Allow me to say something about myself before I launch into a rebuttal
of a rebuttal. I am, by education and profession, a philosopher. I
wrote my dissertation in ethics, and I spent over 20 years teaching
philosophy at a local university. I say this because it ought to give
some insight into my method of approaching the problem under
consideration. I do not get angry and call people names. I do not throw
my materials on the floor and walk out of the room. I do not make
points by writing in upper case letters or in bold script. I make
points by using language and by using properly constructed arguments.
If an argument is sound, I will accept it. If an argument fails, I will
try to show where it has failed. It would be nice if all of my
opponents behaved the same way. Most do. Some do not.
Now, to the point of this paper.
It is a troubling business to have to label a fellow believer with
the title of heretic. Sadly, however, it must be done when scripture
clearly warrants it, and in the case of those teaching divorce and
remarriage as perpetual adultery the scripture clearly does.
My paper (Divorce: Perpetual Adultery?) which went out in
refutation of the “Red Book,” What God Hath Joined, ends with an 8
point deductive argument, reductio ad absurdam, showing clearly that
the position my opponents have taken, when pushed to its ultimate
conclusion, results in the heresy of salvation by works. All of the
paper leading up to that argument is nothing but groundwork to reach
that final argument. Strictly speaking, I could have done nothing more
than present the argument, and that would have finished the matter.
Everything my opponents wrote in “The Red Book”, all of the
scripture they cited, every example they gave, is utterly useless if
they wish to make their case because any position that results in
heresy has got to be wrong. It cannot be correct. Thus, they have
misapplied scripture, and they have failed to divide the word of God
correctly; for scripture, correctly divided and applied, will never
lead one into heresy.
Once again, the argument; and this time, rather than numbering the
steps as if I were preparing this for a philosophical journal, I will
simply write the argument out. It begins with Paul’s statement in I Cor. 6:9-11,
that no adulterer will be in heaven. There is no clause of exception,
no equivocation, no appeal to special cases. No adulterer will be in
heaven. He also names others who won’t be there, homosexuals,
drunkards, etc. Now we understand that he means those who continue in
these types of behaviors as a way of life, because he says, “Such were
some of you. . .” My opponents, however, have created, by their
misapplication of scripture, a class of individuals to whom Paul could
not say this, but would have to say, “Such are some of you. . .” Those
who have been divorced and remarried are, according to them, living in
ongoing, perpetual adultery. It is not that they were adulterers, but
that they are adulterers; and to this Paul’s apostolic teaching stands
unmovable and condemning: they shall not be in heaven. This means, of
course, that they are not saved, and unless one believes in falling
from grace they never have been saved.
opponents have replied to my first paper in scathing language,
insisting that I have deliberately misrepresented their position, that
they have never said, nor even implied, that these divorced and
remarried people are not saved. This response surprises me. Of course
they haven’t said it. This is precisely their problem. They are
contradicting scripture, and they won’t even realize it. If these
divorced one are presently living in adultery, then Paul says they are
not saved, and what my opponents say they believe is irrelevant. This
is what happens when one fails to look at the ultimate results of
positions one takes. They may say anything they wish, but they have
created a class of humans who are beyond the reach of God’s grace by
what they teach.
But I run ahead of myself. They are into heresy and don’t realize
it because they have not been confronted with the question of what they
will answer if one of these divorced persons asked the simple question:
“What must I do to be saved?” Paul had the answer: “Whosoever shall
call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Rom. 10:13); Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. (Acts 16:31).”
But wait! Since our divorced persons are into ongoing adultery, and
since there is no way as they stand before us that they can be out of
that life style, the answer must be that they cannot be saved as they
now are. For if they were, then we would have an adulterer saved, and
Paul states flatly that this cannot be. My opponents must, therefore,
if they are consistent with the position they have taken, tell this
individual that he or she is not savable as they now are, that there is
something they must do before God can save them. Namely, they must get
out of adultery. This is salvation by works, and it is heretical.
My opponents will not face the clear implications of this argument,
although they are simple enough to be understood. But unless they can
show that my argument is wrong, unless they can show how an adulterer’s
being saved can be made to agree with what Paul wrote in I Cor. 6:9-11,
they are in a world of trouble. Of course, they have published a book.
They have a great deal invested in their position. I understand how
difficult it would be to come forward at this point and say, “We were
wrong.” But to clear themselves of the charge of heresy this is what
they must do.
There is another problem with
their position, which I didn’t touch on in my paper, but with which I
will deal briefly now. There is implied blasphemy in what they argue
because they impugn the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. In John 4
Jesus offers salvation to an adulterous woman. By the position they
have taken, pushed to its ultimate conclusion once again, this woman
cannot be saved because she is living in ongoing adultery and was when
Jesus offered her eternal life. What they are arguing (though I know
they don’t realize it) makes either Jesus or Paul wrong.
There is another possibility, however, that clears both our Lord
and Paul. It is the possibility that my opponents are wrong. They are,
and I beg them to admit it.
Paul says that a man who is an heretic, after the first and second admonition reject (Titus 3:10).
Why did he say this? Because people don’t get into heresy (and in this
case close to blasphemy) on purpose. They get into it without realizing
what they are into, and they get into by misapplying God’s word. The
two admonitions are necessary to show them where they are wrong, and if
they will not turn from their error after that, then they are willfully
heretical and must be rejected.
This may be considered my second admonition.
Letter to a brother - Aug 27, 2007
Thank you for your
letter. And thank you particularly for the calm, reasoned and polite
tone you have assumed. When dealing with a subject such as this, a very
volatile and potentially strident subject, there is always a tendency
to get overwrought and angry. You haven't done this, and this is a
comfort. I am attaching a rebuttal response I have prepared. I trust
you will read it closely.
Now, as to your particular questions.
have not said, nor even implied, that these brothers should not be
received to the assemblies. What I have said, in the very last
statement of my paper, is that whether or not they are received is up
to the judgment of the individual assemblies. I have said, however,
that the teaching of perpetual adultery should not be allowed in any
Second: these brothers most
emphatically do not teach salvation by works. They teach salvation by
grace through faith. This is the most troubling part of the problem
they've gotten themselves into. It is by implication that they have
allowed themselves to slide into heresy. They do not realize it
themselves, and this is why they must be confronted in love and allowed
to rethink the position they have taken. The position of perpetual
adultery, when pushed to its ultimate conclusion, amounts to nothing
less than salvation by works.
trust you will find my reply to your letter, and the attached
statement, helpful. And again, I thank you for your polite and reasoned
Your brother in Christ
(and theirs as well),