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)

Friday, May 30, 2008

A conversation that Me and Matthew had today on IM

I will be shortly declaring some of the things that I discussed with Earl Radmacher concerning the current state of Free Grace theology. I just haven't gotten around to writing it yet! So be patient. Until then, here is a very helpful (and slightly edited) conversation that I had today with Matthew of This is a Cult. Want to Join? and other blogs. Enjoy!

matthew says:
Hi Antonio

Antonio says:
Hi Matt!!!

matthew says:
How are you doing.

Antonio says:
Oh, I have an upbeat attitude about the future of Free Grace theology.

matthew says:
That is good to hear. How so?

Antonio says:
The dissenters will be relegated to the category of those who are obssessed with disputes. They are a very small faction. And the Lord will do His work. The Lord is faithful, Matt, and His word will go out. Whatever happens, I am over the LM's and JP's and Roksers and Stegalls of the world.

matthew says:
What about the… Miles Stanfords of the world? They might not obsess as much, but they dont like refined FG either.

Antonio says:
Miles Stanford, I believe by this time, has already had remedial courses in soteriology and dispensationalism, so he is no problem anymore.

matthew says:
Do you think most Dispensationalists would be willing to give the refined FG position a hearing?

Antonio says:
I believe so. But the thing is, "progress of revelation" is a dead weight and albatross on the shoulders of many dispensationalists. They have that on the brain. But when explained that it was Jesus Christ himself who dictated the content, in the second to the last book written in the canon, only those beholden to their theology and not open minded will have a problem. I mean, Wouldn't John, who was an apostle, which the church was founded on, know, by the close of the century, that additional Pauline content was required? I would not want to be in the position of any dispensationalist who would state that John's gospel explicitly written for evangelistic purposes was deficient.

matthew says:
I hope you are right. Yes, the tradionalist position makes little sense. I am enjoying Gregory Boyd's book 'God at War.'

Antonio says:
And why not John's gospel, Matthew?

matthew says:
It is really fascinating and makes a lot of sense.

Antonio says:
Is not every treatise from Paul written to saints?

matthew says:
Yes, the Traditionalist has a real problem here.

Antonio says:
Why wouldn't God write a love letter expressly given to share with man how he might have peace with God, everlasting life, salvation from condemnation, and entrance into the kingdom?

matthew says:
Yes.

Antonio says:
I don't know who is going to do it. I don't know if it will be me someday, but a very indepth study needs to be done on the word "gospel" in Paul's literature.

matthew says:
Yes, I think so.

Antonio says:
It is so clear to me now that that word does not ever mean "an exact statement denoting the God-mandated contents of saving faith that must be believed before one can be regenerated". Also, where is it ever stated by these people, who do believe as much, where the content is explicitley defined?

matthew says:
Yes. Strange how people seem to have difficulty seeing this.

Antonio says:
Matthew, we all took it on tradition. I did it! I am guilty!

matthew says:
Yes. I think revising the notion of what (people suppose) the Gospel is seems one of the best things about NT Wright's theology. Not that I am a fan of his.

Antonio says:
It is abundantly clear to me that someone could believe that Jesus died on the cross for sins and rose again bodily from the dead and never "believe in" (pisteou eis) Jesus!

Antonio says:
Explain about Wright

matthew says:
Oh, he rejects the view that the Gospel is all about just being saved from eternal condemnation. He sees it in much broader terms.

Antonio says:
Ahh… Matthew, I do not wish to pat myself on the back, but I have made the concept of "believing in" Jesus more simpler and more concise than any author or theologian or armchair blogger has ever. When the simplicity of it struck me, I was like "why is it that it has never been expounded like this before?” Obviously there has been alot of what I have said (esp. from Chafer, Ryrie, and Hodges), but nothing as precise as my explanation that "believing in" someone is nothing but believing a proposition that consists of one's certain reliance on someone for something specific, or in other words, trust in a person for some benefit.

matthew says:
I think you have done really well. Have you written anything for any journals? I am really impressed with the trouble you have taken in expounding this issue.

Antonio says:
So many people, like Daniel of Doulogos, have so erred in their take on faith!

matthew says:
yes

Antonio says:
What is this "personal" appropriation? What does that objectively look like? I see some merit to thinking in this way (in other words, eternal life must be received by oneself, not by another or communally), but they have defined faith as something greater than simply being convinced something is true.

matthew says:
The law in England defines theft as 'dishonest appropriation.' Just imagine a thief telling a judge it was not 'personal appropriation'!

Antonio says:
Acording to him, it has to have some volitional and emotional aspects. I really love what Clark said, that belief in the sober reality that one has 5 fingers is as much faith as being convinced of some shattering news

matthew says:
Very true.

Antonio says:
I have thought about it. I can't think of any colloquial or social use of the phrase "believe in" (someone or something) that does not fit my definition of said phrase. When does that articulation EVER denote some additionally required understanding (such as ontological or personal considerations) other than that which is explicitely or implicitly supplied by the context wherein it is used?

matthew says:
I think you are right.

Antonio says:
Jesus said "whoever believes in Me"… I did this: I put the phrase "believe in me" on the lips of a thousand different people in a thousand different circumstances. You do the same and you will find that what is being referred to is faith in a proposition which denotes certain and absolute reliance upon an individual for a particular benefit of some kind or another. Wow! I feel that I am articulating this in a clear and beneficial way. I should take this conversation and post it on UoG.

matthew says:
Yes. Can I ask you a question?

Antonio says:
I dare say you should. Please do.

matthew says:
It is about eternal life rather than faith.

Antonio says:
If I can answer it I will. I am shaking with anticipation! Would you let your mind be known?

matthew says:
Jesus said that His opponents think that they have eternal life in the Scriptures. What does He mean? Did they think that they had eternal security?

Antonio says:
Jesus used the phrase in that instance with the general culturally understood sense. Remember the rich youn ruler? He did not ask the question, "What must I do to receive eternal life as a free gift?" He asked, “What must I do to INHERIT eternal life.” The pharisees and scribes thought that they subscribed to Moses in such an exacting way that they merited the privilege of "inheriting" eternal life. They thought that by their adherence to Moses that they were deserving of eternal life. The culturally understood concept of "eternal life" at that time was of one meriting the opportunity of being in the kingdom.

matthew says:
Our Lord was not affirming that they believed they posessed eternal life then?

Antonio says:
Your question immediately made me think about the Calvinists. They believe they have eternal life by evidence (primarily fruit inspection) married with supposition. We know we have eternal life, are certain of it, because of the testimony of God through His Son. He was saying that they believed that they, because of the preponderance of evidence before their eyes, were WORTHY of eternal life.

matthew says:
So that culturally understood concept of eternal life has no bearing on what our Lord means by the term 'eternal life'?

Antonio says:
Yes it does! because the cultural understanding has truths to it. It was just an insufficient understanding. Eternal life IS merited, but not before it is received as a free gift!

matthew says:
Does our Lord' s comment about His opponents not imply present posession of eternal life?

Antonio says:
I think that such an understanding would be reading too much into it: in other words, the present possession of eternal life that we know about through, particularly, the gospel of John. When the rich young ruler asked his question, he did not ask "What things" but "what thing." He thought perhaps that he could call upon the assistance of his wealth to do an act of charity and be assured of future inheritance in the kingdom. What the rich young ruler wanted was what his concept of eternal life, and this was riches and inheritance in a literal eternal, eschatological, Israel-centered kingdom. He thought he could be presently assured of a future position in the kingdom. Of course, this is certainly what we understand eternal life to be; but it is much more than that! It is the present possession of the divine life within us NOW! So their understanding had correct ideas, but was insufficient.

matthew says:
What would you say are the key texts for establishing present posession of divine life NOW? I would just like you to clarify the key texts on present posession of eternal life.

Antonio says:
Well your last statement is a little different than your question. Present possession of eternal life is stated in many places, but discussion of the divine life, presently held is a bit less frequent.

matthew says:
I suppose it is.

Antonio says:
I think my answer to your question would be John 1:12, 13 and John 3:3ff. He gave us the right to be children of God, being born agian not of the will of man but of God. Being born from God rather explicitly shares with us that the moment we become children of God, being born of God, that what is born of God (our regenerated immaterial nature) is properly understood as the divine nature.

matthew says:
So in being born, we enter into a new life. Eternal life.

Antonio says:
Yes, such life, the divine life given to us, must properly be understood as eternal life, because of such is the life of God Himself.

matthew says:
Is sonship in John 1 understood in a different sense to sonship in Romans 8?

Antonio says:
Oh yes

matthew says:
This sonship is not related to heirship.

Antonio says:
The first thing to realize is that authors use words differently. One must first determine usage of words from author’s first in their immediate epistle or gospel, secondly from their writings, and thirdly from other author’s works.

matthew says:
I am piling on the questions tonight! … Yes, they do.

Antonio says:
In John 1 the word used is "tekna", or children. In Romans 8, the word is "uios" or full grown sons.

matthew says:
Wow, big difference. So receiving power is immediate. On the new birth.

Antonio says:
Like in Romans 8:14 "The ones led by the spirit are 'full grown, mature' sons of God (uios). But scroll down… in Romans 8:17 we find, "if children (tekna) then heirs of God" meaning only born again ones, those simply with the new nature and justified at the bar of God. The next part of the verse gives stringent conditions for co-glory and co-heirship, viz. suffering with Him! Let it be known that in Paul, the division isn't as hard and fast as John makes it, but the distinction IS there.

matthew says:
Yes.

Antonio says:
Sometimes Paul uses uios as a general designation for born again ones, but that is understandable. Often words are used interchangeably until it is necessary to disinguish between nuances of two "synonyms".

matthew says:
I think perhaps these finer points in Romans are missed because it is viewed as being primarily about justification.

Antonio says:
"Those led by the Spirit of God are Uios!" Why use tekna 3 verses later? Because Paul was making distinctions!

matthew says:
right… I heard a sermon on Romans 8 a couple of weeks ago that did not pick up on any of these distinctions.

Antonio says:
Listen, one cannot be led unless one follows. Following the Spirit is a condition of being a full grown son who receives with such a designation a right to the privileges of full-grown son status: iow, heirship. Now whether one recieves the lion's share of first-born status or of lower sonship is not in view. One must be viewed as a mature, full-grown son in order to receive the benefits of this kind of heirship.

matthew says:
Right

Antonio says:
And remember, their is an heirship qualified for simply by being a "teknon" (child, Ro 8:17). This is an heirship that is unconditional. But there is another heirship that is merited by adherence to the demands or wishes of the benefactor. So thus two nuances included in the one idea of "eternal life". The Jews of Jesus' time seemingly only privy to one.

matthew says:
Two kinds of heirship?

Antonio says:
One merited and one unconditional. By virtue of being a teknon (child), one is heir to resurrection to life, only to name one benefit of this unconditional heirship.

matthew says:
That makes a lot of sense.

Antonio says:
I wish that I had an editor. I dare say that I have no time nor inclination to edit my own writings into a book form. I surely have enough material to make several book on several topics

matthew says:
You should write a journal article.

Antonio says:
I really liked one of my latest but simple articles, "however much or little they may know" or something similar to that title. You did not comment however.

matthew says:
It was very good.

Antonio says:
Imagine being persuaded by the simple testimony of an adulerterous and immoral woman who merely stated "He told me all things I ever did" and "Could this be the Christ" (obviously with the content that he offered water that once taken one would never thirst again) but still this is significant! On no other testimony than a sinful woman, many believe in Jesus (pisteou eis)! How more simple could it be?

matthew says:
Impressive


After this we talked about my second favorite subject after the bible and God: food...

I hope that this conversation has been beneficial for you.

Have a good day!

5 Comments:

Blogger Antonio said...

As an important note concerning this conversation: it was impromptu and informal and was not fashioned to be precise at every point. I do, nevertheless, stand by my statements.

Furthermore, in articulating an understanding of the colloquial phrase "believe in" someone or something, we must not forget to add that such may denote belief that someone or something merely exists and nothing further. This is a legitimate usage.

Otherwise, it is used in the sense that I have articulated in the conversation with Matthew: denoting trust (entrustment) and/or reliance upon someone or something for specific benefit of some kind determined by the context in which the statement is found.

Your free grace host,

Antonio da Rosa

May 30, 2008 5:34 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

That was a great conversation!

June 01, 2008 10:11 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Interesting conversation.

Antonio, if you ever do write a book on the subject make sure there is a layman's copy as well.

June 01, 2008 5:50 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

I enjoyed reading that, Antonio. :~)

June 03, 2008 11:05 AM  
Blogger Biblicist said...

Antonio, very interesting. Especially the part about sonship vs. childhood. I am looking forward to your conversation with Earl.

Gary

June 04, 2008 5:46 PM  

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