Monday, July 24, 2006

How Were Old Testament People "Saved”?

In this post, and comments, and perhaps series of posts, I will be asking a lot of probing questions. I want to show how and explore if we have truly thought out this issue fully, and not simply dismissed it with cliché and platitudes. This issue brings up so much, and it is entirely relevant for today, as we will see when we progress into what I hope will be the fruitful discussion on this matter. What did they have to do at the moment to be saved?

Let me state clearly that I have ideas that I will be putting forth, but not at first. Perhaps they will develop in the comments to this post, but I want to stimulate discussion, and see where people are coming from. Many have heard that looking forward to a redeemer, which is and was Christ, saved OT saints, and looking back at what He did saves NT saints.

Perhaps many will agree with that, yes, but more detail is what we are looking for. What I mean to say is don’t simply parrot out the lines you have heard, as if we haven’t heard or considered them before, without explanation, and hopefully exegesis. Tell us what you believe based on the biblical record, don’t just try and be a smart guy. Please don’t condescend to others with different opinions, especially with an “of course” sort of attitude. That isn’t wanted here.

Okay. Just as we look back in history to Christ's sacrifice for our sins on the cross, Old Testament believers looked forward to His sacrifice for them. Jesus fulfills the OT types and shadows, but come now; do we really think that they understood all this? That they understood a man would die on a cross for their sins? If so, why didn’t they recognize this when Christ was on earth? Why were they looking for a Messiah who would give them an earthly kingdom?

Some believe that Old Testament saints were saved by keeping the Law, or at least by trying to and not going after other gods. This to them is what constituted faith. Others believe that they were saved by grace through faith, but how was this manifested? By grace, through faith, on account of Christ alone: yes, but by grace through faith in what, God? And what did they believe about God that saved them? And did God do something forensic, or what, to those that believed?

By faith, yes, but what was the content, the focus of faith, God? Certainly not Jesus Christ revealed, as we know Him, correct? What then does this say of others today who never hear of Christ? The questions this brings up are many, varied, and important as well.

Too many times I hear simplistic, and I believe cop out answers like, “if they follow the light they have, God will give them more light”, or this might even lead to “people not having to believe in Jesus but be saved by His work anyway” like C.S. Lewis and others claim.

Things and verses to think about and discuss:

Salvation – David in Psalms, and statements like, “let the redeemed of the Lord say so”.

John 8:56 – Abraham saw Jesus? Then what about Luke 10:24 / 1 Peter 1:12?

Hebrews 11:26 – Moses foresaw Christ?

1 Peter 1:11 – did the Holy Spirit indwell OT believers? John Piper believes so.

Let’s get to it…

147 comments:

Even So... said...

Sola Fide, or "faith alone", yes, but what about it? Come on, we're waiting...

Exist~Dissolve said...

even so--

As you are aware, I think a compelling philosophical argument can be made about this issue, one which can affirm the necessity of Christ's Incarnation, death and resurrection, while concomitantly maintaining that it is entirely possible for one to be saved without explicit knowledge of the historical person and work of Jesus.

The biggest proof text of this position, of course, is Romans 2:12-16:

All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

As is clear from Paul’s argument, the issue of faith is not information (knowledge of the law), but rather faithfulness to the will of God (chapter 4 of this same book will provide the wonderful example of Abraham’s faith as expressed through faithfulness to the will of God). Paul argues that even though the Jews have knowledge of the law of God, they are still condemned for their disobedience and infidelity to it, while some Gentiles, who are clueless about the same, will be justified for fulfilling it even when they do not know its content. Now obviously, this pericope says nothing explicitly about the question of faith in Jesus, but I think the logic can be extended. After all, this is Paul’s entire plan of argument throughout the next several chapters as he bulldozes the ground of religiosity, revealing that salvation is for the Jew and Gentile alike.

As I am a little short of time, I will stop with the development of this idea for now. Besides, hopefully conversation and discussion can bring up the issues I wish to address in a more meaningful and interactive way. However, before I bring this response to a close, let me make a few comments on the verses suggested in the original post. Perhaps they will further stir up discussion.

John 8:56: “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”

There is no textual evidence to suggest that Abraham had any explicit foreknowledge of the historical person and work of Jesus. Therefore, we are forced, textually, to define what Jesus means by “the thought of seeing my day.” As the writer of Hebrews notes, Abraham died in faith believing that God would fulfill the promises made to Abraham, even though Abraham never saw its culmination. Therefore, the “day” of which Jesus speaks would seem to be the fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham. In this way, Jesus is making commentary on the promises made to Abraham, claiming that the promises to which Abraham looked forward are fulfilled in his person and ministry.

Luke 10:24: “For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

Again, the textual evidence leads us to the conclusion that these people did not see that which they “wanted” to see. Therefore, we must once again assert that Jesus is making commentary, showing that he is the culmination of the hope of Israel–hope need not a precisely defined object in order to be a forward-looking hope.

I Peter 1:12: “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.”

The object of revelation in this passage is not the person and work of Jesus, but rather the fact that the ministry in which these people were engaged was eschatologically focused. In verses 10-11, it is the Spirit of Christ within them, not their personal knowledge, that forms the hope of the future.

Hebrews 11:26: “He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”

If this is exegeted in an intellectually honest way, I would assert that the equating of Moses’ circumstances with the “sake of Christ” is a anachronistic commentary on the ministry of Moses in preparing the people of Israel for the eventual revelation of God in Christ. Far from being improper, however, the author of this passage makes a very serious claim about the nature of Christ’s ministry. After all, if we can consider Moses’ suffering “for the sake of Christ” (even though Moses had no explicit knowledge of Christ), this means that the ministry of Christ is an historically transcendent and immediate reality. While the Incarnation and cross are certainly the “center point” of human history, the implications are historically retroactive and proactive. If Moses, like post-resurrection people, can be considered to have suffered “for the sake of Christ,” then we must conclude that to participate in Christ is something with much deeper implications and meanings than simply having knowledge of the historical person and work of Jesus. If Moses, who knew nothing of the person and work of Christ, can still be considered to have lived “for the sake of Christ,” we must readjust the criterion by which we qualify being included in Christ.

Even So... said...

exist,

Nice, now we are already getting somewhere....

Anyone want to interact with what has been said here?

Questions?

Is he right?

Let's go...

Chris said...

Ya'll are killin me!! I had to spend 10 minutes in the dictionary! :)

Aren't you guys saying the same thing....in a different way?

Even So... said...

Not quite, I haven't said anything yet...

Stay with us, it may take a while to get going, but once it does it will be enlightening...

Even So... said...

exist said:
As is clear from Paul’s argument, the issue of faith is not information (knowledge of the law), but rather faithfulness to the will of God (chapter 4 of this same book will provide the wonderful example of Abraham’s faith as expressed through faithfulness to the will of God)

Me:
Ahhh, yes, I would agree, faith is not bare mental assent.

Faith alone is not faith alone
Salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone, but "faith alone" is not "belief alone."

There is a traditional threefold definition of faith as

1.Notitia (understanding – knowledge)
2.Assensus (assent – belief)
3.Fiducia (trust - faithfulness).

Also there are things that accompany a saving faith, fruits that bear witness to a saving faith, etc.

So faith, yes, faith is what saves, in so much as it is the instrument God uses in order for us to receive grace. Grace through faith, it is plain to me, this is what salvation is in both Old and New Testaments.

So exist is on target there. What about the conclusions he draws hence? What is/was the content of faith, both now and then?

I am going to be very patient here...this thread will have excellent shelf life if we continue on as I plan.

To those watching, stay tuned...

To those waiting to respond, get it together...

To those wondering, ask questions, it is more than okay, it is what we all want here...

To those willing, invite others to come over, and to comment...

To those wishing I would stop al-liter-ating all over the place, oh well, guess you will have to help me clean up...

Chris said...

"So faith, yes, faith is what saves, in so much as it is the instrument God uses in order for us to receive grace. Grace through faith, it is plain to me, this is what salvation is in both Old and New Testaments.

So exist is on target there. What about the conclusions he draws hence? What is/was the content of faith, both now and then?"



OK, this "content" thing is where I think I am losing the two of you. It appears that you're saying pretty much the same thing but then I get lost when you're talking about "how" or "when" salvation takes place...........however I am staying tuned. Go slow you two, OK??

Even So.......I kinda like your al-liter-ating!

Even So... said...

When I say exist was on target there, I mean just the statement that I quoted back before my response, not necessarily the other parts.

When I speak of the "content" of faith, I mean to say what is it that they had to believe in order to be saved. What was the will of God in this?

I have my answers forthcoming, but what I am looking for is engagemnt with what has already been said, and ideas from others as to what constituted "faith" in the OT.

Even So... said...

Also, just to add to the discussion, what about backsliding? It is mentioned in the OT; is it just referring to the corporate Israel? Or could people have "lost" their salvation, or just exactly to what does this refer.

I know some of you "lurkers" (we want you here) out there are waiting for a good moment to speak out...now is the time

Even So... said...

Another item to think about...

I just read on another blog where this person felt that the Hebrews that were "unregenerate" and condemned to hell were so because they turned to false gods and idols....

Unregenerate? Regeneration in the OT? Hmmmm...What was the Holy Spirit's role in salvation in the OT?

Some of our "heavy hitter" friends have been looking, I have checked, but they haven't come out to "play" yet...

Stay tuned...

Exist~Dissolve said...

What was the Holy Spirit's role in salvation in the OT?

I would say that the Spirit's role was exactly the same as it is today, or at any other time throughout history: illuminating the human heart to respond in faithfulness to the will of God.

stevehall said...

“As is clear from Paul’s argument, the issue of faith is not information (knowledge of the law), but rather faithfulness to the will of God”

ROMANS 10:13 For "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." 14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!" 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?" 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: "Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world." 19 But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says: "I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation, I will move you to anger by a foolish nation."
20 But Isaiah is very bold and says: "I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me." 21 But to Israel he says: "All day long I have stretched out My hands To a disobedient and contrary people."

Exist-dissolve- how do you reconcile your statement above with this passage, in particular “how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”
I say – how can one have faith without “information”?

Exist~Dissolve said...

steve--

Exist-dissolve- how do you reconcile your statement above with this passage, in particular “how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”
I say – how can one have faith without “information”?


I am not saying that faith is informationless. All I am saying is that there is a not a precise data set of information that one has to mentally comprehend in order to be justified of God. Rather, God is pleased with a faithful heart, with hands that do justice and lips that speak truth. In a mysterious way, the revelation of God in Christ is the content of these, even if they don't conform specifically to a Incarnation-data-set of information.

Concerning the verses you have quoted, we should first pay attention to the context in which it is written. Here, Paul is not occupied particularly with describing the content of what one must believe in order to be saved. Rather, in keeping with the polemic against the programme of the Judaizers which began all the way back in chapter 3, Paul is showing rhetorically how salvation is just as legitimate to the Gentile as it is to the Jew. He stretches the rhetoric to the breaking point, actually, in boldly proclaiming that the information which the Jews believed would save them (the content of the law) is not salvific knowledge at all, and it is rather the "foolish" nations that will inherit the promises of salvation revealed in Christ.

BugBlaster said...

Hebrews 11:26 - I agree with you e-d that this description sounds anachronistic, but perhaps not so much as you might think. I vehemently disagree with your development from Hebrews 11:26 of the notion that explicit knowledge of Christ may not be needed for salvation today. Two problems with that development:

1) Christ is God. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. To see Christ is to see the Father. The writer of Hebrews may simply have been using "Christ" in its meaning as God. Moses considered the reproach of God to be greater riches. No anachronism in this light, and no grounds for your development.

2) Moses may very well have understood much more about the incarnation and work of Christ than the Bible makes clear. For example, we know from Stephen's sermon in Acts 7 that 40 years before the burning bush, Moses already knew (or thought, and correctly as it turns out) that God had chosen him as a deliverer for Israel. If we believe Acts 7 to be a faithful recounting (and I do), then we must conclude that Exodus doesn't tell us everything that happened to or was said to Moses.
Another example, we know from Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers that God spoke directly to Moses, with words as one man speaks to another (Deut 34:10). Shoot, Moses was on Sinai alone with God for 40 days and nights. It would be too much to assume that everything God said to Moses was written down. And who is God? Christ is God. Why would we assume that the pre-incarnate Son would not have talked directly with Moses during this time? Or that God would not have revealed a great part of the redemption plan to Moses? In short, Moses may have known all about the coming Messiah. Of course it would be purely speculating to assume that he did, except for the existence of Hebrews 11:26.

stevehall said...

exist~dissolve-

thanks for your response.

“God is pleased with a faithful heart, with hands that do justice and lips that speak truth”

I would agree 100% with this statement, but many are destined for Hell for not receiving the full truth (information) they have been given.

ACTS 18:24 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more completely.
19:1 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" So they said to him, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." 3 And he said to them, "Into what then were you baptized?" So they said, "Into John's baptism." 4 Then Paul said, "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus." 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

This man Apollos demonstrated the nature of one truly devoted to worshipping God “in spirit & in truth.” He did not, initially, have complete knowledge of the kingdom of God, but as he heard, he received, upon reception, he demonstrated (he spoke “boldly in the synagogue”). In contrast, 90% of the lepers cleansed in Luke 17 did not “see” the Glory of Jesus (on that day, at least), despite the evidence being made manifest within their own flesh. They likewise demonstrated their true nature, for upon seeing the substantiation of the Christ, they continued on their way, instead of The Way.

Even So... said...

Thanks everyone, this is getting good, as I hoped it would.

I will indeed be addressing it all, well, as much as I can...

I am going to leave this post up for this whole week, it is that important, what, with all the side issues and tangential items that are necessarily attached to this discussion.

Buggy, I would love to see Matt over here...

Steve, glad to see you fully engaged.

Be praying, folks, we are still just getting started...

stevehall said...

To conclude, it must be stated the one who has “explicit knowledge of the historical person and work of Jesus” without respondence to same cannot have “a faithful heart,” “hands that do justice and lips that speak truth.”

Mike Y said...

Okay, my turn to chime in, I guess.

And I think I see where exist is coming from on this. Let me provide two illustrations of information-- gone wrong and gone right:

1) If you examine the Hebrew language, you'll find it to be a system of all consonants and no vowels. So, did the Israelite's know the word of God? How did they even read it?

They had to memorize scripture so that they could preserve the context of any given passage. Without such verbatim memorization, one could discern whether br was bar, bear, boar, etc.

Having said that, this memorization of the word of God was by no means sufficient to save any of the Israelites by itself. The missing component is faith.

2) Recall when Christ asked the disciples who men said he was? Who answered correctly? It was Peter. He proclaimed Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the Living God. And do you recall what Christ said to him? Verily I say unto you, flesh and blood hath not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven hath revealed it to you.

Why is this significant? Well, regardless of OT or NT era, man is rather depraved and incapable of understanding spiritual truth. Hence he is incapable of turning away from false ways unto God's ways. This is very clear in 1Cor 2:14.

Just as God had to invade the life of Abraham, he had to do the same and impart faith and understanding unto such OT saints. The mechanism was the same then as it is now for us. The only difference is the subsequent indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer. Now this does not imply that an OT saint could lose his salvation. Just as God brought about the ability to believe in the first place, he also keeps them as well.

Okay, let's see how far that gets us.

Exist~Dissolve said...

bugblaster-- (great name!)

Hebrews 11:26 - I agree with you e-d that this description sounds anachronistic, but perhaps not so much as you might think. I vehemently disagree with your development from Hebrews 11:26 of the notion that explicit knowledge of Christ may not be needed for salvation today. Two problems with that development:

1) Christ is God. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. To see Christ is to see the Father. The writer of Hebrews may simply have been using "Christ" in its meaning as God. Moses considered the reproach of God to be greater riches. No anachronism in this light, and no grounds for your development.


Actually, this is not a "problem," per se, for my argument. My entire point proceeds from the understanding that Christ, the eternal Logos of God (through whom all things were made and without whom nothing was made), suffuses all of creation. This is not simply "natural revelation" as often characterized, but is rather the supernatural self-revelation of God in the very act of creating (something that is still occurring). Therefore, as we are speaking in this regard about divine revelation that transcends yet intersects every point/moment of space/time, any salvation of which we speak is necessarily referential to this eternality of Christ as the Logos and salvation of God, regardless of the point/moment phenomenological manifestation of Incarnation in the historical person of Jesus. The Incarnation is absolutely necessary, of course, but the placement of individuals on either space/time "side" of the Incarnation is irrelevant to the fact that salvation is through Christ. Therefore, if this conclusion is accurate, we must be cautious in how we speak of salvific knowledge of Christ, being careful not to fully conflate it with knowledge of the historical person of Jesus lest we marginalize well over half of human history. It is a very nuanced differentiation to be sure, but it is a necessary one (the implications of which can be perhaps more easily seen in discussions about the "gender" of Christ verses the "gender" of Jesus).

2) Moses may very well have understood much more about the incarnation and work of Christ than the Bible makes clear. For example, we know from Stephen's sermon in Acts 7 that 40 years before the burning bush, Moses already knew (or thought, and correctly as it turns out) that God had chosen him as a deliverer for Israel. If we believe Acts 7 to be a faithful recounting (and I do), then we must conclude that Exodus doesn't tell us everything that happened to or was said to Moses.

I think we can definitively say that Moses did not understand anything about the Incarnation of Christ, the eternal Logos of God. If he had, it would stand to reason that being as this would be of fundamental importance for the Israelites' understanding of God, he would have recorded something about it in what he wrote/taught (assuming, of course, that the Pentateuch contains the teachings/writings of the historical Moses).

Another example, we know from Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers that God spoke directly to Moses, with words as one man speaks to another (Deut 34:10). Shoot, Moses was on Sinai alone with God for 40 days and nights. It would be too much to assume that everything God said to Moses was written down. And who is God? Christ is God. Why would we assume that the pre-incarnate Son would not have talked directly with Moses during this time? Or that God would not have revealed a great part of the redemption plan to Moses? In short, Moses may have known all about the coming Messiah. Of course it would be purely speculating to assume that he did, except for the existence of Hebrews 11:26.

Obviously the fulness of the conversations between God and Moses were not written down. However, given the utter importance of "information" about Christ, the eternal Logos of God, it would seem that this would be crucial information to pass on to a people who were already quite confused about this Yahweh whom they were following because of Moses.

Because of this, I think it is an accurate assumption that the Hebrews 11:26 text should be interpreted as an anachronistic commentary on Moses' faithfulness to God, as well as an insight into the Christian belief about the eternality of the work of Christ, the eternal Logos of God, which was manifest in the person of Jesus.

Exist~Dissolve said...

steve--

I would agree 100% with this statement, but many are destined for Hell for not receiving the full truth (information) they have been given.

I don't think we are in disagreement. I fully believe that those who reject the truth of God will realize the separation from God that they desire. However, I also believe that all who seek God will find God, even if they don't have the benefit of ever having heard about the historical person and work of God in Jesus.

ACTS 18:24 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more completely.
19:1 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" So they said to him, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." 3 And he said to them, "Into what then were you baptized?" So they said, "Into John's baptism." 4 Then Paul said, "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus." 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

This man Apollos demonstrated the nature of one truly devoted to worshipping God “in spirit & in truth.” He did not, initially, have complete knowledge of the kingdom of God, but as he heard, he received, upon reception, he demonstrated (he spoke “boldly in the synagogue”). In contrast, 90% of the lepers cleansed in Luke 17 did not “see” the Glory of Jesus (on that day, at least), despite the evidence being made manifest within their own flesh. They likewise demonstrated their true nature, for upon seeing the substantiation of the Christ, they continued on their way, instead of The Way.


Could you explain more fully your intention in quoting the text above, as well as your commentary? Thanks.

Exist~Dissolve said...

Steve--

To conclude, it must be stated the one who has “explicit knowledge of the historical person and work of Jesus” without respondence to same cannot have “a faithful heart,” “hands that do justice and lips that speak truth.”

I agree. However, would you also agree that a person could have these (faithful heart, hands that do justice, lips that speak truth) without explicit knowledge of the historical person and work of Jesus?

Chris said...

Exist,

Are you asking if you can be a "good person" without "knowing" Jesus?

Exist~Dissolve said...

chris--

Are you asking if you can be a "good person" without "knowing" Jesus?

No. I am asking if a person could have these (faithful heart, hands that do justice, lips that speak truth) without explicit knowledge of the historical person and work of Jesus?

Chris said...

Exist -

I guess it's that "words mean things" again. A faithful heart..... Faithful to what or whom? Hands that do justice...."whose" justice? Lips that speak truth...."whose" truth? Don't we have to "know" the entity or person we are "representing"?

Gummby said...

Our church is going through Hebrews as we speak; if you're interested, here are the audio sermons. Of particular interest (and much less controversial than some of the other parts, trust me) will be the sermons on Heb 11. Our pastor makes the case that these men where faithful to the revelation they had received, and the promise of Messiah (which occurs all the way back in Gen 3).

I don't have time now to develop this fully, so I'll have to leave it with this: Christ himself told two of his disciples that the OT testified about him. It prepared us for the time when he was to come. OT believers are saved the same as NT believers are--through faith, although their level of faith would obviously vary based on revelation.

That said, in the New Testament era, I don't think there exists any longer any ambiguity about how people are saved.

14 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Rom 10:14-17, ESV).

This is just one of many passages (sorry to prooftext), but the New Testment doesn't leave room for people to come to faith apart from coming to Christ.

stevehall said...

“Could you explain more fully your intention in quoting the text above, as well as your commentary?”

It may be a “rabbit trail” departure from the original query of “how were the Old Testament saints saved,” but I felt it necessary to address the issue of how New Testament saints are saved- those that have seen the Glory of Christ. Sometimes those that maintain “that it is entirely possible for one to be saved without explicit knowledge of the historical person and work of Jesus” are seeking another way into Heaven other than “The Way, The Truth, & The Life.” They seek mercy for the proverbial “mountaintop village” who have never heard of Jesus; in fact are craving mercy for their own stubborn heart which has seen, but not acquiesced Christ’s mercy. Based on your responses to myself & bugblaster, it would seem you’re not in this category.

“However, would you also agree that a person could have these (faithful heart, hands that do justice, lips that speak truth) without explicit knowledge of the historical person and work of Jesus?”

ACTS 10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. 3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, "Cornelius!" 4 And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, "What is it, lord?" So he said to him, "Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.

Based on persons such as Cornelius, I would say yes, but one must note what occurred to this individual as he expressed a “faithful heart, hands that (did) justice, lips that (spoke) truth.” God responded by revealing the Gospel of Christ to him.

Getting back to the original question, we must consider not only the means of salvation for the prophets & patriarchs, but the common Hebrew as well. Surely they did not receive supernatural comprehension of the “historical person and work of Jesus,” but even they had the explicit promise of a coming Messiah from these prophets & patriarchs.

Even So... said...

To all:

I realize that when the meta (comments) gets as big as it is here, it can be hard to follow along, not repeat, lose focus or track, etc., but I will keep coming in and setting things in focus from time to time, if I can.

THIS IS AND HAD BEEN VERY PROFITABLE, EVEN FOR THE "BIG BOYS", I HOPE ALL OF YOU SEE THAT.

Now,
It would seem that most of us, actually all of us, are in basic agreement on:

1. It is Christ who saves

2. Faith is the "instrument"

3. People in the OT had to heed the revelation that they already had.

That being said, we are still muddy as to what amount or type of revelation we are talking about...

Did they have a "set story" that they had to believe, or was it an individual thing? If it was individual then what does that say about today?

Exist has tackled this already given his ideas about revelation,

All I am saying is that there is a not a precise data set of information that one has to mentally comprehend in order to be justified of God.

and he has shown to be well thought here. That doesn't mean he is right, but it does merit consideration, which many have taken on, thanks...

Mike Y (thanks for coming over) has given his, which to be honest are basically mine as well, in a sense, in that perseverance and faith being given to us helps clear this up as to how they could believe and remain in the first place.

Exist comes from a different position, in that while he

would say that the Spirit's role was exactly the same as it is today, or at any other time throughout history: illuminating the human heart to respond in faithfulness to the will of God.

his ideas about man and his "free will" might be different than mine or Mike Y.'s

But he has gievn us much to consider, and I thank you, sir...

Matt said some things that indeed point to today, and that we cannot hide behind how it was done then in regards to ourselves...as I said with Katharine Jefferts Schiori, leader of the ECUSA.

I don't have time now to develop this fully, so I'll have to leave it with this: Christ himself told two of his disciples that the OT testified about him. It prepared us for the time when he was to come. OT believers are saved the same as NT believers are--through faith, although their level of faith would obviously vary based on revelation.

That being said, Matt brings me back to that point again, namely what did they have to beleive, and was it an individual thing, or what?

BTW, when someone teaches me how to do a link in the meta and still have the name show as opposed to the site address, then I will be happy to "link" anyone who comes over here and adds to this dialogue. Somebody help me help you out here...

Exist~Dissolve said...

chris--

I guess it's that "words mean things" again. A faithful heart..... Faithful to what or whom? Hands that do justice...."whose" justice? Lips that speak truth...."whose" truth? Don't we have to "know" the entity or person we are "representing"?

Yes, I this is true. However, this goes back to my point about the Logos of God suffusing all of creation. As we each have differing measures of knowledge about the eternal nature of God, so also will our responses to the same.

After all, there is nothing intrinsic to knowing the name of the historical person of Jesus, or of knowing bible stories about him that makes one faithful, just or truthful. Rather, these flow out of a heart that is commited to seeking and doing the will of God. Unfortunately, a lot of people have been deceived into thinking that simply knowing the name of Jesus and saying it in a prayer constitutes saving faith. More unfortunate, however, is that they condemn those who are, in their own contexts, faithful to will of God apart from knowledge about the historical person of Jesus.

Exist~Dissolve said...

matt--

Our pastor makes the case that these men where faithful to the revelation they had received, and the promise of Messiah (which occurs all the way back in Gen 3).

I would tend to agree with this view.

I don't have time now to develop this fully, so I'll have to leave it with this: Christ himself told two of his disciples that the OT testified about him. It prepared us for the time when he was to come. OT believers are saved the same as NT believers are--through faith, although their level of faith would obviously vary based on revelation.

I agree.

That said, in the New Testament era, I don't think there exists any longer any ambiguity about how people are saved.

14 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Rom 10:14-17, ESV).


Earlier in this meta, I discussed a possible response to this verse. If we look at the context, the first thing we should note is that this passage occurs within the context of Paul's continual polemic against the exclusivity of the Judaizers, and Paul pursues a "leveling" of the ground for salvation as justification that occurs not through identification with a particular system and cultus of religious expression and propositional content, but rather through faith.

That being said, I would see this particular pericope functioning as a set of rhetorical questions---after all, Paul immediately answers the questions about "how will they [the nation of Israel] hear" by saying that they have, in fact, heard the message. Yet although they have heard, they have not believed. Therefore, Paul's intention throughout this passage is to show that justification does not come to those who are identified with a particular expression of religious belief (i.e., the Jewish nation), but rather through faithfulness to the will of God (as in the example of Abraham in Romans 4). To Paul, those who are faithful to the will of God have connected with Christ, the expression and self-revelation of God that not only suffuses all of created space/time, but has also become Incarnate in space/time in the person and work of Jesus.

This is just one of many passages (sorry to prooftext), but the New Testment doesn't leave room for people to come to faith apart from coming to Christ.

I agree that none (not even those before the Incarnation) will be saved apart from Christ. However, I would argue that "coming to Christ" need not include specific information about the historical person of Jesus. After all, at what point is this information sufficient? Must one know ALL the stories about Jesus, or only certain ones?

Gummby said...

Here you go: http://www.w3schools.com/html/html_links.asp

Gummby said...

I agree that none (not even those before the Incarnation) will be saved apart from Christ. However, I would argue that "coming to Christ" need not include specific information about the historical person of Jesus. After all, at what point is this information sufficient? Must one know ALL the stories about Jesus, or only certain ones?

How much is enough is a hard one to answer. I've wrestled with it a lot, as I have 5 kids ages 7 and under.

If by "specific information about the historical person of Jesus" you mean that they don't need to know he fed the 5000 men, walked on water, or turned water into wine, I would say that no, none of those things individually is necessary.

If you're saying knowledge of the historical person of Christ isn't necessary, we have a problem, because faith in Christ is anchored in his historical work--specifically that he died, was buried, and raised from the dead, in order that we who are dead might have life.

Exist~Dissolve said...

steve--

It may be a “rabbit trail” departure from the original query of “how were the Old Testament saints saved,” but I felt it necessary to address the issue of how New Testament saints are saved- those that have seen the Glory of Christ. Sometimes those that maintain “that it is entirely possible for one to be saved without explicit knowledge of the historical person and work of Jesus” are seeking another way into Heaven other than “The Way, The Truth, & The Life.” They seek mercy for the proverbial “mountaintop village” who have never heard of Jesus; in fact are craving mercy for their own stubborn heart which has seen, but not acquiesced Christ’s mercy. Based on your responses to myself & bugblaster, it would seem you’re not in this category.

Thanks for the fuller explanation. As you rightly note, I fully affirm that Christ is the way the truth and life, and that no other way to God exists. However, I do not think that this "way" is necessarily dependent upon information about the historical person and work of Jesus. Christ is just as much the "way" for Abraham as he is for you and me, yet Abraham's faith did not have historical information about Jesus as its content. Therefore, this must necessarily qualify the way in which we speak of Christ as the way, the truth and life.

As you rightly note, my interest in advocating this is not based upon a desire to find an "out" for Amazonians or any others like them. However, it is based upon realizing that faithfulness to God is the substance of saving faith, not one's access to information.

ACTS 10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. 3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, "Cornelius!" 4 And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, "What is it, lord?" So he said to him, "Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.

Based on persons such as Cornelius, I would say yes, but one must note what occurred to this individual as he expressed a “faithful heart, hands that (did) justice, lips that (spoke) truth.” God responded by revealing the Gospel of Christ to him.


I agree that God continues to reveal the divine nature and will to those who faithfully seek it. My question is this, though: If Cornelius had never come into contact with the apostle's teaching, do you believe that he would have been justified with God?

Getting back to the original question, we must consider not only the means of salvation for the prophets & patriarchs, but the common Hebrew as well.

I completely agree.

Surely they did not receive supernatural comprehension of the “historical person and work of Jesus,” but even they had the explicit promise of a coming Messiah from these prophets & patriarchs.

Yes, but a "promise of a Messiah" (who turned out to be quite a bit different than what they "hoped" for) is quite a bit different than the kind of data under consideration.

Even So... said...

Thanks

Matt

Buggy

Mike

exist~dissolve

for coming over, lot's more to cover...

I'll be using this new linking knowledge soon in a post, thanks again, Matt

BTW, where's Daniel?


God bless you all...

Exist~Dissolve said...

matt--

How much is enough is a hard one to answer. I've wrestled with it a lot, as I have 5 kids ages 7 and under.

If by "specific information about the historical person of Jesus" you mean that they don't need to know he fed the 5000 men, walked on water, or turned water into wine, I would say that no, none of those things individually is necessary.


Ok.

If you're saying knowledge of the historical person of Christ isn't necessary, we have a problem, because faith in Christ is anchored in his historical work--specifically that he died, was buried, and raised from the dead, in order that we who are dead might have life.

If this is true, how is it possible to say that Abraham, Moses, Elijah etc. are saved?

Gummby said...

That wasn't completely clear. Sorry.

I don't think that the Patriarchs had the same level of revelation that we do, but they were faithful to the promise of Messiah.

Today, however, I think it is a different story. God no longer overlooks the times of ingnorance, as He did in the past, but calls everyone to repent (Acts 17, if my memory serves). His complete revelation has come in the form of his son (Heb 1). So the idea that people can come to faith apart from knowledge of Christ is antithetical to the New Testament (again Heb 1), irrespective of how we say it worked during the OT era.

Now, I would also submit (though this is purely speculation on my part) that anyone who will be faithful to the person of Jesus will have a chance to hear, and that anyone who doesn't hear would not have been faithful even if they had (I think the doctrine of election does this for us).

If God's work is to save sinners;
And if all who He elects will come to faith;
And if faith in Jesus is the means by which He accomplishes this salvation;
Then all who are elect will hear about Jesus, so that they can be saved.

Exist~Dissolve said...

matt--

I don't think that the Patriarchs had the same level of revelation that we do, but they were faithful to the promise of Messiah.

Ok.

Today, however, I think it is a different story. God no longer overlooks the times of ingnorance, as He did in the past, but calls everyone to repent (Acts 17, if my memory serves).

Do you see repentance and knowledge of the historical Jesus as identical, or at least related?

His complete revelation has come in the form of his son (Heb 1). So the idea that people can come to faith apart from knowledge of Christ is antithetical to the New Testament (again Heb 1), irrespective of how we say it worked during the OT era.

I would argue that as the self-revelation of God in Christ has an eternal value to it, and because the Logos of God suffuses all of creation, we cannot divide up how salvation "works" by eras. While the moment of Incarnation is historical, I would advocate that the effects of it are transhistorical, retrospectively and prospectively.

Now, I would also submit (though this is purely speculation on my part) that anyone who will be faithful to the person of Jesus will have a chance to hear, and that anyone who doesn't hear would not have been faithful even if they had (I think the doctrine of election does this for us).

If God's work is to save sinners;
And if all who He elects will come to faith;
And if faith in Jesus is the means by which He accomplishes this salvation;
Then all who are elect will hear about Jesus, so that they can be saved.


Since I do not affirm the Calvinistic or Reformed conceptions of election, I will obviously not agree with you on this. However, I still do not see how the concept of election answers my previous question about Abraham, Moses and Elijah. After all, if God determines from all of eternity those who will hear of the historical person and work of Jesus, why does this same logic not apply to Abraham, Moses and Elijah? According to your arugment in relation to election, we must assume that those who have not heard of Jesus (and this includes Abraham, Moses and Elijah) are damned just like the Amazonians who have not, must we not?

Chris said...

Thanks Exist, I think I'm finally "gettin" what you're saying.

"More unfortunate, however, is that they condemn those who are, in their own contexts, faithful to will of God apart from knowledge about the historical person of Jesus."

May I ask one more question? Would you give me a practical example of a person getting condemned for being faithful apart from knowledge of the historical person of Jesus?

Exist~Dissolve said...

chris--

May I ask one more question? Would you give me a practical example of a person getting condemned for being faithful apart from knowledge of the historical person of Jesus?

By "condemned," I mean more that the Christian community considers them to be condemned by God. Just a clarification...

For an example, let's consider a hypothetical person in India (this one will be a male). Let's assume that this person truly seeks God's will in all that he does; he is a just person, taking up the cause of the widow and the orphan; in all he does, he acts to please God and to serve others and not himself. He clothes the naked, feeds the poor, and comforts the oppressed and imprisoned.

This man lives out his entire life, never hearing the stories about Jesus.

Is he doomed for hell, just because he never heard about the historical person and work of Jesus?

Most evangelicals would say "yes."

What say you, and why?

Gummby said...

I would argue that as the self-revelation of God in Christ has an eternal value to it, and because the Logos of God suffuses all of creation, we cannot divide up how salvation "works" by eras. While the moment of Incarnation is historical, I would advocate that the effects of it are transhistorical, retrospectively and prospectively.

I would agree with this, for the most part. But, the fact remains that Jesus did insert himself at a certain point in the continuum of time, and that certain things did change as a result of his death and resurrection. I'm not dividing it up--God did that. God set up the law, and then fulfilled it. God set up the temple, and then ripped it in two at the time of Jesus' death. And Hebrews 1 is clear that God revealed Himself at various times and ways prior to the coming of Jesus.

More than that, though, I don't think it is "dividing Christ" to say that there was a less clear picture in the OT than the NT.

David, for instance, knew that the Messiah, or Christ, would come from his line. No one prior to David knew that. David accepted this. But did David know that Christ would be Jesus? I don't know, but I'm thinking not, at least not in the same way we do (though maybe he did).

Heb 11:39-40 says "And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect." I think that the whole of Hebrews clearly shows that this "something better" was Jesus.

As for how Moses "endured the reproach of Christ," I can't fully answer, except to say that Scripture affirms that he knew something, and was faithful to that.

But once Jesus came, there was no "looking forward to the fulfillment of the promise." The promise had been fulfilled. So people of today have the complete revelation of God in Jesus, and therefore He is who they must respond to.

If you disagree with this, about the discontinuity of OT/NT eras, etc., I'm interested to hear why. In addition, what rationale would there be (if any) for foreign missions, if everyone will be saved based on their faithfulness? I think Chris's question about faithfulness apart from the knowledge of Jesus is an intersting one, and I look forward to your answer.

(I'm also tempted to ask about how you can really know what Moses knew about Jesus since you don't affirm that he wrote the Pentateuch, but that's probably me just being snarky.)

Finally, I want to go back to an earlier statement you made:
My entire point proceeds from the understanding that Christ, the eternal Logos of God (through whom all things were made and without whom nothing was made), suffuses all of creation. This is not simply "natural revelation" as often characterized, but is rather the supernatural self-revelation of God in the very act of creating (something that is still occurring). Therefore, as we are speaking in this regard about divine revelation that transcends yet intersects every point/moment of space/time, any salvation of which we speak is necessarily referential to this eternality of Christ as the Logos and salvation of God, regardless of the point/moment phenomenological manifestation of Incarnation in the historical person of Jesus. The Incarnation is absolutely necessary, of course, but the placement of individuals on either space/time "side" of the Incarnation is irrelevant to the fact that salvation is through Christ.

Much of what you've said here fits perfectly with a Reformed understanding of election (though I disagree with the degree of revelation for the reasons mentioned above). Since you don't "affirm the Calvinistic or Reformed conceptions of election," what do you believe about election, as it fits in with the statement above?

(Even So, if this gets too far afield, let me know, and we'll take this elsewhere.)

Even So... said...

exist,

good question, but there are good answers to this...

I will "weigh in" later, but before I leave this to others, I will say this

he acts to please God

hmmmm, what god?

does this righteousness (considering Isaiah 64:6) save him, or better yet, make him savable, make him a candidate for God's grace because of what he did?

Did God place this righteousness within him?

Isn't this the case of Mother Theresa, without Jesus?

BTW she said people could get to heaven because of Jesus but without Him...that if they were Buddhists, she wanted them to be "bettter" Buddhists, etc...that to me is worse than wrong, its damning...

I am still counting things up, and I know I keep saying it, but I will be commenting, as well as asking questions to keep it going....

All these peripherals, which are in my opinion necessary, are still pointing to "what saves"?

Keep it up, people are learning and being edified here, and some not in ways they realize yet...

Gummby said...

By "condemned," I mean more that the Christian community considers them to be condemned by God. Just a clarification...

For an example, let's consider a hypothetical person in India (this one will be a male). Let's assume that this person truly seeks God's will in all that he does; he is a just person, taking up the cause of the widow and the orphan; in all he does, he acts to please God and to serve others and not himself. He clothes the naked, feeds the poor, and comforts the oppressed and imprisoned.

This man lives out his entire life, never hearing the stories about Jesus.

Is he doomed for hell, just because he never heard about the historical person and work of Jesus?

Most evangelicals would say "yes."

What say you, and why?


First, let's say clearly (and I hope you'll agree) that everyone stands condemned as a result of sin. That has nothing to do with whether or not they've heard about Jesus.

Second, Exist, why don't we up the ante a bit. Let's make hypothetical guy a Muslim.

He does things that are in his holy book, trying to live the life based on Allah's revelation to him. He may have even heard of Isa, though what he's heard is incorrect (since it is from the Qur'an). Will he be saved?

Even So... said...

Matt,

Please "go there"...

Keep it up, I do want this to go where you are taking it.

As a matter of fact, I guess I can let the "cat out of the box" by saying that this issue, to me, shows the necessity of a Reformed soteriology, among other things. One huge reason for this post to begin with.

People need to be shown how these "nasty" divisive doctrines of grace intersect with the whole of God's revelation, and accordingly, their personal lives.

We have a long way to go, and a circuitous route won't be, it all will lead us to the same questions, and I believe, answers...

To all "sides and opinions": this doesn't mean I have all the answers, or that like some guru, I am leading you down some primrose path of predestination (which you might call perdition, ha ha)

I am open, and willing, big time, to discuss this, it will help us all, I hope, to articulate what we believe, and understand more fully why our theology must be integrated into a whole, and the idea of PREMISE being so important:

show me

I am earnestly praying for us all...

Those of you having a hard time following, keep at it, your diligence will be rewarded, seek God in this (Hebrews 11:6)...

Exist~Dissolve said...

matt–

I would agree with this, for the most part. But, the fact remains that Jesus did insert himself at a certain point in the continuum of time, and that certain things did change as a result of his death and resurrection. I'm not dividing it up--God did that. God set up the law, and then fulfilled it. God set up the temple, and then ripped it in two at the time of Jesus' death. And Hebrews 1 is clear that God revealed Himself at various times and ways prior to the coming of Jesus.

I agree that conceptions of revelation are different on different “sides” of the cross. However, my point is that the content of the self-revelation (Christ as the Logos of God) is the same.

What we must also remember is that the referential points under consideration are the limited contexts of Judaism and Christian faith. The one side of the cross is not “pre-Jesus” history per se, but rather the Mosaic law.

More than that, though, I don't think it is "dividing Christ" to say that there was a less clear picture in the OT than the NT.

Nor do I.

David, for instance, knew that the Messiah, or Christ, would come from his line. No one prior to David knew that. David accepted this. But did David know that Christ would be Jesus? I don't know, but I'm thinking not, at least not in the same way we do (though maybe he did).

Where do you see that David “knew” this?

Heb 11:39-40 says "And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect." I think that the whole of Hebrews clearly shows that this "something better" was Jesus.

I don’t disagree. However, my point is that the Incarnation, far from overturning anything before Jesus, merely corroborates the divine salvation that had been operating in human history. The argument here (in Hebrews 11) seems to be more of an eschatological one, rather than a text that prescribes what the content of faith must be without qualification. Notice that because of the retroactive effect of the Incarnation, the faith of those who had no knowledge of the historical Jesus was, in fact, completed.

But once Jesus came, there was no "looking forward to the fulfillment of the promise." The promise had been fulfilled. So people of today have the complete revelation of God in Jesus, and therefore He is who they must respond to.

I do not necessarily disagree. However, I would ask you exactly who the “people of today” are that have this complete revelation? I would argue that it isn’t strictly a chronologically determined answer.

In addition, what rationale would there be (if any) for foreign missions, if everyone will be saved based on their faithfulness?

Just because there is a potential of one being justified apart from more explicit knowledge of God as revealed in the person and work of Jesus does not mean that it is a wide-spread reality. After all, while Romans 1-2 open the door for such a possibility, the negative conclusions about human nature (the “darkness of the mind”) is a concomitant reality that prevents most from being reconciled to God (those who know of the historical Jesus, as well as those who don’t). Therefore, the imperative for missionary work is still huge, for it is within the theology of the church that one comes to better understand what a life of faithfulness to the will of God looks like.

(I'm also tempted to ask about how you can really know what Moses knew about Jesus since you don't affirm that he wrote the Pentateuch, but that's probably me just being snarky.)

I like snarky!

Finally, I want to go back to an earlier statement you made:
My entire point proceeds from the understanding that Christ, the eternal Logos of God (through whom all things were made and without whom nothing was made), suffuses all of creation. This is not simply "natural revelation" as often characterized, but is rather the supernatural self-revelation of God in the very act of creating (something that is still occurring). Therefore, as we are speaking in this regard about divine revelation that transcends yet intersects every point/moment of space/time, any salvation of which we speak is necessarily referential to this eternality of Christ as the Logos and salvation of God, regardless of the point/moment phenomenological manifestation of Incarnation in the historical person of Jesus. The Incarnation is absolutely necessary, of course, but the placement of individuals on either space/time "side" of the Incarnation is irrelevant to the fact that salvation is through Christ.

Much of what you've said here fits perfectly with a Reformed understanding of election (though I disagree with the degree of revelation for the reasons mentioned above). Since you don't "affirm the Calvinistic or Reformed conceptions of election," what do you believe about election, as it fits in with the statement above?


I take quasi-Bartian stance on election, i.e., that election refers to Christ (the eternal Logos of God) as the “elect” of God through whom all who will be saved, are saved. In relation to what I have said above, I think this fits nicely, for all forms and manifestations of God’s self-revelation have as their necessarily referent Christ, the Logos, the elect of God.

Exist~Dissolve said...

matt--

First, let's say clearly (and I hope you'll agree) that everyone stands condemned as a result of sin. That has nothing to do with whether or not they've heard about Jesus.

Yes, all need to be reconciled to God.

Second, Exist, why don't we up the ante a bit. Let's make hypothetical guy a Muslim.

He does things that are in his holy book, trying to live the life based on Allah's revelation to him. He may have even heard of Isa, though what he's heard is incorrect (since it is from the Qur'an). Will he be saved?


I don't think we've really raised the ante at all. In actuality, you've changed the scenario entirely. The issue I am talking about has nothing to do with devotion to particular religious or philosophical system or the success with which one fulfills the particular rules and/or regulations of its holy books.

Gummby said...

I said: David, for instance, knew that the Messiah, or Christ, would come from his line. No one prior to David knew that. David accepted this. But did David know that Christ would be Jesus? I don't know, but I'm thinking not, at least not in the same way we do (though maybe he did).

Exist said: Where do you see that David “knew” this?

God reveals this to David in 1 Chron 17. David also speaks about this in Psalm 110:1, which Jesus quotes here in Luke 20:41-44:

41 But he said to them, “How can they say that the Christ is David's son? 42 For David himself says in the Book of Psalms,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit at my right hand,
43 until I make your enemies your footstool.’

44 David thus calls him Lord, so how is he his son?”


David knew some, but not all, of what the Messiah would be.


Just because there is a potential of one being justified apart from more explicit knowledge of God as revealed in the person and work of Jesus does not mean that it is a wide-spread reality. After all, while Romans 1-2 open the door for such a possibility, the negative conclusions about human nature (the “darkness of the mind”) is a concomitant reality that prevents most from being reconciled to God (those who know of the historical Jesus, as well as those who don’t). Therefore, the imperative for missionary work is still huge, for it is within the theology of the church that one comes to better understand what a life of faithfulness to the will of God looks like.


Woah. You think Rom 1-2 allows for justification apart from Jesus? Maybe we should explore this further, but I don't think you can get there from here. I don't see how Romans 1 talks about any ability of man, only man's nature (consistent with other statements throughout Scripture) that he is totally opposed to God.

[As an aside, Romans 3:25b-26 also alludes to what I was saying before--in times past, God passed over former sins, and at the present time (Paul's day), He was just and the justifier.]

I don't think we've really raised the ante at all. In actuality, you've changed the scenario entirely. The issue I am talking about has nothing to do with devotion to particular religious or philosophical system or the success with which one fulfills the particular rules and/or regulations of its holy books.

How have I changed it? Let's go back to what you said:

For an example, let's consider a hypothetical person in India (this one will be a male). Let's assume that this person truly seeks God's will in all that he does;

This person has some concept of God. Where does it come from? Since India is primarily Hindu, would you say this man is?

he is a just person, taking up the cause of the widow and the orphan; in all he does, he acts to please God and to serve others and not himself. He clothes the naked, feeds the poor, and comforts the oppressed and imprisoned.

This man lives out his entire life, never hearing the stories about Jesus.


Again, you're assuming that he is acting morally, but without any religious context. But everyone has some concept of God. And you've certainly made the case that he is living faithfully by doing works, even though you haven't specified how he knows to do these good works.

If you're going to make the case that your Indian guy, or the tribesman from deepest Africa, or even the Buddhist that I'm currently talking to on my blog, can be saved by knowledge of God apart from explicit knowledge of Christ, then I think we must explore the nature of that knowledge--what it is and where it comes from.

Exist~Dissolve said...

even so--

hmmmm, what god?

Good question. I would ask the same of most "Christians" in the West.

does this righteousness (considering Isaiah 64:6) save him, or better yet, make him savable, make him a candidate for God's grace because of what he did?

In light of 64:5, I would say the possibility is definitely out there. I would also definitely look at 64:6 in light of the context--Isaiah is deriding ISRAEL for forsaking Yahweh, believing that their affiliation with the Mosaic Law somehow acheived righteousness for them.

Did God place this righteousness within him?

"Place" it within him? I didn't know that righteousness was a substance that could be transferred to people.

Isn't this the case of Mother Theresa, without Jesus?

BTW she said people could get to heaven because of Jesus but without Him...that if they were Buddhists, she wanted them to be "bettter" Buddhists, etc...that to me is worse than wrong, its damning...


Well, this definitely depends upon how one looks at the issue. Mother Teresa looked a lot more like Jesus than most people in history. The fact that she so closely followed in Jesus' footsteps should at least cause us to consider her voice in relation to this issue.

Even So... said...

Matt said,
If you're going to make the case that your Indian guy, or the tribesman from deepest Africa, or even the Buddhist that I'm currently talking to on my blog, can be saved by knowledge of God apart from explicit knowledge of Christ, then I think we must explore the nature of that knowledge--what it is and where it comes from.

Now we are really getting it going...

exist said,
"Place" it within him? I didn't know that righteousness was a substance that could be transferred to people.

Yeah, I get the error in semantics, or category, but you understand what I mean, don't you? Are those "righteous" deeds caused by God or are they independent and resident within man, or are we travelling down a panentheistic path?

If God is the cause of a man's righteousness, is it this righteousness that saves him? Or is it on account of something outside him, is it forensic, federal, or what?

I realize these are heady topics for some, me included, but this is an excellent introduction to them and to the idea of why theology is important, very important...

I will get to these, and what has been posted by Exist and Matt does indeed touch on these things.

Missions, proclamation, doctrine, devotional life, etc., etc.,

See, I told you this was important....

BugBlaster said...

exist~dissolve,
Thanks! The name is merely reflective of my deathly fear of bees due to an unfortunate childhood incident that I don't care to discuss...

Your name is also quite interesting. Makes me think of quantum foam.:)

On your response to my first point, do you really think the writer of Hebrews 11:26 had all that in mind? I don't. Hebrews 11 is a staccato recounting of the heroes of the faith leading to the crescendo in Hebrews 12 of running the complete race following the example that Jesus the Christ set for us. Hebrews 11 is the set up for the exhortation and encouragement to believers in the historical Christ in Hebrews 12. Your response disembodies Hebrews 11:26 from its purpose and context.

On the response to my second point,
It doesn't follow that Moses would have recorded information about the future incarnation of Christ had he actually known it, because we know that both Daniel and John were explicitly instructed not to record certain things that God had revealed to them. Not all revelation given to individuals was for recording in the canon.

I'm not arguing that Moses knew all about the incarnation of Christ. I really don't know. But I am arguing that you are incorrectly interpreting the absence of such indication as proof that he did not know. That logic is fallacious.

Thus, I am arguing that using Hebrews 11:26 as a supporting pillar of your argument that people of today do not need to know about Christ to be saved is fallacious.

You may have other supporting pillars. But this one is cracked.

BugBlaster said...

even-so, Daniel is in Winnipeg. :)

Even So... said...

You Canadians think your funny, eh?

I gotta go teach the Wednesday night group, working through Philippians, its great...

See 'ya after church....

Exist~Dissolve said...

matt--

God reveals this to David in 1 Chron 17.

I don't see that 1 Chronicles 17 provides proof for David "knowing" that the Messiah would come from his line.

David also speaks about this in Psalm 110:1, which Jesus quotes here in Luke 20:41-44:

41 But he said to them, “How can they say that the Christ is David's son? 42 For David himself says in the Book of Psalms,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit at my right hand,
43 until I make your enemies your footstool.’

44 David thus calls him Lord, so how is he his son?”

David knew some, but not all, of what the Messiah would be.


That David (or whoever wrote this Psalm) understood this "Lord" to be the Messiah is quite questionable. That Jesus provides commentary in this direction does not substantiate the understanding of David on this issue.

Woah. You think Rom 1-2 allows for justification apart from Jesus?

I never said that I thought justification was apart from "Jesus" (which I understand as Christ, the eternal Logos of God). All I have said is that justification is possible apart from knowledge of the historical person and work of Jesus.

Maybe we should explore this further, but I don't think you can get there from here. I don't see how Romans 1 talks about any ability of man, only man's nature (consistent with other statements throughout Scripture) that he is totally opposed to God.

Romans 1 alludes to the suffusing of the Logos in creation which I have mentioned several times, and 2 speaks about the justification of the Gentiles by "doing the things required of the law." Clearly Paul sees that justification is not exclusively linked to possession of certain data sets.

[As an aside, Romans 3:25b-26 also alludes to what I was saying before--in times past, God passed over former sins, and at the present time (Paul's day), He was just and the justifier.]

Well, that depends upon how one interprets this passage. As I would interpret it, this passage speaks about how the Incarnation of Christ reveals that God was justified in justifying humans apart from the law (which would go back to supporting my claims). It was on the basis of the eternal self-revelation of GOd in Christ, the Logos, that they were justified, not association with the Jewish system of religion.

How have I changed it? Let's go back to what you said:

This person has some concept of God. Where does it come from? Since India is primarily Hindu, would you say this man is?


No. My hypothetical is not considering the influence of a certain religion.

Again, you're assuming that he is acting morally, but without any religious context.

I have said nothing about "moral" acts. All I have described is what the man has done. The assignment of "morality" to them is based upon your assessment, not my assumptions.

But everyone has some concept of God.

And where would you locate the cause of this fact? If everyone does have a concept of God, then it would seem to support the notion that all could come to a certain knowledge of this God's will and live accordingly.

And you've certainly made the case that he is living faithfully by doing works, even though you haven't specified how he knows to do these good works.

I have never said these things are "good works." Your raising of this issue is based upon theological assumptions about human actions, not the intrinsic nature of the same.

If you're going to make the case that your Indian guy, or the tribesman from deepest Africa, or even the Buddhist that I'm currently talking to on my blog, can be saved by knowledge of God apart from explicit knowledge of Christ, then I think we must explore the nature of that knowledge--what it is and where it comes from.

Let us do that.

Exist~Dissolve said...

even so--

Yeah, I get the error in semantics, or category, but you understand what I mean, don't you? Are those "righteous" deeds caused by God or are they independent and resident within man, or are we travelling down a panentheistic path?

I normally attempt to avoid characterizing the work of the infinite, eternal God by causality, and will continue with this approach herein. I do not, however, believe that "righteousness" is inherent to the human person. Rather, I think there is a mysterious interplay between the imperfect, finite will of the human person and the infinite, perfect will of God. Nothing that we do is "independant" of God, for it is in God that we "live, move and have our being." On the other hand, I do not believe that God's will compels any certain behavior from the human person.

If God is the cause of a man's righteousness, is it this righteousness that saves him? Or is it on account of something outside him, is it forensic, federal, or what?

I still think you are thinking of righteousness in terms of "substance." I view it in terms of relationship. We are righteous as we are in proper relationship with God. How do we live in proper relationship to God? By being faithful to the will of God.

Exist~Dissolve said...

bugs--

Thanks! The name is merely reflective of my deathly fear of bees due to an unfortunate childhood incident that I don't care to discuss...

Ah! I had a wasp incident in my childhood that I will never forget...!

Your name is also quite interesting. Makes me think of quantum foam.:)

Interestingly enough, the background image of my original blogsite was quantum foam...creepy..

On your response to my first point, do you really think the writer of Hebrews 11:26 had all that in mind? I don't. Hebrews 11 is a staccato recounting of the heroes of the faith leading to the crescendo in Hebrews 12 of running the complete race following the example that Jesus the Christ set for us. Hebrews 11 is the set up for the exhortation and encouragement to believers in the historical Christ in Hebrews 12. Your response disembodies Hebrews 11:26 from its purpose and context.

Well, that depends upon what the audiences understanding of CHrist as the Logos of God was. In light of the Hebrews writer's comments in the first couple of chapters concerning the nature of Christ, the writer may very well have had this concept in mind.

On the response to my second point,
It doesn't follow that Moses would have recorded information about the future incarnation of Christ had he actually known it, because we know that both Daniel and John were explicitly instructed not to record certain things that God had revealed to them. Not all revelation given to individuals was for recording in the canon.

I'm not arguing that Moses knew all about the incarnation of Christ. I really don't know. But I am arguing that you are incorrectly interpreting the absence of such indication as proof that he did not know. That logic is fallacious.

Thus, I am arguing that using Hebrews 11:26 as a supporting pillar of your argument that people of today do not need to know about Christ to be saved is fallacious.

You may have other supporting pillars. But this one is cracked.


Again, I have never said that one does not need to know about "Christ." Rather, my contention is that salvation is not necessarily predicated upon having explicit information about the historical life of Jesus. There is a subtle, yet necessary distinction at play here.

Even So... said...

Okay, I'm back....

exist,

If righteousness isn't a substance (it isn't, it is more like a quality) then what of righteousness, in the sense of, what does it entail?

Let me be more specific; how are we to view the righteousness that saves us, as inherent in us, or is the quality of our faith given by God? hmmm, probably still not clear....

Is our righteous standing before God and His declaration of it based upon our being in Christ, or is it that righteousness that is because of an infused grace in us?

Well, let me put it this way...

Imparted or imputed?

Or is it even that (imparted)? Are you saying, or do you believe that a man can act righteous, enough to be saved, apart from some sort of infused grace? I would not even go there as far as an infused grace saving us, that's what Rome teaches, but where are you on this?

It will be relavant to the discussion, and point out why you would hold to the conclusions you do. I am not one who thinks you are inconsistent, I think you are based on your premises, but in order to go places it would help to know what they are...

Thanks...

Anonymous said...

Exist--

Again, I have never said that one does not need to know about "Christ." Rather, my contention is that salvation is not necessarily predicated upon having explicit information about the historical life of Jesus. There is a subtle, yet necessary distinction at play here.


Could you explain. I don't understand how one could "know Christ" without knowing that Christ lived, died and was resurrected for us and our sins. Wouldn't having a salvific knowledge of Christ require this information?
I could say that I know you because I've read some of your writings, maybe visited your blog but I don't really know you. That would require more information.

Gummby said...

New Tag, same old me.

Exist said: My hypothetical is not considering the influence of a certain religion.

If we're going to talk about the concept of God, and if the particular question we're trying to answer is how much information is enough to be saved, surely we must know something about this fellow's conception of God.

I have said nothing about "moral" acts. All I have described is what the man has done. The assignment of "morality" to them is based upon your assessment, not my assumptions.

But here's your example: For an example, let's consider a hypothetical person in India (this one will be a male). Let's assume that this person truly seeks God's will in all that he does; he is a just person, taking up the cause of the widow and the orphan; in all he does, he acts to please God and to serve others and not himself. He clothes the naked, feeds the poor, and comforts the oppressed and imprisoned.

Aren't his actions (seeking God's will, taking up the cause of the widow and orphan, acting to please God and not merely himself) moral acts?

Further on, I said: And you've certainly made the case that he is living faithfully by doing works, even though you haven't specified how he knows to do these good works.

And you responded: I have never said these things are "good works." Your raising of this issue is based upon theological assumptions about human actions, not the intrinsic nature of the same.

Perhaps not. Perhaps I am reading too much into it. But if a man is trying to please God, I don't think it is a far stretch to say he is trying to do something good. If you bristle at works, let's call it something else. If you bristle at good, I can only ask what kind of God this man believes in if he tries to please Him, Her, or It with something other than good works.

I said: But everyone has some concept of God.

Exist said: And where would you locate the cause of this fact? If everyone does have a concept of God, then it would seem to support the notion that all could come to a certain knowledge of this God's will and live accordingly.

My support is Romans 1. I'll quote it, because it speaks to my point and yours:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:18-21, ESV)

Yes, men have some idea that God exists. No, they don't live according to their knowledge, because their hearts are wicked and suppress the truth that has been revealed to them. Men don't naturally follow God, apart from God's work in their lives beforehand, bringing their dead hearts back to life.

Again, I have never said that one does not need to know about "Christ." Rather, my contention is that salvation is not necessarily predicated upon having explicit information about the historical life of Jesus. There is a subtle, yet necessary distinction at play here.

I wonder if you could flesh out this distinction: what knowledge of Christ is relevant to salvation, and what knowledge of Jesus is incidental.

In his gospel, John says "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." (John 20:30-31). John thought it was important that folks knew not just of Christ, but that Jesus guy, too.

Finally, if the issue is one of knowledge of the Messiah, as opposed to "devotion to particular religious or philosophical system or the success with which one fulfills the particular rules and/or regulations of its holy books," let's talk about different religions, as it relates to your beliefs.

Who (if any) of these folks could be saved under your scenario of "light they've been given?"
Muslims
Buddhists
Hindus
Mormons
Jehovah's Witnesses
Deists
Atheists

Before you say that I'm dragging you back into the systems debate, understand that I'm asking on the level of knowledge about God. All of these folks have a different conception of God. And if we're going to say that our conception of God doesn't need to match the Bible in order for salvation, then we should at least explore the upper limits of our boundaries--what beliefs are too abberrant.

If it helps, you may assume that none of them have ever heard the Gospel (which we desperately need to define, BTW, but I'm too tired to tackle that one right now) explained to them. So, the atheist who lives in China, under a Communist regime, has never heard one word about Jesus, but may still be trying to do those things you mentioned.

Even So... said...

Thanks Gummby (Matt)

That brings the questions into focus once again:

What was the gospel in the OT, and what is it today?

What about the "good news" must they have known, or how much do we need to know?

I really want to tackle this about the OT, although your answers do have bearing on the NT people.

What am I doing up at this hour?

Oh yeah, went to the bathroom, and we are without water...

Even So... said...

Matt said to exist

Who (if any) of these folks could be saved under your scenario of "light they've been given?"
Muslims
Buddhists
Hindus
Mormons
Jehovah's Witnesses
Deists
Atheists


My answer would be

None....

Exist~Dissolve said...

gumby--

If we're going to talk about the concept of God, and if the particular question we're trying to answer is how much information is enough to be saved, surely we must know something about this fellow's conception of God.

I have no problem with discussing the man's conception of God. However, I see no reason why we must begin from the basis of an organized religious system.

But here's your example: For an example, let's consider a hypothetical person in India (this one will be a male). Let's assume that this person truly seeks God's will in all that he does; he is a just person, taking up the cause of the widow and the orphan; in all he does, he acts to please God and to serve others and not himself. He clothes the naked, feeds the poor, and comforts the oppressed and imprisoned.

Aren't his actions (seeking God's will, taking up the cause of the widow and orphan, acting to please God and not merely himself) moral acts?


In a technical, philosophical sense, all actions are "moral." However, the way in which you used it in your last post seemed to indicate that you were using the term "moral" to mean "good" or "positively" ethical. If you meant it in the former sense, I apologize for the misinterpretation.

Further on, I said: And you've certainly made the case that he is living faithfully by doing works, even though you haven't specified how he knows to do these good works.

And you responded: I have never said these things are "good works." Your raising of this issue is based upon theological assumptions about human actions, not the intrinsic nature of the same.

Perhaps not. Perhaps I am reading too much into it. But if a man is trying to please God, I don't think it is a far stretch to say he is trying to do something good. If you bristle at works, let's call it something else. If you bristle at good, I can only ask what kind of God this man believes in if he tries to please Him, Her, or It with something other than good works.


I guess I just don't understand the necessity of qualifying his actions as "good." When I hear this kind of language--especially given the theological assumptions which you claim--I get the feeling that a strawman is being erected against which a pat theological retort will be directed. The issue under investigation here is not "good works" in the sense of Protestantism's polemics against the same, but rather what constitutes a life of faithfulness to God.

I said: But everyone has some concept of God.

Exist said: And where would you locate the cause of this fact? If everyone does have a concept of God, then it would seem to support the notion that all could come to a certain knowledge of this God's will and live accordingly.

My support is Romans 1. I'll quote it, because it speaks to my point and yours:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:18-21, ESV)

Yes, men have some idea that God exists. No, they don't live according to their knowledge, because their hearts are wicked and suppress the truth that has been revealed to them. Men don't naturally follow God, apart from God's work in their lives beforehand, bringing their dead hearts back to life.


Ok. If this is true, then we must assume that God brought Abraham's "dead heart back to life," as with everyone else who was born after the Incarnation. If this is true, what is the dividing criterion between Abraham and you and me? You might say it is an issue of chronology, yet the problem from which we are (Abraham and us) saved is transchronological.

I wonder if you could flesh out this distinction: what knowledge of Christ is relevant to salvation, and what knowledge of Jesus is incidental.

As I've said several times before, I see a necessary theological distinction between Christ as the eternal Logos of Christ and Jesus as the Incarnation of the Logos. The eternal Logos of God suffuses all of creation, past, present and future, with the self-revelation of God. The Incarnation, on the other hand, is a specific historical reality that is precisely located in space/time. Yet even still, because the eternal Logos of God has become historical in the person and work of Jesus, that which is transhistorical (the suffusing of creation with knowledge of God) is made retroactively historical in the space/time crisis of Incarnation. This is an equalizing of history in the sense that the knowledge of God as historically revealed through Christ in the person of Jesus informs all of history retroactively and prospectively.

What this means, in my understanding, is that a response to the suffused knowledge of God in the Logos, though not containing specific information about the historical life and work of Jesus, is made fully informed by the Incarnation of the Logos by Christ. However, I still thinks this happens today. After all, if the Incarnation of Christ in Jesus is retrospectively revelatory in reference to those who responded to their knowledge of God before the advent, it would logically follow that the Incarnation is prospectively revelatory as well, in reference to those today who respond to their knowledge of God apart from specific knowledge of this historical Jesus.

In his gospel, John says "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." (John 20:30-31). John thought it was important that folks knew not just of Christ, but that Jesus guy, too.

The nature of John's writing is apologetic, in that he is writing to people (presumably within Christian communities) who already have knowledge of the historical person and work of Jesus. I don't think this can be taken as directly applicable to our discussion.

Finally, if the issue is one of knowledge of the Messiah, as opposed to "devotion to particular religious or philosophical system or the success with which one fulfills the particular rules and/or regulations of its holy books," let's talk about different religions, as it relates to your beliefs.

Who (if any) of these folks could be saved under your scenario of "light they've been given?"
Muslims
Buddhists
Hindus
Mormons
Jehovah's Witnesses
Deists
Atheists

Before you say that I'm dragging you back into the systems debate, understand that I'm asking on the level of knowledge about God. All of these folks have a different conception of God. And if we're going to say that our conception of God doesn't need to match the Bible in order for salvation, then we should at least explore the upper limits of our boundaries--what beliefs are too abberrant.


Again, I don't see the direct relevance of this approach to our discussion. I would note, however, that conspicuously absent from this list you have provided is the category of "Christian." If we are going to talk about information within religion, I would suspect that we would have to talk about Christians as well.

That being said, there is no way to reasonably adjudicate between these options, for some of them are more purely religious categories, while others have very direct racial/cultural considerations. Religious systems like Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism tend to be very strongly tied (though not absolutely, of course) to geography, culture, race, etc., while viewpoints such as deism and atheism are more generally the product of the philosophical landscape of particular contexts. JW's and Mormons, moreover, closely mimic Christianity in that they share common stories with Christians while perhaps infusing these stories with different meanings.

So to your question of which of these is in a better position to respond to the knowledge of God, there is no straightfoward answer. Mere exposure to information does not, in my opinion, provide the answer, for those areas of the world that have the most exposure to the content and information of Christian faith are also some of the most unjust, wicked places in the world. At the end of the day, I do not beileve God judges on the basis of information, but rather on the basis of whether or not a person was faithful to the will of God to which they had access. According to this criterion, I think a lot of "Christians" who have all the knowledge about the historical Jesus but have not put it into practice will be shocked that the "heathens" of the world are entering into the kingdom of God ahead of them.

Even So... said...

My point in saying that would be that if "light been given" has been given by God, it would be enough, and thus it brings me back to the doctrines of grace.

My question would be "what is the content of such light in the OT?"

As exist says what constitutes a life of faithfulness to God.

Plenty of fuel left here, folks...

Even So... said...

exist said,

The eternal Logos of God suffuses all of creation, past, present and future, with the self-revelation of God. The Incarnation, on the other hand, is a specific historical reality that is precisely located in space/time. Yet even still, because the eternal Logos of God has become historical in the person and work of Jesus, that which is transhistorical (the suffusing of creation with knowledge of God) is made retroactively historical in the space/time crisis of Incarnation. This is an equalizing of history in the sense that the knowledge of God as historically revealed through Christ in the person of Jesus informs all of history retroactively and prospectively.

well, that does make sense, and it brings me to another question...

exist, do you believe in the eternal sonship of Chirst?

Chris said...

Exist -


"There is a subtle, yet necessary distinction at play here."

Help me would you?.....I don't "do" subtle very well...could you just "spell that out" in "entry-level" learnin' for me? :)


"I take quasi-Bartian stance on election, i.e., that election refers to Christ (the eternal Logos of God) as the “elect” of God through whom all who will be saved, are saved. In relation to what I have said above, I think this fits nicely, for all forms and manifestations of God’s self-revelation have as their necessarily referent Christ, the Logos, the elect of God."

Huh....here again I need help! Can you reword this in another way to help me understand what your saying?

Exist~Dissolve said...

even so--

Sorry, I do not mean to ignore responses. There's a lot of activity in this meta, and it's easy to miss some!

If righteousness isn't a substance (it isn't, it is more like a quality) then what of righteousness, in the sense of, what does it entail?

In my understanding, because righteousness is ultimately a relational concept, righteousness entails proper relationship with God. By relationship, of course, I am not talking about a forensic or legal "relationship," but rather that of interpersonal communion.

Let me be more specific; how are we to view the righteousness that saves us, as inherent in us, or is the quality of our faith given by God? hmmm, probably still not clear....

Is our righteous standing before God and His declaration of it based upon our being in Christ, or is it that righteousness that is because of an infused grace in us?

Well, let me put it this way...

Imparted or imputed?

Or is it even that (imparted)? Are you saying, or do you believe that a man can act righteous, enough to be saved, apart from some sort of infused grace? I would not even go there as far as an infused grace saving us, that's what Rome teaches, but where are you on this?

It will be relavant to the discussion, and point out why you would hold to the conclusions you do. I am not one who thinks you are inconsistent, I think you are based on your premises, but in order to go places it would help to know what they are...


Again, all of the options you have presented to me are based, consciously or not, upon a substantival view of righteousness, as if it is a commodity that can be transferred to persons, or as some kind of essence that a person either "has" or "has not." I reject this conception of righteousness and would alternatively suggest that righteousness is characterized by one's relationship with God. In this way, we are "righteous" not by divine fiat, nor by being aligned or infused with some metaphyiscal substance, but rather by loving God and participating within the divine will.

Even So... said...

Chris,

Karl Barth was a Swiss theologian in the early to mid twentieth century; his dogmatics are still very widely read today...

What he espoused (or at least as presented here by saying quasi-barthian) was a corporate election, i.e., that Christ was the elect, and that people are elected in Him, rather than as individuals. Ephesians 1:4 speaks to this.

Even So... said...

To see a refutation of this idea:

Predestined: Perosnal or Generic?

Even So... said...

Not sure why that link doesn't work, but it is at "calvinist gadfly" under said title...

Exist~Dissolve said...

anonymous--

Could you explain. I don't understand how one could "know Christ" without knowing that Christ lived, died and was resurrected for us and our sins. Wouldn't having a salvific knowledge of Christ require this information?
I could say that I know you because I've read some of your writings, maybe visited your blog but I don't really know you. That would require more information.


The explanation goes back to my discussion about the nature of the suffusion of creation by Christ, the eternal Logos of Christ. Because all things are created "by, for and through" Christ (the Logos of God), the self-revealed knowledge of God is present in all that has been created. Therefore, any knowledge of God, whether or not it has explicit knowledge of the historical person of Jesus as its referent, is inherently knowlede of Christ (but not necessarily knowledge of Jesus, the historical person). This is why I believe it is accurate to say that those before Jesus who responded to knowledge of God were saved in Christ, for their knowledge of God was based upon God's self-revelation in Christ, the Logos of God--who suffuses all of creation with the knowledge of God--even though they had no knowledge of the historical person and work of Christ.

Exist~Dissolve said...

anonymous--

Sorry, there is a typo in the first sentence of my response to you. It should read, "The explanation goes back to my discussion about the nature of the suffusion of creation by Christ, the eternal Logos of God.

Thanks.

Gummby said...

Even So: You've got an extra http:// in there.

Exist~Dissolve said...

even so--

exist, do you believe in the eternal sonship of Chirst?

Precisely in what way are you using the term, "sonship of Christ?"

Exist~Dissolve said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Exist~Dissolve said...

chris--

"There is a subtle, yet necessary distinction at play here."

Help me would you?.....I don't "do" subtle very well...could you just "spell that out" in "entry-level" learnin' for me? :)


Sure. First of all, we have to see a difference between Christ, the eternal Logos of God and Jesus, the Incarnate Christ. After all, in proper trinitarian theology, we would not speak of the created nature (the 100% human part of the orthodox statements) as being eternal, for that would make that which is created concomitant in nature which God (i.e., possessing eternality). Therefore, we must be able to speak, to a certain extent, of the eternal Christ (the Logos of God, the 2nd person of the Trinity) apart from the Incarnation. At the same time, though, this should not create an absolute separation between Christ and Jesus, for to do so would undermine the nature of the Incarnation.

So then, when I speak of the "knowledge of Christ," I see that this has content that does not necessarily refer to the Incarnate Christ as Jesus, while "knowledge of Jesus" would contain information about the historical person of Jesus as well as (potentially, though not necessarily) considerations of the eternality of the Logos Incarnate in Jesus.

The tricky part is that each ultimately informs the other, for the Incarnation is the consummation of the Logos' self-revelation which has suffused all of space/time, while the transhistorical revelation of God in the Logos makes meaningful the Incarnation. It certainly is a subtle distinction, one that is very difficult to consistently maintain (and I am aware that I fail regularly in this regard).

Huh....here again I need help! Can you reword this in another way to help me understand what your saying?

even so has provided a fair representation of Barth's thought. Basically, this viewpoint says that from all of eternity, God has ordained (Barth had a Reformed background) that it would be through Christ that those who would be saved, will be saved. In other words, the election refers not to the identification of those who will be saved, but rather the means by which through they would be saved (i.e., through Christ, the Elect of God). From this perspective, traditional doctrines of Reformed theology such as predestination and foreknowledge are redefined with Christ as the object of predestination, foreknowledge, etc., not the identity of those who are saved through him. For example, take the classic Ephesians 1:4-6:

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 to be adopted as his sons 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.

While most Reformed theologians would point to this as biblical proof for God's eternal identification of those who will be saved, I would point out that Christ is the object of predestination; it is the adoption in Christ that is predestined, not the identity of those who will be adopted.

Anyway, that's a bit about where I am going with that.

Even So... said...

Matt, thanks

here is the corrected link:

Predestined: Personal or Generic?

exist,

Is Christ the Son of God only by His Incarnation?

Gummby said...

Again, all of the options you have presented to me are based, consciously or not, upon a substantival view of righteousness, as if it is a commodity that can be transferred to persons, or as some kind of essence that a person either "has" or "has not." I reject this conception of righteousness and would alternatively suggest that righteousness is characterized by one's relationship with God. In this way, we are "righteous" not by divine fiat, nor by being aligned or infused with some metaphyiscal substance, but rather by loving God and participating within the divine will.

How do you match this up with 1 Cor 5:21? "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

Exist~Dissolve said...

even so--

Is Christ the Son of God only by His Incarnation?

What do you mean by "Son of God"? Are we talking about "Son of God" in an Arian way (Christ as the highest of the created order), according to Origen (eternal "generation" of Christ), or orthodox?

Exist~Dissolve said...

gummby--

How do you match this up with 1 Cor 5:21? "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

What exactly do you mean?

Chris said...

Thanks Exist.....of course you probably know that I'm gonna have to "ponder" this for a while! :)

It does explain some of the current dialogue. I'm just wondering if we can arrive at that unity you referred to earlier......don't we have to have a common understanding of God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit?

You've been very gracious and patient with me......thanks again.

Even So... said...

exist,
just to make sure I give it right, I have cut and pasted some other people's conception (what I would consider orthodox, and basically mine)

from Bible.org
Concerning the eternal Sonship of Christ, Ryrie has this to say:

I agree with Buswell (A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion, pp. 105-12) that generation is not an exegetically based doctrine. The concept it tries to convey, however, is not unscriptural, and certainly the doctrine of sonship is scriptural. The phrase “eternal generation” is simply an attempt to describe the Father-Son relationship in the Trinity and, by using the word “eternal,” protect it from any idea of inequality or temporality. But whether or not one chooses to use the idea of eternal generation, the personal and eternal and coequal relation of the Father and Son must be affirmed. Least of all should eternal generation be based on Psalm 2:7 (Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology, Victor Books, Wheaton, IL, 1987, electronic media).


from theopedia.com
The eternal generation of the Son is defined as: "an eternal personal act of the Father, wherein, by necessity of nature, not by choice of will, He generates the person (not the essence) of the Son, by communicating to Him the whole indivisible substance of the Godhead, without division, alienation, or change, so that the Son is the express image of His Father's person, and eternally continues, not from the Father, but in the Father, and the Father in the Son," (A. A. Hodge, Outlines of Theology, p. 182).

Again, Bible.org
The Incarnation did not make Him the Son of God, it was the means that the Son of God became man that He might die for our sin.

Even So... said...

I will be in and out today, and most likely out for Friday, and Saturday, but if I can I will be here, and I will definitely keep up or catch up as soon as possible.

Please continue, there are many who I have talked to, they are not commenting, but they are paying attention and learning...

Gummby said...

Exist: My point was this--the idea of "becoming," Christ becoming sin, and us becoming the righteousness of God, suggests to me that there's something more to the righteousness than merely a relationship.

I'm wondering if you would comment on that, either if you agree, or how you would interpret "becoming righteousness" as it relates to your theory about how righteousness works.

Exist~Dissolve said...

gummby--

Exist: My point was this--the idea of "becoming," Christ becoming sin, and us becoming the righteousness of God, suggests to me that there's something more to the righteousness than merely a relationship.

I certainly do not see ontology as being opposed to relationship; in fact, ontology is central to relatedness, for one of the main characteristics of communion (relationship) within the Godhead is that of perichoresis, or the inter-penetrating relationality of the persons of the Triune life.

In regards to "righteousness," I see this in terms of being vitally connected through relational communion with the very life of the Triune God. In other words, as those who are in relationship with God, we are not merely related by proxy nor by declaration; rather we are, in our very beings, taken up in communion, in being-ness, in the life of God.

I'm wondering if you would comment on that, either if you agree, or how you would interpret "becoming righteousness" as it relates to your theory about how righteousness works.

In terms of the passage you have quoted, I would think in terms of Athanasius' statement, "God became human so that humans might become like God." In "becoming sin," Christ has fully identified with sinful humanity in the consequences that attend sinfulness. In the cross, Christ has absorbed into his person the full virulence of sin's power and self-destructing force. However, because even in that crisis of ultimate identification with sinful humanity, Jesus yet maintains his faithfulness to the will of the Father. Because he refuses to operate on the level of sin (i.e., violence, power, destruction), the powers of sin which have condemned Christ are themselves condemned as he triumphs over them in the newness of life which God bestows to him, vindicating his faithfulness. Because Christ has overcome the powers of sin and death, we are now free by existing in relationship with him to also overcome them, truly participating in the righteousness of God--that is, partaking of communion in the divine life of the Triune God.

Anonymous said...

Exist--

Please be patient with me if I don't articulate this well.

Are you saying that OT saints were saved by their faith in God and because of the triune of God it was actually faith in Christ?

Even So... said...

For some meaty analysis of 2 Corinthians 5:21 which has been brought up here, and is relevant for our discussion, visit

Pyromaniacs

Daniel said...

Talk about your loooooooong meta.

My word count is around 20,000. That is close to fifty typed pages.

It may be some time before I get around to joining y'all on this one...

Some questions we ought to be considering

Q1: The theif on the cross... OT saint or NT saint?

Q2: Why can't we earn heaven now? Was there ever a time when we could earn heaven?

Q3: Can a just God send one person to heaven and another to hell if heaven is earned by works and both men perform the same works?

Anyway - as I said, I will try and read the meta and wade in - but yikes - that is a lot of reading...!

Jim said...

JD,

For my sake and the rest of us illerate common folk, would you be able to distill this down to a coherent statement on what constitutes salvation in the OT.

My guess is that Israel was a called out nation, and as a whole was under the covenant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

But perhaps you are saving that card for the end.

Exist~Dissolve said...

Daniel--

Q1: The theif on the cross... OT saint or NT saint?

How are you defining "saint?" As far as OT v. NT, I would say NT since he isn't mentioned in the OT anywhere....!

Q2: Why can't we earn heaven now? Was there ever a time when we could earn heaven?

If heaven could be earned, I see no reason why it couldn't be earned "now" as opposed to any other time. Of course, salvation isn't earned (as if it is product of obligation on God's part).

Q3: Can a just God send one person to heaven and another to hell if heaven is earned by works and both men perform the same works?

I don't really see why this question is relevant to what we're talking about, considering that 1.) "good works" isn't at issue, 2.) No one's talking about "earning" salvation and 3.) I think we'd all be agreed that God is just in whatever God does, and there is nothing external to God that determines what is and isn't just for God to do.

Exist~Dissolve said...

anonymous--

Exist--

Please be patient with me if I don't articulate this well.

Are you saying that OT saints were saved by their faith in God and because of the triune of God it was actually faith in Christ?


In a sense, that is what I am saying. Because Christ is the eternally self-revealing Logos of God, all knowledge of God throughout human history is necessarily referential to Christ, the Logos. Therefore, Abraham, in his response to God, was in reality responding to Christ, the Logos and Revealer of God, even though he had no knowledge whatsoever of the historical Incarnation of the Logos in the person of Jesus that would occur some 2000 years later.

Even So... said...

Thank you one and all for stopping by...

I will be summing up all pertinent info and having us go for the "final run" after the weekend, but until then, keep it coming...

I am not kidding, I will indeed give this due diligence, and yes, I will then distill it all into crystallized items, and yes, give my ideas clearly, which I am sure you will find interesting at worst, and perhaps very enlightening...

God bless you all, it IS worth it for this one...

Daniel said...

Exists said: How are you defining "saint?" As far as OT v. NT, I would say NT since he isn't mentioned in the OT anywhere....

I define "saint" as anyone who is saved. I should have been more specific I suppose in my question too - I didn't mean which part of our bible O.T. or N.T. is this recorded in - but which covenant was he saved under - the Mosaic or the new covenant.

Exists said: If heaven could be earned, I see no reason why it couldn't be earned "now" as opposed to any other time. Of course, salvation isn't earned (as if it is product of obligation on God's part).

Scripture says that anyone who can annul God's judgement and condemn God, who has an arm like God and a voice that can thunder like God's own and adorn themselves in majesty and splendor, array themselves with glory and beauty, disperse the rage of their wrath, humble and bring low all the proud, who can tread the wicked in their place and hide them in the dust together binding their faces in hidden darkness - anyone who can do that, God confesses that they can save themselves... (c.f. Job 40:6-14). In that sense a man can "save himself" - but I don't think such a man exists.

Salvation is not God's obligation, it is God's gift. Scripture doesn't suggest that God is obligated to save anyone.

Exists said: I don't really see why this question is relevant to what we're talking about, considering that 1.) "good works" isn't at issue, 2.) No one's talking about "earning" salvation and 3.) I think we'd all be agreed that God is just in whatever God does, and there is nothing external to God that determines what is and isn't just for God to do.

What I am getting at is that scripture teaches justification through faith alone throughout scripture. The gospel wasn't "God will justify you" since the O.T. believers were already justified by their belief. The gospel was (c.f. Matthew 1:21) "He will save them from their sin" (and not, I might add, "in" their sin) - this was something new. It was God putting a new heart into Israel. It was God doing what the law couldn't do - save a person from sinning. Being saved from hell makes you a good Jew, being saved from sin makes you a "little Christ."

I think that is at the heart of it.

I haven't read the meta yet, so I hope I am not re-hashing old things already.

Chris said...

I'm still ponderin'.......as you wrap this up, Even So, I have one more question. I know the topic is OT/NT salvation so forgive me if you find my question too irrelevent for this topic.

Several times throughout the dialogue I read the statement "the will of God" / "God's will" .....that seems to mean different things to different folks.......don't we have to come to some sort of "meeting of the minds" as to what that means? Ultimately, is God's will different from person to person? Are ya "trackin" what I'm trying to ask?

Hope you're not going to sharpen / challenge us like this every week.....I'm exhausted! :)

Even So... said...

All right, I have been at a family reunion this weekend, just now got to a "dial up" server, so I will be brief...

Monday I will be wrapping this up unless there is some other thing that pops up, I hope everyone gets their licks in before then...

Have a wonderful Sunday in the Lord...

philness said...

Here's a thought. Did the OT saints even consider themselves to be saved? They had the sacrificial system for their atonement for sins committed granted, but did they actually consider faith in that system as their salvation? I suppose they did.

philness said...

I can't put my finger on it but I believe I smell hints of that same old "new age" esoteric aroma coming from E-D. It takes a lot of words to side-hop the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus.

Even So... said...

philness,

interesting...

thanks for stopping by, not too late to add your two cents, as I will be taking at least a day to sort through all of this that I missed over the weekend.

Exist~Dissolve said...

philness--

I can't put my finger on it but I believe I smell hints of that same old "new age" esoteric aroma coming from E-D. It takes a lot of words to side-hop the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus.

What gives? Everyone else, throughout the course of this discussion, has avoided resorting to personal attacks and actually engaged each other's thoughts on the level of dialoge. In your post, however, you merely attempt to malign my name by associating me with a thought system you obviously despise, even though you don't show how what I have said has anything to do with what I have said. If you really "can't put your finger on it," why don't you just not post your tranparent personal attacks?

Gummby said...

Exist: in fairness to philness, at times your statements have sounded borderline Gnostic (which is why the "New Age" reference seems appropriate). I didn't see it so much as a personal attack (though perhaps it was--only philness can answer that) as simply identifying a group of comments by their common denominator--they came from you.

In order to move the discussion forward, perhaps philness can make the effort to identify specifically what about Exist's comments makes him uncomfortable, and we can talk about those specifics.

To all: I was thinking more about the "light they've been given" scheme, and on the surface, there is much to merit it. In order to avoid the subjectivity of why God would save Israel but not, say, Egypt, we could say that it is not faithfulness to what they know about God (subjective), but faithfulness to what God has revealed about Himself (objective). In this way, we can affirm God's progressive revelation, but avoid the problems that you get into the New Testament.

However, I don't think that's what Scripture teaches. Instead, it teaches that Christ's death & resurrection are what saves. What can we say, then? I keep coming back to the promise of Messiah (the promise was given all the way back in the Genesis 3), and that the sacrifices were merely symbols that represented this. The logical progression of philness question is: did the OT believers understand Heb 10:4 " For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins," and 10:11 "And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins."? I'll readily admit that I don't have the answer.

Exist~Dissolve said...

gummby--

Exist: in fairness to philness, at times your statements have sounded borderline Gnostic (which is why the "New Age" reference seems appropriate). I didn't see it so much as a personal attack (though perhaps it was--only philness can answer that) as simply identifying a group of comments by their common denominator--they came from you.

I do not understand where my comments have been "borderline Gnostic"--in actuality, I make a concerted effort to avoid any semblance of gnostic thought, given the historic church's denunciation of the same. As far as philness' comments go, I think you are being to lenient--after all, the term "new age" is an enigmatic, ambiguous qualifier that is used to refer to a wide range of ideas. My objection to Philness' comments is that he does not show how my thoughts are "hinting" at new age theology, nor does he even define what he means by this qualifier.

In order to move the discussion forward, perhaps philness can make the effort to identify specifically what about Exist's comments makes him uncomfortable, and we can talk about those specifics.

Yes, that would be preferable to the approach he has taken thus far.

To all: I was thinking more about the "light they've been given" scheme, and on the surface, there is much to merit it. In order to avoid the subjectivity of why God would save Israel but not, say, Egypt, we could say that it is not faithfulness to what they know about God (subjective), but faithfulness to what God has revealed about Himself (objective). In this way, we can affirm God's progressive revelation, but avoid the problems that you get into the New Testament.

However, I don't think that's what Scripture teaches. Instead, it teaches that Christ's death & resurrection are what saves. What can we say, then? I keep coming back to the promise of Messiah (the promise was given all the way back in the Genesis 3), and that the sacrifices were merely symbols that represented this. The logical progression of philness question is: did the OT believers understand Heb 10:4 " For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins," and 10:11 "And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins."? I'll readily admit that I don't have the answer.


I think there was a very clear line of thinking in the OT about the inadequacy of the sacrificial cultus. After all, many prophets like the Isaiac writers specifically rejected the sacrifical cultus because those who utilized it missed the point of what it was supposed to be pointing to. The people believed themselves to be justified because they went through the motions of sacrifice, while Yahweh desired not sacrifice, but rather justice, mercy and obedience.

With that said, I agree that Jesus' death and resurrection are what save. However, I still do not think that these can only be mediated through access to knowledge of them. As Jesus is "lamb slain from the foundations of the world," there is a universal and transhistorical value to the work of salvation, one which can be mediated equally regardless of the chronological proximity which one has to it. Morever, and precisely because it is has transhistorical consequences, I do not think it is reasonable to limit its efficacy to historically mediated knowledge of the same.

Even So... said...

Okay, thank you for continuing...

I have gotten the rest I needed and am "hot on the case"...

I really like where we have gone in the last couple of comments, and guess what, surprise, that is where I feel we need to focus, and will be my explanation...

For now, and to know some more, think about the Jewish mindset vis a vis the writings in the OT. That is to say, how about the idea that David and Hezekiah talked about not being able to praise the Lord from the grave?

The Sadducees didn't believe in afterlife, per se, so what might have been the common Jewish line of thought regarding salvation anyway?

philness said...

E-D,

Can you please dumb down your comments for me and others, if I may speak for them, so we can understand you less we all label you a new ager or gnostic. Surely you can not be amazed at our annoyance of you. If your so smart, from here on out try to use less ambiguous words and phrases. You do realize you are perceived as one who is hidding behind some higher knowledge. What does transhistoy mean? Do you want us to believe that you transcend above average human dialogue? Transhistoy...get real. Now stop it already.

Exist~Dissolve said...

philness--

Can you please dumb down your comments for me and others, if I may speak for them, so we can understand you less we all label you a new ager or gnostic.

I apologize if the language I use is difficult to understand. I do not use it to try to make everyone think I am smarter than everyone else, or to try to impress anybody. Rather, I use the language that I do in order to be as precise as I can be as well as keeping the comments as short as possible.

With that being said, it is curious that you would label me as "gnostic" or "new agy" for simply using difficult language. I'm not sure what to make of that.

Surely you can not be amazed at our annoyance of you.

The only one who has conveyed annoyance to me is you. Others who have had trouble understanding have politely asked for clarification or another explanation. In each case, I have gladly obliged their requests.

If your so smart, from here on out try to use less ambiguous words and phrases.

I am not trying to make anyone think that I am smart. If my posts seem ambiguous, I apologize. As I said before, the reason for my word choice is an attempt at precision and clarity. I will be glad to attempt to answer any questions that you have about what I have posted.

You do realize you are perceived as one who is hidding behind some higher knowledge.

If that is the impression that you have of me, I apologize.

What does transhistoy mean? Do you want us to believe that you transcend above average human dialogue? Transhistoy...get real. Now stop it already.

No, I do not want you to believe that I "transcend average human dialogue," for I do not believe that I do. On the other hand, this discussion does revolve around some very specific theological issues that require a great deal of subtlety and precision to properly engage. All I am trying to do is to post my ideas about the topic with as much linguistic precision as I am capable of generating.

To answer your question about "transhistory," here is the meaning that I am attempting to convey (and which I have more fully defined throughout this meta---I would suggest reading through some of my responses to get a fuller picture).

Transhistorical: "Transcending the parameters of a specific location/moment in space/time." By this, I simply mean that the consequences of Jesus' Incarnation, death and resurrection are not limited to the precise spatial/choronlogical locations in which they were manifest in space/time (history). Rather, the effects of Jesus' Incarnation, death and resurrection are retroactive (i.e., affecting that which has come before) and proactive (i.e., affecting that which comes after).

Chris said...

1 Thessalonians 5:14 -

Brothers and sisters........be patient with everyone.

Even So... said...

Philness,

Thanks again for staying with us...now here me out...

First, it's all good, no worries, and no, I ain't no weaklin', I go at it here, hard core, as you will see if you stay with us...(read "Ichabod" or other posts to get a taste)....

We get your point and yeah, a lot of people don't "get" e~d right away, but here in this meta and at other times in this blog we have come to a understanding of where he is coming from, and have disagreed but been mutually edified to be able to more fully understand each others' position.

Dude, seriously, we are at great odds with some of what he says, but we let him know it, and he responds, albeit in a sometimes verbose seeming way. It really isn't though, once you get used to the level of dialogue. No this doesn't make him or I bigshots, and yes, I have to come in and clarify, but it has been worth every minute of it...

It has helped sharpen us all, and he has been more gracious here, if I can say it that way, than over at Pyros and such. I believe this to be because he, like the rest of us is human, and responds in kind...He has admitted wrong before, faulty exegesis, and has owned up to everything brought to his attention...we have endeavored to do the same...read this meta (perhaps I should give anyone who does an official "attaboy" link) to see this, and other recent posts...

No, I don't think he is right, but as Phil the Pyro has said, he isn't a troll, and he has been able to help us understand where he is coming from (example, he is akin to Eastern Orthodox thought, and of Barthian premise, of which I am greatly familiar, and which we have explained for the folks earlier in this blog after they asked questions)...

That all being said, yeah, I can see why you would find him annoying, but I don't, I...I....like him, and he helps us to be more articulate as to what we believe and why we believe it, he helps us consider angles, and more, but if that weere all it would be worth it for my congregants to see how I would go about with this man...

Our faith is ably defended and articulated in all varieties of situatins and media...

You are welcome here, and you WILL find that I make very definitive statements as to what I believe, and as to where I think others are wrong, even damnably so...

I enjoy lively discussion, BTW, including some frustrated comments, of which I also am guilty of from time to time...

More than meets the eye here...

God bless, and yes, I am still "getting it all together"...

philness said...

Okay. Sorry. I'll be real good from now on.

E-D, I'm sorry. I'm not the most patient person.

Even So... said...

Cool, now we are ready to go again...

So was salvation about just a declaration of righteousness, as in forensic, or was there an instrumentality to it, like they were indwelt by the Holy Spirit, or both, or ....

Chris said...

This is sooooo cool........there are real live men who can actually admit fault and humble themselves! This sounds like a "jab" but it's not.........my life experiences have not afforded me the opportunity to be around this very often! I thank you!

Exist~Dissolve said...

even so--

Cool, now we are ready to go again...

So was salvation about just a declaration of righteousness, as in forensic, or was there an instrumentality to it, like they were indwelt by the Holy Spirit, or both, or ....


Could you explain more fully your question?

Even So... said...

e~d

When we are discussing "salvation", what do we mean? What do we think the OT people thought about this concept? To them , what was "salvation"? This has a lot to do with the first and primary question of this whole post, "how were OT people saved?"

When they talked of being saved, what were they saved from? Or did they talk of being saved?

To answer the last one first, yes, David talked of being saved, but was this common parlance among Jews?

How many actually believed in an afterlife? Abraham was looking for an eternal city, so this seems to be a clue, but what of others?

It sure would be nice to have Mr. Peabody and the Wayback Machine around to find out...yeah I know I just dated myself....

God saved through Christ all those that will be saved..everyone here has agreed to that, in some form....

Did OT saints have any assurance of their salvation? After all, many thought just being a Jew was all there was to it, but others seemed to have known better, as Isaiah did, and as e~d pointed out earlier...

Gummby said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gummby said...

Exist: Just so we're clear, I'm not saying you're a Gnostic. However, the things you've said, particularly about separating the Logos of God from the incarnation Jesus, sound Gnostic to me. I understand where you're going, but if you and I and Dan Brown got together and talked, I bet you he'd be nodding his head at what you've said, perhaps even using similar words, though they would mean something completely different.

And while New Age is about as easy to pin down as jello, it owes much of its origin to Gnosticism (feel free to disagree if you think different).

So, to sum up: sound Gnostic, yes; are Gnostic, no. Personal opinion.

Even So: regarding the Holy Spirit in the OT, I don't think it was an indwelling in the same sense we see today. This is based primarily on descriptions of Samson, of Saul, and of David, where specifically the Holy Spirit came upon them, and left in the case of Saul. David also asks God in Psalm 51 not to take His Spirit from him.

But perhaps the best evidence is in the New Testament, when Jesus tells the disciples it is to their advantage if he leaves, so that the Counselor can come. Why would Jesus say this if it was already happening?

(Supporting this, I would also point to Ez 36:26--"a new heart and a new spirit.").

So where does this leave us? What is the role of the Holy Spirit in the OT? Not really clear on that one--I'm interested to hear thoughts.

One last point, regarding justification. If we accept the premise that there are at least some aspects of the gospel that are eternal (such as the notion that Christ was "the lamb slain from the foundation of the world"), it begs the question when does this justification take place? Did it happen at the point of the Cross, radiating out from it, or does it happen at the point of belief for the individual? Or is it both (from God's point of view, all sinners were justified at the point of the Cross, but from the individual's standpoint, that doesn't come until actual belief takes place)? Again, dunno.

Exist~Dissolve said...

Even so–

e~d

When we are discussing "salvation", what do we mean?


I assume most people think of going to heaven when they die. However, this is not how I would talk about “salvation,” at least not holistically. When I say “salvation,” I mean reconciliation with God.

What do we think the OT people thought about this concept? To them , what was "salvation"? This has a lot to do with the first and primary question of this whole post, "how were OT people saved?"

To the average OT person, I don’t think the concept of “salvation” was even a part of their thought processes, at least not in the way that it is for us who think of it in individual, after-life terms. Their “salvation” was a part of the narrative of the people, being delivered from Pharaoh and being led to the land that God had promised Abraham. It would seem that to the average Jew, “salvation” was not something that was a matter of individual speculation about what happens after death, but was rather rooted in being alive, owning a part of the promised land, having sons to carry on one's name, and being free from the oppression of one's enemies.

When they talked of being saved, what were they saved from? Or did they talk of being saved?

If they spoke of being “saved,” again, I think it would revolve around freedom and safety from their enemies; success in their farms, families, etc; or having a good legacy and many children that would perpetuate their name and honor.

To answer the last one first, yes, David talked of being saved, but was this common parlance among Jews?

But in what sense did David speak of salvation? If we look at the psalms, by and far his discussion was not speculative soul-speak, but rather concentrated upon God rescuing him (and the people, by proxy) from his enemies.

How many actually believed in an afterlife? Abraham was looking for an eternal city, so this seems to be a clue, but what of others?

Probably very few, at least in the sense that most Christians would. There is a lot of speculation about the quasi-“shade” world of the dead (such as represented in the story about Samuel’s “ghost” being conjured by the witch of Endor); however, this is distinctly divergent from the Christian conception of post-death embodied existence.

Of course, texts from later Jewish tradition (such as the book of Job and its poignant longing for the persistence of embodied existence beyond death) reveal an interesting development in Hebrew anthropology. Somewhere along the way, the more robust after-life theology of Pharisees developed and must have been informed from something within Hebrew theology. Therefore, the possibility of a more fully developed after-life theology within earlier Jewish thought cannot be discounted.

It sure would be nice to have Mr. Peabody and the Wayback Machine around to find out...yeah I know I just dated myself....

Moose and squirrel rock.

Did OT saints have any assurance of their salvation? After all, many thought just being a Jew was all there was to it, but others seemed to have known better, as Isaiah did, and as e~d pointed out earlier...

I think they had assurance, but it was not in the way that Protestant theology would characterize it. To the Jew, “assurance” of Yahweh’s favor would most likely be rooted to security from one’s enemies, the perpetuation of the temple cultus (Yahweh’s presence in the midst of God’s people), and a strong and good king.

Exist~Dissolve said...

gummby--

One last point, regarding justification. If we accept the premise that there are at least some aspects of the gospel that are eternal (such as the notion that Christ was "the lamb slain from the foundation of the world"), it begs the question when does this justification take place? Did it happen at the point of the Cross, radiating out from it, or does it happen at the point of belief for the individual? Or is it both (from God's point of view, all sinners were justified at the point of the Cross, but from the individual's standpoint, that doesn't come until actual belief takes place)? Again, dunno

Why do we have to speak of it happening at "a point?"

Even So... said...

Matt said,
But perhaps the best evidence is in the New Testament, when Jesus tells the disciples it is to their advantage if he leaves, so that the Counselor can come. Why would Jesus say this if it was already happening?

Good question, but what about John the Baptist being filled from his mothers' womb?

Also (John 14:17) He was with them and would be in them, future, so a mixed bag there...also 1 Peter 1:12, the Holy Spirit in them, but as you know the Greek preposition "en" there could mean slightly different things...

(Supporting this, I would also point to Ez 36:26--"a new heart and a new spirit.").

A dispensationalist might see that verse in light of covenant promises to Israel during the millenial period...

it begs the question when does this justification take place? Did it happen at the point of the Cross, radiating out from it, or does it happen at the point of belief for the individual? Or is it both (from God's point of view, all sinners were justified at the point of the Cross, but from the individual's standpoint, that doesn't come until actual belief takes place)? Again, dunno.

Romans 8:30 – called justified and glorified are all aorist active indicative – AT Robertson says of these in this verse that they have been consummated already but are future ion the fullest sense –so it would seem to agree with your hypothesis here…

Even So... said...

exist said,
Of course, texts from later Jewish tradition (such as the book of Job and its poignant longing for the persistence of embodied existence beyond death) reveal an interesting development in Hebrew anthropology. Somewhere along the way, the more robust after-life theology of Pharisees developed and must have been informed from something within Hebrew theology. Therefore, the possibility of a more fully developed after-life theology within earlier Jewish thought cannot be discounted.

Glad, ummm, super glad actually, to see you have noticed this, and I agree with a lot of this last comment, but what of scholars (Norm Geisler among them) whom date Job as earlier than any other writen work, even Genesis, as far as when it was penned?

If so, then they would have had this anthropological expectation all the while...

philness said...

Job was anticipating Christ Jesus. Job 19:25-28

Exist~Dissolve said...

even so--

Glad, ummm, super glad actually, to see you have noticed this, and I agree with a lot of this last comment, but what of scholars (Norm Geisler among them) whom date Job as earlier than any other writen work, even Genesis, as far as when it was penned?

While it is certainly impossible to absoultely identify the date of composition of any ancient Near Eastern writing, my studies have led me to the conclusion that the best conclusion of the textual evidence is for a later date of composition, post-Solomonic. Such a conclusion would be based, partially at least, upon similarities and correlations with other earlier and contemporary ANE literature of the time.

Of course, a "later" date is based upon a presupposition that Genesis has an early date of composition. As most critical scholarship would assign a later date of composition or editing to the final version of Genesis, Job may very well have been written *earlier* than Genesis, but still quite *late* in the biblical history of the Jewish history.

If so, then they would have had this anthropological expectation all the while...

True.

Gummby said...

Good question, but what about John the Baptist being filled from his mothers' womb?

He's an interesting one. My argument is that Johnny B is not normative of what we would see--he is unique--"the greatest among men born of women."

I never thought about Ezekiel like that before, though it makes complete sense. I wonder if that rules out its application for Gentile believers. The reverse is certainly not the case--if it applies to all believers--it applies to those of both Jewish & Gentile origin.

BTW, I forgot to mention 1 Cor 6:19, about our bodies being the temple of the Holy Spirit, which stands in contrast (it seems to me, anyway) to the physical temple/tabernacle of the OT.

Job is also an interesting case. Here's someone who knows about Yaweh, yet as best we can tell he is not even a Jew. Somehow he knew that he needed to offer sacrifices for sins, he acted as his own priest, etc, much like the patriarchs did. Somehow, God must have revealed Himself in some way (& I'm talking about prior to the end of the book here), but we don't know anything about it.

Exist~Dissolve said...

gummby--

Job is also an interesting case. Here's someone who knows about Yaweh, yet as best we can tell he is not even a Jew. Somehow he knew that he needed to offer sacrifices for sins, he acted as his own priest, etc, much like the patriarchs did. Somehow, God must have revealed Himself in some way (& I'm talking about prior to the end of the book here), but we don't know anything about it.

I think the easiest explanation for this would be the context in which it was most likely written--post-Solomonic Israel. Obviously, in such a setting, it would be quite destructive to the narrative "point" to not have the protagonist of the story participating within the sacrificial cultus of the temple, even if the temple is never mentioned and the character is not a Jew.

Obviously, this same rationale could be applied to stories like that of Cain and Able, and Abraham: a sort of retrospective commentary upon the centrality of the temple/sacrificial cultus to the life of worship of the people of Yahweh by locating its origins in the heroes of its faith.

Of course, such a correlation cannot be proven, but it is, I think, worth thinking about at the very least.

Even So... said...

So the sacrificial type of worship was always around?

Interesting, and I guess you could argue for it in that when God made coats of animal skins for Adam and Eve, at that time He explained it as such, and the oral tradition passed its way down until the time of the Tabernacle...

That could be accomplished without Job being written at later date, however....

Even So... said...

I am about halfway through analyzing the 62 pages of meta, and so I am nearing the time when I will give my opinions and conclusions, but there is still time to get in your fifty cents or so...

I already had my opinions, of course, before we started, but this has been beneficial. There are definitely some interesting things to consider, and they are helping me to better articluate what I will finally say...

Even So... said...

Okay, I am ready, at long last. You will have until Tuesday at noon to deliver your final say, unless it goes bonkers before that, or conversely it goes cold and I just can't wait any longer...

Thanks one and all for participating...

philness said...

We need to also remember that God declares Job blameless. So the idea of Job having to work or earn his salvation is out of the question. God granted job blamelessness from the get go. I think what we will find out is that simply God Himself, alone does the saving without mans involvement whatsoever. John the baptist didn't ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit just as Abraham did'nt asked to be righteous, just as Job didn't ask to be blameless, just as Paul didn't ask to be a chosen vessel, nor did I ask to be saved. God calls men unto repentance and places them under His son's shed blood and man has nothing to do with it except his mere existence. Now thats perfect mercy and grace.

Exist~Dissolve said...

even so--


So the sacrificial type of worship was always around?

Interesting, and I guess you could argue for it in that when God made coats of animal skins for Adam and Eve, at that time He explained it as such, and the oral tradition passed its way down until the time of the Tabernacle...

That could be accomplished without Job being written at later date, however....


Actually, from what I had written previously, my argument would be that the sacrificial cultus was something that developed later in Hebrew worship and that this system was "read" back into the narrative of the Torah by the editorial redactors. This is what I meant by "retrospective commentary."

Even So... said...

exist,

Actually, from what I had written previously, my argument would be that the sacrificial cultus was something that developed later in Hebrew worship and that this system was "read" back into the narrative of the Torah by the editorial redactors. This is what I meant by "retrospective commentary."

Understood, but I wouldn't agree.

I am not of the ilk whom believes whole hog in the textual criticisms of modern scholarship with regards to documentary hypothesis, the "q" for NT gospels, and such things.

Not that modern scholarship is not a valid enterprise. I have read, somewhat lightly, Dan Wallace's ideas, and Bart Ehrman, Charles Augustus Briggs, et al., trying to get several "sides" of the issues.

Now, IOW, what you are saying is that they were doing the sacrificial thing but didn't actually realize it to the extent that the biblical redactors pointed this out.

Perhaps, if we accept source criticism, but either way, people must have understood their need to be reconciled to God.

Exist~Dissolve said...

even so--

Now, IOW, what you are saying is that they were doing the sacrificial thing but didn't actually realize it to the extent that the biblical redactors pointed this out.

Well, not exactly. I would guess most who would accept the redactors' retrospective commentary would also suggest that the "sacrifice" stories that predated the established temple cultus were fabricated by the writers in order to legitimize the temple practice (after all, a regular form of "legitimation" in ANE literature was the ascription of a certain practice to a hero/heroes of the past).

Personally, I'm not sure how I feel about this theory. While it makes sense, there was certainly a wide amount of sacrificial practice in cultures and peoples that well predated the Abramic call, so it would not be terribly difficult to imagine an alternative source for the sacrificial practice.

Perhaps, if we accept source criticism, but either way, people must have understood their need to be reconciled to God.

Yes, I agree.

Gummby said...

Exist: here's something you can explain to me. Understand, I'm a Luddite who actually believes the traditional view of how the Bible came to exist.

First, if you take the redactionist view, on what basis can you use any of those things in the OT as authoritative? If they are just "good stories ascribed to Yahweh," how reliable can it be?

Second, when I read in the book of Kings, about the reaction of Josiah to finding the book of the Law, it just seems less likely (to me, anyway) that there would be that kind of reaction if those documents were being manufactured at that point.

I'm curious as to your thoughts (if Even So will allow us to venture down this rabbit trail a bit while we wait for him to swoop in with all the answers to the questions posed).

Even So... said...

Sure thing, Gummby, I am almost always willing to "go there", and in this case, it will be instructive...

As to having all the answers, well, you know I don't think so, but I do have my opinions, and strong, informed ones at that...

Besides, with over 65 pages in the meta, I could still use more time to see if I missed anything, and allow others to see if they are ready, or want to have another go at this topic, with all its many side items....

I am telling you now and have been telling you all the whole time, this is a big deal that informs a lot of our presuppositions and helps us to be consistent where perhaps we weren't...

As a clue to what I will be saying, lets just say the Reformed folks will probably be the most pleased, and in line with my thinking on the subject. Yeah, I know, that's what we all expect out of a Calvinist, they are the "frozen chosen" with regards to doctrine sometimes.

That being said, E~D has made some valid points, for sure, and he has caused us to think about some ideas with regards to how they affect our NT understanding, so bravo, in that sense. I will be addressing two or more direct statements that I cannot accept at face value, so I hope this will all seem balanced...

Let's continue, shall we?

Exist~Dissolve said...

gummby--

Exist: here's something you can explain to me. Understand, I'm a Luddite who actually believes the traditional view of how the Bible came to exist.

How, exactly, are you defining the "traditional view?"

First, if you take the redactionist view, on what basis can you use any of those things in the OT as authoritative? If they are just "good stories ascribed to Yahweh," how reliable can it be?

The most important thing for me, in terms of "authority," is the place which they occupied within the theology and worship of the people of Israel and, later on, in the thinking of the apostles and other biblical writers. In this sense, the function, to me, is the important part; origin, which is already impossible to determine because of the gap of time and culture, is less important.

Moreover, I think it would be very foolish (and I don't mean this as a personal attack) to tie the "authority" of Scripture (OT or NT) to the historicity of the documents. After all, the moment that one does this, one has agreed to "play" according to the terms of historical/textual criticism. Yet by doing this, one has already capitulated the conclusion, for to operate according to its terms and methods is to concede that these same are 1.) legitimate and 2.) that the final conclusion are accurate and absolute.

That being said, I love historical/textual criticism, for I think it gives us a window into the humanness of the origins of the Scriptures, a picture which more fully informs the way in which we interact with the texts. I simply do not wish to base the authority of the Scriptures on biblical scholars' ability to withstand the force of textual criticism. This, after all, is already a lost battle and any attempts to the contrary really just looks like damage control. My question, however, is "Why?" The Scriptures are OUR writings, not that of scientific methodology. They are authoritative because of how they inform our faith and how they have functioned within the historical life of the people of God, forming and shaping our belief and hope. Why do we feel the need to legitimate matters of faith according to the assumptions and practices of scientific methodology?

Second, when I read in the book of Kings, about the reaction of Josiah to finding the book of the Law, it just seems less likely (to me, anyway) that there would be that kind of reaction if those documents were being manufactured at that point.

Well, just because a particular writing may have been composed at a particular time does not mean that an oral tradition and collection of popular stories that formed the mythos (I'm using this in a literary fashion) of the Israelite's cosmology and anthropology did not previously exist and provide, at most, the actual content or, at least, an outline which guided the writing process.

And as far as the reaction goes, I do not necessarily think there would have been a huge reaction if the scenario was right, such as if the writing was ordered by a king or high priest.

I'm curious as to your thoughts (if Even So will allow us to venture down this rabbit trail a bit while we wait for him to swoop in with all the answers to the questions posed).

Thank you for your interest.

Exist~Dissolve said...

gummby--

One more short note:

If I remember correctly, Kenton Sparks, in his "Ancient Texts for the Study of the Hebrew Bible," postulates that the reference of Josiah "finding" the book of the Law is actually an indicator of a possible date of final composition or codification of the Hebrew religious code.

I have no idea how reasonable this suggestion is, but it is an interesting thought, at the very least.

Even So... said...

All this textual criticism business leaves me wondering what of the perspicuity of scripture?

The reliability, authority, and sufficiency of scripture are limited by everyone, even the KJV only folks...

Hmmmm....sounds like a great topic for next time, how do we define the authority, reliability, and sufficiency of scipture?

Would anyone like to explore that here?

My post on this topic )(OT salvation) will be forthcoming shortly....

Exist~Dissolve said...

even so--

All this textual criticism business leaves me wondering what of the perspicuity of scripture?

Given the fact that there are a multitude of textual, historical and cultural barriers which stand in the way of reasonable interpretation, it is a miracle (literally) that we can understand as much as we do!

The reliability, authority, and sufficiency of scripture are limited by everyone, even the KJV only folks...

Well, this conclusion depends, of course, upon what it is for which Scripture is assumed to be "reliable, authoritative, and sufficient." For example, Scripture is not sufficient, reliable nor authoritative in matters of, say, astronomical research. Does this mean that the value of Scripture is reduced? Hardly. Rather, it merely represents that Scripture has been wrongly applied to something for which it is not reliable, authoritative, nor sufficient.

Even So... said...

True, but what we mean to say is it reliable, authoritative, and sufficient for matters of faith and practice?

Even So... said...

Sola Scriptura is a matter for the next topic, so stay tuned, exist seems ready to go...

philness said...

I believe the astrophysicist Hugh Ross has faithfully demonstrated that what we know about the universe and the cosmos in very much in line with what scripture teaches. Check him out E-D http://www.reasons.org/

Gummby said...

Hmmmm....sounds like a great topic for next time, how do we define the authority, reliability, and sufficiency of scipture?

Would anyone like to explore that here?


Yes.

Well, this conclusion depends, of course, upon what it is for which Scripture is assumed to be "reliable, authoritative, and sufficient." For example, Scripture is not sufficient, reliable nor authoritative in matters of, say, astronomical research. Does this mean that the value of Scripture is reduced? Hardly. Rather, it merely represents that Scripture has been wrongly applied to something for which it is not reliable, authoritative, nor sufficient.

Given the scenario you described, I would probably agree. However, there are plenty of areas where Scripture is not given weight, but should be (I'm thinking of both the physical and social sciences). And many people refuse to allow the Bible to inform their thinking in these areas at all, thinking that faith and [fill-in-the-blank] are separate. But they aren't.

I'll save my thoughts on higher criticism for then.

philness said...

E-D,

You must check this out. http://www.reasons.org/resources/fff/2002issue08/index.shtml#physics_of_sin

Gummby said...

However, I would like to hear Exist's opinion of the role of the Holy Spirit (if any) in the formation of the Old and New Testament.

Exist~Dissolve said...

philness--

I believe the astrophysicist Hugh Ross has faithfully demonstrated that what we know about the universe and the cosmos in very much in line with what scripture teaches. Check him out E-D http://www.reasons.org/

Personally, I think methodologies such as Ross' which feel a compulsion to find a direct relationship between scientific knowledge of the universe and the very limited cosmology presented in the Scriptures is the sign of a fundamentally flawed understanding of the nature and function of the Scriptures. Any first year bible school student could creatively interpret the Scriptures in such a way as to fuse the findings of modern science with the ancient cosmology present in the texts of the bible. This does not mean, however, that the relationship is real or, more importantly, relevant.

http://www.reasons.org/resources/fff/2002issue08/index.shtml#physics_of_sin

For what reason, exactly, did you want me to read this?

Exist~Dissolve said...

gummby--

However, I would like to hear Exist's opinion of the role of the Holy Spirit (if any) in the formation of the Old and New Testament.

If by "role" you wish me to speak about material causes, I will forwardly deny any such role. The Spirit of God works in myriad imperceptible ways in the hearts of every person. There is no way to locate the mechanism by which "inspiration" of Scripture happened. It is a mystery, of how human words can testify to the truth of eternal God.

Even So... said...

Ye must be born again...

Even So... said...

God determines who will be born again, not us....

Exist~Dissolve said...

even so--

God determines who will be born again, not us....

Then why are we having this discussion? If God has determined who will born again and who will be irrevocably damned to hell, I see that it makes little difference what information these eternally elect ones have of the historical person of Jesus. If salvation is through divine fiat, information is superfluous at best, a waste of time at worst.

Even So... said...

It is evident from God's perspective, not ours...and I believe that (salvation, regeneration, justification, etc.) those things given by God also come with a certain amount on information, not the whole amount that we may learn later, but at first; the whole point to the discussion for me was "what did the OT saints know?"...

We know some were or are saved, and we know it is of grace, but from their perspective, what did they know, not have to know, but what might have been the common things they did know?

Surely there is something that all of them knew or experienced about God, or else their is no need for any information or experience at all...

Even So... said...

Then why are we having this discussion? If God has determined who will born again and who will be irrevocably damned to hell, I see that it makes little difference what information these eternally elect ones have of the historical person of Jesus. If salvation is through divine fiat, information is superfluous at best, a waste of time at worst.

I understand your point, I hope I clarified this enough so that you understand mine...

Even So... said...

exist said,

As you are aware, I think a compelling philosophical argument can be made about this issue, one which can affirm the necessity of Christ's Incarnation, death and resurrection, while concomitantly maintaining that it is entirely possible for one to be saved without explicit knowledge of the historical person and work of Jesus.

The biggest proof text of this position, of course, is Romans 2:12-16:


These verses, and the verses from Romans 1:19 and following are talking about man's depravity being made manifest, not a general revelation salvation. They testify to man's inherent sinful condition and condemnation.

It is not that some men are saved by their incomplete knowledge of the Gospel, but that all men are without any excuse of ignorance regarding the Law (what God requires), and now both Jew and Gentile (all peoples) are shown to be guilty because none could keep it.

Even So... said...

God circumcises your heart...

Anonymous said...

Hey my name is Reuben,

I have read the whole meta, but I'm not sure if present discussion is being made.

Anyway, I guess my question is what about the fact that God is not willing for any to perish, but all to come to repentance. How can we say He will's some to destruction and some to salvation and believe this verse - and many others I might add.

Gary said...

Hebrew children in the Old Testament were born into God's covenant, both male and female. Circumcision was the sign of this covenant for boys, but the sign was not what saved them. Faith saved them. Rejecting the sign, circumcision, for boys, either by the parents or later as an adult himself, was a sign of a lack of true faith, and therefore the child was "cut off" from God's promises as clearly stated in Genesis chapter 17:

"Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13 both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

What was the purpose of this covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? God tells us in the beginning of this chapter of Genesis:

"And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you."

This covenant wasn't just to establish a Jewish national identity or a promise of the inheritance of the land of Caanan, as some evangelicals want you to believe. In this covenant, God promises to be their God. Does God say here that he will be their God only if they make a "decision for God" when they are old enough to have the intelligence and maturity to decide for themselves? No! They are born into the covenant!

If Jewish children grew up trusting in God and lived by faith, they then received eternal life when they died. If when they grew up, they rejected God, turned their back on God, and lived a life of willful sin, when they died, they suffered eternal damnation. Salvation was theirs to LOSE. There is no record anywhere in the Bible that Jewish children were required to make a one time "decision for God" upon reaching an "Age of Accountability" in order to be saved.

Therefore Jewish infants who died, even before circumcision, were saved.

The same is true today. Christian children are born into the covenant. They are saved by faith. It is not the act of baptism that saves, it is faith. The refusal to be baptized is a sign of a lack of true faith and may result in the child being "cut off" from God's promise of eternal life, to suffer eternal damnation, as happened with the unfaithful Hebrew in the OT.

Christ said, "He that believes and is baptized will be saved, but he that does not believe will be damned."

It is not the lack of baptism that damns, it is the lack of faith that damns.

Gary
Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals
An orthodox Lutheran blog