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The following blog piece comes from the article “Hospitality for Heretics” by Phillip Jensen on page 11 of The Briefing, issue 397, Jan-Feb 2012. This excellent bimonthly periodical comes in a print version, but is also available on line. An excerpt of this article is given below. The rest of Phillip’s article can be viewed online here.
Philip speaks about the positive passages of Scripture regarding the Christian duty of hospitality. He says that it “is therefore startling to read in John’s second letter: “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works” (2 John 10-11). For some scholars this seems inconsistent with John’s emphasis upon love.
“The Rev C.H.Dodd was an ordained Congregationalist minister and a world famous New Testament scholar of the mid-twentieth century. He was a Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University, given the responsibility of training generations of church leaders. In his commentary on 2 John 10, Professor Dodd wrote that John had “incautiously expressed himself”, and recommended that we “decline to accept the Presbyter’s (i.e. John’s) ruling here as a sufficient guide to Christian conduct”. Jesus’ love and death were for the whole world and so it is not “possible to exclude from its operation even the most obdurate heretic”. Thus we must keep on speaking terms with people “however disastrous their error may be”.
“So how does a Professor of Divinity, a New Testament scholar and an ordained clergyman explain his rejection of the teaching of the New Testament? Simply by finding a context, outside the scriptures, that would make the Biblical command temporary, local and no longer applicable. It’s a method used to follow the world, rather than the word. It’s not hard to think of disputes, where even so-called Evangelicals, use this method.
“To discount the clear teaching of God’s word, professor Dodd suggested that John’s advice was for a “situation of extreme danger to the Church”, a situation of “being overwhelmed by a plausible and pseudo-Christian theosophy”… By this method of so-called ‘scholarship’, John’s commands are reduced to “emergency regulations…in the hour of stress”.
“This method of dealing with politically incorrect scriptures enables people to maintain some degree of orthodox Christian standing while disagreeing with the Bible.
“The creation of purported historical scenarios to re-contextualise the clear teaching of scripture is a false method that evangelicals must avoid. An evangelical is not one who professes belief in the Bible as the word of God, but one who, without twisting it, lives by what it says (2 Peter 3:16, James 1:22).