Good Conduct

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  • Good conduct
    • Importance for Christians
      • Different views
        • Christians should obey the teachings contained in the word of God
        • The kingdom of God will be realised on earth through the way in which Christians care for others
        • Christians give glory to God by the way in which they live
        • Individual good conduct will be rewarded with eternal life in heaven
      • In 16thC Western Christianity was torn by reformation into Catholic and Protestant- an area they disagreed on was justification
    • Justification by faith
      • 'Justify'- Greek word with legal connotations
      • Paul and Martin Luther= 'to be justified' is to be counted by God as righteous and so able to have a relationship
      • It is 'eschatological'= concerned with the ultimate fate of humanity
      • Paul
        • Found in Paul's letter to the Church in Rome
        • Before conversion, he was frustrated with his inability to earn a good relationship with God by following Jewish Law
        • Righteousness cannot be earned by following the Law, because all humans have sinned (original sin), so to be judged righteous by God can only be a free gift, from God's grace
        • Faith doesn't justify a believer, the faith is a response to the gift of grace
          • The believer is then at peace with God, arising from a new relationship with God
            • "Abram believed the Lord and he credited it to him as his righteousness" Genesis 15:6
        • Humans are invited to respond to God's offer of salvation and eternal life with faith
      • Martin Luther
        • Started the Reformation in 1517, attacking the corruption in the medieval Catholic Church
        • Set out a simpler religion that was based on scripture and personal faith
        • 'Sola fide'= by faith alone
        • Faith of the believer is passive; justifiication comes by what God achieves through the atoning death of Jesus
        • Good conduct shows someones faith but has no saving value
        • "...a Christian being consecrated by his faith, does good works; but he is not made more of a Christian. That is a effect of faith alone." ML, Concerning Christian Liberty
    • Justification by works
      • New testament letter of James
        • "As the body without a spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead." James 2:26
        • Faith on its own is useless: doesn't keep a poor person warm, even demons believe in God
        • Faith is expressed through works: Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son for God
      • Parable of the sheep and the goats
        • Judgement will be based on the individual's help for or failure to help those in need
        • No mention of faith, it's universal "before him will be gathered all nations"
      • Sermon on the Mount: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will end the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" Matthew 7:21
    • Justification by faith and works
      • Position of Catholic Church in Counter Reformation
      • Justification is God's gift to humanity
      • Given through the atoning death of Jesus and through baptism
      • Holy Spirit enables us to live good lives
      • Responding to God's grace by living in a way that pleases Him is an integral part of the process of salvation
      • "This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe" Romans 3:22
    • Predestination
      • Paul
        • God's purposes could not be known or understood by humans
        • Omniscient= God knows what individuals will freely choose and so in this sense salvation is predestined
      • Augustine
        • God infallibly knows who will be saved
        • Predestination is an act of grace; human goodness is the result and not the cause of election
        • Humans cannot understand the will of God
        • God predestines some to his KIngdom whilst leaving others to hell as a punishment for their sins
        • Pelagius opposed Augustine= belief in predestination was incompatible with free will
      • Calvin
        • Built on Augustine- Double Predestination
        • God decided before creation who would be saved or go to hell
        • Original sin= all humanity deserves hell, electing some is God's grace
        • "All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation"
      • Assessment
        • Catholic Church rejects Calvin: "God predestines no one to go to hell; for this a wilful turning away from God is necessary"
        • Makes God unjust
        • Cannot be reconciled with Jesus' portrayal as God as unconditionally merciful, forgiving and loving
        • Incompatible with our concept of free will


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