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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Can We Really Know if Someone is Truly Following Christ?

This is my final comment to UK John on the ridiculously long series of comments on the latest 'Christian Carnival' post (which has 60-something comments- who would have even thought it would have one??!) The basic argument here is this:

UK John's position: We cannot determine if someone is truly Christian by what they say. We can say they are wrong. We cannot say they are not following Christ.

Teamhammer's (and RT and Robert's) position: Those who deny the core truths of Christ cannot know Him and are not His.

For those of you who started reading the comments and gave up (which I don't blame you), these final comments and quotes from UK John wrap up the whole debate. Why is the title of this post even important, and why is it anyone's business if someone else is truly following Christ? Because we must distinguish the lies from the truth. If we take someone at their word when the say they are a Christian and don't challenge the validity of their proclamation, we can be deceived and led into believing a falsehood. We must be clear to others who question the Christian faith what a real Christian believes- what characteristics to look for in a sincere Christian and what sound doctrine to believe about Christ. We are not to point a judgmental finger at someone and go around haughtily deciphering who is real and who is fake for the sake of "being right" or proving our own genuiness or righteousness, but we are to discern truth and uncover lies for the sake of leading others into knowledge of the truth. We are to have concern over lost souls and those who are being deceived and this is why it is vitally important to know if someone is truly following Christ when they say they are a Christian.

I am speaking to John throughout the rest of this post, but you'll get the point:

Since I am consistently accused of misunderstanding, reinterpreting, and putting words into your mouth, I will use your exact words in numerous places throughout this strain of comments to show for the last time why your argument does not make sense, and where the real issues lie, as well as a final attempt to explain our position as crystal clear as it can be:


what matters is not what we say (i.e. that we use the right creeds or the right names for God) but what we do (i.e. that we do the will of the Father in heaven).

Acts 4:12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

One can be converted, saved, elected, and yet have incorrect fundamental beliefs about God.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say this is true.

When I asked what “following Christ” means, you said this:

Following Christ means following Christ (if you'll excuse the tautology). "Follow" as in "walk in the way of", "go with as a companion", "do what He says and does". "Christ" as in "Jesus", "the Son of God", "the second Person of the Trinity".


You are defining who Christ is by stating the FACTS about Him! So to “follow Christ” do we, or do we not, have to believe these facts about Him? This seems to contradict everything else you’ve been saying, such as:

provided that we are really following Christ it doesn't fundamentally matter what we believe about Him.

Whatever we understand Him to be is irrelevant if only we hear His voice and do as He commands

"Christianity is a relationship with the person who Jesus actually is." What we think Jesus is like is largely irrelevant to this point (although crucial in other ways!).

"we cannot tell [where someone stands with Christ] from the facts that someone assents to"


The truth about Christ is important, but what is central is who Christ is.

You can’t separate “who Christ is” from “the truth”!

John 14:6- I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life.

Someone is far more likely to follow Christ if they have heard of Him and about Him.

This is an example of why I called much of what you are saying “nonsense”. It is not possible to follow Christ if someone has never heard of Him or about Him.

Over and over you demand we cannot determine if someone is not a Christian without “spiritual revelation”:

unless we receive a spiritual revelation. We cannot tell by reading what someone has written

we may not say (without divine revelation) that they are unsaved.

we cannot be sure of this without specific spiritual revelation or personal knowledge

We may not say that they are damned without spiritual revelation.

The Bible is the final and authoritative SPIRITUAL REVELATION! It gives us the spiritual insight to distinguish the truth from the lies, the false teachings from the sound doctrine, and the saved from the unsaved!

(Robert asked you:)"How much of Christ’s nature can be denied before one is no longer a genuine Christian...Where is the line of demarcation or do you think that there isn’t one?"

(Your response to Robert was): By "Christian" do you mean "member of the Christian religion" or "follower of Christ"? If the former, none of it. If the latter, all of it apart from His existence…But the absence of facts (or even their denial) doesn't prove that the relationship is absent.

This is a denial of the obvious. If my husband says he married a tall, black woman from Brooklyn who is a tax lawyer, he didn’t marry me! If he says he just met me, and that I am a Korean-American student at Oxford University, he hasn’t met me! We cannot have a relationship with someone we can’t even describe basic facts about!! Am I much more than my color, height, education and residence? Of course I am – but if you don’t even know those things about me, you can’t claim to have a relationship with me!

"Believe in your heart" doesn't mean "believe with every fibre of your being", as is sometimes suggested.

You need to do a Bible study about the heart. The Bible describes the heart as the core of our being. Believing in our heart means with everything that we are.

we have established from Romans that we must confess Christ as Lord. This is not a propositional fact but the establishment of a relationship.

Confessing Christ as Lord means just what it says. We must acknowledge that Christ is Lord (His divinity!) to be saved. It is not just confessing His lordship over us or an “establishment of a relationship”.

We have also established that a belief in the resurrection is required - although any claim to follow a Christ who is not alive is illogical. (And, remember, this verse just says that God raised Him from the dead. It doesn't require any particular understanding of that fact

When the Bible refers to the resurrection, it means BODILY. While his body had its limits removed, Jesus was seen, heard, held, fed, spoken with, and observed ascending into the sky. A “spiritual resurrection” means nothing. THE TOMB IS EMPTY- THE BODY IS GONE!

No vague verses saying that Christians recognise "truth" will do - you are claiming that Christians must recognise specific facts to be genuinely saved.

No matter how many verses we have given (including Romans 10:9), you manage as you always do, to excuse or explain how it doesn’t actually mean what it says (as you did in the homosexuality debate). So it really doesn’t matter how many more verses I lay out because you don’t believe in the inerrancy of Scripture (as defined in the series).

You are demanding that we give you a verse that lays out specifically ‘you must believe a, b & c’ to be saved. We’ve already given you that. You must believe in Jesus Christ to be saved, with which you repeatedly agree. But Jesus IS something definable! He is defined by certain characteristics which we have repeatedly laid out here. A denial (not a simple misunderstanding!) of these characteristics of WHO HE IS and WHAT HE DID, means that you are NOT FOLLOWING JESUS, but a god of your own making whom you can call ‘Jesus’ if that makes you feel Christian, but you AREN’T one! (I am speaking in general terms here when I say “you”)

Verses about “truth” are fundamentally important in this line of discussion for this reason:

Jesus said He came to bear witness to the TRUTH. (John 18:37)

And, "every one that is of the truth heareth my voice." We can't hear His voice unless we recongnize the TRUTH (the FACTS!) about Him! (John 18:37)

What is truth?

THY WORD IS TRUTH! (Psalm 119:60)

The Bible is truth. That is why everything in this exhaustive line of commenting returns to the issue of Biblical inerrancy.

Jesus asked this profound question:

"Who do you say that I am?" (Mark 8:29)

He asked this because it is a question of salvific importance. Our answer to that question determines where we will spend eternity!

The gospel of John tells us: "[The gospel] is written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believeing (these facts about WHO Jesus actually is!) ye might have life through His name." John 20: 31

Borg and his followers deny the core fact that Jesus is the divine Son of God! This denial means they do not have "life through His name" as this verse says!!



23 Comments:

  • Mrshammer,

    I'm definitely looking forward to the remainder of the series on inerrancy.

    While the ideas have always been around in my mind, never before have I had a true explanation of how someone calls themselves 'Christian', yet supports completely anti-biblical situations, sins, ideas and denies core philosophies.

    I truly could never understand liberal Christians because the Bible is the Word of God, and it is the ultimate communication for our lives with Christ-right? Only for some of us!

    I get it now. For people like Borg, John, MB (the new-found blog moderator of Ruth's blog, apparently) and where Ruth is going on her blog-because she can't understand why God would.... they simply will not believe the Bible as it is intended-'it has changed, it doesn't really mean that, your church must tell you what it actually means, you can believe whatever you want, you can call sin something sweet and it will make you feel better, the Lord has no wrath, only love, there is no hell', etc.

    If there is no committment to 100% inerrent Scripture being the communication of the "lamp unto my feet", and Thy Word is Truth,then we have no basis for anything. We can think, be or believe whatever we choose.

    They will still call themselves Christians, while saying that Christ probably didn't say, do or be x, y and z, and then others look at them and say, "See! Being a Christian doesn't mean you have to stand up for the Christ of the Bible! Fools who do!" Those souls will obviously conform to their easier counterparts, where their god is a humanitarian leader and spiritual guru, like Ghandi.

    Afterall, if there is no 'sin' only brokenness, then there is no true repentance. If there is no bodily resurrection, only a spiritual one, then there is no true act of love. This unitarian world view of love, that lacks who Jesus really is, will be the defining easier choice for millions of souls.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 9/24/2006 10:34:00 AM  

  • I added a few things towards the end of this post. Please re-read the last part because it a critical element that came to me this morning, and I knew I had to edit the post to include it.

    By Blogger mrshammer, at 9/24/2006 02:23:00 PM  

  • I can't help but think of the Church of Ephesus, in Revelation.

    There is a specific situation where Jesus Christ commended the Church of Ephesus for discerning false apostles!

    Jesus speaks: "I know your deeds, your hard work and your persevereance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false."

    We are to discern truth by the ultimate Truth prescribed to us by God Himself. By God's Word itself, we are commanded to discern 1) False teachers, 2) False prophets, 3) false apostles, 4) false christs. This is clear in many passages of the Bible. One of notable mention is 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

    Matthew 24 is a prediction from Christ, that in the end days we will lose our first love-Jesus Christ. We will become lovers of ourselves, our sins, our false doctrines, and our false gods!

    I will be writing more on my series, "Why Bother With Revelation", about the particular letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor. These churches are the lampstands unto the world, yet not each church had true doctrine, and it resulted in a rebuke from God and a threat of damnation.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 9/25/2006 05:01:00 PM  

  • MrsHammer,
    "We are not to point a judgmental finger at someone and go around haughtily deciphering who is real and who is fake for the sake of "being right" or proving our own genuiness or righteousness, but we are to discern truth and uncover lies for the sake of leading others into knowledge of the truth"

    Excellent. Then we basically agree - the thing we need to do is detect and correct error. The thing what we must not do is seek to determine who is "saved" and who is not.

    If we basically agree on this issue, why are we still arguing?

    "The Bible is the final and authoritative SPIRITUAL REVELATION!"

    Actually, again, no is isn't. The Bible is the greatest self-revelation of God but it is assuredly not the last, nor the only authoritative one (although it has a pre-eminent position). The Bible is the inerrant (in Hammer's sense) self-revelation of God. It is not the only one and it is not the source of all truth.

    Basically, we (you, me, Hammer, RT, Robert etc.) disagree about a great many things on a very basic level. But that doesn't mean that we're not all children of God. I could take issue with quite a few things that have been said on this blog - and could do so very explicitly from the Bible. I could with justification accuse you of going against the very words of Christ, and (on the basis you're presenting in this discussion) therefore allege that you have no salvation. But I cannot do that, because (although I sincerely believe you to be wrong on these issues, and to misunderstand quite profoundly the nature and purposes of God) our salvation does not depend on us understanding God correctly.

    So, I remain your brother in Christ!


    RT,
    "We are to discern truth by the ultimate Truth prescribed to us by God Himself."

    Absolutely. And how does the NT say we are to detect false teachers? "By their fruits shall you know them." Not because they may (or may not) assent to certain truths, but because they don't do what Christ did and what His disciples did, and don't reflect the face of Christ. We are to look to see whether they are characterised by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness etc. etc. That is how we recognise false teachers.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 9/25/2006 05:27:00 PM  

  • We are still arguing because we disagree on a few very important issues. This isn't some trivial issue-well, at least not to me and some dear friends.

    "The Righteous hate what is false, but the wicked bring shame and disgrace. Righteousness guards the man of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner" Proverbs 13:5-6

    What is the fruit, though, John? False witness and testimony? Alledging Jesus is worth following, but His testimony flawed?

    You left out the prerequisite to fruit! If there is a heed regarding false prophets, then aren't there false prophets? Is this warning without merit? Is it without consequence? "Watchout for false prophets. They come to you in sheeps clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves." I ask you, what is a false prophet, if false has no definition? Is a false prophet be saved by the Almighty? What about his/her followers?

    In speaking of the beginning of birth pains, Jesus said: "...and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, (um, sin-even if you want to call it soemthing else) the love of most will grow cold, (speaking of the love for Christ-who HE is) but he who stands firm (firmly on the word of God, because what else is standing firm? The worldy definition of being good?) to the end will be saved."

    "As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless geneaologies. These promote controversies rather than God's work-which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith....and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me"

    This is getting lengthy, so I encourage a reading of 2 Peter 2:1, Ps 119:163, Proverbs 30:8, Ephesians 4:25 and particularly 1 Timothy 6:20.

    There is reason for discernment of true vs false, and witnessing to the inerrant Word of God. The path to salvation isn't paved in falsehoods.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 9/25/2006 06:16:00 PM  

  • Just to expand, because I know you will define false teachers/prophets by lacking fruits. However, first Thessalonians teaches us to examine everything, and out with anything evil and sinful, and in with the Lord!

    Couldn't, since the Bible warns us of it, a false teacher, prophet or deceiver indeed manifest what appears to be fruits? The Bible says they can. They can exhibit many things a Christian may exhibit, and still be a false teacher. Do you think there are false teachers, at all?

    Fruits are not just defined by loving acts and attitudes.

    I know MANY a non-Christian who exhibit loving acts and attitudes. There has to be more than that to fruits. Ones mouth must match their walk. Their hearts, minds and souls must be more concerned with following Christ, than anything else.

    The only sign someone is walking with Christ is if they are kind and loving?? So, if they are kind while they are basking in their sins, unwilling to admit they are sinning, inventing a false god and false doctrine, we still cannot question their intentions, nor their salvation?

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 9/25/2006 07:31:00 PM  

  • RT,
    "We are still arguing because we disagree on a few very important issues."

    Well, yes, but I meant "Why are we disagreeing about this issue?" (and I thought that would be obvious). Clearly, we disagree on plenty of other things, as I said, and some more come up below. The fact remains, though, that MrsH appears to agree with the main point I was making.

    "If there is a heed regarding false prophets, then aren't there false prophets? Is this warning without merit?"

    Of course there are - my answer rather assumed that! The point stands, though, that we discern false prophets by their fruits (or by direct spiritual revelation - a point for another time, perhaps!). Of course, denying the truths about Christ is wrong and is to be opposed. But, and I repeat once more, to be wrong is not necessarily to be damned.

    Again, what you quoted (excellent verses, BTW) makes the same point I've been consistently supporting - that error and falsehood are to be challenged and contradicted at all times. (And, notice that Jesus' words aren't about the "last days" in terms of "just the last few before the end", but in terms of all the time between His first and second comings. As He said, there will be wars and rumours of wars, but the time is not yet. No man knows the day or the hour, not even the Son of Man.)

    "I know MANY a non-Christian who exhibit loving acts and attitudes. There has to be more than that to fruits. Ones mouth must match their walk."

    To an extent, I agree - we cannot judge by appearances alone. However, the mouth is driven by the mind and the mind is not capable of comprehending God fully. And we have challenging words from the apostle John to remember, too:
    "God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him."
    and again:
    "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love."

    And therefore, it seems to me, your question is nearer to the mark than you want it to be:
    "The only sign someone is walking with Christ is if they are kind and loving?"

    No, it's not the only sign. But it's an important one. If someone shows no love, they are not walking with God. If someone shows love, there is certainly something of God active there.

    Finally, to return to something you wrote in your first comment on this post:
    "I truly could never understand liberal Christians because the Bible is the Word of God, and it is the ultimate communication for our lives with Christ-right? So...we still cannot question their intentions, nor their salvation?"

    Are you even reading what I'm writing? In pretty much every single comment on this topic, I have reiterated that we can, should and must question them, challenge them, contradict them and oppose them. Their intentions are largely irrelevant but are open for question. One may even, I guess, question someone's salvation (as in "I don't understand how someone can profess Christ and yet believe that"). What we must not do is just what I've said - declare that someone is damned simply because of what they believe (as in "If you deny this then you are going to Hell") - with a very few exceptions that I've mentioned (it is impossible to follow a Christ who never existed, or who is dead and gone).

    "For people like Borg, John, MB (the new-found blog moderator of Ruth's blog, apparently)..."

    Excellent, let's resort to snide personal attacks, why don't we? You have all been smothering Ruth's blog with your persistent, often offensive and dogmatic commenting. No surprise, then, that someone tries to help and protect her. You disagree with Ruth. Fine - your privilege. But all you will achieve with your browbeating is to drive her away.

    And let me say this just one more time: I AM NOT LIBERAL!! If you think that I am, that only betrays the fact that you are not listening to me. Just because I'm not neoconservative evangelical does not make me liberal. I profoundly disagree with the approach of liberal theology. That I disagree with the extreme versions of evangelicalism doesn't contradict this in any way. Both are wrong, both are limited, both miss out on much that God has to say.

    "...and where Ruth is going on her blog-because she can't understand why God would.... they simply will not believe the Bible as it is intended"

    Do you even realise how collossally arrogant that sort of thing comes across as? "Understands the Bible as intended" means, to you, "understands the Bible in the same way I do". If we disagree with you, we are "denying the Bible". You cannot seem to conceive of someone reading the Bible, listening to God and hearing a different message to the one you hear.

    This may be the sticking point - the Bible is not, cannot be and must not be regarded as "the Word of God, and ... the ultimate communication for our lives". The Word of God (capital W) is Christ - the Bible contains some of the words of God (if we believe in prophecy at all). And the ultimate communication of God for our lives is Christ Incarnate, to which the Bible bears witness - and also the Holy Spirit, who Christ said would come to guide us. The Bible is not the centre, it merely bears witness to the centre. It is inerrant (in the sense Hammer defined) and authoritative and true and trustworthy. It is not Divine, nor Truth, nor an object of worship. This is the heresy to which evangelicalism is perhaps particularly prone - the worship of the words rather than the Word. And yet, despite this professed focus on the Bible, modern evangelicals (especially right-wingers) feel quite free to disregard those portions of the Bible that they don't like, while denying that they do so - such as Jesus' condemnation of war and violence and wealth and injustice. These, I have heard, "apply only in the personal sphere, not the political", or "are spiritual, not physical", or "warn only against excess". This blatant refusal to listen to Christ seems to me just as bad as the things evangelicals criticise others for. Let us remember that Christ told another parable, about a man with a plank in his eye trying to remove the speck from his brother's eye.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 9/26/2006 05:18:00 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 9/26/2006 11:17:00 AM  

  • I thought it was offensive that MB called an end to a very relevant discussion.

    For people who say their fruits are based on being nice to everyone, you both sure know how to be rude. I was nothing but respectful on that blog. If you disagree, go read my comments again. I wasn't aware that one or two comments on a response of several was "smothering". I wasn't aware that Ruth was only seeking viewpoints that she was in agreement with. I think you had hoped to only see agreeing viewpoints.

    I also found it offensive to Ruth, as if she is too weak to stand up for her own blog questions and comments.

    Ah yes, the plank.. Always a good tool to whip out of the pocket to utilize on anyone who is trying to discern fact vs fiction.

    The only issue there is that I don't claim to be "speckless" or "plankless". It's also not a measure of being personally critical, but rather about Christ. That's always worth sounding "judgemental".

    Be very careful when you call someone (or a group) a heretic, when they are adhering to Biblical inerrancy. You have a mighty weak leg to stand on. Particularly so, when coming from the viewpoint that the Bible isn't 100% factual! This liberal application is a bad place to stand when being doctrinally critical-remember, none of it has salvific value. Wow for hypocritical! (whether or not you think you are liberal is entirely different from what you actually appear to be)

    Either way, I can take the accusations-I stand on the Word of God. Jesus Christ is my master, and reading, studying and obeying his word will never let me down, and I am on solid ground.

    Nevertheless, on the 60+ comment post, I said I was done discussing things with you. It's pointless, and I'm sure you feel the same. You could dismiss a verse in the Bible that says the grass is green, if it went against your church's philosophy. It was wrong of me to address your response to mrshammer here, after saying I wouldn't.

    *Please note that much of the comment you responded to was clearly marked-mrshammer. You don't want to be too smothering now ;)

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 9/26/2006 11:18:00 AM  

  • RT,
    Whether someone else's action was correct or not, snide comments don't help. And I carefully didn't say (or imply) that you personally were smothering her blog. But the fact that a great many of the comments are condemnatory or, at least, condescending doesn't make the atmosphere particularly nice. A large part of the problem is that you (as a group) react so strongly when you encounter language with which you are unfamiliar (as in using "brokenness" to talk about sin). The two terms aren't synonymous, but "brokenness" can be very useful when talking about the causes and effects of sin, far more so than the very legalistic connotations that "sin" often carries.

    "I also found it offensive to Ruth, as if she is too weak to stand up for her own blog questions and comments."

    That's as may be - but Ruth can deal with that herself if she wants to.

    "For people who say their fruits are based on being nice to everyone, you both sure know how to be rude"

    Not what I said at all. "Nice" isn't a particularly Christian virtue - although it has its place! And, as always, rudeness is at least partly in the eye of the beholder. If you have given offense, don't be surprised if people are rude back. You may not understand why they are offended, but careful reading of what you've said may give clues.

    "Ah yes, the plank.. Always a good tool to whip out of the pocket to utilize on anyone who is trying to discern fact vs fiction.
    The only issue there is that I don't claim to be "speckless" or "plankless".
    "

    The point of this story, though, isn't whether we claim to be speckless. The point is that, given we have planks in our eyes, we cannot see clearly enough to discern all error in our brothers and sisters. And the story is certainly appropriate when one side in a debate is claiming that they have all truth, and the other side has none. And they are still the words of Christ - inerrant and trustworthy and useful.

    "Be very careful when you call someone (or a group) a heretic, when they are adhering to Biblical inerrancy."

    LOL - "inerrancy" isn't something that can be used to defend against this sort of claim. Indeed, it is pretty much the foundation upon which this particular heresy is built. Without inerrancy (especially in the stronger senses that Hammer has denied), there can be no worship of the Book.

    Notice also that I didn't call you a heretic - I don't know whether you fall foul of this error or not. Sometimes, it sounds like you might be doing, but I don't think that you go all the way. The point is that this error certainly occurs, and particularly among evangelicals IME. And it's a bad error because, like all idolatry, it places a created thing in the place that ought to be reserved for the Creator.

    "whether or not you think you are liberal is entirely different from what you actually appear to be"

    Beware of making the trivial logical error, "A disagrees with point Z. B disagrees with point Z. Therefore A agrees with B about everything." Just because I criticise neocon evangelicalism doesn't mean I agree with everyone else who does so.

    "Please note that much of the comment you responded to was clearly marked-mrshammer"

    Yes, it was. But it discussed me by name. I don't think it's unreasonable to reply on that basis.


    Finally, I apologise for my excessive language at times in this debate, including my previous post. I have got extremely frustrated at the way I have not been heard and then accused of denying the central point I've been making, and have been repeatedly accused of things I have explicitly denied many times. But that doesn't justify some of the immoderate language I've used. Having found that MrsHammer and Robert at least can say with me that condemnation based on theology is wrong, I'm relatively happy. Some of the finer details are still up in the air, but as long as we can keep the main point in mind, my original intention is satisfied.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 9/26/2006 12:02:00 PM  

  • John-
    Here is why we are still arguing: If we simply say to others who are seeking (the Ruth's of the world, if you will) that Borg is wrong, they will be led to believe that it is possible to be that wrong about who Christ is and still be saved. You are saying it is possible to be that wrong and still be saved, I am saying it is not. That is the argument. That is why it is sometimes (though rarely) necessary to say, "He is not a Christian" or "He doesn't know the Lord", not just "He is wrong." That is sometimes the only way to proclaim the truth and have it make any sense to a seeker.

    By Blogger mrshammer, at 9/26/2006 01:20:00 PM  

  • we discern false prophets by their fruits (or by direct spiritual revelation

    You talk much of fruits John, but do you realize that fruits are not just outward actions?- fruits also include proclaiming sound doctrine!!
    I'm not sure what you consider "direct spiritual revelation", but I consider Scripture that- and Borg's doctrine does not match that of Scripture.

    with a very few exceptions that I've mentioned (it is impossible to follow a Christ who never existed

    The Jesus Borg envisions never existed, and doesn't exist, John, so I have met your criteria for determining that Borg is not a Christian.



    What we must not do is just what I've said - declare that someone is damned simply because of what they believe (as in "If you deny this then you are going to Hell")

    I'll repost my comment from elsewhere because it specifically relates to this:
    I would never choose to use the words that you've put into our mouths here and tell someone, "you are definitely damned to hell!" That's not the way to win souls to Christ and I don't know who's definitely damned. The Bible tells us to beware of false teachers and false doctrines, and I keep a watchful eye and careful ear to discern the truth from lies based on Biblical teachings. When I hear heresy like that of Borg, JW's, Mormons, etc, who are doing so under the banner of Christ and so called "Christian teachings", I'll speak up and defend the faith- especially when those teachings are being preached to those who aren't able to fully discern the truth for themselves because they don't yet know the Lord (those who don't even claim to be Christians, or who claim they are but their sincerity is questionable because of either their lack of understanding, or they are continuosly walking in sin after claiming they have been saved.) I don't always claim (or even attempt to) to be certain if someone is a Christian or not, but with Borg it's very clear. If He can be saved despite His denial of Jesus being the only way, his denial of Jesus being the divine Son of God and every other doctrine that Christians hold as a fundamental belief of the faith, then I have no clue what the Bible is talking about in 1 John and many other books in the Bible regarding false teachings and the falling away of the church.

    When Jesus asks "who do you say that I am?" (after He tells us who He is throughout the gospels!)
    and we respond with: "a spirit person who had a close relationship with God" (as this is the essense of who Borg says Jesus is- go re-read the "Borg Exposed" post)
    how is that not denying Him??? It's not that Borg doesn't have a Bible, and hasn't read and studied it- it's that he chooses not to believe it and makes his own assessment of who Jesus is that is contrary to Scripture!

    Then when Jesus says, "If you deny Me before men, I will deny you before my Father in heaven." What does this mean in respect to what Borg has done? Borg and his fans have denied (not just misunderstood) the essense of who Jesus is and what He came to do.

    By Blogger mrshammer, at 9/26/2006 01:54:00 PM  

  • John,

    You are forgetting you should always round to the nearest binary. 90% == 100%, 10% == 0%. That should clear this whole argument up for you.

    By Blogger Mark, at 9/26/2006 04:09:00 PM  

  • All,

    Thankfully, due to the grace of the Lord Almighty, who is infinite in wisdom and in to whom he distributes it, I have received direct spiritual revelation:

    Borg is not a Christian.

    There, that's settled. Who else do we need direct spiritual revelation on? I'll pray and get some.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 9/26/2006 04:10:00 PM  

  • By the way, how does "neocon" relate even remotely to theology?

    Call us fundamentalists, evangelicals, even liberals if you want. Those are particular streams of theological thinking which, right or wrong, are fair names for what we perceive another's theology to be.

    Neoconservative is a political position, and in most leftist circles it also means "dirty Joooooo". It is never meant as a neutral classification when presented in a discussion of the doctrines of epistemology, soteriology and ontology...and you know it, sir.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 9/26/2006 04:19:00 PM  

  • John,
    Does your silence in the revelation post indicate approval of the classifications of revelation and the need for revelation? I already know you don't agree with my concluding statement on the supremacy of Scripture (which I'd appreciate your retort on there), but barring that, is the rest reasonable and acceptable as you regard it?

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 9/26/2006 04:21:00 PM  

  • The crux of this entire debate (indeed the "sticking point" as you identified) is confined in the following statement from you, and I am hoping you can explain how you reconcile your belief that the Bible is "not the final and authoritative spiritual revelation" to the following verses of Scripture:

    The Bible is the greatest self-revelation of God but it is assuredly not the last, nor the only authoritative one...it is not the source of all truth.

    "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plaugues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." (Revelation 22: 18-19)

    "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, niether shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord you God which I command you."
    (Deuteronomy 4:2)See also 12:32

    "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you and would pervert the gospel of Christ...If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1: 6-7 &9)

    "Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." (Proverbs 30:6)

    "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and practices a lie." (Revelation 22: 14-15)

    I understand the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer, and am not undermining it. However, the test of whether something is of the Spirit or of the flesh is it's conformity to Scripture. We MUST hold every idea that we believe from the Spirit to the test of truth- that source of truth is the word of God! While the Bible is not the source of all truth, it is all true and all we need to know and all God has given us on this Earth.
    It is the final authority!

    The warnings in the above verses are aimed against willful distortion of the message of the entire Bible. Anyone who willfully distorts the message of the Bible shows himself not to be a genuinte believer, but a heretic!

    By Blogger mrshammer, at 9/26/2006 04:40:00 PM  

  • Hammertime,

    Thanks. I was feeling guilty about being a bit too snarky. No longer. :-)

    By Blogger Mark, at 9/27/2006 03:59:00 AM  

  • Hammer,
    "I have received direct spiritual revelation:"

    Excellent! All hail the new prophet Hammer!

    "By the way, how does "neocon" relate even remotely to theology?"

    Because it means more than "conservative". We have conservative evangelicals over here, and the theology of that group (here and there) is distinct from that of the neoconservatives. The neocons echo their politics in their faith (or vice versa, of course, as everyone does) and hence justify such things as wars more readily. They hold different beliefs on the place of the Christian faith in government. They hold different beliefs on the status of the Church and the place of individuals within it. And the list could go on.

    Yes, "neocon" was coined as a political descriptor. But so was "conservative". The tight integration between politics and religion in parts of US society makes the label particularly appropriate.

    "Neoconservative is a political position, and in most leftist circles it also means "dirty Joooooo"."

    Excuse me? If I understand your mis-spelling correctly, that was, I'm sorry to say, about the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard on this blog. I trust that you know me well enough by now to know that I use terms descriptively, not pejoratively. Even if I call someone "liberal", I don't mean it offensively (despite my profound disagreement with that approach - even more profound than my disagreement with right-wing evangelicalism [is right-wing OK with you, because it's also political in origin?]). If I call them neoconservative (and I didn't - I only said that I wasn't!) then I mean it descriptively only. Don't imagine insults that aren't present. If you aren't neoconservative evangelical, tell me so and I won't repeat it (although, again, I wasn't even addressing it to you - the post was a reply to RT).

    " Does your silence in the revelation post indicate approval of the classifications of revelation and the need for revelation?"

    I didn't have huge problems with the post, which was why I didn't comment on it. Although the emphasis was rather different to the one I would have used (especially your references to the importance of words to relationship), there's nothing vastly unreasonable in there, I don't think. The closing statement I disagree with for various reasons, mostly to do with emphasis and simple logic, but the thrust is fine. I'll post a comment there for your delectation.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 9/27/2006 04:55:00 AM  

  • MrsHammer,
    "Revelation 22: 18-19"

    Refers to the book of Revelation alone. The claim that it means the whole of the Bible is untenable - if for no other reason than "the Bible" didn't exist when it was written.

    "Deuteronomy 4:2"

    Would mean that we must discard the whole of the Prophets and the New Testament if taken literally.

    "Proverbs 30:6"

    As for Deuteronomy.

    "Galatians 1: 6-7 &9"

    More interesting, but merely begs the question of what this gospel is. Does Paul mean just "Jesus Christ and Him crucified", which is how he summarised his gospel elsewhere? If he means more than that, exactly what does he mean?

    "Revelation 22: 14-15"

    What are his commandments, though? Does this just mean the 10 Commandments? Does it mean the entire OT law? Does it even discuss those of the New Covenant, who do not enter "by right" but by grace? Or does it mean those who live under the New Covenant and under its strictures, which are summarised by Christ as loving God and neighbour?

    "the test of whether something is of the Spirit or of the flesh is it's conformity to Scripture."

    Indeed. And, as your husband has noted, Scripture only gains its inerrency when interpreted correctly in the life of the Church. So, once again, we see that "the Bible" does not stand alone. It must be understood as conveying the words of God into the life of the Church - it's not a dead book but a living revelation.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 9/27/2006 05:03:00 AM  

  • John,

    The label is entirely inappropriate. It is almost always used pejoratively, especially by social leberals, and does have the implication I mentioned, whether you want it to or not. I know you weren't attaching that implication - but you know it has it. Revealingly, you only use it when RT get you all fired up.

    There are political liberals, political conservatives, theological liberals, theological conservatives - but there are not political neoorthodox, and no religious neocons. Drop it, please.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 9/27/2006 04:02:00 PM  

  • Whoops, I meant "theological neocons". Obviously there are religious neocons!

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 9/27/2006 04:03:00 PM  

  • Hammer,
    The term certainly does not have that connotation ("dirty Joooooo"). Not least because the left wing are usually rather more averse to such racism than others. It may be commonly used pejoratively, but still we need a term to distinguish traditional conservatives from the ... well ... new conservatives. There are (as I said) distinctive beliefs, both political and religious, found in this group so the term does have a use in religious discussions, however much you deny it.

    However, if the word offends you, I will try not to use it again here. The problem is, I don't really know what term to substitute it with. "Fundamentalist" isn't accurate and carries its own connotations that aren't especially helpful. What would be a good label to use for the extreme right-wing end of evangelicalism? What label would you use for your own theological position? (Genuine enquiry - you know my own preferred self-label but I don't know yours...)

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 9/27/2006 05:28:00 PM  

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