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Messages - D. Engebretson

#1
Your Turn / Re: Who are the Other Sheep?
Today at 11:34:49 AM
BTW, if God can and theoretically does save people apart from any actual confessed faith in Jesus, why not just embrace universalism?
#2
Your Turn / Re: Who are the Other Sheep?
Today at 11:33:15 AM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on Today at 10:43:05 AM
Quote from: D. Engebretson on Today at 09:24:35 AM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on Today at 01:39:12 AM
Quote from: Terry W Culler on Yesterday at 08:48:24 AMI am the Way and the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me. BTW, in MO, "Godself" is a ridiculous word referring to nothing.
Yes, Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Life. Should Jesus want to save a Native American who follows Native religions, Jesus can do that.

What I have found is that many Christians quote that passage; but they don't really believe it. What they believe is "The correct belief in Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Life." This is often indicate when they are asked, "Can Jesus save a Hindu?" And they answer with something like, "Only if they believe they have the correct belief about Jesus."

I've heard this observation many times.  It wants to pit a requirement of true faith down against a 'commitment to true doctrine.'  I have also heard the argument here more than once that if anyone is saved Jesus is ultimately responsible.  That's what it means to be saved by Jesus. In the end, faith specifically in Jesus and in the Triune God doesn't seem to be necessary. We just make sure to give the credit to Jesus, even if the person didn't specifically believe in Him.

It is a case of seeing saving faith as merely 'generic faith.'  Faith in a deity, a god-power, if you will.  Any acknowledgement that there is, as they say in AA: a "higher power."  Even if the person happens to believe in multiple higher powers or many deities, and even if they deny the divinity of Jesus Himself.

But does all that square with what our Lord says?  Does it square with what the Church has historically confessed; why they felt a need to have detailed creeds, for which long and arduous councils were held?  If it wasn't necessary to really have a true faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, why bother with all those words?  Why require them? Why confess them on Sunday morning? 

Many times I have read Jesus' words from John 11 at funerals and as people were dying:  "I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies..."  "In me," Jesus says, not some other deity.  And to believe in Jesus confesses Him as the second person of the Triune God. He confessed His own unity with the Father, His own divinity. But if a person is saved and heaven-bound simply through some generic faith in a deity however defined, why do we bother to assure people at death of what our Lord Jesus gives us through His own life? For that matter, why have a Christian funeral? 

Can God save a Hindu? A person who does not believe in Jesus as the Son of God? Who would deny His divinity? A person who believes in a myriad of gods?  I guess if He does, He simply throws His hands up and says: "Well, close enough. At least they didn't deny any sense of deity." Or maybe God accepts what I hear so many people claim today: 'Well, he lived a good life...' 
 
The difference, as I see it, is whether one emphasizes our human faith, a person who has enough of a proper understanding about Jesus, to be saved; or whether one emphasizes God's grace, the power that saves us through Jesus, even when our faith is smaller than a mustard seed. (Moved any mountains lately?) I emphasize salvation from God's gracious side, not our human knowledge side. If God wants to save a Hindu or an atheist, I'm not going to tell God, "You can't do that!"

It's not a matter of the quantity of faith.  I get the mustard seed idea.  It's a matter of which 'god' do you believe in?  If God wants to save a Hindu or atheist, who essentially denies the Faith, why all the talk by Jesus about how people are saved through Him?  Why not just tell Martha: I can save whoever I want.  Just trust me. 
#3
Your Turn / Re: Who are the Other Sheep?
Today at 09:24:35 AM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on Today at 01:39:12 AM
Quote from: Terry W Culler on Yesterday at 08:48:24 AMI am the Way and the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me. BTW, in MO, "Godself" is a ridiculous word referring to nothing.
Yes, Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Life. Should Jesus want to save a Native American who follows Native religions, Jesus can do that.

What I have found is that many Christians quote that passage; but they don't really believe it. What they believe is "The correct belief in Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Life." This is often indicate when they are asked, "Can Jesus save a Hindu?" And they answer with something like, "Only if they believe they have the correct belief about Jesus."

I've heard this observation many times.  It wants to pit a requirement of true faith down against a 'commitment to true doctrine.'  I have also heard the argument here more than once that if anyone is saved Jesus is ultimately responsible.  That's what it means to be saved by Jesus. In the end, faith specifically in Jesus and in the Triune God doesn't seem to be necessary. We just make sure to give the credit to Jesus, even if the person didn't specifically believe in Him.

It is a case of seeing saving faith as merely 'generic faith.'  Faith in a deity, a god-power, if you will.  Any acknowledgement that there is, as they say in AA: a "higher power."  Even if the person happens to believe in multiple higher powers or many deities, and even if they deny the divinity of Jesus Himself.

But does all that square with what our Lord says?  Does it square with what the Church has historically confessed; why they felt a need to have detailed creeds, for which long and arduous councils were held?  If it wasn't necessary to really have a true faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, why bother with all those words?  Why require them? Why confess them on Sunday morning? 

Many times I have read Jesus' words from John 11 at funerals and as people were dying:  "I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies..."  "In me," Jesus says, not some other deity.  And to believe in Jesus confesses Him as the second person of the Triune God. He confessed His own unity with the Father, His own divinity. But if a person is saved and heaven-bound simply through some generic faith in a deity however defined, why do we bother to assure people at death of what our Lord Jesus gives us through His own life? For that matter, why have a Christian funeral? 

Can God save a Hindu? A person who does not believe in Jesus as the Son of God? Who would deny His divinity? A person who believes in a myriad of gods?  I guess if He does, He simply throws His hands up and says: "Well, close enough. At least they didn't deny any sense of deity." Or maybe God accepts what I hear so many people claim today: 'Well, he lived a good life...'  
 
#4
I assume that if one were to produce scientists and their conclusions that agree with a more literal reading of the Bible (young earth, global flood, etc.), it would be discounted automatically as illegitimate.  If one then points to the Bible it is assumed that they discount all science, and are essentially anti-science.  I don't see, under those rules, where a discussion on "miracles and the natural/supernatural distinction" could effectively go.  On the other hand, if we deny a real Adam and Eve, adopt macro evolution, deny a global flood, etc., we would then be in the camp of most educated people and most serious Christians.  Is that the bottom line?
#5
Your Turn / Re: Who are the Other Sheep?
April 18, 2024, 09:21:50 AM
Quote from: John Mundinger on April 18, 2024, 06:57:12 AMSunday is Good Shepherd Sunday.  Although we hear different portions of Jesus' Good Shepherd discourse in the 3-year cycle, I ponder verse 16 every year.

I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

So, just who are those "other sheep"?  A plain read of the text suggest that Jesus will take full responsibility for those folks, without commissioning anyone else to bring them in.

How do we feel about being part of one flock, when the flock will include the "others"?



"The distinction makes evident that the salvific horizon of Jesus' death extends beyond the boundaries of the elect people of Israel.  While this 'courtyard' [or 'fold'] refers to the people of Israel, the 'other sheep' refers to the Gentiles.  The horizon is universal, encompassing all who come to faith, whether Jew or Gentile..."  William D. Weinrich, Concordia Commentary - John 7:2-12:50 (CPH, 2022), 445-446.
#6
So, if I understand correctly, identifying humans as male and female, based on their biological sexual identity, as it has been practiced since antiquity going back to the beginning of time (e.g. Genesis), is an example of "an artificial norm established by a society"?
#7
How does inerrancy "cloud or obscure the Gospel"?
#8
I have been a pastor between 36 and 37 years.  My main vocation involves preaching and teaching to people in my parish.  Labels aside, I have in all that time always begun with the assumption that the Bible is the Word of God. I do not assume that parts are not God's Word but rather the words of just men.  I may not immediately or always understand what I read, but I endeavor to do so using whatever tools may help.  I take the Bible as it is.  I do not begin by assuming it is anything other than the Word of God.  Now, it seems that such an approach, to some, is potentially damaging to a person's faith.  Yet, I have seen many over the years take great comfort from the Word taught and proclaimed in this simple way.  I have seen them close their eyes in death with the assurance of eternal life from this simple Word.  Call it what you will, but how is teaching and preaching what I read in the Bible as the Word of God so damaging to the church and the faith of people?
#9
An interesting addendum to my last post...

In Jonathan Haidt's book The Anxious Generation (2024), he notes:
The recent growth in diagnosis of gender dysphoria may also be related to social media trends...Within the past decade, the number of individuals who are being referred to clinics for gender dysphoria has been growing rapidly, especially among natal females in Gen Z. In fact, among Gen Z teens, the sex ratio has reversed, with natal females now showing higher rates than natal males. Some portion of this increase surely reflects the 'coming out' of young people who were trans but either didn't recognize it or were afraid of the social stigma that would attend to the expression and growing awareness of human variation are both forms of social progress.  But the fact that gender dysphoria now often appears in social clusters (such as a group of close friends), the fact that parents and those who transition back to their natal sex identity identify social media as a major source  of information and encouragement, and the fact that gender dysphoria is now being diagnosed among many adolescents who showed no signs of it as children all indicate that social influence and sociogenic transmission may be at work as well." (165)

Years from now, when even more data is collected, I wonder how pervasive we will find this "sociogenic transmission" to be, and how much less a diagnosis of the condition as natural...
#10
It would seem, in the minds of some, that the standards by which all things are judged and measured is current scientific conclusions, at least those that can claim sufficient proponents (for those with no faith, this makes sense). Minority judgements can never hold the same weight, even if their conclusions follow similar rigor and attention to the process. Some scientific conclusions hold up over time. Some do not. Some identify a truth, but not all of it.  We live in a time of great confusion. It appears that too much so-called science is left to follow current trends, a version of the 'tail wagging the dog.' In the discussion at hand one wonders if the vast variety of gender (or even species) identities would have been recognized if so many in more recent times had not subjectively identified as such.  But relativism often rules the day.

This argument is essentially at a stalemate.  But the confusion of our time is not alleviated. It remains.  And it impacts all of our culture.  Take women's sports, as an example.  You have feminists who oppose transgendered athletes who were born biological males competing against those born as biological females. Even Caitlyn Jenner, who while born a biological male has 'transitioned' to being identified as a female, and yet she alleges that trans women are "taking valuable opportunities" from cisgender women and "causing physical harm."  Confusion even in the ranks of the trans community...

But we are told that 'science' has now absolutely confirmed the legitimacy and certainty of these current identities.  I guess I'll wait this one out. 

#11
Your Turn / Re: Night Travelers on a Great Tundra
April 09, 2024, 09:07:42 AM
I found the commentary on therapy interesting.  I am certainly supportive of it.  As a pastor and chaplain I deal with a fair amount of mental health issues ranging from PTSD to depression and everything in between. I've also ministered to those impacted by suicide.

All that said, I am also much more suspect of some modern therapy in light of a bias I perceive against faith and traditional values (esp. Christian).  I am also quite concerned that some therapists have become influenced as much by popular social issues as by the so-called science of their craft.  One author I am currently reading talked about "concept creep" and referenced, among other items, the subject of abuse. Once narrowly defined, 'abuse' now encompasses a wide range of situations, including, it would seem, many who homeschool. 

Therapy, by design, must turn the person inward.  And turned thus some are turned away from the faith moorings they once knew.  Their faith is identified as part of the problem; a restraining aspect of their lives that must be removed to find true happiness.

Even in the 80s, when I first studied psychology, I was struck by the eclectic nature of the subject, and how one theory contradicted another, and few really agreed.  There was no real unity.  You simply picked a theory that appealed to you, or tried to blend them together, which always means one suffers at the expense of another.  Enter into that mix the idea of Christian therapy and you have an interesting juxtaposition of ideas fighting against each other. 

I don't have the final answer on this perceived dilemma, but as a pastor/chaplain I will honestly admit that I am now deeply concerned about the direction of some secular therapy.  I think that it can be divisive and destructive even as it attempts to be healing and wholesome.     
#12
Your Turn / Re: White for Easter?
April 03, 2024, 05:06:37 PM
Quote from: SomeoneWrites on April 03, 2024, 11:44:27 AMI absolutely loved liturgical colors. 

meanings do change, and the symbolism is arbitrary (in a good way).  If colors make you feel potentially persecuted, then there's a host of options. 

Orange is underutilized.   

In my part of the country orange is associated with hunting and safety vests.  Probably wouldn't work for us.
#13
Your Turn / Re: Interesting Report
March 27, 2024, 10:04:28 AM
Quote from: Jim Butler on March 27, 2024, 09:51:47 AMHere's my guess: the Church is the Lord's and will endure until He returns.

And if passages such as Matthew 24:12 and 2 Timothy 3:1ff and Rev. 2:4, etc., are any indication of the 'last days,' we should not be all that surprised....
#14
Your Turn / Re: The Age of the Earth and Truth
March 23, 2024, 04:33:03 PM
Aside from the debate on science vs. Bible (which with Pr. Weedon as Pr.Speckhard I will also avoid),I would like to know theologically how those who support evolution reconcile the implications of it with the rest of the Bible? Specifically the relationship of sin to death, as per Genesis 2:17 and Romans 6:23.  If I understand correctly those who yet hold to divine creation (albeit a form of theistic evolution)believe death existed from the very beginning. Man was supposedly dying before there was any concept or understanding of sin. And given the belief that there were pre-human species that predated man, as we understand it, at what point is sin relevant? Genesis presents a world deeply affected by the fall into sin.  Death enters in as God warned.  Yet all of this is meaningless if death was there right from the beginning.

And given the season we are now entering into, how does that impact the death and resurrection of Jesus? 
#15
Your Turn / Re: Forum Identity
March 16, 2024, 05:07:21 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on March 16, 2024, 03:38:43 PMAs I have often pointed out, it is not really the Bible that "says" such things, but our interpretations of the Bible.

Yes, you have said this often over the years.  But it still gives me concern.  If all that we  believe is simply a matter of private 'interpretation,' then the truth we confess is relative; it varies from person to person, church body to church body, etc. There are no real 'absolutes.' We can never really confess with a sense of "Thus sayeth the Lord" when we speak.  I feel as if I'm hearing echoes of: "Did God really say?" from Genesis 3. Thus, in every generation we can start over with a new interpretation and claim that it should be given authority equal to what came before.  Or that what we 'interpreted' really didn't' reflect what the Bible might actually be saying, but in the end we can't really be sure anyway, so it's a matter of 'you believe what you want and I'll believe what I want,' but let's not condemn each other's 'interpretation.'  If we doubt what the church before confessed (as in they had limited understanding, did not appreciate the modern advances of science, etc.), then it's fair game that what some interpret today is equally cast into doubt. So what is the church supposed to 'believe, teach, and confess'? 
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