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Yxboom
January 13th, 2003, 09:30 PM
Battle Royale VI - PilgrimAgain vs. 1013

Topic:

"The Destiny of the Unevangelized" Restrictivism vs. Inclusivism.

Have both combatants read, understand and agree to the battle Royale Rules (http://www.theologyonline.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2629)?

I need a post from each combatant stating "YES" regarding the rules.

This will be a 5 round battle and will be moderated by myself and Knight.

Combatants are you ready?

Yxboom
January 13th, 2003, 09:42 PM
ANY AND ALL POSTS ON THIS THREAD WILL BE DELETED UNLESS THEY ARE POSTED BY: Myself (Yxboom), an administrator (Knight, Becky, or Lion), PilgrimAgain or 1013. You may discuss Battle Royale VI here (http://www.theologyonline.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=&threadid=5239&perpage=15&pagenumber=1)

Yxboom
January 13th, 2003, 09:44 PM
After I receive a "Yes" affirming that each combatant understands the rules, Graceinme will flip a coin to determine who posts first, then that chosen combatant will have 48 hours to make his/her opening statement. Each combatant will then have 48 hours to make subsequent posts after the other combatant makes their post. You do not need to wait for me to officially end a round before making your next response.

This will be a 5 round battle (10 post total - 5 posts each).

Pilgrimagain
January 14th, 2003, 06:30 AM
Yes

1013
January 14th, 2003, 08:35 AM
Yes

Yxboom
January 14th, 2003, 10:39 AM
Battle Royale VI - PilgrimAgain vs. 1013

Topic:

"The Destiny of the Unevangelized" Restrictivism vs. Inclusivism.

This will be a 5 round battle and will be refereed by myself and Knight.

And the coin toss.....

Heads = PilgrimAgain
Tails = 1013

Flip....

>only if you all could see what I see :doh:<

Heads

Our first Gladiator on the clock will be PilgrimAgain.

PilgrimAgain will begin and is now on the clock. PilgrimAgain has 48 hours to make his first post and then 1013 will have 48 hours to make his first post after PilgrimAgain's first post has been posted. You do not need to take 48 hours to post your post and you do not NEED to wait for me to end a round. Simply post your posts when your ready as long as its your turn!

Be sure to use the Preview Reply button until you are completely satisfied with your response before posting to avoid any penalties.


ANY AND ALL POSTS ON THIS THREAD WILL BE DELETED UNLESS THEY ARE POSTED BY: Myself (Yxboom), an administrator (Knight, Becky, or Lion), PilgrimAgain or 1013. You may discuss Battle Royale VI here (http://www.theologyonline.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=&threadid=5239&perpage=15&pagenumber=1)

Pilgrimagain
January 14th, 2003, 02:57 PM
Surely, after the fall of the first man no knowledge of God apart from the Mediator [Christ] has had power unto salvation. (Rom 1:16; I Cor. 1:24). For Christ not only speaks of his own age, but comprehends all ages when he says; “This is eternal life, to know the Father to be the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent” (Jn 17:3). Thus, all the more vile is the stupidity of those persons who open heaven to all the impious and unbelieving without the grace of him whom Scripture commonly teaches to be the only door whereby we enter into salvation (Jn. 10:9)

The purpose of this exchange from my side of the ring is to show why Restrictivism is the orthodox and right view and why inclusivism fails.

I intend to do this through various means:

By showing through scripture how Christ himself (as well as the authors of the rest of the New Testament) teaches that his [Christ's] name must be called upon.
By arguing that inclusivism does not consider the glory of Christ's name nor the importance of "name" in ancient near eastern cultures.
By arguing the case from philosophical grounds pointing out that inclusivism comes about when we confuse what seems either painful or pleasurable to us humans, with what is actually good or evil (or Just and unjust if you prefer) in God’s eyes (ie. The idea that it is somehow not just for God send the un-evangelized to death because we are uncomfortable with that)..
by arguing that inclusivism undermines the great commission.


I would love to flesh this is out more in the first post but as I understand it, the first post is to be your statement of purpose and the rest is supposed to be the meat. However let me make just a few brief introductory remarks.

The quote at the top of the page is from Calvin (Institutes.Book 2. Chp. VI. pps. 341-342) and is the explicit positive argument based on the words of Christ himself for Restrictivism. That is to say, one must not merely be true to some human construct or understanding of what or who God is, but one must call particularly on the name of Christ to find eternal life. The scriptural teaching on this is explicit and clear:

John 17:3; 10:9; 14:6
Eph. 2:12
Acts 4:12
Rom. 1:20-21
1Cor. 3:11
1John 5:11-12


Sanders, Pinnock and all who argue for inclusivism (The idea that one does not have to know Christ for eternal life) would have us believe that there is no need for the name of Christ at all; that the cause of evangelism is a futile and indeed pointless one. Can this be so? Was Christ merely giving his disciples, and by extension us, busy work? Something to do that ultimately didn’t matter?

The fundamental idea that comes behind pure inclusivism (and it is this that I hope 1013 is arguing) is not that Christ, or Christ’s cross is unnecessary, but that our knowledge of that work of sacrifice is unnecessary. That is to say, the nature of Christ’s work is necessary in an ontological way but not an epistemological way(From Exclusivism to Inclusivism Thomas Finger, Eastern Mennonite Seminary. Catalyst Magazine). I argue that this is in clear contradiction to Christ’s own statement in John 17:3. Christ explicitly says that knowledge of not only the father, but of Christ Jesus is what ensures our eternal life and certainly the words of the Christ, God incarnate, have strong bearing on the modus operandi of God. It will also be important in the same context to discuss just what general and special revelation can do for the individual human estate.


Well I don’t want to tip my hand too far so with that being said I look forward to the rest of this exchange as I know 1013 to be a true person of faith with a keen intellect and graceful spirit. (I’m still gonna throw a few chairs though!)

P.S. While I will try to address 1013's arguments throughout the debate, I may save the bulk of criticism of his arguments for the last round. The idea behind this is that I want to argue the benefits of Restrictivism as much as I want to tear down the "vile stupidity" (Hey Calvin's words not mine!) of inclusivism. I am not decided yet I just want to inform you, dear reader, of my intentions so you do not think I am ignoring the arguments that are being presented. In other words, be patient, I have plan!

1013
January 15th, 2003, 09:47 AM
[I]The basis of salvation in every age is the death of Christ; the object of faith in every age is God; the content of faith changes in the various dispensations.”

-Charles Ryrie

Charles Ryrie was a dispensationalist, and I believe a restrictivist. I am neither, but in this short statement, he virtually articulates my position on the way in which God brings to men salvation from damnation. Inclusivism is a way to balance two truths spoken of in scripture. One of those truths is that Jesus is God’s method of making salvation possible at all; the second is that God has a desire to save all men. So though it is God’s desire for all men to come to understand who He is through Jesus Christ and to realize the potential for a relationship with Him, He is still resourceful to accomplish salvation from Hell for those outside the scope of the Gospel.

Now, though Inclusivism is in general founded upon those two truths, one of which is a standard of Arminianism, it must be noted that there are inclusivists on all sides of the Who’s Who of Salvation debate, among Calvinists, Molinists, and Arminians. Thinkers from all three of these camps span the range from universalism to restrictivism (the only exception being Arminian universalists as I’ve never heard of such a thing). For the most part, I do not intend to argue the universal salvific will of God but I will have a few points to make assuming some Calvinistic standards such as total depravity (though I do not have a strong opinion on that notion).

On that note, I will briefly mention here (as I do not intend for this to be a debate topic) that Inclusivism, though possibly not held by the majority of Christians, has nevertheless had a strong foothold in the tradition. Inclusivism has been around since the days of the Church Fathers as Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, and Ireneaus held to the belief. Thomas Aquinas is the most notable figure from the Middle Ages to hold to Inclusivism. In the reformation period, we have Zwingli, Calvin’s cohort. Closer yet to our time are John Wesley and today, that evangelical icon, C. S. Lewis, and Mr. Evangelicalism himself, Billy Graham!

A quick note here on what I mean by the Gospel. Geoff informed me that he holds this view but he believes that the Gospel is universally available. What I mean by Gospel is that historical message that explicitly informs us of who Jesus is and what he did for us.

I have arguments for this position coming from three different approaches. I have Biblical arguments, an argument concerning the specifics of other religions and cultures, and I have two arguments about philosophical consistency. I am going to throw all of these on the table, but I expect to focus on the Biblical arguments.

I’ll discuss Paul’s speech to the Athenians which I find to be one of the most powerful evidences of inclusivism. Almost as good is Romans 1-3. Also instructive is the conversion of the first Christian Gentile, Cornelius. These last two sections of scripture also have been used by the restrictivists to bolster their claims, but I intend to show they have not been observant enough. Also, I will discuss people from scripture who have been given the curious title of Holy Pagans. One of these characters I consider to be so problematic for the restrictivist position that citing that person may turn the tide on the argument. Slob that I am, though these are the main scriptures I will use to the end of arguing my case, I may add some other major scriptural considerations throughout. Also, I may bring some of these not on their own but in the process of critiquing Pilgrimagain’s arguments.

Concerning the argument on other religions, I’d like to mention that the term Inclusivismis applied to two different positions from different debates, though there is a connection. The term we use here has to do merely with the possibility of salvation for people outside of our religion. Inclusivism of religion is a position in the debate regarding the fact that there are numerous religions and it means that all religions have some validity but there is one supreme one that comes closest to the truth or describes it perfectly. There is a connection between the two forms of inclusivism. But I’d like to make a further distinction in the various positions held regarding inclusivism of religion. Let us say that there is a weak version of Inclusivism. This represents the least amount of validity of other religions that we can hold to for salvific Inclusivism to work. I will just tweak this a bit, though, to include cultures as well.

Now I’d also like to point out that there is a strong version of religious Inclusivism. This says that although there is one supreme religion, other religions and cultures may have some substantial knowledge about God to bring to the table that is unknown to the supreme religion. I will not be arguing this position except to point out that every Calvinist and anyone else who has a history intertwined with Classical Theism ought to tip their hats to this form of inclusivism. Why? Because pagan Greek thought has, for better or for worse, and I truly believe for better AND for worse, influenced Christian thought, and I do emphasize, as every classical theist should (though I am not one), that it happened for the better.

This is how I will state the weak religious inclusivistic position; In all cultures and/or religions, we may find some evidence of God’s grace and light at work which is not useless for the cause of salvation and relate this to salvific Inclusivism. In the absence of the Gospel, God will judge the peoples of the world on the basis of how they respond to that grace that is available to them. This is the grounds that I intend to argue citing evidence from other religions of God’s grace and light at work.

With regard to philosophical considerations, the first concern that I will bring concerns the notion of reprobation, which for my purposes will be defined as the guarantee or foregone conclusion of damnation before one is even born. I will cite problems with this in my discussion of biblical considerations, but with the philosophical argument, I will point out that this notion is inconsistent with human nature, specifically human nature apart from the corruption of sin that is an undeniably good part of God’s design still functioning in any reasonably psychologically healthy persons. The second argument calls restrictivism to account for sticky issues concerning the transition period during Christ’s life and death.

Yxboom
January 15th, 2003, 04:51 PM
Excellent opening Gladiators! PilgrimAgain is on the clock

Yxboom
January 15th, 2003, 04:58 PM
Shameless plug for Battle Royale VI t-shirts (http://www.cafeshops.com/cp/prod.aspx?p=tolstore.4351694)

Pilgrimagain
January 16th, 2003, 02:03 PM
What then? Are we any better off? No, not at all; for we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, as it is written: "There is no one who is righteous, not even one; there is no one who has understanding, there is no one who seeks God. All have turned aside, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, there is not even one." "Their throats are opened graves; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of vipers is under their lips." "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness." Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery are in their paths, and the way of peace they have not known." "There is no fear of God before their eyes." Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For "no human being will be justified in his sight" by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;

I want to start with this bit from Romans. I start here for two reasons:

[1] It shows clearly that righteousness comes through an explicit faith in Christ.
[2] It addresses the inclusivist idea that we will be judged according to the truth we did know.


Here in Romans 3 we see the estate of ALL of humanity described. Some would argue that this is merely hyperbole. I would argue that, though it seems exaggerated, it is not far off from the true description of humanity. There is not one righteous person. Even the person you think to be the holiest or most faithful has sinned at some point in life, even if it was merely a yelling match with his or her spouse. Even if it was only one lustful thought. Even Ghandi was guilty of doubting in what he proclaimed. The Dali Lama is guilty of political machination. Any non-Christian could easily point to those men as examples of pious living outside of Christ. There is not one person who has ever lived who has remained at all times faithful to the principles he or she holds. No one is capable of perfection in that way. The point is that even judged by how one holds to the truth he or she does know, he or she will still be found wanting in that light so a mediator is still needed. That mediator can only be Christ who was completely righteous because even the smallest failing is to fall short of the perfect righteousness of God.

To sum up, if we are to be judged by the truth we did know, and we were not faithful to it, (and none of us are) we will be judged as unacceptable. And thus Paul states clearly that righteousness is not merely through Christ, but through “faith” in Christ.

One should also note the very words of Christ himself. For my purposes here I will not waste time on verses that do not explicitly affirm the confession of Christ. The inclusivist will argue from silence in regards to verses like “I am the way and the truth and life, no man comes to father except through me.” The argument states that such verses make no mention of an actual confession or active knowledge of Christ. Of course the argument from silence is the worst possible kind. It is especially heinous in this matter because to make the argument from silence here is to ignore the total context of scripture. In other words the exegetical principle that “Scripture is always interpreted by scripture” must be ignored by inclusivists in order for them to make their argument. But I digress….

Let’s start with John 3:16. The inclusivist likes to use 3:17 as some sort of proof text for their point of view pointing to the idea that God would not let people be damned because this says God does not want it. What they do here is to try a smoke and mirror trick to get one to stop skip over vs. 16 and then never get to vs. 18. And why would they want us to ignore those verses? Let’s take a look…


16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him[b] may not perish but may have eternal life…….18. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Context, context, context. I believe it is our very own Jaltus who says that ‘With out context what you have is pretext.” And the context here clearly shows that that verse seventeen can not be used as an inclusivist proof because it is informed by the verse before and after it that define it.

The other interesting thing to note is that Christ himself affirms that not only will the person who does not believe in him NOT have eternal life, he or she will indeed perish for not believing it. The idea of punishment and reward based on explicit faith is voiced by the very mouth of God himself. Certainly that holds more weight than all the theologians we can muster to this argument to the contrary.

I am running short of space here but there is one more bit of scripture that I want to bring up because it described explicitly what salvation is for us…Rom 10:9-11


because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, "No one who believes in him will be put to shame."

This is the clear prescription for salvation and as far as I am concerned it is the one essential doctrine of any Christian church.. Let me be clear…to be a Christian one must confess with the lips and believe in ones heart that Christ was raised from the dead.

The inclusivist will argue that the verses do not say that one is necessarily condemned if one does not confess, it only offers a certain way of salvation.(Hey there’s a great idea, let’s teach people to hope that the door to Heaven will be opened on a technicality for us rather than trying with all our might to do what God has told us to do!) Do you really think that if there was another way God would have been so capricious as to have not mentioned it? The fact is that God, in his word, has laid out the plan and the epistemological model by which a person is saved. The terminology is clear and explicit, one does not have to dig deep to find the means of salvation, one does not have to twist the interpretation out of the text because it is plain and clear, the way God intends. On the other hand, the inclusivist must make an argument from silence. The inclusivist has to twist the interpretation out of the text. The principle of “Occurs Razor” applies here. That is to say, it is dangerous to make if more difficult than it really is. Also one must again use scripture to interpret scripture. John 3:16ff are the words of Christ on the very same subject. In Jn 3:16 Christ lays out the result of believing and of not believing. All bases are covered by Christ and Paul knows what those bases are. He is not in his silence arguing for the inclusivist model, rather he is simply concentrating of the positive half of what Christ had already explained.

Will we take our understanding of God from the clear and explicit teaching of Christ and then Paul or will we take our understanding from the well of silence?

To sum up:

If we are judged according to the truth we did know we will still be found lacking.
Christ and the writers of the New Testament stated explicitly the essential epistemology for salvation. All else is an argument from silence. (And can I say it again? "Vile Stupidity!")


(Because this is getting long I would point the reader back to my initial post for further examples of explicit scripture on the matter of restrictivism. Those scriptures need little interpretation because they are simply stated. I will come to them as needed in my responses to 1013 and for clarification of my own position but do not have the time or space to expound on them all here.)

Yxboom
January 16th, 2003, 02:28 PM
Moderator Interruption: I am instituting a 18000 character max message length rule which will be roughly the size of one DDW post on eschatology :D

1013
January 17th, 2003, 09:42 PM
There’s a detail lacking in Pilgrimagain’s first post, leaving a glaring problem in the Restrictivist picture. Just how is it that the Old Testament heroes, saints, and authors have this explicit knowledge of Christ?. They are certainly not damned. The answer is that you cannot call any faith that they have in Christ “explict.”. Now I will leave this issue as it is and allow Pilgrim the chance to explain this apparent hole in his picture instead of presuming what he might say.

Now in general, it is not simply true that the Inclusivist has no epistemic expectations of those outside the spatial/temporal boundaries of the Gospel. Salvation is made possible through either the acceptance of special revelation or general revelation. So the epistemic requirement depends upon their acceptance and expected response to the light that is available to them. Many restrictivists will point to Romans 1:19-32 to show that this knowledge can only condemn. Ironically, though, this may be one of the first verses an Inclusivist will think of to support his view. A libertarian may respond to this insisting it is nonsense that anyone can be condemned for not responding positively to what they couldn’t positively respond to. Chapter two goes on to say that they can indeed respond to this light positively.


13For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)

Pilgrimagain goes on to quote chapter three to show that explicit knowledge of Christ is necessary. Again, you could not call the knowledge of the Old Testament saints explicit. Secondly, he says it shows that we are all in the same boat. To this, I agree. Whether you’ve had special revelation or general revelation, all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.

Now Salvation comes through faith in Jesus, the incarnate creator God, the only God. So if they respond to the message that they have from the one and only God, why should they be denied salvation since they have faith in God, even though they don’t know He is the son.

So what does it look like for them to respond to God in faith?

Indeed, when Gentiles… do by nature things required by the law… they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts

That they should follow the law written on their hearts is the manifestation of faith. Now a Calvinist might cry foul and point us back to Paul’s insistence that there is noone who follows the law or is righteous, because after all we are totally depraved.

At this point I’d like to bring up the scriptures regarding Cornelius.

Scripture records that Cornelius’ gifts to the poor and prayers went up before God as a memorial offering. When Peter met Cornelius and learned how an angel came to him and told him to send for Peter, which coincided with Peter’s vision, Peter concluded "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.”

Now is this totally a non-sequitor of Peter’s or is Peter concluding that Cornelius is righteous (one who does what is right)? The latter seems most reasonable.

How can we take this in a way that coheres with what Paul said in Romans 3. I think the words of none other than the restrictivist John Calvin himself are helpful here.


4. They quote the saying of Peter as given by Luke in the Acts, "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him" (Acts 10:34, 35). And hence they infer, as a thing which seems to them beyond a doubt, that if man by right conduct procures the favor of God, his obtaining salvation is not entirely the gift of God. Nay, that when God in his mercy assists the sinner, he is inclined to mercy by works…Cornelius being endued with true wisdom, in other words, with the fear of God, must have been enlightened by the Spirit of wisdom, and being an observer of righteousness, must have been sanctified by the same Spirit; righteousness being, as the Apostle testifies, one of the most certain fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:5). Therefore, all those qualities by which he is said to have pleased God he owed to divine grace: so far was he from preparing himself by his own strength to receive it.
From Institutes of the Christian Religion

So Calvin says that the way that the total depravitarian gets around this description of Cornelius as righteous is to say that the righteousness is a manifestation of the fruits of the spirit and is a work of God’s grace! And I’d like to add that these categories do not belong to the damned.

So in Romans 2 where we see Paul mention that some Gentiles follow the law, this implicitly shows that God’s grace is being manifested outside of the bounds of the Gospel. So in the end, total depravity contributes to a great case for Inclusivism.

Now I’d also like to throw out one more biblical argument that should be sweet and short.

In Acts, chapter 17, we see Paul giving a speech before the Athenians.


18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, "What is this babbler trying to say?" Others remarked, "He seems to be advocating foreign gods."… 22Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:|sc TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.
24"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'
29"Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone--an image made by man's design and skill. 30In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."

I’ll quickly highlight the major goodies for Inclusivism within this passage.

The Epicureans ask if Paul is advocating foreign gods. His answer amounts to a negative. Of major significance is the altar to an unknown God. Paul says he is going to tell them about this God for whom they have an altar. Also Paul makes contact points with stoic philosophy and a Greek poet. All of this amounts to the message that God has not been absent from the Greeks but has been working with them.

Another important thing to observe is that Paul said God overlooked idolatry due to ignorance.

I consider the following especially problematic for restrictivism:


26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

So God arranged the nations so that men may seek him. Notice the very detail that Paul cites as source of hope becomes a means for reprobation within restrictivism or at least an indicator of reprobation. As a matter of fact, according to restrictivism, the times set and the exact places for the nations work out to the opposite effect that Paul had in mind.

Now Pilgrimagain has already noted a “technicality” that the Inclusivists may attempt to use to argue their case. I’d like to mention that this technicality is at least a reason for a glimmer of hope for the unevangelized. But I do not have a glimmer of hope for the unevangelized. I am convinced that God is resourceful to bring opportunities of saving grace to all the peoples of the world even though his primary and most favored method of dispensing grace, evangelism, has not been universally available to all peoples. I consider these biblical considerations that I’ve given to be more than powerful evidence of God’s universally available grace.

Yxboom
January 17th, 2003, 09:59 PM
Yxboom Newsflash: Due to circumstance, PilgrimAgain will officially be back on the clock starting Monday 1/20.

Yxboom
January 20th, 2003, 07:24 PM
PilgrimAgain is officially back on the clock with 48 hours to respond.

Pilgrimagain
January 21st, 2003, 01:27 PM
Originally posted by 1013
There’s a detail lacking in Pilgrimagain’s first post, leaving a glaring problem in the Restrictivist picture. Just how is it that the Old Testament heroes, saints, and authors have this explicit knowledge of Christ?. They are certainly not damned. The answer is that you cannot call any faith that they have in Christ “explict.”. Now I will leave this issue as it is and allow Pilgrim the chance to explain this apparent hole in his picture instead of presuming what he might say.

This is something that several people have brought up but I am not aware that the Restrictivist argument has ever said such a thing regarding Jews. The Restrictivist position holds that since the comming of God incarnate the name of Christ must be confessed.

The Restrictivist argues that in both the Hebrew Scriptures and in the New Testament the requirement is always faith. For Abraham and the Patriarchs it was faith that the promise of slavation through messiah would be fulfilled. For those after Christ it is faith in the fulfillment of that promise, faith in the name of Jesus.

In both instances it is a specific faith in a specific thing. It is a specific faith in YHWH from two different places in time. (Pre incarnation and post incarnation) I personally have never read an argument from the Restrictivist point of view that stated flatly that Jews before Christ have no hope of salvation. That flies in the face of scripture. However, the Restrictivist would and does argue that the saving faith of the pre-incarnation Jew is in the promise of slavation through the Messiah. That's the whole point of Jewish faith isn't it? The long awaited messiah who would deliver them? Did they understand exactly what that would look like? No. But still they knew that God would provide for their deliverance and it was faith in that future provision that saved them and was accounted to them as "righteousness" just as it was said of Abraham.

So that argument fails against Restricitivism becuase Restricitivism makes no such claim about pre-incarnation Jews. At the most this inclusivist criticism is a straw-man born of a well intentioned mis-understanding, at the worst it is manipulative.


Now in general, it is not simply true that the Inclusivist has no epistemic expectations of those outside the spatial/temporal boundaries of the Gospel. Salvation is made possible through either the acceptance of special revelation or general revelation. So the epistemic requirement depends upon their acceptance and expected response to the light that is available to them.

To which the restricitivist points out that no one is perfectly faithful to the truth they do know so they are still found wanting in front of a perfect God. You have also yet to show how anyone was ever saved through "general revelation." Even Cornelius came to faith through a direct special revelation of God through God's messenger angel.


Many restrictivists will point to Romans 1:19-32 to show that this knowledge can only condemn. Ironically, though, this may be one of the first verses an Inclusivist will think of to support his view. A libertarian may respond to this insisting it is nonsense that anyone can be condemned for not responding positively to what they couldn’t positively respond to. Chapter two goes on to say that they can indeed respond to this light positively.

In what way? It says we will get according to what we have done. It even goes so far as to say that "those who have sinned apart from the law will perish apart from the law (vs.12) and all who sin under the law will be judged according to the law." But the continuing argument made in Romans is that even the Gentiles prove that they have the law by what they do. It claims the law is on their hearts. The point of the whole chapter is that the requirment is the same for both Jew and Gentile. There is no special circumstance that can be used as a loop hole for one who has not claimed Christ.


Pilgrimagain goes on to quote chapter three to show that explicit knowledge of Christ is necessary. Again, you could not call the knowledge of the Old Testament saints explicit.

I just want to point out that this was dealt with in the first paragraph ie, the Restricitivist argument does not make the claim that Jews before Christ are condemned. They are saved through the same faith but from different points of view in a temporal sense. Their faith is still in the provision of deliverance through God's own Messiah.


Secondly, he says it shows that we are all in the same boat. To this, I agree. Whether you’ve had special revelation or general revelation, all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.

Isn't it just swell when we can all get along like that! ;)


Now Salvation comes through faith in Jesus, the incarnate creator God, the only God. So if they respond to the message that they have from the one and only God, why should they be denied salvation since they have faith in God, even though they don’t know He is the son.

And your assumption here is that , when addressing someone in special revelation, in regards to salvation, the one and only God would forget to mention that Salvation has been provided through Christ? Or that he would forget to send that message of faith through some one else? (I'll come back to this when I respond to your iesogesis of Cornelius)


That they should follow the law written on their hearts is the manifestation of faith. Now a Calvinist might cry foul and point us back to Paul’s insistence that there is noone who follows the law or is righteous, because after all we are totally depraved.


Exactly. Since they have the law on their hearts, they are held responsible for it. Remember, to break the law in even the smallest way is to break it entirely. Thus the need for a Messiah.

And now we come to Cornelius.


Scripture records that Cornelius’ gifts to the poor and prayers went up before God as a memorial offering. When Peter met Cornelius and learned how an angel came to him and told him to send for Peter, which coincided with Peter’s vision, Peter concluded "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.”

Now is this totally a non-sequitor of Peter’s or is Peter concluding that Cornelius is righteous (one who does what is right)? The latter seems most reasonable.

Let us remember that we are not talking about Cornelius' integrity but his salvation. Which indeed is a totally different thing.

And let us remember that God sent a special revelation to Cornelius via an angel and then via the preaching of Peter. The point is not that God saves "whoever" based on "whatever" but that God makes salvation available to all regardless of race based on the work of Christ that they have faith in. Remember this must be read in the context of explicit scripture which tells us that we must "Believe in our heart and confess with our tongue." To wit, Peter preaches the gospel to Cornelius and the other Gentiles upon which they confess Christ and are baptized in Christs name:


While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word.
45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles,
46 for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said,
47 "Can anyone with hold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?"
48 So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

Even Cornelius responded in faith to the Gospel, as must we all. This is not a simple case of some unbelieving sap who just happens to be a good guy. Cornelius, being righteous sought out God the way we must all do and in the end, confessed Christ and was baptized.


The Epicureans ask if Paul is advocating foreign gods. His answer amounts to a negative. Of major significance is the altar to an unknown God. Paul says he is going to tell them about this God for whom they have an altar. Also Paul makes contact points with stoic philosophy and a Greek poet. All of this amounts to the message that God has not been absent from the Greeks but has been working with them.

Of course God is not absent. How could the creator be absent from his creation? This of course is not the same thing as saying that God saved them. If this was true then there was no need for Paul to have gone and preached to them of the true nature of this God. With out the gospel presentation thier knowledge of this unknown God would have not been enough to have saved them. Thus their continued idolatry at the feet of the other statues.


I consider the following especially problematic for restrictivism: "26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us."
So God arranged the nations so that men may seek him. Notice the very detail that Paul cites as source of hope becomes a means for reprobation within restrictivism or at least an indicator of reprobation. As a matter of fact, according to restrictivism, the times set and the exact places for the nations work out to the opposite effect that Paul had in mind.

I don't notice that at all! In fact this verse goes to Restricitivism not against it. The idea is that general revelation prompts men to reach out for God. But reaching for God and being saved by God are not the same thing. What the inclusivist has done is confused the idea of "searching" for truth with actually "finding" truth. And I quote Bono: "I still haven't found, what I'm looking for." To wit, I was driving around for hours this weekend "searching" for an exit I knew was there. All the searching did no good until I finally got out the map and found it. I say it again, searching is not the same as finding. The mere search for a thing does not garuntee the finding of a thing. Thus again the need for God to reveal himself in a special way to Cornelius and then the need for Peter to preach the Gospel to him and the end result of confession and baptism. Thus the need for Paul to go and explain exactly who the "unknown God was" so that the eyes of the pagan would be opened to the special revelation of God and the Spirit of Grace.


Now Pilgrimagain has already noted a “technicality” that the Inclusivists may attempt to use to argue their case. I’d like to mention that this technicality is at least a reason for a glimmer of hope for the unevangelized. But I do not have a glimmer of hope for the unevangelized. I am convinced that God is resourceful to bring opportunities of saving grace to all the peoples of the world even though his primary and most favored method of dispensing grace, evangelism, has not been universally available to all peoples. I consider these biblical considerations that I’ve given to be more than powerful evidence of God’s universally available grace.

What one considers and what actually is are often two very different things. At the very least I think it is evident that one has to bring an apriori to the text to find the conclusion that the inclusivist finds. The inclusivist looks around at this world and sees that it is painful to consider that many will not find heaven. This pain then becomes the motivation of the inclusivists interpretation, rather than what might be glorifying to God or what God may have actually hinted at. At this point the inclusivists interpretation is eisogetical and not exogetical. At this point the focus of ones theology becomes man centered and not God centered. This is because at this point the inclusivist prefers to paint a picture of warm fuzzies from human point of view rather than a picture given by God that may make us uncomfortable.

Let's get exegetical for a moment. Look at all of this in the light of history and the whole of scripture. Christ sitting with the disciples at the table on that last night said that his broken body and spilled blood were given as signs of a new covenant. Historically speaking this was meaningful to those disciples because it called to their minds the covenant that YHWH made with Abraham. This time though the sacrifice that symbolized what would happen at the breaking of the covenant was God himself rather than animals. This hearkens back to Treaty/Covenant forms of the ancient near east. Back then as well as now what is needed for a treaty or covenant to be valid? The verbal consent of both parties. (Indeed in this day and age it must be written!) With out the consent of the other party, the covenant that Christ offers in his own sacrifice is meaningless because a covenant, by definition, is written in regards to 2 or more parties with both parties agreeing to the terms. Without our confession of the Christ, we have no part in the covenant.

To sum up:

Searching for God is not the same as finding God or being found by God. It is the finding(or the being found by) of God that saves not the search.
Even Cornelius and the pagans worshipping the unknown God needed the special revelation of God and they needed the message preached to them and upon hearing that message confessed the name of Christ and were baptized.
Even though Cornelius was a good man that is not the same as being a "saved" man. The point of that story is that the Gospel message is to be sent to all people. What they do with it is a whole nother thing!
What seems painful to us sinners is irrelevant to the truth God gives. To interpret scripture in a way that is sympathetic to our apriori soley to compensate our aprior is to eisogete, not exegete.


Peace,
Pilgrim

1013
January 23rd, 2003, 01:19 PM
Let us remember that we are not talking about Cornelius' integrity but his salvation.

There is something that we frequently take for granted in these discussions. What does salvation mean? In my first posts, I have at several points referred to this issue as salvation from damnation. That is because when scripture speaks of salvation or being “saved” it is not necessarily speaking of salvation from damnation. The word is used in scripture in a wide variety of ways such as being made whole, physical healing, deliverance from a storm, and a proper relationship with God (I think Sozo, the TOL member has made this point as his handle is the Greek word in question). Arguably, the sense of the word here is experiencing a full relationship with Christ, the absence of which does not mean damnation. If there’s one place that we see solid evidence, it is precisely in these passages concerning Cornelius because Paul concludes “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.” (NASB) (ESV says “is acceptable to him.”)

The conclusion is unavoidable. He is speaking about Cornelius, who prior to “speaking words by which he might be saved,” (Acts 11:14) was acceptable to God. Those simply aren’t the words with which you would describe the damned. As Calvin observed this, let us all take note of the momentous event where I am in agreement with John Calvin against Pilgrimagain. :D


Remember this must be read in the context of explicit scripture which tells us that we must "Believe in our heart and confess with our tongue."

Ah, now who’s practicing eisogesis? “Must” is not “if.” Surely I agree that we must do this when the full truth has been revealed to our hearts. As for the explicitness of scripture, scripture explicitly says “if,” not “must.”


Now I raised the issue of the Old Testament Jews and how they could possibly be saved without the explicit knowledge of Christ. The answer given was this:


However, the Restrictivist would and does argue that the saving faith of the pre-incarnation Jew is in the promise of salvation through the Messiah. That's the whole point of Jewish faith isn't it? The long awaited messiah who would deliver them? Did they understand exactly what that would look like? No. But still they knew that God would provide for their deliverance and it was faith in that future provision that saved them and was accounted to them as "righteousness" just as it was said of Abraham.

Now I find this highly dubious for several reasons. Frequently the New Testament authors speak of the prophets, Moses, and Abraham as looking forward to the coming of Christ. But this is hardly a prescription for salvation from damnation and has more to do with demonstrating that Jesus is the culmination of the orthodox faith of the founders of Judaism. There are no doubt countless Old Testament heroes for whom we find no evidence of Messianic anticipation and their stories do not support this claim. Of course we find it in the Old Testament, just not universally through all the characters that we meet, Jewish or Gentile.

Many of these heroes of the faith have a special status in that they did not come to know God via belonging to the covenant people. These people are referred to as holy pagans. They where not a part of the line that descended from Abraham nor have they been given the law.

We will start with probably the most important of the holy pagans, Melchizedek, whose priesthood was a model for the messianic priesthood. Secondly, we have Jethrow, the father-in-law of Moses. His priesthood originated somewhere in the pagan world outside of what we know to be kosher. But this man was allowed by Moses and Aaron to give sacrifices to God. Furthermore, the Jewish legal system of a hierarchy of judges was his innovation.

There is also Job who was found blameless and upright in God’s sight. Even after Job crossed the line, he ended up on good terms with God.

Now, maybe a messianic prophecy could be found within Job (then again, even if it were, that doesn’t mean Job knew about it!), but other than the point of citing three holy pagans who did not hold any messianic anticipations to our knowledge, I’d like to pose this question: Why should we believe that there are no Melchizedeks or Jobs within history after around 33 A.D?

Now returning to my original point that a messianic anticipation was by no means a litmus test for the faithful, I’d like to raise the issue of the prostitute Rahab. Rahab is recognized as a hero AND example of the faith by the author of Hebrews and James. She has an honored place in the lineage of Jesus. But to insist that she was saved because of a messianic anticipation is a colossal stretch.

Regarding Paul’s speech at Athens:


Of course God is not absent. How could the creator be absent from his creation? This of course is not the same thing as saying that God saved them.

However, the notion that God has reprobated all of their ancestors, friends, and loved ones to an eternity of punishment sabotages the effect of the message that God has been working with them closely. It is entirely out of character.


If this was true then there was no need for Paul to have gone and preached to them of the true nature of this God.

If that were true, salvation as Paul preached to them is merely about escaping damnation. But that is not true because knowledge of Christ brings us closer to God. That proximity is not necessarily the difference between eternal damnation and the escape from the damnation.


Thus their continued idolatry at the feet of the other statues.

Which God overlooked in the past.


The idea is that general revelation prompts men to reach out for God. But reaching for God and being saved by God are not the same thing.

Paul didn’t stop with the hope that they would merely search for him but also said that God himself hoped that they would find him. It is quite odd that God should do something for some purpose that he knows will result in precisely the opposite effect. (As an aside, Acts 17:27 is such a wonderful verse where both the Open View and Inclusivism meet.)


With regard to covenants:


Back then as well as now what is needed for a treaty or covenant to be valid? The verbal consent of both parties. (Indeed in this day and age it must be written!)

But God is not limited to looking upon external signs but rather looks upon the heart.

Also keep in mind that many of the official covenants were initiated between God and the patriarchs. Those born afterward were God’s people by virtue of being descendents of Abraham and Sarah and then Jacob. Their children needed no official verbal agreement.

God made covenants with Adam and Noah and all men corporately fall under that covenantal relationship.

There was no salvation clause within the Abrahamic covenant and yet that is the covenant which provides the model for the covenant that Christ has made with us. The means of entrance into that covenant, specifically faith, was something that one woman Rahab had taken advantage of, although the content of her faith was very sparse and barely informed by the revelation to the Jews.

Yxboom
January 23rd, 2003, 01:25 PM
Great posts Gladiators and excellent use of the post lengths. PilgrimAgain is back on the clock for round 4

Be sure to show your support for our Gladiators! (http://www.cafeshops.com/cp/prod.aspx?p=tolstore.4351694)

Pilgrimagain
January 25th, 2003, 03:30 PM
I conceed the battle. Well done 1013.

1013
January 25th, 2003, 04:46 PM
:D wow! neato.

but I still have points to make :noid:

Knight
January 26th, 2003, 12:56 AM
Wow that was shocker! (not really).