Unity

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by skypair, Apr 3, 2007.

  1. skypair

    skypair
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Messages:
    4,657
    Likes Received:
    0
    Folks, it seems we must revisit this topic for the sake of the body of Christ.

    Eph 4:1-3 -- "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

    In this first section, Paul calls on all believers to walk worthy of their calling to Christ. That is, there is a natural bond of peace between the saved by which we should be lowly, meek. longsuffering, anf forbearing in love toward on another.

    Eph 4:13 -- "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children..."

    In the second section, Paul encourages us to aspire to a common faith and knowledge of the Son of God. This is the unity among mature/maturing Christians. This is where 2 brothers with differing, opposing views like Calvinism-freewill work "ends to the middle" (neither assuming he/she has all the truth and the other none) to discover true faith and knowledge of Christ so that "...speaking the truth in love, [we] may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:..."

    My experience has been to try to do just that. In my long acquaintance with the topics, I have recanted my earlier insistence that faith was of man and admit with Calvin that it is God-given. I have opened avenues of salvation inquiry that I hoped would bring is closer together (most Calvinists being saved before they even heard of Calvin). Avenues like soul-spirit distinctives -- like innocent sin nature actually being survival instinct to need things turned to sin nature to want them. And just back the the basic stuff -- Adam and Eve knew good and evil, not just evil. Yes, the elect were foreordained to salvation but AFTER God foreknew they would believe. At some point, the body is going to have to start using the same complete scriptures and the truths therein.

    Let me make 2 comments: 1) I don't think Calvinists have come very far in fulfilling this desire of Paul's that we grow into a unified faith and knowledge of Christ and 2) there are topics outside Calvinism's perview (like eschatology, dispensationalism, and Israel) that lead me to believe that they need to grow in faith and knowledge -- they need to do some listening today much as we would have listened during the Reformation.

    Now that having been said, I had recently thought I would just take the view that "one plants, another waters and God gets the increase" and let is go at that, right? The Baptists can keep bringing in the souls and the Presbies can water, but it is very hard for me to omit/ignore Eph 4:13 -- the teaching that we are to grow as one body.

    Let me close by asking: Do Calvinists claim that they might learn something theologically anymore? If so, what areas do they feel Calvinism is week in? Let's help each other grow in the unity of faith and knowledge of Christ, OK?

    skypair
     
    #1 skypair, Apr 3, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 3, 2007
  2. Brandon C. Jones

    Brandon C. Jones
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2005
    Messages:
    598
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'll ignore your two "comments" above as if they don't exist but answer your last two questions. I can only speak for myself in this answer:

    Yes, everyone has much to learn this side of the parousia-now we see in a glass darkly

    Areas of Weakness?-Personally, I've always found "calvinism" to be counter-intuitive, and while some argue that as proof of its error it could just be proof that our intuitions are also affected by the fall.

    You are right that we should maintain unity and get past these petty differences. I find the essentials of the Christian faith to not be involved in the C/A debate and find these essentials so much more fulfilling to study and meditate on than the common fodder on this board. Let's celebrate our unity in the gospel and rejoice in our bond with one another!

    I think humility is needed all around, not just for "calvinists" and not just pertaining to elements of one's soteriology.
     
    #2 Brandon C. Jones, Apr 3, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 3, 2007
  3. npetreley

    npetreley
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2002
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    0
    I couldn't agree more that predestination and election (especially double-predestination) is counterintuitive. I do think that once one grasps the concept that "we are not God", it becomes highly intuitive. So many of the arguments against predestination and election reject the notion that God is God and He has the right to do anything He pleases with His creation. Whether we agree, understand, sympathize, etc., means diddly.

    I know it sounds trivial or maybe condescending to say that it's hard to grasp the concept that we are not God. But I hope you'll trust that it isn't my intention. As fallen creatures, we tend to look at God's plans and actions through man's glasses, but we ARE only looking through a glass darkly. We do not have a right to do as we please with God's creation, so it's hard to see things from that perspective.
     
  4. webdog

    webdog
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Messages:
    24,691
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yet another strawman...
     
  5. Brandon C. Jones

    Brandon C. Jones
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2005
    Messages:
    598
    Likes Received:
    0
    Npetreley-Not to be too presumptuous, but perhaps you'd enjoy reading Martin Luther's "De Servo Arbitrio" (On the enslaved will or The Bondage of Will). Here's the CCEL link: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/luther/bondage.html
    There are newer and better translations out there but probably not online, so this one will most likely have to do if you want it for free.

    Of course, understanding this work fully requires some familiarity with Luther's thought, but his themes of God's hiddenness, the battle between God and the devil, as well as "masks of God" come through in this work, and of course the centrality of faith-which Luther defines rather specifically.

    Anyways, this is a popular work so you may have already read it. It is couched between two of Erasmus's works and he could hold his own, to be sure, in representing the other side of things.
    BJ
     
    #5 Brandon C. Jones, Apr 3, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 3, 2007
  6. npetreley

    npetreley
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2002
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yup. I bought and read the one translated by J.I. Packer and somene else whose name escapes me. Amazing book, and really fun to read. Luther is a master of sarcasm. ;)

    I believe this book is one reason why R C Sproul (I think it was him anyway) said that it's a shame that it's called Calvinism, because Calvin is little more than a footnote to Luther on the topic of predestination and election.
     
  7. npetreley

    npetreley
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2002
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    0
    If it's a straw man, then it's one Paul used, too. That's basically what he's saying when he says...

    It's His creation. He can make it and work with it however He pleases. If it pleases Him to create sinners with the deliberate intent to save some and punish others in order to make Himself known better to the objects of His mercy, we have no right to say He was wrong to do it that way. We're not God. We have no say in the matter.
     
  8. webdog

    webdog
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Messages:
    24,691
    Likes Received:
    0
    I don't see Paul stating what you did. You implied that everyone with the view opposite of yours would be what you posted. That's a strawman argument that has been refuted more than enough here.
     
  9. johnp.

    johnp.
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2004
    Messages:
    3,231
    Likes Received:
    0
    That's what I've found. I don't understand how it is a 'strawman' though, you are not setting yourself up for a fall are you npetreley?

    I believe "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." leaves God's justice just. :) God is Sovereign.

    No webdog you are wrong, Paul says it at Rom 9:19 One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?"

    What's the argument? You said: You implied that everyone with the view opposite of yours would be what you posted.

    What was implied? What was the view, that we think we are God and cannot know the truth until we humble ourselves? If man can resist God's advances who's God? :) A weird world where the Sovereign cannot interfer with another's will and yet retains the Title Sovereign? Much like our queen, in name only. A place where the meaning of elect becomes one of usurper, usurper being one who elects himself. Just some thoughts from a strange sentence.

    Fine words butter no parsnips. :) What do you mean by help you grow, do you want to be discipled by a Calvinist? To learn as a pupil? Do you think we should unite in your faith or ours skypair? :)

    john.
     
  10. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    Messages:
    9,031
    Likes Received:
    0
    Sorry, there'll be no unity among Christians until the Lord returns, so there's no need to stew about it, unless....

    It's a local church. The big-C universal nebulous church can never be unified, partly because it has no reason to exist, thus nothing to be unified around.

    But local churches can develop great harmony and unity of purpose within their congregations.

    For there to be unity in the big-C universal nebulous church with no reason to exist, compromise is necessary. Oh, some are willing and have already done it, but most won't.

    Local churches can achieve unity without compromise.
     
  11. J.D.

    J.D.
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2006
    Messages:
    3,553
    Likes Received:
    8
    Agree with Tom - unity is not truly achievable before Glory.

    Disagree with "work "ends to the middle"". Reminds me of the dialectical, consensus methods. If you are convinced you are right, NEVER COMPROMISE. But while we are not compromising, let's be careful to grow. Listen. Think. Read. Study. Self-examine. Let's be "semper reformanda" -- ever reforming.

    I watched the Catholic channel last night for a while. They were saying that Protestant's lack of unity is proof of their error. But let's remember that the Catholic solution to disunity is conformity to unquestionable authority. Funny, now that I think about it, that's some fundamentalists solution to disunity also.
     
  12. J.D.

    J.D.
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2006
    Messages:
    3,553
    Likes Received:
    8
    And squashing unpopular opinions is a good way to keep unity also.
     
  13. Brandon C. Jones

    Brandon C. Jones
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2005
    Messages:
    598
    Likes Received:
    0
    Nebulous? That's a new one for me. I usually accuse the local-church onlies of playing word games (i.e. "generic" use of church), but I've yet to see "nebulous" as an adjective describing those who are in Christ. Oh well, that's off topic, and if I recall Tom and I have discussed this issue before and failed to convince each other so I digress.
     
    #13 Brandon C. Jones, Apr 3, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 3, 2007
  14. skypair

    skypair
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Messages:
    4,657
    Likes Received:
    0
     
  15. skypair

    skypair
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Messages:
    4,657
    Likes Received:
    0
    npeterely, webdog, johnp,

    Now see, here's a thought that we can unite around. Of course God is God and we're not. Of course, God will always get His way and us be unable to gainsay what He does.

    But look, the fact that we can gainsay to no effect against God tells us that 1) we have choices to make, sides to take, and that 2) God is sovereign over the consequences regardless of what our decisions are. "Who art thou, oh man...? Denying God is of no consequence except upon oneself. Choosing God does not mean controlling God, but means taking Him at His word to fulfill the sovereign promises that He makes in page after page of scripture!

    Surely we can get beyond this silly notion that one group "controls" God and doesn't believe He is sovereign, right? There ought be no argument (per webdog) in this area at all.

    skypair
     
  16. skypair

    skypair
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Messages:
    4,657
    Likes Received:
    0
    You're right about that, of course. But Paul was writing in Eph 4 to believers -- and they SHOULD be able to find unity if for no other reason than that it is a mark of Christ-likeness. Ideally, we would trust each other and the Bible for answers more than we would trust men's books about religion and theology.

    Especially in lieu of what 1300 year old Mohammedism has done to that society, it is clear that our theology grows more like Jesus with age and so to say all that could be known about Christianity was discovered 500 years ago (when the Bible was just getting into the hands of people without ulterior motives -- believers) is ludicrous.

    Thus, I believe our knowledge and faith in Christ are ever-growing until we reach that stature of Christ in all matters -- including eschatology where CT and RT have been huge barriers to real growth and understanding -- including God's plan for Israel -- including the "disection" of the soul and spirit with our "sharper than any 2 edged sword" Bibles -- including a better and common understanding of sin nature -- including discovering a paradigm for why deceased infants don't all go to hell -- etc. Growing means going to these places that have so long been denied us access to by so-called theological dogma.

    Why, among the "elect," are we still at this petty level of disputing fate or free will? I know I have been more guilty of this than of trying to bind up the wounds. But I am not going to discount my latter efforts because I appear to be the only one not saying "My way or the highway."

    skypair
     
  17. Brandon C. Jones

    Brandon C. Jones
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2005
    Messages:
    598
    Likes Received:
    0
    See, this is the kind of innane statement you often make that lead others to ignore you here. If I recall, you asked why Calvin's name comes up so often on a Baptist board in another thread, well you tell me since you insert his name so often into threads that have nothing to do with him as a person.

    Lastly, simply because you feel certain theological positions are at odds with your own doesn't mean that your theological positions are tantamount to "real growth and understanding." These statements also lead others to simply ignore you here.
     
    #17 Brandon C. Jones, Apr 4, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 4, 2007
  18. skypair

    skypair
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Messages:
    4,657
    Likes Received:
    0
    But it can be approximated as Paul suggests we endeavor to attain.

    Never compromise? or never learn? Both BELIEVING sides are guarding assiduously the part of the "elephant" they "feel" is the truth. And one side is hiding some of their clues under the guise that "God keeps His own counsel hidden" (another way of saying "I don't know."). Let's dispense with all unfounded theorems (like infants are either all going to hell or there is another way besides Jesus to get there) and find out as best we can what the truth is and what are the implications of believing that truth, OK?

    I have a Catholic friend who is of that exact mind! And believe me -- when the tribulation comes, their unity is going to be too compelling for their Protestant "brethren" to resist, Rev 2:22.

    But no "fundamentalists" I know are trying to coerce doctrine on anyone. Who do you have in mind?

    skypair
     
  19. npetreley

    npetreley
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2002
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    0
    There ought not to be, but just look at the arguments on the free-willer side. They often contain statements like, "A righteous God would never...", or "God is a gentleman who would never..." These are NOT arguments from scripture. They are arguments that boil down to "I have my own vision of who God is, and that God would never do what you claim He is doing." That is a subtle way of saying God is not free to be God - He has to be a God who suits your fancies.

    Here's where the counterintuitive part comes in when it comes to predestination and election. Most of us (maybe not all, but most of us, at least at first) would rather think we made the difference in our own salvation. It appeals to our pride. That's one reason why it can be hard to give it up in favor of what the Bible actually says. So when a free-willer becomes a non-free-willer, there's almost always the revelation that we have no say in our salvation -- in short, WE are not God. God is God and He shall do all His good pleasure.
     
  20. skypair

    skypair
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Messages:
    4,657
    Likes Received:
    0
    Guilty as charged. It is bringing in Calvinism that seems to disturb the unity on this board and has led to the division of many churches as well. But there is some truth to Calvinism. Can we try to resolve the intruths so we can "get growing?"

    Pastor Rogers once made the same observation of my writing -- "presumptuous" he called it. Thinking I was in possession of some truth that no one else had discovered. Yet isn't that the gist of preaching? the telling of things not clearly seen? does that not appear to be presumption on the face of it?

    But furthermore, I am not insisting on my theological positions so much as biblical ones that Calvinists don't seem to acknowledge. How much "sovereignty" does God lose if we make our own decisions but He still controls the outcomes, the consequences? He still has complete sovereignty over His plan, right? He still has complete sovereignty over our destiny, right? What "control" do you perceive that God is losing by letting us make personal choices?

    In the interest of unity, I am being more honest than necessary in this post. I hope you will endeavor to reply with the same.

    skypair
     

Share This Page

Loading...