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?

WHAT IS OUR INBRED SIN?

On the home page of this website, under The Next Denouement, is a panoramic view of creation, corruption, redemption, and restoration copied here for easy reference.  (See also Section 8.6 of Theology Corner)

 

A theme that underlies the entire ministry of Jesus Christ is the apocalyptic assumption that God is battling Satan for all creation and the souls of all mankind.  Jesus understood Himself to be the one in whom this battle was to be played out in a decisive way.  Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8) and establish God’s domain.  This objective was accomplished when God the Son allowed Himself to be crucified (Heb 2:14) as the only possible sacrifice to generate the reconciliation, expiation and propitiation that took place between God and His creation and God and the souls of all mankind.  The death of Jesus Christ occurred at a specific time and place (John 19:30); but the consequences of this substitutionary atonement instantly exploded throughout Heaven, Hell, and the universe, throughout all that has been, all that is and all that ever will be.

By the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, all creation was redeemed from the bondage of evil and each soul was offered redemption from the bondage of sin.  But Satan was not a willing seller and is at war with God to retain possession.  The outcome of the struggle was completely decided by the substitutionary atonement.  Yet few would claim Jesus has set His corrupted creation free from the influence of Satan or set redeemed souls free from the influence of sin.  Evil continues to rage; the world, at every level, is at war.  Christians are on the front lines of this Great War between good and evil whether we like it or not.  As we stand side by side with Jesus in this war, the suffering of the Christian soldier has a meaning and value to God commensurate with this titanic spiritual struggle of the ages.

God created the universe with such precision that the slightest change in any one of its properties would preclude our existence and God designed the earth as a home for man.  God placed certain powerful angels in charge of His creation and instructed them to be good stewards.  Some angels began to oppose God under the leadership of Satan, the most powerful and intelligent of all rebellious angels.  Satan exercises a pervasive, structural and diabolical influence, on whatever he touches, which caused all creation to be captured by the bondage of evil.  That which God created as good began to exhibit a pain-ridden, bloodthirsty, sinister and hostile demeanor.  “Mother Nature,” became an inherently violent and terrifying system dominated by disease, suffering and death – a system red in tooth and claw.  Man had not yet been created.

God set aside some real estate for the Garden of Eden and restored it to its condition prior to Satan’s diabolical influence.  He then created Adam and Eve to live in this Garden.  In full view of all the angels in Heaven, Satan demanded unrestricted access to Adam and Eve and, although they were created sinless, Satan won them over.  Evil had taken up residence in the soul of man, that particular evil called sin.  The will, intellect and heart of Adam and Eve had been possessed and permeated by sin.  But what about us, the descendants of Adam and Eve?

God is just.  God does not impute to us the individual sins of Adam and Eve.  But He knew it would be pointless to allow the offspring of Adam and Eve to be born sinless.  He knew they would follow exactly the same path as their created ancestors.  So He allowed the generations of Adam and Eve’s offspring to be born with a sin nature.  We are all born corrupt, averse to God and inclined to evil.  However, for this depraved nature we are not responsible and no guilt or demerit attaches to it.  We become responsible for this sin nature only after attaining the age of accountability and ratifying it as our own.  The age of accountability is not the same for all persons and, for many, it may be very young indeed.

God knew, before the creation of the universe, that all this was going to happen.  On one hand, God knew sin would prevent Him from fellowship with man; on the other hand, God knew He would love each individual unconditionally and would not want eternal separation to be the inevitable consequence of sin.  But sin could not simply be overlooked; a price had to be paid for every crime.  Unfortunately, if you and I paid the price for our own crimes, our souls would spend eternity in Hell.  Before the universe began, God chose an incredible, astounding and magnificent solution to this dilemma.

Although God could have simply restored and repossessed His corrupted creation and the corrupted souls of mankind, His purity of wisdom, holiness, justice and truth demanded a punishment for every evil, particularly that evil called sin which resides in the human soul.  Only one punishment, the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, was great enough to redeem all creation from the bondage of evil and offer redemption from the bondage of sin to all mankind.  But Satan will never acknowledge the efficacy of that punishment.  He is battling God to retain possession of that which was given to him (Luke 4:5-7).  The substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ began a new phase of warfare.  It marked the denouement when God the Son redeemed all creation from the bondage of evil and began the process of setting creation free from the influence of Satan himself.  That denouement also marked the instant when God the Son offered redemption from the bondage of sin to all mankind and began the process of setting redeemed souls free from the influence of sin itself.  For a time and within limits, God continues to permit certain consequences of rampant rebellion and the brutal corruption of all life.  But He expects His people to engage the enemy and be soldiers in His army.

In these last days, Satan is making a ferocious attempt to demean God, discredit man and destroy God’s relationship with man in full view of all the angels in Heaven!  Satan’s all-consuming purpose is to drive an irremovable wedge between God and man, to affect an alienation that cannot be reconciled.  Satan claims the concept of salvation by faith, the grace of God and the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ is a sham.  God the Father should not have attempted it, Jesus Christ could not have legitimately paid for it and you and I, driven by our sin nature, could never receive it.  According to Satan, it’s all smoke and mirrors so that God can save his wretched humans without appearing to compromise His own character. The accusation, once raised, cannot be removed, not even by destroying the accuser.  If the salvation offered to every man and woman can be exposed as a perversion of wisdom, holiness, justice and truth, then a chasm of alienation would stand between God and man that could not be bridged.  Reconciliation would be unthinkable.  God’s whole enterprise in creation would be radically and irrevocably flawed; He could only sweep it away in awful judgment as He nearly did once before (Gen 6:5-7).

As integral players in this Great War, the course of our Christian lives must never elicit the rulers and authorities in heavenly realms to question the manifold wisdom, holiness, justice and truth of God. 

Christians eagerly anticipate the next denouement but the struggle is relentless!

 

 

THE APPEARANCE AND CORRUPTION OF MAN

 

Near the midpoint of this apocalyptic story are the statements:

 

God set aside some real estate for the Garden of Eden and restored it to its condition prior to Satan’s diabolical influence.  He then created Adam and Eve to live in this Garden.  In full view of all the angels in Heaven, Satan demanded unrestricted access to Adam and Eve and, although they were created sinless, Satan won them over.  Evil had taken up residence in the soul of man, that particular evil called sin.  The will, intellect and heart of Adam and Eve had been possessed and permeated by sin.  But what about us, the descendants of Adam and Eve?

God is just.  God does not impute to us the individual sins of Adam and Eve.  But He knew it would be pointless to allow the offspring of Adam and Eve to be born sinless.  He knew they would follow exactly the same path as their created ancestors.  So He allowed the generations of Adam and Eve’s offspring to be born with a sin nature.  We are all born corrupt, averse to God and inclined to evil.  However, for this depraved nature we are not responsible and no guilt or demerit attaches to it.  We become responsible for this sin nature only after attaining the age of accountability and ratifying it as our own.  The age of accountability is not the same for all persons and, for many, it may be very young indeed.

 

 

What does it mean to say, Satan won over Adam and Eve?

 

It means Satan helped them realize something that had eluded them since their creation by God.  In the words of Oswald Chambers (See also Section 8.11 of Theology Corner):

 

“The Bible does not say that God punished the human race for one man’s sin; but that the disposition of sin, viz. my claim to my right to myself, entered into the human race by one man, and that another Man took on Him the sin of the human race and put it away (Heb 9:26) – an infinitely profounder revelation.  The disposition of sin is not immorality and wrong-doing, but the disposition of self-realization – I am my own god.  This disposition may work out in decorous morality or in indecorous immorality, but it has one basis, my claim to my right to myself.” (Chambers, October 5th)

 

Without using a specific name for it, Satan introduced Adam and Eve to humanism.  A humanistic culture is one embracing the concept that men and women can begin from themselves and derive the standards by which to judge all things.  There are, for such people, no fixed standards of behavior, no standards that cannot be eroded or replaced by what seems necessary, expedient or fashionable.  There is no essential difference in legitimacy between ‘good’ and ‘evil.’  Any perceived difference between good and evil is an illusion, an aberration for the puzzlement of limited intellects; what one might call evil, another might call good.  Embracing humanism means following your own intellect, your own will and your own heart.  Scriptures teach: The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?  (Jer 17:9)

 

What does it mean to say, God allowed the generations of Adam and Eve’s offspring to be born with a sin nature?

 

It means God knew it would be pointless to allow the offspring of Adam and Eve to be born sinless.  He knew each offspring would follow exactly the same path as Adam and Eve.  So, He allows each descendant of Adam and Eve to be born with full instinctive knowledge that they have a right to themselves.  All progeny are born embracing this sin nature, sometimes called original sin, inbred sin or inherited depravity.  But God had a contingency plan devised before the universe was formed.  This was a radical plan necessitated by the fact that God Himself is the ultimate victim of every sin.  It begins with prevenient grace which is a cornerstone of Wesleyan/Arminian theology.  Without God working in your corrupted heart, intellect and will, without God calling you, trying to awaken you, trying to draw you near and convict you of your sins, you could never be saved!  You are drowning in a bottomless sea of sin and the Holy Spirit is nudging you to within arm’s length of a life preserver.  You need only grasp the preserver and be pulled to safety.  But the deep need for reconciliation, expiation and propitiation between God and His creation and God and the souls of all mankind demanded an even more drastic intervention: the substitutionary atonement.

The guilt, penalty and pain caused by one individual’s sin against another can morally be borne either by the sinner through justice or by the victim of sin through forgiveness; either the sinner pays the price of justice or the victim pays the price of forgiveness.  The victim cannot forgive the sinner without paying a price.  In other words, there is no serendipitous land of cheap forgiveness where we simply forgive one another by overlooking a few inconsequential faults at no cost to us.  While forgiveness usually brings a sense of peace and relief to the victim of sin, the victim can also bear great burden and pain.  The consequence of sin may last a lifetime.

The penalty of sin cannot be transferred to a third party.  When we say that Christ died as our substitute, we do not imply that He was simply a third party who stepped in between God and man.  Christ was not a third party in the affair at Calvary.  He was God against whom every sin is committed.  When God the Son said, at Calvary: “Father forgive them” instead of saying “Angelic hosts, destroy them,” He, as the victim, bore the guilt, penalty and pain rightfully due every person who will ever live.  Jesus not only bore the guilt and penalty for your sins but he took a step further.  Since your guilt is canceled and your punishment remitted, He said that you can be accepted before God as righteous.  You can, therefore, stand before God as if you had never sinned; you are thereby justified.

It is important to note, however, that justification is a relative change and not the work of God by which you are made actually righteous.  Justification removes condemnation but does not change your nature or make you holy.  Justification is what God does for you through His Son; sanctification is what God works in you by His Spirit.  Justification is a declarative act in the mind of God while sanctification is a moral change within the soul (See also Section 3.3 of Theology Corner).

Since God is the victim of every sin, then God, as victim, must pay the price of forgiveness.  According to Oswald Chambers (See also Section 8.9 of Theology Corner):

 

“We have to recognize that sin is a fact, not a defect; sin is red-handed mutiny against God.  Either God or sin must die in my life.  The New Testament brings us right down to this one issue.  If sin rules in me, God’s life in me will be killed; if God rules in me, sin in me will be killed.  There is no possible ultimate but that.  The climax of sin is that it crucified Jesus Christ, and what was true in the history of God on earth will be true in your history and in mine.  In our mental outlook we have to reconcile ourselves to the fact of sin as the only explanation as to why Jesus Christ came, and as the explanation of the grief and sorrow in life.”  (Chambers, June 23rd)

 

The price paid, to redeem us from sin, covers every person who will ever live.  In the words of Oswald Chambers (See also Section 8.11 of Theology Corner):

 

“Sin is a thing I am born with and I cannot touch it; God touches sin in Redemption.  In the Cross of Jesus Christ God redeemed the whole human race from the possibility of damnation through the heredity of sin.  God nowhere holds a man responsible for having the heredity of sin.  The condemnation is not that I am born with a heredity of sin, but if when I realize Jesus Christ came to deliver me from it, I refuse to let Him do so, from that moment I begin to get the seal of damnation.  ‘And this is the judgment’ (the critical moment), ‘that the light is come into the world and men loved the darkness rather than the light.”  (Chambers, October 5th)

 

What does it mean to say, for our depraved nature we are not responsible and no guilt or demerit attaches to it.  We become responsible for this sin nature only after attaining the age of accountability and ratifying it as our own.

 

In the words of H. Orton Wiley:

 

“Man’s nature as he is born into the world is corrupt, is very far gone from original righteousness, is averse to God, is without spiritual life, is inclined to evil, and that continually.  However, for this depraved nature he is not responsible, and hence no guilt or demerit attaches to it.  This is not because depravity is uncondemnable, but because through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the free gift reversed the penalty as a consequence of the universal atonement.  We hold, therefore, as truly as later Arminianism, that man as he comes into the world is not guilty of inbred sin.  He becomes responsible for it, only when having rejected the remedy provided by atoning blood, he ratifies it as his own.”  This happens at the age of accountability.  (Wiley, v2, 137)

 

“We must regard the atonement as accomplishing the actual salvation of those who die in infancy.  This we may admit is not stated explicitly in the Scriptures, and in the past, has been the subject of much debate.  The general tenor of the Scriptures, however, when viewed in the light of divine love and the universal grace of the Spirit, will allow no other conclusion.”  (Wiley, v2, p 297-298)

 

What is humanism doing to your life and to the United States of America?