Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Story of Jesse's Party

A: Hey, how is it going?
B: Pretty good! What are you up to?
A: Oh, I’ve just been busy organizing a welcome home party for Jesse.
B: Really? That’s awesome! What do you have planned?
A: Well, everyone in town will be there, we’ll have a massive chocolate cake, get a couple bands to play, and have a dance in the evening. It will be so much fun!
B: Oh... wait a second. I think I am confused. Which Jesse is this for?
A: Jesse, the guy how had lived here years and years ago but then left to devote his life to humanitarian causes. Who were you thinking of?
B: Well, it sounds like the same Jesse– the guy who built the shelter and orphanage in town, did the humanitarian thing and is supposed to be coming back soon.
A: Yeah, we are thinking of the same guy. Why?
B: He would hate that party.
A: What are you talking about?
B: Err... let me take a step back. Did you know him before he left?
A: No, I learned about him afterwards from some people and I’ve looked at a few of the letters he has written and I am a huge fan of his.
B: So he hasn’t directly called you or anything else, right?
A: No... why?
B: Well, I am like you. I haven’t met him or directly talked to him but I’ve read all his letters and some of the stuff his original friends wrote and, quite honestly, he would hate everything about that party.
A: How can you say that? He would love it.
B: First of all, he is deathly allergic to chocolate!
A: Oh, come on, everyone loves chocolate cake and I know he would love it too! It wouldn’t be a party without it.
B: His friends, who wrote a biography about him, talked how he almost died as a kid from a chocolate chip!
A: Oh those are just rumours. That is not for sure.
B: Umm... His friends said he was allergic... why would they lie about it? And anyways, how can you know that he isn’t?
A: They probably just misunderstood what happened or you just heard it wrong. Everyone loves chocolate.
B: I’m not saying that he wouldn’t love chocolate, just that it wouldn’t want his birthday cake made out of it because he couldn’t eat any of it without dying a pretty horrid death!
A: Are you trying to ruin my party?
B: No, no, no, you are taking this the wrong way. It just isn’t what Jesse would like. I don’t want him to be upset with you. And even the fact that you are inviting everyone. Didn’t you hear about why he left town in the first place?
A: Yeah, it was because he wanted to help poor people elsewhere.
B: But there was more to it. He built the homeless shelter and the orphanage and some of the other buildings in this town but even with his work, most of the town drove him off.
A: Okay, now that is not true. Everyone loves him!
B: Look it up yourself! While he was helping out, people got really upset with him because all his volunteer work made them look bad. Then, when he used to hold the outdoor lectures, he almost had a mob go after him after he pointed out how selfish and arrogant they were. They drove him off!
A: I don’t believe you. If that was the case, why do so many people talk about him? Hmm? The town loves him!
B: They obviously haven’t read any of his letters! After he left, he wrote to some of his friends about how superficial and selfish most of the town is. He outright said that he hated how they acted. The whole town is still filled with the same types of people and it is pretty clear that he wouldn’t want to spend his welcome-home evening with them.
A: I’ve read some of his letters and he said nothing like that!
B: ... Okay, give me a second. Here, I have one of his letters in my bag to his friend Jeff, let me just take a look. Errr... yeah, right here: “... glad to see that they haven’t kicked you out yet. That entire town (you and our other friends excluded) is completely messed up. How they act is downright evil.”
A: Jesse would NEVER say that about anyone! How dare you say that!
B: Whoa! I’m just reading what he wrote to his friends. Look for yourself.
A: That is a lie! He would never say that. That letter must be wrong.
B: No, it isn’t. After Jeff got the letter, he copied it a few times and sent it to the rest of his friends. They then made their own copies and passed them around. I wanted to make sure myself, so a year or two ago, I checked my copy against a whole bunch of different ones and they all said the same thing.
A: Maybe Jeff changed it then, because I know Jesse and that is not something he would ever say.
B: Okay, wait a second. Jeff knew him; they were childhood friends. Even the friends Jeff sent the letter to first knew Jesse personally. If Jeff changed it, they would have said something.
A: Well, it got messed up one way or another. I know Jesse.
B: But how?
A: I know him. My friends all talk about him and that is not something that Jesse would say.
B: But your friends didn’t know Jesse personally, right? It is pretty obvious that your friends haven’t read his letters either...
A: Listen, if you can’t be nice about things then just leave. I didn’t ask for your advice anyways. And what does this all matter anyways? You know Jesse one way, I know him another. I just want to focus on how loving he is and celebrate that with the whole town. Can’t we just accept that we are both friends of his and leave this?
B: But you are friends with a person who doesn’t exist and from what you say, you definitely don’t like who he really is. If you read his letters, he talks about how he does love people but he also talks about how he hates those who do wrong and how they deserve to be punished.
A: That is just your interpretation of it. I don’t interpret what he wrote like that.
B: What? How can you interpret him saying those exact words as something else?
A: Like I said, that is just your interpretation. Anyways, I don’t want to talk about this anymore. I have a lot of work left to do to organize the party.
B: But the party is a party you would like, not what he would like. Do you even realize how absurd and asinine that is?

[posted by Warren Rempel]

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Eternal life is knowing Jesus

Apparently Meera felt that this comment was 'disrespectful', so I'm reproducing it here:

Hey Jacinda,

Just a heads up that Warren is very much aware of the idea of faith as knowing God. I'm sure he would agree with every word that I wrote here:

http://alwaysonenote.blogspot.com/2008/10/jesus-is-life.html

"From my study on John 13:33-14:6, delivered October 9, 2008:
Have you ever thought of the absolute and complete ignorance and foolishness of suggesting that someone can have eternal life apart from Christ? To make a statement like this, and I do not think that I am putting it too strongly, is damning. To say, “there is eternal life in Jesus Christ, and there is also eternal life apart from Him” is to completely and profoundly misunderstand the nature of eternal life. Eternal life is to know God, and to know Jesus. Jesus is the life. The quality of this life is whatever it means to know Jesus Christ. The definition of eternal life is to exist in intimate relation and communion with the Truine God. If this is not your idea of eternal life – if your idea of eternal life consists merely in a lack of pain and a lack of suffering and all of your comforts being met, but, like Don Piper in 90 Minutes in Heaven, your idea of heaven is devoid of the intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ, the Lamb who was slain - if your heaven does not have this as its chief all-in-all joy, then whatever you are imagining and whatever you are looking forward to is not eternal life. Joy consists in looking upon God for eternity. I cannot overstate how serious this really is. Jesus is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life, and it could be no other way, for He is the Way precisely because He is the truth and the life, and if it were not so, we would have no hope of eternal life – only misery and loneliness and suffering and vanity. "

So I would point out that our 'religion' is communion with Jesus.

By the way, as a really quick side note - the Bible does say that God hates people. It also never says that God loves every single human being in the same way. To illustrate this point from marriage, Christ doesn't love the rest of the world the same way He loves His bride. Just like a husband shouldn't love other women the same way he loves his wife.

The key idea for reconciling this is federal headship.

Thanks for your clarifying thoughts, though, they were helpful.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The exclusivity of Christ

"From this point on there will be no turning back. Jesus is not giving his followers the option of simply adding his teaching to their already established religious beliefs. He is not inviting us to use his spiritual insights as a kind of seasoning to perk up our current bland religious diets. There is no room for syncretism, for blending a bit of Jesus with a bit of religious tradition as our path to God. Jesus invites the disciples to unplug from their religious identity so they can be fully engaged in their commitment to his new way.

This call to exclusivity is not unlike a marriage commitment. A single person cannot simply 'add' marriage to their already established life. Marriage, if it is to be properly understood and embraced, changes our lives in profound ways. Jesus does not function like a kind of spiritual consultant that we can hire to help us do a slightly better job in our current religious practices. He is a lover calling us to embrace him in an exclusive, committed, passionate relationship - a relationship with God himself that will make all other affiliations infinitely secondary. (pages 147-148)

...

Jesus intentionally puts all of us in a  position of decision. Will we reject all systems of salvation in favor of trusting his irreligious way?" (page 149)

...

"The Bible labels our problem sin, and this is good news, because sin can be straightforwardly dealt with through something called forgiveness." (page 237)

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21)"

"This message is called "the gospel," which means "good news." It is exactly that - good news. God has done the work of saving us from our own sin [egocentricity: self-centred rather than God-centred living (page 238)] and selfishness. He simply asks that we trust him on this - that we have faith in him (John 3:16-17)." (page 240)

Excerpts from The End of Religion, by Bruxy Cavey.

[side note: I do have significant issues with various parts of the book, so this isn't a blanket endorsement.]

...

John 7:7 
The world cannot hate you, but it hates me [Jesus] because I testify about it that its works are evil.

1 Corinthians 15:1-5
1  Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2  and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. 3  For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5  and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

1 Timothy 1:15 
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

Matthew 1:18-21
18  Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19  And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20  But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21  She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

Matthew 5:10-12
10  "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11  "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

John 15:18-23
18 "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19  If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20  Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21  But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22  If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23  Whoever hates me hates my Father also.

James 4:4-5
4  You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5  Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, "He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us"?

John 7:7 
The world cannot hate you, but it hates me [Jesus] because I testify about it that its works are evil.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Should we respect God-hating idolatry?

I think Warren has covered some ground on this already. Here's some additional thoughts that I had.

Meera said:

I had the amazing blessing today of being part of a multi-faith workshop held on campus for grad students. It was a panel discussion by 4 of the chaplains (Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian), on their views of the link between academia and faith.
Much of what I know about God, I learned by working at the Multi-faith Chaplains' Centre on campus. One of my closest mentors, Kelly Johnson, was the head chaplain there for the Pentecostal tradition, and another friend/mentor named Paul Verhoef is the Christian Reform chaplain. Both of them are shockingly open-minded (for their respective traditions), and many would consider them liberal thinkers although they would describe themselves as conservative in practice. Paul happened to be the one representing the Christian faith in this panel today.

Just a side note: Speaking generally in theological/religious/spiritual terms, why is 'open-mindedness' a virtue? What if, say, 'open-minded' is really just synonymous with 'undiscerning'?

Something that many people ask is how on earth can so many people who are passionate about their faith's tenets work together when they have different (often exclusive) faith backgrounds?

Why would we want to work together, for one thing? Other religions fundamentally reject the Christ. And they have entirely different goals.

Animism, for example, couldn't care less about researching scientific cures for HIV.

Islam requires the submission of everyone on earth to its teachings. That's not an objective I share. Nor one that I intend to contribute to in any manner.

I certainly won't assent to the Christless presuppositions underneath the idolatrous religions of the world. I love Jesus. He's my King. My God. And He is the only way, demanding complete allegiance, and repentance from all idolatry. (Thankfully, He bestows salvation freely, even giving faith itself).

Not only do the chaplains work together, they have fun together. I could happily sit down and enjoy a cup of tea with Tim Sampson (Buddhist chaplain), and we could chat away. It's based on a mutual respect. Khadijah Chmilovska (Muslim chaplain) said that she believes in order to work together, one must be willing to be broad-minded and recognize that although there may be ways in which your faith differs from someone else's, the other person has every right to believe what they do and to express that belief.

No, people do not have an objective moral right to believe whatever they want. The Christ commands them to believe in Him and to worship the true God, Yahweh, distinct from Allah, etc. alone. That our government may afford a legal right to believe whatever you want (well, as long as you don't really believe it) doesn't at all mean that people have a transcendent moral right to believe what they want. And we know what John (Jesus, if you take this as a continuation of the quote in verse 12) said:

John 3:18
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Moreover, voluntarism is a farce. People don't believe what they choose. They choose according to their beliefs. Belief is involuntary.

And we're culpable for what we believe.

Oren Steinitz(Jewish chaplain) reminded us that not everyone from even his own faith would be able to sit and discuss religion together, and that an orthodox priest may not even be willing to hear what he had to say. This of course exists in all of the faiths. Intolerance is not only present between religions but also within religions. I think one of the things that turns people off of religion is not exclusivity but the disrespect shown between religions so often. How many times has war occurred along religious lines? War on a grand scale as well as on a small scale, between friends. Bruxy Cavey writes:

One could argue that factors like economics, resources, liberty, and land are much greater causes of war. Moreover, why should the truth respect a lie? That's absurd.

"When a Samaritan shows up in the role of hero, all bets are off and all expectations are shattered. The Samaritans were not only considered to be outside of God's covenant people (and therefore no "neighbor" to a Jew), they were ancient enemies." (The End of Religion, p.114)

I want to review Cavey's book at some point now, but let's go over this right now.

Some background: There were two ways to travel to Galilee from Judea; one way was through Samaria. Some people have posed that Jews avoided the region, and while that may be true for the strict Jews, this appears to be speculation. Josephus, the Jewish historian, records that the route through Samaria was faster (a person would not need to cross the Jordan river twice). It may be just as likely that ordinary Jews could not be bothered to make the longer trip. In fact, Josephus records that “it was the custom of the Jews to pass through Samaria when they went up to Jerusalem for the feasts.” (Morris, the Gospel According to John, 225) Moreover, Josephus uses the same expression for “had to” [that is, in John 4] when he says, that “for rapid travel, it was essential to take that route.” (ibid., page 226). But we can see that Jesus traveled through here with purpose, given the events that follow: He doesn’t seem at all to be in a hurry, but rather compelled by divine design to minister beyond Jewish circles. This passage communicates that the salvation that comes in Jesus Christ is for the world, not just the Jews. And it was necessary that this be demonstrated.

A brief history of the Samaritans is helpful. Samaria can refer to a city or the region. In 722-721 B.C., the Assyrians captured the area, and they deported many Jews (2 Kg. 17-18). Those who remained in the area intermarried with the foreigners. Indeed, this is the group who appealed to the Jews in the time of Ezra, when they were rebuilding the temple, saying, “for we worship your God as you do, and we have been sacrificing to him ever since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria who brought us here." But the reply is telling, You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we alone will build to the LORD, the God of Israel” (Ezra 4:1-4). Around 400 B.C., the people of Samaria built a rival temple on Mount Gerizim. See, the Samaritans rejected the Old Testament, except for the Pentateuch, and there is some evidence that they may have had it in a somewhat modified form. From the Pentateuch, and given that they lacked any further revelation, they concluded that the place of true worship was Mount Gerizim, for reasons that we will not go into now. Now, if you read Deuteronomy you will notice a constant reference to the “the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name to dwell there.” (e.g. Deut. 26:2) The Samaritans thought this was Gerizim. So there was a rival idea of where true worship was to take place between the Jews and Samaritans, since the Jews believed (correctly) that worship was in Jerusalem. In the 2nd century B.C., this temple was destroyed. But the Samaritans still worshiped there.

Jesus is breaking custom in a large way by asking a Samaritan woman for a drink. It is recorded in the Mishnah, which is effectively a rather questionable Jewish commentary on the Old Testament, that “the daughters of the Samaritans are (deemed unclean as) menstruants from their cradle” (Morris, pg. 229) This is a rather pointed way of expressing their ceremonial uncleanliness. Not only so, but some Rabbis even held that to teach a woman the Torah was equivalent to teaching them prostitution, which is a striking concept given that they considered this to be the “greatest good in life.” (Morris, pg 242-243, note 67) Indeed, an ancient prayer that survives today is, “Blessed art thou , O Lord… who hast not made me a woman.” And, they considered speaking with women, even one’s own wife, to be an unhealthy diversion from studying the Torah, which in turn could lead a man to hell (Carson, pg. 227, Pirke Abothe 1:5). Women were considered inferior in every way. So, we can see that Jesus utterly disregards these unscriptural concepts and proceeds into conversation with this person, who is in herself the embodiment of all that should be avoided, especially for a Jewish Rabbi!

Hopefully the context of the time then shows some of the surprise in the woman’s expression, “How is it that you, a JEW, ask for a drink from me, a WOMAN of SAMARIA?” She captures the situation quite well. Samaritans were unclean half-breeds. He was a Jewish man. She was a woman. Hence, the expression, which the ESV opts to render, “For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.” While this is a fair translation, it is not the only possibility. After all, there is evidence that Samaritans and Jews associated, and even ate together (although on Jewish property). Jesus’ disciples were off buying food in a Samaritan town at the very moment! Solid foods did not necessarily transfer uncleanliness, so this is quite understandable (Carson, John, page 217; Morris, page 229, note 13). The issue had to do with the request for a drink. See, Jesus doesn’t have anything to draw water (verse 11), and the well is quite deep. He has to use her utensils, and Jews did not use Samaritan utensils, since this was unclean. Jesus isn’t like other men – where a normal man is made unclean by touching a leper, in so doing Jesus heals him! She has no idea who He is at this point. He seems to her to be only a thirsty Jewish man.

Jesus converses with her gently and firmly: The address, “Woman,” is a polite and affectionate one (perhaps “Madame” is better). So don’t think that He is speaking harshly. But He is holding nothing back. Remember that the Jews and Samaritans were engaged in a rivalry over the place of true worship. The Jews worshiped in Jerusalem, and the Samaritans on Gerizim. Morris points out that this is exemplified in a dialog: “[A man] was going up to Jerusalem to pray. He was walking past a plane tree (by Gerizim) where a Samaritan found him. He said to him, “Where are you going?” He answered, “I am going up to Jerusalem to pray.” The former said, “Would it not be better for you to pray in this blessed mountain rather than in that dunghill?” So this is the theological point of discussion that this woman brings up. Why bring it up? She wants to deflect to a sure theological debate so as to avoid talking about her uncomfortable love-life. It is easier to do that, isn’t it? “While we are on the topic my adultery, what about the true place of worship? Abraham et. al. worshipped here!” It isn’t much fun to have light shining on your sin!

But Jesus does two things here. First, He adamantly sides with the Jews. He tells her that ‘You (Samaritans) worship what you do not know.’ Notice that this says, “what,” it is not just that they do not know who they worship, but that they do not even know what they are doing in terms of their system of worship. The Psalmist says, “In Judah God is known, His name is great in Israel.” (Psalm 76:1). But they do not have the rest of God’s revelation. The Jews do, they were given it (Romans 9:1-5), entrusted with the oracles of God. They know the true Object of worship. The Jews are the vehicle of salvation for the world. Salvation is FROM the Jews. Notice that it is not only FOR the Jews, but comes FROM them. There is no other source of salvation. If one is to be saved, it will be through the salvation that is brought about through the vehicle of the Jewish people, which, as we know, is Jesus of Nazareth. And here He is teaching this salvation to a non-Jew!

Second, Jesus transcends the whole debate. Worship is not a matter of a physical place -- anymore. It is a matter of spirit and truth. Because the nature of God is spirit (this is not saying that God is a spirit), and His essential being is spirit, and not corporeal or physical, and not created, worship must be a matter of spirit, from the inward heart of man, from the spiritual faculty of man. In Christ, who is the true temple or dwelling place of God, there are no physical restrictions on worship, as there were in the old covenant. True children of God may worship God anywhere because the Son of God is their true place of worship, and He dwells with them through the Holy Spirit (John 14:23).

Look very carefully: Jesus says that worship must be in truth. These are not disconnected ideas: The ESV renders this properly by translating it “in spirit and truth.” The word ‘in’ governs both terms, joining them together. Ignorant worship will not do. The Samaritans are the embodiment of ignorance, they worship the One they do not know in the way they do not know, and Jesus is telling this woman that she needs to worship God in spirit, not on Mount Gerizim, and in truth, and not in the pretense of their system of worship. This is the most immediate backdrop of what NOT worshipping in truth looks like. God requires worshipers who worship in spirit and truth; that is, God is concerned with the whom and the how of worship. This is contrasted to both the Jews and the Gentiles. This worship transcends race and geography. And more than that, God is actively seeking these worshipers. His love does not idly sit by, hoping for worshipers. His goodness and mercy pursue true worshipers. Psalm 23:6: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow [pursue?] me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Jesus has used the woman’s evasion to preach the Gospel. She attempts to avoid the topic at hand, but Jesus uses this attempt to reinforce her desperate need – she must worship in spirit and truth, because God is spirit and must be worshiped as He has said. Remember that Jesus taught that one must be born of water and spirit to see and enter the kingdom of heaven. It is necessary that man’s worship comes from a heart indwelled with the Holy Spirit, the living water, and in that way it is done in spirit and truth.

Now, as for us, we do not get to invent our own idea of worship! God must be worshiped for who He truly is and what He has truly done in the manner He has truly specified! So, you should be thinking, I should probably find out what this means. Indeed, seek after God according to His Scriptures. Test yourself, test your presuppositions, test your traditions, and test your actions and your worship and your conceptions by the Scriptures. Discard what is unbiblical. Embrace what is true.

False religions are quite unbiblical.

What are the stereotypes that the story of the Good Samaritan shatters? This story is often quoted as being a reason for getting up off our backsides and helping the poor. But it also directly targets inter-faith dialogue and religious intolerance. Christians are notorious for religious intolerance.

Given the commentary above, this is a bad application of the parable of the good Samaritan, because Jesus Himself confronted the Samaritans about their ignorance of the truth in John 4. He flat out tells this woman:

John 4:21-22
21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

Now, would you say to these other religious leaders in the interfaith movement that they have do not know what they are doing, and tell them that salvation comes from the Jews in Christ alone? Would you then point out that the direct contrast to this lack of knowledge is worshiping in "spirit and truth" (one governing pronoun, not in spirit and in truth)?

It might also be noted that people were trying to get out of helping their neighbour by asking what a neighbour is in this parable. That seems more analogous to the deconstructionist tendencies of certain postmodern thinking. For example, if you say, "Stop sinning," one might reply, "What is sin?" Indeed, Jesus is teaching something very concrete here, that you have to know to be in the right.

Continuing...

And it's sad, because we know about this crazy truth, but we're often so rude to other people that they can't hear it. There is a significant difference between friendships that develop an open-minded curiosity about each other's faiths leading to a mutual questioning and potentially a mutual understanding about God, and a friendship where one person knows they're right and the other person is wrong, leading to a power struggle and arrogance in discourse.

This is a tacit denial that true Christians are the light of the world, and unbelievers are walking in darkness. Don't you see that this insults and demeans the work of the Holy Spirit in the church of Christ?

Jesus was advocating for us to realize that we are not always right, and it's not only people from our religion that please God. Rather, there are things we can learn from people in other religions. Does this make Christianity any less true, or Jesus any less of the unique way to forgiveness? No, it means that we must recognize that our understanding of God is meager at best, and although we are privileged to know some things about Him, we cannot assume we know all things.

i. We're definitely not always right theologically, but how is that in any way the subject of discussion in the parable of the Good Samaritan?

ii. No one de facto pleases God. The only ones who are pleasing to God are pleasing to Him in Christ, having been counted righteous through faith in Him with the very righteousness of God.

iii. How do you square learning truth from unbelievers (we're speaking in a spirituo-religious context here) with, say, this?

Ephesians 5:6-10
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not associate with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

Notice the contrast - darkness, light. Or how do you reckon with this?

Ephesians 4:15-18
15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. 17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.

There is nothing humble about Christians pretending that they do not have the light of the world, and trying to learn truth from those "darkened in their understanding" who are "alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance in them." To suggest otherwise is to call the work of the Spirit in believers an abject failure. True believers have everything to tell the world, which is stuck in darkness and ignorance.

Moreover, that we don't know God exhaustively doesn't mean we don't know Him sufficiently. Besides, it is God who teaches the believer to come to Christ, who gives the believer his faith in the first place, who causes him to obey. This is a major part of the definition of the new covenant promise.

Moving along:

One of the old ideas made new that Paul [V] brought up again is the concept that all truth is God's truth. So when you learn something about science that contradicts your understanding about God, one of those understandings is flawed. You have to be humble enough to accept that it may be your understanding about God, and faithful enough to question that understanding, knowing that God is the one who created the earth and isn't about to lie to you either through science or through the Bible.

I've been discussing this elsewhere. It seriously begs the question to say that God wouldn't lie through science or Scripture: After all, one is theopneustos, God-breathed, wherein every word proves true, and the other is in a regular state of flux. This notion that modern science is inspired is absurd.

Moreover, if you have to reject the actual meaning of the biblical text because of science, there is a much more serious problem here. And those Christians who try to anachrostically adapt the text to fit their 21st century conceptions are committing a gross abuse of God's word.

This idea was echoed by Oren. Khadijah pointed out that for the most part Islamic teachings stick to morality and don't have a lot of common ground with science so there aren't a lot of areas where science contradicts religion. And Tim talked about how Zen Buddhism often embraces contradictions and doesn't see a need to resolve them.

Is this an endorsement of either of these two ideas?

For example, non-contradiction is an element of the character of God. To bring it to a real practical level, we depend on this for our very lives and salvation. If God has no problem with contradiction, He cannot be trusted.

Anyways, it was great to be back there today, I've missed the chaplaincy since I stopped working there and I am always so encouraged by the staff. I definitely believe there was value in hearing from all of the religious teachers today, and I learned something from each of them that instead of breaking down my faith, helped build it up. I believe that if the Church wants to be taken seriously, it has to embrace people not only by gender and race but also by religion, and learn to respect other traditions as having value to contribute also.

What does 'taken seriously' mean? We don't expect to be loved and received by the world. We expect to be hated, to be beaten, to be imprisoned, to be killed, to be rejected, to be scorned and mocked and insulted and considered fools.

So to which one will this happen? Will it happen to the one who embraces different faiths dynamically as he encounters them, looking for common ground and praising the good in them, and respecting them? Or will it happen to the one who proclaims the exclusivity of Christ and the world's desperate need for Him alone, and the damnation of those who follow other false religions?

Please try this: Go to the other faith-leaders in the office. Plea with them to turn from their false gods and believe in Christ Jesus for salvation from their sins; tell them that they do not know what they are doing, and that God has fixed a day when He will judge the world by Jesus Christ, and that if they do not believe in Him, the Son of God, the Christ, who died for sinners and was raised from the dead, and if they do not love Him and call upon Him to be saved, they will receive the fire of judgment and horrid eternal punishment. If they turn to Him, they shall find rest for their souls, eternal satisfaction and joy in Him, and an eternity gazing on the beauty and glory of God.

***

Jacinda said:

Wow, what a great discussion. To all interested I encourage you to listen to The Meeting House podcast on these topics of judgement, Heaven on Earth, Hell, and In the meantime. The series is called Beyond the Grave.
I think that a great point in this series is that we cannot judge others of their salvation. We can assure that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father, but we cannot assure specific people of how they will be judged. That is not for us to do or even know. Only God has the infinite knowledge needed to judge. Only He can see our hearts AND our actions as well as our motives, minds, etc.

Jacinda, this isn't so much a great point as perhaps a distortion of truth.

First, what do you mean by 'saved?' Salvation entails a lengthy process with several key events, namely, regeneration, justification, which is followed by the process of sanctification.

Second, we certainly can assure people regarding how they will be judged, speaking generally. We can tell people that if they believe in Jesus Christ, believing that He is the Son of God who came in the flesh, who died for the sins of everyone who believes and rose again in victory, and is now judge and lord over all things, then they shall be saved - if they hold fast to the end to Christ. If they love the Lord Jesus Christ, as He is biblically revealed, they will be saved. If they do not, or if they turn from this, they are not, and they will stand condemned.

Third, in terms of specific professing believers: We know a tree by its fruit, as Jesus taught. Consider also John's teaching, wherein he told us how we might recognize false teachers, and false spirits: Notice that he's telling non-apostles to practice this. We are told the condition for salvation - persevering belief, which is abiding in Christ. True belief and a vital (living, nourishing) connection with Christ therein produces fruit as defined by the Scriptures.

The idea that we cannot judge someone's salvation doesn't follow from the fact that we do not know everything - or even if we know very little - if it is true that God has revealed clear conditions for salvation. And He has. If a person fails the condition - for example, belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, that He died and rose from the dead, which manifests in fruit-bearing and belongs to a heart with a supreme affection for Christ and the truth - then we know that this person is not saved. There are times when a believer is backsliding when they may not have cause for assurance. But this isn't to be the normative experience.

Even Paul spoke this way:

Philippians 1:3-7
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.

Notice that Paul isn't appealing to some specific divine revelation in verse 5-7. He's looking at the conduct of the Philippians: Their continual 'partnership in the gospel', their partaking in grace, etc.

This is the same as with the Colossians. Yet, Paul hadn't been to Colossae when he wrote this:

Colossians 1:3
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing--as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf 8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

Paul is writing this based on a report from Epaphras regarding the church. He made known to them their love in the Spirit. Paul heard of their faith in Christ and their love for the saints. Paul heard a report of a living faith, and concluded that they do indeed have a "hope laid up" in heaven.

He judged them by their fruit. We can too. If we see a professing believer who lacks fruit, who persists in unrepentant sin, we can tell him that he has no basis for assurance. He must turn to Christ.

Fourth, from a positive perspective, you may be implicitly denying the certainty and perspicuity of God's promises. God expected His people to understand promises that He gave to Jews thousands of years ago. The sword cuts both ways. If we have no way of knowing if a person is not saved, then we have no way of knowing that a person is saved. If the promises are not clear enough to cling to, and the fruit isn't clear enough to identify, how can we know how to be saved, and how can we test ourselves? How can we know when to admonish one another? How can we know to avoid false teachers?

How can we mere humans claim to know everything about the Creator? We should be thankful for the glimpses he gives us of our future in the New heaven and Earth.
His ways are not our ways. His ways are mysterious.

No one claims to know everything about God. That's a straw man. I've never met anyone that claimed that.

But this gets to the issue - sometimes it seems that those who erect this straw man seem to use the transcendence of God to deny His immanence. They use what we do not know of God to trump what God has clearly revealed of Himself.

That things are secret, and others given to us, is clear, and should be enough for Christians.

Deuteronomy 29:29
The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Paul picks up this principle by proclaiming the sufficiency (not exhaustiveness) of Scripture for our lives in 2 Timothy 3:12-17.

God's ways are mysterious in many ways, but they are also clear in others. He has, for example, revealed to us His purposes in the Son of God. Indeed, we trust His purposes when the particulars of a tough situation are unknown to us. We don't know exactly what He is doing everywhere at every time, but we know that He is, as one promise says, working all things for His purpose, i.e. the good of those who love Him, to the glory of God.

But God is also wonderfully predictable. He is a covenant God, a God who keeps His promises. A God who doesn't lie. Who cannot lie. A God who is wonderfully and predictably faithful to every word that He has spoken.

Later, you'll talk about relationship quite a bit, in fairly sentimental terms. But if you're going to relate, you have to know the other party in some degree. Do we know God sufficiently?

(I should note that, up to about the halfway mark in his book, I'm getting the impression that Cavey seems to think that we can know Christ sufficiently and clearly. It's his constant presupposition, in trying to undo religion. He's basing his whole argument on knowing who Jesus is in a very unmysterious manner. Indeed, in very propositional terms. e.g. Jesus is God. And he's said already that God is revealed in the Son. Ergo, you know the Son, you know God. Sufficiently. But maybe he'll change my understanding of his view in the last half of his book... that would, though, undercut his whole thesis.)

So can we trust God's promises or not? Is God so mysterious that He isn't predictably faithful to what He has said? What about the fact that the NT depicts the mystery of God as being revealed, namely, the revelation of God in Jesus Christ? You may well be diminishing this revelation. What if God is really a cosmic fiend, playing games with us? Is He such a mystery that we can't know? If we can't sufficiently know His character, then how can we have any hope? We'd be reduced to the caprice of Allah.

Repeatedly throughout the Old Testament we are told how things look from God's perspective, by the formula, "in the sight of the Lord" and the like.

So I think this 'mystery' is really a cop-out when it is used like this. Ask yourself - do you call things mystery when you do not understand them, assuming that there is no answer, and anyone who might say he has an answer is arrogant? Or,do you go so far as to call things mystery when you do not like then, things that, say, wouldn't gel with North American sensibilities - even when it is quite understandable?

This is a serious question for everyone. Mystery can become a license for godless unholiness in a big hurry.

There is a big difference between confidence in what is sufficiently revealed and speculations about what is not revealed. Determining the difference takes serious biblical study, and whether something has biblical and a reasonable basis determines what form our thinking will take.

I do not think everyone is EVIL. We are God's creation, and His favorite of all His creations. We bear both God's image (not evil) and sinful nature.

i. The Gospel is a command to all men everywhere.

Act 17:30
30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead."

The command is to repent. Notice the result of failing to repent. Judgment in righteousness.

This presupposes the wickedness of every single person.

ii. Paul points out that all sinned in Adam's sin.

Romans 5:12-18
12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned-- 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. ...
18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

That "so death spread to all men because all sinned" means "in this way." In what way? In Adam's one sin. That's how death spread. Why? Because all sinned. How is that? Because they all sinned in Adam's sin. I can go into this in further depth if needed.

But the imputation of righteousness depends on this same federal headship, which is why Christ is called the second Adam. We are all damned sinners in Adam because He is our head, our representative. And he rebelled.

iii. Jesus called even His own disciples evil. And He said "no one is good but God."

Matthew 7:11
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

iv. How sinful are we as individuals? The Bible speaks much on this.

Jeremiah 13:23
Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.

We have seen already that we are all evil by imputation. We are all accustomed to doing evil, since our every intention is evil all the time. Our hearts produce evil, and our desires lure and entice us to wickedness, and we willingly commit wanton evil. We are all accustomed to doing evil. We cannot change our skin color at will, nor can the leopard move or remove his spots. They are part of his being, he was formed that way. We cannot do good. It is impossible for us because evil is our nature. What a horrible plight! And this is not all!

After contrasting a wicked man against a man who trusts in the Lord, Jeremiah makes an assertion about the human heart.

Jeremiah 17:9
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Do not read this and think that this is a sickness that can recover. The term ‘desperately sick’ means ‘incurable.’ That is the sense to perceive here, as the NASB captures, and the word ‘desperately’ is meant to in the ESV. Our hearts are deceitful, wicked, depraved, and know nothing but evil all the time apart from the work of God to give us a new heart. We are wicked from birth and incurable. We need a transplant.

The Teacher instructed us, in the midst of lamenting over the pointlessness of man, and the evil in the reality that both the righteous and evil meet the same earthly fate, regarding this topic.

Ecclesiastes 9:3
Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.

The Old Testament is not the only place that has teaching on evil.

Ephesians 2:1-3
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-- 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

I have read statements of faith at many churches that say mankind is ‘marred’ by sin. Such a term may be partially responsible (or representative, at least) for the underestimation of the human condition in most evangelical teaching that I have encountered. Most of it serves to elevate man, and in so doing diminishes God, by explicitly or implicitly reducing the impact of the Biblical teaching on the sinfulness of man, and for the sake of pragmatism and supposed ‘seekers!’

Paul did not say we are ‘marred.’ He summed up our unsaved condition in a single word: Dead. We are not spiritually marred, or hurt, as if we just need “healing.” We need a new heart, we need new life. To be dead in sin is to be unable to respond in any way to good. We cannot produce it – people who are dead in body produce no movement, no breath, nothing. So too is the condition of man apart from Jesus Christ. We are (were) all completely incapable of anything except that which is sin. We are as capable of goodness as a corpse is of life. We are as capable of being wicked as a corpse is of being dead. To be ‘dead’ in sin is, ironically, to ‘live’ in the passions of our flesh, and to follow continually, with our whole faculty of being, the desires that James spoke of. Living in those desires is the mark of spiritual deadness. Everyone who has not received mercy through Jesus Christ is dead together. We have seen that man’s intentions and thoughts are evil all the time. We have seen that we cannot do good any more than the leopard can change his spots. We have seen that we are totally dead in sin - and this is far from an extensive survey of the extent of the wickedness of man as taught by the Bible.

Our whole being has been touched by sin. However, we are not as evil as we could be, for God restrains our sin (cf. Genesis 20:6). We are not nearly as evil as we could be should our natures be left unrestrained: Every good and perfect gift comes from God, including the grace of what lateral (human to human) goodness we express (cf. James 1:16-18). In a sinful state, our problem is vertical evil – that is, our rebellion to God even in the externally morally upright things we do for one another. Serving the creature, but not doing so for the sake of the Creator, who is infinitely more valuable, is worthless and sinful before God. Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin (Romans 14:23).

When it is said that our whole being is touched by sin, it is meant that our mind, spirit, soul, and body are all perverted by sin. There is ample Scripture to demonstrate that all our faculties are affected, such that we are sinful to the core of our being.

The Universality of Sin: To tie things together, we can look to the apostle Paul’s teaching on man’s condition. In the greatest letter ever written, the book of Romans, Paul begins with a multi-chapter dissertation on the evil state of mankind. We find this in chapter 3:

Romans 3:9-18
9 For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they ave become worthless; no one does good, not even one." 13 "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips." 14 "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." 15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 in their paths are ruin and misery, 17 and the way of peace they have not known.", 18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes."

There is no one who has escaped sin. Everyone sins (cf. 2 Chronicles 6:36; 1 Kings 8:46). The language of this passage of Romans is unmistakable. Paul is emphasizing the human condition of sinfulness to demonstrate how, even while we are sinners, Christ justifies the believer through faith. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The apostle John wrote regarding this:

1 John 1:8
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

The extent of sin is this – this is the verdict: Every person is sinful, and beyond cure. Every human is dead in transgressions. Apart from God giving us a new heart and breathing into us new life, and causing us to repent and believe, we are doomed to destruction and eternal punishment. The universality of sin is not a new concept. Paul is in fact quoting several Psalms in this passage. There is still more:

Ecclesiastes 7:20
Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.

Psalm 143:2
Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you.

Proverbs 20:8-9
8 A king who sits on the throne of judgment winnows [disperse, cast away] all evil with his eyes. 9 Who can say, "I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin"?

Isaiah 53:6
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

The Psalmist rightly laments:

Psalm 130:3-4
3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.

We are in a lot of trouble. Unless God forgives us, we cannot stand before Him. Take note that forgiveness is granted that God may be feared. He does not forgive us as an end in itself for our sake, but for His name’s sake (cf. Psalm 25:11; 31:3; 79:9; 106:8; 143:11; Isaiah 48:9; 1 John 2:12; Romans 1:5, etc). That concept is not remotely in question.

So why is it that a North American Christian thinks that he can overturn 2000 years of church history and biblical teaching? Christians since the earliest time have recognized that every human being is evil by nature.

Jesus Himself taught this. The apostles taught this. The command for everyone everywhere to repent and turn to Christ presupposes this. The universal condemnation of man proves this.

Please, think about this - how far off track from Scripture are you willing to go?

Moreover, do you think you're not evil? I honestly don't think you'd say that. Who isn't evil, then?

I think that it's easy to think people aren't evil in a prosperous land. They can hide it so well. They have no desperate pressure upon them to forego societal conformity.

The real problem here, though, is a view that will in turn result, whether by implication or in time, in a low view of God, namely, a sub-biblical view of His holiness, which in turns depreciates the extent of His mercy and grace, and a high view of man.

I'm personally convinced that a majority of theological error comes from this very notion - that people are not evil.

I'm pleading with you to reject this teaching. You will undercut every teaching in Scripture with this, from the character and holiness of God to the reason that Christ came, to the necessity of the Gospel.

This isn't a game of words on a blog: It is life and death. I'm not joking. Please, please reject this and repent of it.

And by the way, I'm a firm believer in the Imago Dei.

Knowing Christ doesn't just come with being a Christian. It is a journey, its a relationship. When you fall in love with someone you desire to be as close as possible, to know as much as possible about them. How? You ask questions, you talk, you struggle. You find new perspectives, realizing new things that were unexpected, surprising. You think you know them then, smack, something totally different comes up, you work through that. You fall even deeper in love. But all the time learning more then you ever thought possible. The more you find out, the more you realize there's so much more you don't know yet. Is this not the same as falling in love with Jesus?

i. I don't think this description is accurate. I do believe that eternal life it knowing God - relationally speaking, not merely cognatively - and that one must love Him more than anything. But before we even get to that, there's a bigger problem. You deny the universal sinfulness of man, that all men everywhere are by nature evil. This is such a massive misapprehension of biblical teaching that your understanding of Christ is fundamentally distorted.

ii. Every person doesn't get their own "Jesus". If someone thinks he can know Jesus apart from Scripture, then he has invented his own christ. A false christ. All Christians look to the same Christ in the same way - as He has been revealed in the Scriptures. That all men are evil is an explicit biblical teaching. You need to reckon with it to understand Jesus and who He is and why He came and what He did.

Even Cavey makes this point [i.e. that you need to reckon with the Jesus of the Bible to know Him] over and over in his book. I have serious issues with his theology, but it is a vital point nonetheless.

I trust that you know that this includes obedience to the apostles, for they spoke the word of God, under the commission of Christ Himself.

iii. This is all empty talk unless you submit to what God has revealed to His church and what she has held throughout the centuries, such as the sinfulness of man, and so forth.

iv. Is Christ God? If so, is He knowable, or too mysterious? If He is God, and knowable, than we can clearly and sufficiently know God.

I should note that relational knowledge presupposes intellectual knowledge on a number of fronts. This is especially so when one party, namely God, makes known particular things about Himself. Especially since His teaching methodology was well formed for memorization.

I do believe in the living Jesus. The risen Jesus. The Jesus who perfectly reveals the Father and makes Him known. The whole life of Jesus is the revelation of the Father. Jesus did all and only the works of the Father and He said all and only the words of the Father, and He alone makes the Father known (there's a massive theme from John). I believe in and love the Jesus who said:

John 15:15
"No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.

God is not keeping His people in the dark. A view that God is so hyper-transcendence that He cannot be clearly known - and that doesn't mean exhaustively - is ironically more akin to second and third century gnostic teaching than anything else.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Knowing Jesus without knowing "Jesus"?

Jesse said:

The name and essence of Jesus Christ goes beyond the the letters J-e-s-u-s. He is love, peace, joy, sacrifice, he is messiah, he is God. You think just because we know his enlgish translated name, we are his only sheep?
In Galatians Paul was urging his followers to stop retreating back to the Law of their previous lives. Today the name of Jesus Christ has been mutated into a new theology of law and works, instead of the hope it was intended to give.
Many may very well believe in Jesus Christ and have him in their heart. They may know his love, his peace, and his joy, but may not even know the five letter word.
I am not talking of a universalism where we are all saved, I am simply saying we do not know who his sheep are.
I am aware that the only way to understanding Christ is through the Word of God. But you may want to start thinking holistically about that as well.

Jesse said:

"Knowing Jesus without Knowing the words:

Warren Rempel said...
"Jesse, you suggest that someone who does not know Jesus can be his sheep"

No, I am suggesting that someone can know Jesus Christ, without knowing the linguistic word.
I have a friend named Jesus (Hesuez) who lives down the street. I do not worship him, nor do I think he is a false God who has come to deceive the world. He is just a dude with the same name.
Believing in who Jesus Christ is, what his name represents, and who we are in him (which is why I quoted Galatians previously) is what is important, not his specific linguistic name."

Jesse, what exactly are you trying to say here? Are you suggesting that someone who has never heard the message of salvation in Christ Jesus alone through His death and resurrection and His command to repent and believe in Him can be saved?

Let's run through this:

1) Everyone who believes (abides, to the end) in Christ has eternal life. That is, everyone who believes that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ, dead and risen for sins, will have eternal life; i.e. he is saved.

2) Everyone who does not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ, dead and risen for sins, everyone who does not believe in Him, is condemned already.

3) Whoever knows Jesus has eternal life because eternal life is to know Jesus.

4) Given (3) everyone who believes knows Jesus. Everyone who does not believe does not know Jesus.

5) No one can believe without hearing. Hearing comes from the word of God. The word of God doesn't come to a person without the word being preached.

6) Ergo, no one who has not heard and accepted the preached Good News of (1) does not know Jesus.

7) The Gospel is preserved to us in the Scriptures (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:1-6). Anyone who has not heard and accepted this message is condemned already. This message is composed of words.

Believing in the true Jesus presupposes assent and submission to the truth of who He is. We know who He is from the Scriptures. Rejecting some or all of the Jesus of the Bible means that one does not know who He is.

Jesse said:

Romans 1:20
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

"(Even those who do not know the specific name Jesus Christ)"

This passage speaks of what is sufficient to condemn a person. This knowledge here isn't enough to save. It doesn't provide the Gospel. The knowledge of Christ is sufficient to save, this passage is not giving that.

So what actually are you trying to prove from this passage? What are you saying?

Are you saying, in saying this...

"Believing in who Jesus Christ is, what his name represents, and who we are in him"

... that a person can believe in who Jesus Christ is without knowing intellectually anything about Him, can know what His name represents without having known the Jesus of the Bible or having agreed with the truth of the Scriptures? Can a person know Jesus while rejecting the Jesus of the Bible? Can a person just have some sense of certain gifts or attributes of Christ while caring nothing for His work and person and yet be said to know Him savingly?

Maybe that's not what you intend... Would you be able to clarify?

Thanks.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Abortion debates aren't an academic exercise

I saw this comment posted on this:

I'm so very torn on whether or not this will actually go through, despite the fact that I am personally against the display and the tactics used by CPL.

I don't believe in scaring people or provoking them to see your point of view, it's just unprofessional and despite what they say, very unacademic.

But is this actually Freedom of Speech, or is it spreading hate?

I'm writing this because the tragedy of abortion cannot be overstated. It pains my heart greatly. Man does not have the de facto right to take the God-formed life of a person who has broken no human law and has done nothing to warrant the forfeiture of his life at human hands. Only God has the right to command the taking of life. There is probably no greater moral wickedness in the relations of mankind than for mothers and fathers to utterly invert their parental duty and take the life of their offspring because their children are burdensome. Abortion is fundamentally an affront to the Lordship of Christ and the holiness of God, as it is a rebellious act that presumptuously seeks to put oneself in the place of God as autonomous in authority over the life of another.

Here's some questions:

1) Do you think that anyone would get charged with trespassing for rallying opposition to, say, genocide in Rwanda, etc. by putting up gruesome pictures of what's going on?

2) Is it hateful to plea for the lives of people who can't plea for their own? Is it hateful to plea for the lives of people who are torn to shreds because they're an inconvenience?

Not that I endorse all tactics, but at what point did those who uphold the preservation of life and the defence of the weakest get slandered as hateful, while those who defend baby-slaughter were counted as loving?

3) Do you think this is just an 'academic' exercise?

Whether or not you agree with the method and its effectiveness, this is a matter of life and death. 43+ million people have been aborted in the United States since the 70's. Over 950+ million have been killed worldwide.

If you could ask them now, they probably wouldn't feel hated by the protesters. Though, they would certainly feel hated by someone.

The good news of the atoning death and vindicating resurrection of Jesus Christ commands everyone everywhere - all sinners - to repent, to turn from their sins, even sins such as abortion, and believe in Him for forgiveness and righteousness and eternal life. May the Gospel deliver our nations from this evil, draw us all in repentance to the grace of God in Christ Jesus, and may He give us the grace to present the redemption in Christ to the men and women who have either murdered their children or who desire to do so.

Oh that parents would not wish for the death of their offspring. May the women - and men - who have had their babies killed find rest for their aching souls in the forgiveness that is in Christ Jesus, flowing from a grace sufficient in its magnificent manifestation to propitiate and expiate and cover even this horrid sin.

And may the church preach that message.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Parents told to uphold genocide to save the planet

HT: Be fruitful and multiply.

More tragic lunacy from the religion of environmentalism. From Time:

"Couples who have more than two children are being “irresponsible” by creating an unbearable burden on the environment, the government’s green adviser has warned. 

Jonathon Porritt, who chairs the government’s Sustainable Development Commission, says curbing population growth through contraception and abortion must be at the heart of policies to fight global warming. He says political leaders and green campaigners should stop dodging the issue of environmental harm caused by an expanding population."

Abortion must be at the heart of policies to stop a (possible) ecological disaster?

Part of the solution to saving your planet and the human race is to... endorse the murder of your offspring? Or, as it practically works out, at least those who aren't chromosomally perfect, white-skinned, and generally male...

For some reason, I don't see these priests of Molech environmentalists leading the way to salvation planetary preservation by self-sacrificial example.

They wouldn't want to end their lives to save the planet, just the lives of the people who can't cry out for help themselves.

Why pay for bread when you can steal it from a child, right?