Tag Archives: salvation

Why Don’t Christians Stop Sinning Completely?

The Bible stresses both the importance of confessing ( James 5:16 ) and forsaking sin ( Ezekiel 18:31 ; Matthew 5:29 ; Luke 14:27 ; Romans 13:12 ; Ephesians 4:22 ). But just because Christians should confess and forsake their sins doesn’t mean that they are capable of achieving sinless perfection.

Certainly some sins are the outward and obvious kind that can be clearly confessed, forsaken, and avoided. No genuine Christian could commit an obvious, outward sin like adultery, murder, or theft without realizing it is wrong. In fact, it would be hard for a genuine Christian to commit such a clearly defined, obvious sin without a major struggle of conscience.

But not all of our sins are so outward and obvious or under our conscious control. There is another type of sin so deeply rooted in our depraved human nature that it seems to have its own life within us like a parasite or an alien being with a destructive craving to live independent of God.1 This kind of sin is present in all of us — not just in obvious sinners, like thieves, adulterers, and murderers. Regarding this kind of sin, the apostle John wrote:

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. . . . If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10 NKJV)

The apostle Paul described his struggle with this kind of sin in Romans 7:15-25:

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. (Romans 7:14-19 NKJV)

This kind of inner sin is often carried out unconsciously and in ignorance, but it eventually leads to death ( Romans 8:6,13 ) It appears in forms that are often subtle — like greed, pride, sloth, indifference to others, and lust. This inner sin is often so much a part of us that we recognize it only with difficulty, although others around us may see it clearly. Like an addictive poison, it has become so much a part of us — infecting every aspect of our personality and identity — that in this life it is impossible for us to be instantly freed from it. To be instantly purified of its influence would be more than we could bear.2

When we have faith in Christ we are instantly freed from the eternal penalty of our sin, but we can not be freed of the burden of inner sin itself except through a process — the process of sanctification by the power of the Holy Spirit ( 1 Corinthians 6:11 ; 2 Corinthians 3:18 ; 2 Thessalonians 2:13 ; 1 Peter 1:2 ) Sanctification creates a “new man” within us in the image of Christ, a new “nature” that is drawn to life and immortality instead of death and corruption. Unlike the instantaneous event of justification, the process of sanctification continues through our entire life on earth, reaching completion only in heaven ( 1 John 3:2,3 ).

See the ATQ article Are Christians Held Responsible for Unpremeditated and Unconscious Sins?

  1. This is implied by numerous passages in Scripture that describe the immense gap between sinful humanity and the Holy God. ( Exodus 33:20-23 ; Isaiah 6:5 ; John 1:18 ; 1 Timothy 6:16 ). Back To Article
  2. The biblical name for this instantaneous act of forgiveness is justification ( Romans 3:21-28 ; Romans 5:8, 9 ; Philippians 3:8, 9 ; Titus 3:4-7 ). Back To Article
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Can Assurance of Salvation Be Found in Obeying the Old Testament Law?

The foundation of Jewish orthodoxy is the lawthe Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Old Testament) and the Talmud (the official rabbinical interpretation of the Pentateuch). These are the sacred Jewish Scriptures called Torah.

Both Jesus (Matthew 5:17-18) and Paul (Galatians 3:19-25) affirmed the authority of the law. But they also considered the law a mixed blessing. It brings awareness of sin to people who are unconscious of their depravity, but it offers no solution for human corruption besides a hopeless striving to perfectly fulfill all the law’s requirements (Romans 3:20).

This vain striving for perfection could already be seen in the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, who added ever more complicated rules to the laws of the Old Testament, thinking that by making and keeping rules they would attain greater spiritual purity and peace with God (Matthew 23:1-5, 15-26). Modern orthodox Jews are heirs of the Pharisees. In dispersion they added many volumes of detail to the official interpretation of the law. Today, even a lifetime of Talmudic study can never provide mastery of all of the minutiae of rules and regulations inscribed in rabbinical tradition.

The apostle Paul was a Pharisee (Acts 22:1-5). However, as a Pharisee he discovered that keeping the external detail of the law did not bring peace with God. He discovered that while the law makes people conscious of sin, it offers no means of deliverance from sin’s power. In fact, once the law brings awareness of sin, it has the opposite effectit inflames rebellion.

It is difficult for a person who hasn’t been reared in legalism to understand Paul’s meaning when he speaks of the law “arousing sinful passions” and causing sin to “spring to life” (Romans 7:5-9). However, when someone has no other basis for forgiveness than keeping the law, they begin to view the law itself as the source of salvation. This, in turn, introduces such an emphasis on rules that rebellion is the natural result. A Jewish survivor of German concentration camps, Israel Shahak, described the extent to which Orthodox Judaism strives to avoid violations of the law:

“The following example illustrates even better the level of absurdity reached by this system. One of the prototypes of work forbidden on the Sabbath is harvesting. This is stretched, by analogy, to a ban on breaking a branch off a tree. Hence, riding a horse (or any other animal) is forbidden, as a hedge against the temptation to break a branch off a tree for flogging the beast. It is useless to argue that you have a ready-made whip, or that you intend to ride where there are no trees. What is forbidden remains forbidden for ever. It can, however, be stretched and made stricter: in modern times, riding a bicycle on the Sabbath has been forbidden, because it is analogous to riding a horse.” 1
Dependency upon the law for righteousness and security before God results in rules so complicated and impossible to fulfill that they make life impossible. This results not only in hostility towards the law, but a desire to find ways to circumvent it.2 Fully aware of the law’s function and effect, Paul realized it was not the law, but faith that brings salvation. (Romans 4:9-16). But what is the basis of this saving faith?

Assurance of salvation can’t be based on the law, as the law only magnifies consciousness of sin. Any attempt to achieve assurance on the basis of the law will produce greater guilt. (This is why children of legalistic Christians, Muslims, or Jews often become self-righteous bigots who project their own sinfulness on everyone else or rebels who reject all morality and tradition.) Faith in the law as a means of forgiveness for sin leads only to a cycle of desperate legalism leading either to self-righteous arrogance or despairing rebellion.

The Jewish Bible offers a basis for faith outside of the law. It points to a Messiah who will bear the sins of His people (Genesis 22:1-8; Exodus 12:3-7; Psalm 22; Isaiah 53:1-12). The church was founded on the confidence that Jesus was the Lamb of God ( John 1:29 ) 3, bearer of a gospel that offers forgiveness of sin (John 1:29; 1 Corinthians 15:13; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; 1 John 2:2; Revelation 5:12).

Unlike faith in the Law alone, faith in Jesus as the Messiah confirms the authority of the Law while offering deliverance from its condemnation, offering both Jews and Gentiles forgiveness and peace with God.

  1. Shahak continues: “My final example illustrates how the same methods are used also in purely theoretical cases, having no conceivable application in reality. During the existence of the Temple, the High Priest was only allowed to marry a virgin. Although during virtually the whole of the Talmudic period there was no longer a Temple or a High Priest, the Talmud devotes one of its more involved (and bizarre) discussions to the precise definition of the term ‘virgin’ fit to marry a High Priest. What about a woman whose hymen had been broken by accident? Does it make any difference whether the accident occurred before or after the age of three? By the impact of metal or of wood? Was she climbing a tree? And if so, was she climbing up or down? Did it happen naturally or unnaturally? All this and much else besides is discussed in lengthy detail. And every scholar in classical Judaism had to master hundreds of such problems. Great scholars were measured by their ability to develop these problems still further, for as shown by the examples there is always scope for further developmentif only in one directionand such development did actually continue after the final redaction of the Talmud.” (Israel Shahak, Jewish History, Jewish Religion (pp. 40-41))  Back To Article
  2. Israel Shahak offers examples of the kinds of subterfuges that orthodox Jews have used to “keep the law” in a way that allowed them a degree of normalcy in daily life:

    “Milking on the Sabbath. This has been forbidden in post-talmudic times, through the process of increasing religious severity mentioned above. The ban could easily be kept in the diaspora, since Jews who had cows of their own were usually rich enough to have non-Jewish servants, who could be ordered (using one of the subterfuges described below) to do the milking. The early Jewish colonists in Palestine employed Arabs for this and other purposes, but with the forcible imposition of the Zionist policy of exclusive Jewish labour there was need for a dispensation. (This was particularly important before the introduction of mechanised milking in the late 1950s.) Here too there was a difference between Zionist and non-Zionist rabbis. According to the former, the forbidden milking becomes permitted provided the milk is not white but dyed blue. This blue Saturday milk is then used exclusively for making cheese, and the dye is washed off into the whey. Non-Zionist rabbis have devised a much subtler scheme (which I personally witnessed operating in a religious kibbutz in 1952). They discovered an old provision which allows the udders of a cow to be emptied on the Sabbath, purely for relieving the suffering caused to the animal by bloated udders, and on the strict condition that the milk runs to waste on the ground. Now, this is what is actually done: on Saturday morning, a pious kibbutznik goes to the cowshed and places pails under the cows. (There is no ban on such work in the whole of the talmudic literature.) He then goes to the synagogue to pray. Then comes his colleague, whose ‘honest intention’ is to relieve the animals’ pain and let their milk run to the floor. But if, by chance, a pail happens to be standing there, is he under any obligation to remove it? Of course not. He simply ‘ignores’ the pails, fulfills his mission of mercy and goes to the synagogue. Finally a third pious colleague goes into the cowshed and discovers, to his great surprise, the pails full of milk. So he puts them in cold storage and follows his comrades to the synagogue. Now all is well, and there is no need to waste money on blue dye.

    “Similar dispensations were issued by zionist rabbis in respect of the ban (based on Leviticus 19:19) against sowing two different species of crop in the same field. Modern agronomy has however shown that in some cases (especially in growing fodder) mixed sowing is the most profitable. The rabbis invented a dispensation according to which one man sows the field lengthwise with one kind of seed, and later that day his comrade, who ‘does not know’ about the former, sows another kind of seed crosswise. However, this method was felt to be too wasteful of labour, and a better one was devised: one man makes a heap of one kind of seed in a public place and carefully covers it with a sack or piece of board. The second kind of seed is then put on top of the cover. Later, another man comes and exclaims, in front of witnesses, ‘I need this sack (or board)’ and removes it, so that the seeds mix ‘naturally.’ Finally, a third man comes along and is told, ‘Take this and sow the field,’ which he proceeds to do.” Back To Article

  3. Interestingly, The Qur’an (3:39) also refers to John the Baptist calling Jesus “the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Back To Article
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Don’t All Religions Lead to God?

Just because all of the world’s religions express important elements of spiritual truth doesn’t mean that they all represent enough truth to lead to God.

The history of religion shows how immoral and violent religion can be. Most modern people would look upon the actual practice of many extinct religions with horror. The Canaanites, for instance, practiced human sacrifice, bestiality, and ritual prostitution. The Phoenicians practiced a similar, horrible religion. In the New World, the Aztec Indians practiced ritual human sacrifice on a scale that is almost beyond modern imagination.

Even our relativistic, “Postmodern” culture would find it difficult to defend religions that encourage impersonal ritual sex, human sacrifice, and cannibalism. It’s just too obvious that such religions don’t bring out the best in people. Neither do they produce healthy civilizations.

History also shows us that some civilizations that were founded on evil religion were ripe for destruction. The Canaanites were conquered by Israel. Carthage was utterly destroyed by Rome. The Aztecs were conquered by a few hundred Spaniards and a vast army of Amerindian allies from surrounding tribes who longed for deliverance from Aztec terror.

The major religions that still survive today have lasted a long time, gained many followers, and produced complex and highly developed cultures. Those that have survived into the 20th century generally uphold a moral law similar to the biblical 10 Commandments.  But the world’s major religions do not share a consensus about how to come to terms with our failure to live up to the moral standards of our faith.

While all major contemporary religions have a fairly close general consensus regarding the moral law—the kind of behavior that deserves to be classified as virtuous or sinful—they fall far short of showing us how to come to terms with our own failure to live up to the moral standards of our faith.

According to the New Testament gospel of Christ, knowledge of the moral law brings awareness of sin and guilt (Romans 3:19,20; Romans 7:7-13; 1 Timothy 1:7-11), but is in itself not a means of salvation. Knowledge of the moral law only brings condemnation, and with condemnation comes guilt and the many destructive ways people try to suppress it (legalism, self-righteousness, scapegoating). (See the ATQ article, Can Assurance of Salvation Be Found in Obeying the Old Testament Law?) Only reliance upon Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection in our behalf provides a solution to the awareness of moral condemnation and agony of guilt that rises out of knowledge of the moral law. Only Christianity offers access to God because it answers the problem of evil and guilt.

Jesus Christ fulfilled the moral law both in His life and in His death. He obeyed it perfectly. Of the entire human race, only He never sinned (see John 5:46; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22). He also laid down His life to pay the penalty for sin demanded by the law (see John 3:16; John 10:11-l8; John 11:50-52; Romans. 5:6-8; 2 Corinthians. 5:21). Because Jesus Christ fulfilled the requirements of the moral law, believers in him are restored to relationship with God through grace and no longer alienated and tormented by guilt. Only with Jesus Christ as both master and example can people manifest God’s love and exhibit a righteousness that fulfills the law without being shackled by it (Romans 13:8-10).

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Does Jesus Expect His Followers to Give Up All of Their Possessions?

Does the passage about the rich young ruler teach that Jesus expects His followers to give up all of their possessions to follow Him?

It’s true that Jesus told the rich young ruler to give up his wealth and follow Him ( Mark 10:21 ). On another occasion, Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” 1 ( Mark 10:25 ).

On other occasions, Jesus didn’t rebuke friends who owned property or command them to sell their homes and businesses. In fact, He often ate with people and stayed at their homes. Friends like Mary and Martha or Zacchaeus the publican were clearly not among the poor. He was even buried in the newly excavated tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy member of the Sanhedrin.

So why, then, did Jesus set up what seems to be such a stringent requirement for this particular young man? ( Matthew 19:16-22; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 18:18-30 ).

Jesus knew the young man’s heart. He knew that he was looking for a way to earn his salvation on his own terms. He may have thought that the Master would give him a specific task or good deed to perform that would win eternal life, one that wouldn’t require him to humble himself and unconditionally set his life under the authority of Christ. Instead, Jesus set up a requirement that clearly illustrated the basic issue: the rich young man’s desire to retain control of his life.

Jesus wasn’t implying that salvation can actually be earned by good deeds. Even if the rich young ruler would have given away his riches and followed Christ, he wouldn’t have earned his salvation. However, if he had done so, he would have surrendered his desire for autonomy and acknowledged God’s authority to do what He wanted with his life.

Jesus felt compassion for this young man. But because He knew that the ruler was seeking to manipulate God, He had no choice but to send him away with a clear awareness of his failure.

The Bible makes it clear that possession of wealth involves responsibility, including a responsibility to be compassionate to the poor. But the Bible doesn’t say that all Christians should sell everything they have and give the proceeds to the poor. The hearts of some people, like the rich young ruler’s heart, may require such drastic measures. But for others, giving away everything would be an act of poor stewardship—an unwillingness to make wise, compassionate use of the gifts given by God.

On the other hand, Jesus indicated that a poor person is spiritually in a better position to receive the gospel( Matthew 19:23-24 ; Luke 6:24-25 ). A poor person can’t look to wealth to shield him from the reality of his spiritual poverty and dependence upon God. Poor people have their worries, just as wealthy people do. But poverty is a blessing in disguise when it makes it harder for a person to maintain the illusion of control, and easier to see his need for God. Furthermore, the best things in life aren’t related to wealth. A person in good health is better off—even in material terms—than a well-to-do person with a terminal disease. A person with a small income can enjoy friendship, love, and the beauty of the natural world just as much as a wealthy person can.

What really matters is the purpose that possessions play in our lives. Are we looking to possessions for the meaning and security in our lives, or are we looking at them as blessings that can help us fulfill our role in God’s kingdom?

The apostle Paul left no doubt regarding the means of our salvation and assurance:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

And what about our physical needs? Although Jesus doesn’t tell us that possessions are evil in themselves, He clearly defined where our focus should be:

Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:33).

  1. What did Jesus mean when He said that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven? Bible students have given a variety of answers to this question. Some have seen the expression “eye of the needle” as a term denoting a gate into Jerusalem so small that a camel could go through it only after it had shed its entire burden and assumed a kneeling position. Others have said that the Greek word translated “camel” should be changed a little so that it means “rope.” In other words, it is easier for a rope to be passed through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. Neither explanation is critical to interpreting the passage.

    Jesus deliberately drew a ludicrous picture to make a strong impression on those who heard Him. He wanted His disciples to recognize that riches can be a great hindrance to salvation. Then, to make it clear that not all wealthy people reject salvation, He added, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Through the working of the Holy Spirit, even rich people sometimes acknowledge their spiritual poverty, repent of their sins, and follow Christ. Back To Article

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Must A Person Have A Clear Understanding of Jesus’ Deity To Be Saved?

An accurate response to this question has to reconcile the importance of truth with the simplicity of faith. According to Jesus Christ, faith doesn’t require intellectual sophistication. He didn’t say that one must become a philosopher or a rabbi to enter the kingdom of God. He said that one must become like a child (Mark 10:15). He also compared His followers to sheep (John 10:3-4,16,27). Sheep aren’t known for their intelligence, but they survive by knowing their shepherd and following him. Similarly, saving faith can’t be based as much on theological abstractions as on the simple recognition that Jesus is the Shepherd-Savior and we must follow Him.

The implications of Jesus Christ’s deity weren’t defined until the counsels of Nicaea (ad 325), Constantinople (381), and Chalcedon (451), but millions of Christians had already declared their allegiance to Jesus Christ, and thousands had died as martyrs as testimony to their faith in Him.

What did Christians who lived before these great church councils know about the Trinity or Jesus Christ’s deity? The very earliest followers of Jesus Christ knew Him personally, saw His miracles, heard His teaching, and had either seen Him following His resurrection or heard about His resurrection from sources they considered utterly reliable. The next generation of Christians had the firsthand teaching of the witnesses to His life, death, and resurrection. Later generations had the canon of New Testament Scriptures, which had by then been assembled. All of these generations believed in His sinless life, His works of supernatural power, the supernatural authority of His teaching, and His supernatural resurrection from the dead. Nearly all of them would have had extensive access to either the verbal or written records of what Jesus had taught, including the way He described Himself as the “Son of Man” and the “Son of God,” and the things He spoke (and which were recorded by the Gospel writers) about His own authority and His relationship to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

The first verses of the gospel of John declared, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:1-3). When face-to-face with the risen Christ, the apostle Thomas said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). The apostle Paul clearly affirmed Jesus Christ’s divine power and authority when he wrote concerning Him:

“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:17-20).

The early Christians knew these things, accepted these things, and staked their lives and futures on these things, but they hadn’t yet worked out all of their theoretical implications.

Christian missionaries traveled far into the barbarian lands with the gospel at great risk. While they believed all the things about Jesus that are described in the paragraph above, the majority of them couldn’t explain exactly the philosophical and theological implications of biblical references to Jesus as the Son of Man (Matthew 9:6; 12:8,40), the Son of God (Matthew 4:6; 8:29; 14:33; 26:63), one with the Father (John 10:30), the Creator (John 1:14), and Lord (Matthew 7:21-22; 8:8; 12:8; John 20:28; Acts 7:59). In fact, the Germanic peoples to the north of the Roman Empire were evangelized by Arian missionaries who held a view of Christ’s deity that differed from the one established by the Council of Nicaea. 1 Tragically, long before the church could reach a peaceful consensus about these things, Constantine granted it government protection and patronage. Because he wanted a unified church to support a politically unified empire, he put pressure on the church leaders to resolve their differences quickly. Great church buildings were built with state funds, church leaders were subsidized by the government, and wealth flowed into church coffers. Theological differences became complicated by rivalry over worldly power and real estate. Riots, small-scale battles, kidnappings, and murders were spawned by the conflict between Arians and Catholics.2

Ironically, after the orthodox Catholic (Nicaean) perspective on the deity of Christ was generally adopted within the Roman Empire—largely due to the support of secular leaders—the empire was overthrown by the same Germanic tribes (Visigoths and Ostrogoths) that had already been converted to Christianity by Arian missionaries! Historian David L. Edwards notes in Christianity: The First Two Thousand Years:

“Church life seems to have been much the same under the two creeds and probably few on either side were seriously interested in the theological arguments. . . . However, just as those who lost in civil wars lost their lives or at least their eyesight, so bishops and other teachers defeated in theological battles should expect no mercy. When they had the opportunity, Arians could be as merciless as the Catholics who in the end prevailed.”

In fact, one of the tragic effects of the violent, politically motivated division within the church over the Arian controversy and other theological issues may have been the loss of heart that led to a generally passive acceptance of the Muslim conquests of the seventh and eighth centuries.

This historical example illustrates the danger of seeing a direct correlation between salvation and the ability to give an accurate theological exposition of the deity of Christ and the Trinity.

Probably no more Christians today, on an average, are able to give a coherent explanation of the doctrines of the Trinity and Christ’s deity than could have done so at the beginning of the fourth century. If they can’t, is their faith less genuine than that of those who can theologically defend what they believe? Is mere verbal assent to something one doesn’t understand more important than childlike faith in the gospel and the authority of the Gospels? To say that there is a direct relationship between doctrinal accuracy and salvation would make salvation more dependent on intellect and IQ than the heart.

Today, theologically trained Christians know that the doctrine of Christ’s deity explains the basis for salvation. Athanasius’s insight is widely accepted: If Jesus were not God in the fullest sense, He could not be our Savior. Only God’s own sacrifice could atone our sins.3 But even though this is an essential doctrine, it took centuries for the best thinkers of the church to define it accurately.

Childlike faith in Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd of our souls must be considered sufficient to save us. While theological understanding will grow with the maturation of faith, the depth of any particular person’s faith may not be expressed in the ability to articulate theological truths.

  1. Both Arians (who were the majority in the Greek-speaking church) and Catholics (who dominated only the Latin-speaking West) had powerful philosophical and biblical arguments in support of their positions. Both Arians and Catholics agreed that the Son was the eternal logos (Word) become flesh. Catholics taught that the Father and Son were of the “same essence” (homo-ousios). The Arians were uneasy, however, about considering the Son to be of the exact same essence as the Father, because they feared such a belief could lead to a denial of any real difference between the Father and Son (Sabellianism). They insisted that the fact that the Son was “begotten” and the Father “unbegotten” implied that the Son was either “begotten” or “created” by the Father before the creation of the universe, Subsequently, according to this view, the Son (as logos) created the universe. They preferred to refer to the Father and Son as being of “different essence” or “similar essence” (hetero-ousios,homoi-ousios).
    Eventually, the Catholic position, as defined at Nicaea and further defined and confirmed at Chalcedon, was accepted by the whole Catholic Church. Kenneth Scott Latourette summarizes why the Catholic position came to be accepted:

    “As in the Apostles’ Creed, so in the Nicene Creed, painfully, slowly, and through controversies in which there was often lacking the love which is the major Christian virtue, Christians were working their way through to a clarification of what was presented to the world by the tremendous historical fact of Christ. At Nicaea it was more and more becoming apparent to them that the high God must also be the Redeemer and yet, by a seeming paradox, the Redeemer must also be man. The astounding central and distinguishing affirmation of Christianity, so they increasingly saw, and what made Christianity unique and compelling, was that Jesus Christ was ‘true God from true God,’ or, to put it in language more familiar to English readers, ‘very God of very God,’ who ‘was made man.’ Thus men could be reborn and become sons of God, but without losing their individual identity” (A History of Christianity, p. 156). Back To Article

  2. Historian Will Durant wrote that more Christians were killed by fellow Christians in strife between Catholics and Arians than were killed in the pagan persecutions of Christianity during the three previous centuries. Back To Article
  3. In his book, A Layman’s Guide to Protestant Theology, William Hordern offered a brilliantly simple explanation for the importance of the Nicene definition of the Trinity:

    “The problem of the Trinity arises from the Christian belief that God was acting in and through Jesus Christ. In the fourth century Arius put forward the theory that Christ was a lesser god created by God. This lesser god came to earth in the man Jesus who was not really a man at all, but a divine being freed from the normal limitations of humanity. If the Arian party could have got their iota into the creed, their point of view would have become orthodox Christianity. It would have meant that Christianity had degenerated to the polytheistic stage of paganism. It would have had two gods and a Jesus who was neither God nor man. It would have meant that God himself was unapproachable and apart from man. The result would have been to make of Christianity another pagan mystery religion” (p. 6). Back To Article

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