[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Reformed Theology / Lordship Salvation on Trial!

by Antonio da Rosa

John H. Gerstner:
Lordship teaching does not 'add works', as if faith were not sufficient. The 'works' are part of the definition of faith. [Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth: A Critique of Dispensationalism, p 257]


Let us say that we were in a court of law. Reformed Theology / Lordship Salvation was on trial for requiring works for salvation and Free Grace Theology was prosecuting. During opening statements, Reformed Theology states, "We are clearly within the pale of Reformation Theology. We believe that salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone apart from works."

The prosecution's first witness is John H. Gerstner, and when asked if works are required and necessary for salvation in addition to faith, he states the above quote in defense of the Lordship Salvation position.

In the closing statement by Free Grace theology, their advocate makes this case:
How can it be escaped that Reformed Theology and Lordship Salvation teaches that works are necessary requirements for salvation? If works are part of the definition of faith, and faith alone is required for salvation, then we have works + whatever else takes up the remainder of the definition of faith as required for salvation.

If faith -> salvation
and faith = works + (fill in the blank)
then works + (fill in the blank) -> salvation

Such speak is manifestly double talk and, in fact, disingenuous. Including works in the definition of faith does not make one's position immune from the charge of works salvation.

If someone said, "This is water, have some." And then I ask him, "That is not water plus any poison, is it?" And He said, "No. It is water alone!" So I drank the water. But after I finished, I began to get sick, and sensed that there was some kind of poison in it. I said, "I thought you said that wasn't water plus poison!" And he answered, "It is just water! The poison is just part of the definition of water!"

What should become of this person who spoke thus about the water? Should he not be found guilty? Of course! There is nothing different between the claim of the man with the water and Mr. Gerstner here!


What is to be the verdict on Reformed Theology / Lordship Salvation?

Nothing but guilty as charged...

53 Comments:

  • OK. Let’s put our theology into a scenario to make it simple.

    A Christian (say) works at the local hospital in a voluntary capacity. He gets some of the not so nice jobs etc., In the course of his work, someone asks him how much he gets paid for such unpleasant work. He replies that he is actually a volunteer and don’t get paid any thing. They are astounded and ask the natural question;” Why?” - “Why do you quite happily give up your time to come in and clean bedpans etc.,?” The Christian replies: “I do it first and foremost because I am a Christian.” This perhaps induces further questions, and might give him the opportunity to say: Well, don’t praise me. Glorify my Father which is in Heaven. If I wasn’t a Christian, then I could be mugging the old people rather than trying to see to their needs in hospital.

    The questioner is impressed and might even consciously or subconsciously say; “I must visit that man’s church to hear more. That is a real living faith that’s worth talking about. Is he right to think like this i.e. attribute the actions to the faith that spawns them?

    YES: if you are following the Old Time Evangelical belief (whether Old Time Calvinist and [referring to the strange title of this blog] Old Time Non Calvinism] that the faith that saves does not lead to good works.

    NO: if you are following this modern, new fangled compromised notion that they don’t. In fact, if the questioner turned up at a church that denies that the faith that saves evidences itself by works, then they could send him home denuded of his belief that God should have the glory at all. After all, if the hospital volunteer’s Christian faith isn’t the source of the good works, then why glorify God at all? Let’s praise the Christian who has decided to add something from outside his faith to make it sparkle in the eyes of an inquisitive world.

    Since this posting demonstrates that the penny still hasn’t dropped, I will repeat again: As a representative Evangelical Christian [Forget the other titles – they’re just red herrings] I do not believe that any good works that I have either done, do or will yet do contribute one iota to my justification before God. It is entirely, 100% on the basis of what Jesus Christ did at Calvary when He finished the work that the Father gave Him to do.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Tuesday, April 29, 2008 8:01:00 AM  

  • While I personally agree that works is not an integral part of biblical saving faith, the court is obligated to point out that RTs def of faith is in line with at least the allowed use of the word per dictionary.com.

    6. the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc.: Failure to appear would be breaking faith.
    7. the observance of this obligation; fidelity to one's promise, oath, allegiance, etc.: He was the only one who proved his faith during our recent troubles.

    Unless this court is to be made a mockery, a kangaroo court, it would seem the prosecution needs to make a more specific case. i.e. Per the allowed usage of the word RT's argument is logically sustainable. FGT must therefore demonstrate that RT is inconsistent with the word as used in the biblical contexts in regard to references to securing salvation of the Everlasting Life variety.

    Based solely on the def of the word, the court finds at this time that RT is allowed to claim that faith -> salvation while also maintaining that works is part of that faith.

    To be clear, I agree with the prosecution's intended point but the prosecution's case was too vague to actually make that specific point. The court recommends that the self-appointed FGT representative, Antonio Da Rosa, redefine his claim against RT and file for a more specific argument. Only in the context of the specific texts being argued can "meaningful dialog" occur. In the meantime, based on the over generalized evidence you provided at this time, I have no alternative but to find RT not guilty of the specific charge.

    IANAL,
    Stephen

    By Blogger knetknight, at Tuesday, April 29, 2008 8:09:00 AM  

  • p.s. The water analogy is pretty weak -- it just doesn't "hold water". (har har har har!) e.g. Salt water is validly referenced as just "water", no poison added, but it won't refresh or sustain you either.

    By Blogger knetknight, at Tuesday, April 29, 2008 8:30:00 AM  

  • In the meantime, based on the over generalized evidence you provided at this time, I have no alternative but to find RT not guilty of the specific charge.

    ...(har har har har!)

    Has the prosecution's case been laughed out of court?

    :o)

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Tuesday, April 29, 2008 8:36:00 AM  

  • Colin, what would you say to the statement "works are a normal/typical/usual result of, but not a requirement for, saving faith" ?

    That's where I'm at anyway. I see a clear separation of works from the specific moment/content of saving faith but I also believe the biblical norm is that some positive visible expression of saving faith is a normal, but not guaranteed, result.

    Stephen

    By Blogger knetknight, at Tuesday, April 29, 2008 8:47:00 AM  

  • Stephen,

    As it stands, I AGREE with your test question: "Works are a normal/typical/usual result of, but not a requirement for, saving faith"

    If someone professes to be a Christian, but shows absolutely no evidence, then I must express severe doubt as to the reality of their profession. This position is, of course, a million miles away from beleiving that faith + works saves, as Antonio has raised yet again.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Tuesday, April 29, 2008 10:02:00 AM  

  • WE INTERRUPT THIS BROADCAST TO REPORT…

    J. Vernon McGee arrested and charged with teaching a works based gospel.


    In a signed confession, this esteemed Old Fashioned Non Reformed Evangelical admitted that he taught the following:

    ”There is a lot of going that goes with believing…”

    “Both these men [Paul and James] taught that faith MUST [emphasis mine] be a working faith. As John Calvin put it, ‘Faith saves, but the faith that saves is not alone.’”

    “Pious clichés and Christian verbiage are not the evidence of saving faith. There MUST [emphasis mine] be a vocation to go with the vocabulary.”


    Please excuse the sensationalist interruption.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Tuesday, April 29, 2008 11:04:00 AM  

  • Antonio,
    Very good.
    I heard a tape (Faith AND or Faith ALONE?) by Brian Fisher
    and he gave the scenario of someone saying "add water to
    your gasoline and you can stretch your mileage."
    Of course that will not work and works as a part of faith
    doesn’t work either, it cancels out Faith alone in Christ alone.

    By Blogger Peggie, at Tuesday, April 29, 2008 2:07:00 PM  

  • Bro. Stephenm

    You said, "Colin, what would you say to the statement "works are a normal/typical/usual result of, but not a requirement for, saving faith" ?"

    I'm obviously not bro. Colin, but as with yu, this is where I am as well, & I am because I believe the Bible is as well.
    Hi bro. Antonio!

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at Tuesday, April 29, 2008 6:43:00 PM  

  • Greetings David. You're a gracious man and I'm glad to have your thoughts.

    Would either of you (or anyone) go so far as to echo Ryrie's thoughts?

    Ryrie: "Every Christian will bear spiritual fruit. Somewhere, sometime, somehow. Otherwise that person is not a believer. Every born-again individual will be fruitful. Not to be fruitful is to be faithless, without faith, and therefore without salvation….Every Christian will bear fruit; otherwise he or she is not a true believer" (So Great Salvation, pages 45-46)

    Now, I generally agree with this so long as it remains clear that the works are the "result of" rather than "requirement for". I also must caveat that the "fruit" need not necessarily be visible to anyone, even the fruit bearer. In support of that thought I offer exhibit James 4:17 -- "Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin." I'd also like to float the idea that perhaps the inverse is also true, i.e "to one who knows the wrong thing to do and doesn't do it, to him it is a good work." I am suggesting that in a similar way that one is guilty of sin by omission of doing the right thing, so also may one be "guilty" of righteousness by omission of doing the wrong thing. This would not be visible to anyone, since it is a non-act, and even the non-doer may not directly connect the non-doing to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. In this way, though not visible to anyone at all, fruit is born by the believer.

    I am floating this as a line-of-thought on the matter to be critiqued. I'm not convinced of it myself though at the moment it does make sense to me. Ryrie's statement (or anything similar) would have to allow for fruit bearing this subtle, however hypothetical or rare it may be deemed to be, for me to accept the statement as generally true. Even then, I'd still have to concede the hypothetical possibility of the believer dying immediately after saving faith in which case even a subtle work may not have been done. Thus, even allowing for such subtlety, I can agree with Ryrie in practical terms but not in strict theological terms since there is no guarantee that the believer will endure long enough to make to "somewhere, sometime, somehow."

    Anyway, just mulling this over and rolling the thoughts around in my head, and expressing them for review.

    Decidedly undecided,
    Stephen

    By Blogger knetknight, at Tuesday, April 29, 2008 8:57:00 PM  

  • Hi Stephen:

    If by not doing wrong = a good then it is a negative goodness. This is how I have always judged the vaunted boast of the Pharisee in the temple who thought that he should tell God just how good he himself was. His virtues however seemed (at least at the beginning) to be lie in the things that he didn’t do. Obviously, it is good not to lie or steal etc., but they really are negative virtues when all is said and done. To say that “I didn’t rob the poor” nearly invokes a “So what?” from the listener. Is it not better to say: “I fed and clothed the poor?” and even then, we should not talk about it as if we had done God or the poor a big favour.

    I accept that it may not be your intention, but the focus on fruit bearing here seems to lie on the minimal that we can get away with. I assume that we are not trying to bolster up some very weak Christian here? And even if we are, I hope that such focus would only be of a temporary nature and but the very first few steps to giving him spiritual muscle. The Bible says that having been saved by grace through faith and not of our works, that we become God’s workmanship i.e. literally His poems. (Ephesians 2:8-10) IOW, we are to be how God wants to express His thoughts to the world. I suppose the parallel verse would be from 2 Corinthians 3:2 where we are said to be His epistles. In neither case, are we to think that God has very little to say. The idea that God saves a people but that it can be kept comparatively quiet in their lives militates (IMO) against the whole NT. The man that is in Christ is a new creature – and it is bound to display itself.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Wednesday, April 30, 2008 4:04:00 AM  

  • colin: "If by not doing wrong = a good then it is a negative goodness."
    ...
    "To say that “I didn’t rob the poor” nearly invokes a “So what?” from the listener. Is it not better to say: “I fed and clothed the poor?” and even then, we should not talk about it as if we had done God or the poor a big favour."

    Yes, and totally agreed. The specific line, that I was not clear about, is more in regard to sin that the lost person had actively engaged in and was prone toward. i.e. if I'm hooked on some sin pre-salvation (say I'm a retail clerk slipping a few bucks each day out of the cash register since I know that small shortages won't draw scrutiny), get saved, and then even once abstain from that sin, is abstinence from that known sin a fruit of sorts in the same way that abstinence from known righteousness = sin in Jas 4:17?

    colin: "the focus on fruit bearing here seems to lie on the minimal that we can get away with"

    Theologically, yes. And the theological minimum = 0. Practically, however, I'm in line with your thoughts. I trust the spirit of God to tirelessly work sanctification within me, POST salvation, and I don't believe that even the most stalwart of saved sinners will resist God 100% of the time for very long. A principle from Philippians 1:6 comes to mind, "... that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."

    Theologically I have to allow for the totally non-fruity believer to still be saved but, practically, I just don't see that happening.

    You mentioned earlier that you would have serious doubt about such a one, and I would be suspect as well. What then should our response be? I would personally take them back to whether or not they had actually believed the saving reality of Jesus in the first place rather than focus on their barrenness. As I see it now, barrenness is a terrible symptom but a symptom nonetheless.

    I might have answered that differently not even a year ago. My authority is scripture and I will yield to it always "in fear and trembling." (php 2:12)

    Stephen

    By Blogger knetknight, at Wednesday, April 30, 2008 7:04:00 AM  

  • Stephen:

    I think the verse you quote sums it all up:

    A principle from Philippians 1:6 comes to mind, "... that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."

    This good work begins long before conversion. Even if we start at providence bringing us into contact with the gospel etc., right through to our eventual coming to faith in Christ. This good work will not stop until we are changed into a body like unto His glorious body. IOW, it WILL bring us into justification, right through the sanctification process and unto glory.

    I agree with you on the 0% works regarding the basis of our justification. Not, however, in the fruit or evidence of it.

    Pastorally, I would ask any one who professed faith but was showing no interest or evidence, whether or not they wanted to walk with God here and now or if they were happy in their present non glorifying lifestyle. If they were happy and did not at least want to live holy lives, then I would not give them any encouragement that they were "saved anyway" as I know some would do. I know that the Lord knows their heart, but I don't and the evidence just isn't there. Whether we are treating them as unsaved in the firs tplace or backslidden does not really make much of a difference - they need to return to the Lord before they be afforded any of the comforts of Evangelical Religion.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Wednesday, April 30, 2008 7:20:00 AM  

  • Bro. Stephen,

    At work & can't elaborate. But I would say one quick thing. I believe it is usually very counterproductive to seek for "fruit" in one's own or other's lives for proof or evidence of salvation. The only one that is totally trustworthy is obviously Jesus, & we can certainly trust Him to save us when we believe on Him. That's why I believe 1 John is mainly written, to test our fellowship, not our salvation. Anyway, the whole process of seeking evidence of salvation in searching for fruit in a life to me, is....no pun intended...fruitless! God Bless & thanks for the kind words, bro. Stephen.

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at Wednesday, April 30, 2008 9:08:00 AM  

  • Hi David,

    I appreciate where you are coming from and why you write; But I would say one quick thing. I believe it is usually very counterproductive to seek for "fruit" in one's own or other's lives for proof or evidence of salvation.

    I must disagree with your conclusion that looking for fruit within as an evidence of salvation is counterproductive. There are two simple questions which must be considered here:

    1) Does being in Christ make a noticeable impact in the life of the Christian?
    2) If so, how can this impact be discerned?

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Wednesday, April 30, 2008 10:19:00 AM  

  • I at least partially agree with Colin here. I don't think good works are reliable "proof" of salvation but I do believe they can be meaningful "evidence" of it. I mostly agree with what's written on the matter.

    The only point I take apparent issue with on that page is in the last section "IF GOOD WORKS ARE NOT A NECESSARY OUTCOME OF SAVING FAITH, THEN… ... God is not changing all believers into the image of His Son, or if He is changing them, this change is not evident and not seen(2 Cor. 3:18)." I disagree with this particular statement because, unless we assert that some outward sign is immediately manifest at the moment of salvation, then it would seem we must allow varying amounts of time for new believers to respond internally first where the prompting from God is not necessarily "evident" to anyone, perhaps not even to the new believer himself initially since he likely lacks the maturity to recognize the new work of God in his life.

    The page I linked says "There is a delicate Biblical balance on this issue that must be maintained" and I resoundingly agree.
    Stephen

    By Blogger knetknight, at Wednesday, April 30, 2008 10:55:00 AM  

  • Hi Stephen,

    I had a quick look at that page you linked to. I trust that we all are trying to avoid giving someone who has never ever shown evidence of a changed life and have no desire after holiness etc., any kind of assurance of salvation on the basis of some kind of prayer he previously mumbled, even if the words were orthodox enough.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Wednesday, April 30, 2008 11:12:00 AM  

  • I wouldn't give such a one assurance of their salvation. Then again, I don't think it's biblical for me to "give" anyone assurance of their own salvation even if they're bathing in good works. My part is to point someone to the gospel, do my utmost to deliver it clearly, then trust God to do His completing work in them. I don't "know" that my wife is saved, but I have no cause to doubt her claim either outside of total paranoia since her words and her actions are in sync. That seems as sure as I can be about her or anyone else but she must find the assurance herself. If she ever doubts her salvation at some point I'm not going to point her to her works to rebuild her confidence.

    Stephen

    By Blogger knetknight, at Wednesday, April 30, 2008 11:39:00 AM  

  • Still at work brothers, & must be brief. I appreciate both of you & your graciousness. What you said bro. Stephen I believe makes the point I very feebly tried to make! Either we take the Lord at His Word or we don't. Once a person realizes his need of salvation &then trusts in Christ for it, then to doubt it is to doubt Him. As I have confidence in Him & His Word through the new nature He has given & focus on Him, I will grow in grace, but I don't belive that constantly looking within, or at another for their "fruit" is nearly as helpful as simply trusting the trustworthiness of Christ. That's where the growth comes in (2 Pe.3:18). I believe we agree & I certainly count you both a dear brothers, though we differ slightly on some points. OK, said too much! Back to the work!!!!!!!!!

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at Wednesday, April 30, 2008 11:55:00 AM  

  • Lads,

    Although it was me who introduced the subject of assurance, yet it was in an negative context i.e. where I wouldn’t encourage anyone to think that they were saved if they had no fruit whatsoever. Having said that, the positive side of assurance is a different matter and I certainly wouldn’t making looking within the key factor. If anyone asks me why I am going to Heaven, I am going to talk all about Christ and His finished work. I am still, though, entitled to talk (although not in any meritorious way) of what He has done in my heart.

    The two questions imposed earlier are important and still stand:

    1) Does being in Christ make a noticeable impact in the life of the Christian?
    2) If so, how can this impact be discerned?

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Wednesday, April 30, 2008 1:38:00 PM  

  • Hi, Antonio! Hello, Gentlemen.

    This argument made me giggle - my water company often contain trace poisons in the definition of water to avoid reporting it. They win this right through legislation regularly. :)

    As I was following this convo, and read past Matthew 7:17-18 (which talk about recognizing that a false prophet will give himslef away when his life does not match what he teaches), I read further to these words from Our Lord, in Matthew 7:21 -

    "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter."

    How do you reconcile this with the charge?

    I've heard sound, exegetical arguments that many of the origins of the translated term "faith" mean "trust and obey." I am curious how I would refute this.

    By Blogger Another Voice, at Wednesday, April 30, 2008 8:00:00 PM  

  • Hi Missy,

    You ask How do you reconcile this with the charge?

    I'm afraid the robust one who brought the charge and delivered the verdict has fled the scene :0)

    Last recorded words on this posting:

    What is to be the verdict on Reformed Theology / Lordship Salvation?

    Nothing but guilty as charged...

    Regarding faith being defined as "trust and obey" I would tend to see the "trust" as the definition of faith and the "obey" as the evidence or fruit of faith. Therefore there is no need to refute it at all. It only needs refuted if the "fruit" becomes confused with the "root."

    Nice to chat you again

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Wednesday, April 30, 2008 10:52:00 PM  

  • (drats... John's account was still activated when I was trying to post.)

    I looked onto this once about the word "faith." The Greek word "pistueo" (I think I have that spelled right) which is the word that is translated as "faith" has no meaning of obey. It is the word "believe"... plain and simple.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Thursday, May 01, 2008 8:05:00 AM  

  • [I looked onto this once about the word "faith." The Greek word "pistueo" (I think I have that spelled right) which is the word that is translated as "faith" has no meaning of obey. It is the word "believe"... plain and simple.]
    Hi Rose,
    That may be true, but we have the whole counsel of God and from other passages of Scripture it is very clear that obedience is part of true saving faith. If a person says he believes in the Son yet lives a life of unrepentant rebellion and will not follow Christ, Jesus says that this person is still under God's wrath.

    John 3:35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

    ~Susan

    By Blogger VA ~Susan, at Thursday, May 01, 2008 5:09:00 PM  

  • Thanks, Colin & Rose - what a pleasure to see the agreement! I'll have to dig up my notes I jotted down after the discussion I overheard and see what you ya'll think. But don't hold yor breath - I have an extensive collection of notes.

    I have battled through some serious misunderstandings with scripture in the past that led me to believe that I could loose salvation - a ramification of holding to obedience for salvation. But scripture such as Matt. 7:21 still confuse me. How do you weigh in on a better understanding of Matthew 7:21?

    Missy

    By Blogger Another Voice, at Thursday, May 01, 2008 5:15:00 PM  

  • Hi Missy. We've discussed Matthew 7:15-23 on this blog with others before. Antonio even did a post on the passage a couple of years ago. Let me begin by saying that the "fruit" of the wolves is not their lifestyle, but their words/teaching. Compare to Matthew 12:33-37, where the tree/fruit illustration specifically refers to words spoken. Notice why these false teachers think they should get into the kingdom in verse 22: They point to their charismatic works. They don't say one word about believing in Jesus or Jesus' Death/Resurrection being sufficient.

    Now compare Matthew 7:21-23 to John 6:27-29. After Jesus tells the crowd in John 6 to labor for eternal life (v.27), the crowd asks what works they must do (v.28). Jesus tells them that "work" of God required is to believe in Him whom He sent (v. 29). That's the sweet irony: The work of God required for eternal life is not a work at all, but a moment of faith alone in Christ alone for eternal life. The wolves of Matthew 7:21-23never had a moment of faith alone in Christ alone.

    So what is the will of the Father that one must "do" in order to receive eternal life? Believe in Jesus, and that's it. Rene Lopez has done an in-depth analysis of the expression "will of the Father" and the different views on Matthew 7:21 at his site, scriptureunlocked.com. You'll see it in the articles section of the website.

    By Blogger Danny, at Thursday, May 01, 2008 6:32:00 PM  

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    By Blogger Danny, at Thursday, May 01, 2008 6:52:00 PM  

  • Thanks, Danny. Sheesh! I sure wish this was more simple than a 31-page response to one verse. I'll read it. I've only been dropping in on UoG for a few months, so I'll look through the archives for the other discussions.

    You seem to be saying that the point is words are more important than deeds?

    By Blogger Another Voice, at Thursday, May 01, 2008 7:17:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Danny, at Thursday, May 01, 2008 8:46:00 PM  

  • Hi Missy. I'm saying that as far as identifying wolves is concerned, words are more important than deeds. For discipleship, deeds are more important than words. The Sermon on the Mount covers both aspects. Jesus is talking to both believers and unbelievers in chapters 5-7, covering a wide range of topics. Matthew 7:24-27 is the conclusion that applies to both groups. The person who never believes in Jesus for eternal life is a foolish man, and the person who believes in Jesus for eternal life but remains immature, with no concern for social justice, is also a foolish man. One foolish man is unsaved, and the other foolish man is saved.

    If you want to find out if a person has eternal life, you need to hear their words. If they can clearly articulate that they believe that they have eternal life as a permanent possession through Jesus apart from any work, then we have no reason to doubt them, unless of course the person is just lying to get you off their back. If you want to find out if a person is a mature Christian, then the person needs to both articulate the above (thus showing they believe the Gospel of Grace), and show maturity. :)

    By Blogger Danny, at Thursday, May 01, 2008 8:52:00 PM  

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    By Blogger Danny, at Thursday, May 01, 2008 9:48:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Danny, at Thursday, May 01, 2008 9:51:00 PM  

  • Plus, in 1 Thessalonians 5:10, Paul makes it clear that immoral believers (those who sleep) will also live with the Lord. After telling believers not to sleep like the unbelieving children of darkness in 5:5-7, (because it's possible for believers to do so), but rather to watch and be sober, Paul tells the Thessalonians that whether they watch or sleep, they'll live together with the Lord, using the same Greek words he used in verses 5-7. Gregoreo is the word used for "watch" and "wake" in verses 6 and 10. Katheudo is used for sleep in 5:7,10. He uses a different Greek word for sleep (koimao) in 1 Thessalonians 4 to describe dead believers.

    Most people, in light of their perseverance theology, believe that the meanings of gregoreo and katheudo change between verses 6 and 10. They claim that gregoreo all of a sudden turns into a metaphor for being physically alive. So the traditional interpretation of verse 10 is that whether believers are alive or dead, they will live with the Lord. Although that is true, that's not what Paul is saying in these verses. He dealt with that issue in the previous chapter. Nowhere in the NT or outside the NT does gregoreo refer to physical life - they try to go into its root word egeiro to pull that trick, but it doesn't work. The root word doesn't define gregoreo. Gregoreo refers to literal watching or moral watching, and it's clear that moral watching is the issue.

    Paul is not giving a license to sin, especially considering that he had just told the believers not to sleep, but to watch and be sober. He pens the words of verse 10 to show the sufficiency of Jesus' Death on the Cross. He died for us, that regardless of behavior, we should live together with Him.

    Calvinists also like to point out that unbelievers are the ones sleeping in verse 6, and therefore they believe katheudo in verse 10 changes meaning. What they miss is that Paul is telling believers not to sleep like unbelievers in verse 6 because he knows that it's a possibility. If believers can't sleep, then there's no need to warn them. But they can, and so Paul heartily encourages them not to sleep, since his epistle is largely positive. But he uses the possibility to show the sufficiency of Jesus' Cross.

    They also try to point out that katheudo is used for physical death in two places in the Bible, once in Greek translation of Psalms and also in Matthew 9:24 and Luke 8:52. Katheudo can be used in that way, though it's obviously rare. But it doesn't work in this context, and again, gregoreo never refers to being physically alive. Plus, it's not even clear that Matthew 9:24 and Luke 8:52 use katheudo for death, as Jesus says, "she's not dead, but sleeping." Probably referring to literal sleep. Plus, gregoreo and katheudo are always used in Paul's letters with a moral connotation. When Paul wants to talk about dead believers, using sleep as a euphism for death, he uses koimao, not katheudo.

    Interestingly enough Missy, some Calvinists actually admit that in verse 10, Paul is saying whether believers are moral or immoral, they will live with the Lord. They usually say that believers can only sleep in sin to a certain degree, before they snap out of it. The problem is that Paul doesn't speak of degrees of sleep, although it is true that some sleep more than others, and some watch more than others. 1 Thessalonians 5:10 is a theological statement showing the suffiency of the Cross in light of the Day of the Lord - it's not a license to sin and it's not a commentary on degrees of sleep.
    This further proves that Matthew 7:21 has nothing to do with lifestyle, but simple belief in the Son of God for eternal life.

    By Blogger Danny, at Thursday, May 01, 2008 10:50:00 PM  

  • Missy,

    You know, of course, that Calvinists do not believe that people can be saved and then can be lost. Neither do Calvinists believe that works have any part to play in obtaining or even retaining salvation. We are saved by grace through faith and that not of ourselves etc., Works, however, form part of the evidence of salvation.

    Actually, the issue here is not even Calvinism versus the rest of Evangelical Christianity. The issue on this particular posting is the Old Time Evangelicalism versus 1980’s (or whatever recent time frame) Evangelicalism that lets and even encourages people with even no desire after holiness think that they are really in Christ. That is the issue on this posting, slightly camouflaged behind another issue that really ought not to be in the frame at all. If it is exclusively Calvinistic to believe that faith alone in Christ justifies the soul and evidences itself in good works, then men like J. Vernon McGee and John Wesley etc., were all ardent Calvinists. The issue is much wider than this.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Friday, May 02, 2008 4:49:00 AM  

  • I get what is being said in this post. It is not [encouraging] people with even no desire after holiness think that they are really in Christ.

    That is not the issue and never has been! Hi Colin Maxwell.

    The issue is:

    "What must I do to be saved?" The answer: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved."

    The issue is:

    "Let's not muddy that crystal clear water."

    The issue is:

    We agree with Stephen's (Knet Knight) statement:

    I see a clear separation of works from the specific moment/content of saving faith but I also believe the biblical norm is that some positive visible expression of saving faith is a normal, but not guaranteed, result.

    This is NORMAL, but what about the exception to the norm?

    The issue is:

    in order to clarify exactly what is "required" of man to obtain justification, we have to boil it down and even consider the "what ifs" of the ABNORMAL.

    The issue is:

    If we don't agree that the one who "has faith" in Christ for justification can be saved regardless of how he then behaves, then we are including "how he then behaves" as part of the salvation equation. I just can't see how this logic can be escaped.

    I agree with Antonio on this.

    To say that I believe that Christ saves through "faith alone" but that faith includes works, then I have negated my terms. I have also ignored the fact that Paul made exemplary efforts to contrast "faith" and "works". Surely the apostle Paul did not think that works were "part of faith" or he would not have made such an effort to contrast faith and works in relation to justification.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, May 02, 2008 5:48:00 AM  

  • I still like J. Vernon McGee. And even like Charles Ryrie who says a very LS thing in his study Bible on James chapter 2. Just because they teach works salvation doesn't mean I have to find it biblically logical. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, May 02, 2008 5:50:00 AM  

  • And neither of them consistently teach this, BTW. Their statements of this like are similar to a pinch of dirt in an otherwise clear glass of water, IMO. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, May 02, 2008 6:36:00 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    :0)

    You write: To say that I believe that Christ saves through "faith alone" but that faith includes works, then I have negated my terms. I have also ignored the fact that Paul made exemplary efforts to contrast "faith" and "works". Surely the apostle Paul did not think that works were "part of faith" or he would not have made such an effort to contrast faith and works in relation to justification.

    No Old Time Evangelical has said that faith includes works. or that works ever, ever, ever justify.
    What we have said is that faith leads to works. Or as Paul puts it: Faith works by love (Galatians 5:6) The faith that has justified (past tense) produces works as evidence of that justification. We are not saved by serving, but we are saved to serve.

    If the said gentlemen “teach works salvation (to use your own words) then are they teaching another gospel and therefore ought to be accursed? (Galatians 1:8)

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Friday, May 02, 2008 9:25:00 AM  

  • Pinch of dirt, Colin. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, May 02, 2008 10:00:00 AM  

  • Come on, Rose!

    It's not like you to hide behind a one liner like that.

    I ask: If the said gentlemen “teach works salvation (to use your own words) then are they teaching another gospel and therefore ought to be accursed? (Galatians 1:8)

    Let me not equivocate on this one. I answer my own question: Yes, any one(no matter who) who teaches a works salvation is teaching another gospel and therefore is to be accursed.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Friday, May 02, 2008 10:21:00 AM  

  • Colin,
    The Roman Catholic church teaches works salvation consistently. Accurse them.

    If a good teacher says confusing things once in a while, but it does not characterize their teaching, then they are not a teacher of works-salvation. You can bear this out by conversing with them or further examining their writings.

    Your "sensationalist interruption" (comment of April 29 11:04am) of JVM quoting that distasteful, yet popular quip from Calvin (althought we are not sure it was Calvin that actually said that) indeed is inconsistent with JVM's overall approach to soteriology. So no, he is not a teacher of a works salvation. That is why I quickly followed up my short comment with another short comment before my last short comment to you. :~) (Say that three times real fast)

    I would say this overall thing is just a lot of confusion. Simple language should be kept simple. When Paul says we are saved through faith, he never adds "but the faith that saves is not alone" so neither should we - it just brings confusion.

    Every blessing your way....

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, May 02, 2008 10:45:00 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    First of all, there is no doubt that John Calvin said: “It is therefore faith alone which justifies, and yet the faith which justifies is not alone” because he used this phrase in his 'Antidote to the Council of Trent (3:152)

    Furthermore, it seems only to be distasteful to non Old Time Evangelicals. As we have seen, JVM thought it tasteful enough to include it in his commentary on that most fundamental chapter on the evidences of faith in James 2. Duncan Campbell quoted it favourably also. As you wrote yourself in your post on the quote, I think everyone who is in church nowadays has heard this quote at least once. Why is this quote so popular? Because it sums up part of the Old Time Evangelical Faith. It is not popular with the 1980’s Evangelical Faith because it exposes one of its main weaknesses i.e. soft on the issue of sin.

    If I can go back a comment or two here, you wrote: “I get what is being said in this post. It is not ‘[encouraging] people with even no desire after holiness think that they are really in Christ.’ That is not the issue and never has been!” Should a man who has even no desire after holiness think that he is Christ? If not, why not?

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Friday, May 02, 2008 2:04:00 PM  

  • Tip o' the hat to you, Rose. And:

    Hi Danny, there was a good post on the bible.org with a similar view about 1 Thess 5:10. Was that you there? Must say your post is much more developed than the one I mentioned. Well done!

    Hi Colin.

    How much must one desire holiness?

    A burglar has his house surrounded by policemen keeping away looters during a riot. Surely he desires that peoples' property should be protected in general, but at the same time, he would like his victims' houses to be easy targets for his own endeavours.

    A professional arsonist is happy to have the fire department stop the bush fire from levelling his house, but at the same time, he would still want to please his recruiters when they commission him to complete specific tasks.

    His work affords him profit/pleasure, but he still desires that he could avoid his present lifestyle
    NASB Rom 7:19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.

    And he definitely desires that he does not become the victim of his own type of crimes.

    To repeat the question:
    To what degree must one desire the absence of sin? Just a little? Then most people would be "safe"!

    By Blogger Anton, at Sunday, May 04, 2008 11:30:00 AM  

  • Hi Anton,

    I am not sure whether I have engaged you before – your name sounds familiar – but if not, I appreciate you engaging me here and now.

    As to the desire after holiness, I would hope that the desire would be for perfect holiness, even if (when) there is failure to deliver. We are to aim straight, even if we fall short. To return the question: How much sin would you be prepared to tell the Lord you want to hold on to?

    As for safety, my eternal salvation does not rest on my performances. It rests entirely on Christ’s work and that was perfect and sufficient.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Sunday, May 04, 2008 12:52:00 PM  

  • Hi Anton. No that wasn't me at bible.org. Glad you liked the comment.

    By Blogger Danny, at Sunday, May 04, 2008 7:16:00 PM  

  • Hi Colin,

    Thanks for the reply.

    I think the point you make is similar to the ones reformed theologians make when they teach that to be saved, one must submit to Christ, to the point of forsaking all: family, friends, property, yea, even their own life. when pressed on the subject, they tone down the rhetoric and soften their stance to one of : the believer must be READY to forsake all, or DESIRE to do so.

    I propose that when you come down on your demands from requiring perfection to only requiring a desire to be perfect, you require nothing!

    Its tantamount to paying lip service to the original requirement!

    Using your example of :

    "How much sin would you be prepared to tell the Lord you want to hold on to?"

    I would be prepared to tell the Lord I intend to retain NONE of my sin, but also would honestly confess my inability to achive that intention, that goal. Now you've given an example of someone who intends to give up nothing of his sinful lifestyle, but what if there are moments when he does desire to give up said sins? Does that put him momentarily on the right side of the dividing line? Does his fluctuating intentions keep him teetering between a saved status and a non saved one?

    And, on the opposite end of the spectrum, what about the sincere believer who fully intends to be as perfect as God's grace will allow him to be? Does a momentary indulgence in a bad act put all his efforts to nought? Or is situation different because he REALLY, REALLY desires to be perfect as opposed to the not so sincere believer? If so, doesn't his salvation depend on his degree of sincerity? Isn't this another way of saying his salvation depends on HIS merit rather than as you state:

    "As for safety, my eternal salvation does not rest on my performances. It rests entirely on Christ’s work and that was perfect and sufficient."

    I'm not surprised that people who hold to this view are in a constant state of apprehehnsion about the status of their eternal destiny, as seen in the folllwing:

    "Every Christian will bear spiritual fruit. Somewhere, sometime, somehow." ...Charles Caldwell Ryrie, in his book entitled So Great Salvation.

    What consitutes fruit? REAL, REAL fruit?

    or:

    Dr. R. C. Sproul is a very articulate spokesman for the view that assurance is not certainty. A few years back he described his own struggles with assurance, and in so doing he explained his view of assurance:

    There are people in this world who are not saved, but who are convinced that they are. The presence of such people causes genuine Christians to doubt their salvation. After all, we wonder, suppose I am in that category? Suppose I am mistaken about my salvation and am really going to hell? How can I know that I am a real Christian?

    A while back I had one of those moments of acute self-awareness that we have from time to time, and suddenly the question hit me: "R.C., what if you are not one of the redeemed? What if your destiny is not heaven after all, but hell?" Let me tell you that I was flooded in my body with a chill that went from my head to the bottom of my spine. I was terrified.

    I tried to grab hold of myself. I thought, "Well, it's a good sign that I'm worried about this. Only true Christians really care about salvation." But then I began to take stock of my life, and I looked at my performance. My sins came pouring into my mind, and the more I looked at myself, the worse I felt. I thought, "Maybe it's really true. Maybe I'm not saved after all."

    I went to my room and began to read the Bible. On my knees I said, "Well, here I am. I can't point to my obedience. There's nothing I can offer. I can only rely on Your atonement for my sins. I can only throw myself on Your mercy." Even then I knew that some people only flee to the Cross to escape hell, not out of a real turning to God. I could not be sure about my own heart and motivation. Then I remembered John 6:68. Jesus had been giving out hard teaching, and many of His former followers had left Him. When He asked Peter if he was also going to leave, Peter said, "Where else can I go? Only You have the words of eternal life." In other words, Peter was also uncomfortable, but he realized that being uncomfortable with Jesus was better than any other option!

    According to this way of thinking, certainty is not an option. The very best option available is "being uncomfortable with Jesus."

    http://www.faithalone.org/journal/1997ii/Wilkin.html

    A sincere believer doing his best still has doubts about his salvation based on his impression about his MOTIVATIONS?

    I can see your point about the pitfalls of easy believism, but the Easy Believer is facing the prospect of loss of rewards, not loss of salvation, for his cavalier attitude to discipleship. That's in line with his negilgent attitude of the study of God's Word: he should really be checking out the various views on offer before he decides on an antinomian lifestyle. Phew! Sorry for the long post!

    Hi Danny! Thanks for the help that your post afforded me!

    By Blogger Anton, at Monday, May 05, 2008 6:30:00 AM  

  • Hi Anton,

    Thank you for your reply. I think here that you are refuting more a couple of notions of your own (I hope that doesn’t sound nasty) rather than what I profess to believe.

    To begin with, I cannot rightly be accused of toning down the rhetoric (as you call it) if I have never toned it up in the first place! I have always been very careful to maintain that there needs to be the desire there to forsake the sin, while recognising (along with you, if I read you right) of the many failures that will follow. I repeat again, we are to shoot straight, even if we fall short.

    Secondly, you say: “Now you've given an example of someone who intends to give up nothing of his sinful lifestyle…” I have done no such thing and I am at a loss where such a thing is even suggested in what I have written. My words to someone who intends to give up nothing of his sinful lifestyle is that he is still a rebel against God and that there is no mercy for unrepentant rebels.

    Thirdly, I cannot sincerely follow your logic in knocking down my hope expressed in the words, “"As for safety, my eternal salvation does not rest on my performances. It rests entirely on Christ’s work and that was perfect and sufficient."
    You follow up my statement with these words: I'm not surprised that people who hold to this view are in a constant state of apprehension about the status of their eternal destiny, as seen in the following…: This leads me to ask the obvious question, If my eternal salvation should not rest entirely on Christ’s perfect and sufficient work for a satisfactory spiritual basis…what should it rest on? I think even the FG folk here on this site would disagree with you on this last one.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Monday, May 05, 2008 6:51:00 AM  

  • Hi Rose, and all!

    To Colin,

    Thanks for the reply and the stimulating discussion!

    In the interest of clearing up what I perceive to be muddied waters (not that I'm accusing you of intentionally doing that), let me list out my understanding of your comments.

    Colin's comment: I think here that you are refuting more a couple of notions of your own (I hope that doesn’t sound nasty) rather than what I profess to believe.

    My understanding: Anton is playing fast and loose with Colin's words. Okay, thats just a matter of perception of intentions.

    Colin's comment:To begin with, I cannot rightly be accused of toning down the rhetoric (as you call it) if I have never toned it up in the first place! I have always been very careful to maintain that there needs to be the desire there to forsake the sin, while recognising (along with you, if I read you right) of the many failures that will follow. I repeat again, we are to shoot straight, even if we fall short.

    Let's see. Earlier, we read this:

    Colin's comment: As to the desire after holiness, I would hope that the desire would be for perfect holiness,

    My understanding: Here Colin's goal is perfection. Toning up.

    Colin's comment: even if (when) there is failure to deliver.

    My understanding: Here Colin's goal is toned down. That's actually a bit sad (and I don't mean that in a nasty way), because Jesus' command is:

    Matthew 5:48: 'Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.'

    This is typical of the equivocation you see in Evangelical Christian jargonese (again, I don't mean that in a nasty way, just making an observation).

    Colin's comment: Secondly, you say: “Now you've given an example of someone who intends to give up nothing of his sinful lifestyle…” I have done no such thing and I am at a loss where such a thing is even suggested in what I have written.

    My understanding: I though that this is what you meant here:

    If someone professes to be a Christian, but shows absolutely no evidence, then I must express severe doubt as to the reality of their profession. (Tuesday, April 29, 2008 10:02:00 AM Post).

    Colin's comment: My words to someone who intends to give up nothing of his sinful lifestyle is that he is still a rebel against God and that there is no mercy for unrepentant rebels.

    My understanding: ditto as above.


    Colin's comment: Thirdly, I cannot sincerely follow your logic in knocking down my hope expressed in the words, “"As for safety, my eternal salvation does not rest on my performances. It rests entirely on Christ’s work and that was perfect and sufficient."
    You follow up my statement with these words: I'm not surprised that people who hold to this view are in a constant state of apprehension about the status of their eternal destiny, as seen in the following…: This leads me to ask the obvious question, If my eternal salvation should not rest entirely on Christ’s perfect and sufficient work for a satisfactory spiritual basis…what should it rest on? I think even the FG folk here on this site would disagree with you on this last one.

    My understanding: Colin says the above, but its in flat contradiction to his previous statement:

    "My words to someone who intends to give up nothing of his sinful lifestyle is that he is still a rebel against God and that there is no mercy for unrepentant rebels."

    This statement conveys the impression that the person's salvation depends entirely on his willingness to give up his sinful lifestyle.

    Now, Colin, do let the last comment roll around slowly in that noggin of yours (again, I don't mean that in a nasty way, I do it myself all the time, just making a suggestion) and do try to let the implications settle in.

    Peace.

    By Blogger Anton, at Tuesday, May 06, 2008 12:51:00 AM  

  • Good morning Anton,

    Thank you for your comments. I think that we should recognise [i] what our duties are and then [2] how far we fall short of them. We both agree, do we not, that God requires a perfect holiness? Anything less compromises God’s standards. But we also recognise the reality of our own failure to supply what God requires of us. This doesn’t excuse us in any way, but the clear teaching of the word of God along with our own wretched experience shows us the blunt reality that we cannot deliver. I am not toning down the requirement, because that still stands, whether we can deliver or not.

    Where does that leave us then? Totally dependent upon the work of Another. We rest entirely, 100% on Christ’s work as the sole grounds of our justification. What about the sin issue? Are we to rest upon the work of Another (Christ) and, because we cannot deliver fully on the forsaking of sin, just abandon the duty altogether? No. We do what we can. God accepts even if imperfect, although without lowering His standards. Forsaking sin is not a meritorious work and no man is saved on the basis of it. I emphasise again that sinners are “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6) i.e. on the basis of Christ’s perfect work, imputed to our account.

    There are several requirements for people who want to be saved. Not least, as indicated, the desire to be saved. If someone does not want to forsake their sins, then they evidently do not want to be saved because salvation is specifically said to be “from sin” (Matthew 1:21) I must stand by my oft repeated charge on this and other blogs: There is no salvation for the unrepentant rebel. Forgive me for introducing a human author here, but I think J. Vernon McGee words it well: If you will open your heart, you can come. That is all you have to do. I don’t believe in the idea today that you can have “mental reservations”. The problem is that you have sin in your life, and the Bible condemns it. If you come to Christ, it means you’ll have to turn from your sin, and some people just don’t want to turn from their sin.” He says earlier: A sinner who has been saved, will show a change in his living” Again: “If you go on living in sin, it is because you are a sinner who hasn’t been saved. A sinner who has been saved will show a change in his way of living.” (Comments on Ephesians 1:4) At no time here, does JVM here (teaching the Bible) think that he will see perfection, but he does set forth clearly what is required. This is God’s way and God’s way is the only way.

    Anton; You wrote: This is typical of the equivocation you see in Evangelical Christian jargonese… I assume by this that you make no profession of being an Evangelical Christian? I assumed that you did, although without the benefit of any documentation to that line.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Tuesday, May 06, 2008 1:33:00 AM  

  • Hi Colin, thanks for the attempt at being clearer in your views. That calls for a firmer stating of my own views.

    If being perfect is an impossibility, then any attempt to be obedient to Jesus command is an exercise in futility. If being perfect is a difficult task, then Jesus promises of His yoke being an easy one is hyperbole. Is it being too simplistic, then, in taking Scripture at face value, taking into consideration the ground realities? Maybe not, if we use a different approach in the interpretation of Scriptural teachings.

    I have drifted in and out of Fundamentalism, Evangelicalism and am presently in "Enquiry" mode.

    This, then, is as good a time as any to quote from a human author (Daniel B. Wallace):

    Quote
    But when people with whom I have a much greater theological kinship do the same, I feel as though they are taking a step backwards on their evangelical commitment. After all, one of the things that makes an evangelical different from a fundamentalist is that an evangelical is supposed to be willing to wrestle with the evidence. One of the hallmark differences between a fundamentalist and an evangelical is willingness to dialog over the issues. A fundamentalist condemns; an evangelical thinks. A college professor of mine used to say, “The Christian army is the only army in the world that shoots its wounded.” And, as a colleague of mine at Dallas Seminary says, “Some evangelicals in the rear guard are more comfortable taking pot shots at their own front line troops than they are engaging with the enemy.” It is a sad state of affairs for the evangelical church, especially the Reformed branch, when some act more like fundamentalists than evangelicals.

    and:

    Quote
    Many today are uncomfortable with an inductive approach to bibliology. I have to wonder if perhaps one of the reasons they are is that it is simply easier to hold to a naïve fideism than it is to examine the data. I have to wonder if perhaps the presuppositionalism of Reformed epistemology has run amok in some circles. Yes, I am a presuppositionalist in my core beliefs, but I believe that there is a place for evidence. When I was a full-blown presuppositionalist years ago, I slipped into a kind of doctrinal arrogance. I didn’t distinguish which truths were grounds for others.

    http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=4200

    Quote
    DBW: Up until the last few years, I would say—and have said—that the practice of textual criticism neither needs nor deserves any theological presuppositions. For example, I am not convinced that the Bible speaks of its own preservation. That doctrine was first introduced in the Westminster Confession, but it is not something that can be found in scripture. But with the rise of postmodern approaches to biblical studies, where all views are created equal, it seems that theology is having a role in the discussion. The question is, Is it the right theology? What I didn’t care for about modernism was its tendency toward dogmatism; what I don’t care for about postmodernism is its tendency toward scepticism. I think we’ve jumped out of the frying pan of modernist certainty and into the fire of postmodern uncertainty. At bottom, historical investigation has to deal with probabilities. These fall short of certainty, but all views are not created equal.

    http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/2006/03/interview-with-dan-wallace.html

    All this to say that Evangelicalism is beginning to sound more and more like fundamentalism in the present scenario, perhaps as a knee jerk reaction to the skepticism seen in "Emergent" circles.

    But as Wallace notes, investigation has to deal with "probabilities". That is, instead of spinning a doctrine out of a single instance of Scripture which seems to teach that view, it would be wiser to take into consideration the whole counsel of the Word of God.

    View

    Sin is more an attitude specific problem than a deed specific one. Specifically, the attitude that one knows better than God, ie a desire for autonomy, is the problem, manifested in DOING deeds that exhibit this attitude. Thus a perfect believer is a believer who does NOT have this attitude, momentary slips notwithstanding.


    Several instances of Scripture demonstrate this:

    Gen 3: 2 The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”

    Listening to the serpent: sin is crouching at her door!

    Gen 4: 5 but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.

    Becoming angry: sin is crouching at his door!

    Jonah 3:5 Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them

    The people believed in God: they did well!

    Luke 18: 11 “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’

    He didn't understand that the Law points out sin!

    LUKE 18: 13 “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!

    Jesus: “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

    Do I equate autonomy with exalting oneself? Whaddya think? Sure I do!

    Luke 15: 28 “But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. 29 “But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; 30 but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’

    His past attitude was good. Will a momentary slip tip him into the lost category? Depends on how you measure the moment!

    We know thaat Jesus was alluding to the Jewish attitude towards the inclusion of the Gentiles into the Kingdom of God. What call are the Jews going to make on God's plea for them to love their "brother"?

    Luke 15: 31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 ‘But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”

    Do point out weaknesses/inconsistencies in this view, a view that is supported, I believe, in the revelation of God, in nature (Rom 1:21), in Scripture and most forcefully, in Jesus' life and work.

    By Blogger Anton, at Tuesday, May 06, 2008 9:43:00 AM  

  • Hi Anton,

    There is a mountain of work in making reply to such a long post. Which, unfortunately, I have not the time to spare to give to it.

    Suffice to say this: Evil deeds flow from evil thoughts and I would trace sin to both.

    Lastly, people who are saved are saved on the basis of Christ's perfect work. Although I think it is important to advocate that folk shoulds ever seek to do the will of God, i don't contemplate it in an "in-out-in-out" type of way.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Tuesday, May 06, 2008 10:18:00 AM  

  • Anton,

    who are you? You are a man after my own heart! Great stuff!!! (You don't mind if I co-opt and borrow some of it, do ya? wink, wink!)

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Friday, May 09, 2008 2:29:00 PM  

  • Can anyone here imagine a scenario where it would be possible to believe something and not act in accordance with that belief? Is it even possible to divorce belief from action? People who say they believe things and then not act in ways that demonstrate they believe those very things, don't actually believe those things.

    By Blogger Chris, at Tuesday, May 13, 2008 4:34:00 PM  

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