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)

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A Member of Tom Stegall's Church Reasons that his Pastor should Debate

New INFORMATION:
Bob Wilkin told me himself that Zane Hodges would join Bob in a debate if Dennis Rokser and Tom Stegall would field the other side; or even if Dennis or Tom wished to bring in another. Zane Hodges, 74 years old, would take the stage and defend his biblical position against those who have publically shamed him! Where are the Duluthian Antagonists who are so fierce on paper but have ran from the public accountability of an open forum and debate? They have shriveled back into dastard discomfiture.

The following is a comment left in the post entitled When asked to put up they back down

The author is a member of Tom Stegall's church, a Mr. Jonathan Perreault. I believe his comments are appropriate and reasonable.

"DBC" stands for Duluth Bible Church, pastored by Dennis Rokser.
"WOGBC" stands for Word of Grace Bible Church, pastored by Tom Stegall.

To set this up, here are a few of my comments:

Dennis Rokser, Tom Stegall, Lou Martuneac, and Greg Schliesmann want to scold and reprimand the Grace Evnagelical Society in public but only in written form. When the opportunity comes to discuss these things in a personal and public forum, the boldness shrinks away. Such an unwillingness to debate where real consequences can be at stake, manifests itself in the way that these outspoken antagonists are shrinking back into recreant discomposure.

So they will continue to publish their bitter rants, in the safety and solace of the written page; leaving us all wondering how we are to take such men seriously when they feel no moral compunction to stand their ground and defend their attacks against those whom they shame and misrepresent.

Antonio,

I am a member of Word of Grace Bible Church and my pastor is Tom Stegall. I must say that I do not agree with the gospel that you and GES are espousing (as I understand it). Nonetheless, even before I read your article, I had come to the same conclusions as yourself regarding DBC's and WOGBC's refusal to publicly debate GES. I believe a public debate concerning the truth of the gospel upholds at least the following Biblical truths:

1) Reasoning together (Isaiah 1:18)

2) Reasoning in the synagogue, marketplace, and Areopagus (Acts 17:17-21)

3) Always being ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15)

4) Personal and public confrontation concerning the truth of the gospel (Galatians 2:11-14)

5) Meeting at the Jerusalem church concerning the truth of the gospel (Acts 15:1-21)

Besides what I have said above, consider the following:

1) The GES gospel teaching is ALREADY well known, having been in circulation for at least two years (as I understand it)[Ed. Note: The GES positoin has been around for over a dozen years]. In fact, DBC has already taught at least two seminars on this very issue! Supposing this GES gospel teaching is false, what innocence of the flock is there to guard?

2) As you said, the public debate DOESN'T have to be held in a DBC affiliated church, or any church for that matter (as Bob Wilkin said in his letter, the particular's of the debate are open to negotiation).

3)No matter where the debate takes place, DBC and WOGBC would obviously be DEBATING and DISAGREEING with the GES gospel, not approving it.

4) Many Christians (even Christians at DBC and WOGBC) already regularly expose themselves to theological debates - and therefore false teaching (whether it regards Catholicism, Evolution, Mormonism, or now the GES gospel). Furthermore, many of these debates are probably not held at DBC or WOGBC, and so there is probably not as much opportunity for the correct doctrine to be reinforced in the minds of those that attend.

5)Both sides (DBC & Co. and GES) should ALREADY be prepared to debate, since this has been an issue (and has even been publicly taught) for at least two years.

Thank you very much, Jonathan, for your well reasoned and articulate plea for those who have publicly sounded the war cry against fellows who share a rich heritage with themselves to stand up for what they charge in a public forum. For in this time being they are free from the direct cross-examination of those brothers in Christ who they vehemently oppose and shame with a constant barrage of theological name calling. Can their claims withstand the scrutiny of a debate where the straw men arguments cannot work; where their charges can be examined by those who they level them against; where they can be asked penetrating questions probing their actual disagreements? We may never know as long as they remain recluse...

12 Comments:

Blogger Lou Martuneac said...

Antonio/All:

For your multiple reasons of your own doing, I am putting you (and the blog community) on notice.

Basing my decision on the principle set forth in Romans 16:17, which states, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”

Antonio, for demonstrating a spirit of unrestrained aggression, unchristian like combativeness, agitating for and causing “divisions and offences” you have forfeited the privilege to participate at my blog.

Post whatever you please at your site, but you may not post here again.

I will, of course discontinue my participation at your blog.


LM

September 03, 2007 11:17 AM  
Blogger Jeremy Myers said...

Antonio,

Thanks for posting this. Most alarming of all, is that I have learned that Lou is now publicly rebuking Jonathan Perreault for publicly criticizing his pastor, Greg Schliesmann. Lou goes on to say:

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.

Hmmmm...public lambasting of a brother in Christ is not how to handle things Biblically? What does Lou think he is doing to Zane, Bob, Antonio, myself, and others?

But most of all, I hurt of Jonathan. I hope his pastor, Greg, does not rebuke Jonathan or bring him in for church discipline. I have been a pastor, and know that while pastors want to do these sorts of things to people in their church who disagree with them, such behavior is a sign of spiritual abuse, cultish tendencies, and reveals a complete lack of grace.

Jonathan, whatever disagreements you and I may have, thank you for having the courage to speak up. If you are being taken to task by your pastor for your comments, I encourage you to purchase and read The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen.

September 03, 2007 2:21 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

The following was a response to a letter Lou Martuneac sent me:

Lou,

You are innapropriate. Why do you continue to shame and demean me? You call
my motives and person into question. You my friend are the "spiritually
immature"
[note: he has called me this on several occasions] one.

[you write:]
He is often banned and/or reprimanded at blogs for this and other poor choices in behavior

I am often? Where, and what blogs? Please name them and give examples. I have been banned from one blog, and this is because he did not want any free grace material on it.

You are shady. Watch your step over at my blogs. If you have any more violations, you will be banned forever from posting on them.

Furthermore, I find nothing wrong with Jon's post. He states that he is in disagreement with the GES prosition, but publically wonders why his pastor will not debate, and furthermore provides biblical substantiation why he should. I am disclosing his comments on my blog.

Antonio da Rosa

September 03, 2007 7:13 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

A friend of Jonathan Perreault wrote me this letter:

Dear Antonio,

I wanted to write to you and introduce myself and share a few concerns. I am a close friend of Jonathan Perreault. We went to Moody Bible Institute together. Though I am not a member of Tom Stegall's church, I know Tom and
have visited his church many times.

Let me say from the offset, that I do not agree with the position of GES on what has now become called "The Crossless Gospel Debate." I side with Duluth on this. However, with that said I think they could have addressed
their concerns better and with more scholarly aptitude. Even though Jonathan and I disagree with your position, we have found ourselves agreeing with many things you have said on your blog.

I wanted to write to you about Lou's recent blog. He has viciously attacked you and Jonathan. His blog post was very acerbic and unfair. It was ad
hominem. Have you read his September 2nd post on you and Jonathan?

Jonathan and I got together yesterday for fellowship. I suggested he respond to Lou and see if you will allow him to post his comments on your blog. Lou's attacks were unfair, harsh, and just downright wrong. Where is the love here?

I have never in my life seen a theological debate spiral out of control like this and get so personal.

This name calling and nastiness is not going to solve anything and it is not bringing honor and glory to Christ. I am disappointed with Lou and Duluth in the way they are
responding.

I would love to hear from you when you get the chance.

In Christian love,

[kept anonymous]

September 03, 2007 7:18 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

This is another note from Jon Perreault's friend, who by the way, disagrees with the GES position.


Dear Antonio,

Thank you for your grace in which you wrote. I was disturbed by Lou's comments on this issue today:

Antonio/All:

For your multiple reasons of your own doing, I am putting you (and the blog community) on notice.

Basing my decision on the principle set forth in Romans 16:17, which states, "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences
contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."

Antonio, for demonstrating a spirit of unrestrained aggression, unchristian like combativeness, agitating for and causing "divisions and offences" you have forfeited the privilege to participate at my blog.

Post whatever you please at your site, but you may not post here again.

I will, of course discontinue my participation at your blog.


LM



Antonio, will you please address these accusations on your blog? It appears that Lou [is] the one being combative here,
not you. Lou is coming across very vicious.

I think in the near future I would like to put something on your blog.

Thank you again brother!

[identity witheld]

September 03, 2007 7:25 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Jeremy,

thanks for the comments.

It actually is Tom Stegall and not Greg S.

I have read and re-read Jon Perreault's short opinion, and I could not find a single place where he has brought Tom Stegall into disrepute.

From what I see he has laid out an argument in favor of a public debate, and no more.

For the record, he merely stated that he disagrees with his pastor's decision not to debate. This is the extent of his mention of Tom.

Only in some alternate universe could such reasonable language, as employed by Mr. Perreault, be construed as "public lambasting" as Lou Martuneac has erroneously claimed.

By far, of any personality yet to present an opinion, Mr. Perreault's has been the most gracious and reasonable. He obviously is a man of integrity and principle.

I think you nailed it when you wrote:

I have been a pastor, and know that while pastors want to do these sorts of things to people in their church who disagree with them, such behavior is a sign of spiritual abuse, cultish tendencies, and reveals a complete lack of grace.

I feel for Jon too. He has done nothing wrong; as if a mere disagreement with a pastor should merit any consequences. Such activity, if it should come from Tom Stegall, would only continue to substantiate the impressions one gets of him from his writings. His articles are full of vitriole and pejoratives. If there be any discipline of Jon for the reasonable stating of his views, Tom's abusive behavior in person (rather than just in writing) will be confirmed.

Thanks for your excellent commentary.

Antonio

September 03, 2007 8:41 PM  
Blogger Lou Martuneac said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 03, 2007 9:10 PM  
Blogger Jeremy Myers said...

Antonio,

Oops. I misunderstood which church Jonathan attended. Thanks for pointing out to me that he attends Tom's church, not Greg's.

September 03, 2007 11:11 PM  
Blogger Lou Martuneac said...

Pardon the interruption, but I need to enter Antonio’s blog(s) for two reasons.

1) My use of “public lambasting” was an overstatement. For that phrase I apologize. I revise my remarks down to what I did write in my extended notes on Antonio’s handling of JP’s public criticism of the pastor (Tom Stegall) of his home church.

The revised paragraph now reads, “The Bible speaks on how to address personal conflicts in the church. Public criticism of a brother-in-Christ, let alone the pastor of the church where you attend regularly, is NOT among them.

Had JP followed and exhausted biblical principles to resolve his concerns, and had resigned his membership of that local church, he then may have been considered without blame for taking his personal problem with his pastor to the public at Antonio’s blog.


The full text can and should be viewed by every visitor to this blog. My complete remarks can be viewed in the thread under, A Snap Shot of the "Crossless" gospel Debate.

2) I stand by my criticism and rebuke of JP for taking a personal dispute with the pastor of his home church to a public forum. JP did not follow Scriptural principles for handling this type of interpersonal dispute. JP was wrong to do it, and it indicates a general lack of spiritual discernment and personal integrity.


LM

September 04, 2007 7:38 AM  
Blogger jonperreault said...

Jeremy,

I sincerely thank you for your pastoral words of encouragement, genuine concern, spiritual insights, and book recommendation.

Thank you again,
Jonathan Perreault

September 04, 2007 12:18 PM  
Blogger jonperreault said...

At the encouragement of some Christian friends and my personal hope to encourage our comments to continue to go back to the Bible and a focus toward the truth of the gospel, I would like to list “Ten points to ponder in the discussion of an open forum/public debate about the truth of the gospel” (Revised September 4, 2007):

1. The topics under discussion are obviously PUBLIC issues, and public teaching can be addressed publicly. (In fact, Pastor Tom Stegall even affirms this truth in his “Open Letter to the Free Grace Community”. See www.duluthbible.org).

Jesus replied, “I have spoken publicly to the world. I always taught in the synagogues and in the temple courts, where all the Jewish people assemble together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said. They know what I said.” (John 18:20-21, NET)

2. The GES gospel teaching is ALREADY well known, having been in circulation for at least two years (as I understand it). In fact, Duluth Bible Church (DBC) has already taught at least two public seminars on this very issue! Supposing this GES gospel teaching is false, what innocence of the flock is there to guard (Acts 20:28-30)?

3. Many Christians (even Christians at DBC and Word of Grace Bible Church) ALREADY regularly expose themselves to theological debates - and therefore false teaching (whether it regards Catholicism, Evolutionism, Mormonism, or now the GES gospel). Furthermore, many of these debates are probably not held at DBC or Word of Grace Bible Church (WOGBC), and so there is probably not as much opportunity for the correct doctrine (NOTE: Notice I said “correct doctrine”, indicating that I believe DBC and WOGBC to be teaching correct doctrine, generally speaking.) to be reinforced in the minds of those that attend.

4. Both sides (DBC & Co. and GES) should ALREADY be prepared to publicly debate, since this has been an issue (and has even been publicly taught) for at least two years.

5. An open forum/public debate DOESN'T have to be held in a DBC affiliated church, or any church for that matter. Bob Wilkin says on the GES website that the particulars of the debate are open to negotiation: “If you agree to debate, we can discuss the particulars.
I hope you will accept this offer. This will give each of us an opportunity to show why we believe the Scriptures support our position.”

6. Regardless of where the open forum/public debate takes place, DBC and WOGBC would obviously be DEBATING and DISAGREEING with the GES gospel, not approving it.

7. Bob Wilkin says he is OPEN to Scriptural truth concerning the gospel. He writes on the GES website, “If it can be shown from the Scriptures that any of those charges are true, I will change my views” (emphasis his). This statement is very significant!

8. Bob Wilkin’s offer of an open forum/public debate was issued to my Pastor Tom Stegall of Word of Grace Bible Church (and Pastor Dennis Rokser of Duluth Bible Church, a church I am associated with). I BIBLICALLY DISAGREE with my Pastor’s (and Pastor Dennis Rokser’s) public decision to refuse Bob’s offer of an open forum/public debate concerning the truth of the gospel. (Note: A Biblical disagreement on a public issue is quite different from a public assault, lambasting, attack, or wrong-doing.) Since neither Pastor Stegall nor Pastor Rokser cited any Scripture supporting their public refusal to an open forum/public debate concerning the truth of the gospel (that I have seen), can you really blame me?

These Jews were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they eagerly received the message, examining the scriptures carefully every day to see if these things were so. (Acts 17:11, NET, emphasis mine)

To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isaiah 8:20, NKJV)

9. As I’ve said before (and will repeat for clarification and emphasis), I believe an open forum/public debate concerning the truth of the gospel upholds at least the following seven Biblical principles:

a) Reasoning together (Isaiah 1:18)

b) Reasoning in the synagogue, marketplace, and Areopagus (Acts 17:17-21)

c) Always being ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for
the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence (1 Peter 3:15)

d) Taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16)

e) With gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 2:24- 26)

f) Personal and public confrontation concerning the truth of the gospel (Galatians 2:11-14)

g) Meeting at the Jerusalem church concerning the truth of the gospel (Acts 15:1- 21)

10. I want to encourage Pastor Tom Stegall (and Pastor Dennis Rokser) to this OPPORTUNITY and GOOD WORK of defending the gospel and ministering Scriptural truths to Bob Wilkin (and others) by accepting his negotiable offer to an open forum/public debate (and I urge others to encourage them to this end as well):

your zeal to participate has stirred up most of them (2 Corinthians 9:2b, NET)

And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works (Heb. 10:24, NET)

And who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? (1 Peter 3:13, NAS)

September 04, 2007 12:31 PM  
Blogger Jeremy Myers said...

Jonathan,

Thank you for the well written, gracious, and biblical explanation for why you think your pastor should engage in this current debate as you have laid out.

It takes boldness to disagree with your pastor, and I think you have done so with truth and love. Hopefully, he will respond to you in the same way.

September 04, 2007 7:55 PM  

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