Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Pyro is back

Update: This post has been re-edited for context and clarity. Changes are noted in red. Additions are noted in green.

If you thought the Pyro was burned out, Phillip Johnson has returned with a post that can only be described as "extra crispy."

This was the original recipe, baby.

PJ responds to ECM, propositional truths, and the difference between strong language and potshots.

I must say, I prefer this PJ to the one slapping backs with his buddies avoiding the limelight. He is much more dialed in when he seems frustrated. The forcefulness of his language strikes me as prophetic and true -- what a wonderful defense of propositional truths, delivered in context and with brevity. I think it's a little ironic that his critics are more likely to note his charity when he's firing back at them than when he's trying to be playful.

This comes at a good time for me as I delve into other areas of theology that, to paraphrase my concerned friend Dan, don't march under the banner of the traditional Reformation. I have offered a favorable mention of an Open Theist's explanation of evil and free will.

I have not become an Open Theist; I am just exploring to decide for myself if OT writers have moved a traditional Arminian position back towards the center. I am drawn to Greg Boyd, specifically, because the language he uses suggests an eschatological position first authored by George Eldon Ladd, who has greatly influenced me. I do this conciously aware of OT's awkard bearing on Evangelical thought, and subsequent claims of heresy by notable Evangelical thinkers such as D.A. Carson. However, I doubt the Berean's would have decried OT based on Carson's (or anyone else's) rants, so I'm going to follow the Biblical example here.

The one thing I find comforting about Greg Boyd's Open Theism is he still clings to the main and plain, and is no liberal looking for a way to secularize the Bible. He has debated an agnostic and defends the true and essential Gospel. To the best of my ability to determine some things, Boyd's OT is controversial and a challenge to traditional thought, but it falls short of the claims of heresy because I've yet to see where he's preaching a different Gospel. To quote PJ's reference to 2 John, I would not at all have a problem with receiving him in my house and greeting him.

I think it's important to know where the dividing line is, and you cannot know that without accepting the propositional truths the Bible offers. That dividing line between acceptable disagreement and debate and heresy sometimes seems like it moves on us, too. John Piper found that out after some harsh words he used to attack Greg Boyd and Open Theism. He did not change his mind on OT, but he regretted the way he delivered them and apologized to Boyd and his own congregation. I think Piper discovered a new appreciation for the relationship between Peter and Paul. Or Paul and anyone. It is a very difficult place to be in such a high position of authority, and to yet have peers in your own denomination teaching something adversarial to your own message.

The dividing line is always rooted in the Gospel and the person of Jesus. Deny any divine elements of that and you are off the Evangelical reservation. Lessen any divine element of the Gospel or the person of Jesus, and you are still off the reservation. That's how I've always put this together and how I can find much to agree on with two diverse people such as Phillip Johnson and Greg Boyd.

Furthermore, I do not believe all our disagreements have to be settled to be the unified Church or to offer a unified front to the world. We have already agreed on the principles of Evangelicalism, unified by the testimony of Jesus and his disciples, determined to carry on the ministry of Jesus. I believe there is room for strong words between us when we understand what we are really about, and we are, after all, responsible to our own individual consciences.

So hats off to PJ for an outstanding post.

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