Monday, October 15, 2012

The Double-Talk of Duluth Bible Church

"[Overseers and deacons like pastor Dennis Rokser of Duluth Bible Church and former pastor Tom Stegall of Word of Grace Bible Church - now on staff at Duluth Bible Church] must be men of dignity, not double-tongued...." (1 Timothy 3:2, 8)

The word “double-tongued” (1 Timothy 3:8) is a translation of the Greek word dilogos which means “speaking double”.1 In more colloquial or conversational English we would say "doublespeak" or "double talk". Similar to John Bunyan’s Parson Mr. Two-Tongues2  in The Pilgrim's Progress, Duluth Bible Church is unfortunately two-tongued in regards to the most important subject in this world and the next - the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

DOUBLE-TALK Example #1: According to Duluth Bible Church, the Gospel INCLUDES and EXCLUDES Christ’s burial and appearances!

  • The Gospel INCLUDES Christ’s burial and appearances: “Hearing the Gospel…the truth of the Gospel began to sink in and make sense to me. Sometime in early August of that year, I understood the Gospel. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:3-5) Saved By God’s Grace I truly became saved! So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)”3
  • The Gospel EXCLUDES Christ’s burial and appearances: “Paul did not consider the burial and appearances to be part of ‘the gospel;”4 “only the substitutionary death and bodily resurrection of Christ are elements of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15, in contrast to the burial and appearances”.5

DOUBLE-TALK Example #2: According to Duluth Bible Church, the Gospel INCLUDES and EXCLUDES Christ’s burial!

  • The Gospel INCLUDES Christ’s burial: “What is ‘the Gospel’? GOSPEL = ‘GOOD NEWS’ For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4…Believe the Gospel and eternal life is yours today!”6JESUS WAS BURIED Jesus Christ was buried in a tomb as stated in the Gospel (The Good News) “…Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3-4).”7
  • The Gospel EXCLUDES Christ’s burial: “the empirical proof of [Christ’s] death was that ‘He was buried’ [1 Cor. 15:4] – which isn’t the gospel but the proof of the gospel”.8

DOUBLE-TALK Example #3: According to Duluth Bible Church, the content of saving faith INCLUDES and EXCLUDES Christ’s burial!

  • The content of saving faith INCLUDES Christ’s burial: “SOLE CONDITION FOR SALVATION We believe the only response to the Gospel of grace which saves a soul from Hell is faith alone in Christ alone, whereby the lost sinner believes that Jesus Christ died for all his sins, was buried, and rose again from the dead (Jn. 1:12; 3:15-18, 5:24, 6:32-40, 8:24; Acts 16:30-31; 1 Cor. 15:1-4, 17).”9
  • The content of saving faith EXCLUDES Christ’s burial: “There are several slight changes within this [doctrinal] statement which you should note: ...The proposed change does not make belief in the historical fact of Christ’s burial a condition upon which a person’s eternal destiny rests…it is therefore not absolutely essential for someone to know about it and believe it in order to go to heaven, as the original statement seemed to indicate.”10

Dear reader, don’t be deceived by the double-talk gospel! For what does the Bible say?

"But let your statement be, 'Yes, yes' or 'No, no'; anything beyond these is of evil." (Matthew 5:37)  -Jesus

“But as God is faithful [reliable, trustworthy], our word to you is not yes and no. For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you…was not yes and no, but is yes in Him.” (2 Corinthians 1:18-19)  -Paul the apostle


ENDNOTES:

1 See the translator’s note (tn #12) on 1 Timothy 3:8 in the NET Bible. SCRIPTURE QUOTED BY PERMISSION. QUOTATIONS DESIGNATED (NET) ARE FROM THE NET BIBLE® COPYRIGHT © 2005 BY BIBLICAL STUDIES PRESS, L.L.C. www.bible.org ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

2 See A. T. Robertson, "Commentary on 1 Timothy 3:8". Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Broadman Press 1932, 1933, Renewal 1960.

3 Wendy Stromberg, “God’s Grace to a Searching Agnostic,” Dennis Rokser, Editor, Trophies Of God’s Grace – Personal Testimonies of God’s Gift of Salvation #1 (Duluth: Duluth Bible Church, 2006), pp. 21-22, bold and italics original, ellipsis added. NOTE: Dennis Rokser is the senior pastor of Duluth Bible Church in Duluth, Minnesota. 

     UPDATE: The previous link (Trophies Of God's Grace - Personal Testimonies of God's Gift of Salvation #1) has been deleted by Duluth Bible Church in their attempt to hide the truth of the Gospel, namely 1 Corinthians 15:3-5. The article "God's Grace to a Searching Agnostic" originally appeared in the May/June 2000 edition of the Duluth Bible Church print publication called The Grace Family Journal. It used to be that all the articles appeared online on the Duluth Bible Church website in the PDF format which showed the original page layout of the print publication. But now all the online Grace Family Journal articles have been retyped or are in the process of being retyped and simply appear online in the HTML format, which is not the original printed layout. The current HTML edition of "God's Grace to a Searching Agnostic" on the Duluth Bible Church website has omitted part of the original article which included the Biblical phrase "and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve" - which is the last part of the quote from 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 cited in the original article. The updated article has also changed the Scripture reference from "1 Corinthians 15:3-5" to "1 Cor. 3:3-5". Of course, this way the web page does not appear in any searches for 1 Corinthians 15:3-5.
     Compare the two articles and specifically notice what has been omitted and changed. In the the original PDF article "God's Grace to a Searching Agnostic" it says (beginning on page 3): "I began attending church regularly, every Sunday and Wednesday, and slowly, over the next month, the truth of the Gospel began to sink in and make sense to me. Sometime in early August of that year, I understood the Gospel. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:3-5) I truly became saved! So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)"
     In the changed HTML article "God's Grace to a Searching Agnostic" it says: "I began attending church regularly, every Sunday and Wednesday, and slowly, over the next month, the truth of the Gospel began to sink in and make sense to me. Sometime in early August of that year, I understood the Gospel. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures. (1 Cor. 3:3-5) [THERE IS NO PERIOD IN THE BIBLE AFTER THE WORD "SCRIPTURES". FURTHERMORE, NOW WHERE IS VERSE 5? IT HAS BEEN REMOVED! AND NOTICE THE INCORRECT SCRIPTURE REFERENCE FOR THE PREVIOUS PASSAGE.] I truly became saved! So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)"

4 Tom Stegall, The Gospel of the Christ
(Milwaukee: Grace Gospel Press, 2009), p. 579, italics original.  NOTE: Tom Stegall is the former pastor of Word of Grace Bible Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Word of Grace Bible Church is a church-plant of Duluth Bible Church.) He is currently on staff at Duluth Bible Church.

5 Ibid., p. 585.

6 This statement is printed on the back cover of a gospel tract from Stegall’s former church (Word of Grace Bible Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin). The tract is titled “CHRIST HAS BRIDGED THE GULF”. Bold and caps original, ellipsis added.

7 Dennis Rokser, GOOD NEWS! – Unfolding The Answer To Life’s Greatest Puzzle! (Duluth: Duluth Bible Church, no date), p. 5, bold, caps, italics, and ellipsis original.

8 Dennis Rokser, “Is The Resurrection An Essential Part Of The Gospel?, Pt 2” [time stamp (approx.): 22 min. 30 sec.], Duluth Bible Church midweek service, Wednesday, April 11, 2012, bold added.

9 Word of Grace Bible Church Constitution, Article 3: Doctrinal Statement, “SOLE CONDITION FOR SALVATION” (dated: “September 7, 2003”), p. 5, second bold added.

10 Tom Stegall, "Proposed Change” to the “SOLE CONDITION FOR SALVATION,” Word of Grace Bible Church handout (circa 2007), n.p., bold and italics original.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Q & A with George Meisinger about the Gospel

Dr. George Meisinger is the current President of Chafer Theological Seminary (CTS) - "a non-crossless Free Grace school".1 Meisinger is also on the Board of Reference for the Free Grace Alliance (FGA). I appreciate this dear brother in Christ and the stand he takes for the gospel of grace.

In a CTS newsletter article titled "LETTER FROM THE CTS PRESIDENT," Meisinger writes:

"Supporters of CTS often ask me, What is my stand regarding the gospel? I follow the revelation from Paul: I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according the the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve (1 Cor. 15:3-5). This message - particularly that He died for our sin - is very good news indeed. Thus, Paul put Jesus' death on the Cross in a primary position as he evangelized; he resolved to make known nothing among the Corinthians except Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2). Paul's example of doing evangelism is a pattern we should follow, not minimize."2


ENDNOTES:

1 Tom Stegall, The Gospel of the Christ (Milwaukee: Grace Gospel Press, 2009), p. 577. NOTE: It's necessary to point out that Stegall disagrees with the traditional Free Grace interpretation of the gospel. For more information see the article "The Strange Beliefs of Stegall's System" by Jonathan Perreault.

2 George Meisinger, "Letter from the President," EQUIPPING THE SAINTS, A newsletter from Chafer Theological Seminary, Volume 3, Issue 2 (December 2007): p. 4, italics his. For further discussion see the article "The Gospel Paul Preached: A Church Age Model of Evangelistic Content" by George Meisinger.