Tuesday, May 31, 2011

God desires to save the non-elect

The Gospel message is an invitation made to all men that they repent and put their faith in God.  God desires the salvation of His creation, just as He desires they follow His laws. Here is proof:
Deuteronomy 5:29, 32:29; Psalm 81:13-14; Isaiah 48:18;
Matthew 23:37; Luke 13:34; Ezekiel 18:23,32; 33:11; Isaiah 45:22; Isaiah 55:1; Luke 24:47; 2 Corinthians 5:19-20; Revelation 3:20 and my personal favorite, Revelation 22:17 where Christ Himself explicitly states that it's a free offer for all to come and drink.

To a rational person the above list, without exegesis, is enough to persuade men that Christ desires the non-elect turn and be saved. To assert, as the hyper-Calvinist does, that "No indeed, God does want them to be saved, and in some way takes delight in their damnation" is to unfaithfully, stubbornly, and wickedly refuse to believe the plain meaning Scripture.

Weekend theology thoughts

1.       My daughter mashed a small piece of blue play-dough into the pile of yellow.  Now the whole pile is a green color, and it’s not only impossible to get out, but it has become a fundamental characteristic of the dough.  This is sin which has utterly transformed our old pure make-up.

2.       A gigantic (truly hideous, I have never seen them that big) black spider with a very thick body was crawling up the backyard wall where my daughter plays.  Upon seeing it my daughter said “keel it!” I asked her why should we kill them; when she couldn’t answer I asked her mommy who replied that it’s very existence is offensive and deserving of death, it did not even need to bite or harm to warrant extermination.  This too is sin.

3.       Waking up too early from a nap my daughter started crying and screaming without restraint. I ordered her into her room and had her lie back down explaining that if she was quiet for five minutes and didn’t cry she could come out.  She cried for 20 from her bed and showed no sign of relenting.  As a father I had laid down the rule, she could not come out until she had been quiet five minutes, as a father I didn’t want to see her continue to cry. So I went in and read her a book and we passed the five minute no crying mark together. This is grace.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The worth of a woman

When Adam was given dominion and charge of the animals in the garden his job was to name, and whatever he named, that's what it was.  See Genesis 2:19.
He fell into a deep sleep and when he awoke he sees woman and it's his job to name her.  But this is not a another animal, this is a beautiful, worthy, wonderful creature, custom built to be his partner.  He cannot merely name her, the only way to do it is to break into poetry (Genesis 2:23)

"This at last is bone of my bones 
and flesh of my flesh; 
she shall be called Woman, 
because she was taken out of Man"

 Woman is as superior to animals as poetry is to prose. And if that doesn't cause your eyes to glaze at the humongous magnitude of difference I have provided an example. Compare: You are a woman who is physically attractive to

Shall I compare thee to a Summer's day? 
Thou art more lovely and more temperate: 
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, 
And Summer's lease hath all too short a date: 
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, 
And oft' is his gold complexion dimm'd; 
And every fair from fair sometime declines, 
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd: 
But thy eternal Summer shall not fade 
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest; 
Nor shall Death brag thou wanderest in his shade, 
When in eternal lines to time thou growest: 
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, 
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Assuming election

The high Calvinist puts it like this: Christ only paid for the sins of the elect, so there is no actual way the reprobate could be saved, but this compromises the indiscriminate offer of the gospel. Their resolution of this tension always leaves something to be desired.  Grudem says this (and I couldn't help but embed my comments):
In answer to the objection that this compromises the free offer of the gospel to every person [I] answer that we do not know who they are who will come to trust in Christ, for only God knows that.  As far as we are concerned, the free offer of the gospel is to be made to everybody without exception.  (This is the main point I want to address.) We also know that everyone who repents and believes will be saved, so all are called to repentance.  (this is precisely what we don't know since we know Christ doesn't die for everyone. What we do know is that He has made a way for some only, who they are we don't know.) The fact that God foreknew who would be saved, and that he accepted Christ's death as payment for their sins only, does not inhibit the free offer of the gospel, for who will respond to it is hidden in the secret councils of God.  (This is not true, if God has not paid for their sins then that does inhibit the free offer because there is no offer)  That we do not know who will respond no more constitutes a reason for not offering the gospel to all than not knowing the extent of the harvest prevents the farmer from sowing seeds in the field.
Ah yes, we know you may be reprobate and therefore have no hope, but just believe, at which point you will find out it was meant for you all along.  Joseph Bellamy's explains the problem of this:

If I know that Christ died only for the elect, then I must know whether I am elect, before I can know if I'm saveable. 
But there is no way to know that I'm elect, since it's His secret decree.
I must first assume, for no reason, that I'm elected, before I can believe in His willingness and ability to save me. 
Once I have faith I infer I'm elected as the Bible instructs, and the circle is complete.

An example: Say I'm a dying wealthy gazillionare who has a wayward son. Since I'm not going to live much longer and I want to see my son one last time before I die.  I instruct my attorney to draw up a will that states if my son comes back I will install him as the heir, otherwise he won't get a dime. To get the word out I take out an ad on every media outlet, everywhere, all the time saying this: my son, my fortunes are yours if you come home.
Is that a valid universal offer? If someone who is not my son reads it what will he think? Will they assume sonship then try to take me up on my offer? No, the offer is only good for one person, and everybody knows it because I intend to pay for only one person.  Such is the problem of limited atonement, to be eligible one must first assume their election.

Friday, May 20, 2011

An open letter to Harold Camping

1:28, May 20th.
Tomorrow at 6PM EST the world will come to an end. So long everyone, we all had a good go at it.

9:23, May 22nd.
I just don't understand this. How could this have happened? I mean it's possible to be wrong once, but Camping you promised me this was the this-time-for-sure-I'm-never-wrong-twice-this-time-I-really-mean-it time.  I mean, this time you really meant it.  This prediction was just so plausible and... mathematically certain. Jesus was crucified on Friday, April 1, 33 AD- 722,500 days ago according to the math (which does not lie). Now (5x17x10)^2 = 722,500, and the significance of that is that five, represents atonement, ten completeness, and 17 heaven. Therefore the apocalypse is Saturday, May 21. This is beyond dispute from a sane person.
The critics say I shouldn't have believed you this time because you got it wrong last time, but I answer them that your explanation for getting it wrong makes Biblical sense. It was the end of the church age. Christ had divorced His bride, split His body, abandoned His temple, let His field go fallow, and kicked over the pillar He set up.  You know, things change.  The whole idea of the elect, or the called out ones was made meaningless in 1994. Wait, no, I suppose it's still valid, it's meaning was just transferred to the hundreds of family radio listeners like myself.
And no, I don't think it sounds like a desperate effort to save face.  When the mainstream vulgar church going Christians pointed out that this humbling was from God, that you should not stiffen your neck or harden your heart but repent, I remembered your warning that those were the mainstream Christians. They want us to believe things like "God doesn't change" and "God loves the Church."  If any of you decide to read this I have news for you fools: one of us a sucker for believing nonsense, and I'm not. 

So given all that, I just don't see how this could have happened.  I believed in it.  I sold my house, I quit my job. I'm vested, now I'm looking for answers Harold.  It doesn't matter what you say, just please say something, anything so I can believe you. I want to believe so badly in you. I love you. Give me hope. Vanish. Have your staff show pictures of your clothes lying out and utterly disappear.  Then when people tell me you have just fled to Mexico with your $75M I can tell them that no, it was the end, and we simply didn't not have the faith to go with you.  Or come back on the radio and tell me you forgot to carry the one, and it will really be five years from now. I'm willing to believe that also.
Just don't tell me that Christ wants me to trust in Him and His perfect substitutionary atonement for my sins on the cross.  Not that you would, which is why I follow you. I'm just saying, you know, just reminding you that some things are just too stupid and offensive to believe in.

10:15, May 24th.
Bless you Brother Camping. Thank you. Oh bless you. Bless you.  I'm so glad for this. I was lost and now I'm found. Yes, it wasn't a physical end of the world, it was a spiritual end to the world! That makes total sense because last time it was a spiritual end too, the world didn't end physically, it was spiritually transformed when the church age ended.  So, this time, same deal. Oh I was stupid not to see this myself.
I'm sorry I doubted you, I'm so sorry, you were right about this too, you were right.  God had come for judgement and ended it all spiritually. The physical end is October 21st. I believed in you deep down all along and I knew you would come through for me.
If I hadn't sold all my possessions to you in anticipation of the May 21st date I would do so now out of relief for both the spiritual comfort and the hope you have brought me knowing I only need to hold on for a short while longer.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Churches of Christ Directory

A brief introduction to the Churches of Christ

How they are holding together after having abandoned true doctrine so long ago.

How their theology is turning their members into pharisees or liberals

What happens when you give up the historic creeds and confessions

Why other Protestants are mistaken in thinking the Churches of Christ are just like them.

Historical case study of their organization and beliefs. 

Although they deny it, by logical necessity they must believe in perseverance of the saints.

The problem of their leadership.

An example of their best exegesis.

A semi-humorous list of their beliefs.

The nature of 'He paid our debt'

One of the biggest problems the modern Calvinist has is a dreadful ignorance of the way Christ paid our debt.  I think this is in large part thanks to John Owen who encouraged his readers to adopt a monitary approach.  As an example of this error, see here.
I can't think of any better way to correct this very common deficency in the modern Calvinist thinking than by quoting Dabney46, from chapter 35 of his systematic theology.
In a mere pecuniary debt, the claim is on the money owed, not on the person owing. The amount is numerically estimated. Hence, the surety, in making vicarious payment, must pay the exact number of coins due. And when he has done that, he has, ipso facto, satisfied the debt. His offer of such payment in full is a legal tender which leaves the creditor no discretion of assent or refusal. If he refuses, his claim is canceled for once and all.
Dabney goes on to give an example.
[Say] a mechanic is justly indebted to a land owner in the sum of one hundred pounds and has no money wherewith to pay. Now, should a rich brother offer the landlord the full hundred pounds, in coin of the realm, this would be a legal tender. It would, ipso facto cancel the debt, even though the creditor captiously rejected it. Christ’s satisfaction is not ipso facto in this commercial sense.
The error is obvious, if Christ paid the debt from the cross then our obligation was discharged at the cross.  Which means we have no need for faith, and as a bonus, all those warnings Jesus gave about the need for faith are wrong too.  Dabney continues,
But the legal claim on us for obedience and penalty is personal....Christ’s satisfaction cannot be forced on the divine Creditor as a legal tender; it does not free us ipso facto. And God, the Creditor, has an optional discretion to decline the proffer, if He chooses (before He is bound by His own covenant), or to accept it. Hence, the extent to which, and the terms on which Christ’s vicarious actions shall actually satisfy the law, depend simply on the stipulations made between Father and Son, in the covenant of redemption.
That is to say, we must have faith. Faith is the channel by which Christs righteousness flows into our lives, it's the open hand- that is the requirement.  God demands from everyone faith, because we are naturally capable of it even after our fall.  Lastly, I'll quote Dabney's example of the moral payment:
There is a second supposition, the kind brother is not rich, but is himself an able mechanic, and seeing that the landlord is engaged in building, he proposes that he will work as a builder for him two hundred days, at ten shillings per day, to cancel his poor brother’s debt. This proposal, on the one hand, is not a "legal tender," and does not compel the creditor. He may say that he has already enough mechanics, who are paid in advance, so that he cannot take the proposal. But, if he judges it convenient to accept it, although he does not get the coin, he gets an actual equivalent for his claim, and a fair one... The debtor may thus get a valid release on the terms freely covenanted between the surety and creditor. 
 This is not to deny that we owe God a debt, and God has a right to collect on it, somewhat like money owed, but it is to deny that Christ pays out debt in this way.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Moderate Calvinist Directory

The arguments for moderate Calvinism

1. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

2. Jude 5

Hyper Calvinist Directory

Hyper-Calvinism. The problem is as old as the church and was born when Adam ate the fruit.
In the most narrow and classic sense a Hyper-Calvinist is anyone who denies that faith is necessary for salvation, but in practice this means that the Hyper-Calvinist is anyone who because of their pride denies the clear teaching of Scriptures concerning Salvation and demands that they be saved because of who they are, regardless of what they do. More specifically:

They deny 
  1. The centrality of faith in salvation, asserting that it is something else which saves (typically Sovereignty or Election).
  2. Scripture teaches God does not desire to see men perish.
  3. God sincerely desires to save the non-elect when He makes an offer to them.
  4. God restrains sin in the non-elect which results in a lesser condemnation for them.
  5. Common grace.
  6.  Jesus wept over the thought of the reprobate perishing.
They believe 
  1. They themselves are elect and will be saved, regardless of if they have an actual desire for holiness or not.
  2. The secret will of God as understood by logic and reason is more important than the Scriptures. 
  3. In a strictly Limited Atonement despite it's problems.
  4. In Supralapsarianism, despite it's logical problems.
  5. God wills the destruction of the non-elect in the same way He wills life for the elect, contrary to scripture.
  6. That unborn babies who die are (or generally are) not saved.
  7. That if we could know for certain who the non-elect are we should not preach to them, something the Bible does not teach.
  8. The non-elect are hated from eternity past
If you read those bullets you will start to see that that doesn't characterize Hyper-Calvinism, it characterizes most of the people on the internet that call themselves Calvinists.
Everyday ungracious Calvinism is really Hyper-Calvinism, it's a lazy kind of theology that's divorced from either serious reading and thinking, or a claim to the historical Calvinism when it has no business to.
Oh, and just for fun, if you want to get as good at debating as a Hyper-Calvinist, I have provided some helpful tips for you here.

Heavenly Rewards Analogy

I cleaned the backyard today with the help of my 1 year old daughter. I would pull up the weeds and she would carry a few of them to the weed pile. 
When we went to show off her hard work I gave her full credit for everything we had accomplished together- not because she had genuinely accomplished everything herself, but because of how much I enjoy giving.  Yes I did all the work and she put in a token amount of help, but it made me so proud that she helped I was happy to give her all the credit.

I understand the idea of a heavenly reward better now.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Making sense of the Scriptures

Matt 22:41-46a "Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, "What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?" They said to him, "The son of David."He said to them, "How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,  The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet'? If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?"And no one was able to answer him a word"
Mark 12:37b And the great throng heard him gladly.

The law of non-contradiction is fundamental to all logic and reason. A thing can only be one thing- itself. 
In other words, I can't say God takes pleasure in the death of the wicked and then say God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked and have the word pleasure mean the same thing in both cases.
The Pharisees knew this, which causes the car crash for them in this text.  How can the Messiah be the son of David, and therefore be below him, yet be called Lord, and therefore be above him at the same time?

On this side of the cross it's easy to figure out, Jesus, being God is David's lord, but descendent both physically and by right.  All of this is dreadfully obvious, but the conclusion of the matter is somehow not: without Christ at the center of the Bible the scriptures make no sense.  He is at the center of every text, to take Him out of it is to make the Scriptures incomprehensible. 
He is it's center.

Reprobation and Election at work

About two years ago I designed a product at work, wrote up a proposal on it, and had senior company officials pitch the idea to a customer. It was a hit.
I got the green light and a pile of cash to make my vision a reality.  Then it began- I designed the architecture, picked out components, adjusted the power supplies so everything would play nice together and put it all down on a printed circuit board. I took that design and debugged it, pulled out all the problems and recreated it into a smaller, less module form factor.  I took that complex design and stacked the boards together, placed it inside a custom metal enclosure, put in the batteries and powered it up. After debugging the software team and I selected eight of the final design style units to go to the customer, then we put them through their paces until they passed every test we could throw at them. And that's when I realized something.

Seeing my final product all powered up and working like I imagined, planned, and designed made me love those little boxes. I do really love all my eight customer deliverable products, they are simply beautiful.
 
And I did all this, knowing that six of these are going to be subject to destructive testing by the customer.  Two I have marked and chosen for non-destructive use, and not because of their performance (in fact the lid doesn't fit as snugly on one of the two keepers as it does on the others) but because of the choice I made.
And even knowing the six are going to be destroyed, I love them still, and am proud of my work in them.

How much more then does God love His workmanship and creatures, even knowing He has decided not to give them special saving grace?