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Thread: The Destiny of the Unevangelized - Battle Royale VI - PilgrimAgain vs. 1013

  1. #16
    Pilgrimagain
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    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

  2. #17
    Post Modern Fundamentalist 1013's Avatar
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    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.

    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.

  3. #18
    Yxboom
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    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!

  4. #19
    Pilgrimagain
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    I conceed the battle. Well done 1013.

  5. #20
    Post Modern Fundamentalist 1013's Avatar
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    wow! neato.

    but I still have points to make

  6. #21
    Your powers are weak, old man. Knight's Avatar
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    Wow that was shocker! (not really).
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