Friday, August 22, 2008

Pelagius' Island

RC Sproul give us a good account of the refuge of the lost; the prison island of autonomous free will.

John Hendryx defines for us the difference between Classical Arminianism and Semi-Pelagianism. As has been discussed here before and as R.C. and John make clear, on that little island, no matter how small, the "resetting" of man to neutral, is nonetheless, Pelagianism. Whether it is a neutral beginning, or grace which enables some residual neutrality, or some gift given to reset the neutrality; whether Pelegian, semi-pelagian or semi-semi-pelagian, it results in a return to that little isla de muerta of self-righteousness where the individual is the resolving sacrifical high preist of his own salvation -his own justification and sanctification- and not Jesus Christ, the true God and Savior.

Welcome to the world of the real.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Move Over Nelson Price

Pastor Price, you've got a legitimate challenger in the competition to put out the most outlandish, unsupported slander against Calvinism.

Worst. Post. Ever.

(Or nearly so. You'd think stuff like this would make me angry. But it just makes me tired.)

ht: Contemporary Calvinist

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Bold Face

Found at Iron Sharpens Iron. It's a nice place to visit.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

There's something about Georgia...

...that seems to attract anti-Calvinists.

The state is already home to The Secret 9, Johny Hunt, William Harrell, Jerry Vines, and Nelson Price.

Now it appears we can add yet another to that list: Emir Caner!

If this keeps up, I'm gonna move back to Florida!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Nugget from "The Book of Comfort"

So, who says Reformed confessions are dry, stuffy, impractical? If you memorize only one catechism question this year, or only teach one to your children, this is a great one.


Question 1: What is thy only comfort in life and in death?

Answer: That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ, who with his precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and redeemed me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must work together for my salvation. Wherefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of eternal life, and makes me heartily willing and ready henceforth to live unto him.

- The Heidelberg Catechism, 1563

Saturday, August 9, 2008


Pulpit Mag's Nathan Busenitz has given us a testament of evidentiary proofs that the Bible is reliable. Evidentially the Scripture is truth, no doubt. However, all the evidence in the world is not enough to save anyone:

"But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

Our primary problem is not that we do not have enough evidence. Our problem is that without the Spirit, we are not equipped to receive it. No matter what evidence is presented it is to no avail. Except a man is born again he cannot see the kingdom. Then what evidence, what signs, will save. Jesus said that a wicked and adulterous generation seeks a sign and no sign will be given except the resurrection. And who was it that saw that first hand? There was none. Even the disciples did not behold it until after it happened. What then can we present that will ever convince anyone that he has risen? Jesus put it bluntly, "Because you have seen me, you have believed? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." Even for Thomas, Jesus says, that faith is not found in this way. Instead, all that we come to know of evidences only affirms but can never confirm the Christian faith. I do agree with Nathan in this: that as believers we are built up in our faith by such things. I disagree, however, with the review's assertion that it is a good method of evangelism. In some ways the evidentialist approach is dangerous and no different that excitations provided by Finney's burlesque evangelism.

The confirmation of the faith is within. Not without. And though we have a testimony to the Word in print and history none of this can excite the conscience to embrace the faith. Simply it is not something that anyone takes upon themselves. As John said, it is not by man's will and Paul would say that these things are spiritually, not carnally (physically) discerned. Did it matter what God did among the children of Israel? No, it did not. If we were today to discover undeniable evidence of the death of Egypt's firstborn and of the first passover, likewise, it would not impress the dead minds of men that are fixed in repressing the truth in unrighteousness.

Contrary to evidentialism, which is just another form of sacramental instrumentalism, the Scripture assigns the remedy to the willful ignorance of the rebellious:

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’

Monday, August 4, 2008

Some Things that TULIP Doesn't Mean

I'd like to address some things that I've seen as common misunderstandings of the Calvinistic TULIP doctrines. I'm approaching this negatively, in terms of what it doesnt' mean. Hope no one is confused by that.

Total depravity: We don’t believe that

1. TD means that humans are incapable of performing any “good works.” But we’d say that even those are tainted with sin and thus unacceptable on their own; and they certainly will never be enough to purchase salvation.

2. TD means that all people are as bad as they could possibly be. They are as bad as God allows them to be. There is always room for deprovement, as John Gerstner said.

3. TD is contradicted at all by the human being’s ability to hear the gospel with his ears. Yes, you could say that the dead man hears. But that is a non sequitor. We’ve never posited that TD means a natural inability to process sound waves impinging on the ear drum: we’ve said it means that the gospel is rejected.

4. TD means that God forces people to choose evil and will not allow them to choose good. Rather, TD means that men always choose what they love, and reject what they hate. God is not holding a gun to anyone’s head; but the sinner will not choose that which violates his own nature. He will choose what he loves, which is darkness.

Unconditional election: We don’t believe that

1. UE means that salvation is random. That is how UE is often mockingly portrayed, as if God simply goes down a line, pointing at people and saying, “Heaven, hell, heaven, hell, heaven…no wait, hell, hell, hell, heaven.” In fact, there is a condition to election; there is a reason why one is chosen and one is not--but the rub is that that reason does not lie in the person chosen. The reason lies in the mind and will of God, and He hasn’t decided to let us in on those particular thoughts of His. Election is not random. He has chosen in accordance with His own good pleasure. I can’t answer farther than that.

Limited atonement: I don’t believe it means

1. That God is stingy with salvation. I believe with Spurgeon that on the last day it will be manifest that there are overwhelmingly more that are saved than not saved. The tiny remnant will be in hell. LA does not have to mean that few are saved.

2. That anyone is barred from heaven by the Limitations of the Atonement. Meaning, some mock the doctrine by speculating that there will be people who believed in Jesus who will be damned to hell because they were not part of the group chosen for salvation. This is not LA at all. If you believe, then you are one of those to whom the Atonement of Christ is limited. No one goes to hell because they fell outside the limits of LA: they go to hell for their willful sins. Big, big difference there.

3. That there is less grace available in the Calvinistic view than in the Arminian view. I’m convinced that a lot of the hatred of LA is nothing more than an emotional reaction against the terminology itself. It strikes natural ears as somehow curmudgeonly. Rather, we revel in the belief that our Limited Atonement actually accomplishes more for the believer than the Arminian’s supposedly Unlimited version. Specifically, our LA actually saves people, while ULA saves no one, apart from assistance from the sinner.

Irresistable Grace, does not mean

1. That God forces people to be saved. Those who are saved are saved in accordance with their wills, not contrary to them. Nobody’s in heaven now murmuring, “Dang! Y’know, this is really not what I wanted.” Nobody goes to heaven kicking and screaming.

Having said that, it also doesn’t necessarily mean that

2. IG is a quick work, or that resistance is not offered by the sinner. We do often kick and scream. Sometimes we kick and scream for years. But in the end, God wins and we are glad that He does. Some people try to disprove IG by pointing to places in the Scripture where the Gospel is rejected. This misses the point. We are not saying IG means no resistance is offered. We are saying that for the elect, no amount of resistance is ultimately successful. It is a war of attrition: at some point, you give in if you’re elect. And you give in, or surrender, not because your will has been forced somehow or overwhelmed; but because it has been graciously changed. You give in because you begin to love what you once hated.

Star Trek’s villainous monsters, The Borg, have the catch-phrase: “Resistance is futile.”

Okay, that’s not what we’re saying when we speak of IG. For the Borg, they were saying, Resist all you like: we are bigger and badder than you and we will dominate you regardless. For the elect, while it is true that resistance to grace really is ultimately futile, the reason is not overwhelming force. The reason is miraculous mercy, which sweetly and softly changes our affections.

3. That we are fatalistically doomed to whatever has been chosen for us. We don’t believe in fatalism, where it doesn’t matter what you do: your fate will happen anyway. We are determinists, not fatalists: so that your actions matter. Just because we believe in IG does not mean that the human will is unimportant, or that his choices do not matter. You still must repent and believe in order to be saved. If you choose not to, and persist in that decision, your own choice will confirm your unelect status forever. If you want to come to Jesus, then by all means, come to Jesus! Heaven forbid that anything you hear us say should prevent that!!

Perseverance of the Saints, does not mean

1. That once you’re saved, you can live like the devil and be assured of heaven. Without holiness, none will see the Lord. Salvation is not a “Get Out of Jail Free” card that you simply put in your back pocket and whip out when necessary. If, since you’ve been “saved,” your relation to sin has not changed, then your relation to God has not changed either, as Paul Washer has said.

2. That your salvation is dependant upon your faithfulness. I know, darkened minds will think I’ve just contradicted what I wrote in the above paragraph. They’ve got root and fruit mixed up. Your perseverance is not what gets you in the pearly gates. Your perseverance is the result of the saving graces of God being genuinely present in your life. If you are faithful unto death, it is 100 percent a work of God’s free grace, and you get no credit. Sorry.

3. That you can’t really know if you’re saved while you’re alive. Some try to say that the Calvinistic doctrine of perseverance destroys the Assurance of salvation, by tossing it all “up in the air” until the time of death. After all, they say, until it’s all over, the possibility of apostasy is real, so you can just never know…

But we believe that real, genuine assurance is in fact possible in this life (though not guaranteed) as the elect exercise genuine, saving faith in the promises of God, and cling to them in all joy and confidence.

I hope this helps.