Responding to Theology Questions from Oct 11

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Responding to Theology Questions from Oct 11

Post by Admin on Thu Oct 12, 2017 6:57 pm

Several of the questions you asked will be addressed in upcoming chapters. Let's revisit these later and make sure you feel you got some satisfactory answers.


  • Is Bird implying that Jesus was the physical manifestations on earth (sometimes known as theophanies)?
  • What does it mean that Jesus is the "Logos" or "Wisdom" or the "Word of God"?
  • If Jesus was with God in the beginning, was the fall Plan A? Or was Jesus death Plan B because of the fall? What would his role have looked like if the fall hadn't happened?
  • Was Christ "Jesus" before creation? Was his humanity only achieved after the incarnation?
  • Is Christ still Jesus in heaven? Or is his humanity gone after the resurrection?


Last edited by Admin on Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:53 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Responding to Theology Questions from Oct 11

Post by Admin on Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:32 pm

Are people with heretical beliefs of God saved? (All those in the early church trying to understand Jesus and the Gospel.)

We must be extremely careful about pronouncing judgment on people's eternal destiny, deciding whether they are saved or not. God alone reserves the right to make that call. Probably the one verse everyone knows is "judge not, that you be not judged" (Matthew 7).

A few scriptures lay the basis for how we think through this question. First, we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus (Eph 2:8-9) - we aren't saved on the basis of how much we know, or how clearly we can articulate doctrine (thank God!). At the same time, our trust must be placed in the Jesus revealed in the gospel, not simply a generic belief in God (Rom 10:9-10). 1 John tells us that if we reject core truths about Jesus then we do not know God. We must believe that Jesus is the Christ (2:22), that he came in the flesh (4:2), that he was sent from God (4:3), that he is the Son of God (4:15), and that eternal life is found in the Son (5:11-12). It seems these basic parts of the gospel must be believed in order for someone to be saved.

So what if someone rejects the Trinity? Are they saved? Again, that's very hard for us to know. There's certainly no verse that says you must believe in doctrine of the Trinity to be saved! The early church fathers believed in Christ, in his divine Sonship, that he came in the flesh, that he was in some sense divine. They didn't have the language yet to describe that as "the Trinity." But they basically believed the same core things about Jesus. Are they saved? I can't say, but I certainly hope so and have every reason to assume the answer is yes!

Many Christians throughout history have found is useful to make a distinction between calling someone a "Christian" and pronouncing that someone is "saved." Only God can decide whether or not someone is saved, but the church has a responsibility to define its boundaries as to who is in and who is out. Another way to express this is to say there is a "visible church" and an "invisible church". The invisible church is the true church, known only to God, because he can see into people's hearts and alone knows their eternal destiny. Humans can't see like that, so we do our best to set boundaries that reflect what scripture says. There are people in churches who are Christians outwardly, but will not be saved because they haven't believed in Christ. There are probably also people who are outside the visible church who have genuinely believed in Christ and will be saved.

So Christians have come up with a bare bones set of beliefs like the Apostles Creed, or Athanasian Creed, and said that all Christians must believe these to be recognized as Christians. That is a way to define the visible church, and give our best guess as to who is right with God. Most churches place a belief in the Trinity on that list. So they would consider someone who rejects the Trinity as outside the church and therefore not recognize them as a Christian. But note: that does not necessarily mean we are saving they are not truly saved. God sees their heart, and they may have true faith in Jesus. There is hope for people beyond the visible boundaries of orthodox Christianity. But there are boundaries, to serve as a warning that we must hold to the truth about Jesus to have confidence before God. It's a constant balancing act of grace and truth, of hope and fear-of-the-Lord.

Does that make sense? What follow up questions do you have? Or anyone else want to chime in on this question?

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Re: Responding to Theology Questions from Oct 11

Post by SHKelly on Wed Oct 18, 2017 7:38 pm

Yeah totes! I think that Rom. 1-2 get at that too. We are saved by how we respond to what we know. What would you say is the creed/statement that is the standard? Nicene, Apostles, or even just 1 Cor. 15:3-5 and similar verses in Scripture?

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Re: Responding to Theology Questions from Oct 11

Post by Admin on Sat Oct 21, 2017 2:03 am

1 Corinthians 15 seems to be the basic gospel that one must believe in order to be saved. So one must believe that to be a member of the true, invisible church.

The Nicene Creed is the recognized standard of Christianity, being accepted by the whole united church. The Apostles Creed is kind of a bare-bones version of the Nicene, so I like that as a basic standard of Christianity. If someone believes those things, I'd see them as a Christian.

Of course, that only addresses doctrinal issues. It doesn't get at things like morality. Do you recognize someone as a Christian if they check all the right doctrinal boxes, but advocate for adultery? Abortion? Same-sex relationships? It gets tricky.

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