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The Flakiness Of Claims To Biblical Scholarship

We all like to think that the brains are on our side; that intelligent people, if provided with all the relevant details, would agree with us. And our arguments do feel bolstered when there is support from people that we might think of an intelligent; those with fancy degrees, intellectuals, or noted authors.

But Ive found during my forays into debates and controversy that claims of intellectual support are sometimes largely smoke and mirrrors.

Sometimes people will appeal to the idea of the ‘scholar’, implying that such a person is so much of an expert that their conclusions are largely beyond debate. The New York Times once referred to a presentation by Christian pro-homosex apologist Matthew Vines as ‘scholarly‘. Vines had been a college student at an Ivy Leage school, but reports did not state he had graduated, much of his speciality study was done independently at home, and he has said that he was reproducing the work of others rather than breaking new ground in research. If you read critiques of his work, you may also agree with me that his conclusions are known to lack balance. He knows how to speak eloquently, is very familiar with at least one side of the controversy he specialises in and he knows how to throw in some jargon here and there, but is this enough to be ‘scholarly’? If anyone reads lots of books about a particular subject, are they fit to be called a scholar? Arguably yes. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines ‘scholar’ as someone who has done advanced study in a special field or is ‘learned’ or holds a scholarship. The term could be applied to any learned but narrow-minded ideologue just as much to anyone else who has done in-depth study. On that basis, the term doesnt sound so fancy or reflective of no bias, does it?

What’s worse is when people refer to non-specific ‘scholarship’ to bolster their case. EG without naming a scholar, they make statements such as “modern scholarship has found that …”. I recently challenged a blogger to substantiate their particuar argument, asking him to refer me to relevant material online (I dont want to have to buy the books of authors whose work is poor quality). He declined, stating that quality material supporting his position is available if I search it out. Where is the strength of argument in that? He claims that the brains support his side of the debate, but when asked for proof, he doesnt refer me to any. And when I referred to other blog sites, he responded that he doesnt consider blog sites to be a scholarly form. He seemed to imply that books were the only material worthy of consideration. What’s worse though, is that we were discussing Christian theology; IE a religion that teaches you dont need to be special or gifted in order to be a hero. A religion that treats steriotypical elitism with distain. Academic books have their place, but this blogger was arguing that if you want to really grasp his doctrine (which is counter-intuitive to what you read in the Bible), your only option is to read the book of a ‘scholar’. That is an example of hiding behind intellectual snobbery, and it’s not congruent with the Christian teaching that Christianity is accessible to anybody.

Another finding that has disappointed me, is the lack of enthusiasm by academics, to dialogue with those who disagree with them. Words like ‘scholar’ and ‘academic’ seem to go hand in hand. I would hope that neither would be closed-minded ideologues, but rather would be happy to discuss alternate points of view. Ive come across several academics who are happy to publicise their views on a blog, but who either dont display the feedback that I leave using their feedback function, or who disable blog feedback (EG, as at Feb. 2013) on their controversial posts that interest me. On the bright side, I did have some ongoing dialogue with one academic, but after half a dozen exchanges he too stopped responding before we had reached a sense of agreement 😦 Academics themselves have pointed out this problem too –

 

Due to potential misunderstandings, the second to last paragraph of the above post has been edited subsequent to initial publication, primarily to include the words “Academic books have their place”. The final paragraph and youtube clip were also added subsequent to initial publication of the post.

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43 Comments on “The Flakiness Of Claims To Biblical Scholarship”

    • stasisonline says:

      This ‘comment’ is a postscript for anyone who may be following the discussion between myself and Dan of http://coolingtwilight.com as per the above comment. Our discussion was initially primarily about whether a Christian can believe that homosexuality isnt a sin. I was arguing that although homosexual orientation (ie homosexual temptation) isnt a sin, homosexual sex is a sin, and that by not believing the Bible, a Christian’s salvation is placed in doubt. So anyway, Im posting this comment because I just came across something relevant to the discussion. That is Romans 1:32, which expresses disapproval of those that approve of sin.

      • Dan says:

        Who is the “they” in Romans 1.32?

      • stasisonline says:

        Dan, for you to ask me about what a Bible passage means, sounds like a trap! But it’s a fair question, and here’s my interpretation: “They” is used twice in that verse, and my guess is that both times Paul is referring to the same category of people. I think the verse lies in a section about gross violation of Biblical principles by people that Paul says should know better. Some today will probably interpret ‘they’ of verse 32 to refer simply to active homosexuals. But I think Paul is painting with broad brushstrokes in this chapter, ie I dont think he’s referring to those who engage in every single sin listed in verses 18-32, but rather to those who broadly engage in those sins. I think ‘they’ of verse 32 refers to people who tend to fit the description of suppressing God’s truth by their wickedness (v. 18). And who knew God, but neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him (v. 21). And who claimed to be wise, but became fools (v. 23). And who exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator (v. 25). And who did not value the Scriptures (v. 28). And who engage in the types of sins listed in verses 26-31.
        But whatever the case, those who approve of people who practice gay sex, are portrayed unfavourably by Paul in verse 32.

  1. Asking what a Bible passage means sounds like a trap? Then we’re going to run into a lot of potential traps when discussing the Bible!

    I think you’re right in your identification of the “they” in Roman 1.32. It seems pretty clear that Paul is referring to a general group of people that are engaged in on-going, intentional and blatant sin.

    And not only do they continue to engage in such practices, they do so in full knowledge that what they’re doing is a direct rejection of God…and those same people also approve of others engaged in the same sinful behaviors. But Paul’s statement in v.32 is limited solely to that specific group of people…it says nothing about people outside that group of wicked people.

    I don’t think one can derive a universal principle regarding God’s opinion of those who approve of sin solely from Romans 1.32. The only principle you can get from that verse is that extremely wicked people continue to do extremely wicked things and tend to approve of others who do such things.

    But things get very interesting if you keep reading on to chapter 2…

    • stasisonline says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Dan. And yes, I agree that chapter 2 is illuminating. Ill have to hold you to the same standard to which you held me on your blog though – IE no changing the subject (eg to hypocracy to or juding others) at this point. But chapter 2 does help us get a better grasp on chapter one.

      I understand you to be claiming that Romans 1:32 is about extremely wicked people only, and does not apply to others. But then in chapter 2, verse 1, Paul tells the Roman Christians that they too are guilty of the sins of chapter one. He says that what he has said in chapter one is relevant to the Roman Christians too. These Roman Christians preach and discourage sin and make an attempt to be righteous (Rom. 2:21-23) yet Paul says they too commit the sins of chapter one … and Paul quite possibly includes in this the sin of approving the sins of others. So on that basis, I cant agree that chapter one is only about extremely wicked people, if you are saying chapter one does not apply for example to those who call themselves Christians.

      We do not know (as far as Im aware) whether the Roman Christians were fairly homoegenous in regards to which of the chapter one sins they were committing, or whether all of the sins were committed by differing Roman Christians committing different sins, etc. And we dont know whether Paul’s Rom 2:1 reference to chapter 1 was necessarily including the approval of sin noted in Rom. 1:32. IE I acknowlege that we dont have 100% insight about the intended application of Rom. 1:32. But, I find your analysis to be quite dismissive and appearing to be dogmatic in regards to the question of whether Rom. 1:32 may apply to people who are not more wicked than most. If it’s debatable whether Rom. 1:32 is intended to apply to the average Christian of today, what reason do we have to believe that it does or does not? In favour is the fact that Paul was talking fairly generally in chapter one; not referring to a particular race or similar category of people to whom it is clear that the doctrines are intended for them only. Also, the sins identified in chapter one are not incongruent to universal sins identified elsewhere in the New Testament, so why would verse 32 be an exception? And Im not aware of any scriptures elsewhere in the canon which indicate that it is permissable for Christians to approve the sins of others. To the contrary, there are other scriptures which encourage Christians to discourage others from sin. So as far as I can see, it would be more likely than unlikely that Rom. 1:32 is intended to apply to all. But I make mistakes at times and Id be interested to hear if Im off track, and grateful for any corrections offered!

      Thanks for your interaction, Dan.

      • Approving of, agreeing with, consenting to, or sympathizing with sin is not presented in a positive light in the NT. Saul/Paul approves of the murder of Stephen (Acts 8.1, Acts 22.20). Jesus accuses the Pharisees of approving of killing the prophets (Luke 11.48). And in Romans 1.32, Paul says the wicked are so wicked they even approve of the sins of others. So I’m not saying that approving of sin is a good, or even a neutral, thing.

        But Romans 1.32 doesn’t say anything at all about someone who supports actions or behaviors that they sincerely believe aren’t sinful. As a Christian, there are any number of beliefs and behaviors that I think are sinful, and any number of beliefs and behaviors that I think aren’t sinful. And I do my best to judge those things by praying, listening to my conscience, listening for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and ultimately turning to Scripture. But if I’m wrong about one of those things, that doesn’t mean that I’m consciously and deliberately condoning and approving of sin.

        For example, many Christians are vehemently apposed to the consumption of alcoholic beverages (Prov. 20.1, Prov. 23.20-21, Rom. 13.13, 1 Cor. 6.10 and many more). I, however, though I drink very rarely, don’t think that consuming alcoholic drinks is necessarily a sin. And if I’m at dinner with a friend and offer to buy him a beer or two — thus “approving” of his drinking that beer — have I sinned? Is my salvation now in question?

        Likewise, if I, as a Christian, think that Romans 1 and other NT passages purporting to condemn all homosexual behavior as sinful aren’t necessarily addressing modern, committed, loving homosexual relationships, have I sinned? Is my salvation now in question?

      • stasisonline says:

        Dan, youre asking whether mistakenly violating scripture/God’s wishes, in good conscience, is a sin big enough to bring your salvation into doubt. Well, I dont know for sure. That’s not a topic Im very familiar with. I hope and like to think that God’s grace covers small innocent mistakes. My guess is that there is no black and white answer to your question. Perhaps it depends on the extent of the violation?

        In your case Dan, I suggest that the extent of the violation is moderate rather than small though. Your vocabulary and thoughts expressed, suggest that you are an intelligent person who is knowledgeable about Scripture. That being the case, you ought to have a good grasp on what Scripture says about homosexual activity. Please forgive me if I jump to conclusions, but my honest perception based on my limited reading of your online prose, is that (perhaps influenced by broader ideological bias) you are dogmatically committed to the idea that homosexual sex is no more sinful than heterosexual sex. IE you want to believe something that contradicts what Scripture says at face value, and you are dismissive of the idea that your position may be incorrect. Are you really sure you are not more committed to your dogma than to God himself? In your most recent reply, you claim that Scripture is your ultimate guide, but are you sure that your consience is not actually your primary guide (falling into the trap of not following Proverbs 3:5, and falling victim to the warning of Jeremiah 17:9)? I sense that your conscience leans towards the ideologies of the political left, leading you at times away from an unbiased reading of Scripture. Do you seek out theological books that claim that the Bible does not oppose homosexual sex, and simply embrace these claims, rather than truly evaluating both sides of the story? In your blog post that first led me to interact with you, you identified the right-wing bias that pulls conservative Christians away from an unbiased theology. Yes, for some of us, politics overshadows pure Biblical theology. In your case, does a left-wing bias pull you away from an unbiased theology? If a political ideology sways a person away from believing what Scripture fairly plainly and repeatedly states, I think this could make salvation precarious. Whether it would be cause to loose salvation though, I dont think I can know for sure. Hopefully God will honor our good intentions.

  2. Here’s the problem…I essentially feel the same way about your position: my perception is that you are dogmatically committed to the idea that homosexual sex is always sinful, that you only want to believe your “face value” reading of Scripture and that you are dismissive of the idea that your position may be incorrect. It seems to me that this issue is of such overwhelming importance to you that I do really wonder if you are more committed to your view than to God. You seem unwilling to try and read Scripture without bias and you are unwilling to seek out books that disagree with your understanding. I also hope that God will honor your good intentions.

    I’m not trying to be smart by just parroting back your words; from my perspective they really do seem applicable to you. But please don’t accuse me of not taking Scripture seriously, of giving in to a liberal bias, of letting my wayward conscience subvert the truth and of perhaps only “precariously” clinging to salvation. We have a profound disagreement on this issue, but that disagreement certainly doesn’t warrant such uncharitable accusations.

    • stasisonline says:

      Sorry Dan, I dont mean to be uncharitable to you. Im not sure that I have actually been uncharitable, but none the less, Im sorry that my words lead anyone to perceive that I have been uncharitable to them. I felt it was best to be frank and engage in a direct approach, rather than being too polite to express what I see as the real issues. I believe that it is charitable to point out to another Christian that they are in dangerous waters, and to encourage them towards truth (James 5:19-20).

      Im surprised to find that we both perceive each other to be biased and dogmatic. I genuinely find it incredulous to think that an honest interpretation of the Bible allows for homosexual sex for Christians. And it seems that you find it incredulous to think that an honest interpretation of the Bible does not allow for homosexual sex for Christians. I posit that a human being in a cultural vacuum (if that were possible), when reading the Bible, would conclude that homosexual sex is always sinful. Furthermore, I posit that the reader would only conclude otherwise, if they consume material which teaches them that the Bible does not mean what it appears to say on this topic.

      I have reasons for my perceptions of bias etc on your part. But Im at a loss to understand why I would be perceived as biased, narrow-minded or dismissive. Could you explain the basis for perceiving me to be this way?

      • Dan says:

        I think the answer to your question lies in my response to this statement of yours: “I posit that a human being in a cultural vacuum (if that were possible), when reading the Bible, would conclude that homosexual sex is always sinful.”

        The idea that you have identified with absolute certainty the one, true, objective understanding of the text seems to me the height of hubris. The books of the Bible were written at specific times in specific languages in specific places to specific people and for specific reasons. To even posit a culturally neutral reading is to deny the very real and very important nature of what the Bible actually is. The first person (maybe Phoebe?) to read Paul’s letter to the church in Rome would have had all sorts of cultural understandings about Jews and Gentiles, about God and Israel, and about Jesus and the nascent church that we can only speculate about. And she would have brought all those understandings to the letter, and she might have made some mistakes in understanding what Paul meant, and she might have changed her mind about some aspects of his message as she read it and studied it and pondered it. And she would have asked questions about it and discussed it with other Christians and hopefully would not have clung to her own understanding as necessarily being the correct one. And we would be wise to do the same, with the added understanding that we are now some 2,000 years removed from the culture and context and language of that letter.

        It’s great to read the Bible and study it and arrive at conclusions about it. But when we elevate our own particular understanding of the text as being absolutely and definitively “correct” over and against the honest and sincere conclusions of other Christians — especially to the extent that we end up questioning each other’s salvation — we should perhaps heed the words of Paul in Romans 2: “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”

      • stasisonline says:

        I acknowledge Paul’s warning in Rom. 2:1, but I think he was talking literally, IE was saying that Christians in Rome who were judging were doing exactly (not generally) what they criticised others of doing. I think Rom. 2:1 echos Mat. 7:3-5 and does not negate John 7:24 or Galatians 6:1.

        In regards to hubris, at times during this conversation I have used words expressing non-certainty, EG “it’s fairly clear” (January 3), and at other times I have expressed greater certainty. But I dont think I have expressed greater certainty over my understanding than you have over yours? This conversation started with you posting your belief that salvation is not restricted to those who believe some stereotypical right wing beliefs (Dec. 28th). I interpret you in that post to be expressing certainty yourself. I responded by claiming that salvation is not as widely granted as you had suggested. I dont see how either of those claims has greater hubris than the other?

        Yes I acknowledge that you are right that the Bible is coloured by the cultures in which it was written. But we are not Phoebe (or whomever) basing a doctrine on a single Scriptural reference.
        The Bible contains several sections portraying gay sex as sinful, or promoting heterosexual relationships as the Christian norm for romantic couplings, and these sections arise from various cultures. The combined weight of this suggests that the relevant scriptures were not limited to being culturally specific, but rather are intended to be universal. But I agree with you that Christians should reflect on and discuss the Scriptures, seeking to come to an intelligent and balanced interpretation of them. I guess this could be what you and I are doing now. I sense that you feel gay sex is unlikely to be sinful in God’s eyes today, and Id love to know the Biblical basis for why you have concluded this … I just dont want to have to buy a book in order to learn your perspective.

  3. Romans 2.1 clearly isn’t addressed specifically to Christians in Rome. Paul switches to the second person singular (not plural): “you”. This is a classic example of diatribe, a widely recognized rhetorical convention in which he engages in dialogue with an imaginary interlocutor. Exactly who this opponent is remains open to debate…but a compelling case can be made that Romans 2.1 is addressed to the individual who made the speech in Romans 1.18-32 that so vehemently condemns Gentiles — so it is likely a Hellenistic Jew.

    As to certainty…only God has absolute certainty about these matters. But the fact that you seem intent on asserting that homosexual behavior is likely to exclude one from a salvific relationship with God deeply troubles me. Even if I grant your premise that homosexual behavior is heinous sin, that has little bearing on the gospel message of the NT. We all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Rom. 3.23), we are all unrighteous (Rom. 3.11), but “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8.1).

    It amazes me that homosexuality seems to be an issue of paramount importance to you when the Bible does not depict it as such. Do you devote an equal amount of time and effort to decrying greed and strife and deceit and gossip and slander and insolence and arrogance and boastfulness and idolatry and adultery and drunkenness?

    I sense that you think slavery likely to be sinful in God’s eyes today…I’d love to know the Biblical basis for why you have concluded this…

    • stasisonline says:

      I dont know much about rhetorical conventions in Kione Greek, but I do know that Romans opens with an introduction that includes lines such as Rom. 1:7 IE “To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people”. This suggests to me that the Epistle (including Rom. 2:1) is addressed primarily to the Christians (plural) of Rome. I remember a teacher I had in school, who regularly used to speak to the whole class of “a person” who wasnt towing the line, and we students though we were not yet even teenagers, read between the lines that although she spoke in the singular, she quite probably was referring to more than one person. If the identity of imaginary person of Rom. 2 remains open to debate, I suspect part of that debate includes the possibility that the ‘person’ is actually representative of a ‘people’?

      Indeed there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1). But who is in Christ Jesus? The Gospels do not quote Jesus saying “whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven, unless they are a regular church attendee” (Mat 10:33). Likewise the Gospels do not state “whoever finds their life will lose it, unless they call themselves a Christian” (Mat 10:39). Rather the New Testament expresses that some will gain salvation but many wont (Mat. 7:12-14), and that some will expect to gain salvation but actually wont gain it (Mat. 7:22-24) and that those who do gain salvation are those who comply with Jesus’ teachings. Those who dont comply with Jesus’ teachings would not actually be “in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1) and are subject to condemnation and should not expect to gain salvation.

      Your claim that I perceive homosexuality to be of paramount importance, is recycling ground we have covered previously, eg
      http://coolingtwilight.com/can-you-be-a-christian-and-still-believe/#comment-229
      The Bible states that males who continue to engage in homosexual sex should not expect salvation (1 Cor. 6:9). IE the Bible depicts male gay sex as vitally significant. If you wish to claim otherwise, I suggest that the burden of proof lies with you. Proof you seem to be reticent about?

      Hopefully Im not just being unduely cynical in my old age, but Im perceiving your raising of slavery, partially as an attempt to deflect from the reality of what the Bible states about homosexual sex. For the record though, I think the question of whether slavery would be sinful in God’s eyes today, is not black and white, but I doubt that God has changed his mind over the last 2 millennia about is and what is not sinful.

      Thanks again for your replies, and my apologies for my tardiness.

      • Let me ask you again: given that 1 Cor. 6.9-10 also mentions sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, theft, greed, drunkenness, slander and extortion as pertaining to salvation, why do you focus on homosexuality as an issue of paramount importance? Why not start a blog devoted to the dangers of alcohol and drunkenness? Why not write posts decrying the greed and materialism that so pervade our modern society? Why don’t you spend your time pointing out the numerous idols that we worship in place of God? I’m not saying that issues related to homosexuality aren’t important (they clearly are), but why for you do they seem so much more important than other issues that are given equal or more attention in the Bible?

        You (ironically) say that that slavery isn’t a black and white issue and that God doesn’t change his mind on these things — are you saying that slavery isn’t necessarily sinful? That it’s ok to own slaves as long as one treats them well? Is that your position?

        Finally, Romans 2.1 can’t be addressed to the Roman Christians to whom the entire letter is written — of that there’s no room for debate: the vocative “ὦ ἄνθρωπε” (O man) simply doesn’t allow for that.

      • stasisonline says:

        Dan, sorry for my delay in replying.

        I guess I wasnt clear previously about the question of paramount importance. So to clarify, I dont think that homosexual sex is more important than idolatry, adultery, theft, greed, drunkenness, slander or extortion. I write more about homosexuality than the other sins, because in this era, other people are talking about it a lot, and Ive joined the broader conversation. I see nothing wrong with specialisation. If someone else wants to focus on drunkenness, and someone else on theft, while I focus on homosexuality, I think that’s a good thing and is congruent with 1 Cor. 12.

        Yes, I believe that slavery is not necessarily sinful. I think it can be sinful, but that the Bible indicates that God has declared that in some circumstances it is not sinful.

        Unfortunately Im sceptical of your statement that Romans 2.1 can’t be addressed to the Roman Christians to whom the entire letter is written. It seems odd to me that the English translations Ive read would be worded as they are, if that were the case. If it were the case, I would hope that the commentaries Ive read would have also pointed it out, but they did not.

        Best regards.

      • Pat says:

        I wonder what you think about Alan Chambers from Exodus International saying that people who engage in gay sex may still go to heaven just by believing in Jesus (his view on eternal salvation).

      • stasisonline says:

        Pat, I think that contradicts 1 Corinthians 6:9, so Alan would likely be wrong.

  4. Citing 1 Cor 12. as biblical support for focusing on homosexuality to the exclusion of all else seems to be stretching the intent of that passage. Do you feel it’s your special calling from God to focus on homosexuality? That your role in the body of Christ is to bring the truth about homosexuality to the internet? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with specialization, but it just seems a bit arbitrary to me, especially when there are so many greater issues facing Christendom.

    I’m sorry to hear that you think slavery isn’t necessarily sinful – I’m not even going to try and rebut that point, as it speaks for itself and highlights the vast differences in our understanding of the Bible.

    Romans 2.1a says: “Therefore, you [singular] are without excuse, O man, everyone who judges.” In chapter 1, verses 18-32, Paul uses the third person plural: “they.” In chapter 2, verse 1, he makes a notable shift to the second personal singular: “you.” Had he wanted to address this verse to the entire Christian church in Rome, he would have used the plural “you.” I’m not sure what commentaries you’re reading that fail to draw attention to this fact, but I suggest you expand your reading. The commentaries on Romans by Schreiner, Cranfield, Morris, Moo and Dunn all draw attention to the rhetorical conventions Paul is using in this passage.

    • stasisonline says:

      Yes Im not saying that 1 Cor. 12 applies directly, but merely that 1 Cor. 12 supports the concept of specialization. Is this my calling? Ive not considered that before, but yes, perhaps it is a key calling for me? I reckon salvation and interpretation of Scripture about salvation is a major issue, since it has vital eternal consequences for individuals.

      The commentaries I read about Rom. 2:1 did draw attention to verse 1 referring to a single person. But they didnt state your claim, ie that “Romans 2.1 can’t be addressed to the Roman Christians to whom the entire letter is written — of that there’s no room for debate …” Commentaries by John Gill and Wesley seem to me to actually disagree with your claim.

      I guess you still dont wish to discuss why it is that you believe that practising homosexuals are not excluded from salvation?

      • If v.1 is addressed to a single person, then it can’t be addressed to an entire community. I’m not sure how you can argue otherwise.

        Sure we can keep chatting about the potential soteriological state of practicing homosexuals. To get us back on track, does your entire argument rest upon 1 Cor. 6.9? As in, if that verse wasn’t in the Bible, would you say that, though homosexual practice is sinful, a practicing homosexual could still be saved? I’m just trying to figure out precisely where you’re coming from here…

      • stasisonline says:

        The possibility that Rom. 2:1 refers to an entire community, seems to me to have some substantiation if the singular ‘you’ is representative of a larger group. Someone once wrote to me that in Rom. 2:1, “Paul switches to the second person singular (not plural): “you”. This is a classic example of diatribe, a widely recognized rhetorical convention in which he engages in dialogue with an imaginary interlocutor. Exactly who this opponent is remains open to debate…” Various esteemed commentaries seem to state that the ‘opponent’ may represent a group of some sort.

        In regards to salvation of practising homosexuals, no my entire doctrine does not rest entirely upon 1 Cor. 6:9, however that verse is foundational to the doctrine and a great place to start. I perceive the revelation of the exact requirements for salvation, to be a little fuzzy rather than discrete, but central to it is to have faith in God and a dedicated commitment to comply with His teachings. And I perceive His teachings to include a prohibition of homosexual sex. Where Im coming from, is largely a fairly straight-forward reading of the 2011 NIV Bible with various other sources used for background information. So yes lets start with 1 Cor. 6:9.

  5. That someone who wrote to you regarding diatribe must be a very wise person. I would pay attention to him. Who the “you” in Rom 2.1 is a good question. But the “you” is a singular person. So is it a Jew who has been agreeing with the accusations against Gentiles in Rom. 1? Is it a a Gentile Christian (as referenced in Rom 2.14)? Is it a Christian facing future judgement (Rom. 2.13)? Is it a completely imaginary opponent that Paul actually disagrees with? But what it isn’t is a the total group of Roman Christians. You have yet to provide any textual basis for it being that.

    I’m confused about your second paragraph. Where does the fuzziness come in? Is there another passage that you’d point to in order to say that practicing homosexuals can’t be saved? How fuzzy do you think the requirements for salvation are? You say “a dedicated commitment to comply with His teachings” — if you fail to comply are you excluded from salvation? We all sin (or do you think we can attain perfection?) — if we continually sin, despite our best attempts not to, does that mean we’re not truly dedicated?

    • stasisonline says:

      Ive been corresponding with the person who wrote to me about diatribe, for quite some time, and it’s been an interesting dialogue.

      You seem to be quite keen to believe that Rom. 2 is only in reference to a single person, while the commentaries that I read, suggest that the single person is simply a rhetorical convention and that Paul is referencing a group of people. I have to weigh up who is more likely to be correct; you or widely respected writers of commentaries. It’s a gamble, but I tend to think the majority are more likely to be correct. But lets consider the middle ground. Perhaps Paul is not limiting Romans 2 as being addressed to only one person, and perhaps it’s not addressed to all Christians in Rome, but perhaps as Matthew Henry implies, it’s addressed to the Jews (plural) via that one person. If that’s the case, then Paul is saying that these Jews “are convinced that [they] are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark” (2:19) yet they “do the same things” (2:1) ie commit the same sins, such as approving those who practice sin (1:32). Unless there are other Scriptures to indicate that approving of sin is okay, I suggest it’s reasonable to conclude that approving of sin is more likely in God’s eyes to be generally a bad thing than a good thing.

      The fuzziness that I perceive in regards to requirements for salvation, largely arises from various Scriptures that could be interpreted to contradict each other. EG we are told that we are saved through faith rather than works (Eph 2:8) yet there are indications that various other practises must be followed (Luke 18:18-30) and there are different lists of apparently mandatory practices (eg Mat. 25:31-46). So a person might point to one passage and conclude that they have complied with it and that they therefore have gained salvation, but in fact they may not have complied with another passage which lists differing requirements for salvation. I wish it were possible to pull out a “salvation calculator” and input some figures to determine whether a person has inherited salvation or not, but such assurance seems to simply not be that easy to calculate.

      Are there additional passages that I would point to, to substantiate the claim that practising homosexuals do not inherit salvation? Yes, but they are probably less clear, so lets look at 1 Cor. 6:9 first. If a Christian fails to comply with God’s teachings, is the Christian excluded from salvation? I think it would depend on the degree to which they fail to comply. Can we attain perfection and never sin? No, but I think the Bible indicates that Christians should aim for that, none the less. If we continually sin, despite our best attempts not to, does that mean we’re not truly dedicated? No, if we are genuinely making our best attempt, then we are truly dedicated. But if a man marries another man and lives with him, yet believes that homosexual sex is sinful, then he is not genuinely making his best attempt to avoid sin.

      • ¢#@£ says:

        What do you think about the recent Matt Moore controversy?

      • stasisonline says:

        That’s a very broad question, ¢#@£. Ideologically, Matt and I are very very similar. My heart goes out to him and I respect him a lot, for his theological integrity and for his honesty. I agree with Randy Roberts Potts that if Matt was driven to suicide, the responsibility for it would be shared by those in the GLBT community who have been so harsh on him, eg calling him a fake straight, when in fact Matt never claimed to have become straight.

      • As far as Romans 2 goes, I’d encourage you and anyone else who’s interested to investigate the subject for themselves. It’s certainly not a matter of my idiosyncratic view against the views of “widely respected writers of commentaries.” Good starting points into the discussion might be Moo’s NICNT and NIVAC commentaries, Schreiner’s BECNT commentary, Cranfield’s ICC commentary, Dunn’s WBC commentary and Mounce’s NAC commentary.

        Your “fuzziness” regarding salvation concerns me…you seem to be saying that no one can really be certain of their salvation and that seemingly contradictory passages regarding faith and works ultimately leave our salvation in doubt. How do you understand passages such as John 3.36, John 5.24, Acts 10.43, Romans 5.1 and Romans 8.1 that offer clear assurance of our salvation?

        Furthermore, you say that the degree to which a Christian falls short of complying with God’s teachings determines whether or not they will be saved. You seem to be saying there’s a line that can’t be crossed: that a Christian, regenerated, having placed their faith in Christ and repented of their sins, fully justified before God and adopted into His family, can nevertheless commit a sin so intentionally grievous that they forfeit the salvation that is already theirs and undo the saving work that God accomplished in them?

        Finally, you say that “if a man marries another man and lives with him, yet believes that homosexual sex is sinful, then he is not genuinely making his best attempt to avoid sin.” But what if he believes that homosexual sex isn’t necessarily sinful? And so he is genuinely making his best attempt to avoid sin?

      • stasisonline says:

        Welcome back Dan. It’s good to hear from you and I trust that life is going well for you.

        Oddly enough, of the commentary writers that you chose to cite in your last reply, those of which I found easy access, all seem to favour the interpretation that Paul in early Rom. 2, is ultimately addressing a group rather than an individual. This is the case for Moo (NIVAC), Cranfield (Romans: A Shorter Commentary) and Mounce (NAC, vol. 27). So at this point, I remain of the impression that your favoured interpretation is held by a minority rather than a majority of New Testament experts. Thank you for pointing me to sources that have broadened my understanding of Rom. 2. But I think my original point remains largely valid. IE that Rom. 1:31 portrays the approving of sin to be a bad thing and that it seems more likely than unlikely that approving of sins is a bad thing no matter who does it.

        I understand how you would feel concerned about my impression of requirements for salvation being fuzzy. It’s not a comfortable position to be unsure of one’s salvation. But Scripture does teach us that some are mistaken about having salvation (Mat. 27:22-23), so we are taught not to be overly confident of having gained it. Although certainty of salvation can be difficult to attain, I think confidence of salvation is attainable. IE ‘confidence’ in terms of approaching certainty. I dont think that the verses you cite in your most recent reply, state certainty. In isolation, they might mistakenly be interpreted to offer certainty. But as someone with similar ideologies to you, has repeatedly said to me recently, everything has a context which affects its intended meaning. The context of those verses is the New Testament, which includes contrasting verses such as James 2:20 and others that I cited previously. Accordingly, I think to determine requirements for salvation solely on the verses you have cited, would be in my opinion, to cherry-pick the Bible – not that Im accusing you of that in this instance. However, I do think that the verses you have cited do illustrate the basis – the core – of New Testament teachings of salvation. IE faith in Jesus is key to salvation, even though it’s not the only component. Do you think that verses such as James 2:20 are irrelevant?

        Your question of whether a Christian can loose their salvation, raises the “once saved, always saved” doctrinal controversy. IE the controversy about whether someone who is fully following Jesus, but then eg walks in the completely opposite direction and physically dies, has lost their salvation, or whether that person was actually never saved in the first place. To avoid the details of that controversy, Im not commenting on whether they had initially gained salvation, but rather I will focus on whether they had salvation at their point of death. My answer is that I think that someone who dies at a point when they were no longer being compliant with Jesus’ teachings, generally does not have salvation. My understanding is based on Scriptures such as Mat. 10:22, Luke 8:4-15, Heb. 3:14 and 10:26, Rev. 2:10.

        Finally, you ask about the case of a Christian who engages in homosexual sex while not thinking it to be a sin, and who is genuinely making his best attempt to avoid sin. Well, on the one hand, sin leads to death, but on the other hand, God judges the heart and is merciful to those who dont know better. So I think there are arguments either way, and I dont feel certain about which would prevail in this case. In weighing it up though, one relevant factor would be whether that person had access to the Bible. If the reason they mistakenly thought that homosexual sex was not sinful, was because they hadnt bothered to study Scripture, or if their theology is derived from teachers they have sought out to in order to suit their flesh rather than their spirit, then they are not genuinely making a best attempt to avoid sin.

        Best regards,
        Stasis

        PS what happened to the idea of discussing 1 Cor. 6:9?

  6. […] exchange resulted in Stasis post­ing a con­fus­ing rant that seems to denounce intel­lec­tual engage­ment with Christian belief. For Stasis, since […]

  7. Dan says:

    Regarding Romans 2…this is getting silly. Here’s Moo from the NIVAC: “Paul signals a shift in his argument at the beginning of chapter 2 by abandoning the third plural verbs he has used throughout 1:18 — 32 (i.e., ‘they knew God’; ‘they exchanged’; ‘they know God’s righteous decree’) in favor of the second person singular: ‘You, therefore, have no excuse.’ This change suggests he is now turning his attention to a different group of people. The second person address could, of course, mean he is now speaking directly to the Roman Christians. But why would he use a singular form of ‘you’ if this were his intention? It seems unlikely that he is addressing a single person in the church.”

    I don’t know how to spell it out much more clearly than that. Of the twelve times Paul says “you” in Romans 1, all of them are plural. He’s addressing the Christian church in Rome. And then in Romans 2 he makes the shift to the singular “you.” Unless you want to argue that he is now oddly singling out a lone individual in the Roman church, it makes no sense for him to make that change unless he’s also changing who he’s addressing. And in this case, he’s clearly pitting two opponents against one another in the classic rhetorical form of diatribe.

    Again, I agree that approving of sin is always a bad thing. I’ve never said anything different. Sin is bad, okay? Saying that’s something is good when it’s bad is also bad. Agreed?
    As to salvation … I’m not sure what your background is on this subject, but it seems to me to be consistent with a Roman Catholic understanding of justification and salvation. Is that where you’re coming from? If so, that certainly explains our very different understandings of salvation and justification. For you, salvation seems to be a tenuous thing, constantly in danger of slipping through your fingers and in need of constant maintenance. To me, it is a wonderful gift given by God’s grace that can’t be lost (John 6.39-40, John 10.27-29) .

    You seem willing to grant an exception for ignorance: if a Christian has a genuinely mistaken understanding about the nature of homosexuality as a sin, then God will show him or her mercy, provided they have made a truly dedicated effort to avoid sin in their life. So you do allow that it’s at least possible to be a Christian (that is, a Christian who will be saved — I feel the need to add that caveat since according to you being a Christian isn’t sufficient grounds for being saved) and a practicing homosexual?

    As to 1 Corinthians 6.1-11: can we agree that in these verses Paul is discussing the problem of Christians suing one another in civil court to settle disputes and that in doing so they are behaving in a decidedly un-Christian manner? That the existence of such disputes among them and their desire to battle them out in court is evidence of their desire to cheat and wrong one another, and that in doing so they’re behaving wickedly? But he reminds them that they’re better than such behavior. They’ve put all that behind them and now stand clean before God. So they need to stop behaving wickedly, they need to stop wronging and cheating one another, and need to settle their disputes among themselves.

    • stasisonline says:

      Thanks Dan. I wonder if we are both getting lost in our discussion about Rom. 2:1? Lets recap. In January, in my semi-ignorance, I wrote that I was “sceptical of your statement that Romans 2.1 can’t be addressed to the Roman Christians to whom the entire letter is written”. Then on January 31st, you wrote that “If v.1 is addressed to a single person, then it can’t be addressed to an entire community. I’m not sure how you can argue otherwise.” And on February 1, you wrote “Who the ‘you’ in Rom 2.1 is a good question. But the ‘you’ is a singular person. So is it a Jew who has been agreeing with the accusations against Gentiles in Rom. 1? Is it a a Gentile Christian (as referenced in Rom 2.14)? Is it a Christian facing future judgement (Rom. 2.13)? Is it a completely imaginary opponent that Paul actually disagrees with? But what it isn’t is a the total group of Roman Christians.” IE you began to continually portray Rom. 2:1 as being about a single person, and it seemed to me that you didnt realise/recognise that the commentaries often talk of the ‘you’ being representative of a larger group. More recently, you referred me to various additional commentaries, some of which I looked up and which broadened my understanding. The commentaries also agreed with what I had read in recent days/weeks about the ‘you’ being representative of a larger group, eg Jews, so I pointed this out to you, suggesting it contradicted your recent apparent interpretation of the ‘you’ being limited to a single person only. Basically, Im at peace with your above quote from Moo from the NIVAC. However this discussion was from my point of view, off topic, because back on January 12th you had already agreed with my point that approving of sin is sinful itself, which was the point I was initially trying to make by talking about Romans. If you agree with Moo (or even if you dont), I think we can move on from the topic of Rom. 2:1.

      As to a theology of salvation, I’m not sure what my background is on this subject either. My background is probably from various traditions, but not primarily Roman Catholic. Yes, I see salvation as like sand (or perhaps more so, pebbles) that are in danger of slipping through your fingers if not continuing to maintain a dedication to Christ. I do not read John 6:39-40 and John 10:27-29 as trumping other relevant verses, and it seems that conversely you do not read James 2:17 etc as trumping other relevant verses.

      Yes I think it might be possible to be a practicing homosexual and be saved due to ignorance of Scripture, but I think the circumstances would be unusual and would not be true of most contemporary Americans.

      Yes, I think your assessment of 1 Cor. 6:1-11 sounds reasonable.

      kind regards.

      • We have agreement! Hurrah!

        As to Roman 2.1, I’m sorry if there was confusion on your part on what I was saying. I do think it is relevant to the discussion of homosexuality in the NT insofar as it’s important to understand the rhetorical conventions that Paul is using and to understand who he is addressing and who’s arguments he’s quoting and who’s arguments he’s refuting. The relationship between Roman 2.1 and Roman 1.17-32 is important — you can’t just read 1.17-32 as a condemnation of wicked behavior and then stop. You have to keep reading on to 2.1 where Paul pretty much yells at the person who just made those condemnations.

        Given your uncertainty regarding the nature of salvation, may I suggest that clarifying the theological and historical traditions that inform your understanding might be time better spent than focusing on issues relating to homosexuality? I don’t think it’s simply a matter of choosing some verses that “trump” other verses. It’s a matter of developing a systematic understanding of what the Bible teaches about salvation. I read James 2.17 in the reformed tradition of “We are justified by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.” That is, true saving faith is always accompanied by works, but a “faith” that lacks works isn’t really faith at all, it’s just a pretense.

        And since we’re on the same page regarding 1 Cor. 6.1-11, I guess that wraps up the discussion!

      • stasisonline says:

        So we agree then that most of those who claim the name of Christ yet engage in homosexual sex, do not have salvation?

  8. No. I have no idea how you could come to that conclusion from what I said — or from what Paul said.

    • stasisonline says:

      Well you wrote that we are on the same page regarding 1 Cor. 6.1-11, but it would seem that we are not.

      According to the most recent update of the NIV, in 1 Cor. 6:9, Paul wrote that men who have sex with men will not inherit the kingdom of God. So I cant see how those who claim the name of Christ yet engage in homosexual sex, would have salvation. I sense that you hold to a version of the “once saved, always saved” doctrine, but that doctrine does not seem to me to fit well with passages such as this one. The doctrine forces you to interpret passages to mean other than what they state at face value.

      • I don’t think 1 Cor. 6.9 in any way undermines the doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints — but I also think it can be read in a way that is consistent with varying views on Eternal Security without inappropriately reinterpreting the text. However, I don’t think the message of 1 Cor. 6 is that Christians’ salvation is in peril unless they turn from sin. Rather, it’s that Christians need to live up to their new lives as members of the body of Christ.

        The Christians in Corinth are struggling with sin. They’re cheating and wronging one another; they’re engaging in sexual immorality — but they’re still Christians, and Paul is admonishing them to fulfill the life they have been called to in Christ. He says that there isn’t room for evil in God’s kingdom (v. 9) and since they know this, they need to stop behaving as if their actions don’t matter (v. 12). He doesn’t say that because of their sins they need to repent and turn/return to Christ lest they lose their salvation — he says that since they have placed their faith in Christ and have been justified they need to remember that fact and flee from sin.

      • stasisonline says:

        Yes, the Christians in Corinth are struggling with sin. Yep, they’re cheating and wronging one another; they’re engaging in sexual immorality. Yes, Paul says that there isn’t room for evil in God’s kingdom (v. 9) and since they know this, they need to stop behaving as if their actions don’t matter (v. 12).

        In verses 9 and 10, Paul wrote that people who engage in the sins listed, will not inherit the kingdom of God. But you interpret that Paul “doesn’t say that because of their sins they need to repent and turn/return to Christ lest they lose their salvation”. Paul doesnt say that explicitly, but it seems implied. Are you saying that Christians who engage in those listed sins will retain their salvation, but wont inherit the kingdom of God?

      • At the risk of grossly over-simplifying this passage, I read Paul as saying:

        1. You’re Christians (v. 2).
        2. You’ve been sinning against each other (v. 8).
        3. Sinners can’t be part of God’s kingdom (v. 9-10).
        4. But you’re Christians so you ARE part of God’s kingdom (v. 11).
        5. So live up to that citizenship and act like what you are (v. 12-13).

        It seems like you’re stuck on #3 (vs. 9-10) and not paying attention to the context of what Paul’s saying. You seem to think he’s saying “Hey look, you’re sinners, you’re wronging and cheating each other and engaging in sexual immorality, and sinners can’t go to heaven. So repent of your sins, and believe in Christ! Stop sinning and become Christians so that you will be saved!” But he says almost the exact opposite! He says “Hey look, you’re Christians, but you’re wronging and cheating each other and engaging in sexual immorality. You know better than that, you know that there isn’t sin in God’s kingdom. But you are part of God’s kingdom, so you need to stop acting like you’re not. What you do is important, so start living like the Christians you are!”

      • stasisonline says:

        Thanks Dan, I welcome simplification. In fact, can we simplify it further? Specifically your point #4, because I dont see what you are seeing.

        1. You’re Christians (v. 2). Agreed.
        2. You’ve been sinning against each other (v. 8). Agreed.
        3. Sinners can’t be part of God’s kingdom (v. 9-10). Agreed.
        4. But you’re Christians so you ARE part of God’s kingdom (v. 11). Disagreed. I see this interpretation as eisegesis. I think your once-saved-always-saved glasses are telling you that verse 11 represents past, present and future tenses, because according to your preconceptions, tense does not matter. But when I read verse 11 across multiple translations, I consistently see it only as referring to past tense, conveyed by repeated use of the word ‘were’ and without any clear reference to present tense. And I think the fact that the verse refers to the past, was important to Paul, and is central to what he seeks to express at the start of verse 11. I think verse 11 primarily seeks to express a contrast between two spiritual statuses; first of those who engage in the sins of verses 9 and 10, and second, of those who have been washed, sanctified and justified. Those two consecutive spiritual statuses are portrayed as being in the past, without comment about the present. I think if Paul was wanting to say that they are Christians and ARE a part of God’s kingdom, he would have written in present tense.

        I forget what the limits are to the doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints. Is it absolute? EG if Hitler at one point dedicated himself to following Jesus, but then engaged in all the genocide and other horrors he did, would he have still received salvation in the end? I assume not, so what are the limits?

  9. To be clear, I don’t believe in “once saved, always saved.” I think that particular phrasing is unclear and unhelpful. Nor do I wear glasses.

    All of the verbs v. 11 are in the past tense. But you seem to say that having been washed, sanctified and justified are states solely relating to the past without implications for the present (or the future). To pick one of those three, what do you think it means to be justified? Do you think it’s something that happens in the past and doesn’t have any bearing on your present relationship with God?

    In I Cor. 6, Paul is clearly speaking to people who are still Christians. In the past they were washed, sanctified, justified and bought (v. 11, 20). And as a result, in the present, the Holy Spirit dwells in them (v. 19) and their bodies are part of Christ (v. 15). Do you really think their present status as believers in Christ is unclear?

    As to Perseverance … there aren’t “limits.” You sound like the Corinthians whom Paul is addressing: “I have the right to do anything.” If you’re a Christian, you’re called to follow Christ. Hitler? If Hitler had dedicated his life to following Jesus, he wouldn’t have lived his life as he did.

    I think a good parallel for understanding 1 Cor. 6 is Romans 6. Take a look at that entire chapter – Paul is saying essentially the same thing regarding sin and the Christian life in both places: Christians have been freed from sin and from death and so need to live their lives in light of that truth.

    • stasisonline says:

      No, Im not claiming that having been washed, sanctified and justified are states solely relating to the past without implications for the present or the future. My understanding of justification is as provided by Derek Prince. That is, to be justified is to be washed to a state where it’s “just [as] if I’d never sinned”. My understanding is that once justified, a person would basically remain justified … so long as they continue to live a holy life. And I gather it’s that requirement, that distinguishes your doctrines from mine when it comes to 1 Cor 6:11.

      Good point about v. 15 & 19. Yes I think Paul is implying that the Corinthian readers of the letter have salvation, by and large, at least. But I dont know how heterogeneous the Corinthian Christians were in terms of their sinfulness. However whether the Corinthian readers largely have salvation or not, might be beside the point. It would not be besides the point if the Corinthians are engaging the sins of v. 9, 10. But are they? Is Paul concerned that their degree of sin is bad, and is he articulating what he sees as the limit at which point salvation becomes doubtful? IE is he warning them that if they decline to the point of the sins of V. 9, 10 they will have crossed that line?
      Perhaps if I do my own paraphrase …

      v. 1 When there is a dispute between you, do you risk take it to the secular courts rather than sorting out amongst yourselves?
      v. 2 Dont you realise that Christians will judge the world? Are you incompetent to judge minor cases?
      v. 3 Dont you realise that we will judge not just angels but also normal matters?
      v. 4 So why give ordinary matters to outsiders to judge for you now?
      v. 5 This is a shame. Is there nobody wise enough amongst you do to this work?
      v. 6 Instead you are taking other believers before secular systems for them to judge.
      v. 7 This means that actually you are already defeated. It would be preferable to be wronged than to take such a matter before a secular court.
      v. 8 And worse, you are defrauding and wronging each other!
      v. 9 Take care that you do not risk your very salvation. Wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Dont misunderstand; Neither Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites,
      v. 10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, nor robbers will inherit salvation.
      v. 11 Formerly you engaged in such behaviour. But then you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God, set apart from such things. You must choose one path or the other, but its impossible to have both.

      Ive exercised creative licence there to illustrate what I suspect Paul is trying to communicate. Anyways, I see nothing within chapter 6, to indicate that those who engage in the sins of v. 9,10 will be saved, and I didnt find Romans 6 to illuminate anything new for me. I still think that to believe that the sins of v. 9, 10 are not “salvation blockers” is to read the opposite to what the verses state at face value.

      In regards to Hitler, a quick (and questionable!) Google search has lead me to believe that Hitler did at one point dedicate his life to following Jesus. In a section on his religion as a youth, Wikipedia states that “He was confirmed on 22 May 1904”. And my guess is that there would be many decidedly unchristian people who have existed who had formerly dedicated their respective lives to following Jesus. I find it very difficult to swallow on the basis of logic and fairness that such people would retain their salvation.

      • If you could clarify regarding salvation: so you think that when you become a Christian you are justified before God at that moment, and that all your previous sins have been atoned for? But that from that point forward your salvation is now dependent upon you living a sinless life? And that if/when you do sin, you are no longer regenerate/justified/adopted? And in order to regain salvation you have to … get saved again? Go to confession? Do penance?

        As for your paraphrase … it begs the question at hand. You can say: “You must choose one path or the other, but its [sic] impossible to have both” and “Take care that you do not risk your very salvation” but Paul certainly didn’t say those things. And whether or not one can legitimately imply that from this passage is precisely where we differ. I don’t think verses 9 and 10 are describing “salvation blockers” as if those people want to or are trying to travel the road to salvation and simply ran into a barrier.

        If you think Hitler’s life was dedicated to following Jesus then I suggest you take a second look at the fruit his life produced. Going through confirmation doesn’t mean that someone actually committed their life to Christ.

      • stasisonline says:

        Yes I do think that when a person becomes a Christian that they are justified before God at that moment, with previous sins atoned for. I dont think God requires Christians to be perfect from that point onwards in order to retain their salvation. But neither do I think Christians can behave in a completely unchristian manner and retain salvation. Rather I think that God throws in some grace, and that salvation can be retained so long as the Christian is making a dedicated effort to be a Christian, continuing to engage in repentance, and continuing to seek forgiveness for sins subsequently committed. I think our flesh naturally leads us away from Jesus, and there is a point that is difficult to pinpoint, when no matter how sincere someone was about initially being a Christian, that they have strayed too far and without repentance they are no longer in a position of having salvation. As Ive written before, I think there are several scriptures that reflect this.

        Yes my paraphrase could be said to be begging the question, as could yours. I dont see how you can claim that Paul certainly didnt say “Take care that you do not risk your very salvation”, at least in similar words.

        I do think those people were “trying to travel the road to salvation and … ran into a barrier”. Verses 4, 5, 11 etc indicate that they were believers whose lives were distinguished from non-believers and verses 7-10 indicate that they ran into barriers.

        I certainly do not claim that Hitler’s entire life was dedicated to following Jesus. Its true that going through confirmation doesn’t mean that someone has sincerely committed their life to Christ. Whether Hitler truly was sincere about it at that point, we will never know for sure. We do know that he made statements later in life that would suggest that he thought of himself as a Christian, and we know that some of his actions were inconsistent with being a Christian. I think youre onto a good thing in judging Hitler’s fruit rather than his germination. I suggest that verses 9 and 10 indicates fruit that is illustrative of whether someone has salvation.

        Are we making headway in seeing each other’s point of view? Do you agree that it’s odd that the Bible says (and I quote the NIV directly, without paraphrasing); “Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers, nor men who have sex with men, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God”, yet you say they will?


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