Something I Need to Say


It has been brought to my attention that my candor has given some people a false impression of my own beliefs. My understanding is that a lot of that false impression is from reading into a comment I made on Bob Hayton’s blog. Bob Hayton was a student here at Fairhaven and he helped me on my bus route. He has forsaken fundamentalism for a blend of contemporary, new evangelical, reformed Baptist Christianity (I think that would describe it right).

The following is a dialog I had with a friend who read my comment to Bob Hayton’s “Story and Critique.” I apprecieate his candor and willingness to approach me directly about his concerns.

The title for this post was the subject line of his email to me.

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January 9, 2006
Dear Jeff,

What led me to send you the two letters to Bob was your favorable reply to “his story,” on his blog, which I only saw because of Tim Dunkin’s reference to a piece of garbage Bob wrote on Doug Kutilek’s forum. I never knew that Bob was doing these kinds of things, and then Bob links to his blog and I read this version of what happened here that makes Bob look like a hero. It would take me several hours to actually write everything that went wrong with Bob. You wrote to him like he has a lot of good things to say. I really don’t understand what you have written. It concerned me, so I sent along those letters to you. So far, you haven’t responded to any of it. I assume that you are busy. It seems you have had your doctoral, a library move, your regular responsibilities, your wife, the two girls; many things. However, that was a rather long, voluntary response to Bob to his “story,” a hunk of lies to make him look good, leaving out many, many details of how bad he actually was. You seem to be encouraging him in this, and I don’t get it.

Sincerely,

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January 9, 2006
Dear ————-,

I gathered that I was being included because of my response to his story on Bob’s Blog. Something you said in the first letter hinted toward that. I must say that I did not get any kind of bad picture about [your church] in my mind from reading “his story.” You stated that I wrote that Bob had a lot of good things to say and that you did not understand what I had written. I had to look it up myself to remember what I had written, so I copied it and pasted it below. I will try to explain my statements within them below. I haven’t responded to the letters because I felt I was just being “kept aware” of something that was going on between two other people. I also just got the second one last night and that was followed by Bob’s response to you (that’s just the way I happened to see and read them). After reading all of Bob’s writings, there’s not much time left to write responses! I know I don’t normally write lengthy pieces, so yes, my response was long, but not that long–it is pasted below. I suppose I was encouraging him in some ways, I can think of two. First, if he truly loves God more deeply, feels a closer walk with God, etc, I am happy for him (I’m sure he could be lying to himself and everyone that reads his blog, but if not, I’m happy for him). Second, I would like him to talk, I, personally, am not satisfied with my own responses to many things in “fundamentalism.” If he talks, it will help me to see where we as a college and church can help to prevent this from happening in other people’s lives. . . . . So now for the explanation of my comment on Bob’s blog…

Hi Bob, this looks like it will be a very interesting blog. This is a greeting neither favorable nor unfavorable.

Let me say first, that I respect your decisions, and can in some way understand your points of view. Without knowing all that went on there at [your church] (and really thinking more about my own involvement in Bob’s life — he was on my bus for several years), I stated that I had respect for the decisions he made. This is a favorable statement and the one about some way understanding his point of view is also. Doctrinally, he has accepted much of what many that we study believe. He has overreacted to the standards we espouse. I guess my favorable stance here is toward the “old” theologians that espouse some of the same things. I guess right now I’m not so dogmatic in my beliefs as to say that so many great men of the past had it all wrong — maybe I’m wrong about some things — I am human.

I am very happy to hear the news of your family and its growth especially spiritually. This is favorable. He reported growth.

While not really wanting to get into arguments, I wonder if you would listen to some sermons I have preached (SermonAudio Sermons) and let me know if they are more of the typical fundamentalist type of sermon, or if you would think they are an attempt at biblical hermeneutics. I know you may not have time to listen to lots of sermons, but you did invite us to listen to other sermons in this post. You and I both have heard enough “fundamentalist type” sermons to know what I was getting at here. Bob took my class in hermeneutics also.

I will say that I have read some of John Piper’s sermons and been helped by some of them. While looking for some other resources to “finish up” a sermon in my Galatians series I ran across John Piper’s sermons in text form. I read two of them. There were a few points in them that helped me understand or articulate what I thought the passage taught. There were also some things I questioned. I don’t think this is favorable or unfavorable.

I know you admitted in your letter to the possibility of you being wrong about some things, so I ask (on behalf of fundamentalists that are not IFBx – at least I don’t think I’m extreme) for grace, you should know more about this than us. Please be gracious with us, someday we’ll come to know the truth also. And as we do, we’ll attempt to practice it in our churches. This is “tongue in cheek.” Those that “accept” the doctrines of grace, should know better than anyone else that even their knowledge of God’s grace is because of God’s grace. Those who have not yet learned what they already know, have not yet experienced God’s grace in this part of their life — all the more reason for being gracious toward us who have not yet experienced the grace of God that they have experienced.

Personally, I’m not so stuck on being a fundamentalist as I am on following God’s Word as closely as possible in my personal life, my public life, and in my church. This is spoken from the heart. I’ve seen a little, and heard/read a ton about IFBx (Hyles, Gray, etc — strong leadership/weak Bible). I truly want to apply the Bible to myself personally, publicly and in our church — things like singing psalms, more structured church discipline, etc.

I look forward to reading your posts. I’ll probably add your blog to my outlook reader. I think I explained this in my introduction…..

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January 9, 2006
Jeff,

I’m sitting here working on a couple of things at once, and since I have broadband, I leave up the email. I’ll answer you at once. Know this, that when I write you, it is private, and we are friends. When I say I am concerned and don’t understand, that’s exactly what I mean. I do believe that some of Bob’s critique is true, but it is sort of like Sanballat and Tobiah with Nehemiah. Some of what they said was true. I didn’t know where your mind was, and I would rather know than guess when I read what you wrote. I understand now. I’m actually glad you are thinking through things. Bob, in his story says bad things about you guys, people can figure it out, and then about Independent, a church of like faith and practice. He glorifies Piper’s place. That bothers me about as much as if he went after us. I’ve read your dad’s messages in your paper [the Fundamentalist] and he doesn’t want externalism. He wants real living faith from the inside out for himself and others. I think how you go about getting that can be a problem, and I like talking about that. The methodology needs to be evaluated and changed if it’s wrong, no matter what the consequences. Thanks for your answer. I know you’re busy.

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January 9, 2006
Thanks for asking for clarification rather than just wondering!

Jeff

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January 9, 2006
I was just thinking that we could do a good cop, bad cop with someone. Unfortunately, I think, I would have to play the bad cop. Smiles. Anyway, if I can space these out, you might get nothing done, sort of like trying to pull in to busy traffic, just enough cars to keep you stationary.

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March 8, 2006
Dear ——–,

Would you please review our “back and forth” here below and let me know if there’s anything you would not want to be made public. Thanks,

Jeff

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March 10, 2006
I don’t object to anything there, especially on your blog. It would, I’m afraid, serve just to make Bob’s blog more popular if you posted it over there. In a sense, I was finished with Bob, and this might make it seem like I’m trying to keep it going with him, but I’ll just leave it to your discretion.

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2 Comments

  1. I have decided to delete Bob’s response to my post.

    He was very gracious and kind. He said a lot of things that show that he does not hate fundamentalists. But, it seems, he must always catalogue his differences with fundamentalism whenever the topic comes up, and I don’t want to have those things published here. They are published in enough other places.

    What he said here, is not lost forever; he also posted it on his blog.

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