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December 09, 2008


A.A.Melinda thank you for your ministry where agnostics and former agnostics can come and reason together.

The issue of how central one's willingness or unwillingness to espouse specific doctrinal convictions is a bit of a conundrum to me, in all honesty. I genuinely have mixed thoughts and feelings on this subject. Are we to view someone who comes to faith in Christ in an atmosphere that is somewhat askew in its views such as word/faith or oneness or Roman Catholicism in the same way that we view a Mormon or Jehovah's Witness? Are we to view someone who comes to faith in Christ in one of these previously mentioned three(there are certainly others to consider also) in the same way we view a leader in those movements who seems to have come to a level of conviction about these views that causes them to seek to proliferate them as well as be willing to believe them themselves? I know that some would say that the three I chose to mention are not just "somewhat askew" in their core beliefs about Christ and Salvation, but that leads me to another point. It seems to me that these three are not monolithic structures but are made up of varying peoples, varying leaderships, and have bought into wrong doctrine to varying degrees depending on which congregation or person you interact with across the country. I just seeking useful dialogue about this. I'm not looking for an intellectual fist fight. As I've said, I believe the three I mentioned DO have serious doctrinal problems that need to be openly pointed to and a call of correction should be made, but at what point do we start using the H word(heretic) or whatever the modern day version of that is? Don't tell Greg, but as much as I deeply respect and value his voice, I think HE is seriously wrong on his take on unconditional election and limited atonement. I doubt I'll hear any of his detractors (or not the vast majority) claim that he does not have the Spirit of God alive and well in his life. Thanks, sorry it was so long.

Hi Dennis, let me say that I dont think that the majority of Christians will equate intellectual understanding of doctrines as *proof* of being born again. Where the fruit begins to sprout, one can begin to detect that the Spirit of God is not in someone. In the core of the man that's born again, he is inclined to believe the true things about God because it's actually the indwelling of the Spirit that give men the ability to discern spiritual truth. Without that, the honest man will have doctrines that bear fruit of not *knowing* God.

One cannot persist in doctrinal error if sound teacher/teaching is offered and rejected for false. This is evidence of the disposition of everyman. Those born again will of necessity of nature begin reforming their thinking as they are informed by the revealed Word of God. Those not born again may for a time show fruit of belief, but according to the scriptures, they will not persist to the end. Usually they'll reject the true gospel and exchange it for one of their own making that they can live with. This is his way of running from God under the pretense of worshipping his idol.

Brad B

P.S. I was a former doubter in U and L, but no longer. ;)

I have, in a large sense, viewed the trinity as true, but if you try to fully explain it, you will lose your mind. Yet, it makes perfect sense

21 The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22 And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever."

The use of the word "our" and "us", in the creation account, leaves little room for confusion, imo

Another thing too Dennis, and perhaps you have heard this before. Their are things that Christians disagree on, for instance, old earth or young earth, literal 6 days of creation, worship on saturday or sunday.. I think its fair to say those arent hell issues. I doubt God is upset by honest inquiry. At the same time, their are central Christian truths that are non-negotiable. For instance, I believe Jesus when he said no one comes to the Father but through me, because he said so. The Trinity is abundant throughout the Old and New testament.

In our finite and human Brains, we cannot fathom the true nature of the Trinity.. Infact their are several aspects of God that simply defy human understanding, such as Self-Existance, infinality (is that a word? Infinite-ness), etc. Rather then lose your mind trying to comprehend some of the more difficult to understand aspects of God, It would be much wiser to take Him for His Word, and invest your complete and absolute Trust in him.

P.s Sorry for the Grammatical errors on my Jesus quote, makes it sound like i was talking about myself** hahahahahaha
i hope you got what i ment, though

Hi Corryukly, I want to agree with you that the complete understanding of the characteristics that mark God-ness are out of the range of finite beings. But, He did reveal some things about Himself so that those who are beloved of Him will know him sufficiently. There are many who'll deny the trinity and consider themselves orthodox. This is not to say that it's essential to know the doctrine exhaustively, but it does speak to an insufficient knowledge of what true knowledge is available to men about God. To have the doctrine studied and viewed against what the scriptures say, and to then deny it as true is very telling. It's one thing to say "I dont understand it" and another thing altogether to argue it as *false*.

Here is a site the lays out the defense of the scriptural proofs to support that the God we worship and know is revealed to be three persons yet one essense which the doctrine teaches.

This doesn't allow for a denial of the divinity of Jesus, the personhood of the Spirit, or the unity of the essence of the Godhead.

I think that the article posted by Melinda also states a good point about the fact that salvation is of God alone between the divine Persons.

Brad B

I would wager that most Christians are either modalists or tritheists, since they are incapable of understanding the philosophically and theologically sophisticated nature of the Trinity. Sure, they may be able to give the standard "X is God. Y is God. Z is God. X is not Y or Z. Y is not X or Z. Z is not X or Y," but that is just scratching the surface of this intricate and 'mysterious' doctrine. Just ask some non-theologically savvy 'saved' Christian to explain the Trinity and, by and large, you will get modalism or tritheism. As such, the "saved people will somehow automatically believe correct doctrine" view is inadequate.

Brad, I appreciate the response and we are essentially in the same line of thought. I guess if I had to summarize my point; Entrance to heaven (obviously) isint going to require a SAT test on the Trinity before entrance. At the same time, he details of this matter that are revealed throughout scripture leaves no room for doubt in this central doctrine. I know for myself as a child when my mom first asked me if I believed in Jesus, Trinitarian doctrine was obviously out of my scope of understanding. And as i have grown, through the power of God alone i have been growing ever since.

Hi Kevin, you make a legitimate claim about "understanding the philosophically and theologically sofisticated nature of the doctrine". The thing is, that the person who's born again will not always, or maybe even ever be able to explain the doctrine, but one thing they will not do is deny it and argue against it. The Spirit of God that indwells a beliver will confirm the belief down to the innermost core of the person.

There is a cost to the born again person who doesn't deal with the intellectual/philosophical aspects of growing in knowledge of the true things concerning God's revealed nature. This is the path of sanctification, maturing, or growing in faith. Rational beings operate with more assurance and confidence when the heart and mind are in agreement. A Christian with no intellectual understanding of God's world, himself, and his place in it will live with little evidence of faith at all. He'll be carried around by every wind of doctrine, unstable in all his ways, etc..

You cannot omit the indwelling Spirit in the equation of belief in this type of discussion, after all, we are talking about spiritual understanding and discernment which no natural man can legitamately lay claim to in truth. Along the same line, intellectual understanding of the doctrine can be grasped intellectually and philosophically by reprobate and unregenerated, but it'll never be believed in the innermost part of the person, because those without the Spirit cannot know God in truth because he is dead to the things of the Sprit.

Brad B

This is the easiest to understand statement I know of:

Of God, His Unity and Trinity

GOD IS ONE. We believe and teach that God is one in essence or nature, subsisting in himself, all sufficient in himself, invisible, incorporeal, immense, eternal, Creator of all things both visible and invisible, the greatest good, living, quickening and preserving all things, omnipotent and supremely wise, kind and merciful, just and true. Truly we detest many gods because it is expressly written: "The Lord your God is one Lord" (Deut.6:4). "I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me" (Ex. 20:2-3). "I am the Lord, and there is no other god besides me. Am I not the Lord, and there is no other God beside me? A righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me" ((Isa. 45:5, 21). "The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness" (Ex. 34:6).

GOD IS THREE. Notwithstanding we believe and teach that the same immense, one and indivisible God is in person inseparably and without confusion distinguished as Father, Son and Holy Spirit so, as the Father has begotten the Son from eternity, the Son is begotten by an ineffable generation, and the holy Spirit truly proceeds from them both, and the same from eternity and is to be worshipped with both.

Thus there are not three gods, but three persons, cosubstantial, coeternal, and coequal; distinct with respect to hypostases, and with respect to order, the one preceding the other yet without any inequality. For according to the nature or essence they are so joined together that they are one God, and the divine nature is common to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

For Scripture has delivered to us a manifest distinction of persons, the angel saying, among other things, to the Blessed Virgin, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). And also in the baptism of Christ a voice is heard from heaven concerning Christ, saying, "This is my beloved Son" (Math. 3:17). The Holy Spirit also appeared in the form of a dove (John 1:32). And when the Lord himself commanded the apostles to baptize, he commanded them to baptize "in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19). Elsewhere in the Gospel he said: "The Father will send the Holy Spirit in my name" (John 14:26), and again he said: "When the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me," etc. (John 15:26). In short, we receive the Apostles' Creed because it delivers to us the true faith.

HERESIES. Therefore we condemn the Jews and Mohammedans, and all those who blaspheme that sacred and adorable Trinity. We also condemn all heresies and heretics who teach that the Son and Holy Spirit are God in name only, and also that there is something created and subservient, or subordinate to another in the Trinity, and that their is something unequal in it, a greater or a less, something corporeal or corporeally conceived, something different with respect to character or will, something mixed or solitary, as if the Son and Holy Spirit were the affections and properties of one God the Father, as the Monarchians, Novatians, Praxeas, Patripassians, Sabellius, Paul of Samosata, Aetius, Macedonius, Anthropomorphites, Arius, and such like, have thought.

Wow! Ok...good dialogue. Ummm... a couple of thoughts.
To what is it referring when it says, "...God in name only..." in the above post by pro life? How does that work exactly? Another thing this post stirs inside of me is a thought, not a conviction, but a thought that gets toyed with in my mind. There are many things that we as protestants seem to have held onto that have unhealthy roots in Roman Catholicism. (Trace all the modern day denominations that descend from Anglican which seems to have broken the least with many Catholic practices.) One of these may very well be some form of papal statement of authority(though obviously not papal) about doctrinal issues. I have to be careful here because to some extent I'm playing devil's advocate. I do believe that essentially anything that genuinely is "another Christ, another gospel, or the spirit of another gospel" must be stridently opposed but two things...
1. I'm not sure that some doctrines will automatically do that, but only the level of prominence that wrong doctrine is given within a group or by a person. (an example of this is Paul's live and let live attitude about the sabbath in Romans, but his stronger stand about it in Galatians and Colossians.) The difference is that the IMPORTANCE of the sabbath and other specific days of worship were a symptom of an internal shift that seemed to be taking place.

2.It also seems to be more productive to engage people who adopt wrong doctrinal views as fellow brothers for a good while before going down the road of labeling them as a heretic. Obviously, at the point you begin to refer to their doctrinal beliefs as heretical, this changes the entire dynamic of, not only the discussion, but the relationship as well.

Hi Dennis, it looks to me like the post by Pro Life was simply a pasting of the the Helvetic Confession. Even the last chapter on heretics.

Brad B

I guess my point is that while some wrong doctrine is certainly a clear and fundamental departure from THE Christ, THE gospel, and THE spirit of the gospel. It seems to me there are some areas where that does not seem to be quite as clearly the case, and the approach to take with such people is engaging them to determine how far down the path of their particular wrong doctrine they have gone before deciding whether to interact with them as a heretic or an errant brother in Christ.


"A Christian with no intellectual understanding of God's world, himself, and his place in it will live with little evidence of faith at all. He'll be carried around by every wind of doctrine, unstable in all his ways, etc.."

But I thought you just said that the born again Christian will not be "carried around by every wind of doctrine" because, even though they may not understand it, "they will not...deny it and argue against it." So how can they be "carried around by every wind of doctrine" if they are born again and, according to your own admission, will be told "to their innermost being" by the Holy Spirit that the doctrine they do not understand is true? Either orthodoxy is confirmed by the Spirit to the born again Christian or they are "carried around by every wind of doctrine" (or dichotomy, not mine). So which is it in relation to the philosophically unsavvy born again Christian?

Let me also add that I find it insulting that you seem to think that being philosophically savvy makes one a 'better' Christian than being ignorant, but having a fervent belief in Christ's supremecy and necessity in one's sinful life. Christ himself didn't come to the learned, but to the ignorant, the lowly.

Oops, meant "your dichotomy, not mine".

Hi Kevin, you must read a little more carefully and you mightn't get insulted from what I say. There are umteen scriptures criticizing believers for not being competent in the doctrines. Even the one is Hebrews which says "by now you ought to be teachers instead you need the elementary things to be taught to you instead". The lazy person with the intellectual ability has no excuse for his following every wind and doctrine because he didn't use his time to show himself approved.

Your feeling insulted is for no reason on my part, because I made it clear that it's possible to have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, have His influence in the heart, and never be able to defend the doctrine intellectually specifically as it regards the young in faith, young in life, mentally limited, and even the uneducated or just plain ignorant. Everyone will be judged on his talents given, so dont be insulted by what I say, take it up with the scriptures if you like.

Brad B

Hi Dennis, I was thinking about what you said and I dont think that it's the responsibility of or even the direct business of the lay person to label anyone a heretic. Church authority for discipline gives elders that duty to correct, admonish, teach, etc.. until a person rejects the process for whatever reason. Sometimes it's the Church authority that is errant, but they dont err in the duty of discilipline even if they've erred in doctrine. If the case is that the local body isn't disciplined by another head, the flock under that shepherd is at risk. This is the whole reason for creeds and confessions, they were hammered giving solid statements concerning orthodoxy to refute false doctrines whether they come from inside the Church or from outside.

Personal interaction with advocates of strange doctrines or perversions of known orthodox positions can be beneficial to the Christian when it drives him to the scriptures to see if it be so--like the Bereans did. In our day, we not only have the scriptures, but we have 2000 years of forerunners who've been the called out pastors and teachers of old that have dealt with nearly every attack on orthodoxy while they shepherded God's flock. We have their works to build our case with. To go there and then compare the former men of God with the scritpures is a tremendous resource for avoiding having confusion within oneself about what is true.

Brad B

Brad B

I have to object to the statament that "the trinity is the gospel." The trinity is the explanation of the true Godhead. But it is not the gospel. I would agree that one cannot deny the deity of Christ and of the Holy Spirit and that they are Persons along with the Father. That the underling truth of the trinity explanation is essential to the true gospel. But the trinity is nevertheless not the gospel.

I would wager that most Christians are either modalists or tritheists, . . . -- Kevin Winters

I have yet to met a modalist who was a genuine Christian. The day I do then the trinity teaching is false.

In saying this, I understand the modalist understanding is not without merit. Since they understand God is One Person. Yet the trinitian understanding is God to be three Persons. Both views cannot simply be right.

Van Til held God was both three Persons and One Person. But it is agreed that 3 is not equal to 1. What we have in the trinity explanation are three Persons who are equally God. 1 = 1 = 1. But they are three Persons. 1 + 1 + 1 = 3. Modalism typically denies the latter. Jesus in His prayer is cited to have said, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (John 17:3.)

Jesus taught He and the Father are two persons, "Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me." (John 8:15-18.)

Add to this, Jesus had taught, "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." (Mark 13:31, 32.) This only makes sense knowing Jesus our Lord is a different Person from God.

Yet in His pre-existence He was always a different Person and yet was God too. ". . . with God . . . was God." (John 1:1, 3; Genesis 1:1.)

As it is, any modalists I've come in contact with typically believed in baptismal regeneration. But then there are plenty of triniatians that believe the same error.

Hi Paul_S, I think the author probably was just taking a little liberty by saying that the doctrine of the trinity is the gospel. In a sense, I see his point, but that's because his explaination of why he said it made sense--in the way he meant it.

I'd agree with you 100% that the spreading of the gospel is not laying out a defense of the trinity. The behind the scenes cause for the spreading of the gospel may be found in understanding that the covenant between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit where plan A, [the only plan] was agreed to. This is where the doctrine of the trinity may by tied to the gospel.

The salvation of man is of God alone, *accomplished* between the Persons who've been revealed to us as 3 in 1. As we move and breathe and have our being, our lives are working out in time and space what'd been approved by God before the foudation of the world. And, in fact we do nothing under compulsion other and what we self determine while we do His will according to that plan A established between the Almighty Persons. They do/did Their part, and we willingly participate only because of what has been already done.

Brad B

P.S. what is the tie between modalism and babtismal regeneration? I am missing the link between the two. thanks


The admonition in Hebrews refers, as a few verses later clarifies, to "the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment" (6:2). I would imagine that any other reference you may have will be related similarly to that kind of doctrine, not systematic theologies of a speculative metaphysical nature. Theologically savvy Christians are way too quick to read "systematic theology" into every reference to "doctrine" in scripture.

As for the offense, you in fact do it again, this time more blatantly: a Christian who does not acquire philosophical sophistication is "lazy". In your mind, they are second rate Christians because they either do not take the time or have the aptitude to engage in abstract philosophical analysis. It is intellectual elitism, which is what I find insulting.


I think you miss my point: if you ask any average Christian, the ones sitting in the pews all around the world, what the nature of God is, I claim that they will, more likely than not, give either a modalistic or tritheistic account.

Peace! I'm out peoples. Thanks for the invigoratin' dialogue from which I will genuinely glean greater clarity. Much obliged.

Hi Kevin, you are kidding right? I have to ask because you've made it known that you are either a good comedian or a miserable exegete.

I guess if you see reason for insult still, it must be because you dont see what is available to you in the scriptures as you completely miss the meaning of Heb.5 and 6 I think you have issue with the scriptures not me.

Brad B


No, not a comedian, though I have been known to throw out a few good jokes every now and then. I see nothing in scripture that either encourages or sets the stage for developing and enforcing by pain of damnation elaborate systematic theologies that require a PhD in philosophy to understand. Rather, I see a gospel that even the unlearned can understand and benefit from, with no stipulations of having to become versed in philosophy.

As for your claim of my being a "miserable exegete", I think the meaning is relatively plain: Hebrews 5:12 refers to the "first principles of the oracles of God". Hebrews 6:1-2 then refers to the "principles of the doctrine of Christ" as the "foundation" of repentance, faith, baptism, laying on of hands, resurrection, and eternal judgment." I imagine my "miserable" interpretation stems from seeing a corollary between "first principles" and "principles of Christ...foundations", yes? Where in this is there an admonition to develop a systematic theology or an elaborate speculative understanding of the nature of the Godhead?

Now, if you think another scripture does better than this one, please feel free to give it. Otherwise, don't simply state, as if by divine fiat, that my interpretation is "miserable" without demonstrating how it is. You certainly wouldn't accept that from me.

Hi Kevin, I think you are reading into the scriptures yourself and it's telling to me that you call the doctrine of the trinity
"systematic theologies of a speculative metaphysical nature". Also, why isn't this just a theological issue, wrought out of the scriptures that would be completely problematic apart from the doctrine we embrace.

Your criticism of my implying that one who refuses to grow in knowledge of the doctrines of the historic faith is somehow insulting is just plain misplaced. I would never have thought that someone would suggest that it's insulting to suggest that they actually have reasons to believe what they say they believe.

Of course the Heb. scriptures in question are a scolding for not knowing more "by this time". Hence the "milk" simile reference clearly is speaking of baby spiritual food. The scolding is saying [from the context] "of Christ we have much to say, but since you are still eating only baby food, I cant feed you meat of the word yet". Then the warning in chapter 6 speaks of those who stagnate may wind up falling permanently away from the narrow road that leads to salvation. Of course those who do have he spirit, will fear and respond those who dont will disregard the warning.

Brad B


You are correct in my understanding and judgment of the Trinitarian doctrine: it is based on a non-Biblical metaphysic and ultimately leads to inconsistencies, particularly as it relates to the atonement, the center of the gospel. There is *nothing* of substances in the scriptures. Furthermore, as the unity shared by the Father and the Son seems to be extendable to us without qualification--"that they may be one, *even as we are one*" (John 17:22; see also John 14:20; John 17:11; 1 John 3:24)--I have sore doubts about substantial unity.

Again about the question of whether your view is insulting, that's a nice way to spin it: "I would never have thought that someone would suggest that it's insulting to suggest that they actually have reasons to believe what they say they believe." No, the way you put it earlier was that someone who didn't become philosophically savvy is "lazy". You aren't "suggesting", you are mandating and condemning those who do not become versed in philosophy. They are lazy, slothful, unfaithful, second-rate, even childish (see below) Christians in your mind, yes?

Lastly, on milk vs. meat, are you honestly suggesting that the Trinitarian doctrine is the "meat" John is speaking of? I must ask for a scripture that demonstrates such a claim, particularly since I highly doubt of its existence. The Trinitarian dogma has been imposed on scripture, not read from it. Yes, scriptures speak of the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, including their divinity (I’m not doubting any of that), but it *never* states the nature of their unity and most certainly doesn't mention substances and the necessary and sufficient abstract properties that make something what it is. Also, on a few occasions, when it speaks of that unity it speaks of it as potentially shared with man (again, see John 14 and 17; maybe throw in Peter 1:4 just for fun). But, no doubt, I am again being a "miserable exegete"...but forgive me for not reading John (or *any* Biblical writer) as a proto-Aristotelian substance-property metaphysical proponent.

P.S. what is the tie between modalism and babtismal regeneration? I am missing the link between the two. thanks -- Brad B

Hi Brad,
There is no link between the two false teachings other than they are both false. I have yet to meet or come in contact with a modalist who does not hold to baptismal regeneration. Just a personal observation. The principle problem with modalism is the denial that the Father, Son of God and the Holy Spirit are different Persons. Not that they are all the One God. Modalism holds that God is One Person NOT three Persons.


I think you miss my point: if you ask any average Christian, the ones sitting in the pews all around the world, what the nature of God is, I claim that they will, more likely than not, give either a modalistic or tritheistic account. -- Kevin Winters

Hi Kevin,
The problem is those who deny the true personhood of the Son of God and the Holy Spirit as being separate Persons from the Person of God the Father, are, sadly, deceived and yet lost. Which raises the question, how can we help them understand the truth? Without exception, denial of an essential truth is connected with a false (perverted) gospel of some kind.


So the average Christian sitting in the pews who can't give a sophisticated qua accurate Trinitarian account of the triune God's unity is, in fact, not a Christian and is not saved through Christ's sacrifice? Where is the apologetic war against such "perverted" Christians? Where is the equivalent of the anti-Mormon or anti-JW campaign to combat these perverters of the faith who, no doubt, use the same faulty explanation when talking to their family and neighbors about God's nature?

Whoa Kevin, I think Paul got it. :), I have noticed that the new format is glitched in a way that sometimes it doesn't post right away. I wrote a response to your last post to me and it didn't seem to make it but I wasn't going to click again because I recently double posted. :(. Anyway, I'm short on time so I'll recreate to the best of my ability asap.

I got this little thing called work getting in the way.

Brad B

Hi Kevin,
A child can understand that the Son of God is not the Father. And yet accept the idea they are both God. The modalist will insist because they are the same God they are only one person. Just as an follower of Arianism (JW) will insist they are not the same person, and therefore Jesus is not God. Jesus is the Son of God and not God as the argument goes. Yet that statment is true, even as Jesus is also God with His Father. The dual nature of the Son of God is another, yet related issue. John 1:1 states it simply. "with God" and "was God." If a genuine Christian ia shown that verse, he will not try to argue against its simple teaching. One, for example, does not need to know up front Jesus was virgin born in order to be saved. The importance of Jesus being the Son of God and truely a human being, is that, in order for Him to be a man and be the sinless Savior, He has to be God in the flesh. (John 1:1, 14.) The genuine averge Christian may not be equipped to agrue it. But upon being shown its truth and its importance is not going to agrue against it.


I'd already agreed on December 9th that one can readily understand "X is God. Y is God. Z is God. X is not Y or Z. Y is not X or Z. Z is not X or Y". But, again, that is a far cry from understanding the Trinity. Furthermore, as I've argued above, showing them those scriptures will not be sufficient to show them a *substantial* unity, which is *essential* for the Trinitarian dogma. Furthermore, even though they may not deny what you may say about the dogma itself, that doesn't mean that they will then understand and thereby have a correct belief as they may very well persist in their modalistic/tritheistic explanations (and we in apologetics know how long it can take to change someone's belief).

Yet the fact remains that misbelief on this, for you, is sufficient for the loss of salvation for Christians who are not philosophically savvy. So even though they faithfully and in good faith attend Church every week, sincerely pray for forgiveness, are upstanding 'salt of the earth' people, are paragons of Christian service, and see the absolute necessity of Christ's divinity and his sacrifice for their sins, they are damned heretics because they do not believe and affirm the *substantial* unity of the Godhead. And when they die (as many of them will never have the chance to be corrected by the philosophically savvy apologetics) and find themselves in hell, their pleas for understanding will be answered with, "You didn't affirm the Godhead's substantial unity." Do you honestly believe this?

Hi Kevin,

First, it is my understanding that Christians don't cease being born of God. Second, I would think that you would agree, one cannot be Christian by believing in the wrong God or wrong Jesus or wrong Holy Spirit or wrong Gospel for that matter. Salvation is not a matter of merit of belief. Or any kind of merit on the part of the believer. God keeps those whom He saves. Since salvation is what God does for the believer, not what the believer obtains through any merit of correct belief. It helps to first believe what is true and correct to begin with. Those who God has saved, have the Holy Spirit as their personal guide and the written word of God as the means to correctly instruct them (2 Timoty 3:16, 17.)

The lost heretics were never yet saved. Religous but lost, professing and thinking themselves to be Christians. And these are the ones, of which some in time fall away from the faith and call themselves ex-christians.


Ok, I'm confused about your exact position: so if someone has an incorrect belief in God's substantial Triune nature they cannot be saved (because they are "perverted" supposed-Christians), yet their salvation is not dependent on their belief because it is a pure act of God's grace? Which is it: is correct belief necessary for salvation (i.e. correct belief is one component of being saved; the bulk of so-called counter-cult work seems to be based on this notion) or is it not (as your Calvinistic view seems to entail)?

In the case of the latter, it seems like God could *very* easily decide to save every JW out there, since their salvation does not depend in any way on their beliefs or actions. Indeed, if grace truly is irresistible and no one 'deserves' salvation because their beliefs and actions are fundamentally irrelevant, then why all this fixation on orthodoxy since, in the end, it doesn't matter? God finds no delight in our good works or right beliefs because God is wholly self-sufficient and his enjoyment is completely independent of our works and beliefs. In fact, he would be just as happy and eternally joyous if every human being were sent to hell as if he decided to send every human being to heaven.

Of course, this puts your last paragraph into an interesting light: just because someone is a 'heretic' doesn't mean that they aren't saved. Perhaps the fruit of being saved hasn't been shown in their lives yet, as (apparently) demonstrated in their "perverted" beliefs. Which continues to reinforce my confusion: first belief seems to be necessary in your eyes (oh, ye judge of who is Christian and who is not, who is saved and who is not) and then belief is unnecessary, as it may not be a demonstration of one's currently saved status (as one can be a Hindi and just not had the opportunity to hear the gospel yet, so one cannot accept it, yet one is saved by God's divine choice) and it has *absolutely* no efficacy as far as one's saved status. So we have two things that are somehow *essential* for salvation, yet one of them deems the other as unnecessary as it has no efficacy, no potency. Which is it?

Ok, I'm confused about your exact position: so if someone has an incorrect belief in God's substantial Triune nature they cannot be saved (because they are "perverted" supposed-Christians), yet their salvation is not dependent on their belief because it is a pure act of God's grace? -- Kevin Winters.

One cannot become a Christian by believing in the wrong God, wrong Jesus or wrong gospel. Yet, God's grace, by which one is saved, is though belief in the true gospel. One cannot have the true gospel without the true God and His Christ. And believing the truth is never a matter of merit on our part. The new birth is what God does. Not what we think or do. (John 1:13.) It is God who does the saving. It is not our saving ourselves by our correct beliefs. For God does hold us responsable for believing or not believing the truth. And we can believe the truth until we are "blue in the face" and unless God does the saving we are yet lost. But God does do the saving. It is God who saves, not our faith. Yet God does make our faith the requirement, and that it must be without any claim of merit on our part. Else it would not be grace. Becaues we would be making our required faith a work.

Which is it: is correct belief necessary for salvation (i.e. correct belief is one component of being saved; the bulk of so-called counter-cult work seems to be based on this notion) or is it not (as your Calvinistic view seems to entail)? -- Kevin Winters.

Both. You cannot have one without the other.

(I am not a Calvinist. I believe Christ died to offer salvation to all men, not just the elect. I believe Christ died for all to be either one's Savior or one's Judge.)

Indeed, if grace truly is irresistible and no one 'deserves' salvation because their beliefs and actions are fundamentally irrelevant, then why all this fixation on orthodoxy since, in the end, it doesn't matter? -- Kevin Winters.

Since I'm not a Calvinist, I believe in resistible grace. And that grace is not deserved, and cannot be merited in any way. While grace exists for all (Titus 2:11) it is not an entitlement. While faith in the truth is the requirement, faith cannot be used to merit grace. To make faith to merit grace, is to resist the geuine grace by making one's faith as if to be work.

. . . So we have two things that are somehow *essential* for salvation, yet one of them deems the other as unnecessary as it has no efficacy, no potency. Which is it? -- Kevin Winters.

That makes no sense. Two things cannot be essential, if one of the things deems the other thing unnescessary.

Salvation is a necessity since all men are lost and in need of a Savior. Salvation cannot be merited, but must be recieved. One must not make the mistake of thinking the recieving some how merits the grace. Grace recieved is never merited. Not even by the required faith. The required faith, believing in the actual God, and the real Savior, and the genuine gospel of grace.

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