Friday, December 30, 2011

Soteriological Thesis Work

A new friend of mine, Nolan, posted something here that struck a nerv with me recently. He noted that a lot of my blog is polemic against various ideas that float around in Christendom. He noted that this was perfectly valid, and in my mind I noted that the topic of the discussion we were having was based on a most polemic document; the Second Synod of Dort.

Chasing bad, or thought to be bad, theology around isn't always helpful. In fact I think it is often anything but helpful. That was a large point I made in my book Fail-Safe for Fallacy.  The first time I looked at, and argued against, the "Doctrines of Grace" popularly called by the acrostic TULIP I made it clear that it is easy to argue against something but much harder to develop something that is true.

Over the last couple of years I've been feeling I should develop a Soteriological Thesis. The late Dr. Robb Lawson and I worked on a project together that we were calling The Grace Reformation. I believe it was a noble idea, but the perspective was too broad and so it was beyond my abilities and beyond Robb's ability to keep me motivated. :)

Over Christmas I have decided to limit the thesis to the methodology by which a person who is unsaved becomes eternally saved. I have a well-known dislike for systems that give answers to people who haven't (and so won't) read their bibles but I think the time has come to truly test what I believe.

This year I will be writing a book that introduces the thesis which is reasonably well developed in my mind, but has not been committed to writing as of yet.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

TESTING TULIP: Total Depravity/Inability

UPDATE: Please scroll down to the bottom of the Comments & click the link that says "newer" or "newest" on the lower right hand side to see the latest commets. We have now gone beyond 200 comments! 


These articles are open for discussion but only within the terms described in the introduction to the series. If you wish to participate you must adhere to the requirements in order to do so. More information about my thought process and motivations can be found in a more recent post The Implications Don't Matter if it is True.

Monergism.com has this to say about the TULIP doctrine of Total Depravity (Total Inability).
Because of the fall, man is unable of himself to savingly believe the gospel. The sinner is dead, blind, and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt. His will is not free, it is in bondage to his evil nature; therefore, he will not--indeed he cannot--choose good over evil in the spiritual realm. Consequently, it takes much more than the Spirit's assistance to bring a sinner to Christ--it takes regeneration by which the Spirit makes the sinner alive and gives him a new nature. Faith is not something man contributes to salvation but is itself a part of God's gift of salvation--it is God's gift to the sinner, not the sinner’s gift to God.
These are the Scriptures that they reference to support these claims.
Genesis 2:15-17;  Romans 5:12;  Psalms 51:5; 1Corinthians 2:14;  Romans 3:10-18; Jeremiah 17:9;  John 6:44;  Ephesians 2:1-10 
Here are the claims they make in point form to explicitly show what claims are being made:
1.  Because of the Fall Man is unable to of himself to savingly believe the Gospel. The sinner is dead, blind, and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt. 
2.  The sinner's will is not free, it is in bondage to his evil nature; therefore, he will not --indeed he cannot-- choose good over evil in the spiritual realm. 
3.  The Spirit must regenerate (make alive, give a new nature to) the sinner in order that he can come to Christ. 
4. Faith is not something man contributes to salvation but is itself a part of God's gift of salvation, it is the gift to the sinner not the sinner's gift to God. 
The Canons of Dort or the Synod of Dort are the basis of TULIP. The Canons are built on the assumption of the "Eternal Decrees of God" which are not found in Scripture, but assumed to be true based on logical inference from the particular view of the Sovereignty of God demanded by the Canons also TULIP.  NOTE: I have worked and reworked this paragraph trying to be a generous as I can be, while also being faithful to the Calvinist position and giving an objective view of the relationship. The Calvinist would not see this as circular because they see the Eternal Decrees as being the foundation which are understood from the nature of God as they see it revealed in the whole of the Scriptures.

Wayne Grudem has this to say in his Systematic Theology (copyright 1994, Inter-Varsity Press & Zondervan Publishing House):

Of the Providence of God; that God "cooperates with created things in every action, directing their distinctive properties to cause them to act as they do" (Page 315)

Of the Eternal Decrees of God; "are the eternal plans of God whereby, before the creation of the world, he determined to bring about everything that happens." (Page 332)

Thus while TULIP's view of Total Depravity is focused on Soteriology (the study of Salvation) that man is totally incapable of believing the Gospel the modern system of theology known as Calvinism holds that man is actually incapable of doing anything (good, evil or otherwise) by his own will.

The Canons of Dort statement on the corruption of man.

On this particular topic the Canons include 17 articles or statements. These do not include Scripture references. One can read them at the above link but I will not be responding to them each. The reasons for writing the Canons can be seen in the additional paragraphs which are responses to perceived errors of theology at the time of the writing. The Second Synod of Dort 1618-1619. Most of the articles and paragraphs actually have nothing to do with our discussion because they speak to ideas that are not, have not, nor ever will be presented at this Blog. They are about a different discussion.

That being said, Paragraph 4 adds the following Scripture references in support of the idea that unregenerate man cannot believe. Eph 2:1 & 5; Gen 6:5; Gen 8:21; Ps 51:17; and Matt 5:6.

Also, Paragraph 5 adds the following in support of "infusing" something into the will of man so that he will believe prior to belief. This is support of the TULIP view of regeneration prior to faith. Jer 31:33; Isa 44:3; Rom 5:5; and finally the church practice of praying "Restore me and I will return" from Jer 31:18.

On page 678 of Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology he discusses the idea that "Election based on Something Good in Us (Our Faith) Would Be the Beginning of Salvation by Merit." 

These are the claims of Monergism.com, the Synod of Dort, and Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology with regard to the doctrine of Total Depravity (Inability).  These are the foundational teaching resources of modern Calvinism. If anyone reading is inclined to say that I have "misrepresented" Calvinism then theirs is not the Calvinism of the Calvinists and they should find someone who wants to talk about their own Calvinism. I will be discussing the Calvinism of the Calvinists here. I do not have the energy or the will to chase a moving target. Either the Calvinism of the Calvinists is either biblical or it is not biblical. It is my soul purpose here to find out and demonstrate either possibility as it so happens to be factual.

The last time I looked at TULIP I gave statements on each of the passages cited in the reference document. This time I am not forwarding an alternate view at all so I will only comment on verses that either do or could support each of the claims.

Here we go! 


The Calvinists I interact with, and leading proponent Wayne Grudem all seem to agree that if a person can believe then they have reason to brag. I have always found this hard to understand. Can one brag because they believe the Sky is blue? However, in light of the sort of gospel that must be preached in accordance with Limited Atonement - that Jesus didn't necessarily die for your sins, and so Eternal Salvation may or may not be available to you - now I can at least understand why it would seem reasonable to TULIP believers that a person would have to do something amazing in order to believe. That I understand one potential reason why it may seem to a TULIP believer that one could brag about believing in Christ doesn't make it biblical however. There is no Scripture given as reference so I must simply consider the claim itself. Is faith meritorious?

Romans 4:16 a "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace..." It had to be by faith so that it could be of unmerited favor. It would seem that both the primary concern of TULIP believers, that of stealing glory, praise, or credit from God in the Salvation process by a Believer being able to claim to have believed and also the secondary concern of being able to claim to be better than the person who didn't believe are not concerns which are in accord with the Scriptures.

NOTE: For each of the claims I will review all of the referenced passages, but only comment on those which I can imagine someone might use to support the claim.

Claim 1.  Because of the Fall Man is unable to of himself to savingly believe the Gospel.  The sinner is dead, blind, and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt.

Gen 2:15-17 contradicts the claim as it indicates that Man would gain the knowledge of good and evil.

1Cor 2:14 is part of the 2nd Chapter of 1st Corinthians. The chapter starts with Paul explaining that he had determined to know nothing among them but Christ and Him Crucified. He goes on in Vs 6 stating that "However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature.." Paul continues his thought in 1Cor 3:1-4 where he states. "And I Brethren could not speak to you as spiritual people but as to carnal, as babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it. And even now you are still not able to receive it; for you are still carnal."  It is clear that the wisdom that cannot be received is explicitly NOT the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For though these new and disorderly Believers were unable to receive the meat of wisdom Paul knew they could receive the message of Christ and Him Crucified. In fact they had already received that message. Acts 18:8 Thus, 1Cor 2:14 actually contradicts Claim 1.

Rom 3:10-18 states that no one does these things. Not that no one is able to do them. It says that no one seeks after God, not that no one can believe the Gospel. Is one saved by grace through seeking? By grace through understanding? No. Eph 2:8-9 says that we are saved by grace through faith.

Jn 6:44 is the problem, Jn 12:32 is the solution. Each use the same word for draw.

Here are some potentially interesting notes:
Jn 6:37 give/grant 1325 All that the Father gives will come
Jn 6:65 give/grant 1325 None can come to Me unless it has been granted.
Acts 11:18 give/grant 1325 They glorified God saying "Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance unto life!"  
Jn 6:44 draw 1670 No one can come unless the Father draws him.
Jn 12:32 draw 1670 If I be lifted up, will draw all men.... speaking of the Father drawing because He was explaining why the Father had spoken. 
Clearly Israel had the issue of thinking they were exclusively God's people. We read this over and over again. They thought they were safe because they had a blood line back to Abraham. They were God's Elect Nation. If one was to come to God one had to be converted to Judaism, they had to go through Israel to get to God. Now however, God has granted repentance unto life to the Gentiles and we come to the Father through Christ alone. 

Thus Jn 6:44 does not indicate that one cannot believe the Gospel. It is speaking of the problem of accessibility of God, not ability to Believe in Him.

Eph 2:1-10 can be read in such a way that it sounds like faith is the Gift of God. However, Greek doesn't work like English. Faith is not the gift of God. Salvation that is by grace and accessed through faith is the gift of God. "The Gift of God is Eternal Life in Christ Jesus our Lord" Romans 6:23 not the faith that we have in Him. To see how the Greek works in this passage view this previous article "John Calvin Describes the Faith That Saves."  Here's a diagram that may help.
Faith and Gift are different Genders. Faith cannot be the gift of God.
Thus Eph 2:1-10 does not show that man cannot believe the Gospel.

Gen 6:5, 8:21 talk of the intent or desires of the people's hearts. They do not speak of their ability, but of their intent. Further, we are saved by grace through faith, not by grace through intent or desire.

Jer 31:33 This is about the New Covenant with "The House of Judah and the House of Israel" Jer 31:31-38. The promises here are national. This is not about individual Eternal Salvation at all.

Jer 31:18 is not speaking of regeneration, it is about restoring blessings to the Northern Kingdom. Ephraim is used by the Prophets to indicate and personify the Northern Kingdom. This is also about returning, not about becoming saved.

On the matter of Claim 1

There is no scriptural support for the idea that man cannot savingly believe the Gospel provided by these sources. I am not aware of any passage that would, or could, give credence to this claim.  Man's heart is wicked and deceitful, but it has not been demonstrated how this means that no one can believe the Gospel. 


Claim 2.  The sinner's will is not free, it is in bondage to his evil nature; therefore, he will not --indeed he cannot-- choose good over evil in the spiritual realm.

Firstly, one is eternally saved when they receive (or believe, or have faith in, or have trust in) the Gospel found in 1Cor 15:1-11, not by "choosing good over evil." 1Cor 15:1; Acts 18:8

Eph 2:1-5 Most assuredly the one who is still in his sins is dead in them. Gen 2:17 is the warning that this would happen and 2Cor 5:14 is the affirmation of the absolute proof that it did indeed happen. However, the claim is not about if the person is dead or not, it is about if they are in absolute bondage (no free will) to their evil nature. Genesis 6:5 says that the people of the world only desired evil things. Depravity is clearly a biblical truth which many of the passages referenced affirm. Yet do any of them say that people are in complete bondage to their evil nature and are unable to believe the Gospel? Of course no passage says any such thing.

With regards to works the Bible is clear that all our righteousness is like filthy rags. Isa 64:6 Even after we are saved OUR righteousness profits us nothing. We need the righteousness of Christ which is by faith. Phil 3:1-11 So it is true in a sort of way that unsaved men can do no good. Further, even the good that saved people can do is meaningless for right-standing (righteousness) with God; so the point is moot.

Jesus Christ said "Most assuredly I tell you; whoever commits sin is a slave of sin" John 8:34 The Lord did not make distinction between regenerated and unregenerate persons. He said whoever sins is a slave of sin, and He said "most assuredly" so I don't think this is really up for debate.

There are endless examples of God giving instructions and choices to saved and unsaved persons and nations. I am making it a point that this discussion and evaluation will not be about the implications. If Calvinism is biblical then I need to "Suck it up Buttercup!" and accept the implications - no matter if I like them or not. Likewise, if Calvinism is NOT biblical then those who have previously held to it also need to accept whatever implications that brings. That being stated, I find it hard to reconcile a God who "cannot lie" with a God who says "Whoever may" but really means "Only those I regenerate first may." If God gives a choice must be able to respond to that choice, based on the biblical fact that God cannot lie and does not tempt. Tit 1:2; James 1:13

On the matter of Claim 2

None of the referenced passages indicate that the claim is true, further the issue is about a person's ability to believe the Gospel and not "choosing good over evil."


Claim 3. The Spirit must regenerate (make alive, give a new nature to) the sinner in order that he can come to Christ.

It must be noted first that the language here says what the Spirit "must" do. This is because it is a logical inference from the other claims made in the doctrine of Total Depravity. There is not a single verse in the Scriptures that says that the Spirit does regenerate prior to faith. In fact there is not a single passage that says (or even implies) that this "must" happen either.

People must be drawn, and people are drawn. See the notes above under Claim 1 about drawing. Clearly drawing is not being regenerated.

Jer 31:18 is also noted under Claim 1 above.

Scripture says that the Holy Spirit "convinces" or "convicts" the world of sin, righteousness and judgment, not regenerates them so they can believe. John 16:5-11

I am glad to see that the Monergism website rightly notes that regeneration is when God makes someone alive again, imparts life to them, and gives them the New Nature. When the Lord explained Salvation to Nicodemus He told the man about how Moses raised the bronze serpent up and those who looked at it lived. John 3:1-21The Lord of course is referencing Num 21:4-9 where we read "So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived." We see that it was only when the person looked that they lived. Not that they looked after they had been given life.  Both the Lord, and Moses agree. One looks and so lives, not one lives and so looks.

Eph 2:1-10 states that those who are saved have been made alive. It does not state or imply that this happened, or  must happen, prior to faith.


On the matter of Claim 3

This claim is a logical inference of the other claims made by the doctrine of Total Depravity/Inability and is not found in the Scriptures.


Claim 4. Faith is not something man contributes to salvation but is itself a part of God's gift of salvation, it is the gift to the sinner not the sinner's gift to God.

The characterization of faith in the claim is false. Faith is not a "contribution" at all; it is a reception. 1Cor 15:1 Faith is not a gift to God, for it is without merit. Rom 4:16.

As established above under Claim 1 in discussion of Eph 2:8-9, faith is not the gift of God.

Jer 31:33 is discussed above under Claim 1.

On the matter of Claim 4

It is clear that Scripture does not say that God gives people saving faith.


CONCLUSION

Based on my review of the Scriptures referenced by Mongerism.com and those from the other Calvinist sources that I went looking for there is no support for the claims of the doctrine of Total Depravity/Inability.

I hope it will be noted by those reading that I didn't just limit myself to the few passages that Mongergism.com suggested. I actually searched out other credible Calvinist sources to find the strongest support possible for this doctrine. I hope that my Calvinist friends reading will concede that I did not seek to build a Straw-Man to burn. No one building a Straw-Man seeks out MORE support for the opposing position. I am also unaware of any way I could possibly have "misrepresented Calvinism" by simply quoting these highly respected Calvinist resources.

I do not want to propose an alternate theory to the doctrine being discussed, but while the Scriptures say that man is unwilling Mat 23:37-39; Luke 13:34-35; Mat 22:1-14 the Scriptures do not say that man is unable. If man were unable, if he were bound to only do evil, and was not able to know the Truth then he would have excuse at Judgment. Yet God has left man without excuse. Rom 1:18-21

I am thus constrained to report that the doctrine of Total Depravity/Inability as detailed by Monergism.com and the Synod of Dort is not biblical.

I look forward to discussion about these things. I however, do remind all of the rules (and my disclosures) for this discussion and some additional thoughts.


Resources for the discussion below: 

Image 1 Parsing Jn 10:26 - The Lord used "not" twice.



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Implications Don't Matter, If It Is True

As I have been studying and praying for wisdom in this new "TESTING TULIP" series I have found myself brought back to a thought I try to get people to honestly consider when I'm trying to help them with tough issues.

If TULIP is true, then the implications don't matter. They simply are the implications of truth. Evaluating the implications will accurately determine if TULIP is true or not.

In similar fashion, any lack of truth or validity in any view other than TULIP does not prove TULIP. Therefore it doesn't matter what my view of Election, or Depravity or the Atonement, or how God draws men, or Eternal Security... my view can be wrong at the same time as TULIP is wrong. My view being wrong does not aid the validity of TULIP whatsoever. Obviously if an opposing view is true then this would have the effect of negating TULIP. However, I am not seeking to produce an alternate theory to TULIP in these articles.

I will be testing TULIP. It is either in accordance with the Scriptures or it is not. Alternate theories are not part of that equation.

So I won't be trying to draw conclusions as to what the implications are and I won't be offering alternate theories either. I had previously said that I would give my view of each point, but I think that would lead to distracting arguments about issues that have nothing to do with TULIP.

This will allow me, hopefully, to spend more effort in the Canons of Dort as well. I think what I will be doing is to only use those for more Scripture references for the points of TULIP. I am not going to be trying to answer the very long Canons.

Monday, November 07, 2011

TESTING TULIP - INTRODUCTION

This post will serve as the introduction to the upcoming series testing TULIP according to the Scriptures.  I am not seeking to refute TULIP, but to critically examine it in accordance with 1Thess 5:21 and by using the Scriptures not my intellect or preferences in accordance with Acts 17:11.  Like the Evangelist, Teacher, theologian, and scripture translator John N. Darby I have no sacred cows in theology.  I do not love my theology and will gladly throw it away to know truth without reservation.

THE STANDARD
  • Good Doctrine meets particular standards. Deut 32:1-4, Prov 4:1-4, 1Tim 4:13-16, Tit 1:9-12, Tit 2:1. 
  • God's Word is perfect, sufficient, complete, reliable, covers all topics and is my first and final authority. Ps 119:89, Ps 119:160,  Ps 119:96, Ps 119:102 
  • No teacher (or resource) no matter how dear to me, or offensive to me will have influence above the Scriptures in this discussion. 


THE INTENT

  • To determine if TULIP (or any part thereof) is faithful to the Scriptures or not. 

THE DISCLOSURE


  • At one time I believed in TULIP but this belief was based on teachings I had received. As I grew in my study of the Word various points of TULIP were removed from my theology. I currently deny all 5 points as they have been explained to me. 
  • I do not claim the name "Dispensationalist" but I do believe that God has and will continue to work in Dispensations or Administrations in His dealings with mankind and as He works out His perfect plan for History. (Ephesians) That being said, I have long since come to the conclusion that Covenant Theology is not a faithful representation of God's workings and His plan. I will not be dealing with this in this series, but it is worthy of disclosure. A good representation of my views on the subject can be found in Renald E. Showers' "There Really is a Difference!"
  • I hold strictly to the Historical-Grammatical Hermeneutic. I do not deviate from this from cover to cover of the Bible. It is fair to disclose that I will find it hard to understand why anyone would deviate from this at any point. 
  • I have noted that contemporary believers of TULIP tend strongly and consistently toward the heresy commonly known as Lordship Salvation. This tends to poison the discussion for me, and it is very hard for me to divorce this heresy from the discussion. 
  • I am not a great theologian but I have a great resource in the Scriptures. 
  • I have received very poor treatment by TULIP believers almost without exception for a period of years. I tend not to trust those who hold to these beliefs to interact above the board. I will do my level best to give everyone a fair shake. 


THE RULES 
  • If any of the points of disclosure indicate to you that I will not be fair in this discussion then please stay out of it. I will not be defending these disclosed points. They are provided to aid the discussion in being open and Christ-honoring. 
  • A commenter may ask one question of a person at a time, no more. Once the commenter's question is answered they will be expected to answer the question of the person they asked. There may be several people talking with each other at once. This will keep questions from being buried under comments, and will hopefully keep participants from feeling overwhelmed. 
  • Intimidation will not be tolerated at all. I alone will decide if someone is dealing in intimidation. Intimidation will result in no further comments being posted by that person. 
  • Questions will be asked and answered clearly by all who participate. Underhanded questions, or answers will not be tolerated. 
  • There will be no links to articles or other resources.  Commenters may explain a point and link only to scripture. 
  • Finally, each of the discussions must at some point come to an end. The debates about Calvinism have gone on for centuries. I hope to have a better understanding at the end, and that others will as well.  If a conversation is no longer productive it will be helpful if we just end it and move on to the next topic. I understand this can be exceedingly hard in some instances. 

I think that's it. If something else unexpected comes up then I reserve the right to change these at any time. Of course, no one is obligated to participate and my intent is to have several people actually do so. I have no desire to make rules that leave people in an unfair position or feel abused. I am just trying to ensure there is proper discussion.


Friday, November 04, 2011

The Faith Problem (Evangelism 101.12)

The problem with preaching the Gospel any other way than how the Apostles preached it is that we will probably remove the ability of the person we are witnessing to, to come to true faith.    

   



Tripping TULIP (Again)

I've decided to take another look at TULIP. A few years ago I wrote a series of articles called "Tripping TULIP" It generated no small amount of offense.

I'm a couple of years older, perhaps more familiar with the Scriptures, perhaps more mature, perhaps... well perhaps I'm not any of those things! I'm going to go back to TULIP and see if I can be convinced this time. Recently I've tired of debating Calvinism. The endless accusations of "straw-man arguments" and "misrepresentations" really bug me. Half of the problem is that it is very very hard to find a Calvinist who will state plainly what he believes and why, AND be willing to have his theology be tested by what he says he believes and why.

Recently I've been discussing things like Double Predestination as a logical result of Total Inability and Unconditional Election. Now John Calvin believed this was logical, and necessary, and so does John Piper.

Here's what John Calvin taught:
" By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death."  Institutes of the Christian Religion Book 3 Chapter 21
The other topic I've been involved with recently is how the idea of a Limited Atonement gospel gives nothing for the sinner to put their faith in. If you can't know that Christ died for you, then you can't put your faith in the fact that He did. The other issue that has been discussed at the same time is how preaching a Limited Atonement gospel to "every creature" forces the preacher to lie to nearly everyone. If Jesus Christ only died for a very few people who will ever live in all of History then preaching to everyone that He died for their sins (1Cor 15:1-11) results in the preacher almost always lying.

Now I'm under no illusions... I know that Calvinists are going say "We don't say that!" I have been searching for a clear, freely available, complete presentation of TULIP that contemporary Calvinists would agree is an accurate representation of those points. I intend on using the presentation that is available on the Moergism.com website.

The Canons of Dort are what these points were formulated from, but frankly because of how they are formatted and the language used in them they are not clear enough. It would be too easy for someone to say "That's not what it means!" I'll have none of that thanks. I will take TULIP exactly as it is presented at one of the most popular Calvinism websites and hold the theology to that presentation.

In testing each point I will take the description and break it down into a series of claims made. I will then see if the scripture references supplied actually validate the claims or not. Any claims which are made by Scripture will be held to be true.  Any claims found not to be directly made by Scripture, and are not directly required by a plain reading of the Scripture will be found to be false.

I'll also consider things that seem to be directly required by the points of TULIP if they are to be considered true.

At any point, Calvinists may suggest further passages in support of the points of TULIP as detailed by the reference article. If the Calvinist does not agree with the article I have chosen to review they should say so, but not expect me to debate several "flavours" of TULIP. I am reviewing this article because it is a clear reference at a high profile Calvinism website. I expect it to be faithful to what Calvinists believe. If it is not, then I would suggest making a complaint directly to the owners of Monergism.com

Finally, I have not gone over my previous articles, nor have I pre-read the source article beyond to see that it seems to match other similar articles I've seen. I will be starting from as close to scratch as I can. We'll see how it goes together!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Accurate TULIP Presentation?

TULIP?
I am looking for what contemporary 5 Point Calvinists would agree is an accurate and complete online presentation of TULIP. I would like this to include descriptions and scripture references for each of the points. If you would stand by a presentation of these points, that I can get to freely, please drop a link in the comments.

Thanks!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Faith (Evangelism 101.11)

A Christian in Canada Presents - Faith

What is Faith and where does it come from? 








John Calvin's commentary on Eph 2:8-10 is quoted in the video.http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/comment3/comm_vol41/htm/iv.iii.iii.htm 

And here we must advert to a very common error in the interpretation of this passage. Many persons restrict the word gift to faith alone. But Paul is only repeating in other words the former sentiment. His meaning is, not that faith is the gift of God, but that salvation is given to us by God, or, that we obtain it by the gift of God.

God declares, that he owes us nothing; so that salvation is not a reward or recompense, but unmixed grace. The next question is, in what way do men receive that salvation which is offered to them by the hand of God? The answer is, by faith;and hence he concludes that nothing connected with it is our own. If, on the part of God, it is grace alone, and if we bring nothing but faith, which strips us of all commendation, it follows that salvation does not come from us.

When, on the part of man, the act of receiving salvation is made to consist in faith alone, all other means, on which men are accustomed to rely, are discarded. Faith, then, brings a man empty to God, that he may be filled with the blessings of Christ.

Created to good works. They err widely from Paul's intention, who torture this passage for the purpose of injuring the righteousness of faith. Ashamed to affirm in plain terms, and aware that they could gain nothing by affirming, that we are not justified by faith, they shelter themselves under this kind of subterfuge. "We are justified by faith, because faith, by which we receive the grace of God, is the commencement of righteousness; but we are made righteous by regeneration, because, being renewed by the Spirit of God, we walk in good works." In this manner they make faith the door by which we enter into righteousness, but imagine that we obtain it by our works, or, at least, they define righteousness to be that uprightness by which a man is formed anew to a holy life. I care not how old this error may be; but they err egregiously who endeavor to support it by this passage.

When Paul lays down the cause of justification, he dwells chiefly on this point, that our consciences will never enjoy peace till they rely on the propitiation for sins.

The Gospel (Evangelism 101.10)

The bad news is we're all sinners who are going to be judged by a perfect righteous Judge.

The Good News (the Gospel) is that Jesus Christ paid our price!

In this video I review the content of the Gospel to see what "in accordance with the Scriptures" means.

Here's the Gospel as prophesied in the Old Testament.

Christ's substitutionary death (Isa. 53:5), burial (Isa. 53:9), resurrection (Isa.53:10), and manifestation to His offspring (literally "seed," Isa. 53:10; cf. Jn.12:23-24, 14:1916:16-22,20:19-23, etc.). David records a similar prophecy outlining the Messiah's death (Ps. 22:14-16), burial (Ps. 22:15; cf. Ps. 104:29), resurrection (Ps. 22:19-21), and manifestation to His brethren (Ps.22:22; cf. Matt. 28:10; Jn. 20:17; Heb. 2:11-13).[3] This is also the gospel according to the apostle Paul (cf. Acts 13:26-41, 26:22-28; 1 Cor. 15:1ff, etc.)

The order of witnessing the Risen Christ:
• Mary -- John 20:10-18
• Mary Magdalene and the other Mary -- Matthew 28:1-10
• Peter (Cephas) -- 1 Corinthians 15:5
• Two Disciples -- Luke 24:13-35
• Ten Apostles -- Luke 24:36-49; John 20:19-23
• Eleven Apostles -- John 20:24-31
• Seven Apostles -- John 21
• All Apostles -- Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:14-18
• 500 Brethren -- 1 Corinthians 15:6
• James -- 1 Corinthians 15:7
• All Apostles -- Acts 1:4-8
• Paul -- Acts 9:1-9; 1 Corinthians 15:8

Many more prophecies are detailed at this websitehttp://bible.org/article/messianic-prophecies

I do not endorse this website or the organization that runs it. I have found particular page to be helpful.

I'm a Christian in Canada. What about you?


Monday, October 10, 2011

God Who Cannot Lie?

I've asked a question in other places, and I will ask it here as well.

Can God, who cannot lie, say something that is subjectively true but NOT objectively true? 

I'm most interested in how 5 Point Calvinists will answer this question, but how would YOU answer this question? Are you sure?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Think Different



It is terrible news that Steve Jobs died today at age 56. We are handed an opportunity to explain why this world truly has nothing to offer however. Let us remember the severity of the eternity sinners face, and let that terror drive us to reach them, to reason with them, and PLEAD WITH THEM to be reconciled to God.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Asking About Sin (Evangelism 101.9)

Taken from the YouTube description:


In this episode of A Christian in Canada Presents Kevin discusses how he gets to the heart of the issue with people he witnesses to. The tough conversation about sin, righteousness and judgment. Hear the kind of questions he asks and why.

Finally hear how you don't have to leave the Sinner in guilt and shame. In this episode Kevin shares the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with you, and also in the hope that you would share it with everyone else.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Can One Choose to Believe, or Just to Disbelieve?

Did you make a good choice?
As a sort of follow up to my last article Can One Have a False Faith or Just a Delusion? I am asking you to consider the reversal of a criticism that I hear from Calvinists who hold to the Total Inability understanding of Total Depravity.

In conversations with Calvinists I will often be accused of attributing a person's Eternal Salvation to being the result of a "good choice" that they made to believe the Gospel, or accept Christ or however they want to express how one becomes saved. I invariably point them to Romans 4:16 which shows us that salvation had to be accessible through faith alone in order that it could bey by grace, or unmerited favor. I explain that this shows that no one can boast, or feel good about, having faith. Only works give us reason to brag or expect rewards. Rom 4:1-25, and Eph 2:8-9 show this clearly.

No for me this ends the debate. As far as I'm concerned the question of giving someone something to brag about, or contributing to one's own salvation if that person is responsible and able to bring faith is answered absolutely by the fact that God does not look on faith as something "good" and to be rewarded.

So if my faith is "MY faith" and I'm saved by Grace through that faith, then is salvation "not all of God"?Have I made a "good choice" have I done something "good" by choosing to believe? I actually think the Bible gives us the answer in even more detail than I had previously thought.  Rom 4:16 settles it, but the concept is explored even more.

Romans 1:18-32 shows us that people do know there is a God and choose not to worship Him. Acts 28:24 says that some believed because they were persuaded and others "disbelieved." In John 3:18 the Lord says that those who have "not believed" are condemned but in John 3:20 He explains that those who do not believe actually refuse to believe.

I don't think that one "chooses" to believe. I think one is persuaded (as per Acts 28:24) God and His agencies (Creation, the Bible, Preachers, Situations...) persuade someone and that person then passively believes. Other people will refuse to believe, they will harden their hearts.

Therefore, I believe, it is not that I did something good that resulted in my salvation, nor did I even make a decision. My will was not involved. However, others harden their hearts by wilfully disbelieving and actually make a BAD decision to refuse to believe.

The only human will involved was to make the choice to not believe. Believing is passive, no will required. Rom 9:16 One doesn't choose to believe, they are convinced by whatever God does to convince them. There is no "ability" involved. One does not exercise some skill, ability or goodness to believe. They are persuaded.

Here are some Bible refs to reasoning with the Lost and persuading them. These do not fit with Total Inability.


Reasoning Isa 1:18; Acts 17:2; Acts 17:17; Acts 18:4; Acts 18:19; Acts 19:19; Acts 24:24-25
 Persuade 2Cor 5:11; Luke 16:31; Acts 17:4; Acts 18:4; Acts 19:26; Acts 28:24; Gal 1:10; 


The Supporting Evidence (Evangelism 101.7)

Whatever gets you into an encounter with the lost and gives you the opportunity to witness to them probably isn't what you want to focus on when you're actually sharing Christ. So what should you talk about?


Friday, September 09, 2011

No one has seen the Father, but we can see the Father if we look at the Son.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Can One Have a False Faith, or Just a Delusion?

Do" false converts" stick their head in the sand?
This is a serious question. I write a lot of commentary on the views of Lordship Salvation (LS) proponents. I haven't had anyone really support that view, or challenge my assertions about it here here in a long time. I hope that some of you LS proponents will comment on this article though.

I've asked the following in another location, and have not yet had it answered. I hope someone here will take a stab at it.
LS proponents say you can evaluate to find out if you have really believed in Jesus. Can anyone give another example of something you could only "think" you believe in?  
As far as I can discern, only delusions are false beliefs. Belief in vain, in something that isn't real or true. That's Paul's point in 1Cor 15 wrt to believing in vain.  
Even in the case of a delusion the person really believes it.  
Can you not be sure if you believe 2+2=4? I can see not having confidence in it... if you don't know yet - but that is the definition of NOT believing. Not "thinking" you believe.  
So can anyone give another example other than faith in Jesus where it would be possible to only think you believe in something?  
I don't buy it.
Is there an example of something that a person might truly believe they believe to be true, and yet somehow they don't actually believe it?

If the answer is what I expect it to be: No there is no example of something that someone could believe they believe, but somehow not actually believe it - then what use is evaluating your faith to find out if you have truly believed? There is no such thing as a false faith, there can only be faith and delusion. Both are equal in quality, but a delusion is a true faith in something that is false. The person has been deluded into believing a lie.

I hope someone has an interesting answer.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tithing and Circumcision

Really? A cleaner, fresher soul?
10% or more for "best results"?
Galatians 5:1-6
1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.  
2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.  
5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.
Have you ever been in a discussion about Tithing where the idea comes up that while it is true a Christian is not under "The Law" but that Tithing was instituted prior to "The Law" so "it has always been God's plan/requirement"? Have you ever heard someone give that argument, or given it yourself?

I've discussed this subject many times and I categorically hold to the view that a Christian is not to be compelled to "tithe." As I point out often, the person claiming a Christian must or should Tithe often has little idea what a "Tithe" is. They think it is 10% of a person's income. I've often been satisfied (because I'm sometimes needlessly rude) by asking a person to define the Tithe using the Scriptures. Can you? To be honest, I can only do so in a very rudimentary way myself. It's actually a pretty complicated system with lots of if/then type clauses. Go ahead, do an honest study of the subject. What did the Jews really have to do in order to fulfill the Tithe? Once you know the answer, then try to figure out how a Christian is supposed to do all of that, and who exactly the Tithe is supposed to be given to. OK so that's a complicated, and actually somewhat rude way of killing the argument. Not only is it rude, it is only partially helpful, and much too complicated to even be practical in most normal conversations.

Galatians 5:1
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 
Stand fast in the Liberty Christ provides and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Since a specific yoke is not identified this means any yoke of bondage - including some religious system that includes following rules about giving.

So this is all well and good, but what about the idea that Tithing was instituted before "The Law" was given and therefore just because a Christian is not under "The Law" we still must follow what God has always required? Well firstly, the Christian is not under law, not just not under "The Law" Rom 6:14. Further, "The Law" means Torah, not just the 10 Commandments. There is no revelation, practice or requirement instituted by God for Mankind prior to Torah. So that argument is dead. But.... I want to nail the coffin shut because bad teaching tends to get resurrected by men all to often; many times with good intent.

Galatians 5:2-4
2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 
Here Paul is telling us that if one becomes circumcised that one is in debt to keep the whole law. How often have we read this and not thought about Tithing? Pretty often I'd bet!

When people talk about Tithing (or their understanding of Tithing anyway) being instituted or recognized or accepted (depending on the person's level of faithfulness to what the Text actually says) before The 10 Commandments were given in Exodus 20:1-17 they are talking about Jacob's vow to God.

Genesis 28:18-22
18 Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. 19 And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously.
20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21 so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God. 22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”
God accepts Jacob's vow, and people use this as a precedence for requiring the Christian to "give God" 10% of their income. Because God accepted this one might make the case that we are required to follow suit.

Yet we read in Galatians 5:1-6 that if a person becomes circumcised that they are in debt to keep the whole law which Christians are not under (as we read in multiple places in the NT).

It's interesting that Circumcision wasn't just recognized or accepted by God it was commanded by Him. Further it was commanded by Him 11 chapters prior to His accepting Jacob's vow. (*see update) This command was given to our spiritual father - Abraham (Abram). Another argument used to support Tithing is that Abraham paid "a tenth part" to Melchizedek Heb 7:1-10 and so we must also do likewise.

*UPDATE: I did make an error here. Abram is recorded giving a tithe to Melchizedek in Genesis 14:18-24, several chapters earlier than Circumcision is commanded. I do not believe this changes the argument, or lessens it's accuracy. However, it does take away some of the emotional impact of stating "11 chapters prior"... 

Yet, Circumcision was commanded by God to Abram for him and all his descendants.

Genesis 17: 9-11 
9 And God said to Abraham: “As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 10 This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; 11 and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.
This is a command, not just an accepted vow, and Paul tells us unequivocally that if we attempt to follow this instruction that Christ will profit us nothing. While my mistake (*see update) is most real, both events happen well before the giving of "The Law." I strongly believe therefore that Paul's warning applies to both.

My Brethren, do not again subject yourself to a yoke of bondage thinking that somehow you are honoring God through your supposed obedience. You are reducing the perfect sacrifice of Christ from complete fulfillment to a mere enabler.

How can a Christian decide how much to give, and who to give it to?

2Cor 9:6-15 and 1Tim 5:17-18 can be of considerable help, but you'll notice there is no rule (neither law nor Law) to follow in either passage. Not even a suggested minimum...

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Defense Team (Evangelism 101.4)

Criminal Defense Lawyers get a bad rap, but the defense we go up against when we're witnessing with God to the Lost is truly evil.

Meet the Defense Team.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Evangelism 101: The Preliminary Trial

Here's another episode of A Christian in Canada Presents!

When we're witnessing with God to the lost we have no right to put them on trial. It is however, in their absolute best interest that we help them through a sort of preliminary hearing of the evidence that will be presented against them at their ultimate judgment if they don't plead guilty while they can. If one sees their guilt, then hears how that guilt has been paid for at the Cross, believes in the Gospel of Jesus Christ 1Cor 15:1-11 then they will be saved.

That's why we help them judge themselves, but never judge them ourselves.

Make sure you watch in HD! 



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Spent the night in the hospital

So I hit the trails on my mountain bike really hard last night. I wanted to impress my wife, who is an athlete, with my best possible time on a 24KM route that we really enjoy. I was out by myself and going as fast as I possibly could. I got home and was able to take a moment to brag, and then things started to go south. Eventually I collapsed and she had to call 911.

As I lay on the floor in the recovery position try to stay conscious we prayed. The Gospel I preach is the same Gospel that gave me comfort in those moments as we waited for the ambulance to arrive. I can tell you there is no assurance like the assurance that comes from full and complete confidence in the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

The ambulance showed up and they went to work on me... then they took me to the hospital were my wife I spent the night. As I laid there in my emergency room bed I was very uncomfortable, but the man in the next bed beside me was in agony. He was very scared and the pain was wearing him down.

Late in the night/morning he said something that really struck a nerve with me. It scared me. I started to think again about why I share the Gospel with people. Here's what he said to his wife:

"Dear this hurts too much. It hurts too much.... (pause)... OK that's it that's all I can take I can't take any more. We have to get out of here. It hurts too much I have to get out of here."

I wonder if this is what it will be like for those who suffer eternally in the Lake of Fire. Will they say these same words, and mean them, and yet not be able to escape? We have a pure and holy Gospel which offers people salvation from such a unthinkable eternity.

We MUST get it to them!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Calvinism, Religion and Worldliness

Lou has posted an article by Yours Truly over at his In Defense of the Gospel blog. Here's a short snippet from it.
Let’s consider that Calvinism, in its practical sense, is fundamentally concerned with how people bring God glory. God is said to be orchestrating every instance of history to bring Himself glory and we have no actual say in our part of His sovereign plan. It is explained that any choice made by a person to serve God would violate His sovereignty, because all things are by His decree alone. Decree is actually a very accurate rendering for the word grace in the Calvinistic understanding that salvation is “by grace.” It is said the sinner is used to bring God glory through his/her judgment and subsequent eternal punishment while the saint is used through obedience and good works. Logically, since God is orchestrating every instance of history, it is said that one can evaluate which part of God’s program one is on through evaluating how one is bringing glory to God. Are you characterized by sin that will be judged and punished, or are you characterized by righteousness? This is how Calvinism is practically applied in the lives of those who are taught it: look at yourself and evaluate. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Being an Expert Witnes (Evangelism 101.2)

Here's Episode 2 of A Christian in Canada Presents in the Evangelism series of videos. This video is entitled "Being an Expert Witness"

Being a witness for God is a lot like being an Expert Witness in a criminal trial. You're not the Judge, the accuser, jury or even a witness to the crimes (sin) -- you're just there to testify about the truth you know about.



Thursday, August 04, 2011

Some Things I've Noticed

What a Summer! What a Summer....

I recently decided to stop fellowshipping at the same church I've been at for the last two years. You know compromise seems like such a good idea... but think about the whole debt ceiling thing in the USA. They've just come to some, non-specific, compromise that will let them stick their heads in the sand until 2013.. when (if the Lord tarries) they'll have the same "crisis" all over again and they'll have all the same issues to deal with.

Compromise isn't always helpful. Do you compromise in life? Sure, about desires... about wants... about schedules... but not about TRUTH. You can't "compromise" about TRUTH because then TRUTH becomes compromised - and does not remain TRUE.

I'm truly sick of the Lordship Salvation movement.  So here are a couple of things I've noticed about it that really make me scratch my head.

When I hear a Lordship Salvation proponent talking about repentance being turning over a new leaf, changing direction, turning from sin, forsaking sin, stopping sin, feeling remorseful enough to never want to sin again, hating sin, changing from disobeying God to seeking only to obey Him, submitting one's self to the mastery of Christ over all areas of your life... or any number of other definitions that go beyond what the Scriptures say.... well I almost invariably suggest that the person take a listen to a very good, very complete study of all the usages of "repentance" in the OT and NT in the form of a course freely offered online by the Bible Believers Network Bible Institute. I always note that the course is about 5 hours long.

You know what response I get? Consistently, actually without exception, the Lordship Salvation proponent will balk at taking a free 5 hour course on repentance that goes through the Bible passage by passage. I cannot tell you the motivation of the person - only God knows a person's heart - but I can tell you about how hypocritical it looks to me, every single time. You see the person will have been telling me how "true" Christians are sold out for God and seek to obey Him at all times in all ways, that they have completely submitted their will to that of God. Yet they balk at spending 5 hours on the fundamental doctrine they preach.... Seriously? How am I supposed to react to this?

Consistently, I react by telling that I understand that 5 hours is quite an investment (while trying to keep from either sighing or sounding sarcastic - sometimes neither is at all easy) and so I suggest that they pick up a copy of HA Ironside's Unless You Repent. You can get it from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca and in many GOOD Bible stores. It costs about $12... Guess what? That's too much apparently... or they don't want to order from Amazon.. or they have some other excuse. OK I understand that sometimes money is tight, and one might not be too sure of the validity of the work of a Canadian. ;) So how do I respond?

Well there is a free version of this work online but it is in older King James English. It can be found at Wholesome Words (PDF). At this point the one I'm speaking with will sometimes tell me they will "take a look at it" however, I have yet to ever have a single person come back to me to tell me that they have actually done so.

So what am I to think about all of this? Well I think you know what I think about all this. I also have a deep, deep dislike of how some people will preach to others that they must be sold out for Christ in order to qualify for Salvation, that they must forsake all in order to attain Eternal Life, and that if they haven't submitted every area of their life to the mastery of Jesus Christ that they will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire - and yet the preacher is himself very worldly.

You know, the Lord did say that you can tell a Prophet by his fruit. Do I believe the gospel you preach? Not much chance if I must first ask you; do YOU?