Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dr John Stott and Rob Rufus!!

It seems like everyone I know who has a passionate interest in the grace message has had an absolutely rubbish week!! Even the wonderful guys in Hong Kong. Is that coincidence? I guess it may be. But what's worried me is the vicious attacks of long-term Christians against the message of grace and righteousness - in short the Gospel itself. The accusation is quite common that Rob Rufus is "inventing a new gospel" and of course the tired "concern"; "It will give people a license to sin". I was intrigued therefore to be stuck at a family function and happened to pick up a copy of John Stott's BST commentary on the Book of Romans.

I have copied a large amount of John Stott quotes onto the "Pentecostal/Charismatic Post-it Notes" blog and they can be found here.

Some of the quotes sound remarkably like Rob himself!

"The antithesis between grace and law, mercy and merit, faith and works, God's salvation and self-salvation is absolute. No compromising mish-mash is possible. We are obliged to choose".

"Some scholars maintain that 'justification' and 'pardon' are synonymous ... But surely this cannot be so. Pardon is negative, the remission of a penalty or debt; justification is positive, the bestowal of a righteous status, the sinner's reinstatement in the favour and fellowship of God".

And Stott made a number of comments on why Paul mentioned Abraham in Romans 4;

"The promise in mind must still be Genesis 15:5 that Abraham's posterity would be as numerous as the stars. It was a promise without any conditions or requirements attached to it. God's Word came to Abraham as a gratitutious promise - not as law. He simply believed God and was justified".

There was one extended piece of the commentary where John Stott dealt with the issue of whether we can talk about "being clothed in the spotless robe of Christ's righteousness". Now I must confess I took instant interest in this because I have heard Rob Rufus speak a number of times about "being clothed in Christ's righteousness". John Stott wrote this;

"A further question is whether the righteousness which God graciously imputes to us may be said to be the righteousness of Christ whether we may legitimately speak of "being clothed in the spotless robe of Christ's righteousness" and whether Zindendorf was correct to write in John Wesley's translation, of 'Jesus Thy Blood and Righteousness - My beauty are, my glorious dress'.

This kind of language even in devotional hymns is unfashionable today and is declared by some theologically inadmissable. Nevertheless on at least 3 occasions Paul comes close to this picture. I for one believe it is biblically permissive to use it. We are told that He was made sin for us, 'So that in Him we might become the righteousness of God', that "He has become for us ... our righteousness".

And that if we "gain Christ and are found in Him then the righteousness we have is not our own, but the righteousness that comes from God through faith in Christ" ... "Be clothed" with the righteousness of God or of Christ is not even mentioned. We are given even greater privilidge of "having it" and even "becoming it".

Once the reality of imputed righteousness is accepted, there can be little objection to the clothing metaphor".

Now I know that there is little value in quoting Christian "celebrities" because we can all find a quote to back up one's personal view. Maybe someone would dredge up a John MacArthur quote to disagree with all this ... I don't know. The point I was simply trying to make was - a plea for a little calm. Rob Rufus isn't preaching a false gospel. Much of what he says on the righteousness of God would concur with many respected commentators such as John Stott himself. Let us calm down and truly become Berean-like - examining these things for ourselves to see if they are so.


Anonymous said...

I agree with what you say about the need for a Berean approach.

I am profoundly troubled, to be honest (as you may well have picked up several times before) about much of what Rob Rufus teaches, but in all of my troubling I must be constrained by love and a Berean approach is the biblical approach and the only correct way.
To get into theological slanging matches is dishonouring to the Lord and does nothing to further the Kingdom of God.

However - there us unfortunately a however - if somebody whoever they are is found to be preaching a different Gospel let him be accursed. That's Galatians 1 not me... I'm not getting into whether Rob Rufus is doing that or not at this stage, but if he is, it's not a matter of acquiescing with him or quiet disagreement, but quite the opposite.


jul said...

I've been listening to Rob for at least a couple of years now, and I know he's not invented a 'new' gospel. The problem is, most of the church has accepted a 'gospel' that's had thing added and taken away little by little for 2000 years. So the good old original gospel sounds too good to be true! I have not taken Rob's teaching and just swallowed it whole, but went through all the normal objections and difficulties, taking them all to Scripture with the Holy Spirit's help and illumination and have shockingly found that he's teaching what the Bible actually says, without placing any manmade rules or conditions on it. I've recieved the same revelations for myself, and more, straight from God's own word. I'm tired to death!!!!of people coming at me and my faith with quotes from 'godly men' dead or alive that are supposed to disprove my beliefs, never ever bringing Scripture in context to disprove the gospel I hold to. My authority is now and forever God's word, not the word of ANY man, no matter how humble, sincere, loving, wise, successful, or impressive he may be...

Eutychus, I really respect your attitude and your honesty. At least you're not making snap judgements without examining the information. If you listen to Rob and study the Word to see if what he's saying it right or wrong and come out disagreeing, you should follow your own convictions. That's all any of us can do, and we should love our brothers and sisters who we disagree with, and try to persuade each other out of love with solid evidence from Scripture instead of bashing each other over the heads with opinions derived from worldly wisdom.

Jon Sidnell said...

Thanks for this Dan. I agree we're not to go dredging up quotes from the luminaries of the Christian world to support this point or another.

But for someone who spent formative years in an Evangelical Anglican church who rather treated people like John Stott and J. I. Packer as apostles ('course they didn't actually call them that), it's nice to come across "respected" people saying similar things to Rob :)

Dan Bowen said...

Eutychus I think and hope you will be encouraged that Rob himself encourages your very attitude. In this latest sermon I quoted and am transcribing, he said;

"If at the end you still believe that a Christian has broken their fellowship every time they sin and they have to restore their fellowship by confessing their sin then I tell you with truth and integrity - you are free to believe that and you are free to continue believing if that's what you want to continue believing.

And in this church you do not have to hold my position absolutely. There is freedom in this church to hold different grades of understanding of the truth. We are all growing at different stages and I am not the dogmatic dictator here going that unity is that you all believe what I teach. That is not unity. That is mechanical!".

That for me is a very different attitude to the one I have had all my life. The pastors I have been under HAVE demnanded an agreement with what they have been preaching and if I have ventured to disagree with them then I have been told to leave! So I am encouraged, for myself, that Rob is willing to stand up and invite disagreement ... IF the Berean-like study has taken place!

I want you to know that your concerns are welcome here - you have always voiced them in a respectful, polite and open attitude and I really (like Julie) respect you for that. I always do read your comments, and do consider them carefully - so please don't see yourself as the "vocal minority!". I too have not swallowed Rob hook, line and sinker. I want to be a Bible-believing, New Testament Christian attracting non-believers in thousands because I am living out what I believe! So keep commenting, keep voicing your opinion, your concerns when you feel you must.

That being said, although the opinions of other men don't prove much, I think there is a degree of safety and of interest in a common theme. Jon as you rightly said;

"it's nice to come across "respected" people saying similar things to Rob :)"

For someone as respected in the Anglican/Evangelical world as John Stott to be saying similar things to Rob surely must at the very least grab our attention, and again give Rob a hearing.

PS: For the record, Eutychus;

"if somebody whoever they are is found to be preaching a different Gospel let him be accursed".

That is Galatians 1 indeed! And I do agree (of course) with the Bible! But what was Galatians written about and to? It was to a people who had begun in the Spirit and were abandoning the freedom that Christ had set them free for, to go back to a yoke of slavery. The issue in Galatians 1 is of legalism through and through.

Now I actually believe that Galatians 1 and the "different gospel" is of supreme danger in the church right here and right now. But it's a legalistic different gospel we should beware of if we are listening to the context. A gospel of works. And I DO see that in certain churches quite close to me in the United Kingdom. Churches that are preaching that we began in the freedom of the Spirit but now we carry on in works, seeking to earn the favour of God through our good deeds.

And like you, yourself said Eutychus - I too won't take that quietly!

Lionfire said...

I have been sifting through and processing much of what Rob and many others ( NT basically) have said and i have never in my life been more convinced of what he is preaching is the truth!!

2 Things for me which cause me to belive this msg (Pure Grace) is the Love for Jesus and the Passion for the Gospel which is Salvation in its entirety and a getting back to the Power of God in which so much of the church has seriosly lacked!!! Romans 1:17,

But i agree that we need to have clear theological grounding and rightfully divide the word of truth as the book of Timothy instructs!!:)

Let us not forget that Paul, Wesley and many other revolutionaries were hated for preaching "different Gospel" and cost tghem their lives and bring freedom to the Body of Christ!!

Love and Grace