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« Denying Same-sex Marriage Isn't Unequal Protection | Main | Family Units »

August 31, 2007

Comments

I READ ABOUT THESE DIFFERENCES ALMOST MONTHLY--IS EVERYONE CORRECT(NOT LOGICAL)--ARE WE ALL GOING TO HEAVEN OR ONLY THE CATHOLICS OR PROTESTANTS--WHO HAS THE ANSWER?

First this:
> For the magisterial reformers, sinners
> are justified before God by grace alone.

Then this:
> For the sixteenth-century Protestant
> reformers, sinners are justified by
> faith alone.

Well, which is it?

I don't know who Scott Manetsch is, but I know he is not catholic. His summary is biased and simply wrong on Catholic Theology.

e.g.
1."Scripture and Tradition are two distinct but equal..." Actually Scripture is part of Tradition, they are not necessarily distinct. From CCC 80: "Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together, and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing"

2. "For Roman Catholics, sinners are justified because of inherent righteousness" this is just plain false... CCC 1987 says: "The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us 'the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ" and through Baptism'
AND CCC 1991:"Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God's righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ... With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us.

and finally what does "holy Scripture ... stand[ing] as judge" mean? How is it possible that a book can be a judge? what other practical circumstance in all human existence has this been possible?

Mike, it's both--by grace, through faith.

Romans 3:23-25--"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus…in His blood through faith."

>>"For Roman Catholics, sinners are justified because of inherent righteousness" this is just plain false... CCC 1987 says: "The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us 'the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ" and through Baptism'

Franklin, it sounds like this agrees with the statement by Scott--the righteousness of God is given to us so that we hold it within ourselves (it's inherent righteousness).

The protestant view is not that we're given inherent righteousness but that we share in the benefits of Christ's righteousness. (We are in a process of sanctification, but it doesn't occur at justification, nor will we even come close to reaching a righteousness of our own perfect enough for God in our lifetime.)

>>How is it possible that a book can be a judge?

We use books as a standard all the time by which to measure things. Think of a student's test on a chapter in a textbook. The answers given by the student are judged based on the standard of the textbook. Similarly, as the student thinks of ideas about the world, he can test them against the textbook to see if they are true or if they contradict the standard.

From the book review:
> In their final assessment, Noll and
> Nystrom ask: “Is the Reformation over?
> Maybe a better question we evangelicals
> should ask ourselves is, Why do we not
> possess such a thorough, clear, and
> God-centered account of our faith as the
> Catechism offers to Roman Catholics?”

Protestants do have such a catechism (e.g., the Heidelberg Catechism), it's just that most modern protestant churches have negected the teaching of it, and now have forgotten it, preferring to skip around the Bible, teaching various doctrines in an unsystematic, piecemeal sort of way (if they teach essential doctrines at all; many churches concentrate on fluff).

So, maybe for many protestant churches, the Reformation is irrelevant nowadays, except to the extent that it reminds them that they're not Roman Catholic.

Amy,

>>the righteousness of God is given to us so that we hold it within ourselves (it's inherent righteousness).
I agree with that, but that's not what scott said... "For Roman Catholics, sinners are justified because of inherent righteousness"
That's the whole sentence. you can't leave off where the righteousness comes from, otherwise who needs god at all?

secondly, how can one be sanctified who does not have righteousness?

>>Think of a student's test on a chapter in a textbook. The answers given by the student are judged based on the standard of the textbook.

Yes, but the book does not do the judging! re-read your own post, its the student that is doing the judging. A document can be a standard to be sure, and I agree that Sacred Scripture is a standard to which things should be judged, but the Book itself cannot judge anything. If documents could judge we wouldn't need a court system.

I would really like to know if I am going to heaven. Because I was very very devout until I was about 20 years old.

Now of course I think the bible is just a big lie.

But some of my catholic friends are trying to convince me that it doesn’t matter and that once you’re saved, you’re saved.

So can a person lose their salvation in this manner?

I’m quite ignorant of this issue and your input here could greatly effect my game of pascal’s wager.

Tony said,
"I would really like to know if I am going to heaven. Because I was very very devout until I was about 20 years old.

Now of course I think the bible is just a big lie."

Given the ham-fisted review by Scott Manetsch it wouldn't matter what you thought OR did if Christ chooses you for whatever reason, you're in. The Calvinists particularly believe God has no reason to choose you...it's random. You can play Pascal's wager all you want and if Christ didn't arbitrarily pick you that coin is going to flip to tails a million times in a row...so your hope is still in Christ choosing you. You can't do anything about it.

Given you once thought the Bible was great but now you don't also doesn't prove anything because Christ doesn't choose you just because you believe the Bible...or reject it.

This is why I'm against Calvinism, because it makes all discussion of works moot. And like Luther, you might as well throw out the book of James or spin the whole book in a Calvinist light.

"But some of my catholic friends are trying to convince me that it doesn’t matter and that once you’re saved, you’re saved."

A lot of your non-Catholic friends believe this too. I don't. If you're not saved today, you're not saved at all. If you don't change your response the grace God shows on you then you'll never be saved.

"So can a person lose their salvation in this manner?"

Yes. Do you care?

"I’m quite ignorant of this issue and your input here could greatly effect my game of pascal’s wager."

I hate Pascal's wager. He was a brilliant thinker but of all his works I don't see how the Wager got to be so popular. Though you wouldn't be the first to use lame reasons to become a Christian. I was brought to the Lord by watching Jim and Tammy Fay on TV (true story).

Nuts!!!

The Bible isn't just a book. It's God breathed. That's the main problem with Catholic doctrine, it's the Bible plus what ever the Pope comes up with.
The whole now you're saved, now you're not doctrine flys in the face of scriptures like John 3:16. You either have eternal life or you don't. If it isn't eternal, then the Bible is wrong and it's only temperary. And don't tell me that it isn't the teaching, because I spent 9 out of my 12 years in school hearing it. That's what drove me away from church for 30 plus years until 2000. No denomination died for my sins, Christ did. The theologians can hash it all they want to, but it's still Christ and Him crucified. If that isn't enough for you, then become a Hindu, they have at least One hundred million gods. I'm sure one could find something that suits you.

>Nuts!!!

Heh. Tony likes Pascals Wager. Just for the record, the Wager, as is, cannot lead to salvation since the implication is that one is guessing as opposed to knowing.

>and finally what does "holy Scripture ... stand[ing] as judge" mean? How is it possible that a book can be a judge? what other practical circumstance in all human existence has this been possible?

An example of how the scripture can be a judge is John 12:48, where Jesus says that his message is on record, for the Last Day, against those who reject him.

[Quote] He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

Scripture is a judge in exactly this sense.

"Given the ham-fisted review by Scott Manetsch it wouldn't matter what you thought OR did if Christ chooses you for whatever reason, you're in."

That isn't what Calvinists believe -- if Christ chooses you you're in, BUT that's because if Christ chooses you His grace WILL sanctify you. It's not irregardless of what you _do_, because His grace will change what you do.

If what you do doesn't change, you haven't experienced Christ's grace.

"The Calvinists particularly believe God has no reason to choose you...it's random."

No. God has no reason _within us_ to choose us. To us, it appears random -- but God's choices are for His own purposes and based on His own criteria, which are not criteria within us.

"so your hope is still in Christ choosing you. You can't do anything about it."

Correct. In the exact same sense that your hope was in the Father having created you -- you couldn't depend on anything you'd done before you'd existed. Now your hope is in Christ saving you; you couldn't do anything to save yourself while you were dead.

In another sense, though, you are saved because of what you do, through faith in Christ. Works without faith are dead; faith without works is dead. But both together are alive.

-Billy

K wait,

Tim seems to be saying i'm saved.

And some of you say i dont have a choice either way, and some say I do...i think.

man...forget it

I might as well roll dice with pascal. who the hell knows what that old book is saying anyway

It seems interesting to me that most of you are posting on a web site that systematicly dismantles your way of thinking. Why don't you take some time and read some articles and listen to a few lectures. Then respond enlight of that information.

tony, if you were saved before, you're saved now. But that works both ways -- if you're not saved now, you weren't saved before. If you're not acting saved now, were you just fooling yourself before?

So, are you acting saved now?

Will

>> "if you were saved before, you're saved now."

i believed then that i was saved and acted as such then. But surely, i don't act saved now.

Your conditionals are quite confusing.

>> "if you're not saved now, you weren't saved before."

i'm trying to find out if i AM saved now. thats the question.

>> "So, are you acting saved now?"

But man is not saved by acts right?

NUTS!

nevermind

"But man is not saved by acts right?"

No, not at all. But man is saved in order to act. If you're saved, you'll act like it.

You're asking "how can I know whether or not I am saved (or was saved)?" The answer is: you can be more sure of your salvation if you're more attracted to Christ and to following His example; if you feel more convicted about the times you screw up. You should be less sure about salvation the less you feel that.

Tony, you say you don't act saved now. In that case, you have reason to feel that you were not saved before. If you had been saved before, the life (brought about by salvation) would have stayed in you.

I can't tell you that you're not saved, of course. I can't see into The Book of Life. I can only tell you that the feelings you describe are not conducive to assurance of salvation. I hope you're just experiencing some backsliding.

-Billy

>>I can't tell you that you're not saved, of course.

I can. Tony, as you know, it's very simple: John 3:36--"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."

Matthew 24:13--"But he who stands firm to the end will be saved."

1 John 2:19--"They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us."

So, wonder no more.

Tony,
I think that the confusion here is in what acts save and what acts follow salvation and the distinction between them. It is Christ's redemptive work on the cross that saves the sinner and our act of acceptance of that finished work that brings us into the family of God(i.e. the saved by grace). There is then going to be evidence in the lives of the saved that may come in the form of acts or beliefs or thinking that conform to the fact they are saved. Their lives will reflect a changed life consistent with one who is saved. That certainly includes acceptance of the bible as God's word that can be trusted because its source can be trusted. For me personally, it is difficult to understand how once being saved, anyone could ever possibly seriously consider abandoning their faith. I have gone through moments of doubt and certainly through difficulty in life that could have caused me to abandon my trust in God, but quite frankly...it is simply not something I could ever bring myself to do. So, for me to hear someone say that they abandoned it spawns all kinds of questions that only the person making such a claim could answer.

"For Roman Catholics, sinners are both justified by unmerited grace at baptism and (subsequently) justified by those infused graces merited by cooperating with divine grace. For the magisterial reformers, sinners are justified before God by grace alone."

Nope, Catholics also believe we are justified by grace alone. They merely allow that grace can accomplish more than most Protestants allow. Ultimately, the cause of our justification is God's predestination, which does not rely on God's foreknowledge of any good or merit on our part, but is completely gratuitious (See Aquinas' ST I-I Q. 23)
The grace that is given in virtue of this predestination accomplishes five things: heal our soul, wills the good, performs the good that is willed, perseveres in this good, and attains glory. Again, God's grace causes these things, not 90% God's grace and 10% man's effort, etc...(ST I-II Q. 111) St. Thomas, following St. Augustine, speaks of "co-operating grace" but this merely means that as God's grace acts on the soul, the soul itself acts. Their is an acting on the part of God and an acting attributed to the soul itself, though this acting on the part of the soul is caused by God's grace. Thus Aquinas, following Augustine, says "God does not justify us without our selves, because whilst we are being justified we consent to God's justification by a movement of our free will, nevertheless, this movement [of free-will] is not the cause of grace, but its effect; hence the whole operation pertains to grace" (Ibid.)

"For Roman Catholics, sinners are justified because of inherent righteousness. For the mainstream Protestant reformers, sinners are accepted on the basis of the righteousness of another—namely, the alien righteousness of Christ imputed to them."

Yes, this is right, except it should be qualified by saying that this "inherent righteousness" is the righteousness of Christ infused in us.

See Will

look at Amy's quoted verses there. That seems to say there cannot exist a person, such that that person was saved and then lost salvation.

I think really this all comes down to one rule:

If you accept Jesus, and then reject him, your initial acceptance was faulty to begin with.

Therefor there has never existed a person who was legitimately_saved, and then rejected Jesus.

This means that, though I thought I was saved for 20 years, I really never was.

Man I could have sworn I was though. I spent a great deal of time praying and reading the bible and going to church in those days. What a waste of time! Geez my grandma will be so sad when I tell her this.

Having read Mother Theresa's letters recently, I wonder if, hypothetically speaking, if she really came to a point where she no longer believed in Jesus, if she would go to hell...

Seems harsh - but if that were true, then that would mean that Mother Theresa was never really saved as well.

Louis,

Well my life then was VERY Christian-like. Then I had about an 8 year transition period – starting when I was 20. Now my life is extremely hedonistic. i.e. just trying to have fun till I die or get old and sick.

So I would assume that my life is no longer the life of one that is saved. Meaning I wasn’t initially saved originally, though my life then WAS one of a person who was saved.

So I dunno. I think maybe the bottom line I’m gonna take from this thread is ‘no one really knows for sure’ - which was the answer to a lot of my Sunday school questions and one of the reasons I think the bible was not written by god.

"Well my life then was VERY Christian-like. Then I had about an 8 year transition period – starting when I was 20. Now my life is extremely hedonistic. i.e. just trying to have fun till I die or get old and sick.

So I would assume that my life is no longer the life of one that is saved. Meaning I wasn’t initially saved originally, though my life then WAS one of a person who was saved.

So I dunno. I think maybe the bottom line I’m gonna from this thread is ‘no one really knows for sure’ - which was the answer to a lot of my Sunday school questions and one of the reasons I think the bible was not written by god."

My friend Tony,
many of us would agree with you that the bible was not written by God, it was written by men. The point of departure from that view is that we believe that it was authored by God. Leading a life that is Christian-like saves no one and may not be evidence of personal salvation.
Let me ask you a question...have you ever come to a place in your life where you knew for certain that if you were to die that instant, you would go to heaven?

"This means that, though I thought I was saved for 20 years, I really never was."

Your testimony certainly seems to indicate that, Tony. None of us (including Amy) can tell you for sure -- it could easily be that you are saved, and you're "backsliding". But the evidence doesn't seem to show that, and it's foolish to go against the evidence.

It sounds like you spent a long time trusting in your grandmother's faith to save you, doing the things she wanted you to do, believing the things she told you to believe. Her faith may have saved her; it couldn't possibly save you.

And I don't see why she should be sadder to know that we don't believe her faith saved you, when she already knows that you've abandoned the faith she tried to pass on to you. (No offense meant...)

"So I dunno. I think maybe the bottom line I’m gonna from this thread is ‘no one really knows for sure’ - which was the answer to a lot of my Sunday school questions and one of the reasons I think the bible was not written by god."

Tony, have you ever found something that us humans claim to know for sure? Run away from that thing. It's one thing to be confident and bold; it's entirely different to pretend to have certain knowledge.

-Billy

Before I get back on topic, a brief diversion: I'm grateful to the Roman Catholics who are commenting on this blog. I've gained more understanding of your faith thanks to your persistence in explaining here. Thank you. And yes, I find Augustine an inspiring figure. He's one of the saints that every denomination should want to claim as their own.

Anyhow, I admit that the Catholics are right in pointing out that they don't view Scripture and Tradition as distinct. That's a Reformation doctrine, not a Catholic one. I believe (together with the moderate reformers, and as opposed to my fellow Baptists) that tradition is a source of revelation. Where we differ from Catholics is that we do not hold that tradition has authority alongside Scripture. Our view is that Scripture alone has authority; Scripture is not judged on the basis of tradition, but rather tradition on the basis of Scripture. Some traditional actions are non-scriptural; contrary to the radical reformers, I do not agree they should be gotten rid of. The ones that are anti-scriptural, though, are to be shunned.

Louis,

when i was a kid i thought if i died i would go to heaven.

William,

it doesnt have to be 100% but i would assume that a god who published a book could make it at least as easy to understand as the book for my ipod instructions - and that was written by men.

"when i was a kid i thought if i died i would go to heaven."

Ok Tony..thanks for responding. If I were to ask you back then..Tony if you were to die today and you would stand before God and he would ask you: "Why should I let you into my heaven?" what would your response have been?

cuz i accepted jesus as my lord and savior of course

"cuz i accepted jesus as my lord and savior of course"

That, Tony, is a nice pat,formulaic , ubiquitous Christian response to my question. However, what does it really mean? If you were a paralytic and were suddenly miraculously healed by God, would you simply tell us ... "I was healed." and leave it at that, or would you want to share with us every detail of how you suffered for many years before that and how good God was in rescuing you from such a condition and the wonderful transformation that caused in your life. You see, Tony, sin is just such a paralyzing disease, but one that many insist on hanging on to. It seems a bit odd that someone who was healed from such a horrible affliction would simply respond with "cuz i accepted jesus as my lord and savior of course". Had God asked me why He should let me into His heaven, I would hope that my response would be of a more intimate and personal nature to someone with whom I had a close personal relationship during this lifetime. Everyone should be shocked by any other type of response on my part.
It has been said that those with a religious background are often the most difficult to reach for Christ because they have a difficult time in understanding just how terribly sinful they are in the eyes of a holy God. Forgive me, but I cannot help but wonder if this is the place you, my friend, occupy in life.

tony: "it doesnt have to be 100% but i would assume that a god who published a book could make it at least as easy to understand as the book for my ipod instructions - and that was written by men."

Tony, I think it is easy to understand. "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin." Like an iPod shuffle, the Christian life only needs a few buttons -- walk in the light, confess your sins, serve each other in love.

Of course, your iPod manual doesn't tell you how iPod production is managed, or how Steve decides on new product lines, or how new Apple products are kept secret, or how AAC copy protection works.

The Bible has a lot more to tell than does your iPod manual. It's a more important, more consuming subject. The really important parts are really simple -- but the less important parts, such as the role of free will in God's sovereign plan, aren't so simple, and there's room for disagreement and misunderstanding. That's ok. Doug and I don't agree on Calvinism. There are consequences to this disagreement, and there are consequences to being wrong; but that's not as important as walking in the light or confessing our sins.

Will,

nah people disagree on every single verse.

even better than paper, other media could have been used - for example a crystal that always gave the right answer when you asked it a question.

whole thing just smells like something man made to me

Louis,

i think my answer was fine.

"nah people disagree on every single verse."

That comment was snide, unsatisfactory, and impossible to take seriously.

"even better than paper, other media could have been used - for example a crystal that always gave the right answer when you asked it a question."

More than alternate media, you want direct interactive miraculous dispelling of doubt. (I find that easy to take seriously.) That's not what is offered. Does it seem like a silly excuse to you when we attempt to explain why God doesn't work that way? Could any explanation possibly suffice for you, or do you see this as fundamentally unanswerable -- a necessary part of the nature of God? (This is an honest question -- I don't have a rebuttal planned, although I'm ready to discuss if you consider it at all negotiable.)

"whole thing just smells like something man made to me"

There is plenty of evidence that indicates otherwise, you know. I can't discuss smells :-), though.

"i think my answer was fine."

I thought it was probably correct; I'm sure that's what you would have said, and I rather believe I would have said it a number of times when I was young. I don't see Louis' point in demanding a more detailed answer right off the bat, honestly.

But Louis is correct that the answer doesn't tell us what you assume it does. What did "Lord" mean to you? Did it play out in your life? How would you know that Jesus was _being_ Lord in your life? What did He save you from?

>> "nah people disagree on every single verse."
>> That comment was snide, unsatisfactory, and impossible to take seriously.

Well ya but it’s true.

>> More than alternate media, you want direct interactive miraculous dispelling of doubt.

Not ‘doubt’ exactly. But a dispelling of message confusion. A god with infinite resources has the ability to at least get the message conveyance right. Or as the perplexed Chief Red Jacket said in 1805:

"Brother, you say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it? Why do not all agree, as you can all read the book?"

But aside from that, even if the document was a lot more impressive and bulletproof than it is, I still wouldn’t believe that God wrote it – pretty much no matter what it contained. I would just need much more than paper to believe such claims. I made this thought experiment a while ago:

http://www.glasskite.com/site-gregiswrong-old/thought_experiments/te_amazing_paper.htm


>> What did "Lord" mean to you?

The lord is the supreme being and the creator of the cosmos.

>> Did it play out in your life?

Yah

>> How would you know that Jesus was _being_ Lord in your life?

Because I had a constant dialogue of prayer and sacrifice and sought his guidance at every step I took.

>> What did He save you from?

My sins.


"Well ya but it’s true."

But it's not.

Or let me say this more usefully: there's consistent, easily available teaching that's been present since before the Bible was written that has held consistent on what the simple things mean. Even the ancient Donatists agreed on what walking in the light means (and they had a horrible perversion of doctrine that involved attacking pacifists!).

Of course, you can always find a 'hard' or innovative way to read simple passages, and you can always find someone willing to espouse that reading. But innovation doesn't make sense in this context... If the document is from God, even if the ancients didn't see everything in it, they should at least have seen the basics.

"I still wouldn’t believe that God wrote it – pretty much no matter what it contained."

Okay. Let's leave that fruitless discussion, then. By your premises (if I understand you correctly), it's a necessary part of the nature of a self-existent personal being to NOT use a book. I admittedly find that to be a bizarre premise; it seems more like a conclusion, and a shaky one at that; but you've established it, and I don't think you're going to listen to me if I argue against it. I'll just state that I do not find it to be self-evident.

"The lord is the supreme being and the creator of the cosmos."

Thank you for a detailed answer on this one. I don't mean to be nitpicky here, but the context I was asking about was a little different than your answer here indicates.

When you "accepted jesus as my lord..."[sic] what did you mean by "my lord", what were you "accepting"? Perhaps you mean you admitted that Jesus is "the lord" (the supreme being you define above); is that the case? Why do you think "accepting" it made you a Christian? Wouldn't demons do that much?

"Because I had a constant dialogue of prayer and sacrifice and sought his guidance at every step I took."

Taking you literally here, it looks like you lived an (admirable, no doubt) inner life that you thought was addressed to Christ (probably because someone told you it was). Oh, you also made outer signs of your inner life -- I'm not sure what you mean by "sacrifices", but I'll construe it loosely to mean "outer signs intended to indicate inner desire".

Is that right?

"What did He save you from? - My sins."

Again, I find that hard to understand. What does that mean? Were you glad to be saved from them? Why were you unhappy with your sins?

Were you unhappy with the experienced consequences of your sins? Were you unhappy with what someone told you would be the consequences someday? If so, you were saved (or not) from those consequences, not the sins.

I'm asking all these questions because I literally do not understand your answers. You're speaking as an adult who's discredited something, but your answers have no apparent depth to them. I think this isn't because you're stupid, or I wouldn't be talking to you.

Hmm... I admit that it could be because you don't care enough now to give insanely specific details. If so, just say so and I'll discuss other things. I can understand why you wouldn't care anymore, all things considered.

>> “it's a necessary part of the nature of a self-existent personal being to NOT use a book. I admittedly find that to be a bizarre premise; it seems more like a conclusion, and a shaky one at that; but you've established it, and I don't think you're going to listen to me if I argue against it. I'll just state that I do not find it to be self-evident.”

Yes to believe such claims I think it’s rational for me to demand more than paper evidence. If you disagree, then answer my thought experiment above. What would a piece of paper that I hand you have to contain for you to believe that “visitors from a supernatural realm have visited planet earth, performed amazing feats, can raise people from the dead, and told Tony the path to everlasting happiness.”

>> Why do you think "accepting" it made you a Christian?

Accepting jesus as your lord and savior makes you Christian because the bible says so.

>> Wouldn't demons do that much?

I don’t think so…

>> "I'm not sure what you mean by "sacrifices", but I'll construe it loosely to mean "outer signs intended to indicate inner desire".

Errr. Sometimes I helped the poor in mexico.

>> "What did He save you from? - My sins." Again, I find that hard to understand. What does that mean?

? huh. Jesus saved us from sin. Even 5 year olds know that.

>> Were you glad to be saved from them?

yah

Why were you unhappy with your sins?

yah

Were you unhappy with the experienced consequences of your sins?

yah


Were you unhappy with what someone told you would be the consequences someday?

You mean hell? yah – hell makes me unhappy

If so, you were saved (or not) from those consequences, not the sins.

I think Christians are saved from both.

>> I'm asking all these questions because I literally do not understand your answers. You're speaking as an adult who's discredited something, but your answers have no apparent depth to them.

Hah. I thought they were pretty straight forward man. I’m not gonna type my brains out on a blog though about my life as a Christian. Are you trying to find some devil in the details so you can say – “AH HAH! See that sheep was lost because that sheep did X.” I don’t think X is really there. You can cite an X quite easily though. Just pick something and point to it if it makes you feel better.

"Hah. I thought they were pretty straight forward man. I’m not gonna type my brains out on a blog though about my life as a Christian. Are you trying to find some devil in the details so you can say – “AH HAH! See that sheep was lost because that sheep did X.” I don’t think X is really there. You can cite an X quite easily though. Just pick something and point to it if it makes you feel better."

Tony,
I think that what we have a hard time understanding, and forgive us for our shortcomings, is just what kind of faith you are actually talking about when you say that you believed. The bible tells us that the demons believe also and tremble (James 2:19). Now we know that demons do not go to heaven. The kind of belief that is spoken of them is a mere intellectual assent of certain facts. It is particularly difficult for one of us to determine if that is the kind of faith you are talking about, since we do not have direct access to your thoughts in the same way you do, or if you are actually talking about the kind of faith that saves. We must rely on the imperfect medium of verbal communications in order to try to assess the nature of your faith and frankly, this is a daunting task. So, if we seem incompetent at the task forgive our limitations and understand that the intention is a good one.

"Yes to believe such claims I think it’s rational for me to demand more than paper evidence."

Given your definition of "paper evidence", I agree. We've got more -- LOTS more.

"If you disagree, then answer my thought experiment above. What would a piece of paper that I hand you have to contain for you to believe that 'visitors from a supernatural realm have visited planet earth, performed amazing feats, can raise people from the dead, and told Tony the path to everlasting happiness.'"

Excellent question. You've got a piece of paper. I need:

+ An explanation/model of how and why the aliens used paper. (God is not material, so He didn't use paper -- He used people's minds.)
+ An explanation of how the paper got from the aliens to you.
+ External evidence of events mentioned in the paper (when those events leave substantial evidence, of course).

The 'path to everlasting happiness' might be another path of inquiry, but I think you intended to leave that one vague :-).

"I’m not gonna type my brains out on a blog though about my life as a Christian."

I thought that was the case. Like I said, I don't blame you. At the same time, if you're not going to answer our questions with any reality, we can't answer your challenge. It's just not possible to tell you why you slid away from your childhood beliefs without knowing something about your life.

"Are you trying to find some devil in the details so you can say – 'AH HAH! See that sheep was lost because that sheep did X.'"

No; we're trying to answer your challenge in which you point out, (my paraphrase) "you say that once saved, always saved; yet I seemed to be saved once, and now I seem not to be."

Since you don't want to answer questions in any detail (which IMO is smart of you), we can't answer for your specific circumstances.

"Accepting jesus as your lord and savior makes you Christian because the bible says so."

No, it doesn't use those words. That's why I'm asking what you mean by that.

I specifically asked what you meant by "accepting jesus as my lord and savior." Your only answer is that you define lord as the supreme being. Okay, so what do you mean that you "accepted" him as YOUR lord? The grammar doesn't make sense -- the supreme being isn't "your lord", He's "the Lord". You "accepting" that doesn't change anything. You _must_ mean something else.

But I think we're done trying to parse this... I speak only to illustrate the difficulties.

Lois is right to quote that "the demons believe, and tremble." They believe in God more than I do, but that belief doesn't save them.

Tony, probably both you and this thread are tapped out, so if you're done here I understand, but I was curious about something you said a ways up the combox.

>>Now my life is extremely hedonistic. i.e. just trying to have fun till I die or get old and sick.

I assume that you live by some sort of moral awareness - you probably wouldn't, I'm guessing, go and murder your grandmother tonight. But why not? Is the reason just that it would be counter to your hedonistic desires - that it would bum you out, that it wouldn't be fun, and that wouldn't be cool? Or is there some other reason that restrains you? Were you to suddenly have such a desire, should it (God forbid) enter your head that such a thing would be fun, would you then consider yourself justified in committing the murder? (Sorry to bring your grandma into this, no real offense intended, but I am trying to clearly make a point.)

Put another way: are you obliged to anyone else but yourself? If so, why?

Aaron,

how does the wolf know not to kill the wolf it's hunting with?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altruism_in_animals

Louis,

well of course the demons believe. but like i said, u must accept jesus as your lord and savior - assumedly youd have to acknowledge his existance first :)

>> Given your definition of "paper evidence", I agree. We've got more -- LOTS more.

like what? so you're saying the the bible is not sufficient for belief?

I didnt think your 3 criteria were that tough. So if the paper i handed you satisfied that criteria, would you believe my claims about the visitors?

Tony, I don't think you get it. A paper can't demonstrate its own provenance. If you handed me a paper like that I'd ask those questions -- and none of them can possibly be answered by pointing to the paper. Or a copy of the Bible.

"so you're saying the the bible is not sufficient for belief?"

I'm telling you that in deciding what to believe, I use evidence *about* the document as well as evidence in the document. Your alien document comes with claims about its origin -- I'd like to trace those claims back.

William,

Absolutely, assume you can trace those claims back with the veracity equal to that of the bible. In other words assume that it was conveyed to people thousands of years ago, and dictated via divine inspiration, later to be scribed and handed to you.

For any X you can think of that makes you believe the bible is legitimate, assume the same for the paper I’m handing you.

Then would you believe me about the supernatural creatures?

"well of course the demons believe. but like i said, u must accept jesus as your lord and savior - assumedly youd have to acknowledge his existance first :)"

I'm not altogether sure that this is the case. Perhaps it is because my salvation was something of a miracle. I certainly did read the scriptures just prior and frankly, it wasn't that reading that led me to acceptance of Christ. In my case I was brought under conviction first. By that I mean that I was going through a really tough patch in my life and as a result cried out to God for help, but what really cinched it for me was my coming to grips with a personal need for faith in my life. It was actually a book on conjuring, personal hobby back then, that was used to point out this need in a very direct way. My first step was an absolute certainty that I needed to believe in order for my life to have any meaning at all...(it had none at the time and I knew it and because of this it was a barren wasteland filled with misery). I knew that this faith had to be invested in something that could not fail as it had to be an absolute trust. In my experience, faith in people was doomed to disappoint as was anything else. It was simple logic that led me to the conclusion that the only thing that could be given absolute faith(trust) is something/someone that was perfect and could not fail. Well now, God certainly fit the description of the perfect object of faith...which I needed in order for my life to have any meaning and purpose. So, my first baby steps in Christianity involved in my trusting the absolute truth that would give my life purpose and meaning. It was only later that I learned the connection between this truth and Jesus Christ and how my discovery was one that Christians world-over had known way before me. So, to go to your statement that I had to acknowledge Christs existence is true, but doesn't go far enough. He became real to me in the form of a truth that met my needs through faith in that truth that Christ is...at least at first. It was only through growth that I discovered the full range of my discovery that is so clearly shown in the pages of the Bible.

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