My First Christological Discussion with Dr. S. Lewis Johnson—Section D
Here are other points Dr. S. Lewis Johnson and I discussed that day, but not in this order. I do not recall what Lewis’ response was when I mentioned that God raised Christ from the dead and that days later Christ ascended to heaven and sat down at the right hand of God on God’s throne. I then proposed that God so acting upon Christ suggests that Christ was subordinate to God. I don’t recall Lewis’ response, so I guess it didn’t make an impact on me.
I then mentioned that some Bible versions translate the last clause in Rom 9.5 as “God” being “blessed overall,” thus not calling Christ “God.” I think Lewis replied with something like this, that “only liberals, who deny the deity of Christ, translate it that way.”
When I asked Lewis what he thought about the apologists’ belief in the subordination of the Son to the Father regarding their essence, he claimed they believed in “a voluntary subordination,” thus not an essential subordination. When I responded that there have been many church leaders and theologians who have believed that Jesus was essentially subordinate to God, Lewis replied, “they were not true leaders of the church.”
We then discussed DTS’s doctrinal statement. The reason was that Lewis’s five-point Calvinism put him in conflict with the Seminary, which was four-point. The school had always overlooked this when Dr. Johnson signed his contract each year. He had told me that one day in a faculty meeting, one of the professors asked President John Walvoord if you had to adhere to every item in the school’s doctrinal statement when you sign your contract. Walvoord answered, “yes.” Lewis told me some of the faculty members then looked at him in silence. That declaration by Walvoord meant that Johnson could no longer teach at the school.
And that’s what happened—Lewis had to resign. For some time, he was without a job. But he told me he didn’t believe in trying to get a job with other schools. He believed that if was to happen, God would do so without his, viz., Lewis,’ help. Then one day TEDS near Chicago phoned Lewis and offered him a two-day per week teaching assignment in which he could commute by air if he desired. Lewis accepted. Years later, I asked Dr. Walvoord about Lewis’ resignation. He said he and Lewis met privately to discuss it, and both shed tears about it.
Near the close of our discussion that day, Lewis raised an interesting but unrelated issue. He asked me if I was still a posttribulational premillennialist. I answered, “Yes.” I had told him years earlier that I had studied this subject, even spending five whole days in DTS’s Mosher Library reading about the origins of pretribulationism, and I changed to believing in postribulationism. He then said there are certain doctrines not open for discussion in the evangelical church and that they should be. I asked him what they were. He answered: (1) the pretribulational rapture, (2) Christ’s substitutionary atonement, (3) eternal security, and (4) inerrancy of scripture. All four of these are affirmed in DTS’s doctrinal statement.
I then asked Lewis, “Don’t you mean DTS in particular and not the evangelical church?” He answered, “No.” I thought it was interesting that he listed the rapture first.
We ended this conversation amicably. Lewis kindly invited me to return and talk about it further. Even though our discussion was at times intense, Lewis still seemed to be friendly to me. That had drawn me to him originally, years ago. I drove back to my home in Houston. I had made it a one-day trip, with our discussion lasting six hours. But as soon as I drove a few blocks away from Lewis’ home, I stopped and wrote down everything I could remember about our discussion.
To see a list of titles of 130+ posts (2-3 pages) that are about Jesus not being God in the Bible, with a few about God not being a Trinity, at Kermit Zarley Blog click “Chistology” in the header bar. Most are condensations of my book, The Restitution of Jesus Christ. See my website servetustheevangelical.com, which is all about this book, with reviews, etc. Learn about my books and purchase them at kermitzarley.com. My books are: The Gospels Interwoven (1987); Palestine Is Coming: The Revival of Ancient Philistia (1990); The Third Day Bible Code (2006); The Restitution of Jesus Christ (2008); Warrior from Heaven (2009); Solving the Samaritan Riddle: Peter’s Kingdom Keys Explain Early Spirit Baptism (2015).