Archive for February, 2008

Inclusivism (5): The Gentiles in Romans 2:12-16

February 28, 2008

For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.”

Apparently the Gentiles have the law written on their hearts, can follow the law by nature (would you call such a nature totally depraved?), and their conflicting thoughts may EXCUSE them on the day when God judges the hearts of men by Jesus Christ. Hmmmm…


Mary as Intercessor in Scripture

February 28, 2008

There are two places where Mary acts as intercessor in Scripture:

John 2:1-6
And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there. And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece…

Acts 1:12-14
Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James [the son] of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas [the brother] of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

In the Gospel of John, there are numerous events that are anticipatory of the new creation. This is clearly one such case: note the changing of water into wine, the fact that this is a marriage feast (Christ and the Church), and the manifestation of Jesus’ glory. Mary’s intercession comes in close association with the world to come.

In Acts, the scene is in an upper room, paralleling the Eucharist in Luke. This scene is a manifestation of the unity, authority, and glory of the Church, right after Jesus’ departure at a time of crucial decision and determination. Mary participates in the prayer that begins the first and greatest evangelistic outreach.

We already know that those in heaven are interceding for us (Rev. 5:8, 8:3-4). We already know that they are aware of what is happening on earth (Rev.6:9-11). The Saints have powers that are far beyond our present earthly abilities (Mat 17:1-3). It is okay to pray to (=ask of) angels that they would praise God with us (Psalms 103:20-21). If Mary’s intercession is so intimately connected with the new creation and the inbreaking of the kingdom of God (both of which we participate in) why not pray to her?

Inclusivism (4): The Example of Cornelius

February 2, 2008

Up until now, my posts on inclusivism have been aimed at establishing a principle that lies behind inclusivist theology, and countering an argument for exclusivism. Now we come to a positive argument for inclusivism. Any theology of the unevangelized must deal with the example of Cornelius. This example is especially important, because of what Peter says he has learned when he meets with Cornelius:

Acts 10:34-35
“Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.”

What is implicit in Peter’s words is a recognition of Cornelius as a paradigmn case. Whatever is true about those outside of the Church, and specifically the unevangelized, is embodied by the example of Cornelius. If Cornelius was saved only when he was a Christian, then we are to understand Peter’s words as implying that God accepts those who fear God and work righteousness in their act of becoming Christians via evangelization. If, on the other hand, Cornelius was saved prior to evangelization, then we are to understand Peter’s words as implying that God accepts those who fear God and work righteousness prior to their actually becoming Christians. Clearly this is an important issue.

I will argue that Cornelius was saved prior to evangelization. This argument borrows heavily from John Sanders’ “No Other Name”. (more…)