Saturday, December 31, 2011

Holiness is happiness

My daughter plays by sitting in one place and manipulating objects, because in her mind sitting leads to playing, and playing is happiness. For the longest time this is how I saw the interplay between holiness and joy. 'If I am holy, then I will be joyful' seems so very plausible because it's true that if you are holy, then you will be happy in Christ, but the very structure of the thought is harmful because it imposes the idea that holy is the cause of the effect happiness, that they are two distinct things.
Now this is a step up from Piper who starts from the wrong end "Look for joy and then you will find holiness" but even so, upon watching my kids today it occurs to me that there is an even better way to view the dynamic between holiness and joy.

My son plays by crawling around, to him mobility is not a means to an end, it is the end, the crawling itself is what brings him happiness. 
This, I think, is the superior way to view the interchange between joy and holiness- not that one causes the other, but that one is the manifestation of the other. That they are essentially the same thing.

And so, mans chief end, to glorify God and enjoy Him forever could be shortened to be Holy, just as God is holy, (1 Peter 1:15), because holiness is joy.

Friday, December 23, 2011

A lesson about panic

Last night while the kids and I were in the car, but my wife was still in the house my daughter began to scream because she was convinced we were going to 'leave mommy behind' and no amount of 'no we're not, just trust me' seemed to make a difference. Once in the car the wife and I had a good laugh because Kaylie was so worked up over nothing, but then it occurred to me how very much like that we are. We too have this irrational unexplainable belief God is not going to make good on His word to go and prepare a place for us, He is not interested in coming back for us or ensuring us He is telling the truth, we are going to be left orphans- abandoned.
Man is by nature distrustful of God's promises because he is fallen. This is why we reject Perseverance of the Saints, not because it isn't biblical.

The Church of Christ monkeys with a good song

The song 'To God be the Glory' as seen here (minus verse two) is probably well known, but because I grew up in the Church of Christ we learned a different version. This is the line I heard yesterday for the first time:
O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
To every believer the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

Perhaps it's not shocking to you to hear the confession of justification in this hymn, nor it is surprising to hear that a decree of God cannot be undone, which means a pardon is good for all time. But because some guy changed it I learned it this way:

O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
To every believer the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly obeys
That moment may enter the heavenly way
.

No pardon, no belief, just obedience (that means baptism and good works). No mention of Jesus, no respect to Him as sovereign, fit to dispense grace as He sees fit. You do what God, not Jesus, tells you, you work hard and you may just make it to heaven. Because you see, you don't enter heaven, you enter the heavenly road, the narrow way, which begins your work. In light of this last line the first stops making sense, for how can redemption be perfect unless it's complete? But no matter. Work hard and be a good person, and one day you will go to heaven.  And my wife wonders why I get mad at them occasionally.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Integrated Advent Chronology

Luke 1:5,8-9,23-24a,26-28,31,39,56 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah (1 Chron 24:10). And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth....Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty (about late September) according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense...And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived....In the sixth month (about late March) the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary And he came to her and said, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!...Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus"... In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah...And Mary remained with her about three months (until John was born, late June) and returned to her home.

Matthew 1:18b-21 When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

Luke 2:1,4-5,7-11,16 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.... And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child... And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, (about late December) because there was no place for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people, for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord... And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.

Luke 2:21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Matthew 2:1,7,11-15- "Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."(this would mean they left before He was born)...Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him."... And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt I called my son."

Matthew 2:19-21 - But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, "Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead. And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. "

Luke 2:22- And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, (Lev 12:1-4) they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord

Luke 2:39a, Matthew 2:22a, Luke 2:39b, Matthew 2:22b And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord...he (Joseph) heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee...to their own town of Nazareth....(so) that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled: "He shall be called a Nazarene."

(Note: The temple dedication is the last thing the family does in Luke's account (Luke 2:39) before returning to their home in Nazareth, and according to the law of Moses that's 40 days after He was born. It therefore seems unlikely to me that the family waited around 40 days in Bethlehem, dedicated Jesus, went home to Nazareth, then returned again to Bethlehem (for no given reason) to live there for nearly two years before the Magi reach Judea. It also stretches credulity to say the Magi took nearly two years to make a two month trip on something they were excited about; I think rather that they saw the star before Jesus was born and left in time to arrive very near the time of His birth. That they found Him in a house is not surprising, it is reasonable to assume that immediately after the census everyone fit to travel left for home, clearing up enough space for Joseph to find a house to stay in for a few days while Mary recovered. For that reason I don't think the account of the escape to Egypt should be inserted between Luke 2:39a and b. I think it much more probable that the Magi gifts financed an escape trip and Joseph and Mary were running very low on cash by the time they returned to Jerusalem. The Matthew story should be either right before or right after Luke 2:21.

Friday, December 2, 2011

25 Advent Prophecies

Leading up to Christmas I am leading my family through the famous prophecies about Christ and what they mean. I thought it would be good to keep a record of them here.

Day 1 - Genesis 3:15 - "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel."  From this we learn the Messiah will come from the sperm of a woman, but not of a man. He will hate evil, and crush Satan underfoot, but it will cost Him dearly.

Day 2 - Job 19:25 - "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth." The messiah would be a fellow man, a brother, come to save us from misery and bondage. He lives even now, eternally, and will one day come down to earth to deliver us.

Day 3 - Genesis 12:3,7 - "I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed...Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land." This prophecy shows that the messiah would own the land of Judah, come from Abraham, and bless all the nations of the Earth.

Day 4 - Numbers 24:17 - "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth" The Messiah will be a king from Israel. He will utterly crush His enemies and those who oppose Him.

Day 5 - Deuteronomy 18:18-19 - "I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him." The messiah will be a prophet, who sees God face to face like Moses did, and will pass on His words to us. He will have the full and complete authority of God, such that anyone who questions Him questions God.

Day 6 - 2 Samuel 7:12-14 - "I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.'" From this we learn a great deal about the Messiah. He will be a son to God, come from the line of David, sit on the throne as a King of a kingdom that will never end (for it will never be taken away, as He will not die). He will be punished by God for sins, by flogging, but God will never take His steadfast love from Him.

Day 7 - Psalm 2:7-8,12 - "I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession...Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him." The messiah will be one who is not merely a Son of God, but begotten by Him, sharing His essence, nature, and traits.  He will own all that God owns, with the very might and strength of God, and demand worship and obedience of all the nations of the world as is fitting for God. Yet just as the Lord is a shelter to those who trust in Him so will the messiah be to His people.

Day 8 - Psalm 16:10 - "For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption." The messiah will not be abandoned by God to the place of the dead, He would be raised up from the grave before His body would decay.

Day 9 - Psalm 22:7-8,14-16,18 - "All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!... I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet...they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots" The messiah would be mocked by many, and delivered to death by them. His limbs would be pulled out of joint, His strength will run out, and He would thirst. They would pierce His hands and feet, and use gambling to decide who gets His clothes upon His death.

Day 10 - Psalm 41:9 - "Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me." The messiah would be betrayed by a close friend.

Day 11 - Psalm 68:18 - "You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train and receiving gifts among men, even among the rebellious, that the LORD God may dwell there." When the Messiah would ascend He would release the captives He loves and take them to God, so that He would dwell among them.

Day 12 - Psalm 110:4 - "The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, "You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek."The Messiah would be a priest, but a priest like Melchizedek, that is, righteous, just, a king of peace. He would have an unending priesthood that continues forever because He Himself will never die.

Day 13 - Psalm 118:22 - "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone." Although the messiah would be rejected by those of His own people who ought to receive Him (priests, scribes, holy men), He would nonetheless become the foundation of salvation.

Day 14 - Isaiah 7:14 - "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." The messiah would be born of a mother who was a virgin, and He would be 'God with us.'

Day 15 - Isaiah 9:1-2,6-7 - "But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined...For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this." From this passage we know the Messiah would minister and be from the land of Galilee, where there was darkness of understanding. He would be a light, the son of God given to mankind, and not only so, but a King, an ever lasting help (an advocate with the Father) God Himself, establishing peace. He would be of the line of David to assume his throne, and He will hold it forever. This is a certainty, and God will do it.

Day 16 - Isaiah 25:8 - "He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken." By His work and rule the Messiah would forever put an end to the sting and sorrow of death. To His people He will give eternal life.


Day 17 - Isaiah 35:4-6 - "Say to those who have an anxious heart, "Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you." Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert" The Messiah would perform miracles, opening the blind eyes of those who cannot see God, unstopping deaf ears of those who could not hear Him, making strong the legs of those who were incapable of coming to Him. He would make them alive again, bringing them new life.

Day 18 - Isaiah 42:1-3 - "Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice" The Messiah would continually delight God, and would not seek His own or demand justice, but He would continually submit to God in all things. He would be gentile and loving, faithful to show them the mercies of God.

Day 19 - Isaiah 50:6 - "I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting." The messiah would submit to torture and would neither dispute nor resist it.

Day 20 - Isaiah 53:3-7,9-11 - "He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.... And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities" Perhaps the longest and most comprehensive account of the messiahs work in the Scriptures. Although innocent and sinless, God would place upon Him all our sins. Just as the lamb is sacrificed to atone for sins so would the Messiah be. He would be counted among the wicked disobedient and there killed, buried in a rich mans tomb. Yet although He would be cut off from the living He shall have children, by adoption, those men and women He brings to God, and God will count them as righteous, by justification.

Day 21 - Ezekiel 37:24 - "My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes" The messiah will be a good shepherd to God's people, and will cause the people to obey God by changing their inner disposition.

Day 22 - Hosea 11:1 - "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son." The messiah, the Son of God, would come out of Egypt while He was still a baby.

Day 23 - Zech 9:9 - "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." The messiah would be righteous, having salvation, and He would come to Jerusalem riding on a donkey in humility.

Day 24 - Micah 5:2 - "But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days." Although He would exist long before Bethlehem existed He would be born in Bethlehem of Judah.

Day 25 - Luke 1:31-35,50-51,54-55, 2:4,7 - And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, (2 Sam 7:14, Ps2:7) and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High (Is 9:6) And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, (2 Sam 7:12)and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" (Is 7:14) And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy--the Son of God...His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever (Gen 12:3).... And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, (Micah 5:2) because he was of the house and lineage of David...And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Lying to your Children About Santa

I realize that I'm in the minority (as far as I can tell I'm in the extreme minority here) among baptists for doing Santa with my kids. From most other people I hear something very similar to "I don't want to lie to my children, so I tell them Santa isn't real."
Set aside that St. Nicholas (in dutch, Santa Claus) was very likely a real guy, who at one point put gold coins into stockings so their poor owners would have enough money to pay their dowry and could avoid a life of prostitution. Set aside also the celebration of that spirit, like what everyone is actually aiming at, even non-believers, that that kind of action is good and should be celebrated, and emulated.
Set it aside, I want to point something out something more important about the idea of Santa.

All things that really matter are non-corporeal: love, joy peace, patience, goodness, our souls, these things have no real physical manifestation. As a consequence, they must be comprehended by way of analogy. Take God Himself for example: being utterly other than time, space, and matter (this is what is meant by the world Holy, it means He is so very other) results in us being unable to understand Him. (The Reformed thinkers called these communicable attributes because God is communicating them to us)
For example, how do we understand God when He says He's a Father? By understanding earthly fatherhood and relating it upwards- because God has decreed that we have kids and could experience that for ourselves, we are able to get a glimpse of God Himself. Indeed this is what Jesus says "If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children how much greater does your Father in heaven?"
And I'm arguing from the greater to the lesser here, if God, the highest end of our knowledge, demands we approach Him via analogy, and we care for our kids, then would it really make sense to deny our children this learning platform when we appropriate it for ourselves? Are you concerned about lying to your children about Santa? You might want to rather be worried about being a hypocrites before God.

All that to introduce the argument that if you sat down and try to explain to children in the highest terms the concept of Christian generosity and the necessity of loving your brothers and sisters and ensuring their well being because they are fellow believers, the kids are going to tune out, because they are concrete thinkers, and have not yet moved to grasp such lofty ideas. If however you provide them a concrete example then they may be able to latch onto it and understand it. For us then Santa is the real manifestation of Generosity and Christian Love. It's a simplification by way of concession, but it's not a lie. It's an object lesson. When they get older the notion of a physical Santa will be improved to see that while these attributes are embodied in Santa who acts as an example for us, they are not exclusive to him.
They are learning with their hearts now, and heads later.
So if it's lying to your children to tell them Santa is real then the subject matter expert witness in court is lying to the jury because he is not telling them everything just as it is. In fact simplifying anything for matter of explanation is a lie. Which means you had better cancel your kids Sunday morning Bible classes at your church and have them in with the adults or face the sin of lying to them.

Lastly, let's just be honest and admit that any child who grows up, falls away, and offers that line for why they don't believe in Jesus is putting up a pitiful excuse. "My parents lied to me saying there was such a person as Santa, they must therefore have lied to me about God. I do not believe in God." What they are saying is "Unless my parents could explain God perfectly to me they were lying to me." Tis nonsense. 
And this is why we will do Santa for our children on Christmas morning.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Church of Christ's Shorter Catechism

Okay, sure, it's not polite to call it a catechism, because that would bring up the notion of creeds and formal doctrine, but in reality if you go to just about any church of Christ this is what you will answer with.
(But first, I cannot resist recording a short anecdote of just how much they hate the notion of creeds while ascribing to them in practice.  My dad was an elder at one of the biggest CoC in California, perhaps the biggest, when the ministry staff put out a 'What we believe' on the internet. He pointed out that that is a creed, they panicked, and took it down.)
Where the answers are the same as the Reformed ones I have omitted them. 

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. To love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. 

Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
A. The Bible, both Old and New Testaments, but particularly the new, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him. 

Q. 3. What do the Scriptures principally teach?
A. What we should believe, and how we should live.

Q. 4. What is God?

A. God is a Spirit, powerful, eternal, loving.

Q. 6. How many persons are there in the Godhead?
A. There are two persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, both are worthy of worship, although the Son is less than the Father.

Q. 7. What are the decrees of God?

A. The decrees of God are: creating and sustaining existence.  

Q. 8. How doth God execute his decrees?
A. He already did. 

Q. 11. What are God’s works of providence?
A. God’s works of providence are in empowering men to do as they please.

Q. 14. What is sin?
A. Failing to do the right thing, or doing something prohibited in the Bible or by church consensus. 

Q. 16. Did all mankind fall in Adam’s first transgression?
A. Yes and no. All men became condemned to die, but it wasn't as if Adam acted as a federal head, or there was a thing called original sin.

Q. 18. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. In having a tendency to sin or slip.
 
Q. 20. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?
A. No, He sent His Son to redeem men, by having Him die on the cross. 

Q. 21. Who is the Redeemer of God’s elect?
A. The word elect has no meaning. But Jesus is a redeemer for all.

Q. 24. How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?
A. By revealing Himself in the Bible.  

Q. 25. How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?
A. In his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice.

Q. 26. How doth Christ execute the office of a king?
A. In conquering all his and our enemies.

Q. 29. How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us by his Holy Spirit.

Q. 30. How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. He doesn't. The work of Christ is applied by us, when we believe.

Q. 31. What is effectual calling?
A. The calling of God that reaches out to everyone who hears the Gospel message. 

Q. 32. What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life?
A. The ability to hear which leads to the ability to believe. 

Q. 33. What is justification?
A. A weird word. It means 'to make just, or to imbue with righteousness' although it's not a very useful one. 

Q. 35. What is sanctification?
A. Another word we don't use. The Baptists mean it as 'holy living.' 

Q. 36. What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?
A. Heaven awaits us in the next one.

Q. 37. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?
A. True Christians go to heaven. 

Q. 39. What is the duty which God requireth of man?
A. The duty which God requireth of man, is lifelong obedience, faithful church attendance, and baptism in an authorized Church of Christ baptistry.

Q. 60. How is the sabbath to be sanctified?
A. In the new covenant we are absolved of keeping the sabbath. 

Q. 61. What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?
A. Saying 'God' 'Jesus' in an unseemly manner. Saying 'Gosh' and "Jeez' fall into this. 

Q. 82. Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
A. With the strength of God all things are possible. 

Q. 83. Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous?
A. No. Divorce is the worst of all sins. 

Q. 85. What doth God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse, due to us for sin?
A. To believe in Jesus, and to confess Him as God's Son before baptism, to faithfully attend church the remainder of your life. 

Q. 86. What is faith in Jesus Christ?
A. An inward belief that is so powerful it changes our habits and actions. 

Q. 87. What is repentance unto life?
A. Repentance is not a word that has meaning. 

Q. 88. What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption?
A. The Bible, communion, baptism, and prayer.

Q. 89. How is the Word made effectual to salvation?
A. Reading the Bible, listening to sermons, and going to church camp.

Q. 91. How do the sacraments become effectual means of salvation?
A. Faith alone in Christ is effective, the Catholic church's notion of sacraments to save is incorrect.

Q. 92. What is a sacrament?
A. A Catholic notion that is un-scriptural. 

Q. 93. Which are the sacraments of the New Testament?
A. Baptism for conversion and The Lord's supper taken weekly. Except stop calling it sacrament.

Q. 94. What is baptism?
A. Baptism is a total immersion in an authorized body of water, (typically back first) preferably in a church, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and become members into the one true church.

Q. 95. To whom is Baptism to be administered?

A. Children or teenagers old enough to understand that Christ is God's only Son. 

Q. 96. What is the Lord’s Supper?
A. The Lord’s Supper is an event wherein, by giving and receiving unleavened bread and grape juice, according to Christ’s appointment, his death is showed forth; and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hyper Calvinists are non-Christians?

Yes, I think so. Although not all of them to man are, by in large hyper Calvinists are not Christians, and this should  make everyone careful to watch their soul on this and not be flippant or foolish on the internet.  With birth comes growth and with faith must come good character. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
I'm confident that you, if you are brothers in Christ, will recieve this as brothers in Christ, for we know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning. And might I add a word of caution about the tongue. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
(1 John 2:9-11, 3:10-11, 23-24, 4:7-8, 11-12, 20-21, 5:18; James 3:9-18)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Supralapsarianism

Supralapsarianism asserts that the logical order of all decrees have in mind the final end first, and since God is logical and orderly, He must have first conceived of His desired ends.
As an example, say I want to be warm tonight when the temperature drops. Reason dictates that I must build a shelter to sleep in, for shelters keep me warm. A shelter requires a roof and four walls; walls and a roof require building materials which I must procure, and so on. When I go to carry out this plan I do it in the reverse, first I acquire the materials, then I construct the walls and roof, then I go inside and sleep warmly.

So it is with God they say, God set about to maximally show His glory, to that end He decreed to have a hell, Then decreed it should be populated by creatures who were tempted and fell into it. To have a fall and temptation He would need sin, to have sin He would need angels and people. He then started the clock and it unfolded backwards as logic would dictate: men were created, were tempted and fell into sin, went to hell, and in this brought God greatest glory.

Objections:
  1. The assertion that God thinks and purposes just as we do is a dubious one. Ps 50:21. It first postulates a chrono-logical sequence of events before there is any notion of time or space, for time and space are both created things. The idea of an order at all is a chronological construct, only coming into existence when time can function as a reference. After all, how can the notion of first mean anything if there is no time to sequence events? In this I think Dabney has the right idea, the lapsarian debate is pretty shaky to begin with.   

    Illogical

  2. If the foundational notion is illogical then the list itself is even worse off, (and might I add this is where and how most people level their objection). The assertion that men were created only after a purpose was given for them, is a backwards one, since the object comes after the function. Men are designated, reckoned, tried, and condemned as sinners before there is any such thing as sin. This ignores the nature of sin as a thing added which ruins the original.  Take a computer as an analogy: the stack pointer is imagined and created before the stack of memory it points to.  The whole purpose of the pointer is lost and void if there is no memory stack.  Books were created so there could be words in them, not words were created to express ideas, and then moved into books.  Solomon would never have said "God made man upright, but he has gone astray in search of many schemes" if supralapsarianism was true, because the idea of sin came first into God's mind.

    Based on Assumption

  3. In addition to being illogical, Supralapsarianism is built on an assumption, namely that God's purpose in creating man was only to bring Him glory. But does this starting point hold up under scrutiny?  Are there any other possible reasons God could have created man?  The Westminster Catechism states that the chief end of man “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  If we start with this premise we get very different results because given this intent, it will not do to have people suffering in hell who are incapable of enjoying Him forever. If the Westminster statement is true then Supralapsarianism cannot be, because it would not lead to God predestining men to hell without a chance to enjoy Him forever.

    Against Reason

  4. There is yet another way that this idea don't work: it postulates God working at cross purposes with Himself.  If His purpose is to condemn men into hell where they may be punished then it does not make sense that He would restrain them from sinning, like He does to Abimelech in Genesis 20:6.  The Supra may answer here that God restrains sinful men for the sake of His elect, but this simply won't do, the text's explanation is the direct opposite.  In Genesis God was going to kill Abimelech (v3) for the sake of the elect, but spares him because of the integrity of his heart, because he had been lied to and did not know better (v6).  That God restrains sin does not speak well to an eternal purpose of condemnation as it would be more glorious to have more people in hell for even more horrid things they had done on earth, and having in the meantime the elect saved in an even more glorious way.

    Against Scripture
  5. But more than all this however is the evidence of Scripture to take into account. Romans 11:30-32. While reading the letter to the Romans the Gentile reader will be tempted to ask Paul at this juncture “I can see why God would shut us out from the law and promises, in order that He might teach us His love and character when He stooped to have mercy on us, but why let Israel fall?"  Paul answers the question with verse 30 “Just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy so they too have now been disobedient in order that … they also may now receive mercy."
    Why then has God foreordained the fall for both the Jews and Gentiles? Was it in fact to show the glory of His justice when He condemned them to punishment?
      No, says the text, it was so that they may receive mercyThe reader may be inclined to say at this point “Paul this makes no logical sense,” but Paul has anticipated this, and in answer breaks out into unmitigated praise “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor?" [Isaiah 40:13] "Or who has given a gift to Him that He might be repaid?" [Job 41:11]” Who would have thought that God would hide the truth from the wise and reveal it to babies and fools? Who would have thought He bless weak and not the strong, or consign the world into disobedience and ruin so that He may save it? 

    We see a microcosm, or perhaps an analogy of this in the exodus itself. God ultimately led a people out of bondage and slavery and destroyed them in the wilderness. Was it His purpose to lead them out to destroy them? The Supralapsarian would give an unequivocal
      “Yes! For that’s what He did!” but the Scriptures say otherwise. It was His purpose to have mercy on them, but they purposed to have His justice instead. See here.

    The offended Supralapsarian reading this may argue at this point “Totally irrelevant! The Romans verse is talking about the elect! God has consigned the elect to ruin that He may save them.” Oh? And so logically the contra-positve is true: He has
    not consigned the reprobate that He may have justice upon them?  It doesn't say He has consigned them to destruction that He may destroy them, the text merely asserts a universal statement that both Jew and Gentile were shut up under sin.

    Yes, the elect are the special target of this notion, Psalm 130:4, Galatians 3:22, and Luke 7:47 help us to understand this verse a little better, but there is simply no getting around that it’s also talking about God’s purposes with respect to the fall and creation Humanity at large. “God’s plan was to bring Himself maximum glory!” This is true, but by showing fallen people His mercy.
In sum I find the notion wanting and am rather inclined to ponder Scripture when it says "Go then and learn what this means says the Lord, “I desire mercy not sacrifices” and "Mercy triumphs over judgement."

Monday, October 17, 2011

On common grace and the restraint of sin

Does God prevent the world from becoming more evil? Yes. If not then that would mean the world is as bad as it can be, which is clearly wrong in light of 2 Tim 3:13.
Therefore by His goodness God restrains the reprobate from further and greater wickedness then they would be prone to commit.
See Abimelech in Genesis 20:5.
This means they get a lighter sentence in hell, (every sin has a just retribution against it Heb 2:2, they commit fewer sins, which means a lighter sentence Matt 10:15) which flies in the face of "common grace just serves to increase the reprobates condemnation in hell."

Or, as Jonathan Williams puts it, when God is restraining wickedness is He doing
  1. An unmerited favor that decreases their condemnation, or
  2. A vehicle that brings greater condemnation.
If you say one then the case is settled against against the popular notion that common grace is ultimately bad for the non-elect. If you say two then Hitler receives a lesser condemnation than most of mankind, having not abused restraining grace.

Mental failsafes

The mind is a pretty amazing thing, in the way it learns by comparison and analogy. It see things and develops categories, and then when grasps new information by finding the appropriate category to pair the new data with. This seems to me the reason the Bible presents everything as as analogy- Christ as the new and better Adam, Christ as the superior prophet to Moses, Christ as the priest like Melchizedek, Christ as the King superior to the great David.  And why He spoke in parables, because the physical could be grasped but the spiritual is much harder to understand.
In fact go into territory where there is no comparable analogy and the built in failsafes simply shut the mind off. 
Consider the trinity too hard, or try to ponder infinity too long and you will see what I mean.  The consequence of this is that knowing comes through living, and understanding through experience.  To have a child is to really understand Him as a Father, to plan for your unborn child is to experience predestination. To live then, is a gracious gift given that we may understand God.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dear people who wander in from triablogue

I'm Phil. I'm an engineer, a father, and a husband. In my down time I think about theology, such as when I take my dog for a run, or during my long commute to work. 
I like to think I have a good mind, but I tend to think in digital terms (yes/no, true/false, right/wrong). This blog is really the dumping grounds for my thoughts that I want to remember for later (writing them down helps imprint them firmly in my brain).
I'm always learning, and always willing to listen to a well placed argument from the scriptures. It's a big world out there and there are plenty of people who are smarter than I and have a lot more time to dedicate to theology. If that's you and you want to come help me by pointing me to your blog, by all means! If you want to leave a comment, feel free to do so.
However if I see hyper-Calvinism then I'm going to erase the comments with prejudice. The mark of Christ is patience and grace, so if you cannot take what I say and point out the problem without using a strawman or ad hominem then I'm going to eliminate it.

Update 21-Mar-2019: A lot has changed in eight years. I'm not sure what exactly brought on this post anymore, but I vividly remember how the hyper-Calvinists treated me when I came asking for knowledge. As I look back I see that eight years ago I was very immature and still trying to figure out how things worked, but I also see that I had a good mind and a hunger to know more. I hope that in the future I'll treat the young searchers who come from horrible backgrounds with patience and respect. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

One more for the Arminians and Hypers alike

Introduction 
I'd like to respond to something Mr. Manata brought up, not because it serves to advance a discussion with him, but because it may help the some of the Arminian friends I have think more clearly about the notion of determinism.
There are two sink holes to fall into regarding the idea of a God who is so sovereign that He determines all things ahead of time:
      1. Denying His sovereignty like the Arminian,
      2. Denying His goodness, like the Hyper Calvinist.

Let's start with Mr. Manata and the Hypers position, in my very-silly-mostly-fuff-post I took a lot of time to basically say that the elect and reprobate have their fates "determined" or "decreed" differently.  Manata raises the serious (and justifiable) objection with some humor:
"God doesn’t “determine” the fate of the reprobate “as he” determines the fate of the elect. Okay, so does he determine it in another way?...If God decreed from the foundation of the world that Bob will never come to God, can Bob still come to God given identical decrees? Or, is Phil saying tha[t] God never decreed that Bob would not seek him?"
If we say He doesn't determine the fate of the reprobate then He's not sovereign. If He has plotted from all eternity past to use them merely for hell's fuel then he's not all good.  So let's answer this by going back to square one.

God is incapable of creating evil
When God uses His power for (what I'm calling) a 'positive' decree, (ex: Lazaraus come forth" creation ex nihilo) it's always very good (Gen 1:31, James 1:17, Ecc 7:29, 1 Tim 4:4, 3 John 1:11), because God Himself is good (Ps 143:10). Jesus uses His power to heal the sick, misery, sin, and this is all good.  The character, ability, and nature of God, is such that He can only be Himself, and that is only pure.
Now consider that if God really is completely Good, Pure, and Holy then He cannot at the same time be impure, unholy, or evil, nor can He do certain things inconsistent with His character. For example, He is unable to tempt (James 1:13), or lie (Heb 6:18). We agree then with our Arimian brothers who point out that if God has the ability to create evil, and make it, and send it out like He made man and commissioned him then He is a wicked terror, not a savior.
How does evil exist, if God is both Good and sovereign (Is 45:7) and unable to create evil? Because He causes evil to exist by the absence of His presence. In Edwards analogy God is like the sun- when the sun shines it heats the world up, when it goes away the world cools. The sun is not actively sending out bitter ice showers to make things colder, it's simply not shining its golden rays.

As seen in scriptures 
Job 1:10-12 testifies to this as well. "Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face." And the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand." So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD." When God blesses Job He is acting from His own positive decrees, when He moves to strike Job He takes away the hedge, which allows Satan to run roughshod over Job.
So also Isaiah 5:5 "And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down." The removal of God's protection results in a ruin, not the presence of God ruining people.
Acts 7:42 "But God turned away and gave them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets: "'Did you bring to me slain beasts and sacrifices, during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?"  When Israel was punished and began to sin how did it happen? God gave them up. A negative act as it were, an absence of His power and might and goodness. This is what Paul states in Romans 1:24,26 "Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves...For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature."
There are of course more verses, but that's enough to prove the case that by definition God cannot be actively creating evil, instead to cause evil or sin He simply stops sending out His goodness.

Proven by Reason as Well
A moments thought will show that this must be the case when we consider evil itself. Evil is a ruination, a sickness that can only exist on top of the good. Cancer, for example, can only exist if there is a preexisting healthy body with cells, and the normal ability of the cells to replicate. 
Sin is an absence of Gods goodness, not some positive added quality of badness.
The thinkers we admire reached the same conclusion, that God can do good by nature, but cannot do bad, therefore to cause ruin, or disaster, or evil He must withdraw His presence not send it out. C.S. Lewis grasped this when he wrote in Mere Christianity "In other words badness cannot succeed even in being bad in the same way in which goodness is good. Goodness is, so to speak, itself: badness is only spoiled goodness." Everyone's hero, Augustine argues the same, that evil has no existence except as a privation of good.

Point of Application 
And with that we're ready to address Mr. Manata's question: if God has foreordained that Mr. Bob would spend eternity in Hell, then how can He make a genuine offer of salvation to Bob? The answer is easily found: God happens to know that man left alone will choose hell, but even so He is not condemning man to hell with His positive decrees, he can't because He's all good.  Man is given the empty space to make His own decision, and chooses himself.
An analogy might help. Both my neighbor and I have this species of terrible weed in our front lawns.  When I go out to fight it I don't weed my neighbors lawn, just my own (my positive action), but neither am I the one causing weeds to spring up in his lawn- the ground does that.  Do I want my neighbors lawn to be overcome with weeds? No. Am I willing to pull them myself? No.  Is that contradictory? Not in the least.
It may be argued that since I'm God here, I must want weeds in my neighbors lawn, but this is not necessarily the case. It may be that I do want the weeds to appear in my own lawn, and I want everyone of my neighbors to see it. I further want the process of life to happen, from seed to plant, and I want that to apply to all things that grow universally.  I am then going to pull all my weeds to show everyone that I am a tender and compassionate homeowner, and I give my neighbor the option of letting him demonstrate the same. He doesn't. But that's not because I'm forcing him to be lazy and watch TV. His weeds are a by product of my decrees, they are not because of my decrees.

The Arminian wonders the same thing the hyper does, if God has predetermined everything ahead of time then how can man have free will? But clearly there is a misunderstanding of God's sovereignty, God doesn't force men to do anything, they are free to choose their own fate.  It's not like He has a divine gun to their head demanding they sin, He's just allowing them to make their own decision of their own will.  The elect have their wills renewed by a positive action of God (I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy) and freely desire God, but the non-elect are simply that: non-elect. Not damned before the foundation of the world, just non-elect. And it's worth remembering that non-elect may always lead to damnation, but non-elect is not equal to damnation.  They can always turn and repent, they have the abilities, they have no coercive force applied against them, they have the, for lack of a better word, empty-space the Lord has allowed for them to do the right thing in. The fault is theirs alone, just as if they are saved it will be by God's grace alone.
It may be argued here that unless man has not only a free natural will (as I have been asserting) but a free moral will (what I deny) then he is not in any sense free. Aside from the fact that man's moral ruin is his own fault (like a servant who gets drunk and then is unable to do his job) this is to argue for total madness. Unless I can desire or love whatever I want, whenever I want there is no such thing as desire or love. There is no anchor point to anything.  Unless I desire to be a woman I cannot desire to be a man. I cannot love ice cream unless I can immediately switch to loving dog poop soup just as much. 

 Point of Clarity
Mr. Tennant points out that I have broken away from the Westminster Confession of Faith in asserting things this way. That tells me I have not done a good job explaining it.  Am I stating God does not determine the fate of the reprobate? No. Do I believe the following: "God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass ... By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death." Yes, this is all true, that's what sovereignty means, after all.
But let me assert again that the foreordaination to death is not the same as the foreordaination to life.  Ordaining to life is a positive action of His nature, ordaining to death is an absence of it. Perhaps an analogy may help.  The architect of a skyscraper building foreordains the superstructure, the pillars, the piping, the floor materials, the electrical wires.  Then he puts them in by his positive actions.  Yet he also plans the space between the floors ahead of time as an "absence" of his work.  He has decreed the whole building from top to bottom, but he has not equally in all ways decreed it.  Or as I have said elsewhere, a composer foreordains the silence in his piece as well as the musical notes, yet the music notes are not written in in the same way.  The whole thing is his music, and the silence exists to further it's glory, but it and the notes may not be equated. Sovereign? Yes. Good yes.  This seems to me to be the only way to hold to both together.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Suggestions for debating like a true Hyper Calvinist

1. Insist that anything less than your theology makes God out to be a [Insert societal perversion unacceptable to your tribe]. 
Nothing is more devastating than a well placed analogy when refuting someone's conception of the Scriptures. Nothing. Example: God doesn't really love the non-elect in any meaningful way, because if that were true then He would be a homosexual transgendered monkey hooker. And since He's not that, He must not love the non-elect. Alternate Example: God is not some hot high school senior who is wooing the ugly girl to a dance even though He knows He's not going to ask her out, therefore moderate Calvinism is wrong. Using a well placed analogy allows you to undercut your opponent without the use of Scripture. 

2. Attack the person, not the argument.  An insult only counts as ad hominem fallacy if someone doesn't deserve it--which, given your position as being right, is never the case. People trying to say that Christ's sacrifice made everyone saveable are working from a faulty presupposition and deserve to be personally ridiculed rather than have their argument interacted with. Example: the Scriptures say 'world', which means 'elect' you ignorant drooling refugee, and you would know that if your IQ was above 10

3. Point out you have already and defeated the argument.
Whether you have addressed it or not, just speak the words that bring truth into existence like a word of faith Charismatic hungry for money. Just say their position is defeated and it's as good as done. Example: you assert Christ is weeping over reprobate Jerusalem proves He has a heart for saving all men, but as I have shown on a number of occasions, this is clearly not the case. Alternate Example: God saying in Ezekiel "why should you be destroyed?!" indicates He wants them destroyed, as I have said. 

4. Multiply fallacies. 
Overwhelming your opponent with accusations of fallacy is a great way to feel smart while belittling your opponent. Simply go to Wikipedia, pick 5 fallacies at random, and drop them into a reply. Example: Asserting God loves the non-elect in anyway is really only affirming the consequent and denying the antecedent. Alternate Example: your argument is nothing but a red herring. Non clausa pro clausa. That's just a straw man.

It helps to have an example that puts it all together, so I'm supplying a fine example here for your learning. Good hunting out there!

On Sarcastically Busting Pirate Balls for their Godless Gambling and Heresy!

Captains journal.
Me crew and I were having a jolly laugh at the Triablogue being afire when I heard from the water "You know, we're not done in yet."
I looked and beheld there Captain Manata, clinging to a flimsy bit o driftwood.  Soggy, but not surrendered.
"I say again, you thought you had a good turn sir, but she'll hold fast yet. You have no leg to stand on in this discussion. Ye've lost! Surrender now and I may show ye mercy."
"Ye be swallowing too much saltwater Captain." Says I. "She's afire now, and this here  peg leg of mine works just fine to prop up such theology as I be havin'. Seems that ye've naught but driftwood left. Nonetheless I cordially invite you aboard to discuss the matter further."

Now tis a strange thing to be noticed in such a manner--I could hardly refuse the offer, so I had me first mate extend hand of fellowship (or the hook). 

Captain Manata begrudgingly accepted expecting to make short work of us, only thing is he hasn't seen the likes of me before. "Red beard" Ponter is strong and clever, wild as a shark, but this here sea lover is decidedly more deadly.
"Sit down please, I'd like a word with you sir.  I’ve refuted your “can” argument a dozen times. Suppose you “offers”your  neighbor a piece of pizza for dinner. Your neighbor accepts. You say you’ll bring a piece over later. When the pizza comes, it turns out God has decreed that you will eat the entire thing. You weren’t planning on this when you offered it. However, since God decreed that you would eat the entire pizza, then you couldn’t provide a piece given identical decrees of God. So, as the claim stands, it’s been refuted, since I think all would say that you made a sincere offer of pizza yet couldn’t deliver."
Says he.
"Aye, but that is naught but gibberish." Says I.

"Very well. I suppose I could make another go at it... it’s not just that the person, considered as a libertarian free autonomous agent, doesn’t “want” God’s offer, it’s that God determined that he would not want it, and so the person is not able, given that decree, to want otherwise. God made sure that the reprobate would not accept. If I could make sure, make certain, make unavoidable, your denial of an offer to come to a party at my house before I asked, and then I went ahead and “offered” you a seat at the party, would I be sincere?"
Not knowing me, Manata didn't realize that I parrrley with a loaded pistol. Once he finished talking I pointed it straightaway and fired: "Yer presupposition be askew. God doesn't determine the fate of the reprobate as He does the elect. There be no wall separatin' the wide oceans of mercies of God from the non-elect save their own obstinate hearts. They, and they alone are responsible for their fall and sorry condition, tis not God who cast them inexorably into the miseries. God is like the sun, His positive decrees are always warm, always good, always pure. To the non-elect He simply does not manifest His goodness, whereas you assert He manifests badness. Prepare to be used for chum." 
"Raa! Chum!" barked Sammy, the sea dog, bird on my shoulder.

Seeing he was beat he jumped overboard.
And we sailed away. As far as I know their ship finished burning, and there they be at the bottom of the sea, green zombies insisting that God causes fresh evil in men, having predetermined by His own councils before the foundation of the world to damn them without regard to their deeds or character.  Some of the crew may have been picked up by the Supralapsarian, but Captain Manata wasn't among them.
Beware then sailors, that you don't let your anchor too far down in highCalvinist bay, or they are liable to climb up the chain and board you.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Why the RSV sucks

Grandma likes to turn on a TV station that plays kids songs when we go over there. There was a song that came on tonight which was a Swahili (or something African sounding) version of Waltzing Matilda- Nyangl Matilda.
Now I don't speak whatever language that song was in, in fact I don't even know what it was, but I do know that they got it wildly wrong.
In that old time Aussy gibberish matilda is not a proper noun, it's a bed roll, or a bag.  Nyangl Matilda is therefore obviously incorrect, there should be two words I've never heard of, not just the one. 
But that's not all, for I would be willing to bet that they translated waltzing as dancing, when the word in context really means to stroll or walkabout.
Now what does this have to do with the title of the post?  Simply that unless you have some basic understanding of the material you cannot get the translation right.
Anyone who asserts that Jesus is not God cannot hope to make a meaningful translation of the scriptures, since they are all concerning His Son.  If you do not understand His Son, then you don't understand the book. You can translate the words but you have translated wrongly. Only in knowing the meaning behind the words can you properly pick the right words. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Free offer of slavation - guest blog

Today we are blessed to have a special guest interview, Philip the high Calvinist here to discuss the free offer of the gospel. The question before us today is, is the gospel indeed a free offer to the reprobate, or is faith a duty only?
[Begin Transcript]
Good to have you with us Phil.
Likewise.
So lets begin with the most famous verse, you know, the-go to verse for us "moderate Calvinists"
I think you mean you semi-pelagianists.
uh anyhow, it's Isaiah 7:11-13, I'll read it here: "Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz "Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven." But Ahaz said, "I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test." And he said, "Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also?" It sure seems like God is making an offer here to the wicked King Ahab. What do you make of this?
First of all, there is no question that God never makes offers to the reprobate. The verse "seek ye first the kingdom of God" is addressed to believers only, the invitation in Revelation to drink, to take freely, to buy without price, is to believers in the church only.  Seeking and taking come only after regeneration. Ahaz must therefore have been elect. 
But Ahaz breaks into full blown idolatry in 1 Kings 16:3- almost the first time we meet him he's burning his son alive to an idol.  1 Kings 16 is a list of his idolatry and then it ends with him dying.
Well fine perhaps hes reprobate, but my point still stands. But look, I mean, just go back to the text here in Isaiah. What do we have here? The Lord spoke to Ahaz, does that mean it's an offer? Context context context. When we see the word 'all' does it mean 'all without exception'? Clearly not. When we see John 3:16 that God so loved the world does it, world I mean, does that word mean 'sinful mass of humanity' or does it really mean 'elect'? Elect, obviously. So put this in context. The Lord is ordering Ahaz to ask for the sign. It's not an offer, it's a command.
You are really going to assert that this is not the form of an offer? You really think that this is not an invitation to test and see the Lord is good?
Why would God make an offer to the reprobate in the first place? If He knows ahead of time Ahaz will say no and reject the offer then it's not really an offer is it? It's just a vessel to increase his condemnation.
The Lord expressing His goodness, kindness, and mercy causes the reprobate condemnation? 
Yes.
Not the inward depravity of man? Not the rejection of the goodness. The goodness itself is what damns men?
Well yes. I mean God isn't some cosmic welfare program where everyone gets a free ride. He's a person, He created some vessels for wrath and some for mercy.
That's the worst argument I have heard yet, okay you know...
Of course I know, I know much more than you, you idiot. Read the Institutes. Read Owen. Read Gil. If you had half a brain you would know all this stuff. We don't even need to read or interact with the Bible because... 
What!? no, that's just not acceptable, not in this forum do you get to...
Gonna cut me off because you can't take it eh? Don't like the truth when you hear it?  You sound like a reprobate yourself here, rejecting the Bible...
Mute his mic, that's just, okay, let me take a moment to point out something, every time we get more than 1 minute into these interviews the high calvinist digresses into name calling. Now I'm going to unmute the mic, and let you have the floor if you refrain from ad-hominem attacks okay?
... in fact your whole stupid "4 points" of calvinism is a logical absurdity. If you weren't such a pompus imbecilic monkey, or some sort of theological drooling refugee you might know that...
Okay thank you, this interview is over. Well my apologies, that's just the way it goes sometimes. And that's all the time we have left so see you next time.
[End Transcript]

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

From a non pastor to a non believer

 The end of the OT (Malachi) prophesied that Elijah would be sent to "restore all things" before the dreadful (yikes!) day of the Lord. (God himself coming down, Mt of Olives splitting, death and destruction, etc)
John clearly did not do that. John the Baptist did not even know he was Elijah (are you the prophet? Christ? Elijah? He answered "no" to all these questions) but Jesus said "...If you are willing to accept it, he (John) is Elijah WHO IS TO COME".
So my thinking is this: that when John comes back as Elijah (maybe under another name again, who knows?), only then would he restore all things and turn children's hearts to their fathers....etc. Then God would come and do all things that were prophsied.
So until then, we are still under the old law like the Jews and Muslims. That's my opinion based on this understanding of prophesy and events anyway. Of course I could be wrong. Wise men have argued about the bible for centuries. If we argue that Jesus would fulfill those things at his 2nd coming, then doesn't that prove all the more that we are still under the old covenant?
I think early Christianity followed the law until they were wiped out by the universal (roman catholic) church.

I have another observation: in the book of Revelation, the lamb is said to have been slain SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME.
Jesus (if I'm not mistaken) comes back as the Son of Man with clouds in heaven (also in the Rev), unless he is not the Son of Man. It is difficult when he refers to son of man as a 3rd person. Then later there is a rider on a white horse named Word of God, King of Kings, Lord of Lords which can only be God. So son of man (Jesus?) and word of God are 2 completely different entities.
So "I give my glory to no one" and "I am the only savior" makes more sense now. Or does it?

I've been reading and doing a lot of research, praying directly to God, praying for discernment and understanding but let me tell you, it is leading me out of Christianity. I believe in 1 God, no equals, pure, no associates. I have done my search on the origin of certain doctrines including the trinity (3 persons co-equal, co-existing). Jesus clearly states he is not equal to the Father so many times. I don't know if anyone has the answers to these but I just wanted to share these thoughts and observations with you.
My belief in God as the only savior has led me not to trust the teachings of Paul. Jesus never said to worship him but he did say "worship God alone and him ONLY shall you serve". Also, the "son of man came to serve, not to be served". So making him equal to or even a god would not give "there is no other god besides me" meaning. Perhaps "God in him" would make more sense? But the spirit left him before he died. God would not let "His Holy One" (the spirit?) see corruption.
There are many more things that have become questionable to me after reading much of the bible.

-M



Dear Sir,
By the providence of God I have read your letter to Pastor J and have been encouraged to respond. I am myself not a pastor so I ask your forgiveness in advance for the problems that that can create.
I see that you have several concerns here, among them that the Bible is unreliable, that Christ is not God, that the Christian covental framework of grace is groundless, etc., therefore I will forgo an in depth answer to each individually and  attempt to treat the sickness rather than the symptoms.
You have a bad presupposition when you say that you have been praying and thinking about God--you are under the assumption that you have the functioning hardware and powers of reason to draw valid conclusions and carefully weigh evidences impartially. Unfortunately this is decidedly not the case.  Your powers of reasoning are bent, fallen, lost. As all of ours are.
Prov 3:5, Jer 4:22,  Luke 10:21, Rom 3:11 warn us that our minds are broken since birth, and before we can understand the God of the Bible we need them restored. Specifically we are commanded to be transformed by the renewing of our minds that we may then be able to discern the perfect will of God, and the corollary is true that without renewed minds we will know nothing of God outside of what lies we invent to ourselves.
Since minds are unreliable, the conclusions we reach are untrustworthy, ultimately because our wills and desires are fallen and tainted. We have no love for Christ, we have no love of doing the right thing; we do not really want to know the truth, (John 3:19) because at bottom we despise the idea that Jesus is God and in Him only is there life. Our misplaced love causes our other senses to go askew, which is why Jesus said we need new eyes John 3:3, why He only asked some to hear him Matt 11:15, 13:9, 13:43, and why He said we new abilities of understanding Matt 19:11. By default we have minds that are hostile to God, and cannot submit to Him Rom 8:7, we have wills that are deceived by choice into rejecting grace 2 Cor 4:3-4 and our wills not allow us to come to Him.

Therefore I tell you that you must come to Christ in humility, believing in Him that He is true, and that He is God or you will never have an end to your difficulties. But if you do trust Him, confessing Him with your mouth and believing Him with your heart then you will not only be saved but you will be given understanding and wisdom to untie any knot of scripture you encounter. You must stop doubting Christ and start doubting your doubts.You must come to see that the cross of Christ stands at the center of not only human existence and history, but the center of a man's life. In Him only do we live and move and have our being. The scriptures, all of them, are about Him Luke 24:27, and unless you rely on that premise you will not be able to make headway against the mysteries of the gospel.
Therefore to help you I pose to you Lewis' trilemma. There is no doubt that Jesus claimed to be God, asserting divine prerogatives (Mark 2:7-10), condoning worship of Himself as God (John 20:28-29), and it's beyond dispute that the people understood Him to be claiming to be God (John 10:33). Christ is either telling the truth, in which case He is God, or He is a liar, and the only one who would lie about such a thing would be Satan himself, or a lunatic on the level of a man who believes himself to be a poached egg. You must decide where you stand, if indeed you continue your course and say with the Pharisees of old He is Satan, or with the Christians of today that He is God.
Once that issue is settled I think you are wise enough to re-read the scriptures and come to the right conclusions about your current problems on your own. Specifically I would recommend John 1:17, Luke 22:20, 2 Cor 3:6, Heb 9:15 with regards to the issue of new covenant, 2 Peter 3:15-16 with regards to the authority of Paul, and Matt 17:12 about Elijah already fulfilling his purpose of pointing to Christ.
If you have any difficulties after becoming a Christian please let me know and I would be glad to help.
In Christ,
P

Credo vs Paedo Baptism: Pushback Part I

If you've been following this series you may have noticed my two Pastors commenting on my work.  Phil it might help those of us who fi...