"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Legalism Is A Cancer on Both Ends of the Scale

This past Saturday at the O-Club before the Oklahoma University vs. Kansas University football game I ran into a former Southern Baptist minister, his wife, and two children. They told me that they had recently moved back to the Norman area after having served at a Southern Baptist church out of state. They have left the ministry temporarily, experiencing symptoms of a burnout due to the treatment they had received at the two previous Southern Baptist Churches where they had served. They are now attending a non-denominational church and, at least according to the wife, will have a hard time stepping foot back into a traditional Southern Baptist church because of the hurts they've experienced. When I asked them to be specific, they spelled it out for me in terms that made perfect sense.

Their battle in the churches where they ministered was with legalism. People in the SBC church had an image, or a standard, of what this couple should be as a family, minister, and friends. This standard was not the character qualities of Scripture, but one of their own creation. This Southern Baptist couple did not meet that standard, and the hurt, pain and rejection was more than they could bear, and so they have temporarily left the ministry. Then, in recounting to me the story, the husband made an interesting statement to me:

"I was saved from my sin and discipled to be a legalist myself. When I began to discover what it means to know Christ and the freedom of loving others where they are in their walk with Christ, I began to throw off the bondage of legalism. What that means is I started accepting people where they were in their journey. My confidence in the work of Christ in my heart, and in their hearts, increased. I realized that God was a far more abler Shepherd of His people than I. Yet, an interesting thing began to happen. The more I began to reject my former legalism, the more descipable I became to the legalists."

When I asked him about attending a Southern Baptist Church in the Norman area, he mentioned several churches they had visited across the theological spectrum in the area and then made an observation that caused me later to reflect on its profundity. He said,

"Legalism is not a problem of just the far right. It is as much a problem in those who pride themselves in theological liberalism. The spirit of legalism in its purest form is your rejection of people who do not meet your standard."

I do believe the cancer that eats away at cooperative ministry among Christians, whether it be at the local church level or the national denominational level, is the spirit of legalism. Would that God give us the grace to accept one another in the various ways He has created and gifted us to be a part of His body, and refrain from demanding everyone be like us.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

172 comments:

Bob Cleveland said...

Wade,


Romans 15:5-7: May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (NIV)

That sure sounds like an instruction, to me. Seems that some folks don't think it is, any more.

Sad.

Kevin M. Crowder said...

"The spirit of legalism in its purest form is your rejection of people who do not meet your standard."


God is a legalist.

I accept that.

While I sympathize with the former pastor who has shed his lifetime calling, I must say that as pastors, we are called to difficult circumstances. We are called into battle. If you don't feel called into battle then never pastor an existing church. Go plant a new one. (of course satan will find you there too eventually) There are 2 types of pastors: those who are called to plant, and those who are called to revitalize. The latter is a holy war against the forces of evil WITHIN the church. Someday you come home with eyes black and blue. But can we really give up and call it burnout? A wise man once told me that burnout is a result of putting out more than you take in. Today I took a day off from the church I pastor. I am going to make it my annual renewal weekend right before the holidays. It was nice to go to another church and just relax in the Lord. I pray daily to never experience burnout. Burnout is like a dormant cancer that no one wants, but the potential is always there. It keeps me on my knees...which makes the black and blue eyes hurt less.

Tom Parker said...

KMC:

Given your newness to the ministry, are you really qualified to speak about burn out to another minister?

Your sympathy does not sound like sympathy to me.

Thy Peace said...

Pastor Wade: Can you please elaborate on this?

"People in the SBC church had an image, or a standard, of what this couple should be as a family, minister, and friends."

I do not have church background or experience to understand the above statement fully. If you can give some specific examples, that would be good for me.

From my simple understanding, Legalism is a list of do's and don'ts that are man made, but not mentioned in the bible. They are social norms. Is this a correct interpretation? Do other Christian groups practice this Legalism?

Ashwin said...

May God Bless us

NativeVermonter said...

KMC: I actually found your comment encouraging. If one had to experience everything before they were qualified to make a comment then why read books? Also, lay people are called into battle too.

So I'm teaching the youth yesterday when Mrs. NativeVermonter motions me to come out. Apparently, a buddy had two tickets to the Rams-Cowboys game that he couldn't use. Problem being, I would have to bolt after SS and miss service. Well, being full of piety and devotion...I was outta there! Now I told a few folks and then waited for the legalistic laser but everyone was of the same mindset...they wanted to go with us!

SBC Impact sometimes run a segment entitled: "You make the call." Well, what would you have done? But don't give me the "I don't like football" lame-o-line. Substitute something you do like and something that just fell in your lap at the last minute. To see the expression on my son's face told me, I made the right call.

Anonymous said...

"Also, lay people are called into battle too."

There are no 'lay' people in the NC. All true believers are gifted and are ministers.

But people will remain convinced there are clergy and laity.

Lydia

Paula said...

Well said, Lydia. We can't hope to solve problems in the Christian community until we know we are a Body and not a business.

Wanda said...

Wade,

This Southern Baptist minister is in very good company because what you have described in today's post is similar to the problem Jesus faced with the Pharisees. He did not measure up to their man-made legalistic system. The scorn He constantly experienced from them must have been overwhelming at times. Because the Gospel writers included so many encounters between Jesus and these legalists, that has to be one of the major themes of the New Testament -- Grace vs. Law.

I find it fascinating that you are bringing up this topic as it relates to the SBC because I spent a great deal of time thinking about grace vs. law a few months ago. My pastor had been preaching through Galatians. Paul included an incredible amount of information in that book about this struggle.

When I was focusing on this topic during the summer, it seemed that almost every sermon I would hear on our Christian radio station concerned law vs. grace. It was incredible! I took the time to record what I was learning, and here are the highlights.

Dr. John MacArthur discussed Romans 10 in a series "What must I do to be saved?" and in that message he explained that the Romans were making God less holy while elevating themselves. Dr. MacArthur referenced Philippians 3 which contrasts the false circumcision with the true circumcision. The Romans were guilty of self-love, pride, and religious self-righteousness.

On the very same day I heard John MacArthur discussing what I have included above, James MacDonald gave a Bible exposition of Philippians 3. James explained that Paul is teaching about false teachers -- the enemies of joyful living. Then he referenced Isaiah 64:6. Our righteousness is as filthy rags. He also mentioned Romans 2. James MacDonald asked this question: "Are you really a follower of Jesus Christ?" If we are true followers, our lives will be marked by three things: (1) We worship in the spirit, (2) We glory in Jesus Christ, and (3) We put no confidence in the flesh.

Michael Youssef then discussed Luke 15, and he severely criticized legalism. He explained that legalism is the elevation of man-made traditions to the level of God. Legalism gives the impression that one is saved by keeping man-made traditions. It's very deceptive! Dr. Youssef was speaking from experience because he explained that he grew up in legalism, and now he is mocking it.

I am beginning to see the big picture presented in the New Testament. Jesus Christ and His followers were diametrically opposed to Judaism. The eternal struggle was grace vs. law, true rightenousness vs. self-righteousness, and circumcision of the heart vs. circumcision of the flesh. We face the same challenge today. Now we have legalism in Christianity, which is very similar to the Judaism that Jesus so severely opposed. Today's legalists are just like the Pharisees whom Jesus always condemned. I sincerely believe it is one of the greatest schemes Satan uses to keep people from becoming true followers of Jesus Christ, and I fear that this is what the SBC minister you have described here experienced in the churches he was pastoring. Grace is what is needed so desperately in the Christian community today.

Blessings,

Wanda

Thy Peace said...

"He explained that legalism is the elevation of man-made traditions to the level of God. Legalism gives the impression that one is saved by keeping man-made traditions."

Wanda: Thanks for the explanation.

Anonymous said...

Dear Kevin,

With all my heart, I must disagree with you in this regard:

Wade wrote: ""The spirit of legalism in its purest form is your rejection of people who do not meet your standard."

Then you responded:

"God is a legalist.

I accept that."


COMMENT: 'your rejection of people who do not meet your standard'
Bob, how can you attribute this to God?

There is only ONE answer to give you: JESUS CHRIST

If God was a perfect legalist, WHY would He come back to Mankind
'who did not meet His standards' and give us the Gift of Jesus?

Why would He ask us NOT to reject others? Why would He ask us to love our enemies?

What a strange, frightening image of God you serve, I cannot imagine that God is like that.

When humans reject those who 'do not meet their standards' what monstrous behavior flows from that: persecution, slavery, prejudice, the Holocaust. . .

In the Church, seventy-seven of His missionaries were persecuted by the 'leadership': no way can anyone tell me that was God's Will.
That treatment was inspired by 'The Enemy', while many looked the other way. Many still look away. Perhaps they think that God is a legalist, too.

Kevin, just for one day, think only of God's mercies towards all mankind. We did not deserve any of them: we were lost, but He came and found us again. Please try. God's justice IS tempered by His mercy. If God is a legalist; God is a Father first, who loves His children and would not abandon them. L's

P.S. If you want to fight the Darkness, focus on the Light of Christ to do it. Point to Him.
It is His Light we follow. In tht Light, we can neither reject, nor hate, nor abandon, not leave uncared for, nor be superior to any others. We are their servants, not their judges. That is what the Light is all about. L's

Thy Peace said...

"We are their servants, not their judges."

Amen.

Anonymous said...

Native Vermonter: I'm not quite sure how your comment about experience relates to what KMC said, but it reminded me of a frequent saying of my father: Experience may be the best teacher but it doesn't have to be your own.

I trust you enjoyed the game since your team won. :-( Not like the
joke about the priest who skipped church to play golf, made a hole-in-one and couldn't brag about it.

Susie

Anonymous said...

My little frown :-( about the football game lost itself in move to the comment column.

Susie

peter lumpkins said...

Kevin,

You assert that there are "2 types of pastors." May I ask, are you describing what is or what the Scripture teaches ought to be? If the latter, would you be so kind as to offer a bit of biblical rationale at that point?

Furthermore, you describe the "2 types of pastors" as: a) those called "to plant" and b) those called "to revitalize." Aside once again there's a lack of any biblical evidence to argue your two descriptions, it's this next phrase that really kicks my chins--"The latter is a holy war against the forces of evil WITHIN the church." Could you please, Kevin, inform me, from NT data, where pastors fight "holy wars" against the alleged "forces of evil WITHIN the church"?

For my part, when I read the Apostolic instructions to Timothy in securing both bishops and deacons in the pristine churches, I hear no language coming close to waging "holy wars" against the "forces of evil" especially "WITHIN" the church (CAPS original). It seems to me such an image is diametrically different from the understanding of 'Bishop,' 'pastor,' 'deacon' in the NT.

Grace. With that, I am...

Peter

Stephen said...

Legalism is alive and well throughout the evangelical church. I left a SBC to worship in a non-denominational church for a brief period. It was refreshing. Having seen my wife suffer discrimination on several occasions, I have grown weary of legalism and unscriptural tradition. Lets see - my wife has been 1. Allowed to lead choir practice, but not the worship service. 2. At a different church, Allowed to lead worship service, but told that the incoming new pastor does not approve of women in the ministry. she almost immediatley resigned. (FYI - this new minister did not last long - something about an extra-marital affair that was beyond tradition. 3. Called a Music Director, but not a Minister of Music. 4. Paid less than men who are "Ministers of ...." but who have less experience and education. Well, you get the picture. To her credit, my wife see the big picture and has never failed to continue to minister to her choirs (regular, senior adult, and childrens) and to the church as a whole. She has the true spirit of Christ.

Thy Peace said...

Stephen: Thanks for your examples. It's becoming clear to me, about what Pastor Wade wrote above. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Is it right to think of Judaism as pure legalism? I have a problem with this because of someone I know. She teaches Hebrew to children in her synogogue. She is an observant Jew. She is my friend.

Here's the problem: THIS friend of mine is more Christian in her behavior than I could ever be. I cannot tell you how gently she cares for the most rejected in our city: mothers and children with AIDS. Her commitment to these children is legendary in our community. How is it that this Jewish woman's love for these little ones testifies of Christ in that place where many 'Christian' women would not go? This is a great mystery for me.

No, I have not found 'legalism' to be the prevailing point of view in the Jewish community of our city. Quite the opposite. L's

Anonymous said...

Is it right to think of Judaism as pure legalism? I have a problem with this because of someone I know. She teaches Hebrew to children in her synogogue. She is an observant Jew. She is my friend.

Here's the problem: THIS friend of mine is more Christian in her behavior than I could ever be. I cannot tell you how gently she cares for the most rejected in our city: mothers and children with AIDS. Her commitment to these children is legendary in our community. How is it that this Jewish woman's love for these little ones testifies of Christ in that place where many 'Christian' women would not go? This is a great mystery for me.

No, I have not found 'legalism' to be the prevailing point of view in the Jewish community of our city. Quite the opposite. L's

Wade Burleson said...

Thy Peace,

Sorry I missed your questions. I agree with you, however, that others in the comment stream have answered it beautifully. I will offer my own answer to your question in more specifics in the next post.


wade

Anonymous said...

Much of the legalism in the historical church and today comes more from Greek thinking and influence (Hierarchies. Chain of Being, etc) than it does from the Judaizers.

Legalism does not work without power and/or influence.

Wanda, McArthur is a legalist when it comes to women. But I appreciate his teaching on other topics.

Lydia

Wanda said...

Lydia,

I know that about MacArthur, but I still learn so much from him.

L's Gran,

I appreciate your comments about your Jewish friend. I have wonderful Jewish friends as well, and I pray that one day they will come to know my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as I do. What I was sharing about Judaism concerned the legalistic attitudes Jesus encountered while He was here on earth.

Blessings,

Wanda

John Fariss said...

My heart goes out to this family. Although I never completely burned out, I too have felt the ire of various legalists, and I agree that they exist independant of theological orientation.

KMC: when you say, "God is a legalist," what exactly do you mean? It sounds a bit inflamatory, but upon reflection, I realize that might not be the way you mean it. He certainly has expectations for Christians (and all humanity for that matter), and per the Bible, will not allow any into His kingdom in whom the Son does not dwell--and that fits one definition of a "legalist," although I personally do not like the term. On the other hand, there are plenty of "legalists" who use cultural and extra-Biblical criteria (such as hair length, clothing & accessories, even speech patterns-and I refer not to cursing, etc., but simply to regional/cultural ways of talking) to define what (they think) is acceptable in God's sight, and I hope you do not mean that. Can you tell me more exactly what you mean?

Peter: all truth is God's truth, but truth is not found only in the Bible. It seems obvious to me that Kevin is speaking of what we might call empirical data (or at least anecdotal evidence), and it is doubtful you will find it in the Bible. That hardly keeps it from being true however. Maybe he used language that you consider a bit "over the top," but would you deny that Satan is alive and active in some churches? My own experience suggests that he is most active against me (and against churches) when I/they are most on the verge of doing some powerful work for God. Church consultants, and I have only dealt firsthand with those who are conservative, will tell you to expect sabatoge whenever you do something different AND right in a dysfunctional situation. And maybe we would disagree on which churches Satan is most active in; but could we agree that neither Kevin nor others have to give prooftext passages in order to say something that is true?

Like I said, I never got completely burnt out, but one of those legalist/dysfunctional churches gave me a heart attack. Interestingly, I was not the first. One previous pastor died from his heart attack, a minister of music had to be committed to a psychiatric facility, another former pastor now runs a dry cleaners, and a string of pastors/staff ministers "as long as your arm" were either fired or resigned under pressure. The good news is that the minister who Wade writes about seems to still have his health, and can recover.

Because He lives,

John Fariss

Wayne Smith said...

Wanda,

AMEN AMEN AMEN

I don’t know you from Adam, but your comment above on Legalism is the best comparison I have ever seen.

LAW verses GRACE


Wade, I believe you missed reading this comment from Wanda

Wayne

Anonymous said...

John said, "He certainly has expectations for Christians (and all humanity for that matter), and per the Bible, will not allow any into His kingdom in whom the Son does not dwell--"

He has sheep whom we know not of.

Who will God bring into His Kingdom?
God will bring in anyone He wants.

Anonymous said...

Hi Wanda,

It's me, L's G.
I am very hope-filled that on the Day, my Jewish friend will recognize the Lord; and He will recognize her, and say, 'come, my good and faithful servant'. . .

I believe this because not to believe it makes no sense to me. L's

Molly Aley said...

Great post. I have been so thankful to have been rescued from the dark pit of legalism, and at first thought, "Never again!" Yet I find it's deceptive lure is always right in front of my face. This post is absolutely correct: legalism is always a threat, no matter which "side" one finds oneself on. As soon as I leave the simplicity of Christ, I'm fair game.

Stephen said...

Great comments on the issue of legalism. I believe the acceptance of America's civic religion has much to do with legalism. Last night I was reminded of civic religion as I witnessed the Pledge of Allegiance during the beginning of our Sunday night Awana program. I do not mean to criticize Awana - I am actually a leader and help kids learn and recite the verses. It is a great program. There is, however, a touch of civic religion there. For information on America's civic religion, please visit my blog at
http://ducksoup-stephen.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Wanda and Lydia,
Law vs grace seems to be a false dichotomy.
In Psalms it says ..the law of the Lord is perfect reviving the soul.
See also "The Way of the Master"
Paul talks about the law being a schoolmaster.
Am I a inaccurate in saying that you would be antinomian

Christ says that "he who loves me keeps my commandments".

BTW...The Pharisees were legalist but Christ Himself also said that they had a place in the lake of Fire. ie they were going to hell. I think it behooves us to avoid putting fellow evangelicals into hell because they seem legalistic to you.


From the Southern Baptist Geneva
Robert I Masters

Anonymous said...

Robert, who wishes it was 1700's Geneva,

What is the 'law' of the NC?

Lydia

Kevin M. Crowder said...

Let me try and work backwards here:

John basically answered Peter's question to me in that I have not nor will I this time attempt to proof text my way out of such a topic. (Example: the Bible does not give us the laws of gravity, but I would be a fool to reject the idea that I could jump off a NY skyscraper and not die on the sidewalk.) As John has explained, I am telling you that if you want to pastor a church, then you either find an existing church or you start a new one. It is irrational to think that there is another option. Either a church exists or it does not. That being said, and more to the point of the post (yet not brought out by Wade) is that there is a unique dynamic which exists in all existing churches. The dynamic is greater, and to a degree more difficult to accept in churches which have existed longer (not a blanket statement).

So here is my point (and this can indeed be used as my qualification--not that I need or even desire Tom Parker's affirmation): We all know that somewhere in the neighborhood of 60% of the 45k SBC churches run under 50 in worship. Now, in some cases, due to location, this is not a bad thing, but I believe in most cases this is due to:

1. Complacency
2. Inward-only thinking
3. Poor preaching and shepherding
4. Lack of a concern for the next generation
5. "Graying"
6. A lack of spiritual growth in the body.
7. Unregenerate socialites
8. Unregenerate leaders
9. A lack of biblical understanding of the process of sanctification.
10. Sin--plain and simple

And, until God calls pastors to these churches who will stand their ground, take the beating, get back up and take it again, and outlive some of the "builders" who have "lost it" then these churches will never change. (For some sadly He has spewed them out of His mouth)

Ladies and gentleman of Wade's blog: Satan has found sanctuary within the American Church. Pastors fight a spiritual, physical and emotional battle trying to shine the light on his evil ways. Some get labeled legalistic (some justly and some not) while others have chosen the opposite path of pragmatism.

Neither is good of course, but we ARE called to be set apart. You can decide what that looks like. Sadly however some believers look no different than the world.

As for God being a legalist? Let us think for a second about one of the lady's comments to the effect that 'God's mercy subdues His judgment.' I disagree. This somehow has the effect of God's judgment being bad without His mercy. That is not true. We all deserve hell and should welcome divine judgment for our part in sinning against a holy and righteous God. But still he will not accept us without out perfect obedience to the law (i.e. we must be righteous). Period. End of Story. We are saved by Works. That is legalistic, that is the law of God.


But



there is more



we have Jesus




who did the work




on our behalf.




How humbling is that?




How much bigger is my God now?




The Pharisees were legalistic unto salvation.




I want to be legalistic unto sanctification.



“Oh praise the One who paid my debt…




...and raised this life up from the dead.”



"With that I am..."


Saved

Kevin M. Crowder said...

"She teaches Hebrew to children in her synogogue. She is an observant Jew. She is my friend."

Does your "friend" reject The Anointed of God?

Then all her "good works" are nothing.

I have many acquaintances. But I do not have friends who reject Christ. My friendship (mind you TRUE Friendship) would cauterize the soul of an unbeliever if I did not persistently share Christ with them. Of course we have to define "friendship."

One of the great mysteries is that, from a human perspective, there will be more "good" people in hell than in heaven.

I think sometimes we do not have a good grasp on the nature of sin.

Anonymous said...

"I have many acquaintances. But I do not have friends who reject Christ. My friendship (mind you TRUE Friendship) would cauterize the soul of an unbeliever if I did not persistently share Christ with them. Of course we have to define "friendship."

It is very easy for some pastors to say that becasue they do not go to work in the 'world' everyday but collect paychecks from tithe dollars. Let's define 'friendship' before we blow people out of the water. There are many different kinds. The ones I worship/study/pray with are my brothers and sisters.

I personally would buy tickets to watch you work beside a homosexual and see what love you treated that person with at work. Let's say you have a wife and kids to support, too. Are you going to tell the homosexual you refuse to have lunch with him when he asks. Are you going to make his salvation a requirement to be friends at work?

In 1 Corin 5 Paul says we are 'not of' the world but that we cannot go out of the world. We live in it. We don't go around judging those outside. We are to judge those IN the Body.

1 Corin 5

9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.
12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”

Lydia

Paula said...

Law vs grace seems to be a false dichotomy.

Not at all:

John 1:17
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Romans 6:14
For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

Galatians 5:4
You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

The best definition I've seen of "grace" is "favor bestowed by the greater upon the lesser." Mercy is the motivation and grace is the expression. As James put it, "Mercy triumphs over judgment." (James 2:13)

So while God has perfect standards which must be met (a legal requirement), they were met by God on our behalf, such that God's holiness and justice is satisfied. And since the Law has served its purpose to bring us to Christ, it is no longer needed or else we find ourselves insulting the work of Christ for us. It is only in Him that we have any righteousness, and in him that we meet the requirements of law.

Therefore, to be a legalist now, after having been saved, is most certainly opposed to salvation by grace through faith alone. To continue being a legalist (in the sense of trying to obey the Law perfectly) is to keep trying to buy that which Christ already owns, and which we have already inherited as children of God.

I've written elsewhere my thoughts on what "church" is all about: see http://www.fether.net/calledout/index.php , so I won't repeat that here. But we really do need to examine the NT and see how little of what we've come to think of as "meeting together" is nothing like what Jesus or Paul had in mind. We think "Pastors" are officers when they are just believers with that gift. Should we refer to others as Givers, Managers, Healers, Tongues-Speakers, etc.? What's up with the use of titles for spiritual gifts?

We are parts of the Body; each part gets orders from one Brain, not other parts. We have the Bible as our authoritative Word from God; everything and everyone must bow to that Authority, and only that. We need to "build each other up", not follow one person's "vision", no matter how sincere they are. We need all the spiritual gifts being used together, not orders in a chain of command. And if we do those things, we will find that no one gets burned out. People who are burned out have been doing other people's jobs.

peter lumpkins said...

John,

Interesting response, my brother: I asked Kevin for a "biblical rationale" (emboldened mine) as to his "2-type" understanding of the pastor's call and you offer an 'all truth is God's truth" response, describing such, in Kevin's case as, "...but truth is not found only in the Bible. It seems obvious to me that Kevin is speaking of what we might call empirical data (or at least anecdotal evidence), and it is doubtful you will find it in the Bible."

If it were the case, John, that there was skimpy evidence pertaining to the role of the pastor-bishop, perhaps your point about 'all truth is God's truth' could carry some weight.

As it is, however, I can't imagine why you'd even think it applicable. After all, I did not inquire about a subject which needs to lean, for its fundamental understanding, on extra-biblical data.

Consequently, your final question possesses little bite, if any: "...could we agree that neither Kevin nor others have to give prooftext passages in order to say something that is true?" Not only is this question irrelevant, it makes simply no sense to the question I asked: [Assuming the Bible reveals some identifiable characteristics pertaining to the role of what God expects from one He calls to be a pastor], what might a biblical rationale look like?

Nor did you or Kevin (in his response) address the silence of Scripture's language--at least, silence, that was not contested--coming even close to God calling pastors to wage "holy wars" against the "forces of evil" especially "WITHIN" the church (CAPS original).

What's so darn funny, John, is only last week we received here a spanking from you for being overly preoccupied with entirely "too much logic." That theme was carried to another thread and you continued to wallop me really good concerning too much "logic."

Now, I am perceived by you as one who wrongly insists on "prooftexting" when my simple desire was to focus on a biblical rationale. Well bust my britches, I need some stitches! :^)

Kevin,

I asked a very simple question(s). Why you would defer to our Brother John's unacceptable response, I cannot tell.

I'll ask the question(s) once again: "are you describing what is or what the Scripture teaches ought to be [pertaining to the supposed 2-type role of pastor]? If the latter, would you be so kind as to offer a bit of biblical rationale at that point? And, also, the biblical rationale for "waging holy war" against the "forces of evil WITHIN the church"? Such would be nice.

Nonetheless, if you'd rather not answer, no problem. Just say so.

With that, I am...

Peter

Anonymous said...

One of the great mysteries is that, from a Divine perspective, there will be more people who THNIK they are "good" in hell than in heaven. Like the 'saved' folks tho torment God's missionaries, maybe?
And the 'saved' folks who chose to look the other way and allow it to happen?

May God Have Mercy On All Of Us.

Anonymous said...

Molly said, :As soon as I leave the simplicity of Christ, I'm fair game."

Dear Molly, So are we all. L's G.

Anonymous said...

Stephen said, "To her credit, my wife see the big picture and has never failed to continue to minister to her choirs (regular, senior adult, and childrens) and to the church as a whole. She has the true spirit of Christ."

You are blessed with a wife whose value is 'a price above rubies.' :)

Tom Parker said...

Peter:

I'm still very curious why you feel so free to comment on a man's blog that you tried to demonize recently. You kept the subject of Wade Burleson on your blog for 18 days. I think you owe Wade an apology, but I really doubt you are man enough to offer him one.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin,

I have all kinds of friends. Some of my friends are even sinners. :) Some of my friends are sick and poor and come to where I volunteer. When they sit down to eat, I sit with them, and keep them company; and in their presence, I can feel God's blessing. Some of my friends have done time. Some of my friends are alcoholics. A lot of my friends help people that no one else wants to go near. I have taught children in who live in places where you wouldn't be caught dead. All I can say to you is this: put aside your judgment of others. God will save whom He will. And, because I know this, I can peacefully wait on the Day. L's

P.S. I'm sorry that you wouldn't want to know my friends; they would not have rejected you. These people have graced my life forever, and I love them. L's

Anonymous said...

Lydia,
You asked...What is the 'law' of the NC?

Elmer Towns answers your question @Got Questions. BTW ..He is no Reformed Baptist!

"A second reason that antinomianism is unbiblical is that there is a moral law God expects us to obey. 1 John 5:3 tells us, “This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome.” What is this law God expects us to obey? It is the law of Christ – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40). No, we are not under the Old Testament Law. Yes, we are under the law of Christ. The law of Christ is not an extensive list of legal codes. It is a law of love. If we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, we will do nothing to displease Him. If we love our neighbors as ourselves, we will do nothing to harm them. Obeying the law of Christ is not a requirement to earn or maintain salvation. The law of Christ is what God expects of a Christian.

Antinomianism is contrary to everything the Bible teaches. God expects us to live a life of morality, integrity, and love. Jesus Christ freed us from the burdensome commands of the Old Testament Law, but that is not a license to sin, but rather a covenant of grace. We are to strive to overcome sin and cultivate righteousness, depending on the Holy Spirit to help us. The fact that we are graciously freed from the demands of the Old Testament Law should result in our living our lives in obedience to the law of Christ. 1 John 2:3-6 declares, “We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands. The man who says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys His word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.”

!700's Geneva...I never said anything about 1700s

Do you see any Presbyterians killing Southern Baptist?
Take the best... forget the rest(Of Geneva)

Paula,
I think that you probably come from a non-reformed background...thus the difference in your understanding of law vs grace for a believer.
The Southern Baptist Convention has historically been a Reformed Baptist Convention. By that I mean that at its founding;and at least its first seventy years, most leaders would have held to the doctrines of grace(ie reformed theology).

Anonymous said...

Kevin said,

"I think sometimes we do not have a good grasp on the nature of sin."

Well, being human, we should all certainly understand its nature. Unfortunately, we choose to ignore the sin in ourselves, and see the same sin in others. It is this judgmental blindness that will lead to damnation, if we cannot get passed it. "Judge not; lest ye be judged" is not to be ingored.

peter lumpkins said...

Tom,

If you've got some criticism of or desire clarification about a point I've made in this thread, I'd be more than willing to engage. If you're interested in personal commentary over me I do not know how to be clearer: I'm just not interested. You (and others, for that matter) can just be my guest, friend; and that, as much as you like.

With that, I am...

Peter

Kevin M. Crowder said...

Lydia,

If you email me I will reply to you in person what I believe should suffice as a "ticket."

Peter,

I shall not be responding to you on this matter a second time because I believe John's response to be sufficient. Secondly, you changed the scope of your question the second time. Now that could be disingenuousness on your part or misunderstanding on mine. Either way, you are trying to use a bulldozer to till the flower bed and in doing so are making a mess.

L's,

I think we both know that you know that that is not what I meant. ;)

You are being a bit legalistic I think...

k

Tom Parker said...

Peter:

I will ask you AGAIN-how do you use Wade as a topic on your blog for 18 days smearing him and then just casually make comments in Wade's blog as simple as pie. It is a simple question. How does your conscience allow you to do that?

For me it is a character issue--your character or lack thereof.

You may dodge and weave but you still owe Wade an apology.

Peter:

You must be pretty bad--KMC will not even reply to you--wink-wink.

John Fariss said...

Peter,

I think you misunderstood my point last week (or whenever it was): not that there is too much logic in your/our arguments althogether, but rather that sometimes there is too much unsupported logic, logic which goes beyond its support. It is possible to build what seems to us an airtight and logically consistent system, but then to overextend our logic--or at least our conclusions--past anything that the Bible says. The JW's do that with Eclesiastes 3:19, "Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: as one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless," taking that to the logical extreme that there is no afterlife or heavenly life for animals or for people either. It ignores much of the witness of the New Testament (viz., Luke 23:43, Jesus' words to the thief on the cross, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."), which they then have to explain some other way. Some Baptists do much the same thing in equating any consumption of beverage alcohol with sin, since we have passages like Proverbs 20:1 which says, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise" and Romans 1:21, "It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak." But by equating drinking with sin rather than prudence, it becomes necessary to explain away other passages like Isaiah 65:8, "Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it," and 1 Timothy 5:23, "Use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities." My point then was against logic which exceeds its support, which I believe you said you could not understand.

And while Kevin and I often disagree (just not this time), whether you recognize it or not, there is truth found outside the covers of the written Word. Gravity, as Kevin mentions is one of those. Arithmetic is another. Newtonian mechanics and relativistic physics, each in their own realms, are two more. And the person of Jesus Christ, the living Word is another!

John

Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin,

You said,

"L's,

I think we both know that you know that that is not what I meant."

Dear Kevin, If I was wrong, this makes me very happy. I just typed that thinking that 'my people' as I call them, had been rejected. I'm glad you told me I was wrong.

I think volunteering at some of the settings where I have worked should be required training for seminary students of all faiths. It is there where the rubber meets the road, there on those 'front lines', where we can most clearly see the mercy of God in action. Those who live in the hellish crucibles of the inner cities often give the greatest testimonies of the grace of the Almighty in their lives.
L's

Anonymous said...

I remember buying a dog for our daughter. We were paying top price for this puppy and we wanted to be sure we were getting a 'pure bred' dog. Papers aside, my husband wasn't sure about the puppy, and said it didn't look quite right for the breed.

While my husband and I and the owners argued: my little daughter went over to the puppy and picked it up. She sat down and cradled the puppy in her arms and it licked her face. And that was it. The puppy was ours.

And so, it was decided. All the 'legalism' aside, what won the day was the love of a little child for a little puppy. I hope heaven is like that.

Anonymous said...

Robert (Calvin) Masters:

Good answer even if you did copy it. I was starting to be concerned that you had brought over the whole ceremonial law into the NC which has no Theocracy.

"Jesus Christ freed us from the burdensome commands of the Old Testament Law, but that is not a license to sin, but rather a covenant of grace. We are to strive to overcome sin and cultivate righteousness, depending on the Holy Spirit to help us."

And here is the rub. If we are truly saved, we have godly sorrow for our sin...even our thoughts that are sinful and we are in daily repentance growing in Holiness over time. So, we ask ourselves, how can people be so consistently cruel to others, ruining their lives, being greedy, seeking power and influence over others, coddling pedophiles who hurt children and call themselves followers of Christ? Something does not match up unless they believe this convenant of Grace is really a license to sin or perhaps, they have their own view of what is sin. Perhaps they think they do get to define sin.

Anonymous said...

oops, Robert, that was me, Lydia

Paula said...

Anonymous said, I think that you probably come from a non-reformed background...thus the difference in your understanding of law vs grace for a believer.
The Southern Baptist Convention has historically been a Reformed Baptist Convention. By that I mean that at its founding;and at least its first seventy years, most leaders would have held to the doctrines of grace(ie reformed theology).


Anon,

I quoted several scriptures contrasting law and grace; what spin anyone may put on those really doesn't matter to me. The fact is, Law vs. Grace is not a false dichotomy, per the apostles John and Paul. And it should be very clear from the Rom. 6 passage that freedom from law is not any license to sin.

But what is really a false dichotomy is that non-reformed must equal antinomian. Oh I know, people equivocate on the terms and say things like "well, antinomian literally means against law and that's what you're saying", but of course those who use that reasoning mean much more than "non-law" when they call someone an antinomian. They say "antinomian" but think "one who refuses to call anything 'sin'".

My motivation as a Christian is to first of all love God and people; everything else flows from that. If I love God I will not want to displease Him, so if I know something displeases Him I will not do it. And I know from scripture that things like lying, stealing, sexual infidelity or perversion, physical harm, and many other things displease God, making them sins. For that reason I stand opposed to them, and this is in no way conflicting with Grace. In fact, it's the natural, logical conclusion of it.

In other words, the real key here is motivation. You and I may both agree on what things are sins, but have very different views of why we believe as we do. One person obeys God out of legalistic obedience (and, too often, wishes to enforce the same on others), while another obeys God out of love and a desire to please Him. Now I'm sure legalists would insist they too desire to please God, because they think that being legalistic is how they show that love. But the problem, beyond just not seeing eye to eye on this, is that the legalists tend to get into a kind of checklist mentality by which to measure both themselves and others.

Bottom line: our basic motivation should always be to please God. If we have that, everything else will fall in line.

peter lumpkins said...

John,

To suggest now what you intended by your 'logic' that exceeds 'logical foundation' statement (or some such) after I asked point blank at least three times because I hadn't a clue to what you referred is fantastic.

Yet, from my part of the swamp, it is not near as fantastic as to assume, from a single syllable I wrote, that I suggested "...whether [I] recognize it or not, there is truth found outside the covers of the written Word." (embolden mine). Where you could get such is easy to prove: show me, John, from my words precisely how you deduce such. That you could get such is staggering.

With that, I am...

Peter

peter lumpkins said...

Tom,

Final comment. First, I am unsure how long you've been around. The fact is, my blog has had posts mentioning our beloved bloghost for going on two years now. Your '18 day' comment is way below par. Contrary to your assessment, however, I dealt, as best I knew how with the issues and not with the person like you wrongfully suggest. And, if you have a problem with my character, please know you have my express permission to do so. Carry on, sir.

Secondly, Tom, unless you deal with a specific issue or point I post, that's the last comment you'll receive from me (bar my forgetful mind, unfortunately). I wish you a great life.

With that, I am...

Peter

Robert I masters said...

Paula,
you said ....."And since the Law has served its purpose to bring us to Christ, it is no longer needed or else we find ourselves insulting the work of Christ for us."
However you want to spin it that is Anti-nomianism.

My point about the verses was that you have to use Scripture to interpret Scripture.


www.ubuntu.com
Robert I Masters

Byroniac said...

Robert I Masters:

I noticed you used the web address of my current linux distribution of choice in your signature. Are you affiliated with them in any way?

Tom Parker said...

Peter:

So let me understand even better that you regularly use Wade as your blog topic--my 18 days that I mentioned was only a kick in the bucket. You have used Wade in a demeaning, poking fun at way, that is am attemp to tear him down. Please just tell me that you will or will not apologize to Wade for the shameful way you have used him and I will leave you alone.

Maybe you can tell this is an important matter to me, because I have never seen Wade treat you the way you have treated him.

I'll say again this is a matter of character or a lack of character on your part.

Anonymous said...

Lydia said:
'Something does not match up'

You got that right!

peter lumpkins said...

Kevin,

That you would not be responding to my query further, Kevin, was an acceptable answer. Why, then, you thought you must add a commentary on my alleged sleight of hand is hard to understand.

You charge: "you changed the scope of your question the second time. Now that could be disingenuousness on your part or misunderstanding on mine. Either way, you are trying to use a bulldozer to till the flower bed and in doing so are making a mess."

To the contrary, Kevin, if there is a mess here, it is not I who has created it. I asked simple, straight-forward questions not toward you as a person, questioning character, such as some may enjoy doing (no, not you); but pertaining to the points of your posting both times I offered my query.

Twice you said your were comfortable with John's answer. As unacceptable as John's response was/is to me, I was willing to move right along.

Unfortunately, after saying you had no intention of responding further, you shot your six-gun while leaving the saloon, suggesting I 'changed the scope' possibly in a 'dis-ingenuousness' manner; and granted while leaving open your possible misunderstanding, nonetheless, I am the one who ends up 'making a mess.' So much for 'not responding,' Kevin.

For the record, here are my questions from the first and then second query to you:

FIRST-A: "May I ask, are you describing what is or what the Scripture teaches ought to be? If the latter, would you be so kind as to offer a bit of biblical rationale at that point?"

FIRST-B: "Could you please, Kevin, inform me, from NT data, where pastors fight "holy wars" against the alleged "forces of evil WITHIN the church"?

SECOND-A: "are you describing what is or what the Scripture teaches ought to be [pertaining to the supposed 2-type role of pastor]? If the latter, would you be so kind as to offer a bit of biblical rationale at that point?

SECOND-B: "And, also, the biblical rationale for "waging holy war" against the "forces of evil WITHIN the church"? Such would be nice."

If I may request, Kevin, please demonstrate how the second set of questions 'changed the scope' from the first set. Either I am blind as an aged bat or something gives elsewhere. Personally, I think it the latter.

This may seem a bit trivial to you, my friend. But when words are what I attempt to deal with, since we cannot deal with a person's heart in exchanges like this--and I did deal with your words--I take it very seriously when one pokes me in the eye suggesting I may have been 'dis-ingenuous' because I allegedly, in fact, 'changed the scope' of my questions, resulting in 'making a mess' of things, hoping, I can only assume, we can just let it go.

I most certainly will let it go. No big deal...unless someone continues to toot the horn that somehow I have committed a sleight of hand, here.

With that, I am...

Peter

Paula said...

Robert said,

However you want to spin it that is Anti-nomianism.

And like I said, what you mean specifically when you use that term makes all the difference. If you think I promote a license to sin, or that such a thing is the only alternative to legalism, you think wrong. So the question for you is, what spin do you use for "antinomian", or does it change with the debate?

My point about the verses was that you have to use Scripture to interpret Scripture.


Who said otherwise? Not me. Do the scriptures I quoted change to the complete opposite meaning when other scriptures are considered? And wouldn't that be an example of a contradiction?

Anonymous said...

Kevin,

"Does your "friend" reject The Anointed of God?"

You should ask her. But, she may not have a chance to talk to you, she may be too busy taking care of some of 'the least of His' to try to defend herself against one so ready to condemn her to hell.

Jesus will know her. He will know her because she cared for some of His little one's that no one else wanted to touch. He will recognize you, too, as the one so ready to say 'she is condemned' .

She is 'filled' with the Light of His love for these children. You should see the babies respond to her care. She may, afterall, BE the most 'Christian' person I know.
She just doesn't know it.

L's

Lin said...

"But what is really a false dichotomy is that non-reformed must equal antinomian. Oh I know, people equivocate on the terms and say things like "well, antinomian literally means against law and that's what you're saying", but of course those who use that reasoning mean much more than "non-law" when they call someone an antinomian. They say "antinomian" but think "one who refuses to call anything 'sin'".

Good point, Paula.

Robert I masters said...

Byroniac,
Not officially ...but I use them exclusively in my business.
Have you seen this edition of Ubuntu

http://ultimateedition.info/Ultimate_Edition_1.9/#screenshots

and do you Compiz Fusion

http://wiki.compiz-fusion.org/

I formerly worked at Dell and introduced Ubuntu to many employees. I have also talked to Tim Vineyard who is the CIO at Lifeway .I think it could save Southern Baptist millions of dollars if they would use Ubuntu instead of the
convicted monopolist.

Ubuntu rocks and the price is right!

www.ubuntu.com
Robert I masters


Wade my apologies for the detour

Paula said...

Tanx Lin :-)

Robert I Masters said...

Paula,
A dichotomy by definition is mutually exclusive.
see here....
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dichotomy

I said Law vs Grace is a false dichotomy.
In other words you can have both law and grace.

You said...Not at all
In other words you have either law or grace not both. The verses you used seemed to emphasize grace and in fact you stated that the law was no longer needed and to use the law would be an insult to God.

So I mean by Anti-nomianism...against the law.

BTW-Legalism and Antinomianism would be a true dichotomy.

We are Saved by Grace in order to obey the law.
Justification then Sanctification


www.ubuntu.com
Robert I Masters

John Fariss said...

Peter,

If I were a betting man (and I'm not), I'd bet you thought your last entry was a masterpiece. In a way, it was. In a way.

If you will read over our previous exchange, you will find that I have changed nothing. If I found a slightly better way to phrase what I said, praise be to God. But I have not changed, and had you have been willing to think about it rather than just come up with "clever" way to disagree, you should realize it.

You can shoot back if you care to, but I shan't.

John

Lin said...

"I said Law vs Grace is a false dichotomy.
In other words you can have both law and grace.

You said...Not at all
In other words you have either law or grace not both. The verses you used seemed to emphasize grace and in fact you stated that the law was no longer needed and to use the law would be an insult to God."

So, Robert, does this mean you are under Mosaic law? Is Mosaic law and Grace a false dichotomy?

Paula said...

Robert, I know what a dichotomy is, or I wouldn't have used the word. But I think you have more important answers to give than how to use a dictionary.

But at least you did tell me what you personally mean by antinomianism. The question you did not answer was whether you always only mean it literally, and what the scope is. In other words, does it mean "against ALL law", or against putting Christians back under Law, which Paul so passionately fought against?

You want a very narrow definition when pressed for answers, but when you use it in conversation I have the impression you mean more than the narrow, literal definition. That is, you mean that unless we are under the Laws of Moses, we are lawless people who condone sin. Which is all to say, you're equivocating. The contrast here is between Law and Grace, so I can only assume you take Grace to mean "lawlessness". Is that your definition of Grace? Can you defend it from scripture?

The verses I cited clearly make Law and Grace mutually exclusive. Show me from scripture and with context that the verses I cited mean something else.

Anonymous said...

"Law" vs. "Grace"

Is this what it means:

the "law" is like a bridge across a raging river. WE have to step very carefully and do everything exactly right or we will fall to our doom.

OK. Being humsn, we don't follow the rules and we fall into the raging river. Predictable.

Now, is "Grace" like a wave that picks us up and carries us safe to the river bank so that we can have another chance to live? We don't have to do anything here; the gift of the wave comes TO us and helps carry us to be saved.

IS ANY OF THIS ANY WHERE NEAR RIGHT? L's

Byroniac said...

Wade my apologies for continuing the detour, but Linux is a favorite subject of mine...

Robert I Masters:

I own a Dell, and I'm using Ubuntu 8.04 (32-bit, for certain hardware drivers, though I have a 64-bit processor). I'd love to brag that I wrote this comment under Ubuntu, but no, I had a relapse and am currently booted into Windoze (actually, I like Windows too, but not the price tag).

I have not seen Ultimate Edition. Thanks! I'll have to check that out. I don't do Compiz, because although I love window manager GUI eye candy, I haven't really played with it much yet.

Have you seen Ubuntu Christian Edition?
http://www.ubuntuce.com/

Ubuntu is great. I started in the Linux world with Red Hat Linux (back when it was still Red Hat Linux) and stayed with it through Fedora 7. Then I switched to Ubuntu. Fedora is better in some ways, especially if you like bleeding edge software, but overall I prefer Ubuntu (though I have to grab the latest source code for games and some apps and compile it myself to get the latest releases in some programs I enjoy that are not updated often in the repos). I love FreeBSD (on the UNIX side) but it does not like my hardware, and I am trying out the latest OpenSolaris. But one OS I hope does well is ReactOS, and I hope it will eventually become competitive.

I think one of the biggest problems with L*nux/Un*x right now is hardware support (newest machines and video cards) and software availability (one word: games). I've had a tough time getting WinModems to work on the newest Ubuntu (because I use my computer as a fax machine in Windows), even with paid LinModem drivers (because I'm not a guru yet, lol). For gamers, it's going to be PC/Mac for a long time to come. But for people who just need to check email, surf the web, and do basic word-processing (i.e., a Business environment or home-office), L*nux/Un*x is king. But I think my dream is to have a huge PowerMac black monolith a la 2001 sitting on my desktop and quadruple-boot Mac OS X, Boot Camp w/ Windows Vista, and some Linux flavor (Fedora?), and a BSD flavor if possible. This would be like the rapture or being caught up to the third heaven: only in digital format, or at least as close as I can get to it on Earth.

Oh, have you looked at the Wubi installer for Ubuntu? This is one of the coolest ideas ever, IMHO. I installed Ubuntu Linux into a single huge file named root.disk and can boot into it using the Windows boot manager (OK, there are more files involved, but that's the file containing the main partition). There's even a tool you can get on the Net called LVPM to allow you to transfer to an actual empty partition later.

Of particular interest to me is to try to get e-Sword working again under Ubuntu (I did it once, by using a very inelegant copy and paste between partitions and rigging it to run under Wine). It looks like 8.04 has good support if you use the optional Winetricks package (I haven't tried this yet).

http://appdb.winehq.org/objectManager.php?sClass=version&iId=11024&iTestingId=27571

P.S. I have a few Ubuntu links on my Byroniac blog (defunct but online).

peter lumpkins said...

John,

Whether or not 'clever' or even 'masterpiece' describes what I write I'll leave for you to decide. I care not a Georgia pineapple either way.

What you strangely and subtly project upon my exchange with you, however, is worth noting: "If you will read over our previous exchange, you will find that I have changed nothing."

John, you seem to be suggesting that I charged you with "changing" something in what you wrote. Please, John, could you be specific?

For the record: I have not so much as hinted that you changed squat. Are you confusing my words with Kevin's who charged me with 'changing the scope' of things?

Indeed, what I did do was opine the fact that I inquired more than once what your 'logic beyond logical foundations' phrase meant only to be faced with a "think-Peter-think-you're a smart-guy-you'll-figure-it-out" kind of response.

Consequently, I'm oddly reminded here on this thread what you meant when you wrote about 'logic beyond logical foundation. It is that I dubbed "fantastic."

But saying something is "fantastic" is surely no where close to saying something is changed. In fact, nothing could change because you gave nothing to change!

Personally, John, I think it is best you not answer back. You appear to me so desperate to prove me wrong or mistaken or as a self-identified 'clever' respondent who evidently thinks himself, stemming from some sort of overly-bloated, pride-driven mania, to write 'masterpieces', that you simply are grasping at most anything as a "gotcha" moment.

Usually, I have found personally, when I am at odds with another, I have to redouble my effort to keep the focus on verifiable objections or else I'll succumb to the fleshly temptation in fabricating stuff that otherwise carried no real weight.

I hope & trust that is not where you are at with me. Alas, but the evidence before my eyes creates a disappointing contradiction to my trust & hope.

Peace. With that, I am...

Peter

Anonymous said...

Brother Wade,

My wife and I are on a leave of absence from the IMB to care for our ailing parents. During the time we have been home I was interim pastor for eight months of a small SBC church close to where we live.

During these months in the course of ministering to the church folks and visiting in the area of the church, my wife and I met many folks who had been hurt sometime in their past, distant or not so distant, in a SBC church by a pastor or church members. They often share what could only be described as spiritual abuse as defined by a number of books written on the subject in the past few years. Often this abuse involved legalism as defined by the church leaders or the pastor. Meeting these people just broke our hearts.

I am convinced that if I put a sign in the yard of our house announcing a worship gathering for hurt and hurting Christians, we would have a house full the first time we met. I am further convinced that within a few months I could have a MEGA CHURCH!!

I just do not understand how people can call themselves Christians and be so legalistic and abusive. I have read several books lately about the need to minister to the hurting Christians and help them to be able to return to the church and a vibrant relationship with God. I am earnestly seeking God’s will for my life in regards to this opportunity to minister to hurting Christians. I want them to know that God loves them and so do my wife and I.

With a breaking heart for so many good people,

RP in FL

Robert I Masters said...

Paula,
I hold to classical reformed view of law and grace.
Here is a Southern Baptist link to that view.

http://www.founders.org/journal/fj58/article2_fr.html

Have a nice day

from the Southern Baptist Geneva
Robert I Masters

anonymous said...

It seems that I am the topic of many comments today. I am the minister (not a senior pastor)of whom Wade spoke with this past weekend and feel the need to respond to at least one comment made (or question).
Here is just one example of the kind of legalism I faced in my last SBC church.
One individual church member, in a prominent position, could not believe that I would listen to or read anything written by a non-christian author or musician. He found himself to be on a higher spiritual plain than myself because he did not. However, he did seem to think it was OK to discuss all of my apparent shortcomings (and I do have them) with his friends and Sunday School members. He then arranged a meeting with myself and my pastor(who wisely asked a couple of my friends to attend on my behalf) to discuss the list of complaints he and his "friends" had compiled. Again, this was a leader in the church, not just an attender.
And guess what. Gossip was not on the least.
Don't get me wrong, there were some wonderful people in that church and I made some great friends. But they were not in charge and this kind of activity was left unchecked.
And this is just one example.

anonymous said...

Correction, Gossip was not on the list.
oops.

Paula said...

Robert,

You said, I hold to classical reformed view of law and grace.

When someone asks me what I personally understand about a topic, I might offer such a link, but I'd also think it rude if I did not also provide my own synopsis or summary, offering the link as further reading if the other person wished to pursue the matter. So when all you do is post a link, you're telling me you do not intend to provide direct answers to my simple questions.

Nevertheless, after reading the article, I saw what is typical of the many reformed articles I've read: plain words in scripture just don't mean what they appear to mean, and have to be explained away with many paragraphs of doublespeak. The writer, for example, acknowledges that Paul said "not under law but under grace," then says "Under grace, the believer no longer finds obedience to God’s Law a condemning burden, but a joyful privilege of the saved under grace." Under but not under; it's just your attitude that changes. The writer adds, "we seek to keep the Law of God under grace." This should be obvious to the reader as a direct contradiction of Paul's clear statement contrasting law and grace.

At any rate, it is impossible to debate the matter of legalism when your definition claims law and grace are only differences of motivation and not the mutually exclusive entities Paul talks about.

Anonymous said...

Anon. wrote:

"One individual church member, in a prominent position, could not believe that I would listen to or read anything written by a non-christian author or musician. He found himself to be on a higher spiritual plain than myself because he did not."


Does not read anything written by a non-Christian author?

I suppose this 'holier that thou' individual refuses to read the
Old Testament?

This man is not 'holier than thou'
He is: 'holier than Thou."

Someone should tell him that there is no such thing as 'holier than God'.

Robert I Masters said...

Paula,
Maybe we can just agree that reformed and non-reformed come to a different fork in the road based on their theological presuppositions...fair?

I am not out to force my convictions on you but my convictions will only make sense in a reformed worldview! Iam fine with that conclusion.

From the Southern Baptist Geneva
Robert I Masters

Paula said...

Robert,

Maybe we can just agree that reformed and non-reformed come to a different fork in the road based on their theological presuppositions...fair?

Quite an understatement, but just agreeing to part ways sure beats the usual bitter feud. But we need to acknowledge the importance of defining terms before attempting to debate them.

I am not out to force my convictions on you but my convictions will only make sense in a reformed worldview! Iam fine with that conclusion.

Works for me.

John Fariss said...

Peter,

Well, wow, I guess you told me off. Yeah. I guess.

NOT!

John

Rex Ray said...

L’s Gran,
You are so right that Grace is like the gift of a wave that carries us safe to the river bank.

Peter said, “…all are saved the same way, but the free gift of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 15:11 Living)

The Laws were lifejackets for Jews on a sea of sin, until Calvary put them on the bank. But they kept wearing them and insisted lifejackets for Gentiles.

Rex Ray said...

Oops,
"by the free gift of the Lord Jesus."

Anonymous said...

Hi Rex Ray,

Thank you. I'm one who needs to put the definition of terms into a story or an example: just to find out if I had 'processed' or understood it. That is how I used to teach my students in the inner city. If it worked for them . . .

Now. Upon recollection of my examples, I will note this: God will save whom His will. When the wave brings us safe to the River Bank, it will GOD who decides who makes it. Not any human interpretation of any scripture to the glory of any man, his denomination, or his religion.
We should NEVER ever judge who is going to make it or not. He alone, will be the Judge. God's ways are far above us. We cannot know His ways. His grace is His to give when He sends the wave of salvation.

I have often thought that there are those who betray Christ, even while they say His Name. These are the folks who sit in judgment on others, and in doing so, are without compassion for them. And without respect for the power and will of the Lord to act 'as God'. Are we to tell God who He is to save? I wouldn't. This is way above any Christian's pay grade.

Like those who say a lot of 'good people' will go to hell. How can they know? Where is their humility before the Lord? They shame themselves by their 'finger-pointing'.

One necessary sign of a true Christian is a humble walk with the Lord. Without that, all else is meaningless. L's

Paula said...

Like those who say a lot of 'good people' will go to hell. How can they know? Where is their humility before the Lord? They shame themselves by their 'finger-pointing'.

^^ That statement is itself an example of finger-pointing and lack of humility, seeing that it judges the hearts and motives of those who do not accept Calvinism.

Anonymous said...

Dear Paula,

I do not know what 'Calvinism' is. It is not a word in my faith tradition. I meant no disrespect to you or your religion.
My own faith teaches me that I will be judged as I have judged others. That is all I know. I'm sorry if you were offended. It was unconsciously done. L's Gran

Byroniac said...

Well, no good people go to hell. No good people go to heaven, either. There are no good people (Romans 3). Everyone's heart is less than pure, whether you are a Calvinist or not, according to Scripture (Jeremiah 17:9). Of course, I hold to the Reformed view of salvation personally.

Anonymous said...

Byroniac and Paula,

What do you both think that this means?


"But the sinner standing a little off to the side, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast saying, 'God, be merciful to me the sinner.' I tell you this man went down to his house justified rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled but he who humbles himself shall be exalted."

Thanks for helping. L's G.

Anonymous said...

Domine, non sum dignus.

Byroniac said...

L's G:

The sinner recognized his true state of worthlessness before God and petitioned for mercy (which by definition, is voluntarily withholding punishment due). God responded in grace by showing this man mercy and justifying him by faith. God could not forgive sins without justification by faith in Christ's death and resurrection. If God simply forgave and forgot outside of Christ, He would forsake and mock His own Holy standard of justice and righteousness. But because of Christ's action, God can freely forgive because the penalty is paid. Yes, I notice that Christ is not mentioned in the Scripture but the man's faith in God. But the key component here was that the faith rested in God Himself somehow forgiving the sin and making it right, not in the man's actions or resting upon his character.

Anonymous said...

Hi Byron,

You wrote:

" If God simply forgave and forgot outside of Christ, He would forsake and mock His own Holy standard of justice and righteousness. But because of Christ's action, God can freely forgive because the penalty is paid. "

I suppose that I see Christ as the Light of the world.
So, if I see a relection of His Light in another, then I must think that the person's goodness is His goodness. I don't know if that makes any sense to you.
But I HAVE seen this light reflected in the eyes of my child. And I know its Source. L's

You could tell my son Patrick that he 'is not a good person'. He has been rejected by so many. He would not understand you. He would only smile at you and give you a hug, unless he was shoved away. He has Down Syndrome.
I guess he doesn't know any better. He definitely doesn't know any worse.

Proud Mom Of Patrick Who is a Truly Good Person ,

L's G.

Byroniac said...

I do believe that any goodness we find in people must have its source in God, because God is the author of all goodness. Goodness does not exist apart from Him. Where I disagree with a lot of people, even some other Christians, is in my thinking that God's own being defines the standard of goodness, and it is not simply a virtual standard floating out there in space by which God operates. That is to say, God is certainly good and does good, but this is because He is the self-referential definition of good, not an independent standard arrived by the pursuit of humanistic philosophy or theology. I do not believe anyone is basically good except God, but I also believe that God can save anyone and it is His right to do so (or not) as He pleases.

Anonymous said...

Hi Byron,

You wrote:

"Well, no good people go to hell. No good people go to heaven, either."

I believe this:

People will go where God wants them to go. We cannot know the Mind of God, therefore, we cannot assume what He will choose to do: about ANY PERSON IN THE WORLD.

I think where we disagree may be that some people feel that they 'know' someone else is 'not saved' as they put it.

How can they know this. There are a lot of people out there saying 'Lord, Lord' but but then look at how they harm others.
Only God can see into the heart and soul of a human.
We cannot do this and we should not judge another. In justice, it's not our call. L's

P.S. This 'Calvinism' thing: does it endow its believers with insight into the souls of men?

Karen in OK said...

L's Gran,
It is easy to read fatalism into your comments. Which, ironically, often is an argument against Calvinism (by those who don't understand it).

The Bible does address salvation. I am not assuming when I say that people who reject Christ will go to Hell. The Bible is very clear.
I am also very sure that I am going to Heaven. That is because Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour. It is because of His finished work on the Cross for me.

I agree with you that I do not have the list of those who will finally believe or not. I have a relative who rejected Christ for many years and became a Christian in his late 80's shortly before he died. Yes, God can save anyone, and no, He has not given me the list. And there are many who claim to be Christians but are not really.
But He will not save anyone apart from Christ. You seem to be saying that He can, because He can just plain do what He wants. But He has already told us in His Word how to be reconciled to Him, and He is not going to just make exceptions because some people are pretty nice, and a lot nicer than other people, even though they rejected Christ.

So could you please clarify your comments? I don't wish to misunderstand you. Sometimes you seem to think that God will save people just because they are nicer than others. Sometimes you seem to profess the idea that at the end of the day God will just pat us all on the head because He is, after all, loving.

Paula said...

L's Gran,

Sorry if I sounded offended, I really wasn't. Just pointing out that the statement itself was an example of that which it criticized.

What do you both think that this means?
But the sinner standing a little off...


It's all about the heart. The Pharisee was self-righteous, while the sinner knew his true status before God. Humility vs. pride.

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen,

You said, "You seem to be saying that He can, because He can just plain do what He wants"

Yes, I did say that.
God can and will do what He wills.

His behavior cannot be circumscribed to a pattern of behavior that we can totally understand. His ways are far above our ways.

So, I can't go around telling others that if they don't believe like 'I' believe, they are going to hell. Doesn't work that way. I would be serving another master if I did that. And someday, because I had judged these others, God might send me to that other master. :(

Believing as I do, I cannot understand why anyone would want to judge the condition of another's soul. Much less, condemn that soul to hell.

The only commission I have from God is to go out and serve Him and others. And to do it with humility. Judgment and condemnation are His; and well as His mercy and His forgiveness.

I hope that clarifies a little.

If you wish for me to expand, I will try, although we both speak from differennt faith traditions.

God is all-knowing.
We are not.

God is all powerful.

God is omni-present: everywhere

God is One: the mystery of the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit:
All One God. If a Jew prays to God, then Christ hears them also.

God does not answer to us. We can not circumscribe what He will do on behalf of anyone. We may know some of it, but never all. Because we cannot know ALL, we are not to say to another: you are damned. We are plainly told that we see as through a glass darkly; and we will not understand fully until the Day.

For your personal assurance I rejoice. Thank God for your peace. It is a great and merciful gift.

About God, there is only one thing I can say for sure; and that is:

His ways are so far above mine. I'm sure that His mercy to all will probably MORE than exceed my expectations. L's

Byroniac said...

Just now getting back to this conversation, but I have to agree with Karen. None of us truly knows for sure who is saved and who is not, but I think we get pretty good ideas at times about certain people (knowing the tree by its fruit). We do not judge hearts, but we do judge fruit to tell how healthy or what kind of tree it is (Matthew 7).

L's G, what do you do with verses like Joh 14:6 (ESV) "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" This verse is crystal clear to me that there is no pathway of salvation outside of Christ. And also in that same chapter note John 14:5-7 concerning the Holy Spirit sent from the Father because of Christ and indwelling believers. In my flesh, I would not mind if salvation depended on works instead of faith in Christ, but only if the standard for works was low enough to reach. It isn't. God only has one solution outside of Christ for sin: death. And God only has one standard for works: perfection. God sent Christ both to die for our sins and also resurrect to eternal life because of His perfect works of righteous obedience. So now we who believe in Him live because He lives and gives us eternal life.

Byroniac said...

L's G:

Concerning Calvinism, I want to say that it does not and should not automatically lead to self-righteous condescension, but in many people (including me) that has been the case. When people become Calvinists, many go through what we call a "cage stage," so called because for a time they are generally good for nothing but being locked up and fed a strict diet of bread and water until they mellow out enough to return to normal civilized conversation. This is what should have happened to me, figuratively, if not literally. Be that as it may, the main focus of Calvinism is not who deserves to go to hell or not, but upon God's sovereignty to choose in His own free will whom He will save out of the mass of corrupted, hell-deserving humanity. I have probably said too much already, but let me assure you anyone who genuinely believes Christ and wants to be saved will be (because, I believe, God stirred them to desire that).

Anonymous said...

Hi Byron,
Thank you for weighing in.
If you carefully read St. Matthew, Chapter 25, I think you will understand what it is that I am seeing. Towards the end of the chapter, Jesus speaks of two groups of people: one group He sends away and one group He accepts. The group that He accepts DID NOT KNOW that they had helped Him when they fed and cared for the poor. He tells them that 'you did it also to Me' and so these righteous people, who had no idea of the Spirit of God's Presence in the needy people, these 'righteous' people are invited into the Kingdom.

I like, love, live this chapter. It gives me a lot of hope for very many people, (including me.:) It gives me hope for my saintly Jewish/Christian (though she doesn't know it) friend who works with AIDS babies.
I don't think I understand the Calvinism thing. It mostly sounds like temporal people trying to speak for an Eternal God, and not knowing how to do it without sounding like self-righteous idiots. They can't get passed the time/eternity thing. No offense, please. It's just that maybe, they could find a BETTER WAY to explain it so that God doesn't sound so merciless and people don't sound so dependent on their own instincts to be saved, instead of reliance on the merciful intervention of the Holy Spirit in their lives to teach them the right direction to go. I think I really messed that description up: I need a better word for 'idiot' I suppose. Sorry. Don't take it personally. By this time, you know I'm going to use the strangest expressions anyway. :)L's G.

Anonymous said...

WE ANSWER TO GOD.
GOD DOES NOT ANSWER TO US.

GOD DOES ANSWER US.

WE NEED GOD.
GOD DOES NOT NEED US.

WE SEEK GOD.

GOD NEVER LEFT US.
WE JUST DIDN'T KNOW IT, AFTER THE FALL.

Byroniac said...

L's Gran:

Ouch. (Hey, that's my toe you're stepping on there). :)

I understand what you mean, I think, at least partially.

I have a different take on Matthew 25 than you do. I see the righteous, who are described as "sheep" and for whom the kingdom was prepared from the foundation of the world, rewarded for good works that they had no knowledge of doing towards Christ. That is, they were not doing this to win God's favor or try to earn His blessing or mercy. On the other hand, I see the goats who are faulted for their disobedience in works, who demand explanation and assert that they have not failed to do any work like that which is being required of them. Do you see the distinction being made here? I see it as sheep being rewarded for works they did naturally without thought of reward or hope of merit in God's sight, while goats are justly punished for depending on their own faulty obedience of good works, because when they forsook even the smallest work for the smallest person (see verse 45), God rightly holds them up against His standard of perfection and pronounces their guilt.

It's not a place I want to be in during the judgment. That is why I am afraid when I read commentary such as yours which seems to place all your hopes on your good works and not on the finished work of Christ in faith. That is not to say I endorse in any way the concept of easy believism (just believe and you're in), which James wrote against in his book, without contradicting Paul (Paul argued works cannot save; James argues that saving faith always produces works as evidence). This is perhaps the crux of the issue we might be disagreeing on.

Anonymous said...

Hi Byron,

"That is, they were not doing this to win God's favor or try to earn His blessing or mercy."

That is it! They did it in response to the moral imperative of conscience placed within them by God which told them to extend mercy towards the 'least of His'. They were serving them AND they were serving Him at the same time, they just didn't know it.

But we know, now. We know what He expects US to do in the world. We have this commission to take our faith in Him and to live it. It's okay to talk the talk, but we gotta walk the walk too. It's a long, sometimes sad and difficult walk, but at the end, waiting for us, is the Lord. HE WANTS THOSE PEOPLE TO BE HELPED AND HE TELLS US TO DO IT; AND THAT WHEN WE SERVE THEM, WE SERVE HIM. :)

'Good Works' no, it's more like "God's Work".
It's a commission to serve. With Him and in Him. We serve for the honor of Jesus Christ and in His Name. So that the 'least of His' will feel HIS loving care in our care for them. And, in serving them, we die to self and are reborn into His Kingdom anew. He wants the unselfish act. He wants everything we are to be given to Him. He gave everything He had for us. We really come out way ahead in the bargain, don't we. It sure isn't an even trade, not even close. Isn't that what YOU mean: there's no way WE can justify salvation from our own efforts. Nope.
But to walk away from His service, is to walk away from Him. To walk away from the 'least of His' is to walk away from Him. We have to keep our end of the bargain, out of respect for His Sacrifice. We can't order up Christianity light.
Not in THIS world.

Sorry about your toe. I made a clumsy comparison, I know. But that Calvinism thing is strange to me. I KNOW that God is outside of time and we are in it. I KNOW that He enters our lives in a thousand ways we do not even know about. He surrounds and supports and watches over all creation with great love. But He gave us one 'gift', if you can call it that: the gift to choose for ourselves how to live. So we messed up. Christ came and showed us how again.
And still we mess up. So He makes up the difference and we are, I think you call it, 'justified', or 'saved'. I see something much more than that: I see the Blood Sacrifice of the beloved Son of God so that we would understand the cost of how we hurt each other with our sins and the cost of how we hurt ourselves. Heavy price to pay to teach us a lesson. It got my attention. L's

Paula said...

Acts 2:22 "People of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you... 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" 38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39

1 John 2:23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

1 John 4:2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,

15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.

1 John 5:5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.


These scriptures show that after Jesus rose from the dead, even the Jews must accept Him as Messiah in order to be saved. To have the Son is to have the Father; to deny the Son is to deny the Father. It is no longer enough to worship and serve the one true God; without his Son, there is no salvation.

As for Mt. 25 and the "sheep and goats", I believe it specifically relates to the Tribulation. Those who have mistreated people who worshiped God are the goats, while those who had mercy on them are the sheep. There is no mention of salvation by faith here; it is outside the "church age". And it shows Jesus coming with the angels, in contrast to 1 Thes. 4:16-17. Likewise with the parable of the 10 virgins; the church is the Bride, not the bridesmaids.

Anonymous said...

HiPaula,

Words like 'tribulation' and 'church age' are not in my religion. I don't share your faith. I take the words and actions of Jesus Christ as the main portion of what guides my understanding of Christianity. We see
the twenty-fifth chapter os St. Matthew's Gospel differently. It is 'gospel' or good news for me that many who didn't know Him, but helped Him, will be brought into His Kingdom. You have heard the expression 'angels unaware'? The people in St. Matthew Chapter 25 were 'Christians Unaware' and He claimed them for His own. L's

Anonymous said...

To Paula,
Maybe your word 'tribulation' is the same as my phrase for the 'Day of the Lord'?

In the book of the prophet Isaiah, it is written in verses 7 through 9 the following:

"Is it not to 'deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thous bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily; and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy protection.

Then shalt thou call, and
the Lord shall answer:
thou shalt cry, and He shall say,
HERE I AM. "



Someone on the blog once said that they were taught that the entire Old Testament was about Jesus. I can see that, too. :) L's

Paula said...

Hi L's,

Seeing that you don't share my faith, I'm curious as to why you would refer to the Bible at all, let alone attempt to interpret it. But of course a non-Christian interpretation of any passage of scripture will differ from a Christian one in many cases. Yet if you accept the Gospels as history, then Acts is history as well, and it clearly teaches what God wants from us. It's fine for you to believe you know who the "sheep" of Mt. 25 are, but of course I disagree, using the totality of scripture and not just isolated passages.

The word "tribulation" is from Mt. 24:21, from a Greek word meaning "distress" or "trial" (thlipsis). The old English form comes from the KJV but has "stuck" as a handy term to refer to the time specified in that passage.

Yes, the whole Bible is about Jesus, but it is much more than that. It's about perfection ruined by sin, the long journey to the Law that pointed to the final reality, Jesus, and the adoption as children of God for those who accept Jesus Christ as Son of God who rose from the dead. And since you recognize Jesus in it, then why reject Him as Messiah, as the Savior of the world? The "goats" did good deeds and thought they were righteous, but their good deeds were worthless for one reason: they did belong to Jesus; they were not his children, and he "never knew" them in spite of their good deeds. (see Mt. 7:21-23) They did things in Jesus' name, yet he never knew them.

You see, it isn't good deeds that save people, it's the Good Deed done by Jesus. We can only be credited with good deeds if we belong to Jesus. Good deeds are fine, and more people should do them. But they can never gain you entrance into heaven. That's not something I made up; it's God's Word.

Anonymous said...

To Paula,

"We can only be credited with good deeds if we belong to Jesus."

"But they (good deeds)can never gain you entrance into heaven. That's not something I made up; it's God's Word."

"God's Word"

Please tell me: "God's Word" what does this mean to you? Is it 'the Bible'? L's

Anonymous said...

Paula,

You have confused me this way:

"their good deeds were worthless for one reason: they did belong to Jesus; they were not his children


"We can only be credited with good deeds if we belong to Jesus"

I do not understand your two statements as they appear to be contradicting each other. Can you clarify this for me? L's

Paula said...

L's,

Any utterance that comes from God is His Word, but the phrase typically refers to the written Word. The important thing is the Source, not the medium. Yet at the same time, that which is written is vital to keep us from following any voice that claims to be from God. Jesus testified to what we call the Old Testament as being from God, and the NT was written by his hand-picked apostles or their close associates. God would never contradict himself, so we can use the written Word to test everything. It is the measuring rod for all else.

Sorry for the confusion, the first statement has an obvious typo. It should read "they did not belong to Jesus; they were not his children." Typing too fast.

Anonymous said...

Hi Paula,

I'm glad you understood my confusion. Thanks for 'clarifying', a word that means 'to cast light on'. :)

Paula, what do you think of this?
It is a quote that refers to Christ as the "Logos" or "the Living Word":

"Those who follow the Spirit of Christ, the Logos who writes the law on their hearts,
are Christians, are members of Christ, are members of His Church.
They may lack indeed external adherence;
they may never have heard of the Church.
But yet, in the substantial sense, without formal adherence,
they do belong to Christ, to His Church."

In this quote, the "Church" means the 'Body of Christ'.

L's

P.S. About the Holy Writings. Sometimes I call the O.T. 'the first testament' and I call the N.T. the 'second testament'. In that way, I see the N.T. as the fulfillment of the promises of God in the 'first testament.' It is also a reminder to me that THE TRINITY, when approached in prayer, cannot be isolated into Persons: because of the unity, our prayer is to God in His entire Being.
Pray to the Father; and you also have prayed to the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Another thing. Sometimes, I will light a candle before praying, to remind myself, that later, when I am busy with my life, my prayer will continue to remain before God in eternity.

My faith asks me to approach Holy Scriptures with reverence, and to read the Scriptures only after prayer to the Holy Spirit for guidance.
I lean not on 'my own understanding', so we may certainly differ in how we interpret the Writings, I think. L's

Paula said...

L's,

Regarding the "Logos" quote, the NT is clear that one must believe that Jesus is the Son of God who physically died for sin and physically rose again (please see http://tinyurl.com/6pdejx for more detail and references). Some take this simple fact as a "license to sin", but only by completely misunderstanding the nature of salvation: a restored relationship with God. We don't go around offending any person we claim to love, so we should endeavor all the more to please God. What is written in the Bible tells us what pleases and displeases God, and the NT letters tell us how we are to live out that relationship. But first there must be a relationship, an adoption, and that cannot happen without accepting Jesus as the Son of God who died and rose again.

As for testaments, Jesus Himself said "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." (Luke 22:20) He also gave the illustration of not putting new wine in old wineskins (Luke 5:36-39). The letter to the Hebrews further states that "For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living." Throughout that letter we see that Jesus is also High Priest of a new order, which replaces the old (see Heb. 7:11-28 and following).

Regarding what you stated about the Trinity, of course I agree that God is a Trinity, but that means there must be three in one; they are all of one substance but each of the three is a distinct Person. It is obviously a difficult concept and many have erred in trying to confine this mystery to our finite understanding. But it is equally in error to claim that if you have one of the three you have them all, as the scriptures I quoted prove; to reject the Son (the so-called "second person of the trinity") is to reject the Father (the so-called "first person of the trinity"). Those scriptures negate the idea that anything but acceptance of Jesus as the Son of God who died and rose again can be called a faith that saves.

The question is, are you an adopted child or not? Have you accepted as a personal conviction that Jesus is God in the flesh, who died for sin, rose again, and will return for us? Nothing else matters until you are adopted, until you bear the Name (see http://tinyurl.com/56xj2d ). Faith is good, but saving faith must be in the right object: Jesus. He is all that matters!

Yes, even believers can differ in their interpretations of scripture. Someone illustrated it like this: God is a perfect transmitter, but we are imperfect receivers. This is why believers must function as a body instead of a chain of command or a business; each "part" gets a vital piece of the message, and we can only know the whole thing by sharing our perspectives. Yet, to repeat, that can only happen among "body parts"-- people who are part of the Body of Christ, by faith in his divinity and also his humanity, crucified and risen again.

Anonymous said...

Hi Paula,

You wrote: "But it is equally in error to claim that if you have one of the three, you have them all," I could never agree with this.

I can see that we disagree on the nature of the Holy Trinity. Jesus said, "I am in the Father; and the Father is in Me." The Holy Spirit is often referred to as 'the Lord and Giver of Life'. My strong belief is in the absolute cosubstantial unity of the Trinity.


"as the scriptures I quoted prove; to reject the Son (the so-called "second person of the trinity") is to reject the Father (the so-called "first person of the trinity"):

And, in accepting the Father, all are accepted.
If I may paraphrase, would you agree with this:

" ACCEPT THE FATHER AND YOU ACCEPT THE SON AND YOU ACCEPT THE HOLY SPIRIT" because the Trinity is unified.

In the great prayer of Judaism:
"Hear, O Israel, the Lord Our God, the Lord is One."

I will hold to five thousand years of tradition and not to a narrower interpretation. I disagree with your interpretation because I cannot see what you are seeing.

When someone came to Jesus and asked Him what he had to do to be saved, Jesus said, 'you must love the Lord Thy God with all your heart and mind and strength, and your neighbor as yourself. And Jesus asked him to walk humbly with his God.

Do we differ OR IS IT POSSIBLE THAT WE EMPHASIZE DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE SCRIPTURES and, so, we do not see things the same way? L's

Anonymous said...

"Jesus. He is all that matters!"

Except, He is part of the Trinity. Sometimes I feel that some religions focus primarily on Jesus, then the Father, and hardly at all on the Holy Spirit. That is sign to me that a religion has lost touch with the traditional concept of the Holy Trinity.

I would say it this way:
CHRIST BE IN MY MIND
CHRIST BE IN MY HEART
CHRIST BE ON MY LIPS


Another concern we share is that when one or more Scripture verses are quoted as 'proof' without taking into consideration the other scriptures that offer balance, I feel that this practice leads one into the 'I'm right' 'You're wrong' dichotomy. I think we all see a part of the Big Picture, and like you shared, if we communicate, we can begin to understand more. We will never understand ALL in this world, I think. We have been told this. L's

Paula said...

L's,

If I may paraphrase, would you agree with this:

" ACCEPT THE FATHER AND YOU ACCEPT THE SON AND YOU ACCEPT THE HOLY SPIRIT" because the Trinity is unified.


Scripture says only that if you have the Son you have the Father, and that if you do not have the Son you do not have the Father. It never says having the Father means having the Son, because then Peter's charge to the Jews that they had to repent to be saved would have been unnecessary. They had the Father, but after Jesus rose they had to have the Son or they would no longer have the Father.

God is a Trinity, but scripture is very clear that rejecting Jesus is rejecting the whole Godhead. This is no "narrow interpretation" but explicit scripture. How can anyone call what John and Peter said explicitly an interpretation? It's a bold statement of fact. Truth is inherently "narrow".

Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me." How much interpretation is required to understand what that means? Five thousand years or five minutes, the scriptures say what they say. It's Jesus or nothing. I hope and pray that you will be able to see this soon, for the time is short.

Remember that when you quote Jesus before the Cross, you're still quoting Old Testament times. The New did not begin until His blood was spilled and then the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost. Thus it is vitally important to remember where and when something is said. Jesus was the Reality to which the Shadow of the Law pointed, and when that Reality came, died, and rose again, the way of salvation had to be centered on Jesus. No Jesus means no Father and no Spirit. He is the Reconciliation.

And let me assure you that I consider every aspect of context I can in all these things. Look at the context of the scriptures I've quoted; consider the time of history, the situation, the people there, etc., and then try to see that the meanings I'm conveying are accurate in context. This is standard reading comprehension, following the normal rules of grammar and language. There are disagreements among believers on many things, but salvation isn't one of them.

Don't believe me, believe Jesus, who said "No one comes to the Father except through me."

Anonymous said...

Hi Paula,

I would like to share something that I wrote a month or so ago:

'God made us all different.'

Point is, we SEE a scripture from different perspectives, so each of us will find meaning in it that is personal. I think this is a part of God's plan.

Nice if we could share our points of view, and so learn what someone else is seeing with the eyes that God gave them.

Also, sometimes we can come to a consensus about a teaching, but history has shown that is a rare, if beautiful, occurence.

Also, we encounter a scripture at different times in our lives. The scripture that has a certain meaning when we are twenty may be much expanded in meaning for us by the time we are eighty.

The scriptures are so rich; so layered with wisdom. The Holy Spirit reveals
more and more of this wisdom each time we read. The scripture that has spoken to you on one day may have a different message after the passing of a beloved parent or a child.

If another has seen something in a scripture that you have not seen, perhaps God has a reason for that.

In short, God knows that with the scriptures "one size fits all" wouldn't work because He chose not to make us all clones of each other.

In His wisdom and for purposes we may not understand, He certainly formed us individually.

Enter the culture wars. Mix them with politics. Add a little bias as to what "the Bible says". What do you get? I really don't think the Holy Scriptures were meant to waved around by partisans.

If you see MY point of view, you will understand that I believe that the Scriptures are meant to be approached with reverence and with prayer for understanding."

L's

Paula said...

L's,

While I would agree that there are nuances and perspectives all believers can bring to the Body on "disputable matters", and that we can all have various insights to share, the fact remains that the words were not written in a vacuum or as mystical codes to be used as a kind of personal divining rod.

In other words, we still have to know, to the best of our ability, what the contexts of the writings are. We can't just make up anything we want, but have to "build carefully on the foundation which is Christ." A wrong foundation will result in a wrong building, no matter how elaborately or simply one may build. Jesus is the Cornerstone; without Him the building is erected on shifting sand.

As I've said, the very plain and simple statements Jesus and his apostles made leave no room for interpretation when it comes to how one is saved. "No one comes to the Father except through me" means exactly and only what it says; there is no other route, no other foundation.

"If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Rom. 10:9) "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

This is the clear, repeated, plain message of salvation in the NT. A reverent approach to these scriptures leaves us facing the stark reality of a narrow truth, a narrow way, and few find it. Be one of "the few".

Anonymous said...

Hi Paula,

"No one comes to the Father except through me"

Why would this exclude ANYONE? The Father and the Son are One.

Perhaps there is a special ceremony of, I think it's called, a 'Profession of Faith', that you feel must be done in order to 'be saved'. I suspect that may be it.

In my faith, we have many ceremonies and prayers, but not one of these replaces Jesus as the central figure of our faith. And He is worshipped in union with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

I do wonder what you believe will happen to all those who cannot go through this 'profession of faith'? For example, those who will never hear of the Christ? In your religion, are they damned?
They sure are not in mine. Not by us. We give to God alone to decide the fate of each of His children and we do not presume to know His mind. We are WARNED not to judge.

So, Paula, what about a person who never hears of Christ because they live in an isolated part of His world? What of this person?
Is God merciful? Has God given this person a way to know the difference between good and evil? Does Father-Son-Holy Spirit CARE enough to extend mercy in a way that we do not understand? What of this person? And all the others who don't go through that 'profession' ceremony? For all the reasons that are not under their control? (?) L's

Anonymous said...

Hi Paula,

You said, " Be one of "the few"."

I'm sorry. I care too much to feel like that: as one of the 'elect'. There is no humility in that and without humility, there can be no salvation for someone like me.

I am His servant. I will serve Him all my days. His judgment of me will be tempered by His Mercy. Jesus is God's mercy personified.

You have quoted many verses of scripture. But you allow for no mercy, no compassion. Do you not feel for all those others that you 'know' are going to hell? Where is your compassion? Do not create God in your own image: He is not without compassion for these people.

"Be one of "the few"?

No, Paula, I hope to be one of the Many. So many more than even I can imagine. He Himself said, 'in My Father's House are many mansions..'

So 'one of the few' doesn't work, does it? Not for me. L's

Paula said...

L's,

Perhaps there is a special ceremony of, I think it's called, a 'Profession of Faith', that you feel must be done in order to 'be saved'. I suspect that may be it.

Ceremony? No. Only honest faith in the risen Jesus. Very simple. The verse I quoted is obviously one you haven't seen before, or read any discussion about. I'm sure seeing that for the first time might give you that impression.

I'm puzzled as to how Jesus' statement that no one comes to the Father except through him doesn't make sense to you. Along with John's statement about whoever doesn't have the Son doesn't have the Father, the meaning is crystal clear. It's good that you understand Jesus' divinity, but have you entrusted him alone for your salvation? Do you believe he is God in the flesh who died for our sins and rose again? Is that much for God to ask of anyone?

Asking about details God has not given us (the fate of those who haven't heard) is a diversionary tactic to avoid facing what we do know. (Or as Mark Twain once said, "It isn't the parts of the Bible I don't understand that bother me, it's the parts I do understand!") We can speculate till the cows come home, but the fact is that you yourself have heard it. Let God handle that which he hasn't given us details about; what about you? You have heard the gospel; how do you respond?

Let me assure you I've read many arguments and theories about it. And I know that God is both merciful and yet also just and perfect. But again, you have heard the gospel. What will you do with it?

When I said "be one of the few", I was referring directly to what Jesus said about the few who would find the narrow way. Those are His words. Are you saying Jesus is elitist or lacked humility or mercy? And haven't I clearly stated that all come by the same simple faith, which isn't much for God to ask? I think it's truly a lack of humility to think God should demand more, that people should be forced to perform good deeds from a prescribed list.

You say you are His servant; but are you His child? Do you have His Name?

And who is it that is lacking in mercy? How does quoting scripture make me merciless? It is God's Word, not mine, that you seem to have issues with. Yes, Jesus is God's mercy personified, but the Bible says faith in Jesus is required for salvation. Does that mean God lacks mercy? Is it not you who tries to create a god of your own making?

To insinuate that I am merciless, that I have no compassion for people, is a personal attack. But I expected as much; when people can't argue with scripture, they start shooting the messenger. If I had no mercy, would I have spent this much time trying to present the gospel to you so you can be saved?

"But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Mt. 7:14)

"We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God." (2 Cor. 5:20)

All I'm asking you to do is to read the scriptures, and not just the ones you like. Your public maligning of my character will have been worth the price if it results in your being saved.

Anonymous said...

Paula,

"Your public maligning of my character will have been worth the price if it results in your being saved."

I'm sorry. I see what you mean when I reread my words. Very harsh, I'm afraid. I think I was speaking to anyone who can't see what I see, and I was wrong to do it by saying 'you' and personalizing it that way. I realize that you were trying to help me. I'm very sorry to have hurt you like that. Please forgive. Your character is one of integrity, I believe. L's

Paula said...

No problem, L's. I really do try to help, but my words also frequently come across as harsh or overly blunt, and I usually don't see it. And thanks for the kind words too!

I also believe you are very sincere and want to please God. But because I care, I am compelled to point out what I believe scripture says is necessary, because I wouldn't want to fear hurting someone more than I dread seeing them lost.

Byroniac said...

L's Gran:

Sorry, I have a lot of personal family business to attend to today, so I could not follow the conversation in a timely fashion. To be honest, Paula is doing a better job in this conversation than I am: she is saying what I wish I thought to say. And I think it's important to note that her key focus is not only the authority of Scripture itself but its meaning (there cannot be multiple valid interpretations of Scripture, which are called private interpretation in 2 Peter 1:20-21, "20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.") The Holy Spirit both authorizes the content of Scripture and superintends the understanding of it in the mind of the believer (not saying that everyone understands perfectly or agrees, mind you, but that there is a specific "meaning" to every Scripture).

Calvinism is strange, I'll admit. Don't worry about it, though. It's something you either love or hate, in my experience. I've never yet met anyone ambivalent towards it that had any knowledge of it. If every Christian in the world was a card-carrying five-point Calvinist, I would be pleased as punch. But it will never be that way, and I don't believe anyone should have it forced on them or not allowed to disagree (but I can't help but think anyone who rejects it does so in error, just as some believe Calvinism itself is in error).

Byroniac said...

Calvinism is a strange bird, often believed in by even stranger birds. ;)

Anonymous said...

Dear Paula,

Thank God you wrote back. I have been very upset over having hurt your feelings. I know you care.
I'm going to put in some extra hours at the food bank, for penance. That's what I did when I upset Louis. It works pretty well. The gentle people there help me to find my proper place again as a servant in the Kingdom.
So sorry. I'm not one to harm another knowingly, please believe that. L's

Anonymous said...

Hi Byron,

Well, thanks for the info on Calvinism. From your description, I can guess I'm not a 'Calvinist' so I guess I can't join the 'strange bird' club.

Don't worry, strange birds are ever so much more interesting than us everyday turkeys. My uncle Sam, of blessed memory, did wood work and everytime we visited my Aunt Yvonne and my Uncle Sam, we would be give ANOTHER BIRD HOUSE designed, hand crafted, and painted or stained by my uncle.

We still have about fifteen little wooden bird houses up on poles in our gardens . And there, the birds come to feed and take shelter. I always feel like we are doing God's Will as we put birdseed out for them. :) L's

Paula said...

Byroniac,

For the life of me, I can't stop thinking "brainiac" when I see your name! And thanks so much for your kind words.

True words also about Calvinism, it's very polarizing. But like that other controversy, Eternal Security, when the smoke clears we all wind up spreading the gospel to all (except the "hypers", who I call-- and don't anybody shoot me-- "honest Calvinists") and holding the scriptures in the highest regard. At the end of it we have to wonder why it seems so important to figure out all the "hows" instead of being content with the "whats". It's like trying to figure out why babies laugh when they see adults sneeze or make strange faces, and getting really angry at those who disagree with our theory.

(Of course, sometimes I slip and find amusement in asking a Calvinist questions like, "If God forced me to reject Calvinism, why are you so upset with me? Did God make you upset, and did He decide that in eternity past?")

L's,

Really, I was more annoyed than hurt. I've been in some ugly brawls elsewhere that made our little debate look like a polite afternoon tea party. Please don't feel bad.

Bob Cleveland said...

Chirp, chirp, chirp.

Byroniac said...

Paula, that's an excellent question. Please don't ask me that! I don't have a good answer, so I might as well as admit it up front. About all I can say is, the truth of your question shows both the greatness of God in that His will is both preordained and carried out in the smallest details, and the frailty of man in his arrogance, pride, and lack of love and compassion on others (his head knowledge does not make his heart any softer).

I could also ask in response, "if God is omniscient, why create people He knows will never accept Him and whom He must therefore allow to go to Hell, especially if His desire is truly the salvation of all men? Would it not be better to simply never create them in the first place?"

By the way, I am a stone's throw from being Hypercalvinist (because most of the time I fall into the supralapsarian camp of which hypercalvinism is a heretical subset). I do not regard hypercalvinism as "honest" calvinism, though it is logical. But in the end, and this is strictly my opinion please understand, the Arminian and the Hypercalvinist share the same error even with different conclusions because both believe that man's ability and responsibility to believe are co-extensive. The Arminian believes he is able and responsible, and the Hypercalvinist believes man is not able and not responsible. Both are more logical than what Scripture actually teaches (in my opinion) that man is not able, but he is still held responsible, simply because God has the right to make salvation impossible so He can show grace to His elect. Now, if that isn't a strange bird, I'm not sure what is.

Paula said...

byroniac,

I could also ask in response, "if God is omniscient, why create people He knows will never accept Him and whom He must therefore allow to go to Hell, especially if His desire is truly the salvation of all men? Would it not be better to simply never create them in the first place?"

And I'd come back with, "Calvinism has the same problem. Why create people just to send them to hell for 'his good pleasure'? He said he takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, that he desires all to be saved, that he loved the whole world, etc. How is this question a problem only for non-Calvinism?" And then of course I'd add that God made me say all that. ;-)

What I meant by "honest Calvinist" is that the hyper takes the teachings to their logical conclusion. Some object to this because they say you can't judge anything by its extremes, yet given the heavy reliance on logic typically accompanying Calvinist theory (sometimes, IMHO, elevated above even the scriptures), it surprises me that non-hypers don't see the lack of consistency in spreading the gospel to a largely non-elect public. When they say they preach to all because they don't know who is elect, I ask them why God Himself "witnessed" to Cain if He had predestined him in eternity past to murder his brother. Surely God knew He had already decided Cain's fate.

Briefly, I believe the pivotal error of Calvinism is the hyper-elevation of God's sovereignty over all other aspects of His character, including justice, love, and mercy. It is not an attack on sovereignty to believe God gave us free will, or that He holds us responsible only because of that free will. Sovereignty without compassion (sending people to hell who had no choice in the matter) is an evil attribute, not one of God, who sent Jesus "while we were still sinners". Man's logic may tell him that free will is impossible, but there are too many scripture passages that tell me otherwise. Calvinism's response to those scriptures is to re-interpret them and make them fit logic, but of course I disagree with that approach. I also disagree with the idea that freely exercising one's will to accept the Gospel is a "work", or saving ourselves by our own power.

Anyway, unless one is a hyper-C., we all wind up spreading the gospel to all and use the scriptures as our authority. The important thing is not that we can't hope to resolve this perennial debate, but how we conduct ourselves in it. God is more concerned with character than cleverness (Col. 2:8), love than logic (1 Cor. 13), and instruction than incineration (2 Tim. 2:24).

I may be slow to respond over the weekend, as I'll be busy. And apparently God decreed in eternity past that I would come down with an upper respiratory infection at this time. ;-) Hopefully back up to par next week.

Anonymous said...

Read Wade's new entry.
Where would you place Gandhi
and Mother Teresa in Eternity?

Heaven? or where?
and WHY?

Paula said...

I wouldn't place them anywhere. ;-)

God would place them wherever they chose to go, and He told us how that choice is made.

Was Jesus the Way, the Truth, the Life, the narrow road, the only name that could save them? Or did they have "Jesus Lite" or "Jesus Plus"?

Neither of them are here to answer those questions, but inferences can be made from their writings or recorded sayings.

Interesting, in that other thread... some people still think Paul was at odds with Jesus. They just don't get it. There is no less love in the writings of Paul than the recorded words of Jesus; there is no less anger in Jesus than in Paul.

Anonymous said...

You mention Paul in direct COMPARISON with Jesus? That is amazing.
That says a lot about your faith.
There is a whole religion that does not focus on Jesus; but instead gives preference to Paul. It has something to do with 'the Last Days'. Do you say the Lord's Prayer? Or not?
If not, why not?

Byroniac said...

Jesus Christ is of course God come in the flesh, but nothing Paul said in Scripture is any less important than His words. The reason is because all Scripture is given by God through the Holy Spirit. People who give greater honor to the words of Christ than the words of Paul are guilty of setting Scripture over and above other Scripture. All Scripture is given by God, in truth (even the errors and false statements of people are still truthfully and accurately recorded in Scripture).

I'm not sure that I agree though with "There is no less love in the writings of Paul than the recorded words of Jesus; there is no less anger in Jesus than in Paul." In my personal opinion, there is both more anger and more love in the words of Jesus (because He is God and spoke more in these regards) than Paul. But when Paula makes a direct comparison between the WORDS of Jesus and Paul, as she did here, yes it does show a lot about her faith. It shows she believes in the Holy Spirit.

Paula:

About Calvinism---I will try to return to address this topics. We are at opposite ends on this issue, and I see it differently (no surprise). And you certainly deserve the dignity of a reply. I will work on this and respond, probably tomorrow. Thanks!

Paula said...

Anon: Were you not anonymous I'd answer you. Why are you hiding?

Byroniac,

Thanks for your response. Yes, I believe all the words recorded in scripture (original writings of course) are there by choice of the Holy Spirit, all from the same Source. Also, since Paul was trained directly by Jesus and not the other apostles (1 Cor. 11:23, Gal. 1:1, 11-12), I think he speaks with authority for Jesus.

And I'm hoping you can surprise me with something I haven't heard yet about Calvinist theology! :-)

Anonymous said...

Byroniac: " nothing Paul said in Scripture is any less important than His words."

Paula: "Paul was trained directly by Jesus"

Anonymous said...

I must believe that you belong to that religion that has set Jesus to the side in favor of Paul. These people no longer pray the Lord's Prayer. This is not the Southern Baptist faith. This is something else.

Paula said...

And who are you, anon? You seem to carry an air of judgmentalism and are quick to label people on the basis of a few sentences. You didn't learn that from either Jesus or Paul.

Until you identify yourself, it will be impossible to carry on any meaningful conversation because there could be a gazillion anons.

Anonymous said...

Extremism is extremism, regardless of which flavor of religion is being touted. Fundmentalists blowing up abortion clinics are the exact same as fundmentalists flying planes into buildings.

Religious philosophy applied inwardly as a guide to life is a wonderful thing, worthy of respect.

Religious philosophy applied outwardly as how everyone else should behave and believe is just simply wrong.

Janet Lee

Anonymous said...

" are quick to label people on the basis of a few sentences."

Don't you own your own words? Or maybe they were ill-chosen?
Say what you mean. There ARE a zillion anons reading this.

Do you say the 'Lord's Prayer'?
No response will mean no.

Anonymous said...

"the errors and false statements of people are still truthfully and accurately recorded in Scripture)."

Errors and false statements: do you think Jesus made false statements?

Anonymous said...

"just what this nation needs an even more mysogynistic gang of religious fanatics.

Speaking of mysogynistic religious puds, any-one remember the book, The Handmaiden's Tale? By Atwater? "

Kitten

"Oh, yeah, Handmaiden. Remember when the Christiano-facists took over and they fired every working woman in the country, turned all her assets over to a husband, father or brother?



What were they going to do about hospitals? How were they going to keep them running without nurses, of which still well over 90% are women? Because if they think I'm going in to work shifts for free, cause they said God said so, they'll just have to shoot me."

Heather

Paula said...

Janet Lee,

Ah, you do have a name.

Lots of broad-brush accusations, lumping everyone you have decided to hate into one big box. I'm sure it's convenient that way, because then you don't have to think. And speaking of "Religious philosophy applied outwardly as how everyone else should behave and believe", you're doing that right now, telling us all how we should think and believe and behave. Such hypocrisy! And what a playground bully, basically saying "If you don't stay here in the mud pit with me, you lose!"

Sorry to burst your egotistical bubble, but I don't take orders from bigots. Find some other place to amuse yourself and let the adults talk.

Byroniac said...

Anonymous, I am not sure what you are asking with your unfriendly question. Christ Himself repeated false statements (recorded in Scripture, such as Matthew 23:16, 18) but did so to rebuke them. That the Bible contains false statements there can be no doubt; but all of it is recorded accurately and truthfully in my belief, with the ultimate purpose to show the truth of God. Now, if you ask any more questions of that caliber, do not expect a response.

Anonymous said...

Janet Lee said
"Religious philosophy applied outwardly as how everyone else should behave and believe is just simply wrong."
The person Paula: would you want this written this way.
"I" can tell everyone else how they should behave and what they should beieve in."

That makes you an Authority, doesn't it? Like those B.I. people who don't need the Holy Spirit or Jesus anymore?
What IS your name?
What is YOUR name?
What is your NAME?
Spiritual bullies will have MORE to answer for than the playground variety.

Paula said...

A spiritual bully came here to vent their spleen on Christians, especially because we quote the Bible, our sacred book and only earthly authority. A spiritual bully thinks that's okay, and apparently believes we should not be free to talk among ourselves about our beliefs. A spiritual bully can't tell the difference between quoting the Bible with confidence and making up our own rules, like spiritual bullies do. A spiritual bully comes to Christian venues to lecture us on our own religious beliefs.

Got that?

Didn't think so.

Anonymous said...

Let's play TRUE and FALSE:
You are going to heaven.
You decided this.
You can tell others that they are going to hell.
You can tell who is going and who is not going.
You ARE the AUTHORITY on this.
If you say they are not going, then that's it. They aren't going.

Try explaining all this to God.

Will you tell Him that His Chosen People don't qualify? Anyone who doesn't meet YOUR EXPECTATIONs doesn't qualify?
Tell God He is a legalist, and see what happens next.
Better start walking humbly before its too late. Or maybe it is too late already. (?)

Anonymous said...

Don't beat other people over the head with your bible, and then call yourself a Christian. It doesn't work that way.

Are you offended? What about the offense you cause to other Christians? Or shall we call it 'spiritual abuse'.

Take some responsiblity for your tone and your manner. Try that humility thing. If its not too late. Might be.

Anonymous said...

Even Satan uses the Bible against others. Even Satan.
Thank God the Holy Spirit can protect us from the poison of the evil ones.

Paula said...

Ooo, can't you just feel the love coming from this troll? We should all be so loving and kind and peaceful! :-P

Anonymous said...

Paula,

Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion; it is like a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.
God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, "I love you."
God's angels often protect his servants from potential enemies.
It is the heart's attitude that counts when we pray.
Man has two great spiritual needs. One is for forgiveness. The other is for goodness.
MY home is in Heaven. I'm just traveling through this world.
The most eloquent prayer is the prayer through hands that heal and bless. The highest form of worship is the worship of unselfish Christian service. The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless. (not condemning them.)
When character is lost, all is lost.

B.

SEEK YE THE LORD WHILE HE MAY BE FOUND.
JUDGE NOT LEAST YE BE JUDGED.

Byroniac said...

Hi, Paula:

First off, I will probably not tell you anything new that you have not heard about Calvinism. The way I say it might possibly be new, because these are my words of expression as an individual. But I am curious as to what your thinking is on this topic, even though I realize we will probably never come to agreement on much concerning it, and that is OK.

Actually creating people for hell is not a problem in Calvinism, as it is specifically addressed and answered in Romans 9:19-24. In the end, the Potter has the right do as He pleases, but Paul goes on and explains concerning vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, and us as believers and vessels of mercy he shows the riches of his glory. I do not have it in front of me just this second, but I think it is Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology which shows that both the Arminian (used very generically) and the Calvinist systems have unanswerable questions. One of the unanswerable questions for Calvinism is the existence of evil when God is both perfectly good and perfectly (and uniquely) Sovereign. Evil exists because somehow God wanted it to, but how is a mystery that I cannot answer.

I don't know any Calvinists who assert that God creates people to put in hell "for His good pleasure." Also, if you are referring to 1 Tim 2:4, that He desires all to be saved, others have argued (convincingly I think) that God desires all men without distinction (nations, class, status) and not all men without exception (see http://www.the-highway.com/1Tim2.4.html for example). I do not know what you are referring to when you say, "loved the whole world" as I do not find that in Scripture. John 3:16 is often used to state how much God loves the world (even the whole world), but the text is talking about in what way God showed His love, and not how much. The HCSB translates it as, "For God loved the world in this way...". As I understand it, the "so loved" of the KJV speaks of the method of God's love rather than the modern sense of degree.

Quickly, on the "honest" part again. I admitted as much, because the Hyper-Calvinist position and the Arminian position are indeed more logical than the 5-point Calvinist position, for the reasons I stated. It does not bother me to be less logical (in earthly terms) than possible if I am holding the truth of Scripture as the highest authority. If the Bible seems to teach a paradox here between responsibility and ability, I believe I must embrace it in the faith that there are no true contradictions in Scripture, though my understanding is limited and there are many supposed contradictions I cannot answer.

More on the next comment...

Paula said...

B.,

Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion; it is like a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.

Absolutely. Salvation is instantaneous, but discipleship is what should follow. I've written about that many times.

God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, "I love you."

Yep. God made reconciliation possible and only asks us to accept his offer to be saved. Those who accept are adopted as children and guaranteed an inheritance. Those who do not are given exactly what they asked for: eternity separated from God. It's so sad that many choose the latter.

God's angels often protect his servants from potential enemies.

True. Sometimes we are called to suffer, and sometimes God intervenes.

It is the heart's attitude that counts when we pray.

Of course. It's all about the relationship.

Man has two great spiritual needs. One is for forgiveness. The other is for goodness.

Yes. God forgives us when we turn from rejecting Jesus to accepting Him, and any time we sin after that we only need to repent. The goodness only comes from our being found in Jesus, who lived the perfect life we never could. If we seek His face, we will slowly become like Him.


MY home is in Heaven. I'm just traveling through this world.

Mine too! I pray always for Jesus' return so we can go home.

The most eloquent prayer is the prayer through hands that heal and bless. The highest form of worship is the worship of unselfish Christian service. The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless. (not condemning them.)

All true. And even when unbelievers come here to bash and judge, we can still pray for their salvation. It is the job of only God to acquit or condemn, and our job to tell people that aquittal is so easy to obtain, a gift for the asking. If we love them, we will tell them not only about God's love, but also about his justice, so they don't get a false sense of security.

When character is lost, all is lost.

Character is what God wants to build in his children. Once we are saved we have the guarantee, the "down payment", of the Holy Spirit within us-- even if we never take another step.

JUDGE NOT LEAST YE BE JUDGED.

Even when it's not being SHOUTED, this is frequently ripped from its context as a universal ban on discernment. Remember to "test the spirits" (1 John 4:1) and other "you must judge" verses such as 1 Cor. 6:2. And of course 1 Cor. 4:3. ;-)

Funny, isn't it? People who scream the loudest about judgment seem to indulge in it more than the objects of their condemnation.

Byroniac said...

And you assert that the pivotal error of Calvinism is the hyper-elevation of God's sovereignty. That's understandable, because that assertion depends on your view being correct. Obviously, I do not believe that God's sovereignty can be hyper-elevated; we can only acknowledge the absolute sovereignty of God, that God is alone God, or (in some sense) we will be in rebellion against it. God's mercy is not absolute, otherwise Universalism would be true and there would be no hell. God's love is not absolute; His Word declares he actually hates some people (Deut 32:19; Psa 5:5; Psa 11:5; Rom 9:12) and I do not believe He is being figurative; certainly there is no language here about loving the sinner but hating his sin. Good references are "Mourn, God May Hate You" at http://www.geocities.com/pvrosman/Mourn_God_May_Hate_You.html and http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=2753

Concerning free will, my experience has been the opposite. Yes, some Scriptural passages speak about decisions, but actually it seems to me to be man's logic that constantly asserts free-will. I have yet to run into any person who using logic doubts the existence of their free will. On the other hand, I read Scriptures like Pro 21:1 "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will." and Romans 9 and others, and this leads me to believe that God's sovereignty is above any "free" will we might think to possess. Ultimately, because our sovereignty is less than God's, His will is freer than ours, and I believe one could argue that God is the only one who genuinely possesses free will.

Anonymous said...

FUNDAMENTALIST:

You are a gate-keeper.
You try to shove others off of
the 'narrow, narrow' path.
You paint God in dark colors.
What has remained of you after an entity 'saved' you is mean-spirited and judgmental.
You are a gate-keeper.

WHO 'saved' you, and for WHAT purposes?

Dear Lord, save us from 'the saved'
is my earnest prayer.

Anonymous said...

God forgive me for having communicated with such evil.

Anonymous said...

There is that nature/nurture ccntroversy and those studies about twins who are separated at birth and raised by different families: does free will exist at all or are we the products of our own genetic memories?

There may BE little, or no 'free will'.

We do what we don't want to do; and we don't do what we want to be doing.

So, the Calvinist theory of God has chosen only the elect, may be right afterall. But, if I have to believe this, then logically, I must also believe that there is NO God.

Is this what Calvinists truly believe? A giant puppet-maker playing with His human toys. Burning those He doesn't want to play with anymore? No. I don't believe in this giant puppet-maker. No. Doesn't make any sense.

Gepetto

Anonymous said...

What gets a human being into heaven?

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

What about those who never understand, or cannot understand?
Do you throw them into the fire,too?

Why were THEY created as they were?
For the amusement of an evil god as he watches them burn.
Can't believe in that god.
He and his followers give me the creeps.

Paula said...

Byroniac,

Thanks for what promises to be a non-volatile conversation. These are quite rare on the topic of Calvinism, as I'm sure you know. And I'm guessing you probably have a good idea of the arguments I'll respond with. But hey, you never know who's reading. :-)

Romans 9:19-24 comes as part of Paul's discussion of his own people, the Jews. He introduces the passage with an expression of grief over the fact that many of his own race, who were given so many blessings from God, rejected their Messiah. Then he talks about the difference between physical Israel and spiritual Israel, the "children of promise". Verse 11 is where we see "election", but in the context of nations. It says nothing about individual salvation but only God's sovereign right to choose people for various purposes. It's purpose, as Paul states clearly, is so that all glory goes to God and not people.

Now in light of this the Jews evidently were accusing God of being unfair, that the Gentiles should share in the promise. But Paul reminds them, with an illustration from their own history, that God has the right to bend a heart farther in the direction it's already going, that is, to either "harden" or "soften" it.

[In 1 Sam. 6:6 the Israelites are asked why they hardened their own hearts; Psalm 95:8 is a command for people not to do this. Isaiah 63:17 says the opposite: that God had made them do this. Yet again, it's "harden", not make the initial decision for them. Hebrews 3:8, 3:15, and 4:7 repeat the plea for people not to harden their hearts.]

So then we come to verse 19, where Paul anticipates an objection to God's right to harden a heart already set against Him, and Paul then reminds them who is God and who is not. That Paul still has the Jew/Gentile contrast in mind is strengthened in verse 25 in quoting Hosea. Through the end of the chapter Paul continues to speak of Jews and Gentiles.

When I look at this whole chapter I see nothing about whether an individual is granted by God the right to choose whether or not to accept Jesus as Savior.

You said, "Evil exists because somehow God wanted it to, but how is a mystery that I cannot answer." I do not believe God ever wanted evil to exist; ref. Jeremiah 7:31, 19:5, and 32:35. But God certainly knew. Basically, I see love as the key to this particular mystery. Love is only possible from a free will; it cannot be enforced or programmed. God has told us not only of His love for us, but also His desire that we return that love. Yet if choice is possible, then it must allow the possibility of rejection. God never forces anyone to either love him, and neither does He keep them from choosing not to return that love.

You mention 1 Tim 2:4 and argue that "God desires all men without distinction.. and not all men without exception". Where in that context is the escape clause or fine print? The very next sentence states that Jesus "gave himself as a ransom for all people." John 3:16 says "God so loved the world" and "whosoever". Again, I don't see any escape clauses or exceptions to "all". Why is it that individuals can be seen in Romans 9, but not here? (Short diversion: I object to the bias of the article in classifying five-point Calvinism as the "historic" view. If this post weren't getting so long already, I'd pick at a few more things there too.)

Speaking of John 3:16, again I don't see how the meaning can be missed: God loved the world. The Greek word is kosmos, not ethnos or nations. Here is the literal rendering of the verse:

thus for loves the God the world so-that the Son the only-generated He-gives that EVERY THE ONES BELIEVING into Him no should-be-perishing but may-be-having life eternal. Of course this is how God showed His love, but it clearly states as well that He showed it to the whole world. The fact remains that God loved the world. His degree of love is endless and limitless; no one would dispute that. But we cannot simply cut "the world" out of the verse.

Granted there are many paradoxes in scripture, but there are also many passages that are about people being exhorted to choose wisely, and that God offers such a choice about individual salvation:

2 Cor. 5:18-20 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.

I wholeheartedly agree that our frail human logic should never override plain statements in scripture. But I would never abandon logic completely, since God is indeed a God of order and reason (e.g. Isaiah 1:18) When something is vague we should not be assertive, but when an interpretation clearly flies in the face of many plain statements, I think it would be erroneous to plead "it's a mystery". Such a defense should only be used when all pertinent scriptures are considered, and the plain ones, as any theology professor would say, should be used to interpret the less clear.

Paula said...

Hi byroniac,

Regarding whether God loves everyone, I think John 3:16 and 2 Cor. 5:18-20, as well as many others, plainly state that he does. None of the contexts indicate any exceptions to this fact. And if we had any experts in Hebrew here, they would tell us that Hebrew is not like Greek in precision or use of hyperbole and other poetic expressions. I've been through all the scriptures many times, and have yet to see where God clearly decides on anyone's eternal destiny without their having been given a choice at some point.

The way I look at the free will issue is this: God is not capricious, that he would command us to choose while at the same time having forced His choice on us. Since we are told to choose, we must have the freedom to do so. And again, a "love" from a robot is no love at all; it can only be true if it is freely given. That's just how I see it.

Anonymous said...

plain statements: judge not lest ye be judged. How plain is that.

Paula said...

Plain statement: If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.

Still want to be woodenly literal and disregard context?

You're a cowardly troll, anon. Come back when you understand that you are the most judgmental poster here.

Paula said...

byroniac, I have to ask, and I don't mean any sarcasm in this:

If you believe there is no free will, then God forces me to not accept Calvinist theology. What's the point in talking about it, or about anything? Does God force you to try to convince people, even though they have no will of their own? Just wondering.

Anonymous said...

You can speak TO God.
You can speak OF God.
You can speak ABOUT God.

But you cannot speak FOR God.
Then you BECOME a 'god' of your own creation.

T.

Anonymous said...

Pastors must remember: sheep are not to be beaten.

Anonymous said...

A man who is his own lawyer
has a fool for a lawyer.

A man who is his own god
has a fool for a god.

Anonymous said...

Fundamentalists fight their own sin with compassion and everyone else's with a baseball bat.

There was this poor fundamentalist woman who drowned her five children because she wanted to
'save them'. So sad.

Fundamentalism is a poison on this earth.

Byroniac said...

Paula:

Yes, I believed this too concerning Romans for a long time. But then I noticed, Paul makes a distinction first within the children of Abraham, between Isaac and first-born Ishmael, and then again between Jacob and Esau. Of course the end result of this was the production of nations, but in Scripture God deals with the person of the individual. All of these nations came from individuals, yet it is (or would seem) possible within the human scheme of things that Isaac and Ishmael could have stayed together as a family, and Jacob and Esau could have as well, and "Israel" would look completely different than today).

And perhaps that is the case indeed, that God forces you not to accept Calvinism. It might be God's purpose that we disagree, discuss this, and feel frustration that we cannot convince the other of our point of view. Or perhaps (not likely) one of us will convince the other. Or perhaps neither of us will accomplish anything, but not feel any frustration, either. Who knows? God does, of course. But if He has not revealed His purpose for something, that does not preclude a purpose for it existing.

Your question reminds me of the question, why pray if God already knows and already has predestined the outcome? There is mystery here too, but I believe that prayer starts and ends with God, and we are simply vessels in the middle. When we pray rightly, we do so being stirred by the Holy Spirit to pray what God wants us to pray (which probably is in some accord with His secret will in some way), and He answers these prayers, glorifying Himself. So someone might ask, why do anything? My answer is, why not?

I think the total sovereignty of God is not a recipe for despair, but a prescription of the most solid hope a believer can ever have. But I too struggled with these questions at first. Then I realized, I do not and cannot know the secret will of God, or what He has ordained. What He has predestined is eternal, even if secret, so I simply live before Him and have responsibility according to Scripture to be obedient to His will. If I am not, yes, He predestined that, but I am still guilty because I freely (in the sense of free moral agency) did what I desired to do. God cannot be charged with sin, and that is the paradox (for me), but God is no less sovereign. And if you believe in the omniscience and omnipotence of God, then I do not see how your view can completely escape this problem either, without becoming Open Theist. God still creates multitudes of people He knows will never accept Him, though He desires their salvation and well-being. God could have created variations of us which would not sin in the ways we do by not being as weak in the flesh. But God is not at fault in any of this.

Byroniac said...

I just wanted to add that I have a personal (perhaps Supralapsarian in a sense?) belief concerning 1 Ti 5:21 that the "elect angels" mentioned here are actually that in a divine, preordained sense as well as in a "chosen by virtue of being favored" sense. I do not believe angels ever possessed free will, but I cannot prove it.

Paula said...

byroniac,

First, I will be away from my computer for a few hours this evening, just to let you know in case you wonder where I went.

God does make many sovereign choices, as you mentioned. He frequently takes the young over the old, the last over the first, and his reason overall, IMHO, is to make it obvious that God gets the glory, not us. And I didn't mean to convey the idea that if God deals with nations that he must not deal with individuals; sorry for any confusion. Of course he can do both. But again, choosing a person's eternal fate is something that has to be read into the text, in many places. I prefer the "Occam's Razor" approach: take the simplest possible meaning. Without fine print or footnotes, just reading along, I see free will, personal responsibility, and the necessity of those in order to have the capacity to truly love.

While I'd certainly agree that God is not required to explain everything to us, I also see in scripture what kind of God he is: reasonable, loving, holy, etc. To create us as mere puppets to act out a script makes all of the Bible, and all of history, to be utterly pointless. God has given us enough information to know that he has, at the very least, a much higher sense of justice than we, and if we see the inherent injustice of judging people who have no free will, then certainly God can do no less.

Why pray? Because prayer is fellowship with God. Paul told us its purpose in Phil. 4:6-7-- "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." It gives us peace, it brings us close to God, and yes, it possible for God to change his mind; remember Nineveh? Were we devoid of free will, and all of life were scripted, this would not be possible.

As for omniscience, how much divine omniscience does it take to predict the outcome of a game you rigged? If God must cause everything directly due to our lack of free will, then we are omniscient too since we can always predict that which we cause.

Lastly, and because I must hurry, you said, "I am still guilty because I freely (in the sense of free moral agency) did what I desired to do." I'm sorry, but that is not a paradox, it's nonsense. If God forces a desire within me, it isn't my will at all but God simply operating me like a puppet. I may not realize I'm a puppet, but I surely would realize I was sent to hell for the part I was forced to play. This makes God a cruel puppeteer. God would certainly have to be charged with sin if He causes everything; there is no escaping this fact. And since clearly God cannot be charged with sin, then it must follow that we have a free will.

God created billions of people, but every one of them has the same way to be saved.

Sorry, gotta run.

Anonymous said...

'To create us as mere puppets to act out a script makes all of the Bible, and all of history, to be utterly pointless.'

' God created billions of people, but every one of them has the same way to be saved.'

And what is that way?
Don't tell me thay have to believe something, because, that means babies and mentally handicapped people will be damned.

You need to ALLOW GOD TO BE GOD and back off your restrictions on Him. You may presume only one thing: your own particular beliefs. Whether or not these 'save' you remains to be seen.

Suppose God's way is NOT your way?
We are told His ways are beyond our understanding. Are you going to throw a hissy fit at the tribulation and try to throw people into the pit yourself?
Remember: God is in control; not you. And when you try to judge His children; you try to judge Him. I caution against that for your sake.
T.

Byroniac said...

Paula:

Briefly then, I will note this. The objections you raise to Calvinism are the same objections raised and answered by the Apostle Paul in Romans 9, especially 9:19 which is the same basic argument as you just gave. If our theology raises the same objections as the Apostle Paul's in Romans 9, we have a good indication that our theology is not in agreement with his, and I mean to say that as gently as I can to a fellow believer. I do not know what you will think of this, but there is an excellent exegesis by James White of Romans 9 at http://mp3.aomin.org/JRW/Romans9.mp3 where he explains the answer to this objection from Scripture, as well as the other topics in Romans 9. And incidentally, the reason why so many of us give out links to other material is because the material presented often discusses our viewpoint better than we can ourselves, and even if not, rephrasing in our own words arguments which have been edited and refined elsewhere can be seen as simply taking up space.

There are other Scriptures we could discuss, such as the first part of John 3, speaking of the new births and using deliberate metaphors of birth which convey sovereignty on the divine side alone, paralleling natural human birth where childbirth is not under the control of the one being born. Also, passages such as John 1:13 which explains why people receive Christ, because they have been born by the action of God (birth comes before reception, because again the idea of birth is referenced and I believe this verse speaks of both the natural and spiritual births as linked together in the sense that both come about due to God's will). There is Ephesians 2, of course. There are many Scriptures, but in the end, I cannot force you to see my viewpoint. I know where you are coming from in a sense, though, because I too believed in those same things. For better or worse, correct or incorrect, I have (God has?) changed my mind.

Anonymous said...

Christians and even non-Christians, if in life they respond positively to the grace and truth that God reveals to them through the mercy of Christ may be saved.

Paula said...

byroniac,

I must not have explained my interpretation adequately, but I see far more problems with the Calvinist view which depends upon redefining terms, and doing so inconsistently. "All" really means "some" and "some" means "all", depending solely on which meaning suits the preconceived objective. I too could post many links to articles which I think soundly refute each Calvinist point.

Let me tell you that until about five years ago I had never heard of Calvinism. I had no bias against it. I met a very nice Calvinist online, and of course he was eager to provide me with many links and book titles, most of which I studied diligently for about six months. But it is wise to withhold judgment on any theory until the other side has had a chance to cross-examine, so I spent several more months researching that. At the end of it all, I could only conclude that Calvinist theology was repulsive because of its maligning of the character of God into a sadistic puppeteer. It made everything we experience in life a charade, a mere acting out of a play, and a very cruel deception. And it distorted many passages of scripture such as John 3:16 into the opposite of the actual words. That is my honest appraisal after much study and further debate.

But again, debating free will is surely a colossal waste of time if one believes God has scripted it all in advance. Calling such things paradoxes is an admission that it makes no sense and negates many passages of scripture that show God's sovereign choice to give us choices. To me, Calvinist theory is like an engine with many bypasses and added components; its sheer complexity is a red flag to me. God is not deceptive or content with operating puppets. He would be no more accepting of "love" from a robot than we would.

Well, another impasse. You've provided links to articles people can read to learn more about Calvinism if they want, and there are many at my blog that give the opposite view for those who are interested. But the important thing is to agree that salvation is by faith in the risen Jesus, and to spread this simple truth to all. We both honor God's Word, we both depend on the Spirit's enablement; we wind up at the same place through very different routes. It's probably best to just leave it there and focus on the gospel. Thanks for the conversation!

Byroniac said...

Paula:

Thank you for the excellent conversation!

I do want to point out that I do not share your view that Calvinism is a system of sheer complexity. Calvinism simply states that salvation begins and ends with God (though this scope can be widened to include everything that exists in Creation). On the contrary, to me it is the simplicity of Calvinism which most easily illustrates its beauty. So I have to say, my thinking does not follow your path on that.

Having said that, I think I can agree with your last paragraph. We'll all understand it better by and by. The most important one is Christ Himself.