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The Penitent Thief

June 23, 2010

An interesting thought courtesy of A. C. Grayling in Towards the Light

During the Reformation there were obviously all sorts of arguments taking place about Christianity and it’s theology. One particularly interesting argument was started by Castellio, and among the people opposing him was Calvin. They argued, amongst other things, about what it is essential to believe in order to be a Christian and what is inessential. One very strong argument looked at the penitent thief on the cross next to Jesus during his crucifixion.

The penitent thief was not privy to the complex theological arguments that were raging at the time (and continue to today). He didn’t know of the concept of the trinity, of predestination, of the intricacies of infant baptism. Whatever he did know was very simple, and he grasped it hanging in the cross and was granted salvation. All the complex theological debate about the nature of Christianity focuses on things that are inessential to salvation, and the list of things that are essential to believe to be “saved” is very small indeed.

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