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Poking the Pied Propositions

17 May 2010

Continuing from May 12th’s article, “Uh .. did Bp. Breidenthal just say, what I think he just said ??” ..

Bp. Breidenthal’s conclusions from his article (May 2010 Interchange, p2) are:

I take from this the following propositions:
(1) Salvation belongs to God, because we are entirely in God’s hands
(2) We cannot do mission without resting in Jesus, who has everyone’s salvation well in hand
(3) God wills to save: where this is resisted, it is God who breaks through and rescues

– Bp. Breidenthal

My responses to his first conclusion:

(1) Salvation belongs to God, because we are entirely in God’s hands

Actually, I agree with the wording in the separate phrases, though not the logic  (Gee, I thought salvation belongs to God, because He is its author). 

My responses to his second conclusion:

(2) We cannot do mission without resting in Jesus, who has everyone’s salvation well in hand

Here, the implication seems to be that if we are worried about our salvation, then we cannot do mission.  I have to wonder – would Mother Theresa’s ministry count as ‘mission,’ in the bishop’s lexicon?  Would her ministry ‘count’, now that we know that she was plagued by doubts?

Moreover, it is apparent that to the bishop, ‘everyone’, really means Everyone, which we see in his next proposition:

(3) God wills to save: where this is resisted, it is God who breaks through and rescues

And I would add the words, “His People,” after “to save,” and “rescues.”  So, it would sound like this: 

God wills to save His People:  Where this is resisted, it is God Who breaks thought and rescues His People.” 

I admit that there are profound disagreements among traditional Christians over the finer aspects of this point, but all of them acknowledge that salvation is in some sense, limited.  Unfortunately, the witness of God’s Word is clear that some people die and .. do not go to be with the Lord.  And if they die and do not go to be with the Lord, that means they are in that terrible place of torment, known as Hell. 

For example, in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, the Rich Man dies and enters a place of torment.  He looks across a great chasm at Lazarus, resting in the bosom of Abraham, and requests a tiny bit of relief from his torments.  His request is politely, but firmly, denied. 

Christ’s teachings are full of such warnings

And those teachings are expounded upon by His apostles. 

By the way … There is however, hope.  Real hope

So, salvation is limited somehow –  Either in its efficacy, or in its extent.  But, it cannot be unlimited in both efficacy and extent. 

One infamous Episcopal bishop has called this assertion, “putting God in a box,” implying that it is humans who put Him there.  It would be nice if that were true.  Actually, it is a function of God’s character that people who have not been redeemed will go to Hell after they die. 

So yes, this means that God is “boxed up,” though it is by His own character and not wishful human assertions.  And we know this, because He has told us. 

What?  God can’t break through the Heavens to explain Himself to His scribes??! Why .. such an assertion .. puts God in a box!  😉

What a difference it makes when a shepherd is faithful to what God tells us about damnation, yet compassionate towards the living who mourn for loved ones who are unlikely to be with the Lord, as this faithful pastor demonstrates: 

…one of the most difficult things I ever had to do as a pastor was conduct funeral services for those who had never professed faith in Christ or who never lived out their once-professed faith. And I had to do it on many occasions –- probably many more times than I even realized.

It happens like this: a grieving widow would call and say with a broken heart and with tears in her voice, “Pastor, my husband had a heart attack last night and we took him to the hospital, but he was dead on arrival. I can’t believe it has happened, but we need your help. I know he was not a church member, but we would like for you to preach his funeral.”

What does a pastor say to an understandably emotional woman who has not even yet come to grips with the dimensions of her loss? You do the only reasonable and respectable thing you can do and respond in the affirmative.

A visit is typically made to the home of the deceased to console the bereaved and get some information in order to write the funeral message. In the process of gathering information it is obvious that the woman’s departed husband never professed faith in Christ.

In certain cases a pastor may be called upon to conduct the funeral for an individual who may have joined a church years earlier, but never gave any indication of being born again or that Christ was vitally important to him.

In either case some pastors are torn between integrity and compassion and in an effort to add comfort to the family they become universalists -– giving the family some hope that their loved one may have been granted eternal life by a gracious and benevolent God. Universalism is the belief that there will be a universal reconciliation between humanity and the divine and that God is too good to send anyone to hell.

We have all heard eulogies ushering celebrities, politicians, athletes and entertainers into heaven who in some cases were as far from that celestial city as a downtown tomcat is from Home Life magazine…

(..more )

Gentle Reader, have you asked Jesus to cover your sins with His blood?  Have you asked Him to be your Lord? 

And if you have done so, do you follow Him ?

– Elder

PS – My response to the bishop’s first question will be done in another follow-up article, after which I’ll probably return to his Easter “sermon.”

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