Saturday, January 28, 2023

Bootstrapping Salvation: The Disturbing Armstrongist Concept of Qualifying for the Kingdom

 

Baron von Munchausen pulling himself and his horse out of a swamp by his hair.



Bootstrapping Salvation

The Disturbing Armstrongist Concept of Qualifying for the Kingdom

 

By Oran

 

"FOR by GRACE are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast…!” …First, what do WE believe? Perhaps some few have thought we of the WORLD TOMORROW program, and of the staff of The PLAIN TRUTH magazine, believe in salvation BY WORKS! So, at least, it has been said of us!  But we DON'T! WE BELIEVE, THOROUGHLY, EVERY LETTER of that scripture you just read!”   (Garner Ted Armstrong, “Are You ‘Under the LAW,’ or ‘Under GRACE’?” 1963.)

The fabled Baron Von Munchausen rescued himself from deep mud by pulling himself out by his own bootstraps.  Earlier in the era of high technology, this metaphor was used to refer to starting computer systems.  The dilemma was “we need the system to start the system.”  So bootstrapping software, like a scaled-down operating system that automatically runs when power is supplied, was created for startup purposes.  Hence, we now “boot” mainframes, laptops, and workstations.  There is an analogy here between this technical usage and Armstrongist soteriology.  It is an analogy about bringing yourself to life.  A critical component of Armstrongist soteriology is a process called “qualifying.”  Qualifying will be the focus of this essay.  And unpacking this concept will tell us if Garner Ted Armstrong’s statement above is genuinely descriptive of Armstrongist soteriology or if the statement is just facile. 

Note:   The Appendix at the end contains quotations from Armstrongist literature.  The first numbered statement in the Appendix, for example, will be referred to as Q1 in the text.  There is no single, crisp definition of “qualifying” in Armstrongist literature that I could find.  So, I have had to attach this Appendix to assemble its meaning from scattered publications.  This is the downside of decentralized booklet theology.  

“Qualifying” and Dualism in Armstrongist Soteriology

Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA) defined salvation as the resurrection (see Q2). It is an end-of-life event. It is the outcome of struggling to accomplish good works over a lifetime. This struggle is referred to as “qualifying.”  At times in Armstrongist writing, qualification is a separate but parallel track next to salvation. Salvation is considered a gift (see Q1) and qualification is considered training for a position of responsibility or role in the Kingdom of God.  The idea is that you might be a city manager or mayor under the government of God.  At other times qualification is extended to salvation itself. You can find a Good News article titled “Qualifying for Eternal Life” written by Charles Hunting. Salvation is essentially eternal life. More explicitly, in another place, HWA writes that if you do not undergo spiritual development (qualifying) in this life you will lose salvation (see Q4).  The Bible does not speak directly of qualifying except in one scripture and that will be cited later.   

The principal features of qualifying are:

1.     It is performing works over a lifetime, variously described, but including overcoming, overcoming human nature, overcoming Satan, developing holy, righteous character, and spiritual growth. (see Q3, Q8) 

2.     If one qualifies, one will receive salvation. (see Q7)

3.     If one does not qualify, one will not receive salvation.  (see Q4, Q5)

At this point, I believe we should all become astute ornithologists and observe that “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.”  This is salvation by works.  And it stands in contravention to the opening quotation by Garner Ted Armstrong.  

In some Armstrongist publications, salvation is portrayed as a gift by grace through faith. The quote from Garner Ted Armstrong above comes from an article of this type.  Other articles may focus principally on qualifying, which, we have seen, is a surrogate term for salvation by works.  And then there are articles where both concepts co-reside.  The fact that Armstrongist soteriology encompasses both “by grace through faith” and “works” (qualifying) creates an internally inconsistent duality.  

This duality can create semantic confusion in some of the articles dealing with salvation in Armstrongist publications.  The burden of Armstrongist soteriology is carried by two concepts: the term salvation can have the mainstream Christian meaning of being saved as a gift by grace through faith while qualification emphasizes being saved through performance.  The latter entails the meaning of “earned” because it is something that you must do in order to receive something.  It is a transaction, not a gift.  These two concepts stand in opposition to each other but can occur together or separately in published material.  The two concepts are never really merged, nor can they be and still remain Biblical, so they form a static duality.  The reader must constantly be aware of this duality, of the tension between these two concepts, when reading Armstrongist material.  Any particular writing may follow one line of reasoning or the other or both.  

The implication of this duality is captured in the following formula:

Salvation = Grace plus Faith plus Works

The formulation above stands in opposition to the Christian formulation which is typically:

Salvation = Grace plus Faith

The difference between the two formulations is that in the Armstrongist version works are considered an input to salvation, a pre-condition for salvation (see Q6), while in Christianity works are considered an output of salvation, the results of a saved and changed life.  If works are an output of salvation, as in Christianity, then the Christian in doing good works does nothing to generate salvation.  If the works are an input to salvation, as in Armstrongism, then the Armstrongist must generate works in order to receive salvation.  Works are present in both formulations but their role is quite different, so different that the issue becomes a matter of heresy versus orthodoxy.  

I have read elsewhere in Armstrongist publications that since the works are not the follower’s works but works of God carried out through the follower that Armstrongist soteriology cannot possibly be salvation by our works.   In other words, Armstrongist salvation looks and behaves like salvation by works but it is not really so.  This is a novel attempt at resolving the issue of faith versus works and assumes the follower is a kind of biological robot who must execute determined actions but is not really a participant in those actions.   This interpretation denies any vestige of personal free will and undermines the principle of reward for works. 

Exegetical Counterpoints

The concept of qualification is in the New Testament but it is lost in the KJV translation. It stands out in the ESV translation of Colossians 1:12:

“… giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light … He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son…” 

“Qualified” here is the Greek word hikanoŇć and in most Bible translations this word is translated as “qualified” or “enabled.”  In this scripture, we see that God has already qualified us.  Not only has he already qualified us, but he has also already transferred us to the Kingdom of God.  This means that any good works subsequent to conversion done by the Christian proceed from salvation and are not a factor in the causation of salvation. Also, one can deduce from the Armstrongist approach, that any transferal to the Kingdom of God must be held in suspension awaiting the completion of a lifetime of acceptable works, which belief is in conflict with the second verse above.  

Another illuminating scripture is Galatians 3: 21 (ESV):

“…For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.”

But the Abrahamic precedent is that righteousness is by faith.  This means that keeping the Law never has a life-giving functional role in the formula for salvation.   So, the “works” term in the following formula renders the equation invalid: Salvation = Faith plus Grace plus Works.  Emphasis on works tends towards a praxis, if not a doctrine, of perfectionism (see Q9).  There is nothing wrong with trying to be perfect.  There is something very wrong with believing that you are perfect and it will result in your salvation – that you have qualified.  This amounts to an utter rejection of Pauline theology. 

Conclusion

Salvation cannot be bootstrapped.  In the real world, Baron Von Munchausen must resign himself to forever being stuck in the mud.  Salvation is not our work but the work of God’s grace in our lives.  This motivated Paul to raise the absurd idea in his discourse with the Galatians that they seemed to believe that they started with the Spirit and now are being perfected by the flesh.  Faith does lead to action, however.  It is just that actions are not a cause of salvation but are correlated with salvation.  To take the phenomenon of these good actions, which are an outward sign of justification, and subsume it into a concocted program of “qualification” is to loop back to salvation by works – to start with the Spirit and try to finish with the flesh.  Without a doubt salvation as a gift is good news.  But salvation as something that must be gained by inconstant and unreliable human force against impossible odds is unreservedly bad news.  And in this distinction, we find a watershed divide in soteriology between Christianity and Classical Rupertism-Armstrongism.

Solo Christo!

Appendix of Armstrongist Quotations

This source material comes from Classical Armstrongism of the last century and not the Post-Classical Armstrongism of the many current, small Armstrongist denominations.  

1.     The Armstrongist marquee statement about salvation:

 

“Remember we shall be rewarded according to our works or spiritual growth, but salvation is a free gift.” (HWA, Mystery of the Ages (MOA), P. 254.)

2.     Salvation in Armstrongism defined:

 

“…To be glorified fully with Him, to enter into the God family, the very Family of God, the Kingdom of God, and be born by a resurrection into that Kingdom (Phil. 3:21). That is what salvation means.”  (HWA, “What is Salvation?”, Tomorrow’s World Magazine, November-December, 1970)

3.     Qualifying is the same as spiritual growth:

 

“He who qualified by spiritual growth and development only half as much shall reign over five cities as his reward.”  (MOA, p. 254.)

4.     Failure to grow spiritually results in the loss of salvation. 

 

“But what of the person who thought he “had it made into the kingdom” without spiritual growth and development? He shall have taken away from him that first portion of the Holy Spirit—he shall lose the salvation he mistakenly thought he had.“ (MOA, p. 254)

5.     Qualifying is not just about training for a role in the Kingdom; it is about opposing sin in your life which relates directly to salvation (see point 6 below). 

 

“Now He's (Jesus) gone up there to receive His crown, and when He comes, He will be crowned with many crowns. And He's coming back to earth soon and to bring you your crown. But you have got to qualify, Jesus had to qualify. He had to live above sin. Now you have not done that, I have not done that, but we have to repent of the way we did, and never do it again.”   (HWA, “Are You Qualifying of Disqualifying Yourself?”, Sermon Transcript, Feast of Tabernacles, no date.)

6.     And Obedience to law is a pre-condition for salvation:

 

“Jesus tells us that our OBEDIENCE to the Ten Commandments is an absolute PREREQUISITE to receiving God's gift of eternal life (Mat. 19:16-17).” (Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, Lesson 17, 1966.)

7.     Qualifying is not just to rule in the Kingdom but to enter it at all.  Inheriting the Kingdom is defined in WCG literature as salvation (see point 2 above). 

 

“THAT'S WHAT YOU ARE CALLED FOR BRETHREN, AND IF YOU CAN'T DO IT, YOU HAVEN'T YET QUALIFIED; YOU'RE NOT READY YET FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD. “(HWA,” Are You Qualifying or Disqualifying Yourself?”, Feast of Tabernacles Sermon, No Date) 

8.     “Qualifying” is equivalent to the term “overcoming.”  Overcoming is on the critical path to salvation. 

 

“In seven other places in Revelation the word "overcometh" is used to designate a person who has qualified. “  (Charles Hunting, “Are You Qualified For Eternal Life - Now?”, Good News Magazine, August, 1966.) 

“If you continue overcoming, growing spiritually — and all this actually through God's power — you shall inherit the Kingdom of God, and be made immortal to live forever in happiness and joy!” (HWA, “What do you mean…SALVATION?”, 1973)

9.     Finally, the idea of qualifying inevitably leads to the ideas that you can keep God’s law and perfectionism:

 

“Then God will give you the Holy Spirit, through which you will receive the love to keep His law.”  (Roderick C. Meredith,” Is OBEDIENCE to God Required for Salvation?”, 1956.)

”If you are really following Christ — LIVING as He lived, DOING as He did — keeping God's LAW as He did…”  (Garner Ted Armstrong,” What Is REAL REPENTANCE?”, The Plain Truth Magazine, December, 1972. )

 


75 comments:

Brian Drawbaugh said...

Works or not? I have incorporated the following analogy because it makes sense to me, as a human involved in a relationship. Why do I honor my wife with a gift on our anniversary? Is it because she has performed a required or expected compilation of works or duties? No. It is because we are in a particular relationship that means something to me. It is the relationship that merits the honor (or reward if you prefer). I do not think that I would give a similar gift if we became divorced, although we might continue to be rather decent people. Neither she nor I in any way earn a reward- it is a product of the relationship.

Anonymous said...

I remember when all of the changes were happening that there was a lot of information flowing around on the internet mailing lists of writings by Robert Brinsmead and Edward Fudge. Both men were instrumental in my understanding of grace and my exit from law keeping and Sabbatarianism

Brinsmead's SABBATARIANISM RE-EXAMINED is still one of the best viewpoints on why Sabbatarianism is not a requirement.

Anonymous said...

Sweet. The only problem is, the culties won't accept this because they see HWA and the ministers as quasi-Biblical characters. No matter how erudite or professorial you appear, Onan, they're going to trust their ministers even though you've got the real goods. But, thanks. The rest of us can dig it.

Anonymous said...

This blog has always been 'grace communion outreach No2'
But the ones running this blog never explain how they love apostasy and sexual immorality.
When one is found, the other is always around for they go together. Always have, always will.

RSK said...

Funny, when Dennis ran his piece on meeting with Tkach, the comments section was filled with venom.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:37

I agree with you. But there is the possibility that out there in Splinterland, someone will take notice. At the margin, maybe a person or two. One must consider that these people have been tenacious in their commitment to cult Rupertism-Armstrongism in spite of convincing counterarguments. Natural selection says they will be the most extreme. An example is Anonymous 12:08, the Artful Dodger. He dodges the issue by simply making counter accusations. He has nothing to say about the content of the essay. And he regards that he has vindicated Armstrongism and his work is done. We know the deal - we were culties at one time.


Oran

Anonymous said...

Brian Drawbaugh:

I believe there is much to your comment. In agreement with your view, there is the following scripture:

"(God) who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship (relationship) of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." (ESV, 1 Corinthians)

This sustaining subsumes the whole operation of salvation including grace, faith and works. What really bothered Paul was the selective exaltation of works. He stated that such people who do this are fallen from grace.

Oran

Anonymous said...

11:34 "Robert Brinsmead - SABBATARIANISM RE-EXAMINED"

Observance of a chronologically-accurate sabbath on a spherical planet, as called for by Ellen G White, Herbert Armstrong, et al, is problematic: The apostle Paul - seemingly a genius IQ - was way ahead on this with his modernist reforms of Judaism: he could have also been acquainted with the works of the Greek masters who had postulated a spherical earth.

Lake of Fire Church of God said...

Oran wrote, "Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA) defined salvation as the resurrection (see Q2). It is an end-of-life event. It is the outcome of struggling to accomplish good works over a lifetime."

MY COMMENT - I would add the qualifying caveat that salvation was defined by HWA as the FIRST resurrection. It was a fundamental belief of HWA and the R/WCG that God was not calling the masses of humanity at any time during man's 6,000-year period of rule on earth, and that Satan was the God of this earth (Rev. 12:9). Therefore, for most of humanity, salvation was not an end-of-life event. As I recall the Church's teaching, for the majority of human beings, those who were never called and converted are to be resurrected as physical human beings in the SECOND resurrection and given their chance for salvation at that time.

Richard

Trooisto said...

A bit of Sunday morning worship:

Hallelujah, praise God for his salvation!
Praise him for loving us first; for predestinating us to adoption into his holiness!
Hallelujah, he gives us the Savior who gave his life for us to live!
Praise the Savior who redeemed us from sin and crowns us with his righteousness!
Glory to God for his grace that pursues us from the beginning!
Bless his holy name for his grace that sustains us to the end!
Hallelujah for the joy and peace of the Holy Spirit who comforts us, seals us!
Thanks to the author of our faith for supplying the belief that saves!
Praise be to the Savior who called us to the repentance he grants!
Thank God for creating us in Jesus to do the good works he ordained!
Hallelujah to the God whose gifts, beauty, and will cannot be broken!
Glory, praise, and honor forever to God for his finished work of salvation!

Miller Jones/Lonnie C Hendrix said...

Whether or not a post like Oran's is accepted by Armstrongists, it is absolutely essential that they continue to be written and posted. We must continue to point out that Armstrongism's understanding of salvation and how it is accomplished is very flawed and heretical. Moreover, we must also remember that many of the folks who regularly comment here were themselves members of this heretical culture at one time - demonstrating that it is possible to leave it behind and embrace salvation through Jesus Christ! If a post like this causes ONE person to wake-up and "see the light," it must be judged worthwhile and successful!

DW said...

Amen and hallelujah to this article!! In orthodox Christianity, the idea of salvation by works is abhorrent. It is the cults and virtually only the cults, who add something (law keeping, works, perfection, etc), to the glorious gospel of grace. I include Catholicism to the list of usual suspects, JWs, Adventists, Mormons, Branhamism, and Armstrongism. Additionally, HWAs take on salvation being tied to the resurrection has always baffled me. One has absolutely nothing to do with the other. The saved are merely reunited with their newly eternal, glorified body to live forever with God. The lost reunited to their body, also eternal, to exist forever in hell, or the Lake of Fire, depending on when they died.

Paul bent over backwards to try and get the Jews to understand the transition from law to grace. He was infuriated by the Judaizers who, not understanding the transition now that Jesus had died for us and was resurrected, were teaching the gentile converts to old way of law keeping (among other things). It was as if Jesus had never come, fulfilled the law, and kept every jot and tittle of the Old Covenant, to hear them lecture the newborn Christians on everything from the 10 commandments to diet to Sabbath. He told them NOT to lay upon the convert the heavy burden that neither they nor their fathers could keep. To this day, some still don't get it.

The only thing I would add to the article would be the guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit. He comes to us the moment we believe the Gospel 1 Cor 15:1-4, fully and forever. He would never encourage a believer to kill or steal, etc. It is never by our power that we overcome anything. It is only by God's power, living within us, that our hearts are changed, from stone to flesh. Thank God for that!!

Anonymous said...

The sabbath a problem? It was made for man, not man for the sabbath. In my youth I almost had a "nervous breakdown" from working 7 days a week. The sabbath observance was a sign as to who were God's people. Still is.

And no I'm not an armstrongist. Herbert appears to have fulfilled Daniel 8:23-25. That's not believable until "breaking" out the lexicons, concordances, Thayer's, Vine's, whatever and checking the Hebrew (and Chaldean?) meanings of every word in the prophecy. His yap about a "third tithe" was a lie. There is no third tithe. The Levites were 2% of the population (Num 31:30) and 10% of the nation's annual harvest every third year was enough for them. The tithes were stored up. The Levites are listed first in Deut 14:28-29; 26:12. These verses don't mention a third tithe.

Anonymous said...

Everyone knows Daniel was written a few hundred years AFTER the events it "predicted" took place.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:31

I believe that if you want to keep the Sabbath you should. The problem happens when you make the Sabbath a requirement for salvation. When you cross that line, Sabbath observance falls under the heading of "qualifying for the Kingdom of God." This incorporates Seventh Day observance into the soteriology of salvation by works. Paul said:

"Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace." (Galatians)

Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. The Sabbath foreshadowed Jesus. The reality has now come. Hebrews 4 explains how Jesus is our Sabbath rest. This is well documented. But one of the interpretations that makes Hebrews 4 difficult to understand is the Armstrongist idea that the sacrificial Law was added 430 years after the Law of Moses was given at Sinai. This bifurcates the law of Moses, something we do not find in Jewish tradition, and has an obscuring effect on the role of Christ. A careful reading of Galatians 3 indicates that it was the Law of Moses, including the Sabbath, that was added 430 years after the Promises given to Abraham. And the Law of Moses was added because of transgression or sin. The Law of Moses, including the Sabbath, was instituted to address sin. But now, under the NT, Jesus addresses sin and he replaces the Law of Moses because he himself is the Word of God. Hence, the Law of Moses was a foreshadow of Jesus. There are yet many laws in the NT that must be kept. But they do not represent an exact reconstitution of the Law of Moses.

That's the way I see it ...


Oran

Anonymous said...

Herbert no more fulfilled any thing biblical than Bob Thiel, David Pack and Gerald Flurry are.

mitigator said...

In all my years as a WCG member, I was always baffled by the statement that the power of God’s Spirit works within us to produce the fruits of righteousness. If that was true, then was I really me, or was God performing something like a spiritual frontal lobotomy on me to make me into someone I was not? I could never resolve this issue, especially as I couldn’t perceive any subjective or objective differences in my internal nature with respect to the stated requirement that we must develop “holy righteous character” so that we would “qualify” to enter God’s Kingdom. However, I was always able to probe far too deeply into my inner nature, my motivations, and how I would respond to a provocation. I was realistic enough to understand that I was as fundamentally flawed and carnal to the core as I was when I first became a church member. I figured that all this talk of becoming more Christ-like and always turning the other cheek probably applied to other church members as so many of them seemed to have their spiritual houses in order, but why wasn’t it working in my case? I was painfully aware what I would do in certain tempting circumstances and that made me feel as if I was an anomaly within the church membership. Upon reflection on my past church life, I was nothing more than an actor wearing an external “spiritual costume”, just like how so many pastors and priests in various denominations wear their holy vestments. To me many of those priests in their elaborate royal robes were nothing but potbellied carnal old men dressing up in costumes. I have since abandoned all of that Armstrong doctrine of qualifying for the Kingdom as I realize that God demands perfection, and consequently, my only hope is to be justified by Christ as I am a sinner and always will be. A person is either justified or not, there is no middle ground of graduated spirituality. I haven’t abandoned my faith, instead I have abandoned works based pseudo-righteousness.

Anonymous said...

Mitigator, you are the first person, other than myself, whom I've ever seen or heard express those thoughts. I had thought that it was all supposed to flow in a Godly direction when one had the Holy Spirit. Instead, I found myself obeying rules by pure will power. This was not transformation emanating from a new heart. Often, because there were certain triggers in different situations, I removed myself from the equation, and although my behavior improved, I realized that if I put myself back into those situations, removing myself from the triggers had not changed me or my character and nature, and most likely I would most likely react badly once again to the triggers.

There is also a whole separate realm of experience which has little to do with religion or Godly character. I have accumulated an incredible amount of experience in terms of job skills and working with people on job-related projects, and have been amazed at what I can do now that would have been unimaginable just ten years ago, let alone when I was just starting out. It is the culmination of many years of hard work.

But, I can't not like rock music. Swear words fly into my mind when I get angry before I can control them. Fast cars and driving at high, illegal speeds make my blood boil. The reaction I have to a well tuned high performance engine running unmuffled is almost as good as sex. I love flatulent humor! All of the things I just mentioned? When I ask myself WWJD as a frame of comparison, I realize that in order for me myself to even like myself, I need transformation that I have never found through Armstrongism, or through classic Christianity. Do we take all this bad stuff into the Kingdom?. I know that there are a lot of docile people who don't have to deal with such things. What about the rest of us? Is there even hope?

occam said...

Armstrongism is so convoluted. According to the WCG the only qualifying works were Armstong abridged Law keeping.

Works = partial law keeping

I heard sermon after sermon growing up where the mighty works of non-COG Christians were dismissed as emotionalism or mere human goodness, BUT they were not Christians. It was not the Holy Spirit because they did not have the Holy Spirit.

Only Armstronists had the Holy Spirit. So while a non_COG Christian might show sparkling Holy Righteous Character, it was all false if they were not under Armstrong and observed the Armstrongist partial law.

The people that have commented here against the idea of faith alone in Christ completely ignore the changed lives and fine character developed by billions of non-COG Christians through the ages.

In the COGs, the only thing that matters is to be called into Armstrongism. Works are defined as keeping armstrong partial law. So, GTA can dismiss being works based because it's already hard baked into being an Armstrongist. Works don't save, being an Armstrongist saves!

Anonymous said...

Oran is the new crown stealer on the block. They come and go on Banned. There's nothing like fresh meat to liven things up.

Anonymous said...

11:23 wrote:
"Oran is the new crown stealer on the block."

If your beliefs are so shallow that someone else can "steal your crown" then you have no idea what you truly believe. Of course, if you are swallowing the baby pablum of Pack, Theil, and Flurry then I can see why you might have your "crown" stolen.

Anonymous said...

mitigator 3:19,

Thanks mitigator for expressing what I, and I am sure many in WCG's experience, including some ministers who, learning of our helplessness in overcoming to be perfect all felt like what mitigator went through have also asked ourselves "Is the Holy Spirit working in me?"

Yes, after so many, many years - 50 years and counting - I am still following Armstrongism and hope that in spite of my "works = partial law keeping" as occam says, I hope that God would still forgive my human imperfections and let me into the Kingdom of God in the first resurrection. If not, too bad. There is no second chance. Eternal death awaits me.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:23

"Crown stealer" sounds like a manipulative term concocted by a spin doctor. You know the type: "Seven Ways to Keep your Crown." What you will not find among the "seven ways" is an inducement to a well-crafted and credible counterpoint to the issues under debate. (..."be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear...")

I would suggest that instead of hurling epithets that you provide a well-reasoned, exegeted, Biblical response to my essay. In fact, I am waiting for such an Armstrongist response. With the disarray that one finds in Armstrongist literature, it is entirely possible I missed some salient point. Or maybe in Splinterland there has been some re-thinking of this issue. I can't imagine that you would simply stand firm on a doctrine that is so obviously deficient.

Oran

Anonymous said...

Who remembers reading Brinsmead's lucid series on the Reformation back in 1972?
In it he called the book of Romans the "..inspired thesis on salvation"

BP8 said...

DW says,

"salvation being tied to the resurrection has always baffled me. One has absolutely nothing to do with the other"!!!

That's funny, seeing how the Scripture you listed, 1Cor 15:1-4, shows the resurrection to be a prominent feature of the gospel!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that salvation is not one dimensional but is presented in Scripture as a 3 fold experience. We have

-have been saved/ are being saved/ shall be saved
-planting/growth/harvest
-begettal/growth/birth
-justification/ sanctification/ glorification

None of these phases can be bootstrapped because they are all functions accomplished by God by his grace!

Armstrong was guilty of emphasizing the resurrection over the others but I think our orthodox friends are guilty at going no further than justification! There are a host of scriptures showing that the resurrection to eternal life, glory and immortality in the Kingdom of God, obtained at the appearing of our Lord Christ IS the promised inheritance, hope, and the final expression of God's plan of salvation!

Look it up!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 4:26

I have not pastoral inclinations. My interest is in theology. I believe there is a theological problem with how Armstrongism asserts the doctrine of repentance. I believe there is wisdom in the following statement:

"Repentance, then, is saying “Yes!” to the gift of forgiveness and redemption that God says we have in Christ. It is not doing penance. It is not making promises or drowning in guilt. It isn’t a never-ending string of “I’m deeply sorry” or “I promise I won’t do it again.” Let’s be brutally honest. Chances are we will do it again, if not in actual deed, at least in thought, desire and emotion...

"The point of repentance is a change of heart, from ourselves being Number One in our lives to God being Number One in our lives."


Armstrongism does a reverse alchemy on repentance - it transmutes something that is gold into dross. It morphs a changed heart into a requirement for perfect behavior. Armstrongism seems to be absent a doctrine of God-contingent sanctification or theosis.

The quoted words above are not mine, but I am in full agreement with them.

Oran

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:26

No. Eternal death does not await you. It's the second death mentioned in Revelation that's the killer.

Anonymous said...

""Crown stealer" sounds like a manipulative term concocted by a spin doctor. "

This is exactly what HWA, GTA, Meredith, and other COG leaders did. Threatening members that their crown could be stolen from them was a sick manipulative way of keeping members under control and living in fear. This was particularly useful in using this term when threatening to disfellowship people. If they got kicked out then they would lose their crown and any right to salvation.

DW said...

To BP8: Your comment is appreciated. However the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the ONLY one tied to our salvation. The moment He rose from the dead, Scripture was fulfilled and salvation through FAITH in His finished work could now be offered to whosoever would believe.

Our individual resurrection from the grave is for reunification of our spirit (which has been in Heaven with God from the moment we died) with our body, either for eternal life with God or eternal death in Hell. Our own personal salvation is a done deal the moment we genuinely believe that Jesus is Who He said He was and that He did everything needed for any human living to receive salvation. We are instantly looked upon by God as justified (just as if we never sinned). Sanctification follows, as a function of the Holy Spirit guiding our steps. It is from Him indwelling the believer that sanctification results. The rest of our lives, once saved, are God ordained and directed toward the work he has for the believer to do, all for His glory. Sanctification is ongoing from the moment of belief until bodily death. Glorification will occur at the resurrection and reunion of our body with our spirit, at which point our bodies will look like His glorified, resurrected body.

What a beautiful gift! What a beautiful life!

Anonymous said...

What got my shorts in a knot is that the folks who were encouraging all of us in the WCG to develop "righteous, Godly character" just didn't do it themselves. HWA harangued us for money in his letters: is that Christian? For several years in the 1970's he defended and lied about GTA's dalliances in order to keep GTA in the church because he felt that the handsome,smooth-talking host of the World Tomorrow program was necessary to keep the church afloat. GTA himself seemed to have the morals of an alley cat when it came to sex even as he preached marital fidelity. HWA went off the rails after his wife's death, going on spending sprees with the hard-earned money of members who were doing their best to observe tithing laws. He was known to have a temper, and while there is such a thing as righteous anger I very much doubt that his anger always met that standard. There are rumors of alcohol abuse with both HWA and GTA. I was just an average church member with no experience at "headquarters" and no first-hand knowledge of what went on there. I don't know all the details or all the truth about what went on with HWA, GTA, Stan Rader, and a host of other WCG characters. But I can read and I can research, and what I find is that the standards that were drilled into the heads of the members were all too often ignored by the church leadership. Billy Graham had his own foibles, but the Christmas-keeping, Sunday-observing, ham-eating Graham seemed to be a better poster boy for Christianity than the Armstrongs ever were. The hypocrisy continues today: Flurry with his support of a despicable excuse for a human being such as Donald Trump, Pack with his pack of "prophetic" lies, etc., etc. I guess the leaders of WCG and the leaders of the various splinters expect us to mind our own business and not "judge" them and their actions. God forbid that we should actually think and made a judgment! I remember HWA saying that human beings first got into spiritual trouble because they started thinking and reasoning. That's a classic use of religion to keep people in line. I'll be damned before I fall for that line again.

Anonymous said...

Many times the bibles teaches that there will be weeping and gnashing of of teeth. Yet the article and posts claim that all that's required is believing in Jesus. That's nuts.
Have I planted seeds of doubts in anyone's mind?

BP8 said...

DW says,

"our spirit, which has been in heaven with God from the moment we died"???

This sentiment may work well at a Protestant funeral, along with the songs and poems they use in lieu of Scripture, but it is NOT the definition or description of the complete SALVATION scenario FOUND IN THE BIBLE! I have no beef with what you convey about faith, the Holy spirit, and finished work of Christ, but go back and re-read my original post for the full picture! I can produce supporting scriptures if need be.

As far as our spirits returning to God at death, that's true for ALL MEN, righteous and wicked alike (Ecclesiastes 12:7). Hence God is said to be the God of the spirits of all flesh (Numbers 16:22, 27:16)! Amazing how Scripture destroys those Babylonian myths isn't it??

RSK said...

Ha! Havent heard that one in a while.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8:44

HWA, in his writing on salvation, begins with the definition that comes from Webster’s dictionary. It is a spare definition that could be used as the point of departure for any number of soteriologies. From other Armstrongist sources, salvation happens in the personal eschaton for the believer. From "Doctrinal Outlines" published by the WCG in 1987:

"...salvation (is) a process begun with repentance, baptism and forgiveness of sin, continuing through a life of overcoming and culminating at the resurrection...But it is only then, at the resurrection, that we can say we are truly "saved" in the final sense."

True salvation is at the resurrection of the believer. All the formative stages are not really salvation. This view carefully accommodates the idea that we are on the hook to qualify, and nobody knows how that process is going to go. It is a salvation contingent on uncertain human performance.

Whereas, in Christianity, the believer looks not to his own feeble power but the power of Jesus. So, Paul wrote the following:

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit…” (Titus 3:5)

Notice that the verb “save” is past tense. If someone is truly a Christian, God will sustain them to the end (1 Corinthians 1:8). Jesus is a competent, powerful, effective and successful savior. Armstrongism, busy with human performance, never acknowledges this about Jesus. Also, from Doctrinal Outlines 1987, is this statement:

“To be fair, however, we must look finally at II Timothy 1:9 and Titus 3:5, which both state that God has saved us. In light of what we have already proven, it is clear what Paul means.”

What this means is that “We have already selected certain scriptures that form a proof text for our beliefs, so scriptures such as these cannot mean what they say they mean." And, no, it is not clear what Paul means if he doesn't mean what he wrote.

Oran

Anonymous said...

"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" - Philippians 2:12. So we have to DO something, not just say "I believe in Jesus".

Anonymous said...

"Yet the article and posts claim that all that's required is believing in Jesus. That's nuts."

I am glad this was finally said. It is the trite response that Armstrongists always make. I think this idea began with HWA. With little experience with Christianity, he thought that the doctrine of grace in the Christian church was lawless. My guess is that the Circumcision Party spoke the same calumny against the Apostle Paul.

All orthodox Christian churches believe in the laws or prescriptive behavior presented in the New Testament. Listed below are some of the sources or moral behavior that must be adhered to by Christians in the New Testament:

The over-arching Matthew 22:37-40, all its implications and ramifications
The Sermon on the Mount (parallel to Sinai)P
The actions of Jesus
The sayings of Jesus
The parables of Jesus
The reaffirmation of the Ten Commandments with the Sabbath transformed
The ethical and moral guidance given in Luke and the Epistolary Books of the NT
The conclusions of the Jerusalem Council
The futurist moralism contained in the Book of Revelation
The Law of the Spirit - mentioned by Paul and refers to the ministry of the Holy Spirit


One would think that Armstrongists have thought about the New Testament so little that they believe that the only code of behavior in the Bible is the Law of Moses. Just because someone speaks of "by grace through faith," it doesn't mean they believe in lawlessness. To believe that Christianity is amoral and lawless in spite of all the evidence to the contrary is what is really nuts.


Oran

Anonymous said...

Oran

..."with the Sabbath transformed??" One of the conclusions of the Jerusalem Council was the Gentiles can learn more about the law of Moses when they meet in the synagogue every sabbath. The apostles only wrote about 4 things knowing the Gentiles will learn more every sabbath - Acts 15:21.

Trooisto said...

Hello Anonymous of January 30, 2023 at 3:12:00 PM: You quoted Philippians 2:12, but in true HWA fashion, and also neglected to add the supporting verse 13, just like HWA.

For better context, here are both verses together:
Philippians 2:12-13:
Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, (13) for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Verse 13, sheds light on who is saving us – God is works his salvation according to his will.

I believe that people who post here are often working out their oven salvation – they do this by exploring scripture and putting what they’ve learned into words – they are attempting to understand the will of God.

We also work out our own salvation by doing the good works God fore-ordained (Ephesians 2:10).

You also added this comment:
“So we have to DO something, not just say "I believe in Jesus".”

I have something you can do, if you are interested in working out your own salvation; you could go to a site like Bible Gateway and search for these three words together: believe, Jesus, save.

Also search for just the two words: believe, save.

Compile a list of all the scriptures you find in these searches.

Then, do a search for God’s will and God’s purpose; add those verses to your list.

Put a red star next to each verse on the list that discusses salvation.

Put a black frowning face next to each verse that is not preached by a COG pastor or in COG printed material.

If you bother to do this task, you are working out your own salvation – you may also enjoy the adventure!

Here’s a companion verse to go with Philippians 2:13 (I found it at Bible Gateway when I was studying salvation)
Ephesians 1:5
he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:00AM,

I am 4:26
What I meant was in Armstrongism which I am deeply rooted will land me eternal death since I die a first physical death without overcoming enough i.e I did not qualify after being given a first chance in my present physical life.

First resurrection = Those called now and since creation who qualify (no second death)
Second Resurrection = All those not called and never given a chance since creation
Third resurrection = Eternal(second) death for those who do not qualify

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 5:06

There are two concerns here. First, is Jesus now our rest in place of the Sabbath. The other is what do the conclusions of the Jerusalem Council mean. Briefly, on each topic:

1.The Jerusalem Council provide to the Gentiles what they needed to keep of the Law of Moses going forward. The Circumcision and keeping the Law of Moses was the controversy. The Gentile Christians were doing neither of these. That is why the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.” The question is what moral code were the Gentile churches observing between the beginning of the ministry to the Gentiles under Peter and Paul and the Jerusalem Council. In that time gap, they were observing what Paul taught them to observe. And that is what we find documented in the New Testament. And they were not observing the Law of Moses, including the Sabbath. So, the council decision assumed that the churches were already observing the Law of Christ as taught by Peter and Paul. So, there was no need to repeat, “Thou shalt not kill,” for instance. That was understood from the New Testament Law of Christ. The Law of Moses was proclaimed in the Synagogues. The Jerusalem Christians were keeping the Law of Moses – not as a requirement for salvation but as culture and tradition. Circumcision as a tradition was not a problem. Circumcision in order to receive salvation is a heresy. This might induce the Gentiles to adopt more of the Law of Moses than they would need to. The Gentiles were coming into Christianity which was really a form of Late Second Temple Judaism. Jews and Christians sat elbow to elbow in the Temple. The difference was that the Jews believed the Messiah had not come and the Law of Moses was the path to salvation. The Christians, also racially Jewish, believed the Messiah had come and the Messiah was the path to salvation. This would have been a confusing matter for the Gentiles. Peter, Paul, their ministry to the Gentiles and the Jerusalem Council sorted it out.

2.As for the transformation of Sabbath, connect Hebrews 4 with Matthew 11:28-3. In Matthew 11, Jesus was not talking about people needing some time off from work to rest up. He was talking about resting from worldliness and sin. In the first part of Matthew 12, the issue of the Sabbath emerges more clearly in these follow-on verses. The Sabbath foreshadowed Jesus. He is greater than the Temple and is Lord of the Sabbath – he owns it and can do what he wants with it. It is still in effect. It is just in Jesus instead of being a physical Seventh Day.



Oran

Anonymous said...

Philippians 2:13 "for it I God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil His good purpose."

This does not mean that God exclusively works out people's salvation. The holy spirit lifts Christians spirit, encourages, strengthens, and empathizes with them. It's like a good friend or a school teacher who inspires his students. But ultimately every person is alone since people are free moral agents. A school teacher cannot do his students homework. Neither can God do other people's overcoming. That Christian churches are filled with moral barbarians is a simply proof of this.

Anonymous said...

Further,

I have never read an Armstrongist explanation for the Jerusalem Council. I did have an Armstrongist layman, a friend of mine, tell me that there was no need for the Council to mention anything more than the four points because the early church was already keeping the Law of Moses. Yet, the whole controversy centered on the fact that they weren't keeping the Law of Moses and this aroused the ire of those Pharisees who became Christian. And if they were keeping the Law of Moses, why should the four points be mentioned at all. The Council should have concluded that the Christians should "Just keep doing what you are doing," supposedly the entire Law of Moses which included a condemnation of the practices mentioned in the four points.

This interpretation of events also does not accommodate James’ statement, “Therefore, my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God…”. Nor does it accommodate the statement from the letter sent to the Gentiles congregations, “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on your no greater burden than these requirements.” How does simply reaffirming the Law of Moses reduce the burden on the Gentiles? What is James talking about? Remember the topic under debate was circumcision and keeping the Law of Moses. And the Council came up with four practices that were common in pagan religions. Then “no greater burden” concept would then support the exclusion of circumcision and the Law of Moses.

The next implication of this interpretation has to do with Acts 15:21. It has to do with church infrastructure. It is as if the followers of this line of argument believe that the Council expected Christians to attend Synagogue rather than have Christian congregations, Synagogues where they would be taught circumcision, for instance. Yet Paul wrote epistles to Christian congregations that were a mix of Gentiles and Jews. He was not sending epistles to Synagogues.

Followers of this interpretation, I think, have no recognition of Pauline Theology. They see the Law of Moses as a constant and that it was taught to the church during the lifetime of Jesus and taught by Paul and Barnabas and endorsed by the Jerusalem Council. And Christians could just as easily attend Synagogue as their own congregations. This kind of purist credentialling of the Law of Moses makes you wonder why they keep only part of the Law of Moses. If Pauline Theology cannot be understood, then the logical consistency of Jerusalem Council's decree cannot be understood.


Oran

Anonymous said...


The source of HWA's errant soteriology:
Ellen G White on Perfectionism -
wikipedia.org/wiki/Seventh-day_Adventist_theology#Sinless_perfection

Anonymous said...

Hilarious:
~~ weak hwa spends a week at a weak local library "proving" the Adventist paradigm ~~
this is problematic on a number of levels:
First, uneducated leaders are dangerous: both hwa and hitler left school age 15!
Second, his local library was not a research-grade reference library!

When educational authorities reviewed hwa's "college" they found a number of egregious deficiencies: they noted the woefully inadequate library and that a number of his publications were patent plagiarisms and wondered how a high school dropout plagiarist could call himself "Chancellor"?

Anonymous said...

Anon, Tuesday, January 31, 2023 at 3:37:00 AM PST, wrote:

"...Philippians 2:13 "for it I God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil His good purpose."

This does not mean that God exclusively works out people's salvation. The holy spirit lifts Christians spirit, encourages, strengthens, and empathizes with them. It's like a good friend or a school teacher who inspires his students. But ultimately every person is alone since people are free moral agents. A school teacher cannot do his students homework. Neither can God do other people's overcoming. That Christian churches are filled with moral barbarians is a simply proof of this..."
******
Anon, how did you learn to know that: "...ultimately every person is alone since people are free moral agents (FMA)?..."

Who told you that? How did you prove that you: alone, you are some free moral agent?

I have yet to meet someone who earned his/her/their salvation by works of some free moral agent: mySELF included. Now, maybe a Doug Winnail, Dave Pack, Flurry, Cox, Franks, Shabi, Weinland, Weston, Kubik,(name any hireling who fled the former WCG)

Was it Jeremiah?

"O LORD, I know that the way of man [is] not in himself: [it is] not in man that walketh to direct his steps." Jeremiah 10:23

Wouldn't some FMA, alone, somehow direct his own steps?

Did Jesus tell you that?

"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me." John 15:3

As a FMA, will you bear fruit of itself? Will you do more than Jesus did?

"Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am [he], and [that] I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things." John 8:28

Who did the works in Jesus' life? Jesus, some FMA?

"Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." John 14:10

So, why wouldn't God be a Worker and do works in one's life and work out that salvation?

"For God [is] my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth." Psalm 74:12

Phil 2:13 is not a lie, and God must provide the "to will" and the "to do," or salvation will not be worked out by self.

There is no self in salvation.

God calls (John 6:44; 12:32), not self with some FMA. Eph 2:10 is also true, as it Eph 1:5-6.

Will God qualify the called? Will God qualify you for anything, or will you impress God with your free moral agent thinking?

Time will tell...

John

Anonymous said...

John
You have more than once condemned self love on this blog, so your anti self love 3.29pm rant is unsurprising. Self love is commanded in "love your neighbor AS yourself," as well as many other scriptures such as "God gives us the desires of our hearts," "ask, seek knock," "seek first (not exclusively) the kingdom of God and all these others things will be added to you."

And yes, I hope to impress God with my free moral agent thinking. Which is why I strive to grow in wisdom and understanding. Which is why I read good books.
Btw, in case you haven't noticed, those who demonize self love do so because they feel that other people exist to serve them hand and foot. How dare the peasants serve themselves rather than some self appointed king on a throne.

Trooisto said...

Hello Anonymous of January 31, at 3:37 AM: I agree completely with John’s post but I had a couple questions for you that he may not have completely covered and hope you would reply to each of my questions.

Usually, no one in the COGs will answer my questions - I guess they don’t believe in providing an answer for their beliefs, but I hope you will play along.

What scriptures can you offer to prove you are a free moral agent?

I can think of a few scriptures that people would use to support your view but, I want to know your thoughts on the matter.

You mentioned the role of a friend and a teacher, but Savior is not on a human plan, what is the definition of Savior?

Did you play any role in God opening your awareness of and desire to know God?

Did you play any role in God calling you to repentance?

I assume you believe you made a decision to believe in Jesus, but please read Philippians 1:29, and then explain your role in your belief.

I assume you believe repentance was all you, but please read 2 Timothy 2:25, and then explain your role in repentance.

I assume you credit yourself for doing the good works that will earn or contribute to your salvation, but please read Ephesians 2:10, and then explain your claim to good works that go to your credit.

Please define your salvation formula; how much/what percent is salvation a God thing, and how much/what percent is salvation is a you thing? Please provide any scriptures that demonstrate the proper salvation formula, like 98 percent God and 2 percent human effort.

Learning about salvation, or working out your own salvation, is important – glad you’re interested in it.

Trooisto said...

Hello Time Will Tell John: I loved your reply to the Anonymous and our friends who believe they need to work for their salvation.

I realize they don't mean disrespect and are just "working out their own salvation" in the manner that they've been indoctrinated – but it seems like instead of their works “qualifying” them, they are instead breaking the first commandment by attempting to take on the role of God, in being their own co-savior.

I forgot to add Ephesians 2:8-9 to my post above, you cannot say it enough:
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast."

At least these people are coming to this site and being exposed to ideas and scriptures that are not being preached in their churches.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 3:12 wrote,

"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" - Philippians 2:12. So we have to DO something, not just say "I believe in Jesus".

In my essay, I did not suggest that Christians follow a course of “easy believism.” Christians, those who are not nominal, by far and large do not think that all you have to do is believe. This is because belief leads to action. If you believe in God, you will want to follow his words. Armstrongists always citing the idea of Christians just believing and doing nothing further is a calumny against Christianity. My guess is that this is founded on the mistaken idea that there are no behavioral prescriptions in the New Testament, and one must look to the Law of Moses for direction. In fact, the NT is full of such requirements.

Pelagianists frequently harp on Philippians 2:12. If Philippians 2:12 is referring to salvation by works then Paul is contradicting himself (Ephesians 2:8-9) and logically you should become an atheist not an Armstrongist. In fact, Christians believe there are actions required of them. There is a need for obedience. But this is not the causation of salvation. It may determine what rewards we get in the next life. This rewardable behavior may be the piece of salvation that Paul in Philippians is referring to. I rather think that 2:12 refers to the idea that we should become yielded agents for good in the hands of God. Our end of the deal is to not oppose. The part of the passage you have omitted says, “…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Notice that God even provides the will to do good. It is not something you decided to do yourself – bootstrapping yourself into the Kingdom. Notice also that his working in you is explicitly not for salvation but for his good pleasure or what he considers desirable. He has already saved you, so he works through you by the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Oran

Anonymous said...


Trooisto, Tuesday, January 31, 2023 at 6:58:00 PM PST, wrote:

"...Hello Time Will Tell John:...I realize they don't mean disrespect and are just "working out their own salvation" in the manner that they've been indoctrinated – but it seems like instead of their works “qualifying” them, they are instead breaking the first commandment by attempting to take on the role of God, in being their own co-savior...

...At least these people are coming to this site and being exposed to ideas and scriptures that are not being preached in their churches..."
******

I found it interesting that you wrote: "...instead of their works “qualifying” them, they are instead breaking the first commandment by attempting to take on the role of God, in being their own co-savior..."

Yes, by their attempt to save themselves, by being their own co-savior as you indicated, it does appear to be a form of idolatry being committed; however, they may just be spiritually blind with this matter...and life goes on.

In another similar way, many have been taught that Jesus Christ is the God of the Old Testament, which places Jesus Christ in place of God, The God (Acts 3:13), which is another form of idolatry to put something in place of God...and life goes on.

Yes, as you wrote: "...these people are coming to this site and being exposed to ideas and scriptures that are not being preached in their churches..."

Regardless of the knowledge, understanding and wisdom these people have, it appears that they are striving to do the best they can with what they have been taught...and will probably remain believing their convictions until they are convinced/taught otherwise. That's okay, and thankfully God is actually working out the details of salvation.

Periodically, I mention that the following scripture:

"To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them;..." 2 Cor 5:19

In my previous post on this particular thread I mentioned names such as: "...Doug Winnail, Dave Pack, Flurry, Cox, Franks, Shabi, Weinland, Weston, Kubik,(name any hireling who fled the former WCG)." Why?

They are all examples of those who preach salvation by works, Jesus Christ being God of the Old Testament, a Jesus very soon to return to reign on earth for 1,000 years, etc. and are stuck in their current thinking as learned in the former WCG.

And because they do not believe in God's grace, they cannot teach/preach the words of 2 Cor 5:19. They don't believe God's words regarding grace.

When will the likes of these pastors (Jer 12:10), and all who follow their same thoughts, get their minds off of self (and their idolatrous theories), repent/change to acknowledge God's grace, and focus on The God who has unconditional love for all human beings, who works salvation in the midst of this earth, and who will eventually destroy Satan and his angels?

Time will tell...


John

Anonymous said...

John 5:35

The term "co-savior" is used by HWA in the MOA, First Edition, 1985 on page 240. I don't believe this innovation has theological traction. The NT speaks of Jesus as the Savior and does not mention anyone else in that class. Mainstream Christian theologians would likely view this as a heresy. And there is the scripture Isa 43:11, "I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour." I don't mean to suggest that you are using this term. I just wanted to put that on the table.

You wrote, "In another similar way, many have been taught that Jesus Christ is the God of the Old Testament, which places Jesus Christ in place of God..." This has a distinct Arianist flavor to it - the idea that Jesus is a subordinate being created by God. There are people in the churches derived from Millerism who are Arianists to this day. Jesus is God so the language "...Jesus Christ in place of God..." does not make sense except to an Arianist.

You wrote, "That's okay, and thankfully God is actually working out the details of salvation." I sometimes feel that it is likely that Armstrongists may be permitted into the Kingdom of God after some post-mortem, remedial work. My personal view. On the other hand, Paul was quite clear in his statements about the Circumcision Party. Paul stated, "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace." This sounds dire and I would guess that nobody can expect that this portends a positive outcome, at least immediately.

A few nuances I just briefly wanted to mention.


Oran


Anonymous said...

This is ridiculous. 6.53 pm childishly expects me to jump though loops answering his 8 questions, and when I reply that I've answered his points elsewhere, my reply is not let through on Banned. Meanwhile Biker Bob's non stop off topic posts were all let through.
How about a consistence standard for all?
Why should some have to walk on egg shells? This is similar to what I experienced at church services.

Anonymous said...

10:05. Maybe if you stopped acting like a condescending jerk most of the time your posts might get through.

Anonymous said...

12.05
Crazy making posters deserve to be treated like children. Protecting people from the natural consequences of their actions benefits no one.

Anonymous said...

2:29 said "Crazy making posters deserve to be treated like children"

The only child on here is you acting like a 4th-grade school bully. If you don't like people's comments then ignore them instead of getting your delicate feelings all bent out of shape. If you have something productive to say then say it, though that has been a rare instance for quite some time now.

Anonymous said...

Oran, Wednesday, February 1, 2023 at 8:36:00 PM PST, wrote a nuance as follows:

"...The NT speaks of Jesus as the Savior and does not mention anyone else in that class..."
******

That statement is not true. Why not? Paul tells us about another Saviour in that class:

"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ,..." I Tim 1:1

"For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe." I Tim 4:10

Peter acknowledged that Living God, early during Christ's ministry:

"And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Matthew 16:16

Others acknowledged that Living God:

"But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God." Matthew 26:63

That One God, the Father, is that Living God:

"But to us [there is but] one God, the Father, of whom [are] all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom [are] all things, and we by him." I Cor 8:6

And that One Living God was the One that Jesus Christ, as a human being like us, acknowledged as His God:

"Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and [to] my God, and your God." John 20:17

The NT speaks of another Saviour besides Jesus, and that Saviour is His Father, our Father, His God, our God, who does produce works and authored the plan of salvation to save all mankind and subsequently destroy Satan and his angels, and for any who may not believe that? That's fine, and

Time will tell...

John

Anonymous said...

Trooisto wrote, "Please define your salvation formula; how much/what percent is salvation a God thing, and how much/what percent is salvation is a you thing? Please provide any scriptures that demonstrate the proper salvation formula, like 98 percent God and 2 percent human effort."

The quoted statement may be tongue-in-cheek. I did not take time to ponder the context. But I thought I would make a comment on this interesting perspective. I favor a more holistic view rather than the idea that we are a composite. Our salvation is not 98 percent God and 2 percent us or any such quantitative break down. In Romans 5:10, Paul stated that we are saved by the life of Christ in us. Not a collection of elements and forces but the whole life of Christ. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul states that we are a new creation which to me implies a holistic being not a composite of two forces, one fleshly and one divine. We will not be perfectly so until the resurrected life. You recognize the symbolism of the "old man" descending into the watery grave of baptism and the new man coming out of the water as an allegory of death of the old self and resurrection of the new self.

I believe that the Holy Spirit operates in the life of a Christian prior to thought even, somewhere in the deep will, at the origination of our being, where God sustains us in life.
We are not a mechanism of moving parts, parts sometimes working in harmony and sometimes not, but a new being in Christ.

Note: I do not think that holistic salvation loses the distinction between faith and works. I believe it is "by grace through faith not of works" just as Paul said. I just think he had to do this dissection in order to combat those who wanted to mistakenly exalt works. He never wrote up a Theory of Ethat shows all the moving parts and how they relate - if we could even understand it. He focused on the immediate need to oppose the Circumcision Party. I think the Life of Christ in us best remains a whole.


Oran

Trooisto said...

Ornan: for the record, I believe that salvation is one hundred percent a work of God.
Salvation is God’s work which humans can add nothing to.
There are several verses that say believe and you will be saved.
So many believe that belief is what they added - or the consent they gave - for God’s work of salvation to be given to them.
I am okay with that explanation because of all the verses that say believe and you will be saved.
However, I believe that we cannot even take credit for the believing.
God gives us the ability to believe - therefore salvation is completely a gift of God.

Anonymous said...

11:37PM 1/28 Umm I think you either misread or mistyped Oran’s name lol. “Onan” was Judah’s son who refused to impregnate his sister-in-law and beget a child for his brother in accordance with the Levirate and hence was executed by God. It’s his name that wrongly has come down to us today as a synonym for masturbation.

Anonymous said...

Trooisto 1/29
Amen brother!

Anonymous said...

BP8 1/30 said: “As far as our spirits returning to God at death, that's true for ALL MEN, righteous and wicked alike (Ecclesiastes 12:7). Hence God is said to be the God of the spirits of all flesh (Numbers 16:22, 27:16)! Amazing how Scripture destroys those Babylonian myths isn't it??”

What about Christ’s parable of Lazarus being taken to Abraham’s bosom upon death (Luke 16:22)? Or the thief on the cross who is promised by Christ that he’ll be with Him in paradise that very day (Luke 23:43)? What about those Christians who are said to be asleep in Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:18; 1Thess. 4:14)? From these passages we can discern a distinction even at death between the righteous believer and unrighteousness non-believer.

Anonymous said...

8:06PM 1/30
There’s no 3rd resurrection. That was an HWA error. There’s only 2 resurrections just as there is only 2 deaths. Otherwise if there was a 3rd resurrection then those who died 1st time before the 2nd resurrection and then were raised in the 2nd resurrection to die a 2nd time before they’re raised in the supposed 3rd resurrection would then die a 3rd death, which is unscriptural and unsupported by Scripture. That’s why Paul said we die once and then the judgement (Heb 9:27) else the 2nd death wouldn’t be referred to as such, but the 3rd death if there was a 3rd resurrection of the condemned.

BP8 said...

Anon 429

I'm not exactly sure just what you are asking, but if you are assuming that "salvation" is defined as GOING SOMEWHERE then I challenge you to look up all the NT scriptures relating to the concepts of "hope", "the promises", "the promised inheritance ", "eternal life ", the "Kingdom of God ", and after doing so, note exactly WHEN these things take place! As far as the scriptures you mentioned:

Luke 16:22 is a parable, not a doctrinal statement on WHAT MAN IS or SALVATION!

The thief in Luke 23 asked to be remembered WHEN Christ COMES WITH HIS KINGDOM, which did NOT happen that very day! Christ Himself didn't even go to His kingdom and paradise that very day (see Matt12:40, John 19:42, 20:17, 1 Cor 15:3-4).

WHEN does Christ COME WITH HIS KINGDOM?

Matt 25:31-34, " When the son of man shall come in his glory, THEN, THEN, THEN
1. Shall He sit on the throne of His glory

2. THEN shall He say, come and INHERIT THE KINGDOM!

As far as being asleep in the grave goes, that also goes for BOTH the righteous and wicked alike (see Dan 12:2).

Your text at 1 Thess 4:13-14 shows, along with Dan 12, that the distinction made between the righteous and wicked at death is that the righteous have HOPE and others do NOT!

Ultimately, the answers to these type of questions you bring up can only be found in an exhaustive study on THE NATURE of MAN and WHAT HAPPENS at death, which can't be done here. Look up the words "spirit", "soul" and "body" in the original text and see what you find, and don't mix them up and interchange them like a lot of people do!

Anonymous said...

John 12:00 wrote, "That statement is not true. Why not? Paul tells us about another Saviour in that class"

I believe you are correct. Both God and Jesus are addressed with the title of savior in scripture. I was thinking in terms of humans being identified as co-saviors as was done by HWA in the MOA. This fits in with the ill-conceived conception that we will all one day be "God as God is God."

An even more robust version of this idea was expressed by Ron Dart years ago. I heard this on a tape of a Bible Study he gave, and the tape used to be in the Roy Hammer Library in Big Sandy. I have no idea where the tape is now. But his assertion was that one day, when we became god beings, we would create planets and create people and would have the opportunity to die for the sins of the people we created. I think there was a "maybe" in there somewhere. I believe this is an egregious misinterpretation of scripture.

While you included in your class of saviors both the Father and the Son, you excluded the Holy Spirit. While the Holy Spirit has many salvific roles, the role of intercessor stands out:

“And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (ESV)”

Oran

Anonymous said...

BP8
I was assuming you believe that when humans die they have no consciousness whatsoever, which is referred to by some as “soul sleep.” It was this that I was questioning by reference to the scriptures cited only insofar that while I am inclined to believe that the spirits of the righteous saints are “sleeping” in Jesus I do not make any dogmatic assertions like HWA/WCG did by explaining away those difficult parts of Scripture as he did that challenges and undermines his interpretation that the dead aren’t conscious.

For instance, I believe that St. Paul was referring to himself when he relates the story of a man he knew who went to paradise and heard holy words (2 Cor 12:2-4). Some have claimed that what Paul was describing here albeit in his own rudimentary way was an NDE or OBE and even if it was not, but in fact a vision his reference to “the third heaven” and “paradise” to me undermines the notion that no one can go there in spirit or vision until Christ’s Second Coming.

Also, do the righteous believers in Christ consciously experience a foretaste of their eternal reward at death when their spirits go to God? Is this similar to what those who have experienced NDEs relate—some experiencing a state of love and peace while others a state of fear and torment? Is this what is described in Christ’s story of Lazarus and the rich man (ie Lazarus is carried by angels to “Abraham’s bosom” while the rich man after burial finds himself in Hades and in torment)? And is this a conscious and permanent state of repose in paradise that is only reserved for the believers in Christ, which is why Christ could confidently promise the thief on the cross he would be with Him there by the end of that day? Or is it experienced for a brief amount of time at death before one’s consciousness expires and blacks out until it is revived at the resurrection?

I don’t know, but I am simply asking the question like others who might have been left unsatisfied by HWA/WCG’s interpretation of these scriptural passages especially in light of NDEs and other supernatural phenomena that might occur at death seeing I admit I don’t know everything there is to know about what immediately happens upon death and won’t until it happens to me personally and so until then I’ll continue to seek His answers trusting in Him to guide me into all His truth.

A couple of articles that helped me in this regard was:

https://ghostsghoulsandgod.co.uk/2020/05/the-rich-man-lazarus-and-the-afterlife/

https://ghostsghoulsandgod.co.uk/2021/10/third-heaven-near-death-experience-of-paul/

Anonymous said...

It is Oran. Not Onan. Oran is the Celtic word for "song." It is my nom de guerre.

Oran

BP8 said...

Anon 11:11/4:29
You ask, "do the righteous believers in Christ consciously experience a foretaste of their eternal reward when their spirits go to God"? I would assume a righteous believer would actually believe what God says about it instead of something else!

Everybody shares the same curiosity that you do and that generally factors in when one chooses a religion and belief system. Ultimately, if one is going to adopt a belief, you would think that it would take precedent over visions, human experience, and parables that seem? to contradict the plain teachings of said belief system! Adam and Eve were given a belief system by God concerning death (Gen2:17), and they rejected it in favor of something and someone else (Gen3:4)!

I believe as your reference " ghostghouls " admits that the story of Lazarus is NOT about the afterlife, but the parable was used to convey different lessons altogether. But even if you want to make it about the afterlife, most will not accept what is said in light of the context of all Scripture, but instead force interpretations that contradict the plain texts that DO explain the what's, where's, and when's. Such as,

What did Abraham himself look forward to and when was he to receive it? See HEB 11:8-14, Galatians 3:8,16,18, Matt 8:11, Luke 20:35-38.

When do the angels who carry Lazarus come on the scene and what role do they play? See Matt 13:41-43,49, Matt 24:31.

When do those dead and buried awake and open their eyes? See Daniel 12:2, John 5:25-29.

Concerning the thief? Apart from the context being about the coming kingdom, E.W. Bullinger contends that punctuation in the key to understanding this verse, and that "verily I say unto you TODAY" was a Hebrew idiom used to mark, not the time of the event, but the importance of the utterance. See Deut.4:26,39,40, 5:1, 6:6, 7:11, 32:46, etc. To me, that explanation eliminates all contradictions!

This post on "bootstrapping" has been about the mixing of what God does with what man thinks he knows and can do.

Grace + works
Grace + law

An error I would add to the mix is --the revelation of God + human reasoning and tradition. I think the consensus up to now, the mixing of the 2, is that it does NOT work!

Anonymous said...

Oran, Friday, February 3, 2023 at 6:34:00 PM PST, wrote:

"...I was thinking in terms of humans being identified as co-saviors as was done by HWA in the MOA. This fits in with the ill-conceived conception that we will all one day be "God as God is God."..."
******
Yes, HWA mentioned co-saviors three times in MOA, whereas the Bible refers to such words/phrases as heirs, heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ, Firstfruits. The Old Testament speaks of saviours:

"And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD’S.” Obadiah 1:21"

Jesus Christ's Father is The God, the LORD God of hosts, etc. Jesus knows that He is God, the Son of God, but He knows He is not The God, the LORD God of hosts. He knew His Father was doing the works in His life.

Oran, also wrote:

"...While you included in your class of saviors both the Father and the Son, you excluded the Holy Spirit. While the Holy Spirit has many salvific roles, the role of intercessor stands out:

“And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (ESV)”..."
******
Who, or what is that "mind of the Spirit" in that verse referring to?

Of course, I excluded the Holy Spirit in the same way Paul excluded it:

"But to us [there is but] one God, the Father, of whom [are] all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom [are] all things, and we by him." I Cor 8:6

It is God the Father that uses His Spirit to accomplish His will through Christ, and/of anything or anyone:

"Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This [is] the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts." Zech 4:6

How is it that some come to believe? It's by God's Spirit: the power of that Spirit.

"And what [is] the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power," Eph 1:19

Now, FWIIW, I can think of one verse where one may believe that God's Spirit appears to clearly refer to God the Father. After all, The God is holy, and The God is Spirit; is He not?

"As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them." Acts 13:2

God's Spirit does not call anyone, but God, The God, does call people, and I am confident you can find scriptures proving God (not Jesus or God's Spirit) does call (e.g. Romans 8:28). Note the personal pronouns "me" and "I" there in Acts 13:2. It appears in that verse that the Holy Spirit is referring to God the Father, who does do works in people's lives, as is indicated, by example, with the lives of Barnabas and Saul in Acts 13:2, and another example in Jesus' life in John 14:10.

"Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works."

Is it a good thing that God, the Father, is a worker involved in His Plan of salvation to save all humanity, and subsequently destroy Satan and his angels?

Time will tell...

John

Anonymous said...

Thanks BP8 10:16 for your explanation of your view and supporting evidence that has clarified the topic a bit more for me--I honestly appreciate it!

That said I need to add re Bullinger I'm not much of a fan of his anymore considering some errors of his that have been propagated like the traditional "three days and three nights" doctrine that HWA/WCG promoted, and which I no longer believe to be true. So I'm just a bit wary of using him as a reference especially when more evidence might have come to light since his time that actually undermines or refutes what he maintained back then to be true.

And looking more online on the topic just now I came across a several other articles all of which prove there is still much debate re “soul sleep” and what happens to us after death even among those who officially teach the former. So it seems there’s further study required on my part in this regard.

Anyway I guess whatever happens at death I'll know soon enough like all of us! And in any case I can have confidence in the Lord that whether I'm conscious or not that like Paul wrote, "For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's" (Romans 14:8).

Anonymous said...

Anon, Tuesday, January 31, 2023 at 5:56:00 PM PST, wrote

"...John
You have more than once condemned self love on this blog, so your anti self love 3.29pm rant is unsurprising. Self love is commanded in "love your neighbor AS yourself," as well as many other scriptures such as "God gives us the desires of our hearts," "ask, seek knock," "seek first (not exclusively) the kingdom of God and all these others things will be added to you."

And yes, I hope to impress God with my free moral agent thinking. Which is why I strive to grow in wisdom and understanding. Which is why I read good books.
Btw, in case you haven't noticed, those who demonize self love do so because they feel that other people exist to serve them hand and foot. How dare the peasants serve themselves rather than some self appointed king on a throne..."
******
Well, what have those "good books" done for you? How much have you grown in wisdom and understanding? How much have you impressed God with your FMA? Are you more successful than Adam and Eve were? And wisdom? How much do you hate evil, which is the beginning of evil?

One key is a fruit of God's Spirit: fear of the LORD. Huh? Consider God's servant Job.

Job 28:28 "And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that [is] wisdom; and to depart from evil [is] understanding."

What good is that fear of the LORD?

"The fear of the LORD [is] to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate." Proverbs 8:13

If you love that FMA, then you love evil. You are condemning the wrong thing. Self love isn't the problem; FMA, one of Satan's foundational lies, is a problem and evil; however, all the world is deceived into believing FMA, self, is so "good" for you.

Incidentally, Anon, why would God give you the desires of your heart, when He inspired Jeremiah to tell us the following?

"The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Jer 17:9

Jeremiah's knowledge is related to the hearts of Adam and Eve, who were created with "very good" (Gen 1:31) human nature, after their encounter with the most subtil beast of the field.

How successful will you continue to be with your FMA, good books, self, etc.?
I will share, FWIIW, a portion of a 9 August 1997 sermon transcript regarding your love of FMA:

To be con’t

John

Anonymous said...

Continuing with a portion of a 9 August 1997 sermon transcript regarding your love of FMA

******
"...And here comes the big one! Here comes the beginning of Satan’s counterfeit. First of all he already deceived them and tried to lie to them, but this is where he sets his whole counterfeit going.
Genesis 3:4 “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.”
5 “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
There it is, brethren! Did you catch it? That right there is when Satan said: “Now, wait a minute! You know; you’ve been created a free moral agent. You have the ability to choose; you have free choice,” and do you know what? Gullible human beings living under Satan’s kingdoms on this earth from that day until this have believed that we are free moral agents, that we can choose, that we have some rights and some privileges. Once Satan gets you to believe this filthy lie of free choice and free moral agency, he’s got you! He’s got you. That’s why you’ve never grown because you have that rotten evil in you. It is a spirit. Do you understand? This was Satan’s foundational lie of his whole counterfeit. God did not give man choice. God said: “No, don’t touch it.” That was it, and do you know what? Adam and Eve never touched it. They walked and talked with God everywhere within that Garden. Everything was good and fine, and they obeyed Him until Satan came into that Garden. Then all of a sudden everything stopped. Everything was all messed up.
Genesis 3:6 “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food...”
It happened all of a sudden; she never looked at that tree that way before. All of a sudden now! Why now. Something was added, wasn’t it? Something was now there that wasn’t there before. Her eyes were already getting opened, weren’t they? Opened to what? Not God’s way, but evil, that’s what. And she looked and saw
“...that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired...”
All of a sudden she desired: desired…
“…to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”
He didn’t have any power; he just went along, too. Why? Because Satan was standing right there! Satan is a powerful being. God was allowing something to happen. God’s Plan did NOT fail! It worked exactly the way God wanted this to work.
7 “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked...”
They didn’t know that before; being naked didn’t bother them before. Something has been added to them.
“...and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.”
They did this because they knew that they were naked. This is where God allowed Satan to put his spirit into human beings. This is where this happened, brethren. This is where Mr. Armstrong kept coming back to, because he knew there was “more.”..."
******
Again, how successful will you continue to be with your FMA, good books, self, etc.?

Time will tell...

John

Anonymous said...

3:56~ Too funny! Thanks for reminding us of the nuances involved in names. Funny thing is, everytime I see that word, it reminds me of the hypnotic regression therapy I underwent in my efforts to recover from Armstrongism. I found out that in one of my past lives I had been a slave in Mississippi sometime near the Civil War. I was owned by a Basque man, named Lawrence Bation. He had us call him Massuh Lawrence, but I got everyone calling him Massuh Bation behind his back. One of the young ones slipped and called him that to his face, and boy did he take a whooping!

Anonymous said...

John 6:51

HWA’s use of co-saviors does not equate to terms such as heirs or first fruits as you suggest. You need to read the context of HWA’s usage in MOA.

The “mind of the spirit” refers to the fact that the Holy Spirit is a person and not an impersonal force. God is absolute. He does not need to send out or radiate an energetic force to accomplish work. Such language in the Bible is allegorical. Even if he did have such and energy why would he talk about it all the time? Why wouldn’t he just say, “I did this” instead of “the Spirit did this?” I don’t think he suffers from dissociative identity disorder. Such references in the OT are to the personal involvement of the Holy Spirit in divine activities.

If I found a passage for you in the Bible that mentions Jesus and the Spirit but excludes the Father, would that mean the Father does not exist? It is utterly implausible that such passages as John 14:26 use a personal appellation of vocation, i.e., Comforter, to refer to an impersonal energy.

God is holy and God is spirit but that does not mean that there is not a Person in the Trinity that might be referred to as the Holy Spirit. That is not the kind of logic that is going to support your viewpoint.

And it is a good thing that God, the Father, is a worker involved in His Plan of salvation to save all humanity. But that has nothing to do with supporting your argument about the Holy Spirit not being a person.

People who are involved in Restoration Movement churches (Mormons, JWs, Millerites such as Armstrongists) have a lot of trouble with the concept of the Trinity and the fact that the Holy Spirit is a person of the Trinity. I don't know why this particular problem gravitates towards them. They are either tri-theistic or they don’t believe in the Holy Spirit at all. Usually for the same reason that some believe God has a body - misinterpretation of metaphor. They do not recognize the absoluteness of God and the anthropomorphism of the language in the Bible that is used to describe him. The Doctrine of God is a hurdle that some of these people are never going to be able to leap. You also use language that might be construed Arianist, particularly in the demotion of Jesus. This view is found among certain people in the Church of God Seventh Day, I am told, even to this day.

Oran

BP8 said...

Oran at 138 writes, "people involved in the Restoration movement have a lot of trouble with the concept of the Trinity and the fact that the holy spirit is a person. I don't know why this problem gravitates toward them"?

Maybe the trouble lies in the fact that this idea, called the test doctrine of orthodoxy, has it's own problems!

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1979 revised edition, article TRINITY, states, " though Trinity is a 2nd century term found nowhere in the Bible, and the scriptures present no finished Trinitarian statement, the NT does contain ? most of the building materials for LATER doctrine. In particular, while insisting on one God, it presents Jesus Christ as the Divine son in distinction from God the Father, and PROBABLY ?? presents the H.S. as a divine person distinct from both."

"OBVIOUS PROBLEMS admittedly are attached to both claims, indeed 'person' as a threeness term has itself been CONTROVERSIAL since Augustine, and especially in the modern period", (vol.4, page 914).

Page 916, " the NT treatment of the Spirit is DIFFICULT, AMBIGUOUS, and sometimes even oblique to the Internet of latter trinitarians. "

"EVIDENCE for the divinity of the Spirit IS THINNER and HAZIER than fifth-century Trinitarian statements suggest".

Page 917, " In sum, the NT does ?? testify to the Spirit's distinct personhood and divinity, BUT MUTEDLY and AMBIGUOUSLY. The spirit in the NT is personally less distinct than the Father and Son, and His divinity less clearly stated; HE APPEARS AS A NEARLY TRANSPARENT AGENT for God and Christ. One PROBABLY concludes that the NT IS OVERALL CLEARLY BINITARIAN in it's data, and PROBABLY trinitarian ! ! !"

Obvious problems? Controversial? Difficult? Ambiguous, thin and hazy evidence, and the many many PROBABLYS? And this from a site that is supporting the concept? And then we have challenging scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 8:6,7, 1:3, Galatians 1:1, (2 Corinthians 1:3, Luke 1:35, Matt 1:18-20)?

I think that is enough to suggest that your fifth-century doctrine of God is problematic and deserves more scrutiny!

Anonymous said...

BP8 9:33

I recognize that the doctrine of the Trinity and the personhood of the Holy Spirit are controversial. Yet the Christian movement has supported the doctrine for centuries. It is certainly true that the church, broadly speaking, could be asserting error now that will one day be corrected.

What I am saying is that the opponents of the personhood of the Holy Spirit tend to follow many heresies. It is hard to imagine that they could be right about the Holy Spirit and wrong about nearly everything else. That is not the final resolution, but it does identify a trend.

Oran