Wonder where the band's name originated?
Craig Blomberg's Degrees of Heavenly Reward in the Kingdom of Heaven? in terms of Dogmas, Doctrines, Distinctives, and Details.*
Dogmas. Blomberg does a fabulous job of revealing the dangers that “heavenly rewards” poses to the essentials of Christianity. He not only asserts salvation by faith in Christ alone (159) in this life (172) but also that Heaven will not open for those who “flagrantly repudiate Christ without subsequent repentance” (163). Blomberg rightly warns that the threat is not contingent upon whether one believes in “heavenly rewards,” (165), but that one's profession of faith may prove to be entirely vacuous, thus excluding them from Heaven because they thought that the lack of fruit in their lives indicated the absence of future rewards, not the absence of their salvation (172). “Saving faith does over time lead to a visible transformation in lifestyle and to growth in holiness” (172) for a tree is recognized by its fruit!
The “prosperity gospel” is a false gospel, for health and wealth supplant Christ crucified.
Doctrines. Blomberg presents the idea of heavenly rewards as justification by faith (Dogma), and sanctification by works (159), which “can have highly damaging consequences for the motivation and psychology of living the Christian life” (160). This is Doctrine since faith in Christ is unaffected, but serving Jesus to get something in return (i.e. giving or laying up treasures in Heaven) can again hide the truth of salvation and rob the individual of the true joy of serving God out of gratitude (170). Worse, these works can devolve into a Biblical notion of Karma as seen in the book of Job (169). It is nice to see Blomberg admit that his stance could be wrong, even if the outcome remains the same (167).
“Perseverance of the saints” and its alternative affect orthodoxy, but not orthopraxy (163).
Distinctives. Blomberg's position on how believers live the Christian life (obedience, maturity, etc.) (159) falls here because it impacts how church is conducted. The danger here is that a gradation of believers can lead to a skewed Ecclesiology that creates a class system of believers. Church governance (166) is highly susceptible from interpretations of the Apostles having more “privilege” (which leads to priests, etc. being worthy of higher privileges too, to create a hierarchical kingdom). The priesthood of believers suffers even though anyone filled with the Holy Spirit after Pentecost is “greater” (166).
Degrees of punishment according to “conscious transgression of God's laws” (161) is placed here since it falls into sins of commission vs. omission according to orthopraxy in light of God's word.
Details. It feels odd to categorize the main thesis of Blomberg's paper as a Detail, especially when his conclusions are biblically accurate. However, despite agreement with Blomberg's idea that “believers will be distinguished from one another for all eternity on the basis of their works as Christians” (160) is false, it remains a Detail because it is not crucial to God's mission of salvation in either orthodoxy or orthopraxy. Plus, it largely has no impact on whether or not two disagreeing parishioners of the same church can still worship together comfortably. This is in part because differing interpretations (ex. 1 Cor 3:11-15) may both be “accurately true” due to the confusing nature of infinities to the finite mind. For, if some believers “suffered loss” and started off at a deficit compared to their brethren, they have eternity to catch up and will thus be equal (1+∞=∞ vs. 10+∞=∞). Same with Talents (168). However, as discussed above, many of the concepts foundational to this gradation theory that Blomberg rejects do fall under levels of deeper ingression and must be called into question. When all the more ingressive theories are correctly dealt with, it seems plausible that Blomberg's conclusion will be found to be true.
Even though the idea of unending regret in Heaven due an un-meritorious life (162) is fraught with problems, some claims need further examination, for the twelve tribes and Apostles sound like they will be honored more (Rev 21:12-14). Blomberg is right that no general doctrine for all should be deduced in this case (164), but Millard Erickson's subjective awareness should not be rejected out of hand since believers may experience differences on judgment day (ex. Casting Crowns) (162)(167).
*Dogmas are theories directly impacting God's mission to reconcile all people to Himself (orthodoxy & orthopraxy required).
Doctrines indirectly impact God's mission (and are thus vitally important), but people can fail to interact with or understand them accurately (essential to orthodoxy, not orthopraxy).
Distinctives don't affect the orthopraxy of salvation, but will impact the orthopraxy of a church.
Details have little to no effect on orthodoxy or orthopraxy.
Brett Yardley: Warrior for Christ. Devoted Husband. Proud Father. Martial Artist. Hopeful Philosopher & Theologian. Aspiring Teacher & Writer.