What you'll find is that given my understanding of verses like Gen 15:6; Hab 2:4; John 3:15; 5:24; 6:47; 20:30-31; Acts 16:31; Rom 4:1-4; 6:23; and a host of others is that works are off the table--not only in terms of justification, but also for sanctification. It's hard for me to respect people who claim the "faith alone" mantle but then try to "sneak" works in the back door (as FPS advocates do, for instance). Either you take such verses as I've mentioned to teach the sufficiency of faith for salvation, or you don't.
Fair enough. I agree with you there is no small amount of inconsistency with their faith alone or ES/OSAS position of assurance. Though, to their credit, they are at least attempting to account for the verses that speak to the connection between works and eternal life.
Again, I'm not sure why you're so interested in my own views, but as I said before, I'll take you at your word and am willing to discuss things with you.
I thought I'd stated this clear enough before, but I'll try again. I'm interested because the position you've staked out -- that what we do or don't do doesn't matter as regards eternal life, nor even as to sanctification -- strikes me as the least
defensible position to maintain when verses like Rom 2:6-8, Matt. 16:27, 25:31ff, John 5:28-29 (and a host of others) are presented for explanation. I've encountered many an Evangelical who arrive at like conclusion based on verses like those you've listed, who will just simply refuse to discuss these other verses or who think mere utterance of the word "context" with some attendant explanation of some other verse
suffices. At the risk of sounding uncharitable, those persons are not generally what I'd label "deep thinkers." Since I can't extract an answer from those who are determined not to answer (or who at times can act mystified at what I'm even trying to ask them), I don't push the matter. But you are one who has several advanced degrees, who delves into Aristotolean/Thomistic theology, who writes on theological topics on a blog, etc. So I'm interested to know how you will respond to questions that I typically get no response from others.
That said, I will observe we're now three iterations into this Q&A and so far you've not addressed my basic point about the palpable disharmony between your "works don't matter" position and the verses that indicate works very much DO matter. Maybe when you get to the part of my prior post you didn't have time to address you will respond. Though you mentioned only my remarks on the lexicons. So we shall see.
I don't think you've quite appreciated my distinguishing between faith as a sufficient condition and faith as a necessary condition for salvation.
I understand your point about sufficiency. My response is (again) to observe that you are begging the question in that you assume that "faith" as to John 3:16 can be understood solely as a moment-in-time element of "trust." I agree that John 3:16 sets forth a sufficient condition. But "believes" can be understood in two differing senses, and only one of those supports your ES conclusion. You can't just assume your preferred meaning. Under your GHM framework, you have to demonstrate that such narrower meaning was intended (not just that such a definition is possible or simply more convenient for your argument). You've not attempted that demonstration, let alone dealt with the additional objection that the narrower definition (and your "works don't matter" conclusion from that) creates considerable texual conflict with many other verses.
Using reason as our guide, the understanding of "believes" that harmonizes best with the other verses would be a good signal as to which meaning of "believes" was intended. As I've outlined, it is permissible
to understand "pisteuo" here as including "ongoing obedience." Since that understanding allows the verse to harmonize better with the Divinely Authored "eternal life is rendered in accordance with works" verses, I think the more reasonable view is that is such is the meaning of "believes" intended by the Divine Author in 3:16, 5:24 and 6:47.
Suppose, for instance (for the sake of argument) we take James 2:14ff to teach the necessity of works in salvation. I don't think it does, but just for the sake of argument. That still would not affect my argument with reference to John 3:16, because at most you would have James presenting an alternative way to salvation (namely, by works).
If James teaches that "faith without works is dead," then it's not a matter of there being an alternative pathway to salvation. It means -- under a paradigm where Scriptural conflict is not permitted, which your GHM method adopts -- the narrower understanding of "believes" in John 3:16 becomes untenable. For else we'd have one verse saying that a point-in-time moment of trust suffices (even if such faith produces no works) and another verse saying a "fruitless faith" is non-salvific. Though James DOES teach that faith without works is dead. No conflict with John 3:16 arises if one there understands "believes" in the sense of "ongoing obedience" as I've suggested.
In other words, I don't have to establish the fact that Scripture intends John 3:16 et al to be universal and exclusive in scope.
You have to establish the narrower meaning of "believes" as necessary
in the context and
also harmonize your conclusion (works are of absolutely no significance) in light of the verses I've presented which indicate rather clearly that works ARE significant. Either that or toss out the premise that Scripture does not conflict with itself as an operating premise under your GHM model.
I've presented a way by which to harmonize John 3:16 and verses like John 5:28-29 15:1-12. How you harmonize them under your reading of John 3:16 is so far shrouded in mystery and avoidance.
What I am saying, then, is that faith is a sufficient condition for salvation.
And I agree. But ES is a proper conclusion (or not) depending on how one understands faith as used in John 3:16. If "believes" has the sense of an ongoing trust and obedience, you have still a sufficient condition for salvation. You just don't have an unqualified, unconditional assurance (ES) for the same reason you argue (correctly) that the FPS advocate doesn't have unqualified assurance. Your argument for ES based off John 3:16 is valid only insofar as you can absolutely exclude from "pisteuo" any sense of ongoing action or obedience. But you can't demonstrate that; you can only state your preference for the narrower meaning of a moment-in-time trust. But personal preference does not a sound argument make.
Let's use a silly analogy to illustrate my point. Suppose I own a hardware store and I run an ad in the paper that says, "Everyone who comes to the store today between 2:00 and 5:00 will get a free hammer!" No fine print. You just so happen to need a hammer, so you come down at 3:00 and ask for your hammer. I then say to you, "Well, you have to buy something first." You would rightly object that's not what the ad says.
But in your hypothetical -- unlike "believes" in John 3:16 -- the phrase "everyone who comes to the store today" really isn't susceptible of more than one meaning. So the fallacy of equivocation that sinks your argument on John 3:16 isn't present here.
Now, suppose the ad said "Every shopper at our store today between 2:00 and 5:00 will get a free hammer." Was it intended that the person has to buy something else to be considered a "shopper?" Or was the term intended in the sense only of "browser" or "visitor?" Likewise, with John 3:16. Does "believes" indicate just a moment-in-time expression of trust? Or does it indicate a "continuous present" trust encompassing a notion of obedience?
But suppose I pointed you to another ad run in another paper (that you may or may not have read) that says, "Everyone who makes a $100 purchase today gets a free hammer!" That wouldn't help my case, and in fact, I would really be lying lying to you in the first ad, because it would not be true that everyone who came between said time got a free hammer. It would really be the case that some who came between that time did not get a free hammer because they did not fulfill other conditions (stated elsewhere).
If the first ad said "shopper," then there would be no irresolvable conflict with the second ad. Certain peoples' expectation might be dashed, but you couldn't be accused of lying. The same goes with Scripture. If "believes" is understood as including "ongoing obedience" there is no irresolvable conflict with the verses that speak of eternal life being rendered in accordance with works. Though it is true that the expectations of some who trusted in a "workless ES" based on the alternate reading of John 3:16 might be dashed:
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Matt. 25:41-45
But then there really is no reason for that surprise, if one considers the totality of Scripture, rather than taking a tunnel-vision approach that doesn't look outside of John 3:16. Right?
It is true that the Greek present tense can be considered an ongoing action--the "continuous present" it is called.
Then my suggested meaning of "believes" in John 3:16 is indeed a legitimate possibility
That doesn't make it necessary.
Not of itself. It's the context of John 3:16 and the need to harmonize that verse with the verses speaking of the need for obedience and how eternal life is rendered in accordance with work that makes the "continuous present" understanding necessary.
The KJV, for instance, renders peitho "obey" eight times: Acts 5:36, 37; Rom 2:8 (x2); Gal 3:1; 5:7; Heb 13:17; and James 3:3.
I may get you to discuss Rom. 2:6-8 after all.
Now in all of those cases, you can render the word "believe" and have a perfectly intelligible verse, except for James 3:3.
Let's see if that works in Rom. 2 (my turn to have some "pun" here):
 For [God] will render to every man according to his works:
 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;
 but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. Rom. 2:6-8
It would seemed quite a stretch to substitute "believe" for "obey" in verse 8, if by "believe" you mean a mere mental assent, since the context of the verse pertains to "works" (ergon). Obey here speaks to our conduct. (Now, if you adopt the view that there is a high degree of overlap between "obey" and "believe" (see, e.g., Heb. 5:8-9), then I agree you can substitute "believes" here). So the contrast Scripture sets up between "pisteuo" and "apetheio" does indeed indicate the former includes the notion of obedience.
I don't think 14:12 helps your case, and in fact, it makes your position (to me) completely untenable if you insist on taking it the way you seem to be. Let's put it simply: do you believe in Christ? Yes. So you say this verse means that believers (which you are one of) will do greater works than Christ. So . . . what have you done that is greater than the feeding of the five thousand, the turning of water into wine, than casting out demons and forgiving sins, etc.?
Obviously, you haven't. The only way I can think to explain that is if you spiriualize Jesus' meaning here such that "greater works" are just things like loving your neighbor. But that seems to me disingenuous at best.
Why is that considered disingenous when Jesus shortly after in the very same discourse
speaks of "abiding in Him" through obedience to His commandments, especially the commandment to love one another? (John 15:1-12). The believers are to follow in Jesus's footsteps in opening arms to the lowly, the poor, the outcast, and do so in a greater manner by extending these works and the Gospel message itself throughout the world. By contrast, there is nothing
in the discourse to suggest Jesus is talking about them doing things like walking on water. (Though they will minister to a change of bread and wine into His Body and Blood thoughout the world (see Last Supper accounts together with Mal. 1:11)).
Basically, you are arguing that "believes" in John 3 means ongoing faithfulness in works (correct me if I misunderstand), and that based on the verbal aspect and based on the comparison you make to [i]peitho[i].
Yes, and most importantly
I'm asserting this view allows the verse to harmonize very well with verses like Rom. 2:6-7 and John 5:28-29 that speak of eternal life being rendered in accordance with works.
I don't have time to finish the rest of the post, but I'll get t it very soon (the lexical material, I mean). Probably tomorrow night after I get off of work.
Fair enough. Take your time. I just ask in the spirit of irenic discussion that when you address the remainder that you address the final point in the prior thread about Rom. 2:6-8.