The following is a transcription of the 5/17/09 appearance by Emergence Christianity theologian Tony Jones on One One Radio with John Chisham and Rusty Beals beginning at the 10:04 mark:

JOHN CHISHAM: Okay, well, hey Russ, this is, um… good news, we’ve got um…we’ve got Tony Jones, I believe, calling in…Tony, are you on the line?

RUSS BEALS: Alright.

TONY JONES: Yes, sir…

JOHN: Tony, welcome to…

TONY: …I’m here

JOHN: Tony, welcome to…welcome to One-One radio with Russ Beals…

TONY: (interrupting) I just got a message on my Facebook from you asking for prayer for you because you’re having me on the show today.

RUSS: Well, you know, we have…believe it or not, Rusty and I have been praying and preparing for this show, praying for you, and uh, praying for our conversation here today.

TONY: Alright.

JOHN: Last time I…last time I got to talk to you face-to-face Tony, we were uh…we were uh…filming some, umm…snippets, I don’t know what you call them, some snippets, maybe some advertisements, umm…some interesting pieces for your book, The New Christians.

TONY: Yup!

JOHN: And uh…we uh…that was, you know, that was a great conversation. I have to say that you are a gentleman and uh…it was a great time. I think, I think we even talked about at that time that we might want to take our show on the road…

TONY: (laughing)

JOHN: …that that would be kind of interesting to put a…to put a…uh…um…what, I’ve been called a “Fundamentalist” or something like that on the stage with a …uh, with a… with someone from the “Emergent Group” and have a…have a conversation and-a kinda’ go toe-to-toe a little bit and kinda’ work out, um what Christianity is and what it means.

TONY: Sure thing, yeah.

JOHN: Thank you so much for coming on the show today.

TONY: You bet, my pleasure.

JOHN: Okay, well…well…You’ve been kinda’ gettin’ fired up umm…about a couple different issues, and we’re going to let you talk about those issues for sure, but first and foremost, you’re one of the first…let’s say…guinea pig – how’s that sound…

TONY: I like it.

JOHN: You like it…Tony, Tweet [referring to Twitter] this…the Gospel.

TONY: You know…

JOHN: Give me the Gospel in 140 words.

TONY: Characters you mean? 140 characters?

JOHN: 140 characters.

TONY: You know I’m not going to do that…

JOHN: (laughing) Okay, do your best.

TONY: …the Gospel is not “tweetable”

JOHN: Amen. Do you best…

TONY: It’s not tweetable. No, so we do a great disservice to the Gospel to try to uh…tweet the Gospel. If I had to write 140-page book or 1400-page book on the Gospel, there’d be lots in there about, umm…there’d be lots in there about Jesus, uh…about Jesus’ life and his death and his resurrection. There’d be a lot in there about umm…the activity of the Holy Spirit in…in the life of…particularly in the miracles of Jesus and then in the uh life of the Apostles in the early church. Uh, there’d probably be quite a bit in there about the Trinity, uh…about the way that the bible’s authoritative, has been in the history of the church and how it is today. Umm…those are probably some of the…those would be some of the chapter headings, probably.

JOHN: Okay. Now you… you wrote a book…you wrote a book recently, and I believe…I’m not very clear on this…I believe you are working on a book about the Didache? Is that correct?

TONY: The Didache, the Didache. Yup, I am writing a book about that; it’s due at the end of the month. Yup.

JOHN: The Didache…see…I’m, I’m French…it looked like Didache to me.

TONY: (laughing). What’s “Pastor-Boy” in French anyways?

JOHN: Uh…(with French accent) Pastor-Boy.

TONY: (laughing) That’s perfect…that’s good to know, okay.

JOHN: When I…when I look at a book called The New Christians, my first immediate…my first immediate uh…thought was, “Wow, you know, this is all about new Christians.” One…one becoming a Christian, they’re new…they’re…they’re wonderful, but kind of the thought behind the book of The New Christians is…give me an idea – gimme…help me out with this one. The “New Christians” is like a new generation of Christians, a new reformation so to speak what…what are you looking at when…when you’re looking at that book The New Christians?

TONY: Yeah, I think that’s…I mean a new reformation is…I…I think that there is a reformation that’s taking place in the church. Umm…and I think that what’s going on in the Emergent is kind of one…one aspect of that…I think that actually, umm….it’s going to be a pretty far…far-ranging, uh…reformation and I think it’s gonna’ take a long time; and I don’t think that Emergent…what’s happening in Emergent is the…kind of the final word by any means. I just think it’s kind of one of the symptoms of what’s going on. There are a lot of people that are discontented with the church — both people who are discontented with the theology of it and with the way that church is done. And so people…you know the title New Christians it…it is kind of a provocative title, but it is…I mean, yes it’s people who are coming to faith who have not had faith before, and it’s a lot of people who are…because you know still 80% of Americans self-identify as Christian; so it’s people who are already identifying as Christian, but are thinking about Christianity and practicing Christianity in a new way. And you know, Emergent is definitely part of that…part of that whole galaxy of new ways of thinking about Christianity.

JOHN: What is…what is it about the church? Now, is it the church…um…I…I identify the church as born-again believers in Jesus Christ. Uh, are you…when you talk about reformation within the church are you talking about a reformation within the institutional church? Are you talking about um…needed reformation uh…with those uh…the invisible church the body of…the body of Christ here on earth? What are you talking about as far as reformation goes and what do you see as needing reform?

TONY: Well, actually I’m not talking about the invisible church. I’m not talking about the…witnesses, saints, you know, alive and those who preceded us…um…that…that…kind of that body of individuals is up to God to kind of determine how that group is going to work. But, I’m talking about more the former and that’s the way that the church is organized visibly on earth. So yeah, you might call it the institutional church, but I mean there are a lot of churches that are not very institutionalized, but are still part of that ecology of the way that Christians gather, the way that Christians um…formalize their meetings…um…you know…what most…you and I…when you say what you think of as church, that’s not what 98% of Americans think of. When you say “church” most Americans think of First Presbyterian Church, you know…uh…Winona Nazarene Church or Church of the Nazarene, you know…uh Second Lutheran Church – that’s what Americans think of when people…when you say the word “church” and that’s what needs to be reformed.

JOHN: Okay. Well that’s…so…so what…what are…what are some things that you see that need reformation? Now, I’m going to toss the softball here to you because I think one of the things that you see um…in need of reformation is ordination if I read your blog correctly.

TONY: (laughing) Yeah, yeah…I was a bit outspoken about that this last week.

JOHN: You’re a little fired up about that.

TONY: I was, but you know, people…I got fired up about that because other people got so darn fired up. I mean, I think that in most, uh…denominations if…if the founders of their denomination…if Phineas Bresee saw what it takes to be ordained in the Nazarene church, he’d roll over in his grave. And if…and if uh…John Wesley saw what it takes to be ordained as a Methodist or John Calvin saw what it takes to be ordained as a Presbyterian, these guys would be spittin’ mad because they considered umm…leadership in the church to be bestowed by God’s spirit not by 13 different committees who are giving you tests and psychological examinations and making you do internships and quite honestly, kiss a lot of political butt on your way through the system in order to navigate it; which is what it takes to get ordained in many denominations. And…

JOHN: Now, what’s your main…what you really started getting fired up about…um…at least from…at least from what I read in your blog – and this is going to kind of transition to another topic – is that one of your friends or associates or colleagues uh…was not going to be able to be ordained as a Presbyterian PCUSA because he wanted a homosexual friend to give his ordination message. Is that correct?

TONY: Well…it’s…he invited a friend of his who actually is theologically trained to give the sermon at his ordination service and his friend is a gay man, but that what…what…what his Presbyterian actually said was that wasn’t the issue. The issue was that they didn’t like some of the stuff that he wrote on his blog and in his Twitter posts. And they put together a very long paper um…basically finding stuff on his blog that they considered objectionable and saying that was the reason. So, what even torked me off even more — and Adam has blogged about this — was it really wasn’t even the fact that he invited a gay man to preach at his ordination sermon – even though that clearly was what they were mad about – they wouldn’t say that – they found other stuff that he’d…he’d written years ago that they had read and not considered objectionable until at the eleventh hour. Suddenly, they pull all this stuff out after the guy has been in their ordination process for five or six years and…and pulled the plug on him.

JOHN: So…um…

TONY: Well…John…I would say that they have a right as…as a system to say, “You don’t get to have…because of our theological view about homosexuality, you don’t get to have him preach uh…your ordination sermon.” But, that’s not what they said. And that’s what I’m saying; that’s what’s so broken about the system, is it’s such a political process that they wouldn’t even say what seems to be the real issue and they found a bunch of side issues to try to derail his ordination.

JOHN: So…so…um…basically, this is one of the areas that you’d probably like to see reformed, uh…

TONY: (interrupting) Well because…yeah…yeah…

JOHN: …so it’s not the information within the church…its something one of the things is that…is that the church or the institutional church that most people would consider church, has become a political…a political process and uh…there are a lot of politics that go on with things like ordination, things like um…what makes a church a constitutional church – you know, having to have a constitution having to have a …a…what I might call a business plan…you know, you see those things as in need of reformation…some of those things.

TONY: Yeah, for sure. I mean I do think it is troubling that um…we have to…you know register as a 501c 3 non-profit corporation.

JOHN: We might agree with that (laughing).

TONY: You know, it’s a…it’s a real problem, but I mean…here, I’m trying to find something to read to you off my…there’s a comment and you can probably quote to me the reference of it um…, but you know, Jesus…I just think it’s such a…um…it’s so crazy to…to take what Jesus instituted in His ministry of being empowered by the Holy Spirit and then try to um…institutionalize it. So, like…look, think of this…remember this verse: You are not to be called rabbi for you have only one master and you are all brothers. And you are not to call anyone on earth Father for you have one Father and He is in heaven. Nor are you to be called teacher for you have one teacher the Messiah. And yet what do we do? We call our priests “Father”, we call our ministers “Pastors”, we call people “Reverend”, we call someone “Deacon” when…when it’s clear that…from scripture…that we’re…we’re all brothers, teacher and that’s the Messiah and to Him we give all the honor and we don’t…we’re not supposed to be walking around the church with having different honorary titles. It just drives me crazy.

JOHN: I can see that. You’re kinda’ getting a little fired up about that. Now Tony, this is…this is…this is a question we got from one of our listeners umm…and it kind of transitions from you know…just that…well…kind of the…kind of another one…one of the topics that you’ve written about lately…I mean…not really recently, but…but fairly recently is on homosexual marriage. That’s another kind of thing you seem to be fired up about… Umm…what is it…what is it as a Christian…as a professing Christian…what is it that allows you to um…to say, “Well, I think…well…God’s Word does say that homosexuality is a sin, but yet, I think…I think that (and this is kind of a loose quote from you) um…that a man and a man ought to be married because they should be just as successful as a man and a woman, would be.” Um…umm…there’s…there’s…there’s…no reason why a man should not be able to marry a man.” What is your…what is your justification for that umm…uh… what is your justification for that point of view as far as homosexuality….

TONY: Yeah.

JOHN: …marrying between one man and one man and one woman…marriage between a man and a man and a woman and a woman. What is your justification for that….where do you get that from?

TONY: Well…there…there are two issues at play. And the one I feel strongly about and the one I feel way more strongly about. The one I feel strongly about is that um…that same-sex marriage is though homosexuality is mentioned in seven different passages in the bible and condemned, I think there are a couple issues at play that I’m sure you won’t agree with – probably most of your listeners won’t agree with either. But one is homosexuality was understood very differently in the first century than it is today. It was practiced very differently in the first century than it is today, and I take that into account when I…when I do my exogesis of those passages. I also put them in context of the broader, narrative arc of scripture, which I think also you know, leads me to my position of being able to affirm same-sex marriage.

But look, I don’t…I don’t think that I’m going to be able to convince you of that or of the Nazarene denomination or whatever conservative denomination that they should change their stance on that. But yeah, I can say that as someone who takes the bible and theology extraordinarily seriously, I can hold my head up high and say that I think that same-sex marriage is not forbidden by the…in the bible in the way that I read and understand the bible. But, what I’m far more interested in and I think is a far bigger problem and a bigger issue that we have to tackle, is that I don’t think ministers of the Gospel, pastors or anybody who is standing up in front of a group of people and speaking on behalf of Jesus Christ should perform illegal ceremonies…should not…I do not think that ministers of the Gospel should act as agents of the government.

So, I believe fundamentally, that churches should be able to do whatever they want; if they want to marry a gay couple – great, if they don’t ever want to marry any couples and they want to be 100% celibate – fine, and anything in between there is up to that particular church and their theological and confessional stance. What the government does is a completely different matter and ministers of the Gospel should not be agents of the government and should not have the legal power to sign marriage certificates; that should be a governmental function it’s not a sacerdotal function.

JOHN: Okay. Well…and so…I think that’s a huge issue, but I want to stick on this one for a moment, okay? I don’t know if you are a New Perspectives guy on Paul or not, but…just I’m reading from 1 Corinthians, Chapter 6, which was our…which was our theme…uh… verse…our theme group of verses today. It says this…it says, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” Umm…that seems pretty…that seems pretty cut and dry there. Umm…and it’s pretty broad based, it’s not just…you know…the word homosexuality screamed out at us because as you have written in your blog the “??? factor” you know, that we were all kind of brought up with.

TONY: Yes. Right.

JOHN: But…but it seems pretty clear to me that this is a broad stroke…it says the unrighteous – those who are unrighteous and Paul lists out a group of unrighteous behaviors that were…that were there at his time and are much more broadly even – I believe – today. Sexual immorality, umm…fornication – sex outside of marriage – umm…Jesus went even so far to say that if you look with lust you commit adultery with that woman already in your heart…

TONY: Oh, I get it.

JOHN: …Idolatry…

TONY: Yeah, John, look…is that…I agree. And…and…according to…if we take that verse, you know, in the way that you’re saying we should take it then I…I…I will not inherit the kingdom of God and I bet you won’t inherit the kingdom because we are all idolaters, and we are all swindlers, and we have all engaged in sexual immorality.

RUSS: Can I jump in here for a second? Oh, I’m sorry.

JOHN: Yeah, go ahead Rusty.

TONY: Not if you want me to answer the question, but I mean it…

JOHN: Go ahead…go ahead…go ahead Tony finish your answer.

TONY: We all…we absolutely as Paul also writes we all do fall short of God’s glory and if we are judged on the merits of our morality and the way that we’ve behaved according to those prescriptions – and other places throughout Paul and quite honestly, things that Jesus himself said – everyone of us is going to fall short of inheriting the kingdom of God. Thank God that we will not be judged on that count, right? Thank God that Jesus stands in our stead when it comes to that…that moment at the end of time when it’s determined whether or not we inherit the kingdom of God or not…it’s that Jesus that stands in our stead at that moment.

So, I think…it’s just…I take the verses far more seriously than if you had a more liberal umm…guest on your show. And, I do not I…I think those seven verses in scripture are extraordinarily important…and I don’t …and as important as any verse in scripture, but I don’t…but like you and I talked about John when we sat in my office at Solomon’s Porch for those videos, I’m sure you’re willing to say that verse is…should be interpreted literally and that we should make that clear in our churches that you won’t inherit the kingdom of God…you’re standing in sin if you behave in any of these ways; if you’re an idolater, swindler, or…or have homosexual sex, or if you’re an adulterer, etc. But, there’s all sorts of other verses in the bible that people…that those of you who take certain verses literally don’t take literally. So you don’t have head coverings in your church and you don’t take the gold jewelry off before they come in and you don’t make them keep silent in public assembly…

JOHN: You’re talking about women…

TONY: Yeah…you don’t make women do that…like…and Paul wrote that. So, there are all sorts of ways that what each one of us does is we find a hermeneutic that we can live with, and then we weave the bible through those hermeneutic lenses. And what I’m trying to say is…I’m…I’m willing to answer your question as honestly as I can, and I would just hope that you guys and your listeners would be willing to answer similar questions that I would ask you about other verses that you go soft on umm…in scripture…cause that’s what we do. Nobody takes the bible literally – you can’t. I mean, every one of us picks a hermeneutical path – interpretive path – and that’s how we live with the bible; it’s a text that we interpret.

JOHN: Okay…let me…

TONY: Thank God for that.

JOHN: …let me just…let me just give you one last verse and this is from the same passage and I’ll let Rusty pipe in here in just a moment. Umm…verse 11 says this, “and such were some of you” see that’s the difference. “Yes, we…we were those things. We were those…those things were our nature – our human nature, our sinful nature – we were in unrighteousness, but you were washed”– he is speaking to the church here, the invisible church, the Christians that are in that church – “You were washed. You were sanctified. You were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the spirit of our God.” So there’s a point in time – I call it being born-again, I call it being saved – when we are umm…when our entire nature is changed by the Spirit of God.

Umm…and I think that…it’s an act of God – it’s an act by which we umm…respond to the drawing of God…this is how…this is how I would interpret it and I would describe it, I think that’s the way scripture talks about it, but you know you and I can disagree on that, but we are drawn by God and we are washed, we are sanctified – set apart, and justified just as if we never sinned, our sin was taken away and we are given Christ’s righteousness…we no longer stand in that place, the righteous will inherit the kingdom of God, but the righteousness does not come from our actions; the righteousness comes from Jesus Christ and he changes our very nature. Umm…so my question to you, Tony is that umm…there is a question there…is that…is there a time in your life when you…when you have come to a place and you have said umm…and you have said, “Yes, I no longer hold on to the goodness…of my own goodness…my own understanding of scripture…my own umm…my own works…my own righteousness and I have grabbed a hold of Christ’s righteousness and I have allowed him to transform me.” And then the follow-up to that is, “How do you communicate to those who are in your congregation…that to those who are in your church fellowship, your church body and those you talk to.”

TONY: Well…

JOHN: Big question.

TONY: I think that you and I probably disagree…well, I’m sure that you and I disagree on a couple of things. First of all, I don’t believe that when Paul was writing that he was only writing to the “invisible church” in Corinth, so he’s just…he’s only…see your interpretation hinges on the idea that he is only writing to those who have been “saved”. And I don’t think that that’s accurate. I think he’s writing…

JOHN: What do you think?

TONY: I think he is writing to every…the whole church in Corinth. He’s writing to the church in Corinth. He’s not just writing to those who have been saved and other people who are sitting around the church but haven’t yet “been saved”. But see, I think you and I think of salvation from…and no, I do not think that at the moment that you say a sinner’s prayer or at the moment that you’re “saved” that your nature changes. I do not think that…I do not think that’s scriptural and I don’t think that’s actually good biology. I don’t think we change in our nature at the moment of our salvation. I think that we’re saved; we were saved in Jesus’ life, death, burial and resurrection. We’re not saved as the result of our own activity of saying a prayer or something of that nature…

JOHN: Believe it or not…you and I agree on that. We are completely 100% in agreement on that very fact. I don’t believe that you are saved by praying a prayer.

TONY: So I don’t think that something in our nature changes when we…when we do something. I think that God does the work.

JOHN: Amen!

TONY: And I think that we…so I don’t think that something in our nature changes and I don’t think that there are people walking around my church – some of whom are “saved” and some of whom are “unsaved” that’s not how I understand the bible or the work of Jesus Christ. When…when Paul writes that, “in Christ all things have become new,” it’s because of what Jesus offers and because of that Messianic age that he inaugurated that he offers newness to all of us and that…and not only to just human beings, but to all of creation is offered newness in the person of Jesus Christ.

JOHN: So, now…

RUSS: Tell me…umm…

JOHN: Go ahead, Rusty.

RUSS: Sinner’s prayer aside, umm…we agree that, you know, God is the one that does the redeeming work; He is the one that saves. Romans Chapter 3 says, “No man seeks after God, not even one.” So, we’d agree on that. But you…let me just clarify what you said there. You really believe that our nature is not changed at all…I mean sinner’s prayer aside?

TONY: Ontologically? No. I do not think something ontologically changes in a human being at the moment of salvation. No, I do not.

RUSS: So…so…I guess, you know…I’m not a pastor, I’m not a theologian – though I do love God’s word – but, I’m just gonna’ say this…my own personal testimony was that I was a drug addict, I was an alcoholic, and basically just a horrible human being and at the moment that God saved me, I began to hate the things I once loved. And, I began to love those things that I once hated. To me, I don’t know how…how much more you could ask for as far as the changes; I mean that was a radical change. You could ask anybody who…

TONY: That’s fantastic Rusty. That’s fantastic and I could introduce you to any number of people who’ve had a similar salvation from umm…drug and alcohol addiction, from pornography addiction or from any number of other things and God had nothing to do with it for them.

RUSS: Hmm.

TONY: So I’m glad that God had something to do with it for you, but there…but…but…but you’re…but see this is the deal…an anecdote doesn’t prove anything. So I think…I’m not…I’m not…I’m not trying to diminish your own life experience, but your life experience doesn’t prove anything. It’s a singular anecdote in a world of 6.5 billion people. And so, I think that’s great and the fact that you know it makes it true and you should hang on to it and that’s a huge part of your life and your testimony and…and your faith and experience with God. Never, ever let go of that! But, that doesn’t mean that that’s how it happens for everybody or that’s the only way that God works or that…or that…because if you make that the basis of some kind of logical conclusion, then all I have to do is find one person who had a similar experience and God had nothing to do with it, and it invalidates your thesis that something changes in someone’s actual very nature.

It’s just a very…it’s just a very metaphysical thing to believe that something changes in your nature. See, this is exactly what I’m arguing when I argue against ordination. Because, like for instance….Catholics believe that something actually changes when an ordained man gets hands laid upon him by a Bishop, and now he has all the authority from God to be able to umm…serve the Eucharist, baptize, perform weddings, give people their last rites, etc; and I fundamentally don’t think that’s true. I do not think that when a Bishop lays his hands on somebody something ontologically changes. Nor do I believe that when the Priest says words over a wafer and a cup of wine that something ontologically changes and makes that into the actual DNA flesh and blood of Jesus. I don’t think that happens. I think it’s a wafer and I think it’s wine; and I don’t think something ontologically changes when somebody is saved. I’m glad that God graced you with hatred for the things that you used to find attractive, but I know people who did that and God had nothing to do with it. So that…that doesn’t…I’m just saying…it doesn’t invalidate your own personal experience, but it definitely does not prove that anything is the case.

JOHN: Two things…two things that I want to comment about on that. Number one, Rusty’s…Rusty’s experience is different than those people who claim that God had nothing to do with it in that God says in His word, umm…that …that we are new creatures in Christ. What does…what does that verse mean? We are new creatures in Christ behold the old has passed away, the new has come. We are…we have been…we have been converted…we have passed from death to life, from darkness to light…all kinds of metaphors in the scripture, but also uh…pointing to the fact that a fundamental change has happened. We have gone from being ruled from our flesh and our fleshly desires to being ruled by the spirit. So either different changes that have happened that when we have the spirit of God in us we are able…we are able to overcome these specific behaviors. Secondly, I would argue that even if someone argued…if someone said, “God had nothing to do with this,” how do they know God had nothing to do with it? That’s kind of an arrogant statement.

TONY: John…John, how does Rusty know that God did have something to do with it?

JOHN: Because the Word of God says, “And the spirit…

TONY: (interrupting) John, John, John, no, no, no, no, no – that’s not…you don’t get to do that…you don’t get to do that. You don’t get to just assume that the Word of God is authoritative for everybody; it’s not authoritative for everybody. So, you don’t just get to say that when…when Rusty says that God was involved in his turning away from a particular lifestyle it’s valid, but when somebody else said, “God had nothing to do with me turning away from a particular lifestyle” that it’s invalid because the bible said it; that’s not how it works – that…that…that’s…a…my gosh…you…that’s no…you can’t argue like that…that’s not a logical argument. You don’t just get to use the bible as a trump card whenever somebody else comes up with an argument that…that yours has to challenge or that challenges yours. You don’t just get to throw the bible down as a trump card – that is absolutely not what the bible was to be used for; that is a violence against the bible and I…I’m offended that people use the bible like that. You don’t just get to throw it at people like that.

JOHN: I…I don’t think that I was throwing it at anybody, I was saying…what I was stating telling you to be fair, is that Rusty’s experience is…Rusty’s experience is an individual experience, but it’s also scripturally backed bythe fact that God says that if you, uh…if you come to him then you will be…it says here, “You were these things and such were some of you, but you were washed, you were sanctified (or set apart), you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God.” We were changed. We were…we were made a different person. We inherited Christ’s righteousness when we became…when we became a Christian by the grace of God, which we agree with, we…we…we don’t pray a prayer, we don’t decide to become a Christian, in fact, it’s in opposition to who we are to…to follow in the way of Christ; it’s opposite of our nature – it is not in our nature to follow in the way of Christ.

Romans Chapter 3 makes that very clear, that there is no one righteous, there is not even one, there’s no one that seeks after God. There…there…we don’t…we don’t love God, we don’t love anything that has to do with God by our own nature and, by the way, I’ll let you back in here…you also talked about a number of months ago, original sin. And so you would…you would probably say that, umm…I…I don’t know I’ll let you say it, but um…that…that we are by…we are not by nature…sinful? Is that something that…is that a fair statement? Or…or is that not what you were getting at there?

TONY: Well, what…what…you and I would also have to debate out is what you mean by the term “sinful”, but what the…the actual doctrine of original sin as it was developed by Augustine and reified by…not particularly by Calvin, but by those who came after Calvin by about 100 years, in the…who developed 5-point Calvinism and the Westminster Confession and things of that nature, I do not think it’s a biblical…I…I think it’s a…I think it’s based on Platonic philosophy and cosmology; not particularly on the biblical text.

So this idea that Adam sinned and that…that Adam genetically in some physiological way passed this sin from himself down to every other human being and that’s how Jesus ends up being sinless because He had no father and because He was…and because His mother was a virgin and…if you know anything about Catholic doctrine, what they’ve done in order to preserve the doctrine of original sin because then some people started saying, “Well, didn’t Mary have original sin because she had a father”; then they came up with the doctrine of immaculate conception so that Mary was, uh…conceived without a father. So, Mary is without sin – she doesn’t inherit sin from a father – and then Jesus is born without a father – so he becomes the first completely sinless human being. That…that’s all in an effort to save this doctrine of original sin, which is based on…again…a particular reading of, you know, the second creation story in Genesis that you and I again would probably disagree on (laughing).

JOHN: (laughing) Well, there…there’s lots of things that we can disagree on, but can we agree on this: Umm…we have…we have the kingdom…we’re talking about the kingdom a little bit here…Rusty and I were talking about…before you called in…a little bit here…who will inherit the Kingdom of God? Umm…and we’re…we – again – umm…between the Emergents and the more…those of us who are more umm…well, I don’t want to call myself a Calvinist because I’m really not a Calvinist – that’s not fair…it’s not fair to call…it’s not fair to label myself that…I’m a Christian. Umm…but…but…I would come from a more conservative bend…kind of a more Reformational bend and say that umm…and…and ask you this question, “How does one inherit the Kingdom of God?” And, umm…“Why is there the focus on the Kingdom of God?” You guys – the Emergents might say that we want to participate with God to bring the kingdom to earth in the here…in the here and the now. Umm…is that a…is that a fair statement?

TONY: Well look, all I would do and I imagine you would agree with this because it came right out of Jesus’ mouth, was that we want it to be here on earth as it is in heaven and like that…that Jesus’ prayer was that the kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven; that’s it…all I’m doing is reiterating His prayer, okay? The second thing is, “who inherits the kingdom” and I bet you and I can agree on this probably. Who inherits the kingdom? It’s whoever the heck God decides inherits the kingdom. And how dose one inherit the kingdom? One inherits the kingdom by the activity of God. It’s the activity of God that empowers a human being who inherits the kingdom; not anything that I do…not anything that you do…not anything that any of your listeners do. It’s the power of God’s what does it.

JOHN: It’s the…it’s the grace of God.

TONY: Yeah.

JOHN: It’s the…it’s the grace of God…it’s the grace of God from start to finish. He gives us the grace of repentance, He gives us the grace of faith, He gives us the ability; so, let me ask you this question…

TONY: (interrupting) And look, I might sound a little bit Armenian in this for you or for your listeners, but…and then I think we cooperate in that…I agree with you it’s grace from beginning to end, but I believe that God invites us – and I think that the…the…the scriptures are clear on this – that God invites us into participation in that. Yes, it’s God’s work and God invites us to cooperate with that.

JOHN: What if we…what if we don’t cooperate with that? What happens to someone who refuses to cooperate with the grace of God? Umm…as it…as it says in Romans 1:18, “to suppress the truth by their unrighteousness” – what happens to a person?

TONY: I imagine it’s not good (laughing). I imagine it’s not good news.

JOHN: Do we…do we…do we…

TONY: Jesus talks about…Jesus talks about a…

JOHN: Do you and I agree that there is a place called heaven and a place called hell?

TONY: Uh…I would agree with you that umm…the bible speaks of a place called heaven and a place called hell.

JOHN: Okay, but what do you believe? Do you believe that there’s a place called heaven and a place called hell?

TONY: I believe that I have faith that uh…what the bible says is (pausing) right.

JOHN: Who goes…who goes…

TONY: I don’t know…how do we…I’m not …guess what? If you can imagine, I’m not gonna’ play these games – who goes to heaven, who goes to hell – because I don’t know.

JOHN: It’s really not a game; I’m just saying it’s pretty clear…it’s pretty clear from the scripture who winds up there (pause) right? I mean isn’t it…would you agree that…that…the…the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of heaven? Is that clear enough or no?

TONY: I would say that umm…what is clear in scripture is that God will uh…God’s gonna’ dictate who goes where…

JOHN: Amen.

TONY: …that it’s up to God.

JOHN: Yeah, it is. So…so…so when Jesus…when Jesus gives us a call in Matthew 28 and also Luke 16:15, to go into all the world and preach the gospel…

TONY: Uh-huh.

JOHN: …umm…what is the reason that we go into all the world and preach the gospel besides the fact that He commanded us to? Umm…let me…let me ask you the question that way.

TONY: I think because what Jesus came to do and what Jesus did with his life and also proclaimed with his teaching…and umm…showed that He was the, you know as Paul said that He was the first fruits of a great new age in which God was going to have a relationship with all of creation in a way that God had not previously had a relationship with all of creation, and so in the same way that Jesus healed people, the same way that Jesus told people about the good news, and the same way that he preached that umm…that the meek, gentle will be the ones who inherit the kingdom – that’s exactly why we’re supposed to go out and tell people…that’s exactly what we’re supposed to go tell them.

JOHN: Okay. So, you would agree with…so you would agree that evangelism is a…is a legitimate umm…part of – or should be a part of — a Christian’s life?

TONY: Now look, I spend my life you know, writing and speaking about Jesus and about the bible and about theology and about God (long pause).

JOHN: Rusty’s got a question for you (phone rings in background). Go ahead jump in (long pause). Rusty?

RUSS: Yes, sir?

JOHN: Rusty, go ahead and jump in…you’ve got a question.

RUSS: Umm…my question is if uh…I got sidetracked here because of that phone ringing… (laughing). Sorry, I have a very short attention span. Umm…I don’t know, I guess what I…what I was thinking of was you know, how…how earlier umm…how Tony had said that there was plenty of people out there that was…who could change and say that God had absolutely nothing to do with it; but change is such a…such a huge part of…of even what Jesus said uh…in Matthew where He said uh…”not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in your name? And in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? And I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you, away from you evildoers’.” Now, my understanding of that passage of scripture is that He is referring to people within the church; umm…otherwise I don’t know why they would be prophesying in His name or driving out demons, or performing miracles.

TONY: (interrupting) Because Rusty there were no church…there was no church when he was saying that…there was no church, so He couldn’t have been talking about the church.

RUSS: He’s talking about a future event here – “not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven…”

TONY: (interrupting) No, He’s talking in the present tense – “not everyone who says to me.”

RUSS: Isn’t that speaking about judgment? This isn’t speaking about judgment?

TONY: He’s not saying that everyone…not everyone who will say to me…He saying everyone who says to me. (Long pause) It’s a present tense verb.

RUSS: He says not everyone who says to me.

TONY: And not everyone who says to me…He’s using a present tense verb, not a future tense verb there.

RUSS: But He’s talking about a future event…He’s talking about a future event.

TONY: You know that how?

RUSS: Within the context of the scripture.

TONY: Hmm…yeah (sarcastically) See, hmm…look, think we gonna’ keep hittin’ dead ends at this point, boys.

JOHN: Whoa, whoa, whoa…no I don’t think so, go ahead…Rusty just…we can…

TONY: He’s not talking about the church…there was no church at the time that Jesus was saying these things.

JOHN: He was speaking…he was actually speaking at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, He was speaking to the Pharisees, He was speaking directly to the people who believed that they were following…believed that they were following God, doing…doing God’s will…God’s plan, He was speaking specifically and directly to the Pharisees, but he was also speaking to them not only about things that were happening in the present, He was talking about…He was talking about…He was giving warnings – beware of false prophets, He was talking about umm…He was talking about the…the example of one who follows God and one who does not follow God – who builds their house upon rock versus one who builds it upon sand – the rock being the words of His…the words that He the words…

TONY: (interrupting) John; I know it!

JOHN: Okay, good. But I’m saying…now, but…but…He’s speaking…He’s speaking specifically to this group of people who, again are following the idea of they think God is and are saying that not everyone who says Lord, Lord will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but it’s the one who does the will of my Father, which is in heaven…

TONY: Now, tell me why you think in Chapter 7 of Matthew…why do you think He’s talking directly to the Pharisees in that passage of the Sermon on the Mount?

JOHN: Why do I think that?

TONY: Yeah, where do you get that?

JOHN: Why do I think He’s talking to the Pharisees? Because…because there….because at the beginning of the Sermon…at the beginning of the Sermon of the Mount, He sat down and He began to teach…

TONY: Yeah.

JOHN: …were making….were making umm…He is speaking and teaching, He is speaking and teaching to the crowds, and in Chapter 7, He transitions from…He transitions from umm…these teachings about…these teachings about the kingdom…the coming kingdom of God and He turns to…He turns to…He turns it and changes and changes it around from speaking to people that are entering into or desiring to enter into the kingdom of God…turning it around and pointing directly at those people who are in opposition to the kingdom of God, which at that time were those who were umm…not recognizing Him for who He was…the Pharisees…

TONY: (interrupting) that is…

JOHN: …the religious leaders

TONY: I don’t know where you get that information in the text of the Sermon on the Mount…that at some point in the latter third of the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus changes His audience?

JOHN: He’s still speaking to everybody, but He’s speaking specifically…but He’s speaking specifically…when we look at this – enter in by the narrow gates, for the gate is wide and heady that leads to destruction and those who enter it are many for the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Beware of false prophets…who’s He pointing to?

TONY: (starts to interrupt) He

JOHN: Is He talking…about future events or is He talking about the here and now?

TONY: He’s speaking to the people who are assembled in front of Him. He’s not suddenly speaking to the Pharisees and pointing a finger at anybody. (Long pause) There’s nothing in the text to indicate that His that…that…He’s changing to whom He is speaking in the …in the last third of…of the Sermon on the Mount at all…I don’t…I have no idea where you would get that and oh…yeah…and I don’t think that He is talking…I do not think that the Sermon on the Mount is a prophesy about the future.

JOHN: Of course.

TONY: I do think that Jesus is saying, “Look, that…these are…these…this is the way my kingdom works. Like, this is how you need to live because these are the new rules by which we’re going to live.” So it definitely has implications for us today and for the future, but I don’t think in any way that these are…how it’s going to be; I think He’s telling the people right then that they should be aware of you know, false prophets who come in sheep’s clothing and things like that.

JOHN: I…I think so…I think so, too. I agree with you, but this is also talking about entering into the kingdom of heaven…entering into the kingdom of heaven, Verse 21 of Chapter 7 talks about umm…entering into the kingdom of heaven, “not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord – that makes a verbal confession…you know you and I agree not everybody who prays a prayer or says, “I’m a Christian” – will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but it’s the one who does the will of my Father, which is in heaven.”

TONY: Yup.

JOHN: Okay?

TONY: Sounds like works-based righteousness to me.

JOHN: (laughing) Does it?

TONY: Sounds a lot like James…sounds a lot like His brother James, doesn’t it?

JOHN: Yes, it does.

TONY: Hey, I’m going to have to…I’m going to have to get rolling here in a couple of minutes and let you guys just uh…have at it without me.

JOHN: Okay…well hey…Tony, give us…give us some final words…umm…now…now…umm…you are again working on the I…I…can’t remember how you said it…

TONY: The Didache. Look…look here’s my final words, John…that…that…that for all of the back and forth and debating about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, and I know that you, and you know Todd Friel and uh…uh…you know, John MacArthur think that’s not what’s this is about, this is really life and death stuff how we understand who gets into the kingdom of heaven and who doesn’t…Jesus is pretty clear that we actually…that’s His thing to worry about – and He says it over and over again – you know, you…you disciples, you don’t need to worry about that even Paul doesn’t make a big deal about…you should worry about who’s in and who’s out, who’s going and who’s not going. He basically just says, “look these are the ways I think you need to live your life if you’re in the church…if you’re in this community of faith. Even if…even in Paul’s time there wasn’t really any church to speak of, yet; there were house churches that were meeting in these different towns that he started up, but nothing like we understand the church to be.

Umm…I…I think for us to end on that is a great place to end. It’s about doing the will of God and the will of our Father. And here’s…here’s a big difference that I’d love for you guys to chew on in the last minutes of your show after I get off…You would be hard pressed to find somebody in Emerging who’s written a book, who’s written a blog post, who’s said in a public setting, that John Piper or John MacArthur or Pastor-boy aren’t doing the will of God…aren’t trying…aren’t doing the will of God…they’re not doing the will of God. I wouldn’t say you’re not doing the will of your Father…of our Father. Okay? But I hear all the time from Conservatives…I just got another book in the mail yesterday from a guy in the Twin Cities named Bob DeWaay that are basically saying that people in Emergent aren’t doing…are not doing the will of the Father and I find that – I mean, if there’s anything that those who oppose us are going to be held accountable for by Jesus – it’s the way that you’ve talked about us and the way that…and here’s this…remember, what Jesus says is the unforgivable sin and that’s blasphemy of the Holy Spirit; and that comes in the context of people saying, “Jesus, there are people doing things in your name, we have to stop them from doing that. They must be doing things that are demonic”. And Jesus says, “Be very careful because don’t call something God’s Spirit is up to in the world, something that’s demonic because that’s the unforgivable sin – blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.” That is saying…that is pointing at something that God is doing in the world and saying, “That’s not God, that’s the evil one”. That’s blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and we should be darned careful about that.

JOHN: Tony, I want to thank you again for coming on…

TONY: My pleasure, John.

JOHN: I appreciate…I appreciate the conversation…the conversation that we have.

TONY: Great to meet you, Rusty.

JOHN: And…and…and we’re…we’re again, we’re appreciative of your time and everything else. And so, I think maybe, I might see you at Christianity 21 coming up, here in October.

TONY: That right?

JOHN: Yeah, yeah.

TONY: Okay.

JOHN: I’ll probably be the guy outside holding signs. (Laughing).

TONY: Oh, that’s great.

JOHN: I love you Tony; talk to you later.

TONY: That’s for the unity of the church, see you guys.

JOHN: Okay, bye.

See also: