Defending systems or the Bible

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Revmitchell, Feb 25, 2014.

  1. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
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    This thread is not about the merits of theological systems such as Calvinism or Arminianism etc. But this thread is about whether or not we are just locking ourselves into systems and then coming to scripture with presuppositions which cause us to desire to defend systems rather than scripture.

    Do you agree with the statement above?
     
  2. Aaron

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    No. .........
     
  3. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    May I ask, can you agree with these seven points?

    • The Grace of God in justification is an unconditional free gift.
    • The sole means of receiving the free gift of eternal life is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whose substitutionary death on the cross fully satisfied the requirement for our justification.
    • Faith is a personal response, apart from our works, whereby we are persuaded that the finished work of Jesus Christ has delivered us from condemnation and guaranteed our eternal life.
    • Justification is the act of God to declare us righteous when we believe in Jesus Christ alone.
    • Assurance of justification is the birthright of every believer from the moment of faith in Jesus Christ, and is founded upon the testimony of God in His written Word.
    • Spiritual growth, which is distinct from justification, is God’s expectation for every believer; this growth, however, is not necessarily manifested uniformly in every believer.
    • The Gospel of Grace should always be presented with such clarity and simplicity that no impression is left that justification requires any step, response, or action in addition to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
    Those aren't mine, but I'd rather not disclose who wrote these until after you answer the question.
     
    #3 thisnumbersdisconnected, Feb 25, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 25, 2014
  4. Revmitchell

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    For example, does the word "all" get interpreted based on proper exegesis or context in many places in scripture or is it interpreted based on a presupposition as a result of a system?


    Feel free to give your own examples if you think systems can taint our view of scripture rather than an objective look at scripture apart from our systems.
     
  5. Revmitchell

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    Take a look at how we may define what "faith is:


    Do you think that faith may often be defined by a system or by an objective view of scripture outside of a system?
     
  6. Baptist Believer

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    I know you were not asking me, but I sure don't think those points are accurate.

    Faith is an active act of trust as a response to the calling of Jesus to reorder our lives in terms of His life (repentance) and not simply being "persuaded" about a certain view of the atonement. Assurance of salvation is found in that transformed life that we live because we are interactively working with God in the expansion of His kingdom.
     
  7. quantumfaith

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    :thumbs::thumbs::thumbs:
     
  8. JamesL

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    Regarding the original question, and how it related to the quoted material, I would agree that we all approach scripture from a predisposed position, at least in the beginning. Let me explain.

    We are taught about Christ (and in general about God and the bible) from someone who holds to a theological system. Therefore, our beliefs concerning Christ, the gospel, the character of God, and various theological issues are shaped by the one who first taught us.

    Then when we start to read the scriptures for ourselves, we see in them what we were taught. This is only natural, in my opinion. Many times, maybe most of the time, believers never subject themselves and their beliefs to the scrutiny of another teaching or develop an open-minded approach to scripture.

    I can assure you that one of the scariest things on earth (if we're convinced that our beliefs have eternal implications) is to consider that what he or she believes might be wrong. I have been there a couple of times. Once was when I left a works-based, legalistic, performance religion when I received the gospel of grace. I was then exposed to Lordship Salvation byway of Christian radio, and followed headlong after it.

    I then read a book that is offered in the online bookstore at the Grace Evangelical Society, and my entire approach to scripture was forever changed.

    I will say, though, that after a while of interacting on the GES discussion board, and reading their Grace Notes and such, I had a weird encounter. I had subscribed to what they promoted as saving faith:

    “the conviction that He is the Guarantor of eternal life for every believer.” (Wilkin)

    But then I saw an article by Dennis Rokser (Duluth Bible Church) which accused Zane Hodges (and GES) of advocating a "crossless" gospel. I started to investigate the charge, and found that I understood Wilkin's definition of saving faith a whole lot differently than how he meant it.

    I started a discussion there, trying to get clarification of this crossless accusation, and was accused of trying to creep in and corrupt their brand of "free grace". I was accused of adding to the simplicity of the gospel, because I was arguing that faith is not centered on an ambiguous promise that "someone" called Jesus is offering eternal life.

    Their position was (maybe still is) that a man need not know, understand, or even believe that Jesus is God, that He died on a cross, the purpose of His death, or anything else in scripture about who Christ is. Simply believe that He is offering eternal life.

    My position then, and now, is that we believe in a Jesus who is God, who came in the flesh, who died an unjust death as a substitution, who rose again, who is coming back, et al. Not that believing those things about Him are addendums to believing in Him, but that those things about Him make up who He is. And that without believing who He is, and what He's done, etc, then we have a different Christ who cannot save.

    I forcefully argued against the GES group up until my account was deleted by someone other than me. It didn't take a long time to get kicked off their site, though.

    At the time, I wasn't sure if maybe I had misunderstood much of what they taught, or if maybe they had abandoned much of what I had learned from them along the way.

    I hope this isn't considered irrelevant to the discussion, as it struck me a little lopsided to see the JoGES tag in your quotes. I do, however, agree with much of this:

    So the question as to whether faith itself is a meritorious deed expresses a misunderstanding about the nature and definition of faith. Faith is not a deed at all. So, it cannot be a meritorious deed. It is not a decision, but a realization that the message or promise of eternal life is true. It is what happens when we are convinced of the truth. It takes no decision and no action of the will at all. It is not a deed.


    I believe that the Holy Spirit is the One who enlightens our minds with the light of Christ. And when that happens, we are convinced of the gospel. And when we are convinced of the gospel, we believe the gospel. This is how someone becomes a believer, and thus justified.

    I don't believe we become convinced of truth, then walk away to ponder it, then "decide" to believe something we're already convinced of. That defies all rational thought, IMO.

    Totally passive, the work of the Holy Spirit. I do believe, however, that the truth can be rejected by someone who will not allow themselves to become convinced.

    Trying to define faith within the confines of a system is detrimental, to be sure, because the systems are usually defining or redefining words to best contribute to doctrinal consistency.

    Much like trying to define Election from within the confines of a system. Detrimental to think that elect means chosen to receive saving grace, whether one believes it to be arbitrarily by God's sovereignty, or according to the foreknowledge of what we would choose. Both of those positions are like arguing whether a bicycle has three wheels or four. Totally out of biblical context
     
  9. JamesL

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    I say amen.

    I will say that I'm not real crazy about "response" doctrines, as most of them ultimately place the burden upon a potential convert to "make a decision" or offer some sort of active ingredient from his own effort.

    Not the case in what you quoted; and in the context of the entire statement, I would care not to argue that miniscule issue of semantics. The thrust of the statement leaves every impression that Christ has completed the work of redemption, and one need only believe upon Him for eternal life. Then subsequent to that, God fully expects us to grow to maturity, and to be conformed to His image.

    That's good stuff
     
    #9 JamesL, Feb 26, 2014
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  10. saturneptune

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    Hebrews 11:1 is the best description of faith I have seen.
     
  11. Rippon

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    The word translated into English has to be defined by the context. The usage of faith as found in Heb. 11:1 is a very different thing than the faith discussed in Jude 1:3 for instance.
     
  12. Aaron

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    No. Their "faith is a response apart from works" statement (which sounds like (faith is a work apart from works) would have to be clarified.
     
  13. saturneptune

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    ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
     
    #13 saturneptune, Feb 26, 2014
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  14. pinoybaptist

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    somebody already agreed. so, who wrote these words ? or do you mean, by "answer the question", to debate and discuss until this turns into a Cal-Arm argument (which really is inescapable) which is exactly what Rev doesn't want. ::)
     
  15. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    It was meant as an illustration. The author is Fred Lybrand, who posted it in his blog a couple years ago. He is also the author of Back to Faith: Reclaiming Gospel Clarity in an Age of Incongruence. It actually fits the Rev's subject matter perfectly. Look at the responses to my post and, as this is a small community and this is generally known, their views on the doctrinal division on this board. We have one or two who typically oppose Calvinism also disagreeing with this viewpoint. We also have a couple who, though not completely supporting the views, not exactly rejecting them, either.

    As the blurb on Amazon reads, "Maintaining veneration for Calvin, this work resolves inherent contradictions to the Gospel found in the Reformed tradition. Lybrand reiterates 'faith alone in Christ alone,' and works accompanying salvation are 'normal but not necessary' while cogently requiring the reader to reexamine theological traditions. My prayer for the mindful Reformer: Read and wrestle with these words. Be willing to abandon all, for the clarity of the Gospel cannot be undervalued."

    Precisely how we should approach doctrinal challenges, regardless of what they are. We should not be so married to doctrine that we begin to sound like a doctrinal defense instead of a biblical defense, because the two are in many cases exclusive of one another. Respecting Rev's request that this thread not devolve like so many have, I would encourage us to focus on that point, not the narrower debate/argument/war that usually takes place in this section of the board.
     
  16. Yeshua1

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    Would say that ALL of us have to some degree what I call "religious gridlock", as we can't help but have preconceived views on just what the bible teaches us, and the theological system that we align ourselves with does color it at times!

    Would also say that we cannot isolate certain passages, as we have the take in the entire council of the word of God, so in some passages things might be taught to support or not our notions, but if looked at based upon entirety, really does not!
     
  17. Yeshua1

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    Would sau that we do not have that faith inherit in us, its a gift from God towards us to enable us to receive jesus and get saved BUT

    main point is that we MUST realise that ANY theological system is NOT inspred by God, NONE are perfect in all they affirm, its just some are closer to the truth then others!
     
  18. salzer mtn

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    No I don't agree.
     
  19. Luke2427

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    Calvinists interpret the word "all" the way any one approaching it with good sense would. Arminians are the ones whose system drives them to see "all" in the Bible in some weird way that it is almost never used.

    "All" almost never means every single person on planet Earth. Almost never.

    All people can see that President Obama looks weak in his dealing with Putin.

    Except... all people cannot see. Many are blind. Others have never HEARD of Obama or Putin.

    The whole WORLD watched as the twin towers fell.

    Except that hundreds o millions of people were asleep when they fell. Hundreds of thousands live in such isolated regions that to this DAY they have never even HEARD of the Twin Towers or of Osama Bin Laden or any such thing.

    All and whole world almost NEVER mean every single person.

    The Arminians are the ones whose system presses them to interpret it oddly.

    Calvinists accept the natural sense of the word as they read the Scripture.
     
  20. Van

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    Yes, I agree with the OP. Truth is difficult to ascertain because we process new information on the basis of what we filed as truth in the past. Thus if we have accepted the KJV, those who say it is riddled with error are seen as dirty lowdown Yankee liars.

    Humility is a friend of truth, because if we consider that what we had thought was true, might be mistaken, then we can consider new information more objectively, rather than shoot the messenger.

    "All" means all of the parts or components of the whole in view. If I am playing marbles, and say I am going for all the marbles, I am referring to only those marbles in my game circle, and to say "all" means the marbles in China is just as wrong as saying some of each kind of marble is in view, rather then all of them in the circle.

    "Faith" is used at least four different ways in scripture. One, faith is used to refer to Christ Jesus, two, faith is used to refer to the body of information, i.e. what we know about God and His Christ, which we strive to protect from corruption, three, our trust and conviction that something is true, such as the promises of God, and four, a measure of the strength of our adherence to something as true, such as to be faithful or not. Thus saving faith, our trust in the promise of Christ merges with our love and devotion toward Christ.

    One way of understanding faith would be to compare faithful faith from which works of devotion flow, with faithless faith, the dead faith rejected in James.
     
    #20 Van, Mar 18, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 18, 2014

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