Welby peacemakers 2
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Tweeting the truth in love: Justin Welby affirms an unpalatable article of faith

 

We have a blogging, vlogging and tweeting Archbishop of Canterbury. He’s on Flickr, too. Justin Welby has fathomed that the medium is the message: the social network is the evangelion; the soundbite is the beatitude. And if the message has no virality, it’s a paragraph of Koine Greek. It is good to have a blogging, vlogging and tweeting Archbishop of Canterbury who’s also on Flickr, unless you happen to be the Archbishop’s Director of Communications, for whom it must sometimes be a cause of great consternation – if not trichotillomaniacal grief – that her boss occasionally wanders off up Cranmer’s Tower and spontaneously tweets whatever’s on his mind, without the requisite filtering for a potential gaffe or spinning for popular consumption. We must pray fervently for Ailsa Anderson.

Yesterday, Justin Welby tweeted: “When we are not at peace with God through Jesus Christ, we cannot be peacemakers – or bringers of justice – in the world.” Gosh, there’s an unpalatable truth in an age of Hickian universalism and religious relativity, in which all spiritual, moral, social and cultural development must be expressed in the common currency of multifaith shared understanding. There is no space in the postmodern paradigm for fundamentalist uniqueness or substantive conviction, except, of course, for the absolutised fundamental conviction that there can be no space for fundamentalist uniqueness or substantive conviction. This is the principle by which all morality must now be evaluated, and soteriology assessed.

By tweeting “When we are not at peace with God through Jesus Christ, we cannot be peacemakers – or bringers of justice – in the world”, Justin Welby proclaims that there is no peace except that which may be found through reconciliation with God in Jesus Christ; and that there is no true justice in the world except that which derives from the Bible. It is an unpalatable article of faith: Article XIII, to be precise:

XIII. Of Works before Justification
Works done before the grace of Christ, and the Inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ, neither do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as the School-authors say) deserve grace of congruity: yea rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.

Is this the most useful title for this Article? Is grace ever given before justification? Doesn’t Romans 13 state that ‘all powers are ordained of God‘; that ‘rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil; and that the ruler ‘is the minister of God to thee for good‘? If the non-believing ruler may minister goodness and restrain evil, might they not be peacemakers or bringers of justice? Is Justin Welby just plain wrong?

Well, we must remember that archbishops of Canterbury do not speak ex cathedra, and they are certainly not infallible ex Twittedra. And yet..

On this matter Justin Welby is absolutely correct: The truth is that no good work can precede the grace of God, since without that grace it cannot be performed. But good works may precede justification, and actually do precede it, for grace is given before justification, so that we might perform those things by which we arrive at justification.

On the day of Pentecost, after the address of the Apostle Peter to the gathered crowds, we read: ‘Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?‘ (Acts 2:37). Here was the grace of God at work: the grace of compunction was granted. But Peter’s reply demonstrates that even those who had thus received grace were not yet justified: ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost’ (v38).

Good works done before justification by Jesus and regeneration by the Holy Spirit are pleasing to God – but not all of them. Peace may be pursued and proclaimed, but it may not be true peace (Jer 6:14). Jesus is the true peacemaker (Jn 14:27). Justice may be sought and dispensed, but it may not be true justice (Ex 21:23-5). Jesus dispenses true justice (Lk 18:1-8) It is only those good works which precede the action of God’s grace in the heart of man which are pleasing to God.

The Scholastics (the ‘School-authors’ of this Article) were inclined toward the semi-Pelagian error on the question of God’s grace: that is, that man might be entitled to receive initial grace as a reward for works done in his own strength; that the exercise of his natural faculties was an incremental transition toward grace which might merit God’s reward, but that God would be bound to reward it even greater if it were wholly dependent on the Holy Spirit.

God is no man’s debtor: salvation is not a man-made event. But grace is sometimes given before justification. The good that is done in the pursuit of peace and toward justice – but without knowledge of Christ and the aid of the Holy Spirit – has merit. God looks with favour upon the good works of men who are outside the Covenant because grace is manifestly at work outside the Church and may influence men before they are justified. But it is not initiative of salvation. As the Archbishop of Canterbury rightly says: “When we are not at peace with God through Jesus Christ, we cannot be peacemakers – or bringers of justice – in the world.” True peacemaking is an act of divine grace through Jesus Christ. True justice is ascribed to God and mediated through Jesus Christ.

We have in Justin Welby an Archbishop of Canterbury who believes the fundamental articles of faith. Scoff, if you like. Dismiss him, if it makes you feel better. But he blogs an illustrious theology of reconciliation; vlogs a pastoral heart of peace; and tweets profound truths. He doesn’t look too bad on Flickr, either.

  • Well done ++Justin.

    “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb 11:6)
    “and everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Rom 14:23) (in a different context but I think still relevant).

    • Ivan M

      .. and everything that does not come from faith is sin… How does this apply to a situation where an atheist looks after his dying mother? Perhaps he is a Christian in spite of himself?

      Faith and, or Good Works are parallel paths to salvation. In the famous parable on the destiny of sheep and goats, Matthew 25:31-46, there is no mention of faith. The parable of the cheating steward, Luke 16, shows the way forward for the children of the world. Do good unto others, so that those whom you help in this world, will plead your case before the King.

      • An atheist looking after his dying mother is a good thing, but – to quote the previous article (Article XII) “cannot endure the severity of God’s judgement”. None of the works that we do are truly good, every good thing that we do is in some way corrupted. For example, I may do a good thing (e.g. help an old lady across the street) but what I may actually want, at least in part, is for people to see me helping out and think that I’m a good person. Once you start to look into our motives and our hearts I think it’s fairly easy to see that nothing we do is truly a “good” work. Not 100%. And yet, if we desire to please God through good works, 100% is what is required.

        Faith and Good works are most certainly not parallel paths to salvation. You cannot read one passage of Scripture and set it against another (article XX, “neither may [the Church] so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another”).

        To give two examples apart from the ones I mentioned before: Gal 2:16, “So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.” Or Rom 3:28, “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”

        In the parable of the sheep and the goats, as you mention, the qualification is v40 “these brothers and sisters of mine” – it’s not ‘doing good’ indiscriminately, but how Christians treat each other. Faith is presupposed.

        And I disagree with your understanding of Luke 16, but that’s probably too long to go into here. But suffice it to say I think Jesus is in no way trying to commend good works without faith!

        • Ivan M

          Thank you for reply. I disagree totally with it however. Catholics such as me, have some leeway on this matter.

        • CliveM

          However an atheist may simply love his mother when he cares for her without ulterior motives. I know what you are saying and in a life lived sin will out way the good, but I don’t believe all acts are selfish.

          • I’m not saying that all acts are selfish – just that all of them spring from mixed motives. Let’s say loving one’s mother is 99% pure, but 1% from selfish motives. (I know you could never divide things up in this way, but for the sake of argument). That’s still not 100%, is it? It’s still not a truly good deed.

          • Cressida de Nova

            It saddens me to hear you say that you think that all acts have an element of selfishness in them. There are saints out there unassuming unknown humble and poor who devote their lives to alleviating the suffering of others. I am blessed to know some of them,in my case some wonderful Catholic nuns who live in the third world. I pray you have a similar experience…it will change your life (for the better!)

          • Perhaps you could ask those nuns what they think about whether they are doing what they do out of completely pure motives.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Judging from this response you have not met any decent people in your life. Open your mind to the possibility that grace and Christ like goodness exists.

          • On the contrary, the most decent people I’ve met are the ones who are the most aware of their own failures. That’s why I said, ask your nun friends. If I were a betting man I would bet they don’t think they have 100% pure motives and are painfully aware of that fact.

      • The Parable teaches us that certain people go to heaven because they did certain things, and others are cast into hell because they did not do those things.

        Does this mean that all one has to do is good works for salvation? Absolutely not. Faith is necessary. To be consistent with the rest of the message of the Gospel, we must say that those who will enter Paradise will all have Faith. For reasons of His own, our Lord did not mention Faith in this judgment scene.

        All we are left with really is that the good works performed by the Blessed caused their salvation, while the omission of the same works merited eternal damnation for the reprobate.

        • Ivan M

          I did not only say that one has to do good works for salvation. I said it is a parallel path to salvation.

          For consider; there are about 5 billion people on this earth now, who for one reason or another do not believe in Christ. Are they all doomed? What kind of universal salvation is this?
          The Christians have humanised all the religions of the world. So that for example, the Hindus have suddenly discovered that the untouchables are human after all. The Christian religion has reformed all other religions including its own parent, Judaism. This is the glory of the Christian faith.

  • bluedog

    ‘But good works may precede justification, and actually do precede it, for grace is given before justification, so that we might perform those things by which we arrive at justification.’

    Excellent, Your Grace. Your communicant is no theologian, but this comment does appear to refute the dismal creed of pre-destination, pursuant to which there is no respite from Doom.

    • IanCad

      Couldn’t agree with you more bluedog, but I fear the slumbering Calvinists on this blog will pursue you without respite.

    • Actually, that doesn’t necessarily follow. It really depends whether enough grace is given to everyone to work at our salvation and, if so, why and how this becomes effective for some but not for all.

  • Sybaseguru

    At Keswick recently I heard the following description of Grace which doesn’t quite reconcile with this, but seems a lot clearer.

    If I fall out with a good friend, there are 3 scenarios:- a) I apologise and have my apology accepted – result is restoration of relationship. b) I apologise and have my apology rejected – result is no restoration of relationship.c) I don’t apologise and even though my apology would have been accepted there is no restoration of relationship.

    Grace is that God has accepted our apology, but we have to repent for the relationship to be restored. Grace requires us to accept it otherwise it has no value to us in its restorative effect.

    I found the view of Grace in the article rather confusing. But then I don’t have a degree in theology.

    • David

      Don’t assume that those with said degrees speak, or even think, with clarity.
      During my theology degree course, I found that the academic theologians, who were usually in possession of theology doctorates, were, in the main, the most wordy, unclear and pompous set of academics for any of the three subjects I’ve studied at degree level. Clarity of thinking or the elegant, economic expression of their thoughts, was seldom their aim, it seemed to me and my mature fellow students.

    • chiefofsinners

      Grace is far more than an apology accepted. We receive in Christ far more than we lost in Adam. Grace restores all creation and elevates mankind to be brothers and sisters of Christ.

      • Sybaseguru

        I don’t see how that can be. God created it perfectly. Surely nothing can be better?

        • Ponder the “Felix culpa”.

          Man’s situation has indeed been elevated as we become One with Christ and, through this, adopted Sons of God.

        • Royinsouthwest

          In the Authorised Version creation is described as “good” and not “perfect.” Although I haven’t checked other English translations I think (from my admittedly unreliable memory) that they also describe the world before the Fall as “good.”

          I know nothing of Hebrew but I wonder if there is any significance in the use of the word “good” instead of “perfect”? Something may be without any flaws and yet still not quite as good as it can be. Without the Fall would the world have become even better through Adam and Even playing the role they were created for?

        • chiefofsinners

          Adam had the possibility of sin and ruin. We have the eternal sinless state to look forward to. Adam had an earthly body, we shall have a heavenly body. God communed with Adam at certain times but we will live for ever in His presences. In Adam we are made a little lower than the Angels, in Christ we are crowned with glory and honour.

  • Albert

    The Scholastics (the ‘School-authors’ of this Article) were inclined toward the semi-Pelagian error on the question of God’s grace: that is, that man might be entitled to receive initial grace as a reward for works done in his own strength

    I would like to see the evidence of that. I can’t see that it is consistent with Catholic teaching as expressed at Trent:

    It is furthermore declared that in adults the beginning of that justification must proceed from the predisposing grace of God through Jesus Christ, that is, from His vocation, whereby, without any merits on their part, they are called; that they who by sin had been cut off from God, may be disposed through His quickening and helping grace to convert themselves to their own justification by freely assenting to and cooperating with that grace; so that, while God touches the heart of man through the illumination of the Holy Ghost, man himself neither does absolutely nothing while receiving that inspiration, since he can also reject it, nor yet is he able by his own free will and without the grace of God to move himself to justice in His sight.

    Hence, when it is said in the sacred writings:
    Turn ye to me, and I will turn to you,[19] we are reminded of our liberty; and when we reply:
    Convert us, O Lord, to thee, and we shall be converted,[20] we confess that we need the grace of God.

    And Trent here seems to be following the greatest of all Scholastics, Thomas Aquinas:

    There are four things which are accounted to be necessary for the justification of the ungodly, viz. the infusion of grace, the movement of the free-will towards God by faith, the movement of the free-will towards sin, and the remission of sins. The reason for this is that, as stated above (Article 1), the justification of the ungodly is a movement whereby the soul is moved by God from a state of sin to a state of justice. Now in the movement whereby one thing is moved by another, three things are required: first, the motion of the mover; secondly, the movement of the moved; thirdly, the consummation of the movement, or the attainment of the end. On the part of the Divine motion, there is the infusion of grace; on the part of the free-will which is moved, there are two movements–of departure from the term “whence,” and of approach to the term “whereto”; but the consummation of the movement or the attainment of the end of the movement is implied in the remission of sins; for in this is the justification of the ungodly completed.

  • Martin

    Slightly muddled here, justification comes by grace, hence the sinner is saved/justified and thus, by faith, which is also a gift, will do the good work of repentance. From that arises a hatred of sin and sorrow for it.

    While the rulers may be a source of good to us by their works they are not good before God and even those acts which bring good are wicked.

  • David

    Good to see the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion featured – excellent ! Your Grace.

    Salvation is through our faith in Christ our Saviour – Article 11.

    Good works flow from faith; but in themselves, without faith, do not provide salvation. – Article 12.

    But Christians do not have a monopoly on good works, clearly.

    Predestination is a difficult one for me to accept (Article 17). It is unappealing to my 20/21C mind. But ultimately I bow to God’s greater wisdom, awaiting His completeness in all things, in all manner of things.

    • dannybhoy

      ‘Predestination is a difficult one for me to accept (Article 17). It is unappealing to my 20/21C mind. But ultimately I bow to God’s greater wisdom, awaiting His completeness in all things, in all manner of things.’

      There is no problem with predestination.
      Unless you don’t happen to be one of the Elect….

  • len

    The Reformation re- established basic Christian Truth (essentially the same Truth that demonic forces have tried to conceal or repress and are still active in doing so for centuries) and are highlighted by these ;

    Salvation is through our faith in Christ our Saviour – Article 11.
    Good works flow from faith; but in themselves, without faith, do not provide salvation. – Article 12.

    This two facts also pose a great threat also to organised religion(hence the counter reformation launched by the Jesuits) as it takes power and’ authority’ from the ‘priestly system’ and places it back in the hands of God where it belongs.

    • Albert

      The irony of this post is that Catholicism proclaims the following:

      Salvation is through our faith in Christ our Saviour
      Good works flow from faith; but in themselves, without faith, do not provide salvation.

      • William Lewis

        Ivan M says that Faith and/or Good Works lead to salvation which seems to contradict your Catholic proclamation, no?

        • Albert

          Good works will not by themselves lead to salvation. However, good works, done by grace, proceeding from faith are necessary to salvation.

          I do disagree with Len, therefore, but I was amused that his doctrine as he expressed it was perfectly Catholic. Sometimes I think that part of the problem of division is that the differences between us are misunderstood, and therefore, we end up further from each other than need be.

          • William Lewis

            So would you agree that good works are a necessary expression of faith but that it is faith, not good works, that lead to salvation?

            I do not understand Ivan’s statement either. Seems somewhat heretical to me.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Spot on William.

          • When you say “good works are a necessary expression of faith” what do you mean?

          • William Lewis

            That good works necessarily proceed from a true (living) faith.

          • DanJ0

            Heh. I’ve been arguing exactly that elsewhere!

          • Or from the grace of God as we respond to Him? And “a true (living) faith” is something of a tautology.

          • William Lewis

            I am sure that God’s grace is involved at many levels but I spoke of a true (living) faith in contrast to the dead faith described in the Bible as the faith without good works.

          • Then “good works” do not always rest on faith – but all are prompted by God’s grace?

          • William Lewis

            I believe so.

          • So does Happy Jack. Except Jack would add that those promptings of God’s grace can be the first stirrings of a move towards faith.

          • Albert

            Good works, done by grace which is received through faith, lead to salvation. So good works are not only an expression of faith (though they are that), they are in themselves justifying. I think it is helpful here to clarify the meaning of some words. People might ask “What is the cause of justification?” But “cause” is a difficult word. If I see a triangle and I say “What is the cause of that shape being a triangle?”, then there are different answers. The efficient cause is the person who drew it, but the formal cause is that it has three sides. Now if someone asks “What is the cause of that person being justified?” then again, there are different answers. The efficient cause of his justification is not his good works, as I understand it, but the mercy of God. The formal cause is that he is just. Now to be just is to be good, or as Trent puts it:

            the single formal cause is the justice of God, not that by which He Himself is just, but that by which He makes us just, that, namely, with which we being endowed by Him, are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and not only are we reputed but we are truly called and are just, receiving justice within us, each one according to his own measure, which the Holy Ghost distributes to everyone as He wills, and according to each one’s disposition and cooperation.

            Now if we deny this formal cause, as the Protestants seem to do, then the person is no more justified than a shape which lacks three sides is a triangle. But scripture says people are justified by faith, ergo. Given that this is the nature of justification, Trent continues:

            For which reason it is most truly said that faith without works is dead and of no profit, and in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision, but faith that worketh by charity.

            And finally,

            Whence also they hear immediately the word of Christ:
            If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

            I find it odd that Protestants are so sure their doctrine is that of scripture.

          • William Lewis

            So what do you make of John 6:28-29?

          • Albert

            I would say there are two possibilities. Either the work of God, means something we must do, or it means (as it literally implies) it is the work of God (within us). Now if it is the latter then I don’t see the problem. But if it is the former then the passage falsifies those Protestants who are so anxious not to do any works toward their salvation that they make the denial that faith is a work central to their position. Now that position is clearly in trouble in the light of the fact that Jesus clearly calls faith a work.

            However, I would defend the Protestant here: Jesus is saying faith is not our work, but God’s work. And that position seems to me to fit with either view. But Jesus does not teach faith alone, rather that, from faith (which is God’s work in us) other things follow:

            Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

            Assuming the “we” here is plural and not royal:

            “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him. We must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work.

            And finally:

            A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another…If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.

            So in the end, John’s Gospel agrees with Paul as cited by Trent:

            For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

          • Ivan M

            One can always reconcile these good works performed by those who do not believe in Christ, by quoting another part of Scripture that says, that the will to do good itself comes from God. History has changed when Christ came into the world, affecting believers and non-believers alike.

            God has to answer those who are oriented to Him. It is His job.

        • Ivan M

          I speak only for myself. It is not Catholic doctrine. But we do have a prayer around Easter, that prays for all who find God by doing what is right.

      • len

        Pity Catholics added’ all that other stuff’ Albert will negates the above?

        • Albert

          I was just observing Len, that for your judgement on the wickedness of Catholicism, when you wanted to contrast it with your understanding of the Gospel stripped of Catholic “additions” you still ended up with Catholicism.

          • Jack’s been a Catholic for over 60 years and yet he still doesn’t fully understand all its depth. He never recognises the Church as presented by those who wish to condemn her.

          • Albert

            Brilliant comment.

          • Powerdaddy

            Hmmm, 60 years a Catholic and still not able to fully understand.
            Brilliant comment indeed.

          • Albert

            Only something superficial could be understood in 60 years.

          • Powerdaddy

            lol
            He will never understand it. It has nothing to do with Christianity being superficial. It’s because it (Christianity) is nonsense. You can never fully understand nonsense. No matter how long you may live.

          • Albert

            So let me just get this clear. Some of the greatest minds in history have been Christians: St Augustine, St Thomas Aquinas, Descartes, Pascal, Newton, Faraday, Planck, Lemaître, not to mention people who have been outstanding in other fields, like Shakespeare, Bach and Goethe. And yet, you’ve seen something they could not see – that Christianity is nonsense. And you’ve worked this out not on the basis of a careful understanding of the subject – we both know from past experience, that you have very little knowledge to back up your opinions. How extraordinary! How could they not see what you can see?

            I suppose it’s possible that you know better than they do, and that you are cleverer than they. But then again perhaps it is just that you are so uninformed that you assume all these people must be stupid because they are Christians. And so you are stuck on an anti-evidential circular argument.

          • Powerdaddy

            Very funny Albert!
            I could say the same about you and your rejection of all the other religions! Are all these followers of other religions as stupid as me? How about the non religious? No intelligence in their ranks?
            Only Christians, according to Albert, have any intelligence! !
            Nice try but terrible fail.

            Let’s see how honest your intelligence is. Because this is at heart of rejecting or accepting whatever religion. Honesty. Can you think of a better system you God has in place with all his supposed power? If you answer no then you are either stupid or dishonest or both.

            And we both know from experience your God given morals killed everyone in the 2 scenarios.
            And you still think your morals are good? How extraordinarily!

            What is your feelings on everlasting torture? A fate worse than death?
            Explain to me how eternal punishment can ever be morally good?

          • Albert

            I could say the same about you and your rejection of all the other religions!

            Do keep up Powerdaddy. I never said people who reject Christianity are stupid. It was your claim that Christianity is incomprehensible because it is nonsense, that showed you up. I never said that about other religions, and so your argument here is against a straw man (as usual).

            Can you think of a better system your God has in place with all his supposed power?

            A better system to do what? And why is the question relevant?

            And we both know from experience your God given morals killed everyone in the 2 scenarios.

            No we don’t. I assume this is back to your dodgy exegesis.

            What are your feelings on everlasting torture? A fate worse than death?
            Explain to me how eternal punishment can ever be morally good?

            If it is just, it is morally – by definition. If it is unjust then it does not happen. It’s very simple.

          • Powerdaddy

            Explain how ever lasting torture can ever be just.
            On what grounds could eternal punishment be seen as morally good?
            Do you agree with the concept of one sentient being punishing and torturing another forever?

          • Albert

            Punishment can be just. If punishment is just, it is morally good. Punishment is just if the punishment fits the crime. Therefore, if the crime merits eternal punishment, eternal punishment is just and morally good. That follows as a matter of logic – unless you believe that punishment can never be just.

          • Powerdaddy

            What crimes merit eternal punishment?

          • Albert

            I don’t need to answer that to believe the points I made, but I would have thought eternal crimes merit eternal punishment.

          • Powerdaddy

            But you agree with the concept of eternal torture in some circumstances? Is this correct?

          • Albert

            The word “torture” is yours. I think it has connotations which go beyond what I am saying, which is presumably why you keep using that word, instead of the word that I use. The word I would use is “punishment”. If justice merits everlasting punishment, then yes, of course I agree with it – that is, I agree that it is just. But that’s just a tautology.

            That is a million miles away from your position in which you would permit genocide in some circumstances. Genocide is unjust killing – killing the innocent just because of their race, colour of their skin etc. (provided other criteria are met). I cannot see how someone who permits unjust killing of the innocent can possibly worry about the just punishment of the guilty.

          • Powerdaddy

            I’m left wondering why you would use such an vague term as punishment. Let’s see why….

            Punisnment: meaning -the infliction or imposition of a penalty as retribution for an offence.

            But what is the penalty, Albert?

            Rev 14:10 the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out
            without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb
            11 and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

            Rev 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

            Rev 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

            Along with…

            Matt 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

            Sounds torturous, doesn’t it Albert?

            Read your bible again Albert. The scripture is very clear.
            So you agree that eternal TORTURE, because that is our penalty of Gods punishment, is morally good Albert?

          • Albert

            I really wish you were more precise in your reading, especially when you are making accusations. I said that torture has connotations that punishment does not have. Here is a dictionary definition:

            the action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment or in order to force them to do or say something:

            “the torture of political prisoners”

            “confessions extracted under torture”

            Now that I would object to. To inflict pain in order to get a confession for example, is to use the person as a means to an end, and that is wrong. That is not to say that all definitions of torture have this connotation, but in order to avoid it, I use the word punishment.

            Secondly, I have not talked about punishment, but just punishment. You cannot say that a just punishment is wrong without contradicting yourself. You first said that it is always wrong to kill innocent people (that is, you said that, when you thought it suited your argument) but then you said that you would be in favour of genocide (the unjust killing of innocent people) if the circumstances required it. For the same reason, if the circumstances require it, you would be in favour of torture as defined above.

            So you accept unjust torture, and you accept unjust killing, but you oppose just punishment. It appears you have only have rhetoric to defend your position, not argument, for once you have given up on the law of non-contradiction, nothing you say has any meaning any more. So let’s put this to the test.

            Just punishment may justly be inflicted.

            Do you agree with that, yes or no?

          • Powerdaddy

            lol Albert.

            Fast and loose with words meaning to suit your silly morals.

            To torture is to cause extreme physical or mental pain.
            Example. Sick individuals who enjoy causing great physical pain to animals are TORTURING it, aren’t they Albert? What confession can you gain from an animal, Albert?

            I’m sure you enjoy the idea of non Christians being TORTURED for eternity or you wouldn’t subscribe to such a disgusting concept.

            More evidence of Gods TORTURE.

            2 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.

            “Agony in this fire” Albert! Sounds torturous again, doesn’t it Albert?

            Do you agree endless TORTURE can be justified and be morally good?

          • Albert

            Fast and loose with words meaning to suit your silly morals.

            To torture is to cause extreme physical or mental pain.

            The definition I gave you is from the Oxford English Dictionary. Now again, it’s possible you know better than the OED but I doubt it.

            Secondly, you’ve also missed the wider point I made:

            That is not to say that all definitions of torture have this connotation, but in order to avoid it, I use the word punishment.

            In other words, if the word torture means nothing more than to cause extreme physical or mental pain then obviously, I was saying that I would accept the word. The trouble is, the word normally means more than that. While punishment, especially just punishment, excludes those connotations. Therefore, punishment is a better word than torture. But in a sense, you know that, that’s why you keep using the word torture – because it implies (even if it does not require) unjust suffering.

            Yet again, you have also just avoided a whole range of points I made. You are not in a position to complain about just punishment when you have openly advocated unjust punishment in other circumstances. Indeed, as I pointed out last time, and as you have, as always ignored this time, I pointed out that on your logic, torture – even in the sense I object to is acceptable on your principles. Indeed, if a greater good could be occasioned from everlasting torture of an innocent person then, according to your logic, that would be acceptable.

            Finally of course, you did not bother to address the question around which the whole of my position turns:

            Just punishment may justly be inflicted.

            Do you agree with that, yes or no?

            So, to sum up:

            1. You think you know better than the OED what words mean.
            2. You fail to see the point I explicitly made and therefore answer one I didn’t make.
            3. You accept genocide as a moral policy if the result will be good enough.
            4. Therefore, you advocate unjust torture of the innocent, provided the cause is good enough.
            4. But you oppose the just punishment of the guilty.
            5. Moreover, you have previously said that you think all killing of innocent people is wrong.

            6. You claim that Christianity is immoral.

            I’m just wondering by which of these moral principles you come to point 6. I’m only asking because your position is morally contradictory. But I don’t expect I’ll get a reply.

          • Powerdaddy

            Eloquence and stupidity rarely go hand in hand- but then there’s a character by the guise of Albert!
            The punishment is eternity in hell. In hell souls are TORTURED “for ever and ever” as the scriptures I have shown you confirm.

            1.The Christian god is a loving, just creator.
            2. Refusing to accept Jesus’ gift of salvation renders an eternity of torment.
            This central Christian doctrine leaves skeptics with a slew of objections. Why does God judge belief? Beliefs have little impact upon the world relative to the physical actions they inspire. We even realize this in our courts. A just being would punish wrongdoings and let the criminal go after accounting for their actions. Why would God trust finite beings with their infinite future?

            Nothing I have advocated would be as terrible and sick as eternal TORTURE. Do you enjoy the idea of Gods TORTURE of your nearest and dearest non Christians? If not Why not?

            Do you think it is morally good to TORTURE endlessly for ‘crimes’?

          • Albert

            2. Refusing to accept Jesus’ gift of salvation renders an eternity of torment.

            Punishment is rendered for sin. Refusing to accept Jesus’ gift of salvation – assuming it is done knowingly – refuses the life-line from the punishment due to sin.

            Why does God judge belief?

            An integral part of living faith is love. It is the choosing of that love that is meritorious.

            Beliefs have little impact upon the world relative to the physical actions they inspire.

            That is a big impact! But the issue is the state of the will.

            A just being would punish wrongdoings and let the criminal go after accounting for their actions.

            As does God. You seem to keep avoiding the fact that punishment is just. Therefore, if just punishment has been completed, there is no more punishment, only heaven.

            Why would God trust finite beings with their infinite future?

            Autonomy is part of what it is to be human. Take it away, and we cease to be human.

            Nothing I have advocated would be as terrible and sick as eternal TORTURE.

            As I have shown that isn’t true:

            1. You believe in genocide: unjust killing of innocent people. That is far worse, morally, than the just punishment of the guilty.

            2. In permitting genocide in a “good cause” you permit anything in a “good cause.” You have undermined the concept of justice, and so right and wrong don’t mean anything on your system. That is far worse than the just punishment of the guilty.

            Do you enjoy the idea of Gods TORTURE of your nearest and dearest non Christians? If not Why not?

            For the second time, that is not a view I hold.

            Do you think it is morally good to TORTURE endlessly for ‘crimes’?

            I have already given, twice, reason why I don’t use the word “torture”. You have not answered this, but still persist in attributing the position to me. Why? Because you don’t believe in justice.

            Now for the third time will you please answer my question:

            Just punishment may justly be inflicted.

            Do you agree with that, yes or no?

            That is the central issue here. And that is why you will not answer it. You cannot answer it without undermining your whole position. But since you have undermined the concept of justice in permitting the unjust killing of the innocent in genocide (in a good cause, of course!), perhaps the concept of justice has no meaning for you.

          • Powerdaddy

            We have different ideas of what is just.
            Why are the victims in God’s great flood not innocents caught in a genocide?
            Why is hell not torture when the only recorded quote from someone residing there, according to your bible, says “I am in agony in this fire”
            Why do you disbelieve the bible when it is plain to see what is written?
            For what crime would you allow an eternity of punishment?

          • Albert

            You haven’t given a definition of “just” and neither have I. I have said only that just punishment is not wrong. If you wish to disagree with that then I say that you do not know what words mean. If you agree then what are you arguing about?

            Why are the victims in God’s great flood not innocents caught in a genocide?

            Because victims of a flood are victims of the consequences of the world simply working – working which is a good thing in itself. They are not, as they would be on your defended genocide, victims of your deliberate choice to kill them. The cases are not alike.

            Why is hell not torture when the only recorded quote from someone residing there, according to your bible, says “I am in agony in this fire”

            Why don’t you read what I’ve said on that? If you do, you will already have your answer. I think I have answered that three times.

            Why do you disbelieve the bible when it is plain to see what is written?

            I don’t disbelieve the Bible. It’s just that I am not so illiterate to think that what is written is automatically its meaning. When God says he is dry rot to the house of Judah, I am not disbelieving the Bible if I say I don’t believe God is a kind of fungi.

            For what crime would you allow an eternity of punishment?

            I have answered that once already. Why should I answer again? If you didn’t read it then, why should I assume you will read it now?

          • Powerdaddy

            Albert, so disingenuous. Dishonest.
            Because victims of a flood are victims of the consequences of the world simply working – working which is a good thing in itself. They are not, as they would be on your defended genocide, victims of your deliberate choice to kill them. The cases are not alike.
            You know full well what I’m referring to.

            Gen 6:7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”

            A very deliberate act by God Albert.
            So again with no room to be dishonest, why are the people and animals killed in God’s flood not innocent victims caught in a genocide?

          • Albert

            You know full well what I’m referring to.

            I didn’t know what you were referring to. And you are foolish to think so – after all, you could just come back and correct me. It occurred to me that perhaps you meant that, but I wasn’t sure. The point I made occurred to me first and remains important in understanding how God’ action in the world works, this I decided to go for that and see if you would clarify the matter.

            Now you have made it clear that you are referring to Gen.6.7 and I have three easy answers. The first one touching the meaning of the story, is that it is an act of justice. This is obvious from the text you quote, except that you edit it to avoid this point (shall I call you dishonest and disingenuous or do you simply google things and have no intelligent idea of the context?):

            The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.

            You see, according to the story, according to the very passage you quote, the Flood is a punishment for sin. That is, it remains an act of justice. This is infinitely far from your Hitlerite, genocidal approach which is never an act of justice. Therefore, your accusation is unjust or unintelligent.

            Secondly, I am not committed to seeing the story as a literal historical event, nor am I committed to seeing it by itself, rather than in the context of the analogia fidei, that is, of seeing the passage in the light of other passages of scripture . I suspect there was a great flood, and that people reflected on it, and used it as a vehicle to convey a truth about God: namely that he is able to punish. But I am not committed to the view that this is the last word on the matter.

            Thirdly, you have no idea of God’s action in the world. God does not have capriciously to cause something to happen. If we sin, we often place ourselves in the position in which the goodness of the world punishes us.

            I can only assume you are an atheist, because atheists seem to specialise in speaking so embarrassingly with such judgemental self-confidence on topics about which they evidently know nothing. That is a kind of dishonesty in itself, unless the person concerned is so thick as not to know their ignorance.

            And still you will not engage with the salient point. For the fourth time, I think:

            Just punishment may justly be inflicted.

            Do you agree with that, yes or no?

            I answer your points because I can. You never answer this point because you can’t.

            Besides, let’s just remember where your arguments have led you: you accept genocide. That means you have no morality.

          • Powerdaddy

            The worst thing about the Flood myth is not its ludicrousness, but its morality.

            Isn’t God all-knowing, and therefore knowing of all possibilities
            aside from a global flood which killed babies and that required a family
            to commit incest and their subsequent children to do the same down all
            generations?

            The Bible says the flood was motived by the “wickedness of the human race” Genesis 6:5
            and God presumably desired to destroy evil. However, there is no
            recorded difference in human behaviour before or after the flood. It was
            therefore a futile exercise and shows God is rather bad at planning
            (rather like putting a tree in the Garden of Eden and setting up creation to be corrupted).

            You say “it remains an act of justice” so you see this a morally good.

            I see genocide.

            You say Just punishment may justly be inflicted.
            I can’t agree anything in Noahs story is just. What parts do you think are just in Noahs story?
            The mass killing (genocide), or all the incest that had to take place to repopulate the earth?

          • Albert

            I have answered your points up to now. But you do not answer my questions. I will not continue this correspondence with you, until you answer the question, which I now put for the fifth time:

            Just punishment may justly be inflicted.

            Do you agree with that, yes or no?

          • Powerdaddy

            “Just punishment may be justly inflicted”

            As a statement on its own, I agree.

            But problems arise with the individuals interpretation of what is just.

            Is it just to punish (torture) infinitely for finite crimes?

            Is it ever morally good to commit genocide on a world wide scale, drowning trillions of living humans and animals for crimes (even if you quite literally have limitless other courses of actions you could take to achieve your goal)?

            You think it is.

            I think you’re funny.

          • Albert

            I think you need to slow down and see if we can follow where the logic goes – remember how you rushed in and one time said killing people was always wrong, but then agreed to genocide? You also need to try to recall what I have said so that you stop imputing to me things I have not said and do not believe.

            Is it just to punish (torture) infinitely for finite crimes?

            Of course not, and I never said that neither do I believe it.

            Is it ever morally good to commit genocide on a world wide scale, drowning trillions of living humans and animals for crimes

            No.

            You think it is.

            Well obviously I don’t.

            I think you’re funny.

            !!

          • Powerdaddy

            You do not agree with eternal punishment ?

            You do not agree with a world wide drowning as a show of justice to be morally good?

            You do not agree with the God you worship?

          • Albert

            You see, you just don’t get any of this!

            I never said I did not agree with eternal punishment. I said I did not agree with eternal punishment for a finite crime. I also said that I do not believe it is ever morally good to commit genocide on a world wide scale.

            But neither of these things is done by God. If you were more precise in your thinking, or your expression, or you at least stuck to asking questions that arise from what I have said, rather than your overhasty characterisation of what you think or hope I said, this conversation would go somewhere.

            In terms of what I have actually agreed to, you and I seem to be in agreement: Just punishment may be justly inflicted. Where we disagree, is that, beyond that, you allow for genocide (in a good cause of course).

          • Powerdaddy

            You said ” the Flood is a punishment for sin. That is, it remains an act of justice.”

            Genocide definition: the deliberate killing of a large group of people.

            The flood is the very definition of genocide.

            Conclusion.

            You agree genocide is just.

            I have NEVER said I think genocide is just. I stated I would be in favour of a smaller one over a bigger one.

          • Albert

            Do you think I cannot Google? This is the definition which you appear to have quoted selectively:

            the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular nation or ethnic group.

            Now if you look here:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocide_definitions

            you will see that the bit you missed is part of the definition according to most uses. If you look at the etymology, which gives you the literal meaning, it is this:

            Origin

            1940s: from Greek genos ‘race’ + -cide.

            It is that definition I am using. Now if genocide entails killing people for their ethnicity, then that is obviously unjust. But that is not what we are talking about. Therefore, genocide does not come into it and I never said genocide is just. You really must stop equivocating in order to score points.

            I have NEVER said I think genocide is just. I stated I would be in favour of a smaller one over a bigger one.

            But you were prepared to do it. But now you say that genocide is unjust. So you are prepared to commit what you recognize is an injustice and not an injustice against a small number of people, but, as you have so helpfully pointed out:

            the deliberate killing of a large group of people. We can add “innocent” to that definition, because that is the meaning of describing it as unjust.

            I really don’t think you are in any position to talk about morality.

          • Powerdaddy

            Albert, the ‘ethnicity’ or ‘race’ of the victims of this genocide are human or the human race. God being the other ‘ethnicity’ or ‘race’ perpetrating the genocide.

            The ethnicity being victimized was us, Albert.
            The other aggressor ‘race’ was God, Albert. Have you got dementia?

            Your correct definition still has you in the same position.

            You said “the Flood is a punishment for sin. That is, it remains an act of justice.”

            The flood is still a genocide, no matter your squirming.

            And you have already agreed it to be just.

            ?

          • Albert

            You can’t keep trying to infer from words I am using to meanings I do not intend. If you set out your argument as a syllogism you would commit the four term fallacy. I’ll do it for you if you like! No one, using the term genocide, uses it to mean humanity as a whole, therefore, you can construct no valid argument on the assumption that that is what I have done. The term is used in a biological sense, and there “genus” means:

            A taxonomic category ranking below a family and above a species and designating a group of species that are presumed to be closely related and usually exhibit similar characteristics.

            The point here that I am trying to make is not about the size of the set, but about the innocence or otherwise of the set. “Genocide” is used of killing a specific group, in the case of the definition given above, the Jews. But someone who gets killed simply for his race is not guilty and therefore his killing is unjust. But that is not the case with the Flood, therefore your argument fails (you’ve also evidently not bothered to read what I said I believed about the Flood – if you keep showing you don’t read what I write then I will terminate the correspondence).

            You said “the Flood is a punishment for sin. That is, it remains an act of justice.”

            The flood is still a genocide, no matter your squirming.

            If it is an act of justice, then it is not, on the definition that I am using (which twice fits with the etymology and the normal use of the word, rather than what you are doing) an injustice.

            God being the other ‘ethnicity’ or ‘race’ perpetrating the genocide.

            Do you not understand words at all? If God is another ethnicity or race, then God and man are the same species! You just do not have enough knowledge to have this debate. Most of the time I am correcting your faulty assumptions/categories/logic rather than saying what I think.

            Have you got dementia?

            I’m sorry that you stoop so low as to use “dementia” as a term of abuse. But then as you believe the unjust killing of a minority is morally acceptable in some case, I am not surprised.

          • Powerdaddy

            Let’s make a new word for the mass killing committed by God by way of the great flood. This should appease Albert because has made complaints about the word genocide being too weak a description for what happened in said flood.

            pas: all, every
            Original Word: πᾶς, πᾶσα, πᾶν
            Definition: all, the whole, every kind of.”
            +
            genos (γένος), “race, people”
            +
            caedere “to kill”.[4]

            Pasgenocide.

            Definition: the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of multiple national or ethnic groups.

            Or you could have the courage of your convictions and say what you really mean, the flood was a just genocide!

            It doesn’t matter what word we use to describe the mass killings, point being is you think mass killings can be seen as some kind of good morality, or good moral teaching.

            Somebody get Albert a ladder, he stupidly dug himself a hole too deep to escape from!

          • Albert

            I’m sorry, you’ve again attributed to me a fundamentalist reading of the Flood which I deny. I said that if you did that again I would terminate the correspondence But not only that, but you have now persisted in using a word “genocide” (the word is still there, however you dress it up) which entails the implication of the murder of the innocent, despite the fact that that question of innocence and guilt is the very heart of the matter – even from what you have yourself admitted – and I have explicitly excluded the killing of the innocent from anything I accept.

            Somebody get Albert a ladder, he stupidly dug himself a hole too deep to escape from!

            Coming from someone who said it always wrong to kill another human being (even a guilty one therefore) but then went on to say that he would support genocide in a good cause, I think that is a little rich. The fact that you accuse me of that, while equivocating over the meaning of words, and attributing to me meanings from what I say which are not only unusual, but not meant by me, and explicitly excluded by me, shows that it is no longer possible to continue this correspondence.

          • Powerdaddy

            Albert.

            There is no room in the definition of the word genocide for the term innocent. This includes your own definition and any other definition you would care to use.

            Albert, I haven’t attributed a fundamentalist any thing to you. You choose to say the story of Noah and the flood was an act of justice, that it is morally good or just.

            And when I pointed out the flood is in actual fact a genocide you laughably quibble over ethnicity, race or group.

            the term “genocide” by combining Greek genos (γένος), “race, people” and Latin caedere “to kill” (Your preferred definition!)is the correct term to use for a mass killing, which is obviously what the great flood would do. A just genocide (pasgenocide? !) according to Albert!

            Run for the hills, Albert! And take your silly retrograde morals along with your silly retrograde superstitious religion with you.

            It’s been funny while it lasted.

            ‘Till the next time. ….

            🙂

          • Albert

            There is no room in the definition of the word genocide for the term innocent.

            So the Jews had it coming to them then? You are morally corrupt.

            And you still don’t understand the point about fundamentalism. The issue there was not about justice but the meaning of the story and whether it actually happened.

            Small wonder this conversation is at an end.

          • Powerdaddy

            There is no room in the definition of the word genocide for the term innocent.
            Find a definition of genocide with the word innocent in the definition meaning, Albert.

            A little side note for you, even if the group victimized in a genocide were ‘guilty’ of something – we would still be correct in using the word genocide for any mass killings against them, Albert. lol?

            “So the Jews had it coming to them then?”

            No more than the people killed in the story of Noahs flood, wouldn’t you agree?

            “You are morally corrupt.”

            No Albert. Neither of us are, the problem is you let the silly retrograde psychology in. That’s why you can’t say Noahs flood is genocide. It’s also the same reason why you say the flood is just.

            And you still don’t understand the point about fundamentalism. The issue there was not about justice but the meaning of the story and whether it actually happened.

            No Albert. This has never been about fundamentalism or wether it actually happened. It was always about justice.Remember, this is why you said “the Flood is a punishment for sin. That is, it remains an act of justice.”

            The flood was genocide, (or the newly coined and with far more terrible connotations, pasgenocide!).
            Albert said it, (the flood), was justice.
            Therefore in some circumstances Albert agrees genocide is just.

            p.s.This question isn’t for effect, I would like to see it answered. But you keep promising me you will run to the hills so…..Here’s the question again anyway…

            “So the Jews had it coming to them then?”
            No more than the people killed in the story of Noahs flood, wouldn’t you agree?

            Are you up for more embarrassment, Albert?

            🙂

          • Albert

            Find a definition of genocide with the word innocent in the definition meaning, Albert.

            You really are illiterate. It is implicit in the fact that people are targeted for their race, not their crimes!

            No more than the people killed in the story of Noahs flood, wouldn’t you agree?

            Again – illiteracy. The story makes it clear they are punished for sin, this is not the case with the Jews.

            Therefore in some circumstances Albert agrees genocide is just.

            You can’t keep inferring meanings from words which I explicitly do not accept. In genocide, you kill people because of their race. That entails a sense that they are innocent. Therefore, genocide is the wrong word to use for a punishment. You lack all precision in your thought.

            Here’s the difference between you and me – whatever misuse of the word “genocide” you use. You believe in killing innocent people, I don’t believe in killing innocent people. That makes you immoral. Your only defence is that you also believe it is wrong to kill innocent people. Does your heard hurt when you try to believe two mutually exclusive beliefs at the same time or does your atheism (if that’s what you are) result in such non-realism and language games that such double think is possible?

          • Powerdaddy

            lol Albert, it gets worse!
            Too even think GENOCIDE should be used as punishment for crimes is immoral, Albert!

            You really should let somebody else do your thinking for you!

            Obviously not as bad as a ‘pasgenocide’! but perfectly fits your definition of GENOCIDE (again).

            The Canaanites, Midianites and Amalekites all of these **ethnic groups** have suffered GENOCIDE by Gods command or by His own hand. A ETHNIC GROUP SUFFERING MASS KILLINGS = GENOCIDE, AM I USING THE CORRECT LANGUAGE THIS TIME? lol

            And I expect you will reply AGAIN that this GENOCIDE is a form of justice. Which means you think GENOCIDE is just.

            What’s more you worship this GENOCIDE bringer.

            Now that’s immoral.

            You Albert, are a keeper, and I shall hang around to keep you honest.

            No running for the hills for you.

          • Albert

            Too even think GENOCIDE should be used as punishment for crimes is immoral, Albert!

            If the death penalty can justly be used on one person then it can justly be used on any number of people – provided they are guilty. That’s why it’s thick to keep calling it genocide! The whole point of having a word like genocide is so that we can speak of the injustice of events like the holocaust. But then of course, on your terms the holocaust is not wrong unless it can be shown that it did more harm than not doing it. Which is just wicked.

            Therefore, your own argument undermines your own argument – just as you undermined your belief that people should never be killed when you signed up for genocide.

            Look, here’s how bad your argument is:

            1. Albert: God killed a lot of people as punishment in the Flood.
            2. Powerdaddy: to kill people is genocide.
            3. Albert: no, genocide is about killed for your race not your guilt.
            4. Powerdaddy: ha ha ha: Albert believes in genocide.

            Surely, even you can see that since you and I are using the word “genocide” in two different ways that you cannot infer from your use of the word “genocide” to what I believe happened. It’s a logically invalid as this argument, which has the same logical form:

            1. Albert: God is love.
            2. Powerdaddy: to love is to rape.
            3. Albert: no rape is about forced sex.
            4. Powerdaddy: ha ha ha: Albert believes God’s a rapist.

          • Powerdaddy

            The Canaanites, Midianites and Amalekites all of these **ethnic groups** have suffered GENOCIDE by Gods command or by His own hand. A ETHNIC GROUP SUFFERING MASS KILLINGS = GENOCIDE, AM I USING THE CORRECT LANGUAGE THIS TIME? lol

            Albert?

          • Albert

            I haven’t check, but I think that, in each case, they were guilty of crimes against humanity – e.g. murdering their own children. Thus, the word genocide, if applied here, would take away its moral force from events like the holocaust. I think the point I am trying to make is that moral people do not overuse the word “genocide”, for if we do, we undermine the scandal of it, when the victims of it are themselves innocent of anything beyond belonging to the wrong race.

            lol

            You logic and understanding are laughable, but I will forebear adding “LOL” to this post, because I think the subject matter is too serious. Genocide is not a suitable subject for you to use to try to take revenge on me for showing your position was absurd.

          • Powerdaddy

            There is no revenge to be had.
            Mass murder for whole groups of people or even ALL the people, for crimes commited is absurd.
            killing 50 000 people (genocide) for looking inside a boat is absurd.
            To complain about the use of the word genocide and then call genocide just is absurd.

            Genocide definition: **the deliberate killing of a large group of people**, especially those of a particular nation or ethnic group.
            “a campaign of genocide”
            synonyms:racial killing, massacre, wholesale slaughter, mass slaughter, wholesale killing, indiscriminate killing; mass murder, mass homicide, mass destruction, annihilation, extermination, elimination, liquidation, eradication, decimation, butchery, bloodbath, bloodletting;
            pogrom, ethnic cleansing, holocaust, Shoah; literary slaying;
            rarebattue, hecatomb

            Choose a synonym for Gods mass brutality against his creations that makes you happy. I still prefer genocide BECAUSE THE DEFINITION FITS PERFECTLY.

          • Albert

            Mass murder for whole groups of people or even ALL the people, for crimes commited is absurd

            Are you really this slow? It isn’t murder if they are guilty! That’s what words mean! An executioner executing someone who guilty of a capital crime is not a murderer!

            If you can’t even use a simple word like “murder” accurately, how can you have any conversation on this? BTW. Lo and behold, you then completely misuse the word “synonym”. A synonym is a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language.

            You see the bit I’ve underlined? You see how that undermines your whole point? The beauty of the English language is that we have so many synonyms, so that you can get really precise. Of course, you have to know how to use words to do that, and as you don’t even know what “murder” means how can you do that? Here you are trying to have a philosophical and theological argument, and you don’t even know what normal words mean. And more than that, you don’t even see that you don’t know that!

          • Powerdaddy

            You didn’t choose a synonym and after all that complaining!, to replace the word genocide. So genocide it is.

            Genocide is just according to Albert. (as long as you are ‘guilty’ of something).
            Now to the important part, what crimes committed entitles the use if genocide, Albert?

          • Albert

            I don’t see where I was obliged to choose a synonym. On the contrary, since synonyms do not have to mean exactly the same thing, synonyms will not help us here. That was the point of my last post. Was it not obvious?

            Genocide is not just in any circumstances, since genocide is killing people on account of their race, and that is not a just cause of killing.

          • Powerdaddy

            Your not obligated to do anything. You bucked at the use of genocide so I gave you the option of choosing another word from the synonyms that show below the definition of genocide in my last post.

            How about mass slaughter? Have a look, you can choose.

            What say you?

          • Albert

            If I’m not obligated to do anything, then I cannot be obligated to choose a synonym. But that does not allow the “argument” that you put in your last post:

            Powerdaddy: choose a synonym for genocide.
            Albert: I don’t accept God is guilty of genocide therefore I will not choose a synonym.
            Powerdaddy: Albert didn’t choose a synonym for genocide, therefore he must accept God committed genocide. Therefore Albert thinks genocide is just.

            It’s so bad that simply to state your argument is to reveal how terrible it is.

          • Powerdaddy

            Not quite.

            Unless you go back and edit your posts, you have had enough rope….

            You once said it is always wrong to kill a baby.

            Now you say the story of a worldwide drowning of all babies (not to mention all the fetuses) is justice.

            Would you like the definition of justice too?

            Full circle and then some…..

          • len

            A gift ceases to be a gift if one has to earn that gift.
            So Catholicism IS a works based religion works to earn salvation.
            The addition cancels the free gift of salvation and you end up with nothing .Catholics really should read Galatians!

          • Albert

            Len, you really do have your theology back to front. The good works that we do, are themselves the gift of grace. If that transformation does not take place, then there is no justification!

  • jsampson45

    We must be in serious trouble if your Grace’s successor is right. It would mean only born-again Christians could make peace or do justice. But is there not such a thing as common grace?

    • Dominic Stockford

      Ummm, His Grace (TC) is quoting Article 13 of the 39, a perfectly well accepted piece of Protestant theology – which is why Roman Churchers are getting all het up in this comment section.

      • jsampson45

        I don’t dispute Article 13. The issue is whether non-Christians can do things that have good temporal effects – justice or peace, at least up to a point. JW seems to be saying not.

        • Dominic Stockford

          And I agree with him. In the sense that without God we can do nothing that is good – as the BCP puts it. Without faith in God we cannot possibly do anything Godly, for we deny Him.

          • jsampson45

            To this non-theologian there seems to be a confusion here between what is pleasing to God and what by His grace is of good effect in the world. Perhaps relevant is “If you being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more…”

        • chiefofsinners

          It all depends on how you define ‘good’. Better outcomes than the worst imaginable? Or those things which are in perfect accord with the mind of God and will receive an eternal reward?
          True justice and true peace are equally undefinable if we move from the strict theological meanings. Welby is pointing out that only the true definitions can have real meaning.

  • Inspector General

    One will not comment on XIII. Of Works before Justification other than to say it has the predictable chill of protestant extremism about it and implies the rather ludicrous stand that man’s very existence is a sin and the sooner we as a species are dead, judged and condemned to an eternity of unending suffering for our miserable souls the better creation will be for it. Well, apart from the handful of intolerants who penned this nonsense and such like who of course will expect to sit at the right hand of God, for some reason quite lost to the Inspector.

    • dannybhoy

      …and implies the rather ludicrous stand that man’s very existence is a sin and the sooner we as a species are dead, judged and condemned to an eternity of unending suffering for our miserable souls the better creation will be for it.

      You mean that it ain’t true…?

      • Inspector General

        Let’s see. God through his creation has allowed us mere mortals to exist and appreciate his works, and we do. Some of us. However, ever since we climbed down from the trees, he has harboured a disdain for all us that is amplified by his chosen mouthpiece, the protestant strain of Christianity. The strain as was, that is, for much of the movement is now well on its way to humanism.

        • dannybhoy

          I do agree that too much emphasis has been placed on sin(s). I think it is the intent of the heart that God is most interested in. But whilst an emphasis on sin may be unhealthy, what can we say about an emphasis on Church authority as is the case in Catholicism?
          Hebrews 7>
          22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. 23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues for ever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost
          those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

          So it is our Lord who intercedes for us…

          • Inspector General

            Stern stuff indeed Danny, but wait. The word of God has to reach everyone. Not just genteel types like ourselves. This lot was clearly aimed at the thieves and cut throats who plague the market place, don’t you think? We may be equal before God, but we are very far from equal here on earth.

          • dannybhoy

            No I don’t think so Inspector dear chap, and I think the key to it is here..
            For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth..

            If we are truly born again the Holy Spirit begins a work of regeneration in us as in ,
            2 Corinthians 5:17
            “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
            The person who thinks that because Jesus died for their sins, they therefore have a free pass to keep on sinning, is I think clearly at odds with the teaching of Scripture.
            It’s like the man who cheats on his wife and every time he is found out begs forgiveness – and in his heart determines to do everything he humanly can not to get caught next time…

          • Inspector General

            And then there is the question of whether the bible was meant to be read by the ordinary man at all. For eighteen hundred and fifty years, thereabout, the ordinary man was illiterate. Think of the bible as a works manual for priests, containing ‘illuminating passages’ to be used when necessary.

          • dannybhoy

            ” to be used when necessary.”
            If every book of the Scriptures came with a disclaimer,

            “The author cannot be held responsible for misunderstandings arising from the reading of this book” or,

            “For use by qualified personnel only”
            or,

            “Consult your Parish priest before continuing..”

            I might agree with you.

  • dannybhoy

    Surely grace and righteousness can come before justification, as seen in the life of Noah and Abraham and Jacob and many, many more saints in the Old Testament?
    If Archbishop Justin Welby is beginning to ‘talk religious’ then more power to his elbow. We need men at peace with God, full of Truth anointed and empowered of the Holy Spirit…

    • chiefofsinners

      Different covenants, different theology. You won’t find any examples of righteousness preceding justification in the church.

      • Albert

        In a sense that’s true by definition, for righteousness and being justified are the same thing, as I understand it.

        • chiefofsinners

          Justification is the result of Christ’s righteousness being imputed to us.

          • Albert

            No, justification is more than that. It is Christ’s righteousness being infused into us. In Christ, “we become the righteousness of God.”

          • chiefofsinners

            Well said.

          • Albert

            That’s the shortest discussion on justification I’ve ever had! 🙂

      • dannybhoy

        “Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him.”
        Luke 2:25
        Also verse 36..
        “And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.[e] She did not depart from the temple, worshipping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.”

        ” Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God.”

        Luke 23:50,51

        34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
        Acts 10> (in relation to Cornelius the Centurion, regarded as a righteous man)
        There are other people, but the key thing is what God showed St Peter. A man or woman who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to Him.. Such a righteous man or woman will come to Christ and find justification through Him.

        • chiefofsinners

          While these examples are from the New Testament, they are not from the church. The church began at Pentecost for those in Jerusalem and for most Gentiles at the time that cornelius received the Holy Spirit.

          • dannybhoy

            “You won’t find any examples of righteousness preceding justification in the church.”

            But isn’t that the point, cos?
            These were righteous people (according to Scripture), in that they walked with God. It was our Lord’s act of sacrifice on the Cross which dealt with their sinfulness.

          • chiefofsinners

            Yes – absolutely agree. They did what was asked of them in their time. Today God deals with sinners differently, under a new covenant. The articles of the CoE describe the operation of the new covenant.

          • dannybhoy

            It is interesting though is it not, that there are many men and women who obviously had a heart for God, and were obedient to His promptings, and that despite their obvious human failings (Abraham passing his wife off as his sister for example) it didn’t stop them fellowshipping with God.
            I sometimes think we Christians get too hung up on our struggle with sin instead of concentrating on our adoption as sons..

      • Anna055

        What about “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. ..” ….or isn’t that what you are saying?

        • chiefofsinners

          Yes – this text is quoted in the New Testament but only to illustrate that faith was the basis of salvation, even before the Mosaic covenant.

          • Anna055

            Sorry! I thought you were saying something different.

    • You need to think more about grace.

      Jack recalls being taught as a nipper about “sanctifying grace” and “actual grace”. Sanctifying grace stays in the soul. It’s what makes the soul holy; it gives the soul supernatural life. It is supernatural life.

      Actual grace, by contrast, is a push or encouragement from God. It’s transient and doesn’t live in the soul but acts on the soul. It gets the will and intellect moving so we can seek out, obtain and then keep sanctifying grace. We can obtain sanctifying grace and supernatural life by yielding to these graces we receive. God keeps giving us divine pushes; all we have to do is go along.

      • DanJ0

        Blimey, I never realised that there was a world wide web when you were a nipper, let alone a website called http://www.catholic.com with a section titled Grace: What It Is and What It Does where you copied that from.

      • dannybhoy

        Sanctifying grace?
        Actual grace?
        Gracious grace??
        I prefer to keep it simple Jack..
        Philippians 2:12
        “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

        Man of his free will responds to the Gospel, acknowledges his guilt, asks God’s forgiveness and is born again. God’s begins a work of grace within him by the agency of the Holy Spirit with our Lord Jesus as our King, our High Priest and Intercessor.

  • chiefofsinners

    Cranmer does proper theology properly. Rejoice!
    Welby often appears to strike the right note by the Spirit, rather than by having mugged up on theology.

  • “The truth is that no good work can precede the grace of God, since without that grace it cannot be performed.”

    Jack understands Roman Catholics believe that too. At least he was taught this at school.

    “But good works may precede justification, and actually do precede it, for grace is given before justification, so that we might perform those things by which we arrive at justification.”

    This is also in harmony with Jack’s understanding of Catholic salvation theology – if, that is, this leaves room for cooperation between one’s free will and God’s grace.

    • Dominic Stockford

      The first quote you give is from the Articles, the second is not. The first is Protestant, the second is not.

      (Stands back and waits for explosion….)

      • What is the second statement then?

        • Dominic Stockford

          A human effort to make the first statement humanly acceptable (acceptable to the world).

          The first (from what The Article says) says clearly enunciates “they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ”. The second tries to justify the human desire to call deeds that are done by those who have no faith in Jesus Christ good (contrary to the Article), and thus whose actions cannot possibly spring from faith in Him.

          • And what if they do spring from Christ and His grace even though the person, through no fault of their own, hasn’t come to an understanding of the Gospel?

  • Dominic Stockford

    It is perfectly logical that someone who denies Christ cannot do anything that is good IN GOD’S EYES because they cannot possibly be consciously doing it for the primary reason God asks us to consciously do everything we do, His Glory.

    • But Christ could be working through people before they ever become aware of His existence. Some theologians, for this reason, say Socrates was a Christian.

      • carl jacobs

        Socrates was a pagan. Intelligence is no sign of salvation, nor is doing good in the eyes of man. Our perception of good is highly distorted by our limited perception.

        • But how do you know Christ wasn’t in him and working through him? He had no opportunity to hear the Gospel message and to accept His massage.

          Jack agrees intelligence and “doing good in the eyes of men” is not an indicator of salvation. However, doing good in the eyes of God, by truly attempting to discern His will through reason and following our God given consciences, is a different matter.

          • The Explorer

            I have no problem that those who hear the message and reject it should be condemned. I have far more problem with those condemned because they were never given the message in the first place.

            Many of those, of course, might have rejected the message had they heard it; but unless we can be certain that God knew that all those born before Christ would have rejected Him had they had the opportunity to know about Him, then I am happy to let God be the judge as to their fate.

            Certainly, Aeschylus, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the creator of the mythical old couple Baucis and Philemon, Cicero and the Stoics seem to me the kind of people who, despite their manifest weaknesses, might have responded to Christianity had they received the message. (Some of the Stoics, alive at the time of Paul, did, in fact, do so.)

            And I am by no means persuaded that the One who said, “But I have other sheep that are not of this fold, and they shall hear my voice,” (whatever the primary meaning) did not, in fact, encounter them in His pre-incarnate form. The Cross points in all directions, and although I do not profess to understand the mechanism, I do not see why it cannot point backwards, as well as forwards, in time.

          • The logic runs along these lines:

            “The Spirit wrote on the heart of Socrate what he needed to do. Socrates read this message, he believed it, he had confidence in it, and he really obeyed it. But these things: belief, confidence, and obedience were and are the elements of Pauline faith as we saw at the outset. So Socrates did have Pauline faith, and since Paul says that God provides faith as the way to justification for all, Socrates was justified by faith. But still further, having faith like Abraham, Socrates being justified by faith came under the covenant. As such, without knowing the fact, he was following the Divine Logos. As St. Justin said, for this reason we say Socrates was Christian.

            As Christian, of course he could be saved. Still further, we teach that one must be a member of the Church: no salvation outside the Church. So in a substantial way, without formally entering, Socrates was a member of the Church. John Paul II in his Encyclical on Missions said that many are taken care of by a “mysterious grace” which does not make them “formally” members of the Church. But yet in some lesser way, without registering at a parish, they must be members.

            This clearly held for Socrates. We add that in Romans 8.9 Paul says that if one does not have and follow the Spirit, he does not belong to Christ. But in St. Paul’s terms, to belong to Christ means to be a member of Christ, which means to be a member of the Church. Not formally, as John Paul II said, but yet really, for they can really be saved.”
            (Father William Most)

            https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/most/getwork.cfm?worknum=169

          • The Explorer

            Excellent. I’m a great admirer of Justin Martyr. (I assume that’s who he means.) I think the comparison with Abraham is very pertinent; C S Lewis made it as well about the virtuous pagans born before Christ.

            I assume, on this sort of basis, even the likes of me might be saved?

          • You should browse through the writings of Fr. William Most. Jack thinks you’d enjoy them. He returns to this theme several times. He also addresses many of the questions you often raise on here. Another author whose writings can be accessed on the same site and who covers these subjects, is Fr. John Hardon.

          • The Explorer

            Thanks. I’ll check them out.

          • The Explorer

            I’ve found a website called Library – The Father William Most Theological collection. Just been reading his thoughts on Pacifism. I agree with everything he says. So clearly and thoughtfully argued. Thank you for the introduction.

          • Though he was on your wave length, Explorer. He is a wonderfully clear and straightforward writer. Enjoy.

          • Pubcrawler

            “Socrates read this message, he believed it, he had confidence in it, and he really obeyed it.”

            What grounds are there for this assertion? From the historical Socrates, not the fictional one of Plato et al. Or even from that, actually.

          • It’s somewhat speculative admittedly as Socrates wrote nothing himself and history depends on the accounts of others. Regard him as an example.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Why do we think that ‘nice thoughtful chaps’ would have accepted the Gospel? I think we do that because that simply makes us feel better. Why should Genghis Khan not have accepted it had he heard it (properly preached), and so on? Is it because we are happier with the idea of people who do worldly ‘good’ things converting because in some unbiblical way we think they ‘deserve’ such a conversion?

            This is relevant – today we are happy preaching to people we like, middle class, ‘nice’ people. We are bad at preaching to drunks and druggies and locally known conmen. When we, at my church, began praying for a man who ran a strip joint locally eyebrows were raised. Although I have no idea whether he is now saved, I do know that his strip joint failed financially and is now closed. 1-0 to God there!

          • carl jacobs

            Great minds think alike. I thought to use Genghis Khan to make exactly the same argument.

          • Birds of a feather …. more like.

            “Can you discover the depths of God? Can you discover the limits of the Almighty? They are high as the heavens, what can you do? Deeper than Sheol, what can you know.”

          • dannybhoy

            What about those historical figures who sought for answers, like Buddha?
            http://christiananswers.net/q-aiia/aiia-buddhism-harris.html

          • carl jacobs

            No one seeks after God. Not one.

          • The Explorer

            So Cornelius wasn’t a devout man?

          • dannybhoy

            8 “But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord. 9 These are the generations of Noah. Noah was righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.”
            Genesis 6

            27 “And the Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the Lord will drive you. 28 And there you will serve gods of wood and stone, the work of human hands, that neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. 29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
            Deuteronomy 4

            and Lamentations 3:25

            and Isaiah 55..
            I know that the Bible says that, but these verses don’t.

          • Hmmm … unless God moves them to do so.

          • The Explorer

            Note that I did say that many might have rejected the gospel if they had heard it. (Just as happens with many who are given the opportunity).
            Genghis Khan was far less like a Christian than Socrates was. An Epicurean was far less like a Christian than a Stoic was. A Stoic would have found some modification of his world view necessary, but an Epicurean would have been confronted with a major upheaval.
            I am saying that for God to condemn people for not knowing Christ when they were born before Christ and so never had the opportunity seems an odd sort of justice, and since God is the origin of our feelings of justice in the first place there’s a mismatch if that is in fact the case.

            In ‘Huckleberry Fynn’ Jim recounts a story in which he told one of his daughters to shut the door. When she ignored him he knocked her across the room. When she started crying, he realised she was deaf and dumb. “An I’d been a treatin’ her so.” Feels like the same sort of behaviour on the part of God.

          • Pubcrawler

            “I am happy to let God be the judge as to their fate.”

            Exactly. It’s not our business.

            But Aeschylus?!?!?! Really?

          • The Explorer

            Yes, if you compare him with Euripides.

          • Pubcrawler

            Well, I’ll grant you that 🙂

          • carl jacobs

            He heard the testimony of general revelation – which he rejected. That is sufficient to condemn.

            There is no one who seeks after God. Not one. God seeks after men. And it is impossible for a man to do good in the eyes of God absent faith in Christ. It’s black letter Scripture.

            If you want to establish this idea, you have to show some evidence from Scripture. What you cannot do is what you are doing. You can’t look at a man’s life and say “He was pretty good. God surely would be pleased. I wonder…”

          • “He heard the testimony of general revelation – which he rejected. That is sufficient to condemn.”

            And you know this how?

            “If you want to establish this idea, you have to show some evidence from Scripture.”

            Please see Jack’s post to Explorer below.

            “You can’t look at a man’s life and say “He was pretty good. God surely would be pleased. I wonder…” “
            Jack has not done so.

          • carl jacobs

            And you know this how?

            Romans 1.

          • And how does this apply to a specific man, Socrates, rejecting the promptings of God through grace to know and to follow him? How do you know Socrates suppressed the truth of God rather than accept and respond to it?

          • Dominic Stockford

            Read and study his works – nowhere does he deny or oppose the false gods of Greece – indeed, he embraced them.

          • Pubcrawler

            He wrote nothing, we know nothing about him directly; all we have of what he thought are the various constructs of Plato, Xenophon and Aristophanes.

            And it is all thoroughly pagan.

          • The Explorer

            It’s certainly difficult to know what is Plato and what is Socrates, even when Socrates is ostensibly speaking in his own voice. I think the section on the just man in ‘The Republic’ is interesting. One might expect the just man to be honoured by his society. In fact, the just man might be rejected: scourged, and blinded, and impaled.

          • And “pagan” means? If God and His plan of salvation had yet to be revealed, how could they be anything other than “pagan”?

          • … of course, because he didn’t have the benefit of Divine Revelation. He did have the law of God written on his heart, as we all do.

          • Anton

            No he didn’t. Through Jeremiah God promised that he would accomplish the writing of the law on men’s hearts as a great future work involving his faithful (chapter 31; the relevant verse is 33). Therefore it is not part of the image of God, which is what Socrates *did* have.

          • Er, yes he did. And if you disagree, please tell Saint Paul.

          • Anton

            Tell Jeremiah!

          • Jack will leave that to Saint Paul.
            As Jack reads it, Jeremiah was talking about a future time when Israel would be restored and would no longer need the external Mosaic Law.

          • Anton

            I am not going to disagree with Paul but the conscience too is fallen and fallible. Otherwise there would have been no need for a written law.

          • Thought you didn’t like “legalism”?

            Well, yes, man’s soul is wounded and damaged and we’re drawn to sin. However, as Saint Paul says:

            “The knowledge of God is clear to their minds; God himself has made it clear to them; from the foundations of the world men have caught sight of his invisible nature, his eternal power and his divineness, as they are known through his creatures. Thus there is no excuse for them …”

            And:

            “As for the Gentiles, though they have no law to guide them, there are times when they carry out the precepts of the law unbidden, finding in their own natures a rule to guide them, in default of any other rule; and this shews that the obligations of the law are written in their hearts; their conscience utters its own testimony, and when they dispute with one another they find themselves condemning this, approving that.”

            Origen speaking of pagan sacrifices says: “Since God wants grace to abound, He sees fit to be present…. He is present not to the [pagan] sacrifices, but to the one who comes to meet Him, and to these He gives His Word.” God can distinguish between misguided external things and the interior of those who follow them, thinking that they should do so to please Him.

            Augustine, despite his reasoning about the massa damnata, wrote: “Nor do I think the Jews would dare to argue that no one pertained to God except the Israelites, from the time that Israel came to be…. they cannot deny that there were certain men even in other nations who pertained to the true Israelites, the citizens of the fatherland above, not by earthly but by heavenly association.”

          • Anton

            Yes, we each have a conscience. But if you are saying that any man can, in principle, look into himself and write down a legal code matching in wisdom the Mosaic one, I disagree.

          • That is not exactly what Jack said, is it? And Jack would restrict the moral code to the way Jesus affirmed it rather than the full, contingent, Mosaic legal code – i.e. loving God with our heart, mind and soul and our neighbour as ourselves. The Ten Commandments are fairly rational, after all and Natural Law does have its place. Following the law of reason and conscience is the issue and this, like discerning God’s will, needs grace through Christ.

          • Anton

            It was not wholly obvious to me what you were saying (which is why I wrote the phrase “if you are saying…”). Aquinas’ “natural” arguments for certain laws are exactly what Christians need when advocating laws in secular parliaments, but they are limited by the fallenness of the conscience and the intellect.

          • It was Saint Paul, under Divine inspiration, who revealed these truths. As Jack understands it, man is limited by his fallen nature, hence the need for revelation, but if moved by the promptings of God to truly seek, understand and love God and follow his conscience, even without knowledge of Christ, he is acting in faith and is therefore justified.

          • Anton

            Agreed, but you can’t love somebody you don’t know and Socrates was not aware of the God of Israel.

          • Hmm … who says he didn’t know Him? Noah did, why not Socrates? God is God.

          • Anton

            It is clear from the Genesis account that God revealed himself to one family line that grew gradually into a nation. Socrates is not of that line. Nor, in contrast to Noah, is there any extant evidence that Socrates knew God. Plato might have mentioned it, don’t you think?

          • Genesis may well give an account of the family line to whom God revealed Himself and His plan of salvation for the human race. And … ? It is a theological history of the nation of Israel.
            Do you accept what Saint Paul teaches? If, as he says, men who ignore the evidence of God from His creation and ignore His will imprinted on their hearts are “without excuse”, then, it seems to Jack, men are capable of knowing God and responding. Otherwise, being incapable, they would have an excuse. The particulars of Socrates is really not the issue.

          • Anton

            Genesis is not a theological history of the nation of Israel. The nation of Israel did not even exist at that time – and there is abundant evidence to those not blinded by theological liberalism that its parts were written within a lifetime of the events they describe. It is divided up by the statement “These are the TOLEDOTH [generations] of…” at the end (not beginning!) of each section, and no section contains any anachronistic looking-forward. Nowhere in the Bible is Moses stated to have written Genesis, in contrast to the other 4 books in the pentateuch.

            Of course I accept what Paul teaches. There is some ambiguity over how God judges non-Christians, regarding which it is possible that fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

          • …. or that fools attempt to block the path of angels.

          • Anton

            Where God’s scriptures do not clarify over as weighty a matter as salvation, let man (or Pope) not pronounce.

          • “I have still much to say to you, but it is beyond your reach as yet. It will be for him, the truth-giving Spirit, when he comes, to guide you into all truth. He will not utter a message of his own; he will utter the message that has been given to him; and he will make plain to you what is still to come.”

            This through reason and direct revelation allows for the development of a fuller understanding of scripture based both on the written word and also on the traditions that come to us from the Apostles.

            “There is much else besides that Jesus did; if all of it were put in writing, I do not think the world itself would contain the books which would have to be written.”

          • Anton

            The “traditions of the apostles” of which Paul spoke were either a reference to tradition of agape, fellowship etc, or a reference to the as-yet unwritten gospels at the time he wrote.

            The idea that the early church did pretty well for its time but was basically a bunch of hicks, and that now ***** [fill in denomination of your choice] has got it all sorted, is spectacular nonsense.

          • Well, that’s quite a misrepresentation of Catholic beliefs about the early Church. Are you seriously suggesting, in direct contradiction of Jesus’ words, that it is not given to the Church to grow in knowledge and understanding of scriptural revelation?

            And you know Saint Paul meant this? How?

            Paul told Timothy, “[W]hat you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2).

          • Anton

            The view that I parodied (don’t take it literally) is that of politicised churches – Great, we’ve got hold of the levers of power now, so we can use them to really get Christianity spreading. The trouble with that view – and Byzantium was as guilty as Rome – is that politics is about law whereas the gospel is about grace, and that as soon as the church gets into the law business it pollutes itself.

            The apostolic church WROTE the New Testament, humanly speaking. No “interpretation” was necessary during that generation, at least.

            What makes you think that “all truth” relates to the church fathers, the scholastics etc, and to doctrine, rather than the truths needed in each time and place?

          • Jack’s not talking about politics or imposing Christian truth. What he’s saying is that our knowledge and understanding of God, based on scripture and the teachings of the Apostles, develops and deepens.
            This applies to the situation of those who through no fault of their own were or are denied the revelation of the Gospel be it Mosaic or Christian. It is there in scripture written by Saint Paul and was voiced by the early Church Fathers.

          • Anton

            The nub is your second sentence, and I don’t agree with it. The church fathers were essentially Christians in the tradition of Greek philosophy. All they were doing – not consciously – was exegesis for Graeco-Roman culture. That is no different conceptually from an Amazonian tribesman hearing the New Testament for the first time and explaining it round a fire to his brothers in terms that made sense to them. To say that the fathers are anything more than that is to say that Graeco-Roman culture is uniquely sacred, which it isn’t If any one culture was that, it was ancient Israel’s, which alone had been founded on God’s law (and God didn’t think much of how well that culture kept His law). European culture has for 1500 years elevated the “church fathers” simply because it is is a direct descendant of Graeco-Roman culture.

            Here is an example. Perhaps you think that the conclusions of the councils about the Trinity and about Christology – about the relations between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and *how* Jesus is both fully divine and fully human – are great achievements, something known today that wasn’t known to the early church, and an example of the truth that the Christian movement has been “guided into”. I disagree. I don’t think that those opinions make the slightest difference to personal piety; the Christian needs to know only that God IS Trinity and that Christ IS both wholly divine and wholly human. The New Testament is notably silent about both issues. If God himself has not chosen to say more to us in scripture about how he is Trinitarian, it is vanity to suppose that man can work out such a profound mystery. As for Christology, to know how Jesus is both God and man we have first to know what God and what unfallen man look like – yet we learn both of those from Him! So any attempt to discern how he is both involves circular logic, and is futile.

            Normally it doesn’t matter if philosophers spend their time doing futile things. But these attempts to go beyond holy scripture led to grievous schisms in Christ’s church – schisms between people who affirmed the Trinity and affirmed that Christ was wholly God and wholly man. That mattered. And the filioque was a major factor in antagonism between Orthodox and Catholic nations in mediaeval times. Would Byzantium have been able to keep Europe’s southeastern gate closed against Islam had relations been friendly?

          • You are a student of the early Church and you must know the range of Christological heresies that abounded in the early Church. Establishing the nature of the Trinity and the nature of the Incarnation was fundamental to taking the faith worldwide and teaching Christ, His death and His resurrection. Jesus told us to love God with our whole mind, heart and soul. These were essential developments and that they resulted in disagreement and schism doesn’t render them otherwise. And, as Jack remembers his studies, the fallout over the “filioque” had more to do with petty regional rivalries, politics and egos than it did with theology.

          • Anton

            Arianism was a heresy because it failed to affirm the biblical insight that Christ was both wholly God and wholly man. Rightly was it condemned. But a range of other Christological views were called heresy “by the winners” at those councils, even though those views affirm that He was wholly God and wholly man. Is it not appalling that men who affirm Christ as wholly God and wholly man fall out over how – something the scriptures are silent about? How do you deal with my objection that we cannot know how, for we must first know what God and what unfallen man look like – yet we learn both of those from Him, therefore all attempts involve circular logic?

            “Establishing the nature of the Trinity and the nature of the Incarnation was fundamental to taking the faith worldwide”

            Not so! By the time of those councils the faith had *already* been taken as far wide as the seas and the political power of Islam permitted.

          • “How do you deal with my objection that we cannot know how …”
            How do you think? Happy Jack is a Roman Catholic who believes in the indefectibility and infallibility of the Church Magisterium in matters of faith and morals.

          • Anton

            So tell me, with all the backing of the Magisterium, what is wrong with my argument against attempts to answer HOW Christ is entirely God and entirely man, as follows: we would first have to know what God and what unfallen man look like, yet we learn both of those from Him. So any attempt to discern how he is both involves circular logic and is futile.

          • Well, we can reason what unfallen man was like and many theologians have done so. We cannot fully know what God is like until we reach the Beatific vision, but we can develop a greater appreciation of Him based on His revelations and on the life and death of Christ.

          • Anton

            …which is what I said: you learn about God from Christ. If you prefer to trust theologians rather than the gospels for what unfallen man is like, good luck to you but you are not out from under my circular logic paradox.

          • The Church relies on scripture which, in Christ, is full public revelation. However, through Christ, the Church deepens its understanding of scripture. Jack doesn’t trust theologians. He trusts the Magisterium of the Church.

          • Anton

            And Jack is welcome to trust the Magisterium but what does it and/or he say in answer to my question, please? Here it is:

            To know about how Christ is both entirely God and entirely man, we would first have to know what God and what unfallen man look like, yet we learn both of those from Him. So is not any attempt to discern how he is both based on circular logic and therefore futile?

            I’m sure Jack is intelligent enough to see the problem.

          • No, because the Holy Spirit is more than able to reveal this to the Church – in God’s way and in God’s time. There’s ample evidence in scripture to answer both to meet whatever theological needs man has at any given moment. And these developments take place when questions are raised that need answering.

          • Anton

            Man has no theological need to know HOW Christ is fully both God and man. It affects personal piety not a whit. It is enough to know that He is both – otherwise the early church would be spiritually impoverished. Do you believe that it was?

          • Our faith is one of reason as well as piety. And increasing our knowledge of God is following the first commandment – “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and thy whole soul and thy whole mind. This is the greatest of the commandments, and the first.”

          • Anton

            We can affirm that together. But you have swerved my question: if it is not enough to know that Jesus Christ is wholly man and wholly God, but also how He is both, then the apostolic church was spiritually impoverished compared to the situation after the councils that some say settled it – was it not?

            Also, both sides of the debates at those councils – people who affirmed that He was fully God and fully man – both claimed to have the Holy Spirit. Why should I trust the outcome?

          • No, of course the early Church wasn’t “spiritually impoverished”. It was as rich spiritually as the Church is today. The small, early Church was a community of believers with members who had witnessed the life and resurrection of Christ. This common relationship and the expectation of Christ’s imminent return probably meant a wide variety of views was tolerated. It became necessary to define doctrinal orthodoxy as distance from the foundational events increased, the Church spread and membership widened.
            Why should you trust the outcomes of Church Councils? You’ll only do that if you leave Protestantism behind you and free yourself from the prison of sola scriptura and the belief you can be your own pope and decide these matters for yourself. The Church is Apostolic for reasons made clear in scripture.

          • Anton

            It was not “necessary” at all to demand that the question of *how* Christ was fully divine and fully human be settled. Why not just say that the Bible doesn’t pronounce on it so let every man have his private opinion? It makes no difference to personal piety. This situation is a prime example of the great harm that can be done by neglecting sola scriptura – in this case by demanding that people accept extra stuff. This led to schism and the slandering of Trinitarian believers who accepted that Christ was both wholly God and wholly man as heretics. Likewise the filioque led to needless schism between Trinitarians over an issue on which the NT is silent (St John says only that the temporal rather than eternal procession of the Holy Spirit is from the Father, as you will know.)

            Does it matter? When Egypt was first invaded by Muslims in the 7th century, only a few thousand Arab warriors came, and they won because Egypt’s Christian communities were divided about how Christ was God and man. In 1054, there was a schism about details – which the Bible nowhere discusses – of the Trinity, involving mutual excommunications of the Latin-speaking churches of Western Europe and the Greek-speaking churches of Eastern Europe. That falling-out ultimately let Islam into the Balkans. So Yes, it matters very much.

            To go back: *Why* was it necessary to to demand that the question of *how* Christ was fully divine and fully human be settled?

          • Jack has answered your question already. Maybe not to your satisfaction but there you go. How can you defend a doctrine against heresy if you have no rational and reasoned way of explaining the faith? Simply saying “It’s in scripture” doesn’t cut it because scripture needs interpretation.
            As for division, this wouldn’t have come about if fallen men with their egos and political and economic aspirations hadn’t intruded and the leadership of the successors of Peter and the universal authority of Church had been accepted. Without Apostolic authority, dogma and doctrine, the Christian faith would have broken into many more factions than is currently present. This is readily demonstrable by the various denominations and plethora of beliefs of protestantism where each man is his own pope.

          • Anton

            Where each man acts according to his own conscience under Christ – or, as you put it, as his own pope – people are not going to be tortured and burnt for alleged heresy, are they? A fine irony, given that the belief Christians should torture and burn others for their views is itself horribly heretical.

            You repeat the mantra that scripture needs interpretation. But it was written for the common folk of the Holy Land and the Near/Middle East, not for academic philosophers who have delighted in making things harder than they need be and finding tortuous allegories (see eg Augustine on the Good Samaritan). All that the great majority of verses need is some knowledge of how different life was in that time and those places. I agree with you, in fact, that fallings-out are due more to hard-heartedness than doctrinal differences. In the early church it happened between individuals; latterly it has happened between denominations, but the definition of a denomination is a hierarchy and God never intended that. The apostolic church had a decentralised structure.

            I repeat that if the church of the conciliar era and after had not tried to settle unknowable issues about the Divinity that scripture sows no concern over and that do not impinge on personal piety, Islam might well have been kept out of North Africa and Europe. No I can’t be certain, but you can’t either and if Christians had been united then who could have stood against them?

          • CliveM

            Anton

            I actually agree. The schism definitely weakened Christianity, all over definitions which I suspect even the proponents didn’t fully understand.

            People try to draw definate conclusions from human understanding. Typically the actual fall out will be driven by ego.

          • Returning to Socrates ….
            So do you accept he could have been a Christian, acting according to the will of God, with grace and faith from God? This is an insight gleaned from scripture and developed by theologians.
            As for the rest, there’s a lot of contested history in your assertions.

          • Anton

            Where I have made conjecture about history I’ve made the fact clear; which assertions about history do you contest, and why?

            Neither Socrates nor anybody else could have been a Christian before Christ but, as I’ve said, scripture deals mainly with the eternal fate of those who get to hear about God. And where God does not clarify as important a matter as salvation, man would be wiser not to either.

          • “And where God does not clarify as important a matter as salvation, man would be wiser not to either.”
            Scripture hardly clarifies anything on its own. It all comes down to interpretation based on study, prayer and the use of reason. And just why couldn’t Socrates be moved by the Spirit of Christ, the Logos, before He became Incarnate? Why couldn’t he be a member of His Mystical Body, the Church – through faith? The elements are there in scripture for defending such a position.

          • Anton

            If you are suggesting that Christ’s church existed on earth before Christ then why did He say “On this rock I will build my church” following Peter’s confession – the first – that He was the Messiah, the son of the living God? Scripture suggests that we shall be judged by the light we have been given and we do not know what light Socrates was given. It would be foolish of either of us to comment further on his salvation.

            Scripture hardly clarifies anything on its own? You have let yourself be disempowered by the church system of which you are part. You have the Holy Spirit; read and trust, and listen to others but never abandon your faculty of reason to any other but Jesus Christ and His word in holy scripture. Where you disagree with others, listen courteously and, provided that they profess roughly the Nicene Creed, regard them as brothers.

            Scripture hardly clarifies anything on its own? Scripture includes the Law of Moses which was meant to be read to the people every few years in ancient Israel, as a legal code for all to obey. Plainly God wrote it for all to comprehend or they would not be expected to obey it. Why should the NT be any different?

          • Jack is suggesting that the saving grace of Christ, through faith in One God and seeking His purposes and Will and living accordingly, was operative before Jesus’s birth, yes.

            “… provided that they profess roughly the Nicene Creed, regard them as brothers.”

            Roughly? If they were baptised, Jack would regard them as fellow Christians but deficient in respect of the process of salvation and the means of sanctification and justification which is not addressed in the Creed but is in scripture and developed by Apostolic tradition. And scripture has to be interpreted and understood. This task was given to the earthly Church established by Christ.

            Jesus “opened the gates of heaven” and allowed the righteous dead to go there. God is omnipotent, and He can do as He chooses.

            “Enoch walked with God. Then he vanished because God took him” (Genesis 5:24). Was he assumed into heaven without dying? Ecclesiasticus suggests this: “No one else has ever been created on earth to equal Enoch, for he was taken up from earth” (Ecclesiasticus 49:14). This is reinforced in the Epistle to the Hebrews: “It was because of his faith that Enoch was taken up and did not have to experience death; he was not to be found because God had taken him” (Hebrews 11:5).

            The account of Enoch (and Elijah) demonstrates God can clearly give the blessings of the Christian age to someone prior to the time of Christ, on the basis of what Christ did.

          • Anton

            The principle that one’s faith in the true God can be set off against one’s sins is found in Genesis (!5:6), and it is reasonable to suppose that the second person of the Trinity is involved in that.

          • Jack’s translation reads: “So Abram put his faith in God, and it was reckoned virtue in him.” Not sure it’s about setting faith off against one’s sins. More about faith starting a process of sanctification. If Abram why not Socrates?

          • Anton

            What else is it about? Faith is counted/reckoned/ credited as virtue/righteousness? We all sin so we all need that doing. You ask why not Socrates; I ask why Socrates? The point, as I have said before, is that neither of us knows. But it is a lot harder to infer and repent before a righteous creator God in a gentile country before the incarnation. It is not impossible, to be sure, but anything beyond that would be foolish to say.

          • “We all sin ..”. We do indeed but what is subjective sin which brings guilt?
            One reason it matters is the eternal fate of the unbaptised, the ignorant and the misinformed.

          • Anton

            I don’t understand your question.

          • Then you won’t understand the answer either.

          • Anton

            Please define “subjective sin”, which is not a notion I am familiar with from the Bible. And by the way, asking someone whether they have been baptised tells you what their faith was like at the time they were baptised (provided it was done when they were adult – Hitler was baptised). Asking if they affirm the main tenets of the Nicene Creed tells you about their faith in real time.

          • Sin – it’s all to do with one’s conscience, Anton.

            “As for the Gentiles, though they have no law to guide them, there are times when they carry out the precepts of the law unbidden, finding in their own natures a rule to guide them, in default of any other rule; and this shews that the obligations of the law are written in their hearts; their conscience utters its own testimony …”

            Some people commit sin yet are following their consciences. Their conscience can be mistaken or improperly formed through lack of reason. Or a person may deliberately ignore their conscience. Both will be going against Divine Law. Only one will be wilfully ignoring God. Are they both equally guilty before God?

          • Anton

            Sin is objectively defined by God. There is no such thing as “subjective sin”, although one may feel guilt needlessly, or not feel guilt when one should.

          • Jack is talking about personal guilt and responsibility for the objective transgression of a Divine Law without an awareness of it being sinful.

            Take abortion. You have argued it is permissible up to some limit – division into four cells, as Jack recalls. The Catholic Church teaches it is never permissible once conception has taken place and to do so is the unlawful taking of innocent life. As a Catholic, in conscience, Jack is bound to follow the Church because he believes it speaks for Christ with His authority and guided in its moral teachings by the Holy Spirit and is indefectible.

            If the Catholic Church is correct, would you be personally guilty of murder if you ended a three day old life, even though you do not believe this to be the case?

          • Anton

            I have reservations about the example you give which I’ll explain in a moment. But I affirm the principle that if I do something that God considers sinful which I don’t then I have sinned. I think that’s the main thing you wanted me to clarify, and I have done. Surely you didn’t expect any other answer after I’d said that one may feel guilt needlessly or not feel guilt when one should?

            Re your example, there is nothing in the Pentateuch that delays the execution until after childbirth of pregnant women who have committed capital crimes. On that ground alone I have reservations about the word “murder” for what you describe.

          • But how will God judge you, Anton? That’s Jack’s question. In following your conscience you may be breaching a law of God.

            As for the Pentateuch, as Jack understands it, the Jews don’t grant independent status to a child in the womb other than affirming human life is made in the image of God. The Jewish religion has traditionally interpreted the Torah as implying that a foetus only achieves full personhood when it is half emerged from the birth canal. The Jewish faith is still generally opposed to abortion. An exception occurs if the continuation of a pregnancy poses a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or to her other children. In such cases, the pregnant woman is actually obligated to abort the foetus as the foetus is then considered “radef” – a pursuer.

            Exodus 21:22 indicates that if the baby is lost as a result of a situation in which a man fighting another man hits a pregnant woman and causes a termination of her pregnancy, it is not murder. If the woman died, the guilty man would be executed because she was a human person. The child in the womb? This des not require a death sentence as the child is not considered to be a human person and so it is not murder.

          • Anton

            Whatever can be unambiguously inferred from the Pentateuch may safely be taken to indicate God’s view. The Exodus verse is telling. The “halfway out” view cannot be so inferred and the Talmud is only what the Jews decided many centuries after Moses; I respectfully disagree with the claim that it was given at the same time and handed down orally, for it refers to the Pentateuch hundreds of times yet not vice-versa.

            How will God judge me? My faith will be set against my sins, mercifully. I think this is not the point you are seeking to make, though, so do feel free to keep going.

          • Jack shares your view about the Talmud and the oral law of Moses.
            And no, Jack wouldn’t disagree with your conclusion if you are doing all you can to live according to God’s will and following your conscience. Trusting to God’s Mercy is what we all must do. Through no fault of their own, not everyone is a Catholic or, for that matter, a formal member of the Christian Church.

          • Anton

            I am, however, a Christian who is by choice not a Catholic.

          • Sam

            A Socrates quote :

            All we are is dust in the wind dude!

          • Jack thought that is a Native American expression that Kansas member Kerry Livgren used in the song “Dust in the Wind”.
            Maybe you’re remembering the movie “Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure”. Bill and Ted share philosophy with Socrates, who is impressed when Ted says: “All we are is dust in the wind.”

            It’s a universal idea known to all cultures – in the end, we all eventually die. No matter our possessions or accomplishments, we all end up back in the ground. As Ecclesiastes puts it: “… back goes dust to its parent earth, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”

          • Sam

            Dude

            Of course Bill and Ted : party on dude!!

          • carl jacobs

            Romans 1 is part of Paul’s universal condemnation of man. The argument he makes is generally applicable. And the paganism of Socrates is the evidence that he suppressed the truth.

            Show me some evidence, Jack. Something besides the self-evident basis of your current argument – the man’s character. Because that amounts to God accepting a man because of his works. Don’t go leaping from “He was a good guy” to “He must have been a believer.” Man’s ability to judge “good” is inherently flawed and limited.

          • Have a read of the post to Explorer. Jack doesn’t subscribe to your theology and has a less rigid view of how God and Christ operate.

            Where has Jack based his argument on Socrates “character” or his “works”?

            As quoted: “The Spirit wrote on the heart of Socrate what he needed to do.”, scripture tells us God does this with all men, otherwise how would we be without excuse? ” Socrates read this message, he believed it, he had confidence in it, and he really obeyed it”, – initiated and prompted by the grace of Christ and not his “character” or his “works”.

            “But these things: belief, confidence, and obedience were and are the elements of Pauline faith as we saw at the outset. So Socrates did have Pauline faith, and since Paul says that God provides faith as the way to justification for all, Socrates was justified by faith” – all seems reasonable to Jack unless, that is, you deny man’s cooperation with God in His salvation.

            This bit is more difficult – “But still further, having faith like Abraham, Socrates being justified by faith came under the covenant. As such, without knowing the fact, he was following the Divine Logos. As St. Justin said, for this reason we say Socrates was Christian.”

            What Socrates didn’t have was specific Divine Revelation given to the Jews, but then neither did they until it was given, or to the world by Christ.

            As Fr. William Most asks:
            “Does [God] make any arrangement for the teeming millions in the Far East? In America before Columbus? For babies who just happen to die without baptism? or even for miscarriages?”

            He answers:
            “St. Paul is very insistent in saying: He does care. In 1 Timothy 2.4: “God wills all men to be saved.” And in Romans 3.29: “Is He the God of the Jews only? No, He is also God of the gentiles?” That is: if He had made salvation depend on keeping the law of Moses He would seem to care about only Jews. But He must also have made some provision for those who never heard of that law – or of anything else, being mere babies?”

            And adds:

            “Here we add the help of St. Justin Martyr, who in his first Apology, written 145-59, said in #46 that some in the past who had been considered atheists were really Christians, since they followed the Logos, the Divine Word. He gives as an example, Socrates – who, incidentally, was far from being homosexual. Plato quotes Socrates many times saying that one who seeks the truth should have as little as possible to do with the things of the body!

            But we still need to ask how that could work out that some like Socrates could be Christian by following the Logos, of which they had not even heard. Justin in his second Apology #10 added that the Logos is within each person.

            Now of course that is not a spatial presence- spirits do not take up or use space. But we say a spirit is present wherever it produces an effect. So what effect did the Logos cause in the soul of Socrates? We turn back to St. Paul. In Romans 2.15 he said that the Spirit writes the law in the hearts of each person. That is, the Spirit interiorly makes known to each one how he should live.”

          • Dominic Stockford

            I know because the Bible tells me – he had no excuse… “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” (Romans 1:20)

          • Well exactly and Socrates, it is maintained, did know God through these means.

        • bluedog

          ‘Socrates was a pagan’. So was Cicero, but many of his ideas can be described as proto-Christian.

          • carl jacobs

            I don’t know what a proto-Christian is. I know “alive in Christ” and “dead in sin.”

          • bluedog

            A huge topic. Some of the better Classicists, such as Robin Lane-Fox, a fellow of All Souls, Oxford, have opined that strands of Roman thought in the period immediately before the birth of Christ were approaching Christianity in a sociological sense. Cicero’s De Officiis is the prime example, it being recommended by St Ambrose in 390 as a Christian source of moral authority. Wiki is your friend.

          • carl jacobs

            Let me clarify. I don’t know what a proto-Christian is because there is nothing to know. There is no such animal in Scripture. You are inventing something out of thin air.

          • bluedog

            ‘You are inventing something out of thin air.’ Correct. But there’s no word to describe what I am trying to say. So I’ve invented one using generally understood terms. If you don’t get the point – no matter.

          • carl jacobs

            I get the point. It’s just wrong. You are inventing a type of man that doesn’t exist – something between alive and dead.

          • bluedog

            Over to you for your suggestion. Clearly neither Cicero or Seneca were Christians as they pre-dated Christ. Yet the leaders of the Early Church regarded their writings as eligible as sources of moral guidance to Christians. Can you think of a term to describe a man or a body of thought in that category?

          • carl jacobs

            Yes. “Dead in sin.”

            The fact that an unbeliever may write something useful and profitable does not indicate anything about his spiritual state. I can find all sorts of useful guidance in Japanese culture. That doesn’t make a Buddhist writer from Japan a proto-Christian.

          • bluedog

            But St Thomas Aquinas doesn’t refer to Buddhists! If the writings of Cicero are sinful, why are they lauded by Christian Saints as exemplars? Is this because the Saints did not benefit from the teachings of Calvin and are themselves sinners?

          • carl jacobs

            The specific instance is an example of the general principle. If I learn of filial piety from Japan, have I learned an evil thing? Thus I may learn from unbelievers. But I must filter what they teach through Scripture.

            What you are trying to do is bootstrap a spiritual state for the teacher on the basis of teachings you find admirable. The writings you admire are not the sum total of the man.

          • bluedog

            ‘The writings you admire are not the sum total of the man.’ There is no suggestion that they are. However, late in life Cicero wrote a profound essay that is relevant even today. It was certainly regarded as highly relevant in Christian late-Antiquity. Clearly my attempt to devise a term to describe transitional thinkers such as Cicero has detracted from the value of his work and an open-minded study thereof.

          • How can totally depraved men, “dead in their sin”, understand filial piety or love for their neighbour?

          • CliveM

            Carl

            All that is truthful and righteous is of God. If someone speaks truth where else can it come?

            When the pre Christians searched for truth, it was God they were looking for.

          • But who’s to say it wasn’t the eternal Logos at work in particular men before the incarnation of Christ?

          • The Explorer

            Look, it’s like with PC. It’s all your fault if you were born a white male.

          • bluedog

            Indeed, Mr Explorer. One recognises that one is irredeemably sinful for pointing out that the Early Church venerated the writing of pre-Christian thinkers.

          • The Explorer

            There have always been two views on this. Justin Martyr: “Whatever has been well said is ours.” Tertullian, “Wheat has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” Th897is is just a continuation of the debate the Church has always had.

          • Pubcrawler

            Justin is correct re ethics; Tertullian is correct re theology.

          • On one level this is true. There is nothing of the Revelation of God plan for our salvation through Jesus Christ in pagan writers. However, where do ideas of a Supreme Creator and Godly ethics, consistent with the Christian Revelation, come from if not from the Holy Spirit and the laws of God written on our hearts?

          • The Explorer

            Yes, that’s a useful distinction.

          • CliveM

            Agreed. It doesn’t accord with a just God, simply a vengeful one.

          • Pubcrawler

            Seneca is a contemporary. It is conceivable that he could have encountered or been aware of the first Christian community in Rome.

          • There you go …. it’s either total depravity of imputed righteousness. On the other hand, perhaps most men are somewhere between “life and death” as we work out our salvation through cooperating with the grace of God.

          • The Explorer

            If you and I were arguing that Christ is not necessary for salvation, there’d be an issue. But that’s not what we’re saying. We’re asking if it’s possible to access Christ if you’ve never heard of Him.

          • Indeed. Rather the question is: is it possible God gives His grace and an interior relationship with Christ to those willing to receive this?

          • Anton

            Could we get constructive and outline 2 or 3 stands of Roman thought that supposedly matched Christianity?

            I have read this claim re part of the Aeneid and having read that work am sceptical.

          • bluedog

            From De Officiis:

            ‘We are not born, we do not live for ourselves alone; our country, our friends, have a share in us.’

            ‘Let us remember that justice must be observed even to the lowest.’

            ‘It is the function of justice not to do wrong to one’s fellow-men; of considerateness, not to wound their feelings; and in this the essence of propriety is best seen.’

            Then there is the Mithraic Cult that preceded Christianity and was wide-spread in the Roman Army. It’s theology does not survive, although it is thought to be of Persian, possibly Zoroastrian origin. But its ritual includes the killing of a bull by the god Mithras as a method of redemption, and a banquet in which Mithras shares a meal with the Sun. There was apparently a hierarchy of adepts or priests with degrees of worship as well as a catechism. Separately, the Romans celebrated the birth of the invincible Sun on December 25th. Mithraic practice can be traced to as late as the 4th century AD.

          • Anton

            Those quotes are ten a penny in all cultures; the point is that Christian legislators actually managed to enact them. I don’t see what the Mithraic cult has in common with Christianity.

      • dannybhoy

        “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”

        It could be that men of good will who not only sought after God but tried to live their lives in accordance with their understanding of Him would be accepted by Him and would accept Christ as the one who sacrificed Himself for their sins so that they might be fully reconciled to God..

        • That’s a very Roman Catholic view, Danny. Not “Reformed Catholicism” at all.

          • dannybhoy

            Just because I don’t accept the assumptions of Catholicism doesn’t mean they don’t have some things right.
            None of us has all of the truth, and in a sense it is those differences staunchly defended but expressed in Christian love and humility, helps us to keep reasonably balanced.

  • DanJ0

    That too. It’s the other side of the coin. You may recall over the years I’ve also argued that if Christianity was true then we ought to see a significant sociological difference in more Christian societies, something we would struggle to attribute simply to organisation and collective aspiration as happens in clubs and societies etc. On an individual level, I’d have thought one ought to see a progressive improvement in behaviour over time too after someone has self-identified as a Christian. That’s assuming good works are good in the commonly understood sense as well as good works in the sense of following your god’s will wherever it takes you through a shunting by its Holy Spirit thing.

  • len

    Many people claim to be going to Heaven because they are a ‘good person’.
    These people have done good works, given to charities, helped their neighbours so what rules them out of ‘their right’ to go to heaven?
    I envisage many people standing at ‘the pearly gates’ demanding their rights as they do on earth.
    I remember hearing a story of exactly this scenario someone banging on the Gates of Heaven demanding entry..After a while a voice was heard saying” Let them in”
    The person burst into Heaven and looked around..
    People were all clad in shimmering white garments and looked at this person with compassion, who suddenly felt naked and unclean just as the first couple had felt in the Garden so long ago.
    Then this person felt his guilt and the shame and only wanted to run and hide as they did…

    Only Jesus Christ can clothe us with HIS righteousness and prepare us for an eternal future but when we pass through death into eternity that time has passed.

    • David

      Amen to that.
      Just based a sermon on that very point.

  • David

    The discussion reminds of a point read long ago, namely the Catholic doctrine (idea?) of “baptism by desire”.
    This could apply to anyone who has not heard the Gospel, of salvation through repentance and then faith in Christ, because maybe they lived before Christ, or somewhere that Christianity hadn’t reached, but nevertheless they have a deep longing for God, and for His truth. They may be influenced by whatever other religions are available locally, or not.
    But their strong longing for God is regarded by Him as a “baptism of desire”. Their seeking, their desire is counted unto them as sufficient to allow entry into The Kingdom. It has a ring of both justice and compassion about it, so it makes appeals to me. I agree that it has no Biblical support, or does it…… ?

    • dannybhoy

      This is explored quite fully in Roger Forster and Paul Marston’s book “God’s strategy in human history”, where they examine the meaning of righteousness.
      That those such as Abraham were not considered righteous because they were sinless but because they loved God and were obedient to Him.
      For me this makes much more sense and fits in with Abraham’s assertion that “Shall not the God of all the earth do right?”

      • Dominic Stockford

        And, to be quite clear, Abram loved the one true God, not “whatever religions are available locally”.

        “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” Romans 1:20

        • dannybhoy

          Ha
          That’s the verse I was trying to remember, but there’s another verse in Psalms I think that refers to the world bearing witness to the nature of God?

          • chiefofsinners

            The heavens declare the glory of God… There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Psalm 19. I’m with you two. God judges each person according to how much light they have received.

          • dannybhoy

            Thank you brother. That’s the one. Just couldn’t think of it..

  • steroflex

    I put some words from a speech done by Mr Welby on TES lesson plan website. So far, only a handful (under 10) people took it up, Usually hundreds of people download.