Friday, March 30, 2007

More Post Modern Big Brother Interference.

More Post Modern Big Brother Interference.
Author: tartanarmy (4:48 pm)

Judge warns of child-abusing homeschoolers
Court is 'shocked' by lack of government authority over students
Posted: March 10, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Bob Unruh
© 2007

A Superior Court judge in New Jersey says homeschooling is just about the same as deliberate child abuse.

In fact, he says, he just might name a school district in his state as a defendant in a current court dispute, citing the district's "shocking" failure to monitor and test all students – including homeschoolers.

"In today's threatening world, where we seek to protect children from abuse, not just physical, but also educational abuse, how can we not monitor the educational welfare of all our children? A child in New Jersey, who recently was found unfed and locked in a putrid bedroom was allegedly 'homeschooled' and because no one, such as a teacher or nurse, was able to observe any abuse in a school setting, it went undiscovered," wrote Judge Thomas Zampino in a case that came before him.

That's even though New Jersey state law does forbid child abuse, and its regulations regarding homeschooling say parents or guardians are allowed "to educate the child at home." Further, the state law notes they are not required to submit any type of communication of intent to a local school board, nor are parents required to have their plans approved by a board.

In fact, state law allows a school board in New Jersey to act against a homeschooling parent only if there is "credible evidence that the parent, guardian or other person having custody or control of a school-age child is not causing the child either to attend school (public or nonpublic) or to receive equivalent instruction elsewhere than at school …"

Despite New Jersey state law, Zampino insists what needs to happen is this:

Certain basic requirements and safeguards should be implemented that protect all children, once the decision to "homeschool" a child has been made by the parents, as follows:

1. A parent/guardian who seeks to homeschool his/her child(ren) must register the child(ren) in their home school district, so that no child slips through the cracks of our education system.

2. A curriculum must be presented and filed with the local board of education and some "homeschool" training seminar required for the teaching parent (a four-hour video would suffice).

3. Testing on the same standardized basis for all students shall be administered to all homeschool children on an annual basis to measure whether "equivalent instruction" is being received by a child "elsewhere than at school."

A New Jersey lawyer familiar with homeschooling precedents in his state told WND the judge suggests the parents in the divorce dispute work it out. But he said the judge's additional comments are alarming.

"He's presenting this as though it's authority," Christopher Brennan said. "He's just making this up, with no basis whatsoever, saying that this is what should be done."

The judge, in fact, didn't stop with just the New Jersey situation.

"Here, [a witness in court] testified that approximately two million of today's fifty five million school age children are presently being homeschooled in the United States. Such numbers outside the public school system cannot be left without any review requirements under the law," Zampino said.

"How can we have as existing law for these children, only two court decisions that are over 40 years old, and no state statute that outlines a framework for school districts when parents choose this alternative for their children" the judge asked.

The Home School Legal Defense Association, which works worldwide on behalf of homeschool students and projects, said it couldn't comment on the specific issues in the case. But the organization did note that the judge's words did not change New Jersey law.

"In order to protect individual freedoms, the founders of our nation wanted to be sure that governmental powers did not become overly concentrated. To prevent this, they wisely split power into three branches – legislative, judicial and executive. As the founders conceived it, the judicial branch has no power to make new laws. That power belongs to the legislature working through representatives elected by the people," the group said in a statement.

Brennan, however, noted that once a judge's opinion becomes available, it is easy for another judge to quote from that, or even cite it as a conclusion.

"What really is problematic [is] this is symptomatic of classic judicial activism. The Legislature clearly spells out what's required to educate a child in the state of New Jersey," Brennan said. "They've said, 'This is the requirement,' and it's just that they [homeschooling parents] have to provide an equivalent instruction."

The judge said the status of homeschooling, to him, isn't acceptable. His comments were prompted by concerns by Stephen Hamilton that his wife, Tara Hamilton, from whom he separated in 2006, was adequately teaching their children at home.

"In questioning by this court, the mother made it clear that in the ten years she had been homeschooling the children, no one from any Board of Education in Montclair (where they lived until October 2006) ever visited the home. Ms. Hamilton never went to any school or board office, no lesson plan was ever reviewed and no progress report or testing of the children was ever performed. This is shocking to the court," he wrote.

"In this day and age where we seek to protect children from harm and sexual predators, so many children are left unsupervised. It is further shocking to this court that in September, 2001 the New Jersey Department of Education published answers to frequently asked questions about homeschooling as a guide to local school districts that listed the following:

1. Parents/Guardians are not required by law to notify their public school district of their intention to educate the child elsewhere than at school.

2. The law does not require or authorize the local board of education to review and approve the curriculum or program of a child educated elsewhere than at school.

3. No certification to teach is required to be held by the parent.

4. No standardized test(s) are administered to the children.

The judge, however, said he wasn't attacking homeschooling.

His comments, rather, are "a statement that it is necessary to register those children for whom this alternative is chosen and to monitor that their educational needs are being adequately nurtured. Judicial interpretation of the statute requires such steps to measure 'equivalent instruction' when the alternative 'elsewhere than at school' is chosen by parents.'"

In the case at hand, involving the Hamilton family, the judge said the father has an administrative remedy at hand. He may contact the Ridgewood Board of Education "and the school district will file suit … against Ms. Hamilton for the children's non-attendance at school." When she then notifies the court she's chosen homeschooling she will then be required to show the school district it is equivalent, the judge said.

The HSLDA said the judge probably would not have been shocked had he been aware that New Jersey's homeschooling laws are similar to those in other states.

"The judge is mistaken, pure and simple," Brennan told WND. "A judge can be mistaken."

He said the two million students homeschooled in the United States now are not being neglected, either. They are, in fact, protected from being molested by teachers, which while rare, does happen.

In a commentary on the Constitutionally Correct site, the writers said New Jersey judges "who legislate from the bench are giving Massachusetts judges (and German jack boots) a run for their money. … The court's opinion is a judicial temper tantrum. The judge wails that New Jersey law doesn't fit his idea of what the law should be. Not only does New Jersey law not require government monitoring and testing of homeschoolers, the state gives public schools no legal authorization to do so…"

The reference to Germany was about an issue on which WND has reported extensively. In that case, police took into custody a 15-year-old student, Melissa Busekros, and a judge ordered her into a psychiatric hospital, for being homeschooled, which remains illegal in that country.

Wolfgang Drautz, consul general of the Federal Republic of Germany, has said that "the public has a legitimate interest in countering the rise of parallel societies that are based on religion or motivated by different worldviews and in integrating minorities into the population as a whole."

That means, worldviews that do not align with those taught in Germany's public schools must be stamped out, he said.

The HSLD has called the case an "outrage."

Further, American homeschoolers should be concerned, as WND has reported, because the ease with which similar restrictions on free choice could be imposed in the United States.

Michael Farris, cofounder of the HSLDA, has called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to protect the right of parents to educate their children at home, in light of such developments in Europe.

Are you a representative of the media who would like to interview the author of this story? Let us know.

Read some of the links regarding Homeschooling at the link below. Go to the bottom of the page to read more articles..
Disturbing stuff.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Covenant, Universal Call And Definite Atonement.

Covenant, Universal Call And Definite Atonement.
Author: tartanarmy (10:46 pm)

A must read, especially if you are a Calvinist who is ever being accused of Hyperism by those who are less than reformed.


Covenant, Universal Call And Definite Atonement

by Dr. Roger Nicole
Found here

There are three propositions that have achieved a great deal of currency and acceptance among historians of dogma and that deserve in my opinion to be roundly challenged, the more so since one and two appear plainly mutually incompatible. They are as follows: (1) Definite atonement was not and could not be the position of John Calvin; it is a development produced by a kind of Calvinistic scholasticism for which Beza is mainly to blame. See for example R. T. Kendall and, with much better documentation, Curt Daniel and Adam Clifford. (2) The federal theology movement, which had a strong representation in the Netherlands and later in New England, constituted a softening of the original position of Calvinism and indeed of John Calvin himself. Calvin and his immediate successors viewed God as nuda potentia, one who was giving no account to anybody of his own sovereign decisions, even those that involved the eternal destiny of angels and humans either in heaven or in hell. The federal position, it was asserted, softened this harshness by emphasizing that God had voluntarily bound himself by a covenant (foedus) in which his decisions would not appear so arbitrary but would be structured in terms of a compact with reciprocal commitment. See for example Perry Miller. (3) Definite atonement and a universal well-meant offer of the gospel are incompatible; one will have to choose one or the other. Arminians, Amyraldians and others choose a universal call, while J. Brine, J. Hussey, K. Schilder and H. Hoeksema choose definite atonement and reject the propriety of a universal invitation.

I. The First Proposition

With respect to the first proposition, I may perhaps refer to an article I wrote in which an historical survey of the handling of this question was followed by an examination of texts of Calvin allegedly supportive of universal atonement and a series of thirteen arguments to vindicate the opposite position. 1

II. The Second Proposition

With respect to the second proposition, we may note that a softening of strict Calvinism, if present at all, is likely to occur in relation to definite atonement, which appears to many to be the most unacceptable of the five points. If indeed federal theology softened original Calvinism, then two implications would appear to follow.

First, original Calvinism presumably held to definite atonement or else would not need to be softened. If this indeed is true, as Perry Miller thought, then we have gained the point that Calvin himself held to definite atonement and that the universalists represent a deviation from the original Reformed stance.

If anyone asserts that a relatively soft Calvinism was made brittle by scholasticism, which in turn was softened by federal theology, this would require more proof than has been heretofore advanced. It would also require the acceptance of the unlikely myth of a gigantic chasm between Calvin and Beza, a myth so ably refuted by the labors of Richard A. Muller.

Second, in softening original Calvinism, federal theology would presumably be eager to espouse universal atonement, as M. Amyraut did. Brian Armstrong sees a notable indication of this in the fact that Amyraut held to three covenants rather than two. But a study of federal theology will evince the following facts.

Federalism had its origin long before J. Coccejus (1602-1669) since it is articulated in Bullinger, Ursinus and Olevianus in the sixteenth century. William Ames (1576-1633), whom Perry Miller rightly views as a major influence in the theological development in New England, took a very lively part in the Arminian controversy and rejected all five tenets of the Remonstrants, as is abundantly clear from his Rescriptio ad Responsum Nic. Grennchovii, Coronis ad Collationem Hagiensem and Anti-Synodalia Scripta. This assertion is typical: "As for the intention of application, it is rightly said that Christ made satisfaction only for those whom he saved." 2

J. Coccejus, viewed rightly as the initiator not of a covenantal outlook but of a study of theology along lines of the history of revelation, nowadays called Biblical theology, strongly affirmed definite atonement. This may be found explicitly in his Summa Doctrinae de Foedere et Testamento Dei. In chap. 5 he devotes 48 paragraphs, out of a total of 650 for the whole of Christian doctrine, to the question "For whom did Christ provide surety?" 3 This is confirmed in his comments on passages like 1 Tim 2:4 and 1 John 2:2. In correspondence with A. Rivet and the theological faculty of Leiden he expressly disagreed with Amyraut.

F. Burman (1632-1679) devotes ten pages to the discussion of the question "For whom did Christ die?" The answer is very explicit: "For the redeemed," "for the elect." 4

Wilhelmus a Brakel's (1635-1711) main work, Redelijke Godsdienst, first published in 1700, was republished twenty times in the Netherlands between 1701 and 1800 and repeatedly since that time. The first volume has now appeared in English. Chapter 22 is called "The State of Christ's Humiliation by Which He Made Satisfaction for the Sins of the Elect." Particular atonement is clearly asserted and vindicated against objections.5

H. Witsius (1636-1708), one of the influential representatives of the federal school, discusses the satisfaction of Christ. He asserts and develops the proposition that "Christ neither engaged nor satisfied but for those whose person he sustained… Christ, according to the will of God the Father, and his own purpose, did neither engage nor satisfy, and consequently in no manner die, but only for all those whom the Father gave him, and who are actually saved." 6

A strong articulation of the Biblical doctrine of the covenant of grace is to be found in many Reformed confessions and theologians, recognized as orthodox both by those who agree with them and by those who differ from them. I will mention here only a few names: F. Turrettini, J. H. Heidegger, F. Gomarus, G. Voetius, S. Maresius, P. Molinaeus, F. Spanheim, S. Rutherford, T. Goodwin, J. Cotton, F. Roberts, J. Owen, C. Hodge, A. A. Hodge, B. B. Warfield, W. Cunningham, J. Buchanan, G. Smeaton, H. Bavinck, L. Berkhof, A. Kuyper, G. Vos, R. L. Dabney, J. H. Thornwell. All of these and more, together with the Westminster Standards, the Savoy Declaration and the Second London (Philadelphia) Confession of Faith, held to definite atonement.

Indeed it is precisely the Biblical covenant structure that provides us with the best understanding of Rom 5:12-21; 1 Cor 15:22, 45-49. For it is covenantal unity that accounts for the possibility of substitution even with respect to guilt. Adam as the covenant head of the human race incurred (in Eden) guilt not only for himself but for all his descendants by natural generation: "In Adam all [that is, all members of the race except Christ] die." Christ as the head of redeemed humanity can bear substitutionally the guilt of the sins of all the elect and bestow on them the imputation of his own perfect obedience and righteousness: "So in Christ all [that is, all who are united to Christ in the covenant of grace] will be made alive."

III. The Third Proposition

With respect to the third proposition I offer the following discussion. It should be obvious to any reader of the NT that the call of the gospel is universal in character. It is universal in its range: It applies to people taken out of every nation or category of humanity. It is universal with respect to time: It applies to the whole period from the coming of Jesus Christ to the end of times. It is universal in its distribution: It must be presented to everyone we can reach without any distinction. To suggest that there are certain prerequisites to be fulfilled before one can be addressed with the call of the gospel is very mischievous. The only prerequisite Scripture knows is that one should be a member of fallen humanity, and this applies to every man, woman, or child who can at all be reached with the good news of the gospel.

It is not the purpose of the present article to attempt to give a full substantiation of this great truth. For the present purpose it will suffice to point to two categories of passages that make the universality of the gospel abundantly clear.

There are a number of passages in which the precise scope of gospel preaching is stated in Scripture. Among these one might quote Matt 28:19: "Make disciples of all nations." Notice the fourfold use of "all" in vv. 18-20: "all authority," "all nations," "all things I commanded you," "always." Luke 24:47 states that "repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations." Acts 17:30 affirms that God "now commands all people everywhere to repent." These are unmistakable expressions of a universal design in the proclamation of redemption and the calling of men and women to repentance and faith.

A large number of passages show clearly that not all who are exposed to the call of the gospel will in fact be among the redeemed. Many passages assert specifically that some who are "called"-that is, are invited in terms of the gospel message-will harden their hearts and refuse the entreaty of the gospel of grace. Examples may be found in Luke 19:42 and Matt 23:37 where our Lord laments over the hardness of the people of Jerusalem who refused to respond to the call of God issued through the presence of Messiah. In John 3:19 the verdict is: "Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil." Here again light was presented to many who in the end chose to remain in darkness. In Matt 11:21 ff. and in parallel passages our Lord complains of the hardness of heart of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum to whom the gospel call was addressed but who rejected it. The events of the life of Christ and of the apostolic period surely give evidence of the principle set forth by Jesus: "Many are invited but few are chosen" (Matt 22:14). Since, then, the gospel call was addressed to some who did not respond positively, it is plain that the extent of the call is greater than that of the appropriate acceptance. The second series of passages therefore may not by themselves prove universality, but they do manifest that there is propriety in a call addressed to people who do not respond.

When the matter of the scope of the call is brought into relation to the scope and design of the atonement many feel that a difficulty looms on the horizon. If God intends to save some and has made provision for those only, is it appropriate to extend a call to some who are not encompassed in the saving purpose of God? To act in this way, on God's part, is claimed to be insincere since he would be perceived as issuing a call when he has no intention to receive into his fellowship some whom he nevertheless invites. On the part of those who preach the gospel, it is thought that to address a universal call is presumptuous since that would be extending an invitation in God's name to people whom God does not in fact invite. This line of reasoning has led to two very different varieties of approach to the issue.

Some very strong Calvinists, keeping a firm hold on the particularistic elective purpose of God and on the definiteness of the atoning work of Jesus Christ, have concluded that no call can rightly be offered except to the elect. Unfortunately this view, advocated by men of the caliber of Joseph Hussey (1660-1726), John Gill (1697-1771), John Brine (1703-1765) and, in more recent times, Klaas Schilder (1890-1952) and Herman Hoeksema (1886-1925), runs in direct conflict with the strong evidence previously alluded to, to the effect that the call is broader than the acceptance and is in fact universal. The work of evangelism and of missions within that frame of reference is painfully constricted. If there is one comfort in the presence of such a phenomenon it is that people of that ilk usually fail to reproduce themselves and therefore they do not threaten for a very long time the integrity of the gospel.

Others, recognizing the Biblical character of the universal gospel call, have sought an argument there against the definiteness of the atonement. Here we find a great company of thinkers from varying backgrounds, some Eastern Orthodox, some Roman Catholics, many Lutherans, many Arminians and some hypothetical Universalists in the Reformed churches. With one voice these people say that since God's gospel call is universal, provision made by Christ must be universal as well. It is therefore incumbent upon those who hold to the doctrine of definite atonement to consider this matter with care.

Perhaps the best way of considering this issue may be to attempt to assess the precise ingredients that are indispensable for a well-meant offer. The purpose that we pursue here therefore is to consider the subject of offers in general and specifically to examine whether certain features that some deem indispensable for sincerity in the offer of the gospel are in fact indispensable in offers of any kind. This plan of investigation surely appears legitimate, for it is not enough to appeal to some sentiment or presumption is raising the argument. But those who wish to point to a disparity between the universality of the offer and the definiteness of the atonement should be prepared to show that on these terms something is lacking that must be rated an indispensable component of any well-meant offer. It is our purpose to proceed therefore by analyzing offers at the human level.

It must be noted even before we start that the analogies we shall draw have very real limitations. Indeed they are drawn not for the purpose of representing the fullness of the gospel ministry but merely in order to focus on that which is basic for a sincere offer of any kind. It will not do therefore in criticizing this approach to say that the analogies are derived from a type of activity that ranks low on the scale of moral values, or that they are commercial in nature, or that God in his immensity transcends the limitations found among men. All of this may be true, but the point of the analogies is to emphasize that we cannot insist, when dealing with offers on God's part, upon requirements that do not apply in the whole subject of offers in general, or at lest we cannot so insist unless we are prepared to show why on God's part these additional requirements should obtain. This is the point of the analogies that are now going to be presented.

IV. Coextensive Provision

People often say that in order to have a well-meant offer there must be a provision coextensive with the needs or the desires of the people reached by the offer. This is precisely what appears to be asserted in connection with the scope of the work of Christ when opponents of definite atonement say, "In order that God may offer salvation to everyone in fairness, it is necessary that Christ should have absorbed the guilt of everyone and thus by his redemptive work secured salvation or at least salvability for everyone."

Let us imagine an offer appearing in The Boston Sunday Herald Advertiser, issued by Sears, Roebuck and Company, illustrated and highlighted with large print. In it Sears offers a two-cycle Kenmore automatic washer at a cost of $157. Now The Boston Sunday Herald Advertiser is issued with a circulation of some 300,000 copies. Shall I conclude that Sears has gathered within its Boston area 300,000 washing machines of this type in order to make provision for the offers that it has issued, or shall I judge that it is guilty of unethical practice if it has failed to stock this number in its Boston warehouse? Undoubtedly not! Anybody with an ounce of sense knows that companies do not accumulate as many objects as they distribute advertisements. This is perfectly obvious in the case of Sears, Roebuck and Company because on that same page they may offer also some electric dryers, some refrigerators and some color television sets, and to imagine that they store 300,000 of each of these appears utterly ludicrous. We would assume of course that they have a considerable quantity of these since they go to the trouble of advertising them. How many of these they might stock is a matter of internal administration of the company, which is really not subject to the inquiry of the customers. Now of course if these are "come-ons"-that is, sample objects of which they have a very few specimens available and that they use to attract people into their stores, not meaning to sell them at the price stated but intending to use them simply as a lure-then a charge of sharp practice could probably be leveled at the company. But in the present situation there is no evidence whatever that this is the case. All that the customer really has the right to expect is that if he/she appears at any of the stores listed within the time stated and with the appropriate amount of cash he/she will be sold the object advertised at the price stipulated. No coextensiveness of provision applies here at all, and it is difficult to see why one should be prone to insist on coextensiveness in relation to the offer of salvation.

V. Coextensive Expectation

Even though the above point may be conceded, and coextensive provision need not be requisite for a well-meant offer, some opponents urge, an offer cannot be held to be sincere unless there is some expectation that it may be favorably answered. This expectation cannot be present if God has elected some of mankind and sent Christ to die for them only.

We need not spend much time on this objection, which, if at all valid, would be quite as damaging to the Roman Catholic, the Eastern Orthodox, the Lutheran, and the evangelical Arminian as to the Calvinist, since all alike hold that God foreknows all things and would be unable to offer the gospel sincerely to those he knows will refuse.

Returning for a brief moment to the illustration given under the first point, we may indicate that the firm advertising the washing machine does not at all expect to receive several hundred thousand customers for it as a result of its ad. They probably will be quite satisfied if a hundred or more appear in response to it. If total expectation were necessary for a sincere offer, very few offers could be publicized. We conclude therefore without further discussion that a coextensive expectation is not an essential prerequisite for a sincere offer.

VI. Utmost Assistance

The greatest difficulty in the path of the sincerity of the gospel offer on Calvinistic terms, it is urged, lies in the fact that those whom the offer reaches are seen as totally unable to respond in their own strength. Unless God creates in them a new heart and energizes them to repentance and faith, they simply cannot respond to the invitation of the gospel. To make this offer, therefore, is a cruel mockery for their plight, comparable to the action of a man who would encourage people in a house for the blind to come and admire some pictures.

If an offer is sincere, it is urged, the one who makes it ought to assist everyone whom the offer reaches to the utmost of his/her ability. If God did not do that for all humans, his offer of the gospel could not be called sincere.

In response to this we might say that one can scarcely recognize any truth at all in this line of argumentation. A firm that advertises does not have any obligation to assist anyone in securing the objects that are publicized. In most cases no such help is offered. In some cases some help is offered to some, but those who are not assisted may not on that account say that the advertisement was not sincere with respect to them.

To introduce into the discussion the concept of assistance is to inject an element that is quite foreign to the question at hand. It may be noted in any case that the disability under which sinners labor is not forcibly produced by direct action of God but is self-induced so that they, rather than God, are rightly charged with their own plight, dramatically revealed in their obduracy in the presence of the gospel call. We conclude here again that utmost assistance is not an essential prerequisite for a sincere offer.

And now we ask: "What is the essential prerequisite for a sincere offer?" Simply this: that if the terms of the offer be observed, that which is offered be actually granted. In connection with the gospel offer the terms are that a person should repent and believe. Whenever that occurs, salvation is actu-ally conferred. There is not a single case on record in the whole history of mankind where a person came to God in repentance and faith and was refused salvation. This our Lord specifically promised: "Whoever comes to me I will never drive away" (John 6:37). If the question be raised "Who is going to come?", the answer is "All that the Father gives me will come to me" (John 6:44). Far from undermining the sincere offer of the gospel, the doctrine of definite atonement undergirds the call. It provides a real rather than a hypothetical salvation as that which is offered. It does not expect the fulfillment of an unrealizable condition on the part of the sinner as a prerequisite for salvation. But it confidently looks to God who initiates the offer and can also raise sinners from death to life and thus enable them in sovereign grace to repent and to believe so that they will appropriate the benefit secured for them by the death of Christ.

If it be asked in what terms the offer of the gospel must be presented and whether it is appropriate prior to any response on the part of sinners to say to them "God loves you with redemptive love" and "Jesus Christ died for your sins," the answer to the query must be that these forms of language are not strictly legitimate unless there is some assurance that the people involved are in fact among the elect. It is better to say "God in his unfathomable mercy has been pleased to love sinners such as you and me, and he invites you to repent and believe in Jesus Christ. If you do so, you will find that the work of Christ avails for you, and you will be saved." There is no need to fear that anyone responding to this call in terms of the invitation and exercising true repentance and faith will ever find that somehow God has made no provision for him/her and that salvation cannot be granted. Thus in respect to the form of invitation those who hold to universal atonement do not even have a very substantial advantage, although it is true that they feel free to express themselves in ways the upholders of definite atonement must feel obliged to avoid.

It is a matter of plain record that mainline Calvinists who have made a clear-cut commitment to definite atonement have also maintained the propriety of the universal call of the gospel. This is not only the position of individual thinkers but has been embodied in some of the major creedal formulations:

The promise of the Gospel is that whosoever believeth in Christ crucified shall not perish, but have everlasting life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of His good pleasure sends the Gospel. 7

As many as are called by the Gospel are unfeignedly [Latin serio] called; for God hath most earnestly and truly declared in His word what will be acceptable to Him, namely, that all who are called should comply with the invitation. He, moreover, seriously [Latin serio] promises eternal life and rest to as many as shall come to Him and believe in Him. 8

Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the word…9

The external call itself, which is made by the preaching of the Gospel, is on the part of God also, who calls, earnest and sincere. 10

It would not be difficult to enumerate individual theologians who have given expression to the same conviction, but this appears superfluous at this point.

We sometimes hear that all evangelists and missionaries have held to a doctrine of universal atonement and that this is what has given them confidence to excel in their calling and to address to men and women a universal call of the gospel. But this is simply not true. Surely George Whitefield must be recognized as an evangelistic preacher of the first magnitude; and so was Jonathan Edwards, under whose ministry the great awakening originated; and so was Charles H. Spurgeon, who was probably unrivaled in his day for his evangelistic zeal and effectiveness. It would be easy to list missionaries like William Carey, John Paton, David Brainerd and many others who were devout Calvinists. The allegation, therefore, that a doctrine of definite atonement interferes with a proper development of zeal in evangelistic and missionary endeavors is simply not supported by the facts of history. Meanwhile, since there exists always a temptation, even for the Christian, to proffer excuses for his laziness, those who are Calvinists need to be careful not to allow themselves this pretense as a pillow of laziness. As indicated above, it is really the Calvinist who has in his theological approach the best basis for making a real offer, and on that account he should be most zealous in the proclamation of the gospel.

Way of the Master!

Way of the Master!
Author: tartanarmy (7:56 pm)

Many Christians are aware of this ministry, and if not, I suggest you check it out!
These guys use the Law of God and take it to the street in order to witness to the lost, and so much more.
I respect these guys so much for their efforts and their commitment to evangelism. I do not agree with every thing these guys do and say, but as far as being faithful servants of our Lord, they are impeccable Ambassadors of our Great King Jesus. May God bless their ministry to the good of many and for His great namesake. Amen.


click here and listen regularly.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Author: tartanarmy (3:14 am)


The question is not whether Christians have a task in this world or not, but what this task consists of and what is the Scriptural basis and warrant for it

Cornelius Pronk is a graduate of Calvin Seminary and pastor of Brantford Free Reformed Church, Ontario. He is radio pastor of the Banner of Truth Radio Broadcast which can be heard in USA, Canada, Mexico, Europe and the Middle East. He spoke at the USA Banner of Truth conference last year giving two addresses on church discipline.

In the November 1995 edition of the Reformed Theological Journal (98 Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 6AG), he wrote a 15 page article entitled "Neo-Calvinism" examining the teaching of Abraham Kuyper and his followers. It is extremely valuable, being the only readily available evaluation of that movement. The following is the conclusion of his article and is reprinted from that Journal with permission. The full article is available for download here as a Word file, and is provided with permission of the author and the Reformed Theological Journal.

The question is not whether Christians have a task in this world or not, but what this task consists of and what is the Scriptural basis and warrant for it.

Kuyper found the basis in the doctrine of common grace. This doctrine, or at least the way he formulated it, is open to serious question. If he had only meant by common grace what the church has always understood by it, namely God's gracious disposition toward all men, so that he lets his sun shine and his rain fall on the just and the unjust, few in the Reformed community would have a problem with it. Again, if common grace for him meant that God wants his Gospel to be preached to the whole world and offers his grace to all, most would heartily agree. But Kuyper's version of this doctrine includes much more than that. For him common grace is primarily a grace directed to the redemption of the cosmos and culture. By rooting this doctrine in the divine decree of predestination he was able to construct a system whereby God's plan for his creation is realised along a double track: the elect are brought to salvation by Christ as Mediator of redemption (particular grace) and the cosmos with all its potential for culture is redeemed by Christ as Mediator of creation (common grace). Such a conception had to lead to an essentially optimistic view of culture and the world. Not that Kuyper himself lost sight of sin and its awful consequences for the human race and the cosmos. He deeply believed in the antithesis and thus in the fundamental difference between common and particular grace. The same cannot be said of all his disciples, however. If some had problems with his theory of common grace because they saw in it a threat to particular or saving grace, many others were only too happy with it because it offered an escape from what they considered a too rigid view of the Christian's separation from the world. Thus common grace opened the door to worldliness.

Is Neo-Calvinism different from the old, classic Calvinism? Yes, in many ways. W. Aalders, a scholar of renown in the Netherlands who has studied this issue thoroughly does not hesitate to refer to Kuyper and the whole Neo-Calvinist movement as 'The Great Derailment'. In his view, Kuyper with his lop-sided emphasis on culture and social involvement has contributed greatly to what he calls the externalisation of the doctrines of grace, especially justification and regeneration. In Neo-Calvinistic circles, he says, justification is not denied, but no longer experienced as it was by Luther, Calvin and all who live by God's Word rather than by human, be it Christian philosophy. What do Neo-Calvinists still know of justification as an inner occurrence wherein the living Word in union with the Spirit introduces a sinner into the spiritual reality of Christ and his realm? Speculative, abstract, philosophical thinking has eliminated the sovereign, spiritual, inward working of the Word, turning it into a cerebral, intellectual concept. An abstract, organic idea of regeneration as a slowly maturing seed has taken the place of regeneration and justification by God's Word and Spirit.'

Kuyper's zeal for the kingship of Christ in the world had to lead to an acceleration of the process of the secularization of spiritual values. Through ever-increasing contact with the world and exposure to the spirit of the world, the Reformed faith became more and more externalized or hollowed out. Some of Kuyper's closest friends were alarmed by this growing trend in Reformed circles. J.C. Aalders, himself a Neo-Calvinist, warned his colleagues at a ministers' conference in 1916 in these words:

"Our Reformed people, having gradually come into contact with the world of culture are in great danger of being influenced by humanism. To the degree that mysticism and anabaptism have been overcome, God's people have recognised their earthly calling. But now we face the danger of contamination by the spirit of the age. The doctrine of common grace, confessed and put into practice by our people, opens with the world at the same time the danger of conformity to the world. We have not escaped a certain imbalance in our spiritual food. Not enough attention is given to the needs of the individual heart and soul. Outward obedience is not sufficient to salvation.'

About a decade earlier, H. Bavinck had written in an introduction Dutch translation of sermons by the great Scottish divines Ralph Ebenezer Erskine:

"Here we have an important element which is largely lacking among us. We miss this spiritual soul-knowledge. It seems we no longer know what sin and grace, guilt and forgiveness, regeneration and conversion are. We know these things in theory, but we no longer know them in the awful reality of life."

It is well-known that Bavinck became very disillusioned with certain aspects of the Neo-Calvinist movement towards the end of his life, because so much of it seemed to result, be it ever so unintentionally, in worldliness, superficiality and pride.

What Neo-Calvinism has ultimately led to or at least contributed to, can be seen in the apostasy taking place at present in the very churches Kuyper did so much to establish, the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland (Reformed Churches in the Netherlands) and to a lesser degree in their sister churches in North America, the Christian Reformed Church. May God help us avoid making the same mistakes and may he preserve us in the faith once delivered to the saints by the apostles and rediscovered and set forth by the Reformers and their successors the Puritans. What we need is not neo-Calvinism but the old or classic Reformed faith which is Scriptural, confessional and experiential.


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Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Author: tartanarmy (9:55 pm)

What a great read this was for me, and I hope for you too!



Richard A. Muller is P. J. Zondervan Professor of Historical Theology (A.B. Queens College, NY, 1969; M.Div., Union Theological Seminary, NY, 1972; Ph.D., Duke University, 1976).

Dr. Muller is the author of The Unaccommodated Calvin, After Calvin: Studies in the Development of a Theological Tradition, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics (four volumes), God, Creation, and Providence in the Thought of Jacob Arminius, Christ and the Decree, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms, and The Study of Theology. He has also written numerous articles and reviews.



From the Calvin Theological Journal, Vol. 28 (1993): 425-33

Reprinted with permission from Dr. Muller.

Original pagination retained

I once met a minister who introduced himself to me as a "five-point Calvinist." I later learned that, in addition to being a self-confessed five-point Calvinist, he was also an anti-paedobaptist who assumed that the church was a voluntary association of adult believers, that the sacraments were not means of grace but were merely "ordinances" of the church, that there was more than one covenant offering salvation in the time between the Fall and the eschaton, and that the church could expect a thousand-year reign on earth after Christ's Second Coming but before the ultimate end of the world. He recognized no creeds or confessions of the church as binding in any way. I also found out that he regularly preached the "five points" in such a way as to indicate the difficulty of finding assurance of salvation: He often taught his congregation that they had to examine their repentance continually in order to determine whether they had exerted themselves enough in renouncing the world and in "accepting" Christ. This view of Christian life was totally in accord with his conception of the church as a visible, voluntary association of "born again" adults who had "a personal relationship with Jesus."

In retrospect, I recognize that I should not have been terribly surprised at the doctrinal context or at the practical application of the famous five points by this minister — although at the time I was astonished. After all, here was a person, proud to be a five-point Calvinist, whose doctrines would have been repudiated by Calvin. In fact, his doctrines would have gotten him tossed out of Geneva had he arrived there with his brand of "Calvinism" at any time during the late sixteenth or the seventeenth century. Perhaps more to the point, his beliefs stood outside of the theological limits presented by the great confessions


of the Reformed churches—whether the Second Helvetic Confession of the Swiss Reformed church or the Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism of the Dutch Reformed churches or the Westminster standards of the Presbyterian churches. He was, in short, an American evangelical.

I am assuming, of course, that "Calvinist" and "Reformed" are synonyms: Although Calvin was certainly the most famous and, probably the most generally influential of the Reformed theologians of the sixteenth century, his views alone did not constitute either a church or a distinctive theological confession capable of sustaining a church over the course of centuries. His own theology, moreover, was intentionally "churchly" rather than individualistic, particularly in its confessional statements, like the Geneva Catechism. He recognized that there were other theological voices in the Reformed movement of his day, that his personal theology fell within the bounds of this larger movement, and that it remained in dialogue with the theology of other leaders and teachers — notably, Heinrich Bullinger, Peter Martyr Vermigli, and Wolfgang Musculus. Beyond this, the Reformed theology of later confessional documents, such as the Canons of Dort and the Westminster Confession, drew on theological antecedents other than Calvin's Institutes and constituted not a limited Swiss theological movement but an international community of belief.

Calvinism or, better. Reformed teaching, as defined by the great Reformed confessions does include the so-called five points. Just as it is improper, however, to identify Calvin as the sole progenitor of Reformed theology, so also is it incorrect to identify the five points or the document from which they have been drawn, the Canons of Dort, as a full confession of the Reformed faith, whole and entire unto itself. In other words, it would be a major error — both historically and doctrinally — if the five points of Calvinism were understood either as the sole or even as the absolutely primary basis for identifying someone as holding the Calvinistic or Reformed faith. In fact, the Canons of Dort contain five points only because the Arminian articles, the Remonstrance of 1610, to which they responded, had five points. The number five, far from being sacrosanct, is the result of a particular historical circumstance and was determined negatively by the number of articles in the Arminian objection to confessional Calvinism.

These historical and theological comments would seldom if ever be disputed by a member of a confessionally Reformed denomination. It is virtually a truism that the Canons of Dort do not stand by themselves as the confession of the church — and that they exist in order to clarify


disputed points in the church's full confession of faith as represented by the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism. It is also the case that the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism are substantially in agreement with the confessional standards of other branches of the Reformed church, whether the Geneva Catechism or the First and Second Helvetic Confession of the Swiss Reformation or the Scot’s Confession and the Westminster standards of the British and American Presbyterian and Reformed churches. And beyond the confessional consensus, there is a broad theological agreement that built toward the confessional teaching of the Reformed churches in the sixteenth century and has continued to build upon it since that time — from Calvin's Institutes to Kuyper's Dictaten Dogmatiek and beyond.

An of these documents, in addition to standing in substantial agreement on the so-called five points — total inability to attain one's own salvation, unconditional grace, limited efficacy of Christ's all-sufficient work of satisfaction, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of the saints — also stand in substantial agreement on the issues of the baptism of infants, the identification of sacraments as means of grace, and the unity of the one covenant of grace from Abraham to the eschaton. They also — all of them — agree on the assumption that our assurance of the salvation, wrought by grace alone through the work of Christ and God's Spirit in us, rests not on our outward deeds or personal claims but on our apprehension of Christ in faith and on our recognition of the inward work of the Spirit in us. Because this assurance is inward and cannot easily or definitively be externalized, all of these documents also agree that the church is both visible and invisible — that it is a covenanted people of God identified not by externalized indications of the work of God in individuals, such as adult conversion experiences but by the preaching of the word of God and the right administration of the sacraments. Finally, they all agree, either explicitly or implicitly, that the "thousand years" of Revelation 20 is the kingdom of grace established by Christ at his first coming that extends until his Second Coming at the end of the world.

There are, therefore, more than five points and — as far as the confessions and the Reformed dogmaticians from Calvin to Kuyper are concerned — there cannot be such a thing as a "five-point Calvinist" or "five-point Reformed Christian" who owns just those five articles taken from the Canons of Dort and who refuses to accept the other "points" made by genuinely Reformed theology. The issue here is more than simple confessional allegiance. The issue is that the confessions and the classical dogmatic systems of Reformed theology are not an arbitrary


list of more or less biblical ideas — they are carefully embodied patterns of teaching, drawn from Scripture and brought to bear on the life of the church. They are, in short, interpretations of the whole of Christian existence that cohere in all of their points. If some of the less-famous points of Reformed theology, like the baptism of infants, justification by grace alone through faith, the necessity of a thankful obedience consequent upon our faith and justification (the "third use of the law"), the identification of sacraments as means of grace, the so-called amillennial view of the end of the world, and so forth, are stripped away or forgotten, the remaining famous five make very little sense.

An example of this problem — I hesitate to say "a case in point" — is the theological system propounded by the English high (some would say "hyper") Calvinistic Baptist, John Gill, and the way that his system has been read out into the life of some of the so-called Particular Baptist
denominations. Gill most certainly affirmed the five points. In fact, he held an intensified version of the third point by arguing that Christ's work was limited in its sufficiency as well as in its efficacy: Christ's satisfaction was not merely, according to Gill, efficient for the elect only, it was also sufficient for the sins of the elect only. With this radical sense of election, Gill could view the entire order of salvation as taking place in eternity — justification and adoption were now eternal acts of God. Since nothing took place in time except for the enactment of the decree, there was no need in Gill's system for a temporal order of grace. Sacraments could be considered simply as ordinances, and baptism could be viewed as a sign administered to adults only, after the eternal decree had been executed in an individual. Those who have followed Gill's theology allow no offers of grace but only a preaching about grace. They have tended to offer no instruction in Christianity for children and they have typically opposed Christian missions — because no human agency is needed in God's elective work. They have also followed Gill and numerous others after him into speculation about the coming millennium when, finally, the career of Satan will be ended and he will no longer be able to roam the world "seeking whom he may devour."

The logic of such a theology is to view God's electing grace as an unmediated bolt from the blue. No one knows where it may strike and no one can find any assurance either through participation in the life of God's covenanting people or on grounds of belief or conduct that he or she will be or, indeed, is now numbered among the elect. Gill held forth an antinomian gospel that could declare in its preaching of grace that no obedience to divine commands was required for salvation


and no offers of grace ought to be made in the church. On Gill's own terms, membership in his Particular Baptist community could be no sign of salvation and no assurance of its possibility. Grace and salvation could just as easily occur on a desert island.

By way of contrast, the Reformed doctrine of grace — the irresistible grace of the five points — not only identifies God's grace as unmerited but also locates the primary working of that grace in the covenanting community of believers where it is presented through the means of word and sacrament. This covenanting community or church, the Belgic Confession tells us, "has been from the beginning of the world and will be to the end thereof . . . supported by God against the rage of the world." Thus, although it remains a terrifying thing that Satan can roam the world seeking whom he may devour, we may be absolutely certain, through the grace of God, that Satan cannot devour either the church or God's elect. And because the Reformed faith is not antinomian, we may expect, under grace, both a continuance of the divine demand of obedience and a presence of the beginnings of that obedience, through regeneration and sanctification in the community of belief. As the Heidelberg Catechism teaches us, this obedience belongs to our thankful response to the divine gift of salvation by grace.

What is more, since this church is "the gathering of those who are saved" no one ought to "withdraw from it" but ought to live as members of this body — indeed, "all people are obliged to join and unite with it," granting that "there is no salvation apart from it" (BC, XXVIII). The church is not, therefore, a "voluntary association" — certainly not in any usual sense of that term. It is the divinely mandated and established covenanting community within which and through the agency of which the Word is preached, the sacraments faithfully administered, and the grace of God mediated to a needy world. Because, moreover, "Christ has shed his blood no less for washing the children of believers than he did for adults," infants as well as adults "ought to be baptized and sealed with the sign of the covenant" (BC, XXXIV).

The Reformed assumption underlying this doctrine is that sacraments are indeed signs and, therefore, in a sense, means of grace — that the churchly administration of the sacrament holds out the promise of the divine work of grace, "washing, purifying, and cleansing our souls . . . renewing our hearts and filling them with all comfort" (BC, XXXIV). What is more, this assumption concerning the legitimate inclusion of the children of believers in the covenanting community through the sign and seal of baptism stands as the natural adjunct of the five points: Salvation does not arise out of human merit but by grace


alone through the acceptance, by graciously engendered faith, of the sufficient sacrifice of Christ for our sins. Baptism, rightly understood from the human side, signifies the placement of our children into the context where the promised grace of God is surely at work. And who more than an infant, incapable of meritorious works, can indicate to us that this salvation is by grace alone? By way of contrast, the restriction of baptism to adult believers who make a "decision" and who come forward voluntarily to receive a mere ordinance stands against recognition of baptism as a sign of utter graciousness on the part of God: Baptism here is offered only to certain individuals who have passed muster before a human, albeit churchly, court — or to state the problem slightly differently, who have had a particular experience viewed as the necessary prerequisite to baptism by a particular churchly group. If grace and election relate to this post-decision baptism, they can hardly be qualified by the terms "irresistible" and "unconditional." There is an inescapable irony in refusing baptism to children, offering it only to adults, and then telling the adults that they must become as little children in order to inherit the kingdom of heaven.

The emphasis on adult baptism, being "born again," and "accepting Christ" is connected, in American evangelical circles, with language concerning "a personal relationship with Jesus" or knowing Jesus as one's "personal Savior." In protesting against this language, I know that I will be stepping on a few religious toes — although the protest is not at all directed against piety or Christian religious experience as such. The issue is that this language itself is neither Reformed in its content nor suitable for transfer into a Reformed confessional context. In the first place, the terms are unclear and can tend toward an ill-defined, affective piety that, at its worst, can violate certain of the Christological and soteriological norms of the Reformed community. I have often commented to evangelical friends that, for me, having a personal relationship or knowing someone personally means that I can sit down at a table with him and have a cup of coffee, that I can speak to him and he can respond in an audible fashion. But I can't sit at a table and have a cup of coffee with Jesus. And if I speak to him, he does not answer audibly As an angel once rightly noted, "He is not here: for he is risen," and, indeed, ascended into heaven. Reformed Christology has always insisted not only on the resurrection of Christ's body but also on the heavenly location and finitude of Christ's resurrected humanity. Christ now sits at the right hand of God and visibly rules the church triumphant. The language of personal relationship is, at best, equivocal. At worst, it detracts from the majesty of the doctrine of Christ's kingship.


Even more than this, however, use of the language of personal relationship with Jesus often indicates a qualitative loss of the traditional Reformation language of being justified by grace alone through faith in Christ and being, therefore, adopted as children of God in and through our graciously given union with Christ. Personal relationships come about through mutual interaction and thrive because of common interests. They are never or virtually never grounded on a forensic act such as that indicated in the doctrine of justification by faith apart from works - in fact personal relationships rest on a reciprocity of works or acts. The problem here is not the language itself: The problem is the way in which it can lead those who emphasize it to ignore the Reformation insight into the nature of justification and the character of believer’s relationship with God in Christ.

Such language of personal relationship all too easily lends itself to an Arminian view of salvation as something accomplished largely by the believer in cooperation with God. A personal relationship is, of its very nature, a mutual relation, dependent on the activity – the works – of both parties. In addition, the use of this Arminian, affective language tends to obscure the fact that the Reformed tradition has its own indigenous relational and affective language and piety; a language and piety, moreover, that are bound closely to the Reformation principle of salvation by grace alone through faith alone. The Heidelberg Catechism provides us with a language of our "only comfort in life and in death" – that "I am not my own, but belong – body and soul, in life and death to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ" (q. 1). "Belonging to Christ,” a phrase filled with piety and affect, retains the confession of grace alone through faith alone, particularly when its larger context in the other language of the catechism is taken to heart. We also have access to a rich theological and liturgical language of covenant to express with both clarity and warmth our relationship to God in Christ.

Even so, the Reformed teaching concerning the identity of the church assumes a divine rather than a human foundation and assumes that the divine work of establishing the community of belief is a work that includes the basis of the ongoing life of the church as a community, which is to say, includes the extension of the promise to children of believers. The conversion experience associated with adult baptism and with the identification of the church as a voluntary association assumes that children are, with a few discrete qualifications, pagan-and it refuses to understand the corporate dimension of divine grace working effectively (irresistibly!) in the perseverance of the covenanting community. It is a contradictory teaching indeed that argues irresistible


grace and the perseverance of the saints and then assumes both the necessity of a particular phenomenology of adult conversion and "decision." Without the concept of the church as covenanting community and the doctrine of infant baptism, the five points make precious little

Our confession of the divine foundation of the covenanting community also directs our attention from the doctrine of the efficacy and irresistibility of grace to the conception of sacraments as means of grace and not mere ordinances. This is not a magical association of a human activity with the beginning of divine activity but rather the simple assumption that God has, in the sacraments as in the preached Word, identified the place where his grace is most surely and freely bestowed. The sacraments are "visible signs ... of something internal and invisible" — and not merely signs but "seals" as well, granting that it is God who has there made available his promise to us and who has irresistibly inaugurated the work of his grace in our lives (cf., BC, XXXIII). Mere ordinances can be omitted or deemphasized as insignificant or "empty," but because the sacraments are signs "by means of which God works in us through the power of the Holy Spirit" they are hardly "empty and hollow" but an integral part of the life of the church that knows its members to be called by grace and justified through faith (ibid.).

A similar point must be made about millennialism. The so-called amillennialism of the Reformed assumes not the absence but the presence of the earthly reign of grace. There is a powerful difference between the faith and the church of those who await a millennium and who hold that now Satan bestrides the earth seeking whom — including members of the voluntarily gathered church — he may devour, and the faith and church of those who hold that the ministry of Christ and his work on the cross bound Satan, who may no longer devour God's people however else he may roam about. The grace of God presently reigning in the covenanting community also supplies the foundation for the church's life in the world as a moral society Once again, the assumption concerning the identity of church as covenanted community and, now, the amillennial understanding both of the eschaton and of the present work of God in Christ, direct us back to the points concerning our total inability, God's irresistible grace for us, and the perseverance of believers. Various forms of millennialism militate against the irresistible grace and the perseverance identified in the five points by placing the church into an interim condition before the fullness of the grace and lordship of Christ is revealed.


The problem of multiple dispensations of salvation is clearly related to the problem of the millennium. Such a teaching assumes not only that salvation has been administered differently in various ages of the world but, contrary to the Reformed Confessions' understanding of Scripture, also that one church has not existed "from the beginning of the world," will not "last until the end," and has not been universally "preserved by God against the rage of the world" (BC, XXVII). Does this approach to salvation indicate anything in relation to the five points? At very least, it implies that the perseverance of the saints and, above all, the understanding of that perseverance as the perseverance of God for his saints, is not a teaching universally applicable to the people of God. And, granting that a multiplication of covenants bars the way to a perseverance of the saints throughout the history of God's people, it must also introduce conditions for the election of the chosen people in past dispensations. Entrance into these other covenantal arrangements rests on obedience or decision — rather than obedience resting on the covenant itself and on the unconditional election that is its foundation. We may not want to speak of a necessary deductive or logical connection between the doctrines of the unity of the covenant of grace in its several temporal administrations, unconditional election, perseverance of the saints, and the amillennial ending of the world, but these concepts do flow together and the absence of each makes difficult the confession of the others.

In conclusion, we can ask again, "How many points?" Surely there are more than five. The Reformed faith includes reference to total inability, unconditional election, limited efficiency of Christ's satisfaction, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints, not as the sum total of the church's confession but as elements that can only be understood in the context of a larger body of teaching including the baptism of infants, justification by grace alone through faith, the necessity of a thankful obedience consequent upon our faith and justification, the identification of sacraments as means of grace, the so-called amillennial view of the end of the world. The larger number of points, including but going beyond the five of Dort, is intended, in other words, to construe theologically the entire life of the believing community. And when that larger number of points taught by the Reformed confessions is not respected, the famous five are jeopardized, indeed, dissolved —and the ongoing spiritual health of the church is placed at risk.
Copyright © 2007, Kim Riddlebarger. All rights reserved.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Advanced Thinkers

Advanced Thinkers
Author: tartanarmy (9:54 pm)

by C. H. Spurgeon
From the November 1871 Sword and Trowel

SOME animals make up for their natural weakness by their activity and audacity; they are typical of a certain order of men. Assumption goes a long way with many, and, when pretensions are vociferously made and incessantly intruded, they always secure a measure of belief.

Men who affect to be of dignified rank, and superior family, and who, therefore, hold their heads high above the canaille, manage to secure a measure of homage from those who cannot see beneath the surface.

There has by degrees risen up in this country a coterie, more than ordinarily pretentious, whose favorite cant is made up of such terms as these: "liberal views," "men of high culture," "persons of enlarged minds and cultivated intellects," "bonds of dogmatism and the slavery of creeds," "modern thought," and so on.

That these gentlemen are not so thoroughly educated as they fancy themselves to be, is clear from their incessant boasts of their culture; that they are not free, is shrewdly guessed from their loud brags of liberty; and that they are not liberal, but intolerant to the last degree, is evident, from their superciliousness towards those poor simpletons who abide by the old faith.

Jews in old times called Gentiles dogs, and Mahometans cursed unbelievers roundly; but we question whether any men, in any age, have manifested such contempt of others as is constantly evidenced towards the orthodox by the modern school of "cultured intellects."

Let half a word of protest be uttered by a man who believes firmly in something, and holds by a defined doctrine, and the thunders of liberality bellow forth against the bigot.

Steeped up to their very throats in that bigotry for liberality, which, of all others, is the most ferocious form of intolerance, they sneer with the contempt of affected learning at the idiots who contend for "a narrow Puritanism," and express a patronizing hope that the benighted adherents of "a half-enlightened creed" may learn more of "that charity which thinketh no evil."

To contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints is to them an offense against the enlightenment of the nineteenth century; but, to vamp old, worn-out heresies, and pass them off for deep thinking, is to secure a high position among minds "emancipated from the fetters of traditional beliefs."

Manliness and moral courage are the attributes in which they consider themselves to excel, and they are constantly asserting that hundreds of ministers see with them, but dare not enunciate their views, and so continue to preach one thing and believe another.

It may be so here and there, and the more is the cause for sorrow; but we are not sure of the statement, for the accusers themselves may, after all, fancy that they see in others what is really in themselves. The glass in their own houses should forbid their throwing stones.

If they were straightforward themselves, they might call others to account; but, in too many cases, their own policy savors of the serpent in a very high degree. The charge could not be fairly brought against all, but it can be proven against many, that they have fought the battles of liberality, not with the broad sword of honest men, but with the cloak and dagger of assassins.

They have occupied positions which could not be reconciled with their beliefs, and have clung to them with all the tenacity with which limpets adhere to rocks. Their testimony has, in some cases, been rendered evidently worthless, from the fact that with all their outcry against orthodoxy, they did their best to eat the bread of the orthodox, and would still have continued to profess, and yet to assail, orthodox opinions had they been permitted to do so.

Whether this is honest is doubtful: that it is not manly is certain.
These gentlemen of culture have certainly adopted peculiar tactics.

The misbelievers and unbelievers of former ages withdrew themselves from churches as soon as they found out they could not honestly endorse their fundamental articles; but these abide by the stuff, and great is their indignation at the creeds which render their position morally dubious.

Churches have no right to believe anything; comprehensiveness is the only virtue of a denomination; precise definitions are a sin, and fundamental doctrines are a myth: this is the notion of "our foremost men."

For earnest people to band themselves together to propagate what they hold to be the very truth of God, is in their eyes the miserable endeavor of bigots to stem the torrent of modern thought; for zealous Christians to contribute of their substance for the erection of a house, in which only the truths most surely believed among them shall be inculcated, is a treason against liberality; while the attempt to secure our pulpits against downright error, is a mischievous piece of persecution to be resented by all "intellectual" men.

The proper course, according to their "broad views," would be to leave doctrines for the dunces who care for them.

Truths there are none, but only opinions; and, therefore, cultivated ministers should be left free to trample on the most cherished beliefs, to insult convictions, no matter how long experience may have matured them, and to teach anything, everything, or nothing, as their own culture, or the current of enlightened thought may direct them.

If certain old fogies object to this, let them turn out of the buildings they have erected, or subside into silence under a due sense of their inferiority.

It appears to be, now-a-days, a doubtful question whether Christian men have a right to be quite sure of anything.

The Jesuit argument that some learned doctor or other has taught a certain doctrine, and that, therefore, it has some probability, is now practically prevalent. He who teaches an extravagant error is a fine, generous spirit: and, therefore, to condemn his teaching is perilous, and will certainly produce an outcry against your bigotry.

Where the atonement is virtually denied, it is said that a preacher is a very clever man, and exceedingly good; and, therefore, even to whisper that he is unsound is libelous: we are assured that it would be far better to honor him for his courage in scorning to be hampered by conventional expressions.

Besides, it is only his way of putting it, and the radical idea is discoverable by cultured minds.

As to other doctrines, they are regarded as too trivial to be worthy of controversy, the most of them being superseded by the advancement of science and other forms of progressive enlightenment.
The right to doubt is claimed clamorously, but the right to believe is not conceded.

The modern gospel runs thus: "He that believes nothing and doubts everything shall be saved."

Room must be provided for every form of skepticism; but, for old-fashioned faith, a manger in a stable is too commodious. Magnified greatly is the so-called "honest doubter," but the man who holds tenaciously by ancient forms of faith is among "men of culture" voted by acclamation a fool.

Hence, it becomes a sacred duty of the advanced thinker to sneer at the man of the creed, a duty which is in most cases fully discharged; and, moreover, it is equally imperative upon him to enter the synagogue of bigots, as though he were of their way of thinking, and in their very midst inveigh against their superstition, their ignorant contentedness with worm-eaten dogmas, and generally to disturb and overturn their order of things.

What if they have confessions of faith? They have no right to accept them, and, therefore, let them be held up to ridicule.

Men, now-a-days, occupy pulpits with the tacit understanding that they will uphold certain doctrines, and from those very pulpits they assail the faith they are pledged to defend.

The plan is not to secede, but to operate from within, to worry, to insinuate, to infect.

Within the walls of Troy, one Greek is worth half Agamemnon's host; let, then, the wooden horse of liberality be introduced by force or art, as best may serve the occasion.

Talking evermore right boastfully of their candor and hatred of the hollowness of creeds, etc., they will remain members of churches long after they have renounced the basis of union upon which these churches are constituted.

Yes, and worse; the moment they are reminded of their inconsistency they whine about being persecuted, and imagine themselves to be martyrs. If a person, holding radical sentiments, insisted upon being a member of a Conservative club, he would meet with small sympathy if the members would not allow him to remain among them, and use their organization as a means for overthrowing their cherished principles.

It is a flagrant violation of liberty of conscience when a man intrudes himself into a church with which he does not agree, and demands to be allowed to remain there, and undermine its principles.

Conscience he evidently has none himself; or he would not ignore his own principles by becoming an integral part of a body holding tenets which he despises; but he ought to have some honor in him as a man, and act honestly, even to the bigots whom he so greatly pities, by warring with them in fair and open battle.

If a Calvinist should join a community like the Wesleyans, and should claim a right to teach Calvinism from their platforms, his expulsion would be a vindication, and not a violation, of liberty. If it be demanded that in such matters we respect the man's independence of thought, we reply that we respect it so much that we would not allow him to fetter it by a false profession, but we do not respect it, to such a degree that we would permit him to ride rough shod over all others, and render the very existence of organized Christianity impossible.

We would not limit the rights of the lowest ruffian, but if he claims to enter our bed-chamber the case is altered; by his summary expulsion we may injure his highly-cultured feelings and damage his broad views, but we claim in his ejection to be advocating, rather than abridging, the rights of man.

Conscience, indeed!

What means it in the mouth of a man who attacks the creed of a church and yet persists in continuing in it?

He would blush to use the term conscience if he had any, for he is insulting the conscience of all the true members by his impertinent intrusion. Our pity is reserved for the honest people who have the pain and trouble of ejecting the disturber with the ejected one, we have no sympathy; he had no business there, and, had he been a true man, he would not have desired to remain, nor would he even have submitted to do so had he been solicited.

This is most illiberal talk in the judgment of our liberal friends, and they will rail at it in their usual liberal manner; it is, however, plain common sense, as all can see but those who are willfully blind.

While we are upon the point, it may be well to inquire into the character of the liberality which is, now-a-days, so much vaunted. What is it that these men would have us handle so liberally? Is it something which is our own, and left at our disposal? If so, let generosity be the rule.

But no, it is God's truth which we are thus to deal with, the gospel which he has put us in trust with, and for which we shall have to render account. The steward who defrauded his lord was liberal; so was the thief who shared the plunder with his accomplice; and so were those in the Proverbs, who said, "let us all have one purse." If truth were ours, absolutely; if we created it, and had no responsibilities in reference to it, we might consider broad-church proposals; but, the gospel is the Lord's own, and we are only stewards of the manifold grace of God, and of stewards it is not so much required that they be liberal, but that they be found faithful.

Moreover, this form of charity is both useless and dangerous.

Useless, evidently, because all the agreements and unions and compromises beneath the moon can never make an error a truth, nor shift the boundary-line of God's gospel a single inch. If we basely merge one part of Scriptural teaching for the sake of charity, it is not, therefore, really merged, it will bide its time, and demand its due with terrible reprisals for our injustice towards it; for half the sorrows of the church arise from smothered truths.

False doctrine is not rendered innocuous by its being winked at.

God hates it whatever glosses we may put upon it; no lie is of the truth, and no charity can make it so.

Either a dogma is right or wrong, it cannot be indifferent.

Conferences have been held of late between Baptists and Paedobaptists, in which there has been most oily talk of mutual concessions, one is to give up this and the other that. The fit description of such transactions is mutual, or rather united, treason to God. Will the word of God shift as these conspirators give and take? Are we, after all, our own law-makers; and is there no rule of Christ extant? Is every man to do as seemeth good in his own eyes?

If we, on the one side, set up immersion on our own authority, and they, on the other side, bring forward the infant on their own account, we may both very wisely drop our peculiarities, for they are of man only, and, therefore, of superstition.

But, if either side can find support in God's word, woe to it if it plays false to the will of the Great Head. We quote this merely as an illustration; and, as it concerns minor matters, it the more clearly sets forth the emphatic stress which we would lay upon loyalty to truth in the weightier matters of our great Master's law.

The rule of Christians is not the flickering glimmer of opinion, but the fixed law of the statute book; it is rebellion, black as the sin of witchcraft, for a man to know the law, and talk of conceding the point.

In the name of the Eternal King, who is this liberal conceder, or, rather, this profane defrauder of the Lord, that he should even imagine such a thing in his heart?
Nor is it less important to remember that trifling with truth is to the last degree dangerous.

No error can be imbibed without injury, nor propagated without sin.

The utmost charity cannot convert another gospel into the gospel of Jesus Christ, nor deprive it of its deluding and destroying influence. There is no ground for imagining that an untruth, honestly believed, is in the least changed in its character by the sincerity of the receiver; nor may we dream that the highest culture renders a departure from revealed truth less evil in the sight of God.

If you give the sick man a deadly poison instead of a healing medicine, neither your broad views of chemistry, nor his enlightened judgment upon anatomy, will prevent the drug from acting after its own nature. It may be said that the parallel does not hold, and that error is not deadly, but here we yield not, no, not for an hour.

Paul pronounced a curse upon any man or angel who should preach another gospel, and he would not have done so, if other gospels were harmless.

It is not so long ago that men need forget it, that the blight of Unitarian and other lax opinions withered the very soul of the Dissenting Churches; and that spirit has only to be again rampant, to repeat its mischief.

Instances, grievous to our inmost heart, rise up before our memory at the moment of men seduced from their first love, and drawn aside from their fathers' gospel, who only meant to gather one tempting flower upon the brink of the precipice of error, but fell, never to be restored.

No fiction do we write, as we bear record of those we have known, who first forsook the good old paths of doctrine, then the ways of evangelic usefulness, and then the enclosures of morality.

In all cases, the poison has not so openly developed itself, but we fear the inner ruin has been quite as complete. In the case of public teachers, cases are not hard to find where little by little men have advanced beyond their "honest doubt," into utter blasphemy.

One notorious instance will occur to all of a man, who, having ignored the creed of his church, and, indeed, all lines of fixed belief, has become the very beacon of Christendom, from the astounding nature of the blasphemy which he pours forth. In him, as a caricature of advanced thought, it is probable that we have a more telling likeness of the real evil, than we could by any other means have obtained.

It may be that Providence has allowed him to proceed to the utmost lengths, that the church might see whereunto the much-vaunted intellectual school would carry us.

We are not believers in stereotyped phraseology, nor do we desire to see the reign of a stagnant uniformity; but, at this present, the perils of the church lie in another direction. The stringency of little Bethel, whatever may have been its faults, has no power to work the mischief which is now engendered by the confusion of the latitudinarian Babel. To us, at any rate, the signs of the times portend no danger greater than that which can arise from landmarks removed, ramparts thrown down, foundations shaken, and doctrinal chaos paramount.

We have written this much, because silence is reckoned as consent, and pride unrebuked lifts up its horn on high, and becomes more insolent still. Let our opponents cease, if they can, to sneer at Puritans whose learning and piety were incomparably superior to their own; and, let them remember that the names, which have adorned the school of orthodoxy, are illustrious enough to render scorn of their opinions, rather a mark of imbecility than of intellect. To differ is one thing, but to despise is another. If they will not be right, at least, let them be civil, if they prefer to be neither, let them not imagine that the whole world is gone after them. Their forces are not so potent as they dream, the old faith is rooted deep in the minds of tens of thousands, and it will renew its youth, when the present phase of error shall be only a memory, and barely that.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Quotes leading to Heaven.

Quotes leading to Heaven.
Author: tartanarmy (5:28 am)

"This sinful condition is what we need to get to know.

"I would not have come to know sin [my sinful condition] except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting [which is what this sinful condition produces, according to verse 8] if the Law had not said, "you shall not covet." So we get to know sin – our deep sinful condition – by getting to know the sins that our sinful condition produces.

And we get to know those sins and that connection with sin through the law."

John Piper

Quotes leading to Hell.

Quotes leading to Hell.
Author: tartanarmy (5:22 am)

"I don't think anything has been done in the name of Christ and under the banner of Christianity that has proven more destructive to human personality and, hence, counterproductive to the evangelism enterprise than the often crude, uncouth, and unchristian strategy of attempting to make people aware of their lost and sinful condition."

Time, March 18, 1985

Robert Schuller

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Paradoxical theology.

Paradoxical theology.
Author: tartanarmy (8:35 pm)

I thought I would make a recent post I was involved in, a part of Tartan Talk, in a growing number of posts that touch upon the atonement.

I had said,


They affirm an atonement that was universal, meaning that not only has Christ died for all and has propitiated wrath for all, but also that God loves all and genuinely desires all to be saved.

The condition is faith.

They do not hold to universalism, but advocate a sufficiency for all that is really and truly for all men without exception, and yet maintain an effectual atonement that is limited to the elect.

Our dear Mod had responded,


I think this is what I believed before too Mark. I think the people at our church would hold this view as well.

Yes, most Christians by far hold this view, over and against the reformed view.
The whole problem of the matter is with that thing called "propitiation".

Most Christians do not understand this term with relation to the atoning work of Christ upon the cross.

Propitiation actually "propitiates".
That is the main point!

Which means that "wrath" is "really" appeased at the cross!

If "wrath" is actually and really "appeased" at the cross, and it definitely is, the question becomes, for "whom" was this wrath appeased for? (propitiated for)

If Christ died for all without exception, then wrath has been appeased for all without exception, which of course means that everyone will be saved.

There is no condition to propitiation. It is either done or it is not done. It is an act between two parties, the one offended (God) and the sacrifice/substitute (Christ).

It is a finished work at the cross or it is not.

There is no room for conditions, hypotheticals or any other way around the "finished" work of Christ upon the cross.

The reformed have never taught that "faith" is the condition which makes the atonement an accomplished salvation.

And yet, that view is the popular view, not just in Arminian theology, but within reformed professing Churches today.

It is a denial of the finished work of Christ upon the cross, and I call it out wherever I see it, and it costs you much to do so in today's evangelical climate.

On top of all of this, is the modern "fusing" of "common grace" doctrine, with the atonement.

A blurring of distinctions in the will of God, together with an ignoring of the Divine intention in the atonement, makes for a mix mash theology of the cross. A hybrid, paradoxical theology of the cross, and a modern evangelical audience who end up being satisfied with some kind of "mystery" compromise.

Meanwhile, the damage done grows and grows undetected. Evangelism is done in ways that are dishonouring to the Lord, and the Saints "assurance" is inevitably challenged at every turn.


Friday, March 09, 2007

Something for the "almost" Calvinist to consider.

Something for the "almost" Calvinist to consider.
Author: tartanarmy (4:07 am)

John Piper discusses Limited atonement with Bruce Ware and other things.


btw, the other things are good too, like New Perspectivism, Emergent Church stuff, Abortion, Social issues, politics, Jonathan Edwards and heaps of other good solid stuff.

One of the things that I appreciate about Piper, and was really moved by in this open discussion interview,is how often he pauses to think before providing an answer. An almost awkward silence, but He takes time to think, and that pause between answers speaks volumes to me about the man.

Monday, March 05, 2007

“They found the casket of Jesus” 45 Pithy Comebacks

“They found the casket of Jesus” 45 Pithy Comebacks
Author: tartanarmy (3:05 am)
“They found the casket of Jesus” 45 Pithy Comebacks

1. Explain to me why a poor family from Bethlehem would be buried in a middle class grave in Jerusalem.

2. Mary, Jesus and Joseph were the most popular names in Israel at this time. That is why the Jewish archaeologists who first discovered these caskets in 1980 NEVER claimed these belonged to the family of Jesus. The odds are too preposterous.

3. Israeli archaeologist Joel Rosenberg believes this new film is nonsense.

4. So does Jewish archaeologist Amos Kloner.

5. There is no credible evidence that Jesus was ever married. The only possible reference to Jesus being married is in a 14th century manuscript (Acts of Phillip) that nobody deems credible.

6. There is no evidence that Jesus had children.

7. They claim they have proof that Jesus had a baby. We can’t even determine the father of Anna Nicole Smith’s baby. (Jay Leno)

8. As there is no credible evidence that Jesus was married with children, this discovery does not prove that Jesus was married; it proves that these caskets don’t belong to Jesus. If Jesus was not married to Mary, this whole theory collapses.

9. If Jesus had a wife and children, wouldn’t Jesus have told John to only take care of His mother when He was on the cross?

10. Jesus son of Joseph is hardly legible.

11. Professor Stephen Pfann in Jerusalem believes the name “Jesus” should actually be interpreted “Hanun.”

12. For such an esteemed Rabbi, the family sure did a sloppy job of inscribing His name on the casket.

13. Jesus is never referred to as “The son of Joseph” in early Christian witness. That is the inscription on the casket.

14. If you were going to hide a casket, would you put it in Jerusalem and label it “Jesus”?

15. Why did they only test the DNA of the Jesus and Miriamne casket and not the caskets of the others? Because if they discovered that the DNA didn’t match, their story would crumble.

16. The scientist who did the limited DNA testing said, “Don’t be deceived by the media. This type of DNA testing cannot test every relationship.”

17. There is no DNA baseline available to prove this was the burial box of Jesus.

18. Miriamne e Mara is not legible, they are speculating.

19. Miriamne e Mara is almost certainly interpreted wrong. “Mara” is probably a contraction of Martha and is probably a second name.

20. Miriamne is NOT Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene is not written on the casket.

21. Is the Yose (Joseph) married to Maria? Who knows?

22. Is Jesus married to Miriamne? Who knows?

23. The name Miriamne is not found in any credible text. Not one. The only time that we can find the name Miriamne is in reference to Herod’s wife, Miriamne.

24. Matya (they claim that is Matthew) is found on one of the caskets. If this is Matthew, why would Jesus’ disciple be buried with him?

25. There is no evidence that Jesus had a brother named Matthew.

26. Defenders claim that if Joseph and Mary had more children than what the Bible lists, “The name Matthew is consistent with the type of name that Mary and Joseph might have named one of their children.” That is not a credible argument.

27. They simply left Matthew out of the picture to make the statistical analysis look better.

28. They are doing their statistics backwards. They start with the presupposition that this is Jesus tomb and then try to determine the odds. You can’t do that.

29. If we found a gravesite today with the names John and David, John’s son (the equivalent to Jesus and Joseph) could we conclude which John this was? How many John’s have had a wife named Mary and a child name David in the last two centuries? Then if you knew that David was unmarried and from Los Angeles, but the tomb was found in New York, would you feel confident you had identified the right David?

30. Joseph’s tomb is missing. Why?

31. Jesus’ half-brother Jude is missing. Why?

32. Jesus’ half brother Simon is missing. Why?

33. Jesus sisters may be missing. Why?

34. If Jesus was buried and didn’t rise from the dead, why did Jesus’ half brother, James, die preaching that Jesus rose from the dead?

35. Ditto for Jude.

36. How could the family have kept this a secret from the early church?

37. Wouldn’t the Romans been able to find this casket and end the dispute?

38. Wouldn’t the Jews happily dug up this casket to put an end to this new Jewish cult named Christianity?

39. Trying to resolve whose caskets these are is like trying to figure who put the first dagger in Julius Caesar.

40. While science and CSI techniques can be helpful, we don’t have a time machine to take us back to the first century.

41. Eisegesis is when you form a conclusion and then go find the evidence for your theory. That is what they have done here.

42. There are a thousand scenarios to explain this. To assign ownership to Jesus is simply not reasonable.

43. We have films and eyewitnesses of the JFK assassination and we still can’t figure out who killed him.

44. If this were a civil case, it would be laughed out of court.

45. Wow! You trust this film more than the Bible? Now that’s faith. The Bible is a more reliable source of information than this circus of evidence.

Sources: Dr. Albert Mohler ( Dr. James White ( ), Dennis Ingolfsland (
Nathan Busenitz (