A man with whom I had been communicating realized that he had lived just a few miles away from where I was going to Bible College. As a matter of fact, he was quite familiar with, as he called it, the antinomian reputation of the school.
Hello, my newfound friend,
1971 was the year my parents, my sister, my little brother and I moved to Delray Beach, Florida from Fairfax, Virginia. I was also 18 at the time.
Which church was it in West Hollywood? I know of a few of them. We even drove from Lake Worth to West Hollywood from 1979 till about 1983 to a church that met in a storefront there. It was called Grace Bible Church. Learned much there. It fell apart somewhere around 1984. Too many problems. Strong-headed pastor who was quite dynamic in his preaching but had too many control issues. He tried so hard to systematize grace teachings and he flip-flopped around radically until he polarized the remaining people around doctrinal issues rather than the life of Christ which he started out with and he eventually burnt himself out.
At the beginning, he and I became close friends and we challenged each other in this newfound grace. But the more doctrinally oriented he got he began to view himself above me. Near the end of our communication he rebuked me as supposedly my elder since he was five whole years older than me (he said that) ... and told me that I had no right to question his current agenda. That hurt. He did call me later and apologize for "being such a jackass" ... but it was short-lived. He was on too much of a power trip. I wrote to him quite a few times after that but never heard back from him till this day.
It was a very hurtful, but VERY strengthening time of my life. As much as I had learned from it, I saw how systematic theology was easily maneuvered to establish a measuring stick to judge another's spirituality to determine if someone gets it or not. I have come to see that ALL spiritual knowledge is exactly that: spiritual. No one achieves a higher level because they understand more. You know what I have learned from all my understanding from Him? That in Him there are no differences because His Spirit has truly made us one!! True understanding comes as my measuring sticks keep getting snapped and I once again have my eyes opened to the measureless life of Christ who is MY life. Wow!! :)
God has worked on my heart (he is so patient!) for many years, teaching me his precious grace. I am a slow learner :-) Michael
It sounds like you and I have MUCH in common. It has taken a LONG time for me to learn of this grace ... but I think that this is the only way we really learn it. Oh, some may learn an awful lot of information about the grace of Christ (I've had that happen from time to time), but since grace is NOT a doctrine but LIFE itself it is slowly being worked through us. It truly is so much better than just getting some kind of degree of achievement, isn't it? :)
Your bro, Jim
I have been reading through the Shovel site and just got to the "questions" page realizing that you went to Fla Bible College (He lived there, too) There were a couple of guys working for the University that went to FBC too. Sadly I cannot remember their names. Sadder still, I held them in contempt because they were going to "that" college that was "antinomian". Oh Lord - thank you for your long-suffering grace!!! Geez Jim, we might have driven past one another. Wish I had known you then! Might have saved myself (not to mention loads of other people) a lot of grief! Michael
Yes, Florida Bible College is where I went to school for three years. I was going to ask you if you knew of it (how could you not?) in my very next letter. I graduated with a BA in Biblical Education.
The strange thing is that I know of very few FBC-er's who accept what I have to say. So, here we come full circle: my former buddies from FBC view me as antinomian!! How's that for an ironic twist? Most of them would think the same of you for the most part. :) Yeah, I'm viewed as having gone off the deep end. One of my close friends from FBC that I had contacted again through the internet (he was one of my Ranch guys) wrote me off in a big way a couple of years ago claiming that he had read through everything I had on my site (much smaller at the time) and coming to the conclusion that I don't believe the gospel anymore. For he saw it nowhere in any of my writings ... because he was looking for the official FBC seven-step version.
It is how I would have examined things during those years in the 70's had you and I met. You gotta figure, I was one of the big influences in this man's life. Yeah, I would have summed you up based upon where you went to church, and whether or not you preached what we called the clear gospel (understandable to the natural mind, that is), etc, etc. It wasn't until the second semester of my last year (1975) that I began to think on my own. This was after the school president had his fall. Maybe you do or don't know anything of that ... it doesn't matter, but it may have been one of the biggest factors that weaned me from idolizing men. I still was heavily prejudiced for years to come, but it was slowly being revealed to me for what it was.
I'm sure there were many who went to the school that were able to learn some things but didn't get caught up in the mechanism since there were always references made about such rebels. Not me, though ... oh no, not ME! By my second semester, FBC became to me the bastion of Christian truth. I judged all things by it ... at least that which I understood. And if I didn't understand it I ASSUMED that THEY did.
I think the first big adverse impact on my dependence of the school was the day I heard one of the head professors (a Doctor of Divinity) give an interpretation of a passage dealing with the end times that was in total contradiction with what I had heard from the others. We were in the main auditorium for this class, and while he was addressing this issue, the lights went out in the room. It accentuated the confusion that was going through my mind. I had assumed that everybody at FBC agreed on all the important stuff, but I discovered at that moment that they did NOT. It was huge to me.
Oh, well, you may wonder why I shared that with you. Duh! I don't know! :) hahaha!
Thanx for being here!