Skip to comments.Jimmy Carter revises the Gospel ... again
Posted on 04/09/2007 12:03:33 PM PDT by Nasty McPhilthy
Former President Jimmy Carter is at it once again. In a recent interview with Beliefnet.com, Mr. Carter stated once again his belief that there is salvation outside of faith in Christ. But this time he seems to have gone even further, suggesting openly that all persons will be saved.
Here is the relevant exchange at Beliefnet.com:
Do you believe that grace ultimately applies to people who don't presently believe in Jesus?
Yes, I do. I remember two things. One is that in John 3:16, which is probably the best known verse in the Bible"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son." And Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, for instance, said we should love our neighbors, but also love those who despise us and hate us and our enemies. So, the opportunity for everyone to be saved through the grace of God with faith in Christ applies to everyone.
And I have been asked often, you know, in my Sunday School classes, which are kind of a give and take debate with people from many nations and many faithswhat about those that don't publicly accept Christ, are they condemned? And I remember that Christ said, "Judge not that ye be not judged." And so, my own personal belief is one of God's forgiveness and God's grace. That's the best answer I can give.
Well, that's not good enough. The former president's answer is a confused mash of out-of-context biblical citations set to the music of universalism. For some time Mr. Carter has been arguing that explicit faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is not necessary for salvation. Now, he takes this argument further, and the inescapable conclusion a reader of his latest comments must reach is that President Carter evidently believes that all persons will be saved. This, in fact, is how Beliefnet.com characterized his position.
But Mr. Carter's argument, if one can call these sentences an argument, is also self-contradictory. In one sentence, he argues that "the opportunity for everyone to be saved through the grace of God with faith in Christ applies to everyone." Does the opportunity apply to all, or does salvation? If he means the former, how do all persons confront this opportunity? The tragic reality is that millions of persons have never heard the Gospel of Christ. As the Apostle Paul makes clear, this is the central thrust of the missionary mandate.
The apparent contradiction in Mr. Carter's argument comes with the second paragraph of his answer, in which he argues that God's grace and forgiveness is extended even to those who do not profess faith in Christ. He goes on to suggest that when Jesus taught love of neighbor and the limitations of human judgment, He was teaching universalism. This is nonsense, of course, since those texts mean nothing of the kind. Beyond this, Mr. Carter's interpretation would mean that Jesus contradicted Himself when He warned of Hell and condemnation for sin.
The Bible is clear that not all persons will be saved. Jesus contrasted the wide gate that leads to destruction with the narrow gate that leads to salvation. As the Lord said in Matthew 7:13: "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many."
The fact is that many persons are embarrassed by the Gospel as revealed in the Bible and taught by Christ. The central issue of offense is the exclusivity of the Gospel of Christ. And yet, Christ left no doubt about the matter.
In John 14:6, Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." The first sentence is not the ground of offense. The second sentence is. The "but by Me" statement leaves no room for confusion.
In recent decades, some have attempted to argue that faith in Christ is indeed necessary for salvation, but this faith need not be explicit faith in Christ. This position, known as inclusivism, suggests that persons may know nothing of the Gospel, and yet be saved. This argument is often used to claim that adherents of other faiths and belief systems will be saved through the work of Christ, even though they may not hear of Him in this life. Many Roman Catholic theologians have adopted this argument. The late Karl Rahner put an interesting twist on the theme by suggesting that some persons are "anonymous Christians." These would be persons who now think themselves devotees of other belief systems but who are actually Christians who have no explicit faith in Christ. This argument cannot be squared with the biblical witness.
Universalists take the argument even further, with most arguing that all persons will be saved, completely without regard to faith in Christ. With this latest interview, Mr. Carter appears to join these ranks.
The Apostle Paul refuted both inclusivism and universalism in Romans 10, where he insisted that all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. Paul explained that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christwhich means explicit knowledge of the Gospel. He explained that salvation comes to all those who confess with their mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in their hearts that God raised him from the dead. Then, just in case we missed the obvious, Paul explains the missionary mandatea mandat completely undercut and contradicted by inclusivism and universalism (and by President Carter's comments):
For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" But they have not all obeyed the Gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:13-17).
The logic of Paul is clear. If they hear they may believe, but if they never hear they will never believe. And, if they never hear and believe, they will not be saved.
In a series of books, interviews, and comments, Mr. Carter has dismissed biblical inerrancy and once suggested that his faith would not be shaken, even if Jesus did not perform some of the miracles attributed to Him in the New Testament. He has adopted liberal positions on a host of issues and once identified liberal theologians such as Paul Tillich as major influences in his life and thought.
Nevertheless, it is tragic to see this man of influence, now releasing another published set of his recorded Sunday School lessons, set himself so clearly against the Bible and the historic faith of the Christian church. This, like all demonstrations of theological error, is both sad and deeply dangerous. What could be worse than getting the Gospel wrong?
Mohler is president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. This article is used with permission from his Weblog, available at www.AlbertMohler.com.
I have given up trying to understand the peanut.
I personally would not accept Jimmy Carter as an authority on this subject. I’ll accept the words of Jesus and my Lord God instead.
How about selling out all of Christendom to The Ayatollah?
So Carter was a worst Sunday school teacher than he was a President. Really hard to believe.
Hard to believe this guy was president.
Jimmy must have forgoten the last half of John 3:16.
.....and whoso believeth not shall be damned.
And we are still paying to this day due to his stupidity. An example, Iran. Need I say anymore.
That's fairly unusual for a Sunday School class. They are usually attended by believers who are looking for more depth on what they believe. Or if they are attended by non-believers, which is a good thing, they are attended by seekers. It sounds here like Jimmy's class is a tourist attraction and he's been lead astray by beliefs of the attenders.
Unbelievable. He reads from a completely different version of the Bible than I do.
I'll believe Christ: "I am the way, the truth and the light. No one comes to the Father but by Me."
How in the world do you connect those dots? This proves that senility kills rational thought before ego.
I wouldn’t put Jimmy Carter in charge of making toast.
Jimmah’s first statement on John 3:16 is absolutely incorrect. This verse is: “So God loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”.
Yet another typical example of liberal, modernistic, “itching ears” private interpretation.
Jimma Cotta will take his peanuts roasted - for all eternity.
arguing about Justification.
God's infinite mercy is available to all. But one way or another, you have to accept it.
That’s actually from John 3:18, but close enough, and in context.
Seems like par for the course as far as adult Bible study / Sunday school goes.
Bunch of people reading the Bible and drawing the strangest conclusions from what they read.
I had the same thought. It may be senility, as you say, but I've noticed that liberals of all ages seem to "reason" this way.
Unbelievable. He reads from a completely different version of the Bible than I do.
Many Christians believe there is salvation outside of Faith in Christ. Below is the position of the Catholic Church...which has around one Billion members.
Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.
That position is much different that what Jimmie said. The Catholic position only applies to people who have never had the opportunity to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They have a much different perspective on those who have had the opportunity to hear the Gospel and reject it.
So that brings up the question, what is Mr. Carter's faith. If it would not be challenged by finding out that Jesus did not commit miracles and raise from the dead, then his faith is little more than "there was a guy 2000 years ago who said some cool stuff." He leaves himself some wiggle rooom with the word "some." But I wonder if this kind of "Christian" even believes in the resurrection as something that really happened? If they do, how can they ignore what He says?
Can you believe it? I have NEVER heard John 3:16 truncated as Carter has done (thank you for including the last, and most significant, portion). He totally left that out!
What does the Bible say about speaking in half-truths?
Again, from the NIV: 16”For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Well the patient cant be cured of the disease until they actually take the medicine. To have the Grace offered is a way different from saying that Grace is somehow Universally Applied!!
If you don't need to believe in Christ (or God) for salvation, then what is your purpose for living here on Earth? How do you know there is any salvation at all? And if there is none, why bother living a good life?
Hmmm. It must be tough to be a secularist and have people believe you are a Christian. Probably creates a lot of uncomfortable moments at cocktail parties.
He said it was God's (Jesus) way of "Identifying with the sufferings of Humanity" and nothing else.
The heretics are really coming outta the woodwork now.
He always says that we're all God's children and it's only here on earth that we divide ourselves, but to God we're all judged equally.
I lost whatever shred of respect he may have had left when he decided that he was right and ST Paul was wrong some time back.
However, I expected his statements to be much more outlandish than this one turns out to be. He may be functionally a universalist. I’m not sure. But this statement doesn’t explicitly make him one.
Nevertheless, He should put one of Shrillery’s dirty socks in it.
“The heretics are really coming outta the woodwork now.”
As prophesied by Peter nearly two thousand years ago:
2But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive opinions. They will even deny the Master who bought thembringing swift destruction on themselves. 2Even so, many will follow their licentious ways, and because of these teachers* the way of truth will be maligned. 3And in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words. Their condemnation, pronounced against them long ago, has not been idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
4 For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell* and committed them to chains* of deepest darkness to be kept until the judgement; 5and if he did not spare the ancient world, even though he saved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood on a world of the ungodly; 6and if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction* and made them an example of what is coming to the ungodly;* 7and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man greatly distressed by the licentiousness of the lawless 8(for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by their lawless deeds that he saw and heard), 9then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgement 10especially those who indulge their flesh in depraved lust, and who despise authority.
Bold and wilful, they are not afraid to slander the glorious ones,* 11whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not bring against them a slanderous judgement from the Lord.* 12These people, however, are like irrational animals, mere creatures of instinct, born to be caught and killed. They slander what they do not understand, and when those creatures are destroyed,* they also will be destroyed, 13suffering* the penalty for doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, revelling in their dissipation* while they feast with you. 14They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15They have left the straight road and have gone astray, following the road of Balaam son of Bosor,* who loved the wages of doing wrong, 16but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophets madness.
17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm; for them the deepest darkness has been reserved. 18For they speak bombastic nonsense, and with licentious desires of the flesh they entice people who have just* escaped from those who live in error. 19They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for people are slaves to whatever masters them. 20For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment that was passed on to them. 22It has happened to them according to the true proverb,
The dog turns back to its own vomit,
The sow is washed only to wallow in the mud.
.....and it’s only gonna get worse. Watch and see.
I’ve attended Sunday School my whole life and I’ve never seen people using the time to draw strange conclusions from it.
I don’t think Carter really believes this. Someone should ask him if he thinks the people who voted for Reagan in 1980 are going to heaven.
Thanks for the correction.
Hey Jimmah, there is a problem with ending the quote at a COMMA and replacing it with a period. If you go with the COMPLETE quote you get a different picture: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Where do you think 10,000 flavors of Protestantism came from?
Every group of adults I've ever heard talk about the Bible, or talk about what they've studied in the Bible, comes up with different lame-ass theories.
These are the same people who wrote stupid book reports in high school and even more pathetic papers if they made it to college. Why they would be expected to generate a comprehensive and consistent theology for themselves through reading the Holy Bible, with all its seeming contradictions and mysteries, and divorced from thousands of years of Tradition, is beyond me. (And I'm talking about all Christians here, plus non-Christians reading the Bible.)
The Devil can quote Scripture for his purpose, but get a bunch of people together and they'll come up with something more ridiculous than Satan's ever thought of.
Of course I'm in favor of reading the Bible, but if it's not put in the context of one's theological framework it would take the reader in any direction.
I wish Carter’s Nobel award would be taken away. That was a farce.
Don't you know that the 15 british sailors were freed because otherwise the courage "Pea-nut" threatened the "nut-case", who took American hostages for 444 days, to go and get them, and bring them home???
He converted to Islam recently, he has to have. Why else would be publicaly trash the Jews, promote the Paly/AQ causes and denounce his belief in Christianity?
Carter continually decries in his recent books the “loss” of “American values”, under “Bush” (so Carter says), and then demonstrates how such a fate is actually impossible, for Carter or anyone else, if we are to go by his beliefs, because, by Carter’s standards, your values are whatever you define them to be.
I'll never forget sitting on my bed crying when I heard he had been elected.
Well then Mr. Carter, I suppose you’re going to tell God himself just who is, and isn’t going to Hell?
Last time I read the Bible, it spoke of the ‘Pit’ that Satan, his Demons, his Minions, and ALL non-believers would be cast into.
I think Mr. Carter has been sniffing too much of the wood glue used to make habitat for humanity homes with.
The church teaches (at JPII did) that those who do not yet know JC will be given the chance before the end times. Ultimately they have to choose but if they are ignorant - such as anyone truly not exposed to the truth - then their souls are innocent. That covers a lot of decieved individuals IMHO who think they know something about JC.
“And we are still paying to this day due to his stupidity. An example, Iran. Need I say anymore.”
No, but I will: Panama.