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Initial post: May 31, 2007 2:36:59 PM PDT
nealfrancis says:
OK, let's start with the idea of depravity which leads to the need of salvation. Calvin believed in TOTAL depravity. Dead men don't talk. We are DEAD in our sins and there's nothing we can do. We need salvation. It's God's doing. That's at the root of protestantism/evangelicalism.

Next is the Catholic view. They're a little fuzzy. We need salvation (convienently provided by them and only them. Think: cornering the market) but there are things we can do to improve our salvation and undo sins both venial and mortal. (Some of these "things" caused Luther to post his 95 theses on the Wittenberg door, but he, interestingly enough, didn't oppose the entire concept)

The Orthodox view was where I ended up before I left the faith: Men are naturally good because God made them, breathed into them etc. Sin caused a distortion but not total depravity, otherwise how could man ever approach God (bible-God). And even though they say "We know where grace is, not where it isn't", like the Catholics, to really be saved, you need them.

But what is salvation? Is it just a legal proclamation by God (and his "legal" representative, the local pastor/priest) if we accept his terms? Or is it, as I say "REAL." Does something really happen to us, change us, etc. The evangelicals of course would say yes. You will become a better person, you will be more loving, kinder, more patient. The fruits of the Spirit will be in you. Evidence you were "saved."

OK, Here's the rub. If we were Totally depraved, which whether you know it or not evangelicals, this is what you believe, how could you ever make a move toward God. Why would you want to? You should be an enemy of God. The spawn of Satan. And, oh yes, I know your bible wheels are spinning. I also know the scriptures "But God commends his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

Died for us? That's another discussion but what is the reality of how people get "saved?" You get invited to church, a revival meeting perhaps, a christian rock concert. Something is drawing you. (But wait, why would that be, you are depraved. An enemy of God) You go to the service and feel compelled to go to the altar. You repeat the words of the minister and BOOM, you're SAVED. But that not the end of the story. There should be evidence. You should be a better person.

OK, here's the real rub. What if a person, who never accepted salvation, demonstrated the fruits of the Spirit as listed by Paul? That is, they are kind, patient, good, etc. (And remember the Trinitarian gift of Constantine's council, THE SPIRIT IS GOD) Is that just a trick of the devil? A mirage? There are great ontological problems if you go down that path. A true patience and a false patience? I don't think so. Truth that's true is truth.

We know there are people who demonstrate these attributes that are not Christian which means they are demonstrating God which means they have the evidence of salvation. That is, if salvation is real. If it really affects you.

If you say, Oh no, they haven't repeated the mantra with the guy at the altar. If that is the case, then it's just a legal trick of God. Salvation doesn't mean anything in the here and now. I know you don't want to say that.

And why is it that people who have said the salvation mantra continue to sin? Aren't they a new creation? It seems to me that we're all in the same boat. We all try to be good but we fall short.

People inside of Christianity are good for several reasons: Fear of punishment, hoping to please God, imitating Christ, following the dictates of scripture, etc.

What motivation do people have for being good that aren't Christian? Goodness itself! Trust me, that's a much better motive therefore Lao Tzu says "Righteous activity is not righteous!" What that means is that Atheists who demonstrate goodness are doing it from a more pure motivation than Christians. They have no eternal reward or eternal punishment driving them.

So back to the new creation thing. If you are a truly new, ontological being then God didn't save YOU. He created a new you. But there you go sinning again. The same sins you were doing before there was a new you. Did the old you somehow communicate with the new You?

Nothing happened. Not really. It's psychological. Look at the evidence. There are good people and bad people inside and outside of the church. For that matter, there's a good person and bad person inside of all of us.

Only you have the power to change yourself! That's why even if you profess salvation, you have to work really hard to overcome addiction, anger, hatred, lust, hurt, etc. I was a pastor, I know this is true. So YOU ARE NO DIFFERENT FROM ANYONE ELSE!! WE ALL MUST SAVE OURSELVES!

In the church you have a bunch of people that believe they are different. Believe that something has happened to them. It's easy to be good inside those four walls. The reality of life proves too much for most, however, and they succomb to their humanity.

Not a bad place to be really. Humans have great potential.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 6, 2007 8:29:26 PM PDT
zippitty says:
your comments fall in line with my theory that there are basically 3 types of people.
1. Those that do right because it is the right thing to do.
2. Those that do right for fear of being caught (by the law, God, their spouse, etc.)
3. Those that just don't care.

All of these people may be religous or atheists and all in between.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 5, 2007 3:19:58 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 5, 2007 3:20:45 PM PDT
Mrs. M says:
I am just catching up as you can see from the date but this paragraph from Neal Francis :

What motivation do people have for being good that aren't Christian? Goodness itself! Trust me, that's a much better motive therefore Lao Tzu says "Righteous activity is not righteous!" What that means is that Atheists who demonstrate goodness are doing it from a more pure motivation than Christians. They have no eternal reward or eternal punishment driving them.

Really struck me. There is so much truth in it. Agnostics and atheists theories are (if I am wrong don't jump me LOL) is they will do what is right in this world, in the here and now. I am a Christian and that won't change, but again I do not see a loving,just God punishing them for something they just do not believe. While I myself appreciate and thank Jesus for his sacrifice does not mean that everyone else has to jump on the band-wagon. My thoughts are a loving,compassionate,just God who is so much more than myself would not punish people for goodness....If someone does something especially kind for me and I think of ways to hurt that person...why would I do that? I wouldn't and neither would a great God do that.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 24, 2007 5:09:33 PM PDT
B. Hipp says:
I don't think you are right at all on the Catholic Church's view of salvation. Read the Vatican II council's document Nostra Aetate. It says that we don't judge, only God, and we cannot condemn those of other religions (Or non-religous). The Catholic Catechism says that final judgement comes down to what Jesus says, "Whatever you do to the least of my brothers you do to me." So the just moral athiest is definitely more likely to be saved than an immoral catholic.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 13, 2007 9:40:21 PM PDT
Jay Nolan says:
Wow. I would have to say that I respectfully, yet strongly, disagree with many of your points. i find it difficult to believe you were a pastor, but I will have to accept your word. Yes, we were made in God's image. Yes, we have fallen short of His glory. God is perfect and we are not. That does not make us His enemy. Not by His choosing. He choose to love us before we were even formed. If you choose to be His enemy, that is your choice. There is a reason Jesus uses the image of a loving parent to describe the Father. I was not a perfect child, but that did not make me an enemy of my parents (even though they were not perfect).
The "change" that you refered to means the spirit & soul of a person. Your hair doesn't change colors because of it. You don't grow an extra ear. The "change" is between you and God. You exhibit the "signs of the Spirit" more than you used to. It is not a comparison with your neighbor.
If someone goes to a Christian rock concert, and finds themselves at the front of the stage regurgitating what someone else is saying does not make that person saved. They have to mean it. Only they and God can know if they have truly done that. Once a person becomes a Christian, they don't become perfect, but they should want to strive to be more like Christ.
Your assumption that people (Christians) only do what is right for eternal reward or eternal punishment is flat out wrong. While I can not speak for everyone either, I can tell you that neither drives me. After all the things that I have done wrong both before and after I became a Christian, to know that God still loves me is amazing. All I want to do is love Him back. Not to earn favor, and not because I am afraid of what will happen or won't happen if I don't.
How can a person who is an athiest know if what they are doing is good or not? Where does this goodness idea come from? Don't say society. Society changes what they think is right & wrong all the time. I think 2007 in America is a little different than 1943 Germany. Those societies had very different ideas of right and wrong. If you want to argue that everyone knows what is right and wrong, you have not met a sociopath before. And if everyone has their own right and wrong, and it is dependent on the individual, then everyone would always be right. Anyone can find justification for their actions if they only have to justify it to themselves.
In Heaven, only the people who have choosen to be there will be there. God is loving and awesome. He will not force someone who was "good" on earth, yet rejected Him, to spend eternity with Him. That would be cruel and unusual. God does not force Himself on anyone who does not want to have Him around.
As far as Jesus saving us goes, we sinned. We are imperfect. Sin has stained us. God is perfect and holy. He can not be surrounded by imperfection. We have no way of removing that stain and the only punishment for sin is death. We either spend eternity away from God or accept the gift from the only person (who also happens to be God)who ever lived a perfect life and thus was able to accept the punishment for our sins (sins in our past, present, and our future).
I hope this helps to clear up some of the misconceptions posted in this discussion. May your choices now be magnified in the time to come. Take care.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 2, 2009 5:14:32 PM PDT
Tinker says:
Mrs. M, you are a sweet lady and I appreciate the good intentions toward Agnostics and atheists that doesn't happen too often since I became one a few years ago.

I am confused, though, I don't understand you seem to think that alot of the verses in the bible about going to Hell and not having eternal life for not believing in God don't count;why do you suppose they are there?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 2, 2009 5:44:15 PM PDT
Tinker says:
Jay, you have got to be kidding you are giving a sermon to a man that was a pastor; just what do you think you said that he didn't already know?

Posted on Aug 27, 2009 10:13:50 PM PDT
HDSL says:
And a Christian can't do good for nothing else than fearing eternal punishment? A Christian is as capable of doing good for goodness' sake as any Atheist. Even more so, a true Christian does good for his love of that which is good; he seeks God not because of fear, but because of love for that which is good.

Posted on Jun 21, 2010 10:13:31 PM PDT
There is one important point the original poster has both identified and yet completely misunderstood. You asked "how could you ever make a move toward God. Why would you want to?". And that is exactly the point. YOU don't move towards God, GOD moves toward you. We never seek God of our own accord, God must seek us out first.

As for seeing a "change" post-salvation, you've obviously never met a Christian who was a criminal, alcoholic, drug addict, etc. who has had their life completely changed by God. The before-and-after difference in some of these people is astonishing. For many Christians who grew up in the Church, they may not appear to be much different to a casual observer, but on the inside, a true Christian is changed dramatically.

One of the assumptions you make, as do many evangelicals unfortunately, is that the conversion experience is the beginning and end of the Christian life. But salvation is not a magic spell that reforms you overnight. In reality, it is merely the beginning of a long and difficult journey. When you are, "born again" you are essentially a baby, and unfortunately many Christians never get to the "toddler" phase. Becoming a Christian is a process that begins with a decision, not an event that ends with one.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 30, 2012 9:34:21 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 30, 2012 9:35:54 AM PST
Nona Nonyme says:
Why do you say "difficult journey" ? It seems difficult before the decision, but once the decision is seriously made, the difficulty vanishes, have you ever noticed that ? "My yoke is light" said Jesus. It is not heavy nor difficult, except if you take your burden back. Our task is only to focus our attention on Him, and He does the work for us.
HE makes us hate sin and stay away from it. It is just amazing how you change without doing anything except keep your eyes on Him.
It's effortless. You don't need trying and trying. For example, stop smoking is so easy when you refer to Him. And for doing something good, you just need to see Him doing that thing through you, and it comes automatically. Yes, His yoke is light. And LIGHT.
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Initial post:  May 31, 2007
Latest post:  Dec 30, 2012

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Atheist Universe: Why God Didn't Have A Thing To Do With It by David Mills (Paperback - April 6, 2003)
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