Over the last several posts in this series (Parts 5-9) I’ve discussed the biggest disagreements I have with the book “A Different Kind of Poison: How Legalism Destroys Grace.” Starting with this post, we’re going to shift gears to some of the more positive aspects of Kevin’s book.
If you would like to go back and read the earlier parts in this series, you can find those links here:
- The Fascinating Story of Kevin Pendergrass (Legalism, Part 1 of 14)
- Admitting My Bias (Legalism, Part 2 of 14)
- What I Appreciated the Most About Kevin Pendergrass’s Book on Legalism (Legalism, Part 3 of 14)
- An Overview of Kevin’s Argument (Legalism, Part 4 of 14)
- The Major Flaw in Kevin’s Book (Legalism, Part 5 of 14)
- A Different Kind of Legalism (Legalism Part 6 of 14)
- A Different Kind of Emphasis on the Gospel (Legalism, Part 7 of 14)
- A Different Kind of Response To the Gospel (Legalism, Part 8 of 14)
- Does Faithfulness Destroy Grace? (Legalism, Part 9 of 14)
Despite my disagreements with Kevin, I believe this book ultimately points in the right direction. When it comes to reading books we disagree with, I’ve often thought of the saying “chew up the meat and spit out the bones”. I’ve had some bones to pick with Kevin’s book. But now we’ve spit out the bones. And thankfully, we’re still left with lots of really good meat to chew on.
Throughout the first part of the book (Chapters 5-33) Kevin tells his personal story. Throughout this story, Kevin describes several experiences that raised questions in his mind. Chances are, you will find yourself relating to Kevin’s story. I believe the questions raised by Kevin are important questions; questions which many others have wrestled with. Unfortunately, when we ignore these questions, or assign them superficial or inconsistent answers, this can sometimes lead to Christians growing discouraged. Ignoring these questions can even lead to Christians losing their faith altogether.
I don’t plan on adding much comment in this post. I simply want to draw attention to the questions raised by Kevin. (I’ve taken the liberty to rephrase these questions into my own words so that this post will read more smoothly).
Important Questions Raised by Kevin Pendergrass in “A Different Kind of Poison”:
- When I die, how can I know I will go to heaven? (p. 23)
- When two Christians disagree on a matter, and since two contradictory positions cannot both be true, does this mean one of them is a “false teacher” teaching a “false doctrine”? Or can Christians disagree and still live in unity? (p. 43)
- Should we simply fellowship anyone regardless of their disagreements? Do some issues matter more than others? (p. 44)
- How do we decide what issues Christians must agree upon to have unity? What issues can Christians agree to disagree on while still having unity? (p. 101)
- Are we being consistent in how we answer these questions? Or do we arbitrarily exalt some issues as more important than others simply because some issues have become more important for our particular sect? (p. 102-103)
- Is our method of unity taught in Scripture? (p. 103)
- What is the biblical gauge between a matter of opinion and a matter of doctrine/fellowship? (p. 103)
- Can we make a develop a list of “fellowship issues” which is based upon scripture and logically consistent? (p. 103)
- If every single Christians were to develop a list of what they understand to be fellowship issues, should every single Christian be expected to end up with the exact same list? (p. 104)
- Can we fellowship a Christian who’s list of fellowship issues is different from ours? What if it only differs on one little point? (p. 104)
- If someone’s list of doctrinal/fellowship issues is drastically different from ours, and we break fellowship with them, would we be consistent to maintain fellowship with someone who’s list only differs from ours on one little point? (p. 104)
- If we maintain fellowship with someone who’s list is only different from ours on one little point, are we being consistent when we break fellowship with someone because their list is greatly different from ours? (p. 104)
- Do we think of ourselves as infallible in our study? (p. 126-127)
- If we are fallible, might we be ignorantly wrong on an issue? (If we were ignorantly wrong, we wouldn’t know it! That’s the definition of being “ignorantly wrong”) (p. 127)
- If it is possible that we could be ignorantly wrong about what issues are doctrinal/fellowship issues, and if we could be ignorantly wrong on one of those issues, how can we know we are saved? Where is our hope? (p. 127)
- How can we maintain a humility which admits that we could be wrong while at the same time remaining confident in our salvation? How can we be confident in our salvation while maintaining a humility that says we might be wrong? (p. 125)
- What if you or I are a false teacher and we don’t even know it? What if we have come to a wrong conclusion on a matter about which we remain unaware? (p. 125)
- What if a matter I thought was a small matter is actually a big matter? What if I am breaking fellowship over what I think is a big matter, when God views it as a small matter? (p. 125)
- Why did God kill Nadab and Abihu, yet spare their brothers? Why did God destroy Uzzah for touching the ark, but allowed David the opportunity to repent? Why did God kill Ananias and Sapphira for their sin, but allowed Peter to live through his? (p. 187)
- How does God judge our obedience and disobedience? (p. 188)
What if this? What if that? What about this? What about that?
And what’s more, we cannot simply dismiss these questions as being silly or unimportant. Our eternal salvation might be at stake!
Ultimately, the heart of all these questions can be summed up Kevin’s question on page 127:
Did God leave us with this kind of hopeless “hope”? Had God given me a belief system that was that shaky? Let me remind you, I knew that the Bible says I can know I am saved and be confident, but that didn’t make any sense with my understanding of Christianity as the time. I was left wondering if I was going to always have this constant fear of my salvation. (p. 127)
With these questions in mind, I wish to raise a new question. If we understand “faith” as “faithfulness and loyalty to Jesus as Lord”, how does that impact the way we answer these questions? That will be the topic of discussion for an upcoming post in this series.
But for now, I simply want to applaud Kevin for giving such clear articulation to questions that have troubled many Christians for many years.
Continue to the next part here:
The Centrality of Love (Legalism, Part 11 of 14)
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