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Only Atheists can be Truly Moral

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by Ceridwen018, Jun 7, 2004.

  1. Ceridwen018

    Ceridwen018 Well-Known Member

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    LCMS,

    And in glorifying god, one acheives salvation, right? If not, then how does one acheive salvation?

    This may be more appropriate in a different thread, but I wanted to make a quick comment anyhow--perhaps it will prove relevent. God could have snapped his fingers and that would have fully paid the debt for our sin. By sending his only son to be killed, he was creating a scenario through which he could manufacture the guilt needed to leverage people into believing him...that doesn't seem like true love to me. I don't mean to offend you by saying this, although I realize that it could come off as offensive.

    So, are you saying that Atheists are merely exercising natural law, whereas Christians have something bigger going for them?
     
  2. Fra.Morelia

    Fra.Morelia Member

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    Not every theist is trying to earn divine brownie points. some of them are just trying to be good people.
     
  3. LCMS Sprecher

    LCMS Sprecher Member

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    "And in glorifying god, one acheives salvation, right? If not, then how does one acheive salvation?"- Ceridwen

    You can't achieve salvation on your own, it isn't possible. Salvation is freely given to everyone as a gift from God (via the death of His Son Christ on the cross). We can't even accept this gift though because of our sinful nature. We can only refuse it. Therefore, everyone is given the gift of salvation through Christ's sacrifice, however some refuse this gift by denying that it comes through Christ. This is a problem with the Catholic church (from which Luther broke away from because of the problems with works righteousness). The Catholics would say that you have a hand in your salvation by doing good works and living a good life. No one can do this though, because no one is perfect and everyone sins. Good works are seperate from justification and have no bearing on one's final resting place. However, good works are a response to Christ's love to us. Because Christ loved us, we as Christians are driven to do good works in response to this love (not for salvation).
     
  4. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    Well, according to Hobbes and Kant that would be immoral. You're not motivated by the right things if you do it to feel good.

    James 2:24 "by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."

    Yeah, it also says three times in nine verses (verbatim) that faith without works is dead. And if your faith is dead, well, so is your salvation.
     
  5. Alaric

    Alaric Active Member

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    The thing is, morality is basically about judging your actions based on their intended or perceived effect on other people. If you don't take those effects into account, you are not being moral. In the end, the individual can only rationally justify an act he commits as moral if he would be okay with anyone else doing the same in that situation. This means that people cannot simply obey another person or even God without thereby being immoral - they would not want another person to simply obey another person or another god, given that that order might include something they could not tolerate. Morality is about universality; God's opinion may be nice to ponder, but as a person sharing this world with 5 billion others, you must never unquestioningly obey. Your morality must not be based on God if it would go against the principle of universality, not matter what the consequences in the afterlife.
     
  6. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    That is true, according to one of the smaller branches of moral philosophy. The rest of your statement is kind of a hybrid of two philosophical ideas, but it's not as common as the ever-popular relativistic view of the world made popular by atheists and stupid college freshmen all over the world.
     
  7. Ceridwen018

    Ceridwen018 Well-Known Member

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    LCMS,

    Well there has to be some criteria, doesn't there? If not, then god would be giving out salvation at random, and that doesn't seem fair at all.

    Wouldn't everyone have to refuse it? You said that no one can accept it, and then said that only some refuse it...is there a third option?

    But what your basically saying is that by accepting Jesus we gain salvation?

    You seem like a pretty holy dude-- are you saying that you are living a bad life just because you are 'sinful'?
     
  8. LCMS Sprecher

    LCMS Sprecher Member

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    "Yeah, it also says three times in nine verses (verbatim) that faith without works is dead. And if your faith is dead, well, so is your salvation."- dan

    So you are damned then if you do not perform good works? I am not saying that good works are devoid of the Christian life, but they are not a requirement of salvation but an outgrowth of Christ's love for us. How can humans gain their own salvation if they are such sinful creatures? Therefore, it is not possible to include good works as a requirement of justification because it is not humanly possible to do enough to earn our own salvation. Wasn't this what the Reformation was about?
     
  9. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    Read James again. Therefore it is by works that a man may be justified, not by faith alone. Your point goes completely contrary to the book of James. Do you just ignore that or do you have some kind of reason for that?
     
  10. LCMS Sprecher

    LCMS Sprecher Member

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    Depends on your hermenutic dan, I know that the book of James appears very legalistic when it comes to good works. However, if you look at it in the light that good works are an outgrowth of faith in God (and Christ's love for us, for if He did not first love us then how can we have faith?) then if you have faith in God, you will do good works without the desire for reward or salvation. Faith (which ultimately saves us) does not come from good works. Good works come from faith and Christ's love for us. Therefore, good works flow naturally in a faithful Christians life without a need for salvation through them. What James means when he says that "faith without works is dead" is that you would ordinarily do works when you have faith and good works are a sign of faith (not a creator of...).
     
  11. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    Well, you're starting off with an assumption, so bring me to this point using scripture and I'll take you seriously; but if you have to state a bunch of assumptions as given for your idea to make sense then it holds no water.

    So an atheist cannot do good works?
     
  12. LCMS Sprecher

    LCMS Sprecher Member

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    "Good works are works that flow from faith and from the joy of heart that has come to us because we have forgiveness of sins... (he goes on to say in a New Years sermon) a truly good work then, comes from the heart that faith has warmed into walking willingly in the ways of the Lord."
    - Definition of a Good Work as defined by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther

    Did not the Pharisees do good works, but they did so in the wrong context. Anyone can do good deeds, but a good work is one that comes from the heart and is inspired by faith in Christ. To be sure, everyone has done at least one good deed in his or her life time. However, I think works is associated with justification. If such were the case, then athiests could get to heaven. This thread is set up to essentially state that athiests are more moral than Christians. If so, by saying such they are being like the Pharisees. The "I have done more than you for better reasons than yours" statement. Any good works with this idea attached to them is not a good work. Did God not command us to keep are good deeds and prayers silent and to ourselves as to not draw attention to ourselves?

    In respect to James, it does not say that "if don't do good works; you're damned." It says that faith is dead without good works. But one cannot do good works unless one has faith and one who does good works before one has faith is working for naught.

    P.S. I feel like I am speaking to this issue on two threads right now. I would like it if we could keep it to only one.
     
  13. Ceridwen018

    Ceridwen018 Well-Known Member

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    LCMS,

    I have the utmost repect for Dr. Martin Luther, but must contest that there is nothing in that quote of his which you posted which is not opinion. I respect his opinion that good works only come from faith, but I don't have to accept it as my own.

    Things don't have to be inspired by Jesus to come from the heart.

    An Atheist who boasts their good deeds to others to build themselves up is not moral, I agree, but that's not quite what we're talking about. The situation here is this: And Atheist and a Christian both perform the exact same work of charity. They both keep silent about it, and don't try to draw attention to themselves. Which of them then is more moral? I contest that the Atheist is, because they performed their good deed and then kept silent about it with no other incentive than some warm fuzzies. The christian, on the other hand, has a god in need of appeasement, and so their good deed had a higher incentive. I'm not saying that all Christians do their good deeds only because they feel they have to for god, but it's about the basic principle of the thing.
     
  14. LCMS Sprecher

    LCMS Sprecher Member

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    "The christian, on the other hand, has a god in need of appeasement, and so their good deed had a higher incentive. I'm not saying that all Christians do their good deeds only because they feel they have to for god, but it's about the basic principle of the thing."- Ceridwen

    I understand where you are coming from because many do not believe that works cannot play a role in justification. That is the big difference in Lutheran and Catholic faith and was the reason the Reformation occurred in the first place. What I am trying to say is that works are not needed for appeasement, so Christians should not do them for that purpose. If they do then they practice a form of idoltary (Luther mentioned this in one of his works). Essentially, what I am trying to get across here is that in the truest sense of a good work; Christians should do them out of faith and love of Christ. If this is the real sense by which a Christian does his or her good works then those Christians are no less moral than athiests. If works do not bring salvation, then there is no need to perform them. However, they come from the faith that comes from God, so they are not tainted with appeasement. I despise the Catholic system of good works because it is very superficial and it is not moral. I know many Catholic through my high school here in St. Louis and they clean up at all the important times of the year. They act good in public, but then bad when they are not in public. It is very much like the Pharisees. It is amazing how I have seen kids my age from both LCMS and Catholic faith, and on a whole the LCMS kids live more upstanding lives and our religion doesn't even require us to (mind-boggling eh...)! I am not out here to bash Catholicism (though, I must say my previous comments look quite derogatory, and I apologize for that). I am mainly trying to to show that when you are required to do good works; you either don't do them or you do them superficially. This is not to say that there are not Catholics out there there who live upstanding lives without thought of reward (their devotion is comendable). However, in the long run faith saves, not works. In a nutshell then, if Christians do good works in their truest sense (from faith and not from command), then they are no less moral than athiests.
     
  15. Ceridwen018

    Ceridwen018 Well-Known Member

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    LCMS, agreed. That was well said.
     
  16. destinata7

    destinata7 Member

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    I'm not Catholic, but this statement is offensive. I'm sure it's not hard to get someone who hates Catholics to agree with you, but this statement is stereo-typing at its worst.

    Let's review your reasoning:

    1) How many kids from both faiths exactly have you observed? Is this a fair sample to extend an all-encompassing statement about all Catholics world-wide? I don't think so.

    2) How do you know who is "upstanding" and who isn't? Jesus Christ judges the heart not the flesh as you have done even though He made it clear to "Judge not lest you be judged", you have clearly ignored this commandment and spewed forth condemnation on not just one or two people, but hundreds of thousands of Catholics world-wide!

    3) You are hardly an unbiased person when judging between the coduct of "all Catholics" vs "all LCMS"!!!


    Who appointed you judge and jury and what exactly is the point you are making? All Catholics do good because they have to; all LCMS do good because they want to???

    I've attended a Catholic school and there was certainly no sadistic underlying theme of corruption being openly exibited by the children there. They were kids. You know K I D S. They're not perfect in Catholic churches and I'm certain they're not perfect in LCMS churches either!

    Your commentary is insulting, unfounded, unproven and non-christian. No wonder some people turn to atheism......they are tired of church people telling them that they are going to hell! Please concentrate on the "love" message in your future posts.


    Deeply Concerned,
     
  17. destinata7

    destinata7 Member

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    Ceridwen, I find this proposal of yours extremely disappointing.

    Let's take two people, one is an orphan and one has parents. Both of them do a good deed from the pureness of their hearts expecting nothing in return. Which one is more moral? Well the orphan of course!!! The other person had parents and did the good deed solely to please the parents!

    Wait a minute, I thought that they both did it in pureness of heart expecting nothing in return! Suddenly you are violating your own scenario by injecting an alterior motive into the one with a Daddy (God).


    I'm not feeling you on this one.....
     
  18. LCMS Sprecher

    LCMS Sprecher Member

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    "1) How many kids from both faiths exactly have you observed? Is this a fair sample to extend an all-encompassing statement about all Catholics world-wide? I don't think so."- destinata7

    I have seven hundred odd kids in my Catholic high school and I have met numerous LCMS youth on a regular basis. It is true that perhaps this is not the best example of good works because usually it is the last thing on an adolescent's mind. I would also like to point out that it is model not exactly an all-encompassing norm. The main point, I was trying to get across is that when you do good works for salvation (as defined in Catholic doctrine) then those good works are anything but moral; they are like those of the Pharisees. I think you also skipped over the second half of my post.

    "2) How do you know who is "upstanding" and who isn't? Jesus Christ judges the heart not the flesh as you have done even though He made it clear to "Judge not lest you be judged", you have clearly ignored this commandment and spewed forth condemnation on not just one or two people, but hundreds of thousands of Catholics world-wide!"- destinata7

    I am not judging Catholics at all. Indeed it appears that I am, but I am not. Lutherans are just as sinful as Catholics. The common question in this thread tends to boil down to is an act moral and right if reward is expected. In Christianity's case, many hold that we do good works to earn salvation. This is very much a Catholic model is it not? My main point is that the model itself is flawed and I use various experiences I have attained in an environment where that model is used extensively. It doesn't work, and usually it breeds disobedience to the law and a disregard for it. Many of the young Catholics I have spoken to in my high school said they would leave the church when they left high school. The model of works righteousness does not save or lighten the load of sin, but it makes that load heavier with doubt. The question that often comes up is "have I done enough?" My attack is against the Catholic model, not Catholics as people or fellow Christians. Again please take my post in all it's context not just the first half.

    "3) You are hardly an unbiased person when judging between the coduct of "all Catholics" vs "all LCMS"!!!"- destinata7

    (Pardon my language here but I believe particular emphasis is needed) Damn straight, I am biased towards the LCMS faith and doctrine. Are there bad LCMS members that twist scripture and embrace extremly reformed theology and teachings? The answer is simply, yes! We have our bad apples as does every church denomination in America. Our kids are no more perfect than Catholic kids. Our sin is no less than their sin. My beliefs come from my personal observations made in a Catholic setting. They are not scientific, and are perhaps biased, and should be taken as such. I have seen what I have seen. Now, I will not be so low to make a general inference on the entire Catholic populace based on the general attitude of a Catholic high school. I made this clear I believe in the second half of my post. I do believe it is commendable for Catholics (and everyone else) to partake in good works. But, you get into trouble when you say that good works brings salvation. When you mix justification and works then you no longer are doing true good works, you are doing works to get into heaven (at which point the cease being good works). That is the simple model I was trying to present.

    "Your commentary is insulting, unfounded, unproven and non-christian. No wonder some people turn to atheism......they are tired of church people telling them that they are going to hell! Please concentrate on the "love" message in your future posts."- destinata7

    Perhaps it was insulting for some. I did not say it was a scientific study, but that it was based on my own personal experiences. Therefore, such comments can be discarded at one's own will. I was merely stating my stand on the Catholic model of works righteousness and its flaws. I would say I did not speak in a non-Christian manner however. Again, I was merely stating my observances and would remind you that you seemed to discard the second half of the post. Finally, did I say that anyone who participates in acts of good, goes to hell. I don't remember that. However, you seem to relate my post to people turning to athiesm. Some people turn to athiesm because they believe religion to be to overbearing and legalistic. Churches often put requirements on heaven based on law. In the end, the law condemns. Only, the gospel saves. Works righteousness is a religion of the law. The law cannot save, therefore works righteousness cannot save. God gave His Son on the cross for our sins, that is gospel, and it was that act that saved us. Not by our own merits or works, only Christ's sacrifice could save us. How dare we try to add to that merciful sacrifice by saying that we must do more to earn God's forgiveness and mercy. Is Christ's death and resurrection not enough? Man cannot possibly do enough good works to attain or supplement this gift of salvation given freely for all peoples.
     
  19. destinata7

    destinata7 Member

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    I'll hand it to you, you kept a fairly civil tone in your response despite the abuse I hurled your way. I'm liking you more already! Nevertheless, I want to finish up on a few of your responses.


    I understand the point you were trying to achieve in the second half of your post. I don't even necessarily completely disagree with it. What I disagree with is the means to the end that you used to arrive at your point.

    It does appear that way, especially when you denounce the Catholic youth as sinners and praise Lutheran youth as good model citizens.


    I'm sorry, but you appear to be contradicting your previous statement about Catholic youth being more sinful than Lutheran youth.

    You believe that not one single work is required for one to overcome this world? Grace and grace alone? That's all you need? If your answer is yes, we have a serious discussion that needs to take place.

    We'll know if this is a trend if the Catholic church suddenly gets much smaller once the proponderance of Catholic high school children have graduated! I would still have questions about how many Lutheran high school students would say the same thing, especially if they are just as big of sinners as the Catholic students as you admitted (more broad statements stereo-typing large groups).

    Actually this statement is not scriptural.

    Compare your statement to this scripure:

    1 Peter 4:8
    And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

    Sin can be covered over by charitable acts. Sure it must come from your heart with love. But there is a lightening of the load of sin according to the Bible.


    When you attack a group of peoples moral conduct and the motives for their good deeds, believe me you are attacking them......and it is personal.

    Then please don't try to appear that your reasoning is objective here. This boils down to a simple "my church is better than yours" and frankly I think many people are sick of hearing this. Stick to debating solid points instead of smearing an entire religion.......and their children.

    How then can I be certain you are not one of these?

    I'm sorry, but this appears to contradict your previous statement about the moral conduct of Catholic youth compared to that of Lutheran youth.

    That was the whole reason you brought it up to start with. The effects of the Catholic model on Catholic youth compared to that of the Lutheran model on the Lutheran youth. Your observation would have very limited meaning if confined merely to a populace of 700 children. I'm pretty sure that you were inferring that this representation of Catholics represented the Catholic model as a whole and its effects on all Catholics.

    At least we do agree on something!

    Good works alone do not bring salvation. But there is an effect that is connected to works and salvation according to the Bible.

    Are you encouraging people who might have some small advantage to giving to stop giving altogether? Is it possible that one could be paying tithes or giving charitable donations both out of the goodness of their heart as well as for the tax advantage associated? Do you pay tithes? Do you use the receipt that your church issues as a tax advantage? If so, according to your philosophy, you just wasted approx. 10% of your income for nothing!

    I find this train of discussion both judgmental and hippocritical.

    Is it wrong then to do good for the good feeling of joy and fulfillment that you get in return. Be careful now.....that can be an alterior motive. Based on this train of discussion, poor people everywhere will start starving because people are too afraid to give because they might have a hidden motive.

    For goodness sakes, let people do good for whatever reasons they wish to. Let God judge them once their life is over! If their intentions are evil, they will receive an evil reward. If their intentions are good, they will receive a good reward.

    But make no mistake about it , the Bible does teach clearly that there is reward in heaven for works done right here on earth. Yes, the grace of Christ is a necessary element for salvation......and an element this debate could use a little more of!

    Nothing in this life is simple.......trust me!

    You have every right to state your opinion....and I have the right to rebutt! :smile:

    I find attacking the motives and morals of other religions pushing the boundry...but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. You seem sincere enough in your own belief.......


    I was saying that judmental attitudes have driven many people away from church. I was feeling somewhat of a judgmental tone in your comments concerning Catholic youths.

    Yep.

    So when Christ died on the cross, you were saved already. And there is no further work required by yourself to claim that salvation? And this applies to everyone on earth?

    Yipee! We're all going to heaven! Hold those pearly gates Peter, six billion of us are coming through!

    Again, Christ is nailed to a cross and everybody goes to heaven? No good work or evil work has any effect on this? Sounds like a pretty dandy deal!

    Your statement is indeed passionate......but is against what the Bible and Jesus Christ teach. There's a little thing in the Bible called "repentance". This is a necessary step to be forgiven. Trust me, repentence is work!

    It's awesome.....but the Bible teaches that more is indeed required.

    So salvation has already been given to all peoples? And no works at all are required to go to heaven. So everyone that has lived on this earth since Jesus died is going to heaven? And they didn't have to be Lutheran? This includes all the Catholics?

    So why are you knocking them? Let everyone run around and fake good works if they want to.....they're all going to heaven anyway!!!

    You better give me some responses here. It's looking like there's some major holes in your doctrine if you're telling it right. Also, I would be very disappointed after posting the longest reply in the history of this website! (I don't know this for sure but it feels pretty long to me)

    Regards,
     
  20. LCMS Sprecher

    LCMS Sprecher Member

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    "It is amazing how I have seen kids my age from both LCMS and Catholic faith, and on a whole the LCMS kids live more upstanding lives and our religion doesn't even require us to (mind-boggling eh...)!"- myself in earlier post

    I don't think I said there that Catholics are more sinful than Lutherans. I was stating more or less that in an environment that requires works for salvation such acts of good are not as common. However, in an environment that does not require good works for salvation, I have seen a greater amount of good done. The system of works righteousness, I my personal experiences, tends to not produce the good works that it is based on. If an inferrence was made that LCMS kids are better than Catholic kids then I apologize for making inferrence possible from not writing clearly enough. We are all equally sinful, no one is better than the other person.

    destinata7- As far as your questions on Lutheran justification and the possible holes in it, I will just give you a rundown on it.

    Essentially, Lutheran doctrine states that we are be saved by grace and by grace alone. This is because it is not possible for us as sinful humans to even work off a share of our sins. Biblically speaking, you are neither damned for doing good works nor not doing good works. You are saved by Christ's death on the cross, and that gift which is grasped by faith is all that saves. If you refuse that faith and you say that you are not saved solely by Christ's death on the cross, then you will be damned. My religion is not the "all saved in the world" kind of religion that it seems to be portrayed as. I think this is probably because it gets mixed up with the truly reformed doctrine and everyone thinks that it refers to a kind of "universal pre-destination." That is not the case, because one can refuse the gospel by saying, for example, that Jesus did not die for their sins, or they can add to that sacrifice and work off part of the bill themselves etc... All these different additions or subtractions from the gospel of God, essentially is a refusal of it in it's original form. Does good works play a role in justification, no. Why? Because, by saying that it has a human element. It becomes a "what can man do to pull himself from the grave" kind of deal. It stops being about Christ and His sacrifice on the cross, and starts being about man's works and deeds.

    In regards to 1 Peter 4:8-
    "And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8

    Charity is an interchangeable word for love. The NIV version of the Bible has the following verse.

    "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins."

    Alot of the older translations of the Bible use charity instead of love. Therefore, that verse does not refer to good works. On another note, that verse is very correct, because love shown in forgiveness does cover a multitude of sins. After all, Christ's love for us shown by His death on the cross washed away all of ours.

    "There's a little thing in the Bible called "repentance". This is a necessary step to be forgiven. Trust me, repentence is work!"- destinata7

    Repentence (forgiveness and absolution) is a gift to us from God. Repentance occurs naturally from faith and faith drives us to repent our sins.

    "I find attacking the motives and morals of other religions pushing the boundry..."
    - destinata7

    If the doctrine is contrary to Scripture and is outrightly heretical, then it is not wrong to come forward and declare them as such. Perhaps, my means in reaching that end was wrong, and for that I again apoligize. However, that is the basis for bringing the argument in the first place. Salvation through works is heretical because it takes away from Christ and puts man at the helm of his own salvation.

    "Is it wrong then to do good for the good feeling of joy and fulfillment that you get in return. Be careful now.....that can be an alterior motive. Based on this train of discussion, poor people everywhere will start starving because people are too afraid to give because they might have a hidden motive."- destinata7

    That is not a point I was or wished to make. Good works are not wrong. We are encouraged by God in Holy Scripture to care for the poor and do good for others. Good works become wrong when you try to equate them with salvation. Outside of that, they are fine. I didn't say that good works are wrong if you expect something from them. They are only wrong if you are expecting salvation for them!
     
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