Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

John MacArthur's Radical Re-Definition of Faith

It is beneficial to note that one of the problems of the Reformed theology of today, evidenced by John MacArthur, is the radical redefinition of "faith" to include works. Reformed writer Michael Horton showed quite aptly that MacArthur's insistance that faith = obedience equals works salvation (see post HERE for Horton's thoughts on John MacArthur).

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb 11:1).

John Calvin is very biblical in his definitions of faith:

"...as regards justification, faith is something merely passive, bringing nothing of ours to the recovering of God's favor but receiving from Christ that which we lack." (John Calvin - Institutes of the Christian Religion, III, xiii, 5

"In short, no man is truly a believer, unless he be firmly persuaded that God is a propitious and benevolent Father to him... unless he depend on the promises of the Divine benevolence to him, and feel an undoubted expectation of salvation" (Institutes III.II.16)

"Now we shall have a complete definition of faith, if we say, that it is a steady and certain knowledge of the Divine benevolence towards us, which [is] founded on the truth of the gratuitous promise in Christ" (Institutes, II, ii, 7)

These definitions of faith by John Calvin are light years away from those held in Lordship Salvation! (See also how Calvin believes that faith is persuasion, passive, and intellectual! For more on faith being the passive result of persuasion read my blog HERE)

John MacArthur's radical redefinition of faith is illustrated by such statements as these:

"A concept of faith that excludes obedience corrupts the message of salvation" (TGATJ 174).

"'Believe' is synonomous with 'obey'" (TGATJ 174).

Agreeing with Vine's : faith is "conduct inpsired by such surrender" (TGATJ 173, 174).

Saving faith is "unconditional surrender, a complete resignation of self and absolute submission" (TGATJ 153)

"He is glad to give up all for the kingdom. That is the nature of saving faith" (TGATJ 139).

"Forsaking oneself for Christ's sake is not an optional step of discipleship subsequent to conversion: it is the sine qua non of saving faith" (TGATJ 135)

Not one of these statements of John MacArthur is a true reflection of the biblical doctrine of saving faith. What these claims in fact reveal is a deep-seated fear of the total freeness of God's saving grace, as though that freeness subverted morality. On the contrary, it is precisely the wonderous unconditional love of God as expressed in the free gift of eternal life that is the root and cause of all New Testament holiness.

34 Comments:

Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

What awful teaching!

January 03, 2006 1:05 PM  
Blogger Adam Cummings said...

Oh please, Antonio. MacArthur does not teach a works salvation, and you know that (you are doing to him what those fakes in Scripture were doing to Paul while he was in jail). MacArthur simply refuses to preach the cheap grace of pure Arminianism, which--despite its claims--renders the work of Christ on the cross useless. Will not true regeneration bring about fruit (John 15:16)? Read James; you really wouldn't like that guy. For those who don't know about MacArthur, I highly recommend reading his actual writings in context, rather than taking the teaching of such a humble scholar out of context due to the random mumblings of a quite unorthodox blogger.

Antonio, horrible work. Praise God we have pastors like MacArthur, spurring people on to the work of Christ. I, like MacArthur, do not believe that works save. The thief on the cross is in heaven. But, out of a truly repentant heart will flow good works (read 1 John). See you around the blogosphere.

January 03, 2006 2:09 PM  
Blogger torn_aclu said...

Adam,

As much as I disagree with Antonio (who is one of softer free-gracers (theologically) I have met) asking him to read James is really going to amount to nothing. Even if his exegesis is wrong, he has written pages on his blog on James, far more than I have seen from you. You are going to need a little more than "read James" to defeat him. No doubt a correct exegesis of James will expose the truth, but a thorough and correct exegesis is what is needed. In my opinion MacArthur went a little wacko on this issue, but Hodges, and Antonio went farther in correcting him. I really think Antonio thinks MacArthur teaches a works salvation and MacArthur does come periously close. Regardless, I probably come closer to the theology you espouse than Antonio. Just keep studying and be careful of ad hominem.

Jeremy

January 03, 2006 4:46 PM  
Blogger Nate said...

Hey Adam,

If Antonio is in fact way off base and out of context with his qoutes, could you explain the context of these statements?

Or would somebody please do that?

January 03, 2006 4:49 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Antonio, torn_aclu wrote, "You are going to need a little more than "read James" to defeat him."

Do you think we have come to the place in Christianity that believers need to defeat each other?

What solution do you see to this kind of conflict?

January 03, 2006 5:04 PM  
Blogger torn_aclu said...

Whatever you want to call it. Defeating him, his theology. Maybe defeat wasn't the right term. I think the point is understood though.

January 03, 2006 7:15 PM  
Blogger torn_aclu said...

The solution? Prayer, time, and a correct exegesis of scripture.

January 03, 2006 7:16 PM  
Blogger H K Flynn said...

Hi Jeremy,

Interesting comments!

I'm a little surprised you call Antonio a soft free-gracer, I hope he doesn't hear that :) Did I read you right?

Jodie

January 03, 2006 9:44 PM  
Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Hi Antonio,

Thanks for this post. I wonder, though, if the Apostle Paul had the same hang up as you. E.g. 1 Thess 1:3 "your work of faith", and Rom 1:5 "the obedience from faith". And lets not forget the clear and repeated judgment according to works passages: Romans 2:6-10, 2 Corinthians 5:10 (and, e.g., Matthew 16:27).

* Saying the 'work' (Gk. Praxis) here in Matt 16 is 'faith' just don't cut it exegetically!

**. Nor will in work exegetically in Rom 2. "For he will repay according to each one's deeds: to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give eternal life" (Romans 2:6-7)
*** Nor in 2 Cor 5 "For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil" (2 Corinthians 5:10).

I never thought I'd want to speak up for MacArthur, but I suggest that you are misrepresenting aspects of the teaching of scripture (and trying in previous posts to make it say something serious exegetes never would), you are silencing the multi-coloured nature of the Word by focusing on one aspect and 'demonising' the other.

None other than the Apostle Paul sounds, in these verses, quite a bit like your opponent.

All the best,
and God's blessings for the new year.

Chris

P.S. Please don't just quote other Pauline verses back at me if you want to answer this comment, I know them. Deal with the verses I have cited. If you can?!

January 04, 2006 2:30 AM  
Blogger Adam Cummings said...

Jeremy,

You are right by saying "far more than I have seen from you", as I have not posted yet on James. So, forgive me if I'm not qualified to suggest he read James (which is what you seem to be implying).

Also, I would hardly call MacArthur "wacko" on this issue, since he is doing exactly what Scripture teaches (works flow from true regeneration). He is fighting against a culture that teaches an unknowing and non-sovereign God, a free and only slightly marred human nature, and a salvation that becomes real only after the person "accepts Christ". Hence, his emphasis on Lordship salvation (which is not, by the way, works salvation). There was one paragraph in his book "Hard to Believe" that was actually added by an editor and which made his teaching there sound like works salvation. The funny thing is, he didn't write that part at all (you can read about that at gty.org).

Jeremy, thanks for the concern and admonition, but, according to my understanding of ad-hominem, I had none in my previous comment. You can find many sermons, I'm sure, where MacArthur teaches about faith alone, just as many as teach on lordship salvation. To take a few comments and try to say that such a man teaches a works salvation deserves this review: horrible work. If Antonio cannot read James and take what he says at face value (even a superficial reading makes very clear James' emphasis on works), my deep exegesis would probably not help. God bless, Jeremy!

January 04, 2006 9:21 AM  
Anonymous andy said...

Adam,

Antonio is not the only one who has criticized some of John MacArthur's statements. What did you think of Michael Horton's criticisms which Antonio previously cited? John Robbins provides a lengthy critique on his website:
http://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/098a-TheGospelAccordingtoJohnMacArthur.pdf
Do you at least concede the Dr. MacArthur has made some unguarded statements regarding the nature of saving faith? Also see the HTML version of Robbins' article where he provides a postscript which evidently includes some of Dr. MacArthur's own comments.

January 04, 2006 9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is the article


Robbins Article

January 04, 2006 11:08 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Matthew, Thanks for visiting!

Adam, many in Reformed tradition I have talked to frankly admit to works salvation. One in particular I just ran into on this site:

Derek Webb Message Board

Theophile, who debated me here on my blog:

Bear Works or Burn Theology

Curtly says, after I charged him with works being necessary for eternal salvation,

"That is correct. So I ask you... so what? This has been the position of the Church since her earliest days. It is perfectly consistent with Scripture and Reformed theology. You're not accomplishing anything by convincing us of what we already believe."

This wasn't so shocking as you might suppose. This is just calling a spade a spade.

Following these quotes and several others like it:

There is a deadly and damnable heresy being widely propagated today to the effect that, if a sinner truly accepts Christ as his personal Saviour, no matter how he lives afterwards, he cannot perish. That is a satanic lie, for it is at direct variance with the teaching of the Word of truth. Something more than believing in Christ is necessary to ensure the soul's reaching heaven." (A.W. Pink as quoted by Iain H. Murray in "The Life of Arthur W. Pink" pgs 248-249)

"Reader, if there is a reserve in your obedience, you are on the way to hell" (A.W. Pink, "Studies on Saving Faith" Part 2, online edition)


He frankly states:

"I'm wondering why you would have a problem with the system you seem to be criticizing. I'm a Calvinist and I have no problem claiming the quotes you posted, without any further contextualizing.

The Bible seems very, very clear that works are crucial for anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ. You can't live in a manner antithetical to your calling and expect to end up in glory."

Some people aren't ashamed of their works-righteousness gospel. But MacArthur is really the one who is "Ashamed of the [true] Gospel"

Antonio

January 04, 2006 11:35 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Adam and Jeremy, are you guys fighting for the same girl ;~)

Jeremy, seems like wise words :)

Nate, it is clear that MacArthur just puts obedience and works (kitchen sink theology) into the semantical definition of "faith", so as to avert the charge of works-salvation.

But as Horton, in my previous post, has so nimbly and logically shown, this is nothing but works-salvation given in a less conspicuous package.

Antonio

January 04, 2006 11:43 AM  
Blogger Nate said...

I agree Antonio.

It seems though that the common reponse to this charge against Mac is "That was taken out of context", so I just want someone to show me how it was taken out of context.
GODBLESS,
NATE

January 04, 2006 11:50 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Joe, thank you for your wise words. I would answer this way:

2 Tim 2:24-26
And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

I admit, "I fail in this admonition at times" (In quotes so you can quote me on it later)

But at the same time:

Titus 1:10-11, 13
For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers... whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not... rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.

I am on record as saying that the Lordship gospel and the Free Grace gospel are not the same things. This is serious. They both cannot be right. Thus one or both are fatal to the believer in them.

Antonio

January 04, 2006 11:51 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

H.K.,

I think that he may have in mind those like Lang, Chitwood, Pember, Faust, and the like.

But, there is truth to the saying:

"Everyone driving faster than you is a maniac and everyone driving slower than you is an idiot"

Whether it is hyper or hupo Calvinism, hyper or hupo dispensationalism, or hyper or hupo Free Grace theology.

My view is the correct view of Free Grace theology ;~)

Antonio

January 04, 2006 11:56 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Chris,
Romans 1:5
'By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations.'
This is Paul's mission which is to respond to his faith by obedience. It does not equate faith and obedience as necessarilly contingetn things in any way.

1 Thess 1:3 concerns works that involve faith, not saving faith. It is eisegiesis to read saving faith into this text.

Romans 2 concerns the judgment of God on man's evil deeds primarily. Paul does not go into justification in this chapter. Verse 7 refers to rewards for service in eternal life, not eternal life in general (which is undeniably a gift according to 6:23. A gift is not a reward).

2 Cor 5:10. Yes, Christians appear before the judgment seat of Christ to be rewarded or to lose rewards. The Scriptures are clear that inheriting the Kingdom of God is conditional on obedience, but eternal life is a gift received by faith. The same with Matthew 16:27.

The doctrine of rewards for service in the Kingdom is seriously neglected by Christians, as is the doctrine of chastisement.

None of these verse that you cite negate the free gift of salvation or make eternal life contingent on works.

January 04, 2006 12:46 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Chris, you are welcome on my blog and your comments are as well.

You write:
----------
I suggest that you are misrepresenting aspects of the teaching of scripture
----------
May I suggest that the reason that you believe this is because I believe that you are not making critical distinctions in the bible, nor following the context thoroughly, nor critically thinking from an analogy of faith gained from the simple texts of the Bible.

What I mean by analogy of the faith is that one gains the milk throught the simple affirmations of the Bible. Using the more ambiguous and meatier verses of scripture to interpret the simple affirmations is wrong. The harder passages must be interpreted in light of the simple ones.

You therefore get to the position to answer any bible question thus:

I may not know exactly what this is saying, but it cannot be saying "this" for we are met with "this" in this simple passage.

Much false teaching comes by illegitametly equating things in the bible. This destroys the full impact of both unique issues that were equated (such as call to eternal life and the call to discipleship), and can fatally mar them.

You write:
----------
(and trying in previous posts to make it say something serious exegetes never would),
----------
What kind of tripe is this? What do you consider "serious"? Those only of the Reformed persuasion? The proof is in the pudding, not in commentary counting and traditionalism, but in a reasoned, well-thought out exposition of the texts.

Go over my posts and comment yourself on my exposition ("if you can!?") and show me my faults with your "serious" exegesis.

And as to your texts, you suppose they damage my position? They support mine.

Antonio

January 04, 2006 2:05 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

1 Thess 1:2-3
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father

This verse is full of the very versatile genetive. The following are all possiblities (the different kinds of genetives usually overlap):

A work coming from faith (subjective genetive)
A work with reference to faith (genetive of reference)
A work of faith (genitive of description)

None of this supports the idea of perseverance in faithfulness, obedience, and works.
Just merely Paul was thanking God for the Thessalonian’s volitional acts which they used their faith to produce.

For two articles on Romans 1:5 refer here:

Obedience of faith
Romans 1 and 16

Romans 6:ff

Two Free Grace interpretations are possible:

1) Since the subject of these verses is judgement, not justification, believers may be in view. That is, believers who continue in good works will receive rewards in the future since works are never the basis for receiving eternal life as a present, immediate possession, but will be judged at the Bema Seat of Christ (1 Cor 3:15; 2 Cor 5:10-11). When eternal life appears in the New Testament as a present possesion, it is received by the intermediate agency of faith in Christ, and as a gift. But when it appears as a future possesion it is based on works, referring to rewards (Gal 6:8; 1 Tim 6:17-19).

2) If anyone obeyed perfectly, by patiently persisting in doing good, then eternal life could be earned. Hence, eternal life is a future possession, because as long as the person lives he may not persevere perfectly. Unfortunately, Paul states later no one can accomplish such a feat: “There is none righteous, no not one…” (3:10). In the context it addresses the moralists who claim God’s favor on the basis of works. One can see grammatically the connection from v 5 to v 8 as each verse modifies the previous. In other words, Romans 2:6ff concerns the impossibility of justification by works. Compare verses 2:13 and 4:5. In Romans 2 Paul is confronting the self-righteous legalist who thinks he will be justified by hearing the law. Yet Paul insists only a perfect doer of the law will be justified (2:13; cf. Gal 3:10). Only by faith in Christ can the ungodly be justified (Rom 4:5).

1 Cor 5:10ff and Matt 16:27 consider the issues of eternal rewards. For a good article on the biblical distinctions between eternal salvation and eternal rewards, refer:

The Biblical Distinctions Between Eternal Salvation and Eternal Rewards

Romans 4:4, 5 “To the one who works, his WAGES are not accounted as GRACE but as DEBT. But to him who DOESN’T WORK, but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.”

January 04, 2006 2:56 PM  
Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Hi Matt,

GIVEN THAT'S ITS GONE ONE IN THE MORINGING HERE, I'LL POST MY RESPONSE TO ANTONIO LATER. ITS MOSTLY WRITTEN, BUT THEN A NEW POST CAME, AND I WANT TO RESPOND TO THAT TOO!

First, thank you so much for your comments and for dealing with the texts!

OK, now your response. You are in italics, I am bold – hopefully that makes it less confusing!

Romans 1:5
'By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations.'
This is Paul's mission which is to respond to his faith by obedience. It does not equate faith and obedience as necessarilly contingetn things in any way.

I wasn't claiming that faith and obedience are equated. Just that you cannot have one without the other. For Paul, faith and works are intimately related. Perhaps you misunderstood my intentions.

As for the translation you have adopted: there is a general academic "consensus that 'obedience to the faith' is not what Paul intended" (cf. Dunn, Romans, 17). For the best list of interpretive possibilities for this verse, see the magisterial commentary by Cranfield (vol 1, 66).

1 Thess 1:3 concerns works that involve faith, not saving faith. It is eisegiesis to read saving faith into this text.

No, sorry. If I understand you correctly, you are totally wrong here! There is no distinction in Paul between a saving faith and a faith which carries you through, as they were two different things!! You are the one guilty of eisegesis (not eisegIesis) here (cf. Col 2:6, and note that there is NOTHING in the literature of second Temple Judaism that would make such a bizarre distinction. The burden of proof, therefore, lies with those who would wish to say something else). Paul will speak more about faith in 1 Thess 3, were he writes of his concern for the Thessalonians: "For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith; I was afraid that somehow the tempter had tempted you and that our labour had been in vain." (1 Thess 3:5). Of course this is the faith referred to in 1:3 (cf. the flow of the whole argument in 1 Thessalonians).

And the point is, faith cannot be arbitrarily divided away from works. They belong together! Let me put a bit more strongly: for Paul, they belong together! Thus when Antonio approvingly cites Calvin who wrote "faith is something merely passive", he has problems with Paul! Work of faith! For more on this passage I do recommend the commentary of Charles A. Wanamaker, The Epistles to the Thessalonians, pg 74ff.


Romans 2 concerns the judgment of God on man's evil deeds primarily.

The passage that I cited in Romans 2, does, however, concern itself with more than simply the judgement of God on man's evil deeds. In fact, reread verse 7 and 9! I have no need to defend what the Word of God hear plainly says.

Paul does not go into justification in this chapter.

Are you sure? Have a look at verse 13!

Of course, he does not go into his teaching on justification in-depth yet, but Paul's argument in Romans is in accumulative one and these passages are FAR from irrelevant.

Verse 7 refers to rewards for service in eternal life, not eternal life in general (which is undeniably a gift according to 6:23. A gift is not a reward).


Notice that there is no mention of 'rewards' in this verse. Eisegesis again?!

But I'm not quite sure that I understand what you're trying to saying here. Perhaps you could clarify what you mean. But referring to 6:23 is missing my point. I totally agree, and rejoice in the fact, that eternal life as a gift. But we must also take these passages in Paul seriously if we want to be Biblical Christians and not merely to propagate a canon within a canon – i.e. taking those bits that are most comfortable and turning out brains off so we do not have to intelligently deal with other passages of scripture. I'm not saying that you are turning your brain off here, just that many do in relation to this verse.

Here is the verse once again: 2:7 "to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give eternal life".

2 Cor 5:10. Yes, Christians appear before the judgment seat of Christ to be rewarded or to lose rewards. The Scriptures are clear that inheriting the Kingdom of God is conditional on obedience, but eternal life is a gift received by faith. The same with Matthew 16:27.

Do you see what you're having to do in order to try to keep your theology safer from Scripture! Dividing eternal life away from inheriting the kingdom is just eisegesis. That is all! Once again, there is nothing in the literature of the second Temple Judaism to justify such a division – the burden of proof lies with you to show that this was what was in Paul's mind, and there is nothing to do that.

Let me make clear away I stand on this. It may, hopefully, show that we are not all that far apart after all. I'll do that by quoting one modern scholar, who I agree with on this, who writes the following: "Paul always assumes… a future judgement which will be 'according to works'. But he also insists that when someone believes the gospel, confessing Jesus as Lord and believing that God raised him from the dead, the future verdict is brought forward into the present…. 'Justification by faith' does not mean that God has decided that moral behaviour doesn't matter after all, and that the only thing matters is something else, called 'faith', so that as long as I have this 'faith' it doesn't matter what I do"

The doctrine of rewards for service in the Kingdom is seriously neglected by Christians, as is the doctrine of chastisement.

Yes, you are so right at this point. I recently was in mission in Russia among Christian groups, and this was one of the messages that the Lord laid on my heart for them.

None of these verse that you cite negate the free gift of salvation or make eternal life contingent on works.

I have no idea why you think I am trying to negate the free gift of salvation! It is simply that faith and works belong together and this I have demonstrated abundantly clearly from the verses that I quoted.



All the best Mat, and thanks for your comments.

January 04, 2006 4:40 PM  
Blogger Adam Cummings said...

Hey Nate, why depend on others? Read the sources yourself. I mean no disrespect, but I hardly think anyone wants to take time on a blog to list out every page quoted by Antonio and show, contextually, why it's true.

Antonio, as for your Arthur Pink quote: he was right on. As for that "reformed" guy you talked to at Derek Webb's forum, a couple of things: 1) MacArthur is not strictly reformed and his church is certainly not under that label (though his soteriology is very reformed) and 2) that guy is not MacArthur, so quoting him doesn't make a lot of sense. Let me make this clear: despite what you say, no good reformed theologian that I know of (I know of quite a few) teach a works salvation.

"You are My friends if you do waht I command you... You did not choose me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain..." (John 15:14, 16a)

Arthur Pink's point: "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" (Rom 6:1-2)

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them" (Eph 2:10)

"But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way" (Hebrews 6:9)

"What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?... Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself... For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead" (James 2:14, 17, 26)

"No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him... No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God" (1 John 3:6, 9)

"By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:2-3)

You see? MacArthur says what James says. There is a definite, emphatic connection in Scripture between faith and works. To say otherwise is, as Arthur Pink said, a damnable heresy. Works do not save, but they will flow out of a truly saved heart. Works prove your faith. The reason MacArthur identifies faith with works is because he is seeking to refute those who label themselves under a doctrine they know as "Pure Grace". They teach that one can be a Christian and yet not a disciple of Christ. They teach that Luke 9:23-27 only speaks of becoming a disciple, not a born again believer (the context does not allow such a ridiculous notion; see verse 25). MacArthur refutes this notion of cheap grace and cheap prayers, recognizing that works will come from belief. There IS a connection, and so he seeks to show that connection in dramatic ways. Trust me, I sit under the man's teaching at his own church every Sunday of my school semesters. He does not teach that works save, and he would decry any such teaching (email him yourself; go to www.grace.org). So, let's get something straight: when you know that MacArthur would tell you works do not save, and yet you seek to dissuade people from other teachings of his by teaching that he does actually hold to a works salvation... that is simply misleading, and people like that can't be trusted. In other words, Antonio, be honest. Email MacArthur's ministry and ask. You know what they'll say? "No, we don't teach that." If you don't like the way he words things, that's something entirely different. If you don't like his other teachings, that's different, too. If you continue to teach that MacArthur holds to a works salvation, I can conclude at least one thing: you are completely dishonest and untrustworthy. I'm not saying you are. But, if you continue this, then I'll be saying you are.

P.S. The book of James... a little wacko, isn't it? Jeremy, in all seriousness, I hope you'll stop by my blog sometime. I'd visit yours, but... didn't see one. ; )

January 04, 2006 4:58 PM  
Blogger Adam Cummings said...

Matt, just saw your post. I agree. : )

January 04, 2006 4:59 PM  
Blogger Adam Cummings said...

Doh, I mean Chris! I agree... (I'm going)

January 04, 2006 5:02 PM  
Blogger Charlie Wallace said...

A true Christian will obey through Christ's love in them. To say that "faith = obedience" is biblical. James makes this clear because of one's fruites. However, to say that "obedience = faith" is not. Just because one obeys God's commands, does not mean that one is saved, as any pastor could tell you by his experience in the local church.

As for MacArthur, I think he is indeed trying to fight against radical Armenianism and at the same time preaching to his flock what genuine faith looks like.

January 05, 2006 7:54 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Chris,

First, you need to calm your tones down. You need to be courteous here.

you write:
----------
Thus when Antonio approvingly cites Calvin who wrote "faith is something merely passive", he has problems with Paul! Work of faith!
----------
You don't understand what I mean by passive. I have written a piece on it on this blog, so find it and read it. In a nutshell, faith is exercised as a passive result of being convinced. Once one believes, he should produce works by it. I believe that our faith should be used for many activities for the Lord, and Matthew would agree.

Try to get some more understanding of Free Grace theology before you attempt to oppose it.

You write:
----------
I wasn't claiming that faith and obedience are equated. Just that you cannot have one without the other.
----------
This has been far undemonstrated and unsupported by you or any text. Romans 1:5 surely does not say this. Perhaps you ought to read the two articles I linked to.

you write:
----------
For Paul, faith and works are intimately related.
----------
This is actually displayed all throught scripture, but that I concede this happily does not mean I believe that works necessarily are produced by faith. They should be, we are commanded to add works to our faith (2 Pet 1:5-9, etc.).

you write:
----------
Notice that there is no mention of 'rewards' in this verse. Eisegesis again?!
----------
Brother, you are getting a bit colored here.

And there is no need to have the greek word "misthos" in a passage discussing rewards.

you write:
----------
But we must also take these passages in Paul seriously if we want to be Biblical Christians and not merely to propagate a canon within a canon – i.e. taking those bits that are most comfortable and turning out brains off so we do not have to intelligently deal with other passages of scripture. I'm not saying that you are turning your brain off here, just that many do in relation to this verse.
----------
You are getting yourself in very deep waters here. You are choosing to pit scriptures verses scriptures, where the result is that you walk away watering down all that you equate and mix together.

You have yet to make within your belief system a simple analogy of faith. For all I can see is the disharmony of what you say. This is saying "on one hand salvation is free" and "on the other hand it will take your works". This is not paradox or tension. This is contradiction. The simple affirmations of scripture are enough. Faith in Jesus Christ is not only necessary, it is enough, period. Yet when people add works to the equation, it makes Christ's death void. It add poison to the water of life. It is either free, or you can't afford it.

Eternal salvation is not contingent on either works on the front side or on the back side. Eternal salvation is passively received by the intermediate agency of faith alone in Christ alone apart from any consideration of works whatsoever.

If you add works in any sense, you have abrogated grace (Rom 11:6).

you write:
----------
Here is the verse once again: 2:7 "to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give eternal life".
----------
My question to you is, why is eternal life here in this context future?

The Gospel of John, which was written to bring people to faith in Christ for eternal life (John 20:31) every where states that eternal life is an immediate and present possesion to the one who exercises simple faith in Christ.

only two things can be adduced:

1) it is a reward
2) it is based upon perfect fulfilling of ever moral requirement of God (works-righteousness/works-justification before GOd)

You write:
----------
Do you see what you're having to do in order to try to keep your theology safer from Scripture! Dividing eternal life away from inheriting the kingdom is just eisegesis. That is all! Once again, there is nothing in the literature of the second Temple Judaism to justify such a division – the burden of proof lies with you to show that this was what was in Paul's mind, and there is nothing to do that.
----------
Brother, I think that you are saying things much to wonderful for yourself.

It is quite evident that the terms "enter" and "inherit" are astonishingly different. John 3 tells us that entering and merely "seeing" the kingdom of God is based upon simple faith in Christ.

Jesus makes plain in the beatitudes that faithful works result in ownership of the kingdom.

Jesus makes plain in Revelations that only the overcomer in the Christian life will be rewarded with inheriting the kingdom and rulership there.

Paul makes plain that perseverance in morality and piety is required for those who will "inherit" (not merely enter) the kingdom.

I see you are using blender theology in that you wish to equate many things, not being careful to "divide the word" and jumbling all things together as if in a blender.

That you equate inheriting the kingdom with merely entering it shows the lack of distinction and critical thinking in your mind.

One of the first rules of hermeneutics is the rule of affirmation. "Everything is identical with itself, or what it is, and we may affirm this of it."

Negatively stated, "It is erroneous to affirm the identity of two things unless Scripture does so". One must never say that two things are identical just because the reader finds them similar. In order for them to be identical, it must be affirmed that they are.

That is why one must distinguish between "like" or "similar" issues. For the understanding comes in the distinctions not in the similarities. This is "rightly dividing the word of truth".

For a Jewish perspective on issues concerning inheritance, see Joseph Dillow's "The Reign of the Servant Kings"

Your comments on 2 Cor 5:10ff reveal your neglect of rightly dividing the truth.

This is common in reformed circles, for they with their mouth claim that eternal life is by faith alone, but with their doctrine they betray a faith in works salvation.

Most explicitly in 2 Cor 5:10ff it says there we RECEIVE what we have done according to our works! John 5:24 says that we will not come into judgment concerning our eternal destiny, whether we will be in heaven or hell. This was instantly sealed forever the moment we believed in Christ and received eternal life and justification.

For you to say that 2 Cor 5:10 is anything other than an issue of believers at the Bema of Christ receiving rewards or dishonors is to water down justification by grace through faith and eliminate the doctrine of rewards.

you write:
----------
"Paul always assumes… a future judgement which will be 'according to works'. But he also insists that when someone believes the gospel, confessing Jesus as Lord and believing that God raised him from the dead, the future verdict is brought forward into the present…. 'Justification by faith' does not mean that God has decided that moral behaviour doesn't matter after all, and that the only thing matters is something else, called 'faith', so that as long as I have this 'faith' it doesn't matter what I do"
----------
Paul talks about a future judgment of believers for issues of rewards. Jesus says there is no future judgment of believers deciding their eternal destiny (John 3:18 (greek = KRINW); 5:24).

You also err in assuming that Free Grace theology states that it doesn't matter what you do after you are saved. We affirm the responsibilites of the children of God. We also have a biblical doctrine of accountability, that temporal wrath and displeasure of God is shown to wayward, erring, and unfruitful regenerate ones. His means by which He chastens can be heavy circumstances, sickness, and premature death. In the future judgment of believer's works at the judgment seat of Christ (BEMA), he can lose significant rewards, inheritance, glory, honor, and the opportunity to co-reign with Christ.

you finally write:
---------
I have no idea why you think I am trying to negate the free gift of salvation! It is simply that faith and works belong together and this I have demonstrated abundantly clearly from the verses that I quoted.
----------
You may not be "trying" to negate the free gift of salvation, but your theology functionally and fatally negates it.

Faith and works belong together, I agree. But not in a necessitating relationship. Faith does not NECESSARILY produce works. It should, we should expect it to. We were saved for a purpose of doing good works. But to say that faith will necessarily persevere in faith, good works, obedience to the end of life, is to make contingent our eternal destiny on those acts, and not fully on Christ.

For my discussion where I support my position that faith does not necessarily result in works see here:

Does faith necessarily result in perseverant works?

Antonio

January 05, 2006 10:26 AM  
Blogger Adam Cummings said...

Antonio,

What you say is fine and dandy, but no offense: it's not what Scripture says.

January 05, 2006 2:11 PM  
Blogger torn_aclu said...

To say that faith doesn't necessarily produce works is not Biblical in my opinion. Going back to the Philippians passage we talked about earlier, God does work the will of man in sanctification. Does he do this for just a few Christians or all of them? Well the specific passage does not say. Regardless, sanctification is ontological and a process. Some passages in the NT claim that a believer is already sanctified while others encourage him to press on in salvation, doubtless an allusion to sanctification. Since man is ontologically changed, what things man used ot do for himself a believer can now do for God and thus good works will flow. To say that they aren't necessary is to say that man is not ontologically changed enough, since man will do things for God once he has been justified. It is hard to nail done how much a believer has to work to show he is saved, and I don't think the NT really wants us to always judge that, but I still believe that works must happen because they will happen. I am not expecting perfection, but when one is justified he immediatley begins sanctification in one regard and thus it is impossible for him NOT to have some sort of good works for a Christian cannot continually sin after being justified.

Antonio, back to our discussion on Ephesians 2:8. In the end I thought you said that the this refers to salvation, becuase "thsi" either pointing backward or forward is meant to stnad in contrast to somethign that man cannot boast for. If you think the "this" is salvation, wouldn't you have to agree that salvation is masculine here and that the masculine participle can have pronouns that refer to it? If you think the "thsi" is salvation, is Paul thinking of the word "salvation" from earlier in the verse or is he suprising his audience and thinking of salvation generally and not the word in the passage?

January 05, 2006 3:20 PM  
Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Hi Antonio!

Well, you've managed to write an awful lot. Sadly I simply don't have time to engage with all your points, though I'm sorely tempted! But alas, the realities of life bite – I need to get real work done.

I'll use the italics / bold scheme as above with Matthew.

Chris, you are welcome on my blog and your comments are as well.

Many thanks!

May I suggest that the reason that you believe this is because I believe that you are not making critical distinctions in the bible,

I am not imposing foreign distinctions on the bible, no. I'm allowing the text themselves, understood in there original context, to generate these distinctions if they exist. And for Paul, faith and works belong together as the verses I have cited clearly demonstrate. Then what about those verses where Paul seems to play off works against faith? Confusion here is usually been generated by misunderstanding 'works' in Paul with 'good works'. By 'works', Paul means 'works of Torah'.

nor following the context thoroughly,

I have done my exegetical work actually! But the media my blogging isn't suited for going to as much details one would like.

nor critically thinking from an analogy of faith gained from the simple texts of the Bible.

This is just called a canon within a canon! One man's 'simple texts' are another man's 'confusing texts'. Who are you to decide which texts are the ones that are important and should be used to silence others?

What I mean by analogy of the faith is that one gains the milk throught the simple affirmations of the Bible. Using the more ambiguous and meatier verses of scripture to interpret the simple affirmations is wrong. The harder passages must be interpreted in light of the simple ones.

See above. Maybe your meat is my milk?

You therefore get to the position to answer any bible question thus:
I may not know exactly what this is saying, but it cannot be saying "this" for we are met with "this" in this simple passage.


Or if one starts with the other verses (which may be more clear to other people) then this line of argumentation could seriously backfire on you! What part of the verses that I quoted were you confused about? What bit of the passages wasn't clear? They were all clear to me! Crystal clear!

Much false teaching comes by illegitametly equating things in the bible.

Agreed. But that is not what was trying to do. I am trying to intelligently exegete Paul by taking on board ALL that he writes – and not frantically trying to explain away 'problem verses'.

This destroys the full impact of both unique issues that were equated (such as call to eternal life and the call to discipleship), and can fatally mar them.

Mar them? Only if it is brought together in a way foreign to Scripture.

You write:
----------
(and trying in previous posts to make it say something serious exegetes never would),
----------
What kind of tripe is this? What do you consider "serious"? Those only of the Reformed persuasion? The proof is in the pudding, not in commentary counting and traditionalism, but in a reasoned, well-thought out exposition of the texts.

What do I consider serious exegesis? Only reformed? Certainly not! I too believe it is in reasoned and well thought out exposition of the texts that matters. But this is exactly what commentaries are trying to do. Do you think commentaries are not about thoughtful exposition? You cannot play off commentaries from reasoned and well thought out exposition! I personally know some of those who write top level commentaries, and they are prayerfully attempting to engage with the texts – some of your earlier posts could have done with the help of some good sold academic commentaries to stop your flights of fantasy.

Go over my posts and comment yourself on my exposition ("if you can!?") and show me my faults with your "serious" exegesis.

Okey Dokey! (But I can hardly go into to depth here. I have a life apart from the computer … and a wife who will get grumpy with me if I spend too long here!) What about in your post: "Musing: Eternal life is Absolutely Free!" (I admit that I haven't read much more on this site), and your 'exegesis' of Matt 7:21-23: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?' Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.'"

You wrote of the verse: "This is the lot of those "Christians" who suppose that entrance into the kingdom is conditioned on works. They did "this" in His name, and "that" in His name and "these" in His name, but, they did not do the will of the Father, which is to receive eternal life as an absolutely free gift by faith alone in Christ alone, apart from works."

Driven by your ideological baggage you have managed to import so much foreign material into this passage that it would not be recognized by Jesus! Do a study, and don't be afraid of modern commentaries and as they are all trying to wrestle with scripture, of what the word poiew (doing, making) in 'doing the will of God' means in Matthew. Have a look at e.g. Mat 21:31. The problem was that they were evil doers, not that they were taking a particularly 'Roman' theological position. Notice the absence of Torah stipulations in this text also. It has absolutely nothing to do what you were trying to get it to say. But take your response to the commentaries – and use ones from various theological traditions. Whereas Jesus is talking about 'doing' (and cf. Mat 5:16), you're 'exegesis' talks about 'receiving'. Eisegesis. Your exegesis here makes your ability to handle scripture look rather questionable.

And as to your texts, you suppose they damage my position? They support mine.

Support?!!!

>>>>>>>>>>>

A new post has arrived! OK, lets get down to the nitty gritty!

1 Thess 1:2-3

This verse is full of the very versatile genetive. The following are all possiblities (the different kinds of genetives usually overlap):

A work coming from faith (subjective genetive)
A work with reference to faith (genetive of reference)
A work of faith (genitive of description)

None of this supports the idea of perseverance in faithfulness, obedience, and works.
Just merely Paul was thanking God for the Thessalonian’s volitional acts which they used their faith to produce.

I suppose that writing out the various possibilities of understanding of this genitive (not genEtive) will impress some of your readers!

Not me. In fact, the only problematic genitive here is the objective genitive ('tou kuriou hmwn Ihsou Xristou') and its relation to the lengthy object of the sentence (starting with umwn, working through the triad of faith, love and hope). The question is: Is the objective genitive modifying just the 'hope', or also the 'faith' and 'love'?
And this is a debated issue that most modern commentators ignore, but that is another subject.

After your totally irrelevant digression into the types of genitive possible you concluded in an odd fashion saying something I wasn't saying and concluding something I would conclude! My point was that Paul speaks of faith and works together quite unperturbed by your seal to drive such a strong wedge between for theological reasons. Perhaps Paul wasn't being theologically sophisticated enough! I have not the time to go in to depth. Have a look at Charles A. Wanamaker, The Epistles to the Thessalonians, pg 74ff.

For two articles on Romans 1:5 refer here:

Obedience of faith
Romans 1 and 16


No time to read them, sorry!

Romans 6:ff

? Rom 6 ? Do you mean Rom 2?

Two Free Grace interpretations are possible:

When eternal life appears in the New Testament as a present possesion, it is received by the intermediate agency of faith in Christ, and as a gift. But when it appears as a future possesion it is based on works, referring to rewards (Gal 6:8; 1 Tim 6:17-19).


I'll comment more on this line of reasoning below.

2) If anyone obeyed perfectly, by patiently persisting in doing good, then eternal life could be earned. Hence, eternal life is a future possession, because as long as the person lives he may not persevere perfectly. Unfortunately, Paul states later no one can accomplish such a feat: “There is none righteous, no not one…” (3:10). In the context it addresses the moralists who claim God’s favor on the basis of works. One can see grammatically the connection from v 5 to v 8 as each verse modifies the previous. In other words, Romans 2:6ff concerns the impossibility of justification by works. Compare verses 2:13 and 4:5. In Romans 2 Paul is confronting the self-righteous legalist who thinks he will be justified by hearing the law. Yet Paul insists only a perfect doer of the law will be justified (2:13; cf. Gal 3:10). Only by faith in Christ can the ungodly be justified (Rom 4:5).

Some of this I totally agree with. However, in essence this is called 'special pleading'. I.e. make it to look like a passage says something other than it would naturally say in order to make it conform to an adopted theological position.

1 Cor 5:10ff and Matt 16:27 consider the issues of eternal rewards. For a good article on the biblical distinctions between eternal salvation and eternal rewards, refer:

The Biblical Distinctions Between Eternal Salvation and Eternal Rewards


And this is a distinction I too maintain! You seem to be reading into the positions that you want me to have. My point was, in Paul, you cannot divide away faith and works as neatly as you have attempted to do. Anybody who is following this argument, I would recommend that you simply read those passages of scripture that I cited and decide for yourselves (without special pleading)

Romans 4:4, 5 “To the one who works, his WAGES are not accounted as GRACE but as DEBT. But to him who DOESN’T WORK, but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.

I know, this is the great proof text! But proof-texting has its problems. I could proof-text lots of things, for example, the Christian universalist position (i.e. everybody will be saved), from Paul if I were to simply quote passages here and there without thinking about other passages seriously (i.e. not trying to explain them away with special pleading).

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Chris,

First, you need to calm your tones down. You need to be courteous here.

Sorry if I gave the impression! But I am calm and reasonable. Frustrated, but calm!

you write:
----------
Thus when Antonio approvingly cites Calvin who wrote "faith is something merely passive", he has problems with Paul! Work of faith!
----------
You don't understand what I mean by passive. I have written a piece on it on this blog, so find it and read it. In a nutshell, faith is exercised as a passive result of being convinced. Once one believes, he should produce works by it. I believe that our faith should be used for many activities for the Lord, and Matthew would agree.

Try to get some more understanding of Free Grace theology before you attempt to oppose it.


I think I do understand what you mean by passive. I have seen the piece you refer to on your blog, and I have problems with the way you're handling Scriptures in that post too.

You write:
----------
I wasn't claiming that faith and obedience are equated. Just that you cannot have one without the other.
----------
This has been far undemonstrated and unsupported by you or any text. Romans 1:5 surely does not say this.

Well this is my point! I think it has demonstrated that faith and works must come together in Paul.

Perhaps you ought to read the two articles I linked to.

Sadly I have to set priorities and I would have no time.

you write:
----------
For Paul, faith and works are intimately related.
----------
This is actually displayed all throught scripture, but that I concede this happily does not mean I believe that works necessarily are produced by faith. They should be, we are commanded to add works to our faith (2 Pet 1:5-9, etc.).

These distinctions are, I suggest, entirely alien to Paul and his concerns. For him, faith and works belong together. And that is my point.

What is the only thing that matters for you? Is it faith? "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love" (Gal 5:6). I would suggest that this would be a good passage for you to mull over.

P.S. I prefer John Pipers "letter to a friend" (appendix to the Pleasures of God) take on this issue as I feel he deals with scripture more fairly than you do.

you write:
----------
Notice that there is no mention of 'rewards' in this verse. Eisegesis again?!
----------
Brother, you are getting a bit colored here.

And there is no need to have the greek word "misthos" in a passage discussing rewards.


I'm getting so confused by what is referring to where now that I don't know what passage we are talking about here. I need to look again at the original!

Ah, Romans 2!

Coloured? Totally disagree! One has to import the meaning of rewarding into this passage and it isn't simply about the presence or absence of a word but the entire flow of the argument at the start of Romans here in Paul's main themes. These strongly support my critique of Matthew. Go to the best academic commentaries and see for yourself.

you write:
----------
But we must also take these passages in Paul seriously if we want to be Biblical Christians and not merely to propagate a canon within a canon – i.e. taking those bits that are most comfortable and turning out brains off so we do not have to intelligently deal with other passages of scripture. I'm not saying that you are turning your brain off here, just that many do in relation to this verse.
----------
You are getting yourself in very deep waters here. You are choosing to pit scriptures verses scriptures, where the result is that you walk away watering down all that you equate and mix together.


This comment, I feel, shows what fundamentally divides our approach to Scripture. I am not talking about watering down Scriptures, but allowing all of scripture to inform my theology rather than taking the bits I like and employing surgery on the bits that seem to contradict my theology in order to stay 'safe'. My goal is not a water things down but to appreciate all of the teaching is in scripture and to figure out how it all fits together – your approach is unconvincing because it fails to deal with numerous passages of scripture – you merely try the 'special pleading' track that leads you down the dark wells of anachronism.

You have yet to make within your belief system a simple analogy of faith. For all I can see is the disharmony of what you say. This is saying "on one hand salvation is free" and "on the other hand it will take your works". This is not paradox or tension. This is contradiction. The simple affirmations of scripture are enough. Faith in Jesus Christ is not only necessary, it is enough, period. Yet when people add works to the equation, it makes Christ's death void. It add poison to the water of life. It is either free, or you can't afford it.

I understand what you're trying to say here that such a line of reasoning has been employed by those propagating universal salvation (I need that everyone will go to heaven). If there is contradiction in scripture that now frame of reference needs to be adjusted to understand that. Denying the contradiction, or downplaying a legitimate aspect in that 'contradiction of tension' is where you go wrong.

Eternal salvation is not contingent on either works on the front side or on the back side. Eternal salvation is passively received by the intermediate agency of faith alone in Christ alone apart from any consideration of works whatsoever.

If you add works in any sense, you have abrogated grace (Rom 11:6).


Your rhetoric concerning 'works' is anachronistically reading back 'good works' back into the context Paul was addressing. This is something the so-called New Perspective is attempting to work through, even if they have problems of their own!

you write:
----------
Here is the verse once again: 2:7 "to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give eternal life".
----------
My question to you is, why is eternal life here in this context future?

See the quote I made in my original post to Matthew starting with "Paul always assumed…"

Needless to say, much of what I would say has been said elsewhere so I refer you to Jimmy Dunn's two-volume commentary on Romans and his take on the past, present and future aspects of justification.

Besides, this is a bit of an odd question! Read the Greek and you'll see why! It has to do with the absence of a certain tense!

Oh my, there is still so much to go through. I'm guessing that you have a lot of time on your hands! But I don't, so I will only comment where I want to, not on everything – though I'd like to!

You write:
----------
Do you see what you're having to do in order to try to keep your theology safer from Scripture! Dividing eternal life away from inheriting the kingdom is just eisegesis. That is all! Once again, there is nothing in the literature of the second Temple Judaism to justify such a division – the burden of proof lies with you to show that this was what was in Paul's mind, and there is nothing to do that.
----------
Brother, I think that you are saying things much to wonderful for yourself.


Why too wonderful? I happen to know something of second Temple Judaism and its literature! Bit of a personal-level cuss here! But at least you called me a 'brother'!

It is quite evident that the terms "enter" and "inherit" are astonishingly different. John 3 tells us that entering and merely "seeing" the kingdom of God is based upon simple faith in Christ.

The question: Was there this big theological distinction in Paul's mind? If we're going to read the Bible in its context (and not merely as a book that fell from the sky yesterday), then we will have to say no! I would recommend that you read Silva's Explorations in exegetical method (interpreting Galatians, chapter 2)

Paul makes plain that perseverance in morality and piety is required for those who will "inherit" (not merely enter) the kingdom.

An anachronistic and un-Pauline distinction. This is poor exegesis again. Really, you ought down a few modern commentaries – they won't bite!

I see you are using blender theology in that you wish to equate many things, not being careful to "divide the word" and jumbling all things together as if in a blender.

No jumbling or blending for me! It is merely about exegeting scripture fairly.

That you equate inheriting the kingdom with merely entering it shows the lack of distinction and critical thinking in your mind.

I have obviously touched a sore point here! I am merely trying to read Paul in the light of how he would have originally been understood – and not anachronistically as you do.

Your comments on 2 Cor 5:10ff reveal your neglect of rightly dividing the truth.

This is common in reformed circles, for they with their mouth claim that eternal life is by faith alone, but with their doctrine they betray a faith in works salvation.

You are pigeonholing me unfairly and inaccurately. I am not reformed. A recap is in order here. What have you managed to do? you have thrown some 'special pleading' at the Scriptures I have quoted and entirely unconvincingly dealt with them (the 1 Thess for example!!!!). Now you are turning and attacking me personally by getting a little abusive. It's a pity that you haven't been able to deal more thoroughly and reasonably with the arguments that I have cited.

For you to say that 2 Cor 5:10 is anything other than an issue of believers at the Bema of Christ receiving rewards or dishonors is to water down justification by grace through faith and eliminate the doctrine of rewards.

Here you clearly misunderstand me. My point inciting this first was to say that, for Paul, faith and works belong together. He would not understand your modern and trendy distinctions at all. Of that I'm quite sure!

You also err in assuming that Free Grace theology states that it doesn't matter what you do after you are saved.

I did not say this about Free Grace theology at all! The object of these words was not Free Grace theology. Be fair to me.

You may not be "trying" to negate the free gift of salvation, but your theology functionally and fatally negates it.

Well, that's the price of being Pauline apparently! PS. My theology is negating only your take on it. And Amen to that.

Faith and works belong together, I agree.

I have an idea! Why don't we focus on what we agree on as well, even primarily! At the end of the day, we are both brothers in Christ. We both love the same Lord Jesus Christ and are motivated by the same face to serve him with all of our hearts.

For my discussion where I support my position that faith does not necessarily result in works see here:

Does faith necessarily result in perseverant works?

No time for that. You write far too much. I have work to do and cannot respond to all of your highly dubious points. I wish I could as it is frustrating to read your words and not have time to correct what I see as problem after problem.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love. Gal 5:6.

"The fear of works, which sometimes seems to be all that remains in Protestantism from the Reformation, must n
ot lead us to fall back on nothing but theology and idle talk. It would certainly be better if we knew a great deal less and lived out a modest amount of knowledge a great deal more ... only discipleship in our everyday life can justify our dogmatics in the face of the world; otherwise we are birds of passage in religion and philosophy, of whom there are far too many, and where competition has long since outflanked us"

- Ernst Käsemann, Jesus Means Freedom (London: SCM, 1969), p. 60


I also all to say, this is taken out far too much of my time. If you have anything else to say in response to these comments (I'm sure you have!) then e-mail me with them, but I cannot promise that I will have time to respond. My schedule is very full, and you write too much! This once I've responded in more depth, but don't take any future silence on my part to me you have me stumped! I would probably love to engage some more, but my priorities lie elsewhere ....

God's blessings brother,
Chris

January 05, 2006 4:10 PM  
Blogger torn_aclu said...

Nice work Chris Tilling. I like what you said, although I disagree that for Paul in Romans works referred to "works of Torah." I guess I am more of a fan of Moo and his understanding of works in Romans to refer to anything done rather than just to works of the Torah. And I also stand with Carson in approval that many of Kasemann's ideas are finally beginning to be rolled back. But I tend to spout off on things I have no knowledge of.

January 05, 2006 4:41 PM  
Blogger Bhedr said...

If Calvin's faith was intellectual then that might have been why he consented and encouraged Micheal Servetus' death as well as many others. I don't know.

All I know is that faith does not come from the intellect.

Do I agree with much of what Calvin taught? yes! Whether of intellect or true stirring he clearly knew much truth.

Brother I encourage you to seek the Lord with your conscience and entire being, not just the mind.

January 05, 2006 5:24 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

'Confusion here is usually been generated by misunderstanding 'works' in Paul with 'good works'. By 'works', Paul means 'works of Torah'.'

Chris, do you then favour the Reformed distinction between the moral and ceremonial law? Are you sure you are not imposing foreign distinctions on the Bible? If the law or Torah is God's standard of holiness, then we can not distinguish between good works and works of Torah.

January 06, 2006 1:02 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

You write:
----------
I am not imposing foreign distinctions on the bible, no
----------
You are not making any critical distinctions at all. Your proof texts don’t show anything but a relationship of works to faith, but you have failed to demonstrate just what that relationship is.

You write:
----------
And for Paul, faith and works belong together as the verses I have cited clearly demonstrate.
----------
I will not argue with that. You could have written far less for me to concede this! This betrays a deep misunderstanding of my position. They do belong together. The disagreement is in the biblical fact that faith, nevertheless, does not NECESSARILY result in any kind of perseverance in works. It should, it ought to! A purpose of our eternal salvation is to do the works that God has set up for us (Eph 2:10), but that this is a necessary relationship has been by far undemonstrated by your few proof-texts. Eph 2:10 uses the subjunctive “peripateswmen” in a purpose clause, “should walk”. Nowhere in this text is it adduced that it is a necessary relationship, but only that it is an expected relationship.

You write:
----------
Then what about those verses where Paul seems to play off works against faith? Confusion here is usually been generated by misunderstanding 'works' in Paul with 'good works'. By 'works', Paul means 'works of Torah'.
----------
Now this is merely pulling something out of your magic hat. That Paul means “works of Torah” is an exegetical stroke of genius that has been concocted to soften, mute and water down the biblical doctrine of faith alone in Christ alone apart from works of any kind. By works, Paul means just that “works”: activities of volition that in any sense could be looked at as meritorious, wage-earning.

“works” in Eph. 2:9 is anarthrous (as is Titus 3:5; Rom 11:6), meaning any quality or characteristic of work, which would include law, but encompasses the general arena of any volitional activity that has as to its essence “work”.

The confusion is to fail to recognize the role of faith to eternal life and the role of faithful works to the Christian life. Double-speak is the result. The “tension” and “paradox” and “mystery” of “Salvation is free, but will cost you everything…” This is nothing but sheer contradiction.


you write:
----------
This is just called a canon within a canon! One man's 'simple texts' are another man's 'confusing texts'. Who are you to decide which texts are the ones that are important and should be used to silence others?
----------
There are dozens of clear verses showing that eternal salvation is by grace through the intermediate agency of simple faith in Jesus Christ; that eternal life is received by simple faith in Christ.

Then when you come upon verses that superficially seem to equate salvation on works, what is the knee-jerk reaction of most? They encorporate these dissonant verses into their soteriology; thus corrupting the free gift of eternal life, and casting a large shadow on grace. This they do in spite of the well-articulated and reasoned expositions of them that show within their context and the greater context of the Bible that they are not talking about soteriology after all.

But the notion of free grace is so repugnant to people; because most are on the broad road to destruction that maintains that works of various kinds and purposes are necessary for eternal salvation.

You write:
----------
Or if one starts with the other verses (which may be more clear to other people) then this line of argumentation could seriously backfire on you! What part of the verses that I quoted were you confused about? What bit of the passages wasn't clear? They were all clear to me! Crystal clear!
----------
They are clear to me as well as having nothing to do with eternal salvation, nor of some supposed necessary relationship of works to faith. That you interpret them the way you do is because of your theology which you have brought to the text that has been handed down now for generations within the traditionalist denominations and text books….

You write:
----------
I am trying to intelligently exegete Paul by taking on board ALL that he writes – and not frantically trying to explain away 'problem verses'.
----------
I don’t believe that you are. I think that you have labored hard to support your insupportable position, having glossed over the clear and emphatic verses of Paul that put faith and works as anti-thetical in the sphere of soteriology. I believe that you have come to the texts with a works-righteousness mindset, with a traditional mindset, and have fallen into the same old traps and misinterpretations that have plagued reformed and arminian theologies for centuries, rather than affirming the simple declaration of “faith alone in Christ alone apart from works”, and using this simple affirmation as a basis for understanding the rest.

The Gospel of John was written so that people would exercise faith in Jesus for eternal life. This book is the only explicitly evangelistic book in the Bible. Wouldn’t you expect to find clear verses about the reception of eternal life? I would, seeing that is the purpose of his book. And yes, we are met there with the simple and straightforward teaching of Christ that conditions the reception of eternal life on simple faith in Him for it.

That John and Paul agree that eternal life and justification is not by works at all but through faith in Christ should be apparent to all. But it is not. For they have shunned the simple affirmations for their theology which they import into the text. I mean, how much more emphatic could this be:

“And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work” (Rom 11:6)

“…not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us” (Titus 3:5).

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph 2:8, 9).

"For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:

‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered;
Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin’” (Rom 4:2-8).

Do you notice that Paul also uses “works” in relation to Abraham? But I thought that torah law came many generations later through Moses? I think this is the death-knell for your insistance that works = merely torah law.

“Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham” (Rom 4:16).

It is of faith (and not whatsoever of works) so it can both be by grace and be SURE. For if it is contingent even a shred on works whatsoever grace has been fatally compromised.

This is a short illustration of what I mean.
Let us say that you were on one side of a chasm and I on the other. The chasm is hundreds of feet deep with jagged rocks littering the way down. The chasm divide is 100 feet across. A tree on one side and one on the other side are roughly 110 feet in distance. You needed to come to me. I threw you one end of a 105’ rope (what a throwing arm I have! I should go pro!). You caught it, but the length of this fine, thick and heavily tested rope is too short. You propose that you will take up the slack using some dental floss you had in your pocket. I tie my rope end to my tree, you tie the rope and dental floss together and tie the other end of floss around your tree. What will happen when your 190 lb self tries to shuttle across this 99% thick, tested rope, and 1% of thin, dingy dental floss?

By your insistence of salvation being contingent in one way or another on works, you have fatally marred the simple message of the gospel and the relationship of works to the Christian life.

You write:
----------
I too believe it is in reasoned and well thought out exposition of the texts that matters. But this is exactly what commentaries are trying to do. Do you think commentaries are not about thoughtful exposition?
----------
Key word = “trying”. They are supposed to be. Yet they have their theological axes to grind and many of them go to great lengths to scripture twist in order to bang the tough texts into their paradigm. Rather than see the freeness of eternal life and the costliness of discipleship and subsequent rewards, they blend them together critically diluting the results.

You write:
----------
some of your earlier posts could have done with the help of some good sold academic commentaries to stop your flights of fantasy.
----------
Sir, my “flights of fantasy” involve very serious issues of God and faith. I hold to Christ alone, faith alone, and grace alone. If these are to be considered “flights of fantasy”, by you or any other kind, then I will triumphantly put on that mantle.

Grace is not popular. That salvation is absolutely free of any string, proviso, and caveat (such as insistence on adding works of any kind to it, on the front end, or the back end) is not popular. The way that leads to life is narrow: it is only by faith alone in Christ. The large majority on the broad road all share their theologies of works-related salvation in some respect or another.

You write:
----------
Driven by your ideological baggage you have managed to import so much foreign material into this passage that it would not be recognized by Jesus!
----------
Really?

1a) Matt 7:13
Enter by the narrow gate;

1b) John 10:9
I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved

2a) Matt 7:21
"Not everyone who says to Me,'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

2b) John 6:40
And this is the will of Him [the Father] who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

Please, for those reading this comment, refer to these VERY GOOD and VERY SHORT articles on Matthew 7:21-23

Bob Wilkin and Zane Hodges have a brief discourse on this Passage
Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord

The passage under consideration says that you will know false prophets by their fruits. What are the fruits? They are wolves in sheeps clothing! Every outward appearance is that of a Christian. So “fruit” couldn’t mean their conduct! Fruit is the doctrine that they preach. If they preach anything but eternal salvation by grace through simple faith in Jesus Christ, they are false prophets. That their words are their fruit is easily demonstrated by looking at:

"If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods' -- which you have not known -- 'and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams” (Deut 13:1-3).

“And if you say in your heart, 'How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?' -- when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him” (Deut 18:21-22).

In conjunction with:

"Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt 12:33-37).

You write:
----------
Do a study, and don't be afraid of modern commentaries and as they are all trying to wrestle with scripture, of what the word poiew (doing, making) in 'doing the will of God' means in Matthew.
----------
First, I love your reference to Matt 21:28-32! For it is a parable that takes a physical story and corresponds it to a spiritual truth. What was the point of his parable? That the Pharasees didn’t obey Jesus’ command to BELIEVE in Him:

“Jesus said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him’” ( Matt 21:31-32).

Also, the “doing” referred to in this context (Matt 7) is nothing special. Jesus can say this:

“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent’" (John 6:29).

And by your insistence that the will of the Father is works, you have frankly admitted to works-salvation, which doesn’t surprise me anymore, as many Reformed and Arminian alike are not ashamed of declaring, and this quite frankly!

You write:
----------
The problem was that they were evil doers
----------
As are everyone who has ever lived. These poor souls lacked the righteousness of Christ because they failed to do the will of the Father, which is to believe in the Son. They truly thought that entrance into the kingdom was by doing works in Jesus’ name. This is their claim to that kingdom. But we know that the only claim we can have on the kingdom is passively received by faith alone in Christ alone.

You write:
----------
I suppose that writing out the various possibilities of understanding of this genitive (not genEtive) will impress some of your readers!
----------
You seem to be arguing in the flesh and trying to get in the low shots whenever you can, as evidenced by your correction of my spelling.

You write:
----------
My point was that Paul speaks of faith and works together quite unperturbed by your seal to drive such a strong wedge between for theological reasons. Perhaps Paul wasn't being theologically sophisticated enough!
----------
Paul is the one who drives such a wedge between them when it comes to soteriology. In reference to justification before God, works and grace cannot mix, or it is no longer grace (Rom 11:6). But obviously it is quite natural to speak of works coming from faith in the life of the Christian. After all “The just shall live by faith." (Rom 1:17). Using our faith to produce works is essential in the Christian life. Works in any sense at all do not belong in soteriological theology, except to negate them as any condition whatsoever for eternal salvation. Works belong to the realm of the regenerate Christian’s life, in which he is both exhorted and commanded to produce works that please God. Why? The terror of the regenerate coming to Christ at His throne empty handed (2 Cor 5:11).

You write:
----------
No time to read them, sorry!
----------
You have time to write all of this and not to read 3 minutes worth of literature that bears on this subject? That reveals a hardened heart and mind toward learning that could very well persuade you. But that you are set in your ways and came here to argue is manifest to all.

You write:
----------
Some of this I totally agree with. However, in essence this is called 'special pleading'. I.e. make it to look like a passage says something other than it would naturally say in order to make it conform to an adopted theological position.
----------
I believe that your position that espouses works based contingency in soteriology as “special pleading” that goes against every clear text speaking as to it. Your whole case seems to me special pleading in light of the gospel of John (the only explicitly written book in the canon with the express purpose of evangelism) and Galatians (Paul’s express defense of the gospel). Both condition eternal life/justification, respectively, to faith alone in Christ alone.

You write
----------
And this is a distinction [rewards vs eternal salvation] I too maintain!
----------
If you do, you have been silent on it. The Bema of Christ is a rewards platform.

You write:
----------
You seem to be reading into the positions that you want me to have. My point was, in Paul, you cannot divide away faith and works as neatly as you have attempted to do.
----------
To the impartial reader, the quotes of Paul that I have above mentioned are emphatic. They require no “special pleading”. What does require special pleading is the position that Chris here takes in spite of these clear and emphatic declarations of Paul. He seeks to dwarf their emphatic and absolute nature by “special pleading” to weak exegetical proof-texting that does little if anything to support his contentions.

You write, referring to Romans 4:4,5
“Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness” (Rom 4:4-5):
----------
I know, this is the great proof text! But proof-texting has its problems. I could proof-text lots of things, for example, the Christian universalist position (i.e. everybody will be saved), from Paul if I were to simply quote passages here and there without thinking about other passages seriously (i.e. not trying to explain them away with special pleading).
----------
Sir, how do you get out of the straight-jacket that Paul divinely equips to the antithetical nature of faith and works with specific relation to soteriology? The only way is to nerf the exquisitely emphatic declarations to fir your pre-held traditionalist theology!

“Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Eccl 4:12)

Paul is full of superlatively emphatic statements putting works and faith into indefectable anti-thesis, and I have quoted above. For you to merely gloss over them, dilute them, and casually dismiss them, is to commit grave theological error.

You write:
----------
I think I do understand what you mean by passive. I have seen the piece you refer to on your blog, and I have problems with the way you're handling Scriptures in that post too.
----------
Yet you do not employ your meager arsenal of proof-texts fashioned in order to bludgeon my position? No pithy statements found in your commentary tradition? Not even a word of dissention, except your paltry contention and denial?

You write:
----------
Well this is my point! I think it has demonstrated that faith and works must come together in Paul.
----------
This is the top! The scriptures you provided (and not all!) support a contention that faith and works have a relationship. But that “faith and works must come together in Paul” has only been confirmed in your own mind, and has done nothing to persuade the critical mind.

You wrote:
----------
For Paul, faith and works are intimately related.
----------
To which I wrote:
----------
This is actually displayed all throught scripture, but that I concede this happily does not mean I believe that works necessarily are produced by faith. They should be, we are commanded to add works to our faith (2 Pet 1:5-9, etc.).
----------
That you responded thus:
----------
These distinctions are, I suggest, entirely alien to Paul and his concerns. For him, faith and works belong together. And that is my point.
----------
To which I PRESENTLY respond: Entirely alien? Brother, what Bible are you reading? It only takes a cursory look at the superlatively emphatic passages I show from Paul (which by the way are not the extent of them) which puts faith and works, in the realm of soteriology, in perfect antithesis and contradistinction. Have you ever heard of the historical Reformation? You seem to be more comfortable espousing the canons of Trent.

You write:
----------
What is the only thing that matters for you? Is it faith? "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love" (Gal 5:6). I would suggest that this would be a good passage for you to mull over.
----------
I have just mulled it over. This is talking about the Galatian’s present disposition to leave grace principles after having been regenerated!

See this:

“This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by works of law (both are anarthrous, by the way), or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal 3:2-3).

Circumcision (a work of the flesh) in the Christian life counts for nothing. But the addition of faith to love (a work of the Spirit) profits in the time now and that which is to come.

I wrote:
----------
And there is no need to have the greek word "misthos" in a passage discussing rewards.
----------
To which you responded:
----------
I'm getting so confused by what is referring to where now that I don't know what passage we are talking about here. I need to look again at the original!

Ah, Romans 2!

Coloured? Totally disagree! One has to import the meaning of rewarding into this passage and it isn't simply about the presence or absence of a word but the entire flow of the argument at the start of Romans here in Paul's main themes. These strongly support my critique of Matthew. Go to the best academic commentaries and see for yourself.
----------
Actually I was talking about 1 cor 5:10ff. But this passage works just as well. Notice first that you appeal to the commentary tradition rather than proceed with reasoned, and observational exposition.

And as to your contention that “rewarding” has to be imported into this context, I guess you have failed to read this:

God "will render to each one according to his deeds" (Rom 2:6)

If this does not refer to rewards for deeds done, I do not know what the doctrine of rewards would look like! This is merit, this is wage-earning!

You write:
----------
This comment, I feel, shows what fundamentally divides our approach to Scripture. I am not talking about watering down Scriptures, but allowing all of scripture to inform my theology rather than taking the bits I like and employing surgery on the bits that seem to contradict my theology in order to stay 'safe'.
----------
If by “allow all of scripture to inform my theology” you mean take every passage you meet and throw it in to the blender of your soteriology (which you unapologitically do), I would say that you have failed.

Studying the Word has everything to do with “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15. Systematic theolgy should not be characterized by equating and harmonizing things within the same range and issue of doctrine (such as soteriology, for instance) that have already been emphatically distinguished.

You write:
----------
My goal is not a water things down but to appreciate all of the teaching is in scripture and to figure out how it all fits together
----------
This, too, is my goal. Yet I strive to do it in such a manner that does not blur the critical distinctions that the Bible rests upon. Your hermeneutic that you employ in order to “figure out how it all fits together” has mixed vinegar and baking soda into a pot which not only injures yourself, but overflows into the hapless inocents that subscribe to your teaching.

You write:
----------
your approach is unconvincing because it fails to deal with numerous passages of scripture – you merely try the 'special pleading' track that leads you down the dark wells of anachronism.
----------
I deal with every passage within the limits of context and language. There is no Scripture that does not fit with my position as a hand fits a surgical glove.

Your special pleading of these lesser passages has fatally marred the emphatic nature of Paul’s ardent expositions that clearly distinguish faith from works in the issue of soteriology.

You write:
----------
I understand what you're trying to say here that such a line of reasoning has been employed by those propagating universal salvation (I need that everyone will go to heaven). If there is contradiction in scripture that now frame of reference needs to be adjusted to understand that. Denying the contradiction, or downplaying a legitimate aspect in that 'contradiction of tension' is where you go wrong.
----------
Sir, my God is not a God of confusion (1 Cor 14:33). Not only does his word not contain a single “contradiction of tension” it does not include a single contadiction whatsoever.

Your theology NECESSITATES tension and contradiction, for you choose to look at the emphatic passages that completely distinguish faith and works within the confines of soteriological truth and mix them with admonitions to saved people.

YOU go wrong in supposing that there is some “tension” between faith and works in a soteriological aspect. If this were the case, how could anyone surely know the requirements or conditions of eternal right-standing with God?
You write:
----------
Your rhetoric concerning 'works' is anachronistically reading back 'good works' back into the context Paul was addressing. This is something the so-called New Perspective is attempting to work through, even if they have problems of their own!
----------
I have already shown you how your claim that works = torah law is a desperate attempt to salvage a sinking ship.

I write:
----------
It is quite evident that the terms "enter" and "inherit" are astonishingly different. John 3 tells us that entering and merely "seeing" the kingdom of God is based upon simple faith in Christ.
----------
Which necessitated you to write:
----------
The question: Was there this big theological distinction in Paul's mind? If we're going to read the Bible in its context (and not merely as a book that fell from the sky yesterday), then we will have to say no!
----------
Sir, this is a contention you fail to support. Primarily, you are already in the position of having the burden of proof on yourself, for it is apparent to anyone that is impartial and not adhering to your theology, that “inherit” and “enter” are drastically different thoughts!

Your mere apeal to context leaves you in the unfavorable position of having decreed something without a shred of support.

It is abundantly clear, that if language is to retain its proper function, that we muist distinguish between words. Apparently, in your theology, we could say faith and mean works; say bird and mean nest; say inherit and mean enter.

You have placed yourself on a slippery slope that leads in to an escapeless quagmire. Words lose their force and scriptures evade its meaning when we arbitrarily decide to affirm the equality of terms and theological referents without specific provisions to do so!

I wrote:
----------
Paul makes plain that perseverance in morality and piety is required for those who will "inherit" (not merely enter) the kingdom.
----------
To which you responded:
----------
An anachronistic and un-Pauline distinction. This is poor exegesis again. Really, you ought down a few modern commentaries – they won't bite!
----------
To which I presently respond:
----------
Are commentaries your final authority on matters of faith and practice in the Christian religion? You seem to rely upon them as gospel.

Listen, I have grappled with the text. All that you provide for me here is mere contention! An anachonistic and un-pauline distinction? He mentions this doctrine at least 3 times!

After calling the Corinthians he addressed as “unrighteous” in verse 8 (adikeite), “you do wrong…” he says:

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:8-10).

This is the same group that he affirmed their regeneration in spite of their carnal practices throughout his epistle.

That he conditioned “inheriting” the kingdom with morality, is easily defended from the mere reading of the aforementioned passage.

This would be works-righteousnes, but you have no shame in claiming such a thing. Maybe someone who has experienced the emphatic nature of Paul’s crititcal distinctions of faith and works in the specific arena of soteriology may benefit from this oberservation!

You write:
----------
It's a pity that you haven't been able to deal more thoroughly and reasonably with the arguments that I have cited.
----------
Sir, there is not one text that evades the clear and simple affirmation that eternal life is a free gift, received by grace alone through faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ.

You write:
----------
Here you clearly misunderstand me. My point inciting this first was to say that, for Paul, faith and works belong together. He would not understand your modern and trendy distinctions at all. Of that I'm quite sure!
----------
Chris, if this was your only contention, that “faith and works belong together” I fail to see why you have wasted so much time and energy arguing with me.

I agree, they have a relationship. Yet it is not a relationship of necessity persevering to death. To this, you haven’t even remotely supported, let alone proved!

I wrote:
----------
You also err in assuming that Free Grace theology states that it doesn't matter what you do after you are saved.
----------
to which you responded:
----------
I did not say this about Free Grace theology at all! The object of these words was not Free Grace theology. Be fair to me.
----------
To which I PRESENTLY respond:

Excuse me? Was it not you who intimated and implied (if not explicitly):

“'Justification by faith' does not mean that God has decided that moral behaviour doesn't matter after all, and that the only thing matters is something else, called 'faith', so that as long as I have this 'faith' it doesn't matter what I do" ??????????

You had thought that my position espouses this, or why would you add this Red Herring to the mix of the other outrageous and unsupportable claims you have made against me and my position?

I wrote:
----------
You may not be "trying" to negate the free gift of salvation, but your theology functionally and fatally negates it.
----------
To which you responded:
----------
Well, that's the price of being Pauline apparently! PS. My theology is negating only your take on it. And Amen to that.
----------
You hereby claim negation to the free gift of salvation. You have transported yourself back to Rome. There is only but one sense and one take of a free gift:

It is absolutely free contingent on nothing but the giver’s will to give and the benificiary’s act of receiving.

You write:
----------
I have work to do and cannot respond to all of your highly dubious points.
----------
Yet I have sat here and answered all your ‘dubious’ rhetoric!
“Yes, we who believe in salvation by faith alone do also believe in good works. But we are careful to maintain the great gap between the finished work of Christ and the good works for which we have been created. His work is the basis for our salvation by faith apart from works. It is also the basis for good works after our conversion.” (Art Farstad)

January 06, 2006 1:11 AM  
Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Antonio, you need to get out more.

Well, I've clearly gotten under your skin with the verses I've cited, and I guess they have stirred some hidden fear in you. I guess that is why you are writing so much – more for yourself than others. Patching up a theology with lengthy quasi-intellectual 'special pleading' can be tiring!

More to the point, you ability to critically and intelligently dialogue over the exegesis of scripture is clearly limited. Your points again and again misrepresent me (these points I find most tempting to correct), fail to deal with the important issues I've raised, and perpetuate a poor handling of scripture. I'm sorry, but they are unworthy of my further time or attention, and given that you have written so much, that would be a lot of time wasted.

A part of me would love to show where you've gone awry, again, and to answer each of your points above. But my wife would have my head!

Besides, there is much we agree on, and a debate like this can cloud that fact. I hope that you can still think of me as your brother in Christ, as I do you!

God's blessings,
Chris Tilling
--------------------

Hi Matthew,

You wrote: Chris, do you then favour the Reformed distinction between the moral and ceremonial law? Are you sure you are not imposing foreign distinctions on the Bible?

No, I don't support this distinction between moral and ceremonial law, one I believe to be an anachronism.

If the law or Torah is God's standard of holiness, then we can not distinguish between good works and works of Torah

An important point! If one wants to go in the apparent early-Jimmy-Dunn direction on this (see his commentary on Galatians in particular which suggest that 'works of Torah' refer to 'boundary markers' that separate Jews from Gentiles – cf. the debate around 4QMMT. But see also Boyarin Radical Jew and Nanos, Mystery) then this is one of the most important questions to be asked – and one I shall address in a future post on my blog (I've been doing a series assessing criticisms of the so-called 'New Perspective' on Paul, and this critique is the most important for 'New Perspectivers' to take on board)

To be fair to Dunn, in his later works he does consider 'works of Torah' to include ethically relevant precepts, but as I say, I shall address this question on my own blog sometime in the next coupe of months.

If you want to find out more on how this is to be understood, before I post on it then I'd recommend:

Dunn's commentaries on Romans and Galatians, plus the new volume, The New Perspective on Paul: Collected Essays (WUNT 185; Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 2005). Not to forget is also his Theology of the Apostle Paul.

As a balance against the potential extremes of this position, and one that tries to work through how ethical considerations must be a part of understanding 'works of Torah', see the Carson edited volumes on Justification and Variegated Nomism . But beware, the first volume isn't a light read!

My forthcoming post will be in criticism of a purely Dunn-ian approach to the 'works of Torah', in the light of Paul's use and understanding of it, but shall nevertheless show that simply equating 'works of Torah' in his rhetoric with 'good works' is out of place. On this point Dunn is correct: One must analyse how 'works of Torah' language is used in Paul's rhetoric as he plays it off against faith, the Jewish-Christian 'separation' from the Gentiles, and how this is situated in covenantal language.

Apart from that, Mike Bird has probably published on this too, so check his stuff out if you can find it.

All the best,
Chis

January 06, 2006 4:10 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home