TF: Skip verse 10

Tribulation Force, pp. 53-55

Buck Williams spends a few more pages reviewing and admiring his miraculously complete Global Weekly cover story on the various theories circulating to explain the disappearance of every child on the planet, plus another few hundred million adults.

In that one sentence I've already described the Event in more detail than Buck seems to have done in his article. He's not alone in this — in the world of Tribulation Force, no one stops to ask who is missing, or why them and not anyone else.

That no unbelievers would be curious about such questions is yet another impossibility. This is what we humans do when confronted with the inexplicable: We look for patterns. Buck and the other new believers don't have to look for patterns because they already know what the pattern is. They know that all of the missing adults were real, true, evangelical Christians who believed that Tim LaHaye was right about biblical prophecy. Yet Buck bewilderingly chooses not to mention this in his article on the disappearances. Like every other piece of evidence he has proving What Really Happened, he withholds this information from his readers.

As we've already discussed, Buck never had or committed time to write this article. Even if we go with the theory that Buck had the chance to type it up on the plane back from Germany, it seems unlikely that everyone he needed to interview for the piece was on that same flight. We're about to consider Buck's conversation with the Roman Catholic archbishop of Cincinnati, for example — when was that conversation supposed to have taken place? Buck's painstakingly chronicled itinerary for the past 14 days did not include a visit to Cincinnati and we never read of him conducting any interviews by phone. (Our authors are not in the habit of skipping any detail of any phone conversation.)

But yet another reason Buck couldn't have written this article is that he just isn't up to speed on the subject. He has spent the past two weeks in a voluntary news vacuum. Bruce and Rayford have at least been watching CNN, but apart from their third-hand accounts of what they saw on TV, Buck has no idea what's going on in the world. He has picked up precisely one newspaper in the past two weeks, in which he read precisely one article — his own obituary. He has no way of knowing what theories might be circulating in the current of current events because he hasn't so much as dipped a toe into the flow of news.

And there ought to be an unmanageably vast number of competing theories circulating, not just because we humans seek and require (and invent) patterns to explain the inexplicable, but also because circulating a vast number of competing theories is part of Nicolae Carpathia's job.

This is Disinformation 101: If you need to cover up a conspiracy, spread a thousand false conspiracy theories. Nicolae needs to keep people from learning the truth about What Really Happened. He may not know, specifically, about Bruce Barnes or New Hope Village Church or Pastor Billings' video, but he'd have to anticipate that there would be people like that out there and that steps would have to be taken to make sure that nobody would listen to them. This wouldn't require any recourse to his brainwashing mojo or his preternatural powers of persuasion — all he'd need would be a sound studio to record hundreds of variations on Billings' "if you're watching this, it means I have disappeared" video. Most plausible explanations would fall under the broad categories of gods or aliens, but there are any almost infinite variety of such scenarios that might be retroactively "predicted" in these videos.

Another obvious step would be to commission dozens of "bible prophecy" experts to claim that the disappearances were the Rapture of the saints predicted in the Christian scriptures. These impostors would proclaim just enough detail from the premillennial dispensationalist truth, mixed in with just enough demonstrably false and easily disprovable nonsense, to discredit people like Bruce or Rayford once they started to speak out. "The Bible predicted all of this," Bruce would start to say, and everyone would think, "Ah yes, this bit. We've heard this and we know it's not true."

This would also of course be how Nicolae would deal with the "Two Witnesses" in Jerusalem. So Moses and Elijah are prophesying by the Western Wall? Very well  then, sprinkle a half-dozen more Moseses and Elijahs throughout the city. Have Abraham and Melchizedek prophesy by the Damascus Gate, warning people of the impending natural disasters that God is sending as a sign that they must obediently serve his chosen world leader. Send John the Baptist and John of Patmos to prophesy in the Kidron Valley and have Joseph and Daniel stake out a street corner on the Via Dolorosa. Dozens of pairs of "witnesses" would arise in every corner of the globe — William Blake and Emanuel Swedenborg in London; Haile Selassie and Simon Kimbangu in Addis Ababa; Edgar Cayce and Madame Blavatsky in Machu Picchu; Nostradamus and Joan of Arc at the foot of the Eiffel Tower extolling the prophesied savior, the "golden-haired son of Cluj who shall appear to many as like unto Condor, only without the sideburns." Equip them all with enough plants and pyrotechnics to make the trip-and-die guys seem like small potatoes (I'm assuming that Nicolae is at least as capable at this sort of thing as Jannes and Jambres).

Mark Twain noted that "a lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on." Buck Williams has already given the lie a two-week head-start, so if Nicolae is anything like the Great Deceiver he's supposed to be — or even if he were just a bush-league disinformationist along the lines of a Kim Jong Il — the whole subject of "theories behind the disappearances" ought to be irreparably polluted by now by a flood of falsehoods and half-truths and the white noise of a thousand videos, prophets, witnesses and experts.

Nothing like any of that appears in Buck's article, which seems to restrict itself to Rayford's explanation of PMD mythology and a smattering of tabloid-style theories that Buck seems to have gleaned exclusively from the tabloids.

The good news is that by avoiding any real engagement with any actual competing theories, by refusing to debunk anything, by neglecting to even mention the official explanation, and by omitting all of the evidence he might have presented for the real explanation of WRH, Buck frees up a lot of room in his cover story. He uses this room to offer an extended rant against the Arminian heresies of the papist infidels.

That's right. Buck studiously avoids any discussion of Darby, Scofield or Hal Lindsay, but he goes out of his way to present a caricatured rehash of the Diet of Worms.

Most interesting to Buck was the interpretation of the event on the part of other churchmen. A lot of Catholics were confused, because while many remained, some had disappeared — including the new pope, who had been installed just a few months before the vanishings. He had stirred up controversy in the church with a new doctrine that seemed to coincide more with the "heresy" of Martin Luther than with the historic orthodoxy they were used to. When the pope had disappeared, some Catholic scholars had concluded that this was indeed an act of God. "Those who opposed the orthodox teaching of the Mother Church were winnowed out from among us," Peter Cardinal Mathews of Cincinnati, a leading archbishop, had told Buck.

They probably first realized they were in trouble with their new pope when he chose t
he papal name of Calvin Zwingli I.

Buck decid
es to engage the archbishop in a theological debate. Because this Global Weekly article is obviously the appropriate place for that. And because Buck skimmed through the Gospels just the other night, so he's confident he knows the Bible better than this bishop possibly could.

Buck had been bold enough to ask the archbishop to comment on certain passages of Scripture, primarily Ephesians 2:8-9 …

OK, stop. Two things.

First, there's no way that Buck knows anything about the book of Ephesians. He's never read it himself and, since it's not one of the "prophecy" books, Bruce never read it to him. It's absurd enough that Buck is going around citing chapter and verse, as though he'd grown up doing Sword Drills in Vacation Bible School, but it's even more ridiculous that he would be citing chapter and verse for a chapter and a verse that we know for a fact he's never read.

The explanation for this miraculous knowledge, of course, is that the authors know this passage, and they can quote it from memory, citing chapter and verse. And since Buck here is acting as the authors' mouthpiece, he magically knows everything they know.

This destroys any hope the reader has of a realistic story with realistic characters, but it can also be kind of fun. Just watch this:

READER: Hey, Rayford! Bev's birthday is in April, right?

RAYFORD STEELE: Yes, the 30th.

READER: What'd you get her this year?

RAYFORD: Oh, I found this lovely butterfly broach, an antique with … wait, crap, I mean, um, ah … who is this "Bev" that you speak of? I don't know anyone named Bev. Irene, that's my wife's name, Irene Steele, not this Beverly LaHaye or whatever it was you said. And anyway I'm not supposed to be talking to you like this.

He falls for that one every time. And you should see what Buck does when you tell him that Gil Thorpe was never funny.

But let me get to the second point, namely this: Anyone who makes a habit of reciting Ephesians 2:8-9 without going on to recite verse 10 as well is a jackass.

Seriously. A colossal jackass.

Here's the first two verses, which ventriloquist-dummy Buck recites:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.

And here's the next verse, the next sentence, the second half of that thought:

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Now there's only one reason you'd ever quote those first two verses while omitting the third, and that's if you're doing what Buck is doing here — tossing out what you believe to be the Lutheran trump-card in some pointless, abstract and distracting argument over "grace vs. works."

Buck at least has an excuse — he's fictional, and thus on an even footing with the fictional strawman bishop he's debating here. But this same side of this same argument is presented  all the time in American evangelical churches, as though the fictional strawman Peter Cardinal Mathews were lurking in the lobby, just waiting to burst into the sanctuary to declare that we earn our way to heaven by doing good deeds, praying to Mary and buying indulgences.

Simply saying that evangelicals, like Buck, recite those first two verses without ever mentioning the third doesn't fully convey how emphatically they reject what Ephesians 2:10 has to say. They treat this verse like the 13th floor of a hotel. It's not part of their canon. I have sat through at least a half dozen sermons in evangelical churches during which the preacher read the first nine verses of this chapter and then launched into a condemnation of the evil works-righteousness of the evil good-works faction, concluding with, "So let's pick up reading at verse 11 …"

What elevates this strange behavior to the status of jackassitude is that these folks have allowed their fiercely abstract debate over the mechanics of soteriology to tie them into knots to the extent that, for them, "good works" is an epithet, an obscenity. To do good, to be good, is treated as an affront to the sufficiency of grace.

Here in Tribulation Force, LaHaye and Jenkins are gleefully proud of the way their spokescharacter in this scene is able to cite scripture to prove the evils of good works. After Buck recites Ephesians 2:8-9, carefully stopping before verse 10 (jackass), the archbishop is reduced to stammering:

"Now you see," the archbishop said, "this is precisely my point. People have been taking verses like that out of context for centuries and trying to build doctrine on them."

"But there are other passages just like those," Buck said.

Oh, snap! Buck is thinking as the authors high-five one another for successfully out-debating their fictional bishop.

Of course Buck left his personal comments and opinions out of the article, but he was able to work in the Scripture and the archbishop's attempt to explain away the doctrine of grace.

And thus we come to the point. Martin Luther believed in the doctrine of grace. Buck, LaHaye and Jenkins believe in believing in the doctrine of grace. The archbishop of Cincinnati did not believe in that doctrine, and so he was left behind. Pope Calvin was raptured along with all the other RTCs because he had come to believe in the gospel of salvation by belief in the proper understanding of the mechanics of salvation. RTCs are not real, true Christians because of the grace of God — they are real, true Christians because their sentiments are aligned with the correct side of the argument about the role of God's grace in salvation.

What L&J and Buck are arguing for here is self-refuting nonsense that swallows its own tail and it isn't easy to give a lucid description of such madness, but try thinking of it this way: They do not believe in Calvinism, but in Calvinism-ism. They believe that we achieve our own salvation by means of asserting that Luther, Calvin and Augustine were correct to say that we cannot achieve our own salvation. The logical implication of this would seem to be that Heaven will be populated with Calvin-ists and Luther-ans, but that Calvin and Luther themselves will be excluded. Those reformers mistakenly believed that God's grace would be sufficient to save them, not realizing — as L&J do — that God and grace are powerless apart from what really matters, which is our own assent to the proposition that grace is sufficient. To be saved, then, we need to say that God's grace alone is sufficient, but to mean by that that our belief in the power of our believing that we believe that is what is really sufficient to save us. Or something like that.

The point is that it is the authors and their mouthpiece who are here rejecting the doctrine of grace. The gist of that teaching is that God's grace is not dependent on our merit or worthiness — that's what "grace" means, after all. But the authors believe God's grace is dependent — that it is earned and not freely given. They believe grace is dependent on a correct understanding of grace, that it is contingent on whether or not its potential recipients can properly articulate how it works. They believe, in other words, in righteousness by works — but mental, or sentimental, wor
ks, rather than tangible one

This whole lengthy aside is particularly troublesome in the context of this series, which elevates the apocalyptic passages of the Bible over the rest of it. Those passages are not very hospitable to Calvinism, let alone to the authors' Calvinism-ism. The authors' favorite book, Revelation, ends with a relentless and emphatic litany of judgment based solely on deeds: "The dead were judged according to what they had done … Each person was judged according to what he had done." Or consider my favorite apocalyptic passage, Jesus' so-called "mini-apocalypse" at the end of Matthew's Gospel, the centerpiece of which is the parable of the sheep and the goats. That parable makes no mention of faith or grace or any other basis for judgment or salvation apart from how we treat "the least of these." Those who feed the hungry and befriend the criminals are saved. Those who don't, aren't. Period.*

Those passages can be reconciled with the idea of salvation by grace, but not in the way that Buck or the authors think of it. The idea — which is embraced by Catholics and Protestants, Calvinists and Arminians alike — is that grace is what enables the sheep to be sheep. God's grace is what affords us the possibility to be — in the Pauline phrase that jackasses like Buck so studiously avoid — created to do good works.

That idea leads to a workable doctrine of grace — something more like the original Pauline and Augustinian notion that Luther and Calvin sought to recover. It says, "Grace. Therefore works." Buck and the braying crowd of Skip-Verse-10ers would argue the opposite of that, "Grace. Therefore not works." So I guess I shouldn't be calling them jackasses. "Goats" would be more accurate.

The poor archbishop was constructed and inserted here entirely for the purpose of this anti-works-righteousness rant in defense of thoughts-righteousness, so he's not meant to be anything more than a straw-man embodiment of the worst evangelical fantasies about what it is that deluded Catholics believe. The authors won't allow him to discern any pattern as to who was taken in the disappearances, and they insist that he must be — like every character in Tribulation Force who isn't a member of the Tribulation Force — wholly ignorant of any aspect of PMD rapture mythology, and those restrictions force him to seem a bit dim. But all of that together gives the bishop an incoherence which is just about the closest thing you'll find in this book to realistically conflicted human nature.

He comes across as someone who is struggling to make sense of the horrific tragedy of the Event, someone who is desperate to reconcile such horrors with the idea that a just and loving God is still in control. So he starts by trying to talk himself into the "winnowing" of evil theory:

"The Scripture says that in the last days it will be as in the days of Noah. And you'll recall that in the days of Noah, the good people remained and the evil ones were washed away."

He's got a point there, actually. The bishop is referring to Matthew 24, where Jesus says that the end of the age will be like "the days before the flood":

… until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.

That last sentence is, of course, where the Left Behind series gets its name — Matthew 24:40 via Larry Norman's "I Wish We'd All Been Ready." But neither L&J nor Larry seemed to notice that the flood reference clearly shows that getting "taken" is bad while being "left behind" is good.** That's part of why I think this passage makes far more sense if read as a memento mori.

When Buck pointed out to the bishop that the disappearances also involved children and babies:

The bishop had shifted uncomfortably. "That I leave to God," he said. "I have to believe that perhaps he was protecting the innocents."

"From what?"

"I'm not sure. I don't take the Apocrypha [sic] literally, but there are dire predictions of what might be yet to come."

"So you would not relegate the vanished young ones to the winnowing of the evil?"

"No. Many of the little ones who disappeared I baptized myself …"

He's a straw man grasping at straws. He doesn't know how to make sense of what happened and he's willing to admit that, to confess, "I'm not sure." This makes me far more fond of him than I'm able to be of any of the cruelly certain characters the authors tell me I'm supposed to like.

Buck could have helped the archbishop. He could have opened his eyes to the pattern of the disappearances and explained the prophecies outlined on the back cover of the book, but he's no more interested in sharing that evidence with the bishop than he is in sharing it with his GW readers. So instead of telling the poor man what he believes happened — what he knows happened — he instead abruptly asks the guy "to comment on certain passages of Scripture."

"So you've lost many children from your parish, precious little ones you knew and loved yourself," Buck says. "Well then suck on this. Ephesians 2:8 and 9, bee-yatch! Aw yeahhh!" And then he spikes the Bible and starts doing his end-zone victory dance, leaving the poor man more bewildered than ever.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* This parable utterly contradicts Calvinism-ism's notion of salvation by assent to proper doctrine. The story suggests, instead, that salvation itself is unrelated to concern about salvation. The Son of Man tells the sheep that they are blessed and they reply, "I'm sorry, have we met? What's a 'Jesus' and what does that have to do with me?" They have no knowledge or understanding of the mechanics of salvation and it turns out they didn't need any. Soteriology is a red herring.

** The parallel passage in Luke's Gospel is more fun if you ever have to deal with a PMD in conversation. Be sure to use the King James Version when you bring up Luke 17:34 — "In that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left" — and then argue that a literal interpretation suggests that precisely 50 percent of homosexuals will be raptured.

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  • hf

    ‘The winners’?

  • Hobbes

    I’m tempted to just call them “Orthodox” but that kind of defeats the point that they weren’t the only option at the time. I would say that they are more Jewish than the other groups, which were usually philosophically Greek (especially in their denigration of “matter”), but they are less Jewish than the “Judaizers” that Paul was writing against in several of his letters.
    On the other hand, if there were 3 million “Orthodox” Christians at the time, and maybe a few thousand in each of the other sub-groups, I think “Orthodox” is a good term, since it was decidedly the most accepted option. It all depends on the relative size and acceptance of the various groups and ideas. Saying that David Koresh existed is certainly true, but saying that the Branch Davidians are a prominent alternative Christianity would e false. Gnosticism was popular enough that the early church spent a lot of energy opposing it, but that’s also because it fit nicely with the existing Greek philosophies.
    Soo… I’m not sure.
    The interesting thing to me about all the alternatives is that they do agree on primary things: Jesus existed on earth, he said certain things which were recorded, he died, and he was raised from the dead. They disagreed on the “What does it mean?” question and the “What do we do now?” question, depending on whether they were more Jewish (and which Jewish), Greek, Roman, or Persian in their philosophy. But they all agree that something happened, and now we have to explain it consistently.

  • Hobbes

    TypePad eated my post.

  • it would be like someone in 2009 circulating copies of Jane Eyre where Jane was an openly lesbian member of a biker gang.

    Throw in a rival biker gang led by a vampire and I’ll buy it.

  • Froborr

    There was not universal agreement that Jesus died: Some believed that Christ was wholly divine, with no human element, and therefore could not possibly have died on the cross. Of these, some believed that Jesus was a wholly human separate entity from Christ, and others that Jesus was an illusion created by Christ. The latter would obviously believe that the crucifixion and resurrection were also illusions.
    (Inspired by Valis, Foucault’s Pendulum, and the Xenosaga games, I spent much of 2005-2007 studying Gnosticism and Kabbalah with the intent of exploiting them for story-writing purposes. I concluded that they are psychic viruses — you start thinking about them, and they breed in your brain, and pretty soon they’ve eaten your mind.)

  • Hobbes

    There was not universal agreement that Jesus died: Some believed that Christ was wholly divine, with no human element, and therefore could not possibly have died on the cross. Of these, some believed that Jesus was a wholly human separate entity from Christ, and others that Jesus was an illusion created by Christ. The latter would obviously believe that the crucifixion and resurrection were also illusions.
    I don’t know that I would consider some of the 2nd century Gnostic traditions to be strictly Christian, but rather mystical religions with Christian symbolism. The farther away you get from “human”, the closer you get to “just an illusion”, which is decidedly not a Jewish idea.
    Even still, their very rejection of those views indicates that they believed the canonical Gospel events to be reliable, and therefore had to explain them within their particular belief system. Even if they believed that Jesus didn’t die, they still had to deal with the tradition that he had been crucified and appeared dead. Even if they believed that Jesus was wholly divine, they still had to deal with the tradition that he did and said certain things in bodily form.

  • Froborr

    Even if they believed that Jesus didn’t die, they still had to deal with the tradition that he had been crucified and appeared dead. Even if they believed that Jesus was wholly divine, they still had to deal with the tradition that he did and said certain things in bodily form.

    Um… yes? I never intended to say there wasn’t such a tradition or that it didn’t have a lot of followers. Still, there’s a difference between saying they agreed that something resembling the events of the canonical Gospels happened, and that they accepted the validity of those particular tellings of the events. I mean, we don’t even have such agreement today — as you pointed out, each of the Gospels tells a different version of the same basic story. Religious wars have been fought over less.

  • Jeff

    [[These things attract vultures.]]
    And there are vultures, vultures everywhere! [walks off with inge’s wallet]

  • Anton Mates


    In the subject of documents from antiquity having their details doubted, isn’t it true that Troy was thought to be fictional for a good chunk of history?

    Still is, really. It’s very likely that the Hisarlik site was where the classical Greeks and Romans thought Troy had been, and fairly likely that the artists-subsequently-known-as-Homer situated Troy there too. But the evidence for the Troy VII city being “the” Troy–that is, the place and time where one or more events chronicled in the Iliad actually happened–is very scanty. All we really know is that it’s one of many ancient sites where there was a city, and then it burned down (which was the final fate of pretty much every ruined city in history), and mmmmaybe it burned down during some sort of war, although not enough has been excavated to make the call on that. You could call it Troy based on that, but you could also call it Camelot or Gotham City.

  • Anton Mates

    And Froborr’s saying everything I would say re: NT reliability, only better, so I shan’t. (I really need to reserve at least two of my future lives for research into Roman-era Mediterranean religion.)

  • Hobbes

    @Froborr: I think you and I have reached the tomato point, as well. I think we both agree that there was a variety of Christianity back before the councils of Roman bishops started shutting down alternatives. (Btw, “Roman” is an excellent name for the winning group.)

  • Hibryd

    Late to the party here, but I just have to say that making the author’s stand-in, who has had all of two weeks of biblical study time, out-maneuvering an actual Bishop in quoting scripture might actually be the single most arrogant thing they’ve come up with so far.
    And yes, not sure how to say this Fred, but you’ve put a lot more thought into the logistics of ruling the world with an iron fist than Carpathia ever does.

  • Would Nicenean be useful, or is that far too late? (disclaimer: I know very little about the early church, to the point of not really being able to explain what was wrong with Gnosticism…)

  • Hobbes

    @Julie: That’s too late. The Nicean meetings were held specifically to declare some of these beliefs heresies and decide on a common theology.

  • hapax

    Hobbes, I think Roman would a lousy name, since so many of the formative early churches were actually Egyptian, Syrian, or Greek.
    And it’s important to remember that Gnosticism was a religious philosophy only tangentially related to Christianity. Some Gnostics were very Christian (or better, some Christians were very Gnostic), but there were Jewish Gnostics, Platonic Gnostics, Stoic gnostics, Gnostics attached to practically every mystery cult in the Empire and beyond.
    My college room-mate and I used amuse ourselves writing “Heretical Hymns”, to help us remember the basic tenets of various Late Antique and early Medieval heresies. Y’all have reminded me of the “Docetist Rock”:
    Rock of Ages, seems to be
    But he died not on the Tree
    And he’s laughing to one side
    ‘Cause the substitute just died
    God as Man? Don’t be too sure
    For the flesh, he’s just too pure!

  • inge

    Jeff: You can keep the wallet, but I am sentimentally attached to the cash, so you better return it.

  • interleaper

    “Irenaean”, maybe?

  • Ursula L

    Would “proto-orthodoxy” (note the small-“O”) work? At the point in time we’re talking about, the groups are not yet the recongizable groups that made up the main forms of orthodox Christianity as it developed. But they’re the precursors of those groups, and share the worldview that eventually became orthodox Christian belief.

  • Nenya

    @thirstygirl, this is the SECOND time in 24 hours that I’ve run into someone on the Internets who I vaguely knew before hand remarks that they, too, were raised in a Christian commune. (The last guy didn’t seem to think it fucked him up much. Me, well–we didn’t leave in the middle of the night, but we left on two weeks’ notice a month before school started. I’m glad we did leave, and have wondered the same thing, how many kids and how unhappily I’d be married now if we’d stayed.)
    Funny old world. *stops self from asking if it might have been the same group–there have been many*

  • ashley

    Finally, I can put my finger on what bothers me about my mother’s southern baptist theology. Thank you so much for this post!

  • Welcome Ashley! I believe this site’s host is a Baptist. As you can see, they have quite a variety in the fold.
    The book’s next chapter will be about a sermon. So it will try to set down the ideas and beliefs behind the book series, and our host will try to set down his understanding of how the sermon matches up with the faith. This can take more than one Fred-post, so if you don’t see something right away, check back soon.

    A delightfully short article that sheds light on this often misinterpreted verse.

  • John B Hodges

    I have an essay about the ethical teachings of Jesus, which incidentally goes into this question of what will get you into Heaven or keep you out. You don’t have to quote James or whoever wrote to the Ephesians to support the idea that works are necessary; Jesus says it many times, in many ways, throughout Matthew, Mark, and Luke. It even can be found in John, though you have to look for it. According to Jesus, very few will be saved, and to have any hope of it you have to DO all the things that Jesus tells his followers to do. Which is a very impressive list of tasks, if you collect them.
    The “salvation by belief alone” view, taught by Jack Chick and many, many others, is what I call the Tinkerbell Theory of salvation. Recall that scene in the original stage play of Peter Pan where Tink is dying, and Peter(?) appeals to the audience, “All those who believe in fairies, CLAP!” So, if people believe in fairies they will exist. Similarly, by the RTC doctrine, salvation is a free gift, all you have to do is accept the gift by believing that you have received it. “If you’re saved and you know it, clap your hands.”

  • John B Hodges

    I’m reading through the comments….
    Re. The King James Version versus others, “why don’t they do their own translation?”
    FYI though I’m no expert, don’t travel in those circles, but last I heard a lot of evangelicals like the New International Version. It was translated by a committee of 100 evangelicals, and according to the introduction, their translation was “informed by their theology”.

  • How are you. The first duty of a leader is to make himself be loved without courting love. To be loved without ‘playing up’ to anyone – even to himself.
    I am from Jamaica and learning to read in English, tell me right I wrote the following sentence: “pysqlite2.dbapi2.OperationalError: no such table: dict invalid dictionary: green_mountain (english)”
    Thank :) Shantay.

  • just some random gal

    WOW! Sorry for reviving this post, but I can’t believe it went this many pages without someone mentioning Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship and the idea of “cheap grace.” In it, he accuses Lutherans of precisely what was discussed here, that believing in the doctrine of grace is what saves you, and that doing good deeds and trying to live by Jesus’ teaching is somehow damaging to your spiritual well-being. He dubs this the justification of sin rather than the justification of the sinner, and says it’s totally twisting the message of Luther (and letting the Nazis take power).
    Also: the Chick tract on Catholicism that someone linked to? “Protestants believe that holy communion is symbolic”?!?!? I guess Luther wasn’t a protestant! *bangs head against wall*

  • Richelle McCullough-

    Here’s some irony for you:  the attribution in question to the lie travelling around the world is actually false. It was spoken not by Mark Twain, but actually belongs to CH Spurgeon, though the sentiment was earlier penned by Jonathan Swift. I like to think that the false-yet-oft’-repeated citation was started intentionally by someone as proof of point. Meta, indeed.

  • smijer

    I don’t understand “Apocrypha [sic]”. Who inserted the [sic]? You, or LaHaye/Jenkins? Is it because the bishop meant to say apocalyptic rather than apocrypha? Is it because the bishop would have used the term deuterocanonical instead of apocrypha? 

    Certainly there is apocalyptic literature that would is considered apocryphal, and does not appear in any modern canon of scripture.  But there is also apocalyptic literature in the deuterocanonical books (isn’t there? Esdras or something?), as well as in the protestant canon.