A Frustrating Conclusion

Recently I posted a critique of Mike Gendron and his Proclaiming the Gospel ministry (an outreach to Roman Catholics). I then emailed him to give him a fair chance to see it and to dialogue. Without much commentary from me, I will here below post our email exchange. I am doing so because I am truly mystified and frustrated with this brother.

To try to be clear, I had two goals in contacting and critiquing Mr. Gendron:

  1. Call him to account for using fallacious, sub-Christian reasoning.
  2. To ask if he could give evidence that he understands what he is attacking.

And both of these points failed to produce fruit. What I want you to see is our failure to establish even the most minimal line of understanding and communication. I’d love to get your feedback or advice in the comments – how could I have done better?

Mike in gray, me in blue (and remember my first name is Justin, I just like going by my middle name – Adam – online).

You said in your blog “You have heard nothing back to date” which implies that I received your email and never responded. Since we never received it that is why I never responded. It has been our ministry principle that we respond to all the emails we receive.

I find it interesting that you accuse of me firing a gun into the stands, and for refusing to at least represent your brothers and sisters correctly and causing division.
I wrote: “Tragically, many of today’s evangelicals, who embrace the biblical soteriology of the Reformers, are also embracing a Roman Catholic eschatology that the Reformers never challenged.”
 
You said, “You equate amillennialism with Roman Catholicism, as if to hold the former is to capitulate to the latter.”
 
Do you really think your statement represents what I wrote? Let me ask you. Does the RC region hold to an ahmil position? Did the Reformers come out of the RC religion? Did they ever challenge the RC position on eschatology? Did the Reformers bring other RC baggage into their salvation experience? 
 
Truth causes division. Everyone on the side of truth listens to Jesus who was clearly not ahmil. He will rule from the throne of David to fulfill prophecy and the predetermined plan of God. The ONLY way you can arrive at an ahmil position is by allegorizing the text in Rev. 20. This is what the Ahmil experts say as well.
 
Do you really believe Satan is bound now?
Blessings, Mike Gendron
.
Note, I had no intention of going into an actual debate on the subject, I just wanted to address those two points I noted above. My response:
.
Mike,

Thanks for replying. I believe you that you never got my April 1 email, and I hope you believe me that I sent it to you. Water under the bridge: I will make note in my blog post that you have indeed responded.

Do I think I’m representing what you wrote? Yes, of course I do. I’d be a useless babbler if I was just trying to build a strawman and make you look bad – I am a *fan* of you and your ministry, not an enemy. Friends like me call friends like you to account for public statements, and in this case, my original email is my concern:
1) It is fallacious, unfair argumentation to equate amil eschatology with RC eschatology, as if the one is the fruit of the other. I’m sure you think you are doing a fine job warning us about an unbiblical eschatology, but you are poisoning the well by the manner in which you’ve represented us. Again, this is the exact same technique used by anti-trinitarians, who equate our doctrine of the trinity with a Roman Catholic origin. You and I both know it’s ignorant to say there was any such thing as the RCC in the fourth century, but this is what anti-trinitarians do. You should have a higher standard than to try to tie the amil position to the bloated corpse of Rome.
2) This is why I asked you if you have actually read any faithful, Protestant theologians who argue the amil position. Even your question to me “Do you really think Satan is bound” tells me you don’t have any first hand familiarity with what you are trying to critique.
Mike, this is a cause of division. We cannot have good-faith discussions within the church if we cannot or will not take the time to properly represent one another. Does any of what I’ve said seem reasonable? I don’t care about winning an argument, I care that you would consider the spirit of what I am saying. 
After all, I think it would come as a massive surprise to men like James White and RC Sproul that they have an unexamined, Roman Catholic eschatology, seeing as they have laid their reputations on the line for decades to decimate the Roman Catholic Church through faithful biblical exegesis and study of church history.
In Christ,
Justin
.
Mike replied:
Justin
You asked you if I have actually read any faithful, Protestant theologians who argue the amil position. Yes, but I build my theology on the inspired men of the Bible.
You said, “You and I both know it’s ignorant to say there was any such thing as the RCC in the fourth century.” Clearly there were seeds of unbiblical doctrines planted in the 3rd and 4th century that the RCC holds as dogmas today.
Instead of dismissing my question about Satan being bound, why not show me from Scripture why you believe such nonsense.
Justin there is only one truth in the study of Eschatology. I defend my position from Scripture, you defend your by pointing me to uninspired men.
Instead of agreeing to disagree why not recognize that at least one of us is wrong and leading people away from the truth.
Mike,
So far in this exchange my main concern has been to establish a level of common understanding and communication. It seems we are still not communicating.
There is an array of methodological issues at play here, and I’m not sure I can lay them out so as to create a channel of communication between us.
Suffice to say this: you have printed an attack against the biblical theology of a majority portion of the faithful, Bible-believing men of the Reformation, and you defend it by claiming to be only using the Bible. This claim indicates to me that you do not actually know what you are saying, for the amillennial position is set forth and defended by countless men in countless books using Scripture. For you to print a reader email calling us “blind or crazy” is to shoot down dialogue and mutual understanding. You’re building an enclave rather than inviting a fruitful, biblical dialogue.
I would be glad to explain from Scripture why our position is correct, but I would be wasting my time if we are not actually communicating.
I ABSOLUTELY agree that one of us is wrong, and it is you the dispensationalist. Your eschatology is a dangerous misreading of the unfolding of redemptive history, yet I cannot hold a candle to the expository genius of the theologians who have already explained all of this in spades. That’s why I asked if you’d ever read an amillennial theologian, because it seems you are critiquing something you do not understand at all.
If someone published a hit piece on dispensationalism, and yet you could not recognize your own position in their representation, wouldn’t you try to establish communication before going into a written defense?
 
So once again I would ask, have you really understood the biblical argumentation and exegesis behind the amil position? You could find it by listening to Voddie Baucham’s sermon series in Revelation, preached only a year or two ago. You could find it by reading the commentary series of Hendriksen and Kistemaker. You could get it by listening to the White Horse Inn, and by reading Kim Riddlebarger. You could get it from RC Sproul or James White, or by reading Graeme Goldsworthy.
The point is, these are all faithful men of the Reformation using the Bible to expound our position. We represent the best of Reformation exegesis and confession. What do you represent, brother? 
You represent a brand new, 160 year-old system that amazingly, virtually no one in church history ever saw. Are you claiming that all of the Christians from the Apostle John to John Darby were just completely missing what the Bible says?
 
There are other “Bible” religions that have that same methodology, but they aren’t a part of orthodox Christianity–you know who I mean–new groups that suddenly find the “real meaning” of Scripture in 1820, 1880, or 1950. 
May it never be! If something has been utterly, absolutely missing from the church for 1800 years, it’s probably wrong. 
You say it is “utter nonsense” that Satan is bound in this millennial age during the reign of Christ our King. 
I seem to recall Someone saying “ALL AUTHORITY in heaven AND ON EARTH has been given to Me. Go, therefore, into ALL THE NATIONS…………………” He is reigning NOW. He is King NOW. He must reign until all enemies have been put under His feet. 
But perhaps I am writing these things in vain. You may still feel justified in having written your newsletter with that fallacious piece linking us with Rome. You may still feel justified having printed that reader email calling us blind and crazy.
And if that’s the case, this is unnecessary division between us, for you do not understand whom or what you are attacking.
– Justin
.

Justin,

It really appears that the way you communicate may be more of a problem than I first thought. I keep having to correct you for misrepresenting me.
You refuse to answer a simple request to prove Satan is bound using the Word of God. If you think “ALL AUTHORITY in heaven AND ON EARTH has been given to Me. Go, therefore, into ALL THE NATIONS…………………” He is reigning NOW. He is King NOW”  He must reign until all enemies have been put under His feet” proves that Satan is bound then you must be allegorizing something.
Please try to read what I say more carefully.

I never even mentioned dispensationalism is my newsletter article or my email to you and yet you write:I “ABSOLUTELY agree that one of us is wrong, and it is the dispensationalist. Your eschatology is a dangerous misreading of the unfolding of redemptive history, yet I cannot hold a candle to the expository genius of the theologians who have already explained all of this in spades. That’s why I asked if you’d ever read an amillennial theologian, because it seems you are critiquing something you do not understand at all.  If someone published a hit piece on dispensationalism, and yet you could not recognize your own position in their representation, wouldn’t you try to establish communication before going into a written defense?This is what the letter to the edition said…

Another misrepresentation…
One has to be either blind or crazy, or both, to imagine that Satan is bound right now.
Can you see how you misrepresented the letter by saying…
“the amillennial position is set forth and defended by countless men in countless books using Scripture. For you to print a reader email calling us “blind or crazy” is to shoot down dialogue and mutual understanding.”
He did not say those who hold to the amillennial position are blind and crazy.
Words have meanings. We need to be careful!
.
(bold emphases mine!)
At this point, I figured we were going nowhere.
.
Do you or do you not subscribe to a form of dispensationalism with a pre-trib rapture?
His brief reply:
pre-trib rapture yes
.
Which means dispensationalism. So I concluded with:
.
Alright, I appreciate your willingness to exchange emails. I will post a follow-up blog post with a concluding commentary, and I will do my best to let you speak for yourself. Take care.
.
So, what do you think? I cannot for the life of me understand how I misrepresented the reader email that called us “blind or crazy, or both.”
Thanks for reading,
Adam
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