Tonight, I went to the house of a friend for dinner. He is a baptist missionary. He is very well-versed in the Bible and moreover has a good seminary education. What he says is what I've read of what Baptists and most Protestants teach. I was wondering if people here (especially former Protestants) could help me navigate some issues he raised that I hadn't really thought much about when I was Roman Catholic.
I'm a bit tired, but I'll give it a shot. Don't be scared of his seminary education.
1) The Gospel. I notice that in Protestantism there is a great focus on the Cross--specifically on the work of Atonement of Christ on the Cross. In Protestantism, it seems that the Good News is that Christ took on all the sins of the world, destroyed them, and now offers eternal life to anyone who is given faith in Christ, that is, faith that his or her sins have been totally blotted away in Christ, and a faith that imputes the righteousness of Christ to the believer.
Some forms of Protestantism generally focuses on the death of Christ. Even to the point that His ressurection may be over looked. Now some will not admit this, but their focus on His death is so great that it tends to do just that.
The verse normally quoted by some groups is:
1 Corinthians 1:17For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
as well as
1 Corinthians 1:23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
What some of them tend to forget is, the Gospel is not just the preaching of the Cross. It is a Person.
Mark 1:1The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
So it's about the preaching of the Person Christ Jesus! For what meaning does His death have, apart from His Incarnation and Ressurection?
So the preaching of the Gospel is about the whole thing. The Incarnation, the Life, the Death, and the Ressurection of Jesus Christ.
Dr. Jeannie Constantinou has a good podcast about Christ's ressurection. She touches on some of this.http://audio.ancientfaith.com/searchthescriptures/ss12_pascha1_pc.mp3
She is real good. Listen to the one called "Christ is Risen!". But all of them are good, and they will give you some good ideas about alot of stuff. You can e-mail her too about any questions you have. She is really cool peoples, and she knows alot.
Now in regards to Christ on the cross, our sins, faith, and eternal life. I would say.
1.) How is the blood of Christ applied to a person?
Answer: Christ's blood is applied to a person through water Baptism. The Bible never explicitly tells us that Faith is how the blood of Christ is applied to us.
Is the gifts of faith and repentance needed? Yes, but we will never be united with Christ until we are united with Him in water Baptism
Romans 6:3-5"Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,"
Now a Baptist will say that these verses are symbolic, not mystical, not supernatural, not literal.
To this, I would say. "Where does the BIBLE say that this passage is symbolic"
Also I would say. "If our unity in Baptism is symbolic then that would mean our salvation is also symbolic. And why would I want a symbolic salvation? I want a real salvation with a real unity with Christ."
A good number of Baptists believe in Once saved always saved. Scripture disagrees with this view. I do know Baptists that reject Once saved always saved.
Have been saved: (past tense)
Ephesians 2:5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
Ephesians 2:8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
Titus 3:5he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit
Being saved (present tense)
1 Corinthians 1:18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
2 Corinthians 2:15For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.
Will be saved(future tense)
Philippians 1:28without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God.
Matthew 10:22All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Matthew 24:13but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
One can loose salvation
Romans 9:20-22"Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off."
John 15:1-4“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me."
Hebrews 6:4-6"For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame."
Now he might already have answers to some of these scriptures. I know I did when I was a Baptist....some many years ago. There are about 3 or 4 different answers of O.S.A.S.(once saved always saved)/P.O.T.S(perseverence of the Saints). he can give....all dependant on his background. If he says Hebrews chapter 6 isn't talking about believers, all you have to do is quote all the passages in Hebrews chapters 2, 4, and 5 that mentions (we), (us)...ect. If he wasn't talking to believers then one must admit that the Author to the Epistle of Hebrews was also not a believer.....for he includes himself all throughout the book.
IF they say that verses 4 to 6 in Chapter 6 isn't talking about a true christian because of the "if" clause......all you gotta say is the "if" clause was added by the Reformed scholar Theodore Beza in the late 15 hundreds to early 16 hundreds. I could be wrong about the text, because Erasmus is credited with the Textus Receptus, but I believe it was his(Theodore Beza's)
version/editing of the Textus Receptus that includes the "if" clause.
This is why I quoted the NASB on purpose. Because in regards to this verse. It doesn't include the "if". I only use the NASB whenever it's convenient. But anyway, they will not be able to use the "Hyperbole" argument.
So the only argument they will have left is verse 9:
NKJV"But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner."
They will use verse 9, and they will try to stop there. What I do is quote the following passages after verse 9.
10-12"For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises."
He will have to ignore these verses, because they go against his form of faith alone. He will call this works righteousness. Trust me, that will be the first thought in his mind. These verses are not talking about works righteousness, but they are talking about showing the same diligence in order to have an assurance of hope. He will down play these verses.......watch!
The christians in verses 4-6 in Hebrews chapter 6 stopped. Verses 10-12 is saying "don't stop". Keep Loving your nieghbor, Keep going to Divine Liturgy, Keep tasting of the heavenly gift, to Keep being partakers of the Holy Spirit, and to Keep tasting the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come.
Also, if he tries to use the argument that we can't repent again, because that would mean crucifying Jesus again. All you have to say is: "That's talking about initial salvation, in regards to the Repentance and washing away of sins past in Water Baptism."
There is only one Baptism. You can't start over if you mess up by getting Baptized again, and again, and again.....ect.
Baptism washes away sins
Acts 22:16And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
2 Peter 1:9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
There is only one washing away of sins in water Baptism. We are united with Christ's death in Baptism, so we can't get Baptized again, for that would be killing Jesus again. And Jesus can't die again. So it has to do with "initial" salvation in water Baptism". If one falls away, they can't come back through water Baptism......because they were already Baptized. So what do we do when we come back? Confess our sins to God in front of our Priests. And allow the Priest to guide us and give us spiritual direction.
This is why he says in verses 1-2"Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits."
Some of the elementary principles are the initial rites of the Christian faith.
1.) The Foundation of Repentance from dead works
2.) The Foundation of faith in God
3.) The foundation of the doctrines of Baptisms (Water Baptism)
4.) The foundation of the laying on of hands (Chrismation/Confirmation)
5.) The foundation of the Ressurection of the dead
6.) The foundation of the eternal judgement
And in regards to his possible perspective of the Atonement and how we would understand it. I would go to this thread.http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,11389.0.html
"Russian Orthodox Church
Representation to the European Institutions"http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/10/1.aspx#31
If you (an Orthodox) were asked, "What is the Gospel," how would you respond?
I think I covered this up above somewhere. But if not
MARK 1:1The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Dr. Jeannie Constantinou also answers this question in passing. On the podcast
Christ is Risenhttp://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/searchthescriptures
or for a downloadhttp://audio.ancientfaith.com/searchthescriptures/ss12_pascha1_pc.mp3
2) "Christianity is not a religion." It seems that many Protestants say Christianity is not a religion to distance the Gospel from any "rituals," or "organized worship" that is found in other religions. "Jesus saves" not things that people do.
There is nothing wrong with Christianity being a religion.
James 1:26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
James 1:27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
One can find christian rituals in the book of Revelations and the book of Acts. Baptists Baptise people with full immersion. That is a ritual. They dedicate babies, and mary people. Those are rituals. Some Baptists wash peoples feet. That is a ritual. Some Baptists only wear suites when they preach. That is a ritual. Many of them only serve grape juice and crackers every 5th Sunday. That is a ritual too. So they believe in rituals.....don't let them fool you. Even thier style of preaching can be a ritual.
I've often heard that Orthodoxy is a Way of Life, but is it also a religion?
It's both. It is both a religion as well as a way of life.
3) Faith. My friend talked a little bit in the group after dinner about how Abram was justified by faith and not by anything he himself created. My friend specifically mentioned that Abram was flawed in his actions, and that the faith he had came from without. I'm somewhat confused though by what Protestants teach about faith. They usually mention that faith comes from without the person (to show it's not of the person's own doing), and they talk about Abram believing and trusting in God, but they never really talk about Abram responding to God's grace. It's like God does everything and Abram is simply doing that which God moves him to do. Does that make sense?
Ok, that's all for now.
It all depends on what type of Baptist he/she is. If they are a Reformed Baptist then they will use Eph 2:8 to show that Faith is the gift of God. Eph 2:8 does not prove that. Eph 2:8 shows that "SALVATION" is the gift of God.
Thus, they will have to use another verse tp prove that. Yes, faith is a gift, but we still have to accept or reject it.
And in regards to Abraham. He is only looking at the first few verses of Romans chapter 4. His interpretation doesn't fit the rest of Romans chapter 4. When I was a Baptist. I only looked at the first few verses myself. Only recently(last couple years, and I was an Episcopalian then) have I closely looked at the rest of the chapter.
verses 13-25"It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.
Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations." He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be." Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why "it was credited to him as righteousness." The words "it was credited to him" were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification."
This gives a broader perspective of what Paul was talking about in the begining of the chapter.
I hope this helps. Oh yeah. Baptists believe that Water Baptism is a work. They will say that it's something we do for God. This is 100% false. Baptism is not a work. It is Grace. It is something God does for us.
Just like Naaman had to dip in the water (3 or 7 times...I forgot) to be free of leprosy. So we too our submirged in the water to be made clean....as white as snow. This is something God does for us. We can't make ourselves white as snow. Just like Naaman didn't make himself clean from leprosy. It was God that did that.
P.S. "Never trust a protestant that wants you to read a 15 page paper that explains away one or two verses of scripture. I had to learn that the hard way (while still a protestant). It shouldn't have to take a 30 minute speech or a 10 page paper to explain away one verse. That should be a red flag."
At least in regards to falling away from salvation. For this is what I meant by that. They will ask you to read a book by a Piper, Charles stanely, James white, R.C. Sproul, Hank Hannegraph, Norman Geisler or some Puritan from the 16 hundreds.
Just say: "No thank you, I am not interested".