Monthly Archives: July 2016

Pistis Christou

Salvation through atonement, atonement through participation, participation because of faith, a draw toward the good because of grace, God’s active presence in the world.


God’s active presence in the world is grace. Grace produces faith, which is a draw toward all that is good. Because of this draw, we participate in doing the good. Through participation, there is atonement. Through the experience of atonement, we find salvation.

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Faith Versus Wor…Repentance?

In all my years in studying Philosophy, it is a challenge at times to continue to love it. The reason is that even among professional thinkers,  often, the conversation isn’t much more than intellectual, mental masturbation. Who frets, for example, over arguing the impossibility of motion rather than simply standing up and leaving the conversation? Or, who would attend to an infinite landscape of metaphysical propositioning where the only limit isn’t verity but essentially, good grammar? The only thing which makes these circumstances worse is the introduction of laymen; those curiously all-knowing souls who are quite adept at quoting large-minded dead guys but having the ironic inability to reason fully or at least nearly helpfully. And this is my life, because it is identical to Theology and both are my passions. There is fortunately just enough of an offset of passion over these peaves for me to continue in either.

I say all of that because apparently lapsarianism, dispensationalism, tongues and hosts of other very uninteresting things are not enough to keep us from adding one more to our Christian thinking. Not faith versus works, but now, faith versus repentance. Apparently we have finally taken this question seriously though it’s not at all a serious question. What makes it serious these days is the fact that, especially in Protestantism, Christians have no idea of the meanings of the words they’re using; here, it’s entirely from not understanding what faith is and not thinking through how scripture describes it. Today’s fret is: which comes first, chicken or egg, faith or repentance.

“Faith” is “pistis” which is a draw, a persuasion, a disposition to the good. You cannot ask what precedes faith. Faith is the result of God’s active presence is the world, which is “grace”. Both are required for salvation. Both are facts of the matter for all people everywhere, like air. Both are entirely sufficient for salvation. We choose neither. We deny or ascent to neither. Our only choice is either responding to the draw to the good, which is God, by participating in it or we respond by not participating.

Atonement is the experience of doing the good, where we get the clarity that we are more than we thought and, the fullest sense of what God is like and what his will is. Salvation is in the transforming nature of the experience of encountering God in those moments.

Repentance is synonymous with faith. It is what one does, which is the good to do, when one has turned away from it. However to the question, without an awareness of moral correctness, there is no knowing that there is anything from which to turn, to repent of, or what to turn toward. But this has been, again, imprinted on every human heart.

There is only a draw to the good. There is no “true” draw to the good or special invocation of it by professing certain ideas as being the case; as if there is favor from God because somebody finally correctly got what God is really up to. And there is no exclusivity in Christianity, as anyone living in faith, as defined here, is in God and God in him. That’s regardless of whether a person acknowledges God or Christ or blasphemes either. Johannine literature and the Synoptics are clear on the point. But to bring this point all home, grace and faith are efficacious for salvation, and the only way it becomes impossible is when a person continually rejects the natural disposition to do the good, moots his conscious.

Just a thought.

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Critics of Moral Influence Theory generally only complain that there has to be more to it, that people hearing Jesus’ words and learning about how he lived just isn’t enough for atonement or salvation. But here’s the rub: these critics happy with Satisfaction or Substitution Theory de-emphasize Christ and underestimate or undervalue the fact that atonement is an experience of God and salvation is what results from it through the transformation in that encounter. In these cases, we don’t care how Jesus saves but only that he does, and all emphasis here is on the consequences of God’s wrath. So, this is the good news and that’s it.

We can’t pretend to care about Jesus — his life, his message — because these critics have admitted necessarily that Christ is not what atonement is about. That’s in the very same way that a boat is necessary for water-skiing but water-skiing isn’t about the boat. Jesus is in this case, a means to an end. This entails objectifying Jesus as a possession which, if you “have Jesus”, you get something you desire (necessarily more than the means of gaining it).

To answer these folks, the question that’s begging is why exactly the experience of God’s presence in the world, and the natural human draw to participate in it by doing the good, and seeing Jesus as exemplar as the fullness of life and the fullness of our humanity revealed, and as the very image of the nature of God and his intent … why this is not sufficient for atonement or salvation? Why does there need to be more? Scripture is clear and replete in affirming that grace and faith — God’s presence in the world and the draw toward the good, which is God — are the only means to salvation. If it’s just that Jesus must be a new replacement for traditional Jewish legalism, then no replacement has been made at all. This can’t be the case, for to say that Jesus ended legalistic, economic, transactional systems of sin and propitiation is to say that nothing really ended at all. In Satisfaction and Substitution, Jesus is eternality the scapegoat, because it is on us, they say, to “choose Jesus”. If the cross in fact does away with these systems, then salvation cannot be contingent to our consent, just as through Adam, our damnation wasn’t either.

At last, it is an experience of God through participation in the good, known clearly through Jesus the Nazarene, that leads us to the clearest understanding we can have of ourselves and our relation to God and what he wills.

If it turns out that a theory like Moral Influence actually lead us into an interest in Christ, and if it turns out theories like Satisfaction and Substitution induce no interest in knowing Christ himself, then indeed some theory is insufficient. One simply must ask what matters about any of them and which centers around Christ as an end unto himself; worth experiencing.

Just a thought.

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Diving In …

Faith and works is a false dichotomy because neither are the means to anything but experience, and what is atoning is the experience of God, and God, being the good, goodness, is found in participation with it; and this, by hearing and doing (James 1:19-27), and indeed, Matthew 7:15-21 only affirms the idea that those who do good are “in me and I in them”. Atonement has nothing to do with professions of faith, or right beliefs, or any beliefs about God at all.

How many scores of passages are there about what Jesus says about salvation? All of them are about repenting, not judging actions including our own, but instead, looking past them into a way of being in the world that is rooted much more deeply in humanity, and discovering it through love? For the literally hundreds of them in the New Testament and Old Testament, they are summed up in James, 1:27 in particular.

Put it this way:

To be a diver is not to jump any particular way into the air and fall into a pool of water. It is to understand through the experience of diving the entire nature of diving, which is far more than creatively dropping through space. However, it is impossible to become a diver without doing just that; diving. Diving must be an experience, and so too must atonement.

Salvation indeed requires works because one can only experience salvation through the sacramental act of goodness; salvation is not the act but the experience of the meaning of goodness through participation with it, by the doing of it, participation naturally requiring action. Faith is not belief but the draw to the good, the desire to do it in the first place. Grace and faith, having nothing to do with anything but God, are his gifts to humanity. Our part is responding to the draw, in it.

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​Whatever we find in reality, it is not dubious at all since not only was it possible, it literally is actual. To say something about reality is dubious without God — the existence of morality, logic, math, butterbeer — because it must have some grander explanation is dubious. The most dubious sort of “grander” is of course, “god”; a being which lay completely outside our ordinary experience and our ability to conceive of, even our ability to say exists. And it must be “god” because anything else is still too ordinary! Yet so “grand” is “god” that by definition, he cannot be related to reality at all, especially to say that without “god”, something in or about reality is impossible, though again, it is the only thing in such a conversation that is actual at all.

If there is no means by which we can tell the difference between a universe with God and a universe without God, then God is all that can be said to be dubious and nothing else, no matter how queer or long the odds for any fact of the matter in reality.

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Rehashing The God Debates

​There can be no evidence for God; a being which transcends reality, that which evidence is.

There can be no evidence for God; a being which is imminent in reality, ordinary and indistinguishable from it.

There are no absolutes aside from logical absolutes, which are all trivial; axioms, tautology, truism. All else are propositions which are labeled true, not via any means of assurity in knowing, but through warrant and justification; deliberation.

Logic doesn’t entail truth in itself. Its predicate is reasonableness and it isn’t something about logic itself that leads us to accept any premise, relations of premises, flow of premises to conclusions. Logic also doesn’t prove anything in reality. It represents how people think, not how reality is.

Sound arguments for and against the existence of God are easily had. Given their acceptance is not based on evidence, not based on logic, there is only a basis of abduction. In other words, what makes the most sense to say, given one’s experiences and impressions of the world.

So, God and any debates about God are merely in all cases, assertions that “My impression is better than yours.”

A Theist and an Atheist are best made distinct from one another by the single fact that one has an impression the other lacks.

At the end of the pursuit of folks debating, there isn’t some truth discovered. What is owned is that God is a metaphysical proposition, and then by definition, neither true nor false (though there is a case after all, if one is not an Ignostic), but instead, only an idea that is meaningful or meaningless, worth something or worthless.

What matters about these senseless debates, and the only thing that can, is that one leaves them having said something worth hearing.

Sadly, few times is this ever the case.

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