We are dealing with a broad spectrum of belief here. From those who think sin is inherited genetically to the universalists who don’t believe anyone is ending up eternally in hell. I am in the middle of that spectrum. I do take the Bible seriously when it speaks of eternity in hell, but I don’t believe in a genetic inheritance of sin. Unlike you, I will not say that 2-year-olds do not sin. We sinners get in our practice pretty early in life. But I was finding a way of agreeing with your conclusions even if I wasn’t buying into quite the same reasons for it any more than I find the “age of accountability” idea/argument very believable. I do agree that eternal hellfire for infants and 2-year-olds is absurd. I would even agree with the universalists that the idea anything we do in a finite lifetime deserves eternal torment is unbelievable. So I find a different solution to this theological conundrum than others do. You can say that I see an innocence in toddlers that is more than just the question of whether they have committed any sins. Toddlers are quite capable of doing things they know are wrong and then lying about it. You would have to be blind to deny this. And it would be wrong to tell them that their actions are not sinful. So it seems very logical to me that a different approach is needed to do this correctly.
Let me clear up a misunderstanding. The poster Mitchell came at me, misunderstanding my use of the word, “unbeliever”, and thinking that I held that, “believing” somehow equated salvation. That is not what I believe. To me, anyone who is not a faithful follower, or disciple, of Jesus Christ is an unbeliever, regardless of what they call themselves. Authentic Christianity is a lifestyle, to which we are called give 100% of ourselves - it’s the only way it can be done. The rest of my post showed the wrongheadedness of the thought that there is no intellectual understanding involved in having the life and faith that Jesus desires in his followers.
Secondly, the salvation of unbelievers is a different discussion. God sent his son to be tortured and murdered as a sacrifice for sins, so I trust that he will fairly judge those who have not heard of Jesus and the gospel. But I don’t agree with you that your daughter has sinned at 5 years old. I put the age of accountability at about 12, a common view though of course it depends on the person. Young children are not accountable for their lives and if they die will end up with God, so young kids dying, happily, is not part of the, “destination of unbelievers” discussion.
I agree with the above.
We are the new creation (2 Cor 5:17):
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
Real faith starts with believing that our sins had a hand in killing Jesus Christ and, from that, making changes on the inside, that will eventually lead to being-again and leading a new life, becoming, as Paul said, a new creation. I don’t know what, “embodied participation in the new creation” is referring to. But I will repeat, from my last post, that authentic Christianity is not going out into the world, “to do good” but becoming a new creation and leading a life that will, because of our changes of hearts and outlooks, will naturally entail doing good works.
I don’t agree with that at all. I grew up [moderator edit: in a different faith tradition] and don’t now consider it authentic Christianity (or any group that doesn’t teach and live out the true gospel). I then was taught numerous things about Jesus, salvation and the church that are not just non-biblical, they are anti-biblical. Doctrine isn’t a dirty word, not to Paul anyway. There can be no, “church reconciliation” with groups that don’t agree on the basics of the faith, and mostly, in any case, don’t hold that we have to be born-again followers of Christ to be saved. I believe, as Jesus laid out in Matthew 28, in making disciples of those who aren’t, as those did who met me on the street on one fateful day and introduced me to the word of God.
Yes, I agree that being humble and contrite is critical to having a saving faith. But we still have to be born-again followers of Christ to be admitted into his kingdom. Being humble in contrite is essential to being a true Christian.
No issues with that!
And here they are! Hope they help!
Thanks for the compliment of my post, Beaglelady.
I’m against, oppression, of course, but what would God expect a Christian to do to fight it? The only thing I can think of is to make disciples so that hearts will change and consequently there will be less oppression.
I did do that, didn’t I? Clearly I was reacting to a pet peeve and throwing it all at you. Apologies.
I am not buying a gospel of salvation by correct lifestyle any more than I am buying a gospel of salvation by correct doctrine. Furthermore, I dispute your claim both to one of “authentic Christianity” and to the “Christianity is a lifestyle” deal. That comes from an insipid parochial confusion of Christianity with a particular culture. And there is no such thing as authentic or true Christianity, not on earth with human beings there is not! There is only a spectrum of beliefs within a semantic categorization.
First and foremost, Christianity is a major religion best defined (in order to distinguish it from other major religions) by the first ecumenical agreement in Nicea 325AD and by the Biblical cannon decided upon soon afterwards as a written authority for the beliefs of this religion. But I repudiate any attempt to claim a monopoly on truth, God, or salvation for this religion and its membership.
Secondly, Christianity should be identified particularly with the teachings of Jesus and Paul in the Bible, since much of the text is inherited from Judaism and thus predates Christianity. Jesus in particular should be the lens through the Bible is understood and Paul is notable as the more educated writer who does the best job at nailing down many of the theological details, though a few corrections by others should not be ignored either.
This is not supported by the text. God who is not limited to a singularity of person, became a human being in the person we call the Son, sent by the Father and born as a helpless infant and growing up among us and learning just as we all do. This is indeed a central teaching of Christianity and while there are many characterizations of God taught by Xtians which I do not believe in, this is one I do believe in.
But no it does not say that God sent his son to be tortured and murdered. Was it predictable? Very much so. But foreordained? The text suggests otherwise. Jesus prayed, “if it at all be possible let this cup pass from me.” Like Socrates, Jesus was a willing sacrifice. But the responsibility of those who brought these events to pass is not excused by any divine plan. Beside, Jesus made it quite clear why He was sent. He came that we might know the truth of God and be redeemed. And while it is true, that this usually doesn’t happen until we hit rock bottom, even killing the innocent and our own saviors, this requirement doesn’t come from God but from our own perversity.
YES!!! Amen to that, a hundred times over! This really is indeed what it is all about. …that is Christian faith anyway. “Faith” in general is clearly much bigger than that, for after all, Jesus continually spoke of faith before this event you refer to happened.
@Richard_Wright1, thanks for your kind comments! This is a safe place to talk about important things and disagree. We know that God’s not threatened by honest questions.
That is the portion I was really trying hardest to understand, as well. I think that he could have put it more clearly; and the Onscript link above does a better job. However, here’s a review that you might find more clear, by someone who also holds reservations/skepticism. http://mydigitalseminary.com/salvation-by-allegiance-alone/ I admit that though I’ve read the review and listened to this podcast and one by Julie Roys at Moody, I think there is a lot more to it.
I appreciate your thoughts on 12 years of age as the age of accountability; and if God doesn’t enforce the need for salvation and being born again in certain age groups, does this extend to others, eg the mentally handicapped? Are there degrees of responsibility and relationship to God?
Oh, I don’t know about that. Look at Isaiah 53, one of the great messianic passages:
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression[a] and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.[b]
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes[c] his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life[d] and be satisfied[e];
by his knowledge[f] my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,[g]
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,[h]
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
And many other prophetic passages in the OT.
The NT continues the theme of a foreordained death:
In John, Jesus said, ““Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”
After the resurrection, Jesus explained that it was written that the Christ would have to suffer.
And in the Revelation, it is explained that the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world.
Why not end with some prophetic passages from Handel’s Messiah?
Sorry all this is thrown together; I’m eating dinner at the same time I’m posting!
Well, I’m open to a better perspective popping up. Anyways, it’s good you don’t buy into the idea of genetic inheritance of sin, since the entire idea of original sin was made up by Augustine. Pete Enns is a good scholar. See his posts about original sin in the Old and New Testaments (NT link also explains how Augustine made it all up, pretty informative).
Beautiful clip of Handel. Pretty good job for doing while you’re eating!
The question about substitutionary atonement has always been a problem for me; and I appreciate Macdonald’s thoughts on that in “Justice.” http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/2010/06/george-macdonald-justice-hell-and.html
But one stumbling block to me has recently been the New Testament use of the Old Testament. Maybe you can comment more and teach me on that. Since Isaiah 53 was about the suffering servant, Israel, and Second Temple Judaism (including early Christians) tended to creatively interpret OT passages to indicate relationship to the current situation (in the Christian instance, Jesus) that the original writers were not initially holding in their minds, I struggle sometimes with the reliability of the NT writers–but Pete Enns does help to put that in context. https://peteenns.com/jesus-and-the-old-testament/new-testament-writers-used-the-old-testament/ -also elsewhere on his blog. He says that it was accepted back then; we’re just not the ones who accept it. Maybe @Korvexius or others can explain this better for me too.
Thanks for the beautiful link.
Prophesies after the fact are the “foreknowledge” of hindsight. There is nothing in the text which identifies Isaiha 53 as a prophesy, and the Jewish do not and never have read it as any such thing. The text, much like the book of Job, is originally about Israel and how God seems to make them suffer disproportionately. So they came to believe that they are the suffering servant and this became especially true in the holocaust where their insane slaughter became a lesson to the whole world about the depths of depravity mankind is capable of. To be sure, this doesn’t change the fact that this is an apt description of Jesus. But to call this prophesy is rather questionable. And this just brings me back to my assertion… predictable? Absolutely! But foreordained? Not supported by the text – not until after the fact. And that, by the way, is how I would describe Jesus’ own foretelling of the crucifixion. He could certainly see where events were leading but this did not mean there there was no hope for an alternative way things could have gone. It is crystal clear that Jesus was a willing sacrifice, even in the allusion to Socrates cup in His Garden prayer, but while this may speak to you of weakness, to me only it only speaks of regret that events are going in such a dire direction. Certainly Jesus was no more willing to compromise than Socrates, but this doesn’t quite equal foreordained.
What?What?What? Isaiah was a prophet! (Isaiah might have been written by 2 or 3 prophets, but still…)
After the resurrection, Jesus said to his disciples,
“How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
You might find a good study Bible helpful, like the Harper Study Bible.
Well, that is what happened back then in Jewish circles. Anyways, if you want to really know how the New Testament used the Old Testament, you might as well not pretend to get it and actually read how it worked. See Richard Hays’ book Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (1989). Before the book, scholars basically thought Paul misrepresented the Old Testament in his uses of it, but Hays single-handedly shifted the entire scholarly view. Hays’ two other books on this topic, just as important as his first one, are Reading Backwards (2014) and Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels (2016). Hays might end up as the most important scholar of our generation, in my opinion.
Thanks. I am sorry, I didn’t mean to sound like I knew it all. I actually did download at least part of Reading Backwards (maybe in response to your advice a while ago? Yike! Egg on my face; I started it, but was not able to finish. I have been able to read no real books in the last few months because of chart work. I can maybe get it on Audible; that’s the way I get books now). It sounds great; Which of the 3 do you recommend first?
Just because Isaiah was a prophet doesn’t mean that everything written in Isaiah is a prophesy of something which is going to happen in the future. For example, Isaiah 1:10-17 is God telling the Israelites how He feels sick of sacrifices and religious meetings and would very much prefer them to stop doing evil and do some good for a change. So saying that Isaiah was a prophet is a rather poor excuse, even if it is one which has been used by Christians for millennia for treating this text as a prophesy of Jesus. The fact is that there is nothing in the text which says this is about the promised messiah. I already explained how the Jewish people understood this text but if you want to something more textual then you can go back to the beginning in Isaiah 52:3, where it gives the context of this whole section of Isaiah.
I am not saying that Christians have no right to adapt this text to their particular needs, but only making clear that it is an adaptation and it is not like the Israelites were expecting a messiah who would be crucified because such a thing was prophesied. Not only would they unanimously deny that there was any such prophecy but the very idea of a sacrificial messiah is pure nonsense to them. As a Christian, I do believe Jesus died for our sins, but I do not believe it is because of some bizzare idea of justice which requires an innocent person to pay for the crimes of guilty people. The metaphor works but the the literal treatment of this is just wrong. Nailing Jesus to the cross was NOT doing the will of God. It was a totally wrong and a crime! This is something the text also make pretty clear.
Even if there were such a prophesy, the book of Jonah demonstrates that even this doesn’t make the events prophesied unavoidable. I repeat, what happened was indeed predictable, but the idea that the Father sent his Son to be tortured and murdered is just wrong. God sent His Son so that we would know truth and be redeemed whatever it may take, and yes, even dying on the cross if that is what it took. But it is not about some kind of magical power derived from human sacrifice. That is just sick and it always has been.
Which of the three first? Reading Backwards. Easiest one.
Thank you much.
Not available in the library. No big surprise there. Libraries have become pretty worthless these days.
Same with the other two books. sigh…
Everything you wrote is this post is something that I have a strong conviction on. So please allow me to set the record straight, that I absolutely, positively believe (and live out as best I can) that Christianity is a lifestyle, which includes good deeds and works.
The word, “social” doesn’t scare me, but I concede that I didn’t know the term, “social gospel” has a distinct history. After reading some about it, I agree with a lot of what is was about, actually, and I can see how that may have turned you off to everything else that I wrote. What I don’t agree with, simply, is the idea that, “doing good” can replace being a faithful follower of Christ.
I do not believe, have never believed and honestly don’t know how you got from what I wrote that I believe in, “once saved always saved”. Authentic Christianity is a lifelong transformation.
Again, I don’t know where you got this from. I wrote clearly that we should help the poor and meet material needs as believers.
If this response sounds defensive, that’s because the Richard you’ve made me out to be is nothing like what I am, how I live and what I believe. I’m guessing your post is the result of a combination of my denying the existence of, “the social gospel” (which I admit I didn’t fully understand), and maybe an association of me with some that you’ve debated with that are more against it than I am. And along with that is the fact that I see a narrower version of the church than most here see, which may make me seem like some crotchety old legalist. But I can assure you that I believe that an authentic Christian is called to do good works.
I here and now repent of thinking of you as a “crotchety old legalist”. Thank you for setting the record straight - not just on that but on all the substance of the Christian life that you also fully accept. I probably should have known better from many things you’ve written before. I do tend to take a phrase or two and use it as a springboard to jump to quick conclusions. That’s an … ummmm … “gift” of mine!
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I signed up for updates from your website. It looks good.
This review is a bit confusing to me. It focuses on how the NT authors use the OT, but not on justifying the 2nd Temple unique way of interpreting OT, from what I can see. It’s more confirmatory that they identified Jesus as God.
“While I find much to agree with, I have some reservations. For example, Hays seems to read the Old Testament in such a way that Jesus is only present a) in retrospect and b) through a typological (or “figural” reading). That is to say, the Old Testament does not predict Jesus as much as it foreshadows Him. In Hays’ own words, “it would be a hermeneutical blunder to read the Law and the Prophets as deliberately predicting events in the life of Jesus” but that “it is both right and illuminating to read backwards and to discover in the Law and the Prophets an unexpected foreshadowing of the later story” (p94, emphasis in original). Such an attitude that rejects OT prediction seems at odds with Jesus’ accusation that His opponents should have known better (John 5:39) than to reject Him. I’m not sure how such statements make sense if Christ can only be found in the OT through a retrospective reading of texts about other characters and events in their original context. Hays also hints that this allows other interpretative perspectives to have validity. However, Jesus does not criticize His opponents for taking a “different view”, but accuses them of not reading the Scriptures at all!”
Good thoughts. I can’t find it on Audible, but I’ll try to read it more.
Also, it occurred to me–using OT prefigurations (not predictions in our use of the term, perhaps) doesn’t mean that the various NT authors weren’t right about what they reported and observed on. Rather, even the variation in their reports indicates that they were reliable about Christ, the people’s interaction with Him, and His resurrection. Using OT prefigurations is the appropriate way of talking from the Second Temple time.
I have made it pretty clear that I agree with this assessment. I don’t see how you can avoid it.
VERY interesting Randy. And thus I took closer look at John Chapter 5. What I found is that Jesus is very much more specific in verses 45 to 47.
45 Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; it is Moses who accuses you, on whom you set your hope. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
So the question is… where did Moses write of Jesus? Many attempts to answer this end in complete failure. The messiah is not something which Moses wrote about. Thus you are left with a feeling that they have simply distracted you from the principle question: WHERE DID MOSES WRITE OF JESUS? Talking about prophecies in Isaiah or Micah, even if there were such a thing, do not answer this question at all. But there are some who have attempted to actually answer this question.
The suggestions are as follows.
Genesis 3:15 the offspring of Eve which will crush the head of the serpent?
Deuteronomy 18:15 the prophet that God will raise up from among us?
My evaluation is that Genesis 3:15 is reasonable but Deuteronomy is not, for many prophets were raised up from among us since Moses and besides we cannot be comfortable with giving Jesus the role of just a prophet as the Muslims do. The only problem with Genesis 3:15 is whether this is really strong enough to support Jesus’ claim that Moses wrote of him and that not believing in Jesus means not believing what Moses wrote. It seems like a bit of a stretch, doesn’t it?
This is not the only time that claims by Jesus regarding scripture has left readers a bit confused. It is almost as if someone put these words in Jesus’ mouth and thus hoped that we would take His word for it rather than check whether the text backs Him up. Those with a firm conviction of faith are unlikely to accept such an explanation and might even wonder if we are reading the same text that Jesus had. It almost makes one sympathize with those who have come to the conclusion that we must sacrifice all rational integrity in order to accept Jesus as our savior.
There is, however, quite a different possibility. Jesus is God. And this is no Muslim answer but one that is wholly Christian. Moses certainly writes of God quite a bit. And what about Jesus? Does this sound like something He would do? Lead us into this kind of scriptural dead end that only has this sort of solution? Yes, I think so. I am reminded of the story told in John chapter 6, where he practically drove people away from Him with talk about eating His own flesh. Driving our practical material minds right into the ground seems to me to be exactly the sort of thing Jesus loved to do. Jesus’ words to His audience in John chapter 6 only allowed one way to keep both a belief in Jesus and our rational integrity, we have to accept the spiritual reality into our way of thinking. It requires us to step out of the material world with our minds to see that reality is quite a bit bigger than this.