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Credit where credit is due.

Bruxy Cavey did a fantastic job responding to public criticism in the lead up to his sermon this past Sunday at The Meeting House. You can see it here starting at the 6:50 mark and continuing for about 6 minutes.

By way of context; I recently wrote a blog addressing some points of difference that I have with the modern day Anabaptist movement. I referenced Cavey as it’s best known popular spokesperson and also Greg Boyd, the best known spokesperson in the academic realm. I attempted to write in a kind and fraternal fashion and to express my concerns about their tendency to separate the authority of Christ from the authority of Holy Scripture and also about their narrow and partial treatment of the atonement due seemingly to an a priori commitment to the doctrine of pacifism.

Of course I cannot and will not speak on behalf of all of Bruxy’s critics.

I was rather late to the conversation and cannot claim to be familiar with everything that has been written over the last several years. Some of what I’ve read seems fair and reasonable and some of it seems mean spirited and borderline apoplectic. Such is the magical world of the internet. The fact that some critics have been immoderate in their commentary in no way invalidates the legitimacy of the process itself.

Protestantism is a team sport.

A little bit of awkwardness in our public dialogue is the price we have to pay for abandoning the Pope.

There is no official Magisterium in Protestantism; therefore the onus is on the college of the clergy to hold each other accountable for our public discourse and teaching.

Get over it.

The Apostle Paul rebuked the Apostle Peter in Antioch for unintentionally obscuring the message of salvation by grace and Peter didn’t seem to mind at all. In fact, at the famous Jerusalem Council when the church gathered together to discuss the issues in play Peter spoke in favour of Paul’s position. He had obviously received the correction and re-evaluated his own position.

Thanks be to God!

That is the best-case scenario in these sorts of situations.

Of course, criticism is not always so well received. Some people become defensive, some cry foul and some double down. Bruxy Cavey however, did it exactly right. In the clip linked above he encourages his church to use this criticism to fuel a further examination of their own tradition so as to sink their roots deeper into the timeless truths of the Gospel.

Good on him!

Credit where credit is due.

To be clear, I don’t agree with everything Bruxy says in his characterization of the present debate; for example I don’t think this has anything to do with Calvinism. I grew up in the AGC[1] – which is far from Calvinistic – and I have been taught Penal Substitutionary Atonement since my childhood. I didn’t call myself a Calvinist until 2010 – but I’ve believed that Jesus died on the cross as the payment for my sin since 1980 when I prayed to receive Christ as my Lord and Saviour. This is not about Calvinism – this is about historic Christianity; but that objection aside, I have a great deal of respect for how Bruxy handled this potentially awkward situation.

Now the ball is in our court.

If the conversation is to be continued we need to match Bruxy tone for tone.

By all means, let us continue the conversation. The stakes are too high not to. Let us as pastors admit that we can easily become the Popes of our own congregations. We need fraternal accountability. My people generally believe what I tell them. Just like Bruxy’s people generally believe what he tells them. When Bruxy says that the word “Atonement” means “at-one-ment” I don’t expect that anyone in his church feels qualified to challenge him on that and that’s ok – that’s what brother pastors are for. So let’s keep doing our job but let’s learn a little something from Bruxy Cavey. He has modelled the right attitude and the right tone. He has reminded us that the goal is not to one up each other. The goal is not to embarrass each other. The goal is to sharpen each other and to build each other up in our most holy faith.

Credit where credit is due.

Christianity is about right belief – the Bible says: “everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:43 ESV) – but it is also about right behavior. It matters that we look and sound and act like Jesus Christ. So let’s figure out how to do both. Let’s get it right and let’s do it nice – let’s speak the truth in love. May that be the outcome of this awkward but necessary conversation.

For the glory of God and the good of this country – Lord make it so in our day!

 

SDG,

Pastor Paul Carter

To listen to Pastor Paul’s Into The Word devotional podcast on the TGC Canada website see here. You can also find it on iTunes.

 


[1] Associated Gospel Churches

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