Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Be Faithful 1

All the mainstream Christian traditions would share in common the sense that we must be faithful to God who has graciously called us and welcomed us into his coming kingdom.  Even the Lutheran tradition, which perhaps wants to talk the least about "works" in the Christian life, will hesitantly acknowledge that if a person is in Christ, then his or her life should improve.  The standard Protestant understanding is that salvation is "by grace alone" (sola gratia), meaning that it is strictly a matter of God's favor, not something we can earn.  It is "by faith alone" (sola fide), meaning it is only because of our faith, which itself is a gift of God, "not from works, so that no one can boast" (Eph. 2:8).  It is "by Christ alone" (sola Christi), and we can find no other path to God.

Where traditions differ is in how optimistic they are about how much God wants to "sanctify" us, actually make us righteous.  They also differ about whether the way we live after God has "justified" us, made us right with him, has any impact on the continued state of our relationship with him.  You can see the logic of some.  If we are not made right with God by works, then our works cannot make us "un-right" with God either.

For the Calvinist, grace is "irresistable," so the only one who could take it away is God himself.  And if God has given it to you, then why would he take it away?  If God has chosen you, you will make it.  You will persevere till the end.  For the Lutheran, salvation is totally by faith, so while our works should improve as Christians, they have nothing to do with our salvation one way or another.  In fact, even talking about them is unhealthy because it might tempt us to boast in our own goodness.  Baptists have combined the Arminian sense of assurance (you can know now that you are saved) with the Calvinist sense that the elect will persevere (because God's grace is irresistable), resulting in the hybrid view that once a person is truly saved, that person will always be saved: "eternal security."

Against this general Protestant background, the Wesleyan-Arminian tradition stands out in two clear ways.  First, the Wesleyan tradition is more optimistic about just how righteous God wants to make us in this life...


Michael Gormley said...

Dear Ken,

Scripture teaches that one’s final salvation depends on the state of the soul at death. As Jesus himself tells us, "He who endures to the end will be saved" (Matthew 24:13; cf. 25:31–46).

One who dies in the state of friendship with God (the state of grace) will go to heaven. The one who dies in a state of enmity and rebellion against God (the state of mortal sin) will go to hell.

For many Fundamentalists and Evangelicals it makes no difference—as far as salvation is concerned—how you live or end your life.

You can heed the altar call at church, announce that you’ve accepted Jesus as your personal Savoir, and, so long as you really believe it, you’re set.

From that point on there is nothing you can do, no sin you can commit, no matter how heinous, that will forfeit your salvation. You can’t undo your salvation, even if you wanted to.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I though N.T. Wright believed that it was Christ faithfulness that saved us, (as an example?)...and not our faith.
Then, it doesn't depend on how much faith one has, but on Christ alone.

As to exclusive claims, there are universalists and/or unitarian believers that are not uptight about man's understanding of religion, as these believe in a more abundant and gracious God, than exclusivist. Theirs is a more rational faith, when it comes to doctrine.

Ken Schenck said...

N. T. Wright smuggles in a Reformed understanding. Even though in the past he has said that we are also justified by works (since this is actually pretty much what Paul says at a couple places), our works are a certainty if we are truly justified.

Michael Gormley said...

Is Half of The Story Sufficient For Salvation?

How many sides are there to a story? If you say two, then you are wrong. If you had one side and I had one side that would make two sides. However, there is a third side, the side of truth.

Rule # 1... One half of truth does not a truth make. Neither does one half of a story make the full story.

No intelligent person can hear one side of a story and decide which side has the truth.

Both sides have to be heard, then analysed, and then a decision has to be made as to which side (if either) has a valid story, and after that, the right side(s), or truth side, can be determined.

This thinking holds true for discerning what Holy Scripture tells us.

Throughout the Bible there are double standards, yet the fundamentalist thinking shows only one standard, or one side of the story, or only one half of the truth.

Their thinking is in violation of rule # 1. With only one half of truth, you do not have truth. Anything less than the whole truth is error.

In the following examples, side 'A' is the first side, side 'B' is the second, and side 'C' is the right, or truth side.

Example # 2... Sola Fides... Saved by faith alone. The fundamentalist believes he is assured of salvation. All he has to do is to accept Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and savior and salvation is automatic and irrevocable no matter what he does for the rest of his life.

Oh Yeah? What happened to the ten commandments?

A. Many verses in Scripture attest to salvation by faith alone. Joel 2:32, "...that every one that shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

Acts 2:21 says the same almost word for word, and likewise for Rom 10:13. "...I live in the faith of the Son of GOD...", is from Gal 2:20. Again, these are beautiful words that should be heeded by all.

B. However, elsewhere in Scripture there is quite a different side of the story. Start with Mt 7:21, "Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father in Heaven shall enter the kingdom of Heaven."

It is very clear that you have to do the will of the Father to gain salvation. I like 1Cor 10:12, "...let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."

That one says you cannot be guaranteed of salvation. Then James 2:14-26 says over and over, "...Faith too without works is dead...Faith without works is useless...so Faith also without works is dead." Again, words to be heeded by all.

C. So what is the answer to this dilemma? Is this one of those Bible 'conflicts' you keep hearing about? No, not at all. The answer is very simple.

There are two types of salvation, 'objective salvation', and 'subjective salvation'.

The verses in 'A' are examples of objective salvation. Jesus Christ did atone for all of our sins, past, present and future.

He did His part and did it well, but He left the burden upon each one of us to complete the second side of the story by atoning for our own sins, by doing the will of the Father.

We have to keep the commandments. We have to practice 'subjective salvation'. There is no salvation by accepting only part of Scripture as shown in 'A', and by rejecting, or trying to explain away the verses in 'B'.

Yet this is what some non-Catholics are doing. Again, we have to combine 'A', and 'B', to have the full truth.


Angie Van De Merwe said...

Weren't the Judicizers rebuked by Paul, as to circumcision? So, what is all the talk about "circumcision of the heart", anyway, if this is what "holiness means"? And who is to do this work of circumcizing the heart, the religious leaders? or the person who chooses that course for themselves?

If you are talking about the Ten Commandments, then one can "do good' or love neighbor in whatever vocation they choose, as it performs a task that is necessary for our country's benefit, as well as the person who has the job. That means that serving in the State Department is "good", doesn't it?

As to faith, that is a matter of personal conviction, as there are as many denominations as there are ways of understanding salvation.

And then there are the orthodox, or the Roman Catholic, who also have a different way of understanding faith, other than literalizing scripture....

But, who am I to talk, Ken is the scholar, listen to him....

Michael Gormley said...

Dear Angie,


To be saved, you must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31).

However, that's not all. Sacred Scripture clearly shows other things you must also do to be saved:

You must endure to the end. Matthew 10:22, Matthew 24:13, Mark 13:13.

You must accept the Cross (suffering). Matthew 10:38, Matthew 16:24-25, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23, Luke 14:27.

You must be baptized with water. Mark 16:16, Titus 3:5, I Peter 3:20-21.

You must be a member in God's true church. Acts 2:47.

You must confess your sins. James 5:16, I John 1:9.

You must keep the Commandments of God. Matthew 5:19-20, Matthew 7:21.

You must heed the words of St. Peter, the first Pope. Acts 11:13-14, Acts 15:7.

You must eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus Christ. John 6:51-58, I Corinthians 10:16, I Corinthians 11:23-29.

Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to His call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life. CCC 1996, John 1:12-18, John 17:3, Romans 8:14-17, 2 Peter 1:3-4.

The only Church that meets all the requirements of Salvation is the Holy Catholic Church.