Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Commentary on Lou Martuneac and the Duluthians in the Matter of this Public Debate

The following is a comment by a Mr. Liam Moran, graduate from Moody Bible Institute, and friend to Jonathan Perreault. I have allowed him space to share his mind on the events at hand. There are scattered notes that are my inclusion, marked off by brackets. Thank you Liam for your reasonable and balanced views. We can all learn something from them.

I am writing this post in response to Lou Martuneac’s comments which he posted on September 2nd, 2007 on his blog. The following are his remarks for consideration:
Sunday, September 02, 2007
I post this in the comments section to expand on why I have noted that Antonio da Rosa is a “spiritually immature (young) man.”

I do not post that kind of opinion lightly, and have good, demonstrable reason to do so. There are numerous examples and levels of immaturity that are very evident with Antonio. His harsh, pugilistic tones, his deletion of comments from his blog that he will call “rants” because they uncover truths that he wants to keep hidden. He is often banned and reprimanded at blogs that are moderated for unchristian and immature behavior.

There is, however, no starker example of da Rosa’s spiritual immaturity than what transpired late last week. A person who goes by jonperrault (JP) posted at three sites including my own what can be described as a personal attack and/or negative criticism against Pastor Tom Stegall. The most disconcerting aspect of this is that JP, at Antonio’s site, identified himself as a member of Pastor Stegall’s church: Word of Grace Bible Church.

JP publicly criticized the pastor (Tom Stegall) of his home church and the Duluth Bible Church (Dennis Rokser). JP took sides with da Rosa over the decision of Pastor Stegall (& Rokser) to decline Bob Wilkin’s invitation to an open debate on the “Crossless” gospel.

To reiterate: JP posted comments at three sites that were highly critical of the pastor of his home church.

Enter Antonio da Rosa’s shocking immaturity. The following is primarily in reference to the post by JP and da Rosa’s reply, which can be viewed under, When Asked to Put Up, They Back Down.

A spiritually mature man would have recognized the impropriety of what JP did. Instead, da Rosa gleefully receives this personal assault on Ps. Stegall by JP. Antonio stated to JP that he (da Rosa) is going to publish as a post the critical comments by JP.

It meant nothing to da Rosa that JP, a member of the Word of Grace church, publicly criticized the pastor. I can state flatly that had JP been criticizing some pastor other than a man who has written in objection to the “Crossless” gospel, da Rosa would have brushed these criticisms aside and may even have deleted them. What da Rosa does in this case, however, is seize upon a chance to use a member of Ps. Stegall’s church as a weapon to discredit and undermine the leadership and ministry of Pastor Stegall not just in the “Crossless” debate, but within his own church.

The spiritually immaturity of da Rosa does not end there. Antonio encouraged JP to contact him (da Rosa) by private e-mail to further develop the relationship and cooperate on formulating what are likely to be more personal assaults on Pastor Stegall by JP.

A spiritually mature man, a man of integrity, would not have seized on the blatant wrong-doing of one man and seek to use and develop it into a weapon to be used against the pastor of that man’s local church. Antonio, however, clearly is NOT a man of integrity or spiritual maturity. This latest incident removes any doubt!

Antonio is deeply confused in his doctrine of the Gospel, and he is consumed with attacking any person who shares a legitimate criticism of the teachings of Zane Hodges, and he has clouded his judgment by a reckless passion to turn a doctrinal debate into an all out personality war.

Until, today I left JP’s comment at my blog, because it was posted by JP at two other sites. Now that I have addressed it I am doing what Antonio would have done if he had the spiritual maturity and integrity to do it I the first place. I am deleting the comment by JP, and rebuking him for publicly criticizing the pastor of his home church.

The Bible speaks on how to address conflicts in the church. A public lambasting of a brother-in-Christ, let alone the pastor of the church where you attend regularly is NOT among them. Antonio da Rosa does not have the spiritual discernment or maturity to know and understand these things.

In keeping with his usual predictable form, I fully expect da Rosa to lash out with another retaliatory, personal ad hominen attack.

His doing so will further demonstrate and cement his spiritual immaturity in the mind of any objective observer.

After reading the above post by Lou, I felt compelled to publish my concerns. I am deeply troubled by what I see going on in this debate. I have never seen a theological debate spiral so out of control and get as personal this has become. I believe that this is cause for concern.

My intent here is not to delve into the issues of the debate. Let me say from the offset that I do not agree with the GES teachings on the issue. I am concerned by what appears to be a “shift” [Ed. Note: better - “refinement”] in their teachings on certain doctrines in recent years. I agree with the Duluthians in that they are raising some serious concerns that need to be addressed [Ed. Note: the GES has some major concerns about them as well] . However, with that said, I feel their method of communicating these issues to the public are cause for concern. My point here is not to delve into the theological issues regarding to the debate but to address the proper method of this debate.

Lou’s post here is one of the most egregious examples of ad hominem I have ever seen. For Lou to accuse others of ad hominem is “the pot calling the kettle black.” Jonathan Perreault in no way “assaulted” or “lambasted” his pastor. He was trying to reason with him regarding the issue of Tom and Dennis debating Bob Wilkin. These are public issues and are in the public forum. Therefore, it is in no way inappropriate to respond publicly. Paul and Barnabas had a “sharp” disagreement over John Mark (Acts 15:39). If anyone in church history could accuse someone of “undermining his leadership” it would have been the great apostle Paul. But I do not see in Scripture where Paul rebuked Barnabas (or Barnabas rebuking Paul). In fact, we see later that Paul changed his mind about John Mark (2 Tim. 4:11). Jonathan should be able to communicate his disagreement without worry of verbal retaliation by his pastor or others of like mind [Ed. Note: who do so under a ‘biblical’ guise]. There are others in the Free Grace camp who feel that Tom and Dennis should have accepted the offer to debate [Ed. Note: Its not too late!] Are they “assaulting” Tom by their reasonable opinions? Is disagreeing with someone over whether or not Tom and Dennis should have said “yes” to the debate a “church conflict” “an assault” or “lambasting?” I think not.

Lou never once addressed Jonathan’s biblical reasons describing why he felt his pastor should have accepted the offer. Rather, he attacked Jonathan and Antonio da Rosa. This is a classic example of ad hominem [Ed. Note: not to mention presumptious]. Though Lou has since revised some of what he said, he is standing by his comments on Jonathan Perreault. Lou’s further ad hominem approach is seen by his frequent use of the designation “young man” describing those he opposes. The fact that Lou makes it a point to mention this appears to me to be a further violation of the principle Paul sets forth in 1 Tim. 4:12. It seems Lou is trying to attack the credibility of what he perceives to be the folly of a “young man.”

Obviously, Lou feels that Bob Wilkin needs to be debated, thus his offer [Ed. Note: It makes me wonder why Lou has changed his mind…]. This appears to be an inconsistency. It seems that Lou is in effect defending Tom and Dennis for choosing not to debate but now he now wants to?

Paul says in Philippians 4:5a, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone (ESV).” We are also called to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). Unfortunately, I do not see these principles along with 1 Cor. 13:4-7 being consistently applied here by Lou or the Duluthians.

This militant, combative, belligerent and fundamentalist type of debating is not biblical nor is it glorifying to the Lord. It solves nothing.

Furthermore, after reading Lou’s blogs and interactions with Jeremy Myers, I have gotten the impression that Lou is asking “trick questions” to supporters of GES. This appears to be an attempt to trap them into saying something that Lou can then go and post on his blog. Accusing the GES of heresy. This “cloak and dagger” approach to ministry is not biblical. It is understandable why Myers would wait to post responses and be cautious before responding to Lou.

Bob Wilkin and Zane Hodges are well-recognized, erudite Bible scholars. They are skilled exegetes. If Bob is going to “change his mind” and “repent” then it is going to happen after careful exegetical examination of his arguments are done. Bob is not going to change his mind through nasty rhetoric. His arguments from the gospel of John must be examined and refuted [Ed. Note: well, examined anyway]. This debate will only be solved through an exegesis of Scripture. While I agree with Tom Stegall’s concerns, I am concerned by his approach in the GFJ, Grace Family Journal. In the Summer 2007 issue, on p. 17 at the very end of Stegall’s article it says, “The next article will begin to explain the basis and rationale for the [GES position] as espoused by its proponents. How did they and why are they teaching this?” (emphasis mine). Tom should have begun his two articles in this manner, addressing their rationale first; not two articles later. Rather, Tom started out with his conclusions in a pejorative manner. This has come across as reactionary and pretentious. I believe the concerns would have been better received had Tom started out first with the GES rationale and then in his last article laid out his conclusions. By Tom not doing so, he has “put the cart before the horse.”

There seems to be a fanatical obsession with Bob “changing his views.” I would love for Bob, Zane and Jeremy (and others) to retract their position on this [Ed. Note: I would love for the GES position to be understood and fairly represented] . However, if they are going to do so, the approach that has been taken by the other side will not accomplish this. Their reactionary, ad hominem style of debate is only going to cause those trying to be reached to be even less receptive and leave them on the defensive.

This belligerent approach to ministry lacks a spirit of love and grace. I do not sense a “grace-oriented” attitude by my fellow brothers (who I happen to agree with) on the Duluthian side. This is not how Christ has called us to dialogue. Furthermore, it lacks a.) scholarly aptitude b.) it is unprofessional c.) it is not a dealing objectively with the issues and d.) it is not being reasonable. It surely does not present a good testimony.

I am in no way trying to attack, assault or lambaste the ministry of Lou or our Duluthian brothers. In fact, I have been very blessed by their ministry and I enjoy the ministry of the GFJ. I know God has used them. However, after reading the blogs, the journals and especially after Lou’s acerbic blog post, I feel compelled to bring forth my concerns.

I am extending a plea to stop the unprofessional vicious name-calling rhetoric and ad hominem arguments. Let’s please get this debate back to the Bible and to the exegesis.


Blogger Jeremy Myers said...


Thanks for this well reasoned post. You are absolutely right that the way forward in this debate is through careful and proper exegesis of texts with a spirit of love, humility, and teachableness on all sides.

Truth in love,

September 10, 2007 7:44 AM  

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