Bad theology on a christian life?

Discussion in 'Theology and Doctrine' started by CRfromQld, Jan 14, 2023.

  1. CRfromQld

    CRfromQld Moderator Staff Member

    Posts:
    258
    Likes Received:
    119
    Country:
    Australia
    Religion:
    Anglican
    This morning in the intro to the sermon our priest spoke about a funeral service he had conducted the day before. About the deceased he said,

    [He] had nothing to do with the church for the rest of his life, other than when he got married …

    [He] had a servant heart. Someone who was always reliable, who honoured his word, who loved his family, who was committed to his friends, … always involved in the community, rugby league, netball, fishing, He had his own business, a tradesman, put a whole generation of young menthrough his business as apprentices. ...

    Everything this man said, did, and lived was an example of Christ. For 77 years he had nothing to do with the church though.​

    (this is fairly accurate because it was taken from a recording)

    This certainly sounds like a good man by worldly standards. The priest did not directly say that this man was saved but from the way he spoke he was suggesting that. Is this good theology? Is it enough that we be good people without believing in Christ Jesus as our saviour?
     
  2. arik88

    arik88 Member

    Posts:
    79
    Likes Received:
    3
    Country:
    mexico
    Religion:
    adventist
  3. AnglicanAgnostic

    AnglicanAgnostic Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    586
    Likes Received:
    275
    Country:
    New Zealand
    Religion:
    none
    We don't have enough info to make a decision. It's the person's faith that is the deciding factor. We may assume he probably didn't have faith as he didn't go to church, but it ain't necessarily so that he had no faith and hadn't accepted Jesus as his savour.
    Likewise would it be good theology if the priest had said "this man was a thief, rapist, and child molester, but had recently repented of his sins and accepted Jesus as his savour and I'm sure he will be saved"? I think that is good theology.
    Well I think it is, as I think it describes myself, but then my concerns are with this world not the next.
     
    arik88 likes this.
  4. arik88

    arik88 Member

    Posts:
    79
    Likes Received:
    3
    Country:
    mexico
    Religion:
    adventist
    Yes more information please.
     
  5. CRfromQld

    CRfromQld Moderator Staff Member

    Posts:
    258
    Likes Received:
    119
    Country:
    Australia
    Religion:
    Anglican
    I don't think I have excluded any relevant information.
    While the priest mention his fishing, involvement in sports clubs (one was netball so I assume that was for a wife or daughter), having a business and training apprentices, the only mention of anything Christian was one attendance at church in 77 years for his own wedding. There was no mention of any religious belief, let alone Christian belief.

    Yet the priest seemed to be speaking approvingly of this person. I guess the lesson is that fishing is just as good as church.
     
  6. ZachT

    ZachT Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    498
    Likes Received:
    472
    Country:
    Australia
    Religion:
    Anglican
    One can have faith without the Church (although it is possibly the hardest road to take on an already challenging journey), but one cannot be saved without Christ. "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me".

    Now obviously Christ can do whatever He likes. So possibly this man is saved by justifications outside our understanding, who knows. But as a standard rule to teach a congregation in a sermon, if he wasn't a private Christian, and he didn't have any sort of relationship with the Saviour, then it seems a bit dicey to assert performing good works without any faith in Jesus is "good enough".

    I couldn't comment on if the sermon was bad theology without seeing the sermon. Maybe your priest was trying to make some other instructional point?
     
  7. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    3,654
    Likes Received:
    1,843
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Christian attending ACNA
    Well, Jesus did attend synagogue; this man never went to church. Jesus learned scripture as a youngster until He knew it inside and out, and He spoke upon it with great frequency; did the deceased person do that? So not everything this man did met the example of Christ.

    Of course, I would expect the priest to speak charitably and to overlook the fellow's faults in the funeral sermon. Perhaps he was just recounting what he'd said the day before? Or perhaps the deceased's relatives were present in that service, prompting him to once again speak charitably of the man? :dunno:
     
    Invictus likes this.
  8. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,329
    Likes Received:
    1,229
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Episcopalian
    I don’t know how things are done in Australia, but in the U.S. it’s considered bad form to speak ill of the departed at their own funeral. It sounds like the priest was just doing the best he could under the circumstances.

    It also strikes me as rather un-Anglican to speculate as to whether the departed person was “saved” or not. That kind of language is more characteristic of revivalism than the Anglicanism of the Prayer Book.
     
    Botolph likes this.
  9. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,811
    Likes Received:
    1,286
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    We are not 'saved' by the regularity of our church 'attendance'. We are saved by Christ's atonement upon a cross when God was in Him, reconciling the whole world to himself. If fishing and loving your neighbour as one does oneself, is what your life is all about, and leaving the concern over whether you will go to heaven or not ENTIRELY in the hands of Jesus Christ, then I guess one should have nothing whatever to worry about. It's been arranged for us by Jesus. Actually, far from having nothing to do with church, this man had been IN the church all his life. It's just that he only appeared inside the building extremely rarely. :laugh:

    He was presumably, baptised in infancy, the child of believing parent(s), therefore Holy to God and under the New Covenant, redeemed and adopted by God. He apparently married the woman he loved, and made vows, which he kept, before God and a congregation of believers. He departed this world 'presumably' after living according to the ethical standards taught to us by Jesus Christ, (which he may have learned in Sunday school), in all his dealings with the world.

    I can see no good reason to doubt his greeting by Christ would be with the words, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant".

    What is it that you think may be lacking in his conduct, which would cause God to send him to Hell?
    .
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2023
  10. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,081
    Likes Received:
    2,333
    Country:
    Australia
    Religion:
    Anglican
    My view is firstly at the funeral we are given the opportunity to:
    1. Look back at the person's life, good and ill, for what it is
    2. Look forward to the road ahead (for the person who has died, and for those left on a journey of grief)
    3. Look up to God, the source of life, hope and love.
    In this respect, we would expect a level of honesty, so there is little point in saying all sorts of things that are not true. I know I have been to the odd funeral where I have thought, who is this person, it certainly does not sound like the person I knew! maybe I am at the wrong funeral?

    Ultimately, for each of us, our salvation is dependent on the atoning work of Christ. Each of us walks according to the light we apprehend, and we are called to be ambassadors for Christ, not ambassadors for the Church, and we are most certainly not called to be God's bouncers!

    And who knows, maybe in treating the situation well, someone in the congregation grasped a little more light for their own journey. My wife went to a funeral the other day (not Anglican thankfully, but Baptist) and there was no bible reading, no psalm, and no Lord's Prayer. Indeed the words God, Jesus, and Christ were not uttered. I don't expect a funeral to be an evangelical revival crusade, but I do see it as an opportunity to reflect on the bridge between this life and the next.

    A friend of mine, now departed the life, declared his favourite prayer to be "God I love you, but I can't stand your friends", which as a parish priest he sometimes used to conclude Parish Council meetings that had not gone his way!

    with he fireworks spelling out Rest In Peace
    take me simply when I go to Forest Lawn
     
  11. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    3,654
    Likes Received:
    1,843
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Christian attending ACNA
    Infant baptism into the visible church is not sufficient to make a person, who has since grown to adulthood, a member of the invisible church.

    The above thoughts represent a very broad and liberal theological view... one which Christ specifically disabused on numerous occasions.

    John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

    How is one "born of the Spirit"?

    John 3:15,18 ...whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life... He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    Why is believing (i.e., an abiding, trusting faith) in Jesus so crucial that both Christ and the Pauline Epistles place such emphasis upon it? It is this: if we ask not, we receive not. We ask (and receive) the gift of God's saving grace through our belief (trust, faith) in the atoning work of Christ, so that God applies it to us and re-makes our spirit in His image.

    Luke 11:13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

    James 4:2(b) ...ye have not, because ye ask not.

    Here is a simple example. Suppose you would like to have a new wristwatch. I, as your dear friend, take a brand-new watch out of my pocket and hold it out before you; I am offering it to you. Yet you have not asked me to give you a watch, nor do you believe that I am truly offering it to you without fee or favor owed, so you do not accept the watch from me. (Maybe you think I'm tricking you, or perhaps you feel you must earn any good thing you receive; or whatever.) Do you have the new wristwatch? No! Yet there I stand in front of you, dangling the watch and waiting for you to take it. In this example, the wristwatch represents the atonement, the redemptive sacrifice of Christ; if a person does not believe that God's redemption is offered to him or does not receive it by faith, that individual does not receive the new birth!

    John 3:16-18 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever ("is baptized into the church? No, whoever) believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be (not "automatically is," but might be) saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    Is baptism the crucial aspect of becoming one with Christ, or is believing the crucial element? The former is expected of us. The former marks our entry into the 'church visible.' But the latter is what makes us into a "new creation in Christ" and marks our entry into the 'church invisible.'

    John 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

    Rom 10:9-13 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon (i.e., ask for and receive God's gift by faith) the name of the Lord shall be saved.

    Eph 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through (baptism? No, through) faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

    1Peter 1:5,8-9 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time...Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your (baptism? No, the end of your) faith, even the salvation of your souls.

    True, but our beliefs will be reflected in and seen by what we do. I will not deny, however, that it is possible for a true believer in Christ to refrain from church attendance, but it is unusual. And, of course, we cannot know what the deceased's spiritual status really was. I'm saying that we cannot assume He was right with God on the basis of his infant baptism (any more than we can assume based on church attendance, for (oddly enough) they be many who attend regularly out of habit or emotional need but who have not truly trusted in Christ's atonement.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2023
  12. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,329
    Likes Received:
    1,229
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Episcopalian
    From that standpoint, the same could be said for credo-baptism.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2023
    Rexlion likes this.
  13. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,811
    Likes Received:
    1,286
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    Quite so! Baptism is equally capable of being taken in hand unadvisadly, lightly and wantonly, to satisfy man' wants and appetites. I think such false applicants for baptism were termed 'Rice Christians' by Chinese Missionaries during a famine in China, when food was available at mission stations. Nevertheless many such 'Christians' remained faithful followers of Christ after the famine was over. You can't fool God. A vow is a vow, for all that. Ultimately it is God, and only God, who mysteriously decides who and how ANYONE enters the 'invisible church'.
    .
     
    Rexlion likes this.
  14. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    3,654
    Likes Received:
    1,843
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Christian attending ACNA
    Indeed! That is a valid way (though perhaps not the only way) of looking at it.

    Jesus made some important points in that bit you referenced.

    John 6:44-47 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

    Many who hear (those on whose inner being "door" the Lord knocks) do not learn! Those who do learn from God, believe.

    The passage seems to imply that the Father was not (at that time) drawing all people to Christ. But it is worth noting that, not long afterward, Jesus said,
    And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself (John 12:32). :)
     
  15. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,811
    Likes Received:
    1,286
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    Careful Rexlion, you are drifting towards being as near universalist as I am. :laugh:

    Nevertheless it is God The Father that decides who he wants in the Church of Jesus Christ. Jesus is just grateful to rejoice in the Father's choice and deploy them as his ambassadors here on earth.
    .
     
  16. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,081
    Likes Received:
    2,333
    Country:
    Australia
    Religion:
    Anglican
    I take it when you suggest my thought represent a broad and liberal view, what you mean is that they don't entertain a hard-line legalistic or pharisaic view. I can accept that.

    Perhaps I could draw your attention to the well-known passage from Luke 10.25-37.

    The Parable of the Good Samaritan
    Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’

    But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.” Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’​

    There are a number of things to bear in mind about this passage. There was significant animosity between Samaritans and Jews, yet here we find Jesus bases his authority on Torah, which were books received and respected in both communities. The Lawyer's response is clearly anchored in passages such as Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:9-18.

    We easily talk of Jews and Gentiles, however, the Samaritans were neither Jews nor Gentiles. The Lawyer is looking for the black and white, the binomial solution, and Jesus refuses.

    The telling bit comes with the question "Who is my neighbour?" The purpose of the question is to establish who one must love, and who one need not love. The purpose of the answer is to tell us that moral responsibility goes beyond ritual cleanliness. Our neighbour is defined by our actions and really extends to all we encounter. The point is not "who is my neighbour?" but rather "how do I be a neighbour?".

    For the Lawyer, the Samaritan was the one least likely to have been considered a neighbour.

    In a similar vein, we read in John 10:14-16:

    I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.​

    Ephesians 2:8-9

    For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.​

    I think too many of us miss the saving action by grace through faith and end up talking about being saved by faith. Luther would have wanted to append an alone to this verse, however, that is not what the scripture says. I wish more of the time I could be a gracious Christian.
     
    Tiffy and Invictus like this.
  17. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    3,654
    Likes Received:
    1,843
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Christian attending ACNA
    Actually, I meant to suggest that the view you expressed may not be consistent with the church's historical view, but is more consistent with the modernism which takes liberties with sound theology. You had written: "Ultimately, for each of us, our salvation is dependent on the atoning work of Christ. Each of us walks according to the light we apprehend, and we are called to be ambassadors for Christ, not ambassadors for the Church, and we are most certainly not called to be God's bouncers!" But since the atoning work of Christ is a fait accompli which He undertook for the potential benefit of every one who will believe in Him, "ultimately" the salvation of each individual hinges upon what that individual believes (a 'faith response'). The atonement cannot be the event upon which your salvation or my salvation now (currently) turns, because if it did, then everyone would be saved. That (universalism) is not the historical teaching of the church.

    Well, there's always a ditch on either side of the road. What I tend to be reacting to is a concept (not necessarily expressed by you, but heard in Anglican circles) that both the grace and faith are supplied by God, with the potential (but inaccurate) implication that there is nothing anyone can do: what will be, by the power and design of God will be. This teaching gives rise to a type of fatalism, and a sense that sharing the good news about Jesus Christ is unnecessary and somewhat pointless.

    Yet if we love our neighbor, we should want to do whatever we can to ensure that he has heard the truth so that he might be saved. We know from Romans 10 that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But one will not call on Him if one has not heard that He offers the gift of grace through Christ's redemption. If we truly love our neighbor, we should desire his salvation even more strongly than we desire that he have food, shelter, good health, and a comfortable life. Showing love by helping him and meeting his temporal needs should be a pathway for us to talk with him about Christ and thus improve his likelihood of 'calling on the Lord.'

    One may express concern that faith is emphasized too much and grace not enough, but what if faith is not emphasized enough? What if the word "faith" is relegated to the act of belonging to a church rather than the crucial element which Jesus Christ demands as a prerequisite for new life? If I may be so bold, how dare we downplay that which Jesus personally emphasized?

    The fact that western Anglicans as a group do so little personal evangelism is a disgrace. I think we need more emphasis on faith, not less.

    Those were my thoughts when I replied to your earlier post; I may have been overreacting to it, so I wanted to take this opportunity to explain why.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2023
  18. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    3,654
    Likes Received:
    1,843
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Christian attending ACNA
    Not one bit! God calls every one, but few respond. Eternal life is by R.S.V.P. "For many are called, but few are chosen.”
     
  19. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,811
    Likes Received:
    1,286
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    Now you look as if you are tiptoeing through T.U.L.I.P.s :laugh:
    .
     
    Botolph likes this.
  20. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,329
    Likes Received:
    1,229
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Episcopalian
    That makes more sense. I should have read the first sentence of the original post more carefully. Thank you for reiterating it. I agree, he could have not mentioned it at all.