Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Christian-Mormon "Dialogue"
Jeff Downs

Robert Millet seems to be the new man on the block to make Mormonism more palatable.

If you have not read it yet, don't miss Gary L.W. Johnson's chapter The Reformation, Today's Evangelicals, and Mormons: What Next? in By Faith Alone: Answering the Challenges to the Doctrine of Justification (Crossway, 2007).

In Johnson's chapter, he corrects Millet's communication of a meeting that took place between Robert Millet, Haddon Robinson and David Wells. You can hear Millet tell the story in this audio from 2005.

Johnson ends his chapter by stating "After a careful reading of Millet's book [A Different Jesus], I am more than ever convinced that Millet's Jesus would not be recognized by our evangelical forefathers (like a Calvin, a Wesley, or a Spurgeon) and that Mouw would think otherwise is inexplicable. Having said that, I am forced to admit that developments over the last few decades in what goes by the name evangelical would make it difficult not to allow Mormons in under the big top of today's evangelical circus (after all, if antitrinitarian "oneness Pentecostals" like T. D. Jakes and the rebarbative "Word of Faith" prosperity teachers are considered members of today's evangelicalism, then why not Mormons like Millet?). In fact, given the present state of today's evangelicalism and the tendency to let people define for themselves what it means to be an evangelical, this morphosis is not all that surprising."

See also Robert Bowman, Jr.'s recent review of Gerald McDermott and Robert Millet's new book.

More on Mormonism, Mouw and Misinformation...

The Only Begotten of the Father in the Flesh: Mormonism's Embarrassing Theology
James R. White

Mormonism continues to show great shame for its own roots and its own history, resulting in the (dishonest) rewriting of its own history. One of the most embarrassing teachings of the LDS Church and its leaders has to do with the teaching that Jesus is the physical offspring of Elohim, the Father, who likewise has a physical body. That is, that Jesus was physically begotten in a sexual union between the Father and Mary. So prevalent was this teaching that to our very day you can hear LDS missionaries speak of Jesus as "the only begotten of the Father in the flesh. Given that Mormons believe God the Father has many celestial wives, and that we are all offspring of Elohim and one of these wives, the phrase "only begotten of the Father" in the King James Version does require some explanation on the part of Mormon theology. The explanation has been consistent down through the decades, and to this day I do not know of a single official denial of this doctrine from the leadership of the LDS Church. However, you will find lots of unofficial denials coming out of BYU. The most recent I find in the new book from Robert Millet and Gregory Johnson, the next installment in the "compromise the gospel for the sake of false unity" campaign, titled Bridging the Divide (2007). This small book (it could have been made into a booklet, its margins are so wide) carries endorsements by the usual suspects such as Richard Mouw of Fuller Seminary (who has done more to end meaningful evangelism amongst Mormons than anyone else I know of). Others likewise wrote words of commendation, though with care (I personally think many who did so should have stayed far, far away, but have allowed the spirit of our age to cloud their thinking). Once again, the person familiar with the LDS faith and its historical teachings will find this "dialogue" maddeningly shallow and missing the heart of the issue. But as soon as I received the book, my eyes fell upon the following words, and I simply had to take the time to demonstrate how far from the truth the "dialogue" has wandered.
Some time ago a colleague and I were in Southern California speaking to a group of about 500 people, both Latter-day Saint and Protestant. During the question and answer phase of the program, someone asked the inevitable: "Are you really Christian? Do you, as many claim, worship a different Jesus?" I explained that we worship the Christ of the New Testament , that we believe wholeheartedly in His virgin birth, His divine Sonship, His miracles, His transforming teachings, His atoning sacrifice, and His bodily resurrection from the dead. I added that we also believe in the teachings of and about Christ found in the Book of Mormon and modern revelation. After the meeting an LDS woman came up to me and said, "You didn't tell the truth about what we believe!" Startled, I asked, "What do you mean?" She responded: "You said we believe in the virgin birth of Christ, and you know very well that we don't believe that." "Yes, we do," I retorted. She then said with a great deal of emotion: "I want to believe you, but people have told me for years that we believe that God the Father had sexual relations with Mary and thereby Jesus was conceived." I looked her in the eyes and said: "I'm aware of that teaching, but that is not the doctrine of the Church; that is not what we teach in the Church today. Have you ever heard the Brethren teach it in conference? Is it in the standard works, the curriculum materials, or the handbooks of the Church? Is it a part of an official declaration or proclamation?" I watched what seemed like a 500-pound weight come off her shoulders, as tears came into her eyes, and she simply said: "Thank you, Brother Millet."
We see here the full-on overthrow of a clear and consistent teaching of the leadership of the LDS Church, not only in written form, but in the curriculum of the LDS Church and in the General Conference as well. Evidently, the staff of BYU have taken over the leadership of the LDS Church, and they can now dismiss the historical teachings of the leadership by their own authority.
I will begin today providing full documentation on this vital subject. It is vital not only because it touches on the LDS teachings concerning Christ, but even more so today because it documents so plainly the willingness of modern LDS writers to rewrite history and play with the facts. As we will see, this teaching has, in fact, been plainly presented in General Conference, in the curriculum materials published by the LDS Church itself for its own people, etc. Millet wishes to insist that this teaching, while once taught, is no more. Really? Upon whose authority? I would very much like to see the official proclamation that retracts the words of the previous prophets and apostles and that likewise then explains why we should continue to believe these men are apostles of Jesus Christ when they come from a line that they themselves claim is taught falsehoods in the name of Christ. Millet tries to tie Luther into his defense, but anyone who knows the LDS doctrine of priesthood authority knows such a connection is invalid. So with these things in mind, I provide the following information in substantiation of the assertion that the leadership of the LDS Church has taught, as official doctrine, even to the point of placing the teaching in the priesthood manuals and other materials written by the church for use by Latter-day Saints in their studies, the doctrine that Elohim, God the Father, sired, or begat, Jesus Christ, so that Christ is the "only begotten of the Father in the flesh."

Remaking Mormonism
One of the tasks of some of the modern proponents of the LDS cause seems to be to remake Mormonism in a mold that fits better in the modern setting. Whether purposefully or not, modern defenders of Joseph Smith are often found softening, or even directly denying, doctrines and teachings that have been taught within the LDS Church since its inception. And, of course, if this doctrine is referred to in anti-Mormon literature, it is claimed that the authors of such works are acting in bad faith, purposefully misrepresenting the LDS faith.
One such doctrine that is now identified as mere speculation rather than a teaching of the LDS Church, is the doctrine that God the Father (Elohim) in a physical body begat, literally, the body of Jesus Christ here on earth. The physical parentage of Jesus Christ has often been a focus of attack on the part of Christians who seek to respond to the claims of Mormonism. Yet, if one is to believe the current crop of LDS apologists, it is a doctrine that is nothing more than speculation, and certainly not representative of the official teaching of the LDS faith.
In their 1992 book, Offenders for a Word: How Anti-Mormons Play Word Games to Attack the Latter-day Saints, BYU professors Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen D. Ricks attempt to respond to the historical teaching of the LDS Church regarding the physical parentage of Christ. Note their own words:
We will ignore the fact that these scattered nineteenth-century speculations were never canonized by the Mormon Church, and that no comparable statements occur in Latter-day Saint scripture. We will pass over the unfairness of holding Mormons to statements that they and their own leaders have never deemed authoritative and binding (and we will deprive ourselves of the great entertainment that would ensue were we to call our Protestant critics to account for every speculation advanced by their pastors and reformers of the past five centuries). . . . The speculations that most incense the critics are simply literalistic interpretations of the divine paternity alluded to in the title, Son of God.While certain early Mormon leaders may occasionally have reinterpreted the concept of virgin birth,they never for a moment suggested that Jesus was begotten by a mortal man, nor that his father was any other personage than God. . . . And for a denial, it cannot be repeated too often, that the Latter-day Saints have never accepted as official doctrine. (129-131)
In a footnote Peterson and Ricks cite numerous Christian critiques of Mormonism that note this doctrine. They focus upon Walter Martin, saying he finds these rare and isolated speculations shocking and vile,and makes the obligatory allusions to Greek mythology. From the above citation, then, we can conclude that the idea that God the Father physically begat Jesus Christ is a mere scattered nineteenth century speculation that was never canonized by the Mormon Church. These speculations have never been considered authoritative and binding. They were merely literalistic interpretations of the divine paternity based upon the title Son of God. They amount only to a reinterpretation of the virgin birth, and have never been accepted as official doctrine.
A colleague of Peterson and Ricks, Dr. Stephen Robinson, likewise downplays this doctrine. In How Wide the Divide? Robinson makes these comments:
Unfortunately, popular speculations on the LDS side have sometimes also been tasteless and indelicate. . . . While it is true that certain LDS leaders (mostly in the nineteenth century) have offered their opinions on the conception of Jesus, those opinions were never included among the official doctrines of the church and have, during my lifetime at least, not appeared in official church publications lest they be taken as the view of the church. Yet those who would misrepresent the LDS Church (and also a vocal minority of its own eccentrics) continue to insist on the unofficial speculations of nineteenth-century members rather than on the official views of the church then or now. Craig L. Blomberg and Stephen E. Robinson, How Wide the Divide? (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997), pp. 135-136.
We can add, then, to the conclusions of Peterson and Ricks, the following from Robinson: this doctrine is again a speculation, based primarily in the nineteenth century opinions of certain unnamed LDS leaders and members.These opinions have never been included among the official doctrines of the LDS faith, and have not appeared in any official church publications during the lifetime of Stephen Robinson. Those who say otherwise (which would include this author) are misrepresenting Mormonism.
For most Mormons, and for most Christians who have not read widely in LDS sources, such should be sufficient. Three LDS scholars, Ph.D.s all, have pronounced the idea that God the Father literally and physically begat the Son in the flesh a mere nineteenth century speculation. What more could be said?
The problem is, history stands unalterably opposed to every single claim made by all three authors. As we will now document, this doctrine has been taught consistently by every single General Authority of the LDS Church who has addressed this topic up to this present day! What is more, we will find numerous official LDS publications written within the past thirty years that likewise teach this very doctrine. And just as important, we will not find a single LDS General Authority denying this doctrine. I will leave the reader to determine the issue of motivations, misrepresentation, and simple honesty in debate, that arise when faced with the kind of documentation that follows.
( continued tomorrow! )

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A response to Dr Richard Mouw from this blog.

Original response here from the comments section.

Richard Mouw said...
These are very helpful thoughts about a tension in my Calvinist theology that I struggle with every day--between a seemingly declared divine desire to save all and what I take to be a clear biblical affirmation of particular election. Whether or not I personally have gone wild on the notion of common grace, we do need to be a bit careful not simply to take that notion as a "modern" invention. I keep going back to Calvin himself, who says that we must "let that admirable light of truth shining in them teach us that the mind of man, though fallen and perverted from its wholeness, is nevertheless clothed and ornamented with God’s excellent gifts. If we regard the Spirit of God as the sole fountain of truth, we shall neither reject the truth itself, nor despise it where it shall appear, unless we wish to dishonor the Spirit of God… Those men whom Scripture [I Cor. 2: 14] calls 'natural men' were, indeed, sharp and penetrating in their investigation of inferior things. Let us, accordingly, learn by their example how many gifts the Lord left to human nature even after it was despoiled of its true good." This, he insists, is meant to illustrate the ways in which our implanted rational natures are, for all human beings, a "peculiar grace." (Institutes, II, 2, 15)

Dear Richard,

First of all I thank someone of your stature for taking the time to provide a response here at my wee blog.
I do hope you will come and visit often if you have the time. It is not everyday a President of Fuller Seminary takes the time to post on a blog let alone my wee place!

I appreciate what you have said above, and I would just like to make a few comments.

I take it you are responding mainly to my comments about you and how I referred to your use of common grace in the "modern sense". Perhaps I should elaborate.
Surely it is no great revelation, that in modern times, this doctrine has undergone somewhat of a shift, not so much in general meaning, but an emphasis that attempts to align the atonement with common grace, and a particular nuance of substance, that has more in common with say Murray and Stonehouse's views, rather than Calvin for example.

Even in what you say above regarding this tension in your Calvinism regarding a desire in God to save all, are you linking this with the atonement?

For me, I think there is a line that we can cross which even Kuyper himself warned of.
Whilst it is true that many natural men have talents and even sublime intellects and good works that on the natural level could even shame many professing Christians, I think it a great danger to say more than scripture would allow us.
It is a fine thing indeed to appreciate what Calvin says in your quote above, but let us not only balance that view with scripture, but even Calvin himself, where elsewhere he has stated,

"Such examples, then, seem to warn us against supposing that the nature of man is utterly vicious, since, under its guidance, some have not only excelled in illustrious deeds, but conducted themselves most honourably through the whole course of their lives. But we ought to consider, that, notwithstanding of the corruption of our nature, there is some room for divine grace, such grace as, without purifying it, may lay it under internal restraint. For, did the Lord let every mind loose to wanton in its lusts, doubtless there is not a man who would not show that his nature is capable of all the crimes with which Paul charges it, (Rom. 3 compared with Ps. 14: 3, &c.)

Can you exempt yourself from the number of those whose feet are swift to shed blood; whose hands are foul with rapine and murder; whose throats are like open sepulchres; whose tongues are deceitful; whose lips are venomous; whose actions are useless, unjust, rotten, deadly; whose soul is without God; whose inward parts are full of wickedness; whose eyes are on the watch for deception; whose minds are prepared for insult; whose every part, in short, is framed for endless deeds of wickedness? If every soul is capable of such abominations, (and the Apostle declares this boldly,) it is surely easy to see what the result would be, if the Lord were to permit human passion to follow its bent. No ravenous beast would rush so furiously, no stream, however rapid and violent, so impetuously burst its banks.

In the elect, God cures these diseases in the mode which will shortly be explained; in others, he only lays them under such restraint as may prevent them from breaking forth to a degree incompatible with the preservation of the established order of things.

Hence, how much soever men may disguise their impurity, some are restrained only by shame, others by a fear of the laws, from breaking out into many kinds of wickedness. Some aspire to an honest life, as deeming it most conducive to their interest, while others are raised above the vulgar lot, that, by the dignity of their station, they may keep inferiors to their duty. Thus God, by his providence, curbs the perverseness of nature, preventing it from breaking forth into action, yet without rendering it inwardly pure. (Institutes, III, 3, 3)

Coming back to my comments regarding your good self, I must admit, after listening to your debate with David J.Engelsma on Common grace, and then hearing of your comments giving aid and comfort to LDS apologists, which frankly disturbed me no end, I have come to an opinion that your views upon common grace are decidedly unlike those of Calvin for example.

Is it possible that your views on common grace are actually allowing you to speak in the way you did with the Mormons at that invitation you attended on November 14, 2004?

I say this, because such would be consistent of course, that is, if common grace is "only" what Calvin says in your above quote.
But is such a position consistent with not only Calvin's other balanced views, but more importantly, with scripture itself?

Whilst on that subject sir, can you explain to me why you felt it necessary to offer an apology on behalf of evangelical Christians for how they had in the past mistreated Mormons? (some certainly have, but your broad brush approach was decidedly lacking in discernment, judgement and balance)
I am not sure that you realise just how much those comments hurt many faithful evangelicals with longstanding ministries to Mormon people.

You need to realise that what the LDS is seeking, is "not" open dialogue with Evangelicals (which was proved when poor Ravi Zacharias took a back stage to all of their own reporting about the apology you had offered instead), but what they desire is mainline respect for "their" beliefs.

It is clearly interested in finding room at its events for those Evangelicals who are willing to publicly disparage their own brethren, and so lend a hand to its own project of marginalizing (rather than interacting with) careful and credible critics like Jerald and Sandra Tanner, the Institute for Religious Research (IRR), and others.
As such, the Mormon Church appears to be interested in “dialogue” only with Evangelicals who lack an in-depth knowledge of Mormon history and doctrine, and who are thus more likely to take at face value the representations of its PR people.

I am seriously concerned about your scholarly understanding of Mormon doctrine and fail to comprehend any of your attempts at defending your views re Mormonism, and it's so called changes.
Is it possible that your views upon "common grace" are influencing your judgement and or studies of Mormonism? Theology matters as you would know.

Now please, I am only asking you some legitimate questions regarding what it was you responded to here in my article, and I am reasonably sure that my argument regarding your "common grace" views are fuelling a lot of your understanding, including not only Mormonism, but other areas of important study.
Calvin would never have done what you did regarding that whole Mormon incident, of that I am quite sure.

Brother, as you are here, please provide a response to what I am saying, as it will be appreciated.

In closing, you have stated,
"I think that an open-minded Christian reader of this book will sense that Bob Millet is in fact trusting in the Jesus of the Bible for his salvation. That is certainly my sense" (p. 183).

You are of course referring to the author of the unashamedly apologetic LDS work, "Another Jesus?" by Eerdmans of all people!

A work that attacks the Trinity, deity of Christ, sola scriptura, justification by grace through faith alone, the sovereignty of God in salvation, the finished work of Christ on the cross.

Just a simple statement and a response would be welcome.

This is still the Jesus who is the first-begotten offspring of an exalted man from another planet, (an exalted man who now lives, enfleshed in a body of flesh and bones, on a planet that circles a star named Kolob along with his multiple wives), who is the only begotten of the Father in the flesh, but these are not differences sufficient enough to lead us to think that is a different Jesus?

There is a chapter called "The Bible Fraud." Some of the sub-titles in this one chapter include, "The Bible Is Not Infallible," "Not All Scripture Is Equal," "Bible Prophets Were Not Infallible," and "The Bible Does Not Have All the Answers."

Here is the first paragraph.

The Bible is the most misused and misunderstood book ever written. It has been used to justify all manner of impropriety, wickedness, and falsehood. Every spiritual fraud ever perpetrated in the history of Judaism or Christianity has claimed support from the Bible. On the authority of the Bible the Jews crucified Christ, stoned Stephen, and imprisoned and beat the Apostles. With the Bible as justification Paul persecuted Christians unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women (Acts 22:4). After the death of the Apostles the Bible was taught by the authority of the whip and the sword. To the Reformers it became the source of priesthood authority and the final will and testament of their mute God.

I really wonder if you ever read this stuff before you apologized on our behalf Richard?


Friday, November 23, 2007

Time to get tougher on free willism......

Spurgeon: "Free will has carried many souls to hell but never a soul to heaven."

A Jesuit: "Now we have planted the Sovereign Drug Arminianism, OUR FOUNDATION IS ARMINIANISM."

Rous: "Arminianism is the very essence of Popery."

Toplady: "The charge on which many of the Protestant martyrs were burnt at the stake was that they held to the doctrine of predestination & rejected the Arminian and Popish doctrine of free-will."

"It is often alleged that Arminianism & Calvinism only differ in that the former chiefly stresses man's responsibility and the latter lays all the weight upon Divine Sovereignty. This is not correct. The Arminian does stress man's responsibility to the exclusion of the sovereignty of God, & this is a fruitful cause of more than one error. The man, on the other hand, who stresses the sovereignty of God to the exclusion of man's responsibility is a hyper-Calvinist & is in error on this aspect of truth just as surely as the Arminian. The true Calvinist lays stress on both doctrines as they are unfolded in the inspired and infallible Word of God" (Foreword).

"All the sects which have sprung up in these latter times… Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Pentecostalists, Mormons, Christadelphians, Cooneyites, etc., have all in common, the fatal lie of free willism. It is Satan's sovereign drug, which causes the soul to sleep in delusion, & the end of such delusion is death."

The Sovereign Drug Arminianism

The "Sovereign drug, Arminianism," which said the Jesuit, "we (i.e. we Papists) have planted" in England, did indeed bid fair "to purge our Protestant Church effectually. How merrily Popery and Arminianism, at that time, danced hand in hand, may be learned from Tindal: "The churches were adorned with paintings, images, altar-pieces, & etc. and, instead of communion tables, alters were set up, and bowings to them and the sacramental elements enjoined.

The predestinarian doctrines were forbid, not only to be preached, but to be printed; and the Arminian sense of the Articles was encouraged and propagated."10 The Jesuit, therefore, did not exult without cause.

The "sovereign drug," so lately "planted," did indeed take deep root downward, and bring forth fruit upward, under the cherishing auspices of Charles and Laud. Heylyn, too, acknowledges, that the state of things was truly described by another Jesuit of that age, who wrote: "Protestantism waxeth weary of itself.

The doctrine (by the Arminians, who then sat at the helm) is altered in many things, for which their progenitors forsook the Church of Rome: as limbus patrum; prayer for the dead, and possibility of keeping God's com- mandments; and the accounting of Calvinism to be heresy at least, if not treason."11

Voices of Scotland....

George Wishart (1513-1546),
John Knox (1505-1572),
Alexander Henderson (1583-1646),
George Gillespie (1613-1648),
Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661),
James Guthrie, (Martyred June 1, 1661),
Donald Cargill (1610-1681),
Robert Leighton (1611-1684),
James Renwick (1662–1688),
Robert Traill (1642-1716),
Ebenezer Erskine (1680-1754),
Thomas Chalmers (1780–1847),
Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813-1843).

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Is Calvinism the Gospel?

Is Calvinism the Gospel?

Another excellent article here from my brother Mitch Cervinka.


Are All Arminians Unsaved?

Are All Arminians Unsaved?

Having bumped heads with Marc Carpenter and his ilk at Outside the Camp in the past, it was great to re-read my brother's (Mitch Cervinka) article here on this subject.
Whilst I am one who is passionate about reformed theology and Calvinism, I give a big hearty Amen to Mitch Cervinka and his response here to those Hyper Calvinists of the worst stripe, who need to repent of so much error!


Theology matters...

Recently, I have been following a thread on a blog here, and I cannot help but feel the force of a great gulf, a great dividing line between certain reformed people of a certain view, compared to those who attempt to hold onto a passion when speaking not only of faith in Christ, but also His gospel.

It really ought not to be a huge surprise that Official Roman Catholic teaching is antithetical to the gospel. Rome has piled upon the very simple gospel an order of magnitude that obliterates the gospel entirely.

It has faith in Christ plus the propitiatory sacrifice of the mass. It has piled on infallible Popes and Alter Christos (Anther Christ!) Priests. It has Mary interceding for sinners, her immaculate conception, bodily assumption into heaven and perpetual virginity, the worship of idols, purging of sinners in opposition to the finished work of Christ and then all of the seven sacraments sitting on top of the overall monstrosity.

Yet, there are so called reformed types out there in evangelical land who would at the drop of a hat come to Rome's defence against a more robust and consistent Protestant who dares to die on the hill of faithfulness to Christ and His gospel.

Christ and His gospel, two things that cannot be separated.

As James White so repeatedly says, "Theology matters."

And it does.

I often get the taste that many Protestants have no passion for the gospel. They too, are arguing for faith in Christ as the main hill to die on.

But what does faith in Christ mean to many today?
Well, once you unpack all of their presuppositions and epistemological assertions, you begin to see where the theology is leading, and why faithfulness to the gospel is disappearing on every front.

You see, theology does matter.

Increasingly I am hearing many today on the Protestant side, speak so unpassionately about such things as Justification, atonement and redemption.
I hear the term "theory" being included in such contexts.

It is no secret that I have spent a lot of my time and energy over the years, mainly talking about the atonement and soteriology, and I make no apology for doing so.

Theology matters.

I am fairly convinced that above faith in Christ, the theology of "theory" has been set in place to explain the great doctrines that we are supposed to be defending.
How can anyone passionately defend a theory?

Even in the world, theories are bandied about with as much passion as there are opinions.

-Theology matters.
-Faith in Christ matters.
-His Gospel matters.

There's a trinity above worth dying for.

Gal 1:6 I marvel that you so soon are being moved away from Him who called you into the grace of Christ, to another gospel,
Gal 1:7 which is not another, but some are troubling you, and desiring to pervert the gospel of Christ.
Gal 1:8 But even if we or an angel from Heaven preach a gospel to you beside what we preached to you, let him be accursed.

Mar 8:38 Therefore whoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My Words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man shall also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A break from normal programing! Amen..

Here is some comic relief from Mr Amen.
Think of Twilight Zone music playing in the background!

Monday, November 12, 2007

This is why I love James White!

Oh to be so bold in these dark days........


On the Sinfulness of Calling Apostasy...Apostasy
James R. White

Some comments were made regarding the ever-developing Beckwith saga (including Frank Beckwith posting canons from the Council of Orange) here. Beckwith dares to reduce the issue of Rome's gospel to mere theories regarding imputation versus infusion. Another comment was left by a Mr. Bauman, accusing anyone of sin who would identify Beckwith as an apostate. I provide here the comment I at least attempted to leave on the blog. It begins with a citation of Mr. Bauman:

You're missing the point, Shane. Despite your repetition to the contrary, Frank Beckwith has not denied the gospel. The gospel is salvation through faith in Christ. The gospel is not assent to sola fide. Frank has moved away from your (and my) view of justification. Movement from that is not movement from the Christian faith. One begins to think that you, not Frank, has forgotten gospel content: Salvation comes by faith in Christ, not faith in sola fide. He has it, and he has it just as clearly as anyone you or I know.

No, Frank does not need me to speak for him; nor has he asked me to. But then, he doesn't need you to speak TO him. He already gets it. He's a Christian, a man with faith in Christ. To call him an apostate is a serious wickedness on your (or anyone's) part, and an exercise in bearing false witness against your neighbor.

Dear Paul:

In reviewing your letter to the churches of Galatia, we, the modern men of the 21st century, have come to the conclusion that you truly missed the point in your very pointed and, may we say, unloving comments regarding the faithful brothers with whom you had but a minor theological difference. We are in particular offended that you would identify men who clearly confess faith in Christ and who have risked their lives for their faith "false brethren." Who are you to make such a harsh judgment, in light of their many evidences of faith? These men are Christians, and to call them false brethren is a serious sin! You are bearing false witness against them! And to dare to read the intentions of their hearts so as to say they were "sneaking" into the fellowship is simply beyond the pale. You should be ashamed of yourself! All you disagree on is a minor point of theology! They believe in Christ! They believe in His resurrection! They simply believe one should be circumcised so as to be a part of the covenant people of God! How narrow of you to exclude them from the fellowship of faith simply on the basis of such a minor thing as this! Why won't you focus upon the areas of agreement you have? Why focus only upon differences, the negatives? Don't you realize you will never win people to your views if you continue to act in this fashion? We seriously request that you apologize to the faithful brothers you anathematized in your ill-advised letter to the churches of Galatia. By this, true peace and unity might be achieved!

Mr. Bauman says that it is "a serious wickedness on your (or anyone's) part" to say that a person who moves from confession of the solas to that of Rome is an apostate. May I ask what then constitutes apostasy in Mr. Bauman's world? Evidently, the gospel is no longer a part of what defines the Christian faith? So now we only identify as apostates those who engage in formal heresy regarding, say, the Trinity? Hopefully the resurrection? But now it is "OK" to confess that the Mass is a propitiatory sacrifice that can be approached 20,000 times without bringing perfection, that celibate priests can be called "alter Christus" in their ordinations and that they can, by sacramental power, render Christ present upon Rome's altars, that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ and infallible in teaching authority, that no grace accrues to anyone outside of Mary by God's design, and that Mary was Immaculately conceived and Bodily Assumed into heaven, and that if you die with temporal punishments of sin upon your soul you undergo satispassio in purgatory, and it's all just a slight difference over imputation versus infusion? All these dogmatic definitions of the gospel itself are just so much minor theological drivel, so that one can confess them, or not, and all is well? This is the clarity of modern theology?

Let me make it plain and clear: if I ever confess such things, and deny the perfection of the work of Christ in my behalf, consigning my Lord and Savior to the role of merely making salvation possible if I cooperate enough, please, I beg of my brothers in Christ, have the intestinal fortitude and love of God and His gospel to call me what I would be: an apostate. To refuse to do so is to show that you fear the face of men more than you honor God Himself.

Do we have such a low view of Scripture that we do not believe the gospel has been revealed with sufficient clarity to identify Rome's abomination for what it is? Can we be so easily duped as to think that the difference between Rome's religion and the gospel is merely a matter of a theory of imputation vs. infusion? Are we so blind?

I suppose we can surely admit that Rome does not add to the clarity of the situation given the massive confusion that now reigns in the highest halls of her leadership. Inclusivism and universalism exists side-by-side with "old time Rome" so that identifying Rome's current orthodoxy is next to impossible. And it surely makes it challenging to attempt to hold Rome's apologists to any consistent standard, for they can switch back and forth between various positions as the need arises.

Dr. Beckwith posted a number of canons from the Council of Orange. I'd like to provide another citation and see if Dr. Beckwith likewise accepts this one:

It firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart "into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels" [Matt. 25:41], unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; and that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is so strong that only to those remaining in it are the sacraments of the Church of benefit for salvation, and do fastings, almsgiving, and other functions of piety and exercises of Christian service produce eternal reward, and that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church. (Denzinger 714).

I would invite Dr. Beckwith to examine the context, historically, of these words.

Look at the beliefs of the men involved in writing these words. What they mean is obvious. So, does he believe these words? Does it really sound like the Council of Constance viewed the difference between Rome and "schismatics" as a minor thing? Surely, this came before the Reformation, but to try to reduce the differences between the Reformation and Rome to a mere difference of "theory" regarding justification is not only laughable, it is, in my opinion, simply reprehensible. To refuse to see Rome's view of justification within the full context of Rome's soteriology is either deceptive, or just plain ridiculous.

Since it has been said that it is sinful to identify a convert (or revert) to Rome as an apostate [and please note, I have often said that I do not know if Dr. Beckwith is actually an apostate, since I have yet to find any solid evidence that he ever abandoned Rome's views of man and grace to begin with], let me say that I believe it is sinful to accept the calling of God's people in a truly Reformed congregation, swear fealty to such Reformed standards as define that faith, and then at the same time refuse to have the honor and integrity and love for truth to speak the truth plainly regarding Rome's false gospel.

If you do not believe the gospel is clear enough to distinguish from Rome, then I suggest you are not Reformed, period.

Please stop adding to the confusion by saying you are. It would be much appreciated.

James White

The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man

A Summary of Herman Witsius'
The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man

Those that have a hard time reading 800 page treatises on theology may enjoy this short overview. This is taken from Witsius' work and is a summary of each chapter in that work. It gives an brief outline in written form of what Witsius' teaches through his two volume work - the best work on the subject of Covenant Theology .

Book 1 – Explaining the Covenant of Works

Chapter 1: Of Divine Covenants in General

Chapter 2: Of the Contracting Parties in the Covenant of Works.

Chapter 3: Of the Law or Condition of the Covenant of Works.

Chapter 4: Of the Promises of the Covenant of Works.

Chapter 5: Of the Penal Sanction

Chapter 6: Of the Sacraments of the Covenant of Works.

Chapter 7: Of the First Sabbath.

Chapter 8: Of the Violation of the Covenant of Works on the part of Man.

Chapter 9: Of the Abrogation of the Covenant of Works on the part of God.

Book 2 – Explaining the Covenant of Redemption

Chapter 1: Introduction to the Covenant of Grace

Chapter 2: Introduction to Covenant of Redemption

Chapter 3: The Covenant between the Father and the Son more fully explained.

Chapter 4: Of the Person of the Surety.

Chapter 5: Of the Suretyship and Satisfaction of Christ.

Chapter 6: What Sufferings of Christ are Satisfactory.

Chapter 7: Of the Efficacy of Christ's Satisfaction.

Chapter 8: Of the Necessity of Christ's Satisfaction.

Chapter 9: Of the Persons for whom Christ Engaged and Satisfied.

Chapter 10: After what manner Christ used the Sacraments.

Book 3: of the Covenant of Grace or the Covenant of God with the Elect

Chapter 1: Of The Covenant of God with the Elect.

Chapter 2: Of the Oneness of the Covenant of Grace, as to its Substance.

Chapter 3: Of the Different Economies of the Covenant of Grace.

Chapter 4: Of Election.

Chapter 5: Of Effectual Calling.

Chapter 6: Of Regeneration.

Chapter 7: Of Faith.

Chapter 8: Of Justification

Chapter 9: Of Spiritual Peace.

Chapter 10: Of Adoption

Chapter 11: Of The Spirit of Adoption.

Chapter 12: Of Sanctification.

Chapter 13: Of Conservation.

Chapter 14: Of Glorification.

Book 4: Of the Benefits of Salvation

Chapter 1: Of the Doctrine of Salvation in the first age of the World,

Chapter 2: Of The Doctrine of Grace under Noah.

Chapter 3: Of the Doctrine of Grace from Abraham to Moses.

Chapter 4: Of the Decalogue.

Chapter 5: Of the Doctrine of the Prophets.

Chapter 6: Of the Types.

Chapter 7: Of the Sacraments of Grace down to Abraham.

Chapter 8: Of Circumcision.

Chapter 9: Of the Passover.

Chapter 10: Of the extraordinary Sacraments in the Wilderness

Chapter 11: Of the Blessings of the Old Testament.

Chapter 12: Of the Imperfections falsely ascribed to the Old Testament.

Chapter 13: Of the real defects of the Old Testament.

Chapter 14: Of the Abrogation of the Old Testament.

Chapter 15: Of the Benefits of the New Testament.

Chapter 16: Of Baptism.

Chapter 17: Of the Lord's Supper.

Remembering the past!

Remembering my numerous and long discussions about the atonement, Universalism and other fun stuff!

Click here.


I do consider Amyraldianism to be heresy, inline with the earlier reformers and particularly Turretin's defense against it.

Some attempt to define Amyraldianism as another system of “Reformed” doctrine. This is not the case at all. This is quite opposite to what constitutes “Reformed Orthodoxy.”

It is emphatic to say “not the case at all” since the hallmark of reformed doctrine is the limited atonement of Jesus Christ and the Gospel (limited in the sense of scope, not in its power to actually do what it is designed to do – i.e. save the elect).

If someone were to modify the doctrine of the atonement or power of the Gospel, then that new idea, or “new” Gospel, would not be the biblical atonement or biblical Gospel at all. It would be a modification of it, and it would cease to be the real, saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.A more simplistic view of this theological error is called the “4-point Calvinist.”

This is a “Calvinist” who believes in T.U.I.P., not T.U.L.I.P., throwing out the limited atonement of Jesus Christ for the elect alone. (The acronym T.U.L.I.P stands for Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace and Perseverance of the Saints.).

In reality, someone who holds to this view is really a confused Arminian. Although 4 point Calvinists claim the title “Calvinist”, that does not mean they understand the elaborate system of doctrine which orthodox Calvinism purports as true. What they do understand about Calvinism is superficial since understanding orthodox Calvinism would give them no choice but to abandon their Amyraldianism.

Amyraut attempted to wed Arminianism and Calvinism together. This is an impossibility biblically, theologically and logically.

In attempting to do so, his presuppositions about systematic theology overrode his understanding of the biblical text and biblical theology. He filtered the text of the Bible through his newly created Amyraldian grid.

This presupposition appear full blown and was epitomized in his understanding of the order of decrees. In his Traite de la Predestination (published in 1634, only 15 years after the Synod of Dordt) he claimed that God, moved by his love for mankind, had appointed all human beings to salvation provided they repent and believe.

(The orthodox theologian should immediately see this as an inconsistency both biblically and logically.)

Amyraut believed that the Father sent the Lord Jesus Christ to die for the sins of all men in order to implement this purpose. However, since human beings would not on their own initiative repent and believe, God then chose to bestow a special measure of his Spirit to some only, who are the elect.

Electing Grace is seen as universal in the provision of salvation, though this is seen abstractly in Amyraut’s eyes, yet, it is particular in the application of it.

In his presupposed system of thought, Amyraut thought that he could continue to adhere to the Canons of Dordt and at the same time provide a picture of God’s love to all mankind that would be more faithful to scripture, and indeed to Calvin, than the thoroughly particularistic approach in the second quarter of the 17th century by the orthodox Puritan Divines. (New Dictionary of Theology, Section on Amyraldianism, by Dr. Roger Nicole (Harvard), Page 17.)

Amyraut taught the following concerning the decrees of God, which many modern Evangelicals still hold today (although some would deny certain points which Amyraut held as essential to the complete system):

The Father, because of His general saving love for all mankind, desires to redeem all men actually, although He does not actually save all men. He sends Jesus Christ into the world to make salvation possible for all men (this is the Hypothetical Universalism previously mentioned).

God, through a “hypothetical decree” which derives from His general saving love of all men universally, offers the Gospel, and salvation, to all men if they would believe on Christ.

In Amyraut’s mind, all men have an equal chance to become “sons of the Living God” because they all have a natural ability to repent and believe the Gospel (this is Pelagianism.)

Amyraut, then, believed that though men are naturally able to repent and believe, the fall rendered them “somewhat” incapable, thus, God decreed to elect a certain number of men, and secure their salvation for eternity.

This “incapability” is “aided” by what Arminians call today “prevenient grace.” This grace enables all men to be savingly empowered to see and believe the Gospel, though they are not regenerate. At this point the orthodox bible scholar asks, “Could this become any more convoluted?” Yes it can.

In following part of this line of thought, many “supposed Calvinists” have adopted Amyraut’s ideas concerning the will of God. To make matters worse Amyraut divided the will of God into two parts: the Universal conditional will, and the Particular unconditional will.

In this universal will, God desires the salvation of all men conditional on their faith – the faith of “chooser.” (Proof texts Amyraut used were Ezekiel 18:23; 33:11; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9; and John 3:16.) For his Particular conditional will he used Romans 9:13ff; Ephesians 1:3ff, etc.) This is where the modus operandi “Christ died sufficiently for all, but efficiently for the elect,” came about.

(It is my opinion that this saying is not theologically accurate. You will find it written little in Reformation literature. It asserts that God had two possible plans, or could have two possible plans, as if the death of Christ was not specific and particular.

The death of Christ could not be anything other than for the elect, both sufficiently and efficiently. The atonement (or oblation) of Christ securing or saving men has absolutely nothing to do with anyone else but the elect (those for whom he died).

To use the phrase “sufficiently and efficiently” is actually to say nothing at all in the reality of the cross, since we are not dealing with “hypothetical possibilities.”

Even if we were to “hypothesize” that Jesus’ blood is able to secure a million billion worlds, the Bible never teaches us the cross in this way. It always deals in the absoluteness of the reality of what Jesus actually did, and what the Father wanted him to accomplish.

This doctrinal position is seen clearly in the Covenant of Redemption. (cf. Psalm 110:4)) In dealing with the Gospel and the nature of the atonement, Amyraut emphasized the dual nature, or double nature, of the divine will.

This meant that God has a universal, conditional will to save all men upon the condition of faith, but that He also has an absolute and irresistible will which leads men to that faith. According to Amyraut, God, according with His unconditional will, savingly desired the salvation of the entire human race. God, he said, desired to give them redemption upon the condition of their faith. (John Owen, in his work “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ” exhaustively disembowels the theories of hypothetical universalism.

Any reader would do well to study through Owen’s exemplary work on the atonement.)

During the time Amyraut taught these doctrines, others began to believe them, and even within the assembly of the Westminster Divines, which invited all ministers to attend, the Davenant group (Amyraldians) attempted to overthrow the assembly on these points more than once.

Men like Samuel Rutherford and George Gillespie, and the other Presbyterians, held the majority opinion and the Westminster Assembly did not yield to their views.

If noticed, the Westminster Confession does not explicitly deal with the “order of decrees.” However, this does not mean that the Westminster Assembly left room for the false views of the Amyraldians; not at all. It is quite an aggressive confession surrounding the reality of God’s eternal decree and His purpose in sending the Son to save men. (See WCF Chapter 3 – On divine Decrees.)

The problems of Amyraldianism stem from mixing some twisted ideas surrounding Biblical material and the heresy of Pelagianism. The horror that arises out of this is that many churches today that would hold a label of calling themselves Evangelical really believe the theology and teachings of Amyraut; and subsequently Pelagius.

Though they would walk along the streets holding the banner of the “orthodox,” they have actually taken a wrong turn and walked into the house of Amyraut to sit down and dine with him.

When one begins to slide from the Reformed position to the Amyraldian position, some or all of the following doctrines begin to appear in their writing, preaching or teaching:

1) That God loves all men unconditionally and with an eye to saving them all, if they believe – a power they autonomously possess,

2) That Jesus Christ died for all mankind as to secure the possibility of salvation for them all,

3) That God wills and desires the salvation of all men through an unconditional love for them, disregarding any thoughts of an eternal, unchangeable decree to salvation,

4) That God has two wills, one particular and one conditional, both without qualification as to decree or purpose,

5) That God gives all men a chance to be saved through Christ’s atonement of “possibility”, and so pleads with them, offering them the Gospel if they would believe.

The Problems of Hypothetical Universalism are many. Amyraut has created a God who desires after those things which his omniscience has told Him He can never have.

This means God is frustrated in His knowledge. He knows he will not save certain men, but He nonetheless desires their salvation because Christ hypothetically created a “way of possibility” for them. This would make God sin.

He would sin in that He would violate His own mind and omniscience. He would go against that which He knows is true. He would desire the salvation of men which He will never regenerate. This would make God frustrated. He would be the ever-blessed, ever-miserable God.

Furthermore, Amyraut would have the will of Christ in direct opposition to the will of God. If God willed the salvation of all men, and loved all men hoping they would all “see His love in the death of Christ”, many of the biblical narratives and texts that Christ asserted are in contradiction to the Father’s desire.

Christ said in John 6:37-40, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Here the Father’s will and Christ’s will are the same.

Jesus loses nothing, and will raise them up in the last day. This is not a probability, but a reality.

Yet, Amyraut would have God desire something different than what Christ says here. God desires all to take hold of the free gift he has actually given them in Christ, though it remains a possibility for them until they take hold of it.

Yet, the Bible says here that Jesus loses none that the Father gives him. Jesus must, then, not have really known the Father’s will.

Jesus Christ referred to His flock, His people, as sheep. He said in John 10:15, “As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.” Contextually, the opposing Pharisees are the sons of the devil, and Jesus says they are not His sheep.

Why would Christ say this if God willed the possibility of salvation in the manner that Amyraut thought? Jesus is in direct opposition to the will of God if Amyraut is left to rule. Jesus in John 10:15 says He lays His life down for the sheep, not for all men.

All men are not sheep.

If all men were sheep, then the Shepherd, who goes out to find all His lost sheep, would then find them and bring them home. He would then rejoice with His friends that the all the sheep were found.

But this is contrary to the Bible. There are sheep and there are goats. The goats go to hell, and the sheep go to heaven. The Savior does not lay His life down for the goats, but for the sheep. (See Luke 15:4-6; Matthew 25:33) He does this so as to infallibly secure their salvation based on the intention of God’s decree and design for them.

However many scriptures we may be able to use to refute Amyraut’s ideas, it is wholly unnecessary in light of the purpose of the cross of Christ.

Amyraut did not understand the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Without a long digression into the Old Testament to understand a full doctrine of the “sacrifices”, suffice it to say that when the Israelites were commanded by God to sacrifice the burnt offerings, the sin offerings, and the like, they did this for those inside the camp – the camp of God’s chosen people.

It is true that some strangers whom God loved savingly were inducted into the camp and proselytized, but the sacrifices during Yom Kippur were for the people of God, not the Hittites, Jebusites, Amalakites, etc… Reading Leviticus 16 will bear the reality of this out quite effectively in opposition to Amyraut.

Those were but shadows and patterns of Jesus Christ and His perfect sacrifice on the cross for His people (Matthew 1:21). If Amyraut had understood this simple and basic principle, his theological system would have come to nought.

But there will always be those who desire to overthrow the sovereignty of God in salvation, and place the contingency of man’s power in the stead of Christ’s effectiveness. Such, in my opinion, is a gross misunderstanding of the nature of the Gospel itself.

Amyraut and Hypothetical Universalism

by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Fallacies of Arminians.

Bible Logic Fallacies of Arminians.

The following numbered items are common assumptions made by synergists in rejecting the bondage of the will and God's sovereign grace in salvation.

Fallacy #1. God would not command us to do what we cannot do.

God gave the Law to Moses, The Ten Commandments, to reveal what man cannot do, not what he can do.

A. Premise #1 is unscriptural. God gave the Law for two reasons: To expose sin and to increase it so man would have no excuse for declaring his own righteousness. Why? Because in the context, he does NO righteousness. As Martin Luther said to Erasmus, when you are finished with all your commands and exhortations from the Old Testament, I'll write Ro.3:20 over the top of it all. Why use commands and exhortations from the O.T. to show free will when they were given to prove man's sinfulness? They exist to show what we cannot do rather than what we can do. Yes, God gave commands to man which man cannot do. Therefore commandments and exhortations do not prove free will. Nowhere in scripture is there any hint that God gives commands to natural men to prove they are able to perform them.

[Here is the passage Luther quoted to Erasmus to show that law's purpose is to expose our bondage to sin, not show our moral ability to keep it: "Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin." Rom 3:19, 20]

B. This premise is irrational. There may be many reasons for commanding someone to do something, other than the assumption that the can do it. The purpose, as above, may be to show the person his inability to perform the command. Thus, NOTHING can be deduced about abilities from a mere command. Passages which state things such as "If thou art willing" and "whosoever believes" are spoken in the subjunctive (hypothetical) mood. A grammarian would explain that this is a conditional statement that asserts nothing indicatively. In such passages, what we "ought" to do does not necessarily imply what we "can" do.

C. The consequences of Adam's disobedience on his descendants includes spiritual impotence in several areas: man's inability to understand God (Psalm 50:21; Job 11:7-8; Rom 3:11); to see spiritual things (John 3:3); to know his own heart (Jer 17:9); to direct his own steps in the path of life (Jeremiah 10:23; Proverbs 14:12); to free himself from the curse of the Law (Galatians 3:10); to receive the Holy Spirit (John 14:17); to hear, understand or receive the words of God (John 8:47; 1 Corinthians 2:14); to give himself birth into God's family (John 1:13, Romans 9:15-16); to produce repentance and faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; John 6:64,65; 2 Thessalonians 3:2; Philippians 1:29; 2 Timothy 2:25); to come to Christ (John 10:26; John 6:44); and to please God (Romans 8:5, 8, 9).

Fallacy #2. Unless our will is free, then we are not responsible.

Or, "If not free, then not responsible." This means if we are unable to make a contrary choice, then our wills are not free. Thus, if we are completely bound in sin so that we can do nothing else but sin, then we are free from responsibility for those sins. This is irrational because the assumption behind this is the idea of neutrality.

A. The Bible does not present the concept of freedom in this way. According to Scripture, freedom is described as holiness. The ultimate freedom is absolute holiness. If that is true, then God is the most free being in the universe. Otherwise, we must say that God is the most enslaved being in the universe because He is the one least neutral on moral issues. Plus, God is not free in the libertarian sense to do something contrary His own nature. For example God cannot lie or be unholy or He would violate his own essence and thus no longer be God (an impossible supposition). but He is free in the Biblical from sin and the bondage of corruption ... as will be the saints in heaven when glorified on the last day. That they cannot choose otherwise [to sin] when glorified does not hinder their freedom, according to the Bible, who speaks of these persons as being the MOST free.

B. Likewise, if we affirm that bondage of will eliminates responsibility, then the best way to avoid responsibility for ours sins to be as bound by them as possible. The drunk who is bound by alcoholism is therefore not responsible for his actions. Should we encourage people to sin all the more therefore, so that they are not responsible any more?

C. The entire idea of neutrality of will is absurd. If the decisions of the will are not determined by the internal nature of the person, then in what sense can it be said that those decisions are the results of a decision of the person himself? How in fact could be a decision be truly a moral one if it is morally neutral? How can morality be morality at all and be neutral?

Fallacy #3. For love to be real, it must have the possibility of being rejected.

God wants us to love him freely, not by compulsion. Therefore, fallen man must have the ability to love God. It is simply that he chooses to love other things.

A. Scripture teaches that love for God is a product of His grace. 1Ti.1:14. If grace is necessary to make us love God, then it follows that we had no ability to love him before the arrival of grace. It also means that grace is not given because we chose to love God. We chose to love God because grace is given. Grace, not a virtue in man, takes the initiative.

B. This premise is similar to the one that says, "Contrary choice is necessary for freedom to exist." Does God periodically give the saints in heaven an opportunity to hate him so as to be 'fair'? Did Jesus have some ability to hate the Father? Or was His love for the Father a reflection of what He himself really is?

C. If faith is a gift of grace, as we saw above, then why is it strange to think that love may not be also a gift of grace?

Fallacy #4. A person cannot be punished for what he cannot help doing.

If that is the case, then a Christian may not be rewarded for what his new nature compels him to do. Let us not forget that the nature of a person is not a thing he possesses. It is something he is.

John Hendryx adapted from a short essay by Roger Smalling

We don't have the originals, so how can you argue for inerrancy?

We don't have the originals, so how can you argue for inerrancy?

If we don't have the original biblical documents, but only possess copies (that have copyist errors), then how can we argue that the original documents were without error?

We don't need to have the original documents in order to demonstrate their inerrancy any more than a prosecutor needs a body to prove a crime has been committed. Inferences can be drawn from the evidence at hand, and a reasonable conclusion can be argued from biblical principles.

First of all, the copies definitely have errors in them, but whether or not they have errors does not necessitate that the originals did. We don't need to have the original documents in order to demonstrate their inerrancy anymore than a prosecutor needs a body to prove a crime has been committed.

Second, the Scriptures are said to be God-breathed, i.e., inspired.

Second Timothy 3:16 says,
"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness."

The word "inspired" is 'theopneustos', God-breathed.

This means that Scripture comes from God. Jesus said in Luke 24:44-45,
"These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures."

Notice that the Scriptures are referred to as the entire Old Testament. Furthermore, Jesus said in John 10:35,
“If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken)."

We see that Jesus speak for the entire Old Testament, to which John the apostle refers to Scripture. Then we see that Jesus said the Scripture cannot be broken. This means that it cannot fail. From this we can easily conclude that the position of Jesus is that the Scriptures, the written form, cannot fail, cannot be broken. Logically, this means that they are without error.

Third, Jesus did not deal with the issue of copyist errors. He simply stated that God's word cannot be broken. Likewise, we should take the same stance.

Fourth, Jesus did not possess the original writings, yet he said that they could not be broken and contain error.

Fifth, the New Testament is likewise considered Scripture by the Christian Church. Therefore, it falls under the purview of all Scripture being inspired of God.

The Bible.

Great Resource here.

Glossary of terms.

Click here for resource.

Thanks to C.A.R.M

Friday, November 09, 2007

Baptism Debate

Looking forward to this debate!


Baptism Debate: 8pm EST
James R. White

Just a reminder that we have worked it out so that we can webcast the baptism debate this evening between myself and Dr. Gregg Strawbridge, editor of The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism. Some will remember that this was the book noted at the beginning of the baptism debate last year with Pastor Bill Shishko, and it is likewise the book containing the chapter by Pastor Jeff Niell that I interacted with in my Reformed Baptist Theological Review article on Hebrews 8 as well. I think we are scheduled for two hours, as far as I can tell, but I'm not 100% certain yet. In any case, the program will come to us from the folks at Covenant Radio. If the technology functions as it should, the quality should be very high. Of course, evening time is high traffic time in the US on the net, so the Skype factor could be a wildcard. We will see! We are scheduled to begin at 6pm MST, 8pm EST. Remember, this will take the place of our regular Thursday Dividing Line, but will be available at the regular webcasting URL, here. May the Lord be glorified in all that takes place this evening!

For the serious minded...Part 3 of 3

Coordinated Hands of God and Men: Providence in the Reformed Tradition
Speaker: Bruce Ware
DATE: 04.18.07
POSTED ON: 24.03.2007

On March 23 and 24, 2007, Resurgence had the great privilege of having Dr. Bruce Ware come to Mars Hill Church in Seattle to speak on issues related to the sovereignty of God. In this, the third session the conference, given the afternoon of the 24th, watch as Dr. Ware talks about the Reformed Tradition's view of God's work in creation.

To follow along with Dr. Ware's notes, click here.

Video here.

(And yes, I think Bruce Ware leans toward a more 4 point Calvinist understanding, just for the record!)
Proof enough <<< here >>> for me at least.

For the serious minded...Part 2 of 3

Independent Hands of God and Men: Providence in Classic Arminianism
Speaker: Bruce Ware
DATE: 04.12.07
POSTED ON: 24.03.2007

On March 23 and 24, 2007, Resurgence had the great privilege of having Dr. Bruce Ware come to Mars Hill Church in Seattle to speak on issues related to the sovereignty of God. In this, the second session the conference, given the morning of the 24th, watch as Dr. Ware talks about the Arminian Tradition's view of God's work in creation.

To follow along with Dr. Ware's notes, click here.

Video here.

For the serious minded...Part 1 of 3

Uncertain Hands of God and Men: Providence in Process Thought and Open Theism
Speaker: Bruce Ware
DATE: 04.06.07
POSTED ON: 23.03.2007

On March 23 and 24, 2007, Resurgence had the great privilege of having Dr. Bruce Ware come to Mars Hill Church in Seattle to speak on issues related to the sovereignty of God. In this, the first session the conference, given the evening of the 23th, watch as Dr. Ware talks about the Openness and Process Theology view of God's work in creation.

To follow along with Dr. Ware's notes, click here.

Video here.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Calvinism the gospel?

Sometimes, just out of almost nowhere, I come accross real nuggets of truth, or in this case, simple brilliance.

Calvinism the gospel?

"An honest Calvinist will answer NO! Those who hem and haw, who squirm, realizing the horror of their doctrine, tend to never give a straight answer. Do Arminians preach a false gospel, false as in Paul's declaration of "another gospel?" If so then, be clear."

An answer!

A. Personally, I find an atonement that secures salvation for none and is powerless in and of itself to save the horrible doctrine.

B. Paul's declaration of "another gospel" is quite clear. He's not addressing synergism broadly as much as a denial of Sola Fide and a specific type of synergism.

C. Apropos B, your objection is invalid on exegetical grounds. You're trying to conflate exegetical usage of "gospel" with dogmatic usage and then chastise Calvinists for failing to measure up...but Calvinists are appealing to dogmatic, not exegetical usage when they say "Calvinism is the gospel." Ergo, you've made a category error in your argument as well.

D. Calvinism is the gospel by way of dogmatic usage, in that, as a comprehenisve, systematic soteriology it identifies the source of salvation, the condition of men, the nature of the atonement, the necessity of grace, and the assurance of salvation for all who will believe far more accurately than Arminianism. This is what Spurgeon meant. It is also a worldiview that shapes much of the way we view the world.

E. Arminianism is a mixture of truth and error as a system and a worldview. How can anybody look at historical theology and not see this? Arminianism is inherently Unitarian at a functional level. It puts, in its more Pelagian forms (like the easy believism of Dave Hunt)m both election and regeneration outside a chain effected by grace; only the cross is in view. Ergo, this is functional Unitarianism. In classic Arminianism, the kind with a real doctrine of prevenient grace (in the former this is explicitly equated with common grace, cf. Elmer Towns), a person is enabled to believe from a state of equipoise effected by grace, so, while regeneration is outside the chain of grace directly, indirectly it resides inside of it, because faith would not result in it apart from this grace. The Father, however, because He bases election on foreseen faith, is still outside the chain of grace. Ergo, this is "Bi-Nitarian." It's not without reason that Arminianism has historically flirted with Socinianism as a result of this. Let's not forget the General Baptists and early Arminians in general turned to Socinianism relatively quickly, and it was only via the New Connection that they survived among Baptists. The crossroads of theological liberalism also tends to lie near or in Arminianism. Moreover, Arminianism tends toward neo-sacramentalism in Baptist churches where it takes hold, contrary to our eccelsiology. We do not affirm baptismal regeneration, yet so much emphasis is put on aisle walking and hand raising and sacramental prayers (decisional regeneration) that we end up creating neo-Campbellite sacraments of our own when we do this.

F. Apropos E, not all Arminians are of a stripe.

G. If you define "gospel" in exegetical terms, both Arminianism and Calvinism affirm the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and the necessity of Sola Fide and personal conversion.

H. Apropos G, when "gospel" is defined in this manner, closer to exegetical usage, the essential issue addressed by the Gospel is that man is a sinner, under the condemnation of God. The Gospel never calls upon the unregenerate to believe that they are unable to believe. Rather, it calls upon us to recognize our guilt before God, and to see Christ's sacrificial death as the sole remedy for our guilt and condemnation.

The Gospel message is about guilt, condemnation and forgiveness. It is not about "Who chose whom?", or "Where does faith come from?" Gospel-faith is trust in the person of Christ, having the confidence that He, by means of His Substitutionary death, has borne our sin and is fully able to forgive everyone who calls upon Him for salvation. Gospel-faith recognizes that Christ saves only those who trust in Him.

-It does not necessarily recognize the truth that this trust is God-given.
-One need not know or believe that God is the one behind your repentance and faith to experience repentance and faith.
-One need not understand the nature of justification before he experiences it.
-One need not believe in eternal security in order to be eternally secure;
-one need not believe it is impossible to fall away and fail to persevere in the faith in order not to fall away and persevere in the faith. Ergo, in this sense, both Calvinism and Arminianism can be said to encapsulate the gospel.

Men after my own heart.

I am affirming what great men before us have believed. Men like:

Soon the names (and more will be added) will be able to be clicked on, taking you to all kinds of good stuff!

Theodore Beza
Samuel Rutherford
John Owen
Thomas Watson
John Gill
Abraham Kuyper
Matthew Henry
Thomas Boston
George Whitefield
Jonathan Edwards
Charles Hadden Spurgeon
Charles Hodge
Arthur W. Pink
Gordon Clark
William G. T. Shedd
Robert Lewis Dabney
B. B. Warfield
J. Gresham Machen
John Murray
Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Highly recommend!)
Loraine Boettner
J. I. Packer
R. C. Sproul
Dr James White
John MacArthur
Albert Mohler
John Piper
John Calvin

Jn 3:17 - For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

* The Cross does not condemn… it SAVES... it does not condemn the world but saves it... thus the intent of the Cross was to save the believing world!

Who Really Preaches a Limited Gospel?

Who Really Preaches a Limited Gospel?

Apparently those who are opposed to mentioning "L" in one's sermons have been so influenced by modernism that they believe that the Sunday worship service should be targeted to the lost and just ignore the needs of the "sheep."

But I believe that attitude of dumbing down theology because we think people can't handle it or aren't as smart as we are is not only insulting but is irresponsible as a Bible teacher.

Read now what Mr. Spurgeon had to say:

“Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many,” Matthew 20:28

"Jesus Christ, we are told in our text, came into the world “to give his life a ransom for many.” The greatness of Christ’s redemption may be measured by the Extent Of The Design Of It. He gave his life “a ransom for many.” I must now return to that controverted point again. We are often told (I mean those of us who are commonly nicknamed by the title of Calvinists — and we are not very much ashamed of that; we think that Calvin, after all, knew more about the gospel than almost any man who has ever lived, uninspired) — We are often told that we limit the atonement of Christ, because we say that Christ has not made a satisfaction for all men, or all men would be saved. Now, our reply to this is, that, on the other hand, our opponents limit it: we do not. The Arminians say, Christ died for all men. Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men? They say, “No, certainly not.” We ask them the next question — Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of any man in particular? They answer “ No.” They are obliged to admit this if they are consistent. They say “No, Christ has died that any man may be saved if” — and then follow certain conditions of salvation.

"We say, then, we will just go back to the old statement — Christ did not die so as beyond a doubt to secure the salvation of anybody, did he? You must say “No;” you are obliged to say so, for you believe that even after a man has been pardoned, he may yet fall from grace, and perish. Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? Why, you. You say that Christ did not die so as to infallibly secure the salvation of anybody, We beg your pardon, when you say we limit Christ’s death; we say, “No, my dear sir, it is you that do it. We say Christ so died that he infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ’s death not only may be saved, but are saved, must be saved, and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved. You are welcome to your atonement; you may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it.

"Now, beloved, when you hear any one laughing or jeering at a limited atonement, you may tell him this. General atonement is like a great wide bridge with only half an arch; it does not go across the stream: it only professes to go half way, it does not secure the salvation of anybody. Now, I had rather put my foot upon a bridge as narrow as Hungerford, which went all the way across, than on a bridge that was as wide as the world, if it did not go all the way across the stream. I am told it is my duty to say that all men have been redeemed, and I am told that there is a Scriptural warrant for it — “Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” Now, that looks like a very, very great argument indeed on the other side of the question.

"For instance, look here. “The whole world is gone after him.” Did all the world go after Christ? “Then went all Judea and were baptized of him in Jordan.” Was all, or all Jerusalem baptized in Jordan? “Ye are of God, little children,” and “the whole world lieth in the wicked one.” Does “the whole world” there mean everybody? If so, how was it, then, that there were some who were “of God?” The words “world” and “all” are used in some seven or eight senses in Scripture; and it is very rarely that “all” means all persons, taken individually. The words are generally used to signify that Christ has redeemed some of all sorts — some Jews, some Gentiles, some rich, some poor, and has not restricted his redemption to either Jew or Gentile.

"Leaving controversy, however, I will now answer a question. Tell me then, sir, who did Christ die for? Will you answer me a question or two and I will tell you whether he died for you. Do you want a Savior? Do you feel that you need a Savior? Are you this morning conscious of sin? Has the Holy Spirit taught you that you are lost? Then Christ died for you, and you will be saved. Are you this morning conscious that you have no hope in the world but Christ? Do you feel that you of yourself cannot offer an atonement that can satisfy God’s justice? Have you given up all confidence in yourselves? And can you say upon your bended knees “Lord, save, or I perish?” Christ died for you.

"If you are saying this morning “I am as good as I ought to be; I can get to heaven by my own good works,” then, remember, the Scripture says of Jesus, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” So long as you are in that state I have no atonement to preach to you. But if this morning you feel guilty, wretched, conscious of your guilt, and are ready to take Christ to be your only Savior, I can not only say to you that you may be saved, but what is better still, that you will be saved. When you are stripped of everything but hope in Christ, when you are prepared to come empty-handed and take Christ to be your all and to be yourself nothing at all, then you may look up to Christ, and you may say, “Thou dear, thou bleeding Lamb of God! thy griefs were endured for me, by thy stripes I am healed and by thy sufferings I am pardoned.” And then see what peace of mind you will have for if Christ has died for you, you cannot be lost.

"God will not punish twice for one thing. If God punished Christ for your sin, he will never punish you. “Payment, God’s justice cannot twice demand, first, at the bleeding surety’s hand, and then again at mine.” We can today, if we believe in Christ, march to the very throne of God, stand there, and if it is said, “Art thou guilty?” we can say, “Yes, guilty.” But if the question is put, “What have you to say why you should not be punished for your guilty” We can answer, “Great God, thy justice and thy love are both our guarantees that thou wilt not punish us for sin; for didst thou not punish Christ for sin for us? How canst thou, then, be just — how canst thou be God at all, if thou dost punish Christ the substitute, and then punish man himself afterwards?”

"Your only question is, “Did Christ die for me?” And the only answer we can give is — “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ came into the world to save sinners.” Can you write your name down among the sinners — not among the complimentary sinners, but among those that feel it, bemoan it, lament it, seek mercy on account of it? Are you a sinner? That felt, that known, that professed, you are now invited to believe that Jesus Christ died for you, because you are a sinner; and you are bidden to cast yourself upon this great immovable rock, and find eternal security in the Lord Jesus Christ."

[excerpt of sermon by Spurgeon, C. H.: Spurgeon's Sermons: Volume 4: Particular Redemption]