Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Understanding a Liturgical Sense of Salvation

posted by Scot McKnight

If you have three minutes, I’d appreciate your watching this video and recording your response to this liturgical framing of what it means to say “I’m saved.” Do you agree or disagree?



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Ted M. Gossard

posted December 2, 2009 at 5:02 am


I absolutely have nothing short of love for this video and what this person of faith is saying. It is strong words needed by many of us evangelicals, without us having to sacrifice the assurance of the living hope we have in Jesus, both for the present and the world to come.



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Lee Corder

posted December 2, 2009 at 6:39 am


Beautiful and moving, I was gratefully reminded of the moving reality of salvation expressed in varied traditions, a privilege I get to observe often working internationally. But I was also left with a lingering uncertainty, a doubt about the sufficiency of Jesus Christ in my life. For Paul in Philippians the “work out” of salvation is not a human centered initiative but a joyful outworking of the salvation that is given freely and by grace alone. Thanks be to you Lord Jesus Christ, that my hope remains in you alone and that my living out of that promise and hope is done from grace to grace.I am reminded of watching the dutiful devotion at lovely churches in eastern Europe where the faithful seeking salvation walk right past the central icon of Jesus to pay homage and veneration to the relics of some long dead saint of the church praying that such veneration will redound to their blessing. Lord Jesus, so too do I walk by you, working out my own salvation strategies. Lord lead us instead to the glorious grace that is from you from first to last. May we learn from one another with humility. May we honor and glory in the variety of traditions expressing the gospel of Jesus. But may we all come to the glorious freedom and understanding that our salvation rests in him alone. And may we be led to acts of devotion and service from a heart of gratitude and thanksgiving with a certainty that comes from him in whom we trust.



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Gary Feister

posted December 2, 2009 at 6:55 am


I absolutely agree. Wonderful video. Thanks!



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andrewbourne

posted December 2, 2009 at 7:22 am


This is true Evangelism. I am blown away by the correlation by text and photo. This is salvation to know God`s love. if there is a text that I think that be linked to this video it would be 1 John



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k small

posted December 2, 2009 at 8:20 am


She makes salvation living and future, which is something beyond the final, past event implied in the phrase, “I’m saved.” She says “with the assurance that I will be saved at that great last day…” and “my salvation is being worked out…”
This is a helpful summary of Paul’s theology. Thanks to the Orthodox for unapologetically mixing art, Scripture, and liturgy into a full view of God’s salvation.



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Paul

posted December 2, 2009 at 8:23 am


This video is very compelling, with a very clear message. The wide picture of salvation is very helpful. The emphasis on personal response to God’s grace is very challenging. I wish the speaker had given more emphasis to the grace of God at work in us, on which I depend for new life, as John does – “Those who have been born of God do not sin, because God’s seed abides in them; they cannot sin, because they have been born of God.” (1 Jn. 3:9). There is too my “I” in the message. Otherwise, this is a very good balance to the typical evangelical one-sidedness to the gospel.



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scott eaton

posted December 2, 2009 at 9:02 am


Like the others, I thought the video was well done and very beautiful.
But…
I’d like to raise some questions about what was said. How do I know I have cooperated enough with the grace of God? How do I know that my actions were sufficient enough to prove my salvation? This is the kind of thing that led Martin Luther to despair.
If you really take what was said seriously, then salvation is based upon the grace of God AND what I do. Is this really good news? I for one frequently run out of oil in my lamp, but fortunately I have a Savior whose lamp never flickers. This is why I cling to Him.
Yes, Jesus calls us to follow Him, love one another, and serve Him by serving others. But what happens when I fail to do so? And who of us doesn’t fail to do so? I need more than my own righteousness and good works. I need His righteousness and good works FOR me. Grace has to be more for me than just the thing that kick started my life of good works. Grace and the work of Christ at the cross has to be EVERYTHING for me.
“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean of Jesus’ name. On Christ, the solid Rock I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.”
Here I stand for I can do no other.



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Andre

posted December 2, 2009 at 9:33 am


Powerful and refreshing image of salvation for a post-religious world. It speaks to the Biblical teaching of working out one’s salvation Phil 2:12 It is the paradox of complete and being fulfilled right which can be engaging in the current cultural landscape. It steps beyond the notion of salvation of personal ticket punching for eternity and leans towards the redemption of all creation in the kingdom of God. It is both personal and corporate. Very intriguing and accessible way to communicate the power of God’s grace and our potential response to it.



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dopderbeck

posted December 2, 2009 at 9:33 am


It is a beautiful video. I find myself very drawn at this time in my life to this sort of understanding of salvation.
Yet, as Pee Wee Herman would say, here is my big but:
The central theological term in the video’s narrative is “cooperate.” Do we cooperate with God’s grace in effectuating our salvation? This is the most basic dividing line between the Reformed understanding of justification and the Orthodox as well as Catholic understandings: monergism vs. synergism. Even if “salvation” is more than “justification,” the question of “cooperation” is the theological line in the sand, isn’t it?
So what I don’t like about a video like this is that it subtly forced me to choose between apparently irreconcilable poles — monergism and synergism — and the wrong choice has dire consequences for the soul.



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Rick

posted December 2, 2009 at 9:44 am


Dopderbeck-
Do we “cooperate” when we choose to believe (for example, in the Arminian sense)?
Where does free will begin and end?



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Michael Thomson

posted December 2, 2009 at 9:48 am


I like it quite a bit. The question of “assurance” is not so much in question here as offering more than lip service to James “Faith without works is dead.” It’s a more robust and theological grounded view of salvation than is often trumpeted in evangelical circles where grace is a prelude to ME! … and not to humility, gratitude, and joyous response. What say you Mr. McKnight, writer of a Commentary on James (forthcoming)…?



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Ted M. Gossard

posted December 2, 2009 at 9:58 am


I had a good comment in my eyes and failed to get it copied, which usually I have no problem doing anymore.
I do think this speaks a word that we evangelicals need to hear; I’m not saying we should embrace the full orthodox answer to this question.
Yes, we stand by faith on the grace given to us in Christ. But we’re indeed to work out the salvation that is ours in Christ with fear and trembling. If we don’t, that calls into question the assurance of salvation we profess. As Peter says, we’re to make every effort to confirm our calling and election.



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Scot McKnight

posted December 2, 2009 at 9:59 am


Let me suggest that this video can be seen to promote a form of synergism and cooperation; not necessary but it can suggest this.
So, I propose that the word “trust” must be radically distinguished from “cooperate.” We don’t cooperate; we trust. Yes, we must respond and genuine faith is a working faith (as in James). But, we bring nothing to the table when it comes to redemption. We sit at the table and are given the graces of bread and wine.
What do you think?



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Keith Cummings

posted December 2, 2009 at 9:59 am


I thought the video was excellent. If I were to nitpick, then I’d have to say that the speaker focused to much on individualism over community and works over grace. But, as I said, this is a nitpick. It was very good overall.



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Jed in NorCal

posted December 2, 2009 at 10:14 am


I was all set to like this, since as a Lutheran I come from a liturgical, sacramental background. But when I watched it, I had the same hangups as the others: I got stuck on the synergistic messages. I sometimes use the “I got saved 2000 years ago” statement myself, but when it went on from there to say that I am getting saved THROUGH my decisions/actions, it started to mix up justification with sanctification.
I was saved 2000 years ago by Jesus perfect life and atoning death. I was saved through baptism, the gift of washing through the word that was given to me when I was an infant. I am saved through hearing God’s Word and receiving Jesus body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. Salvation and justification are passive, gifts from God. Anything I do is a response to faith.
Not all of us who are used to this type of liturgical worship style will accept the message on this video.



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+ Alan

posted December 2, 2009 at 10:17 am


One thing I’d say is that your title is a bit off. This is not a general “liturgical” or even a generally “sacramental” view of salvation. It is an Orthodox way of looking at salvation. I certainly agree with the talk of cooperation – cooperation with Grace, of the will, etc., which we can’t even do without Grace. If we are free, cooperation is necessary, but that doesn’t make us our own saviors. Certainly not room to fully flesh out all the theology baked into that here.
I think if this were a Catholic presentation, it would sound a bit different. The Sacrament of Baptism, for instance, would likely be more highlighted as a means of God imparted and beginning to infuse His Grace on/in us. We then “are saved” in that we have God’s Spirit living in us, now working to change us into His Image. The other Sacraments are also means used by God to pour more of His Self into us – continuing to “save” us. They aren’t the only means, but they’re primary in our way of looking at things. It is all, though, by His Grace. We don’t initiate anything with God. We respond. Peace and Happy Advent.



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Jamie Arpin-Ricci

posted December 2, 2009 at 10:23 am


A beautiful and challenging summary. This is why I often turn to Orthodox writing when in need to clarity. I will share this with many.
Of course, what is being said still needs much unpacking. While I won’t go into every point, let me use one point as an example. When it is said “filled through the Eucharist”, much needs to be asked and explored. Of course, even then the differences of understanding, while important, are not always insurmountable.
While it raises important question about “participating”, I don’t it necessarily has to land there. That dynamic tension has always been in place around this issue (thus this very conversation having been repeated for centuries). In the end, I think we have much to learn, including some correctives in our own extremes in response to others.
Peace,
Jamie
Peace,
Jamie



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alan

posted December 2, 2009 at 10:39 am


Is salvation by grace through faith given apart form anything we do, or is salvation by grace through faith a thing that requires us to wrestle and work it out in order for it to be effectual? Yes! Is faith an intellectual and mental surrender to the truth of the Gospel, or is it a radical act of trust that can only be named as it is lived? Yes! I think the truth is not in the balance between the view of this video and the reformed view. I think it is in the tension between them. That tension seems to exist in the Scriptures, which of course is why the debate lives on. Post-enlightenment, rationalists who like things scientifically defined beyond challenge will have a hard time with this. I know. I am one.



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Rick

posted December 2, 2009 at 10:42 am


It was hearing Dr. Nassif talk about Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism when I first was aware that there were differences in how “salvation” was defined by the two groups.
Of course the Orthodox view of that does not hold to the Western judicial overtones (note that the video mention Christ suffering, but not sacrificing). Nor do the Orthodox view the depth of sin (Original sin, total depravity, etc…) in the same way, so perspectives are different coming into this discussion.
I recommend a helpful podcast series offered at the Orthodox based Ancient Faith Radio. Fr. Damick’s “Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy” series examines the differing views of Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, and Protestantism. Good stuff.
I happened to hear one of them yesterday and he does not shy aware from synergism. However, interestingly enough, he does discuss the common ground between Orthodoxy and Wesleyan theology, especially in terms of free will and responding to grace.
If she’s around today, would like to hear Dana’s view on this.



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ChrisB

posted December 2, 2009 at 10:43 am


A good statement of (at least as I understand it) Roman Catholic teaching on salvation.
Of course, it’s unbiblical. “I will be saved, God have mercy, if I cooperate with the grace I have been given.”
That’s called works salvation (whether Catholics like it or not).
I always enjoy the digs at people with the gall to believe they have been saved — past tense — and can now be certain of their eternal destiny. Heaven forbid that any Christian should take the words of Paul, John, or even Jesus at face value and believe that eternal life is a gift we can hold rather than a goal to reach for.



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RJS

posted December 2, 2009 at 11:16 am


Chris B – lets take the words of Paul in 2 Tim 4.

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day?and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

While it is certainly true that Paul was saved by the grace of God – isn’t there an implication here that he has kept the faith – not a foregone conclusion – and therefore there is in store a crown of righteousness? He certainly seems to think that he had to keep the faith. How is this any different?



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Wonders for Oyarsa

posted December 2, 2009 at 11:22 am


“That’s called works salvation (whether Catholics like it or not).”
No, it’s not. It’s basic biblical theology. That evangelicals conflate mere cooperation with the grace of God with medieval-style works righteousness and treasury of merit only serves to trivialize the real problems that warranted the reformation.



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Henry Zonio

posted December 2, 2009 at 11:25 am


Wow! A simple yet powerful video. As with others, I resonated with much of what was said. I think in evangelical Christianity we inadvertently downplay the amazing scope of what Christ accomplished on the cross. In one sense, yes, I was saved 2000 years ago. My salvation was purchased; Christ defeated sin and death for all time. A great summary of Christus Victor. In evangelicalism we put all our eggs into substitutionary atonement and the work of the individual in submitting to God’s grace, there is the unintended consequence of creating Christians who use salvation as “fire insurance.” To steal a metaphor from A Community Called Atonement, the view of atonement in this video becomes another golf club in my “atonement bag.”
Thanks for bringing attention to this video. It makes me wonder at how to include this view of salvation when teaching children about faith.



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David B. Johnson

posted December 2, 2009 at 11:50 am


This video was like a salve upon soul because of its depth and faithfulness to all of Scripture. The video is gloriously saturated with reference to the text. I appreciate Scot’s distinction between cooperation and trust. The way the Christian life is lived is through faith. We are converted to Christ to through faith and we grow into Christ through faith. I’m not sure the video contradicts that sentiment. However, I couldn’t help but be saddened by the video because so many evangelicals (and most of my church) would have been turned off by things like the garb worn by the Orthodox Priests in the video and words like Eucharist. This evangelical arrogance would hinder them from seeing the deep Biblical theology in the video.



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John W Frye

posted December 2, 2009 at 12:18 pm


Pardon the analogy, but popular evangelicalism’s view of decisional salvation is “Slam, bam, thank you, m’am.” It does not have “teeth” for persevering in the faith as was observed by RJS’s reference to Paul who “kept the faith.” For example, some guy “prays the prayer” and then is told based upon that prayer that he is absolutely e-t-e-r-n-a-l-l-y SECURE. Where is Jesus? He’s in my heart. You’re saved, brother! No need of the church, no need of the Bible, no need of anything…he IS going to glory by the amazing sheer grace of God. Even if he lives a horribly sinful life, he’ll still be saved “as though by fire” (such a perversion of the 1 Corinthians 3:15 text). Then when a video like this beautiful one is played, the detractors get on their Reformation high horse. They have no theology at all for the NECESSITY of godly living. None. If I’m saved at the point of praying the prayer, and told I am eternally secure from THAT MOMENT on, who gives a rip about godliness and persevering? That’s hard. That’s discipleship stuff, and means a dread cooperation with God that allegedly denies God’s sovereign grace. That’s stuff that Reformed types just can’t stomach. Oh, as an evangelical pastor I really liked the “liturgical’ “Catholic” “Orthodox” video.



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Judy Diehl

posted December 2, 2009 at 12:21 pm


Good comments. It is a video that stimulates our thoughts. As evangelicals, we overlook differences in definitions that plague our understanding of huge theological issues. What is salvation? Further, what is justification and sanctification (Paul’s words, not mine)? Is justification gracious salvation given, and sanctification the living our of that grace? Douglas Moo has wrestled with this as well as others. There is a great book that presents five views of salvation, all options we as evangelicals and ministers should consider. If I could remember the name and author, I would tell you, but I don’t –



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Dana Ames

posted December 2, 2009 at 12:53 pm


I’ve seen the video before, and I like it. My only quibble is that it does not define “salvation”. The Orthodox definition is a bit different. It is about “eternal destiny”, but it’s not about “heaven” or simply life that stretches beyond our notions of time.
It is union with God. Not in a way that makes us part of the Borg, but that fulfills what God meant for humanity as a whole to be, and for each person as a distinct human being to be. It is not the “beatific vision”, because there is a sense that there will be things for us to do as inhabitants of the restored creation, but no speculation about what exactly that will look like (because the bible doesn’t go there). With his incarnation and all that followed, Jesus made it possible in the past. We are participating in it, in a limited but real way, now. Its fullness is future.
Orthodoxy is very much concerned with sin, but not with legalities. The sufficiency of Jesus lies in the Christus Victor view. Since death has been destroyed, what exactly do we have to fear? It is fear of death that engenders sin (Heb 2.14-15). Jesus cut that link forever. The cross -proof of God’s love and forgiveness- and the resurrection are central, but the resurrection is more central… With Christus Victor, I have trouble finding any area of life where Jesus is not sufficient.
We know our actions are sufficient when they are done from, and in, love like God’s. Of course, in another sense they can never be sufficient. But worrying about “sufficiency” misses the point. Kallistos Ware wrote: “To keep us in simplicity, God may hide our spiritual progress from us, and it is not for us to measure ourselves.” As a recovering perfectionist, I have found so much freedom in that! *Of course* all that God did for us is sufficient. The point, from *our* side, is faithfulness. Of course we need his help, his Spirit, his very life, to be faithful.
Dallas Willard says something like, “God will certainly let into heaven those who, in his considered judgment, can stand to be there.” God does not force us to love him. It’s not about our cooperation “effectuating” anything. It’s not a grace vs works thing at all, because Grace is not seen as being something “separate” from God. It’s about entering into what God, through Jesus and in by bestowing the Holy Spirit, has opened up.
Yes, there are Orthodox who need to be evangelized. Thinking Orthodox people all over the world know this, and it is painful and the topic of much discussion. One of the things that attracted me to Orthodoxy was the messiness and the humanity of it.
Dana



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ChrisB

posted December 2, 2009 at 1:03 pm


RJS, you could interpret that passage that way, but not without assuming some things — such as what a “crown of righteousness” entails.
If anything, though, I’d say the picture he paints is that those who “long for his appearing” get the crown.
But you can also read that as saying “my race is run, now I will go to my reward” without him having earned anything.
John Frye, the fact that some have treated the “sinner’s prayer” as magic words that grant you a get-out-of-hell-free card doesn’t mean that more thoughtful evangelicals don’t teach that saving faith will produce works.
“They have no theology at all for the NECESSITY of godly living.”
One does not have to believe in some kind of works-salvation to believe in the necessity of godly living. Even thoughtful Catholics slap that charge down.



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RJS

posted December 2, 2009 at 1:08 pm


Chris B – the comment on having run the good race isn’t the point except in the context of the next statement “I have kept the faith.” It seems to me that the fact that Paul mentions keeping the faith is the significant part – he has kept the faith. Would he still be “saved” had he not kept the faith?



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Your Name

posted December 2, 2009 at 1:17 pm


What I like: the past, present and future components. And that the “past” component looks back not to a “decision” I made but to the definitive act of Christ on the cross.
My small adjustment: I would speak of trust in or faith in Christ as opposed to cooperating with Christ. And of my seeking to follow in faith, or to obey Christ. An emphasis on my response to the initiating work of God in Christ. And I would call myself and others to confidence in the sufficiency of Christ’s finished work, and my lifestyle of following as a life motivated by love and gratitude, rather than an effort to secure or shore up my salvation.
But I respond more warmly to this, even if it be an imperfect expression (and why shouldn’t it be, just like any other) than I would respond to a decision-based theology that calls on me to “get myself saved”.



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Rick in Texas

posted December 2, 2009 at 1:19 pm


That was me at #30…



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John W Frye

posted December 2, 2009 at 1:31 pm


ChrisB (#28),
I believe that you are a thoughtful evangelical. I like the idea that saving faith *will* produce good works, i.e., a godly life. So the hypothetical guy who prayed the prayer and does not live a godly life, lied at the time of his “conversion.” Well, then, why was he granted the absolute assurance of salvation? That, too, would be a lie. Yet all these kinds of things are said under the guise of legitimate American-style evangelism. Right?
What place does the human will of the *genuine” convert have in demonstrating saving faith?



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Randy

posted December 2, 2009 at 3:15 pm


In response to David (#9) and Scot (#13):
I am not sophisticated in theological terms, so I might be a bit beyond the pale here, but what I see here is a presentation of a way that while Christians are saved by grace, each “works out their salvation” short of death in particular ways. In Reformed theology, these particular ways are not unimportant; each is a piece of God’s working out of his salvation plan. Thus while these works we do are not necessary for salvation, they are even more than mere fruit (although that is not trivial), they are also expressions of the Holy Spirit in us that are to be celebrated joyfully.
I would welcome further explanation of the difference between Evangelical and Orthodox ?defninitions? of salvation.
Peace,
Randy Gabrielse



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Bill

posted December 2, 2009 at 3:18 pm


I’ll tell you what I think, just as soon as the tears stop…



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Dana Ames

posted December 2, 2009 at 3:46 pm


Randy,
see my comment #27 above.
Dana



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ChrisB

posted December 2, 2009 at 3:53 pm


RJS, what does it mean to “keep the faith?” I’m not trying to be obtuse, really. My point is that your interpretation (and probably mine) requires understanding the words in the “correct” way.
John Frye, I’m not sure I’d say “lied,” but anyway ….
“why was he granted the absolute assurance of salvation?”
Many treat a “sinner’s payer” as magic words, but most know that not everyone who utters the magic words is saved. People tend to point to 1John and James as offering ways to test yourself.
“What place does the human will of the *genuine” convert have in demonstrating saving faith?”
I have no idea. This is where I confess to being caught somewhere between Calvinism and … well, not-Calvinism (and not Arminianism). But I think it’s safe to say that the saved person’s will, though still flawed, is transformed so as to want the right things.



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Tim

posted December 2, 2009 at 4:12 pm


I like the 3 tenses of salvation: past, present, and future.
I don’t like the cooperation or synergy aspect.
I am allergic to (semi-) Pelagianism.
I believe in “decision theology” where God is the Subject of the sentence and we are the direct object, the ones being saved. The Shepherd finds us. The Housekeeper finds us. The Father goes out to meet us, both the prodigal and the self-righteous.



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scott eaton

posted December 2, 2009 at 4:20 pm


John Frye #32,
I agree with ChrisB. The secenario you are advocating would be wrong. But I think you are painting with too broad a brush. No one has been talking about the “just say this prayer and you’re saved” kind of evangelical nonsense. You are the one that brought that up. But making my cooperation with grace the basis of my salvation is an unstable foundation to build upon. Christ and Christ alone must be the basis and ground for my salvation. As Scot said, earlier, I bring nothing to the table as it relates to my redeemption. I’m not sure how the quality of my cooperation translates into good news.



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dopderbeck

posted December 2, 2009 at 4:20 pm


Scot (#13) — yes, I think that’s right: “we don’t cooperate, we trust.” And I would add: “God, and God alone, saves.” So, where Catholic and Orthodox theology lean towards synergism, I have to demur, even though I think their respective systems at least in official form are much more sophisticated than mere “works righteousness” (I will not presume to declare anathema on Catholics or the Orthodox).
I think one of the buttons this video pushes for many of us who find the “four spiritual laws” approach to salvation lacking is nature and ground of spiritual assurance. In my experience, the “four spiritual laws” approach was offered as a way to “know you are saved.” In fact, the certainty of one’s own salvation was considered to be of utmost importance. Filling out a decision card with a time and date of conversion provided some objective ground of certainty that one is truly saved.
The problem is that this kind of certainty turns out to be a Chimera. It isn’t really objective, because it is premised on a subjective, internal experience of conversion. A thoughtful, introspective person can never really “know” that this inner experience was sufficient. Such a person (and I am one!) would end up filling out many, many decision cards as the internal experience waxed and waned. Moreover, as others have noted, the scriptures seem to place far more emphasis — almost all their emphasis — on ongoing character formation rather than conversion experiences.
What draws me to a more liturgical understanding of how salvation is mediated to us is that it removes the stress on certainty while at the same time offering an objective basis for assurance that seems far richer than the decision card. Feeling uncertain at times about one’s salvation is not necessarily a devastating problem, but rather is a normal part of the pilgrimage of faith. At the same time, it’s possible to participate in sacramental rituals that are external to one’s own inner life and that objectively indicate that one is a member of the redeemed community. Of course, even in sacramental systems, the sacrament is meaningless without inner commitment, but nevertheless, participation in the sacrament can serve as assurance that the inner commitment exists even if the emotional compass is pointing in other directions at times.
Ultimately, then, I’m afraid that low-church evangelicalism, in an effort to provide objective certainty of salvation, effectively deprives many people of the more nuanced assurance of salvation that a liturgical / sacramental system can afford. Yet I’m still a low church evangelical right now. Go figure!



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Matt Jenson

posted December 2, 2009 at 4:39 pm


I like the three tenses quite a bit. That offers a maximalist, and biblical approach to salvation. I think the way it’s articulated is deeply problematic. Good start with the ‘saved 2000 years ago’ line. But then there’s little sense of the relevance of our union with Christ by the Spirit for life now. So salvation present looks like bare imitation (though this would be sacramentally qualified, surely, in light of eucharistic participation). Imitation flows from and is closely knit with union through the NT. The polemic has some helpful reminders, but as an account of the NT’s witness to our hope in Christ it is lopsided.



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Richard

posted December 2, 2009 at 4:56 pm


Does synergy become more palatable if we understand it as being in response to what God has done? I don’t think that the Orthodox would argue with God being the initiator at all but isn’t part of our salvation being made fully human and isn’t being fully human defined in part as being godly stewards reigning over creation as God intended us to from the beginning? Isn’t that synergy even if it’s him choosing to work through us in restoring creation (with he himself being the initiator and sustainer of the work but us still having a part to play). If there is no synergy whatsoever, what do we make of calls for justice and peacemaking in the Scriptures, OT and NT? What do we do with verses like 2 Peter 2:11-12 that call us to live holy and godly lives as we look forward to the day of God and speed its coming?
Is it possible that our qualms/reservations regarding synergy are an evangelical reaction to the cross/resurrection-less social gospel we saw some advocate for in the last century?



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RJS

posted December 2, 2009 at 4:57 pm


Chris B,
You are right that we have to interpret the words – and I don’t want to over step what you’ve said. I get the feeling I sometimes force what I think you are saying on what you are really saying. I too find myself trapped somewhere between Calvinism and not Calvinism – and not Augustinianism.
dopderbeck puts into words much better than I could the essence of some of my experience. While not quite so introspective, I didn’t fill out many cards – but there were many instances of thinking that I didn’t feel anything “new” so it must not have taken, or I didn’t really mean it.
While not comfortable with every last piece of the video, I find it reflective of much of my thinking at this time. And ultimately for me I cannot point to some specific conversion experience, but to a pilgrimage and a conscious decision to “keep the faith” and run the race – to follow.



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RJS

posted December 2, 2009 at 5:01 pm


Oh, and I don’t think that it is a liturgical sense of salvation, but an ecclesial sense of salvation. The liturgy isn’t the active agent, but joining into the church past, present, and future – this is an the liturgy is a mere piece of a far greater reality.



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Randy

posted December 2, 2009 at 8:29 pm


David D. wrote
“Ultimately, then, I’m afraid that low-church evangelicalism, in an effort to provide objective certainty of salvation, effectively deprives many people of the more nuanced assurance of salvation that a liturgical / sacramental system can afford. Yet I’m still a low church evangelical right now. Go figure!”
I believe David’s comment #39 comes close to an item in my previous post #33. The same aspect of low church evangelicalism that David mentions here also keeps many people from truly enjoying their lives in Christ as fulfilling part of his new creation. This is why I love the TNIV translation of 2 Cor. 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” This is a hint that we ought to go forth with positive joyfulness, rather than with worried hearts. This is what I found moving and helpful in the video. Thank you David for pushing me towards expression of that.
Peace,
Randy



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Richard W. Wilson

posted December 3, 2009 at 2:34 am


OK, I admit it, I’m tired of theologizing faith into an abstract theological realm of pure truth expressed precisely as the best if not the only way of codifying divine realities. Uh, what do I mean to say here, well, along the lines dopderbeck wrote on December 2, 2009 4:20 PM when he said: Scot (#13) — yes, I think that’s right: “we don’t cooperate, we trust.” And I would add: “God, and God alone, saves.” OK, so let’s try that in the more fundamental context of loving god and others. “We don’t love, we trust.” and then “God, and God and God alone, loves.” Hence, if we say we love god then our theology of love must be deficient because only god can love. Yeah, maybe only our God inspired love of others is truly Love, but then is our love of God only god’s love for himself? If there is no cooperation or synergism of our love with god’s, then is God’s self love through us the perfect theological model for our love of others? Guys, and gals, this obsession with perfect theological talk is getting in the way of love, and not getting us into the Way of love in and modeled by Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Think relationally and you are likely to find your theolotalk lacking, or at least a bit too letter-al and not spirit-ual enough.
All the best in Christ our Savior, Lord, and God,
Richard W. Wilson



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Jeremy Berg

posted December 3, 2009 at 3:42 am


I loved the video. Coincidentally, I just returned from a free-for-all Q & A with my high school students where the biggest question of the night was: “Can someone lose their salvation?” How would you all answer that question with high school students?
I was hoping you would all clear it all up for me. It’s now as clear as mud. ;-)
Scot – Is this similar to N.T. Wright’s view of justification? I’m hearing echoes of Wright and reading in these comments a similar discomfort with his view of justification which takes into consideration one’s life lived.
Thoughts?



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Your Name

posted December 3, 2009 at 4:59 am


Loved the video.
This brings to my mind “Inhabiting the Cruciform God.”
Can’t think of the author’s name, but I refer to the book frequently as I wrestle with the author’s read on Pauline soteriology. Does anyone else see the connection between the video and – I remember! Michael Gorman’s book?
Wonderful. Mysterious, yet pragmatic.
Thank you.



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Peter

posted December 3, 2009 at 5:26 am


Hi.
I’m #47.
Peter



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John W Frye

posted December 3, 2009 at 8:22 am


ChrisB (#36),
You wrote, “Many treat a “sinner’s payer” as magic words, but most know that not everyone who utters the magic words is saved. People tend to point to 1 John and James as offering ways to test yourself.
“What place does the human will of the *genuine” convert have in demonstrating saving faith?”
I have no idea. This is where I confess to being caught somewhere between Calvinism and … well, not-Calvinism (and not Arminianism). But I think it’s safe to say that the saved person’s will, though still flawed, is transformed so as to want the right things.”
I offered the hypothetical scenario because in my neck of the woods a lot of people call it “good evangelism.” I think that Spirit-affirmed assurance is conditional. The Spirit will not witness to my spirit that I am a child of God if I habitually sin. I appreciate your honesty in answer to the second question.
Scott Eaton (#38), what you label ‘evangelical nonsense’ get applause as crisp, clean evangelism in the minds of many. I am not advocating making my will in cooperation with God’s the BASIS of salvation, but simply asking the human will is a legitimate reality in the means of salvation, i.e., getting salvation applied. Why get all jittery about that?
I, like RJS, resonate with Doperbeck’s comments in #39. Why, David, are you still a low church evangelical? :-)



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Dana Ames

posted December 3, 2009 at 1:56 pm


Jeremy @46,
I began reading N.T. Wright in 2001 with no intention whatsoever of leaving Protestantism. My “theological house” was empty (a result of running out of track for the evangelical theological train for reasons too many to elaborate here, and reading Willard’s “Divine Conspiracy”). Wright re-furnished it.
I was received into the Orthodox Church this year.
As for your students’ question. Orthodoxy has a different definition for “salvation”. See my comment @27 above. People seem to not be able to grasp this difference…
Wright has disagreements with certain aspects of Orthodoxy, but those have to do with where the basic stuff leads, not the basic stuff itself. I and my Orthodox friends who know Wright’s work think he’s about 80% there… Wright has said, “Love is not a duty- it is our destiny.” That’s SO Orthodox! :)
Dana



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Peter+

posted December 3, 2009 at 10:10 pm


I am an Anglican and so much of what is here resonates with me. While I love much of Orthodox thought and piety, I again hear the Orthodox neglect of the juridical aspects of salvation a la St. Paul. I see the video as a wonderful explication of sanctification, but I am an unreconstructed child of the reformation and believe it perilously neglects the doctrine of justification.
I need to add that as an Anglican my script for justification is not that one makes a decision and then justification is sort of stamped on me in a mechanistic fashion. One is baptized into Christ and lives a life of faith centered in the liturgical life of the Church, constantly living into justification through the corporate ministry of Word and Sacrament.
Beautiful production BTW and would love to see Anglicans do something like it.



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Fr Alvin Kimel

posted December 7, 2009 at 9:18 am


Lovely video. Thank you for sharing.
To those who criticize the language of cooperation, I offer this thought: we either cooperate or we refuse to cooperate: What else is there to do when we have been incorporated into the trinitarian life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? What else is there to do when we have been united to the God who is absolute and unconditional Love? Within such an experience of God and the personal gift of salvation, enacted in Holy Eucharist, the language of synergism flows naturally and uncontroversially.



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