Sunday, June 19, 2011

Grace Enough?

Grace by paynehollow
Grace, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.

I've a question specifically for more conservative/traditional types of Christians. Not really looking for debate, just a straightforward answer to what seems like to me a straightforward question:

We recently had a lengthy discussion with a fellow claiming to Christianity yet you said that grace was not enough for salvation.

His claim?

That one must be saved by grace AND by agreeing that gay marriage is wrong. One cannot believe that gay marriage is a good and holy thing and be saved by grace, he contends (and he is free to offer his own statement if he does not think I'm stating his position correctly).

His exact words were...

One cannot be saved by grace alone when one's beliefs so blatantly counter clearly revealed teachings on human sexual behavior

Since that is so far afield from basic orthodox Christianity, I was hoping to hear from other conservative types who'd agree with me that God's grace is sufficient.

EVEN IF you disagree with those who think gay marriage is good (or even if you disagree with those who'd say Christians can go to war or with those who'd say that God sometimes commands people to kill babies or whatever the topic might be), orthodox Christianity does not teach that we must be "right" or have perfect knowledge on all topics or even on some topics. We are not saved by our good understanding, but by God's grace, through faith in Jesus.

I was wondering if I could find any conservatives who'd affirm this basic Christian tenet. How 'bout it?

169 comments:

Bubba said...

"When Jesus told the rich young man that what he needed to do to be saved is to sell what he had, give his money to the poor and come follow him, I take that to mean that he wanted the rich young man to sell what he had, give it to the poor and come follow Jesus, for that is what the rich young man needed to do in order to be saved."

-- Dan Trabue, February, 2009, emphasis mine


"Do I believe we may need sometimes to sell all we have and follow Christ in order to be saved? Yes, I do!"

-- Dan Trabue, January, 2010, emphasis mine


I'd love to see the guy's comment in context, but I can say with certainty that one is not saved by grace AND a correct understanding of human sexuality.

But the Bible is quite clear that we are also not saved by works, and yet Dan has, on multiple occasions, seemingly asserted that very thing.

Dan has also been unable to say with any clarity whether even an explicit atheist qualifies as a Christian; he doesn't seem to be sure whether someone who denies God's very existence is not saved.

Here he writes, "We are not saved by our good understanding, but by God's grace, through faith in Jesus."

But how can an atheist have faith in Jesus? Consider someone who denies not only the Incarnation (denying God altogether, he could not believe that Jesus is God) but also the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth. Could he have saving faith in a man whose very existence he denies? If not, can Dan clearly affirm that the man isn't saved?


Perhaps Dan Trabue should be more clear about his own beliefs regarding salvation before he invites others to join him in condemning the misunderstandings of others.

truthinreligionandpolitics.com said...

The person was likely thinking of Romans 1:32

"and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them."

Homosexual sexual relationships are universally condemned as sin everywhere the Bible addresses the issue. When a liberal christian either dismisses what the Bible has to say on the matter, or twists what the Bible actually says on the matter, etc. that is essentially harboring, endorsing, or justifying sin. Christians as a follower of Christ would not openly endorse and embrace sin. When someone who claims to be a Christian does so, it gives reason to doubt the saving faith of the professing Christian.

Would you ask the same question, "is grace enough..." if we were talking about murder or adultery instead of homosexuality? Could one be saved by grace and endorse murder and adultery?

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba, in context, I was merely affirming the bible's teachings. So, since the Bible has Jesus saying someone needed to sell their stuff in order to be saved, I was affirming that teaching - it's true IN A SENSE. I was also affirming that we are saved BY GRACE ALONE. Thanks for providing the link so that anyone can see what I was saying, in context.

We ARE being saved - in a sense - by denying ourselves and taking up our cross and following Jesus. We ARE being saved by forsaking all and following Jesus. BUT ULTIMATELY, I'm saying we are saved by grace alone through faith in Jesus, alone.

The commentary was in my Irony post last month.

I'm glad that you and I agree that we are not saved by works. I'm glad that we agree that we are saved by grace alone and NOT through grace AND a "correct" understanding of sexuality.

Thanks for your vote for orthodoxy.

Dan Trabue said...

John, I'm not sure of your answer: Do you think we are saved by grace alone through faith in Jesus alone, or do you think we also must be opposed to gay marriage?

Dan Trabue said...

John...

Christians as a follower of Christ would not openly endorse and embrace sin.

And just to clarify, I'm NOT (am not, in no way at all, not in the least, NOT NOT NOT) endorsing or embracing sin. I disagree with your hunches about the roughly five places in the Bible that condemn SOME FORM of homosexuality, that these condemn ALL forms of homosexuality. I think loving, respectful, graceful, supportive committed adult relationships are a good and blessed thing, NOT that such behavior is sinful.

But my question is not for the purpose of rehashing some of what we've already discussed. I'm wondering do you think Grace is sufficient for salvation or if you think we are saved by grace AND by an opposition to gay marriage?

Dan Trabue said...

John...

Would you ask the same question, "is grace enough..." if we were talking about murder or adultery instead of homosexuality?

Yes. IF someone believes, for instance, that God might sometimes command people to kill babies (because you find some instances of it in the Bible) AND you were saved by grace, I would REALLY question your comprehension ability, but I would not question your salvation, because you can be QUITE wrong and believe some weird crap, but your salvation is not effected by your comprehension level but by God's grace.

This is the orthodox understanding of Christianity. I'm asking if you think grace is sufficient for salvation or would you add "a correct understanding of..." any behavior is necessary?

Thanks for any thoughts you might have about that question.

Marty said...

Dang, Bubba must be cataloguing Dan's comments to be able to pull one from 2009 and even 2010. Good golly...how freakin' weird is that?

Marshall Art said...

It's not "freakin' weird", Marty, unless you wish to continue finding ways to demonize those with whom you disagree. Bubba remembers enough to be able to Google according to key words, and he finds the blog posts that provides the evidence he seeks. That's about as weird as Michael Jordan doing things in basketball others only wish they can do. You're acting like some geeky little school girl who goes with the crowd.

Marshall Art said...

John's certainly got one aspect of my sentiment down pat. But though Dan quotes my words, he leaves out the context and the more important question that remains unanswered. One variation of the question goes like this:

"How far astray from the teachings of Scripture can one be without worshiping a false god?"

Is corrupting one verse enough, or does one need to corrupt more than that?

I also make a distinction between honestly misunderstanding and willfully ignoring an incredibly clear and specific commandment. The former is not at issue.

Furthermore, I maintain that works and faith are linked, as James indicates when he says that faith without works is dead. Works cannot simply be dropping coins in the hand of a beggar, but how we live our faith by adherence to Scripture's teachings about what is or isn't sinful.

We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus. The question then is, Jesus of the Bible, or Jesus the landscaper? If it is the former, one must assume that what one believes about Him must match what Scripture reveals about Him, including His devotion to the Law and how it is meant to guide our behavior. At some point, one no longer is talking about Jesus Christ, but about someone with a superficial resemblance to Him. I don't think Satan needs us to be totally opposed to God, but only opposed enough.

By the way, there are over 250 comments that move through tangents to get to the topic here, but it took place on the post entitled, "Irony", which has just been moved off the first page with the posting of this thread.

Marty said...

Marshall: "Bubba remembers enough to be able to Google according to key words, and he finds the blog posts that provides the evidence he seeks."

It's more like.."Prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour"..if you ask me.

It's not only weird, it's creepy.

Craig said...

It seems as though the point of the comment in question is this. If you are saved by faith, then you will not affirm things that are sinful. (Before you start, I know that you don't believe that homosexuality is sinful. But when assessing context the intent of the writer should be more important than the readers misinterpretation.) This position seems reasonable to me as well. Not "faith plus belief" but "salvation by faith leads to certain beliefs"

As noted, there are some unanswered questions from similar threads in the past.

I'll throw this out.

If someone who made the following statements claimed to be a christian, would you believe them.

"I believe...

2. in higher criticism of the Bible. The Bible like all other books are human products (what else could they be?) and should be read as such as opposed to special revelation from a divine being.
3. that all religion is a human construct. Its primary purpose has been and should be an attempt to find and evoke meaning amidst life's contingencies as opposed to speculation regarding supernaturalism.
4. that "God" functions as a symbol. The concept of "God" is a product of myth-making and "God" is no longer credible as a personal, supernatural being. For me, "God" functions as a shorthand for the Universe and sometimes for qualities and aspirations I wish to pursue or to emulate.
5. that human consciousness is the result of natural selection. Human beings do not have immortal souls nor will consciousness survive death. Thus there is no afterlife. There is no heaven, no hell, and no need for salvation from one realm to another.
6. that there is no "end" in human time. Earth is four billion years old. Earth was here long before human beings. Earth will spin on its axis and revolve around the sun long, long after the last human being has breathed her last. We will have to find meaning and our "eschaton" in this life.
7. that Jesus may have been historical but most of the stories about him in the Bible and elsewhere are legends. But he's cool. He serves as a human ideal and a focal point for devotion (like an ishta deva)."

This is exactly the kind of thing Marshall is talking about. Not that you must believe certain things to be saved, but there are certain things that someone who is saved would not believe.

Craig said...

"No deity exists. Not Jesus Christ, not Yahweh, not Baal, not Marduk, not Allah, not Zeus, not the Flying Spaghetti Monster, not the Wizard of Oz. None of them exist. All figments of imagination. They are fun. But none are worth the spiritual violence they cause."

Christian or not?

Dan Trabue said...

Perhaps I was not clear: I'm not especially looking for tangents on the question. I am just looking for fairly straightforward answers to a fairly straightforward question:

Is grace alone sufficient for salvation OR must one be saved by grace AND believing that gay marriage is wrong?

Craig, John, anyone else: Do you have an answer to THAT question? Once you answer that question, we might get into conversations about the ramifications of your answer/my answer, but right now, I'm just wanting an answer to the question asked.

It appears Bubba, Marty and I (and orthodoxy) agree. Marshall appears to disagree. Others?

Marty said...

Craig: "there are certain things that someone who is saved would not believe"

Like gay marriage? I wasn't aware that was a "belief".

Marshall Art said...

Marty,

YOU'RE creepy. No "prowling" is in play by someone who wishes to support what he is going say by providing the context in which his point relies. Indeed, especially at THIS blog, where absolute word-for-word quotes are required by some.

As to "gay" marriage, the belief is that God would bless such a thing. Don't be such a Parklife.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

It's not a straightforward question. It's a loaded one. You are using this "grace alone" bit to leave room for acceptance of any interpretation of God's Will as legitimate.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall and Marty (and anyone else): If you want to talk about the people commenting here, email them please.

I'm interested in hearing the answer to the question asked.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall, it's a reasonable question.

Do you think, as orthodox Christianity insists, that grace alone by faith in Jesus alone is sufficient for salvation?

Or, do you think one must be saved by grace AND a correct understanding on gay marriage?

You've given your answer, do you wish to change it?

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Oy. Christians have held contrary views on all sorts of contingent matters through the centuries - slavery and freedom; women's basic humanity or their Scripturally-demanded subservience (including not giving them anaesthesia during childbirth because of the Biblical injunction that women are to give birth in pain as punishment for sin); monarchy and republican forms of government; capitalism, mercantilism, or socialism. The list could take up pages, and the upshot is simple enough - reasonable people can disagree on matters not related to the central tenets of the faith - salvation by grace through faith, the sufficiency of Christ's death and resurrection as expiation for human sin, the revelation of the Triune God in and through the incarnation through the Holy Spirit - and disagree, sometimes heatedly, on matters that do not touch on these central tenets.

Is Art correct? Is opposition to gay marriage necessary for salvation? No. On the other hand, since he sees it as a sinful act, supporting it while claiming the name of Christ may well be a sign that one does not yet understand the full implications of the Christian faith. As such, it may well be a bad fruit, as it were, of an incomplete, or even nonexistent faith. In his eyes.

Me, I don't worry about the ultimate relevance of non-ultimate matters. Disagreements about the faith have existed since Peter and Paul yelled at one another about the mission to the Gentiles. In a century, or half a millennium, it will be some other controversy that will create the kinds of arguments we read about here.

God doesn't have a litmus test. to paraphrase an old joke, it's grace all the way down.

Dan Trabue said...

Dr Charles Stanley says grace alone.

The Mormons tell us grace alone PLUS good works is what saves us.

Grace alone through faith alone has long been the standard in Orthodox Christianity. I'm asking if you agree with that orthodox standard OR if you would add "Must hold an anti-gay marriage position" to the standard?

Alan said...

" reasonable people can disagree on matters not related to the central tenets of the faith - salvation by grace through faith, the sufficiency of Christ's death and resurrection as expiation for human sin, the revelation of the Triune God in and through the incarnation through the Holy Spirit"

Indeed.

If someone has a problem with paedobaptism, that's a disagreement, not a heresy. I disagree with the Baptists on the matter, but I don't think they're heretics. On the other hand, if someone thinks one must agree with paedobaptism in order to be saved, that's a heresy.

I find it remarkable that people want to argue about unimportant issues as barriers to salvation when they themselves have clearly strayed from the central tenets of the Christian faith.

(BTW, Dan, it's amusing that you're asking "conservatives" about this. I hope some respond. Haven't seen any so far. Perhaps you meant "fundamentalists" instead of conservatives?)

Dan Trabue said...

Alan, I was asking the question specifically to more conservative Christian folk - whether they consider themselves fundamentalists or not.

Now, it may well be that this is part of the dividing line between conservative Christians (who might tend to agree that yes, Grace is sufficient) and more fundamentalist types (who may say No, you must also hold the right position on gay marriage) - I don't know. I was just curious who would fall where on the question.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

It's a loaded one. You are using this "grace alone" bit to leave room for acceptance of any interpretation of God's Will as legitimate.

Marshall, in the example of the "loaded" or leading question you offered in the previous post ("Have you quit hitting your wife"), it's easy enough to point out WHY it's a leading question: There is a presumption built into the question - that being, "You've been hitting your wife."

It's a leading question, yes, but it's easy enough to answer, by saying, "That's a leading question, suggesting I've been hitting my wife. I have never hit my wife."

Easy to point out why it's a leading question. Easy to answer.

If you have something serious to say to point out why it's a leading question, go ahead. From where I sit, it's a reasonable question: DO you think Grace is sufficient or do you think grace PLUS agreeing that gay marriage is wrong required?

Where is it leading? Where is it "loaded?"

John Barron said...

I understand you clearly, Dan. You want to hear that technically one could affirm homosexual sexual relationships and still be saved. You also know this is rhetorically dishonest.

You have a notorious habit of trying to break down an issue to severly bare essentials so that you can force someone to affirm your position.

For example when we discuss samesex marriage you try to steer me to affirm that love is a good thing. I find your method of discussing things very distasteful. And when ever I call you on your intellectual dishonesty you call me a liar and that I need to repent of my assessment of you.

Frankly, from the way I see you justify your positions, it makes me wince to know you likely are in a position to teach people. Sickeningly reprehensible.

Marty said...

Sorry Dan.

Dan Trabue said...

No problem, Marty. Just trying to stick to the topic.

John, I'm trying to stick to the topic so I'd ask that we forego the ad hom attacks because it is off topic and whatever YOU MIGHT THINK my motives are for asking the question (and you're mistaken) are besides the point.

The question is: Do you think that we are saved by grace alone or do you think we are saved by grace AND by thinking gay marriage is wrong?

You appear to be affirming that we are saved by grace alone, which is the correct orthodox Christian answer, but if you could clarify, I'd appreciate it.

Yes, "technically" (ie, actually) we are saved by grace alone. We can agree if that's what you're saying.

Alan said...

"Sickeningly reprehensible."

This is the sort of out-of-proportion response that makes people think fundies are all loons.

Some guy, somewhere (that none of you knows), asks a question, and we get folks like that guy going all soap-opera melodrama.

Could you people try to find a little perspective, please? Your drama queen personae aren't actually funny, your hyperbole isn't amusing, and your overblown rhetoric is just ridiculous.

Dan writes, "Alan, I was asking the question specifically to more conservative Christian folk "

Conservative is not part of the spectrum, slightly less wacky than fundamentalist, Dan.

Fundamentalists are heretics. Conservatives are simply orthodox. They have nothing in common and are, in fact, opposites. Conservatives cannot be fundamentalists.

What you have commenting here are fundamentalists, not conservatives.

Fundamentalism is easy to identify: There's a list of propositions. If you believe in everything on their particular list, then you're saved. If you don't (or if you believe in a different list) then you're damned. There's nothing "conservative" about that theology.

There is nothing at all rhetorically dishonest about your question, nor is it leading. It is a simple question with a simple answer.

That they don't like their own answers and that they blame you for that isn't a problem with the question you're asking.

Marshall Art said...

Orthodoxy is in the eye of the beholder. I doubt that Fred Phelps regards himself outside of orthodoxy. So claims that I am outside of it and you aren't is no more than the very thing that Alan finds disturbing about fundies.

Fundies and conservative Christians have very much in common and I fail to see what differentiates one from the other. What you folks rage on about regarding fundies is in reality being pissed off that they won't bend to your ideas about "orthodoxy", which allows for the bastardization of Scripture that you find troublesome. In that regard, one could label many people "fundamentalist" regardless of what denomination each is a member. Fundies regard themselves as keepers of orthodoxy just as you guys do. The difference is that, from my understanding of those so labeled, they are far closer to the truth than anyone who would claim there is some mysterious Scriptural support for "gay" marriage that "fundies" can't see.

Marshall Art said...

John Barron's comments are exactly on the mark regarding the question Dan puts forth. That "leading question" might not be technically accurate, it is difficult to answer without shoring up Dan's purpose. John articulates my problem with the question better than I did as his assessment is perfectly accurate.

The problem with the question is that it begins with an incomplete premise. This is the type of ploy Dan often uses and of which John find offensive (as do I and many others). "Saved by grace alone" is not the whole story and this is affirmed in the quotes one finds in the Charles Stanley link Dan offered (I am familiar with Stanley as his sermons are a regular daily feature on a solidly Christian radio station in my area--though I am currently unable to listen to them---I did not check out the other links as yet). We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. And how do we express this faith? By our works.

"For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10

What we do, how we act, what we believe should be a reflection of our faith or our faith is total BS. A "perfect" reflection? No one has ever insisted on perfection from my side of the issues. A "perfect" understanding of absolutely everything? The same lame ploy in a different dress.

Alan and Geoffrey try to support the deceit with their talk about baptismal differences and capitalism, as if these are so plainly laid out as homosexual behavior. There is no way one can be "mistaken" on the issue if one can read. Pretending it refers to something the text itself never mentions, and then trying to claim that prayerful meditation led to that heinous result is absolute dishonesty. There must be something in the text itself to play that game.

So my position isn't about being "wrong" or "mistaken" so much as willful distortion, which the pro-homosexual position plainly is.

And still, if I wanted to be extremely and stupidly gracious enough to concede that you might be so stupid as to believe what you say you believe about the subject, the question of how far one can stray from "actual" Biblical teaching without worshiping a false god still stands, and it stands unanswered. Nay, ignored in cowardice.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Art: "Orthodoxy is in the eye of the beholder." Well, Martin Luther in 1519 or thereafter might agree with you. By and large, though, even the violent disagreements between, say Calvinists and Anabaptists and Unitarians are seen now more as matters of differences of emphasis rather than clear heresy.

Orthodoxy is most definitely NOT in the eye of the beholder. Orthodoxy - literally, "right words" - is, and has been since the first creedal statement recorded in the Bible ("Jesus is Lord") simple, clear and a knife-edge cutting the fat from the lean. For all there are serious differences between Catholics, Orthodox, Coptic/Syriac, Evangelical (Lutheran), Reformed, Anglican, and all the rest, the core of what is orthodox Christian confession is simple - Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth and became fully human, died on a cross, and was raised from the dead. This little statement contains, quite literally, everything - all the huge multi-volumes - ever written about the Christian faith.

That's it.

That's all.

You want to think same-sex marriage is bad? OK. You want to think it is sinful? Go for it. You want to insist that the phrase "same-sex marriage is bad" is necessary for salvation?

As soon as you find some place, any place - in the Bible, in the history of Christian thought and practice - as a source for this, let me know. Not Romans. Not Leviticus. They don't mention "marriage", but refer to pagan Temple Prostitution.

Why take this beautiful, powerful, impossible story of a God creating black holes and sperm whales and insects that shoot a burning chemical and Gwyneth Paltrow, yet caring enough to take all that power, all that Divinity, and give it up so that all creation might live? Why take this story and muck it up with stuff like this? It isn't there in the original. Adding this doesn't make the story better, or worse.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Unless I get a response with real substance, I think I've said all I care to say on this topic.

In short: Who cares? God doesn't.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

That "leading question" might not be technically accurate, it is difficult to answer without shoring up Dan's purpose.

How?

What does "my purpose" (and, as always, my purpose when I ask a question is to get a clear answer - naught else) matter in the least to the answer to this question??

Marty said...

Geoffrey: "Why take this beautiful, powerful, impossible story of a God creating black holes and sperm whales and insects that shoot a burning chemical and Gwyneth Paltrow, yet caring enough to take all that power, all that Divinity, and give it up so that all creation might live? Why take this story and muck it up with stuff like this?"

These are extremely humble words that speak from the heart of one who has truly experienced the wonder of God's Grace and the Sacrifice that was given for all.

When we dare to question another's salvation and treat one another with such disdain, I believe that grieves God more than any wrong we could possibly do or believe.

Thanks Geoffrey for reminding me of that.

Craig said...

Dan,

The answer to your question on a very simplistic basic level is yes. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone, in Christ alone. Having said that, I am aware that this is a tactic you have used before and my agreement with your statement is limited until I see where you intend to go with this.

I don't believe Marshall was saying otherwise. If you look at the totality of Marshall's posts and comments rather than one out of context phrase, I think you would see this.


I'd still be interested in your responses to the quotes I posted. Would you believe that the person quoted is a Christian?

Craig said...

GKS,

"Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth and became fully human, died on a cross, and was raised from the dead."

Well said.

Would it be safe to assume that someone who claims to be a Christian but can't unambiguously affirm your comment has difficulty understanding what it means to be a Christian?

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Craig - I have difficulty unambiguously affirming my own comment! Why? Because I am a sinner, before, during and after any affirmation I make about the saving power of God incarnate in Jesus Christ. I want to believe that, live that, and know that each and every moment of each and every day I fail - utterly, completely. God's grace isn't a magic potion that makes some evil "sin" disappear. God's grace is the living, breathing reality without which I could not even finish typing this sentence. It upholds every second I live, every moment I exist.

To answer your question honestly, Craig is to return to the story - Jesus is the Son of God, come to earth, died on a cross and was raised from the dead. That's it. That's all.

Alan said...

"Orthodoxy is in the eye of the beholder."

No, it really isn't at all. Not at all.

"I fail to see what differentiates one from the other."

Conservatives, as I mean it here, are Christians that seek to adhere to orthodox tradition. For example, they believe that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone. Real, live, old-fashioned, 5 point Calvinists (like myself, fer example) are conservatives. Dyed-in-the-wool Wesleyans with their quadrilaterals talking about prevenient grace are conservatives.

Fundamentalists are not orthodox, nor are they seeking to adhere to tradition. First of all, Christian fundamentalism as it is currently practiced in the US less than 100 years old. Second of all, they believe something outside of orthodox Christianity, which is that one must subscribe to the 5 fundamentals (only 5! Not 6! And they must be the same 5!) to be saved. There's a list. Believe the list and you're saved. Don't believe the list and you're damned. And, oh, by the way, it is up to *you* to save yourself.

What saves you? God? Nope. The list and your faith.

This is a HUGE difference from, for example, conservative Calvinists like myself who would claim that your faith is, itself, a gift of God's grace, and not something you do yourself.

You think you are saved because you, all alone, without help, choose to believe in Jesus Christ? That's fine. But that isn't orthodox.

So no, Marshall, fundamentalists aren't conservatives. They're just the opposite. They've made up something new. Conservatives "conserve" tradition.

"Alan and Geoffrey try to support the deceit with their talk about baptismal differences and capitalism, as if these are so plainly laid out as homosexual behavior."

You just have to love how MA dismisses differences in baptism -- one of only two sacraments in Protestant Christianity -- as unimportant, a minor trifle, compared to teh dirty gays. Heh. Even funnier considering he writes that on a Baptist's blog. Ask the Baptists if they think differences in baptism are just some minor little trifle.

Seriously, MA, Do you know *anything* at all about Christianity?

Are you kidding me with this?

Alan said...

Geoffrey,

Just FYI, Craig has got his knickers in a twist about a PCUSA minister, John Shuck, (shuckandjive.com) who is the favorite boogie-man of PCUSA fundamentalists like Craig.

Because if they can paint all "liberals" as being exactly the same as John Shuck, then we're all heretics ready for the fire.

It isn't actually even about Shuck's beliefs (most of which I'd disagree with), it is just about using Shuck as a litmus test to determine who is in and who is out, the favorite game of the fundies.

Gotta protect their god at all times, you know!

Alan said...

oops, sorry, that's shuckandjive.org

And the posts that have folks like Craig all up in arms are on the front page, "What Presbyterians Believe" part one and two.

Bubba said...

Dan:

It appears that you have to select "Post a Comment" to see the end of that discussion, but thanks for the context. In context, Marshall's quote doesn't seem remotely as problematic as you present it here, and I'm not sure your summary is entirely accurate.

For one thing, Marshall extended his position to other beliefs, including Fred Phelps' heretical position that God hates homosexuals, writing, "I can only fear he worships a god of his own making."

He also explicitly EXCLUDED those who were misled by others to believe God blesses "gay marriage."

Marshall wrote, "Those who may have been led astray by beliefs of yours imparted to them, for example, may indeed believe in the Real God, but until they study on their own may believe as you do on this and other areas that are rank frauds rather than real teachings. They are saved by grace. Those who corrupt Scripture are not." [emphasis mine]

You summarize, "One cannot believe that gay marriage is a good and holy thing and be saved by grace, he contends."

No, he doesn't, at least not as a blanket statement. Yours doesn't seem to be an entirely fair and accurate summary of his position.

Bubba said...

Dan, you write, in response to my comment, "since the Bible has Jesus saying someone needed to sell their stuff in order to be saved, I was affirming that teaching - it's true IN A SENSE."

Since you've had a habit of downgrading the authority of certain passages of Scripture as fable or revenge fantasies or proof of bigotry -- and since you have even argued that Christ's choosing of the Twelve was "a nod" to the surrounding culture's sexism -- I'm not sure why it matters that the Bible records this particular statement.

Nevertheless, I think you really misunderstand the encounter with the rich young ruler.

I've discussed this before but you seem to miss three salient points found in all three synoptic accounts:

1) Christ asserted that no one is good but God.

2) After the man left, His followers concluded that no one could be saved.

3) Christ then taught that what is impossible for man is possible for God.

Jesus DID NOT teach that a person "needed to sell their stuff in order to be saved." Instead, He highlighted the impossibility of earning salvation through good works.


But let's roll with what you wrote.

"We ARE being saved - in a sense - by denying ourselves and taking up our cross and following Jesus. We ARE being saved by forsaking all and following Jesus. BUT ULTIMATELY, I'm saying we are saved by grace alone through faith in Jesus, alone."

I really, REALLY cannot parse this sentence.

If we are saved "by grace alone through faith in Jesus, alone," in what POSSIBLE sense are we saved by our actions -- "by denying ourselves and taking up our cross and following Jesus"?

Whatever sense that's true, it could also be the case that our being saved by "following Jesus" includes our submission to His teachings regarding human sexuality -- such as the teaching that God made us male and female so that a man (male) would become one flesh with his wife (female).


Here you write, "Since [Marshall's statement] is so far afield from basic orthodox Christianity, I was hoping to hear from other conservative types who'd agree with me that God's grace is sufficient."

But YOUR OWN statements are also far from orthodoxy, that we're saved by our works, by our following Jesus, denying ourselves, forsaking everything, taking up our cross, etc., etc.

You don't think that's a rejection of salvation by grace through faith apart from our works: you seem to believe that the statements are compatible, if one takes one of the two as true only "in a sense."

I don't know why you didn't give Marshall the benefit of the doubt and ask whether his position is true "in a sense."

Bubba said...

Dan, this talk about being saved "in a sense" by our obedience to Jesus reminds me of our conversation over whether we're saved by Christ's death.

Last year, you wrote:

"I believe we are saved by grace AND because of that grace, Jesus died for us. In THAT sense, one might say that our salvation is caused by Jesus' death (as it is a representation of God's grace)."

My reply is still that this is as misleading as saying that we're saved by baptism, "in the sense" that baptism is a representation of our faith -- as if someone stated the following:

"I believe we are saved by faith AND because of that faith, we profess our commitment through baptism. In THAT sense, one might say that our salvation is caused by baptism (as it is a representation of our faith)."

The only "sense" you seem to believe that we're saved by Christ's death is that we're NOT saved by His death AT ALL -- that we're saved only by God's grace and that Christ's death is only an effect and representation of God's grace.

I can hardly think of a way to express that position that is less clear. If one denies the causal link between Christ's death and our salvation, he should just say so; he shouldn't say that he affirms the link "in a sense" that is impenetrable because it is wholly countrary to the plain meaning of words.


I wonder, though, if you're taking the same approach to the claim that we're saved by obeying Jesus.

If you are, then I'd probably agree with your position but AGAIN state that there's hardly a more confusing way for you to present that position.

Faith alone saves, but saving faith is never alone: that appears to be the cumulative conclusion of Paul and James, but we should never muddy the waters by saying that any of faith's companions -- good works, the fruit of the Spirit, a better understanding of God -- have a role in salvation itself.

Given the time and opportunity, saving faith will produce good works: a person who has saving faith in Christ WILL follow Him and submit to His teachings.

But if ONLY faith saves, then that act of following has nothing to do with our being saved in ANY sense: it's the consequence of our salvation, not its cause or even one of its causes.


One consequence of saving faith is one's following Jesus, but surely another consequence is an increasing knowledge of what He taught and a more faithful submission to it.

If a person teaches something that really cannot be reconciled to what Jesus taught -- or to the Scripture that He affirmed to the smallest penstroke -- and that deviation cannot be plausibly attributed to a sincere error, then that false teaching can be seen as evidence that the man doesn't have saving faith.

It's not that a person must necessarily renounce every false teaching before he can respond to God with saving faith -- though, surely, the denial of God's existence or Christ's historicity DOES preclude saving faith in Christ as God's Son -- it's that a commitment to a false teaching can be seen as evidence against saving faith, especially as that commitment seems increasingly like willful disobedience.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

British Bishop Thomas Cranmer is famous for two things. After the English Reformation, he wrote the first Book of Common Prayer, including a whole new set of liturgies. Later, during the reign of Henry VIII Roman Catholic daughter, Queen Mary, he was burned at the stake in Oxford - the spot is a tourist attraction.

Had he denied the efficacy of God's saving grace in Christ through faith by way of the Holy Spirit? Had he denied the existence of God, or the historicity of Christ? Had he endorsed same-sex marriage?

His crime was simple - he threatened the power of the Roman Church over the lives of British subjects. He was no more a heretic than Jan Hus, John Wyclife, Martin Luther, Huldrich Zwingli, or any other name one can dredge up. He was, rather, that most dangerous of persons - a thorn in the side of power.

As someone who has no interest in power, and believes that the revelation of God in Christ includes the renunciation of assumed power for the revelation of real power and authority, I mention this little historical anecdote for one simple reason - the case of gay marriage is no different than the matter at the time of the Reformation. It is about who decides who is in, and who is out. That decision, for me at any rate, was made by God in Christ on that hill outside the gates of Jerusalem, and later in an empty tomb. You want to play your little logic games, define what is and is not an unpardonable sin, a capital offense against God?

Go for it. It means nothing to me. Either we get serious about being the Church, or we diddle around with frivolous stuff, dragging the name of Christ through the muck and mire of our own sin, making of it a laughing stock, a source of entertainment and derision. While this, too, has little bearing on God's saving power in Christ, it does mean we are wasting time and energy bickering over trivia while a hurting world needs our hands and hearts. God is calling us to be the Church, not be a club with rules for exclusive membership.

Craig said...

Dan,

As I have no knickers in a twist, my question still stands. Would you identify someone who makes the statements as Christian. It's a fairly simple request, and I think it makes the point that it is possible to claim Christianity yet profess something else. I would hope for your opinion untainted by any others. No broad brush, no ulterior motives, just as simple question.

Dan Trabue said...

I'm on vacation this week and have limited access to the internets. I've asked a specific question for folk to answer and I don't really have time right now to deal with additional sidetrack questions very much.

It sounds like our more conservative (fundamentalist?) friends are begrudgingly (why begrudgingly, I don't know) agreeing that YES, we ARE saved by grace alone, not grace AND agreeing that gay marriage is wrong. That's good. I'm glad that we can agree on that, if we do.

While some here have suggested that finding our common ground/places where we agree is some trick, but in truth, I seek to find common ground because it helps clarify where we stand. Are we a Christian and a pagan having a disagreement over some issue or are we two Christians who have a disagreement over a non-Christian essential question? This falls clearly into the latter category, much as some try to twist it into something else.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Ah, Craig. Giordano Bruno faced people like you. So did Thomas Muntzer. Both of them ended up char-broiled. Not because they denied the efficacy of Christ's sacrifice. Rather, because, in Bruno's case, he endorsed the plurality of worlds (which St. Thomas among others felt was no big deal), and Muntzer believed that being a Christian meant actively pursuing justice against known exploiters of the people.

Were Bruno and Muntzer right or wrong? People can differ. What they were charged with, however, was the kind of thing being tossed around - saying things and supporting things that indicate that all these other things - heresy, blasphemy - are present. Any time anyone says, "If you are a Christian, you must believe/say a, b, etc." we are outside the realm of belief and in to the realm of power.

Yours is a prosecutors question, Craig. Since i refuse to conceded the legitimacy of the premises behind it, I find it nonsensical. Christians have killed one another, burned thousands, tortured more thousands, over matters that, today, we consider differences easy to live with (Alan's mention of paedobaptism is a great one).

Since I have a high doctrine of God, God's power, and God's grace, I find human wrangling over irrelevancies to be more amusing than anything. Others differ even on this point. And that's OK. Do you see a pattern here? Different people have different beliefs on matters of little to no consequence to the central matter of the Christian faith - summed up in the original creedal statement, "Jesus is Lord" - and over two thousand years we have learned the hard way to live with these differences. We have even learned to live with those who shout from the rooftops, "There is no God," forgetting what the Psalmist says of such folks.

Rather than play games like this, why not ask questions about the folks in Joplin, MO whose entire town has been leveled. Why not discuss ways all of us together can pitch in to help them, or the folks in Alabama ravaged by tornadoes, or children dying of preventable diseases in Africa, or people still trying to rebuild from an earthquake in Haiti, or Chile, or Japan.

Alan said...

Craig,

Though Calvin was a great theologian, we don't have to follow his example in burning people at the stake. He's just a man; not your pope.

Just FYI.

Craig said...

GKS,

I ask questions to gain information. No more no less. If one claims to be X yet denies the disctictives of X it raises questions. I have no standing to burn anyone at the stake, nor desire to do so. If someone claims to be X should we not look at their words and deeds to see if what they say and do lines up with what they claim? So feel free to deny the legitimacy of my question, it's OK, it wasn't directed at you.

As far as "playing games like this" and actually helping folks in need lets consider a few things.

After I write this response I'm off to work constructing low income housing. In my spare time I volunteer with special needs kids. While I know folks who live in the Joplin area and I have great sympathy for them, As for tornado victims I'll concentrate my efforts on those who you choose to ignore. The folks right here in town who were also hit by a tornado. All the while preparing to head to Haiti next Feb to continue working with some amazing eye docs who are quite literally bringing sight to the blind. Now that the opportunity is opening up a bit more, I'll probably be putting a team together to do work on building in P a P sometime in the next year or so. So, if you'd like to discuss how you can help with any of that I'd absolutely love to have you jump in with any of this.

Playing games like this indeed. I am quite able to spend a few minutes attempting to engage with Dan in this forum, while also engaging the world at large. I know it messes with your preconceptions of "fundies", but maybe jumping to conclusions is not the best tactic in a conversation where you know very little about the folks your are talking to.


Dan,

I'm not sure that my answer to you was grudging. I have answered this question before and so didn't feel like I needed to answer it again.

Do you consider salvation to be an event or a process?

Enjoy your vacation, I'll look forward to more when you return.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Craig, I'm very happy you are off performing some act of noblesse oblige for the great unwashed.

Otherwise, the first paragraph of your response is meaningless to me. What makes a Christian distinctive from a non-Christian?

According to the Bible, it is simple - loving God and loving neighbor.

Anything else - anything - is meaningless.

Alan said...

"but maybe jumping to conclusions is not the best tactic in a conversation where you know very little about the folks your are talking to."

That gets the award for most ironic comment of the day.

Maybe the week.

Bravo.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

Do you consider salvation to be an event or a process?

My problem, Craig, is that I asked a pretty specific question and there's all these side trails people are trying to chase down. How is this question related to the post?

But, to answer this (and touch on at least some other questions), yes. I think yes, salvation is an event and yes, salvation is a process.

We ARE SAVED by God's grace, alone. Period. End of conversation. It isn't our smarts or our ability to get every topic right that saves us, it's God's grace alone.

AND, we are BEING SAVED by God's grace, by walking down the road Jesus walked and following the teachings Jesus taught.

The rich man WOULD have been in the process of being saved IF he had given up his riches. I AM in the process of being saved - still by God's grace - in following in the steps of Jesus.

I think both/and. You?

Dan Trabue said...

Or, as Bubba asked...

in what POSSIBLE sense are we saved by our actions

In the sense that there is a real liberation in accepting the grace of letting go of our stuff.

Yes, the person who accepts Jesus' salvation through grace IS saved, but if he's holding on to his stuff out of fear or greed, or holding on to the notion of security through weaponry and violence or holding on to freedom to be as licentious as he wants, he is missing out on a great deal of salvation in the here and now.

In THAT sense, we are being saved here and now by walking in Jesus' gracious steps in ever-increasing measure.

Do you disagree that there's a huge measure of freedom/salvation in giving up "sins" in lieu of God's ways?

Alan said...

Dan, it sounds like you're conflating justification and sanctification into one word "salvation"

Craig said...

Dan,

I answered your specific question, and I asked some clarifying questions. As far as the one you answered, I asked it because your original questions seems as if you are limiting salvation to a one time event ( I know you believe that one salvation can be lost and regained), instead of a process that begins with salvation and goes through a process of sanctification. It seems as though Marshall's point is aimed more at people who claim to be saved, yet continue to say and do things that would indicate otherwise. I would slightly differ from how your formulate your concept by saying that the process is salvation (by grace alone etc.), sanctification (also by grace alone etc. then some sort of completion or perfection (I don't believe that this last part happens short of heaven, bot some traditions seem to believe that it is possible). If this is just a semantic difference then we're on the same page.

It seems as though one side in this discussion is perceived as saying we want to draw the circle so small that no one but "us" gets in. While the other perception is that we want the circle so big that anyone gets in no matter what. I think both of these are inaccurate. My hope is that I can understand where you stand.


GKS,

I guess I should be pleased that you are happy. I don't do it to please you or anyone else. This may be semantics, but I don't see it as "nobless oblige for the great unwashed". It's what Christians are called to do, so I do it. Maybe you see "the great unwashed" I see people created in the image of God.

Anyway my offer still stands, if you'd like to quit "playing games like this" and jump on in I'll be happy to hook you up.

Marshall Art said...

"great unwashed"? Geoff plays his own games. More irony. Imagine the hubris that exists to suggest that Craig's efforts are, in Craigs' mind, some kind of condescending, "Well, OK, I'll help the poor bastard." What arrogance!

Alan said...

It is interesting to see how mysterious you fundies all seem to think that election is, as if it is some big crap shoot.

The Bible is pretty clear that the elect will know they're saved.

That you deny anyone's election who you don't personally approve of doesn't actually mean they're not saved. Speaking of arrogance. Heh.

What a scary world you must live in where you are not assured of your salvation, where it is just a rug that God will pull out from under you based on whim and caprice.

Sorry Craig, your ironic comment of the day just got trumped by Marshall "I-am-God-and-I-get-to-decide-if-you're-saved-or-not" Art's comment about arrogance. You two will have to share the award for ironic comment of the day.

Marshall Art said...

Geoff said,

"According to the Bible, it is simple - loving God and loving neighbor."


In the first, Geoffrey would have a hard time explaining what the rest of the Bible is for if that is all the Bible teaches. Seems pretty clear that the rest of the Bible teaches us how to act and what to believe so as to show that we do in fact believe and have faith in Him.

I would also challenge Geoffrey to provide some Scriptural support for his goofy statement that God doesn't care about issues of what is or isn't sinful. This is pure and unadulterated nonsense. If He didn't care, He wouldn't have provided a list of what is sinful behavior. It's just that sinful. As Jesus Himself said we should obey God's commandments, I don't see where someone supposedly educated in the faith can say such a stupid thing. To say more elaboration is required is an overstatement.

Marshall Art said...

Dan said,

"We ARE SAVED by God's grace, alone. Period. End of conversation. It isn't our smarts or our ability to get every topic right that saves us, it's God's grace alone.

AND, we are BEING SAVED by God's grace, by walking down the road Jesus walked and following the teachings Jesus taught."


Now aside from being totally opposite of Geoffrey's "God doesn't care" statement, Dan is a bit schizo here. We're either saved by grace alone or we're not. And if we're to follow the teachings of Jesus, how does that not include obeying God's commandments? Particularly this incredibly clear and unambiguous one?

If we're to live as Jesus taught us to live, then you are agreeing with me and to preach a heresy that some forms of a forbidden behavior are somehow acceptable, without any Scriptural evidence to support that ludicrous position, is counter to your own beliefs. For example, there are no Scriptural references to pagan ritual sex practices in the verses that speak against homosex behavior. Scripture simply says, "Thou shalt not..." or some other else equally clear.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Art tosses down a gauntlet.

Which I refuse to pick up. Loving God and loving neighbor is, as Jesus says, the sum total of the Law and the Prophets. We do not gain salvation this way. We are marked as saved if this is our lives. This is who the Church - not Alan, nor Art, nor Dan, nor Bubba - is. The Church is not individuals. We aren't Christians out on our own. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, living in the world, wearing a hundred different faces and names, speaking a thousand languages, yet understanding one another completely because of the power of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost was just a couple weeks ago, you know).

Whether or not an individual confesses, or even has a chance to confess, belief in his or her heart, "Jesus is Lord", St. Paul is quite clear that people who live as if they had heard are as much a part of the Body of Christ as those who do have such opportunities. Jesus said that if no person on earth confessed the greatness of God, if no one claimed to be a Son of Abraham (in faith, if not in lineage), then the stones would cry out.

You guys don't get it because you don't want to. Yes, a person can confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and support gay marriage. A person can confess Jesus Christ is Lord and oppose its adoption as the law of the land. It has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not that person is saved by grace through faith.

God doesn't have a litmus test. "Christ died for us while we were yet sinners; that proves God's love for us." We should be clear this is not a temporal, but rather ontological, sense of "yet sinners", because St. Paul is always clear that the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ which he experiences through the power of the Holy Spirit (there's that Trinity again) is something he needs each and every moment of his life. St. Paul sins. St. Paul is, and will continue to be, the greatest of sinners, saved by God's grace.

Alan, too, is correct. We Christians believe and confess the salvation we have received because of the testimony of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It isn't a mystery. Nor is it something we can prove or not prove. It is, thanks be to God. We do not, as John Wesley said, cling to the slender reed of our baptism, nor do we, as Jesus said, consider our lineage a birthright. Our belief in God's work in our lives comes through our lives.

Which makes all the huffing and puffing you fundies do kind of funny.

Dan Trabue said...

Okay, BEYOND my original question and the point of this post (on which most of my right-ish friends seem to have said they agree with me and orthodoxy - grace IS sufficient), some OTHER questions have been asked. If I might sum them up, the questions asked are along the lines of: Can one believe ANYTHING and be a Christian?

Can one reject Jesus as a real person and be a Christian? Can one reject the notion of God and be a Christian? Can one embrace a salvation earned by shedding innocent blood and be a Christian?

My answer to these OTHER questions would be, No, I don't think so. But do we know anyone who is rejecting Jesus or rejecting grace and claiming to be a Christian? That is, I don't know anyone in the real world who is suggesting such an approach. On the other hand, there ARE Christians, saved by grace, who truly believe that gay marriage is a good thing. These are obviously Christians, by biblical measures.

They have the fruit of the Spirit in increasing measure in their lives, they work for and with the least of these, they love God and love people. All the measures that you find in the NT of what it is to be a Christian is present in their lives, as well as belief in Jesus and His ways, and an abiding trust in God's grace.

So, given someone who is biblically a Christian, given orthodox Christian measures and biblical evidence in their lives, IF they believe in some non-essential point in a way that I disagree with, I have no reason to suggest that they're not a Christian.

I think Craig is a Christian, for instance. For all our disagreements, his testimony rings true and the evidence of his Christianity appears in his life. So, if Craig disagrees with what, to ME, is an obvious biblical teaching (for instance, if Craig believes in taking oaths, or in storing up treasures on earth, or that gay marriage is wrong or thinks that it's okay for Christians to kill their enemies, even), well, I'll obviously disagree with him where I think he's obviously wrong, but these behavioral disagreements are NOT the defining element of Christianity, thus, I would not reject him as a Christian for disagreeing with me or my tribe on these points.

Why would I? And why would any adult, reasonable Christian reject those from my tribe simply for disagreeing on some of their non-essential points?

Dan Trabue said...

As to the repeated comments here along this line...

I am aware that this is a tactic you have used

My asking a question is a "tactic" only insofar as I'm seeking to clarify. Too many of those on the right-ish side who respond to folk like me jump from "we disagree" to "you're not a Christian..."

By clarifying, "Is grace sufficient?" then we can dispense with these ridiculous ad hom side tracks and try to deal with our actual differences. If you think "clarification" is a tactic, well, okay. But that seems a bit extreme to me.

Craig said...

Dan,

I'm not sure I can imagine any but a rare instance when I might question someones salvation. However, when one who claims to be a Christian, and says and does things that seem contrary to the essence of Christian teaching, belief, and practice questions are raised. Usually, I assume confusion on some point or another or perhaps someone who is not mature in their faith. I would prefer that none be kept out, but agree with C.S. Lewis that many exclude themselves.

"why would any adult, reasonable Christian reject those from my tribe simply for disagreeing on some of their non-essential points?"

The problem with this question is that it's not for me or anyone else to grant or deny salvation and I'll leave those decisions up to God. It does however seem that at some point one can stray so far beyond the bounds that it becomes necessary to disassociate from them as their error can be harmful to others.

Marshall Art said...

"Art tosses down a gauntlet.

Which I refuse to pick up."


Because, Geoffrey, you know, whether consciously or inherently, that it is a no-win for you to do so.

God doesn't care how we live? Of course He does. Why would there be a hell if He didn't care? Why would there be Judgement if He didn't care? Why would Jesus insist that we obey His commandments if He didn't care?

You guys like to bring up apples to my oranges. Which form of baptism a given denomination favors, or whether water baptism is necessary, or, inane, which economic system to support, is hardly equal to questions regarding which sinful behavior is now no longer sinful. What a deceitful ploy by supposedly more intelligent and educated people.

And then to insist we turn our attentions to victims of natural disasters as being the more worthy expenditure of our time. What a childish example of changing the subject, as if we should neglect something so culturally impacting as the redefinition of sin.

Alan said...

"contrary to the essence of Christian teaching"

Such as gay marriage, which we all know is the *essence* of Christian teaching.

Alan said...

"Which form of baptism a given denomination favors, or whether water baptism is necessary, or, inane, which economic system to support, is hardly equal to questions regarding which sinful behavior is now no longer sinful."

And yet again MA demonstrates he has no comprehension at all of Christian history.

Nor does he, apparently understand that Baptism is actually one of only two sacraments in Protestant Christianity. It would seem getting it right on the sacraments would indeed be a big deal.

But not to MA, because tradition, orthodoxy, history mean nothing to him.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

I don't think any of the right-leaning visitors have expressed any agreement with you as you have explained yourself. Nice try. What's more, it is a deceitful oversimplification to say that anyone has "jumped" from mere disagreement to questioning your faithfulness or salvation. There have been tons of comments explaining the incredible weakness of your arguments on this issue alone (to say nothing of your other positions), and those comments have raised questions that go unanswered.

To mine, to the extent that you understand it properly, you have again gone both ways on the issue.

You think one can sincerely believe as you do and not risk, but can't see that someone might sincerely believe their own troubling things, such as "Can one embrace a salvation earned by shedding innocent blood and be a Christian?" and you won't give them the same courtesy you demand of your own beliefs. You think sincerity is the key and they might be sincere as well, thus anyone can believe, apparently, ANYTHING and be saved.

Further, it was brought up that one who lives as if he heard about the Lord will be judged as one who has (or words to that effect). But this, too, fails to address what constitutes a life pleasing to the Lord.

So little time for me here, but it's obvious that you guys are still dancing around the point, trying to find some way to justify your arrogance in redefining this sinful behavior as non-sinful for you (regardless, Alan, whether one engages in it or supports others who do).

Marty said...

Craig: "It does however seem that at some point one can stray so far beyond the bounds that it becomes necessary to disassociate from them as their error can be harmful to others."

I believe that only God can determine who has strayed too far beyond the bounds. Only He can see into the heart of one who professes their belief.

But if you feel you can determine that yourself, then by all means dissassociate yourself. But it seems to me, if you really mean that, you'd want to dissassociate yourself from what you've determined to be heretical bloggers as well.

The most profound comment of this thread, imo, was Geoffrey's reply to Craig's question - "Would it be safe to assume that someone who claims to be a Christian but can't unambiguously affirm your comment has difficulty understanding what it means to be a Christian?"

Geoffrey: "I have difficulty unambiguously affirming my own comment! Why? Because I am a sinner, before, during and after any affirmation I make about the saving power of God incarnate in Jesus Christ. I want to believe that, live that, and know that each and every moment of each and every day I fail - utterly, completely."

I can so identify with this statement. I stumble every day between belief and unbelief and each day I have to ask God to help me in my unbelief. I have no right to (as Craig said) "look at their words and deeds to see if what they say and do lines up with what they claim" and in doing so, stand as the prosecutor, judging the condition of their soul.

It isn't easy being christian. Especially when those who should care about you the most cast the first stone.

Alan said...

"if you really mean that, you'd want to dissassociate yourself from what you've determined to be heretical bloggers as well. "

Heh. We should be so lucky.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

In his letters to the Corinthians, St. Paul was clear - when people are in error, call them on it, in love.

What were the errors St. Paul considered worth calling people out for? Creating denominations - I am of Paul, I am of Cephas, etc. - was a biggie. By saying, in essence, that the teacher was greater than the master, they were failing to understand that all of them were united, through the Spirit, in Jesus Christ, in praise and service to the Father.

A specific issue was a man living with his step-mother as husband and wife. Along with just plain icky, St. Paul saw this massive violation of social ettiquette as a blemish on the congregation. These two needed to be confronted and put out of the congregation until they changed their ways.

The congregation chose a different approach, that seemed to work, and by 2 Corinthians, St. Paul seemed flummoxed - on the one hand, he wanted the folks there to follow his advice; on the other, the fact that a successful resolution had taken place was a good sign. In other words, Paul wasn't worried about means in a case like this. He was concerned about the end.

The big no-no, however, was the division within the congregation rooted in social status and class. Even worse than taking sides between apostles and the weird family habits of some members, how the congregation decided who was in and who was out kind of pushed the Tarsus tent-maker over the edge.

Chapters 12 and 13, the best known of 1 Corinthians, are long excurses on diversity and loving acceptance, which, if followed today, would make discussions such as these unknown. (cont'd)

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

All of which is to say that even in Apostolic era, the church had issues that divided it. Some, such as the equivalent of denominationalism, St. Paul understood as a major issue. Others, like the way social status determined liturgical practice, were also important. The private habits of congregation members were important, too, but only because they had the potential to reflect poorly on the congregation as a whole. The whole arc of that particular story seems to indicate that St. Paul wanted the matter dealt with, in love. When it was resolved, he was satisfied.

At the same time, he lectured the folks in Corinth that they needed to be more open, more loving, more accepting that they were now Christ's, in the Spirit, for the sake of the Father - for this reason they needed to set aside the rules and status they considered important and live out the Gospel in their living and worshiping together. So, there is a tension in St. Paul, as he struggles to come to terms with the whole "how to be Church" thing.

A struggle we continue.

Marty said...

alan: "Baptism is actually one of only two sacraments in Protestant Christianity"

Baptists don't consider it a sacrament, but an ordinance not necessary for salvation. But they are sticklers on the method...immersion only. So one has to wonder why the mode is so important if it's not necessary to salvation. Immersion is the ONLY form of baptism that shows the picture of what has transpired within the believer...that picture of the death and burial of sin (going under the water) and resurrection with Christ (coming up out of the water). Many Baptist churches will insist one be baptized again by immersion if they had only been sprinkled as a baby. A Lutheran pastor once asked me, when I was still a Baptist, "I accept your baptism, why don't you accept mine?" Well, quite frankly, because it wasn't done after the profession of faith and the mode was all wrong. It was the single most important issue that kept me from joining any other denomination. Infant baptism was anathema! So, Alan you are correct with your history lesson. I'm now over such things as that and am quite happy to be a United Methodist, infant baptism and all. The UMC will, however, immerse you, if you so choose. My aunt is Methodist and as a child requested to be immersed, so her pastor baptized her in the bapistry at the Baptist Church down the street. Perhaps she was conflicted since her Mom was Methodist and her Dad Baptist.

Alan said...

Indeed, issues surrounding paedobaptism were important enough for Felix Manz to get executed as a heretic by none other than Zwingli. (Ironically, Manz was sentenced to death by drowning.

Servetus was executed as a heretic for his theology of the trinity and paedobaptism by none other than John Calvin. (He was burned at the stake.)

Baptism was apparently a big enough issue that two of the biggest names in the Protestant Reformation had people executed over it.

I guess Zwingli and Calvin also used baptism as a "deceitful ploy" to distract MA from his "more important" issues.

(At this point MA is wondering who the heck this Zwingli guy is.)

Seriously, sometimes I wonder if MA actually knows anything at all about the Christianity he claims to profess. I see no evidence of it.

And seriously I wonder sometimes if his cronies are so interested in correcting us eeeevul lib'ruls why they can't find a few minutes to correct one of their own.

Perhaps they're no better educated about the history of the religion they claim than he is.

So how 'bout it Craig? Do you agree that issues surrounding the proper use and administration of the sacraments are unimportant? Or are only us eeeevul lib'ruls evil enough to warrant your special attention?

Alan said...

BTW, Craig, since I believe you're presbyterian, perhaps you could explain to MA how both baptism and communion, as sacraments, are a means of grace, along with hearing the Word preached. But marriage, since it is not a sacrament, is not.

Craig said...

Marty,

"I believe that only God can determine who has strayed too far beyond the bounds. Only He can see into the heart of one who professes their belief."

I would suggest that we can discern from people behavior and words clues as to the condition of their heart. Something like by their fruit you will know them. There is much advice in the Bible that is helpful here. But as I said earlier, it's not my decision nor would I presume to make that decision.

"you'd want to dissassociate yourself from what you've determined to be heretical bloggers as well."

Please show me who I have determined to be heretical and where I have done so. Perhaps you didn't understand the point of my comment, which was how rarely I can imagine this being an issue.

So, I shall repeat, I do not have the ability, desire, or information to accurately judge someones soul. Some folks may exhibit behavior which would raise questions, which would be grounds to investigate, nothing else.

Marty said...

"Some folks may exhibit behavior which would raise questions, which would be grounds to investigate, nothing else."

And how might this "investigation" be carried out? Would it involve interrogation? Even into the smallest jot and tittle? To the point of waterboarding their faith? Could this "investigation" lead you to determine whether or not a person was saved?

Alan said...

So the answer is "No", Craig?

Youre willing to "investigate" people, but not correct one of your buddies who clearly believes something wrong?

Nice. I guess we see your "works". I wonder what we can discern from them? ;)

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

The Wesleyan Quadrilateral - our sources for understanding who we are as the people of God are Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience - are a nice check upon the Scylla and Charybdis of so much Protestant thought: fideism and rationalism. When the latter offers itself in service to the former as in fundamentalism, the result is bad theology and even worse practice.

As Alan makes clear, any study of the history of the faith reveals that we Christian have managed to get all heated up over all sorts of things - baptism and the eucharist, Trinitarianism versus Unitarianism, celibacy and marriage for clergy - some of which are important, others not so much.

Relying solely on either a fideistic attempt to source contemporary belief and practice in Scripture, or the rationalistic notion rooting the expression of belief in a narrow understanding of logical reasoning leaves us with few tools to comprehend possible lessons in these historical realities. For me (the only person for whom I am competent to speak), the Wesleyan Quadrilateral provides a far better, far richer intellectual framework within which we can remain faithful to the tradition while always ensuring we are not straying from the essentials of the faith ("Jesus is Lord").

Accepting the differences inherent in different traditions - Catholic and Reformed, Orthodox and Evangelical - rather than seeing them as ultimate distinctions of truth versus error, is one result. Another is seeing that what all of those united in this thread share - despite the many manifest differences - is our claimed unity in the Holy Spirit.

That, my friends, is the only thing that matters, the only thing about which we should be talking, and the only thing that makes us who we are, those claimed by God, wearing the seal of the cross on our lives.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Wesley believed, and practiced, what contemporary scholars call "accountable discipleship". This little phrase is rooted in the class meetings Wesley arranged at Oxford, where he and a small group of like-minded friends gathered each week for prayer and communion, to lift one another up and hold one another accountable in matters of living out the faith - acts of worship and justice, acts of compassion and contemplation. In all his voluminous writings, there is not a single mention of anyone turned away from the revival movement for any reason. There are numerous accounts of those who fell away, leaving voluntarily, which is one reason Wesley was constantly looking for new lay preachers.

He mourned these losses, seeking ways to bring these people back to the fold. He never once made conditions for their return other than a commitment to the agreement to attend the class meetings in order to work together toward perfection in love.

We can do this - love one another, keep the doors open at all times, let things that matter little matter little - or we can sit around and call each other names to no end or purpose.

Alan said...

Wait.

What????

Christianity isn't all about deciding who's in and who's out? (and trolling blogs to make sure those who are heretics know of our busybody disapproval.)

If we don't spend all our time arguing and "investigating" and witch hunting, what are we going to to with the rest of our time?

;)

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

We United Methodist are not immune from the intrusion of those who wish to insist that non-essentials such as gay marriage are the true test of faith. Called Good News, it has existed for close to two decades, the brain-child of Jim Heidinger. Interestingly, they, too, insisted their core was renewal of theological integrity. Yet both Heidinger and the movement to which he gave so much time and effort were sadly lacking in any understanding of theology, theological method, doctrine, or pretty much anything else.

They have, in fact, threatened for two decades to split the UMC not because of alleged apostasy or heresy. Rather, because an increasing number of United Methodist congregations openly welcome gay and lesbian members and are working toward opening the denomination to gays and lesbians, including in the pulpit.

So, my experience with this kind of thing isn't limited to internet trolls. It comes from listening to Good News continue to carry on about non-essentials, make their empty threats, and generally make a nuisance of themselves without any serious repercussions other than ticking off people for whom Good News claims to speak (that is their schtick, that they represent the "people in the pews" over and against the clergy whom they insist are "liberal", always meaning only the clergy see being in ministry to sexual minorities as a pastoral concern, rather than some Christian principle to be defended).

The best way to deal with them is change the subject, which deprives them of the power of setting the agenda. Dan's question, for all it is important, plays in to their hands. It is far better to talk about the subject in terms outside their reckoning - in terms of the Bible and tradition, of pastoral ministry and loving outreach to the world.

Craig said...

Marty,

Actually it would probably involve asking questions, listening to the answers, developing a better relationship if possible, prayer and discernment. Since I have already repeatedly said that I have no role on determining who is saved, why do you continue to suggest that I would think otherwise. Sorry to disappoint you, if you expected something more violent or nasty.

Marty said...

"I have already repeatedly said that I have no role on determining who is saved,"

Ok. Then what would be the point of the "investigation"?

Bubba said...

Dan:

I'm not sure how one can separate a person's life from his behavior. On the one hand you downplay the importance of "behavioral disagreements," but on the other, you say that we can discern a person's Christian faith by the "biblical evidence in their lives."

You emphasize adherence to "Jesus and His ways," and specifically to the evidence that people "work for and with the least of these," but that's not the only thing Jesus taught.

Jesus also taught that God created us male and female, so that a man (male) would become one flesh with his wife (female).

(Along with the consistent condemnation of homosexual behavior, this teaching makes me deeply skeptical of the claim that support for "gay marriage" is "an obvious biblical teaching" to you or anyone else.)

Jesus didn't limit His teaching to the ethics of charity. Instead, He also affirmed the authority of Scripture, explained what His death would accomplish, emphasized the physical reality of His own Resurrection, and explained God's original purpose for human sexuality.

Deliberately acting in opposition to these teachings, and teaching others to do likewise, all despite the strong likelihood that the person ought to know better, IS strong evidence that that person might not be wholly committed to following Jesus and His teachings.


You allude to "OTHER questions" that have been asked:

"If I might sum them up, the questions asked are along the lines of: Can one believe ANYTHING and be a Christian?

"Can one reject Jesus as a real person and be a Christian? Can one reject the notion of God and be a Christian? Can one embrace a salvation earned by shedding innocent blood and be a Christian?

"My answer to these OTHER questions would be, No, I don't think so. But do we know anyone who is rejecting Jesus or rejecting grace and claiming to be a Christian? That is, I don't know anyone in the real world who is suggesting such an approach.
"

One of those questions caught my attention.

"Can one reject the notion of God and be a Christian?"

About this and the others, you reply in the negative and even add, "I don't know anyone in the real world who is suggesting such an approach."

I do.

Two months ago, I asked you whether Jeff Street would allow an atheist to join. Your answer seems quite relevant to our discussion now.

"As to our local congregation and if someone wants 'membership' or to be part of our community, yes, all are welcome, as long as they’re not a physical threat. That would include those who are seeking Truth who don’t even believe in God, they would be welcome to come to our church, be loved by the community, to be Part of others seeking Truth." [emphasis mine]

Now, I asked about an atheist, and you later used the term "non-theist." I asked about someone who denies God's existence, and you talk about someone who merely doesn't believe in God.

And it's possible that Jeff Street is clear that its congregation includes overt non-Christians; that's an unconventional formulation of the term, to say the least, when most people think of a "congregation" as a local assembly of believers.

But, beyond the examples that Craig and others could give -- of people who claim to be Christian while being very clear in their belief that God is only a useful symbol and not a real Person -- I don't believe your own writing has made clear that belief in God is essential for being a Christian.

Bubba said...

Dan, I look again at your question...

"Can one reject the notion of God and be a Christian?"

...and I notice, you mention the "notion" of God, but not His actual EXISTENCE. That leaves room within Christianity for what Craig was describing, the belief that God is merely a symbol resulting from myth-making, useful but not real.


But there's another question that's at least as problematic.

"Can one embrace a salvation earned by shedding innocent blood and be a Christian?"

You imply that this question has already been raised in this conversation. You write that "some OTHER questions have been asked," and this question is included among the subsequent list that you give.

I admit to having only skimmed some comments, but I don't remember anyone raising an issue that even vaguely touches upon this question.

"Can one embrace a salvation earned by shedding innocent blood and be a Christian?"

Your answer: "No, I don't think so."

But there's a quite prominent Christian doctrine that fits within the scope of that question and is, indeed, the only reasonable thing to which you could be alluding: the doctrine that Christ's death caused our salvation, that we are saved by the shed blood of Him who knew no sin.

Are you actually suggesting that one cannot be a Christian if he believes that Christ's death caused our salvation? Are you actually suggesting that such a belief is tantamount to "rejecting grace"?

If you are, you should say so clearly.

If you aren't, you should explain what you're referencing by this question.

Craig said...

So that I might be able to effectively share the gospel with them. Perhaps it would help me to relate better to them. Isn't that what being in any relationship is about, getting to know someone? I don't understand your offense at my wanting to learn about folks who I interact with.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba, I was thinking specifically of someone who suggests we earn salvation by killing babies, not of Jesus' self-giving sacrifice of grace.

Dan Trabue said...

If you'll look at the context...

Can one reject Jesus as a real person and be a Christian? Can one reject the notion of God and be a Christian? Can one embrace a salvation earned by shedding innocent blood and be a Christian?

...you can see that I was speaking of "out there" claims that no Christians are making.

Beyond that, I always hedge my bets when speaking of another's salvation because I think the Bible is quite clear that there are some who "make it" who we wouldn't have guessed and sometimes the more religious types are "missing it."

Sorry for any misunderstanding.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

I'm not sure how one can separate a person's life from his behavior. On the one hand you downplay the importance of "behavioral disagreements," but on the other, you say that we can discern a person's Christian faith by the "biblical evidence in their lives."

What IS the way the Bible speaks of folk being identified as Christians? Jesus said quite specifically, the ones who did for the poor were of his Realm. John noted that IF we LOVE ONE ANOTHER, "ALL PEOPLE" will "KNOW you are my disciples." Paul points to the fruit of the Spirit as being evidence of Christianity.

In each case, I have a biblical witness to WHY and HOW we know if someone is a disciple of Christ.

ON THE OTHER HAND, there is NO verse that says, "IF we hold to the tradition against gay marriage, people will know you're my disciple." That doesn't exist.

So, the difference between the two "measures" is one is biblical and reasonable and one is not.

You emphasize adherence to "Jesus and His ways," and specifically to the evidence that people "work for and with the least of these," but that's not the only thing Jesus taught.

Jesus also taught that God created us male and female, so that a man (male) would become one flesh with his wife (female).


And I agree with that. But to READ INTO THAT additional meaning is to ADD TO the Bible something that isn't there. And further, to make that a measure of Christianity is to do something that Jesus nor the Bible support.

See the rather clear difference?

Marty said...

Craig: "So that I might be able to effectively share the gospel with them."

But we are talking about someone who has already professed their faith in Christ, who considers themselves Christian. So you've obviously made a determination that they're not saved based on some behavior or something. Right?

Craig: "I don't understand your offense at my wanting to learn about folks who I interact with."

I'm not the least bit offended by that Craig. Not at all. But I am puzzled as to why you would feel the need to share the gospel with someone who is already a Christian.

Edwin Drood said...

Grace comes by faith and faith comes by hearing the word of God.

If you don't believe in the word of God or choose to reject it because it's politicly incorrect then are you really saved by grace?

None of us are perfect but all of us have to admit that our sin is sin.

Craig said...

Marty,

I'm not sure you are ever going to be happy with any answer I give. But I'll try again. I am talking about some one who claims to be a Christian, yet who acts or speaks as if they are not. In that case, why would I not want to find out exactly what they think and why? If they are confused or mistaken about what it means to be a Christian why would I not share the gospel with them? Are you suggesting that conversation and sharing of the good news of Jesus is somehow wrong?

I think the problem happened when I used the term investigate. You have obviously inferred something sinister which I did not intend and this seems to be coloring your attitude going forward. I apologize for the poor word choice.

Dan,

"you can see that I was speaking of "out there" claims that no Christians are making."

Yet I have provided you with a couple of examples of someone who claims to be a Christian who is saying exactly that.

Have you come to the conclusion that this gentleman is not a Christian?

If you have then you've gone further that I have.

On a slight tangent.

If we are saved through grace alone and we can do nothing to earn our salvation, can you address the mechanism of how one loses their salvation? If you still believe that to be possible.

Marty said...

Craig: "I am talking about some one who claims to be a Christian, yet who acts or speaks as if they are not."

Thanks for at least trying to satisfy my curiosity. I'm going to approach this from another angle.

Joan and Margaret have been together for over 50 years. Whether they've had a "marriage" ceremony or not, I couldn't say. Both sing in the church choir, work in VBS, have participated in various mission trips, tithe their incomes, work with the homeless and as far as I can tell live clean and wholesome lives, no drunkeness or carousing around. I've never heard either one of them ever talk ugly about anyone or even use curse words, at least not in my presence.

And then there's Alice and George. Been married 42 years. George sings in the choir, Alice plays the piano, both work in VBS, have participated in various mission trips, tithe their incomes, work with the homeless and as far as I can tell lead clean and wholesome lives, no drunkeness or carousing around. I've never heard either one of them ever talk ugly about anyone or even use curse words, at least not in my presence.

Two couples I know from church, practically mirror images of each other, except for one detail. One couple is Lesbian and the other straight.

Should I be concerned about either couple's salvation and if so, why?

And what about my own salvation? I'm divorced and remarried and have no intentions of leaving my current spouse unless he gives me good reason. I don't sing in the church choir, don't work in VBS, don't work with the homeless, but I do teach kids one Sunday a month in Sunday School and I tithe. I've been known to curse and swear and also stand on street corners and overpass bridges with anti-war signs. And there is one person in my life I have not forgiven. Should I have concerns I might not be saved?

All of us have made professions of faith and believe we are saved by Grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Marty: "All of us have made professions of faith and believe we are saved by Grace through faith in Jesus Christ."

Which is, of course, the point.

Being a Christian doesn't mean a person isn't a sinner. It just means the person recognizes the work of God in Jesus Christ for the salvation and transformation of the world.

Marty said...

Exactly. But I'm not sure the fundies among us agree with that.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

It isn't just the fundies. It's all of us. That's been part of my point in my comments. I'm trying to get past the whole "we're right and they're wrong" BS. Do "we" "get it" in some way "they" don not? We pride ourselves on typing the correct words in the proper order, but that isn't the same as "getting it", or even having those words, typed in the correct order, be free from the taint of sin.

At some point, we have to surrender the desire to be right. All of us. That is part of OUR problem - the problem all of us have. All of us. We.

Bubba said...

Dan,

Compared to those other hypothetical questions, that one I highlighted seemed to come out of nowhere, so THANK YOU for that quick and very clear explanation.


About following Jesus and affirming "gay marriage," there's no comparable parable to the sheep and the goats on the subject of chastity.

There's also no comparable parable on dishonesty or idolatry, and yet I don't believe it's any great leap to find suspect the professed faith of an unrepetant con artist or literal idolator.

And we do have lists of those who will not inherit the kingdom (e.g., I Cor 6:9-10), and those lists include those who practice sexual immorality.

You refer to "the tradition against gay marriage," but I find no way around the fairly obvious implications of Matthew 19.

God made us male and female so that a man (male) would become one flesh with his wife (female).

Personalize it: God made me male so that I would become one flesh with my wife.

It strikes me as absurd -- to the degree that willful disobedience seems the only reasonable explanation -- for any mentally competent man to conclude that that principle provides no hint of an answer to the question, am I morally permitted to marry another man?

People are free to disagree, but I believe we are all to be held responsible for whether we have loved God even with all our minds.

And I believe we can evaluate -- however provisionally and incompletely -- whether self-described Christians submit to or defy ALL of what Jesus taught, not just those few teachings that are explicit markers of belonging to Him.

God alone decides who is His, but we can partially and provisionally DISCERN who is His -- and Matthew 7:15-20 suggests that we have a responsiblity to do so.

Marshall Art said...

"ON THE OTHER HAND, there is NO verse that says, "IF we hold to the tradition against gay marriage, people will know you're my disciple." That doesn't exist."

I, too, was going to bring up 1 Cor 6:9-10. I checked the verses out in multiple versions of the Bible and of the at least half-dozen I've checked, all but one referred to homosexual behavior and more often than not, apart from male prostitution. Not one made any mention of pagan religious practices in connection with the behavior. Not one presented any context that would suggest an acceptable exception. To say there's nothing that would lead, as Bubba has said, a mentally competent man to suppose that homosexual marriage could ever possibly be acceptable is to greatly understate the absurdity of the notion. There simply is no possible way to logically, and more importantly, honestly arrive as such a conclusion.

Thus, one must willfully reject Scriptural teaching to support the notion and by doing so, one assumes the authority to contradict God's clearly revealed command regarding the sinfulness of the behavior. If this isn't an offense to the Spirit, I don't know what is and this arrogant elevation of one's self to such lofty license cannot bode well for one's salvation.

This isn't a matter of merely being "right" about an issue. It is worse than that. It is a clear case of putting one's self over God's Will, that anyone would expend the effort to contort Scripture so badly so as to justify doing so. And then, to condescend to and accuse those who care enough to point out the danger of doing so.

(I've begun rereading both Corinthian Epistles as a result of Geoffrey's outlandish claim that Paul somehow backed away from his 1 Cor admonishment of the dude shacking up with his old man's wife. Such a ludicrous statement set off my BS detector, but I have to go through them on the off chance that Geoffrey has not once again merely missed the point. I labor in vain, no doubt.)

Craig said...

Marty,

You keep asking essentially the same question over and over again, and I'm not sure what you hope to gain as I'm not going to answer any differently.

"Should I be concerned about either couple's salvation and if so, why?"

Given the limited information you have given I would see no reason why you would be. Dam keeps coming back to knowing people by their fruit which seems as reasonable biblical way to approach things. Since I don't know these people,nor do I know their fruit, nor am I blessed with some sort of God like power, I have no way to answer your question above.

"All of us have made professions of faith and believe we are saved by Grace through faith in Jesus Christ."

Since I can only assume sincerity on the part of all concerned, and I have no mystical insight I'm not sure (again) what you are hoping for.

"Should I have concerns I might not be saved?"

Personally I subscribe to the whole "once saved always saved" thing, so maybe you should ask Dan as he doesn't.

"Being a Christian doesn't mean a person isn't a sinner. It just means the person recognizes the work of God in Jesus Christ for the salvation and transformation of the world."

I completely agree with GKS here. It almost seems like you all are assuming that those the right somehow find the presence of sin to be evidence that someone is not saved. I'm pretty sure no one actually thinks that.

"But I'm not sure the fundies among us agree with that."

Based on what?

"At some point, we have to surrender the desire to be right."

There is something really good here, but it's too early for me to process it.

I will say that for me, it's not so much a I'm right, you're wrong attitude. Because there are things I struggle with that I can say "I'm right that this is a sin" yet "I'm wrong for going back and doing the same thing again". We all sin, yet that doesn't mean we can't/don't know what we should be doing.

Alan said...

Basically it all boils down to this:

Those who do not think about their own sins make up for it by thinking incessantly about the sins of others. -- CS Lewis.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

To say there's nothing that would lead, as Bubba has said, a mentally competent man to suppose that homosexual marriage could ever possibly be acceptable is to greatly understate the absurdity of the notion. There simply is no possible way to logically, and more importantly, honestly arrive as such a conclusion.

And yet, EVEN IF you state this hunch 1 million more times, it will be demonstrably false each time because I and countless others HAVE honestly, sincerely, seeking-God's-Will arrived at that conclusion.

I will state it again, Marshall: Just because you can't conceive of something does not mean that it is.

Or, as Hamlet stated it...

There are more things in heaven and earth, Marshall,Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

It is just observable fact that other reasonable, Godly men and women HAVE reached this conclusion. My question remains (restated here): DOES someone reaching this conclusion somehow mean that they aren't saved?

The answer from nearly every front amongst your conservative brethren, Marshall, is that one's salvation is not dependent upon a "right" position on gay marriage.

Marty said...

Craig: "It almost seems like you all are assuming that those the right somehow find the presence of sin to be evidence that someone is not saved."

All have sinned and fall short. I don't even think that's the issue.

It's when people have determined "sins" individually and specifically homosexuality and single it out as a "sin".

I do not believe long term committed loving relationships of any stripe are sinful. But there are those who do believe a homosexual cannot be saved if they continue their behavior. However, they do not feel the same about people who are divorced and remarried. It's perfectly fine for that adulterous behavior to continue. I'm glad to find out you're not one of those Craig.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

It almost seems like you all are assuming that those the right somehow find the presence of sin to be evidence that someone is not saved. I'm pretty sure no one actually thinks that.

Well, that WAS THE EXACT POINT of my asking my titular question, wasn't it? I was trying to clarify amongst the more conservative amongst us (and here we go for the thousandth time):

IS grace sufficient for salvation or do we ALSO have to believe gay marriage = bad?

Some here SEEM (Marshall?) to still hold to the position that a true Christian CAN'T hold to the position that marriage is good for all people AND still be saved by grace. Others here pretty reluctantly agreed that, "Yes, IF you push it, yes, we are saved by grace..." But even then, there appears to be a huge "...BUT..." hanging over it.

I'm glad that for the most part, we can all agree that grace is sufficient and that holding a "right" view on gay marriage is not part of the salvation equation. But seriously Craig, given the number of "conservatives/fundamentalists" who reject the Christianity of folk like me largely for our position on gay marriage, you can understand how it seems that some add "opposition to gay marriage" to the salvation message of Christian grace.

Craig said...

Marty,

Thanks, I think. I would still argue that homosexual behavior is a sin, and that "marriage" does not eliminate the sinfulness of the underlying behavior.

Having said that I would agree that all who are saved should be undergoing a process (usually called sanctification) where we continue to move away from sin and to become more like Christ. I would not single out any particular sin or type of sin as being more or less problematic than any other. So when we see "all have sinned" I believe it really means all, and God's grace is available for salvation. (I'm trying really hard not to get into election or anything else here so I'll not go any further.)

Where I think problems come is when folks who claim to be/are saved start to try to justify continuing in sin. (Note, this is not specific to any particular sin) For example if a Christian guy decided that Jesus didn't really mean the whole looking on a woman lustfully=adultery thing, and went on to justify his continued use of porn, I'd wonder what was going on.

"I do not believe long term committed loving relationships of any stripe are sinful."

I'd love to see how one would justify a long term loving adulterous relationship. Or how about some scriptural support that a long term loving relationship makes sinful behavior "unsinful".

"But there are those who do believe a homosexual cannot be saved if they continue their behavior."

I would say that anyone "can" be saved. However I wonder why one would want to continue in sinful behavior after they were (again I'm not singling out any particular sinful behavior).

" However, they do not feel the same about people who are divorced and remarried."

Given that Jesus and Paul both laid out some guidelines for acceptable divorce I think you are talking apples and oranges here. If your point is that the Church should be more consistent on how it deals with all sexual sin, then I would agree with you. Again to single out one particular area of sin while ignoring others seems wrong to me. However, if the point is just to condemn then it's all bad. If the point is to show love, grace and promote healing and restoration then it makes some more sense.

" It's perfectly fine for that adulterous behavior to continue. "

A presbyterian pastor carried on a long term sexual relationship with a church member "because" his wife had a degenerative disease. This is wrong on so many levels I don't know where to start, but it went on for years. I would agree that it is not perfectly fine for any sinful behavior to continue without repentence.

Craig said...

Dan,

"you can understand how it seems that some add "opposition to gay marriage" to the salvation message of Christian grace."

The key word there is "seems". I think part of the misunderstanding is you using the term salvation to include other parts of the process of Christian growth.

Having said that I don't want to add any more to what is on the table. There are a number of questions/comments that you have not had time to get to.

Dan Trabue said...

No, I don't think it's a matter of "seems." There are many on your side who reject or question our Christianity based on that disagreement. Never mind that I'm saved by grace through faith in Jesus. Never mind that the biblical evidence is there in our lives. It comes down to, "You think marriage equity is a good thing? Why, I question your Christianity..."

As to your other, off topic questions: I have been and still am on vacation and don't have much time right now, but I just don't see many/any that I have not dealt with at least indirectly. What specific questions are you looking for answers on?

Craig said...

Dan,

When you get back you take a look and decide what you want to get into. Vacation is important and I don't want you to cut into yours for this. Fair enough?

Craig said...

Marty,

A couple of thoughts since my last response.

First, I really don't see any need to rehash the question of whether homosexual behavior is a sin. Can we for the purpose of this discussion stipulate that it is possible and reasonable for one person through dilligent, prayerful study to come to the conclusion that homosexual activity is a sin, and another through equally dilligent and prayerful study to conclude that God blesses homosexual activity? Otherwise this will get even more repetitive than it already is.

Second, since this is both repeating a conversation I've had with Dan and going further off topic, would it make more sense to continue this elsewhere. Either your/my blog or via e mail.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Art, I never once claimed or even hinted that St. Paul "backed off" his condemnation of the man living with his step-mother. On the contrary, I cited it because, well, it's in the text, and was, for Saul, an important measure of the Corinthian congregation's willingness to tolerate what he (St. Paul) considered behavior beyond the pale.

I have never, nor would ever, make the silly, un-Biblical claim that St. Paul somehow "backed off" that condemnation. I made the point, rather, that of all the things that concerned St. Paul with the folks in Corinth, this was kind of low on the list of priorities. Reading 1 Corinthians carefully, it is remarkable how St. Paul sets forth his complaints in order, from least to most annoying. The single biggest issue is the way the congregation continues to live together as they live in the world of Roman/cosmopolitan Corinth. That's the heart of the complaint throughout much of the letter and, as St. Paul sees it, the root of many of their other problems.

It is relevant to the question at hand, because nowhere in the text of 1 Corinthians do I read St. Paul saying this guy and his step-mother are not Christians, are going to hell. On the contrary, while there is clearly expressed anger, one also gets the sense St. Paul wants the couple to correct what he sees as their immoral behavior not for the sake of their salvation, but for the spiritual health of the congregation. Furthermore, generalizing from this specific example to what you and others perceive as the immoral behavior of same-sex love just can't be done. It violates logic to generalize from a specific example. The cases are apples and oranges. One has nothing to do with the other. I could go on and on.

And St. Paul seems to believe the couple is still Christian. Just as I believe you and Bubba and Craig are Christian, just as Alan and Dan and Marty and I are.

Marshall Art said...

"And yet, EVEN IF you state this hunch 1 million more times, it will be demonstrably false each time because I and countless others HAVE honestly, sincerely, seeking-God's-Will arrived at that conclusion."

EVEN IF you state that this verifiable fact is merely a hunch, it won't get you any closer to having it become true. If you wish to insist that you have "honestly and sincerely" arrived at this conclusion, then your mental competence is definitely in question. The same is true for all those who have agreed with you. One needs to support the contention with something akin to actual Scriptural interpretation that defies suspicion. That suspicion is enhanced by your inability and/or unwillingness to respond to the many queries your "interpretations" provoke. What's more, there exists at least two scholars of the homosexual persuasion that admit no Scriptural justifications exist for the behavior in any context. If need be, I'll find their names and provide a quote or two. Can they be wrong and you right? No, since they are indeed right about the question and you're not. Once again, there's no mystery about it. No deep ambiguities that need to be resolved in the honest, sincere and MENTALLY COMPETENT person's mind. It's about as clear cut a case of prohibition as exists anywhere in Scripture.

Your buddies want to distract with irrelevant histories regarding schism within the body of Christ. This isn't an issue on par with how to baptize or when. It isn't an issue of capitalism vs socialism. It is taking a clearly revealed statement of Scripture describing a particular sinful behavior and pretending you have divined a loophole through which your friends can carry on. It is about refusing to repent and still demanding that one is entitled to salvation simply for mouthing words. It is putting forth a notion about a behavior that the God of the Bible prohibits without exception that can only mean the god you claim has saved you isn't the same entity.

To be saved by grace does not mean there is nothing each of us must do. You suggest this yourself with your reference to "fruits". But you couch the notion in a narrow understanding of insipid touchy-feely, what-a-nice-guy platitudes that are far more an example of works-based salvation than anything I've ever suggested.

I don't care how "sincere" one claims to be in their misplaced allegiances to bad behaviors. I don't care how much time one claims to have spent in "prayerful meditations seeking the Will of God". If one's conclusions bear no resemblance to the clearly revealed intentions of God, one has erected for themselves a false god every bit as worthless as a stone idol of a pagan. Such cannot provide salvation.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Art: "the clearly revealed intentions of God"

The Bible: "What does the LORD require? To do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God."

As for your expressed apathy toward the history of Christians killing one another over baptism - the anabaptists were called that not because they insisted on rebaptizing folks, but because the Calvinists and Catholics both killed them in huge numbers by drowning, in an attempt at murderous irony - I guess that speaks for itself, really. People got bent out of shape about all sorts of things we no longer care about (immersion versus pouring; infant baptism versus believer's baptism; Zwingli got burned at the stake for holding a "pretzel communion"; seriously), things that, on the whole, go far more toward the heart of the faith than whether or not someone supports the legalization of same-sex marriage in a secular society.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Plus, Art, you called me arrogant at some point in this far-too-long thread. Yet, here you are insisting that you know better than Dan the state of his relationship with God, the way the Spirit moved in him and through him as he searched to be true to his faith.

Just . . . wow.

Edwin Drood said...

"It is about refusing to repent and still demanding that one is entitled to salvation simply for mouthing words. It is putting forth a notion about a behavior that the God of the Bible prohibits without exception that can only mean the god you claim has saved you isn't the same entity."

--Marshal Art

Well Said

Marshall Art said...

Geoffrey,

I will continue my re-reading of both Corinthian Epistles while you continue to express an incredible lack of understanding, interjected with what you think Paul "seems" to be saying. Right there you give yourself away. You really aren't the intellect you suppose yourself to be and thus would do well to concern yourself with what he does say, rather than what YOU think he seems to be saying.

Indeed, your chronic syndrome of point missing is on display once again as Paul's admonishments regarding divisions according to the preacher is simply a matter of each faction understanding that they need to concern themselves with the One about Whom the preachers preached. That is hardly the same as divisions over whether God's clear commands are being followed or ignored and the sinful behavior being celebrated, supported and enabled.

The horrors over murders due to differences in just how to baptize are also irrelevant and in no way a parallel to the issue here. There's no apathy on my part regarding those events, but only frustration over bringing up that which has no connection to the issue. That's just further muddying of the waters by one who joins in with the sinners to call evil good.

Marshall Art said...

""What does the LORD require? To do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.""

Does walking humbly with your God include deciding for yourself that a behavior He calls an abomination/detestable is no longer so if done in a particular way that Scripture does not mention in any way, shape or form? No wonder you prefer to change the subject. You have no defense for such insult to God's sovereignty. There's nothing humble about re-writing Scripture to suit your worldly preferences.

Here's another Geoffrey-ism that is really goofy:

"On the contrary, while there is clearly expressed anger, one also gets the sense St. Paul wants the couple to correct what he sees as their immoral behavior not for the sake of their salvation, but for the spiritual health of the congregation."

If the salvation of the immoral couple is not at stake, what possible way would it matter to the "spiritual health" of the congregation. If there is no wrong in their behavior, there is no harm. If there is wrong, then to be a bunch of 1st century liberals who tolerate the behavior is what is doing harm to the congregation. They were freaking boasting about it in the same way you do about your "open and affirming" houses of heresies. Look again at verses 9-11 of Chapter 5! He's talking specifically about people just like you guys! V. 11: "But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral..." And this isn't simply "what he sees" as immoral behavior, but what he states as fact IS immoral behavior, in the same way I have also stated as fact that homosexual behavior is, in any manifestation, context or whatever, is immoral behavior.

You like to dismiss issues of sexual morality as insignificant in the life of a Christian. That God "doesn't care" about such things. You have yet to support that contention with anything approaching a coherent and logical Scripture-based argument.

Over and over again you three (four, if we count your cheerleader, Marty) fail to present anything that supports your position. Faith in God means faith on His terms, following His commandments as Jesus expects us to, NOT that doing so is what saves us, but that doing so shows we ARE saved. Engaging in and/or supporting those who engage in sinful behavior, celebrating it, enabling it, insisting it is not sinful because of how YOU do it is not a demonstration of faith in the God of the Bible.

And once again, before your desperation compels you to go this route again, I do not speak of human frailty, backsliding due to one's struggle with one's personal demons, but rather the willful rejection of God's Will, especially under the guise of "prayerful" guidance.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

I do not state what I believe St. Paul "seems" to say. I repeat what he says.

Please, for the love of God, Art - stop. Because, you see, I don't care what you say. I don't care that you think I'm wrong. I don't accept your basic premises, your assumptions about what sin is, about salvation, about the Christian life, about God, about grace. The more words you pour forth are not going to change my mind.

Not because I'm right and you're wrong. Because we just live by a different set of assumptions. Both of them flawed. Both of them full of sin and bound for gathering up with the tares to be burned. I am always willing to change my mind, but not based on an entire way of living in the world I find unacceptable. My experience, my study, my interactions with other people, my encounters with people, the things that have happened to me - all have shaped my way of living in the world, just as yours have you.

I have no interest in the kind of thing you, and Bubba, seem to revel in - winning an argument. You want to win? Fine. You won. Don't think for a moment that "winning" has any real meaning here.

Dan's initial statement is correct for the simple reason that real people actually are faithful Christians and support same-sex marriage. Like the atheists who insist that one cannot be a Christian and accept the scientific theory of evolution are wrong because there are Christians who do so, the proposition fails for this simple reason - it is falsified by reality. A single such reality falsifies it. That there are thousands, perhaps millions, who do so not only falsifies it, but renders any claim counter to Dan's meaningless.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

If you wish to insist that you have "honestly and sincerely" arrived at this conclusion, then your mental competence is definitely in question.

Marshall, you are, as always, free to question my mental competence. I think I'm a relatively intelligent and rational person, but maybe it's the case that you're SO much smarter than I am that, by comparison, I'm a drooling fool. It's possible. Anyone can look at the evidence found in our writings and try to cipher that one out if they wish.

I think a reasonable examination of the evidence that exists would show that I'm not that irrational or unintelligent, but it's always a possibility that you're right on that point.

What simply is not a possibility, though, is that I'm being dishonest on this point. I've always told everyone who exactly I am, what exactly my background is and what my position actually is.

It's simply a fact that Dan Trabue, conservative and traditional, seeking only to find God's will, moved away from my old position being opposed to marriage equity to my current position in support of it for the reason that I was/am seeking God's will and this is the conclusion I have honestly reached on this point.

Again, just because you can't imagine it's the case does not make it not the case. I can't imagine you truly think that simplicity or Just Peacemaking are not biblically supported ideas, but I don't doubt that you hold it, since you've said as much.

There's a big wide world of earnest Christians seeking God with hunches about Truth out there, Marshall, and we're going to honestly disagree with one another sometimes. It happens. Get over it.

Marshall...

you three... fail to present anything that supports your position.

Over and over again, we have tried our darnedest to show you what biblical and rational reasons we have for our positions. You don't find the support there in our biblical and rational reasons. We get that. But it's not that we DON'T have our biblical and rational reasons, or that we have not presented them to you. We have done so and you just disagree.

That is your prerogative. If we have not convinced you of the moral and righteousness of our position, then by all means, hang on to your own interpretations. But we DO have our reasons which have been offered ad infinitum. That you disagree is not proof that they don't exist, Marshall.

Geoffrey is right: At this point (and really, at NO point, at least for me) am I trying to "win" you over to believing my position. All I've done is say, "This truly IS my position, based on seeking God's will." You are always free to disagree.

You're just not free to say that it isn't my/our honest position. Well, of course, you're free to say that all you want, but it will never make it tru00

Marshall Art said...

Killing time before other duties call, I'll address comments of both Geoffrey and Dan and you two can decide when I'm speaking of either specifically.

"I do not state what I believe St. Paul "seems" to say. I repeat what he says."

"...one gets the sense..." is stating what you think he seems to be saying, not what he is saying. And you dare suggest you're not concerned with being "right" about anything.

"Because, you see, I don't care what you say."

Yet you continue to respond, and respond with more sophistry and ambiguity to avoid the issue.

"Not because I'm right and you're wrong. Because we just live by a different set of assumptions. Both of them flawed."

You're half right in two ways:

First, YOUR assumptions are indeed flawed or you wouldn't be so ambiguous and elusive in your arguments.

Secondly, mine are not "assumptions", but taken directly from Scripture itself. I stand by a clear "thou shalt not..." from Scripture continuing to await evidence, even of the circumstantial variety, that would tie your positions with the ballpark in which truth resides.

And here is where Dan contradicts fact and truth. He has NOT provided any such evidence that has not itself provoked questions that to this day go unanswered. And my general question continues to be totally ignored: How far can one stray from Scripture's teachings and still be worshiping the God of the Bible? And I haven't even demanded a strict and specific answer!

"I am always willing to change my mind, but not based on an entire way of living in the world I find unacceptable."

Another gaping difference between us. I don't concern myself with what I find unacceptable, for to do so would also contradict Scripture. I speak only of what Scripture proclaims to be unacceptable. I don't see how living according to Scripture (or trying to) can be unacceptable to you.

Gotta go. More later. So many questions, so few answers provided (read "none").

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

. . . and Art continues to believe that insisting he is right and I am wrong makes any difference whatsoever. Rather than consider what I have written, he wants to prove he has a bigger dick that I do.

Since you didn't respond to my plea to stop, I breathlessly await how you further prove yourself better, smarter, more holy, more righteous, more Biblical, more moral than any of us.

Marshall Art said...

". . . and Art continues to believe that insisting he is right and I am wrong makes any difference whatsoever."

Perfect defense for one who is wrong. Pretend being wrong makes no difference.

"Rather than consider what I have written, he wants to prove he has a bigger dick that I do."

Trust me. I'm not the least bit concerned with your genitalia, though why you'd be concerned that I am is weird. Feeling insecure?

I think it's pretty clear that I've indeed considered what you've written. I don't think much of it, obviously. It says nothing that is relevant to the discussion. I am fascinated that you think you are doing yourself any favors by letting the world shape the way you live in it, and then assume I must have done so as well. From my study of Scripture, I got the goofy impression that God's Will, clearly revealed therein, should guide how I live in the world. Silly me.

"Since you didn't respond to my plea to stop..."

Stop what? Stop speaking and seeking the truth? Not likely.

"...I breathlessly await how you further prove yourself better, smarter, more holy, more righteous, more Biblical, more moral than any of us."

I would never claim to be "better", even with all the rest likely more true than not. But I'll let you keep holding your breath. I've finished with holding mine while I await any proof or evidence in support of your claims.

Marshall Art said...

And now, back to the ballgame...

"I have no interest in the kind of thing you, and Bubba, seem to revel in - winning an argument."

Really, Geoff. You should have no fear of arrows or spears. You never get the point. We aren't about winning arguments. We seek to have our questions answered, not dodged or two-stepped or bored to death by your irrelevant references to church history. I'm expected to offer proofs, and when I do, as I have in recent posts, my verses are called worthless with no explanation why. You guys are frauds more concerned with preserving your facade of holiness in the midst of your support for sinful behavior than in truth or true Biblical understanding. Indeed, true Biblical understanding is antithetical to what the world tells you as far as how to live.

If you are convicted in your beliefs, I don't see how you guys can be so unsettled in discussing those beliefs. If you are so convicted, I can't understand how you are so unwilling to share those beliefs in a manner that withstands scrutiny.

Instead, you all fall to pieces under scrutiny, while I stand here unshaken. Why is that? Are you guys not the deeply educated Biblical scholars, teaching in Bible schools, learning in seminary, informed by Calvin, Wesley and a host of others? Somewhere in all that I would expect some means of expressing yourselves without the vitriol and evasion. I give Scripture and I get platitudes and unanswered questions. I should have used you three as examples in my post regarding lack of resolve!

"Dan's initial statement is correct for the simple reason that real people actually are faithful Christians and support same-sex marriage."

No. That real people who claim to be Christian while supporting "same-sex marriage" shows only that people are easily corrupted and in the case of so many, plainly in rebellion while trying to maintain the facade of being Christian. They are "christian" on their terms, not God's. THAT, little Geoffie, IS the point. The three of you fall into the latter category and especially so as you all claim to be so steeped in knowledge of the faith and its history. And again, if this were not so, why has it been impossible to get my questions answered? I God doesn't care, since you told me so, but don't YOU care to bring people like me into better understanding? I am open 24/7 for that very thing. Bring it. Why run and hide? Why pretend and cast aspersions? Where's the grace, the love, the kindness and walking humbly?

Moving more toward Dan's comments now...

Marshall Art said...

"What simply is not a possibility, though, is that I'm being dishonest on this point."

That's really a safer bet than any on your intelligence level. This is borne out by the lack of response to standing questions. They stand ignored as if never asked. This is purposeful evasion, also known as dishonesty. An honest person wouldn't pretend the questions were never asked.

"I've always told everyone who exactly I am, what exactly my background is and what my position actually is."

That's not what provokes a sense of your dishonesty. One can say anything about one's position without even having a reason for that position. But when attempting to elicit support for that position, only to procure statements that provoke more questions to which no answers are offered, dishonesty is the logical conclusion. You evade, you don't answer. You distract with questions based on things I've never said, suggested or implied. You're dishonest in defending the faith you claim to have by not explaining the disparity between how that faith is supposed to manifest and your poor example. I've been more than specific with the problems I see in your position. You've been far less than straightforward in addressing those problems.

"It's simply a fact that Dan Trabue, conservative and traditional..."

Conservative and traditional perhaps in the manner Fred Phelps is, but never as a truly conservative and traditional Christian is. And you have yet to demonstrate, indeed, you have NEVER demonstrated how Scripture leads you to your position. You are dishonest in saying it does or you could easily point to that which turned the tide for you. You use outside influence and eisegesis to arrive at your position and cannot provide anything that can prove otherwise. Again, if you have an argument from Scripture, I'm still waiting to hear it. Unlike Geoffrey, I feel an incredible desire to be as "right" as humanly possible as it concerns God and His Will. YOU claim it includes enabling what Scripture prohibits. When will you provide anything resembling proof of this?

"Over and over again, we have tried our darnedest to show you what biblical and rational reasons we have for our positions."

This task might go easier if you would address the questions your attempts provoke. You never do. Will you ever be up to the task of defending your beliefs?

"But it's not that we DON'T have our biblical and rational reasons, or that we have not presented them to you. We have done so and you just disagree."

I've NEVER "just disagreed". That's been YOUR trip, not mine. I've presented you with flaws, issues and/or problems with your "rational reasons" and you ignore them or hope to "agree to disagree" as if I'm capable of legally forcing compliance.

"You're just not free to say that it isn't my/our honest position."

Insisting it is your position doesn't make it an honest position. To say you are being honest because you insist it is your position is not what makes it a dishonest position. The fact that it is based on falsehoods is what makes it dishonest.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

This task might go easier if you would address the questions your attempts provoke. You never do.

For several years and tens of thousands of words, now, I have attempted to answer question after question, respond to misunderstanding after misunderstanding. I find it hard to believe that any question out there exists that I have not attempted to address. And it's off topic here, Marshall, but I'll tell you what I'll do: Give me ONE question that you think remains un-addressed.

If it actually IS unaddressed, I will apologize for missing it and give an answer.

The fact is, though, we've played this game for a long time, now. I've honestly tried to answer all questions as to my positions and still you think I'm somehow being dishonest. I doubt seriously my pointing out that I've already answered your question again (or, answering it, if it truly is an unanswered question) will change things.

It will remain, I'm sure, that you will likely cling to the illusion that I'm being dishonest, when it's just a matter that you are failing to understand my position instead of any dishonesty.

Dan Trabue said...

On the flip side, Marshall, I would hope that if I point out that the question HAS been answered, you'd be man enough to apologize and admit it. No mealy-mouth excuses like, "Well, I don't think it was much of an answer..." or anything like that.

Fair enough?

Marshall Art said...

Well, Dan, you could begin with the question I've asked repeatedly in this and the previous post. I'll let you find it and copy and paste it yourself. But as to the issue of homosexuality, if Lev 18:3 is referring to pagan ritualistic sex practices, as you insist when justifying your support of "monogamous, loving and committed" homosexual unions, then you must agree that the same goes for every other sexual prohibition from verse 6-24, don't you? That is, if a mother and her son are in a loving, committed and monogamous relationship (or a brother and sister, father and daughter, farmer and his goat,etc), then by golly they are just as entitled to governmental and societal acceptance as well, correct? If not, why not?

As I said in that earlier post, I have come across some who say no evidence exists that confirms pagan religious sexual practices existed among the Canaanites, but I don't hold to that other than to say there is equally no evidence to suggest that Leviticus is referring to that anyway. It simply says do not engage in the behaviors listed. Period.

There's so much more, much of it will be provoked, no doubt, by your response to this one issue. But as to whether any answer of yours will change things will depend upon that answer and whether it provokes other questions or not.

Marty said...

Craig, I'm not interested in going over this again and again here either....nor elsewhere. We've all beaten this horse to death.

I would like to clarify one thing however because of a couple of your comments. I do not support infidelity. I support faithful marriage and everyone should have access to it.

Marty said...

If a same-sex couple cannot avail themselves of marriage, then I find no wrong or sinfulness in them living together in a faithful committed relationship.

Marshall Art said...

Marty,

That's making your own rules and serving your own desires over the clearly revealed Will of God. NOT something for which you can find ANY Biblical support.

Craig said...

Marty,

"I do not support infidelity."

I never said you did.

"I support faithful marriage and everyone should have access to it."

You are welcome to your opinion.

"If a same-sex couple cannot avail themselves of marriage, then I find no wrong or sinfulness in them living together in a faithful committed relationship."

Again you are welcome to your opinion. Please don't suggest that this stance is supported by scripture. I'm stumped that you take offense at what you infer is my ability/desire to know the state of someones salvation, while having no problem establishing yourself as the arbiter of what is sinful.

As for me I'll leave who's saved as well as determining what is sinful to God.

Craig said...

Dan,

Here's an unanswered question.

In your opinion, can someone who denies the existence of God, denies the existence/deity of Christ, be a Christian?

A simple yes or no would be great.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Craig, can I answer the question you posed to Dan? St. Paul said that those that do the will of God, whether or not they know there is a God, is chosen by God.

It's in the Bible.

So the answer is, "Yes". Because whether they can call themselves "Christian", or others call them "Christian", they are doing the work God calls Christians to do.

Marty said...

Craig: "Again you are welcome to your opinion. Please don't suggest that this stance is supported by scripture."

Okay.

"I'm stumped that you take offense at what you infer is my ability/desire to know the state of someones salvation, while having no problem establishing yourself as the arbiter of what is sinful."

Point taken.

Marshall: "That's making your own rules and serving your own desires over the clearly revealed Will of God."

I'm sure you'll think this a rebellious attitude, but....I'm not gonna take your word on that.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Between NY passing marriage equality and a couple articles I found on-line, I wonder if anyone would be interested in moving the broader discussion - always on topic rather than whatever you think it should be or might be - over here. The light is always on and anyone is welcome.

Marshall Art said...

Geoffrey,

"Craig, can I answer the question you posed to Dan? St. Paul said that those that do the will of God, whether or not they know there is a God, is chosen by God."

OHHH! You missed the point again! Here's Craig's question:

"In your opinion, can someone who denies the existence of God, denies the existence/deity of Christ, be a Christian?"

One who denies is not one who "does not know". Is it that you just don't really read the comments of those with whom you disagree?

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Denying and not knowing - kind of the same thing.

Do you honestly think God cares whether or not we believe in God, beyond the Scriptural insistence that only a fool says there is no God?

God desires relationship with all of us. From creation through covenant to Christ and Church - that is what God wants. Those relationships include those where we are loved when we don't even know it.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

In one of his sermons on Romans, St. John Chrysostom used the image of God as a beggar, coming and pleading with us. That image has stuck with me since I first read it nearly 20 years ago as summing up what God has always been doing with us, with creation. God only wants us to love and honor God, and God never stops doing that, up to and including being in relationship with us even before we know God is, or when we deny God's existence.

That, again, is grace. In the Wesleyan tradition, it is known as prevenient grace, that grace that goes before us, creating the conditions through which we will come to understand our salvation by grace through faith (justifying grace) and in which we can then move on to perfection in love (sanctifying grace).

In 1 Peter it is written that God is patient, wanting ALL to come to salvation.

Even those fools who say there is no God.

Marty said...

"In your opinion, can someone who denies the existence of God, denies the existence/deity of Christ, be a Christian?"

I don't know. Perhaps it's possible.

I was telling a pastor of mine once about my best friend who is an Athiest. She has shown the love of Christ to me and God has even spoken to me through her. Her love and friendship have meant more to me than any Christian's and I let her know that and she in turn let me know that she finds strength through my faith. My friend has a lot of respect for Jesus, but not so much for the majority of those who call themselves "christian".

I asked my pastor how could this be that I've seen Christ in this Athiest friend of mine? She said "Your friend may not believe in God, but God believes in her."

What a wonderful lesson on grace my pastor gave me that day!

So I would say with God all things are possible.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

Here's an unanswered question.

In your opinion, can someone who denies the existence of God, denies the existence/deity of Christ, be a Christian?


It has been answered, Craig. Perhaps you have missed the several times I and others have answered it. Geoffrey gives a pretty good biblically based answer to the question.

Another passage in support of what Geoffrey seems to be saying is 1 Cor. 15...

since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

My answer would be different than his, though. My answer is: I don't know. I'm not God enough to know who is and isn't saved. The Bible is pretty clear that we will sometimes be surprised by who "makes it" and who doesn't.

So, I honestly don't know. If someone says they reject Jesus out and out, then I take them at their word and would not presume to tell them they're Christians.

That's my best answer, which has been offered before.

Marshall Art said...

"Do you honestly think God cares whether or not we believe in God, beyond the Scriptural insistence that only a fool says there is no God?"

Yes. Absolutely. Otherwise, He'd not have gone through the trouble of providing those pesky commandments:

Exodus 20:1-7

1 And God spake all these words, saying,

2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Note verse 6. Kinda seems as though loving Him is kinda important (not to mention that "keep my commandments" part).

To deny means one is forsaking what has been made known (regardless of the truth of it). To "not know" obviously means one DID NOT KNOW. Not even nearly the same thing.

"In 1 Peter it is written that God is patient, wanting ALL to come to salvation."

A similar sentiment is expressed in at least one other place in Scripture, neither one suggesting that all WILL come to salvation. Apparently you're a universalist.

Marshall Art said...

Marty,

I notice your pastor didn't mention that the chick was saved. But again, this "God believes in everyone", even if it makes sense to you, doesn't have following it that all WILL be saved.

Alan said...

With the passage of gay marriage in NY, 41% of people in this country live in an area that has laws to protect equality.

18-34 year-olds support marriage equity by 70%

And you straight white guys keep arguing.

After you're done with this argument, perhaps you could argue whether or not the Earth is flat, or about the existence of phlogiston.

Out of curiosity, Dan, would you entertain a discussion regarding whether or not black people are equal to whites at your blog? If so, why have you never done so.

If not, I wonder why you entertain discussions like this one.

Marshall Art said...

"So, I honestly don't know. If someone says they reject Jesus out and out, then I take them at their word and would not presume to tell them they're Christians."

I don't know what question you think you're answering, but it doesn't answer Craig's. He asked can they be a Christian without accepting God and/or the deity of Christ. IF you take them at their word, then there is no "presumption" in telling them they are NOT Christian. Are there no qualifications in your mind whatsoever regarding what constitutes being a Christian besides all the touchy-feely stuff on which you like to hang your hat? Do you disregard all of Scripture in favor of who is or isn't a nice guy as being the be all and end all of what it means to be Christian?

This is how your position provokes more questions, Dan. It is a matter of aligning what you say with what Scripture says and finding incredible gaps of reason. Just fill the gaps and all will be well. Right now, your answer suggests that grace covers even those who reject God and that their salvation is assured in spite of that rejection. Is this accurate?

Marshall Art said...

"18-34 year-olds support marriage equity by 70%"

That age-group accounts for the greatest exposure of the incessant and liberal media supported BS falsehoods that are spewed as part of the agenda that doesn't exist. The next generation is already being indoctrinated in a far more aggressive manner, so that without rational and thinking people continuing to counter the crap with truth, our cultural decline will be guaranteed.

"And you straight white guys keep arguing."

Trust me. Straight black guys argue even harder. They are insulted that homosexuals would dare try to compare themselves to blacks, as if blacks can stop being black if they wanted to. There are tons of stories of homosexuals leaving the lifestyle and none of blacks leaving the race.

"Out of curiosity, Dan, would you entertain a discussion regarding whether or not black people are equal to whites at your blog? If so, why have you never done so."

Because of the conservatives that visit here (I'm just guessing on this---Dan can correct me if I'm wrong), no one has ever suggested that skin color affects equality. By the same token, none of us have suggested that about homosexuals.

"With the passage of gay marriage in NY, 41% of people in this country live in an area that has laws to protect equality."

Nonsense. ALL states protect equality. It's just that not all states have redefined words to mean what they don't in order to grant victimhood status on homosexuals. In that case, you're still only looking at a total area of only about 11.4% of the total population, unless your including the states with "civil union" laws. If so, then you are perpetuating a different kind of lie or admitting the lie the rest of us knew all along, that "civil unions" were indeed no different than "gay marriage" laws. But then, lies are what has moved this abomination along as far as it has gotten. Why stop now?

Alan said...

Like I said....

Right on cue, MA. Thanks for proving my point.

But then, I knew you would. You just can't help yourself.

Craig's Build said...

Just to clarify.

GKS says someone who denies the existence of God is a fool, but might be a Christian.

Marty, says someone who denies the existence of God might possibly be e Christian. (note I do not suggest that such a person could not become a Christian, I just question whether it is possible to hold those beliefs and be a Christian at the same time.)

Dan, after taking a quick journey through some mild universalism comes back to "I'll take them at their word.

So, I'll try this, suppose this person claims to be a Christian while denying the existence of God?

For the record this question is more about how widely you all are willing to define Christianity than any desire on my part to include or exclude anyone.

Alan said...

"For the record this question is more about how widely you all are willing to define Christianity..."

In other words, if you don't give the correct answer to this question, Craig will assume you're not a Christian.

It's just a game played with matryoshka dolls.

Marty said...

Craig: "So, I'll try this, suppose this person claims to be a Christian while denying the existence of God?"

All the people I know who deny the existence of God do not claim to be Christians. In fact, most of them have disdain for Christians. So, I don't think such a person exists.

Marty said...

Alan: "In other words, if you don't give the correct answer to this question, Craig will assume you're not a Christian."

Yep.

Marshall Art said...

"Right on cue, MA. Thanks for proving my point."

You don't have a point, Alan. Just a hateful compulsion to denigrate those who oppose your false position. You can't help YOURself.

"But then, I knew you would. You just can't help yourself."

Conversely, what I'm doing is countering falsehoods in a public forum. It's my calling. You keep supplying the crap, and I'll continue to correct it. Go ahead and test the claim. Say something truthful and I'll agree with it. But you can't and won't because you just can't help yourself.

"In other words, if you don't give the correct answer to this question, Craig will assume you're not a Christian."

Why would he have to? Your answers will confirm it for your actions do tell the tale. What you believe is either Christian or it isn't. Nothing Craig says could affect what someone calls himself. More importantly, however, he clearly states his intention is to have clarified what DAN (and the rest of you) believe. That hatred of yours is about a clarifying as any answer Craig will receive.

Marshall Art said...

Marty,

"All the people I know who deny the existence of God do not claim to be Christians."

Rather than simply cheerleading for Alan's BS, why not pay attention? Craig's question is similar to mine regarding how far astray can one's beliefs be from Scriptural teaching and still be worshiping the same God. It's the logical extreme of the positions held by Dan and the rest of you, with the heretical position on homosexual behavior being the most blatant. It is completely counter to Scripture (which differences over baptism do not parallel in the least). How many things can be so opposite Scripture and still be covered by the universalist opinions of Dan's illustrated by his vague "grace alone" position? Are you so enamored with Alan's immaturity that you wish to mirror it in your own comments? The question of Craig's (and mine) present a hypothetical. Must you be so insipid by stating you don't know anyone that matches the hypothetical?

Alan said...

Thanks, MA. I'm sure we were all mystified as to how you'd respond. I mean, there's surely no way after years of reading the same crap from you day after day after day that we could ever possibly predict that you would simply repeat yourself for the 18 zillionth time. ;)

Jump, MA! Jump!

Alan said...

"You can't help YOURself."

And, as always, the brilliance of your typical "I know you are, but what am I?" comebacks is truly incredible.

Jump, MA!

Dan Trabue said...

Tell you what, friends: We're already at 150 comments, most of which are off topic. For the most part, we have settled the actual point of this post: We ARE saved by grace alone, not grace and a belief that marriage equity is wrong. That point is (with perhaps one or two exceptions) agreed upon by left and right, here.

So, why don't we let me finish answering a couple of the off-topic questions and then move on. Or, if you really want to keep discussing marriage equity, why not accept Geoffrey's invitation to take it up on his blog?

Marshall Art said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Marshall Art said...

Nothing has been settled yet, Dan. You haven't answered any questions yet. That is, you haven't answered any in a manner that is directly related to the question asked.

Indeed, the questions being asked go directly to the point of the post. The answers will help to clarify your position so as to ascertain whether or not one can agree with you. Thus, there is no agreement yet because the phrase "saved by grace alone" is not so cut and dried as you seem to want to make it. To state it yet again, your (meaning all who think like you, each offering different ways of saying the same thing) position allows for absolutely any behavior and/or belief under the sun, including, if Craig's question is actually answered in a way we fear, the actual rejection of God. NOTHING, by the way you state it, will prevent salvation because of grace. This is not orthodoxy in the least, but a bastardization of the spirit of the words, unless you have more to add in terms of clarification.

What Alan regards as "I know you are but what am I?" is in truth a case of me pointing out how he is engaging in the very behavior of which he accuses me. I, on the other hand, am not. I'm simply engaging in conversation and debate.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Craig, my wife serves in the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church. When we moved here in 1999, the bishop overseeing the Episcopal area was C. Joseph Sprague, a converted Evangelical Quaker from Ohio. Toward the end of his tenure, Bishop Sprague wrote a short work that included his own confession of faith.

Joe denied the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead (noting, for the record, that Friedrich Schleiermacher did the same thing, as did Ernst Troeltsch and Paul Tillich), personal or social eschatology (no afterlife, no final consummation), and other matters that many believe are hallmarks of orthodox Christian belief. With his roots in Friends thought, however, these rejections make sense (obviously, like Friends, he had no truck with the Trinity; Quakers are non-Trinitarian). Furthermore, while denying any "divine" nature in the historical person Jesus of Nazareth, Sprague never denies the uniqueness of Christ, the efficacy of his sacrifice, the reality of God, or the need for personal and social transformation in the face of evil and sin.

Sprague was a Christian in the same way most Friends are Christian, most Unitarian Universalists are Christian, many adherents to traditional liberal theology are Christian. It isn't orthodox because it doesn't adhere to traditional formulae. It is faithful because it is answering the call of God as they understand it, and following regardless of cost.

Craig said...

"All the people I know who deny the existence of God do not claim to be Christians."

Great, but there are some who both claim to be Christian yet deny God. I am fascinated by this dichotomy. It makes no sense to me, so I wonder what others think.

Again, i have no say in who is a Christian or who's not. Nor do I wish to. Y'all are free to believe otherwise if you wish.

Craig said...

Dan,

Unless I get a specific question I'll respect your wishes and move on. I did have some questions that I e mailed you that I'd appreciate a response to, but otherwise I'm done.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig, I think we ALL recognize that you have no say in who's saved or not, salvation is a gift of God, not Craig. We don't think you think otherwise.

The problem is this whole pronouncing of who's saved and not that many on the religious right engage upon, and those pronouncements often being based upon mere disagreements over some behavior.

Marty/others, Craig is saying he's familiar with (I presume) self-professed Christians who reject God's or Jesus' deity. Craig, I have to wonder in what sense they consider themselves Christians, if they don't believe in God? Are they saying that they just dig Jesus' teachings?

But then, if they reject Jesus "Christ-ness," then it doesn't seem that THEY would believe that they're "Christ-ians," but maybe "Jesus-ians..."?

If so, well, that certainly would be an apt place to begin one's Christian walk, it seems to me.

Either way, my answer remains, I don't know. I'm not God enough to know who's in and who's out.

I WILL tell you that I worry much less about the person in love with Jesus and His Way who doesn't accept Jesus' "Christ-ness" than the person who accepts Jesus as Christ who seems to have a much harder time with the teachings of grace and love.

And in either case, I don't know if they are Christians or not, but have no real biblical reason to doubt it (again, just look at the biblical measures of what being a Christian "looks" like - "BY THIS SHALL ALL HUMANITY KNOW YOU ARE MY DISCIPLES: IF YOU LOVE ONE ANOTHER.").

Marshall Art said...

Dan, the artful dodger.

"Marshall Art. Do you think that we are saved by grace?"

"Well, Dan. My boots are wet from the snow."

"Answer my question."

"I just did."

"When?"

"Just now."

"No you didn't. That's not what I asked."

"So just because you didn't like my answer, it doesn't mean that I didn't answer you. Don't lie like that. Man up!"

-----------------

can someone who denies the existence of God, denies the existence/deity of Christ, be a Christian?

Dan responds, "I don't know."

If you don't know, then how can you know that all are saved by grace? And by the way, the question doesn't ask who is saved, but who is a Christian.

Anyone who cannot see a problem with someone who proclaims himself a Christian while denying Christ's divinity needs to seek counseling. Perhaps a visit to a bone specialist for a spine is in order. Anyone who denies the bodily resurrection of Christ is not a Christian. Anyone who teaches that which is in clear conflict with Scriptural teaching is not a Christian. One cannot go around teaching crap and call it pudding.

But I digress.

"I don't know" is no answer. It's not acceptable. It is a dodge. No one is asking what God thinks, but what you believe about what He is likely thinking. That in no way suggests you are speaking for Him since the question requires you to speak for yourself.

I have absolutely no problem in saying that "saved by grace alone" is not only incomplete, but even by itself requires certain understandings. Otherwise it means anything goes, which, by your lame verse offerings suggests you don't believe that for a minute.

"BY THIS SHALL ALL HUMANITY KNOW YOU ARE MY DISCIPLES: IF YOU LOVE ONE ANOTHER."

How does that answer the question, Dan? As I suggested, it provokes more questions (none of which stray from the topic "Is Grace Enough?"). HOW should one love another? Sexually? Blow them kisses? Help them move? What does Jesus mean by that exactly? Should we tolerate sexually immoral behavior? Should we tolerate ANY bad behavior? That answer is a dodge of the sort that provokes accusations of dishonesty, because it IS dishonest.

Indeed, it is at the core of my position with you and your cohorts that it is YOU who has the problem with grace and love. When an understanding of grace leads to stupidity like "God doesn't care" in response to concerns about sexual immorality, it is clear that you guys have a major problem getting the concept of grace and how it works.

Marshall Art said...

Notice your many excerpts in your recent comments. Notice what you highlight and what you don't. This is typical. You fail to stand up to scrutiny and resort to accusing me (or us) of "speaking evil" of all things. That's Alan. I'm not even trying to engage in any arguing. I'm trying to get answers. Clear, honest and direct answers to clear, honest and direct questions. All I get is this touchy-feely crap as if you've made a point. Stop dodging. Fight your fear.

For His sake, Dan. I haven't concerned myself with mere words, but with the truth that is plainly and clearly revealed. The parsing is coming from you and yours. Take your own advice on that score.

Given the totality of what the Bible has to say, you have no room to say "I don't know" after all that crap about prayerful study and meditation using the reason God gave you. "I don't know" should never be an answer. Given the totality of what the Bible has to say, I can say with certainty that your understanding of salvation through grace is incredibly skewed.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall, I'm done arguing over many words and playing in to your dissension. You appear to have all the answers and "I don't know" is never an acceptable answer to you. Good for you.

The rest of us mortals don't always know everything. Regardless, the Bible is quite clear that pointless and aimless arguing over petty words is not of the Kingdom of God and, that being the case, I'm going to try to comply with those teachings and bid you peace. I've tried to answer your questions, you aren't satisfied.

If you're not satisfied with my answers, don't accept them. But they will remain my answers for the exact reason that I find your answers so whimsical and culturally-based, not logically or biblically based.

Go with God.

Craig said...

Dan,

Marshall does make a good point regarding the distinction between someone who is saved and someone being a Christian. While we certainly don't have any insight into someones salvation, it does seem that the term Christian has a definition and the we should be able to develop an opinion about whether someone fits within that definition. We can debate what the definition and how wide to draw the boundary, but at some point we can certainly form an opinion on where people stand.

If you noticed how I phrased the question, it was "In your opinion..." for that specific reason.

Anyway, I'm out again. I haven't checked my e-mail, so if you have time to address those questions I'd appreciate it.

Dan Trabue said...

To answer (again) your question, Marshall...

if Lev 18:3 is referring to pagan ritualistic sex practices, as you insist when justifying your support of "monogamous, loving and committed" homosexual unions, then you must agree that the same goes for every other sexual prohibition from verse 6-24, don't you? T

1. We all agree that one can accept a single passage or phrase from the Bible (or any text, really) as being a reliable truth applicable for all time WITHOUT accepting ALL the surrounding text.

2. You do this with the very same text: You say that "men should not lay with men" (which according to your hunch means "all homosexual practices are bad") IS an eternal truth, but the VERY NEXT LINE ("kill 'em"), is NOT an eternal truth.

3. That's okay, we ALL recognize that not every line in the Bible contains universal moral truths.

4. I'll go further and point out the obvious reality that NO PASSAGES in the OT, in and of itself, should be taken - by itself - as a universal truth, as a moral teaching for all times.

5. Instead, we MUST use our God-given reasoning (just as you do when you set aside "kill 'em" as not being a universal teaching) and the context of the whole Bible - and specifically, the teachings of Jesus - to discern universal and non-universal teachings in the OT.

6. So, USING THE BIBLE AS A WHOLE and using our God-given reasoning, we can set aside bestiality NOT MERELY because it was condemned in the OT once, but because it is self-evidently a harmful, wrong thing. The "beast" in question would not be giving its consent, it's a non-consensual, harmful, abusive relationship. FOR THESE REASONS, we can see that, EVEN IF the bestiality condemned in Leviticus was in the context of pagan worship (and by the way, I learned that "pagan worship" stuff from traditional, conservative preachers and teachers long before I ever heard a liberal point it out), it's still wrong.

7. On the other hand, there is NOTHING self-evidently wrong with two adults (gay or straight) committing to one another in mutual love and respect in a marriage relationship. Further, there is NOTHING in the Bible that would condemn such a relationship. It's just not there.

8. So, having NO rational reason, NO moral reason and NO biblical reason to oppose marriage equity, AND having plenty of rational and moral reasons to support it, we do.

9. Thus answering your question (AGAIN) as to WHY we can look at the apparent pagan practices found condemned in Leviticus in that culture long ago and recognize that some of the condemnations are universal (bestiality) and some condemnations are not (cutting your hair a certain way, shrimp, etc).

Now that it has been explained to you again, I would hope you'd man up, thank me for repeating the explanation, apologize for the false suggestion that the question had NOT been answered and move on. It's the moral, Christian, human thing to do, brother.

Man up.

Or at least, move on.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

Marshall does make a good point regarding the distinction between someone who is saved and someone being a Christian.

You see a distinction between someone being saved by Christ's grace and being a Christian? Do you suspect that there is a subset of "the saved" who are not "Christians?"

Craig...

If you noticed how I phrased the question, it was "In your opinion..." for that specific reason.

I'll repeat my "in my opinion" answer...

I honestly don't know. If someone says they reject Jesus out and out, then I take them at their word and would not presume to tell them they're Christians.

To which, I could add...

If someone rejects traditional orthodox Christian essentials (God is God, Jesus is God, Jesus raised from the dead...), but still dig Jesus' teachings - just not orthodox Christian teachings - then they are clearly not orthodox Christians. As a follower of the "Christ," though, I'm not willing to say they are not "Christ-ians," I see no need to. For me, it suffices to say they do not hold orthodox Christian beliefs.

In the end, it is MY OPINION that I like Jesus' answer to a similar question...

Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”

“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.


"Certainly won't lose their reward" sounds like a pretty positive affirmation of someone's salvation (and if you want to separate salvation out from "orthodox Christian" or simply "Christian," you are free to do so - I see no need to do so, in my opinion.)

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

Thanks for proving my point about dishonest evasiveness. You are indeed the king in that regard.

AND, as I suggested, your answer does indeed provoke more questions and it is those questions that remain unanswered. You've thus far repeated what provokes those unanswered questions, so I'll repeat the gaping holes once again.

1. This isn't necessarily untrue, but the dishonesty comes by virtue of the fact that the one verse YOU isolate comes from a list that must be taken into account if you're going to grant exceptions to your chosen verse.

2. Chapter 18 does not speak of punishments for ignoring the commandments found therein. That comes in Chapter 22, I believe. What's more, as any mature adult will readily admit, the punishment does have anything to do with the "wrongness" of the behavior. The "wrongness" is determined first (by God) and the punishment applied after. We've changed sentencing guidelines in civil society many times in human history without pretending the behavior attached to it is no longer wrong (unless in a specific instance it was so determined). Thus, the presence or absence of a punishment in Scripture, or our application of it thousands of years later, have nothing to do with whether or not the behavior is to be considered sinful. How childish.

3. We don't ALL recognize the authority to determine what God ordained as sinful no longer is because of how WE do it. We don't all possess that audacity.

4. Then you fail as a Christian to truly be devoted to Christ and His teachings. Paul speaks of the law as our guide for understanding what is and isn't sin. It is crystal clear that HE recognizes the OT Laws as THE moral teaching for all times.

5. But you don't. You cherry-pick all the touchy-feely stuff so as to relieve you of abiding teachings that cramp the style of others who pretend to be devoted by acting all "touchy-feely". BTW, "kill 'em" is indeed a universal teaching in the sense that it illustrates just how serious God was about all those behaviors that carried a capital punishment. It was a real world, here-and-now demonstration of the notion that the wages of sin is death. I can only imagine how much worse for those who pretend as if God was just kidding.

6. Not that I care to get into THIS particular argument, but just how is sex with animals a harmful and wrong thing? If one isn't doing it in the manner of the Canaanites, who are you to say it is? Dogs humping the legs of people is so common as to be a source of comedy in TV and movies. Not having personal experience in the realm of bestiality, how do you know animals are harmed by the practice? Or people? What if protection is used? Do you believe that animals are embarrassed or feel sexually abused? Once again, we can see that the notion of harm is a subjective issue. (By the way, did you ever ask those "conservative" preachers for evidence that pagan religious rituals included sex or that homosexuality was ONLY practiced in such contexts? I doubt it.)

Marshall Art said...

7. Yes there is. God calls it an abomination. Not the context in which it is engaged, but the behavior itself. You have NEVER shown otherwise. Another as yet unanswered question. Dodger.

8. Take everything in this point and say the opposite and then you'll be speaking honestly and truthfully. Saying you have reasons don't make the reasons "reasonable" or supportable by Scripture. The many questions your "reasons" provoke can only mean there are problems with that reasoning and until you can answer to all of them, you'll have to default to the lame "I don't know", or "I don't buy it" or any of the other evasive responses you continue to use.

9. You have only answered as far as you have in the past. In that respect, I would have to "man up" if that was what I considered unanswered. But your answer is incomplete without addressing that which your "answer" provokes. An incomplete answer is no answer at all. At best, it is only the start. Indeed, you haven't really answered the question posed here as you haven't shown how your notion of 'universal truths' and such applies as it might to verse 22 and not to the other prohibitions. You're simply stating an opinion about them but not supplying anything Scriptural to support that opinion. Said in another way, I have stated what Chapter 18 teaches and you haven't given any substantive reasons why my explanation is wrong or misguided. Stating that not every verse in the OT contains a universal truth is idiotic in its irrelevance. But more to the point, you haven't demonstrated why any of those prohibitions are speaking of ANY context in which they might be practiced, to say nothing of pagan religious rituals. Verse 3 simply says don't do as the Canaanites do. Therein lies the question you've NEVER answered.

So while you continue to dodge, while you continue to preach that which is immoral, I don't feel compelled to agree that "manning up" is the moral thing to do, since you won't yourself.

Craig said...

"You see a distinction between someone being saved by Christ's grace and being a Christian? Do you suspect that there is a subset of "the saved" who are not "Christians?""

Yes, I would start with those Hebrew/Jewish folks we hear about in place like Hebrews 11. I would include the thief crucified next to Jesus. I would include infants who die. You hear stories about missionaries (don't know if they are true or not) who come across a tribe hidden in the jungle who worship the creator, I would suggest that these could be saved without being a Christian. So, yes I guess I do see a subset of those who are saved, but not Christian. I could be wrong, and I won't die on this hill, but I think so.

So it seems as though you are saying several things here.

1. Are you willing to accept anyone who says they are a Christian as saved regardless of their words or actions?

2. Are you assuming that the disciples were upset because this guy was not a believer? Or simply because he wasn't in what they perceived as the right group?

3. I am unaware of anyone doing miracles in Jesus name while badmouthing Him at the same time. Most folks who I have heard deny any possibilities of miracles. So, I'm not sure how this passage applies to the current situation.

4. If you break down the last sentence a couple of questions arise that seem to conflict with things you have stated earlier.

a. Are you now suggesting that giving the disciples a cup of water is sufficient for salvation?

b. This quite clearly seems to go against your earlier stated premise that one can lose salvation.


Anyway, I think we're done here. I'll check my e mail to see if you've responded.

Craig said...

Dan

" if someone who says they are saved by God's grace through faith in Jesus, the son of God disagrees with me on the notion of killing our enemies... "

You're right we're not talking about someone who disagees with you on killing or on things that aren't mentioned in the Bible. We're talking about folks who clim to e Christians yet deny what they claim to follow. So it sounds to me like you are willing to accept at their word someone who claims faith in something they deny.

"Do you think that anyone who is not against Christ is for Christ?"

I'm not totally sure what you mean. If you are suggesting that anyone who is not an active atheist or activly involved in another riligion hostlie to Christ is saved. I'm not sure. I would argue from a Calvinist perspective that would say that God chooses those He will save and that it is possible that he could save someone in this category. However given the passages that suggest that in our fallen condition we all sin and are hostile to Christ I have a hard time accepting your interpretation of this.

"Do you think that ANYONE (Jesus' word) who gives a cup of cold water in Jesus' name will not lose their reward?"

I'll answer this a couple of ways.

To suggest that all one has to do to earn this reward is say "here's a cup of cold water in Jesus name.", Seems to be heading into the realm of salvation by works.

To suggest that the reward spoken of is necessarily a "good" reward or is salvation seems to be reading into the verse more than is there.

If this is a case of a believer doing a good work and recieving a reward (as when they talk about recieving crowns in heaven), which will not be taken away then It seems to make some sense.

So as I said earlier it would depend on how you define the term reward, and if you consider the reward to be salvation, or something else.

Your respone to my question about losing salvation seems completely divorced from the question.

If you are equating the term "reward" with salvation, then it is clear that salvation cannot be lost.

Further, if (as you have suggested elsewhere) salvation can be lost, does this not place human will over God's grace?

Craig said...

Haven't checked my e mail, if you'd like we can continue there if there is more.