"passive" in justification; "not passive" in sanctification

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by jonathan.borland, Mar 26, 2015.

  1. jonathan.borland

    jonathan.borland
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    Hi Baptistboarders,

    I'm reviewing some curriculum we'll be using in theological education in an international context. It's from the World Hope Bible Institute, directed by Stuart Sheehan. I'm just reviewing the first lesson on Salvation, which is written from a reformed perspective but advises to receive those who adhere to the view of the "heroes" of the other side.

    I don't know who wrote the material for this particular lesson on salvation, but I'm concerned about its over use of language that is not directly biblical.

    For example, "man is completely passive" in "regeneration, justification, and adoption," but this does not mean that "man does not benefit from these realities in this life or fail to respond to what God has accomplished" (p. 12). Okay. But why use this "passive" and "not passive" language? Why not use actual biblical terminology? Even with the passive terminology, man cannot fail "to respond," which is active terminology. And then we have ...

    "Christians are not passive in sanctification" (p. 17). Now what is meant by this? Does it mean that Christians exert effort (and thus theoretically could receive some credit) in it? If not, why could they not also be "not passive" in the 3 mentioned aspects above and also not receive credit? This kind of non-biblical terminology can become confusing.

    "Faith ex nihilo" (p. 10). This is not biblical language. 2 Cor 4:6 is mentioned, but faith does not appear there. If one instead says "light out of darkness," then why not also say that God "enlightens" every man who enters the world? But then light cannot mean "faith" specifically in those cases, but must mean something else.

    "Sinners will not respond rightly to the Gospel on their own" (p. 13). Yet in the Bible the introduction of the Gospel changes everything, since the gospel itself is the power/ability for salvation. Thus putting "Gospel" and "inability" on the same line is not consistent with the biblical example, and sets up confusion for the sake of ... what? Calvinistic terminology? It would better to say something like: "Sinners cannot be saved without hearing and responding to the gospel in faith." Now that is biblical.

    Perhaps some of these terminology practices can be discussed in this thread in a civilized manner.
     
    #1 jonathan.borland, Mar 26, 2015
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  2. JonC

    JonC
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    It’s a hard line to follow. For example, Paul clearly teaches that our righteousness (to include our labor) is not us but is Christ in us. But at the same time he encourages us to work and strive, to take up our crosses, etc. (he presents submission to God but not passivity of action as a Christian lifestyle). While stating that it is not us, Paul still does not teach a passiveness in this regard (in fact, Paul often stresses the opposite).

    Similarly, Scripture teaches us that salvation is a work of God and not of man. Yet we are to seek, to be persuaded, and to believe. We are to come and to follow. I understand and agree with why we say towards salvation we are passive, yet Scripture is not always so isolative. My understanding of salvation being passive in terms of human passivity is a submission to God (and an active work of grace on the part of God towards those being saved). I am not sure that “active” and “passive” necessarily conveys biblical doctrine to an audience. It has led to heretical/unorthodox thinking in past generations (e.g., Daniel Parker in the early 19th century) and, I believe, has the potential for facilitating error now (apart from explanation, anyway). Perhaps biblical language (and, of course, Scripture) supplemented with explanation is preferable over explanation supplemented by Scripture.

    Anyway, that's my 2 cents.
     
  3. Deacon

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    Is a baby passive in its birth? …Or is the baby a passive participant?

    I agree, it’s not a term I’d use in the process but I can understand its use.
    From their statement of faith [LINK]:

    As stated in the SOF, I am in full agreement.

    Rob
     
  4. preachinjesus

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    Sounds like monergism taken to an extreme. Maybe that's what some will do to try to circumvent any other options.

    The language isn't helpful. Passive vs active doesn't seem to work. I'd have to see the curriculum before commenting more. Thanks for bringing this up.
     
  5. jonathan.borland

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    "Key Idea: Salvation is a work of God that results in a human response." (p. 13)

    This is unclear. It sounds like it is saying that one is saved in order that he may respond in faith. If so, this is completely the reverse of the biblical doctrine that we must believe, and that by believing we might have life (in that order). So I would say that "Salvation is a work of God that results from faith in the gospel," since the gospel is the power unto salvation.

    "God commands sinners to receive the Gospel. (Human responsibility) . . . God's commands to sinners establish human responsibility to believe the Gospel." (p. 13)

    This is the first point under salvation resulting in a human response. It doesn't really follow unless the power for believing is present in the gospel itself for all who hear the gospel. But saying that one must be saved in order to respond (i.e. believe in the gospel?) negates the human responsibility aspect.

    "Saving faith is a miraculous creation of God through the Word of God . . . . In some sense, God desires that all men be saved . . . . God summons faith into existence where there was no potential for it before . . . . God only summons saving faith into existence through the Word of God (the Gospel)" (p. 13)

    This "summoning saving faith into existence" is not biblical terminology. Refs. used are Heb 12:1-2; Rom 10:17; 2 Cor 4:6. More biblical terminology would be something like, the presence of the gospel introduces the power unto salvation where there was no power for salvation before, and one comes to faith by hearing the gospel and through the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
     
  6. PreachTony

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    That sounds a lot like the stance taken by at least one of the more ardent (hyper)Calvinists on this forum. His statement, though, was that the gospel is permanently hidden to the lost, therefore only the saved can receive the gospel at all. I was finally able to ascertain that he basically held to the notion that people are born saved or born damned and nothing could change that.

    If this is indeed a more Calvinist program, in terms of election/predestination, then you are quite correct.

    If they are true to their first stated point (that you listed) then they cannot reasonably hold to this position. It is more likely a "feel-good" text. If salvation is required for faith, and only some are saved, and salvation comes only from God (as we know it does, though man must believe in order to be saved, per the scriptures) then God cannot be said to have wanted all men to be saved. In a free will / free grace sense, this statement works. In a system of divine election, this statement is false.

    David said of salvation, "restore unto me the joy of thy salvation," meaning it is from God. But God the Son, when He walked as incarnate man, said of faith, "thy faith hath made thee whole," implying faith is of the individual.
     
  7. Deacon

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    Jonathan, I think the problem lies with the big picture way you're reading the author.

    You are reading 'Salvation' while the author of the material is looking at particular aspects of our salvation, "regeneration, justification, and adoption".

    As believers, we don't participate in our birth (regeneration), our justification or our adoption. These are characteristics of our identity that God bestows upon those who believe.

    Rob
     
    #7 Deacon, Mar 27, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2015
  8. Darrell C

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    It seems that there is a failure to include positional sanctification and focuses on progressive sanctification only, in which it is true that Christians are not passive, though we also have to include the other aspect of progressive sanctification in which Christians are passive in, that is...the work God does in our lives as we grow.

    Only in positional sanctification is the Christian completely passive. Not in progressive sanctification.



    Understanding John 1 to refer to the life God gives every man as well as understanding that due to spiritual inability that the natural man can only understand the things of God when they are revealed to them (i.e., Peter's confession of Christ prior to the revelation of the Mystery of Christ) helps us to direct our attention to that enlightenment and what it means in the progressive nature of revelation.

    First, we see that Paul teaches in Romans a general principle that God has revealed Himself to every man and woman through three primary means: internal witness, Creation, and direct revelation (the Word of God whether spoken or written).

    Secondly, we look at the new ministry performed by God among men in the Ministry of the Comforter, Who came to convict men of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and in particular...in regards to Jesus Christ. In other words, in this Age we know that men understanding the Gospel is an impossibility apart from the Holy Spirit enlightening them to understand. While we know the Spirit of God has enlightened men in Ages past, He did not enlighten them...

    ...about the Gospel.

    The common misconception I think many people make is to think that the Ministry of the Comforter...always yields positive results. That is not the case, as we see several passages that confirm men rejecting Christ with full knowledge. That doesn't mean they heard the Gospel somewhere and rejected it, but that they have been at some point enlightened by the Comforter and rejected Christ within that Ministry.

    And their punishment will be, the Writer of Hebrews states, more severe than those that rejected the Covenant of Law.


    The bottom line is that all men and women are born natural and separated from God, having no ability to understand the spiritual things of God apart from God enlightening their darkened minds. One can hear the Gospel on the radio, in a sermon, or even from the Bible itself and be completely unaffected...if God is not revealing it as truth to them.

    We do not separate the Gospel of Christ from the very Ministry that He taught would begin when He returned to Heaven. In other words, we do not look to the ability a man has to comprehend when we are told he does not have that ability, nor do we neglect that it was for this purpose that the Comforter was sent when Christ Returned to Heaven...and not a day before.


    John 16:7-9

    King James Version (KJV)

    7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

    8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

    9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;



    God bless.
     
  9. Van

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    Interesting topic.

    1) If we define biblical language as words and phrases found in scripture (or English translations of scripture) then we needlessly limit our vocabulary in my opinion. Now if the idea is putting forth views that are contradicted in scripture, I would say "unbiblical assertions."

    2) Man is passive in regeneration, justification and adoption. This seems true, God regenerates us, causes us to be born anew. God justifies us, we do not justify ourselves by works of righteousness. And God will adopt us, the redemption of our bodies, at Christ's second coming. The issue of course comes is our understanding of what prompted God's monergistic action, did He credit our faith in Christ as righteousness, or did He chose us unconditionally and give us faith via irresistible grace.

    3) Christians are not passive in sanctification. First anytime we use that world we must clarify, are we speaking of positional sanctification, being transferred for the realm of darkness into the Kingdom of His Son or progressive sanctification where, after God sets us apart in Christ, we then strive to serve Christ and become more like Christ, earning reward. Obviously progressive sanctification is active, we participate to some degree, entering heaven abundantly, or for those, if our efforts do not pass muster, enter heaven as one escaping from a fire.

    4) Yes, you must check every reference cited as supporting the view. Often, these citations do not even address the issue. 2 Corinthians 4:6 may be referring to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, providing the light of Christ to believers. And thus may have nothing to do with pre-salvation faith which God then credits as righteousness or not, Romans 4:4-5/24.

    5) Yes, the assertion that all fallen individuals are unable to respond to the gospel at all times is unbiblical (Matthew 23:13).
    The gospel is the power of God for salvation, provided neither God nor our own past actions have hardened our heart so we are as the first soil of Matthew 13.

    6) Yes, sticking with what scripture actually says is the only sound way to teach biblical doctrine.
     
  10. Reformed

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    Active vs. passive? Not the best terms unless one is talking about Christ's active and passive roles in the Atonement. God is the one who predestines, elects, calls, and justifies, but that does not mean the individual just sits there as a detached party. The sinner has to repent and believe. He is actively involved with that, although he is passive in predestination, election, calling, and regeneration.
     
  11. Iconoclast

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    :thumbs::wavey::thumbs:
     
  12. Van

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    2 Thess 2:13 explicitly states we are chosen for salvation through faith in the truth. Thus we are not passive in conditional election. If God credits our faith in Christ as righteousness, as worthless as it may be, then our action to trust in Christ makes our contribution to God's choice active.
     
  13. robustheologian

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    Correct.

    Conditional election??? How did you get that from "chosen for salvation through faith in the truth"? "Through" (the Greek "en") means "in" or "with" not "because of" or "on the account of" (which is the Greek "dia"). The only way that verse would be talking about conditional election is if it said "chosen for salvation BECAUSE (the Greek "hoti", "anti" or "dia/dioti") of faith in the truth"...which it does not say.
     
    #13 robustheologian, Mar 30, 2015
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  14. Rippon

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    Gobbledygook
     
  15. Van

    Van
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    You have got to love them folks! Now a person whose handle is "robust theologian" claims "chosen for salvation through faith in the truth" does not mean chosen for salvation because of faith in the truth!" No one said it did. The inability to remain tethered to reality is a consistent attribute of Calvinist acolytes.

    Next, the "robust theologian" claims "en" cannot be translated as "because of." And not one Greek self proclaimed expert posted that was false. Not one!!!!!

    The general rule is if a Calvinist is attempting to support his or her view using grammar, the argument is probably specious. Look at Matthew 26:31, 33, and Galatians 1:24. In each verse you will find "en" translated as "because of." The NET footnote at Galatians 1:24 says "The prepositional phrase ἐν εμοί (en emoi) has been translated with a causal force."

    And remember not one Greek expert provided this refutation.

    Another usage of "en" is instrumentality. This refers to the instrument or means by which something is accomplished. In this usage, "en" is often translated as through. In this case (2 Thess. 2:13) the idea is we were chosen by means of the Spirit setting us apart in Christ. And yet another usage of "en" is "on the basis of" or in reference to something. Here we are chosen on the basis of God crediting our faith as righteousness.
     
    #15 Van, Mar 31, 2015
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  16. robustheologian

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    Lol..."on the basis of"?!? Wow, you find maybe the only 3 uses of "en" to mean "because" and you're a Greek scholar....that's what took you so long to respond. :laugh:

    1. Find one use of "en" meaning "because of" outside of the phrase "en emoi" or "en soi". The translation of "en emoi" and "en soi" translated as "because of me" and "because of you" is a grammatical anomaly (check out "Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics" by Daniel Wallace...I doubt you will though). Find one more example (you can't).

    2. How could "en" in 2 Thess. 2:13 mean "because" when in the same verse Paul uses "hoti" as "because"? (Do a word study on 1 Thess. 5:13 for Pauline use of "en" in relation to pronouns of person...I doubt you will or know how to though)

    3. With your same "expert" logic, you are saying God chose us "because" the Spirit sanctified us. So you're saying sanctification comes before election which means you are saying sanctification is prior to justification. How much sense does that make? (someone like you probably doesn't see an issue with that)

    You should also do a Greek word study on Daniel 5:27...it accurately describes your predicament.
     
    #16 robustheologian, Mar 31, 2015
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  17. Van

    Van
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    LOL, RT makes a material false statement, and then asks for more proof.

    Then, and for the second time, RT presents the idea that en means because of at 2 Thess. 2:13. So yet another material false statement.

    How many times is "en" translated as through? RT makes one specious argument after another.

    Did I claim to be an expert? Nope, so yet another material false statement. Anyone who pays attention to RT is ill advised.

    And finally, RT asks me to do a Greek study in Daniel. ROFLOL
     
  18. robustheologian

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    Are you delusional? As you can see, it was you that made the ill-educated claim that another usage of "en" is "on the basis of/because"...not me.
     
    #18 robustheologian, Mar 31, 2015
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  19. Van

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    Good Grief, now RT equates "on the basis of" with "because of."

    I did not make material false statements, RT did.

    Now he claims I am delusional for wanting to stick to the truth. Go figure.

    If we put this avalanche of misdirection aside, and return to the issue, 2 Thessalonians 2:13 says we are chosen conditionally, through faith in the truth. That is why the Calvinist is making smoke and zigzagging. LOL
     
  20. robustheologian

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    :laugh: Now I know why your exegesis is so off...you lack basic vocabulary, reading and comprehension skills. It all makes sense now. How can I expect you to understand what the Bible says when you've never picked up a dictionary. :laugh:

    http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english-thesaurus/on-the-basis-of

    I'll let everyone else follow your posts to see how du......un-learned you are.
     

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