Marcion and the first ecumenical councils


(Mitchell W McKain) #61

@Randy @Mervin_Bitikofer

I started watching part 2. But while I came to the conclusion from part 1 that the Bible was never the foundation of my faith, this part confronts me with the natural question which should follow: what is the foundation of my faith?

Is it the resurrection? No. I cannot say that it is. I can well understand that this may be the case for the early Christians. They saw the risen Christ. I can also well believe that their visible experience, that death was not the end, would trump the claims made by any atheists. But the disconnect I feel is when the speaker goes from this to say, therefore this should be the foundation of our faith also. I can see no logical reason why this should be so. It does not follow, that just because this was the motivation for the earliest Christians that it should be our motivation also. I doubt that this even possible. We did not see the risen Christ as they did. Seems to me that seeking after such a motivation can only lead us right back to the Bible as the foundation of our faith because that is our only vision of the risen Christ.

When I look inside myself for an answer to this question, the first thing that comes to mind is Paul’s struggle in Romans 7:15-25 and my own realization that I cannot live up to even my own standards of right and wrong. I strongly suspect that any line we draw between the two is something we have to keep moving in order to stay on one side. Sin is an experience of moral decay. But this is a motivation for understanding the problem and the need, and I think the question here is where do we find our hope.

The thought that immediately arises in my mind in response to this is Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” In other words, the foundation of our faith is hope itself. We insist on an answer to our need as we confront the problem of sin, because the alternative is unacceptable. This brings to mind God’s words in Genesis 4:7 to Cain, the point being that if really want the good then turning away from that desire is pointless and faith is the only answer. We keep trying because we believe in the good for its own sake, and measures of how we may be failing only have relevance in how they help us do better. And that brings my mind to Romans 10, where Paul says that faith doesn’t even ask the question. Ultimately, it is not about heaven or hell. Its not about success or failure. The only question of importance will always be what do we want? And if we want what is good then that is what we will seek – always.

Ah! But you may ask… why does that mean a Christian faith?

…well it doesn’t. This is just where I have taken it for my own subjective reasons, my own experience, my own thinking. For me, it has NEVER been about me having the answer that everyone else needs and should follow. I not only do I not think that way, but I see no justification for this in the Bible either. Instead what I see is that we will always be blind guides and only the living God has the answer people need. Why should the answer He has given me be the answer for everyone else, as if I could take His place now and be the savior of the world in His stead?


(Randy) #62

That is beautiful and reminds me of George Macdonald.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #63

These are good questions and thoughts. I suppose the critic would then ask you “…hope in what?” There does seem to be a contest we’ve all consented to participate in to identify or perhaps “drill down to” that bedrock or foundation that, by definition must be the accepted (or rejected!) brute fact on which all else is built. The bible does use words like “rock” or “foundation” when it refers to Christ, to God, even to the apostles (Ephesians 2:20 - in which Christ is the cornerstone). Nowhere does the Bible refer to itself (such as it was in their time) as being foundational. So I do like how Stanley put that to bed, even while he freely continues to use the Bible for his information.

I can’t remember what all he said in which part any more, but I do remember feeling better about what he was saying after having listened to the third part (can listen at 1.5 speed to keep things from dragging.) Have you tried his part 3 yet?

I’m not sure where you were going with this in terms of our sin, but it sounds similar to what I would suggest… that we are addicted to doctrinal certainty and will purport to build it up for ourselves whether God has truly granted it or not.

Romans 10 was a fruitful reference to mention. One of the passages there that caught my eye was this one starting at verse 14: But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they going to hear without someone to proclaim him?

A little later: …faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ (which is footnoted as being ‘of God’ by some ancient authorities).

So that seems to show a progression of “foundational precedence” which finds its way down to God or Christ. It doesn’t say specifically “the resurrection” there. But one could argue that the only reason to believe in Christ is because of the resurrection. That is put forward as the “proof of the pudding” in regard to Christ’s leading victory on our behalf.


(GJDS) #64

This is a quote from early Christians that may interest @mitchellmckain.

" Therefore, if what contains so much is not small, let a way be prepared in it for the Lord, a straight highway along which the Word and Wisdom of God may advance. Prepare a way for the Lord by living a good life and guard that way by good works. Let the Word of God move in you unhindered and give you a knowledge of his coming and of his mysteries. To him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen."


(Mitchell W McKain) #65

The hope we want is for a victory over sin. The hope is that the moral decay can be halted and that we are not doomed to ultimate defeat in our desire to do good. That is really the essence of my fear of hell and my hope for heaven which has nothing to do with torture and comfort. The hell I fear is not some fiery torture chamber – that only inspires in me both laughter and a greater determination to praise and worship God should I find myself there (I have that sort of obstinate contrary character). My nightmare is becoming that which I hate and despise. So all I hope for in heaven is the opportunity to fight against he evil and sin within me, no matter how long, difficult and painful that struggle may be.

And the rock and foundation in which I put my faith in is God, as revealed in the character and love of Christ – faith that God will provide a way to conquer if we keep our faith and desire for what is good.

Yes. My faith is not in the Bible, or doctrine, or church, or some event, but in the living God. I will seek my answers and make my choices with regards to what I believe, but I will not stake my salvation on such things.

What I said has nothing to do with doctrinal certainty but with a hatred for evil and the bad habits which drag us in that direction. I will grasp at anything, fighting with straw if I must because a surrender to evil is not acceptable. If I do that (surrender), then I am dead and what is left isn’t me anymore – by all means take it to the nearest incinerator.

Too often Xtians use the ending of Romans chapter 10 to erase the beginning.

5 Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on the law shall live by it. 6 But the righteousness based on faith says, Do not say in your heart, “Who will ascend into heaven?” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 or “Who will descend into the abyss?” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

They look at verses 8 through 17 and say “see it is all about believing the right things which the right people have told you, and so if and only if you believe those things then you will go to heaven and not to hell.” But this directly contradicts what has gone before. Faith doesn’t ask who goes to heaven and who goes to hell and once you think you have a way of deciding that, then it isn’t “righteousness based on faith” anymore but “righteousness based on the law” (i.e. legalism).

To be sure the beginning doesn’t erase the ending either. I will confess with my lips that God has raised Christ from the dead. I will listen to what God’s messengers have to say (with all my tools of discernment raised, of course) . Why? Because they represent God? Not a chance! It is because God can use them to do many things. So… I will call upon the name of the Lord. But where does my faith lie? In the fact that I have said these things? NEVER! Will my faith be in the preachers of good news? No. My faith will be in the living God, whom no man can replace, or own, or speak for.

Precedence? For what? Judging the quality of a person’s faith? I want nothing to do with that. I say let people find what faith they can wherever they can find it.

But I would not argue this at all. Opposition to evil is sufficient for faith. The the only proof I require is that of goodness which I see in what Christ has done. This is not to say that the resurrection is not central to Christianity. The belief that there is more than this world and our lives here is not the end is central to Christianity. That is what the resurrection tells us. My belief in that is indeed a big part of why I am a Christian. But if that belief were taken away from me somehow, my faith would remain. My faith does not depend on that.


#66

I already have grave reservations (to put it mildly) about this Andy Stanley guy, and I haven’t even finished listening to all his recordings.


(Randy) #67

That is what a forum is for…discussing! I respect and value your opinion, especially based on what I’ve seen you write. I’d be interested in what you think.


#68

Thanks. I’ll be back after I’ve finished listening.