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 Post subject: Eternal Security? -- For JAC
PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:18 pm 
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I'm going to pull in a few comments you've made on the prior thread, as well as a bit from the Q&A on your webpage to which you made reference.

The webpage (under the "Can I Know I'm Going to Heaven" question) states:

Quote:
The third view is holds to a position called “eternal security” and teaches that we can have absolute assurance of our salvation since it is by grace and not works, meaning that neither one’s behaviors nor beliefs have any bearing on one’s eternal destiny once salvation has been obtained. This view, I believe, is the biblical view. It takes Jesus’ words in such verses as John 3:16, 5:24, and 6:47 in a straightforward manner. He said that everyone who believes in Him has eternal life, which, by definition, is life that never ends. If we could lose our salvation, then Jesus was wrong. On the other hand, since we can know whether or not we believe, we can know whether or not we have met Jesus’ sole condition. It’s rather silly to say, “Well, I think I’ve believed in Jesus!” You know whether or not you have ever trusted Him to save you. We therefore do not need to look to external signs like our works to confirm Jesus’ promise. If we have believed, then He says that we have, right now, eternal life. If we believe He told the truth, then no matter what kind of works we do or don’t have, we can know we are saved.


And from the thread:

Quote:
Eternal Security holds truly OSAS. Once you are saved, your eternal destiny is secure no matter what you do or do not do. As such, you can have absolute, logical certainty of assurance contingent only on two issues: 1 - the correctness of your theology (that is, that you are correct that ES is true, which you obviously believe if you hold it); and 2 - the reliability of Jesus' claim to save all who believe in Him.


I take it your primary texts pertaining to "Jesus's claim" are those listed from John, as the webpage lists those 3 only and the prior thread refers just to John 3:16. And those 3 verses speak of faith in connection with "eternal life."

Though Scripture also speaks of eternal life in connection with "works:"

    [5] But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.
    [6] For he will render to every man according to his works:
    [7] to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;
    [8] but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. Rom. 2:5-8

So just here alone your statement "no matter what you do or don't do" is highly suspect, as Scripture makes clear what we "do (patience in well-doing) or don't do (disobedience) is vitally connected to our receipt of eternal life (or reprobation, as the case may be).

But lest the words of Jesus as recorded in John somehow be taken in precedence to those of Paul, it can be observed that what Paul states in Romans tracks what Jesus, his Teacher, states in declaring that "God renders in accordance with works:"

    27For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Matt. 16:27

This image of the return of the Son of Man with angels in glory anticipates what Jesus says later:

    31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
    34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
    37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
    40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
    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.’
    46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. ” Matt. 25:31-46

The correspondence between Jesus and Paul here is clear: both speak of a coming Judgment, the criterion of that Judgment will be works, those who have "persevered in well-doing" are termed "righteous" and rewarded with eternal life, and those who are found disobedient are reprobated with eternal punishment ("wrath and fury').

You're ES proof seems entirely grounded in John. Though even within John's Gospel this same clear teaching that good works are rewarded with eternal life and evilness reprobated leading to death is found:

    28 Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. John 5:28-29

Now, what I marvel at is how you can so readily extract John 5:24 for support while and disregarding these contextual passages where eternal life is explicitly connected with works.

Jac, there is a rather stark disharmony between 1) your assertion that eternal life flows assuredly from "believing" and not dependent on what we do or do not do and 2) these verses (and the many others that speak similarly) that directly and explicitly state that eternal life is rendered in accordance with our works.

How do you explain away SO many contrary verses? Or, to state it another way, here we have two verses (John 3:16 and Rom. 2:6-7) that each speaks of receipt of "eternal life." How is it that you can conclude that the one (John 3:16) is somehow some sort of stand-alone, self-sufficient verse on the matter of "eternal life" and that there's no need to take account of the other verses that speak to the same concept of "eternal life?" Were a person to extract Rom. 2:6-7 and Matt. 25:31ff in isolation, the person could observe that eternal life is stated as a matter of works -- with no reference to faith -- and conclude that that Scripture "assures" one that salvation isn't dependent on whether one believes or not. Now, you would rightly critique that 'methodology' as woefully misguided. But why then isn't your taking 3 selected verses from John in isolation and drawing the conclusion you draw on assurance subject to the same critique?

So as to your statement above:

    As such, you can have absolute, logical certainty of assurance contingent only on two issues: 1 - the correctness of your theology (that is, that you are correct that ES is true, which you obviously believe if you hold it); and 2 - the reliability of Jesus' claim to save all who believe in Him.

I'd note that 1 and 2 are analytically indistinguishable, reducing to the same issue of interpretation insofar as your Q&A pieces explains it. And I'd add a third: "3 - the correctness of the assumption that the many verses of Scripture drawing a connection between works and the receipt of eternal life either 1) don't mean what they appear to say (read in the same "straightforward manner" that the ES advocate grants to verses like John 3:16) or 2) that somehow those verses don't apply to the ES believer."

The FPS position (at least in some variants or explanations) attempts to account for verses like these (albeit inadequately in many respects) in holding that "true faith' will yield good works, etc. But your position seems to leave no room for explanation. At the outset of the other thread I stated that ES is a conclusion born of selective verse-sampling. Nothing in your Q&A dissuades me that this is yet another instance demonstrating that. But I also acknowledge that a pithy Q&A piece may not be meant as a full explication. So here's your chance.

Brian


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 Post subject: Re: Eternal Security? -- For JAC
PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:50 pm 
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BrianInNC wrote:
I'm going to pull in a few comments you've made on the prior thread, as well as a bit from the Q&A on your webpage to which you made reference.

The webpage (under the "Can I Know I'm Going to Heaven" question) states:

Quote:
The third view is holds to a position called “eternal security” and teaches that we can have absolute assurance of our salvation since it is by grace and not works, meaning that neither one’s behaviors nor beliefs have any bearing on one’s eternal destiny once salvation has been obtained. This view, I believe, is the biblical view. It takes Jesus’ words in such verses as John 3:16, 5:24, and 6:47 in a straightforward manner. He said that everyone who believes in Him has eternal life, which, by definition, is life that never ends. If we could lose our salvation, then Jesus was wrong. On the other hand, since we can know whether or not we believe, we can know whether or not we have met Jesus’ sole condition. It’s rather silly to say, “Well, I think I’ve believed in Jesus!” You know whether or not you have ever trusted Him to save you. We therefore do not need to look to external signs like our works to confirm Jesus’ promise. If we have believed, then He says that we have, right now, eternal life. If we believe He told the truth, then no matter what kind of works we do or don’t have, we can know we are saved.


And from the thread:

Quote:
Eternal Security holds truly OSAS. Once you are saved, your eternal destiny is secure no matter what you do or do not do. As such, you can have absolute, logical certainty of assurance contingent only on two issues: 1 - the correctness of your theology (that is, that you are correct that ES is true, which you obviously believe if you hold it); and 2 - the reliability of Jesus' claim to save all who believe in Him.


I take it your primary texts pertaining to "Jesus's claim" are those listed from John, as the webpage lists those 3 only and the prior thread refers just to John 3:16. And those 3 verses speak of faith in connection with "eternal life."

Though Scripture also speaks of eternal life in connection with "works:"

    [5] But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.
    [6] For he will render to every man according to his works:
    [7] to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;
    [8] but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. Rom. 2:5-8

So just here alone your statement "no matter what you do or don't do" is highly suspect, as Scripture makes clear what we "do (patience in well-doing) or don't do (disobedience) is vitally connected to our receipt of eternal life (or reprobation, as the case may be).

But lest the words of Jesus as recorded in John somehow be taken in precedence to those of Paul, it can be observed that what Paul states in Romans tracks what Jesus, his Teacher, states in declaring that "God renders in accordance with works:"

    27For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Matt. 16:27

This image of the return of the Son of Man with angels in glory anticipates what Jesus says later:

    31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
    34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
    37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
    40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
    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.’
    46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. ” Matt. 25:31-46

The correspondence between Jesus and Paul here is clear: both speak of a coming Judgment, the criterion of that Judgment will be works, those who have "persevered in well-doing" are termed "righteous" and rewarded with eternal life, and those who are found disobedient are reprobated with eternal punishment ("wrath and fury').

You're ES proof seems entirely grounded in John. Though even within John's Gospel this same clear teaching that good works are rewarded with eternal life and evilness reprobated leading to death is found:

    28 Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. John 5:28-29

Now, what I marvel at is how you can so readily extract John 5:24 for support while and disregarding these contextual passages where eternal life is explicitly connected with works.

Jac, there is a rather stark disharmony between 1) your assertion that eternal life flows assuredly from "believing" and not dependent on what we do or do not do and 2) these verses (and the many others that speak similarly) that directly and explicitly state that eternal life is rendered in accordance with our works.

How do you explain away SO many contrary verses? Or, to state it another way, here we have two verses (John 3:16 and Rom. 2:6-7) that each speaks of receipt of "eternal life." How is it that you can conclude that the one (John 3:16) is somehow some sort of stand-alone, self-sufficient verse on the matter of "eternal life" and that there's no need to take account of the other verses that speak to the same concept of "eternal life?" Were a person to extract Rom. 2:6-7 and Matt. 25:31ff in isolation, the person could observe that eternal life is stated as a matter of works -- with no reference to faith -- and conclude that that Scripture "assures" one that salvation isn't dependent on whether one believes or not. Now, you would rightly critique that 'methodology' as woefully misguided. But why then isn't your taking 3 selected verses from John in isolation and drawing the conclusion you draw on assurance subject to the same critique?

So as to your statement above:

    As such, you can have absolute, logical certainty of assurance contingent only on two issues: 1 - the correctness of your theology (that is, that you are correct that ES is true, which you obviously believe if you hold it); and 2 - the reliability of Jesus' claim to save all who believe in Him.

I'd note that 1 and 2 are analytically indistinguishable, reducing to the same issue of interpretation insofar as your Q&A pieces explains it. And I'd add a third: "3 - the correctness of the assumption that the many verses of Scripture drawing a connection between works and the receipt of eternal life either 1) don't mean what they appear to say (read in the same "straightforward manner" that the ES advocate grants to verses like John 3:16) or 2) that somehow those verses don't apply to the ES believer."

The FPS position (at least in some variants or explanations) attempts to account for verses like these (albeit inadequately in many respects) in holding that "true faith' will yield good works, etc. But your position seems to leave no room for explanation. At the outset of the other thread I stated that ES is a conclusion born of selective verse-sampling. Nothing in your Q&A dissuades me that this is yet another instance demonstrating that. But I also acknowledge that a pithy Q&A piece may not be meant as a full explication. So here's your chance.

Brian

I find it rather amusing that you are so interested in my personal theology. Anyway, is it fair to assume that you believe there are no contradictions in Scripture? If so, then I'm under no obligation to offer an interpretation of the other passages you mentioned, at least not yet. If John 3:16 and the other verses I cite teach ES, and the verses you cite teach that works are in some way required for salvation, then you have produced a contradiction in Scripture. You, therefore, are under the obligation to show how my interpretations in their context are invalid.

And in case you want to complain about the methodology, that's exactly what I have required of myself. In the circles I run, there are people who believe that belief in the resurrection of Jesus is not required for salvation. Many others in my camp have gone to great lengths to show where they are incorrect. They appeal to many of the same passages you would. I tell all of them that they're methodology is very wrong. Allow me to quote myself on the matter (off site link to a paper I wrote years ago):

I wrote:
“Neither explicitly nor implicitly does the Gospel of John teach that a person must understand the cross to be saved. It just does not teach this.” With these words, Zane Hodges set off a firestorm that has been now raging in certain theological circles for eight years. . . . It will be necessary to briefly outline Hodges argument. Put simply, he starts with the premise that the Gospel of John was written for the express purpose of bringing people to saving faith, and thus, it must have everything in it necessary to accomplish this goal. Next, he argues from verses such as John 3:15-16; 5:24; 6:47; 11:27; and 20:31 that the sole condition for salvation is faith in Christ. Third, he notes that the disciples exercised saving faith, even as they clearly failed to understand and even rejected the notion that Jesus would die on the cross and be resurrected. Finally, he argues that nowhere does John say that one has to do anything different than did the disciples to be saved. Therefore, he concludes that if they could trust Christ alone for eternal life and were saved apart from believing in His divinity, death, and resurrection, so too are people today. . . . One could rather easily point to Scripture outside of John’s Gospel to prove the necessity of believing resurrection (many have done so), but the problem with such an approach is that it assumes Scripture contradicts itself. For if Hodges is correct, then it does not matter what Romans or Corinthians say. If Hodges is correct about John, and if one can find a passage in any other book that requires belief in the resurrection, then one has found a contradiction in Scripture. Thus, given the way Hodges has constructed his argument, it must be met by examining John only. But further, it is not enough to show a single verse (or verses) in John that state belief in the resurrection is required for the same reason as above. Again, if Hodges is correct, then no verse may contradict the clear Gospel presentation of, say, John 6:47, which did not require belief in the resurrection and yet was sufficient to save.

I then go to great lengths to show where Hodges has made a hermeneutical error and thus come in to an improper conclusion. But the point is that I recognize that Hodges' argument has to be answered as he constructed it. Anything less would be intellectually dishonest. Likewise, you refusing to answer my argument as constructed would also be intellectually dishonest.

So shy of demonstrating a flaw in my exegesis, I charge you with creating contradictions in Scripture.


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 Post subject: Re: Eternal Security? -- For JAC
PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 7:11 am 
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jac3510 wrote:
I find it rather amusing that you are so interested in my personal theology.


I'm always happy to elicit moments of mirth, but in this case I'll cut that short and admit I'm really not all that interested in your personal theology, so long as it remains personal. Though you're here and positing that ES is true (and by implication that the Catholic view is erroneous). Since this is an Apologetics forum, it's the sort of thing that gets examined. Given our first interaction on the general topic was over two months' ago, that I'm first asking you now should be a sign that I haven't exactly sat awake at night pondering your personal views.

Quote:
Anyway, is it fair to assume that you believe there are no contradictions in Scripture?


You needn't assume that, as back on the "Proper Framework" thread one of the points I made to you on why the GHM doesn't work with Scripture as with a purely historical document is the need to treat the various human authors in Scripture as speaking in a non-contradictory manner (which wouldn't be the case with several different historical authors).

Quote:
If so, then I'm under no obligation to offer an interpretation of the other passages you mentioned, at least not yet. If John 3:16 and the other verses I cite teach ES, and the verses you cite teach that works are in some way required for salvation, then you have produced a contradiction in Scripture. You, therefore, are under the obligation to show how my interpretations in their context are invalid.


I've shown how your interpretation and conclusion (that works are of no import) on John 5:24 is contradicted by the contextual verse 5:29 (which draws an explicit connection between "good deeds" and eternal life).

How is it even possible to offer a simpler and clearer rebuttal to your position than to show how the conclusion you reach is negated by what Jesus says within the very same discourse a mere 4 verses later! By way of comparision, if you reach into a drawer of socks and pull out 3 that are each blue, then declare that the drawer contains only blue socks, it suffices as rebuttal if I reach in and produce 3 black socks. (Just one would suffice, actually, but in the present matter I'm making the point there are at least as many verses connecting works with eternal life as there are connecting faith with eternal life). I don't then also need to examine in detail the particulars of how you went about extracting your 3 socks to demonstrate your underlying flaw of sampling bias.

So, yes, I think it's incumbent upon you to explain your methodolgy and conclusions against the charge you're rather ridiculously cherry-picking verses without consideration of context. If you don't care to do that, that's fine. For purely apologetical reasons, I'm content to leave the matter in its present posture.

Quote:
Likewise, you refusing to answer my argument as constructed would also be intellectually dishonest.


What argument? You merely toss out three verses, wave your hand, and declare that you've established the veracity of ES. At the risk of sounding dismissive, I don't think in reply I have to offer up something that much more elaborate.

But I'll go one more step and offer something by way of simple proof.

1. You assert that John 3:16, 5:24, and 6:47 establish ES because they set forth but one criterion ("belief") to be fulfilled, so the person who believes can have assurance of eternal life.
2. Your conclusion is correct, if the underlying premise (that Scripture intends these 3 verses to establish the universe of matters pertinent to eternal life) is established and correct.
3. Apart from the fact you've made no effort to establish the "exclusivity" of these verses on the issue at hand, it can be positively shown that there are indeed other equally inspired verses within both John's Gospel and other scriptures that show that belief isn't the only matter connected to eternal life.
4. Therefore, your argument has been successfully challenged (at least initially, subject to your defending your argument against that challenge).

Quote:
So shy of demonstrating a flaw in my exegesis, I charge you with creating contradictions in Scripture.


And the particulars of that charge are what? I'm asserting that Rom. 2:6-7, Matt. 16:27, 31ff, and John 5:28-29, when read in a "straightforward manner," positively establish a clear connection between our works and our eternal life (or reprobation, as the case may be). Neither John 3:16, 5:24 nor 6:47 positively denies a connection between works and eternal life. Read in isolation, they may by negative implication suggest such; but an argument from silence need necessarily give way to the contrary position positively stated.

So your charge is baseless.

Brian


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 Post subject: Re: Eternal Security? -- For JAC
PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:06 am 
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BrianInNC wrote:
I'm always happy to elicit moments of mirth, but in this case I'll cut that short and admit I'm really not all that interested in your personal theology, so long as it remains personal. Though you're here and positing that ES is true (and by implication that the Catholic view is erroneous). Since this is an Apologetics forum, it's the sort of thing that gets examined. Given our first interaction on the general topic was over two months' ago, that I'm first asking you now should be a sign that I haven't exactly sat awake at night pondering your personal views.

I don't start threads arguing that ES is true. You people are the ones who keep raising the issue. Do you expect me to deny that I believe it or to ignore you when you ask me why I do? If you go check my intro thread, you'll see that I'm not all that interested in arguing theology here. I'm here because there are posters here who are very good at Aristotelian/Thomistic philosophy and I learn from them.

Quote:
You needn't assume that, as back on the "Proper Framework" thread one of the points I made to you on why the GHM doesn't work with Scripture as with a purely historical document is the need to treat the various human authors in Scripture as speaking in a non-contradictory manner (which wouldn't be the case with several different historical authors).

I'm glad you know what I do and don't need to assume. If you'd like my view on the relationship between exegetical, biblical, and systematic theology and how the Bible as history relates to the Bible as Word of God, you could just ask.

Quote:
I've shown how your interpretation and conclusion (that works are of no import) on John 5:24 is contradicted by the contextual verse 5:29 (which draws an explicit connection between "good deeds" and eternal life).

How is it even possible to offer a simpler and clearer rebuttal to your position than to show how the conclusion you reach is negated by what Jesus says within the very same discourse a mere 4 verses later! By way of comparision, if you reach into a drawer of socks and pull out 3 that are each blue, then declare that the drawer contains only blue socks, it suffices as rebuttal if I reach in and produce 3 black socks. (Just one would suffice, actually, but in the present matter I'm making the point there are at least as many verses connecting works with eternal life as there are connecting faith with eternal life). I don't then also need to examine in detail the particulars of how you went about extracting your 3 socks to demonstrate your underlying flaw of sampling bias.

So, yes, I think it's incumbent upon you to explain your methodolgy and conclusions against the charge you're rather ridiculously cherry-picking verses without consideration of context. If you don't care to do that, that's fine. For purely apologetical reasons, I'm content to leave the matter in its present posture.

You've shown no such thing. In the meantime, you haven't even bothered to talk about my arguments in favor of ES. You can ignore them, of course, but I don't, since they provide my warrant for belief.

Quote:
What argument? You merely toss out three verses, wave your hand, and declare that you've established the veracity of ES. At the risk of sounding dismissive, I don't think in reply I have to offer up something that much more elaborate.

But I'll go one more step and offer something by way of simple proof.

1. You assert that John 3:16, 5:24, and 6:47 establish ES because they set forth but one criterion ("belief") to be fulfilled, so the person who believes can have assurance of eternal life.
2. Your conclusion is correct, if the underlying premise (that Scripture intends these 3 verses to establish the universe of matters pertinent to eternal life) is established and correct.
3. Apart from the fact you've made no effort to establish the "exclusivity" of these verses on the issue at hand, it can be positively shown that there are indeed other equally inspired verses within both John's Gospel and other scriptures that show that belief isn't the only matter connected to eternal life.
4. Therefore, your argument has been successfully challenged (at least initially, subject to your defending your argument against that challenge).

(2) is wrong. The underlying premise is that John 3:16 presents a sufficient (not just necessary) condition for salvation.

Quote:
And the particulars of that charge are what? I'm asserting that Rom. 2:6-7, Matt. 16:27, 31ff, and John 5:28-29, when read in a "straightforward manner," positively establish a clear connection between our works and our eternal life (or reprobation, as the case may be). Neither John 3:16, 5:24 nor 6:47 positively denies a connection between works and eternal life. Read in isolation, they may by negative implication suggest such; but an argument from silence need necessarily give way to the contrary position positively stated.

So your charge is baseless.

Brian

That John 3:16 establishes ES and you (wrongly) think verses like John 5:28-29 teach that works are essential. Therefore, either you implicitly accept that John 3:16 establishes ES in ignoring my arguments from them and therefore assume an irreconcilable contradiction between it and the other verses you mentioned, or you deal with my argument.

Again, that's no standard I don't adhere to myself. I refer you to the quotation of the previous paper I wrote for demonstration.


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 Post subject: Re: Eternal Security? -- For JAC
PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 11:12 am 
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jac3510 wrote:
I don't start threads arguing that ES is true.


I rarely start threads at all. Though, as stated before, you made several comments on the other thread about your tabling discussion of ES for later and suggesting if people wanted your views on ES, to start another thread. For reasons I give below, I find your position to be puzzling to grasp.

Quote:
Do you expect me to deny that I believe it . . .


No. Nor do I expect I will change your mind.

Quote:
or to ignore you when you ask me why I do?


I sometimes seek to know how people think through matters and resolve various verses that can bear on a topic. I've encountered few people who, like you, appear to take "works" off the table entirely (most either are some variant of FPS or of the position that works distinguish a "true, saving faith" from a "mere or 'dead' faith.") You are one that thinks through matters deeply and has an interest in whether a particular position is internally consistent or not. So I'm curious to see how you may respond to some questions or challenges.

Quote:
If you go check my intro thread, you'll see that I'm not all that interested in arguing theology here.


And if you don't wish to continue on this thread, that's fine. I'll stop here and won't push the matter further. I won't even make a point that your not further responding has any significance.

Quote:
I'm here because there are posters here who are very good at Aristotelian/Thomistic philosophy and I learn from them.


Excellent. I'm sure I could learn as well. I can't say that's a strong-suit of mine.

Quote:
In the meantime, you haven't even bothered to talk about my arguments in favor of ES.


I had first searched through your blog/website a few ways. I didn't find anything by way of argument other than the Q&A that I quoted. As noted below, since my last post, I did find one other piece of yours. That's discussed below.

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(2) is wrong. The underlying premise is that John 3:16 presents a sufficient (not just necessary) condition for salvation.


But that premise proceeds (implicitly at least; I've not seen any explicit discussion) off the additional premise that either 1) John 3:16 is susceptible of only one understanding (the one you advance, that a point-in-time "belief" apart from any consideration of works or other matter establishes eternal life) or 2) that among any competing understandings, there are compelling reasons favoring that interpretation. Without establishing this additional premise, the conclusion of ES rests on faith (that the premise is correct), not argument.

There is an alternative view of John 3:16 that takes into account two things: a) the verb tense of "believes" and b) the context of the verse and the way John puts "believes" in antithesis with "disobeys."

On the former, the tense of the root "pisteuo" is the present active participle. The present participle is often described as indicating an incompleted action or as an ongoing action extending forward in time. So "he who believes" in John 3:16 doesn't indicate a person who exhibits a at-one-point-in-time "faith," but rather one who believes and who continues to believe. As such, it supports the "conditional" view of salvation/assurance rather than the "absolute" view. (In contrast, we have Luke 8:13, the parable of the sower, where the first group believes only "for a while" and bear no fruit).

Second, further understanding of "believes" can be gained by noting verse 3:36:

    36 He who believes [present participle] in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

Putting concepts in opposition is a way a writer draws out meaning. Here, the antithesis of "believes" (pisteuo) is not simply "doesn't believe," but rathers "disobeys." "Believes" here thus is signified to encompass the notion of "obeys," since its antonym is "disobeys." And in support of this view, the harmony with other Scriptures can be observed. St. Paul speaks of the "obedience of faith" (Rom. 1:5). And the Hebrews writer connects obedience and eternal life in the way John connects faith and eternal life:

    8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him[.] Heb. 5:8-9

John 3:16 and Heb. 5:8-9 closely track each other; the implication is thus that "believes" = "obey."

Note also what Jesus says later in John's Gospel:

    12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12

The strongly affirmative "will do the works" makes sense if one understands "believes" to encompass obedience. "Believes" understood merely as a matter mental outlook, be it assent (acknowledgment of truth) or change of disposition (trust) might result in works. Though it might not. The view that belief encompasses obedience better accounts for John 14:12.

"Believes" in John 3:16 being understood as "ongoing obedience" then creates no issue with Rom. 2:6-7, Matt. 16:27, 25:31ff, and John 5:28-29, as that ongoing, obedient faith will result in the "perseverence in well-doing" and works in accordance with which God renders eternal life. So understanding John 3:16 this way, eternal life is referenced to a person who obeys, and who obeys in an ongoing way. This comports with the Catholic understanding of a persevering faith, with its attendant moral assurance.

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That John 3:16 establishes ES and you (wrongly) think verses like John 5:28-29 teach that works are essential. Therefore, either you implicitly accept that John 3:16 establishes ES in ignoring my arguments from them . .


I don't see why you're offering "implicit acceptance" as an alternative here, as I had already explicity denied such.

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. . .and therefore assume an irreconcilable contradiction between it and the other verses you mentioned,


I've offered now a more detailed examination of John 3:16 that resolves any conflict with verses like Rom. 2:6-7, Matt. 16:27, 25:31ff, and John 5:28-29.

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. . or you deal with my argument.


Since my prior post, I've gone back to your webpage/blog and searched some more. I found a wordstudy piece on "believe" that I trust constitutes part of your argument (your italicization was lost in the copy/paste; I'm not going back to add that):

Quote:
With that in mind, the primary Hebrew word for believe/faith is aman and is the word from which we get “amen.” It is the word used in Gen. 15:6, “Abraham believed (aman) the Lord, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” The most important thing to know about this word is that its basic idea is to express certainty or sureness. To say aman was to declare something reliable or trustworthy and to thus have confidence in it. This is a far cry from most people’s concept of “faith” as a mere hope. When Abraham believed God, he was literally saying, “You can and will do what You have promised,” which in the immediate context was to give Abraham a son. It was this by declaration of Yahweh’s faithfulness that Abraham was justified.

The Greek word that translates aman and is used by John nearly one hundred times is pisteuo. Again, it fundamentally means to declare something reliable, trustworthy, or steadfast. By extension, it means to reply upon or trust something or someone.


The term indeed includes those meanings. But critical to your argument is the question 'is pisteuo limited just to that idea of trust or is there a wider meaning that also encompasses obedience?' If its shown to encompass a wider meaning, then your argument is shown to be flawed (the fallacy of equivocation, to state it more formally) unless you can demonstrate how the narrower meaning is rendered necessary in context. But, for the reasons I'm giving, context favors the broader meaning.

Back on the "Interpretational Framework" thread, you advanced a lexical approach that seeks to know how a statement would be understood in the existing culture. So then we should ask in the Greek, "pisteuo" had the meaning of "obey."

In the entry for "pisteuo" in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich, (Eerdmans, 1985), p. 854, Rudolf Bultmann gives the meaning to include:

    "'to obey.' Heb. 11 stresses that to believe is to obey, as in the OT. Paul in Rom. 1:8; 1 Th. 1:8 (cf. Rom. 15:18; 16:19) shows, too, that believing means obeying. He speaks about the obedience of faith in Rom. 1:5, and cf. 10:3; 2 Cor. 9:13."

The NIV Theological Dictionary of New Testament Words (Zondervan: 2000) states:

    ["Pisteuo"] means to trust something or someone[.] . . . With reference to people, pisteuo means to obey[.]"

There is a host of other scholarly commentary to the same effect that "pisteuo" encompasses the meaning of "obey."

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Just because you trust someone or something does not mean you will necessarily act on it or that you will grow in that trust.


True. But Jesus says he who believes will act. John 14:12. So we have cross-references here and in John 3:36 (where "believes" is put in contrast to "disobeys") to know the full meaning in which "believes" in John is used. Believes means not just trusting, but obeying. And the present participle form indicates an ongoing obedience and trust.

And this is yet further underscored in John 15:

    “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
    5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
    9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:1-12

Jesus underscore the importance of obedience and bearing-fruit. Now, I think it's fair to say that coming to a state of abiding in Jesus -- the life-giving vine -- is a state of grace/salvation. And as to the question whether "being thrown into the fire and burned" relates to a loss of salvation or merely some sort of temporal punishment, we have the illustration of the "Goats" of Matt. 25 to serve as cross-reference.

Now, typically the person who states that one's "fruit" has no soteriological consequence of itself, but merely qualifies whether one's faith is a "true, saving faith" or not and the person who holds to FPS in some form will incorporate the various verses I've adduced within their paradigms. (I agree with you that once they do that absolute, unconditional assurance cannot be maintained). But here you are seemingly taking works entirely out of the picture. As I've outlined, if one understands "believes" in John 3:16 to include "obey" then any seeming conflict with these other verses is resolved (and I assert the Catholic position, which has no felt-need to fit them into a 'sola fide' paradigm, harmonizes them the best). But when a verse like Rom. 2:6-8 is there --

    [6] For [God] will render to every man according to his works:
    [7] to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;
    [8] but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.

-- it should create some element of cognitive dissonance when you're asserting that what a person does or doesn't do is of no matter as regards salvation. This is like a Catholic stating that Mary remained sinless but then never accounting for "all have sinned." So I'm not expecting of something of you that I don't take upon myself as to other issues.

So I'm still puzzled.

Brian


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 Post subject: Re: Eternal Security? -- For JAC
PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 10:22 pm 
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Brian,

I don't have time to respond now, but I just wanted to say that I really appreciated that substantive, well-thought out post. You raise more than a few points that need to be addressed, and I look forward to doing so. I don't expect to change your mind (or anyone's here), so I'm still at something of a loss as to what your interest in my own views are, but I'll take you at your word that it's an honest curiosity, and I certainly don't mind explaining myself more fully.

Will get back to you soon.

edit:

And let me add that I particularly appreciated your tone. I teach apologetics at a local seminary and one of my main points that I deeply stress is how we must strive not to tell other people what they believe, that arrogance has no place in debate. It's something that I fail at all to often in my own discussions, and as such I'm speaking to myself more than my students in such encounters. So just for what it is worth, well done all the way around. The tone goes a long way at least in building good will, even in disagreement. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Eternal Security? -- For JAC
PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 9:12 pm 
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BrianInNC wrote:
I sometimes seek to know how people think through matters and resolve various verses that can bear on a topic. I've encountered few people who, like you, appear to take "works" off the table entirely (most either are some variant of FPS or of the position that works distinguish a "true, saving faith" from a "mere or 'dead' faith.") You are one that thinks through matters deeply and has an interest in whether a particular position is internally consistent or not. So I'm curious to see how you may respond to some questions or challenges.

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. Where I find works creep their way into my theology (and people have pointed out to me where they are there) I work to root them out (pardon the pun).

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And if you don't wish to continue on this thread, that's fine. I'll stop here and won't push the matter further. I won't even make a point that your not further responding has any significance.

It's fine. I don't mind answering questions. What I'm not interested in and what I won't waste my time on is arguing with someone who is more interested in telling me what I believe than they are finding out what I believe. I've no problem with someone pointing out what they see to be flaws in my position, nor do I have a problem with people pointing out what they see to be absurd conclusions in my positions. Those are fair points. But when people start intentionally mischaractarizing my views, I see absolutely no reason to continue. 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.

Quote:
But that premise proceeds (implicitly at least; I've not seen any explicit discussion) off the additional premise that either 1) John 3:16 is susceptible of only one understanding (the one you advance, that a point-in-time "belief" apart from any consideration of works or other matter establishes eternal life) or 2) that among any competing understandings, there are compelling reasons favoring that interpretation. Without establishing this additional premise, the conclusion of ES rests on faith (that the premise is correct), not argument.

I don't think you've quite appreciated my distinguishing between faith as a sufficient condition and faith as a necessary condition for salvation. 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).

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. That's another question that follows the one we are now discussing. For what it is worth, I do happen to think that they are universal and exclusive, but--again--that's a different argument entirely. It's not found in the background of the argument I am making.

What I am saying, then, is that faith is a sufficient condition for salvation. 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 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).

It's just the same with John 3:16 and such verses. They say that everyone who believes has eternal life. But you say that there are people who believe that don't have eternal life because they didn't fulfill other conditions. That would simply mean that John 3:16 is lying, for it is saying something demonstrably untrue. It says everyone who believes has eternal life, when that turns out not to be the case.

So, again, my position is not built on the exclusivity or universality of John 3:16. It's built on its sufficiency.

Quote:
There is an alternative view of John 3:16 that takes into account two things: a) the verb tense of "believes" and b) the context of the verse and the way John puts "believes" in antithesis with "disobeys."

On the former, the tense of the root "pisteuo" is the present active participle. The present participle is often described as indicating an incompleted action or as an ongoing action extending forward in time. So "he who believes" in John 3:16 doesn't indicate a person who exhibits a at-one-point-in-time "faith," but rather one who believes and who continues to believe. As such, it supports the "conditional" view of salvation/assurance rather than the "absolute" view. (In contrast, we have Luke 8:13, the parable of the sower, where the first group believes only "for a while" and bear no fruit).

It is true that the Greek present tense can be considered an ongoing action--the "continuous present" it is called. That doesn't make it necessary. There is a syntactical category called a gnomic present that is not continuous at all. I think 3:16, among others, fits that category much better (for technical reasons we can get into later if you like).

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Second, further understanding of "believes" can be gained by noting verse 3:36:

    36 He who believes [present participle] in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

Putting concepts in opposition is a way a writer draws out meaning. Here, the antithesis of "believes" (pisteuo) is not simply "doesn't believe," but rathers "disobeys." "Believes" here thus is signified to encompass the notion of "obeys," since its antonym is "disobeys." And in support of this view, the harmony with other Scriptures can be observed. St. Paul speaks of the "obedience of faith" (Rom. 1:5). And the Hebrews writer connects obedience and eternal life in the way John connects faith and eternal life:

    8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him[.] Heb. 5:8-9

John 3:16 and Heb. 5:8-9 closely track each other; the implication is thus that "believes" = "obey."

The phrase "obedience of faith" is a matter of serious debate. Keeping our discussion to the exegesis of John 3, I think "disobey" is too strong of a translation of John 3:36. The word is apeitho, which negates the standard peitho, which itself means "to be persuaded." There are places were peitho refers to obedience, but in every single one of those cases, the emphasis is still very much in the realm of belief. 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. Now in all of those cases, you can render the word "believe" and have a perfectly intelligible verse, except for James 3:3. But there, the idea still seems to be "persuading" the horse to go this way rather than that.

So, first, the comparison of pisteuo with apeitho in and of itself doesn't establish that anything more than faith is in few. Just the opposite, peitho suggests being persuaded, believing something, so it's perfectly appropriate for John to use.

But second, even if we allow the notion of disobedience (which, again, I think is too strong), we have to ask "disobedient in what sense"? For allowing (dis)obedience does not automatically entail the keeping of this and that rule. It could well be that to "disobey the Gospel" means to refuse to believe it. And the context of John 3:36 strongly supports such a notion. Notice the paragraph it comes from:

    31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

Pay particular attention to 32-33. To believe God's testimony is to call acknowledge that God is telling the truth. To deny is to call God a liar, which is disobedience any way you cut it! In fact, this is something I'm trying to get people in my own circles to recognizes. Belief (pisteuo) is primarily about accepting God's testimony. That's the best way to take Gen 15:6 and the best way to take John 20:31 and everything in between. To disbelieve the testimony, to not be persuaded by it, is really to disobey it, because we have a [i]moral
obligation to consider God truthful!

In sum, 1) I don't think the comparison of the two words proves there is anything more than belief/trust in pisteuo, and 2) even if I accepted the stronger "disobey" rendering (which I don't) it still doesn't prove your case, because I think you are assuming a much broader view of of disobedience than is required or even suggested by the text.

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Note also what Jesus says later in John's Gospel:

    12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12

The strongly affirmative "will do the works" makes sense if one understands "believes" to encompass obedience. "Believes" understood merely as a matter mental outlook, be it assent (acknowledgment of truth) or change of disposition (trust) might result in works. Though it might not. The view that belief encompasses obedience better accounts for John 14:12.

"Believes" in John 3:16 being understood as "ongoing obedience" then creates no issue with Rom. 2:6-7, Matt. 16:27, 25:31ff, and John 5:28-29, as that ongoing, obedient faith will result in the "perseverence in well-doing" and works in accordance with which God renders eternal life. So understanding John 3:16 this way, eternal life is referenced to a person who obeys, and who obeys in an ongoing way. This comports with the Catholic understanding of a persevering faith, with its attendant moral assurance.
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. Rather, it seems obvious to me that Jesus' words were fulfilled in the book of Acts and the Apostles miracles were "greater" insofar as they were done more broadly throughout the world and would have a greater impact.

Quote:
I've offered now a more detailed examination of John 3:16 that resolves any conflict with verses like Rom. 2:6-7, Matt. 16:27, 25:31ff, and John 5:28-29.

And I do appreciate your offering. I don't think it takes the text seriously enough, but I do appreciate the offering. 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 peitho[i].

Quote:
Since my prior post, I've gone back to your webpage/blog and searched some more. I found a wordstudy piece on "believe" that I trust constitutes part of your argument (your italicization was lost in the copy/paste; I'm not going back to add that):

Quote:
With that in mind, the primary Hebrew word for believe/faith is aman and is the word from which we get “amen.” It is the word used in Gen. 15:6, “Abraham believed (aman) the Lord, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” The most important thing to know about this word is that its basic idea is to express certainty or sureness. To say aman was to declare something reliable or trustworthy and to thus have confidence in it. This is a far cry from most people’s concept of “faith” as a mere hope. When Abraham believed God, he was literally saying, “You can and will do what You have promised,” which in the immediate context was to give Abraham a son. It was this by declaration of Yahweh’s faithfulness that Abraham was justified.

The Greek word that translates aman and is used by John nearly one hundred times is pisteuo. Again, it fundamentally means to declare something reliable, trustworthy, or steadfast. By extension, it means to reply upon or trust something or someone.


The term indeed includes those meanings. But critical to your argument is the question 'is [i]pisteuo
limited just to that idea of trust or is there a wider meaning that also encompasses obedience?' If its shown to encompass a wider meaning, then your argument is shown to be flawed (the fallacy of equivocation, to state it more formally) unless you can demonstrate how the narrower meaning is rendered necessary in context. But, for the reasons I'm giving, context favors the broader meaning.

And I think that you've not made a strong enough case for requiring a broader meaning. You've neither shown the broader meaning to be necessary or even implied by the text (so far as I see it). Your appeal to the verbal aspect is very weak and creates serious problems if you try to apply the rule consistently, and your appeal to the notion of "disobedience" assumes rather than argues for a much broader notion of disobedience than suggested or warranted by the text.

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.


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 Post subject: Re: Eternal Security? -- For JAC
PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 12:47 pm 
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jac3510 wrote:
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.

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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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

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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.

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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?

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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?

Quote:
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. Great.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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):

    [6] For [God] will render to every man according to his works:
    [7] to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;
    [8] 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.

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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)).

Quote:
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.

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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.

Brian


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 Post subject: Re: Eternal Security? -- For JAC
PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2012 11:05 pm 
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Okay, so to the rest of your post . . .

BrianInNC wrote:
Back on the "Interpretational Framework" thread, you advanced a lexical approach that seeks to know how a statement would be understood in the existing culture. So then we should ask in the Greek, "pisteuo" had the meaning of "obey."

In the entry for "pisteuo" in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich, (Eerdmans, 1985), p. 854, Rudolf Bultmann gives the meaning to include:

    "'to obey.' Heb. 11 stresses that to believe is to obey, as in the OT. Paul in Rom. 1:8; 1 Th. 1:8 (cf. Rom. 15:18; 16:19) shows, too, that believing means obeying. He speaks about the obedience of faith in Rom. 1:5, and cf. 10:3; 2 Cor. 9:13."

The NIV Theological Dictionary of New Testament Words (Zondervan: 2000) states:

    ["Pisteuo"] means to trust something or someone[.] . . . With reference to people, pisteuo means to obey[.]"

There is a host of other scholarly commentary to the same effect that "pisteuo" encompasses the meaning of "obey."

The term "lexical approach" was used first in that threat by CC, if I remember correctly, not me. Lexicons are not Scripture. They are almost always accurate. The "lexical approach," then, does not mean "look it up in a lexicon and that determines the meaning of the word." That's obviously absurd, because a dictionary doesn't determine what a word means. It reports what a word means. Again, most of those reports are correct. Sometimes, they err.

As it stands, I don't agree with reading obedience into the pisteuo. But more importantly, I could agree that pisteuo has "obey" in its semantic range and still disagree with your reading of John. For while it may in some instances mean "obey," there is no doubt that in other instances is "trust" or "believe." To assert that it means both at the same time is to commit the fallacy of illegitimate totality transfer.

Let me give you an example from English: the word "STOP." Now, given evangelical preachers' proneness to commit this fallacy, imagine this: a seminary-educated evangelical preacher might look up "STOP" in his lexicons of English and discover that it can mean: 1) something that prevents motion, such as a plug for a drain, or a block of wood that prevents a door from closing; 2) a location where a train or bus lets off passengers. The main point of his sermon the following Sunday on this text is: When you see a stop sign, it is a place where traffic is naturally clogged, so it is a good place to let off passengers from your car. (Taken from another post I made on this board).

In short, words made have a range of meanings (being conventional and not formal signs), but what they mean in any given instance is singular (unless the author is using the term figuratively, as in the case of double entedres). Thus, even if I concede pisteuo as possibly meaning "obey" in some contexts, it does not follow that it means "obey" in John 3:16. You would have to make the same mistake our silly evangelical preacher did above--take all of its meanings and say it means all of them simultaneously. Yet it does not (cf. John 12:42 for rather strong proof of this!).

Quote:
True. But Jesus says he who believes will act. John 14:12. So we have cross-references here and in John 3:36 (where "believes" is put in contrast to "disobeys") to know the full meaning in which "believes" in John is used. Believes means not just trusting, but obeying. And the present participle form indicates an ongoing obedience and trust.

And I've already addressed this, and you admit to spiritualizing its meaning. I take Jesus' words here rather literally. So show me the last person you rose from the dead, since you are doing the works Jesus did. Show me the last batch of water you turned to wine, the last time you healed 5,000 with a loaf of bread. Because if you can do those things, I have a lot of homeless people here that would be glad for your assistance. I'll even provide the loaf.

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And this is yet further underscored in John 15:

    “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
    5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
    9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:1-12

Jesus underscore the importance of obedience and bearing-fruit. Now, I think it's fair to say that coming to a state of abiding in Jesus -- the life-giving vine -- is a state of grace/salvation. And as to the question whether "being thrown into the fire and burned" relates to a loss of salvation or merely some sort of temporal punishment, we have the illustration of the "Goats" of Matt. 25 to serve as cross-reference.

This passage is referring to fellowship with God, not justification. See this article for details; I also very highly recommend this one).

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Now, typically the person who states that one's "fruit" has no soteriological consequence of itself, but merely qualifies whether one's faith is a "true, saving faith" or not and the person who holds to FPS in some form will incorporate the various verses I've adduced within their paradigms. (I agree with you that once they do that absolute, unconditional assurance cannot be maintained). But here you are seemingly taking works entirely out of the picture. As I've outlined, if one understands "believes" in John 3:16 to include "obey" then any seeming conflict with these other verses is resolved (and I assert the Catholic position, which has no felt-need to fit them into a 'sola fide' paradigm, harmonizes them the best).

And just to clarify, you can't include "obedience" in the meaning of pisteuo, even given the lexical evidence you provided. You can say that one of its usages includes obedience, but in those cases it does, it is to be translated "obey". Thus, to be consistent with your argument here, you would have to translate the verse, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, so that whoever obeys in Him . . ."

I reject that translation. I don't know if you do or not. But you are right, I take works off the table completely.

Quote:
But when a verse like Rom. 2:6-8 is there --

    [6] For [God] will render to every man according to his works:
    [7] to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;
    [8] but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.

-- it should create some element of cognitive dissonance when you're asserting that what a person does or doesn't do is of no matter as regards salvation. This is like a Catholic stating that Mary remained sinless but then never accounting for "all have sinned." So I'm not expecting of something of you that I don't take upon myself as to other issues.

So I'm still puzzled.

I actually do hold (contrary to popular evangelical opinion) that a person can in principle be saved by works. I believe that Romans 2 is rather clear. If you live a perfect life and never sin, you would be justified by your works. But that's the entire point, I think, of Romans 1-3. It can't be done (practically). The only person who DID do it took all sin on Himself and died on our behalf. So let's look rather honestly at the verse you quoted here.

God will render to both you and me according to our works. Have I been patient in well-doing, seeking for glory, honor, and immortality? Sometimes, but not all the time. Makes my reception of eternal life only possible at best. What about you? All the time or sometimes? Now . . . have you ever been factious, disobedient to (or disbelieving of) the truth? Sometimes I have been that. I assume you, too. So what do we get? Looks to me like an honest answer is wrath and fury. That's why the very next verses say:

    There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.

Look at that . . . every human being who does evil. Have you done evil, Brian? Do you? If so, and if you take this verse at face value, then Paul says there will be trouble and distress for you. Continuing on, the very next verse says:

    All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.

So whether you consider yourself under or apart from the Law, Paul says here that you will perish. You've done evil. Paul, therefore, concludes this section with his famous lines in Rom 3:20, "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin."

The argument, then, is plain to me. Paul starts out with the premise you cited. God will give us what we deserve. If we do good, He will give us life. If we do evil, He will give us death. As it stands, we've all done evil, because no one is righteous, and the Law proves that to us even now. What, then, is the solution? The Gospel! Paul says in the very next verse:

    But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.

Paul points to another way or righteousness, which is a good thing, because we've obviously failed the first way--namely, faith in Jesus Christ. And who gets that righteousness? All who believe. Your theology would say that some believe but still end up in Hell. Paul says here that ALL who believe are righteous. So your theology, so far as I see it, doesn't take the text seriously enough.

So it's no puzzle to me . . . ;)

Now I see that you responded to the other half of my post, but my time is extremely limited. So I'll get to that half later. I suspect that you'll want to respond to this, too, so if when I get to that you have already responded to this, I'll be sure to budget enough time to get to both responses.

Do note it may take me the rest of the week to get back to this. I'm finishing up an internship at the hospital, meaning I have a lot of paperwork to do and papers to turn in (not to mention writing lecture notes for the course in research methods I'm teaching next semester). So if you want to take your time in your reply, feel free. Otherwise, expect me to get back to you sometime over the weekend. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Eternal Security? -- For JAC
PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 3:20 pm 
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BrianInNC wrote:
jac3510 wrote:
Likewise, you refusing to answer my argument as constructed would also be intellectually dishonest.


What argument? You merely toss out three verses, wave your hand, and declare that you've established the veracity of ES. At the risk of sounding dismissive, I don't think in reply I have to offer up something that much more elaborate.

But I'll go one more step and offer something by way of simple proof.

1. You assert that John 3:16, 5:24, and 6:47 establish ES because they set forth but one criterion ("belief") to be fulfilled, so the person who believes can have assurance of eternal life.
2. Your conclusion is correct, if the underlying premise (that Scripture intends these 3 verses to establish the universe of matters pertinent to eternal life) is established and correct.
3. Apart from the fact you've made no effort to establish the "exclusivity" of these verses on the issue at hand, it can be positively shown that there are indeed other equally inspired verses within both John's Gospel and other scriptures that show that belief isn't the only matter connected to eternal life.
4. Therefore, your argument has been successfully challenged (at least initially, subject to your defending your argument against that challenge).
I wouldn’t necessarily go that far. I would rather, and I have done so more than once, challenge Jac’s usage of ‘belief’ or ‘faith.’ In John 3:16, 5:24, and 6:47 we see that the verb used for ‘believe’ or ‘have faith’ is πιστεύω (pistevō), as a present participle. Πιστεύω is derived from the noun πίστις (pistis) which, according to BDAG (pp.818) has a wide range of meanings, including ‘faith,’ ‘trust,’ ‘belief,’ ‘faithfulness,’ ‘confidence,’ etc. It seems to me that Jac is assuming that this doesn’t refer to faithfulness, but I have yet to see any arguments for that, besides the claim that the Bible teaches eternal security (as Jac envisions that). I’m not assuming that we should say that ‘faithfulness’ is the correct way to render the word in the verses in question, I’m pointing out that Jac assumes that it doesn’t.

And it seems to me that if we assume that faith includes ‘doing the right thing’ (with God working through us, cf. Phil 2:12-13), then the context of John 3:16, 5:24, and 6:47 become more clear. John 3:16 is in the context of Christ’s talk with Nicodemus, a talk that perhaps includes a commandment to get baptized. I’m not saying that it necessarily does, although I believe it does. But if it does, the phrase ‘faithfullness,’ or a faith that includes ‘faithfulness,’ would render the context clearer.

The context of John 5:24 seems also to indicate that ‘faithfullness’ is better, when seen teogether with v.24.

John 6:47 is in the context of Christ’s speech to the people at the synagogue in Capernaum. If we render the verb ‘those who are faithful’ it seems to fit better with the context, a context in which Christ is commanding people to eat his flesh and drink his blood.

So, I wouldn’t go so far as saying that one couldn’t use John alone, or those three verses alone. I would rather challenge Jac’s usage of ‘belief’ or ‘faith.’


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 Post subject: Re: Eternal Security? -- For JAC
PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 6:20 pm 
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jac3510 wrote:
The term "lexical approach" was used first in that threat by CC, if I remember correctly, not me. Lexicons are not Scripture. They are almost always accurate. The "lexical approach," then, does not mean "look it up in a lexicon and that determines the meaning of the word." That's obviously absurd, because a dictionary doesn't determine what a word means. It reports what a word means. Again, most of those reports are correct. Sometimes, they err.

As it stands, I don't agree with reading obedience into the pisteuo. But more importantly, I could agree that pisteuo has "obey" in its semantic range and still disagree with your reading of John. For while it may in some instances mean "obey," there is no doubt that in other instances is "trust" or "believe." To assert that it means both at the same time is to commit the fallacy of illegitimate totality transfer.
jac3510 wrote:
And just to clarify, you can't include "obedience" in the meaning of pisteuo, even given the lexical evidence you provided. You can say that one of its usages includes obedience, but in those cases it does, it is to be translated "obey". Thus, to be consistent with your argument here, you would have to translate the verse, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, so that whoever obeys in Him . . ."

I reject that translation. I don't know if you do or not. But you are right, I take works off the table completely.
Now, Jac might be correct, but the issue here is not exactly the english words ‘obedience’ and ‘faith,’ but the greek words pistis or pistevo. But let’s ignore the word ‘obedience’ for a while. As I’ve already pointed out (and when I wrote my post I had not read the entire thread, and see that I have dovetailed some of the points of BrianInNC), one of the words that can translate pistis or pistevo is, respectively, ‘faithfulness’ or ‘to be faithful.’ This is a word that includes both belief, trust and obedience at the same time. So, instead of using the word ‘obedience,’ we can use the word ‘faithful,’ and render John 3:16 thus: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, so that whoever is faithful to Him . . .”

And I would say that this also makes more sense of the preposition εἰς (eis). The main meaning behind εἰς is ‘to’ or ‘into,’ not ‘in.’ (I’m not excluding ‘in,’ I’m saying that ‘to’ is a more common rendition of εἰς.) My point is that ‘being faithful to’ is just as good a translation as, and in my opinion better than, ‘having faith in.’


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 Post subject: Re: Eternal Security? -- For JAC
PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 12:58 pm 
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jac3510 wrote:
Do note it may take me the rest of the week to get back to this.


I'm going to await letting you catch up with my last post. With the initial posting sequence split, there's already a few instances of statements you're making being behind what my more recent posts are saying. Plus, it's often inevitable that the separate strands create needless duplication. I'll try to extract from your last two posts and merge them back in to one reply.


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 Post subject: Re: Eternal Security? -- For JAC
PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 1:08 pm 
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Closet Catholic wrote:
As I’ve already pointed out (and when I wrote my post I had not read the entire thread, and see that I have dovetailed some of the points of BrianInNC), one of the words that can translate pistis or pistevo is, respectively, ‘faithfulness’ or ‘to be faithful.’ This is a word that includes both belief, trust and obedience at the same time.


That's essentially my position, as I hoped was clear from statements I made to the effect that pisteuo "includes" a notion of obedience or that it's not possible to "exclude" such notion from the term as used by John. I wasn't meaning to suggest that it's an either/or proposition of choosing between trust and obedience.

B.


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 Post subject: Re: Eternal Security? -- For JAC
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 5:25 pm 
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So I have an unexpected minute to get to the other half of your post. CC's will have to wait, so in a sense, some of yours will, because you later said CC's position was the one you were trying to state. I'll get to that part later this weekend.

Quote:
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.

It would only be begging the question if I used ES to prove that the meaning of pisteuo was simple trust. I don't. My argument is that if pisteuo means simple trust, the ES is the proper doctrine; it does, therefore, ES is the proper doctrine. I support the second premise on linguistic, not theological, grounds.

So the entire question comes down to what the verb means. Keep that in mind for later.

Quote:
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.

And here I disagree with your methodology. I reject the idea that we make syntactical assignments in order to harmonize the reading with other Scriptures. That's eisogesis, which I reject. I reject it because that is a circular argument. You create a doctrine (via eisogesis), and then use that doctrine to prove your syntactical assignment. You, then, are doing exactly what you accuse me of.

As for me, I take it on faith that the terms will harmonize. I have serious problems when someone says, "this can't mean that because that would create a contradiction with this other passage." It can, and it might. Perhaps the other passage is misunderstood. Perhaps the Bible is not infallible. I take its infallibility on faith. I don't, however, "protect" it by reading other Scriptures expressly to avoid contradictions.

Quote:
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.

As it happens, James 2:14ff teaches no such thing. I don't need John or Paul to come to that conclusion. The evidence is very powerful in James itself that sozo does not refer to eternal salvation. James is wisdom literature, and he is using the term the same way as Proverbs does--simple deliverance from some temporal danger. Likewise, his use of "justify" is NOT being used in a Pauline sense of the word. It's being used in its common sense usage of either "vindication" or "explain" (as in "I don't have to justify myself to you!").

I have two articles on my blog on that passage and I've discussed in detail elsewhere on this board.

Quote:
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.

Again, no I don't, because that would be a circular argument. The question is what the verb implies in its own context.

If you want to talk about other passages, then fine. I'm just curious why we should jump from one to another to another without finishing the existing conversation.

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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.

Of course my assurance is qualified by the validity of my reading. That's why I prefer the term "logical assurance" rather than "absolute" (although I've used the latter when speaking loosely). But I've been sufficiently convinced in my own mind that pisteuo refers to simple trust, therefore, I must follow the argument to its logical conclusion.

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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?

Wrong, for all the reasons I've mentioned above. At best, you are practicing eisogesis and providing a circular argument. I'd far sooner admit a genuine contradiction in Scripture if I were to be convinced you were right about those other verses than I would change my view of John 3:16 (etc.). Why? Because the evidence within their respective contexts to me is overwhelming with regards to the meaning of the verb.

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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.

Wrong. It needs to treat the linguistic evidence within the passage and its context (which includes the entire book) seriously.

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I may get you to discuss Rom. 2:6-8 after all.

See comments on this in my previous post.

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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)).

Your concession "though they will . . ." is rather telling. Just goes more to your eisogesis. You allow for that miracle, but not the rest of them? And besides, when was the last time YOU turned bread into the Body of Christ ? Don't you believe in Him?

Beyond that, abiding is not the same as believing. I linked you to two articles on that in my previous thread.

[quote]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.[/quot4e]
Then most importantly you have a circular argument.

I'll get to CC's material, as I said, this weekend.


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 Post subject: Re: Eternal Security? -- For JAC
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 2:52 pm 
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I just realized that I forgot all about this thread. I was supposed to get to CC's response, since Brian essentially endorsed it as a part of his own response.

Closet Catholic wrote:
I wouldn’t necessarily go that far. I would rather, and I have done so more than once, challenge Jac’s usage of ‘belief’ or ‘faith.’ In John 3:16, 5:24, and 6:47 we see that the verb used for ‘believe’ or ‘have faith’ is πιστεύω (pistevō), as a present participle. Πιστεύω is derived from the noun πίστις (pistis) which, according to BDAG (pp.818) has a wide range of meanings, including ‘faith,’ ‘trust,’ ‘belief,’ ‘faithfulness,’ ‘confidence,’ etc. It seems to me that Jac is assuming that this doesn’t refer to faithfulness, but I have yet to see any arguments for that, besides the claim that the Bible teaches eternal security (as Jac envisions that). I’m not assuming that we should say that ‘faithfulness’ is the correct way to render the word in the verses in question, I’m pointing out that Jac assumes that it doesn’t.

And it seems to me that if we assume that faith includes ‘doing the right thing’ (with God working through us, cf. Phil 2:12-13), then the context of John 3:16, 5:24, and 6:47 become more clear. John 3:16 is in the context of Christ’s talk with Nicodemus, a talk that perhaps includes a commandment to get baptized. I’m not saying that it necessarily does, although I believe it does. But if it does, the phrase ‘faithfullness,’ or a faith that includes ‘faithfulness,’ would render the context clearer.

The context of John 5:24 seems also to indicate that ‘faithfullness’ is better, when seen teogether with v.24.

John 6:47 is in the context of Christ’s speech to the people at the synagogue in Capernaum. If we render the verb ‘those who are faithful’ it seems to fit better with the context, a context in which Christ is commanding people to eat his flesh and drink his blood.

So, I wouldn’t go so far as saying that one couldn’t use John alone, or those three verses alone. I would rather challenge Jac’s usage of ‘belief’ or ‘faith.’

I would be very careful with BDAG. It's a revision of the earlier BAGD (which you can see here). Here's a comparison of parts of the entries πιστευω on of the two versions in question:

    BAGD – believe (in), trust of religious belief in a special sense, as faith in the Divinity that lays special emphasis on trust in his power and his nearness to help, in addition to being convinced that he exists and that his revelations or disclosures are true. In our literature God and Christ are objects of this faith.

    BDAG – To entrust oneself to an entity in complete confidence, believe (in), trust, with implication of total commitment to the one who is trusted. In our literature God and Christ are objects of this type of faith that relies on their power and nearness to help, in addition to being convinced that their revelations or disclosures are true.

Noted the section I emphasized in BDAG. Consider also the differences in their treatment of πιστευσαντες:

    BAGD – (oi) pisteusantes (those) who became Christians, (the) Christians, believers Ac 2:44; 4:32; 1 Th 1:10a; 2 Cl 2:3;
    Hs 9, 19, 1.7

    BDAG – (oi) pisteusantes (those) who made their commitment = (those) who became believers, (the) Christians, Ac 2:44 v.1.; 4:32; 2 Th 1:10a; 2 Cl 2:3; Hs 9, 19, 1.8

Now, it seems evident to me that BDAG has engaged in a bit of theological construction--which is the proper role of a theological wordbook--rather than providing semantic ranges--which is the proper role of a lexicon! I can cite similar obvious changes in the treatment of δικαιοω (and related words) and απειθεω.

Second, I would caution you against an illegitimate totality transfer on one side and an etymological fallacy on the other. Granted, πιστις is intimately related to πιστευω and πιστος (and both of those to πειθω). But just because πιστος means faithful, it does not follow that πιστις refers to faithfulness, much less that πιστευω means "to be faithful." That's not to asy that πιστευω does not mean "to be faithful." It just means that, if it does, you would need to establish that on lexical grounds regarding the use of the word itself, not just its related words.

So, can πιστευω mean "to be faithful"? Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of BDAG (or BAGD) on me right now. Can you provide the entry in which you see 'faithfulness' is a possibility? In the meantime, I would point that no translation renders John 3:16 (or any related verse) "all those who are faithful have eternal life." To be clear, you are arguing for a translation. It is incorrect to say that "believe" includes the concept of faithfulness. That is obviously incorrect, because there are plenty of places where that is not in view (to take but one instance, John 12:42). So just to be clear--are you really suggesting that all the major translations are incorrect? You can. I think there are places where all the major translations are incorrect (e.g., Phil 2:12). I just want to be sure that we are clear on our arguments.


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