Transcription

COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may bereproduced, photocopied, stored in a retrieval system ortransmitted in any form or by any means—for example,electronic, photocopy, audio recording—without theprior written permission of the publisher.COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL

on- 2019 by Frank ViolaPublished by Baker Booksa division of Baker Publishing GroupPO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287www.bakerbooks.comPrinted in the United States of AmericaAll rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrievalsystem, or transmitted in any form or by any means— for example, electronic, photocopy,recording— without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception isbrief quotations in printed reviews.Library of Congress Cataloging- in- Publication DataNames: Viola, Frank, author.Title: ReGrace : what the shocking beliefs of the great Christians can teach us today /Frank Viola.Description: Grand Rapids : Baker Publishing Group, 2019. Includes bibliographicalreferences.Identifiers: LCCN 2018043227 ISBN 9780801077159 (pbk.)Subjects: LCSH: Theology—History. Church history.Classification: LCC BR118 .V56 2019 DDC 230—dc23LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2018043227Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New Inter n ational Version . NIV . Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the UnitedStates Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc. Scripture quotations labeled ASV are from the American Standard Version of the Bible.Scripture quotations labeled CEV are from the Contemporary English Version 1991,1992, 1995 by American Bible Society. Used by permission.Scripture quotations labeled ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV ), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV Text Edition: 2016Scripture quotations labeled KJV are from the King James Version of the Bible.Scripture quotations labeled NASB are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB),copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The LockmanFoundation. Used by permission. www.Lockman.orgScripture quotations labeled NCV are from the New Century Version . Copyright 2005by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.Scripture quotations labeled NKJV are from the New King James Version . Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.Scripture quotations labeled NLT are from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by TyndaleHouse Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers,Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.Scripture quotations labeled NRSV are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1989 National Council ofthe Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used bypermission. All rights reserved.2425   7654321COPYRIGHTED MATERIALViola ReGrace BB djm.indd 101/3/19 12:07 PM

Contents1.2.3.4.5.6.7.8.9.10.11.12.13.14.15.16.Why This Book?    13’Tis Humor    21We Know in Part    23Honoring Those with Whom You Disagree    27It’s Not a Bloodsport    31The Shocking Beliefs of C. S. Lewis    35The Shocking Beliefs of Jonathan Edwards    43The Shocking Beliefs of Martin Luther    53The Shocking Beliefs of John Calvin    69The Shocking Beliefs of Augustine    81The Shocking Beliefs of John Wesley    97The Shocking Beliefs of Charles Spurgeon    103The Shocking Beliefs of D. L. Moody    115Seven Shocking Statements by Billy Graham    125The New Tolerance    131You Just Might Be a Pharisee If . . .    13311COPYRIGHTED MATERIALViola ReGrace BB djm.indd 111/3/19 12:07 PM

Contents17. Twenty Reasons Why the Christian Right and theChristian Left Won’t Adopt Me    13918. So You Think You Disagree?    14719. The Art of Being a Jerk Online    15320. Warning: The World Is Watching How We ChristiansTreat One Another    15921. Misrepresentations    16722. Possessing a Mind to Suffer    17123. The Essentials of Our Faith    17324. Who Are the Real Heretics?    18125. They Are Our : A Word to Scholars    19712COPYRIGHTED MATERIALViola ReGrace BB djm.indd 121/3/19 12:07 PM

1Why This Book?The devil is a better theologian than any of us and isa devil still. A. W. TozerIn November 2014, Rick Warren asked me to write a seriesof blog posts on the shocking beliefs of the great Christianswho shaped the church (especially the evangelical wing).*Warren’s hope was that the series would “soften” theun civil climate in the Christian community over doctrinaldifferences.If, for example, a Christian discovered that his or hertheological “hero” had some peculiar, inaccurate, or evenshocking belief(s), this would give him or her pause before*While I claim the term evangelical myself, because it best fits my theologicalviews, I don’t stay within my corner of evangelicalism when it comes to readingthe writings of others. I also believe that modern evangelicalism has a number ofblind spots, something I’ve addressed on my blog— frankviola.org.13COPYRIGHTED MATERIALViola ReGrace BB djm.indd 131/3/19 12:07 PM

ReGRACEunloading both barrels on a fellow believer over an allegeddoctrinal trespass.After watching the nonstop carnage on social media overtheological disagreements during the last decade, I fullyresonated with Warren’s goal. And so I began writing the“shocking beliefs” series on my blog.Within a year, the series went viral, receiving hundreds ofthousands of pageviews from all over the world.In 2017, I had a conversation with the Baker publishingteam about revising and expanding the series into a book.They agreed, and that’s how this project began.The Purpose of This BookThe book I wrote before the one you’re reading right now iscalled Insurgence: Reclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom— which is a fresh presentation of the earth- shaking gospel ofthe kingdom of God.*One of the lessons those of us who have joined the Insurgence have learned is to always walk in the love of Christ,even toward people with whom we disagree.And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must bekind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. (2 Timothy 2:24)ReGrace has but one objective: to foster grace, civility,and tolerance among Christians when they disagree withone another over theological matters.The subtitle “shocking” is subjective. Some Christianswill find a number of the beliefs articulated in this book to*Frank Viola, Insurgence: Reclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom (GrandRapids: Baker, 2017). Many have called Insurgence my “signature work.”14COPYRIGHTED MATERIALViola ReGrace BB djm.indd 141/3/19 12:07 PM

Why This Book?be first- class shockers. Others will find them surprising. Asmall number may shrug their shoulders and muse to themselves, “So what?”Yet the point made in each chapter is undeniable. Noinfluential Christian of the past could claim flawless perception. Each of them had blind spots. Some of their viewswere peculiar at best. Others were aberrant or ran contrary to Scripture, at least to the minds of many evangelicalChristians.But despite their less- than- perfect beliefs, God still usedthem.This fact alone should cause us to relax whenever we runinto a teacher, preacher, author, or fellow Christian on a blogor social media feed who holds views with which we disagree.Especially when we come to grips with the immovable factthat none of us is immune to being wrong.That includes you and me.Getting ClearBefore we move on, I want to be crystal clear about five things:1) There’s no reason to get offended with any of the chapters in this book. Unless of course, you’re easily offended.(If that’s the case, I have no guaranteed antidote for you,but I did address you directly in a previous book with acure.)†2) Most Christians have heroes. I know I do. But somepeople are overly protective of theirs. I was keenly aware†Frank Viola, God’s Favorite Place on Earth (Colorado Springs: David C.Cook, 2013).15COPYRIGHTED MATERIALViola ReGrace BB djm.indd 151/3/19 12:07 PM

ReGRACEof this when I wrote the blog post on the “ShockingBeliefs of John Calvin.” After I published it, I sent thisemail to Rick Warren:Subject: Shocking Beliefs of John Calvin (this one may getme hung!)Hi Rick. The post is below. If I disappear, it’s your fault!You can reach me at Salman Rushdie’s place. ;-)Rick’s response made me laugh out loud. He promised to officiate my funeral if my body was ever found!Keep in mind that I’m not a “Calvin- hater.” I nevertouched his theological system. I simply pointed outsome beliefs he held that are shocking to many evangelical Christians, just as I did with the rest of the peopleI treat in this volume.Nevertheless, in response to that original blog post, Iwas on the receiving end of hate mail. Even from Quakers! The smoldering anger laden in those emails wouldmake Keyser Söze blush. (If you don’t know who Mr.Söze is, you can insert Howard Stern into that sentence.)What do I mean? Here are two of the tamer ones(cough):Viola’s journey to the dark side is now complete.Writing this blog post is the equivalent of witchcraft.I wonder if he’s stopped torturing small animalstoo. Doubt it. Take me off his blog list immediately.Your “shocking beliefs” series reminds me of CharlesManson. You’re a [expletive] and probably a closetserial killer too!16COPYRIGHTED MATERIALViola ReGrace BB djm.indd 161/3/19 12:07 PM

Why This Book?3) Some of the so- called shocking beliefs that I cover inthis book are beliefs that I myself agree with. Others Ifind abhorrent. Consequently, just because a shockingbelief is listed doesn’t reveal how I personally feel aboutit. It simply means that many evangelical Christians willfind the belief to be shocking (at worst) or peculiar (atbest).Therefore, to those of you who are inclined to finishthis book and proudly throw your chest out saying,“Good grief, I wasn’t shocked by any of those beliefs!”remember three things: You missed the point of thebook; each person I feature had people who believedthey were heretics during their day; and every one ofthem still have people raking them over the coals becauseof their viewpoints.4) While I disagree with a number of beliefs that eachperson I feature held, I have respect for each of them. Infact, I cannot tie the laces of their shoes. Each individualwas remarkable in his own right. I realize this means thatpeople who don’t like Calvin, Lewis, Wesley, Augustine,and so forth will be turned off by that statement. Andsome may misuse this book as a frontal attack on eachperson it covers, completely missing the boat on thosechapters and the intent of this volume. If you ever findsomeone doing that, feel free to quote this paragraphto them to jar their memory.5) To keep this book relatively short, I didn’t cover everyshocking belief these figures from church history held.I simply covered the beliefs I felt were sufficient to makemy point. The source materials will give you further information about each individual and their views. So I’m17COPYRIGHTED MATERIALViola ReGrace BB djm.indd 171/3/19 12:07 PM

ReGRACEsure you can uncover more of their shocking beliefs, ifyou desire to investigate. But again, how many peculiarviews they held isn’t the point. The point is that some oftheir beliefs were imperfect, and hence, we should showmore tolerance toward each other whenever we disagree.On “Great” ChristiansFor the both of you who are apoplectic right now because Iused the word “great” to describe fallen humans, let me pointout that I’m merely following Jesus here (emphasis mine):The greatest among you will be your servant. (Matthew 23:11)Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has notrisen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever isleast in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Matthew11:11)Whoever practices and teaches these commands will be calledgreat in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19)So settle down, okay?Note that I’m only covering eight “great Christians” inthis book. In my study of church history, these are the peopleI believe shaped the evangelical Christian world the most. Idon’t have a “shocking belief” entry for Billy Graham sinceI don’t think he fits into that category. However, I did featureseven surprising (perhaps even shocking) quotes by him.You will find that no women are featured. That’s becausein my research, the women who significantly shaped churchhistory (such as Fanny Crosby and Amy Carmichael) didn’t18COPYRIGHTED MATERIALViola ReGrace BB djm.indd 181/3/19 12:07 PM

Why This Book?appear to hold to any shocking beliefs.* I suppose that’s acompliment to them.Finally, I’ve deliberately omitted the shocking actions ofthe great Christians, focusing instead on their beliefs (actionsand beliefs aren’t the same).It bears repeating: the purpose of this book is not to lowerthese individuals in your eyes. It’s actually the opposite. It’s toshow you that despite their strange (and sometimes flawed)thinking on some issues, God still used them. Mightily, even.The lesson, of course, is that God uses His people in spiteof their strange or erroneous perspectives. And since that’sthe case, let’s have more grace whenever we disagree withone another.It’s time for us to regrace.†*Carmichael dressed like the Indian women she ministered to and allegedlykidnapped children who were being sold as sex slaves (in an effort to rescuethem). She also didn’t accept donations. But none of these beliefs would beshocking or surprising to a twenty-first-century Christian audience.†By regrace, I simply mean rethinking and rediscovering God’s grace in relationto those with whom we disagree. In other words, to begin to be gracious toward