that he is dead and I have started this
blog. I have criticized not the man but his theology
and his ministry methodology.
Paul Williams is a grim reminder that things were not as they seemed to be at Bellevue. The hand of God was frustrating the seemingly untarnished 17+ years legacy at Bellevue Baptist. This blog is a study from an outsider of the theological problems that Steve Gaines inherited.
Where did this belief that God does not predestine anyone to hell come from? In the fifth century a man named Pelagius held that a man by the natural power of free will, without the use of God's enablement, could lead a good life. For him Adam's sin was merely bad example. Augustine refuted this and the Catholic Church convened a council, Orange II, 529 AD. Pelagianism was ruled a heresy and the Church firmed up a position on the transmission of original sin.
One of the practical aspects of this was infant baptism, which was a practice of the early church fathers. The Catechism of the Catholic church states: "Because of this (death of the soul) certainty of faith, the Church baptizes for the remission of sins even tiny infants who have not committed personal sin." CCC 403 Original sin is a "certainty of faith" "closely connected with that of redemption by Christ." 407
Pelagius believed that the problem with sin was surmountable. In the sixteenth century the Protestant Reformers were perceived by the Catholic Church as denying original sin, though Luther affirmed it. They were believing that the reformation was heading toward a Pelagian view and thus the Council of Trent was formed to combat that in 1546 AD. 406 The Church's teaching on the transmission of original sin was articulated more precisely in the fifth century, especially under the impulse of St. Augustine's reflections against Pelagianism, and in the sixteenth century, in opposition to the Protestant Reformation. Pelagius held that man could, by the natural power of free will and without the necessary help of God's grace, lead a morally good life; he thus reduced the influence of Adam's fault to bad example. The first Protestant reformers, on the contrary, taught that original sin has radically perverted man and destroyed his freedom; they identified the sin inherited by each man with the tendency to evil (concupiscentia), which would be insurmountable. The Church pronounced on the meaning of the data of Revelation on original sin especially at the second Council of Orange (529)296 and at the Council of Trent (1546).297
The Catholics correctly identified the Pelagian views as surmountable sin not affecting human choice and semi-Pelagian view of sin as insurmountable destroying free choice. All this in spite of the fact that they were practicing a semi-Pelagian gospel themselves. Now doesn't this happen all the time. We see the wrong in others while not seeing it in ourselves.
My guess is that the Catholics saw this as a defection from infant baptism. Their belief in OS affirmed the need to care for the less capable among themselves, particularly infants. This belief in baptismal regeneration was erroneous. But what seems to be important to me is a warning to not abandon the less capable among us. The argument over freedom of choice leads to abandonment of those not capable of a moral choice. Though themselves practicing baptismal regeneration they saw the problems in decisional regeneration!
They also saw the problem with Pelagian corruption of God's character. 1037 God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want "any to perish, but all to come to repentance": Father, accept this offering from your whole family. Grant us your peace in this life, save us from final damnation, and count us among those you have chosen.
Pelagianism leads to attempts to adjust the sovereignty and character of God to fit in the scheme of human choice. The Catholics affirm emphatically, God destines no one to hell! They also affirm that God does not send someone to hell for rejecting his own Son's offer of salvation! People clearly go to hell for willfully turning away from God (a mortal sin) persistently to the end. Who go to hell? Those who inherit Adam's sin! Who go to heaven according to the Catholic lip service to doctrine? Those He has chosen! God destines no one to hell and all who go to heaven are destined by his choice to go to heaven! What a definite clear presentation of grace!
The Catholics saw the error in Adrian Rogers' theology hundreds of years ago! They failed to see the truth in the Protestant Reformers in the sixteenth century.
Now that you have been born and baptized by the Holy Spirit and by a supernatural work you are a part of the body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:13) you now must have remission of sin! Maybe you are surprised by that. You say: "well, if I am born-again then I am sinless."
You can't confuse regeneration, new birth, with glorification. Glorification takes place after you leave this world. What the Holy Spirit starts, regeneration and sanctification, Christ completes when you leave this earth. You were reborn in a moment and the twinkling of an eye and your final change shall come in a moment and the twinkling of an eye.
Your rebirth was just the start. You are a part of the invisible spiritual body of Christ and now you need to belong to the physical body on earth. All this is following Christ's teachings. To enter the earthly body it is necessary to confess your need of Christ and be baptized in water.
You are saved and you have a ticket to heaven. But you need to belong to the earthly body. The earthly body has a common foundation, it is a community of sinners who are walking time bombs ready to explode with transgressions! I'll bet that is the first time you have read that definition of the church. If you have been in church long enough you will know how true that is. If you join this body thinking too highly of yourself you will be the fault in the next explosion. Quite often thinking too highly of yourself stems from a misunderstanding of who you were when you were born again. Greatness in the church goes to him who thinks the lowest of himself. Your first impression of yourself when you were born again is the impression that will last.
More than lightly if you got saved in America you got bad teaching from the beginning. You cannot rise above your teacher! Your mentor's sky is your sky. The Holy Spirit did a good work as usual! The church has failed you. WHAT! Charles, are you nuts!
The church has abandoned the old fashion belief in original sin and there goes two hundred years down the toilet. I have got to go to work!
What a way to end a post!