Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Are You Saved? maybe? I hope?

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit...If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned" - Jn 15:1,2,6 (NIV)

"So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, 'For three years now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?' " 'Sir,' the man replied, 'leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.' " - Luke 13:7-9 (NIV)

"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned." -Hebrews 6:4-8 (KJV)

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: “ For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul." Hebrews 10:26-39 (NKJV)


I like in the King James, the vineyard owner (God) says of the baren tree "why cumbereth it the ground?" - strong language.

It says something interesting about God's character that he is so filled with wrath about Christians who don't bear good fruit that they don't deserve the ground they walk on.

Here's another famous quote I came across:
"The proof of love is in the works. Where love exists, it works great things. But when it ceases to act, it ceases to exist." -Pope St. Gregory the Great

I am less than thrilled with thinking about all of this. Protestantism has no answer to these verses except a list of contrary verses that go something like: John 5:18 John 10:27-30 John 14:16-17 Romans 8:37-39 . Once again (what a shock) we are left debating on the principle of Sola Scriptura, a foundation without a foundation, as I like to call it.

Catholicism has an answer, but it isn't a nice one. It's called the Sacrament of Penance, later it was renamed Confession because 'Penance' sounded scary, and then it was renamed 'Reconciliation', but despite this "Mighty Ducks" trick play of switching your name for victory, the result is the same old thing. You confess, and you're given Penance. Protestants start screaming now about nothing in the bible ---whoops:
"On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together...Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." - John 20:19,21
And for those of you who know Church History and Historical theology, the Bishops are the modern day equivalent to the Apostles who give this job to subordinate priests. It's there, in the bible, just as valid as the Great Commission. And until John Ortberg or Bill Hybels comes out with the latest book "Blissfully Unaware: 12 steps to ignoring verses that don't make you feel happy and/or don't fit your theology", it seems we must actually address the problem. I feel like the King of Mean Bible Verses today.

See in Catholic Theology they consider these wilful sins, 'mortal sins' (see 1 John 5), which too are in the bible (*cough - until you mistranslate them as something else, like you did with 'bishop'.). If you commit a mortal sin, it's like a "Get out of Heaven Free" card, in the game of Soteriological Monopoly. You go to Hell. So if the Pope got up and said "I like Nickelback" (I think it's a mortal sin) then Papa Benny 16 would be having a 'dance with the devil in the pale moonlight' unless he confessed to a priest... or I guess himself? since he's like St. Peter circa 21st century.

Anyway, all this to say that in reading those verses and such I think I've realized that I'm not saved. I'd like to be, I just don't live well enough, every sin I commit is pretty much a mortal sin. But this brings me to even more ridiculous things about Christianity in general.

I was talking to Hannah the other day, and I realized that whether you're Catholic or Protestant, one of our doctrines still is that the Dalai Lama and Gandhi are going to Hell, but convert to Christianity, Son of Sam - David Burkewitz the serial killer, is going to Heaven. Isn't that weird? That in our theology, God is more pleased with the serial killer than other men who worked so hard to make the world a better place, and strove for Christian Ideals, even if they didn't know it or do it actively?

There's something so elegant and just about salvation by works. It is just. As Aristotle would say "Justice is giving to each man, that which he deserves". But in Christianity there really isn't any Aristotelian Justice. I mean, poor Christ, the only man who doesn't deserve it, suffers the wrath of God, and then bad people are made good. That doesn't seem just at all. Catholicism again answers this with Infused righteousness, where you actually merit your own salvation (work out your own salvation in fear and trembling-Philippians), albeit, through the grace of Christ.

So I wonder if I will see Jesus, having committed many mortal sins, and having tasted the Holy Spirit and turned away from him daily, and having every action of mine as utterly inadequate to appease a Holy God. Calvinism teaches that if God sent everyone to Hell, he would still be Good, and it would be a fair choice, so is my trouble with this fact, ingratitude? I mean, someone has to go to Hell. Someone does for sure, so am I just being self-centred to think myself as not 'someone'. I guess I'll have good company, I can talk to the Dalai Lama, Gandhi, Richard Dawkins, and see if Dante was right about the whole Popes in Hell deal.

Of course I've been overtly trusting of Catholicism throughout this whole thing. Maybe the Catholics are lying or mistaken, maybe God just gave us Christ as the Word of God, and scripture is a good guess (this would be the logical conclusion as the canon of scripture was decided by Catholic councils), and we all are just supposed to enjoy ourselves. I don't think so though, it seems to easy.

I saw a group on facebook with a title like 'I love Allah and hope he forgives me', and I thought, hmm, that could be a Catholic title for a group probably. Is all we have hope that Christ will have merited our forgiveness? I guess. So I'm feeling very Islamic today. Strangely all the guilt and fear of Hell does little to nothing to abate my oncoming sins for today. They will occur as sure as the Sun will set and rise again, and I am left in this Manichean world of corruptness, and sin, in hope of grace.

The Calvinist preacher Jonathon Edwards wrote a sermon called 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God' and I quite like it, he wrote "Therefore let every one that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come". ... I just spent half an hour trying to find this quote to end on, but I can't find it, so I leave you with Jon Edwards (I think one of the most overrated writers ever, but that's just opinion).

So the Protestant tells me to awake and fly to Christ, and the Catholic tells me: "Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus" ... Outside the Church, there is no Salvation.


  1. >"So the Protestant tells me to awake and fly to Christ, and the Catholic tells me: "Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus" ... Outside the Church, there is no Salvation."

    Actually, the Catholic would tell you to fly to Christ in the persona of the priest and have Christ absolve you of your sin through his priest. (Keep in mind that penance has nothing to do with the eternal effects of sin for which Christ has made full restitution. Penance has to do with our restitution for the temporal effects of sins on others).

    However, EENS could be a very good answer if one understood that the protestant is telling you to fly to Christ because they have no authority to absolve sin. In that case EENS is an good answer as

  2. >"penance has nothing to do with the eternal effects of sin"

    Doesn't it though? because it removes mortal sin from the soul of an individual. It determines heaven and hell, sounds like a pretty big eteral effect to me.