It’s because I need more content here and because I’m too lazy to create more original stuff! You can see the original post and the discussion on my other blog here. I wanted to put a few more links into this one and put it out for more general consumption. I’m still working my way into the particulars, but I think most Christians will benefit from a little more reading on the subject. And yes, I am trying to be nice.
XH, no matter what I say or what I’ve said, I do want you to know that I appreciate your thoughtful participation in these discussions. You have consistently forced me to dig deeper and reach further in order to parse out what my beliefs really are, as well as educate myself. You have aways exasperated me in your pronouncements and your own statements of belief, which causes no small amount of irritation. You vex me. It has taken me some time to parse out why that is.
Probably the biggest source of conflict betwixt us, is your adherence to an orthodoxy that is contrary to basic protestant belief. In order to determine that, I had to boil out the essentials of protestant belief and once I did that, I saw more clearly what the trouble was. I found it by looking up the five solas of the Protestant reformation.
1. Sola Scriptura – By scripture alone. In many respects, you seem to abide by this, but you do take a Roman Catholic approach where they say scripture can only be interpreted through apostolic tradition. Your comments above readily show a commitment to the primacy of apostolic tradition in interpreting scripture. I do not subscribe ot this as you do, hence much of our conflict. You have your reasons for this. You and I are going to have to agree to disagree on this because there is a feud over this which spans generations. We will not solve it here.
2. Sola Fide – By Faith alone. Since this is an extension of sola #1, we will not find much agreement here. I say we are *declared* righteous by God. You say we are *made* righteous by God. Faith either yields justification and good works, or faith and good works yield justification. More simply, either you are saved by faith alone or you are saved by faith + works. You argue and operate from the second hence your final declaration above. We will not find agreement here, XH.
3. Sola Gracia – By grace alone. Our salvation is something that is totally unmerited by us sinners. God is the sole actor in in the grace that saves us and we can not act on our own behalf to earn more grace. There is no meritocracy in regards to salvation. That doesn’t mean there will not be rewards in Heaven, but salvation is not contingent upon our merit. This is in direct contradiction to the second half of your first comment above. No wonder you drive so many of us bonkers. You have us believing that you are a protestant, when in fact you do not adhere to its most fundamental tenets! You have your reasons. Is it reasonable for me to accept that two rational and intelligent people can come to two different conclusions on this? I am not saying we are both correct. I’m saying that we may agree to disagree. (If you follow the link, you’ll see that the Catholic, Lutheran and Methodists have actually found some common ground on this issue.)
4. Solus Christus – Christ Alone. This is the belief that there are no mediators between God and man save for Christ Himself. This is the fundamental belief in the priesthood of the believer. By all of your assertions above which seem to buttress the argument for apostolic succession and apostolic authority, this is a fundamental difference between us. We are not going to agree on this, XH. In your eyes, I am a heretic and destined for eternal damnation in the fires of Hell because I cling to this heresy. You have your reasons for believing as you do, but I do not agree with them because I have counter arguments arguing the opposite. I have tried to make them before, and may do so again. But this argument is about 450 years old. It will probably outlive both of us.
5. Soli deo gloria – glory to God alone. The apostles and the saints could do nothing apart from God and His grace. According them special privileges or status based on their merits or their works goes against this principle. The apostles were agents of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is the same Holy Spirit that empowers each of us. We don’t need to venerate them, we need to give credit to God. In this respect, I don’t see you having any special issue here, XH, but I might be wrong. I’m not going to try to point out differences where none may exist. You and I may find common ground here.
But based on the discoveries here, it does beg the question as to how you legitimize your membership and affiliation in your own congregational denomination. Because it seems to me that you routinely argue and teach directly in opposition to 4 of the 5 basic tenets of Protestant belief. Your denomination was a break away from other more established protestant denominations and it suffers from divisions and schisms even more petty than those things we’ve discussed here!
You’re a smart guy, XH. Maybe even brilliant and gifted in this area. I have no doubt that you will be fast tracked into the leadership of your congregation and perhaps your denomination on a regional or even national level. Your solution to the ills of your church is to work hard in order to become a leader in authority so that you can compel your flock to conform to your teachings. Instead of breaking away, you force a slow bend. The founders of your outfit must be spinning in their graves!
What you are teaching here, is heresy to what they believed. You aren’t submitting under the authority of your elders, you are simply biding your time while introducing these ideas incrementally! It’s the old frog-in-the-kettle trick where you gradually increase the heat so no one even realizes that they are being burned. You can do this precisely because you are gifted and intelligent, and probably quicker on the uptake than those folks who are supposed to be in authority above you. And you are respected. That’s probably your biggest asset, because people will frankly forget a lot of what you teach them but they will remember your good character. And that is the way I want to finish this, because there are certain parts of this that might look bad on you. I don’t see it that way. I respect your sincerity and the legitimacy of your motives. You want to do what is right by those you care about. Got it. You have some very rational reasons for believing what you do, supported by both scripture and tradition. Got it. So do I.
I’m not willing to call you evil, despite your heresy and the error of your ways. Can you forgive me?