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On The Necessity of Virtues and Values

Of an Empowering & Inspired Leader

The term values is often confused with virtues although similar in meaning virtues are characteristics and attributes (qualities and aspects) associated with the nature of God whereas values are any principles, standards, or qualities considered worthwhile and desirable (Bredfeldt 2006). Furthermore, values are determined by one’s worldview and are based on personality, family dynamics, environmental factors, social factors, cultural aspects, political views and other views of social nature. One’s view on creation, God (or the lack of, and even economics shapes one’s values as well as how one perceives and pursues the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom. Additionally one’s values are mutable and change as one’s perception and perspective changes. Our values can be influenced and manipulated by the views and teachings of others and form the basis of our morality where as our virtues are God given. The two combined form the basis for Ethics.

Ethics can be divided into three categories.  At the highest level is our Virtue our concept of God and Evil or theodicy.  Western social concepts of virtues is credited first to the Greek Philosopher Plato who views justice as the highest virtue.  Justice forms the bond that holds all the other four virtues of wisdom, courage, temperance (Self-control) and continence (abstinence from immorality especially sexually desire) in unity and congruency. Additionally, only through the exercise of knowledge and the power given within our soul can ultimate good be achieved for the form is an imperfect copy and our senses are inferior matter or existence is imperfect while essence (soul, God, spirit, knowledge) is perfect and unchanging and is the basis for all things (anonymous 2016).  The second level is one’s personal and family conception of what is right & wrong (general morality) and at the base is secular law or social and corporate structure.

Virtue, Values & Vices

Aristotle built upon Plato’s concepts but came to a different conclusion. For him matter and essence are inseparable and both are derived from God. The lower form matter thereby originated from the deity and all action originates from the potentiality of motion (anonymous 2016).   For Aristotle virtues are God given but must be developed in training and discipline in what he called means. If we for example wish exemplify High-Mindedness (Wisdom) but the over development of it this will lead to the excessive vice of pride (boastfulness, vanity). In Contrast a lack of development will lead to the vice of deficiency of foolishness ( humble-mindedness) Thus for Aristotle, virtues fail as a result of two categories’ of vices one of deficiency and one of excess as a result of a lack of discipline and training.

Aristotle’s list of virtues and vices are listed on the following chart (anonymous 2016).

VICE OF DEFICIENCY VIRTUOUS MEAN VICE OF EXCESS
Cowardice Courage Rashness
Insensibility Temperance Intemperance
Illiberality Liberality Prodigality
Pettiness Munificence Vulgarity
Humble-mindedness High-mindedness Vaingloriness
Want of Ambition Right Ambition Over-ambition
Spiritlessness Good Temper Irascibility
Surliness Friendly Civility Obsequiousness
Ironical Depreciation Sincerity Boastfulness
Boorishness Wittiness Buffoonery
Shamelessness Modesty Bashfulness
Callousness Just Resentment Spitefulness

 

Finally, one is to practice self-love and friendship or love of others, which is a communal relation, and peaceful and beautiful state of existence with the world in general (anonymous 2016). Furthermore, justice is both general and special in that it applies to the observance of both secular and moral law in occasional circumstance such as judicial and economic matters and is abstract in some instance for absolute justice, which is corrective, and often retaliatory is necessary in moral conduct and common decency.

God cannot be comprehended by practicing normal human moral insight; rather one finds God in happiness in being (anonymous 2016). For Aristotle, pain and pleasure of the mind and soul is the motivation behind the virtues and thus desire for higher pleasure one strives for the highest virtue of high-mindedness through the pursuit of knowledge, wisdom and the disciplines of means or pursuit of the other Godly virtues.

From a Biblical the character of the leader should be developed out of disciple and training from the study of God’s word, meditation, prayer, a life of obedience of faith ( reliance, dependence and trust on Christ and the Holy Spirit).   One must additionally die to flesh – born to Spirit (Rom. 12) and be without boastful pride and in loving humble servitude and in a unity of heart and mind that imitates the likeness of Christ (Phil 1-6). Through the transformation of one’s mind through various spiritual disciplines and the resistance of temptations and living by Christian Ethics, one is granted Spiritual Gifts for the glory of God and service (Rom 12-15).

Additionally, one is to be follow the guidelines of Christian character and conducts as outlined in 1 Tim: 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. This ethical code is similar to the classical code of the Greeks and summarized lists certain desirable traits of conduct for leaders and elders of the church. However, this code should become the basis for all believers conduct, as it is list some basics guidelines for virtues besides those in Romans 12-15. The Fruit of the Spirit, which results from discipline practice and training, is the highest virtues (Gal 5-16-26, Col 3:1-17) and is only given by the leading and granting of the Holy Spirit. Both lists also contain some of the more common sins or depravities of Humanity.  One should recall from Romans 1-8 Paul reminds us all though the Law illustrates us the nature of our sin and we may have all intentions to do good deeds, works actions or even obey out of obligation of the Law. Because of our sin even after being justified or declared citizens of distinction worth and righteous (elect, saints). Will fall short. Thus only by the atoning cross can any of us be truly forgiven, and it is by Christ grace and mercy that all faith is based not by anything we can accomplish. WE however must with the aid of the Holy Spirit striving to become transformed dying from the temptations of sin, forgiving others as well as our self, empowering others and spreading the Gospel to the fallen world serving as Christ like teachers in faith, hope and love.

Courage

Courage is essential and is the result of Endurance, perseverance, and often times suffering.  Courage is the ability to face one’s fears, standing firm in strength in one’s convictions and is a discipline virtue that arises from faith and relying on the practice of truth in times of crisis, adversity or suffering. Courage as a virtue is the assurance of the interdependence working of God in total trust and reliance in any situation or occasion of danger (whether perceived or actual).

Thus, with that aid of the Holy Spirit and the Authority given to the believer by Christ the sovereignty will insure the outcome is in the best interest of the Trinity of God and for his divine creation and Eternal- kingdom.  Additionally courage sparks the passion and not always the sensibility of the individual leading to actions in a situation. Wisdom is the application of knowledge, virtues, and vales in a manner that practical and is thus sensible and heartfelt or appropriate in any given situation.

Truth

Truth can be absolute or relative based on assumptions, feelings, false input of one’s senses or misguided views or actions. The Bible in inerrant when God, Christ or “The Angel of the Lord says or the Holy Spirit gives direct directives. However, the Bible is also infallible meaning it is the means and ends of achieving Faith. Both doctrines of the church are human perspectives and can be supported by the Biblical Evidence.

However, the Bible is not fully inerrant or infallible in itself and never makes an exclusive claim for one or the other. Rather truth and faith (Spirit) matched with authenticity should be seen as the Biblical doctrine  Biblical intake and teaching requires the ability to differentiate, evaluate and incorporate  historical, occasional, cultural, situational, universal, personal and finally current relevancy (Duvall and Hays 2012, 235-246).

To make a claim that either truth of faith or works or goodwill (deeds) are to be separated or combined in any a+ +b or b+ d or any other combination to achieve salvation is missing the mark. The truth is all are inseparable and holistic parts lived and in of obedience of faith for the suffering Bondservant of Christ. One style of leadership or church will not be fitting or reach and meet the needs for all people and doctrines of man will divide. Each view has strengths and weakness as every man has strength and weaknesses (Bredfeldt 2006).

The Key of Wisdom

The key is discernment with biblical guidance and application of general revelation, assessment and our experience. This enables one as an individual, the Body of Believers or universal communal church, and all who are willing to hear, see and receive the Atoning Sacrifice of Christ and the Good-News in a manner that leads to a profession of faith and the empowering and ongoing transformation to the Eikōn. This New Adam – New Kingdom fulfillment, will be granted  when final salvation and full restoration is completed upon Christ return which is only possible with the aid of others and the Holy Spirit brought forth in humble, and accepting discerning teachings of love grace and mercy.

 

Uniqueness & Diversity: The Character of a Leader

What defines ethics and sound character will vary from subculture to culture and will differ even by some degree with in the individual heart and mind of each person. A worldview is simply how an individual perceives the world and his place in creation. It is influenced by family dynamics, cultural customs, ethnicity, nationality, religious views ( doctrines and dogma & beliefs), peer pressure, inspiration, philosophical ideology, political perception,  economics, innate vales & talents , God given virtues ( often unrealized or undeveloped), knowledge, and wisdom. This list is far from complete.

Sin is the adversary of character and is like a genetic curse inherit in all humanity. Sin leads to opposition to the guidelines of the Law that is Holy and the basis of our virtuous morality. Only through Christ atoning sacrifice are we worthy and significant free from blind obligation to obedience of the Law.  In correlation by the leading of the Spirit sanctified and ethics is thus written on the heart of all who live obediently in and by faith (Rom 6-8).

Our strengths and weakness need to be assessment and evaluation and at times God uses not our strengths but our weakness ( Gen 50:20)  for the benefit his divine purpose ( Matt 28: 18-20 must be done in conjunction Matt 22:33-39). Finally, Philippians 1-11, Titus 1:6-8, 1 Timothy 3:2-7, 1 Corinthians 13, Galatians 5, Romans 12-16 as well as Matt 5-7, Eph 5, Col 3:5, and Rom 1:18-32, Rom 2-6). The Good News is since all are declared righteous and redeemed by Christ and love writes the Law on one’s heart in transformation, obedience and willing service of love.

The individual and community is being transformed and restored as long as we keep trudging running, persevering, suffering thru the race of life and praising and glorify God in all things. Thus, doing our part to advance the completion of God promise of salvation and inclusion of all who are willing into the New Adam ( Man)- Perfected reconstructed Eternal kingdom of God when Christ returns to reign in the Eschatological Age (Moo 2000).

In God, Christ and Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

 

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Bibliography

anonymous. Ancient Greek Philosophy. Edited by James Fieser, Bradley Dowden, & Kirby Jeremy. 2016. http://www.iep.utm.edu/greekphi/ (accessed May 01, 2016).

 

Bredfeldt, Gary J. Great Leader, Great Teacher: Recovering the Biblical Vision for Leadership. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2006.

Duvall, Scott J., and Daniel J. Hays. Grasping God’s Word. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012.

Moo, Douglas J. Romans. NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000.

 

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THE EPISTLE OF ROMANS

The Believer & “The Law”

Help Wanted:

Seeking the lost, subjugated, addicted, wretched, and most sinful people of society. Prostitutes, illegal immigrants, and all people rejected welcome. Must be willing to suffer humiliation and disgrace by mainstream society affluent socialites, hypocrites, elitist, bigots, and the lovers of money need not apply. For one cannot serve two masters –Jesus!

 

During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaimed, “Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For I assure you Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished  Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches people to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

 

Yet, it is evident that he indeed did change The Law by is teaching as we are no longer obligated to live as slaves of wrath of sin under the penalty of death. Paul states, “So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code (Rom. 7: 4-6 NIV).” Moo states Paul intent of these verses are, “The era of the law has come to an end with the redemptive work of Christ. To be “under the law” then, means to be in that old era and to deny that Christ has come.  This is the purpose for which we are freed from the law and joined to Christ is so that we may “bear fruit to God.” Practical works of service should flow from our new relationship[1].”

Furthermore, Jesus in his Greatest Commandment states, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matt. 22: 36-40 NIV).

A final consideration what Jesus said on matters of exclusion, hypocrisy and lack of humility and false ambition to the Pharisees “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean (Matt. 23:23-25).”  This is Jesus warning that one cannot earn the favor of God by work or deed alone. Additionally, one must practice a life of obedience of faith and in a manner of living, which glorifies God in all things. Paul uses the same argument for Christian living and the need for transformation in Romans 12-15:3 and builds the need for justification by faith alone for righteousness by the grace and mercy of the Atonement of Christ in Romans 1-8. While for Paul transformation of the mind can only result after one has the indwelling and aid of the Holy Spirit,  For many second century Jews and even some Christians today and even non believers God instills certain moral characteristics within all humanity and one can argue even all creation ( Psalms 148,150)[2].

Although the Epistle of Romans depicts all humanity under a generational curse and a wretched state of sin and despite our best intentions unable to live up to acts of God will or fulfill the Law. The book of acts and even Jesus allude to the power of God and the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of non believers before a profession of faith in Christ or repentance of sin. Additionally, there are few absolute truths or laws in the universe. However on certainty is there is only one God and God often first reveals himself via creation and general revelation. However, a more profound truth one cannot enter Heaven and restored to the Eikōn of Christ that was robbed from us by the first sin unless one accepts that Jesus paid the price of the sins of all creation and justified all creation. We all with the aid of the Holy Spirit must practice the disciplines of Christian Living that lead to the Fruit of the Spirit[3] during the process of sanctification in the race of live and  gracious and suffering living until all creations rejoices in the Eternal Kingdom under the reign of our Savior King Jesus Christ.

What is the purpose of the Mosaic Law and secular law to a believer and follower of Christ? This question has been a troubling debate since the dawn of Christianity and has led to the collapse of empires, the foundation of nations, wars, the separation of church and states and even the schism with in the body of Christ itself. While Jesus himself did not give us but seven basic commands during his earthly ministry, George Patterson outlines theses as follows:

  1. Repent and Belief ( Mark 1:15)
  2. Baptism and Sanctification, Continuity of New Life, ( Matt. 28: 18-20; act 2:38; Rom. 6:11)
  3. Love of God & Others ( Matt. 22: 37:40)
  4. Communion ( Luke 22: 17-20)
  5. Pray ( Matt. 6: 5-15)
  6. Give ( Matt. 6: 19-21; Luke 6:38)
  7. Evangelize (Matt. 28: 18-20).[4]

Jesus did state during the Sermon on the Mount of Olivet “That he did not come to change that Law or any of the words of the prophets rather all will be fulfilled in him Matt. 5).”   As Moo states throughout his commentary obligation to live by the Law was ended by Christ dying as an atoning sacrifice and is replaced with The Law serving as a guide and awareness of our sins. This is also, what Paul has in mind in Romans when speaking of the Law being written to the heart of the believer as well. Moo views this mainly as 10 Commandments and some of the religious guidelines in the Mosaic Law.[5]

However, I conclude this applies to secular law as well. Peter calls Aliens and Strangers in 1 Peter 11-12 NASB “Who should keep are conduct in a manner that glorifies God, thus we should walk and imitate Christ in all areas as this serves as one of the main functions of evangelism for us as ambassadors and champions of the faith.” Peter continues by providing insight that we must never allow the ways of foreign customs compromise our righteousness or our belief of obedience to live by faith.

Paul reminds us In Romans 12 to pursue peace in all arguments under most circumstances and in Romans 13 we are told God appoints every government and every official and thus we are told to pay are taxes, debts and show kindness, love and respect to every citizen in the land where we live under most circumstances.

Exceptions may occur and are documented in the Bible and history under and in such cases; the need for advocacy, activism or even rebellion may be needed. Such a circumstance in Jerusalem around 40-50 A.D. Gamaliel’s defense on the persecution of the Apostles for inciting a rebellion as recorded in The Book of Acts by Luke (Acts 5:33-36) may be paraphrased as “if this is for the benefit of God it will succeed.  But if these actions or any actions performed are in the interest or intent of men they will fail (Acts 5:39).” I myself believe peace is always best and words should sought before any form of violence However am fully willing to stand up and fight any war against forces whether spiritual or physical or Spiritual in the name of Christ. The question always is what one is willing to sacrifice and die for.

 

In God, Christ & Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

Bibliography

McFarland, Orrey. “Philo of Alexandria and Romans 9:1-29: Grace, Mercy, and Reason.” In Reading Romans In Context: Paul and Second Temple Judaism, edited by Ben C. Blackwell, John K. Goodrich, & Jason Maston, 115-120. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015.

 

Moo, Douglas J. Romans. NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000.

 

Patterson, George. “The Spontaneous Multiplication of Churches.” In Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, edited by Ralph D Winer, & Hawthorne Steven C., 639. Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009.

 

Whitney, Donald S. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2014.

 

 

[1]  Douglas J. Moo, Romans, NIVAC (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000).

[2] Orrey McFarland, “Philo of Alexandria and Romans 9:1-29: Grace, Mercy, and Reason.” In Reading Romans In Context: Paul and Second Temple Judaism, edited by Ben C. Blackwell, John K. Goodrich, & Jason Maston ( Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015), 115-120.

 

[3]Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2014).

 

[4] George, Patterson. “The Spontaneous Multiplication of Churches.” In Perspectives On The World Christian Movement, edited by Ralph D Winter, & Hawthorne Steven C, (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009), 639.

 

[5]  Douglas J. Moo, Romans, NIVAC (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000)

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IS HUMANITY TRULY FREE!

AN ANALYSIS ON THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD VERSUS THE WILL OF MAN

 

 

TRENTON C. RINDOKS

RLGN 335

MARCH 11, 2016

 

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Introduction

Is humanity truly free or is God in control of every, thought, and action within creation? “The contemporary issue of God’s Providence versus human will is often associated with two theological views that began in the sixteenth century and has its basis on the position of John Calvin and Jacob Arminius.”[1] God’s Providence can thus be defined as, “The theological doctrine that the world and our lives are not ruled by chance or fate but by God, who lays bare his purposes of providence in the incarnation of his Son.”[2]  In contrast many people throughout the world hold the belief of polytheism or that there is not one supreme being in control of the world rather the world is under the control of a multitude of God’s, still others belief in materialism professing that God does not exist this exist by the laws of nature and the universe itself.[3] Under the three views on existence, fate, freewill or providence a multitude of philosophical and scientific theories have been conceived to prove or disprove the providence of God. The focus of this essay is on current issue of the Providence of God as it pertains to the Christian worldview and freewill.

The Providence of God: Predestination versus Freewill

The basic assumption of Calvinism is that man is born in a state of total depravity, thus he inherited the capacity to sin within his heart and mind from the guilt of Adam’s original sin (Rom. 5:12) and is by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3). John Calvin writes of the predestination or choosing of some and the rejecting of other for salvation in Institutes of the Christian Religion. In five articles, he outlines his position on original sin. First, God decreed to save all who believe and preserver in faith, while all others are to be judged and left to damnation. Secondly, Christ died for all men on the cross, however redemption and forgiveness of sin is open only the gift of the believer. Man does not possess freewill, or can he obtain salvation apart from Christ. In this depraved state of apostasy and sin he can truly, think, act, or behave in a manner of consistent with anything righteous or good as he was born separate from Christ.  Next Without grace, man cannot do anything good, but grace is inseparable since man has resisted the Holy Spirit, the agency of faith. Finally, while believers receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and are able to partake in the fruit and gifts of the Spirit (Gal.  5:22-23, 1 Cor. 12: 1-11). In addition, resist the powers of principalities and Satan (Eph. 6: 10:20).  However, on the matter of whether or not a believer can fall away and be lost should be left to the determination of the Holy Bible before we  teach it fully within the ‘ full persuasion of our minds.[4]”” The basic premise is God is predetermines every decision and every event and therefore nothing happens by chance or fate.

The main objection to predestination, election, is humanity is a slave a mere puppet or machine under the control and the domination of the will of the master without freedom of choice on the part of the agent or created.  In response, Johnathan Edwards explains that in our emotions and within our ability of discernment: “We always make our choices based on the strongest inclinations at the moment.[5]” Thus, although we may feel a desire to perform a certain action the consequence of the actual event will dictate whether or not we will actually perform such behavior or action or not. In such a manner, we are afforded a degree of limited freedom even though God predestined our life and the events. Although, Calvinism teaches that because of the fall and the inheritance of original sin humanities desires are depraved and influenced by principalities and Satan an individual simply commits a crime because he desire to do so and in such we are not a slave under any submissive control but have a certain degree of freewill.

To understand the Calvinist view one must understand the perspective of predestination in light of God’s omnipotence and his ability of foreknowledge. God determines the proximity and time where a person is to be born of all nations (Acts: 17:46), God, knows the time of your death (Matt.; 10:30).  God, accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will (Eph. 1: 11).  Ultimately every action originated from God and Glorify God (Rom 11:36, and in a direct correlation God determines the plans of all people over the own freewill (Prov. 19:21; 20:24).

The Arminian View (Free-will Position) suggests God limits a certain amount of his Sovereignty in order that each person may choice to enter freely into a loving relationship with him, for love must be based and maintained on choice otherwise it is not a real loving relationship but one of domination or even a form of abuse.  Although, God is omnipotent, is the creator of all things (John 1:3; Gen 1-2; and thus may predestine whatever or whomever he wishes Acts 2:23; 4:28 Isa. 46:10-11).

Additionally all things are from him and through him and are meant to glorify him Rom 11: 6 and in him all are inspired (1 Tim 3:16; Prov. 19:21; 20:24). God however gives one the choice to follow him freely throughout the Bible (Gen 2:16-17; Jer. 7: 1-15; John 3:-16-20) and holds them to a moral obligations to their choices. Humanity is expected to make the appropriate moral choices  but often break the heart of God and some will even reject God entirely as illustrated in (Luke 7:30).

God however does not delight in inflicting pain or evil (Ezek.  18: 30-32) nor wish any condemn any ( Pet. 3:9) Instead he extends his gracious love to all sinners ( Isa. 30:18) and always strives to redeemed those who are lost ( Luke 15). Finally, the Greatest commandment of Jesus states One is to Love God and Love others and in to doing so one will keep all the Law (Matt. 22:36-38),

Additionally Paul proclaims that true freedom “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Gal. 5: 1).” The Yoke of Slavery can come from the one who is throwing you into confusion (justification by the law/ conformity to cultural distinction), whomever that may be, will have to pay the penalty (Gal. 5: 10 NIV). Secondly, “Those who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; and have fallen away from grace (Gal 5:4 NIV).”

Finally, Paul teaches of the need of love and sanctification. “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law (Gal 5: 13-18 NIV).”

Jesus Christ only proclaimed seven basic commands during his ministry; George Patterson outlines theses as follows:

  1. Repent and Belief ( Mark 1:15)
  2. Baptism and Sanctification, Continuity of New Life, ( Matt. 28: 18-20; act 2:38; Rom. 6:11)
  3. Love of God & Others ( Matt. 22: 37:40)
  4. Communion ( Luke 22: 17-20)
  5. Pray ( Matt. 6: 5-15)
  6. Give ( Matt. 6: 19-21; Luke 6:38)
  7. Evangelize ( Matt. 28: 18-20)[6]

 

To understand the implication of God’s love in a social context one must understand the relationship on the personhood of God himself.  “First, God is composed of three distinctive persons each with the ability to speak, love and will of their own yet form the same entity or personhood. Each person within the personhood exists within a harmonious balance, coequal, coeternal, and copowerful, present from the beginning and until the end of time, and are composed of the same substance and essence. However, each performs certain functions within the Godhead or personhood.[7]

Next, if one compares the relational nature of trinity to the intended relational nature of humanity one can fully understand the concept and need for freewill from God’s perspective.  “Relationality is the primary way humans reflect God’s image. Genesis 1: 26-27 states Then God said.  ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness…So God created humankind in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.’ The us connotes the triune of the Godhead who created humanity in the image of God, throughout the Bible, unity and uniqueness are simultaneously described as the relational aspects of the Godhead, This relational application as it pertains to humanity became revealed in the various covenantal relationships between God and humanity and actualized in Jesus Christ. As a result it to should form the basis for the relationship of the family grounded on a mutuality of indwelling and fellowship in a similar manner[8].”

Finally, The Arminian Perspective could be seen as one that leads to a dependence on faith. First, as the ability to make one’s own life choices instead of living out the dictates or appointments of a sovereign master can often lead to frustrating and mistakes one must learn to rely on the power of prayer for guidance direction and inspiration.

Secondly, many Arminianist believe that faith is provide by a form of election and even certain critical events are predestined by God, thus while not every action is not predestined by God. God provides the necessary faith for major events that require acts of faith. However, one can commit apostasy and choice out of one’s freewill to divorce one’s self from God’s will entirely when one is blocked by sin. Thus, sanctification is a process of both works and deed and inseparable faith. The inter-dwelling of the Holy Spirit is required in cooperation with the free agent during sanctification, restoring one to the Eikōn or image of God.  God, allows humankind the ability to make certain decisions and has given humanity dominion over certain aspects of creation but retains foreknow knowledge of all that will happen without controlling the outcome of every occurrence of every event.

The major objection to the freewill viewpoint is that it denies the sovereignty of God and overemphasizes the role of man in salvation and in his role in creation. Although, predestination guarantees God’s providence, the salvation of some and offers a certain level of security as that nothing happen in the universe by chance, it can lead to some unresolved questions such as why do bad things happen to believer. Why does evil exist? Why would a believer turn away from God and a host of other questions? The free- will position however, can answer these questions with simplicity for it was man who performed such actions out of own plans.

Furthermore, offering hope to those who have fallen away as God is always trying to restore or have a relationship with everyone. No one is predestined in the first place, for the premise of a loving relationship requires one to commit, maintain or leave the covenant thus is inclusive to all people / God does not discriminate. God is always fighting to maintain it on his end because God’s core nature (Essence) is love, grace and mercy in itself.

The Created: The Free Agent Coauthor of Creation

A third Position (Open-Theism) suggests God knows “All that Shall Be and All that May Be” in History. “This view proposes prophecy should be considers as conditional warnings and that God is sovereign in that that he can predestine history and foreknow as much of it as he choices.[9]” Thus the future is still be written by God and man acts a coauthor of creation. This authority and aspect of the image of God was given to humanity during creation. “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth (Gen 1:26 NASB).”

Additionally God has promised unto the believer and to the church, “He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen (Rev. 1:6.)” y, In the Book of Daniel is promised “Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him ( Dan. 7:27).” Although some will conclude that, the passage in Daniel refers to the end of days for In John 5:19 John states, “We know that we are of God, and the whole world is under the sway of the evil one.” Paul warns, “We must put on the Armor of God for the world is under control of principalities and Satan (Eph. 6:12-17). Additionally, “We shall become a living sacrifice, renewing our mind and not conform to the ways of this world. Rather one should trust in faith, walk by grace and enter into the unified body confirming to the ways of the Spirit and think sensibly, while worshiping or glorifying God in all things. We must conquer evil with Good, leaving vengeance to God. Become humble and never boastful (wise in your own estimation). Under most circumstance live in peace with all humanity, and rejoice with all who weep while encouraging one another. One should be persistent in hope, bless those who persecute and harm us. Concomitantly, providing for the needs of everyone. Thus doing as Christ Commanded, ‘we shall love and glorify God and all people”, but detest all things evil for such things are against the nature of God (Romans 12).” The Passage in Daniel can be seen as being fulfilled at least in part in the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. As coauthors, the believer and the church must fight against the forces of corruption and evil in order to fulfill the Kingdom calling of God. This Calling is inclusive to every people without distinction of nationality, culture or any form of discrimination except when such individuals or people are in contrast to the nature of God himself. John Scott comments, “Paragraph five of the Lausanne Covenant is not just negative. It expresses penitence ‘both for our neglect and for having sometimes regarded evangelism and social concern as mutually exclusive’, and affirms, “evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty”. It touches on biblical doctrines. First, the doctrine of God: ‘we affirm that God is both the Creator and Judge of all men’ and that we should share ‘his concern for justice and reconciliation throughout human society and for the liberation of men from every kind of oppression’. Secondly, the doctrine of man: ‘Because mankind is made in the image of God, every person, regardless of race, religion, or worldview,  thus has an intrinsic worth which he should be respected, served, however never subjugated’. Finally, he speaks on salvation: ‘The message of salvation implies also a message of judgement and we should not be afraid to rebuke evil and discrimination for such thing are against the very nature of God and should be reformed wherever and whenever such actions occur .’”[10]

Another consideration on the open theist position is that God tests and knows the hearts of all people. The best example is the book of Job. Here we find a man who was the priest of his family and Satan challenges God that if he was to cause him a great deal of suffering he would fall away from him. His friends accuse him of apostasy, his family die, and he even questions God but comes to realize God has soveignty and is in control. Although this may seem more of an indication of predestination, Job chose to endure the suffering. He could have turned away from God, just as in theory, Jesus could have given into the temptations of Satan. The overall theme of the book teaches the reader five points on suffering. First suffering is satanic. Second, it is often serious and mysterious puzzle. Third. It may be the result of sin or the actions of others, Next suffering purifies the heart and finally suffering is providential and illustrates the power of God over man and the ability overcome with faith and grace alone.[11] The fact that God tests people illustrates the future is not predestined for the future is determined on the results of those who is tested. Another example can be traced back to the Garden of Eden and the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die (Gen. 2: 16-17).” However, the serpent knowing that Eve was not created within the Garden said to her, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden (Gen 3:1) ’?” If everything is predestined by God. God would have not allowed such an action to occur unless he planned for evil and sin to enter into the heart and mind of man. This is highly unlikely as God hates evil and thus, cannot even tolerate the sight of it (Ps. 5:-4-5; Hab. 1:13).  Since the future is open it for man to participate in creation and most importantly to have true relationship and community with God. This is most evident in the emphasis on prayer and the giving of Gifts by the Holy Spirt as well as the emphasis of the receiving and giving of blessings by God and then by the believers to others.

The main objection is God must know the future tense of all things including free agent to be truly omniscient. In response, God simply knows the all prospects of probabilities’ and possibilities that may occur and reacts accordingly. Additionally, as God is all Powerful and is everything God exists beyond the boundaries of Space, time and any of the known dimensions. Something that is everything (I am) either is everything or is nothing! A finite mind can never understand an infinite being. Such an existence is beyond comprehension.

Other Perspectives

In some third world countries or in nations where such people groups have immigrated Animism or the believe in the power of ancestors, nature spirits or some invisible force providing guidance to the people has been the basis of worldview and has been incorporated within the Christian Perspective of people from these cultures. The traditional biblical view is that such ideas lie in the realm of principalities and are thus acts of sorcery or witchcraft. However, many contemporary evangelist are placing such ideologies in the inclusive theological spectrum when incorporated with a profession of faith in Christ and are placing such spiritual entities in what is known as the Middle Kingdom. The simple answer is to associate any form of divine act that glorifies God with the Holy Spirit, angels or saints. Others seek to place those who practice shamanist medicine in the secular school of holistic healing.[12]  Postmodern Christian will defend that God wants a relationship with all humanity and even physical death does not necessary terminate the ability for one to achieve salvation. While Universalist will exert that Christ through the Holy Spirit can reveal himself any way to any person, the nature of faith is what matter not the name in which one calls the Messiah.[13] “In response to those who wish to practice a mystical or animistic form of Christianity the individual and society should focus on the greatness deliverance and freedom in the authority of Christ, many of the notions of animist and mystics can easily be explained away as scientific phenomena while other attributed to principalities.” However, the true answer to prayer are those that bring the greatest glory to God otherwise for some we may seek to Christianity their new magic.[14]

Experience

“Experience is, for me, the highest authority. The touchstone of validity is my own experience. No other person’s ideas, and none of my own ideas, are as authoritative as my experience. It is to experience that I must return repeatedly, to discover a closer approximation to truth as it is in the process of becoming in me. Neither the Bible nor the prophets — neither Freud nor research –neither the revelations of God nor man — can take precedence over my own direct experience. My experience is not authoritative because it is infallible. It is the basis of authority because it can always be checked in new primary ways. In this way its frequent error or fallibility is always open to correction.[15]“Carl Rogers is stating that self-actualization lies within the sphere of the individual’s perception. The Bible, divine revelation or any psychological training or knowledge cannot yield true wisdom it must come from experience. While wisdom is derived from experience, faith must also play a part in it as well. Plato acknowledge this in his view that matter or the flesh is corruptible (mutable) while the things of essence such as the soul and knowledge incorruptible thus divinely inspired. However, he is correct in stating that no ideas either his own, or any else’s are absolute true. Truth is always relative and any idea, concept, doctrine, or theory ever conceived is either a modification of an existing idea. All concepts must be partially fallible for that which is considered infallible will always contain a flaw or manipulation in the data, statistics or method of experimentation or perception. Imperfection is an inevitability of the human condition. However, we all must strive for growth.

Conclusion

You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice. If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill. I will choose a path that’s clear I will choose free will.[16] Whether one believes that humanity has free will and is able to make their own choices, or God is total control or one believes in the possibility and probability of occurrence in the future depends how one views the sovereignty of God the nature of creation and one’s own perception of faith itself. The Doctrine of the Providence of God determines how each individual will react to positive and negative consequences in their life and can even determine whether one will come to profess and maintain a relationship of God. This doctrine also influence one’s view on the influence of sin and the necessity of sanctification and morality and thus forms a cornerstone in the foundation in the unity of the heart and mind as well as in one’s walk with Christ for the believer. Although the Bible offers some arguments for and against all three of the major positions, the Bibles does not support one view inherently. Therefore, the matter is up to the decision of the individual and the church. Unfortunately, like most doctrines this creates a schism in Body of Christ or universal church creating division instead of unity, and at times animosity instead of harmony. One may wonder if Christ is weeping over his broken body and all the needless doctrines, dogmas and laws.

 Bibliography

Balswick, Jack O., and Balswick Judith K. The Family: A Christian Perprective on the Contemporary Home. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2014.

Boyd, Gregory A., and Paul R. Eddy. Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology. 2nd. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009.

George, Patterson. “The Spontaneous Multiplication of Churches.” In Perspectives On The World Christian Movement, edited by Ralph D. Winter, & Hawthorne Steven C., 639. Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009.

Hiebert, Paul G. “The Flaw of Excluding the Middle.” In Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, edited by Ralph D Winer, & Hawthorne Steven C., 407-414. Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009.

Hindson, Ed, and Gary Yates. The Essence of the Old Testament: A survey. Nashville: B&H Academics, 2012.

Lutzer, Erwin. The Doctrines That Divide. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1998.

Parker, T. H. L. “Providence of God.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, edited by Walter A. Elwell. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.

Rogers, Carl Ransom. On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1995.

Rush. “Free Will.” Permanent Waves. Comps. Neal Peart, Lee Geddy, & Alex Lifeson. 1980. Compact Disc.

Slick, Matt. Christian Apologetic & Research Ministry. 2016. https://carm.org/trinity (accessed March 10, 2016).

Stott, John. “THE SIGNIFICANCE OF LAUSANNE.” International Review of Mission (ATLASerials, Religion Collection, EBSCOhost) 64, no. 255 (July 1975): 288-294.

 

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[1] Gregory A. Boyd and Paul R. Eddy, Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology, 2nd ed (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009), 34.

[2] T. H. L. Parker, “Providence of God.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, edited by Walter A. Elwell. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 965.

[3]Gregory A. Boyd and Paul R. Eddy, Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology, 2nd ed (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009), 33.

 

[4] Erwin Lutzer, The Doctrines That Divide, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1998), 178.

 

[5] Erwin Lutzer, The Doctrines That Divide, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1998), 189.

 

[6] George, Patterson. “The Spontaneous Multiplication of Churches.” In Perspectives On The World Christian Movement, edited by Ralph D Winter, & Hawthorne Steven C, (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009), 639.

 

[7] Matt Slick, Christian Apologetic & Research Ministry. 2016. https://carm.org/trinity (accessed 03 10, 2016).

 

[8] Jack O., Balswick, and Judith K. Balswick, The Family: A Christian Perprective on the Contemporary Home. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2014), 4-5.

 

 

[9] Gregory A. Boyd and Paul R. Eddy, Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology, 2nd ed (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009), 34.

[10] John Stott, “THE SIGNIFICANCE OF LAUSANNE.” International Review of Mission (ATLASerials, Religion Collection, EBSCOhost) 64, no. 255 (July 1975), 288-294.

 

[11] Ed, Hindson, Ed, and Gary Yates, The Essence of the Old Testament: A survey. (Nashville: B&H Academics, 2012), 238-239.

 

[12] Paul G. Hiebert,  “The Flaw of Excluding the Middle.” In Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, edited by Ralph D Winer, & Hawthorne Steven C., (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009), 407-414.

[13] Gregory A. Boyd and Paul R. Eddy, Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology, 2nd ed (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009), 202-207.

 

[14]Paul G. Hiebert,  “The Flaw of Excluding the Middle.” In Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, edited by Ralph D Winer, & Hawthorne Steven C., (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009), 407-414..

[15] Carl Ransom Rogers,  On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1995), 23.

 

[16] Rush. “Free Will.” Permanent Waves. Comps. Neal Peart, Lee Geddy, & Alex Lifeson. 1980. Compact Disc.

 

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