Nature of God

Providence

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Sam

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Calvinism and Romans 9
« Reply #30 on: May 25, 2007, 07:25:01 am »

Sorry, Harvey.  I was just responding to the initial post.  I probably should've read the rest of the thread before responding.


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Will

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« Reply #31 on: May 25, 2007, 10:12:14 am »
Hey Will. Let's take the latter case then. What information do you have that states that God cannot put a "counter-factual Christian" before the judgment seat and allow Christ's sacrificial atonement to be applied at that time?


Hi Harvey,

Just to set the stage, you said lets take the latter case.

Latter case = The death of Christ, or the appeasement of God's wrath, is only beneficial for those whom Christ acted as an actual substitute in His sacrifice.

Counter-factual Christian = One who was never been converted to the faith in his/her lifetime.

(The issue of regeneration here is important but I am not sure if you are including it in your definition).  

 
What information do you have that states that God cannot put a "counter-factual Christian" before the judgment seat and allow Christ's sacrificial atonement to be applied at that time?


There's a lot that could be thrown in the mix, as your aware, but here's a few.

John 3:18:  "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."  

Mark 16:16: "...he who has disbelieved shall be condemned."  

John 3:3: "...unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

           1 John 5:1: "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God..."

 
and allow Christ's sacrificial atonement to be applied at that time?


This is what I was pointing about before with my longer post.  To suggest that Christ's atonement could be applied at that time would suggest that it could equally not be applied at all, or at least prior.  If Christ died for him, in reality (the latter case), than it is true long before one reaches the judgment seat.  If Christ actually propitiated the wrath of God for all for whom He died (1 Jn. 2:2), then God's wrath is removed in that sacrifice, and thus its not possible to apply it later...that would be hypothetical atonement (not the 'latter case').  Rather, once God is appeased towards one's sin he is appeased and thus the atonement already has its effect; yet, if God still could send one to hell or has His wrath upon them it would be unjust for him to do so, if in fact Christ died for Him and already appeased that wrath.  

Will

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Harvey

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« Reply #32 on: May 25, 2007, 11:15:18 am »

Will wrote: To suggest that Christ's atonement could be applied at that time would suggest that it could equally not be applied at all, or at least prior.  If Christ died for him, in reality (the latter case), than it is true long before one reaches the judgment seat.  If Christ actually propitiated the wrath of God for all for whom He died (1 Jn. 2:2), then God's wrath is removed in that sacrifice, and thus its not possible to apply it later...that would be hypothetical atonement (not the 'latter case').

Maybe this is not related, but surely the prophets (Abraham, Elijah, etc) are covered by the sacrifice of Christ since they died in the faith (Heb.11). However, they didn't know Jesus. In what way could they be accounted as Christians whereas law obeying Jews who didn't known Jesus (let's say Jews living in Persia in the middle ages) will go to hell?

But, regarding your scriptures, I didn't see a specific biblical passage that suggests that it is not possible for God to offer these counterfactual Christians the blood of Christ as an atoning sacrifice as payment for their sins. Your argument as I understand it is as follows:

A1) He who believes is not judged at the Judgment (John 3:18)
A2) He who disbelieves will be condemned at Judgment (Mark 16:16)
A3) He who is not born of God cannot see the Kingdom (John 3:3)
A4) Whoever believes in Jesus is born of God (I John 5:1)
A5) Hence, those who are judged at Judgment do not see the Kingdom

But, surely I don't have to go through a few examples of how erroneous results can be obtained by quoting scriptures as in this manner. I think you know well that we could come up with all sorts of ludicrous justifications by making this kind of argument. Well, just in case others don't see that possibility, I'll construct one:

B1) The Church is the body of Christ (I Cor. 12:27)
B2) Jesus is Christ (John 20:31)
B3) Jesus and the Father are One (John 10:30)
B4) Therefore, the Church is the Father
B5) Jesus was sent by the Father (John 5:36)
B6) Therefore, the Church sent Jesus

If I had more creativity, I'm sure we could really construct some real doozies with this kind of reasoning method. What I'm looking for is an actual perspective where it is clear that the New Testament rules out those counterfactual Christians coming before the Judgment seat and accepting Jesus' blood as atonement for their sins.

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Will

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« Reply #33 on: May 25, 2007, 12:35:56 pm »

Maybe this is not related, but surely the prophets (Abraham, Elijah, etc) are covered by the sacrifice of Christ since they died in the faith (Heb.11). However, they didn't know Jesus. In what way could they be accounted as Christians whereas law obeying Jews who didn't known Jesus (let's say Jews living in Persia in the middle ages) will go to hell?


This is where I believe in eternal justification.  In the mind of God the lamb was slain from eternity past (Rev. 13:8), and all the elect were joined to Christ from eternity past (Eph. 1:4).

Further,

Rom. 3:25-26: "Whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.  This was to demonstarate HIs righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over teh sins previously committed...so that He would be just and the justifier of the oen who has faith in Jesus."

My argument from this passage is that God did not judge the sin of previous generations, before the historical death of Christ, based on the fact that Christ would die for those sins.  Thus, in order for God to be righteous, a just judge, he could not just pass over OT sin and forget it, He had to demonstrate His righteousness for doing so by the death of Christ.

Based on the certainty of the payment/sacrifice in accordance with the will and plan of God, God could forgive previous sins, just as latter sins, based on the death of Christ.

Now, more directly to your question, I wouldn't say they didn't know their Messiah.  Rather, that was their hope.  Again, I am not saying the exact content of the faith is what effects or ensures salvation, there was definitely more revelation OT to NT; but, rather, the faith itself is evidence that you are born of God (saved, among the elect).  Namely, I am saying that God regenerates on earth those whom He ultimately saves in eternity, faith, OT or NT, represents that you are among the regenerate.        

But, regarding your scriptures, I didn't see a specific biblical passage that suggests that it is not possible for God to offer these counterfactual Christians the blood of Christ as an atoning sacrifice as payment for their sins. Your argument as I understand it is as follows:


Strange.  I wasn't trying to build some sophisticated argument based on scriptures.  Rather, the verses I quoted said exactly the opposite of what your saying.  It is not contengent on multiple verses, but all the verse say essentially the same thing.

You say God doesn't necessarily have to condemn an unbeliever at the judgment.

The scripture says,

An unbeliever is condemned already; namely, before he even comes before the the judgment throne he has already been judged and condemned, there is no hope.

This says exactly contrary to what you say.  I don't see the parallel that you made to possible irrational conclusions upon proof texting.  If I am misunderstanding the verse, explain why.  Namely, explain what it means to be judged already (and its obviously a negative judgment) or to be condemned already before you reach the final judgment.  Kind of like the phrase "Dead man walking," hes still alive but is judged and is no different than dead, it just hasn't happened physically yet.  This is not a good analogy, but I see a similar concept with Jesus' statement;the unbeliever is condemned already even though he hasn't been condemned experientially in the actual judgment yet.  

What I'm looking for is an actual perspective where it is clear that the New Testament rules out those counterfactual Christians coming before the Judgment seat and accepting Jesus' blood as atonement for their sins.


I think you're agreeing that one won't be saved apart from union with Christ, exemplified through faith, but that it doesn't have to happen in this lifetime?

My problem with this is that thus far you are just presenting it as pure speculation and haven't substantiated it yet.  Thus, in my opinion, you have to take the clear teachings...which suggest that unbelievers in this earth are "condemned."  

You can always say "what if," but that doesn't make a point.  If you want to get less "absolute" about the issue, what is the most resonable conclusion based on what we do know?  The most resonable conclusion, based on the texts I quoted and the lack of evidence even remotely suggesting some form of evangelistic conversion service at the judgment, would be along the lines of what I am proposing.  Unless you can show reasoning otherwise.    

Will

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Harvey

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« Reply #34 on: May 26, 2007, 06:42:12 am »

Will wrote: An unbeliever is condemned already; namely, before he even comes before the the judgment throne he has already been judged and condemned, there is no hope.

Well, our hope is only in Christ. That's what it means to repent.

Will wrote: I think you're agreeing that one won't be saved apart from union with Christ, exemplified through faith, but that it doesn't have to happen in this lifetime? My problem with this is that thus far you are just presenting it as pure speculation and haven't substantiated it yet.  Thus, in my opinion, you have to take the clear teachings...which suggest that unbelievers in this earth are "condemned." You can always say "what if," but that doesn't make a point.  If you want to get less "absolute" about the issue, what is the most resonable conclusion based on what we do know?  The most resonable conclusion, based on the texts I quoted and the lack of evidence even remotely suggesting some form of evangelistic conversion service at the judgment, would be along the lines of what I am proposing.  Unless you can show reasoning otherwise.


This somewhat confuses me because this is not what the Jewish nation believed about those outside the faith. Your suggestion that this is speculation that God would save an unbeliever at judgment doesn't mesh with the beliefs of the day when Paul wrote, so right off the bat I think Calvinism is more a reflection of the events that surrounded late Christianity than it is of early Christianity. As Christianity developed, it had to deal with motivational issues as to why would someone need to be Christian if salvation were at least possible after one's life had ended. In that sense, it's understandable why Christians would become stricter on this issue, and that's in fact what history showed what happened.

However, we now live in an age where we can look back and honestly examine the beliefs of the world in which Paul wrote, and this I think gives us good reason to think that in Romans 2 Paul was speaking according to the understanding of the day. In fact, Paul was much more enlighted since he saw the value in moral philosophy of the Greeks, and he saw that this was justification to talk about moral Gentiles apart from the law and Christianity. That was a great insight by Paul. Unfortunately this is lost by those who anachronistically interpret Paul by the events that came centuries later.

Just a couple of scriptures to show what the Hebrews believed about the Gentiles:

In the last days the mountain where the Lord's temple is located will be famous. It will be the most important mountain of all. It will stand out above the hills. All of the nations will go to it... He will judge between the nations. He'll settle problems among many of them. They will hammer their swords into plows.  They'll hammer their spears into pruning tools. Nations will not go to war against one another. They won't even train to fight anymore. (Isa. 2:2,4)


People from many nations will go there. They will say,  "Come, let us go up to the Lord's mountain. Let's go to the house of Jacob's God. He will teach us how we should live. Then we will live the way he wants us to." The law of the Lord will be taught at Zion. His message will go out from Jerusalem. (Micah 4:2)


"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14)


He continued, "At that time many men from all nations and languages will take hold of one Jew. They will grab hold of the hem of his robe. And they will say, 'We want to go to Jerusalem with you. We've heard that God is with you.' " (Zech. 8:23)


Even the Lord said:

What I'm about to tell you is true. On judgment day it will be easier for Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.(Matt. 10:15)


(It's hard to visualize how a judgment could be easier than the other guy if both of you are going to hell for an eternity of absolute pain.)

Anyway, I agree that none of us know what God's intention at judgment are. We have no idea how or what any of this means once we look beyond this physical confinement, but I just don't see the reason that we should drastically re-interpret Paul outside of the views of his day. Sure, Paul was expounding heavily on the meaning of the righteousness of Christ obtained apart from the law, but it is another matter to suggest that he's drastically re-writing first century views on eschatology. So, I don't this as speculation, I see it more as following hermeneutical precedent established long before Paul.

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Will

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« Reply #35 on: May 28, 2007, 09:06:53 pm »
The concept of the Gentiles being part of the covanent relationship between God and man, I don't think, implies some form of salvation at the judgment as you are purposing.  I don't see the relationship or understand where your taking this?  

You keep mentioning Romans 2 and the "moral Gentile," but I think you fail to take into account that the entire point is that, despite the Jew having the Law and the Gentile having the law, all are equally condemned because none are truly moral or follow those laws respectively (as made plain in ch. 3).  
Will

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Harvey

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« Reply #36 on: May 28, 2007, 10:30:13 pm »

Will wrote: The concept of the Gentiles being part of the covanent relationship between God and man, I don't think, implies some form of salvation at the judgment as you are purposing.  I don't see the relationship or understand where your taking this?

We have to go into the context of the times to understand Paul. It's not appropriate to anachronistically read Paul based on the view that the unconverted have no part in the kingdom of God. This wasn't the eschatological views of his day, as those scriptures indicate. Before we start talking about Romans, can we agree that the popular Jewish understanding at the time of Paul was that the majority of the Gentiles were to be saved at the judgment? In other words, if this is the popular understanding, then we should give hermeneutical priority to maintain this popular understanding unless such a hermeneutic is not feasible. Can we agree on this point?

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Will

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« Reply #37 on: May 29, 2007, 09:04:51 pm »

Before we start talking about Romans, can we agree that the popular Jewish understanding at the time of Paul was that the majority of the Gentiles were to be saved at the judgment?



No, I don't think we can.  The conversion of the Gentiles, eschatologically, Ihaven't seen to imply being saved at the actual judgment seat.  I suppose you need to define what the judgment seat means to you.

As you read Is. 2:2 it speaks of the nations coming to God in the "last days."  Or, Rom. 11:25, God has hardened Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles have come in.  What your implying just seem untenable or unsubstantiated to speak of this conversion as happening before the bema or great white throne judgment (despite the controversy as to the differences of judgments etc...).    


Will

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Harvey

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« Reply #38 on: May 30, 2007, 12:02:53 am »

Will wrote: No, I don't think we can.  The conversion of the Gentiles, eschatologically, Ihaven't seen to imply being saved at the actual judgment seat.  I suppose you need to define what the judgment seat means to you.

In first century Palestine the judgment referred to God judging the deeds of the living and the dead of all men. The book of Daniel describes this well:

9 "As I looked, "thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze.  10 A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened... 26 " 'But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. 27 Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.' (Dan. 12:9-10, 26-27)


2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. (Dan. 12:2-3)


Jesus also speaks of this judgment:

20 Jesus began to speak against the cities where he had done most of his miracles. The people there had not turned away from their sins. So he said, 21 "How terrible it will be for you, Korazin! How terrible for you, Bethsaida! Suppose the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon. They would have turned away from their sins long ago. They would have put on black clothes. They would have sat down in ashes. 22 But I tell you this. On judgment day it will be easier for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 "And what about you, Capernaum? Will you be lifted up to heaven? No! You will go down to the place of the dead. Suppose the miracles done in you had been done in Sodom. It would still be here today. 24 But I tell you this. On judgment day it will be easier for Sodom than for you." (Matt. 11:20-24)


Paul even speaks of this judgment in Romans:

15 They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts. The way their minds judge them gives witness to that fact. Sometimes their thoughts find them guilty. At other times their thoughts find them not guilty. 16 People will be judged on the day God appoints Jesus Christ to judge their secret thoughts. That's part of my good news. (Rom. 2:15-16)


I see no reason not to identify this event as speaking of the same event by each scripture, do you?

Will wrote: As you read Is. 2:2 it speaks of the nations coming to God in the "last days."  Or, Rom. 11:25, God has hardened Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles have come in.  What your implying just seem untenable or unsubstantiated to speak of this conversion as happening before the bema or great white throne judgment (despite the controversy as to the differences of judgments etc...).


I'm confused by the eschatology that you are attributing to the early Church (i.e., prior to 70 AD).  As far as I can see from the early writings of the Gospels, the epistles of Paul, the late prophets (e.g., Daniel), and even the apochrypha, the common view of the end time was that the Son of Man (later understood by Christians as Jesus) would descend from heaven, defeat the armies gathered against God, restore Israel, and judge humanity. Is this not your understanding? Do you think Paul would have known what a bema was?

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Harvey

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« Reply #39 on: May 30, 2007, 06:24:28 am »

That should be Pseudepigrapha (not Apochrypha).


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Will

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« Reply #40 on: May 30, 2007, 09:48:07 am »
OK, I don't disagree with your texts about judgment, but they don't, IMO, suggest that there will be conversions at that actual event.  You may suggest, which is debated, that there will be lesser degrees of punishment, but to suggest that this is referencing when "all the ends of the earth" will turn to God is stretching it.

When it speaks of "all the Gentiles coming in" before the hardening will be lifted on Israel, what does that mean?  It would suggest a longer period of time in the Gentiles being converted, and not one instance or time (before the final judgment).  

I'm confused by the eschatology that you are attributing to the early Church (i.e., prior to 70 AD).  As far as I can see from the early writings of the Gospels, the epistles of Paul, the late prophets (e.g., Daniel), and even the apochrypha, the common view of the end time was that the Son of Man (later understood by Christians as Jesus) would descend from heaven, defeat the armies gathered against God, restore Israel, and judge humanity.


I never suggested otherwise.  But, the end times happen over time, and you are attributing this conversion to the time of actual judgment before God at the end of the millennium (not sure of your stance on this).  After the ascension it was understood often that they were already in the "last days."  This logically follows the commission of Christ to evangelize all the ends of the earth.  

 
Is this not your understanding? Do you think Paul would have known what a bema was?


I don't understand your reasoning.  The reason I know about the "bema" is because Paul wrote about it?  So yes, I think Paul knew about it.  Further, when Jesus talks about the Judgment, such as separating the goat from the sheep, does He suggest that this is conversion time?  I don't think so, but rather up to that point, in the end times, there will be conversions but not at the actual judgment and condemning the goats to separation from God.    
Will

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Harvey

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« Reply #41 on: May 30, 2007, 11:00:05 am »
Okay, that's good. We're making some progress. I always appreciate your charitable interpretations of my text and it's good to see that we can agree on some basic points.

Since we agree that Judgment is being spoken about in Matthew 11, then why can't we agree that Jesus speaks quite clearly that the so-called evil societies of former times (e.g., Sodom) would condemn those who heard the Gospel for not repenting? Are you suggesting that 2nd century Chinese who are condemned to eternal hell--where all those nice grandmothers and their families suffer forever and ever like the Holocaust with God looking on in approval--would then condemn others for not repenting? I mean why would they do that since obviously they were unlucky to be born in a world with a Calvinist-understood God?

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Will

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« Reply #42 on: May 30, 2007, 01:40:04 pm »

I'm not following what you mean?  Quote the text your referencing where an evil society condemns another society for not repenting?  

Will

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Harvey

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« Reply #43 on: May 30, 2007, 01:44:24 pm »
[QUOTEl]41The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here. 42The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. (Matt. 12:41-42)



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Will

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« Reply #44 on: May 30, 2007, 02:00:15 pm »
Are you suggesting that 2nd century Chinese who are condemned to eternal hell--where all those nice grandmothers and their families suffer forever and ever like the Holocaust with God looking on in approval--would then condemn others for not repenting? I mean why would they do that since obviously they were unlucky to be born in a world with a Calvinist-understood God?


Thanks for the text you were referencing.

Your statement above doesn't make sense to me.

The Matt. 12 passages states that Nineveh will "condemn" other generations for not repenting.  The condemnation, however, I don't think you can say is that the Nineveh people act as judges, but that there presence at the judgment, as those who repented, stand as a condemning evidence for the later generations who didn't repent when they had something greater (Christ instead of Jonah).

Where does 2nd century Chinease people, who are condemned, fit into this?  

You ask, why would they do that, and I don't think they would or could because if they are condemned they haven't repented, and thus would serve no basis for condemning a different non repentant people.

Further, this is a tangent, but your description of people suffering like the holocaust with God looking down in approval is definitely a misrepresentation of the Calvinistic view.  Since this was originally on Romans 9, and Paul gives the concept of God making one vessel for honorable and another for dishonorable use, the judgment is not the condemnation of a flower pot to serve as a dog dish...but is the condemnation that the dog dish will not serve as the flower pot and that the flower pot will serve as the flower pot.    

Will