Thursday, September 25, 2008

Contextualize This

Used by Force. All Rights Unnerved.

Pointedgun Publishers Inc.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Nice Work Doulogos!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

White Horse Inn Selling Jesus American Politics And Pelagius

It takes all types.

I recently posted on this at Treasures.

If you haven't followed what Michael Horton is doing in this series on the state of evangelicalism today and you are in the market for a few hours of often disturbing but informative listening, then I heartily recommend it. There is plenty of solid theology along with Dr Horton's erudite ability to make it relevant for today.

Friday, September 5, 2008

By Grace God Is The Monergistic Causal Agent

22Therefore say to the house of Israel, "Thus says the Lord GOD: "I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name's sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. 23And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD," says the Lord GOD, "when I am hallowed in you before their eyes. 24For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. 25Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. 28Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. 29I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you. 30And I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields, so that you need never again bear the reproach of famine among the nations. 31Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good; and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities and your abominations. 32Not for your sake do I do this," says the Lord GOD, "let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel!"

33"Thus says the Lord GOD: "On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt. 34The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by. 35So they will say, "This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.' 36Then the nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the LORD, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate. I, the LORD, have spoken it, and I will do it."

37"Thus says the Lord GOD: "I will also let the house of Israel inquire of Me to do this for them: I will increase their men like a flock. 38Like a flock offered as holy sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem on its feast days, so shall the ruined cities be filled with flocks of men. Then they shall know that I am the LORD."'"

In the above passages from Ezekiel 36, a unique thing occurs. Something that the Lord says is not done for anything that man has done. verse 32 The sequencing is familiar:

Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

What must happen to a man first so that he believes into Christ is the Dividing Line.

As John Hendryx explains:
God does indeed give a prevenient grace to man: According to Scripture, all people are born dead in sin (Eph 2:1). This simply means that, as a result of the Fall, people are born without the Holy Spirit and therefore, (left to themselves) are hostile to Christ and unable to understand to spiritual things (1 Cor 1:21). It does not mean they can do (or think) nothing in their state of common grace, but it means they can do nothing spiritual or redemptive ... that they will always think God's word is foolish (1 Cor 2:14) until the Holy Spirit, who comes from the outside, works grace in their hearts.

Now, what may come as a surprise to many is that even the most hardened Arminian believes this. Semi-pelagians do not believe this, of course, but Classic Arminians along with Calvinists believe, with the Scripture, in the necessity of some kind of prevenient grace prior to belief. And it is important that we make this distinction so we do not misrepresent anyone's views. So to the question: can any person come to faith in Christ apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, both the Arminian and the Calvinist would definitively answer "no".

As is demonstrated in the Ezekiel passage it is not something with which man must in the beginning cooperate. Quite the opposite. Man in his state of rebellion will not. To be able to will to love God and keep the first commandment, God does a miracle, removing the heart of stone and putting in its place a heart of flesh, verse 26. That is not owing to man, not for his sake, verse 32, not that there is anything worthy in man, for he is no different than all the nations around with hearts of stone. Israel profaned the name of the Lord and caused the nations to do likewise. It is not because of some effort on their part, either, that they are caused to obey. For the following verse tells us from where the power which enables them is derived and how it is that power exerts its influence in causing the keeping of the ordinances of God such as the commandment of repentance unto salvation or any other righteous work required for entrance into the kingdom.

The kind of grace that God gives is not the faulty grace of the Arminian which may or may not fulfill the commands of God. It is bound to the very Spirit of God, verse 27. Just as men of old spoke as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit, so also the righteous appeal of repentance and the cry for mercy is a gift carried out in vessels of flesh by the Holy Spirit's efficacious power. He causes and He carries His own to do what he commands.

Not only that, but the sanctification is accomplished by Him and Him alone. It is called circumcision of the flesh, or mortification of the flesh, by the Spirit. See Galatians also where Paul is concerned, not with just definitve sanctification but progressive sanctification which he parallels as being of the same type concluding that if one is saved but submits to rules and ordinances for sanctification and perseverance in salvation, the death of Christ avails nothing. A little leaven leavens the whole lump and eventually the doctrine of salvation by grace is abandoned and the Jewish religion of works takes its place. That is what Paul accused Peter of, introducing accursed heresy which usurps the Gospel's rightful place, replacing it with a gospel of bondage again to the law. It is a gospel, which is no gospel, of a god who is no god able to save.

Ezekiel tells us that all that comes before in prevenience is all that will ever be given, and all that is given is all that is necessary, and that it is complete in reference to the glory of God (verses 33-37) which otherwise would be blasphemed if it should fail to fulfill the thing it was sent to do. Jesus summed this glorification up in John 17. And as Hendryx explains, all those that the Father has given to the Son will be given a new nature in regeneration, and it does not fail, of all that the Father has given no one is ever lost.

Hendryx sums up:
To use some biblical imagery, we cast the seed of the gospel indiscriminately because the Holy Spirit alone can “germinate” the word unto life in Christ. The fallow ground of our hearts must first be plowed up by God, for the soil of our heart is not good by nature, but only by grace. The seed will not find good soil until God makes it so. For Ezekiel the prophet says:

“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

Notice that in order for obedience to take place the Lord must first cleanse our hearts, put a new spirit in us and remove our hardened uncircumcised heart. No one believes and obeys while their heart is still stone. Our blind eyes must be opened, our deaf ears unstopped, and our corrupt nature supernaturally changed by the Holy Spirit, before we can begin to have any good thoughts about Christ. The Bible likens the new birth, or regeneration, to the first creation (2 Cor. 5:17). God let light shine into what was darkness. And God breathed life into lifeless man and then man, because of the new principle of life now within him, breathed and walked. Likewise regeneration can be likened to God's first breath in man, and faith, to Adam's first breath. The former is monergistic and the later, while it springs from the principle of grace that now exists within, is participatory. Both the creation and the maintaining are all of grace, but only God's breathing life into us (ex nihilo) is monergistic (that is, it is the work of God alone). When God brings forth something out of nothing, it is monergistic, but when we breathe (or have faith) as a result of God's act, we are now participating, so by definition this is not monergistic, but all springs forth from God's initial monergistic act of giving life from nothing.

"Regeneration is the fountain; sanctification is the river." - J. Sidlow Baxter

This is what I call passive/active sanctification, because as Jesus, Ezekial, Paul explain, except that we abide in Him we can do nothing. Nothing. By definition it is not monergistic if what we are saying is that man acts at all. The import of Hendryx, just as it was with the Council of Orange, and as it has been recognized in the orthodox faith since the patriarchs, is that man is carried along. All that flows from the fountain of monergism is what carries out the work and therefore the glorification of God. It is by grace alone and not the prevenient grace of the Arminian, or of any other form of common grace like that of the Pelagian or semi-pelagian. It is a prevenient grace that is preventive, that will not allow failure to save and that eternally. The grace of Christ, that is the Christian grace, is complete in all that is required of righteousness in man that fits him for salvation. And this all bought by the blood of Christ. His reward given to him by the Father is that we are made to partake in the adoption as sons. It is his righteousness, his deeds, his righteous confession and love of the Father freely given to us grace. It is his drawing, his spinkling of us, his cleansing us. He does it all, even making us active by it.

Our passive/active obedience is well expressed in the Hebrew term in Ezekiel for cause. Like the word receive in 1 Cor 4 it is active but can also be passive, and it can at the same time be both. The one thing that it cannot be is neutral. Like the term in Ezekiel for God santifying Himself in his people, all three are the case. Just as when it is said that his works have been finished from the beginning of the world yet he never stops working. But what always comes first is the activity of God so we also have the Promised One who is in us not by the power resident in us, that is we cannot ascend into heaven to bring Christ down, but by the power resident in Him. We are also in Him by the same power. Likewise we walk by the Spirit, passive/active. But we are at first passive while He takes the active role of causing us to walk according to His commands such that we put to death the deeds of the flesh. Though like Isaiah says he also causes us to walk not according to his statutes for a season, he is always faithful to save his people from utter destruction. His discipline moves us to diligence so we work out our salvation with fear and trembling because it is He who is a work in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. We do not do as we want. Therefore Paul tells us that Christ is our salvation, both our justification and sanctification, in whom alone is the promise, to whom alone belongs the promise, who is alone the promise. He leaves nothing to the chance of our choosing.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Thank God that from these stones he is able to raise up children.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

It's All Grace Unless You Run Out of Will Power

The condemnations of Arminianism from Dort:

Who make use of the distinction between obtaining and applying in order to instill in the unwary and inexperienced the opinion that God, as far as he is concerned, wished to bestow equally upon all people the benefits which are gained by Christ's death; but that the distinction by which some rather than others come to share in the forgiveness of sins and eternal life depends on their own free choice (which applies itself to the grace offered indiscriminately) but does not depend on the unique gift of mercy which effectively works in them, so that they, rather than others, apply that grace to themselves.

For, while pretending to set forth this distinction in an acceptable sense, they attempt to give the people the deadly poison of Pelagianism.

The fact that others who are called through the ministry of the gospel do come and are brought to conversion must not be credited to man, as though one distinguishes himself by free choice from others who are furnished with equal or sufficient grace for faith and conversion (as the proud heresy of Pelagius maintains). No, it must be credited to God: just as from eternity he chose his own in Christ, so within time he effectively calls them, grants them faith and repentance, and, having rescued them from the dominion of darkness, brings them into the kingdom of his Son, in order that they may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called them out of darkness into this marvelous light, and may boast not in themselves, but in the Lord, as apostolic words frequently testify in Scripture.
Who teach that in spiritual death the spiritual gifts have not been separated from man's will, since the will in itself has never been corrupted but only hindered by the darkness of the mind and the unruliness of the emotions, and since the will is able to exercise its innate free capacity once these hindrances are removed, which is to say, it is able of itself to will or choose whatever good is set before it - or else not to will or choose it.

This is a novel idea and an error and has the effect of elevating the power of free choice, contrary to the words of Jeremiah the prophet: The heart itself is deceitful above all things and wicked (Jer. 17:9); and of the words of the apostle: All of us also lived among them (the sons of disobedience) at one time in the passions of our flesh, following the will of our flesh and thoughts (Eph. 2:3).

JCT said:
Once again you display your raving ignorance of Christian doctrine, Twitchell. You demonstrate quite succinctly what I pointed out before: you have no clue as to what the word 'Pelagian' even means; you toss the term around heedlessly, using it as a tar-brush to spuriously incriminate Christians who dare to disagree with you.

Pelagianism and Semipelagianism were not condemned for being synergistic, they were condemned as heresy because they denied the necessity of grace (The Canons of the Council of Orange, Canon 5); the very same canons affirmed that men are saved by aid from and cooperation with Christ.

I never mentioned Orange. To disabuse any who think JCT's claims are true:

From the Council of Orange:

CANON 3. If anyone says that the grace of God can be conferred as a result of human prayer, but that it is not grace itself which makes us pray to God, he contradicts the prophet Isaiah, or the Apostle who says the same thing, "I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me" (Rom 10:20, quoting Isa. 65:1).

CANON 4. If anyone maintains that God awaits our will to be cleansed from sin, but does not confess that even our will to be cleansed comes to us through the infusion and working of the Holy Spirit, he resists the Holy Spirit himself who says through Solomon, "The will is prepared by the Lord" (Prov. 8:35, LXX), and the salutary word of the Apostle, "For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13).

CANON 5. If anyone says that not only the increase of faith but also its beginning and the very desire for faith, by which we believe in Him who justifies the ungodly and comes to the regeneration of holy baptism -- if anyone says that this belongs to us by nature and not by a gift of grace, that is, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit amending our will and turning it from unbelief to faith and from godlessness to godliness, it is proof that he is opposed to the teaching of the Apostles, for blessed Paul says, "And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6). And again, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8). For those who state that the faith by which we believe in God is natural make all who are separated from the Church of Christ by definition in some measure believers.

CANON 6. If anyone says that God has mercy upon us when, apart from his grace, we believe, will, desire, strive, labor, pray, watch, study, seek, ask, or knock, but does not confess that it is by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us that we have the faith, the will, or the strength to do all these things as we ought; or if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10).

CANON 7. If anyone affirms that we can form any right opinion or make any right choice which relates to the salvation of eternal life, as is expedient for us, or that we can be saved, that is, assent to the preaching of the gospel through our natural powers without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who makes all men gladly assent to and believe in the truth, he is led astray by a heretical spirit, and does not understand the voice of God who says in the Gospel, "For apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5), and the word of the Apostle, "Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God" (2 Cor. 3:5).

CANON 8. If anyone maintains that some are able to come to the grace of baptism by mercy but others through free will, which has manifestly been corrupted in all those who have been born after the transgression of the first man, it is proof that he has no place in the true faith. For he denies that the free will of all men has been weakened through the sin of the first man, or at least holds that it has been affected in such a way that they have still the ability to seek the mystery of eternal salvation by themselves without the revelation of God. The Lord himself shows how contradictory this is by declaring that no one is able to come to him "unless the Father who sent me draws him" (John 6:44), as he also says to Peter, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 16:17), and as the Apostle says, "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:3).

CANON 16. No man shall be honored by his seeming attainment, as though it were not a gift, or suppose that he has received it because a missive from without stated it in writing or in speech. For the Apostle speaks thus, "For if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose" (Gal. 2:21); and "When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men" (Eph. 4:8, quoting Ps. 68:18). It is from this source that any man has what he does; but whoever denies that he has it from this source either does not truly have it, or else "even what he has will be taken away" (Matt. 25:29).

CANON 17. Concerning Christian courage. The courage of the Gentiles is produced by simple greed, but the courage of Christians by the love of God which "has been poured into our hearts" not by freedom of will from our own side but "through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us" (Rom. 5:5).

CANON 25. Concerning the love with which we love God. It is wholly a gift of God to love God. He who loves, even though he is not loved, allowed himself to be loved. We are loved, even when we displease him, so that we might have means to please him. For the Spirit, whom we love with the Father and the Son, has poured into our hearts the love of the Father and the Son (Rom. 5:5).

What is evident is that Orange did indeed condemn synergism. So did Dort. The Arminian position is always in some facet of explanation heresy, whether the dishonesty resides in a well respected SBC hero, or in the rantings of bitter internet preachers. And while the Canons of Orange did soften the notions of imputation and exclusivity of God working monergistically in all ways in sanctification, it can plainly be seen that the initiation, source and completion of all things is finally God's work alone:

Concerning Christian courage. The courage of the Gentiles is produced by simple greed, but the courage of Christians by the love of God which "has been poured into our hearts" not by freedom of will from our own side but "through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us

My position has always been that it is exclusively a monergistic work of God, but agree, that man is not merely passive. I describe it as passive/active, acknowledging what Paul taught, that he worked harder than all, yet not he, but Christ who was in him. As the White Horse Inn selection explains, the Pelagian error is more than just the particulars of Pelagius' original sin rejection. It goes to the usurpation of God's work of grace as monergistic. In both the Pelagian and semi-Pelagian systems grace is only that assistance to the natural ability of self-attainment, turning grace into works. Pelagius even went so far as to say that man did not need grace at all. And, as I have contended, as RC Sproul and John Hendryx conclude, as the men of WHI conclude, when it comes to Arminianism, the result of their view of grace and man's cooperation with it simply results in Pelagius' Island, that little area, where man does not depend upon the grace of God as sufficient for all things, but is finally on his own to make the choice.

I hope this is enough to convince the readers of this blog just who JCT is. Both Orange and Dort condemned the semi-Pelagian notions of grace. Again, I refer the reader to Canon 5 that JCT referenced and see that what JCT claimed about it was false:

For those who state that the faith by which we believe in God is natural make all who are separated from the Church of Christ by definition in some measure believers

And also later in Cannon 6:
if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10).
Notice, that JCT does not make faith itself the grace which is given. And notice that the Cannon clearly states that it is a supernatural faith not common to man. In effect the grace of faith is the "conduit" or that which receives and rests in Christ, and not the will of man. It is also clear that it is grace that bends the will towards God and not man, contrary to the assertion of JCT. It is not left to man to will from neutrality, but it is the very gift of grace that kills the resistance and moves the will irresisably to trust in Christ.

Our final authority is not the concils, it is Scripture. We do however look to them as an appeal. What we find is that men before us saw in the Scripture undeniable evidence of the monergistic work of God in all facets of our salvation. It was the impetus of the Reformation. To exalt the humanistic free-will and the power of contrary choice is to embrace Erasmus and to return to Rome and condemn Luther. Our separation from Rome hinges upon the denunciation of the free-will doctrine. As Luther said, this is the hinge pin of all the protestation.