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Speculating about Salvation
« on: February 04, 2013, 11:25:13 am »
I've read the last answer by Dr. William Craig to the question of salvation concerning the tragedy in Santa Maria, Brazil. And this is not the first time that I think: do we have to speculate about who is going to be saved or not? Can't we simply recognize that we're not in position to judge that, and trust in God's justice, wisdom, and mercy?

Yes, I'm not denying the importance of us to seek and to live the salvation that Christ offered through his sacrifice. This is a way of growth in our spiritual lives and a reason to glorify God's love for us. This is central and is also the reason for preaching the gospel believing that it is necessary. But this is also very complex to determine after someone dies. Paul says in the Epistle to the Romans (1:20 and 2:15) that the evidence for the calling of God is available for everybody who open their heart, ok. But it's not difficult to think about conditions that don't favor somebody to freely come to Jesus - cultural background, education, lifetime, etc. For the problem of cultural background, Dr. Craig has already proposed that God can consider in his omniscience if one person WOULD have responded to him in ideal conditions and judge this person based on that. Can't it be applied to other conditions too? And, if it can be applied to other conditions, can't we recognize that we're not in position to judge this kind of thing? Instead of believing that you know that some person is going to hell - an idea that has already moved many people away from Christianity -, can't you simply trust that God will know how to judge everyone?

Once I've read something that is not very prudent to count with, but that can't be denied: God will save who He wants to (considering his mercy). If He wants to save *everybody* in the end, He can do it. How can we speculate about that? Romans 11:33 says: "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable {are} his judgments, and his ways past finding out!".

P.S.: Dr. Craig answered something compatible with this idea, but instead of saying that we don't have to torture ourselves thinking about the salvation of these people, he said that God wouldn't let those people who *will not be saved* to die if they would have responded to His calling if they lived more.

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Sahem

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Re: Speculating about Salvation
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2013, 09:34:46 am »
Hello Lenorado (and everyone),

salvation that Christ offered through his sacrifice

What is meant by salvation? Heaven? I have a problem with the concept of "faith only". Consider two hypothetical individuals:

  • Person A is an atheist. He does not believe in the afterlife. He is highly ethical, honest, just and compassionate. He does good for no return.
  • Person B believes in Christ in order to be saved. He wants to go to heaven. That's all.

Isn't A is more innocent (altruistic or less selfish) than B?

God can consider in his omniscience if one person WOULD have responded to him in ideal conditions and judge this person based on that

I can't see how God can “know” our future decisions. If He knew (with absolute certainty) that Adam & Eve will rebel (even before He created them), then where was the free will? If they were destined (or determined) to sin, then why were they punished?

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Re: Speculating about Salvation
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2013, 08:53:32 pm »
Hello Sahem!

These are two basic topics in Christianity.

1) Salvation is not through works, so that nobody can boast. In God's standard we're all sinners and depend upon His grace.

2) The foreknowledge of God (that is asserted by the Bible) doesn't revoke our choices and their importance for ourselves!

You can find out more about these issues searching a bit more.

Thank you for your reply!

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Re: Speculating about Salvation
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2013, 07:11:43 pm »
I share the difficulties you have with middle knowledge, Leonardo; but, before I explain myself on this, I'd like to answer Sahem on "faith alone".

1) Sola fide

It is worth noting that the only occurrence of "faith alone" in the bible is in James 2:17:
    Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

The works that Paul mentioned are likely to be the works of the Mosaic law. This is the point of view of the Catholic Church and NT Wright (and more generally the new Pauline perspective). That "faith" without works is no passport to salvation is clear in Paul's advice to the Philippians (2:12):
    Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
(This is not a "protestant vs. catholic" issue, if understood correctly. What Luther referred to as faith is the fuel of love and charity.)

2) Scientia media

Middle knowledge relies on the fiction of an uncaused essence that could be transposed to different causal contexts. But in fact, every one of your actions is ultimately attributable to causes preceding your birth.

Does this negate the reality of choice? No, your choice is real; but who you are is not ultimately the product of your choice.

Does this render God's judgement on sinners unjust? Not if it is a judgement to chastise rather than to consign to eternal torment.

In the Evangelical Universalist, Robin Parry (alias Gregory McDonald) notes that, in the Apocalypse, 2 groups of people at 2 different places are hurled into the lake of fire and brimstone only to reappear later (presumably purified) in the New Jerusalem.

God is love. He is present even in the Cheol according to the psalmist; and even in the Gehenna according to Orthodox Tradition. The Latin idea of eternal torment (thanks Tertullian! thanks Augustine!) makes Yahweh a Moloch. An atheist's rejection of this repugnant image leaves a righteous "God-shaped hole" (CS Lewis' expression) in her worldview; this is closer to christianity (the belief in the god manifested in Jesus) than the belief in a god who hates sinners, a position I like to describe as "christian islam".

I'm aware of the fact that arminianism claims to reconcile the love of God with eternal damnation (with the word "eternal" taken in the topological meaning of "unbounded to the right" rather than "pertaining to eternal justice" (see Jude 1:7)). This is at the cost of ignoring the reality of determinism and limiting the power of God, whose will it is to save all, as expressed repeatedly in Paul's letters and the Hebrew Bible.

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Asking_A_Question

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Re: Speculating about Salvation
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2013, 08:26:00 pm »
Quote
Middle knowledge relies on the fiction of an uncaused essence that could be transposed to different causal contexts. But in fact, every one of your actions is ultimately attributable to causes preceding your birth.

In fact? That's a fact? Seriously?

Also, what's up with the emotionally charged language about hell and universalism? There's no need for.that and it distracts from a rational appraisal of the Bible's teaching.

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Re: Speculating about Salvation
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2013, 03:23:37 pm »
Let me restate this more rigorously (and more irenically):

I am not trying to dispute the question whether middle knowledge is effectively an attribute of God, but the theory that God uses it to make transworld judgments about individuals, because this presupposes that an individual's personality remains essentially unchanged through transplant into different possible worlds. The theory doesn't state clearly under what conditions personality is preserved, as far as I can tell. Is a requirement that all genes are unchanged? What about upbringing, culture, and all the rest of an individual's history?

This leads me to the "thorny question of determinism", to use Thomas Talbott's expression.

We are partially the product of self-definition, with every moral decision affecting who we become, and partially the product of numerous factors we don't control, not least our genetic heritage. However, when considering that the first self-defining decision an individual makes is the effect of factors outside her control, the inescapable conclusion is that there is 0% of pure self-definition in an individual's personality.

This observation can lead to some form of agnosticism or buddhism, or to religious determinism, as in calvinism or islam.

It could also lead to Christian universalism. And I say "could" rather than "can" because most universalists don't come to this position in order to justify God with respect to determinism. As a matter of fact, all universalists I have read (Thomas Talbott, Gerry Beauchemin, Robin Parry and Keith DeRose) aim first and foremost at preserving logical and scriptural consistency in the face of the following dilemma, one of whose horns has to go in order to achieve consistency:
  1. God wants all to be saved.
  2. God is all-powerful.
  3. Some will never be saved.

But, apart from this question, universalism has important positive by-products, one of which is to accommodate determinism (or more generally the contingence of free-will), and another is to open the possiblity for no sufferer in this world to be a pure victim of evil, since it will eventually be given to all to experience as a blessing and a joy "the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom 8:39).

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Asking_A_Question

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Re: Speculating about Salvation
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2013, 03:43:31 pm »
The dilemma isn't.much of one since there.need not be a reason why one needs to go.

Also, you do know most calvinists are not universalists, right? So it's not.like one entails the.other

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Re: Speculating about Salvation
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2013, 03:30:26 pm »
Not a dilemma? How can you maintain (1) and (3) without denying omnipotence?

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Asking_A_Question

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Re: Speculating about Salvation
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2013, 05:00:08 pm »
There is literally tons of literature on this. For instance, you can look up John Piper's articles if you are interested.

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Steven Shea

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Re: Speculating about Salvation
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2013, 07:03:55 pm »
Not a dilemma? How can you maintain (1) and (3) without denying omnipotence?


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