Monday, December 31, 2007
Thanks to "Orthodox" for debating me on the topic of Sola Scriptura.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
May God be glorified,
Thursday, December 27, 2007
The list is something of a catch 22.
-If the list is true and accurate, Ben16 is more of a liberal protestant than one might think.
-If the list is accurate as the left column (Ben16's views) but inaccurate as to the right column (RCC dogma) and if Ben16's views are the view of the RCC, then all sorts of new issues are raised.
-If the list is accurate as to the right column but not the left column, and if Ben16's views are the view of the RCC, then a different set of new issues are raised.
In any event, regardless of the answers, it would handy to have a continuationalist (as opposed to a sedavacantist) RCer "debunk" or confirm the list. I don't think it's been done, but I admit my fallibility.
But there is one group that will actually benefit, even from these horrific crimes, and that is the elect. All things work together for the good of them that are the called. I don't pretend to know how this works to the good of the elect, but I'm sure it does. Even though they mean it for evil, good will come from it.
I'm not encouraging Al-Quaeda, I'm discouraging them. All their work to promote Islam will ultimately fail. God will prevail, He always does. We may grieve with the prophets of old, at the cruelty of the wicked, but we know that God's will will be done. As their own words testify, God is Great!
There is no God but the Triune, and the false prophet of Islam, the father of murderers, is no prophet of God,
That just confirms to me that Osteen is not a Christian teacher at all, no matter what he may call himself. If someone can locate a copy of Turretin's Institutes in their local Mormon bookstore, I'll eat my hat (figuratively speaking).
* For those unfamiliar with urban lingo, Benjamins = money
UPDATE: JohnMark at Beggars All Reformation is less suspicious of Osteen - and simply sees this as confirming the vacuity of Osteen's writing (link).
Let's be clear about one thing: just because one celebrates the birth of Christ does not make one a crypto-Catholic, and Centuri0n has the honor of having his photo posted in a popular Catholic apologist's "Anti-Catholics" web page. Indeed, the Bible gives us the freedom, individually, to celebrate holy days according to our choosing.
Furthermore, let's be clear that giving gifts, spending time with family, eating figgy pudding and honey-glazed ham, and drinking spiced cider, eggnog, or (if your conscience permits) a little brandy, is perfectly fine - whether the occasion is the birthday of Her Majesty, Elizabeth II (may God save the Queen!), Independence Day, Bastille Day, International Women's Day, or a day you have set aside to remember Christ's incarnation. Those things are not religious activities. For most folks, even etymologically questionable things like mistletoe and a conifer have lost their original druidic connotation, and are essentially just winter seasonal decorations. Bereft of original pagan significance, these two can be enjoyed as God's gifts.
But Christmas was a Catholic holiday. While misguided modern evangelicals are busy trying to put the "Christ" back in "Christmas," they are joined in that task by Catholics who are anxious to put not only the "Christ" back in, but the "mass" back in as well. Why? Because it was their holiday first.
One perfectly acceptable reason for an evangelical not to celebrate the Birth of Christ on December 25 each year is to say to the world: "My religion is not Catholicism. I do not honor their holy days, and I do not follow their traditions. The Scripture alone is my rule of faith and life."
Now, I realize there is a counter-argument that we can Evangelical-ize Christmas, just as Catholics Christianized Christmas away from the pagans in the first place. I hate to be a sourpuss on this, but It's not going to work. Too many false gospels with their false Christs are willing to be a part of almost every American child's favorite holiday, and Catholicism is right there, leading the way, and pointing out that they came up with the idea of celebrating a mass to honor Christ's birth.
Furthermore, in order to outnumber those who make Christmas a holy day of obligation, we'd practically have to make it obligatory on the people of our churches as well. Doing so would violate God's law by unlawfully binding the consciences of men to a human invention.
Sorry, Centuri0n - it is a Catholic holiday, it is associated with Catholicism, and its only the influence of secularism/paganism that is likely to decatholicize it. We see that happening in America today, where the holiday is largely "secular" and humanist, despite Congressional attempts to declare it a Christian holiday (which, as you may have heard, got a surprising 9 votes against!). Feel free to celebrate it if you like, but don't insist that we join you.
I have freedom in Christ to treat the day, for religious purposes, like any other, and I plan to exercise that freedom, without stepping on your freedom to set it aside as a holy day for yourself.
May God Incarnate be glorified,
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
2. Doug Pagitt says that the way that God is going to interact with all of humanity in the same way, regardless of what you believe, and denying the existence of hell (link) (link). Pagitt even goes so far as to accuse Todd Friel of Platonism. For shame!
Sunday, December 23, 2007
A few folks objected to my argument from Hebrews 10 (in the Atonement debate over at Contend Earnestly), on the basis that “them that are sanctified” in Hebrews 10:14, “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified,” might (according to the objectors) refer to something less than the entire intended beneficiaries of the sacrifice.
1. That it means all for whom the sacrifice was made, can be seen first from the parallel to verse 1.
In verse 1, it is written, Hebrews 10:1, “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.”
This verse provides the basis of comparison against which Christ’s sacrifice is observed to be better. But it appears that προσερχομενους (the comers) is the entire group for whom sacrifices were offered. As you will recall, the person for whom the priest offers the sacrifice is the person who came to the priest and brought the victim to be sacrificed.
Consider, for example:
14And on the eighth day he shall take to him two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, and come before the LORD unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and give them unto the priest: 15And the priest shall offer them, the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD for his issue.
It is the comers to the animal sacrifices that were the group for whom the animal sacrifices were made, but they were not made perfect by those sacrifices. In contrast, those for whom the sacrifice of Christ is made are made perfect by that sacrifice. Furthermore, this perfection is already once for all accomplished. The elect will be (and have been) justified in time, but the judicial reconciliation was accomplished on the cross.
2. We also see it in the parallels to other passages:
A. Hebrews 5:7-9
7Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
Christ was made perfect as a priest so that he might perfect the intended beneficiaries of his sacrifice: namely those that obey him (aka the elect). This reemphasizes the point above that the single purpose of Christ’s sacrificial work was to save the elect.
B. Hebrews 7:19
19For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.
It is here written that the law (that is, the animal sacrifice system) did not make anyone perfect, which is contrasted with the sacrifice of Christ, which did, and by which we can approach God. This reemphasizes that the difference between the old and new sacrifice is that the former did not make its intended beneficiaries perfect, whereas the new does.
C. Hebrews 9:7-12
7But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: 8The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: 9Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; 10Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. 11But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
Here again we see the glorious perfection of Christ compared and contrasted to the impotent animal sacrifices. Christ did not have to offer for his own sins, and when he came into the holy place he came with his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption for us. This reemphasizes the point above that the reconciliation is already bought – already paid for – and that the execution of that reconciliation is now a matter of justice as between Christ as advocate and the godhead. That is to say, Christ has obtained eternal redemption for the elect, and consequently the elect will not perish.
3. The opposite hypothesis (i.e. that “them which are sanctified” is a subgroup of the intended beneficiaries of the sacrifice) is without support in the text.
That is to say, the text gives no hint that there is some other group that is intended to benefit, but that is not perfected by the sacrifice. Furthermore, if such were the case, it would break down the parallel to the Old Testament above. For the old sacrifices contain no parallel to such a bifurcation in the intent of the sacrifice’s benefits.
4. The warning passage in verses 26-29 cannot resuscitate a multiple intention view – instead, it fully undermines it.
26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
The reason it cannot help the multiple intention view is that in order to press this warning into service, they must state that Christ was sacrificed (vs. 26) for this hypothetical man who was judged, and that consequently he was “sanctified” (vs. 29). This, of course, reinforces the point above, that those for whom the sacrifice was made are equivalent to the sanctified group. The same word for “sanctified” is even used in both cases. Yet, we learn from verse 14 that Christ perfected them that are sanctified. Accordingly, we see that any objection from verses 26-29 just reinforces the original point.
Well, that concludes the short form of the argument. Seth, I've posted this here since I realize that you may be busy over the holiday weekend. If you want to repost it to your blog to keep things in one place, that's fine by me.
May our perfect High Priest be praised!
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Keep up the good work, fellow traveler!
And This statue of Hera
are totally unlike
So, while it is fair game to say that Greeks worshipped statues, do not suggest that the same is true of Catholics.
Of course, I speak tongue in cheek.
The Apostle John had simple instructions: Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
Moses had simple instructions: Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image.
Has the point been made? Do you see where this use of idols came from? Do you see that it's wrong? Does my pointing this out, make you angry with me? I'm not that concerned about whether you will be angry with me or not, if you will turn from your idols to worship the living and true God in spirit and in truth.
We preach to you a gospel different from that which is preached by the man in third picture above. He labels his message "Christ Our Hope" - but he preaches a different Christ than the Christ that the Apostle Paul and we preach. The message of the man pictured above is dangerous for it encourages many souls to trust in religion and religiosity for salvation, rather than in Christ.
If there is a difference between the gospel of Rome and the gospel of the Reformation, to whom will you turn to resolve the matter? To your bishops? To our elders?
The only answer can be that we must turn to the Scriptures to see which group of men have the same gospel that Paul preached. Anyone can use the label "Christ our hope" (taken from 1 Timothy 1:1), but it is important to know the true Christ.
You may realize that simply reading the Scriptures will not be enough to ensure you get it right, for many before you have read the Scriptures and arrived at differing conclusions. What's missing, then, from my advice? Prayer. Pray to God to send His Holy Spirit upon you to give you wisdom to understand whether the religion of Rome or of the Reformation is true. Seek wisdom earnestly, for only a fool thinks he already knows all.
Many will say, "Lord, Lord," but will not enter into the kingdom. Do not be one of them. Take heed to your souls!
Friday, December 21, 2007
I thought I'd switch over, for a post, to his son, Archibald Alexander Hodge. Neither Hodge requires any introduction in Reformed circles, so I'll get right to the meat, with these quotations from his commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith:
Chapter 8, Section 6, Numbered Paragraph 2:
Christ thus has, in strict rigor, fully satisfied all the demands of divine justice upon those whom he represents. Jesus Christ has met the divine demand that the original covenant of works be fulfilled through the sorrow of His life and death, and he has met the divine demand for essential justice in the punishment of sin through the obedience unto death. Christ suffered as the representative of sinners. Our sins were laid upon him. He, "hath redeemed us from the curse of the law by being made a curse for us." He died, "the just for the unjust." "He is the propitiation (expiation) for our sins." He "gave his life a ransom for many." We are "bought with a price." (Gal. 3:13; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 John 2:2; Matt. 20:28; 1 Cor. 6:20.) Christ suffered only in his single human soul and body, and only for a time. Nevertheless, his person was the infinite and transcendently glorious person of the eternal Son of God. Consequently his sufferings were precisely, both in kind and in degree, what the infinitely righteous wisdom of God saw to be in strict rigor a full equivalent, in respect to the demands of legal justice, for the eternal sufferings of all for whom he suffered. This is the doctrine of the whole Christian Church. The Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, say, Art. 31: "The offering of Christ, once made, is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual."
Chapter 8, Section 6, Numbered Paragraph 3:
This proves, therefore-(1) That Christ did not die simply to make the salvation of those for whom he died possible-i.e., to remove legal obstructions to their salvation-but that he died with the design and effect of actually securing their salvation and of endowing them gratuitously with an inalienable title to heaven. (2) It proves, in the second place, that the vicarious sufferings of Christ must have been, in design and effect, personal and definite as to their object. Salvation must be applied to all those for whom it was purchased. Since not the possibility or opportunity for reconciliation, but actual reconciliation itself was purchased; since not only reconciliation, but a title to an eternal inheritance was purchased, it follows (a) That "to all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption, he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same." (Conf. Faith, ch. 8. s. 8.) And (b) That he who never receives the inheritance, and to whom the purchased grace is never applied, is not one of the persons for whom it was purchased.
Chapter 8, Section 8, Numbered Paragraph 3:
Our Standards, it will be observed, very explicitly teach that Christ, as mediatorial Priest, made expiation and purchased salvation for certain definite persons. Thus, in chap. 3. s. 6, it is said: "As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so has he by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore they who are elected being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ. . . . Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, . . . but the elect only." Here it is expressly affirmed (1) That Christ died upon the cross on purpose to carry out the eternal purpose of God in the election of certain individuals to eternal life. (2) That Christ died for the purpose of saving no other than the elect.
(source) (for all quotations above)
This is, of course, the same thing being said by Hodge's father, and by Shedd and many other Reformed authors as well. Compare, for example, the similar remarks by Robert Shaw (link).
May God be praised,
No doctrine of the Bible, relating to the plan of salvation, is more plainly taught or more wide reaching than that which concerns the union between Christ and his people. That union in one aspect, was from eternity, we were in Him before the foundation of the world; given to Him of the Father, to redeem from the estate of sin and misery, into which it was foreseen our race would by transgression fall. It was for the accomplishment of this purpose of mercy that He assumed our nature, was born of a woman, and did and suffered all that He was called upon to do and to endure in working out our salvation.
He did not, therefore, come into the world for Himself. It was not to work out a righteousness of his own to entitle Him to the exaltation and power which in our nature He now enjoys. In virtue of the Godhead of his personality, He was of necessity infinitely exalted above all creatures. He came for us. He came as a representative. He came in the same relation to his people, which Adam, in the original covenant, bore to the whole race. He came to take their place; to be their substitute, to do for them, and in their name, what they could not do for themselves.
All He did, therefore, was vicarious; his obedience and his sufferings. The parallel between Adam and Christ, the two great representatives of man, the two federal heads, the one of all his natural descendants, the other of all given Him by the Father, is carried out into its details in Romans v. 12-21. It is assumed or implied, however, everywhere else in the sacred volume. What Adam did, in his federal capacity, was in law and justice regarded as done by all whom he represented. And so all that Christ did and suffered as a federal head, was in law and justice done or suffered by his people.
Therefore, as we were condemned for the disobedience of Adam, so we are justified for the obedience of Christ. As in Adam all died, so in Christ are all made alive. Hence Christ’s death is said to be our death, and we are said to rise with Him, to live with Him, and to be exalted, in our measure, in his exaltation. He is the head and we are the body. The acts of the head, are the acts of the whole mystical person.
The ideas, therefore, of legal substitution, of vicarious obedience and punishment, of the satisfaction of justice by one for all, underlie and pervade the whole scheme of redemption. They can no more be separated from that scheme than the warp can be separated from the woof without destroying the whole texture.
You can imagine how someone could read "the satisfaction by one for all" and think that Hodge held to a view that Christ died for the reprobate. Hopefully the remainder of the paragraph makes it clear that he and I do not think that, but instead hold that Christ came, died, and rose again for the purpose of saving his people (those for whom he is the federal head - those whom he represented on the cross) from their sins.
May God be Glorified!
P.S. Incidentally, this week has been a bit hectic. I hope to provide for the atonement debate a brief argument (my original draft got quite long and ungainly) as to why Hebrews 10 is talking about the same group Hodge is talking about in the paragraphs above.
For those interested in textual criticism, who are really interested in tracking down the attestation of the Ethiopic/Aetheopic (or other spellings) translation of the Bible (which was apparently fairly early, and which apparently had little contact with Rome over the years), this is an essential resource. If there is a better work on the subject in any language (even in Amharic), I'm unaware of it.
For most everyone else, they will probably just chuckle at my excitement.
May God be glorified, and His people (whatever language they speak) be edified.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
G. Believer: Welcome, Arthur. Why have you agreed to come on the show?
A. Legalist: Well, I want to talk to you about a real problem I've noticed.
GB: What's that?
AL: It's really the worst sin of our time. It has destroyed many lives.
GB: What's that? Non-Christianity, Murder, Idolatry, Adultery, Profanity/Blasphemy, Covetousness, Theft, Disobedience to Parents, Sabbath-breaking, or Lying?
AL: No, not exactly.
GB: Failure to Love God or our neighbor?
GB: What then?
AL: It's the scourge of [omitted].
GB: Interesting. The folks who led me to Christ taught me that our rule of faith and life is Scripture - but I don't know Scripture that well.
GB: So, pardon my ignorance, but where does the Bible condemn [omitted].
AL: Well, it doesn't explicitly do so, at least not in so many words. The Bible doesn't say "Thou shalt not [omitted]." But the only biblical position that Christians today can have is one of total avoidance of [omitted].
GB: Didn't Paul sort of encourage [omitted]?
AL: Yes. That's true, but it's been abused.
GB: I'm not that sage, but does the Bible say that if something is abused it must be prohibited?
AL: Not in so many words.
GB: So, whose rule is this?
AL: Well, it's mine - but its the only sensible and proper thing. We Christians are called to be wise, and this is the wise thing to do.
GB: Again, I'm not such a seasoned Christian as you are, but perhaps a better solution would be to curb the abuse of [omitted].
AL: NO! WE MUST STOP [omitted] NOW! And if you don't agree, I'm going to see to it that trouble comes your way.
Now, consider for yourself what was omitted from that dialog.
It's a very dangerous thing to start accreting rules of life that are not Scriptural.
May God be thanked for all that He gives,
Keywords: Cosmetics, Jewelry, Meat, Caffeine, Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, Carbs, Fat, Sugar, Sugar-Substitutes, Motorcycling, Slavery, Tatoos, Rational Thought, Time at Work, Time with your Family
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Here is a man who will openly state that "I do not believe God to be the absolute predestinarian of Augustine, Calvin, Beza, and Bañez." Amidst various blasphemies Kimel writes: "The God and Father of Jesus Christ intends the eternal salvation of every human being he has made and will make, without exception."
There are only two ways to go from there:
1) Universalism; and
2) Calling God a failure.
If Kimel's claim is true, God either will save all mankind or God is unable to achieve what he intends. The former is an utterly useless doctrine. If it is true, we do not need it, and if it is false, we do not want it. The latter denies God's essential attribute of omnipotence.
Kimel's condemnation, as things stand, is just. He even admits: "I know that I traduce the vast theological work of St Augustine."
He states: "I do not fear the God who is Holy Trinity. I fear my own freedom to turn from this God, to hide myself in an impenetrable egotism and despair which will forever close me to the roar of his love." Kimel's position is the consistent position of the semi-Pelagian who elevates himself to the determinative cause of his own salvation. He lacks fear of the Judge, he fears himself. He ought to fear God and God's judgment, and that ought to push him to renounce his own freedom as the source of his salvation. If you fear yourself, it would seem that you are trusting in yourself.
Kimel states that "to this Jesus I entrust my future; to his Father I commend my spirit" but he does so without knowing who Jesus is. He does not know the Logos, the Word made flesh, the omnipotent God the Son. The problem with Kimel's confession of faith is not that he got the names wrong. It is in the Holy Trinity that we must trust.
The problem with Kimel's confession of faith is the disclaimer, the fact that Kimel still fails to know the love of God. It is not his faith in Christ that assures him of God's love, but a sub-omnipotent view of divine omnicordiality. But for the Christian, this is not so.
Our love for God demonstrates to us that he loved us first. Our awareness of our transformation from God-haters and blasphemers to lovers of God makes us aware that God has begun a good work in us. Our knowledge that God is omnipotent to finish what he started gives us assurance that we will be saved from judgment.
There is still time for Kimel, that he will repent and turn to Christ. Many have done so before him, from Augustine to Luther, and so on. But he must turn to the Christ of the Gospel, not to the myth of Christ presented by the Vatican. He must turn to Christ and trust in Christ alone for salvation: not to the mediatorial work of the Mother of Christ or passed-on saints, not to a treasury of merit, not merely on a belief in the general mercy of God (though God is merciful).
Kimel has the law, he knows he is a sinner, and he confesses the same. He is aware of his sins, and he is afraid of judgment, no matter how stiff an upper lip he may put on. Kimel needs a savior: someone to take his place. There is only one available: Christ Jesus, God Almighty made man. He is the one mediator - the one advocate. If anyone believes on him for salvation, they will not be ashamed on judgment day. Let us pray that Kimel will be blessed with God's grace, to embrace the God who has mercy on whom He will have mercy and hardens whom He will.
May God be Magnified!
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Mormons have a new and different gospel, and a new and different prophet. They are no more Christians than Muslims are Christians.
Yet, for some reasons, perhaps for political reasons - they now wish to be called "Christians." Some misguided person has even started a blog (one post so far) called "Mormons are Christian" (link - not recommended).
Their distinctiveness from Christianity is even to be seen in the self-title that they prefer for themselves, the "Church of Jesus Christ of the the Latter-Day Saints" in contradistinction from the historical Church of our (Christians) Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
They refuse to accept the truth of this verse:
John 10:30 I and my Father are one.
Others, such as James White, have done much more thorough responses to Mormonism, and I'm not going to reduplicate their efforts here. Here's a link to the Alpha & Omega Ministries Articles on Mormonism, for more detailed reading. If all you've seen is "The Godmakers," your knowledge of Mormonism is probably out of date. There's a lot of material to be read. If you're interested, get started (link).
I'm not sure that too many of my readers have ever tried obtaining turtilian(FN1) compliance with commands, but it is not easy. Turtles are not super-compliant animals.
But I think it is fair to point out that the result shown is not simply "turtle instinct," but instead is the result of man directing the exercise of a lower creature's will.
Footnote 1: Do not confuse with Tertullian.
Friday, December 14, 2007
2) Ransom is deliverance language, true, but it specifically is deliverance by payment (in English, anyhow - cf. Proverbs 6:35 or 13:8 or Psalm 49:7 or Job 36:18). Is your claim that this is a mistranslation (or just weak translation) or that it has become a weak translation (because English used to mean something else) or what?Is "delivered ... out of the Law of death" exactly equal to having the "legal claims of the law" removed, or are you trying to say something different here?
3) Was Christ the federal head of mankind (exhaustively) only with respect to the "legal claims of the law"? (or with respect to other aspects of salvation, assuming there are other aspects)
4) Does the Father also desire those to come whom the Son desires to come? If so, why does not the Father draw all men universally to himself? If not, why does the Son differ in his desire from the Father?
Those are the previous questions that I asked on your blog, and to which - as far as I can tell - you never responded.
To those, I add:
5) If the sin of the reprobate has been "wiped away" - on what legal basis are they judged?
You posted this statement of the resolution:
*** QUOTE ***
Resolved: Christ's sacrifice has saved or will save each person upon whose behalf it was offered.
I will be denying that [assertion] and affirming that Christ died universally for the whole world, especially the elect.
*** END OF QUOTE ***
In the debate, I tried to ask you whether you were intending to take the position that Christ died with the intent that the benefits of his death would be applied to the reprobate.
Specifically I asked:
Did Christ die intending to save the reprobate?
You gave the following answer:
Christ died to pay for the sins of the world with the intention to save the elect. God's salvific will is purposed for only the elect, but his desire is for all to come to salvation. This is the famous "two-wills of God" theory, which I hold to. So this is where the multiple intentions comes in the discussion. Christ died for the whole of mankind, but his special love for the elect was the "joy set before him" and that is why he "endured the cross."
Try as I might, I cannot be sure whether that is supposed to be an affirmative or negative answer to the question.
If you are simply saying that Christ's death was of sufficient value to save the reprobate, we have no debate.
If you are simply saying that Christ's death would save the reprobate, if the reprobate man turned in faith to Christ, we have no debate.
I asked you follow-up questions in the comments section of your post, but I don't see any response, so I'm left wondering whether your intended disagreement with my position is anything more than a semantic disagreement.
After all, some of the folks on your side have suggested that they are merely holding to the teachings of Hodge and Shedd.
Yet Shedd clearly taught limited redemption (while semantically differentiating that from "unlimited" [that is to say, unlimited in intrinsic value] atonement):
(Dogmatic Theology, p. 471)
So the question remains for you, what is it that you believe Christ intended on the cross as far as the salvation of the reprobate go? Was Christ offering his infinitely valuable sacrifice with the intent to save others than those whom he actually will save?
If you do not believe that Christ intended on the cross to save the reprobate, I'm not sure how you can reasonably say that you disagree with my assertion: "Christ's sacrifice has saved or will save each person upon whose behalf it was offered." - at least, as far as I intended it.
And if you are only disagreeing with it in a sense in which I did not intend it, perhaps we ought to call off the debate, as fundamentally (though not semantically) in agreement with each other.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
ApostasyThis statement is erroneous and objectionable for several reasons:
We affirm that apostasy is a terrifying reality for many baptized Christians. All who are baptized into the triune Name are united with Christ in His covenantal life, and so those who fall from that position of grace are indeed falling from grace. The branches that are cut away from Christ are genuinely cut away from someone, cut out of a living covenant body. The connection that an apostate has to Christ is not merely external.
We deny that any person who is chosen by God for final salvation before the foundation of the world can fall away and be finally lost. The decretally elect cannot apostatize.
A) "Final Salvation"
Salvation is binary. There are different kinds of salvation to be sure, but salvation from hell is an either/or proposition. Christ saves "to the uttermost" not just for a time. To distinguish the salvation of one's soul into "final" and "something else" is to confuse salvation. Salvation is deliverance. There remains no condemnation to anyone who is justified, who has put on Christ's righteousness.
B) "The connection that an apostate has to Christ is not merely external."
1) Yes, it is merely external. The church is an external body. Union with the body of Christ via baptism provides external union: baptism of the Spirit (regeneration) is necessary for more than merely external union. They went out from us, because they were not of us. The apostate were only ever part of Christ outwardly and formally, not inwardly and really. Thus, apostacy is demonstration of a lack of real union with Christ.
2) Additionally, the verb tense is surely wrong. It should state "had."
In other words, surely the writers of the FV JS made a typographic error in stating that apostates presently have a connection to Christ. Even according only to the remainder of the paragraph, it should be clear that the connection that they had was cut off.
C) "Indeed falling from grace"
This terminology "fallen from grace" appears to be taken from:
Galatians 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
There it is used to convey the effect that those who seek justification from works are out of God's favor (grace), and Christ is of no use to such a person:
2Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
It seems, however, that the FVists have misunderstood Galatians 5:4 as suggesting some sort of fall from a state of saving (or perhaps prevenient?) grace.
D) "Apostasy is a terrifying reality for many baptized Christians"
The term "baptized Christians" is one loaded with potential for error. A Christian is one that is one inwardly, and the baptism that matters is of the heart. Apostasy may be a legitimate concern for a weak Christian struggling with sin, but it is not a "terrifying reality." Christians (true Christians) do not apostatize, and just because someone is baptized does not make him a Christian.
The present author has been enjoying Hoeksema's "Righteous by Faith Alone" (link). His commentary on Romans 2 applies marvellously to defeat the FV error with respect to the effect of baptism.
To paraphrase Romans 2:
Romans 2:26-29 (modified to substitute baptism for circumcision)
26Therefore if the [unbaptized man] keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his [lack of baptism] be counted for [baptism]? 27And shall not [lack of baptism] which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and [baptism] dost transgress the law? 28For he is not a [Christian], which is one outwardly; neither is that [baptism], which is outward in the flesh: 29But he is a [Christian], which is one inwardly; and [baptism] is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
Baptism is a sign and seal of the covenant. My Baptist brethren err by denying that sign to unregenerate children of believers, while my FV brethren err by asserting that the sign ipse actually provides grace to the children (though whether that is alleged to be the grace of regeneration, I cannot discern from the FV's joint statement).
It's good that the FVists affirm that "The decretally elect cannot apostatize." Wonderful. Nevertheless, it is only the elect who are properly and inwardly Christians, whether or not they are baptized. Baptism is a sign and imprimatur of the covenant, but it is not the covenant itself. A man will be saved by faith in Christ without baptism, and no one will be saved who is baptized and does not have faith.
Is there any benefit to baptism? Certainly! The baptized are outwardly part of the church, they receive the benefit of the preaching of the word, the instruction and discipline of the elders, and so forth.
As it was with the church in the Old Testament:
1What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? 2Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.
These are advantages that accrued to the congregation (ekklesia) of the children of Israel in the Old Testament and to the church of the New Testament. Your baptized children receive this blessing that they have the word of God preached to them. They are under the ministry of the word, both - we hope - at home and among the congregation of the people of God.
This is a blessing of God, and it is - one might say - favor. It is, however, not the equivalent of saving grace. It is the outward and ordinary means, not the inward and effectual means, of salvation. It is valuable, and it is important - but it is as much overplayed by the FVists as it is underplayed by the Reformed Baptists.
I note that Andy Webb has posted some similar comments today on the Green Baggins(es) web site (link). I haven't read all that AW has posted yet, so there may be substantial overlap between our posts. I apologize for any unnecessary duplication.
Still, the web site provides a handy piece of software (Biblia Clerus - warning, that's the executable install file I linked to - total installed size, without locked modules, is between 150 - 200 MB) the content of which is mostly free, with some content requiring a password (presumably those are portions that are either (a) under copyright or (b) we will not speculate openly the alternative reason).
I'm not fully persuaded by Brother White's exegesis, mostly because it seems to create dicontinuity with "εαν μεινωσιν εν πιστει και αγαπη και αγιασμω μετα σωφροσυνης" at the end of the verse.
I'm inclined to think of the verse as providing something of a "reasons annexed to the commandments." That is to say, preservation in the dangerous (for most of human history) and painful time of childbirth is one of the temporal blessings that God may (at his discretion) provide to a woman of faith, love, and sober holiness.
Thus, I'm inclined to view "saved" in a temporal sense, rather than with respect to salvation from hell. Nevertheless, I'm unwilling to be dogmatic about my own exegesis.
For one thing, it is not clear to me whether the "they" in "if they continue ..." should refer to the women, to their children, to the husbands and wives together, or possibly to the men in verse 1 of chapter 3.
In other words, the exegetical challenges on 1 Timothy 2:15 are many.
The reason I currently favor the interpretation I note above is the seeming possible reference to:
Genesis 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
P.S. UPDATE 17 Dec. 2007: R. Scott Clark seems to have come out essentially agreeing with Brother White in this recent (as of my updating this) post (link).
Calvin would not approve, as the disclaimer on the web site indicates:
These items were not produced, nor are they collected to venerate a man, but rather, to commemorate the life of one whom God used mightily to bring the light of the Gospel out of the darkness that entombed Europe at that time. We should be thankful to God that He saw fit to raise up faithful men to proclam the truth of His word. Even the briefest study of Calvin’s life reveals that we owe a great debt to the man who brought reform to the Church in the 16th century.
I must also add that the irony that Calvin would most assuredly despise the collecting of items bearing his image is not lost on us!
Monday, December 10, 2007
I was surprised to learn the detail that did not show up in many of the news articles, but is provided by Vox Populi (link). I'm not familiar with that much of what VP writes, but the point he makes (that it is a good thing that the church had someone there with a gun) is a valid point (and seems to be repeated here).
God uses means to protect the innocent. Don't forget about that.
Update: Here's Carla's very different take on the subject (link).
Further Update: The guard turns out to be a heroine (link).
Yet more: TheoJunkie weighs in on the matter (link) (and in the combox of this post), as has Ben Witherington (link).
Sunday, December 09, 2007
1Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Some folks would suggest that unless Jesus died for each and every person, then our gospel call to each and every person is somehow improper. One wonders if this can validly be extended to the full package of heaven.
If it is bad to offer salvation to those for whom Christ did not die, then it would also seem odd to offer salvation to those for whom no heavenly mansion is prepared.
So then, is heaven going to be a ghost town?
Has Jesus gone to prepare mansions for everyone absolutely?
Heaven will not be ghost town, a tribute to a failed attempt to convert each and every man.
Surely this is not particularly objectionable, even to Arminians and Amyraldians.
But then, again, if the mansions can built only for those who actually will come, then what need was there for Christ even to die in the place of those who will not come, in order for the offer to be sincere? After all, the same logic applies:
God is omniscient. There is no particular reason to die in the place of those who will not come. God knows who will come. Therefore, it would make more sense to suppose that every one for whom Christ died will be saved.
Crucifixion day was not mostly in vain, and Judgment Day will not be a tribute to a failed attempt to convert each and every man.
Instead, Christ died in the place of a particular people. Those for whom Christ died will be raised to glory. For each of them, there is a mansion prepared with their name on it. It is for them that Christ came.
1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
Yet they are saved through the gospel, through faith in the author and finisher of their salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Praise be to the Lord!
Here is some portion of said Institutes, dealing with the issue of original sin and imputation (link), which is a continuation from last week's quotation (link).
- repetitious prayers (to Mary);
- use of an idol (purporting to be of Our Lord during his crucifixion); and
- the sprinkling/daubing of "Holy Water" in the sign of a cross.
One positive thing: the person realized that the devil needs to be opposed.
The negatives? If we trust in God alone, we have no need to be afraid of the devil and his angels. How do we avert his attacks? By reference not to holy water, idolatry, and repetitious prayers to creatures, but by the Word of God and prayer to Him!
Please keep the author of this post in your prayers, that he may be set free from the bondage of papist superstition by the light of the gospel!
Here's the key paragraphs in the author's own words:
So, I get the holy water, I’m still saying Hail Mary’s, and I’m putting just little bits on my finger and I’m making the sign of the Cross on every entry point that the devil could try to make in my life, into my room, into my space. So, I put the holy water on the top of the door panel and along the side, and a huge cross on my window. I know, maybe it sounds silly, but I really felt like it was necessary to do the Cross on my monitor, on my computer, on my television, above my bead. I sprinkled it across my bead and on the headboard of my bed, just everywhere because I know that holy water, holy things, the devil cannot stand holy things. So I was just trying to protect myself as much as I could with the holy water.(source)
Then I just layed [sic] in bed. I was still fearful, I’m not gonna lie. Even after everything that I did, I was still afraid. So, I just kept it up: caressing the crucifix, saying the Hail Mary prayer over and over again. “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of they womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” Over and over again, the most repetitions I’ve ever made of the Hail Mary prayer. Eventually I fell asleep.
May God give us courage to spread the light of the gospel to those in darkness,
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Godismyjudge wrote: "I meant [by "diabling factor"] that which makes us unable to choose freely."
I answer: I was afraid of something like that. I think we are talking past each other.
When I speak about the ability to choose, I'm speaking about choosing transitively - that is to say, choosing an object, making a selection, reaching a decision. Same as when I talk about the ability to lift (e.g. 10 lbs.) or run (e.g. 50 ft.). A transitive ability is the ability to do something. That something is the object of action.
Now, because of the level of abstraction we have when discussing this matter philosophically, the object of choice is "A."
Thus, I contend that it is compatible to assert that:
1. Man freely chooses A; and
2. Man was determined to choose A,
3. Because determination and choice are compatible concepts.
Just as I contend that it is compatible to assert that:
1. Man lifts A; and
2. Man was determined to lift A,
3. Because determination and lifting are compatible concepts.
And in general, it is compatible to assert that:
1. Man does A; and
2. Man was determined to do A,
3. Because determination and action are compatible concepts.
Now, when we add the term "ability" we providing a further level of abstraction.
Having the ability to lift is a different concept from actually lifting.
Having the ability to choose is a different concept from actually choosing.
and in general
Having the ability to do is a different concept from actually doing.
Of course, conventionally we recognize that:
1. Actually lifting A is evidence of ability to lift A;
2. Actually choosing A is evidence of ability to choose A; and
3. Actually doing A is evidence of ability to do A.
Indeed, "evidence" is an understatement. We view it as proof.
But, contrariwise, we would not consider that:
1. Actually lifting A is evidence of ability to lift B;
2. Actually choosing A is evidence of ability to choose B; and
3. Actually doing A is evidence of ability to do B.
At least, not in the same sense as above, and depending on what "B" is. If "B" is somehow a subset of A, then of course we would grant that doing the whole is evidence of being able to do the part.
Where does determination come in?
Determination is consistent with action. That is to say, it is possible for man both to act and to be determined to act. The nature of the action (whether physical or mental) is not important to that definition. Thus, as one example of acting, freely choosing is consistent with being determined to freely choose.
That's certainly the case if we consider the choice transitively, as above. In other words, there's nothing contradictory about saying that man freely chooses A and that man was determined to freely choose A.
As noted above, however, going from freely choosing to the ability to freely choose is further level of abstraction. Actually freely choosing A necessarily implies the ability to freely choose A.
If we go back to the illustrations above, and we recall that:
In general, it is compatible to assert that:
1. Man does A; and
2. Man was determined to do A,
3. Because determination and action are compatible concepts.
And we apply the necessary inference of ability to do from the fact of doing, we see that it is compatible to assert that:
1. Man is able to do A; and
2. Man was determined to do A,
3. Because determination and action are compatible concepts, and transitive ability to act is (at least) a subset of action.
Likewise, we see that it is compatible to assert that:
1. Man is able to lift A; and
2. Man was determined to lift A,
3. Because determination and lifting are compatible concepts, and transitive ability to lift is (at least) a subset of lifting.
And so, coming to "freely choosing," we see that it is compatible to assert that:
1. Man is able to freely choose A; and
2. Man was determined to freely choose A,
3. Because determination and freely choosing are compatible concepts, and transitive ability to freely choose is (at least) a subset of freely choosing.
Now, of course, that's not particularly objectionable (except for one matter, that will be addressed below). The matter that is objectionable is about the ability to do B if man is determined to do A (and assuming that B is not simply a subset of A).
As we noted above, the inference of ability from action only works if we maintain the object (or a subset of the objection). To give a clear contrary example, the action of lifting 10 lbs. does not say anything about the ability to lift 100 lbs., although it does say something about the ability to lift the sub-set of 5 lbs. (why that is, would make an interesting paper in itself, but for now we will take it as intuitive).
So, we recognize that it would not necessarily (not a matter of logical deduction) be compatible to assert that:
1. Man is able to do A; and
2. Man was determined to do B,
3. Because although determination and action are compatible concepts, and the transitive ability to act inferrable from (2) points to an ability to do B, not A, whereas (1) is asserting an ability to do A.
In other words, the two abilities to act are not aligned. (1) points to an ability to do A, whereas (2) points to an ability to do (B).
Perhaps a question should be posed:
1. Ability to do A
2. Ability to do B
where A&B are not identical to each other or in a subset relation?
The answer is that conventionally they are compatible. A man can be able both to walk to work and to carry his lunch. A man having more than one ability is not an incompatibility per se.
So then, where is the problem?
1. A first problem is that ability can be phrased uncertainly, indefinitely, or intransitively.
Thus, rather than addressing "the ability to freely choose A," an incompatibilist may wish to discuss "the ability to freely choose A OR B." That latter statement is hard to parse logically, because it is indefinite.
It's not saying that man either has the ability to freely choose A or the ability to freely choose B, which would seem to be one way to interpret it. Likewise, it is not saying that man has the ability to choose both A and B (at the same time and in the same way).
What it seems to be saying is that man has the ability to freely choose A and the ability to freely choose B, and that the man has both such abilities at the same time. As we noted above, that is not necessarily problematic, as man can be possessed of multiple abilities at the same time.
It also adds a twist, though. The two abilities are incompatible with simultaneity. In other, the advocate seems to be saying that man has the ability to freely choose A and the ability to freely choose B, and that the man has both such abilities at the same time, but that the abilities are interrelated such that if one ability is exercised, the other cannot be.
In other words, the man have two abilities, but (unlike our man who walks to work while carrying his lunch) the man is only able to exercise one of the two abilities at any given time.
This creates a sort of meta-ability. There is the underlying ability to transitively select A, the underlying ability to transitively select B, and a overlying ability to intransitively select only one option.
And frankly, this is the sort of perspective where the differences between compatibilism and incompatibilism can be more clearly seen.
If we divide out, for example, this restriction on simultaneity we can say that the man has the ability to do A and the man has the ability do B. But the restriction on simultaneity is a real restriction. When add it back in, we cannot unqualifiedly say that both the man has the ability to do A and the man has the ability do B. The restriction on simultaneity is a qualification, a restriction on ability, though - from the wording of the issue - it is an indefinite and uncertain restriction.
We can phrase the matter another way:
Something converts one of the abilities into a reality. If we ignore that something, we are speaking in a divided sense about ability. This is fairly normal.
On the other hand, if we consider the "something" and the restriction on simultaneity, it becomes quite odd to continue to assert an ability, the exercise of which would violate the restriction on simultaneity.
In other words, the restriction on simultaneity and the "something" that converts one of the two abilities to actuality have to be divided out in order to refer to the other of the two abilities as an ability.
That seems to follow fairly straightforwardly.
What objections can I immediately think of?
1. How about the ability to abstain? Some might suppose that actually doing A also implies an ability to abstain from doing A. The answer to that is to consider things that we know have the power to act (such as the Sun, to illumine the Earth) but which do not have he power of abstention from action. In fact, the ability to abstain relates to choice. Thus, humans and animals have the power of abstention from action. We understand this power of abstention to be in a divided sense, such that a dog cannot abstain from action A and do action A at the same time and in the same way.
2. But aren't determination and free choice definitionally opposed? The answer to this objection is that they are not within compatibilism. Of course, if you bring loaded definitions to the table, compatibilism will become incoherent.
Thus, within compatibilism, the restriction on simultaneity and the fact that "something" actualizes ability are recognized as compatible with free choice, because free choice is expressed with division to those things.
That there is restriction on simultaneity seems to be admitted by our LFW opponents, and that "something" actualizes ability seems to be uncontestable.
********* Continuing with the next chunk of dialog ****************
The present author had previously stated: "The ability to choose freely A in a divided sense, excluding the cause why A is not actually chosen, is compatible with there being a cause why A is not actually chosen. In a compound sense, including the determining cause, A will not be chosen."
Godismyjudge replied: "I notice you said “will not be chosen” rather than can not be chosen."
I answer: Yes. Let's see what significance you draw from that:
Godismyjudge continued: "Thus we are still able to do otherwise, despite the determining cause."
I answer: That does not seem to follow, unless one divides out the restriction on simultaneity, discussed above.
Godismyjudge continued: "I see no reason for a divided sense for being able to do otherwise."
I answer: Hopefully the above explanation helps. If not, is there really a restriction on simultaneity?
Godismyjudge continued: "It seems you providing the term in an absolute sense. I am not sure how dividing out or including in the determining cause alters the sense."
I answer: I'm not sure what you meant by that. Perhaps you could elaborate.
Godismyjudge continued: "Perhaps you intended (or implied) that A cannot be chosen, in the sense that we are unable to freely choose A?"
I answer: No, as noted above, I think that when we are talking ability to choose counterfactual options we are speaking in a divided sense, ignoring the "something" that actualizes the other ability and the restriction on simultaneity. Thus, to say that we are "unable to freely choose A" would be equivocal (within the discussion), because I would have moved from the divided sense of free choice (the ordinary sense) to a compound sense of free choice (an unusual sense, to say the least).
UPDATE: This recent article from Triablogue is close to the point being discussed here, but is from a little different perspective and part of a different dialog (link).
Further UPDATE: Steve Hays has now also provided a further post that goes into additional depth (while generalizing) on the subject (link).
Romans 14:6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
Colosians 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Here's some sermon audio as to some reasons why it may be honoring to God to abstain from celebrating Christmas this year. (link)
But, if you are going to celebrate it, do so to the Lord, without (as the papists attempt) making it an obligation on your Christian brethren.
Romans 14:10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
P.S. Here's an interesting counterpoint to my position (link).
P.P.S. Here's a more interesting (in my opinion) counter to the counter-point (link).
His clear statement that he is not interested in the debate puts an end to the "Is Catholicism Christian" debate to which Dave Armstrong challenged several folks. Presumably this will also put an end to Dave hounding Reformed apologists to debate him. We'll have to wait and see.
I'm moving on to other things.
The positive side of Dave Armstrong's backing out of the debate is that it frees up time in my schedule, which should let me get started with Godismyjudge sooner.
UPDATE: Dave has posted a response (he just can't get enough) on the combox of his own blog, in which he calls the present author a "fool" and brother Bridges an "ass" while asserting that various other Reformed bloggers are in "abject fear" of him. If you're going to be called names, it's nice to be in such noble company.
Further Update: Dave has now posted a criticism of the positions held by (at least) four Catholic bishops (link) - men who presumably have formal training and authority in Catholic doctrine. So, I guess my company is not quite as good as I hoped. At least it's good to know that this guy who thinks I'm a fool, also thinks the bishops of his own church are fools (though I doubt he'd have the guts to use that word to describe them).
Meanwhile, in more important news, Godismyjudge has backchannelled me to begin negotiating the details of the Romans 9 debate.
While I pointed out the dishonesty in this approach (since their doctrine has a recognized descriptive label that's not Calvinism), I may have overstated it a bit to suggest that they got the idea from Dr. Geisler. In fact, while he is the biggest name recently to try such a thing, the fact is that Amyraut himself (for whom the doctrine is named) attempted to assert that he was fully consistent with Dordt and Calvin.
I don't think ever called true Calvinists "ultra-Calvinists" or "hyper-Calvinists," nevertheless he (and his modern followers, particular open followers such as Dr. Alan C. Clifford) asserted that he had the true mantle of Calvin. More can be read about Amyraldianism in this thorough article written by Pastor Angus Stewart (link).
If the master did it, is it any surprise if the disciples do it?
Compare (link) Dr. Clifford's own page, or this list of 90 allegedly supporting passages from Calvin (link), apparently also produced by Dr. Clifford.
Finally for the reader that has awaited a critical examination of Amyraldianism, welcome to it (link).
Friday, December 07, 2007
The PCUSA has many confessions. I've tried to select the most germane portions of the confessions to the issue. That is to say, I've tried to select the portions to which it seems that Amyraldians cannot, in good faith, subscribe. Obviously, they could subscribe to many other portions of the various confessions, and to some of the confessional documents of the PCUSA in their entirety:
8. To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption, he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same;38 making intercession for them,39 and revealing unto them, in and by the Word, the mysteries of salvation;40 effectually persuading them by his Spirit to believe and obey; and governing their hearts by his Word and Spirit;41 overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdom, in such manner and ways as are most consonant to his wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.42
(Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter VIII [as presented by the PCUSA])
THE FRUIT OF CHRIST’S DEATH AND RESURRECTION. Further by his passion and death and everything which he did and endured for our sake by his coming in the flesh, our Lord reconciled all the faithful to the heavenly Father, made expiation for sins, disarmed death, overcame damnation and hell, and by his resurrection from the dead brought again and restored life and immortality. For he is our righteousness, life and resurrection, in a word, the fulness and perfection of all the faithful, salvation and all sufficiency. For the apostle says: “In him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell,” and, “You have come to fulness of life in him” (Col., chs. 1 and 2).
(Second Helvetic Confession Chapter XI [as presented by the PCUSA])
The same Jesus Christ is the judge of all men. His judgment discloses the ultimate seriousness of life and gives promise of God’s final victory over the power of sin and death. To receive life from the risen Lord is to have life eternal; to refuse life from him is to choose the death which is separation from God. All who put their trust in Christ face divine judgment without fear, for the judge is their redeemer.
(The Confession of 1967, Item 9.11 [as presented by the PCUSA, which may be the original version])
Finally, as with the PCA, the PCUSA does not require unflinching acceptance of everything in the "Book of Confessions." Nevertheless, they are to be taken seriously.
While all creeds and confessions, including those in The Book of Confessions, are subordinate standards, they are standards for the church and its ordered ministries. “[The confessions] are not lightly drawn up or subscribed to,” states the Book of Order, “nor may they be ignored or dismissed.”5 Thus, the church requires that ministers of the Word and Sacrament, elders, and deacons give affirmative answer to an ordination question that specifies the source and the function of confessional authority:
"Do you sincerely receive and adopt the essential tenets of the Reformed faith as expressed in the confessions of our church as authentic and reliable expositions of what Scripture [teaches] us to believe and do, and will you be instructed . . . by those confessions as you lead the people of God?6"
(Taken from the PCA's "Book of Confessions")
Now, frankly, considering some of things I've seen preached from PCUSA pulpits (and by whom), Amyraldianism is really the least of their concerns. Nevertheless, if - by God's grace -a revival stirs the PCUSA, and a return to the Reformed faith follows, it seems there is more than adequate ground for refusing to ordain Amyraldians, on the basis of the doctrinal standards of the church.
I really wonder, though, whether these standards are taken seriously by the elders of the PCUSA? Ah well. That's not the point.
A simple evangelistic presentation is this:
1. There is a God.
2. God has a moral law.
3. You have broken the moral law, by failing to perfectly love God and your neighbor.
4. As things stand, you deserve the punishment God has appointed for those who break his moral law.
5. Death is not the end.
6. The punishment you face, as it stands, is essentially unending torture in the life to come.
7. If you die today, as it stands, you will receive the punishment you deserve, and - frankly - even if you feel fine you could die today.
8. God is Just. He cannot simply ignore the fact that you broke his law.
9. Take immediate measures to stop sinning. Repent of your sin. Do what you can to avoid breaking the moral law, and beg God for assistance.
10. Repentance is not enough, though, for you are still guilty of past sins.
11. God is also merciful. He has appointed a priest who has offered a sacrifice that satisfies God's justice. That priest and sacrifice is Christ Jesus.
12. You do not deserve to be one of those for whom Christ offers himself as a sacrifice to satisfy justice, even if you have repented.
13. Throw yourself on God's mercy, repentant from your sin. Call on Christ Jesus, asking him to be your priest. Go to God and ask Him to accept you on the basis of Christ's sacrifice.
14. If you do so, trusting in Christ, you will not be refused.
15. But you cannot throw yourself on God's mercy and continue to sin willfully - repentance means turning from your sin and serving God.
16. If you trust Him, Serve Him, Love Him, and Bow before Him.
17. If you love Him, do what he commands. Be baptized. Learn from the elders. Give to the poor.
18. Go on from these basics and grow.
(Compare this similar, and even - perhaps - more brief example [link])
This is an offer that can be cast in various lights. Give up the pleasures of sin, for the glory to come. Give up now for the future. Sell everything that you count precious today for the riches of heaven.
At its root, though, it is not just a nice offer of a "free benefit." It is a free gift, but that's not all it is.
It is fundamentally coercive, which is why it is powerful. To those who believe, whose eyes God has opened, how can they resist his commands to repent and believe? What choice do they have? The pleasures of this world are fleeting, and the torment that will follow is not. On the other hand, persecution in this world is fleeting, but the pleasure in the life to come in the presence of God is not.
It's like the old joke, where the man hears, "Your money or your life," and says "I'll take the money!" ... except that here that's really what's meant. There is both a carrot and a stick. If you repent and believe, you will live in the riches of heaven forever, but if you don't hell will be your place for eternity.
The offer is an offer you can't refuse - but it's not an attempt to rob you. You'd be a fool to turn down heaven for hell.
But people do, because they do not believe either the threats or the rewards. They cannot be coaxed or cajoled, because they are blind to the truth.
Dear Christian readers, be a light to them. Open their eyes to the truth. The law is written on their hearts. They know they sin and somewhere, perhaps buried deeply, they know they need a Savior. Show them the truth as best you can.
The PCA's Confession of Faith (based on the WCF) states:
8. To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption, he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same; making intercession for them, and revealing unto them, in and by the word, the mysteries of salvation; effectively persuading them by his Spirit to believe and obey, and governing their hearts by his word and Spirit; overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdom, in such manner, and ways, as are most consonant to his wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.(source)
Since Amyraldians normally assert that Christ purchased redemption also for the reprobate (or deny that redemption is "purchased" at all), therefore I would submit that a man who teaches Amyraldianism would be unable to subscribe to the confession of faith of the PCA.
However, the PCA's BCO states (Chapter 21-4):
While our Constitution does not require the candidate’s affirmation of every statement and/or proposition of doctrine in our Confession of Faith and Catechisms, it is the right and responsibility of the Presbytery to determine if the candidate is out of accord with any of the fundamentals of these doctrinal standards and, as a consequence, may not be able in good faith sincerely to receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of this Church as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures (cf. BCO 21-5, Q.2; 24-6, Q.2).This means that even though a candidate may be out of accord with the Confession of Faith, in the PCA such a candidate may still be ordained (this has interesting consequences for the Federal Vision controversy as well). The only remaining question, then, would be whether this difference is "hostile to the system" or "strikes at the vitals of religion."
Therefore, in examining a candidate for ordination, the Presbytery shall inquire not only into the candidate’s knowledge and views in the areas specified above, but also shall require the candidate to state the specific instances in which he may differ with the Confession of Faith and Catechisms in any of their statements and/or propositions. The court may grant an exception to any difference of doctrine only if in the court’s judgment the candidate’s declared difference is not out of accord with any fundamental of our system of doctrine because the difference is neither hostile to the system nor strikes at the vitals of religion.
I think "strikes at the vitals of religion," is certainly going too far. It is a serious error, and it does seem to be hostile to the system. Specifically, the doctrinal difference goes to the fundamental issue of Christ's priestly role.
Consequently, I answer the above question, "nay." I do not believe it would be proper for an open Amyraldian to be ordained as an officer of the PCA.
N.B. Note, I do not say on this blog whether I am personally a member of the PCA. I leave readers to draw their own conclusions from that disclaimer.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
The basic gist is a discussion about Scripture, their inspiration, and how they should be understood. Obviously the video is for the benefit of Christians, particularly those who hold to the document that Dr. White is discussing, [UPDATE: which is the 1978 Chicago Statement on Innerancy (link)].
UPDATE: Here is James White's own summary of the video, with a hotlink to it (link).
- Thanks to Dr. White for correcting me as to the document being discussed.
May God give us greater wisdom in the restraint of our tongues (and fingertips),
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
1. All that we have hitherto said of Christ leads to this one result, that condemned, dead, and lost in ourselves, we must in him seek righteousness, deliverance, life and salvation, as we are taught by the celebrated words of Peter, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved," (Acts 4: 12).
2. The name of Jesus was not given him at random, or fortuitously, or by the will of man, but was brought from heaven by an angel, as the herald of the supreme decree; the reason also being added, "for he shall save his people from their sins," (Mat 1: 21).
3. In these words attention should be paid to what we have elsewhere observed, that the office of Redeemer was assigned him in order that he might be our Saviour.
4. Still, however, redemption would be defective if it did not conduct us by an uninterrupted progression to the final goal of safety.
5. Therefore, the moment we turn aside from him in the minutest degree, salvation, which resides entirely in him, gradually disappears; so that all who do not rest in him voluntarily deprive themselves of all grace.
6. The observation of Bernard well deserves to be remembered: The name of Jesus is not only light but food also, yea, oil, without which all the food of the soul is dry; salt, without which as a condiment whatever is set before us is insipid; in fine, honey in the mouth, melody in the ear, joy in the heart, and, at the same time, medicine; every discourse where this name is not heard is absurd, (Bernard in Cantica., Serm. 15).
7. But here it is necessary diligently to consider in what way we obtain salvation from him, that we may not only be persuaded that he is the author of it, but having embraced whatever is sufficient as a sure foundation of our faith, may eschew all that might make us waver.
8. For seeing no man can descend into himself, and seriously consider what he is, without feeling that God is angry and at enmity with him, and therefore anxiously longing for the means of regaining his favour, (this cannot be without satisfaction), the certainty here required is of no ordinary description, - sinners, until freed from guilt, being always liable to the wrath and curse of God, who, as he is a just judge, cannot permit his law to be violated with impunity, but is armed for vengeance.
Compare (4) with this:
Prop. LIX Those that dare say, that Christ is an imperfect Redeemer if he do not procure Faith itself for every Man that he Dies for, (which is their Master Argument) may as well say, that God is an imperfect Creator, because he maketh not Worms to be Men; or that he is an imperfect Conservator because he preserved not man from Mortality, Damnation and Antecedent Calamities; especially from Sin: Or that he is imperfectly Merciful, because he permits Men to sin; and Condemns them: Or that Christ is an Imperfect Redeemer of the Elect, because he suffers them after his Redemption to Sin, Suffer and Die: Or, that the Holy Ghost is an imperfect Sanctifier and Caller, because many wicked Men are Sanctified and Believe imperfectly (so as will not suffice to Salvation) and because they resist and quench the Spirit, and fall from that Faith and Sanctification which they had. Or that the Spirit is an imperfect Comforter; because so many Saints Live and Die in such uncomformitable sadness: Or that Scripture is an imperfect means, because the Effect is so imperfect. In a word, they may as well say, that where God doth not overcome mens wicked dispositions, he is an imperfect God to them in regard of his
Mercies: All which beseem not the Tongue of a Christian.
Richard Baxter, Universal Redemption of Mankind by the Lord Jesus Christ (London, 1694), pp. 65-66.
Obviously, I disagree with Baxter. So, I dare to say, did the person whose numbered sentences I quoted first. If you are tired of wondering what else the first writer wrote, here's the source (link).
Let's throw a few other writers into the mix:
On the side of the Father this part of the covenant has been fulfilled to countless myriads. God the Father and God the Spirit have not been behindhand in their divine contract. And mark you, this side shall be as fully and as completely finished and carried out as the other. Christ can say of what he promised to do. “It is finished!” and the like shall be said by all the glorious covenanters. All for whom Christ died shall be pardoned, all justified, all adopted. The Spirit shall quicken them all, shall give them all faith, shall bring them all to heaven, and they shall, every one of them, without let or hindrance, stand accepted in the beloved, in the day when the people shall be numbered, and Jesus shall be glorified.
Another passage of this apostle, which shows that all who are made partakers of the benefits of Christ’s redemption, are in their first state wicked, desperately wicked, is Rom. v. 6-10. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”—Here all for whom Christ died, and who are saved by him, are spoken of as being in their first state sinners, ungodly, enemies to God, exposed to divine wrath, and without strength, without ability to help themselves, or deliver their souls from this miserable state.
1f. The text in 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15 is sometimes brought as a proof of Christ’s dying for all men in an unlimited sense; “if one died for all, then were all dead”: now let it be observed, that in the supposition “if one died for all”, the word “men” is not used; it is not “all men”, but all, and may be supplied from other scriptures, “all” his “people”, whom Christ came to save; and “all the sheep”, he laid down his life for; all the members of the “church” for whom he gave himself; “all the sons” whom he rings to glory: and the conclusion, “then were all dead”, is not to be understood of their being dead “in” sin, which is no consequence of the death of Christ; but of their being dead to sin in virtue of it; and could it be understood in the first sense, it would only prove that all for whom Christ died are dead in sin, which is true of the elect of God as of others (Eph. 2:1), but it would not prove that Christ died for all those that are dead in sin, which is the case of every man; but the latter sense is best, for to be dead to sin is the fruit and effect of Christ’s death; Christ bore the sins of his people on the cross, that they being “dead to sin, should live unto righteousness”; through the death of Christ they become dead to the damning power of sin; and to the law, as a cursing law; that they might serve the Lord in newness of spirit: this puts them into a capacity of living to him, and affords the strongest argument, drawn from his love in dying for them, to such purposes; to influence and engage them to live to his glory; (see Rom. 6:2, 6; 7:4, 6). And let it be further observed; that the same persons Christ died for, for them he rose again; now as Christ was delivered for the offences of men unto death, he was raised again for their justification; and if he rose for the justification of all men, then all would be justified; whereas they are not, as before observed.
For whom did Christ die? Who were the ones He intended to redeem by His blood-shedding? Surely the Lord Jesus had some absolute determination before Him when He went to the Cross. If He had, then it necessarily follows that the extent of that purpose was limited, because an absolute determination of purpose must be effected. If the absolute determination of Christ included all mankind, then all
mankind would most certainly be saved. To escape this inevitable conclusion many have affirmed that there was not such absolute determination before Christ, that in His death a merely conditional provision of salvation has been made for all mankind. The refutation of this assertion is found in the promises made by the Father to His
Son before He went to the Cross, yea, before He became incarnate. The Old Testament Scriptures represent the Father as promising the Son a certain reward for His sufferings on behalf of sinners. At this stage we shall confine ourselves to one or two statements recorded in the well known Fifty-third of Isaiah. There we find God saying, "When Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed," that "He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied," and that God's righteous Servant "should justify many" (vv. 10 and 11). But here we would pause and ask, How could it be certain that Christ should "see His seed," and "see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied," unless the salvation of certain members of the human race had been Divinely decreed, and therefore was sure? How could it be certain that Christ should "justify many," if no effectual provision was made that any should receive Him as their Lord and Saviour? On the other hand, to insist that the Lord Jesus did expressly purpose the salvation of all
mankind is to charge Him with that which no intelligent being should be guilty of, namely, to design that which by virtue of His omniscience He knew would never come to pass. Hence, the only alternative left us is that, so far as the pre-determined purpose of His death is concerned Christ died for the elect only. Summing up in a sentence, which we trust will be intelligible to every reader, we
would say, Christ died not merely to make possible the salvation of all mankind, but to make certain the salvation of all that the Father had given to Him. Christ died not simply to render sins pardonable, but "to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Heb. 9:26). As to whose "sin" (i.e., guilt, as in 1 John 1:7, etc.) has
been "put away," Scripture leaves us in no doubt-it was that of the elect, the "world" (John 1:29) of God's people!
I'd exhort folks to consider the statements themselves, without spending a great deal of time on the personalities.
Praise be to our Perfect Redeemer!