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Subject: Christain debate - Can we be perfect - Is Christ sufficient? rss

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Lynette
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This is a new thread to keep from hijacking another.
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/369654

Not that others are not welcome to join in but at this point we are debating variations on Christian theological thought Christian to Christian so assumptions of certain shared knowledge will be made. If somebody wants clarification on a source from something I write just ask.


Benjro wrote:
Meerkat wrote:
Benjro wrote:


I contend that I am speaking for Orthodox Christianity. When we are told that we are dead in sin or lost in sin, how else would you take it? Why would the Israelites continually make sacrifices of atonement if they were keeping the Law?

You are right that there are Christian traditions that say that God would never command us to do something we can't do, but I argue that is precisely the case. That kind of desperation leads us to rely on what God has done, not what we do. As far as I can tell this is the heart of orthodoxy in the Christian faith. If you claim to keep the Law and by so doing, it makes you righteous, you are a Pelagian. That is certainly not orthodox Christianity.


I really dislike going into the minutia of theology with fellow Christian in a public forum but there is an idea I think I need to comment on. I did a much more extensive post on this topic in this thread http://boardgamegeek.com/article/2854211#2854211 awhile back so for you regulars in here if you think seen most of this before you have.

The idea that nothing we ever do will be good enough is in my opinion an oversimplification of a concept that helps get many people headed down the correct path. It is my reading of the scriptures and understanding from God that when people become more mature in their understanding they will see the goal is exactly perfection. Perfection by not just one choice "to believe" but by a continuing set of choices we will be making of our own free will every instant to be what God intended us to be. Just like the angels who have not fallen, chose every instant to remain sinless.

However because we are currently broken, untrained and spiritually out of whack by submersion in our sinful nature/culture we don’t possess the skills, wisdom or ability to even grasp what all those right decisions would look like very well the fortitude to make and stick with all those correct choices yet.

However in Matt 5:28 Jesus said “Be ye PERFECT as your father in heaven is perfect…”

Not try to be perfect but BE YE PERFECT. The Greek word found here and translated "perfect" means "finished, complete, having reached its end," and implies being fully grown or mature. He would not command us to do what could not be done. So it is obvious to me that we are supposed to grow into perfection. Thus it isn’t individual “virtues” that are our goal but a character of an unfailing compassionate and loving nature that we are striving for.

Every day He EXPECTS us to be perfect but compassionately will forgive us when we fail since our character isn’t full grown yet. The standards and EXPECTATION that we will meet those remains regardless of our success or failure in regards to them.

In another passage in Matthew a young man who claimed to have abided by all the laws of Judaism for all of his life was told by Jesus “If you would be perfect…” Again noting there is a path to perfection. Young man to Jesus "Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I might have eternal life?" When he assured the Savior that he had kept the commandments from youth up until present day Jesus said to him: "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven . . . ." This the young man could not do, and he departed. After this Jesus made the comment about how hard it will be for the rich to enter into the kingdom of heaven and the disciples ask “who then can be saved?”

Jesus begins his response by saying, "With men this is impossible but with God all things are possible" Men on their own, not only will not but cannot sell every thing they have and give it ALL to the poor, genuinely LOVE their enemies and do good to people who use them, turn the other cheek, bless people who curse them excreta. It is against their very nature. Without God it would mean death in a naturally controlled world. However God enables those who trust in him to step outside them selves and take on the NATURE of God even if only for a few moments. To do what is “impossible” without Him.

The tried and true 12 step program says “Fake it until you can make it”, but Christ says Be it THROUGH ME until you can BE IT ON YOUR OWN. This is a step beyond the 12 steps. It isn’t play acting; it is borrowing the real POWER until you grow your own muscles. God calls each of us to go as far as we can WITH Him, but at the moment we can go no further then we have to lean ON Him. Never ever EVER is the fact He is there to lean on an excuse to give up on the journey.

Christianity does not say one cannot attain perfection which includes virtuous behavior. Exactly the opposite it COMMANDS Christians to be working toward perfection that TRANSENDS virtuous behavior. A perfection which exceeds our wildest imaginings, one where we genuinely would lay down our life willingly and with love for people who HATE us personally and will happily hurt and even kill others whom we love.

Christianity does say that we are no more able to achieve this perfection totally independent of God than a second grader is able to fly to the moon totally on his own, independent of submitting to be taught needed knowledge and without the help of other people dedicated to the same goal.

Christianity is about a transformative process being done both with and through God. It calls us to go beyond the clothing of “morality” and to grow a character that exceeds virtuous and becomes a nature dedicated to sacrificial love. Just like God’s nature.

Christ came to be our teacher, our atonement though the example of perfect sacrificial obedience even unto death of self. For only by doing this can sin nature be conquered. Christ had to die for our sins because otherwise we would never have been able to willingly put our own sinful natures on the Cross with him.

Working out this perfection in Christ cannot be done without Him. However it also cannot be done without us either.

That is the heart of Mere Christianity. Accepting you indeed cannot even see the real road without Him very well walk it. Then submitting yourself to Him to provide you the guidance and strength to walk it with His help until you are Perfected in Him.


Well, I don't want to hijack this thread so I will just post this brief response. I would argue that our perfection comes at death and cannot come before. I'm not sure where you find the idea that Christ says through me first and then on your own...if you could send me a private message with that Scripture, that would be great. What you are arguing for I would call semi-Pelagian. I would just say that if Christ's sacrifice was sufficient, then to say that we need to move past it cannot be true. This is another discussion though and can be moved else where.


I would have to do some scripture searching to build a full point by point case, but some off the top of my head thoughts.

Jesus himself says He is door, a rock, living water these are all things we need and use but they are still independent of ours selves.

Jesus sends his disciples out to do things without Him while He still lived. He said before He died that his followers would do all the same miracles He did and more. He said His authority would be ours, that what we called into being would be done. These are all the words of somebody training up others to function independently.

Even if you go with the strait simplified "redemption and atonement" line of reasoning, Christ ultimately is "restoring" us to the un-fallen state. Adam and Eve had they not fallen would have been able to remain sinless. That is the whole point that they could have chosen to not sin, right? Thus they were capable of not sinning.

Christ's sacrifice is sufficient!! He is sufficient to get us back to that starting point, the one where we can chose not to sin. Do you not think there was someplace to go originally that got messed up by the fall from grace? That place would originally have been gotten to by walking with God as they did in the Garden, not being carried by Him every moment.

If we are to be fully restored, then that to me seems but the starting point of the real journey not the end point.

As for when that perfection comes... I think it is unlikely but theoretically possible for it to come before death. I think Peter, John and some of the other apostles were probably close before they died after having lived with Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit to further enhance their growth. In more modern times I think Mother Teresa for example was getting pretty darn close to the goal, closer than I am likely to ever get in this life. She certainly had a heart like Christ under even the harshest of life’s trials.

I think faith is tested only up until death. Since once dead and in the presence of the reality of God faith will no longer be needed. However I am not convinced that having passed the faith test means you get to skip all the others. Adam and Eve didn’t need to have faith in God, they knew Him personally, and yet they choose to sin. Satan knows God exists, he still chooses to sin. Perfection of character therefore must in my mind be something that goes beyond just faith. Faith perhaps is only a tool to get one into the game past the road blocks of doubt and lies Satan lays in our path. Since I cannot see its purpose in the next life this seems logical to me. But I am into pure supposition when discussing the ultimate purpose of faith.

Which bring us to perfection; I am not convinced that perfection comes instantly and directly after death. While I am not fully convinced of Purgatory per se, I am convinced there needs to be some serious continued fixing of many people I think were headed in the right direction but still far from the goal when they died. And I have not seen any compelling arguments that this fixing is done though some magical fiat upon death. Though I would expect the speed of advancement would increase rapidly once one was no longer under the influence of the Father of Lies. The clarity of sight would make many choices less ambiguous.

But I do believe that perfection is a part of the restoration and will be achieved at some point though Christ.

Well those are my thoughts for now.
Gotta go get some work done.
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Luis Padron
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Hey Lynette...I appreciate this new thread very much. There's much to agree with here. I respectfully disagree, however, with this:

"Every day He EXPECTS us to be perfect but compassionately will forgive us when we fail since our character isn’t full grown yet."

As I understand it the reason we fail is because our characters are broken and trapped in a "body of death" as Paul writes in Romans. Maturity may help us better follow his commandments but perfection does not seem possible if something essential within us is broken.
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If we could attain perfection on our own, there would have been no reason for Christ to die on the cross to atone for our sin. His sacrifice is the one and only means of salvation, and there's nothing we can do to "earn" it on our own since all humans are sinful. I agree that perfection is something we should strive for, but is ultimately impossible since we aren't capable of being anything more than human. The law is ultimately there to show us how sinful we really are, and how much we need Christ and the sacrifice he made for us.

The reason Jesus Christ was able to do it is that he was both fully God and fully human at the same time. It is through his perfect life, death, and resurrection that we are saved, and nothing else.

I don't think there is a single other person that ever lived that has come even close since just one sin leaves you dreadfully short of God's standard. Yes, there is certainly a refinement process in a Christian's life. When I first became a Christian, there were giant boulders I needed to sift out of my life. Now I'm working with some rocks. Maybe someday I'll be down to pebbles. You'll never get rid of every grain of sand though. This is a rather poor analogy since all sin is equal; impure thoughts are just as bad as adultery, but one is much easier than the other to rid ones self of from a human standpoint.

Anyways, I think I'm getting off the main point. Humans are human, and need Christ's salvation regardless of how "good" they are in their lifetimes.
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GAWD wrote:
Before you all go off into RSP theology debate land, you should all come to some sort of consensus as to what you mean by "perfect." In just 3 posts, there's already several different definitions floating about.

What exactly are we talking about when we talk about "perfect" ... indeed, to what extent is "perfect" even a useful term?


I would say that "perfect" is God's requirement for perfection, since that's the only definition of perfect that matters in this case. That is, leading a life 100% free of any sin whatsoever.
 
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So Chad, according to your congregation's interpretation of the Bible, what's the point of the second half of Matthew 7 then?

If deeds don't really matter, since we are all just human anyway, What's the point of 7:18 and 7:22?

 
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hibikir wrote:
So Chad, according to your congregation's interpretation of the Bible, what's the point of the second half of Matthew 7 then?

If deeds don't really matter, since we are all just human anyway, What's the point of 7:18 and 7:22?



Works are an indicator of faith, but it's the faith that gives salvation. I can't imagine someone having faith and not also doing good works.

I think Matthew 7:22 which say "Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?" is referring to people that thought they could enter heaven on account of their works. It's one thing to perform good works to honor God; it's another to perform good works with the expectation that those good works are going to earn you salvation. Someday, if Christ asks why I should be in heaven, the only thing I can answer is "I shouldn't", since there's absolutely nothing I've done to deserve it. So people who say "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?" didn't get the point that it was 100% Christs sacrifice that saves rather than any works anyone can do.
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I will always contend that Christ's substitutionary atonement is the heart of Christianity. We were dead in sin and faced with the Law, which no one could keep. Christ kept the Law perfectly and suffered for our sakes. That is the essence of Christianity.

That doesn't mean that we aren't commanded to act in this world. I argue that we do not sanctify ourselves to more perfectly realize our atonement or make ourselves look better in God's eyes. Nor do we do it to please God as Christ's sacrifice is sufficient. Instead we do do good works to help and serve our neighbor. However, like the sheep we do not see our own acts of goodness.

I do not think that Christ's sacrifice restores our perfection or capability for perfection. The righteous is imputed, which means it isn't ours, it is just used for our benefit. Same thing with being clothed in righteousness. We are not actually made righteous, we are covered with Christ's.

I have heard it said many times that Christianity is not a religion about living properly, but about dying properly. I still don't fully understand that, but part of it is that we will not be fully reconciled with God until our death or the Judgment.

Christ is not really working to restore our pre-fallen state. If that was all, we could fall again. Instead He will usher in a new Eden, better than the first where we will be eternally right with God.
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I believe in double justification.

Hesselink's Calvin's First Catechism pg.106 wrote:

The best of our good works are never perfect. "For even though this fact could seem incredible, it is nonetheless very true. No work at all leaves our hand accomplished with complete perfection, and unmarked by some defect" (Cathechism, sec.19). Hence even our best works must be justified if they are to be acceptable to God. This leads Calvin to formulate a doctrine of double justification": the first is the justification of the sinner and then the justification of the justified person's works.

"As we ourselves, when we have been engrafted in Christ, are righteous in God's sight because our iniquities are covered by Christ's sinlessness, so our works are righteous and are thus regarded because whatever fault is otherwise in them is buried in Christ's purity, and is not charged to our account. Accordingly, we can deservedly say that by faith alone not only we ourselves but our works as well are justified (Institutes III.17.10)"


For another reformer's view, try this online source:
Bucer on double justification

However, I believe this debate to be purely academic, just like the existence of free will. Because whether you are already perfect or "perfected later", the Christian call is to live as if you are perfect.
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Latria wrote:
I believe in double justification.

Hesselink's Calvin's First Catechism pg.106 wrote:

The best of our good works are never perfect. "For even though this fact could seem incredible, it is nonetheless very true. No work at all leaves our hand accomplished with complete perfection, and unmarked by some defect" (Cathechism, sec.19). Hence even our best works must be justified if they are to be acceptable to God. This leads Calvin to formulate a doctrine of double justification": the first is the justification of the sinner and then the justification of the justified person's works.

"As we ourselves, when we have been engrafted in Christ, are righteous in God's sight because our iniquities are covered by Christ's sinlessness, so our works are righteous and are thus regarded because whatever fault is otherwise in them is buried in Christ's purity, and is not charged to our account. Accordingly, we can deservedly say that by faith alone not only we ourselves but our works as well are justified (Institutes III.17.10)"


For another reformer's view, try this online source:
Bucer on double justification

However, I believe this debate to be purely academic, just like the existence of free will. Because whether you are already perfect or "perfected later", the Christian call is to live as if you are perfect.


Yes, we can do no good work outside of Christ's righteousness. I would go so far as to say that Christ is the one actually doing those good works through us. I think the quotes you provide support this.

Both Calvin and Bucer take pains to stress that it is Christ's work that is redemptive here. Our good works do nothing to save us. The virtue of these works lies elsewhere. We need to stay focused on Christ and Him crucified because that is the center of Christianity and all other doctrines flow from it. Especially today we have an obsession with sanctification that takes our justification for granted.
 
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GAWD wrote:
Before you all go off into RSP theology debate land, you should all come to some sort of consensus as to what you mean by "perfect." In just 3 posts, there's already several different definitions floating about.

What exactly are we talking about when we talk about "perfect" ... indeed, to what extent is "perfect" even a useful term?


I think Lynette's aiming at perfect sinlessness as opposed to mere perfect conduct. Lynette?
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chaddyboy_2000 wrote:
GAWD wrote:
Before you all go off into RSP theology debate land, you should all come to some sort of consensus as to what you mean by "perfect." In just 3 posts, there's already several different definitions floating about.

What exactly are we talking about when we talk about "perfect" ... indeed, to what extent is "perfect" even a useful term?


I would say that "perfect" is God's requirement for perfection, since that's the only definition of perfect that matters in this case. That is, leading a life 100% free of any sin whatsoever.
But this is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE, since the human body, spirit, and mind are flawed organisms with subconscious mechanisms that make 100% sinless life impossible.

A human simply cannot control every stray thought, sight, sound, and dream that passes thru their life.
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reapersaurus wrote:
chaddyboy_2000 wrote:
GAWD wrote:
Before you all go off into RSP theology debate land, you should all come to some sort of consensus as to what you mean by "perfect." In just 3 posts, there's already several different definitions floating about.

What exactly are we talking about when we talk about "perfect" ... indeed, to what extent is "perfect" even a useful term?


I would say that "perfect" is God's requirement for perfection, since that's the only definition of perfect that matters in this case. That is, leading a life 100% free of any sin whatsoever.
But this is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE, since the human body, spirit, and mind are flawed organisms with subconscious mechanisms that make 100% sinless life impossible.

A human simply cannot control every stray thought, sight, sound, and dream that passes thru their life.


You are correct, but that doesn't mean that it still isn't what God demands.
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This should probably start a new thread but I found it by following an ad that came up as I was reading this thread so I'll ask, what do you all think of this? http://www.biblicalheresy.com/WRGTH.pdf
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Fascinating article, Quozl, thanks!

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Benjro wrote:
reapersaurus wrote:
chaddyboy_2000 wrote:
GAWD wrote:
Before you all go off into RSP theology debate land, you should all come to some sort of consensus as to what you mean by "perfect." In just 3 posts, there's already several different definitions floating about.

What exactly are we talking about when we talk about "perfect" ... indeed, to what extent is "perfect" even a useful term?


I would say that "perfect" is God's requirement for perfection, since that's the only definition of perfect that matters in this case. That is, leading a life 100% free of any sin whatsoever.
But this is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE, since the human body, spirit, and mind are flawed organisms with subconscious mechanisms that make 100% sinless life impossible.

A human simply cannot control every stray thought, sight, sound, and dream that passes thru their life.


You are correct, but that doesn't mean that it still isn't what God demands.


Exactly.
 
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Benjro wrote:
That is certainly not orthodox Christianity.


I tried to follow this discussion but as much as it seems that you are all actually debating something, I think this is line throws everything out the door.

Can someone tell me what orthodox Christianity is? To the best of my knowledge, this hasn't existed formally since 1054 AD.

As far as I know, as long as you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the "one true god" Yahweh, and the messiah predicted in the Old Testament then, voila, you are a Christian.

What other qualifications are necessary to qualify?
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sisteray wrote:
What other qualifications are necessary to qualify?

Orthodox Christianity just means you subscribe and adopt the views of one of the many 10% clubs out there. If your views don't align, then its unorthodox.
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sisteray wrote:
Benjro wrote:
That is certainly not orthodox Christianity.


I tried to follow this discussion but as much as it seems that you are all actually debating something, I think this is line throws everything out the door.

Can someone tell me what orthodox Christianity is? To the best of my knowledge, this hasn't existed formally since 1054 AD.

As far as I know, as long as you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the "one true god" Yahweh, and the messiah predicted in the Old Testament then, voila, you are a Christian.

What other qualifications are necessary to qualify?


Orthodox means unity in doctrine or confession. The three ecumenical creeds (which of course are based on Biblical teaching) provide the doctrinal base for what would be considered orthodox. The source of most controversy over the history of the church has been based on either misunderstanding the dual natures in Christ or in misunderstanding the Godhead in general, so that is the main thrust of the creeds.

These are the distinctions that keep Mormons, Oneness Pentecostals and Jehovah's Witnesses from being considered Christian...they have a heretical view of both the nature of Christ and the Godhead. It is also why the framework you provide for being a Christian doesn't quite cut it.

There are other heresies too, the most significant being Pelagianism that says that we earn our way into heaven. I don't know of a denomination that would be considered Christian that held to that view, because it denies the atoning work of Christ.

Some Chriatians balk at the idea of creeds, but doctrinally, their denominations still hold them to be true. That is why we can serious doctrinal differences and still say that we are all Christians.
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quozl wrote:
This should probably start a new thread but I found it by following an ad that came up as I was reading this thread so I'll ask, what do you all think of this? http://www.biblicalheresy.com/WRGTH.pdf


I'd say it's teachings are orthodox. It's even kind of sad to say that much of it is nothing new in biblical scholarship. It's known as the New Perspective on Paul. It is sad because such stuff is still hush-hush in most conservative circles because it would rock the boat too much. The tiny rudder is adjusting, but it may take another generation.

Tom Wright has a new book on Justification. Hopefully, it would put the haunting presence of the fundamentalists to rest.

I have only one qualm with the article. It tries too hard to differentiate the public preachings of Jesus with the private revelations of Jesus to his disciples. While that makes for an interesting research, the argument that their difference indicate a different gospel cannot be one that is presumed, it has to be justified much more than is done in the article. I believe that's worthy of a PhD thesis.
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Benjro wrote:

Orthodox means unity in doctrine or confession. The three ecumenical creeds (which of course are based on Biblical teaching) provide the doctrinal base for what would be considered orthodox. The source of most controversy over the history of the church has been based on either misunderstanding the dual natures in Christ or in misunderstanding the Godhead in general, so that is the main thrust of the creeds.

There are other heresies too, the most significant being Pelagianism that says that we earn our way into heaven. I don't know of a denomination that would be considered Christian that held to that view, because it denies the atoning work of Christ.

It is possible to argue that Pelagianism is a heresy. But Meerkat's view is not even remotely close. Furthermore, if we base orthodoxy on the creeds, then it is largely silent about your particular version of atonement.

I do not deny that your understanding is the mainstream Protestant understanding. But it ignores the Catholic understanding, which I consider to be orthodox as well.
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Latria wrote:
quozl wrote:
This should probably start a new thread but I found it by following an ad that came up as I was reading this thread so I'll ask, what do you all think of this? http://www.biblicalheresy.com/WRGTH.pdf


I'd say it's teachings are orthodox. It's even kind of sad to say that much of it is nothing new in biblical scholarship. It's known as the New Perspective on Paul. It is sad because such stuff is still hush-hush in most conservative circles because it would rock the boat too much. The tiny rudder is adjusting, but it may take another generation.


That interpretation of Paul makes Romans much easier to swallow for a heathen like me. If all death in a cross by a divine being nets humanity is salvation by faith, why did he even bothered preaching about behavior? 'You are all burning in hell. I can forgive your sins today, but you'll sin later, so that won't help anyway. Screw that: Have faith in me and you'll be saved' would be a very good way of getting his message across. Instead, we get 'blessed are the meek': What will he say to the meek atheist? Sorry, meek dude. You were the meekest of the meek, but you had no faith, so no inheriting the earth for you!

Looking at it in this way, Paul doesn't seem to have his own, completely different agenda from the people that wrote the synoptic gospels: He's just taken completely out of context.
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Does anyone else find it a bit sad that so much thought and rhetoric is applied by "Christians" in an attempt to point out how wrong other "Christians" are?

Whatever you believe you need to do for / by Jesus for salvation I like to think that He would much rather see those that worship seek out the similarities among the faiths.

I read a lot of this stuff and it usually smacks of "look how much more I know about true salvation than you"

It seems that a lot of the problem comes form the 'labels' you all place on someone based on denomination. Like Morgan pointed out... I'm a follower of Christ, and worship in a Catholic Parish. I consider my self kindred to anyone else that calls them self a follower of Christ regardless of minuscule or even massive differences in doctrine. Their faults and sins will be sorted by a much higher power than me.

I guess I consider it tragic that, that isn't enough for some people.
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Ryno8 wrote:
Does anyone else find it a bit sad that so much thought and rhetoric is applied by "Christians" in an attempt to point out how wrong other "Christians" are?

Whatever you believe you need to do for / by Jesus for salvation I like to think that He would much rather see those that worship seek out the similarities among the faiths.

I read a lot of this stuff and it usually smacks of "look how much more I know about true salvation than you"

It seems that a lot of the problem comes form the 'labels' you all place on someone based on denomination. Like Morgan pointed out... I'm a follower of Christ, and worship in a Catholic Parish. I consider my self kindred to anyone else that calls them self a follower of Christ regardless of minuscule or even massive differences in doctrine. Their faults and sins will be sorted by a much higher power than me.

I guess I consider it tragic that, that isn't enough for some people.


I think it's entirely healthy for Christians to challenge each other about their faiths. I would hope these types of discussions really get people into the word and examining their faiths. I know, personally, this type of discussion helps keep me from having an idle faith, and helps me to strengthen it by really making me take a hard look at why I believe what I believe.

Just look at all of the accounts in the Bible of where "Christians" were deceived into believing a polluted message, such as the church in Galatia that was influenced by Jewish legalists. Paul has to go preach to them that justification is by faith, not the law or works, and asserts that law and grace cannot coexist. If God had not challenged them through Paul, they would have continued down the wrong path of legalism.

In this case, I personally feel that salvation by faith vs. salvation by works is such a massive rift in theology that they represent two completely different faiths. I realize that there are people that believe in each, but from studying the Bible I simply can't understand how anyone could arrive at one of those conclusions. One is saying that we are saved through Jesus Christ, and the other is saying we're saving ourselves. So, of course I'm going to argue it, because I believe salvation by works gross misrepresentation of the gospel and really devalues what Christ has done for us.

I don't say this as a "look how much more I know about true salvation than you", but rather a challenge for people to really examine why they believe what they believe. When other people argue their sides, I take it as the same. 1 John 4 tells us to "test the spirits" rather than blindly believe everything we're told or have been told. So, when I see people believing something and telling me something that doesn't jive, I feel pulled by God to say something about it and point it out. Maybe they've just never really tested and analyzed what they believe; maybe they have and are seeing something that I'm not. Either way, it's healthy to make those challenges.

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Latria wrote:
Benjro wrote:

Orthodox means unity in doctrine or confession. The three ecumenical creeds (which of course are based on Biblical teaching) provide the doctrinal base for what would be considered orthodox. The source of most controversy over the history of the church has been based on either misunderstanding the dual natures in Christ or in misunderstanding the Godhead in general, so that is the main thrust of the creeds.

There are other heresies too, the most significant being Pelagianism that says that we earn our way into heaven. I don't know of a denomination that would be considered Christian that held to that view, because it denies the atoning work of Christ.

It is possible to argue that Pelagianism is a heresy. But Meerkat's view is not even remotely close. Furthermore, if we base orthodoxy on the creeds, then it is largely silent about your particular version of atonement.

I do not deny that your understanding is the mainstream Protestant understanding. But it ignores the Catholic understanding, which I consider to be orthodox as well.


As far as Catholics go, I consider them Christian as they hold to the creeds. The problem I have with Catholic doctrine as well as Meerkats view is that they both are semi-Pelagian. I contend that Scripture makes pains to demonstrate that we do not participate in our salvation. Being semi-Pelagian isn't per se damning, but it is dangerous. That is because since the fall our sin nature has constantly pulled us to depend on ourselves over and above God (the first and only sin really). Do you think it will benefit us to point to works we did in Christ's name on Judgement Day(maybe the really virtuous Christians get a bigger mansion in heaven)?

We are properly positioned when we look to the object of our faith instead of obsessing with the subject. I cling to Christ the object of my faith. His work was sufficient and all I must do is confess Him as the Christ, the Son of the living God. When I start looking at my works or feelings about God, that is when I get shaky -- Am I truly trusting in God with all of my heart? Am I truly helping my neighbor with all of my ability? Am I sinning less as I grow as a Christian? If I answer no, am I really a Christian?

Finally, you are right that the creeds are primarily interested in defining who God is with particular focus on Christ. I would contend that historically misconceptions about who God is led directly to misconceptions about how our salvation works. The creeds define Christianity but not orthodoxy in its entirety. It is unorthodox to believe that we contribute to our salvation because the Scriptures do not support it and the early church did not practice it.
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hibikir wrote:
Latria wrote:
quozl wrote:
This should probably start a new thread but I found it by following an ad that came up as I was reading this thread so I'll ask, what do you all think of this? http://www.biblicalheresy.com/WRGTH.pdf


I'd say it's teachings are orthodox. It's even kind of sad to say that much of it is nothing new in biblical scholarship. It's known as the New Perspective on Paul. It is sad because such stuff is still hush-hush in most conservative circles because it would rock the boat too much. The tiny rudder is adjusting, but it may take another generation.


That interpretation of Paul makes Romans much easier to swallow for a heathen like me. If all death in a cross by a divine being nets humanity is salvation by faith, why did he even bothered preaching about behavior? 'You are all burning in hell. I can forgive your sins today, but you'll sin later, so that won't help anyway. Screw that: Have faith in me and you'll be saved' would be a very good way of getting his message across. Instead, we get 'blessed are the meek': What will he say to the meek atheist? Sorry, meek dude. You were the meekest of the meek, but you had no faith, so no inheriting the earth for you!

Looking at it in this way, Paul doesn't seem to have his own, completely different agenda from the people that wrote the synoptic gospels: He's just taken completely out of context.


The Doctrine of Law and Gospel answers this. Our fall was directly caused by a desire to be God-like and ever since we have looked to ourselves to solve our problems even our problem with God. Unfortunately we are dead in sin, blind in sin, and slaves to sin. These are not condition that one can resolve on their own...yet still we try. The Law has three uses but the most important is that it shows us our sin...it shows us just how sinful and lost we are. The Law isn't given for us to fulfill it, rather it is given to show that it can never be fulfilled by Man.

If that was where it ended, we would rightfully not worship God, it wouldn't matter anyway as we were all going to be punished justly for our sin. However, God is loving as well as just. He sent His Son to fulfill the Law (his justice still had to be fulfilled) and the Good News is that God did it all for us. We do nothing. What sweet relief, what wonderful release. Now we are free to do actual good works in the world ( that is to say works that are done according to God's will) for the benefit of our neighbor.
 
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