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August 06, 2012


Because Love rescues me, I am saved, and, because I am saved, Love has rescued me. There is something about a Door, and a Knocking, and an Opening to that Knocking, perhaps, and, or lest, Love come to the Door, and Knock, well then, Who shall we open too? None. I would offer that scripture shows us "What must I do to be saved" followed by Rescue in contexts which lack the Trinity and the Virgin Birth and all the rest. But we never see the Rescue short of Words (in some form) about that Word Who is Himself Love. I think that, or Him, is the Necessary One upon initiation. After that the fatal error is to think we can be "static" in Growth/Understanding or Sight. There is, or we observe, in Life or in Alive-Things (and that includes New Life) ceaseless Motion on some level somewhere and perhaps that is where all the rest comes in. To whom little.... to whom much....

It's an often overlooked point that the early Church, even the apostles, didn't really have an intact theology of the Trinity. Statements are made, like you said, about Jesus being "the" lord (Kurios) and we find God's attributes being described about Jesus. But I doubt most early Christians had a good concept of the Trinity.

Then again, I doubt we really have a good concept of the Trinity either... ;)

Greg did not express himself as well as he could have. I know he does not believe this, but if this is all I ever heard from Greg, I might think that having a certain world-view is what saves. As if it God magically rewards people for philosophically correct views.

Faith means understanding the words of the promise, accepting them as true and trusting in them as a result. The reason this is so important for salvation is that salvation comes to us as a graciously offered gift received. It is generally true about gifts that one must understand, accept and trust that they have been given in order for the benefit of the gift to be received.

A trusty old example is this. Suppose that I put a million dollars into your bank account. You'll still suffer in poverty if you don't understand me when I say that there's a million dollars in your bank account, if you don't believe that it's true and you don't trust me enough to start writing checks.

That's why we are saved by grace through faith. It's not a reward for holding the right world-view or for any other work. It is simply part of what it means to receive a gift.

Part of even getting to the level of understanding the gift God has given us is captured in the words of the Apostle's, Nicene and Athanasian Creeds. Believing the claims they make to be true is a necessary, though not sufficient, condition for salvation. Satan believes all of these claims and trembles.

The trinity consists of seven claims:

1) There is exactly one God.
2) The Father is God.
3) The Son is God.
4) The Holy Spirit is God.
5) The Father is not the Son, and vice versa.
6) The Father is not the Holy Spirit, and vice versa
7) The Son is not the Holy Spirit, and vice versa.

I believe that the early church, right from the start, believed all of these claims just fine. This is because they're all pretty clearly taught by Scripture.

What happened is that later on, Sabellius introduced confusion through his modalist teaching. Then Arius overreacted to modalism and introduced an opposite confusion. This is what forced the church into an extended debate, which culminated in the three Creeds I mentioned above.

Interesting take. You are correct in that much doctrine hinges on Jesus coming to Earth to pay the price of sin. The virgin birth, Jesus being God, the authority of Scripture - these are all essential truths that complete that story.

As to whether a person must have all these doctrines thoroughly understood before one believes... excellent question. I think it is clear from Scripture that knowledge and salvation mature as the Spirit guides us in all Truth. So you may have a point that salvation is simply our birth - and while an infant may not have mature knowledge, no one could deny that it is alive and a part of a family.

WL eludes to that critical difference between Belief and Trust; the former being a static state of awareness and the later being a statement of motion. That Self and that Other on each side of that Door here may perhaps enter but clearly Satan believes, has that static state of awareness, while he lacks that motion of the Self unto the Other which we find within the Community of the Triune, and, thus, Satan is by default void of any I-You, void of any We, thus void of Love, thus void of God, a Created-Self void of the only Life there is, the Uncreated Other. He finds himself in that fierce imprisonment within the Isolated-Self, the Pure-I of the Love-Less. A correct worldview is of no use to him for he lies dead: Motionless.

I'm surprised nobody, including Greg, mentioned the importance of the claim that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ. It seems to me that was the central claim of the early church, and it's why Jesus' followers came to be known as Christians.


That Jesus, who was born of the Virgin Mary and who suffered under Pontius Pilate, is the Christ, the Son of God, and the One God is explicit in the Creeds.

Faith is a fruit of the Spirit. Therefore, you have to already be saved in order to have it. Therefore, infants, idiots, and heathen beyond the reach of the Gospel are saved if regenerated.
If they ever hear the Gospel they will believe, as with any Divine truth.

It seems that perhaps the Door into the God Who Is-Love would be the God Who Is-Love.

It seems odd that many describe the [path into] the Uncreated-Other, into that God Who Is-Love, by any Created-Self who seeks to enter Him, describe it as a Door comprised of something less than the Uncreated, of which, or rather of Whom, there is but One. Can the Un-Created have [Within His Body Wall] something that is Created through which the Created passes to enter into the Uncreated? Does His Skin have a Created-Door by which the Created, upon traversing, thereby enters into Him? No. That [Outer Layer] of the Uncreated or that Door-Into the Uncreated can be but the Body-Wall of the Uncreated Himself, of Love Himself, else we have not entered Into His Interior. The God Who Is-Love is the Door to the God Who Is-Love. How can it be any other way? Man-In-God cannot happen but through God’s Own Body Wall just as God-In-Man cannot happen but by God crossing over that boundary into the Created’s own body wall. God In Man, and, Man In God. It cannot happen any other way in either direction as the Uncreated and the Created dive into each other and this in Love’s Delight. Shall the Bridegroom and Bride be forever apart? No. Within Him we find that Motion Among and Between Real Selves and that odd delight of the Self giving away Him-Self and this for His Beloved Other, and vice versa, and this in loving return of the Other who also shouts in delight [Thine And Not Mine], [Other and not Self], and vice versa, and the Many are therein One, and vice versa. This Eternally-Sacrificed-Self is found Manifest high on a Hill, arms spread wide, doing here that which He does forever inside Himself within the Triune, pouring Himself out and that for His Beloved Other, whom He claims is you and I, and this God Who Is-Love, this Eternally-Sacrificed-Self, is Himself the Door into Himself, and all other doors, should they fail to Cross His Body-Wall, will by default find themselves somehow not-quite-across the Uncreated-Skin of Love Himself, and thus are found somehow not quite Inside His Interior for though they travel far, they inevitably lack that last five millimeters of that which must be the very Skin of the Uncreated Himself. Word is Made Flesh and Man is found In God and God is found In Man. The Uncreated and the Created traverse across, over, into, and each does so by the other’s own skin, and vice versa. Do we really think it could have ever happened any other Way?

WL: That Jesus, who was born of the Virgin Mary and who suffered under Pontius Pilate, is the Christ, the Son of God, and the One God is explicit in the Creeds.

Where did that come from, WisdomLover? What does that have to do with what I said?

Sam: I'm surprised nobody, including Greg, mentioned the importance of the claim that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ.

WL:That Jesus, who was born of the Virgin Mary and who suffered under Pontius Pilate, is the Christ, the Son of God, and the One God is explicit in the Creeds.

I guess my response assumes that Jesus of Nazareth is identical to Jesus, the Son of Mary who was crucified under Pontius Pilate.

Since the Creed calls this same person the Christ, I think what I was getting at is that if believing the claims made in the Creeds is necessary for salvation (as I asserted above), then, ipso facto believing that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ is also necessary for salvation.

In other words, I was arguing that I had, at least indirectly, mentioned the very important creedal claim you identified.

Oh, okay. I get it now.

The minimum belief necessary for salvation is a Calvinist view of the minimum belief necessary for salvation...


I'm not a Calvinist, but I think what your quip above amounts to saying is this:

The Calvinist view on the minimum belief necessary for salvation is true.
Are you here endorsing the Calvinist view on this subject?

Or are you claiming that Calvinists actually hold to a viciously regressive view?

CalvinistViewOf(MBNFS) =
CalvinistViewOf(CalvinistViewOf(MBNFS)) =
CalvinistViewOf(CalvinistViewOf(CalvinistViewOf(MBNFS))) =
So that, in the end, the Calvinist has an empty notion of the minimum belief necessary for salvation?

Do you really believe that? You think the Calvinists who read this page will roll over because of that criticism? Maybe they should, but you're going to need to spell that out. A one-liner isn't going to do it.

Or are you attempting to lampoon Calvinist attitudes about this subject. If so, the lampoon comes down to this:

Calvinists believe that the Calvinist view on the minimum belief necessary for salvation is true (and isn't that absurd?)

Ho. Ho. I get the joke. But two can play at that game:

Roman Catholics believe Roman Catholicism is true


As I look at Isa. 1:16, 55:7, Ezek 18 I see in the Old Testament it was a matter to turning to God's ways and obeying Him. In other words, repent and be saved. Acts 17:30 has the same message.

The real issue is how much do we as the evangelist do and how much does the Holy Spirit do, and how much does the person coming to Christ do.

Repent means God is asking a question, and our answer is "Yes!" According to John 7:16-17, that results in faith that Jesus speaks God's words. So our part as the evangelist is to help the person repent (change his mind). Then we clarify the atonement. The Holy Spirit responds to repentance with sufficient faith to be saved. The person responds to the faith He has been given with the best he knows how of giving his life to Christ. In effect giving God permission to come into his life and change him to be the kind of person He wants to live with forever. "The best he knows how", feeble as it is, the Holy Spirit multiplies like the 5 loaves and 2 fish and recreates the person into a someone born again, a new creation.

So in effect I agree with Greg's conclusion. I just get there a little differently. Matthew 2:21 makes it clear that it is more than want we do that saves us. Beyond faith, we must want Who Christ is. That's what a person who has repented looks like, they want God in their life. Without that, our preaching is futile. We need to work on that first.

Romans 10:9-10 NASB
9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.


That was really funny. I'm being serious....genuinely hilarious...I approve.

Here is the passage you quote, robro, in fuller context

But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: Do not say in your heart, "Who will ascend into heaven?" (that is, to bring Christ down), or "Who will descend into the abyss?" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed. (Isaaiah 28:16)" For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord (Jesus) is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him (Jesus); for "Whoever will call on the name of the Lord (Jesus) will be saved. (Joel 2:32)"
(Since identifying Jesus as Lord is crucial, according to this passage, I added, for emphasis, parenthetical reminders that the Lord is Jesus.)

Paul says that whoever calls on the name of the Lord (Jesus) will be saved. But notice that Joel says that whoever calls on the name of the LORD (YHWH) will be saved. Paul knows to whom he was referring, and He knows to whom Joel was referring. He was saying that Jesus=YHWH. This speaks to item-3 in the seven parts of Trinitarian doctrine that I mentioned above.

To believe that Jesus is Lord, is to believe that He is YHWH-God. To believe that God raised Him from the dead is to believe that He, Jesus-YHWH, died. And that is to believe that He, Jesus-YHWH, was alive and in human is to believe in the Incarnation.

The bottom line is, that to believe in Jesus to believe in the person described in the Creeds. To believe that Jesus does not fit that description is not to believe in Jesus at all.

Ask the thief on the cross.

Ask the thief on the cross.

Exactly. And again, Jesus confounds our expectations, as He did over and over throughout the gospels.

What are we supposed to ask the thief?

He started the day reviling Christ. (See Mark 15:27-32 and Matthew 27:38-44) But at the end of the day he asked Christ to remember him (See Luke 23:39-43).

You think he worked up to that conversion on his own?

I don't.

I think he was evangelized for three hours by the Sovereign of the Universe. That's what changed his reviling into repentance. I think that, by the time Christ was done with him, the thief probably had far more than the minimum belief necessary for salvation.

One implication is that people who die in infancy are not saved. God makes the rules. And who are we to question them?

Why would you say that Maria. You are assuming infants cannot have faith? That's more than I know.

I do know this. While I am sleeping, and not in a dream state, I am not currently in a belief state. Furthermore, while I am distracted, say by hitting my thumb with a hammer, I do not have a current belief in the Trinity or even that there was ever a man named Jesus. But I do not believe that if I hit my thumb with a hammer and immediately die as a result, or if I die in the midst of a dreamless sleep, that I'm damned.

Why wouldn't I be?

Well, because, though I don't currently have any belief or trust in Christ, under the right conditions I would understand and affirm the creedal claims, and trust in Christ as a result.

This is the way we talk about all sorts of things, not just saving faith. Is it true of me, while asleep, that I believe that Obama is president (or even that there is such a thing as Obama)?

Well, yes and no.

I'm not currently in such a belief state. But under the right conditions (e.g. after I've been awakened, gathered my wits and had the chance to consider the issue), I would be in such a belief state.

So a mental state might be currently held. It might also be that all that exists is a disposition to currently hold said mental state under the right conditions. But in both cases, we may fairly say that I have the mental state in question.

I see no reason to suppose that infants might have saving faith in the sense that they might be disposed, under the right conditions, to believe and trust in Christ.

If a neonate (or a fetus, for that matter) can believe such things, then we evidently mean something rather non-standard by "belief". And that should be noted.

What's non-standard?

Under the right conditions, they would have a current belief that X.

That might be as true of a pre-born human as it is of a slumbering adult.

The claim than an early-stage embryo has propositional attitudes is about as plausible as the claim that a houseplant has deep thoughts about its own existence. You're free to go down that road, but I'll not be joining you.


Would you compare a person in a coma to a houseplant as well?

Let's not be silly, KWM. If you wish to think that a early-stage embryo is like an adult in a temporary coma, you're free to do that. But that's also not a road I'll be taking.

Thank you, Maria. I just wanted to sort through your houseplant comparison. Another implication of your houseplant comparison would be a person that’s lost most of his or her cognitive faculties through brain injury, etc. I would assume you wouldn’t compare them to a houseplant either?

That said, it seems that in your view, a person must have first been in a mental state to hold certain beliefs? Would this be accurate?

My position regarding houseplants: houseplants do not have, and never have had, mental lives. This contrasts with adult human beings, including adult human beings who have lost "most" cognitive faculties. Regarding you question: to hold a certain belief is to have "mental state". It is, perhaps, logically possible to be in a mental state and hold a belief without having had any prior mental state. But this talk of mental states is your jargon, not mine; perhaps you should define if you mean something more particular by it.

Where, may I ask, are you going with this? If you can't provide a clear answer, please understand my wish to await comments from someone else.

Thanks, Maria. I didn’t mean to frustrate you. I’m just trying to understand your point about infants / not having faith / and salvation not being available to them.

One implication is that people who die in infancy are not saved. God makes the rules. And who are we to question them?

I was just asking questions (of you) and at no point did I even tell you my view. I didn’t realize this was a sensitive issue for you. I thought you would have more to add to your assertion that’s all.

It's a difficult topic.


“this talk of mental states is your jargon, not mine”

Christians do not use mental aptitude tests to determine worth. Do you?

This is your jargon, it seems? Fetus? Mental State? I think that was your jargon and your question initially?

How God handles those outliers is not given a specific approach in scripture. But, we do know that Worth is not attached to Mental-Aptitude scores on exams. We also are told that there is some sort of age of accountability. That can mean a lot of things. I make no guesses here.

Age of Accountability…. To whom little is given……. To whom much is given……. Grace…. Ransom…. All of those are far more moral than giving an aptitude exam to someone to see if they are “worthy”.

Such Judgment is in His hands and not ours. In fact, all Judgment has been put in the hands of Love Made Flesh. He tells us much about the average adult who has seen “something” or “enough” but He tells us very little, almost nothing, of the outliers you seek to dissect down to a hair’s width (you raised the fetus issue). I’m not really sure we can accommodate such a hair’s width on such outliers without guessing. Guessing gets messy. Darn messy.

KWM’s question about first having a “mental state” echoes a possible “age” or “state” of accountability.

Some things need to be left in His Hands. The Father put those things in Those Hands and not ours. Maybe for a good reason?

A Fetus has a larger brain than a fly. Do flys "think" or "know" in any way at all? I think that is the only point of WL's comment to you about "standard" application to small brains and big brains and old brains and young brains. The "state" will be judged by Him and Him alone, but that a "state exists" in a brain larger than a fly's Central Nervous System (fetus) as well as in a fly's Central Nervous System is "standard" application of the concept it seems, and I assume that was WL's analysis.

Hmmm.... Fetus vs. Fly on brain power? The Fetus brain is larger, but, ever try to catch a Fly?

I really have no idea how Love will handle the outliers...... He knows, though.

The kind of inference I am alluding to is simple:

1. Certain particular propositional beliefs are necessary for salvation. (Koukl's claim)

2. Early-stage embryos don't have propositional beliefs.

3. Therefore, Early-stage embryo's don't have the particular propositional beliefs necessary for salvation.

4. Therefore, those who die as early-stage embyros are not saved.

There is also an "age of accountability" or "state" of accountability. I really have no idea how Love will handle such outliers outside of that age or that state.... Scripture does say "XYZ belief" [AND] it [ALSO] mentions an age or state of some sort.... where that hard line is I do not know at all. I'm terrible at catching flies. They are too darn smart.

But perhaps you do know Maria? If Greg is wrong, then what would be your take on this?

scbrownlhrm, let's just disagree. I'd like to wait for someone else to comment.


There's every reason to think that early stage embryos do not have current belief states. Just as there's every reason to think that sleeping people do not have current belief states. (And there is also every reason to believe that houseplants do not have current belief states.)

But there's no reason at all to think that early stage embryos do not have the disposition, under the right circumstances, to be in a particular current belief state. And you have provided not even a hint at an effort to show that they do not.

Indeed there are some such dispositions that I am certain that early stage embryos do have. For example, it is true of every early stage embryo that, under the right circumstances, they would hold a current belief that the sky is blue. Every human person, in fact, who holds the current belief that the sky is blue is nothing other than an early stage embryo who has finally found itself in the right circumstances.

This is also true, of course, for the sleeper. But is decidedly not true of the houseplant.

When we say that a person believes something, X. We almost always mean that he has the disposition, not that he is in the current belief state. There are actually very few (if any) current beliefs states that I am always in...even while I am conscious. And at any given moment of consciousness, I am holding only a handful of current belief states. The vast, vast, vast bulk of my beliefs, even at my most heightened moments of consciousness, are mere dispositions to have a current belief state.

So when you say "Does A believe X?" The usual and ordinary meaning is "Does A have the disposition, under the right circumstances, to have a current belief state that X is true?" If you want really to ask whether X is currently in the belief state that X is true, that's when you have to carefully frame your language.

Yours is quite the defense. If early-stage embryos (a zygote, e.g.) have, under the right circumstances, dispositions to be in a particular "current belief state," then its quite likely that atheists, infidels, monkeys and houseplants do as well. Just change the "circumstances" enough, and they'll all have the relevant dispositions.


Houseplants never get into belief states. We have no evidence of that. There are no circumstances that would ever cause a houseplant to have any current belief state. Unless, of course, you want to change the circumstances for the houseplant so much that it's no longer a houseplant.

On the other hand, there is incontrovertible evidence that early stage human embryos do eventually get into current belief states, and you don't have to change their species in order for that to happen.

As for the monkey business, the answer is pretty obvious given what I've already said. The case is similar, but not identical, to the case of the houseplants. Monkeys, unlike houseplants, do probably form some current belief states, and have even more dispositions to form such belief states under the right circumstances. But, like houseplants, they do not form any of such complexity as, say, Trinitarian theology. We've never observed monkeys doing that. Changing the circumstances enough so that they can is to turn them into something they are not.

Finally, it seems that atheists and infidels, when placed in the right circumstances do not evidence a current belief state, but a disbelief state.

When trying to determine what dispositions a thing has, there's not much better evidence of the presence or absence of a disposition to act in a certain way under certain circumstances than that the thing does or does not act that way under those circumstances. We couldn't have much better evidence that atheists and infidels do not have a disposition to believe in Christ (and, in fact, have a disposition to disbelieve in Christ) than we have.

If a zygote is to "get into belief states", as you put it, then the circumstances have to change so much that they are no longer zygotes.

On the other hand, if the circumstances are changed enough on fish, then it can get into the relevant belief state, and we don't have to change its phylum in order for that to happen. (But what is this supposed to tell us about the mental capacity of fish?)

Any change a being undergoes involves its going from something it is to something it isn't. When you wake up a sleeper, he's no longer a sleeper. A being that is not in the right circumstances to form a certain belief is going to, perforce, change from something it is to something it is not should it ever find itself in the right circumstances (if nothing else, it goes from being a thing that is not in the right circumstances to one that is in the right circumstances).

The issue is whether the thing survives the change in question or is destroyed by it (perhaps to be replaced by something else). The houseplant you started with before you did your genetic manipulation to 'make it into a Trinitarian' is gone.

If a living thing undergoes a change of species, the thing in question is gone (and has been replaced by a different living thing). Changing the species of a thing destroys that thing.

But you don't change the species of the sleeper by waking him up. And you don't change the species of a zygote by letting it develop.

Changing your houseplants or monkeys or fishes, so that that they can form complex belief states isn't about letting natural processes go forward. It's about overturning natural processes and replacing them with synthetic processes so that you change the nature of the houseplant, monkey or fish. It's about destroying the houseplant, monkey or fish and replacing it with a different creature altogether.

BTW, I note that you keep adding new types of organisms to our list of potential non-human Trinitarians. First we had houseplants, then we added monkeys. Now fish. Do you think that by sheer accumulation of varieties of organism your argument will somehow become plausible?

Just for the record, I don't think the E. Coli bacteria or blue-green algae can have a disposition to have Trinitarian belief states either.

What's next? The jackalope?

WL, I don't think this is going anywhere productive. If you want to insist that zygotes have propositional attitudes, then so insist. We probably don't share enough common ground to productively discuss these things.

I'm somewhat surprised that you thought your comments would lead us somewhere productive.

What exactly was it that you had hoped to produce with our little discussion here?

Were you hoping that the readers of this blog, who, I'm sure, never thought about the fate of pre-rational human beings prior to your incisive remarks, would come to realize the error of their ways?

Many wish to take "one statement" and then define someone's whole theology on that. For example, "Greg says you need beliefs A, B, C" and "therefore" he [also is saying] babies can't be saved. Folks do this all the time; putting words in other’s mouths, so to speak, and using A to prove B, while B was never posited. The “change of species” thread really is helpful. Mankind is Mankind, and, while we hear many (not Maria) say “DNA is all that matters and all there is and drives everything, ultimately” (we dance to its music) we suddenly hear them drop that when we remind them that a zygote has fully Human DNA. Thus “Zygotes don’t have worth” really means there is something more than “just” DNA after all, but the bridge across that gap is an odd one. Personhood for the Christian is not dependent on one’s score on an aptitude test. It lies “somewhere else”.

Greg actually does comment on [babies and beliefs], at about the two minute mark with this Video here.

@wisdomlover - yes, that's pretty clear even in that shorted passage I quoted. I agree with you. Believe Jesus is God, believe he rose from the dead (having died for our sins), and follow him as Lord, and no longer our sinful selves.

I think the issue here is the ability to think clearly and honestly. It's one thing to convince yourself that zygotes have propositional beliefs about God (yes, zygotes folks!); it's a step further to defend such an idea with all manner of long-winded and convoluted argument--all the while entirely failing to appreciate why the idea is dubious.

I do not think Zygotes have propositional beliefs. Nor do I think a sleeping adult human being does. Not until he is awakened. It is the awakening that is the issue, not the state of sleep or of the zygote.

Then one's salvation does not depend on having particular propositional beliefs, or sleeping people are not saved.

The New Testament tells us we are now in a Gestation, a Pregnancy, and there is now groaning, pain, and we will one day be birthed, and we will awaken to Love's Kingdom.....

Eye has not seen.... it is beyond what we can believe, or know, or guess....

....may I be awakened, please, Love, please......for all of us.....

Ah, the refuge of faith: "It's all so mysterious, but it must only just seem like nonsense."

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