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Robert B. Thieme

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Robert B. Thieme

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The following is the conclusion from a Th.D. dissertation titled, ''Bob Thieme's Teachings on Christian Living.'' It was written by Joe Layton Wall, and ''published with revisions, by permission of Dallas Theological Seminary'':

The thesis of this dissertation is that R. B. Thieme, Jr., is a gifted brother in Christ who has had some significant exegetical and theological contributions to make to the body of Christ, but that certain of his current teachings and emphases, will not bear up under close exegetical scrutiny and, therefore, have resulted in faulty and erroneous doctrinal and practical conclusions, which, though still within the limits of historic Christian orthodoxy, tend to affect negatively the lives of his disciples and to hinder the maintenance of Christian unity. A brief summary of the concluding critiques of each chapter will demonstrate the basis for this thesis.

In Chapter I it was concluded that Thieme must be included in the circle of orthodox Christianity, but that his highly debatable teaching on the blood of Christ will not stand up under close scrutiny. It was also pointed out that Thieme's basic methodology, ICE, sounds good at first, but it too readily allows sound exegesis to be dominated by human categories and emphases, thus producing a weak foundation for his growing theological system. Unless this methodology is corrected, his future teaching will become more and more vulnerable to erroneous conclusions.

In the second chapter ten doctrines, foundational to Thieme's teaching on the Christian life were considered. Of these doctrines, certain ones stood out as highly questionable concepts. His view of Bible doctrine subtly allows a pastor-teacher to press his own personal interpretations and doctrinal systems with the same authority as the Scriptures themselves. It was noted also that Thieme's view of God's love as an anthropopathism cannot be accepted. Although his views of divine sovereignty and the angelic conflict are basically dependable, his analysis of the immaterial part of man forces far too much on the biblical terminology involved. Portions of his teaching on sin and evil, at first, appear to have some validity, but the problems raised by a careful word study of the terms involved, in comparison with the extensive implications drawn by Thieme in his system, leaves the entire teaching in this area open to question. It was also observed that Thieme's teachings with regard to the doctrine of grace and the people of God are basically sound except for his emphasis on a passive description of grace in human relations. Finally it was shown that his analysis of what he calls ''divine establishment'' and the place of the military appears to be more of an expression of Thieme's own personal opinions and political and social prejudices, rather than the product of consistent, sound exegesis. This has resulted in an unbalanced view of social justice and freedom, an unwarranted description of the United States as a priest nation, and an overemphasis on the role of the military.

The third chapter dealt with doctrines concerning basic spirituality. To the degree that these doctrines depend on the teachings of Chafer they are true to the scriptural emphasis. However, Thieme's modifications leave the believer with some wrong impressions, especially with regard to a mechanical view of confession and fellowship, an absolute view of the Spirit-filled life, and a view of the believer's responsibilities in living the Spirit-filled life that acknowledges only the need of confession to the exclusion of yielded obedience by faith. In addition Thieme's definition of ''love'' is greatly lacking.

The fourth chapter of this dissertation considered the subject of spiritual maturity. This is the area of study in which most of Thieme's more recent ''doctrinal breakthroughs'' have come. Although Thieme's doctrinal framework of biblical exposition appears to be extremely scholarly and complex, it is actually fraught with numerous unsupported presuppositions and unwarranted exegesis. The result is unbalanced doctrine which misrepresents the biblical emphasis on the Christian's life objective and fails to clarify the biblical method for true spiritual growth.

In chapter V Thieme's strong emphasis on two major doctrines was observed: the doctrine of right pastor and the doctrine of privacy. It was noted that the doctrine of privacy, as Thieme presents it, can easily be abused and result in Christian living that contradicts the biblical exhortation to brotherly love and fellowship. Of a more serious nature is Thieme's teaching concerning right pastor. This doctrine has a number of negative ramifications that can cause harm to the expression of true Christian unity and to the development of balanced spiritual lives.

The sixth chapter dealt with six different doctrines related to the Christian life. It was observed that all six, in the earlier form in which Thieme taught them, were sound and valuable contributions to the development of balanced, healthy Christian lives. However, it was noted that more recent revisions of these doctrines are beginning to affect most of them negatively, and the doctrine of right man-right woman was singled out as both exegetically unsound and practically harmful to some marital situations.

Of these many doctrines considered, certain doctrinal weaknesses and errors stand out as having the most serious, practical ramifications: Thieme's limited and mechanical view of the spiritual life, his emphasis on levels of maturity (exclusive of service) as the believerís life objectives, his doctrine of GAP, his doctrine of right pastor, his teaching on right man-right woman, and his definition of love.

To critically evaluate a man's doctrine and its practical ramifications is of little value unless concrete suggestions are forthcoming to correct and improve his teaching and unless positive advice is communicated to those affected by his teaching. There follows, therefore, three lists of recommendations: one to pastors under Thieme's influence, one to his students and one to other Christian leaders.
Conclusion of Bob Thieme's Teachings on Christian Living by Joe Layton Wall.


- Dissertation -
Christian Bob Thieme's Teachings on Christian Living by Joe Layton Wall. ''A Th.D. dissertation, published with revisions, by permission of Dallas Theological Seminary, originally entitled 'A Critical Examination of the Teachings by Robert B. Thieme, Jr., on the Christian Life'''
A balanced and fair evaluation of the extensive teachings of Robert Thieme has been overdue. The writer of this volume has achieved a balance between proper recognition of the good qualities of the teaching ministry of Colonel Robert B. Thieme and at the same time a candid evaluation and critique. The author has had a long and warm relationship to Colonel Thieme which has enabled him to show proper appreciation of those aspects of his ministry which are commendable. At the same time, he has not blindly ignored problems which many have noted in these same teachings. As one who has had a long personal relationship with Colonel Thieme, I have been distressed both by those who shower undiscerning praise upon his teachings as well as those who have been unfairly critical. While the comments of Dr. Wall and his analysis will probably not satisfy either the severe critics nor the avid followers of Colonel Thieme, this volume presents an evenhanded, fair analysis which will be welcomed by many Christians who have been searching for a thorough study and proper evaluation. It is hoped that this volume will put in proper perspective the questions which many people have raised, arising out of great admiration for Colonel Thieme or prompted by critical opposition. This volume is commended to the Christian reading public for its solid contribution.
John F. Walvoord

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Robert B. Thieme
First posted: Sep. 2, 2001
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