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?

28.)  CAN CALVINISM BE SENT TO THE DUST BIN?

29.)  IS YOUR FREE WILL AN ILLUSION?

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?

26.)  WHAT DOES REFORMED THEOLOGY MEAN BY PREDESTINATION; IS IT TRUE OR FALSE?

WHAT IS REPENTANCE AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?

One of the core beliefs of Christianity can be stated as follows:

 

Each person who responds to God’s grace and the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ by confession of sin, remorse, repentance, faith and obedience receives the great gift of salvation. Each person who resists God’s grace is condemned to everlasting punishment.

  • Each person who responds to God’s grace and the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ by
  • 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)
  • receives the great gift of salvation (Acts 4:12; Rom 1:16; 2 Cor 7:10; 1 Thes 5:9; Heb 5:9; 1 Pet 1:9, 18-19).
  • Each person who resists God’s grace is condemned to everlasting punishment (Mat 25:46; 2 Thes 1:8-9).

Christian belief must be preceded by repentance and followed by obedience to qualify as faith. Faith is not just an intellectual exercise (Jam 2:19) or an emotional experience (Jer 17:9).

 

The salvation of man, which comes by the substitutionary atonement, has many facets including but not limited to:

  • Redemption (Rom 3:24; 8:23) - You are freed from the bondage of sin for the first time in your life.
  • Forgiveness (Mat 6:9-15; 1 John 1:8-10) – You are forgiven your sins by God.
  • Justification (Rom 3:21-26) – You are declared righteous by God; this legal declaration is valid because Christ died to pay the penalty for your sin and lived a life of perfect righteousness that can in turn be imputed to you.
  • Adoption (Rom 3:23; Gal 3:26; 1 John 3:2) – You are a joint heir with Jesus to the Kingdom of God.
  • Regeneration (John 3:1-21) - The Holy Spirit makes known to you the will of God and helps you discern truth from lie.       He occupies and purifies all the rooms of your heart into which He is invited. For the first time in your life you are not a prisoner of sin.  You are free to pursue the path of righteousness. This is the first day of your Christian life and you are a new creature in Christ.  This is the mechanism of your redemption.
  • Sanctification (Heb 6:1; 1 Pet 1:13-16) - You are led by the Holy Spirit along the path toward holiness; this is a lifetime journey.
  • Reconciliation (Eph 2:11-22) - You are reconciled with all other believers.
  • Unification (Eph 3:1-11) – You are united with all believers in the Church of Jesus Christ.
  • Glorification (Rom 8:30) – You will complete the journey along the path of sanctification when your mission in this life is done.

 

The steps culminating in salvation cannot be bypassed.  Without confession of sin, it is not possible to have true remorse in your heart.  Without remorse, it is not possible to repent.  Without repentance, there is no faith; belief must be preceded by repentance and followed by obedience to qualify as faith.  Without faith, there can be no obedience.  Break any link in the chain and your salvation will be derailed! (See Section 2.3 of Theology Corner) This is why repentance matters.  But what exactly is it?

In the 200-year-old words of Richard Watson, the first Methodist theologian after John Wesley:

 

"…the preparatory process, which leads to regeneration, as it leads to pardon, commences with conviction and contrition, and goes on to a repentant turning to the Lord.  In the order which God has established, regeneration does not take place without this process.  Conviction of the evil and danger of an unregenerate state must first be felt."  (Watson, v2, p 267)

 

Conviction comes from the Greek elenchus, which means to convince someone of the truth; to reprove; to accuse, refute, or cross-examine.  In other words, when the Holy Spirit convicts you of your sin, only then have you confessed your sin to God.  Next, contrition means to feel remorse or feel the great burden of sorrow and regret for the consequences of your sin.  Contrition implies a clear realization of and heartfelt remorse for the devastating consequences of your sinConviction, contrition and repentance have the same meaning as confession, remorse and repentance.  Repentance itself means to turn away from your sinful path and toward a new path pointing to God.  This is your duty, but it cannot be accomplished on your own without the grace of God.  Nothing short of Divine agency can produce that godly sorrow which works repentance into life.

This message is not well received in the modern American church.  Few, in the congregation, want to confront their own sin, their own need to feel remorse and their own need to repent.  Consequently, pastors have sought new ways to worship, new ways to evangelize, new ways to disciple and new ways to enlarge the fellowship.  Curiously, this new and improved Christianity seems to have put the church in America into a death spiral.

The fastest growing religious affiliation in America is “none” now comprising nearly one third of the adult population.  In at least a dozen developed countries, including America, between twenty-five and sixty five percent of the population reject the concept of “life after death.”  By any statistical assessment, religiosity is declining, and atheism is ascending in all but the poorest nations of the world.

For the first time since 1937, fewer than half of Americans (47%) belong to a church.  Church membership remained steady (68-70%) for many decades until a precipitous decline began around the year 2000.  The United States of America is no longer a Christian nation!  It is, instead, a collection of loosely bound, humanistic groups that, on occasion, become mobs.  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.  The humanistic culture of the country is reflected by our leaders and particularly by our judges who hide their humanism behind black robes.  But we, in America, have gone a step further than merely humanistic leadership.  We have segregated ourselves into groups, or mobs, many of which hate our country, hate our constitution, hate our culture, hate our history, hate our institutions, hate our flag, hate God and yearn for anarchy followed by totalitarianism.  These mobs spit on equality of opportunity and demand equality of outcomes.  They want to cancel our culture and revise our history.  We are lurching toward anarchy followed by socialism, communism and, ultimately, totalitarianism. 

 

The theology stated, in this Section of Theology Corner, is the Wesleyan/Arminian position and the position of the early Church.  But, it should be mentioned that the Reformed Church holds a contrary view.  Christians in the Reformed tradition believe God first causes you to receive the gift of salvation and then you subsequently experience confession, remorse, repentance, faith and obedience.  Salvation simply appears one day like an unexpected, mysterious package delivered to your door by UPS, a package that causes you to suddenly confess your sins with remorse in your heart, repent, believe in Jesus Christ and seek obedience to his guidance.  Reformed theology teaches that because of the corrupt moral bondage of the un-regenerated sinner, man cannot have faith until he is changed internally by the monergistic work of the Holy Spirit.  Faith, for the Calvinist, is regeneration’s fruit, not its cause.  (Sproul, p 23)

 

(See also Sections 1.3, 2.1, 8.14, 8.15 and 11.14 of Theology Corner)