Theology Corner

Addressing commonly asked questions about Christianity from the perspective of a non-theologian

Theology Corner

1.)  CAN GOD'S WILL BE THWARTED?

2.)  DID GOD ELECT ONLY A FEW FOR SALVATION WHILE CONDEMNING THE GREATER PART OF MANKIND TO HELL?

3.)  FAITH OR SALVATION: WHICH COMES FIRST?

4.)  DID GOD THE FATHER BEGET JESUS CHRIST?

5.)  WHAT ARE THE TWO NATURES OF CHRIST?

6.)  WHAT IS ANTINOMIANISM?

7.)  WHAT IS SABELLIANISM?

8.)  WHAT IS PELAGIANISM?

9.)  DOES LOVE REALLY WIN?

10.)  IS YOUR WILL REALLY YOUR WILL?

11.)  CAN TWO THEOLOGIES BE TESTED FOR COMPATIBILITY?

12.)  WHAT IS THE FRAUD OF FIDEISM?

13.)  IS CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES THEOLOGY?

14.)  IS CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH CHRISTIAN SCIENCE THEOLOGY?

15.)  IS CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH MORMON THEOLOGY?

16.)  IS CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISTS THEOLOGY?

17.)  IS CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH SCIENTOLOGY THEOLOGY?

18.)  IS CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH UNIFICATION CHURCH THEOLOGY?

19.)  IS CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH THE WAY INTERNATIONAL THEOLOGY?

20.)  IS CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH THE WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD THEOLOGY?

21.)  IS REPENTANCE REALLY NECESSARY?

22.)  WHAT ARE SOME MUSINGS OF A METHODIST THEOLOGIAN ON LIMITED ATONEMENT?

23.)  WHAT ARE SOME QUESTIONS FOR THOSE WHO TEACH A LIMITED ATONEMENT PROVIDED ONLY FOR THE ELECT OF GOD?

24.)  WHAT WERE CALVIN'S ACTUAL WORDS?

25.)  WHAT IS GNOSTICISM?

26.)  WHAT IS THE UNPARDONABLE SIN?

27.)  IS CLASSICAL CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY COMPATIBLE WITH PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY?

1.)  IS CHRISTIANITY COMPATIBLE WITH POSITIVE TOLERANCE?

2.)  CAN WE HAVE A FORM OF GODLINESS, BUT DENY THE POWER THEREOF?

3.)  WHAT IS THE GREAT WAR?

4.)  SHOULD PRESIDENT TRUMP HAVE BEEN IMPEACHED FOR IMMORALITY?

5.)  WHO SAID MOSES WAS HUMBLE?

6.)  COULD CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE BENEFIT FROM WOKE REVISION?

7.)  DID EINSTEIN BELIEVE ALL CHRISTIANS WERE CALVINISTS?

8.)  WHY IS MARXISM A MAGNET?

9.)  WHAT IS TRUE SCIENCE?

10.)  CAN YOU LOSE YOUR SALVATION?

11.)  WHAT ARE THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS?

12.)  WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS?

13.)  WAS PAUL ENTIRELY SANCTIFIED?

14.)  ARE YOU LIVING IN A WORLD AT WAR?

15.)  WHAT IS THE DIRECT METHOD FOR PROVING A CONDITIONAL PROPOSITION IS TRUE?

16.)  WHAT IS THE CONTRAPOSITIVE METHOD FOR PROVING A CONDITIONAL PROPOSITION IS TRUE?

17.)  WHAT IS THE CONTRADICTION METHOD FOR PROVING A CONDITIONAL PROPOSITION IS TRUE?

18.)  WHAT MIGHT A METHODIST THEOLOGIAN SAY ABOUT PURGATORY?

19.)  WHICH BIBLE PASSAGES ELUCIDATE CORE ASPECTS OF CHRISTIANITY?

20.)  DO SELECTED NIV VERSES ELUCIDATE CORE ASPECTS OF CHRISTIANITY?

21.)  DO SELECTED AKJV VERSES ELUCIDATE CORE ASPECTS OF CHRISTIANITY?

22.)  DO SELECTED YLT VERSES ELUCIDATE CORE ASPECTS OF CHRISTIANITY?

23.)  DO SELECTED 'VOICE' VERSES ELUCIDATE CORE ASPECTS OF CHRISTIANITY?

24.)  COULD THE CONCEPT OF 'SALVATION ONLY FOR THE ELECT' HAVE BEEN ROOTED IN THE MIND OF AUGUSTINE BEFORE HE EMBRACED CHRISTIANITY?

25.)  DID AUGUSTINE RECEIVE PUSHBACK FOR HIS TEACHING OF 'SALVATION ONLY FOR THE ELECT' DURING HIS LIFETIME?

FAITH OR SALVATION: WHICH COMES FIRST?

Reformed theology suggests man is so totally depraved that he cannot engage in:

  • Confession of sin (Ps 32:3-5; 1 John 1:8-10),
  • Remorse (Ps 66:18; Luke 18:13),
  • Repentance (Mat 3:8; Rom 12:2, 13:14; Eph 4:23-24; Rev 2:5, 16, 3:3, 19),
  • Faith (John 6:29, 3:16-17; Acts 16:31; Eph 2:8-10) and
  • Obedience (Mat 28:20; Luke 11:28; John 14:15; Rom 1:5, 6:16; Heb 5:9)

until he is saved by the monergistic work of the Holy Spirit.  In other words, faith is the consequence of salvation not the cause of salvation; you must be born again before you can believe.  Traditional Southern Baptist, Wesleyan/Arminian theology reverses the order and asserts that the depraved man will be led by the Prevenient Grace of God to a point in time when he will either confess sin with remorse in his heart, repent, believe, seek to be obedient and subsequently receive the gift of salvation or he will resist and reject the Prevenient Grace of God; you must believe before you can be born again.  Wesleyan/Arminians assert that:

  • Calvinism is not supported by Scripture taken in its entirety.
  • Calvinism is not supported by logic and reason.
  • Calvinism is blasphemy at its core.

For reference, see Section 2.1 of Theology Corner under the title, “Can God’s Will be Thwarted?”  But is there any single passage of Scripture that appears to promote one view over the other?  At least one such passage appears in the New Testament.  Here is a summary of events surrounding that passage and a suggested exegesis.

Jesus began His ministry after returning from the temptation in the wilderness.  For several months He performed miracles and taught in Galilee.  The consequences of his miracles were clearly seen but His teaching was hard even for His disciples.  One day, while standing on a rise above a plain filled with thousands of people, He delivered the Sermon on the Mount.  Nestled in this sermon are eight terse statements we now call “The Beatitudes.”  Is it possible that the Beatitudes are like steps on a staircase which Christ has arranged in the exact sequence to provide a roadmap for the salvation message?  Is it possible that each step on the staircase builds on the foundation of the previous steps?

Before examining the eight steps on the staircase of The Beatitudes, let us first examine critical words in the text.  The word “beatitude” itself comes from the Latin word “beatus” meaning blessed, happy, fortunate or blissful.  In the late fourth century, beatus was the word Jerome chose for his translation of the word “makarios” from the Greek. The English word “blessed” was chosen by translators in the seventeenth century.  It meant something consecrated to or belonging to God.  While most English Bibles use “blessed,” some modern translations prefer “happy.”  Unfortunately, “happy” isn’t good enough.  If you don’t like “blessed,” there is not a single English word to take its place.  You might use a phrase like, “on the right track” or “going in the right direction” but “happy” is too shallow.  In the context of The Beatitudes, “blessed” is best interpreted as “on the right track.”  Here are the Beatitudes (Mat 5:3-10):

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
  • Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
  • Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
  • Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

Here is an interpretation of the Beatitudes:

  • On the right track is a man who confesses his sin nature and behavior and acknowledges his heart is black as a lump of coal… (CONFESSION OF SIN)
  • On the right track is a man with remorse in his heart because of his own sin… (REMORSE)
  • On the right track is a man who submits to the will of God and wants God to cleanse him of all sin… (REPENTANCE)
  • On the right track is a man who wants God to lead him down the path of righteousness… (REPENTANCE)
  • On the right track is a man who seeks the mercy of God but, beyond all expectation, receives, not just mercy, but the far greater gift of salvation… (FAITH)
  • On the right track is a man who asks God to occupy and purify his heart… (OBEDIENCE)
  • On the right track are the peacemakers… (OBEDIENCE)
  • On the right track is a man who perseveres unto the end in his free will faith in Jesus Christ… (OBEDIENCE)

First, the sequence of Beatitudes indicates the “right track,” which is revealed as a path of ordered steps on a staircase illuminated by God.  Second, the ordered sequence of steps is: confession of sin, remorse, repentance, faith and obedience.  These are, in fact, the steps you must take to receive the great gift of salvation.

The eight Beatitudes appear to be an instruction manual for receiving the gift of salvation.  Follow these steps in order and you will be saved.  If salvation came first, we would need only a single verse: “Blessed are the elect, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”