Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Nominalism

I am not introducing a discussion of nominalism as a philosophic claim, or the variety of usages in scientific fields, but only as it attaches itself to valued realities which occur in groups. These valued realities have names but often the value is claimed by having the name only.
In political circles, a RINO ("Republican In Name Only") is a negative description. (Could there be a positive nominalism anywhere?)
How would one create nominalism?
It quite easy in fact. You become convinced or convince another that certain acts or claims attain to an actuality so named when, in fact, they do not. You or they, (and the more "they" the better for that helps convince all that the life of the fake is the life of the real) live and insist that you enjoy the complete claims of the real. Those who are the real are told they are not being sufficiently ecumenical (Christians) and are dividing the party (Republicans).
A question:
How, if one wanted to, would you go about creating a nominal Republican/Christian?
I mean if you intended to do it.
1] Get them to register as a member, going through whatever rites are normative.
2] Have them go to the expected meetings.
3] Encourage them to speak in the the special terms current in the party.
4] Invoke the past heroes of said party.
5] Express shock and offense if any suggest the above is insufficient.

Would such a nefarious plot be any different than what you are doing now?
Republicans tolerate the RINOs because they want the gains a broader party will bring. In a sense this is the "positive" nominalism that I wondered if possible earlier. But an actual, ideological Republican feels so dirty when someone calls Senator Arlen Specter a Republican.

When you think that a real Christian is one who has passed from death to life at the end of a repentant road by giving their will up on the altar of Christ's great sacrifice, don't you feel just as dirty when you look at the local Christian school or youth group or congregation of evangelicals and call the whole motley crew Christians? Walk the aisle, baptize the baby, sign the card, and even attend a concert or go on a youth mission trip. Everybody will start calling you a Christian regardless of how dark your life is. We so desperately want to count these patent unbelievers as on our team, we shore up the great magics of nominalization. We think that nominal is the Christian marijuana. It is the entry drug. The entry from fake to real, some believe, is a seamless transition, like taking more of the drug. Will it be because they have such fun faking the Christian life that they will want to have the greater fun of a real Christian life? With drugs, a little bit of the real thing is the real thing. The marijuana gets you stoned and heroin gets you more stoned. Nominalism has none of the real but the name.

I remember in high school some dopers trying to sell (successfully) chopped up maple leaves in a baggie into which they had blown marijuana smoke. It was no entry drug. No one got stoned. But what if the deceived thought he had as good as it got? His claims of how ripped he became would be the laugh of the true doping contingent. And the dopers would make easy money off the abundance of maple trees hereabouts. Pretty soon, most of the dopers would be nominal "dopers", and the real experience of being high would be lost in the social cult of maple leaf smoking dorks.

The transition from this nominalism, this Christianity for dorks, this unimpressive fake, is not seamless nor is it merely an enjoyed step deeper. A fake Christian must come to know the damnable state of the fake Christian, the blasphemy of its claims, the apostasy of a Gospel which brought them "in" without belief in the work of Jesus Christ for their sins? He must say "I've been smoking maple leaves because someone who looked like they knew what was going on told me that the smell of the real made it real." Will they become a real Christian at last, like all who are real Christians became them, by repenting, believing, and calling on the name of the Lord?

Romans 2:17-28
But if you call yourself a Jew and rely upon the law and boast of your relation to God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed in the law, and if you are sure that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth -- you then who teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? For, as it is written, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law; but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For he is not a real Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart, spiritual and not literal. His praise is not from men but from God.

19 comments:

Matthew N. Petersen said...

I think I mostly agree, but I have two closely related objections. And this is not objections against how you act, but against some of your thoughts here.

You tell us to not seek to include those who are only externally Christians, with uncircumcised hearts as Christians. But this leads to two (closely related) questions.

First, most people at almost all phases in their lives are not perfect Christians. Therefore, looking at one part of their lives, we see terrible vice, and likewise heroic virtue. One man loves Christ, seeks him, but often falls prey to a particular sin. Is he a Christian? Must I, looking at that sin, say (rightly) it is as black as the world's sin, therefore he isn't a Christian? You say "but he regularly repents." But what if he doesn't? What if he either is blind to the sin, or is like David between his seduction of Bathsheeba and his rebuke by Nathan? Should we judge "Christian", "Non-Christian" every time we see someone in sin? If the sin isn't repented of quick enough? If so, how long do we wait? Five minutes? a day? A week? A month?

The second objection is like unto it. How do I know I am a Christian? Do look to my own extreme virtue and recognize that I have indeed been brought to life? Do I look to my own keeping of the commands, and recognize that "yep, I measure up"? (This is an allusion to I John.) Or do I look at the fact that I am terribly proud, envious, wrathful, slothful, and avericous, and really haven't conquered gluttony and lust, and despair? Very well, whenever I actually sin, and am aware of it, I confess it. But I am not really any lighter than the next pagan. Like I said, pick a deadly sin, yep, I'm guilty. And in knowledge of my sin, how do I know Jack's isn't just more visible than mine? How do I keep my positive judgment of myself and negative judgment of someone else's from being nothing but pride.

In short, it seems we should look to something Christ does to determine if we are Christians, not to our sin. We all are guilty (now) of terrible vice. If the standard is applied fully no one, litterally, is saved. And if some leniency is made, many many true Christians are condemned (Christians blind to sin, or backsliding etc.). Christ is still saving them! We must look to something Christ has done (and not some work they produce for Christ may just not have born that fruit in them yet.) Should we look to an internal conversion experience? But they can deceive. And we cannot see it in others. Should we look to joy? But that can flag "My God my God, why have you forsaken me!" And we cannot see it in others.

Jeff Moss said...

Evan,

I'm not so sure you can let "nominal" Christians off as easily as that.

According to Philippians 3:20, Christianity is a citizenship, a politeuma. It is, in fact, citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven--whether the citizens like it or not. That's why the Apostle exhorts the members of the Philippian church two chapters earlier, in 1:27, to "perform your civic duties (politeuesthe) worthily of the Gospel of Christ."

When U.S. citizens fight for the Taliban or burn national flags in protest, or otherwise do things unworthy of their citizenship, it's not at all helpful to wave off their behavior by saying, "They never were REAL Americans anyway." Of course they're Americans--that's why this behavior is so shocking. We don't bat an eye when Pakistanis join the Taliban to fight America, or when disgruntled Palestinians burn an American flag.

It is God's job to separate the wheat from the tares at the end of the age. In the meanwhile, it is our duty to call all Christians, all citizens of the Kingdom, to repentance and faithfulness.

The Oracle said...

Matt,
I think those are worthwhile points to make. I, though I took awhile, believe they should have Biblical answers.
First, our ability to claim a relationship with the Lord is based on righteousness. Note I said "claim". While I believe a Christian can sin and that a Christian cannot lose his salvation, I do believe the Scriptures encourage him to lose his assurance.
I John 1:6-7
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
I John 2:1-3
My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
I John 5:18
We know that any one born of God does not sin, but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.
If I see a claimant to Christianity who is in sin and unrepentant, both I and he should doubt his salvation. His conviction and repentance is the negative proof that he cares for righteousness and his heart is unnaturally engaged in it. We did not enter Christ by good works nor do we exit Him with bad but since the faith is a flight form the effects of sin, the man of faith has that deeply seated in his heart and mind along with the the presence of the Holy Spirit. As James says, "Show me your faith apart from works and I, by my works , will show you my faith."
Second
Yes, look at your righteousness and look at your sin. In the light can claim a relationship with God but negatively, even conviction and our response can give us assurance.
I John 3:19-21
By this we shall know that we are of the truth, and reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God;

Certainly God is lenient and merciful but His salvation is about righteousness, presenting us "holy and blameless before Him" If we are of faith, whether we are good or bad, we have the reaction of someone who is about holiness, either by rejoicing in righteousness or repenting of sin to restore that righteousness.

And Jeff,
I agree fully with your last point. Drawing fine lines to separate the wheat from the tares is beyond us. But we are told that we are not to even sit down to eat with one who bears the name of brother who is unrepentant of gross immorality. We are told to watch for antichrists and false teachers. We are not citizens of Heaven because we were born there. We only become citizens of Heaven by faith in the grace of God for the forgiveness of sins by the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those that claim citizenship and deny that they were born from above are not citizens. It is like claiming to be an American when you were not born here nor were you naturalized.
I John 4:1-3
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already.
and
I JOhn 2:3-6
And by this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He who says "I know him" but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: he who says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

Matthew N. Petersen said...

Uh...are you implying that I would answer these questions unbiblically? It would be a bit more charitable to say "This is how I read the Scriptures." Do people who read the Scriptures otherwise have no point? If I believe Christ joins all types of men to Him, not just ones who believe, if I believe Christ joins people to Himself through his act, not mine, perhaps I'm wrong, but to so strongly assume I'm being unbiblical is rather uncharitable.

Jeff Moss said...

But we are told that we are not to even sit down to eat with one who bears the name of brother who is unrepentant of gross immorality. We are told to watch for antichrists and false teachers.

That is exactly what I was getting at in my comment. It's all right to eat with sinners who make no claim to be Christian, but it's not all right to eat with false brothers. Why the difference? Because there is a sense in which these people are really Christians and are known as such, but also a sense in which their flagrant rebellion against God gives the lie to their claim to be His. Until this deadly contradiction is resolved, there are likely to be dangerous consequences for all concerned.

Every one of us who is a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven is a citizen by both birth and naturalization. The naturalization is our adoption as children of God, as it is written, "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace." The birth is our regeneration as members of the family of God, as He says, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit." Both the adoption and the birth are the work of God, not our work. They are accomplished by the Spirit of God through the washing of water for regeneration, as it is written, "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body," and as Christ also says, "Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God."

Yet not all who are washed, who receive the mark of belonging to the Kingdom, are faithful to this calling. Scripture rebukes such ungodly hypocrites with these words: "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."

So all who are baptized into Christ Jesus are born again to citizenship in the Kingdom of God. But not all who are now in the Kingdom will receive it as their inheritance on the last day, as it is written, "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God." Again, as our Lord has said, "Many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Now then, Scripture says, "Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord. And again, 'The LORD will judge His people.'"

Therefore I believe that there is a judgment of the people of the Kingdom of God, in which He separates the wicked from the righteous among His own children. Do you believe this?

Jeff Moss said...

The kingdom of heaven is often presented in the teachings of our Lord Jesus as a place whose citizens differ greatly among themselves in the most important qualities:

Matthew 13:47-50 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth."

Matthew 18:23-35 "Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.... Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, 'Pay me what you owe!'... Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?' And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses."

Matthew 20:1-16 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.... But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, saying, 'These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.' But he answered one of them and said, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?' So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen."

Matthew 22:2-14 "The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding.... So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' For many are called, but few are chosen."

The Oracle said...

Jeff,
When you say “Because there is a sense in which these people are really Christians” you beg the question. The text says “bears the name of brother” which leaves the question open. The alienation from the body of the saints either will prove they are brothers by initiating repentance or successfully distancing them from those they claim to be. Godliness is definitional to the people of God and, as Christ says “"The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, `Lo, here it is!' or `There!' for behold, the kingdom of God is within you.", and St. Paul “Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.”

I agree with you that we are both adopted and born and that they are accomplished by God. But when you say “through the washing of water for regeneration”, you have added what you assume is our baptism into one body. The baptism John the Baptist prophesied would come from Christ was that of the Holy Spirit (as made distinct from John’s of water) and, as the quote above from Romans tells you, that to belong to Christ you must have that Holy Spirit. If you valued the baptism of the Holy Spirit more than that of water, you would see that first as the unifying baptism of all believers when you quote, "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” Why do you not see that first, given you have a choice of baptisms in the Scripture?
Then you quote:
"Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." missing or ignoring the subsequent verse which sets up a parallel “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

When you quote Romans 6 you once again presume that it is water baptism. And you want it to wash (giving you explanatory power for the unsaved in the church) but not kill, and bury, and raise. If this is water baptism, it accomplishes this as well. Are you ready to say that?
"Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."

And you say:
“So all who are baptized into Christ Jesus are born again to citizenship in the Kingdom of God.
And I agree but I suspect I mean an entirely different baptism into Christ, being born again, and the nature of the Kingdom of God.
John 1:12-13
“But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
and perhaps you are familiar with John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

You lowered the entry standards of the Kingdom. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”

Finally, in your quotation of Hebrews 10
I believe there is a judgment of the people of God but unto purgation not damnation. Our glorification is determined. See Romans 8
I refer you to I Corinthians 3:11-15
“For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw -- each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”

Matthew N. Petersen said...

You lowered the entry standards of the Kingdom. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”

Evan, this quote doesn't make any sense comming from you. You deny original sin!

And anyway, it proves more than it means to. Was God not pleased with the infant Christ?

The Oracle said...

Don't worry Matt, it is from the Bible. They denied original sin too.

Jeff Moss said...

Evan,

Thank you for your detailed responses. Here are several more comments and questions:

1. When I said, "There is a sense in which these people are really Christians" (referring to 1 Corinthians 5:11), I was not presenting it as a conclusion already reached (thus begging the question), but as a thesis to be demonstrated in what followed. I put forward the Biblical descriptions of baptism and its meaning to show that even false brothers who have received this sacrament have been joined by God to the body of Christ, for the time being, for His own purposes.

2. The baptism of John was like the Old Testament washing rituals, in that it signified forgiveness of sins only as it pointed forward to the true washing to be done by Christ. Christ Himself, on the other hand, came to baptize with the Holy Spirit, and He has been doing so ever since. This heavenly baptism is mirrored in and joined closely to an earthly baptism with water, which is why the Scriptures speak of these two together in passages like John 3:5; Acts 2:38; 9:17-18; and 1 Corinthians 12:13.

God demonstrated His acceptance of the first Gentile believers in Christ by baptizing them in the Spirit even before their baptism in water, but baptism in water immediately followed as the natural and expected consequence (Acts 10:44-48). Acts 19:1-7 presents a different and perhaps more normative sequence. The twelve men in Ephesus had received John's baptism but had not properly learned about Christ or the Holy Spirit. Paul instructed them in the faith and then baptized them into the name of the Lord Jesus and laid his hands on them, and so they received the Spirit.

3. If you take "baptism into the name of Jesus" (or equivalent expressions) to refer to water baptism in Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5--and I assume that you do--what grounds do you have for denying that similar expressions speak of water baptism in Romans 6:3; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27; etc.? The Name of Jesus means His own person, just as when Yahweh put His Name in the temple, He Himself was there (1 Kings 9:3). To be baptized into the Name of Jesus, then, or into the Name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit, is to be baptized into God Himself, into the body of Christ. No water on earth has the power to perform this work, but only the Spirit of God, who sanctifies the rite of baptism in water and uses it to join men and women to Himself, despite the sinfulness of those who administer and those who receive the ordinance.

In conclusion, then, to say that those unfaithful people who have been baptized into Christ and are in the Church are "merely nominal" Christians is far too easy. It lets them off the hook. It tells them that they do not have to perform the responsibilities of Christians, that they have not been purchased by Christ and so are free from Him, that the divinely instituted ritual of baptism means nothing before God who gave it. The Scripture does not speak in this way, but says, "As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27).

One final question: how do you understand your Lord's words in Matthew 8:11-12? "Many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

The Oracle said...

Jeff,
To them that have, more will be given. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Matthew 13:47-50 Is the Kingdom of Heaven only like the dragnet or is it the good and evil sorted out?

Matthew 18:23-35 Is the Kingdom of Heaven a home for temporary for hypocrites or does it require forgiveness for forgiveness?

Matthew 20:1-16 Is the Kingdom of Heaven inequitable to those in the longest or is it as welcoming to the Gentiles by faith (late arrivals) as it was the the Jews?

Matthew 22:2-14 Is the kingdom of Heaven like a party where everyone is in attendance or does it welcome all as long as they have changed for the occasion?

Now try these on for size:
Matthew 5:20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
If it is the dragnet or the all inclusive party, how can this be true?

Matthew 7:21 "Not every one who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
If it is all who claim trinitarian creeds, baptism and communion, how come this says such will not enter?

Mark 1:15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel."
Does it seem to you that repentance and belief is necessary to encounter the kingdom of God?

And appropriately
Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit
Is this a corrective to those who would suggest that someone can be a part of the Kingdom by participating in a religious meal?

Matthew N. Petersen said...

Evan, I'm not objecting to your denial of original sin. But it seems to me that to claim infants are saved is well, to claim infants are saved.

So it doesn't make any sense for you to object to infant baptism because infants cannot be saved. You believe infants are saved.

And is it not curious that the one people we are commanded to be like--infants--are the ones you exclude from the New Covenant. It seems on your reading, we must become like those who are not saved (or made part of Christ) if we wish enter the kingdom of heaven.

And these weren't just small children. You object "but parrents bring their children to Christ's baptism. It cannot save." But "unless you become like little children [ones brought to Him] you cannot be saved."

The Oracle said...

Matt, Infants aren't saved. Nothing to be saved from. They are innocent. I know you mean going to heaven but the point is key. Once they break with God through sin, then they will need faith, that which pleases God, that He might have mercy.

Jeff,
Time for a personal meeting that I might lead you astray. Too much typing.

Matthew N. Petersen said...

Evan,

That's fine. But of the two of us I believe everyone who gets into heaven gets in through Christ. You don't. You believe a substantial portion of those in heaven won't be there because of Christ. Is it really heresy(!) to believe there is no other name under heaven given unto man by which we must be saved?

The Oracle said...

Once again Matt, with vigor, "Men who must be saved from sin are saved by faith. Those that have not sinned need no savior, by faith or otherwise."
As St Paul says in Romans 7
"I was once alive apart from the law." The living need no atonement to be brought from death to life, until they die. "And so death spread to all men because all men sinned."

The Oracle said...

And may I say that I sincerely commend you for the brevity of these current comments of yours.

Jeff Moss said...

Evan,

I'd be glad to discuss some of these things with you face to face. When going with blog comments alone, it's so hard to be concise without sounding flippant, so I tend to err in the other direction.

...not, of course, to be led astray--I hope both of us will agree after meeting in person that we've ended up closer to the Truth than we began. His position will not have shifted at all, no matter how ours may have to.

I'll contact you once I get back to Moscow in a couple of days.

Jeff Moss said...

Actually, I'd be glad to discuss all of these things with you face to face (not just "some"), but it would be hard for one conversation to meaningfully address everything that's come up here... :-)

Matthew N. Petersen said...

Evan:

Two things. First, you aren't arguing that asserting God saves us through baptism is a denial of the gospel, but that asserting original sin is a denial of the gospel. If infants need saved, they won't have faith when they are saved. Even Baptists believe that if God saves infants from their original sin, it is without their explicit trust in Him.

Second, I don't understand how your solution makes things any better. The Bible clearly states the only door to Heaven is Christ. In Heaven we are members of Christ. It then says we become members of Christ through faith. This raises the difficulty of infants. They can't have faith. Most Christians (including I believe most Baptists) say God brings them to heaven them through Christ without their faith. But this is unacceptable to you. Brought to heaven by faith! So you say "neither faith, nor even Christ." And think this somehow resloves things.