Pastor Chad's Itinarary

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

"What is the Gospel: A Theological Debate"

    The Holiday Express Inn in Florence, AL, played host to a theological debate concerning "What is the Gospel" between Barry Carpenter of Revival or Ruin Ministries and Micah Armstrong This debate was centered on the facets of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Micah Armstrong, accompanied by his wife Elizabeth, is a Trinitarian Holiness Pentecostal who is an open air preacher. Armstrong preaches mostly on college campuses throughout the United States. The debate was moderated by Pastor Josh Miller of Tharptown Baptist and the details for the debate was handled by Frank Rollberg of Jeremiah Cry Ministries. The debate was to answer three questions: What is the current spiritual condition of man? What is necessary for salvation? What is the importance of the cross?
     To open the debate Barry Carpenter gave a gracious commendation toward Micah on his traveling from Miami, FL for this debate. The main vein to this theological debate centered on biblical hermeneutics or the science of interpretation of Scriptures. Barry argued in his introduction a wrong interpretation of Scriptures will lead to a false understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
     Micah gave his opening statement regarding questions on the facets of the gospel, which he agrees, "twisting scripture you can make them mean anything you want them to say." Micah said, "you have to come to the scriptures with an honest heart." The problem with such a statement is what Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it. After this he gave a brief testimony and introduction of himself.
    Each speaker was given 5 minutes to give their answer to the questions and a 3 minute rebuttal response to each question. After three questions the speakers were allowed 3 cross reference questions, for the other to answer. At the end of the debate the audience was allowed to submit questions asked by the moderator. Here are the three main questions which were presented at the debate:

1. What is the current spiritual condition of man?

2. What is necessary for salvation?

3. What did Jesus do on the cross?

    Although, I wonder how two men can come to two completely different interpretations of Scripture, Barry's approach to interpreting Scripture comes from a historical and grammatical approach. In other words, Barry's hermeneutic tries to answer, what did the original author mean as he wrote to the original audience? Micah did not give his position to his hermeneutical approach to the Scripture, although he (Micah) did quote a lot of Scripture. Of course, quoting Scripture does not mean you are properly interpreting the text which has been quoted!
  A couple of things which I took away from this debate is:

1. A proper biblical interpretation of the Scripture is of most importance. I was reminded again today the importance as a teaching pastor my need to understand the text which I am to interpret and preach. I learned as well, the importance not to take Scripture out of its historical and grammatical context. This is dangerous! Pastors must give themselves to understanding what the author of the text is conveying to the audience to whom he is writing. This is so very important!
2. Christ secured the salvation of "all" those who would believe. One of the biggest blessings of my time at this debate was the assurance of what Christ did for "me." Christ took my sin and bore the wrath I deserved upon the cross. Therefore, my sin has been atoned for and I have been forgiven of my sin by faith in the finished work of Christ. This atonement was not made possible because of what I have done, rather what Christ accomplished upon the cross. Hallelujah what a Savior!
3. The Gospel is the power of God to salvation.  Today I was reminded again which I need everyday and that is the gospel of Christ. I was reminded through the debate of my helplessness as a dead sinner, who was an enemy of God, could not redeem myself, and that Christ died for my sins. Through Christ's death, burial, and resurrection God made a way for sinners to be made right with him. Hearing the truth of the gospel was very edifying for my soul. I was thankful my son, Logan was privileged to witness and hear the gospel of Christ as well.
 4. Finally, I enjoyed "one on one" time with my middle son, Logan.  Having 3 boys it is difficult to find time to escape for just "one on one" time with each one of them. Logan and I rode 2 and a half hours (one way) listening to sermons, memorizing Scripture, and talking about salvation in Christ. I thoroughly enjoyed our time and the joy of seeing my son engaged in the debate. Being a father is a difficult task but at the same time the most rewarding, especially days like today!
  I was greatly encouraged and edified through through this debate. I am also grateful for Revival or Ruin Ministries for making today possible.

Here is the links to the debate from Saturday: