Sunday, April 02, 2006

Malcolm Yarnell on Calvinism

I am sure that I will be accused of only having one string on my banjo for bringing up Calvinism again, but it is difficult to remain silent when the dialogue about Calvinism gets off track so often. Sometimes it's the slight misperceptions that are the most egregious errors because they often come across as the most plausible. It is this fact that most concerns me about the article printed on page 9 of the current SBC Life entitled, "The TULIP of Calvinism in Light of History and the Baptist Faith and Message" by my friend, Malcolm Yarnell. Recent readers of this blog (previous posts dealing with another article by Yarnell are found here: 1, 2, 3, 4) will be familiar with Dr. Yarnell and may recall that he is the Assistant Dean for Theological Studies, Director of the Center for Theological Research, and Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. I do count him a friend and appreciate his ministry very much. My interaction with and critique of his article should not be construed as any kind of personal animosity at all.

I would much rather have Dr. Yarnell attempting to define historic Calvinism than many other denominational employees I know. He is obviously familiar with the historical background of the so-called "5 points." However, I am disappointed by some of the imprecise language that his article employs because it results in giving the wrong impression about a few of the key points involved. Perhaps some of these were mere editorial mishaps. Be that as it may, the resulting misperceptions are no less unfortunate.
On "Total Depravity," Dr. Yarnell writes:
Calvinists at Dort viewed man not simply as sinful, but argued that every aspect of man's being is affected by sin, including his will.
Though he does not directly say so, by the way this is stated Dr. Yarnell gives the impression that he disagrees with Dort's view and would favor thinking of man "simply as sinful." Yet, in Romans 3:10-18, Paul seems to go beyond that kind of simple declaration. His catena of Old Testament descriptors gives the impression that he is following the trail of a tornado that has ripped through human nature leaving nothing, including the will, untouched. Dr. Yarnell continues:
Some of Calvin's later followers went so far as to say that God actually decreed humans to become sinners. On the basis of Scripture (Romans. 3:23), Southern Baptists have consistently affirmed that all humans are sinners by nature and by choice, but have generally rejected extreme views of post-Dort Calvinists that man is incapable of moral action and that God is ultimately responsible for human sin (emphasis added)
I know of no Calvinist in history who has ever argued that fallen man is "incapable of moral action." The argument that some Puritans, Jonathan Edwards, Andrew Fuller and others do make is that fallen man is incapable of any morally GOOD action (as God reckons goodness). Specifically, fallen, unregenerate man is incapable of seeking God, obeying His law or doing anything that is pleasing to Him. Isn't this exactly what the Bible teaches? "There is none who seeks after God" (Romans 3:11), "the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be" (Romans 8:7, emphasis added), "So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God" (Romans 8:8, emphasis added). By linking "man is incapable of moral action" and "God is ultimately responsible for human sin" Yarnell misconstrues a historical theological debate (about the nature of human inability) and links it to a conclusion that he unjustifiably deduces from a theology of decrees.

Dr. Yarnell may think that any doctrine of an eternal decree necessarily requires his conclusion, yet he surely knows--and should let his readers know--that the London Baptist Confession published in 1689 is representative of most Calvinists in its disavowal of that notion. Chapter 3 opens with these words:
God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree (emphasis added-TA).
In his treatment of unconditional election, Dr. Yarnell writes as if Calvin did not believe in "double predestination." Again, he does not actually say it, but attributes not only this position, but also the decree to elect to "followers of Calvin." Then he makes this unverifiable assertion:
Most Southern Baptists would counter that it is God's revealed will that all people experience salvation, citing texts such as: The Lord ... is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance (emphasis added [MY], 2 Peter 3:9) and God our Savior ... wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (emphasis added [MY], 1 Timothy 2:4). In response, Calvinists argue their system is part of God's "secret will," not His "revealed will." but the source of their knowledge of this "secret will" is unclear. [this quote ends with a footnote: "The Canons of the Synod of Dort," First Head, art. vi; John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, III.xxi-xxiii, especially III.xxiii.1; Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 213-16, 683-84.]
Anytime anyone speaks for "most Southern Baptists" you can be sure that they have forgotten the greatest malady facing Southern Baptist churches: AWOL church members. As long as we cannot find the majority of those on our rolls, it is impossible to speak for "most" of them. Call it a technicality, but it is one that I intend to continue to point out as long as denominational leaders continue to refuse to address it. Furthermore, Deuteronomy 29:29 is the source of my knowledge that God has a secret will: "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law."

Here is more:
The Baptist Faith and Message, in simple accord with Scripture, states: "Election is the gracious purpose of God" which "is consistent with the free agency of man." [footnote: Baptist Faith and Message, art. v.] Southern Baptists affirm diverse understandings of divine election (cf. Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:5-11), but most would likely reject the view of those Calvinists who narrowly define unconditional election as double predestination.
But what about those Calvinists that see election as God's choice of specific sinners whom He intends to save? Or, as the Baptist Faith and Message puts it, "Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners" [emphasis added]. It would have helped his readers to see just how Calvinistic the Baptist Faith and Message is at this point if Dr. Yarnell had not omitted the rest of this sentence (which I put in bold) when speaking of election.

His treatment of "limited atonement" rightly notes that, according to Calvinism, "the atonement is limited to the elect." Then he makes this (unverifiable) assertion, "The vast majority of Southern Baptists would disagree with those who claim that Christ's death on the cross was only intended for "'the elect.'" Don't misunderstand my protest. He is probably right, but who knows?

It is in the section on "irresistible grace" that Dr. Yarnell makes makes some of his most unfortunate mistakes. First, he writes:
Arminians concluded that men could resist God's grace. The Calvinists of Dort disagreed, saying that God's grace is ultimately irresistible, that divine election works unfailingly, and that the depraved and fallen human will is not exercised in conversion. When the converted human will is later exercised, it is only because God "powerfully bends" it. [this is footnoted to "'Articles,' art. iv; 'Canons,' Third and Fourth Heads, arts. viii, x, xii;" emphasis added by TA]
This is either a misunderstanding or an imprecise, and therefore misleading, expression of what Dort actually asserts. Article 16 of the Third and Fourth Heads of Doctrine says this:
But as man by the fall did not cease to be a creature, endowed with understanding and will, nor did sin which pervaded the whole race of mankind, deprive him of the human nature, but brought upon him depravity and spiritual death; so also this grace of regeneration does not treat men as senseless stocks and blocks, nor take away their will and its properties, neither does violence thereto; but spiritually quickens, heals, corrects, and at the same time sweetly and powerfully bends it; that where carnal rebellion and resistance formerly prevailed, a ready and sincere spiritual obedience begins to reign; in which the true and spiritual restoration and freedom of our will consist. Wherefore unless the admirable author of every good work wrought in us, man could have no hope of recovering from his fall by his own free will, by the abuse of which, in a state of innocence, he plunged himself into ruin (emphasis added).
Dr. Yarnell confuses regeneration with conversion, something that careful Calvinistic theologians would protest strongly. Regeneration initiates conversion. That is, it brings forth the fruits of repentance and faith in the sinner's heart and mind. Yarnell's mistake at this point is even more problematic when he misstates what the Baptist Faith and Message says about "salvation" (rather than "regeneration"). He writes:
Avoiding this concept of irresistible grace, the Baptist Faith and Message states that salvation is a "change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ," and adds: "Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace." [this is footnoted to: Baptist Faith and Message, art. iv.a; emphasis added by TA]
But look at what the Baptist Faith and Message actually says:
Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace (emphasis added).
Just as regeneration and conversion are not synonyms, neither are regeneration and salvation. Rather, salvation is a more comprehensive term that includes regeneration (as well as justification, adoption, sanctification, etc.) as a constituent part. This distinction is vital to a clear understanding of what Calvinism does and does not teach. Furthermore, as the Baptist Faith and Message's statement stands, it actually affirms effectual calling (or "irresistible grace") by asserting that regeneration is "a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ." In other words, regeneration creates faith and repentance in the sinner. It is of such a nature that when it works in a sinner's life, that sinner "responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ." Dort describes this response by saying that "a ready and sincere spiritual obedience begins to reign."

Some may accuse me of quibbling over minor details in an article that, in some respects, has much to commend it. However, I agree with the Puritan Richard Rogers who, when criticized for being too precise, responded, "Sir, I serve a precise God." When representing the views of others, especially when writing about issues that are important, controversial and often misunderstood, it behooves us to be as careful as possible. Lack of precision mars Dr. Yarnell's article. Consequently, where it could have greatly helped clarify all of the the issues that it addressed, it may unfortunately wind up confusing uninformed readers almost as much as it properly instructs them.

54 comments:

Michael King said...

Hello Tom,
I do not think you have quibbled at all. I read Dr. Yarnell's article also and felt that he misrepresented Calvinism. I think it was on purpose though. I wish it were not, but that is how non-Calvinists do it.
Much grace to you, Mike

againorigin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
againorigin said...

Dr. Ascol,

Thank you for your comments and for the heads-up!

While teaching the order of salvation to my potential members in Sunday School, I refer to the BFM 2000 and read its item on "Regeneration." When I read your quote from Dr. Yarnell, I too was quick to notice the "mishap" of replacing "regeneration" with "salvation."

I really don't understand why a SBC Calvinist isn't asked to write such articles, being that he is the one who knows what he believes!

Thanks again.

Kevin

joethorn.net said...

Tom, you are not one of the one-note bloggers (I don't have time for those blogs). An examination of Dr. Yarnell's article was needed, and I was hoping you would do it. Good words.

Travis Hilton said...

Tom,
It is obvious that though it is supposed "most Southern Baptists" disagree with Calvinism, there must be some concern that it may not be "the majority" in the future. The rhetoric of the past few months shows there must be a strong influence that causes these kinds of responces. I'll be speaking on this today in a Pastor's meeting in Burlington, NC.

Scripture Searcher said...

Thank you for being alert to what is stated and often
mistated by all who make
public statements at the expense of all of us who are Southern Baptists and the SBC LIFE is the official journal of all members of the SBC.


In the same April issue the distinguished scholar and president of SEBTS in North Carolina makes a troublesome
statement that I consider to
be untrue. This is Daniel Akin's accusatory statement:



I fear that some extreme forms of Calvinism have so warped the mind and frozen the heart of its advocates that if they saw a person screaming at the top of their lungs "What must I do to be saved?", they would hesitate of even neglect the Gospel for fear of somehow interfering with the work of the Holy Spirit.



WHO on earth would Akin have
in mind? WHO? WHO? AND WHERE ARE THEY LOCATED?



WHO are those advocates with such warped minds and frozen hearts that they would ever hesitate to give the Gospel to any sincere seeker of the gift of eternal life? WHO?



WHO in any SBC church, college or seminary does the president have in mind when he offers such a FALSE, UNTRUE statement of accusation? WHO?


WHO? Names and locations of the places where these awful Southern Baptists are
needed so appropriate action
can be taken to either educate or remove them from our midst. WHO?


WHO are these warped minded and cold (frozen) hearted
people pretending to believe and practice the love that motivates all true
Christians to do the work of
evangelism and missions?

WHO? WHO? WHO? WHERE ARE THESE ENEMIES OF THE
CHRISTIAN FAITH TO BE FOUND?

Castusfumus said...

Tom stated,
"Anytime anyone speaks for "most Southern Baptists" you can be sure that they have forgotten the greatest malady facing Southern Baptist churches: AWOL church members. As long as we cannot find the majority of those on our rolls, it is impossible to speak for "most" of them."

Where in scripture does it say that Christianity is a democracy? Were does it say that the majority rules?

It appears that "easy-believism" reigns in most SBC churches and as a result we see AWOLism.

When you preach man centered theology you reap the kind of outcome that soon has no resemblence to what is true to scripture.

The Calvinist seems to be the one who would be the one that isn't interested in anything other than finding the true meaning in the scriptures and leading others to the narrow road.

JoeTolin said...

Scripture Searcher,

Who would not give a seeker the Gospel? The pastors and people in our convention who do not understand the Gospel, that is who. And none of these would be Calvinist. I contend that a non-Calvinistic presentation of the Gospel is merely a truncated version of the Gospel. A Gospel devoid of the sovereignty of God the Father in the election of sinners to salvation, the atonement of God the Son on behalf of His elected people, and the drawing, regenerating, converting work of the Holy Spirit is no Gospel at all.

Joe

J. Gray said...

Either the misrepresentations were done purposefully or else the scholarship and research done in preparation for the article was flawed and poorly done.

Neither alternative is a positive for Dr. Yarnell.

-JG

BTW, why do they always have a non-Calvinist do these discussions? Perhaps they'd benefit from asking someone who actually understands the beliefs to discuss it. Yarnell either doesn't understand it, or is purposefully intended to present it in a negative light.

Stephen A Morse said...

Tom and those who are reading this; I am so thankful that God has given us each the opportunity to minister to each other.
Tom, your precision is very much an antidote to the simplistic rhetoric of our culture.
Isn't it humbling to realize that there are individuals who will pick apart what you say to reveal the truth of your statements?
I am usually very careful about what I write because I know that there are brothers out here who will keep me straight.
For God's Glory!

johnMark said...

Good words, Dr. Ascol. I actually wrote on my blog last year sometime stating that the BFM2000 is a calvinistic confession.

I wonder how many SBC churches actually use their confession on a regular basis? Either in Sunday school or from the pulpit or even in the program? How many SBC member even know what the BFM2000 says or is? I would be curious to know this. I've talked to folks in SBC churches in the past and I don't believe they knew much about their own confession.

Mark

Sojourner said...

The precision with which you approach this critique is helpful to both Calvinist and non-Calvinist alike, as is the tone with which you write. I am hopeful that this sort of critique and disagreement can become the norm for conversation inside the SBC.

mark said...

Scripture Searcher:
i share your frustration at articles such as dr. akin's where general blanket accusations are "thrown out there" with no names or examples mentioned. i just have one question: did you address your frustration with dr. akin HIMSELF? your ranting consisting of "WHO, WHO, WHO" questions would seem to be out of place if posted on this blog, since dr. akin may or may not visit it. i have occasionally taken up similar issues with denominational "higher-ups," a seminary president on one occasion. it may take some time, but they have always responded by email. i really think you ought to try this approach. if done in the right way, much more ground could potentially be gained. let's engage these individuals in a Christlike manner as brothers instead of just "venting" in a friendly forum. by the way, dr. akin's email address:
president@sebts.edu
(right off the southeastern seminary website)

GeneMBridges said...

I took a day off yesterday. Sigh, it looks like this evening I'll be writing another article for Triablogue on Southern Baptists.

Anyhoo, a couple of things.

A. First a "shout out" to the readers. You never know who that lurks on the blogs that you'll meet on a Sunday morning after worship at your own church in NC...Yeah, you know who you are...

B. Second, and relevant to this thread. Dr. Yarnell doesn't even have his history about Beza and Calvin and their relationship correct in his opening. This doesn't bode well.

1. To begin with, it’s patently obvious Dr. Yarnell is beginning with the premise that Calvin should somehow function for the Reformed the way that Luther functions for Lutherans. This may play well with the rank and file Southern Baptist, but it doesn’t play well with folks who understand Reformed Theology.

2. Was John Calvin dead when Beza came along? No. Beza served as Calvin's ambassador to some of the most important colloquies etc from '57-63, even before Beza came to Geneva. Beza was defending Calvin against Bolsec in the mid fifties already. Beza was Calvin's most trusted advisor. He succeeded Calvin as the president of the company of pastors until 1580. Ergo, is there any evidence of tension between them? No.

3. Is there any evidence that Calvin rejected Beza's formulations? In fact, if Dr. Yarnell would bother to check his facts, he find that the "Tabula Praedestinationis - really it's the Summa tota Christianismi"- was published in ’55. Calvin did not die until nearly a decade afterward. He had plenty of time to criticize Beza before his death. Calvin was known for his poison pen. There's no evidence that Calvin disagreed.

4. Beza began his career as a humanist. He lectured on the Greek NT for 10 years before he ever got to Geneva. His doctrine of predestination, for Dr. Yarnell’s information came from Scripture itself. If he’d bother to actually study Beza, he’d know that. I would strongly suggest that Dr. Yarnell have a chat with Dr. R. Scott Clark, Associate Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology @ Westminster Seminary California before he sets off on such a historically inaccurate presentation of the facts.

5. Dr. Yarnell fails to tell his readers anything about the history of the BFM, which is drawn from the New Hampshire Confession. Apparently, Dr. Yarnell is willing to look to the original intent of the writers of the Bible to determine its meaning but unwilling to accord confessions and histories the same courtesy.

The NH Confession was intended to restate Calvinism when the churches began succumbing to Arminianism. It's terms should, therefore, be interpreted with those meanings in mind.

Mike said...

Dr. Ascol,
I'm new to your site but really enjoy your insights. I'm currently pursuing a D.Min. and one of the issues I've been "hammered" on in papers has to do with including generalized statements that I do not support with documentation. I wonder if Dr. Yarnell allows that in submissions for his class.

Dr. Yarnell's last paragraph speaks to the tragedy of adherence to TULIP when it "leads to division in churches and prevents them from cooperation in, and urgency for, a passion toward fulfilling the Great Commission." In the preceding paragraph Dr. Yarnell says, "Today, few Southern Baptists would accept all five points of Calvinism's original TULIP."

My observation: Can Dr. Yarnell have it both ways? Are a few Calvinists responsible for the loss of evangelistic fervor in the SBC? If so, I'd sure like to meet these folks who have such great influence over the entire convention. It would seem that the reality of the SBC's lost fervor cannot be attributed to those who hold to the doctrines of grace. As so many, including you have stated, perhaps a return to the teachings of Scripture will light a fire within our hearts.

Nate Russell said...

Gene,

Just a quick comment on one of your five points. You stated, "Beza began his career as a humanist. He lectured on the Greek NT for 10 years before he ever got to Geneva. His doctrine of predestination, for Dr. Yarnell’s information came from Scripture itself." The idea that any doctrine come solely from scripture is ummm...slippery at best. In that the desire to assess a doctrine as coming directly and solely from scripture is to attempt to give it the same authority as scripture. This was the nature of many heretical groups within the early church. Funny thing the early church councils did not appeal to scripture to defeat these heretical ideas. They appealed to the Rule of Faith, they appealed to the nature and content of their worship. I am not stating that Beza's claims are false, I am merely stating that your argument is one which naturally requires one of two responses: Unchallenged acceptance based on your linking of the idea with the authority of scripture by those who know not better, or a very strong challenge based on the Great Christian Tradition by those who understand what is at stake. The first response it seems is the one you desire, and is the one you received so much praise from. However, be careful not to put yourself or Beza in the position of the Ivory tower. My point here is NO ONE COMES TO SCRIPTURE UNTOUCHED OR UNINFLUENCED BY THEIR POSITION IN SOCIETY, HISTORY, AND LIFE. To claim such as a posted on a previous topic is to claim to be God, because only he has the view from no where.

your brother in Christ,
Nate

By the way the claim that you make about Beza is also the problem you have with Dr.Yarnell in your fifth point. However, you can't have it both ways.

jfile said...

Nate,

Your argument seems so much like postmodern literary theory. If the Bible is God's word, and if there is one objective truth that is normative to all, then we must make every effor to determine as close as possible what the author's intent was. Your argument has the effect of undermining that there is an objective truth--or at least that we are capable of knowing it.

The fact is, if God has indeed spoken in his word, he intends for us to understand it. The argument that are backgrounds color the way we read it is true. Yes we do all come to the Bible with bias. However, if we believe the Bible to be God's word, doesn't it make sense to affirm that we truly can know what he is communicating to us.

Nate Russell said...

Yes there is a hint of postmodern thought within mine, but only in that it has rightly shown the false claims made by modernism in that we can know objective truth with certainty. I am not claiming that there is no objective truth but rather that to claim with certainty that one knows exactly what God intends is to take a large step towards heresy. And I must point out that the strongest point I made had nothing to do with philosophical developments of the last 100 years but rather with the way Christianity throughout its history has gaurded itself against doctrinal error. However, you did not make any refute of that. Also, at what point does the Bible claim to be the "word of God". Last, I read that title was reserved for the One and Only Son of God who became man. The bible is the Spirit-inspired testimony of men to the God's work in their lives and in their world. The bible does not claim anything more, except in the specific instances where the LORD's words are directly recorded. I hope my claims don't disturb you.

Nate

Scripture Searcher said...

Mark and all others:

The president of SEBTS is in
possession of my kind request for the names and addresses of all the falsely accused (I think) but unnamed "advocates of extreme forms of Calvinism" who have been "so warped in mind and frozen in heart...

..that if they saw a person screaming at the top of their lungs, WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED, they would hesitate or even neglect (sharing) the Gospel for fear of somehow interfering with the work of the Holy Spirit."



He has been asked WHO these people are and WHERE they can be found in the SBC.



Charles Wayne Rosson
Heaven-Bound3@Juno.Com

mark said...

Scripture Searcher:
excellent!
i am sure i am not the only one who will be waiting to hear what he has to say...

David & Rose Ann said...

Nate,
As a fellow Texas Baptist like yourself, I admire your zeal in argument, but I suggest it's very misguided from my position of having firsthand experience with Texas Baptist life the past ten years, including a friendship with the current editor of the Bapt. Standard newsletter. I say misguided because I stood in your theological/philosophical footsteps until 2000.

Your sources have not served you well. You are receiving one side of the discussion and one only - from the moderate/liberal camp here in the state. For proof, look only to your blog and notice 1) Mary-Hardin Baylor and its theology faculty leanings compared to a Criswell or College at Southwestern 2) A link to the Baptist Standard newsletter 3)a book by Roger Olson 4) the spelling of "bible" and "word" without caps to avoid an inference of giving it divine authority, a tactic still used throughout moderate/liberal Baptist camps.
This is classic moderate/liberal Texas Baptist technique, likely started by my former friend at the Standard. I agreed with every position you hold until around 2000. What happened then? RC Sproul's Willing to Believe for one, and diligent study of all sides of the moderate/conservative debate for another.

Study and read all - key word - resources from both sides (moderate/conservative) of the discussion, because it is intellectually dishonest not to do so. The slippery slopes are your own viewpoints at the moment. They were my own for many years.

I wish you the best and hope my claims do not disturb you.

GeneMBridges said...

Yes there is a hint of postmodern thought within mine, but only in that it has rightly shown the false claims made by modernism in that we can know objective truth with certainty.

Which is, of course, a modernistic claim to objectivity. So, in order to make the claim, you assume the validity of that which you deny.

By the way the claim that you make about Beza is also the problem you have with Dr.Yarnell in your fifth point. However, you can't have it both ways.

Apparently, Nate, you don't understand what I'm saying. My problem with Dr. Yarnell is that he interprets the BFM as if it is rooted in EY Mullins, et.al. The BFM is rooted in the New Hampshire Confession, not EY Mullins. He needs to go ad fontes on the BFM if he wants to understand the BFM and present it correctly. I commend Beza for going ad fontes. Ergo, there is no inconsistency whatsoever in what I have written.

My point here is NO ONE COMES TO SCRIPTURE UNTOUCHED OR UNINFLUENCED BY THEIR POSITION IN SOCIETY, HISTORY, AND LIFE.

And if we take this to its logical end, it would mean that there is not an objective way to get to the truth. Do you approach what you write yourself like this too? This very thing is why we have the GHM. Are you familar with it?

The idea that any doctrine come solely from scripture is ummm...slippery at best. In that the desire to assess a doctrine as coming directly and solely from scripture is to attempt to give it the same authority as scripture.

a. Dr. Yarnell, is himself, arguing that the BFM comes from Scripture alone. Perhaps you should write Dr. Yarnell, since Dr. Yarnell, in original article discusses that very thing.

b. Tell us, Nate, what is the source of doctrine if not Scripture?

c. Where have I claimed that Beza is infallible?

d. If objectivity is so undercertain, then how are you certain of the claim you make?

Funny thing the early church councils did not appeal to scripture to defeat these heretical ideas. They appealed to the Rule of Faith, they appealed to the nature and content of their worship.

This is patently historically false. What's more its a Roman Catholic argument.

The Early Church Fathers were exegetes. Athanasius documents this for us extensively. The Cappadocian Fathers were exegetes as well. They went out of their way to argue from Scripture.

J.N.D. Kelly, "His (Iraneus) real defence of orthodoxy was founded upon Scripture. (Ante-Nicene Fathers)

Archibald Robinson on Athanasius, 'On the sufficiency of Scripture for the establishment of all necessary doctrine Athanasius insists repeatedly and emphatically...and he follows up precept by example. His works are a continuous appeal to Scripture. There is no passage in his writings which recognizes tradition as supplementing Scripture, i.e. sanctioning articles of faith not contained in Scripture." (Intro to The Letters of St. Athanasius on the Holy Spirit by Shapland).

Athanasius, who was present at the First Council of Nicea tells us what the Fathers did:

Vainly then do they run about witht the pretext that they have demanded Councils for the faith's sake; for divine Scripture is sufficient above all things; but if a Council be needed on the point, there are the proceedings of the Fathers, for the Nicene Bishops did not neglect this matter, but stated the doctrine so exactly, that persons reading their words honestly, cannot but be reminded by them of the religion towards Christ announced in the divine Scripture. (On the Councils of Ariminum and Seleucia).

In his treatise, A Defense of the Nicene Creed, Athanasius explaijns what he meant by the faith being derived from the tradition or teaching of the fathers in defending his use of "homoousios," because it was not a Scriptural term. Athanasius wrote there was precedent in Dionysus of Alexandria, Theognostus, Origin, and Dionysus of Rome. He said he did not accept their teaching uncritically, but rather only what could be confirmed in Scripture. (Webster, Holy Scripture, The Ground and Pillar of our Faith, Vol. 2, 60).

"For this all inspired Scripture also teaches more plainly and with more authority, so that we in our turn write boldly to you as we do, and you, if you refer to them, will be able to verify what we say. For an argument when confirmed by higher authority is irresistibly proved. (Against the Heath, Part 3, 45).

"It is plain then from the above that the Scriptures declare the Son's eternity; it is equally plain from what follows that the Arian phrases 'He was not,' and 'before' and 'when,' are in the same Scriptures predicated of creatures." (Four Discourses Against the Arians, 1:4:13)

"And we have proof of this, not from external sources, but from the Scriptures" (Decretis or Defense of the Nicene Definition, Chapter 4, Section 17).

Speaking of heterodoxy, "Since then nothing is said in the Scriptures, it is evident that these things had never taken place befgore (On the Incarnation of the Word).

Let not one ask such questions any more, or else let him learn only that which is in the Scriptures. For the illustrations they contain which bear upon the subject are sufficient and suitable (A Letter of Athanasius to Bishop Serapion Concerning the Holy Spirit).


Macrina, Basil and Gregory of Nyssa's sister wrote a letter to them urging them to test Plato and Aristotle by Scripture. Gregory wrote her back saying she was exactly correct, and then asked her to revise her letter, because she had failed to make her case from Scripture.

Speaking of Macrina and Gregory, try this on for size: "we make the Holy Scriptures the rule and the measure of every tenet; we necessarily fix our eyes upon that, and approve that alone which may be made to harmonize with the intention of those writings...And to those who are expert only in the technical methods of proof a mere demonstration suffices to convince; but as for ourselves, we were agreed that there is something more trustworthy than any of these artificial conclusions, namely, that which the teachings of Holy Scripture point to: and so I deem that it is necessary to inquire, in addition to what has been said, whether this inspired teaching harmonizes with it all. And who, she replied, could deny that truth is to be found only in that upon which the seal of Scriptural testimony is set?" - Macrina and Gregory of Nyssa (On the Soul and the Resurrection)

Basil, "But it is not sufficient for us, that it is in the tradition of the Fathers. For they also followed the mind of Scripture; having taken their first principles from the testimonies which, a short time since, we placed before you, from the Scripture." (Basil, On the Holy Spirit).

Emmanuel Amand de Mendita discusses Basil's "rigid biblicism" in The "Unwritten" and "Secret" Apostolical Traditions in the Theological Thought of St. Basil of Caesarea.

Rule 26, from Basil's "ascetical morals reads, "That every word and deed should be ratified by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures to confirm the good and cause shame to the wicked."

Hippoplytus: "Some others are secretly introducing another doctrine, who have become disciples of one Noetus, who was a native of Smyrna, and lived not very long ago. This person was greatly puffed up and inflated with pride, being inspired by the conceit of a strange spirit. He alleged that Christ was the Father Himself, and that the Father Himself was born, and suffered, and died....But the case stands not thus; for the Scriptures do not set forth the matter in this manner....the Scriptures themselves confute their senselessness, and attest the truth...The Scriptures speak what is right; but Noetus is of a different mind from them. Yet, though Noetus does not understand the truth, the Scriptures are not at once to be repudiated....The proper way, therefore, to deal with the question is first of all to refute the interpretation put upon these passages [of scripture] by these men, and then to explain their real meaning....For whenever they wish to attempt anything underhand, they mutilate the Scriptures. But let him quote the passage as a whole, and he will discover the reason kept in view in writing it....if they choose to maintain that their dogma is ratified by this passage [of scripture], as if He owned Himself to be the Father, let them know that it is decidedly against them, and that they are confuted by this very word....Many other passages [of scripture], or rather all of them, attest the truth. A man, therefore, even though he will it not, is compelled to acknowledge God the Father Almighty, and Christ Jesus the Son of God, who, being God, became man, to whom also the Father made all things subject, Himself excepted, and the Holy Spirit; and that these, therefore, are three. But if he desires to learn how it is shown still that there is one God, let him know that His power is one....What, then, will this Noetus, who knows nothing of the truth, dare to say to these things? And now, as Noetus has been confuted, let us turn to the exhibition of the truth itself, that we may establish the truth, against which all these mighty heresies have arisen without being able to state anything to the purpose. There is, brethren, one God, the knowledge of whom we gain from the Holy Scriptures, and from no other source. For just as a man, if he wishes to be skilled in the wisdom of this world, will find himself unable to get at it in any other way than by mastering the dogmas of philosophers, so all of us who wish to practise piety will be unable to learn its practice from any other quarter than the oracles of God. Whatever things, then, the Holy Scriptures declare, at these let us took; and whatsoever things they teach, these let us learn; and as the Father wills our belief to be, let us believe; and as He wills the Son to be glorified, let us glorify Him; and as He wills the Holy Spirit to be bestowed, let us receive Him. Not according to our own will, nor according to our own mind, nor yet as using violently those things which are given by God, but even as He has chosen to teach them by the Holy Scriptures, so let us discern them." (Against the Heresy of One Noetus, 1-4, 7-9)

Ambrose tells us "The Arians, then, say that Christ is unlike the Father; we deny it. Nay, indeed, we shrink in dread from the word. Nevertheless I would not that your sacred Majesty should trust to argument and our disputation. Let us enquire of the Scriptures, of apostles, of prophets, of Christ. In a word, let us enquire of the Father...So, indeed, following the guidance of the Scriptures, our fathers [at the Council of Nicaea] declared, holding, moreover, that impious doctrines should be included in the record of their decrees, in order that the unbelief of Arius should discover itself, and not, as it were, mask itself with dye or face-paint." - Ambrose (Exposition of the Christian Faith, 1:6:43, 1:18:119)

Here is how Dionysus of Rome defended against the modalists:

"For these indeed rightly know that the Trinity is declared in the divine Scripture, but that the doctrine that there are three gods is neither taught in the Old nor in the New Testament....And if Christ is the Word, the Wisdom, and the Power,-for the divine writings tell us that Christ is these, as ye yourselves know,-assuredly these are powers of God....But why should I discourse at greater length to you about these matters, since ye are men filled with the Spirit, and especially understanding what absurd results follow from the opinion which asserts that the Son was made? The leaders of this view seem to me to have given very little heed to these things, and for that reason to have strayed absolutely, by explaining the passage otherwise than as the divine and prophetic Scripture demands....Finally, any one may read in many parts of the divine utterances that the Son is said to have been begotten, but never that He was made. From which considerations, they who dare to say that His divine and inexplicable generation was a creation, are openly convicted of thinking that which is false concerning the generation of the Lord." (Against the Sabellians, 1-2)


JUlius Africanus on the Jews, "But I am amazed that the Jews deny that the Lord has yet come, and that the followers of Marcion refuse to admit that His coming was predicted in the prophecies when the Scriptures display the matter so openly to our view." (The Extant Fragments of the Five Books of the Chronography of Julius Africanus, 18)


Augustine wrote that the doctrine of the Trinity is clearly and unambigously revealed in Scripture, Matthew 3:16-17, saying, "Go to the Jordan, and there learn the doctrine of the Trinity!...the notice of the Trinity is no here conveyed to us plainly and without leaving room for doubt or hesitation." (The Works of St. Augustine) trans. by Teske, 1995. Part 1, Vol. 18).

Here he is on the authority of Councils:

"But who can fail to be aware that the sacred canon of Scripture, both of the Old and New Testament, is confined within its own limits, and that it stands so absolutely in a superior position to all later letters of the bishops, that about it we can hold no manner of doubt or disputation whether what is confessedly contained in it is right and true; but that all the letters of bishops which have been written, or are being written, since the closing of the canon, are liable to be refuted if there be anything contained in them which strays from the truth, either by the discourse of some one who happens to be wiser in the matter than themselves, or by the weightier authority and more learned experience of other bishops, by the authority of Councils; and further, that the Councils themselves, which are held in the several districts and provinces, must yield, beyond all possibility of doubt, to the authority of plenary Councils which are formed for the whole Christian world; and that even of the plenary Councils, the earlier are often corrected by those which follow them" - Augustine (On Baptism, Against the Donatists, 2:3)

Here he is in his rebuttal of Maximinus the Arian:

"I should not, however, introduce the Council of Nicea to prejudice the case in my favor, nor should you introduce the Council of Arminum that way. I am not bound by the authority of Arminium, and you are not bound by that of Nicea. By the authority of the Scriptures that are not the property of anyone, but the common witnesses for both of us, let the position do battle with position, case with case, reason with reason. (Answer to Maximinus the Arian).

Theodoret:

"Holy Scripture clearly teaches us both natures [of Christ]." (Letter 99)

"We shall therefore endeavor to persuade Arius to acknowledge the substance of the Holy Trinity, and we shall adduce proofs of this position from Holy Scripture." (Dialogues, 2)

Iraneus had strong words for those who did as you say:

They [heretics] gather their views from other sources than the Scriptures...We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith....It is within the power of all, therefore, in every Church, who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the whole world; and we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and to demonstrate the succession of these men to our own times; those who neither taught nor knew of anything like what these heretics rave about. For if the apostles had known hidden mysteries, which they were in the habit of imparting to 'the perfect' apart and privily from the rest, they would have delivered them especially to those to whom they were also committing the Churches themselves. For they were desirous that these men should be very perfect and blameless in all things, whom also they were leaving behind as their successors, delivering up their own place of government to these men; which men, if they discharged their functions honestly, would be a great boon to the Church, but if they should fall away, the direst calamity....proofs of the things which are contained in the Scriptures cannot be shown except from the Scriptures themselves." - Irenaeus (Against Heresies, 1:8:1, 3:1:1, 3:3:1, 3:12:9)

If you'd like some more quotes, I'll be more than happy to provide them for you.

Michael King said...

Nate,
I think Gene Bridges has a better computer Bible study program and search tools than the rest of us. Kewl.

You said, NO ONE COMES TO SCRIPTURE UNTOUCHED OR UNINFLUENCED BY THEIR POSITION IN SOCIETY, HISTORY, AND LIFE.

I was once an non-Calvinist, very biased against even the thought. My parents were non-Calvinists, my pastor was non-Calvinist, my Sunday School teachers were non-Calvinist. I was raised in SBC churches and never heard of predestination until ...

Until I came to the Scriptures for myself. Wow! Guess what I learned on the pages there?

Much grace to you, Nate.

evanmay said...

Nate falsely equates knowing truth absolutely and knowing a truth that is absolute.

evanmay said...

...in case if anyone is scratching their heads concerning the difference...

In "Knowing truth absolutely," you have the word absolutely used as an adverb. It modifies the action of knowing. You know something in an absolute manner.

However, in "Knowing a truth that is absolute," the "absolute" is an adjective: it describes the truth, not the act of knowing.

God has revealed to us in his Word truths that are absolute. We might not have an absolute knowledge of such truths, but we do possess knowledge of truths that are absolute.

Nate Russell said...

Well, put on your defense of scripture usage. My goal was not to suggest that they did not appeal at all to scripture (though as I just went back to look at my post I note I was unclear here) I wanted to point out that they Church Fathers looked not only to the scriptures but to the Gospel as it had been handed down to them. The canon of scripture was not closed until 381 and while many of the texts within the new testament were widely accepted others were held as scripture in different regions. However, it was their belief in a singular gospel and way of interpreting the writings they held to be scriptural that enabled them to maintain during that time.

As far as my claim to hold to some of the criticisms raised by postmodernism, I did not deny objectivity merely the claim that we can have certainty in our assessments of words not our own. For example, go to the previous post on this site, to the discussions of the nature of the word "world" within John 3:16. Both I and the other gentlemen in the discussion raised valid points that could not be silenced on either side from other scripture (or at least they did not cede defeat, :) joke). I never said that you claimed that Beza was infallible, only that the way in which you worded you claim seemed to imply that his understanding was as clear as the scriptures without hesitation. I obviously write with the hope that people will understand the general idea of what I am trying to say, however, I do not expect that they should the exact thoughts I am having as I am writing. This is why I try to choose my words carefully so that as little guess work as possible will have to be done. But how can I know exactly what anyone of the writers of Scriptures were thinking as they wrote. I can make observations, and very educated guesses (occassionally my observations are even good and beneficial), but my claims can never be final. Hence the infinite Calvinist/Armenianist debate which both appeal to scripture.

I do now see what you meant in you claim against Dr.Yarnell, I apologize for my misunderstanding.

As far as my claim that we all read scripture through a lense, all I have to do is look back throughout Christian history to see this. Why do Augustine, Luther, and Calvin have such legalistic understandings of Salvation? They were all lawyers. Why did Iraneus and Athanasius view it differently? They weren't lawyers. Why are there such things as liberation theologies? Why are the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestants still alive and strong? Does one sect have it all completely correct or is it more likely that when we get to heaven that we are all going to be like, "Oh, that what it meant. I never thought about it like that. We were both right." This does not me that we should not strive to understand, I merely assert that we on earth can never get beyond striving. Completion is never within our grasps here.

Gene, from your previous statements I am sure you will disagree. But I am merely attempting to explain to you what I understand the nature of reality to be.

Well, I leave my defense at this. I hope I have done better in this attempt that I faired in my previous post that you so meticulously carved up. My apologies again for my lack of clarity and my lack of insight into your comments, but then again I am human and do not claim to know and comprehend all.

Nate

GeneMBridges said...

Also, at what point does the Bible claim to be the "word of God". Last, I read that title was reserved for the One and Only Son of God who became man.

You write like an Arian or a modalist, saying that "homoousios" cannot be used in a creed because it is not in Scripture, but, since you asked, let's take a brief survey:

1 Peter 1:25 "The word of the Lord endures forever." Is this about Jesus or Scripture or some kind of existential encounter?

John 17:17: "Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth." Is this about Jesus or Scripture or some kind of existential encounter?

2 Tim. 2:15; "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handing the word of truth." Is this about Jesus or Scripture or some kind of existential encounter?

2 Tim 3:16 "All Scripture is God breathed, and profitable for teaching for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate (sufficient), equipped for every good work" Is this about Jesus or Scripture or some kind of existential encounter?

Mark 7:13 "...(thus) invalidiating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and do many things such a that. (How ironic that Jesus said this considering the topic being addressed in this post to you). Is this about Jesus or Scripture or some kind of existential encounter? Is he talking to Saducees (who affirmed the Pentateuch alone) or the Pharisees (who affirmed the Law, Prophets, and Writings?) The Word of God discusses...the word of God.

The bible is the Spirit-inspired testimony of men to the God's work in their lives and in their world.

How very neo-orthodox. How do you know this is objectively true apart from Scripture being objectively true or the words of your teachers are true? Is this a claim drawn from Scripture and its self-testimony or something else?

The bible does not claim anything more, except in the specific instances where the LORD's words are directly recorded.

Really? Scripture testifes otherwise. It calls the Law God's Word. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Joshua are all commanded to write in a book. Samuel quotes God, but the text itself, if we take your thesis as true can't be certain of that, because it is a fallible record of Samuel quoting God. But how can we know that this is authoritatively true? How do you know the words of the LORD and those that are words of men? Psalm 1 points to the exclusivity and supremacy of God's written Word in that the righteous will meditate on it, "day and night" ([v. 2] figuratively, there is no time to meditate on ecclesiastical traditions!). Psalm 19 declares that God's Word is "perfect," "sure," "enlightening," "enduring forever," and "true" (vv. 7-10). The Psalms nowhere place similar designations on any divine institution or secondary explications. Psalm 37 describes the righteous as one who has the law of God "in his heart"(v.31) and Psalm 119 describes the blessed as those "who walk in the law of the Lord (v. 1). Psalm 119 glorifies God's written revelation as something to delight in (v. 70), love (v. 97), fear (v. 120), understand (v. 130), is everlasting (v. 160), and true (v. 142). How many times does Jesus call on the Psalms? Proverbs? The Prophets? Paul quotes the Psalms, Genesis, even Luke. Peter calls Paul's words "Scripture." Peter instructs us to heed the teachings of the prophets as "a lamp shining in a dark place" (II Pet. 2:19). Paul teaches that Old Testament practices were "written for our instruction" (I Cor. 10:11; cf. Rom. 15:4).

Nate Russell said...

evanmay,

you actually mistake my position. I readily recognize the difference. I'm trying to point out that one cannot know a truth absolutely, but one can know a truth that is absolute. I was however falsely accused of the equating the two.

Nate Russell said...

As for gene,

I must raise my white flag for the time, because I do not have the time, energy, or at the moment the knowledge necessary to debate with someone far more advance in learning than myself. As for my position I do not cede its credibility or defensibility, but merely my advancement of my stance in the present.

grace and peace,
Nate

clarkdunlap said...

I, too, know Dr. Yarnell and I must say that I so appreciate Tom Ascol's clarifying comments (even corrections)to Dr. Yarnell's article. But I also deeply appreciate the "class" and grace that flavors his comments. We would do well to imitate Bro. Tom and not unfairly accuse or assume knowledge of a person's motives. I have written things in the heat of the moment, or spurred by frustration that I wish I'd tabled for a day or two. Lets flavor our speech with grace. True and accurate speech to be sure, but graceful.

GeneMBridges said...

My goal was not to suggest that they did not appeal at all to scripture (though as I just went back to look at my post I note I was unclear here) I wanted to point out that they Church Fathers looked not only to the scriptures but to the Gospel as it had been handed down to them. The canon of scripture was not closed until 381 and while many of the texts within the new testament were widely accepted others were held as scripture in different regions. However, it was their belief in a singular gospel and way of interpreting the writings they held to be scriptural that enabled them to maintain during that time.

A. Now, you've moved the goal post. This was your original claim:

Funny thing the early church councils did not appeal to scripture to defeat these heretical ideas. They appealed to the Rule of Faith, they appealed to the nature and content of their worship.

You said simply that they did not appeal to Scripture. On the contrary, they appealed to it over and above everything else. It's true that they did appeal to the Rule of Faith...but this rule of faith was found where? In Scripture. Their writing is replete with this. I'd encourage you to purchase Volume 3 of "Holy Scripture the Ground and Pillar of Our Faith" it is 100 percent quotes from the Fathers on this issue. See for yourself what they said about their methods.

John Chrysostum even wrote at length that the folks in his church should do all they can to purchase Bibles.

"this I say, not to prevent you from procuring Bibles, on the contrary, I exhort and earnestly pray that you do this" (Homilies on the Gospel According to St. John, 32:3)

"It is a great thing, this reading of the Scriptures!...For it is not possible, I say not possible, ever to exhaust the mind of the Scriptures. It is a well which has no bottom....How many persons, do you suppose, have spoken upon the Gospels? And yet all have spoken in a way which was new and fresh. For the more one dwells on them, the more insight does he get, the more does he behold the pure light." (Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles, 19)

"And so ye also, if ye be willing to apply to the reading of him [Paul] with a ready mind, will need no other aid. For the word of Christ is true which saith, 'Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.' (Matt. vii. 7.)...For from this it is that our countless evils have arisen - from ignorance of the Scriptures; from this it is that the plague of heresies has broken out; from this that there are negligent lives; from this labors without advantage. For as men deprived of this daylight would not walk aright, so they that look not to the gleaming of the Holy Scriptures must needs be frequently and constantly sinning, in that they are walking the worst darkness." (Homilies on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, The Argument)

"Do you wish your son to be obedient? From the very first 'Bring him up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord.' Never deem it an unnecessary thing that he should be a diligent hearer of the divine Scriptures. For there the first thing he hears will be this, 'Honor thy father and thy mother'; so that this makes for thee. Never say, this is the business of monks. Am I making a monk of him? No. There is no need he should become a monk. Why be so afraid of a thing so replete with so much advantage? Make him a Christian. For it is of all things necessary for laymen to be acquainted with the lessons derived from this source; but especially for children....Let us make them from the earliest age apply themselves to the reading of the Scriptures. Alas, that so constantly as I repeat this, I am looked upon as trifling! Still, I shall not cease to do my duty." (Homilies on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians, 21, v. 4)

B. They did not believe in a singular exegetical method. On the contrary, there were two schools, one at Alexandria and the other at Antioch. Antioch was the literalist school. Alexandria was the allegorical school. The West favored the literalist school but was not adverse to allegory. Augustine came to blend elements of the two. The Medieval Scholastics used the Quadriga. The Reformation saw a split among the Medieval Scholastics and one group used the literal (Protestants via the GHM) while one preferred allegory.

As far as my claim that we all read scripture through a lense, all I have to do is look back throughout Christian history to see this.

Nobody denies this, but it is by way of the basic rules of language that we can bridge the historical distance from ourselves to the writers of Scripture. Post-modernism locates this in the reader, not the author. This is why we read ad fontes. You mentioned Rome, but Roman Catholics do not claim Scripture as their authority. They claim the Church itself. Sola Ecclesia is their mantra.

Read through the history of interpretation. When folks have gone ad fontes, they have had incredible unanimity about the nature of Scripture and its clarity of meaning. Hermeneutics is an imperfect discipline, but, when we abide by its rules, we find more unanimity than disunity. More on this later.

But how can I know exactly what anyone of the writers of Scriptures were thinking as they wrote.

You can't, but Scripture doesn't make a claim that you should know what they thought while they wrote, does it? These are words on a page. We are talking about what they wrote, not what they thought while they wrote.

Yes, there are multiple human authors, but only one divine author, so we're not talking about multiple authors, we're actually talking about one Author using many pens.

Why would God command men to write if He did not intend for His word to be understood clearly? On the contrary, "The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. (Ps 119:30).

When Jesus came, He was about 1500 years from Moses, 1000 from David, and 2000 from Abraham. He assumes that the Scriptures are clear and understandable every time he argues with the scribes and Pharisees. Again and again He says things like "Have you ever read the Scriptures?" (Mt. 21:42) or "Have you not read (Matt. 12: 3, 5, 19:14). Paul writes to the deacons and elders and members of the churches and assumes they will understand. Peter does say that Paul is hard to understand about some things (2 Peter 3) but not that Paul is not understandable.

Don't forget the providence of God. God must enable men to understand. Indeed, apart from grace they can't understand and embrace spiritual truth (1 Cor. 2:14) or submit their minds to Gdod's law (Rom. 8:7). Maybe some don't understand, because God keeps them from it? This is certainly the case in Isa. 6. I Thessalonians says God will send a deception on men in the last days. John says Jesus was also fulfilling the words of Isaiah in Isa. 6. Jesus spoke in parables to obscure His meaning in His own day. Then there's the argument from ordinary providence. God has given us senses so we can know certain things. The gift of language is valuable for communicating truth about God. God communicated truth in propositions. He did this to be understood. This assumes some degree of ordinary providence, viz. the rules of the languages in which these documents were written as well as our own, as well as the historical and cultural settings. For the most part, evangelical exegesis has more going for it now than it did 200 years ago or even 400, because we know more about Greek and Hebrew and archaelogy.

Why are there such things as liberation theologies? Why are the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestants still alive and strong? Does one sect have it all completely correct or is it more likely that when we get to heaven that we are all going to be like, "Oh, that what it meant. I never thought about it like that. We were both right." This does not me that we should not strive to understand, I merely assert that we on earth can never get beyond striving. Completion is never within our grasps here.

This is a tendentious standard but a good question. We freely admit that the GHM yields a high probability of certainty, but then, so do the traditional arguments for the existence of God. So does the assertion that the future will resemble the past, precisely because we ground these things in God and His providence.

I think you are confounding the probability of the probability of a hermeneutical method with the probability of an apologetical method. There are arguments adapted for both.

i) The hermeneutical question is the question of how we ascertaining the meaning of a document—especially a document from the past, whether the Bible or the church fathers or a church council or a papal encyclical, &c.

That’s what the grammatico-historical method (GHM) has reference to.

ii) The apologetical question is how we verify or falsify the truth-claims of a document.

Historical evidence (evidentialism) may figure in the answer, especially in the case of historical revelation, but that is not at all the same thing as GHM.

(1) is a prerequiste for (2)

For apologetics, the argument looks like this:

i) The providence of God.

ii) The providence of God as multiply-attested in Scripture, so that it does not depend on the interpretative certainty of any one verse.

iii) The impossibility of grounding knowledge apart from providence.

iv) The fact that Catholicism and these other traditions are in the same boat, whether it’s a Scriptural text or patristic text or Magisterial text.

v) The fact that Catholicism and these other traditions also subscribe to the providence of God.

Even unbelievers grant that Scripture is a theological document. Indeed, that’s one reason they’re unbelievers. They don’t believe in God, so they don’t believe in theological documents. Hence, this identification is the common coin of believer and unbeliever alike.

Whether Scripture is deemed to be authoritative is, indeed, personal-variable. But I’m writing a Baptist, not an atheist, right?

With respect to Scripture hermeneutics, we dont predicate the GHM on a predetermined level of certitude. Rather, we have argued that the GHM is the only game in town, because it doesn't select for a particular position. There is no other way of ascertaining the meaning of Scripture—short of private revelation.

Some interpretations of some verses enjoy a higher probability than others. But the warrant for the GHM doesn’t depend on its being more probable than the alternatives. Rather, its warrant depends on the absence of any genuine alternatives. The contrast is not between probability and certainty, but probability and impossibility.

Now, as a matter of fact, we also believe that the GHM does suffice to tell us what we need to know. And one reason for this is that we are merely emulating the practice of Christ, the Apostles and prophets.

The GHM isn’t predicated on “definitive” findings. You won’t find that presupposition in either Catholic or Protestant commentators.

You mentioned Rome. I'm not sure that's a good example for you. I think you'd do better to stay within Protestantism, because when you draw Rome into this, there are differences. When you draw Liberation Theology, you draw liberal Romanism into it (as that is largely a Latin American phenonomen). Why? For conservative evangelicals, their theology must agree with their exegesis. For liberal Protestants, they may let the text speak for itself, but they don’t feel bound by the teaching of Scripture.
For Catholic exegetes, they can deny that Scripture inculcates certain Catholic dogmas as long as they don’t deny the dogmas. Instead, they just refer that to the development of doctrine, and if there’s an element of uncertainty here, it spills over into Catholicism, for whether it’s a text of Scripture or a patristic text or the text of a church council or the text of a papal encyclical, all the same hermeneutics apply to any historical document.

I'd add that we can fairly well see why there is disagreement over the text of Scripture between Calvinists and Arminians. Arminians bring libertarian free will to the text from outside. For that matter, take a tour through Arminius sometime. It's amazing how much philosophy he actually draws upon to make his case. What Calvinist brings His doctrine of God's providence to the text of Scripture? On the contrary, as I showed above, we draw that from Scripture. We do not see libertarian free will in Scripture. Assertions like, "God would not command us to do what we cannot do" are clearly not drawn from the exegesis of Scripture. Nothing can be deduced about abilities from a command. One can command someone to do something to show them their inability and increase their guilt. Arminians point to texts showing the men have choices to make a case for this, but there is *never* anything but an assumption that they are able to do it in the text.

When Arminians appeal to the "pantos" passages, they almost univocally commit the extensional fallacy. They violate, willfully, the GHM to which we all (including modern Rome) stipulate. Moreover, more and more are admitting that this has been done. Read Bauckum on 2 Peter 3 and I. Howard Marshall on the Pastorals. They admit this very thing and agree with Calvinist exegesis of these texts. At the less than academic level I would say that it's high time Arminians listen to their own scholars. Their best exegetes are rethinking Arminianism's very exegetical foundations.

Calvinists make a big deal out of this, because they see that the logical end is a denial of Sola Gratia and Sola Scriptura. Where you stand on soteriology will affect where you stand on Providence, the Trinity, Scripture, the gospel, church growth, ecclesiology, and many other doctrines. Look at history. Arminianism has historically flirted with Socinianism and all manner of heresy. The Reformed have spun off Arminians, and Neo-orthodoxy, while a Reformed heresy, is not Reformed soteriologically. Unitarianism can result from an over emphasis on the decrees, but Unitarians deny Reformed soteriology too.

I'd argue that most who become Calvinists coming from Arminianism come to their doctrine of providence after, not prior to, they come to their soteriological convictions.

I can make observations, and very educated guesses (occassionally my observations are even good and beneficial), but my claims can never be final.

That is, in itself, a claim to an objective reality, but if reality can't be known objectively, how do you know this is true? Notice too that when you write to me or anybody else, you assume that you know what we mean and we know what you mean. Ergo, you are taking authorial intent as the point of departure.

If everything were dubious, there’d be no benchmark of dubiety. Necessary truth-conditions are not subject to uncertainty.

Getting back quickly to exegesis, just to recap:

To quote my associate, Steve Hays, "Ancient exegesis, which obviously could not take into account modern scientific requirements, attributed to every text of Scripture several levels of meaning. The most prevalent distinction was that between the literal sense and the spiritual sense. Medieval exegesis distinguished within the spiritual sense three different aspects…

It is not only legitimate, it is also absolutely necessary to seek to define the precise meaning of texts as produced by their authors—what is called the "literal" meaning. St. Thomas Aquinas had already affirmed the fundamental importance of this sense (S. Th. I, q. 1,a. 10, ad 1).

The literal sense of Scripture is that which has been expressed directly by the inspired human authors. Since it is the fruit of inspiration, this sense is also intended by God, as principal author. One arrives at this sense by means of a careful analysis of the text, within its literary and historical context. The principal task of exegesis is to carry out this analysis, making use of all the resources of literary and historical research, with a view to defining the literal sense of the biblical texts with the greatest possible accuracy (cf "Divino Afflante Spiritu: Ench. Bibl.," 550). To this end, the study of ancient literary genres is particularly necessary (ibid. 560).

Modern attempts at actualization should keep in mind both changes in ways of thinking and the progress made in interpretative method. This is why we use the GHM. It doesn't self-select a particular outcome.

Actualization presupposes a correct exegesis of the text, part of which is the determining of its meaning. Persons engaged in the work of actualization who do not themselves have training in exegetical procedures should have recourse to good introductions to Scripture, this will ensure that their interpretation proceeds in the right direction."

evanmay said...

evanmay,

you actually mistake my position. I readily recognize the difference. I'm trying to point out that one cannot know a truth absolutely, but one can know a truth that is absolute. I was however falsely accused of the equating the two.


The difference, then, is obviously what absolute truths you believe have been revealed to man. P

centuri0n said...

Nate:

Can you reconcile the problem you have here stated with the fact -- as a non-baptist as noteworthy as Doug Wilson has pointed out -- if we cannot read Scripture and receive its message because of our cultural context, then all other forms of human communication are subject to the same problem? That is to say, if I cannot trust my eyes and my ears to hear what Scripture says, how can I trust them to receive what the liturgy or the councils have said?

Some have tried to argue that liturgy and the councils are themselves the culture which forms the context for receiving the message. Those people enjoy watching dogs chase their tails, and I hope you are not one of them. I look forward to seeing your resolution of the problem you have stated, especially in the context of baptist liturgical forms and polity.

centuri0n said...

I would also like to note for the record:

DOG PILE!

Scripture Searcher said...

Our young friend NATE reminds me of my youngest son (now teaching in China) when he was asked (long ago) by a kind,loving history teacher:



"Son, am I wrong to assume that you like to hear the sound of your own voice? Is this your way of getting
attention? Your daily arguing and debating me in
class is not as profitable as it might be in private in my office."


It was then that my smart son learned to listen and read more, and talk less...



... and he learned so much that he went on to become one of the honor graduates of that university.



Today he is an admired teacher giving the same advice to his students
he received.


NATE, you were very wise to raise your white flag to GEB - see above.



Now keep it lowered and search the scriptures daily (as did the Bereans of
ancient Greece) before you
raise that flag.



In simple language, chew and swallow the food that has been put on your plate before trying to stuff more into your mouth.


This is written by one who loves you, who has been there, done all that and remembers ~


it is the way we all learn, if we want to learn.

Scripture Searcher said...

TOO MUCH COFFEE! That's my story and I am sticking with it!



Too much coffee! Dear NATE, in my previous post in one paragraph I got confused regarding the raising and lowering of your white flag to one GMB, not GEB. UGH!



Horrors, I hope Gene doesn't sue me!!



In love, NATE, you are commended for raising your WHITE flag ~ we urge you to keep it UP ~ until you digest the food GMB (and others) have put on your
intellectual plate.



And pray for me, NATE. that I will learn to control my coffee consumption! it is
not good for my physical or
emotional health.

Tony said...

Well once again the Doctrines of Grace are distorted. As I read this article I first became upset then simply saddened by the lack of understanding of the subject. I am not a theologian as the men mentioned may be but scripture is quite plain and logic of scripture speaks for itself. Yes, we are to use logic when reading scripture as that is how God aligns His word. So here are a few points I saw among others:

1) It is interesting that Yarnell claims that he “five heads” of doctrine were rearranged under the acronym TULIP. We should not forget that the Synod of Dort did not write in English, as far as I know, so the fact that the acronym spells TULIP is somewhat mystifying in itself. I would assume it did not spell TULIP.

2) Under the title “Unconditional Election” a couple standard errors show themselves with the first being that a verse such as 2 Peter 3:9 that refers to believers is applied to “all” men regardless of standing with God. Secondly, I do not know what translation he is using but his use of “everyone” instead of “all people” in 1 Tim 2:4 is somewhat convenient. We can discuss the meaning of “all” but by changing the translation he has inserted his interpretation and not used the original language so as to remove the discussion to the unknowing reader.

3) Throughout the article he alludes to: “the errors of Calvinism”,” “False premise” about God’s Character” and “Arminians correctly conclude” with all of these deffintly showing not a summary of beliefs, as stated at the beginning of the article, but a critique of them.

4) One also sees the idea that since a “vast majority of Southern Baptists would disagree”, no statistics to back this up but I probably would not disagree with this statement, that how one votes is how one should interpret scripture. With the statistics we see in SBC churches one may conclude that a vast majority of unregenerate Southern Baptists would disagree and what does mean.

5) I am shocked, but not surprised, that 1 John 2:2 is used under the section on “Limited Atonement” and in doing so Yarnell either shows a lack of understanding of “Propitiation” or just ignores the implications of this passage. If the death of Christ is a “propitiation” , and it is, then if it is applied to the whole world the whole world would need to be saved or there are people in hell with their sins paid for. For me this is a crucial text as it is hard to get around this, that is unless he is limiting the effectiveness of Christ’s’ sacrifice and I do not think he would like to say that.

6) Lastly, at the end of the article he alludes the issue of infant baptism and thus knowingly or not is leading people to think that since Calvin would argue for infant baptism then if one holds to the Doctrines of Grace we automatically are thrown into that camp.

In general the article does nothing but add to the division that he claims TULIP creates. Saying that the Doctrines of Grace are a man made system reveals a complete misunderstanding of them and neglects the vast amount of scripture that supports all five points. I pray that those that read this will seek out the truth and not just take his words as true. Unfortunately many people simply read something and believe it and this leads to a multitude of errors. For those that hold to the Doctrines of Grace I pray we lovingly help others see the beauty of understating how God saves.

Stuart said...

Still waiting for an article in an SBC publication that examines how the "5 points" of Arminianism (which Dort convened to address, no?) line up with BFM2K. I think it would be quite revealing. Perhaps that's why it hasn't been done.

evanmay said...

Horrors, I hope Gene doesn't sue me!!

Good luck ;-)

Nate Russell said...

Scripture Searcher,

Thank you for your advice, and I will attempt to follow it. I also thank you and Gene for you helpful critiques of my own statements. From this point on if I do blog on this site, my assertions will most likely come in the form of questions that I might better understand your position, with the exception of occassional observations. I do very much thank you Scripture Searcher for the kindness with which your remarks were made.

I would like to make one last comment on the remarks made by centuri0n and evanmay.

Evan, you get my point, and I am happy. And yes you are right, apparently we do hold certain different truths.

Centuri0n, who said we could not read Scripture? I asserted that one cannot know everything that is in Scripture, because one grasp completely the infinite within the finite mind. Scripture as the Orthodox say has a plethera of meaning, because it is filled with the inspiration of the Spirit. You mentioned the idea of cultural context and argued that this was bad because it asserted that there is a problem in conveying meaning between cultures. Name me anyone that has done any significant work in another language and tell me this is not an accurate assement of language. I lived in Romania for three years and learned the language. Some ideas and problems are bound to the culture in which they are found. There is nothing sans culture, meaning there is no group of people that can function or communicate without a specific linguistic system to their culture. Does that mean that we can no nothing of other cultures? NO. Does that mean that we cannot understand everything about that culture? Yes. As Christians we do have our own culture, which is bound to our history, our beliefs, our Scripture, etc. Several people have stated on previous blogs that the Reformation has never ended or should end. We must hold to this and constantly measure who we are now with who we have been in the past and who we want to be in the future. And as for Scripture we must be active in recognizing where early Christians and Jews were in their own specific contexts so that their theologies can have a true impact on our own. I guess I do hold to that position you so despised, however, I think you will agree after some research that from your own position it is the only system that truly shows the beauty of the Divine story which God has written.

Thank you for your patience with me, which a hope to repay with patience in my own speech.

Grace and peace,
Nate

David B. Hewitt said...

Nate said:
I asserted that one cannot know everything that is in Scripture, because one grasp completely the infinite within the finite mind. Scripture as the Orthodox say has a plethera of meaning, because it is filled with the inspiration of the Spirit.

Here inlies someting important. Scripture is indeed filled with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; in fact, the whole of it is inspired. So then, it would be correct to state that, in order to understand Scripture properly and completely, one would need the Holy Spirit. All Christians have Him, and therefore that part of the equation is completed.

You will notice that I said "completely" when referring to the understanding of Scripture. Just having the Holy Spirit in you is not enough. Now hear me: I am not saying that God is deficient. However, just because a believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit does not mean that such a believer has been matured in certain areas. It doesn't mean that the Holy Spirit has brought that believer through certain levels of study.

As Don Whitney would say, the Holy Spirit works through the Spiritual Disciplines. I would also say that He works through the intensive study of the Word of God, so that we can arrive at the correct meaning of it. Understanding the rules of hermeneutics is critical in this venture, especially the first and foremost rule of context.

When both of those requirements are met, true understanding is achieved. Of course, not everyone will have the same level of understanding, because God has brought each to the same level.

I firmly believe in Deuteronomy 29:29 which reads as follows in the ESV:
"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law."

What, I ask are things revealed, if they are not the text of Scripture? So then, I have to believe that the whole of the Bible can be understood, and should be understood. Not everyone will get that understanding of course, and there are many reasons for that, some of which I've stated.

There are also aspects of God that we won't be able to understand, but not because they are in the Bible; no, the reason, from what Deuteronomy seems to be telling us, is that they have not been revealed, and therefore, wouldn't be in Holy Scripture. I also suspect that we don't understand fully the holiness of God, His justice, His love, etc, because there are aspects of such things that are not discussed in the Bible -- and it isn't like our finite minds would be able to handle it anyway. :)

So then, I sign off for now. Feedback on the post is welcomed!

May God Receive ALL Glory!
David Hewitt

Nate Russell said...

David,

You make some interesting points. However, there are two things i want to state. First, the verse you quoted is one that I have seen quoted often, but what are these things? You will say scripture, but what do you mean. His nature? His actions towards man? his statements to man? Again all these get to the point I made about trying to place the infinite within the finite, whether it be man's understanding or man's language. Secondly, you did not address the second part of my argument concerning the nature of linguistics and the problem of culture. While the Bible is an inispired book, it contains statements and issues that are entirely bound to other cultures. I stated, "There is nothing sans culture, meaning there is no group of people that can function or communicate without a specific linguistic system to their culture. Does that mean that we can no nothing of other cultures? NO. Does that mean that we cannot understand everything about that culture? Yes."

Let me know what you think. I only make one request. Please, don't try to sweep this problem under the rug like I have seen certain people do with other philosophical arguments. This is an issue that must be addressed. We live in a postmodern society, and whether or not you agree with it you must address the issues it raises. Most people try to use some sore of circular argument that creates a straw man easily overcome, however, if you are to truly make headway within this world, you must take postmodern criticisms head on and take it seriously. Otherwise it will stand there like a pink elephant in the room that makes it impossible for people to see you because of the wall that you have put up. One thing I add is that theology is our study of God so that we might know as best as possible who he is, and thereby know who we are supposed to be not only as humans in a general sense, but as Christians in the U.S. in 2006. That is why you must answer these points, and while my attempt to pose the issues might actually be easy for some to knock over. You will not find those of the movers and shakers so easily toppled.

I'm sorry for the rant. I'm just sick and tired of people using the excuse it's not found in scripture to dismiss arguments such as the one I raised. Would you suggest to the members of you baptist churches to take a little wine for their stomachs, or maybe it'd be better for you to tell them to take some Tums?

Nate Russell said...

His Nature?...Etc. Should read "God's Nature?..."

Tony Hicks said...

While I was bothered by Dr. Akin's statement that has been referenced here ("I fear that some extreme forms of Calvinism have so warped the mind and frozen the heart of its advocates"), his article was a model of moderation in this sometimes contentious discussion. He was fair to Calvinists and, for the most part, represented reformed views without prejudice. I hope the demeanor he maintained will be an example that will guide future discussions. Both reformed bloggers and prominent SBC pastors could learn from his fairness and charity.

David B. Hewitt said...

Nate:
I appreciate your candor and desire for dialogue. You said:

First, the verse you quoted is one that I have seen quoted often, but what are these things? You will say scripture, but what do you mean. His nature? His actions towards man? his statements to man? Again all these get to the point I made about trying to place the infinite within the finite, whether it be man's understanding or man's language.

Yes, I will say Scripture, and I will say all of those things you mentioned -- as far as the Scripture reveals them. This is of course not to say that we can understand God's attributes perfectly, but I certainly think that we can understand all that the Scripture says about God's attributes and understand THAT perfectly.

For example, we know that the Bible tells us God is holy. We can know that about God then -- that He is holy. However, I doubt seriously that we have the last word on the holiness of God. Can we say He is infinitely holy? Sure, and we can know that from the Bible as well, but I dare say that when we are in Heaven, and seeing God as we never have before, we'll understand His holiness in a new way, a way we could not know before, a way that causes creatures to bow before Him day and night, and cry it out!

Revelation 4:8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,

"Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!"


Ah, then we shall know how Holy God is in a new way for sure!

Paul speaks to this issue of incomplete knowledge as well over in 1 Corinthians 13:12

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

Notice what he DID say here -- he said we CAN know "in part" even if we cannot know fully yet -- but we WILL know it eventually in Heaven!

What the best answer I think to give to a postmodern is that we need to get our epistemology from the Bible just like anything else. Truly, it isn't any different from confronting someone on the issue of why homosexuality is wrong, why murder is wrong, why the Doctrine of the Trinity is true, etc. The Bible teaches those things, and therefore we know them to be true.

By the same token, the Bible teaches that we can know certain things, and since we can know certain things, therefore it must be possible for us to have knowledge and understanding. Do a search sometime in a concordance (like e-sword or BibleGateway) and see how often the word "know" shows up, and pair it with words like "God" and "holy" and see what the Bible says we can know about God and His holiness amongst a myriad of other things!

The issue for the post-modern is the identical issue it has been for anyone else in any other age. It is just that the post-modern comes at things saying "we cannot really know" rather than saying the Bible permits A or B, or that God is or is not Z or X.

I hope this helps, and that God is glorified in it!

In Christ,
David Hewitt

PS -- I do realize tha the Bible was written in a particular culture, like this post is being written in ours. :) However, once we understand that culture, then we can make better sense of it. I for one am extremely indebted to archaeologists and anthropologists for their work in this area, and such people have contributed much to the understanding of biblical cultural context.

Nate Russell said...

Notice what he DID say here -- he said we CAN know "in part" even if we cannot know fully yet -- but we WILL know it eventually in Heaven!

Once again, I never said we could not know in part. My point by asking the questions of God's nature, Etc. is to point out that those are things while revealed in Scripture. How much and How clearly they are presented we do not know. Also as far as God's actions are concerned. We may see in part what he has done but we often do not see from his perspective why he has done them, or how he has done them. Those are things we cannot know completely. Here I know I'm going to get in trouble. Predestination is one of those things. From the human side does it seem that God had to choose me and not others? Yes, sometimes. Does it seem also that I chose God and other rejected God? Yes, sometimes. Do I know which is the case? No. Both are advocated in Scripture, argue with me over the nature of those verses and I will justify them in the exact same way you do your own. (I will state they are in scripture and if you would understand them correctly and not bring you philosophy to the text you would see it correctly, this seems to be the general assertion, and yes Calvinism does have it's on philosohpy). Also as far as archaeology and anthropology ask any of them if they know everything not only about the physical structure and language of the societies they study as them if they know the connotations of the words that were used within that culture. Some things are lost in time. You cannot know comepletely, what is not there to know.

I must go to work now, my argument is not complete but I am out of time.

Nate

Castusfumus said...

Nate is interested in the truth. My impression is that he will join the ranks of the Reformed Baptists. My prayer is for his enlightenment.
Hang in there Nate!

Jeffro said...

Nate said:

Also as far as archaeology and anthropology ask any of them if they know everything not only about the physical structure and language of the societies they study as them if they know the connotations of the words that were used within that culture. Some things are lost in time. You cannot know comepletely, what is not there to know.

The answer is no. Every aspect or word of an ancient culture or language is not fully known. However, I am sure that it would be safe to say that well over 95% of Hebrew and Greek language is understood, even down to its connotations. This question is nothing more than an attempt by postmoderns (not necessarily you Nate) to deconstruct language, based on very few unanswered meanings. But, unfortunately, most postmoderns fail to apply the same concept to themselves. If they did, they would not expect to be taken seriously, because no one but them could really know what they mean when they write what they write. This idea that we cannot fully understand someone from another time and place (even when we know their language and cultural history) destroys meaning, and ultimately makes knowledge impossible. For who really knows what we can know and what we can't? Who gets to be the judge of what can be known and what can't be known?
It all seems to spiral into a subjectivism that ultimately can only know God through some sort of a leap into the dark.
So Nate, what can you know about God? How do know you can know what you know about God?

jbuchanan said...

Tom,

Thank you for the clarifications and insight into Dr. Yarnell's article. I agree that it is better to have Dr. Yarnell write on this subject than other denominational workers. I would like to suggest that SBC Life publish a series of debate type articles written by representatives of both sides of this argument. These need to be scholarly and well researched but also written to inform and educate the people in the pews. It is clear that the vast majority of Southern Baptists do not have the faintests idea what this debate is all about. We need to cease denominational rhetoric and begin serious theological inquiry. Yes Tom, I agree that the biggest problem is that the vast majority of Southern Baptists cannot even be found and show no signs of regeneration. Oh that we would have the courage to stand up and confront the greatest sin of our denomination.

Let me suggest that Dr. Voddie Bauchum write articles from the Calvinist position and that either Dr. Patterson or Akin write from the Arminian position.

I also find it interesting that our denomationational leaders alwasy quote Mullins, Hobbs, and Rogers but rarely if ever quote Broadus, Manly, or Mehl. I wonder why?

jbuchanan said...

I jusst finished reading Dr. Akin's article on Batpist Press entitled "TULIP: Divine Soveriegnty, Human Responsibility." I was impressed with the way that Dr. Akin dealt with this debate and appreciate the challenges that he laid down. His six suggestions are solid and I think much needed in our present enviroment.

I was very pleased that he referenced Boradus and Basil Manly. I was disappointed, however, that he did not address the dreadful trend of churches replacing their pews with theater style seating.

David B. Hewitt said...

Nate said:
Those are things we cannot know completely. Here I know I'm going to get in trouble. Predestination is one of those things. From the human side does it seem that God had to choose me and not others? Yes, sometimes. Does it seem also that I chose God and other rejected God? Yes, sometimes. Do I know which is the case? No. Both are advocated in Scripture, argue with me over the nature of those verses and I will justify them in the exact same way you do your own.

Verses such as these from Joshua 24....
(14)"Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. (15) And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

...right? The Israelites were indeed commanded to choose who they would serve. They were supposed to choose to follow God of course. Interesting that Joshua said in verse 19...
But Joshua said to the people, "You are not able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.

How do we reconcile it? How about verses like these from Romans 3:
(10)as it is written:

"None is righteous, no, not one;

(11)no one understands;
no one seeks for God.

(12)All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one."


The people are commanded to choose who they would serve...but then are told that they are not able to serve the LORD. People everywhere are commanded to repent (see Mark 1:14-15 for starters), but the Bible makes it clear that no one seeks God.

How can we reconcile the two? Well, we don't -- they are already friends, and we accept both teachings and build doctrine from both. Even though man is commanded to choose, the Bible makes it clear that he is unable to choose God, for no one seeks for God. The reason no one seeks God is twofold. John 3:19-20 states that we hate the light and will not come to it. We hate God and refuse to come to Him. Theologians of the past have called this a moral inability. Man's nature is so corrupted by the Fall (not to mention the sin we continue to commit), that we cannot choose God; our wills are bent against Him.

The other reason would be that God needs to open up our eyes and change our wills so that they can choose Him; we then WANT to do it.

Doctrines such as Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, and Irresistable Grace come into play to explain how all of this works, depending on the aboev Scriptures and others for their support.

I'm a Reformed Baptist not because I am trying to ignore the fact that man has a will or makes choices; on the contrary, I'll readily agree that he has a will and DOES make choices! However, I refuse to ignore the implications of any parts of Scripture, such as those I have cited above. Where there appears to be a contradiction, it is in our minds, not the Bible. We probe deeper, and gain understanding into what it teaches.

On that note, I'm a Reformed Baptist because I must accept all of the Scripture and what it teaches, never explaining any of it away, but by careful and sometimes difficult exegesis, arriving at the following conclusion, among others:

Man is hopelessly lost in his sin, dead to the things of God. In spite of this, the Father chose to save some of them before the foundation of the world, the Son then died for them, and the Holy Spirit drew and draws them to Himself and keeps them His until the Day of the Lord.

It is in this I have hope for my salvation, in the unconquerable purpose of God from before time began.

May Our God Be Forever Praised!
David Hewitt

Scripture Searcher said...

Dear David Hewitt,


Your comments above, in your earnest effort to instruct Nate, are simply profound and at the same time proundly simple.


You are to be commended for
your fine explanation and
I hope many others will read
your words.


I am thrilled to fine so many younger Christian men
who are committed to the
TRUTH and both able and willing to declare and defend it to others!


PERSEVERE!

Scripture Searcher said...

Simply profound

and

profoundly simple!!!

David B. Hewitt said...

Scripture Searcher:

You sir are definitely an encouragement and blessing from our Lord Jesus Himself.

I shall indeed persevere by the grace of God -- you do the same!

SDG,
David Hewitt