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PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 11:07 pm 
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I've been thinking for days about how to reply to your kind post without sounding like I am trying to get you when I say that I am not trying to get you! :lol: The point of this thread, and the point of my posts, is not to get anyone, but to point out some of the fallacies that have characterized NTM teaching over the years.

I agree with the points you made; we certainly need to be humble and open to correction as we study God's Word, and doubly so as we seek to share it with others. Like I told Raz above, I had almost all the answers when I went away to NTBI in 1972; I could hardly wait to learn the few things I still didn't know. Ah! Youth. . . .

Humility is not quite the same thing as uncertainty, any more than certainty is the same as pride. We need not be hesitant or equivocal when we proclaim God's love; God is love, not it seems to me that God is probably love. I know whom I have believed. We know that all things work together for good to them that love God. These are not opinions; they are revelation, and we can be sure of their truth. It is from such certainty that our passions arise.

At the same time, we see through a glass darkly; we know in part, not in full, and there will be places where honest differences in understanding are . . . well, are understandable. In fact, there will even be differences in understanding about which areas are legitimate and which are heretical. "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind."


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:39 pm 
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Arara Azul wrote:
Here are some questions that I have been wrestling with -

Type of sin and forgivness:

Forgiveness of sins in ignorance, weakness or bondage, etc. (Either by overlooking the sin or by bringing it to the attention of the offender so that he/she has an opportunity to repent – as many times as necessary, assuming sincere repentance.)

Forgiveness of defiant sins – unrepentant sinner – is this possible? I.e. the offender knows he has committed sin; the offender persists in sinning. (There is a point where it becomes impossible for a person to repent.)

Authority and forgiveness:

Forgiving sins that are illegal (that is, sins that also break the laws of the land):
1. ‘Forgiveness’ by not reporting / not pressing charges…at what point does the church become accomplice?
(Question for the lawyers!) What exactly does the church ‘forgive’ in this case? Examples:
a. Church member who is speeding and cuts you off
b. Jean Valjean (main character in Le Miserable)
c. an NTM pedophile

2. ‘Forgiveness’ of a sin that illegal but committed outside the jurisdiction of the laws of the land? What should the church do then?

What are the bases for forgiveness? What authority do we have to forgive? Do we have the authority to forgive illegal sins (Rom. 13:4)? Do we have the authority to forgive what God has not/not yet? i.e. Jn.20:23 - Is our forgiveness effectual in the removal of the offender’s sin? i.e. Jesus’ cry, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

And here’s, I think, a paradox: God alone can forgive sin (Mk 2:7, Lk 5:21), and we are commanded to forgive (Lk. 11:4, 17:3). So what exactly does our forgiving someone do? :)

Just a reminder here, Arara Azul: This is a thread for theological pedants, not scholars! :lol:

I would rather be evaluated on the basis of the questions I ask than the answers I give. By that standard, you shine! You are clearly thinking, and thinking deeply, not just about "forgiveness" but about what the Bible teaches us about forgiveness. Thank you for sharing your questions and challenging the rest of us.

I haven't answered your questions because I keep waiting for the Theological Green Berets to parachute in and rescue me! They must be busy on other missions. . . (pun, pun)

Some of the questions you raised have been around for a long time, and are unlikely to ever be answered in a way that satisfies everybody - or anybody, for that matter. Answers to others may be suggested by earlier entries on this thread. And still others may yield to a (whole) lot more study on the parts of serious students of the Word.

All readers are encouraged to contribute to this thread. Please feel free to take a stab at some of Arara Azul's questions, doubly so as they relate to the way poor understanding of them has influenced NTM's teaching. Current NTM members are welcome to contribute, too!


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 2:37 am 
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If we can get the kids on the back row to calm down a bit. . . Would you boys like to come up front here and tell the rest of us what it is that you find so amusing? If not, please calm down and act like robots.

To return to the reasons why I believe it matters that we have an accurate and scriptural understanding of the concept of forgiveness: My first reason. was that careless use of the word forgiveness can lead us to misunderstand God's forgiveness of us.

Compared to most MKs, I grew up with very few "uncles" and "aunts." Because I was an Army Brat, I knew a lot of Sergeants (and even learned how to spell that word, second only in military jargon to Colonel in terms of the relationship between spelling and pronunciation), and I was encouraged to address them as "Sgt. [Last Name]."

Many MKs who had abusive "uncles" developed an aversion to the term; they can hardly bring themselves to say it, and certainly not use it to refer to those they love. Because of the situations in which that word was used, and the reactions that word brings up, it is no longer the tender term of relationship that it is to others.

Life is too complex to do everything consciously. In fact, I'm going to venture a guess that most of what we do every day, we do by habit, as if on auto-pilot. Nowhere is this more pronounced (pun, pun) than language; we speak automatically, thinking (if we think at all) of what we want to say, not how we are going to say it. Walking, eating, getting dressed. . . all of these things are habits, and we can accomplish them with ease. I can even tie my shoes with my eyes closed!

When a crucial concept like forgiveness is repeatedly used in ways that are at odds with how it is used in Scripture, it becomes a habit, its meaning seared into our minds, crowding out Bible usage. "Uncle Forgiveness" then pays us regular visits, inviting us on guilt trips.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 4:47 am 
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Instead of belaboring my first reason for thinking that a good, solid, biblical understanding of forgiveness is vital, I want to get to the second reason. . . before I forget.

A concept of forgiveness that deviates from Scripture teaching can easily lead us to conclude that God's Word is not practical for our "real" lives. We can start thinking that the Bible does not speak to the deepest needs we face in our daily life, regardless of how thankful we are that we are not going to go to hell when we die.

The Bible then becomes a collection of interesting stories and catch-phrases that we can use as illustrations in our teaching, as political slogans or as clubs to beat others. But, when we need help, healing, encouragement and life, we look elsewhere.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 5:29 am 
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A defective, unscriptural understanding of forgiveness can cause us to devalue its true worth. That is my third major reason for advocating being accurate, painfully so if we must, in our use of scriptural terms in discussions of scriptural truth and how it relates to our lives.

When an offended person feels obligated to extend forgiveness to all who have offended, without distinction between those who have repented and those who have not, it becomes nearly meaningless. We then tend to think of forgiveness as a matter of course, as a small thing that any child would be told to do to a playmate who broke their toy. We are robbed of both the joy of forgiving, and the peace of being forgiven. We think little of something that God thinks of as special.

I know that the particular context of forgiveness that has been in focus on this forum, as well as my personal experiences with NTM, can be interpreted to indicate (prove?) that I am against forgiveness, and in favor of holding grudges and exacting revenge. That is not the case, though I understand why some readers may feel that way. In fact, the only thing I like more than being forgiven is forgiving others.

Jesus said that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Would any deny that forgiveness is one of the nicest gifts one person can give another? God loves a cheerful giver, and I don't think we can restrict that to monetary gifts on Sunday mornings. Not even gifts to missionaries. If we find that giving the gift of forgiveness does not bring us joy, or peace and contentment when received, we may need to reconsider what the Bible teaches about it.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 6:31 am 
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I want to congratulate Andy Kline on his use of a good, scriptural metaphor: Half baked.

Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned. (I.e., half baked)
Hosea 7:8 (KJV)

Here is an explanation and application of this verse, copied from an old book here in my study, and somewhat revised for brevity:

The sort of cake to which Ephraim is here likened was a thin pancake, to which scorching heat was applied on one side at a time. If the cake remained long unturned, it was burnt on the one side; while it continued unbaked, doughy, reeking, on the other; the fire spoiling, not penetrating it through.

Such were the people; such are too many so-called Christians; they united in themselves hypocrisy and godliness, outward performance and inward lukewarmness; the one overdone, but without any wholesome effect on the other. The one was scorched and black; the other steamed, damp and lukewarm; the whole worthless, spoiled irremediably, fit only to be cast away.

The fire of God's judgment, with which the people should have been amended, made but an outward impression upon them, and reached not within, nor to any thorough change, so that they were the more hopelessly spoiled through the means which God used for their amendment.


Half baked answers, like half baked changes, are to be avoided. Real answers, like real changes, are a different story.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 7:59 am 
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Keep the wholesome meals coming, Gene!
We don't like crumbs under the table.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:54 am 
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Before closing out my contribution to the topic of forgiveness, I'd like to point out that I am very much in favor of it, even if the overall negative tone of my posts has obscured that. In trying to show that the idea of forgiving unrepentant child abusers and other offenders is not in harmony with Scriptures, I did not say as much on the positive side as I might have done had I been, for instance, writing a book about the topic. So, I want to repeat that I believe forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts we can either give or receive, and we need to be willing – indeed, anxious – to forgive with haste and joy, and to receive it with humility and gratitude.

I also know that many "Bible" words have "secular" usages. I do not object to that; I only encourage keeping the two uses separate at such places as they differ. Many good things are done and accomplished under the rubric of "forgiveness" even when the word is not used in the scriptural sense of the term. I certainly do not mean to detract from those good things any more than I wish to dilute or distort the biblical use of the term forgiveness. I admit that it's a hard line to walk!!

In more capable hands, the subject of forgiveness (started back on page six of this thread!) could no doubt have been handled in a more succinct and convincing manner. It wasn't, so you'll just have to. . . well, er. . . forgive me!


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:37 pm 
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Shout out to Unbelievable: There are a number of unbelievable things on this thread. You may want to begin on the very first page. A few comments have been deleted by those who have posted them, but I think you can still follow the general flow.

I am posting this particular comment here because it is more of a pedantic nature, and a theological nature, than some of my other rants. I mean musings.

An old saying in the Catholic Church went something like this: "A heretic must be punished, but mercy shown to a sinner."

You can see why the Catholic Church would feel that way. In fact, you can see why any insular, authoritarian and unaccountable group would feel that way. It is, in fact, the very way NTM feels.

NTM once defined "heresy" as "being divisive." They still do, for all I know, but you would have a better handle on this than I, Unbelievable. This definition was based on the root meaning of the Greek word. I hope I don't need to tell you what a poor guide a lexicon/ dictionary can be when trying to understand God's Word. Such reference works can be particularly misleading when combined with a total lack of concern for the context in which the various words are used.

Hence, a person who (to pick an unlikely example) raped or otherwise mistreated children in their care in a NTM boarding school would be treated with compassion. They are sinners, not heretics. And while they are sinners, they are also submissive to the leadership, and not divisive. There would be no feeling at that time that they should be dismissed. And, even once they were dismissed, their time of "service" to the Lord would be heralded in NTM's in-house publication, their crimes hushed up. Mercy drips down.

On the other hand, a missionary who demonstrated "obvious contempt and disrespect" for field leaders would not even be warned. This is too dangerous a situation, and they must be dealt with harshly. Their resignations would be "requested" and steps would be taken to make sure they were no longer a danger to "the mission" of the mission. Any hint of people who do not submit to the authority that "God himself" has placed over the mission must be wiped out. They are heretics – potentially causing division among the flock.

It's easy to see how a very innocuous mistake in theology can result in shipwreck. Scary, isn't it?


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:21 pm 
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Alas I'm no theological expert, but I should be for all the theology that I heard while a teenager. It started with devotions at breakfast, chapel three days per week, bible class 5 days a week, plus homework, and on and on. It would of been o.k. if it was remotely interesting, but most of the time it was just repitition and sometimes totally bizzare.
The long discourses on why every other form of Christianity was wrong and we were the only ones with "the truth". There just seemed to be a bit to much hate preached. There was a verse to support every arguement.
Then there was the fear. The fear that God would "take you out" if you misbehaved and having one of the staffs own brothers held up as an example (he was killed in an accident).
My father ranting on and on about how "cults" like the Mormons deliberately targeted the "vulerable", but he didn't seem to realise that is exactly what he was doing and he was extorting money to fund his own choice of lifestyle.
The long one on one lectures in secluded places when you were trapped by some overzealous self appointed theological expert who wanted to advise you about the mortal sins that could make you lose your "salvation" which contradicted the other expert who ranted on and on about how this could never happen, but God would "take you out" if you got in the way of His plan.
To be fair there were many genuine Theologically Simple Souls who just got on with their job and life was the better for their presence.
No wonder many of us were confused when we got out. Looking back, it really was brainwashing. I spent far to much time trying to decipher fact from fiction and in the end just walked away.
As for my family, my father has physically left NTM, but psycologically is still there. As the saying goes, "to heavenly good to be of any earthly use" and he won't change, which granted is his choice/right. But he still uses his learned predatory and manipulitive behaviour to push his views and this in my view is wrong.
As my learned other half says, "keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out".


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