Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Eternal Security Tangent

A lengthy discussion of eternal security has been started in the "Do the Orthodox Know the Gospel?" combox. Comments regarding that have been moved here. Pardon our dust.

39 comments:

David Bryan said...

rhology said...

Hey, it doesn't say "Publicar un comentario" anymore. Change your language?

You left out 2 of the 3 aspects of Evangelical theology of redemption, man. You got justification, sort of (and even that is shoestring - justification ITSELF is a forensic statement, yes, but so much accompanies it and is inextricable from it - adoption as sons where once we were enemies, grafting into the Vine where once we were to be burned, the Spirit in our hearts where once we served the devil, minds set on things above where once they were set on hell, minds set on holiness where once they were set on death, the seal of the Holy Spirit guaranteeing our heavenly inheritance whereas once our inheritance was destruction), but left out God's sanctifying work and His glorifying work upon death.

For the regenerate one, being sanctified to conform to the image of Christ is no less sure than his entry into heaven upon death, the forgiveness of his sin because of Christ's work on the cross, and his glorification b/c of Christ's resurrection.

Anyway, I'm glad I could be around to clear up that which is lacking.

Peace,
Rhology

January 31, 2008 7:48 AM

David Bryan said...

benjamin said...

A lot of this also depends by what is meant by "The Gospel". The saving events of the life and death and resurrection are proclaimed multiple times in the liturgy, each Sunday. The epistle readings do not skip over any of Paul's letters, be they passages beautiful, complicated, practicle, or (to us) absurd. And, hopefully, the priest knows what he is talking about and gives a decent homily. If one considers the Gospel to be an altar call and a personal prayer, than perhaps one cannot find it in an Orthodox Church. If one considers the Gospel to be a proclamation of Christ, repentance and salvation - a proclamation that gives room for the Spirit to bring about conversion and reconversion (as we are always in need of conversion) - then I would say that the Orthodox Church is a very Gospel Church. Though I would agree with critics that in some parishes there is such a layer of dust on it all, that a religious haze rests over the liturgy - especially if its in a language no one knows well or at all. But again, I think that we must be clear on what we mean by "The Gospel". And furthermore, I agree that upon proclaiming the Gospel, there is much emphasis placed on the "struggle" and the "narrow path" than one may find elsewhere. That is why we ask for God's mercy dozens of times each service.

January 31, 2008 11:08 AM

David Bryan said...

david bryan said...
Rhology,

"Change your language?"

Yep.

"justification ITSELF is a forensic statement, yes, but so much accompanies it and is inextricable from it - adoption as sons where once we were enemies, grafting into the Vine where once we were to be burned..."

I see that, and as far as you've gone to this point, I have no complaints...

"...the Spirit in our hearts where once we served the devil, minds set on things above where once they were set on hell, minds set on holiness where once they were set on death, the seal of the Holy Spirit guaranteeing our heavenly inheritance whereas once our inheritance was destruction)..."

...and here we get a bit hazy...talk like this seems to do a one-to-one equation of our forensic justification in God's eyes with our own minds' subsequent state. Is your mind always on things above, always on holiness? If you have been completely, irrevokeably justified, shouldn't it be?

"...but left out God's sanctifying work and His glorifying work upon death."

...because you said...

"For the regenerate one, being sanctified...is no less sure than his entry into heaven upon death, the forgiveness of his sin because of Christ's work on the cross, and his glorification b/c of Christ's resurrection."

...and this, again, is the problem with calvinistic (whether of the five- or two- or howevermany-point variety) monergism. It takes an aspect of salvation which was accomplished entirely apart from us and which established for us the foundation of our salvation (the First Advent of Christ) and equates it with the part that most definitely involves our continual assent and work -- that of working out our own, individual salvation with fear and trembling. If Christ's death means that I am changed in status with God (which somehow affects God) and equally guaranteed sanctification of soul and renewing of mind (which affects me), then somewhere along the way, post-saving, a "switch" of sorts has been flipped, and I am now taken beyond my will to deny myself and walk in obedience to Christ. If this is done at all outside of my free will, how can it be said to be real obedience?

How can I be said to renounce the world truly if it had been guaranteed beforehand that I would do so due to something that happened completely outside of myself?

January 31, 2008 2:38 PM

David Bryan said...

rhology said...
Hey,

Is your mind always on things above, always on holiness?

5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (Rom 8:5-9)

You're asking the wrong question, ISTM.

If you have been completely, irrevokeably justified, shouldn't it be?

If I forgot that the Bible also includes Romans 7, maybe so. But I didn't forget it. ;-)
Confusing categories again - remember what justification is and what it isn't. The NT speaks so many times of the irrevocable, final nature of our justification AND ALSO warns us to stay away from sin, to fight against the fleshly urges that wage war against the soul. We're not glorified yet!

equates it with the part that most definitely involves our continual assent and work

You mean our justification?
Well, I think we've covered that ground pretty well so anyone can look and decide for themselves.

that of working out our own, individual salvation with fear and trembling.

Well, that's sanctification, the working OUT of the thing that was worked IN us (see the immediate context of that verse).

post-saving, a "switch" of sorts has been flipped

Ehh, I'd say it's more accurate to say the switch is flipped AT salvation (justification).

If this is done at all outside of my free will, how can it be said to be real obedience?

I'm not arguing that sanctification is monergistic. Although justification and glorification certainly are... I don't know why we have such a stiff-hair reaction to that idea. But anyway, I'm not saying it is. But I am saying it is a foregone conclusion that those who belong to Christ WILL be sanctified, just as it's a foregone conclusion that they WILL be glorified.
"...those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified." (Rom 8:30) It's the same "those" throughout.

Peace,
Rhology

February 01, 2008 7:46 AM

David Bryan said...

david bryan said...
"The NT speaks so many times of the irrevocable, final nature of our justification AND ALSO warns us to stay away from sin, to fight against the fleshly urges that wage war against the soul. We're not glorified yet!"

And yet, why warn us if our justification and ultimate glorification is irrevocable? Why is there not an understanding of "You'll stay away from sin and fight these urges anyway, since you're saved, and it's 'all over but the shouting'"? The warnings are there because our salvation isn't final yet.

"sanctification, the working OUT of the thing that was worked IN us (see the immediate context of that verse)."

No problem with the context. I'd just say that what was worked IN us is the dynamis, or potential, to become the sons of God, not the energia, or active move of God that guarantees something. We work OUT that dynamis and in thus becomes reality rather than mere potentiality.

"I'd say it's more accurate to say the switch is flipped AT salvation (justification)."

Which is what I was meaning to say, but didn't. My bad.

"It's the same 'those' throughout."

Right, except we would simply say that the whole statement is a statement of God's foreknowledge of who would live their whole lives full of faith and die still united to Christ, having endured to the end. God would thus be faithful to this, His child, who had worked out the dynamis given to Him and had become through God's grace what the Son is by nature. It's not God acting arbitrarily regardless of our actions (of course you'd agree with that), nor is it His "flipping our switch" to guarantee that we will behave a certain way. We can rest assured that those who did not believe in vain or who did not revert back to unbelief and thus get cut (back) off of the tree of the Church a la Rom. 11 will be glorified by the same One who justified them.

All those in the "those" were called, after all; but not everyone answers that call, nor is everyone faithful after having answered that call. No system which claims to know that one's eventual sanctification is a "foregone conclusion" is worth the time of day, since any (ultimately hypothetical) grouping of unknown, "invisible Church" Christians serves not as comfort to the faithful as to their status (which cannot be guaranteed), but rather simply as a safeguard against people who would say that God will not do what He said He will do (which is admirable, though getting straight what He did and did not promise is crucial here).

We don't have a problem with doubting whether God will do His will. He's passionless, impassable. Any chaff will be consumed by fire, any gold refined. It can be no other way. The problem is not with our immovable God, but rather with move-prone us. It's always up to us to work out what's IN us as faithful, baptized Christians and, in doing so, "take the low seat" in assuming that we are the worst of sinners and not guaranteed salvation (imitate St. Paul, in other words). Those who answered His call -- take up your cross and follow me -- will, as a natural consequence, be glorified as a result of living out their justification dynamis.

February 02, 2008 12:00 AM

David Bryan said...

rhology said...
The warnings are there so as to warn us that falling into unbelief/disobedience would prove that we were never of God to begin with but had been deceiving ourselves all along.
Yet others warn us against losing our heavenly rewards, which are based at least partly on our actions after we are justified.
And there *is* that understanding that it's all over. The multiple references to the fact that we're sealed by the HS, that we're adopted as sons, that we're transformed, that there's no longer a sacrifice for sins, that our inheritance is guaranteed and is preserved for us, that we're protected by the power of God, etc.

Yes, the statement of Rom 8:29-30 speaks of God's foreknowledge.
Yet you didn't respond to the fact that it's the same "those" throughout the golden chain. If those are called are justified and glorified, where are the ones who allegedly fell away somewhere in between?

February 02, 2008 3:52 PM

David Bryan said...

momesansnom said...
As John Behr points out in "The Mystery of Christ," statements from St. Paul about God's foreknowledge and eternal election are always made retrospectively, only on the basis of the encounter with the crucified and exalted Christ, in which one is at once convicted and offered forgiveness. It is BECAUSE a person has encountered and followed Christ that he can make the statement that he has been called and destined for this from before the foundation of the world.

Because statements about election can only be made retrospectively, it can be affirmed that the one who is in Christ, the one who loves Christ, has been foreknown, predestined, called, justified and glorified. These terms do not indicate steps along the way, as though God first foreknows, then predestines way back when, then calls, justifies and begins sanctification today and finally completes glorification way off in the future. No, the terms refer to work that is simultaneous, almost synonymous, inside and outside time, they refer to aspects of the gift of Holy Spirit, our pledge and seal, who brings the eschatalogical "now and not yet" reality that is described so clearly earlier in the chapter.

The passage in Romans makes no affirmations or denials about permanency or monergism as part of being in Christ. Such topics are not being discussed or implied there. They only can be inferred by readers influenced by later concepts who ignore that Paul himself talked of the possibility that he could be "disqualified" (don't tell me that this would indicate that Paul thinks it possible that he was never saved to begin with). There also is nothing in the Romans 8 passage to describe an arbitrary or inscrutable and irrevocable selection made by God before the beginning of time. It is only on the basis of being in Christ that one can make affirmations about being elected. To read any other kinds of notions of selection or permanency or monergism into the passage is to bring in outside presuppositions that do not begin where St. Paul began — with the encounter with the crucified and exalted Jesus Christ.

This crucified and exalted Christ stands at the right hand of the Father both at the beginning and end of time (outside time and at every point in time, to be more precise), which is why one speak of foreknowledge and destiny in the first place. They are two sides of the same coin. Christ is the lamb "slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 12:8). If I die with Christ today, I die with him from the foundation of the world. If I have his life in me, I have his eternal life in me. That is predestination. If I am known by Jesus Christ now, then I am known by him before the ages and in the eschaton. So I am foreknown and predestined because I am in him where and when he is, which is everywhere and always. If I am not known by him now, then neither am I foreknown nor am I predestined. It is in this sense that he could say to me "I never knew you." However, you can't reduce timeless statements like these into statements of time-based concepts such as "once saved, always saved."

The problem with Reformed viewpoints on these matters is that they put God on a timeline and they scrutinize his election on a basis other than an encounter with the crucified and exalted Lord Jesus Christ. They scrutinize this election based on amorphous speculations about God's purpose, while in fact St. Paul makes clear in Ephesians that the eternal purpose of God was realized in Christ Jesus. He is the purpose. All things are by and for him. Any theological statement not made on the basis of the crucified and exalted Christ is just the speculation of man.

Only if one is in Christ, working out his salvation because God is at work in him both to will and to work (this is a far cry from saying that God is MAKING somebody will and work), can statements about foreknowledge and destiny be made about him. If one is not or is no longer in Christ, these statements cannot or can no longer be made about him.

In Orthodoxy, salvation is never a matter of one moment before which a person was unsaved and after which that person was saved. Therefore, the notion that one can be "once saved, always saved" is as foreign as the notion that one who has fallen away from the faith was "never saved at all," as though there was no reality in his spiritual experience. Matters of "once" and "always" and "never" are matters of salvation that can only be glimpsed when they are seen as belonging outside of the usual notions of time that our modernist minds can't seem to break free from.

Just a few things to keep in mind. God bless you all.

February 03, 2008 6:30 AM

David Bryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Bryan said...

momesansnom said...
Just to add something:

All those statements about being "sealed" by the Holy Spirit, "adopted," "transformed" and the like do not necessarily convey notions of permanency. All you need to do is look at Romans 11 and the language about being grafted and being cut away.

"Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again."

Just because words like "seal" or "transformation" are being used elsewhere doesn't mean they negate words like "cut off" and "grafted in again."

The inheritance is guaranteed for the one who is adopted and sealed, but nothing is said anywhere that that one cannot reject his adoption and break the seal. The idea is brought into sharp focus in the language of grafting, in which branches are cut off or grafted in based on their unbelief or belief.

February 03, 2008 6:48 AM

David Bryan said...

david bryan said...
momesansnom,

My GOODNESS! What a great synopsis of Fr. John's thoughts (got the book for Christmas myself). I was just going to refer to Romans 11 in more detail in much the same way that you did (I had alluded to it above), but not only did you beat me to the punch on that, but also provided much more. Thank you very much for your input, and thanks for posting. Feel free to contribute whenever you like.

Rhology,

Feel free to engage momesansnom's comments as if they were my own. Very much in agreement with the above.

February 03, 2008 10:14 AM

David Bryan said...

momesansnom said...
David, your endorsement of my comment is an honor. Thank you. You got a great Christmas gift in Fr. Behr's book. It has got me thinking like no other book has in a good long while. God bless you.

February 04, 2008 3:25 AM

David Bryan said...

rhology said...
Hey there,

I'm sure that all here would agree that God knows the future exhaustively, not only b/c He *knows* it and sees it but also b/c He "works all things according to the counsel of His will" (Eph 1:11).
There are two sides to this question - what we see and what God sees.
A statement about foreknowledge and such is made BY God before anythg took place - it was made in eternity past.
What WE see and know with respect to our salvation is known retrospectively, yes. But since Romans is God speaking, we can't act like this is merely a human perspective.

the terms refer to work that is simultaneous

I think you're getting a little confused, or I'm not following you at all, b/c it seems that you're switching back and forth from talking from a human perspective to talking from a divine one (ie, when you speak of the simultaneity of these terms). These are simultaneous to humans neither in your view nor in mine.

The passage in Romans makes no affirmations or denials about permanency

That's the heart of the question, though. To make that stick, you have to show why the same "those" that are justified are NOT the same "those" that are glorified.
Or, if you like, those that are called are the same those that are glorified.

he could be "disqualified"

Right, the disqualification of 1 Cor 9 to which you refer, besides being in a completely different context, alludes to his heavenly rewards, as the context of 1 Cor 9 makes plain.

It is only on the basis of being in Christ that one can make affirmations about being elected.

Yes, TO US. We don't know God's Will exhaustively. But He does. And He reveals certain aspects of it. It's our responsibility to submit when He does so.

If I am known by Jesus Christ now, then I am known by him before the ages and in the eschaton.

And He knew that you WOULD BE His, from all eternity past, right?

It is in this sense that he could say to me "I never knew you."

And that's precisely what He says to those who seem to be justified/saved and then fall away never to return. They didn't lose sthg they had; they never had it. They never knew Christ, b/c one who knows the glorious Christ WILL NOT fall away.

The problem with Reformed viewpoints on these matters is that they put God on a timeline

I don't see how. We affirm God's eternality and the eternality of His decrees.
The diff between His view and our view of His decrees is the same diff as yours.

they scrutinize his election on a basis other than an encounter with the crucified and exalted Lord Jesus Christ.

Again, I don't see how.
In the view I hold, God has known from forever ago who will be His, who will come to Him. He does not draw all the same way nor with the same number of "opportunities" nor provide the same amount of revelation to all. And you'd certainly agree with that (wouldn't you?).
But either way, when one is changed by becoming a son of Christ, it is the fulfillment of that foreknowledge.

in fact St. Paul makes clear in Ephesians that the eternal purpose of God was realized in Christ Jesus.

Fine, that's agreed. But you just attributed "amorphous speculations" to our view; that's a pretty amorphous statement from you!

In Orthodoxy, salvation is never a matter of one moment before which a person was unsaved and after which that person was saved.

Since it is such biblically, so much the worse for Orthodoxy.
And since that is a fundamental basis for a soteriology, it doesn't surprise me that other aspects of yours don't match the Bible as well. 0

"sealed" by the Holy Spirit, "adopted," "transformed" and the like do not necessarily convey notions of permanency.

So let me ask you a question.
Can one be sealed, adopted, transformed, and then UNsealed, UNadopted, UNtransformed, and then REsealed, REadopted, REtransformed? How many times? How many times can one be cut off, grafted back in, cut back off, grafted back in?
And what of Hebrews 6:4-6, which informs us specifically that one who falls away can never be restored? Yet do you not believe that the fallen away CAN be restored?
And I'm not sure why you have such problems with "permanence". You believe that upon passing from this life, the godly who is theosised (forgive my word-creation there) will not fall away, do you not? Why is there a 'loss' of 'free will' at THAT time and why is that acceptable while my view's 'loss' of 'free will' after justification (thus resulting in the chain of the same "those" that are justified also end up glorified) while still in this life is not acceptable to you? Isn't that creating a big disjunction between this life and the next that you don't accept in other contexts (seemingly when it ad hoc suits your argument to do so)?

The inheritance is guaranteed for the one who is adopted and sealed, but nothing is said anywhere that that one cannot reject his adoption and break the seal.

So the inheritance is guaranteed except for when the guarantee is broken. That's not much of a guarantee.
God is perfectly capable of making conditional promises clear, as He did many times in the OT.
And Jesus Himself *did* say that one cannot break the seal:

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

I appreciate all y'alls' thoughts.
(That one's for you, David Bryan!) :-D


Peace,
Rhology

February 04, 2008 8:14 AM

David Bryan said...

David Bryan said...
"That's the heart of the question, though. To make that stick, you have to show why the same 'those' that are justified are NOT the same 'those' that are glorified."

Well, all right, but then you have to show why St. Paul issues a warning using completely indicative language that those who were grafted in and do not continue in belief will be -- and it even includes an emphatic "even you will be"! -- cut off. Which verse to we use in St. Paul's letter to the Romans to take precedence over the other in saying which interprets which? Do we say that Romans 8 takes priority and, as such, serves as a warning to us against reading too strict a warning (or even an actual warning at all) into Romans 11?

Do we take Romans 11 and use it to temper the language of Romans 8 and say that, while no one will snatch us out of Christ's hand, nevertheless we ourselves can choose to leave?

There is, of course, no sacred "color coding" of the Scriptures which tells us which are the clear Scriptures and which the unclear which will lead us into unquestionable perspicuity. We all have to work within some sort of "yes, but..." framework that will end up with our using certain places as starting points within the Scriptures and others being interpreted through that framework. The Cappadocian Fathers did it, the Blessed Theophylact did it in his reading of John 10:27 -- in which he states explicitly that we're not to forget that we ourselves can leave the Father's hand, though no one else can lay claim to us -- and the Reformers did it.

The question, then, is simply this: Who has the better picture of how the Scriptures fit together to show us the mosaic of the King? Who is showing us the proper icon of the King, and who has rearranged the Scriptures so that the approach taken to their interpretation leads to the image of a dog or a fox rather than the King of Glory? I understand and respect, Rhology, that you have very extensive exegesis systems in place to defend your position. I understand that much time and effort (and prayer!) has been spent in an attempt to divide the Scriptures correctly. But as long as such an effort leads to a divergence from the interpretive norm offered up by the earliest Christian communities on many (though by no means all) issues, I fear I'm just not interested in a "But what about this verse?!" type of argument. In this case, any type of theology that disallows for a person who, having once taken root, to spring up as a real plant and then wither away -- such a theology is heresy, and has always been heresy since (at the latest!) the days of St. Clement of Rome. The first defenders of the faith fought and died for a faith in which mankind's freedom was never usurped -- not even for a moment and not even post-saving.

And far from seeing myself as "refusing to submit to the Word of God," I see myself as respecting it enough to submit to it in its entirety, in the context in which it was originally "traditioned" to its first hearers.

"Right, the disqualification of 1 Cor 9 to which you refer, besides being in a completely different context, alludes to his heavenly rewards, as the context of 1 Cor 9 makes plain."

Yes...specifically it alludes to the heavenly reward of life eternal -- the imperishable crown (v. 25) of life, or "the crown that is life" -- and being saved (v. 22), which he hoped to partake of with them (v. 23).

"And He knew that you WOULD BE His, from all eternity past, right?"

Yes, He knows those who will endure in faith to the end and shall reward them openly with eternal life.

"But either way, when one is changed by becoming a son of Christ, it is the fulfillment of that foreknowledge."

And that foreknowledge is fulfilled, at least in part, by what we do.

"Since it is such biblically, so much the worse for Orthodoxy."

You're out of communion with the correct interpretation of that Bible, so you have no real capacity with which to comment on those Scriptures...

"So let me ask you a question.
Can one be sealed, adopted, transformed, and then UNsealed, UNadopted, UNtransformed, and then REsealed, REadopted, REtransformed?"


Can't go back if you've apostatized; that much is true. But this is all seen from eternity anyway, as we've both said, so our attempts at saying "I'm saved" or "He must never have been saved" are silly at best and dangerously arrogant at worst, since we presume to comment on what Christ alone knows.

"You believe that upon passing from this life, the godly who is theosised (forgive my word-creation there) will not fall away, do you not?"

If you're looking for a word, "deified" is a good one, and this is a good example of how you're stuck strictly in a timeline. Yes, we're in time, but we're also outside time, as the Kingdom has entered the world, and specifically us. Yes, we can freely choose to leave now, which we won't be able to do at the End when He is fully revealed. Yet, God is the Lord and has revealed Himself to us, along with His holy ones and the Heavenly City, so they are with us.

So...is the Kingdom fully revealed? No. But...is the Kingdom fully revealed? Yes!

"So the inheritance is guaranteed except for when the guarantee is broken. That's not much of a guarantee."

The inheritance is guaranteed for those who obey the law of liberty.

"I appreciate all y'alls' thoughts.
(That one's for you, David Bryan!) :-D"


Whyyy, thank yeeew.

February 05, 2008 12:06 AM

David Bryan said...

momesansnom said...
I ask your forgiveness and I thank you in advance if you're able to tough this out to the end. Please read carefully. I divided it into two parts to make it a bit more manageable. Also, I don't seem to know how to put quotes in italics.

Part I

One of the fundamental, but perhaps overly implicit, points in what I said earlier is that God does not belong in a timeline. He does not operate in past, present and future as we do. He operates in eternity, which is not simply a very long time span with no beginning and no end. It is not a time span at all. It is a dimension (for lack of a better word) without past or present, which is present equally in every point in the time span of the world that you and I exist in. The name of Yahweh indicates this: I AM. God is present at this very moment just as he is present at the cross, at creation and at the second coming. These are not past and future events for God; they are now for him.

So, when I talk about how the Reformed view puts God on a timetable and you tell me that you don't see how, I have to point you to some of your own statements:

"A statement about foreknowledge and such is made BY God before anythg took place - it was made in eternity past."

"And He knew that you WOULD BE His, from all eternity past, right?"

A term such as "eternity past" is an oxymoron. To use it as you did is to put God on a timetable, and it's a declaration that God belongs inside time, even if that time has for him no beginning or end.

You say "... God knows the future exhaustively, not only b/c He *knows* it and sees it but also b/c He "works all things according to the counsel of His will" (Eph 1:11)," and I sense that you're saying that God knew in the PAST what he was going to do in the FUTURE and then proceeded to do it as time unfolded. Again, this is putting God on a timetable. God knows the future because he is there in the future right now in the very same way that he is here in the present right now and in the very same way that he is at the foundation of all creation right now. And yes, he does work all things according to the counsel of his will. All things have their being in him alone.

You also say:

"In the view I hold, God has known from forever ago who will be His, who will come to Him."

When you say that God has known from "forever ago," you once again put him in a time frame, unless you are ready to affirm that, for God, some moment "forever ago" is simultaneous with another moment "forever in the future." When we affirm things such as "God doesn't change" or "God is the same yesterday, today and forever," we are not simply affirming that he is decisive or that he weathers the onslaughts of an "eternity" which is nothing other than a lengthy period of time with no extremes. Rather, we are using human language to describe a God who does not change because he does not belong to time, which is the realm of change. And as for God's relationship to his creation, which is in time, he is present now at the beginning of time just as he is present now at this moment and just as he is present now later at the end of time. It's not as though he is shuttling back and forth between these moments in time or passing through the course of history, but he is actually equally present at each of these places in history right now, and at all places in between. This is how God is said to be the same yesterday, today and forever. Certainly, we can say that God "was and is and will be," but we need to understand that in all of those statements, we really mean he is "I AM."

I've been pretty verbose about this because how we understand time and eternity will affect how we understand something such as God's foreknowledge, and this is where much of our disagreement probably originates. Because Reformed statements, and the statements of modern Western Christianity in general, keep (unwittingly?) conceiving of God in the constraints of some kind of timeline, albeit an "eternal" one, they have to struggle with views of foreknowledge and predestination that involve God making choices in the past tense that must be deterministically carried out in the present tense and cannot be changed in the future tense.

But in an eternity that I have tried to describe, God's foreknowledge "in the beginning" could also be called God's retrospective knowledge from the "end of the age." He foreknows those who are in Christ in the end because he knows them in the end. Both moments, the beginning and the end, are brought together at the cross of Christ, which took place at the "fullness of times" (which does not simply mean the most opportune of times), which looks to us like it was in the middle of history. The moment of the cross was actually the beginning and the end of all things.

So, now we might be able to return to what I originally said, "it is only on the basis of being in Christ that one can make affirmations about being elected." You agreed with that statement by saying "Yes, TO US. ..." I think you are saying that this is true insofar as our perspective is concerned but that there is more to God's will than we know. I would agree but point out that God has not revealed to us anything about making selections in a distant period of eternity about who would be saved and who wouldn't. The only thing we can affirm or deny, rightly or mistakenly, is whether we are in Christ right now. And it is only on the basis that we are in Christ that we can conclude that we were foreknown and predestined. This is because if we are in Christ now, then, naturally, we are chosen by him now, and we are likewise in Christ before the foundation of the world, just as he is now present before the foundation of the world. We can therefore say that he chose us before the foundation of the world. And so with this in mind, I will repeat one of my original paragraphs:

"This crucified and exalted Christ stands at the right hand of the Father both at the beginning and end of time (outside time and at every point in time, to be more precise), which is why one speaks of foreknowledge and destiny in the first place. They are two sides of the same coin. Christ is the lamb "slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 12:8). If I die with Christ today, I die with him from the foundation of the world. If I have his life in me, I have his eternal life in me. That is predestination. If I am known by Jesus Christ now, then I am known by him before the ages and in the eschaton. So I am foreknown and predestined because I am in him where and when he is, which is everywhere and always. If I am not known by him now, then neither am I foreknown nor am I predestined. It is in this sense that he could say to me "I never knew you." However, you can't reduce timeless statements like these into statements of time-based concepts such as "once saved, always saved."

So, on the basis of encountering Christ, being in Christ, one can conclude things about foreknowledge and destiny because it is a natural conclusion when we understand that Christ is eternal and that we, in him, share in that eternal life. If I am in Christ now, I am now at my destiny, and because I am there now, I am there from the foundation of the world (forgive me for being so repetitive).

But if we do not speak on the basis of the encounter, and when we conceive of God as moving through some sort of eternal course of time, then we are forced to think of foreknowledge and predestination as prior conceptions in God's mind that either mean he "saw" what would be brought into reality at a later time or he "decided" the reality that he would cause to come about in a deterministic way. This leads us to make a lot of assumptions about foreknowledge, predestination, who is saved and who isn't, whether or not we or someone else is or were/was really saved when they fall away or appear to fall away. This is all just a lot of busybody theorizing not based on the encounter with the crucified and exalted Christ. It's based instead on a construct of God making decisions at some point and then Christ being a means to accomplish those decisions in the course of time. Being in Christ is no longer the basis of statements about election, but instead the result or proof.

Maybe now, even if you don't agree with me, you are beginning to see how it is that I would state that Reformed viewpoints scrutinize God's election on a basis other than an encounter with the crucified and exalted Lord Jesus Christ.


Part II

Thank you for bearing with me this far, if indeed you have. I'll now try to move more quickly through some of your other concerns. Keep in mind my words about eternity as you read me using temporal terms.

"Romans is God speaking, we can't act like this is merely a human perspective."

Well, it's God speaking through a man, divine perspectives via human ones, and the Romans 8 passage we've been discussing is still not about a process God moves through, going step by step. And though we sinners certainly move through a process as we work out our salvation, this passage in particular is only partially about that process, going step by step. I was not "switching back and forth from talking from a human perspective to talking from a divine one" when I spoke of the simultaneity of the "golden chain." Rather, I was referring it back to the earlier part of the chapter which refers to our reception of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of adoption, by whom we are in Christ. It is in Christ that we were foreknown, predestined, called, justified and glorified (these terms, all being in the past tense in the passage, hint at our participation, in Christ by the Spirit, in the end of all things). The whole passage describes the now ("the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God") and the not yet ("we eagerly wait for it with perserverance"). It is now because in Christ we now have eternal life. It is not yet because we still must complete our earthly sojurn. So I can speak of this as process but I can also speak of it as simultaneous because it is completed.

"Right, the disqualification of 1 Cor 9 to which you refer, besides being in a completely different context, alludes to his heavenly rewards, as the context of 1 Cor 9 makes plain."

Guess we'll agree to disagree on that one. Seems pretty clear to me he's talking about being disqualified with regard to any matters contained in what he has "preached to others," which would primarily be salvation itself.

And that's precisely what He says to those who seem to be justified/saved and then fall away never to return. They didn't lose sthg they had; they never had it. They never knew Christ, b/c one who knows the glorious Christ WILL NOT fall away.

How do you know? Scripture doesn't make these claims. I've seen the verses you're likely to throw at me in response, but don't read what you read in them. You can't know whether someone who has fallen away knew Christ or not. You haven't been given insight into his or her heart, and no verse you quote can indicate anything to the contrary. We already disagree on Paul's disqualification statement, but it seems clear to me that Paul knew Christ better than either of us yet felt he could be disqualified. And again, I refer you to Paul's verses in Romans 11: Those who were grafted in can be cut off.

"But you just attributed "amorphous speculations" to our view; that's a pretty amorphous statement from you!"

You're right. I hope I addressed this with some of the above statements about eternity.

"Since it is such biblically, so much the worse for Orthodoxy.
And since that is a fundamental basis for a soteriology, it doesn't surprise me that other aspects of yours don't match the Bible as well."

Perhaps you're talking about confessing with your mouth and believing in your heart? We're not talking about a "conversion moment" here. Some Christians can point to one of those and some cannot. It's hard to identify the precise "conversion moment" of many (or any) Bible figures. There is a moment when faith appears in us, certainly, but this isn't the whole of salvation. In any case I don't know how you can call such a moment "a fundamental basis of soteriology" when your own soteriology pinpoints the moment of salvation at a place in time long before any saved person was born.

The only fundamental basis of soteriology is the encounter with the crucified and exalted Lord Jesus Christ.

"Can one be sealed, adopted, transformed, and then UNsealed, UNadopted, UNtransformed, and then REsealed, REadopted, REtransformed? How many times? How many times can one be cut off, grafted back in, cut back off, grafted back in? "

I have no idea how many times. If I were to hazard a guess, I suppose I'd put it in the ballpark of a trillion times to the eighteenth power, but I won't put God to the test on that! Seriously, this is just a speculative question that serves no purpose. Jesus said to forgive seventy times seven, which basically means don't stop forgiving. I can only assume that means God doesn't ever stop forgiving us. Your tone with this question seems to indicate that it bugs you that God might just keep on welcoming back somebody who turns away from him over and over again. Somehow it's not fair. Thank God!

"And what of Hebrews 6:4-6, which informs us specifically that one who falls away can never be restored? Yet do you not believe that the fallen away CAN be restored?"

The Hebrews passage pretty much backs up what I've been saying, not what you've been saying, which doesn't allow for falling away for "partakers of the Holy Spirit" (i.e. "saved people"). But in any case, this passage identifies clearly the people it's speaking about: people for whom it is impossible to renew them to repentance. They're the ones who never repent, revealing themselves to be true apostates. Those who do repent aren't being spoken of here. One could say that you're looking at the difference between Judas and all the other disciples who returned to Christ after betraying him. Maybe you'd say those who returned never really fell away, but you'd have no certain basis for saying that unless it was your own experience (and even then you might not be certain).

So the inheritance is guaranteed except for when the guarantee is broken. That's not much of a guarantee. God is perfectly capable of making conditional promises clear, as He did many times in the OT.

I think you're confusing the idea of a guarantee with that of a contract. If I fall away from God, God hasn't "broken" his guarantee as though it were a contract. I've rejected him, and thereby rejected all that came with him. He doesn't leave us, but we can leave him. Being sealed, adopted, transformed is having his eternal life in us by faith. If we have faith, we have this life. If we don't or no longer have faith, then we don't or no longer have this eternal life. And yes, he did make his conditional promise clear on this point. Again, I refer you to Romans 11. "... toward you, goodness, IF you continue in his goodness ... . And they also, IF they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in."

"And Jesus Himself *did* say that one cannot break the seal:
John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand."

We haven't been discussing anybody snatching us out of the Lord's hand.


Excuse my many words, which reveal my flaws as a writer. I suspect that in many words there may be some misstatements. Forgive me.

February 05, 2008 7:57 AM

David Bryan said...

jacob said...
Since Hebrews 6 has been brought up, I wonder how one avoids or explains away the sacramental - i.e., Eucharistic and baptismal and chrismational - language of Hebrews 6:4-6, esp. with it immediately following something that resembles the regula fidei?

At the November 2004 Evangelical Theological Society conference in San Antonio, several sessions were on Hebrews 6:4-8, a troublesome passage for a once-saved-always-saved or strict Calvinistic position, as was evidenced by the various attempts I heard to deal with the passage.

IIRC, one speaker pointed out how many translate παραπεσοντας as "having/after fallen away" when its lexical relationship to παραπτωμα, as well as its other uses, should probably recommend the translation "sinned," rather than "fallen away."

I.e., this passage was perhaps dealing with post-baptismal sin and whether or not such a person could again be regenerated or rebaptized (παλιν ανακαινιζειν - 6:6 - see Titus 3:5 for the use of the nominal form ανακαινωσις in connection with baptism and the Holy Spirit - i.e., chrismation).

I don't know what the Church Fathers say about this passage (my searchable AN-N-PN Fathers is at home), but beginning to suspect that this passage was referring to baptism, the Eucharist and chrismation was one of the things that nudged me away from my non-sacramental Evangelical Protestantism. Some of the Protestant commentaries I've read on this passage seem to too lightly dismiss this possible understanding (i.e. that it refers to baptism and the Eucharist).

That also can change the meaning and application of the passage.

February 05, 2008 8:51 AM

Jacob said...

Some of the Fathers on Hebrews 6:4-6:

Tertullian:

For there is extant withal an Epistle to the Hebrews under the name of Barnabas—a man sufficiently accredited by God, as being one whom Paul has stationed next to himself in the uninterrupted observance of abstinence: “Or else, I alone and Barnabas, have not we the power of working? ”255 And, of course, the Epistle of Barnabas is more generally received among the Churches than that apocryphal “Shepherd” of adulterers. Warning, accordingly, the disciples to omit all first principles, and strive rather after perfection, and not lay again the foundations of repentance from the works of the dead, he says: “For impossible it is that they who have once been illuminated, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have participated in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the word of God and found it sweet, when they shall—their age already setting—have fallen away, should be again recalled unto repentance, crucifying again for themselves the Son of God, and dishonouring Him.”256 “For the earth which hath drunk the rain often descending upon it, and hath borne grass apt for them on whose account it is tilled withal, attaineth God’s blessing; but if it bring forth thorns, it is reprobate, and nighest to cursing, whose end is (doomed) unto utter burning.”257 He who learnt this from apostles, and taught it with apostles, never knew of any “second repentance” promised by apostles to the adulterer and fornicator.

Theognostus of Alexandria:

III.11
Then he says again: As the Saviour converses with those not yet able to receive what is perfect,12 condescending to their littleness, while the Holy Spirit communes with the perfected, and yet we could never say on that account that the teaching of the Spirit is superior to the teaching of the Son, but only that the Son condescends to the imperfect, while the Spirit is the seal of the perfected; even so it is not on account of the superiority of the Spirit over the Son that the blasphemy against the Spirit is a sin excluding impunity and pardon, but because for the imperfect there is pardon, while for those who have tasted the heavenly gift,13 and been made perfect, there remains no plea or prayer for pardon.

Re: The Theology of Athanasius:

The sacrificial aspect of the Eucharist is not touched upon, except in the somewhat strange fragment (Migne xxvi. 1259) from an Oratio de defunctis, which contains the words η δε γε αναιμακτος θυσια εξιλααμος. He insists on the finality * of the sacrifice of the Cross, Orat. ii. 9, αι μεν γαρ κατα νομον …ουκ ειχον το πιστον, καθ ημεραν παρερχομεναι· η δε του Σωτηρος θυαια απαξ γενομενη τετελειωκε το παν. On repentance and the confession of sins there is little to quote. He strongly asserts the efficacy of repentance, and explains Heb. vi. 4, of the unique cleansing and restoring power of baptism (Serap. iv. 13, as cited above.) A catena on Jeremiah preserves a fragment [supra, ch. iii. §1 (38)], which compares the ministry of the priest in baptism to that in confession: ουτως και ο—πγ λξξξ̈εξομολογουμενος εν μετανοια δια του ιερεως λαμβανει την αφεσιν χαριτι Ξριστου. Of compulsory confession, or even of this ordinance as an ordinary element of the Christian life, we read nothing.

Jerome - Against Jovinianus:

Does any one think that we are safe, and that it is right to fall asleep when once we have been baptized? And so, too, in the epistle to the Hebrews:36 “For as touching those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, and then fell away, it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” Surely we cannot deny that they have been baptized who have been illuminated, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God. Butif the baptized cannot sin, how is it now that the Apostle says, “And have fallen away”?37 Montanus and38 Novatus would smile at this, for they contend that it is impossible to renew again through repentance those who have crucified to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. He therefore corrects this mistake by saying:39 “But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak; for God is not unrighteous to forget your work and the love which ye shewed towards his name, in that ye ministered unto the Saints, and still do minister.” And truly the unrighteousness of God would be great, if He merely punished sin, and did not welcome good works. I have so spoken, says the Apostle, to withdraw you from your sins, and to make you more careful through fear of despair. But, beloved, I am persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation. For it is not accordant with the righteousness of God to forget good works, and the fact that you have ministered and do minister to the Saints for His name’s sake, and to remember sins only. The Apostle James also, knowing that the baptized can be tempted, and fall of their own free choice, says:40 “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he hath been approved, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to them that love him.”

St. Ambrose:

Chapter II.
A passage quoted by the heretics against repentance is explained in two ways, the first being that Heb. vi. 4 refers to the impossibility of being baptized again; the second, that what is impossible with man is possible with God.
6. Being then refuted by the clear example of the Apostle and by his writings, the heretics yet endeavour to resist further, and say that their opinion is supported by apostolic authority, bringing forward the passage in the Epistle to the Hebrews: “For it is impossible that those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, should if they fall away be again renewed unto repentance, crucifying again the Son of God, and put Him to open shame.”9
7. Could Paul teach in opposition to his own act? He had at Corinth forgiven sin through penance, how could he himself speak against his own decision? Since, then, he could not destroy what he had built, we must assume that what he says was different from, but not contrary to, what had gone before. For what is contrary is opposed to itself, what is different has ordinarily another meaning. Things which are contrary are not such that one can support the other. Inasmuch, then, as the Apostle spoke of remitting penance, he could not be silent as to those who thought that baptism was to be repeated. And it was right first of all to remove our anxiety, and to let us know that even after baptism, if any sinned their sins could be forgiven them, lest a false belief in a reiterated baptism should lead astray those who were destitute of all hope of forgiveness. And secondly, it was right to set forth in a well-reasoned argument that baptism is not to be repeated.
8. And that the writer was speaking of baptism is evident from the very words in which it is stated that it is impossible to renew unto repentance those who were fallen, inasmuch as we are renewed by means of the layer of baptism, whereby we are born again, as Paul says himself: “For we are buried with Him through baptism into death, that, like as Christ rose from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we, too, should walk in newness of life.”10 And in another place: “Be ye renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man which is created after God.”11 And elsewhere again: “Thy youth shall be renewed like the eagle,”12 because the eagle after death is born again from its ashes, as we being dead in sin are through the Sacrament of Baptism born again to God, and created anew. So, then, here as elsewhere, he teaches one baptism. “One faith,” he says, “one baptism.”13
9. This, too, is plain, that in him who is baptized the Son of God is crucified, for our flesh could not do away sin unless it were crucified in Jesus Christ. And then it is written that: “All we who were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death.”14 And farther on: “If we have been planted in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing that our old man was fastened with Him to His cross.”15 And to the Colossians he says: “Buried with Him by baptism, wherein ye also rose again with Him.”16 Which was written to the intent that we should believe that He is crucified in us, that our sins may be purged through Him, that He, Who alone can forgive sins, may nail to His cross the handwriting which was against us.17 In us He triumphs over principalities and powers, as it is written of Him: “He made a show of principalities and powers, triumphing over them in Himself.”18
10. So, then, that which he says in this Epistle to the Hebrews, that it is impossible for those who have fallen to be “renewed unto repentance, crucifying again the Son of God, and putting Him to open shame,” must be considered as having reference to baptism, wherein we crucify the Son of God in ourselves, that the world may be by Him crucified for us, who triumph, as it were, when we take to ourselves the likeness of His death, who put to open shame upon His cross principalities and powers, and triumphed over them, that in the likeness of His death we, too, might triumph over the principalities whose yoke we throw off. But Christ was crucified once, and died to sin once, and so there is but one, not several baptisms.
11. But what of the passage wherein the doctrine of baptisms is spoken of? Because under the Law there were many baptisms or washings, he rightly rebukes those who forsake what is perfect and seek again the first principles of the word. He teaches us that the whole of the washings under the Law are done away with, and that there is one baptism in the sacraments of the Church. But he exhorts us that leaving the first principles of the word we should go on to perfection. “And this,” he says, “we will do, if God permits,”19 for no one can be perfect without the grace of God.
12. And indeed I might also say to any one who thought that this passage spoke of repentance, that things which are impossible with men are possible with God; and God is able whensoever He wills to forgive us our sins, even those which we think cannot be forgiven. And so it is possible for God to give us that which it seems to us impossible to obtain. For it seemed impossible that water should wash away sin, and Naaman the Syrian20 thought that his leprosy could not be cleansed by water. But that which was impossible God made to be possible, Who gave us so great grace. In like manner it seemed impossible that sins should be forgiven through repentance, but Christ gave this power to His apostles, which has been transmitted to the priestly office. That, then, has become possible which was impossible. But, by a true reasoning, he convinces us that the reiteration by any one of the Sacrament of Baptism is not permitted.

St. John Chrysostom:

[5 .] Ver. 4, 5. “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly girl, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance, crucifying12 to themselves the Son of God afresh, and putting Him to an open shame.”
And see how putting them to shame,13 and forbiddingly he begins. “Impossible.” No longer (he says) expect that which is not possible; (For he said not, It is not seemly, or, It is not expedient, or, It is not lawful, but “impossible,” so as to cast [them] into despair), if ye have once been altogether enlightened.
Then he adds, “and have tasted of the heavenly gift. If ye have tasted” (he says) “of the heavenly gift,” that is, of forgiveness. “And been made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and tasted the good word of God” (he is speaking here of the doctrine) “and the powers of the world to come” (what powers is he speaking of? either the working of miracles, or “the earnest of the Spirit”—2 Cor. i. 22) “and have fallen away, to renew them again unto repentance, seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh and put Him to an open shame.” “Renew them,” he says, “unto repentance,” that is, by repentance, for unto repentance is by repentance. What then, is repentance excluded? Not repentance, far from it! But the renewing again by the laver.14 For he did not say, “impossible” to be renewed “unto repentance,” and stop, but added how “impossible, [by] crucifying afresh.”
To “be renewed,” that is, to be made new, for to make men new is [the work] of the layer only: for (it is said) “thy youth shall be renewed as the eagle’s.” (Ps. ciii. 5.) But it is [the work of] repentance, when those who have been made new, have afterwards become old through sins, to set them free from this old age, and to make them strong.15 To bring them to that former brightness however, is not possible; for there the whole was Grace.
[6.] “Crucifying to themselves,” he says, “the Son of God afresh, and putting Him to an open shame.” What he means is this. Baptism is a Cross, and “our old man was crucified with [Him]” (Rom. vi. 6), for we were “made conformable to the likeness of His death” (Rom. vi. 5; Phil. iii. 10), and again, “we were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death.” (Rom. vi. 4.) Wherefore, as it is not possible that Christ should be crucified a second time, for that is to “put Him to an open shame.”16 For “if death shall no more have dominion over Him” (Rom. vi. 9), if He rose again, by His resurrection becoming superior to death; if by death He wrestled with and overcame death, and then is crucified again, all those things become a fable and a mockery.17 He then that baptizeth18 a second time, crucifies Him again.
But what is “crucifying afresh”? [It is] crucifying over again. For as Christ died on the cross, so do we in baptism, not as to the flesh, but as to sin. Behold two deaths. He died as to the flesh; in our case the old man was buried, and the new man arose, made conformable to the likeness of His death. If therefore it is necessary to be baptized [again19 ], it is necessary that this same [Christ] should die again. For baptism is nothing else than the putting to death of the baptized, and his rising again.
And he well said, “crucifying afresh unto themselves.” For he that does this, as having forgotten the former grace,20 and ordering his own life carelessly, acts in all respects as if there were another baptism. It behooves us therefore to take heed and to make ourselves safe.
[7.] What is, “having tasted of the heavenly gift”? it is, “of the remission of sins”: for this is of God alone to bestow, and the grace is a grace once for all. “What then? shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Far from it!” (Rom. vi. 1, Rom. vi. 2.) But if we should be always going to be saved by grace we shall never be good. For where there is but one grace, and we are yet so indolent, should we then cease sinning if we knew that it is possible again to have our sins washed away? For my part I think not.
He here shows that the gifts are many: and to explain it, Ye were counted worthy (he says) of so great forgiveness; for he that was sitting in darkness, he that was at enmity, he that was at open war, that was alienated, that was hated of God, that was lost, he having been suddenly enlightened, counted worthy of the Spirit, of the heavenly gift, of adoption as a son, of the kingdom of heaven, of those other good things, the unspeakable mysteries; and who does not even thus become better, but while indeed worthy of perdition, obtained salvation and honor, as if he had successfully accomplished great things; how could he be again baptized?
On two grounds then he said that the thing was impossible, and he put the stronger last: first, because he who has been deemed worthy of such [blessings], and who has betrayed all that was granted to him, is not worthy to be again renewed; neither21 is it possible that [Christ] should again be crucified afresh: for this is to “put Him to an open shame.”
There is not then any second layer: there is not [indeed]. And if there is, there is also a third, and a fourth; for the former one is continually disannulled by the later, and this continually by another, and so on without end.
“And tasted,” he says, “the good word of God”; and he does not unfold it; “and the powers of the world to come,” for to live as Angels and to have no need of earthly things, to know that this is the means of our introduction to the enjoyment of the worlds to come; this may we learn through the Spirit, and enter into those sacred recesses.
What are “the powers of the world to come”?Life eternal, angelic conversation. Of these we have already received the earnest through our Faith from the Spirit. Tell me then, if after having been introduced into a palace, and entrusted with all things therein, thou hadst then betrayed all, wouldest thou have been entrusted with them again?22
[8.] What then (you say)? Is there no repentance? There is repentance, but there is no second baptism: but repentance there is, and it has great force, and is able to set free from the burden of his sins, if he will, even him that hath been baptized much in sins, and to establish in safety him who is in danger, even though he should have come unto the very depth of wickedness. And this is evident from many places. “For,” says one, “doth not he that falleth rise again? or he that turneth away, doth not he turn back to [God]?” (Jer. viii. 4.) It is possible, if we will, that Christ should be formed in us again: for hear Paul saying, “My little children of whom I travail in birth again, until Christ be formed in you.” (Gal. iv. 19.) Only let us lay hold on repentance.

momesansnom said...

Jacob, thanks so much for putting these comments from the fathers up.

Rhology said...

Do we say that Romans 8 takes priority and, as such, serves as a warning to us against reading too strict a warning (or even an actual warning at all) into Romans 11?

We can't do that b/c John 10 says that we will never perish. Removes the question of who can do the snatching - it can't be done at all.

But as long as such an effort leads to a divergence from the interpretive norm offered up by the earliest Christian communities on many (though by no means all) issues

You know what SOME of them said.
And the NT is of course the earliest of words from Christians.
And churches don't write the kinds of writings we have extant today; individuals did.
Anyway, we've covered that ground before. But one last thing that was brought up last time we discussed faith and works - someone cited Chrysostom on John 10. Even pasted the text from the homily in his comment. And the homily didn't mention the question at hand, didn't even comment on v 28-29! "Oh, but certainly Chrysostom didn't believe in the perseverance of the saints," you say. Fine, but I want to know where he interacted with the text!

I fear I'm just not interested in a "But what about this verse?!" type of argument.

Well, OK, but I'm sure you would agree that one's position on Issue X must be able to take into account all that the Bible has to say on the subject. If it can't, it does not earn the label "biblical" and I would say needs to be rejected.


in which mankind's freedom was never usurped

What about when they're deified?
You answer:
we can freely choose to leave now, which we won't be able to do at the End when He is fully revealed.

So your position also includes a lack of "freedom", just at a different phase of life. Why is that OK while my position isn't OK?


specifically it alludes to the heavenly reward of life eternal

1 Cor 9 never says that actually.
He wants to "save some" (v 22); doesn't mention being saved himself.
Look at v 17 - " For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me.
What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel."

He specifically identifies the reward, and it's not salvation.
v 23 - why couldn't "partaker" refer to the prize he's about to describe?

v 25 - "They then {do it} to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable."

A wreath refers of course to the prize given to a winner at the Isthmian Games which took place near Corinth (like the Olympics). It's a prize for outstanding accomplishment. Not for salvation, which Paul identifies as being far beyond any human effort and thus due only to the efforts of Jesus Christ.

And that foreknowledge is fulfilled, at least in part, by what we do.

Agreed.


You're out of communion with the correct interpretation of that Bible, so you have no real capacity with which to comment on those Scriptures...

1) Is that why I'm not interpreting Jesus' statement "and they shall never perish" to mean "they shall perish"?
2) Fine, produce for me THE ORTHODOX INTERPRETATION of the passages in question.
3) And how you know it's THE ORTHODOX INTERPRETATION.
4) And how you know you're not mistaken, given that you're just an individual, that this is THE ORTHODOX INTERPRETATION.
5) And then let me know how I can know that my individualness doesn't lead me down the wrong path in interpreting THOSE.
6) And then let me know how I can know that YOUR individualness doesn't lead YOU down the wrong path in interpreting them.
7) And then let me know how I can know that my individualness doesn't lead me down the wrong path in interpreting what you've said about that interpretation.
8) And then let me know how I can know that my individualness doesn't lead me down the wrong path in interpreting what you've said about that interpretation of that interpretation.
9) Etcetera ad literally infinitum.


This is just like the old "Are you infallible?" canard thrown out so often by our RC friends. I'm disappointed to see it again, to be honest.


Can't go back if you've apostatized; that much is true.

OK, that's good to know.


our attempts at saying "I'm saved" or "He must never have been saved" are silly at best and dangerously arrogant at worst, since we presume to comment on what Christ alone knows.

This is a totally separate question of assurance and KNOWLEDGE that we're saved.
But you've been arguing that one who IS saved can fall away; I'm arguing they can't. To what extent it can be known by us is different.


Yes, we're in time, but we're also outside time, as the Kingdom has entered the world, and specifically us. Yes, we can freely choose to leave now,

So you accuse me of being "stuck in a timeline" (and I still don't really know what that means) and then use the words "now" and "won't be able to do at the End" and "when He is fully revealed". You are "stuck in a timeline" too, it would seem.
"has revealed Himself to us" - that's timeline language.
Should I go on identifying y'alls' timeline language?
Besides, the NT uses "timeline" language all the time. So does the OT. So I'm in good company.


So...is the Kingdom fully revealed? No. But...is the Kingdom fully revealed? Yes!

But is it fully revealed TO US?
No. Not yet.



momesansnom,

Your constant harping on "timeline" is strange to me.
Not only does the NT use such language, but so does the OT.

Take Isaiah 40 for example:

Isa 40:5 Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, And all flesh will see {it} together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."
Isa 40:10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with might, With His arm ruling for Him.
Isa 40:11 Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry {them} in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing {ewes.}
Isa 40:12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand
Isa 40:21 Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?

And you use "timeline language" too.


He operates in eternity, which is not simply a very long time span with no beginning and no end. It is not a time span at all

Agreed.
But He interacts IN TIME on occasion, like in the incarnation and miracles and OT theophanies.
Doesn't mean He's bound by time, but He interacts with it, just like He's not bound by humans (which are also His creation, as is time) but He interacts with us sometimes.
And this biblical "timeline language" is anthropomorphic. Go ahead, conceive of eternity in your own mind! Can't do it? I guess you need to use timeline language!

I said:
"A statement about foreknowledge and such is made BY God before anythg took place - it was made in eternity past."

Eph 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world,

I'm in good company.

A term such as "eternity past" is an oxymoron.

This is what I mean when I say that you switch back and forth between lofty-sounding accusations of timeline language and then limiting yourself to timeline THINKING, sometimes immediately afterwards. It's bizarre.
It's a way to describe that God has always, does always, and will always know whose are His.
But there are those that are His who are not yet committed in their hearts to Him. 16 yrs ago, I wasn't His though He knew I would be. 15 yrs ago, I was His and He knew I would be.
I think we just need to lay this to rest.
I agree with you on everythg you've said about God's eternality and timelessness. But I express myself sometimes with biblical language. You don't seem to follow it when I do, and I pray you will some day learn to do so. We all need better understanding of God's Word. Only let's not be proud when we're corrected by it.


God making choices in the past tense that must be deterministically carried out in the present tense and cannot be changed in the future tense.

What?
So God's eternal decrees can be changed?
If so, here is just one more good reason never to become EO! I worship an unchanging, eternal God. You're welcome to whatever demigod you're describing here.


I would agree but point out that God has not revealed to us anything about making selections in a distant period of eternity about who would be saved and who wouldn't.

I'm not sure what I think about that, but surely you would agree that He knows, has always known, and will always know who will be in Heaven forever, right?


The only thing we can affirm or deny, rightly or mistakenly, is whether we are in Christ right now.

But David Bryan disagrees with you:

so our attempts at saying "I'm saved" or "He must never have been saved" are silly at best and dangerously arrogant at worst, since we presume to comment on what Christ alone knows.

And this after DB has criticised me for being outside the Orthodox communal understanding of things.
I don't see much of a communal understanding displayed here!


And though we sinners certainly move through a process as we work out our salvation

Which is why you can't account for psgs like Romans 5:1 which speak of our justification as a done deal.


So I can speak of this as process but I can also speak of it as simultaneous because it is completed.

That's fine - it bolsters my argument that much more, b/c now you're arguing that glorified saints can fall away.
And you still have to deal with the fact that it's the same "those" that are called, justified, and glorified, as well as foreknown.
IN OUR LIVES, do the calling, justification, and glorification occur at death, or what?


How do you know? Scripture doesn't make these claims.

1Jo 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not {really} of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but {they went out,} so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.

2Pe 2:20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.
2Pe 2:21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.
2Pe 2:22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb, "A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT," and, "A sow, after washing, {returns} to wallowing in the mire."

Looks like John and Peter knew something with respect to this question and these people.


We're not talking about a "conversion moment" here. Some Christians can point to one of those and some cannot.

Here YOU are, stuck in timeline language again!
Just b/c someone can't name a time when their justification happened doesn't mean that it doesn't happen at a time. That's why Rom 5:1 speaks of our having been justified.


when your own soteriology pinpoints the moment of salvation at a place in time long before any saved person was born.

Hardly. And you're stuck in timeline language again.
God foreknows, yes. Settled? Cool - we agree. Can you please stop bringing it up?
The moment of our justification occurs IN TIME. We live IN TIME.
You agree too! Baptism is an event IN TIME.


I have no idea how many times. If I were to hazard a guess, I suppose I'd put it in the ballpark of a trillion times to the eighteenth power,

Then you disagree with DB yet again.
He says you can't. So which is it? And how can I know?


I can only assume that means God doesn't ever stop forgiving us.

So why can't that statement apply to a justified person who sins in such a way that YOU might say "he's lost his salvation", but God says, "Oh, no, I'm forgiving him still!"?

The Hebrews passage pretty much backs up what I've been saying

I don't see how, since you say you can come back a zillion times and it says you can't.
It's an argument ad absurdum - the verse is dealing with a different question and yet you're misinterping it, so I'm showing you the ludicrous logical conclusion of your faulty premises.

people for whom it is impossible to renew them to repentance. They're the ones who never repent, revealing themselves to be true apostates.

So now there are several different kinds of loss of salvation? Wow.
I'd think that someone who turns his back on something as wonderful as Jesus would be in a pretty bad state of heart, wouldn't you?


Those who do repent aren't being spoken of here

It says they CAN'T repent, CAN'T come back.


Maybe you'd say those who returned never really fell away

Precisely, as demonstrated by the fact that they came back. Our salvation is not maintained by our action. Thank God for that!
That's one reason I'm fearful for you since you think your salvation is dependent on what you do. You're weak and pathetically vulnerable to sin, as are all of us. But somehow you still think you can make it if you just forge ahead. This is not a God-honoring attitude and reveals the importance of this question.


God is perfectly capable of making conditional promises clear, as He did many times in the OT.

I don't agree that this is a conditional promise.


If I fall away from God, God hasn't "broken" his guarantee as though it were a contract.

OK, so His guarantee is perfectly breakable.
This doesn't sound like the lofty God you were talking about earlier when criticising my "timeline language".

1Pe 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1Pe 1:4 to {obtain} an inheritance {which is} imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
1Pe 1:5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Jhn 10:27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;
Jhn 10:28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

Jhn 6:40 "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."
Jhn 6:44 "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.

These kinds of guarantees? God can break these? We can perish after becoming His sheep? He WON'T raise some of us who have believed up on the last day?


We haven't been discussing anybody snatching us out of the Lord's hand.

You need to deal with the boldfaced part above - they will never perish. I know, it's easy to miss, but once you see it, it's firm.



Jacob, thanks for posting those CFs.
Let's see...

Tertullian agrees with DB (and with me, if I presuppose what I consider to be a faulty interp of the text) but not with momesansmom.
Theognostus of Alexandria agrees with DB and me.
Jerome seems to disagree wtih Tertullian, Theognostus, DB, and me and agree with momesansmom.
Ambrose bases what he says from an unbiblical understanding of baptism but seems to agree with Tert, Theog, DB, and me, and disagree with Jerome and momesansmom.

"And indeed I might also say to any one who thought that this passage spoke of repentance, that things which are impossible with men are possible with God; and God is able whensoever He wills to forgive us our sins, even those which we think cannot be forgiven. And so it is possible for God to give us that which it seems to us impossible to obtain."

Yes, even perchance an unbreakable eternal guarantee of our final salvation given the presence of our justification?

And, John Chrysostome approaches my own position in this citation.

Just for the record, Heb 6:4-6 says "***IF*** he fall away." There's a reason why the author continues on to say:

Hbr 6:9 But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way.

Why better things? B/c they WERE saved. And the author is writing to convince them not to give into their wavering to go back to Judaism, b/c Christ is so much better. It's a warning, but carries the implicit absurdity of those who would say that one can fall away and then be renewed. No, they can't be renewed.


Peace,
Rhology

Jacob said...

Rhology says: Just for the record, Heb 6:4-6 says "***IF*** he fall away." There's a reason why the author continues on to say:

Just for the record, Hebrews 6:4-6 does NOT say "***IF*** he fall away." It's simply a participle and the devil-in-the-details in this instance (as well as other instances) is how you translate the participle.

A more literal translation of the first two words of Hebrews 6:6 would be "and having-fallen-away." There are many ways to translate this aorist participle that follows a string of aorist participles, most of which (but not all of which) can probably be ruled out:

temporal: then have fallen away, or after they have fallen away
telic: for the purpose of having fallen away
causal: because they have fallen away
conditional: if they have fallen away
concessional: although they have fallen away
manner/modal: in the manner of having fallen away
means: by means of having fallen away
resultative: as a result of having fallen away
circumstantial or attendant circumstances, etc.

And there is the more important aspect I raised, that this participle/verb should not be translated "fallen away" (as in total apostasy), but "sinned."

Jacob said...

In fact, I think one might be able to say that it would seem strange to translate "and have fallen away/sinned" as "and IF they have fallen away/sinned" unless one also used "IF" with the preceding aorist participles, which are grammatically very similar. I.e.:

"For it is impossible to renew persons to repentance IF THEY HAVE:
a) once been enlightened, and
b) tasted of the heavenly gift and become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and
c) tasted of the good word of God and the powers of the coming age, and
d) fallen away (or: sinned)..."

But since "fallen away/sinned" is a negative action, whereas the previous ones were positive actions, it's possible that this could also signal a shift of the change of meaning of the participle - e.g., from "after having..." to "if," per my previous listing of the various ways aorist participles can be translated.

But I don't think one can argue that it must mean "if." Go to biblegateway.com and you will see that not everyone translates it with "if."

David Bryan said...

Also important to note is a very prominent alternate textual variant of Romans 5:1 in the extant Greek manuscripts.

εχομεν means "we have," which is a pretty straightforward declaration of established peace. However, several important manuscripts contain the homophone εχωμεν, which means "let us have." One of the terms was most likely brought about through dictation, as they sound identical or near-identical. Of course, εχωμεν in and of itself doesn't hurl us into necessarily believing that St. Paul thinks the Roman church didn't have peace at that time, but it does bring about a dynamic aspect to salvation, one where we can't rest assured that we have peace, but rather where we must be exhorted either to have peace or (more likely) to continue to have peace -- so the verse is not all that trustworthy in pointing to a once-saved-always-saved peace with God. Thought I'd post this before dealing with that whopper of a post, Rhology.

Jacob said...

David Bryan said...
Also important to note is a very prominent alternate textual variant of Romans 5:1 in the extant Greek manuscripts.


And the manuscripts support "let us have" as opposed to "we have." It was other considerations, not the mss. witnesses, that has led scholars to prefer "we have":

5.1 ἔχομεν {A}
Although the subjunctive ἔχωμεν ["let us have"] (א* A B* C D K L 33 81 itd, g vg syrp, pal copbo arm eth al) has far better external support than the indicative ἔχομεν ["we have"] (אa B3 Ggr P Ψ 0220vid 88 326 330 629 1241 1739 Byz Lect it61vid? syrh copsa al), a majority of the Committee judged that internal evidence must here take precedence. Since in this passage it appears that Paul is not exhorting but stating facts (“peace” is the possession of those who have been justified), only the indicative is consonant with the apostle’s argument. Since the difference in pronunciation between ο and ω in the Hellenistic age was almost non-existent, when Paul dictated ἔχομεν, Tertius, his amanuensis (16.22), may have written down ἔχωμεν. (For another set of variant readings involving the interchange of ο and ω, see 1 Cor 15.49.)

Metzger, B. M., & United Bible Societies. (1994). A textual commentary on the Greek New Testament, second edition a companion volume to the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament (4th rev. ed.) (452). London; New York: United Bible Societies.

momesansnom said...

Rhology, I wrote a lot about timeline language, yet it appears to have been for nothing, because you apparently did not read carefully, like I asked. That, and certainly I'm just not good enough at explaining myself. And, in this conversation, I honestly don't know if I can do better without a good and sympathetic editor! Perhaps even my excess of words made it harder for you to understand what I was trying to say, and for that I apologize.

Despite these concessions, I have to wonder whether you really engaged the things I wrote and made much of an attempt to understand the ideas I presented. For one, you leap at the chance to critique my inevitable use of temporal language to explore eternal reality, yet you fail to distinguish how my use of such language differs from your use. You also tell me that you agree with "everything" I've said about God's eternality and timelessness, and that you are only expressing yourself the way the Bible does. Yet, the way you use temporal language necessitates thinking of God as existing in some kind of temporal order or timeline -- this separate from or encompassing his interventions in earthly time (and I have not denied these interventions in time). On the other hand, my use of temporal language describes God in eternity, being "concurrently" or "at once" in the past, in the present and in the future, and thus being beyond past, present and future. Of course, my use of words such as "concurrently," "at once," "past," "present" and "future" is the use of temporal language, but it's not hard to see that I'm employing them in a way to show that God does not move from past to future but is equally and always present NOW at all of these times and beyond or outside these times. This is an aspect of what "eternal life" means, and it is this life that we share when we are in Christ.

So you defy me with a challenge: "Go ahead, conceive of eternity in your own mind! Can't do it? I guess you need to use timeline language!"

Yes, I do need to use temporal (not timeline) language, but I take such language beyond its ordinary limits as much as possible. I haven't forbidden the use of temporal terms! I have instead used my words to explain how temporal terms should be understood when applied to the eternal life of God. It really isn't so difficult to have an approximate conception of eternity. But of course we can't avoid speaking of eternity with terms marked by temporal notions. After all, we are human beings whose ordinary lives before encountering Christ are constrained entirely in the limits of time, and we have inherited language that only expresses itself from within these limits. But this doesn't mean that we cannot succeed in using that very language to transcend those limits and arrive at an approximation of what eternity means.

You want me to put to rest all this talk of foreknowledge and timelines, but if I do so, then we have nothing to discuss anymore, because almost the entirety of our dispute turns on this point. So many of the verses you've quoted to me will be read in a particular way depending on how you conceive of God's eternal life and how it is that we, who are still in time, are, in Christ, caught up into that eternal life outside of time even as we remain in earthly time. The whole of Romans 8 can be understood in this light!

When we are in Christ, we are together with Christ at the foundation of the world and at the end of the age even as we live out our lives in 2008. This is how we are foreknown. This is how we are chosen before the foundation of the world even as we are chosen today. "In Christ," we share in his eternal life, which isn't merely a way of saying that we will "live forever," which is true as far as it goes. But it's really a way of saying that we share in a life that is outside time even as we complete the duration of our earthly life within time. In this way, we are together with Christ and known by him at the foundation of the world. Thus foreknowledge isn't knowledge of a fact before the fact, it is "biblical" knowledge, person-to-person relational knowledge that, because Christ supersedes temporal limits, so does this relationship supersede temporal limits, even though the relationship plays out for us, on earth, in the passage of time (this, by the way, addresses your complaint about Orthodox envisioning free will in this life but supposedly not in the age to come; the age to come, which you refer to as "another phase of life" is eternity, which is not a "phase" at all; in eternity, will is fulfilled and does not operate on a temporal basis).

So yes, you can use temporal language, and even timeline language, but you must pay attention to how you use it, lest you begin to contain God and his "eternal decrees" in limits. You cannot without care apply temporal language to God himself and his life that we partake, and you have to recognize that, on certain points, the temporal language is allusive to an eternal, timeless reality that overflows the limits of the language used to describe it. Even God's intervention in time is not a matter of "first God did this and then he did that." No, all of God's intervention, seen by us in a temporal order and described so biblically, do themselves belong to an eternal NOW.

This is what it means that Jesus Christ is the lamb "slain from the foundation of the world." The slain Christ is the creator Christ. He is the Christ revealed to the Old Testament saints. The power revealed on the cross is the power that founds and upholds the universe, and though we see that power as acting at two or more different moments, they are in reality "simultaneous," if you'll pardon the temporal term, for God does not change or develop or endure in time. He intervenes in time, but he is not in time. And when we are in Christ, he has placed us in a reality that is outside of time, even while we continue our earthly lives in time. This means our true lives, in Christ, are in eternity now, even as we are also in time, and the eternal reality birthed in us is beyond the time in which we live. In this light, we see that, although words such as "predestination" and "foreknowledge" have a temporal ring, they really suggest what is outside temporal bounds. Because we know that God is not temporally bound in any way, we can be assured that such words, necessarily temporal because necessarily human, must be read in light of this eternal life of which we have been made partakers now in Christ and into which we will be made fully alive at his return.

I suppose that, to you, all that I've said up to now has been nothing more than a reiteration of the "bizarre" way you see me speaking in temporal terms just after making "lofty-sounding" accusations about timeline language. I'm sorry for that. I suppose that, in the heat of an Internet debate, it's tougher to really reflect on the words of our opponents, or it's easy to assume that we know in advance what our foe is talking about. Forgive me if I have done that to you as well (... and be aware that I use a word like "foe" only figuratively. In reality, I perceive you to be an earnest follower of Christ, and therefore a friend and brother, in spite of whatever disagreements we have. And though we're unlikely to sway each other in this place, I do enjoy the exchange and hope that you are gaining some benefit as am I. And I thank you that you would say you pray for me.)

But, back to the fray:

A rich piece of irony is that you go on to accuse me of describing a changing God, when I have been at pains to show how it is that God is not changing. I really encourage you to reread what I wrote, setting aside the polemical spectacles for a while and attempting to look beyond my own flaws as a writer, just to see what I might have meant rather than just what you assume I meant. I have not described a changing "demigod," and it's somewhat offensive that you would disingenuously accuse me of doing so (I say "disingenuously" because you know that I do not proclaim a changing God; I actually said as much in the above comments). You really ignore my point completely in your response to my comment about God not "making choices in a past tense that must be deterministically carried out in the present tense and cannot be changed in the future tense." And this, more than anything, makes me wonder how much effort you really invested to understand what I was saying. I was attempting to say that God does not operate in "tenses" nor in the realms of past or future, but that all he does he does in the present. As such, he is an unchanging God, and his "decrees" do not change. But those decrees are not matters of anterior statements and determinations being carried out in posterior actions.

Another funny thing is that, some of the times in your response when you jumped on me for using timeline language, it was when I was engaging something YOU said and speaking in YOUR terms or in terms similar to yours to draw out another way of looking at it.

In any case, suffice it to say that I have not denied our need to use language of past, present and future; nor have I denied the Bible's use of such language. I've even quoted or alluded to it. But I've been insistent about the fact that, temporal language notwithstanding, God does not belong in time. He certainly intervenes in time, most prominently in the incarnation and in the Old Testament theophanies, as you have pointed out. Christ certainly can be spoken of as the one who has come and who is the coming one. But all these things are spoken of from the human perspective from within time. In eternity, "it is finished."

And as I already said, you are quick to assent that God is outside time, of course interacting in time, and that time is a creation of God's. However you don't seem to see how Reformed words about foreknowledge and destiny conceive of God as being on a (very long) timeline. And you don't seem to see how Reformed ideas on these points are constructed on a quasi-philosophical, systematized basis independent of the encounter with the risen Christ.

This brings me back to my original point in joining this conversation. It is my own fault for allowing myself to stray from this point, which is the other key matter upon which our dispute turns. It must be said again that it is only on the basis of encountering the crucified and exalted Christ that we can make statements about being foreknown and chosen from before the foundation of the world. Statements about election are not made in the New Testament except on this basis. You say you agree with this, yet we disagree. Somehow, you and I read different things into the statement. Maybe another attempt will allow the distinction to be made.

To make the statement, on the basis of the encounter with Christ, that one has been foreknown and chosen from before the foundation of the world, is to acknowledge that in Christ one has encountered the eternal God and that to be in him is to share in his eternal life, which is before the foundation of the world. It is to be with him, chosen by him, in that "dimension" that is equally present now and before the world, in the world and after the world. (Note that this use of temporal terms is used to describe a reality unbound by time and undetermined by time's passage.)

The difference between this and Reformed thinking is that Reformed thinking bolsters itself with general principles of foreknowledge and election on which to base a systematic treatment of these topics that is not actually uttered in the Bible. These terms are given their own definitions and treated on their own, apart from the encounter with Christ, and they in fact are used in a manner that precedes the encounter with Christ. As such, these terms are wrested away from their doxological use as descriptions of a Christian's new life being the fulfillment of his or her very creation. They become instead terms twisted to describe a process of movement in God.

Any generalized attempt to treat these topics (foreknowledge and predestination) tears them away from their proper place -- which should be as illumined conclusions based upon an understanding of the reality of human participation in the eternal life of Christ -- and puts them into another place -- which is as initial stages in a process leading to salvation. Reformed theology examines these stages as subjects that stand anterior to the encounter with Christ. The encounter with Christ is described as dependent on the foreknowledge and predestination, rather than the foreknowledge and predestination being dependent on the encounter with Christ. And such treatment unavoidably discusses God as though he operates in a span of time (besides just intervening in time). But, when you start with the encounter with Christ, you are not forced into a position of putting God on a timeline. You simply thank him for bringing you into an eternal reality that is "before the foundation of the world" just as it is at the end of all things.

Switching gears here, I point out that you seem to equate justification with salvation, and I suppose this causes some misunderstandings between you and me here as well. Justification is an aspect of salvation, not a synonym for salvation. Salvation is new life, eternal life, not simply forgiveness of sins, important as that is. And justification is also caught up in the eternal dimension of this new life. So, justification can be in a sense described as a done deal, but salvation is not a matter of a moment when one is justified, it is a matter of a life lived in Christ. Having that life is having justification and glorification. Not having that life is not having either.

You go on to describe one of my statements as supporting an argument that glorified saints can fall away, but again, this is a misunderstanding of eternity. Once a saint has exited time completely, there will be no falling away for him or her because he or she is in eternity. This isn't loss of "freedom" but it is the end of changeability in time.

Also, please don't assume where I disagree with David Bryan. Perhaps he does disagree with some points I made, but I suspect that in both place where you have pointed out a disagreement, we could find the common ground and clear up the apparent contradictions. If he feels the need to correct or adjust anything I have said, then he can do so himself (and I welcome it, for I know I have much to learn). I feel confident that if he feels the need to do so, he will at least do so with an understanding about what I have been trying to say, whereas you have missed or ignored my point time and time again.

By the way, one of the verses you pulled on me to show the Bible's use of timeline language was the from the passage in Isaiah 40. I'm specifically looking at verse 21. This verse itself is a use of temporal language that removes us from the bounds of time. "Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?" Think about it. How can I have understood something "from the foundations of the earth" when I as a mere man am generations removed from those foundations? Seems impossible. But in Christ, I am taken with him into the eternity that is both outside time and in every moment, and thus I am able to understand something from a "time" to which my own individual temporal existence had no access.

You go on to quote some verses that presumably to you prove that all who have left the faith never were part of the faith. If you read 1 John 2:19 the way you're using it, then you are forced to assume that all phony Christians will eventually leave the faith. I think you and I would both agree that's not the case, especially based on Jesus' words that many will say to him "Lord, Lord," whom he never knew. The passage from 2 Peter doesn't say anything to indicate that the one who leaves the faith was never saved. I know you capitalized "A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT," but it's a stretch to assume that means the dog was a false Christian who had no faith to begin with. The very next line describes a sow that has been washed. This could just as easily be taken to indicate that the person who leaves the faith truly had been made clean. In reality, the 2 Peter passage is a vivid warning of the consequences of leaving the faith, not a description of someone who leaves as not being saved at all.

As for Romans 5:1, see my comments above about justification. The passage says "having been justified by faith." When faith is there, justification is there. When faith is not, justification is not. Again, I refer you to the Romans 11 passage about belief and grafting and unbelief and being cut off. Also on Romans 5:1, note David and Jacob's comments.

In our exchange about Hebrews 4, it seems that Jacob has provided more fascinating information than I did, but I will respond to your response to me that "It says they CAN'T repent, CAN'T come back." Yes, it does say that. And those who DO come back obviously CAN, so they obviously are not the ones to which this passage refers. As you went on to analyze whose position matches which father on this passage, you didn't acknowledge that the most striking consensus to be found in the fathers quoted, save two, was that this passage spoke of rebaptism. It's a perspective I hadn't applied to the passage, but it certainly doesn't detract from my comments about God's readiness to forgive. Even Theognostus refers to the blasphemy against the Spirit in a way that probably needs more elaboration. And Tertullian seems to be discussing this passage particularly in connection with a larger discussion about sexual sin, so his view would need some elaboration as well.

As for the passage in 1 Cor. 9, which you say is only Paul speaking of his reward, here are some words from Chrysostom on the matter, which take Paul to be speaking of salvation itself:

"'Lest by any means, having preached to others, I myself should be a rejected.'
Now if Paul feared this who had taught so many, and feared it after his preaching and becoming an angel and undertaking the leadership of the whole world; what can we say? For, 'think not,' saith he, 'because ye have believed, that this is sufficient for your salvation: since if to me neither preaching nor teaching nor bringing over innumerable persons, is enough for salvation unless I exhibit my own conduct also unblameable, much less to you.'"

And Gregory the Great:

"Assuredly the apostle Paul had already ascended into the third heaven,
had also been caught up into Paradise, and heard secret words which it was not lawful for a man to speak (2 Cor. xii. 2, &c.), and yet, still fearful, he said, I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, while preaching to others, I myself should become a castaway (1 Cor. ix. 27). One who is caught up into heaven still fears; and shall one whose conversation is still on earth desire already not to fear? Consider, most sweet daughter, that security is wont to be the mother of carelessness. Thou oughtest not, then, in this life to have security, whereby thou mayest be rendered careless. For it is written, Happy is the man that is always afraid (Prov. xxviii. 14). And again it is written, Serve the LORD in fear, and rejoice unto him with trembling (Ps. ii. 11). In short, then, it must needs be that in the time of this life trembling possess your soul, to the end that it may hereafter rejoice without end through the joy of security. May Almighty GOD fill your soul with the grace of His Holy Spirit, and, after the tears which you daily shed in prayer, bring you to eternal joys."


The line that you quoted and described as "firm" in John 10:28, "and they will never perish," need not be taken as proof of "once saved, always saved." John 3:16, John 11:25-26 and so many other passages make it clear that it is "he who believes" that shall never die. Those statements don't indicate that the belief is determined by God and that it can never become unbelief. Those statements certainly don't give us cause to conclude that someone who once believed and then stopped believing must never have really believed to begin with. The promise in John 10:28 can quite easily be seen to describe our condition once we are totally free from the bonds of time. The Church in the early centuries did not read once saved always saved. Most fathers that I've been able to search through read this passage as expressing the unity of Son and Father, with Hippolytus particularly noting that this passage highlights that Jesus himself claims the power to bestow eternal life. Even Augustine, the only one who did read predestination into the passage (and double predestination at that! the kind condemned at Orange), did not seize the chance to elaborate "and they will never perish" as anything more than a taunt to his unbelieving audience, who would perish.

And, you go on to say this:

"That's one reason I'm fearful for you since you think your salvation is dependent on what you do. You're weak and pathetically vulnerable to sin, as are all of us. But somehow you still think you can make it if you just forge ahead. This is not a God-honoring attitude and reveals the importance of this question."

I honestly thank you for your concern, but to tell you the truth, I don't think my salvation is dependent on what I do. Here you reveal a misunderstanding of my position. You don't know how very aware I am of my weakness and my pathetic vulnerability to sin. You don't know, except theoretically, the gravity of my own sins. Your words are an understatement, to be sure, in my case. However, you make a false assumption if you believe that I see my salvation as based on my own effort, as though I feel I must "just forge ahead." I line up to acknowledge that salvation is found in God's grace (power, not just favor) and mercy, revealed in Christ at the cross, and that this sustains me even in my own faithlessness, even turning my sin into opportunity for grace as I live a life of continual repentance thanks to his faithfulness. I understand that apart from Christ, I can do nothing, for he is my life and I have died to sin in order to be raised again in him. I understand that, as I work out my salvation, it is the power of God in me that permits me to will and to work.

I do not have to be Reformed or to subscribe to some kind of scheme about God's foreknowledge or election to understand these things, nor do I have to take the post-Augustinian tack on predestination to understand that God is faithful and that he does keep his promises, that he does not forsake his children and that nothing separates us from his love. Typical of Reformed arguments, you seem to suggest that everyone who disagrees must somehow working to earn their salvation and see themselves as just one misstep away from Hell. But no, there are other ways to look at these matters besides the forensic, Reformed way. There is, after all, the early patristic witness, which, despite some differences between fathers, never in its symphony lost the realization of the eternal reality of life in which we participate when we live in Christ. And that's how I see it, as a matter of "abiding" in Christ. I think John 15 sends a far clearer message than the one you try to squeeze out of John 10:28, and the reading of John 10 should be conditioned by John 15. "Every branch IN ME that does not bear fruit He takes away." This is talking about someone who has shared in the life of Christ. "Abide in me" is an active command, not simply a description of predetermination. You see this in John 15:6, you see that anyone who does not abide in Christ is cast out. Quite reminiscent of Romans 11. He establishes and elaborates this language of exhortation through the passage long before he gets to John 15:16 to assert that he first chose us. This allows us to eliminate the notion that his choice is a deterministic one. Rather, it is something, as described above, that is understood only on the basis of the encounter with Christ.

I also see that God's grace has been poured out on the world and that he does not withhold his mercy from anyone who seeks it or receives it. He does not, in some pretemporal "era," choose some and reject others (this is truly the attitude that is not "God-honoring"). Rather, he lovingly shares his life with all who want it, and this life, being eternal, brings one into a timeless existence such as I have attempted to describe and on the basis of which alone one can speak of being chosen from before the foundation of the world. On any other objective and general basis, one cannot speak of foreknowledge or election at all, because doing so will force one to turn it into a system that limits God and his freely offered love, all under the guise of God's "sovereignty."

With this, I'll close. Peace also to you, and God bless.

Rhology said...

Thanks for the notes from the more learned in Greek than I!

The notes on Heb 6 strike in both directions and don't really advance the discussion on this topic, ISTM. Anyone is welcome to elucidate a bit on why I'm wrong if I'm wrong.

Rom 5:1 - I was referring to the "having been justified by faith", not the "we have/let us have peace". Is there a variant on the "having been justified"?

Jacob said...

No variant. "Having been justified" is a straight aorist passive participle, and no variants are noted in NA-26. But the preposition is ek, which always takes the genitive in NT Greek, and usually means "from" or "out from." So maybe a more "literal" translation would be: "having-been-justified therefore from faith....", which may hearken back to the Apostle's phrase ek pistews eis pistin in Romans 1:17, a difficult phrase to understand and/or translate (see how various versions treat it).

Note that ek pistews means "from" in the sense of the source, I would say. When Romans 1:17 is translated "from faith to faith," and then 1:18 says "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven," the English reader doesn't see that the Apostle has switched to "apo," which means "away from" (i.e., directional - though sometimes ek and apo can be used interchangeably).

When St. Paul talks about Abraham [not] being justified by works, he again uses the preposition ek (in its "ex" form, which is how it appears before words that begin with vowels - kind of like our "a" vs. "an" usage). Romans 4:2.

This is all to say that if a Bible translates Romans 5:1 as "justified BY faith," one probably shouldn't understand that to be the instrument or means by which one was justified, which would probably use the dative or the dative plus en, or dia (through). I think. (This is all off the cuff without much study of the passage.)

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

A key thing to remember, in this context, is that God's Will and God's Foreknowledge are two different Uncreated Energies. Thus, to foreknow something and to will that something are not necessarily the same thing.

He can know in advance I will sin and can allow me to do so without willing that I should make this choice.

Rhology said...

momesansmom,

All of what you've said about temporality and such I agree with, except for your (to me) cryptic references to "encounter with the exalted Christ". I'm not following you on that one.
Part of the problem is that I express the same things but use diff words. Yes, God lives in the eternal NOW.
Yet you agree that God intervenes in time. Jesus CHrist is the same, period, but He is not always DOING the same things. He is not eternally dying on the cross - where would be the resurrection, then?
And I hasten to remind you that Romans 8 uses the words foreknowledge and predestination. What are "fore" and "pre" if not temporal statements? Sthg is being communicated there, and I think you need to acct for it.

I believe you are talking out of both sides of your mouth on this question. On the one hand you talk a great line about eternality and non-temporality and all that. But then you say this about asking questions about the diff between our free will choices to leave Jesus now vs after death:

Once a saint has exited time completely, there will be no falling away for him or her because he or she is in eternity. This isn't loss of "freedom" but it is the end of changeability in time.

So we're NOT living in eternity right now? Great - we're in agreement. This is what I'm saying. God has made it this way and uses language to express TO US certain concepts.
I said that in response to David Bryan's assertion that it's apparently unthinkable that our free will could be limited in such a way as to prevent our falling away once we are truly justified.

All that said, I still don't think that you've dealt with the fact that Rom 8 says that God foreknew AND JUSTIFIED those who will be glorified. Or, to be more proper (properer) and to comply better with what you've been saying about temporal language, it's that He foreknew, predestined, called, justified, and glorified. All in the past tense. And all the same "those", the same people.
Romans 5:1 (on which you missed the point) says that we were already justified. It's an aorist tense - it's completed. Paul apparently thought he could talk in terms of an "us" who have been justified and which action of justification has been completed. Thus, all the same those of whom he is speaking, their destiny is to be glorified. None will fall away since it's the same "those" justified and glorified in Rom 8.

justification can be in a sense described as a done deal, but salvation is not a matter of a moment when one is justified, it is a matter of a life lived in Christ.

There are at least two biblical uses of the word "salvation", but it is several times used as an equivalent to justification, which is the point at which an exponentially much greater number of things occur in changing the rebel enemy of God sinner to a friend, an adopted son, a lover, a holy one, of God. Thus this is most properly labeled as salvation, though salvation in a broader sense includes justification, sanctification, and glorification, all.

John 3:16, John 11:25-26 and so many other passages make it clear that it is "he who believes" that shall never die.

Yes, of course.
God will guard those in faith who are justified.
If someone dies in unbelief, they never believed. It's not that hard.

If you read 1 John 2:19 the way you're using it, then you are forced to assume that all phony Christians will eventually leave the faith.

Not at all - it doesn't say that. It says that those who left were never of us. But that doesn't mean that ALL who are not of faith WILL leave. Matt 7 obviously indicates that there will be some who persist in false profession until death, as you pointed out.

As regards Heb 6, you said:
And those who DO come back obviously CAN, so they obviously are not the ones to which this passage refers.

Sorry, but that's seriously a case of special pleading.
The psg says that those who fall away CAN'T COME BACK. So the choice is:
1) Believe that those who fall away once are screwed forever.
2) Believe that Heb 6 is not referring to a loss of salvation, and thus abandon it as a prooftext against eternal security.


1 Cor 9 - thanks for posting those words from those men. But their arguments don't change the force of John 10 and the fact that they obviously failed to take into account the many evidences for eternal sec in the NT. All I can do is parse what they said and the fact that 1 Cor 9 makes multiple references to the prize, the reward. Salvation is not strictly speaking a reward; it's a gift, can't be earned (Rom 4:4-5). Paul is speaking of sthg he CAN earn - eternal rewards.


You didn't deal with John 10:28-29 at all, and that's disappointing. Let me remind you of the issue here. It's pretty simple.
Jesus says that His sheep will never perish. Forget the questions about who can snatch.

John 10:25 Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father's name, these testify of Me.
26 "But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.
27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;
28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

You said:
The promise in John 10:28 can quite easily be seen to describe our condition once we are totally free from the bonds of time.

Read it again. No it can't - the sheep are sheep IN THIS LIFE, else quite a lot in that psg wouldn't make any sense.
And the consequence of your position means that we can never be His sheep until we die. Is that really what you believe?
So, please let me ask you to comment again on what it means that His sheep will never perish. If they fall away and don't come back, will they not perish?

Augustine...did not seize the chance to elaborate "and they will never perish" as anything more than a taunt to his unbelieving audience, who would perish.

Fine, but what does it mean that they will never perish? How could it be a taunt if His sheep will indeed perish?

and that this sustains me even in my own faithlessness, even turning my sin into opportunity for grace as I live a life of continual repentance thanks to his faithfulness.

Then what's the problem with the idea of eternal security? Is it not part of your convictions that YOU MUST LIVE THE LIFE or else fall away and perish?

John 15. "Every branch IN ME that does not bear fruit He takes away."

Of course. And did He not take away the branch of the unfruitful Jewish nation? Does He not prune His church thru church discipline (not that Orthodox are strong in that area, I'm talking NT teaching here)?

He does not, in some pretemporal "era," choose some and reject others (this is truly the attitude that is not "God-honoring").

I don't believe that either, but IF IT WERE THE TRUTH, you as a mere mortal have NO call to judge God thusly. It is your responsibility to submit to what He has ordained. Talking back to Him and saying "What you've done is no good!" is the very definition of not-God-honoring.

Peace,
Rhology

Jacob said...

Rhology wrote:

Romans 5:1 (on which you missed the point) says that we were already justified. It's an aorist tense - it's completed.

That is a simplistic, and in some ways misleading, definition for the aorist tense. Besides, it's a participle in Romans 5:1, not a finite verb, so other grammatical issues come into play. And then there is the issue of what dikaioô δικαιοω means in this context and in Paul's usage.

Rhology said...

You're saying the aorist participle does NOT signify a completed action?

And the questions about Pauline usage of dikaioo are not very impressive, but I'd welcome some fleshing out. In particular, let's do a little exegesis and ask ourselves
1) What to you is justification?
2) What effect does that have on, say, Jesus' words in John 10 where His people are referred to as His sheep?

Jacob said...

I'm saying the aorist aspect in non-finite forms focuses more on the type of action, or the way the author chooses to view the action, than the idea of "completed" or with a sense of time. The aspect of the aorist participle is to view or portray the action as a whole. It very well could be a completed action, or perhaps the author wanted to indicate that it happened without any comment re: whether it was completed or not. The perfect tense verb and participle have more a sense of completion or state than an aorist verb or participle, though an aorist can also refer to something completed. Sometimes, too, an aorist is used because the alternative, the present participle, would not work.

Sometimes an aorist can function like a perfect. Some verbs - like St. John's use of krazô - by customary usage use a perfect tense when one would expect an aorist. So the author's use, and any particularities of the specific word, also have to be examined.

The questions about Paul's usage of dikaioô are indeed impressive, despite your seeming wish to dismiss them, because a large part of the debate related to the New Perspective on Paul is based on different understandings of the meaning and usage of the word.

Here's a recent review of Piper's critique of Wright, The Future of Justification, that exposes why Paul's use and meaning of dikaioô must enter into the discussion of salvation.

---

How much NT Greek have you had? What grammar books have you read, or studied, or have in your library?

Rhology said...

Zero Greek.
That's why I don't make too many assertions about it. But those I do make I make on the basis of other more-knowledgeable people. And I ask questions like "You're saying the aorist participle does NOT signify a completed action?"

And the NPP seems pretty shady to me. That's one of the reasons I asked the questions I did, not only to you but also to momesansmom.

Lucian said...

Jesus' words in John 10 where His people are referred to as His sheep

His sheep are the ones that hear His voice, recognise it because they know it, and follow Him. Regarding these sheep did Jesus say that no one shall pluck them out of His hand. (That's what the text says). Christ was trying to encourage and instill hope in the hearts of those that would choose to follow Him, by stating as clearly as possible His hopeful promise, that as long as You hold on to God, God will hold on to You, keep You, and not desert You. (God is all-powerful and ever-faithful ... it's not His strength or faithfulness that we should be worried about, but rather our own).

You, however, argue that "once a sheep, always a sheep", and that even if You do not hold to the definition of "sheep" as laid out by Christ Himself (John 10:4, 5, 27) You will somehow be heir to the promise made to the "sheep".

Lucian said...

And the questions about Pauline usage of dikaioo are not very impressive ... 1) What to you is justification?

To me, since I'm Orthodox, justification is straightening. Why so?

Well, first of all, because, if it were for the Orthodox to have translated the Bible into English, we would've surely used an English word [like 'straightening'], and not a Latin one, like "justification" (and besides, it is the Catholics that seem to like Latin very much, not us).

And second, becasue the Paul that You're talking about has two halves in his fourth chapter of Romans. Why so?

Well, first of all, because everything in this world has obviously two halves, the fourth chapter of Romans included.

And secondly, because the two halves parallel each other: the first half treats a spiritual matter, whereas the second one a bodily one. But both things are as real as can be: the straightening that took place in Abraham's spirit in the first part of the chapter is as real as the straightening (health) that took place in his body in the last part of the very same chapter.

God wasn't satisfied by simply >declaring< Abraham physically healthy ... he really cured him! Likewise, why should He have been content by merely "declaring" him to be spiritually sound, instead of actually regenerating him ? I don't get it: why the double standard? :-\

Rhology said...

Lucian,

You may not be familiar enough with Reformed doctrine to know that justification and regeneration are concurrent events. One doesn't happen w/o the other.

And you, like momesansmom, avoided touching the primary thrust of John 10:28-29 that I cited.
It says the sheep will never perish. What about that is unclear? The only unclear thing is why you keep holding to your tradition that some sheep WILL perish in opposition to the very words of the Lord Jesus.

Peace,
Rhology

Lucian said...

I just wanted to tell You the things which I never told You before (partly because of the fact that I considered them obvious, part because of sloth, part because of forgetfulness). What You do with them, or how You treat them is alone Your business.

Lucian said...

First of all, I did respond to it.

Secondly, the reason I din't respond to it was that I didn't even bother to read Your little conversation with Mr. Greek-Geek over here. ;-) [Speaking of Hellenised Jews... hmmm... ]. >:)

Thirdly, if You don't even trust Christ own little words, how on earth are You gonna trust mine?

And fourthly: I *DID* respond to Your question: see point #1 above. You just weren't paying enough attention, as usual. :-\

So, here it is again: the forbidden verses: Lucian goes there where NO Orthodox has gone before: Ladies and Gentlemen, ... what we are witnessing here is a historical moment of uttermost importance: how will he get himself out of THIS one? ... the tension is growing ...

John 10:28
 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
29
 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
30  I and my Father are one
.


Do You understand now? That the Son is one with the Father, and one in might and strength and power with Him?

Jesus is saying: don't worry about Me having the power to keep you, if you were to follow Me: I'm one with the Father, and as all-powerful as only He can be ... Neither worry about me being unfaithful to My promise, or forgetful of My words: for I AM the very Word of the Father, and one with Him. Remember what I've told to Hosea in the days of old? Or to Solomon, in his Song of Songs? Or what I shall reveal in the due of time to John, My beloved disciple? : That I AM the faithful Groom, and the eternal Husband.

Rather worry that you are being faithful sheep, constantly obeying the Father's words (for I AM the Father's Word), keeping yourselves a pure and unblemished Bride before My Face (for I AM the ever-lasting Bridegroom and the 'Man of desires'; the Face of the Father, and no one can see God but through Me), and I shall not forsake you: any of you that hearken to My voice, ever! (for I am the Father's own Voice) and I shall not desert you that do My commandments, any of you, ever! (for it was Me that gave the Law unto Moses: for the Law was given by angels through an intermediary, and I AM the "Angel of the Lord" and there's only one intermediary between God and Man: Jesus Christ, Who is both God and man).

Still not clear enough? :-\ Do You want me to rewind through it again?

Lucian said...

You may not be familiar enough with Reformed doctrine on justification ...

There shouldn't be any Reformed (or Deformed?) doctrine on justification, because there is no "justification": it's straightening! :-|

David Bryan said...

Quite the tennis match I've been hosting here...

I'm going to take this way back to something Rhology said many comments ago. When I asked about how we determine which passages of scripture get "interpretive precedence" over others -- for example, say that Romans 8 keeps us from reading any kind of warning into Romans 11 -- Rhology told me that I "can't do that b/c John 10 says that we will never perish."

This proves my point, I think. Why could I not say that Romans 11, with its warning against those truly grafted into Israel being cut off by not continuing in the belief that originally saved them, could not color our view of John 10? In other words, why can't I just tell Rhology that he "can't say that" about John 10:28 because Romans 11 (as well as many other NT passages) warns us concerning not continuing in faith and forfeiting that which we were originally given. This colors what we read. We own up to this with no problems. Romans 8 means that those whom God justified, He will glorify, because such is the end result of those people's continuing in faith throughout their lives to their dying breath. The passage is written, as has been noted, as a testimony to God's faithfulness; it was not intended to stand apart from the numerous passages that make man's continual free will an indispensable part of justification, sanctification, and the inheritance of glorification.

Rhology, you seem to be fixated on three passages: John 10:26-30, Romans 5:1, and Romans 8:29-30. It's been shown that Romans 5:1 can be easily read in a way that states that, though a justification has taken place, actual peace with God is not a given, hence a possible exhortation to have said peace rather than a simple affirmation. Romans 8 is understood as God's foreknowledge and working out all things in tandem with man's eventual cooperation with God's grace through the end of his life. Yes, we're reading what we get from other passages pointed out to us from the Fathers into that. No, we don't have a problem with doing this. This may not satisfy you, but we see you as doing the same thing in reverse -- reading things into Romans 11 from John 10, for example -- so we're not too troubled when you accuse us of "avoiding Scriptures."

As for John 10, let me give you an example of what I was talking about above re: not forgetting our traditional teaching and letting that guide us when we encounter hard sayings. From the Blessed Theophylact's Explanation of the Gospel of John, x, 27-30:

"One might ask, 'How can the Lord say, No man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand, when we see that many have perished?' We answer that no one can pluck a believer from the hand of the Father, but there are many who can [use evil influence] to deceive. No one can snatch a believer away from God by brute force, yet every day we are tripped up by deception. And again, how can the Lord say that My sheep ... follow me ... and shall never perish, when we know that Judas perished? He perished because he chose not to follow the Lord and remain His sheep until the end. When the Lord says, They shall never perish, He is speaking of those who are intent on following Him as His sheep. But if a sheep wanders off from the flock and does not follow the shepherd, it is lost at once and will indeed perish. The example of Judas may be used to refute the Manichees. Judas at first whas holy, and one of God's sheep. He fell away by his own choice. This shows that good and evil do not exist as permanent conditions of our nature, but are manifested when we exercise free will."

momesansnom said...

rhology,

I think you'll be pleased to hear that I'll do my best not to rehash what I've already said about time and eternity. Anything more I try to say about it will amount to repetition. I still maintain that you and I don't see eye to eye on these topics. We probably do agree in theory on the general principles and certain words we use, but the fact that we still disagree on obvious matters demonstrates one way in which our understanding of eternity's interplay with time is different. You're welcome to reread things I wrote above and chew on them some more if you like. Those points are still important to what I'll say today, but there's no reason to recount them in detail.

My reference to the "encounter with the crucified and exalted Christ" shouldn't be too cryptic. I basically introduce the idea in my first two paragraphs in this comment box, and my repetition of the phrase is meant to emphasize the points made in those paragraphs. I suppose I could elaborate, but I'm trying to keep things relatively short in today's response.

You say: "He (Jesus) is not eternally dying on the cross - where would be the resurrection, then?"

While certainly I agree for the most part, I must add that Jesus' death on the cross is the point where the eternal power of God is most forcibly and truly manifested in time. It is the power of life in death, strength in weakness, light in darkness. It is our redemption. The resurrection is the validation of that power. It is the power that created all things and sustains all things. He is the lamb slain from the foundation of the world. What occurred on the cross, at a particular point in time, was also utterly eternal.

You say: "And I hasten to remind you that Romans 8 uses the words foreknowledge and predestination. What are "fore" and "pre" if not temporal statements? Sthg is being communicated there, and I think you need to acct for it."

I have accounted for it. They are recognized retrospectively on the basis of encountering Christ and abiding in Christ. When one is in Christ, one is participating in his eternal life, thus one can recognize the "fore" and the "pre" inherent in this life, and also find the future in the now. But this "fore" and "pre" can't be spoken of on any other sort of objective or general basis.

You say: "So we're NOT living in eternity right now? Great - we're in agreement."

We are not in total agreement, because I have referred to the fact that, as Christians, we participate in eternity. This is eternal life, which is the life of Christ. When we participate in the life of Christ here in time, we are sharing in eternity (eternal life) right now, so we are in time by virtue of our creation as temporal beings and our birth into a temporal world, but we are also beyond time by virtue of the grace of the Holy Spirit which we have in faith. This is why we can say we're foreknown or predestined. This is also why we can speak of being glorified in the past tense, even though it is also a coming reality. It is an eschatological reality in which we now participate but which we have yet to taste in its fullness. This is the message of Romans 8 from start to finish. This eternal life; and all those words, such as "foreknown," "predestined," "justified" and "glorified" are words that describe the eternal state we are in when we abide in Christ. But when we cut ourselves off from the source of life, we have no eternal life -- indeed, no life at all -- and we are not participating in that eternal state. This can change in our earthly lives because we are subject to changes of mind, of affection, of loyalty, of belief. When we have been brought out of time and into the fullness of time, it's not a matter of losing freedom; it's instead a matter of living in fullness, in the fulfillment of freedom.

You said: "All that said, I still don't think that you've dealt with the fact that Rom 8 says that God foreknew AND JUSTIFIED those who will be glorified. ... All in the past tense. And all the same "those", the same people. "

I have dealt with that, and I just did so again, but your Reformed spectacles, certainly along with my weaknesses as a writer, are preventing you from grasping the content of my words as they apply to these verses. Here, you yourself say "will be glorified," but then say "all in the past tense." If you spend a while considering how what is in the future is also in the past, you might start to get it.

You say: "There are at least two biblical uses of the word "salvation", but it is several times used as an equivalent to justification ..."

Maybe so, but it is clear that salvation is more than justification. Salvation is Christ's life in you. It is in participation in this life that justification is any kind of reality. Justification is not the ticket to gaining that life. That life is the ticket to experiencing justification. We are not, in our own lives, declared justified. No, our own lives are buried with Christ and we are raised in the newness of Christ's life, which is pure. This is where are justification is found, in Christ's life, and Christ's life is our salvation. It is not some change of status. It is a change of being, as an appropriation of the very life of God and consequently, all the attributes of that life, which are eternal. If we cease to participate in that life, we cease to experience justification.

As for our dispute over 1 John 2:19, I of course don't read it as meaning all phony Christians will eventually leave the faith. I was saying that your way of reading it, if you want to be logical, will force you to that conclusion. In reality, John is writing about some specific people here, not referring to everyone who leaves the faith. He's referring to "antichrists," those who deceive the sheep and lead them astray.

As for Hebrews 6, I by no means have set up my words as definitive interpretation of that passage, but comments in reference to the passage, mainly to point out the fact that anyone who does repent obviously can repent.

You said: "1 Cor 9 - thanks for posting those words from those men. But their arguments don't change the force of John 10 and the fact that they obviously failed to take into account the many evidences for eternal sec in the NT. All I can do is parse what they said ..."

Essentially, you've simply and cavalierly brushed aside the words of authoritative teachers of the Church, recognized by all Christians as such for centuries before (and during) the Reformation, and concluded that you are your own authority on these matters about what is evident and clear in the New Testament. I'm not arguing for infallibility of the fathers, but I also can't help but chuckle when people find it so easy to think they know better and simply dismiss their words. I'll return to this.

And now, I'm starting to get to the crux of the matter when it comes to your ideas about John 10: 28-29. I haven't skirted this verse, as you accuse me of doing. I've just provided answers that you find unsatisfactory. There's a difference. As for this passage, I'll second what Lucian said and DB's quote from the Blessed Theophylact, and I'll add a couple of my own thoughts:

It says "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. ..."

The ones who "shall never perish" are the ones who have been given eternal life (which are the ones who follow -- you have to follow). I'll spare you a dissertation on this, but if you recall my words about eternity and participation in eternity, you might begin to recognize how having eternal life is the equivalent of never perishing. It's clear biblically that having eternal life is having Christ's life. It is abiding in Christ in faith. Other passages, some of which have already been cited, indicate the importance of choosing to abide in Christ and not falling away. When you abide in Christ, you are his sheep, you are alive, you participate in eternal life and thus you will never perish. When you do not abide in Christ, you die because you have no life in you. There's no reason to read "they will never perish" in any other way than this, and there are no indications here that it is impossible to lose this eternal life or that anyone who has lost it never tasted it. The passage is not an assertion of eternal security except in a decidedly non-Reformed twist on the concept: One must, in time, abide in an eternal reality to enjoy that eternal security. Walking away from that eternal reality is walking away from that eternal security.

You have touted the phrase "and they will never perish" as though it were an indisputably obvious reference to eternal security, written on a giant neon billboard of sorts. I did as you asked. I read it again. And again. And again. But somehow, the meaning that seems so obvious to you is not obvious to me. Especially when I read the entire passage and see it being more about Jesus asserting his equality with the Father and asserting his power to bestow life (he is the life). Especially when I read passages such as those in John 15 and Romans 11, which far more explicitly challenge Reformed ideas of eternal security than this passage in John 10 could possibly support it. Especially when I search through the fathers and find that none of them seemed to espouse your reading of the passage. Especially when I examine the teachings of Christendom prior to the Reformation and see that no prominent teacher (maybe no one at all?) was proclaiming this teaching that you find to be so obvious. Perhaps, when all is said and done, it's really not so obvious except to those who have put on Reformed spectacles.

Maybe you feel bold enough to assert that the Church and all of the teachers it valued most highly were simply wrong for 1,500 years or so about a very important aspect of Christian truth. Have at it, but if you do, then you challenge the truth that the very providence that you claim to uphold with a doctrine of perseverance of the saints. You challenge the perseverance of truth in the Church. Sure, great men of the Church make mistakes, but certainly not with such unanimity!

Here's the nitty-gritty: What you and I have to say about the meanings of this or that passage of scripture really doesn't amount to anything if we find consistent opposition to our ideas in the earliest centuries of the Church. You may disagree, saying that the Reformers found what the fathers overlooked or refused to acknowledge or saying that scripture speaks for itself and can be interpreted individually or over against what the Church has long upheld without controversy. But to do so is to state that God does not really preserve his Church.

Finally, you say: "I don't believe that either, but IF IT WERE THE TRUTH, you as a mere mortal have NO call to judge God thusly. It is your responsibility to submit to what He has ordained. Talking back to Him and saying "What you've done is no good!" is the very definition of not-God-honoring."

You make a good point, one made clear in Romans 9. I don't believe I was judging God by my words, and may he show mercy if I was. Rather, I sought to critique those who, despite the fact that God has gone to such great lengths to show that he loves all, dishonor him with doctrines that declare that he hates some people and rejects them from eternity based on some notion of his "good pleasure." This is what some Reformed teachers (not you, as I understand your words) proclaim.

With that, I've lost steam. Again, though we disagree, I do enjoy the exchange, and I hope you don't find any disrespect in my words. I mean none. Grace and peace to you.