Monday, April 28, 2008

We Love God But Not Like We Love Our Freedom

The 1689 LBC has this to say about the Fall:

Although God created man upright and perfect, and gave him a righteous law, which had been unto life had he kept it, and threatened death upon the breach thereof, yet he did not long abide in this honour; Satan using the subtlety of the serpent to subdue Eve, then by her seducing Adam, who, without any compulsion, did willfully transgress the law of their creation, and the command given unto them, in eating the forbidden fruit, which God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory.
( Genesis 2:16, 17; Genesis 3:12,13; 2 Corinthians 11:3 )

Along with this I will include the 1689 statement on the will.

One of the things that is often breezed by is the nature of the fall, pre and post condition of man. It will take some development to establish what I am going to say later about a notable Southern Baptist whose influence must be widely credited with the establishment of the SBC majoritarian party's doctrinal position, today. Right now I have to establish a framework.

First, we need to discover what the estate of man was prior to the fall. The 1689 states:

After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, rendering them fit unto that life to God for which they were created; being made after the image of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness; having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfil it, and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject to change...Besides the law written in their hearts, they received a command not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which whilst they kept, they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.

Things that need to be noticed here are: image, fit, immortality, knowledge, righteousness, true holiness. There is much more to the likeness. Let's take a look at these, but briefly, since what I want to establish is that man was created after the image of God. He was not created, god, but after the image of God. Like all things in creation, man shows forth God's glory, Romans 1 and elsewhere. To sum it up man was made perfectly perfect as a expression of God's creation.

The character and attributes of God are developed throughout Scripture, and here we see some as expressed in the make up of man. This immediately throws us upon a dilemma. We know from the commandments that we are not to make images of the likeness of God. We are told that God is not a man. Therefore we need a definition of image that is compatible. The descriptors actually give us that definition, with some qualifications. The qualifications can be summed up in the fact that man is a creature, a product of creation and by definition cannot be what created it. He can be like the maker, but not the maker.


Immortality is not inherent in man. Eternal life is inherent only in God; 1 John 5:11; 1 John 5:20. In him alone is life. Man is made, and being made is mortal. The continuance of the soul of man is established, not in man, but in the power of God to sustain it. In other words if God so chose, he could destroy the soul. And, I for one believe that he does, for believers in the new birth. But I digress.

Knowledge again is not something that is inherent in man. God alone is the ground of all knowledge. What man does know is what God has given him; Job 21:22. That too can be taken or added according to God's good pleasure.

Righteousness and true holiness are again not inherent in man, they have their beginning and terminus in God. The One who alone is good; Luke 18:19, is also the One who alone is righteous; Isaiah 45:24. But here we must pause and question the difference between righteousness and holiness. If we want we might capture the sense of difference as that which Jesus said,

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
Holiness we might say is that which does, and righteousness, that which is done. Holiness and righteousness are not without each other. Again, though, what we have is man created who is not inherently these things, but he is made to be this image or likeness.

The beginning quote contains this incredible statement:
God created man upright and perfect
As I have tried to emphasize, what is inherent in God is not inherent in man. But there is an image, or likeness, that was perfect. It was perfect in the reflection of the communicable attributes of God, it was perfectly made, suited, "fit" the word used in the confession, to glorify God in his creation. As the apex, all that was made had been perfected in man, to be the summation of all that God wanted to communicate with man about Himself. We find him upright. Later though we will find him fallen. The NT term for resurrection, anastasis means to stand one again upon his feet. Though man was meant to worship his God in the humility of heart that is fitting a creature of his creator, God had created man to stand in his presence.

That is enough to get us started. We will look next at the nature of God so that we might learn more about man and what really took place and what was the tragedy and extent of the fall.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Distributing the Hooch!

It's funny how stuff works out sometimes...

Until a few weeks ago, I really didn't overtly (or covertly) push my theological opinions on anyone. I mainly discussed "the Doctrines" with other Calvinists, on my blogs, and with my immediate family.

By God's providence all that has changed in the past few weeks! After much grief and the loss of my position at church, I've now been afforded the opportunity to openly discuss the Doctrines with people I never would've thought possible before! People are now curious. They have questions. And I want to help them find the answers!

Yesterday I launched a small campaign to get the Amazing Grace DVD into the hands of anyone from church who is interested in finding out more about what we Calvinists believe! Prior to this unpleasant turn of events, I would've never even thought of attempting such a thing. The fact is, through the unpleasantness of recent days, we now have people seriously studying their Bibles and interested in learning more about the Doctrines of Grace.

What at first looked to be the tragic "end" of my ministry, I am now growing more and more optimistic that it could be my greatest opportunity yet. I now have the chance to inspire people to think deeply about theological issues they've probably never considered before.

I covet your prayers as I openly and unashamedly distribute our "prohibition hooch" to all who seek to know the truth about what we believe!

Post Tenebras, Lux!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Baptists and Free Will

It is simply a falsehood to state that all Baptists have always believed that man has a free will that can either accept or reject the gospel.

The Philadelphia Confession (Baptist) of 1742 has this to say on the topic of man's "free will."

Man, by his fall unto a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself or to prepare himself thereunto.

When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, He freeth him from his natural bondage under sin, and by His grace alone, enables him freely to will, and do that which is spiritually good; yet so that, by reason of his remaining corruptions, he doth not perfectly nor only will that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil.

The will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to good alone in the state of glory only.

Similarly, the Sandy Creek Association (one of the very first and most important Southern Baptist groups) included this statement in their confession:

That Adam fell from his original state of purity, and that his sin is imputed to his posterity; that human nature is corrupt, and that man, of his own free will and ability, is impotent to regain the state in which he was primarily placed.

(Just so that we're on the same page here, "impotent" means powerless, without strength. The Sandy Creekers believed that fallen man's will was powerless in the realm of salvation.)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Why the Reformed Mafia?

Over the past few weeks I have realized that some are upset that some members here were Calvinists, but some are upset simply because of the Mafia theme. However, As I have stated in the past, The Reformed Mafia is no Mafia at all. It is simple a theme built on a statement by J.I. Packer, a prolific Christian author, and author of best seller, Knowing God. But as it has come to my attention that people are offended by this material, and by name being attached, I am resigning as a member of the Mafia. I know this comes as a shock, but as a future minister, I do not believe that persecution for a blog theme is really all that much worth it. As I know two former authors whom this blog has caused problems for regarding job status, I do not believe it is worth it for me. I don't want to seek to offend, only to edify. To some who have found this blog offensive, I apologize, for that is not the intended purpose. I will continue blogging, at

For new readers, do not be offended at this site. It is simply a theme suppose to be funny, but a place where we deal with issues in the church, and theological issues. In my dealings with these men, I have found them to be godly men who have a desire to know God and His Word. Listen to them, read their writings. Learn from them. Read their writings with an open Bible and open heart.

If you have questions, I can be reached by email at

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

New Muscle

I want to announce the happy tidings that the Reformed Mafia is welcoming another new writer, Thomas Twitchell (a/k/a Strong Tower).

Things have been hectic here and I haven't had the time to properly introduce him. I have been reading his stuff for many months, and am excited that he's agreed to come on board with us here at the Mafia.

With the recent addition of both Thomas and the Highland Host, the composite I.Q. of the Reformed Mafia has experienced a marked jump upwards.

Thomas seems a bit more willing to "mix it up" than some of us have been in the past. I think that's a good thing.

To the anti-Calvinists, anti-Baptists out there, I say, "Let's you and Twitchell fight."

Welcome, brother!

John 3:21 via Ephesians 2:10

Ephesians 2:10

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Of this verse John Calvin said:

For we are his work. By setting aside the contrary supposition, he proves his statement, that by grace we are saved, — that we have no remaining works by which we can merit salvation; for all the good works which we possess are the fruit of regeneration. Hence it follows, that works themselves are a part of grace.

When he says, that “we are the work of God,” this does not refer to ordinary creation, by which we are made men. We are declared to be new creatures, because, not by our own power, but by the Spirit of Christ, we have been formed to righteousness. This applies to none but believers. As the descendants of Adam, they were wicked and depraved; but by the grace of Christ, they are spiritually renewed, and become new men. Everything in us, therefore, that is good, is the supernatural gift of God. The context explains his meaning. We are his work, because we have been created, — not in Adam, but in Christ Jesus, — not to every kind of life, but to good works.

What remains now for free-will, if all the good works which proceed from us are acknowledged to have been the gifts of the Spirit of God? Let godly readers weigh carefully the apostle’s words. He does not say that we are assisted by God. He does not say that the will is prepared, and is then left to run by its own strength. He does not say that the power of choosing aright is bestowed upon us, and that we are afterwards left to make our own choice. Such is the idle talk in which those persons who do their utmost to undervalue the grace of God are accustomed to indulge. But the apostle affirms that we are God’s work, and that everything good in us is his creation; by which he means that the whole man is formed by his hand to be good. It is not the mere power of choosing aright, or some indescribable kind of preparation, or even assistance, but the right will itself, which is his workmanship; otherwise Paul’s argument would have no force. He means to prove that man does not in any way procure salvation for himself, but obtains it as a free gift from God. The proof is, that man is nothing but by divine grace. Whoever, then, makes the very smallest claim for man, apart from the grace of God, allows him, to that extent, ability to procure salvation.

Created to good works. They err widely from Paul’s intention, who torture this passage for the purpose of injuring the righteousness of faith. Ashamed to affirm in plain terms, and aware that they could gain nothing by affirming, that we are not justified by faith, they shelter themselves under this kind of subterfuge. “We are justified by faith, because faith, by which we receive the grace of God, is the commencement of righteousness; but we are made righteous by regeneration, because, being renewed by the Spirit of God, we walk in good works.” In this manner they make faith the door by which we enter into righteousness, but imagine that we obtain it by our works, or, at least, they define righteousness to be that uprightness by which a man is formed anew to a holy life. I care not how old this error may be; but they err egregiously who endeavor to support it by this passage.

We must look to Paul’s design. He intends to shew that we have brought nothing to God, by which he might be laid under obligations to us; and he shews that even the good works which we perform have come from God. Hence it follows, that we are nothing, except through the pure exercise of his kindness. Those men, on the other hand, infer that the half of our justification arises from works. But what has this to do with Paul’s intention, or with the subject which he handles? It is one thing to inquire in what righteousness consists, and another thing to follow up the doctrine, that it is not from ourselves, by this argument, that we have no right to claim good works as our own, but have been formed by the Spirit of God, through the grace of Christ, to all that is good. When Paul lays down the cause of justification, he dwells chiefly on this point, that our consciences will never enjoy peace till they rely on the propitiation for sins. Nothing of this sort is even alluded to in the present instance. His whole object is to prove, that,

“by the grace of God, we are all that we are.”
(1 Corinthians 15:10)

Which God hath prepared Beware of applying this, as the Pelagians do, to the instruction of the law; as if Paul’s meaning were, that God commands what is just, and lays down a proper rule of life. Instead of this, he follows up the doctrine which he had begun to illustrate, that salvation does not proceed from ourselves. He says, that, before we were born, the good works were prepared by God; meaning, that in our own strength we are not able to lead a holy life, but only so far as we are formed and adapted by the hand of God. Now, if the grace of God came before our performances, all ground of boasting has been taken away. Let us carefully observe the word prepared. On the simple ground of the order of events, Paul rests the proof that, with respect to good works, God owes us nothing. How so? Because they were drawn out of his treasures, in which they had long before been laid up; for whom he called, them he justifies and regenerates.

John 3:21
"But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God."

Ergazomai, wrought, is from the same root as deeds, ergon. Poieo is the word for practices and is synomynous with deeds. We can add to this that Ephesians begins with predestinational passages and while some would like to argue that it is just the "plan" that was predestined, this verse in John perfectly compliments the fact that the works, that is the fruits of salvation beginning to end, are formed by the potter
in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—

It is not known exactly where Jesus' words end and John's resume in Chapter 3. But, one thing is clear. The ones able to do the works of faith are only those who can perceive and understand and come into the light. To do that they must have been born from above and given new eyes, ch.1 v.5 & 12-13 c.f. ch.3 v.3. That is consistent, as it is written, everything that is not of faith is sin. And therefore, sin cannot choose in faith and faith cannot choose sin or it would be a contradiction of itself, just as much as it would for the darkness to comprehend the Light, or blindness to see it.

Indeed, as Calvin says, faith cannot will but to do that which it was created in God to do, practice righteousness. And it is not of us, but like all of the new creation, is a gift. It comes down from above, good and perfect. To claim it can do otherwise is to admit that faith can will unfaithfulness, and that is contrary to truth.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Forgetting Spurgeon all over again

In 1966 Iain H. Murray's book The Forgotten Spurgeon was published by the Banner of Truth Trust. On the back of the book the blurb reads:

"This book seeks to throw light on the reasons which have given rise to the superficial image of Spurgeon as a genial Victorian pulpiteer, a kind of grandfather of modern evangelicalism."

Murray's chapter titles are highly suggestive: 'Arminianism against Scripture', 'Arminianism and Evangelism' stand out in particular. What was forgotten about Spurgeon, Murray says, is his Calvinism. A modern, 'non-doctrinal' evangelicalism is uncomfortable with a man like Spurgeon, who believed a decided doctrine, and a doctrine that is so opposed to the man-centred theology of free-will, a theology that is quite acceptable to the natural man.

Yet Spurgeon is forgotten again. Modern free-willer Baptists, trying to shore up their ahistorical claims that their position is 'the Baptist position', claim Spurgeon for themselves, either ignorant of his true position or, what is worse, they know the truth and choose to pretend that the reverse is true. Yes, Spurgeon opposed hyper-calvinism, but he opposed it as a distortion of true Calvinism, which he held to be the teaching of the Bible.
Spurgeon's Gospel preaching presupposed two things - the total depravity and inability of human nature, and the sovereign power of God to work through the Word preached. That is to say, if Spurgeon called on his congregation and readers to repent and believe the Gospel, he did not call on them to do this because they had the ability to do so in themselves naturally, but because he believed the Holy Spirit was able to regenerate them (we know this statement will give free-willers all kinds of fits, but it happens to be true). Spurgeon liked to quote Dr. Isaac Watts:
Why was I made to hear thy voice,
And enter while there's room;
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?

'Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly forced me in;
Else I had still refused to taste,
And perished in my sin.

I hope that any free-willers were paying attention to those words. "But love doesn't force!" Really? The love of God, shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, does not compel us? You see, this is what effectual calling is, it is that God draws us, not by force (except poetically speaking), but by the sweet, strong and irresistible motions of His love. What, when the Holy Spirit teaches me that the Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me, can I do anything but fall at His feet in wonder, love and praise? No! as God says to His people: "I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee, "No man can come unto me unless the Father which hath sent me draw Him, and all that the FAther hath given me shall come unto me."

Again, I point back to 'All of Grace', Spurgeon's little Gospel presentation book. This is a book that is such a contrast to free-will preaching today that the reader will feel as if he has gone from marshmallow to 70% cocoa dark chocolate, it is so rich.
I have no objection to non-Calvinists quoting Spurgeon. I often quote John Wesley myself, and the only reason I was able to quote Adam Clarke in an earlier post is that I consult his commentary. But please, I would never dream of making Adam Clarke or either of the Wesleys Calvinists. Honour Calvin as I honour those men - don't pretend that he held a theology different from the one he really did hold.

Monday, April 21, 2008

'All of Grace'

Last week 'Peace and Truth', the magazine of the Sovereign Grace union, sent me the latest edition of Spurgeon's All of Grace to review for the next issue. This book is subtitled 'An earnest word with those seeking Salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ'. All I can say after intensively reading the book is "Wow!" It is the exact polar opposite to the sort of man-centred, free-will literature that so often masquerades as evangelistic in this present day and age. Where so much modern 'evangelistic' literature is the equivalent of candyfloss (that's cotton-candy in England), mostly air, with no subtance at all, All of Grace is like a bar of that 70% cocoa dark chocolate, incredibly rich! This is a book that is all substance!
It is very readable, though modern readers may find that reading a chapter gives them the same feelings as imbibing one of those chocolate bars - it makes you feel very full.
'All of Grace' gives the lie to those who say that Calvinism is not evangelistic. It is a whole book written for seekers - real seekers, not pleasure-seekers, or those seeking a palliative for the conviction of sin.
Chapter titles like 'God Justifieth the Ungodly', 'It is God that Justifieth', '\By Grace Through Faith', 'Why Repentance Must go with Forgiveness', and 'Why Saints Persevere', tell the reader all he or she needs to know. Spurgeon is serious about sin, about Christ and about faith.

Calvinists, read this book, find out how the Gospel can be preached to sinners without compromising the holiness of God and the inability of man. Ask yourself, can you present the Gospel like this?

Arminians, go and read this book. Ask yourself, is this book Biblical? Not, does it conform to my tradition? but, is it Biblical? I think you'll find that it is. Then ask yourself, how often have you heard this sort of preaching from any of your so-called evangelists?

Ministers, read this book, ask yourself, is my preaching like this? Is it centred upon Christ? Do I exalt God and abase man? Do I call upon sinners, as sinners, to come to Christ? Am I in earnest as Spurgeon was?

Unbelievers, read this book. This is the way of salvation made plain for you. If you feel your sin, Spurgeon will tell you how to get rid of it. Not how to hide it, to conceal it, but to get rid of it once and for all.

[Note: This review bears little resemblance to the one that will, God willing, appear in 'Grace and Truth'. All of Grace is published by Christian Focus ]

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Please Pray


I request your prayers. Today has been difficult. One of our former authors is especially in need of prayer at this time.

To readers from my church who are now visiting:

Please do not let the "Reformed Mafia" theme scare you. I assure you it's just a theme and meant to be humorous. Most people get the humor, but lately some folks have not.

Honestly, we're not really a mafia at all. We're just a bunch off Baptists from different backgrounds who love the Lord and love to study and discuss theology. This is our forum to discuss and write about things that we have grappled with in our Christian walk.

Above all, please examine the content of this blog with an open Bible and study the scriptures daily to see if these things are so.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

No Praise for Predestination

My wife recently said something that got my attention...

She noted that the Biblical doctrine of Predestination doesn't often invoke praise from the mouths of modern churchmen. Instead of embracing this truth and giving God praise for their unconditional election unto Salvation, the modern Christian will question God's goodness or even worse. I've even read a where a few very misguided individuals have even blasphemed their Creator by saying that such a doctrine, if correct, would make God "worse than the devil."

Thankfully, Paul takes no such view of God's sovereignty in election:

3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4. even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5. he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6. to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Eph 1:3-6 ESV) italics added

In light of the inspired writing of Paul, the Calvinist can affirm that God's sovereignty in salvation is a glorious doctrine. Indeed, I wouldn't even be a Christian were it not for God's sovereign Grace! Were it not for God first choosing me, I would've remained steadfast in my sinful obstinacy! I cannot boast in anything whatsoever because I did nothing to merit God's favor.

The truth is, no sinner who's ever came to Christ has done so unless God set His affection upon him/her before the foundation of the world. None of us can boast in any part of our salvation in light of this doctrine. And perhaps that's why so many refuse to praise God for predestination.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Head over to Galyon's Place...

...and have a look at his article on J.L. Dagg's teaching on Election.

(Especially if you're in the SBC and a non-Calvinist!)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Lord's Purpose for Absalom

"So Absalom and all the men of Israel said, "The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel." For the Lord had purposed to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the Lord might bring disaster upon Absalom." - 2 Samuel 17:14 (NKJV)

Some background: Absalom is trying to kill David, who has been forced to flee with a few of David's mighty men. Absalom is asking for advice about how to pursue him.

Ahithophel suggested leaving immediately with a relatively small force, while the trail was hot. Hushai thought it better to wait until all of Israel could be summoned to Absalom's aid, and then they could go looking for David, bullying people along the way to help them.

Ahithophel's advice was "good," not in a moral sense. It was good in the sense that it was simple and likely to succeed. Hushai's advice was less good in that it was logistically outlandish and strategically unnecessary.

So, Absalom the leader is confronted with a choice. One is more wise and likely to get him what he wants. The other is ridiculous. He chooses the ridiculous option.

Now, thou faithful student of the whole Bible, a few questions would be in order to make sure that you understand the ultimate reality of the situation, as recorded by the prophet.

What's the reason Absalom chose the rotten advice? (Look at the verse again before you answer, you cheater!) I mean, who's will was really behind his poor decision?

Is it really "possible" that he could've chosen differently?

Wouldn't that have foiled the plan of God?

In light of this text, in what way would you suggest that Absalom exercised an unfettered or libertarian free will?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Monkeying with the Bible

It never ceases to amaze me how the Arminians wriggle out of obviously Calvinistic passages of Scripture. Reading Dave Hunt's part of Debating Calvinism with James White is physically painful, and Steve Gregg's efforts on his radio debate with the said Dr. White caused a similar reaction.
But there is nothing new about this. Here is a section from Adam Clarke's Commentary on the New Testament that I found while preparing a sermon on 1 Thessalonians 5.9. "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by Our Lord Jesus Christ." Verse 10 goes on: "Who died for us, that, wheher we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him."

Verse 9. For God hath not appointed us to wrath
"So then it appears that some were appointed to wrath, ειςοργην, to punishment; on this subject there can be no dispute. But who are they? When did this appointment take place? And for what cause? These are supposed to be "very difficult questions, and such as cannot receive a satisfactory answer; and the whole must be referred to the sovereignty of God." If we look carefully at the apostle's words, we shall find all these difficulties vanish. It is very obvious that, in the preceding verses, the apostle refers simply to the destruction of the Jewish polity, and to the terrible judgments which were about to fall on the Jews as a nation; therefore, they are the people who were appointed to wrath; and they were thus appointed, not from eternity, nor from any indefinite or remote time, but from that time in which they utterly rejected the offers of salvation made to them by Jesus Christ and his apostles; the privileges of their election were still continued to them, even after they had crucified the Lord of glory; for, when he gave commandment to his disciples to go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature, he bade them begin at Jerusalem. They did so, and continued to offer salvation to them, till at last, being everywhere persecuted, and the whole nation appearing with one consent to reject the Gospel, the kingdom of God was wholly taken away from them, and the apostles turned to the Gentiles. Then God appointed them to wrath; and the cause of that appointment was their final and determined rejection of Christ and his Gospel. But even this appointment to wrath does not signify eternal damnation; nothing of the kind is intended in the word. Though we are sure that those who die in their sins can never see God, yet it is possible that many of those wretched Jews, during their calamities, and especially during the siege of their city, did turn unto the Lord who smote them, and found that salvation which he never denies to the sincere penitent.

"When the Jews were rejected, and appointed to wrath, then the Gentiles were elected, and appointed to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, whose Gospel they gladly received, and continue to prize; while the remnant of the Jews continue, in all places of their dispersion, the same irreconcilable and blasphemous opponents of the Gospel of Christ. On these accounts the election of the Gentiles and the reprobation of the Jews still continue."

Note how Clarke does not actually quote any Calvinists at all, but gives what may be seen as his summary of what Calvinists say: " These are supposed to be "very difficult questions, and such as cannot receive a satisfactory answer; and the whole must be referred to the sovereignty of God."
Ah, but, Clarke replies: "If we look carefully at the apostle's words, we shall find all these difficulties vanish."
What is his solution? Very simple, it is the Jews who were appointed to wrath, and the Gentiles to salvation. Really? Dr. Clarke, Paul says 'US', not 'YOU'. What was Paul, Jew or Gentile? Was he not "an Hebrew of the Hebrews", an Israelite? Therefore he CANNOT have in mind a distinction between Jew and Gentile in this passage. In any case, as Paul says in Romans 11, "God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew" (in passing we have to ask how the Arminian fiction of prescient election applies to Israel). The trouble is that Clarke has an Arminian presupposition operating here. He has already concluded that election is always of nations to privilege, so that he takes this verse as saying that the Jews have been appointed to wrath (i.e. AD70), while the Gentiles have been appointed to what? To the possibility of obtaining salvation! But there is nothing here about possibility, it is a real obtaining of salvation. Verse 10 makes it clear that those for whom Christ died (only Gentiles, Dr. Clarke? But that is the implication of his remarks on verse 9!) will certainly live with him. This is not about possibilities, it is about realities and certainties.

This is not some way-out free-will preacher (although some of Clarke's ideas are a little far-out, most notably his belief that the serpent in Genesis 3 was an orangutan, hence the pictures on this post), it is one of the most respected and used Arminian commentaries in existence. Yet the best Clarke can do here is to try to say that elction is of nations to privilege, a common Arminian dodge, popular with Dave hunt in the present day (though Adam Clarke knew Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Persian, and about a dozen other languages, while Dave Hunt does not). This is not the only passage in the Thessalonian epistles that Clarke uses this method of eisegesis on. In his comment on 2 Thessalonians 2.13 Dr. Clarke maintains that 'God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation' actually means:

" In your calling God has shown the purpose He had formed from the beginning, to call the Gentiles to the same privileges with the Jews."
Really? is that all Paul is saying, that he gives thanks for the Gentiles because God has appointed a plan of Salvation for them? Or that he gives thanks for the Thessalonian Church because God has chosen to save them?

Well, Adam Clarke still has some supporters here, but for myself, I think this is blatant Arminian eisegesis. Not to mention monkeying with Scripture.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

For Exploration of the Issues

Some of our readers may be at the stage of only beginning to explore the issues of Calvinism. If this is you, may I recommend the following list of texts, and what they may have to teach us about the origins of faith and repentance. These are in addition to a few entire chapters of the Bible (Romans 9-11 and Ephesians 1) that lay out the doctrine of Election.

My desire is that you would use these texts as launching points for your study and exploration of these issues. Please do not ignore their contexts, either! Take your time through these, maybe print them off and keep them in your Bible for handy reference.

Where does Faith come from?

Ephesians 2:8; 2 Peter 1:1; Luke 17:5; 1 Timothy 1:14; Romans 10:17 and 12:3; Acts 14:27; 2 Timothy 3:15; Galatians 3:22-23; James 2:5; Acts 3:16; Hebrews 12:2; 1 John 5:4

**** In addition, are all men given this gift? See 2 Thessalonians 3:2****

Where does Repentance come from?

Acts 5:31 and 11:18; Romans 2:4; 2 Timothy 2:25; Psalm 80:3, 7, and 19; 1 Samuel 2:25

Where does Belief come from?

John 6:45 and 12:39-40; Romans 6:17 and 11:30; 1 Corinthians 3:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-13; Acts 13:48; Deuteronomy 29:4 and 30:6; Philippians 1:29

What is the ultimate source of Gospel obedience?

1 Peter 1:2 and 2:8; Jude v.4; Psalm 65:4; 2 Thessalonians 3:13; 2 Peter 1:3; John 15:16, 19

Does God hate anyone?

Psalm 5:5 and 10:3 and 11:5; Proverbs 6:16-19; Romans 9:10-16

Does God actively blind or harden anyone, so that they will not receive the Gospel?

Isaiah 44:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:11; Matthew 13:10-16; Romans 9:18 and 11:7-10

As a note of caution: Let me stress that the goal in our study of Scripture is not that we should amass a load of proof-texts in the hopes of countering or cancelling out the proof-texts on the other guy's side of the debate. Our goal is to harmonize all of Scripture, and my personal experience was that before I became a Calvinist, I lightly skimmed over all the references I have given above. It's not that there were just as many references that proved Arminianism, but it's that I simply ignored whatever did not seem to fit.

You have to allow your theology to "fit" all these verses! They're inspired too! :)

Please Welcome: The Highland Host!

I am very excited to announce a new addition to the Reformed Mafia. Coming to us from "across the pond" in the United Kingdom is the formidable "Highland Host!"

If you're not acquainted with him already, please take some time to visit his profile and look at his work on his other blogs. His 13 part series on Nelson Price's misrepresentations of John Calvin is awesome.

The Host has a unique writing style and I'm honored to have him as a part of the Reformed Mafia!

Welcome aboard brother!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Back By Popular Demand

In case you've been wondering where we've been, one of the fellows set the blog to private over the weekend because of some issues that came up. I just switched it back to public view. Don't panic, we're still here!

Let's just say that the past few days have been very rough for the members of the Reformed Mafia. I have a special message on my blog for some of our newer readers. Please take time to read it.

We at the Reformed Mafia covet your prayers.

The mission continues...

[Late Edit: I just changed the title of this post to "Back by Popular Demand" because we've gotten emails from both our Calvinist and Arminian friends asking what happened to the blog and letting us know they're praying for us. I thank you all for your concern and prayers. ]

(Photo: Luther at the Diet of Worms)