"5.Then there’s his willful abuse Acts 10:35, where he defiantly lifts the verse out of its explicitly evangelistic context in which the offer of the gospel is extended to all people-groups. He further disregards the fact that Cornelius was already a God-fearer (v2)."
Paul Owen has a point here, actually. He actually convinced me, I fear. Cornelius was a God-fearer even before he became a Christian (or Jew) -- this points to the truth that "unbelievers" can be saved. "ANYONE who works righteousness" is acceptable to Him; this points us more to the Catholic view that even non-Christians can be accepted just by being good, does it not?
# posted by Hello : 1/14/2006 7:29 PM
i)A “God-fearer” was not an unbeliever. This is a semi-technical term for a Gentile who, due to contact with the Jews, acquired a faith in the true God of Israel.
For the documentation, consult the standard commentaries on Acts by Barrett, Fitzmyer, Witherington, and Bruce (on the Greek text), as well as chapter 7 of Irina Levinskaya’s The Book of Acts in Its Diaspora Setting (Eerdmans 1996).
Up until then, Jewish faith was a saving faith. However, Acts charts the transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. Saving faith is pegged to progressive revelation and redemption.
ii)”Anyone,” in context, has reference, not to virtuous pagans or other suchlike, but to the fact that the Gospel was to be preached to Jew and Gentile alike, and anyone who responded accordingly would be saved. That’s the whole point of Acts 10-11, as well as the companion piece in chapter 15, not to mention the programmatic commission in 1:8. You need to cultivate the habit of reading individual verses with a view to the narrative whole and flow.
Oh, one more thing the last point (#10). Faith in Christ is no missing. All who seek to live a good life have an implicit faith in Christ. If they knew about Him or got a chance to become convinced, that faith would become explicit.
i) Cornelius was saved by exercising explicit faith, not implicit faith. You are reading against the grain of the text.
ii) It is not a historical accident that many people don’t get a “chance” to hear the Gospel. God is responsible for who is born when and where. If someone is born to live and die outside the pale of the gospel, that reflects the preemptory judgment of God: God never intended to save that individual.