UI – Part 505 – Anthropology and Soteriology
This title is a lead-in to man and his destiny. Big words, I know. We are dealing with life and life after death, our earthly existence and life post death. Is there an afterlife? If there is none, what does it matter? We die, we are either incinerated and converted to ashes, spread by our family or buried, to be eaten by the grubs, the maggots, that consume our flesh and leave our bones bare. What about the spirit of man? What about eternal life? What about predestination? What is the afterlife?
Anthropology is the study of mankind or humankind. It has nothing to do with kind humans. Societies, cultures, are analyzed, compared, discussed, and evaluated. How such societies or cultures were born, developed, what they ate, how they dressed, even sang and danced is subject to scrutiny. Also how they prayed, to what god they worshiped, and their survival. Politics, religion and integration of diverse interests within are studied. Societies and cultures are compared. This blog does that with respect to Muslim societies, majority and minority, as well as free societies. On the edges of anthropology is the animal element, the zoo of mankind, from ancestry, the evolving species, and environmental influences, the ecological impact, that results in todays man (and of course, woman or persons, OK, humans). There is the Darwinian component as well.
Soteriology is the study of Salvation. Are we saved, or is salvation, saving mankind, possible? Saving mankind is not by reference herein a discussion of peaceful co-existence. It is the hereafter. This is a study of the human condition, our sinful nature, our depravity, our goodness and our penchant for evil. Is there anything in the nature of man that enables a life beyond earthly life? Is the human condition reversible? Is there a future? Who is in control, man or God? Who is at the helm of the ship, the vessel boarded by every human, on the sea of life? Without exception every human is involved.
From and according to bible.org, on Salvation, “According to the broadest meaning as used in Scripture, the term salvation encompasses the total work of God by which He seeks to rescue man from the ruin, doom, and power of sin and bestows upon him the wealth of His grace encompassing eternal life, provision for abundant life now, and eternal glory” (Eph 1:3-8, 2:4-10; 1 Peter 1:3-5; John 3:16, 36; John 10:10)
Sin – Exists or Not
If you believe that sin does not exist, then you are not human. Christians believe in Original Sin, a result of the Fall in the Garden of Eden; that is disobedience to God from partaking of the fruit of the forbidden tree. In any fashion failure to obey God is sin; in the Garden there was a choice, to remain sin free, or to be stained with a sinful nature. Adam did not choose wisely and we are all now burdened with infected DNA.
Muslims, the ideology of Islam, suggests they are not born with a sin nature. But they do sin. What is a sin nature? If it involves choice and Muslims sin, as does everyone, prove me wrong. Muslims have the same tainted DNA as all humans. Show me a Muslim that has never sinned. Do not say Jesus Christ. Muslims are distracted from the instant they are born, or, giving them a break, a second after birth. Their eyes wander, their hands wander, and the head of man, the lower extremity, has an ideology to which they adhere that provides the male element of mankind a pass, leeway in life, to disadvantage women and children for their benefit. Muhammad created a male dominance in an ideology for living, prescribed for every Muslim, including women.
Thus all men, to include Christians and Muslims, are depraved. We all have a sin nature; our DNA is corrupted with sin.
Sin is permitted in Islam, as allowed by Scripture, no doubt Muhammad the example, and for men there were special sins considered OK. Islamists have their own categories of sin or no sin. They defy the universal ethical and moral universal truths that are noted in the bible. Killing an infidel (murder) is allowed, to advance Islam; non-Muslim women as slaves, that is just fine; marriage to female children, as long as they are at least 7-9; sex with children, girls and boys generally ignored, but if a man has sex with a man, relations that of a homosexual, the punishment is death. For those born sinless, they certainly make up for it as their lives progress.
Christians find faith in Christ a pathway to salvation. It is not as simple as it sounds. More on that as we proceed.
Islamists, or Muslims, they are told, need simply lead an Islamic life as prescribed in the Quran, and in total obedience to Allah, never forgetting the example of Muhammad as a lead-in to the afterlife, and they can earn their way into Paradise (or heaven). You, as a reader of this blog, have certainly heard of the rewards available to the Islamist who achieves the right to paradise. They win the lottery, with one condition, regardless of how good they are, the infidels they have killed along the way, even their martyrdom for Allah. That condition is the final decision is Allah’s. And remember Allah is the best of deceivers. Allah encourages Muslims to deceive to achieve Allah’s objective, but at the same time Allah deceives as well, and that includes Muslims. So there is no guarantee for a Muslim?
Are all Muslims being duped? Are they constrained by the life of Muhammad, the dictates of Allah in the Quran, selected passages from thousands and thousands of Hadiths, and the daily reminder that death is the punishment for those who question, doubt or leave Islam, whether born into Islam, converted into Islam or forced into Islam?
There may not be a guarantee for a Christian either, but the chances are a lot better if a Christian truly believes in Christ. They are saved, assured salvation, justified by their faith in Christ. It is not what they must do to be saved, but what has been done for them. Earning salvation cannot happen for the depraved human as nothing can erase his sin nature, with the exception that Christ took the punishment we all deserved for our transgressions, past, present and future. Christ dying on the cross, being buried and being raised from the dead, overcoming sin and death, God’s sovereign grace, made man right anew with God. Forgiveness was all encompassing; repentance is what is needed. Atone for your sins and find a life eternal, justified by Christ’s sacrifice (for you and me).
Free Will/God’s Grace
From an anthropologic viewpoint man can make choices. Let’s use the oft used and understood term, “Free Will.” From a soteriological viewpoint let’s consider God’s hand in all this. Where God is involved does man, mankind, have a choice? Does the Free Will of man have an impact on their salvation?
This is a timely discussion in light of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s declarations posted on the church in Wittenberg, Germany.
Christ died on the cross to save mankind, taking the punishment for their sins; he was witnessed by many in death, buried and after three days the tomb was empty. He had Risen, overcoming sin and death; witnessed in his Risen state over a period of 40 days, appearing to hundreds, and then arose; followed by the Holy Spirit (Pentacost) descending and dwelling in those who accepted Christ and his sacrifice; the Grace of God. Was there a choice to be made?
Does man choose to accept the Grace of God? Martin Luther was passionate and adamant that God’s grace was not a choice, that all humans are depraved and remain so, as no one is righteous in God’s eyes, not one. Yet God provided that which man required to be made right with God. From a free will perspective the question asked is can man be good, or can man choose good over evil? There may be moments, Luther would answer, but given time all humans will be bad, or evil. Humans who work hard, eventually achieving power, often change in their nature, that change a reversion to the depraved nature of man.
That which God provided through Christ was Sovereign Grace. It is the work of God, not anything man does or did. What still remains is, “do we choose to accept God’s Grace or do we choose to reject God’s Grace?” Inherent in the term “choose” is free will. The question is a moral and spiritual one, that of a depraved man, all humans, being free, are they able to do good, good enough to attain eternal salvation?
Man, by Luther’s standard, can do nothing that is spiritually good. Man’s free will is in bondage to God’s intent. Man is blind to his corrupt nature, the stain of sin. That satisfies the devil. Sin is ungodliness and wickedness. We all deserve the wrath of God. Unable to do for himself that which is necessary to be saved, God did it for man. Justification is from God’s Grace, which is the opposite of doing, or earning salvation.
God acts, Christ is punished for all man’s sins, and man can only react, a positive response resulting in conversion. God’s Grace actively, purposefully, and positively transforms the believer.
This year is the 500th anniversary of Luther nailing his 95 thesis to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany (October 31, 1517). The Catholic church was challenged for requiring penance, doing penances, indulgences, to achieve the kingdom of the Lord. The requirement to pay for forgiveness was questioned as an error in the Word. Repentance was the requirement, as Christ provided forgiveness. The Protestant reformation began as the priests as appointed (by the Catholic Church) intermediaries between man and God were not necessary. The Bible, the Word of God, provided all that man needs. The answers are there. Luther called the faithful the “priesthood of believers.” We have a direct line to God. He speaks to us all through the Word. Read the Word, teach the Word, believe the Word, speak the Word and all the answers you need are provided.
God is bigger, greater, grander and transcendent. Pray to God. He loves you and wants to hear from you. He offers his hand in a relationship with you through the Word. Go big in your prayers and enjoy the benefits of Grace.
Thanks be to God. Thanks also to Martin Luther and William Tyndale (convicted of heresy, strangled and burned in 1536 for translating the Bible into English).
Grace and Peace