Dec 062017
 

“There are other people who are slowly becoming Christians though they do not yet call themselves so. There are people who do not accept the full Christian doctrine about Christ but who are so strongly attracted by Him that they are His in a much deeper sense than they themselves understand.

There are people in other religions who are being led by God’s secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity, and who thus belong to Christ without knowing it.

 

For example, a Buddhist of good will may be led to concentrate more and more on the Buddhist teaching about mercy and to leave in the background (though he might still say he believed) the Buddhist teaching on certain other points.

Many of the good Pagans long before Christ’s birth may have been in this position. And always, of course, there are a great many people who are just confused in mind and have a lot of inconsistent beliefs all jumbled up together. Consequently, it is not much use trying to make judgments about Christians and non-Christians in the mass. It is some use comparing cats and dogs, or even men and women, in the mass, because there one knows definitely which is which. Also, an animal does not turn (either slowly or suddenly) from a dog into a cat.”

 

  314 Responses to “Another Look At “Mere Christianity”… Part 3”

  1. The more I read him, the more I like him…when I formerly had no use for him at all…

  2. This is so, so good and perceptive… and although I’m not a theologian, so true. Call it intuition…

  3. JoelG,

    There will be those who reject this in the strongest possible way.

    I tend to agree with Lewis…and I think “intuition” is a very fine word for why…

  4. I can here the ODM’s winding up from here… 🙂

  5. If one believes in works righteousness, then believing that good working pagans are righteous before God is a logical step.

  6. This is no more than the Roman Catholic teaching of implicit faith / baptism.
    That if they love god and do good, well if pagan knew better they would accept Jesus, but they don’t so they are saved anyway.

    I am not an ODM, but it is pretty ridiculous that such teaching is laid out here as acceptable.

  7. Paul actually dealt with Lewis’ proposal:

    “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.”

  8. Let’s be clear… what Lewis is saying (and I am affirming) may be outside orthodox Christian doctrine.

    Maybe…

    However, it need not be boiled down to a 16th century debate over works righteousness via. salvation by faith “alone”.

    I have spent the last, best, years of my life chronicling the exploits of people with an orthodox confession that I wouldn’t trust with my wallet, wife, or child.

    On the other hand…I have met many noble heathens who live more “godly” lives than most.

    For me, there has to be more to the story than affirmation of doctrinal precepts…

  9. I don’t believe that faith is simply a mechanism whereby if you say the right things and do the right things according to some confession of belief that you get your ticket punched.

    Jesus is a person and persons enter into relationships…and I think Jesus is free to make whatever relationships He chooses.

  10. “On the other hand…I have met many noble heathens who live more “godly” lives than most.”
    First you only know of their outward appearance. At the same time, their rejection of Jesus is absolute hate towards God … whether they realize it or not.

    “For me, there has to be more to the story than affirmation of doctrinal precepts…” that is a personal taste on your part.

    I did like the way you placed alone in scare quotes.

  11. “I am not an ODM, but it is pretty ridiculous that such teaching is laid out here as acceptable.”

    This comes from one of the most popular books in the history of Christendom.

    I’m not laying it out for anything but discussion…I knew the Lutherans would be quick to chime in… 🙂

  12. “At the same time, their rejection of Jesus is absolute hate towards God … whether they realize it or not.”

    I think that is sometimes true…and sometimes utter nonsense.

  13. Michael – “I don’t believe that faith is simply a mechanism whereby if you say the right things and do the right things according to some confession of belief that you get your ticket punched.”

    Where did you pick up this definition of faith. To the Lutheran, faith is the gift given by God so that you can receive the salvation he offers — but note that reception part – it may be passive, but it is still receiving.The pagan is still unknowing and rejecting.

  14. “This comes from one of the most popular books in the history of Christendom.”

    So is Joel Osteen’s “Your Best Life Now” and “Jesus Calling” – so?

  15. MLD,

    I understand the Lutheran way of understanding salvation.
    It’s one of the reasons I’m not a Lutheran. 🙂

    You and Jean express yourselves very well and you’re welcome to do so here while I explore other possibilities.

  16. “… while I explore other possibilities.”

    Other possibilities of salvation? There is always Santeria — 😉

  17. Just for clarity…

    Am I sure Lewis is right?

    No.

    Do I hope he is?

    Fervently.

  18. Don’t forget “The Shack”, MLD. ;). I think Lewis hits on a truth about the Person of Jesus here that is consistent with His Personality. I realize this is outside of orthodox thought. If I’m wrong I’ll add it to the list of my wrong conclusions and ask for forgiveness.

    As a pew sitter I endorse this book without hesitation.. 🙂

  19. “So is Lewis an advocate of post-mortem salvation? This time I must be a bit more nuanced with my answer. Yes, Emeth is technically dead when he accepts Aslan’s offer of salvation, but that does not mean he is being given a “second chance.”

    As Lewis explains in a number of his works, God lives in eternity, not in time. Too often, people think that eternity means time going on forever, when what it really means is that time itself does not exist. The closest we come to a perception of eternity, Lewis writes, is our experience of the present moment. For the present is the point where time touches eternity.

    The moment Emeth dies is an eternal moment—and that eternal moment contains all the other moments of his life. He accepts Aslan (Christ) in that eternal moment, because all of the other moments have been building up to that acceptance. And once he does, all the other moments become reoriented around that moment of decision. That is why, in The Great Divorce, Lewis says heaven and hell work backwards. For those who accept Christ in that eternal moment, it will seem, not that they have just entered heaven, but that they have always been there.”

    https://www.apologeticscanada.com/2015/02/12/c-s-lewis-universalist/

  20. JoelG,

    I’m surprised at how many people don’t know that this kind of thinking is in the book…he was also a proponent of purgatory, which I am not.

  21. “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.”

  22. Re purgatory: I’m at work and don’t have time to check but I believe Lewis was close to converting to Catholicism at the end of his life. I don’t see anything wrong for praying for the dead and asking for God’s mercy for those separated from Him.

  23. “I don’t see anything wrong for praying for the dead and asking for God’s mercy for those separated from Him.”

    Nor do I…

  24. Michael – I have always said I am not a big Lewis fan. I own and have read much of what he has written – but I do it chewing and swallowing the meat and spitting out the bones. Let me warn you, you are swallowing the bones. I hope Trey is trained in the Heimlich Maneuver.

    It is for these same reasons that I have never been much of an NT Wright fan. I made the claims here years ago that Wright was trying to take the Church of England back to Rome – when he and Tony Blair were doing their dog and pony show and Blair became ambassador to the Vatican and RCC – Wright was right there with him.

    Tread carefully on your journey

  25. MLD,

    I don’t see Rome as the last enemy.
    You forget that I’ve had the privilege of knowing and being taught by some of the best Reformed teachers ever.
    My foundations were built by them.

    Having said that, I feel free to take from Rome whatever wisdom she has gathered over the centuries, along with that of Geneva, Wittenberg, Canterbury, and Constantinople.

    So far, nothing from Costa Mesa… 🙂

  26. Jean,

    Luther’s comment on that passage is interesting…

    “Whoever fulfills the Law is in Christ, and he receives grace because as much as he is able he has prepared himself for it. Original sin God could forgive them [the unevangelized] (even though they may not have recognized it and confessed it) on account of some act of humility towards God as the highest being that they know. Neither were they bound to the Gospel and to Christ as specifically recognized, as the Jews were not either. Or one can say that all people of this type have been given so much light and grace by an act of prevenient mercy of God as is sufficient for their salvation in their situation, as in the case of Job, Naaman, Jethro, and others…”They have therefore fulfilled the Law. Whatever was lacking (and for this lack they are excused on account of their invincible ignorance) God in His forbearance without doubt supplied so that it might be made perfect through Christ in the future. This is not different from what He did for the children who were uncircumcised and killed for His sake (cf. Matt. 2:16). He does the same thing today for our children.” (Luther, commentary on Romans, see Romans 2:10)

  27. this is an interesting conversation going on here this afternoon…
    perhaps we are too inclined to equate the Church with salvation? yes, if you are in this dispensation (post ascension – pre rapture) and have accepted the history of Jesus Christ as true and the man as your Redeemer/King, you are saved and will spend all eternity in God’s good graces (more or less) – all in the Church are “saved”… now if you have heard of Jesus Christ and learned of His claims and rejected them, you are lost… does that mean burn forever in hell? dunno, but it could…

    on the other hand, before the birth of the Son of God, there must have been myriads of souls longing for salvation, both from their annoying selves and from this fallen world – their bad luck and off to hell they go? – that just doesn’t fit what God the righteous and just one has revealed of Himself to us… so? so i have to leave it up to the One who searches hearts, the creator of us to determine their eternity…
    what i do know is that He is not arbitrary, so you don’t have to hoped to be judged on one of His good days – rather He is perfect in righteousness and in justice and He knows every man right down to his DNA – mebbe deeper, dunno – so you will get judged perfectly as He has grace as a means to reconcile all this without compromising His character one iota

    one thing i know is that ‘nice’ is not God’s criteria for salvation… honesty may be one, tho – dunno

    i think there may be more to the mystery of the Church than we know, but i am certain that you don’t go to hell simply for not being a member of it…

    my apologies for going counter to the non-dispies here
    God keep

  28. No Em, you are saved when Jesus saves you (not all the ‘when you decide etc)
    But the key is when Jesus saves you, you know it.

  29. I think God like’s to surprise us and work outside of “the box”. I know this doesn’t fly with some. The whole Christmas story is filled with surprises, from a unwed teenager being pregnant with our Creator God to Maji (astrologers) coming to visit and bring gifts to Him. I wouldn’t want to put limits on who, where, or how God draws ALL people to Himself.

  30. MLD, yes, Jesus saves – we don’t “decide to be saved” – but i think you are splitting hairs to say that one gives no affirmation, no recognition that they have entered into salvation… we see the open door – we hear Jesus’ voice – those who may or may not see the door, but do not hear for whatever reason, perhaps yours, ignore the voice of God and do not enter in…
    IMV, when i hear your explanation, i see the definition of a blob, at some point we respond; blobs can’t do that
    it is not a matter of personal virtue to “hear” the shepherd, BTW … that part is part of the mystery … God is doing some sort of sifting of His creation? … could be – dunno

  31. #27. Good stuff.

  32. I’ve always thought that the evangelical embrace of Lewis was somewhat contrived. I wonder how many have really read and digested what he had to say.

    I think what he said at the top of this thread is a great example.

  33. bob1 – I think the same of evangelicals when they embrace Bonhoeffer. I think they know only of his resistance against Hitler but would be appalled by his theology, if they ever looked into it or had one of their own to compare to – much like a Lutheran version of John Shelby Spong.
    But his books fly off the shelves.

  34. As a misfit evangelical (by default) I love this book and this particular excerpt makes me giddy. I don’t understand why, at the very least, one wouldn’t hope Lewis’ observation is true. All he is really saying is that he thinks Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection goes further, deeper and wider than we can comprehend. That when one loves love, mercy, life and grace they are loving Jesus Himself. He IS these things Personified and so much more. If we are called to pray for our enemies surely we can pray for this grace toward all, even the dead.

  35. #34

    Yeah.

    I mean, what Christian in their right mind wouldn’t want to see as many souls in glory as possible??

  36. I know God does….

    “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

    And I wouldn’t put it past Him to get the job done.

  37. As long as we seek to lock God in a box of our own making, we will get it wrong. Lewis was looking at a God beyond time, beyond our norms and mores. I pray that this is the god I will encounter… full of mercy and unbounded love.

  38. “saved and come to a knowledge of the truth”…
    That sounds like it all hinges on an escape from delusion? God won’t fit in any box we can construct … amen to that observation ! ! !

  39. Amen Duane and Em

  40. #37

    Me, too

  41. Wow, this has turned into a John Shelby Spong sing a long and hootenanny. I remember reading his autobiography Here I Stand (obviously he had a different meaning) around 2000 and thinking, this guy really can exegete the white spaces on a page.

    If what Duane is claiming of Lewis, then Lewis must be doing the same thing. So I will ask – how is it that Lewis knows of the god ” beyond time, beyond our norms and mores.” outside of holy scriptures? I see a God who purposely put himself within our time and lived within our norms and mores.
    I will also say that I do not need to put God in a box – God has put himself in a box by his word and his promises – and breaking news, some of those promises are not on the positive side.

    We can all want everyone to go to heaven, but that does not seem to be the plan of the ages. Heck, my wife wants a bigger diamond ring and she ain’t gettin’ it.

    I am always blown away when the conversations go this way that scriptures such as the warning passages, the law passages end up being flushed down the toilet. What the hell, this is American religion.

  42. MLD at 41 is good food for thot because the seed of this whole scenario, as I see it, was a declaration that ” I am like the most high God”… and for us to presume to know the fate of every soul who has walked the earth puts out discernment inordinately high… But I don’t think God has put Himself in a box … rather, I think humanity is in a box – a box called rebellion
    Further, I think when someone here stated that they are hopeful that the price that was paid to redeem us covers more people than we might think… I seriously doubt that they’d want heaven populated by the dead souls who would have been in any crowd crying “crucify him.” or the smirking ones who’d look at Jesus hanging in the midst of His crucifixion, the ones who’d observe, ” He saved others, but he can’t save himself. ”

    What we redeemed mortals do know for certain is that going thru life rejecting Christ brings eternal condemnation…

  43. Em, one would think Paul a dead soul persecuting Christ. We know how that story ended.

    MLD, Holy Scripture doesn’t answer every question. We need to use reason based on God’s Goodness found in Scripture to fill in the blanks. Call me crazy, but I dont think a Good God sends people to eternal damnation for being born in the wrong place at the wrong time. His attributes as a Father are eternal.

    “While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him and was filled with compassion.”

  44. John Spong denies every cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith.

    C.S. Lewis did not, I do not, Duane does not, and I’m sure Joel doesn’t either.

    For some, the interpretation of the Scriptures codified in their sects confessions answer all that they need to know about God.

    I have no quarrel with that, for them.

    For me, I note that even the Biblical authors used extra biblical sources to understand God and even (God help them) used mystical experiences as an occasional guide.

    For me, I think that there is more mystery to plumb than I have life left to live and hoping that heaven is large and full and hell is small and sparkly populated is not a bad thing to hope for.

    My hope is particularly that heaven is large enough for me to avoid contact with most of the “Christians” I’ve known in this life…

  45. My high school psych teacher once told the class, ” you know, if I knew Jesus, I think if like to be his very good friend.” The guy who used to get high with underage students in the 70s and 80s. I didn’t say anything, but I thought, “have you actually read the Bible? Read the words of Jesus?”

    It’s incomprehensible to me that what Jesus was recorded as saying aren’t somehow sufficient enough. Where is the fear of God? Is that a lost concept? I’m not necessarily talking fire and brimstone, but rather having faith to take Him at his Word? Who am I to challenge, “why have you made me thus?”

  46. Victor,

    Which interpretation of those words should I be in fear of?
    C.S. Lewis didn’t deny the existence of hell and neither do I…

  47. I’m not The Judge.

    I pray for God’s grace upon my children. Fervently. I also realize God’s sovereignty. If Eli, who talked to God, was judged, his sons with him, where does that leave me? Even Cain talked to God. I realize God is sovereign. What is my worry? I admit I do have some worry, and struggle with my responsibility in the matter.

  48. I have heard that Universalism was more acceptable around 100 years ago. 😕

  49. Michael, I do not doubt that you hold to the cardinal doctrines. The question on the table is, does that matter?
    The honorable pagan doesn’t hold to any of them and lives his supposed good life to the honor of his totem pole god – which in itself is a denial of the Cardinal doctrines – yet that does not seem to matter. Totem pole god, vs the one true God — toss up if you are good and sincere.
    And what about that narrow/wide – road/gate stuff? Is that open to ‘open’ interpretation? Perhaps what Jesus meant was that the road/gate to hell is narrow, but the road/gate to heaven is wide. Now I understand that is not the view of my restricted sect and confessions, but I guess it is of some enlightened groups.

    What the heck it’s a flip of the coin. I feel confident speaking to you boldly about this as I am sure you posted the Lewis material for the shock value. 🙂

  50. Is forgiveness a reward for those who hold the right doctrines? Or are holding the right doctrines a gift of grace in itself? Should we have compassion toward those who worship the totem pole God knowing Who they are really seeking? Or right them off as pagans consign them to hell?

  51. Ahh yes, this belief that Lewis held. I’m glad you posted the link in #19 to the Narnia passage. I remember reading it, and what a beautiful scene it was, and then having to wrestle with the implications for a while.

    I like wrestling.

    Sentimentally, I love the idea. Is it possible? I guess. None of us knows exactly what happens when we die. I’m sure that there is more about God that we don’t know , than there is stuff about God that we do know.
    Scripturally, I can’t see it at all. My best understanding of Scripture is that the things we believe on this earth really do matter, and will greatly effect our eternal destiny. For that reason, I might like this idea, or hope that this is true, but I have to live my life like it is not. I believe that it is of the highest importance to share the Gospel, and to have people respond to the Gospel in this life.

  52. JoelG,
    “Is forgiveness a reward for those who hold the right doctrines?”

    You tell me. So how many times does the noble pagan ask for forgiveness before the totem pole grants it? What makes you think the noble pagan even knows about forgiveness?

    I don’t write anyone off – this is why Jesus said to go into all the world. People need to hear – “your totem pole does you no good.” It reminds me of Elijah and the prophets of Baal – that was a great story – equal footing and salvation with God.

  53. “What makes you think the noble pagan even knows about forgiveness?”

    Thats my point. They don’t. But if he/she did truly know Christ they would realize He is who they seek. Even Christians falls into the trap of making idols. I know who Jesus is and still turn to other things to cope at times, which is no different than the pagan. But I was born into a Christian family so I know better.

    Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. This applies across the board, to me. Jesus is mercy. If one wants to worship Baal or another evil god then they only damage themselves, which should cause compassion. When we see pictures of Coptic Christians getting beheaded by radical Muslims, who should we have compassion towards, eternally speaking?

    All I really truly know is that Jesus saves.

  54. Just for another take on this matter, here is the Roman Catholic Catechism –

    “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.
    Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.”

  55. “All I really truly know is that Jesus saves.” — Yes and condemns. and condemns ferociously.
    Again, my example of the prophets of baal – was Jesus just messing with them?

  56. Sorry
    But that it’s awfully BROAD path leading nowhere good. I have no use for him beyond his children’s stories.

  57. “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.”
    ——————————————————————————————————————–
    Duane, Ok, regarding the Roman Catholic take. This sounds like a works righteousness minus faith if I’m not mistaken. Now if the Roman Catholic view is correct, than whats all the fuss was about the reformation? All us protestants must be completely wrong…

  58. There’s entire portions of the gospels and Revelation where Jesus is judge. Ecumenists sand SJWs don’t get a pass

  59. Michael
    I see a lot of pitchforks and torches in your near future 😉

  60. Thank you Duane. That is very helpful.

    MLD I see your point but some things in the OT seem to conflict with Jesus as revealed in the NT. I am still processing and pondering. I think I will stop commenting before I gets taken off the prayer list. 😉

  61. #19 has some wonderful thoughts, for sure.

  62. Duane,
    “but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart,…”

    “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.
    All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

    What we mistake as those seeking after God on their own are really those who are just like W C Fields when asked why he was reading the Bible – “Looking for loopholes.”

  63. Ok I can’t stop commenting. I’m a sinner what can I say?

    “Sorry
    But that it’s awfully BROAD path leading nowhere good.”

    He’s not saying all roads lead to God. He’s saying the Narrow Gate transcends all cultures / religions / philosophy. It’s no different than the Catholic Catechism Duane quoted.

  64. I don’t worry about the pitchforks.

    There is a normative sense in which we act according to Scripture and tradition.

    In that sense, we proclaim the Gospel promiscuously, continually.

    We call on people to believe and be saved.

    We preach the birth, death, resurrection, ascension, and return of Jesus.

    The bulk of an Anglican liturgical service is the reading of Scripture.

    We also affirm and confess the creeds of the church.

    Nobody who has ever sat under my ministry has been denied the hearing of the Gospel ever.

  65. Michael, “Nobody who has ever sat under my ministry has been denied the hearing of the Gospel ever.”

    But are you offering it up as truth or an option?

  66. I’m simply saying that beyond our doctrinal boxes there is a living God who isn’t chained to a rule book, but is in relationship with those He gave life to.

    If there is nothing more than doctrinal formulation,then I guess we’d better make damn sure we choose the right sect and follow it’s tenets to a tee.

    I will always call on those who hear me to believe and be saved…but I will also never stop hoping that the grace and mercy of God is greater than has been revealed thus far.

  67. Just as an addendum… I shared the RCC Catechism comment on the matter for a particular reason – There are faithful, Godly, scholarly folk who can view this issue in different ways. For myself:

    1. We preach the Gospel to all as a joy, right and duty.
    2.” Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.”
    3. God is sovereign and merciful and loves His creation. He will deal with those who have not heard the Gospel in accordance with his nature (not ours), without reference to our contrived dogmatic positions.

  68. JoelG,
    Me neither 🙂

    Imv it’s easy believism, it’s meritorious.

    I understand how a non hearer can still be saved by his faithfulness to what he knows of the one true God he has gleaned from the world around him – the Holy Spirit said so through Paul.

    But to those who live morally straight lives while rejecting Christ?

    This is the whole point of Jesus saying to His disciples, “unless you’re righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees…” and pretty much the point of Matthew 7 (starting with a warning to all of us – by the same measure we use…)

    Yes, it transcends all that, but it doesn’t transcend what’s revealed in His word. He upholds His Word above His Name.

  69. Duane said it better than I did…

  70. #66 Michael

    Sorry, our posts, passed in the ethernet… but we’re on the same page…

  71. The vast majority of people close to me that have passed from this earth, did so without an explicit confession of faith.

    I am supposed to accept the fact that they are roasting in hell, enduring eternal torment of some sort.

    This, despite the fact that they were conduits of life, love, and many truths to me and others.

    Grandma and Stalin sweating it out waiting for the lake of fire.

    In the meanwhile some real scum who regurgitated a “profession of faith” are enjoying the presence of the Lord.

    I will continue to hope it’s a tad more complex than i’ve been taught…

  72. Duane
    I have a question about joining hands with a church that persecuted the faithful for so many centuries How do you explain atonement to a dying old woman suffering from Catholicism without contradicting everything she knows about the sufficiency of Christ? Did Jesus atone for all sin, or is there a remaining balance in purgatory? She would be awfully confused, I suspect. If you didn’t address it, are you then a joy, or right, or dutiful?

    Jesus had some pretty dogmatic positions concerning himself and Moses, btw.

  73. Duane,

    Nothing to be sorry for at all…I’m thankful for another voice…

  74. Michael,
    “I will always call on those who hear me to believe and be saved…”

    To believe what? Are you first telling them they are lost? (you must be if you want them to be saved). If so, then what are you telling them is the solution to that issue? Something concrete and true from scripture or just telling them to be nice and sincere?

    If you are telling them something concrete and true from scripture is it actually true or just true for you?

  75. A couple of weeks ago G-Man commented in another post some things that rang true and have stuck with me. I think this is well said and I hope I have his permission to quote him here…

    “I rejoice in the ability of Jesus being able to continuously minister to each human on the planet who has ever lived or shall live and woo them to a sufficient trust in Him that His will is done in each life. That does not lessen the call for me or any of us to share Jesus, spread the Gospels and entreat any and all to fall in love with Him, but I refuse to entertain, even for a moment, that Jesus has reduced His love to such a limited and ineffectual theology.”

    ———

    “I refuse to entertain, even for a moment, that Jesus has reduced His love to such a limited and ineffectual theology.

    …to clarify, I refuse to look at any historical figure, in this case, Gandhi, and pronounce a Christless eternity. Classic Christianity leaves room for the blessed uncertainty of the unfair grace of God.”

  76. #71
    I don’t buy that strawman false dichotomy. We have seen “Se7en” and it was a ridiculous jab at the what it means to seek forgiveness. It is pretty clear in scripture. This life matters and what you do with it is of paramount importance in heaven. One thief on a cross is in hell, and the other is in paradise having saved his own life at the last moment. A rich young, moral ruler is sent away because he can’t let go of his pride, and a hooker is saved by confessing Christ. Over and over and over and over. You seem to ignore the fact that the doctrine of repentance in Christ is not made up by men. Jesus said it Himself. Was that not part of progressive revelation?

  77. MLD,

    Unfortunately, I don’t share your love of binary choices, so communication is difficult.

    The Gospel formulation I preach is the same one that has been preached for two thousand years.
    I affirm the early creeds and confessions and the Thirty Nine Articles of the Church of England.
    I’m every bit as “orthodox” as you are.

    The questions don’t end with my confessions.

    I can affirm all those truths while still postulating that there may be truths that haven’t been codified by my sect or yours.

    “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”
    (John 21:25 ESV)

  78. descended,

    I have no idea what “Se7en” is.
    I’m not asking you to buy anything.

    I am using the brain God gave me to hope in His grace and mercy.

    I frankly find it odd that hell is so popular and mercy so loathed.

    Whatever you do, don’t practice pastoral ministry with those who have lost someone without knowing of their faith…

  79. To put it another way
    When people say the Lord’s name as a curse word, it is not good. Why?

  80. Michael
    It’s a question worth answering if you’re providing spiritual comfort to someone who is frightened of purgatory.

  81. descended,

    I have no idea what you’re talking about in either # 79 or # 80.

    I’m not a Roman Catholic.

  82. #72 Descended

    When I was in the hospital offering extreme unction to my brother who was dying, a RCC priest assisted me (and provided the chrism). I used the Book of Common Prayer, allowed my brother the opportunity to confess and place his faith in Christ alone and anointed him with oil. I offered absolution. The priest assisting me said a prayer from the BCP and together we said the commendation.

    If that is “joining hands”… I stand guilty as charged.

  83. Michael – this is such an unfair statement you made.
    “I frankly find it odd that hell is so popular and mercy so loathed.”

    Not a single person has advocated or even come close to what you state. We could say the same thing for you – “I frankly find it odd that the white parts of the page are so popular and printed words are so loathed.”

    Come on – you know better than that.

  84. Again with the Gandhi thing. Under what rubric is someone like that judged “righteous?” The Dalit (Untouchable) community disagrees, vehmently. He sold them out (the “least of these,” certainly, still horribly persecuted) based upon his upper caste religion/status/beliefs and had odd or perverted “non” sexual sexual habits that even turned off some of his followers.

  85. Joel said up at #63 – “He’s not saying all roads lead to God.”

    In light of this conversation, may I politely ask ‘why not?’
    Again, in light of this conversation, if God is loving – then why not all roads?

  86. Michael,

    It’s been quite a while since I posted on PP, but about a half hour I couldn’t resist and posted some lengthy thoughts on this discussion from my iPhone.

    It seems to have gotten lost in cyberspace! lol.

    Anyway, great discussion!

  87. If ignorance = salvation, wouldn’t sharing the gospel with someone be a curse?

  88. AB,

    Good to see you…there’s nothing in the spam filter…

  89. Josh,

    I think there is a sense in which it can be…I believe the Scriptures inform us not to contend with someone continually as it increases their condemnation with every rejection.

    Again I don’t believe “salvation” is a simple formula…or that condemnation is either.

    I hope that there is a relational aspect to both that is greater.

    I’ll state it again…we preach as the Scriptures clearly instruct…and hope there is mercy for some beyond what we know.

  90. Last time I looked… I thought it was God who decided the fate of individual souls. Our obligation was to simply preach the good news to the world and make disciples.
    It seems like an awful lot of people here are wanting to decide “who gets in and who gets out”… Isn’t that a bit above our pay grade?

  91. How does that hope affect your behavior?

  92. Duane, who here want to decide who gets in and who is out?

  93. MLD, the Buddhist born into a Budhist culture didnt choose his road. God draws Him to Himself whether or not he ever hears the name of Christ on this side of eternity. Aren’t we familiar enough with the Mercy of Christ to reason this out? Yes Jesus condemns those who know the Truth intimately and still turn away. Jesus isn’t cruel enough to force them to into His presence. Sooner or later they will change their mind after seeing Him clearly and realizing their own poverty.

    New Victor, being open to and hopeful eternal grace for ALL isn’t a terrible thing.

    Josh I will refer you to the G-Man quote :

    “That does not lessen the call for me or any of us to share Jesus, spread the Gospels and entreat any and all to fall in love with Him.”

  94. Josh,

    No.

    The shared gospel is an important means of sharing truth with the lost. It is commanded by Christ and a way we share in His work.

    But it is not the only means of revelation available to God. We could talk about dreams, visions, revelations, the testimony of creation, and possibly other things God’s
    Spirit uses.

    I see Jesus “lighting every man that comes in to the world” as it says in John’s gospel. As Previously stated, that could can come in the many ways, even if we don’t do our part. God’s hand are not tied.

    Nor is anyone really ignorant in my opinion. Just at various stages of either light acceptance or rejection.

  95. Josh,

    I’m afraid I don’t understand the question @ 91…

  96. JoelG – Gman believes everyone is getting in. I disagree with him on that, but not my point. Michael has not argued that everyone gets in but that some could get in without accepting Christ in this lifetime, as long as they are ignorant of the Gospel. (I know, that is a simplification. Read the post and prior 95 comments to get the full idea).

    If Michael, Lewis, and Duane are right, then you are definitely condemning some to Hell by sharing the Gospel with them. They were saved before they heard, but now are responsible, having heard the gospel. Its a curse.

  97. A Believer – I believe that we share the Gospel because the world needs Jesus, and that He is the only way to salvation. Agree?

  98. “we preach as the Scriptures clearly instruct…and hope there is mercy for some beyond what we know.”

    This is the hope I was asking about. How does that hope change your life?

  99. Joel @93 – so are you saying the Buddhist is a Christian and doesn’t know it? Is that the affect Jesus has on us – “who was that masked man?” — Oh, he was the Lord of the universe.

    What about that part about confessing Jesus as Lord? How does the anonymous person do that?

    You say – “Sooner or later they will change their mind after seeing Him clearly and realizing their own poverty.” – is that not true of anyone? Is that not how you came along? That was what happened to me. So what is the challenge?, the Buddhist becomes a Christian and gets saved or he remains a lost Buddhist.

  100. “Michael has not argued that everyone gets in but that some could get in without accepting Christ in this lifetime, as long as they are ignorant of the Gospel.”

    I didn’t say that.

  101. “so are you saying the Buddhist is a Christian and doesn’t know it?”

    That seems to be Lewis’ belief. I completely reject it, but for the sake of this thread, wanted to point it out.

  102. Michael, that is what I have understood without retyping the full article and all the comments afterwards.

    Do you disagree with my synopsis?

  103. I find myself typing full posts and deleting them over and over.

  104. Josh, the whole thing of them being saved and not knowing it is truly and almost solely an RCC belief.

    I have not studied this for sometime but you can find it on the internet / youtube etc – Patrick Madrid from Catholic Answers is their apologist in this area.

  105. Josh,

    What I’m saying is simply that there may be more to the mercy and grace of God than is codified in Scriptures.

    What this does for me is make the Christian faith bearable.

    My grandma, my best friend, and my writing mentor all passed without a clear profession of faith.

    When I talk with people who have had loved ones pass in similar situations I can provide some comfort and hope…we’ll see if it was warranted when I get home.

  106. “so are you saying the Buddhist is a Christian and doesn’t know it?”

    A Believer answers that well at #94. I agree with Lewis. One can be a Christian without knowing it for a time, even a lifetime. The Spirit draws all to Jesus.

    “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

    I don’t think its outside of orthodox Christianity to hope, as Michael says, that there is mercy for some beyond what we know.

    “Gman believes everyone is getting in.”

    Nothing wrong with that. God wants it.

    “(God) wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

  107. BD,

    Join in…your voice is always worth hearing.

  108. For those who are interested, I found this to be a very fair and balanced assessment of the various positions with regard to this question –
    https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/salvation-christ-comparative-christian-views/13-those-who-have-never-heard-survey-major

  109. The “grandma vs. Stalin” comment is a good point. I also have wondered about this. Lest I offend by getting personal, I’ll leave it at that.

  110. Victor,

    Go ahead…I won’t be offended.
    Hell, half the people here already think I’m a heretic. 🙂

  111. Duane you’re just trying to stir the pot by linking to a BYU site. 😉

  112. John @97. Agree!

  113. “Gman believes everyone is getting in.”

    “Nothing wrong with that. God wants it.”

    Unfortunately, it’s just not what scripture says.

  114. Dread, I actually made a long post a while back and apparently God deleted it! lol.

    Hopefully, it wasn’t His opinion of what I had to say!

  115. That was supposed to be Josh, I agree. Although I often find myself agreeing with myself.

  116. #111 Joel

    Nope… he was at Huntington College here in Indiana when he wrote that chapter! It is really a fine and balanced outline of the various positions….

    Now, where did I put those ruby glasses???

  117. #43 – no, i didn’t mean to imply that a dead soul cannot be redeemed (born again IMV) in this life… sorry – i meant that we wouldn’t want heaven populated with souls who were still of that mindset…

    looks like an interesting thread has developed on the topic… now i’ll go back and read everyone’s insights

  118. Just for the sake of clarity…Lewis wasn’t a universalist, he was an inclusivist, if we need to use labels.

    I don’t know that any of these labels fit my thinking…I just think there is mystery here and in that mystery I can hope in the grace and mercy of God.

  119. #116 Duane,thanks for the link. Interesting stuff to look at tonight.

  120. #118 Michael

    I think that I go into the category of “agnostic”… I don’t know, but I do know that God is loving and just.

  121. Josh,

    I hope Lewis was suggesting the Buddhist could be in the process of becoming a Christian by responding positively to light or revelation being given by the Spirit.

    Maybe if he dies in process of becoming, Jesus accepts the trajectory knowing the final outcome.

    “All that the Father has given to Me will come to Me.” -Jesus

  122. #119 Joel

    You’re welcome. I thought if we were stating other people’s position, it might be helpful to know what the positions actually are! There’s a concept for you… 🙂

  123. Duane,

    Agreed…

  124. it is a difficult thing to treasure the holiness of God from our vantage point here on earth… i suspect, tho, that our salvation rests less on our adherence to doctrines than it does on our attitude, i.e., “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” To be a sinner doesn’t mean that you murder, rape and steal, we are a fallen, corrupted race, born sinners as David has noted… maybe we should drop the term pagan when comparing the Church to the rest of the world? If, through your life, you hear the gospel and reject it, you are not redeemable… on the other hand, if you long for the Truth, but never hear it, you fall into the category of the ones that we can only say, “only God knows” … or so it seems to me – dunno

  125. “Just for the sake of clarity…Lewis wasn’t a universalist, he was an inclusivist,”

    Thanks for the clarification. I’m an inclusivist by nature. I don’t want anyone to be left out… anyone, while fully acknowledging Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. If my soft tendencies cause me to be wrong then I beg His forgiveness. I think He allows us to wrestle with these things. It’s part of discovering Him, by His Grace. Great discussion all.

  126. ” I don’t want anyone to be left out… anyone, ”

    How does this affect your behavior?

  127. It drives me to want to share the Gospel and love on those folks who least “deserve” it. The outcast, criminals, the last people one would want to associate with.

  128. One thing we know – i think we do – Jesus’ died for the sins of the whole world… it isn’t sin that is the barrier between us and God anymore… it is our own hearts and minds… our pride and presumptions… real teachable humility doesn’t come easy to most of us – perhaps, because we’re afraid of the filter? humility and gullible are not equal terms at all

  129. Well Michael has been right about one thing in this entire conversation. We Lutherans are different.
    Deut 29:29 states “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

    We do not dabble in the so called ‘mysteries’ of God – we are satisfied to deal with those things which have been given to us.

    Anglicans must use a different verse in these instances.

  130. @ 127 – Then JoelG – that’s great!

  131. “Jesus’ died for the sins of the whole world… ” 5 Point Calvinists disagree, but it seems Michael has stepped away from that.

    I certainly agree with you.

  132. Anglicans interpret many verses differently than Lutherans…and Baptists, and Nazarenes and… fill in the blank.

    The fact that there are so many different interpretations of the revelation of Scripture should give us some humility and pause when having these kinds of discussions.

    I may well be wrong in everything I said…but my hope is that being wrong hoping in the love and mercy of God isn’t a damnable sin.

    I will hasten to say that I do not represent all Anglicans here, anymore than Lewis did…I simply represent my own thoughts on the journey.

  133. Michael understands that there is a tension between verses that teach a universal redemption and a particular one.

    He hasn’t yet come up with a satisfying formula to explain that…

  134. #129 MLD

    You’d better get busy with all the words of this law… all 613! Of course, you might interpret that differently…

  135. Michael,
    Yet you are so sure and narrow on the interpretation of the social justice verses and the qualification verses.
    How is that?

  136. MLD,

    You would have to define what the “social justice” verses and the “qualification” verses are as those are not categories I’m familiar with in my ignorance.

  137. there is no “universal redemption” – what there is is a universal call to it

  138. Em,

    In Reformed theology the idea that Christ died for all men is called “universal redemption”.

    In the Reformed scheme, Christ died only for those given to Him by the Father…thus, “particular” redemption.

  139. The Apostle Paul in speaking to the Greek pagans said,

    “He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.”

    That would mean God’s truth isn’t really that far away, even for the primitive souls in the furthest jungles.

    The Gospel of John says that Jesus is the light that “lights every man that comes in to the world”.

    I’m not sure if anyone is truly ignorant.

    Could it be that God’s illumination comes to all in stages and that light responded to brings more light and light rejected leaves one in darkness?

    What if the light of the gospel preached is further down the line in the process of coming to Christ. Could the process start with the testimony of creation, conscience, or even dreams, visions, or revelations?

    I think it’s highly possible.

    The gospel of John states that condemnation only comes to those who reject the light and love darkness.

    It’s hard for me to imaging God rejecting any soul who has responded positively to God’s drawing and to the light given and is seeking to know and love Him.

    Look at the example of Cornelius. Or even Paul for that matter. Paul responded to God’s drawing early in life and loved God but was serving Him ignorantly. But God did not leave it at that– giving Paul special revelation on the Damascus road.

    Even Apollos had some things wrong, yet God sent him Priscilla and Aquilla to bring course correction.

    If my salvation process theory is correct, I don’t know at which point along the way salvation or regeneration occurs, but I do know that it is inextricably linked to faith in Jesus. Possibly even if it is not fully formed, or informed.

    Some things Just cannot be known by us but only by Him. “The secret things belong to God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children”. And He has revealed much!

    The Lord indeed knows those that are His.

    I will rest on what I can know and what scripture clearly teaches– the same thought that many here have already expressed. The Judge of the whole earth will always do what is right, fair and loving towards all.

  140. Any certainty I have is pretty much encapsulated in the early creeds and confessions.

    Everything else is my best effort to combine Scripture,tradition, and reason to reach sound doctrinal conclusions.

    I’m comfortable with those conclusions being fluid as I learn and grow in the grace of God…

  141. ” For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. ”
    Perhaps we can all rest our troubled minds by pondering on all of 1 Cor. 13? dunno, but it works for me. 😇

  142. Michael, you said,

    “Everything else is my best effort to combine Scripture, tradition, and reason to reach sound doctrinal conclusions.”

    With the primacy going to scripture of course, I assume! 😉

    I think for all of us, who have come to faith in Christ, there is also our subjective experience, which of course must be in alignment with scripture.

    I think this forces us to approach scripture very humbly- forcing us into a dependence upon the Holy Spirit to guide us into the truth for our lives.

    Especially considering the possibility of our twisting scripture to suit our own tastes due to our depravity. Or the possibility of embracing a flawed hermeneutic approach.

    Tradition can have value, but historical consensus cannot rule the day. Jesus had some harsh words for those whose traditions were out of synch with the heart of God.

    Reason is a gift from God, but not all supernatural events can be understood completely by reason. If they could there would be no mystery or faith involved.

  143. “I used to play God but I can’t do that any more. I used to believe that pagans in far-off countries were lost and were going to hell—if they did not have the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached to them. I no longer believe that,” he said carefully. “I believe that there are other ways of recognizing the existence of God—through nature, for instance—and plenty of other opportunities, therefore, of saying ’yes’ to God.”

    -Billy Graham

  144. I hope that quote by Billy Graham is fake news.
    For Billy to think that recognizing the existence of God through nature is enough is absolutely non Christian.
    No preaching? How do you get the person from the impersonal God of nature to Jesus Christ?

    Jews say yes to a god and no to Jesus
    Muslims say yes to a god and no to Jesus
    Hindus say yes to a god and no to Jesus
    Buddhists say yes to – well I don’t know who since Buddhism really isn’t a “god” religion – but they say no to Jesus
    I can go on. I have often said that nothing surprises me any more – guess what?

  145. That quote was from 1978. Here’s an article from 2011:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2011/03/billy-graham-and-inclusivism/

  146. MLD,

    Maybe Billy was just affirming that men can respond to the revelation of God in nature who are in far off pagan cultures, since God has a heart and unlimited means to reach all.

    God indeed does use preaching and we need to obey His commands to preach, but His hands are not tied when it comes to reaching men.

    Perhaps this response on their part opens up further revelation such as their conscience being awakened, or dreams, or other direct revelation in their coming to faith in Christ.

    Did not God call Abram (later to be called Abraham) while he was still living with his idol worshipping father Terah?

    God seems to have come and spoken with him directly.

  147. MLD,

    “For Billy to think that recognizing the existence of God through nature is enough is absolutely non Christian.”

    Or maybe the Apostle Paul was too restrictive. Come to think of it, it looks like the first three chapters of Romans got it all wrong.

  148. A Believer – yes – and could God just as well have an angel appear to the likes of Joseph Smith with a true revelation? — or perhaps Revelation in a fortune cookie?

    God appearing in the OT is Jesus.

    I don’t want to botch it up so my witnessing is going to be left at “hey, take it up with God directly. 😉

  149. Jean – there you go reading only the ink parts of the page. If you want to know the true meaning of those passages you must include the white spaces also. 😉

  150. MLD,

    Maybe recognizing God’s existence is a good start.

    Did not Paul say that those who come to God must believe that he is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him?

    What if God puts truth in all men that can be responded to and more revelation will follow.

    The Gospel of John talks about Jesus “lighting ever man that comes into the world”.

    What does this mean to you?

    The Gospel of John also says,

    “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

    In Romans, Paul segueing with what John wrote says this,

    “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who SUPPRESS THE TRUTH in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest IN THEM, for God HAS SHOWN IT TO THEM.

    For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although THEY KNEW GOD, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

    It looks to me like all men are given light by God and are held accountable to respond to it. If they do, more light is given with the end being further revelation leading to faith in Christ.

    If they don’t they are plunged into further darkness.

    An example of this would be Cornelius’s journey to faith in Christ.

  151. “and could God just as well have an angel appear to the likes of Joseph Smith with a true revelation?”

    Well Joseph’s angel contradicted the scriptures in so many places, so, there is that…..

    Of course witnessing is important and that we share the correct gospel content! Fortunately that has been clearly spelled out for us.

    The point was in the absense of us doing our job, God’s hands are not tied. That does not minimize the urgency of our obeying Christ’s command to preach.

    Faith comes by hearing, but God has many ways of speaking.

    Jesus appeared to Paul in very dramatic fashion and taught him the gospel directly. He also seems to have spent about 17 years in the wilderness with him showing him how Biblical his new understanding was! 😉

  152. AB.
    “Maybe recognizing God’s existence is a good start.” God’s existence is self evident in nature – everyone believes in a god – that’s why virgins get thrown into volcanoes.

    “An example of this would be Cornelius’s journey to faith in Christ.” – if I remember, Cornelius was a god fearer from the beginning – but God didn’t speak him through the process – he went to Peter and spoke to him (a Christian) in a vision and Peter went the normal way and preached Jesus (not the God of nature) to the household. And in the end, Cornelius and his posse knew and confessed Jesus as Lord. They were not anonymous Christians.

    All normal stuff you would see any day. (and all men are given the light of God)

  153. The concept of redemption being a possibility for those who have never heard the gospel is much easier to actualize if one can accept that the Church is a special (VERY special) work in the plan of God….
    That said, for the most part I think that those who adhere to religions that are man-made such as ML D noted are unlikely candidates for said redemption… for a lot of reasons
    Paul told the Greeks (think it was greeks) that he was going to reveal to them their “unknown” God… surely those seeking God are not satisfied with their make-up God’s and religions

  154. The church is a special work in the plan of God. He created it with Adam and Eve. It grew to 8 by the time of Noah. It has survived all the way to today. It has carried the Gospel from the promise made to Eve, through Noah and the Patriarchs, fulfilled in Christ, and then proclaimed by the Apostles and on to us.

  155. I think Romans 1:20 and the surrounding verses explain the point pretty welll…
    Science has busted its gussets trying to disprove that God is plain to be seen in the natural world .. God says those deny-ers are without excuse… His words seem pretty severe in the Romans ref.

  156. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

    Not everyone believes in God. “The fool has said in his heart there is no God”. (Proverbs).

    They may have originally believed, but their wickedness has hardened them and led them into darkness.

    Odd that Paul made believing in God a prerequisite, not a given.

    It just makes my point, that like Cornelius, responding to the light given brings more light.

    Also, you stated that Billy said that recognizing God’s existence was enough for salvation, but I don’t think that’s what he was implying.

    “…and plenty of other opportunities, therefore, of saying ’yes’ to God.” is also what he said but he didn’t really clarify what that meant by that.

    I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt on that one. I think he didn’t choose his words carefully in that quote.

  157. as I said, Jean, the Church (the born again ones that have been tasked with representing the Kingdom until our Lord calls them away) is not comprised of all Believers down thru time as I view it…
    The doctrine at your 154 shared by tradition down thru these thousands of years is not one that I think correctly defines the Church… for me, you have defined Believers throughout all ages, tho…
    You have taken a seat among the teachers that deserve the respect of all of us, so… I’ll just sit out here in this limb of the Faith tree that resonates with my soul . 😊

  158. Em,

    This is a thread, and now blog, that welcomes all views, so welcome. But, since you seem to feel the need to express your nontraditional, recent innovation, in virtually every thread, I’m sure you will respect those who oppose it.

    The Lord, Jesus, did not create the earth, and then become incarnate of the dust of the earth, with the intention of removing His people from His own creation. It not just a difference of opinion, it is downright offensive and non-biblical. Until I get kicked off this blog, I won’t remain silent.

  159. MLD,

    Since you brought up angels revealing things to people and the Book of Revelation, …

    “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—”

    While us delivering the gospel may be the normal method of delivery, it looks like God still has other options!

  160. AB – “Odd that Paul made believing in God a prerequisite, not a given.”

    There is a difference between believing in a god and believing in God (the one true God) – the faith is given by God so that one can believe.

    I think what is lost here is when we say “we get the light” (whatever that means) and then we come along – I really am not comfortable saying we follow the light – we eventually know what it is, we know Jesus and we know we are saved – we are Christians.

    What Lewis is alluding to, and what Michael is advocating as a possibility that the noble pagan goes through life being that good person – gets eaten by a Sabre Tooth Tiger and God has saved him for his good intentions, good heart – whatever it is, but he never knew Jesus.

    That is my objection.

  161. AB, you hung around Santa Ana long enough to know what that angel is – I think they said it at the beginning of each show – the TBN satellites. 🙂

  162. Em, and there in lies our difference. 1st church service was in the garden – Adam & Eve and God.
    Some others hold the view that when Israel rejected the kingdom offered by Jesus, he moved to Plan B and created a church.

    I guess we can pick and choose.

  163. I think that if anyone, in any religion is truly and humbly seeking God, Christ will be revealed to them.

    Also wanted to point out that Christ is the God of nature, among other things.

  164. Joel,
    “I think that if anyone, in any religion is truly and humbly seeking God,”

    I brought it up earlier – what do you do with the Paul passage in Romans 3 where he quotes Isaiah to make the point that no one seeks after God. They hate God and are in rebellion to God. This is why Jesus had to come in search of us — because in a million years we would not look for him.

    Now people do seek after little g god – sex, drugs and rock and roll.

    This is why Luther wrote in the small catechism of the 3rd article of the Apostle’s Creed – “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the
    forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

    What does this mean?
    I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.

  165. MLD,

    “the noble pagan goes through life being that good person – gets eaten by a Sabre Tooth Tiger and God has saved him for his good intentions, good heart – whatever it is, but he never knew Jesus.”

    I would also object to this as you describe it. I’m just not certain that is what Lewiswas advocating.

    I do agree with Joel’s statement above adding that it is God, by His Spirit, that prompts us to seek Him. Without this, no one would ever seek Him

  166. AB,
    I too agree that Jesus prompts.
    There is no disagreement if the totality of the conversation is that the noble pagan is drawn to Christ by whatever means, he recognizes Christ as his savior by the preaching of the word and in the end confesses Christ as Lord. That describes us all.

    Here is my objection to Lewis’ comment;
    “There are people in other religions who are being led by God’s secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity, and who thus belong to Christ without knowing it. ”

    What other religion has anything in common with Christianity if it does not have Jesus Christ? What is in common that saves – Bingo? Pot Lucks? – and lastly, they belong to Christ and don’t know it??? Is Jesus that inconsequential that he comes into your life and you don’t know it? Really?

  167. MLD,

    I’m in Illinois now. The only thing I see around me presently is cows. And you now what they say about flying cows!

  168. It seems like Lewis is describing the process of conversion. I do agree that at some point the process confronts us with the claims of Christ and a decision has to be made.

    Perhaps God sees the completion from the very beginning and calls us His own before we ever even know it. Give Lewis some wiggle room here! Lol.

    “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.”

    “Known to God are all His works from the beginning of creation “.

  169. MLD I agree that God is the primary mover in faith through His Spirit. Yes, He draws. We are also told by Jesus to seek and we will find. In the example given by Lewis above, it is the Buddhist teaching of mercy that clicks with the Buddhist. The Spirit has turned the Buddhist in the trajectory of Christ. If said Buddhist keeps seeking the Source of mercy He will eventually find Christ. It’s not about the pagan being good or noble, it’s that they have been drawn to a truth which has its source in the Truth, the Person of Jesus.

    I don’t expect I’ve got a perfect theology of God. I do expect that God makes up the difference for me by His Grace and Mercy.

  170. “We are also told by Jesus to seek and we will find.”

    Jesus is speaking to believers.

  171. #158 Jean, Your restatement distorts what I said… I have however, stated that, in the progression of time as earth’s history progresses, the Church is a special born again body of Believers with a distinct task … that task will be completed and God, our Triune God, will call the Church out prior to pouring out His prophesied wrath… That is not the end of the world…
    Your tribe says no, that’s not the way it is? I am not offended by that… Your side has your argument – well presented and my side has made its argument also well made (obviously poorly represented by me, however)
    You will have to deal with your sense of offense… I have not offended our Lord, although one of us will be surprised … eventually … .
    I don’t think you need worry that Michael will ban you for being offended by me… he might ban me for not apologizing for offending you, however
    Trying to multi-task here… so I hope I’ve said what I meant…

    God keep –

  172. MLD likes to show disdain by referring to the dispensation view of the Church as “plan B”… I think we all know that the omniscient God has only one plan… I am willing hiwever, to accept dispensation view as “view B”. 😀

  173. Jean ok thank you. And according to Lewis there are believers that don’t know it yet. I agree with him.

    *running for cover*

  174. Jean and MLD thank you for your patience with us. You guys hold our feet to the fire and are great teachers. I hope you both don’t get too exasperated with us.

  175. So good to hear from A Believer.

  176. “We do know that no person can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved by Him.”

    Another fascinating quote by Lewis.

    I doing a little looking, it appears he was indeed an inclusivist.

    From Theopedia:

    “Inclusivism posits that even though the work of Christ is the only means of salvation, it does not follow that explicit knowledge of Christ is necessary in order for one to be saved. In contrast to pluralism, inclusivism agrees with exclusivism in affirming the particularity of salvation in Jesus Christ. But unlike exclusivism, inclusivism holds that an implicit faith response to general revelation can be salvific. God expects from man a response proportional to the light given. Saving faith is not characterized so much by its cognitive content as it is by its reverent quality.”

    Apparently the Anglican theologian John Stott also held this view.

  177. “Saving faith is not characterized so much by its cognitive content as it is by its reverent quality.”

    It seems as though many who do not hold to this view, apply it anyway to their infants who die.

    Gees! Sometimes I just shake my head at our ability to think we know everything.

    “If any man thinks He knows anything, he knows nothing as he ought to know it.”
    -The Apostle Paul

  178. Thanks Josh!

    It’s been a while. I had today off, it is 10 degrees below freezing outside and the topic was hard to resist!

    While some things Lewis suggests I am unsure of, I have always enjoyed his writings.

  179. A very interesting discussion today!

    My grandfather passed away a number of years ago after having not been a believer (though going to church to appease his wife). Before he passed, I had written him a very long letter trying to persuade him, but as far as I know he never made a decision for Christ. As far as I could see (only Jesus knows the heart) from some of the conversations I had with him along these lines is that he just didn’t see how it was all real (he seemed to think Christianity was just wishful thinking). He was what i would call a “simple man” with “simple thinking” and he honestly was not a very “intellectually smart man” (I think he only had schooling up to like 5th grade when he had to go to work). He grew up in a VERY abusive home at a time when WW1 was raging and then went right into living through the Great Depression and WW2. He was a pretty harsh and crotchety man. The church he attended with his wife was a church that I personally visited and found to be the worst church experience I’ve ever had with seemingly a lot of religious fakeness going on.

    Here’s my dilemna: A lot of churches talk about Jesus and so forth but American Christianity as a whole often doesn’t paint a very compelling case that it IS ACTUALLY REAL AND GENUINE! It is entirely conceivable to me that my grandfather could have sat in church for years with his wife and never REALLY heard about and seen clearly demonstrated a God that deeply loved him and hated the things that happened to him as a child and wanted relationship with Him and wanted to help wash away the pain of the past, etc.

    Even as a 95+ year old man when I talked with him, you could tell he was still basically just a 9-year-old-boy abused by his father and that he never got over that, and he never saw much really compelling in Jesus. He was still basically a scared and hurt 9-year-old boy in the shell of a 95-year-old man.

    Right before he died, we came to see him in the hospital and he was not conscious, but I begged him in his last moments even then to turn to Jesus and choose Jesus as His Savior. A few hours later he passed away. I don’t know if he’s with Jesus or not right now. And I have long ago just committed him to God.

    But here’s the thing, I’ve always been pretty tow-the-line doctrinally conservative, but I myself have found myself wondering things like Michael has brought up. The more I’ve grown in Jesus over the years, the less sure I am about a lot of things. I definitely will stand on the core tenants. But there are enough things over the years where I used to think one way on something that God has shown me something else on, that I’ve learned to be open to some things too.

    My grandfather honestly came across less as guy who would just never believe because he didn’t WANT to believe in Jesus, but because he never saw a compelling reason to and felt a lot of it was just fake phonies because that’s what he personally saw and also because he just never got over a lot of his childhood trauma (a LOT of people I believe have a hard time coming to Jesus for this reason…they get bitter at God early on because they equate it as being God’s fault since he allowed it). Like Michael with some that he’s known, I also have a hard time on a personal level putting my grandfather in the same boat as Stalin or the like.

    I see nothing wrong with hoping that my grandfather is with Jesus regardless – that God knows his heart and the whole situation and can sort out what’s what and where things stand.

    And I won’t lie, I’ve found myself being a heretic 😉 and even praying for him after the fact and putting simple faith that when Jesus sent His disciples out into the world after His resurrection and said “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” (John 20:23) that as I prayed even after the fact (Jesus is outside of time…) for my grandfather and forgave him his sins in Jesus’ name, that those sins are forgiven. I’m probably a major heretic on that and I am *NOT* comfortable really defending that position. But I also wouldn’t be comfortable, as I would have once been, adamantly shooting down something like that either.

    I choose to believe that God is good and loving and mericful and that HE wants my grandfather with Him even more than I do.
    I do believe in hell and that ultimately those that reject Christ are there. And I’m willing to accept that my grandfather might be one of them.

    It’s been years since I read Mere Christianity, but I remember that I thought there were a number of things Lewis said that I thought were rather “iffy” in it (and this would be one of them), but like Michael and Lewis, I’m not so sure that there’s not more nuance in the whole picture though than what we have historically made it out to be.

  180. Chris your Grandfather reminds me of mine. Very simlar life experiences and views. He could never get over the idea of hell. He walked out of church and never came back. He had depression and this affected his outlook on life as well. I don’t doubt for a second that both of them are in the presence of Jesus.

  181. Chris,

    Thank you for your thoughtful, heartfelt post.

    So much to consider there.

    I see no harm in holding on to the hope that your grandfather is with the Lord. There is no way we can know what transpired in his last moments. As I see it, God could very easily have spoken to his heart and revealed Himself and His love for him in his last moments.

    I believe that whatever hurdles there are to overcome in bringing one to faith, God is more than willing and able to overcome them!

    As much as the church can suck at times, I don’t believe that, ultimately, there will be any legitimate excuses when all is said and done for those who are lost. God will be vindicated when all is finally known.

    Jesus never said the reason people reject Him has anything to do with anything other than a love for darkness. I’m not saying that is the case with your grandfather.

    I think your post resonates with many of us, as we all have loved ones who do not profess faith in Christ. Pondering their fate is heart wrenching!

    For me, I fall back on what I know to be true of God and His love and willingness to save all. It sounds like you are doing the same.

  182. Thanks AB! I absolutely have told myself the same regarding the last moments. With anybody, we never actually see the heart, and even though we might THINK we know what a person believes, we don’t necessarily know what’s really going on in the heart even potentially in the last moments of life. God’s the only one that really knows such things.

    You said “As much as the church can suck at times, I don’t believe that, ultimately, there will be any legitimate excuses when all is said and done for those who are lost.”

    See that’s what gives me pause because I agree with that and yet sometimes when I look around I wonder if given the circumstances here that some people have had, they really had a real fighting chance to even come to Jesus. I mean if for instance God is portrayed to a person by a church as basically being a mean taskmaster and you need to turn to him and follow all of His rules or burn in hell, rather than a loving God that made them and deeply loves them and wants relationship with them and is for them (not against them), then I understand why some people want to run from a God that’s portrayed as just a giant meanie throwing people in hell. Who wants to follow a God like that? I don’t!

    But then I have to ask myself If such a person never even had a real accurate portrayal or good case made for them and seen it testified out in the lives of believers, how much of it is really THEIR fault if they don’t believe? Now Paul says creation itself testifies and I’ll grant that. But maybe then perhaps a person is willing to believe in God and yet because of the way He’s been portrayed they just have turned off?

    I don’t know – but I do agree with you that: (1) God WANTS ALL with Him, and (2) There won’t be any excuses when all is said and done for those that are not. I guess I just wonder sometimes if maybe because of #1 and the fact that God knows all the nonsense that goes on down here, if there’s more that goes on than we maybe see or know as a part of #2.

  183. Duane, thank you for this fascinating read.

    https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/salvation-christ-comparative-christian-views/13-those-who-have-never-heard-survey-major

    What I’ve learned from this is that there is a wide range of views of how, who and when God saves within orthodox Christianity. Most of them have have solid support IMV, although I find the Calvinist approach as described here to be the most cruel (sorry Michael). I think Inclusivism comes closest to to truth.

  184. Testing. Trying a post from my iPhone as the last one didn’t work.

  185. Hey Chris,

    It’s my belief that God is powerful enough to overcome even gross misrepresentations of Himself. A flawed church is not the only means available to Him to make His love and goodness known.

    The Apostle Paul said that it is God’s goodness that leads men to repentance.

    Even in this fallen world, there is much of God’s goodness to be seen. It’s not really that hard to find. Even in America, there are many churches getting much right when it comes to being ambassadors for Christ.

    As you know Chris, there are so many stories of those who have discovered God’s loving grace even in the most horrific of circumstances.

    I thought my life was pretty bad, yet Jesus revealed Himself to me in a supernatural, loving way right when I was at my lowest point. I don’t think I’m all that unique in that respect.

    Don’t we have countless testimonies of similar stories down through the ages?

  186. AB, Yes. Though He does first and foremost work through the Church – that’s why we’re His physical body here supposed to be doing His work. I’m not as positive about the state of the American Church as you are, but yes there’s certainly lots of good stuff going on too. Jesus can certainly meet people where they are at also and I do agree that He can operate independent of us silly little humans here too.

  187. I like Lewis in some ways myself. I had a long diatribe filled with unique “brianisms”. I deleted that post. I think Lewis did what he could with what he had at the time. Most of us can do little more.

  188. All I can say is that there is a lot more religious superstition being expressed here that Christian doctrine. I realize around here that doctrine seems to get seated further and further in the back of the bus, but can’t we at least hang on to a little?

    It is pure superstition to say “I can’t believe in a god who would ‘do this’ or ‘not do this’. When you say that god wants everyone with him, why doesn’t he have everyone with him? Is there something preventing that? Based on what is being said here about the noble pagan (because god wants all to come to him) if god is loving, why doesn’t this god just unilaterally scoop everyone up into heaven?

    I find that those with such opinions hold a very low tolerance for the doctrine of original sin. Are we actually separated from god or not? How does the noble pagan even know this – can you tell by looking around the environment? If I am not told that there is a separation between me and god (the preaching of the law) what is the lure for me to look into this god concept (the preaching of the gospel?) Nothing! Personally, I needed to be told I was separated from god (the first day I walked into church, I had no idea that me and god weren’t buddies – what a shock it was to me after a couple of weeks hearing and reading the word. You needed to be told – we all needed to be told.

    So how are we to get this information? Paul spoke to this. Now he could have said – “god will handle it”, but that is not what he said.
    Romans 10:14-17 – How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

    Let’s end the superstitious wishful talk. Let’s end the white spaces speculation. Let us just look to what has been revealed to us in the word.

  189. MLD,

    “Let’s end the superstitious wishful talk. Let’s end the white spaces speculation. Let us just look to what has been revealed to us in the word.”

    What is in the ink portion of the Bible is pretty darn great: mercy, grace, the forgiveness of sins; eternal life; all for the sake of Christ who died as a ransom for many. God is just and the justifier of the ungodly.

    Why are we looking at the white parts of the Bible, when the story in the ink parts is amazing? Has God not done enough for sinful humanity?

  190. Jean,
    “Has God not done enough for sinful humanity?”

    Not when he is pitted against what I think is right.

  191. Is it possible that God, in His great mercy, could and does on occasion send dreams, visions and missionaries to those in foreign lands so they might hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, repent of their sins, and be saved. Yes, it is more than possible; we know this happens.

    But what of people, even beloved relatives, who have lived in America and have heard about Jesus all their lives yet stubbornly refused to believe in Him and repent? These people are not in the same category as the “righteous pagans” who were rewarded by a visitation from God. These people are Christ-deniers. We may want a special pleading because they are dear to us and may tell ourselves “Oh, Christ revealed Himself to this person at their last gasp” but this is wishful thinking. Can it happen? Sure. Should we build a doctrine around it? No.

  192. I would suggest that Jesus and His Gospel have been so distorted by the actions of those who claim to be His that in His mercy He often does things to bring His own to Himself that don’t fit the standard mold.

    That doesn’t mean we disavow the standard teaching of going and preaching…it means that there is always hope in Christ.

    There is no doctrine that can be built except that which is already known…that Christ is both just and merciful.

    I will continue to do what Christian thinkers have done from the beginning of the church…think and discuss these things in hope hope of knowing Him more.

  193. My best friend from childhood was friends with a family who were very involved with a local small church. He was a late teen at the time. Long story short, the father had an affair, wife did, too… Youngest daughter turned out a mess. Family fell apart. It was a horrible witness, and my friend was ever after turned off by church, and isn’t a believer. The hard part is being of the mindset, “that’s his choice for which he is responsible.”

    Jesus spoke of hating loved ones and following him. Pretty harsh, but he’s God, yes?

  194. What Christian thinkers have done through the centuries is create heresies in their constant quest to know more than what God has rightly revealed.
    Jesus cannot save people who turn from him – check out the pericope of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem.

  195. we don’t know for certain who is among the redeemed – we just don’t know with certainty…
    i will say that people who are turned off the Christian faith because of the Christians they’ve met are probably not searching for God in the first place, rather they are looking for an identity…
    i firmly believe, as Xenia expressed above, that if you have a heart longing for God, Himself – for a reconciliation to your Creator – God will find you by one means or another…
    having said that, i have to wonder how many are in the Kingdom today because of someone’s fervent prayers for them to find salvation… i cannot just say that God will find His own, so just let Him take care of that thing…
    Can you imagine yourself in Eternity asking God why your child or even your neighbor wasn’t saved and God answering you, “Did you pray for him/her?” and you answering Him, “I thought that was your job, Sir?”

  196. #194 – we can conjecture as long as we’re hemmed in by the essential sound doctrines… there is enough to explore among the truths that God has revealed of Himself to us to last several lifetimes and we should be doing so… IMNSHO

    i think we all would agree with MLD that Jesus cannot save those who see Him and then turn from Him… but we must also not forget that just showing up for church on Sunday doesn’t make one a redeemed soul either… like the preacher said, “spending time in the garage doesn’t mean you’re an automobile.”

  197. Em,

    “we don’t know for certain who is among the redeemed – we just don’t know with certainty…”

    In my tradition we do.

    Here is our simple doctrine:

    Faith + (or in) Christ’s promise = certainty.

    “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

    +

    “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,”

    = certainty.

    Isn’t our God the King great, and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable? Yes, he is!

  198. “What Christian thinkers have done through the centuries is create heresies in their constant quest to know more than what God has rightly revealed.”

    Some have.

    On the other hand, many have stayed within the bounds of orthodoxy and given us great insights into the heart of God.

    Some folks are only comfortable with certainty in all things, some us are more comfortable with mystery and holy possibilities.

    I’m good with both…

  199. “Jesus cannot”

    Those two words together are the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard or read.

    Love wins

    He cannot be thwarted

  200. ( |o )====:::
    So Jesus could have saved Jerusalem, because Love Wins – but he chose not to because … love wins???

    “And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

    That is such nonsense to think that Jesus can do anything – even go against his promises and his nature. Strange Jesus you have.

  201. Michael – “On the other hand, many have stayed within the bounds of orthodoxy and given us great insights into the heart of God.”

    It’s not a matter of certainty at all – it’s a matter of source. If it is coming from what God has revealed, I am all in. If it is from digging into the unknown secret things of God — count me out.

    Deuteronomy 29:29 = ““The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

  202. Jean thank you for reading my thoughts… I would agree that there are days points by which we can know for certain that we ourselves are redeemed… I was attempting to observe that we cannot know for certain the eternal destiny of every person walking the earth…

  203. data points, not day points… Got caught by this infernal tablet again

  204. MLD,

    You believe that the interpretation of the Scriptures and the doctrinal formulations of confessional Lutheranism cover all the bases.

    That is a fine and orthodox Christian stance.

    I have much respect for our Lutheran brethren…but I disagree with them.

    You have found a home and I’m thankful to God for that…I’ve found one too…in a different neighborhood… 🙂

  205. Michael – I do not believe that the our interpretation of the scriptures and the confessions cover all the bases. The cover the bases God wants covered.
    There is much mystery in Lutheran theology — but we live with it. Whers scripture ends, we end the conversation.

    My standby example. It is clear, very clear to all that Jesus said to eat and drink his body and blood. None of us have any idea how that works, other than to believe that is what the bread and wine are and obey the command of eating body and blood under the statement “do this.” On the back end he says that this is for you (all those who do it.)

    Done deal end of story – I walk away from the altar, cross myself and go sit down. Now you know that nowhere in the Bible does it say how that works – and a Lutheran does not ask.
    Others do, and they search their reason, they search other people’s reason – they make the case for why it can’t be as it says etc. And some have come up with pretty wild endings. The issue is that they strayed from the source.

    The same is true with these teachings about the anonymous pagan.

  206. Can I assume that G at 199 is responding to a couple words he pulled out of my 196?
    “Jesus cannot?” not absurd at all. ..
    What Jesus will not do is anything counter to His holiness, His character… so perhaps it falls under the philosophic umbrella, can God create a rock too heavy for him to lift? Yes, He CAN, but He WILL not do so because He is too smart to do so…. 😜

  207. Em, G is too nice to go after you. He is tracing me and my #194

  208. The body and blood properties of the Eucharrist are so important to those traditions who interpret them as real in the bread and wine… I’m sure they’ve constructed their arguments overcoming the fact that ingesting blood has been forbidden in Scripture….
    I guess my husband’s family, avid hunters for generations, make terrific blood sausage… Roman Catholics, they’ve made their peace with the Church somehow… course, we’re not under the law anymore….. dunno. …?…

  209. #207 … You may be right…. I always thought that G took delight in nailing the resident church-lady here. LOL 😇

  210. Em, this is what I mean about searching our reason instead of accepting scripture.
    1.) If Jesus says to eat it, you eat it. We saw that example in John 6 where Jesus said eat my body and the multitude, that would be those using their reason instead of obeying Jesus – left him thinking that they were keeping the law better than Jesus. Have you ever wondered why Jesus didn’t chase after them (probably laughing) shouting, “guys, come back here, I didn’t mean literally eat my body and blood – I was just using a metaphor, symbolism – you know, I got loose with my speech.” Now here is where you need to picture Bill Murray in your mind, playing Jesus and saying “Come back here you crazy guys!.

    2.) You cannot deny the very words Jesus used.

    Follow my point because this is the very way that CS Lewis got to his point of Jesus saving people and they don’t know it.

  211. But, in the other hand, MLD, it is conceivable that those disciples understood that Jesus was telling them that in doing this you will (and should) be remembering My sacrifice – the cost of your propitiation….
    that said, if your interpretation were wrong, I am certain that God Who knows our hearts loves those who follow with reverence and sincerity the interpretations such as yours and, if on the other hand, you are correct in what you see as the efficacy of the elements the elements will perform the same work in those of us for whom the bread and wine are symbolizing the cost…I
    the oven is beeping and I must go … Friday is fish might at our house

    God keep all close this night …. praying for those threatened by the brush fires and by the politicuans, too. 😀

  212. I don’t know that you get a free pass if you deny it.

    Could you imagine if someone denied baptism saves – even though that is what the scriptures say? Unimaginable. But like myself, I am sure that you too have heard the stories of these deniers who hold reason over scripture. 😉

  213. I believe God is the primary mover in Baptism and the Eucharist. Just because I didn’t believe that for a time didnt make it not true. Even the Lutheran church recognizes Baptisms done in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in evangelical churches who put as much emphasis on the one getting dunked as the Holy Spirit.

    Now let’s take this concept a step further… If there’s no bibles or Christians around to share the Gospel and the pagan is drawn to Christ but mistakenly (by no fault of his own) seeks Him in his own religion, wouldn’t Christ still be saving Him?

  214. “I believe God is the primary mover in Baptism and the Eucharist.” – I know that you believe this now because you have been exposed to the truth of real Christian teaching (called Lutheran doctrine in some circles 😉 ) – but as I have always said, those who don’t believe it at the time are deniers. Yes truth is truth and will always be truth if we believe or not. Is there any difference with those who deny the divinity or trinity of Jesus? This is still true whether they believe it or not. Are they still Christians in good standing – or are they deniers?
    You are right that Lutherans accept all trinitarian baptisms because we know – but what the evangelical has done is deny what has been done for them – and now when they become Lutheran, they learn what was true by our acceptance. Try that in reverse order of a Lutheran or RCC coming into the local CC or generic evangelical church – no way Jose.

    Evangelical teaching knows nothing of Jesus being the primary mover in Baptism and the Eucharist. It is just the opposite, these are acts I do in obedience.

  215. JoelG – to your 2nd point = “Now let’s take this concept a step further…”

    Are you suggesting that we no interaction with the one true God, with no preaching about Jesus or no Bible reading about Jesus, that the noble pagan can know about Jesus to actually seek him?

    This is why the Lewis teaching is so dangerous – because it makes it favorable to search other sources (other religions, philosophies, thoughts, your own reason etc.).
    Why not stick with the Bible. Read Acts Eight – it answers this very question.
    1.) Somehow the Ethiopian pagan came in contact with the Book of Isaiah.
    2.) He decides to read it – perhaps for no other reason than curiosity of what a great book of history had to offer.
    3.) God’s word by itself, in it’s own power works faith in people – enough to move them to the next step.
    4.) We see in the passage that the pagan, the non believer cannot figure it out on his own, but he has been changed some.
    5.) Now, God, as he does, sends the promised preacher – I had already quoted above the Romans Ten passage beginning with the 14th verse “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?…” (check it out, because this is that fulfillment.)
    6.) The preacher explains, and the Ethiopian pagan now understands – here he has the believe part down and searches for the waters of baptism so that God, through the preacher in this case, the church in the future can complete the justification process.

    So why do people look elsewhere for answers. In short, your example of the pagan stumbling on Jesus on his own is not possible.

    You have good thought rolling around in your head. 🙂

  216. Thank you MLD. Good points.

    “Are you suggesting that we no interaction with the one true God, with no preaching about Jesus or no Bible reading about Jesus, that the noble pagan can know about Jesus to actually seek him?”

    I think (hope based on God’s Goodness in a fallen world?) that the Holy Spirit draws people to Jesus regardless of the availability of preachers and bibles.

    From Duane’s link:

    “The issue involves a large number of people since a huge part of the human race has died never hearing the good news of Jesus. It is estimated that in the year AD 100 there were 181 million people, of whom one million were Christians. It is also believed there were 60,000 unreached groups at that time. By AD 1000 there were 270 million people, 50 million of whom were Christians, with 50,000 unreached groups. In 1989 there were 5.2 billion people with 1.7 billion Christians and 12,000 unreached groups.[3] In addition we could think of all those who lived prior to the incarnation who never heard of Israel and God’s covenant with them.”

    So what do we do with all of these beloved folks in light of God’s Goodness and Mercy?

    “This is why the Lewis teaching is so dangerous – because it makes it favorable to search other sources (other religions, philosophies, thoughts, your own reason etc.).”

    I wouldn’t say Lewis makes it favorable. I would say He proposes the Gospel of Jesus transcends DESPITE other sources. I realize this is more hope and reasoning than anything else.

  217. Joel, I think we see through this story that the Holy Spirit did call / move the Ethiopian either to his word or through his word. But it was specific and a preacher was sent.
    It is not a possible way among many. The Holy Spirit does not do a razmataz and then drop someone into Hinduism to find Jesus.

  218. I will go one step further, although it will probably get me into more trouble. I don’t think its outside of the realm of possibility that God saves people who are affected by depression (and other mental illnesses), whether caused chemically or by life experiences, who never are quite able to live a life that looks anything like a Christian life.

    I may have really gotten myself into the weeds with this one. 😉

  219. MLD I get where you are coming from… leave the mysteries of God to God. And I think that we need to hear that. And I appreciate your’s and Jeans teaching. It keeps us on the Narrow Path. I just can’t help pondering and hoping.

  220. regarding those of us not finding justification in Scripture for the real body and blood of Jesus in the Eucharist, MLD asks, “Is there any difference with those who deny the divinity or trinity of Jesus? ” might want to rethink that comparison… if it’s a tenant of Lutheranism, i would suggest that they all might want to rethink that comparison…

    FWIW many have been saved who are not Christians – was Abraham a Christian? is he one now? … God is not too impressed with nice, He looks for penitent and humble hearts… i guess if i wanted to do a MLD example on that statement, i would say that Joseph Stalin could have been saved if he’d repented… was he? i wouldn’t bet my pension on it, but he could have been

  221. was Abraham a Christian? is he one now? <<<

    Yes. Between the Crucifixion and Sunday morning, Christ was in Hades, preaching the Gospel to the Old Testament saints. This is called the Harrowing of Hell.

  222. Becoming a Christian can be quite a journey and you can be coming out of all kinds of situations and thinking. As God reveals himself, you may still be in a cult or living in great sin. You could be in a situation that God does not approve of, but He could be working, speaking to your heart, pulling you towards him. My journey to God was a bumpy road filled with sin and error and darkness and yet my heart turned to God in the midst of it and I would often sit and read chapters of Scripture because I was so drawn, but I didn’t understand it and certainly wasn’t living it in the spirit. It wasn’t for almost another two years that the light went on and I got saved, but all that time God was pulling me and I didn’t even know it. And even after I got saved, it took a while to figure out what God required of me.

  223. Praise God MJD. You are a living miracle that glorifies Jesus.

  224. “FWIW many have been saved who are not Christians – was Abraham a Christian? is he one now?”

    Is that even a. serious question? LOL!

    “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.”

    The entire 8th Chapter of John is relevant.

    The answers are yes and yes.

  225. “56. Your father Abraham. He grants to them, in words only, what he formerly took from them, that Abraham is their father But he shows how idle is the objection drawn from the name of Abraham “He had no other object,” says he, “during his whole life, than to see my kingdom flourish. He longed for me when I was absent, you despise me when I am present.” What Christ here asserts concerning Abraham alone, applies to all the saints. But this doctrine has greater weight in the person of Abraham, because he is the father of the whole Church. Whoever then desires to be reckoned in the number of the godly, let him rejoice, as he ought to do, in the presence of Christ, for which Abraham ardently longed.”

    – John Calvin

  226. Xenia, glad you clarified as i wasn’t implying that Abraham was lost… He is now a follower of Christ as God incarnate, so i guess that does technically make him a Christian 🙂

  227. yes, Jean it was a serious question – it was too shorthanded for this discussion, but it was addressed to the question that has been rattling around this thread as to the necessity of having the gospel preached and accepted in order to be among the redeemed… did Abraham know as he walked the earth that the Son of God would incarnate, go to the cross in obedience to the Father, be crucified and in doing so would settle the sin debt against man? i don’t think he did; perhaps he did, but i doubt it.
    How much Abraham knew, how much any of the characters of the O.T. knew of the plan of God, i don’t know… It says that Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness… (that belief manifested itself in a man’s ham handed, but sincere obedience – a great story) … Abraham knew and certainly knows now that God will yet reign over mankind as King of kings and Lord of lords… He knew who was boss 🙂

  228. Read John 8 and believe!

  229. amen, MJD

    “1. I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
    he moved my soul to seek him, seeking me.
    It was not I that found, O Savior true;
    no, I was found of thee.

    2. Thou didst reach forth thy hand and mine enfold;
    I walked and sank not on the storm-vexed sea.
    ‘Twas not so much that I on thee took hold,
    as thou, dear Lord, on me.

    3. I find, I walk, I love, but oh, the whole
    of love is but my answer, Lord, to thee!
    For thou wert long beforehand with my soul;
    always thou lovedst me. “

  230. Abraham was in Hades? Who else? How, then, to explain the transfiguration?

  231. read John 8, Jean 🙂
    doesn’t say anything about Abraham being a Christian or knowing that God the Son was to be crucified – while Abraham walked the earth as a mortal God may have let him in on the coming crucifixion, but we don’t have anything that tells us that He did so…
    we have hints that came later (in the prophets, i believe, i’m not a teacher) that Jesus would come twice… “cursed is anyone that hangs on a tree” is as close as you can come, but that doesn’t say that Abraham knew his savior would so die…
    if it is important to you to see Abraham knowing as he sojourned here that his Lord would come twice, first to die, resurrect, ascend to the Father and then return to reign at a later time, well i don’t see a need to argue the point… go right ahead and believe that … could be… dunno… could be

  232. Hades does not translate ‘hell’ – i believe it is/was the holding place of the dead… nowadays the redeemed gone on ahead wait in a place called Paradise… sounds nicer than hades – dunno

  233. Who is MJD? Michael Jordan’s Disciple? 🙂

  234. Why ask MJD who?

    When you can ask MJB why? 😉

    https://hiveminer.com/Tags/coffee%2Cmjb/Recent

  235. Em, your thoughts are caught up in your 2 people’s of God theology.

  236. Em, if the redeemed departed are in a holding area called paradise, who are the sainted Marty’s before God’s throne in the book of revelation?

  237. Well, this thread has traveled around a bit. However, all topics seems to end up with Lutheranism hammering on something. Usually the dispies.

    http://wp.production.patheos.com/blogs/jacksonwu/files/2017/10/Luther95theses-e1507278751145.jpg

  238. A Believer,

    It’s not that Lutheranism is hammering in the sense of being argumentative for no particular reason, but that we are trying to draw people back to the Word of God and away from speculating about God’s justice, grace or mercy.

    Lutherans believe that human reason must submit to the Word of God for two reasons:

    (1) Human reason is incapable of understanding the unsearchable wisdom of God; and
    (2) Human reason is corrupted by the fall, so that what God views as just, human wisdom is just as likely to view as unjust; and visa versa.

    There is a tremendous amount of “judgment” about what God things about various things and very little rejoicing in fear and trembling about what God has actually said.

  239. Human reason seems to equate with the inability of the fallen world to grasp spiritual truths for our Lutheran bretheren…. it is our egos we surrender to God, not our ability to think…
    we all would concede – I think – that we are called to renew our minds… you know that part of our being that processes concepts and facts… ? ….
    No matter, if one grasps the gospel and embraces said good news, it is well with the soul….

  240. Jean,

    Don’t take me wrong. I, as well as many, if not most here, agree that scripture is authoritative.

    As you well know, there are many different hermeneutic approaches out there all advocating that they are the correct way of seeing and interpreting scripture.

    It can be very daunting to the average layman in determining the best approach.

    I respect that both you and MLD feel you have found the correct way of looking at things in Luheranism. I myself was raised for 20 years in the Lutheran tradition and found very much valuable there.

    I’m sure your desire to correct others here is born out of a desire to preserve them from error and it’s consequences. You both obviously care!

    But I would caution you both to watch out for a condescending or mocking tone that belittles or mocks others who have come to hold other perspectives.

    As far as faith and reason are concerned, I don’t necessarily see them as contradictory.

    God said, “Come, let us reason together…”

    In sharing our faith, Paul instructs us to be prepared to give to every man a reason for the hope that lies within us.

    Yes, humanity is fallen and without God’s convincing work in man, they would not come to Him. But I see nothing in the scriptures that say God will not use reason or evidence as part of the process of conversion.

  241. “As far as faith and reason are concerned, I don’t necessarily see them as contradictory.”

    Faith and reason are completely opposed to one another. This is shown all over Scripture.

    Two examples:

    “And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

    “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

  242. Jean,

    I think we agree that secular wisdom is being described in that verse.

    I would like to hear your take on the verses about reason I quoted before we go down this path.

  243. I think the charge is putting reason above the scripture.

  244. MLD,

    Yes, I agree. I’m not sure I’ve seen anyone here advocating that.

    Speculating and wondering about things that are too deep for us to fully comprehend, …yeah.

  245. Ok, I’m finally irritated.

    I’ve only explained this about a dozen times but one more can’t hurt, I guess.

    Anglicans use Scripture, tradition, and reason to formulate doctrine.

    Of those, Scripture has the primacy and the use of the other two cannot contradict clear teachings of Scripture.

    I’ve about had it up to here with the Lutheran notion that anyone who disagrees with the doctrines they came to in the EXACT same way is somehow “unbiblical”.

    It’s nothing more than confessional fundamentalism and it does little more than create ill will.

    Lutheranism has distinct doctrines that they arrived at using the same methods…they just came to different conclusions about the data.

    I’m pretty careful to suggest that the doctrines of my tribe are fallible…they simply make the most sense to me after my study.

    We may be wrong…but we at least try to engage other traditions with some grace.

  246. That still doesn’t explain The Transfiguration. That being said, debate about where old testament saints has no bearing upon our current faith.

  247. Michael,
    Its pretty difficult to have a conversation here if the tagline must be “you believe A and I believe B, but it’s OK, we are both right” and be done.

  248. My grandparents who came out of the Holiness movement, ending their lives as Nazarines were friends with the retired Presbyterian pastor next door, the Episcopalian priest across the street and the Roman Catholic priest who led the largest church in town… They all treated Grandpa and Grandma with the utmost respect. The assistant minister of the 5’000 member Presbyterian church I attended would regularly come and pray with Grandpa saying it strengthened him to spend time with the old man… I
    Not one of these men who served God made any attempt to convert my grandparents, nor would they have wanted to trade their doctrines for Grandpa’s… It was interesting that these men all recognized another man of God – this was decades before John Paul II

  249. MLD,

    Unless you’re willing to condemn the rest of Christendom to the pit, there really isn’t an alternative.

    I love Anglicanism, but even within Anglicanism we have different groups with different emphasis…and I love that.

    Now, somebodys wrong about something….but I don’t think we’ll know who until we get home.

  250. I think “confessional fundamentalism” is exactly right.

    You can be a fundy and also have a liturgical form of worship.

  251. Well said Michael.

    My only issue with Jean was his apparent conflation of reason with secular wisdom.

    That creates huge problems with our understanding of how we come to know things.

    Logic and reasoning can and are used in conjunction with the Spirit to convince us of the truth of Jesus.

    Jesus himself is the Logos (Reason) of God incarnate and God uses testimony presented in both the Old and New Testaments as evidence in persuading men.

    Paul seemed to have no problem in using logic along with the gospel to try and persuade King Agrippa of the resurrection of Christ.

    “Why do you think it a strange thing that God should raise the dead?”

    If the premise that God is all powerful
    is correct, then it follows that the resurrection is not impossible.

    In many places in the book of Acts, we see Paul spending a great deal of time in reasoning with both Jews and Gentiles.

    I don’t like seeing reason and logic being vilified unecessarily.

    I see them as being gifts from God and as with all gifts they are capable of being abused.

    We defer to scripture as being the final authority, yet even they are built on the foundation of Christ’s authority which is linked to historical facts concerning the resurrection and the proof of them.

    These proofs hold up to sound reasoning and logic so it’s difficult to accept the idea that using reasoning and logic are unbiblical or they they are opposed to faith.

  252. Someone show me where Jean or I have condemned anyone to the pit. To lay such a charge is to attempt to gain the moral theological high ground.
    And what is the name calling about being a fundamentalist? Are you saying you hold no fundamentals as true?
    I often heard in years gone by that we label those who believe the Bible more than we do as fundamentalists.

  253. Michael,
    We also have variant theological groups within the name Lutheran – and several are genuine apostate groups, such as the ELCA. I am not going to wait around until glory to see which one of us is right or wrong. I speak up.
    I don’t believe you when you say all Anglican group / variations are acceptable.

  254. MLD,
    In discussing with Em the possibilty that she may be wrong about the real presece of Christ in the Eucharist a ways back up this thread you said,

    “I don’t know that you get a free pass if you deny it.

    Could you imagine if someone denied baptism saves – even though that is what the scriptures say? Unimaginable. But like myself, I am sure that you too have heard the stories of these deniers who hold reason over scripture.”

    It could be me, but that looks like a pretty thinly veiled threat concerning the likelyhood of some kind of judgement.

    What did you mean to imply by that statement?

  255. “…For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not carnal?” (1 Corinthians 3:3b-4 NKJV)

    I dare say MUCH of the church body is “carnal” given this (not to mention other things).

    I’ve been in lots of different parts of the Body (from ultra-conservative to those wild charismatics) and I’ve found that pretty much everyone thinks they are the ones with ALL the revelation and everyone else is misguided at best or of the devil at worst. Personally the more I’ve grown with Jesus and the more I’ve seen different parts of the Body, the more I’ve realized that He works in all those other places too and that they have something to offer the Body as a whole too. It’s like each part has their puzzle pieces and they all think they’ve got the whole, when really there’s lots of different pieces and one part of the Body might emphasize one thing and have one piece, while another has a different emphasis. We as a Church always go to extremes where it’s always black-and-white: “I’m right, you’re wrong.” I’ve been finding out more and more that both can be right and both can be wrong at the same time.

    We all want to think that where we are/have chosen to “set up camp”, regardless of persuasion, is the RIGHT way and that everyone else must be off. Oftentimes though, I believe it’s real easy for pride to creep in where one puts the denomination/church they attend in a much more important role in their heart then it should be.

    While all segments of the Body think they are the ones with the right understandings, some are much more gracious about interacting with other parts of the Body than others. And not meaning any disrespect to the resident Lutherans here, but just as a general statement, my personal experience (having grown up in the Lutheran church) is Lutherans as a whole (and conservative wings specifically) tend not to be in the “more gracious” camp.

  256. Chris Long@255

    Reminds me of another guy who said, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.” That term “Christ” I know you know is “anointed”, greek equivalent of “messiah”. From culture wars to church, so many of us want to get on our high white horses and proclaim our “messianic” revelations. So many do and say “Touch not God’s anointed”. Everyone has their anointed schtick. The Spirit is here! The Spirit is there! This person is so anointed!

  257. Chris Long, you are not being very gracious. :-).
    Are you certain about you last post? Remember, certainty is not allowed here.
    And then I ask, is there any doctrine that might get brought up that you would stand against and tell the person they are wrong and if they pushed back you would restate your claim with more intensity?
    Might I suggest an example? You Christian buddy brings up the doctrine the Mary is our intercessor to Jesus and is the co redeemed with her son? Would you argue wrong doctrine, that your view is correct or just nod it off as, yes, we all have a bit of the truth?

  258. AB, oh how I miss our long late afternoon phone calls of years gone by.

    My point with Em is that you can’t just dismiss doctrine because some believe one way and some believe another. This is why I brought up those who may deny the trinity and divinity of Jesus – are they so called Christians in good standing or not?
    The are consequences to what we believe and what we deny. Perhaps not consequences that toss you in the pit as some accuse, but consequences that may lead to other such problems.

    Since you brought up the dislikes earlier, there denial that all prophetic passages have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ by his first coming and work on the cross has led to this continuing doctrine of the 2 people’s of God and, well the whole dispensational system – because of error on one point.
    Happy Sunday all!!

  259. If anything CS Lewis perfectly lays out the election (predestined) argument in a precise understandable way!

  260. Let’s look at what I actually said….just for sport.

    MLD said:

    “Its pretty difficult to have a conversation here if the tagline must be “you believe A and I believe B, but it’s OK, we are both right” and be done.”

    I responded:

    “Unless you’re willing to condemn the rest of Christendom to the pit, there really isn’t an alternative.”

    I didn’t say that anyone had condemned anyone to the pit, simply that it was the only alternative to recognizing that differing views can be orthodox.

  261. “Are you saying you hold no fundamentals as true?”

    I’ve said about hundred times that L affirm the early creeds and confessions of the church and the 39 Articles of the Church of England.

    “I often heard in years gone by that we label those who believe the Bible more than we do as fundamentalists.”

    What that actually means is that you hold to your sects interpretations of Scripture more strongly than I do. I I gladly concede that point…

  262. I used to post here a lot. It definitely exposed me in a healthy way to varying viewpoints within the Christian community.

    My engagement on this thread brought back many memories.

    But it also brought on a kind of sadness. I think a part of me believed it was possible for us to achieve some kind of unity in Christ that allowed for some diversity.

    I think I am losing that hope.

    You would think we could find at least one rallying point! Maybe a verse like John 3:16.

    “For God so loved the world that He gave His Son, that whoever would believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

    Our varying hermeneutic and epistemologic approaches lead us to all kinds of different conclusions even on that one simple, yet profound verse.

    It seems the best we can hope for is that this place can be a forum for healthy debate about the things that really do matter.

    A place where we can advocate our positions as effectively as we can in the hope that it somehow makes a positive contribution in the lives of others.

    Somehow it needs to be done in a way that people feel safe in expressing their views. We need to be kind, humble, and thoughtful in our discussions with one another.

    More than ever, as I age, I find myself resonating with Paul’s words, “All I know is Jesus Christ and Him crucified for be.”

    May God help us. I believe that He is and will continue to do so.

  263. Some here need to read Augustine – “I believe [faith] that I might understand [reason]”.

  264. I’ve got to take a break. I feel like I’ve said WAY too much. My brain hurts!

    Blessings All

  265. MLD @ 257: “Chris Long, you are not being very gracious. :-).”

    I assume you’re referring to my Lutherans statement and all I can say to that is “I calls it as I see it.” 🙂 I could be overly generalizing, but all my experiences have backed up what I said in that sentence.

    “Are you certain about you last post? Remember, certainty is not allowed here.
    And then I ask, is there any doctrine that might get brought up that you would stand against and tell the person they are wrong and if they pushed back you would restate your claim with more intensity?”

    Of course MLD. But here’s the thing. When we’re talking about believers, one can state their opinion on something without condemning the other person. One wants to believe that Jesus is physically present in the elements, fine, but why does that have to condemn me as a heretic and perhaps not real member of Christ’s body who might just end up in the pit if I don’t? (for the record, I’m not saying that I don’t – I’m just using this as an example). I’m not saying you always say such things directly, but it’s sometimes implied in the way things are phrased.

    Sorry dude, some people take their doctrine a little TOO seriously….
    Doctrine’s important but it doesn’t override me recognizing that my fellow brothers and sisters might not agree with me and they still are God’s kids too. And a little humility in recognizing that one’s beliefs just might be wrong could go a long way too.

    Since you like to pose questions, let me pose one to you:

    You’ve said before that you used to tow the evangelical line and believed all that full-on. Then 13 years ago (I think that was the #) you in some way (I don’t know or remember the details) came to a place where you decided lots of that was nonsense and Lutheranism was where the real deal is. So here’s my question: If you could be duped once before (I’m using how I think you see it) and buy into everything evangelical, what makes you so certain that you aren’t being somewhat duped now by buying into all things Lutheran? Doesn’t basic logic based on your history dictate that some good humility is in order because you could be mistaken?

    We’re all on this journey and we’re all trying to figure things out and make sense of our world in light of Scripture and how it all fits together. We’re all on this journey. What I love about people like Michael is they are willing to adjust beliefs along the way as God shows them things or they see things in Scripture they didn’t see before. The people that scare me the most are the ones that already think they’ve got it all figured out.

    I’m glad you’ve found a place that you like. Many of us have found other places. Just as you were in evangelical circles and then went Lutheran, I started Lutheran and on my journey with Jesus went evangelical (among others). And I’ll tell you right now, that though there are certainly things I like about the Lutheran church and things I still miss sometimes, I am so glad I left because God showed me so much more outside of that Lutheran box. My point is that we all have a different journey. To you, you love the Lutheran mode and that’s fine – I have no beef in that. Me – God led me elsewhere. We can both be brothers in Jesus. 🙂

  266. I still think you all are missing the point. I know that you all have a point where you would say you are right and the other guy is wrong. So??? You draw the line in the sand at a different point than Jean & I do. Big deal.

    A further note, we have not called anyone here heretics, if any we have called out our own in the ELCA and many in World Lutheranism as apostates. Here, we just challenge conclusions and reasoning.
    I get told here all the time I am wrong and I don’t bellyache – I answer back.
    I am glad the church fathers didn’t this attitude at the council’s – “yes brother so and so, that is a strange take on the Trinity, but I guess we will include it in or Creeds as an option.”

  267. AB calls for unity – we are united in Christ – that is why we are still here talking to each other.

  268. Michael & Duane are a part of an Anglican branch that broke from a mainline Anglican branch I think within the past 20 yrs. Could you not have studied and fellowshipped with the main established body? Why the division – did you feel one branch was wrong and one was right? (and for the sake of unity, why not join the older more established body to show that the breakaway group is divisive and judgemental?)
    I don’t think look enough in the mirror to see their own similarities to me & Jean.

  269. To my knowledge Duane has not joined any breakaway group.

    I have not yet decided where I will land.

  270. My error then. You had discussed at some earlier point of studying to be a pastor in the ACNA.

    The Rev Eric Dudley in Tallahassee FL is my go to guy within that group.

  271. Duane,

    “Some here need to read Augustine – ‘I believe [faith] that I might understand [reason].’ ”

    This is exactly the point I was making last evening when I said that faith and reason are opposed to one another. I agree with Augustine’s statement.

    Paul also says this:

    “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”

    Spiritual discernment is a product of faith. But that doesn’t mean the “natural person” is going to all of a sudden start agreeing with the new being. The natural person is to be put to death, and he/she will not die willingly. Thus human reason must be mortified where it conflicts with faith and the Word of God.

  272. Faith and reason are always opposed?

    When he stood before the Diet of Worms, didn’t Luther say, “Unless I convinced by the Scriptures OR CLEAR REASON…”?

    How simplistic to say they’re opposed. Baloney.

    Don’t you Lutherans believe in Romans 2:14-15? Everyone has a witness to God’s existence. Doesn’t mean everyone is in Christ, for sure. But come on. Reasoning is something all possess. Just because it’s been twisted by the Fall doesn’t mean it’s been erased.

  273. Bob1,

    Romans 2:14-15 is part of Paul’s argument that all have fallen short of the glory of God and stand condemned without the Gospel. In particular is states that human beings have some natural law written on the heart, so that their acts and omissions sometimes excuse or accuse them; but they are by no means acquitted.

    The reason which opposes faith is in things of God. In things below, such as should I mow my lawn or pay the mortgage, I have reason.

    Reason got Jesus crucified. Reason will never support an empty tomb, incarnation of God, Triune Monotheism. God dying for your sins. Christ baptizing you into His death and resurrection. And the list goes on.

    Part of the problem is that America has created an American Jesus, who is reasonable and comports with what we would like to see in a Lord and Savior. But the American Jesus is just a reflection of ourselves; it is an idol.

    I pray that if our country continues to move in the direction of secularism and even opposition to Christianity, that the Church will reform its teaching about who the biblical Jesus is, because only the real Jesus can preserve us in a hostile culture.

  274. To Jean U would say bravo – but I think I will stick to bingo!!

  275. We all use reason, hopefully informed by the Spirit to decide which doctrines within orthodoxy we favor.
    I honestly don’t see how this is even debatable.

  276. Michael,

    We’ve been debating it for 276 comments.

    Here is Lewis from your original post:

    “There are people in other religions who are being led by God’s secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity, and who thus belong to Christ without knowing it.”

    Sounds reasonable. However, it is explicitly non-biblical. Thus, it is not orthodox.

  277. And that was my objection to the same Lewis passage about 100 posts ago. It makes no sense and you cannot come to that conclusion with ant amount of holy spirit led reason.
    With your own human reason, for some it makes all the sense in the world.

  278. It may not be. It may be error. I think it possible…and hope it is so.
    I certainly wouldn’t teach it as orthodox doctrine, but that doesn’t mean it is unworthy of thought or discussion.

  279. Reason got Jesus crucified? Reason fueled by arrogance and power lust…
    Reason fueled by humility and guided by God the Holy Spirit brings one to the cross gives life and peace…

  280. Michael,
    Many things would be nice to discuss and think about that are wrong (and that Lewis quote is wrong) – let’s next have a conversation on the benefits of Mary as co redeemer. It may not be orthodox teaching but as you say it could be true and we could hope for it. 😉
    I’d cut my losses on Lewis and move on.

  281. Go ahead. 🙂
    The problem with simply dismissing these conversations is that they also raise questions about the fate of the mentally ill, mentally disabled, infants, and unevangelized groups.
    I think it good to reason from the scriptures and tradition on these things.
    I also think my cats will go to heaven, except possibly Chester who drags my possessions into the cat box and fouls them.

  282. Reason got Jesus crucified? Funny, I thought it was sin — specifically, ours.

    Got a verse for your assertion?

  283. When one’s reason is guided by Scripture and the Holy Spirit one can discuss just about anything… exception being foolish ignorant controversies… the more reasonable reasoning, the better. 😇

  284. “Reason got Jesus crucified? Funny, I thought it was sin — specifically, ours.
    Got a verse for your assertion?”

    Yes:

    “But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

    ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
    what God has prepared for those who love him’ ”

    and

    “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

    ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
    and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’
    Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.”

  285. I think the “big” missing in popular evangelical theology is in regard to their favorite slogan: “born again.”

    Is there any content to that slogan?

    Because in the Bible, the new birth is the imputation of Christ’s death and resurrection. Now, if there’s a death, then it must be of the old Adam. He who usurped his vocation as a creature to become wise.

  286. Michael,
    We are not dismissing the conversation at all – we are engaging the conversation, how do you not recognize that? We are dismissing the Lewis quote.

  287. Stepping back and looking at God’s reason ( 😉 ) for paying our sin debt, makes it very reasonable that our our redemption would not be denied on the basis of never hearing or on the basis being incapable of processing the concept of depravity and remedy… God searches hearts…

  288. Last night I was simply objecting to the creation of what I consider to be a false dichotomy.

    To make an absolute statement that faith and reason are always in conflict seems ludicrous.

    Seriously.

    As though there are no other options.

    I do understand that there are certain contexts in which fallen human reason is in opposition to faith.

    But are we really unwilling to accept that there are times when they are not incompatible? Such as when Paul, led by the Spirit reasoned with Jews and Gentiles as recorded many places in the Book of Acts. Perhaps Paul was assuming the Spirit could enlighten their darkened minds as he reasoned with them.

    In think this issue is far more nuanced than we think. I don’t think it’s helpful to just repeat our standard mantras without considering or even trying to understand what others are saying.

  289. A Believer,

    I agree with nuance and not repeating mantras, however, if you’ve followed my comments, you should conclude that I back my positions with Scripture.

  290. To your credit Jean. Yes you did.

    I agree with you that in areas where reason and faith are at odds, we always fall back on scripture.

    We all need to make sure we are quoting the scriptures in their proper context and rightly interpreting them.

    That might involve some God guided reasoning, yes? 🙂

  291. A Believer,

    I agree that context is always important.

    I’m grateful for your comments. You add a lot to the conversation.

  292. It is sad that one must deny the second birth – a birth that is the work of the Holy Spirit, a real birth, a spirit birth… a treasure in an earthen vessel – so much dichotomy is raised in the Church because of our inability to agree on the conceptualizing of that new birth

  293. Who denies the new birth? – we see it at baptism, young and old. We saw it with John the Baptist at the beginning of Luke when he came in contact with Jesus.
    Jesus promised Nicodemus new birth in his baptism – we see new birth all over the place.

    Now to be fair so no one accuses this is a Lutheran teaching, I don’t know any Christian who denies the new birth. Are there names you are thinking of?

  294. HI A Believer, so good to see you!

  295. Good to see you too Dusty!

    I haven’t posted here for a very long time, but I do follow the comments here frequently.

    I’ve noticed and admire your faithfulness in being vigilant on the prayer threads.

    Blessings to you

  296. Michael @ 281 “I also think my cats will go to heaven, except possibly Chester who drags my possessions into the cat box and fouls them.”

    This seriously cracked me up! (Tho I feel for you! LOL. Have you tried sitting down and reasoning with him? “Now Chester, you know I don’t like it when you drag my slippers into your kitty box…” hahaha Or maybe threats would work better?)

  297. I’m finding the Buddhist following is loosely based on a bunch of dreams strung together. lol it is funny but at the same time sad so many are misled this way.

  298. I’ve always admired the Anglicans because they have some type of service where folks bring their animals for a blessing. Maybe Michael or someone else could chime in here.

    I fully believe there’ll be plenty of them in glory.

  299. A Believer said, “But it also brought on a kind of sadness. I think a part of me believed it was possible for us to achieve some kind of unity in Christ that allowed for some diversity.

    I think I am losing that hope.”

    please don’t lose hope….we are getting there! We are a LONG way from where we began. 🙂

  300. I feel sad that Jean and MLD don’t feel appreciated… is it because some of us cannot buy into the Lutheran interpretation of the Faith that they’ve become convinced is the highest and best one?
    Part of the journey and the joy as a Believer (a born again one from my vantage point) is discovering and growing deeper in understanding. For some this journey is punctuated by astounding miracles. For most it is a lovely, mostly mundane journey as noted in another thread here this past week.
    If we’d all step back, take a deep breath and think on it… I believe we all agree that God wants His children to grow spiritually… even if our doctrines do get skewed or we think the other guy’s doctrine is off… we may be surprised… come to think of it, some of us will most definitely be surprised… 😳

  301. Well said, John 20:29, well said.

  302. bob1, my old Lutheran church in SoCal does the blessing of the animals each year. I think it was more to bless them for what the have given and continue to give to their owners than anything about heaven.
    In the neighborhood it was always a good community activity and a good outreach.

  303. Em, where do you get the idea that Jean and I do not feel appreciated? This is not the case. We both have a weekly spot here at the PP, I speak offline to probably a half dozen people each week. I have perhaps a dozen Facebook friends who used to post here who no longer do who have adopted a Lutheran theology, some have actually become Lutherans.

    Much of my conversation here are for the eyeballs only crowd. Michael has created a great environment to feel appreciated.

  304. MLD has figured it out…we write for the lurkers.
    We have about 40 commenters…and a couple thousand regular readers.

    Everyone contributes to a larger group for edification..

  305. #303 – that explains it, then. 😶

  306. 304) And then there’s the oddballs like me who mostly lurk outside through the windows but occasionally come inside to play. 😉

  307. Chris,

    I appreciate both those who comment and those who just read…it all comes together nicely.

  308. I have invited 3 dispensationalist friends who used to post here to join the comments for the new Weekend Word articles on Revelation. I think it makes the conversation more interesting. We will see if they show up – But I think they have enjoyed the peace and quiet since they left. 🙂

  309. I want to take one last stab at the question of reason in dealing with biblical texts. I think no one can deny that this is reason being put over scripture. I took this from a friends FB page,

    “According to the Reformed, Christ cannot be at many altars at the same time, therefore the bread and wine of the Sacrament of the Altar is not the true body and blood of Christ. He is restricted and confined to a single location, being seated at the right hand of God.”

  310. #309 – yes, there are attributes of God such as His omnipresence that defy human reason and your example could fall into that category…
    on the one hand, one could also defend your true body and blood stand here by saying well, it’s not Jesus’ incarnate body and blood, it is a spiritual form of same… so …?
    on the other hand, where reason can be applied, it should be… i don’t think that the elements of the host fall into a category that will ever be proved or disproved by argument

    we, Lutes included, seem to hop back and forth between interpreting Scriptures and extrapolating that which molds into our doctrinal packages of choice… IMNSHO this morning

    Em’s last stab 🙂

  311. Em,
    “on the one hand, one could also defend your true body and blood stand here by saying well, it’s not Jesus’ incarnate body and blood, it is a spiritual form of same… so …?”

    In light of Duane’s current article on Irenaeus – your timing could not have been better. You may want to think that one again.

    But let me help you with what the reformed believe here that makes this such poor Christology. They do not believe that Jesus is present here on earth, so when they speak of the Real Presence they are saying when you take communion, you are taken up into the heavenlies to the place where Jesus is and there you are present with him – not the other way around.

  312. MLD, thank you for your help 🙂 it does seem that, if man can conceive it, there are those who will believe it…

  313. Em, as much as I consider the reformed view of the real presence in the supper wrong headed, consider this – they are much closer to truth than the evangelical who has no Jesus in or around the Eucharist … the real absence 🙂

  314. MLD, you don’t get it… but that’s alright with me, your viewpoints, your picture of evangelicalism, has been formed out of your own experiences – you must have been exposed to some sorry examples (they are out there) on your pilgrim journey to Lutheranism

    Jesus said that we hear His voice … that, ultimately is what defines us… not our attempt to codify our doctrines… nor our need to convert others to our more correct views
    i am indebted to you and other Lutes here for giving me a clearer picture of Lutheranism

    my focus over time has been on understanding the Faith and my own walk – it hasn’t left much time for the tenants adhered to among the various segments of the Church, i.e., when you say reformed, i think Dutch. it doesn’t bring to mind doctrines 🙂

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