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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 9:51 pm 
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I did find a couple of interesting articles:

http://lds-mormon.com/racism.shtml
http://www.lds-mormon.com/lds_race.shtml
http://www.i4m.com/think/comments/mormon-racism.htm

To me, this whole race discourse is rather pointless, considering that he Hebrew people themselves in ancient times had darker skin, and were of Semitic origin rather than Caucasian (they looked like modern-day Arabs).

To their credit, the modern-day LDS Church is in the process of reexamining these policies. But it still calls into question the authority upon which the LDS was founded.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 10:48 pm 
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Didymus wrote:
To me, this whole race discourse is rather pointless, considering that he Hebrew people themselves in ancient times had darker skin, and were of Semitic origin rather than Caucasian (they looked like modern-day Arabs).


Hmm, that almost looks word-for-word like a point I made with racerx on the PMs. Racerx made some sound points on that whole issue, though I wouldn't want to share anything he said on the PMs without his permission. (Well, that's why they're private messages, after all.)

But my reason for bringing up the race discourse was because I was concerned about whether it implied that non-white races were morally inferior to whites. I'm satisfied now that that's not the case - in terms of the general attitudes of the 19th Century, at the very least.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 5:16 am 
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Didymus, if I understand your point on interpretation correctly, you believe you can correctly understand every scripture exactly as the original writers intended because you are trained to?

I don't know... it seems like you rely entirely on human intelligence and reason to understand God... do you believe in revelation in this day at all?

And WHF, I don't know what racerx PM'd you, but it seems he did a good job answering your question. All I can do is affirm that all people on earth are equally loved in God's eyes. There are no second-class citizens in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints. Among the church's lay clergy (or unpaid leadership) there are people of every race, every nationality. I spent two years on a proselyting mission in Madagascar. I love the Malagasy people. Are there racists in the church? Of course. Any organization with 11 million members is going to have its share of bad apples.

But the church does not have racist policies and treats all children of God equally.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 5:38 am 
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Actually, Lahi, what I'm saying is that God's Word is not obscure. God is not a failure as a communicator, as you seem to imply. It is only when people approach the text with their own agendas that all these "interpretations" (eisegesis, rather than exegesis) come about. It would seem to me, Lahi, that you actually undervalue the intellect that God gave you for the purpose of understanding his Word.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 5:52 am 
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Actually, Didy, I believe when God speaks to man it's clear and understandable.

What I don't believe is that the Bible has remained pure and unaltered throughout all the years of history. If we had the original texts from Isaiah or Jeremiah or Matthew, I believe there would be a lot less confusion.

Are you basically saying the people who don't understand the Bible are either lazy or dumb?

And you never answered my question regarding revelation today. Do you believe the heavens are closed? That God no longer speaks to man?

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 6:15 am 
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Actually, have you even studied text criticism at all, Lahi? As I have already stated in numerous threads, the overwhelming evidence of biblical manuscripts seems to suggest that such mass-scale alteration is not possible. First of all, no one at any time can possibly control all the manuscripts in existence. If, for example, someone wanted to alter a text of Matthew in the 4th century, at best they might be able to alter them in a limited region. They would not be able to effect that change in all available manuscripts all over the Mediterranean world; the sheer proliferation of the copies would make that impossible, so no, I do not believe, as you suggest, that the texts have been significantly altered.

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Furthermore, if there were elaborations made to the manuscripts, it would stand to reason that they would have ultimately caused the available texts to become so widely divergent, that none of them would be reliable. A copy of John's Gospel in Egypt would have looked radically different than a copy in Syria, or Armenia, or Rome. It is true that minute variances did appear in some later manuscript families, but far too late to effect a change of all available copies. Furthermore, these minute variations rarely present the reader with adequate reason to doubt the text, for the following reasons:
1. Such variances account for less than 1% of the entire biblical texts.
2. The vast majority of these variations can be attributed to slight copyist errors, for example, when a copyist might accidentally say "Jesus Christ" instead of "Christ Jesus".
3. There are at least two instances where long passages seem to have been added later. One is the ending of Mark 16. The other is from John 8, the story of the woman caught in adultery (where the famous "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!" passage comes from). So yes, certainly one ought to at least question such passages, but they still account for such a drastically minute portion of the whole, that they don't really diminish the overall message of Scripture, anyway.


Plus, you also have to consider that papyrus is not the sturdiest writing material around; it is easily destroyed. That, along with the persecutions of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, means that the earliest manuscripts probably did not survive. In fact, the real crux is not that we have so few manuscripts from that time, but that we have any at all.

For more information, I'd suggest you get yourself a copy of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece. This edition of the Greek New Testament has a fairly exhaustive reference of every significant textual variant from the available manuscript evidence.

Here are a few web sites about biblical manuscripts as well:

http://alpha.reltech.org/BibleMSS.html
http://debate.org.uk/topics/history/bib-qur/bibmanu.htm
http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Bible/ ... plist.html (oddly enough, an Islam web site).
http://www.carm.org/bible/textualexample.htm (I find this one useful to show how we can adequately reconstruct the original texts using available copies - with about 99.5% accuracy at that!).

This, of course, begs the question: what manuscript evidence do we have for the Book of Mormon? Certainly, gold tablets should be a bit more sturdy than papyrus, so those should have survived a couple of centuries at least.

Oh, and you want to know what I believe? I believe that no one can come to know Christ apart from the revelation of the Holy Spirit anyway. However, this does not mean I trust every single person who comes along and claims to be a prophet; the Scriptures say that we are to test them to see if they are to be trusted, and one of the tests is whether or not their word lines up with God's Word. You may think you have sound reason for trusting Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, but I believe I have sufficient reason for not relying on them, the main one being that they offer a theology that is inconsistent with biblical Christianity. The second being that, if there's any truth to the gospels at all, then there is no need to rely on Smith or Young at all. Why do I need their testimony about Jesus, when I have the testimonies of at least 7 men who knew him personally? (And "personally," not in the modern, vague religious sense, but in having lived with him as he walked on the earth).

I find it significant, for example, that your church practices a baptism supposedly received from John the Baptist, when the New Testament is very clear that Jesus' Baptism is much greater than John's (Luke 3:16, Acts 19:1-6) with John's being only a prefiguring of Jesus' (I mention this because tomorrow is the celebration of The Baptism of our Lord).

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 8:01 pm 
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I really wasn't interested in getting into a theological debate with you, Didy. I realize you are very set in your beliefs, being a minister and all. It's clear that we have very different stances on key spiritual issues, and we're not going to see eye to eye on a lot of things.

You believe the Bible as we have it is perfect and every word is exactly as the writers inscribed thousands of years ago. I disagree strongly.

You do not believe in modern-day revelation, though you seem loathe to state it that clearly. I believe we need it and that it exists.

You rely on science and intellectual might to teach you the things of God. I believe no man can truly know God's will without the personal revelation that comes through prayer.

So... I'm done. This thread started out as an honest query into the Mormon faith... I'm sure Piemax did not intend for it to turn into a Lutheran vs. Mormon debate.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 9:52 pm 
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You believe the Bible as we have it is perfect and every word is exactly as the writers inscribed thousands of years ago. I disagree strongly.

Despite the fact that I have used objective evidence (ancient manuscripts) to demonstrate that the Bible has been much more accurately transmitted than you are willing to admit?

But since this is the case, can I ask you what you're basing your conclusion on? Can you present any hard evidence to support this widescale corruption of the text that you claim? As I've already stated, with the available manuscript evidence, we can be about 99.5% certain of the text we have. It's just that this seems to be a common argument - not just one by you, but by skeptics as well - and yet the evidence seems to support a more reliable text than contradict it.

But then it begs the question: does Mormonism actually accept the Bible as God's Word at all? Apparently not.

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You do not believe in modern-day revelation, though you seem loathe to state it that clearly. I believe we need it and that it exists.

Let me tell you something, Lahi. On the night before her husband died, my mother received a vision of Jesus weeping at her bedside. She knew from this vision that Mr. Lott would die the next day. And I myself and convinced that this was a true vision, not a mere circumstantial dream, because, when I preached at his funeral, it just so happened that my text was John 11, with special emphasis on the verse, "Jesus wept." Now, my mother had not spoken about this vision with anyone except one lady she trusted very much; at the time, she did not feel anyone would understand. It was only after his funeral that she shared it with me. So don't accuse me of believing that divine revelation does not happen in this day.

What I do not believe is that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young are true prophets. I do not believe that God will reveal new "truth" that directly contradicts what he has already revealed in the Bible. If the Mormon faith as revealed by these men were not inconsistent with biblical Christianity, I'd be a bit more inclined to look at their claims. I still would not be sure that they'd have much to offer that is not already offered in the Bible.

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You rely on science and intellectual might to teach you the things of God. I believe no man can truly know God's will without the personal revelation that comes through prayer.

Funny, my atheist opponents usually accuse me of the exact opposite.

But perhaps you have forgotten what I posted a few pages back? That I have already followed the very regimen you prescribed - one of study and sincere prayer - and it led me to the Nicene Creed. I likewise believe that God grants wisdom to those who pray for it; I just believe he has shown me that the Book of Mormon is not true. Perhaps your regimen does not work with absolute certainty, in which case neither of us can be certain of our beliefs without some external evidence to point the way.

But I'll tell you what: I'll drop the issue if you will.

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My response to your question, then I am done. If you want to have the last word, fine.

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But then it begs the question: does Mormonism actually accept the Bible as God's Word at all? Apparently not.


Apparently it begs a question that has already been answered. We believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly. Again, every year the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints studies a book of scripture. Everyone. Every congregation around the world is studying the King James version of the New Testament until December. If we didn't accept the Bible as God's word, why the emphasis on it?

If you have prayed to know if the Book of Mormon is true and received the answer that it is not, then okay. That's all I ask of anyone. I have received the answer that is is the word of God and a true book, but I'm not going to judge anyone who feels different.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 11:18 pm 
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Fair enough.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 11:23 pm 
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Oh, come on! I can't believe you two are going to "agree to disagree".

Don't make me get Rose in here, you close-minded homophobe God drones!!

I do have a question for any of the Mormons here, though. I know Mormons are deeply involved in service work, be it missionary stuff, community service, or whatever. Is it a belief that these things are required to get into Heaven, or are they simply an outside showing of God's love?

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Don't make me get Rose in here, you close-minded homophobe God drones!!


Hey now, don't go invoking the ghost of Rose here... no one wants that. :)

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I do have a question for any of the Mormons here, though. I know Mormons are deeply involved in service work, be it missionary stuff, community service, or whatever. Is it a belief that these things are required to get into Heaven, or are they simply an outside showing of God's love?


Excellent question. While we do not believe doing service is technically required to be saved, we believe that serving our fellow man is a natural outgrowth of believing in Christ. It is encouraged in the church, but failure to serve is not a sin. However, not serving is often indicative of deeper spiritual issues.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 11:50 pm 
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Didymus wrote:
I do not believe that God will reveal new "truth" that directly contradicts what he has already revealed in the Bible.


despite the fact that that's exactly what the New Testament did with regard to the Hebrew scriptures?


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2007 12:20 am 
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Funny, after almost 9 years of academic study of both the Old and New Testaments, I have yet to see any such contradiction. What I see is the fulfillment of the Torah, as Christ himself declared he would.

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except that Christianity contradicts pretty much all of the Jewish Scriptures' most basic teachings about God, life, the commandments, the messiah, and practically everything else.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2007 3:32 am 
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Hey, how bout that Mormonism?! (aka toastpaint)

Whether you agree with them or not, you gotta hand it to them for putting together an organization that does what it's supposed to do much better than most Christian denominations. The Church is major in most members' lives, the mission program is huge, and there's importance placed on giving everyone the necessary info and arguments to defend their beliefs in public. Other denominations should wish they had their stuff together as much as the LDS church does.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2007 4:12 am 
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Excellent question. While we do not believe doing service is technically required to be saved, we believe that serving our fellow man is a natural outgrowth of believing in Christ. It is encouraged in the church, but failure to serve is not a sin. However, not serving is often indicative of deeper spiritual issues.

That's not a whole lot different than what I believe. We Lutherans call this application "Third Use of the Law." Basically, there's three ways in which the Law functions in life:

1. Mirror: to show us our deepest need for God's mercy. When a sinner looks at the Law, it shows him that he is not living up to God's expectations for humanity, and that, in turn, drives him to seek forgiveness from God.

2. Curb: there is innate Law (conscience, consequence, etc., sometimes called "natural law") built into people, governments, and the universe in general, and it helps to preserve order in society so that all people can enjoy some bit of peace.

3. Guide: for the people of God, it answers the question, "How then shall we live?" It instructs people to live a godly life and to serve their neighbors in grateful appreciation for God's mercy and grace.

NOTE: none of these uses in any way contributes to our redemption. If any did, it would be the first, in that it prepares the contrite heart to receive and appreciate God's gift of grace by driving it to the cross.

But Tigger is right: while we might dispute their theology, you can't fault their dedication.

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lahimatoa wrote:
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I do have a question for any of the Mormons here, though. I know Mormons are deeply involved in service work, be it missionary stuff, community service, or whatever. Is it a belief that these things are required to get into Heaven, or are they simply an outside showing of God's love?


Excellent question. While we do not believe doing service is technically required to be saved, we believe that serving our fellow man is a natural outgrowth of believing in Christ. It is encouraged in the church, but failure to serve is not a sin. However, not serving is often indicative of deeper spiritual issues.


Glad that's cleared up. I always thought of Mormons as "working their way into heaven", and if that were possible (for one to work their way into heaven), there would have been no need for Christ to have died on the cross.

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Don't misunderstand... we still believe certain things must be done before you can be saved. Baptism and continual repentance are two of these things. I personally can't stand people who say, "Well, I accepted Jesus as my Savior back in '76, so even though I'm a lying, murdering, blaspheming SOB I'll still get into heaven."

Not how it works IMO.

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The whole "working your way to heaven" thing is, like you said, clearly not true. Nothing we do gets us one step closer to heaven. Clearly, we have been commanded throughout the scriptures to repent of our sins, but the power to go through with that is 100% God's. The only thing we can do is want to repent, and God even helps us out with that through His grace and mercy, and by trying to humble us and prepare us to want to repent.

The service and missionary work is the result of the love of God, but in two ways. First, as the love of God and the peace that it brings fills our hearts, there is a desire to share that love and happiness with others through service and sharing the gospel. The second, similar to the first, is that because of our love of God, we want to obey his commandments, and He taught that trying to love and help and bless the lives of those around us is one of the most important commandments.

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racerx_is_alive wrote:
The whole "working your way to heaven" thing is, like you said, clearly not true. Nothing we do gets us one step closer to heaven. Clearly, we have been commanded throughout the scriptures to repent of our sins, but the power to go through with that is 100% God's. The only thing we can do is want to repent, and God even helps us out with that through His grace and mercy, and by trying to humble us and prepare us to want to repent.

The service and missionary work is the result of the love of God, but in two ways. First, as the love of God and the peace that it brings fills our hearts, there is a desire to share that love and happiness with others through service and sharing the gospel. The second, similar to the first, is that because of our love of God, we want to obey his commandments, and He taught that trying to love and help and bless the lives of those around us is one of the most important commandments.


Amen.


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Well, I'm glad we've cleared that up. The whole "works salvation" thing is a straw man often used to discredit the Mormon church. And now we all know better.

An analogy I like to use is this: a hammer's duty is to drive nails. However, a hammer cannot do its duty under its own power; it's an inanimate object, after all. So, in order to fulfill its duty, the Carpenter must pick it up, apply some of his own power to give it momentum, and direct its course to strike the nail properly. In the same way, human beings require the hand of God to give them power and direction to carry out their responsibilities.

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Sorry for jumping on the bandwagon kinda late here, but ed just brought this thread to my attention and I thought I should weigh in.

I was very glad to see HipHoppityFrogOfValue correct StrongRad's comment about me currently being Mormon. As has been pointed out, it's true I was raised a Latter-day Saint, but I've since left for what I believe to be greener pastures.

To those who asked to learn about Mormonism from the horse's mouth, so to speak, I can't exactly do the talking, but I can recommend some good resources. The succinct Articles of Faith have already been cited, but I'm surprised to see that Mormon.org, a well-organized presentation of the basic beliefs, hasn't been mentioned. Another great resource is a new publication from the church called True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference. It's an alphabetical topical index of Latter-day Saint doctrine that can be purchased from LDS Distribution Services for a very reasonable $1.50. You can also read it in Adobe PDF format.

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Well, I'm glad we've cleared that up. The whole "works salvation" thing is a straw man often used to discredit the Mormon church. And now we all know better.

I wouldn't be so sure of this, Did. In fact, I had an encounter with a Mormon missionary just two nights ago. I told him I am a former Latter-day Saint and he asked the obvious question of why I left the church. So I began to explain to him what I see are the differences in the LDS gospel and the Biblical gospel. I conceded to him that I do see a movement within Mormonism toward a more grace-centered gospel, to which he replied to me (with a straight face, mind you), "If there are any Mormons who believe in salvation by grace alone, they're stupid."

Now, LDS missionaries don't get a lot of training before embarking on their missions (between one and two months, and a good portion of that is language training), so I don't think this particular missionary's statement should be taken as official doctrine, but it certainly makes makes clear that some form of works-salvation is alive and well among at least a subset of Mormons. The "Salvation" entry in the aforementioned True to the Faith is also an interesting read.


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JoeyDay wrote:
Sorry for jumping on the bandwagon kinda late here, but ed just brought this thread to my attention and I thought I should weigh in.

I was very glad to see HipHoppityFrogOfValue correct StrongRad's comment about me currently being Mormon. As has been pointed out, it's true I was raised a Latter-day Saint, but I've since left for what I believe to be greener pastures.

To those who asked to learn about Mormonism from the horse's mouth, so to speak, I can't exactly do the talking, but I can recommend some good resources. The succinct Articles of Faith have already been cited, but I'm surprised to see that Mormon.org, a well-organized presentation of the basic beliefs, hasn't been mentioned. Another great resource is a new publication from the church called True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference. It's an alphabetical topical index of Latter-day Saint doctrine that can be purchased from LDS Distribution Services for a very reasonable $1.50. You can also read it in Adobe PDF format.

Didymus wrote:
Well, I'm glad we've cleared that up. The whole "works salvation" thing is a straw man often used to discredit the Mormon church. And now we all know better.

I wouldn't be so sure of this, Did. In fact, I had an encounter with a Mormon missionary just two nights ago. I told him I am a former Latter-day Saint and he asked the obvious question of why I left the church. So I began to explain to him what I see are the differences in the LDS gospel and the Biblical gospel. I conceded to him that I do see a movement within Mormonism toward a more grace-centered gospel, to which he replied to me (with a straight face, mind you), "If there are any Mormons who believe in salvation by grace alone, they're stupid."

Now, LDS missionaries don't get a lot of training before embarking on their missions (between one and two months, and a good portion of that is language training), so I don't think this particular missionary's statement should be taken as official doctrine, but it certainly makes makes clear that some form of works-salvation is alive and well among at least a subset of Mormons. The "Salvation" entry in the aforementioned True to the Faith is also an interesting read.

ZOE MY GOD!! HE DOES EXIST!!
And we were writing up a Myths and urban legends page...

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JoeyDay, thanks for your insights.

What we have here is a question of semantics. To say that we are saved by "grace alone"... I interpret that to mean we are saved regardless of what we do. We can be a lying, thieving, murdering child molester with no intent to repent or try to be a better person and we're saved anyway. Hooray!

What Mormons believe is that we cannot be saved WITHOUT grace. Without the grace of God, and the atonement of Christ, we are all damned.

But we are also required to repent. To acknowledge mistakes and work at being a better person. Will we achieve salvation through trying? Heck no. All our works put together will never ever amount to us being saved. But God requires it of us. He may require different things of different people, according to who they are and what they are capable of, but he requires us to try to be a good person.

I hope that is clear.

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Ooh, now that's different than what I understood you saying before. If you're saying that God requires our good works, then you are denying salvation by grace and are promoting the Pelagian heresy. Grace, for a clear definition of the word, is God's favor, gifting, if you will. If you have to earn it, then it's not a gift.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2007 10:18 pm 
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Choc-o-Lardiac Arrest wrote:
ZOE MY GOD!! HE DOES EXIST!!
And we were writing up a Myths and urban legends page...


No he doesn't. COLA...please tell me you haven't been taking LSD...you're surely hallucinating.

:P

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2007 10:33 pm 
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Didymus, are you claiming that repentance is unnecessary? Or are you claiming the very different idea that we have no power in and of ourselves to repent?

To claim that repentance is unnecessary is to claim that God's commandments are no more than guidelines. Advice, but not anything with consequences. All Lahi has claimed is that we need to repent to be saved. He hasn't claimed that we need to repent for God's grace to work in our life for our good. He also hasn't claimed that we need to repent on our own before God will start to bless us. He hasn't claimed that we repent with our own power. All he has claimed is that we need to repent.

When we repent truthfully, we do it with God's power. He gives us his grace and mercy which changes our heart and our desires. He gives us his forgiveness. Our only part in the process is to be willing. If I am unwilling to change, or unwilling to be humble, then I cannot be saved. God won't save us against our will.

So repentance isn't earning salvation, it's a process that God gives us the power to accomplish that makes us worthy for salvation. It's still a gift if none of the power used is our own. He just can't make us accept his gift. If we are willing to accept his gift, he will give us the power to give up our sins and make us worthy to return to where he is.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2007 11:07 pm 
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racerx_is_alive wrote:
Didymus, are you claiming that repentance is unnecessary? Or are you claiming the very different idea that we have no power in and of ourselves to repent?


I don't speak for Dids, although I'm pretty sure we're close to agreement, but the general idea is that repentance IS required, however, it's the grace of God that makes it possible. One cannot save their self. If it were possible, the sacrifices Christ made would be totally pointless.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 7:06 pm 
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Ah, but repentance is a response to grace that is already given. It is the open hand that receives the gift given, not a work that merits the gift. Repentance is nothing more or less than trusting God's mercy, and even that is a gift from God's Spirit, and not something we bring into the equation ourselves.

But here is your problem: you view the Commandments as a means to secure this life. That is your mistake. The Law offers life only to those who can keep it perfectly, not to poor, weak, miserable sinners that the entire human race has become. Or do you not know what the Scriptures say about the Law? Law brings condemnation and death, not mercy and life.

When confronted about the Law, Jesus says, "I came not to abolish the Law, but rather to fulfill it." How? By paying the price for our failure to uphold it, by doing for us - on our behalf - what we were powerless to do ourselves.

So is the Law useless to the Christian? By no means! The Law does indeed serve a function for Christians; it just so happens that its function is not to merit eternal life.

I do not remember if I wrote on this before, but if I did, I will reiterate. There are 3 things that the Law does for people:
    1. Mirror - it shows us our sins and, therefore, our need for God's mercy and forgiveness. And by tearing down our illusion of self-reliance, it drives us to the Cross.

    2. Curb - it places limits on the power of evil in the world. Through men's internal conscience and the just laws of nations, the Law prohibits gross wickedness and prevents it from doing maximum harm to citizens and society.

    3. Guide - here, the Law answers the question, "How then shall we live?" If you'll observe, in the Torah, God has ALREADY chosen the Hebrew people and redeemed them from slavery BEFORE giving them the Ten Commandments. The Law, then, for God's people, shows how to live our lives under God's caring provision. It is not as if God himself needs our good works, but our neighbors do, and just as God grants us all his benefits - material and spiritual - so he wishes that we share those benefits with others.
But notice: under NONE of these three functions is there given any promise of eternal life. Even the original Ten Commandments connected obedience to them with earthly temporal blessing, not eternal life. If anything, the only function that could even remotely connect with Salvation is the First, and that only when it drives the person to the Cross.

And, as I said before, the Christian's power to do good works comes from God anyway. We are like tools in his hands; without him to empower us and direct our ways, we would be entirely powerless. That being the case, how can anyone doing a good deed expect that the Father owes him, since it is only by God's provision that he is even able? It would be like if I gave you $1,000,000, but you claimed I owed you $10 only because you gave that small part back to me.

So, no, I do not concede that the Commandments in any fashion work for our salvation at all. Obedience to them is good and right, but not salutary. Obedience is for our fellow man, and is done in grateful thanksgiving, but cannot save us one bit.

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So repentance isn't earning salvation, it's a process that God gives us the power to accomplish that makes us worthy for salvation.

Ah, but that's your mistake. It is only Christ himself that can make us worthy of salvation, never we ourselves. When a Christian speaks of Grace, we must always remember that it takes the form of the Cross. If we are covered with Christ, then we are worthy. And if Christ makes us worthy, then that worthiness is perfect, and nothing we contribute can make it more or less.

Something else, too. Grace itself is not power. Grace itself is the forgiveness and the free gift of God. I do not deny that power for holy living flows from this Grace, but do not confuse the power with the means. Grace happens when God says, "Your sins are forgiven," and "You are my beloved child." And these happen only through the Son.

But I will add this: if someone claims to be in Christ but their life does not manifest that Third Use, then one must question whether or not they are really in Christ.

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