24 February 2011

What did Jesus (not) say about... truth and love? (Full post)

by Dan Phillips

Breaking news: Jesus talked about love!

Well honestly, the way I see it mentioned hither and yon (not to be confused with hither and thither), you'd think there was a segment of the church which denied that statement. If so, I've yet to meet it. Certainly there are parts which aren't very good at it, but denial? Denigration? I don't think I've ever heard anyone deny or denigrate genuine, Biblical love — not the way folks have repeatedly denigrated doctrine.


But let's circle in on this. Jesus famously says:
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35)
Love, then, is the mark of a disciple. In this passage, our Lord does not say that doctrine is the mark of a disciple, or that correctness is the mark of a disciple, or even that truth is the mark of a disciple. So love, some would say, clearly supplants concerns about correct doctrine.

Not so fast. Why stop there? Jesus also does not say that monotheism is the mark of a disciple. He does not say that abstaining from murder, rape, or theft is the mark of a disciple. He does not say that wearing clothes or eating are marks of a disciple. He does not even say that believing in Him, in any sense, is the mark of a disciple.

So what have we established? Only that Jesus didn't say what He didn't say in this passage. Which, hopefully, all are agreed upon. We had better hope He said other things, somewhere. Because if all we had were this passage, we would not even know what this passage meant! I mean, what is love? Warm feelings? Cheesy sentimentalism? Coddling? Indulging? Unconditional approval and enabling? Indifference towards damaging (or even damning) error? Treacly benevolence?

So rather than camping on this passage as if it were the only thing Jesus ever said, without any context, what if we — oh, I don't know — considered everything Jesus said? Shall we?

So we ask: is this the only thing Jesus ever said about love, or about what should distinguish His followers? Hardly. Let's start with the latter:  "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you?" Jesus asks (Luke 6:46). So right away, we know that Jesus expects obedience to His words to characterize His real followers.  Nor do we see a hierarchy, as if one may obey some but disregard others. Jesus seems to think that He is our Lord, or He is not; and if He is, what He says should produce obedience in us.

Whatever He means by "love" in John 13, then, it must be characterized and framed by obedience to His words — which, as we just saw, leads us to the rest of the New Testament, and back to the whole of the Old Testament as well.

In fact, Jesus Himself ties those ideas together, repeatedly:
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments." (John 14:15)

"Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. ...If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me" (John 14:21, 23-24)

"If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love" (John 15:10)
Jesus' concept of love walks hand in hand with His commandments, which in turn (as we've seen) point us back to the Old Testament (John 10:35) and the rest of the New (John 16:12-15) as well.

So would Jesus ever have tolerated a notion of love divorced from a specific, set doctrinal framework? Fantasy-Jesus, yes. Fantasy-Jesus thinks all sorts of things, largely things that will keep the world's good graces. The actual Jesus, however, the one who really lived and lives — He would never have conceived of such a view.

That Jesus (the real one) was once asked what were the two most important things in all the universe. Do you recall His answer?
 "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40)
Love for God comes first. Then, and only then, is it followed by love of neighbor. And what, pray, is love for God? The concept is explained and given full color in the Old Testament, whence Jesus mined this gold. Let's just lift a snippet:
"You shall therefore love the LORD your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always" (Deuteronomy 11:1)

"If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, 'Let us go after other gods,' which you have not known, 'and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul" (Deuteronomy 13:1-3)
Do you see it yet again? Love for God walks hand in hand with wholehearted acceptance of the full authority of all of God's words. But what is more, plugging in Deuteronomy, it means doctrinal loyalty, it means clinging wholly to the true God — which is to say as well, to the doctrinal truth about God — in the face of all opposing doctrines. It is loyal devotion to God, as His doctrine is revealed in Scripture alone.

Obviously a full treatment would fill a large book, but what we've seen is enough to decimate the false dichotomy of the lazy and anti-Biblical slogan "love, not doctrine."

But let's go one step further. This standard of love calls for all of us, heart and mind and soul and strength. If that is our standard, then what hope have we? We have never put together two consecutive seconds of such pure, true, singleminded devotion of God.

That is why we must flee for refuge in that sheerly-doctrinal/historical reality, the penal substitutionary atoning death of Christ. For there and there alone do we meet fierce and undeniable love which crashes upon our lovelessness, dashes aside our objections and rebellion, and saves and converts and conquers us.
"...but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us: (Romans 5:8)

"In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10)
And only in the light of such doctrinally-communicated-and-defined love can we go on to John's next exhortation:
"Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (1 John 4:11)
Dan Phillips's signature

84 comments:

DJP said...

In trying to help a visitor yesterday, I realized that I had never written the accompanying full post to this entry in the series. So now I have.

I hope one may be forgiven for expressing this thought:

It would be lovely if lots of folks discussed the ideas and Scriptures in this post. It would be even more lovely if all commenters gave the entire post a thoughtful read before commenting. It annoys some people when I am forced to observe that a comment reflects unfamiliarity with the post about which the comment is made, and I would spare them that annoyance.

Help me help you.

(c:

Tom Chantry said...

Spot on, Dan.

Early in my first reading I came to this: He does not say that abstaining from murder, rape, or theft is the mark of a disciple. And I thought, "Oh, but it does, if only we allow Scripture to define love: For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

And as I read the rest of the post (take careful note of comment number one, all ye who comment here), I found that very point being made. If we would love Christ, we must obey his commands. Including, I might add, the following: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. Ah, so, without truth, can there be love?

Robert said...

"We have never put together two consecutive seconds of such pure, true, singleminded devotion of God."

This is where we all should feel convicted and, as you state so well, cling to the work of Jesus. And in doing so, let us remember that the same Jesus Who said to love one another as He loves us also says that if we want to follow Him, we have to deny ourselves (which from the original text means to totally disassociate with who we are), take up our cross daily (which means we must be about putting our sins to death every day), and follow Him (which means to follow Him in everything, including calling sin sin and not allowing people we are supposed to love to continue in said sin).

He also said that we can and should expect to receive persecution because the slave (that is us, Christians) is not greater than the Master. In actuality, though, the Master suffered much worse temptation and persecution (not to mention He took the wrath of God that we will never face now)than we will ever know. And that persecution is going to come from the ones we will be bringing the truth in love to...yet we are still to love them.

Of course, this leads back to obeying His commands and being all "doctrine-y". Truth and love go hand in hand, and we can not really have a full understanding of either (nor manifest either) unless we have our doctrine right.

DJP said...

Tom, thanks for leading by example.

(c:

You catch it exactly. Everything the love-instead-of-truth crowd hopes to evade is comprehended within one or both of the two great commandments.

Tom Chantry said...

I've been fighting this one for years. And mind, there is a very subtle version of it at work in many, many circles. It isn't only the problem of the emergent-ing-erite-ians. It seems that in almost any fellowship or denomination, where some look to draw firm lines on truth, others say, "Oh, but are we being loving enough?" Many who say this do not recognize themselves as the vanguard of gospel-destroying liberalism.

DJP said...

Oh, absolutely right, Tom. I was hearing this repeatedly from Charismatics from the early-to-mid seventies on.

Mike Westfall said...

Wow.

Not only do some people think only the "red letters" are important, but they don't even pay attention to all of those.

Mike Westfall said...

Wait, I meant to check the "Email follow-up comments" box!

sonofthunder7 said...

Simply beautiful. I don't know if I've ever read a more concise(yet comphrehensive) treatment of truth and love.

And Dan, this isn' fair. There's pretty much *no way* anyone could say a thing against what you've put forth here. Where's the fun in that? Couldn't you have included a bit more snark??

DJP said...

Oh, sonofthunder7, they'll find a way — probably late in the day after everyone else's attention has moved on.

(c:

Lynda O said...

Great points, Dan -- and a good follow-up from some of my daily reading today, which included Leviticus 19. Amongst all the various civil laws comes the overall precept, to love your neighbor as yourself. As I've been reading through these chapters of the law the last few days, it's been helpful to observe the overall point, that all the law is summed up in the two commands, "love your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself."

But as we know, many Christians like to just pick out certain verses as stock answers to all of life's problems -- as if that contains all of God's revealed word, and just ignore the rest. But God gave us 66 books of His word, and it is just such a slap against God to say "I only want to read..." certain verses and focus only on those, rather than treasuring all of God's word. After all, how can we possibly obey His commandments if we don't know what they are?

Strong Tower said...

word verification: amencess

Treacly speaking that is.

Another version, one I hear most often is, "Christianity is a relationship, not a doctrine." Of course the problems begin with defining who the relationship is with and go downhill from there. Recently, though, the Jesus equals love theme has been the trump card for those advocating against a law or constitutional change here that would clarify the states statutes on same-sex marriage. When advocates for real marriage state their case it is called the hatred and bigotry of doctrinaires by the same-sexers who typically respond with their message that Jesus is love. The bumpersticker sloganism has hold of both sides, though, as neither side deems it necessary to actually explain what they're meaning when they take up the bull-horns.

Funny thing is, when and if the law is changed or a constitutional amendment is or is not passed, the result will be a statute... in otherwords, the expression of love will come down to the majority opinion, and will stand as part of the doctrines of the state. Even sadder, some will look to those statutes and say they are the final arbiter of the doctrine of love... until the next session of the legislature, that is.

Scooter said...

I've found this analogy to be helpful for me.

The love that God reveals to us in Scripture, the love that he loves us with and the love we are to show, is a like a lump of clay. Obedience to God will produce a statue that when taken through the kiln of persecution and trials, produces a beautiful, costly statue to gaze upon. However, the lovey-squishy crowd continuously wants to make it into a mudpie and say, "Look! Pretty!" (Take the metaphor for what it's worth.)

My heart wants to be part of that crowd, though I regularly struggle with the part of showing mercy to the weak.

Tom said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJP said...

Oh, now, dude, thanks for the kind words, but don't put me up against Frank. Frank is my better in just about every way, and I learn from him all the time. On my brightest day I don't touch Frank's duller moments.

thenface2face said...

Mr. Phillips,

Did you think I was going to argue with this awesome post? Everyone knows I have given that up! Rhology will attest to that!

I wouldn't change a dot or a tittle. I love truth. I sleep with Grudem's Systematic Theology next to my bed, and when I'm not writing long rambling comments in the delirium of insomnia,I am reading with awe his seamless movement from a charitable-to-all sides presentation of doctrine, to a rousing worship of our Lord. Who alone is perfection of Love and Truth. I am only a worm, and really, the worst: "full of passionate intensity."

Now off to watch a Math Video with one of my students. If I can get up from this chair. One of the little scholars is biting my ankle.

Yours Truly,
Karen Butler

Tom Chantry said...

Tom,

I don’t know how I can say this without you accusing me of being unloving, but I’ll try.

Brother, it’s time for you to move on and find some other use of your internet time. It is becoming painfully obvious that at some time each day you say to yourself, “Hey, it’s time to go check out TeamPyro and hammer on Frank Turk.” It’s one thing if you disagree with the content of one of his posts - or of one of his comments - or even if you disapprove of his tone.

But now you’ve come here, read a post by another team member with which you can find no quarrel, and yet you post a comment for which the only discernable reason is to bash Frank. You’re beginning to sound like the deranged “Fox Lies!” eighth grade teacher in my state who couldn’t come up with anything to say but wouldn’t stop saying it. Every day we come here and find you standing just off to the side yelling, “Turk’s a Jerk! Turk’s a Jerk! Turk’s a Jerk!”

And this is helping the tone at Pyro? How? It’s not helping Frank, and it’s not helping anyone else. Brother, I can’t see how it’s helping you. It’s time to stop.

Peace to you.

Chuck said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
thenface2face said...

Mr. Chantry,
I have noted with much pleasure the amelioration of mannrs at the meta. We have moved from being "Shark Tank" to repeating "High School."

And now I am issuing a serious caution. Perhaps Tom is a festering wound from one of Frank's bully pulpits. We all remember the sad trajectories of those who have suffered schoolyard bullying.

sincerely yours,
Karen Butler

Tom Chantry said...

Karen,

If that's so, I think my comment is even more reasonable. Vendetta isn't helping Tom, if that is (as you wonder) his reason.

I'll ask you the same question. Do you think it is helpful to hang out in the meta of a blog where you dislike one of the team members just so that you can take swipes at them on a regular basis?

Robert said...

How did Frank even wind up addressed here? He hasn't even made a comment on this post! I guess both this comment and Tom's strayed from your suggestion. My apologies...just couldn't quite figure out why that comment was fitting.

Robert said...

Oh...and I was talking about no profile Tom (not Chantry), just to be clear. It is nice that being Robert actually doesn't lead to confusion on here! 8o)

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Thanking God for Romans 5:8.

I read, and to my sorrow, know that I don't love God with all my heart, soul, and mind. I don't unfailingly obey Him. I fear that my heart is prone to wander.

To rely on my ability to love - to rely on me in any way - would be a disaster.

Thanking the Lord, this morning, that He did it all. Hallelujah.

Thanks, Dan, for tying that all together so neatly.


And, off topic for a moment (if you'll permit me), prayer would be appreciated this morning at our house. Two-thirds of the Grasshoppers are sick, and in the next few hours their brother (and I?) may join them in their misery. *ugh*

Thanks.

Julie

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

This article is not primarily about exploring the fullness of love in Christianity so much as it is a condemnation of Christians who overemphasize one dimension of love (openness, kindness, patience, forgiveness) at the expense of another (living morally/obeying God's moral law and Jesus's moral teaching).

Those who say that sinfulness is irrelevant to our ability to love are wrong. But, so are those who dismiss mercy, peacemaking, forgivness and openness toward others as nothing more than "cheesy sentimentalism". These virtues are not mutually exclusive of obedience to moral teaching. It's a serious problem when people think that as long as we abide by the "feel good" aspects of love, morality doesn't matter. But morality and obedience (the more legalistic aspects of love) are equally inadequate if they are absent of the relational aspects of love (mercy, patience, kindness, forgiveness, etc). It's problematic when one tries to divorce the two to emphasize one or the other.

I agree with your broader point that love of God comes first, and that our ability to love our neighbor depends upon that (we can't love our neighbor properly if we're in a state of sin). I also agree that some churches are so concerned with being inclusive that they downplay what's required to love God (obedience being among them).

If we're going to follow Jesus's example, we need to be both radically open and welcoming to outsiders while also holding them (and ourselves) accountable. Jesus welcomed sinners and saints, rich and poor, but he made it clear that all were expected to repent. Without truth, love is nothing more than sentimentality. Without love, truth is nothing more than secular law.

DJP said...

sonofthunder7 - see?

Where there's a will....

Robert said...

Johannes,

I would say that Jesus never failed to confront people about their sin, too. People have to know what they are repenting of before repenting. And they also have to know Who Jesus really is.

Once again, this leads back to doctrine. If we don't love Jesus as He is defined in the Bible, but rather love Jesus from certain parts of the Bible, while being willfully ignorant (at best) or rebellious against Jesus as He defines Himself in all of the Bible, then we are not His disciples. And at that point, we're back to trying to make the Bible conform to what our minds believe instead of conforming our minds from worldly thinking to biblical thinking (a la Romans 12:2).

Eric said...

Johannes, you said:

"This article is not primarily about exploring the fullness of love in Christianity so much as it is a condemnation of Christians who overemphasize..."

To which I say:

Your comment is not primarily about exploring the truth and beauty contained in the passages analyzed by the author so much as it is a condemnation of a fellow Christian who wrote a blog post differently than you would have.

After which I ask:

Does it feel good to have your words boiled down and reduced to a "condemnation of" someone else?

Johannes said...

Robert,

I don't understand how what you're saying is in conflict with what I've stated. Jesus's life is an expression of the fullness of love. He made serious demands of his disciples and offered some clear moral and doctrinal teachings. I agree that we must obey those. But I also think it's obvious from Jesus's own example that we can hold people accountable for their sin while still being kind and generous toward them. If you're serious about basing your doctrine on what really occurred as recorded in the gospels, then you can't ignore all of the instances where Jesus instructs his disciples on how they should relate to others (especially non-Christians). What's with this obsession on moralizing at the expense of all else?

Jesus accomplished more than simply reminding us that we must do what God orders. If morality is the only truth of Jesus's life, death and resurrection, then it accomplished nothing new. The Old Testament already provides the laws and a command to obey them. The gospels make it very obvious that Jesus's live was about God's love for Man, and not just about man's obligations to God. He raised people up through more than condemnation of their sins. Repenting isn't just about ceasing to sin, it's about confessing your sins and choosing to love instead of sinning.

Tom Chantry said...

If morality is the only truth of Jesus's life, death and resurrection, then it accomplished nothing new.

Exactly whom is this addressed to?

Gary Good said...

Excellent post. Too often, people will take a single verse and twist it into their own theology to support whatever they want. It's so important to study the entire Bible.

Great explanation on what Jesus meant when he said to love him. Which then leads to the next question: what did Jesus mean by "love" when he said to "love one another as I have loved you." So, we have to see how Jesus loved others.

He didn't love the prostitutes and tax collectors by telling them, "don't worry about your lifestyle. You're fine just the way you are." No, he told them to "repent and sin no more." Not unlike a good parent loving their children through teaching and discipline.

Johannes said...

Well Eric, to that I say: I challenged this article because it (like so many other articles on this blog), attacks a cartoonish stereotype of other Christian denominations and teachings. You're all so fixated on my critiques of this article that you've completely ignored the many points where I've agreed with it. But I suppose that's the privilege of those who are convinced of their own perfection - they can dismiss criticism without doing any serious personal reflection. Clearly you see yourselves as being completely above reproach. You're all perfect - it's everyone else that needs to do the repenting.

Johannes said...

My broader point is that Jesus demands that we do more in this life than just call people out on their sin. If you're saying that loving God is just about rule following and that loving your neighbor only involves telling them to follow the rules, then you're choosing to ignore a huge part of the Gospels.

Eric said...

Johannes,

Please don't overreact. I asked a simple question. Is that unfair? You seem as unwilling to consider critique as you accuse others of being. Another simple question: Who here claimed to be perfect or above critique? And DJP is the one creating cartoonish stereotypes?

SolaMommy said...

Dan,

I LOL'd at the "Truth Nazi" graphic :-)

This is a great follow-up to Frank's post about Shane Claiborne.

Eric said...

"If you're saying that loving God is just about rule following and that loving your neighbor only involves telling them to follow the rules..."

Johannes,

Where in the world did you come up with that? In the opening comment DJP says: "It would be even more lovely if all commenters gave the entire post a thoughtful read before commenting."

There is no way that a thoughtful and gracious Christian can read what DJP wrote and end up thinking that he in any way said anything resembling your quote above.

DJP said...

Thanks for noticing, Eric.

T said...

Eric - The entire post is about rule following (whether the commandments or doctrine that dictates our behavior).

Every one of the passages he cites concerns following the commandments (which are rules):

"Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you?" Jesus asks (Luke 6:46).

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments." (John 14:15)

"Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. ...If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me" (John 14:21, 23-24)

"If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love" (John 15:10)

And Dan says:

"So right away, we know that Jesus expects obedience to His words to characterize His real followers."

"Jesus' concept of love walks hand in hand with His commandments."

"Whatever He means by "love" in John 13, then, it must be characterized and framed by obedience to His words"

"And what, pray, is love for God? The concept is explained and given full color in the Old Testament, whence Jesus mined this gold. Let's just lift a snippet:

'You shall therefore love the LORD your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always"


I agree with everything above, and I'm also observing that Christ's teachings included an awful lot about relating to others in a certain way (mercy, charity, etc.).

Are these 9 citations sufficient, or are you still going to tell me that I didn't read the article?

If I'm making claims that you think are doctrinally wrong, then address them specifically and tell me why. If you provide a more convincing argument than me, then you win. But so far all you've done is throw a hissy fit over my having suggested that Dan's article isn't absolutely flawless.

DJP said...

Being merciful isn't a command?

Tom Chantry said...

T(who seems to be answering for Johannes, and I assume is the same person,

I'm a Christian blogger. I once posted something about how cool it was that the Phillies won the World Series. The "whole post" was about that. Does that mean that one might infer that I believe that the gospel is "just about" the Phillies winning?

Eric said...

T, or Johannes (or whoever you are),

1) I never said you didn't read the article. I will, however, suggest that you need to work on your reading comprehension skills.

2) I chose not to respond further to you, since you are unwilling to respond to simple questions. I will let the other readers judge for themselves as to who is throwing a "hissy fit".

Daryl said...

Excellent post Dan.

What ever else love for God and neighbour might be, it cannot exclude obedience to what God commands.

That's not all it includes...

Well, no, actually it is all it includes. How can I love my neighbour without mercy, which, as Tom Chantry pointed out, is a command?

I can't think of any manifestation of love that doesn't involved obedience to one command or another.

Even knowing and loving correct doctrine is commanded...so there you go.

Great post. Helpful to me...if not to everyone...

Tom Chantry said...

Uh oh, Dan. They think I'm you. We're both in a load of trouble.

Johannes said...

Eric - I've supported my comprehension of this article in great detail using textual support, which is more than I can say for you. If you choose not to offer a substantive response, it's because you can't.

Johannes said...

And from what I can see, I've responded to every question you've posed in great detail. I only wish that you'd extended me the same courtesy so that we could have had a productive discussion of the issues.

Tom Chantry said...

OK, Johannes. You seem not to be responding to me, which is cool - nobody has to. But I want to try one more time to see if I can help you see why we don't think you've understood the post. (For my part, I hate saying people haven't read the post, but I think you have missed a critical distinction.)

You wrote this: My broader point is that Jesus demands that we do more in this life than just call people out on their sin. If you're saying that loving God is just about rule following and that loving your neighbor only involves telling them to follow the rules, then you're choosing to ignore a huge part of the Gospels.

What we tell our neighbors is the gospel. There is, as you rightly note, far more to that than following the rules. Dan didn't write that.

He did not say, "loving your neighbor only involves telling them to follow the rules." Rather, if I may paraphrase, he said, "loving your neighbor must involve following the rules yourself." For the moment let's leave aside the question of the law's place in gospel presentation: can you see the distinction between the two above comments?

Dan's blog today was no more about how to share the gospel than was my rather trivial post two years ago about how happy I was that the Phillies won the World Series. Whole different topic today.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Pastor Tom Chantry: "It seems that in almost any fellowship or denomination, where some look to draw firm lines on truth, others say, "Oh, but are we being loving enough?" Many who say this do not recognize themselves as the vanguard of gospel-destroying liberalism."

Honestly, this is a lovingly truthful observation.

Sometimes though, the truth in love causes one to lament. Not to regret saying the truth in love, but to lament that the circumstances or situation is the way it really is.

Tom Chantry said...

TUAD,

I would agree.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Johannes: "If we're going to follow Jesus's example, we need to be both radically open and welcoming to outsiders while also holding them (and ourselves) accountable. Jesus welcomed sinners and saints, rich and poor, but he made it clear that all were expected to repent."

I don't know what you mean by "radical" but I can more or less understand what you're saying here.

Johannes, let me provide an example of what I'm trying to convey. Scripture speaks about the differences between shepherds and hirelings. True and good and courageous shepherds.

Shepherds protect the flock. They shoot wolves (metaphorically speaking) to protect the flock.

True shepherds will fight false shepherds. They will fight wolves.

They will fight heretics, apostates, blasphemers.

Shepherds will fulfill the Great Commission but not be "radically open" to heretics, apostates, and blasphemers under a distorted understanding of "love."

Does that make sense, Johannes?

The Bible Christian said...

My thoughts after reading this... I could be way off, but this is what I get

Truth
Love
Great Love
Penal Substitution
Slave
Obedience
Love for Christ
Love for the brethren

Daryl said...

Tom,

I figured it was a step sideways from calling Dan, Phil.


Note to self: Always double check your sources...

DJP said...

The Bible Christian — yeah, but that's only if you read it with those special no-chip-on-your-shoulder glasses.

The Bible Christian said...

Dan

Really was a excellent post... I'll try to remember the glasses next time!

trogdor said...

The chip on my shoulder is just like a phylactery to show how loving and merciful I am.

thenface2face said...

Mr. Chantry:

I hang out here because of the wit of writers like you.

I hang out here because of the brilliance and beauty and exalted thinking that regularly shines out of the broken clay pots,like you, that the Master chooses to honor. Because of words like these:

"For there and there alone do we meet fierce and undeniable love which crashes upon our lovelessness, dashes aside our objections and rebellion, and saves and converts and conquers us."

That is a memorable phrase, Dan. And I meant to say it,and would have, except for the urgency of the morning's business.

"where you dislike one of the team members"...Why do you think so? Curious, especially given that some of the drift of the comments is about the need for tough love.

When there was a tweet the other night that seemed unseemly, I was really torn up inside, and I didn't cheer as it was unveiled, I prayed. I didn't rejoice over it, I shuddered at it. I have experienced the discipline and sifting of the Lord in my life too many times to be glad when somebody else looks like he might get a paddling soon, or worse, a sifting.

And there is no doubt,I am a mean and nasty person without Jesus' covering and cleaning and re-creating--my husband says in ten years I may just be tolerable enough to live with--but here's one thing I do that's right: I thank God when He spanks me, no matter how humiliating or public. He means to grow me to look like His dear Son.

And I respect the instrument He chooses to use. See the comments on "Building Bridges."

Not many noble, especially this worthless slave,
Karen Butler

Tom Chantry said...

Karen,

I was writing to you, not necessarily about you. Some commenters make it plain that they have no other reason to be here. If you were to find yourself in that category, now or ever in the future, it would be time to step away.

I don't mean that as a nasty Smeagolly comment (Go away, and never come back!), but in a truly concerned and kind way. I think it is undeniable that some commenters at this blog have no reason to be here except their rage against one of the moderators. That is sad - both for the blog and for them.

We have a worthy discussion of a worthy post going here; Dan wrote about the nature of Christian love. One commenter disagreed with what he wrote, but that has led to an (I think) fruitful discussion of the relationship of sanctification to the gospel. Which is good, I happen to think.

Yet in the middle of it someone had to jump in and say, "Why can't Frank Turk ever write stuff like this?" Which is just very, very sad. It's sad that he (and I'm afraid a few others like him) can't walk away, and it's sad that those of us who want to discuss the intersection of doctrine and practice are distracted by the resulting sideshow.

greglong said...

Tom Chantry is a Phillies fan?

That settles it in my mind; he must be the fourth Pryo. And I can't wait for the photoshopped Mt. Rushmore of Pyromaniacs graphic.

P.S. Turk's a Jerk! Turk's a Jerk! Turk's a Jerk!

(It's kind of fun, I'll admit.)

Tom said...

Just for the record (for Chantry anyway), I don't come here every day, I don't post every day, I and I don't have a vandetta against Frank. I actually like most of what I read here.

But since you guys are big boys, I figured you can handle some good natured ribbing...


word verification: blisess

May you and yours be blisess-ed.

James S said...

I bummed out. I was hoping Tom was a Pirates fan.
(Though I would not require him to be a fan of this current sham Pirates ownership, of which even this lifelong Pirates fan cannot stomach).

Sorry, I don't mean to go off topic, Dan. I LOVED this post as well as the shorter version you did a long time ago. I think that was one of the first posts I ever read of yours and it hooked me for life.

Tom Chantry said...

OK, you're right, "every day" was certainly hyperbole.

Can I ask you some serious questions?

What was the point of your earlier (apparently now deleted) comment? How was it meant to contribute to the discussion here today (which has been effectively derailed)?

Do you remember the last time you posted on this blog to do anything other than tweak Frank Turk? (I don't, but I could easily have missed something.)

Is it "good-natured ribbing" to comment over and over about one poster's perceived weaknesses? Or is it relentless hounding?

Since my alter-ego came out today, I may as well say it: your comments here remind me of the comments of Mets fans who show up on Phillies blogs every time the Phillies lose (even if they're playing the Braves.) Every team has these kind of fans. (Well, almost every team.) They just can't avoid sailing in and posting trash-talk. I have no doubt that some of them are nice guys in their day-to-day life, and for all I know, so are you. But online, they kind of look like jerks.

That sort of behavior is mildly annoying on an inconsequential fanblog. It should go without saying that it has no place in a blog that discusses the things of God.

Last question: is that the image you are trying to portray?

Rachael Starke said...

Tom Chantry

I don't like your tone towards Karen. It is entirely too charitable and patient.

Rachael Starke said...

But to the subject of the post. :)

As usual, the timing is providential, given some really, really scary and discouraging things happening at my church. There's been a big uptick in the denigration of knowledge and the love of doctrine. I understand some of the root causes - but solution to those with heads full of doctrine and not enough love isn't no doctrine - it's better doctrine. Specifically, a better understanding of the doctrine of the love of God for sinners. Fix people's diluted, anaemic understanding of the love of God for them, and you'll fix the problems with how they don't love others. (Ironically, hardcore truthers will have the hardest time believing they've missed a thing or two on this front, but that's prolly a post for another day.)

So, thank you. This was a great clarification.

But I swear - if you wrote a post arguing for the value and necessity of vowels, highlighting their many essentials uses,

you'd have twenty people insisting that you don't believe in the importance of consonants, and that you may in fact be an alphabet-denier.

Nelvan's Notes said...

LOVE FROM GOD PRECEDES THE COMMAND TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER
(Otherwise we have the cart before the horse)Ro 5:8 But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. SINNERS CAN ONLY LOVE THEMSELVES OR OTHERS FOR WHAT THEY CAN DO FOR THEM.
Ro 5:6 ¶ For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. SINNERS HAVE NEITHER THE CAPACITY NOR THE POWER TO SAVE THEMSELVES OR TRULY LOVE ANOTHER.
1Jo 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. AND WE WILL IF THAT GOD WHO IS LOVE DWELLS WITH IN US.
1Jo 4:9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. AND HE THROUGH US.
1Jo 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
1Jo 4:7 ¶ Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
BECAUSE 1Jo 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. THE ONLY REAL SOURCE OR RIGHTEOUSNESS OR LOVE IS THE RIGHTEOUS GOD WHO IS LOVE.
1Jo 4:12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.
1Jo 2:5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. NOTE IT IS THE LOVE OF GOD NOT THE LOVE FOR THAT IS PERFECTED IN US.
1Jo 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked. WHY? BECAUSE HE SAYS THAT HE IS THE GOD OF OUR TEMPLE(BODY) AND HE WILL WALK IN US AND LOVE THROUGH US.
NELVANSNOTES

Thomas Louw said...

Dan.
Respect to you brother wished all read your first comment .
Enjoyed the post and some comments but, got this awful taste in my mouth.
Maybe if we would just stay away from the kids behind the gym and it would be a good idée.

Tom said...

Tom (the Chantry) wrote:

"What was the point of your earlier (apparently now deleted) comment? How was it meant to contribute to the discussion here today (which has been effectively derailed)?"

The point was ... (insert snarky comments like the ones I received yesterday when I asked about the point of Frank's open letter to Esquire.)


"Do you remember the last time you posted on this blog to do anything other than tweak Frank Turk? (I don't, but I could easily have missed something.)"

Not specifically, since I don't post here that often. But, it was probably when I was sparring with or agreeing with Sensei DJP.


"Is it "good-natured ribbing" to comment over and over about one poster's perceived weaknesses? Or is it relentless hounding?"

Again, describing my posts here (and specifically about Frank) as "over and over" and "relentless hounding" is more hyperbole. But, honestly, I could ask the same question about much of what is discussed here at Pyro ... you know, the "over and over" and "relentless hounding" bit.


"Since my alter-ego came out today, I may as well say it: your comments here remind me of the comments of Mets fans who ..."

Sorry, Tom, you lost me at Mets.


"It should go without saying that it has no place in a blog that discusses the things of God."

Do you allow this same argument to work for those who would accuse Pyro of doing things that they find questionable? Like, for instance, posting the Esquire cover? I didn't care about it myself, but how much grief did people get for asking Frank to Burka-ize it?


"Last question: is that the image you are trying to portray?"

I don't have a self-image problem, so I'm not here to impress you.

Love&Truth,

Tom

Tyrone said...

Let us not be surprised by those who reject sound doctrine. For there will be those who will not endure sound doctrine heaping up teachers unto themselves having itching ears. This is clearly taught by the Apostle Paul. However we must hold onto to it with all we have in Him. Let us continue to stand for the truth of His Word!

sonofthunder7 said...

Dan....all I can say is: you were right. I didn't think it was possible, but maybe I'm just a little too naive.

On another note, was reading in Philippians last night and thought immediately of this post. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing for Pyro to pop into my mind as I'm reading Scripture:

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
-Phil. 1:9-11

Thanks again for the encouraging and Christ-glorifying post, Dan.

Tom Chantry said...

So in other words, anything you do or say at this blog is justified because you believe worse has been done by the moderators. You really do hate this blog, and you have decided it is justifiable and somehow beneficial to yourself to come here and do likewise.

It's a pity you didn't understand the fanblog analogy. I think if you could see the sort of behavior I'm talking about there, it would teach you a lot about yourself.

("Ha Ha!" said the Met's fan. "Phillies stink! You guys Stink! Ha Ha!")

It's juvenile, but I guess it's how you intend to conduct yourself here, and there's not anything I can do about it. Have fun.

Robert said...

Tom,

I actually thought that was a perfect analogy. I must confess, though, that I am a Giants fan. Looking forward to seeing those pitching staffs match up against each other in the playoffs this year.

Back to the post and these comments...this is one of the many areas where Christians have to find that balance that really matches up with the example of Jesus. He showed love and mercy to all, but never hesitated to point out sin in their lives so that they knew the cost. Look at the Samaritan woman at the well...do you think that she did not feel His love even though He pointed out that she was caught up in fornication?

We need to be able to point people to their real problem, sin, and tell them that we are all under the curse of sin. Then we can present the Gospel and tell them that Jesus, Who is God, came and lived a perfect life (while under temptation and suffering in a human body) and took on the wrath of God in our place so that we may can be united with Him in heaven. And there you have truth and love...and we need both.

Tom Chantry said...

Oh Robert. Oh. I'm glad you didn't tell me that in November. Oh my. I'm beginning to get over it.

Robert said...

It's OK, Tom. I've had a couple of great years being a Saints and Giants fan after many years of misery with both. Now if only the Jazz can pull things together...

cmt122 said...

What is more loving than truth? Excellent read thanks!

Johnny Dialectic said...

Being late to the party I'd like to try responding directly to DJP's post.

Excellent. There is such a lot of "Fantasy-Jesus" stuff out there, or "Half-Jesus". Or even "Less-than-half." (The saddest part of the Claiborne letter was his account of having an open door to share the gospel with a guy and not doing it).

Penal substitution and being raised to live a new life (Ro. 6:4), sin no longer our master (6:14) and enabled to add to our faith goodness (2 Pet. 1:5) and on from there. Free indeed!

Stefan said...

Another comment, also trying to get things back on topic:

Great post on the Great Commandment.

I've been struck by how just a few verses after Deuteronomy 6:5:

"You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength"

...comes another commandment, very similar in structure, at 6:13:

"It is Yahweh your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by His Name you shall swear."

The two verses very much complement each other.

And re Trogdor's comment from yesterday in phylacteries: was that an (un?)intentional joke? Based on Deuteronomy 6:8, one of the verses that are written on the tiny scroll inside a phylactery is...Deuteronomy 6:5!

Jim Pemberton said...

It seems that three things are at play between the article and the comments:

1) Love
2) Sound Doctrine
3) Obedience

There seems to be some equivocation assumed between them in general. But Dan makes a very important point:

“So what have we established? Only that Jesus didn't say what He didn't say in this passage.”

I hear very conservative preachers and good students of scripture make the hermeneutical error of incorrectly arguing from silence. For example, it might be said, “What Paul did not say was…” and then what Paul didn’t say is used as a lesson. The point might be perfectly valid, but not from the immediate text unless equivocation is clear in the text. Where the logical relationship is conditional, arguing from silence is denying the consequent (given, of course, that the logic is discernibly deductive rather than inductive).

Apropos to this discourse, take John 14:15 as a straight-up syllogism: “If you love me, [then] you will keep my commandments.” For this to be equivocal we would have to also be able to say that if we keep His commandments then we love Him, or if we don’t love Him then we won’t keep His commandments. If this were true, then the Pharisees loved Him, or any reference to them following the law was incorrect or tongue-in-cheek.

As I observe the three items here are not equivalent items.

1) You cannot truly love without pursuing righteousness.
2) You cannot truly love without pursuing sound doctrine.
3) Sound doctrine and obedience have a rather weak link, however. You can be obedient without having sound doctrine (atheistic moralism is an extreme example) and you can have sound doctrine without being obedient. Any spillover from one to the other comes through also loving God.

But I must note that one can have sound doctrine without loving God or anyone else. I admit I haven’t demonstrated that relationship scripturally and the best I can do as I type extemporaneously is to point to James where the demons believe and don’t have faith (James 2:19).

A personal example is that I know apparently godly Christians who have sound doctrine, are obedient, and love each other very well also seem to lack that same love for other Christians who are socially challenging. There is a man who has been in my fellowship who is socially challenging. Due to some health issue he once had, he doesn’t have the intelligence to understand deeper theology and his manner is often less than tasteful. Nevertheless, he professes Christ and attends church regularly, even attempting to minister in some way. If there is someone who defines the opposite of the “in” crowd, this man is it. It is considered “loving” by my godly brothers to berate him for behaving badly. Not one has taken the time to work with him to help him normalize behavior to something more fitting for a Christian and I hear them laugh about him in his absence. My godly brothers are also considerably loving to each other as evidenced by some of the playful banter that they do.

Now I’m not very good at playful banter. I know that if I said to them the same things that they say to each other, they would look at me funny, because I’ve tried it. There must be some connection between them that I lack. I am at least intelligent enough to know how to act like I have some sense. But this other fellow doesn’t have that kind of intelligence. There is a mutual love that my godly brothers have for each other that even I am excluded from. How much more this poor soul who needs help developing the godly fellowship he needs to grow in his faith?

Christ admonished us to love those who cannot return the outward workings of our love (Luke 14:14) and made it a condition of His judgment (Matthew 25).

Therefore, I consider that it is possible to be doctrinally sound and otherwise obedient, but lack this important if altogether uncomfortable aspect of love.

Dave said...

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

This verse packs a whallup - to write about it would drain the oceans dry!

Thanks!

Dave said...

I'm camping out on "...as I have loved you" from Genesis to Revelation and personal experience. I'm looking forward to sharing this lifelong pursuit with my wife and kids.

And the actual spelling is.... wallop.

thenface2face said...

Dear Jim Pemberton,

“Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Thank you for your lovely words, and more important than words, your godly actions.

I pray you never learn banter. You have a gift of plain speech. I pray you steer clear of the cliques, and continue to hang with the nerds.

And while you lost me in the logic (I am still in the Introductory phase) you won my heart in your illustration. You are also why I continue to read Pyros.

your grateful sister,
Karen Butler

philness said...

When a young child gives a parent a gift- from whom does the child get the resources to purchase the gift?
The child is not mature enough to go independant and earn for himself a wage to purchase a gift. The child is still being taught that all the resources and dependability comes from his loving father & mother. This built-in love by the parents alone is the childs sole tutor of what truth & love looks like.

For how pretentuous it would be the young child unjustifiably give any gift outside any means of his loving parents.

Likewise if it is man's sole purpose to glorify God- and it is, then how can this be accomplished any more perfect and sweeter from any other means outside the knowledge of God's truth & love through His son's shed blood?

chiefofleast.com said...

Your point on the "Greatest Commandment" is something every professing Christian needs to hear. So many times it's preached like just another new law that we can obey by just mustering up our own strength. Talking about expressing such perfect love with no context to our inability will just hang a great yoke of guilt around the hearer's neck.

It should be somberly noted that when we talk about loving God like it's a naturally accomplishable commandment we may be making our audience twice the sons of hell for hearing it. If one has no revelation of the love of God on the cross all their affections are worthless to achieving obedience(1 John 4:10)

theoldadam said...

"If you..."

I guess I'm out then...'cause I rarely do.

DJP said...

Given that your pc only shows two words in a much longer post, I'd urge you to seek out a local IT professional. You're missing a lot.

David Rudd said...

dan,

i don't read much over the weekend so i'm just reading this post.

a ven diagram of your thoughts might help re-adjust the presupposition of those who want all things to take the form of a hierarchy...

thenface2face said...

Excellent suggestion, David, and since the Head Schoolmaster has stepped away from the classroom, I'll draw my own Venn on the chalkboard:

Two circles intersecting are a giant Baptismal Pool, and the Cross of Christ is the intersection.

The circle on the left is marked, "Baptized into His death" and the circle on the right would say, "Raised into His indestructible Life." Over it all, Romans 6:3-5. That's what this old
schoolmarm would draw anyway.


And Robert, Yes, GO GIANTS! And for the rest of you haters, some Gospel-y reasons why they were exalted as champs. http://thenface2face.wordpress.com/2010/11/06/my-favorite-things-baseball-and-in-particular-the-sf-giants/

And even if you disagree still, there is an cool quote in there from an article speculating on the hypothetical longest home run ever.
Any home run is simply miraculous, and the secular writer of that quote tells you why.

Happy They Put the Dodgers in Their Place in Spring Training,
Karen Butler