What is an Arminian?

Most Reformed people understand that, while the term “Calvinist” typically means holding to the 5 Doctrines of Grace, or petals of TULIP (thus a 4-point Calvinist affirms TUIP), the handy TULIP acronym was not created by Calvin himself, but was created by the 1618/19 Synod of Dordt (over 50 years after Calvin’s death), in response to 5 Articles of Remonstrance, which in turn were not written by Jacobus Arminius himself, but by his followers after his death (1609). Here’s some more history, if you’re interested in digging deeper.

There are plenty of Calvinist guides to Arminianism out on the web, but not so much the other way around. Apparently Calvinists really like to debate against Arminianism, but either Arminians don’t really care as much to fight back, or most Arminians don’t really understand or admit that they are Arminians.

So as a service to everybody out there who hates Calvinism, I have created a chart that presents the tenets of Arminians in their own original words (most Calvinists fail to hide their contempt when they attempt to describe Arminianism). Here you go, and stick around after the table, for when I give a few more observations.

Article of Remonstrance
Modern Translation
Arminian Nickname
Corresponding Petal of TULIP
Article I – That God, by an eternal, unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ, his Son, before the foundation of the world, hath determined, out of the fallen, sinful race of men, to save in Christ, for Christ’s sake, and through Christ, those who, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, shall believe on this his Son Jesus, and shall persevere in this faith and obedience of faith, through this grace, even to the end; and, on the other hand, to leave the incorrigible and unbelieving in sin and under wrath, and to condemn them as alienate from Christ, according to the word of the Gospel in John iii. 36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,” and according to other passages of Scripture also.
This is how election works: After considering the plan for salvation, God said “I elect that the way to be saved is to have faith (and persevere) — wait a minute, I almost forgot, I’m omniscient! I know who will believe — that’s who gets to be saved.”
Conditional Election
Unconditional (and Particular) Election
Article II – That, agreeably thereto, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, died for all men and for every man, so that he has obtained for them all, by his death on the cross, redemption, and the forgiveness of sins; yet that no one actually enjoys this forgiveness of sins, except the believer, according to the word of the Gospel of John iii. 16: “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”; and in the First Epistle of John ii. 2: “And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only. but also for the sins of the whole world.”
Jesus’s death obtained atonement for all, but only those that believe will receive that atonement.
Unlimited Atonement
Limited (Particular/Effective) Atonement
Article III — That man has not saving grace of himself, nor of the energy of his free-will, inasmuch as he, in the state of apostasy and sin, can of and by himself neither think, will, nor do anything that is truly good (such as having faith eminently is); but that it is needful that he be born again of God in Christ, through his Holy Spirit, and renewed in understanding, inclination, or will, and all his powers, in order that he may rightly understand, think, will, and effect what is truly good, according to the word of Christ, John xv. 5: “Without me ye can do nothing.”
Until God enables man, man cannot even want to be saved
Total Depravity
Total Depravity (Calvinists would agree with these words in isolation)
Article IV — That this grace of God is the beginning, continuance, and accomplishment of an good, even to this extent, that the regenerate man himself, without that prevenient or assisting; awakening, following, and co-operative grace, can neither think, will, nor do good, nor withstand any temptations to evil; so that all good deeds or movements that can be conceived must be ascribed to the grace of God in Christ. But, as respects the mode of the operation of this grace, it is not irresistible, inasmuch as it is written concerning many that they have resisted the Holy Ghost,—Acts vii, and elsewhere in many places.
First, the Holy Spirit, through “prevenient grace”, lifts man above his Total Depravity, so that he is enabled to accept (or resist) salvation. If (and only if) he truly believes, then he is truly born again (regenerated).
Prevenient, Resistable Grace
Irresistable Grace
Article V — That those who are incorporated into Christ by a true faith, and have thereby become partakers of his life-giving spirit, have thereby full power to strive against Satan, sin, the world, and their own flesh, and to win the victory, it being well understood that it is ever through the assisting grace of the Holy Ghost; and that Jesus Christ assists them through his Spirit in all temptations, extends to them his hand; and if only they are ready for the conflict. and desire his help, and are not inactive, keeps them from falling, so that they, by no craft or power of Satan, can be misled, nor plucked out of Christ’s hands, according to the word of Christ, John x. 28: “Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” But whether they are capable, through negligence, of forsaking again the first beginnings of their life in Christ, of again returning to this present evil world, of turning away from the holy doctrine which was delivered them, of losing a good conscience, of becoming devoid of grace, that must be more particularly determined out of the Holy Scriptures before we ourselves can teach it with the full persuasion of our minds.
We’re not sure about this one.
Possibility of Perseverance
Perseverance

First, note that the words of Article III align perfectly (as far as I can tell) with TULIP’s T for Total Depravity, and the original Remonstrants were not ready/willing to actually deny Perseverance. Wikipedia explains that Arminius himself felt the same way:

I never taught that a true believer can… fall away from the faith… yet I will not conceal, that there are passages of Scripture which seem to me to wear this aspect; and those answers to them which I have been permitted to see, are not of such as kind as to approve themselves on all points to my understanding.

Thus, I am willing to credit any “classic” Arminian with 1 1/2 points of Calvinism (T and P/2). The same article notes that (John) Wesleyan Arminianism goes the distance and fully denies Perseverance, so Methodists would lose half a point for that.

Second, note that the combination of Total Depravity (Article III) and Resistable Grace (Article IV) requires a significant change in the Ordo Saludis (Order of Salvation). The Reformed tradition from which the Remonstants departed started with Total Depravity, then Holy Spirit Regeneration (being born again) elevates an elect individual to the level that he is able able to do good, and since that Grace is Irresistable, Regeneration is always followed by Faith & Repentance, which then result in Justification, etc. In the Arminian framework, starting from Total Depravity, the Holy Spirit has to apply “prevenient/cooperative grace” so that an individual (elect or non-) would become able to believe or reject Christ. If he believes, then the Holy Spirit would finish the job with Regeneration (being born again), Justification, etc. (If he rejects, I’m not sure what happens — does he continue to walk around half-depraved and half-regenerate? Does the Holy Spirit undo its half-regeneration?) But note the critical difference: Calvinists say Regeneration (born again) precedes, enables and causes Faith; Arminians say that Faith precedes and results in being born again (Regeneration).

Anyways, how do you work the scorecard? We can just run through the most common denials of Calvinism:

  • If you believe that God’s ‘choice/election/predestination’ is conditional on man’s foreknown belief then you score 1 Arminian point for Article I (and you need to review what the words ‘choice/election/predestination’ mean!).
  • If you believe that Christ died for all, but only believers take advantage of the offer, then you score 1 Arminian point for Article II.
  • If you believe that man is not so Totally Depraved that he can’t recognize a good offer when he sees it, and man can choose salvation under his own free will, then you are a Pelagian — you need to read Article III again, so that you can at least you can become an Arminian while you continue to search the scriptures and become a Calvinist.
  • If you believe that Grace applied by the Sovereign Holy Spirit is resistable, then you score 1 Arminian point for Article IV.
  • If you are not sure about “Once Saved, Always Saved”, then you score 1 “Classic” Arminian point for Article V . If you are sure that true salvation can be lost, then you score 1 “Wesleyan” Arminian point.

So what’s your score?

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172 Responses

  1. So ‘bino, by my count, you are a 5-point Classical Arminian (and as you say, a 1 1/2 point Calvinist), no? The shoe fits

  2. Nope. Still just a Bible-believing Christian. You, however, are clearly an “Anti-Albinian”.

  3. Albino,

    Re: 2

    The sky is red.

    I am a universe unto myself where the laws of logic no longer matter. Shoes that fit…must acquit.

    How dare you compare me to anyone else? No one is like me.

    Isa 44:7 Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen.

    No one knows anything but me. All the treasures of wisdom and knowlege are in my head. I am the revelation of God in the flesh, walking and talking with men.

    I am truth.

    Who is like me? I transcend all labels. Who is like me? Let him confess it and I will affirm him.

    No one is like me.

    I am truth, and there is no other, I am truth and there is none like me. I transcend systems, I transcend doctrines, I trascend labels, I transcend understanding. I transcend logic and laws, rules and regulations. You have no right to claim your truth as true. I am truth, and I say there is no truth, and since I’m truth, if I say there is no truth, it must be true that there is no truth, for I am truth, and there is no other. I am truth and there is none like me. And if I say that there’s no truth, then you can’t say I’m wrong, because that would be a truth claim, and that’s not allowed. How dare you claim something I don’t affirm! I am the standard, conform to me, and I will give you rest from debate.

    E

  4. Echo,

    I choose to also label you an “Anti-Albinian”. Wear your new label with pride.

  5. I’m an Anti-Albinian too

  6. OK, so I get the point. You dislike labels; you dislike characterizing your own theology in terms of the theology of other men (except, for some reason, for Jack Hayford).

    But the labels are out there. People use them. People understand what they mean. So when somebody asks you whether your theology is Arminian, and say no, you are being dishonest. You are misrepresenting the fact that your theology includes the 5 Articles of Remonstrance which define the label ‘Arminian’. Unless your theology doesn’t, in which case I’m still not understanding your position.

    If you reject labels, am I allowed to ask “I know you don’t agree with 3.5 petals of TULIP. Do you agree with the text of the Five Articles of Remonstrance?”

  7. Now I’m dishonest AND Arminian? The labels just keep coming!

    Give me until tonight to come up with a response to your boy Arminius’ views.

  8. Oops, you caught me. I am a Bible-believing, Hayfordian, Albinian, partial-amillenial, Holy Spirit fueled, politically- conservative, anti-abortion,pro-Cowboy, Texan who is a Christian. Whew…Labels CAN be fun! Thanks, guys! Go to my website for a new youtube video featuring more Christian labeling: http://jimost.wordpress.com

  9. I don’t know why I have to keep asking this question without getting a direct answer but I’ll try again…

    Do you Calvinist classify everyone who does not call themselves as “Calvinist” to be “Arminian”?

    And please don’t answer “if the shoe fits” because that is a non-answer.

  10. daniel,

    as an augustinian-calvinist who has no qualms with any label…i would have to say…that someone who is “not a calvinist”…would have to be called…hmmmm…how’s about someone who is not a calvinist? what *is* he? i dunno. bu tif he’s not a calvinist he’s not a calvinist, right?

    zrim

  11. “There are plenty of Calvinist guides to Arminianism out on the web, but not so much the other way around.”

    yeah, why is that? is it that arminianism, being the soteriology of man, naturally tends to not be so concerned about what others think?

    and why do they tend to like every other conceivable label (social, moral, political, cultural…see albino’s litany above) except those with more serious *theological* constructs? i mean, honestly, what’s your opinion on abortion have to do with the price of tea in china? oh, opps, i forgot, we have long since linked up man-made constructs to divine truth and dumped the theological ones. sorry, i forgot.

    zrim

  12. DBalc,

    Assuming Calvinist means TULIP, and recognizing that TULIP was designed specifically as the opposite, the refutation and denial of the definition of Arminian (the five articles of remonstrance), I will say that anybody who denies a point of Calvinism is thus affirming the corresponding point of Arminianism.

    Another way to say it: you can divide all of theology into election-centered, vs. free-will centered; Calvinist or Arminian. There are other (orthogonal) dimensions along which theology can be divided (pre-/post-/a-mill, credobaptist/paedobaptist, dispensational/covenant, …) but in the essential question of salvation (and I agree with Luther that the church stands or falls on the point of Justification), I see out there only these two options, and flavors clustered around each (i.e. 4-point vs. 5-point vs. hyper-Calvinism, Arminianism vs. Pelagianism vs. Semi-Pelagianism).

    If you (or Albino, or anyone) would explain for me what a theology of salvation could look like that is not fundamentally Calvinistic or Arminian, I’d love to hear it. So far, Albino has articulated clearly how he is not Calvinistic. He has asserted that he is not Arminian, and sworn on the blood of his firstborn child that by midnight tonight we will all know his specific response to the Articles of Remonstrance. Maybe somebody could make a case that the Roman Catholic infusion model is somehow fundamentally different from Arminian model, but it seems essentially the same to me.

  13. zrim, I have no problem with calling someone who is not a calvinist not a calvinist. I do have a problem with calling everyone who is not a calvinist an arminian which seems to be what every calvinist does. Why do they do this? because it is a straw man. An easy one to destroy at that. This is also the reason that there are very few people arguing for arminianism, because there are so few arminains! But to the calvinist, everyone who isn’t a calvinist is an arminian. How does this make any sense?

  14. Thanks rube, almost answered my question. lat me try again and get a clear answer out of you. Are you saying that you believe everyone who doesn’t claim to be a calvinist is an arminian whether they realize it or not?

  15. This is the thing though; Calvinists have an understanding of what the definition of Arminian is, and when they see that spade, they call it a spade. Everbody that gets called a spade says “No, I’m not Arminian, but this is where I disagree with TULIP”. I have never heard anybody (except a Calvinist) say “I’m not an Arminian — this is where I disagree with ARMINIANISM”. I think the reason there are very few people arguing for arminianism, is because there are very few people who know what it is, and therefore very few people who know that the shoe fits! It’s not a straw man as much as a phantom.

    Maybe I should ask the question this way: what do YOU think an Arminian is? Does your conception line up with the way the original Arminians defined themselves? (See above) THEN, I can meaningfully ask you “Why do you claim to not be an Arminian? Which parts of Arminianism do you disagree with?”

  16. @DBalc 14

    Not quite. I am saying there are many people who are Arminians that don’t realize it. I am also saying that someone who DENIES any part of Calvinism automatically AFFIRMS some part of Arminianism (whether they realize it or not — except possibly for Total Depravity, which is arguably in common). There are many people who don’t CLAIM to be a Calvinist, without denying being a Calvinist. It may be they don’t understand enough theology to know or care one way or the other.

  17. daniel,

    i was just being cheeky. these questions assume everyone cares about the assumption at hand, namely soteriology. believe it or not, there are whole swaths of people who would have no idea what the heck we are talking about and couldn’t care any less. so, i could ask my brother (who is one of them), “are you a calvinist,” and he’d say, “no.” but i doubt that means because he disagrees with the “U” in tulip! what it would mean is he has no care at all about th eorder of salvation or the nature of faith. so i would be hard pressed to say he’s arminian. more accurately, he is not a christian and has no religious care at all. by calling someone an arminian you are supposing they even care about the issues at hand. so it seems to me to be safe in saying that just because one says “i am not a calvinist” it means that he is not a calvinist. we can only say what he is not in such a line of questioning. maybe he’s a muslim, in which case, like in my brother’s, the question is moot. you can’t positively say the one who answers “no” is automatically an ariminian.

    which brings me to my fundy preacher FIL, who does care. and he says he’s a calvinist. he calls himself a 4-pointer (or we could be down to 3 by now, i don’t know) and practices sinner’s prayers and alter calls incessantly. i tell him that there is noo such thing as a 4 (or 3or 2 or 1)point calvinist…those are called arminians. he bristles. i am not sure why. i love my label of augustinian-calvinist. love it , love it, love it. why an arminian cannot bring himself to call himself one, i am stumped.

    zrim

  18. well, i say i am stumped but i have some speculations about it after having spent so much of my formative years after conversion in arminian circles.

    for one very important thing, i have always found them very non-commital people. inasmuch as we are confessional types, we want to be nailed down, so to speak. they don’t. they like to call our confessions, creeds and catechisms “traditions of men.” oy. then they put together things like “statements of faith.” how is that not a “tradition of men” again? anyway, they are essentially american in this way an dit allows them never to commit. what this non-commital impulse leaves the door wide open to is all sorts of stuff, including arminianism. i will always put money down that the guy who says “no creed but the bible” will almost always be arminian. he won’t use that phrase because that would mean he is nailed down. and revivalist romaantics just hate that kind of thing because it irriates their “inner piety” and “personal relationship with jesus in their heart and life,” blahblahbrulsh. they are dominated by spiritualisms and namby-pamby religiosities of all sorts. they are anti-institutional and are like nailing jelly to the wall. and where you find this sort of stuff you will always find arimianism. GOOD calvinists want it all ‘put down on paper,’ they want everyone to know where things are. at least rome had a door to nail upon. trying to place the label on arminians in our day is like trying to catch stewart from MADTV…”nooooo, uhhhhh….you can’t do thaaaaat.”

    zrim

  19. “Do you Calvinist classify everyone who does not call themselves as “Calvinist” to be “Arminian”?

    No, I don’t. But…

    There’s levels of clarity.

    My labels have degrees.

    The more precise my interlocutor gets, I’ll do likewise.

    So, sometimes I may say “the atheist worldview.” Now, strictly speaking, I don’t really believe that there is any such animal as “the” atheist worldview.

    But in some conversations the label works and my audience gets the point.

    Likewise, to those who deny that God elects specific people, from the foundation of the world, to save (stated another way, God and God alone choses and determines who He will save), I sometimes call them Arminians.

    If you have some technicality, though, which you want to press and get you off the hook for being an Arminian, fine, I’ll move with you.

    Ultimately, my labels boild down to two: right and wrong.

    So, even if some avoid the Arminian label, they’re still wrong in the areas we’re talking about.

    I think we should care more about whether we’re wrong than whether we’re labeled X.

  20. I agree completely we should care more about being right and wrong then being labeled X, but the problem is that those labels are so damning. the worst of them all, in my opinion, are the ones we are talking about, ‘calvinist’ and ‘arminian’. Why? because they prohibit productive fellowship between Christians. They divide the church. the assumption that because an individual chooses not to take the same label as you makes them wrong is the reason for so much discord in the Church. If I’m not mistaken, Christ is not divided. If you are a recent reader you probably would label me, “arminian”, but if you really knew me you wouldn’t think that at all. I’ve mentioned on multiple occasions that I believe in TULIP. If staunch Calvinist and rabid anti-Calvinist can get over their labels, or at least choose to cooperate with someone of a differing label we could see an explosion in the church unlike any before.

  21. BTW can i get an ID on zrim?

  22. Hey everybody, just to let you know, zrim has followed me over to my place from some other blogs I have commented on lately, mostly This Millenial Life (which is not zrim’s blog — I don’t think zrim has a blog of his own — he’s kind of like Echo (but much shorter-winded!))

    As a coincidence, zrim goes to the same (CRC) church as my grandpa! Small world!

    Welcome zrim!

  23. Albino,

    Re: 4

    As the newest member of the Anti-Albinian party, here is my confession.

    1. There is only one message of Scripture.

    2. There is only one gospel.

    3. Ecstatic utterances are heretical fantasies.

    4. I shall not compromise, God help me.

    E

  24. Daniel,

    Re: 9

    Yep.

    Or Roman.

    Or Pagan.

    And each of those have their own subcategories of course. For example, a Franciscan monk is not a Dominican monk, but they’re both Roman. Or a Buddhist is not a Hindu, but they’re both pagan. And I really find that Romans are a sub-group of pagans, so yeah.

    But note that Arminians can be Christians, can be saved. Being Arminian doesn’t mean you can’t be saved. Arminians are not pagans.

    E

  25. Rube,

    Re: 16

    Arminians also deny total depravity. Their conception of depravity is not really total. It’s mostly depraved, not totally depraved. That’s why they think they can act in faith and choose Christ prior to regeneration. That’s specifically a denial of total depravity.

    Now, there might be some that object to this, but the fact is, total depravity is OUR doctrine, not yours. That means we get to define it. And if you don’t agree with us, then you disagree and reject our doctrine. Is that simple enough?

    So yeah, I don’t care what anyone says, Arminians ALL deny total depravity, though they may affirm relative depravity, or some such illogical, irrational, nonsensical thing like that.

    E

  26. Zrim,

    Re: 17

    It’s exactly the same as the homosexuals who want us to accept them. They don’t want to insist that heterosexuality is wrong, they just want us to accept that they’re legitimate.

    Most times when people are in unrepentant sin, they want everyone else to affirm them in their sinfulness. They aren’t usually interested in telling us we’re wrong, they only demand that we not say that they’re wrong. They tend to say that we’re mean and arrogant for claiming that they’re wrong, because, after all, we don’t have the right to tell them they’re wrong. But by the same token, they don’t extend us the same privilege, because they insist that we’re wrong too when we say that they’re wrong. They insist that no one can know for sure what is right, so no one is allowed to say what’s right. Daniel and Albino have argued this way repeatedly. It’s easy to see how they’re really attacking the Scriptures when they do this. They’re really deliberately trying to water down OUR beliefs. They want us to compromise our beliefs. It makes them feel better about themselves.

    I have a homosexual uncle whom I visited recently. He knows I’m a seminary student. At some point my wife mentioned having bad knees, and he replied that she was too young to have bad knees, and that it must be the result of too much kneeling in prayer. Don’t go pray, he said, come have a drink instead. That is the sinful nature making itself clearly made known. Sin demands that everyone around me not say that sin is sin. It demands that everyone around them compromise their beliefs and never repeat the Words of God, and never claim that anything is right and true.

    But the Bible says “these words are trustworthy and true”. We don’t compromise and shouldn’t compromise. Sin demands that we compromise. Sinful people will always ask us to compromise. And most of the time we either compromise or pay a heavy price for it. They aren’t interested in accepting everyone. They’re interested in forcing YOU to accept THEM. They have no intention of accepting you just as you are. You’re too polemical, too arrogant for their more sophisticated and superior tastes.

    Blech! All I can say is, get away from me. I’m not going to compromise, God help me. So quit asking and demanding that I do. I won’t, Lord willing. So just get away from me. Go.

    E

  27. Zrim,

    Re: 18

    Exactly.

    E

  28. Daniel,

    Re: 20

    If you really believed in TULIP, you couldn’t possibly say that anyone’s salvation actually depends on my acceptance of Arminians. Are you SERIOUS? Are you sure you know what the U stands for that you’re supposedly affirming? So if we can all get along, the church would explode? Well, if the Roman church is any indication, numbers means NOTHING.

    By the way, just for the record, there’s WAY, WAY more to Calvinism than TULIP. Just thought I’d throw that out there. Canons of Dordt were not exhaustive nor meant to be. They were only answering specific errors.

    E

  29. Echo #25 — that’s what I thought too, but the original articles of remonstrance seem to avoid that error with a very strong statement on Total Depravity. Thus they have to span the gap between depravity and ability to believe unto salvation with the Holy Ghost’s prevenient, assisting, cooperative, resistable grace, separate from the Holy Ghost’s post-faith regeneration.

    Of course, that’s just the classical Arminians. I have no idea how closely current popular or academic Arminian theology conforms to the original.

  30. Daniel, Re: 20,

    “I agree completely we should care more about being right and wrong then being labeled X, but the problem is that those labels are so damning. the worst of them all, in my opinion, are the ones we are talking about, ‘calvinist’ and ‘arminian’. Why? because they prohibit productive fellowship between Christians. They divide the church. the assumption that because an individual chooses not to take the same label as you makes them wrong is the reason for so much discord in the Church. If I’m not mistaken, Christ is not divided. If you are a recent reader you probably would label me, “arminian”, but if you really knew me you wouldn’t think that at all. I’ve mentioned on multiple occasions that I believe in TULIP. If staunch Calvinist and rabid anti-Calvinist can get over their labels, or at least choose to cooperate with someone of a differing label we could see an explosion in the church unlike any before.”

    My take is that unity will come through debates. That’s a means God will use to unify us.

    We can’t just pretend that someone’s false views are okay, just so we can put up a facade of unification. Is it really unification if people really believe others are in error, but just pretend it doesn’t exist? Sounds like hypocrasy.

    I think it’s ridiculous to minimize us by saying that our only problem is that someone chooses “not to take the same label as us.”

    If someone wants to use a different label for the same propositions that I affirm, fine.

    But my debate isn’t over labels. It’s over theologically and philosophically absurd beliefs.

    Our problem, from my perspective, is that people dishonor the Lord and His Word. I am of the opinion that a Christian *wants* to know when he’s wrong. Shoot, I do. If someone thinks I’m holding to false doctrine, please, tell me! Now, if you just want to be left alone, not have your beliefs challenged, then stay on the similac.

    Anyway, a false unity is no unity at all. Certainly Christians shouldn’t be peacebreakers, but we likewise shouldn’t be peacefakers. I’m not going to pretend all is well when I see a major hole in the fence of Christianity.

    Now, for convenience sake, I’ll use labels. Rather than say, “I believe the beliefs A, B, C, D,… n, are wrong,” I’ll say, “I believe Arminianism is wrong, etc.” Imagine if we discarded *all* labels? How long would it take you to mention a system of beliefs you thought wrong, was wrong. It’d take an hour (or more) just to tell people about the position you disagreed with.

    Anyway, I’d drop this rant on the whole label thing. It’s actually not productive and profitable for the conversation. You see, your rant on labels, ironically, undercuts your above position.

    You label me (and my kind) as “labelers.” While yo’re labeled as a “non-labeler.” So, if you’re really interested in dropping the labels and categories, try taking the log out of your own eye.

    Or, you could just agree that these things are inevitable, use the labels, and then make the appropriate moves once your interlocutor specifies his position more.

  31. Rube,

    Re: 29

    You’ve a point, but they’re totally inconsistent and irrational. Anyway, today’s Arminians like Albino, wouldn’t want to affirm total depravity. Not really. Even this remonstrance business affirms it on the one hand and denies it on the other.

    The sky is definitely blue! How dare you accuse me of saying that it’s red or anything of the kind! Isn’t the sky a lovely shade of pinkish maroon today?

    E

  32. Wacky,

    Re: 30

    *standing ovation*

    E

  33. You’ve a point, but they’re totally inconsistent and irrational. Anyway, today’s Arminians like Albino, wouldn’t want to affirm total depravity. Not really. Even this remonstrance business affirms it on the one hand and denies it on the other.

    Well yeah, that’s because they’re wrong. But I was surprised to see in the original articles an attempt to affirm Total Depravity. Today most uninformed lay-christians, if you press them, would probably reveal they are semi-Pelagian (not affirming Total Depravity, but rather believing that man’s free will is enough to take the first step of belief). And the reason they are like this is because (a) it’s a natural man-centered, rationalist gospel, (b) this is exactly what they hear preached because this is what their pastors believe, or (c) “more” consistent Arminians don’t spell out the doctrine of prevenient vs. regenerating grace, but just throw rocks at unconditional election (“forced love sucks”), so hearers are left with a Semi-pelagian impression. Here’s the kind of statement teaching I’m talking about:

    total depravity is a pretty solid idea, though Calvin should have left room for God’s sovereignty to provide for us to respond positively or negatively to God’s wooing.

  34. You really know how to push my buttons. What part of “God is not willing that any should perish but that all come to repentance” don’t you understand? Jesus wept over Jerusalem, saying how much he longed to hold them in his arms BUT THEY WERE NOT WILLING.

    Matthew 23:37
    “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, BUT YOU WERE NOT WILLING.”

    Why are you so myopic that you only see the texts that fit your system, and fail to recognize a Jesus who WEEPS FOR ALL THE LOST AND LONGS TO GATHER THEM IN HIS ARMS? Is Jesus not all-powerful? Can’t he FORCE THEM to be willing? Can’t He MAKE THEM love him? Sure. BUT WE ARE NOT ROBOTS AND PUPPETS!!!!!!!!

    Jesus died for the sins of THE WORLD!!! And the argument that there is a warehouse full of unused atonement is as weak as Oklahoma coffee! God is not wringing his hands in frustration at those who reject Him, because He knows the future. IT STILL GRIEVES AND HURTS HIM, though.

    Your system is flawed, because it is fatalistic and deterministic, and ignores a myriad of Bible passages that shows you God’s heart for ALL of the lost.

    Man, why do I let you push my buttons…I’m still buried in study here, but I just couldn’t help peeking into this blog….

    I’ll be back with more shortly.

  35. Was God grieved that Pharaoh was not willing? Clearly, explicitly, God elected to harden Pharaoh’s heart, and then punished Pharaoh for his hard heart. Just so with all that are not willing (such as all of Jerusalem) — they are not willing because God elected to give them hard hearts. He has mercy on whom he has mercy, and he hardens whom he will harden.

    That has nothing to do with whether God grieves over sin. God hates sin; God grieves over rejection. That’s why he judges them with damnation.

  36. You are ignoring the “longed to gather you together” part. Clearly, Jesus desire is to gather them together. Jesus is weeping. He wants them to be willing. But they are NOT WILLING. You don’t make any sense if you say that he MADE them not willing, because that’s clearly not His heart here. We’re not talking about Pharaoh right now; deal with this passage. Is Jesus not sovereign? Is Jesus not all-powerful? Could he not FORCE THEM to be willing? Here is a text that goes directly against your system and you MUST DEAL WITH IT. Could it be that Jesus really is “not willing that any should perish”?

  37. In the famous words of Vizzini here is my answer:

    As I told you, it would be absolutely, totally, and in all other ways inconceivable.

    So in the equally famous words of Inigo Montoya

    I do not think it means what you think it means

    I told you before you read the Bible atomistically and here is a perfect example of it:

    We’re not talking about Pharaoh right now; deal with this passage.

    You can’t do that. You have to take ’em all together. Including this one:

    Mark 4:9-13 And he said, He who has ears to hear, let him hear. And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.

  38. No, Bruce, you are making my point for me. It is you who refuse to understand the Scripture outside your airtight theological system. I have already said that I don’t believe that God fits your neat little TULIP matrix. I believe that there is a natural tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s choice that is ultimately inexplicable. But, unfortunately for you, the burden of proof is yours, because your system claims to be able to reconcile the entire Bible to your (and your boy, Calvin’s)system.

    So, you MUST come to grips with Jesus, when he clearly weeps and grieves that they were NOT WILLING to be held in His arms.

    Could it be that Jesus’ heart really is to save the lost…ALL the lost? Could it be that He really doesn’t want ANY to perish but ALL to come to repentance? Could it be that in His sovereignty and love, He has given us a choice to accept or reject his loving arms? Hmmmm…

    To quote Fred Flinstone: “Yaba-dabba-doo”

  39. Albino,

    “You really know how to push my buttons. What part of “God is not willing that any should perish but that all come to repentance” don’t you understand? Jesus wept over Jerusalem, saying how much he longed to hold them in his arms BUT THEY WERE NOT WILLING.”

    1. All Calvinists agree that they were not willing.

    2. The second point, in the form of a question, is: do you recognize the Calvinist distinction between the two wills of God. And, if so, can you accurately prsent said view and show how it does not resolve the alleged tension you see within Reformed thought and those passages?

    Thanks,

    ~Wacky

  40. btw,

    3. If they were “willing” to “come to Jesus” would then that not mean that the Father had drawn them? If so, how would you resolve the arguments that Ruben and I gave in the “Guest Post” thread? I ask because you’ve left them unanswered.

    4. Can you succinctly lay out and explain the compatibilist position of “free will?” Then, after that, can you please show how compatibilism doesn’t satisy the “willing” part of your argument?

    5. If you don’t do these things is it fair to say that you’re ignorant of Calvinist theology and philosophy? If so, is it too much to ask that you spend a few months studying the issues before making outlandish claims in comboxes?

  41. Wacky (and any new person who want to join the fray — gee, I take one on, then two, then three — yeehaaaa!),

    Let’s back up. Jesus said “How I longed to hold you in my arms, but you were not willing.” Your problem here is that Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords IS NOT FORCING them to embrace Him. He clearly is not hardening their hearts, while at the same time grieving that they ARE NOT WILLING. Put away your fog machines and deal with the problem here, as regards your system of theology.

    Isn’t it possible that you have misunderstoon the heart of Jesus as regards the lost?

  42. Your system would create a bipolar Jesus in this passage — not “drawing them”, thereby making it impossible for them to embrace Him, then grieving over their not being willing. Do you understand your problem here?

  43. Albino,

    So I’m now to assume you have no desire to show that you even so much as understand the Calvinist position?

    I’m no to assume that you’re going to “willingly” :-) choose to not “study and show thyself approved?”

    You wrote: “Let’s back up. Jesus said “How I longed to hold you in my arms, but you were not willing.” Your problem here is that Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords IS NOT FORCING them to embrace Him.”

    How is it my “problem” when I don’t think Jesus “FORCES” someone to embrace him.

    So, maybe you’ll take me up on the questions I asked above. I didn’t type them to see myself type. I think they’re helpful.

    No you can continue to grope around, like Homer’s Cyclops, for an anrgument against my position, but all you’ve managed to do is simply knock over straw men. C’mon, that’s not so tough, anyone can do that.

    Question: How is publicly misrepresenting a position not a form of lying?

    Now, you can get out of that question by saying you’re not trying to misrepresent my position.

    This rejoinder, though, has the unfortunate consequence of implicitly admitting that you don’t understand my position.

    So, which is it? Are you lying about Calvinism, or do you not understand it.

    If you don’t understand it, isn’t the wise thing to do to pipe down, take a few months to study, and then come back in fully aware?

  44. “Jesus wept over Jerusalem, saying how much he longed to hold them in his arms BUT THEY WERE NOT WILLING.”

    So let me get this straight:

    1. Jesus, the Sovereign King of Kings, desired to do something, but could not. He could not because they would not. So, God’s grace and power to save is *dependant* upon the will of man, correct?

    2. Let’s provide Calvinistic *exegesis.* (Note: we’ve not seen an *exegesis* from you, but apparently you think these passages need to exegesis or explanation. For you, it just couldn’t be the case that you’re eisogetically reading the passage. Isn’t that special.)

    The Verse

    “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.

    Context

    Jesus is talking to Jews. Jesus is proclaiming judgment upon the leaders of the Jews.

    Jesus says, “Jerusalem.” It’s assumed by Albino that this represents individual Jews who are capable of resisting the work of Christ.

    But where’s the argument that warrants the leap from “Jerusalem” to “individual Jews?” This has been lacking.

    Furthermore, this does not support a universal undersatnding of man. Jesus is speaking to Jewish leaders, not all people.

    Jesus is condemning Jewish leaders:

    1. It is to the Jewish leaders that God sent his prophets.

    2. It is the Jewish leaders who killed the prophets and those sent to them.

    3. Jesus speaks of “your children,” differentiating those to whom he was speaking from those he wished to “gather.”

    4. The context, then, refers to the Jewish leaders.

    The Exegesis

    Note the devistating fact which demolishes an Arminian understanding of the text:

    The one’s Jesus desires to gather ARE NOT the one’s who “were not willing!!”

    Jesus spoke to the leaders ABOUT their children that they, the leaders, would not allow Jesus to “gather” them.

    Hence Jesus was not seaking to gather the leaders, but their children.

    The children were hindered by the Jewish leaders from hearing about Christ.

    The “you would not” is referring to the same men indicated by the context: The Jewish leaders who were unwilling to allow those under their authority to hear the proclamation of the gospel.

    Earlier we read in Matt. 23:13

    “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”

    John Gill comments:

    ***QUOTE***

    That the persons whom Christ would have gathered are not represented as being unwilling to be gathered; but their rulers were not willing that they should. The opposition and resistance to the will of Christ were not made by the people, but by their governors. The common people seemed inclined to attend the ministry of Christ, as appears from the vast crowds which, at different times and places, followed him; but the chief priests and rulers did all they could to hinder the collection of them to him; and their belief in him as the Messiah, by traducing his character, miracles, and doctrines, and by passing an act that whosoever confessed him should be put out of the synagogue; so that the obvious meaning of the text is the same with that of verse 13, where our Lord says, Wo unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in; and consequently is no proof of men’s resisting the operations of the Spirit and grace of God, but of obstructions and discouragements thrown in the way of attendance on the external ministry of the word.

    ***END QUOTE***

    And therefore we can see that when one actually inspects the Word in a more thorough manner than mere surface reading, this passage is a far cry from even remotely proving Arminian assumptions.

    We can see ho sloppy the Arminian is. It is *clear* that those who Jesus wanted to gather WERE NOT the one’s “unwilling.” But above Albino writes,

    “You are ignoring the “longed to gather you together” part. Clearly, Jesus desire is to gather them together. Jesus is weeping. He wants them to be willing. But they are NOT WILLING.”

    And so we can easily see that his reading is flatly contradicted by what the text says.

    Could it be that such obvious mistakes are made because Albino is reading the Bible through his Arminian glasses?

    Albino, I’d ask you to retract your mishandeling of the text, study Calvinism, the Bible, and compatibilism a bit more and, if you’re still not convinced, come back and debate with at least a modicum of understanding regarding the issues.

    thanks,

    Wacky

  45. whoa, I was absent for a day and I have a lot of catching up to do. but here is a quick snip it of my labeling rant. I think it was because I assumed those labeling non calvinist “arminian” were baisically saying that they can’t be saved or aren’t genuine christians. Why would I think that? maybe it’s because Echo made it really clear that arminian view points believe in salvation by works therefore are a false gospel and are therefore no gospel at all. But then he comes out on post #24 “But note that Arminians can be Christians, can be saved. Being Arminian doesn’t mean you can’t be saved.”

    I’m sorry I am confused. Echo please distinguish how Arminians can be saved by believing in a false gospel.

  46. Albino, I can talk about Pharaoh and Jerusalem at the same time, since they are in the same situation. God(&Jesus) elected to harden all nonelect hearts, and Jesus(&God) grieve at the hardness of all nonelect hearts, and at judgment day, Jesus(&God) will judge all nonelect to eternal hellfire.

    The trinity also elected that Jesus would be humbled by the incarnation, tortured, and crucified, and during the torture & crucifixion, I’m sure that Jesus was a smidge unhappy (perhaps even grieved), and that God and the Holy Spirit were grieving with him.

    Even if I grant an Arminian framework, God created a world in which he KNEW men would sin and grieve him, and yet he went ahead and created the world anyways. He created a world that he KNEW would grieve him so much that he would regret making it, and he made it anyways. Even an Arminian can’t deny that God purposes and does things in his grand plan for the universe that cause grief for himself.

  47. As fun as this is, ganging up on a hapless Arminian-in-denial, I think it is more important that Albino become a card-carrying, self-professing Arminian by taking a close look at what it means to be an Arminian, and realizing that the shoe fits. So let’s give him a break.

    Even more important than that is that we give Albino time to faithfully prepare to deliver the Word to his congregation tomorrow morning! (And after that, something tells me playoff NFL will take priority over studying the fundamentals of Arminianism…)

  48. Rube,

    Re: 33

    You’re exactly right. You’ve hit the nail right on the head. What it amounts to is an error of apologetics. Rather than being Vantilian, they are classical in their approach. The classical and/or evidentialist approach is HUGE these days, so much so that nearly everyone who hasn’t really studied Van Til et al carefully has succumbed to it. Whether it’s “Intelligent Design” on the one hand, or RC Sproul on the other rehashing Aristotle, it all amounts to the same thing: the magisterial use of reason. The magisterial use of reason is contrasted with the ministerial use of reason. The magisterial use is when reason is allowed to govern, while the ministerial use is when reason is utilized but doesn’t govern. Of course we can’t get away from using reason, but we can be careful to allow the Scriptures, by faith, to lead the way, rather than reason. Reason, after all, has limits, and our use of it is tainted by sin. That’s why we have to START with the Bible, and then and only then make use of reason. The truths of the Bible must be allowed to govern, because there are plenty in there that we would not come up with via reason. We cannot first imagine God in a particular way and then let him speak to us. Rather we must let him speak to us, and let his words guide our conception of him. We must be content for him to reveal himself to us, so that he is in control of the knowledge we gain from the encounter. We have have an epistemology of hearing, not seeing. I’m sure your dad would be happy to elaborate on these themes, as he just sat through the same class I did, which was extremely enlightening.

    E

  49. Albino,

    Re: 34

    Why do you insist so vehemently that it’s either man as autonomous or man as puppet and that there are no other options? Why do you continue to do that? You make me feel like you aren’t even reading what so many of us have spent so many long hours trying to explain to YOU personally because we want you to at least understand the view you’re rejecting.

    Look, the WCF is at the VERY least a Calvinistic document if ANYTHING is. And it’s got a whole chapter on man’s free will. In fact, they even titled it “Of Free Will”. And in that chapter, nowhere does it say that free will is something imaginary or made up or illusory or some clever deception put on by God to trick us into thinking we’re responsible for our sin.

    DUAL AGENCY!

    Dual agency.

    Dual AGENCY!!!

    If I were in the room speaking to you, I’d be (not angrily or maliciously) YELLING these words: DUAL AGENCY!!!

    I would be yelling those words to force you to confront them, to acknowledge them, instead of continuing to ignore them. I wouldn’t be yelling out of rage, but out of a desire to be paid attention to, a desire to be heard. I would want to yell it so loudly that the sounds would echo through your muscle fibers and the marrow of your bones.

    DUAL AGENCY!!!

    God sovereignly, providentially decreed everything that comes to pass, else it could not come to pass. Yet we also have free will.

    Now, either make an argument that asserts that this notion of dual agency is impossible for some reason or another, or continue to show everyone that you are deaf and ignoring what we’re saying.

    I mean, it’s up to you if you want to erect a straw man and knock it down. But you are not addressing what is commonly called Calvinism, but rather what is commonly misunderstood as Calvinism, and more learned minds call hyper-Calvinism.

    Now, I don’t care how many times Rube says that free will is illusory. If you look carefully, I have argued against that too. Fine, we’re not robots, agreed. But we are not autonomous either. We cannot act apart from God first decreeing it. That does NOT make free will illusory, it makes us dependent creatures who exist at God’s good pleasure and according to his will. That doesn’t mean that he can’t weep over unbelieving Jerusalem!

    Dual agency!

    Note well, by the way, that he is weeping over Jerusalem, not Saddam Hussein. Sure, he doesn’t want all to perish. We are his creation.

    You have two options. You can either toss your hands in the air and say that I’m an irrational idiot, or you can acknowledge that perhaps you don’t understand the entirety of the system I am advocating. However, if you think I’m an irrational idiot, it would be nice to see some evidence for it. Show me how my system doesn’t work, will you? Otherwise, for the love of God, stop and think a minute!

    Look at what I’m affirming:

    1. God is totally sovereign. That does not mean merely all-powerful. It means he governs all things.

    2. Nothing happens apart from God’s will. I.E. a sparrow may not fall to the ground apart from God’s will, as Jesus says in Matthew 10.

    3. Man has free will.

    4. God is not willing that any should perish.

    Now, if you cannot understand how it can be that I can affirm all those things without being logically self contradictory, then ask for clarification. Stop, however, saying that Calvinism doesn’t affirm all those things, because it does.

    ECHO!

  50. Albino,

    Re: 36

    Where Jesus weeps because he longed to gather Jerusalem, etc, does not directly contradict Calvinism. I might admit that it contradicts Rube’s system, or at least his articulation of that system, but it doesn’t contradict Calvinism. What it DOES contradict is your understanding of Calvinism. Understandably, you are not a Calvinist. Why should you study someone else’s position and understand it thoroughly? No one can be expected to understand thoroughly ALL the religious options there are out there.

    But if you want to know something about carpentry, who would you ask? Would you ask a plumber to explain it to you, who has read a book or two on carpentry? Would you ask a carpenter? You tell me. If you want to know what a Roman Catholic believes, do you think you might want to ask a priest to explain it to you and make sure you understand it thoroughly before you set about trying to tell him how wrong he is?

    I have proven that you don’t understand at least the classical reformed position, because you keep saying that it’s saying something other than what it’s saying. You say that we say that the answer is X, but we say that it is Y. But then you go on to talk about all the consequences of X, and proceed to reject the classic reformed articulation of the Christian faith. But you aren’t rejecting Y. You haven’t even addressed it. You’ve only addressed X, and then presumed to think that you have defeated the classic reformed position.

    Don’t do that anymore. Please.

    ECHO!

  51. Albino,

    Re: 38

    I am frustrated.

    2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

    Here is John Calvin’s commentary on this verse:

    Not willing that any should perish. So wonderful is his love towards mankind, that he would have them all to be saved, and is of his own self prepared to bestow salvation on the lost. But the order is to be noticed, that God is ready to receive all to repentance, so that none may perish; for in these words the way and manner of obtaining salvation is pointed out. Every one of us, therefore, who is desirous of salvation, must learn to enter in by this way.
    But it may be asked, If God wishes none to perish, why is it that so many do perish? To this my answer is, that no mention is here made of the hidden purpose of God, according to which the reprobate are doomed to their own ruin, but only of his will as made known to us in the gospel. For God there stretches forth his hand without a difference to all, but lays hold only of those, to lead them to himself, whom he has chosen before the
    foundation of the world.

    Mat 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!

    John Calvin:

    How often would I have gathered together thy children. This is expressive of indignation rather than of compassion. The city itself, indeed, over which he had lately wept, (Luke 19:41,) is still an object of his compassion; but towards the scribes, who were the authors of its destruction, he uses harshness and severity, as they deserved. And yet he does not spare the rest, who were all guilty of approving and partaking of
    the same crime, but, including all in the same condemnation, he inveighs chiefly against the leaders themselves, who were the cause of all the evils. We must now observe the vehemence of the discourse. If in Jerusalem the grace of God had been merely rejected, there would have been inexcusable ingratitude; but since God attempted to draw the Jews to himself by mild and gentle methods, and gained nothing by such kindness, the criminality of such haughty disdain was far more aggravated. There was likewise added unconquerable obstinacy; for not once and again did God wish to gather them together, but, by constant and uninterrupted advances, he sent to them the prophets, one after another, almost all of whom were rejected by the great body of the people.
    As a hen collecteth her brood under her wings. We now perceive the reason why Christ, speaking in the person of God, compares himself to a hen. It is to inflict deeper disgrace on this wicked nation, which had treated with disdain invitations so gentle, and proceeding from more than maternal kindness. It is an amazing and unparalleled instance of love, that he did not disdain to stoop to those blandishments, by which he might tame rebels into subjection. A reproof nearly similar is employed by Moses, that God, like an eagle with outspread wings, (Deuteronomy 32:11,) embraced that people. And though in more than one way God spread out his wings to cherish that people, yet this form of expression is applied by Christ, in a peculiar manner, to one class, namely, that prophets were sent to gather together the wandering and dispersed into the bosom of God. By this he means that, whenever the word of God is exhibited to us, he opens his bosom to us with maternal kindness, and, not satisfied with this, condescends to the humble affection of a hen watching over her chickens. Hence it follows, that our obstinacy is truly monstrous, if we do not
    permit him to gather us together. And, indeed, if we consider, on the one hand, the dreadful majesty of God, and, on the other, our mean and low condition, we cannot but be ashamed and astonished at such amazing goodness. For what object can God have in view in abasing himself so low on our account? When he compares himself to a mother, he descends very far below his glory; how much more when he takes the form of a hen, and
    deigns to treat us as his chickens? Besides, if this charge was justly brought against the ancient people, who lived under the Law, it is far more applicable to us. For though the statement—which I quoted a little ago from Moses—was always true, and though the complaints which we find in Isaiah are just, that in vain did God spread out his hands every day to embrace a hardhearted and rebellious people, (Isaiah 65:27)
    that, though he rose up early, (Jeremiah 7:13) he gained nothing by his incessant care of them; yet now, with far greater familiarity and kindness, he invites us to himself by his Son. And, therefore, whenever he exhibits to us the doctrine of the Gospel, dreadful vengeance awaits us, if we do not quietly hide ourselves under his wings, by which he is ready to receive and shelter us. Christ teaches us, at the same time, that all enjoy
    safety and rest who, by the obedience of faith, are gathered together to God; because under his wings they have an impregnable refuge. We must attend likewise to the other part of this accusation, that God, notwithstanding the obstinate rebellion of his ancient people, was not all at once so much offended by it, as to lay aside a father’s love and a mother’s
    anxiety, since he did not cease to send prophets after prophets in uninterrupted succession; as in our own day, though he has experienced a marvelous depravity in the world, he still continues to dispense his grace.
    But these words contain still deeper instruction, namely, that the Jews, as soon as the Lord gathered them together, immediately left him. Hence came dispersions so frequent, that they scarcely remained at rest for a single moment under the wings of God, as we see in the present day a certain wildness in the world, which has indeed existed in all ages; and, therefore, it is necessary that God should recall to himself those who are
    wandering and going astray. But this is the crowning point of desperate and final depravity, when men obstinately reject the goodness of God, and refuse to come under his wings.
    I said formerly that Christ speaks here in the person of God, and my meaning is, that this discourse belongs properly to his eternal Godhead; for he does not now speak of what he began to do since he was manifested in the flesh, (1 Timothy 2:16,) but of the care which he exercised about the salvation of his people from the beginning. Now we know that the Church was governed by God in such a manner that Christ, as the Eternal Wisdom of God, presided over it. In this sense Paul says, not that God the Father was tempted in the wilderness, but that Christ himself was tempted,111 (1 Corinthians 10:9.)
    Again, when the sophists seize on this passage, to prove free will, and to set aside the secret predestination of God, the answer is easy. “God wills to gather all men,” say they; “and therefore all are at liberty to come, and their will does not depend on the election of God.” I reply: The will of God, which is here mentioned, must be judged from the result. For since
    by his word he calls all men indiscriminately to salvation, and since the end of preaching is, that all should betake themselves to his guardianship and protection, it may justly be said that he wills to gather all to himself. It is not, therefore, the secret purpose of God, but his will, which is manifested by the nature of the word, that is here described; for, undoubtedly,
    whomsoever he efficaciously wills to gather, he inwardly draws by his Spirit, and does not merely invite by the outward voice of man. If it be objected, that it is absurd to suppose the existence of two wills in God, I reply, we fully believe that his will is simple and one; but as our minds do not fathom the deep abyss of secret election, in accommodation to the capacity of our weakness, the will of God is exhibited to us in two
    ways. And I am astonished at the obstinacy of some people, who, when in many passages of Scripture they meet with that figure of speech which attributes to God human feelings, take no offense, but in this case alone refuse to admit it. But as I have elsewhere treated this subject fully, that I may not be unnecessarily tedious, I only state briefly that, whenever the doctrine, which is the standard of union, is brought forward, God wills to gather all, that all who do not come may be inexcusable.
    And you would not. This may be supposed to refer to the whole nation, as well as to the scribes; but I rather interpret it in reference to the latter, by whom the gathering together, was chiefly prevented. For it was against them that Christ inveighed throughout the whole of the passage; and now, after having addressed Jerusalem in the singular number, it appears not without reason that he immediately used the plural number. There is an emphatic contrast between God’s willing and their not willing; f114 for it expresses the diabolical rage of men, who do not hesitate to contradict God.

    NO ONE ELSE IS ALLOWED TO SAY THAT JOHN CALVIN DIDN’T BELIEVE IN FREE WILL, IN GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY, OR THAT WE’RE SIMPLY ROBOTS OR WHATEVER. Argue against THIS if you want, but at LEAST argue correctly.

    And for crying out loud, could we PLEASE stop talking about Calvin as if ANYONE ever asserted that he was infallible? Yeah, his name has been lent to a certain sect of Christianity, but so has Luther’s, and since the Lutheran church is so diverse, obviously none of them think him infallible either, or they’d all simply agree with everything he said.

    UGH!

    ECHO!

  52. Albino,

    Re: 42

    Again, you’re presuming the puppet thing:
    “Your system would create a bipolar Jesus in this passage — not “drawing them”, thereby making it impossible for them to embrace Him, then grieving over their not being willing. Do you understand your problem here?”

    It’s not his “not drawing them” that makes it impossible for them to embrace him, it is their sin. It’s just like Luke 24 when the disciples’ sin kept them from understanding the Scriptures, and we all experience that, don’t we? So why are they sinful? Because they were born with sinful natures. Now who on this earth has ever chosen to have a sinful nature other than Adam and Eve??? Did you? Did you come out of your mother and say, gee, I’d like to be sinful? No, you had no choice in the matter. You were born a sinner. Thus you were born a rebel against God, thus it is impossible for you to acknowledge him and worship him properly.

    And then along came the mercy of God, whereby he chose to give some faith, whereby they embraced Christ. And they understand the Scriptures according to that faith. God’s “not drawing them” is not an actual thing. It’s a lack of a thing. Yeah, he doesn’t draw them, but they’re already sinful. SIN is the problem. And even though you acknowledge that you were born with a sinful nature and had NO &%$#@ CHOICE in the matter, you still CHOOSE continually to sin! You have a SINFUL nature! So consequently, you SIN! Because you are SINFUL, you do NOT embrace Christ apart from God yanking out your heart of stone and replacing it with a heart of flesh.

    The dry bones don’t raise themselves to life. The Spirit moves on them and they rise. (Ez 37)

    Prove that you chose to be a sinner.

    ECHO!

  53. Daniel,

    Re: 45

    I’m glad you asked that question in the way you did. That’s helpful. There are two distinctions that I’d like to make.

    1. Between laymen and teachers.
    2. Between believing the right thing imperfectly and believing the wrong thing.

    First, let’s talk about 1. Teachers who teach error are in a much more serious situation than the laymen who is, shall we say, confused. Teachers have a stricter judgment. The teachers who teach a false gospel, such as Arminianism, will have to stand before God and give an account. I don’t know if they will be forgiven in the end. Sometimes I lean toward yes, sometimes no. Good thing I’m not their judge! But I can tell you that the Arminian in the pew is not responsible for teaching and leading others. If he is confused, he confuses properly only himself. He is not leading other people into confusion.

    This brings me to my next distinction. You can believe the right thing imperfectly without believing the wrong thing. (Remember, however, that believing and teaching are two different things, and in this case, the difference couldn’t be more important.) I have argued that Arminianism is actually turning the “decision for Christ” or even faith itself into a work, and so are actually confessing at least a semi-pelagian gospel. HOWEVER, God looks on the heart. Almost every Arminian will confess that their only hope is Christ, and that Christ is the one who saves them. Adding this one little work is inconsistent with that, but they don’t understand that. They’re confused. Well, it would be contrary to the gospel message of faith alone to demand not just faith but clarity of thought as well from those who believe. You DO have to believe certain minimal things, but as long as you do truly believe those things, you can be confused about a heck of a whole lot and still be alright. The Arminian laymen doesn’t really believe, in other words, that he needs to add his works to Christ’s in order to be saved. His articulation implies that, but it isn’t what he really believes. Thus, he is confused in many cases. The trick is knowing what he really believes in his heart, and only God can know that. However, based on what Arminians say, I would have to argue that it is more than likely that many Arminians don’t really believe what they say they believe. The fact is, they don’t really understand what they believe. They know Jesus saves them, but they don’t fully understand how. The fact is, you can spend the rest of your life pondering that and still not understand it fully and completely. That’s just how it is. None of us really “get it” because we remain sinful. As long as we remain sinful, sin will continue to “suppress the truth” and yield confusion. Some of us are more confused than others, commeasurate with sanctification’s varying degrees depending on the person in question. (Not that sanctification depends on us, but that it differs from person to person.)

    So while the Arminian may confess faith plus a little work, that’s not what they really believe. They really believe it’s by faith alone. What they don’t understand is where faith comes from and perhaps some other subtle things or whatever, but they’re laypeople, and we can’t expect them to grow beyond their shepherds.

    However, to TEACH the Arminian gospel is something far more serious. To teach it is actually to teach people to sin. Maybe the teacher doesn’t realize that that’s what he’s doing, because he’s in the same position as the people in the pews: he’s confused. Fine. Great. Perhaps God will then have mercy on him. I hope so too. And I think God will be merciful to ALL those who are truly trusting in him to save them. But it still does constitute a false gospel because it is not THE gospel of faith alone. Sure, maybe he’s saved and confused, but that doesn’t make it the true gospel. It means God might be merciful, but it doesn’t change the nature of the gospel. There are plenty of well meaning Hindus who really think they’re helping people achieve oneness with Ahtman Brahman or whatever. They really think they’re doing well. But are they? No. They’re doing poorly altogether and leading people into unbelief and sin.

    Here’s a question. If someone tells a lie believing it to be true, is it still a lie? Before you answer, consider again the Hindu, say he’s a priest or whatever; some instructor of the people. Now let’s say he’s very sincere in what he believes. He really believes in all their gods. But when he teaches people that there are many gods, is he lying? I think that he is lying is very obvious.

    There is but one only, the living and true God. That’s a true statement. There are many gods. That’s not a true statement.

    If I tell you that there are many gods, aren’t I lying to you?

    In precisely the same way, the man who tells people, “Thus says the Lord, you are saved by faith plus this little work…” is a liar, whether he means to or not. I don’t care if he sincerely believes it, he’s still lying. I pity him in his confusion, but he’s still lying. He’s lying to people, and it’s drawing them away from the true gospel. Such a man is actually standing in the way of people, making his words so many obstacles that prevent the listeners from really believing the gospel and embracing it fully. He is not only drawing them away from the gospel, blocking their path to it, he is leading them astray into unbelief. He is binding their conscience, causing them to have faith in that which does not save. He is telling them that their salvation somehow, in some small way, depends on YOU. The gospel says that your salvation doesn’t depend on you at ALL, and it’s actually quite emphatic about that point. The Scriptures, particularly Paul though he’s not alone, take great pains to make sure we understand that our salvation doesn’t depend on us AT ALL. So whoever teaches people that their salvation depends at least in part on them, and claims the authority of the Bible to do it, is not just lying, but lying on God’s behalf and claiming his authority.

    This is no small matter, and I don’t envy such persons on judgment day. Saying, “Thus says the Lord…” when it isn’t what God actually said is no joke. It’s a BIG deal. God does NOT like that.

    God takes lying very seriously, calling it the devil’s native language.

    So now, you may object, yes, but Echo, you’re a seminary student, and you’ve admitted that no one can FULLY understand salvation, so you admit that you will essentially lie in at least some small way when you preach someday!

    That would be a valid thing to say. But the answer is to be very, very careful about what you say behind the pulpit, or any other time you claim God’s authority. In fact, what you say should always be very carefully guarded. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, don’t talk about it.

    For example, I would never claim to understand our salvation fully. But I’ll die for this confession: our salvation doesn’t depend on us at all.

    While I don’t understand salvation completely, I DO understand that it doesn’t depend on us at all, not even a little bit. God saves US. He comes and rescues us. We are the princess in the tower being guarded by the dragon, and Jesus is the knight in shining armor on the white horse who kills the dragon and wins his bride. All the princess does is look on adoringly as her champion wins her freedom.

    We don’t call to him and say, hey come rescue us. For we were DEAD in our trespasses. Dead. Dead men don’t talk. They don’t call out to God. They’re dead. They need to be brought to life first. And what we’re saying is that God brings to life whom he wills.

    E

  54. Rube,

    Re: 46

    *standing ovation*

    E

  55. Echo, 53 is exactly what i have been wanting to hear you say but not hearing from your other posts. I don’t have time to reply in full now but I want to thank you for that answer. I will respond later.

  56. Daniel,

    Re: 55

    Well, I’m glad your desires finally made it through my thick skull and I finally answered your concern.

    Now what?

    E

  57. whooooeeee! 53 posts since i left friday at 19.

    thanks for the welcome, rube. i have lurked here before. no, i do not have my own blog. i find blogging a weird, weird phenomenon (my wife an di just had this discussion per TIME’s recent “perosn of th eyear” cover story on this whacky topic). i merely comment. blogs seem lik epeople’s private home. i break in and eat all the munchies and never invite anyone back over to my place. i hate that guy. and i am beginning to hate me on blogs. i have contemplated deleting all my blog bookmarks and get away from it…alas, here am i again. “it just keeps pulling me back in!”

    anyway, i cannoto keep up with these extended conversations. i have them also for years as my extended family is what i call REF (revivalist-evangelical-fundamental). i like to say that after 4 years of calling myself a christian i found the reformation and finally grasped the Gospel (something REF’s only think they have due to their gospel-ese and bible-babble. guess those things makes up for all the confusion–make enough noise and you can fool yourself into thinking you understand just about anything). i converted and married into this tradition. my FIL is a REF preacher, so i am all too familiar with all of this. the flat spot on my head has become very practical for resting beer on my head while i watch r-rated movies now.

    yes, i attend calvin crc (a deacon)…rube, who is your grandfather (you never answered me on millenial life)?

    rube hasn’t seen me on other blogs. rick b has called me harsh and…something else akin to harsh…and i have been also called long winded, so you are in good company echo. don’t let them get you down! he-he.

    echo, i have a gay BIL who grew up in REF circles. it’s an interesting thing to “witness” a reformed take on his sin as opposed to his REF background. of course, from my POV, his problem is the same as any other nonbeliever. he doesn’t need to “turn straight” (he can’t; i am no restorationist whatsoever), he needs to convert (see horton’s beyond culture wars).

    good to be here,

    zrim

  58. daniel asked, “I’m sorry I am confused. Echo please distinguish how Arminians can be saved by believing in a false gospel.”

    echo may have already plainly answered this well enough.

    but, for my part, you must not be overly rationalistic, daniel. the concern you have for “getting it right” is highly, highly commendable. however, as mike horton has said before as he echoes the best of the reformed tradition, we are not saved by our grasping of the gospel or by our intellectual capacity to apprehend what is alien to us. we are saved by Christ. the gospel is profoundly simple yet utterly odd to us. when we don’t “get it,” that is all right in a certain sense. if my justification depended on how well i understood the labryinth of things i would be utter lost, lost, lost! i don’t even know how two plus two really works. i know it’s four, but how can that be? my teachers never grilled me on how i understood that two is a real concept.

    we cannot attempt to overturn inward stones and call folks “unsaved” because of their bad doctrine. we can say they are not a part of the true church. those are two very different things, daniel. there are wolves within and sheep without. but the true must always be striving for the true church. is my fundy-evangy family truly christian? could be, but it’s not because they say they are. i tend to be optimistic and consider them true but a part of a false church. i do not know the status of any man’s soul, only what he professes and how he lives, whether he is a member of a true church or a false one.

    like i said above, arminians very much tend to not be committal people. they hate forms. yet when they start taling they sure sound to me like the group being condemned in the Canons. i refuse th eright hand of fellowship to them, figuratively speaking. my arminian family are very good people, smart and upright, etc., etc. so is my liberal and mainline biological family. but with neither do i find true fellowship. mean? ok. harsh? fine. say what you will, but jesus came not to bring peace but division. “there must be factions among you to know you is genuine.”

    ironically, to all you bible-believing, bible-toting, fundies and evangies out there who are absolutely rabid about “truth” in the secular sphere and allow no room in the so-called “culture wars,” why is it when you turn into your houses of worship and the four walls of cultic endeavor you cry, “can’t we all just get along?” you give no room for disagreement in the secular sphere (where it ought to be) yet when it comes to cultic endeavor you liberalize the lines and sound like cultural liberals? “calvinismor arminianism? who knows, who cares, let’s all just love jesus! let’s just believe the bible!” mormons love jesus and believe the bible! when we speak of God’s truth we must be painfully precise and clear.

    zrim

  59. Alright Echo, i still am pressed for time but I will give a brief synopsis, a play by play to try to demonstrate my misunderstandings of your points and maybe we can see eye to eye after this.

    OK I think this all started when i challenged the “guest post” assertion that, arminians preach a false gospel akin to that of the Judaizers.

    I then recanted a statement of mine that said Arminians don’t preach salvation by works. I changed that to “non calvinist” don’t necessarily believe in salvation by works.

    from there we launched into are you necessarily arminian because you aren’t a calvinist.

    it seemed to me that to be under a false gospel (as the claim was of non-calvinist er arminian) would be to not be saved.

    To try to avoid that I suggested not classifying non-calvinist as arminian. basically saying the labels do more harm then good.

    but now I understand you don’t think of them to be unsaved by believing a false gospel because it isn’t what they really believe. (OK even though thats confusing and debatable I will let it go for now)

    your main gripe was with teachers, while I understood it to be with anyone who is put off by the label “calvinist” and thus decides to disassociate themselves with calvinism.

    OK fine, thats where I see we are at and I don’t have too much of a problem with that. I think its unnecessary to judge someone by what you think they are because they choose not to take on a certain label but so be it.

    Here is the problem I have and it comes via Zrims last post…

    “we cannot attempt to overturn inward stones and call folks “unsaved” because of their bad doctrine. we can say they are not a part of the true church.”

    Again maybe this is just my misunderstanding of your semantics but to me the “true church” is defined as the elect throughout time who recieve justification by faith.

    So again I am put off by this idea that there is the possibility that there are people who “believe a false gospel” and are “not a part of the true church” and yet are still SAVED.

    How can you justify this? This makes no rational sense.

    The WCF cannot be the standard upheld as defining the true church, by your own admission, “you can’t call folks ‘unsaved’ because of their bad doctrine.”

    So then WHY think that you are benefiting the church by asserting something so (seemingly) nonsensical and contradictory?

    (Please understand my tone to be genuine interest and not inflammatory)

    Would it not be better to define believers/Christians/saved/elect/true church etc by their individual adherence to certain doctrines. ie justification by grace through faith.

    now I get that you are claiming that anyone who who submits to arminian doctrine is denying that benchmark doctrine, but by your own confession you say not everyone who is non-calvinist realizes arminian doctrine and would subscribe to it if they did. I agree wholeheartedly. So i personally shun from labeling them as arminian, likewise I shun from labeling myself calvinist. This does not mean I disagree with TULIP, it means I disagree with the beheading of people with bad doctrine.

    I prefer to be labeled a “believer” or a “Christian” or a “part of the body of Christ” or even your “brother in Christ.” Can you be a “brother in Christ” with an arminian? Can he or she actually be elect?

    This is why i am confused, this is why I got angry with some of the things I was reading. I apologize but still want to see something change because I hold to my statements that such judgments based on man made labels are counterproductive to the spread of the gospel throughout the world. We are united in Christ, not Calvin.

  60. “we cannot attempt to overturn inward stones and call folks “unsaved” because of their bad doctrine. we can say they are not a part of the true church.”

    Again maybe this is just my misunderstanding of your semantics but to me the “true church” is defined as the elect throughout time who recieve justification by faith.

    Funny (or not so funny), when I read zrim, I exactly did NOT think of “true” church to mean “true invisible church”. I understood him to mean “true visible church”. I think Echo & zrim & I (and all Reformed) would agree that the following statement is true:

    The true visible church contains both elect members of the true invisible church, and nonelect. Conversely, not every elect member of the true, invisible church is a member of/attends a true visible church.

    So what Echo and zrim are trying to say (I think) is that it is very important that visible churches be true visible churches, and that false visible churches be straightened out, and what they hear you saying is, “it’s OK to let churches be false visible churches, as long as they (can) have true invisible members in them”

  61. let it be said unto thee all…i am no theologian!! little comic relief there.

    i am sorry for confusing anyone with my “false church” language. yes, rube, the visible/invisible distinction must surely be made and i didn’t do that.

    when i say “true church” i had in mind the visible church. all we know is the visible church. we do not know the invisible. that she exists is certain. who comprise her as members, we can only observe credible confessions (which includes both doctrine and life).

    danile says, “So again I am put off by this idea that there is the possibility that there are people who “believe a false gospel” and are “not a part of the true church” and yet are still SAVED.”

    well, i am not put off by that. have you not heard some say that we will be surprised who we see in the next age? that is most certainly true. however, whilst we plod it out in the here and now, those who profess false things, while it is certainly possible that we will see them in the hereafter, cannot be extended the right hand of fellowship. likewise, those who profess along with us correct things may end up being false and we will be equally surprised by their eternal absence. bu tuntil they give us reason to think otherwise, we labor on with them as true brethren.

    it’s an imperfect world and church, daniel. you can save lots of money on tylenol once you grasp this.

    what i find really interesting is that in my former REF circles there is A LOT of effort made at upturning inward stones an dpullin gupp wheat with the tares. with all their in-house rules, etc. they seem to love claiming “who is in and who is out” via all their salvation-culture lingo: “i she saved, is he saved?” i was always ill at ease with their comfort at pronouncing someone’s ultimate status. usually, like i said, it was grounded in all sorts of stuff but never a faithful confession. of course, we reformed-calvinst-confessionalists are quite evil to them. WE sure won’t be in heaven. since, as we all know, drinking beer, watching r rated movies and baptizing babies is the stuff of satan. and if any confession is heresy it’s we icky calvinists. sorry, i realize my dander is getting up and my sarcasm serves no one.

    for what it’s worth,

    zrim

  62. that was my long winded way of saying that rube says it well, yes.

    zrim

  63. also…

    rube interprets me hearing daniel to be saying it’s ok to be a false church as long as true members are there.

    right, that is what i hear daniel saying.

    and i would then ask daniel, assuming he is an arminian evangy (are you, daniel, i can’t recall?): if it’s ok to be visibly false, what is wrong with going to rome?

    most REF’s i know have a more tribalistic problem with something like rome. “GSAP! did you hear? she married a roman catholic! gasp! or, he’s become a RC! gasp!” well, so? if we don’t care about “straightening out the false churches” you have no right to be so critical of rome.

    at least rome had a door to nail upon. evangy’s don’t in their non-formalism. they tend to be disinterested in ‘getting it right’ yet so afraid of rome. what is their basis? my opinion is that, in light of their non-formalism in this way, their problem seems more to do with ecclesiological concerns or high church versus low church. what’s wrong with rome? they are religious and formal, etc. what becomes even more ironic is that these same evangy’s tend to be soteriologically at peace with rome in their arminianism and they don’t even know it! rome still has us true protestants under anathema per the doctrine of justification by faith ALONE.

    so to all you non-formal evangy’s i still ask, what’s so wrong with rome?

    zrim

  64. Daniel,

    Re: 59

    I don’t understand your confusion, except that you seem to be blending zrim’s views in with my own. You’re attributing his statements to me as if I hold to them, when they’re his articulation of what he believes.

    One of the things that characterizes believers is that they believe certain things. There is SOME minimal list of things that you MUST believe in order to be saved.

    What do you think those minimal things are?

    I say no more until you answer. We’ll go from there. I would say what I think the minimal requirements are, but I want to hear yours first. Let’s both think about it, and really try to nail down exactly, precisely what the minimal beliefs are. Then we’ll try to agree on whether or not an Arminian or non-Calvinist or Calvinist can meet the requirements.

    By the way, please don’t say things like our union is based on Christ, not Calvin. Please. For obvious reasons.

    E

  65. Rube,

    Re: 60

    So what Echo and zrim are trying to say (I think) is that it is very important that visible churches be true visible churches, and that false visible churches be straightened out, and what they hear you saying is, “it’s OK to let churches be false visible churches, as long as they (can) have true invisible members in them”

    Profound.

    E

  66. Zrim,

    Re: 63

    They hate Rome because Rome insists that they are right.

    E

  67. i would then ask daniel, assuming he is an arminian evangy (are you, daniel, i can’t recall?)

    Daniel claims TULIP, but doesn’t want to fight about it.

    so to all you non-formal evangy’s i still ask, what’s so wrong with rome?

    Even though I grew up in the same church as Daniel (I’m only a few years older), and Daniel claims TULIP, and the church claims “Covenant” theology, my childhood impressions can well be described “non-formal evangy’s”. Peering through the mists of time, trying to reclaim my teenage mindset, I will say that I was not aware of any clear distinction between Rome and mainline denominations. As far as I knew, all such churches were full of dry boned country-club members, who valued their cucumber sandwiches, pitching wedges, business connections, robes, and liturgies (what did I know of anything called a confession back then?) more highly than the Bible and a personal relationship with Jesus.

    Then I went to college and met some Episcopal and Reformed/Presbyterian Christians.

  68. Daniel claims TULIP, but doesn’t want to fight about it.

    and doesn’t seem particularly eager to defend it.

    With his desire to avoid schism, he has the makings of a great Episcopalian.

  69. I apologize if you don’t hold zrims opinions, they were simply the most readily available and I figured since you both claimed to be “Calvinist” that you both held the same views ;-)

    Minimal beliefs. Salvation by faith in Christ alone.

    clearly an understanding of the trinity is implicit as is an understanding of the infallibility and authority of the scriptures but nonetheless you asked for minimal.

    But this is besides the point (if it had been the point you would have responded to my post number 5 on Guess who). I am sure you agree with Calvins defining characteristics of a true church: word of God purely preached and heard, sacraments administered according to Christs institution.

    I am not in disagreement with this definition, but I don’t see only Calvinistic churches adhering to these. And what I read in these blogs is that Calvinist think of every church that does not call itself Calvinist as failing to meet up to that criteria. Thats where our disagreement comes in.

  70. There is only one person arguing against TULIP (Albino) and half a dozen against him. I don’t think I need to defend TULIP from Albino’s attacks. Especially since doing so would be counterproductive to my own desire which is to diminish the factions caused by labels.

  71. Daniel, you wrote:

    “Especially since doing so would be counterproductive to my own desire which is to diminish the factions caused by labels.”

    This desire of yours bothers me. In fact, it causes factions.

    Now what do you do?

    ~Wacky

  72. Daniel,

    Re: 69

    No need to apologize for taking zrim’s views to be mine. I’m sure he and I don’t differ a whole lot on some basic things, from what I’ve seen of what he’s said. (Though he is in a denomination that ordains women, something that really drives me bonkers.) Anyway, it’s no crime to make assumptions like that. I just wanted to make clear that his articulation is not my articulation without agreeing/disagreeing or whatever. I just don’t want to be bound by zrim’s articulation.

    You said that a minimal belief for one to be saved is “salvation by faith in Christ alone.”

    So I will no proceed to analyze that. What you’re saying seems very simple and minimalist, but there are actually a number of presuppositions that must necessarily go into this statement before it has any meaning. All I mean is, these words have definitions. (I’m not disagreeing, only analyzing.)

    So, let’s talk about “salvation”. Yes, the believer is one who believes something about the nature of salvation. However, for that to have any relevance for that person, for that knowledge to have an effect on them, they must find that they have a need for salvation. In order to clarify this, I might add two words to what you said. “I need salvation by faith in Christ alone.” Without adding these two words, the sentence would not necessarily distinguish a believer. After all, someone may find that salvation is only by faith in Christ alone, but they might not conclude that they need salvation, as crazy as that seems. Maybe you don’t think this is possible. I’ll grant that practically speaking, it isn’t very likely, but if I grant that, then I would in turn ask you to grant that it’s at least logically possible, so that it becomes necessary simply for clarity’s sake to add the words “I need” on the front end of your formulation.

    “I need salvation by faith in Christ alone.” But now we have to add something else. We have to add something about the reason for the need. This too must be comprehended. It is not REALLY enough for a believer to simply believe that he needs salvation in an abstract sense. He must also understand why he needs it. I would argue that if he doesn’t understand why he needs it, he won’t really believe THAT he needs it. For example, if I handed you a used gum wrapper and said, “Here, you need this, it’s very important,” you’d probably totally blow me off and throw it away, writing me off as a fool. But if I told you that the fate of the world somehow hangs in the balance – perhaps the cure for cancer is written on the gum wrapper in microscopic letters – then you might actually see the need for the thing. Then the need becomes something you believe in. It becomes real to you. It’s not just a need I’m describing to you, it’s YOUR need. It’s internalized. So I would advocate adding the words, “because I’m a sinner.” Once we realize that we’re a sinner (which also needs to be understood in some sense as rebelling against God, which earns a one way ticket to hell) then we can understand the reason for our need of salvation in something other than ourselves, such as in Christ by faith.

    So: “I need salvation by faith in Christ alone, because I’m a sinner.”

    Now, this seems pretty good, but it still seems to lack some content somewhere. Perhaps we can add “from hell” after salvation, to denote what we’re being saved from. While I admit that this could be argued to not be ABSOLUTELY necessary, I don’t see how it can really be avoided in some way. Also, I think we need to say something about Jesus vicarious self sacrifice on the cross. Maybe we can add that after “faith in”, in order to give “Christ” some content. I’m not a big fan of having undefined concepts. I think in order to be saved, you need to know something, at least, about how it is that Christ saves you, because that’s intertwined with the nature of your need. You are a sinner, condemned to hell. Now how does Christ fix that? He gives you salvation, you might say. Yeah, but I think we can say a little bit more than that. So let’s add the words, “the self sacrifice of Christ on the cross” in place of simply “Christ”.

    So now it reads: “I need salvation from hell by faith in the self sacrifice of Christ on the cross alone, because I’m a sinner.”

    There is one more thing we need to add. I used the word “vicarious” above, and I have not captured it yet. We need to understand that Christ died for me, not just that he died. So I would add, “on my behalf” after “cross”.

    So now it reads: “I need salvation from hell by faith in the self sacrifice of Christ on the cross on my behalf alone, because I’m a sinner.”

    But now I realize that the phrasing is a bit awkward. I find the word “alone” to be in an awkward location, so that it is no longer clear what it refers to. Where can we move it? How about we move it to after “faith”? Ah, but we want to say not just faith alone, but faith alone in Christ alone, right? I’ll tell you what. I’ll add “alone” after faith, and also leave it where it is, and I’ll see how you like it. If you have a suggestion as to how it should be changed, then we’ll discuss that.

    So now it reads: “I need salvation from hell by faith alone in the self sacrifice of Christ on the cross on my behalf alone, because I’m a sinner.”

    I would also argue that “faith” could be filled out a bit by replacing “faith alone” with the simpler “trusting”. But I’ll leave that as a mere option.

    So if we adopted that, it would read: “I need salvation from hell by trusting in the self sacrifice of Christ on the cross on my behalf alone, because I’m a sinner.”

    Hmmm. Now I think I’d like to remove the second use of “alone” as well.

    So if we adopted that, it would read: “I need salvation from hell by trusting in the self sacrifice of Christ on the cross on my behalf, because I’m a sinner.”

    Yeah. I like that. I’m uncomfortable with “alone” in there. Again, we’re talking minimal beliefs here. To be truly minimal, I think we need to try to boil it down to its basics. I’m uncomfortable with insisting on the word “faith” too, because I’m not sure that you have to have a clear understanding of what faith is in order to be saved. I think faith is more than trust, but I think trust is the minimum requirement for salvation. You have to really trust that what Christ did on the cross is not only for you, but is effectual (can bring about the effect that) for your salvation from hell because of your sin. You have to trust that this will…do the trick, so to speak. You have to trust that this will work. Yes, that amounts to faith, but faith is more than that upon closer examination, according, of course, to the maturity of the believer in question.

    So I say that in order to be saved, you have to trust that Christ is your salvation from hell basically (according to our formula.)

    So here’s our rule of the minimal belief of the most newborn believer: “I need salvation from hell by trusting in the self sacrifice of Christ on the cross on my behalf, because I’m a sinner.”

    I’m open to suggestions and modifications, as I assumed you would be.

    If that’s our rule of what is minimally required, LOTS of people who believe lots of strange things can be saved. But of course, they do really have to trust in Christ. They really have to believe that they need salvation because they’re a sinner, which means that they have earned God’s wrath by disobeying him, like a child disobeying his father. They really have to understand that to be saved.

    What I completely reject is that they have to understand how this works in order to be saved. To really understand how this works requires a complicated system of covenants and federal headship, how Christ is the Second Adam, etc. But to be saved, you don’t need to know that. It can be more or less completely mysterious to you, as long as you trust that somehow, this Jesus who died on the cross took your penalty so that you don’t have to go to hell for your sin. That must be there.

    So I say, sure, the Arminian, even probably lots of Roman Catholics can honestly confess this, and thus I can honestly say that they are saved.

    Even though the Romans may pray to Mary and saints and lots of different things, they might not actually be putting any trust in those things for salvation. You may ask them how they’re saved, and they might really believe that it’s because of what Jesus did. Period. I mean, technically, Romans believe that Mary doesn’t save them or anything, but that she petitions God on their behalf. That doesn’t mean they aren’t trusting in Christ’s sacrifice for their salvation, it means they’re looking for Mary to influence God for them, to help them in some situation or something. Maybe. Sure it’s idolatrous and sin for which they’ll be ashamed when they stand before God, but they were still trusting in Christ, and thus he saves them by grace. If we really believe that our salvation doesn’t depend on us, then we have to admit this, I think.

    But if you ask an Arminian to talk about how this WORKS, they’ll give themselves just a tiny bit of credit for OBTAINING this effectual sacrifice of Christ by their one little work. The Romans too will talk about all sorts of ways that they obtain this Christ-wrought efficacy, maybe through pennance or prayers to Mary or whatever, but the EFFICACY is still in Christ. At least for some anyway. Of course, for those Romans, they must be really, really ignorant of what their church actually teaches, but I doubt anyone would argue that THAT is impossible. Ahem.

    Here’s all that matters for salvation in my mind: that you really DO trust in Christ for your salvation, according to our formula.

    So here’s the rub for teachers. Teachers like those of the Roman church, are trying to detract people from really trusting in Christ for their salvation. They’re trying to get them to place their trust elsewhere. They want them to trust in Mary, in the saints, in their own pennance, etc. They want them to find efficacy in other places, other than in Christ. They want them to trust in their own works of obedience, in the prayers of Mary, in the intercession of the saints, in statues of these peoples, or little images inscribed on medallions with words in Latin. These teachers are luring people AWAY from trusting in Christ.

    The same goes for the Arminian teacher. While the person who believes in the Arminian gospel might actually truly BE trusting in Christ for their salvation, they still might think that obtaining that efficacy is something they are responsible for. That they are not makes them wrong about this point, but it is possible that it actually doesn’t change what they are actually trusting IN.

    This is why we understand that no one can look upon the heart but God. That’s why he alone is judge. WE lowly humans have to judge according to the confession of the mouth. And God in some ways judges by that too, but he can also give that confession depth by knowing exactly what people think deep in their heart. And if, deep in their heart, they are trusting in Christ for their salvation, well, it’s ok if they make mistakes in discerning how that all pans out, especially if they’ve had low quality teachers.

    The teachers, however, are a different story. This is why James says that not many of us should BE teachers, because of the stricter judgment. While a layman may be judged by what he believes deep in his heart, a teacher, a pastor, teaches people what to believe deep in their heart. The pastor says, “God says, believe this and that…” If what comes out of his MOUTH is something other than “trust in Christ for salvation”, then he is not teaching correctly, and it becomes a false gospel. For the Arminian teacher teaches that you should trust yourself. He only needs to convince you with reason. Trust in your own efforts to obtain Christ. Don’t trust in Christ, trust yourself, who obtains him. It’s a subtle error to be sure. But if you are a teacher, you must SPEAK to people, and what you say has an effect on what happens in the heart of the listeners. If you say something other than “trust in Christ”, it’s a false gospel. Period. They have turned the fruit of faith into the basis for salvation. Reaching out to Christ as your only hope is something that can only occur AFTER you have faith. But the Arminian teacher teaches that this is actually the cause of regeneration, and thus comes prior to faith. It is the ground of your salvation, resulting in faith and regeneration. He teaches that Jesus provides the path, but you must choose to walk on it. Thus Billy Graham says things like, God does 95%, but you still have to do that last 5%. (paraphrase) This is the very definition of semi-pelagianism, a very old heresy dating back to the time of Augustine, and has been declared to be so by the church many times. Are we saying that those whom the church LONG, LONG ago declared to be heretics are actually teaching the truth? I mean, it wasn’t just part of the church, it was common consent throughout. True, the church at large has made some mistakes (obviously I believe that the early church’s office of bishop was an error, since I’m a presbyterian), but we have to believe that God in his mercy allowed them to get SOME things right at least. And since we don’t believe that semi-pelagianism is correct, and the church has called it heresy, then we too ought not to be ashamed to call it heresy. That’s what it is. To teach it is to lead others astray from the truth.

    Now, that’s not to say that someone can’t believe some heresy or other yet still trust in Christ in their heart. Believing heresy and teaching it are two different things.

    Mat 24:24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

    Even the elect, that is, true believers, can be suckered. Inwardly they’re still trusting in Christ. Outwardly, they’re still sinners prone to wander after idols, as are we all. Some true believers are naive, ignorant, uneducated, weak willed, weak in faith, etc, and they are deceived. But they aren’t deceived so as to render their salvation null and void, because deep down, they’re still trusting in Christ for their salvation.

    But it is one thing to be led astray, and another thing altogether to lead people astray. It is one thing to be a wandering sheep, another to be a wolf that lurs them away from the shepherd.

    Now regarding true churches and stuff, I think you’ll figure out my views when I say this: the Roman Church is a synagogue of Satan. Nonetheless, despite that it is not a true church, visibly, there are still some believers in it invisibly, who are elect and are being led astray. Ironically, though it is a synagogue of Satan, I still think it could be considered to be part of the visible church, as bizarre as that may sound. I mean, the Council of Trent declares justification by faith alone to be anathema. Clearly that’s the voice of Satan. But, it isn’t like it’s a church that hangs Satan’s picture over the door and declares it to be his church. They still claim to be Christ’s church, and they still use the Bible once in a while, and they still grew out of what once was the true church. So what it is, is a church that has embraced error. But it is still constituted a church, twisted and disfigured, but still a church in the loosest sense of the word. So anyway, there ya go.

    E

  73. Daniel,

    Re: Guess Who 5

    You said:
    “I absolutely agree that predestination and effectual atonement are easy to agree with biblical doctrines. I also find that when i sit down and talk with a Christian (no matter what denomination or camp they adhere to) they agree with those doctrines as well.”

    – Echo:
    I think this is the one that you complained that I hadn’t responded to. I don’t want to talk about the Padres, but I’ll talk about this. I find it astonishing that you would claim that the beliefs in predestination and effectual atonement crosses all denominational boundaries. I don’t even know what to say except that I know for a fact that you’re either totally full of it or just haven’t been exposed to that many people of different denominations. There are lots of people in lots of denominations that consider those to be more or less heretical. And I can almost guarantee that if you mention these things around almost any 2 Christians, you’ll probably have an argument on your hands. I don’t know what else to say about this. Do you really think that’s true that pretty much everybody believes in predestination if you really ask them enough questions? I’m shocked.

    E

  74. E,

    Well, of course he means that the hoi polloi he’s talking to say things like this: “Oh yeah, I believe God predestines us.”

    (Note: Here ‘predestine’ means something like: God predestines us to salvation because he looks down the corridor of time and sees that we chose Him. Afterall, it says that he “foreknew” that we’d do that.” So, God predestines us to do what he saw that we did. Of course we know that the people Daniel’s referring to don’t mean those terms like we do.)

  75. oh, regarding limited atonement, I have no clue how to spin that one! You say argument on your hands? Shoot, try telling any random Christian that you believe Christ only died for some people and you’ll have a fight, not an argument, on your hands.

    Daniel said,

    “I also find that when i sit down and talk with a Christian (no matter what denomination or camp they adhere to) they agree with those doctrines as well.”

    But in more than one thread here we’ve read Albino *deny* that Jesus only died for some!

    So, Daniel is either confused, or he doesn’t think Albinos is a Christian! So much the worse for his attempt at unity!

  76. Wacky,

    Methinks you’re right.

    But I would still say that most evangelicals would utter only a confused, “What do you mean?” if you asked them if they believed that God predestines us to salvation. I mean, rational people know that you can’t say that you believe the Bible, read certain passages that SAY that God predestines to salvation, and not also agree that God does predestine. However, I’ll go another step and say that I bet a lot of Christians don’t even know that those passages are in the Bible! I didn’t! I remember thinking that elect meant upright or righteous or something.

    Thus we see once again the value of lectio continua (preaching through books), because those churches where the sermons are topical, where the pastor merely picks whatever passage he feels the Lord would have him speak from week to week, or worse, where the pastor gets his sermons from someone else (*shudder*) – in such churches, the people are simply not getting the whole counsel of God. End of story.

    As a simple example, I grew up in an Assembly of God church similar to Albino’s church. Never once did I hear a sermon about any passage that teaches these things. 20 years and not one sermon. I wonder if the pastor was deliberately avoiding it, or just choosing passages without realizing that he was avoiding those passages. Never once did I hear one sermon from Romans, nor Ephesians…ugh. Only law, law, law.

    Give me the gospel out of every passage, and preach every passage, or whatever happens to come next. That’s how the Church has been doing it since the beginning. Lectio Continua stretches back since even before the advent of Christ to at least the synagogue. That’s how you ensure you aren’t avoiding anything, even though no pastor could possibly preach through the entire Bible in a lifetime. Even whipping through one book a year would take 66 years, and no one preaches for that long, unless maybe they start preaching right out of high school without going to college and seminary.

    Anyway, I got the distinct impression after a few years, that the pastor of the church I grew up in really had a stock of about 20 sermons that he simply could adapt a little to different passages. They all sounded the same after a while. No power in it. But they weren’t concerned about that. They wanted to “feel” God’s nearness through chanting things over and over again and working up the emotions, like Albino’s comments on his own website that speak of knowing God is near when you are in your car listening to music, and you feel God’s presence and start crying. Yep, no need to meet with God on his terms through his Word, you can touch God with your soul via your emotions. Or maybe the emotions are evidence of the encounter, which is purely spiritual.

    Matter is evil, spirit is good, emotions = spirit, feelings = crying, God is just waiting for you to reach out to him, hi my name is Plato, and I’ve written a book you should read called the Republic. blech!

    Now who’s working themself into a frenzy? I am, hahahaha…

    …off the soap box, Echo…ok

    ECHO!

  77. My pastor has the goal of preaching through the entire bible in his career. Just a year or two ago he was installed at age 27? So far, we’re up to Hebrews 11. BUT, he has also worked through a few small books on Sunday Nights(off the top of my head, 1 Pet, 1 John, 2/3 John?) Note that most books do not take a year.

    I say he’s gonna make it…

  78. how can a guy (albino) have such a problem with what he aptly describes as sinner’s prayers and altar call decisonism when he also denies TULIP? that makes no sense.

    my former REF preacher said of grace “give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.” he had no trouble, upon getting continually pushed like any good arminian, to finally identify himself an arminian. and the beg-and-plead sessions were a staple in those days.

    my point is that, while i abhorred his teaching an dhis basic soteriological stance, the man was consistent. if you hold arminian views (i mean that to say if you are sympathetic to the remonstant views articulated in the Canons), you OUGHT to be having beg-and-plead sessions.

    guys like albino are absolute engimas to me. they dpn’t practice what they preach.

    echo, sorry for my denom’s stance on women. take a couple of tylenol. the whole thing bothers me as well and i am looking for a way out of the CRC. long issue, no room here.

    rube, you have not convinced me on why evangy’s are so against rome. neither have you, echo. in fact, your answer that they are against rome because rome insists they are right seems way off because it asusmes that evangy’s care about real rightness. it assumes evangy’s even know what trent is all about, so to speak. they abhor rome because of its “ritual and religion.” but there is nothing wrong with ritual and religion!

    zrim

  79. speaking of sinner’s prayers and other assorted exercises from satan’s laboratory…i absolutely HATE anything resembling such atrocities.

    can someone tell me why i find them on homepages of denom’s like the OPC and PCA? (i find them on my own CRC’s homepage, but i have little confidence in the CRC anyway.)

    zrim

  80. echo saud, “They wanted to “feel” God’s nearness through chanting things over and over again and working up the emotions, like Albino’s comments on his own website that speak of knowing God is near when you are in your car listening to music, and you feel God’s presence and start crying. Yep, no need to meet with God on his terms through his Word, you can touch God with your soul via your emotions. Or maybe the emotions are evidence of the encounter, which is purely spiritual.

    Matter is evil, spirit is good, emotions = spirit, feelings = crying, God is just waiting for you to reach out to him,”

    nicely put, echo. i second your ‘blech.’

    zrim

  81. Echo, the reason you ask this… “Do you really think that’s true that pretty much everybody believes in predestination if you really ask them enough questions? I’m shocked.”

    Is because you haven’t experienced it. So instead of believing it’s possible you (with the help of wacky) dismiss it as either me teaching it wrongly or me not having experiences or whatever. But I’m telling you it’s a reality. It actually is possible to communicate to people doctrine without working from the starting point of “you’re wrong and here’s why.”

    You admit yourself that most people in the church do believe in justification by faith they just have other things that they are confused or mistaken on. I’ve found that by asking the right questions people understand the logical answers and articulate back to you what is in their heart. for instance… If I ask someone “do you believe Jesus died for just some people?” They would respond, “no way”. Why? Because they know John 3:16. So I can either explain to them (as I have seen some people on this thread try to do) that John 3:16 doesn’t mean what they think it means OR I can start with a different question… “Do you think Jesus blood paid for the sins of Hitler?” Now sometimes they might answer “yes” then I would ask, “then will Hitler be in heaven?” Now their minds begin to battle with logic. they might for a moment entertain the possibility that Jesus blood did pay for Hitlers sins and that Jesus wasn’t God enough to effectually redeem him, but ultimately after similar thought provoking questions they get it acknowledge the concept (maybe not the term) of “limited atonement”.

    I’ve gotta run right now but I’ll continue this thought later…

  82. Daniel,

    “Is because you haven’t experienced it. So instead of believing it’s possible you (with the help of wacky) dismiss it as either me teaching it wrongly or me not having experiences or whatever. But I’m telling you it’s a reality. It actually is possible to communicate to people doctrine without working from the starting point of “you’re wrong and here’s why.”

    Daniel, you’re right, I haven’t experienced it.

    I want too, though. So, tell you what, why doesn’t Ruben start a new post for you to talk to Albino about this.

    Tell Albino that God has determined who will enter heaven and who will not. God has chosen to not regenerate certain people, leaving them in a state of inability. Furthermore, Jesus Christ died only for his sheep, the elect. He did not die for all men.

    There, that’s the resolution.

    Now, let Echo and I experience it. Put your money where your mouth is.

  83. Jesus sacrifice made a potential atonement for Hitler. All he needed to do was say the sinners prayer in that bunker, thus activating the power in the blood. Jesus’ blood – potential for all, efficacious for none. That is to say, his blood is powerless until our decision for Christ is made.

    It’s pretty easy to get Hitler saved in the Arminian view. (They don’t call it “easy believe-ism” for nothing).

    The point is, why single out Hitler? After all, Jesus came not for the righteous but for sinners. I think bringing up Hitler plays right into the synergists hands.

    FWIW, I would pay to follow the DBalc vs. Albino “debate”.

  84. I would be interested as well, but I’m not sure why I should host it. Albino and DBalc each have their own blogs…

    I just want Albino to find the time to explain how well he aligns with the above Arminian statement of doctrine, before he goes on vacation

  85. You see the whole point is that it’s NOT about a debate.

    It’s a question of whether or not someone believes something.

    Does Albino believe that Jesus blood effectively redeems all people for all time or only those who are ultimately redeemed (the church)?

    Does Albino believe that it is a foregone conclusion of who is and is not ultimately redeemed?

    I’m fairly certain that he will answer yes to both those questions.

    Does Albino agree that those who refuse to believe such doctrines should be drawn and quartered and beheaded as a public display warning people to have right doctrine? Probably not so he probably doesn’t want to be called a “Calvinist”.

    Echo’s post 72 is a perfect example of what I am talking about. It’s looking for something to disagree on rather then what we agree with. one by one you deny that I believe what I believe. Why? why can’t you take me at my word? I will admit I myself struggle with the desire to debate and consequently I pick a few too many fights, but nevertheless I don’t want to alienate half the body of Christ by fighting over a label. I want to listen to a confessed Christian to see where he or she agrees with the scripture, if on some point we think differently God will make it clear to them, and to me. If we agree on the necessity to know Christ and be found in him not having our own righteousness but the righteousness that comes through faith, that’s enough for me to have fellowship with them.

  86. daniel,

    if i read you right (and heaven knows blogs just ain’t that conducive to really understanding other himan beings…i think), what you seem to desire is precisely what the confessional tradition seeks to do formally.

    it simply seems to me that when folks go at it sort of “bare back” like this we get lost in our personal labrynths.

    there is such a thing as truth. it is revelaed in scripture AND faithfully articulated in the protestant, reformed, confessional forms of orthodoxy.

    if i want to know with whom i may have fellowship it is with those who have submitted to those expressions…not the one who explains himself best on a blog, in a book, over coffee, etc.

    you ask, “why can’t you take me at my word?” and i say because we do not testify to ourselves. we susbscribe to that which is outside of us. have you been formally examined and welcomed into a confessing (VISIBLE) and true church, are you in good standing with that church?

    to be confessional is to be objective, not subjective.

    thus, if you want to object to any confessional point of orthodoxy as expressed in the reformed forms, go ahead. but don’t call yourself reformed (and just as calvinism has been rightly called a nickname for faithful exposition of revelation, i mean reformed to be that which is faithful to revelation as well).

    i think this has been the gist of what clark has been saying on his blog.

    we are the final judges, but scripture is. and how we measure what scripture says is by our confessional articulations. if you don’t like it, fine. clark has a great way for grasping how ‘reformed’ folk understand that word these days: “i am reformed. i think/say/do x, therefore x is reformed.’ what this does is make US the filter an dNOT the confessional standards articulated OUTSIDE ourselves. the confessional text(inasmuch as it is faithful to holy writ)is what we use to measure truth, not US.

    for my part, this solves any “debates on the steet or over coffee.” the question simply is “do you subscribe to the forms of unity or not?”

    zrim

  87. and again…

    we are a churchly people. we don’t race around searching for fellowship on the street corners and through debates.

    to me it’s like those who say they are “we don’t need a formal marriage contract an dall that hulla-balloo…we are married in our hearts.” in other words, “take us at our word, please.” i can tell you that won’t fly for me when my girls grow older!

    zrim

  88. at the end of the day something has to be put down on paper, as it were. just like every week sunday comes. and you have to “put your money where your mouth is.”

    those, for example, who would have us believe they are christians but skip worship or do so only when it fancies them betray the worst of this sort of approach. “take us at our word, we are christians.” then worship faithfully. thern attend word and sacrament faithfully. then flee to the bosom of your Mother, the true church (“he would would have God as his Father must also have His Church to be his Mother,” cyprian, i think). you cannot divide belief from action, despite what many seem to think.

    we are churchly, institutional, mediatorial, objective, materialistic.

    ok, now i am done.

    zrim

  89. Does Albino believe that Jesus blood effectively redeems all people for all time or only those who are ultimately redeemed (the church)?

    Does Albino believe that it is a foregone conclusion of who is and is not ultimately redeemed?

    I’m fairly certain that he will answer yes to both those questions.

    Answering yes to those questions does not mean agreeing with L and U of TULIP, because those are the wrong questions — those are not what L and U really say.

    Albino will (hopefully) agree that Jesus’ blood only EFFECTIVELY redeems those who are ultimately redeemed (that’s a meaningless tautology, because ‘effective’ is built into ‘ultimately’), but he will (and has) strongly affirm that he believes that Jesus’ blood OBTAINED redemption for all people for all time (including Hitler), and that redemption only becomes effective upon man’s free-will belief (which is exactly what Article II above says, and exactly what L for Limited Atonement rebukes). L says ALL the atonement/redemption obtained by Jesus’ blood is effective, Albino and Article II say SOME of the atonement/redemption obtained by Jesus’ blood is effective.

    Albino will (hopefully) agree that it is a foregone conclusion of who is and is not ultimately redeemed, if he is allowed to define “foregone” as “foreknown” or “foreseen”, and he will strongly affirm that he believes that election is God’s pre-recognition of who will believe and not believe, rather than God’s pre-destination of who will believe and not believe (which his exactly what Article I above says, and exactly what U for Unconditional, Particular Election rebukes)

    In other words, yes you can get Albino to agree with words that sound vaguely like L and U, but not with the doctrines that L and U actually represent.

  90. zrim,

    I assume this

    we are the final judges, but scripture is. and how we measure what scripture says is by our confessional articulations.

    has a typo in it.

    instead:

    we are not the final judges, but scripture is. and how we measure what scripture says is by our confessional articulations.

    n’est pas?

  91. bruce,

    i suppose the reformed hermenuetic of the “analogy of faith” works here to correct my mistake, yes?

    you are correct. i would hope the context in which my error lies would answer sufficiently.

    thanks for the catch,

    zrim

  92. Wow! I don’t even need to post anymore; others will speak and argue what they think I would say and believe. This is really interesting.

    As a simple example, I grew up in an Assembly of God church similar to Albino’s church. how can a guy (albino) have such a problem with what he aptly describes as sinner’s prayers and altar call decisonism when he also denies TULIP? that makes no sense.

    You missed the “bait and switch” aspect. I don’t like promising “that nobody will look at you”, then demanding that people come forward. I do believe and practice inviting people who “believe in their hearts that God raised Christ from the dead” to “confess Jesus with their mouths” and be saved. As Paul told the jailer “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” NO confirmation classes, NO mention of a long laundry list of confessions and creeds, NO pop-quiz on the solas or the tulip, just IMMEDIATE SALVATION! What a concept? And let’s not forget the thief on the cross. What was Jesus thinking giving that thief a last-gasp ticket into His presence? And how preposterous of Peter to suggest that “everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved” in Acts 2! Why do we make it soooooo complicated when the Bible makes it so simple. Ahhhh, don’t you love intellectuals?

    Jesus sacrifice made a potential atonement for Hitler. All he needed to do was say the sinners prayer in that bunker, thus activating the power in the blood. Jesus’ blood – potential for all, efficacious for none. That is to say, his blood is powerless until our decision for Christ is made. It’s pretty easy to get Hitler saved in the Arminian view. (They don’t call it “easy believe-ism” for nothing).

    Yup, just like the thief on the cross who cried out to Jesus right before death, and he didn’t even phrase his prayer right; he just said “remember me”! Why didn’t Jesus say, “Damn you to hell, you easy-believism arminian!”

    BTW, Bruce, the reason it is so “simple” to be saved is that Jesus already paid the heavy price of admission. Perhaps you already covered that big word, “propitiation” in your seminary classes. And what would you tell a sinner who came to your office and said, “What must I do to be saved, Pastor Bruce?” What would you tell him? Confess Calvin? Believe on Westminter Confessions?

    I have not forgotten my promise to respond to Reuben’s new best friend, Arminius, but I must now take a nap (I have to drive all night and catch a plane from San Antonio to Chicago in the morning). I’ll check in again in a couple of hours.

    In closing, Jesus did not just die for a lucky few (for God so loved the WORLD, not “for God so loved a few lucky reformed cigar-puffing Calvinists”), and everybody knows, including Jesus, that getting a robot or puppet to love you is ultimately NOT satisfying.

    I’ll start a thread on my blog after vacation titled, “Did Jesus die for Hitler?” Could be interesting for all of you limited atonement fans.

    Faith is not a work.
    Jim

  93. albino,

    ah, don’t you just love anti-intellectuals?

    seriously, though, al, i don’t know you yet i know you up one side and down the other. you are my whole extended family! i have heard all this before. your smarmy anti-intellectual superiority get sbit in the arse by the very fact that you oipen your mouth to engage. like it or not, al, you do have a mind and you are choosing to engage it. oops, now you are one of us. it’s ok, little fella, you don’t have to be afraid of your own mind.

    1. yes, i agree, the bait-and-switch inherent in the methodology is yet another notch against both the theory and praxis of REF theology.

    2. now, from what i can weakly acsertain is that you are an ariminian. and my point is that you oght to have your theory and practice linked up better, like my IFCA/REF FIL and former pastor do. they belive in free will, they believe “choosing Christ” is the same as chooing to make a PBJ sandwich. all folks need is the right goading, the right technique. they believe it is finally up to the sinner to “make his choice.” and if one believes that one must goad folks into “making that choice.” it simply makes sense. if one believes that God alone saves sinners one does not goad sinners to “choose” the way one chooses to buy a car. your problem is consistency.

    now, why a guy who holds basically to arminian soteriology DOESN’T goad folks in this way is what i find confusing.

    you seem to rightly apprehend that sinners are charged to faith and you call them to it. 1) that sound slike good calvinistic understanding to me, basically. we charge sinners to faith, all the while understanding at the same time that it is only the Holy Spirit that works in conjunction with the spoken Word that creates faith. no bare-knuckled, bald-faced free will about it! 2) the problem i find in your words after that are troubling: “NO confirmation classes, NO mention of a long laundry list of confessions and creeds, NO pop-quiz on the solas or the tulip.” no good reformed calvinist understands that “learning” is needed to be justified. it is free, as you say. what we tend to understand is that faith must be properly clothed and not impoverished. having spent years in your bible-believing/REF circles i know that just doesn’t register well. but we seek to clothe and properly adorn our faith with understanding. it is fitting to nurture the faith and be well rooted in the “knowledge and fear of God.” i know, i know, that sound slike high-falutin, fancy pants presby’s for ya. but to be honest, i nearly suffocated in your circles for lack of any mind or thought or reflection.

    our faith ought to be properly nurtured. th etheif, OBVIOUSLY, couldn’t do that. who is to say the jailor didn’t find a church and seek nurturance. most sinners have years to go before they are glorifed, UNLIKE the thief.

    nobody is saying justification must be added to by learning.

    zrim

  94. Zrim, said… “if i read you right, what you seem to desire is precisely what the confessional tradition seeks to do formally.

    I would tend to agree with that except for this point. I need a glossary to try to understand all of the initials you yourself (and the rest of us) use. CRC, OPC, REF, PCA, RCA, AG, RCC, UFC, DVD, NFL and BS

    Even of those who submit to the WCF there is huge amounts of divisions. All of these denominational creeds, confessions and catechisms do have noble purposes indeed, but I don’t consider the confirmation of your denominational choice as the “most accurate” (or maybe the “least wrong”)to be a noble purpose at all.

    Especially if it causes you to judge another member of the body of Christ.

  95. BTW the greatest statement yet is in post 93 where zrim calls albino “little fella” after claiming to know him so well.

    Here’s the point… You don’t know him . You judge based on your preconceived stereotypes and what you decided to label him. Thats why you are so good at being a Calvinist. *tongue firmly in cheek*

  96. Rube,

    Re: 77

    Are you saying that in the last year or two, he has preached from Genesis 1 through Hebrews 11?

    Some books, like Genesis, take, what 2 years or so? How long would Isaiah take?

    I agree Philemon wouldn’t take a year, but I had a pastor who took almost a year on Colossians.

    I mean, I guess you could fly through it, but you don’t preach just to get through it, you preach to mine it of its riches. Don’t you?

    E

  97. Zrim,

    Re: 78

    I’m sorry your denomination ordains women too. I’m glad you’re working on transitioning out. I’ll withold my comments on the evils of women’s ordination, because it’d be very long, and off topic.

    Anyway, about Rome, I figure that Evangelicals hate Rome because Rome insists that they’re right. By this I mean that many Evangelicals reject ANYONE who insists that they’re right. Today in our culture, truth claims are viewed as grabs for power. Everyone can be right. Evangelicals LOVE this concept. What is this passage saying to YOU??? The same thing it says to everyone else…duh.

    E

  98. Zrim,

    Re: 79

    http://www.opc.org/life.html

    Is this the “sinner’s prayer” that you find on the OPC website, that you consider to have come from “Satan’s laboratory”, or was it something else you had in mind?

    E

  99. Daniel,

    Re: 81

    Are you rejecting my experiential claim as a legitimate counter to your experiential claim? After all you were talking about your own experiences, and then drawing a distinction about most Christians. I retorted that your experience appears to be quite unique, and you are far from justified from making a generalization about most Christians, because I’ve experienced something completely different, and I think most reformed folk would agree.

    Anyway, there’s one little flaw in your Hitler story. Jesus’ blood paying for Hitler’s sin wouldn’t guarantee Hitler admission into heaven in the soteriological SYSTEM of most evangelicals that I’VE encountered. Most would say that Jesus’ blood actually atones for the sins of all people, but it’s up to us as individuals to accept his atonement, to take him up on it if you will. Hitler rejected Jesus, thus, even though the blood of Christ is available to him, Hitler rejected it and goes to hell. If you’ve never heard anyone argue like that, then maybe you need to just go back and read Albino’s post. Or better yet, ask him yourself if he’s making logical mistakes by rejecting limited atonement. I’m sure he’d love to talk about it with you. If you still don’t believe me, go to the nearest Baptist church, or Methodist Church, or PCUSA or whatever you like. Take a survey of the 10 pastors closest to you. I’d be interested to hear what you find out. Or even better, go hang out in church parking lots and take some exit surveys next Sunday morning. I’m more than happy to encourage you to investigate this theory of yours, which at least proves I’m confident. I’m very sure that many, many Christians, the vast, vast majority of them (remember, this is “visible church” Christians) reject limited atonement, even if we don’t count the Romans.

    And I would STRONGLY encourage you to go ask them about predestination, though I recommend you take a bodyguard.

    But anyway, this particular rabbit trail isn’t really productive, I don’t think. After all, if you’re right, the church isn’t really all that bad after all, and if I’m right, the state of the church is to be mourned. Though honestly, I think the state of the church can and should be mourned, whether or not they all can articulate these truths, because the church is a disaster right now.

    E

  100. Wacky,

    Re: 82

    Sorry to echo you in my previous post. Great minds think alike!

    E

  101. Daniel,

    Re: 85

    Are you saying that in post 72, I was suggesting that anyone who is not a “Calvinist” should be “drawn and quartered and beheaded as a public display warning people to have right doctrine”? And are you further saying that this is what “Calvinists” believe and say?

    If I did not say that, are you telling the truth? If Calvinists don’t say that, are you telling the truth? If you aren’t telling the truth, are you a liar? If you’re not a liar, what are you?

    Is there some reason why you need to appeal to emotions, in fact, why you need to lie about what people say IN ORDER to incite emotions, rather than forming a rational argument based on Scripture?

    And why on earth am I supposed to just sit here and read that and say, “Oh well. I guess he’s just utilizing a debate technique.” Were you hoping that I’d level some equally irrational counter-accusation at you? I’ve already asked you if you think you’re a liar for what you’ve said, but that’s neither irrational nor an accusation. It’s a rational, fair question.

    And I have no idea why post 72 is supposed to serve as an example of grumpy Calvinists who lust for blood, and like medieval barbarians, long to cut people to pieces and hang them up as an example for others to avoid. I have no idea at all.

    But I’m SURE that your fiery rhetoric, your deceitful, anti-truth emotion inflating will serve your purposes better. Unless of course you want people to think.

    ECHO!

  102. Albino,

    Re: 92

    Unlike our continental reformed bretheren, the Presby’s don’t make members claim the WCF as their own. Only elders and ministers, deacons. Lay members only have to profess faith in Christ and vow to submit to Scripture and the elders of the church. There are 4 vows.

    1. Do you believe the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, to be the Word of God, and its doctrine of salvation to be the perfect and only true doctrine of salvation?
    2. Do you confess that because of your sinfulness you abhor and humble yourself before God, and that you trust for salvation not in yourself but in Jesus Christ alone?
    3. Do you acknowledge Jesus Christ as your sovereign Lord and do you promise, in reliance on the grace of God, to serve him with all that is in you, to forsake the world, to mortify your old nature, and to lead a godly life?
    4. Do you agree to submit in the Lord to the government of this church and, in case you should be found delinquent in doctrine or life, to heed its discipline?

    If you can say “I do” to all four of those, you can join an OPC. Not so with the CRC/URC. I am vehemently against making laymembers sign on to the 3 forms of unity or the WCF. But they do have to submit to the elders, who do have to vow that they believe the WCF, mentioning any exceptions.

    If these four vows are all that’s required for membership, surely it’s easy to believe that we REALLY think that trust in Christ for salvation is all that’s needed to be saved. As I said in a previous post (72), you need to understand something about what it means to trust in Christ for salvation to be saved, but all you need to do is trust in Christ (consciously, deliberately).

    Isn’t that reasonable?

    By the way, your theif on the cross comment doesn’t really answer Bruce’s comment, or Rube’s or whatever about Hitler. The Hitler argument said that you believe that Jesus’ atonement is potentially effective for everyone, though only made effective when we have chosen to reach out to him in faith or whatever. That’s the part you didn’t answer, the whole potential/effectual business.

    But I might offer a suggestion. I’m not sure it’s entirely wrong to say that the blood of Christ potentially purchases salvation for everyone. After all, potential is not the same as effectual. I mean, the offer of the gospel is held out to all without discrimination, and the fact is, if the would reach out in faith, then God would not turn them away. However, faith MUST come from God. We can’t make up our minds to have faith. God has to give it to us. He has to do it for us. So while the gospel is held out to all, it certainly isn’t effective/effectual for all. The blood of Christ may be equally held out to all, but it’s only effectual for those to whom God chooses to make it effectual.

    To be mulled.

    E

  103. Last post as I head out the door: The blood of Christ indeed potentially purchases salvation for everyone…yesssssss….Welcome to my point of view, Echo! Wow, my first convert!

  104. Daniel,

    Re: 94

    You’re right. Instead of “all these creeds and confessions”, it’s a far better idea for everyone to run around believing in their own ideas. Everyone should have their own little mental confession in their mind, and no one should inquire about it. Everyone should be allowed to believe simply whatever they want, and the Church will accept them. Come one, come all, believe whatever you want. Oh, you call denominations a joke? What denomination are YOU in? Oh, are you in yet ANOTHER denomination beyond all of those that already existed? Did you too consider yourself to believe something different?

    By the way, why abbreviate “BS” as if to give the appearance of being polite, as if to hint to us that you’d really like to let loose with your words and let us know what you REALLY feel about denominations. Why not just come right out and curse us and use vulgar language for that which you have deemed to be vulgar? Why not just do that? I mean, sure, Paul said that there must be divisions, but you’re right, the divisions are a horrible thing. So you should really just form your own little thing on your own. That’s a great solution.

    You were apparently born into the wrong time in redemptive history. You should have been born long ago. Here are the days you seem to long for:

    Jdg 17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

    But of course, we DO have a king, don’t we?

    Keep railing against confessions. It’s wise. It’s far better for everyone to have whatever ideas they wish. People shouldn’t band together based on believing the same things. They should band together based on compromising Scripture. Let’s all just compromise, and everyone can believe whatever they want, as long as they believe the barest minimum it takes to get into heaven.

    After all, the Bible only commands us to believe in the bare minimum, doesn’t it? Ah, but just because the Bible commands us to do something, we don’t have to do it do we? That’s what Jesus died for. Come to think of it, I can’t imagine why there are any commands at all in the NT. What a waste of time and ink! And they couldn’t even type back then. They had to write it out by hand. It boggles my mind that they would spend such time and effort writing commands in their letters. Oh well, nobody’s perfect, including the apostles. I guess I just won’t think about it anymore. Yay!

    Let’s all be spiritual babies forever, yay! Let’s stay in diapers our whole lives and smear birthday cake all over our faces and spit up all over mommy’s blouse! Yay! Play time forever! No discipline at all! Yay!

    ppppppppppppbbbbbbbbbbbbbbtttttttttttt!!!!!

    Raspberries to you, Daniel the wise.

    E

  105. Albino,

    Re: 103

    WCF Chapt 10
    IV. Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved: much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the laws of that religion they do profess. And, to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be detested.

    Larger Catechism
    Q59: Who are made partakers of redemption through Christ?
    A59: Redemption is certainly applied, and effectually communicated, to all those for whom Christ hath purchased it; who are in time by the Holy Ghost enabled to believe in Christ according to the gospel.

    Q63: What are the special privileges of the visible church?
    A63: The visible church hath the privilege of being under God’s special care and government; of being protected and preserved in all ages, not withstanding the opposition of all enemies; and of enjoying the communion of saints, the ordinary means of salvation, and offers of grace by Christ to all the members of it in the ministry of the gospel, testifying, that whosoever believes in him shall be saved, and excluding none that will come unto him.

    So I think I’ll make a modification. The blood of Christ is not held out to all men, but to all who hear the gospel. However, the redemption purchased by Christ by his blood is only effectual for the elect, because only they have the Spirit working in their hearts to produce faith in them, by which they are justified and adopted by God the Father through Christ by the Spirit.

    So, while in the post I wrote that you referred to, it may have seemed like I was saying something new, I wasn’t. You might want to see my discussion about 2 Peter, where I said essentially the same thing. And I think what I am/have been saying is more or less in keeping with these statements in the WCF. Even my “modification” above is only a refinement, not really a change in stance.

    But if it makes you happy to think of me as one of your converts, feel free to be happy. But if you really do agree with what I said – then you may be even happier, for now you agree in part with the WCF, and if ANY document is a Calvinistic document in its fullest sense, that’s the document, so you may proudly give up your church and join the OP as a laymen and begin seminary classes, in hopes of one day being ordained in that fine institution.

    I’m so glad you’ve renounced hatred for seminaries and seminary students and for precise language and have decided to agree with the WCF. Won’t be long before you’ve gone all the way to the OP. We’re waiting with open arms.

    E

  106. Rube,

    Thread too long, lacks precise direction, losing traction, please help.

    E

  107. For the general record, let’s take the OPC as an example of a denomination that obviously simply wants to divide the church in unreasonable ways.

    Once upon a time, there was a Protestant Reformation, because the Roman church no longer believed in the gospel. This was a good thing. Yes? Then there were two.

    When the Reformation reached the UK, it caused great upheaval. After some time, the Protestants all got together and drew up one common belief statement for the ENTIRE UK. All the Protestants in the UK eventually signed on to this document, because they all agreed that this was what Scripture teaches. This document was even signed by Parliament. It’s called the Westminster Confession of Faith. When it was drawn up, it was universally held by all non-Romans in the entire UK. Just think about that.

    Then some of these Presbyterians left England to escape being KILLED by the Romans. They went to America, and formed their church there, based on their old confession, which basically was just an agreed upon statement of the summary of the teachings of Scripture. It just served as a nice way to keep track of what we think the Scriptures teach. Anyway, when they came to America, of course they couldn’t remain a part of the Scotch/English/Irish church, because they lived on the other side of an ocean. It just wasn’t practical. So they formed the American Presbyterian church. They formed ONE denomination. Very reasonable.

    Over the next couple hundred years, despite some serious differences, there was still one church, until the civil war. Then the American Presby church split along the North and South lines. A sad thing to be sure, that was righted in the 1960’s. Presbyterians take their time. But before that could happen, a little disagreement brewed in the Northern Presbyterian Church. This time it was a big deal. The Northern Presbyterian church was becoming more and more liberal, refusing even to force ministers to confess the deity of Christ to be absolute. A man named J Gresham Machen was so upset by having to pay church funds to support missionaries who didn’t believe in the deity of Christ that he set up an independent missions board. Well, the denomination, being full of liberals who wanted unity based on compromise, couldn’t tolerate Machen and his thwarting of their authority, for he had refused to give to the denomination’s missionaries, but only to a hand picked select few who actually thought Jesus is God in the flesh. A strange thing to be sure. And these Christ-is-just-a-man folks began to take over Princeton seminary at that time, where he was a professor. So he also founded a new seminary as well, to maintain the training of pastors who actually thought Christ to be divine. Well, the denomination had finally had enough, to make a long story short, and they defrocked him.

    Well, about 5 or 6 other people in the country thought Machen had gotten a raw deal, since he stood up for the gospel and the denomination kicked him out like Rome did to Luther, so they got together and formed a new Presbyterian denomination. Now, you may ask why they did this. Well, they were Presbyterians, so they couldn’t join the Baptists. They knew that the Baptists are confused. But Presbyterians feel very strongly about their form of government. In order to practice it, which is the form of government given in the NT, they had to belong to a denomination. Anyway, they couldn’t join the Episcopalians, because they had bishops, and that’s wrong. For some reason, they didn’t join the Southern Presbyterian Church, I think because they too were going liberal, or because they wouldn’t take them, or whatever. But the point is, they formed the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

    So let’s see. How many splits from Rome is that? One at the Reformation. Maybe you count one when they moved to America, although I’m not sure if that should properly be called a split so much as an expansion or missionary work. And then one when Machen got the boot because he thought that it was important to believe that Jesus is God in the flesh. Hmm.

    The first split was the result of the Reformation, and the second was because liberals who didn’t even insist on the deity of Christ being preached from the pulpit had taken over the denomination.

    I would submit that this is far more than reasonable.

    For the PCA’s part, when the Southern and Northern Presbyterian churches merged in the 60’s, they soon after began ordaining women. That’s when the PCA split off. They had had enough. They thought about joining the OPC, but they thought that they were too cool for us, then a decade or so later, we thought we were too cool for them. At this point I don’t regret it, because the PCA has some serious, serious problems that they’re having a hard time fixing. There will probably be a split there eventually.

    But whatever. My church is two splits from Rome, and both splits are far more than justified.

    So there’s your history lesson. It is not we who are the threat to unity. As always, it is the people who promote heresy that create divisions.

    E

  108. echo

    re: 98

    no, it’s this…

    “Simply pray, “Lord, I am a sinner. I need an advocate. Please, forgive me for my sins, change my heart and be my Lord and Savior.”
    If this is your prayer and you mean it, then you have been forgiven and you have become a follower of Jesus Christ. This means that you need to associate with his people in his church, where his infallible Word the Bible is faithfully preached and practiced. He says, “Take up the cross and follow me” (Mark 10:21).”

    zrim

  109. daniel

    re: 94

    you are mistaking denomination for confessional tradition, i think. i don’t think in denomination mode so much as the 3 forms of unity and/or WCF.

    zrim

  110. daniel,

    re:95

    oh, the evil of blogs!

    “Here’s the point… You don’t know him . You judge based on your preconceived stereotypes and what you decided to label him.”

    uh, yep. i hav enever taken to the notion that ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover,” daniel. you do it, i do it, everyone does it. sorry, but i find your idea that we ought to judge without a context a bit naive.

    zrim

  111. echo,

    re: 97.

    i think we just have different reads on the whole evangy/against rome thing. i see your point and it’s a good one, certainly. but i still stand by my interpretation of it as much better. it is, like oh, so many things, complicated.

    zrim

  112. oh, and echo, this is what the PCA has to say (and to add insult to injury they invoke the ‘personal relationship’ lingo),

    “EXPRESS your trust in Christ by sincerely praying the following and God will give you eternal life.

    Lord, I have sinned. I am sorry for my sins. With your help I want to turn from my sin. Take control of my life. Help me be a responsible growing member of your family in a local church. Lord, I want eternal life. I want an intimate, personal relationship with you. I want to know for certain that I will live with you in heaven forever. In Jesus name I pray.

    “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

    God cannot lie! These words are true! On the basis of His promise and your response, do you now have eternal life?

    IF someone asks you “do you have an intimate, personal relationship with God?”, what would you say? IF you were to depart this world tonight, where would you open your eyes? IF at the gate of heaven you were asked why should you be admitted, how would you reply?

    IF you truly trust in Christ alone, at the gate of heaven then . . . the Lord will say to you: “Enter good and faithful servant . . . .”

    When you trust Christ, He not only is your Lord and God, He also wants to be your Best Friend. If you truly trust Christ, you will want to do all you can to be His friend. Best Friends is a booklet that will tell you how to grow in your friendship with Jesus”

    zrim

  113. this sinner’s prayers, etc. are works of sincerity.

    some are good enough to tell you that a prayer doesn’t save you. phew, good to hear. but then they will fill in the void left by that exemption by with the work of sincerity. aw, and they were doing so well combating easy-believism by telling us that a prayer can’t do it. now we must rely on our sincerity.

    take sinner’s prayers out of their hands and they don’t know what to do. could it be that God alone saves sinners and that sinners are merely charged to believe by the pure grace of God?

    well, ishould stop myself before i rant too much and sound like some southern baptist/fundy when it comes to this crapola. orthodoxy can take care of itself without any ham-fisted help from me!

    for any who want to see what southern baptist/fundy stuff looks like go to the blog called “slice of laodicea.” here you will find those who trust in their own trust, thier own intensity. just another form of expression by those who set themselves up as God police and are running the infidels out by their own might. hey, i wouldn’t be caught dead under a dude like rick warren either, but witch hunts? these people are nutty.

    zrim

  114. Are you saying that in the last year or two, he has preached from Genesis 1 through Hebrews 11?

    Ha ha! No, from Hebrews 1 to Hebrews 11! When we joined the church, our previous pastor was winding up over a year on Isaiah (we showed up in the 40’s for the best parts), and then worked through the bulk of Acts. There is an issue of balance. Yes, it is probably possible to spend an entire lifetime preaching through even just one book, if you are sufficiently exhaustive. But that would kind of defeat the purpose of expositional preaching, since you would end up excluding the rest of the Bible!

    So I maintain that it is possible to preach through the entire bible in a lifetime, if you start young enough, include Sunday mornings & Sunday nights, skip judiciously (I’d like to limit the number of ‘Begats’ sermons I hear in my life, say one for Jesus, and one for all the OT) and keep a decent pace. Over a career of 50 years, a pace of just over 1 book a year seems quite doable.

  115. Too many things to reply to. Echo seems to have the desire to criticize everything including my attempts at levity. And thats all well and good because it simply furthers my point that you guys aren’t interested in unity of any type. You’d rather berate, accuse and condemn.

    I’m afraid that I understand even better Paul’s warning to the Galatian church “if you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

    Perhaps the most telling of all statements on this thread is Echo’s in post 99…
    “After all, if you’re right, the church isn’t really all that bad after all, and if I’m right, the state of the church is to be mourned. Though honestly, I think the state of the church can and should be mourned, whether or not they all can articulate these truths, because the church is a disaster right now.”

    I will accept that challenge 100%. I will allow for that to be the criteria of who is and isn’t right regarding this debate. You can go on believing that the church is a wretched old hag, or a a bastard infant thrown to the side of the road drowning in embyonic fluid. If that’s what you see then that’s what you see. I guess beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. But I see the church as the bride of Christ, being made more and more beautiful with every passing day. I see the Church victorious, the greatest (for lack of a better word) “institution” in the history of civilization. I see beleivers of every race, every gender, every nation tribe and tongue worshiping the Lamb of God who was slain for their sins.

    I see it spiritually, but I have also seen it experientially. I’ve been in the jungles of Peru and seen hundreds of people dancing for joy at the name of Jesus. I’ve spent a night praying and speaking in tongues and worshiping in a building with no electricity in the middle of war-torn Kosovo. I’ve been blessed to teach the Bible with a handful of converts in Japan. I hear reports of baptisms by the thousands in China. I’ve supported the way for my friends to go to Africa and share the gospel with people dying of Aids. I love the church. I see a beautiful church.

    But at the same time I have seen the horrible aftermath “of ethnic cleansing”. I have seen infants abandoned by their parents. I have seen people praying to statues. I have been to Rome and seen the gold of saint peters basilica and then walked around the corner to find fortune tellers and palm readers. I have seen the world, it is a disaster. It is wretched. It is dark.

    If you cant see the light in the church and the dark in the world then I pity you. I pray for you. Get out of your divisive and destructive way of thinking!

  116. daniel,

    you sound pretty put out. and i don’t blame you, guy. i cannot blame anyone who feels passionately.

    but i just think your passion has gotten the better of you. by your very words you concede that “there is right and there is wrong, good/bad, truth/falsehood.” your plea for echo to stop his destructive thinking or whatever betrays that you yourself draw lines.

    if you didn’t care so much for these sharp lines you wouldn’t have so much passion.

    but passion needs to be properly bridled, friend.

    for my part, i consider confessional orthodoxy to do just that FOR ME. i don’t plead with others to come to this or that conclusion about whatever. the sky is blue, two and two equal four and confessional reformed orthodoxy is the faithful witness to holy writ. take it or leave it. if you leave it, fine, i will not begrudge you.

    my biological family is liberal mainline and my extended is REF. i am an enigma to both of them. i invite them to church and only engage them when they approach me (which is seldom). the confession and creeds and catechisms speak for me. when i open my mouth i am not so great at it. i trust on God alone.

    zrim

  117. Zrim-

    “for my part, i consider confessional orthodoxy to do just that FOR ME. i don’t plead with others to come to this or that conclusion about whatever. the sky is blue, two and two equal four and confessional reformed orthodoxy is the faithful witness to holy writ. take it or leave it. if you leave it, fine, i will not begrudge you.”

    Thats great, thats what I want all denominational adherents to say.

    BTW should I be begrudged if you call my church a false church or if you tell me I believe a false gospel?

  118. Zrim,

    Re: 112

    Yeah. Different takes on it. Evangelicals should actually be getting buddy buddy with Rome, and they are. Arminianism was and is part of the counter reformation. But for a skant few, the reformation is essentially over. Pity. Surely you’ve heard of “Catholics and Evangelicals Together?” Nothing could be more foul, but little else makes as much sense, given the state of things. Oh well.

    E

  119. Zrim,

    Re: 113, 114

    I’m not in the PCA, and so it’s not my place to apologize for them. However, I’m sure there are a number of pastors who wish that that sinner’s prayer weren’t on their website. It’s probably a bit embarrassing. I for one am a bit embarrassed that the OPC had to put out a report on justification. No denomination is perfect, and we DO have to struggle to maintain unity – but not by accepting error, but by correcting it.

    E

  120. Daniel,

    Re: 116

    Well, that’s nice for you to see the invisible church, and then talk about how it’s the Bride of Christ, and how mean spirited I must be to say that the state of the church is to be mourned.

    Meanwhile, I think you know that I was talking about the VISIBLE church, and you know that I was referring to the state of denominations like the PCUSA, with its 2 million members recently paving the way for homosexuals to be ORDAINED, supposedly as ministers of the gospel. You know I was talking about the methodist church who couldn’t convict a lesbian minister, or the Episcopal church with their controversies over an openly gay bishop. You know that the majority of people who claim the name Christian pray to Mary as if she were a goddess, and that the Roman church for years has worked to cover up their gay priests and child molestation. You know that a bishop who was proven to have known about child molesting priests was given the honor of carrying the last pope’s coffin at his funeral. And you know that like yourself, most evangelicals have little concern over what they believe, but simply that they believe the minimum to get into heaven.

    I think that if you mull it over a little bit, you’ll agree that 99.9% of the VISIBLE church is an abomination far worse than the Pharisees that Jesus referred to as a brood of vipers who barred the gates of heaven to God’s people.

    But you are right, God has his remnant.

    Echo

  121. Daniel,

    Re: 118

    You said:
    “should I be begrudged if you call my church a false church or if you tell me I believe a false gospel?”

    – Echo:
    Only if it isn’t true. Of course, if it isn’t true, you might choose not to be upset about it and defend yourself rationally. But if it is true, perhaps you’d resent being told that you’re wrong.

    Let’s say for the sake of argument that you do believe a false gospel. I don’t know what you believe, only you know what you believe. But let’s pretend that you do believe a false gospel, and someone called you out on it. What would happen?

    E

  122. I have much to say to you Echo, but since it is more based on pity and anger I will simply reply to your final comment by saying that, No I do not agree with you. 99.9% of the visible church is not an abomination.

  123. Your opinion of the church is indicative of your arrogance. I pity you because I think (hope) that God wants to use you to effectively minister to his Church, but since you think of her as such a repulsive entity it is going to require a whole lot of change in your life. From the looks of it you aren’t the type who handles change well. If you would be open to some suggestion, maybe you should spend some time doing street evangelism. It’s a challenging dynamic that exposes you to public humiliation while giving you the opportunity to publicly preach the gospel to people who do NOT want to hear it. If you’d like I would go with you, we could tag team. I’ve got friends who could play the guitar to hopefully draw a crowd, and then we could stand up and tell them that Jesus saves. We won’t have to do an altar call or anything we can just preach the word. I am totally serious. This would be an awesome experience for you.

  124. BTW it would be awesome for me as well. I would love to work together with you to build the church.

  125. Pray about it.

  126. daniel,

    re: 118

    “BTW should I be begrudged if you call my church a false church or if you tell me I believe a false gospel?”

    um, let’s be honest. nobody wants or likes to hear such things, right? do you mean your local, specific communion or denom.?

    zrim

  127. Z, my final comment of 118 was a sarcastic jibe, not necessarily directed at you but rather more towards Echo. or in general anyone who assumes they are taking the “take it or leave it” opinion that you espoused and then proceeds to try and destroy someone else’s congregation. To my shame I admit that I have taken such a view many times by criticizing denominational adherents in an effort to bolster my own pride. (But claiming the motivation of “correcting” instead). I now realize that it is not my responsibility to correct those outside of my care. I need to feed my flock and defend my flock from those who might seek to pull them away from sound doctrine.

    So what do I care if you, or anyone else criticizes my ministry? I don’t, I am not begrudged, that is provided you don’t bring it into my congregation.

    Either way I probably shouldn’t have added the jab, I should have let my statement words speak for themselves.

    Now regarding my desire to work with Echo to proclaim the gospel in the streets of North County I again issue the invitation. We can direct any converts to your congregation if it makes you feel better about it. I am changing my focus from biting and devouring the body to seeking to unite and work together for the beautification of the church. I await a response.

  128. I need to feed my flock and defend my flock from those who might seek to pull them away from sound doctrine.

    That is true. But what means do you have to respond when one of your flock comes down with a vicious case of unsound doctrine? Can you discipline them? Do they acknowledge your authority to discipline them?

    And then there’s the other side of the question. Whose flock do you belong to? Whose care are you under? To whom are you accountable, and who is authorized to discipline you should you exhibit unsound doctrine?

    That’s what denominations are for.

  129. We should all ask ourselves, Is my life a living testimony of Christ or am I all talk? Many people are very knowledgeable of the Word and know exactly what THEY believe, but what about the unbeliever? What about your brother or sister? Do they look at your life and see Christ in you? If you are being saved and sanctified, do other people notice? They should. Ouch! I think I was just challenging myself.

    I remember when I was in high school I had this youth pastor at our church by the name of Jim Ost. Man, this guy had such an impact on my life. How you ask? Well, yeah he was a good preacher and all but I learned the most by watching his life. You want to talk about a guy who put others first(except on the basketball court), someone who gave of his time and money(you don’t decide to take a youth pastor job for the money),that was Jim. He should me how money is just that, money. He literally gave it away when he didn’t even have it to give away(thank God for overdraft protection). He showed me how to worship!How it’s a life style! It’s not the 30 minutes before the sermon. It is a constant on going thing. It’s a way of life. I learned that having fun and enjoying life as a Christian is not a sin in it self. When I often reflect on my past growing up in the Church that guy Jim is involved in a lot of my memories. I have to admit I don’t remember all of his sermons he preached but I do remember his example.

  130. daniel,

    sorry, i guess i did not realize that were were a pastor

    alex, i am really sorry to say this because you seem like a very normal, smart and good intentioned person…but you are making some seriously flawed divisions between doctrine and life. our lives flow from our doctrine. you paint a picture of someone who could be “a great guy” yet have the worst possible doctrine. your view makes it sound like th eonly really good people in the world are chrustians. maybe it’s my secular and unbelieving background speaking here (with which i have no problem), but what distinguishes us from the pagans is our worship, our cultic endeavor, our doctrinal endeavor.

    believe it or not, perfectly good pagans can give you the shirt off their backs, pay your bills fo royu, make everyone feel good about themselves, be encouraging, be self-sacrificing, turn the other cheek, pray for their enemies, do good to their eneimies, etc., etc. those are not exclusively christians acts. my unbelieving father is, in my opinion, the “goodest” man in the world. but that doesn’t make him a christian. anybody can set a “good example,” christian and non-.

    zrim

  131. Rube, in reply to 129 I simply ask, is that really what you see denominations for? Review the comments on this post and seriously ask if the denominational members simply in this thread would have any problems being put out of their current congregations because of disagreements in church doctrine?

    Zrim himself has expressed a desire to leave his current denomination. How long until Echo disagrees with something his denom teaches and moves to an even more strict sect? What will you do if your denom adopts a liberal view on homosexuality? It’s not that far fetched, it’s happening in your sister denoms.

    I most definitely have authorities over my life as do all the pastors and elders and deacons of this church. I have responded to correction and I have been called upon to correct.

    I would love, love, love for you to be right about denominations, but read echo’s 108 post and tell me how the OPC’s formation at any point submitted to the authorities over them? The point is that the insistence on having a “denomination” obviously is NOT about establishing authorities over you but about BEING the established authorities. It’s a power trip. It’s the epitome of the “I’m right and your wrong” “I’m the ultimate standard of truth” that you accuse me and everyone else who disagrees with your denomination of.

    Is non-denominational any different? Not too much except it’s very difficult for an independent church to have the resources and financial umbrellas that the denominations have.

    Though you did a great job of switching the subject entirely I think this argument against independent churches is unnecessary and simply another wedge being hammered into the cracking unity of the global church. For everyones sake I ask that we avoid it.

  132. whoops, i left daniel in the dust.

    well, all i was going to say, daniel, was probably something i have said before: i have no interest in determining the truth/falsity of anyone’s church, etc. i think way too many people think they themselves hold the keys to the kingdom (yahoo’s in the blog world notwithstanding…indeed, moreso in some cases). CRO (confessional reformed orthodoxy) is the most faithful exposition of holy revelation on earth. do we always present it well? nope. are we vulnerable to inconsistency and contradiction? yep. can we be jerks? ah, yep.

    but from my perspective, CRO needs no ham-fisted help form any of us yahoo’s. truth has a way of taking care of itself, if you know what i mean. it’s not that we ought to give up battle or whatever. but, as CRO’s, we ought to be wise enough to realize this and let things flesh out the way they will. he who has an ear let him hear!

    oh, and BTW, i went to your blog. do you really think it prudent for one in christian leadership to publically air his political views? i don’t, especially in an age that is highly politicized and has set up social-moral-political-cultural idols. mixing religion with politics is just bad. it’s not that you can’t have your politics (we all havem, i have them), but i truly wonder about the wisdom of leaders going public with them.

    zrim

  133. No need to apologize zrim, I am a non-denominational youth pastor ordained by a council including My Sr. Pastor/head elder (who is also my Father), All of our church elders, Albino (as my previous youth pastor) and the Sr. Pastor of my pastor.

    So I wouldn’t be too surprised if you or echo rejected my pastoral authority. Again, that’s OK by me because you aren’t in my flock.

    I know, when i see the certificate of ordination hanging on my wall that says that I have been “solemnly and publicly set apart for the work of the gospel ministry” that I have been bestowed with both a tremendous responsibility and blessing that I ought not to ever treat lightly. Unfortunatley I haven’t acted very pastoral with many of my words on this blog so I apologize.

  134. zrim, 133

    My blog is, like it’s title states, my den. It is the source of education through conversation and relaxation.

    My politics are not expressed from the pulpit, ever. And whenever my sermons are preached in the house my wife tends to frown. Most of my blog is light hearted for that reason. I don’t know how much of my blog could be taken as political. if you want to comment on it I will discuss it there but we shouldn’t bore rube’s readers with this ;-)

  135. What will you do if your denom adopts a liberal view on homosexuality?

    Assuming my church’s eldership didn’t act first, I would exhort my elders to pursue all available channels of church government to change the denominational stance. If my elders failed to accomplish that, I would exhort my elders to follow all available channels of church government to remove our congregation from our denomination, and find an orthodox denomination to which our local body can be accountable. Failing that, I would as respectfully as possible call my elders to repentance according to Matt 18 etc. Failing that, I would find a new church.

    As it happens, my local church just a few years ago did just that. We left the OPC and joined the PCA instead — funnily enough, for precisely the opposite reason. The OPC as a whole, and the SoCal presbetry in particular, was stiflingly judicial, so we changed affiliation. See the article “Machen’s Warrior Children” for an interesting analysis of how the OPC continued to fight amongst itself after (rightly) leaving the PCUSA. Now did our church do the wrong thing by leaving the OPC for reasons less than heresy? Many think so. I don’t know. The point is, being independent was not an option.

    tell me how the OPC’s formation at any point submitted to the authorities over them?

    Machen took many years, and followed all agreed-upon denominational due process, and more importantly followed biblical standards for doctrinal due process, before restoring orthodoxy by starting a new denomination. The PCUSA, by becoming liberal to the point of (unrepentantly) denying the deity of Christ, showed itself to be a false (visible) church, and thus was owed no allegience. Just as Rome, by denying Justification by faith alone, showed itself to be a false church, and the Reformation owed Rome no allegiance. As Echo amply narrated in #108.

    The point is that the insistence on having a “denomination” obviously is NOT about establishing authorities over you but about BEING the established authorities. It’s a power trip.

    Having a denomination is about mimicking the biblical example of the council of Jerusalem. 1st century churches were not independent, they were doctrinally accountable to the Apostles and each other. When Peter compromised the gospel, Paul did not compromise with Peter for the “sake of unity”. He called him out.

  136. Rube, Can you explain what you mean by this? “The OPC as a whole, and the SoCal presbetry in particular, was stiflingly judicial, so we changed affiliation.”

    Stiflingly judicial?

    will you not admit that what we are talking about is slightly different then justification by works verse justification by faith (Paul’s beef with Peter).

    And if you plan on claiming to follow the Acts 15 model in establishing denominations aren’t you then in danger of introducing some greatly heretical NT teachings like (gasp) speaking in tongues?

  137. Rube, Can you explain what you mean by this? “The OPC as a whole, and the SoCal presbetry in particular, was stiflingly judicial, so we changed affiliation.”

    Not really. The details of our alleged ‘persecution’ by the denomination & presbytery were all way before my time. But as you describe your role as “I need to feed my flock and defend my flock from those who might seek to pull them away from sound doctrine”, the OPC apparently considered its role to be primarily of hauling people into denominational judicial proceedings. As I say, I don’t know. That’s what they tell me. As I said, “did our church do the wrong thing by leaving the OPC for reasons less than heresy? Many think so. I don’t know.”

    Oh yeah, one more detail I remembered that you will probably find very interesting: the specific charge that our pastor was tried for (and convicted? but not defrocked? why not? I don’t know) was preaching through 1 Cor, and not being sufficiently cessationist. I.e. saying that the gift of Prophecy (defined as Holy-Spirit-assisted proclamation of God’s Word) is alive and well today (and nowadays usually called Preaching), and saying that there is no reason to believe that the Holy Spirit might not operate through the gift of tongues today, although he has never seen any tongues-talkin’ that he believed to be of the Holy Spirit.

    But as I say, all of that was before my time, I have no first-hand knowledge of exactly what was preached or the history of the charges and trial. What I have said is the full extent of my knowledge, and I would not like to launch a speculative discussion.

    I will say that I found him to be a great Pastor and a great Preacher, and I was glad to be under him for the last year or two of his career.

  138. haha. Indeed that is both ironic and telling at the same time. At least then, rube, you can see why my opinions are not quite preposterous and that I am not “way out there”. Can’t you?

    Can you at least agree in principle that the original intent of denominational formation has been diluted and is culturally less effective then it was in times past?

  139. Yes, the ability of the universal (and denominational) church to “feed its flock and defend its flock from those who might seek to pull them away from sound doctrine” has been diluted by the independent church movement. Is the consumer-driven (my-choice-centric) culture to blame for the decline of monergistic calvinism and denominational accountability, or vice versa? Who knows. Bottom line, our culture is wrong. It’s wrong about a lot of things, including abortion.

    And if you recall or reread all those tongues threads, you will see that I held basically the same position — I don’t see that a gift of tongues necessarily invalidates the doctrine of scriptural sufficiency (why wouldn’t the Holy Spirit confirm the gospel and the bible to an unreached people with miraculous signs, including missionaries proclaiming the gospel in the natives’ language?), but what I’ve seen (babble) I don’t buy.

  140. daniel,

    as much as i have little to no use for the foibles of denominationalism, i have never, ever understood non-denominationalism. that is to say, i would rather take an imperfect system that recognizes the objective and confessionaal nature of christianity than one that tries to transcend human foible by “doing it is own way.” absolutely invariably they make the same dumb mistakes we in denominations do and the experiement is shown for what it is: an inappropriate and misguided way of “articulating and doing the faith.” i find it uncomfortabley in step with the spirit of the age and vulnerable to much more error than any denomination by far.

    “My politics are not expressed from the pulpit, ever.”

    that’s all well and good. but my point is that’s just not good enough (pardon us, rube, for this discussion but i bet you don’t mind much). leaders, by their very nature, are public and speak for the church. when you open your mouth you speak for God in a way measy laity like me simply don’t. and i disagree. much of what you say is political. i mean, come on, you are discussing the war for pete’s sake!

    but if this discussion is like most i have these days my view will be seen in the minority, sadly.

    zrim

  141. Rube & Daniel,

    The OPC Presbytery of Southern CA has had its problems. They are men, after all. We are all sinful. I’m sure that if you were really interested, you could obtain copies of the minutes of all the relevant meetings of the Presbytery. You could find out what was said and the reasons given when Rube’s church separated from the denomination. Thus any further speculation is just that. I am well aware of some of the problems that have taken place, but as I say, this information is not secret, and if you really want to find out about it, go look up the minutes. All Presbytery meetings are public. And I’m sure Rube’s pastor would hold nothing back if asked.

    As for me being in danger of church hopping and migrating to stricter and stricter sects, well, thanks for the concern Daniel. You need not worry, however. You are implying that I have raised myself up as the standard of truth. You are implying that I have said that I know everything, and that as soon as my church disagrees with me, I’m outta here. While I’m sorry you feel that way, I don’t see any reason to discuss it.

    As to your invite to engage in street evangelism, I humbly decline, with regrets. I mean that sincerely.

    Anyway, Daniel, I really don’t think what you’re against is the idea of having a heirarchy of authority or whatever. What you’re really objecting to, it seems, is that there are so many denominations. To you, this seems like it must be wrong. If such a thing were legitimate, there would at least be fewer denominations. You probably see the authority structure of the Roman church as being its demise, because people at the top grew money hungry and power hungry, and eventually they ended up doing lots of horrible things to retain their money and power.

    Since this is what I think your real beef is, I would address it. You’re absolutely right.

    Let that sink in for a minute. Echo just said that you, Daniel, are correct.

    But maybe the “victory” is not a real one for you, since I seem to be putting words in your mouth, and then agreeing with them. But I really think that I’ve reflected your views back to you, with perhaps a bit of analysis. I’m convinced you can agree with the above paragraph, thus I have no qualms saying that you are right.

    You are right that having people at the top can lead to corruption of all kinds, and this fact probably IS largely responsible for the abomination that the Roman church has become. For the record, if anyone doesn’t think that the Roman church is an abomination, the Council of Trent, which remains an official statement of the Roman church, declares justification by faith alone to be anathema. That means that anyone who teaches that justification is by faith alone is a heretic and surely bound for hell. The doctrine is of the devil, say the Romans. Meanwhile, a casual glance at the Bible, such as Gal 2:16, proves that it is actually the Roman doctrine that is contrary to the Word of God. It is God that they oppose. The Bible says that justification is by faith alone, and Rome says that that’s of the devil. Growing up, I wondered what blasphemy of the Holy Spirit was. We may all wonder no longer. The Spirit speaks, and Rome says that the words are those of the devil and a lie.

    But how did the church veer so far off course? How did this happen? Denominations, you say. Men at the top who became corrupted, you say.

    Bishops, I say. Men who sat at the top alone. Rome has behaved just like the ancient Israelites who wanted a king. They have their king, and they call him the bridegroom of the church. But it isn’t Jesus Christ, the only true Husband of the church, it’s the Pope.

    Yeah, the Pope reigns supreme as king of the Roman church, and he has his cardinals and bishops, men who hold tremendous power.

    By contrast, in Presbyterian churches, that kind of power is not put permanently into the hands of one man. The name Presbyterian derives from the Greek word for elder. Presbyterian government differs from Roman government in that it is ruled by a plurality of elders, not a bishop or a cardinal or a pope. And when elders take up office in a Presbytery, for example, they only hold that position for the couple of days during which the meeting is held.

    So for example, if you are an elder in an OP, you might get sent to represent your church at the local Presbytery meeting. For 3 days or so while it meets and conducts its business (twice a year) you are a member of the Presbytery. When the days are over you are no longer a member of the Presbytery. You go back to being a regular old ordinary elder of your local church. It works the same at the denominational level, called the General Assembly. If you are sent by the Presbytery, you are sent once. And when it’s over, you aren’t a delegate anymore.

    It’s the difference between a monarchy and a republic with super short term limits. No one man gets to exercise power over ANYTHING.

    So you may criticize this if you like, but given the precedent for precisely the same thing in Acts 15, I conclude I need not say more. I’m sure you can grant that if a denomination is to be formed, that’s the way to do it.

    But the ironic thing is, though you have disdained denominations in general, you have simply formed your own, which is smaller, but it still amounts to the same thing.

    Let me again reiterate that I don’t know what gospel you believe. You seem to be insisting that you are being labeled as someone who doesn’t believe the gospel, yet no one has said that. People have said that this or that is a false gospel, but you have not explicitly said what you believe the gospel to be. In fact, even when you mentioned what you thought to be the minimum requirement for salvation, I didn’t even disagree with it, but really just fleshed it out a bit, to make the statement more accurate, but still retaining the same basic elements. I didn’t say that if someone believed “this” they’d be believing in a false gospel.

    What I have said is that the practice of tongues undermines the gospel, but that’s not exactly the same thing, now, is it? You can preach an entire sermon that IMPLIES lots of errors of all kinds, but if, at the end of it, you spout off the true gospel, then no one can accuse you of preaching a false gospel. They might say that parts of your sermon were inconsistent with the gospel, and therefore undermine it, but you would still be preaching the gospel, not a false gospel. Being inconsistent and being totally wrong is two different things.

    E

  142. Echo 4 responses

    1. thank you for replying to my invitation, I look forward to a day where the opportunity is made possible.

    2. I don’t mean to imply that you think your self to be the standard of truth.

    3. I am not anti-denomination. I am bothered by the opportunity for corruption but I realize that same opportunity is just as real in our independent church. What this latest string of “debate” has been about (for me) is that I am against the limited amount of cross-denominational involvement. I don’t think the fault lies entirely on the existence of denominations but rather on the people in the denominations who reject ecumenical ( I don’t really care for that word) involvement. I think this is unfortunately an expression of pride and elitism. At the same time I will admit that i WON’T work with anyone and everyone who simply calls themselves a Christian. I also won’t work with anyone and everyone who simply calls themselves, Presbyterian, Baptist, Wesleyan, AG, Calvary and Non-denominational. I have criteria that I need met, just like you have criteria that you need met, but that criteria (I don’t think) can be adequately or genuinely expressed in a label (either expressed or supposed).

    4. As for your defense of Presbyterian church government, history has demonstrated (and you have recalled) that this also is far from a perfect system. It may be in your opinion the closest thing to the Acts 15 model but I have a very difficult time differentiating the PCUSA from the OPC because all i hear is the “P”.

  143. Listen to one sermon from Point Loma Community Presbyterian, and my church, or Echo’s church, and you would be able to differentiate quite easily. We went to one service in Point Loma when we had an apartment there, and you would never have guessed from the sermon that there exists a Word from God called the Bible. (However, 1st pres downtown where Tony & Andrea went while they were living down there, is apparently better than most PCUSA)

  144. Daniel 143,

    1. I declined your invitation, with regrets.

    2. I’m glad you don’t mean to imply that I think I am the standard of truth. Nonetheless you did imply it, so it was necessary for me to deny it. Now that you say that you didn’t mean to imply it, that saves me from having to prove it.

    3. Where do I begin? Let’s come up with an example here. At the old OPC where I used to attend (I moved) they had a crisis some time ago. The Pastor and Elders all wanted to ordain women. About a third of the congregation said no, so two-thirds of the congregation, the pastor and elders all left the church to start a new one. But the one-third who stayed got to keep the building and remain in the OPC. That’s only possible because we have a denomination. If an independent church goes off the deep end like that, it wouldn’t have worked out that way, would it? No, the church would go in whatever direction the Pastor and Elders wanted to take it. No one would hold them accountable.

    But now you ask, who holds the denomination accountable? Well, that’s why we have a Confession. It’s like our Constitution. But you’re right, the PCUSA sure did go off the deep end, end over end. That in and of itself does not mean that the system of government that God has given us is not this system we’re using. The Presbyterian form of government is the form spoken of in the Bible. However, we can be sure that men are going to remain sinful. God did not intend to give us a perfect church. There is no such thing. If he had given us a perfect church, then true believers would be tempted to worship the church rather than God. I have heard Romans say that the church IS God. Scary, huh? Apparently they think that the church is perfect. But God gives us imperfect churches to teach us not to hope in the church, but to hope only in Christ. It’s the same reason why he doesn’t take our sin away in this life. Yes he sanctifies us, but that process isn’t completed in this life. We continue to sin. Why? To humble us and remind us that we have to look to Christ in faith, because we keep failing over and over and over again.

    I just spent a very intensive week in counseling classes. 24 lecture hours in 4 days. It was all about pinpointing sin, because the preferred way to understand counseling around here is, yes, sometimes people have medical problems, but for the most part, in counseling, the problem is SIN and the cure is the GOSPEL. Why do people struggle with fear, guilt and anger? The problem is sin, the cure is the gospel. People today are taught to deny that they’re sinful. They’re taught that their body is sick somehow, and here’s some drugs to fix it. You’re not sinful, you’re just sick. No, you’re SINFUL as we all are. We don’t have to be afraid to admit that, because God has solved our sin problem by sending Christ to die for us and to give us his righteousness, taking only our curse as payment. So, for that reason, I’ve spent all week looking at how to figure out where peoples’ sins are and gently help them see that, so that they can admit it and hear the word of pardon from God. Because after all, if you deny that you’re sinful, you can’t be forgiven, but if you confess that you are a sinner, you can be. And that’s what most peoples’ problems boil down to, denying sin. Or they focus on individual acts of sin, as if they existed in a vaccuum. They deny that they ARE sinful, but admit only that they occasionally sin. We don’t occasionally sin. We ARE sinful. And frankly, after this week, I see more clearly just how sinful we all are. It’s maddening. It was quite a shocking look in the mirror.

    Anyway, the problem with denominations is that they are populated with sinful people. But you can’t avoid people by avoiding denominations. The only way you can avoid people is to move to a deserted island by yourself. But if you think this would help you to avoid sin, you’d be wrong. You might have further occasions to sin against other people, but your heart would still be rebellious toward God. You’d find a way to manifest it. We all would.

    Nonetheless, the PCUSA kicked Machen out because he refused to support false teachers monetarily. He called a spade a spade, and everyone told him he was unloving and unkind. Hogwash. Now those people are making it possible to ordain people who are practicing any kind of sex outside of marriage, including gays and all kinds of adulterers.

    And what does Paul say about the sexually immoral who claim the name of Christian? He says don’t even eat with them. That certainly means ecclesiastical fellowship is out the window. I have much more in common with a reformed baptist friend of mine than the openly gay sunday school teacher at a PCUSA church I am aware of.

    But, you say, we’re all immoral in some ways. You just said that Echo. Yes, but Christians, true Christians, confess their sin and repent. Unrepentant sin, such as being openly gay, and demanding everyone accept that – this is an abomination. It is every single bit as disgusting as the Roman church’s declaration that anyone who believes that justification is by faith alone is anathema. One is legalistic, the other antinomian. Different, yes, but equally disgusting. Anyway, that’s why unrepentant Christians fall under discipline, but repentant Christians are loved and embraced, no matter how heinous the sin, including homosexuality. Repentance makes all the difference.

    Anyway, the PCUSA still uses the WCF, but they have added a number of other confessions and things over the years. They have a huge book of confessions now. One thinks of the many volumes of canon law of the Roman church. The point is, they didn’t toss out the WCF, they just added stuff to it. Compromises build on each other. A little compromise here, a little more there. A few years later, another step is taken. Man is sinful, and only too happy to be just like the frog in the pot of water on the stove that heats up slowly. If you drop a frog in hot water, it’ll just jump out again. But if you put it in cold water and turn the heat on low it’ll stay in there till it boils. Why? Because the change is gradual. We’re just like that with compromise. One leads to another to another. The PCUSA was not made in a day anymore than Rome was built in a day. It takes a long time, but Satan will wait. But he always keeps pushing, pushing, pushing. The more we give ground hoping to appease him, the more he pushes. Just like Hitler. And like Hitler, the devil will never be satisfied until we’re all worshiping him knowingly. I met a satanist once. He said that they don’t really worship Satan, they worship themselves. Bizarre, huh? Now that I understand sin better, I don’t find it that bizarre. We worship ourselves and our own desires and that gets put in God’s place. That’s what all sin is, idolatry of our desires. Oh yeah, I learned all about it this week. Hahahaha…

    Anyway, compromise always leads to more compromise. Thus I strive not to compromise.

    Now, were this not a forum for theological debate, I certainly would go about things differently. I think this medium is a flawed way of theological communication. It’s impossible to really know the person, to discuss things slowly and maturely, because you can’t get the same kind of feedback as you can in person or even over the phone. You have to leave your message and then wait. Leave, wait, leave wait. And if someone’s getting all offended in the first paragraph, they’ll be fuming by the end of your message. And then they attack you personnally, sinfully, and then you respond in kind, and then it gets ugly. Ah, well. What’re ya gonna do.

    E

  145. I am working on my Arminianism post, but a friend of mine directing me to this website of an Arminianist who apparently shares your view that non-Calvinists are de facto Arminianists.
    http://schooleyfiles.blogspot.com/2007/01/alternative-to-calvinism-and.html

  146. Wow, lotta stuff there, with very few comments. I hope to give him a few, when I get a chance! However, I hope he has inspired you to “Stand up. Lift your voice. Speak out.”: say it loud, say it proud, “Albino Hayford is a card-carrying Arminian!”

    FWIW, however, a friend at church posits that the halfway point between Calvinism & Arminianism is Lutheranism.

  147. Rube,

    Lutheranism is by no means halfway between Arminianism and Calvinism. Lutherans traditionally teach the real gospel. Many of them don’t now, but the Missouri Synod does. Anyway, Luther got the gospel right. Confused on the sacraments, but solid on the gospel. Calvin got the gospel right too. Laid a good foundation.

    But the Arminian gospel, unfortunately, is not the gospel. It’s very similar, and I’ll admit that the differences are very subtle, but it’s a different gospel. Arminian salvation is not purely wrought by/dependent upon God alone. man is partly responsible.

    E

  148. Echo,

    Is someone who does not believe Calvinism your brother in Christ? Sounds like, in your world, belief in Calvinism is a work required for salvation.

  149. Albino,

    I JUST said that Lutherans – at least traditional Lutheranism as manifested these days by the Missouri Synod, a Lutheran denomination – are solid on the gospel and are not a half way point between Calvinists and Arminians. What I said about them above puts them in a high standing along with Calvinists as those who uphold the gospel. I am very confused as to why you would even ask whether someone has to be a Calvinist to be considered a Christian.

    While it is true that Calvinists adhere to the true gospel, they aren’t the only ones who adhere to the gospel. Lutherans are an example of this. John Piper is another example of this. I know, everyone wants to say that Piper is a reformed Baptist or whatever, and as such people want to call him a Calvinist. But there’s a heck of a lot more to Calvinism than TULIP. Piper is not a Calvinist. He’s a Baptist. People say that he’s relatively friendly to the Westminster Confession of Faith, and I would agree, he IS relatively friendly to it, but he still doesn’t confess it. He would probably be more comfortable with the London Baptist Confession, which is just the Westminster Confession rewritten a little bit to accomodate Baptist views on some things.

    I have heard recently that the president of the Southern Baptist seminary – I don’t know what it’s called – is trying to get the faculty to sign on to the London Baptist Confession. I’m all for it. Good for them! They are surely my brothers in Christ. They are not Calvinists. They’re Baptists. That means I think they get some things wrong. The things that they get wrong, I think, undermine the gospel, such as believer only baptism. But undermining the gospel by a view of baptism is nowhere NEAR the same as teaching a DIFFERENT gospel.

    Michael Horton, host of the White Horse Inn and a professor at my seminary, does his radio show with 2 from the URC (United Reformed Church – Dutch traditional reformed, adhereing to the three forms of unity: the Belgic Confession, the Heidelburg Catechism and the canons of Dordt), 1 Reformed Baptist, and 1 Lutheran. And they are all brothers in Christ. Sure, Horton would disagree with them on a number of issues, but they are united, they are brothers based on a common confession of the gospel.

    Meanwhile, I find the Pope to be a manifestation of the spirit of antiChrist (having declared himself to be the Bridegroom of the church, and that justification by faith alone is anathema, which declares all true believers to be anathema), but there are undoubtedly SOME few true believers who are in the Roman Catholic Church. Very confused believers, but believers nonetheless. They might really be trusting in Christ alone for their salvation. They might think the whole praying to Mary thing is silly, and they might personally not do it. Or maybe they even DO pray to Mary because they are deceived. In their mind, they don’t think it’s worship. They’re confused. And maybe they are confused about a lot of things. But they might still be true believers, because they might truly be trusting not in themselves but in Christ for their salvation. These are my brothers.

    There are, undoubtedly, likewise true believers in Arminian churches. Some of them even believe the Arminian gospel. But the true believers in this context will be inconsistent on this point. They’ll say that yes, God saves us and our salvation doesn’t depend on us at all. But they’ll also say that we have to give our assent to the gospel BEFORE we are saved/regenerated. But they’ll think this does no damage to the gospel itself. They are in error on this point, but as for the gospel itself, they can confess it correctly, because their hope for salvation is in Christ alone and his self sacrifice on their behalf. They believe properly in the gospel, but are confused about how it is APPLIED to them.

    Meanwhile, the Arminian gospel is another gospel. Just like the so called gospel that Rome spreads is another gospel. It is one of pennance, of justification by works. The Arminian gospel too is a justification by works.

    Some poor souls are bound up in the oppression of such gospels. They come to church on Sunday mornings in all sincerity, thinking that they need to be rejustified all over again, thinking that their repentance earns salvation, and they are very confused and oppressed by these ideas. They are to be pitied, because they are true believers, but they don’t yet really understand the gospel, because they have been oppressed by a false gospel. Somewhere deep inside is some measure of the knowledge of the truth. There is some genuine faith there that clings to the cross in hope, that flees to Christ, begging him for mercy.

    Woe, I say, to the men responsible for this. Woe to him who binds the children of God to a never ending cycle of continual rejustification. Woe to him who teaches the children of God that their repentance must earn their forgiveness. Woe to him who binds the hearts, minds, consciences and lives of the children of God, encouraging them to sin, binding them to believe in lies and to cling to idols.

    While Arminian pastors/teachers and Roman priests/monks/bishops/nuns/cardinals/popes fall into this category, the Lutherans, Baptists, Reformed, Presbyterian, etc, who teach the true gospel of Christ do NOT fall into this category.

    Look, understand this, that even in my own denomination, the OPC, there are a lot of horrible preachers in whose place I don’t want to be on judgment day. And when I say horrible, I don’t mean that they lack skills. I’m talking about the moralistic preachers that don’t preach the gospel. We’ve got plenty of them. I have nothing good to say about them either. Denominations are no guarantee of being a proper pastor/teacher. These men are even “Calvinists” and would affirm TULIP. Heck, they might even mention it from the pulpit once in a while.

    I recently heard someone in my own denomination preach a great sermon on the sovereignty of God. But there was no gospel in it. He acheived nothing to justify unbelievers or sanctify saints. Everyone who goes to a church in my denomination believes that God is sovereign. They hear it all the time. But when that’s the focus of the sermon, you’re wasting your breath. The sovereignty of God is not the gospel. When men preach only what the listener is supposed to do, he wastes their time. What needs to be preached is what Jesus DID. It’s accomplished. Our salvation is sure and certain and accomplished and done. That’s what we need to hear.

    Anyone, no matter who they are or what else they believe, who preaches a sermon without preaching the true gospel, has completely wasted everyone’s time. No passage of Scripture can be fully understood without being interpreted in the light of the gospel.

    “Dare to be a Daniel” sermons are moralistic nonsense that has no place in the church of God. Or “be like David and slay Goliath, who represents your sin.” Or “be like Paul, who proclaimed the gospel with boldness everywhere he went and to everyone he came into contact with.” Nonsense.

    In a nutshell, a sermon ought to look like this: here’s the law, and you’ve failed. You are condemned. But along came Jesus Christ, who paid the penalty your sins incurred, and gives you the blessings his righteousness earned. And God proved it by raising him from the dead. Thanks to Christ, though we’ve failed and stand condemned in ourselves, in Christ we stand blameless before God. Be grateful to him for what he has done, praise him, thank him, obey him! Not to earn salvation, but because you are already saved.

    Pretty much anything short of that, or something like that, is not even a Christian sermon.

    Here is the standard:

    Q33: What is justification?
    A33: Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein He pardoneth all our sins,[1] and accepteth us as righteous in His sight,[2] only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us,[3] and received by faith alone.[4]

    1. Eph. 1:7
    2. II Cor. 5:21
    3. Rom. 5:19
    4. Gal. 2:16

    Any gospel that can’t agree with this is NOT the gospel. Period. However, some believers, who truly do believe this in their hearts, or maybe something slightly simpler (at least that their ONLY hope is Christ and NOT themselves), do not understand this nor can they articulate it. The confession of the mouth is how WE judge, but God doesn’t need that to judge them. God can look on the heart. But we say that whoever can say that their only hope for salvation is Jesus Christ, and that it’s not by works, well, we call these believers. Maybe they aren’t in their heart, but we cannot make that judgment. We can only judge what they say. As long as they say that Christ is their only hope, we’re good to go; they are to be considered as brothers.

    But if someone is TEACHING people to put their hopes elsewhere, well, woe to him.

    E

  150. So you hear the same message every Sunday? Does it ever get, dare I say, reduntant?

    When do people in your church get to grow spiritually through Bible study? Is it done on your own or does the church have any responsibility to see that its members are maturing?

  151. Hi, Albino–

    Guess I’ve been “woe’d.” Or, I would have been, if I actually believed what Echo says Arminians believe. Bummer.

    Regarding your comment #146: First of all, thanks for the link. Second, it all depends on what you mean by “Arminian.” I believe that there is no such thing as an “Arminian” in the same sense that there is such a thing as a “Calvinist”–that is, a self-conscious theological tradition stemming from the work of a seminal theologian. Nobody nowadays reads Arminius in the same way that people read Calvin (which is too bad in some ways, because he does have good stuff). When I call myself an “Arminian,” all I mean is that within the circle of evangelical believers (i.e., those who believe we are saved by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus, on the basis of His atoning, sacrificial death) I fall on the side of those who believe that everyone who hears the gospel has a genuine opportunity to come to faith in Christ and thereby join the elect, the covenant people of God. I do not fall on the side of those who believe that the elect are individually chosen ahead of time, so that some who hear the gospel never have a genuine opportunity to believe, because Jesus in fact did not die for them. To me, “Arminian” and “Calvinist” denote these two halves of the evangelical, believing world.

    –Keith Schooley

  152. The ingredient you seem to be missing is the fact that the gospel is everywhere in the bible. Read anywhere, intentionally looking for Christ, and you will find him everywhere (except for Proverbs). Also, his point is that preaching the gospel is not just for the purpose of converting non-Christians. The gospel is what makes Christians mature. The three legs of the stool are Law-Gospel-Law. You are a sinner (the Bible says do this/don’t do that, you disobey). The gospel saves you from your sin and makes you a new creation, able to obey. Now go obey. If you leave that gospel part out of the middle, you’re preaching legalism and/or moralism, and the congregation might as well just tune in to Oprah or Dr. Phil or Dr. Laura. Preach the whole bible, but if you preach any part of the bible without showing how the gospel is shining through, or how it relates to the gospel, you’re missing the point.

    But I’m sure Echo can explain better (or at least longer)

  153. I guess I need to visit your church so I can see for myself, I am genuinely interested in what the service\message is like.

  154. Matt,

    Re: 151

    If you think the story of how you’ve been saved from hell by the self sacrifice of God in the flesh on the cross for us poor sinners can ever be redundant, then yep, my church is as redundant as it gets.

    Growth takes place through the preaching of the Word.

    E

  155. Keith,

    you said:
    “I do not fall on the side of those who believe that the elect are individually chosen ahead of time…”

    – Echo:
    Eph 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love

    “…even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world…”
    “I do not fall on the side of those who believe that the elect are individually chosen ahead of time…”

    Rock on Keith.

    E

  156. Rube,

    153

    No, that’s pretty much it.

    E

  157. Matt,

    I’ll give you a place where you can download some sermons from my personal favorite preacher. You’ll love this guy’s preaching. Here:

    http://www.graceopchurch.org/sermons.html

    That guy is awesome! I wanna be him when I grow up. hahaha…

    E

  158. (except for Proverbs)

    He’s in Proverbs too. I can’t believe Echo let that one slide.

  159. Dang! I meant to say something about that!

    Pro 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

    To know the Lord is to be in covenant with him. To be in covenant with him is to be in Christ. To be in Christ is to know the Lord, to know the Lord is to have heard him, to have heard him is to know he is to be feared.

    E

  160. And here:

    Pro 1:20 Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice;

    Christ = Wisdom

    Col 2:2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ,
    Col 2:3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

    1Co 1:30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.

    So Jesus is Wisdom incarnate.

    Pro 3:19 The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens;

    Joh 1:3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

    Requests for more will be answered.

    E

  161. Proverbs is an expounding of Wisdom, which is Christ, and wisdom is what we gain from being in communion with God. Christ brings us into communion with God, and communion with God brings us the knowledge of God. The knowledge of God is wisdom. The first thing we know about God, like hearing a lion roar in the distance that we cannot see, is that he is to be feared. To be in communion with Christ is to know Christ. To know Christ is wisdom because Christ is himself wisdom, just as Christ is the Word of God incarnate. The Word of God is what God says to us to reveal himself to us. To know God is a never ending cycle of hearing God and responding, and hearing and responding. What we hear is Christ, and Christ is the wisdom of God.

    And what is the fruit of all this hearing? The wisdom found in the book of Proverbs. Proverbs reveals the character of Christ, it reveals Christ because it is talking about Christ. Yes, it is talking about what we are to do, but it is talking about what Wisdom says, what Wisdom teaches. Christ is God is Wisdom. The Words of Wisdom are the Words of God. The Word of God is Christ is the Word of God. Christ is the Word incarnate. To know the Word is to know Christ, because the Word reveals Christ, because Christ is the Word.

    Now we know how John’s writings are so confounding, though the language is so simple.

    Joh 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

    You can think about this stuff for the rest of your life.

    E

  162. Echo –

    Yes, “he chose us in him” (i.e., those who trust in Christ, as opposed to ethnic Jews or those who try hardest to follow the Law). If we trust in Christ, then we are among the chosen; if we don’t, then we aren’t. It’s a dynamic category, defined by a criterion of inclusion, not a static category, defined by selected individuals. Ephesians is Paul writing to a Gentile church about the unity of Jews and Gentiles into one body defined by trust in Christ. He’s saying that Gentile believers are just as much the “chosen people” as Jews. And though all the descendants of Israel were “the chosen people,” individuals among them (actually most of them) chose to walk away from the covenant.

    Hence my statement, “I do not fall on the side of those who believe that the elect are individually chosen ahead of time.” More here.

  163. Let’s all get in on the new “proof-text” cell phones and make these discussions easier.

    The longstanding theological debate between Arminianism and Calvinism heated up last month when Sprint announced a new service in their cell phone technology called Proof-Text Messaging. For a small fee, Sprint cell phone customers will now be able to send short, abbreviated Bible verse references to thwart their theological opponents. Currently the most popular proof-text message sent to Arminians is “JON 6:44, U SEMI-P DOG,” while Calvinists are receiving the classic, “FYI TULIP-HEAD, JON 3:16.”

    Betty Johnson, spokesperson for Sprint, says that their new “Friends and Heretics” phone plan is just another way the company is striving to reach the rising Christian market. “Here at Sprint we realize that rebuking others with God’s word shouldn’t suffer in this face-paced society. From now on, preachers with cell phones should anticipate lightning-fast biblical correction from their congregation immediately after every sermon.”

    Mike Gavin, a seminary student and staunch Calvinist, is thrilled with the new technology. “Between my class studies and my job at Subway, I have very little time to slam my ‘Free Will’ buds. But now I can just send ‘PREDESTIN8 THIS! EPH 1:11,’ and watch the dust fly.” Adds Gavin, “BTW, if Luther had this technology back in 1524, he would have spammed that Erasmus dude big time. ROTFLOL!”

  164. Keith,

    Re: 163

    I disagree. I find them to be individually chosen ahead of time. I find that the elect (individually chosen before God even created anything) come to believe because they are elect ahead of time.

    I don’t see any reason for them being “chosen” if they are only chosen because God looked into the future and saw that they *would* believe. That means that even our election is dependent upon us. And I think Scripture goes to great length to say that our salvation in no way depends on us.

    I understand your emphasis on Jews/Gentiles, and I think you’re definitely on to something, because Paul DOES make much of this, and rightfully so. And you’re right that not all the chosen people were actually elect to be saved. But they were chosen to be the people of God within the Mosaic economy. Israel is similar to what we call the visible church. They are brought into the covenant (sealed and signified in baptism today) by either being born to believers and thus raised as part of the visible church, or they are brought into the visible church by claiming to be believers. But of course, there is no guarantee of salvation, whether it be the profession of the mouth, baptism, or anything. Only God looks on the heart. Someone can easily make a false profession, and I think we all know that not everyone who confesses to be Christians are truly believers. But they are still among the chosen people, that is, the visible church. But being chosen to be set apart to God, to be holy (as Paul says of the children of believers in 1 Cor 7), is quite different from being elect before the foundation of the world. That is a thing of the invisible church, not the visible church, and only God knows who they are. We can be convinced of our own election, by faith and trust in the promises of God, but no one can ever guarantee us that we are in fact elect, because only God knows. But we can trust in his promises. I am sure that I am elect, for instance. But my assurance on this point is only as sure as I am in the promises of God in Christ.

    E

  165. hahahahaha @ 164

    E

  166. […] friend Reuben has laid out a good graph on the remonstrances of Jacob Arminius and how the followers of John Calvin responded with their T-U-L-I-P matrix.  If you click over to […]

  167. Ok…I answered Reuben’s Arminius question with a new post on my blog http://jimost.wordpress.com

  168. […] on What is Grace? by Evangelical_JoshComment on WSCAL: Clark on the Sabbath by Evangelical_JoshComment on What is an Arminian? by Albino HayfordComment on WSCAL: Clark on the Sabbath by Echo_ohcEComment on What is an Arminian? by You say […]

  169. I would consider the argument between Arminianism and Calvinism and the issue of election really being an issue over the Sovereignty of God. If the question is, “Does God predestine those who will be saved?”, then a standard number of verses including the popular John 6:44 can be used. If the question is “What is election?”, I would refer to Matthew 22:1-13 describing the Parable of the Marriage Feast, with the culmination of election in verse 14. Many are called, but few are chosen. So really, the choice or election of God is what is necessary for salvation. Ephesians 2 tells us that grace and faith are gifts of God. How do we get faith? Romans 10:17 tells us by hearing the Word of God. Why do we hear it? Matthew 28:19 and Acts 1:8 command the believer to be an obedient witness. Do we make our own choice to follow God in seeking Him or does He seek us out? Ezekiel 34:16 tells us God does the seeking, while Romans 3:11 indicate that none seek God. So then, do we earn salvation? Isaiah 64:6 tells us that our righteous acts are filth before God and Ephesians 2:9 tells us that works don’t save us, nor should we boast of them. So, again with the question of the Sovereignty of God, but more specifically as it relates to free will, if God seeks us, calls us, chooses us, gives us faith, sends out preachers of His Word, gives us grace in the cross of Christ, forgives us, justifies us, sanctifies us and eventually glorifies us, what choice of man is left for salvation? As Spurgeon indicated, the Sovereignty of God and Human Responsibility are unable to be reconciled by human reason. At some point we have to accept that it’s all God and He gets all the glory. This is what is meant by “unconditional election”, that in fact there is nothing man can do, including freely choose, to merit or effect his own salvation. That no conditions exist for the unmerited favor and choice of God to save us. As God is unchanging and His promises unviolatable, it is no suprise that an Arminian who believes he can choose to accept Christ rather than the Calvinist who merely receives Christ, it is no surpise the Arminian also believes that he can lose his salvation, for it was by his own will which is changeable.

  170. Josh,

    Man does have free will, despite God being utterly sovereign, and governing all things by his immutable will.

    For example, check out the Westminster Confession of Faith. They have one chapter called Providence, and one called Free Will.

    The way to understand this is a category that Spurgeon at least never thought of: dual agency.

    Gen 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

    Act 4:27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,
    Act 4:28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

    God brings about everything that takes place, governing it all by the Word of his power, but he is of course not guilty of sin, even though sin is not outside his control, nor outside the limits of his decree. Rather, he uses it to his own purposes.

    Even the world’s hatred of Jesus Christ was foreordained, that the Christ might suffer and die, to bring us our salvation.

    Rom 3:5 But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.)
    Rom 3:6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world?
    Rom 3:7 But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner?

    E

  171. […] Posted by RubeRad on March 22nd, 2007 I’m sure you’ve heard the old joke that “Pan-Millenialism” is the belief that “It’ll all pan out in the end.” But for my edification and reference (and hopefully yours as well), I present, in tabular form, a 7-fold, 3-way definition of all(=”pan”) three major millenial views. The words used to make this table are pasted from Greg Bahnsen’s article The Prima Facie Acceptability of Postmillennialism, and have been juggled only a little bit (moving and/or removing transitional phrases) so that each statement stands on its own within its cell of the table. (Oh boy, another table!) […]

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