Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Friday, October 03, 2008

A Story for My Book

I grew up Catholic and was saved as a 20 year old agnostic. The men who led me to the Lord discouraged me from going to church because they said that all the churches nowadays were in "apostasy." I never did join a church until I was 25 when I met my husband. (I call that half a decade my "wandering in the wilderness" time.) During this time when I was unchurched, I came to really love J. Vernon McGee. Having no church to speak of for the first 5 years I was a Christian, the Bible Bus was so important to me! I read through (and still refer to) the 5 volume set of McGee's edited messages.

I have a funny story about my former pastor, Dr. Ernest Pickering... and my husband... and J. Vernon McGee. This happened about 17 years ago.

My husband loved Dr. Pickering, having been under his ministry for about 7 years (sometime before we met). John really respected him and put a lot of stock in his views on things.

Well, right after we got married, we moved to Minneapolis where Pickering was a pastor. This was the first I had known Pickering. My husband and I were still getting to know eachother, having gotten married sort of early in our relationship because he was moving to Minneapolis and wanted me to go with him.

As I saaid, I had not been a "churched" person for very long, even though I had been saved 5 years. I had not read a lot of the same kinds of books my husband had read. Well, Dr. Pickering had written a book called "Biblical Separation" that was about not compromising with organizations that embrace liberal theology which explains away the Bible. He also expanded in other publications about "New Evangelicals" which are such people who compromise.

One Sunday, John and I were sitting in church and Dr. Pickering mentions JV McGee in his sermon, favorably referring to a quote from McGee. This perked my ears because during weeks just before this, my husband had said that he thought JVM was a "New Evangelical" and this had gotten my dander up. (Remember, I loved McGee) I didn't even know what a New Evangleical was at the time, but I could tell from the way my husband said the word that it was not a compliment. John went on to explain what it was and I was sure he was wrong to call JVM that.

So after the service I walked right up to Dr. Pickering (which surprised my husband in and of itself because Pickering was thought by many to be austere and unapproachable). But I just walked right up to him, not knowing him well enough to be nervous, and said: "Dr. Pickering, is J. Vernon McGee a New Evangelical?" Dr. Pickering chuckled and asked me how I would ever come up with such an idea. I just turned and looked at John. :~) Pickering went on to explain that no, he wouldn't use that term to describe McGee at all. We talked for a while and enjoyed some conversation about what "New Evangelicals" really are.

It was fun! teehee :~) My husband and I still recall that day with such fond memories. It was one of those moments that you can both laugh about years later.

(You can read a review of TGATJ by Dr.Pickering in my sidebar)

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29 Comments:

  • The term 'New Evangelical' is misleading given that the early fundamentalists like Scofield did not advocate separation.

    It might be just as accurate to call New Evangelicals 'Old Fundamentalists.'

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at 10/04/2008 7:20 AM  

  • Very interesting, Matthew. I have never head anyone propose that use of such a term. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/04/2008 7:29 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    At the moment (as you might be aware) I am in a debate with Antonio on the UoG blog. Although he as tagged me with the somewhat distasteful "Traditionalist" tag, yet (significently) he has yielded to me the right to call myself an "Old Time Evangelical" - a title which I am most happy to bear.

    If we are going to be precise on what constitutes an "Evangelical" (as opposed) to what constitutes a "New Evangelical" - then where are we to put the FGer's who part company with the Evangelicals on the very important matter of repentance? All the major Evangelical creeds insist on it. The FG movement (as far as I can see) do not. Can the FG Movement rightly claim the title of Evangelical?

    If this developes into a discussion, then firstly, I would hope that it is as serene as the question. Secondly, I would hope that the deeper matter of repentance itself would not dominate the discussion, since this is the subjec tmatter on the UoG blog.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 10/04/2008 8:49 AM  

  • Hi Colin!
    I thought you might have something to say about the story. :~)

    As to that elusive word "repentance." I have some thoughts about it that I wrote last week in a comment elsewhere and I will post them here because I haven't read the whole post by Antonio this week, so I don't want to jump into the comments on his post. Then again, I don't want this post to be overtaken in discussion about this word. We will try to be moderate in the length of our discussion, you and I. :~)

    There are about 4 appraoches that I see to this word:

    1. Repentance means change of sinful disposition or action and is part of salvation, part of the gift, as well as faith. The verses which include the word "repentance" in reference to salvation are talking about eternal salvation. These verses are suggesting one would change their actions to receive eternal life. (LS view)

    2. Repentance means change of mind and is therefore inherently a part of salvation and the verses which include it in reference to salvation are talking about eternal salvation. These verses are not suggesting one has to change their actions to receive eternal life, only their mind.

    3. Repentance means change of sinful disposition or action and is not a part of salvation. The verses which include the word "repentance" about salvation are *NOT* talking about eternal salvation. These verses are *NOT* suggesting one has to change their actions to receive eternal life. These verses are talking about changing one's sinful actions in order to have salvation from a here-and-now punishment or consequence of sin. (Antonio's view)

    4. A combination of 2 and 3.

    Antonio is saying that repentance is not part of salvation, but if the "change of mind" definition was right, then that would be inherent in what he writes is his view of salvation, i.e. not believing in Christ... then believing in Christ... is inherently "changing the mind." Antonio just doesn't accept the definition of "change of mind."

    Disclaimer: this is just how I see the views. I could be wrong in the way I am representing the views and I am sorry for any mistakes.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/04/2008 9:09 AM  

  • "...then where are we to put the FGer's who part company with the Evangelicals on the very important matter of repentance? All the major Evangelical creeds insist on it. The FG movement (as far as I can see) do not. Can the FG Movement rightly claim the title of Evangelical?"

    Looker: Some people in the FG movement still require repentance in their view of the process of salvation. There is no governing body to define what the term Free Grace actually means so variations abound with the ranks of those who work under that title.

    By Blogger Looker4522, at 10/04/2008 9:38 AM  

  • Hey Looker,
    I have rules! ;~) There in my sidebar - take a look and see which ones thou hast broken. :~)

    Good to have you visit.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/04/2008 10:35 AM  

  • Hi Rose/Looker,

    Rose: If there is a distinct parting of the ways between the Evangelicals (i.e. those who insist that no repentance towards God and no faith in Jesus Christ = no salvation from sin and hell) and those who call themselves Free Gracers who deny it – then would you think that it is inappropriate for the FGers to insist that they are part of the Evangelical Movement? Part of the FG movement’s problem on this matter (as far as I can see) is that they are most certainly the new kid on the block.

    To go back to your original posting: I do not have Mr. Pickering’s book, but one problem that is generally picked up in discussions about the New Evangelicals is their desire to integrate with the world rather than separate from it. Part of the N/E strategy is to minimise the odiousness of sin and the need to repent from it. In other words, they would a lot happier in the FG camp than in the Evangelical camp.

    P/s Your Evangelical definition of repentance as These verses are suggesting one would change their actions to receive eternal life. (LS view) hinges on what you mean by the word “would.” I don’t think it can be defined simply in a two sentence paragraph.

    Looker: I accept that there is no definitive creed yet. It is part of the new kid on the block syndrome. I might therefore refer then to those within the FG movement who have no place of repentance in the receiving of salvation and would, therefore, allow that those who are sitting and who have ever sat in rank and sinful rebellion against the will of God might believe themselves to be present possessors of eternal life.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 10/04/2008 11:06 AM  

  • P/s Looker: You’re meant to say “Hi Rose” when you visit Rose’s blog or some other nice greeting. Not quite: “Great is Diana of the Ephesians” … :o)

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 10/04/2008 11:11 AM  

  • Colin,
    Any thoughts on the "change of mind" definition? See, I kinda thought that was the "Old Time Evangelical" view of "repentance."

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/04/2008 11:24 AM  

  • I enjoyed your story Rose. One of my favorite McGee-isms is when I heard him say (the way I remembered it anyway) that he believed in evolution because man was created perfect and has evolved into ape-like beings with like behavior. LOL

    I have been reading Dave Tomlinson's "Post Evangelical" book and have been enjoying it because it helps me see a different way of looking at many of my fundamentalist thinkings.. like inerrancy.

    By Blogger Kansas Bob, at 10/04/2008 11:32 AM  

  • Thanks for reading Bob. I had not heard of the book you were reading but if I have some time I will click on the link and see what it is.

    Yep, that is JVM for ya. He said some really funny things!

    I loved it when he would say "Friend, may I say very kindly to you..." and then he would say something very dogmatic. Dogmatism and kindness mix very well. He was great at that.

    Dr. Pickering was famous for holding up his Bible during a sermon and asking, "You're not afraid of the Bible are ya?" with a great southern accent. I think he was from Alabama.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/04/2008 11:47 AM  

  • Rose,

    I would define repentance as expressing sorrow and hatred for sin and expressing the desire/determination to turn away from it. Such repentance (as opposed to mere remorse) flows from faith in Jesus Christ and accompanies it. I have used the term before – like Siamese twins: Joined yet separate. As the repentant one grows in Christ, he is given grace to follow through his desires to forsake the wicked things of which he was guilty. Where there is no desire to actually forsake the wickedness, then there is rebellion, because that is what sin is: Rebellion against the King’s law. While there is mercy for those rebels who come out with their hands up and quit fighting, I fail to see one Scripture in the Bible for any who want to live on in their rebellion.

    When Evangelicals use Scripture like Proverbs 28:13 that those who forsake their sin find mercy or Isaiah 55:7 that tells us that the wicked [must] forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. we are not telling the drunkard to go away and quit booze and then come back to learn the way of salvation. We tell him that he cannot quit the drunkenness etc., in his own strength. He needs to be saved and get the new heart – but there is no new heart for those who have no desire to be saved from the power of sin.

    Rose, you know me. Always willing to “eat crow” ... but only if I have to :o)

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 10/04/2008 12:03 PM  

  • Hi Rose!

    I enjoyed your post. I've started collecting McGee's commentaries - I have volumes 4+5 - plus the works of Ryrie, mainly through the influence of a friend of mine. They were/are very good writers. I used to hear JVM on the radio occasionally. He was a witty man, and he very much loved his Savior. His commentaries read just like he used to talk on the radio. I can still hear his voice as I read the commentary.

    Blessings!
    Mark

    By Blogger mark pierson, at 10/04/2008 8:41 PM  

  • I would not have given JVMcGee the name "New Evangelical."

    I'd give him the name, "My Favorite Preacher of All Time."

    I still listen to that strange Southern drawl every weekday morning.

    Though gone, he is as here as ever.

    By Blogger Joe, at 10/04/2008 10:25 PM  

  • Hello Rose!

    Looker: I am sorry that I just burst right in without a proper salutation and I gladly accept the reminder. I am a bit of a social clod in person as well so I wouldn't be surprised if I violate this again in the future.

    I am certainly not up on what properly defines any of the groups/movements discussed here. However, regarding this quote I will respond.
    "Part of the N/E strategy is to minimise the odiousness of sin and the need to repent from it. In other words, they would a lot happier in the FG camp than in the Evangelical camp."

    Looker: I don't really think the odiousness of sin is any less visible in the no-repentance-needed-for-salvation (nrnfs)crowd. As I see it, the only difference is the remedy. Sin remains deadly whether in the life a believer or an unbeliever. The temporal repercussions of sin and the human subjective experience resulting from sin may be worse for a believer than an unbeliever.

    I am surely not an expert on the wealth of literature written by the nrnfs free grace crowd. However, it may truly be that their published works do focus more on the correcting what they see as the most prevalent mistakes regarding salvation rather than the rebuking of sin in the life of believers. I wouldn't take this as a softening toward sin, but simply a matter of focusing attention where it seems to be needed. I suspect that in churches where the pastors are "preaching to the choir", you might find more attention given to sin in the lives of people. Just my opinion. I sure can't cite any sources to prove this.

    By Blogger Looker4522, at 10/05/2008 12:09 AM  

  • What I find interesting is that Colin puts both Arminians (who reject eternal security) and Calvinists (who hold to eternal security) in his 'Old Time Evangelical' category, while shutting out FGers.

    It rather seems to me that he thinks repentance as being more fundamental than the doctrine of eternal security (which I see as being at the heart of the Gospel).

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at 10/05/2008 10:54 AM  

  • Hi Rose/Looker:

    Looker: I do not doubt that the FG community express horror at sin and warn against it etc., As you say, there seems to be areal difference in the remedy for sin and that especially in the way of salvation.

    From what I can gather from comments made on FG blogs, the idea that unsaved sinners must repent from their sins before they can be forgiven seems to be a definite "no-no." On the UoG blog, there is a pretty pugnacious rerun of an article branding those of us who believe that they are required to repent as "Traditionists" - i.e. as if we were arguing from man made traditions rather than the word of God.

    That God is willing to forgive rebels is the very core of the gospel. That he will forgive rebels who have expressed no intention to give up their rebellion is another matter. I say that he won't and I have yet to find Scripture that says that He will.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 10/05/2008 11:04 AM  

  • Hi Matthew,

    I totally reject the Arminian view that those who have once truly repented and beleived the gospel can be lost. But I grant that Arminians hold that men should repent and believe the gospel. Any Arminian who repents and believes the gospel is saved eternally, even if he robs himself of all the joy attached to this.

    OTOH: The FGer who denies repentance and allows rebels who still insist on flying their rebel flag in the face of a Holy God and claim salvation seems (in my book/Book) to be cutting into the very heart of the gospel. What is the point in "assuring" someone that their "salvation" is eternal if they are but storing up for themselves wrath aginst the day of wrath because they remain impenitent, as Romans 2:5 warns?

    As seen on th UoG site, it is our mutual friend Antonio who insists that all we Repenters have on this matter is bare Tradition. When I call myself an "Old Time Evangelical" the said gentleman does not dispute it, but proceeds to further attack my position. Therefore, he effectively considers himself (and by implication all those who share his views) outside the Evangelical fold. To be honest, I did not expect him to do this, but it's there for all to see.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 10/05/2008 11:14 AM  

  • Thank you for your explanation, Colin. :~)

    Mar,
    Thanks for visiting! I am glad youa re enjoying JVM and Ryrie - two of my favorites. I am really glad you enjoyed my post. There is more to come of this type of post - I am re-thinking how I do this whole blogging thing, thanks to the compassionate advice of our beloved Joe.

    Speaking of which...

    Joe,
    Wow! Your very favorite of all time? I think I could probably say the same. Ya know, John likes him too. He was young and impetuous then, heehee. :~) So was I!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/05/2008 11:18 PM  

  • Looker,
    Hello! I hope you know that those rules are kind of tongue-in-cheek. :~) I do enjoy nice-ness but I am not always such a stickler for the greetings. ;~) I just decided to call you out on it this time. :~) Just for fun...

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/05/2008 11:19 PM  

  • In reading the conversations you are having Goodnight, I must say I find it interesting how "the heart of the gospel" is so different to you than it is to Matthew. To you it is forgiving rebels (provided they have expressed an intention to give up their rebellion) while Matthew sees the confidence that it is settled forever (my words) as being at the heart. Interesting.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/05/2008 11:26 PM  

  • I want to be an "Old Time Evangelical." I like that label. If I just stipulate to the "change of mind" view pf repentance and then allow that it is included inherently as a part of salvation, can I use that label? I am rather thinking I may want to divorce myself from the "fundamentalist" label after what I have been learning about it and seeing of it lately. I thought the hollywood "charicature" was just that - a "charicature" - but I am finding out that it is based on real life.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/05/2008 11:30 PM  

  • Then again, I think I will keep that label 'fundamentalist.' Just because some are living up to the charicature doesn't mean the label is useless.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/05/2008 11:47 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    I suppose that if you can find "an Old Time Evangelical" who just held that repentance is a change of mind about Christ, but also held that the sinner could willingly hold on to his sins and be saved, then you have as much right to the title as anyone.

    The difficulty with this, of course, is that most of the Old Timers all held to established church creeds and they (following Scripture)were prety clear about it.

    The title "Old Time" too is a bit fuzzy. I suggest something pre 1980:o)

    Labels are an necessary evil.

    We can only rest on what is settled, if it is settled to rest on in the first place. (Profound) :0)

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 10/06/2008 1:55 AM  

  • Rose, the change of mind view was held by JN Darby of the Plymouth Brethren.

    He lived from 1800-1882, which I suppose is a long time ago.

    The Plymouth Brethren have been accused of denying the need for repentance.

    These days, most Open Brethren seem to see repentance as more than a change of mind and hold it to be vital to receiving eternal life.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at 10/06/2008 12:21 PM  

  • Colin, I would actually include repentance as part of the Gospel, but I would deny that it is a condition of receiving eternal life.

    Believers who do not repent are missing the fulness of God's salvation and they will face sore punishment in due time.

    As for Arminians, I deny that they believe the Gospel.

    Arminians deny the fundamental grace of God towards sinners. They make eternal life conditional upon works. If you were consistent in your position, you would see them the same way.

    Every BLessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at 10/06/2008 12:24 PM  

  • First, as a greaduate of Central Baptist Seminary, I was back at a conference to speak and had lunch one Sunday with Dr. Pickering, his wife and son. It was good and informative.
    Second, I was saved while in the Navy. After discharge I ended up attending the church of the Open Door for a period when McGee was there. Several years later, after Central, I was Pastoring in Washinton. In 1976 I was at a confernce with McGee at Cannon Beach, Oregon. We spent two hours together every morning having coffee and discussing. McGee was a close friend of Charles E. Fuller (namesake for the Seminary). They had lunch together about once a week for a period of time. McGee lived in Pasadena. When Fuller Seminary was founded McGee said he started to hear of some of their problems and wrote several letters to some faculty for answers. He could not get straight answers. He would discuss this with Charles Fuller. Finally Fuller said to him; "Vernon, if we are to remain friends do not bring this up to me anymore." McGee was against the New Evangelical movement as it emerged in the 1950s and 60s. However, he did not like some of the things about the hard Fundamentalists.

    The great conviction I gained from Vernon Mcgee was to preach through the Bible and love God and People. He has had a big impact on my life.

    Bob T.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/06/2008 10:50 PM  

  • Matthew,
    Darby isn't so modern. Thank you. ;~)

    Bob,
    Are you the Bob T. that posted a comment on this blog about 6 weeks ago?
    Thank you for your comment! McGee also had a big impact on my life as well. His "through the Bible" appraoch is simply invaluable. I also imagine that he was very kind. You can hear it in his voice and sense it in reading him. I never met him, but almost. I was visting my sister in Claremont CA and she drove me to Pasadena to see his ministry. I went in and they gave me a tour, but he had just left the building. It was still really neat though.

    Please tell if you commented on this blog a few weeks back. That will help me put your comments in context with who you are. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/07/2008 10:08 AM  

  • Hi Rose/Matthew:

    I don't think that Darby is/was the centre of the Evangelical world of his day. Besides, did he ever positively argue that sinners could be saved while they held on to their sins? I know very little about him.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 10/07/2008 4:52 PM  

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