Archive for the ‘Debates’ Category

George Bryson wrote the following:

THE GOSPEL
ACCORDING TO
JAMES WHITE
OR
THE “REFORMED” DOCTRINES
OF
DOOM AND GLOOM

The First Point

The first side (the positive side) of the first point of Calvinism is that if you are one of those elected for salvation you will one day (in this life) inevitably be born again before the final judgment. When you are born again you will be given a new nature. As your old nature was an unbelieving nature so your new nature will be a believing nature. Here is how it unfolds. As a new born child of God you will (as a result of your new birth) believe in Jesus Christ. Because (and when) you believe in Jesus Christ you will be declared righteous and be guaranteed a place among the resurrection of the just-and at that time glorified for all eternity.

The second side (the negative or doom and gloom side) of the first point is that if you are not one of the elect, you will not and cannot born again. Here is how it unfolds. Because you are not born again and will forever be stuck with your unbelieving nature you will not and cannot believe in Jesus Christ. Because you cannot believe in Jesus Christ in your unregenerate condition, you will not be justified. If you are not justified you will eventually be raised with the unjust, and finally be sentenced to everlasting shame and torment. This to is according to God’s sovereign will and good pleasure.

The Second Point

The first side (the positive side) of the second point of Calvinism is that if God has chosen you for salvation He did so unconditionally. You do not have to believe to become chosen for salvation but you were chosen and created for salvation and so you believe as a result of being elected and created for salvation.

The second side (the negative or doom and gloom side) of the second point is that if God has not chosen you for salvation,-meaning He has chosen you for damnation-He did so unconditionally. You were chosen, decreed, and created for damnation. You cannot believe and are therefore damned for your unbelief because this is according to God’s sovereign will and for His glory and good pleasure.

The Third Point

The first side (the positive side) of the third point of Calvinism is that if you were chosen and created for salvation, Christ died for your sins so that the eternal decree for salvation would have an historical provision for salvation.

The second side (the negative or doom and gloom side) of the third point of Calvinism is that if you were not chosen and created for salvation-meaning you were chosen and created for damnation- Christ did not die for your sins because an eternal decree for damnation needs no historical provision for salvation.

The Fourth Point

The first side (the positive side) of the fourth doctrine is that if you were chosen and created for salvation, God will irresistibly draw or efficaciously call you (applying saving grace to your life and circumstance) to Himself, first giving you a new life, which in turn brings with it a new nature, which is a believing nature, resulting in your certain and immediate justification and eventual and everlasting glorification.

The second side (the negative and doom and gloom side) of the fourth doctrine is that if you were not chosen and created for salvation-meaning that you were chosen and created for damnation-you will not be irresistibly drawn, efficaciously called, and no saving grace will be extended to you, which means you will not and cannot be born again, which in turn means you cannot have faith in Christ and thereby be justified in this life or ultimately glorified in the next life. Instead you will suffer the torments of the everlasting lake of fire in accordance with the sovereign will of God because this is according to His good pleasure.

The Fifth Point

The first side (the positive side) of the fifth point of Calvinism is that if you were chosen and created for salvation, the new nature you receive when you are born again, and the saving faith that comes with that new nature, and the justification that immediately follows faith insures that you will live (however imperfectly) a sanctified, holy, or righteous life in faith (practically speaking) for the most part, from the time of your regeneration until the time of your glorification. This perseverance in sanctification, holiness, or righteousness in faith, while not perfect is inevitable for the truly born again and will be to the end of this life for the elect. It is not as though the elect should not fail to persevere (for the most part) but they cannot do so. If therefore a person appeared to be a saint earlier in life, but failed to persevere in faith and righteousness until the end of life, it proves he was never a saint or never born again, never had faith in Christ, and never had a holy and righteous life in faith to persevere in.

The second side (the negative and doom side) of the third point is that if you are not elect and created for salvation-meaning you are elect and chosen for damnation-you cannot be born again, have faith in Christ, live a holy or righteous life in faith for even one day, much less to the end of your life. Because God is sovereign and can do as He pleases with His creatures, God is free to mislead a person into thinking they are one of the elect, help them live much like the elect, but at the judgment reveal that they were convinced by God that they were one of the elect even though they were not. No matter how convinced someone is in thinking he is one of the elect, assurance of salvation and eternal life is impossible to secure. How could anyone know for certain that they will persevere to the end proving they were elect without actually having persevered to the end.
After many years (actually decades) of studying the Calvinist doctrines of grace, I am convinced that the best refutation of the five points of Calvinism is an accurate and honest explanation of the five points of Calvinism. Unfortunately most new converts to Calvinism are not aware of the flip side to the five points of Calvinism early on. Those who introduce Calvinism to the non-Calvinist believe that the new believer is not ready for the meatier stuff of Reformed theology. That, they say, should come only later when they can handle it. They reason that the positive side of each point is like simple arithmetic. The negative side is more like algebra or some other more complicated, difficult and higher form of math.

The truth is this; the negative side is not more difficult to understand for the new convert to Calvinism, it is more difficult to accept. The positive side seems more palatable whereas the negative side is difficult to swallow and some even choke on it. Full disclosure, early on and sometimes even later on, is a major hindrance to those committed to winning the non-Calvinist over to Calvinism. Admittedly, sometimes proponents of Calvinism do not lay it all out on the table because they themselves have not turned the coin over to see what is on the other side. Sometimes they ignore it. Sometimes they deny it. They are on the Reformed road and are trying to get others to join them. However, they have not gone very far and sometimes do not choose to go but a few blocks down the Reformed road. Some would like to believe that each of the five points of Calvinism are only five points of grace. It is too much (for them) to think that these five points also represent a very hard and harsh message of doom and gloom. In fact, John Piper happily concedes that:

The “Doctrines of Grace” (Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, Perseverance of the saints) are the warp and woof of the biblical gospel cherished by so many saints for centuries.

I responded as follows:

George, thanks again for chiming in on my blog. I just want to say in short that you are not representing the “Confessionally Reformed” tradition fairly. You may have met some obnoxious “5 pointers” and I can almost guarantee you that most have not actually read Calvin’s Institutes, nor the Confessional tradition that emanated from him (Belgic Confession, Canons of Dordt, Heidelberg Catechism). Calvin, along with the confessions, are very pastoral and present the doctrines of Scripture in a clear, yet necessarily nuanced form with regards to some doctrines that transcend our full ability to comprehend. Here’s an example from the Belgic Confession (emphasis mine):

Article 13: The Doctrine of God’s Providence

We believe that this good God, after he created all things, did not abandon them to chance or fortune but leads and governs them according to his holy will, in such a way that nothing happens in this world without his orderly arrangement.
Yet God is not the author of, nor can he be charged with, the sin that occurs. For his power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible that he arranges and does his work very well and justly even when the devils and wicked men act unjustly.

We do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what he does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend. But in all humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God, which are hidden from us, being content to be Christ’s disciples, so as to learn only what he shows us in his Word, without going beyond those limits.This doctrine gives us unspeakable comfort since it teaches us that nothing can happen to us by chance but only by the arrangement of our gracious heavenly Father. He watches over us with fatherly care, keeping all creatures under his control, so that not one of the hairs on our heads (for they are all numbered) nor even a little bird can fall to the ground^20 without the will of our Father.

In this thought we rest, knowing that he holds in check the devils and all our enemies, who cannot hurt us without his permission and will.

George, on a personal note, I really wish you and CC would stop attacking Calvinism. I am meeting more and more former CC folks who have left because they were ostracized after claiming to like guys like John MacArthur, John Piper, and C.H. Spurgeon. It has gotten ridiculous out there. Do you seriously wish to continue to attack the Calvinistic understanding of God that MacArthur, Piper, Spurgeon, and the historical Church has held? Stop proclaiming that you are neutral on the Calvin-Arminian debate if you are going to continue to attack Calvinism and run very Godly pastors and “members” out of your churches and missions support because they share such convictions. I have met exCC folks who said that they would have remained in the fellowship with their Calvinisitic convictions if they weren’t attacked so vigorously. One gentleman told me that he was receiving correspondence from his CC friends about attending our church, whereas the concern was that we were heretical almost on the level of Mormonisn and JW. This is sad and I think you are partly responsible, unless of course you truly think we are borderline heretics, which means you should do everyone a service and tell all the CC bookstores to stop selling Tozer, MacArthur, Piper, Spurgeon, etc. My convictions are hardly any different from Spurgeon and yet his works are sold in most CC bookstores, whereas some CC members think that we as a church are almost heretical. Would you say the same about Spurgeon and his congregation? Consistency would definitely help, not only for your CC folks, but also for the church universal.

Grace and Peace…Rick

Living in God’s Two Kingdoms: A Biblical Vision for Christianity and Culture

Copyright © 2010 by David VanDrunen

Published by Crossway Books

PRELIMS: This book was provided by Crossway for my personal review.

First off, Dr. VanDrunen is a credible author on the points in which he engages. He is a studied scholar in the realm of divinity and law. Such background is necessary for the topic in which he engages. Secondly, this book is much needed in the “Evangelical” world today as the church struggles and flounders through the murky issues of Christian engagement of culture, politics, etc. Lastly, VanDrunen approaches this work from the rich heritage of the “Two-Kingdom” theory you will find in Augustine, Luther, Calvin (although open to debate), and many contemporary Reformed thinkers.

THE GOOD:

VanDrunen establishes a historical understanding of the issues of how God rules in the world generally and in the Church specifically. He is well aware of Niebuhr’s work on “Christ and Culture” and establishes the framework of the debate judiciously. Before making an inductive thesis in support of the “Two-Kingdom” perspective, he engages critically in modern distortions of the Christians obligation to the world: N.T. Wright and the Emergent Church. His criticisms are insightful and helpful. Read the book for the nitty gritty.

I commend VanDrunen’s covenantal redemptive-historical framework throughout the book. He deals specifically with the covenant with Adam and how it consisted of his tending the garden (priestly duties), as well as governing the land (kingly duties). If Adam and his righteous progeny had succeeded, eternal bliss and rest would have followed, meaning that the “Creation Mandate” had a goal in view. Adam and Eve weren’t to perpetually bear children and work the land forever and ever as the last climatic act in their God-given charge. The priestly duties would have brought about consummated holiness in destroying the serpent and partaking of the tree of life, while the kingly duties would have brought earth under perfect subjection and thus a perfect consummate rest from labor. VanDrunen dedicates an entire chapter in elaborating upon these themes because the rest of the book makes no sense apart from this framework.  VanDruned then dedicates an entire chapter to exactly how Jesus has and will fulfill these charges given to Adam. VanDrunen states the following:

Before the second Adam no one accomplished the task of the first Adam, and after the second Adam no one needs to accomplish it. The last Adam has completed it once and for all. Christians will attain the original destiny of life in the world-to-come, but we do so not by picking up the task where Adam left off but by resting entirely on the work of Jesus Christ, the last Adam who accomplished the task perfectly.

 How did Christ accomplish Adam’s original task perfectly? Jesus did not personally fill the earth with his descendants or exercise dominion over all creatures in his human nature during his earthly ministry. But as considered in chapter 2, Adam was to have his entire obedience in the entire world determined through a particular test in a particular location. So it was for the last Adam. Like the first Adam, the Lord Jesus was confronted by the devil who tried to entice Christ to obey him, and King Jesus resisted the devil and conquered him (Matt. 4:1–11; Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14). Like the first Adam, the Lord Jesus was called to priestly service, and Christ the Great High Priest purified God’s holy dwelling and opened the way for human beings back into his presence (Heb. 9:11–28; 10:19–22). Like the first Adam, the Lord Jesus was to enter God’s royal rest in the world-to- come upon finishing his work perfectly, and this is precisely what Christ did, entering into heaven itself, taking his seat at God’s right hand, ministering in the heavenly tabernacle, and securing our place in the world-to-come (Heb. 1:3; 4:14–16; 7:23–28).

This is absolutely essential for issues of Christianity and culture! If Christ is the last Adam, then we are not new Adams. To under- stand our own cultural work as picking up and finishing Adam’s original task is, however unwittingly, to compromise the sufficiency of Christ’s work. Christ perfectly atoned for all our sins, and hence we have no sins left to atone personally. Likewise, Christ perfectly sustained a time of testing similar to Adam’s: he achieved the new creation through his flawless obedience in this world. He has left nothing yet to be accomplished. God indeed calls Christians to suf fer and to pursue cultural tasks obediently through our lives. But to think that our sufferings contribute to atoning for sin or that our cultural obedience contributes to building the new creation is to compromise the all-sufficient work of Christ.

VanDrunen even pulls out the exclamation mark in reference to how important understanding the work of Christ is for determining our own obligations as a Christian.  We are now heavenly citizens who taste the world to come, but do not in any way bring it about. He states: (more…)

Humanistic Conservatism

Posted: July 29, 2010 by Scott Kistler in Christ & Culture, Debates, Philosophy, Politics
Tags: ,

Doug Wilson, reflecting on Glenn Beck’s novel The Overton Window and Beck’s view of humanity:

Our problem is humanism, and we cannot effectively counter radical leftist humanism with apparently milder right wing forms of it. The humanist believes that mankind is basically good and, going back to Socrates, the explanation for evil is ignorance. If man is basically good, where does all this evil come from? It has to come from ignorance, and the solution to ignorance is education. The solution to the political pathologies we see in Washington today is to get involved and “get informed.” But the biblical answer is repentance, and repentance all the way down. Our solution is not to get angry at what “they” are doing to us, but rather to be grieved at what we have done to ourselves. One of the basic things we have done in this regard is flatter ourselves — and Beck’s approach here is part of the problem.

Wilson’s not anti-Beck; in fact, he liked the book.  At least in the sense that so much (liberal and conservative) activism is about the egregious harm committed by some outside force against the innocent common people, Wilson echoes James Hunter’s critique of our political culture.

What a find.. 3 great debates!

Posted: July 20, 2010 by Matthew Masiewicz in Baptism, Debates, Theology
Tags:

I stumbled across this site that has  three GREAT debates on it.
1. The classic Dr. Greg Bahnsen vs Dr. Gorden Stein debate on the existence of God. Where Dr. Bahnsen masterfully employs the Transcendental argument.
2. The John Macarthur vs R.C Sproul debate (more competing presentations) on infant baptism.
3. James White vs Bart Ehrman “Misquoting Jesus” the reliability of the New Testament.

Download them asap, these things tend to disappear on the net. Drag this link address to your address bar.
http://www.tonybartolucci.com/briefcase.htm

Over on Facebook, Pastor Rick wrote:

…if there was continuity in the constituting [of] God’s covenant people, Jesus would never have told Nicodemus that he must be born again. How dare Jesus be so pietistic as to tell a respected “covenant” member that he needs to be born again.

He echoes a question I once asked: why would Jesus tell Nicodemus that he must be born again if he was already in the covenant by circumcision?

Someone pointed out to me that “…Jesus is not talking about individual regeneration in John 3. Rather, he is talking about the need for a new Israel, a new humanity. Nicodemus needs to follow Jesus into the new world through death and resurrection. Being baptized will unite him with the disciples of Jesus, with those who are following Jesus into a new world.”

James Jordan puts it this way:

Nicodemus is brilliant. He says to Jesus, “You jest, surely. How many times have we been born again? the Flood, Sinai, Elijah, Cyrus. But it has never taken. You would have to back into mother’s womb and start over.”

“Yep,” says Jesus. “And watch me do it.”

Sure enough, Nicodemus is there when Jesus is buried back into mother’s womb. I’m certain Nicodemus knew Jesus would rise again, born anew from the soil. Maybe the disciples had doubts, but Nicodemus knew.

In union with Jesus’ resurrection we are all born anew from mother’s womb.

He also points out that John describes the tomb as a virgin:

19.41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.

(Genesis 24.16 The young woman was very attractive in appearance, a maiden whom no man had known.)

Put this together with Luke’s record of Jesus vs. Sadducees on resurrection where he says that one becomes a son of God by being a son of the resurrection, and Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 about the “birth pangs” of death being unable to stop Jesus, the use of Psalm 2 (“today I have begotten you”) in the preaching of the resurrection of Jesus in Acts, the title “firstborn of the death,” Romans all over the place…. (more…)

I watched Larry King Live on Friday night and was pretty disappointed with just about everything I was hearing, even from “Evangelicals” Ted Haggard and Bob Botsford. Here’s a summary of what disappointed me:

  1. Jen Knapp – She is obviously still conflicted from her body language. It was unclear if she actually viewed her behavior as sinful, but justified within a framework of “we’re all sinners” or if she actually thought her lifestyle was commendable within a Biblical framework. She sounded unsure about Scriptural warrant as she repeatedly said that the Bible was written in Greek and subject to various interpretations. She didn’t make a case for her lifestyle from Scripture other than to say that there are some who understand the text in a way that would permit homosexual behavior. I was also disappointed with the privatization of the faith in her references, “My faith”, “My journey”, etc.
  2. Larry King – He was obviously bent on viewing her lifestyle as something that she is inclined towards. He even reasoned that if God is all-powerful, then our inclinations must be consistent with His will. Bob Botsford had a great opportunity to respond to this faulty epistemology, but he failed to connect with this soft toss (more on that later). King was picking and choosing from the Judeo-Christian worldview to validate certain actions, while condemning others…yet another opportunity for Botsford to respond too.
  3. Ted Haggard – He kept reaffirming that God is love and the Bible is all about having a personal relationship with Jesus. He even said that since Knapp and Botsford are on their separate journeys, and that they are equally saved by grace, they should not be criticizing one another. With Haggard also privatizing the faith, he was essentially an unwitting ally to Knapp in the conversation. This over-privatizing of the faith explains why Haggard felt that he was mishandled by his church’s board and the Foursquare denomination when his own mis-discretions became public. He apparently thought that church discipline was “unloving” and incompatible with love towards those in sin. If Ted Haggard thought he was “saved” during his escapades, then he must feel himself in a bind to denunciate Jen Knapp’s actions so long as she professes to be a Christian. He is making a category error in the role of Church discipline in connection with assurance of salvation. His ecclesiology seems pretty whack, doesn’t even sound like he would discipline Jen Knapp. Weird stuff.
  4. Bob Botsford – He is an Evangelical pastor who had a Bible with him, but seemed very uncomfortable to be there and very ill-prepared in the apologetics of pulling down strongholds. He is a learned man, based on his website, but seems as if he has never been trained in epistemology and critiquing post-modern thought and moral relativity. It is great to quote the Bible over and over again, but at some point you need to be able to show the inconsistency and foolishness of the opposition by denying them many of their presuppositions that guide their thoughts and questions. He failed to do that. He should have asked Jen Knapp and Larry King if they have any sexual ethics and what such is based on. He should have asked them if they supported pedophiles, incestuous intercourse, bestiality, and rape. If they said no to any of those scenarios, they should have been asked to give a defense for what authority their denunciations are based on. They would have been revealed as inconsistent and morally bankrupt, as the real hypocrites in the discussion. He had so many opportunities to challenge the uncertain exegesis of Jen Knapp, the selective epistemology of Larry King, and the doubletalk of Ted Haggard, but failed. I was screaming for Al Mohler, Greg Koukl, or even John MacArthur to show up on set and make a respectable defense of the Evangelical faith, but such was not the case.

In closing, this was painful to watch. I do pray for Jen Knapp and have many of her songs on my Ipod. The only plus I take from the show was that she was very conflicted within and she was hardly honest when she said that she is happier than she has ever been. That is absolutely not true. I pray that she would turn in repentance before she is totally given over by God to her obstinate heart.

You may have heard about the Glenn Beck-Jim Wallis debate recently.  Beck told people to leave their churches if their clergy supported “social justice”; Wallis said that Beck had attacked a fundamental part of Christian teaching and should be shunned like Howard Stern.  To be frank, nothing that I read about the debate suggested that the important issues were being deeply engaged with.  It seemed much more about scoring points.

Marvin Olasky, on the other hand, had some good comments about it.  He has spent quite a bit of time approaching issues of poverty and justice from a conservative theological and political perspective.  He debated Wallis in March, and afterward wrote this about Christian engagement with the famously malleable term “social justice.”  The third point, which I’ve highlighted in bold, is really important, I think. (more…)