Tuesday, January 01, 2013

The Gospel of Salvation


There being an interregnum in the See of Canterbury and a vacancy in the Chair of St Augustine, His Grace is back in town. It has been decided (in Twitter conclave) that he will be in charge for the next 34 days (or 80, if one goes by the spiritual Enthronement of +Justin rather than the temporal election according to statute). He was going to (re-)commence his ministry with the abolition of the CNC and much-needed reforms to the General Synod, but (on reflection) it seems wrong to begin another archiepiscopal stint with navel-gazing issues of church governance.

One must begin with the gospel; the all-sufficiency of Christ's mercy for salvation.

On the one hand is the Lutheran picture of humanity fallen in the disobedience of Adam, helpless and totally under condemnation until given the grace of God through faith; on the other is the more Roman view of a Christian life in which the contrite human will is capable of co-operating with God towards an individual's salvation, by the performance of good works.

Look, it's very simple. From pure faith flows the compulsion to do good works, but they are an effect and never a cause of that great transforming act of God: justification. All is the work of God, and it is a work which cannot be reversed or improved upon by human effort. As His Grace has written, the justified man knows 'that before justification his doings were naught, nor consonant unto equity'. Pure faith involves a recognition that all human works previously performed fall into the category of wasted effort. Faith is the assurance of Christ's mercy:
...he that hath assured hope and confidence in Christ's mercy, hath already entered into a perfect faith, and not only hath a will to enter into it. For perfect faith is nothing but assured hope and confidence in Christ's mercy.
Behind the doctrine of the all-sufficiency of Christ's mercy lurks the omnipotence of God in salvation. If humanity plays no part in his own salvation, everything is in God's hands. The visible Christian Church includes the damned as well as the saved. The elect will acknowledge their sin, repent their fault and follow Christ's precepts.

His Grace is aware that this won't go down too well, but he feels it's a message that's been somewhat missing from the Church of England over the past decade. He understands there are niggles remaining over the free-will theology of Erasmus (he is sympathetic), but anyone who reflects on the writings of St Augustine (of Hippo) will be driven to the theme of the grace and mercy of God in considering the scheme of salvation.

His Grace has a diverse following - Roman Catholics, Anglo-Catholics, Evangelicals, Orthodox, liberals, humanists and atheists, not to mention occasional Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus - and he is mindful of the richness of humanity which communes via his august blog. If they were alive today, doubtless Ignatius Loyola and John Calvin would unite in agreement with His Grace on God's overarching control of human destiny. There is doctrinal mediation to be had and theological dispute to be entertained, but ultimately there is One Mediator between God and man, and that is Christ Jesus. It is through His passion that we are saved; not through any pantomime of politics fused with a religious veneer of holiness.

129 Comments:

Blogger The Gray Monk said...

Happy New Year, Your Grace.

A very good sermon for the day as well.

1 January 2013 at 12:46  
Blogger Laurence Boyce said...

Yeah, crucify Jesus. That'll solve everything.

It's obvious when you don't think about it.

1 January 2013 at 12:48  
Blogger Naomi King said...


Well said Your Grace.

1 January 2013 at 13:02  
Blogger gentlemind said...

As the dark grows darker more and more people will look for the light of the truth; an authority of love, wisdom and justice. There is no authority without God's authority, and no law that can undo His law. All else is an illusion.

Happy new year, Your Grace. May you continue to bless us with writing as fine as that with which you have started 2013.

1 January 2013 at 13:02  
Blogger how life is changing said...

My goodness, how prescient a message! I've recently being looking into Calvinism and Arminianism and then this article comes along. Praise God!

1 January 2013 at 13:16  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

His Grace states;

"His Grace has a diverse following - Roman Catholics, Anglo-Catholics, Evangelicals, Orthodox, liberals, humanists and atheists, not to mention occasional Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus - and he is mindful of the richness of humanity which communes via his august blog."..and then;

"Yeah, crucify Jesus. That'll solve everything.

It's obvious when you don't think about it."
You missed out the odd IGNORANUS!!

Wonderful sermon, in the spirit of Ryle.

Blofeld

1 January 2013 at 13:26  
Blogger OldSouth said...

Thank you for these wise words. A wonderful way to begin the New Year.

1 January 2013 at 14:10  
Blogger Naomi King said...


Let us lean entirely on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom and goodness.

1 January 2013 at 14:20  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Lawrence Boyce

The Gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing

carl

1 January 2013 at 14:24  
Blogger Naomi King said...


Calvary is THE greatest triumph over the Devil. It is obvious.

1 January 2013 at 14:42  
Blogger Laurence Boyce said...

Yeah sure. Makes perfect sense.

1 January 2013 at 14:46  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Your Grace,
A wonderful start to the year. His grace is sufficient for us and all our works are in vain.
If we remind ourselves that we can do nothing to bring about our own salvation, we will keep our hope and faith in him.
Bless you throughout this year.

1 January 2013 at 14:47  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Article: "From pure faith flows the compulsion to do good works, but they are an effect and never a cause of that great transforming act of God: justification. All is the work of God, and it is a work which cannot be reversed or improved upon by human effort."

The Catholics are being rather quiet for some reason. This atheist has a compulsion to do good works too. Perhaps there are different vectors at work there.

1 January 2013 at 14:50  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

God bless, Cranmer, on this and all your other endeavours in the year to come.

1 January 2013 at 14:55  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

DanJ0

The good works referred to are good works in the eyes of God. Not in the eyes of men. It matters nothing what you or other men consider good.

carl

1 January 2013 at 15:03  
Blogger Laurence Boyce said...

"It matters nothing what you or other men consider good."

Then how the **** do you know what to do? You might want to do something which you consider good, but no wait - that's a trap! Mustn't do what I consider good, at least not solely for that reason. So do you live your life by the toss of a coin?

1 January 2013 at 15:13  
Blogger Naomi King said...


Of course not, by the guiding of the Holy Spirit.

1 January 2013 at 15:18  
Blogger Laurence Boyce said...

What happens when the Holy Spirit guides two people to opposite conclusions?

1 January 2013 at 15:23  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

The Catholics are being rather quiet for some reason.

Nothing to add. It was a very good missal.

One can’t help feeling that if Thomas Cranmer were here today in his old job, with the benefit of nearly 500 years ‘protestant enlightenment’ behind him, and crucially, the state of the CoE today ( ! ) , he’d pack his suitcase and catch the next flight to Rome. There would be talking to be done. A lot of talking...


1 January 2013 at 15:29  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"What happens when the Holy Spirit guides two people to opposite conclusions?"

He doesn't.

1 January 2013 at 15:37  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Inspector:

Probably Geneva, I'd imagine.

1 January 2013 at 15:37  
Blogger Laurence Boyce said...

Sorry Belfast, happens all the time. In general synod, everyone seeks the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and then they vote. And here's the peculiar thing: the vote is rarely unanimous.

1 January 2013 at 15:42  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Why would that contradict what I say?

Perhaps you are referring to the idea that the General Synod pronouncing is equivalent to a prouncement by the Holy Spirit?

Few Anglicans would accept that, I think. Perhaps on the very Catholic wing - but I'd imagine they'd be increasingly more likely to apply that kind of Magisterial infallibility to the Magisterium proper.

1 January 2013 at 15:46  
Blogger John Hudghton said...

Ah so evocative of the mockers around the cross. Nothing much changes in 2000 years.

1 January 2013 at 15:47  
Blogger John Hudghton said...

Ah so evocative of the mockers around the cross. Nothing much changes in 2000 years.

1 January 2013 at 15:47  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Lawrence Boyce

DanJ0 was comparing two different concepts. He was suggesting that the motivation to do good works is independent of God. Any work done independent of God proceeds from an evil heart. It will not be judged good in the eyes of God. A good work is therefore good only if God so credits it. You can't abstract the concept from its context just to make an apologetic point.

carl

1 January 2013 at 15:53  
Blogger Laurence Boyce said...

So two people might arrive at identical outcomes, but one is condemned for not seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Do you have you any idea how unbelievably petty that sounds?

God: Yes, that's exactly what I wanted, but I didn't want you to think it out for yourself! Burn in hell!

1 January 2013 at 16:20  
Blogger Naomi King said...


Vain philosophies.

1 January 2013 at 16:31  
Blogger Tony B said...

You left out Jews!

1 January 2013 at 16:35  
Blogger Roy said...

Office of Inspector General said...

One can’t help feeling that if Thomas Cranmer were here today in his old job, with the benefit of nearly 500 years ‘protestant enlightenment’ behind him, and crucially, the state of the CoE today ( ! ) , he’d pack his suitcase and catch the next flight to Rome. There would be talking to be done. A lot of talking...

We cannot tell what Cranmer would have thought about the current state of the Church of England or the denominations in general. I somewhat doubt that he would want to abandon one ecclesiastical bureaucracy for an even bigger ecclesiastical bureaucracy that would probably have been completely unrecognisable to the earliest Christians.

Perhaps Cranmer would have stayed in the CoE and worked to reform and revive it. It is possible that he might have joined the Roman Catholic Church but if so it would surely only be because the Catholic hierarchy has, if I remember rightly, gone much further than His Modern Grace indicates in accepting the doctrine of Justification by Faith.

Wasn't there a series of meetings of Catholic and Lutheran theologians during the reign of the previous Pope? I'm sure that I read somewhere that they had almost reached agreement on salvation, which had been the main cause of the original division, when, with a bit of prodding from the Polish Pope, the Catholic theologians accepted that salvation comes by faith and that good works are the expected outcome, not the cause.

Perhaps I have remembered the reports of the Lutheran and Catholic discussions but anyway if Cranmer were here now perhaps he would turn his back on both the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches and join a house church since such churches seem to have more in common with those of New Testament times than do the typical modern Anglican and Catholic churches.

1 January 2013 at 16:41  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Roy, on seeing todays message, this man re-acquainted himself with the life of Thomas Cranmer. A kindly man who drifted into Protestantism. A protestant martyr, but not of the stuff that martyrs are usually made. With that in mind, and remembering that the RCC cleaned up its act in the wake of the reformation, he re-starts with a clean sheet. Don’t think anyone can pin him down to any direction if he were back today.

Cannot recall any RCC / Lutheran talks. That’s because it was only when the Inspector arrived at this site did it re-awaken his spiritual needs as such. Long been disappointed with humanity and the world for decades though. Feel there is some hope for us all now. Anyway, perhaps Mr Mcgranor who one believes is Lutheran minded will help out, unless he gets beaten to it by the all seeing, all knowing site bird.

1 January 2013 at 17:04  
Blogger Laurence Boyce said...

Whatever his theological passions may have been, Cranmer was also a shrewd political operator who told the King exactly what the King wanted to hear, and was duly rewarded. Henry was perfectly happy with Catherine until it became clear that no male heir was forthcoming. At this point scripture was consulted, and Catherine was dispensed with. Later Anne was executed on trumped up charges for exactly the same reason - no male heir. Cranmer was there to justify everything.

It is upon such evident self-serving hypocrisy that the Church of England was founded. What do all you higher-authority-holy-spirit-guidance merchants make of that then? Work of the devil surely?

1 January 2013 at 17:32  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Inspector:

With due respect to his current ethereal incarnation, a "kindly man" would not be my description of choice for the earthly Cranmer.

A consumate politician, who always appears more sympathetic in the moments when he was out of his depth, but who almost certainly ended up there because he preferred to put his own opponents in a similar position. In the end, he was outmatched by more ruthless enemies, but he was hardly a lamb led to the slaughter.

1 January 2013 at 17:32  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Heh, well at least we know it's not just great minds that think alike, eh Laurence?

"Cranmer was there to justify everything."

Whilst the psychology of his theological and political positions deserves a more sensitive and complex account, in the round I agree.

1 January 2013 at 17:35  
Blogger John Magee said...

Well said YG.

Especially:

"On the one hand is the Lutheran picture of humanity fallen in the disobedience of Adam, helpless and totally under condemnation until given the grace of God through faith; on the other is the more Roman view of a Christian life in which the contrite human will is capable of co-operating with God towards an individual's salvation, by the performance of good works."

Don't go wobbly on us in 2013!

1 January 2013 at 18:04  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

There's a rather nice documentary on TV at the moment, featuring Rowan Williams, if anyone is interested.

1 January 2013 at 18:14  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl: "The good works referred to are good works in the eyes of God. Not in the eyes of men. It matters nothing what you or other men consider good."

The good matters to the recipients and, as we don't know in any shared, meaningful sense whether your particular god even exists, that's enough for me.

1 January 2013 at 18:19  
Blogger Roy said...

I've done some searching on the Internet for details of the discussions between Lutheran and Catholic theologians on justification. They discussions led to the issue of a joint declaration in 1999.

Here is a link from a Lutheran website.

Justification
http://www.lutheranworld.org/Special_Events/LWF-Special_Events-Justification.html

Here is a link from a Catholic website.

JOINT DECLARATION
ON THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION
by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_31101999_cath-luth-joint-declaration_en.html

1 January 2013 at 18:27  
Blogger David B said...

John Magee, would you mind telling me if you mean a literal, as per Genesis account, Adam?

Or something else? In which case, what?

It is rather confusing for us non-believers here when some claim that something is literal, while others bite at the heels of the non believers for taking what is written down literally.

Usually, though, we aren't given much of a clue whether something is meant literally or not.

It should be understood by all but the most brainwashed and/or wilfully ignorant that the Genesis accounts of creation didn't happen literally. Most Christians understand that, as far as I can tell, though they do tend to be reticent in saying so to the literal believers.

I am curious, though, about what proportion of the Christians here are under the misapprehension that the literal Genesis Adam was a historical figure.

David

1 January 2013 at 18:39  
Blogger Tony B said...

Danj0 channel?

1 January 2013 at 18:39  
Blogger Tony B said...

David B it seems to me that there is a point in any discussion with a Christian where they will start to fall back on literal interpretations of the Bible to support their position.

1 January 2013 at 18:55  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Tony, BBC2 so it'll be on iPlayer shortly. Williams was talking about Canterbury Cathedral, the Reformation, iconoclasm, and medieval thought, amongst other things. It was very well done, I thought.

1 January 2013 at 18:56  
Blogger Laurence Boyce said...

Adam lay ybounden,
Bounden in a bond:
Four thousand winter
Thought he not too long.

And all was for an apple,
An apple that he took,
As clerkes finden
Written in their book.

Ne had the apple taken been,
The apple taken been,
Ne had never our lady
Abeen heavene queen.

Blessed be the time
That apple taken was.
Therefore we moun singen:
Deo gracias!

1 January 2013 at 18:58  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Mr Laurence Boyce, I've been reading your philosophical antics here with some amusement for a while now and I'm puzzled by your naked and somewhat crude hostility and streams of insults. It seems to be so jejune, so "yesterday."

As a former atheist I and most atheists and secularists I kew never lost respect for the religious among us and were always mindful of the difficulties and uncertainties behind any position of belief or disbelief. Now, as an observant Orthodox Jew, I don't obviously and undertandably accept many of the core Christological positions His Grace and others here promote and defend, but I can accept them as genuine worship and can hold respect for them. Many here are good and loyal Christians who are, at this very moment in history struggling, learning, interpreting and reinterpreting, reforming or re-establishing their vision of Christianity in the face of this increasingly inter-connected world His Grace remids us of, not to mention holding the fort against the excesses of secular modernity whose own absolutist, aggressive and tyrannical sides threatens us all no less than the most parochial and aggressive religion.

Go ahead, make energetic arguments and counter-arguments, but is it perhaps too much to ask that you go easy on your rather cartoonish mockery and bumper-sticker commentary that defines current lower case "l" liberalism. My former liberal and atheistic past cringes with discomfort.

A happy, healthy and prosperous new calendar year, Your Grace and all. Thank you for one of the best blogs in the entire blogosphere.

1 January 2013 at 19:09  
Blogger John Magee said...

David B

I am totally unqualified to make any comments about or try to interpret the Bible. That is better left to better minds than mine who visit here.

My humble opinion is everything around us here on earth and in the universe us came about through some sort of "devine intervention" starting at the moment of the "Big bang theory". Isn't this similar to how Genesis describes the instant God created the universe from nothing?

What existed before there was nothing? That's what the Biblical experts won't touch.

My interest is in the lives ordinary and not so ordinary human beings and their creativity, their religious beliefs, and the what unique people do with the short time the exist on earth to make it a better place for all of us and the history nations leave behind. I'm concerned as well about the future we are creating for future generations based on our best collective ideals or our worst stupidity which will cause human catastrophes by forgetting the lessons of the past.

Happy 2013!


1 January 2013 at 19:10  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Avi, Mr Boyce is so reminiscent of a smart arsed sixth former who pays more attention to a lecturers delivery than to the substance of what he’s saying.

One rather finds the fellow amusing too !


1 January 2013 at 19:18  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"It should be understood by all but the most brainwashed and/or wilfully ignorant that the Genesis accounts of creation didn't happen literally. Most Christians understand that, as far as I can tell, though they do tend to be reticent in saying so to the literal believers."

I accept the basis for evolution as a mechanism to explain the development of species, and insofar as we have evidence to support it, the development of life in the universe. I make no bones about this with my fellow believers - nor my fellow churchgoers, who for the last decade or so have primarily been Creationists.

However, I don't regard them as brainwashed or stupid, nor do I spend my days deliberately seeking to stir up trouble. In fact, I have found that a good many of my Creationist brethren have a remarkably active faith: for them, Creationism is about recognising the sovereignty of the Creator and behaving accordingly.

I share that belief fully and completely - God is my Creator, and the Creator of the Universe. My personal take on Creationism has been corrected from my days of liberal Christianity where I sneered with the best of them at stupid Creationists. Insofar as a person is a Creationist because they are opposed to the cultural force of science, I do my best to defend the virtues of the scientific method as a means of investigating empirical phenomena.

My fear - and it has proven to be not without foundation - is that the kind of Creationism that is essentially reactionary ends up substituting faith for a focus on being counter-cultural (though naturally one can still be counter-cultural whilst being faithful). In my experience, this has always been the case with the loudest voices.

My general experience has been of Creationism as a quieter assurance of faith in the Creator born not out of opposition to science but devotion to God and acceptance of the authority of Scripture. Even though I disagree that a literal interpretation of the Genesis accounts is necessary, I fully agree that Scripture is authoritative and find the Creation stories really rather well equipped to explain the nature of man, the nature of man's rebellion towards God, and the nature of sin. I regard it as being absolutely true. Consequently, it is not an issue where I feel fellowship with my Creationist brethren should be severed, and for their part, they have not felt it is a reason to break fellowship with me.

I defend this stance not because I believe my equivocation is better or clearer minded: I have no sense that I understand the Bible better, or that my approach is simply an extra level of sophistication removed from others. Christianity is not gnostic. It isn't about the exhultation of the intellect - though many many fine intellects have served God, and will, I pray, continue to do so - it's about faith, hope, and love. And these three things may be found in abundance in any child of God, no matter whether they have intellectually grasped the finer points of theology, let alone evolutionary theory.

We are a faith of holy fools. The promise of Christ is that what is weak, foolish, and despicable in worldly terms will be raised into glory. Those who are now first will one day be last.

1 January 2013 at 19:20  
Blogger Laurence Boyce said...

OK then, I'll leave you to your nonsense for a little while . . .

1 January 2013 at 19:27  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Carl said

"The good works referred to are good works in the eyes of God. Not in the eyes of men"

Were the Crusades good in the eyes of God? A serious question. Today they have been judged bad in the eyes of man. But God?

I don't believe that those that took part in them did so out of an evil heart. Indeed their dedication to God and total self sacrifice is something that extremely rare in most Christians today.

In their time they were universally honoured as heroes and at the time there was no question that they were doing God's work.

My own view for what it is worth is that we need as Christians to rediscover the sort of self sacrifice and surrender to the will of God that characterised a significant proportion of medieval times.

It seems to me that we are losing the culture war with people like DanJo because we playing silly games rather than following God’s will.

Comments?


Phil

(Atheists I think I know what you think, I am chiefly interested in the response from fellow Christians)


1 January 2013 at 19:33  
Blogger Preacher said...

Outstanding Dr Cranmer. One can only hope that the new Archbishop of Canterbury follows your lead & sir, your blog.
Ultimately it's all about GOD, not as many would have it US.
His Wrath at man's sin, His Justice, His Love, His Grace, His Sacrifice, His Redemption of lost humanity who accept Him.

Blessings on you Dr Cranmer.

And Blessings for 2013 on the mixed allsorts that make this blog the best there is.

1 January 2013 at 19:37  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Phil:

The Crusades is a tad before my customary range, so I'm not by any means expert in it, but I'd suggest addressing the extent to which political and earthly attempts to grab power - not merely in the Middle East but (to some extent more importantly) also at home - were critical factors.

Certainly when one looks at later developments which are prominent in the popular imagination as indicators of the evils of religion, it is very often - nay almost always the case - that at the heart and source you find rather cynical secular (in the medieval sense) forces vying for power. This becomes fantastically blurred where the Church possessed secular powers itself, manifesting itself in much the same cynical politicking, often to the great detriment of others.

Mercifully, though they have often been submerged by the tide of the Enlightenment, there are many native voices that can still be heard crying in the desert in those days, who were equally discomforted by the extent to which love of the earth dominated the faithful. Lest that be interpreted as a dig at Catholicism, a good many of them are entirely Catholic, neither reformist nor Protesting.

1 January 2013 at 19:42  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

"It should be understood by all but the most brainwashed and/or wilfully ignorant (What a way to start a discussion with others. Take it that any discussion about pre-history must start with..It should be understood..?) that the Genesis accounts of creation didn't happen literally(And how would you know, take it you were there then ?). Most Christians understand that, as far as I can tell, though they do tend to be reticent in saying so to the literal believers (Most Christians, unfortunately, study nothing that might confirm that things stated in the Bible can be taken literally as historically stated, if declared as actually happening/happened as archaeological finds have proved such as Sargon 1, etc..)

I am curious, though, about what proportion of the Christians here are under the misapprehension that the literal Genesis Adam was a historical figure (Now which evolved apes can you show that lived historically and from which you or others are descended..Have you proof of a family tree that shows you/others coming from Urko and Zira or is it just something your descendants swung from). EVIDENCE Please or must we take you seriously only because you 'sez so'!.

Blofeld

1 January 2013 at 19:46  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

AB Cranmer (acting)

Well, your nobleness, if you're that sure pack a case and head off to Rome and discuss these spiritual insights with Pope Benedict.

Just think, you could effect a reconciliation with Roman Catholicism in the few weeks ahead, assuming your interpretation of Scripture is sound, that is.

God speed!

1 January 2013 at 19:49  
Blogger John Magee said...

David B

As a non-believer you might appreciate the following letter written by one of the Founding Fathers of the USA, Benjamin Franklin, shortly before his death in 1790 at age 84. Franklin, like many founders of the American Republic were deists or agnostics, rejected all established religions including Judaism and Christianty, was an amazing man. He was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. He was American Ambassador to France from 1776 -1788.

He wrote the following letter to a person who wanted to know his religious beliefs as a deist:

"You desire to know something of my religion. It is the first time I have been questioned upon it. But I cannot take your curiosity amiss, and shall endeavor in a few words to gratify it.

Here is my creed.

•I believe in one God, the creator of the universe.
•That he governs by his providence.
•That he ought to be worshipped.
•That the most acceptable service we render to him is doing good to his other children.
•That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this.

These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever sect I meet with them.

As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire,

•I think his system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes,
•and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his divinity;
•though it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble.
•I see no harm, however, in its being believed, if that belief has the good consequences, as probably it has, of making his doctrines more respected and more observed;
•especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the unbelievers in his government of the world with any peculiar marks of his displeasure.
"

1 January 2013 at 19:50  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

AnonymousInBelfast

I was not really looking at the motivation of the big powers involved rather the individuals that took part.


As I may have mentioned before. Near where I live is quite a large ruined chapel.

This was the chapel that mostly men took their oaths (After an extreme period of testing in some cases) to give up all earthly desires, money, marriage, family etc and to follow God where ever that may lead them.

After they had given the oath they were placed on a waiting ship. The destination they did not know. (Mostly in the early days it was the Holy Land)

They would be very unlikely to see their homes again.

Many thousands did this because they genuinely felt that God asked them to give their lives to him (Bride of Christ if you like)

The popular view we have of the Crusades are of hard men who are only interested in money and power etc. However, the evidence was that for the vast majority this was not the case.

I also believe that the freedoms we enjoy today are because Christians were willing to sacrifice themselves for God.

We tend judge them by today's standards and forget what they achieved (and enjoy the freedom to worship our God as Christians)through their sacrifice.


Yes yes we have moved beyond all that. However, what has God lost and we lost?

Should we try to regain this more uncomfortable aspect of good works?

Phil





1 January 2013 at 20:09  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Blofeld, I'm not about to start a major thread tangent but some of the evidence is in mitochrondrial DNA.

1 January 2013 at 20:14  
Blogger David B said...

Franklin was an interesting man, and a man of his age. There was certainly much to admire about him, not least the way in which he moved from slave-owner to vocal opponent of slavery during the course of his life.

I don't agree with his religious views, though. I can understand how, in his time, the argument from design could well be seen as a strong argument for some sort of theism, minimally deism.

Modern understanding of how order can (and in many cases observably does) emerge from chaos) to my mind destroys the argument from design, though.

I don't agree with him regarding the reported moral teaching of Jesus, either. I don't see that that can be maintained without a lot of cherry picking, as there are some pretty nasty things in some of what has been attributed to Jesus.

Belfast's post I found thoughtful, as ever, and he does offer a rationale for not arguing against his co-believers. I'm not sure on balance that I find that rationale persuasive, but I'm sure he acts for the best as he sees it.

I'll have to get back to some other points later, or perhaps tomorrow - I have other calls on my time for the next hour or so, and tomorrow I will be spending some time in hospital, either getting more chemo, or getting my cellulitis addressed. Maybe both.

David

1 January 2013 at 20:22  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"I'm sure he acts for the best as he sees it."

Ah not at all: I try to act in the way that best pleases God.

All the best for the hospital trip, David.

1 January 2013 at 20:41  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...



You try to act in the way that best pleases God. What is this!

Are you suggesting free will plays a part rather that irresistible grace? This somewhat contradicts Lutherarianism and most certainly Calvinism. Jacobus Arminius would agree with you though - so would Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox Churchee.

1 January 2013 at 20:55  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Dodo:

Ah you expose an important omission that might be misunderstood from my remark.

I do indeed try and please God, but would not be able to effect my own salvation if I relied on my capacity to do so.

I try. God saves.

1 January 2013 at 21:09  
Blogger David B said...

Belfast

"Ah not at all: I try to act in the way that best pleases God."

But is that not also acting for the best as you see it?

"All the best for the hospital trip, David"

Thanks

David

1 January 2013 at 22:07  
Blogger David B said...

@Phil Roberts

When I think of the crusades I can't help but also think of those poor kids driven by religious zeal and propaganda who sacrificed themselves in the interests of clearing minefields and getting the Iraqis to expend ammo during the Iraq/Iran war.

Your post could also be seen as something off an apology for suicide bombers.

Bad idea IMV.

David

1 January 2013 at 22:15  
Blogger David B said...

Blofeld, the 'were you there?' ploy is something of a double edged sword when addressing questions like the timing of the origin of man, the origin of earth, the origin of the universe.

Were you there when dead people in profusion are claimed to have run round the streets of Jerusalem.

Where would you like me to start? Evidence for an earth much older than Ussher claimed? Evidence for human art going back tens of thousands of years?

Or what

David B

1 January 2013 at 22:22  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Mr DanJo

Happy new year to you, my boy.

"Blofeld, I'm not about to start a major thread tangent but some of the evidence is in mitochrondrial DNA."

You have old Ernst at a slight disadvatage as you have not expanded your argument, however I am led to believe two key points.

1.There are 39 different. distinct mtDNA groups into which all humans fit and there are variations on these types. There is little change in the mtDNA from generation to generation as it is delivered solely from Mom during reproduction , unlike nuclear DNA from both mother and father, that changes by 50% each generation.

2.DNA biochemical scientists can compare the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in their databases to the Neanderthal ones scientists have recovered...and concluded that they see no evidence that any of the ancestors of the people tested had a Neanderthal for a mom. NO URKO OR ZIRA!!

You atheists (who deny creation) will have to keep on hoping that some half monkey-half what not, is what will be found that man came from rather than a direct creation from a Powerful Creator?
Like the scientists that deny a creation, all that happens is that you believe in something not proven with evidence from history, on an identical charge basis as put in our case!! or as Mr David B so 'eloquently' put it.."It should be understood by all but the most brainwashed and/or willfully ignorant"!*Guffaws and Snorts*

See http://www.plosgenetics.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pgen.0030104

Blofeld

1 January 2013 at 22:24  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

In a serious sense, no. The underpinning of my faith is that I do not know best, and that I accept my view of what appears best is, to use Hume's phrase, jaundiced.

I understand, I think the way you mean it: that I must make decisions in any case, and that I correlate my decision making to what I believe pleases God. But as pragmatic as this view is, it's not, in my experience, equivalent to doing what I see is best - and its a difference that is really quite practical in nature.

In one, I seat myself on the throne of reason, in the other I submit to a Throne above myself. This is often misperceived in terms of accountability: that somehow I get off having to explain myself or my actions because God wills it. In fact, it is entirely about accountability, but it's a question of Whom, and secondarily whom, I am accountable to: I am ultimately accountable for every action I take, every thought I engender. This is an entirely different proposition to either the view that I may act with impunity by divine decree, or that I may act as I see best.

In the round, it is the antithesis of arguments by utility: an action or a thought possesses moral weight even if it has no empirical consequences.

As I'm sure you can appreciate, that rather radically changes the way I see the world, and it certainly puts paid to the idea that I am fit to judge.

The missing link, though, will always be God. Without Him, all that I'm saying ends up tying itself in increasingly convoluted knots. It doesn't work with just the idea of God, or just a vague Christian culture. With Him it is remarkably simple, divinely so in fact.

1 January 2013 at 22:31  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

"Blofeld, the 'were you there?' ploy is something of a double edged sword when addressing questions like the timing of the origin of man, the origin of earth, the origin of the universe." A foolish argument as the scientist cannot create the conditions at the origin because they do not know!!!

Which areas of cosmology would you like to discuss that show that there is no defined proven facts , merely hypotheses!

"Were you there when dead people in profusion are claimed to have run round the streets of Jerusalem." No but others were who were eye witnesses..There is more space than matter in the chair that you are seated in due to the structure of atoms, yet you cannot see it unless shown by modern technology, does it not exist because you cannot see the space but only experience the matter supporting your weight! You needed an insight that mere 5 senses could not express or reveal so could not have been known except recently.

"Where would you like me to start? Evidence for an earth much older than Ussher claimed? Evidence for human art going back tens of thousands of years?

Or what" again, which areas of cosmology would you like to discuss that show that there is no defined proven facts , merely unsubstantiated hypotheses dressed as facts!

blofeld

1 January 2013 at 22:39  
Blogger len said...

Well said YG.


“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8–10


Paul is saying in Ephesians 2 that we are not saved BY good works (vv. 8–9) but TO good works. We are not saved because we have done' good works' but because God would have us do good works. So good works are a result, not the cause of, our salvation. We are saved by grace through faith alone, but not by a faith that remains alone.

1 January 2013 at 22:39  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Oh dear, what a poor start to your interregnum Cranmer.

The CofE has moved on since your last tenure. There can be no more talking of "the all-sufficiency of Christ's mercy for salvation" ... too divisive. Talk about the effect of tax credits on "the poor" and mention how the "rich are getting richer whilst the poor are getting poorer", an occasional reference to how "inclusive & diverse" the gospel is. Oh, and as long as you conclude that "God loves you" then that's the gospel bit done.

The CofE would be in better shape if it's Primates concentrated more on preaching messages like yours though.

I'm no theologian, but I know that my redeemer lives, that I was lost but now I'm found, was blind & now I see.

1 January 2013 at 22:54  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

In truth, God's message has become a little bit complicated and contentious down the years. I mean, how difficult is it to grasp the core themes?

We do live in a complex world however, and I truely believe God's message, in its full richness, has to be interpreted and applied by those chosen by Him.

Let's get back to one Church structure and authority, teaching one message, and put all our individual interpretations and ego's behind us.

You know it makes sense.

God Bless Pope Benedict in 2013!

2 January 2013 at 01:39  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

The idea of St. Ignatius Loyola and Jean Calvin agreeing on matters of faith is about as likely as Carl and I breathing the same air. I don't know where HG comes up with these ideas..too much Christmas cheer and bubbly methinks! Happy New Year@

2 January 2013 at 02:00  
Blogger John Magee said...

If and when Calvin and St. Ignatius of Loyola meet in the after life and stand together in front of the one true God of the universe who will judge each of as individuals and knows every thought we ever had there will be only one opinion that matters. God's.

2 January 2013 at 03:33  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Miserable couple of days. My daughter went back to Europe today. Why must children fly away in airplanes?

carl

2 January 2013 at 03:41  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Tony B

David B it seems to me that there is a point in any discussion with a Christian where they will start to fall back on literal interpretations of the Bible to support their position.

Actually we begin with the authority of Scripture. We don't fall back on it. In other words, your comment describes a feature and not a bug. Besides which, you really should be more discriminating in your use of 'literal.' It means something different to me than to you, and that difference is important.

carl

2 January 2013 at 03:47  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Phil

I was commenting on the relationship between good works and the men who perform them. I was not making any particular comment about any particular work. A man for example may give a cup of cold water to a stranger, or sacrifice his life for a stranger. Neither act in and of itself reflects anything about the nature of the man. The man without God may not appeal to it and say "See, I did a good thing and this establishes that I am a good person." This is how people want to use the concept. However, the Scripture says that all our righteousness amounts to nothing more than used menstrual rags when counted against the standard of holiness that God applies. Even the apparently good things that natural man may do will still be corrupted by sin. He will for example do these things to his own glory and not to the glory of God. And yet man was created for no other reason than to glorify God.

Man cannot escape his nature. This is why it is said that without faith it is impossible to please God. Everything not of faith is of sin.

carl

2 January 2013 at 03:58  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Ah Magee, spoken in the spirit of a true Protestant a.k.a. American Catholicism (convert's edition))

2 January 2013 at 04:57  
Blogger Mr. Mcgranor said...

I am a Protestant; as was Cranmer. He to embodied free-will; but did not give himself credit.
Fellows, free-will is not some godless practice. It is a matter of biblical proportion and even without such standing; it is obviously a factor among mankind.
Sure you have those that claim the mind of God; but as Wycliffe said: one 'will not know who the elect is until death'. The elect are stated in scripture; but not as exclusive heirs of Christ. Just as God predestined; man still is not left to a determinism that undermines creation--even in a depraved state.

2 January 2013 at 07:56  
Blogger David B said...

Carl, what do you mean by 'literal' then?

I tend to look at something that means what it says as being literal. I suppose there is a bit of wiggle room, particularly when talking about big numbers. The feeding of the 5000 for example I can take as meaning that lots and lots of people were supernaturally fed. Not that I believe it, but I wouldn't make a fuss about it being 5000 exactly.

It would help me understand your position better if you could tell me what you mean by 'literal'.

Regarding the idea od beginning with the authority of scripture, I'm not sure that that is a good idea, because there would appear to me to be problems concerning which (if any) scripture is has authority. Muslims or Mormons might also regard their scriptures as authoritative.

I personally also have some difficulties with explaining which books got into the bible and which didn't. I've picked up the idea from somewhere that someone influential in deciding what went into the Bible and what didn't decided that there had to be four Gospels and only four on numerological grounds. I regard numerology as somewhat suspect, you see.

David B

2 January 2013 at 07:58  
Blogger Paul T said...

Absolutely spot on your Grace.

It's what the Christian faith is all about.

You almost persuade me, as a nonconformist, to join the Church of England.


2 January 2013 at 08:56  
Blogger OldJim said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2 January 2013 at 09:40  
Blogger OldJim said...

Your Grace,

A wonderful post. I do not wish to start a theological argument at this time of year (we are within the twelve days of Christmas, and the Octave of Christian Unity approaches fast on its heels, so that even if I am again to be tempted, being a mere man, to odium theologicum (mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa) I shall certainly be more especially on my guard against it until February)

Nonetheless, some comments on some passages, for the sake of theological clarity of exposition.

As a Catholic, I can assent to every word you use in order to characterise Lutheranism. Man is indeed fallen beyond any earthly remedy until he encounters the grace of God.

On that precise point, from Trent:

If anyone asserts that this sin of Adam, which in its origin is one, and by propagation, not by imitation, transfused into all, which is in each one as something that is his own, is taken away either by the forces of human nature or by a remedy other than the merit of the one mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ, who has reconciled us to God in his own blood, made unto us justice, sanctification and redemption; or if he denies that that merit of Jesus Christ is applied both to adults and to infants by the sacrament of baptism rightly administered in the form of the Church, let him be anathema; for there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved.

Indeed, the question of co-operation with that Grace leads us closer to a "more Roman" worldview. I do not claim that man, by this co-operation, merits his salvation in any equivalent sense to that in which God has freely bestowed it on an undeserving sinner, but rather I insist on this co-operation because I do affirm that a man can reject his calling, renege on his vows, resist the Holy Spirit and reaffirm his sin when his eyes have been opened to it, and that all this is against the Will of God (for I deny that God has two Wills), who desires that all men should come to repentance: man cannot do good without God, but man always has available to him the freedom of veto, a power purely negative and self-destructive.


I deny that salvation has any special connection to "good works" in my theology, as compared to that, say, of an Arminian. Rather, I insist that the relationship between salvation and good works is, as you say, that of two effects flowing from the same cause, God's boundless and undeserved Grace, and I remain assured that this is the constant teaching of my Church.

Salvation abides in the living out of and in the living Grace of God, applied to a man for Christ's sake and not out of any merit in him, which manifests itself in the lives of Christians through the infused theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity, by which a man trusts and loves God as he ought, performs works of natural and supernatural virtue, is brought to efficaciously repent of the evil he has done and is provided with sufficient aid to avoid consciously performing gravely sinful acts.

A man who perseveres in and dies within this state of Graced friendship with God is saved.

I wish you and your communicants much joy in what remains of the Christmas season, and a peaceful Epiphany. I should like to thank you for the past year of your commentary, which has always been thought-provoking and often edifying, and to wish you personal happiness and another year of intelligent blogging in 2013.

2 January 2013 at 09:42  
Blogger Naomi King said...


From the Promises come the good works.

These qualities are yours [as a Believer] and increasingly abound in you, they will keep you from being idle or unfruitful unto the personal knowledge of our LORD Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One.

1 Add diligence to the divine promises, employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue, which is excellence, resolution and Christian energy.

2 In exercising virtue develop knowledge and intelligence.

3 In exercising knowledge develop self control.

4 In exercising self control develop steadfastness, which is patience and endurance.

5 In exercising steadfastness develop godliness and piety.

6 In exercising godliness and piety develop brotherly affection.

7 In exercising brotherly affection develop Christian love.

from the Amplified version.

2 January 2013 at 09:46  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

"Yeah, crucify Jesus. That'll solve everything."
Gosh, that's profound!

2 January 2013 at 10:45  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Naomi

That list from St Peter doesn't sound much like a "compulsion" following an irreversible transformation. It appears to require human effort in our redemption.

Not forgetting:

"Wherefore, brethren, labour the more, that by good works you may make sure your calling and election. For doing these things, you shall not sin at any time."

2 January 2013 at 11:51  
Blogger Corrigan said...

Sorry I'm late. Here's the final authority on the issue, directly from the Catholic Encyclopedia.


The Church teaches that justification consists of an actual obliteration of sin and an interior sanctification. Protestantism, on the other hand, makes of the forgiveness of sin merely a concealment of it, so to speak


Which, I suppose, means that just saying, "let's forget the whole thing like nothing ever happened" doesn't really do it for us. The Magisterium has spoken

2 January 2013 at 12:18  
Blogger OldJim said...

Danj0,

This is simply answered. Atheists can of course do good works, because God offers actual graces to all - these are graces by which people are moved to perform good acts.

When you pass someone who has stumbled and dropped their bags in the sales, and you feel a pang to help them pick their stuff up - that's actual grace. What's different for a Christian is that they understand what actual grace is - that it comes from outside them and they are not "good people" for having been struck by the idea, that responding to actual graces is a duty and a privilege, and not an option and a merit, that responding to actual graces will not make up for evil done, but is a grateful response to prior forgiveness, that doing good is not a loss to us and gain to others but a gain for all; that we will only be fulfilled not in seeking our own pleasure and advantage but in doing what is right out of love for God and for other people.

Doing good doesn't restore people to righteousness. This can easily be demonstrated.

The classic pagan understanding is that people can do good and bad things and that these things balance each other out. I can "atone" for the wrong I have done and then we are all square - see Karma and related concepts. This has an obvious appeal - if I steal from someone today, and I feel a gnawing at my conscience, then I might feel disposed to restore their property, or, if I know I won't see them again, go and work at a soup kitchen or something, in order to "make up" for it.

Again, if you knew someone who had reformed their life in this sort of manner you might think that they had earned your forgiveness, were right with society, and if you considered the possibility that there was a God, you would probably imagine that they were right with Him too.

But we can see the error by reversing the reasoning. Say I go help out at a soup kitchen today - will I then be licensed to steal something tomorrow, as long as I balance the red and the black overall?

No.

2 January 2013 at 12:53  
Blogger OldJim said...


So when you think someone makes up for wrong by right, you don't mean that the two balance out, what you mean is that so long as the wrong precedes the right, the presence of right action leads you to conclude that the person has had an interior change of heart, has "turned their life around" - in latin, "a conversion".

So doing good doesn't atone for doing bad - rather, doing good might reflect an interior change of heart which would itself reflect a repentance for having done bad. And it is this interior change of heart which softens us to a person against whom we might otherwise have borne a grudge - their good act being merely an outward sign - and not their having "balanced their karma".

So an atheist can be moved by two graces prior to becoming a Christian - actual and prevenient graces. Actual graces call and help a person to "do the right thing" in a particular situation. Prevenient graces prepare a person's soul to right order, often through a properly religious act or feeling - prayer, repentance, baptism, the reading of scripture, spontaneous worship.

No matter how many actual graces you respond to, good doesn't balance out bad - there needs to be an interior change of heart. In other words, there needs to be a response to prevenient grace.

The Christian conviction is that these prevenient graces, properly responded to, call a person presented with the truth of Christianity to repent of any evil they have done, accept Christ as their saviour and conform themselves to God's will by obeying the ordinances of the Christian community - the Church.

By repenting of sin (in Catholicism this is offered not only at baptism but through the mediation of a priest in a confessional) a person is restored to sanctifying grace, which imparts the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity, and allows a person not merely to more consistently respond to actual graces, but to be properly ordered towards them i.e. to perform them with the right intentions.

These "good works" are then qualitatively different to those of an atheist - because they are properly ordered and the person performing them has the correct grasp of their significance as they do so.

2 January 2013 at 12:53  
Blogger Naomi King said...

The Way of the Dodo

St Paul - but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.

2 January 2013 at 13:38  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Yes Naomi, scripture is rich indeed. Who can possibly grasp the full revelation of God?

Old Jim
Aren't you saying that love of Christ inspires us to love our neighbour and to go through life trying, with God's grace, and the aid of the Church, to put others before ourselves?

2 January 2013 at 14:03  
Blogger William said...

Corrigan

"Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger for ever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot.You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea." Micah 7:18-19

The Lord has spoken.

2 January 2013 at 14:16  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

David B

A 'literal' interpretation takes account of the type of literature presented in the book. Why do I read Genesis as history? Because it presents as history. Why do I read Revelation as apocalyptic literature? Because it presents as apocalyptic literature. Much of the 'Left Behind' nonsense stems from reading the Book of Revelation is if it were a literal rendition of future history. If you have the time and interest, do a search for something called the "Chicago Statement." It will give you a pretty good understanding.

In my experience, when an apologetic opponent talks disparagingly about a 'literal reading' of Scripture, what he is really rejecting is the divine authority behind the text in favor of some other authority. He isn't telling me to read it in some other 'non-literal' way. He is telling me to remove Scripture from its position as the 'norm that norms all norms.' What would he offer in its place? That question never gets answered. He would like to reference some analog of 'science.' But the scientific method is inadequate to answer the questions that he would pose. His actual answer is 'power,' but he is afraid to admit it. So he retreats into protestations of progress and process.

carl

2 January 2013 at 15:00  
Blogger Naomi King said...

One for Laurence and other unbelievers

The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

2 January 2013 at 15:11  
Blogger John Magee said...

carl jacobs

Sorry to hear about your daughter's departture. Is she a student or in the service?

2 January 2013 at 15:27  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

OldJim: for I deny that God has two Wills

The doctrine of the "two wills" is really a rather badly named one, as that implies two kinds of the same thing being present in God, when all this is really saying is that there is a potential equivocation in the word "will" that we ought to clear up.

However if you deny such a distinction and collapse God's sovereign will and moral will, I'm at a loss to know how you make sense of the crucifixion: was the crucifixion of Christ a sin, and therefore against the will of God in some sense? Was it sovereignly decreed by Him beforehand? If so, how do you not make the distinction between the sovereign and moral will (as it seems to me that to answer no to either of the above two questions is to deny a clear Biblical teaching)?

2 January 2013 at 15:46  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Thomas Kenningly

Did Jesus have any choice, in His human free will, in accepting the crucifixion?

2 January 2013 at 16:39  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Yes, Dodo, he did have a choice. But there was no possibility that he would have chosen to turn aside from it. Choice does not require the possibility at least two outcomes. It simply requires human will freely executed.

carl

2 January 2013 at 16:59  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Carl

The eldest 4 of mine fly back to work college or school in the UK over the next few days

I pray for Christian spouses, none so far

Phil

2 January 2013 at 17:50  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

OldJim: "These "good works" are then qualitatively different to those of an atheist - because they are properly ordered and the person performing them has the correct grasp of their significance as they do so."

Obviously "properly ordered" and "correct" depends on your god hypothesis and all that follows from it. I don't recognise it myself.

When I help people, it's usually altruism. I'm not just being benevolent on a whim, I'm driven to do so. If I don't do so when I could then I get pangs from my conscience.

It's my duty to help people. However, like with most people I expect, the pull of that duty decreases rapidly as distance increases.

2 January 2013 at 17:52  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

John Magee

My daughter is a teacher. The idiocies of the American education system drove her to Europe to pursue her dream. She hopes to return one day to aid the coming revolution against the Nomenklatura who currently run our failed and failing system.

carl

2 January 2013 at 17:57  
Blogger David B said...

Carl, I would suggest consilience as a way of judging whether scriptures (Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Mormon, Hindu or whatever) as a way of judging what is and what is not true in scriptures.

Yes, I take your point that you may well think that Revelation doesn't present itself as literally true, while Genesis does and parables don't.

I really can't see anything to justify believing that one creation myth among a vast number should be literally true, and all the rest false, though.

Particularly when the myth in question is not consilient with loads of other stuff we can be reasonably said to know, in anything but the most strict version of the word 'know'.

The loads of other stuff, however, is pretty much consilient internally, and the most strict interpretations of the word 'know' imply that you cannot really know that solipsism or last thursdayism is not true.

David

2 January 2013 at 18:26  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Carl

I do hope your daughter isn't teaching English!

2 January 2013 at 19:10  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Dodo

Well, yes, a big part of her job is teaching English. Why? Are you in some back-handed manner disputing my exemplary command of the English language? I get enough of that snooty 'Of course I write better than you, Dad' snobbery from her, thanks.

carl

2 January 2013 at 19:18  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

David B

I wasn't offering an apologetic. I was responding to the imprecise use of language. I find it irritating when someone say "He reads scripture literally" when what that someone means is "He believes what it says." If I didn't believe what it said, why would I give it any credence at all? Now, there are numerous people on this weblog who are intimidated by the high priests of science. That's why they meander into inconsistencies like theistic evolution. I am able to recognize materialist dogma masquerading as science when I see it, and I react accordingly.

In the meantime, we are all confronted with this central question "How should we then live?" It is a moral question and one for which I have answers. Those answers are rooted in Scripture which I presuppose to be true. You have no answers. If the nature of existence is as you say wholly immanent, then morality exists nowhere outside the mind of limited finite creatures. It is merely an abstract model imposed on existence. Actions simply are. They have no moral content except that given by the observer. Since any observer can impose any model he likes, any man can live any way he likes subject only to his ability to enforce his will.

That is the reality of the world you think you inhabit. Men may act as they desire. If they are sufficiently powerful, they will never be called to account. The grave becomes for them a safe hiding place where their deeds are forgotten. What of those who were the objects of their deeds? Who will provide justice for them? Well, no one. There is no justice. There is only power.

That's the replacement for which I ask. You reject Scripture. Tell me then the binding authority that regulates the behavior of men. If you don't have an answer, then be consistent. Bow to your Master, Friedrich Nietzsche, and accept his yoke. Except his yoke is not easy, and his burden is not light.

carl

2 January 2013 at 19:45  
Blogger John Magee said...

carl jacobs

It wasn't aways so. We once had a superb public school system served by dedicated teachers. I remember that era well.

I hope you are able to visit your daughter during summer vacations or vice versa.

2 January 2013 at 19:48  
Blogger David B said...

Carl, do you think that there has ever been a binding authority regulating the behaviour of men (and women!)

The Pharisees in biblical times couldn't do it, nor the Romans, the church of Rome, the various totalitarian regimes, religious and otherwise.

I suppose the Khan dynasty came close, and the Hittites, the Khomeini regime and the North Korean dynasty.

But none of them really lasted, because, I suppose, many people prefer freedom of some sort to binding authorities.

Apart from existing, do you really think that a putative binding authority regulating the the behaviours of men (all of them!) is a good idea?

I don't, to be honest - I prefer lots of people making value judgements on the good and bad points of many different ideas and behaviours.

I don't want to live in North Korea.

David

2 January 2013 at 20:07  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Carl asked ...

"Are you in some back-handed manner disputing my exemplary command of the English language?

Let me answer with a story.

Four literary scholars are conversing over drinks after a day at an international meeting. As the drinks begin to take effect, the British expert begins bragging.

"Britain produced the finest form of literary expression in the sonnet," he says. "It's fourteen lines of perfect romantic expression."

The Irish scholar retorts "Ireland produced a far more effective and efficient literary form in the limerick. In just five lines, we can express a variety of thoughts, many of them making fun of you Brits".

The Japanese savant calmly says "In Japan we have perfected literary expression in the haiku. We express the most profound concepts in just three lines and seventeen syllables."

The American jumps up and says, "Well, we can beat that. We've perfected communication with a one-unit literary form, and we've covered our entire country with it. It's the billboard".


2 January 2013 at 20:22  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

David B

You're missing the point about absolute morality. It just is - regardless of whether men chose to follow it or whether regimes attempt to impose it. Even if everyone ignored it, it would still be there.

And those of us who accept this, also recognise that when it isn't followed men suffer - individually and collectively.

2 January 2013 at 20:29  
Blogger David B said...

Hmm, Dodo

When people do accept the putative absolute morality based on any of the three major middle eastern scriptures, the people who tend to suffer have been women, and men who dissent from whichever scripture happens to be on top at the time, does it not?

If being able to go shopping or watch cricket on TV on a Sunday is suffering, then I prefer suffering to being ordered about by Pharisaical followers of some sort of imagined absolute.

David B

2 January 2013 at 21:04  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "You're missing the point about absolute morality. It just is - regardless of whether men chose to follow it or whether regimes attempt to impose it. Even if everyone ignored it, it would still be there."

No. It's defined that way but it doesn't mean it is actually so. Big difference. Your version depends on your god hypothesis. If the hypothesis is false then the whole lot ends up in a heap.

2 January 2013 at 21:13  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

DanJ0, as a student of history, this man can tell you this: No god, anything goes. Wriggle as you might, and to be honest you do come across as an honourable man, but you cannot escape the truth of that...


2 January 2013 at 22:02  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

David B said ...
"When people do accept the putative absolute morality based on any of the three major middle eastern scriptures, the people who tend to suffer have been women, and men who dissent from whichever scripture happens to be on top at the time, does it not?"

One can't deny history and the mainstream Christian Churches recognise and accept they have made mistakes.

However, this doesn't rule out the existence of an absolute morality. It just means people aren't that good at implementing it. From my perspective, the focus should be on doing so and not dismissing the existence of such a morality.

DanJ0
Of course the existence of an absolute and transcendent morality presupposes the existence of a God who has our wellbeing in mind and has designed us to live in ways attuned to His will.

I have no problem with that.

2 January 2013 at 22:28  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

David B

First things first.

...of men (and women!)

I refused to be bludgeoned into using some ridiculous construct like "he or she" merely to appease the feminist brownshirts who live to emasculate both men and language. It's my private little war of resistance.

do you think that there has ever been a binding authority regulating the behaviour of men (and women!)

You have immanentized the question and therefore changed it. No, men are incapable of producing any such thing, and that is the summary of my main point. Such an authority must be external to man or it cannot exist. God provides the authority which is by definition binding and has existed since before the creation of man.

But none of them really lasted, because, I suppose, many people prefer freedom of some sort to binding authorities.

No, men do not necessarily prefer freedom. They prefer freedom for themselves. "I should like to be free of work. I think I shall take from A what I need." What is wrong with this logic? The answer typically given is self-interest. "If I can steal from A, then B can steal from me." To which a very logical answer would be "I can steal from A because I am strong, and B had better not steal from me because I will kill him if he does." What is the flaw in this response? That A & B both have intrinsic value? What binds a man to believe that if he chooses not to do so?

Apart from existing, do you really think that a putative binding authority regulating the the behaviours of men (all of them!) is a good idea?

Yes, the Law is good because it reflects the nature of God and the created purpose of man. In the absence of this law, you will live in the jungle among beasts. Is it better to live with law or no law?

I don't want to live in North Korea.

Why? Isn't it because you understand that North Korea is an arbitrary law unto itself and there is no one to call it to account? This is an excellent example of the problem. Who provides justice for the oppressed in NK? Who vindicates the people sent to die in North Korea's prison camps for falling afoul of the North Korean government? They live with suffering and die in misery. Their jailors live in plenty and die in comfort. Isn't this a perfectly valid moral outcome in a world with no binding authority?

You may judge NK by your understanding. But your judgments have no weight. You have neither authority to command change, nor power to compel it. Other men possess the power and so you desire to stay clear. You don't wish to personally fall victim to injustice without recompense, and yet this is exactly your understanding of the world in which you live - various powers competing to establish various visions. It's no longer a matter of right and wrong or good and evil. In the end, all that matters is victory or defeat.

To the victor belongs the vision.

carl

2 January 2013 at 22:45  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

If it helps David B, I did watch quite an interesting discussion, question and answer session between Chief Rabbi Sacks and Professor Richard Dawkins on the BBC Parliament Channel earlier. I think Rabbi Sacks did well in his replies to the audience and to Professor Dawkins. And if I may add, please to note that the discussion was very civilised.

2 January 2013 at 23:11  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

I do not think I would want to live in North Korea either; a Stalinist Communist state, with poverty and mass starvation and almost zero freedom, but a state which would rather build nuclear weapons and see its people starve.

And if that does not convince anyone of the nature of the so-called communist utopia, go and watch the film 'team america'?

2 January 2013 at 23:15  
Blogger John Magee said...

carl & david kavanagh

At least three million people starved to death in North Korea during the 1990's and the world didn't blink an eye. There were of stories people eating grass and fainting from hunger on the streets.

The lights go out at midnight in all of North Korea with a musical piece played on loud speakers on the streets, on the radio, and on TV. The same thing happens in the morning when the country awakes together to march off to work in some horrible factory or on a collective farm. It's like a gigantic military camp. Which of course it is.

Those people need our prayers.

3 January 2013 at 00:12  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

John Magee,

I agree with you, the people of North Korea do need our prayers.

3 January 2013 at 01:22  
Blogger Naomi King said...

This might amuse you ...

Like everyone else I tried to fly through my life
Using only my feelings and instincts
By trial and error from the day I was born
I'd always heard that was the way it was done

Repeat chords to Verse:

So, I took the throttle and I made my own course
I headed out somewhere that way
But I hit some heavy weather and crashed and burned
Now listen to the lesson that I had to learn

Chorus:
If you're not living by the Word of God
You're flying by the seat of your pants
If you're not living in Jesus I wouldn't give you a snowball's chance

Your automatic pilot isn't doing too well
There's been a major malfunction and you're headed for hell
If you're not living by the Word of God you're flying by the seat of your pants

Repeat chords to Verse:

Now life may bring me some spins and some dives
And zero visibility too
But by His direction and by His word
I know I can make it through
With his Spirit as co-pilot here inside
Using His flight manual for my guide
I'll make a three point landing on the other side
And brother He'll do the same for you

Chorus:
But if you're not living by the Word of God
You're flying by the seat of your pants
If you're not living in Jesus I wouldn't give you a snowball's chance
Your automatic pilot isn't doing too well
There's been a major malfunction and you're headed for hell
You'd better stop flyin' by the seat of your pants and start livin' by the Word of God

Start livin' by the Word, livin' by the Word, livin' by the Word of God

3 January 2013 at 07:59  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Carl

You might like this ( 2 min long) which is relevant to you post above and shows the best of British humour.

The last sentence which is partially cut off says " it is symbolic of his struggle against reality"


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFBOQzSk14c&feature=player_embedded#!

Also on Anglican Mainstream

Phil


3 January 2013 at 09:04  
Blogger Corrigan said...

Don't know about Carl, but I stopped watching when I copped it was the Pythons. I got past the undergraduate stage when I got my first job.

3 January 2013 at 14:09  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Corrigan @ 14.09, you may have missed... this gem posted by communicant Laurence Boyce @ 00.26 on 1st Jan.

http://youtu.be/stBMqtGo3xY

Your comments?

Don't hold back.

3 January 2013 at 21:41  
Blogger Jacobus Arminius said...

The Roman View is false. They do no such thing. They are the will of Satan. Many a Calvinist and Lutheran; like to equate Arminianism with the Papist and their underlings the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox; but this is falsehood.
In application--without theoretical debate--is the reality that only the Protestant is capable of co-operating with God. As a consequence of our popular standing; the secular-humanism, postmodern nihilism, pretended catholicity and Judaizing has lead to the rebellion of that sought obedience.
As a consequence of this, the Holy Spirit now works without their will; as they struggle against the Holy Spirit.

7 January 2013 at 01:16  
Blogger Mr. Mcgranor said...

Arminius; are you saying that one can struggle against the Holy Spirit?

7 January 2013 at 01:25  
Blogger Jacobus Arminius said...

Vain is such a struggle. However, man can be left to his own devices. Of which such could lead to incredible travesty.

7 January 2013 at 01:36  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

What a remarkable coincidence, or is it a veritable miracle, Mr. Mcgranor? You are an "Arminian-Lollard" and out of the blue comes out a fellow "Arminian" who writes just like you!

8 January 2013 at 22:06  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Not just any Arminian; 'tis Jacobus, 'd man, himself!

A miracle, surely?

8 January 2013 at 22:12  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Sock Puppetry on this site is a nefarious crime which carries a punishment of detention in the Tower for an indefinite period. Scotland Yard has been briefed. Extradition warrants are being prepared...

9 January 2013 at 18:32  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Jacobus Arminius

As a consequence of our popular standing; the secular-humanism, postmodern nihilism, pretended catholicity and Judaizing has lead to the rebellion of that sought obedience.

"Judaizing?" That's a strange word to use, and dangerously susceptible to misunderstanding. I am going to take a charitable guess that you are making a reference to the Book of Galatians, and the efforts of some to add works of the OT Law to the Gospel. Is that correct? If so, you should probably find a different way to say it. Your post came across as equating Judaism to post-modern nihilism, secular humanism, et al.

carl
Reminding everyone that the Remonstrants were wrong

10 January 2013 at 05:19  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Carl

I always understood the term to refer to those groups claiming it is still necessary for Christians to obey some or all of the Mosaic Laws in the first five books of the Christian Old Testament. All this centres on the understanding of the outcome of the Jerusalem Council written of in Acts 15.

Genesis 17:14: "No uncircumcised man will be one of my people."

Inerrant and incapable of change? Or, given Christ's Commission to Peter and the Apostles to loose and bind, capable of revision based on the God given authority passed to them?

10 January 2013 at 14:24  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Just to remind people of the Five Articles of Remonstrant:

- The divine decree of predestination is conditional, not absolute;
- The Atonement is in intention universal;
- Man cannot of himself exercise a saving faith;
- The grace of God is a necessary condition of human effort it does not act irresistibly in man; and
- Believers are able to resist sin but are not beyond the possibility of falling from grace.

10 January 2013 at 14:28  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

And the Five Articles of Calvinism:

- Total depravity or total inability on the part of man to resist sin;
- Unconditional election and damnation of those chosen by God before their birth for salvation, grounded in granting or withholding of His Mercy alone;
- Limited atonement, where Christ only died for those predetermined saved and not for all mankind;
- Irresistible grace for those selected by God for salvation whereby they have no choice in the matter;
- Preservation of the Saints, meaning God's sovereignty is such that all those predetermined for salvation will be saved.

10 January 2013 at 14:38  

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