Tyler Robbins 's Response to Don Johnson (pt. 1)

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Mark_Smith's picture

Semi-pelagians say that unaided by grace man can work with God to achieve salvation. Even in that article you posted, it says "God's grace is not absolutely necessary to maintain faith."

If a person thinks Christ is necessary for salvation, they are NOT a semi-pelagian. Cut and dry.

Don Johnson's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:

Of course fundamentalism is much broader than the FBFI. No one in the FBFI thinks we are the only fundamentalists. It is really slanderous to lay that charge at our feet. Our enemies (including some in this thread) regularly do that. We don't believe it and don't hold to that view. What else can we say? It is unfortunate that Christians will stoop to slander in these discussions, but it is nothing more than that.

Don,

If that is true--that the FBFI aren't the only Fundamentalists--why distinguish between Fundamentalists and "Convergents"?

Greg, your question doesn't even make sense. We are not distinguishing between the FBFI and Convergents.  We are distinguishing between Fundamentalists and Convergents. If you can't see the difference between that, then I can't help you.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Jay's picture

TylerR wrote:

I understand what Arminianism actually teaches, and understand their explanation of prevenient grace. I've read Wesley, Wiley and Olson. What I experienced was not Arminianism. It was semi-Pelagianism, and I used the label accurately. In the more right-wing, Sword of the Lord-style, KJVO/reinspiration churches, salvation is often presented as completely semi-pelagian. Few of the men from this far right-wing of fundamentalism would understand the terminology, but it accurately reflects their soteriology. In fact, often the theology in these churches is so completely muddled so as to defy normal categorization. To some degree, labels are not applicable to these churches, because their theology in general is so vague.

I don't use the term in a deliberately derogatory sense. I used it to refer to the soteriology I saw taught and explained from the hard right wing of fundamentalism, which is generally characterized by KJVO reinspiration, a rabid anti-intellectualism, an unhinged and deranged view of Calvinism (i.e. "Calvin is roasting in hell right now"), and a bastardized form of Landmarkism.

Tyler is absolutely correct to label some of this as semi-pelagianism (and, incidentally, notes yet another issue within the FBFI's right flank).  As someone who gravitated towards Lordship theology in undergrad/grad school - because I couldn't reconcile 'praying a prayer' with an utter lack of spiritual/Biblical fruit - this was a concern I spent a lot of time trying to reconcile.  I eventually came around to the Lordship position because I could not - and still cannot - reconcile the fact that Jesus' followers will manifest spiritual fruit with the fact that many of the calls to salvation I heard proclaimed were little more than 'say this prayer and get out of hell free', and made it that obvious.  Just pray and all your worries will be gone!  It's a great deal - if it were true.

Am I oversimplifying?  Maybe.  But at the end of the day, we were taught heresy - and some of the people I knew still teach heresy.  That's a big deal, and it's why so many have gravitated (I think) towards the Reformed / Calvinist soteriology.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

TylerR's picture

Editor

Jay wrote:

But at the end of the day, we were taught heresy - and some of the people I knew still teach heresy.  That's a big deal, and it's why so many have gravitated (I think) towards the Reformed / Calvinist soteriology.

That sums it up for me. Jay has written my theological biography in two sentences.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jay's picture

Don Johnson wrote:
Greg, your question doesn't even make sense. We are not distinguishing between the FBFI and Convergents.  We are distinguishing between Fundamentalists and Convergents. If you can't see the difference between that, then I can't help you.

So Don, you would agree that there are convergents (essentially, non-Fundamentalists) in the FBFI right now? 

To make sure I understand this:

  • The FBFI is comprised of Fundamentalists [Fundamentalist as defined by Don]. 
  • All true Fundamentalists are not convergents
  • ​The FBFI does not recognize convergents as fundamentalists because convergents are heretics / compromised. 
  • True fundamentalists should mark and avoid [Romans 16:17] those who are 'convergent'.

As an aside, shouldn't the FBFI be using the term heresy / heretics instead?  It sure seems like they're used the same way.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Greg Linscott's picture

Don Johnson wrote:

Greg, your question doesn't even make sense. We are not distinguishing between the FBFI and Convergents.  We are distinguishing between Fundamentalists and Convergents. If you can't see the difference between that, then I can't help you.

Okay... So, maybe it would be better to say that there have been Convergents around prior to the coining of the term, e.g. Tetreau's Type B, C...?

So the question then would be, "who are the non-FBFI Fundamentalists?" I mean that in a discernible way... like organized other groups, associations, fellowships... are there any? Or am I reading your terms too tightly? Because it seems you are writing off groups like the GARBC, for example (though perhaps allowing for some individual Fundamentalists within that context).

Please correct me if I am wrong.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Ron Bean's picture

The semi-Pelagians I've encountered would say that God graciously gives all men the opportunity to exercise their free will. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrczyFvkv8Q

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Bert Perry's picture

....for a broader conversation than I had anticipated.  I also have been a refugee from a church that was on the "hard right", involving KJVO/Trail of Blood and the like, and I would agree, per Tyler and Greg, that semi-pelagianism and "the pastor as rancher" (I actually thought "cowboy") are huge problems in a fringe of fundamentalism.   The "pastor" there actually came close to a "hat trick" of cowboyism by preaching about how awful the members were....at a church where he knew just about nobody but the pastor...and of course had no clue about their character...and then repeated the exact same sermon.....at evening service at that church, where everyone in attendance was involved in active ministry.  In other words, he preached the same sermon twice to completely inappropriate audiences.   Complete manipulation, really. 

Greg illustrates in his comment exactly why I don't think P&D defined their terms well.   He is also correct that a degree of navel-gazing and introspection is appropriate to make sure we're not accusing others of things we're doing ourselves.  A final note is that if being a true "fundamentalist" requires adherence to the social mores of the Victorian/Edwardian Protestant upper classes, then I am not by that definition a fundamentalist.  The Theological fundamentals, including a lot of separation, the Solas, the Trinity, and the like?  You bet.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

Forgive me. I know NOTHING about Pensacola. Do they claim to be semi-pelagian?

Strictly speaking, semi-pelagianism comes from one of Pelagius' disciples, Cassian, who believed that, despite the Fall, man can on his own reach out to God and start the salvation process. Grace from God is then needed to complete salvation.

I can't imagine someone thinking that apart from Eph 2:8-9, and apart from Christ's work on the cross and his resurrection, that they can reach out to God for salvation.

Thinking that through Christ all people can reach out to God for salvation is NOT semi-pelagianism. Cut and dry.

It seems to me people use semi-pelagian to refer to people who are not Calvinist or Arminian, but that is not correct.

Joel Tetreau's picture

Two more random thoughts.

1. Dan Unruh makes the point "Convergents" quietly "adapt." I don't think I did that........I'm not sure that many of us have been stealthy! Have we been stealthy?! Have we been quietly adapting? I don't think I have been quietly adapting!

2. So I notice John makes the point that when the FBF get's smaller it's because the FBF is "purging." I just wonder if this is just the result of running the numbers. I mean after the first cut Gideon had 300 guys right? If it had gone to the 5th cut how many would be left?

So the FBF separates from the Romanists and Liberal types - 1rst level  (Amen - in the Bible)

So then the FBF separates from Billy Graham type evangelicals because they confuse the gospel with said  liberals and Romanists - combination of 1rst and 2nd separation(Amen - also in the Bible - most of this)

So then the FBF separates from "evangelicals" who hang with Billy -  2nd or 3rd level separation (well it probably depends on the nature of those connections - Not as clear Biblically - let's say sometimes that's clear.......)

So then the FBF separates from miltant evangelicals who interact with evangelicals when they (militant evangelicals) tell them (not-as-militant evangelicals) that they compromise! - 3rd level separation.......(I'm  going to say this is not in the Bible)

Now the FBF separates from Convergents who have some connection with the militant evangelicals.....4th level separation.....these Convergents are the "new.....new evangelicalism?" (Not in the Apocrypha.....not even in the KJV Bible!)

But wait...there's more! What about the FBF types that continue to have some connection with the "Convergents".....we will call them "Divergents"........Perhaps the "new" "new" "newevangelicalsa?".......Separation is coming.......5th degree!

I have nothing else to say.....................................really..................................

Straight Ahead!

jt

IFCA member

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Bert Perry's picture

Mark, regarding Pensacola et al,  I'd be shocked if PCC officials (or anybody, really) said "yes, we're semi-Pelagian."  However, that's not the question at hand.  Rather, it's whether the clear implications of how the "PCC wing" of fundamentalism does evangelism.  I don't have enough experience with that wing to comment well, but I've seen similar kinds of things out of the KJVO wing of fundamentalism with which PCC is of course closely affiliated.

And really, I think "how we are perceived" has a lot to do with Joel Tetreau's comment about "convergents" (I probably am one) being "quietly adapting".  Really, it all has a lot to do with what outsiders see.   A picture from my own life: when I separated from a church that was infringing on the first fundamental and Sola Scriptura by insisting on KJVO and Trail of Blood theology, that was the first step.  I had never been persuaded of some of the "lifestyle" things the FBFI and AACC believe, but over time I also have come to the conclusion that some of the justifications commonly used for them are simply not Biblical. 

Note that "over time".  Am I simply trying to apply the Word as best I know, or would it appear to outsiders that I might be "quietly adapting" and taking as much as I think I can at the time?   Probably depends on your perspective, and the only thing I can really say against "quietly adapting" is that it seems to assume the motives of those it's used to describe--and insinuate bad motives.  

Which is, of course, bad logic and bad form, and I hope that I can say so in a winsome enough way to encourage dear brothers in the FBFI side of things to clean up their rhetoric and "come in out of the wilderness."  There are places I disagree emphatically with their position, but I really do want to give them a chance to explain themselves in a way I've not heard yet.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Joel Tetreau's picture

I'm sorry I'm going over my typical average of one post per month on this thread........Tyler has helped me by giving me room to vent my feelings (Thank you Tyler)..... I suppose I have one more thought that misses in my head as I listen to Don and then I read John and the FBF brothers communicate concern for the "Convergents"..... who by definition have left the fundamentalist building.

Don't the men working within the FBF Chaplaincy have to work together very closely with conservative evangelicals? For that matter they even have to work with Liberals but if I were to ask the FBF Chaplain core, "Hey.....you guys ever minister, fellowship, work with a conservative evangelical as you do your chaplain military ministry?" I bet I know the answer I'd hear.

I wonder if this makes the FBFI Chaplaincy Core.....full of Convergents? Now don't tell them I said this because I actually have one or two friends connected to that group....and I'd hate to see them have to get a new endorsing agency.

Still......Straight Ahead!

jt

 

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

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