Friday, November 30, 2007

Mafia Code of Conduct (updated 4-25-2008)

We are so happy that you visited us today! No doubt, some of you will want to visit our Speak Easy and voice your opinion and that's fine. Rival gang members may be coming here to make a name for themselves and shoot up the place -and that's fine too. No matter what you're here to accomplish, before you leave a comment, please remember the following things:

  1. Profanity, blasphemy, spam, and pornography will not be tolerated on the Reformed Mafia blog. Anyone violating this rule will have their comments deleted and be banned from further interaction on this blog.

  2. Do not feed the trolls! If you are a troll, don't feel bad about not being sufficiently fed while you're here. We truly feel no obligation to provide you with a platform, especially if you show up with an unteachable attitude and spraying lead everywhere.

  3. Speaking of trolls... All blog trolls will be banned, shaved bald, or otherwise treated like, well, like trolls.

  4. All articles are property of their respective authors. Except, if you'd like to claim you wrote something that Gordan did, he'd get a kick out of that, so you can take his stuff but nobody Else's.

  5. Nobody at the Reformed Mafia is being paid for their work here, therefore, due to ministerial obligations, work, time constraints, or pure old apathy, some members may not wish to interact with their readers at all.

  6. Stay on topic! If the subject of an article is about bats living in church attics, hi-jacking the thread with a rant about Supralapsarianism is not acceptable and will result in the comment being deleted. Persistent violations of this rule will result in being banned from further interaction on this blog.

  7. We are really more like a Chess Club than an actual Mafia. Meaning, we aren't writing here looking for a fight. If you attempt to engage us in debate over your pet heterodoxy/heresy, we may comply with your desires, or we may not. Or, we may initially and then get bored and quit. Even if you call us names and write about how you kicked our tails back at your own blog: we just don't give a rip about that stuff.

  8. In fact, sometimes all we want to do is put out some information, and very truly couldn't care less what anyone's opinion is about it after that. When you see us disable comments on a post...get the hint.

  9. If you're a rabid anti-Calvinist out to make a name for yourself on the Internet, you might want to try visiting Triablogue instead: Those guys will make you famous in a hurry!

  10. Sometimes people come here and get offended. We support your right to be offended. However, we would appreciate it if you would find somewhere else to do it. If at any time you find yourself getting offended by the theme or content of this blog, please resist the urge to continue reading and click here.

Lastly, and this rule works in real life, too: Treat everyone like they might be armed.

Thank you and have a nice day!

This message was brought to you by the Reformed Mafia Speak Easy Committee. (Gordan and Rhett)

All articles © 2007-2008 by the respective authors of the Reformed Mafia. All Rights Reserved.

Post-Modernism and the Emergent Church

This footage comes from a Q&A session at the 2007 Ligonier National Conference that was held in Orlando, FL. Being interviewed is R.C. Sproul, Al Mohler, and Ravi Zacharias.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Building Bridges: Southern Baptist and Calvinism

Many of you, like myself, could not make it to this historic conference at the Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina. However, thanks to Lifeway and Ed Stetzer, there are audio files at the Lifeway Podcast here and also some manuscripts of some of the lectures here. Also, I read a comment by Nathan Finn on his own blog that there will be a book to be pulbished by Broadman and Holmann Press with all the lectures present as individual chapters. This will be something to purchase when it comes out. Be Blessed!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Kangaroo D'Oh!

I lifted this from the meta of a post over at Triablogue. Our sometime commenter/fomenter of dischord, Kangeroodort, a/k/a Ben left it there. I don't know that they'll answer it (although I may already be wrong about that) because it is off-topic, so I thought I'd interact with it a bit. The blue font below is all Ben's stuff.

I asked the following comment which has so far been ignored directly, but answered indirectly by saint and sinner:

In the meantime, I have a quick question for you regarding John 6:44. Do you believe that one can "come" prior to regeneration? If not, then I suspect you see the drawing of John 6:44 as a reference to irresistible regeneration.

Is that the case? Would you object to an interpretive translation along these lines:"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me first regenerates them [gives them life]"?

S&S later said [concerning the contention that John 6:44 had reference to resistible prevenient grac]:This is a basic exegetical error in interpreting John 6. The problem with this interpretation is that Jesus is quoting the Prophet Isaiah. The quote comes from Is. 54:13, which is in the midst of a passage on the renewed creation and covenant. Like other passages in the prophets (Jeremiah 31:33-34 and Ezekiel 36:26-27), it is thus speaking about regeneration, not a preaching of the gospel which we must then decide upon. Thus, those who are "taught of God" are the regenerate.

So it would seem that the drawing of John 6:44 refers to regeneration in the Calvinist scheme. To say it refers to something less is to concede prevenient grace, which the Calvinist will not do. So it is quite resonable to understand Jn. 6:44, in Calvinism, as saying:No one can come to be unless the Father who sent Me regenerates them [i.e. first gives them life].

I assume that S&S would also equate "come" with "believe" as most Calvinists do. So we could further define the passage as:No one can believe in Me unless the Father who sent Me regenerates them [i.e. first gives them life].

We could then simplify the teaching by saying, "no one can come unless the Father first gives them life."

Therefore, the giving of life, according to Calvinism, must precede coming or believing.I dare say that no Calvinist would object at this point.

What then did Jesus mean when He said in John 5:40:" are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life."

Here Jesus plainly says that "coming" precedes the giving of life. This flatly contradicts the Calvinists interpretation of John 6:44 and renders such an interpretation impossible.

In view of John 5:40, the drawing of John 6:44 can have no reference to regeneration.

God Bless,Ben

First, let me give Ben some props here for having a grasp on the Calvinist interpretation he seeks to argue with. I would state things a little differently than he has above, but not all that much. So, yes, it is the standard Calvinist intepretation of John 6:44, that it teaches that regeneration precedes faith.

See what a nice Calvinist I am, Ben. I gave you some props. In fact, I'll go ahead and give you some more. You have proven to me that you are a thoughtful Christian man who is zealous in the pursuit of truth.

But, sadly, those last props come in spite of what you've written in this comment, and not because of it. After reading what you've written, I stubbornly refuse to believe that this is really how you go about studying the Scripture. I choose to believe better of you, in spite of the current lack of evidence. (I'm a hopeless fideist...)

1. It looks like what you've done here is this: recognized that the Calvinistic take on John 6 is all about who comes to Jesus and why, and you've seen it has something to do with the new life of regeneration. Then, you took some of those key words, specifically "come" and "life" and you've looked with your concordance for other places where the two terms occur in close proximity. Having found a place like that (John 5:40,) you've compared the way that place speaks of life and coming to Jesus and the way John 6 speaks of life and coming to Jesus. And, lo and behold, we see that you prefer the way that John 5 puts it, and have thus determined that the view you don't like, from John 6, must be wrong.

2. Let me illustrate why this is a truly horrible way to study the Bible. Let's say, as a Calvinist, I don't like the insistence that John 3:16 shows that God loves every individual in the world. And so, I hunt around in my Bible for other places that speak of the world, until I come to 1 John 2:15, where it says, "If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

"Eureka!" I shout. "Now I've got all those synergists dead to rights! They'll never overcome this challenge from Scriptural fact, for I have proven that love for the world is really the opposite of God's attitude!"

Does it not immediately occur to you why that would be really dumb?

I'm sure it does, Ben, but for our readers let me spell it out: To do that would be to ignore simple considerations of context. Any synergist would be totally correct to then come and rebuke me for being too stupid to see immediately that the passages are not talking about the same things. And that's true, even though John 3:16 and 1 John 2:15 use the same key words, like "God" and "love."

A very simple, surface reading would show me, if I had bothered enough to check, that different things are in view. Again, that's true even though the same author uses the same key words: He's still talking about different things. The only reason I would possibly fail to see that is if I was so ideologically blinded that I was willing to deal fast-and-loose with the Word of God so long as I got to prove my point with it. And shame on me.

3. Apprapos 1 and 2, you try to make your point here by citing a place where the same author uses the same key words, and you've simply assumed that the two different discussions are talking about the same thing.

4. But is the assumption of 3 above warranted? The discussion in John 6 is about why some come to Jesus in faith and are saved, and some do not. The matter at hand in John 5 is the sin of the Jewish leaders, who had refused to listen to any of the witnesses that God sent to them. Though they both have in common the presence of sinful unbelief, they really are two different conversations. In John 6, Jesus is explaining to His disciples the "why" of faith, and in John 5, Jesus is rebuking the Jews for the fact of their unbelief.

In addition, I would grant that the "coming" of both passages is a metaphor for faith in Christ. But it is truly a stretch to assume that the "life" the Jews were actively refusing in John 5 is the new spiritual life of regeneration. Can you not see in the passage itself that there are different sorts of "life?" I mean, the Jews were certainly "alive" in one sense, and yet had refused another sort of life. How you conclude that they were refusing regeneration specifically, and neither the spirit-life of faith in Christ (as in Romans 8) nor eternal life with Him in heaven is beyond me. Regeneration is certainly not the focus in John 5: faith in Christ is.

5. And many such things you (synergists, generally) do. Use a passage that isn't about why some believe and some don't in order to argue with the grammatical-historical exegesis of a passage that plainly is. Another example of this sort of argumentation is the resort to John 12 to blunt the force of John 6. (Hey, they both mention a drawing of men to Christ: It has to be the same...except that it's obviously different. But still, the one in John 12 is more likeable, so let's go with that one.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Theology of Bruce Almighty

Currently, even as I write this post I am watching Bruce Almighty. I have seen it before, but never thought much about it. It is on tv today, and am watching it with a purpose. I am watching it theologically.Obviously some things on the film are close to blasphemous, while others are not pertaining to goldiness. But a secular movie about God, even if it is starring Jim Carey, I believe there are reasons to watch it, primarily to see what the secular culture thinks about God.

Early in the movie, "God" was telling "Bruce" the rules of being God. There were two rules of being God.

1. You can't tell anyone you are God.
2. You can't mess with free will.

I am serious. That was in the movie. Let us quickly examine these two rules theologically.

1. You can't tell anyone you are God. Well, God messed up on that one. He revealed himself as Yahweh in the Old Testament. He told people who he was, He revealed himself. Jesus Christ himself said he was God in the New Testament. So, number is wrong. If God chooses to reveal himself, as he has...he certainly can do so.

2. You can't mess with free will. This notion is not just something for Calvinists and Arminians to debate. It is the secular view of God. God simply cannot mess with free will.

The Scripture says, "The king's heart is ike channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever he wishes." (Proverbs 21:1)

Scripture seems to affirm that God can interfere and does "mess with" man's free will, and that he is in control of man's free will to accomplish his purposes.

SO there you are...the secular view of God presented in Bruce Almighty is consistent with Arminianism.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Owen's Display: Arminianism Gutted and Filleted!!

I just finished reading John Owen's Display of Arminianism. Probably the best polemic on Arminianism that I've read so far... Owen really had a grasp of the issues and the Bible.

As with everything penned by Owen, the Display was difficult reading, but Owen really does a great job of exposing classical Arminianism as truly " THE OLD PELAGIAN IDOL FREE-WILL, WITH THE NEW GODDESS CONTINGENCY".

One thing I found interesting is how, at the end of each chapter, Owen cited Arminian authors and compared them to Scripture. Some of the statements from the old school Arminians are shocking. I thought about transcribing them here, but I found a website that had already transcribed Owen's comparisons here. Check it out. It's very informative.

For those of you (Calvinist or not) who would like to have the book, a paperback copy of Owen's Display of Arminianism can be purchased here.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thankful for Triablogue

Whew! I was starting to think Triablogue had become the All Waterboarding All The Time channel.

But this article here is a killer: I'd be interested to see what our recent Arminian defenders think of it. Once you're done reading that one and its stellar meta, read the article just previous to it as well, in which our Arminian acquaintence, J. C. Thibodaux hits the big-time by getting himself systematically undone. Here's your "Arminian Challenge" for you, JCT. You asked for it, you got it: now go over there and show the Triablogue team your mad skills!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope you will all glory in God's great goodness, eat too much, drink a little, get rid of the in-laws fairly early, and exult in the Dallas Cowboys achieving their best record in franchise history today. I know I will.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Theology of Employment

This is a rather strange title for a blog, but I am about to go into my second job in one hour, where I will be working overnight, stocking at target department stores, about four minutes from my apartment. I also work during the day at Chick Fil A. In this article I want to show that working is a theological issue. We don't just work to pay bills (which that is one reason I got a second job), but we work because work is theological. I want to present a brief theology of work.

1. Work is a covenant stipulation. Notice in Genesis 1:28. This is what is called the Adamic Covenant. Mankind is created in the image of God, and then in verse 28 we find the covenant blessing and the covenant blessing, which is almost identical to the Noahic Covenant. First is the command to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Here we discover that sexuality is a theological issue, something the culture has greatly corrupted, but is not a bad thing of itself. Anyways, the second part of this is to subdue the earth, and to rule over the earth. Here mankind, created in the image of God has a job: Ruling and Subduing the Earth.

2. Work was the first man's first responsibility. Notice Genesis 2:15. "The the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden to cultivate it and to keep it." Notice, that man's purspose in the garden is work. It's not to kick back and enjoy the scenery. Adam was not put in the garden of eden for a longterm vacation. Adam was given a job, and God was his boss. Work is a theological Issue.

3. Working was a responsibility of man prior to the fall. Work is not a result of sin, man had a job before the fall. Obviously, the fact that work is often laborious and tedious and hard is a result of the fall (Genesis 3:17-19), but work itself is not a result of the fall. Work is not a result of sin.

4. Work has to do with wisdom. Read the proverbs. Their is a clear contrast between the wise man and the fool. The fool is pictured as a sluggard, while the wise man is a man who labors diligently. People who don't like to work, don't like to work because they are not in union with Christ, who is wisdom personified. Christ himself was a carpenter by trade. The Savior, who is wisdom personified, worked. Working has to do with wisdom, and laziness has to do with foolishness.

While, I think we should be willing to accept financial assistance, I seriously wonder about guys who are going into ministry who don't work and just go play games and go out to eat on their mom and dad's dollar. I think there is something theologically wrong with that. I believe if a man is going to be wise, he will get a job. (You don't have to have two jobs and work like a maniac), but working is a theological issue. Working is our end of the covenant. Working is our responsibility as people created in the image of God. Working is not a result of the fall. When we go to work, we should not go begrudgingly, but we should do all to the glory of God, because we are working ultimately for a person more supreme and preeminent than the people who cut our paychecks, we are working for the one who has given us treasures beyond comparison, and a mansion in heaven better than any salary can offer. We are working for our Savior and our God, Jesus Christ. So, as I go to work tonight and tomorrow afternoon, and whenever I work, I am going to go to work understanding that employment is a theological issue and that ultimately I am working for the glory of God, as His image bearer, reflecting his name and glory in the workplace. Be Blessed!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Something to be Thankful For

As I have been studying the theme of the covenant, my heart has been overwhelmed with gratitude towards God, and I would like to share a few things that we should be thankful for this thanksgiving.

1. Be thankful that God has chosen to enter into a covenant relationship with you through Jesus Christ. What an amazing thought that God would choose to enter that relationship with us despite our sinfulness. We can experience a real and close union with the Father because of what the Son did on the cross. Notice throughout the Scriptures that God chooses to enter into this relationship with whom he pleases, whom he has chosen, not the other way around. What an amazing thing!

2. Be thankful for all of the covenant blessings you have been given. God has given us grace, mercy, provision, protection, comfort, all of these are blessings experienced in the covenant. Ephesians says that we have been blessed with all the spiritual blessings in the heavenly places. IN Ephesians 1, we find out some of these blessings...Election, Adoption, Justification, Preservation, and many more. What a glorious thought that we have been blessed by God in numerous ways.

3. Be thankful for God's covenantal faithfulness. God never turns his back on his covenant promises. God can forever be trusted, and we can always rely upon his word.

4. Be thankful for God's covenantal love. The Hebrew word Hesed, which has no english equivalent, I think best translated in the NASB as lovingkindness, is amazing. The Bible says God's lovingkindness is everlasting. God is forever bestowing his covenant love, his special love, upon the people he has chosen.

We have so many things to be thankful for. May God's covenantal faithfulness, love, and blessings, always come to remembrance in our minds as we give him thanks. Be Blessed!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Foreknowledge and Free Will

Many people have a hard time embracing the doctrines of grace for several reasons. I have heard numerous things such as "Calvinism kills evangelism" "Calvinists believe man is a robot" and many other things. In my last post, I am reminded of yet another reason people have a hard time embracing Calvinism.

People just can't believe in a God who creates people who have no choice but to go to hell.

I want to address this for just a few moments.

First...this is not Calvinism. Calvinism teaches that God creates people who do have a choice and will. These people will choose what they desire, and that it sin. God has created people who are ensalved to their sinful natures and will sin, unless God changes their hearts.

Second...Arminians think this is just a problem with Calvinism. However, the problem lies within Arminianism as well....IF God exhastively foreknows that someone will not choose Christ and end up in hell before he creates them, then why would he create those people? Upon the creation of those individuals, those people will not be able to choose otherwise, for God has exhastive foreknowledge that they will never do so. So, in Arminian theology, you also have a God who creates people who have no choice but to go to hell (or whatever God foreknows about that person). IF God foreknows that I am going to walk outside in five minutes, can I actually and really choose....and also perform the opposite? The answer is no, because God's knowledge of the future is exhaustive, and infinite. The future cannot happen in any other way than what God knows will happen.

If it can, then God does not have exhaustive foreknowleldge, and we are left with Open Theism or Process Theology.

SO here it is: People do have a free will and a choice...But that is not libertarian free will, it is free will of inclination. People do and choose what they want.

Sinners choose to go to hell. God doesn't create robots, he creates people who really have a choice, but they have already chosen what they want.

God cannot be blamed for creating people who go to hell. The Open Theists realize the same issue regarding God's foreknowledge and free will. Thus, they reject God's foreknowledge and say that God didn't know the person would reject him. He thought that people would believe in him. Calvinist do not deny the will or choice...rather we affirm man's choice and that man chooses from his heart of wickedness, untill God changes that person's heart.

If you can't believe in a God who creates people whom He already knows is going to hell, thus resulting in those people not being able to do otherwise, you must, like the Open Theist, reject classical theism, and reformulate the doctrine of God.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Free WIll by Michael Tait

I don't know if any of you have ever heard this song, but this Arminian theology in the ears of teenagers. A song called free will, can you imagine? I am sure a song called depravity, or limited atonement, or predestination probably wouldn't sell many records. With music like this, it is no wonder Calvinism is difficult for people to accept, because Arminian Theology put to contemporary christian music just seems to ring true in the hearts of modern Christians... and the song sounds really has a good ring to of those songs that get stuck in your head. I can't find an mp3 of it or I would link it here, but here are the Lyrics and a comment on the song by Michael Tait:

To the maker of this house
The holder of the key
I gave You my heart
But held some back for me
Someday I would give You
Everything I am
But I stole my road to freedom
I took the key and ran
With my hands over my ears
You said You would meet me
If I’d reach out

I got a free will
I’m gonna use it
I got a free will
Yes, I do
I got a free will
I’m gonna use it
I got a free will
Yes, I do

Thank You for this gift
It’s still a mystery
My freedom in Your hands
Is how it’s meant to be
It’s only when I give You
Everything I am
Bittersweet surrender
Take me

(I’m gonna choose it)

Something ain’t right
You gotta let it go
Something ain’t right
You gotta let it go

I’m gonna make it right
I’m letting go
And it’s up to me
I got a free will

(And I’ve got to lose it)

So I give my free will
Back to You
Yes I do
The Son has set me free
And I am free indeed

Behind the Song:
'I know that God knew what He was doing when He gave us free will, but sometimes it’s hard to believe that He doesn’t regret it. Human beings have messed up just about everything we can. It’s an amazing and sobering thing to begin to realize the implications of our own choices; both in our own lives and in the lives we touch. What path are we choosing? What are we doing with this free will? Are we living selfishly, or are we learning to love?' - Michael Tait

Sure...we've messed things up by sin...but is God not in control of it all? Apparently, Michael Tait does not believe God is Sovereign. But then can he if all of his creatures possess Libertarian Freedom. IF they can choose A or B, then how can God be in control of whether they will choose A or not? Just a thought.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Book now available!

Attention Reformers! Pierced For Our Transgressions is now available from Monergism Books! At a great price too!