Green Room

Re: Atheists and salvation

posted at 6:02 pm on May 24, 2013 by

Point 1: You’re probably going to get more comments in that thread than in your Holder thread, AP.

Point 2: The point of the first part of the passage quoted in the Atlantic was that Jesus came to save all mankind.  However, we can choose whether or not to follow in that salvation — and that includes atheists.  Free will, after all, makes that our own choice.  That is basic Christian doctrine, which isn’t limited to the Catholic Church.

Point 3: The part about doing good speaks to meeting each other in this life, not the next.  Pope Francis is actually gently rebuking those who would argue that people without faith at all or the “wrong” faith must therefore be bad. The part that starts, “And we all have a duty to do good,” is a separate thought and would be better expressed in its own paragraph.  With that in mind, Francis’ meaning is clear enough for me:

And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

The final there refers to the conjunction of doing good works in this life to reach communion with each other in the present, not in Heaven.  It’s an instruction on how to live life with all of God’s children here now, and as such is hardly controversial … but we frequently need reminders, as our fallen nature dictates.

This doesn’t sound like Pope Francis’ view of eschatology, but of genuine ecumenical outreach.

Point 4: You’re going to get more comments than my Holder piece, AP, and yes doggone it, I’m jealous.

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The Word that states one must have personal knowledge of the historical Christ to be saved. It does state that only through Christ can anyone be saved, which is quite different, isn’t it?

williars on May 28, 2013 at 1:29 PM

I have read the testimonies pf people whohave realized that there is Something out there to Which/Whom we are accountable and have addressed that Being.

Of course, I have no knowledge of some being saved without the Gospel being preached and ending up in Heaven.

I must remain firm in my conviction that salvation is by faith alone in Jesus, not by works, otherwise Christ died in vain. I believe that a teaching that a person can work his/her way into salvation to be heresy of the highest sort.

Contrary to your comments above, that is what Paul taught.

davidk on May 28, 2013 at 6:48 PM

The people to whom I referred above lived in countries where atheism was taught and the church and all talk about God was that it deceitful lies (kind of like the trolls here).

And don’t get me wrong. Saving faith will produce goods works. That is the message of James.

Paul speaks of our position before God. James speaks of our experience.

davidk on May 28, 2013 at 6:56 PM

Ephesians 2:9

New International Version (©2011)
not by works, so that no one can boast.

New Living Translation (©2007)
Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

English Standard Version (©2001)
not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

New American Standard Bible (©1995)
not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Holman Christian Standard Bible (©2009)
not from works, so that no one can boast.

International Standard Version (©2012)
and not the result of actions, to put a stop to all boasting.

NET Bible (©2006)
it is not from works, so that no one can boast.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)
Not of works, lest anyone should boast.

GOD’S WORD® Translation (©1995)
It’s not the result of anything you’ve done, so no one can brag about it.

King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
Not of works, lest any man should boast.

American King James Version
Not of works, lest any man should boast.

American Standard Version
not of works, that no man should glory.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Not of works, that no man may glory.

Darby Bible Translation
not on the principle of works, that no one might boast.

English Revised Version
not of works, that no man should glory.

Webster’s Bible Translation
Not by works, lest any man should boast.

Weymouth New Testament
so that it may be impossible for any one to boast.

World English Bible
not of works, that no one would boast.

Young’s Literal Translation
not of works, that no one may boast;

davidk on May 28, 2013 at 7:00 PM

[W]orks cannot be the causes of salvation, either efficient, moving, or procuring, … since though they are to be performed as being agreeable to the purposing, as well as commanding will of God, yet they are effects, … of the work of grace upon the soul … . [Emphasis added]

http://gill.biblecommenter.com/ephesians/2.htm

davidk on May 28, 2013 at 7:03 PM

Of course, I have no knowledge of some being saved without the Gospel being preached and ending up in Heaven.
davidk on May 28, 2013 at 6:48 PM

What about those, then, whom I mentioned – who lived and died having never having heard the gospel message? What is their eternal destiny?

whatcat on May 28, 2013 at 7:11 PM

davidk on May 28, 2013 at 6:48 PM

We have no certain knowledge of anyone being saved or damned. We do know from Scripture that a Christian “working” Faith saves. We also know from Scripture that those outside our Faith also fall under Jesus’Judgement according to the natural Law written in their hearts. God judges everyone according to the Law of Love.
OK, maybe you don’t believe (some of) that, but, imho, that puts you in an irrational position: that accidents of birth date and approximation to the Gospel alone saves. Not the Jesus I know my brother, but I leave any such disputes on His lap.

No good work – no salvation. We strive for a working Faith.
Randy

williars on May 28, 2013 at 7:34 PM

He is a God of Mystery.
Randy

williars on May 28, 2013 at 7:36 PM

2. I don’t believe there is anything in The Word that states one must have personal knowledge of the historical Christ to be saved. It does state that only through Christ can anyone be saved, which is quite different, isn’t it?

3. It is those who do the will of God who are saved by Christ, and Him alone….“Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matt. 25:37-40)
“But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” (Luke 8:21)
Many soi-disant atheists will be happily saved. Or so I believe. Your mileage may vary.
Randy

williars on May 28, 2013 at 1:29 PM

I believe in Hell,wc. I believe that Jesus judges each and every one of us…”For God so loved the world….” Christ died for all so that all could be saved. Some choose damnation, and have no regrets. There is no-one in Hell by accident, or ignorance.
Randy

williars on May 28, 2013 at 6:15 PM

I agree with you, and like your attitude! I am a big fan of Romans 2 – many Christians should think about it more often!

Romans 2:12-16:

12) For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law;

13) for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.

14) For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves,

15) in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,

16) on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.

Anti-Control on May 28, 2013 at 7:40 PM

He is a God of Mystery.
Randy

williars on May 28, 2013 at 7:36 PM

And he was faithful enough to reveal Himself to us thru creation and thru His Word.

tom daschle concerned on May 28, 2013 at 8:38 PM

Anti-Control on May 28, 2013 at 7:40 PM

Thanks A-C. It is difficult to harmonize All of The NT, but the passage you quote reminds me that Christians, having been given more, more is expected of our example.
I sometimes think that God laughs, “They think they have me in a nutshell, but all they have is the nutshell.”
Randy

williars on May 28, 2013 at 9:35 PM

I sometimes think that God laughs, “They think they have me in a nutshell, but all they have is the nutshell.”
Randy

williars on May 28, 2013 at 9:35 PM

You are a very wise person, williars! :)

Anti-Control on May 29, 2013 at 3:43 AM

Anti-Control on May 28, 2013 at 7:40 PM

et al.

Romans 2 is just the beginning of his teaching. Here Paul is pointing out that those who have kept the law are saved.

But in Romans 3 he points out that:

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:

14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:

15 Their feet are swift to shed blood:

16 Destruction and misery are in their ways:

17 And the way of peace have they not known:

18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.

19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

No one has kept the law perfectly (except Jesus).

He says in Romans 4:4 that a works salvation is not of grace, it would be something that God owed man: “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” And then concludes in verse 28, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

He gives Abraham as an example of belief before works and that believing in God was reckoned, accounted to Abraham, as righteousness.

Saving faith produces good works. But good works does not bring about salvation.
_____________

The believing Old testament people had the gospel preached to them when Jesus “descended.”

As far as the those who have lived and never heard the gospel: my opinion based on my understanding of Scripture is that they are not saved. I do know that God is perfectly just and perfectly merciful and does not want any to perish.

Two of my favorite authors, John Stott and Jacques Ellul, were universalists believing that eventually all would be saved. They are way more wise and knowledgeable than I. But on this we differ.

davidk on May 29, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Yeah, I don’t mean it as a gotcha question, I’m just interested in his particular take. It’s a toughee rock-hard place question for most Christians, but there are answers.

whatcat on May 28, 2013 at 8:31 PM

Yes. They involve god’s omniscience and His omnipotence. Knowing which people would not believe in any circumstance and placing them in place where the Gospel will not be preached. That opens up a whole ‘nuther discussion(s). Not to mention the added responsibility toward those who are placed by God’s providence in places where the Gospel is preached. How much more sure is their judgement.

davidk on May 29, 2013 at 11:05 AM

Yes. They involve god’s omniscience and His omnipotence. Knowing which people would not believe in any circumstance and placing them in place where the Gospel will not be preached.

davidk on May 29, 2013 at 11:05 AM

So you believe God creates people that He knows can never be saved? I wonder what the point in that would be.

DarkCurrent on May 29, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Yes. They involve god’s omniscience and His omnipotence. Knowing which people would not believe in any circumstance and placing them in place where the Gospel will not be preached. That opens up a whole ‘nuther discussion(s). Not to mention the added responsibility toward those who are placed by God’s providence in places where the Gospel is preached. How much more sure is their judgement.
davidk on May 29, 2013 at 11:05 AM

Thanks for reply – can’t say I agree with you, but had be a PITA enough to ask anyway, heh.

whatcat on May 29, 2013 at 12:44 PM

Saving faith produces good works. But good works does not bring about salvation.

We completely agree here.

Salvation requires trust & humility, which is the antithesis to work/works.

As far as the those who have lived and never heard the gospel: my opinion based on my understanding of Scripture is that they are not saved. I do know that God is perfectly just and perfectly merciful and does not want any to perish.

Two of my favorite authors, John Stott and Jacques Ellul, were universalists believing that eventually all would be saved. They are way more wise and knowledgeable than I. But on this we differ.

davidk on May 29, 2013 at 10:25 AM

As williars pointed out, people choose to be evil knowingly, not ignorantly. I’ll add that I think you’d agree me with me there’s no goodness in Hell, nor evil in Heaven.

Anyone who has a loving heart will not be forgotten nor left out – heart > belief.

Anti-Control on May 29, 2013 at 12:49 PM

So you believe God creates people that He knows can never be saved? I wonder what the point in that would be.

DarkCurrent on May 29, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Especially Calvinism, but Arminianism also, are dogmas which lead to weird, and I say unnatural, interpretations of what a loving, omniscient, and omnipotent God’s nature must be. I am not fully a Pelagian, but that general position makes by far the most sense to me.

Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan to a lawyer(!) as a response to the guy’s question about what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus didn’t give the guy a theological dissertion, He told Him how to behave, which nicely weaves with my & williars’ understanding of Romans 2.

Non-Jesus-knowing heathens have the same natural brain capacity to be able to figure out that they should act good which Christians have, and I absolutely do not believe that any supernatural force can prevent them from behaving morally.

Anti-Control on May 29, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Especially Calvinism, but Arminianism also, are dogmas which lead to weird, and I say unnatural, interpretations of what a loving, omniscient, and omnipotent God’s nature must be. I am not fully a Pelagian, but that general position makes by far the most sense to me.

Anti-Control on May 29, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Thank you for the interesting and thought-provoking response. As a non-Christian much of Christian apologetic reasoning makes little sense to me, so I often ask what I suppose might seem like stupid questions.

DarkCurrent on May 29, 2013 at 1:25 PM

As a non-Christian much of Christian apologetic reasoning makes little sense to me, so I often ask what I suppose might seem like stupid questions.
DarkCurrent on May 29, 2013 at 1:25 PM

Even from a Christian viewpoint there are things that make little sense at all – logically, theologically or scripturally. For God to create people who are doomed due no fault of their own would make Him out to be a cruel monster. This is indeed one of those areas where Christians really have to put on their thinking caps.

whatcat on May 29, 2013 at 2:40 PM

Thank you for the interesting and thought-provoking response. As a non-Christian much of Christian apologetic reasoning makes little sense to me, so I often ask what I suppose might seem like stupid questions.

DarkCurrent on May 29, 2013 at 1:25 PM

Y/w.

The questions someone like you ask are dumb only depending on who you’re asking! I myself don’t have a lot of time for closeminded Christians who forcefully expect me to agree with their pretzel-logicky Biblical interpretations, either.

For God to create people who are doomed due no fault of their own would make Him out to be a cruel monster.

whatcat on May 29, 2013 at 2:40 PM

Yep.

John Wesley about Calvin’s view on predestination: “…God as worse than the devil…” – I don’t believe it is the least bit surprising that Wesley’s anti-Calvinistic attitude had a direct impact on slavery’s abolishment in the England.

Anti-Control on May 29, 2013 at 3:15 PM

FTR, I do not believe that all Calvinists, or all other Christians I disagree with on interpretations, are closeminded.

Anti-Control on May 29, 2013 at 3:19 PM

I’ll add that I think you’d agree me with me there’s no goodness in Hell, nor evil in Heaven.

Anti-Control on May 29, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Certainly.

Anyone who has a loving heart will not be forgotten nor left out – heart > belief.

Anti-Control on May 29, 2013 at 12:49 PM

The problem I have with that statement is: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9

At salvation God creates in us a new heart. Saving faith comes first.

So you believe God creates people that He knows can never be saved? I wonder what the point in that would be.

DarkCurrent on May 29, 2013 at 12:08 PM

God knows who will will not believe under nay circumstances. I’m not sure if that translates into God’s creating people He knows will not believe.

There’s a difference in “people who will not believe” and people who cannot be saved.”

And I cite that as an argument I’ve seen. I’m not saying I agree with it.

My position is that God is perfectly just and perfectly merciful.

BTW if that former is correct, those of us, including you, are ones that apparently God thinks would, in certain “possible worlds” of our lives would respond positively to the Gospel. Our judgement will be more harsh.

I tend to agree with Molinism, aka Middle Knowledge, which teaches (in a nutshell [if you will]) that God, being omniscient, knows every possible choice we w/could make including the actual choice we make but does not know which one is actual until we make it. That is a very brief description of Molinism which does it disservice.

FTR, I do not believe that all Calvinists, or all other Christians I disagree with on interpretations, are closeminded.

Anti-Control on May 29, 2013 at 3:19 PM

FTR, anything, any belief, that does not contradict God’s essence is open for debate. For example, I’ve heard Christians say that if one does not believe in a literal seven day creation you cannot be saved. While I do believe in a literal seven day creation, I recognize that God could have created the universe in many different ways, so believing that He created other than what I believe is nothing to cause division.

But there are non-negotiables.

davidk on May 29, 2013 at 5:57 PM

… any circumstances …

davidk on May 29, 2013 at 5:58 PM

Are you pluralists satisfied yet? This is after all meant for you and not for any Christ follower.

LaughterJones on May 31, 2013 at 9:34 AM

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