Wednesday, November 07, 2007

More mile high differences.

I am still on the trail of distinguishing propter Christum versus propter fidem (see previous post).

I think we may determine where we are standing based on the hypothetical question that God may ask of us. The question is this; how shall we answer God if he asked us - why should I let you come into my heaven?

How we answer this question will say where we are standing. We will set aside the answer "because I was a good boy". We know that won't wash because it would not answer why Jesus was on the cross.

One can answer the question in the following ways, then...:
a.) "because I believe Jesus died on the cross for me"
b.)"because Jesus died on the cross for me".


Notice that the difference is subtle and may seem faint, but again, they are worlds apart, they are as different as night is from day.

With a.) you are still inserting yourself or what is inside you into the equation. Here one is still posing to God what is happening in one's self, and hence, I would say you are doing a propter fidem. To be honest with you, I think this view reduces in effect to the Roman Catholic understanding of justification. I am sorry to say, but you would be practically functioning as an RC in your understanding of the Christian faith.

With b.) we are giving as plain as the answer can be given, there is nothing about you doing or having anything, it is just Jesus doing something for you. Here Jesus comes in between you and God. Sure, you do believe, but you are confessing what you believe, that He did it all for your sins. I would say this is propter Christum, none of you but all of Christ - solus Christus.

I heard Dr. Nagel said one time in a broadcast of Issues Etc, saying that - when you go to the Bible (I think he meant in the Epistles), each time you see "faith" substitute in its place "Christ" and you will understand what being justified through faith means. So for example we can get Romans 5:1 and try it there. Did you see the effect? Nagel's substitution works because Jesus' death, burial and resurrection is for our justification.

If you asked me, I think, Dr. Nagel's advice is pretty good.


Kelly Klages said...

Faith itself is so nearly nothing. It's like the emptiness that receives its object. Not that it isn't direly important, of course, but it's only as good as the object it embraces. That's probably what Dr. Nagel is getting at with the "Jesus" substitution.

Why would God ask me why he should let me into his heaven? Christ is in me and I'm in Christ. He's seated me in the heavenly places already. Dying will just make all that a little more visible. :o)

This might be another difference between popular evangelical versus sacramental understanding of faith. Heaven might be something that we look forward to, and something that is thought to be guaranteed for us if we're an evangelical, but it's far, far away. It's something we try to ascend to through our worship efforts and experiences rather than having it actually descend to us through Christ and his gifts.

Kelly Klages said...

(By the way, I just read the comments in the post below where the same point about faith that I was talking about in my first paragraph was also made. Sorry for the repeated idea...)

L P Cruz said...


True ideas repeated again and again is still true, like the Gospel ;-) so all is well.

There is a pre-occupation on faith because the brat in us(to use David's terminology) likes to "do" something. Hence, the brat wants to congratulate one's self that he has faith. In my former circles there is so much talk on how to's of faith and all of that, simply because it is believed that it is what get God to do something for us.

Notice too that in propter fidem there is no mystery, all is figured out, all questions answered. It is the mechanics of faith that counts.

BTW, I went to the post office but they won't issue me Canadian $. I will go to the bank tomorrow and let you know.

I will link to your Christian art work later.


Past Elder said...

This fits, btw, very well with the title of your blog.

Faith is something in me. When I point to faith, I point to something in me, to me. When I point to not the faith but him in whom I have faith, it is not me, not us (the people of God or some such post-Vatican II stuff) but extra nos, outside us, indeed.

Because of Christ, not because of my faith in him.

Nothing new. Luther had this in his time too, and he called them enthusiasts, from the literal Greek meaning of the word. And as Kelly points out, God is within us, but, not by nature but starting from outside us, so to look for God within is to find only self at a previously unsuspected degree.

L P Cruz said...

Past Elder,

The popular articulations of the Christian faith that I heard and still hear today focus on what is in us, it is a recipe for despair.

Faith is played up so much because this is viewed as a work that can be generated (Arminian view) or God helps you to believe (Calvinistic view). It really is a gift, it is a creation of God from nothing, God does not help me believe as if there is a seed there and all it needs is nudging.

BTW I visited that post by Pr Will, I will try and figure out some more what that article is implying.


Doorman-Priest said...

How about "Because Jesus died on the cross for me and I believe it"?

L P Cruz said...


No need to add ourselves in as part of the reason, b.) is sufficient as well as Biblical.

When we answer the hypothetical question with b.) we are actually confessing a fact to which 1 Cor 15:3. Yes we do believe it but because it is fact.


Peter McKeague said...

So much popular evangelicalism focuses on people 'getting saved', meaning coming to faith, usually expressed as 'accepting Christ', 'making a decision for Christ', 'receiving Jesus into our heart' - all rather dubious definitions of faith, but definitely placing the emphasis on us and what we do, what is in us. This is often made worse by emphasising our alleged free will in the matter, our choice to receive Jesus or not. The other piece of nonsense frequently heard is that the Holy Spirit is a gentleman, and will not come into our lives unless invited. I don't think that's quite what Jesus had in mind when he told us to ask for the Spirit. Thanks for your remarks, they are spot on.

L P Cruz said...

Fr. Peter,

When I was very young in charismania, we even sang a song 'He was there all the time, waiting patiently in line...' So they depict Jesus as a poor man waiting on a queue for our attention... poor Jesus can not do anything until we allow him - because respects our might Holy Will eh?

Thank you for your linking my blog and for your visit.

BTW, I know Beechwoth - that is Ned Kelly country, they got lots of apple juice there. I have been there couple of times.



David said...

Bro Lito,

Indeed we are certainly befuddled if we were to look at our faith instead of Jesus crucified and risen. Dr Nagel is best noted for pointing people to Jesus and His gifts for us.

The difficulty remains for our brothers and sisters in evangelical and Roman Catholic circles. Although they participate in baptism and the Lord's Supper they are not taught to believe in those gifts. But rather are told they are obligations to perform. How tragic if is this loss of peace.

It is understandable that they are left to look within to find out if saved or not. All people are natural theologians of self glory so it is an easy sale to have them look within.

It is our privilage to show them the true meaning of the sacraments, point them to Jesus and away from themselves.

God's peace. †

L P Cruz said...

Bro. David,

Additionally in my observation, when faith is placed as the be all and end all - the sacraments really mean nothing in the end. Do you observe the same, i.e. when faith is hailed as the supreme gotta-have, Baptism and the Supper are -- well, works we do


J. K. Jones said...


I may have posted this in a comment on your site earlier, but here goes again. This is a hymn in my church's hymnal:

"And when before the throne,
I stand in Him complete.
Jesus died my soul to save,
my lips shall still repeat.

Jesus paid it all,
All to him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow."

J. K.

L P Cruz said...


I love to sing it too.