July 31st, 2013
The following is a guest post by Shaun M. Smith. Shaun is a Masters level student of philosophy and a Graduate Assistant serving as an online philosophy instructor for Liberty University. I do not agree with Shaun’s position and this is not an endorsement of his views.
There is no doubt to me, or perhaps to any Protestant Christian, the term “purgatory” is followed with such nail biting disgust. Seemingly so, almost every Protestant dismisses the doctrine without even coming close to understanding the essential nature and properties of the doctrine of purgatory. Due to the Catholic Church’s overly corrupted use of such a doctrine, most in western theology have grown bitter towards the doctrine of purgatory, as Martin Luther once did (perhaps, rightly so!).
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May 14th, 2013
Adoption is God’s choosing of individuals to be adopted into the spiritual family to receive future riches and glory. What must be defined about the doctrine is what it means for a believer to be in the “spiritual family.” Thomas Schreiner places the value of adoption on those who are not slaves to the power of sin. Those who did not have the Spirit of Christ were subject to the slavery of sin; they were in subjection to the power of sin [cf. Gal. 4.7]. The Spirit that is given to believers is a Spirit that liberates from the power of sin, and thus a new obedience is generated in the heart of believers.
The passage from Romans 8.16 confirms that we are God’s children by bearing witness with our spirit. The critical issue for adoption is that there is cooperation with the human spirit and the Holy Spirit. “Our spirit” cannot be identified as the Holy Spirit. Verse 17 reinforces inheritance (κληρονομία, kleronomia) of future glory with God.
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April 25th, 2013
Heilsgeschichte (hiyels-ge-sheek-te), when translated from German it literally means “salvation history.”
Heilsgeschichte is an organizing principle developed by Oscar Cullman for the various New Testament titles for Jesus. Cullman’s Christology is centered on what Jesus has done in history.
It is a characteristic of New Testament Christology that Christ is connected with the total history of revelation and salvation, beginning with creation. There can be no Heilsgeschichte without Christology; no Christology without aHeilsgeschichte which unfolds in time. Christology is the doctrine of an event, not the doctrine of natures. (Oscar Cullman, The Christology of the New Testament, rev. ed. [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1963], 9).
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September 3rd, 2012
Earlier today I was listening to Dan Barker talk about how he knew that he was a born again Christian. He went to all these church events and was heavily involved with evangelism–all the Christian things Christians do. Well, Dan Barker no longer describes himself as a Christian. He, and many people like him, are very emphatic when they say that they were once Christians and they actually were saved or born again. However, if anyone is going to claim to be an Ex-Christian they’re going to have to say that they never were saved to begin with.
My concern isn’t with the doctrine of preservation or perseverance. (You can read about my position in my post, “Can You Lose Your Salvation? A Molinist’s Perspective.”) This is a different issue, and you’ll see what I mean shortly. What interests me is when individuals who claim to be non-Christian (atheist, agnostic, Muslim, etc.) claim that they were actually Christians prior to apostasy. What are the conditions for being a Christian? Well, there are many conditions such as divine election, the death and resurrection of Jesus, the efficacy of the atonement, etc. Those are all important but what concerns the “apostate” is the sufficient and necessary conditions of believing the truth of the death, burial, resurrection and application of atonement to oneself. When one apostatizes they must commit to the truth that the aforementioned conditions are actually false.
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February 1st, 2012
The Word of the Week is: Supralapsarianism
Definition: From the Latin, supra (prior to, below, before), lapsis, (fall). A term used to denote the logical moment of God’s election of the saints. Supralapsarianism if the belief that God chose the elect logically prior to the fall of man.
More about the term: Supralapsarianism is generally held by Calvinists and a few Molinists. Supralapsarianism places the moment of divine election logically prior to the fall of Adam as opposed to logically posterior to the fall, which is known as infralapsarianism. When God chose the elect he did so without viewing them or considering them in their fallen state. God chose them in a pre-fallen state. This position can create controversy and may have unsavory implications. One of the implications is what’s known as double-predestination. This is the idea that God chose the reprobates (the non-elect) in the same fashion in which he chose the elect. This isn’t a necessary implication of supralapsarianism since God’s decree of reprobation may be logically posterior to the fall.
This view of soteriology is held by Alvin Plantinga, who is a Molinist with Calvinistic tendencies (there’s a wide spectrum of Molinism ranging from supralapsarianism to Wesleyan). Plantinga uses this idea in his theodicy, ‘O Felix Culpa’ (O happy sin). The reason why evil exists is because God first desired the cross of Christ–the means by which God would get the most glory. In order to bring about the cross there must be sin, thus God permits sin to happen because he desires the cross (which is why evil exists–so God may be glorified by atoning for it).