Ecumenical Discussion: Core Beliefs and Salvation


#1

At the urging of another CA forum member, I am posting this thread.

I am engaged in a conversation (actually a series of conversations) on an Evangelical blog site. The Catholic perspective has been invited to comment in that the person running the blog, asked for comment by addressing the topics here at CA and linking to his site. I have been welcomed and have been conversing freely on the issues raised. Currently, I am engaged in an exchange that delves into the issue of what are Core beliefs that are necessary for the salvation.

I would appreciate any comments/guidance on my posts from any CA forum member.

Although I agree with the premise of the original post, namely that there are core beliefs that we must hold to call ourselves Christian, I took issue with a direction I saw evidenced in a few of the responses and posted the following:

Felicity* on 26 Jul 2007 at 7:51 am #
I understand considering what are essential beliefs for our own salvation and for building up the Church and the glory of God, but there seems to be an elephant in the room in this exchange that is NOT about building up, but rather about singling out who is “saved” and who is not. I do not mean offense by this—merely it is an observation about the direction the conversation appears to have taken to an outside observer.
*~~~~~~~~~~

Romans 14:
8 For if we live, we live for the Lord, 3 and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
9 For this is why Christ died and came to life, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
10 Why then do you judge your brother? Or you, why do you look down on your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God;
11 for it is written: “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bend before me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.”
12 So (then) each of us shall give an account of himself (to God).
13 Then let us no longer judge one another, but rather resolve never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
*
*

1Cor.10:
27 If an unbeliever invites you and you want to go, eat whatever is placed before you, without raising questions on grounds of conscience.
28 But if someone says to you, “This was offered in sacrifice,” do not eat it on account of the one who called attention to it and on account of conscience;
29 I mean not your own conscience, but the other’s. For why should my freedom be determined by someone else’s conscience?
30 If I partake thankfully, why am I reviled for that over which I give thanks?
31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.
32 Avoid giving offense, whether to Jews or Greeks or the church of God,
33 just as I try to please everyone in every way, not seeking my own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved.
*~~~~~~~~~~*
Peace,
Felicity

…CONTINUED


#2

The author of the originating post responded:

Felicity, I’m not sure I understand what you’re getting at. The two passages you quoted (Rom 14, 1 Cor 10) deal with gray areas in the Christian life—things that some Christians think are wrong for them to do and others think that such things are OK. But if you are saying that these two texts mean that we should never judge anyone over anything, then I would have to say that I think you’ve missed what’s going on in the text. Perhaps I have missed your point though. But even a casual glance of the New Testament reveals many places in which it is fully appropriate for believers to exercise discernment about others in terms of what they believe and how they live. If this were not the case, there could be no creeds and there could be no church discipline—two things that are listed with approbation in the scriptures.

And I replied:

*I agree discernment about others behaviors and beliefs are perfectly appropriate and even necessary to live according to the Truth and to avoid being led astray. *
*However–speculating on the state of another’s soul and expressing an opinion on whether that person is “saved” or “not saved” (AKA going to Heaven or going to Hell) is an entirely different thing. That is God’s domain—and men do not know what God knows in regard to the most intimate reality of a particular human’s spiritual health. God knows us better even than we know ourselves. I merely wished to point out that some of the comments bordered on presuming upon what is God’s domain alone—judging the state of the souls of others than their own. *
*As for the Scriptures I quoted, Romans 14 tells us God is the only one who judges souls and only the individual is responsible for giving his own account. No one else need even speculate on the condition of another’s soul–it is between God and the particular individual. *
**
1 Cor. 10 tells us to get out of the way of others spiritual journey and only act in accord what we know to be true as an example for our fellow man.

…CONTINUED


#3

The writer of the original post, whom I refer to as DW, replied in such a way that it was evident he still believed I was saying something I wasn’t and so I replied with the following:

Thanks for responding to my post again. I think there is still some confusion on what I was saying in that you state, “I can agree with you on a lot of what you said, but not all. I don’t believe that scripture allows us the luxury of accepting all into the fold regardless of what they believe.”
–I DON’T believe you should ACCEPT their BELIEFS into the fold and call it good—I most certainly believe in a clear Creed—but I also don’t believe you deny a person who professes false beliefs access to your example as an upright faithful Christian until their refusal is clearly obstinate. (I really think we are in agreement on this point, but our wording may be at odds. (see Matthew 18:14-17) I also believe that as Christians, our job is to lead people to the Truth of the Gospel—but…in so doing, we do not judge the eternal repose of their soul.

**
***From DW:
Allow me to quote a few passages to this effect (all quotations from the NET Bible):……
This seems to be a decisive condemnation based on one’s beliefs. John is not just judging, he’s also telling his readers how they should judge.

**
RESPONSE:
Again—I find nothing wrong with judging actions, or even beliefs…it is speculating on an individual’s soul that is at the heart of this issue of my post.

**
***From DW:
These are simply a few of the representative passages….

**
*RESPONSE:
Thank-you and I agree. I tend to give Apostles a pass on such bold statements… (just a little jocularity there *) But really—those passages are to teach and instruct in the ways of the faith rather than to try to figure out who’s “in” and who’s “out.” The Faith has been handed on to us and we can hand it on to others in instruction; I don’t believe the instruction was intended for us Christians to soothsay about who’s in Heaven or Hell, only to help us help others achieve the former and avoid the latter.
**
***From DW:
The apostles often spoke of maintaining the unity of the faith and of making sure that counterfeit elements did not get in. And they got this from Jesus himself. I don’t think we have a right to chuck their insights into the nature of the Christian faith. We also don’t have the right to make up any rules we want to keep undesirables out of our club! And I think that’s what you’re driving at. My point is that true Christianity is biblical Christianity. And the Christianity of the Bible is NOT only a message of love; it is also a message of judgment. It’s not possible to read the Bible without seeing this. Yet without judgment mercy has no meaning. Thus, my salvation is all the more precious to me because I know I deserve hell. Only by the grace of God have I put my faith in Christ.

**
*RESPONSE:
Well said!. I hope it is clear now that it is not “judging” behaviors, beliefs, and actions that I was concerned about, but rather presuming the consequences of such with a certainty that belongs to God alone. *
Thanks,
Felicity

…CONTINUED


#4

In response, DW replied with a lengthy post that began…
“I’ll have to respectfully disagree with both Felicity and Vance on most points.”
(Vance is another poster (non-Catholic, I believe) on the blog)
I replied and included much of DW’s comments in for reference:

***From DW:
First, it was argued that “God will have mercy on whom he has mercy.” But that verse in Rom 9 seems to be clearly addressing those whom God elects to salvation by calling them and causing them to believe…

RESPONSE:
It’s called First Grace. “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.”(1 Cor 12:3.)
God is not a puppet master that CAUSES belief in him—that would deny free-will. He gives His merciful Grace, and He does so as He wills. His grace is sufficient for us to be called, and our response is accepting that call or denying that call–FAITH. Nothing that is good that we do is the result of our own effort—all goodness is ultimately from God—as Rom 9 states: he is the potter that has molded us according to His will. Specifically in verses 30-32—God gives the First Grace in His call to us—our response in faith is the choice we make of abandonment to His will, or not. The Grace of God is not a rival to our freedom, it affirms it.
~*
30 What then shall we say? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have achieved it, that is, righteousness that comes from faith;
31 but that Israel, who pursued the law of righteousness, did not attain to that law?
32 Why not? Because they did it not by faith, but as if it could be done by works. They stumbled over the stone that causes stumbling,
*
~~

And why does God do this—allow us to respond according to our OWN FREE WILL?
*Verse 17 explains: *
17 For the scripture says to Pharaoh, “This is why I have raised you up, to show my power through you that my name may be proclaimed throughout the earth.”

***From DW:
*I’m not saying that we should go around condemning people to hell. That’s a mark of button-holing fundamentalism. But I am saying that there is a demarcation of beliefs in which heaven and hell hang in the balance. *

RESPONSE:
And I agree with that entirely—there is a demarcation of beliefs, but GOD judges where that demarcation is for every individual “No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” (1 Cor 2:11.). Scriptures also say, “to whom much is given, much will be expected.” This seems to indicate that God judges us “particularly”—He is a personal Savior, and He knows what light he has given us. His Mercy is Just.
*
Luke 12
47 That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely;
48 and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.
*

…CONTINUED


#5

*[size=3][FONT=Times New Roman]***From DW:[/size]
It seems that both Felicity and Vance say there is NO minimal core (please correct me if I’ve read you wrong!),

RESPONSE:
You are wrong! *Jesus—the God-Man is the core of Christianity—However—God has sovereignty over every soul and does as He Wills. God is beyond religion—not a slave to it.
*~~~~~~~~~~

Matthew 19
25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?”
26 Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”
*~~~~~~~~~~*

***From DW:
*but I think that we can have a minimal core of essential beliefs that, yes, we should be dogmatic about. *

RESPONSE:
*I think we need to be dogmatic about many things (isn’t that the primary criticism of Catholics? *). However, I am MOST dogmatic about the sovereignty of God over ALL things and I will not place “requirements” on how He will show His Mercy. GOD’s Will be done.

***From DW:
As a consequence of such beliefs, I think it is the height of cruelty to tell a person, “I wouldn’t worry about your eternal destiny if you don’t think that Christ was raised from the dead.

RESPONSE:
I have to be honest here—I have no idea how you could come up with that as something I might suggest is okay to say. I repeatedly referenced that we are to teach according to what has been handed on to us and I even referenced Scripture that said if one is obstinate in refusing to accept the Gift of Christ’s Salvation, we are to leave them in their obstinacy. To confirm a person in error is extraordinarily sinful and scandalous. I ask that you please not generalize a comment about deference to the sovereignty of God to be the equivalent of confirming erroneous beliefs as appropriate. It is an unfair characterization of what I have stated.

…CONTINUED
[/FONT]*


#6

***From DW:
Pragmatically, one might ask the question, Why were the apostles so concerned about missionary endeavor if knowing Christ personally was not vital to salvation? And as for church discipline, how could the early church (and the modern church) ever legitimately exercise church discipline unless there was a core of beliefs that one had to embrace to be considered within the flock of God?

RESPONSE:
Look at the issue of spreading God’s word from God’s perspective. God is not simply some great thing for US to HAVE– WE are made for His glory. It is NOT ABOUT US—All creation is to glorify God. Spreading His message (although beneficial to us) is really in service of God—it’s about HIM. To view mission work as some way to get new members to join the God-Club is to do a disservice to its meaning. We act in obedience—to share the reality of God with others as a means to worship Him by the created acknowledging his Creator’s Greatness.

***From DW:
Our approach to the world must be one of reconciliation, love, offering of the great gift of Christ’s sacrifice on behalf of sinners. But that presupposes that we know what their eternal destiny is IF their beliefs are out of whack with the essential core.

RESPONSE:
*That’s a position where one’s worship of God is world-focused rather than God-focused. It seems to suggest that WE have to KNOW something for God to show His Mercy. Sharing the message of God’s Mercy is the act of worship—it is directed toward God. *

***From DW:
*I think it’s entirely possible to love the world to such a degree that we weep over our neighbor’s destiny, that we cry out before God about our aunt, that we bare our soul to the Almighty, begging for his intervention, for our fellow worker. That kind of love recognizes the consequences; it just doesn’t parade them. That kind of love, at bottom, recognizes that eternal condemnation is a real prospect that those who resist the gospel will face. *

RESPONSE:
*When one receives this gift of knowledge about the Mercy of God, then it is incumbent upon that person to worship as well by also sharing that message. God is glorified in the act of Christian communion. In my trust in the Mercy of God, I do not place a requirement of other’s understanding a particular minimal amount to receive that Mercy—rather, I trust that “I” am doing what he calls “me” to do for His glory and my justification. I want my brother to do the same, and I pray for the aid he needs to do so, BUT, to be God-focused rather than world-focused, my INTENTION should be that my brother turn to God for GOD’S sake, not for my brother’s sake. *

***From DW:
God is the one who judges, not we; but we can know–because he has revealed it to us–on what basis he will judge. And for that reason, we need to be burdened for the world to the point that we are moved to action.

RESPONSE:
I disagree. I believe we need to be burdened toward action for the sake of giving what honor we may (by His grace) to the Almighty Creator. That humble service should be at the core of all we do in His name.
Thank-you for your in-depth consideration (I’m sorry my post is so lengthy)—I am truly enjoying these exchanges and I do believe that God is glorified in Christians sharing their love of the Master.
Felicity

END …


#7

Ha-Ha…the CA forum member who started the thread here that invited Catholic response has weighed in:p

C Michael Patton on 27 Jul 2007 at 11:14 am #
Vance and Felicity,
If you both convert to Calvinism, these issues concerning the destiny of the unevangelized will be solved! Sure, other problems will surface, but they have much less exegetical difficulty and more emotional difficulty (at least at first).

Walk into the light . . . I can see you coming . . . http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_wink.gif

I gave him a smart-alec response…couldn’t help myself:D

Felicity on 27 Jul 2007 at 11:24 am #
Sorry Michael–there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church! Didn’t you get the memo from the Pope?:wink:


#8

Vance on 27 Jul 2007 at 12:22 pm #
Hey, if I wanted to just “make it easy” and have all my questions answered, I would become Catholic! http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_smile.gif
I am arminian precisely because I have to figure out so much more! I am a theological masochist. http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_smile.gif

Felicity on 27 Jul 2007 at 1:13 pm #
***From Vance:
Hey, if I wanted to just “make it easy” and have all my questions answered, I would become Catholic!

RESPONSE:
http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_biggrin.gif (raspberries!) HEY! You don’t have to become Catholic to get your questions answered , we have Catholic Answers for that! Right Michael?

forums.catholic.com/index.php?

Then as the Holy Spirit moves you…THEN you can become Catholic–we’re always happy to welcome you home!
http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_smile.gif Felicity


#9

The core beliefs of the Roman Catholic are found in the Nicene Creed, a prayer that is also part of many non-Catholic liturgies. When I am speaking with non-Catholics, I focus on the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This of course leads to Pentecost and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.


#10

Thanks for responding–I was afraid the opening post would be discouraging!:o

This blog is primarily Evangelical Christians and it seems from the concencess of posts that they all agree that the “Trinity” is core–although for early Christians an undefined concept is assumed.

What would you do with a challenge that says any person could claim to be led to a particular understanding based on the urgings of the Holy Spirit, regardless of the veracity of such claims? The point a poster made was that there is no verification and it leads to circular reasoning (that was posited on a different post on the opening post on the blog that dealt with Gnosticism.)


#11

St. Felicity, this is such a large divide among us Catholics and non-Catholics (esp. evangelicals).

In my mind, Catholics look at it from the perspective of: I am called to love, serve and praise God with my whole heart and soul. While I struggle, all I can do (with the help of Grace) is to do my best each day. I will then trust that I will receive either Divine Mercy or Divine Justice.

The Evangelicals have reached a conclusion that there is infinitely high wall in the sand built by God. On the right side you are saved. On the wrong side, you are condemned. They see their call as to first get on the right side (where they can’t ever cross back to the wrong side) and second to get as many on the right side as possible (via evangelization).

Because of these different “salvation” views, it is very difficult to have a meaningful exchange. I remember one time that I said using St. Francis’ words, “I’m called to always preach the Gospel and to use words only when necessary.” He looked at me like I was a heathen.

Like you St. Felicity, my problem with their view is they presume to have too much omniscience regarding where that wall is. Furthermore, they don’t seem to believe that the wall is different for different people depending on what they understand. Like you, I think this is too presumptious and limiting of the I AM.

This all said, I think when confronted w/ this attitude of omniscience and presumption of that which is exclusively God’s (judging of souls) we need to do as you have done. My only suggestion is to change the thrust of the conversation to one of “Who is God?” It is by addressing their implied misunderstanding of I AM who is all-good, all-loving, all-knowing, and limitless in the “alls and omnis” that headway can be made.


#12

Excellent suggestion!

A couple of the Evangelicals on this blog have created what I call a “system” that allows them to seemingly dismiss Catholic apologetics. They reasoning goes like this-- if we don’t see the Bible as the final (not necessarily “only”–but FINAL and the ONLY INFALLIBLE) authority in all faith matters, when we Catholics use Scripture to defend our faith, we are creating a circular logic that is we interpret the Bible in the manner our Magesterium dictates, and that’s why we see what we do in scripture with regard to Church Authority and infallability. And then they dismiss the Scriptural evidence (the ONLY kind they would accept) because our Catholic authority dictated the meaning. (I know–pretty convoluted:shrug: )

Anyway…I thought I’d share that to explain some of the bias I have encountered. They know I’m Catholic, and so…that colors some perceptions I fear. I think talking about the nature of God is a great way to bridge that divide because we all believe God is Love!


#13

Orionthehunter:

Here’s my first foray into that direction you suggested: It’s on the message called: How to Perform a Gnostic Bible Study

Felicity on 27 Jul 2007 at 2:18 pm #
***From stevemoore:
I dont know that I accept it as an answer to the question at hand to resolve the issue of authority or interpretation.

RESPONSE:
I don’t think it’s a huge mystery that has to be “solved.” That wondrous Being “I AM” WANTS us to know Him. In His Mercy and Love–why wouldn’t He give us a means to know his message CLEARLY. To suggest that we have to “figure it out” has those Gnostic overtones that Michael warns about and doesn’t really fit with the Christian concept of a God of Love. In my humble opinion—God DID NOT INTEND this to be a question at all—that, I believe, is the work of the evil one who is the father of lies and confusion.
Felicity


#14

I am not sure this will answer your question, but I will try. I was taught a three fold method of discernment.
Scripture tells us to question the spirits, to make sure that our promptings are from God and not ourselves or Satan. The Romans in persecuting the early Christians would ask them to curse God, which of course they could not do. Only through the Holy Spirit can we say "Jesus is Lord."
In discerning God’s will about a particular situation, the first thing I ask is what does prophecy say. As a Catholic, what does the Magisterium teach? These teachings come directly to us from the Apostles who learned at the feet of Jesus. This can be likened to the Jews who held fast to the teachings that came to them through history from Moses.
What does Scripture say? and What are the circumstances of my life? If the answer to any of these questions is no, than the prompting is not from God.
One of the most common examples given is that of a man who “hears” the call to go to Africa to preach the gospel either through a sermon, prophetic utterance, or internal sense. This is borne out by Scripture which says “Go forth and preach to all nations baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” The reality of this person’s life is the family for which he bears responsibility. Since going to Africa would mean abandoning his family, this call is not from God.


#15

C Michael Patton on 27 Jul 2007 at 11:14 am # Vance and Felicity, If you both convert to Calvinism, these issues concerningthe destiny of the unevangelized will be solved! Sure, other problems will surface, but they have much less exegetical difficulty and more emotional difficulty (at least at first). Walk into the light . . . I can see you coming . . .

I don’t remember who posted the following. I have fuzzy brain today:

[FONT=Arial]To view mission work as some way to get new members to join the God-Club is to do a disservice to its meaning. [/FONT]

There seems to be some boundary issues on what human folks can legitimately judge and what belongs only to God to judge. Certainly much of the Bible is a map for the lost sheep to find our ways back home again. That is, the Bible describes to us how we may be saved.

But are we empowered by any legitimate Christian source to come to conclusions as to who is saved?

[FONT=Arial]Certainly Jesus wants us to spread the Gospel. The question is: [/FONT]

[FONT=Arial]How may we spread the Gospel? What are the boundaries? And for what reason are/were the boundaries there?[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial]continued…[/FONT]


#16

In Chapter XVII of his Rule of 1221, St Francis of Assisi told the friars not to preach unless they had received the proper permission to do so. Then he added, “Let all the brothers, however, preach by their deeds.” As opposed by their words.

Earlier, Felicity reminds us of Paul’s admonition in 1Cor10 not to eat the food of idols:

27 If an unbeliever invites you and you want to go, eat whatever is placed before you, without raising questions on grounds of conscience.
28 But if someone says to you, “This was offered in sacrifice,” do not eat it on account of the one who called attention to it and on account of conscience;
29 I mean not your own conscience, but the other’s. For why should my freedom be determined by someone else’s conscience? …

So, although we have many freedoms associated with a growing journey in the footsteps of Jesus, for the sake of others who do not know Jesus, we must be careful not only of what we say but of what folks hear when we speak; not only of what we do but of what meaning folks attribute to what we do. Why? Because what we say and do is a witness to our Christian life.

[FONT=Arial]This is why, imho, it is critical to refrain from lecturing but to fathom the million ways of engaging folks in dialogue and, rather than wait for a break in the conversation to impose our view on the other, to wait for the Holy Moment where the Holy Spirit Himself speaks. For it is the Holy Spirit Himself Who convicts, not ourselves.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial][/FONT]
[FONT=Arial]continued…[/FONT]


#17

See also 1Cor8 DRC:

Margin note: Though an idol be nothing, yet things offered up to idols are not to be eaten, for fear of scandal.

8:1. Now concerning those things that are sacrificed to idols: we know we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up: but charity edifieth.

*Margin note: Knowledge puffeth up, etc. . .*Knowledge, without charity and humility, serveth only to puff persons up.

8:2. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he hath not yet known as he ought to know.

8:3. But if any man love God, the same is known by [H]im.

So, here it is: we are asked to avoid scandal and we are asked never to exclude charity and humility from what we know. Why? In order to avoid leading the vulnerable astray. In this way, the example of lives lived in faith and charity speak louder than our braying words. Is that not what St Francis meant?

[FONT=Arial]What have been your experiences with ‘silent’ preaching versus ‘loud’ preaching?[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial]continued…[/FONT]


#18

Again from 1Cor8:

8:7. But there is not knowledge in every one. For some until this present, with conscience of the idol, eat as a thing sacrificed to an idol: and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.

8:8. But meat doth not commend us to God. For neither, if we eat, shall we have the more: nor, if we eat not, shall we have the less.

8:9. But take heed lest perhaps this your liberty become a stumblingblock to the weak.

8:10. For if a man see him that hath knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not his conscience, being weak, be emboldened to eat those things which are sacrificed to idols?

8:11. And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ hath died?

8:12. Now when you sin thus against the brethren and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.

9:14. So also the Lord ordained that they who preach the gospel should live by the gospel…

9:18. What is my reward then? That preaching the gospel, I may deliver the gospel without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.

9:19. For whereas I was free as to all, I made myself the servant of all, that I might gain the more.

9:20. And I became to the Jews a Jew, that I might gain the Jews:

9:22. To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak. I became all things to all men,that I might saveall.

What has been your experience of folks who abuse their power in the Gospel? How much of the Gospel got through to you? And how much of the abuse got through to you? Were you tempted to judge the Gospel by using the abuse as a measure of the Gospel?

[FONT=Times New Roman][FONT=Arial]What do I mean by that? Lord Kelvin said, “To measure is to know.” So it follows that the truth of what we know depends on the truth of our measure. And if we use a fallible measure of the Gospel, then it follows that our knowledge of the Gospel is also fallible. Well? Does it not?[/FONT]

continued…[/FONT]


#19

Earlier Felicity was discussing whether or not we may judge folks as to their Salvation. Certainly I believe that God wishes us to judge for why else would he have given us the faculties of observation and of reason:

Hebrews 11:1 DRC:

11:1. Now, faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not.

11:2. For by this the ancients obtained a testimony.

Now some folks believe that faith always contradicts reason. But that is not always true. Science is from the latin scientia. And to speak more about this we really ought to get our resident CAF philosophers on board: cpayne, heisenburg, Truthstalker, John Doran, mtr01, and others. Scientia is a kind of knowing; knowing from information, if you will. As opposed to knowing from experience – sapientia (wisdom) or knowing from tinkering-- Greek techne.

There are two poles of knowing: theoretical science and observational science. Hebrews is talking about both. ‘Evidence’ refers to observation, but a kind of observation beyond what can be seen – like much of the quantum world. Things hoped for are simply hypotheses in theoretical science.

A faith in what is True cannot be separated from reason. Why? Because reason is a faith in what is True. So let’s put to bed any question begging about our abilities to judge. Without judgment we simply could not survive.

But are there boundaries to what we are to judge? Felicity says yes. She claims that judging souls is the domain of God alone. And I agree with her.

Can anyone tell me how judging another man’s soul furthers our survival on this planet? And by judging a man’s soul, I do not mean assessing whether or not he is about to rob you of everything you own and then kill you without mercy. I mean judging whether or not a man is saved.

continued…


#20

Judging whether or not a man is saved is different from judging whether or not a man knows the Gospel or parts of the Gospel or is following the Gospel. That is observable given the same talents we have for survival.

But what have we been given to judge whether or not God saves this man?

If God wanted us to save men, then God would have given us the talent to save men.

Does God want us to save men? How many of you were sent by God to sacrifice yourselves on a cross in order that the sins of all may be forgiven? A show of hands please?

OK, so I hear a dull roar among some of you that perhaps we can use our survival talents of observation and theory to also judge whether or not a man is saved.

So what does “…the Lord thy God is a jealous God in the midst of thee: lest at any time the wrath of the Lord thy God be kindled against thee, and take thee away from the face of the earth” mean to you? (Deut 6:15. DRC)

[FONT=Arial]This is about not worshipping strange gods again. But this time not primarily about false testimony to the vulnerable and weak of conscience, but because of God’s personal relationship with each of us.[/FONT]

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