Hi Agnostic Gabe/Holy Fool and Davo
Gabe, I’m surprised you’ve heard it put quite like this before as I made it up for some people I was teaching some years ago (not the doctrine, the picture; in the original, I used the T-shirt and the ‘I’m with him’ arrow logo)… I suppose _un_great minds must think alike too!
Your mentioning that you’ve heard all this since being a child and have now grown to see the flaws in it all… has made me feel like an old dinosaur who’s got it all wrong (though I’m sure this wouldn’t have been your intention). But I’d be interested to be enlightened as to what all the flaws are.
Of course I don’t believe that sinners get into heaven (and make a hell of it); at some point we are ‘judged’ and ‘glorified’ and changed; we become new creations. I do not claim to understand how ANY of this works; only that I’m a sinner saved by grace etc., and, for sure, not depending on any good works of my own.
Holy Fool/Davo; thanks for your suggested links for me to examine different ideas of the Atonement. I haven’t followed any of them I’m afraid, as I’ve spent much of the 34 years since my conversion studying such stuff. You suggest that we “speak the truth - for US… as we know it (and understand it)” and this is what I was trying to do. I think it was Emerson who said ‘I hate quotations, tell me what you know’, and he had a point eh?
Finally, could I just say to anyone who has read this far that it feels weird to be defending (what I see as) traditional evangelical doctrine in this way as I believed (when joining this forum a couple of weeks ago) that the site was ‘evangelical’. I’m coming to think I I’m probably like a fish out of water. Maybe I should be in a different place; I’m not sure. (Post edited slightly 45 mins after first posting)
[quote=“davo, post:776, topic:6381, full:true”] Predominately the call to righteousness in the NT is by the very nature of things a call to believers…
Certainly, for the whole NT is addressed to believers! But doesn’t “predominantly” leave room for the reality that God pursues calling unbelievers to faith and righteous lives also.
I thank you for your thoughtful in depth response, and agree that God has regularly used working in some in order to reach the whole, But I’m hearing you to say something unfamiliar to me: i.e. God only seeks that certain people believe in him and thus be called to righteously serve him and his values. Am I hearing that right? That’d seem contrary to the kinds of texts I cited, and to how I hear the Bible’s storyline.
I know there are semantic difficulties here. And I suppose that because you see the work that God wants accomplished as already more complete than I do, you also put it that God does not call people “in terms of the redemptive task.” Whereas, I’d be more inclined to say that we are all called to share in the task in this world of fleshing out the work of redemption (and as one apostle puts it, to complete what was lacking in Jesus’ affliction). And my impression is that believers are called to invite everyone to redemptive repentance, faith, and the pursuit of righteousness in their lives. Am I wrong that NT believers saw God as desiring and calling everyone to this?
Or to seek clarity from the angle of a different example: When Gentile NT believers find that their instruction manual has Jesus in Matt. 25 portraying to the crowds the nature of being judged by God as based on which folk practiced care for the least, were they to interpret that such divine emphasis on righteous deeds as vital was only true for those before AD 70, or for those who had already believed, or that it revealed the ongoing nature of God that was relevant in their message to everyone?
Most definitely not my intention. That said, I have no issues with your belief, but I did take issue with some of these false constructs we create. Nowhere in the scripture does it say that God is going to sternly ask you “What are you doing here? Why do you deserve all of this?”, the closest we get is the parable of the wedding feast. Additionally, having Christ by your side only makes it look more ridiculous, because it shows the disconnect between the God and Jesus. Like, would the Father say to Jesus “Jesus, I told you about hanging out with these riff raff, he isn’t allowed here!” “Dad! you never trust me! Why do you hate all my friends?”… and then Jesus turns to his friend “I am sorry, but my father does not approve of you, we can’t be friends anymore”… Or maybe he said “Dad, it’s ok, he is with me” “Errm uhm, well, why didn’t you tell me sooner!? If it’s good enough for Jesus it’s good enough for me! Come on in son (or daughter!)”
Of course, I am being silly, but only to show, I think, how silly the whole scenario is.
As to Qaz,
You are right the Bible never directly says that people in heaven are perfect. But I think you would have a hard time holding onto the doctrines you do if you cast doubt on that. I mean, at that point, then God has no problem with sin.
I mean, you can’t hold to the fundamentalist viewpoint of “God can’t bare to look at sin! He is too holy for it!” (It’s like they view it as God’s kryptonite!) while at the same time insinuating that sinners are in heaven. Those two ideas are at odds with each other. Not saying you hold to one or the other, because I don’t know. But I think it is fairly evident, at least scripturally, that Heaven is a place of perfect goodness. I mean, if not, then all we have is a spectrum of goodness. So, some societies may in fact already be heaven! Why? Because the requirement isn’t perfection, it is some other thing and if the idea that earth can never be heaven because even the “best” person is not righteous enough, then we truly have a contradiction. In other words, a heaven that isn’t perfect isn’t so different from what we are capable of this world. Not much to look forward too, if you ask me.
My problem with paidion’s model is that IMO it makes Jesus’s brutal death and subsequent resurrection superfluous. Couldn’t Jesus have had a ministry teaching the same morals that he taught WITHOUT voluntarily being murdered at the end? Why would someone who followed those morals not be righteous if Jesus had done THAT instead?
Because sin is a disease, not just an act, and cannot be healed by following morality. It takes the filling of the Holy Spirit which is shed abroad in hearts because of the resurrection of Christ.
It’s good to be moral, naturally.
There was more than one reason for Jesus’ death. IMO we must couple that with a better understanding of sin as disease as well as transgression.
Your comment, Gabe, has me wondering again about the fate & destiny of those who died as children & were not born again at that time:
"Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” " (Jn.3:3)
As to perfection being a requirement, what about, for example, this passage:
1 Cor.6:9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who submit to or perform homosexual acts, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor verbal abusers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Time to provide a summary…of where we have been and where we are going - in this thread.
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where—” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“—so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
What we need is a new-life infusion, imo. People are not all bad, or as bad as they can be, thankfully, and many people do good things, even altruistic things, and who could fault them for that?
But I think that the truth about humanity comes from outside of humanity; and the diagnosis is not good - we’re dying from something that we don’t want to acknowledge; God in His grace has told us what He desires, and it is for us to have life, and that abundantly - and that is beyond our ability to produce. At least that’s the way I read it.
Dave, qaz just gave you your golden cow. Do what God wants you to do and all will be okay. And you shut him down. You do seem to be going back and forth between us taking care of business and God already have taken care of business. But that may well be simply my perception.
I would tend to say, qaz if that’s where you are in your understanding, stop sinning. But if you can somehow find in your search that God has loved you enough to take care of your sin, you probably need to stop sinning, which brings huge rewards in our life, and start being pro active for the good side. The understanding of the perils of sin is a gift from God, if you are realizing those feelings, you should act on them. In a round about way I think that is what Dave is saying. Though he has an interesting way of saying it.
“Prevenient grace is a Christian theological concept rooted in Arminian theology, though it appeared earlier in Catholic theology. It is divine grace that precedes human decision. In other words, God will start showing love to that individual at a certain point in his lifetime. It starts to happen to the individual without any consideration to anything he/she may have done either good or bad. The person does not have to be religious and most are just people who like all of mankind are evildoers. No previous action or thought induces God to act graciously, lovingly, and movingly towards them at that moment of their lives. It is up to that person to accept the sudden light of God’s love towards them and to respond in kind. As it is written in scripture God shows love towards all freely even if we don’t deserve it. Because everyone’s nature is corrupted by the effects of sin, prevenient grace allows persons to engage their God-given free will to choose the salvation offered by God in Jesus Christ or to reject that salvific offer.”
Chad, you are…what’s the word I’m looking for…ah yes…WRONG.
So wrong in fact that once again I’m stymied by your (wilful?) ignorance of plain old truth.
That’s what happens when a big -ism gets a-holt of some (not all, there are some -ism people that still keep an open mind) people. If it don’t fit the -ism, we don’t believe it. You big -ist, you.
And it is really cool because that’s what you accuse -ians of.
I don’t know why anyone would be offended at your words. There are millions who hold to the same view. However, without imputed righteousness we are not left without hope, because enabling grace has been made available to us through Christ’s sacrifice, and becoming righteous is a process. That sounds pretty hopeful to me! Please consider the following:
For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all people, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and to live sensible, righteous, and devout lives in the present age, expecting the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of the great God and of our Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; encourage and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you. (Titus 2:11-15)
How do we appropriate this enabling grace? We appropriate it through faith. Jesus died to provide this enabling grace, and by trusting Him to do so, it becomes a reality in our lives.
Many think “δικαιοσυνη,” The Greek word translated as “justification” to mean “being counted as righteous,” whether we are righteous or not. But the word often means “being made righteous.”
Working together [with Him], we entreat you not to accept the grace of God to no purpose. (2 Cor 6:1)
If we try to accept God’s grace in our lives without allowing it to purify us, to render us righteous, then we are accepting it to no purpose.
We must coöperate with God’s enabling grace. We alone cannot achieve consistent righteousness. And God alone will not cause us to be righteous. He respects our ablity to choose too much for that. We must coöperate with God’s enabling grace.
This coöperation with God is known as “synergy.” This English word comes from the Greek word “working together.” (συνεργουντες)
A particular group of denominations push “monergy.” This is the idea God did all the work concerning our righteousness, that we have no part in it at all. No wonder so many fall away, thinking that what they choose to do has no bearing on their standing with God.
However, I think the apostle Paul had it right. Concerning deliverance from wrongdoing, we need to work together with God, and so not to attempt accept the grace of God to no purpose.
As for Romans 7, Paul is not describing his own experience and inabilities to be righteous as many believe. He is using the “hypothetical I”; he is writing about a person struggling to obey God without the enabling grace of Christ, and how futile it is to so struggle. But note that in the last verse of ch 7 and the beginning of ch 8, Paul writes:
25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
Without God’s enabling grace, the best I can do is serve God in my imagination, but in that case, I actually serve my sinful inclinations.
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Yes, the righteous requirement of the law CAN be fulfilled in us who walk in keeping with the spirit of God. How can we walk in that way? By appropriating through faith the enabling grace made available through Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf.
Hi Paidion and thanks for your very gracious reply. I’m not unfamiliar with the views you propound either (synergy, NPP etc) and I certainly never let my own interpretation of ‘imputation’ suggest that I dont’t need to act in a way which pleases God, or ‘take my own part’ as it were in ‘working out’ my salvation (nor would I ever teach such to my students - quite the opposite!) I’m sure much of the confusion in these areas is caused by the underlying emphasis different Christians make between the initial salvation and the life of gradual sanctification which follows. I’m aware that many (I believe especially in the US in recent times) have got hold of the idea that they can have ‘salvation’ without the ‘Lordship of Christ’; i.e., that once saved, it kind of ‘doesn’t matter what I do, I’m okay’.
I certainly have never held to any such idea, nor do any of my evangelical acquaintances. I guess ‘imputation’ for me is summed up in the words of another modern worship song which talks about standing before the Lord; ‘In royal robes I don’t deserve/I live to serve your majesty’ (King of kings, Majesty).
And surely, ‘justification’ is just another, similar, ‘picture’ (for all of our talk in such areas has to be in metaphors and similes and the like), for trying to say that we are forgiven, and though we may not deserve to be accepted, we are; as Paul has it in 2 Cor 5:21 ‘He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.’ Rom 8:1, which you cite, is another, similar text which seems to underpin my own views as strongly as your own!
You have probably guessed that I’ve held my own views for a long time; changing them is not easy, though I’m always ready to listen, consider and pray about different ways of looking at things - go where I feel the truth leads, however uncomfortable that may become. The ‘universalism’ part of my faith is a problem as it could cause me difficulty in continuing my lecturing work etc. Neverthless, it has always attracted me and I continue to look into it - hence my appearance on this site.
God’s Law demands that we love Him with all our hearts, minds and souls and to love others as we love ourselves. That’s all it ever was and ever will be, just as it says in Deut. 10:16-20,“Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart and be stiff-necked no longer. for the Lord your God is God of gods, Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing, Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the Lord your God. You shall serve him, and to Him you shall hold fast and take oaths in His name.”
The everlasting covenant was and still is to circumcise the foreskin of your heart and God will be your God and you will be His son/daughter.
" I will look upon those who are humble and contrite of spirit."
The Levitical law says in 24:19-20 says this: “If a man causes disfigurement of his neighbor , as he has done, so shall it be done to him-fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has caused disfigurement of a man so shall it be done to him.”
If one should follow this law, it would make him/her a sinner.
The Levitical law also made everyone a sinner in the sense that it declared things to be sins that weren’t really sins. For example it was a sin to have a baby, a bodily discharge of any sort, to eat certain foods etc.etc. And of course, one was forced to make a sin offering to the priests for forgiveness, who in many cases were allowed to keep the offering for themselves or eat it, whichever they preferred. How convenient is this? I would say that the priests were becoming quite fat and wealthy off of this deal.
As Isaiah 28:13 says 'But the word of the Lord was to them precept upon precept, line upon line…"
Does God give people commands with no ability to follow them? Does He say, " Love your neighbor as yourself. Phych, sorry but I didn’t give you the power to do this. Oh well." I don’t think so.
Well, I came across an interesting article from Patheos in 2011. Let me quote a bit from it:
There’s been a lot of good discussion in the last post by Sola Ratione. I just thought I should point out one thing: the idea that the crucifixion was a blood sacrifice to obtain God’s forgiveness is not the only explanation. Lemme explain.
John Shelby Spong once said that at the outset of Christianity, all Christian theology consisted of the words, “Jesus is Lord.” Everything that has come after that has been an attempt to explain what those words mean.
That’s a bit simplistic, but it gets the point across. The earliest Christians probably believed that Jesus was divine, but weren’t sure exactly how. In the same way, they most likely believed that his death meant something, but were not unified or articulate in what that meaning was.
Over the eons, Christian theologians have come up with a number of theories as to how his death brought about salvation. Sabio over at Triangulations charts out the major ones. The most common in American Evangelical Christianity is the “Penal Substitutionary Theory.” (I think. I haven’t actually seen statistics.) The late Ken Pulliam made a hobby out of dismantling this theory.
I suspect that all the theories have some problems. Some have actually become dated. The idea that Jesus was a blood sacrifice was probably the earliest theory, developed at a time when it was assumed that Gods required sacrifices. Now it’s uncomfortable to even consider.
The other idea to consider, is that more than one theory - might be correct. There might be multiple reasons, for Christ’s sacrifice… Including the Eastern Orthodox/ Eastern Catholic one - I subscribe to.
And I leave everyone with this GIF…in case my theory, that the Zombie Apocalypse…is the most probable, end times tribulation model - is correct.