Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Jack Graham on "The Truth about Grace," Pt. 2

More from Jack Graham:
(I finally found an internet connection!!)

"So I believe and reject these aberrant theologies because of the character of God and because of the cross of Christ that Jesus died for all men and he will therefore bring unto himself all who will be saved. He said, if I will be lifted up I will draw all men unto myself. Now when he draws all men some will come in faith and some will come in unbelief. Remember when Jesus was facing the cross and he prayed over the city of Jerusalem and as he looked over the city and the lostness of people there, he wept over with copious tears, sobs and heaves are described in the Scripture when it says that Jesus wept over that city. And he cried out, 'O jerusalem jerusalem, how I would have gathered you to myself as a hen gathers her chicks. But you would not.' Not you 'could not' but you 'would not.'"

My comments:
John 6:44, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day." Not "will come" but "can come." Of course it is also true that they will not come, but this verse (and others like it, notably Romans 8:7-8).


"Unbelievers can believe or they can not believe. They can receive the gospel and be saved or they can reject the gospel and be condemned."

"Somebody says but wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute, doesn't God have to give us even the faith to believe? You will hear this often. Because we are so dead and depraved in sin God has to give us even the faith to believe. He has to regenerate us before we can even believe in Him. Now thats a little backwards, isn't it?... But that is the way this logic--or illogic--goes. God has to regenerate you before you can ever say, I receive Christ. No the Bible says believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. You say but doesn't God have to give us faith to be saved. Didn't you say salvation is of the Lord? Absolutely. Even our faith comes from God. And guess what? Romans 12:3 says that God has given to every man, to all men a measure of faith. Every person has been given by God this faculty this opportunity to believe."

My comments:
Really? Rom. 12:3 says, "For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith." Try to put Graham's understanding into the actual words of this verse: "I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has [start Graham's interpretation} given to every man, to all men a measure of faith. Every person has been given by God this faculty this opportunity to believe."


If Graham's understanding of this verse is correct, here is Paul's argument: Since God has given every person the the faculty to believe, since He has given to everyone a measure of faith, do not think more highly of yourself than you ought. In other words, Christians (to whom Paul is writing in this letter of Romans) are to think soberly of themselves because God has given every person the faculty to believe. Somehow, the logic of this escapes me.


"In 19th century England, 18th century England because this kind of theology was spread through the congregation[s] there, there was no mission programs there was no evangelism going on."

"While there are rare exceptions--and I acknowledge exceptions to what I am about to say--in great part this kind of hyper theology of Calvinism is the death sentence to missions and evangelism."

My comments:
Well, I for one would like to know of one exception. I cannot think of a single person in history who has believed what Jack Graham has described who did not also completely reject evangelism and missions. But, then again, I cannot think of anyone in history who actually believed what Jack Graham has described. Just who does he think is an exception? Unless of course, as seems obvious, he is simply misrepresenting Calvinism by constructing a straw man and then destroying it.

This kind of display of theological ignorance is very sad. Jack Graham titled his sermon, "The Truth about Grace." At best, this is false advertising.

36 comments:

Tim said...

Tom, I want to let you know that I appreciate your blogs, they are a great encouragement to me during the day when I get a chance to read during my lunch break.

Also, I would like to point out, as you probably noticed, that Graham's use of Matthew 23:37 is misquoted, as tends to be the case with almost all anti-Calvinits I've encountered. The verse reads, "'O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!" As James White has pointed out in his book The Potter's Freedom, somehow "your children" gets left out and pronomial confusion ensues.

Tony K. said...

It may be a long shot but do you think he would be willing to preach this same sermon when he comes to Southern Seminary this Oct. 20th?

I doubt it but it would give us something to talk about in our coffee shop. Thanks for the post Tom.

Brian Hamrick said...

Something was missing with my Cheerios this morning. It was Tom's blog! But glad to make it bedtime reading tonight.

Thanks Tom for speaking the truth in love.

GeneMBridges said...

>>>>It may be a long shot but do you think he would be willing to preach this same sermon when he comes to Southern Seminary this Oct. 20th?

Ya think?! Maybe y'all should write letters and make the request.

I would drive all the way from NC and pay good money for a front row seat to see such a thing and watch the reaction!

GeneMBridges said...

How many times can these folks repeat the same arguments? You'd think they would learn by now.

1. Matt. 23:37 has a sum total of zero to do with the topic.

2. Romans 12:3.
a. He alludes to what we call saving faith in that paragraph, and quotes a prooftext, with no exegetical argument that "faith" refers here to his topic. If all references to faith" mean saving faith, then, if Graham is correct, then, as I've already said, 2 Thess 3:2 contradicts him, so he has to abandon the doctrine of inerrancy to make the assertion, for the text reads that not all men have faith. He provides no exegesis, so neither do I.

b. As you rightly pointed out, Tom, the logic escapes us anyway.

3. He says, "Now thats a little backwards, isn't it?... But that is the way this logic--or illogic--goes. God has to regenerate you before you can ever say, I receive Christ."

Remember, he's already talked about "certain seminaries" teaching "aberrant" doctrine. Hmm, okay, will somebody please call or write Dr. Graham and inform him that the BFM 2000, for which he presumably voted to approve, directly contradicts him in Article 4. I'm amazed at the number of Southern Baptists who tell me that they believe in the new BFM while discussing this issue, don't realize that they are the ones teaching contrary to our confessional document w/regards the order between regeneration and repentance/faith.

D.R. said...

Or maybe he will give it at LaGrange Baptist Church where he is speaking that night, which just happens to be around the corner from DeHaven Baptist Church where Tom Nettles and Greg Wills teach SS.

Maybe seminary students at Southern should protest his appearance in chapel by a boycott or organize a silent protest outside the chapel. I live in Louisville, and though I'm not a student at the Seminary, I would take off work to be there!

Aaron L. Turner said...

Tom,

Thanks again brother, for dealing with the likes of Jack Graham, and calling him to account for his lack of exegetical accuracy, and opining instead of exposing the meaning of the text.

I look forward every day to new installments of your blog!

GeneMBridges said...

>>>>>Maybe seminary students at Southern should protest his appearance in chapel by a boycott or organize a silent protest outside the chapel.

The problem with that, d.r., is that this is precisely the kind of behavior of the seminary students at SEBTS and SBTS when the other party was in charge. It's also a worship service, and it would be dishonoring to the scheduled worship of the people. That said, however, those attending said chapel and wishing to make their presence known could stage a small "protest" of sorts by wearing attire like this:

http://www.apuritansmind.com/ReformedTShirts.htm

D.R. said...

Gene,

you do know that was a tongue-in-cheek comment, right? I said that precisely because of the history of Southern. The reformation T-shirt idea is a good one though.

Bill Moore said...

d.r. wrote:
"Or maybe he will give it at LaGrange Baptist Church where he is speaking that night, which just happens to be around the corner from DeHaven Baptist Church where Tom Nettles and Greg Wills teach SS."

Just a point of clarification. LaGrange BC is the new church for most of the congregation that was DeHaven BC. Tony Rose, pastor of the former DeHaven is pastor of LaGrange. I preached in an ordination service there last June and Tony presided and Dr. Nettles brought the educational charge to the candidate, a PhD grad of SBTS.

A remnant of the former DeHaven now comprises DeHaven BC in the old building, but I don't think Drs. Nettles and Wills are a part of that, are they?

Blessings,
Bill

YnottonY said...
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YnottonY said...

Tim Said:
Also, I would like to point out, as you probably noticed, that Graham's use of Matthew 23:37 is misquoted, as tends to be the case with almost all anti-Calvinits I've encountered. The verse reads, "'O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!" As James White has pointed out in his book The Potter's Freedom, somehow "your children" gets left out and pronomial confusion ensues.

Gene said:
1. Matt. 23:37 has a sum total of zero to do with the topic.

My comment:

I also noticed Jack Graham’s incorrect quotation, and I knew that those who read James White would point it out. However, James White doesn’t go on to deal with the theology of the text. He just makes an exegetical observation about the difference between “Jerusalem” (the leaders) and “your children” and moves on. Does James White mean to say that Jesus didn’t want to gather the leaders but only the children? Would he then go on to argue that Jesus meant the elect from among the children? If so, that would be eisogesis and a system driven interpretation. I have yet to hear White adequately explain this text. Since he is prone to decretalize controversial passages, I would guess that he would seek to interpret this one through a decretal grid as well. It’s his custom as a High Calvinist.

Matthew 23:37 is relavent to the debate between Calvinists and non-Calvinists, contrary to what Gene says. The non-Calvinists want to point out an inefficacious will in God that desires all men to be saved. They wrongly think that this argues against the Calvinistic teaching regarding God's efficacious decree. Some High and Hyper-Calvinists so react to this that they want to dismiss the implications of the passage. What do they do? Some have attempted to explain it as referring to Jesus’ human will and not his divine will. Beza and Turretin are of this sort. This is how some High Calvinists have sought to interpret the passage as not threatening God’s sovereign will. This ends up making a radical dichotomy between Christ’s natures, and minimizes the truth that the theanthropic person is the very revelation of God.

John Murray, Ned Stonehouse (the passage is treated about 1/3 down the Free Offer page) and others have properly explained this passage in terms of God’s revealed or preceptive will. John Frame interprets it the same way, i.e. in terms of God's revealed will. I recommend both of these sources to you for consideration. Contrary to the bogus arguments of Graham and the other free will theologians, this passage is perfectly compatible with historic Calvinism. It is relevant to the debate in so far as it challenges the Calvinist to explain an inefficacious will in God, and it challenges the Arminian to explain how such a will can be reconciled with the will described in Romans 9:19. The Apostle Paul teaches both the secret/decretive will of God and the revealed/preceptive will of God. R. L. Dabney has done the best job in rationally describing the compatibility of both of these truths of scripture. Calvin also has some worthwile comments concerning emphasis on judgment in the passage.

David B. Hewitt said...

WOW, Tony, that was an excellent dealing with those passages and a good explanation. Grudem talks about 1 Timothy 2:4 in a similar sense, saying that no matter if you are Calvinist or Arminian, you have to admit that God values something to which he has given greater importance that the salavation of all men. If you are the Arminian, you say He values man's free will over it. If you are the Calvinist, then you say it is His own glory.

Your blog and explanations were helpful, thank you.

David Hewitt

Joshua said...
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Brian R. Giaquinto said...

Matthew 23:37 was not intended to be a theological statement about salvation. I doubt that Jesus could do that referencing one verse. There are some things we can glean, though. Weren't the objects of Jesus' remorse ALREADY the CHOSEN people of God (Isaiah 41:8-9)? The new covenant wasn't in effect yet (He didn't say "it is finished" until just before His death on the cross - John 19:30), so Israel was still technically the people of God. This is why Jesus was sent to them in the first place. I see a parallel between Jesus' remorse for Jerusalem and Paul's plea in Romans 9 for natural Israel to be part of God's plan in the creation of spiritual Israel. Could Jesus be weeping as Paul weeped? One thing all Calvinists should agree is that God weeps over everyone, regardless of whom He has chosen. Even though justice must be served, He takes no sick pleasure of the eternal torment of people created in His image (Ezekiel 18:32). Jack Graham and others would do well to remember that there is a difference among God's decretive will, preceptive will, and will of disposition. If we do not make these distinctions, God contradicts Himself throughout His Word. What we see in Matthew 23:37 is a beautiful example of God's will of disposition. It is a magnificent display of the sorrow that God feels knowing His justice will be served - knowing, as Paul knew, that they would not repent and believe (preceptive will - God give us the abililty to rebel against) because of His overall plan (the decretive will - cannot be overturned or thwarted).

John Fonville said...

Concerning the Matthew 23:37 passage and related issues, check out John Piper's post today on the homepage of Desiring God: Are There Two Wills in God? Divine Election and God's Desire for All to be Saved

http://desiringgod.org/library/topics/doctrines_grace/2wills.html

The Monk said...

Gee, it seems that Jack Graham doesn't hold to the Baptist Faith & Message, which states, "Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace."

James said...

I was curious about his belief that Calvinism squashes missionary zeal. I'd like to think the Calvinist David Brainerd inspired the likes of other Calvinist missionaries such as Henry Martyn, William Carey, and Adoniram Judson. I'm sure others have brought this up, but it's still mind boggling. He remembers not those who have ruled over us and faithfully taught the word of God,as our Lord Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever!

The Monk said...

Question for theological consideration: Is it possible to hold a legitimate belief in substitutionary atonement without also holding to particular redemption?

Scripture Searcher said...

Poor Jack Graham! He and the many others of his theological clan or club must always decide whether to seek

(1) the approval of God by faithfully, honestly and truthfully teaching the sacred scriptures OR (2) the approval of those that pay his salary, etc.

It is the decision all of us
make on a regular basis. GOD HELP US ALL TO BE TRUE TO HIS WORD WHATEVER THE COST!

GeneMBridges said...

However, James White doesn’t go on to deal with the theology of the text. He just makes an exegetical observation about the difference between “Jerusalem” (the leaders) and “your children” and moves on.

Ynottony, on the one hand you acknowledge that White has not dealt with the theology of the text well, and then you ask questions about what he may or may not argue, then you make a guess about how he would interpret this text through a decretal grid. If he has not dealth with the theology of the text well and you don't know how he may or may not address it, then how can you make any comment about how he would interpret the passage? Why not deal with what he has actually written?

A. You ask Does James White mean to say that Jesus didn’t want to gather the leaders but only the children? Would he then go on to argue that Jesus meant the elect from among the children? If so, that would be eisogesis and a system driven interpretation.

White says in TPF "Jesus was not seeking to gather the leaders but their children." So the answer to the first question is "Yes." The "children" of these leaders would be Jews who were hindered by the Jewish leaders from hearing Christ. One looks in vain for any reference to these children as "the elect" or any reference as all to him excluding the leaders based on a decretal interpretive grid of some sort. So then answer to the second question is "No." He goes on to supply his reason.

B. In The Potter's Freedom, pp. 136-139, although he quotes Gill as agreeing with him in his own exegesis, White points his readers to that which prompted Jesus words in Matt. 23:37, the text of Matt. 23:13. White does not use the words, "This text (23:37) refers to the preceptive will of God," and I think he should have simply concluded there myself, but I have always read his reference to Matt. 23:13 as pointing in that exact direction.

I read White as saying Christ was pronouncing woe on the scribes and Pharisees for not having complied with their responsibility to lead the people, and, in so doing had kept them from God. To me, I read this, and have always read this, as a direct referent to the preceptive will of God, not the application of an Owenic grid. He may have one, but I don't see it in his rendering of this text. Does he simply "move on." I don't think it's fair to say that's all he does, because he points his readers here to Matt. 23:13. Do I think he should have been clearer here? Yes, I do, because I don't think a sentence saying "This refers to the revealled/preceptive will of God," would take up that much space, but, hey, I'm not his editor.

The passage is not relevant to the topic from my perspective, because it does not address regeneration, nor does it address effacious grace, the topics to which Graham addressed it, so I stand by what I said about it not be relevant to the topic. I agree, it does deal with the preceptive will of God, but, since I provided not a line of exegesis, this being a comment thread, not a blog article of my own making, I didn't feel it necessary. Perhaps I should have been clearer. It is not relevant to the topic to which Graham applied it, salvation viz. effacious grace. Therefore, the passage is not relevant to a discussion about the individual dynamics of regeneration, calling, and justification. As Brian Giaquinto says well, "Matt.23:37 was not intended to be a theological statement about salvation." It is relevant to the broader concept of God's revealed will and disposition, but not the more narrow concept to which critics employ it as a prooftext. It is relevant only because they seek to make it relevant, but it is not, exegetically relevant to the use to which they put it. It shares as much relevance to the topic as 23:11 does to the refutation of Sola Scriptura to which the Catholics with whom I more frequently deal than Arminians in my ministry put it.

John Fonville said...

James wrote, "I was curious about his belief that Calvinism squashes missionary zeal. I'd like to think the Calvinist David Brainerd inspired the likes of other Calvinist missionaries such as Henry Martyn, William Carey, and Adoniram Judson. I'm sure others have brought this up, but it's still mind boggling. He remembers not those who have ruled over us and faithfully taught the word of God,as our Lord Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever!"

I agree. I pointed out the same thing in pt. 1. In his "sermon" Graham said, "In 19th century England, 18th century England because this kind of theology was spread through the congregation[s] there, there was no mission programs there was no evangelism going on." What? Certainly evangelism and missions languished and suffered among the Hyper-Calvinist congregations. But, as a blanket statement, this just isn't accurate.

The fact is Reformation theology stood at the heart of the 18th century Evangelical revival. Moreover, Reformation theology was largely responsible for the birth of the modern missionary movement in 1793. The founder of the modern missionary movement, William Carey, was a committed five point Calvinist who stood against the Hyper-Calvinists of his day (most students of Scripture and church history know this but obviously not all). It is true that Carey met a great deal of opposition to foreign missions in his day. For example, one source writes:

"When He addressed the Minister’s Fraternal of the Northampton Baptist Association in 1787 concerning missions John Ryland Sr. replied, “Sit down young man. You are an enthusiast! When God pleases to convert the heathen, He will do it without consulting you or me.” However, such a reprimand only served to spur William Carey on in his zeal for missions. In 1792 Carey wrote, An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen. This would become the Magna Carta for the modern mission movement. It was also in that year that he preached his famous sermon, “Expect great things. Attempt great things.” By the end of that same day the Northamptonshire Baptist Association adopted a resolution penned by Andrew Fuller: “Resolved, that a plan be prepared against the next minister's meeting at Kettering, for forming a Baptist Society for propagating the gospel among the heathen.” With Carey’s sermon and Fuller’s resolution, the modern mission movement was born. Nearly a century later B.H. Carroll, a great Southern Baptist leader, wrote of Carey’s sermon:
“William Carey ... preached his great sermon, 'Expect Great Things, Attempt Great Things.' From the top of that sermon, if you were to sight backwards on a dead level, no other sermon will be high enough to cross the line until you strike Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost.”"

YnottonY said...

I was told that Tom wrote his dissertation on Andrew Fuller. I see that Dallas Seminary has his work entitled 'At the pure fountain of thy word': Andrew Fuller as an apologist. I may eventually read this. Tom would certainly be qualified to speak about missions and evangelism duing this time.

david pauley said...

Just FYI, as an MATh student at Southwestern who has taken eschatology with Dr. Patterson and had several brief conversations with him in the halls, his demeanor against Calvinism (and Amillenialism) is more amiable than most. I did not find him hostile, in fact, I found him quite easy to talk to and very willing to discuss areas where we disagreed - in a rather friendly manner. While he does not agree with Calvinism (and he DOES make that fact known) he welcomed open and honest conversation. I have not found the environment at Southwestern to be openly hostile toward Calvinism and have appreciated Dr. Patterson's desire to move Southwestern in a biblically conservative direction. This is a huge improvement! I believe he is a man who loves the Scriptures, loves Christ and wants God honored at Southwestern.

Doug said...

John wrote...

"When He addressed the Minister’s Fraternal of the Northampton Baptist Association in 1787 concerning missions John Ryland Sr. replied, “Sit down young man. You are an enthusiast! When God pleases to convert the heathen, He will do it without consulting you or me."

I agree with everyone's complaints about Graham's sermon, especially his lack of knowledge of church history. But in reading the biography of William Carey by his grandson, he says this statement is false. He says the event never happened.

YnottonY said...

"But in reading the biography of William Carey by his grandson, he says this statement is false. He says the event never happened.

Dr. Curt Daniel makes the same comment in his doctoral dissertation on Hyper-Calvinism and John Gill. The comment is more like a rumor. It's not well documented, and yet it's taken as the standard view of hyperism. The historical positions are more complicated than that.

Paul said...

Just a quick response to the statement that Dr. Patterson has moved Southwestern in a more biblically conservative direction. I graduated from Southwestern in 1990 and can tell you that Southwestern was "biblically conservative" well before Dr. Patterson's arrival.

That's not to minimize Dr. Patterson's current contributions, but that is to honor the contributions of some great men in the SWBTS faculty before Dr. Patterson ever got there. To suggest that they were anything but biblically conservative would be a mischaracterization.

John Fonville said...

Doug wrote,

"But in reading the biography of William Carey by his grandson, he says this statement is false. He says the event never happened."

Thanks for the insight. I suppose the biography I have on Carey is wrong. Where can I get a copy of the one you are referring to?

Scripture Searcher said...

Baptist Press (9/6/5) proudly announces that Senior Pastor Jack Graham of the mega Prestonwoood church (24,000 members) in Plano, Texas is being added
as a contributing writer so
maybe we'll be getting more of his theological insights in the days, weeks and months to come!

Scott Hill said...

What does Jack Graham do with all the 18th and 19th century missionaries. Just to list the Baptist ones would fill up a page.

MarieP said...
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MarieP said...
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joethorn.net said...

And the hits keep coming from Graham, this time with an old favorite, "Total Abstinence."

G. Alford said...

Tom,

If the current leadership of the SBC is going to require “ALL” missionaries to sign the BFM2000 as a means of doctrinal accountability to the churches who support them, don’t you think it is only fair to ask the leadership of the SBC to also sign the same document?

With our former President now coming out and attacking the doctrine of Election as found in the BFM200 I would think that having the current President and future Presidents sign the BFM2000 would be a good place to start in curbing this all out attack on the Christian Faith (for that is what the doctrines of grace are… the Christian Faith).

Then we could take this to the state and local association level having every state convention and local association sign the BFM2000 (most will have to dust off a copy and actually read it first)… perhaps then we would see a little less of this foolishness of having those in leadership attack and oppose Men of God for simply believing what these same leaders said they believed back in June of 2000 when they “All” voted to adopt the BFM2000.

Go read the preamble to the BFM2000 (http://www.boycecollege.com/aboutus/bfm.pdf) and note just how many times it mentions that these are articles (all of them, not just article 1) of the Christian Faith which are most surely held among us. Now did they lie back then, or have their beliefs changed? If it is the latter of the two then they need to seek to amend the BFM2000 to accurately reflect what they now believe, but I really doubt that anyone is going to actually have the integrity to do this… No it is a lot more fun to just attack the Reformed Brethren in the SBC.

– Greg Alford

stephen lee cavness said...

i dont know how long it has been since anyone has read this, but i will clear up one matter, that has little to do with th eoriginal topic.
dr. tom nettles and dr. greg wills both attend lagrange baptist church.
lagrange baptist church consists of the majority of the membership of what was formerly known as dehaven memorial baptist church.
after a much needed new facility was built (so that the church could worship together in one service, as opposed to three because of lack of sanctuary space and sunday school rooms), a small, very small, number of people stayed at the old building and retained their identity as "dehaven". they have requested that their names be dropped from lbc's roll, and the motion passed in a buisness meeting.
the reason for the name change, was actually, to go back to the original name of the church. the old sanctuary had been named "dehaven" after a substantial amount of money was given to build it, and over time the whole church began to be referred to simply as "dehaven". in actuality, it is the members who stayed at "dehaven" who broke off from the larger body of lagrange baptist church.

additionally, lbc was conatcted by salem radio to host one of its (salem radio's) conferences. dr. grahm was not invited *by* lbc or its staff, only simply hosting the event. i know pastor tony well, and he is committed to teaching biblical truth and growing his congregation in biblical literacy, and in knowledge of our father.

finally, i believe it is imporatant that as we respond to these matters, that we do so in love. i love the truths of the doctrines of grace, but we shoot ourselves in the foot if we do not respond in a loving manner that seeks to instruct and correct in gentleness and humility, even while firmly defending these truths.
-stephen lee cavness

TSHusker said...

I attend Prestonwood and was there when Pastor Graham made his comments. I nearly walked out. I came real close. But we still attend there, not feeling the Lord leading us to another fellowship, but always open to His leading.

Tom
Doctrine Matters