Hat tip to Gundek.
Posts Tagged ‘Theology’
Posted in Religion, tagged Almshouse, Anglicanism, Bafflement, Bishop, Church, Comedy, Conversion, Darkness, Daventry, Divine, Entitlement, Eternity, Gundek, Hell, Humanism, Humor, Hunger, Internet, Lord, Marriage, Mitchell and Webb, Peace, Peasantry, Philosophy, Religion, Satan, Seeker, Sketch Comedy, Spirituality, That Mitchell and Webb Look, Theology, Vestry on February 5, 2014 | Leave a Comment »
Posted in Religion, tagged Bible, Books, C. S. Lewis, Charismatic Worship, Christianity, Church, Church of Christ Scientist, Conversion, Discipleship, Faith, God, Heterodoxy, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jesus, Knowledge, Orthodoxy, Reading, Reformed, Reformed Thrology, Religion, Theology on February 4, 2014 | 13 Comments »
Let’s say you have a friend who has recently converted to Christianity after a long period of spiritual turmoil. He grew up in a heterodox church (think Jehovah’s Witnesses, Church of Christ Scientist, etc.) that read the Bible but was largely untethered from the orthodox body of Christ, so while he grew up reading the Bible, it was from a theological perspective that is now of only limited use.
He’s intelligent and curious, and a fairly voracious reader, so he has done some solid homework and now knows a lot about Christianity, but doesn’t really feel like he knows Christianity from the inside, as a believer. So he is now looking for books to read that will not only help him to become truly grounded in the fundamentals of all areas of discipleship but that will also point him toward a long-lasting and deep faith in Jesus Christ.
For the record, he reads the Bible daily, he has already read most of C.S. Lewis’s widely-known works, so far he is generally inclined toward a Reformed theology, and he is a little antsy about charismatic worship. But again, he was raised outside of orthodox Christianity, so he is aware that he may not know what he doesn’t know.
So what books would you point him towards?
(PS, he’s me.)
Posted in Religion, tagged Anselm of Canterbury, Apostle, Atonement, Baptism, Believeing Christ, Blessings, Christianity, Church, Community, Devotion, Dialogue, Doctrine, Doctrine and Covenants, Endurance, Exaltation, Faith, Gethsemane, Gift of the Holy Ghost, God, Grace, Heavenly Father, Heresy, History, Interfaith Dialogue, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Justice, Justification, Law, LDS, Mercy, Miracle of Forgiveness, Mission, Mormonism, Obedience, Pelagianism, Pelagius, Pluralism, Prophet, Protestantism, Repentance, Salvation, Satisfaction, Sin, Spencer W. Kimball, Stephen E. Robinson, Theology on November 5, 2013 | 12 Comments »
[After posting this, my beautiful and sexy wife pointed out the huge hole in my thesis, so I am going to re-tool the post and re-post it in the near future, but I am leaving it up for now even though it is massively flawed.]
So, in light of some frustrating discussions lately with Mormons about the nature of the Atonement (most particularly this one), I think I have managed to nail down two competing Mormon Atonement narratives or models:
1. Heavenly Father requires your perfect obedience in order for you to qualify for exaltation (“There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—-and when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” D&C 130:20-21). Mortals are born innocent and fully able to obey Heavenly Father’s commandments, but we have free will and we are subjected to temptation, and so each of us will inevitably, sometimes, break the commandments. Jesus came to earth and suffered in Gethsemane to pay the price for all of our sins and transgressions, and because of his sacrifice, we are able to go through the repentance process and have our sins effectively erased, so that we are counted in Heavenly Father’s eyes as if you had kept the perfect standard (so mercy satisfies the irrevocably decreed demand of justice). However, over time, in the eternities, we will stumble and fall short less and less, and eventually progress to where we, like Heavenly Father, no longer need repentance.
Put simply, we qualify for exaltation by never deviating from the standard of perfection. If and when we do deviate, the Atonement erases the deviation so that it is as if we had never sinned. So our exaltation is something that we earn by perfect obedience, and to the extent we are unable to be perfectly obedient, Jesus takes up the shortfall if we have faith in him, repent and have our sins washed away by baptism (and regularly renew our baptism through taking the sacrament).
I think that this model is internally consistent, and generally more supportable from Mormon sources across the standard works and the words of latter-day prophets and apostles. I think that it reflects a Mormonism that can be found in Kimball’s Miracle of Forgiveness. I suspect that older Mormons, Mormons who live in more homogenous Mormon communities and more traditionally-minded Mormons are more likely to espouse this first model. If you had asked me to explain the Atonement as an adolescent or early on my mission, I would have explained it in terms of this first model.
I also think that this first model is thoroughly Pelagian.
2. Heavenly Father wants to bring about our exaltation, which is a thing of infinite worth and so it comes with an infinite price. We have no means of paying an infinite price, so justice demands that we can’t be given an infinite gift that we did not earn. Jesus came to earth and suffered in Gethsemane, paying an infinite price on our behalf, essentially purchasing our exaltation for us. We can then take part in the exaltation that Jesus has bought with his sacrifice when we fulfill the requirements that he has set: faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the holy ghost and enduring to the end.
In this model, we do not directly qualify for exaltation. We qualify for it only indirectly through Jesus, who pays the entire price to obtain it, and then grants it to us (or gives us access to it) if we, in a separate transaction, meet the requirements he sets out. Mercy thus satisfies justice twice: once when Jesus pays an infinite price for our exaltation that we cannot pay, and once when he gives it to us for a price we can.
I also think that this second model is generally internally consistent, but I do not think it is as consistent with historical Mormon sources. We could probably have an argument about the degree of tension it has with other Mormon ideas, doctrines and texts. I think that it reflects a contemporary, PR-conscious and interfaith-dialogue-minded Mormonism that emphasizes the role of Jesus Christ and the Atonement, minimizes historic Momronism, and is influenced by Stephen E. Robinson’s Believing Christ. I suspect that younger Mormons and Mormons who live in diverse, pluralist urban centers and Mormons who are more engaged with postmodern culture are more likely to espouse this second model. I would not be surprised if, in a generation or two, this second model becomes overwhelmingly the norm among Mormons and will be taught consistently from the pulpit as if it had always been the norm. I would have explained the Atonement in terms of this second model towards the end of my mission and as a Mormon adult.
I’m not sure if the second model is Pelagian or not (kinda doesn’t matter since it’s still based on a completely and thoroughly heretical Christology). I suspect that Mormons who espouse the second model would assert that it is consistent with Protestant ideas about salvation by faith through grace, but I think you would have to look hard to find a Protestant who would agree.
Given the Mormon tendency to eschew systematic theology, I think that many Mormons probably hold oth models without giving it a lot of thought and without thinking about whether the models are consistent (not that Mormons lack the intellectual rigor to do so; I think they are just more likely to approach the atonement devotionally instead of theologically, and be satisfied* with any illustration or explanation of the Atonement that is sufficiently moving, reverent, and not obviously inconsistent with other Mormon doctrine).
To my Mormon readers: Do either of these models fairly represent your beliefs about the Atonement? Which one do you think is the most consistent with scripture and the teachings of latter-day prophets and apostles? Do you think that these models are mutually exclusive? If not, why not?
To everyone else, let me know your thoughts and observations. Let’s discuss.
*Did you see what I did there?
Posted in Religion, tagged Arminianism, Art, Augustine, Calvinism, Christianity, Confessions, Eastern Orthodoxy, Free Will, Geneva, God, Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin, Lutheranism, Predestination, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Salvation, Soteriology, Theology, Titian on October 23, 2013 | 5 Comments »
I don’t think that a Christian is necessarily required to come down one way or another on Calvinism vs. Arminianism (or Lutheranism or whatever the Catholics and Eastern Orthodox think about it), but the fact is, I’ve been wrestling with issues of predestination, free will and the nature of God pretty fiercely for months now, and I keep coming to the same conclusions.
It doesn’t help that I have been reading Augustine’s Confessions this year, either. Next up: the Institutes!
No offense to my Arminian friends, but I just don’t think that the Arminian position is tenable at all. It eats itself.
Posted in Religion, tagged Bible, Christianity, Cultural Norms, Culture, God, Hebrew, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Norms, Old Testament, Patheos, Religion, Roger E. Olson, Texts of Terror, Theology on July 17, 2013 | 3 Comments »
Roger E. Olson has written an interesting post compiling what he believes to be “Every Known Theistic Approach to Old Testament ‘Texts of Terror’“:
The phrase “texts of terror” usually refers to stories in the historical books of the Hebrew Bible that describe God as commanding his people to slaughter groups of men, women and children and “show them no mercy” (to quote on such command).
Here I will lay out all the theistic approaches to interpreting these texts I am aware of. Every “other” approach I know about seems to me to fall under one of these—as a version of it. You may be aware of others. Feel free to post them here.
As you can see, in my opinion, all have serious problems. This is almost certainly a question that will have to wait for answer until paradise or the eschaton.
I can’t think of any other approaches than the ones he lists, and I think he does a good job of succintly summarizing the problems with each approach. For myself, I don’t know where I come down on the issue (maybe Olson’s “wait and see” approach is the best after all), but I do feel strongly that it is important to seriously grapple with the Bible’s difficult passages. Although I am not necessarily advocating for Biblical inerrantism, I think we fall into an immediate and serious error when we simply discard the passages that make us uncomfortable (whether they are these “texts of terror” or any other passage that conflicts with our modern cultural sensibilities). I think we are obligated to seriously grapple with every word of the Bible. Yes, it is difficult. But to do otherwise means subordinating the Bible, and ultimately God, to our modern cultural sensibilities. If we want to do that, nobody’s going to stop us, but we’ll be building a house on a sandy foundation, and in any case we shouldn’t keep kidding ourselves about being Christians.
Posted in Religion, Spirituality, tagged Agriculture, Bible, Christ, Christianity, Crucifixion, Eagles, Farming, Flood, Food, God, Good News, Gospel, Heaven, Homosexuality, Jerusalem, Jesus, Jesus Christ, King James Version, Kingdom, Kingdom Of God, Latin, Lesbianism, Life, Lightning, Lot, Luke, Marriage, Ministry, Noah, Noah's Ark, Pharisees, Rapture, Sermon, Sodom, Son of Man, Suffering, Theology on June 15, 2012 | 16 Comments »
Let’s talk about the Bible, fratres et sorores.
Luke 17:20-21 says,
20. And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
21. Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
This passage comes from the end of a big section of the Gospel of Luke that contains things Jesus taught on the way to Jerusalem, in the transition between his earlier Galilean ministry and the final road to his Crucifixion.
For the sake of context, verses 20-21 are the lead-in to a longer sermon about the coming kingdom:
22. And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.
23. And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them.
24. For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.
25. But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.
26. And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.
27. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
28. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;
29. But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
30. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.
31. In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back.
32. Remember Lot’s wife.
33. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.
34. I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.
35. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
36. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
37. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.
What I really want to focus on, though, is that bombshell in verse 21: “for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you”.
So think about it, chew on it, put it in your gospel pipe and smoke it for awhile, and then come back and leave a comment about it. Feel free to let your theology hang out boldly, whatever kind of a dox it is. I’ve got a follow-up I’ll post once we get some ideas in the air.