Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Jefferts Schori and theology

Updated
Jim Naughton posted recently in response to the unwarranted criticism by some conservatives of what the new American primate had said about the relationship between Christianity and other faiths. His post was excitingly titled Orthodox soteriology. Jim’s links lead to several relevant articles about the doctrine of salvation.

The NPR interview in question took place on 18 October and is 21 minutes long. It covered a lot of other ground as well, and can be found here.

Update
Fr Jake also has an article containing links to put this matter into a wider context of mainstream Christian theology. See Seeking the Way to God.

Update
Fr Jones has added his views: Will Only A Few Be Saved?

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Comments

It would be correct to say that Christ as the only way to salvation is normative for Evangelical Christians. It would also be true perhaps to say that there are people who call themselves Christians who do not consider it normative.

Naughton however is factually wrong when he says that it is not normative outside of Evangelical Christianity. He should try that one with a whole range of Christian traditions, with what the Bible says, not in some obscure difficult to understand passages but in clear well known very blunt ones! It is of note that he limits himself to some choice quotes from very recent Catholic theologians. He should try it on historical Christianity and he will realise he's said the biggest piece of nonsence since George Bush last spoke!

From the comments quoted, the criticism of Scholari is not unwarrented. Indeed she has committed a grave offence by making the incarnation and death of Christ completely unneccessary. If there are other vehicles for salvation then Steve Chalke would be well within his rights to describe not only Penal Substitution but all models of the atonement as "Cosmic Child Abuse."

The quote given doesn't imply "Annonymous Christians" who have benefited from Christ as the one route to salvation but have not been able to express conversion due to a lack of knowledge. Rather she has implied Christ as one route amongst many. I doubt that the last Pope or indeed the current one would agree with that no matter how you play about with their quotes.

That still leaves open the seperate debate about whether annonymous Christians do exist, which I would still find a doubtful conclusion from the evidence we have

Posted by: Dave Williams on Tuesday, 7 November 2006 at 11:20pm GMT

The catechism of the Catholic Church is nonsense?

Dave, you feel qualified to judge our new PB based on a couple of interviews given to the secular press. On what basis have you appointed yourself as judge?

What I want to know is how God is revealed to those who reject Christ because of the example offered by arrogant, self-righteous Christians.

Posted by: Jake on Tuesday, 7 November 2006 at 11:40pm GMT

Article XVIII of the Thirty-Nine Articles states:

"They also are to be had accursed that presume to say, That every man shall be saved by the Law or Sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that Law, and the light of Nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved."

Can there be any doubt that Bishop Schori falls under this anathema?

Posted by: DGus on Wednesday, 8 November 2006 at 12:51am GMT

"Scholari" ? To whom do you refer? Charitably, this is a typo for Bishop Jeffrets Schori - otherwise, a cheap slur. I hope the former, guilty as I often am of typing errors.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Wednesday, 8 November 2006 at 1:07am GMT

God does heart bypasses and finds souls around the blockages. There are a plethora of souls who acknowledge and respect Jesus but hold "churches" in complete contempt. Good on them.

The other issue also is not just insisting that souls acknowledge Jesus, but then accussing them of not acknowledging Jesus enough. So Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and others can acknowledge Jesus and Jesus' unique role, but continue their meditations because they find peace and communion within their own traditions. The evangelicals denounce them as "ungodly". Not because they do not acknowledge Jesus, but because they tithe to a different organisational structure.

Not only do they not ackowledge the acknowledgements of other faiths, there are those who argue that branches within the bodies of Christianity are also not saved. (I've seen people cry because they believe that because their recently departed parent died a Catholic they have gone to hell).

Puritanism run amock.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Wednesday, 8 November 2006 at 2:10am GMT

"It would be correct to say that Christ as the only way to salvation is normative for Evangelical Christians. It would also be true perhaps to say that there are people who call themselves Christians who do not consider it normative."

The churches of the East and West don't, because they pre-date this very late variety of soteriology by some 1500 years.

Which means that the Church doesn't.

Which means that Calvinists and Pietists (= Evangelicals) - who do - are sect, not Church.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 8 November 2006 at 6:52am GMT

Cheryl,

Evangelicals do not accuse Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims of tithing to a different organisational structure. Let's face it we are hardly precious about organisational structures, that's one charge you can't bring against us!

Rather they agree with the Muslim when he says that he does not believe what we believe about Christ. When he says that Jesus is one of his prophets he is specifically saying that he is not the way to God, that he did not provide atonement, that sins are not forgiven by him that he did not rise from the dead. It is insulting to him to try and twist him around to being an annomymous Christian.

That is the Evangelical's issue with the non Christian that they do not recognise Christ for who he is.

As for "holding churches" in contempt -why is it good for people to do what Paul warns us against and hold the body of Christ in contempt. It seems the height of arrogance to say "The church is full of bad people and I will hold them in contempt" as though I am perfect and have never had a cross word, never been a hypocrite, never fallen out with anyone...

Posted by: Dave Williams on Wednesday, 8 November 2006 at 9:26am GMT

“Article XVIII of the Thirty-Nine Articles states:…blah blah blah….”Posted by: DGus on Wednesday, 8 November 2006 at 12:51am GMT

All of which suggests to me that our British cousins should chuck the Articles into the “Historical Documents of the Church” section of the PB like we Americans have!

Posted by: Kurt on Wednesday, 8 November 2006 at 2:28pm GMT

It is important not to regard people of other faiths as anonymous Christians, because it does label them in a way that they do not accept and often knowingly.

Many a Buddhist or Muslim has been a Christian, and they understand very well the claims and constructions of Christianity. Some of them have participated in perhaps one kind of Christianity only, once loved and come to rejection, but others have been well versed across the board.

Sociologically it is known that (in general) it is the already religious who convert to religions. The argument that they don't know Christianity conjours up this imaginary world of everyone being geographically separate, whereas we are far more likely to be aware of one another and read the same material.

It is not simply an argument of culture either. Of course there is Hinduism in India in an Indian culture, but Hinduism is varied and includes the rationalised Westernised kind too involving people who have read Bibles and sources within Christianity - in fact it was because they did that they produced and joined a reformed "liberal" Hinduism. Others produced a nationalist Hinduism because of contact with imperial power and Western Christian/ secular culture, and wanted to define themselves more clearly.

These faiths have heartlands and overlapping bits, philosophical realisms and relativisms. My view of them is that they are like languages, self-contained but evolving out of the other and then borrowing words and phrases - dialects becoming languages and then raiding one another.

In the world at present there is a lot of fear and getting into trenches with guns pointing. Some of this is because others meet across increasingly porous boundaries. With more confidence there will be ever more meeting and borrowing. There are many faith texts to be generated as this happens, and perhaps some waved about that ought to stay locked up in glass cases in the museums.

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 8 November 2006 at 2:59pm GMT

Was it Verna Dozier, or someone earlier, who said that most people find it easier to worship Christ than to follow him?

St. Bede said that since Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life, that anyone who follows the truth follows Christ. But of course he wrote before the invention of the evangelical mind trick became a substitute for Christianity.

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Wednesday, 8 November 2006 at 3:18pm GMT

http://www.anglican.tk/?p=812

- THE LIBERAL REBUTTAL: Jefferts Schori and theology; Orthodox soteriology, whereby we denizens of “the Usual Suspects” Ghetto learn that actually, the subtly brilliant theologian and former Theological School Dean is parsing Recent Roman Catholic comments by theological giants like Cardinal Ratzinger (Catechism), John Paul the Great, and Hans Urs Von Balthasar.. a.k’a. “Yeah, what he said!”

Oddly enough, having read JP2, chunks of the catechism, and more than a smattering of Von Balthasar we here at CaNN are obviously not up to the task of subtling out Schori’s deep ‘n’ sophisticated analysis, ‘cause– like– we TOTALLY missed it. We’d love to know how much RC theology Ms. KJS has in her library, and what her thoughts are on JP’s ‘Theology of the Body‘ and Ratzinger’s ‘DEUS CARITAS EST‘ (maybe with a critique of Regensburg as a starter?).

Perhaps we can all look forward to a theological tour de force from the new PeeBee on all sorts of burning theological issues. We wait.. with bated breath … (thinkinganglicans)

Posted by: binky, webelf on Wednesday, 8 November 2006 at 3:29pm GMT

I was blessed by the PB's messsage.

( I don't understand this elf. ).

I could anticipate that the PB will go on giving her own leadings of God and not those of prelates past or present -- or elves however cynical....

Posted by: laurence on Wednesday, 8 November 2006 at 5:09pm GMT

Dave

Your posting partly addressed my concerns (although I don't agree with you). I have heard Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus acknowledge Jesus, his life, his crucifixion, his purpose with God. E.g. the Dalai Lama only last year commented that the biblical God is a jealous God and that there is no need to convert to Buddhism as the bible has the same teachings. Mind you, there is wisdom in learning some emotional self-control and humility from the Buddhists, something profoundly missing in many Abrahamic faith movements.

I have witnessed these people acknowledge these things and then to their faces have people tell them that they had not acknowledged those things. The scenes reminded me of a sadistic torturer with its victim, you've confesssed - but you haven't screamed loudly or long enough - so I am going to accuse you some more.

I have also watched with bemusement Muslims' frustration that some Christians don't seem to hear that they acknowledge Jesus. The Christians who have a problem with that, also don't acknowledge Jesus, because they acknowledge Jesus own words that he was a prophet (Luke 13:33 and 24:19) and there would be more prophets to come (Luke 24:25-26)

That is why Mohammad was necessary. And no, he wasn't perfect, but then neither was Paul or Peter. And if Muslims have to acknowledge Jesus perfectly, then so do Christians, and that means ALL of his exhortations: including hospitality to the outcastes and respect to the afflicted and women. If you can not follow Jesus' exhortations perfectly, then stop throwing stones at others' imperfect attempts.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Wednesday, 8 November 2006 at 5:46pm GMT

I know there are many commenters on this site with impressive theological training. I am not one of them. Nevertheless, I would like to add my thoughts. I do believe that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no one comes to the Father but through Him. Nevertheless, I don't believe that restricts Christ to saving only those who profess His name during their sojourn here on earth. Scripture tell us that Christ is looking for those who worship in spirit and in truth. I suppose we could argue forever about what precisely that means, but to me, it seems to mean those who worship with a sincere heart. If it means only those who get the theology right, then we're all in a heap of trouble. Which of us can understand God? Christ, who sees the heart, is free to save whom He will save. Our job is to "count others better than ourselves" and treat them accordingly.

Posted by: Ruth on Wednesday, 8 November 2006 at 5:55pm GMT

I'm with Ruth.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 8 November 2006 at 7:51pm GMT

Cheryl,

Luke is one of my favourite books of the Bible both for the way it shows the prophet role of
Jesus and the way that it brings out his passion for the poor and the vulnerable. There is also a strong emphasis on the role of women.

I'm afraid your Muslim friends sold you a dummy though Luke 24 v 25-26 doesn't say that there were more prophets to follow after Jesus. Indeed the driving point there is that Moses and the Prophets (i.e. Our Old Testament) point towards him, the Christ.

He is not only a prophet but as Priest and king he is the fulfillment of all prophecy. (Note there are prophets that follow but not in the Islamic sense).

Now am I by saying that Christianity is unique and Christ and his death and resurrection are the only way to God, am I throwing stones at the efforts of others for failing to do what I can't do myself.

Well I could claim a good effort. I have cared for the vulnerable. I've sat next to my Great Aunt in intensive carewhilst she died after a mugging. I've visited an asylum seeker, I've held onto a drunk to stop him running into the road and getting hit by a car.

The temptation then is to say "I'm doing my best, I'm following Christ."

Well the Apostle Paul who trumps most of our efforts at religious observation considered his righteousness worthless.

You see the Christian message is completely different to Islam and Hinduism and indeed to what is presented as Christianity in a lot of our churches. It isn't about our efforts to follow Christ that will always fail. It is about Christ's act on the cross.

And when I say don't leave it to a chance possibility and assume that everyone is going to get to heaven by other means I'm not throwing stones, I'm noting Paul's message that to be saved we must believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths Christ.

Posted by: Dave Williams on Wednesday, 8 November 2006 at 10:58pm GMT

Ruth,

Important points and I believe that is the key distinction here. The starting point is that Christ is the only way to God.

Now how exactly does that work out

1. You say it brilliantly, we don't have to get our theology exactly right and indeed we wont get our theology exactly right. Indeed if that was the basis for Christian belief it would be our own effort, not Gods
2. There is the issue about those who have not yet heard the gospel and who therefore haven't had a chance to believe. There are a number of thoughts on them but I think it's helpful to remember that
a. God doesn't actually HAVE to save anyone, everyone he does save is through his mercy not what we deserve
b. We can trust God to do what is right -whether or not that fits our theology
c. Romans says that noone can say they are without excuse -creation, our consciences, the Law point us both towards the reality of God and the need for him to do something for us
3. Our responsibility is to tell the gospel to as many as we can, trusting God for the rest!

Posted by: Dave Williams on Wednesday, 8 November 2006 at 11:08pm GMT

Dave, we've been on opposite sides of the fence on so much, but in this I am in total agreement. With regard to point #2, Mother Julian of Norwich asked just that question in one of her visions. The only answer she got was the famous "All will be well, and all manner of thing will be well." That seems to me to be what you're saying in point 2b, and I agree unreservedly.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 9 November 2006 at 1:34am GMT

Don't see your comment here? Please note the rule limiting comments to 400 words. This was first explained on 23 July see
http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/001838.html

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 9 November 2006 at 8:00am GMT

"a. God doesn't actually HAVE to save anyone, everyone he does save is through his mercy not what we deserve"

But I suspect that if he refuses to save anyone then he forfeits his position as God.

Posted by: mynsterpreost on Thursday, 9 November 2006 at 9:41am GMT

Dave

No Muslim has sold me a dummy. I can be dumb in my own right and don't need to ascribe my stupidity to others.

Christians are meant to be peace makers, we are meant to be finding ways to build bridges. Jesus says in Luke 24:25-26 that more prophets are to come. One of the problems I have had is that the solo scripturalists do not recognise any prophets since Jesus. The Anglican Communion has no mechanisms for assessing whether someone is a prophet and no etiquette on how to deal with someone if they are a prophet.

Thus the whole purpose of prophets, which is to challenge and course correct priestly castes who have lost the plot and become confused about priorities is compromised. So even if God wanted to gently rebuke and guide the communion, there are no subtle means to do so, and they scream like stuffed pigs when God uses dramatic confirmations.

If God has been dramatic in the last couple of years, it is because all the gentle routes of reform have become gridlocked.

And on Jesus' role, Jesus is only the high priest if his annointment stands, and that relies on the grace of God. If Jesus' acolytes decide to go to war in God's name based on lies and deception, ignore the plights of the poor and homeless, desecrate creation, advocate the rejection of children by their parents and institutionalise the tearing open of women's wombs; then Jesus better start thinking about who manifests whether he is still in God's grace. (Hint look at Psalms 110:3 & 89:24; Isaiah 55:3)

It ain't just the humans and angels that have got to do some good tap dancing. At this stage Jesus is being given the benefit of the doubt. God has reaffirmed his annointment, and made it loud and clear what the basis of that annointment was. Jesus himself knew what was required as he going into Jerusalem on those fateful last days (Matthew 21:5), and by these words he knew what the womb of the dawn was seeking. His annointment stands by honoring that covenant. It is not a blank cheque for a Machevellian crooner.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Thursday, 9 November 2006 at 10:42am GMT

Cheryl,

Please read the verses you are referring to they simply don't refer to any other prophets. Luke 24:25-26 says "And he said to them, "Oh foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not neccessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory."

Then note v 27 "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures, the things concerning himself."

It would be great to discuss the Biblical gift of prophecy as it applies to God's Church but first of all we need to say that the role of Prophet as understood by Islam with a special role for Mohammed is wrong because the drive of revelation is to its fulfillment in Christ.

I'm really not sure what the point of your paragraph about going to war is? Christ's annointing stands. He is the annointed one. He is that because he is the eternal son.

I'm also not sure who you are targeting your insults at who is this Machavellian crooner? It would be perhaps better if you directed any issues you have at the audience here. If you are accusing me of something then say it straight!

And yes we do bring peace -the peace that comes when people find peace with God -through his act of atonement and then can be at peace with their brothers and sisters.

Posted by: Dave Williams on Thursday, 9 November 2006 at 11:01am GMT

mynsterpreost

No God doesn't forfeit his position as God. That's you deciding what God must and mustn't do! He doesn't have to save anyone. Remember the fate of the devil and the fallen angels is not redemption!

Posted by: Dave Williams on Thursday, 9 November 2006 at 11:04am GMT

Cheryl (Re: 8 November 2006 at 5:46pm GMT), as I said to a close Muslim friend at the weekend.

If I said Allah was a great man, and a good teacher, then I wouldn't be acknowledging him as God.

Just because you acknowledge Jesus as a good man, prophet etc, you still don't acknowledge him as God.

So if He is God, then you will not have responded to him correctly. He agreed with me, and he believes in wheel theory (ie: all religions lead to heaven) and saw why I didn't believe in wheel theory.

The question why do good people go to hell is often asked. The Bible's clear loving answer is they don't. There are no good people (Romans 3:9-20). It instead says that sinners can be saved by Grace, undeserved rich flowing mercy (Galatians 3:1-14). Where we relate to God by what Jesus has done, and not by what we do.

Paul warns about changing the good news of Christianity in Galatians 1:6-10, and ends with this stern phrase "If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!"

Grace + Anything at all = Nothing at all

As all other world religions relate to God on what they have done, they don't truly understand the seriousness of their sin, how righteous God is, and don't relate to God through His Son and His grace. Therefore they don't come by Jesus, the way, the truth and the life, they come by works.

Praise God! I know that even when I do good things my motivations are always at least in part corrupted. I do things out of duty, to look good, to earn me favours etc. If this is how I do good deeds, how much worse am I when I consciously sin, and knowingly reject God's authority in my life. I deserve to go to hell for my rebellion against my Creator and Re-Creator, but thankfully he has showered me with His mercy and His grace, and is, by His Spirit transforming me to be more and more like Christ.

Grace and Peace

Alex

Posted by: Alex Freeman on Thursday, 9 November 2006 at 11:38am GMT

God in a Box...

A lot of these disputes arise because of our understandings are incomplete. When I teach my Sunday school kids (10 year olds) about the 2nd Commandment we focus on the attributes of God, as best we can. God is holy, merciful, compassionate, long-suffering, slow to anger, almighty etc. The focus of the lesson is that unless the God you worship is ALL of the things scripture says than you are to some degree worshipping an idol.

What I find so critical in my understanding of Christology is that Christ as prophet, priest and king makes possible the reconciliation of the attributes of God proclaimed in scripture with the fallness of creation.

Regarding mysterpost, I would just throw out for consideration "EX 33:19 - And the Lord said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."

Posted by: Bob on Thursday, 9 November 2006 at 11:53am GMT

Dave W writes: "That is the Evangelical's issue with the non Christian that they do not recognise Christ for who he is."

Personally, and more precisely, I wonder if, tarred with a very broad brush, evangelicals' real issue is the failure to seek good in others and their views, rather claiming the monopoly on correct understandings of "who Jesus is". To be fair, I wonder why good members of such congregations actually attend...

Dave W also writes: "Luke 24 v 25-26 doesn't say that there were more prophets to follow after Jesus."

Really? One thing's for sure, it categorically *doesn't* say there *won't* be. You have compounded fallacies here: you're arguing something from nothing, you're failing to take into account who wrote that passage, not asking what in tone or to what audience it was written. Try harder next time!

Posted by: Tim on Thursday, 9 November 2006 at 12:47pm GMT

Well one might rightly ask 'what is her religion' if there was no mention of the cross, the resurection, the gospel, faith, belief the supernatural the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, or sin.

As to her interview, …We who follow Jesus are those who believe Him because if we hold on to His teaching we will know the truth. (John 8:32) We who ‘understand him as our vehicle to the divine’ are believers. Non believers are those who don’t know Him as the way the truth and the life to come to the Father God. We don’t assume that God can’t act in other ways, according to the scriptures He does, He has a plan for all nations, it’s one of God’s promises. The question was however whether belief in Jesus is the only way to get to heaven which I think is ultimately true, Philippians 2:10, John 10;1, 14:6, Matthew 25:35- etc. its just that we don’t know when people will come to bow at His feet, during this life or at judgement day.
But Jefferts Schori is bringing confusion. A Christian is someone who believes in and follows Christ, Jefferts is confusing salvation as a definition of being Christian. The NT shows that having faith in Christ is being saved, our job is not to judge who will be saved but to tell people of the salvation through Christ, make disciples of believers etc. After all if one doesn’t believe in who Jesus Christ says He is then salvation through Him isnt going to be something one necessarily believes.

I know of people of other religions who are not sure and certain that God loves them because of what Christ has done on the cross, I do because I am a believer.

Posted by: DaveW on Thursday, 9 November 2006 at 1:03pm GMT

Much has been said since my last post, but I'd like to respond to Dave Williams' response to my post. Dave: I agree with everything you've laid out. I think there may be one place where we part paths - more or a rhetorical point than a theological one. I don't think what I said is inconsistent with what PB Katherine said in the interview. She did not include my first sentence - a clear declaration that Christ is the only way - but said that others may find God through other traditions. I think that could be the same thing as saying "Christ is free to save whom he will save," and that he is not limited to saving those who profess his name during their time on earth. Those who claim she has said Christ has no role in the salvation of others are, I think, making assumptions about her starting point, which perhaps she simply didn't articulate (it was a brief secular interview, after all). I have heard her preach and she strikes me as a woman of very strong faith in Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit, ready to do the work of God in her new role. I look forward to her leadership.

Thanks for your comments, Dave.

Posted by: Ruth on Thursday, 9 November 2006 at 2:34pm GMT

Ruth,

Valid points. Context is a difficult thing. Without further information we are limited to saying is that statement as it stands an adequate and helpful statement, rather than because of that one statement that person is wrong... I assume that more of her theology will enter the public domain and those of us at a distance will get a better picture,

More important for us is to learn the lessons about what we say because we often only have a brief time to say something.

My personal recommendation is that it is best to stay with the message of Christ to those who have heard rather than speculate on what might happen. So I would say to a non Christian -the important thing here is that you have heard the good news about Christ and you need to respond to that.

Posted by: Dave Williams on Thursday, 9 November 2006 at 3:06pm GMT

For the record there is another person posting who is labelled DaveW.

That is not the same person as me!

Posted by: Dave Williams on Thursday, 9 November 2006 at 3:39pm GMT

Tim,

I'm not sure why you have suddenly decided that I've not accounted for who wrote the passage concerned, the tone or the audience. How will that suddenly get these verses to say something different?

Cheryl's point was that Mulsims say there must be another prophet -i.e. Mohammed because these verses say another prophet is coming. My response was that they don't say that and couldn't be made to say that by any stretch of the imagination.

If Cheryl had said, these verses tell us that we should all worship a bottle of vinegar and I'd said no they don't, you wouldn't have pointed out that they don't tell us not to worship vinegar. You would have recognised that I was saying "You can't prove that from here"

Now the issue at hand is not whether the gift of prophecy exists post Christ but rather the specific type of prophet as understood by Islam that excludes plenty of other prophets off the list (daughters of Philip, Agabus, cna't remember in Haggai, Malachi appear. This passage set after the resurrection and pointing to Christ as the fulfillment of prophecy says "No, that type of Prophet isn't needed."

Posted by: Dave Williams on Thursday, 9 November 2006 at 5:00pm GMT

Oops, apologies if I've inadvertently confused DaveW/Dave Williams.

DaveW writes: "A Christian is someone who believes in and follows Christ, Jefferts is confusing salvation as a definition of being Christian."

If salvation is through Christ alone, what's the problem?

Has anyone considered that salvation may only be possible through Christ but that it has wider-reaching potential to those who might be completely ignorant of the crucifixion?

Posted by: Tim on Thursday, 9 November 2006 at 5:54pm GMT

Hi Tim,

That was sort of the point I was getting at in my response to Ruth in that there are three groups we have to deal with

1. People who hear and respond to the Gospel
2. People who hear and refuse it
3. People who have not heard

You might want to check out Clark Pinnock as someone who emphasises an inclusive aspect here. Indeed he includes within his definition of group 2, those who haven't heard an adequate presentation (because us mean nast Evangelicals put them off)

from a conservative point of view there are those who would see those who haven't heard as being in the position of those that were pre Christ but had faith. I have strong sympathies with that view but would be cautious about saying it's definately the case -I wouldn't risk not evangelising on that basis.

A strong rebuttal of Pinnock is Dan Strange -The Possibility of Evangelism Amongst the Unevangelised which is based on his PHD. It's a well thought out work and well worth getting hold of. Though as Dan is currently my tutor I am biased!

Posted by: Dave Williams on Thursday, 9 November 2006 at 7:24pm GMT

Tim wrote: "Has anyone considered that salvation may only be possible through Christ but that it has wider-reaching potential to those who might be completely ignorant of the crucifixion?"

Tim, I think that's the point Dave Williams and I have been discussing. You might also want to take a look at Jim Naughton's blog (www.dailyepiscopalian.com), under his posting "Recapturing the Mystical Dimension" (also apparently posted on Fr. Jake's blog), for more on this topic.

Posted by: Ruth on Thursday, 9 November 2006 at 8:33pm GMT

"No God doesn't forfeit his position as God. That's you deciding what God must and mustn't do! He doesn't have to save anyone."

Dave Williams, I wonder if you ever sometimes consider *what* "God" is, not just who God is?

"God" is just a sound. A word, in English. No more, or less, meaningful, than any other word.

Inasmuch as we fill this sound w/ meaning---or, more precisely, as *I* fill this sound w/ meaning---it's as a word which means "The One Who Saves".

The whole notion of a non-saving "God" is just plain oxymoronic. In other words, there could be all sorts of sentient beings, great or small, which don't save---but IF such a being doesn't save, then it's not God! Period.

Having established that, then the only question is, just HOW MUCH/HOW MANY does this "God" have to save? Is "God" God if God saves only some?

Not to my way of thinking.

Now sure, you can always say "But your way of thinking isn't Biblical!"

To which---having been a life-long Scripture (and Tradition&Reason)-formed Anglican---I can only say "No, I am emphatically Biblical---but my God isn't *limited* to the merely Biblical. My God, being *THE GOD*, is a heckuva lot bigger than that!" :-D

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Thursday, 9 November 2006 at 8:50pm GMT

I've posted a short series of mini articles on this topic at http://davewilliams-random-thoughts.blogspot.com/ which is my personal blog.

Posted by: Dave Williams on Thursday, 9 November 2006 at 11:05pm GMT

Hi,

Sorry but the test of whether or not your Biblical isn't whether you or I say you are or aren't in some name calling exercise. The proof is in the eating.

It is interesting that you have decided to limit God by saying he must save -within the context of eternal life I assume as that's the context we are discussing.

But that God chooses to reveal himself as a saving God doesn't mean that he is compelled to. That is what he has chosen to do and what we know about him. There is nothing that says he has to. We don't deserve it. He could have said "I'm going to wipe you all out" He still would have been God and wise and good. Only a bit different to the God he is! That he saves us is his mercy and that is another aspect of his character that we really wont get until we realise he doesn't have to do it.

Incidently it is well into his relationship with humans that he reveals himself specifically as a saving God, rescuing Israel from Egypt and it could have been enough for him to go on rescuing that people alone in a temporal sense for him to be a saving God

Posted by: Dave Williams on Friday, 10 November 2006 at 7:44am GMT

Let's see - who should we listen to on this subject of pluralism?

Goran and KJS......or the words of St Peter, St Paul, JC himself....?

This is not a trick question

Posted by: NP on Friday, 10 November 2006 at 10:43am GMT

I think what NP has written is the key here.
The NT refers to what we describe as pluralism, we can discuss what we think about pluralism or we can go to the revelation from God in the Bible.

For me the NT is what they saw and heard, not what we think they think they saw and heard.... hence it is primarily revelation from God not primarily man's theology.

Posted by: DaveW on Friday, 10 November 2006 at 12:08pm GMT

Dave later wrote "Cheryl's point was that Muslims say..." I do wish you wouldn't tell me that I am telling you what Muslims say. I have been scrupulous to not quote Muslims because it is so easy to misinterpret their faith. I put forth my positings for Christians, Muslims and others to contemplate. Often there is an element that they can find agreement and then move forward in a co-operative manner. Those successful posits help in reconciliation.

If my posits are unpalatable or offensive because they come from me, they can be dismissed as the rantings of an insane woman and we do not have riots or accusations being thrown as to who shouldn't have said what to whom when. One of my inside jokes last year is that I read that in some faiths they recommend listening to insane women because God answers their prayers. So even my insanity gives me legitimacy.

Please don't quote me as quoting someone else again in this area. As we recently saw with the Pope, misquoting in this area is very vexed. It is probably one of the few times you will ever see me try and be subtle. It is sad that I have to spell it out so clearly.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Friday, 10 November 2006 at 5:43pm GMT

Dave W quoted Jesus' words in Luke 24:25-26 "And he said to them, "Oh foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not neccessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory."

Two points, the tense of this sentence was written from a point in time, that implicitly infers that all the prophets have not yet spoken, and thus there are more to come. Anyone who tries to claim that they are the "last" prophet gets laughed at by God as history continues to unfold and God reaffirms God's commitment to both heaven AND earth.

The other comment is don't you wonder what Jesus meant by entering his Glory? Has it ever occcurred to any of you that Jesus' Glory is the Cherubim of the Glory? The other Cherub of the Ark and Guardian to Eden? Jesus' soul mate and faithful love?

Go back and read your bibles, looking up the word Glory and think of it is an identity rather than an adjective. Whole vistas of meaning open up. e.g. Habakkuk 2:14 "For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea."

Further, it was Jesus in his Glory that blinded Paul on the road to Damascus, so Jesus' Glory has the right to correct errors' from Paul's writings as the Glory participated in Paul's annointment.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Friday, 10 November 2006 at 5:50pm GMT

"Sorry but the test of whether or not your Biblical isn't whether you or I say you are or aren't in some name calling exercise. The proof is in the eating."


Well, Dave Williams, while I fervently try to "inwardly digest" Scripture, I confess I haven't actually added it to my diet! ;-)

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Saturday, 11 November 2006 at 12:21am GMT

Cheryl,

Sorry for putting the thoughts of muslims into your mouth. But my purpose there was not to imply that you were speaking infallibly for muslims rather that we were dealing with a different concept of prophet from the likes of Agabus and Phillip's daughters

I'm not sure why Christ's words here could imply anything other than that he was showing them what the prophets who had spoken had said. We cannot imply from this anything more than that Christ was saying that Scripture pointed to himself and he fulfilled it.

In terms of are there going to be other prophets around then the verse is irrelevent -we are using it to discuss something that isn't at issue. Actually there seem to be lots of prophets afterwards and indeed an even greater number who can prophesy. But the point still remains that as those before Christ were pointing to Christ, so the spirit of prophecy is the revelation of Christ (somewhere in Revelation!) and so prophecy points back to him as well.

As for a unique person neccessary to continue in the way that Christ did, then I have to say a strong no based on these verses.

As for the Glory well an adjective can be used in a number of ways and indeed as a noun. But that something is a noun -even nouns that appear to have personality doesn't mean anything too much -they can still be abstract or inanimate. Did you
know that in Jonah, the boat blots to break itself up? (!)


Posted by: Dave Williams on Saturday, 11 November 2006 at 8:37am GMT

We seem to experience the habitual mixis of subjects here...

Either it is God who - however - reveals something...

... or it is Nersen and Dave who interprets something.

Or maybe both ;=)

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 11 November 2006 at 9:30am GMT

Dave

I found myself thinking about this dialogue (in a good natured way) today. I think there is a problem with word usage. People refer to the "last" prophet, which infers there will be no more prophets. Yet if space, time and humanity continue, then the need for prophets continue.

Rather than looking for the penultimate prophet or the "last" prophet. Maybe instead we should refer to the latest or most recent prophet. That language acknowledges in itself that there are more to come.

It brings scripture and God back to life in that it acknowledges the needs for course corrections. It also then brings up how to recognise and interact with a prophet. What is the etiquette? How do you know if they are a prophet? How do you engage them in dialogue without following them blindly? (It is a perilous course that can easily lead to insanity, delusion or insatiable lust for power).

To have no mechanisms is to deprive God of gentle course adjusting methods - that can save face for priests and alleviate excessive hardship for God's children. As things can be "tweaked" before they escalate to embarrassing levels.

One of the problems at the moment is that some parties are not parleying because they know they are guilty of obstruction. Better to destroy the evidence than admit they were blind to what was happening. A more robust model would have protected them from painting themselves into a corner where they feel they must be victorious or be shamed. One thing that amuses me about souls (often male) is that they would prefer to die and take the world with them than admit they made a mistake or didn't understand something at the time.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Saturday, 11 November 2006 at 9:56am GMT

JC Fisher wrote

Well, Dave Williams, while I fervently try to "inwardly digest" Scripture, I confess I haven't actually added it to my diet! ;-)

I din't realise how apt the expression was but eating of God's word is thoroughly Biblical!

Posted by: Dave Williams on Saturday, 11 November 2006 at 10:05am GMT

There is now a discussion of exclusivist versus inclusivist soteriology also on Stand Firm and Titusonenine.

Surely something is happening ;=)

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 11 November 2006 at 10:29am GMT

Cheryl,

Prophecy - such a huge topic I'm definitely going to run the risk of being restricted by the words limit here!!!! If you find your way to my blog I'm sure we can start to direct a specific discussion on this? If you need to fill out with longer answers and you then want to give a link to your own site let me know.

Dave

Posted by: Dave Williams on Saturday, 11 November 2006 at 3:15pm GMT

Goran,

Do you have links for those sites?

Dave

Posted by: Dave Williams on Saturday, 11 November 2006 at 3:18pm GMT

Dear Cheryl Clough,
I think you are confusing me with Dave Williams. I didn’t refer to Luke 24:25-26 but I would like to respond to some of your comments in this section.
You wrote “Two points, the tense of this sentence was written from a point in time, that implicitly infers that all the prophets have not yet spoken, and thus there are more to come. Anyone who tries to claim that they are the "last" prophet gets laughed at by God as history continues to unfold and God reaffirms God's commitment to both heaven AND earth.”
I would like to see the scriptures which support your idea. In context, Jesus is referring to His resurrection and the OT prophets who spoke of Him and His resurrection. Jesus said He fulfilled the law and the prophets. Luke 24:44. Of course there is still the prophetic as a gift of the Holy Spirit, but we dont need any more prophets to tell of His death and resurrection.
You also wrote “Further, it was Jesus in his Glory that blinded Paul on the road to Damascus, so Jesus' Glory has the right to correct errors' from Paul's writings as the Glory participated in Paul's annointment.”
The scripture doesn’t say this though does it. It is Paul and Luke who write about Paul’s testimony of having encountered the risen Lord and received the gospel from Him, not Jesus.
In response to what you also wrote I would comment that there is nothing profoundly missing at all in Christ, I cant speak for other religions. There is indeed a falling short in all of us but I would suggest that also applies to those who practice the other religions.
As to Jesus and Muslims, Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet but they refer to the Koran not the Bible, you quoted Luke 13:33 and 24:19 which is from the Bible. The Bible also testifies Jesus was Lord God John 4:26, 8:58, 11:27 etc.
You wrote “This is why Mohammad was necessary.” May I ask, are you a Muslim? Firstly you say Mohamed wasn’t perfect and indeed that is what I believe the Koran says, Suras 40:55, 47:19, 48:2, but I don't believe the Koran says Jesus was a sinner.
As to the throwing of stones you mentioned, was that from the Koran or the Bible?

Posted by: DaveW on Monday, 13 November 2006 at 8:43am GMT

DaveW

At the time that Islam was formed, Christianity had become cancerous and was running amock. A counterweight needed to be brought in to bring balance and moderate the excessiveness. It is no coincidence that both Christianity and Islam are missionary in their natures. God needs diversity, and if one form is too aggressive he will bring in a competitor to bring in boundaries.

If we are serious about building world peace, the need for boundaries and to respect them and to show hospitality needs to be restored. All the religions and philosophical streams need to understand this. All of them have elements of this in their holy texts, it's just that people might not have noticed key passages. An excellent example is Jeremaiah 35 on the Recabites.

God will raise up a counterweight whenever God is vexed and unable to moderate from within. Many of the Psalms refer to God loving his people but then they presume on God's good will so he shunts them into exile and then chooses to bring them back (often not through the expected line of succession). Some good examples are Psalm 78:52-72 & 107:37-43 Jeremiah 29:10-23 Isaiah 23:7-18

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Monday, 13 November 2006 at 7:55pm GMT

Backtracking to Alex. How should people respond to Jesus? They should acknowledge who sent Jesus, and what Jesus was anointed to do: which was to be the advocate for humanity and the atoning sacrifice for all humanity for all time.

There are those who acknowledge Jesus but not the one who sent Jesus. They are more blasphemous than those who acknowledge Jesus and the others sent as well as Jesus; because they deny the one who sent Jesus. They are guilty of idolatry because they have limited God to human form. Jesus was a cup of water from the ocean that is God, Jesus was not all of God. Jesus had the character and consistency of God, but Jesus did not make manifest all of God.

Any soul who takes on human form and then claims to be all of God is guilty of idolatry. God has an answer for such souls. Ezekiel 28:12-19 is a warning to any soul who would claim to be all of God. God has done it before and will do it again, if required. God delays his wrath because he still hopes for redemption, but God does that for God's name sake, not for idolatrous souls. It would vex God to have to cut them off, it brings greater honor to God to redeem. Go and read Isaiah 49 again.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Monday, 13 November 2006 at 8:04pm GMT

NP

On listening to Apostle Paul on pluralism?

Hebrews 2:4 "God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will."

Spirit is not new to the New Testament, Spirit is redolent through the Old Testament. If Spirit moved before Jesus, then others were also anointed and called by God before Jesus. If this was happening in Jewish circles, then it was happening in other circles as well.

God calls to His own, it's just that some people like to ignore the other and deny God's movements. Based on that argument, Jesus is nothing because his claims to authenticity are nothing in your eyes because you deny the validity of experiences that occurred outside of Jesus, and thus the origins from which Jesus claims to have come. You literally write Jesus out of the picture.

But if you acknowledge the origins and that validate Jesus, then how can you deny the parallel movements that God has done elsewhere?

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Monday, 13 November 2006 at 8:10pm GMT

Dave Williams

A separate discussion on prophecy would be fun. This quote came from Sojourners only today:

"Prophets are, by their nature, inconvenient party-poopers. It is a mistaken notion that prophets can see the future. Rather, they tell us what is true right now." - Thomas Cahill

I started a thread on my discussion forum (no word limit). If you want, either you or I can insert back here when something seems relevant to TA as well. Or you can use the forum to hyperlink to a posting on your website. That's cool by me too. http://forum.wombatwonderings.org/viewtopic.php?p=106#106

Simon shouldn't mind, he agreed to this kind of thing happening when the word count limit was introduced. (Which is why I restarted the forum too).

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Monday, 13 November 2006 at 8:26pm GMT

Dave Williams

On Glory being a noun. It took a long time to note that pattern because the bible uses glory as both an adjective and a noun.

Passages of interest: Exodus 16:10 24:15-18 29:42-46 33:18-23 40:34-38; Numbers 14:10 14:20-23 16:19-40 20:6-13; Deuteronomy 5:24; 1Samuel 4:21-22; 1Kings 8:9-21; 2Chronicles 7:1-3; Psalms 3:3 4:2 8:1-9 24:7-10 57:5-11 63:2 73:21-28 85:9 102:12-22 106:20; Isaiah 4:2-6 6:1-13 23:7-9 40:3-5 42:8 43:1-3 48:11 58:6-9 59:19-60:4 60:18-24 62:1-12 66:18-22; Jeremiah 2:11; Ezekiel 1:26-28 3:22-27 8:4-6 9:3 10:4 10:18-19 11:17-25 Ezekiel 24:25 43:1-12 44:4; Daniel 7:14; Hosea 4:7 9:11; Habakkuk 2:14 3:3-4; Haggai 2:3-9 Zechariah 2:5 Matthew 16:27 Mark 8:38-9:1 Luke 9:26-27 (same Jesus' quote in three gospels); Luke 21:27 24:26; John 1:14 8:54 11:4 17:1-5 17:24; Acts 7:2 7:55; Romans 1:22-23; Revelation 15:8 19:7-8 21:10-27

Psalms 26:8 King David wrote "I love the house where you live, O LORD, the place where your glory dwells."

This quoted passage is beautiful because it encapsulates a deep understanding of David's vision. Jesus (as moshiach ben david) understood that to ascend to the throne he had to be embraced by God's glory (the Jews also refer to her as the Shekinah). Much of this imagery is to do with the mantle of her love and endorsement (as the bride or feminine) being wrapped around her anointed groom (or the masculine). It is also the story of reconcilation of Adam and Eve, it is a story of courtship. It is a story of the two cherubim of the ark evolving as individuals, learning to co-operate and communicate effectively with each other. Their lessons are public because they are lessons that all of humanity need to learn.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Monday, 13 November 2006 at 9:23pm GMT

Dear Cheryl,
I am not sure that at the time of Mohammed all Christianity had become cancerous anyway, what makes you believ this? But I would say Christianity has never been perfect anyway but Christ is so if you think Mohanmmed was necessary how would you believe Christ is perfect?
What makes you think 'God needs diversity' ? Isnt His creation diverse? Surely we dont know of anything God hasnt created?
When you say 'If we are serious about building world peace' arent many people, belivers and non-believers. Respecting people doesnt mean one has to respect what they believe, respecting people is allowing them to believe what they believe.
How can the Koran be Holy if the Koran disputes the Holy Bible is Holy?

Posted by: DaveW on Monday, 13 November 2006 at 11:13pm GMT

Cheryl,

Sorry, it seems you missed my point. I'm not questioning the use of glory as a noun. But because it's a noun doesn't mean it has some special identity as a person. You also seem to be confusing the issue of feminine and masculine nouns with feminine personality.

I'm interested as to where you have got this idea of the two cherubim being Christ and his companion.

Dave

Posted by: Dave Williams on Tuesday, 14 November 2006 at 7:40am GMT

Dave Williams

The passages answer the first question on your latest posting as well.

The idea is the only model that integrates and explains many things that have happened over the last couple of years. There is a male soul who knows the truth of what I am saying. He knows the truth because he chose to play with the matches.

If he does not acknowledge me in this lifetime, then I will not acknowledge him when I cross over.

Neither God or I are happy with him right now. He can hide for as long as he likes. But there will be a reckoning. Whether it is in this lifetime, this planet, this lifeform or in another; the reckoning will happen. Hiding merely delays the inevitable and embarrasses him even further.

Plus God and I are so disappointed that he has again done the Jewish male thing of only playing the game after he has been shamed. We are so over men who only come to the party when there is no other course open to them. Every single time they do it, they again demonstrate that they can not be fully trusted. Because they bring in an element of duress.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Tuesday, 14 November 2006 at 7:42pm GMT

The match scene that has sealed this guy's fate occurred on 22 July (or 21st depending on which part of the world he is in). He decided to set a bait for the shekinah. Not only did he catch the shekinah, he decided to use a snare to keep the vessel nearby to play a second time after convincing her to trust him.

At this point in time, the guy probably doesn't know what is worst. That he set the trap or that he caught something in the trap. If he had his time over again, he probably wouldn't have set the trap in the first place. But he did.

What is probably disconcerting him even further is that God and the other key players knew months ago that this was coming. He is in a very invidious situation.

He might enjoying listening to Chris Rice's song "When did you fall?"

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Tuesday, 14 November 2006 at 9:14pm GMT

Cheryl,

Your post is a bit confusing. It seems that you are claiming some particular experience. It's difficult though to follow as you are being quite cryptic. Are you claiming that you know someone who has discovered something? Are you saying that you are the Shekinah?

Posted by: Dave Williams on Tuesday, 14 November 2006 at 10:28pm GMT
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