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Paul's Teachings

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  • Paul's Teachings

    Starlight presents some interesting arguments which I think are worth pursuing. So - if his contribution is not permitted in this forum, could a monitor please move the thread to an appropriate venue.
    sigpic1 Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω

  • #2
    Originally posted by me
    The point that having committed sin once makes a person a sinner, with the result of an impaired ability to avoid sin thereafter is NT teaching
    Originally posted by Starlight
    I don't agree.
    But you do agree (for the most part). A sinner is one who has had the experience of committing sin, not just one for whom sin is an ongoing activity. In your own words:

    Originally posted by Starlight
    Secondly, while the NT does talk about sin having power over people, it's talking about those who are stuck in a habit of sin, and is probably best understood in comparison to something like alcoholism, where it's become a habit and there's become addiction and psychological issues involved as to why it's going to continue to happen.
    Many early writers made that same observation – Pelagius (not “straw man Pelagius”) among them. Straw Man Pelagius made the claim that a saviour was not necessary for the righteous – the real one didn’t. Nor did he claim that completely overcoming sin was within the range of natural human ability.

    Originally posted by Starlight
    Firstly, I think the NT continues to endorse the general Jewish paradigm of "repentance and forgiveness", namely that God like any loving father is totally willing at the drop of a hat to forgive any of his children who does something wrong and says sorry, and that any generally good person who commits a sin can say "oops, sorry God" and then think no more of it because there's free forgiveness and God, like any loving father, only cares about the overall character his children are developing not about tallying individual crimes.
    I am largely in agreement. A couple of points need clarification though:
    1/ “any generally good person who {inadvertently*} commits a sin can say "oops, sorry God"
    (*or unconsciously or any other adjective that denotes “not: God can go hang, I’ll do it anyway.”)
    2/ “and then think no more of it because there's free forgiveness.” Though not in the absence of a commitment to not reoffend. That is the core of repentance. Peppered throughout Paul’s writings is the concept of “go and sin no more.” The critical point is that the person is not forgiven (for sinning), the sin is forgiven. afimi … put away/divorce – God does not usually divorce people.

    God couldn't care less about these minor sins and just handwaves them away. So no, I don't think the NT teaches any sort of metaphysical danger of the first sin making you a sinner, or impairing your ability thereafter, or anything like that.
    On this we are not agreed at all. God calls people to be holy (saints by the traditional concept of sainthood.) I’m fairly sure that Paul endorsed the concept that a person makes himself a slave (addict is a good choice of analogy) to whomever or whatever he presents himself to obey. Notably Romans 6:16.

    Originally posted by Starlight
    And this does not refer to all people, just a minority - in Jesus's various analogies it's the 1 in 10 lost coins, or the 1 in 100 lost sheep, or the 1 of 2 sons who go off the rails. And in a similar way to what we might say "an intervention is needed" for someone with an alcohol issue because they've got to the point where they're not capable of meaningfully exercising the free will to get themselves out of the behavioural pattern that's developed, so the NT talks about bringing 'salvation' to these people to break them free of the habits of sinfulness and get them back on track.
    Parables have a point to make, and can easily be pushed beyond their intended message.
    Sheep and coins: the back story is not stated. Your back story assumes that the coins and sheep had always been in the owners’ possession; an assumption that I cannot endorse – and with regard to the coins, is particularly unlikely. Impossible even, unless the owner had actually minted them.
    The prodigal son story (which some have pointed out, should be called “forgiving father story”) presents a father who is forgiving. That forgiveness is no more than potential before the younger son repents (makes a move to return), at which time it becomes active. By ANE concepts, the elder son had committed a sin in opposing his father, and is in need of correction if he is to avoid become estranged from the father. This story in fact underpins the concept that the father’s active regard is necessary to keep the son “on the straight and narrow.”




    I think you're conflating the two quite different concepts above. I think the underlying problem is you've accepted the theological error that moves the judgement from a very passable 50/50 type good vs evil standard to a totally not passable 100% perfect vs not-perfect standard. That makes a huge, huge, difference to things like whether minor sins matter, the extent to which God or anyone else cares about minor sins, and to what it is that salvation is supposed to be doing.
    50/50 is good enough, provided that there is an active commitment to doing better. Faith,* even if it is of no greater extent than a mustard seed, must be present.
    (*which I read as equivalent to the Hebrew emunah – loyalty/commitment – in the relevant text)




    Salvation in the NT is commonly referring to rescue from habitual sinfulness, which, no, not everyone needs, any more than everyone today needs an intervention to rescue them from alcoholism.
    Commonly to be sure, but not invariably. As in the parable of the forgiving father, the saviour may not be needed correctively, but is still needed proactively. It would have been all too easy for the elder son to be overcome by his own bitterness.
    Last edited by tabibito; 09-14-2021, 05:28 AM.
    sigpic1 Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω

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    • #3
      Moderated By: rogue06

      Moved to Apologetics where Starlight can post

      ***If you wish to take issue with this notice DO NOT do so in this thread.***
      Contact the forum moderator or an administrator in Private Message or email instead. If you feel you must publicly complain or whine, please take it to the Padded Room unless told otherwise.


      I'm always still in trouble again

      "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
      "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
      "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

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      • #4
        ...you've accepted the theological error that moves the judgement from a very passable 50/50 type good vs evil standard to a totally not passable 100% perfect vs not-perfect standard. That makes a huge, huge, difference to things like whether minor sins matter, the extent to which God or anyone else cares about minor sins, and to what it is that salvation is supposed to be doing.
        As far as the New Covenant is concerned, the only guarantee of a "good judgment" from God is faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus himself made it clear that those who think they are "good enough" are setting themselves up for a rude awakening.

        Scripture Verse: Matthew 7

        On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

        © Copyright Original Source


        And anybody who thinks they will be able to tip the scales in their favor by doing more right than wrong (assuming you can even objectively and accurately assess yourself in that regard), you might want to pay attention to the book of James:

        Scripture Verse: James 2

        Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.

        © Copyright Original Source


        Do you still like your odds of being "good enough" to get into heaven without faith in Jesus?
        Some may call me foolish, and some may call me odd
        But I'd rather be a fool in the eyes of man
        Than a fool in the eyes of God


        From "Fools Gold" by Petra

        Comment


        • #5
          I think that the concept that only some people need to be forgiven of their sins through Christ while others don't runs into a roadblock at John 14:6:

          Scripture Verse: John 14:6

          Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

          © Copyright Original Source


          I'm always still in trouble again

          "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
          "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
          "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
            I think that the concept that only some people need to be forgiven of their sins through Christ while others don't runs into a roadblock at John 14:6:

            Scripture Verse: John 14:6

            Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

            © Copyright Original Source

            It hits more than one roadblock, but this is about Paul's teachings, so it is necessary to make Paul's teachings the focus of attention: 1 Thess 5:9; Romans 5:8-9; Ephesians 2:5 etc provide more than enough information to show that road blocks exist in Paul's teachings.

            The most serious problem arises with a flawed definition of what a sinner is.
            sigpic1 Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by tabibito View Post

              It hits more than one roadblock, but this is about Paul's teachings, so it is necessary to make Paul's teachings the focus of attention...
              Except that like anything else in scripture, you really can't look at Paul's teachings in a vacuum since the entire rest of the Bible provides supporting context.
              Some may call me foolish, and some may call me odd
              But I'd rather be a fool in the eyes of man
              Than a fool in the eyes of God


              From "Fools Gold" by Petra

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post

                Except that like anything else in scripture, you really can't look at Paul's teachings in a vacuum since the entire rest of the Bible provides supporting context.
                As a matter of priority, the horse must be in front of the cart and facing in the right direction.
                sigpic1 Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by tabibito View Post

                  As a matter of priority, the horse must be in front of the cart and facing in the right direction.
                  As the saying goes, "Use scripture to interpret scripture."
                  Some may call me foolish, and some may call me odd
                  But I'd rather be a fool in the eyes of man
                  Than a fool in the eyes of God


                  From "Fools Gold" by Petra

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by tabibito View Post
                    But you do agree (for the most part). A sinner is one who has had the experience of committing sin, not just one for whom sin is an ongoing activity.
                    I agree with Origen:

                    Origen's Commentary on Romans (Translated by Scheck, vol 1) 5.5.3-4,7
                    It is one thing to have sinned, another to be a sinner. One is called a sinner who, by committing many transgressions, has already reached the point of making sinning into a habit and, so to speak, a course of study. Just as, on the other hand, one is not called righteous who has once or twice done some righteous act, but who continually behaves justly and keeps righteousness in use and makes it habitual. For if someone is unjust in nearly all other matters but should carry out some just work one or two times, he will indeed be said to have acted justly in that work in which he practised justice' nevertheless he will not be a just man. Similarly it will indeed be said that a righteous man has sinned if he has at some time committed what is not lawful. But he will not on that account be labelled a sinner, since he does not hold fast to the practice and habit of sinning....
                    4. For it can happen that all people commit sin, even if they are holy... For who is there who does not sin either in deed or in word or, if one is extremely cautious, at least in thought?....
                    7. You may find in the Holy Scriptures many things of this sort in which you will discover both that the righteous man has committed sin and the sinner has done some righteous things. Nevertheless you will not find either the righteous man called a sinner because he sinned in some matter, or the sinner designated as a righteous man because he did something just.


                    Many early writers made that same observation – Pelagius (not “straw man Pelagius”) among them. Straw Man Pelagius made the claim that a saviour was not necessary for the righteous – the real one didn’t. Nor did he claim that completely overcoming sin was within the range of natural human ability.
                    I have done quite a lot of study the ante-Nicene church fathers, having read the majority of their surviving works and read every scholarly work I could get hold of about them. However, my interest never extended as late as Augustine (and his debate with Pelagius) and the Latin church he was part of because all the scholarly sources I read made it clear that Augustine deviated substantially from the theology of Christians before him and a substantial part of why he did so were errors in the Latin translation of the bible he relied on and his own inability at Greek. The general consensus of most scholars regarding Pelagius seems to be that he held fairly run-of-the-mill views for the time and was rightly calling Augustine out on Augustine's innovations, and to the extent that Augustine then forced him into a corner, Pelagius ended up getting a few minor things wrong in his own defense.

                    Which is to say that I don't have sufficiently detailed knowledge of Pelagius' precise teachings in order to comment on your points about Pelagius vs straw man Pelagius, but I do think it would surprise many who have only a vague understanding of Christian history to learn that scholars of Christian history typically regard Pelagius as substantially orthodox and Augustine as substantially heterodox as compared to earlier church writers.

                    It seems to me that the major theological changes made in church history that have accumulated to lead to modern evangelical interpretations of Paul, were made by Augustine, Anselm, and Luther, each ~500 years apart and making critical changes in the interpretation of Paul's writings that would be subsequently accepted by those after them. The big reason why today the Eastern Orthodox church is so, so, different in their theology of salvation to the evangelicals, is because their theological development took place independently of those three people.


                    On the other points you make in your post, I don't really have any comments to make. Generally I don't see any evidence as to why I should either agree with you or disagree with you on them. It's not clear to me whether you are stating your own faith-based personal beliefs taken from your denominations teachings (what denomination are you? what are their teachings?), or whether you are giving your views from academic biblical study...?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                      As the saying goes, "Use scripture to interpret scripture."
                      I think using passages from one writer to interpret the words of another is a terrible idea if the goal is to actually understand what the original authors meant. If you just want to make up arbitrary theology to suit your view, okay, you can use your maxim and interpret one passage through the lens of another to 'prove' anything you happen to want to 'prove', but if you actually want to get to the truth then that saying is awful.


                      Originally posted by tabibito View Post
                      It hits more than one roadblock, but this is about Paul's teachings, so it is necessary to make Paul's teachings the focus of attention: 1 Thess 5:9; Romans 5:8-9; Ephesians 2:5 etc provide more than enough information to show that road blocks exist in Paul's teachings.
                      I take those passages to be saying little more than God reaches out to people who have fallen into serious habitual sin to try to lead them to repentance and change. It echo's Jesus' statement that he was trying to reach out to sinners not the righteous.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Starlight View Post
                        I think using passages from one writer to interpret the words of another is a terrible idea if the goal is to actually understand what the original authors meant. If you just want to make up arbitrary theology to suit your view, okay, you can use your maxim and interpret one passage through the lens of another to 'prove' anything you happen to want to 'prove', but if you actually want to get to the truth then that saying is awful.
                        Where ambiguity exists, whether inherent or imposed, it is often useful to consider related comments by others. "Using scripture to interpret scripture" in such circumstances is warranted e.g.
                        Ralph says Paul means X, Joe says that he means Y. The text can be read either way, but Peter says Y; so if Ralph is correct, Paul contradicts Peter.
                        Often enough, a given ambiguous text will be clarified by Paul himself: sometimes in a different letter, sometimes only a few lines later.


                        I have done quite a lot of study the ante-Nicene church fathers, having read the majority of their surviving works and read every scholarly work I could get hold of about them. However, my interest never extended as late as Augustine (and his debate with Pelagius) and the Latin church he was part of because all the scholarly sources I read made it clear that Augustine deviated substantially from the theology of Christians before him and a substantial part of why he did so were errors in the Latin translation of the bible he relied on and his own inability at Greek. The general consensus of most scholars regarding Pelagius seems to be that he held fairly run-of-the-mill views for the time and was rightly calling Augustine out on Augustine's innovations, and to the extent that Augustine then forced him into a corner, Pelagius ended up getting a few minor things wrong in his own defense.
                        Your conclusion is reasonably in line with that of John Cassian, basically saying that both were wrong, but Pelagius was closer to being correct. Cassian's (Celtic Church) own theology was very close to that of Pelagius. Also the Eastern church assented to Pelagius being excommunicated, while at the same time continuing in the teachings that had been declared heretical. (which you have also noted.) Pelagius' remained highly regarded teacher in the Celtic Church until the eighth century, when it was finally subsumed by Rome.

                        It seems to me that the major theological changes made in church history that have accumulated to lead to modern evangelical interpretations of Paul, were made by Augustine, Anselm, and Luther, each ~500 years apart and making critical changes in the interpretation of Paul's writings that would be subsequently accepted by those after them. The big reason why today the Eastern Orthodox church is so, so, different in their theology of salvation to the evangelicals, is because their theological development took place independently of those three people.
                        That they have, along with others, including Calvin (though not as egregiously as modern day Calvinists would have us believe.)

                        It's not clear to me whether you are stating your own faith-based personal beliefs taken from your denominations teachings (what denomination are you? what are their teachings?), or whether you are giving your views from academic biblical study...?
                        Often enough, Eastern Orthodox Christians mistakenly identify me as a member of someone else's branch of the Eastern Church. Were you ask one of my lecturers, he or she would tell you that I can't be pegged in any denomination that they know of. As to my own studies - I compare the claims of Ralph and of Joe with the Koine Greek texts to determine whether either can be substantiated. In a few assignments, I have submitted work that is diametrically opposed to the lecture material and walked away with a distinction. In one of those assignments, I ignored the explicit instructions of the lecturer and did what he had said must not be done.

                        "More on topic" matters will follow when I have considered proper responses. The hardest to respond to are those that are "almost there" as under

                        I take those passages to be saying little more than God reaches out to people who have fallen into serious habitual sin to try to lead them to repentance and change. It echo's Jesus' statement that he was trying to reach out to sinners not the righteous.
                        Last edited by tabibito; 09-15-2021, 04:23 AM.
                        sigpic1 Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Starlight View Post
                          I think using passages from one writer to interpret the words of another is a terrible idea if the goal is to actually understand what the original authors meant. If you just want to make up arbitrary theology to suit your view, okay, you can use your maxim and interpret one passage through the lens of another to 'prove' anything you happen to want to 'prove', but if you actually want to get to the truth then that saying is awful.
                          ISTM that to some extent, this is the contrast between "Systematic Theology" and "Biblical Theology." If forced to choose, I prefer the latter. However, since I ultimately believe in divine inspiration -- that I AM is the Author behind the authors, so to speak -- I would never totally rule out using Scripture to interpret Scripture, especially within a given authorial corpus. (And yes, I am well aware that as a conservative evangelical, I will have considerably different views of genuine vs. pseudepigraphical authorship compare to the liberal scholars who probably comprise the majority.)

                          Also, I am given to understand that linking various OT passages by key words was a standard and accepted rabbinical technique at the time the NT was written, so that should possibly be factored in.
                          Geislerminian Antinomian Kenotic Charispneumaticostal Gender Mutualist-Egalitarian.

                          Beige Nationalist.

                          "Everybody is somebody's heretic."

                          Social Justice is usually the opposite of actual justice.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by NorrinRadd View Post

                            ISTM that to some extent, this is the contrast between "Systematic Theology" and "Biblical Theology." If forced to choose, I prefer the latter. However, since I ultimately believe in divine inspiration -- that I AM is the Author behind the authors, so to speak -- I would never totally rule out using Scripture to interpret Scripture, especially within a given authorial corpus. (And yes, I am well aware that as a conservative evangelical, I will have considerably different views of genuine vs. pseudepigraphical authorship compare to the liberal scholars who probably comprise the majority.)

                            Also, I am given to understand that linking various OT passages by key words was a standard and accepted rabbinical technique at the time the NT was written, so that should possibly be factored in.
                            You reminded me of an important point that I had forgotten: Cross correlating the related texts adds depth to basic statements.
                            One of my favourite examples:
                            Joe: Jesus said "He who is not for us is against us."
                            Ralph: No he didn't, he said, "He who is not against us is for us."
                            Texts: he said both.
                            sigpic1 Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Dimbulb View Post
                              I think using passages from one writer to interpret the words of another is a terrible idea if the goal is to actually understand what the original authors meant. If you just want to make up arbitrary theology to suit your view, okay, you can use your maxim and interpret one passage through the lens of another to 'prove' anything you happen to want to 'prove', but if you actually want to get to the truth then that saying is awful.
                              For an ordinary book, that might be true, but the Bible is no ordinary book.

                              On the topic of "sinners versus righteous", Paul makes it crystal clear that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." So, yes, while it was Jesus' mission to call sinners to him and not the righteous, the Bible makes it abundantly clear that there is no one who is so righteous that he doesn't need redemption.
                              Last edited by Mountain Man; 09-15-2021, 05:51 AM.
                              Some may call me foolish, and some may call me odd
                              But I'd rather be a fool in the eyes of man
                              Than a fool in the eyes of God


                              From "Fools Gold" by Petra

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