Grace, Grace, and More Grace

1 April 2014, 06:00

Moderator

145

Editor’s note: The following article was written by Tullian Tchividjian, the grandson of Billy Graham, and republished with permission. You can find the original post from December of last year, here.

  Grace_wordle

The definition I give for grace in One-Way Love comes from Paul Zahl:

Grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return. Grace is love coming at you that has nothing to do with you. Grace is being loved when you are unlovable…. The cliché definition of grace is “unconditional love.” It is a true cliché, for it is a good description of the thing. Let’s go a little further, though. Grace is a love that has nothing to do with you, the beloved. It has everything and only to do with the lover. Grace is irrational in the sense that it has nothing to do with weights and measures. It has nothing to do with my intrinsic qualities or so-called “gifts” (whatever they may be). It reflects a decision on the part of the giver, the one who loves, in relation to the receiver, the one who is loved, that negates any qualifications the receiver may personally hold…. Grace is one-way love.

Grace doesn’t make demands. It just gives. And from our vantage point, it always gives to the wrong person. We see this over and over again in the Gospels: Jesus is always giving to the wrong people—prostitutes, tax collectors, half-breeds. The most extravagant sinners of Jesus’s day receive his most compassionate welcome. Grace is a divine vulgarity that stands caution on its head. It refuses to play it safe and lay it up. Grace is recklessly generous, uncomfortably promiscuous. It doesn’t use sticks, carrots, or time cards. It doesn’t keep score. As Robert Capon puts it, “Grace works without requiring anything on our part. It’s not expensive. It’s not even cheap. It’s free.” It refuses to be controlled by our innate sense of fairness, reciprocity, and evenhandedness. It defies logic. It has nothing to do with earning, merit, or deservedness. It is opposed to what is owed. It doesn’t expect a return on investments. It is a liberating contradiction between what we deserve and what we get. Grace is unconditional acceptance given to an undeserving person by an unobligated giver.

It is one-way love.

Think about it in your own life for a moment. Odds are you have caught a glimpse of one-way love at some point, and it made all the difference. Someone let you off the hook when you least expected or deserved it. A friend suspended judgment at a key moment. Your father was lenient when you wrecked his car. Your teacher gave you an extension, even though she knew you had been procrastinating. You said something insensitive to your spouse, and instead of retaliating, she kept quiet and somehow didn’t hold it against you the next day. If you’re married, odds are the person you ended up with showed you this kind of love at some point along the line.

When the chain of quid pro quo is broken, all sorts of wonderful things can happen. One-way love has the unique power to inspire generosity, kindness, loyalty, and more love, precisely because it removes any and all requirement to change or produce. And yet, as beautiful and lifesaving as grace can be, we often resist it. By nature, we are suspicious of promises that seem too good to be true. We wonder about the ulterior motives of the excessively generous. We long ago stopped opening those emails and letters that tell us what we’ve “already won.” What’s the catch? What’s the fine print? What’s in it for them?

Grace is a gift, pure and simple. We might insist on trying to pay, but the balance has been settled (and our money’s no good!). Of course, even if we’re able to accept one-way love when it comes our way, we have trouble when it reaches other people, especially those who’ve done us wrong. Grace offends our sense of justice by being both implausible and unfair. We are uncomfortable because grace turns the tables on us, relieving us of our precious sense of control. It tears up the time card we were counting on to be assured of that nice, big paycheck on Friday. It forces us to rely on the goodness of Another, and that is simply terrifying. However much we may hate having to get up and go to the salt mines every day, we distrust the thought of completely resting in the promised generosity of God even more. So we try to domesticate the message of one-way love—after all, who could trust in or believe something so radically unbelievable? Robert Capon articulates the prayer of the grace-averse heart:

Restore to us, Preacher, the comfort of merit and demerit. Prove for us that there is at least something we can do, that we are still, at whatever dim recess of our nature, the masters of our relationships. Tell us, Prophet, that in spite of all our nights of losing, there will yet be one redeeming card of our very own to fill the inside straight we have so long and so earnestly tried to draw to. But whatever you do, do not preach grace… We insist on being reckoned with. Give us something, anything; but spare us the indignity of this indiscriminate acceptance.

The idea that there is an unconditional love that relieves the pressure, forgives our failures, and replaces our fear with faith seems too good to be true.

Longing for hope in a world of hype, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the news we have been waiting for all our lives. Jesus came to liberate us from the weight of having to make it on our own, from the demand to measure up. He came to emancipate us from the burden to get it all right, from the obligation to fix ourselves, find ourselves, and free ourselves. Jesus came to release us from the slavish need to be right, rewarded, regarded, and respected. Because Jesus came to set the captives free, life does not have to be a tireless effort to establish ourselves, justify ourselves, and validate ourselves.

Once this good news grips your heart, it changes everything. It frees you from having to be perfect. It frees you from having to hold it all together. In the place of exhaustion, you might even find energy. No, the Gospel of grace is not too good to be true. It is true! It’s the truest truth in the entire universe. God loves us independently of what we may or may not bring to the table. There are no strings attached! No ifs, ands, or buts. No qualifiers or conditions. No need for balance. Grace is the most dangerous, expectation-wrecking, smile-creating, counterintuitive reality there is.

Grace is a bit like a roller coaster; it makes us scream in terror and laugh uncontrollably at the same time. But there aren’t any harnesses on this ride. We are not in the driver’s seat, and we did not design the twists and turns. We just get on board. We laugh as the binding law of gravity is suspended, and we scream because it looks like we’re going to hurtle off into space. Grace brings us back into contact with the children we once were (and still are)—children who loved to ride roller coasters, to smile and yell and throw our hands up in the air. Grace, in other words, is terrifyingly fun, and like any ride worth standing in line for, it is worth coming back to again and again. In fact, God’s one-way love may be the only ride that never gets old, the only ride we thankfully never outgrow. A source of inexhaustible hope and joy for an exhausted world.

Tullian Tchividjian is a Florida native, the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, a visiting professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a grandson of Billy and Ruth Graham. A graduate of Columbia International University (philosophy) and Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Tullian is the author of a number of books, including Do I Know God? Finding Certainty in Life’s Most Important Relationship, Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different, Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels, and Jesus + Nothing = Everything.

All articles on this site reflect the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of other Recovering Grace contributors or the leadership of the site. Students who have survived Gothardism tend to end up at a wide variety of places on the spiritual and theological spectrum, thus the diversity of opinions expressed on this website reflects that. For our official statement of beliefs, click here.

145 Comments

  1. John April 1, 2014 Reply

    Grace is God's unmerited favor It justifies and sanctifies and will one day glorify us. It in a sense does a makeover in our lives giving us everything that God desires so we can fully glorify Him being conformed to the image of Christ. Any righteousness or goodness in our lives is only the wonderful gift of God's grace. We under God's special favor. God will spank us as a loving Heavenly Father does His children but we will never be condemned because we are in Christ Jesus.

  2. gene April 1, 2014 Reply

    well mr gothard, according to the article above, grace is a lot different than merely the desire and power to do gods will.

  3. Olivia Linton April 1, 2014 Reply

    My heart is full; and, to think that I am a recipient of this AMAZING Grace!

  4. Alfred Corduan April 1, 2014 Reply

    Of course, why is it that those who proclaim "Grace" so loudly as "unmerited" are . . . Calvinists. He is "reformed". He believes that God gives that grace without cost, without effort and without resistance to some . . . and withholds it from others. The withholding being for nothing that they have done . . . just . . . because He decided it that way.

    THAT grace is not a very nice thing if you happen to be chosen to not get it. I don't care for it much.

    • Shane April 1, 2014 Reply

      @Alfred-"Of course, why is it that those who proclaim "Grace" so loudly as "unmerited" are . . . Calvinists." You know Arminians and Calvinists have historically agreed on grace as "unmerited" favor, right? Read Roger Olson's "Classical Arminianism". You have given the quintessential ad hominem argument; no substance, no engagement with what he's said. Could you explain your objection based on what's written in the piece above? You know, Welsey (Arminian) and Whitefield (Calvinist) were able to agree on grace and work together for the sake of the message of the gospel. What does his Calvinism have to do with what's written above?

      Again, I ask you why you will call Calvinism heresy and REFUSE to call Gothard's teaching on circumcision heresy? The Apostle Paul calls it heresy. Why are you so willing to call out the Calvinists and yet excuse Gothard's actions as footsie and the misguided affection of some "father" figure? I get that soteriology is an issue disagreed upon by Christians historically. I get that you're not a Calvinist and that you disagree with them. It appears that you disagree with them on everything. Are Calvinists Christians? Will you show them the same kindness and deference you want for Gothard at minimum? Or are we to dismiss all things said by Calvinists regarding all things?

      Or why don't you give your definition of grace? Who are the church fathers and mothers that you identify with? Is it only Gothardism?

    • Louise April 1, 2014 Reply

      Yet Paul answers this.

      "Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden." Romans 9:18.

      And then "What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath–prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory – 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?" Romans 9:22-24

      Our human ears may not like it but it is what the Bible teaches.

    • greg r April 1, 2014 Reply

      Alfred, pure and simple, you don't get out much. Philip yancey a Calvinist ?? Robert Capon a Calvinist ?? Brennan Manning a Calvinist ?? You have no idea... Penal substitution , hotly debated as purely 'penal'... grace as 'unmerited'... not so much..

    • MatthewS April 1, 2014 Reply

      I'd be curious to know which Arminian authors reject the "grace is unmerited favor" description.

      I would point to Roger Olsen, a respected Arminian writer, who comments "God's unmerited favor is as good a brief definition as I have heard. I keep returning to things I learned in Sunday School, youth group, and Youth for Christ. Not all of it was wrong; some of it was downright helpful." (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2013/08/an-arminian-ordo-salutis-order-of-salvation/)

      On the other hand, Paul spoke strong words about falling away from grace:

      2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

      "Circumcision" functions here as a metonym that refers to Gentile believers taking up the Law. There is the realm of Law and works, there is the realm of Spirit and faith. Those who decide they can compete by Law and Works what was started in Spirit and faith are those who "fall away from grace." Danger, Will Robinson!

    • Alfred Corduan April 1, 2014 Reply

      I am sure I shall regret wading in here. But it does strike me that, over and over, it is the Calvinists leading the charge here. Is that God's will, that many be lost by God's decree? Then why, Oh why, are will getting excited about it . . . in a public forum? That would simply be sobering . . . in my mind. Inconsistent with the message this forum appears to be trying to promote, "grace for everyone", everyone is a candidate, no special people. No 'elite' . . . or "elect", as the NT would using the term. What we have is a a most inconsistent message, in any case. If Calvinism is right, then we have a special class of people . . . and we find them, and associate with them, and rejoice in our salvation and don't worry about the rest, since God doesn't want them anyway.

      If Calvin and company are right, then "irresistible grace" is most emphatically the "desire and power to do God's will" . . . a power that Calvinists claim cannot be resisted. I agree with their perception of Grace as a force . . . disagree Oh, so strongly on it being "irresistible". No . . . the force to move us increases, Scripture says, when we humble ourselves . . . when we repent . . . when we ask (throne of grace).

      • MatthewS April 1, 2014 Reply

        1) There are many here who are not Calvinist, and many more who are "soft Calvinists" that would be rejected by the strict 5-pointers as being Calvinist at all.

        2) You are speaking to a straw man of Calvinism; a caricature, not a characterization.

        3) It would be a sidetrack, or even perhaps a divide-and-conquer move to frame this as a Calvinist vs. Arminian issue. It is not. Careful Arminians and careful Calvinists alike will reject Gothard's admixture of legalism, Pelagianism, and the various other -isms he tossed into the mix.

      • Alfred Corduan April 1, 2014 Reply

        Matthew: How "soft" is soft?

        ["Grace is a gift, pure and simple. We might insist on trying to pay, but the balance has been settled (and our money’s no good!)']

        OK . . . if it is a gift, is it OK to teach people about the gift and encourage them to receive it? Is it a gift that only the humble may receive . . . or does everybody get it?

        If only the humble . . . then we should urge everyone to humble themselves . . . and teach them how to do so. Pride would become our greatest enemy, singlehandedly dragging people to hell - and forcing them to live graceless, powerless lives after salvation.

        Which sounds like grace is a force . . . a force that only God gives, only gives to the humble . . . a force that both motivates us ("Desire") and enables us ("Power") to do what God requires of us.

        So . . . how "soft" are you?

        • MatthewS April 1, 2014

          yeah... 2 years ago I would have fallen for that and down the rabbit hole we would have gone for a bazillion comments.

          I believe this:

          Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.

          I am emphatic about this. The moment any one of you submits to circumcision or any other rule-keeping system, at that same moment Christ’s hard-won gift of freedom is squandered. I repeat my warning: The person who accepts the ways of circumcision trades all the advantages of the free life in Christ for the obligations of the slave life of the law.

          I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.



          (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=gal%205&version=NIV;NLT;MSG;NASB;KJV)

        • grateful April 1, 2014

          msy the Force be with you

        • Alfred Corduan April 2, 2014

          I like your Scripture quote, Matthew . . . Amen

          So . . . I am guessing you are acknowledging that there "Grace" is far from a black and white issue, at least when it comes to some of the peripheral issues that keep coming up. Like if "accepting the gift" is a work . . . and whether grace is fundamentally a force . . . or an attitude.

          On the fact that it is freely given to us based on the work of Christ, on that can be no argument.

      • greg r April 1, 2014 Reply

        Alfred: what's cookin' here, brother ?? Why the big Calvinist/Arminian brouhaha ?? Get over yourself, the # of Arminians who think BG's grace def. is...."ewwwww" has to rival the # of Calvinists. I've never been a Calvinist, so you know where I'm at on this... I'm guessing I have bunches of theological company. Stay away from board games that use 'bluffing', yours is weak.
        to the point: if the author's def. of grace is lacking, refute it , scripturally. Or stand down.

      • Ryan Sapp April 2, 2014 Reply

        @ Alfred
        "I am sure I'm going to regret wading in here".......whatever. Do you ever ask a question you genuinely want an answer for or do you always have to be right? Does your wife, kids, friends, neighbors, church friends and business associates ever have a chance at being right or is it always your way?If you always have to be right it doesn't matter whether you're a Calvinist or an Aminiast, he'll, I could have more influence on those around me if I was a Lady Gagaist as long as I didn't always have to be right.

        The point of a rhetorical question is to cause thought, not to prove you don't.

    • Jonathan April 1, 2014 Reply

      Hi Alfred,

      I don't identify as a Calvinist, and there are things that John Piper, one of the most well-known Calvinists today, says that I don't agree with. There are some central tenets of Calvinism that I find myself in disagreement with, because I don't believe they're consistent with the Gospel.

      Yet, I've listened to several sermons by Tullian Tchividjian, as well as read several articles by him. I've never heard him express this belief that God "gives grace to some and withholds from others."

      The idea that grace is unmerited is not exclusively limited to Calvinists though; as a child, my parents constantly taught me the central point of the Gospel-the very same thing Tullian teaches-that we cannot earn our salvation, and because of that, that God saves us by his grace-which is unmerited favor and love on unlovable people. And my parents are definitely *not* Calvinist.

      • Alfred Corduan April 1, 2014 Reply

        Jonathan: I just want everyone to think clearly. Once the - sorry - insanity of fatalism is dropped, i.e. that God picks the saved and the lost, then we can do so.

        The fact that grace cannot be purchased or worked for in no way diminished the fact that we have a great and solemn personal responsibility with respect to it. We have to humble ourselves to receive it . . . and if we fail to humble our selves, both to ask for it and to put all our works and personal righteousness aside so we can actually take it, we . . . will not get it. And on that final day, God will hold us personally responsible for that.

        Is that "works" to you? It is to hardcore Calvinists. Who are the primary voices to condemn what Bill teaches on grace.

        • Jonathan April 1, 2014

          I appreciate that you want folks to think clearly, Alfred. Interestingly enough, several months ago, I posted a Facebook link to an article where the author detailed why he rejected the Calvinistic doctrine of unconditional election (ie, the idea that God picks who and who won't be saved). This led into quite a bit of discussion with some friends and family over that. But it was the pro-Calvinistic side that was sounding the most like Bill Gothard, from what I saw.

          Yes, the Bible does say "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." But let's stop and think about that for a minute. What is pride? In essence, it's self-righteouness ie. "I'm a good person." This leads to one of the favorite habits among Christians today-comparing themselves with others instead of comparing against God's law. "I'm not as bad as that person." "Oh, she did THAT? Well, I would *never* do that!" In essence, those whom God resists are those who think they've got it all together. Those whom God resists are those who think their keeping a list of rules (even Biblical ones) is the measuring stick of their relationship with God.

          You're right, God gives grace to those who are humble. That's where the law comes in-to show us what sinful creatures we are. Too often though, in many Christian circles, (not just IBLP), the law is viewed as a means to achieving spiritual growth-which is not its intent.

          I don't know that Calvinists are necessarily the primary voices who would condemn Bill, I think there would probably be quite a few non-Calvinist critics like myself too.

        • Alfred Corduan April 2, 2014

          I am not sure I find anything to disagree with you there, Jonathan. On pride and self-sufficiency.

          The title of this website is "Recovering Grace". Why? What part of grace is in need of recovery? That answer to that seems to be:

          1) What he teaches sounds like you can increase Grace by efforts of your own. Which, they say, is not "unmerited". Which, strangely, is what Scripture says we can and indeed must do IF humbling yourself or asking is an "effort".

          2) Whether grace is a "force" or just a "favorable attitude". Maybe that is the "Armenian" side, since Calvinists understand quite clearly that grace is the power to move us to do and be what God wants.

          3) The false assertion that Bill teaches that circumcision is essential for godliness. I keep pointing out that in over 40 years of attending seminars I have never heard Bill bring up the topic. Once. I know there is a medical booklet that contains some statements some find offensive . . . but it is disingenuous to assert that circumcision figures into Bill Gothard's doctrine of salvation or Christian living. I mean . . . when such doctrines prevail, they are never far from the surface. Case in point the Church of Christ which believes baptism to be essential for salvation. It comes in in just about every preach I have ever heard from their preachers. A point drilled home.

        • greg r April 2, 2014

          @Alfred: you wrote:

          2) Whether grace is a "force" or just a "favorable attitude". Maybe that is the "Armenian" side...

          NOOOOOO !!! As an arminian (sounds exotic, I should be more tanned :)) ) let me repeat: grace has NOTHING to do with ME, nothing, zilch, nada, zippo, ZERO....
          it's about the ridiculous, scandalous, illogical, this is-so-NOT-fair generous heart of OUR FATHER...and by extension, the SON, and Holy Spirit. gotta go feed the dog, Alfred, but your post above proves what many have said; BIll's postition in this is NEITHER calvinist nor arminian.... it's just bill being bill.

        • Jonathan April 2, 2014

          Some good questions, Alfred. In response to your points:

          #1-Yes, Bill did teach that we can earn grace or God's favor. In his 2000 paper on grace, he plainly says "In the OT, those who found grace possessed qualities that merited God's favor." So, that actually sounds just like what you claim Calvinists (hard core ones, that is) to believe, in that God picks and chooses who he will extend grace to. His whole definition of "desire and power to do God's will" embodies works, because it makes grace all about what *we* do, thereby taking the focus off of God.

          You claim that "having humility" means grace by works. But how then, do you explain the verse "And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.?" (Romans 11:6)

          It is actually a fact that Bill taught that circumcision was necessary for Godliness. To quote: "Because this is one subject which is so strongly commanded and reinforced in Scripture, there is no question what the decision of Christian parents should be on this matter."

        • Shane April 2, 2014

          @Jonathan- "In the OT, those who found grace possessed qualities that merited God's favor." So, that actually sounds just like what you claim Calvinists (hard core ones, that is) to believe"-Nope! Not even hyper-Calvinists believe this. I appreciate that you put the claim on Alfred. It is a ridiculous claim.

        • Alfred Corduan April 3, 2014

          Grace is devoid of works no more than faith is. We have:

          James 2:22-26

          Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? . . . Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

          And we have

          1 Corinthians 15:10

          But by the grace of God I am what I am:and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all:yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

          Grace without results in and through us is no grace at all. It comes . . . It teaches . . . It enables . . . It motivates. I am so baffled . . . What am I missing? I am sorry to be so grumpy towards Calvinists . . . But THAT is where the confusion comes from. IF grace were equally extended to all, then all would be equally enabled and motivated. But they are not. Why not? The Calvinists tell us because some are "not elect". If that option is not on the table . . . What then? How shall we explain Paul's great grace to labor more than the others?

          God resists (pushes away) the proud but gives grace (draws towards Him) to the humble. (1Peter 5 and quoted two other places). Assuming we have the ability to humble ourselves - hotly debated by the Calvinists - then you will see large amounts of grace extended to those that do and very little to those that refuse. Grace is extended or withheld because of something we have full control over.

          Grace is a COMMODITY :-). I am pushing buttons . . . But read this:

          1 Peter 4:10
          As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good STEWARDS of the manifold grace of God.

          It is "manifold" - different for different people and situations - and it has to be managed, even cared for . . . Like a steward would do. God gives it, We have it, then we give it to others. Note that WE do that, not The Lord.

          Ephesians 4:29
          Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

          And, as unmerited as it may be, we can mismanage it . . .

          Hebrews 12:15
          Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

          Few people ever take the time to actually think about these clear descriptions of grace. If they did they would begin to realize how woefully inadequate "unmerited favor" - which my lunch today most definitely was - is to define grace.

        • greg r April 3, 2014

          If you look carefully at alfred's responses (you might want to get a glass of your favorite beverage first :) )he actually NEVER deals with what calvinists of any stripe say about grace. What he did/does is get into a convoluted discourse about election and the differences in theology regarding that.

          I'm sure in Alfred's mind, these things are connected, but they need not be. And as I've said a few times: I don't have a dog in the calvinist hunt, never been one, but I don't like to see them misrepresented either.

        • greg r April 3, 2014

          @Alfred: found your problem sir, we can fix this, will that be credit, check, or cash ???? you wrote:

          . IF grace were equally extended to all, then all would be equally enabled and motivated.

          If grace was what BILL taught, you are correct. If grace is unmerited favor extended to ALL, then you've missed your flight. You are confusing what we DO with grace, or what we do not do, with what grace IS. don't mix the effects and results, with what it is. Older son in the prodigal parable ?? Was he extended grace ?? You are committing the same mistake that you said the ultr-calvinists make.... which I find funny and ironic.
          Have a blessed thursday, friend.

        • Shane April 3, 2014

          Alfred you're shadow boxing and losing.

          You said: "3) The false assertion that Bill teaches that circumcision is essential for godliness. I keep pointing out that in over 40 years of attending seminars I have never heard Bill bring up the topic. Once. I know there is a medical booklet that contains some statements some find offensive . . . but it is disingenuous to assert that circumcision figures into Bill Gothard's doctrine of salvation or Christian living. "

          @Jonathan kindly quoted Gothard on circumcision: "It is actually a fact that Bill taught that circumcision was necessary for Godliness. To quote: "Because this is one subject which is so strongly commanded and reinforced in Scripture, there is no question what the decision of Christian parents should be on this matter.""

          You responded:_______

          I will ask you again. The evidence is in front of you that Bill Gothard taught the VERY FALSE TEACHING that Paul addresses in Galatians. The Apostle Paul says it's anathema; that is a damnable false teaching. You can bring yourself to call Calvinism heresy. Will you agree with Paul that Gothard's teaching is anathema? Will you admit that it is example of legalism?

          Now you're on to James:
          The Protestant reformers (both Calvinists and Arminians) agreed that justification is by faith alone, but that justifying faith is never alone. Yes James and all Christians (?) agree that faith the unites to the vine (Jesus) produces fruit; works.

          Just like the thread below where you twisted Titus to saying : "That DOES seem like a demand . . . doesn't it?" Whereas the verse you actually quoted says: ""For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us ..." Let's think clearly and follow the logic of Paul''s sentence: Grace BRINGS (unmerited unearned undeserved) salvation and subsequently TEACHES (I said things like transforms) to live accordingly. Who denies this.

          Again, saying that the free gift changes us resulting in a growing conformity to the law is not the same thing as "grace is a demand". They are linked but distinct. The problem is you conflate two distinct things. James says faith without works is not true faith, He does not say faith and works are the same thing. Or in the Reformation the issue was the conflation of Justification with Sanctification. Justification does absolutely lead to Sanctification but they are not the same thing, We are not justified based on how well we're sanctified (Gothardism) but we are justified and that then leads to sanctification. Again, this is NOT an issue of Arminian/Calvinism.

          Now you say: "Grace is a COMMODITY :-)"- that view has a historical precedent, while they would not say it so crassly, that is in part Rome's view of grace. Grace us a substance that is distributed by the things to which God affixes it; the Sacraments. Humble yourself take the sacrament get grace. Resist sacrament resist grace. I don't agree with that view, but it is not a Calvinism/Arminian divide.

          I have only been on RG for a couple of months, but I have seen you on a number of occasions lament the caricature of Alfred that gets erected. You are not being "grumpy". You are wailing away on a caricature that you have constructed. It is uncharitable. It is divisive. I have been in LOTS of these conversations, and you continue to cross the lines of honest engagement. Roger Olson, and Arminian scholar, writes extensively about his disagreement with Calvinism; actual books published by reputable publishers. He regularly interacts by email and and conversation with Calvinists scholars. He would endorse your mischaracterizations of Calvinism. He believes that while Calvinist and Arminians disagree we are united and correct in our belief that the Pelagian/Semi-Pelagian view of grace is WRONG. Unbilbical.

          What is the Pelagian view of grace? This is a good summary- Quoting @Jonathan quoting Gothard: "In the OT, those who found grace possessed qualities that merited God's favor."

          You said: "Few people ever take the time to actually think about these clear descriptions of grace. If they did they would begin to realize how woefully inadequate "unmerited favor" - which my lunch today most definitely was - is to define grace." You sir are not the only one that thinks deeply about these things and this hubris is I'm guessing why you continue to be so ungenerous in your caricature.

        • Jonathan April 3, 2014

          Alfred, with all your exclamations that grace is about what we do, and that *we* can obtain additional amounts of this "commodity" as you so put it, how do you explain Galatians?

          Galatians 3:1-5 "You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?"

          The theology I'm hearing from you, Alfred, is one of pride. Perhaps you don't see it, but that's what it is, if you stop and think about it. "I'm really such a good person, I can earn more of God's love and favor." Far too often, Christians like to hear passages discussing works, because it makes us feel like "Yes! Thank you for telling me there's something *I* can do to earn this!" That's not the Gospel (and certainly not the intent of said passages). That's humanistic, man-made theology, complete with strains of Catholicism-and it neglects the fact that in many passages in Scripture, God makes perfectly clear how unworthy we are.

        • Alfred Corduan April 10, 2014

          Greg R [". IF grace were equally extended to all, then all would be equally enabled and motivated.

          If grace was what BILL taught, you are correct. If grace is unmerited favor extended to ALL, then you've missed your flight."]

          We now know that you are no Calvinist. Congratulations. A Calvinist would tell us that grace extended cannot be resisted. That accepting that grace, humbling yourself to accept it, whatever, makes it "merited". It is so hard to carry on meaningful discussions involving vastly different sets of assumptions.

          So . . . everybody gets grace, right? Unmeritted means everyone, regardless of merit. Then how do you explain this?

          "Be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble." (1 Peter 5:5)

          Be something (act of the will), because it looks like I won't get any grace otherwise.

        • Alfred Corduan April 10, 2014

          Jonathan, Shane: ["@Jonathan kindly quoted Gothard on circumcision: "It is actually a fact that Bill taught that circumcision was necessary for Godliness. To quote: "Because this is one subject which is so strongly commanded and reinforced in Scripture, there is no question what the decision of Christian parents should be on this matter."""]

          IF Bill Gothard taught anything that sounded like "your kids will get saved if you circumcise" we might have something to talk about. Let's see . . . he is constantly talking about faith in Christ, a personal commitment to Him. Even had Ray Comfort do an "every eye open, every head unbowed" altar call to ATI kids in one of the conferences I was at.

          Again, the Church of Christ has a tank of water waiting behind the preacher giving the altar call . . . I guess Bill would have an apprenticeship student with scissors available at stage right? Please . . .

          *I* would guess that what Bill teaches on circumcision is vastly misstated. In fact, I can tell you that beyond the shadow of a doubt.

        • Shane April 10, 2014

          @Alfred, BG taught what the Judaizers in Galatia taught; not that you needed to be circumcised to be saved, but that to gain the fullness of God's blessing to be the more committed follower of Jesus, to pursue the "better" you should be circumcised.

          That is not a misrepresentation. It is anathema!

        • greg r April 10, 2014

          @Alfred: welcome back; how is your family faring, as we head into spring ?? The weather here in KC could notbe better. How are your IBLP friends doing ??
          this is just a quick 'dash' of a post before I walk the dog, just got home.
          the older son in the parable, is he not offered grace, an invitation to the party (which he refuses) which is a REAL invitation...the father really wants to see both sons celebrated. Isn't Jesus HIMSELF offered to all, though some, in their pride, will defer. Even GOD's 'resistance' in 1peter5, is that not itself a gift of grace, it is NOT impersonal, it is resistance that is hand fashioned by the Father to help people repent, it is not 'nothing....' ?
          more later...you've asked some good questions: start by comparing scripture with scripture...don't just stay with one verse...

        • Alfred Corduan April 10, 2014

          The longest skinny thread of all time unfolds :-)

          Shane: Don't know where you got that analysis. THIS is what the bad boys taught: "And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved." (Acts 15:1)

          I mean . . . I teach that circumcision is a good thing for boys . . . lots of physical benefits. Am I a Judaeizer? How about Paul, when he circumcised Timothy . . . was he a bad boy? When he told Jews to stay Jews and serve Jesus that way, vs. becoming "uncircumcised", was he off the beam? I didn't think so. Bill's teaching is precisely on those lines.

          Greg R: Thank you for asking. We are doing well, by God's grace. My IBLP friends are alternatively stressed and encouraged, and the latter is winning. Morale at HQ is actually very good . . . nobody knows what is around the corner, but things are moving ahead with confidence. There are so many good things about IBLP . . . and all the positive things are being focused on. "God's Not Dead" . . . and neither, actually, is Bill Gothard. What is next for him remains to be seen. The Board has not yet issued their report, although I know they are working it.

          I am far from focusing on one verse, brother! I have a hard time, though, getting anyone to take the Scriptures seriously that I present.

          Grace is a gift . . . that can be refused. At least it appears that you and I are in agreement on that. The Calvinists shake their heads . . . but . . . we are not listening to them, right? It is a much to be coveted gift . . . so much so that people are prepared to sin to get more of it . . . can you explain that?

          "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid" (Romans 6:1-2)

          This is NOT that old "I hit my hand with a hammer because of how good it feels when I stop!" No . . . whatever it is, I am so much better for having more of it. Grace powers our spiritual gifts . . . Grace worked in Paul more strongly than his peers . . .

          "But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." (1 Cor 15:10)

          Boy, that sure sounds like raw power!!

        • Jonathan April 10, 2014

          Alfred,

          On circumcision, those were Bill's exact words. Also, your implied definition of legalism (limiting it to "if Gothard taught your kids will be saved if you circumcise") is too narrow; another common definition is "adding to Scripture." That's what Bill does on a very frequent basis-he adds his own ideas in the mix and promotes them as Biblical. His own quote on circumcision shows that clearly-that he believes the only option for Christian parents is to circumcise. That is legalism, plain and simple.

        • Alfred Corduan April 11, 2014

          There is no more or less reason to circumcise your baby boys than there is to make Sunday (or Saturday) a holy day.

          The beautiful thing about defining legalism is never having to say you are wrong. Everybody is right! It is an emotional reaction to feeling pressed by others.

          I was listening to a talk show on Moody recently where an expert was defining legalism. Something like "turning non-essentials into commands of a God". I laughed . . . Because that division between essential and non-essential areas "where we have freedom" is so incredibly subjective. People decry legalism . . . Until I start pointing out some things that they believe to be essential. "That's God's Word - that's different". Their version of "legalists" feel exactly the same way! There are actually powerful Scriptures against eating food offered to demons. The "weaker brothers" were very much concerned that God would judge them for honoring the devil. Same with people who eschew Christmas for it's (alleged) idol roots.

          How about some gut checks? Give me a scriptural basis against polygamy? Give me one for making Sunday special? If idol meat is Ok, what is wrong with recreational seances and the occult? Can you give me a scriptural basis for obtaining a marriage license from a secular government? Or for a wedding ceremony with vows as opposed to just moving in and declaring yourself married?

          How about people ministering outside of a church authority, I.e. No board or even church sending them? Gladys Aylsward never saw the need for that, being generally regarded as one of the most effective missionaries of all time. I bring that up because it is sacred ground for many Gothard critics. I know a case may be made (Umbrella of Protection?!) . . But to attach "Thus saith The Lord" to it? Only legalists would do that.

          There are others I could bring up, but I would be screamed off the site. They are quite real issues. My point is that there is no clear commands on any of these - but we legalists do like to insist on them. Maybe we are all legalists, "weaker brothers" in some things . . . Or maybe very few really are "legalists". Like just the ones that say you have to become Jewish to get saved?

        • Shane April 11, 2014

          @Aflred- I get it from Galatians. The problem that Paul is addressing throughout the letter is summarized by Paul in Gal. 3.1-5. Paul asks; why are you foolishly seeking to be sanctified by works of the law, for example circumcision, when you were justified by hearing with faith. Don't you know that the same way you received the Spirit in your justification is the way you are perfected; sanctification? That is, hearing with faith! He's speaking to Christians who were justified by believing the gospel message, and he scolds them for pursuing holiness, growth as a Christian, ("there is no question" what Christian parents "should" do to keep what the Scriptures "command" and "reinforce"-Gothard) by works of the law.

          Paul's astonished! Wonders who has bewitched them. Says the should go all the way and castrate themselves. Says anathema.

          The issue that Paul is addressing in Galatians is Christians who are listening to the Judaizers and taking circumcision in order to be better Christians; to "be perfected" (Gal.3.3) He actually says it's a fleshly pursuit. Nowhere else does Paul bolt out of the gate so quickly and harshly than Galatians. Why? Because people are harassing Christians into believing that the be "better" they should be circumcised. I'm not sure how you get around this.

          Then when you add Paul's teaching in Colossians 2. It's not even close. Paul says that these external marks of the "better" way are of the flesh and powerless against the flesh.

          If you teach that Christians should circumcise to be faithful to the Bible, Jesus, to a higher calling, yes that would put you under Paul's strong words of warning in Galatians. It would be legalism. It would be a false gospel. It would not be in step with the Spirit.

        • greg r April 11, 2014

          Alfred: we'll see how much I go back and forth on this thread. frankly, I'm not too excited about it.
          Yes, grace is a gift, and the gift is a person, Jesus. Not a power,not a principle, not a series of steps....a person. that is our prize. I have no appetite for 'raw power'... lol, i'd probably just hurt myself with all that power, I'd rather have a PERSON. If that isn't attractive to you, I honestly don't have words for you, at least not today.
          I hope you find what you are looking for.

        • greg r April 11, 2014

          @Alfred: you wrote

          How about people ministering outside of a church authority, I.e. No board or even church sending them?

          so which is better..never having a board or sending church, or Bill's behavior towards his multiple boards, and respective 'oversight' ... multiple times, over the period of 30 plus yrs.. with negligible remorse

          I'm sure, Alfed , you won't see this forest...but that sure is an interesting shrub over there......

        • Alfred Corduan April 11, 2014

          Shane:. I doubt we can connect here. There are obviously multiple purposes for circumcision. Some are good, for God had His own Son circumcised the eighth day . . . And Paul circumcised Timothy as a young man. Some are clearly bad, inasmuch as circumcision is a commitment to keep the law of Moses to be saved, or saveder. I don't believe that, and I don't right now know anyone who does. We did have a fellow ATIVAN dad who "went Jew" on us . . . Started wearing the tassels, the cap . . . Had his son give thanks for our snack with the traditional Jewish blessing. When done, as we sat in stunned silence, another Dad spoke up: "you don't find Jesus in there anywhere". He was not happy. You see, he had come it of that, keeping the feasts, new moons, the law. That was the last time we saw our friend. That sort of thing was as unwelcome among us as it would be wherever you go.

          Which is why I laugh. I love Jesus, I reject any notion that Christians are more spiritual by being Jewish. But when I see the 10 commandments and see how seriously God takes a day of rest, I get to thinking it is part of the way He made the universe . . . And I want to honor Him by dedicating a day like that too. And when I see all of the emphasis on circumcision LONG before the Law of Moses, I get to thinking the same way. I don't care if you agree, and I don't care what my kids do . . . I think it is a good idea. Now . . . See if you can engage my thinking here.

        • Alfred Corduan April 11, 2014

          Greg R: let's see . . . Jesus is grace? God gives Jesus to the humble? I thought He gives Jesus to everybody? A person fails of Jesus when they become bitter? Could see that . . . Fallen from Jesus? Don't like that too much.

          And then there is this: Romans 12:6
          "Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us"

          Different amounts of Jesus given to us?

          And then Jesus says "My grace is sufficient" . . . Seems like Jesus is way bigger than just grace. WHAT does Jesus give us, then, that turns our weakness into strength?

          "Grace is Jesus" is at best another "truism" like "unmerited favor" . . . Like saying my new mode of transportation is green. Ok, lots of things are green . . . WHAT is it?

        • greg r April 11, 2014

          @Alfred: OK, I wandered into some hyperbole on my last post, I will admit that. No, Jesus does not = grace. But, He is full of grace and truth. the best expressions of grace and truth we have been given are not the ten commandments, not the law in any form, none of the miracles , per se, but a person, Jesus. He is full of grace, to best understand what grace is , look at Jesus, hope that clears up my thought a bit.
          I don't think you answered one of my questions, though, do you really think that those who are not humble get nothing ?? No grace , nothing ?? Do you think that is what 1peter 5 is trying to tell us ??
          As I mentioned, I sure don't think Gods's resistance is 'nothing'. I think it is his personal reproof, and an appeal for repentance... I find grace in that , also. God is always GIVING, the package might vary from person to person.
          more later, perhaps.

        • Alfred Corduan April 11, 2014

          Well, Greg R, first of all the grace -> humble verse is cited, more or less verbatim, three separate times in Scripture . . . the proverbial "three witnesses":

          Proverbs 3:34 "Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly."

          James 4:6 "But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble."

          1 Peter 5:5 "Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble"

          Taken as a whole, I have a hard time not believing that grace is withheld from the proud. It even appears that "resisting" and "grace" are opposites. God pushes away the proud, but draws in the humble. THAT is consistent with Scripture.

          And as to "always giving", that is NOT Scriptural. Example:

          "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways." (James 1:6-8)

          God most definitely does NOT give when there is no faith . . . This is specifically focused on wisdom . . . but "any thing" is pretty generic.

        • Shane April 11, 2014

          @Alfred- Gothard taught circumcision is what more faithful more godly Christians do. Of any possible Biblical reasons to circumcise this one is actually antithetical to the Scriptures. Again, you seem to skip over the explicit teaching of Paul and Gothard. That's what I'm intending to address. So either Paul teaches two different (antithetical) things on circumcision or Timothy fits in his teaching in Galatians. Timothy's circumcision was for the sake of his ability to minister to certain people, not in order to pursue the better way

          This, for me, has never been a carte blanche assertion the circumcision= legalism, but that circumcision as a mark of the serious Christian is anethma. Gothard taught the latter. Paul addresses this very teaching in Galatians, and he does not deal kindly with it. I have yet to see you engage in any manner what Paul teaches in Galatians in relation to what Gothard teaches. Maybe you have, but every time I've brought it up or seen others bring it up you bounce to something else.

          So just to be clear. The issue is that Bill Gothard taught that there is "no question" what the Christian parent should do regarding circumcision based on what's "commanded" in the Scriptures. The plain reading of this statement is that for a Christian parent to be obedient to God he/she must circumcise their boys. That is against what Paul teaches in Galatians. Timothy is a different issue. Parents decisions based on what they believe is medically better has nothing to do with what Gothard taught. Your openness to differing opinions and practices among Christians is not what Gothard taught. He taught is as a matter of obedience. He taught is as a matter of godliness. That is the issue.

          I'm thankful that you show the wisdom to ignore certain aspects of Gothard's teachings. I am addressing what he taught. It was not nuanced. It was wrong! It was against the teachings of the Bible! It is a perfect example of legalism!

        • Alfred Corduan April 11, 2014

          Well, Shane, it simply is wrong to assert that Bill ever taught anything significant about circumcision. That booklet remains the only source for your allegation. There are no seminar messages, communications that ever addressed circumcision . . . that I am aware of in 40 years of listening. It never came up in discussions among ATI families . . . it is simply and completely a non-issue.

          So . . . whatEVER Bill meant by that statement has to be interpreted in the light of everything else. You are misinterpreting his intent, pure and simple. It is a matter of DESIGN, just like a day of rest. The way God designed men . . . IF you believe that, you would find yourself motivated to implement it. Same with "unclean" animals for food . . . your inclination, upon reading the Bible, is to back away from it. He gave His very best rules to the Jews, because He wanted them to be as successful as possible.

          And . . . I eat pork regularly . . . shellfish. I do it without qualms. And I believe what I just told you. That is, again, why I laugh. I am free!! I can eat or not eat. I am also free to believe that there is real design in the OT law and to the extent that I honor that design, I will do better - be healthier, live longer. It is all a plus, not a negative.

      • Shane April 12, 2014 Reply

        I take your response to mean that had Gothard taught that about circumcision he'd have been wrong to do so?

        He taught explicitly about circumcision in the seminars I attended. I don't have quotes, but the one cited by Jonathan captures what I remember him teaching.. I'm glad you are more nuanced in your life about the law than Gothard.

      • Alfred Corduan April 12, 2014 Reply

        I stand by what I said. Circumcision is no more or less appropriate than dedicating Sunday as a day of rest. You DO know that that issue -the "sabbath" - was also a touchstone for the Judaeizers . . . Jesus rebuking them for their attempts to reduce this thing made "for man" into a series of mindless commands. Yet . . . We "keep the meat and throw out the bones" . . . We dedicate a day of rest and worship and remembrance while remembering why we do so. Comes from a respect of God's pattern. I encourage circumcision for no other reason. Which would be the dominant perspective among believers in this nation, at least, for hundreds of years. Circumcision was the norm. Why, Shane? All a bunch of Judaeizers?

        And that is exactly where Bill is coming from. It isn't law keeping . . . It isn't getting or staying saved. It is honoring God and His design. For the same reasons he discourages pork. Given that you KNOW what Bill taught, it is slightly dishonest of you to try to get people to lump him with those that, like my friend, want to turn Christians into Jews.

        Acts 15:1
        "And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved."

        • greg r April 12, 2014

          @Alfred: I'm a little tired today, so the brain (not a rhodes scholar type brain anyway..) is not working that great. you wrote

          I stand by what I said. Circumcision is no more or less appropriate than dedicating Sunday as a day of rest

          Ok, you encourage certain things...(other christians have their list also, maybe different..) You 'respect the pattern..' other christians might see that as 'meh'
          my question is: Is there liberty in these things or not ?? and I don't mean half-assed liberty, pardon the painters jargon, I mean full blown , Jesus can get behind EITHER way type liberty.

          make up your mind, or perhaps you already made it up, and I was too dense to decipher your point. sometimes you seem to be agreeing with what the general RG group is saying, and then you say something that looks (to me) 180 deg. different. somewhere I feel Matthew smiling.....

        • Shane April 12, 2014

          You have yet to engage Galatians. The is nothing dishonest about what I've said or for you to accuse me of it is wrong! You don't know my motives; I am not trying to lump him in with anyone trying to turn anyone into Jews. I have never said or thought that. I am arguing that he teaches what the Judaizers addressed by Paul in Galatians taught. I've quoted Gothard. I've quoted the Bible. I used the term Judaizers because you won't except the use of "legalist". We know that the Judaizers of Acts 15 are the ones troubling the Galatian Christians. So they must have actually said more than the quote in Acts 15. How do we know? Paul tells us in Galatians the nature of their teaching. I walked through that portion of the Bible.

          Yes Acts 15.1 says what you've quoted. That that teaching is wrong is not in dispute. I never said Gothard taught that. Will you please acknowledge that is not all that was wrongly taught about circumcision in the first century? You know, read Galatians? Interact remotely with what I've pointed out to you from Galatians? Interact with Gothard's quote? The words he actually used?

          You DO know that the issue of Sabbath was an issue because the church understood it was about WAY more that Saturday, right? That the sabbath proceeded the Law and it extends beyond the Law to the final rest of the New Heavens and New Earth. This is why the church immediately shifted the day of worship to Sunday; the day of resurrection, the first day of the week, the Lord's Day, the first day of the coming eschatological rest that Jesus secured by his life, death, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of the Father. Because of Christ sabbath took on it's full dimension. This is why the Judaizers were wrong to be legalistic about the day, it's because the day signified so much more than they understood. As Paul says in Colossians 2.17; the Judaizers were holding onto the shadow rather than the substance, which is Jesus. The laws on circumcision and the Sabbath (temple, sacrifice, food laws, cleanliness laws, etc.) find their fulfillment in Christ. The legalist says Sabbath=Saturday, circumcision=godliness. Jesus says no they're about so much more than that.

          So circumcision is similar to the Sabbath in this regard. The shadow circumcision pointed forward. To what? To a male heir that would be Messiah and secure all the blessing of the covenant for the people of God. Who's that? Jesus. Of course he was circumcised on the 8th day. He was the final and faithful covenant servant. He represented Israel perfectly according to the Law. Which is why those laws have ceased to hold the same place in the new covenant community. So what about circumcision now? It's called baptism. Now the mark of the covenant is no longer pointing forward to a male heir, but is about the classing that has come because of that Heir. And now it is applied to males and females as heirs of the covenant blessing because of Jesus. Paul in dealing with the circumcision and sabbath party says in Col 2.10-11 that we have been circumcised by our baptism into Jesus.

          This is the heart of the difference between Gothard's teaching and what I believe the Scriptures teach about circumcision. The physical act of circumcision required by God in the OT was always only a shadowy sign pointing forward to fulfillment in Jesus. Making godliness about the sign is going BACKWARDS in redemptive history. Making Sabbath simply about Saturday and/or the garden is going backwards to the shadow rather than the substance which is Jesus. (For the eschatological aspect of Sabbath see Mark 2.27 and Hebrews 4.) Keeping the sabbath or circumcision never made one godly. It always pointed to the need for a godliness outside yourself. Jesus. (Read Hebrews- the sacrifice of goats and bulls couldn't do what was needed for godliness. They pointed to the True Sacrifice.)

          Circumcision is GONE as a sign of anything spiritual. It's now Baptism. Saturday is GONE as the day of rest. It's now the Lord's Day, the day of resurrection. You have not applied to circumcision what the Church has always understood regarding the Sabbath.

          I have actually thought these things through. I am not on some witch hunt to take down "god's man". Please don't accuse me of being dishonest.

        • MatthewS April 12, 2014

          "You have yet to engage Galatians."

          I once saw a TV episode where a boss was pressuring his underlings to listen to a voice mail message and help him find some hidden message in it. The voice mail was from a lady breaking up with the boss, and stating in no uncertain terms she was completely through with him. One employee finally decided that if they listened to the pauses, the quiet space in between when she was talking, perhaps they could find some meaning there.

          That's how I see a lot of Alfred's comments - looking around in the pauses for places to hang on to a desired message. But missing the point. Fruit of the flesh versus fruit of the Spirit, the Body of Christ, walking in step with the Spirit, loving God and others - these kinds of things are emphasized in the New Testament as the point of the message. Just as one example of a good author, Jerry Bridges has written some great stuff about both grace and holiness. That's what I wish Alfred could see, is the main messages intended in Scripture, rather than living around in the white spaces of the margins and between the lines.

        • Shane April 12, 2014

          MatthewS- But can you argue with listening to the pauses when Stanley learned that on the streets, the ghetto in fact?

        • MatthewS April 12, 2014

          you're on to me!

        • Shane April 15, 2014

          @Alfred?

        • Alfred Corduan April 16, 2014

          I have finally found someone who loves to argue even more than I do :-) Shane, I see you have your perspectives . . . on what this or that means. I happen to disagree with you. I made my points quite clearly. Have been interacting with Galatians, but I, again, disagree with all of the murky thinking you are trying to attach there.

          We know Paul was upset with the Galatians . . . was it about circumcision per se? Obviously not, for he circumcised Timothy BECAUSE of unbelieving Jews whom that might offend. Think that one through.

          It was not because people were respecting the law, like taking the 10 commandments and posting them on the wall, or even studying obscure OT precepts for guidance on Christian living. [Before you react, read 1 Cor. 9:9- as confirmation of that]

          No, he was upset because people were tying
          circumcision and law keeping to salvation. It is so simple. Get circumcised or lose your salvation.

        • Shane April 16, 2014

          Well, my desire for you to respond was directed more at your swipe at my honesty in engaging what Gothard taught on circumcision. It seemed a bit shady to make that accusation and then not engage my response. You've yet to address accusing me of dishonesty. I don't appreciate it.

          You have not engaged Galatians and I assume will not. You just keep talking about Timothy. That's not an answer. That is not addressing Galatians. I have given you a biblical logical answer to how Acts 15, Timothy's circumcision, and Paul's teaching in Galatians and Colossians fit together. You responded that you stick by your position because of Timothy and my "murky thinking there" and an unfounded assertion that the teaching was simply "get circumcised or lose your salvation". (That's not even what acts 15.1 says!)

          I submit that your not understanding or engaging seriously what I've written does not make my thinking murky. Maybe you could point out where I've been "murky". I'll quote my above post here. Please note I walk through and engage the text.
          "@Aflred- I get it from Galatians. The problem that Paul is addressing throughout the letter is summarized by Paul in Gal. 3.1-5. Paul asks; why are you foolishly seeking to be sanctified by works of the law, for example circumcision, when you were justified by hearing with faith. Don't you know that the same way you received the Spirit in your justification is the way you are perfected; sanctification? That is, hearing with faith! He's speaking to Christians who were justified by believing the gospel message, and he scolds them for pursuing holiness, growth as a Christian, ("there is no question" what Christian parents "should" do to keep what the Scriptures "command" and "reinforce"-Gothard) by works of the law. Paul's astonished! Wonders who has bewitched them. Says the should go all the way and castrate themselves. Says anathema.The issue that Paul is addressing in Galatians is Christians who are listening to the Judaizers and taking circumcision in order to be better Christians; to "be perfected" (Gal.3.3) He actually says it's a fleshly pursuit. Nowhere else does Paul bolt out of the gate so quickly and harshly than Galatians. Why? Because people are harassing Christians into believing that the be "better" they should be circumcised. I'm not sure how you get around this."

          You say: "It was not because people were respecting the law, like taking the 10 commandments and posting them on the wall, or even studying obscure OT precepts for guidance on Christian living. [Before you react, read 1 Cor. 9:9- as confirmation of that] No, he was upset because people were tying circumcision and law keeping to salvation. It is so simple. Get circumcised or lose your salvation."

          Upon what in Galatians are you basing that opinion? How does that square with Galatians 3.1-5? If the issue were as you say and not about being a "better" Christian (sanctification) why doesn't Paul simply assure them their salvation is secure whether or not they're circumcised rather than: "Gal. 6:12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. Gal. 6:13 For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh." He doesn't say they're worried about salvation but avoiding the social/religious scorn of the cross. They are teaching a cross+ view of "being perfected" (gal 3.3) Why does he call it hypocrisy and spying out freedom? Galatians is not about losing salvation but about the freedom the Christian has in the gospel over against the legalism (boasting in the flesh) of the judaizing Christians (Peter actually falls into the trap).

          You offered a reading of circumcision and Sabbath, I responded with a Biblical and theological engagment of your point. I pointed out actual passages from the Bible that deal with both the Sabbath and circumcision in the new covenant community. You just chalk it up to "your perspective".

          All this goes back to your lament that Gothard is being (you think unfairly) held to something he taught. He's been quoted. Some passages that show his teaching to be out of accord with the Gospel have been quoted and exegeted. In the matter of circumcision Bill Gothard was a legalistic and misunderstood grace.

        • Alfred Corduan April 16, 2014

          Mercy! One point at a time. I will take your last post offline and reply.

          While I am doing that . . . on the honesty issue . . . please detail what you DO recall Mr. Gothard saying about circumcision. For this discussion the statement in the MTIA booklet is off limits. I alleged that circumcision is NOT a defining characteristic of ATI . . . mentioned in passing, in fact, so "passing" that *I* never heard him bring it up publicly in 40 years of seminars. Or if he did, it was in a medical context . . . I may not at the moment be able to separate his comments from those that I got from other sources, particularly "None of These Diseases", McMillan and Stern, which I read on my own in my youth.

          So . . . you said you heard him address it. Roughly how often, and in what context? What did you take away from what you heard?

        • Shane April 16, 2014

          I took away that the more godly more biblical thing for Christian parents to do is circumcise their boys. It was 30 years ago. It was a teaching in his IBYC seminar in Dallas. It corresponds very well to what is written in the MITA.

          "For this discussion the statement in the MTIA booklet is off limits." I don't get this prohibition. Has he recanted this teaching?

          Your accusation of dishonesty remains inappropriate. You are wrong to read between the lines of my intentions and accuse me of something, of which you have no evidence.

          I look forward to you engagement with Galatians.

        • Alfred Corduan April 17, 2014

          ["I took away that the more godly more biblical thing for Christian parents to do is circumcise their boys."]

          Did it have any more significance than his perspective that it is more biblical for Christian families to eliminate things "offered to idols" from their lives? If not . . . then your argument that Bill fits into the "Judaizer" category fails. Since Paul most definitely deals with that issue . . . and allows that some are convicted differently from others and each serves the Lord according to that conviction. Just like Paul signed the letter commanding all Gentiles to refrain from food offered ritually to demons, so he also circumcised Timothy.


          ["I look forward to you engagement with Galatians."]

          :-) I have prepared a lengthy "blow by blow" response to your post. Instead of posting it here, I am going to attach at the bottom of the comments. As long as we reply to that post we can keep from stranding ourselves all the way to the unreadable right.

    • Shane April 1, 2014 Reply

      Oh no he's a Calvinist!! Should we throw him in the river to see if he floats or just see if he weighs more than a duck?

      Please lay your cards on the table. What is YOUR definition of grace? It's not unmerited, at least that's what I assume by your use of the """. You simply dismiss his article because you've sniffed out he's a Calvinist. I'll reiterate, your response is ad hominem. You don't agree with the "unmerited" favor of God. That is not a Calvinist position. It's the Protestant position. Are you semi-Pelagian or Pelagian? Are Calvinists Christians? Should anyone listen to anything they have to say? Or are we to dismiss their view of grace out of hand? What did he say that you disagree with? Why do you disagree? Do you have Anything to back it up other than he's a Calvinist? Your response strikes me as very narrow minded and ungenerous.

      This part of your engagement actually astounds me. I don't care that you disagree with Calvinism. Lots of fine Chirstians do. Lost of fine Christians are Calvinists. What is so confusing is that you'd be much more concerned about Gothard's actions and teachings were he a Calvinist. For that you could bring yourself to condemn, but he acts inappropriately with a host of young women under his work and pastoral supervision and you excuse it All the while refusing to call something that we have a clear example of the Bible calling it heresy, heresy. Galatians. Please!

      But someone that reads the scriptural passages regarding God's sovereignty and human freedom and deals with the complex interaction of the two differently than you- heresy!

      My advice (that obviously none of you have to heed for a second) is that we not get into a discussion about Calvinism v. Arminianism. Gothard's definition of grace is neither! Please discuss the validity of Tullian's article. I think this attack on the messenger approach of Alfred is shady and against the scriptural view of "on Lord, one faith, one baptism ". To be clear: I am not saying the the differences between Calvimism and Armininianism are unimportant and should never be debated. Roger Olson is a friend and we engage these issues on occasion. I completely reject the method by which this has been brought up here.

      • MatthewS April 1, 2014 Reply

        fwiw, Regarding your final paragraph: well stated and I agree.

      • greg r April 1, 2014 Reply

        I second this.... the current direction is a colossal waste of bandwidth...

        • Amy April 2, 2014

          Agreed!!! My comment on a previous post regarding Gothard's views on adoption prompted a response about Calvinism as well :)

          Alfred, I totally get your internal struggle with this issue... we want things to feel fair, earned, deserved! It is our nature! That is the whole point of this article. Arminian or Calvinist, we are saved because of who God is and what Christ has done, not because of who WE are, or what WE have done.

          When one believes that God first chose us, that does not place one in a Baptist camp or a Presbyterian camp. It is the very definition of grace. It simply means that we can take no credit for our own salvation. It emphasizes the critical thing that happened BEFORE our hearts chose to trust in Christ. It means that Grace is the most incredible, counterintuitive, beautiful thing ever!

          Alfred, I really was not trying to stir up theological controversy (although there are some incredible students of the Bible in the RG community and I would love to talk theology with them in another forum!!). I was raised in the church, in a real-deal Christian family where I was discipled, loved, raised to know and love the Lord. I am certain I knew the Lord and walked with Him from an early age. But I was a young adult when I finally "got" Grace, when it truly penetrated from my head to my heart... well it was LIFE-CHANGING. That is where my heart is coming from! That is the gospel truth that I would never want to cloud or confuse with 5 points or tulips :) I still catch myself striving to earn Grace all the time!! Thanks RG for this beautiful article!!

      • Alfred Corduan April 2, 2014 Reply

        I could not disagree more. The title of this website is "Recovering Grace". We must have lost something for it to need recovering. When I look for the "bottom line" it generally floats around the idea of "unmerited". Since Bill teaches that grace may be increased by humbling ourselves and that it is lost - or becomes ineffective - when we refuse to forgive others, i.e. become bitter. Those that continually pound on "unmerited" are Calvinists, because humbling ourselves and asking for grace and forgiving people so we do not become bitter is "work" to them. With non-Calvinists there is a basis for discussion . . . grace is far from "irresistible", my friends - while it is freely offered we can most definitely exercise our wills to resist it, fail of it, fall from it.

        • greg r April 2, 2014

          @Alfred: Bill teaches that grace may be increased by humbling ourselves .....

          You can stop with that, yes , GOD gives grace to the humble, but I don't think this is a 'quid pro quo' setup at all. GOD does not WAIT to extend grace until we are humble, and then get started.
          I know we see this differently, but your grace scenario , Alfred, has wretched urgency all over it: trying very hard to be humble in order to get daddy to give me some grace... don't think so , bro, I know this is something of a nuanced argument, because humility is near GOD's heart, but some of your details are off, IMO

        • Shane April 2, 2014

          So here are the two places merit is mentioned in the article with some context.

          "It [grace] refuses to be controlled by our innate sense of fairness, reciprocity, and evenhandedness. It defies logic. It has nothing to do with earning, merit, or deservedness. It is opposed to what is owed. It doesn’t expect a return on investments. It is a liberating contradiction between what we deserve and what we get. Grace is unconditional acceptance given to an undeserving person by an unobligated giver."

          "Robert Capon articulates the prayer of the grace-averse heart: “Restore to us, Preacher, the comfort of merit and demerit. Prove for us that there is at least something we can do, that we are still, at whatever dim recess of our nature, the masters of our relationships”"

          You disagree with these statements? Why? What makes them Calvinist? You defend Bill's view of grace. From where did he derive it? What makes the Gothardist definition of grace more commendable than the widely accepted view among Protestants? Does it bother you that it's more in line with Pelagius? Would you say grace is merit and deserved?

          Again, I get it: you don't like Calvinists. Your response has yet to show that your beef is with what he's said in the article. I grew up in an anything but Calvinist Baptist church. They hammered away at grace as unmerited favor. What's so unsettling about the Gothardist's definition of grace it that it is widely rejected; across theological and denominational lines. Will you please show some charity and not create and accuse division where there is none?

        • greg r April 2, 2014

          @Alfred: this is the BIG elephant walking across the church floor... I repeat: yancey, capon, manning, swindoll, stanley, ... I can go on for awhile, but my dog needs to get fed.. this is not a calvanist/arminian debate (and I am well aware that these exist, just not on the def. of grace, really)

          What's so unsettling about the Gothardist's definition of grace it that it is widely rejected; across theological and denominational lines

          the question to Bill and friends: why should we buy into this NEW definition of grace ?? and Alfred, aren't you even a LITTLE leery of a NEW definition of grace...one that reeks of ersatz novelty ?? maybe bill should have stayed with what christians have been believing for a few thousand yrs. was the OLD definition really that bad ??

        • dreamer April 2, 2014

          Alfred, I strongly disagree with Calvinism. You might even say I hate it. I AGREE with you that grace is not "irresistible. But I also believe it is unmerited. I'm not sure why you think that anyone who believes that grace cannot be earned is somehow a Calvinist.

        • Ryan Sapp April 3, 2014

          @alfred
          Since Bill teaches that grace may be increased by humbling ourselves and that it is lost - or becomes ineffective - when we refuse to forgive others, i.e. become bitter.

          Once again an example of Bill not living by the very principles he espouses which is why we are all on this site, even you Alfred.

    • AP's Mom April 2, 2014 Reply

      Hi Alfred,

      I think you would appreciate knowing that there have been Calvinists in support of ATI from its beginning. My parents were introduced to ATI by Calvinists. We went to a Calvinist church that was full of ATI families. It was an approved church for one of the training centers, and we frequently had TC staff and students attending. Our Calvinist pastor was on the board of IBLP for over two decades.

      I would also like to say that there are many Calvinists who disagree with Tchividjian on a few points, particularly his position which has been termed "passive sanctification." Tchividjian is not a perfect representative of all Calvinists.

      ~AP's Mom

  5. Concerned Outsider April 1, 2014 Reply

    Alfred, I was expecting you to rail about this respected pastors' Calvinist view of grace, and you did not disappoint. I will respond to your questions/statements...

    Alfred: Of course, why is it that those who proclaim "Grace" so loudly as "unmerited" are . . . Calvinists. He is "reformed".

    Response: Calvinists proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and the unmerited grace we receive as Christians as contained in the Holy Bible. I would encourage any RG reader that does not worship in a church that proclaims "grace, grace, and more grace", like so beautifully written above, to find a church that does. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Alfred: "He believes that God gives that grace without cost, without effort and without resistance to some . . . and withholds it from others. The withholding being for nothing that they have done . . . just . . . because He decided it that way."

    Response: Grace is not without cost. It cost our Lord Jesus Christ His life, which He willing laid down for His sheep, and in obedience to God's will. But, yes, this grace does NOT come at a cost to the believer. It is given freely, through NO effort (or works) of our own. Which is clearly what the Bible says about grace. You also say that God "withholds it from others...for nothing that they have done..." Nonbelievers do not receive grace because they are sinners that do not trust Jesus Christ as their redeemer. We are all sinners and deserve the wrath of God, and the fact that God would choose to save any of us is a sign of His love for His children and His truly amazing grace.

    We are drawn by the Holy Spirit to see the light of Jesus Christ. After your recent writings alleging that Paul was proud to be a legalist and Pharisee, and your denial of the horrible impact that so many of your Gothard brethren have written about here on RG over the years, it is clear that you do not see the true light of Jesus Christ and the gospel of His unmerited love, grace and mercy.

    I grew up Baptist and never felt like I was good enough. My life changed 18 years ago when God led me to a reformed church filled with people that understand that we all need the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ new every day. That is His message that those hurt by Gothard need to hear, which is also what is written in His word.

    There is NOTHING biblical about Gothard's nonoptional principles for guaranteed "success". As an outsider it so clearly evident that this man created a story/program based upon his perverted desire for power, money, deviant/harmful behavior and control. And by espousing that grace is merited, he created a cult based upon his false teaching which is clearly not Biblical. There is not a respected Christian scholar on earth that would agree with BG's false teaching.

    I did not intend to rant, but I see you Alfred defend BG by continuing to believe his incorrect "interpretation" of scripture. And I read here about many who are beginning to see some of the errors but still want to hang on to the false notion that we can earn anything regarding our salvation or standing with God. I love you all and pray the Lord will shine brightly in your lives. May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you...

  6. Andrew April 1, 2014 Reply

    Note of clarification to @Alfred, according to classic Calvinist theology, Grace is VERY costly. The cost was the tremendous sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. It is Arminianism that implies that this sacrifice was not enough...that some human effort is also needed "in the mix".

    • LynnCD April 1, 2014 Reply

      Andrew, my understanding is Arminians teach that grace is wholly unmerited, but that the common grace God extends to mankind (unmerited) also includes prevenient grace, which enlightens mankind to accept or reject God (for the record, I neither believe nor disbelieve in prevenient grace).

      It is not a concept found in Scripture, but I tend to think men such as Wesley would say the sacrifice of Christ was enough.

      Let's not forget these words, especially verse 3. written by Charles Wesley, who with his brother, founded the Methodist Church:

      "And can it be that I should gain
      an interest in the Savior's blood!
      Died he for me? who caused his pain!
      For me? who him to death pursued?
      Amazing love! How can it be
      that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
      Amazing love! How can it be
      that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

      2.
      'Tis mystery all: th' Immortal dies!
      Who can explore his strange design?
      In vain the firstborn seraph tries
      to sound the depths of love divine.
      'Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
      let angel minds inquire no more.
      'Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
      let angel minds inquire no more.

      3.
      He left his Father's throne above
      (so free, so infinite his grace!),
      emptied himself of all but love,
      and bled for Adam's helpless race.
      'Tis mercy all, immense and free,
      for O my God, it found out me!
      'Tis mercy all, immense and free,
      for O my God, it found out me!

      4.
      Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
      fast bound in sin and nature's night;
      thine eye diffused a quickening ray;
      I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
      my chains fell off, my heart was free,
      I rose, went forth, and followed thee.
      My chains fell off, my heart was free,
      I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

      5.
      No condemnation now I dread;
      Jesus, and all in him, is mine;
      alive in him, my living Head,
      and clothed in righteousness divine,
      bold I approach th' eternal throne,
      and claim the crown, through Christ my own.
      Bold I approach th' eternal throne,
      and claim the crown, through Christ my own."

      • MatthewS April 1, 2014 Reply

        fwiw, one discussion related to that here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2013/08/an-arminian-ordo-salutis-order-of-salvation/

      • Soul Knots April 1, 2014 Reply

        Thank you :) I joined the UMC after marrying my dear husband nearly 14 years ago, more out of reaction to Gothardism than study or reflective meditation. I'm just now beginning to appreciate the nuances of Methodism and how, at its true foundation, the understanding of grace is not about Arminianism vs Calvinism or Gothardism vs the world, but really about what the gospel says for everyone who is ready to hear it. I have a long road ahead of me, and a tank full of gas and an adventurous spirit! I hope I can make it to the end of the race.

        • Ryan Sapp April 1, 2014

          You'll get there.
          Take a gas can just in case:)

  7. Soul Knots April 1, 2014 Reply

    I have been trying to figure out, for almost a year now, what my priest meant when he talked about "one way love," and being unfamiliar with the concept of grace, I was too ashamed and embarrassed to ask. Now I understand. Thank you.

  8. Soul Knots April 1, 2014 Reply

    I should clarify that I grew up with the Gothard definition of "grace" and that is why I feel as though I have never truly understood the concept...

  9. Alfred Corduan April 1, 2014 Reply

    Concerned Outsider: [" My life changed 18 years ago when God led me to a reformed church filled with people that understand that we all need the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ new every day. That is His message that those hurt by Gothard need to hear, which is also what is written in His word."]

    So . . . in salvation or for life "every day" we will fail without grace, right? Yet you believe that God gives it according as He wishes, for no other reason than . . . He feels like it. Those that do not receive this grace fail . . . fail to get saved, fail to live saved. And, as you say, there is NOTHING they can do about it, right?

    The lost on their way to hell as well as the sinning believer simply are unable to help themselves and God is unwilling to help them. I can see how this eliminates a ministry dedicated to helping believers increase grace as well as helping unbelievers obtain grace to be saved, so leaving everyone to muddle along based solely on the Lord's decisions . . . but . . . WHAT about this excites you?

    • Concerned Outsider April 1, 2014 Reply

      Alfred wrote: "So . . . in salvation or for life "every day" we will fail without grace, right?"

      Response: Yes!

      Alfred wrote: "Yet you believe that God gives it according as He wishes, for no other reason than . . . He feels like it."

      Response: God does everything according to His perfect sovereign will. Do you not believe this? Romans 9:14 "...I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who has mercy." This is the Word of the Lord. Who am I to question His will?

      Alfred wrote: "I can see how this eliminates a ministry dedicated to helping believers increase grace as well as helping unbelievers obtain grace to be saved, so leaving everyone to muddle along based solely on the Lord's decisions." The reformed church where my family worships has the strongest commitment (people/training/action/$) to missions of any church I have ever seen. We go forth to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ with hearts full of his love and grace.

      Lastly Alfred wrote: "WHAT about this excites you?"

      Response: Borrowed from Pastor Tchividjian above: "The idea that there is an unconditional love that relieves the pressure, forgives our failures, and replaces our fear with faith seems too good to be true.

      Longing for hope in a world of hype, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the news we have been waiting for all our lives. Jesus came to liberate us from the weight of having to make it on our own, from the demand to measure up. He came to emancipate us from the burden to get it all right, from the obligation to fix ourselves, find ourselves, and free ourselves. Jesus came to release us from the slavish need to be right, rewarded, regarded, and respected. Because Jesus came to set the captives free, life does not have to be a tireless effort to establish ourselves, justify ourselves, and validate ourselves.

      Once this good news grips your heart, it changes everything."

      Faith alone in Christ alone! There is NO other way...

      • Christy April 2, 2014 Reply

        ^^Amen!!!

    • Alfred Corduan April 2, 2014 Reply

      You have confirmed, then, that there are two classes of individuals: The elect, such as yourself, and the non-chosen ones. They are destined by God's purposes to live lives of darkness and fear . . . and scream in hell for all eternity. I am just not able to rejoice in such a thing. I guess I care too much for unsaved family and friends to rest there. Since this represents a definitely spin away from any hope of relating to the OP, I will leave it there.

      [I put my thoughts on the general topic of "Calvinism" into a 60 stanza poem :-) . . . http://www.corduan.com/calvin_poem.html ]

  10. Christy April 1, 2014 Reply

    Alfred,

    God's grace was given to us freely when Jesus died for the sins of the world. There was nothing that we could do; there is nothing that we can do to repair our relationship with God. But God turned the full amount of His wrath and punishment for sin on Jesus. He did it all. The only thing left for us to do is just believe. The only thing stopping people from receiving God's grace and forgiveness is their belief.

    "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." John 3:16-18

    It's not about Calvanism or Armenianism; it's about Jesus.

    • Concerned Outsider April 1, 2014 Reply

      Amen!

    • KH April 1, 2014 Reply

      We had a problem with this at a children's camp when some teens from one of the churches attending (they were there to be helpers) and they started spouting 5 point Calvinist doctrine. I had to kindly tell their lead sponsor that this camp was about sharing Jesus' love with third thru sixth graders, not the "joys" of being a 5 point Calvinist! All the isms in the world don't mean a thing to me other than Jesus died for my sins because He loved me!

      And you don't want to get me started about the second coming! I am a pan-theist! It is ALL GOING TO "pan" out in the end! We win!

  11. Shane April 2, 2014 Reply

    @KH- I can let a lot of criticisms go without comment, but would you please refrain blaming the iPad? Forget JC (John Calvin) things really changed for me when I invited Steve Jobs into my life. He made it so when I burned my rock music it wasn't destroyed but became portable.

    • greg r April 2, 2014 Reply

      just assure me it wasn't ga-ga on the go-go

      • Ryan Sapp April 2, 2014 Reply

        Hey hey....was that directed at me;)

    • Ryan Sapp April 4, 2014 Reply

      My 5s has been nothing but a pain with the new software. I miss Steve. (off topic but no one reads down here anyways!)

  12. greg r April 2, 2014 Reply

    @moderators: this article is timely, and well done. Ironically, with its long quotes from an episcopal writer, it spans denominational, and in some ways doctrinal affiliation. Well written, and well chosen. Good job.
    May those who've dealt with performance based 'grace' find healing.

  13. Jeff Gill April 2, 2014 Reply

    1.
    When I write a comment, tweet or blog post and it gets a response of any sort. I get a little buzz from that. I think most people who post stuff online do. I can't help but imagine the buzz Alfred gets when he flames a comment thread like this and the conversation gets taken over by responses to him. Maybe I'm projecting? I know I would definitely have lots of feelings and I would like those feelings and want to have more of them. Might I suggest a spin-of blog called Refuting Alfred for these conversations? It could be big.

    2.
    Alfred, I am not, nor have I ever been a Calvinist. These days, a Christian description of me would probably include the words 'open' and 'theist'. I think Gothard's teaching on grace is vile. The idea that the people who understand Gothard as damaging are just a bunch of narrow Calvinists is laughable. We span the whole spectrum of Christian faith and lack thereof.

    3.
    I love this statement: 'Grace doesn’t make demands. It just gives. And from our vantage point, it always gives to the wrong person.' (I tweeted it, but no one responded. So much for having feelings. ;-)

    • eva April 2, 2014 Reply

      I wish everyone on here would just pretend that Alfred doesn't exist. It would certainly deflate his balloon if no one ever responded to his comments. And just in case he is reading this...... "recovering grace" refers to recovering the grace that was stolen by Gothard teachings. There is NO grace in his teachings at all as far as I can tell.

    • Alfred Corduan April 2, 2014 Reply

      Jeff: ["'Grace doesn’t make demands. It just gives. And from our vantage point, it always gives to the wrong person.' "]

      OK, let's compare this statement with the Scriptural description of Grace, at least in terms of where it drives us:

      "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world" (Titus 2:11-12)

      Seems like if the grace we profess doesn't drive us firmly in the direction of rejecting ungodliness and lust and chasing after sobriety, righteousness, and godliness . . . maybe it isn't grace? That DOES seem like a demand . . . doesn't it?

      Eva: IBLP changed my life. And the lives of countless others. People who live full, free, grace-filled lives years later and thank God for what Bill taught them. You see . . . they hardly ever post here. I am talking to them on the side . . . off in dark corners . . . because if they stick their necks out, various ones will find a way to chop their heads off. People professing GRACE will bludgeon them? [By far NOT everyone, even a majority on this website, to be fair] Ouch . . . something is wrong here.

      • Shane April 2, 2014 Reply

        @Alfred- no grace does not demand. "Grace brings salvation". Here grace is the person of Jesus that brings salvation. Yes grace "teaches" us. I think[?] all Christians agree that grace transforms us; from death to life, slave to child, to put off and put on, etc. These are results of the work of grace in us. The question is what is grace? Unmerited, undeserved, unearned favor of God has been a widely accepted answer.

        Being loved unconditionally changes people. Being able to buy wine and milk without money changes me. It renews me. Having a party throw after squandering all that my father set aside for my inheritance changes me. Knowing that grace purchased my pardon; that all condemnation and wrath has been extinguished changes me. Grace is resistible and it transforms into glad obedience. Grace is something we avail ourselves of and which we don't control.

        The issue with the Gothardist definition is that it conflates law and gospel, being and doing, cause and effect. Grace is unmerited favor. Being loved in an unmerited undeserved way does change us. Cutting the corner and defining grace by it's effect may look like splitting of hairs, but the overwhelming sense of guilt, shame, pride, that is attested to from those affected by Gothard's teaching could be an indication (I and many others-Calvinist and Arminians-say definitely) that something is askew in his whole accounting of law and gospel, sin and grace.

        My plea for charity is sincere, you may ignore it if you wish.

        • Shane April 2, 2014

          To be clear: I said "Grace is resistible and it transforms into glad obedience". I mean that grace works to transform resistance into glad obedience.

      • Jeff Gill April 2, 2014 Reply

        Alfred, I quote a statement about how grace is a gift to people that we think don't deserve it. You respond by trying to compare that statement to a statement about an effect of grace and return a contradiction to my quoted statement. And actually there is no contradiction as Shane ably explained. I'm not playing this game, Alfred.

      • Alfred Corduan April 17, 2014 Reply

        There are far to many sub-threads to keep up with. To proceed with this one . . . I quoted a definition of grace, or at least a description of the effect of grace:

        "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world" (Titus 2:11-12)

        I said that seems to demand a response, that we

        deny ungodliness
        deny lust
        live soberly
        live righteously
        live godly

        Shane responded that that is not a demand, and Jeff agreed.

        :-) Hey, engage my Scripture! That verse is a big reason why the prevailing "unmerited favor" definition makes so little sense. I mean . . . I understand a person being encouraged when they are told that things are not as bad as they thought. But that, ladies and gentlemen, is not the "power of God". Grace is far more than "good feelings that come when someone likes me" or "the relief I feel when a large debt has been paid". If that is true, all you have to do is lie to people. I have an endless discussion going with "Universalists", people who preach that, no matter what you do or how you die, you will eventually be in heaven. THAT makes people feel really good!

        "They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace." (Jeremiah 6:14)

        That is a crazy low opinion of the substance of "grace of God".

        No . . . TRUE grace pushes us toward denying evil and embracing a sober, controlled life, things that go against our natures. It does the impossible, really, transforming us to love God and want to please Him. That takes WAY more than friendly feelings. It takes a heart transplant, really.

        "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which WORKETH IN YOU BOTH TO DO AND TO WILL OF HIS GOOD PLEASURE." (Phil. 2:12-13) His "good pleasure" is not His good feelings toward us . . . but . . . what He wants us to do.

    • Ryan Sapp April 2, 2014 Reply

      @Jeff
      I like your 3 point post. It's right on.

      • Jeff Gill April 3, 2014 Reply

        YOU GAVE ME FEELINGS, RYAN.

        • Ryan Sapp April 3, 2014

          That's why I did it. Didn't want you to feel left out:)

  14. Trish April 2, 2014 Reply

    I read this yesterday morning and it made me smile. I loved this, it was so freeing to me personally.

    I read it to my kids and got 3 different reactions. One child hasn't responded at all - and I suspect he really hasn't believed in Jesus as his Savior yet as I'm not seeing any fruit. My other two had totally different responses. One cried, not sure that she could accept this Grace (a child where I see much fruit of the Spirit). My other child confessed that he was doing all these good things (picking up, trying to be nice, being obedient), so that bad things wouldn't happen to me or his dad. He wants to know how to change his heart so that he is doing things out of love for Jesus (this kid is my mini-evangelist and shares the gospel with his baseball teammates) instead of fear.

    I would take any and all advice on dealing with all 3 of these reactions.

    • Shane April 2, 2014 Reply

      @Trish- an online discussion feels like an odd forum for such advice. There are lots of things I would say about grace and parenting, but I'll just say a few- stream of consciousness. The beauty of grace is that it works in and transforms all three responses. So the simple answer, but extremely hard to implement, is to live out the grace described above to your children. Speak it to them. Force your discipline of your children through the constraints of grace. Refuse the temptation to discipline them simply as behavior modification. Refuse the temptation to discipline them because you feel all those accusing Christian eyes on you wondering how you're going to handle a situation. Work out your parenting around the truth that true obedience is done from love not to get things or avoid the bad things. Parent after Jesus' own demonstration of grace; he came to serve and give his life. Meaning, parent in service rather than power and authority. Last thing and I believe this is HUGE. Repent and ask forgiveness from you children when you sin against them. Model a heart being transformed by grace. If you shout at them in anger. Go back and verbalize that you were more concerned with their conforming to your will than their hearts and confess it as sin. Ask for forgiveness. These moments between you and your children are both demonstrations and proclamations of the gospel of grace,which is the power of God for their justification, sanctification, and even one day glorification.

    • Nancy2 April 2, 2014 Reply

      When my son was 7 he was playing at a friend's house in his new shoes. Being boys they went frogging and ended up covered with mud from head to toe. The friend's mother was furious and told my son to go home where she was sure he would get a beating. The sun went down and my son was missing. I called the friend's mother and she said he left her house a couple of hours ago. I prayed as I ran to all my son's favorite areas to explore. I found him hidden under a tree in our backyard crying. When he was asked what had happened he told me what was said. He knew his friend was always getting beat, and although he never experienced it he didn't want to now. He showed me his shoes. I picked them up and said, "Son, you do not need a beating. You need soap, water, and a sponge." As I cleaned his shoes he told me how exciting it was catch frogs and how they also found a few snapping turtles. I set an old pair of shoes by the back door for him in the future. He thought that was a great idea.

      My thoughts couldn't help but go to,

      Isaiah 1:18
      King James Version (KJV)
      18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.


      Years later, my son went through a tough few months. I asked him what his Dad and I could have done to make it better. He said, "You did make it better. You two are what I knew I needed to come back to." He moved forward by strengthening his walk with the Lord.

      Trish, I can't give advice. I can only tell you how my son responded to the years of grace we did our best to give over the years. He is 32 now and not only do we love him, we like him. He loves the Lord. He lifts his father and I up in prayer. God has helped him mature. And I have done my best not to hinder God's work.

      • greg r April 2, 2014 Reply

        When I was 5 or 6, four of my older brothers went out to the creek, while my dad was out of town, and brought back (beaming with pride, I'm told) a snapping turtle big as a manhole cover. We were given LOTS of freedom growing up, at least in the reptile department....some of the wisest parenting my folks did (and praise GOD for HIS protection. lol)

        • Nancy2 April 2, 2014

          Snapping turtle as big as a manhole cover! Cool!

          Frogs, turtles, lizards, baby gators, angry nutria rats, fire ants, garden snakes, mudbugs...I never knew what was coming home in my son's pockets and backpack.

          Jumping, climbing, running, rolling in the grass, swimming in the canal, digging in the mud, sitting on the roof of his clubhouse...I never knew what he would look like when he walked in the door.

          I did know he would have a story to tell, and a smile on his face. Yes! God's protection went before him, walked with him, and watched his back. He never used his freedom as a license to be sneaky. He knew the only things he would be disciplined for was lying and stealing.

          Life had enough joy, and freedom in it to keep his mind focused on healthy adventures. Enjoying all of the above is my personal definition of raising a child with grace.

        • greg r April 2, 2014

          @Nancy2: LYING and STEALING that was my parent's exact list also. I've never raised a child , but I know enough to know that keeping this list as short as possible is wisdom. major in the majors, and there really aren't that many majors. err to the side of freedom (GOD, happily does...though HE never 'errs', I suppose)
          sounds like 'john eldredge' is like a cousin in your family , or something.... :))

      • Shane April 2, 2014 Reply

        Nancy2,

        Weeping at your story! It makes me deeply thankful that God loves his children with this kind of delight and interest in their persons. It makes me sad for all the times I was an ass to especially my first child; trying to parent RIGHTLY! To be honest, I was and am often more interested in controlling my world. It's awful. Fortunately, by grace, I ask for forgiveness A LOT. And by grace my son has been a forgiving person. By grace, God gave me a wife who calls me on my sin and loves me in spite of it.

        Your story is the kind of thing that wooed me out of not only Gothardism, but the despair at sucking at being a "serious" Christian. I still struggle to believe that the Father sings with delight over me. I still have this sneaking fear that I've gotten my shoes muddy again and God is going to be pissed. Thanks for the story.

        • Concerned Outsider April 2, 2014

          Isn't it wonderful and amazing that God does sing over us with joy!

        • Shane April 2, 2014

          Yes it is! It's the only thing that gets me up in the morning. If it weren't so ("Lord I believe help my unbelief!") I would have chucked the church a long time ago, and only because it's true can I function as a pastor- though greg r is not sure I have much of a future at it :)

          What Nancy2 described is grace based parenting in action. It's a beautiful and POWERFUL thing.

      • MatthewS April 2, 2014 Reply

        oh wow, thank you for sharing this (mostly) beautiful story!

        • Nancy2 April 2, 2014

          My son's troubling time came after a summer we visited relatives. While going to their church he became acquainted with some students from BJU, and decided that is where he wanted to attend college in the fall. He told us he knew their rules were strict, but wouldn't be a problem. He thought he could balance their discipline with the grace he had always known.

          The story I posted about my son using lyrics to a rock song to witness to an unsaved student happened while he was there. The Administration said he was promoting rock music. Mind you out of respect to the college rules he only quoted the lyrics in his email to the young man in answer to a question instead of linking a youtube video.

          The Dean of Men at BJU scans through student's emails looking for key words that might indicate areas of breaking the rules. The Dean found my son's email answering the question and that was the beginning of my son's tough time.

          When they planned to social him 5 weeks before the end of his second year I came and withdrew him. I always warned him if they ever tried to falsely accuse him based on their legalistic viewpoint it would be time to leave. He promised his Dad and I that he would guard his heart against accepting a narrow view of God's love.

          Through this experience he learned the difference between God's discipline and manmade discipline. He has a very soft and open heart toward those who have been spiritually abused.

          He finished his education at CSU in Charleston. They gave him credit for his BJU hours after he told them his story. They said it was a very familiar one. It was when he graduated that he told his Dad and I, "You did make it better. You two are what I knew I needed to come back to."

          "Mostly" in a fallen world is substantial.

      • oryxx April 2, 2014 Reply

        I really needed this comment. I didn't have parents like this. I don't even realise that it should be like this. Now I am 26 and I still need to be parented like a young child

      • Ryan Sapp April 2, 2014 Reply

        @nancy2

        Tears in my eyes. One of the best posts I've seen. Thank you. Calvinism, aminianism, legalism, principles, blah blah blah. Your story is life and where the rubber meets the road. No wonder you have such a great relationship with your son. Beautiful.

        • Tangent April 9, 2014

          Yes, I agree. Grace in action, that's what these stories show. Don't give me long arguments over the fine points of defining grace, SHOW ME! Isn't that what Jesus did in telling his stories (aka, parables)?

      • esbee April 2, 2014 Reply

        Your frog and mud story reminds me of a loving Christian ranch family who took my horse in after our church split- (at the time my mare was kept at one of the pastors' pastures. This pastor had a large brood and followed Gothard but after the split he decided to split back to Colorado and I had nowhere to keep the horse.)

        At this new place, I often went riding with their kids on their 600 acres and their oldest son loved to bring home critters. On one ride he dismounted and explored the pond and yelled out in utter joy "FROG'S EGGS!" My wondering about how he was going to get them home was answered when in the next breath he exclaimed "A WHOLE HAT FULL!"

        • Nancy2 April 2, 2014

          Esbee that hits too close to home. LOL!

          I was mowing the canal banks one day and hit a frog and parts were flying everywhere. The lawn mower completely got away from me. I went sliding down the bank and sunk into the silty bottom up to my hips. When my son heard me yell he came running. The first words out of his mouth was, "Look what you did to that frog!" The second was, "You know you're in quicksand don't you?"

    • Brumby April 2, 2014 Reply

      @Trish: The only advice that I have is that focusing on your kids' "fruit" just pressed one of my hot buttons. I'll spare you by keeping this moderately short, which will in turn spare me from having an aneurism. :) As a child in a religious turned-ATI-home, I was constantly concerned that my "fruit" level was not high enough. My sibling had "lots" of "fruit," which drew more attention to the fact that I had zilch. In my home, there was not a written definition for "fruit," but I assumed it meant that I should be converting non-Believers, putting in plugs for ATI/BG whenever I could, and having lots of little spiritual fans at church. I cannot begin to define and describe the damage that this little slice of legalistic pie ("fruit") did to me. I just suggest that you define "fruit," consider if your concept of fruit is nit-picky (sorry, I speak plain English :) ), and consider the personalities and passions of your fruitless child(ren). Just promise me you'll think about it! :)

      Tangible Tool: http://shopping.laughyourway.com/kids-flag-page

  15. Jeannie April 2, 2014 Reply

    I have not posted yet but have read every article posted and almost every comment. My comments will not follow this particular thread's theme but I wanted a voice so here goes. I am a mother of 8 children. Three boys then a gothard gap of ten years with 5 more children following. We were a third year ATI family and were involved for 10 years. In 1996 we began peeling away the layers of pride, control, and lack of love or compassion for others that had been built into what had become a very performance based Christianity. My husband and I became Christians in the 70's and wanted to save our children from the wrong choices we had made. Before ATI I loved nothing more than sharing Christ's love with anyone I met...after coming out of ATI I seriously wrestled with the idea of God sanctioning my friendship with a non-believer. But these and many more issues of the same sort are not my platform.
    I love the threads Recovering Grace posts but what breaks my heart is not as much what BG taught as that he did not live what he taught. To realize that we sat for hours and listened to a man who was not who he said he was. That he in fact did not handle conflict or people in the way he expounded and worse yet he surrounded himself with young women who he took advantage of until the point they finally listened to their inner voice and said no...farthest when their inner voice failed them because of previous abuse and then someone else rescued them...the record shows it was not BG who determined how far the abuse went...that is what I want to draw attention back to. That is the root of where we were all hurt...everyone who ever listened to his messages period...think of all the Character Sketch books sitting on shelves across this country because of the beautiful pictures produced by a man involved in gross immorality. Justice and truth say people have a right to know that. We can argue how we believe Christianity plays out but BG isn't really part of that discussion...he got taken out because all his teaching is fraudulent. He didn't even live it. People like Alfred do their children a huge disservice not to look at the truth and face it together. God is not about performance...He is about honesty in our inner most being. He can handle who we are...it's why He died. Hope no one minds I changed the subject.

    • Brumby April 2, 2014 Reply

      @Jeannie: Having the attention span of a goldfish, I can appreciate that you've changed the subject and recommend that you do so as often as you like. :)

      One of the biggest surprises to me is also that BG did not live his teachings. The earth is littered with misguided religious and inspirational "leaders" who give unwarranted, rephrased, coughed up, catchy advice to anyone whose ear they can bend for 5 minutes or more. I daresay that many of these proselytizing pricks do commit and believe in their own snake oil. It's strange to me that BG could even risk not following his own methods and potentially be found as bogus or implicated negatively. In business terms, he done sunk his occupation.

    • grateful April 2, 2014 Reply

      Welcome Jeannie, may the Lord bless you. love your comment.

      For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
      The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

    • DAVID PIGG April 2, 2014 Reply

      Awesome

    • Ryan Sapp April 2, 2014 Reply

      @Jeannie (aka Mom)

      Thank you for weighing in. I think your story resonates with thousands of Mothers and Fathers. You love God, you love Jesus, you love your family, you love others.
      You are the most amazing woman I know. I'm fortunate to be your son.

      • Shane April 2, 2014 Reply

        Love this^^

      • Donna April 5, 2014 Reply

        Jeannie and Ryan,
        This brings tears to my eyes. God bless you.

    • Larne Gabriel April 2, 2014 Reply

      Jeannie,

      The primary artist for the Character Sketch Books who paint the color animal pictures was a dear older Christian by the name of Severt Andrewson who lived in the area of the Northwood facility. He retired in the early 80s and moved near his son in Levenworth, WA. Mr. Andrewson was not involved in the scandal of 1980. A second artist was Jon Farhat, also not involved in the scandal who works in Hollywood and was nominated for an Oscar for "The Mask". Jon was one of the first to expose the scandal and was ushered out of the Northwood, by the Gothards, on a rocket propelled dog sled.

      Bill's brother who was involved, wrote some of the stories and was the primary "producer" of the books.

      Larne Gabriel
      1979-80 IBYC Staff

      • Shane April 2, 2014 Reply

        "Jon was one of the first to expose the scandal and was ushered out of the Northwood, by the Gothards, on a rocket propelled dog sled."

        In keeping with the topic: This is NOT grace.

      • Ryan Sapp April 3, 2014 Reply

        Larne,

        Thank you for the explanation. My Mom just told me she really appreciated your comment. Actually her exact response was: "I just assumed Steve did the art work since he had no character, which begs the bigger question, what did Bill do"

        I got my laugh in for the day.

    • Nancy2 April 2, 2014 Reply

      You have a good son. I have enjoy reading his posts. You have loved him well, and it shows. Nice to meet you Jeannie.

      • Tangent April 9, 2014 Reply

        It's great to hear from an observer who decides to jump into the comments. You're welcome, Jeannie, and anyone else reading here.

  16. Shane Boone April 2, 2014 Reply

    This is quite an interesting discussion and quite fitting to have an article mentioning 2 of my former bosses. I worked for DP after leaving ATI. I worked their for 4 years and left prior to... There were some thoughtful discussions from everyone that worked there and all I can say is just like Ryan I am glad that I remember the verses and chapters of the scripture committed to memory. It is good to see all the comments here on RG and how most of us have come to recognize the need to have a quote that comes from an inspired source and not a flawed individual.

  17. PastorMichael April 2, 2014 Reply

    Haha! I am a Christ-follower, Calvinistic-Baptistic-Gospel-centered-Premillennial-moderately Dispensational-missional-pastor, who is very glad that God showed his one-way love toward me and that he's given us the mission to tell His Good News to every tribe, language, and nation through the power of the Holy Spirit.

    P.S. I'm glad Recovering Grace posts articles by pastors in the Reformed/Presbyterian tradition. I like them. I will enjoy worshiping with them around the throne of the Lamb. I hope you'll be there too, Alfred.

  18. Jean April 2, 2014 Reply

    I was just wondering why there wasn't any scripture quoted in this article...because then, it's just one person's idea against another's.

  19. Ryan Sapp April 3, 2014 Reply

    Here's my observation as I have thought about the message of this article and seen the responses. Grace has always been a tricky "principle". There is always this underlying fear that if we were given too much freedom then heaven forbid, who knows what we may do. Which leads to the next logical thought progression is that we can't be trusted with anything. You can see this underlying thought current in all the rules with IBLP. We all know what the rules were. It's like because you can't be trusted you can't do anything. Can't talk to a girl, you might have a bad thought. Can't have an alcoholic drink, you might get drunk. Can't listen to rock music, it will destroy your life. Can't can't can't. Grace is almost the elephant in the room. I really feel so many on this site have found that freedom. Once you find it there is a twinge of resentment if you will about how you were labeled and burdened. You actually find that you can be trusted and when you go to far and do something you regret you correct it. It actually builds a lot of confidence when you see yourself living "principles" because that's who you are rather than living "principles" based out of fear and because you can't do anything.

    • greg r April 3, 2014 Reply

      @Ryan: Grace is almost the elephant in the room. I really feel so many on this site have found that freedom. Once you find it there is a twinge of resentment if you will about how you were labeled and burdened.

      And this is why grace, when clearly taught, makes the legalists scatter or tighten down the hatches, hunker down and defend the (try harder, get serious) fort. Pure grace and large amounts of freedom go together. And joy , i guess.

    • "Hannah" April 4, 2014 Reply

      You nailed it, Ryan! We are so afraid of ourselves, that we can't live in God's promises!

    • Nancy2 April 4, 2014 Reply

      Ryan, I have enjoyed reading your posts, and this is one of your best. So perfectly said. Thank you.

      When we stop living by another man's CAN'T, we don't go crazy doing everything, we find our own CAN'T. We move through life formed by the discovered convictions prompted Holy Spirit. He is gentle.

      When my father died my mother had just barely enough to make it day by day. My siblings and I would do the best we could to help her, but even with that things were tight. She told me she had been praying for The Lord to please help her with all her needs, but every time she said the word needs it came out of her mouth deeds. She said after the third time she looked up and asked, "Lord is there something you want me to do?" She hopped in her car to go to the Post Office. There was a very old woman walking up a very long hill carrying a prescription bag, crying. My mother stopped and told her she thought she was the person that she was sent to help. The woman husband was very sick. She didn't drive. He needed his medicine. She knew she couldn't make it back up the hill. Her strength was gone.

      When my mother told a friend what had happened they said, "You CAN'T be picking up strangers. Did you witness to her?" My mother just quietly responded, "I think my Lord was just teaching me 'He Sees."

      I'm thankful my mother knew she could be trusted.

    • Shane April 4, 2014 Reply

      Ryan this is so good. Agree that you nailed it. I couldn't help go in my mind to the story of the Prodigal God (Tim Keller's book title on this parable). That twinge of resentment is also frustration at the older brother sulking outside the party refusing to come in an and celebrate the Father's prodigal grace. Much of the "yes but..." responses to the utterly free underserved unearned unmerited undemanding nature of grace are the equivalent of the elder brother saying yes the father loves you younger brother but now that you're back home there's work to be done and trust to be earned back and lost work to be made up for. And you surely don't throw a party for this wayward person who just squandered everything partying. He'll just abuse your generosity again.

      The other twinge is reaction to the reality that those rules to a "better" way play on those yet undead demons of guilt that those rules foster and feed on.

      Anyways, some of my thoughts sparked by yours/

  20. ~Kathy McDonough April 9, 2014 Reply

    I'm so glad to see Tullian on the Recovering Grace Website. He has been instrumental in helping me to see the True Message of the Bible. God's One Way love in Jesus. The Gospel is the Gospel whether we are Lutheran, Presbyterian or Baptist. I attended Tullian's conference "Liberate" in February. You can watch the videos at http://vimeo.com/liberatecoralridge/videos.

  21. Alfred Corduan April 10, 2014 Reply

    Ryan: ["Here's my observation as I have thought about the message of this article and seen the responses. Grace has always been a tricky "principle". There is always this underlying fear that if we were given too much freedom then heaven forbid, who knows what we may do."]

    So . . . Grace is a "get out of jail free" card? Let's see . . . unmerited . . . that means everybody gets out of jail, free. Right? So . . . nobody goes to hell. Just trying to clarify. The Calvinists say "Yes, all of the elect" to that. But . . . we don't like Calvinism, so we reject that(even though the author is a Calvinist).

    And with believers . . . if we all get unmerited grace to overcome all of our sin, then everybody will be in heaven the same. No rewards lost . . . since nothing we do can influence God's favor to us, or keep Him from forgiving us.

    Explain this, then:

    "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." (2 Cor 5:10) Sounds like we WILL receive according to whether we did good or bad . . . and grace doesn't fix that?

  22. Alfred Corduan April 17, 2014 Reply

    I am going to break all of my normal rules and slam in an enormous post . . . since Shane has asked me over and over to respond to his comments on Galatians (above). His last post was enormous . . . so I am going to give an enormous reply. I am also going to post at the bottom here because the old thread is all the way to the right, and this would make for impossible reading. The subtopic is “circumcision” as an expression of “legalism”, and whether Bill Gothard’s perspectives are “under the law” instead of grace.

    ["@Aflred- I get it from Galatians. The problem that Paul is addressing throughout the letter is summarized by Paul in Gal. 3.1-5. “]

    OK, in the good old KJV:

    “1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.

    5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”

    [“Paul asks; why are you foolishly seeking to be sanctified by works of the law, for example circumcision, when you were justified by hearing with faith.”]

    Galatians 5:2-3 “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.”

    For those getting circumcised for the purpose of coming under the old covenant of Moses, this is true. But . . . please answer this – based on this verse, did Timothy become a “debtor to do the whole law” when Paul circumcised him? Yes or no? If not, why not? If the manner in which you are taking Paul’s statements in Galatians are true, Paul committed a grave crime in doing that. If you allow that he did not, perhaps you will begin to understand why you cannot interpret Galatians . . . just from Galatians.

    [“Don't you know that the same way you received the Spirit in your justification is the way you are perfected; sanctification?”]

    By faith, right? Main thing not by the flesh. Now . . . Peter tells us that that “sanctification” of our fatih involves the following:

    “5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1)

    So this sanctification starts with US adding VIRTUE to our faith . . . and then KNOWLEDGE . . . and eventually GODLINESS . . . and finally LOVE. THAT is not the works of the flesh, is it? Sounds like hard work . . . “giving ALL diligence”.

    WHERE did they, for example, get KNOWLEDGE from which they were to add to their virtue? From Scripture, of course. 2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” That “scripture” at that point included a Gospel or two (John, at least, was not available until most of these believers were dead) . . . and a few of Paul’s letters . . . and for the most part the OT law and prophets!

    So . . . part of their diligence in gaining knowledge to add to their faith . . . was to study what God said in the OT . . . and learn from it. Studying circumcision, the Sabbath . . . not muzzling oxen who were treading out the corn.

    [“That is, hearing with faith! He's speaking to Christians who were justified by believing the gospel message, and he scolds them for pursuing holiness, growth as a Christian, ("there is no question" what Christian parents "should" do to keep what the Scriptures "command" and "reinforce"-Gothard) by works of the law.”]

    Well . . . there you lose me. Tell me, what does this mean:

    1 Peter 1:16 “Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

    Where is this written? Why in the law, in Lev. 11:44. Paul says that one thing they would learn by studying the law was that Christians should be holy.

    But . . . wait. The Greek tenses are significant here . . . for the “Be” is in the continuous tense . . . literally:

    “Be becoming holy, for I am holy”

    Explain what Peter said and meant if you want me to follow you. Personally that sounds like “pursuing holiness, growth as a Christian”.

    [“Paul's astonished! Wonders who has bewitched them. Says the should go all the way and castrate themselves. Says anathema.”]

    He is astonished that they were replacing Jesus with the law. Like my friend who dropped “In Jesus Name” in favor of Christless Jewish prayers. One salvation “package” for another.

    [“The issue that Paul is addressing in Galatians is Christians who are listening to the Judaizers and taking circumcision in order to be better Christians; to "be perfected" (Gal.3.3) He actually says it's a fleshly pursuit. Nowhere else does Paul bolt out of the gate so quickly and harshly than Galatians. Why? Because people are harassing Christians into believing that the be "better" they should be circumcised. I'm not sure how you get around this."”]

    “Perfected” means to become mature. Allowing my reasoning above we have established that you need the OT Scriptures to help get you there, “giving all diligence”. In fact, here is what we “establish”:

    “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.” (Rom. 3:31, ESV . . . “uphold” is “establish” in the KJV).

    CAN you “uphold” the law and “give all diligence” in studying it without trying to get saved by the flesh? Evidently you can. When I study the law I find the God has universal principles built into the way we and the world are made . . . things that make us more successful if we rest one day a week . . . and that will make life work better if men are circumcised.

    One of the biggest objections to circumcision in the modern culture is that it “decreases sensitivity” . . . in the male organ. Read up: This is the primary point of offense. I know because I had a midwife fuss at us, give us papers. With all of the nightmare of men sinning sexually one can’t help but wonder if this is just another way God designed to help them overcome. *I* think there are a lot of good reasons to continue doing what the majority of the church has done for millennia . . . circumcise because it is a pattern in Scripture. If people in faith decide not to, cool . . . just like pork eating or mixed fiber clothing . . . or any number of other things. I am not condemned if I do, and I am not condemned if I don’t.


    [“ If the issue were as you say and not about being a "better" Christian (sanctification) why doesn't Paul simply assure them their salvation is secure whether or not they're circumcised rather than: "Gal. 6:12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised”]

    How about this? “Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised.” (1 Cor 7:18) Not a problem to be circumcised or uncircumcised. Except, again, that Paul took Timothy and circumcised him. Obviously, the problem was NOT with circumcision, even if figuratively taken (i.e., you can’t “uncircumcised” yourself physically, but you sure can spiritually)

    [“Gal. 6:13 For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh." He doesn't say they're worried about salvation but avoiding the social/religious scorn of the cross.”]

    Um . . . we go back to: Why did Paul circumcise Timothy? This is all it says: “Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.” (Acts 16:3) That is awfully close to whatever you just said. How does it differ?

    [“In the matter of circumcision Bill Gothard was a legalistic and misunderstood grace.”]

    Strongly disagree. 40 years of listening to Bill and hanging with him and his ministry. I am exhibit “A” on what Bill means with what he preaches. Examine me, examine my life, my convictions, my family. I am free from the law, Oh happy condition. I learn from the law, which affects the way I live . . . but I will be in heaven because Jesus died for me. And He is my Lord. And I love Him, the One who was circumcised and kept the whole law, the law the Bible calls “perfect” (Psalm 19:7). Unlike the Pharisees He also answered to a higher law, the law of love . . . a love that “fills up” the law of Moses. I want to be like Him :-)

    • Shane April 17, 2014 Reply

      "By faith, right? " No. "Hearing with faith" (Gal 3). When I asked you to deal with Galatians I meant treating Paul's actual words in the actual context.

      You've yet to deal with calling me dishonest.

      • Shane April 17, 2014 Reply

        I apologize for the half-baked answer.

        1) I don't share your exegetical method nor would I endorse it. I think you should be a little careful in calling my thinking murky with no actual engagement with my thoughts. Maybe their poorly stated, but you've simply used them to jump somewhere else.For instance, what people say about the physical affects of circumcision has NEVER been apart of this conversation. It just muddies the water over the question of what Paul is actually addressing as the Galatian heresy.

        2) Circumcision in Galatains is about whether Gentile christians who were justified by hearing and believing the message of Jesus should now be seeking to "be perfected" by taking on circumcision as a marker of their "godliness". Paul says no. (Gal. 3.1-5). Bill Gothard says it's a good idea. I agree with Paul. In my view you have yet to take Galatians and what Paul is teaching there seriously. You also insistently dismiss what Gothard actually taught.

        3) You and I do disagree over Gothard's teachings. I have no qualms about calling his teaching on the law as the epitome of American evangelical legalism/moralism. So on that point we can agree to disagree.

        4) A final note. Please consider abandoning ad hominem arguments and reading behind what people have actually said.

      • Alfred Corduan April 17, 2014 Reply

        Ignore my grumpy response to your half-baked answer (which is still awaiting moderation) :-)

        1) physical and other practical considerations are front and center here, because that is what moves Bill Gothard in this area. If you are to find fault with him, it is on this basis.

        2) The Galatian error remains getting saved by Jesus, then using that as a springboard to get Jewish. Jesus is merely a schoolmaster to bring Christians to the law. Bill had NEVER taught that . . . Not a good idea.

        3) you are permitted to be wrong :-)

        4). Not sure what is "ad hominem". Enlighten me. When you put yourself up as the authority to correctly represent Bill Gothard's teachings, I have every right to cast doubt on that authority . . . And present myself as a more reliable authority.

    • Alfred Corduan April 17, 2014 Reply

      And you, sir, are starting to dodge and weave! I answered every concern in context. You just don't like my answers.

      My charge of dishonesty is using Bill's stated perspectives on circumcision to allege he is a "Judaizer". When you know good and well that he trusts nothing and nobody but Jesus to get him into heaven. When you link him to the abuse of Galatia you mislead other people. Somehow I suspect you are never going to let this go because 1) it is too juicy and 2) without it you actually have little to complain about. So I guess we will leave it right there. Sorry I wasted several hours of my precious time.

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