Christianity: Is Salvation by Faith or Deeds?

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by Thoreau, Mar 14, 2011.

  1. Thoreau Valued Senior Member

    Is salvation by faith or works?

    This is a very important issue here. Our souls are at stake. Eternity stands before us. There are some people who have faith who are not good people and there are some people who do not have faith (or alternatively have faith in the “wrong” religion) who are good people. How does the Christian god decide who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell?

    For example, is Mahatma Ganhdi in Heaven or Hell? He was quite arguably a man of good works who contributed much to our world but he wasn’t a Christian. What about Torquemada, who was so devout in his Christian faith that he terrorized, tortured and killed thousands in its promotion? He was arguably a man of great faith and horrible works. Is he in Heaven or Hell?

    We should expect that, with the stakes so high, the Bible ought to make a point of being clear on this issue.

    It isn’t.

    There are passages that can be used to justify either view.

    Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

    John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

    John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    The list of verses goes on and on. See the following:
    - John 3:36
    - John 5:24
    - John 6:37
    - Acts 2:21
    - Acts 16:30-31
    - Romans 1:16-17
    - Romans 5:1
    - Romans 10:9
    - Galatians 2:16
    - Ephesians 2:8-9
    - Titus 3:5

    Yet on the other hand there are the following that support the opposite view, that salvation is by words, deeds and our ability to forgive others:

    Psalms 62:12 Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.

    Jeremiah 17:10 I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

    Ezekiel 18:27 Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.

    By no surprise, there are many more verses that support this view:

    - Matthew 5:20
    - Matthew 6:14-15
    - Matthew 7:1-2
    - Matthew 7:21-27
    - Matthew 12:36-37
    - Matthew 16:27
    - Matthew 19:17
    - Matthew 25:45-46
    - Luke 6:37:38
    - John 5:29
    - Romans 2:6
    - First Corinthians 6:9
    - Second Corinthians 5:10
    - Second Corinthians 11:15
    - First Timothy 2:15
    - James 2: 17
    - 1st Peter 1:17
    - Revelations 20:12
    - Revelations 22:12

    Has the jury reached a verdict? Are we judged by our faith or our works? It’s easy to understand why there is such a theological dilemma here, especially when you consider examples of non-Christians who are good people or examples of pious Christians who are cruel or sadistic. Piety and morality are, at best, unrelated. As an anonymous source put it, “Morality is doing what is right, regardless of what you’re told. Religion is doing what you’re told, regardless of what’s right.”

    Apologists may try to evade this question of their god’s justice by claiming that people like Torquemada aren’t “true Christians” even though they may profess to be. Are good people who aren’t Christians examples of people who aren’t “true non-Christians” even though they profess to not be Christians? We can’t logically examine this claim, since “true Christian” is such a nebulous term that defies objective definition.

    Now, here’s a dilemma for Christianity. Let’s examine the claim of First Peter 1:17. If Yahweh does judge each without partiality according to our works, that means that we can’t bribe him with flattery or faith. Without partiality must mean a far evaluation of our true character, regardless of what religion we joined in life. We should therefore expect him to judge the Hindu with the same standard as he judges the Christian. This would make Yahweh just and good but then what do we need religion for? What motive is there to convert others if salvation doesn’t hinge on that conversion?

    No religion interested in its own growth would claim, “Don’t worry about converting to the right religion, just be a good person. God is just.”

    On the other hand, if Yahweh evaluates us according to our faith, then Christianity abandons any pretense that their god is just or good. Heaven is offered as a reward while Hell is used as a threat. These are powerful motivations to convert others or to be converted but they do not reflect well on the morality of their deity.

    Any god who demands worship with the threat of Hell should not be considered worthy of it. Such a deity is both immature (thinking that love can be bought with bribes or extorted with threats) as well as evil (eternal torture for refusal to give love can’t be considered anything but evil).

    Now, in order for “salvation” to have any meaning, there must be a damnation to save us from. What in this natural word gives any indication that hell is real? We do not see a god that goes about smiting those who do not comply with religious laws (as often happens in the Old Testament of the Bible). There is no reason to believe that this jealous, insecure, attention-craving god exists at all. Our Creator is most even handed and doesn’t deny life or prosperity to those based on their creed.

    Is it more likely that God created Hell and will throw us into it unless we choose the right religion but left not a single indication as to which religion is the correct one (if any)?


    Is it more likely that Hell was invented by religion as a tool of control, with which they can intimidate both non-believers into joining and believers into greater obedience?

    We don’t see any indication that Nature’s God has any desire to be worshipped at all. Christians have created this concept of a god in their minds that is a powerful creator of the universe and yet so emotionally insecure that the requires the validation of sycophantic mortals.

    Ironically enough, it is this lack of demand to be worshipped that should make God worthy of being genuinely revered. Love can’t be bribed with rewards or commanded with threats. It can only be given freely and unafraid, out of sincere respect and admiration.

    Reason tells us to live our lives as well and productively as we can and let death tend to itself. It seems unlikely that we were put on this earth to spend all our time preparing for death. If there is a salvation message, we should be confident that God would have provided some means of telling us other than hearsay of alleged revelation.

    - J. Armstong
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2011
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  3. Me-Ki-Gal Banned Banned

    I will have to read trough your post better . Consider this : You are held accountable for your deeds on a day to day bases . Lets say I kill some one and I get away with it. Now is that going to haunt Me? where as I am looking over my shoulder for the rest of my life wondering if this will be the day I get caught . My life is riddled with suspicion and the act of killing is with Me as I live . I live in a type of hell from the deed .

    P.S, to the idiots out there . This is Hypothetical situation and I have not killed anybody
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  5. John99 Banned Banned

    MZ, is this a paste from J.Armstrong?
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  7. Thoreau Valued Senior Member

    Yes, hence his name at the base. I don't know the exact source. This is something I came across a few years back and saved.
  8. John99 Banned Banned

    Surprised you added the name in after the thread. What made you make this decision?
  9. Thoreau Valued Senior Member

    Um.... integrity??? LOL! Someone else wrote it, why would I ever take credit for it?
  10. John99 Banned Banned

    I dont know but we would have never known you didnt right it yourself.
  11. Thoreau Valued Senior Member

    Well, I'm not one to ever take the credit for someone elses accomplishments. Lord knows I wouldn't like it if I saw my own writings out there, posted under the assumption that they were written by the poster and not myself. I guess it comes from being a writer myself and having a high respect for the trade and a respect for integrity. I suppose that comes from also having served in the military. Who knows?

    But yes, I've been trying to find the exact source of this material but haven't had any luck. So, if anyone has any ideas where it came from, please let me know so that I can fully accredit the individual responsible.
  12. John99 Banned Banned

    Where did you copy it from?
  13. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    FFS! Do you bother reading replies?
    MZ credited the author. What more do you need?

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

  14. John99 Banned Banned

    I feel like i am married to this guy ^
  15. HeartlessCapitalist Ravager of Biotopes Registered Senior Member

    According to fundamentalist evangelicals, both go to Hell -- Gahandi for being a Hindu (=Satan Worshiper, in their parlance) and Torquemada for being a Catholic (=Antichrist, in the same).

    The same, incidentally, is true of the more famous dilemma that uses Hitler and Anne Frank in the places of these gentlemen.

    Most apologia I've seen defines that you aren't a true Christian unless you obey the ethical precepts of the Bible (and primarily the New Testament). Which would work as a definition, except every denomination have their own idea about how those should be interpreted.

    The problem is that this author assumes that "good" and "evil" are an extrinsic standard that he can appeal to and that stand above god. In Christian theology (or at least, Biblical), they aren't. Because while the Christian God is everywhere said to judge everyone's works impartially, he does it by his own standard. Which is Biblical morality, for example the Ten Commandments.

    According to the first of those, everyone who doesn't worship him is "evil" and is judged thusly. Regardless of whether he's a Christian who doesn't take the Bible literally enough or an Amazon tribesman who can't even imagine such a thing a thing as a written Bible.

    The Bible and the fundies who adhere to it define "good" as "God" and "morality" as "obeying God's orders". So they don't have this problem that atheists, agnostics and more liberal Christian professers do.

    There's no rational reason to believe any god, Creator or not, exists, period. But I don't see why a jealous god would be less likely than an even handed one, going by the evidence. We have exactly zero for either.

    Sounds like wishful thinking.


    Almost forgot to answer the question in the title. To the best of my understanding of the Bible, faith is what "justifies" a man so he can be saved. (Put forth in Romans and elsewhere.) But the faith must also produce works. (James, 1 John, etc.) So, according to the theology we're saved by faith, but works inevitably follow as a byproduct of it. If it doesn't, the fate isn't real, but only professed.

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