Saturday, 20 December 2008

How Much Knowledge is Necessary?

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

These thoughts occurred to me in connection with the theoretical question, "Can a Jehovah's Witness (or, I suppose, someone in any other religion) be saved?" It is not my intention here to attempt to give a firm answer (as if one could even be given) or even express a firm and final opinion, but merely to raise and discuss some questions on the matter.

My first response to such a question would be, "I don't really pretend to know. God can, I suppose, save anyone He wants." But my thinking was drawn to the verse above in particular.

Now, leaving aside the first part of the verse, about God wanting all men to be saved, and the meaning of which is itself the subject of endless debate, what I wanted to do is to notice the parallel between the two concepts, that of salvation and coming to a knowledge of the truth. Obviously, there is a connection. To be saved somehow involves coming to a knowledge of the truth. More endless debate is possibly here about the "ordo salutis", the order of salvation, but at the very least, God tells us that salvation will involve our realizing certain truths of which we were unaware before our being reborn to this new life. The question is, as I entitled this post, how much knowledge of which truths is enough.

There is enough disagreement on certain matters of the Christian faith in any group of believers to make one wonder. It is not my intent to give an exhaustive list, but one of the areas where there seems to be one of the greatest variety of views, is in eschatology, or end times. Another area, with fewer views, perhaps, but no less firmly held, is in the matter of baptism (not whether baptism is commanded, it is, but in its manner and timing.) Now we are all indwelt and guided by the same Spirit, so how can we differ so greatly in these and other areas. It occurs to me that these areas must not be essential to our salvation, but secondary matters, no matter how passionately we may believe our own position to be correct.

But back to my original theoretical question, can a JW, for instance, be saved? Well, first, I would rephrase the question to be, "Can a person be saved and still retain the beliefs of the Jehovah's Witnesses?" And my short answer would be, "I don't think so." There are certain fundamentals that are so necessary to our faith that I believe their acceptance is a necessary condition of our salvation.

Again, not to attempt an exhaustive list, but one of these is the divinity of Christ, and consequently, the doctrine of the Trinity. In short, if Christ is not God, we are not saved, for the death of a mere man, or other created being, is insufficient to accomplish our salvation.

Another area a JW would have to change would be to fully accept the concept of salvation by grace through faith and not by our works, because if we think that in any way we can earn God's favour by our own strength or goodness, we diminish Him and place ourselves in some way in a position of equality, if not superiority, to Him.

These are just a couple of areas of my own thoughts on the matter, but in the end, all knowledge of truth comes from God anyway. Some of it He gives at the moment we are saved, and some is a learning process in our Christian growth.. In any case, He will make sure that we know what we need to know.

Take Care

1 comment:

Atticus Finch Jr said...

"Another area a JW would have to change would be to fully accept the concept of salvation by grace through faith and not by our works, because if we think that in any way we can earn God's favour by our own strength or goodness, we diminish Him and place ourselves in some way in a position of equality, if not superiority, to Him."

JWs do not believe in salvation by works. There is no earning of God's favor. Christians are to strive to do his will and to serve him.