Liberals believe they are making Christianity relevant, credible, beneficial, and humane. Evangelicals in the line of J. Gresham Machen believe they are making something other than Christianity. That was the dividing line a century ago, and the division persists.
What is theological liberalism?
Liberalism is both a tradition—coming out of the late-18th century Protestant attempt to reconfigure traditional Christian teaching in the light of modern knowledge and values—and a diverse, but recognizable approach to theology.
Like any “ism,” liberalism is not easy to pigeonhole. But Gary Dorrien’s magisterial three volumes on The Making of American Liberal Theology present a coherent picture of a movement that has been marked by identifiable hermeneutical and sociological commitments. Even if one wishes to avoid liberal theology, it would still be wise to know something about a movement that has exerted such considerable influence over the past 200 years.
Below are seven characteristics of liberalism that have been culled from the first volume of Dorrien’s trilogy. The headings are mine; the indented text is from the book.
1. True religion is not based on external authority
The idea of liberal theology is nearly three centuries old. In essence, it is the idea that Christian theology can be genuinely Christian without being based upon external authority. Since the eighteenth century, liberal Christian thinkers have argued that religion should be modern and progressive and that the meaning of Christianity should be interpreted from the standpoint of modern knowledge and experience. (xii)
What’s more, Dorrien recognizes this rejection is something new in the history of the church.
Before the modern period, all Christian theologies were constructed within a house of authority. All premodern Christian theologies made claims to authority-based orthodoxy. Even the mystical and mythopoetic theologies produced by premodern Christianity took for granted the view of scripture as an infallible revelation and the view of theology as an explication of propositional revelation. Adopting the scholastic methods of their Catholic adversaries, Protestant theologians formalized these assumptions with scholastic precision during the seventeenth century. Not coincidentally, the age of religious wars that preceded the Enlightenment is also remembered as the age of orthodoxy.
Reformed and Lutheran orthodoxy heightened the Reformation principle that scripture is the sole and infallibly sufficient rule of faith, teaching that scripture is also strictly inerrant in all that it asserts. (xv)
Note that Dorrien does not believe inerrancy was a Princetonian invention.
2. Christianity is a movement of social reconstruction.
One of the most influential definitions of theological liberalism was offered in 1949 by an able latter-day proponent, Daniel Day Williams: “By ‘liberal theology’ I mean the movement in modern Protestantism which during the nineteenth century tried to bring Christian thought into organic unity with the evolutionary world view, the movements from social reconstruction, and the expectations of ‘a better world’ which dominated the general mind. It is that form of Christian faith in which a prophetic-progressive philosophy of history culminates in the expectation of the coming of the Kingdom of God on earth.” (xiv)
Was Jesus the true Messiah or was Jesus a failed Messiah? In other words, did his death confirm his failure? Or, to the contrary, did his death confirm his triumph?
This question is relevant to every person alive today. If we confess Jesus as the true Messiah, then we will serve Him as our King forever. If we consider Jesus to be a failed Messiah, then we will be separated from him forever. This is the difference between salvation and damnation. This is the difference between heaven and hell.
The Disciples’ Initial Confidence
This also is a question that the followers of Jesus asked. Initially, they were convinced that Jesus was the Messiah. Consider, for example, the great confession of Peter in Matthew 16:13-16. Jesus asked His disciples, “‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ [i.e., the Messiah], the Son of the living God’” (see e.g., Mark 8:27–30; 10:35–45; John 1:43–51). This was the conviction of the disciples and other followers of Jesus prior to Jesus’ death.
The Disciples’ Confidence Shaken
However, when Jesus was arrested and then crucified, their confidence faltered. They began to think that they had misjudged Jesus, and that he had failed. When Jesus was arrested, Peter disassociated himself from Jesus and asserted: “I do not know the man” (Matthew 26:72). Later, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, Thomas refused to believe that Jesus was different from any other person who dies, and declared: “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). Thomas is making a rhetorical statement here and essentially stating: “We had hoped that Jesus was the Messiah, but He died.” In short, when Jesus died, the hopes of his followers were crushed.
Three Reasons for the Disciples’ Shaken Confidence
Why then did Jesus’ followers think that Jesus failed when He died? Of course, each disciple may have had his or her own particular reaction to Jesus’ death. But the following are three flawed perspectives—evident within different followers of Jesus—that contributed to the sentiment that Jesus failed.
Erroneous Human Perspective
The followers of Jesus evidently believed that death meant human failure. This is the very assumption that the two men traveling to Emmaus betray about their thinking. When Jesus asked the two men what they were talking about, they said: “19 Concerning Jesus of Nazareth…. 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel” (24:19–21). They had initially thought that he was the Messiah, but then he was killed; therefore, the reasoning goes, he failed to fulfill the role of the Messiah.
We also see in Acts 5:35-39 that this notion—that death means failure—was accepted at that time more broadly. After Jesus had already risen from the dead, his disciples began to preach that He is the Messiah. Opposing this message, the Jewish leadership deliberated how to stop the disciples. At one such deliberation, a prominent Pharisee named Gamaliel offered a suggestion, which exhibits a belief that death means failure.
Gamaliel said, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. 36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”
Gamaliel is essentially saying: “We have seen this before. A charismatic personality rises up, gains a following, dies, and then the movement falls apart.” Despite his qualification that God’s potential involvement changes the significance of the situation, Gamaliel’s general point is that under normal human circumstances, death marks the end of every leader.
This is how the disciples evidently saw it too. Jesus died, therefore, Jesus failed. Their human perspective that death means failure clouded their understanding of Scriptures and the very things that they heard from Jesus Himself.
Faulty Theological Perspective
Jesus’ followers also believed that death was divine punishment—a tenet that is true at its core—but this theological point produced an irreconcilable conundrum for them concerning Jesus’ death. If Jesus is the Messiah, the unique servant of God, then how is it that He suffers divine punishment?
That death is divine punishment is an accurate theological truth. We know this from Ezekiel 18:4: “The soul who sins shall die”; or Roman 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death.” But the culture of that time took it to an unbiblical level and associated every experience of suffering and death directly with the person’s presumable sin. In John 9:2, Jesus and the disciples encountered a blind man, and the disciples asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” The disciples assumed that the man’s suffering was directly linked to his or to his parents’ sins.
In Luke 13, Jesus comments on an incident in which a tower in Siloam fell and killed 18 people, and in his remarks Jesus states: “4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Why did Jesus say this? Because that’s what the people were thinking—that those who died were worse sinners and that God was punishing them.
With this mindset, the disciples viewed Jesus’ death and were puzzled. What made this even more unfathomable was that Jesus was crucified on a cross—that is, Jesus’ form of death was reserved for those who were cursed by God (Deut 21:22–23). When Jesus died, his followers and the rest of the Jewish community thought that He was being punished by God. But if he was being punished, then how could he be the Messiah?
This response, however, is the very response that Isaiah predicted would be expressed by the people of Israel about the Messiah’s death: “We esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted” (53:4). Isaiah wrote that the Jewish people would in fact misinterpret the Messiah’s suffering and death as divine punishment for his sins. However, the very point of this prophecy is that this was a faulty theological perspective. Isaiah proceeds to say in 53:5: “But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for ouriniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed.” The apostle Paul articulated this principle and applied it to Jesus as follows: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Yes, the Messiah was punished by God, but not for his own sins. The Messiah was punished for the sins of the sinners. Because the followers of Jesus failed to understand this role of the Messiah, they misinterpreted the nature of Jesus’ death and they wrongly concluded that he had failed.
Outright Unbelieving Perspective
Additionally, the death of the Messiah was an inconceivable and an unacceptable notion for the followers of Jesus.
The refusal to believe that the Messiah must suffer and die is clearly evident within Peter immediately following his confession that Jesus is the Messiah. As Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He would suffer and die, Peter rebuked Jesus, and said: “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (Matthew 16:22).
This lack of belief is also what Jesus confronts the two men about on the road to Emmaus. After the men expressed their disappointment that Jesus failed as Messiah because He died, Jesus replied: “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:25-26)
In other words, the followers of Jesus failed to see and to believe the revelation concerning the Messiah’s death in the Scriptures. They refused the fact that the death of the Messiah was the plan of God and they missed that the death of the Messiah served a specific purpose. Isaiah 53:6 states: “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” This was the purpose—redemption. And Jesus made this very point about Himself in Mark 10:45, when He said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” The ultimate purpose of Jesus’ life was His death, but the disciples and the followers of Jesus missed this because they refused to believe.
Because of their unbelieving hearts, the followers of Jesus thought that Jesus was a failed Messiah because he died. The fact is that if Jesus had not died, then He would have been a failed Messiah, because then He would not have fulfilled the Scriptures.
However, inasmuch as Jesus did fulfill this key messianic prophecy—to die and to bring redemption in his resurrection from death—Jesus must necessarily be the true Messiah.
Jesus and the Scriptures Today
Today, people refuse to confess Jesus as the Messiah for the very same reasons. The question is: How should we respond? Well, how did Jesus respond when he was on the road to Emmaus with the two men who thought that he had failed? Beginning with Moses and the prophets, He interpreted to them the Scriptures concerning Himself (Luke 24:27). Just like Jesus, we must also always go back to the Scriptures, because it is the Scriptures that demonstrate that Jesus is the Messiah.
October 31st marks the 500th anniversary of the revolt against the abuses and totalitarian control of the Roman Catholic Church known as the Protestant Reformation. To help us understand why there still remains a very wide divide between Protestants and Catholics, pastor and best-selling author Kevin DeYoung lays out a few of the main points that cause the separation so that those who are unfamiliar with RCC theology will know why there still remains a wide divide, and never the twain shall meet. He writes:
Ask a serious Protestant today what is the biggest threat to orthodox Christianity today, and he might mention cultural hostilities, the sexual revolution, or nominalism in our churches. But if you would have asked a Protestant the same question a hundred years ago, he would have almost certainly mentioned the Roman Catholic Church. Until fairly recently, Protestants and Catholics in this country were, if not enemies, then certainly players on opposing teams.
Today, much of that animosity has melted away. And to a large extent, the thaw between Protestants and Catholics has been a good thing. Sincere Protestants and Catholics often find themselves to be co-belligerents, defending the unborn, upholding traditional marriage, and standing up for religious liberty. And in an age that discounts doctrine, evangelical Protestants often share more in common theologically with a devout Roman Catholic steeped in historic orthodoxy than they do with liberal members of their own denominations. I personally have benefited over the years from Catholic authors like G. K. Chesterton, Richard John Neuhaus, and Robert George.
“U.S. Protestants also are split on another issue that played a key role in the Reformation: 46% say the Bible is the sole source of religious authority for Christians – a traditionally Protestant belief known as sola scriptura. Meanwhile, 52% say Christians should look both to the Bible and to the church’s official teachings and tradition for guidance, the position held by the Catholic Church during the time of the Reformation and today.”
Mark Twain once quipped, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
Ah statistics. They can be very helpful. Or very misleading. And much of it depends on how the questions are asked.
Last week it was announced that a new Pew foundation study demonstrated that modern Protestants are a lot less like Martin Luther and a lot more like Roman Catholics than people might think.
When it comes to the two main issues of sola scriptura (Scripture alone) and sola fide (faith alone) apparently Protestants aren’t so Protestant after all. The study conclusions state:
For example, nearly half of U.S. Protestants today (46%) say faith alone is needed to attain salvation (a belief held by Protestant reformers in the 16th century, known in Latin as sola fide). But about half (52%) say both good deeds and faith are needed to get into heaven, a historically Catholic belief.
U.S. Protestants also are split on another issue that played a key role in the Reformation: 46% say the Bible is the sole source of religious authority for Christians – a traditionally Protestant belief known as sola scriptura. Meanwhile, 52% say Christians should look both to the Bible and to the church’s official teachings and tradition for guidance, the position held by the Catholic Church during the time of the Reformation and today.
When these two questions are combined, the survey shows that just three-in-ten U.S. Protestants believe in both sola fide and sola scriptura.
These stats, if true, would certainly be stunning. Indeed, even depressing. And given the low-level of theological knowledge among most self-identified evangelicals, we might easily believe these stats are right on the mark.
But, I think there are reasons to doubt them. And those reasons are centered upon the very definition of sola scriptura and sola fide in the questions asked.
The post Are Protestants Closer to Catholics than Martin Luther? A Response to the Recent Pew Study (Part 1) appeared first on The Aquila Report.
Kevin DeYoung runs through the primary differences between Protestants and Roman Catholics. “Should Catholics and Protestants treat each other decently and with respect? Of course. Will we labor side by side on important moral and social matters? Quite often. Can we find born again Christians worshiping in Catholic churches? I’m sure. But are the disagreements between Protestants and Catholics, therefore, negligible? Hardly. The differences still exist, and they still matter.”
Read more: Protestant and Catholic
Critics of the slogan “faith alone” often point out that Scripture only speaks once about whether we are justified by faith alone—and that text denies it: “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24, CSB).
What does James mean in saying we are justified by works?
I won’t defend the truth of justification by faith alone in detail, but it’s clearly taught, for example, in Romans 3:28: “A person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” Or, as Paul teaches in Romans 4:5, “God justifies the ungodly.” Both Abraham and David were justified by faith and not by works (Rom. 4:1–8; Gal. 3:6–9).
Salvation, as Paul elsewhere demonstrates, is “by grace” and “through faith” (Eph. 2:8–9). Works are excluded as the basis of salvation—otherwise people could boast about what they have done. Salvation by grace through faith highlights the amazing and comforting truth that salvation is the Lord’s work, not ours.
But does Paul contradict James?
James and Works Righteousness
James 2:14–26 repeatedly argues that faith without works doesn’t save on the last day. Those who claim to have faith but lack good works aren’t saved by such a claiming faith (Jas. 2:14). James compares such faith to “words of love and comfort” given to someone who is cold and hungry. Such words are meaningless if not accompanied by actions to feed and clothe the person in need (2:15–16). So also, faith without works is “dead” and “useless” (2:17, 20, 26).
Faith that is merely intellectual, or faith that claims to believe but is bereft of any action, is no better than “the faith” of demons. After all, they subscribe to the orthodox belief that “God is one,” and they “shudder” in terror (2:19). James highlights that Abraham was “justified by works” in offering up Isaac (2:21), and Rahab the prostitute was “justified by works” in receiving the spies and protecting them from danger (2:25).
More than intellectual belief
At first glance, it might seem James rejects justification by faith alone, but first glances aren’t enough when reading the Scriptures. We are called to read deeply and canonically. James doesn’t deny that faith saves; he rejects the notion that a particular kind of faith saves—a faith that doesn’t produce works. In short, faith that is merely intellectual assent is not saving faith.
Again, demons professed that Jesus is “the Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24), but their belief in that truth didn’t save them. Even though they knew who Jesus was, they hated him. Saving faith, then, is the act of the entire person. It includes the will and the emotions, such that those who believe in Jesus give themselves to him.
Faith alone justifies
Let’s think of it another way. Faith alone justifies, but only the kind of faith that inevitably produces good works. Now, such good works aren’t the basis of justification; indeed, they can’t be, for one sin makes you a lawbreaker (Jas. 2:10–11). Good works can’t function as the foundation of our justification because God demands perfection, and even after we are converted we continue to sin.
James, in fact, says this very thing in the next passage after discussing justification by works: “We all stumble in many ways” (3:2). The word “stumble” means “sin,” as the parallel text in James 2:10 shows. Every one of us without exception—including James (“we all”)—continue to sin.
Is he saying we sin only occasionally? Absolutely not. He says we all sin “in many ways.” We don’t just sin in a few ways, but in many. Since sin continues to characterize the lives of believers in remarkable ways, and since God demands perfection, works that justify can’t form the basis of our justification.
Fruit, not root
How should we understand the works James requires? Certainly good works are necessary, for without them we will not be justified, but we have seen that they aren’t the necessary basis or foundation.
The best solution is to say they are the result and fruit of faith. True faith expresses it in works. Paul actually says the same thing, teaching what ultimately matters is “faith expressing itself through love” (Gal. 5:6, NIV).
The concept isn’t hard to understand. If I said the room you were in was about to blow up in one minute, and you believed me, desired to live, and were physically able to leave, you would hurry to exit. True faith would lead to works! Leaving the room would be the result of your faith. So it’s right to say, as the Reformers did, that we are justified by faith alone, but that true faith is never alone. I would suggest James is teaching this very idea.
It isn’t as if our works save or justify in the sense that they qualify us to enter God’s presence—as if our virtue wins us God’s favor on the last day. James teaches that there is an organic relationship between genuine faith and works. If we truly trust Christ, that trust shows up in how we live. Works evidence our faith.
Twin biblical truths
Why do Paul and James sound so different? Why does it appear at first glance they contradict? We need to remember that letters were written to specific situations facing specific churches. Paul wrote to churches where people were tempted to trust in their works for salvation, while James wrote to those who were disposed to think intellectual assent could save them.
Paul counteracts legalism, while James corrects antinomianism.
Of course, Paul rejected antinomianism as well: “I am warning you about these things—as I warned you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:21). He also believed good works were necessary for eternal life, but both Paul and James believed such works were the fruit of saving faith, not the root.
In the beauty and completeness of God’s Word, Paul and James teach complementary, not contradictory, truths.
The biblical and theological issues of predestination and election are a stumbling block to some folks. I have had various Christians, including not a few Catholics, say that they just cannot believe in these things. Sadly, this is normally because they do not understand what Scripture actually teaches on these matters.
Indeed, if they are Catholics, they likely know little about Protestantism in general, or Calvinism in particular. They may just have a knee-jerk reaction whenever they hear the “P” or “E” words, and move on from there without any careful reflection and biblical interaction.
This is a pity since this is indeed fully biblical teaching. The truth is, predestination and election are taught throughout Scripture, so those who claim they cannot or will not accept this are effectively saying they refuse to believe God and his Word at this point.
That predestination is a fully biblical truth cannot be denied, but of course how we are to understand it is the next matter. Indeed, how we put together concepts like divine sovereignty and his electing purposes, divine foreknowledge, and the doctrine of human accountability and moral responsibility is a major theological toughie.
There are plenty of verses dealing with a sovereign God who is in charge and chooses and elects things and people, while there are plenty of verses dealing with our moral accountability and the need to make right choices for which we are responsible.
How these two seemingly incompatible truth sets go together has been the stuff of theological discussion and debate for the last two millennia. One thing we know for sure is it will not be fully solved and reconciled on my site any time soon! My take on it is partially this: Let God be God and he can deal with the sovereignty bit, and let men be men and we can deal with the personal responsibility bit.
So what then is the biblical evidence for predestination and election? I realise that simply listing every instance of the words as they appear in Scripture is not the best way to deal with this, but it is a start. So let me share some of these passages, and only those found in the New Testament.
I will then need to pen some more articles to seek to make some sense of these texts, and to make some broader theological points in the debate. Here then is what the New Testament has to say – at least in part – on the issue of God’s choice, election, and predestination:
Matthew 12:18 Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
Matthew 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.
Matthew 24:31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Mark 13:20-22 “If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”
Luke 2:34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against
Luke 18:7 Now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?
John 6:37-39 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.
John 6:44-45 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.
John 13:18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’
John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
John 17:2 Since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.
John 17:6 I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.
Acts 2:23 This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
Acts 2:39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.
Acts 4:28 To do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.
Acts 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.
Acts 15:17-18 ‘So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,’ Says the Lord, who makes these things known from long ago.
Acts 17:26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.
Acts 22:13-14 He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see him. Then he said: ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth.
Romans 1:6 Including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
Romans 8:28-30 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
Romans 8:33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
Romans 9:6-33 (too lengthy to post here, but let me offer a few parts of it below)
Romans 9:10-13 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
Romans 9:15-16 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.
Romans 11:1-36 (too lengthy to post here, but let me offer a few parts of it below)
Romans 11:1-8 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, as it is written:
“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that could not see
and ears that could not hear,
to this very day.”
1 Corinthians 1:24-26 But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
1 Corinthians 2:7 But we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory;
Galatians 1:15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace.
Ephesians 1:1-23 (too lengthy to post here, but let me offer a few parts of it below)
Ephesians 1:1-6 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
Ephesians 1:9-12 Making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Colossians1:27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Colossians 3:12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
1 Thessalonians 1:4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you.
1 Thessalonians 3:2-4 We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them.
2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.
2 Timothy 1:9 Who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,
Titus 1:1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness,
James 1:18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
1 Peter 1:2 According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.
1 Peter 1:20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you.
1 Peter 2:6-8 For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”
Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
“The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”
“A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
2 John 1:1 The elder, To the lady chosen by God and to her children, whom I love in the truth—and not I only, but also all who know the truth—
2 John 1:13 The children of your sister, who is chosen by God, send their greetings.
Jude 1:4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Revelation 13:8 And all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.
Revelation 17:14 They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.
This is not an exhaustive list, but a fairly representative one. And as mentioned, it is one thing just to list a bunch of these passages. It is another thing to try to get a proper understanding of them. That will have to be the stuff of another article or two. So stay tuned.
The post Predestination and Election: The New Testament Data appeared first on CultureWatch.
In his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul sought to correct a church that had lost the heart of the gospel. Dr. Grant Osborne calls this letter “the first great theological battle in the history of the church.” At the core of the disagreement was the place of traditional Jewish religious practices for Gentle converts to Christianity. The Jewish Christians of the Galatian churches believed that Gentles had to become Jews—be circumcised and submit to the Mosaic law—before they could be saved. These Judaizers were convinced that the law was still the heart of the gospel, rather than Jesus’ actions on the cross.
The modern church continues to struggle with the temptation of works-based salvation. Osborne recognizes this challenge facing Christians today and addresses it directly in Galatians Verse by Verse. In this excerpt, Osborne reveals core theme of Galatians and applies it to our lives today.
The core of this letter is the stability of the true Christian gospel. In fact, Paul defines the gospel in Galatians 3:1–4:11. Paul proves that the Judaizers’ attempt to replace the cross with circumcision and the law constitutes heresy. It is anathema to the gospel, which centers on salvation by grace through faith. When salvation in Christ is claimed to be attainable by works rather than by faith, the gospel is not merely threatened but destroyed. Jesus brought about a fundamental change in God’s economy of salvation by inaugurating the switch from the old covenant age of the law to the new covenant age of salvation in Christ. On the basis of Jesus’ willingly allowing himself to be placed on the cross and bearing our sins as our substitute, God declares us innocent, forgiven, and righteous in his sight. If we could earn this right standing with God by keeping the law or doing good works, Jesus’ death would be worth nothing (Gal 2:21).
Works righteousness keeps sneaking to the forefront in too many churches, leading them to replace the gospel with good works and do away with evangelism in favor of social concern and fellowship. These external issues must never be allowed to supplant the internal reality of faith in Christ as the core of everything we are and do. The unequivocal and unmistakable message of Galatians lies at the epicenter of the Christian faith: We are all sinners saved only by faith in the Christ who became the substitute for us and bore our sins on the cross. The works-oriented salvation of Paul’s Judaizer opponents was heresy, and to follow it constituted apostasy. In our day, we must be carefully attuned to so-called Christian movements that in reality depart from the clear gospel message and deeply endanger the church.
Our purpose is simple yet profound: We are to keep the cross central and maintain a lifestyle that is “crucified to the world”—that considers itself dead to the world’s values and goals. We are part of a “new creation,” no longer pursuing self-centered goals and sacrificing eternal realities for the fleeting pleasures of this life. We also seek a balanced life, enjoying the world in which God has placed us while centering on God, the Giver. Our goal must be to live for God’s mercy and within God’s peace.
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The post The First Great Theological Battle in the History of the Church appeared first on LogosTalk.
John Calvin’s emphasis was upon certainty. He abhorred the way in which Romanism kept people wondering whether or not they were saved. In his Defense of the Reformed faith, p. 256; Eerdmans, Grand Rapids (1958), he wrote:
Thus nothing is left but constant disquietude, and slow torture, and perplexing doubts, which will wear out the soul not less effectively than open murder.
In speaking of Roman confession, he also said,
The Apostles did not discharge their office of binding and loosing by hearing Confessions, but by preaching the gospel . . . And the reason why they strongly urge Confession is, because they wish to make the world obsequious to them, and to hold it in subjection . . . yet to color Confession, and hold it forth as a thing necessary to salvation, is neither expedient nor lawful. Conscience cannot be squeezed by the chains of such laws, without being strangled. (Ibid., p. 257, 258).
He was concerned about poor, wretched people, deluded by the traditions of men, who were enslaved to a system purporting to be Christian, but in reality, anything but.
There is salvation neither in works of penitence, nor in any other ceremony or human action. Salvation—with the assurance it brings—is in Christ alone. It is because by His death and resurrection He satisfied God once for all, that those who believe can have assurance of salvation. In what are you trusting—that which brings certainty or that which brings confusion and terror?