Friday Morning: Kevin Bauder -- "An Apostle's Reaction to Indifferentism: Counsel for Healthy Christianity"
Song: "Speak O Lord." (Gettys) When Tim Jordan introduced Kevin Bauder, he mentioned that at the end of this school year, Bauder will be stepping down from the presidency at Central Seminary and staying on at the seminary but focusing on research and writing.
Text: 2 John 7-11
- The idea of fundamentalism is concerned with the well-being of the church.
- There is a particular aspect of the well-being of the church that I want to deal with.
- Let me begin with a story.
- Pastor in Grand Rapids is in the first couple weeks of his ministry.
- A knock at his door. Reps of the Grand Rapids Baptist Association want to give him an update.
- A pastor in the association had preached a great message on the virgin birth at an association meeting. He was vocally opposed by another pastor in attendance, stating that the virgin birth was contrary to reason and that he and his church were opposed to it.
- The reps asked this new pastor where he stood on this issue.
Question 1: What’s going on here? (vv. 7-8)
- John talks about the presence of an apostate.
- When we talk about unbelievers, they are of different sorts. Some are casual unbelievers. They have never considered the truth (aside from Rom. 1 considerations). There are others who have considered the claims of Christ and rejected them. These people are infidels, considered, settled unbelievers (e.g. Christopher Hitchens). An apostate is different. He will claim to be a Christian, but when you ask him what he means by the Gospel you discover it is not the truth of the scriptures but of human invention that denies the Gospel. That’s who John is talking about in this passage.
- Those believing that Jesus had not come in the flesh are sourced in Gnosticism. With John, this is a problem b/c if there is no incarnation then there is no Gospel, no salvation. Jesus only has power to save only if He is Lord, only if He is God. Jesus only has power to save us if He is man.
- John says that these people are liars and antichrists! These are not gentle words. John feels the weight of this problem deeply.
- V. 8, textual problem with the pronouns. At the end of the day, the problem doesn’t alter the message of the verse. He seems to be saying that it is possible even for believers to lose reward that they would have otherwise had.
Question 2: Why is this serious? (v. 9)
- John is saying that the false teachers that he has in view, these deceivers, the doctrine that they are tampering with is a touchstone doctrine.
- You can’t even recognize this person as an individual who has God. To deny this doctrine is to place you outside the community governed by God. This is an essential doctrine to the Gospel, to Christianity.
- Shortly after John wrote these words, Christians had to formulate short expressions that they felt to be essential truths of Christianity. Not long after came the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, etc. These are summary statement of the most important aspects of the Christian faith. At the Reformation, a different set of doctrines were challenged and resulted in Christ alone, faith alone, grace alone, etc.
- Fundamentalists did not invent the notion of fundamentals. They inherited the notion of fundamentals. This is an old distinction.
- What constitutes a fundamental? It is essential to the Gospel.
- We can’t see the heart, so John obligates us to make a judgment based on someone’s profession.
- Back to the story, the only possible answer to the reps’ question is to view the opposing pastor and his church as apostate. You can’t have a Gospel w/o an incarnation and you can’t have an incarnation w/o a Virgin Birth.
Question 3: What am I supposed to do? (vv. 10-11)
- 2 Possible Responses:
- Don’t receive him or even give him a basic greeting. What does it mean not to receive him into your house? A JW coming to your door? Someone coming to a house church? Doesn’t matter. Whatever the house is, the point is clear: don’t give the apostate an opportunity to present his heretical views. You exclude him from the fellowship of the believers. You don’t even give this person a civil greeting. That is countercultural today but even more—a grave breech of hospitality—in the 1st century.
- Are these issues applicable only to Christology or are there other heresies that rise to the same level?
- 1 Corinthians 15:16-17, the error taught in Corinth was that there was no future resurrection. To deny the resurrection of Christ is a direct, frontal assault on the Gospel. But Paul goes a step further. He operates inferentially. You can’t have the resurrection of Christ if you don’t have resurrection.
- Galatians 1:6-9, the heresy led people to lean on legal observance for justification. Paul says it’s another Gospel of a different kind. It doesn’t belong to the same category. Then Paul pronounces a judgment. Paul says “let him be damned.” No stronger language was possible.
- These passages are allied with 2 John. Different issues, times, apostles, places—but they all represent affronts to the Gospel with their denials.
- What’s the likely result of Plan A? You don’t need to worry about verse 8, losing reward. That should raise a question. Why would this association with an apostate cost me reward. I don’t believe that scripture is requiring a process of shunning. The apostate comes to you with a specific purpose: trying to subvert you and others with false teaching. It’s not talking about ordinary, social relationships.
- Back to the story, if you’re the pastor thinking of 2 John, you would say that you can’t let the pastor or his church in your “house,” the association. Purge them out. Here’s the problem. He did make that suggestion but there was no method in the constitution for disassociating a member church. Now what do you do? The only other alternative is to come out yourself.
- There is a fine line about knowing when to come out or put someone out. We tend to become attached to the structures we’re involved in. So how do we know when to come out?
- J. Gresham Machen had to deal with this. In Machen’s case, when he began the "put out" maneuvers, they put him out. When they control the councils of the organization—when the apostates are so entrenched that there is no way to get them out, then you must come out yourself.
- There is a time when natural affection turns pathological. You can’t get a blood transfusion from a corpse, but if you stay connected long enough, you will get an infection.
- You maintain some connection with the apostate (v. 11). John says if you so much as give him a civil greeting, you have a stake in his evil deeds.
- NT koinonia means joint ownership.
- This is the reverse as we see at the end of Philippians. By sending Paul a gift, the Philippians got a stake in Paul’s ministry.
- This explains how it is that we can lose reward.
- This is for such a simple thing as giving him a simple greeting.
- Back to the story, the pastor told the delegation that if we can’t the bad church out of the association, then we have to get the association away from the bad church. They formed a new association, which eventually became the GARBC and fundamentalism.
- But what if the pastor said to try to get the bad pastor on our side? How will God respond to that approach?
- It is as scandalous as anything in 1 Corinthians 5 and should be treated as such.
- It is never loving to obscure the Gospel.
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