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Author Topic: Does Sola Scriptura actually exist?  (Read 5381 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: April 04, 2013, 03:34:57 AM »

Due to some comments lately, I tried to look into the issue a bit and I have come to wonder if Sola scriptura, as it is often potrayed by orthodox, really is practised in most protestant denominations. Lutherans, for example, while holding the doctrine, still containssome reliance on the aspect of tradition. I wonder if sometimes, the way we define Sola Scriptura and the way it is used might be a little simplistic.

What do you think? 
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« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2013, 03:50:26 AM »

Of course we are too simplistic about it.

It's because we are too lazy with our apologetics. "Oh Bible only? WHY YOU NO TRADITION?"
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« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2013, 06:01:19 AM »

Due to some comments lately, I tried to look into the issue a bit and I have come to wonder if Sola scriptura, as it is often potrayed by orthodox, really is practised in most protestant denominations. Lutherans, for example, while holding the doctrine, still containssome reliance on the aspect of tradition. I wonder if sometimes, the way we define Sola Scriptura and the way it is used might be a little simplistic.

What do you think? 

Isn't that part of our criticism of it - that reliance on 'the Bible alone' is simply an impossibility? That doesn't mean that there aren't large numbers of Protestants who believe that they adhere to 'sola scriptura', it's just easily demonstrable that they do not actually do so. I know that when I considered myself to be a sola scriptura Protestant, I really thought that I accepted nothing outside of Scripture and that I was merely reading the 'plain text' of that Scripture, not relying on any tradition to do so. I was clearly, looking back on it, deluding myself, but at the time I was certainly sincere.

James
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« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2013, 08:10:41 AM »

It doesn't exist, but Protestants who believe in Sola Scriptura actually believe that they hold to the "Bible alone" and are in denial about the fact that they have not eliminated tradition but have only replaced Holy Tradition with their own self-created interpretive traditions.  If there were Protestants who truly believed in Sola Scriptura, they would have no need for preaching sermons or reading and writing Christian books, since the Bible is all that is supposed to be necessary.
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« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2013, 08:27:02 AM »

In a broad swath of evangelical Christianity, sola scriptura is the norm.  In more mainline denominations, there is still an element of tradition that continues, but in the independant, non-denominational churches, it is frequently a great source of pride that they try to "reinvent the wheel" by throwing all preconceptions out and attempting to construct a church solely on what they read in Scripture.  Of course, little do they realize that they are merely constructing it out of their interpretations rather than anything else.  I attended a church for awhile that had split off another church and they took great pains to ensure that they did not carry over any "traditions" from the prior church.  They made up a different order of service, got song books that had different songs, studied the Bible to come up with their own doctrine that was not "tainted" by their prior church.  All this was done out of fear that they might be carrying some tradition into the church and they wanted their church to be "based solely on the Bible"
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« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2013, 08:52:13 AM »

I can only speak as a Lutheran but Sola Scriptura means that the final authority is the Scriptures. That the only thing we know as divinely inspired are the Holy Scriptures and what is contained in them has everything we need for eternal salvation. The Apostle John, towards the conclusion of his Gospel states: "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." John never mentioned the Church in his Gospel. Now, of course before that he states:  "Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book" which leads to a good argument that their is more fullness in certain churches.

Also, being a Lutheran we accept the Dogmas of the 7 ecumenical councils. We recite the Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed. We have the Book of Concord which is the Lutheran tradition. We baptize infants even though it isn't specifically talked about in the Scriptures.
 
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« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2013, 08:53:08 AM »

I've noticed increasing numbers of Protestants accept that "Sola Scriptura" doesn't answer all the questions and settle all the issues.  But instead of looking to tradition, Protestants are increasingly accepting an embrace of doubt and uncertainty . . . a refusal to be "dogmatic" etc.  As some here have also stated, many Protestants act according to their own denominational traditions or styles without even questioning whether what their doing amounts to "tradition".  It is simply presumed as an appropriate way of going about worship, etc.
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« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2013, 09:30:56 AM »

I can only speak as a Lutheran but Sola Scriptura means that the final authority is the Scriptures. That the only thing we know as divinely inspired are the Holy Scriptures and what is contained in them has everything we need for eternal salvation. The Apostle John, towards the conclusion of his Gospel states: "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." John never mentioned the Church in his Gospel. Now, of course before that he states:  "Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book" which leads to a good argument that their is more fullness in certain churches.

Also, being a Lutheran we accept the Dogmas of the 7 ecumenical councils. We recite the Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed. We have the Book of Concord which is the Lutheran tradition. We baptize infants even though it isn't specifically talked about in the Scriptures.
 

Fine, but that's not what an awful lot of Protestants mean by it (and that includes some Lutherans, certainly this side of the Atlantic). But, honestly, whilst clearly a lot better than what I deluded myself into believing I was doing, it still doesn't particularly work. How can Scripture be the final authority? How can you 'know' it's divinely inspired? How can you be sure what is and is and is not Scripture? Scripture can't answer any of those questions and it's that that precipitated my discontent with Protestantism long before I discovered Orthodoxy. Eventually you always end up back at Church/Tradition, so I don't even think it can really exist as you've described it above.

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« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2013, 10:00:37 AM »

I do a lot of work with protestant churches.  I see a lot of people beginning to question Sola Scriptura and looking to the early fathers. I've found that when I'm questioned about my faith and start with the early church fathers, men who lived hundreds of years before the bible was canonized, you really find people eager to listen.

I try to avoid arguing against Sola Scriptura by just point out how many of our Church traditions and beliefs existed before most communitities had any type of "Bible" as we know it to reference.
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« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2013, 11:00:52 AM »

Quote
Also, being a Lutheran we accept the Dogmas of the 7 ecumenical councils. We recite the Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed. We have the Book of Concord which is the Lutheran tradition. We baptize infants even though it isn't specifically talked about in the Scriptures.
 

I realise that there exist many different Lutheran branches, but it was my impression that Lutherans only accepts five councils.
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« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2013, 11:09:10 AM »

How can Scripture be the final authority? How can you 'know' it's divinely inspired?

We don't know our Scriptures are divinley inspired anymore than anyone from any religion. We believe it on faith and when you have faith they are inspired, it's easy to see them as the final authority. In the other thread I posted numerous quotes from some of the most respected fathers that affirms this.

Quote
How can you be sure what is and is and is not Scripture?

The early church didn't. Eusebius wrote their were 18 "uncontested books" which were the 4 Gospels and Paul's letters. Over time the church, of which you must give them credit canonized 27 books. Again, as John stated, just his Gospel has the information needed to have life in Christs name.

I have to make a point I made in the other thread, Protestants did not start the seperations of the church, that was you guys with your excommunications of each other making it impossible to know who was right, if anyone. If the church was united in the reformation era as it was when the scriptures were canonized I doubt we would be having this discussion.
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« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2013, 11:18:14 AM »


I realise that there exist many different Lutheran branches, but it was my impression that Lutherans only accepts five councils.


I was taught all seven, I know the Lutheran World Federation of which the ELCA is a part of accepts them. As far as I know WELS and LCMS accept them as well.
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« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2013, 11:22:47 AM »


I realise that there exist many different Lutheran branches, but it was my impression that Lutherans only accepts five councils.


I was taught all seven, I know the Lutheran World Federation of which the ELCA is a part of accepts them. As far as I know WELS and LCMS accept them as well.

So... you accept icons?
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« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2013, 11:27:42 AM »

Quote
have to make a point I made in the other thread, Protestants did not start the seperations of the church, that was you guys with your excommunications of each other making it impossible to know who was right, if anyone. If the church was united in the reformation era as it was when the scriptures were canonized I doubt we would be having this discussion.

I must admit, I have never understood this argument. The early Church excommunicated people too. As far as I can see, the whole point with excommunication is to prevent theological confusion.
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« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2013, 11:30:00 AM »




So... you accept icons?

Yes, just look at these Lutheran churches.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfVXfBucQfs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lizfznY63Yk

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« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2013, 11:36:58 AM »


I wish someone would tell my mother...

Honestly, the next time I see a Lutheran venerate an image (whether that be an icon, which I've never actually seen in a Lutheran church, or a statue) will definitely be the first. It's true that there are Lutheran churches that contain images (particularly if they're ex-Roman Catholic churches as they often are in Germany), but they certainly aren't venerated (again, at least in my experience - American Lutherans often seem quite different to what I know from Europe). Simply having decorations in church, which is all that really amounts to, is not following the 7th Ecumenical Council.

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« Reply #16 on: April 04, 2013, 11:40:47 AM »


Yes, religious images are certainly not rare in lutheran churches, but do you also accept the theology, concerning icons, that were confirmed at the Seventh Council?
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« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2013, 11:41:18 AM »


I wish someone would tell my mother...


Would you like me to call her.  Smiley
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« Reply #18 on: April 04, 2013, 11:43:36 AM »


I wish someone would tell my mother...


Would you like me to call her.  Smiley

Thanks for the offer, but you'd only get your head bitten off. Then after that I'd get my head bitten off for having told you to phone her and, frankly, life would be less tolerable than it is now having to pretend not to notice her jibes about our icons every time she visits.

James
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« Reply #19 on: April 04, 2013, 11:48:42 AM »

...Sola Scriptura means that the final authority is the Scriptures. That the only thing we know as divinely inspired are the Holy Scriptures and what is contained in them has everything we need for eternal salvation.  

For the sake of argument, even if we do accept all of the above, how do you know that you are understanding/interpreting the Scriptures correctly? Wouldn't it be pretty important to understand the Scriptures correctly, since they are the final authority?

And being the final authority, how is it that millions of sincere and well-meaning Christians disagree over important points of Scripture - not just mere hairsplitting but often diametrically opposed theologies?

Saying that the Scriptures are the final authority without agreement on what the Scriptures actually say or mean has always seemed like sort of a distinction without a difference to me.
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« Reply #20 on: April 04, 2013, 12:03:26 PM »

For the sake of argument, even if we do accept all of the above, how do you know that you are understanding/interpreting the Scriptures correctly? Wouldn't it be pretty important to understand the Scriptures correctly, since they are the final authority?

"They say that we are to understand the things concerning Paradise not as they are written but in a different way. But when Scripture wants to teach us something like that, it interprets itself and does not permit the hearer to err".

St. John Chrysostom

Theology is interesting for looking for the deeper meanings but the scriptures are plain and easy to understand the things pertaining to salvation, which is the whole point.  Remember, Christ's own Apostles didn't even understand the Resurrection until after it happened.
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« Reply #21 on: April 04, 2013, 12:05:12 PM »

...but the scriptures are plain and easy to understand the things pertaining to salvation, which is the whole point.   

Okey-doke. But if the Scriptures are plain and easy to understand, why so many different understandings?
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« Reply #22 on: April 04, 2013, 01:00:48 PM »

...but the scriptures are plain and easy to understand the things pertaining to salvation, which is the whole point.   

Okey-doke. But if the Scriptures are plain and easy to understand, why so many different understandings?

There are different theologys yet the scriptures are clear we are saved by Grace. That through Christ death and Reserection we can be saved from our sin. That we are to love and trust God above all things and love our neighbors. Who doesn't teach that?
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« Reply #23 on: April 04, 2013, 01:07:12 PM »

John never mentioned the Church in his Gospel.
But Matthew did.
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« Reply #24 on: April 04, 2013, 01:11:00 PM »

John never mentioned the Church in his Gospel.
But Matthew did.

Of course, the point is John said he wrote what he wrote so we can have life in Christ. If the church was a requirement he would have mentioned it.
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« Reply #25 on: April 04, 2013, 01:12:11 PM »

...but the scriptures are plain and easy to understand the things pertaining to salvation, which is the whole point.   

Okey-doke. But if the Scriptures are plain and easy to understand, why so many different understandings?

There are different theologys yet the scriptures are clear we are saved by Grace. That through Christ death and Reserection we can be saved from our sin. That we are to love and trust God above all things and love our neighbors. Who doesn't teach that?

Most denominations teach that, but then there are a lot of other important theological issues, like "Is the Eucharist the Body and Blood of Christ or is it symbolic?" "Can women be priests?" "The Nature of Christ",  "The Fillioque" and lots and lots of other things.  
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« Reply #26 on: April 04, 2013, 01:20:47 PM »

I have to make a point I made in the other thread, Protestants did not start the seperations of the church, that was you guys with your excommunications of each other making it impossible to know who was right, if anyone. If the church was united in the reformation era as it was when the scriptures were canonized I doubt we would be having this discussion.
Tu quoque much? To make a counterpoint I made in the other thread, the teaching of sola scriptura is directly responsible for the many splits seen in your church.
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« Reply #27 on: April 04, 2013, 01:22:41 PM »

John never mentioned the Church in his Gospel.
But Matthew did.

Of course, the point is John said he wrote what he wrote so we can have life in Christ. If the church was a requirement he would have mentioned it.
Arguments from silence are rarely ever convincing. Also rarely ever convincing is this practice of separating St. John's witness from that of the rest of the Apostles.
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« Reply #28 on: April 04, 2013, 01:24:22 PM »

I wonder if sometimes, the way we define Sola Scriptura and the way it is used might be a little simplistic.

I think heresiology in general tends to be simplistic, since its purpose is not to give an accurate account of what a particular person or group believes, but to shield the Orthodox from heresy. This usually means the heresy in question is simplified, to some extent caricatured, and the underlying principles or ideas are taken to their logical conclusion (i.e. to a greater extreme than what the heretic in question might hold).

For example, the way we would normally define "Nestorianism" or even "Arianism" today would not accurately represent the personal views of Nestorius or Arius, which were obviously more nuanced.

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« Reply #29 on: April 04, 2013, 01:27:56 PM »

I wonder if sometimes, the way we define Sola Scriptura and the way it is used might be a little simplistic.

I think heresiology in general tends to be simplistic, since its purpose is not to give an accurate account of what a particular person or group believes, but in to shield the Orthodox from heresy. This usually means the heresy in question is simplified, to some extent caricatured, and the underlying principles or ideas are taken to their logical conclusion (i.e. to a greater extreme than what the heretic in question might hold).

For example, the way we would normally define "Nestorianism" or even "Arianism" today would not accurately represent the personal views of Nestorius or Arius, which were obviously more nuanced.



But isn't that kind of wrong? Shouldn't we portray the beliefs of others as honest and fair as possible?
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« Reply #30 on: April 04, 2013, 01:38:41 PM »

But isn't that kind of wrong? Shouldn't we portray the beliefs of others as honest and fair as possible?

It depends on how it's presented. If you're pretending to give an accurate nuanced account of what group or person X believes, then it would be wrong. If you're trying to demonstrate the inherent flaws or the logical, erroneous consequences of such teachings, then it's entirely acceptable.
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« Reply #31 on: April 04, 2013, 01:48:58 PM »

...but the scriptures are plain and easy to understand the things pertaining to salvation, which is the whole point.   

Okey-doke. But if the Scriptures are plain and easy to understand, why so many different understandings?

There are different theologys yet the scriptures are clear we are saved by Grace. That through Christ death and Reserection we can be saved from our sin. That we are to love and trust God above all things and love our neighbors. Who doesn't teach that?

Most denominations teach that, but then there are a lot of other important theological issues, like "Is the Eucharist the Body and Blood of Christ or is it symbolic?" "Can women be priests?" "The Nature of Christ",  "The Fillioque" and lots and lots of other things.  

Exactly. And also what is grace? How are we saved? What does it really mean in our daily lives to love and trust God and love our neighbors? Who is our neighbor? (oh, wait...) IOW, what does this really mean for me and my life?
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« Reply #32 on: April 04, 2013, 01:49:51 PM »


Arguments from silence are rarely ever convincing. Also rarely ever convincing is this practice of separating St. John's witness from that of the rest of the Apostles.

Using St Johns own words in not an argument from silence. He wrote his Gospel, before there was a canon. In that Gospel he says:

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

You are the one making an argument he means something other than what he actually says.

Also, if we want to get technical on Matthew, Ekklesia properly translates to assembly, not church and especially not "one true church". Christians assemble in Christ's name. "Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am in the midst of them." Church is a proper translation only because a church is an assembly in Christ. Unless your willing to say that all other Christians besides the Orthodox do NOT assemble in Christ name?
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« Reply #33 on: April 04, 2013, 01:53:39 PM »

Also, if we want to get technical on Matthew, Ekklesia properly translates to assembly, not church and especially not "one true church". Christians assemble in Christ's name. "Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am in the midst of them." Church is a proper translation only because a church is an assembly in Christ. Unless your willing to say that all other Christians besides the Orthodox do NOT assemble in Christ name?

Um, ekklesia was not simply an assembly, but rather  a specific term for those who were "called out." So "church" is indeed a proper translation of the Greek, and "one true church" not a stretch, by any means.

Other Christians may be assembling in Christ's name, but what Christ, I wonder?
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« Reply #34 on: April 04, 2013, 01:54:26 PM »

You are the one making an argument he means something other than what he actually says.

The essence of Sola Scriptura.
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« Reply #35 on: April 04, 2013, 02:01:26 PM »

Most denominations teach that, but then there are a lot of other important theological issues, like "Is the Eucharist the Body and Blood of Christ or is it symbolic?" "Can women be priests?" "The Nature of Christ",  "The Fillioque" and lots and lots of other things.  

Do these things save you? Any church with women priests or leaders are going to hell? Opinion on Fillioque determines your salvation?

There is a book by Robert Farrar Capon "The Parables of the Kingdom, Grace and Judgment" There is a chapter he calls the parable of Theology and Faith. The basic point is the house is built on Faith, pure, blind, childlike faith. There is a porch you need to get into the house. This porch is theology. Some of the porches can be beautiful with easy ways to get in. While others are messy and are tougher but they still allow access. What you need in the end is to get into the house. You would have to read the book to get the whole idea but that is the basics.

Sure, Orthodoxy might be that perfect porch, it's just not the only one and there are many other ways into the house.
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« Reply #36 on: April 04, 2013, 02:02:00 PM »

Other Christians may be assembling in Christ's name, but what Christ, I wonder?

I guess not the one you have trapped in a box.
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« Reply #37 on: April 04, 2013, 02:03:30 PM »

Other Christians may be assembling in Christ's name, but what Christ, I wonder?

I guess not the one you have trapped in a box.

I knew the insult was probably coming - I just hoped for better. Too bad.
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« Reply #38 on: April 04, 2013, 02:06:13 PM »



I knew the insult was probably coming - I just hoped for better. Too bad.

Insult? You said other Christians worship another Jesus.

John 12:32
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
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« Reply #39 on: April 04, 2013, 02:07:15 PM »

Most denominations teach that, but then there are a lot of other important theological issues, like "Is the Eucharist the Body and Blood of Christ or is it symbolic?" "Can women be priests?" "The Nature of Christ",  "The Fillioque" and lots and lots of other things.  

Do these things save you? Any church with women priests or leaders are going to hell? Opinion on Fillioque determines your salvation?

How do you know they don't? See, that's the problem. Your opinion is that they don't, but how can you know for sure, because it's only your interpretation/understanding that says they don't matter.

Quote
There is a book by Robert Farrar Capon "The Parables of the Kingdom, Grace and Judgment" There is a chapter he calls the parable of Theology and Faith. The basic point is the house is built on Faith, pure, blind, childlike faith. There is a porch you need to get into the house. This porch is theology. Some of the porches can be beautiful with easy ways to get in. While others are messy and are tougher but they still allow access. What you need in the end is to get into the house. You would have to read the book to get the whole idea but that is the basics.

Sure, Orthodoxy might be that perfect porch, it's just not the only one and there are many other ways into the house.
Read it, btw.  Actually read a lot of his work. It's a nice image. How do you know he's right? Because it fits the way you think things are.
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« Reply #40 on: April 04, 2013, 02:09:53 PM »



I knew the insult was probably coming - I just hoped for better. Too bad.

Insult? You said other Christians worship another Jesus.

John 12:32
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

Nope. That's what you understood me to say. I said I wonder what Christ they may worship, because according to different denoms they understand Christ in different ways. Sometimes in very different ways.
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« Reply #41 on: April 04, 2013, 02:13:17 PM »



How do you know they don't? See, that's the problem. Your opinion is that they don't

It's not my opinion:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--

Unless Paul meant faith as some deep theological understanding and not childlike trust, as Jesus said.

And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven
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« Reply #42 on: April 04, 2013, 02:19:29 PM »

"Faith without works is dead"
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« Reply #43 on: April 04, 2013, 02:23:00 PM »

John 12:32
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

That makes no sense. By that reasoning, all men would include atheists, Hindus, Jains, Buddhists.
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« Reply #44 on: April 04, 2013, 02:23:30 PM »

"Faith without works is dead"

Correct.

"It is one thing that faith justifies without works; it is another thing that faith exists without works."
Martin Luther
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