Thursday, March 21, 2013

Michael Patton - Wrong 6 out of 8 Times

Michael Patton's recent post, "Eight Issues that Do NOT Make or Break Christianity" is not his finest moment. Of the eight positions he picks, six are issues that go to the fundamentals of the faith, to wit (using his numbers):

1 . Young Earth Creationism

You don't have to agree with every argument or every position from Answers in Genesis, but special creation as a matter of historical fact is a fundamental aspect of the Christian faith and a doctrine plainly taught in Scripture.

2. The authorship of the Pastoral Epistles

The pastoral epistles clearly state their authorship (see vs. 1 of each of them). It may not be a fundamental of the faith in itself, but it is a plain teaching of the text.

3. The inerrancy of Scripture

The Scriptures are the Word of God. God does not make errors.

4. Whether the flood covered entire earth

The Scriptures plainly teach that the flood did cover the entire earth. While this issue is not as fundamental as special creation, the significance of the Noahic covenant is very significant.

6. The inspiration of Scripture

The doctrine of the inspiration of the Scriptures is fundamental to the faith and is plainly taught.

8. The theory of evolution

Rejection of the theory of evolution is necessary in view of the plainly taught doctrine of special creation.

The only two points on which Patton was correct were:

5. The character witness of Christians

Christianity is about Christ, not about his followers. We are not disciples of anyone but God. If we were disciples of someone else, that person's character could be in question, but we are not.

7. The unity of Christianity

Christian unity will be complete in the kingdom to come. It is incomplete now for many reasons, but chiefly because God has chosen that it will be incomplete now.

Oh, and even about the two he gets right, on #7 he claims:
It is important to note that all of orthodox Christianity has always been united on many things. There is a certain perspicuity (clarity) to the Scripture which has brought about this universal unity. We call this the regula fide or the canon veritas. It is simply an expression of orthodox belief, arguing that there are certain beliefs shared by all Christians, everywhere, at every point in history. There are too many things to list, but in essence we all agree on the person and work of Christ.
Obviously, I don't speak for Patton or whatever group he associates with, but for us (as for Thomas Aquinas) "only canonical Scripture is the rule of faith." There are many plain teachings in Scripture, to be sure, and generally speaking true believers agree on them (although human tradition is a powerful distorter). But Christianity unity is chiefly about unity in Christ - in the fact that we each have union with Christ through faith in Him. Thus, by faith we are the body of Christ, a fact we celebrate when we remember the Lord's death until he comes.

Note well - I'm not saying that Christians must have a correct understanding about the six things above in order to be saved. The way to be saved is by trusting in Christ alone for salvation, as he is presented in the Gospel. People can be saved with numerous doctrinal errors, even about very important points on which compromise is impossible.

Patton writes: "I have seen too many people who walk away from the faith due to their trust in some non-essential issue coming unglued." Of course, as a Calvinist, I'm well aware of the fact that people who walk away from "the faith" do so either on a temporary basis (as I hope and pray is the case for Jason Stellman) or because they were never one of us.


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