Street preacher: Are you saved?
Socrates: What do you mean by “saved”?
Street preacher: You don’t know what it means to be saved?!
Socrates: What makes you think I don’t know what it means to be saved?
Street preacher: Huh! You just said so! That’s why!
Socrates: No. I asked what you meant by “saved.” Surely I must understand what you mean by your question if I’m to answer it to your satisfaction.
Street preacher: What kind of relativistic mumbo-jumbo is that? I asked you a simple question: “Are you saved?” Can I have a simple answer?
Socrates: Surely your question is simply only if “salvation” is simple in your view.
Street preacher: Okay. Have it your way. Salvation means escaping the wrath of God.
Socrates: Well, then. Here I stand, a mature man in reasonably good health, blessed with a wife and children, adequate food, friends, and the prospect of all this indefinitely into the future. I guess I have escaped the wrath of God so in your terms, I’m saved. Have a good day.
Street preacher: No! I mean the wrath of God at the Last Judgment!
Socrates: What do you mean by “Last Judgment.”
Street preacher: I mean the end of the world, when God judges everyone, graciously allowing some to enter heaven, sending other to hell.
Socrates: This thing has happened? How did I miss it?
Street preacher: No! Of course it hasn’t happened! It won’t happen until the end of the world!
Socrates: Then surely I cannot yet be saved since the event by which salvation is defined has not yet come.
Street preacher: But you can be assured that you’ll be saved!
Socrates: But that I will be saved is something in the future. You asked if I am saved, which is in the present. So on your terms, it is impossible that anyone is saved now.
Street preacher: Okay, but I meant by “are you saved” to elicit whether you are sure you will be saved. Are you?
Street preacher: Do you want me to tell you how you can be sure?
Socrates: From what source can you prove the legitimacy of such assurance?
Street preacher: From the Bible.
Socrates: I know that book well, yet somehow missed assurance of future salvation.
Street preacher: “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
Socrates: That is a wonderful passage, but can I not separate myself from the love of God?
Street preacher: Why would you want to do that?
Socrates: I did not say I should ever want to do that. I asked whether I could separate myself if I did want to – or if I became lax, or something.
Street preacher: You cannot be so lax as to separate yourself from the love of God!
Socrates: God does not care what I do, or whether, for instance, I love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength?
Street preacher: No! All you need to do is Pray The Sinner’s Prayer.
Socrates: Where is this “Sinner’s Prayer” in the Bible? …
Street preacher: Er, um, uh ….
Socrates: And why, if it is that simple, did the Apostle Paul not know about it?
Street preacher: But he did! He wrote that passage in Romans!
Socrates: The scope of which were were discussing. Can nothing on my part separate me from the love of God?
Street preacher: Again, no! We’re saved by faith alone! Once you’ve had faith, you’re golden!
Socrates: Even if I lose faith later?
Street preacher: Yes!
Socrates: Then why did James write – the only time “faith alone” is found in the Bible, by the way – “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only”? …
Street preacher: (Muttering) Martin Luther should have taken that book out of the Bible. “Epistle of straw” indeed! It doesn’t belong there ….
Socrates: But more relevant, why did Paul himself write: “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.“? (I Corinthians 9:25-27)
Street preacher: Well, Paul must have been having a bad day. Assurance of salvation is central to true Christianity. Any Christianity that lacks such assurance is false!
Socrates: So Paul was a false Christian?
Street preacher: Er, um, uh ….
Socrates: Well, I must be going. Have a good day, sir.
Street preacher: Yeah, same to you. (Muttering) I hate arguing outside the Philosophy Building!