Posted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 5:59 am
ImagoDei wrote:I appreciate your reponses but didn't Jesus want his followers to preach something?
Yes. But He also strenuously warned them against preaching it without those foundations.
My point (which I didn't have time to go into when I replied earlier) was that if you're worried about whether doctrinally you're misleading those you witness to--and I think this is something anyone should worry about, for sake of truth and out of charity to those being spoken to--then find some simple foundations (I recommend those ) and proceed thereby, including self-critically. If you find you're contradicting yourself later, stop, back up and revise your approach.
No, the good news isn't "love God, love your neighbor, love your enemy." The good news is that God loves even His enemies and is willing to go the farthest distance to save His own enemies from sin. But those who love God and who love their neighbor, including their enemy, are cooperating with God in the gospel. Those who don't, aren't; in fact, those who don't are sinning.
ID wrote:What if that resulted in them making a series of bad choices that lead to their damnation?
If Calvinism is true, they were going to do that anyway regardless. Ultimately tragic, but not your fault.
If Arminianism is true, then the question (relevant to my previous answer) becomes: how can loving God and loving their neighbor even their enemy, result in a series of bad choices that lead to their hopeless condemnation by God?
ID wrote:What if they used that as a way to avoid Jesus always justifying it by telling themselves that they'll be alright in the end?
Depends on what is being meant by "avoiding Jesus". The super-Christians in Ephesus, who were doing a whole boatload of admirable things, were avoiding Jesus (and were in imminent danger of being zorched by Him!) How were they avoiding Him? By not putting love first.
On the other hand, Jesus Himself taught that it was possible to speak even to blasphemy against the Son of Man (Himself) while not blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. Whatever this may mean, it doesn't count as avoiding Jesus in a damnable sense.
Even Calvs and Arms have to deal with peculiar counter-intuitive data of this sort. But no Christian (trinitarian or otherwise; Kath, Calv or Arm either one) should be teaching that people can do just whatever the hell they want, expecting to escape. The gospel of grace is paramount, but the gospel also (as you pointed out) stresses personal responsibility on our part.
I suppose another question, though is this: do you trust God to do what is both loving and just in regard to even the worst sinners, fulfilling love and justice to them? Or not? If not, the first problem is a lack of trust in God--and not among the people you're witnessing to.
ID wrote:I guess what I am getting at is that [the exhortation to love God, and to love our neighbor] can be used to justify a lot of evil in a person's life especially if they conclude that they don't have to honor their parents, treat women with respect or care at all about their neighbor.
Not very easily, though. Which is another reason why I answered as I did. A universalism which does not include the exhortation to love God and our neighbor, is criminally deficient. If someone wants to try getting around loving their neighbor now by putting it off until God makes things hot for them, that's their choice (not yours). But be clear, including to them: there is no way to "justify" evil. An evil person may be led to be good, and to reconcile with God and man for the evil that person has done. But what we do is real forever, under God. An evil deed is an evil deed, and without repentance forgiveness cannot be completed for it.
The person you're thinking of has an attitude that he does not have to repent of evil he does. He is shirking; avoiding responsibility. Whatever else may be the sin against the Holy Spirit, this is certainly the sin against the Holy Spirit: and it shall not be forgiven, neither in this age nor in the age to come. Hell for this man is as permanent as his refusal to repent and cooperate with God in doing what is right, especially in regard to his neighbor.
If your womanizer refuses to change his ways, that threat of God's wrath is totally open-ended. And it isn't only a threat. It's a promise.
(A promise I take very seriously myself, as a man who is an adulterer and a murderer and worse than a murderer in my heart.)