Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Image of God In Herschel Hobbs

There is no such thing as "the Baptist faith" or "the historic Baptist faith." These phrases imply a creedal faith, something which Baptists have always 10.

Baptists always have been creedal. As James A. Smith says:

Either the opponents are unaware of Baptist history or they willfully misrepresent our history. In either case, the historical record on this matter is clear and convincing: Baptists are creedal, and we have used confessions of faith as doctrinal measuring tools in employing our denominational servants.
One might ask why Hobbs would make this gaffe. Further, Elmer L. Towns infers that a vote could be taken which would force Calvinists from the fold of the SBC. Which is the same as saying that a vote could be taken forcing Southern Baptists to adhere to the approved creed as interpreted by the party policy police.

My series on the image of God in man and the fall was intended to lead us to this point: Was Herschel Hobbs wrong and did error lead millions of Southern Baptists into the morass of doctrinal ignorance? Well, he was wrong about the Baptists not being a creedal people so there might just be some reason to doubt the dependability of other things he said concerning the faith. My last insertion of conspiracy data indicated that Hx3 was a Freemason. That leads us to even greater speculation as to his ability to discern truth. Whether he was or not a Mason, I will let others confirm. I insinuated that the dualism of Masonic teachings is similar to Hobbs.

I will be quoting out of the 1971 edition of The Baptist Faith and Message which is a commentary on the 1963 BFM, published by Convention Press, Nashville Tennessee, and authored by Herschel H. Hobbs. There have been revisions, but as of now I do not have access to them. If anyone sees where what I quote has been corrected in later editions, please inform me. If anyone has a link to online editions, it would be greatly appreciated.

This commentary was widely distributed and studied. My copy came from my former Adult Sunday School teacher and Senior Deacon who also left the SBC church from which I self-expelled. Just how many over the past half-century were affected by the doctrine contained in it is unsearchable. But, I know this for a fact: adults with whom I interacted in Sunday School and elsewhere, believed as Herschel taught. A half century before this commentary was published, Hx3's theology was the prominent influential teaching base of the SBC. In total, nearly a century worth of Southern Baptists have been indoctrinated into the Hobbsian paradigm. It should be no wonder then that the Founders' doctrines appear an intrusion into the SBC. Let's then examine The Image of God In Herschel Hobbs.

Hx3 quotes on page 17 of his commentary "It is the purpose of this statement of faith and message to set for certain teachings which we believe" from the 1963 BFM introduction, setting it up as definitional and his own commentary on it as definitional of what it means to be both Christian and Baptist. Of God's omniscience he says:
God has all knowledge. He knows all things simultaneously...immediate...does not necessarily mean that he predetermined them...
Of omnipotence:
The only limits to his power are self-imposed...cannot lie or act contrary to his...laws...
Of miracles:
...acts of God contrary to man's knowledge of natural law, but not contrary to God's knowledge of such...
pg 36-37. Hobbs completes this thought in his section on God's purpose of Grace:
In the abstract, God's sovereignty means that he can act as he will without any outside counsel of permission. But in the concrete, as taught in the Bible, God has placed certain limitations upon himself. In that sense his sovereignty must be viewd as his power to act as he wills in keeping with his own laws and according to his naure as righteousness and love, pg. 66.
Hobb's had said earlier that Deut. 6:4 denies dualism, pg. 37.

What can be noted here is that even though Hx3 denies dualism, by stating that God has erected a set of laws that he obeys he has set up a dualism within God that is no different than dualism. More precisely, God, according to this scheme has set laws and has subjugated himself to them such that they are actually outside of God as a god to whom he must give account. This I suppose was necessary for Hobbs to be able to express the image of God in man who has choice. Dualism can also be formulated as alternatives. But, free-choice as was held by Hobbs means more than just alternatives, for law speaks of that which can be violated. Thus, for Hobbs, God's freedom includes the freedom of contrary choice. It is this way: God could choose to violate his own laws but does not because of his nature. However, if it is indeed the case that God has LFW then he could. And in fact, if LFW in God is true, it must be true in all cases. As the perfection of perfections, the infinite goodness of God's nature extends to every aspect of his being. If a choice of God could be made contrary to the infinitude of his goodness, it would be less than that goodness, and consequently other than God. Therefore, laws which might be violated even though erected by God establishes another other than God to which God is subject- a god outside of God. The final analysis is that God making laws to govern himself is contrary to his infinite nature, which is good. Another way to look at this is to say that God has the power of contemplation of alternative choice which includes the ability to conceive of himself as violating the greatest good choice by opting for the lesser. The power of contrary choice in God then would necessitate an inherent ability to contradict himself. That is to say, that God is both good and evil essentially; yin and yang.

Do I actually think that Herschel thought of God having the power of contrary choice? We'll have to see next time as we examine more closely Hx3 view of the image of God in man.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Top Ten Small-Church Pastor Challenges (part one)

Lifeway has done some research lately on the particular issues faced by small-church pastors. This article at Ed Stetzer’s blog reproduces the information that recently appeared in my State’s Baptist newspaper. It lists the Top 10 Challenges that were reported by pastors of smaller SBC congregations.

I’m going to list the ten below and intersperse my comments, as a bivocational pastor of a small, rural SBC church.

1. Time.

There’s never enough of it. I’m sure this is true of all pastors, but it is particularly true for small-church pastors. There aren’t enough hours in the day. (You should hear a little whiny tone as you read the following sentence…) It is even more true for bivocational pastors.

It’s become fashionable and accepted as an axiom among exegetically-minded preachers that you should do one hour of sermon preparation for every minute you intend to preach. I generally shoot for about 30 minutes on a Sunday morning. (I know, that makes me a light-weight to all you hardcore Reformed giants out there.) But then on Sunday evenings, it’s generally closer to 40 minutes or so.

If I’m to follow the axiom here, that adds up to 70 hours worth of sermon prep time during the week, on top of 40 at my “day job,” on top of hoping to be a decent husband and father before all of that.

It’s the first time I’ve actually sat down and put numbers on it, but I’ve got to tell you, now I understand why I’m so sleepy all the time.

To be honest, I’m just an average middle-aged guy, fighting Dunlop’s Disease and watching my hair go away, and I simply can’t do all of that, not all the time. So what gets trimmed back? What suffers, time-wise? Well, sadly, all of it, except my day job, which can demand time and threaten consequences for not meeting the demand.

I don’t spend the time with my family that I’d like to spend. I don’t get enough hours of sleep every night. I don’t get enough “alone” time where it’s just me and the Lord. I don’t get enough book-time in sermon prep. I hardly do any visitation at all. I don’t get enough exercise. Yikes. What I do get is exhausted. Got plenty o’ that, thanks.

That’s the first of the ten challenges, and even as I write about it, I anticipate two responses:

1. If it’s so tough, then quit.

Answer: I’m not doing this because I want to. I’m doing this because I have to. I’m doing this because I’m commanded to. My Lord requires it. All my time is His.

2. If you know you’ve been called to it, then stop whining about it and get to work.

Answer: This hasn’t been intended as a complaint piece. I’ve tried to be humorous as I’ve discussed very real challenges. By doing so, I’m hoping to accomplish two things. One, that my fellow pastors would know they aren’t alone or strange in what they’re experiencing. And two, that we would all be reminded to pray earnestly for those who are our shepherds. They/we/I need it.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Looking for a Theological Term?

You might want to try these online resources:

Calvinist Dictonary

Arminian Dictonary

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Conspiring Theories Breathe The Same Air And Inflame Passion

Having survived a near death experience hole free though a little singed I received another communication from a rat,

not a mole, but a rodent nonetheless. The information is disturbing and will serve as an appetizer to a review of the subterranean message of the commentary on The Baptist Faith and Message penned by Hx3.

I don't want to fan the flames and spread the fire of conspiracy or nuttin, but it is curious, is it not, that the dualism aspect of Hx3's theology is all so central to this mystical group?

Speaking of the Secret Nine

why is this pamphlet no longer listed as available from the NAMB? Or, is it?

The following is not supported by any evidence, but, just suppose that the CP can be found in this symbol:

Note the handshake, universal symbol of cooperative agents, and what if CP is really code for covert police, hmmmm?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Give the Lord no Rest

As a pastor whose soteriology is solidly Reformed, I rejoice that I can evangelize without the "pressure" of having to convert anyone. With a view of the Gospel that rightly emphasizes God's sovereignty, a "successful witnessing encounter" is one in which I was able, by grace, to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ clearly. Period. Making someone convert is not my job. That is a spiritual work that only the Spirit of God can perform. I just preach. Wow, y'know, honestly that really narrows the task down to something manageable.

But here's the rub: I still earnestly desire to see conversions. I still long to see people come to Christ in repentant faith.

Let's just be honest: I get sick of merely "planting seeds" and hoping that someday, by and by, I'll see some actual fruit.

Thus the emotional dilemma for the evangelistically-minded man: I know salvation is up to the Lord; but I am impatient to see it happen.

Now, the common way in which I and my fellow Reformed pastors have comforted ourselves and one another as we encounter this dilemma, is to say that we must turn our impatience into submission and contentment. After all, that sort of willful acquiescence to the Lord's will seems quite Biblical, and Reformed. Right?

Well, the famous giant of Christian history, George Muller, says no. Consider this quote from a preacher and pastor who knew more than we ever will about living by faith alone.

The Bible assures us that in everything we do for the Lord...our labor is not in vain. We have to guard against thinking that it does not matter whether we see present fruit or not. On the contrary, we should give the Lord no rest until we see fruit. Therefore, in persevering yet submissive prayer, we should make our requests known to God. (From his autobiography, emphasis mine.)

Muller would suggest that the line of thought we are using to comfort ourselves in our fruitlessness is the very thing we need to vigilantly struggle against. It does matter, what fruit we bear, what things happen as a result of our ministries. If none are being converted, or if we are not being persecuted as our Lord promised we would be if only we were faithful, there can be only one answer.

Let us commit ourselves to fervent, persistent, and as Muller says, still submissive prayer.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

On Tolerance

What is tolerance? When I was a great deal younger, it meant putting up with what you yourself did not actually agree with. For example, you tolerated the neighbour's dog barking at all hours. Or you tolerated the Monkey-Puzzle tree in the neighbours' front garden. That was tolerance. In theological circles it means that we put up with opinions with which we do not agree, in wider circles it means that we believe in religious freedom for the Unitarians, Swedenborgians and so forth.

The post-modern idea of tolerance is different. It means that you are expected to hold that all truth-claims are equally valid. So long as you hold to this, you are yourself 'tolerated'. In other words, postmodern tolerance is conditional on yourself being postmodern. Otherwise you are intolerant, and therefore not to be tolerated.

This is in fact a word-game on the level of those of Orwell's 1984. Instead of being expressly about those with whom we disagree, tolerance now refers to those with whom we in fact agree. But Hitler himself 'tolerated' those who agreed with him. Every totalitarian who is not completely insane grants freedom to those with whom he agrees. So we have gained nothing and lost much by the redefinition of tolerance.

What we plead for is the right to be wrong. THAT is tolerance, everything else is an imitation, Satan masquerading as an angel of light. Otherwise we have committed intellectual suicide and destroyed our very reason for existence.

Brothers, let us reclaim the true meaning of tolerance, before its new definition is usd to wipe us out!

Watch this

If you've never encountered the writer called Turretinfan in the blog world, you are in for a treat. This guy is a judicious writer, a careful scholar, and a wonderfully capable apologist. Don't tell him I said so, as I don't wish to be guilty of flattery...

Anyway, starting June 1, Turretinfan is going to enter into a pretty formal debate (by blog standards anyway) with a Catholic apologist on the topic of Sola Scriptura.

They've agreed to a pretty ambitious and rigorous schedule which will have them writing and posting at particular times until the end of this year, Lord willing.

Both sides of the debate will be posted at both their blogs. Here is a link to Turretinfan's blog. Do yourself a favor and visit often between now and June 1, because there is a lot to learn over there. Then strap yourself in and plan on following the debate.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Reading Level of the Reformed Mafia

Look how smart we are!!

blog readability test

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Waz Up?

In the first two parts of this discussion of man we have looked at the creation and at God and God's crowning glory, man.

Don Carson calls the effects of the fall the Great Inversion. (mp3 Download)

The fall positions man in the death of Adam as man who wants what is good for all the wrong reasons.

R.L. Dabney gives us a clue as to the first reality of sin: unbelief.

Unbelief Its First Element. The sin of Adam consisted essentially, not in his bodily act, of course; but in his intentions. Papal theologians usually say that the first element of the sin of his heart was pride, as being awakened by the taunting reference of the Serpent to his dependence and subjection, and as being not unnatural in so exalted a being. The Protestants, with Turrettin, usually say it was unbelief; because pride could not be naturally suggested to the creature’s soul, unless unbelief had gone before to obliterate his recollection of his proper relations to an infinite God; because belief of the mind usually dictates feeling and action in the will; because the temptation seems first aimed (Gen. 3:1) to produce unbelief, through the creature’s heedlessness; and because the initial element of error must have been in the understanding, the will being hitherto holy.
What follows is the antithesis of God's intent.

The purpose of the crucifixion was to take this great reversal and reverse it. It is therefore important to look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith to understand more fully just what happened in the fall. Jesus is the exact image of the invisible God, and it is into Jesus' image that we are being conformed. Then what it was that is displayed in Christ's life and then the crucifixion encompasses all that man was meant to be, and all that happened to the image of God in which man was created.

While the mute creation downward bend
Their sight, and to their earthly mother tend,
Man looks aloft, and with erected eyes,
Beholds his own hereditary skies. (JC's Institutes )

Calvin gives us this as the image of man created, and here I use it in contrast. We get a pericope of this in the humiliation of Nebuchadnezzar. The pattern is set; when man makes himself the image of God, a reversal of roles, then God visits upon man the condecension and man becomes the image of his creation. Instead of looking up to the glory of God in whose image man was created, he assumes the posture of the lesser, on all fours; that pattern repeated until what remains is utterly comsumed by self-passion; man turns inward loving himself and committing acts of self love, homosexual, producing no life, receiving in himself the due penalty for sin.

Christ takes upon himself this image that man has created.

No reproduction of the reality ever captures the reality. Even this version has vain worth in transmitting it.

Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind— so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand. Isaiah 52:13-15

It is not so much what the fall did to man, as it is what it did to God. This is the great tragedy of the fall, that the glory of God was defaced, marred beyond recognition, and man in sinning was made into that image, an image that in the original was the perfection of perfections of righteousness. But now, that image is the perfection of perfections of evil.

I have not touched upon exactly what was marred, that is like trying to understand exactly what image and likeness mean. If you take the time to read or listen to the links, you will see that the image of God remains, but something has fundamentally changed and that change is systemic.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Some Money Matters

The bad economy effects everybody, even wiseguys. Here's a helpful article on what a "made man" can do to protect his finances.

ht: Mike H.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Paedobaptist Guest Article

By the power vested in me as a founding Don of the Reformed Mafia, I hereby dub R.C. Sproul Jr. an honorary member of the Reformed Mafia for the duration of this post. With that, I want to share an article Sproul Jr. has written. It was sent out via email from the Highlands Study Center last month. I hope it is edifying as well as thought provoking. [Edit: the article was written in response to a question from which the title cof the piece also comes.]

(Not to worry, after this post, we shall remain a solidly credobaptist blog! -RK)

"Do Arminians go to Heaven when they Die?"
by Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr.

From one perspective, to even ask this question seems almost ghastly. From another perspective, asking this question seems like surrender. On the one hand, no one believes in justification by having all our theological ducks in a row. On the other hand, many of our fathers saw the divide between Arminian theology and Calvinistic theology as a decisive one. We want to honor our brothers if they are our brothers, and we want to honor our fathers, if they are right on this issue. Better still, we want to be true to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

My own earthly father has been known to answer this question this way- Arminians are Christians, barely. What he is getting at, one should not be surprised, is wisdom. First, the problem. Why would we even have to ask? The difficulty is two-fold. First, we are blessed with the atoning work of Christ when we repent for our sins, and trust in His finished work on our behalf. How much of our sin must we repent for? All of it. In the Arminian scheme there remains in man a part of him that is still righteous, that part out of which comes his ability to choose the good as it is offered in the gospel. The Arminian is not, according to his theology, fully repentant. Second, we must trust in the finished work of Christ alone. In the Arminian schema, he trusts a great deal in the finished work of Christ, but trusts some in his own ability to choose the good. If a man believes that God does 99% of the saving, and man 1%, then that man is not truly saved. The Galatian heresy is dealing with just this issue. These were people who believed that Christ’s life, death and resurrection, combined with obedience to the ceremonial law, brings one peace with God. Such a belief will not bring you the work of Christ. It will only bring His judgment.

So they don’t make it, right? Well, have any of us repented fully for all our sins? Of course we say we repent for all our sins, but have we truly? Do we know all our sins? Is it not because of our sin that we look at some of our sins as virtues, that which should be praised rather than condemned? Ought we not, after seeking to enter more fully into our sin, after living in sackcloth and ashes, should we not then repent for our repentance? Won’t we all come woefully short of full repentance on this side of the veil? Did not Jesus die for sins such as these?

In like manner, it is one thing to articulate a doctrine of justification wherein we are utterly dependent on the work of Christ. It is altogether another to actually trust fully in that work. I would suggest that heaven is full of Calvinists who affirmed with great vigor sola fide, but who in the dark recesses of their hearts, subconsciously, believed that God was pleased with them because of their fervor for sola fide, or because of their fidelity in keeping their quiet times, or their passion for honoring the Sabbath. We are all Pelagians at heart, even those of us who are dyed-in-the-wool Calvinists.

The long and the short of it is that no human is fully consistent with respect to his saying and his doing. No human being is even consistent within his saying. The Arminian says at the same time and in the same relationship, “It’s all Jesus” and “It’s mostly Jesus and partly me.” They are inconsistent, self-contradictory. In the end, those who most fully believe it’s all Jesus will be with Him forever. Those who more fully believe it’s Jesus and them will hear Him say, “Depart from me I never knew you.” To put it another way, we are justified by trusting in the finished work of Christ alone, not by articulating a doctrine of justification by faith alone. We too, we Calvinists that is, make it into heaven by a happy inconsistency. That is, we all have error in our thinking. And every error contradicts what is true. Were we to adjust the true things we believed to make them consistent with the false things we believe, we would all end up in damnable heresy.

We have to affirm, at the same time, that Jesus came to save sinners, but not all sinners. He will save those sinners to whom His Spirit gives the gift of faith. That will include those who don’t know where the gift came from, as long as they actually have the gift. We ought also to remember that if we are right on this issue, if Calvinism is true and Arminianism false, we are right by the grace of God, not our own wisdom. What do we have that was not first given to us?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Surprised at the Reformed Resurgence?

If you do not know by now, the doctrines of grace (a.k.a Calvinism), is on a resurgence among young evangelicals. Many may be surprised that the theology that many great men of faith professed, the greatest reformers, puritans, and evangelists, and the founders of the Southern Baptist Convention professed, is having an appeal to young minds everywhere. Are you surprised? Well you shouldn't be. I have met many young Calvinists and the stories are the same. They knew something was missing. They knew what they had was not enough. They looked around in churches, and in their culture, and neither was giving them the answers they were seeking. So they turned to the scriptures, and to their surprise they discover that God, not man, is Sovereign. They discover that it is God who decides enters his courts. They realize that God has chosen a people for himself before the foundation of the world. It is at this point the young evangelicals begin to ask questions. They have all kinds of questions. They may talk to their pastor, but they begin researching, and begin to find out that the great men of faith held to these doctrines. These men, who believed the doctrines of grace, were the most faithful preachers of the gospel, and most passionate soul winners. Observing their Christianity, and their exposition of the scriptures, and seeing the pragmatic, postmodern, pathetic fluff that poses itself as Christianity today, it is no wonder why young minds are falling in love with these theological truths. It is substance. It is a truth that exalts God and humbles man. It is a truth that drives and motivates their evangelism when understood correctly. Don't be surprised by the reformed resurgence, but rather, be prepared for it. Many in your church may be Calvinists, many in your neighborhood may be Calvinists, you might even have Calvinists in your family. The resurgence is coming. Calvinism is making a comeback. Calvinism is having its struggles right now, especially in the SBC, but in ten to twenty years, the SBC will be predominately reformed. Just wait. The resurgence is coming!!

I recommend two books to you:

By His Grace and For His Glory by Tom Nettles. This book is a book that records the history of the doctrines of grace in Baptist Life.

ng, Restless, and Reformed by Collin Hansen. This book is a book about the reformed resurgence. Collin interviews pastors, students, and others across the nation who are embracing the doctrines of grace and this book is a great treatment of the rise of reformed theology among the young minds in today's church.

*With these two books, you can see where we came from, and where we are returning.

2008 T4G Sermons

Perhaps many of you are already aware of this, but the sermons from the 2008 Together for the Gospel Conference have been made available free of charge here at the T4G website.

This series of messages shall hereby be considered mandatory listening material for those of you who are aiding and abetting the Reformed Mafia!


Friday, May 9, 2008

The Long Nineticles of Doom

This was left at my door, on the back was this:

Of course you recognize the symbol of the Sacred (Secret) Nine. I am concerned about the diagram. It appears there may be counter-intelligence afoot. If you see this man around, be aware, he is Sicilian. Perhaps a....what's that... shh... better run now...

The Secret Nine Exposed!!

At great personal risk, one of our operatives has come into possession of the following document, apparently written with a quill dipped in blood (eeee-ooooooo, gross.)


Minutes of the regular meeting of the Secret Nine

Roll Call: Mossad Agent Menachem, Jesuit Representative Gustav, KKK Local Chair Hank T., Illuminati Jim, Trilateral Commissioner Starks, The Oprah, Sheik Abdul, Ryan Seacrest, and FBC Deacon Hope.

Chairman Illuminati Jim called the meeting to order at 7:30. Meeting held in the secret back chamber of IHOP, in an undisclosed town in Georgia.

Opening prayer to Ja-Bul-Lan led by Deacon Hope. Refreshments brought by Gustav, which nobody would eat…again.

Old Business:

Hank T. reported that the Information Committee is continuing its Truth Campaign against two local ministers. Latest rumors include the accusation that pictures of naked men are posted at their website.

TLC Starks reported that the Free Speech Committee has been unsuccessful in shutting down The Reformed Mafia blog.

Not only that, but the RM has added three new members since Operation Sovereign Grace began at the local First Baptist Church. The latest one, we have no information about. He’s just called The Mole. After much discussion about the Mole’s identity, Deacon Hope assured the Nine that this cannot possibly be a member of the FBC in question.

Abdul noted that the minor rebellion at a particular FBC church in town has been effectively crushed. Everyone else seems to be falling in line as expected.

New Business

Erratic behavior has been noted at the accursed Incrediblog. The motif was recently changed, from some dopey super-hero thing, to Star Trek, and now it has apparently changed again. No action was taken, as the consensus is that the author of that blog is insane and harmless.

Also, a recent Reformed Mafia post managed to bring in traffic from several other authors of offensive and dangerous websites. The Oprah will use her considerable resources to track all of these down and ensure their silence.

Ryan unveiled plans to cause a new tsunami off the coast of the Philipines this coming July. Unanimously approved.

Meeting adjourned. Next meeting will be at Hank’s house, where we will BBQ.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Misunderstanding Calvinists

Throughout the centuries, Calvinists have been misunderstood, misread, misinterpreted. It happened in history, it happens today, and it will continue to happen as long as sinful people live in a fallen world. As Calvinists, we should probably get used to the things said about us, but to those who are not Calvinists, we desire that you try to learn what we really believe. Just because we believe in predestination, doesn't mean we think repentance and believing in Jesus is a waste of time. In fact, we believe the opposite. If one does not repent and believe, he will not be saved, evidence that he or she was never among the elect of God. Scripture teaches this. We aren't a bunch of people who think evangelism is a waste of time. In fact, again, it is the exact opposite. We believe that God ordains all things, including the means of conversion. God ordained that it is through repenting and believing one is saved, and he has also ordained that the preached word is the means of converting a sinner. Evangelism is a high priority for the consistent Calvinist.

In history, the great man John Gill was accused of so many things. Gill was accused of being a Hyper Calvinist and an Antinomian. Gill once said:

The harvest is great and the painful ministers are few. There are scarcely any that naturally care for the estate and souls of men, and who are heartily concerned for their spiritual welfare; all comparatively seek their own things, their honor and applause from men, their ease, reputation, and riches; and none or few the things that are Jesus Christ's, or which relate to his honor, glory, kingdom, and interest in the world.

Gill was passionate about evangelism and lamented the fact that so many ministers are not! Yet people have taken some things Gill said out of context and made him out to look like a monster. Well folks, he isn't a bad guy. Gill was a great theologian and a passionate evangelist. The church may do well in his concern for peoples eternal state. Yet for some reason people always will think Calvinism kills evangelism.....

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Reformed Gangsta Rap?

I am sorry, but Beretta has to be exposed! He actually posted the following. The man has no shame!

I'll probably get banned for even reporting stuff like this.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Is This a Challenge to Your View?

This is a new thing I'm doing here. I'm posting a guest post. What follows was written by "Martin," who showed up at the Reformed Mafia recently, apparently concerned that we were not preaching the most faithful Calvinism in the world. Our initial interaction with Martin was a little rocky, but I think we've worked that part out. I invited him to supply me with a statement of his belief regarding the doctrine of Limited Atonement, and said I might then post it and use it to get a discussion started. That's what I'm doing here.

For readability, I'm knocking off the first two paragraphs, where Martin took some time to stress that this is not meant as a detailed defense of his view, but only a summary of it. He also stresses that he wants to remain teachable on this.

So, you Reformed folk out there, read this and see if it raises any hackles for you.

Briefly, what I believe is that: Jesus’ redemptive work was primarily for the elect but secondarily for the non-elect. I believe God’s intent was to make salvation certain for the former and possible for the latter, effectively to remove all excuse. Whosoever will may come, but only the elect will do so. We are to hold out the word of life to all men but their refusal to come is their own fault not due to lack of provision (see Cannons of Dort). The sufficiency of this provision, is not hypothetical, as Owen argued but real. Though Christ’s death and resurrection had special reference for the elect it was not exclusively for the elect.

A few scriptures in support:
God so loved the world (i.e wicked, apostate humanity not just the elect) that He gave His only Son (who was lifted up on the cross so) that whoever believes in Him may have everlasting life. (John 3:15-16)The ‘whoever believes’ is manifestly a sub-set of the world.

Jesus is “The lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. (John 1:29)I think John’s usage of ‘world’, as in ch.3 is sinful, apostate humanity not a euphemism for the elect.

and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Cor 5:15). Those who live are manifestly a subset of those for whom He died.

Jesus “gave himself as a ransom for all” (1 Tim 2:1-6)

God “is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” (1 Tim 4:10)

Jesus “tasted death for everyone” (Heb 2:9)

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)

In essence, I can read these scriptures according to their most natural reading, without having to re-interpret them through a limited atonement grid, and yet, at the same time, without undermining the glorious doctrines of predestination and election. However, in coming from a strict particularist position, I do admit it took a while to get my head round how that could be so. Aside from the questionable presuppositions that had to be rooted out, I had to get a better understanding of what scripture teaches about a number of related matters. Anyway, hopefully that is enough to whet the appetite for further exploration!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

God is so...

  1. THERE is but one, and only one, living and true God. He is self-existent and infinite in His being and His perfections. None but He can comprehend or understand His essence. He is pure spirit, invisible, and without body, parts, or the changeable feelings of men. He alone possesses immortality, and dwells amid the light insufferably bright to mortal men. He never changes. He is great beyond all our conceptions, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty and infinite. He is most holy, wise, free and absolute. All that He does is the out-working of His changeless, righteous will, and for His own glory. He is most loving, gracious, merciful and compassionate. He abounds in goodness and truth. He forgives iniquity, transgression and sin. He rewards those who seek Him diligently. But He hates sin. He will not overlook guilt or spare the guilty, and He is perfectly just in executing judgment.

    Gen. 17:1; Exod. 3:14; 34:6,7; Deut. 4:15,16; 6:4; 1 Kings 8:27; Neh.9:32,33; Ps. 5:5,6; 90:2; 115:3; Prov. 16:4; Isa. 6:3; 46:10; 48:12; Jer. 10:10; 23:23,24; Nah. 1:2,3; Mal. 3:6; John 4:24; Rom.11:36; 1 Cor. 8:4,6; 1 Tim.1:17; Heb. 11:6.

  2. God is all-sufficient, and all life, glory, goodness and blessedness are found in Him and in Him alone. He does not stand in need of any of the creatures that He has made, nor does He derive any part of His glory from them. On the contrary, He manifests His own glory in and by them. He is the fountain-head of all being, and the origin, channel and end of all things. Over all His creatures He is sovereign. He uses them as He pleases, and does for them or to them all that He wills. His sight penetrates to the heart of all things. His knowledge is infinite and infallible. No single thing is to Him at risk or uncertain, for He is not dependent upon created things. In all His decisions, doings and demands He is most holy. Angels and men owe to Him as their creator all worship, service and obedience, and whatever else He may require at their hands.

    Job 22:2,3; Ps. 119:68; 145:17; 148:13; Ezek.11:5; Dan. 4:25,34,35; John 5:26; Acts 15:18; Rom. 11:34-36; Heb. 4:13; Rev. 5:12-14.

  3. Three divine Persons constitute the Godhead-the Father, the Son (or the Word), and the Holy Spirit. They are one in substance, in power, and in eternity. Each is fully God, and yet the Godhead is one and indivisible. The Father owes His being to none. He is Father to the Son who is eternally begotten of Him. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. These Persons, one infinite and eternal God not to be divided in being, are distinguished in Scripture by their personal nature or in relations within the Godhead, and by the variety of works which they undertake. Their tri-unity (that is, the doctrine of the Trinity) is the essential basis of all our fellowship with God, and of the comfort we derive from our dependence upon Him.

    Exod. 3:14; Matt. 28:19; John 1:14,18; 14:11; 15:26; 1 Cor. 8:6; 2 Cor. 13:14; Gal. 4:6; 1 John 5:7.

If God is infinite in all his perfections then the finite is swallowed up in perfection. Moses, Moses what did you see? Only the hind parts, only a little?

As I write we are having a kind of storm that I have only known here in Wyoming. I call it snail with lightening and thunder but we also have slain storms with flashes and booms. Snail is snow and hail mixed while slain is snow, hail and rain. It is weird here, truly, and its not just the people. I've seen it rain across the street while basking in sun and have been rained on with a clear blue ski above. A few nights back there was not a cloud in the sky and it was snowing. Honestly. My boy and I were amazed to watch the snow flakes forming before our eyes. I have been in the Snowy Range in eighty degree weather, watched a cloud come over Long Lake and within an hour experienced every kind of precipitation imaginable, rain, hail, snow, Styrofoam snow (strange stuff; comes in all sizes), fog, sleet, with incredible lightening and wind and then watched the sun come back out to greet me with eighty degree temps again.

None of this wonder compares to the greatness of our God. Look at the description in the confession. Perfections, infinite perfections, that just bakes the noodle. We are used to thinking in terms of the finite; incapable as we are of comprehending infinity except as a vague mist of mind. Not so with God. God sees and knows infinity the way that we know finitude; a discrete package, all tidy and comprehensible. Is it any wonder that he is called light, unapproachable light. Paul writes of it like this: the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. That we can know this is unspeakable joy. It is a miracle. Why is it then that God is mindful of in man except that in him we have been created, blessed above all blessings; to know what otherwise remains hidden.

What I want you to take away from this is that even though the essence of all Truth is transcendent, abiding only in God, what God has done in his especial creation -man- is to create a perfect image of himself. Though finite, it was perfectly represented for us in Jesus Christ the image bearer into whose likeness we are being transformed, glory to glory. Being a perfect creation though, that image which we will be, remains a creation and unlike the creator does not contain the infinitudinal nature of God; unchanging in all his being, penetrating to every reach of conception of knowledge, space and time.

There is nowhere David said, that he is not. By that he cannot be moved. To the contrary he is the divine mover. By that also, he can make what is described in the 1689 known. Christ who said that the Father always hears his prayers, prayed that they would be in us, and we in them, unmovable. We are made to be like him who cannot be diminished or increased, rock solid. So much like him we have been made to be. Too wonderful is that knowledge that we have been given to know.

At the same time, man can be moved, as all created, finite things can. And that is where we will go next. For now let it suffice to say that man in some form or fashion is in the likeness of God in all his attributes. But, what is particular to God could not be, and cannot be divested and reinvested in another; his essence and being is unique and unmixable and irreducible. Such is his power, and the ability to make man most perfectly like his creator in his infinite perfectons.

Wayne Grudem says of the image that an extensive explanation is unnecessary:
...we realize that a full understanding of man's likeness to God would require a full understanding of who God is in his being and in his action and full understanding of who man is and what he does. The more we know about God and man the more similarities we will the image of God. The expression refers to every way in which man is like God.
That image/likeness is as inexahaustible as the knowledge of God. As the confession states:
All that He does is the out-working of His changeless, righteous will, and for His own glory.
All those works prepared in God that we should walk in them, that is the image, and our assurance that when he appears we shall be like him.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Warning: Offensive Blogs

We are very sad that some have been "offended" by the theme here at the Reformed Mafia. Even though we've tried to explain that the theme is just tounge-in-cheek, some people still insist that this is an offensive theme that glorifies criminal activities and promotes violence.

As a public service, Gordan and I have put our heads together and want to warn our offended guests of some other blogs that they may not want to visit if they are offended by this one. We hope you will heed our warnings and do not venture onto these blogs:

  1. The Pyromaniacs: Here's an offensive blog for you. These guys are glorifying the sin of arson!

  2. Reformed Renegade: Here's a guy who's theme is being a renegade. Being a renegade is certainly un-Christian.

  3. Conservative Reformed Mafia: Another Mafia blog, oh my! Look at that dark and sinister layout! Their canine mascott looks evil too...

  4. Strange Baptist Fire: I don't know how any Christian could make a blog that glorifies "strange fire." Remember Nadab and Abihu? Anyone?

  5. Triablogue: The name's not offensive, but look at the artwork that glorifies warfare right there in the title!

  6. Fide-O: Pronounced like the dog's name. What is it with Calvinists and dogs, anyway? (See 3 above.) The theme of this blog is that they see themselves as guard dogs. How can that honor Christ?

  7. 2 Worlds Collide: Again, violent artwork (on a cosmic scale) right in the title. This guy apparently gets some joy out of hoping our planet will run into another one. Probably watches too much unsanctified science fiction. (As opposed to the sanctified kind: Left Behind.)

  8. Comfort Food: Either glorifies the sin of gluttony, or makes fun of people with an emotional disorder that causes them to turn to food for stress-relief. Either way, not good.

  9. Hip and Thigh: This guy just comes right out and says he's "slaughtering" his theological opponents!! He perverts a Bible verse to do it, too!!!!!!!!!

  10. The Red and Black Redneck: This Calvinistic Baptist from Georgia makes several damning admissions right on the front page, aside from using a culturally insensitive name in the first place: he watches football, apparently roots for the Bulldogs, is a lawyer, and (gasp) enjoys bourbon! Just call the cops right now.

  11. Tom in the Box: Well, you'll just have to read this one. It's too messed up to even describe. By the title, we think it has something to do with the kidnapping of some guy named Tom. They've probably got him locked in a trunk. We're calling the FBI on this one!

  12. TheoJunkie: Clever turn of phrase: makes God out to be some kind of narcotic.

  13. D-Dizzle Fo Shizzle: Not sure if she's a Calvinist, but judging by the title, the gal who runs this blog must listen to lots of Snoop Dog. Don't let your teens read this blog unless you want them talking in Snoop Speak!

  14. Mashed Potatoes on the Anvil: The subtitle of this blog is "taking a hammer to weak arguments." Again, what is it with these Calvinists and their violent blog themes? This guy even seems to promote violence against mashed potatoes! Ahhhh!

  15. Chadwick Ivester: Home of the satirical SBCEnquirer©. We all know satire cannot serve the cause of Christ.

Well, we hope that this will keep some of you from getting offended anymore than you already have. I've added a new rule to our Mafia Code of Conduct. Please click here and check out line #10.


Gordan's Late Edit: I've decided to go ahead and add a #16, since it's such a good, round number of repeated biblical significance....[crickets chirping uneasily]

16. The Beretta Blog: A great deal about this blog offends the pious Christian conscience. Hat tip to Glenn, who was offended at our lack of offense. The tag line, "Say hello to my little friend" is a clear cultural reference to one of the most senselessly violent movies ever made, for one. For another thing, that movie glorified organized crime, which no Christian would ever make use of in a blog theme. Third, "Beretta" is either a reference to a type of handgun (which is offensive all by itself) or, worse, could be a cryptic reference to the horrid TV cop series from the 70's. But having seen no image of Robert Blake at the blog, I'll think the best of this brother and imagine he's talking about the gun, which is downright wicked, of course. Lastly, the blog is obviously delving into some sort of witchcraft that causes the text to move independantly of the background; and, I am offended by how dizzy that made me.

Have nice day!

(Special thanks to Gordan for his huge contribution to this project!)