Evangelistic small groups

Jim Valekis, lead pastor of the Grace Communion International (GCI) church in Tipp City, Ohio has written a thoroughly Trinitarian curriculum for use with seekers and new believers. It's titled The Hope of Jesus. To download a copy, click here.

This curriculum is ideal for what GCI refers to as FaithTalk groups. GCI resources these evangelistic small groups at FaithTalk equipper.

FaithTalk groups are safe places where people discuss their spiritual interest. Over time, the opportunity typically arises to share with group members the exceedingly good news that, in Jesus, all people are loved, forgiven and accepted by God. As interest is shown, group members are invited to personally receive this good news through repentance and faith, and to commit their lives to following Jesus.

I hope readers of The Surprising God will find these FaithTalk resources helpful in their ministries.

Click on the image below to watch a video in which Jim Valekis and his wife Becky discuss their use of The Hope of Jesus and other tools in discipling followers of Jesus in the context of a Trinitarian, incarnational theology.


Anonymous said…
After reading this bible study, I find the works by John Best and Lee LeFebre, TRINITARIANISM, Examined by the Word of the Triune God, essential to add to the discussion of Trinitarianism – not orthodox Trinitarianism – but the Karl Barth, T. F. Torrance, C. Baxter Kruger of the neo-orthodoxy brand. This paper should be read by anyone flirting with accepting the neo-orthodox brand of Trinitarianism as doctrine.

Excerpts include:

“Any interpretation of a particular passage must be in agreement with other passages of Scripture. Paul clearly states in Romans that justification is granted only to those who believe; (1:16-17, 3:22, 28, 5:1). See also Romans 4 which is entirely devoted to justification and righteousness being given to those who believe; NOT ALL HUMANITY” [emphasis mine].

“Convoluted and exotic interpretations have led to every cult in Christianity, as with this one.”

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor the drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

John 3:18 “He who believes in Him is not judged, he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

By continuing to use proper hermeneutics and exegesis of Scripture, I could go on substantiating the heresy of inclusivism; but I would rather that you all prayerfully take the time to read the short paper referred to above. This heresy will not be taught at our loosely affiliated GCI congregation as long as we have those who are committed to sound doctrine and standing firm in the faith once delivered.

I pray for the leadership at GCI, that they will at some point in the treacherous history of WCG – of which I was born and raised – turn from the wicked ways of the philosophies of man and turn to the Holy Scripture for their doctrine. My heart breaks for you and desires a time that WCG/GCI comes fully to faith, because right now, I fear you are preaching another Jesus, Galatians 1:8-9 "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."

2 Timothy 4:3-4 ”For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
I sign this anonymous only to protect my congregation.
Ted Johnston said…
I read the referenced paper by Best and LeFebre. I don't find it to be credible in that they are attacking what they clearly do not understand. It's one thing to understand a position and then take exception to it. It's another to take exception to what another person is not saying. In particular I do not find credible their contention that "trinitarianism" (as they name it) is a recent invention that is heretical. In fact, the theology, which is examined on this blog is not a recent innovation at all, but a recapitulation of the theology embraced by the ancient church fathers who, themselves, were the framers of the doctrine of the Trinity (and also among those who helped to determine the content of the New Testament). Since that time, various theologies have developed within orthodox Christian circles. We might prefer one over another, but to label those we disagree with as heretical does a disservice to us all in that it leads to division within the Body of Christ, which Jesus himself decries.

It is clear that Best and LeFebre have not done their homework and do not undertand the theology advanced by Barth, Torrance and others who embrace a Trinitarian, incarnational theology, which is grounded in Scripture as understood by many of the early church theologians (Athanasius, the Cappadocian fathers, etc). A key point in that theology is to understand the distinction between what is true for all humanity through what Christ has done, and what then is true for individual persons. What is universally true of all, in Christ, must be personally received. Anonymous in his post (like Best and LeFebre) quotes certain passages of Scripture that speak to the personal/individual experience. However, there are many other verses of scripture which speak to the universal (objective) reality. It is simply not biblically faithful to focus on one to the exclusion of the other. Their ability to do so is based, largely, on a flawed understanding of the nature of salvation itself.

By the way, if readers of this blog would like to read a more carefully reasoned critique of Trinitarian theology, I recommend the Christianity Today article by Roger Olson, which is titled "Election is for Everyone" (at http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/january-february/election-is-for-everyone.html). Olson refers to what this blog calls "Trinitarian, incarnational theology" as "Evangelical Calvinism." Though I don't agree with Olson, I find his analysis to be careful, respectful and thus helpful. I don't find that the analysis by Best and LeFebre meets any of these criteria.

I would encourage anonymous to continue studying, and to look for authors that are respected theologians who understand what they critique and do so with a spirit of humility and grace. To refer to Trinitarian, incarnational theology as treachery, wickedness and heresy is a very serious, and in my view, unwarranted accusation. We certainly don't label brothers and sisters in Christ who embrace other Christian theologies as heretics, after all, we all embrace the same fundamental "sound doctrine"--that is the orthodox Christian doctrine set forth in the early church Creeds.
Janice said…
I totally agree with your reply Ted. I also grew up in WCG/GCI and I was not afraid to take a childlike look at the "new" doctrines of the early 90's which were actually the original doctrines. God says plainly that his desire is for ALL to receive salvation. To me it is bordering on diminishing God to think that he will not be able to accomplish His gracious purpose for ALL. Death is no stumbling block to Him, He will continue to work (he has forever to do it) with all who have ever lived until they embrace His shocking grace.
Ted Johnston said…
Thanks for your comment Janice. On a related note, see the GCI Weekly Update article on Universalism, which is posted at http://update.gci.org/2013/01/universalism/