Swimming the Bosporus 9: ‘Are You Saved?’

 

Moving around for the Navy and college meant I visited a lot of churches. My standard protocol was to slouch in the back row then flee the instant the service wrapped up. (Introverts unite! Better yet, go over there.) But the church ladies were onto me. Before I could reach the door, they would sidle up with small talk before closing with the classic evangelical question: “So, are you saved?”

You encounter this question constantly in American Protestant circles since it’s such a foundational doctrine. Heaven or hell. Turn or burn. Sanctify or french fry. And the path to salvation is pretty straightforward. Sincerely recite the Sinner’s Prayer and you’re in for good.

You can find all the Swimming the Bosporus posts here.

There are variations, but here’s the Billy Graham version:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name. Amen.

My “Born Again” story is dull. I attended an evangelical church at age 15, heard I needed to say the Sinner’s Prayer, and did it. Some of my friends had an emotional altar call and others exchanged a life of addiction for a life in Christ. But, basically, if you said this prayer and meant it, you were eternally saved.

After this, you should attend church, study the Bible, and grow in the faith. This process is called “sanctification.” If you lost your way, you could “rededicate” your life to the Lord and get back on the right track. (I think I did this a time or two at church retreats.)

For the nondenominational world, this simple formula strips away all the rituals and hoop-jumping you see in Catholicism and some mainline denominations. No need for catechism or confirmation; a preacher can lead you to salvation on a busy street corner or right on your TV.

This belief was stressed most my life so I didn’t have reason to doubt it. Over the years, though, it seemed odd that the Scriptures never mandated a sinner’s prayer. If saying it is the most important decision any human can make this side of eternity, you’d think Jesus or the Apostles would have made it crystal clear.

Instead, Protestant pastors and theologians studied the Bible, drew together several passages, and created the prayer as a sort of summary. But the Bible itself doesn’t always align with it.

I first noticed this reading Acts. A jailer asked Paul and Silas how he could be saved and they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” The household of Cornelius was also saved through the ministrations of Peter.

Did each member of these households make a personal decision for Christ? The New Testament never mentions it. I also knew from history books that some rulers led their entire city or region to Christianity with a mass baptism. Where those people saved?

I brought up this issue of “corporate salvation” to smart evangelical friends and we couldn’t figure out a good answer.

Other passages began to stand out. One epistle states, “For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,” while another says, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” There are many similar teachings in the Gospels.

Being saved “if” you keep the faith is very different from “once saved, always saved.” However, I also saw plenty of Scriptures that seemed to back the evangelical view of eternal security. What troubled me is that a matter of such import wasn’t clearly spelled out for a dummy like me. I really didn’t want to get it wrong and wake up unsanctified and french-fried.

It’s important to note that Protestantism was a reaction to 16th-century Catholicism. Martin Luther, et al., thought Rome pushed salvation through works. The Reformers said works had nothing to do with it, rather it was faith alone. This is my severe simplification since entire libraries could be filled with books on the “faith vs. works” debate. I’ll leave the details to the experts.

But the Eastern Orthodox church never had this debate. “Faith vs. Works” began with St. Augustine in the Latin West, was further developed by Rome over the centuries, was rebutted by the Protestants, and continues to be argued across the West today.

The Orthodox position is (I’m simplifying again), If you have faith, you’re going to have works. Now that that’s settled, pick up your cross and let’s head up that mountain. Salvation is 100 percent a gift of God’s grace and there is nothing humans can do to “earn” it. But if you truly believe, good works are an integral part of living out your faith.

Even the concept of “salvation” is different for the East. The common evangelical understanding focuses almost exclusively on going to heaven or hell. It’s a binary; are you in or are you out? If you give your life to Christ, that instant is the place, date, and time you are saved. It’s done.

The Orthodox understanding is far broader.

Salvation is not a one-time event, but a lifelong process that begins here on Earth and continues into eternity. The Greek term is “theosis,” an unending process of becoming conformed to God. By participating in God’s work, we become more and more Christlike. This will continue in heaven.

Of course, no one can ever become God, the goal is to become more like Him day by day. Since we have free will, this requires our cooperation with God; a life of repentance and obedience. Faith and works aren’t an either/or but a both/and.

This understanding isn’t too far off from a phrase early reformers used: “We are justified by faith alone but not by a faith that is alone.”

So today, when someone asks me if I’m saved, I say, “I’m working out my salvation … with fear and trembling.”

Interestingly, the early Lutheran church reached out to Constantinople since they thought the Protestants and Orthodox must now be on the same page. But 500 years after the Great Schism, the two churches were speaking different languages, figuratively and literally.

So if you’re from a Western tradition and ask an Eastern Orthodox about faith vs. works or whether or not he’s “saved,” don’t be surprised if you get a blank stare. Or a 1,100-word reply trying to explain his answer.

Chapter 10 here.


This is ninth in the series “Swimming the Bosporus,” on my journey from the megachurch to the Orthodox Church. Installments every Sunday morning. Click here to see all the posts.

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  1. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Faith without works is like saying someone is a good person though he never does anything good. If one is led by the Holy Spirit and joined to Christ, one will desire and perform Christian acts of self-sacrificial love. On the flip side, if one lives in love, one will learn of God. 

    The word “faith” itself can be problematic since sometimes it seems to regard belief, a choice to trust, and other times regards loyalty. When someone says “keep the faith” or refers to “faithfulness” in a non-religious context, we understand that it concerns a willful commitment to a person, nation, or cause. To be faithful is to stand by and for the focus of one’s love. 

    Various saints with visions of Hell claimed to see even priests and bishops in that place where God’s love and mercy are refused. Baptism is initiation into Christ’s family. Confirmation welcomes gifts for sharing the goodness of the Lord. Eucharist is food for the journey. Reconciliation is a hospital on the field of spiritual battle. 

    It’s odd in an era of rampant no-fault divorce, children rejecting parents, and siblings rejecting siblings that baptized Christians most likely to excuse divorce do not believe the great gift of the holy family can be abandoned. Lord have mercy.

    • #1
  2. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: So if you’re from a Western tradition and ask an Eastern Orthodox about faith vs. works or whether or not he’s “saved,” don’t be surprised if you get a blank stare. Or a 1,100-word reply trying to explain his answer.

    I’m the one that will give the blank stare. My older brother (the Orthodox priest) will provide the 1,100 word reply. Or maybe 3,300 words, since Orthodox repeat everything three times.

    • #2
  3. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob

    “Once saved always saved” always struck me as a simplistic, two dimensional construct. You can find scriptures that seem to support it. But it always seemed to me that the error here is trying to look at salvation from God’s point of view and then applying that viewpoint as if it were our human viewpoint. Does God know beforehand whether any particular person will be saved? Yes. And from that point of view, you could argue that nothing can change that outcome, because God knows the outcome. So believing in “once saved always saved” is basically an attempt to put ourselves in God’s omniscient position. But from our human position, it’s impossible to know the outcome. And we can’t live our lives as if we do, which is what “once saved always saved” says we should do. It also resembles Gnosticism in a way. Gnostics definitely had their own version of it. Once you came to the realization that part of the divine spark was in you, that knowledge became your salvation. There was no more struggle or effort required after that point. That type of spiritual complacency is totally foreign to most of the western Christian tradition. 

    • #3
  4. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; prudent are all who practice it. — Psalms

    Pay attention to how often in both Old and New Testament fear of the Lord is lauded as a good thing. Note how often Jesus warns His own followers of Hell. Fear is the safety net that catches us when conscience fails.

    And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.” — Matthew 12

    Jesus said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”— John 21

    Pay attention to how often Christian identity is linked with a prescription for action.

    • #4
  5. kylez Member
    kylez
    @kylez

    Salvation is not a one-time event, but a lifelong process that begins here on Earth and continues into eternity. The Greek term is “theosis,” an unending process of becoming conformed to God. By participating in God’s work, we become more and more Christlike. This will continue in heaven.

    This is sanctification though.

    • #5
  6. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    kylez (View Comment):

    Salvation is not a one-time event, but a lifelong process that begins here on Earth and continues into eternity. The Greek term is “theosis,” an unending process of becoming conformed to God. By participating in God’s work, we become more and more Christlike. This will continue in heaven.

    This is sanctification though.

    Yes and no.

    Strictly speaking, salvation is accomplished solely by Christ’s loving sacrifice for our sins and by our admittance into His holy family in baptism.

    But, like Judas, we are tempted to reject those gifts. So we rely on God’s persistent intervention and sustenance (grace) to maintain faith amid temptations.

    Ideally, Christians may focus on sanctification. But a Christian adopted into salvation through the Crucifixion is like a man pulled from a fire and tempted to commit suicide because of his pains. So long as he is free, he can choose not to be saved; to throw away what was preserved. He needs love not just once but throughout his life to hold onto salvation.

    • #6
  7. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Jon, I think you’ve pretty much summed-up the Protestant debate between Calvinism and Armenianism. I am a Calvinist, but I rely a lot on the Epistle of James regarding how the Gospel works out in our daily lives. 

    • #7
  8. SkipSul Inactive
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    The word “faith” itself can be problematic since sometimes it seems to regard belief, a choice to trust, and other times regards loyalty. When someone says “keep the faith” or refers to “faithfulness” in a non-religious context, we understand that it concerns a willful commitment to a person, nation, or cause. To be faithful is to stand by and for the focus of one’s love. 

    And what is “faith”?  Belief?  Trust?  Hope?  Or is it actually an action in itself?  When we try to boil down meanings into one-word synonyms for other words we ultimately lose nuance, meaning, and context.

    • #8
  9. SkipSul Inactive
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: So if you’re from a Western tradition and ask an Eastern Orthodox about faith vs. works or whether or not he’s “saved,” don’t be surprised if you get a blank stare. Or a 1,100-word reply trying to explain his answer.

    I’m the one that will give the blank stare. My older brother (the Orthodox priest) will provide the 1,100 word reply. Or maybe 3,300 words, since Orthodox repeat everything three times.

    And if you put a bishop on it you get an hour-and-half explanation:

    • #9
  10. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    Your description of “faith and works” is precisely what this Roman Catholic believes.  Matthew 7 has always stood for me as a warning that “once saved, always saved” is a creation of the evil one.  An idea that that leads one astray.

    • #10
  11. civiltwilight Inactive
    civiltwilight
    @civiltwilight

    I am a Lutheran and know that what Luther wrote was far more profound and complex than “Once saved, always saved.” That expression is so simplistic that it could only have gained popularity in America. The phrase sounds like a Madison avenue platitude. A way to sell religion. Yet, I believe that when I decided to accept the gift of salvation (no sinner’s prayer was involved) at the late age of 30, it is God’s grace that saves me. It is God who keeps reaching for me despite my many sinful thoughts and actions. My job is to “work out my salvation with fear and trembling,” knowing that it is not my work alone. I must “run with perseverance the race marked out for” me, and thankfully, I do not have to rely on my strength alone.

    • #11
  12. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    The word “faith” itself can be problematic since sometimes it seems to regard belief, a choice to trust, and other times regards loyalty. When someone says “keep the faith” or refers to “faithfulness” in a non-religious context, we understand that it concerns a willful commitment to a person, nation, or cause. To be faithful is to stand by and for the focus of one’s love.

    And what is “faith”? Belief? Trust? Hope? Or is it actually an action in itself? When we try to boil down meanings into one-word synonyms for other words we ultimately lose nuance, meaning, and context.

    Hebrews 11:1!

    There’s another verse in Hebrews relevant to this discussion.

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: I first noticed this reading Acts. A jailer asked Paul and Silas how he could be saved and they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” The household of Cornelius was also saved through the ministrations of Peter.

    This is where my confidence in mine and my children’s baptisms is found.

    There’s also some verses in Jeremiah and Peter that have edified it for me.

    Bottom line is that there is something off about bringing an adult into the church family and spiritually leaving their children out in the cold. Something isn’t right there.

    And I think the evangelical rejection of paedobaptism is born of this “once saved always saved” mess.

    When I read the verse in Philippians giving us assurance that nothing can take us from God’s love, I always read that to mean “nothing outside of myself” can take me away from God. Demons have no power here. Hell has no power here. The only one that has power to take myself out of God’s hands and into hell is my rejection of Him. And I can reject Him. Any day from here to next Sunday, I can choose to walk away.

    • #12
  13. SkipSul Inactive
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    civiltwilight (View Comment):
    I am a Lutheran and know that what Luther wrote was far more profound and complex than “Once saved, always saved.”

    Luther would have been aghast at the idea, especially as its roots are actually found in Calvin and his successors.  But I’m also sure Calvin would have rejected the concept too.

    OSAS is a distillation of the 5th point of TULIP, and is theologically inseparable from the rest.

    • Total Depravity of humanity after the fall.
    • Unconditional Election – God has chosen whom He has chosen.
    • Limited Atonement – Jesus was not crucified for all of humanity, but only for those predestined by God for salvation.
    • Irresistible Grace – If you are among the elect, then you cannot resist that grace.
    • Perseverance of the Saints – If you are among the elect, you cannot do anything to lose your salvation.

    It should be noted that Orthodox Christianity rejects every single point of TULIP (you might call this “Unconditional Rejection”).

    civiltwilight (View Comment):
    That expression is so simplistic that it could only have gained popularity in America.

    Modern Evangelicalism, insofar as it can be said to have a unifying theology (and one could argue that it does not) often ascribes to OSAS, but without the rest of the doctrines because 5-point Calvinism denies that humanity has any free will, and because Calvinism necessarily also has to maintain that most of humanity was created to be destroyed.  This makes people rather uncomfortable, and telling them “Hey, once you’ve been saved, you cannot lose that” is comforting.

    Modern Evangelicalism is non-denominational and syncretic when it comes to Christian beliefs – borrowing some things from Calvin, some from Arminius, depending on the particular pastor or congregation.  Just within the pastorate of my last Evangelical church, the senior pastor was usually trying to split the middle (which made his sermons veer back and forth from week to week), the associate pastor was a fiercely dogmatic Calvinist, and the youth pastor was a quiet Arminian.

    Luther could never square with Calvin, nor could Luther’s successors square with Calvin’s successors.  Lutheranism (especially the more conservative branches) today hews very close to Arminianism.

    • #13
  14. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    A Catholic view from the Council of Trent, Faith Alone:

    Trent is therefore concerned to reject “faith alone” when it’s used to say that you don’t need to in any way cooperate with God’s grace, that a merely intellectual faith would save you.

    And that’s correct. Merely agreeing with the truths of the theology is not enough to be saved. As James puts it: “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder” (James 2:17).

    A much more detailed explanation from Catholic Answers can be found by clicking on the link.

    • #14
  15. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Jon, good post. As an evangelical, I don’t see any difference between my beliefs on the faith-works issue, and what you say about Orthodox beliefs.

    Salvation is by faith alone. It doesn’t immediately make you perfect. You have to work that out, with fear and trembling, but also with hope and confidence. If you have faith, the works will follow, just as water flows downhill. Though you can still resist, damming the stream for a while, so to speak.

    You don’t earn your way into heaven. That’s His job, and it’s done. But you can bring an offering, and the offering is your works. It’s not a bribe offered to God. It’s your way to show gratitude.

    I find this to be set forth in Scripture quite clearly, though it would take a while to put together a lawyer’s brief on the issue, with citations.

    • #15
  16. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    A Catholic view from the Council of Trent, Faith Alone:

    Trent is therefore concerned to reject “faith alone” when it’s used to say that you don’t need to in any way cooperate with God’s grace, that a merely intellectual faith would save you.

    And that’s correct. Merely agreeing with the truths of the theology is not enough to be saved. As James puts it: “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder” (James 2:17).

    A much more detailed explanation from Catholic Answers can be found by clicking on the link.

    I think the differences between Catholics and the orthodox (and evangelicals) on this is largely a matter of communication.

    Yes, saved by faith alone. But those works are evidence of your faith. It isn’t that someone with works is saved. But it is that someone without works is without faith.

    To succinctly communicate this to a wide variety of people with varying levels of intelligence is not a simple task and there is an inevitable telephone effect.

    • #16
  17. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Let’s imagine that a few moments before Adolf Hitler dies of a heart attack (instead of killing himself), Hitler repents of his sins and accepts Jesus as his Lord and Savior.  

    This would seem to lead us to the conclusion that Hitler would obtain salvation and go to heaven while a Jewish woman who was tortured and killed in one of Hitler’s concentration camps would go to hell.  

    This seems fundamentally unjust in the sense that it results in the eternal punishment of good people and the eternal heavenly reward of bad people.  

    • #17
  18. SkipSul Inactive
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    Jon, good post. As an evangelical, I don’t see any difference between my beliefs on the faith-works issue, and what you say about Orthodox beliefs.

    Met. Kallistos Ware does an excellent job explaining the Orthodox understanding of salvation – I think if you listen to his talk you may find differences.  As Ware says in his conclusion, his answer to the question “Are you saved?” is “I have been saved, I am being saved, I will be saved.”  Saying “faith alone” as opposed to works is a false choice – it is “both and…”

    • #18
  19. kylez Member
    kylez
    @kylez

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Let’s imagine that a few moments before Adolf Hitler dies of a heart attack (instead of killing himself), Hitler repents of his sins and accepts Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

    This would seem to lead us to the conclusion that Hitler would obtain salvation and go to heaven while a Jewish woman who was tortured and killed in one of Hitler’s concentration camps would go to hell.

    This seems fundamentally unjust in the sense that it results in the eternal punishment of good people and the eternal heavenly reward of bad people.

    It would be just in God’s eyes. If such a thing had happened it wouldn’t be a “reward” for Hitler and his evil. It would be a glorification of God that even such a thing could be repented of.

    • #19
  20. kylez Member
    kylez
    @kylez

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    Jon, good post. As an evangelical, I don’t see any difference between my beliefs on the faith-works issue, and what you say about Orthodox beliefs.

    Met. Kallistos Ware does an excellent job explaining the Orthodox understanding of salvation – I think if you listen to his talk you may find differences. As Ware says in his conclusion, his answer to the question “Are you saved?” is “I have been saved, I am being saved, I will be saved.” Saying “faith alone” as opposed to works is a false choice – it is “both and…”

    It isn’t a false choice. It is at the heart of the gospel. Ephesians 2: 8-9.  Our works are no part of Christ saving us. 

    • #20
  21. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Let’s imagine that a few moments before Adolf Hitler dies of a heart attack (instead of killing himself), Hitler repents of his sins and accepts Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

    This would seem to lead us to the conclusion that Hitler would obtain salvation and go to heaven while a Jewish woman who was tortured and killed in one of Hitler’s concentration camps would go to hell.

    This seems fundamentally unjust in the sense that it results in the eternal punishment of good people and the eternal heavenly reward of bad people.

    So your hypothetical Jewish woman was sinless, is that it?

    There are no good people. All are sinners.

    Have you ever read The Shack? It’s a very painful book, but if you can take the time, it might help your understanding of the Christian world view.

    • #21
  22. SkipSul Inactive
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    kylez (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    Jon, good post. As an evangelical, I don’t see any difference between my beliefs on the faith-works issue, and what you say about Orthodox beliefs.

    Met. Kallistos Ware does an excellent job explaining the Orthodox understanding of salvation – I think if you listen to his talk you may find differences. As Ware says in his conclusion, his answer to the question “Are you saved?” is “I have been saved, I am being saved, I will be saved.” Saying “faith alone” as opposed to works is a false choice – it is “both and…”

    It isn’t a false choice. It is at the heart of the gospel. Ephesians 2: 8-9. Our works are no part of Christ saving us.

    What about Matthew 25?

    What is “salvation”?  What does it mean?

    • #22
  23. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Let’s imagine that a few moments before Adolf Hitler dies of a heart attack (instead of killing himself), Hitler repents of his sins and accepts Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

    This would seem to lead us to the conclusion that Hitler would obtain salvation and go to heaven while a Jewish woman who was tortured and killed in one of Hitler’s concentration camps would go to hell.

    This seems fundamentally unjust in the sense that it results in the eternal punishment of good people and the eternal heavenly reward of bad people.

    So your hypothetical Jewish woman was sinless, is that it?

    There are no good people. All are sinners.

    Have you ever read The Shack? It’s a very painful book, but if you can take the time, it might help your understanding of the Christian world view.

    I did watch the movie “The Shack.”  It was an interesting movie.  Of course many evangelical Christians such as Albert Mohler (president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) did not approve of the message the book sent.

    https://albertmohler.com/2010/01/27/the-shack-the-missing-art-of-evangelical-discernment

    “The answer is not to ban The Shack or yank it out of the hands of readers. We need not fear books — we must be ready to answer them. We desperately need a theological recovery that can only come from practicing biblical discernment. This will require us to identify the doctrinal dangers of The Shack, to be sure. But our real task is to reacquaint evangelicals with the Bible’s teachings on these very questions and to foster a doctrinal rearmament of Christian believers.

    “The Shack is a wake-up call for evangelical Christianity. An assessment like that offered by Timothy Beal is telling. The popularity of this book among evangelicals can only be explained by a lack of basic theological knowledge among us — a failure even to understand the Gospel of Christ. The tragedy that evangelicals have lost the art of biblical discernment must be traced to a disastrous loss of biblical knowledge. Discernment cannot survive without doctrine.”

    It is isn’t that the Jewish woman is sinless.  It’s that she is a good person and Hitler was evil.

    I am just pointing out how the Christian world view, as often presented, appears unjust.

    Sure, God might think it is just because only those who accept him/Jesus go to heaven.  But that’s power worship, not goodness.

    That’s really what I find morally repugnant about certain versions of Christianity, that is appears like power worship.

    I am sure that Aldolf Hitler viewed the Jewish woman whom he placed in a concentration camp as not a good person.  So, in this sense, Hitler and the God as you describe him are on the same page.  That should be a warning sign.

    • #23
  24. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    HW, I agree with the criticisms of The Shack. The particular part that I was referencing was the protagonist being offered the judge’s bench, in order to sit in judgment on God. This is what you are doing.

    Your response is openly contradictory. You simultaneously assert that the hypothetical Jewish woman is not sinless, and that she is a good person. That’s not how it works, in the Christian view.

    • #24
  25. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    What about Matthew 25?

    What is “salvation”? What does it mean?

    Is it a “work” to submit your life to Christ?

    I don’t know if I’d call it a work. It’s hard, but “works” of faith are outpourings of God’s love on others – doing good for others that produces fruit.

    Submission is death. It is death of sinful selves so that we can be resurrected in a new spirit with Christ, obeying His spirit that directs us to works that show His love to others.

    So is Matthew 25 submission or works?

    A good analogy is direct object vs indirect object of a predicate.

    Submission to Christ is animated by faith alone, and that constant submission produces good works.

     

    • #25
  26. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    HW, I agree with the criticisms of The Shack. The particular part that I was referencing was the protagonist being offered the judge’s bench, in order to sit in judgment on God. This is what you are doing.

    Your response is openly contradictory. You simultaneously assert that the hypothetical Jewish woman is not sinless, and that she is a good person. That’s not how it works, in the Christian view.

    As for sitting in judgement of God, think of it this way.  

    What if you learned that God endorsed Stalin’s and Mao’s genocides?  Would you question God’s goodness, his sense of justice, his morality?  

    If you are honest with yourself, you would question God under that set of circumstances.  In other words, when we think of “goodness” and “morality,” we think of certain kinds of dos and don’ts, regardless of what anyone says.

    Also, as for the Jewish woman.  Let’s say I think that she isn’t a good person.  Still, this Jewish woman has never killed anyone, never sent someone to a concentration camp so that they could be tortured and starved to death.  

    Yet, if God were to accept Jesus as his savior prior to a fatal heart attack, Hitler would go to heaven and the Jewish woman would go to hell.

    It’s clear that this version of God is an evil God.  You can say, “But God created the Universe” or “God created Hitler and the Jewish woman.”   It doesn’t matter.  God would still be evil.  

    • #26
  27. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    John 3:3-5 says: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and … is born of water and Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” 

    Matthew 3:13 says: “John tried to dissuade him, saying it is I who should be baptized by you. But Jesus said, “Leave it like this for the time being; it is fitting that we should do it this way, do all that uprightness demands. And when Jesus was baptized, he at once came up from the water, and suddenly the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And suddenly there was a voice from heaven, “This is my Son, the Beloved, my favor rests on him.”

    Jesus was God in human form, yet he asked to be baptized by water in the river Jordan by John the Baptist. He was without sin – why? I think he was showing the example of how to receive the Holy Spirit, so it was more than words. It included a public ritual and confession. I love your posts. We are learning and working out salvation together, and it is possible to fall away, as the Bible also states, so you don’t have a guaranteed one way ticket to heaven. 

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  28. SkipSul Inactive
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    Stina (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    What about Matthew 25?

    What is “salvation”? What does it mean?

    Is it a “work” to submit your life to Christ?

    I don’t know if I’d call it a work. It’s hard, but “works” of faith are outpourings of God’s love on others – doing good for others that produces fruit.

    Submission is death. It is death of sinful selves so that we can be resurrected in a new spirit with Christ, obeying His spirit that directs us to works that show His love to others.

    So is Matthew 25 submission or works?

    A good analogy is direct object vs indirect object of a predicate.

    Submission to Christ is animated by faith alone, and that constant submission produces good works.

     

    Matthew 25 has 3 parables: The Bridegroom coming at midnight (the wise vs. the foolish virgins), The Servants and the Talents, and the Sheep and the Goats. 

    We’ll set aside the Bridegroom for another time as that one has a lot to unpack.

    The Servants and Talents has a lord giving fortunes to 3 servants for safe keeping, then coming back after a time and asking what they’ve done with that.  2 of the servants invested their fortunes and had returns in excess of what was given them, but the last did nothing at all.  We are given this life and expected to have something to show for it, and we will be judged if we had nothing.

    The Sheep and the Goats lays this out even more clearly.  What did we do with our lives?  Live them only for ourselves, or seek out the needy and help them?

    Both of these parables are very clear statements that we will be judged by how we lived our lives, and that judgement will be based on what we did with what we were given.

    Trying to split faith from works is presenting a false choice – they are inextricable, and asking if it is one or the other is asking the wrong question.

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  29. SkipSul Inactive
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    HW, I agree with the criticisms of The Shack. The particular part that I was referencing was the protagonist being offered the judge’s bench, in order to sit in judgment on God. This is what you are doing.

    I don’t think this is what HW is doing here.  Rather he is, if anything, sitting in judgement of what you stipulate to be the way God necessarily works.

    • #29
  30. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    What about Matthew 25?

    What is “salvation”? What does it mean?

    Is it a “work” to submit your life to Christ?

    I don’t know if I’d call it a work. It’s hard, but “works” of faith are outpourings of God’s love on others – doing good for others that produces fruit.

    Submission is death. It is death of sinful selves so that we can be resurrected in a new spirit with Christ, obeying His spirit that directs us to works that show His love to others.

    So is Matthew 25 submission or works?

    A good analogy is direct object vs indirect object of a predicate.

    Submission to Christ is animated by faith alone, and that constant submission produces good works.

     

    Matthew 25 has 3 parables: The Bridegroom coming at midnight (the wise vs. the foolish virgins), The Servants and the Talents, and the Sheep and the Goats.

    We’ll set aside the Bridegroom for another time as that one has a lot to unpack.

    The Servants and Talents has a lord giving fortunes to 3 servants for safe keeping, then coming back after a time and asking what they’ve done with that. 2 of the servants invested their fortunes and had returns in excess of what was given them, but the last did nothing at all. We are given this life and expected to have something to show for it, and we will be judged if we had nothing.

    The Sheep and the Goats lays this out even more clearly. What did we do with our lives? Live them only for ourselves, or seek out the needy and help them?

    Both of these parables are very clear statements that we will be judged by how we lived our lives, and that judgement will be based on what we did with what we were given.

    Trying to split faith from works is presenting a false choice – they are inextricable, and asking if it is one or the other is asking the wrong question.

    But imagine a Hindu physician who has worked 70 hours a week for decades treating cancer patients, trying to keep his patients alive and when his patients die, trying to comfort the deceased person’s family.  Let’s say this Hindu physician gets in a car accident on the way to the hospital and dies.

    This is where the idea that this Hindu physician’s “works” don’t matter because he didn’t accept Jesus as lord an savior seems nonsensical.  This is especially so if we think that a serial killer who is in prison for his murders and who accepts Jesus as lord and savior would go to heaven.  

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