Hi Phil, this is an old thread/post, is too late to continue this discussion?
The topic is still open, Caneman. Let's hear from you.
Phil, I am not very tactful and this topic requires tact, so I will enter the thread hoping not to offend anyone. This subject seems to have come up quite frequently for me over the last 6 months for the first time ever... I run into several folks who do not believe that Jesus is Uncreated God but consider themselves Christians... these people are not Mormon, Jehovahs Witness, Christian Scientist, etc., just people who consider themselves believers and go to Christian churches... do you think people can receive forgiveness of sins by faith in Jesus, but at the same time not consider Him to be Uncreated God? Difficult and controversial question, I know... Personally, I think that to believe in Jesus is to believe in what the scripture says about Him, and if we choose not to do this we then create our own jesus who may not have the power to save... Some people create their own jesus intentionally, while others do this unintentionally... I think one thing I have learned lately is that intent is extremely important when we pursue spirituality... what are your thoughts?
Caneman, I wonder if some of the people you refer to aren't meaning to say that the incarnate Son of God did indeed have a created human soul and body?
It seems that in the history of Christianity, the topic of the Trinity has been approached in two ways: one, we might call the "economic Trinity," or God revealed in what is called the "economy of salvation;" the other is the "metaphysical Trinity," or what the Trinity tells us about God's nature. It seems that the New Testament is more concerned with the first approach while Christian philosophy and theology eventually became focused on the metaphysical Trinity.
The economic Trinity would go something like this:
a. it is God the Creator who made us and called the Jewish people to covenant with Him; God also promised to send a messiah.
b. it is God who saves us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus;
c. it is God who sanctifies us through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
God has been made present to us as Creator (whom Jesus called Father), Jesus (who called himself the Son), and Holy Spirit. They all manifest the attributes of God, and so they must actually BE God as well.
It doesn't seem that Paul takes things any further, but from the need to respond to certain heresies (especially Arianism), the Church eventually had to grapple with the question of the nature of these manifestations of God -- what they are telling us about WHO God is. The doctrine of Three Persons possessing one divine nature came from this kind of reflection.
As for intent, I think it matters enormously, but maybe not so much in terms of whether one has got the dogmatic concepts right or not. Ideally, dogmatic perspective helps to inspire and sustain "right-intent," but it seems the Holy Spirit can work just fine in people whose theology is a bit fuzzy. If one willingly promotes wrong teaching even after having been confronted about it, then, yes, we might wonder what the agenda is. Otherwise, I think we look more to the fruits of the Spirit in a person's life to get an idea of whether they're on the right path or not.
This is what the early church thought about, at least what Polycarp thought circa 130ad:
"For what does it profit, if any one commends me, but blasphemes my Lord, not owning Him to be God incarnate? He that does not confess this, has in fact altogether denied Him..."
Epistle to the Smyrnaeans, by Polycarp, Chapter 5
"Polycarp was a church leader (bishop) in Smyrna, Asia Minor."... later burned at the stake as a martyr!
It is interesting that early in the 2nd century the church had formalized this opinion!
Caneman, even the Gospel of John has Jesus saying that no one comes to the Father but through Him (Jn. 14: 6) and Matthew notes that if anyone denies the Son of Man, he will likewise be denied before the Father and angels (Mt. 10: 33). The early Church surely did believe that Jesus was "The Way, the Truth and the Life."
Note that Polycarp is speaking of "blaspheming" the Lord, which is different from a lack of professing his divinity. What's implied in blasphemy is not only rejecting this teaching, but denouncing it.
Also, one must look to the broader teaching of the Church on this and other topics related to salvation. The danger of "proof-texting" is that it fails to consider this wider, more nuanced context.
Here's a wonderful quote from St. John of Rusybroeck (1293-1381), in his work, The Book of Supreme Truth. It's marvelous in demonstrating how Trinitarian love is the basis for our eternal happiness, and our spirituality.
Let me see If I can remember a quote from
John of the cross. Goes something like this;
"The Power and the tendency of Love is great,
for it binds God Himself". God recognizes
God, and thus must grow and evolve God.
This we refer to as the Spiritual transformation. It is the Law Of Love.
The Spiritual Law of Attraction. God is
Love, and this Love always seeks a lover, and Union.
Those that have the capacity within their
souls for this Beaitfic Love, the Holy Spirit
prepares for this Holy Union. It is the Law
of Love. It is the Spiritual Marriage.
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