Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Clarity for the thoughts previously posted

 My friend Jonathan suggested I send my post to his pastor, Tim Price. He brings up several valid points that bring much clarity to the thoughts I expressed in my previous post. 

Posted by Tim Price

I read your blog and it doesn’t surprise me that you encountered this kind of response. I’ve encountered the same thing many times with JWs and Mormons, not so much with Catholics who are not generally interested in attracting Protestant beliefs. JWs and Mormons have to harmonize with Protestants as much as possible in order to gain converts. They are trained meticulously to do exactly what you witnessed, i.e. agree with you while holding the broader agenda close to their chests. It’s a method that makes use of the confined space of an argument. You came away from the discussion thinking that you were only dealing with the subject of salvation (the nature of the Gospel) even though, in the background of your mind, you knew there was a broader context, and that, I think, is what disturbs you. At some point, your opponent should have given away his hand, but he didn’t. Part of that is because you should have left the Gospel box and gone for more basic presuppositions. There are two that never fail: Have the opponent define God, and Ask the opponent why he shouldn’t consider YOU a JW/Mormon since you both seem to be in agreement, in other words, Why shouldn’t you assume his evangelical efforts are futile if he sees no reason to believe you are not just like him. The latter reverses the weight of the argument onto him. Neither the JWs nor the Mormons have a Christian view of God so the former requires that they admit to trinitarian and christological heresy. In other words, you have to get control of the argument by dragging them into your box.

I do not suggest ever treating a known cult member as a regenerate Christian for a number of reasons, but primarily because they must repent of their beliefs. You said at one point in your blog, “At the same time, I do not think that saving faith is only found in our evangelical circles. I believe that there are JWs, Mormons and Catholics who have a real saving knowledge of the gospel. I am aware of small factions of Catholics that have a real gospel preached to them.” You use the terms “saving faith” and “saving knowledge seemingly interchangeably and I assume, since you profess deep orthodoxy, that you mean that there is a truth within their system that could be saving. This is partially true and the same can be said for other religions, even very decadent ones. An animistic religion, such as that of the Lakota Sioux, contains very true ideas about the Holy Spirit. The problem is that the truth of it is so admixed with the falseness of the system that one cannot be extracted from the other. It is the pollution that affects the truth, not the reverse (at least in no other way than to morally temper the lie). It is not the lying portion of the system they need to be saved from, but the pollution of the whole system. Everything must be abandoned in order that pure truth may replace the lie. No lie is devoid of truth; man is not capable of constructing anything except by the use of what material God has given. Here’s where one finds himself standing on the Bifrost Bridge... enter C. S. Lewis.

I join those who have great problems with Lewis in this quotation. Judging from his statement in The Last Battle that seeing Tash as Aslan is sufficient for Emeth (which is not coincidentally Hebrew for “truth”) to enter into the Narnian “heaven” — I think I know that Lewis means exactly what he’s saying here, which is essentially universalism. Lewis stands firmly on the Bifrost Bridge between earth (Midgard) and the world of myth (Asgard, which really translates in meaning to “human imagination”, the vault of the world that is within Ymir’s skull). His view of the doctrine of sin is seriously flawed (at least in theory, for Lewis’s public views were never very consistent with his personal experience of salvation.) Lewis’s theory is that Jesus is the “myth become fact” when the reverse is what is taught in Scripture, that the revelation of Christ (the Protoevangelium) became myth. The latter proposition fits the evidence far better and is completely free of Bifrost.

Truth is contained within myth. Paul says as much to the philosophers on Mar’s Hill when he quotes their poets to them, but Paul is not fooled by the scraps of truth they “grasp at” in ignorance, nor is he seeking a table of conference with them. He calls upon them to embrace the resurrection (something they did not believe in) and repent (something they did not believe they needed to do.) He maintained the antithesis and pushed it forward. Evangelism is not a peace-making measure; it is a form of warfare. Paul knew that even though the Greeks had collected a few shards of busted truth, deception and self-deception had done its work on them and shackled them in inextricable delusion. They needed to have their bonds “violently” broken by pure truth and life.

Your quote, “Why do we think people have to be on our side of every issue before they are saved? If we had to embrace even just one facet of the gospel in the fullest sense using our human strength, we could not.” Very true. That is the nature of grace. Understanding always follows faith, never the reverse. “In thy light, I see light” is the starting point of the Christian life. I should say that the fresh convert is about as unchristian in his views as he can be when he has first been quickened from the depths of the world, but the difference is that he is now willing to forsake everything and will willingly let go of anything he ever believed once Truth has demanded it of him. But this is the work of the Spirit and not ours. We must demand that the sinner embrace Truth (the True Gospel), whether he knows that truth or not and that is saving faith... something the sinner does not posses nor is it contained in his deceiving system.

So, when the JW or the Mormon seems to agree on faith, and salvation, and grace, follow those instincts because you know he/she is changing the definitions. Their god is no God, and that defines everything they believe and makes it false... and they know that, which is why they are trying to deceive you. The person you are talking to may not be fully aware of this, but the people who trained him do. Like Walter Martin once said, “Attack the system, not the man.”


I appreciate the views that pastor Price expressed. He really cuts through all of the fluff and bring us back to the Scriptures. Thank you pastor for your input.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Mormons, JWs and Catholics

 It has come to my attention that many of the views I have expressed in this post are in err. I have left it in its entirety only with the intention that others may gain from my original thought process and then the rebuttal

It has also been brought to my attention that I am discourteous in bunching Catholics along with Mormons and JWs. I "recant" this action of mine.  
 I suspect that the content of this post will be very controversial. I am bordering the fringes of our comfortable conservative theology. My intent is to simply write down some thoughts I have had recently. I am mostly drawing from an experience where I conversed with a Mormon about my faith.

Obviously, my intent was to communicate to him the message of the gospel. I was asking him about himself and found that he was pretty devout in his Mormonism. He had done the two year missionary outreach thing that the Mormons encourage and had a fiance that was also a Mormon. He was a very personable fellow and he had a background in farming, an area of common ground between us. As I proceeded (clumsily) with the gospel message, he nodded his head the entire time and communicated that he believed everything I was saying. Now, some might think I presented a watered down gospel, but I was sure to emphasize the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice and the futility of our offering good works for our salvation, which I knew was one of the errors of Mormonism.

After seeing him agreeing with me I couldn't put it together in my head. I was reeling for something that would enable him to see that he did not agree with me so that he would see that he had to make a choice. So, I went over it again. Jesus' sacrifice is the only thing that can put us in a right standing with God. Works do nothing for our eternal salvation. He agreed again! I was sure to spell out what I meant by "repentance", "faith", etc. because I know they like to use different definitions. I preceded to present this concept yet a third time. He assured me that he understood and agreed. I was floored. What could I say to help him understand that he did not have an accurate view of the gospel even though he insisted that he did? What does this mean for my perception of Mormons or at least this fellow?

Now, just to be completely clear, I am not trying to say that Mormons are part of the family of faith. Nor am I trying to imply that the young man I talked with was truly a believer. At the same time, I do not think that saving faith is only found in our evangelical circles. I believe that there are JWs, Mormons and Catholics who have a real saving knowledge of the gospel. I am aware of small factions of Catholics that have a real gospel preached to them. I am just trying to find the most persuasive way to present the gospel to someone who claims to be a Christian because I do not know his state before God.

These are my thoughts at the moment. Looking back on that experience, I feel like I might have had a more solid message, a more persuasive approach, if I approached him from the perspective of being brothers in Christ. And instead of telling him what he supposedly already knows, as if it was something he had not attained, if I exhorted him to simply trust in Christ and live in repentance daily.

This would have turned his mind in the same direction as the former method without alienating him from myself as a messenger of the gospel.

Perhaps I am wrong in thinking this would be a better method, I know I am given to men-pleasing tendencies and this idea might flow out of a desire to not offend anyone and to stay on their good side.

Now for a very controversial quote from our favorite author, C.S. Lewis,

"There are people in other religions who are being led by God’s secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity, and who thus belong to Christ without knowing it. For example, a Buddhist of good will may be led to concentrate more and more on the Buddhist teaching about mercy and to leave in the background (though he might still say he believed) the Buddhist teaching on certain other points. Many of the good Pagans long before Christ’s birth may have been in this position. And always, of course, there are a great many people who are just confused in mind and have a lot of inconsistent beliefs all jumbled up together. Consequently, it is not much use trying to make judgments about Christians and non-Christians in the mass." 
 - Mere Christianity [Ch. 10, 209]

C.S. Lewis has been scorned a lot for this statement and I don't know that I agree 100%. It just seems to me that in a religion where the Bible is used (among other literature), that some people will inevitably be saved through the reading of the Word.

Think about Abraham. He was an idolater (Joshua 24:2) who God called to himself out of his idolatry. In his story, we do not see a human means by which God told Abraham (then Abram) the way of true worship. He simple revealed his plan to him. It reminds me of my time in Chad, where I heard of Muslims having dreams that led them to Jesus.

Why do we think people have to be on our side of every issue before they are saved? If we had to embrace even just one facet of the gospel in the fullest sense using our human strength, we could not.

I would really like to hear some input from others about this. I know it is controversial and honestly I don't care to get into a debate about what cults believe and whether they can be saved while still practicing their cultish rites. I mostly want to hear other methods and ideas you might have for cases like these and an opinion on my idea.

Thank you for reading.


This is just a side note, but I feel such a freedom to write these "strange" thoughts now that I have dealt with my idolatry of pursuit of marriage. Before, I would be far too worried about other people's opinions of me, always trying to look like I am "normal" so that crazy things like this wouldn't get in the way of relationships.