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Featured Is the Reformation dead?

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by hedrick, Jul 22, 2019.

  1. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    The personal crisis that originally sparked Luther’s change was caused by the Catholic idea that if we have any mortal sins that we haven’t repented, we’re doomed. He was unable ever to believe that he had really done that.

    As I understand the conclusion, the Reformation consensus was (1) there are no mortal sins, all sins alike will doom you if you aren’t Christ’s (2) all those who have faith are justified, independent of works.

    I’m not finding very many posters that actually hold to what I understand is the Reformation consensus, even Protestants that you’d expect would. It seems that almost everyone has a list of sins that no Christian could possibly commit, and they’re convicted that anyone who hasn’t repented for these sins is doomed. But this is precisely the concept of mortal sin that the Reformation we rejecting.

    The original Protestant response would have been that what we’re seeing now is a kind of self-righteousness. I’m OK because I haven’t committed *that* sin. My sins are of the acceptable kind. A few decades ago no Protestant would have tried that. But today it seems like the norm.

    Have I missed something?

    My theory is that the culture wars have killed justification by faith. Does that bother anyone else?
     
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  2. grandvizier1006

    grandvizier1006 Still a human by God's grace Supporter

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    This is a good question, but I can't think of a good response right now.
     
  3. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

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    But Luther wrote:
    “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.”

    In other words, it's just as Ephesians 2:8-10 says.

    It's only grace, only through faith, alone, but...we then are to do the works God has prepared for us to do.

    Faith isn't alone -- works follow. If there is faith, that continues, instead of dying and ceasing.

    What Luther was responding to and against was famously the wrong idea of buying indulgences with money, first, and then further, that salvation can be bought with works of any kind.

    That idea is the normal idea of most any Christian who like Luther says to you:

    "Hedrick, we are saved by faith alone, but that faith is never alone."

    Perhaps the more convincing version of what Luther is saying here is to read Ephesians 2:1-10, and then ask what works has God prepared for us, and how do we do them, and then turn to either Romans chapter 8, or to John chapter 15 (or so much better, both together, fitting hand in glove together), to get the answer.

    But in reality we all need also the key supplemental messages of 1rst John about stumbling and confession, and that also fits perfectly to the gospels.



     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2019
  4. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    Right, but you can't use that as a way of bringing back mortal sin. As I've just responded in a related thread, Jesus said two different things (1) God loves and forgives us unconditionally, (2) we're responsible for how we respond.

    A wide range of scholars think Paul said we are justified by faith but judged by works

    The problem is how to get the second half without giving up the first. Adding back mortal sins rejects justification by faith, and produces the self-righteous "at least I haven't ..."

    I think there are two possible responses, which may go together:
    • If you look at what Jesus said about judgement, his examples weren't about the kind of sins that have worried Christians, which are typically violations of purity. He was mostly concerned with whether people did anything positive to help others, and more generally to establish the Kingdom.
    • Christians seem to have gotten the impression that judgement is just about going to heaven or hell. But Biblically judgement is normally about getting rid of evil. Sure it's scary to us sinners, but really judgement is a good thing. One of the most explicit descriptions is 1 Cor 3:12. It warns us that much of our lives may not survive the judgement, even though we're saved.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2019
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  5. Theophilus2019

    Theophilus2019 Member

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    The Reformation is the start of the great rediscovery of the authority of the Bible and of its great doctrines, and the outworking of this through the church. Of course it isn’t dead! It’s still very much ongoing.
     
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  6. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

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    Well, if the person still believes, then in their last moments even they could confess, even in a dream like level of consciousness even, they could, and be forgiven, and God will of course additionally judge fairly according to circumstances and understanding of the person.

    One of the wonderful messages one can eventually realize in 1rst John is that we cannot really dwell in Him yet continue in sin -- these 2 aren't going comfortably together too long in time. Eventually somethings got to give (collapse) -- either the faith or the resistance to repentance. Thanks be to God that so often it's the resistance to repentance that caves in.
     
  7. Carl Emerson

    Carl Emerson Well-Known Member

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    I agree with this - to me works are a confirmation that salvation has occurred and that is all.
     
  8. grandvizier1006

    grandvizier1006 Still a human by God's grace Supporter

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    The best answer I can give is that a Christian shouldn't be perpetually committing a sin if they are truly in God. However, because we're imperfect, we most likely will have problem areas we won't even realize until we die and are judged. So to be honest, I'm not sure whether a person committing sins regularly despite being a Christian is committing a "mortal sin" in God's eyes, or whether such a thing exists. Perhaps God makes distinctions between sins deliberately committed regularly as a Christian and sins unintentionally committed regularly as a Christian. Nevertheless, I think there's nothing wrong with warning someone about their continuous sin, as long as we are certain it is in fact sin and we are respectful to the other person in how we communicate this. I can't answer to the two things you said were a consensus in the Reformation as I haven't done anywhere near the amount of research on the topic.
     
  9. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

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    I can very nearly endorse that without qualification. But there is a qualification, and it's not a small one, but this big:

    24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

    In view of the proceeding verses, (21-23), there can be no doubt that believers can make the huge error of choosing not to do as He says, and then suffering this terrible outcome, as verse 23 makes so very, very stark. It seems to be saying they can be in faith for a while, and then fail out of faith (house collapses), for lack of following the Spirit, lack of doing the works God has prepared for us to do.

    His words are just...absolute, for us, as believers. He is the Truth. The way, the truth, and the life. So, what He says in Matthew 25 about the separation of those that welcomed the stranger, feed the hungry...among their brothers and sisters -- gulp -- that's for real.
     
  10. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    There's nothing in Reformation theology prohibiting warning people about sin, using church discipline, or putting them in jail if the sin endangers others.
     
  11. Carl Emerson

    Carl Emerson Well-Known Member

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    As I read it those whose house fell were unsaved.
     
  12. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

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    Ok, and I don't feel a need to argue on it, but then we have the seed of Mark chapter 4, where He tell us that some believe and receive the Word with joy, but later fail, for lack of deeper roots (which then must be the doing as He said).

    That's
    1) Received the word with joy (Mark 4:16-17): with faith, and thus justification...and...
    2)...endure for a while -- still having faith....still alive
    3) then....later in time, failing, death....
    English Standard Version
    "And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away."
    or:
    Matthew 13:6 But when the sun rose, the seedlings were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.
     
  13. thecolorsblend

    thecolorsblend If God is your Father, who is your Mother?

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    The view which a lot of Protestants seem to have today is that a reformer's work is never done. Thus, the "reformation" was not a singular event so much as an ongoing process, or so their thinking seems to go. This "reform" seems to manifest itself most often as a reductionist approach to the faith, where doctrines which went unchallenged and undoubted for centuries are suddenly rejected with reckless abandon because something something the Bible.

    I have suggested that the consequence of this reductionist process will be that certain contingents of Protestants won't even be recognizable as Christians anymore within a century, if not sooner.

    Are there Protestant teachers out there today who believe as the "reformers" did? Perhaps. But it's easy to see how they might get shouted down in today's media environment, and this through no fault of their own. New Billy Grahams and Jerry Falwells seem to be in short supply nowadays.

    My critique of the "reformation" is that it has no built-in Off switch. If the faith could reformed in the 16th century, why stop then? Why not "reform" the faith further in the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, and on into today? How much "reform" is too much? Or too little? When (if ever) will the task be complete?

    Generally speaking, today's Protestants not only don't seem to have answers to those questions, they don't even seem interested in considering the questions themselves. Because by golly, they're on a quest! For what, they don't know. Why, they're not sure. To where, they haven't figured out -- although they seem to think they'll know it when they see it.
     
  14. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    I took a look at how Calvin understood it. He understands "these words" as referring to the Gospel as a whole. (Remember that the Gospel writers didn't necessarily preserve the original context of sayings, but put them together by topic or in other ways. Yes, Calvin says that: "For the design of both Evangelists was, to collect into one place the leading points of the doctrine of Christ, which related to a devout and holy life.") Thus he understands it more as about having your works have a proper foundation than whether you do works or not. Remember that the previous passage says it doesn't matter how impressive your works if they're not properly founded on what God actually wants. That foundation is, of course, believing in the entire Gospel, i.e. faith. It's not an obvious interpretation, but it actually makes more sense of the image of the foundation and the house than what you're probably thinking of. See the version in Luke 6:47 ff, where it's more explicit. If this is right, the emphasis isn't on the house. After all, both the wise and foolish men had houses. It's whether they are based on his words, the rock.
     
  15. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    It may just depend on which reformed church one hangs around with.
     
  16. com7fy8

    com7fy8 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    While I was the kind of Catholic that I was, I understood there were things I could do to make sure I had no sins which could keep me out of Heaven. Go to confession, say certain prayers, and do certain things. But after I did what was supposed to give me a clean slate, I was not sure; so I would do extra things, to try to make sure. And I never was sure.

    Then I trusted Jesus to do what He wants with me. And the focus is not only on taking care of myself, but I need to care about others as myself, and be pleasing to God like Jesus is pleasing to God, and trust God to make me like this.

    And so, there is correction > not only aimed at stopping sinning. But God changes our nature so we are enjoyable to Him and sharing with Him and submissive to Him and discovering how He has us loving any and all people. And we are learning how to share as His family with others who have trusted in Jesus.

    And as I get more into loving, I find it is easier to just not do things which are not loving. It is easier not to do selfish pleasure things and unforgiving things by myself, and I am interested in learning how to relate in God's loving and caring way, so it gets easier to not argue and complain, and to stay clear of any sort of bitterness and unforgiveness or just trying to use people.

    And I am busy with trusting God to make me submissive to how He personally rules us in His own peace > Colossians 3:15.

    So, my focus is on how God is able, not only on what bad things I have done.

    I think this is better than how I was doing things, before.
     
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  17. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    Culture wars or common sense. If the transcendent God of love is dwelling in someone they shouldn't be committing heinous sins over and over again. "You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?" (Mt 7:16). "If any one says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen" (1 Jn 4:20).

    Luther's idea was a man-made reaction to religious abuses. As long as common sense and scripture exist belief in mortal sin will also exist. The idea is disappearing, and that is a good thing.
     
  18. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

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    Catholics too --
    Conversion can be a lifelong journey
    or if you prefer another flavor
    https://catholicherald.org/herald-o...-e-listecki/conversion-is-a-lifelong-process/
    or pick yet another flavor, but "lifelong process of conversion".

    Which is indeed a good thing, actually.

    About 'within a century' -- yes, within the first, and then again in the 2nd, and so on, right? Really, why not accept that viewpoint saying there are 30,000 something denominations, and for Catholics the split into 242 Catholic ones too?

    ah, here:
    We Need to Stop Saying That There Are 33,000 Protestant Denominations
     
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  19. grandvizier1006

    grandvizier1006 Still a human by God's grace Supporter

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    I don't think it's fair to say that most Protestants don't know what they're doing just because they decided they didn't need to do things the way they were done back in earlier centuries. I also don't think it's fair to lump in Billy Graham with Jerry Falwell. Despite some of Billy Graham's teachings, mistakes and ideas, I don't hesitate to think of him as someone who was an actual Christian.
     
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  20. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

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    Ah, we agree quite well on the whole gospel part. The house metaphor is a powerful warning to us, since we really do have the choice, just as Paul put to us in Romans chapter 8, and elsewhere again, to walk in the Spirit, to love one another (and more such from Paul), or to instead fail and follow the flesh.

    Christ says the safe foundation, the 'rock', is to hear and do his words, so that's the rock meaning there -- to hear and do as He says -- and no other idea, since He is so very plain and direct in that wording, and it doesn't admit other meanings. And...that's really what you are saying -- that these works are nothing if they are not based on His words, but really, John chapter 15 is a far more useway and necessary way of talking about that part than our reductions.
     
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