PART 4: TO DEBATE TO GET AT AND TO SHOW TRUTH IS CHRISTIAN

I will begin by posting Chris [deleted]'s (of [deleted]) last two comments to me and then my reply. You can also read the whole thing beginning with Part 1. Unfortunately, Chris deleted much of the discussion when he killed it on his end on his blog.

I make this a post in the Series, because I believe that the lessons here rise to that level. I want to draw your attention to the lessons.

You are welcome to add your observations, questions, etc.

Chris [deleted] replied to my post that is Part 3, as follows:

Tom,

Your argument is based on a faulty premise that does not demarcate the characteristics of God from those characteristics that owe their existence to God.

You see, you are arguing that because grace and love can save at the same time and in the same sense then that means love and faith can save at the same time and in the same sense. In other words, because grace and love can be the source of salvation at the same time and in the same sense, then that means love and faith can be the source of salvation at the same time and in the same sense.

The problem with this argument however, is that it fails to demarcate the intrinsic characteristics of God from extrinsic characteristics which owe their existence to God.

You need to understand that when we are speaking of God we are talking about one who knows the end from the beginning. So how can faith be an intrinsic characteristic of God when it owes its existence to God? In other words, why would God have to have faith as an intrinsic characteristic while knowing everything?

I hope you can see where I am going with this...

Indeed, it is proper to say that love and grace save because they are the same source: that is, God. Hence, grace does not owe its existence to love; nor does love owe its existence to grace, because both are intrinsic characteristics of God.

Faith, on the other hand, is not an intrinsic characteristic of God because faith owes its existence to that which exists outside of itself. In other words, faith looks to something outside of itself for meaning and therefore owes its existence to something other than itself, which, in our case, would be God. Hence, God is the source of faith; and faith only exists because God's intrinsic characteristics allow it to exist.

So both love and grace owe their existence to nothing because they are intrinsic characteristics of God. Thus they are eternal! But faith is an extrinsic characteristic that wouldn't even exist if it weren't for God's love and grace. Therefore, faith is neither equal to love or grace as it owes its existence to them.

Tom, keep in mind that if God didn't create life faith would have no purpose. It is only because God created life that faith exists.

Therefore, faith can't be the source of salvation as it is dependent on the only one who can save: that is, God. So faith does not save you. God saves you. And because love and grace are intrinsic characteristics of God, you have an opportunity to exercise faith in Him who has the power to save.

Please understand that you are, in essence, exercising your faith in the fact that God is both loving and full of grace. Are you not? So how then can you say faith saves you when if it weren't for love and grace faith would have no purpose? Moreover, how can you say faith saves when it looks to love and grace as the source of salvation? Faith does not look unto itself as the source of what it looks to; rather, it looks outside of itself for meaning and purpose, which means it isn't eternal like love and grace are!

How is it that you can speak to me as though to give the impression that I am foolish and unlearned while making so grand a logical fallacy as this?

My advice to you, Tom, is to be humble. Your pride is keeping you from seeing the truth, which is why you place so little value on the ministry of Paul. You have no idea what that man went through for the sake of the gospel that you so love.

What you are saying about him is utterly shameful! And yet you have the audacity to belittle his ministry on the grounds that he didn't place as much emphasis on bringing forth as you think you should have?

Let's take a look at what Paul brought forth, both for your sake and mine!

"Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches." (2 Corinthians 11:23-28 NKJV)

What have you done for the sake of preaching the gospel that even comes close to this, Tom?

And before you answer this question, keep in mind that Paul lost his head for the sake of the Church!

Indeed, he brought forth more than you and I will ever know! And you should give him more respect than what you have been giving him. Your words against him are a reproach to Jesus Christ, because Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit and did what God called him to do with his life.

You don't even realize this but you are passing judgment on God by speaking evil of Paul in this way. And don't say you aren't speaking evil of Paul! That is precisely what you are doing! And your pride is keeping you from seeing this!

Tom, the bottom line is this: you are in error, not only on the matter of properly identifying the source of salvation, but also in how you speak about Paul who was filled with and led by the Holy Spirit to live and die for Jesus Christ.

Finally, it appears that you believe I am blind to what 'bringing forth' means for the Church; yet, if you would follow my blog more closely you would see that I have been following this theme throughout! For that is my calling, Tom! And I am doing the best that I can with what God has given me. It is unfortunate that you don't appreciate that. But I am not at all surprised by this, since it is evident that you didn't appreciate Paul either! And he was far greater a man of God than I will ever be!

As I had mentioned before, I did not want to get into a debate, as I don't like the spirit that debate engenders. And your haughty response to me surely justifies that point! So I would like to end this now, as I have more important things to do with the little time that there is left to prepare my heart for the time of trouble that is about to come upon us.

I will give you no further response. And I kindly ask you to end this.

I will leave you with these words however; and I hope you will allow the Holy Spirit to burn them into your heart!

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matthew 12:35-37 NKJV)

I realize that I had said that I wouldn't give another response. However, I want to qualify something I said so that no one will misunderstand my point.

When I said, "You don't even realize this but you are passing judgment on God by speaking evil of Paul in this way. And don't say you aren't speaking evil of Paul! That is precisely what you are doing! And your pride is keeping you from seeing this!"

I did not mean to imply that Paul is equal to God. What I meant by this is that because Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit, his ministry was reflective of what God led him to do for the Church.

Therefore, to devalue the work that he did in Christ is to speak evil against the One who guided Him to carry it out!

In other words, it is to pass judgment on God for leading him in that way.

My response:

I dispense here with the salutation, since you, Chris, have made clear your feelings,

Again, to anyone who reads this, don't read in a mean spirited tone of voice. It's not there. If you read it in, it's coming out from your heart, not mine.

Before I begin, I will simply inform readers that you sent me private emails. I say that because they might otherwise wonder about some of the back and forth.

Who know, I asked you over and over about the Christian Commons Project specifically, and you never answered. I also asked you if the "through" idea in grace through faith is original with you. You didn't answer. The reason you avoided the Commons question is self-evident. I wouldn't even be taking this position except you deleted the whole discussion over on your blog. You hold that it was divisive.

Of course it was divisive. You make division sound as if it's inherently wrong in all contexts. Yet, you've divided yourself away from me, have you not? Jesus came to divide didn't he? I'm not the one who disengaged and demanded an end. Even after that, you felt bold enough to come here and submit a comment to not leave an impression about you concerning Kevin. I still don't have the door locked in your face.

The discussion on your blog which discussion you killed was rightly dividing exactly what Jesus came to divide. Think what you will about it. Just don't be surprised when I don't buy what you're selling.

So, God created faith but not grace you say. When did God create faith? You must doubt that Jesus has faith in God. Jesus was in the beginning too, and he does have faith in God. That should turn on the light for you, but it doesn't. Why? Well, you refuse to look at things outside Aristotelianism and your training to date. That's your choice. You can view God and Jesus and Paul in the light of Aristotle if you want to. I'm not buying it.

Jesus had and has absolute faith in God. He knows. His faith and his knowledge are inextricable. They are in very truth, one. If you don't like this, there is nothing I can do about it. If you can't bring yourself to say openly here, "Oh, I never saw it that way before. Thank you for revealing that to me from the Holy Spirit that dwells within you, Tom," then that's that. If you don't want to expand your understanding of the term faith and its connotations and the multitude of contexts in which it may be used that go beyond what you have been heretofore led to appreciate or apprehend, so be it.

Chris, you go your way and I'll go mine. Never the twain shall meet. If you think that this grace versus faith issue as you see it is a prerequisite to proper ordering of things and to giving God all the credit, go ahead.

You used the term life in your comment to the exclusion of the understanding in the following:

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13 KJVR)

Believing there is having faith. It doesn't do what you claim. It does not deny grace or love or truth or peace or justice or anything else that is good (Jesus uses the term) as the source. If it's good, it's God. Faith is good. If you want only to look at faith from an Aristotelian perspective, then how can you find fault with the rest of Aristotle's teachings? He had no problem teaching Alexander who then went out to slaughter to gain the Earth and to engage in homosexuality until he was cut off in his iniquity. Aristotle's logic didn't prevent him from seeing the errors. Jesus's logic prevents what Aristotle did.

You used the term in the fleshly only sense. I have been speaking spiritually to you. You have used Aristotle to deny me.

You refuse to acknowledge that Paul was fallible. Yet he said Peter was fallible. Why not stand up for Peter? Why is Paul always right in your eyes? In whom do you have your faith? Do you look at Paul honestly or do you worship him blindly?

Just because I look at Peter and Paul as they were at the time not as Jesus, proper, doesn't mean I condemn either one. I don't condemn either or anyone. Paul went from arresting and persecuting and worse to trying to atone. That doesn't make him infallible.

Look, he made a huge deal about the ritualistic law and how he had been given liberality concerning it. When he went to Jerusalem and James was concerned, Paul shaved his head and took part in the ritualism. Yet, Paul rebuked Peter for sort of cowering around the other Apostles, including James. Paul was human. Peter denied Jesus, but Jesus forgave him. This is all part of the lesson. There are many, many other similar examples concerning the letters attributed to Paul. I also don't say here that I don't fall to the same types of errors. That's the point. If I don't look at them, I'll miss them in myself too. I won't be able to help others to move further either.

I'm not going to be forgiven where I don't forgive. I know that. I want the truth though, and Paul isn't the source for the best vision of that I've seen. Some of what he taught is exactly what I don't want to repeat. There's nothing wrong with my saying that. I want for this world to be the New World about which Jesus speaks. Two thousand years of the churches and we aren't even close to it. It hasn't been the focus. Stuff such as endless Aristotelian arguments (Paul was Hellenistic; it matters) over the Solas have consumed time and energies rather than bringing forth in faith. If you disagree, I'll say it over and over go your way then.

I read your comment and my post and what I see is someone who just went glossy eyed at much of what I wrote. You rehash the same thing over and over as if I haven't said anything. I comprehended your point the first time I read your post on your blog, Chris. I know exactly what you have been saying over and over. You believe that faith is temporal and fleshly when it is not exclusive to this realm that you think of as the here and now. Faith is eternal and spiritual too, Chris. If you don't see it that way, that's you. You and I aren't one concerning this.

Anyway, the thrust of my calling is bringing forth the Commons, something you run from into the waiting arms of endless hairsplitting where there isn't any hair in the first place. If that offends you, again, there's nothing I can do about that. If the shoe fits in your eyes, that's that.

If you want to argue over the Solas rather than moving ahead in greater understanding, you go ahead. I'm interested in bringing forth. Love, grace, faith, and self are one for me. God gets the credit from me for all four and more that wouldn't exist for me otherwise. I don't slice them and dice them. If you want to argue over which of those eternal parts of the word came first, go ahead. If you don't want to join in the Christian Commons, don't.

I also want directly to address your statement about Paul. There is the absolutely perfect and then there is everything else relative to it. To read what you've written, you make it sound as if I place Paul as Satan. Well, he's no more Satan than was Peter when Jesus called Peter Satan, which he did. You know it.

You don't ever consider the points that Paul made that fall to misunderstanding just as Peter misunderstood. You don't compare and contrast Jesus and Paul. You refuse to see anywhere where Paul did not teach in exact consistency with what Jesus was imparting. Well, I do, and that doesn't make me Satan. If what I've said about Paul is evil, then what Jesus said about Peter is evil too, only it's not.

You actually ask people what they've suffered to preach the Gospel. I don't wear my suffering on my sleeve. I'm not going to put it there in an attempt to impress you either. You haven't a clue as to what I've been through.

I'm sure glad for the other disciples that none of them stood up to rip Jesus for correcting Peter. Paul's off limits even though he put Peter within limits. Do you see any problem here with that?

My point about Paul was about his emphasis. You apparently think it was perfect. That's you. I don't agree. That doesn't make me Satan. It doesn't mean I'm being evil. I'm telling people to emphasize bringing forth the Commons much more than did Paul and giving all credit to God. You're avoiding it. You have avoided it from the very first reply on this website to you from me. You don't like the Commons. You're avoiding saying so. You're against it rather than for it. If you were for it, you'd have said so certainly by now.

It isn't right of you to decide for me where I hold Paul vis-a-vis anyone else. Jesus said Peter was Satan, yet he didn't throw Peter away. It isn't for you to decide whether or not I throw Paul away rather than discuss with him his vision just as he did with Peter. You're being presumptuous.

You're offended that I've used the term "bringing forth" repeatedly and you point to your blog, but you never engaged with me in the discussion. That's a fact, Chris.

So I'm haughty in your eyes, because I don't agree with you. Where did I say I was perfected? You deny me the rights you grant Paul.

As for your statement that you will give no further response, and that you kindly ask me to end this, I'll leave you with the sage words of my grandfather Usher. If you don't want to argue, shut up. Argue there is interchangeable with debate. Shut up means to hold your peace. If you want to read those words only in a harsh tone, that's you. Frankly, he was right. His words there don't offend me even when I aim them at myself.

God bless you, Chris.

Tom Usher

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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