This posting is my attempt to recover the "greatest post ever" that was lost the other day.
The other day I was listening to a lecture given by Dr. David Calhoun on St. Augustine and how he essentially recovered the doctrine of grace for the Church. After the lecture, a question was asked regarding the people who called themselves Christians for the centuries preceding Augustine. After all, if they didn't understand or believe in grace, how could they be saved?
Dr. Calhoun's response was, I think, well said. His point was: we are saved by grace not what we know or believe about grace. I think this is important for us to remember. In the theological and denominational circles I am most closely associated with, there can often be an attitude that belief in doctrine is what saves people. At the very least, people give the impression that the better your doctrine, the better you are saved. This, of course, is ridiculous. We are saved by Christ. The instrument of our salvation in Christ is God's grace. And, the conduit through which we receive God's grace in Christ is faith. But, it's not faith in the doctrine of grace, or the doctrine of predestination, or the even the doctrine of Christ--it is faith in the Jesus Christ the person that is the key.
After all, none of us completely understands grace. In fact, none of us has perfect faith in Christ. But, because of God's grace that He offers to His people in Christ, the amount of our knowledge or the strength of our faith are not the crucial factors. God's commitment to show us grace in Christ overrides our ability to know or believe. So, while ancient Christians may not have had a well-rounded grasp of the doctrine of grace, if they believed in Christ and therefore trusted in the same gracious God that I do, then their salvation is no less certain than mine.
Realizations like this is one reason I love to study Church history. If I can learn to respect and love fellow Christians from the past despite their differences from me and despite their faults and foibles, then maybe I can learn to love my contemporary fellow Christians despite their differences from me and despite their faults and foibles. And, in the process, maybe I will become a little more lovable to my fellow Christians, despite my many faults and foibles.
boon-dog-gle: (noun) work of little or no value done merely to keep or look busy.
free: (adjective) provided without, or not subject to, a charge or payment.
"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."