Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Conversation with a member of the Church of Christ

I got into a discussion with a couple of Church of Christ guys on Facebook.  Here's a fair representation of what's transpired.

It started off by discussing Mark Driscoll and how awful and horrible he is, how he's a false teacher, etc.  I figured that since the two critics were Church of Christ and that they called him a "false teacher", at the foundation was a disagreement on the nature of salvation and the role of faith and works in it.

Joshua wrote:  
"1 Peter 3:21, baptism is an anti-type to Noah and the ark. Thus us being saved through water as well. "Baptism now saves us!!" That doesn't refer to the holy spirit baptism at all. O.k. so that's disproving one claim. What was the other one? Oh works to justification. James 2:18, show me your faith without your works and I'll show you my faith by my works. If you want to get into a biblical discussion, you're going to need to do your homework and not rely on "hear say" from you denominational preachers. Because what you presented is the same basic gibberish that denominations claim. Nothing I haven't heard before. Baptism (submersion into water) is a necessity to being a christian. You are not a Christian until you have been baptized into Christ. That's the facts of the bible. Don't argue with us about it, study the bible for yourself. You can argue with God on judgement when he asks why you didn't follow his will to the letter. Oh and that menstual cloth stuff is just unnecessary and nasty. You didn't have to bring that up, there's a lot of other examples in the bible to reference to. Yuck!  I don't even know who you are, but you seem as far off as that driscoll guy.... If you would like an in depth study of the truth and what God's will really is for us. let me or my brother know. "

Here is my response: 
1) You have not shown that the psg refers to water baptism and not Spirit baptism.  Please prove it from the text.  You *assert* that it is not HS baptism but don't show why.  Noah and the 7 others were saved in the ark, NOT BY THE WATER.  They never got wet.  The water was of judgment and death on the ungodly.  You're asserting a type-antitype relationship where none exists.  If anything, baptism is the antitype of the *ark*, not the water.

2) Peter says "NOT the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a clear conscience".  The baptism he's referring to is NOT water. You have it exactly backwards.  The baptism is a symbolic act of obedience to one's newfound Lord - God, you've awakened my conscience to desire to serve You, so now I am entering into baptism to obey You and thus have a clear conscience.  And that is b/c of the just-experienced HS baptism, which accompanies regeneration and justification.

3) Please answer - Is baptism a work?
i. If it IS a work, how is Ephesians 2:8-10 true, where it says that salvation is NOT BY WORKS?
ii. If it is NOT a work, what precisely is it?  What biblical support can you bring fwd to support your contention?

As for James 2, I like to quote it too!   James 2:10 - 10For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.'s that going for you?  Have you offended in one point?  Let's not be silly - of course you have.  And yet you want to tell me that you can contribute some righteousness of your own to your own salvation?  How does that work, since you're guilty of all the law?

Then read this from a real exegete (this is a link to my blog where I quote one):

Jeremy, the other guy, has not yet interacted with that post, but said this in a PM: 
Alan I am not looking 4 an argument. I don't enjoy that. If you wish to study to seek truth I am more than willing. I'm not interested in going back and forth on facebook. I am not on here enough 2 accomplish anything with that.

I responded:

If you weren't looking for an argument, why did you
1) spend 5 posts in an argument with me? and
2) make unbiblical accusations against an elder of a church?

Jesus debated. The Apostle Paul debated. If you're not interested in substantiating your accusations that Driscoll is a false teacher and that a sinner does in fact contribute anything other than sin to the equation of salvation, then fine, that's not my problem. Let me turn your own statement back on you: If you wish to study to seek truth I am more than willing. I'm not interested in going back and forth on facebook.

Peace, Galatians 1:8-10, and good luck with trying to please God based on your own merits,

Then Jeremy said:
I wasn't looking for an argument. You called me out by name on _____'s page. I didn't make unbiblical accusations against an elder of a church. I already explained that to you. If you don't like it, then move on buddy. Just because someone attaches a little truth to an otherwise absurd sermon, does not make him a ligitimate proclaimer of the gospel. I explained to you my thoughts on salvation and you just keep taking me to one verse. I named many. The Bible does not contradict itself, you haven't spent the time to read Ephesians in context. Thats like saying that you can take only eggs out of plan to bake a cake, and you will still have a cake at the end. You are picking 1 verse out of entire Bible and saying it means this. Well take these... "Judas hung himself"...."Go ye therefore and do likewise." Two different verses, but by your logic...They say what they say right? You gotta take it for what it is. (Now I don't really believe this, but I'm making a point) I'm not going to spend my time with a contentious person that believes false doctrine. The harvest is plenty and the workers are few. You have told me your stance.... I do not know what there is to discuss, I am well aware of the Calvanist doctrine. We don't believe that we are saved by merit, but that the Bible explicitly names actions that are required to render God's grace being baptism. I showed you a verse that likened baptism unto Noah and water 1 Peter 3:21, you show me a verse that says, accept Jesus into your heart and you will be saved. BELIEF in itself is an action! Your doctrine contradicts itself. So good luck with your unmerited favor without believing, which by the way does require something from you, thus being a "work". You see? I can debate this all day long, but you aren't going to change.
My latest response:

I called you out by name after you called Driscoll out. And then I baited you into revealing your real problem with him - you think his Gospel is wrong. That's why you call him a false teacher. And I know from listening to him that he preaches the biblical Gospel, whereas Church of Christ usually throws in human works into the equation. So I asked you about it, and you confirmed my suspicions.

My "picking out" verses are fully in line with the context of the psgs, the books, and indeed the entire Bible. CORRECTLY prooftexting is not wrong; Jesus did it all the time, so did Paul, Peter, and the author of Hebrews. Your problem is that you make the Scripture contradict itself. My position harmonises ALL of what God said. It's a position I commend to you, rather than thinking your human traditions are better than God's teaching.

And belief is NOT an action. This is, again, where your position is internally contradictory. Belief is an action that *God performs upon the person*. It's not sthg that the person does. Doesn't originate with the person. God grants us faith.
Two things about this approach:
1) Even if I did hold to this belief, showing that my position is wrong doesn't make your position right. That's a logical fallacy called the "tu quoque".
2) You're projecting your own position onto me, but your attempt at showing that my position is ALSO wrong fails, since God grants faith. 1 John 5:1 - 1Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.
When it says "is born", that is a perfect passive participle in Greek, expressing an action that HAS ALREADY TAKEN PLACE. Could translate it "has been born of God". Believers have been born of God; THEREFORE they believe.

Anyway, as for 1 Peter 3, here are my questions for you (then I quoted my arguments from above).


Matt said...

Good post, Rho, but a few thoughts of my own:

1. Regarding the "Baptism is necessary for salvation" passages, I think this post on the subject by Steve Hays gets to the bottom of the matter quite nicely. The point is that baptism, in those passages, is a symbol of forgiveness - the "washing away" of sins. Inasmuch as the Cross is used as a symbol of Christ's redemptive work (such as in Eph. 2:16), so also is baptism used as a symbol of forgiveness.

2. Jeremy has a rather facile view of logic, which is exhibited when he says: Well take these... "Judas hung himself"...."Go ye therefore and do likewise." Two different verses, but by your logic...They say what they say right? You gotta take it for what it is. (Now I don't really believe this, but I'm making a point).

So how does Jeremy reconcile this? By making one of the verses to "not say what it says"? To even bring this up is to fail to make an elementary distinction between two statements that assert something different, and two statements that assert something contradictory. All statements of the latter kind are also statements of the former kind, but not vice versa. To illustrate this, consider the following two statements:

1) John went to a baseball game last Saturday afternoon.
2) John went to a football game last Saturday afternoon.

The critic who uses Jeremy's standards of reasoning will be quick to say "Contradiction! Those two statements contradict each other!!!" Indeed, most Biblical critics also employ such facile standards of reasoning to find "contradictions" and "problems" in Scripture. Of course, there is nothing to say that John did not attend a baseball game from 12:30-3:00 on Saturday afternoon, followed by a football game from 3:30-6:00. Such a state of affairs makes both statements (1) and (2) true. They assert different things, but they are not contradictory. On the other hand, consider these two statements:

1') John went to a baseball game last Saturday afternoon.
2') John did not go to a baseball game last Saturday afternoon.

Statements (1') and (2') assert different things, and are contradictory. The difference between these kinds of statements should be obvious. Now with respect to Judas, the different accounts of his death assert different things, but they do not assert contradictory things. Gleason Archer gives a good explanation of how both are true in his Encyclopedia of Biblical Difficulties. As a general rule, the onus is on the critic to show how two Biblical statements are contradictory (that is, there is no possible world in which they can both be true, in the same sense).

Matt said...


3. Belief is a state of mind with respect to a given proposition. Thus it is not an action in any sense. This is to be distinguished from "the act of believing" in which a person changes his mind to accept or bring about the state of belief with respect to a given proposition. The latter is properly called an action because it involves the exertion of the will to effect a change in the state of the person (and this is a characteristic of all actions).

Failure to distinguish between these two concepts leads to confusion when interpreting Scripture. For instance, usage of the verb "to believe" in the present tense indicates that a person possesses the state of belief with respect to a given proposition ("he believes X"). On the other hand, the punctiliar past-tense usage of the verb (such as the aorist) indicates that the act of believing occurred at some point in the past ("he believed X" - i.e., he changed his mind to accept X). Likewise, the imperative form of the verb is a command for a person to perform the act of believing a given proposition ("Believe X!" - i.e., change your mind and accept X).

4. Jeremy has an anthropocentric view of man and God. He says: We don't believe that we are saved by merit, but that the Bible explicitly names actions that are required to render God's grace being baptism.

Where does the Bible say "explicitly" that such-and-such is required to "render God's grace operative"? This is not a Biblical phrase, though it would certainly be at home in witchcraft, Voodoo, and other forms of pagan practice in which the human practitioner performs some deed in order to unleash a source of spiritual power (that is, "render it operative").

Lucian said...

Hi there!

Placing subversive, anti-Protestant link.

Bye there! :-)

Lvka said...

A response to your response:

1) the evil-doers of Noah's time, just like the Pharaoh in the time of Moses, were destroyed through the waters of the Flood, or of the Red Sea, respectively. -- In like manner, holy baptism saves us, by drowning every evil inside us, and setting the inner man free from its fangs.

3) Baptism is a work of the grace of the Holy Spirit, Who descends upon the one being baptized, and sets him free from all sins and evils, purifying him or her in the waters that are blessed for this occasion.

2) See #3.