Atheist and anti-theist Bob Seidensticker, who was “raised Presbyterian”, runs the influential Cross Examined blog. He asked me there, on 8-11-18: “I’ve got 1000+ posts here attacking your worldview. You just going to let that stand? Or could you present a helpful new perspective that I’ve ignored on one or two of those posts?” He also made a general statement on 6-22-17: “Christians’ arguments are easy to refute . . . I’ve heard the good stuff, and it’s not very good.” He added in the combox: “If I’ve misunderstood the Christian position or Christian arguments, point that out. Show me where I’ve mischaracterized them.”
Such confusion would indeed be predictable, seeing that Bob himself admitted (2-13-16): “My study of the Bible has been haphazard, and I jump around based on whatever I’m researching at the moment.” I’m always one to oblige people’s wishes if I am able, so I decided to do a series of posts in reply. It’s also been said, “be careful what you wish for.” If Bob responds to this post, and makes me aware of it, his reply will be added to the end along with my counter-reply. If you don’t see that, rest assured that he either hasn’t replied, or didn’t inform me that he did.
But don’t hold your breath. He hasn’t yet uttered one peep in reply to my previous 28 installments. Bob (for the record) virtually begged and pleaded with me to dialogue with him in May 2018, via email. But by 10-3-18, following massive, childish name-calling attacks against me, encouraged by Bob on his blog (just prior to his banning me from it), his opinion was as follows: “Dave Armstrong . . . made it clear that a thoughtful intellectual conversation wasn’t his goal. . . . [I] have no interest in what he’s writing about.” And on 10-25-18, utterly oblivious to the ludicrous irony of his making the statement, Bob wrote in a combox on his blog: “The problem, it seems to me, is when someone gets these clues, like you, but ignores them. I suppose the act of ignoring could be deliberate or just out of apathy, but someone who’s not a little bit driven to investigate cognitive dissonance will just stay a Christian, fat ‘n sassy and ignorant.”
Bob’s words will be in blue. To find these posts, word-search “Seidensticker” on my atheist page or search “Seidensticker Folly #” in my sidebar search (near the top).
In his article, “Top 20 Most Damning Bible Contradictions (2 of 4)” (10-22-18), Bible-Bashing Bob pontificated:
Addendum: Or maybe it’s repentance that saves . . .
What if it’s repentance?
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord (Acts 3:19).
Repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:47).
The Bible teaches that we are saved by grace through faith, with good grace-generated works (freely done) inevitably manifesting themselves and being the proof of genuine faith, in the regenerated person (and regeneration comes through baptism, according to the Bible). All of this is made possible by Jesus’ death on the cross, as mankind’s redeemer and savior.
Except for the baptismal regeneration aspect (rejected by a fairly small minority of all Christians — but not, alas, by Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism), virtually all Christians agree on what I summarized as the requirements and nature of salvation.
The many subtleties and fine points of how it works in standard Christian soteriology (theology of salvation) are clearly way over Bob’s head, but not over the heads of thoughtful, educated Christians, who (quite unlike Bible-Bashing Bob) actually seriously study the Bible. I write about all these things, in scores and scores of articles on my Salvation & Justification web page.
Repentance is clearly the initial human response at the beginning of the process of salvation, above the age of reason (around seven or so). We have to be sorry for our sins in order to be forgiven of them (it’s a two-way transaction): all the way to a hoped-for eventual salvation and entrance into heaven as a reward and fulfillment of all the deepest human desires and yearnings. The whole thing is enabled and made possible only, or ultimately, by God’s free gift of grace. That said: repentance is presented as the first thing humans do in the process: even before baptism (in the case of adults).
I fail to see why Bob thinks that this is a case of biblical contradiction. The Bible teaches that all these factors play into salvation. It’s not contradictory. I document this in my paper, St. Paul on Grace, Faith, & Works (50 Passages). It’s merely a case of many harmonious factors being involved in one broad thing that the Bible calls salvation or being saved; getting to heaven. Thus, the Bible presents repentance in conjunction with all these other variables: not as contrary to them. I shall now prove that, with the use of a handy Bible search tool:
Repentance and Faith
Acts 20:21 (RSV) testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance to God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
Repentance and Works
Revelation 2:5 [Jesus speaking] Remember then from what you have fallen, repent and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
Repentance and Baptism
Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Repentance and Salvation
2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death.
There is no problem whatsoever here, let alone a “contradiction” in the Bible” supposedly, between repentance and any of these other aspects of final salvation.
Photo credit: Mary Magdalen Penitent (1585-1590), by El Greco (1541-1614) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]