Matters of Faith

Feel free to debate any issues you wish here. Warning: The topics discussed and their content may on occassion offend some.

Postby Page » Mon Jun 26, 2006 5:52 pm

parnassus wrote:
God is not just about love. God IS love. And so it follows that people of other religious traditions who are genuinely seeking God and doing their level best to love and be loved by Him cannot live outside Him. All love belongs to God.


Unless they are in Christ, they are wasting their time, unfortunately. Jesus is the only way to God. You have to remember that before Jesus paid the price for sin, God was within His rights to destroy us-- if fact, outside of Christ, God could not truly love us (a fallen and sinful race) without violating His own holy nature. Before God could reveal His love, justice had to be executed. God merely exercised patience by postponing the judgement so that arrangements could be made for it to fall on Himself instead. This is why that outside of Christ, there is no salvation-- because without Christ, you are still separated from God.

Even in religions that had dealings with God (like Judiasm) there was always a barrier between man and God. (the veil in the temple, for example) Approaching God freely at this time was a death wish--The high priest had to have ropes attatched to him during his one allowed yearly visit so he could be pulled out of the Holy of Holies in case he made a mistake in there and died. Even though the people at times followed God, there was never the same degree of love shown as was (and is) shown to Christians. During this time, sin was not truly forgiven-- the sacrifice of animals did not truly atone for it. It instead delayed God's Justice.
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Postby parnassus » Mon Jun 26, 2006 6:54 pm

Well, to interpret the scriptures using tradition you would have to automatically assume that the tradition is correct in its teaching, which may not always be the case. The problem with traditions is that they are human-made and thus subject to error, whereas scripture is divinely inspired and is thus immune from error. (well, except for the apocrapha, which protestants generally ignore anyway)


The Apocryphal books were always part of the original Bible. Martin Luther rather arbitrarily decided to remove them during the Reformation. That was a human innovation if ever I heard of one - and a pointless innovation at that, as the Apocrypha says nothing that isn't already said in other parts of Scripture. It's not exactly controversial.

Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would always dwell within the Church, so this is a good indication that the traditions passed down to us by the first Christians are accurate. To verify their authenticity, we simply have to ask whether they promote Christlike actions and help us in our walk with Jesus. Do they foster a compassionate, loving, hopeful environment? If the answer is yes, then there is a good chance that they are of God. It should also be noted that none of the ancient tradtions - the traditions still practiced by the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and high Anglican churches - clash with Scripture. They enhance it.

Also, many of the different versions that we have of the Bible have been painstakingly translated from the original Hebrew and Greek, with special emphasis being placed on accuracy. Since this helps to ensure that the doctrinal integrity of scripture is intact, you don't have to fall back on human tradition to understand it.


The ancient Jews were reading the scriptures in their original language, and yet they still built up a vast and rich tradition to help them understand it - the 'spoken Torah', that was later written down to form two formidably large commentaries on the sacred written Torah that are known as the Mishnah and the Gemara. Knowing the original language in which something was written does not necessarily make it any easier to understand. You also have to understand the context and think about things such as symbolism and allegory.

Cross-referencing is a good way to understand scripture, as it helps to determine the context in which a verse is to be interpreted (globally, or to a specific situation). What do oyu have against cross-referencing?


I have nothing against cross-referencing. I just don't think it is enough on its own. The Bible was not born in a vacuum. We need to look beyond its pages to understand the way it has been approached over the centuries.

Unless they are in Christ, they are wasting their time, unfortunately.


You have not fully understood what I wrote. I argued that they are in Christ...they just don't know it. To quote from the Gospel of John a second time, "Whoever lives in love lives in the Father."

To say that Jesus can only save people who openly declare themselves to be Christians is to suggest that His power is limited by something we can do. It is also to suggest that only a spoken declaration of Christ's sovereignity is enough. In reality, there are people like the Good Samaritan whose every action cries out the Good News. They know Jesus in their heart even if they don't know Him with their mind. Consequently, they too have been washed clean by that Precious Blood.
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Postby Page » Mon Jun 26, 2006 7:28 pm

parnassus wrote:I argued that they are in Christ...they just don't know it. To quote from the Gospel of John a second time, "Whoever lives in love lives in the Father."


It is impossible to be in Christ without knowing it. If this were true, you would be saved by default, rather, before being redeemed, every inclination of the soul is in opposition to God. Rather, you are sanctified by Christ, and as a result your soul is regenerated before God. (II Corinthians 5:17-- Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!) By saying that "the old has gone" this directly implies that you were not previously saved. You are definitely aware of the effects of this-- My life has changed completely in regards to my thoughts and actions on the most part since I became a Christian.

People can attempt to express love to some extent in regards to doing good things for people, but true and perfect love cannot be known or achieved outside of Christ. Love is a product of salvation, not the cause or requisite.

God saves the people that He chooses. Not everyone is going to be saved, unfortunately.

Ephesians 1:3-5, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love: having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will..." This passage speaks to Christians, not everyone in general.
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Postby parnassus » Mon Jun 26, 2006 9:44 pm

I think you are dangerously overconfident in your assumptions about who God is, what God approves of, and what God disapproves of. Obviously we have an insight into God and His ways from the Scriptures, but it is also important to remember that we cannot define God, or put him in a box. God in some ways is the great unknown - God is so much more powerful than we are, God is eternal, and God cannot be fully described by human language or reason. The finite mind cannot comprehend the infinite.


"It is impossible to be in Christ without knowing it. If this were true, you would be saved by default, rather, before being redeemed, every inclination of the soul is in opposition to God. Rather, you are
sanctified by Christ, and as a result your soul is regenerated before God."


I am not arguing that all people on earth at this moment are living in Christ. Salvation doesn't occur by default. Salvation occurs because we make a conscious choice to accept it. We have to choose between Jesus and sin. But that choice isn't always presented in such a clear-cut way. When I walked past the homeless woman today with two pounds fifty in my pocket, I had to make a choice: either I use that money to buy the woman some lunch, waiting an extra few hours to have my own meal; or I use it to get food for myself. The Gospels illustrate that Jesus always thought of other people's needs before He considered His own, so if I choose the first option, I choose Jesus.

Being a Christian makes it easier for me to phrase that choice, because we are encouraged to ask ourselves, "What would Jesus do?" But my religion doesn't make it any easier for me to make that choice. There are plenty of Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, and agnostics who might walk down the street, see the homeless woman, and decide to feed her. By so doing, they've chosen to imitate Christ. Whether they know it or not, they're doing what He would do.

This contradicts your statement that before redemption every inclination of the soul is in opposition to God. The Bible tells us that our souls hunger after God even though we sin. Psalm 42 proclaims, "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?"

We are born with this deep thirst for Our Lord. If every inclination of a soul prior to redemption is in opposition to God, how can the inclination of the soul to seek Baptism come about? Under those circumstances, it would be impossible for any of us to make a free choice.

Your argument implies that you hold the view that the world God created
for us and the bodies God created for us are evil. This is in direct contradiction to Genesis, which teaches us that God created all things, and that God looked on His creation and saw that it was good. Even though we sin, He does not stop loving us and seeing the precious people we are truly called to be. To suggest otherwise is to say that our sin has power over God's creation and, by logical extension, over God Himself.

I believe that come final judgement all people will stand before Jesus Christ. If people (Christian or non-Christian) have always strived to choose what is good in their lives, they will be able to recognise Christ as they stand before Him - for He is the perfect embodiment of all that is good. Their hearts will have come to know Him even if their brains have not, and consequently the sight of His face will bring them great joy. If people (Christian or non-Christian) have tended to choose what is evil in their lives, they won't be able to feel that joy - they will know only fear, because they are looking at everything that they are not.

It's only because Jesus Christ died on the cross that Christians and non-Christians alike have any hope of attaining salvation. It is only by acknowledging Jesus' love that Christians and non-Christians are able to enter into that salvation. But just as it is possible to drink from a river and not know the river's source, it is possible to drink of Christ's love - and carry it to others - without consciously knowing from where it came.

"(II Corinthians 5:17-- Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!) By saying that "the old has gone" this directly implies that you were not previously saved. You
are definitely aware of the effects of this-- My life has changed completely in regards to my thoughts and actions on the most part since
I became a Christian."


You are right to say that becoming Christian is a life-changing experience. Becoming Christian allows us to see more clearly what is good, in line with our deepest desires, and is in accordance with God's plan (although even as Christians we cannot see this with complete clarity).

Being a non-Christian means that we cannot see so clearly what is good, in line with our deepest desires, and in accordance with God's plan. It doesn't mean, though, that a non-Christian is incapable of seeing what is good. Remember all good things lead to God and salvation.

"People can attempt to express love to some extent in regards to doing good things for people, but true and perfect love cannot be known or achieved outside of Christ. Love is a product of salvation, not the
cause or requisite."


Jesus' dying on the cross was the most perfect act of love that there is.
No one, Christian or non-Christian, is capable of imitating that love perfectly. We are, however, called to imitate it to the best of our ability in our own daily life.

God is the source of love. God IS love. Love doesn't come into being as a result of any one event, such as the Jesus' death on the cross. God is eternal. This means that love is eternal. God loves every human being, Christian and non-Christian, and God manifests that love to everyone, Christian and non-Christian. God will judge us on how we respond to that love in our lives.

"God saves the people that He chooses. Not everyone is going to be saved, unfortunately."


There is a serious logical flaw in that argument. To say that God chooses certain people to be saved and certain people to be damned completely negates the possibility of free will, which negates the possibility of sin. You can only commit a sin if you a.) are fully aware that the action would be wrong, and b.) make a conscious choice to do it anyway. If our place in the afterlife is pre-determined, then free will can't exist...and neither can sin.

If God iwould condemn someone in the deepest darkest rainforest to Hell because that person had never heard anything about Him while alive on Earth, then not only do I not want anything to do with that God, but I wouldn't be capable of having anything to do with Him. Free will wouldn't exist, and consequently I would not be able to choose Him.

Secondly, Jesus makes it clear that He came to save all people. God chooses everyone...but not everyone chooses God, and this is why people may not attain salvation.

In summary, I am arguing that acknowledging Jesus is necessary for salvation. I am arguing that evangelism is important, as it allows people to see what is good and in accordance with God's will more clearly. I am also arguing that non-Christians are able to respond to love and goodness, which have their sources in God, and therefore non-hristians surely must have access to salvation.
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Postby Page » Tue Jun 27, 2006 1:34 am

Without God's intervention, everyone would go to Hell simply as a result of coming from the line of Adam. For sinning against God, Satan got what he deserved-- eternal punishment and separation from God with no chance of return. Although we deserved the same, God chose instead to save some of humanity. Why He does not choose to save everyone is something that I cannot answer, because He alone knows. Also, I'm interested in seeing where the Bible states that Jesus came to save everyone, not just those He chose. I know that predestination can be a dicey issue, and for awhile I was like you in the sense that I couldn't accept it, then after seeing what the Bible said about it (particularly the verses in Ephesians that I quoted earlier) I had no recourse but to accept it.

We have free will to some extent, but not enough to determine our own salvation. We may appear to choose to accept God, but only because God put it upon our hearts to do so. Just doing nice things for people is not enough, people do it because it is something that people are usally taught to do. If you were to follow these people around, you may or may not see more evidence of regeneration. Rather, I feel that the logical flaw lies in what you stated: If God chooses someone and they refuse to choose God, then would that not make that person just as powerful as God in regards to authority?


We don't have to choose to sin-- we are already predisposed to it in our flesh. Even as Christians, we have to struggle with it because while our souls are redeemed, our bodies (flesh) are not. God did not make our bodies like this to begin with, our flesh is tainted as a result of the fall. Since Adam and Eve (at that time, the entire human race) both sinned, everyone who would come from them would be affected by this as a result. Eventually, we will get a new perfect body to match our regenerated soul, but until then, we have to make do with what we have. Even though we have to fight an ongoing war with our flesh, we are no longer hopelessly enslaved to sin like we were before, and even if we do sin, God is faithful and just to forgive us.




Also, this debate of ours is just going around in circles, I think... Perhaps we may just have to agree to disagree.
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