The New Christians

The New Christians

Talking Original Sin with Todd Friel

posted by Tony Jones

Todd Friel.png I’ll be on Todd Friel’s “Wretched Radio” program today at 3pm EST to talk about my recent posts on Original Sin.  His show is on Sirius Radio and online.

Call in!

UPDATE: Not going on the show today.  Todd and I just spoke on the phone.  He didn’t really want to talk about Original Sin but use that as a jumping off point to justification and soteriology.  He made it clear that he thinks I am “knocking on the door” of heresy.  He fears for my eternal salvation.

So, we chatted at length and decided not to have the radio interview today. Too much at stake.  We’re going to reschedule it for a couple of weeks from now.

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posted February 2, 2009 at 10:49 am

oh dear.

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posted February 2, 2009 at 12:05 pm

You heard/saw the show with Doug, didn’t you? Be ready for some good ole traditional Christian hospitality toward those that are a bit different than the rather narrow norm.

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Steve K.

posted February 2, 2009 at 1:34 pm

I hope this doesn’t contribute to your back problems, although I fear it will … the stress, ya know? not good …

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posted February 2, 2009 at 1:59 pm

i wish you good luck with your back, and much strength with Todd.
Are you sure you want to waste your energy on that?
kind regards..
peTer (from the Netherlands)

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Dan H

posted February 2, 2009 at 2:07 pm

Well, gosh, if your eternal salvation is at stake, then I guess you might want to take a few extra days to study up :).
I’m not familiar with Todd–guess I should look up what’s up with this guy.

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posted February 2, 2009 at 2:26 pm

it’s just as well. now i’ll actually get my reading done as planned!

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Rev Dave

posted February 2, 2009 at 3:11 pm

Nothing quite like “I fear for your eternal soul” to really jumpstart a mutually respectful, reasoned, helpful dialogue. *sigh*
I’d never heard of this guy and his *wacky* show before, but it didn’t take more than a few minutes on his website to sniff out the canyon of distance between his understanding of faith and Tony’s.
“Find out if you are a real Christian”!?!? I mean, really…who does this guy Todd think he is?

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Blake Huggins

posted February 2, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Well, I’m listening anyway, just for kicks. And you’re pretty much getting debated anyway, I dare say vilified.
I don’t know how you do it Tony, I really don’t. Kudos.

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posted February 2, 2009 at 3:37 pm

What Todd said: He made it clear that he thinks I am “knocking on the door” of heresy. He fears for my eternal salvation.
What Todd means: He’s going to kick your butt, proving how wrong, immoral, and terrible you are.

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posted February 2, 2009 at 5:43 pm

So…the Emerging Conversation can only take place when the person doesn’t think you’re heretical? It can only take place with people who practically agree with you already?
Isn’t Todd entitled to his opinion? How hard is it to just go on there, explain your position, and turn around and explain how it’s not really heretical?
“Emergent Conversation” is really starting to look more like, “I talk, you listen” or “Converse with me…only if you agree with me.”

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posted February 2, 2009 at 6:19 pm

@ Joel,
Which is exactly why Tony is appearing on a radio show hosted by someone who disagrees…

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Fred Knowlton

posted February 2, 2009 at 6:31 pm

Did you guys miss the part where he said he would be back on the show in about 3 weeks? I would have backed out too. The topic(Original Sin) was agreed upon and then Todd decided he wanted to go in a different direction. Tony is entitled to bow out and return when prepared for the topic at hand.

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posted February 2, 2009 at 7:08 pm

One. I don’t agree with Tony on the doctrine of Original Sin. I believe the doctrine if Original Sin, rightly understood, is vital for understanding human beings.
Two. As an illustration of the doctrine of Original Sin, I point to myself as Exhibit A. I sinfully assume that Todd will approach Tony with a “gotcha” attitude. (What does that say about me? Sinner! Somebody in need of liberation and a Liberator)
Three. To answer your question… yes, Todd is entitled to his opinion!
Four. I don’t agree with “emergents” on everything. That’s impossible. What I do resonate with is “how” they have the conversation.
Hope this clarifies,
Sinner Tim

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posted February 2, 2009 at 8:01 pm

Actually Joel, the track record is that many critics of the Emerging Church do play a game of “gotcha”. It’s not unreasonable for the community around Tony to have a sense that the same game will be played again.
Maybe you’re not familiar with Mr. Friel and the tone and methods of his radio show in general. I don’t know.
It’s not uncharitable to make decisions based on a consistent body of evidence in someone’s demonstrated behavior.

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posted February 2, 2009 at 8:19 pm

“Evangelical” Christians (EC) calling other “Evangelical” Christians “heretics.”
Now that’s a laugh. Most ECs couldn’t affirm all the tenets and professions of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed as it was originally understood and meant by its authors, yet they call other ECs whose views diverge from theirs “heretics.”
Kinda like a pot calling a kettle black, doncha think?
Earth to ECs: You/We are all heretics and/or schismatics.

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posted February 2, 2009 at 9:40 pm

I have been following your posts on ‘Original Sin’ and find the post quite engaging. Although I don’t think I agree with your position but I’m interested in how you develop them. So although I don’t agree with you on this I find the discussion interesting. On the part of Tod Friel, I must say that although someone has the right to his opinions and stuff like that it seems like he is not in for conversation or discussion, which to me totally defeats the purpose of inviting anyone who has a different position on things. Well that is my opinion though.

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posted February 2, 2009 at 10:26 pm

Todd is right on this issue and Tony is wrong.

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Tony Jones

posted February 3, 2009 at 12:18 am

Joel, I have consistently told Todd and his producer that I will appear on his show. On the day before the election, I was the only pro-Obama Christian they could find who would come on and talk about Obama’s plan to reduce abortions. Todd’s producer has been in touch with me since then.
Todd made a personal call to me today to let me know that he thinks my soul is in danger. It was, IMHO, a very kind and Christian thing to do. He wanted to talk to me personally and express his concern and love for me (his words) rather than surprise me with a charge of heresy on the show.
I believe that he talked about me on the show today, but I don’t know what he said. And I don’t know if I’ll go on the show in the future. I need to discern whether it would be a wise choice, for me and for the Body of Christ. I’m open to advice…

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posted February 3, 2009 at 1:18 am

I think you should. Even if met with vile discourse, someone is bound to learn something. Though I highly disagree with you on a number of issues, it’s safe to say I’ve learned more about Christianity (specifically helping the poor) through your writings than any other conservative writer. Likewise, though I highly disagree with you on Original Sin, I think your discourse is a breath of fresh air because it allows those of us who disagree to still believe humanity is good. In other words, it’s not all “humans are pure evil” (one extreme) or “humans are born good” (your extreme…or at least from what I’ve read), it’s a little bit of both. However, you provide some perspective on that.
You have to figure though, Tony, a lot of us are apprehensive. We see how ‘we’ (conservatives) are talked about in your books, Caputo’s books, and so on. We’re met with quite a bit of hostility from the EC side as well – so I still stick by my original comment.
Also, I think he’s warranted in his worry for you. How far away are you from becoming like Rollins or Caputo where you begin to deny God’s sovereignty (and I don’t mean that in the Calvinist sense, but in the general theological sense) or even His existence as a being? How close to the edge are you to saying that Christ died against his will and the will of God (again, as Caputo says)? You hold sway over a lot of Christians, so where you go on these issues worries conservatives like myself. This probably explains his concern and also why I think you should go on the show (to either confirm or ease our suspicions).
In the end, we’re entitled to nothing. Maybe it’s the 10 years I’ve been involved in a debate (either as a competitor or coach), maybe it’s that I like hearing what you have to say (even though I disagree most of the time), but I think you should go on the show. Even in controversy someone is bound to learn something.

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Dave Metz

posted February 3, 2009 at 1:20 am

EricW said: “Most ECs couldn’t affirm all the tenets and professions of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed as it was originally understood and meant by its authors”
Eric, I would love to know how the creeds were originally understood and meant by their authors. Unfortunately, that is impossible since we cannot look into someone’s head.
I would put myself loosely in the camp of and evangelical, and I would also say that I affirm all of the tenets and professions of those creeds as I understand them to be meant and originally understood… just as you probably affirm them as YOU understand them to be meant and originally understood.
But I would be interested in hearing how you think they were originally meant and understood.

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posted February 3, 2009 at 1:28 am

For the record, I’m concerned for your eternal salvation as well. I’ve been sincerely praying that you wake up and repent and trust Christ nearly every day, along with your pastor, your friend Mr. McLaren, and many others in the emergent movement.
At least you post this stuff. I try to share my honest and heartfelt concern on your pastor’s blog, and he tells me to never share it with him again and doesn’t post anything I say. Oh well. I’ll still be praying.

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posted February 3, 2009 at 1:34 am

Hey Tony,
I don’t think it would be beneficial for you to be on Todd’s program. It might be interesting for those of us who enjoy a good conversation (a semi-heated one at that), but I don’t think that his show is really intended for good conversation. I remember when Doug was on the show and how quickly it spiraled out of control into something completely unrelated (the issue of hell I think). A lot of what Doug said was completely misunderstood by Todd and, to be fair, some of what Todd said was misunderstood by Doug. It may be different for you or it may not. Either way, I don’t think it will be helpful for your growth or his (or ours, as the entire Body). Since you asked for advice, this is mine.

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Tony Jones

posted February 3, 2009 at 7:49 am

I do trust Christ.

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posted February 3, 2009 at 9:42 am

Dave Metz:
Re: the Creed and Protestant “Evangelical” Christians, I thinking specifically of the clauses referring to “one holy, catholic and apostolic church” and “one baptism for the remission of sins.” The bishops who assembled at Nicea and later at Constantinople and wrote the Creed had specific views about church structure and hierarchy and authority and baptismal regeneration that many Evangelical Christians would not and could not affirm today, as it conflicts with their ecclesiology and soteriology and hamartiology. By disagreeing with these things, such Evangelical Christians would by definition be heretics, schismatics and/or apostates.
Also, these bishops’ role was Eucharistic in function (see, e.g., Ignatius and Cyprian, I believe), and most Evangelicals reject these bishops’ Eucharistic role and its necessity and their understanding of the Eucharist.
By the time of the Creed the church was sacramental, hierarchical, eucharistic and episcopal everywhere, or nearly everywhere. That is the context in which the Creed was written and understood and meant by its authors, esp. re: the one holy, catholic and apostolic church. The bishops were the successors of the Apostles, not just in terms of what they taught, but in terms of occupying the charism and function of apostle as well as that of the prophet, which for various reasons (not sure what, though) had largely disappeared.
Or so I think. :^)

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dustin germain

posted February 3, 2009 at 10:33 am

i hope you do the interview tony. but it begs the question, isn’t the issue of justification like…xtianity 101? isn’t that the most basic tenant of christianity? i guess i don’t understand why you would need several weeks to prepare…

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posted February 3, 2009 at 12:11 pm

Whether people agree with you or not, your thoughts and questions are echoed by many Christians and are worthy of a meaningful discussion. If there can be that with Todd, I think it would be worthwhile.

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posted February 3, 2009 at 3:03 pm

I am extremely concerned about the state of Todd Friel’s soul. I am also very worried about the salvation of Joel (above in this thread, February 3, 2009 1:18 AM) and also Jason (February 3, 2009 1:28 AM). I am praying fervently for all of you.

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posted February 3, 2009 at 6:51 pm

@Jolson, does sarcasm about one’s salvation make you feel better?
@Tony, I think you should go on the show. While I strongly disagree with many of your views, I still enjoy hearing your thoughts. I think the “dialogue” thing is a positive of the EC. The problem is that sometimes this dialogue leads to rejection of past beliefs simply because we have “experienced” or reasoned our way into something that feels better for us. But I enjoy discussing differing viewpoints and have been enlightened by a few commenters on here.
So, yeah, I guess my point is that you will be fine with Todd Friel as long as you answer questions openly and honestly. That’s really all he asks for. He may be a bit pushy and harsh, but he just doesn’t like when his interviewees (is that a word?) dance around topics, e.g. Doug Pagitt.
Incidentally, the layout of Solomon’s Porch intrigues me. I love the idea of meeting in a round, sitting on comfy couches, and discussing Christ and the Scriptures together. However, I would still stick to my boring, old conservative, Calvinistic theology. But [sigh] I digress… ;)

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posted February 3, 2009 at 9:01 pm

When we talk about “eternal salvation”? What does this mean, concretely?
What are we being saved “from”?
What are we being saved “to”?
Most Christians seem to have reversed the Prayer Jesus taught us. While Jesus was God coming down from heaven to earth, and his prayer was “you Kingdom and will come down to earth, as in heaven”- the focus seems to be getting up to heaven after we die, and that’s the entire goal of Christians and their time on earth. Getting that ticket to heaven.

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Matt S

posted February 4, 2009 at 2:04 am

Thank God that Tony Jones says I am not a sinner! Woo hoo! Those early church fathers, what a bunch of dopes! Thank God for these new prophets! Here I come world! Who needs this Bible and that Jesus guy?

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posted February 4, 2009 at 10:50 am

Seriously, just stay away from the show, T. It only serves to inflame a group of people that have no interest in really understanding you or where you are coming from.
If you kick a hornets nest, you don’t get to complain about getting stung.
If people actually come after you, then answer them, but don’t volunteer for the lion’s den.

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posted February 4, 2009 at 2:39 pm

It may be worthwhile for Tony to participate for the fair-minded commenters such as Ethan. But for those who mock and stereotype his opinions, who incessantly grieve over their confidence in his eternal destination, and who lack much charity (whatever their perspective), I could understand forgoing such a show.
No matter what I believe, there will always be those who would mock it, seek to exploit any mistakes or uncertainty, and feign concern for my salvation. Even genuine concerns would be difficult to respond to for someone in prominent public view like Tony. I try to think of it as an expression of kindness when a Jehovah’s witness basically questions my salvation without knowing me or what I believe. They’d do the same of all those questioning Tony’s salvation.
By having various beliefs (which cannot be avoided) there will always be some who disagree and some others who disagree and additionally think salvation is in the balance. Considering evidence, ideas, experiences, and being attentive to the voice of God are the only ways I know that would change my beliefs. Finding out someone thinks I’m wrong and may go to hell tells me they either truly care about me, sort of care about souls in the abstract, or care about keeping me away from their loved ones. But if it actually could change my beliefs then I’m not certain my beliefs have much substance since they could shift based on fear and a sort of lonely appreciation for someone caring about me. I don’t know maybe that does work? Though I’m not sure how lasting the change would be.

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Florin Paladie

posted February 5, 2009 at 1:47 pm

I think you should agree to go on the show ONLY if Todd is willing to work with you, in advance, on the format of discussion.
Here’s a possible format.
Todd will briefly present his position on the issue and you present yours. Then have each one present his points of concern with the other’s position, allowing for the other’s reaction. Agree mutually to not bash each other in the end, but let listeners draw their own conclusions.

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posted February 26, 2009 at 7:44 am


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