:

I'm fixing a hole where the rain came in to stop my mind from wandering.

Not to mention the meta -- and I don't really mean to derail the meta ever. It must be a spiritual gift.

Frank Turk said...

BTW, I'm still trying to earn my iPod by finishing up the collected teaching of S. Lewis Johnson.

There's too much there. Even with my 4-hour weekly one-way from LR to NWA, I can't make a dent in it. I have to resort to listening to Friel and beep-talking him when he fails to make his point.

Hi Todd! o/

Phil Johnson said...

Turk: "Im fixing a hole . . ."

Yea, well, there are four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire.

Get to work.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

PJ: "As for your number 3, my answer would be in some cases yes; in some cases no. You can't reasonably expect a blanket statement that either completely condemns or completely exonerates every activity every evangelical got involved in for the passage of that proposition.

Is the proposition actually going to curtail homosexual activities or refute the thinking of those who accept the Keith Olberman polemic?

We'll see. So far, not so much.

I'm not saying prop 8 was a bad thing; I'm saying it should not be any Christian's final word on the matter."


As far as I know, none of the conservative Christians who lead and/or participated in the broad-based coalition effort (which included among others, Catholics and Mormons) to pass Prop. 8 have said that Prop. 8 is the final word on the matter, if what you mean by "final word" is that passage of Proposition 8 trumps the Gospel.

Pax.

Stefan said...

Phil and Dan:

Thank you very, very much for this.

Frank:

Thank you for...well, for being you, brother.

Jackw:

I second your motion. Let's see the gloves come off! (I'm kidding.)

Solamommy wrote:

"I would not be allowed to 'talk about Jesus' with any of the women, being that it was a Catholic organization"

So despite protestations to the contrary, basically nothing's changed in 500 years....

NoLongerBlind said...

solamommy:

That's probably 'cuz they would have preferred you to talk with them about Mary--their
co-redemtrix.

Reminds me of the time my wife wanted to help out our former "church" (Methodist) at a soup kitchen. She was told not to "talk about Jesus" because they don't want to offend anyone!

P.S. Are you the "better-half" of solameanie? ;^)

Solameanie said...

Off the rails? No, it's careening wildly over the embankment into the river.

Boy, we're gonna carry that weight a long time.

Mesa Mike said...

Phil:
Re: "Never Hit Your Grandma..."

that's one of the stranger Spike Jones tunes.

Hard to pick a favorite, since there are so many good ones, but I like this one, which most people have heard (I think).

Phil Johnson said...

This is not the first time Frank provoked this sort of mischief.

But I've got to admit: it's getting better.

Reform said...

mesa mike
The Walrus was John.

donsands said...

"Is the proposition actually going to curtail homosexual activities or refute the thinking of those who accept the Keith Olberman polemic?"

Olberman sees opt 8 as hatred towaqrd homosexuals.
That's the pot calling the kettle black, IMO.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, Life goes on.

Solameanie said...

Phil, I think we have to give Frank a bit of credit. He might give us Fab Four references from time to time, but at least he's never gone this far.

chrish said...

Solameanie,
I just had a thought; if someone were to write, "The Gospel According to the Devil," it might be exactly like the Gospel According to the Bible - believe in Christ by faith, repent, and be saved.

DJP said...

What?

Solameanie said...

I think not, Chris. Not from what we know of the devil. It might sound close on the surface, but there would be just enough error in it to kill. Sort of like how the Catholic church adds enough works into the mix to nullify the Gospel entirely.

CR said...

Quote: [A] couple of our readers lately have questioned whether we are really on the same page regarding political activism and the proper place of partisan punditry in Christian ministry.

This statement is a bit confusing. I thought PJ was adamant that whatever one's political activism is or isn't, just don't call it "ministry." My understanding is that PJ believes political activism and partisan punditry is not ministry.

On the points that discuss about avenues available to the Christian, including politics, the word, "ministry" is avoided.

Is there agreement with you three that informing Christians how to choose to leader and think through ballot box issues a part of Christian "ministry" or not?

CR said...

Let me restate my question: are all three of you in agreement that political activism and partisan punditry have no place in Christian ministry, because political ministry and partisan punditry is in no way, shape or form, Christian ministry.

I'm not saying that political activism partisan punditry is or is not part of Christian ministry. I'm just trying to understand if all you three disgree or agree on that point.

Phil Johnson said...

CR: "Is there agreement with you three that informing Christians how to choose to leader and think through ballot box issues a part of Christian "ministry" or not"

That depends on how loosely or strictly you want to define "ministry" and how you're using it in what context.

(I was strongly tempted to answer you by saying, "what we have written, we have written.")

Look: can helping someone sort through the ramifications of pending legislation be a "ministry," in the sense that it helps undiscerning people see certain issues more clearly? Sure.

Does that mean it's OK for churches and evangelical organizations to make constant political lobbying definitive in their big-picture idea of what "ministry" is all about? Not in my view.

Do I "minister" to my neighbor when I help him mend his roof? Sure.

Would that make it OK for a church to go into the roofing business full time and call it "ministry"?

What do you think?

calvinist CS said...

Totally off topic. Please direct me to a cogent argument to help a friend snagged by Preterism

CR said...

PJ: Would that make it OK for a church to go into the roofing business full time and call it "ministry"?

What do you think?


The roofing business does not equate with the political public square arena, but to get to the heart of the matter, should churches, be involved full time with the political arena if we are to understand Eph 4:12ff, correctly? No. And I would never take the position that it should.

Should "evangelical" organizations (that is an organization with a collective number of Christians in it) be involved with that full time? I don't see a problem with that. Should they say that's what "ministry" (esp. full time) is all about? No.

Frank Turk said...

Calvinists CS:

Full blown preterism in which he believes we live in an age after the return of Christ?

Hand him a newspaper and the last two chapters of Revelation. Not to be flip here, but anyone who can read about the New Heaven and the New Earth and think that this is what he sees outside his window cannot be convinced by apologetics that he is wrong. Pray for him, and speak the plain truth to him about the newness of the new creation.

DJP said...

The specific distinction Phil is making, Carlo, is between any Christian(s) and a church. He might demur on specific tactics and all, but he has no objection in principle to Christians doing such things as listed in the post, nor referring to them as some sort of "ministry" (service) they're performing.

What he objects to is a church giving itself over to those activities as a church ministry. The whole post works at that distinction.

Phil will correct me if I've gotten him wrong.

Frank Turk said...

cr:

Let's think about this for a second.

Let's imagine for a second that the church spends a lot of resources speaking publicly against "gay marriage", but factually treats biblical marriage like a public contract which the courts can adjudicate and disolve under circumstances that the courts decide are fair and equitable.

By default, the church has taken the image of Christ and the church and turned it into a meaningless secular contract, yes? So when the church comes out and decries "gay marriage", what they are doing de facto is not a prophetic ministry which points men by their sin to the Gospel, but instead they are decrying equal protection under the law. So when they finally get around to the actual Gospel stuff, they don't have the offense of the Gospel to overcome: they have basic credibility to overcome. They have no credibility.

See: if the church was working the Gospel first, when the question of "civil unions" came up, we could say unequivocally, "what you do in the courthouse is your problem, and it is a problem -- because what we do in the House of God isn't that". It becomes an opportunity to tell people about Jesus and still condemn what is wicked in a credible way.

In exactly the same way, when our most visible and popular "pastors" are nothing more than motivational speakers or hippies, who in the name of Washington and Jefferson do we think we are to tell people who they can vote for? How do we have common credibility to do such a thing, let alone a divine mandate?

See: you can't have it both ways. You can't say on the one hand that our churches are sick and our leaders are pathetic, and then say, "yeah, but we're going to publish voting guides, dag nabbit, as a ministry to God."

It's comical. Why put yourself through that when it's not even persecution for the sake of holiness?

CR said...

Frank, Dan and Phil,

I think one of the confusing things is when the word, "church", is used, do we always mean the same thing and what do we mean?

Is "church" just being used as a collective noun for Christians sometimes, or does it mean the institution, church, or what?

When I read posts sometimes, I see the words, “church”, “churches”, “Christians”, “evangelical organizations”, “pastors” being used in the same post or paragraph to say what things we should not do or call ministry (full or part time).

NothingNewUnderTheSun said...

CR:"Is "church" just being used as a collective noun for Christians sometimes, or does it mean the institution, church, or what? "

I wrestle with that as well and while the quote below from Spurgeon helps put some of it in perspective, I would love to see Dan, Frank, or Phil go into greater depth on the topic.


"Are we not all in danger of trusting to religious machinery, and leaving the work of the Lord to be done by secretaries, committees, missionaries, and so
forth, whom we half regard as substitutes for ourselves?" - Charles Spurgeon

SolaMommy said...

Stefan:"So despite protestations to the contrary, basically nothing's changed in 500 years...."

Yeah, pretty much. I wonder what would've happened if I had asked her to go into more detail about what she meant by "talking about Jesus".

Nolongerblind: No, no relation to Solameanie :)

Matt Gumm said...

I quote John Lennon, "I don't believe in The Beatles, I just believe in me." Good point there. After all, he was The Walrus. I could be The Walrus - I'd still have to bum rides off people.
- Ferris Bueller

Susan said...

I'll have to read the 21 Theses again--my mind is a bit scattered right now after clicking on that link to that Spike Jones tune that MesaMike provided. That tune is like the 3 stooges meets classical music meets Looney Tunes meets Weird Al! Help! I need somebody! Help! Not just anybody! Help!! You know I need someone!! HELP!!!

Gilbert said...

I have to give Frank credit: he can derail a thread faster than I can, and in one fell swoop, open my eyes to a Biblical truth more clearly than I've ever seen it before (the one several posts above on "gay marriage").

Thank you, brother.

But there's one thing I'm mildly disturbed about: Will I ever see a photograph with Phil standing side by side with "Dr. Demento"? I mean, where else could he have heard Spike Jones?

What? You say *I* must have listened to Dr. Demento to know this?!? Well...you always hurt the one you love.

Pow! Bong! Bing! Bang! Wheeeeeee!

Don't worry Phil, I ordered cocktails for two...

Gilbert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gilbert said...

On a more serious note...

Frank says:

"See: if the church was working the Gospel first, when the question of "civil unions" came up, we could say unequivocally, "what you do in the courthouse is your problem, and it is a problem -- because what we do in the House of God isn't that". It becomes an opportunity to tell people about Jesus and still condemn what is wicked in a credible way."

If we do that today, however, people will say, "ahhh, but MANY of the churches allow it these days, and they claim the Bible as their source of truth." How can that be effectively defended? It can't, right now at least. As my head swims with your thoughts, it occurs to me how massive our repentance in our churches must be in order to get our credibility back.

The Bible has no credibility in our society because the church, to a large extent, has no credibility before God.

And of course, that's where your #10 on the list comes in. We need to get back to that, as in immediately, if not yesterday.

Now, let me make this clear: I'm NOT saying that God cannot change an individuals' heart, even in these apostate times such as these. Of course He can; He can do whatever He wants in spite of ourselves. What I am saying is that the credibility of our witness and of our church is severely hampered right now, and that makes things unnecessarily
difficult.

Someone needs to post The Pyromaniac 21 Theses(tm) on many churches across the country, with attribution to Pyros and glory to God!

atruefaith.com said...

Frank: "By default, the church has taken the image of Christ and the church and turned it into a meaningless secular contract, yes? So when the church comes out and decries "gay marriage", what they are doing de facto is not a prophetic ministry which points men by their sin to the Gospel, but instead they are decrying equal protection under the law. So when they finally get around to the actual Gospel stuff, they don't have the offense of the Gospel to overcome: they have basic credibility to overcome. They have no credibility."

True, true! And that whole "love your neighbor" stuff in the Gospel that talks about mercy, compassion, gentleness is obliterated by the angry rants and hang-wringing over those "horrible sinners" (that we're all somehow trying to save - no really!) having the audacity to really act and behave like sinners!

Frank Turk said...

"bwoing" is my favorite spike jones SFX, btw,

DJP said...

{ looks at this whole meta and just shakes his head }

Respectabiggle said...

The Bible has no credibility in our society because the church, to a large extent, has no credibility before God.

That's really the crux of the matter. As Doug Wilson (IIRC) said, "There were women in pulpits long before they were in fighter planes."

donsands said...

"The Bible has no credibility in our society because the church, to a large extent, has no credibility before God."

But doesn't the truth stand steadfast on it's own?

Sure the Church needs to repent, but let God be true, and His Word is true. The Gospel is the pure and simple truth, and the world hates it, even without a bad witness from the Church.

I remember when Jimmy Swaggert fell.
My co-worker and I were well known on the job sight for our faith in Christ, and especially my Messianic brother, who was quite the preacher.
The unbelievers saw us coming, and came and said, "Hey, what about your great evangelist Jimmy Swaggert, what a hypocrite he is!"

Meir said, "Yeah, he sinned and is wrong, but what about you? What are you going to say for yourself before God on Judgment Day. You had better go look in a mirror, and deal with that person, and leave Jimmy Swaggert to the Lord."

Thes two construction workers just walked away.
I hope they got right with the Lord.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

PJ: "I'm not saying prop 8 was a bad thing; I'm saying it should not be any Christian's final word on the matter."

Agreed. Here's an excerpt from a National Review column:

"The coalition of religious groups who worked for Prop 8 will not dissolve the day after tomorrow. Passing Proposition 8 required an unprecedented level of interfaith cooperation. Evangelicals, Catholics, Mormons, and Jews all worked together. I could feel mistrust melting away as we worked together to protect natural marriage. The solidarity we created will continue long after this particular election."

I'm not sure, but I don't think the evangelicals in the coalition violated #21.

Phil Johnson said...

TUaD: "I'm not sure, but I don't think the evangelicals in the coalition violated #21."

Yikes. If you're really "not sure" on the heels of a celebration of ecumenical group hugs and interfaith lovin' like that, then I don't think you really grasp what #21 is all about.

. . . and if you think their decision not to dissolve the mixed multitude is what I was calling for when I said prop 8 shouldn't be the evangelicals' final word on the matter, then apparently you haven't heard a thing I have ever said about the priority of the gospel.

Hello?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

#21. If offered an association that requires him to put a basket on his relationship with Jesus Christ, or on the Gospel, an individual Christian should decline (Mark 8:38).

Initial remark applies: I think the key word in #21 is the word "requires".

BTW, don't impute what hasn't been asserted. Thanks.