Gregory of Nazianzus: Prophet of Fundamentalism?

We have opened to all not the gates of righteousness, but, doors of railing and partisan arrogance; and the first place among us is given, not to one who in the fear of God refrains from even an idle word, but to him who can revile his neighbor most fluently, whether explicitly, or by covert allusion; who rolls beneath his tongue mischief and iniquity, or to speak more accurately, the poison of asps.

We observe each other’s sins, not to bewail them, but to make them subjects of reproach, not to heal them, but to aggravate them, and excuse our own evil deeds by the wounds of our neighbors.  Bad and good men are distinguished not according to personal character, but by their disagreement or friendship with ourselves.  We praise one day what we revile the next, denunciation at the hands of others is a passport to our admiration; so magnanimous are we in our viciousness, that everything is frankly forgiven to impiety.

Gregory of Nazianzus, In Defence of His Flight To Pontus 79-80

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20/20 Independent Baptist Church Abuse Episode Winners and Losers

Loser: Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches. They can be thankful that our attention span is short. I am not sure by how much, but Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame seems to have been shortened a bit. Still, as long as they all call themselves the same thing they all face the same ridicule.

Winner: The Church of Jesus Christ. “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’

Loser: Concord Police Department. Yeah, I just hope a big part of you “ongoing investigation” is internal. Tina Anderson was wronged on multiple levels. She was not protected by those who should have protected her; before or after the crime.

Winner: Brian Fuller. It is rare in cases like this that the more someone says the better they come off, but pastor Fuller seems to be an exception. He has been put in an unenviable position and responded admirably.

Loser: Fundy watch-bloggers like Bob Bixby. Unhelpful. Embarrassing. Come off sounding like snubbed four year olds. There should be no joy in rubbing people’s faces in this tragedy.

Winner: Bloggers. I do not have data from any other blogs, but I usually receive 10-20 hits per day on my blog. My 20/20 post got three days of 300+ views, 3 days of around 200 views, and three days of around 100 views. Sex sells.

Which, I suppose, just makes us all losers.

More on Manhattan: Who will be Paul to Packer, Duncan, and Mohler?

Several days ago I posted a quote from John Calvin that I applied to the Manhattan Declaration (“And at this day I wish there were more judgment in some good men, who, by seeking to be extremely kind to wicked men, bring great damage to the whole church.”)  This quote spurred me on in a particular direction of thought that was brewing in my mind.

Galatians 2:11-14 contains Paul’s brief mention of his gospel-confrontation with Peter.  Several things jump out at me.  First of all, Paul confronted Peter for eating with false teachers.  That’s right: eating.  having a meal.  For this act, it was worth the risk of rupturing apostolic fellowship.  One thing I notice about this is that Paul lived what he taught.  In 1 Cor. 5:11 Paul commanded that believers were not even to eat with those who perverted the gospel.  In Galatians 2:11-14 we see how Paul lived what he taught, and how he responded to those who disobeyed the apostolic commands.  Even when they were themselves other apostles.  So I have to wonder, if it is wrong to even eat with gospel-perverters, is it okay to enter into dialog and release joint statements of unity?  It seems that is doing overtly what table-fellowship merely implies.  You write books, lead schools, preach sermons about the gospel:  but will you stand for it?

Secondly, it was public.  Yes Paul confronted Peter “to his face”  but it was also “before them all.”  What Peter did publicly, Paul rebuked publicly.  Paul saw no reason to be coy or demure about the nature of Peter’s error and blasted it with the same boldness that Peter committed it with.  The M.D. was proclaimed with all the fanfare and ribbons that such a group of “Christian” leaders could muster.  If they are in error, Packer, Duncan, and Mohler should be denounced with just as much public clarity.

Thirdly, and here is where many have failed in my estimation, Paul clearly denunciated Peter’s sin as sin.  Peter was “condemned” because he was acting in “hypocrisy.”  Paul did not say, “Well it is just not right for me”, “I just don’t think it is best”, “It just is not very prudent at this time”.   No,  Paul “condemned” Peter.  Paul did bashfully say, “It is wrong for me” he clearly stated, “It is wrong for anyone!”  Peter was “to be blamed.”

So as much as I have appreciated the clarity and conviction of statements by MacArthur, Sproul, and some others; I wonder who is going to step up and actually be a Paul?   Will it be MacArthur? Sproul?  Piper?  Ferguson?  Dever? Or (gulp…) Driscoll?  (And it has to be someone like one of these men: someone with recognizable cache within the community of faith.)  Who is going to say “You were wrong and you need to repent?”  Who is going to do so publicly with conviction and authority?  If no one does so, why not just stop the charade of all the Gospel Coalitions, Together for the Gospels, etc.?  Because clearly, if one of these men cannot take the stand for the gospel that Paul did, they are united around something else.