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Five Solas

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About Five Solas

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  1. And yet cheap grace is not *the* natural consequence--as Keller points out, cheap grace and legalism are two sides of the same coin--and each is equally destructive in its own way. I submit the root cause on both sides is pride (or maybe just infidelity). In both instances, the individual seeks to place him or herself on God's throne. In the case of cheap grace, it's by relegating God to irrelevance in how one lives his/her life ("God forgives; that's his job"). In the case of legalism, the individual supplants God with his/her own volition and initiative to obey and follow various rules, thereby compelling God to respond affirmatively. Joseph Smith took this to extreme with his image of a bound god (D&C 82:10). Smith's god extended ropes for humans to pull and thereby dispense blessings. And this gave Smith's god purpose (if not pleasure). Both remain common, clarkgoble. So let me flip the coin and send the question back to you: Why do you think legalism remains so common? --Erik ____________________________________ Linger by the flyposter, for a fight It's the same story every night I've been hurt and we've been had You leave home, and you don't go back --Pet Shop Boys "King's Cross"
  2. A lottery implies chance, Bernard, so the analogy fails from the start. But I think you see your difficulty in this ("LDS have a shadow of Calvinism") and I think it would be worth exploring similarity (as well as difference). When you point to your scriptures to argue LDS don't need to work as hard or sacrifice as much as JW's do in London, Russia, etc. because numbers will be "few"--perhaps your deepest similarity is with what sometimes gets labeled "extreme Calvinism." Regarding your last sentence, I'll note that I was once Ward Clerk in the University Second Ward, Seattle North Stake. And I'm well aware LDS (myself then included) worked to find missing members. The UW affiliated YSA wards were basically a record dumping ground for anyone < age 31, single, and believed to be anywhere in the greater Seattle area. It was an endless task and it's undoubtedly more difficult today because now there are only two remaining YSA wards (University 2nd and University 3rd). Back then there were four YSA wards to shoulder the load (U 1 - 4). Closure and consolidation makes the work harder and means even more will slip through the cracks. So am I "ascribing dishonesty?" Well, if a 110 year life expectancy assumption feels "honest" to you, Bernard, we'll probably just end up debating the definition of that particular word. But is the assumption self-serving in the sense that not finding everyone inflates the membership number that the LDS Church reports? You betcha! --Erik
  3. All good, clarkgoble, appreciate the post. I am hoping rongo (who once aimed the charge at me specifically), Vance (who seemingly takes it as the 14th Article of Faith - Evangelical Christians believe & promote cheap grace), and a few others along the way might see the thread and either defend their positions or withdraw them. :0) --Erik
  4. From time-to-time, LDS on the forum unleash the charge of “cheap grace” directed at Christians of the Evangelical persuasion. My alias (“Five Solas”) seems to be a lightning rod for this kind of thing. No worries, the misunderstanding doesn’t personally offend. But I would take an opportunity to clear it up. Yesterday my oldest (age 8 ) was performing in Northwest Girlchoir in a large Lutheran Church in Seattle’s Phinney Ridge neighborhood. We arrived early and while she was getting ready, I found myself with a few extra minutes in their library. I’ve read some of Bonhoeffer’s work as well as a biography of his life, but wasn’t familiar with Eric Metaxas’s BONHOEFFER: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy which was prominently displayed on a shelf. So I picked it up and scanned the first pages and discovered Tim Keller’s introduction that I’m about to share here. Fit for purpose, as you’ll soon see. *** I’m delighted that my friend Eric Metaxas has penned this volume on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The English-speaking public needs to know far more than it does about his thought as well as his life. When I became a Christian in college, Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship was one of the first books I read, followed not long afterwards by Life Together. I still think the second book is perhaps the finest single volume I have ever read on the character of Christian community, but it was the first book that set me on a life-long journey to understand the meaning of grace. I now realize how impossible it is to understand Bonhoeffer’s Nachfolge without becoming acquainted with the shocking capitulation of the German church to Hitler in the 1930s. How could the “church of Luther,” that great teacher of the gospel, have come to this? The answer was that the gospel, summed up by Bonhoeffer as costly grace, had been lost. On the one hand, the church had become marked by formalism. Formalism meant going to church, hearing that God just loves and forgives everyone, so it didn’t really matter much how you lived. Bonhoeffer’s name for this was cheap grace. On the other hand, you had legalism, or salvation by law and good works. Legalism meant God loves you because you have pulled yourself together and lived a good, disciplined life. Both of these impulses made it possible for Hitler to come to power. Formalists may have seen things in Germany that bothered them, but they did not see any need to sacrifice their safety to stand up to them. Legalists were more likely to have the Pharisaical attitudes toward other nations and races that approved of Hitler’s policies. Germany had lost hold of the brilliant balance of the gospel that Luther so persistently expounded: “we are saved by faith alone, but not by faith which is alone.” That is, we are saved by grace, not by anything we do, but if we have truly understood and believed the gospel, it will change what we do and how we live. Much of the German church understood ‘grace’ as abstract acceptance — “God forgives; that’s his job.” But the grace comes to us by costly sacrifice. And if God was willing to go to the cross and endure such pain and absorb such a cost in order to save us, then we must live sacrificially as we serve others. So anyone who truly understands how God’s grace comes to us will have a changed life. That’s the gospel, not salvation by law, or by cheap grace, but by costly grace. Costly grace changes you from the inside out. Neither law nor cheap grace can do that. This lapse couldn’t happen to us, today, surely? Certainly it could. We still have a lot of legalism and moralism in our churches. In reaction to that, many Christians want to talk only about God’s love and acceptance. Many of them don’t like talking about Jesus’ death on the cross to take divine wrath and justice. Some even call this “divine child abuse.” All this might run the risk of falling into the belief in “cheap grace” — a non-costly love from a non-holy God who just loves and accepts us. That will never change anyone’s life. So it looks like we still need to listen to Bonhoeffer and others who go deep in discussing the nature of the gospel. - See more at: http://ericmetaxas.com/writing/essays/tim-kellers-foreword-bonhoeffer-pastor-martyr-prophet-spy/#sthash.BhuAGNC9.dpuf *** I’d be interested if any LDS would be willing to offer a critique of Keller’s introduction and/or of Bonhoeffer’s life and work. Yes, I realize LDS have their own hero in the German story of Nazi resistance (albeit a controversial one, since leadership excommunicated him for his opposition to the Third Reich) Helmuth Hubener. And LDS back then were served by a president & prophet (Heber J. Grant) who wasn’t persuaded America should have gotten involved in WWII and pretty much hated everything President Franklin D. Roosevelt thought was worth pursuing. Wrong side of history, Grant was. Repeatedly. And all the many LDS who sustained him. If there's a more glaring example in the 20th century history of the LDS Church--I'm not aware of it. But I digress... Going forward I’m going to link back to this thread each & every time someone here types, “cheap grace.” So if you still think the shoe fits & you want to go there--give it your best shot right here, right now. ;0) --Erik ________________________________ Now, if you find yourself falling apart Well I am sure I could steer The great salt lake --Band of Horses "The Great Salt Lake"
  5. LDS are typically critical of adherents of Reformed theology (a.k.a., Calvinism). LDS take the view that if God is truly sovereign over every detail, then it robs any motivation to do good work--since God is going to get what He wants regardless. LDS apologist Louis Midgley once called Calvinism "demonic" on this very board. But listen to your own argument (and several other LDS on the thread have said more or less the same as you). You're telling us LDS don't need to be concerned about their numbers, that they don't need to work as hard as the JW's do in Russia & elsewhere--because the numbers are already predetermined in the LDS canon, and we've been told they will be "few." You, my friend, are serving determinism. And ironically, much more than any Calvinist ever would. --Erik ____________________________________________________________ Ah, you loved me as a loser, but now you're worried that I just might win You know the way to stop me, but you don't have the discipline How many nights I prayed for this, to let my work begin First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin --Leonard Cohen (1934 - 2016)
  6. Got back home last Sunday after 8 days in London, England, celebrating my 10-year wedding anniversary with my wife. Our three kiddos stayed at home with her parents—which was awfully generous of them. (Other guys may complain about their in-laws, but not I.) It was a great trip, perfect walking weather, peak tourist season not yet started. We stayed at The Grosvenor adjacent to Victoria Station, which meant we had pretty near the whole city within ~ 30 minutes via the Underground (and Buckingham Palace within a six minute walk). And I’ll share one small observation with the board for any discussion: Aberrant theology notwithstanding, the Jehovah’s Witnesses work pretty dang hard. A number of times we saw them working the street. And unlike Seattle where they will occasionally occupy a corner & smile gently at passers-by—here they seemed to be anxiously engaged with the vast diversity of humanity that occupies greater London. Yes, we saw a lot of old churches and even a new one that could have been an Acts 29 plant. But in all our time, we never once saw any LDS missionaries. Recently there was a thread about religious persecution in contemporary Russia. And this has hit the JW’s hard—because they’ve worked vigorously to establish themselves after the fall of the Soviet Union and have built quite a presence (~100K active worshipers in Russia). But on that same thread, we couldn’t even figure out how many LDS stakes there are today in Russia (somewhere between zero and three). Some other stats were tossed about along with an LDS “Locator” app which, among other things, pointed the user to what could have been a boarded-up McDonald's. After nearly three decades since the fall, LDS here don’t know or seem to care (but a few certainly enjoyed discussing/debating political aspects of Russia). It’s a stunning contrast to all the fevered speculation when I was growing up (70’s – 80’s) about the missionary/membership opportunity for the LDS Church if Communism were to fall. I realize it’s all anecdotal, and with a life-expectancy assumption of 110 for lost members, we can expect the LDS Church to continue to claim modest membership growth into the foreseeable future (loosing track of people makes *much* better numbers than knowing who actually dies or quits). The question I have is this: Have we entered a period of retreat and retrenchment for the LDS Church where the focus will shift more to Utah and adjacent states (plus perhaps a few parts of the “third world” where record keeping and independent verification of membership will conveniently not be possible). Even at the national level, we appear to see an example of retrenchment with BYU’s divorce from USAF ROTC. And on the front page we have a thread about whether “slowing growth” makes any difference to the LDS Church and its adherents. And again, the LDS here don’t seem terribly interested or concerned. What do you think? Has Mormonism peaked? Any will LDS really care if it has? --Erik ______________________________________________ You left Your tired family grieving And you think they're sad because you're leaving But did you see Jealousy in the eyes Of the ones who had to stay behind? --The Smiths "London"
  7. Interesting. At least one of those looks like a boarded up McDonald's. Maybe the creator of that Locator app had a sense of humor and/or knows whatever the story is in Russia--it will be kinda tough for anyone to verify. "Hey, a few of us expats met there once for McMuffins to talk about the restored gospel and reminisce about our time in Provo. That makes it a meeting house, let's add it to the Locator app!" ;0) But seriously, three stakes in three decades?!? (If there really are three in 2017--which is proving to be a much harder question than anyone might have guessed.) After all the speculation and hype 30+ years ago--there's got to be at least a little LDS envy of JW accomplishments, present difficulties notwithstanding. Do any LDS feel let down, or do you trust that your leaders did their best with what they had? --Erik
  8. I asked how many LDS stakes in Russia. Your stats didn't include, stemelbow. Do you know the answer? --Erik
  9. I'm old enough to remember all the LDS speculation in the 70's and 80's about what would happen if/when the Soviet Union gave up communism. (This was when LDS kids were encouraged to think about where they might go on their missions--the oldest of my sisters was excited about Oman, for reasons I no longer recall. She ended up going to Wisconsin.) What a growth opportunity it was going to be for the LDS Church! And present difficulties notwithstanding, what a growth opportunity it actually was for the JW's. Does anyone else remember all that heady, faith-affirming speculation 30+ years ago? And how many LDS stakes are there in Russia today, at risk of persecution? Is there even one? And do any LDS feel let down, perhaps even a little envious of what the JW's accomplished? --Erik ________________________________________________ I'm living in films for the sake of Russia A kino runner for the DDR And the fifty-two daughters of the revolution Turn the gold to chrome --Sisters of Mercy "Dominion/Mother Russia" 1987 (Fun fact: the Sisters included a former Mormon on lead guitar, Wayne Hussey)
  10. Not I. But if I were still LDS, I might chalk up the diversity you witness in your S. California metropolis to different heavenly mothers (is lower-case here appropriate?--no idea). Polygamy is an eternal principle we've been told (whether we actually listened or cared--that's a different matter). So it stands to reason the LDS heavenly father has a few. And just like Brigham Young had his favorites, well, you get the picture. This comfortably explains why we have different races and why some seem to invariably draw the short-end of the proverbial stick. It's certainly more satisfying than that old canard about fence-sitters in the pre-mortal existence. Am I wrong? ;0) --Erik ___________________________________________ Promises me I'm as safe as houses As long as I remember who's wearing the trousers --Depeche Mode, 1987
  11. I have one more thought on motive, and I'll put it here (although perhaps it merits its own thread). For the Christian, his or her ultimate motive is for God to be praised. God's goal and purpose as revealed in the Bible is to receive praise for the glory of His name. If you doubt this, consider the first chapter in Ephesians as illustration-- v. 6 - to the praise of his glorious grace v. 12 - to the praise of his glory v. 14 - to the praise of his glory A word search on "glory" across Old and New Testaments shows this is a strong, recurring theme in Scripture. When a Christian serves someone in need, it creates an opportunity for the person being served to praise God for the service (if the person being served is already a Christian). And this is exactly what the Christian rendering the service should desire - God to be praised for His goodness, His mercy. If the person being served is not already a Christian, then the service should create an opportunity for the person being served to come to know who God is (Jesus, not Ganesha) again so that praise may be given to God. When a Christian fails to serve, he or she denies an opportunity for God to be praised. Same is true if he or she obfuscates the message (e.g., "higher cause"). That God is praiseworthy, that He ought to be praised and that He will be praised is a common truth among Christians. --Erik
  12. I feel I'm just repeating myself, but I'll give it one more go. Perhaps the cause of understanding will be served this time around. :0) The bold parts (in your quote above) are contradictory in the context of "interfaith" because there's no real unity to be had. The author of the "second greatest commandment" is Jesus. Matthew 22 is God-breathed Scripture. But non-Christians don't believe that. They have a different motive, a different notion of "higher cause." Even when they engage in the same activities--they are serving something else. And as Paul tells us (and previously you appeared to agree from our discussion of 1 Corinthians 13), motive is everything and wrong motive gains "nothing." The "fault" here is her ambiguous "higher cause" that makes no distinction between Jesus (the Living God) and, say, Ganesha (the Hindu elephant god). Her words imply it's not who you serve that matters--it's merely what you do. Make sense? --Erik
  13. No, bluebell. Paul says you can give all your possessions to the poor, and it profits nothing (1 Corinthians 13:3). You're laboring to turn the argument into helping-the-poor vs. bickering-about-theology. That's a disservice to the text, and I suspect to Jean Bingham as well. But I guess we'll agree to disagree. :0) --Erik
  14. 4 tenths of 1%--that would be an extraordinarily precise (and expensive!) poll. Afraid someone misplaced the decimal. Plus/minus 4 points is typical. There's actually a thread open at the moment on the results of a Gallup survey, and it's exactly that. I would identify as Christian, Protestant, non-denominational. And yes, I incline towards Reformed theology. :0) --Erik
  15. Well, I certainly don't agree with your application to this. Just a few verses earlier in the chapter we read the undoing of your argument-- And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. I think the 1611 KJV rendering "charity" is unhelpful in this case. I can see why you conclude the act of caring for the poor would be "higher" than faith. But that's not Paul's point in Chapter 13 when you consider all of it. Motive matters. --Erik