A Conversation On Salvation: Where Are My Flaws?

The following is a conversation that happened on my Facebook Wall a few weeks ago. Ralph is a worship pastor at the large Baptist church in Sarnia, and we tend to go back and forth quite a bit on theological conversations but never really land on any kind of common ground. We both have our own reasons I am sure that this is the case. The conversation that I’ve posted in its entirety below has been referenced a number of times (positive and negative). So if you have some time, read over this conversation, correct me and show me how I could have handled this better and/or where my theology needs working.

Nathan Colquhoun All Roads Lead to Heaven? http://ff.im/-kmaGb

Domenic Ruso

Domenic Ruso
Nathan, you might want to read Stephen Prothero’s new book.

Nathan Colquhoun

Nathan Colquhoun
looks good actually, you have a copy?

Ralph Jarvis

Ralph Jarvis
So is Jesus the only way to heaven? What do you believe Nathan? It’s yes or no…is repentance and faith in Jesus Christ the ONLY way to heaven?

Nathan Colquhoun

Nathan Colquhoun
I think that’s a complicated question for a few reasons.

1. When you ask it, I think you are really asking, “do you believe that the only way someone can spend eternity in heaven (as opposed to eternity in hell) is to confess with their mouth that they cognitively believe that jesus died and rose again for their sins.”

So why don’t you reframe your question?

Cause I can answer ‘yes’ to your question, but I know we disagree, so I think the question is flawed. For the record, I do hold that only Jesus makes it possible for all to be redeemed one day, but that’s not really what you are asking me.

Ralph Jarvis

Ralph Jarvis
It is not a flawed question whatsoever. It is very straight-forward and simple. You are a pastor of a church. Is eternal salvation received through Jesus Christ and Him alone or not? Yes or no.

Nathan Colquhoun

Nathan Colquhoun
I already did, i wrote ‘yes’ and I explained what I meant by it, its complicated and is not a yes or no answer.

But I still don’t think your question makes any sense, because it is loaded with a whole slew of doctrine you are not mentioning.

Your question begs a hundred other questions, for instance, salvation from what? is eternity forever? is there another option if you don’t receive said salvation? what does “through” mean? is it a prayer, a thought, a word, an action? I could keep going, but I think you get my drift, it’s not a straight forward question, you presume and already have an understanding of all my other questions, where anyone reading this does not.

Do I believe Jesus died and rose again? Yup.
Do I believe that through Jesus salvation is offered to all? Yup.
Do I believe that if someone doesn’t understand cognitively understand what the heck we are talking about they are going to an eternal hell with no escape. No.

Ralph Jarvis

Ralph Jarvis
Biblical Christianity isn’t complicated on this matter.

Acts 4:12 referring to Jesus, says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Any question can ‘beg other questions.’ I just wanted to know what you believe. So you sort of said yes but then you said it’s not a yes or no answer, and then you answered some other questions I didn’t ask which still don’t give a definitive answer. So I will ask it one more time. Is Jesus the ONLY way to eternal salvation? Is he the only way? That is a one word answer…yes or no.

Nathan Colquhoun

Nathan Colquhoun
No Ralph, it’s not complicated at all, that’s why we have schools, and hundreds of splits and denominations, people who spend their entire lives studying and questioning and seeking….it’s that way because it’s simple. It’s that way because everyone says it’s so “simple” but it’s really not that simple and I think we need more people who can admit that its complicated and be ok with that.

Since you brought up bible verses. I’ll throw a bunch into the mix to prove that it’s not that simple, in brackets I wrote what is expected so that you either don’t go to hell or reap eternal life.

Matthew 7:21
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
(only those that do what he says)

John 3:5
Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
(now you have to be baptized to)

1 Corinthians 7:14
For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
(be married to someone who believes)

James 2:14
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?
(Do good deeds)

Matthew 25:45-46
“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
(feed the poor)

So without giving you a direct answer to your flawed question again, I ask you.

What is eternal salvation?
What does it meant to be the ONLY way?

Unless you answer those questions, I’m afraid I can’t answer yours.

Ralph Jarvis

Ralph Jarvis
Peter and John ‘were unschooled, ordinary men’…as it says in Acts 4:13. I too never went to bible college and certainly I wish there were no denominations and splits and schisms. As for your verses let’s go;

Matthew 7:21 refers to the will of the Father or as you said ‘do what he says.’ God’s plan of salvation (and therefore His will) is in the giving of his son Jesus so that we would have eternal life (John 3:16). God has said through John 3:16 that it all points directly to Jesus.

John 3:5 The word “water” mentioned in this verse is not literal physical water but rather a reference to the “living water” which only Jesus gives. Check out http://www.gotquestions.org/baptism-John-3-5.html for a full description of the meaning of this verse). Conclusion – being born again is through faith in Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 7:14 There is absolutely nothing in this chapter that refers to eternal salvation. This about marriage. Salvation is through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12)

James 2:14 James is not saying here that justification is by faith plus works, but rather that a person who is truly justified by faith will have good works in his/her life. One is an outcome of the other…faith in Jesus Christ produces lasting good works.

Matthew 25:45-46 First of all this is a parable. A parable is a short simple story from which a moral or religious lesson may be drawn…but typically not what you base doctrine on. This passage is similar to what James 2 says. The parable starts off with the sheep already designated on the right and the goats on the left. The core message of the parable of the sheep and goats is that good works will result from our relationship to the Shepherd, to Jesus Christ. True followers of Christ will produce good works, will treat others with kindness, will deal with others as if they were dealing with Christ. Those who reject Christ (goats on the left) live in the opposite manner. While “goats” can indeed do acts of kindness and charity, their hearts are not truly in them for the right purpose – to honor and worship God through Jesus Christ and hence they are cast out. The practical message of this parable iis, just where, exactly, we stand in relation to the Shepherd (Jesus Christ). Are you a Sheep or a Goat, saved or lost?
So the verses you gave me all point back to salvation through Jesus Christ and him alone.
There’s no such thing as a flawed question unless it contradicts itself.
So what is eternal salvation? A forever, endless, outside of time existance and deliverance from the power and penalty of sin; redemption back to God and living in his presence.

What does it meant to be the ONLY way to God? Answer – through faith in Jesus Christ. Do you believe that Nathan? Yes or no?

Nathan Colquhoun

Nathan Colquhoun
Ralph, you certainly have a lot of interpretation going on there for each and every one of those verses. That seems a bit more than simple to me. Where did you get all that information? I’m assuming from some source outside of the Bible. I didn’t throw around those verses to try to say anything with them, just to show you that throwing around verses doesn’t really prove anything. Want some more?

Mark 2:4
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.
(looks like the friends faith gave forgiveness to his sins same in matt 9:1)

Luke 19:1-10
story of Zaccheus–chief tax collector of Jericho says he will give half of his wealth to the poor and repay those he cheated 4 times the amount. Jesus says TODAY salvation has come to your house. What? Just by giving away stuff?

Matthew 10:22
All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
(just stay firm)

Mark 10
just read that dialogue between Jesus and the rich man, nothing about faith, but all through actions he had to do.

The point of all these, is that people come to Jesus through lots of different ways, through giving away their riches, through their friends, through baptism, through confessing, through marriage, through repentance….

So again, for the record, I do believe that only through Jesus is salvation found. But just because their is only one way to God, doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of ways to Jesus.

Do I believe that someone has to have cognitive faith in Jesus Christ to get to God? No.

I believe babies, mentally ill, confused sinners, indoctrinated unbelievers and sexually immoral will one day be redeemed fully from the power and penalty of sin through Jesus Christ.

Side question, which you can answer later, are you serious about not basing theology on a parable and only using it for a “moral lesson?”

I think there is such thing as a flawed question if it fails to take into account everything that it is asking. I am asking for clarification on the question, which we are beginning to do through this conversation.

Ralph Jarvis

Ralph Jarvis
Yes or no Nathan! Final answer!

Nathan Colquhoun

Nathan Colquhoun
Again, I answer. It depends.

Let me ask you a yes or no question.

Do you feel guilty when you beat your wife?.

Yes or No, that’s all I want as an answer to that question.

Some questions even though phrased like a yes or no question, don’t merit a yes or no response.

Nathan Colquhoun

Nathan Colquhoun
For the record, I’m obviously not accusing you of such a thing.

Ralph Jarvis

Ralph Jarvis
haha…that’s cool…

Not sure though that the question was the same type of question but at least it helped me understand your perspective a bit.
Good interpretation of scripture is always necessary especially if one calls him/herself a ‘critical thinker.’ You mention alot of verses here and gave literal interpretations for each while I know you don’t even agree with taking the bible literally. To tell me that ‘throwing around verses doesn’t really prove anything’ is exactly my point. When I use scripture it is because I believe it is God’s word and that it is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, correction and training in righteousness.
For you, scripture is not your final belief. You have to have a ‘conversation’ about it with other people and then sort of decide what you want to believe for the present at least. To a biblical Christian, my question was very simple and easy to understand and not flawed. You are not a biblical Christian and therefore you don’t get it. I’m not being arrogant or accusing here…just stating the obvious.
Gotta run…head for church. We will talk about Jesus our redeemer and how he is the only way to heaven…!

Nathan Colquhoun

Nathan Colquhoun
I wouldn’t go that far to call me a non-biblical Christian just because you and I don’t agree on what the Bible says. We are still both using scripture here. The reason I say that you are throwing verses around is because you didn’t interpret yours. You didn’t say who was writing it, who it was being written to, what was happening while it was being written…etc. All you said is “this is what the bible says.” So I was just using scripture like you were. If I was actually trying to prove anything with it, then you would be right. So I fully agree with you that good interpretation is important (because we’ve done a bad job of that in the past). Not just interpreting individual verses either, but interpretation the narrative as a whole. What is God up to through the entire scriptures and how does this fit? That is one of the main questions I always ask.

So back to the original question. Do I believe that through Jesus, that is the only way to God and eternal salvation?

The reason I find this complicated is because you are presuming we agree on your language at all for me to answer this.

For instance, when you say “through” I think we both think that our version of that word is biblical. When you say ‘through’, my guess is that comes with the whole idea that one must decide that they believe this reality to be true for them, and unless they do make this decision then there is no eternal salvation for them. And you would have good reason to believe this, there is plenty of scripture that uses language such as “through faith in” and “confess” and “believes.”

I on the other hand see that whole transaction as being completely independent from whether or not an individual chooses to believe it or not. I believe that it is through the death and resurrection that all men from all time are given access to the eternal party, not just those that believe in Jesus. I would take my cues from scripture by looking at the entire story as a whole, looking at how Paul explains redemption in colossians and romans. I do not make a distinction between those that are “saved” and those that are “unsaved” rather my distinction comes from terms like those that decide to work along side of the kingdom of God and those that choose not too. Wherever they land on that spectrum really to me doesn’t have anything to do with an eternal destiny.

So I feel like when I answer your question, I then get pigeonholed into you thinking that I mean what you are intending, when I don’t believe that at all. This is why I am hesitant. I’m also hesitant because if I gave you a yes or no answer, then it would end the conversation, and I for one enjoy them.

Ralph Jarvis

Ralph Jarvis
Through: used as a function word to indicate means, agency, or intermediacy; as a or by means of; by the agency of; because of…

Biblical Christianity is a belief and faith in salvation and eternal life THROUGH Jesus Christ.One doesn’t need to go through an entire interpretation of a verse each time it is used. We can used scripture verses that say what they mean within a given context and this shouldn’t be construed as offensively throwing verses around…

So, I did finally get an answer from you when you said ‘when I don’t believe that at all.’ And to say “I do not make a distinction between those that are “saved” and those that are “unsaved” simply means you are in total disagreement with the scriptures and with the Apostles who wrote many, many times about being ‘saved.’ I won’t take the time to throw any verses at you but you can look ’em up…
Thanks for the dialogue…

Nathan Colquhoun

Nathan Colquhoun
I don’t think I am in disagreement with the scriptures as much as I am in disagreement with your interpretation of them and you in disagreement with my interpretation of them. But yes, you did get an answer from me, so if you are cool with the dialogue ending there, then I bid you peace.

Ralph Jarvis

Ralph Jarvis
Peace

24 Comments

  • Interesting exchange. I understand Nate your perspective in light of some of our culture’s existential position on reality and philosophy. However, I would agree that Ralph makes interpretations that have a much broader support throughout Scripture as opposed to the few isolated seeming contradictions that you pointed out.

    Perhaps the real test … See Morefor your theology Nathan is to ask your self by which way would a person not gain eternal salvation? If there isn’t such a way, then why did Jesus come and die? Jesus did say that he came to separate the sheep from the goats. He spoke frequently about this separation.

    So if giving to the poor guarantees you to heaven, what if you do than yet don’t have faith? Or what if you do good deeds, but are unloving to your family? The fundamental flaw with all your ideas about salvation is that they are primarily based upon the human. Yes, you say that Jesus died so that redemption was available to all. But at point does this availability end? Scripture does not teach us that there is universal redemption, otherwise there would not be so much reference to our need to accept the gift of salvation by the repentance of sins. When Peter spoke in Acts 2, he laid out clearly what the people needed to do. Recognizing our fallenness and asking for the mercy and grace of God through the shed blood of Jesus is the point. Only then salvation is granted.

    If your point is to question whether that’s fair, considering many people haven’t heard of Jesus or are simply “blinded” to him from environmental factors would not line up with the unfairness that Lucifer and his followers were met with, nor the unfairness of Jesus dying for our sins.

    Truth is, what truly makes this complex is the sovereignty of God. We simply do not know to what extent God in fact asserts His sovereignty. But we do know this, He desires creation that loves and worships Him. If Judas is going to be redeemed anyways, why does Scripture say that it was better that he not even been born?

    Just some thoughts.

    • Dean, I think you are making a few assumptions about my post that I’m not understanding. You say that my fundamental flaw is that my ideas of salvation are based on the human. I don’t see that at all. In fact, I see that as the opposite. If Christ died for all, then it wouldn’t matter what the human did or did not do in order to earn salvation… See More. All humanity is at the complete mercy of God and what Jesus did. So how is it based on the human? What do you mean?

      Not once (nor will I ever say) that giving to the poor guarentees you to heaven. I was simply showing verses where salvation seems to be granted on all sorts of different standards, and we seem to have picked one. I was trying to show how the situation is complicated and to think we have the answers to this is to be ignorant of a large portion of scripture.

      How does someone not gain eternal salvation? By not accepting forgiveness and not accepting God’s universal acceptance (ie. the older son in the prodigal son). When all is said and done, I think the only ones who will be left out will be those that refuse to be loved or those who refuse to make room for others to be loved and accepted. I don’t think there is a great biblical case that once you die you are out of chances either.

      The issue I am having, is the gospels are full of parables and stories that seem to grant and proclaim salvation over the most unlikely candidates, it seems to be the ones that are the losers and sinners and can just admit that is who they are. All I feel like I am saying is that forgiveness and grace is offered universally to anyone at anytime (before or after death) and those that will suffer hell will most likely be the ones who can’t stand the thought of this universal grace being extended to those that they don’t think should have it.

  • I don’t know of anywhere in scripture that someone was offered forgiveness and grace after death, so can you point that one out. And also if there is more than one way to be saved how do you explain John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” Pretty straight forward there. Not much room for interpretation. Jesus lays it out plainly. He doesn’t say I am a way Jesus says He is The Way.

    And i’m not sure why you made that so complicated obviously your answer is no. Which is unfortunate.

  • Hi Lee, welcome to this convo. A few things.

    1. The idea of being offered grace after death is a bit more than just finding someone who that was offered too in the scriptures and looking at someone like Paul who is wrestling with salvation theology. So it would come from somewhere like 1 Cor 15 when it says that the last enemy to be destroyed is… See More death. Some can take this to mean a second death (the one you and I will experience once day) and that even that can still be swallowed up by victory, and of course if you need actual examples, then everyone who lived before Christ arrived physically on earth would be a good example, some of them would be able to somehow gain eternal salvation without ever knowing who Christ was, so I think it’s fair to say that death doesn’t really have the last word or end all chances.

    2. Again, no one is arguing that Jesus isn’t the way. I don’t think I’ve said anywhere that this isn’t the case. I believe through Jesus that is the only way to God. However, I believe there is many ways to Jesus.

    3. I’m not sure what your second comment means at all. What is unfortunate? And, if you read the conversation, I said yes to many things. This is why I think the question is flawed if somehow you can still reduce all my side of the conversation to a simple “no”

  • If you don’t believe faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven then your answer is no. And that is unfortunate because if you are basing your assurance of heaven on anything else you will sorely be dissapointed in eternity in hell. It is also unfortunate because as a pastor of a church you leading other people astray if this is what you … See Moreteach from the pulpit. It’s simple it doesn’t matter if you feed the poor, this does not get you to heaven. Jesus is telling us how to live our lives pleasing to Him. If we truly love Jesus then we will want to base our lives on His example. He isn’t saying if you don’t believe in me but you feed the poor you’ll go to heaven. He’s saying if you truly love me you will do these things because you want to live your life honouring me.

    Oh and then old testament thing. They lived under the Mosaic Law and that is what they had to do to be saved. And Jesus Christ dying on the cross is what saved them because He is eternal and His death covers from the beginning of the world to the end. Not just from when he died.

  • I don’t know why all this stuff keeps coming up about serving the poor, did I somewhere say that feeding the poor gets you to heaven? I do think matthew 25 makes it a bit confusing for anyone who does not serve and feed the poor, according to matthew 25, it seems pretty clear to me that if you do not feed the poor, you will go away to eternal … See Morepunishment, i don’t know how you would read that any other way?

    However, that is besides the point.

    I believe faith in Jesus Christ is part of what happens to you as you begin to experience the redemption of the world through Christ. I also believe that those who are unable (ie babies, mentally ill) to have faith in anything, will also be redeemed. When you make absolute statements such as “the only way to heaven” you are cutting out a large portion of humanity where that is an impossible task. So I just refrain from making absolute statements like you do.

    And to your second point, this is exactly what I am trying to say. If Jesus Christ’s death is eternal (ie no beginning no end) why are you trying to end his saving work after we die, why can’t it keep working even after we die?

  • If a person die’s what are they gonna do to obtain salvation they are dead. They are in hell if they didn’t believe in Jesus or they are in heaven. One or the other and there is no pergatory or any getting out of hell once you are there or no one would choose to stay in hell.

    Your basic problem with believe Jesus is the only way to heaven is that you think it is unfair. The fact that God has chosen to saves those that He saves is unfair. We all deserve to live in eternal judgement cause none of us can on his own ever live a life that would allow us to stand in the presence of God. He has chosen to saves those that He… See More has chosen and that is why I am ever thankful that He chose me. If you think that is unfair consider the alternative of him deciding not to provide a way for our salvation. If it was fair by human standards it wouldn’t be called grace.

  • I don’t know where you are getting most of your statements from and hoping you can back them up somehow?

    1. who says there is no getting out of hell once you are there? this of course is what i’m arguing against, I’m saying there will always be a way out, eternally be a way out.

    2. so hell is full of people who do not want to be there? i would … See Moredisagree with this, I would say that hell is full of people who have chosen to be there and will choose to stay there. even c.s. lewis says that hell is a place that is locked from the inside.

    3. I thought we don’t “obtain” salvation by things we do, from my reading of the scriptures, salvation is a free gift that jesus did all the world to accomplish not us, so I don’t know what us being dead has anything to do with it. especially if you think we will still have consciousness and desire (ie. not wanting to be in hell) after death. if this is the case, why could someone not desire salvation through jesus once they are in hell?

    4. I never said it’s unfair, nor do I think that.

    5. I believe God has chosen to save everyone and all things.

    You are just running in circles now with your statements. Here is your logic.

    1. You MUST have faith in jesus christ while you are physically alive in this life to have eternal salvation. no exceptions.

    2. Once you die, time is up, you still have feelings and desires, you will be unhappy in eternal torment in hell, but if you have faith in jesus Christ at this point in your consciousness, it doesn’t matter, you are locked in hell forever.

    3. God only chooses to save some people and chooses not to save other people which leads to eventually negating the need for you to have faith in God at all, it’s already predetermined who gets in and who doesn’t and who has faith and who doesn’t.

    If you’re gonna take the Calvinistic side of the argument, you gotta be consistent with it. If God chooses who he wants to save, then he also chooses who he wants to damn. If this is the case, any conversation based on having faith or not is in the end irrelevant because the deciding factor isn’t really if you had faith or not, it is if God chose you or not.

    I think Lee your theology here is pretty limited. You are failing to account for all sorts of things in the parables, in Revelation, in many of Paul’s letters and are narrowing in on a few chapters in Romans for all of your theology regarding salvation. I think it would help if you tried to look at the full picture of what God is up to through all of scripture instead of allowing the narrow view of salvation that you were raised with be the only thing that you comprehend. Your comments back to me are full of cliches and what you think is common sense but you aren’t really looking at the full narrative of the bible to inform your statements. You have also failed to actually respond to any of my arguments (not feeding the poor will send you to eternal punishment, what to do with babies and mentally ill in your theology etc). So I’m having a hard time knowing exactly what points of yours to respond to because they seem to be very undirected statements with not a whole lot to back them up.

  • Ralphs initial question is, in fact two different questions.

    1. So is Jesus the only way to heaven?

    2.Is repentance and faith in Jesus Christ the ONLY way to heaven?

    In question 1, Jesus is the agent of the activity. In question 2, repentance and faith is the agent. It might seem like a subtle difference but this is an important grammatical distinction. This is exactly the kind of trick that lawyers/jounralists use to make it look like a question is straightforward when in-fact it is not. I’m not suggesting that Ralph was being deliberatley tricksy here though.

    It seems to me that answerin Yes, to question 1 but a qualified “it depends” to question two is a bibilical response. Afterall there is still a debate going on regarding whether or not “repentance and faith” is a “work”.

  • I’m not saying someone might not desire salvation or wish to be in heaven rather than hell once they are in hell. I’m saying that once you are in hell you can’t get out. Luke 16:19-31 makes this very clear in the story of The rich man and Lazarus

    19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried byi the angels to Abraham’s side. [6] The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and l saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers [7]—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'”

    I think that verse 26 is pretty clear. A great chasm has been fixed by God between heaven and hell so that the fate of the dead is irreversible. Therefore once you are dead you can no longer be saved if you died without salvation.

    • Lee, you’d be hard pressed to find any theologian that would make room for reading that parable as an accurate description of the afterlife and what it is supposed to be like. Scholars are both sides (left and right) would most likely agree that this is a parable about present realities of the rich and poor and is using imagery of the time to make… See More a point, not describe actual places. Probably the only authors you can find that would say this is describing reality would be the same ones that are writing the Left Behind series and/or think Revelation is a map for the future, in other words those that refuse to read the Bible in its context but rather make it fit their previously held beliefs. We did this parable last year, so here is a few quotes from some of the authors we read that might help you understand where I am coming from. I tried to quote a few authors that you would respect and few that i would respect more, conservative and liberal, both sides agree this is not a parable that can be used to try to prove what you were just trying to do.

      “The parable is not, as often supposed, a description of the afterlife, warning people to be sure of their ultimate destination…The reality is uncomfortably different…it’s about what was happening to the rich and poor in the present time. Jesus’ welcome of the poor and outcast was a sign that the real return from exile, the new age, the ‘resurrection’, is coming into being; and if the new age is dawning, those who want to belong to it will have to repent.”
      (NT Wright)

      “Therefore we conclude that the bosom of Abraham signifies nothing else than the Word of God,…. the hell here mentioned cannot be the true hell that will begin on the day of judgment. For the corpse of the rich man is without doubt not in hell, but buried in the earth; it must however be a place where the soul can be and has no peace, and it cannot be corporal. Therefore it seems to me, this hell is the conscience, which is without faith and without the Word of God, in which the soul is buried and held until the day of judgment, when they are cast down body and soul into the true and real hell.” (Martin Luther)

      In hti parable the rich man fails by not making contact. Just as one must lose one’s life to gain it so also one must love one’s neighbor as oneself. But these paradoxes receive concrete embodiment in the parable, for it attacks the blindness that does not see the gate’s purpose. The gae is not just an entrance to the house but the passageway to the other. The story is a metaphor for the unnoticed menace that Jesus’ announcement of the kingdom of God places on ordinary life. In any given interpersonal or social relationship there is a gate that discloses the ultimate depths of human existence. Those who miss that gate may, like the rich man, find themselves crying in fain for a drop of cooling water. (Eugene Peterson)

      One must resist the idea the the parable presupposes that Lazarus has faith or any moral advantage. That is just no the concern of the parable, and we must remember that parables ae vignettes, not systems, and certainly not systematic theologies, not about afterlife (snodgrass)

  • Love this post.

  • No comment on my post Nathan? Or are you trying to come up with some way that this fits your ideas?

  • If we’re going to take the Lazarus parable as a “description” of the afterlife then we would have to accept that Hell is within viewing distance [~10km]of heaven (the Rich man “sees” Abraham).

  • Nathan,
    I’m sorry that for some reason you in fact have become a theological punching bug for many other people. I don’t necessarily agree with you on a few things, and this may or may not be one of them. Can’t people just hold certain beliefs close to their heart knowing other people will not agree, and leave it at that? Why argue, and argue, ans argue, and aruge, and argue, and argue?
    For shit sakes…come on people.

    PS. I’ve always wanted to swear in a blog.
    Thanks for giving me the chance. Although, now my salvation may be in peril.
    Shitty.
    Oops…I did it again.

  • Hey Barry – I agree with you on that for sure. However Nathan posted this asking… “So if you have some time, read over this conversation, correct me and show me how I could have handled this better and/or where my theology needs working.”

    So that is what people are doing and Nathan is defending his position. He’s asking for arguments in my opinion.

    When you publicly post your views you need to expect that people will react with different views…and so the argument begins.

  • Agreed with Greg. I enjoy the dialogue, probably quite a bit more than Barry would :) I get what I expect for the style of writing and how I think.

  • I love what Bazan says:
    why are some hell bent upon there being an answer
    while some are quite content to answer i don’t know

    I for one am not a ‘theologian’ and perhaps tend to side with Barry on this one, but I get the idea about making the discussion public and therefore accepting the wrath that follows.
    I do appreciate the discussion and the open dialogue that follows these interesting questions. But I too, like Barry am getting tired of the personal attacks that follow the honest questioning.
    I guess I’m just thankful that there are “church people” out there like Nathan who are critical thinkers and not just blindly following something they think they know a lot about.

  • Oh believe me, I know Nathan asks for it, he lives for it.
    But I swear some people make or break their own personal faith based on trying to get Nathan to change his.
    Ridiculous.

  • That is also true Barry, I am fascinated at how many people seem to make it their life mission to inform everyone of my bad theology or try to argue me with their own bad theology.

  • Nathan, Are you really that fascinated by it?
    Did you not used to do the same when you were younger and growing up in the Church.
    Didn’t everybody try to inform all the outsiders what was wrong with their Theology?
    I mean how many ‘Catholics are going to hell’ conversations did you have growing up?

    Your now different and refreshing theology is the Catholicism. Make sense?

  • I am a bit fascinated still yes, it’s not just because someone disagrees with me. I truly do enjoy the dialogue. It’s a bit different when some folk make attempts to remove me from my place of leadership, even though they are not connected with or have anything to do with what I am doing.

    So I start to hear of small groups of people (who oddly enough very rarely speak to me) who dislike what I am doing and work to get me out, or some of them from the fringes come onto my site or facebook or twitter and argue me, yet they aren’t really interested in dialoguing, it’s more just telling me i’m wrong in so many words and then getting out, as you can tell with where a few of the conversations on this thread alone have gone or ended up.

    I held some pretty wild beliefs in my day, no doubt about it, I don’t know if I hated the Catholics as much as I thought homosexuals were going to hell. But I get what your saying. Maybe it shouldn’t surprise me, but I hope that I at least had conversations with people and journeyed with them when we disagreed instead of pulled these tricks.

  • Look at B-Milk w/ the potty mouth!

    Neer and I are on our way over w/ some soap…

    (wink)

  • And now at the 11th hour you bring up homosexuality. you are quite the sadist, aren’t you!

Join the Discussion