Friday, September 14, 2012

Marriage Counseling

Following is my response to a comment written by Stan.  It was too long for the comment box.  You can read his comment under my post, "Marriage, It's a Given?"

I sometimes wish I hadn't elected to comment on that particular post. I always use the ten before and after rule when looking at scripture. Obviously, according to this particular passage, salvation can not only be lost, but also, after reaching a certain point in our walk with the Lord, as in regard to the qualifiers mentioned in the post, salvation cannot be regained. The author has admonished us to go beyond the "milk stage" to the "strong meat" that "belongeth to them that are of full age". Have I tasted of the powers of the world to come? I'm not sure, as I stated, where this point is. I don't understand what would cause this sort of fatal falling away from someone that has become "of full age". I know that my desire is to reach that stage, not to fall away of course, but to obtain that obedience. A common thought is that Paul is addressing the Jewish converts who were now rejecting the gospel, hence the stern warning. The impossibility of return could be likened to man that has fallen into a well, thrown a rope, and then slashes the rope beyond his reach, the rope representing Christ’s atonement by the cross. God is not sending another messiah that meets his expectations nor is it a possibility except by Christ’s sacrifice, already a done deal. There’s only one meal on the menu, the Bread and the Blood. Christ’s once for all sacrifice insufficient,” seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” and relapsing back into a system of repeated animal sacrifice, probably not a good idea. Is there a connection possibly related to the unpardonable sin? I don’t know. I had hoped for someone wiser than I for enlightenment or discussion.

Actually, election came into the discourse because no one seemed inclined to talk about the Hebrew passage. Dismissal accompanied with repeated attempts to defend a once saved always saved doctrine along with the “if” does not mean “if”, if it doesn’t reinforce my position, clarifications were the default responses. Hence the posting I wrote which actually had broadened considerably to respond to my position. It seemed the kinder thing for Neil’s sake than to use His site for a platform. I’m not sure how to give you greater clarity and am afraid I’ll be just restating the same thing and it’ll be wordy and repetitive. As far as election, the elect are always in reference to the believers that the author is writing to. I have a hard time conceptualizing unbelievers falling away. How does that happen? What exactly have they fallen away from?  Chosen and choosing to accept the calling is a believing Christian. Colossians 1:22-23 affirms this position with Paul’s warning, “In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; [amazing, after ofter only 32 years from the crucifixion, the known world evangelized] whereof I Paul am made a minister.” Free will opens the door to rejection, corruption, violence and cruelty, and falling away. Now, remember I learned cognitive dissonance from you and Dan so don't be sensitive about it. I watch Barney too [video – we don’t do tv]. My point was in reference to God giving a person free will and then at the same time withholding it. God may indeed be willing that none should perish but His holiness and justice are such as to not allow the salvation of an unrepentant, unwilling, recipient. God's sovereignty is not impugned or diminished. Lewis talks of intrinsic possibilities and impossibilities. It's impossible for God to lie for example of an intrinsic impossibility. As Lewis would say "the intrinsic impossibilities are not things but non-entities. It is no more possible for God than for the weakest of His creatures to carry out both of two mutually exclusive alternatives; not because His power meets an obstacle, but because nonsense remains nonsense even when we talk it about God". Cognitive Dissonance? I'm not willing that my children not walk with the Lord. I'm not willing that any of them be damned. Still it’s an undeniable fact of life. It happens all the time. My love is not severed from them and they were not snatched away, they walked away. Involuntary union is not love. It’s certainly not God like. It’s god like, the god of self, what we must be willing to surrender and let God kill. For me it’s a takes a constant beating, every day I wake up to the struggle of my flesh. Of one thing I’m sure, I’m in the race and the race is not over.

Do I believe the Hebrew passage as written and inclusive of the possibility of not being renewed unto repentance? Yes.

I had the opportunity to meet a man from India whose Grandfather [a Hindu priest on his way with another to beat up the new missionary] was converted to the faith by the Holy Spirit not knowing the language of the missionary. He was, of course, rejected by the village and family and forced to move. His grandmother died and the family decided he should be allowed to return for the funeral. She was three days dead when he arrived. He prayed over her and raised her from the dead in front of three hundred people. His family was converted on the spot. This is the short version of course. It came to pass that he was approached by a denomination that would support his ministry if he would do it under his name. He couldn’t find anything in the Bible to explain how the church could be divided into things called denominations and the offer was rejected. He did find a lot about healing, praying for the sick, casting out demons [commonplace in his ministry], and a host of other things that he uses based on a simple belief that the Bible is truth.

I was raised lukewarm, am a lapsed liberal, former Baptist, former Open Bible, and now simply a Christian. I don’t take the name of anyone but Jesus. I don’t pet the sacred cows anymore to acquire membership in a denomination. I look at passages like Hebrews 6:4-6 and believe simply because it’s in the Bible. It’s true I don’t understand it all, but I understand more than I did twenty years ago.  I rode with Tankachin (The man spoken of above) in the back seat to a church in Rapid City, about sixty miles, and after spending that afternoon with him I was completely embarrassed about my walk with the Lord. He couldn’t comprehend how two Christians could divorce; he has a two to three percent rate among his converts. He said, “Even if man beat woman, we fix.” How come we don’t see God moving like you do I asked? He replied, “You don’t need God, you go to the doctor, you buy everything with money, you make God second, you don’t believe God.” If the Bible said it he believed it. “In India we preach the gospel and then we prove it, preach and prove.” He got that straight out the Bible. He runs around India in his Volkswagen bus with the old Barney style police horn on top singing about the blood of Jesus and people possessed or oppressed, never hearing Jesus name before, run screaming out of the village and he goes to work. We sit and we blog. It was a turning point with me that night. I sat in my seat ashamed while he never stopped praying unless spoken to. It’s good to be small.

I don’t spend much time like this on the Internet. I love reading Dan’s work, his style and reason, Neil’s engagement of our common enemies of the faith, and Glenn’s relentless footwork keeping me current on things I don’t have time to research. I haven’t had time to read a lot of what you’ve written but have thoroughly enjoyed what I have. My focus is primarily on fundamentals of the faith, things that will bind us together, though I do enjoy a little jousting in the spirit of Christian brotherly love. At any rate I’ve read enough to know you’re a brother in the faith and will not be offended at any differences in opinion and will read any response with an open mind and heart.
      Sorry so long,


Stan said...

Thanks for the lengthy but complete reply to my questions.

Just for clarification (trying to put these clarifications in the same sequence you used) ...

1. My argument that Neil referenced was indeed that salvation, once lost, cannot be regained, that this is what Hebrews 6 says. I wasn't denying it. I was calling on those who did to own it.

2. I am still unclear (and I suppose I will always be unclear) on how it is that God can be He "who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Eph 1:11), who "hath done whatsoever He hath pleased" (Psa 115:3), and who wills to have all men saved but doesn't. That would by definition be something that was not worked "after the counsel of His own will", that didn't He didn't please. But it will remain the position, I'm sure. "God's sovereignty is not impugned or diminished." It just doesn't actually work out like Scripture says it does.

3. Again, for clarity, I took no offense at your use of "cognitive dissonance". I simply didn't understand your position. And obviously still don't.

4. You said, "I don’t take the name of anyone but Jesus." I don't either. "Calvinism" is an unfortunate word that seems to parallel my understanding of Scripture and serves as shorthand for a body of belief I hold that is in line with the whole of Scripture as I read it. It would be a mistake to believe that I take the name or that it is connected to a person because I've read extremely little of Calvin's stuff and base none of my theology or doctrine on his writings but solely on the Bible. I've told people "I'm not a Calvinist. I'm a biblicist. I'm just pleased that many times Calvin and I saw the same thing in Scripture."

As I said, just for clarification (as opposed to argumentation, disagreement, or even further discussion).

(Note, by the way, that Glenn did not understand your post to say that a believer can lose his/her salvation and does not believe that it's possible.)

Christian Ease said...

Thanks for the kindly understanding of our misunderstanding, not withstanding an uncommonly common branding over a position this demanding. My hope is we'll have a good laugh over all of this someday when we meet in glory.

p.s. Many of my best friends are reformed.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I don't think it is possible for a Christian to lose his faith and be unsaved. What I believe is that many profess to be Christians and take on a lot of the trappings, but when things get tough they find it easier to dispense with the faith.

I find way too many "if" passages to just blow them off. I struggle with this, but have come to the conclusion that perhaps those new believers, weak in the faith, can be hit with something which leads them to walk away. So the question then becomes - were they really true believers to start with? But I just don't believe a mature believer will ever walk away.

I guess I don't want to be dogmatic and tell people that believers CAN lose their salvation, but the "if" passages have always bothered me.

Christian Ease said...


The problem I see with that is that this passage in Hebrews is talking about a Christian far more mature than what I suppose myself to be. Surely, as supported by the qualifiers spoken of, this is not a nominal Christian. The thief on the cross had little time to develop his faith. Nominal Christians are saved by faith. The stock answer that they must not have been saved is weak despite its repetition. The Bible is full of passages warning to endure, holding fast to the hope that saves lest you fall. Total depravity is a destination. We're always either moving closer to or further away from God. I don't understand the fall either but there it is and I've yet to see a Scriptural refutation of this passage.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Well, like I said, there are too many "if" passages that bother me.