Newbie and theological shipwreck


#1

Hey there!
I am quite a story. I started calling myself a Christian back in (I believe) 2012 and between then and now I have lost count of how many times I have walked in and out of the faith.
I have had a lot of doubts about my salvation and driven by despair and bitterness I walked out of the faith and completly abandoned all Christian ethics and lived the life of a pagan as a way of declaring myself free from my former beliefs.

As of today I am quite confused as well… I believe in Christ, His death on the cross for my salvation but I still fall and I hardly feel anything (sorrow for sin, gratitude etc.) - as much as I want to…

If I was only “a false convert” before and not really a child of God then how do I know whether or not this isn’t the case now? After all, many of the thoughts about God I have now are quite identical to those I had back then.

What is salvation… I am confused… I have been in Reformed Churches, Pentecostal, Confessional Lutheran and even Catholic.


#2

Welcome to the forum, Dane! (This person actually is from Denmark, btw. Your English is excellent!) Don’t worry if your posts don’t show up immediately at first: all new members go to the spamcatcher automatically for a while, just to be sure they aren’t selling Warcraft gold (is that even still a thing?) or shoes or whatever. After a few more posts the system will click over to letting you through automatically henceforth. (Your post in favor of Licona’s book on the Resurrection also went through this morning. I agree, that book is great. :sunglasses: :nerd: )

The Bible talks about being a child of God in two ways (or three or four ways, but for salvation purposes two ways) which is one reason why there has been a lot of confusion among Christians over the centuries and millennia. Both ways are important, but the primary way is most important: all rational beings are children of the Father of spirits, upon Whose active and continuing support we rely in order to continue existing at all. (Paul stresses this point even in regard to rebel spiritual powers in Col 1, when he talks about how God, including Christ specifically in the foundational ground of all reality, keeps things in continuing existence, even the spiritual powers which have rebelled against their Creator.) We’re all inheritors of God, even though so long as we are immature we aren’t “enjoying the allotment of the inheritance” as the Greek texts put it (including often in the Gospels). And so long as we continue to sin, we’re still immature. But God intends for us to inherit.

This childhood from God is something that can never be destroyed or taken away. What isvariable, is our chosen relationship to God, which can shift back and forth a lot. In the sense of being followers of God or allies of God, we can be children of God or children of the world (or of the devil etc.) We aren’t always loyal children.

Due to the special problems of rebelling against the ground of our own existence, the only way to come out of our sin relies on God: we must be born from above or born again (the Greek reads both ways at once with the same term), and this which leads to permission of enjoying the full rights of inheritance is what John is talking about in GosJohn 1 (the prologue) when he says that the right to be children comes only from God and not anywhere else, not from nature nor from any lesser persons nor anything else in creation. But that is because our fundamental childhood comes from God in the first place: we already have that when God brings us into being as rational creatures.

So, as long as you have existed as a person, you have in fact been a child of God in that sense, and that won’t ever stop being true. But when you’re being a rebel child, then you aren’t working along with God (including against your sin) and so in a relational sense you are or aren’t a child of God.

Christian churches are generally aware that those who are children of God shall surely be saved from their sins (or sometimes, more bluntly, saved from hell or punishment or whatever). But since they also generally think some rational creatures shall finally be lost one way or another (about which they dispute on the details), the churches are also (logically as far as they go here) interested in trying to ascertain whether someone is finally a child of God or not; whether God has been properly convinced to adopt someone as a child; whether there is sure evidence that God has truly intended for someone to be a child; and so forth. This leads to a lot of variation of the sort you were talking about at the end, looking for one of the two key gospel assurances (while, sadly, denying one of the other ones!) Does God certainly intend to save you, not maybe you? – and will God certainly (not maybe) succeed in saving whomever He intends to save?

Christian universalists (whether Protestant or Western or Eastern Catholic, or whether one of the other ancient trinitarian groups like the Coptics or the Nestorians, or whether one of the non-trinitarian groups – we have a lot of variation :wink: ) will answer yes to both those gospel assurances: yes, God certainly intends to save you from your sins, not maybe you; and yes, God will certainly succeed in saving whomever He intends to save from sin.

Now, we’ll have variances among ourselves about what counts as cooperating with God meanwhile, and how far, and about whether God only heals people sooner or later from their sins (we all agree there’s some healing involved, at least later, generally also sooner to some extent), or else whether God does actively (if sometimes indirectly) disciplines impenitent sinners, and if so whether that’s only in this life or also after death. Since we have a lot of variations on these things, you’ll hear and read a lot of different answers from us, and I’ll let various members take stabs at that! :laughing: You can decide which of us make the most sense on whichever topics.

But hopefully this has been somewhat helpful as a first reply. :slight_smile:


#3

I can understand your confusion. I am also confused. But I think I can answer at least one of your questions.

“What is salvation”

Of this I am sure, absolutely sure. Salvation is about being made whole and upright. It is deliverance from evil that exists within you. It is also salvation from Hell, but not the Hell you think it is. One thing God has slowly shown me is that unwanted indwelling sin IS hell. As George MacDonald said (paraphrased) “The person who is plagued by their sins will gladly go to the mythical Hell if it rid him of his sin”. I can identify with this. But it didn’t happen overnight. Lest you think I am talking down to you, I am far from where I want to be. I have much to learn, much wickedness to be rooted out of me. Some claim in this life it can be fully accomplished. Some say no. I am unsure as I don’t want to limit God, but either way, indwelling sin is more Hell than the fabled Dante’s inferno.

The general stage people progress in the faith, at least nowadays as it appears to me in Modern Christianity is this: You first fear Hell/God and what he will do to you. Then as you obey you begin to see the cancer that exists in your being. This cancer wants you to put self above all others. It is wholly selfish, wants nothing to do with others unless they can gain from it and so on… No one is completely evil, so you may still have partial obedience (as do any of us really, unless we have arrived) but alas, to be saved is to be like God in moral uprightness. With Paidion, I agree with this is a cooperative effort with man-God. God is responsible for the initiative, nudging, etc… But we must respond. Eventually we will respond, because without responding we would spiral down into further evil. Once that further evil has ran its course, we will have no hope left but to turn to God. Some of us are more stubborn than others, such as myself, but none the less God is wearing me out day by day by letting me face he consequences of my actions and thoughts.

Whether you feel bad or not is somewhat irreverent from what I gather. Technically nowhere are we commanded to feel bad. Although for many of us, it certain seems to be that way. Weather it was taught or not, I do not know. I do know that in acts there was an instance of feeling bad “And they were cut to the heart” it is early in Acts, I think when Peter addresses them that they killed Jesus. But other than that, I don’t recall conversions have remorse. More of a will to change their minds towards God.


#4

Thanks to both of you. I will have to read your responses more than once!
I’m inclined to think of salvation as man turning to God (maybe it’s monergism, maybe it’s synergism) with all of his sin, fears, doubts, hurts and frustration and God will never cast anyone who comes to Him away, He wants us to turn to Him no matter our life condition.
I used to think of salvation as pretty black and white. Either your in, and in this case you can enjoy all the benefits of being a Christian or you are out (in which case your prayers and bible reading are useless and all you thought you knew about God was false and wrong because the natural man cannot receive the things of God)

Am I saved? I hope so… I believe God hears me when I pray, even if I really don’t feel anything… I believe He sent His Son to die for my sins, I believe that I have sinned (even if I don’t feel particularly sorry).
But I also did these things a year ago… and then I became an atheist a few weeks later…
This is not as easy to understand as I would like to… duh!

But I think this is how things are when dealing with God and how He relates to us… it’s not very comprehensive to us… it’s… and I hesitate to use the word but… it’s rather mystical, isn’t it?

I am feeling a little sinful for even writing this and speculating about this (much more so to share it with the whole world)
I have no theological training. this is layman writing. please correct me if I am wrong!


#5

Just a footnote here. There is a good Wiki article on salvation in Christianity at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvation_in_Christianity. I would classify myself as an Anglican…who would incorporate elements of Catholic theology - since Vatican II…Chiefly the views of Roman Catholic priest Richard Rohr at Franciscan …and Eastern Orthodox theology. I guess if you were to put a label on it. I’m both Anglo-Catholic and Anglo-Orthodox. And since I watch TV evangelist, Joel Osteen each week…I’m corrupted by his health and prosperity messages. :wink:

The Wiki definition of salvation is very broad based. And it shows both historical and contemporary differences:

Personally, I side with the Eastern Orthodox view on salvation. Which Wiki says this - in part:

I suppose there are similarities…between Paidion’s position on salvation…and those of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Wiki only covers Universalism in brief. But Jason gave a more comprehensive answer - previously in this thread.

Just for comparison. If I Google “what is salvation”…this Calvinist answer comes up from Matt Slick…on page 1 in Google (carm.org/what-is-salvation).


#6

Fascinating. I am a member of the Chruch of Denmark. It’s Lutheran but in communion with the Anglican Church. I am clueless as to where to turn now that I reject ECT. I am split between conditional immortality and EU!

The Eastern view of salvation confuses me. I like their view on atonement but I don’t understand their view on salvation. Do you have to cooperate with God?


#7

I grew up in the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. And I occasionally attend a ELCA Lutheran church service - within walking distance.

Let me share a couple of links…where Eastern Orthodox priests…answer the question of salvation:

oca.org/reflections/fr.-john-breck/salvation-is-indeed-by-grace
goarch.org/-/how-are-we-saved-

And here is a Protestant article on EO salvation, from the site Patheos. They are well worth subscribing, to their email list.

patheos.com/Library/Eastern-Orthodoxy/Beliefs/Afterlife-and-Salvation

It’s probably best to read, how the EO priests answer. Rather than just the Wiki notes. But we cooperate with both God and grace.

Again, I’m not here to convince you - to side with the Eastern Orthodox. But to see that have a viewpoint on salvation…Which might differ a bit, from the RC and Protestant viewpoints.

As far as mankind’s final destiny goes. I’ll give you an expanded response - to Steve’s comment on another thread.

Or you could combine the two approaches - like I do. And the person does at Purgatorical Conditionalist;

Or the person does at Purgatorical Conditionalist 2:

And we have the visions of contemporary, Old Catholic church mystic - Tiffany Snow in Armageddon - Who What Where When Why How:

.

if this vision is true, then the following positions on hell - are true:

Conditional immortality or annihilation
Hell as exile (see The Skeletons in God’s Closet: The Mercy of Hell, the Surprise of Judgment, the Hope of Holy War by Joshua Ryan Butler on Amazon).
Anglican Biblical scholar N.T. Wright’s P-zombie solution at youtube.com/watch?v=vggzqXzEvZ0
Hopeful universalism

Of course…since this is a universalist forum…You will get different theological opinions…on how Universalism unfolds.


#8

I think I’m too sinful for Eastern Orthodoxy.


#9

No. You are NOT.

Let me quote a bit, form an Orthodox answer at orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/hierotheos_difference.aspx

If you are interested in exploring Eastern Orthodoxy, then visit a church service. You might find it under Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, etc. Talk to some of the members. Talk to some of the clergy.

Again, I’m NOT selling Eastern Orthodoxy. I’m just presenting the option - for exploration.


#10

Here are a couple of interesting links - I came across today:

huffingtonpost.com/thom-nickels/from-catholic-to-orthodox_b_2529459.html
franciscanaction.org/earthcorps/spirituality

The first tells (via way of the newspaper), a conversion journey - from Roman Catholicism to Orthodoxy. And the second relates to Franciscan theology. Let me briefly quote, from the Franciscan article:

And here’s an Orthodox article, that talks about theosis:antiochian.org/content/theosis-partaking-divine-nature. Let me quote from that article:

So if people wonder how… I can put Franciscan theology and Eastern Orthodox theology, under the Anglican umbrella. Well, it’s very easy. And it’s through those "energies, that spiritual healing and alternative medical therapies (i.e. homeopathy, Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine) - work.


#11

The apostle Paul believed it was necessary to coöperate with God in order to receive the enabling grace of God and thereby be delivered from wrongdoing (salvation from sin):

Paul taught that when we receive the enabling grace of God, it trains us to be righteous, redeemed from lawlessness, purified for Christ, and zealous for good works:

How do we appropriate this enabling grace? By faith.

For us, salvation is a life-long process. But some day it will be completed in us.


#12

This message came today - from the Francisian newsletter, of Roman Catholic priest Richard Rohr at cac.org/. It should be noted, I’m normally in accord, with theology from the Franciscans and/or that of the Eastern Orthodox (or Eastern Catholics):


#13

Now THAT was imo an outstanding post.