Saturday, August 18, 2007

KB says one of his fav sayings by Philipp Melanchthon is:
"In essentials, unity; in differences, liberty; in all things, charity."
Maybe our (my) problem is in defining those essentials a bit too narrow. Maybe we are all a bit too quick to say heresy when we really don't understand where someone is coming from. Maybe online dialogs like these are an opportunity to embrace each other in liberty and with charity.

That's awesome! You guys are taking the ball and running with this. Thanks!
CP: " a heretic causes division in a group, so that would make Jesus a heretic" Hehehe. I assume you read my careful wording that it is dividing from those alive in Christ that is the problem. There is a very real, and very practical difference. " No, sadly, CP.....the body of Christ will more likely amputate ME from them; not the other way around." Almost certainly not. Really. I attend a church right now that disagrees with me on equally significant doctrines as this. It is possible to find peace with brothers and sisters even in such disagreement. The exercise is really, really valuable and can bring real glory to the Lord. " Read and I'll be back!"I'll be here, sister. :-)
Missy:
Kevin, you know, I think you're right. I'm considering all the crazy ideas I've had both online and in my church - and although there has been definite opposition, I have not experienced rejection. I've heard a lot of stories of rejection, but never experienced it. Never realized that before. I've also never experienced the closeness to others that I've had in the past few years while I've allowed myself to be "out there."My idea of heresy meant "out of the norm" or against tradition, not divisive. I certainly do not want to wear divisive as a badge!
Thanks, all! I have to say, that I've seen more shunning of "different ideas" in churches than I guess you guys have. I wish I'd had your experience. I have a dear friend who gives all, ministers to people, helped me in youth groups, runs sound boards. He believes in God, but not the deity of Jesus. CP questioned this story: The whole story is that all of the congregation was asked to talk to one of the pastors if they felt led to be an elder in the church. My friend is already an ordained elder in the RCA, as am I. The RCA (Reformed Church of America...oldest denomination in America) considers "once an elder...always an elder." My friend stepped up, but was refused because of her husband. They want "elder couples" which is not scriptural, by the way. That's the story. His wife stepped forward to be an elder, she was refused because of her husband's stance. They have to be an "elder couple" and he disqualifies them. I have also been sneered at because of my stance on loving homosexuals--one woman in a church I attended (no more!) used the word "fag." I about dropped my teeth. This was a young woman. So, yes, I have had experiences in every church I've attended. They are very exclusive. I dropped the notion of a God that eventually redeems everyone at one church...you could have heard a pin drop.

Here are a couple of scripture verses on my heart--paraphrased...you know the rest.

1) 1 Tim 4:10 God is the Savior of ALL (my emphasis) humans; especially believers.
John 3:16 God loved the cosmos (actual translation) so He gave His only Son.......

2) Another question: If Jesus died on the cross for all of our sins, is the sin of unbelief the only unforgivable sin?

3) If Jesus died on the cross for us, was His work complete if we must be the cause of our own salvation...in that WE have to believe in order to be saved.

Don replied to CP about the Apostle's Creed....it reminded me that a group of Protestants were a tad bit "unorthodox" when they took off from England to get away from persecution. Christianity has a long and interesting history. I have to remind myself that Jesus wasn't a Christian!
DonR said: CP-I'm not that familar with the Apostle's Creed. I was raised in a Southern Baptist home. Spent 21+ years as a Baptist deacon, so I didn't hear a lot about it. It is only recently (last 3 years) that I have begun to explore Christianity in depth, all versions. The Apostle's Creed dates from the 3rd-5th century CE, dpending on who you take as accurate. To me that's a long time after Christ's death on the cross. As near as I can see, the AC was written as a general refutation of Gnosticism, answering the basic ideas of Gnosticism point for point. I have studied Gnosticism a bit and find many of their ideas quite interesting, but certainly can't buy most of their exclusivity. God is simply much bigger and more loving than they imagined. I wasn't implying that there were any contridictions within the creed that had become orthodox. Anyway, I really don't like the word "orthodox". To me, it puts God in an "orthodox" box, impying that we have all the answers we need, which I don't believe.

I'll be back....thanks for coming back! :-)

21 comments:

Missy said...

I've been thinking about your belief in salvation given to all - really since we met in July (boy time has flown!)

I have some unconventional thoughts about "heaven" and "hell" (I didn't think you'd be surprised). I really don't think of them as reward or punishment, but rather the ultimate choice. You either love God and desire to spend eternity with Him, or you don't. I am not sure that we have complete freedom in all that we do, but I feel sure that our choice to love God or not is entirely up to us.

I believe Jesus has given all of us that freedom to choose and a perfect picture of what that choice looks like.

My problem with universal salvation is that there is no choice. That just does not seem in line with the God I have learned of in scripture. He seems like a parent who teaches, warns, disciplines - and then lets us make our decision, not one that says, "Alright, you'll never get it, I'll just take the choice away."

I guess what I'm saying is I believe God ultimately allows us what we want, and that means He will not force us into an eternity with Him if we do not love him.

Missy said...

I missed so much while I was away. :-{

I agree with Missy. We are given the choice to be with Him or not some will chose not. I chose with Him.

codepoke said...

(The second Missy is Milly)

karen said...

How'd that happen??

Interesting thoughts, Missy....I remember reading a near death experience of a woman who had committed suicide...she was medically dead for a bit, then was brought back. She said she was wandering around in a place with other people who were wandering around. No one spoke, no one interacted. She suddenly realized she'd made a big mistake and remembered the "Jesus loves me" song from Sunday school...although Jesus had been far from her thoughts for a long time. Suddenly, a man appeared and came over to her and told her it wasn't her time. She knew who He was and asked Him why He picked her out from all the others. He said it was because she had chosen Him and thought of Him.
That's pretty cool and falls in line with your thoughts.

codepoke said...

Don R,

> The Apostle's Creed dates from the 3rd-5th century CE, dpending on who you take as accurate. To me that's a long time after Christ's death on the cross.

The Apostle's Creed is not authoritative, merely a clear point of consensus. It is presented as a refinement of a 1st century creed that would have been known to the apostles or their direct successors. The point of bringing it up is not that it is the center of all truth, but that there are core points of Christianity that have been solidly held by all followers of Christ for all the history of the church. It summarizes them nicely.

> To me, it puts God in an "orthodox" box, impying that we have all the answers we need, which I don't believe.

Orthodox is a long word with a long history, so ignoring it is probably best for conversation.

> "we have all answers"

I agree that we don't.

> "we have all answers we need"

Here I'm going to disagree. It is very possible to have all the answers we need without having all the answers we think we need. I believe we have all the answers we need.

> I have studied Gnosticism a bit and find many of their ideas quite interesting,

The ideas of gnosticism are most stimulating, to be sure. The DaVinci Code only made so much money because the core material gives so much fascinating room to run. The point of gnosticism, though, is that Christ is not Christ. And that is completely disqualifying. I doubt highly that the Apostle's Creed is exclusively anti-gnostic, but refuting gnosticism is a must. When an idea denigrates the Son of God, it has missed an important boat somewhere and needs to be called out.

Given all that, who's the heretic?

> I ... certainly can't buy most of their exclusivity.

As you point out, the gnostics had a tremendous reputation for splitting the churches they influenced. Heretic identified.

codepoke said...

And now to your challenges, Karen. :-)

> I have a dear friend who ... believes in God, but not the deity of Jesus. His wife stepped forward to be an elder, she was refused because of her husband's stance.

There are huge gaps in this summary, so I won't jump on it. Still, don't you think it would be a pretty massive "ask" for any church to place a man who rejects one of their core, core doctrines in a position of extreme influence? Some of getting along with a group with which you disagree is respecting their positions.

I disagree with my current church on several key doctrines. We bless each other, accept each other, and are glad to have each other in our lives. ---But--- I don't ask to be a leader of any type in their group. It is simply not respectful for me to step into a spokes-position when I will knowingly contradict the written agreements of the church. That wife appears to violate the spirit of the biblical standards of leadership in the church by being in such doctrinal disharmony. What's actually happening may be different that what appears, though.

codepoke said...

Your 3 questions, Karen, are well-founded. "All will be saved" is one logical conclusion of those questions. "Some will be saved" is a less logical conclusion. The conclusion that satisfies me is, "All of those God elects will be saved."

You have entered into one of the oldest debates through the back door. Calvinists have long asserted that there is no such thing as a logical Arminian. The verses you quote are so unflinchingly clear that there are only two possible conclusions - All will be saved, or all the elect will be saved. Neither Calvinists nor Arminians give much credence to the "all will be saved" arguments.

I happen to love George McDonald's writing, so I gave Universalism a serious look. In the end, parables like the wheat and the tares closed the book on everything else for me. God saves only and all of His own.

So, to your questions. Here is the fruit of my labor and prayer:
> 1) 1 Tim 4:10 God is the Savior of ALL (my emphasis) humans; especially believers.
>John 3:16 God loved the cosmos (actual translation) so He gave His only Son.......

In Timothy, there are elect who are not yet believers. They will be before the end, though, and God is saving us all together - some first and some last. In John, the cosmos is best pictured as the perfect cosmos at the end of time, with all things set to rights. He loves that future, perfect cosmos and so He loves this present cosmos. I know these interpretations are awkward to hear for the first time, but the scripture works wholistically from this point of view, even if these verses seem awkward at first.

> 2) Another question: If Jesus died on the cross for all of our sins, is the sin of unbelief the only unforgivable sin?

A1) In the "all are saved" view, there is no unforgivable sin, so isn't this a trick question?

A2) Nonetheless, Jesus paid for EVERY sin of His elect on the cross, and none else beside. Again, it's awkward to hear for the first time, but the scripture works wholistically from this point of view.

> If Jesus died on the cross for us, was His work complete if we must be the cause of our own salvation...in that WE have to believe in order to be saved.

Again, it is for this reason Calvinists have long argued that logical Arminianism does not really exist.

You are hot in the middle of an argument that pursued with an open mind led me inexhorably to God's sovereignty. I hope it opens up a new, wide world of God's majesty for you as well. It's in the fire of such questions that we meet Him best. May the Lord bless your search.

Don R said...

CP- " it's awkward to hear for the first time, but the scripture works wholistically from this point of view."

Sorry brother, I have thought about this for a while, and I have no idea what you're talking about. I have really tried to figure where you're coming from and where you're going, but alas, I'm dumbfounded. Guess you gone beyond my simple mind. None of the verses you (through Karen's quote) quoted are new to me. I think I understand them. I just don't see your the point you're trying to make. I think I'm going to bow out of this discussion since I feel it has reached a d'nouement. Thanks for the opportunity for the dialogue. Blessings to all.

Barbara (aka Layla) said...

happy birthday! If it's not your birthday let me know, my calendar says "Karen's B-day" and you are the only Karen I know! Hope its a good one! This looks like a great post I will be back to read it soon.

Missy said...

Yes, it's the big day. Hooray, hooray!! I now count you on my short list of very special friends - you are a treasure who only increases in value with age. I pray that this day, and most of the days to come bring you great happiness - and that you have somewhere over 18,000 more days left to enjoy them!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Kansas Bob said...

I have been wondering what salvation looks like when viewed from a timeless existence. Seems that all of life past, present and future would fold together. Viewing one's life from this timeless perspective would allow you to know how one's response today would affect them tomorrow because you would see them in whole rather than in part. It would also allow one to be chosen 'yesterday' based on one's actions 'tomorrow' because there is no difference between them. Not that I have anything but questions about this :(

karen said...

Yeahm thank yoo...it's my birthday. The big FIVE OH.

CP...I added the missing parts of the elder story. The other points you make...I'll get back! I appreciate all of you being civil! By the way...they weren't challenges, brother...just questions. I gotta come back....off to get my birthday coffee!!

Don R said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you, Karen...Not sure how well I remember 50!!

codepoke said...

Happy B'day, Karen. :-)

(Now to read your additions.)

codepoke said...

Reading assignment: check!

Regarding challenges, they are always good. But I did not mean that you were challenging me directly, or anything, just that you were challenging the different hypotheses in your head. I hope I didn't come off as oppositional.

Regarding the story, I still don't know whether to think of what happened to your friends as a rejection. To me it sounds like one of those hard lines to walk, is all. My sympathies to the lady who was not allowed to serve, though.

codepoke said...

Don R,

Sorry to seem elusive. I believe in God's sovereign predestination of those who will be saved. The verses with which Karen is engaged are the crux of the issue in a lot of ways. Most Arminians believe those verses to prove that ANY CAN be saved. Universalists uniformly believe those verses to prove that ALL WILL be saved. Calvinists tend to get beaten about the ears by both camps on these verses, so I tried to acknowledge that fact right off the bat.

karen said...

Okay, CP...(your explanations seem reasonable)
Why would God predestinate only some to be saved? Doesn't He create and love everyone?
I actually put the John 3:16 in there as a counter to everyone being saved...as it states that 'whosoever believes in Him'

Kansas Bob said...

Guess no one is biting on my 'timeless' comment ... not sure if it is Calvinistic or Arminian but it does make sense to me - I think?

codepoke said...

Karen,

The parable of the wheat and the tares reverses the order of everything. It says God planted His living seeds - THEN - the enemy came along and planted tares among them.

God planned to save 6 billion people (to pick a random, optimistic number). Then Satan threw in another 10 billion weeds. In God's world, His cosmos, there never were more than 6 billion people. They were the ones He purposed from before the beginning, and the ones who came along later were just allowed to grow alongside His own. They get to enjoy a moment in the sun, and then they are gone.

God told Eve that due to their sin, her conceptions would be multiplied. Nothing else makes sense to me.

codepoke said...

KB,

You know, I don't see where that solves any problems. Yes, God is outside time. He sees the end and the beginning as one, and He knows both perfectly because they are the same to Him. It's rather as if someone were to suggest that I didn't know how a yardstick ended. Of course I know how a yardstick ends, I'm holding the whole thing right now, and it ends right at inch #36, just like it has to to be of any use.

So, God knows who gets saved, because He sees it from before the beginning.

But what does that really explain?

Did God make the crucial decision in my salvation, or did I? God knows the outcome, but it's the process that's really at issue.

God interacts with time. As He sees the beginning and the end, He is also seeing His interventions in time. Is His intervention to put the good news out there and hope someone responds? Or does He directly intervene in some of our lives in ways that He doesn't intervene in others? Who holds the ball in the matter of salvation? God or man?

And that's the critical question in this matter of universal salvation. God knows whether all are saved, but if they are, then God is meddling in a big way.

Of course, I believe God meddles, and that all still aren't saved. Kind of a hard sell.

Kansas Bob said...

I guess I'll comment on CP's comment on my comment in Karen's new post :)