Thinking Out Loud

February 9, 2015

“We Walked Away”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:55 am

And then if you can walk away
Knowing all he died to do
That’s when I’ll just have to say
I guess he didn’t die for you

Back in the 1970s, the gospel singer simply known as Evie popularized the song “Say ‘I Do'” which contains the lyrics quoted above. Later on, because of concerns with limited atonement, an alternative version sprang up:

And then if you can walk away
Knowing all he died to do
That’s when I’ll just have to say
I guess he died in vain for you

Earlier on the weekend we ran into someone who we knew from a church we attended many, many years ago. She and her husband were very, very involved. After some very brief catching up, I asked her where things were at with her and her husband and God. I think in the back of my mind I knew the answer, having heard something a long time ago from someone else, but still, there’s nothing quite like hearing someone look you in the eye and say, “I would describe myself as a humanist, but I have a personal spirituality.  [Her husband] would describe himself as an atheist.  Our marriage was crumbling, and we were both afraid that our doubts would ruin our marriage, and then we talked about it and discovered we had the same doubts…” Later she added the words, “We walked away…”

Usually in my line of work, I run into people who are far from God, but possibly moving toward the cross. I also run into secularists who never had a faith to begin with, but might be open to a discussion. But not so much people who were there — so there — and left.

I don’t want to break out into a theological discussion today on the eternal security of the believer, or the perseverance of the saints, or whether or not someone was actually on the inside to begin with, but these verses in Hebrews 6 crossed my mind,

For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened–those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come–and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.   (4-6, NLT)

My thoughts also turned to a section at the opening of Lee Strobel’s book The Case for Faith where he flies to Toronto to interview Charles Templeton. The Christian Courier does a better job of telling this:

In doing research for his latest book, The Case For Faith (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), Strobel sought out and was granted an interview with Templeton in his penthouse apartment on the 25th floor of a high rise in Toronto, Canada.

During the course of their conversation, Charles Templeton had again vigorously defended his disavowal of God and his rejection of the Bible. There was no apparent chink in the armor of his callused soul. Then, Strobel directed the old gentleman’s attention to Christ. How would he now assess Jesus at this stage of his life?

Strobel says that, amazingly, Templeton’s “body language softened.” His voice took on a “melancholy and reflective tone.” And then, incredibly, he said:

“He was the greatest human being who has ever lived. He was a moral genius. His ethical sense was unique. He was the intrinsically wisest person that I’ve ever encountered in my life or in my reading. His commitment was total and led to his own death, much to the detriment of the world.”

Mind you, he’s talking about the same Teacher who claimed to have existed eternally before Abraham was born (Jn. 8:58), who asserted his oneness of nature with God, the Father (Jn. 10:30), and who allowed men to honor him as “Lord and God” (Jn. 20:28). Which — if these things were not true — makes Jesus of Nazareth the most preposterous and outrageous “con-man” who ever walked the earth. Thousands happily went to their deaths, in the most horrible ways imaginable, confessing his deity.

But the interview continued.

Strobel quietly commented: “You sound like you really care about him.”

“Well, yes,” Templeton acknowledged, “he’s the most important thing in my life.” He stammered: “I . . . I . . . I adore him . . . Everything good I know, everything decent I know, everything pure I know, I learned from Jesus.”

Strobel was stunned. He listened in shock. He says that Templeton’s voice began to crack. He then said, “I . . . miss . . . him!” With that the old man burst into tears; with shaking frame, he wept bitterly.

Finally, Templeton gained control of his emotions and wiped away the tears. “Enough of that,” he said, as he waved his hand, as if to suggest that there would be no more questions along that line.

I miss him.

I wonder if my friend and her husband miss him. I just don’t usually get to see this so up close and personal. So final.

But I hope not final.

God, please cause them to reconsider…



  1. I imagine I will be thinking about this post for a few days for their is so much to contemplate. I am saddened by the story of your former church-mates. I too pray for their eternal well-being. I am quite surprised by the interview with Templeton. “I miss him,” sad doesn’t even begin to cover it. Thank you for sharing.

    Comment by MissyB — February 9, 2015 @ 12:41 pm

  2. Some have finished with “My Lord and Saviour still loves you” I didn’t favor the Calvinist take…”I guess He didn’t die for you” The gospel song “If that isn’t Love” has the words “Even in death He remembered the thief hanging by His side….He spoke with love and compassion and took him to paradise.” To fit Adventist theology the Heritage Singers revised it to say “And promised him paradise.” Say I Do was introduced by Baptist ministry student Ray Hildebrand shortly after his pop hit “Hey Paula.”

    Comment by Paul — February 13, 2015 @ 11:37 am

    • I actually have a couple of Ray Hildebrand LPs, I’ll have to check that; I knew Evie didn’t write it. You obviously have a strong connection to Christian music and a great memory. (Didn’t realize back in the day that the H.S. were Adventist, but in my younger days the nuances would have been lost on me. Still, they were widely distributed, but I guess back then Christian bookstores carried Mormon Tabernacle Choir; today I’m not sure they would.)

      It’s interesting that when a song contains actual theology, it becomes controversial. I’m thinking of In Christ Alone in particular. I loved that song when it first came out, and now I simply can’t enjoy it because of all the various agendas.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — February 13, 2015 @ 12:13 pm

      • Another Evie recording I love is with the Maranatha Singers….Spirit Song. Written by John Wimber,this was for years the theme song for Chuck Smith’s daily radio broadcast. Always enjoyed his sweet,low key manner. Was saddened to hear of his passing, also of some of the leadership conflicts at Calvary Chapel. I marvel at the Maranatha catalog that came from such humble beginnings. Some maybe a bit bland for these times,but often right in my wheelhouse. Your gracious principled oversight of the valuable resources offered up at these sites is to be applauded and appreciated.

        Comment by Paul — February 13, 2015 @ 11:05 pm

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