Thursday, February 19, 2015

As Long As It's Not Evangelical!

Remember how I stated in my latest posting that The Banner of Love periodical frequently publishes articles that promote the unbiblical anti-means pattern of salvation?  Well, a few weeks later another issue arrived in the mail proving what I then stated.  In the current January 2015 issue Elder Josh Winslett wrote an article entitled “Saved through faith”.  Since I was an enemy to the gospel for about 10 years I did not even need to read it to know the general arguments that would be made from Ephesians 2:8, cause I used to do the exact same thing.  The author’s primary task would be to interpret faith to be something other than evangelical faith.  From there he would pursue one of three courses.  He would either argue that men are saved by grace thru 1) seed faith or 2) the faith God had in Christ or 3) the faith Christ had in God.  One of the three, but certainly not the one which context proves involves the gospel (1:13)!  He takes the seed faith position, the majority one, throughout his article.

First, he denies the other views:

"Some have thought Ephesians 2:8 to describe either Christ's faithfulness as Savior or God's trust in His Son, or vice versa.  Could Paul be referring to Christ's legal work on the cross in verses 4-6, and possibly even verses 8-9? Possibly, but not likely." (“Saved through faith”, Banner of Love Jan. 2015)

And then he mentions his own view:

“…this is not an action performed by man, but instead, it is something possessed by the individual.”

However, a fairly new Hardshell website offers this alternate interpretation of the faith mentioned in the classic regeneration passage.

“The faith under consideration then, cannot be yours.  It is not your faith that saves you, and the next verse tells us that – ‘and that not of yourselves’.(Verse 9)

As we’ve shown it can’t be our faith, we conclude this is the faith God had in His Son, Jesus, to fulfill the agreement made before the world was formed.  Christ was faithful to be that sacrifice and pay that price.” ("Saved by Grace, but Whose Faith?")

So we have two different interpretations of one of the Hardshells' favorite passages, Ephesians 2:8, both offered from those of the Conditionalist faction.  I have in the past already called attention to this evolving view of Ephesians 2:8 as well as the general problems they have with this portion of God's Word:

The Faith of Ephesians 2:8
Consistent of Alternating Faith in Ephesians 1-2?
The Latest Invention on Ephesians 2:8

Winslett argues for seed faith throughout his particular article, while the pbgrace webpage feels it is the faith God had in His Son.  This demonstrates the confusion that prevails in the order on this subject as both views are being offered as an explanation to this passage (and others as well) which connect faith with eternal salvation.  Some believe the former; some the latter.  I would have to admit that Winslett gives what I would call the traditional Hardshell take on the passage ever since they became anti-means Baptists. Sinners are saved by grace through a faith which lies below the level of consciousness.  This necessary faith is said to be a gift of God, in contrast with the other unnecessary faith (i.e. evangelical) which is obtained by the works of the regenerate man.  The view held by pbgrace is definitely in the minority, but may be gaining in popularity.

Since those within the order who would assert that Ephesians 2:8 is to be understood as referencing evangelical faith are currently being ostracized, one might wonder why the opposing viewpoints above are not likewise causing a stir.  Why are those who believe that some faith which emanates from God is necessary for salvation not blackballing those who cling to seed faith, or vice versa?  If a big fuss is being made over those who contend for evangelical faith, then why not the same for those who hold to other viewpoints? The answer to this question is very enlightening, and reveals the true reason why such unorthodox explanations are being given to scripture.  You see, even though Elder Winslett’s traditional Hardshell take on the passage and the stance taken by are opposed to each other, they both give an anti-gospel, anti-means interpretation. Therein they agree, and that’s all that really matters!  As long as an explanation of faith is offered which does not make it evangelical, giving some credence to the gospel means pattern of salvation, then all is well.  I noticed this confusion during my later years I spent among them. I would occasionally hear elders talk about how there was a kind of faith necessary to be saved, and that this was a gift from God.  But at other times I would hear them teach from the same exact passage that the faith God had in His Son was under consideration!  And yet this contradiction was and is being tolerated because both viewpoints, though different, nevertheless agree that evangelical faith is NOT under consideration!

The true reason (a point it did not take long for me to see) behind such takes on the faith passages of the Bible are not because of an honest conviction that seed faith, God’s faith, or Christ’s faith are actually taught therein, but from a spirit which has a previous agenda in defying means theology, and will do anything to run from it.  There is absolutely no way that the average Bible reader would approach Ephesians 2:8 and give faith a description which robs it of all the qualities which make it that very thing, reducing it to some sort of dormant metaphysical deposit which we just happen to call faith.  And there is no way that an average Bible reader would understand the expression “and that not of ourselves” as speaking of someone else’s faith besides our own.  Rather, he would see Ephesians 2:8 as teaching that faith is part of being born again but we do nothing to get it.  “Not of ourselves” means it’s a gift of God.

But as I write, this confusion and contradiction exists.

Seed faith?

God’s faith in Christ?

Christ’s faith in God?

Doesn’t matter which one is offered.  Opposing viewpoints are tolerated as long as they remain in agreement on the point that really matters.

As long as it’s not evangelical!

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