Monday, October 15, 2012

The Double-Talk of Duluth Bible Church

"[Overseers and deacons like Pastors Dennis Rokser and Tom Stegall of 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 apostle Paul say? “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, NASB) 


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.

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.

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