I have been commenting on the Stand to Reason blog in response to claims being made by Frank Beckwith. You can see the comment thread here. As I noted yesterday, I will be reviewing the STR interview today on the DL. One of the issues I will be discussing early on is the fact that I felt Beckwith, at one point, took advantage of Koukl’s friendship in launching into a complaint that he didn’t feel the interview was going the direction he had expected. He wanted a “safe” place to “share” his “journey.” While that sounds wonderfully fluffy and warm, I do wonder—would either Beckwith or Koukl let a person who had once been a leader in the pro-life movement, who switched and become pro-abortion, come on the program to just “share their journey,” and use such reasoning to avoid direct, fair, relevant questions? I would surely hope not. Yet, that is what Beckwith was asking. As the President of ETS the man took an action that had implications far beyond himself (to whom much is given, much is required). This isn’t about Frank Beckwith’s feelings. It’s about the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. So Dr. Beckwith, if you don’t want to be challenged, do not put yourself in the position of acting like a Catholic apologist. You can’t seem to make up your mind if you are going to try to take on that mantle or not. But Greg Koukl was right up front in the very first comments he made on the program. He said there was going to be disagreement. It is hardly fair to get into the discussion, demonstrate that you simply don’t have any meaningful answers (let alone biblically compelling ones), and then complain that you were just looking for a “safe place” in which to “share your journey.”
   Jimmy Akin has picked up the “Koukl was unfair to Beckwith” drum here. Beckwith, whose presentation lacked any kind of biblical foundation, and who struggled to even remember where Paul spoke of “working out your salvation” (Philippians 2:12-13, Koukl had to help him out with it) let alone provide a meaningful context for the passage, complained that Koukl was “steamrolling” him, using an unfair tactic in debate. It is a given that a biblically-based Protestant is going to be far more biblically oriented in his own self-definition of his views than a Roman Catholic. It is really hard to use the Bible to express so much of Rome’s unique theology, at least in a meaningful, contextual fashion. So it is hardly surprising that Koukl’s presentation contained far more Scripture than Beckwith’s. But if Koukl’s use of Scripture is wrong, then why didn’t Beckwith provide a succinct, compelling refutation of his misuse of those texts? Because that is not what Beckwith is trained to do. He is not a theologian. He is a philosopher. I think one of the things that has surprised him in the response to his action is that he cannot understand why anyone would see this as such a big thing. For him, this is mainly a philosophical “paradigm shift.” Let’s face the facts here: Beckwith was raised in Roman Catholicism, and I have never once heard him speak of a soul-shattering, repentance bringing, heart changing conversion to the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ. Instead, we have a man who was Jesuit trained in his schooling, who admits that he continued to hold Rome’s view of man and law and nature all along, who existed in “evangelicalism” for a number of years. Given the sad state of affairs in “evangelicalism,” he was never challenged on these matters, but eventually found it more comfortable to re-adjust his paradigm and go back to communion with Rome. I do not see any reason whatsoever to believe that he ever had a heart-felt commitment—coupled with any level of serious knowledge of the issues involved, theologically, historically, and biblically—to sola fide. Remember, he had never even read the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent! He surely never associated himself with an emphasis upon the doctrines of grace.
   In any case, I surely felt for Greg Koukl while listening to that interview. I will say this in light of the final comments I heard on the mp3 currently available at str.org: much was made of the friendship between Koukl and Beckwith. It is just here I guess I get my reputation for being so “hard nosed” in the current post-modern situation, even in the church. Friendship that includes a common commitment to the gospel is something completely different than friendship without it. I may have cordial relationships with non Christians, but I cannot think of anyone I would call a true friend who is not a fellow believer in Christ. And I could never call a man a “friend” who was leading others to trust in a false hope, leading others away from the truth in Christ. Pretending to confess the truth of the gospel, and then denying that confession, has lasting results.

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