Comment on A big reason why so many people are leaving the church by Bill Sorensen.
“With regard to the Bible in particular, I think the odds that the Divine origin theory is in error are so small that Iâ€™d be willing to put my own life on the line that the Bible is in fact the true Word of God. That being said, I could still be wrong.”
I doubt in the end, Sean, that you or anyone else would be willing to put their life on the line for anything related to religion and God if there was even the slightest possibility that your foundation for faith was faulty or wrong.
I have already agreed and stated that our view of the what the bible teaches may be faulty and wrong. But that does not include its own affirmation of its own authority. If we have any reason to doubt this, then we have every reason to doubt everything else it affirms.
We start with the basic Protestant Christian assumption that the bible is infallible for its intended purpose to reveal the will of God in all His dealings with man and man’s accountability in the relationship.
This is non-negotiable and not subject to doubt or possible error.
As we study God’s will and His own self-revelation, we admit we may need to qualify and re-qualify the revelation based on the bible itself. But if and when doubt becomes a viable factor concerning the bible’s self proclaimed authority, we have just opened the door to skepticism, and unbelief simply because we can not “prove” the bible ultimately except by prophecy.
We should be grateful that in a Christian family, we have been affirmed and instructed concerning the full authority of scripture and its infallible self affirmation of its own authority.
The bible alone gives us a “first cause” that appeals to fallen man to define his origin, meaning of life, and future.
Every other religion makes man god. Such an affirmation is devastating to our self understanding and leads to ongoing frustration, confusion and finally, for many suicide.
No book compares to the bible for this reason as well as many others. And nature can not affirm that the God of the bible is the creator.
Nature can work as “the law that is a schoolmaster to lead us to scripture”.
The enigma of life is not found in nature itself. It finds its meaning in the bible. Thus, Solomon can say, “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.”
Solomon sought a final meaning in nature and finally admitted he could find none. He could have said, “Frustration, frustration, all is frustration outside the word of God.”
At any rate, Sean, I suppose you believe the bible is the word of God. If I or others would have any concern for your way of explaining what you embrace, it is because you at least seem to imply that the bible is not a sufficient revelation of truth and must be affirmed by nature. And the implication being, if nature is not in harmony with scripture, we must challenge and change our ideas of the bible and not visa versa.
Bill Sorensen Also Commented
“If the Church canâ€™t present apologetic arguments in support of the Bibleâ€™s credibility, explanations that naturally appeal to rational candid minds, it is only natural to expect honest intelligent people to look elsewhereâ€¦”
“If they believe not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe, though one rose from the dead.”
In telling this story, Jesus affirms the bible’s self revelation and authority and states by way of the parable, that no outside “evidence” will convince anyone if the bible does not persuade them by its own inherent arguments.
Prophecy foretells the future of the historical process. So, yes, evidence outside the bible testifies to its validity. Namely, the historical process.
But you must start with the bible and its self affirmation and then examine history to affirm the biblical revelations.
Could we first examine history and then turn to the bible to see if it has predicted the future? Yes. None the less, the bible spoke first, and history verified its declarations.
If we study nature for the sole purpose of affirming the scriptural accounts of creation and to see in what way they may be in harmony, all is well.
But since nature, in and of itself can not specifically “prove” that God created, we must accept the biblical statements and acknowledge that nature in and of itself can not be relied upon to prove origins.
It always goes back to the “first cause”, doesn’t it?
A big reason why so many people are leaving the church
Your article on why so many are leaving the church is directly related to how people understand the bible and its authority over the Christian community. More than a few have developed theories that undermine the bible and this includes some church authorities and professors.
We need to be sure we state our confession of faith in a clear and definitive way that eliminates confusion as far as possible. And how we understand the authority of the bible should have no loop holes that leave some doubts as to its position of authority.
Perhaps we “over explain” the obvious in an attempt to make clearer what needs no futher statement.
Or as it has been said, “Me thinks you protest too much.” Meaning, I doubt you really believe what you are saying yourself and are trying to convince yourself more than me.
Is that possible?
“This is what science is all about, making â€œeducated guessesâ€ based on empirical evidence, but never enough empirical evidence to remove all possibility of error. The same can be true of a rational faith in God and His Word, the Bibleâ€¦”
This is part of the present problem in dialogue, Sean.
I am aware that any human conclusion concerning what the bible teaches may be faulty. In fact, we can be quit certain that all of us have some faulty ideas about what the bible teaches. None the less, all true bible believers confess and acknowledge that the bible itself is an infallible revelation of God and His will. This is a Protestant confession of faith.
This theory can not be said about nature and science. Nature and science are a faulty revelation of God and not a final reliable source of information.
We can not study scientific revelation from nature with the assurance that there is a consistent and ongoing source of information that is not subject to error in the revelation.
We don’t make â€œeducated guessesâ€ as to what is true and what is not when we study the bible. Meaning what? You can study nature in its fallen condition and never come to a correct conclusion.
We can study the bible with the assurance that it is in and of itself a complete and perfect revelation of truth. If we find inconsistency in the bible, we must continue to study its messages until, by the Holy Spirit, we see the perfect flowing continuity of truth that God has designed for us to see.
This can not be said of nature.
When the reformers formulate the phrase “faith alone”, it was “the merits of Christ alone”, “justification and pardon by Christ alone” and finally “the bible alone as a sufficient and final authority to govern and enlighten the human family.”
And this confession about the bible was and is the foundation of reformation Protestantism. It is the single most important aspect of truth given to us by the reformation.
We affirm faith in the bible by its own “evidence”, namely, Prophecy. We start within the bible and look for evidence without, namely, the fulfillment of prophecy. We do not start with nature and then look to see if the bible confirms what we see nature affirm. This is a false order of finding truth.
Nature is too convoluted to be any authoritive source of final truth.
Recent Comments by Bill Sorensen
The Sabbath and the Covenants (Old vs. New)
” That’s what I’ve been saying (and what Morris Venden and MacCarty have been saying)”
Well, I did not do a complete search on all the MacCarty says or believes. But in the case of Venden, I did do such a study and Venden had a doctrine of “sanctification by faith alone” that was totally outside the bible teaching.
“Faith alone” by definition means we play no part in it. If so, it is not “faith alone”. But Venden’s view of sanctification was definitely “faith alone” and we play no part in it but believe. At any rate, there is more confusion than bible definition in his definition of sanctification, and I think this applies to MacCarty as well. Like I said, I read his book a couple years ago and it was circular with no real definition of what he meant.
But basically, he equated the old covenant with legalism which is bogus. We agree a misapplication of the old covenant is not the same thing as a clear understanding of the old covenant and its purpose. So let’s not take a misapplication of the old covenant, and then claim this is the old covenant.
As you have defended the Sabbath against a misapplication of the new covenant and not called it the new covenant we must do the same with the old covenant. Our conclusion should be that a misapplication of any truth does not equate to the truth that is being misapplied. The confusion continues on many levels in the SDA community today.
Your defense of creation against the liberal agenda is a classic illustration of how the liberal agenda misapplies the new covenant on every level from false teaching to simply denying the bible outright. And all this from a misapplication of the new covenant that creates a false “spirit ethic” that takes the place of the bible and the ten commandments.
I appreciate the dialogue. Some may see the point eventually and some never will. Since we don’t know who’s who in this context, we leave it up to God to sort out the various issues and determine who “gets it” and who don’t.
The Sabbath and the Covenants (Old vs. New)
“You honestly think that you can simply choose to do good through your own willpower.”
I never said any such thing or even suggested it. Did you even read what I wrote. If so, you decided to impute to me something I never said or suggested. Let’s at least try to be objective in our evaluation of what the other person said.
I said the Holy Spirit liberates the will and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can choose to believe, repent and obey. How then is this your false claim that I think “You honestly think that you can simply choose to do good through your own willpower.”
You rightly point out that without the Holy Spirit, we have no way to know God’s will, let alone do it. And yes, Jesus “puts enmity between sinful beings and the kingdom of Satan.”
But “putting the enmity by Christ” will save no one until and unless they choose to respond in the God ordained way He has stated in the bible. Each individual must choose to first accept the atonement, then repent, and then obey the law. Thus, the Holy Spirit empowers the will, but it is the sinner who must respond. And this is not “doing it on their own” as you seem to imply. Jesus said, “Without me, you can do nothing.” But as Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ which stengthenth me.”
Paul states what he can do by the power of God. And it is not God doing the believing, or repenting or obeying. It is Paul. EGW makes this very clear to refute the mystics who try to claim that Jesus or the Holy Spirit gets in them and does the willing and doing.
” While these youth were working out their own salvation, God was working in them to will and to do of his good pleasure. Here are revealed the conditions of success. To make God’s grace our own, we must act our part. The Lord does not propose to perform for us either the willing or the doing. His grace is given to work in us to will and to do, but never as a substitute for our effort. Our souls are to be aroused to co-operate. The Holy Spirit works in us, that we may work out our own salvation. This is the practical lesson the Holy Spirit is striving to teach us. “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” THE YOUTH’S INSTRUCTOR
August 20, 1903
Lessons From the Life of Daniel—9
This concerning Daniel and his friends.
She refutes the modern day mysticism that would destroy the will of man and interpret “Christ in you, the hope of glory” totally outside the biblical context.
But “Christ in you, the hope of glory” is the same thing reflected in the words of Paul, “For me to live is Christ.” Meaning, I love Jesus so much my whole life is dedicated to His glory and will.
Our “own works” that she refers to, are those people do outside a biblical relationship with Christ. It does not refer to the works of a true believer who conforms his life to emulate the life of Christ. Where does Skip MacCarty point out this difference?
Much, if not most of modern spirituality in Adventism is pure mysticism that convolutes the identity of Christ and the believer to the point the believer has no identity. It was highly stimulated by Morris Venden who tried to show that “faith alone” applies equally to sanctification as it does to justification. It was and is totally bogus. But it has infiltrated the church by him and others to the point that mysticism is rapidly becoming the major spirituality of the church.
You may mean well, Sean. But like so many others, you don’t take the time to carefully consider the implications of what you say nor explain it is a clear definitive way so that it fits the bible context. If the true bible position on sanctification is clearly presented, then it is obvious we “save ourselves” by the way we respond to the word of God. In which case, the law is salvational, but only in the biblical context. Simply put, we are “saved” by doing what God says and this includes faith in the atonement.
Many are so “hell bent” to avoid what they think is legalism, they wrest the scriptures to their own destruction and not only deceive themselves, but others who do not carefully consider the implications of the conclusion of their false idea and theory.
But to claim that those who reject your view think they can “do it on their own” is a false representation that prejudices others who don’t carefully follow the conversation. Having said all this, I am more than willing for anyone to explain and qualify and re-qualify as many times as necessary to make it very clear what they mean by what they say.
So I agree, sanctification is by faith, but not by “faith alone” in the same context that justification is by faith alone. Without a clear explanation, all we have is ongoing confusion on sin and salvation and the divine factor vs. the human factor in a full and complete view of what the bible teaches about the issues.
The Sabbath and the Covenants (Old vs. New)
“We “work out our own salvation” by simply opening to the door the Spirit of God. That’s our only “work” to do here. That’s the only “work” we can do. The rest is beyond human power.”
Your whole theory is pure mysticism as the rest of your explanation affirms. The purpose of sanctification on the part of God is to liberate the human will for self government. It is the believing sinner who chooses to have faith and repent, and obey the law of God.
Neither is it “automatic” but by careful evaluation of the will of God and the implications of the outcome if we chose not to accept the free offer. You undermine and in the end, destroy the human factor in salvation and the moral accountability of man.
So when we are confronted by the gospel, we must choose to believe, choose to repent and choose to obey. God will not do this for us. Neither will the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the “holy motive” as He inspires and empowers us to “save ourselves” by responding to the word of God exactly as it is stated in the bible.
Much of the SDA church has opted for some mystical non-biblical explanation of the plan of salvation that has no affinity to the true teaching of the bible.
So sanctification is not “just give yourself to Jesus and He will do the rest.”
Basically, you convolute the divine factor and human factor in such a way that you end up negating the human factor altogether.
I doubt anything I would share with you would challenge your thinking, since in the past you have rejected other clear biblical concepts on sin and salvation like the doctrine of original sin. At any rate, if you post my response, perhaps one of your readers will actually see the point and consider the implications of our dialogue.
The Sabbath and the Covenants (Old vs. New)
Yes, as EGW and the bible affirm, we are justified by obedience to the moral law. Not in a legal sense, but in a moral sense. And this is what the Investigative judgment is all about. The word “justification” in the bible has a more comprehensive meaning than people perceive today. Like the word “atonement” and “salvation” the word “justification” has been limited to a non-biblical meaning and application that foreign to the bible and the full meaning the bible gives to these words.
And yes, we save ourselves by the way we respond to the word of God. No, we don’t save ourselves by meriting heaven and earning the favor of God. “If you will enter into life, keep the commandments.” Jesus
This is too plain to be misunderstood except by those who convolute the bible to support their false doctrine. No one is justified by “faith alone” except the special context used by the Reformation to oppose Rome when Rome taught legal merit in the believer’s response to the conditions for salvation.
“Faith alone” in this context was “Christ alone” who stands in the presence of God in our behalf as the meritorious cause of salvation and eternal life. This is not sanctification nor is sanctification “by faith alone” as some faulty teachers try to present and defend. Sanctification is always by faith and works on the part of the believer as we “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.”
And justification by faith in the bible, is the believer’s faith in Christ, not Christ’s faith in the believer. This subject is so confused and warped by SDA scholars it has no affinity to bible teaching and doctrine. So it is the believer’s faith in Christ that justifies. This is the whole theme of Paul and the new testament emphasis and message.
The Sabbath and the Covenants (Old vs. New)
” “All that the Lord has said, we will do.” (Exodus 19:8).”
That’s right Sean. And the Lord said, “The people have well spoken there commitment.” But then added, “Oh that there was such an heart in them to do it.”
The issue was proper motivation based on a clear understanding of sin and all that this implies. God never chided them for their statement of faith but their lack of understanding the sinful human heart.
How is that any different than today in the new covenant era? How many are baptized making the same valid commitment and confession of faith only to find the difficulty of living out the Christian experience.
Neither will Jesus get into anybody and obey the law for them. The motivation will ratchet up as our understanding is increased and the love of God that motivates works in a more dynamic way with the increased knowledge.
But many assume the old covenant was a system of legalism and then contrast the new covenant as a true system of faith. This is bogus. True believers in the old covenant era trusted in Christ. These are the old covenant experience people and not Cain or anyone else in that era who either refused the offer God provided or convoluted it. So those who imply that the old covenant was in and of itself a system of legalism like MacCarty does, have a false idea of old and new covenant that is simply not biblical. And then they try to explain how in the new covenant God writes the law on our heart and not in stone.
God wrote His law on the heart of Abel, Noah, Abraham and every true believer in the old covenant era as Jesus “put enmity between Satan and man” by a revelation of the love of God in His willingness to make atonement for fallen man. The new covenant era simply means God will finish writing His law on the heart of every true believer and this is not some “new” covenant different than the old.
Only in the sense that the atonement promised in the past is now a reality in the present. And this ratchets up the motivation in harmony with the life of Jesus more fully revealed by way of the new covenant writers. It is false doctrine to present the idea that no one had the law “written on their heart” during the old covenant era. Did you ever read the words of David in the Psalms, “Create in me a new heart, and renew a right spirit within me.”?
This is not the new covenant in the old covenant era. There is no “new covenant believer” in the old covenant era. This is impossible. The new covenant is after the fact of the atonement and is based on the time element of the two covenants. The first covenant (old covenant) is based on a future event. The new covenant is based on a past event. This is the whole spirituality of Paul and repeated and affirmed in the book of Hebrews. What God had promised during the old covenant era, He has done.
There is certainly an affinity in both covenants as both are based on Jesus and His sacrifice. Everyone in heaven will have trusted in the atonement of the cross whether it was before Jesus made the atonement or after He made the atonement. Again, I say it is bogus to claim Cain represents an old covenant experience and Abel a new covenant experience. And it is equally false to claim anyone who is a legalist in the new covenant era is an old covenant experience. Namely this, the old covenant is not legalism and never was. Just because people corrupt the old covenant does not equate to claiming they were legalists by virtue of being in the old covenant era.
This is MacCarty’s error and he speaks for more than a few SDA scholars who are as confused as he is. God made no legal covenant with anyone with the exception of His Son. God’s covenant with all is based on the moral law and this is not legalism unless, like the Catholic church, you think you can merit heaven by keeping the moral law.
The moral law, like I said, is a family law and those who refuse to enter into this moral covenant to “obey and live” will never be in heaven. Children in a loving home don’t obey their parents to merit and earn the favor of their parents or earn a place in the family. None the less, they are in covenant relationship with their parents and if they rebel enough, can be disinherited, just like Adam and Eve who rebelled against the family law.
Adam and Eve in a state of sinlessness were not meriting the favor of God. Nor do the sinless angels merit the favor of God. Nor do the redeemed in heaven merit the favor of God. None the less, all are under obligation to obey the family law of God or forfeit eternal life like Adam and Eve in the garden. Love for God never releases anyone from the moral obligation to do God’s will and submit to His authority. This issue is so intense even in the SDA church that many now assume if you love God you have no obligation to obey and that you simply do God’s will because “you want to, not because you have to.” This is bogus and the lie of Satan that he advocated in heaven. We better get it straight and if not, “Spiritualism is at the door deluding the whole world.”