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Monday, December 22, 2008

Rick Warren: Don't bother trying to improve the world

From the Saddleback Church's What We Believe webpage: (emp add)
ABOUT SALVATION

Salvation is a gift from God to man. Man can never make up for his sin by self-improvement or good works – only by trusting in Jesus Christ as God’s offer of forgiveness can man be saved from sin’s penalty. Eternal life begins the moment one receives Jesus Christ into his life by faith.
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ABOUT ETERNAL SECURITY

Because God gives man eternal life through Jesus Christ, the believer is secure in salvation for eternity. Salvation is maintained by the grace and power of God, not by the self-effort of the Christian.
Warren is in the tradition of Luther and other Protestants who believe in salvation through faith, not salvation through works. That doctrine is derived from St. Paul's writings (mostly Romans). Speaking of St. Paul, it's strange that he's taken seriously because none of his doctrine has been "validated" by God or Jesus. In the Bible most prophets have exchanges with angels or God, and that's where doctrine begins. But none of that happens with Paul except for a cryptic self-reported exchange with Jesus. Yet his epistles are seized upon by Protestants for doctrinal guidance.



7 comments

Matthew 25:31-46 would tend to conflict with our Dear Rev. Warren.

By Anonymous Daniel, at 12/22/2008 1:11 PM  

If faith is the only important thing, then why actively oppose gay marriage or any of the other religious right hot buttons?

As Stevie Wonder said, when you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer...

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/23/2008 5:44 AM  

What a load of crap. Of course Christians should try to improve the world, and most do, but don't expect to get into heaven doing it.

Christians, and especially Catholics pour an enormous amount of resources into their charities. So much that it is often lost that the purpose of the Catholic Church is NOT to save or improve lives on earth, but to save souls.

Charity and good deeds are a means of humbling oneself, so as to make oneself more receptive to God. They are not what gets you into heaven.

One can do a lifetime of charity and good deeds, die with a single mortal sin on your conscience, and go to hell. Similarly, one can never do a single good deed or charitable act, die after a full confession, and go to heaven.

It's all about living in a state of faith and dying in a state of grace. Living a good life on earth makes it more likely that when the unexpected moment of death comes, one will be in the proper state to enter heaven.

This is why the torturers of the inquisition genuinely believed that they were doing God's work. What good would it do to allow a nonbeliever to live a comfortable life on earth, when they could be coercively brought into heaven. They'll be infinitely thankful in the afterlife, so goes the reasoning.

This is an alien concept to non-believers, and a lack of understanding of this basic concept is what leads to uncomprehending editorials such as your own.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/23/2008 7:05 AM  

One can do a lifetime of charity and good deeds, die with a single mortal sin on your conscience, and go to hell.

No, he'll be worm food. Just like everyone else.

Similarly, one can never do a single good deed or charitable act, die after a full confession, and go to heaven.

That's probably what Hitler did. Yeah. He started a war that killed 50 million people, poisoned his dog, prayed for the Lord's forgiveness, and pulled the trigger. Now he's at the right hand of God.

See, this is what is wrong with Christianity. Most believers use this doctrine as a "Get-Out-Of-Hell-Free" card. Cheat on your taxes, confess, cheat on your spouse, confess, sin, confess, sin, confess, die...next thing you know, you've playing volleyball with Jesus in his dad's backyard.

It's all about living in a state of faith and dying in a state of grace. Living a good life on earth makes it more likely that when the unexpected moment of death comes, one will be in the proper state to enter heaven.

This is why the torturers of the inquisition genuinely believed that they were doing God's work. What good would it do to allow a nonbeliever to live a comfortable life on earth, when they could be coercively brought into heaven. They'll be infinitely thankful in the afterlife, so goes the reasoning.


Sounds like you just might subscribe to this philosophy. If so, you'll be disappointed to know that I live a comfortable life as a non-believer. Perhaps you'd like to torture me into heaven? A feather applied to the soles of my feet will make me confess to anything.

This is an alien concept to non-believers, and a lack of understanding of this basic concept is what leads to uncomprehending editorials such as your own.

The alien concept for me is your belief that an invisible magic man poofed the universe into existence in less than a week about 10,000 years ago. And that if we believe in him, he'll whisk us off to Magical Cloud Cuckoo Land when we die. That's what I don't understand — how any rational human being could believe in Bronze Age mythology.

But that's just me. Your mileage obviously varies.

By Anonymous Screamin' Demon, at 12/23/2008 12:09 PM  

One does not do good deeds to get into Heaven or to avoid Hell. One does good deeds simply because they are good deeds.

No, good deeds done cynically to earn brownie points from God won't get you into Heaven much like an insincere apology won't make you deserving of forgiveness.

For those who so quickly dismiss the value of good deeds and turn Christianity into an utterly blind and empty faith, I hope you recognize the abomination you perpetuate in time to truly ask for forgiveness when the time comes.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/23/2008 5:47 PM  

Screamin' Demon wrote, Most believers use this doctrine as a "Get-Out-Of-Hell-Free" card.

Yup.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/23/2008 6:01 PM  

That view of Luther/protestantism is a bit truncated. The idea is that you can't buy your way into heaven by good deeds (or paying the church for indulgence*) but that the decision rests with God alone**. Luther assumed that being in the state of grace would naturally result in good deeds etc.
Famously Luther said that he would plant an apple tree today, even if he knew that the world would end to-morrow. Although he would be disgusted by the idea of gay marriage (he would be simply unable to grasp the concept actually), he would come down like a ton of bricks on the likes of Warren for their perverted theology.
Disclosure: I am a Lutheran agnostic (if there should be a God, Luther likely had some good ideas about him).
HB

*indulgence (in theory) does not annul the sins but only the penance. Without inner penitence it is without value (reality looked different of course).
**who is assumed to be both reasonable and merciful.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/24/2008 1:06 AM  

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