Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Ergun Caner on "Predestined Not to Be a Hyper-Calvinist"

Dr. Ergun Caner has published an article by this title in the latest National Liberty Journal. I hesitate even calling attention to it because I know that what he says will provoke many who regularly read this blog. Provocation is so easy to come by these days that I hate to be another carrier. But, obviously, my hesitations were not enough to hold me back. They were overcome by other motivations.

First, the tone of this article is so much better than the comments that Dr. Caner left on my blog a few months ago, I am tempted to be encouraged that the prospect of a reasonable debate on the issues over which we disagree is actually possible. I realize that last sentence is a study in caution, but I am somewhat encouraged. Dr. Caner quotes a Director of Missions who fears that "the Reformed movement will not go away" but is "slowly taking over some major churches" (I guess this is in contrast to the "minor churches" that this DOM thinks we *should* be pastoring). Dr. Caner responds:
Is his concern justified? Is Calvinism slowly overtaking Baptist churches?
To be fair, I must admit I have been vocal on this issue.
Very vocal.
I could hardly be viewed as an "unbiased" source on the issue. I have preached it in the Thomas Road Baptist Church pulpit, and have stated emphatically in my classes.
Though those who have kept up with this blog or Caner's ministry might think this disclaimer to be unnecessary, it is encouraging to see him concerned with fairness. In fact, he goes on to make this appropriate admission:
Also for the sake of fairness, I must add that one cannot solely blame our Reformed brothers, either. Baptists are notorious for "fighting and fussing" over such issues as the color of the carpet and the location of the water fountains. This is not the first scuffle into which we have walked and it certainly will not be the last.
And this:
Thirty years ago, however, we could not blame all Pentecostals for the discord in our churches, and neither can we blame every Calvinist for the growing discord today. Those who instigated the fights that ultimately led to splits did not represent every Pentecostal. Neither do the most strident of the Reformed-leaning Baptists represent all Calvinists today.
I welcome the tone that these admissions can set in discussing the issues of Reformed theology. And I would likewise admit that not every Fundamentalist is guilty of misrepresenting the doctrines of grace or spewing forth the kind of venom and deception that characterized the now defunct baptistfire website. Many of our Fundamentalist brethren are just as interested in accurately representing those with whom they disagree as most Reformed Baptists are.

A second reason that I have chosen to address this article despite my hesitations has to do with my genuine desire to understand what Dr. Caner and those who follow his line of reasoning actually hear when they listen to the doctrines of grace articulated. Often, after reading the descriptions of Calvinism by its critics I find myself recoiling in horror with the thought that such beliefs ought to be cast back into hell from which they originated. I hate what they describe as much as they do. But what they describe is not historic, evangelical Calvinism. It is not the Calvinism of the 293 delegates who met in Augusta, Georgia in 1845 to form the Southern Baptist Convention. It is not the Calvinism of Spurgeon, Edwards, Carey, Judson, Boyce, Mell or Dagg. And it is certainly not the Calvinism of Founders Ministries.

So a question lingers on in my mind, "Where do such descriptions come from?" Is there something that those of us who are unapologetically reformed in our understanding of the Bible's teachings on salvation are doing to misrepresent our views? In our advocacy of the truth are we actually detracting from it in the way that we communicate it? I know that the truth is offensive and Jesus spoke plainly about it dividing even close relations. Paul said that the preaching of the cross is a scandal and an offense to many. Those are simple facts that all who are loyal to Christ must acknowledge and prepare to live with. But are we in the Reformed camp unwittingly giving unnecessary offense by our attitudes and actions when we uphold our convictions? No doubt that is true of some on many occasions and perhaps of many on some occasions. That still does not justify the misrepresentations because the 9th commandment doesn't have an exception clause attached to it.

Here is an initial attempt at understanding all of this. I think Dr. Caner is alarmed by the worst that he has seen in Calvinism and Calvinists. Further, I believe that he is fully convinced by his reading of Scripture that those who are reformed are simply wrong about moral inability, unconditional election, definite atonement and effectual calling. What I am not certain about is this: does he think that the strident, repulsive image of Calvinism that some Fundamentalists construct is inherent to the actual doctrinal convictions of reformed theology or is it an aberration of it? At this point I genuinely don't know the answer to that question, though the caricatures are so clear to me that the answer is obvious.

A third reason I call attention to this article is because confuses categories and definitions in ways that I find terribly unhelpful to honest diaologue. For example, Caner says this:
The real problem we face is a new form of Hyper Calvinism, that I call "Neo-Calvinism." Neo-Calvinists are not just "hyper;" they are obsessed.
He goes on to make this point of "clarification:"
So I will not be misunderstood, let me define the term. A Neo-Calvinist is a Hyper Calvinist with a twist. He cannot discuss anything without referencing Calvinism. For the "Neo-Calvinist," you are either Reformed, or you are teaching heresy. It is the prism through which every doctrine is filtered.
First, it is if Calvinism is being judged along a continuum with "hyper" to the right and "neo" to the far right--like someone who is "really, really, serious about his Calvinism." Of course, his use of "neo" notwithstanding, this is historically inaccurate. Hyper-Calvinism has a history. It can be defined. It is not Calvinism on steroids. As Spurgeon said, speaking of Calvinists, it is not that we believe any less than those who are hyper, we believe more. We believe in duty-faith and repentance. We believe in the absolute responsibility of unbelievers to trust Christ and be saved. When "hyper-Calvinism" is thrown around without distinguishing it from evangelical Calvinism, understanding is not advanced, confusion is.

Additionally, Dr. Caner's 5-fold definition of what he calls "neo-Calvinism" (hyper-Calvinism) is unhelpful.

1. "Double Predesitination." Calvin believed this. Are we to label him a hyper-Calvinist? John Bunyan believed this. Is he a "neo-Calvinist?"

2. "Not all babies who die go to heaven. They do not say outright that 'non-elect babies who die go to hell.' They simply say that they leave such issues to the sovereignty of God. This raises the issue of the very nature of God, doesn’t it?" Yes it does raise that issue, which is exactly the point, from my perspective. God is "too wise to be mistaken, too good to be unkind." The cross proves this beyond all doubt. For the record, I have never heard anyone argue that any baby that died in infancy went to hell. What I and others have said is that God has not told us clearly in His Word how all that works. We bow in humility and leave what He has not chosen to reveal in His all-wise, all-loving hands. This, it seems to me, is far better than trying to equate theologically the nature of a child with the nature of a dog (check the 6th bullet point)--neither of which are accountable to God for sin.

3. "God’s "love for mankind" must be redefined." Not "redefined," but simply defined. There is a reason D.A. Carson named his book, The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God. Passages that speak of God hating sinners were not surreptitiously edited into the Bible by "neo-Calvinists." We must deal with those texts along side the ones that speak of God's universal love and grace.

4. "Invitations are an insult to the sovereignty of God. Disturbing as this may sound, some ministers of this stripe have stopped giving invitations in their services." Here Dr. Caner equates "altar call" with "invitation." The Gospel cannot be preached without an invitation because the call to come to Christ is inherent in the message. The fact that some Calvinists do not want to use the altar call system, what we might call "neo-invitationalism," should not be misconstrued to suggest that they are against inviting people to Christ. In addition, Rick Warren does not use an "invitation" and teaches against it. Should he also be labeled a hyper-Calvinist?

5. "Calvinism is the only Gospel." Granted, Spurgeon did say that Calvinism is the Gospel. But anyone who has read his sermons or books knows that by that he did not mean that simply articulating the 5 points is proclaiming the Gospel. I think Dr. Caner has a point here. When Calvinists quote Spurgeon on this it tends to confuse as much as clarify. As my own concerns over the loss of the Gospel in our churches has grown in recent years I have become more careful not to speak like this, and here is the reason why. I know of Calvinists who preach careful doctrine but who do not preach Christ so well. And the Gospel is all about Jesus Christ, who He is, what He has done and why that matters.

Dr. Caner appeals uncritically to the Anabaptists as his spiritual forbears in distinction to the magisterial reformers. I will let that historical debate slide for the moment. But I found much with which to agree in this paragraph:

In our history, Free Church believers have never been adherents to one particular system or philosophy. We certainly have not been locked to a scholastic movement that was formed by men. We are Biblicists. We believe the Bible is inerrant, not because a particular creed forces us to do so, but because we see Scripture as plain on that issue. We are adamant that Jesus Christ — virgin-born, living a sinless life, crucified, buried, physically resurrected and soon returning — is the only Savior because the Bible states it, regardless of the whims and wishes of men.
Of course, the existence of both the Particular Baptists (Calvinists) and General Baptists (Arminian) betrays his first sentence, but his main point is well-taken. It is precisely because we are a people of the book that we should be willing to look honestly and rigorously at what that book says. And wherever and however we disagree on other points, we must all agree on the exclusivity of Jesus Christ as the Savior of sinners.

Near the beginning of the article Dr. Caner makes these statements:
I am not a Hyper Calvinist. I am not an Arminian.
I am a Baptist, ....
Though I am under no delusions that we mean the same things by these terms, I can also affirm those statements. I am not a hyper-Calvinist. I am not an Arminian. I am a Baptist, a historic Southern Baptist, which means I am committed to the reformed, Calvinistic understanding of salvation.

Final note: My treatment of this article is not an invitation to take shots at Dr. Caner in the comments. Engage his arguments, raise questions, objections or agreements, offer clarifications or support, but do not attack his person.

169 comments:

Jeremy Weaver said...

You know, if you have to tack an invitation on at the end of your sermon, then you probably haven't done your job.

That's all I'll say because Gene will say what I'm thinking anyway.

Aaron L. Turner said...

I honestly do believe that Dr. Caner, doesn't understand what we believe. I believe this because of the following statement:

"So, let it be known: I believe Jesus Christ died to save mankind and offers salvation to every living soul. I believe in the "whosoever will." I believe that His love and salvation are extended to every person who will repent of sin and trust in Him."

As one who subscribes to all of the five points of calvinism, I can honestly say that I embrace that statement without any reservation or qualification. And all of the Calvininists that I know believe this.

He made this statement in order to, "challenge the assumptions of the new breed" Does he really know what those assmptions are?

Greg B said...

Tom:
This just maybe good news. Aaron is right, he really doesn't know what he is talking about. And I think the fact that he is toning down and righting down points reasonbly clearly means that he is starting to know what he doesn't know.
Neo and hyper are not the same. Hyper isn't more "Calvinistic" just as Spurgeon said, but far less. Where are these hyper calvinsts in neo clothing. Many of the splits that he may point out would not hold up to the pastor didn't support missions or evangelism the big to do in So Alabama a few years ago. The new Calvinistic church is more missional than the surviving old church.
If he and Amir will be as gracious on the podium as Ergun is acting on paper there is real hope that the demonization from this corner must end. Am I being a little too pollyana?

Greg B said...

Oh, Jeremy I thoroughly agree. If your sermon has not included an passionate call for sinners to repent and seek Christ it doesn't honor God to stand at the front of the church during Just As I Am to prospective members who will be voted in before anyone knows who or what they are.
I have always been amazed that so many of our brothers are so attached to a practice that is neither directly Biblical nor has it proven to be very effective in the big scheme of things. This frequently is the first thing that critics bring up (the lack of an altar call invitation).
Greg Bailey
(Powhatan VA)

David B. Hewitt said...

Dr. Tom, you said:
Final note: My treatment of this article is not an invitation to take shots at Dr. Caner in the comments. Engage his arguments, raise questions, objections or agreements, offer clarifications or support, but do not attack his person.

Again, your gracious spirit is evident by your adding this in at the end of your post. May we all acquire it!

Second, Aaron quoted Dr. Caner as saying:
So, let it be known: I believe Jesus Christ died to save mankind and offers salvation to every living soul. I believe in the "whosoever will." I believe that His love and salvation are extended to every person who will repent of sin and trust in Him.

I too agree with this statement, at least the words of it. I suspect, however, that Caner is using different meanings of the terms "died to save mankind" than I or we would use. Indeed, Christ died to save people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation (see Revelation 5:9), rather than dying to ransom and save every person in every tribe, tongue, people, and nation.

Aside from that difference in definitions, I would agree with Dr. Caner's statement. God's love and salvation are indeed extended to every person who will repent of sin and trust in Jesus, and I am eternally grateful for that fact!

May God be Praised!
David Hewitt

Andrew said...

“Is there something that those of us who are unapologetically reformed in our understanding of the Bible's teachings on salvation are doing to misrepresent our views?”

I think that is the right question! Let me see if I can improve upon it by asking it in the negative:
Is there something that those of us who are unapologetically reformed in our understanding of the Bible's teachings on salvation are not doing that would preclude the misrepresentation of our views??

How about launching a Founders-led campaign against the heresy of hypercalvinism? That would cut the feet out from under those who misrepresent Calvinism. Now I realize that this seems pointless in one sense, because there are no hypercalvinists in the SBC (and very few anywhere it seems!) On the other hand, it would serve the people of God very well because they would not be susceptible to the anticalvinist crusaders. Those preachers who seek to “poison the well” regarding Calvinism in their congregation would not be successful if even a few SBC’ers could identify hypercalvinism. When they try to “immunize” a congregation against doctrines that historic Southern Baptists have believed, someone will call them them on the carpet and hold them accountable.

If the average SBC’er could identify hypercalvinist distinctives, then these anti-Calvinism crusaders would be SILENCED. Indeed, they would be forced to articulate the doctrines of grace ACCURATELY. And isn't that what we are asking for? Accuracy and truthfulness!

Tom, have you or anyone else given consideration to this? It seems that the inflammatory rhetoric has reached a fever pitch, and it could be silenced if not for such widespread ignorance of hypercalvinism. It seems to me that the vast majority of the strawmen are built upon the EASILY DISPROVED assertion that 5-point Calvinism = hypercalvinism.


P.S. All you guys who love expository preaching: please do not make faces at your monitors because I suggested the preaching of a topical sermon. The doctrines of hypercalvinism lend themselves to an ideal example to contrast with true Biblical doctrines of salvation.

I heard John MacArthur say at a conference "You know, it's okay to preach topically... once a year... if you ask for forgiveness."

:)

scripturesearcher said...

All Bible believing Christians are perpetual optimists because of our faith in the absolute sovereignity of God...

but all Bible believing Christians are also aware of the many foxes and wolves in disguise that can scatter and destroy the sheep.

We must always beware of those who use the same scriptural language that we use, but who define the biblical and theological terms in an entirely different way.

David B. Hewitt said...

Andrew said:
How about launching a Founders-led campaign against the heresy of hypercalvinism?

Sounds like a great idea to me! :) Sadly, I have no pulpit to preach from at the moment; God has not granted me a church to shepherd at this time.

However, I did write a post on this issue a while back, and linked to another one from my blog. Both I think can be very helpful!

SDG,
David Hewitt

YnottonY said...

Caner said:
"So, let it be known: I believe Jesus Christ died to save mankind and offers salvation to every living soul."

Me:
Caner's error here is not in his belief that Christ died to save mankind (moderate Calvinists affirm this, but not high and hyper-Calvinists), but in thinking that he died with an EQUAL intent to save all mankind. Furthermore, he errs in thinking that Christ offers salvation to every living soul. Christ's salvation is offerable to every living soul (hence the great commission), but it is not actually offered. There are some who do not even hear the external call.

Caner also said:
I believe in the "whosoever will."

Me:
His error is in assuming that the will of man is the ultimate efficacious cause of salvation, rather than the efficacious will of God. None of the "whosoevers" would ever "will" to believe if it were not for the Holy Spirit working in efficacious grace to change a sinners affections/heart. The general call of the gospel is indescriminate (to both elect and non-elect) and well-meant, but the ultimate cause for why anyone wills to believe is ultimately grounded in God's good pleasure/decretal purpose.

Caner said:
"I believe that His love and salvation are extended to every person who will repent of sin and trust in Him."

Me:
Actually, this is poor wording that sounds hyper-Calvinistic. It's the hyper-Calvinist who thinks that God's love extends to every person who will repent of sin and trust in Him (i.e. the elect alone). It would be better to say, as moderate/classical Calvinism says, that God loves every single human being and wills their salvation, but not equally. There is such a thing as distinguishing grace as taught in the bible. Calvinism does not deny the universal love of God, but they teach that God ESPECIALLY loves his elect.

p.s. For those interested in reading about issues touching high and hyper-Calvinism, I have written extensively about it on my blog. Caner could never accuse me of being a hyper-Calvinist, or of not addressing it's errors EXTENSIVELY :-)

YnottonY said...

Let me clarify further:

Caner said:
"I believe that His love and salvation are extended to every person who will repent of sin and trust in Him."

I would put it this way:
I believe that His love extends to every single human being, and that His salvation is sincerely extended to every person who hears the external gospel call, whether elect or non-elect. God does not merely love the believing, but also the unbelieving.

For a high Calvinist spin on Caner's words, see David Hewitt's comments here:

"God's love and salvation are indeed extended to every person who will repent of sin and trust in Jesus (Tony: he means the elect here), and I am (Tony: he means as an elect person) eternally grateful for that fact!"

David B. Hewitt said...

Wow, I've never had anyone call me a "high Calvinist" before. :) Obviously, ynottony is distinguishing between high and hyper; I will of course affirm that God loves everyone, though I'd put that to common grace.

I don't remember having myself quoted and parsed before -- that was kinda neat! I'm truly honored (and I mean that).

SDG,
David Hewitt

Joshua Stewart said...

I am very familiar with the ideas that Dr. Caner continues to make. I have heard some form of these over and over during the last several years of my life. I have often raised a question that some of you fellow bloggers can assist me with. Where has this false understanding of historic reformed theology come from?
In my opinion there seems to be several generations of pastors and scholars who think they know for certain what this biblical system is. Many of them will go on and on about what reformed theology really is and it seems obvious to me that the information they recite has no foundation yet it is impossible to get many of them to re-think what they believe to be true.
They have a hard time overcoming their incorrect presuppositions. Also, I see a flawed hermeneutics that they likewise will not take a closer look at.
I maybewrong here in my conclusion but I think the Seminaries in the past did a great harm to many of the pastors on the basic level of exposition.
As for Caner and others I believe they need to drop what they believe to be known as facts and go back to some history books and begin to take a closer look at what their presuppositions are and test to see if this are true and fit into a more well defined system. Afterall is not systematic theology at least an attempt of thinking in a logical manner.
So, why are so many people borederline arrogant in what they think they know for a fact. I will say again, historic evangelical calvinism, I believe, takes into account the entire counsel of God.

YnottonY said...

Hi David,

Yes, I distinguish between high and Hyper-Calvinism, just as Dr. Curt Daniel does in his lectures on The History and Theology of Calvinism. One is high in their Calvinism if they at least maintain a strictly particular view on the design of Christ's death. High Calvinism is more than that, but not less than that. Being called a "high" Calvinist does not make one wrong theologically. It's just an accurate historical label used to guage where one is at ideologically.

I did not call you a hyper-Calvinist because I knew you would affirm common grace and the universal love of God, such as in these comments:

"I will of course affirm that God loves everyone, though I'd put that to common grace."

I concur with the above words.

GUNNY said...

Tom wrote:

"Invitations are an insult to the sovereignty of God. Disturbing as this may sound, some ministers of this stripe have stopped giving invitations in their services." Here Dr. Caner equates "altar call" with "invitation."

This is particular beating, among all the beatings that come with the misrepresentation of what Calvinism actually is. I give the gospel every single sermon, knowing that a non-believer is likely there (perhaps even on the rolls) and because it's encouraging to believers. I implore them in response to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ that they might be saved. I tell them that I'd be willing to talk with them some time at length about what it means to have a relationship with God by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Yet, I'm still accused of not caring about the lost because I didn't give an invitation (i.e., I didn't have people come to the front of the building after the sermon).

Conversely, I've seen far too many Baptist services where the gospel was not articulated, but STILL an invitation was given ... to come to the front to receive Jesus. This is with no context of why to receive Jesus or what that even means, etc.

The idea that evangelism has not taken place merely because an altar call has not transpired just makes me mad any more.

I don't call people to the front. I call people to Christ.

Thanks Tom for your rational treatment in this blog. I'm in the "Old Army Fight" mode after seeing my theology once again libeled and defamed, thereby defaming my character.

David B. Hewitt said...

ynottony:

I suspected as much, and thank you much for the clarification. I just haven't heard the term used to describe me before, kind of a novel thing I guess. :)

I'm a rather unusual one then, if I have my understandings right, since I am more the Infralapsarian stripe as well. Of course, I might just be askew on my historical understandings. :)

In any case, good to make your online acquaintance.

SDG,
David Hewitt

David B. Hewitt said...

gunny said:
Conversely, I've seen far too many Baptist services where the gospel was not articulated, but STILL an invitation was given ... to come to the front to receive Jesus. This is with no context of why to receive Jesus or what that even means, etc.
WELL STATED, Gunny! I always knew there was something amiss when such an altar call was made, just appearing tacked on to the end of a message or even a testimony time. To what are the people supposed to respond? Indeed, such things are confusing and misleading, though I'd never put my finger on why.

Thank you for posting that!

SDG,
David Hewitt

YnottonY said...

Joshua asks:
"Where has this false understanding of historic reformed theology come from?"

Me:
I suspect that many of them are not distinguishing between the actual position of Calvinists and what they think Calvinism logically entails. It is quite common to say that P is Q, when one really means to say P entails Q.

Have you ever seen Calvinists describing Armininians as Pelagians? Or as Open View Theists? The reason why this is done is because some Calvinists think Arminianism LOGICALLY ENTAILS those positions. So, rather than being careful to say P implies or logically entails Q, they say P is Q. It's an unfair description. One can use reductio ad absurdum arguments effectively, but one needs to avoid committing straw man fallacies in the process.

This is just a small factor for why so much confusion abounds.

The bottom line is this: Sin has touched man's ability to reason properly. Theologians call this the noetic effects of sin, as you know. The noetic effects of sin become particularly excited when theological truths come into play, especially when gospel truths are at stake. Accuracy of speech gets lost during the emotive polemical exchanges, and each side can overreact in recoiling from perceived errors.

Also, people are just lazy. They are not interested in doing the necessary hard work to really get understanding.

YnottonY said...

Hi David,

Nice to meet you as well. You said:

"I'm a rather unusual one then, if I have my understandings right, since I am more the Infralapsarian stripe as well."

Well, high Calvinists can fall in different places in the lapsarian scale, whether infra or supra. So, there are higher high Calvinists and lower high Calvinist ;-) Owen and Turretin are lower high Calvinists (they were both infralapsarians). A higher high Calvinst would be a supralapsarian Calvinist who has not rejected common grace, the well-meant offer or duty-faith. If they went higher and reject these three things, then they would be hyper.

High Calvinism is not necessarily associated with supralapsarianism. Some supras are high and some supras are hyper. Rather than using a lapsarian schema to differentiate, one can use the death of Christ as a guage.

Low Calvinists might say that Christ died to save all without making careful qualifications.

Moderate Calvinism would maintain that Christ died to save all, but to especially save the elect.

High Calvinism would say that Christ died to save only the elect, but the non-elect also get general benefits such as free offers and common grace as a result of Christ's satisfaction.

Hyper-Calvinism would say that Christ died to save only the elect, and God only hates the non-elect. So called "common grace" is no grace at all. The common bounties of providence amount to ill-given (or ill-meant) good gifts.

David B. Hewitt said...

ynottony:

An excellent summary! Thanks again for the information!

I may ask other questions of you at some point; you are proving to be a wealth of information. :)

SDG,
David Hewitt

David B. Hewitt said...

Dr. Tom -- sorry for hijacking the thread -- I'm done now, I promise! :)

DH

Tom said...

Andrew:

You asked, "How about launching a Founders-led campaign against the heresy of hypercalvinism?"

Actually, we did that 10 years ago. Check out issue 24 of the Founders Journal. Pay particular attention to the open letter that announced the give away of 1500 copies of Iain Murray's Spurgeon vs. Hyper-Calvinism. All told, we gave away 2000 copies. Interestingly, some very well-known Southern Baptist Calvinists got upset with us for doing this.

Founders Ministries has been on record from the outset of our existence over 20 years ago that we are adamently opposed to hyper-Calvinism. Unfortunately, this has not stopped some from making that accusation against us, anyway.

Tom said...

Gunny:

I am on the same page with you. Regarding the "Old Army fight mode"..."Rest!"

Jeffro said...

The discussion of hyper-calvinism brought to mind Andrew Fuller's name for hyper-calvinists. He called them pseudo-calvinists, for they were not calvinists at all.

God Bless

The Church Janitor said...

Where exactly is this church that I keep reading about that has split over Calvinism? I know it comes from the former BaptistFire website, but where did they come up with the story?I tried googling it and nothing else came up. And since it is "another" does that not imply there are others?

tim rogers said...

Brother Tom,
To be fair; I believe that you have mis-quoted the title of his article. His article was entitled Predestined not to be a Hyper Calvinist.
To be fair to the author, I believe his tirade was more pointed to the Hyper part than the Calvinist Part.
Just my opinion.

Calvinist Gadfly said...

Caner- "I honestly believe that there is no question in Christendom that the church should walk away from, run away from, or hide away from; and I think there are times that we need to confront issues that are frontline issues [i.e. Calvinism]."

Caner then continued to indicate that the number one issue affecting churches today is "Calvinism."

If Caner truly believes this, then we will see if his passion will translate proportionally to a lengthy debate in October.

Tom, thanks for clarifying terms in this post. As Sproul says, "Hyper-Calvinism is Anti-Calvinism."

LivingDust said...

As a Southern Baptist layman I read this post and am reminded once again that the men who are "called" to positions of leadership have found it acceptable to immerse themselves in more fruitless controversy about the Word of God.

Nearly every blog of any significance within the Baptist realm has ongoing banter regarding Calvanism and its various forms.

I can see that Calvinism is the up and coming "separator" within the ranks of the SBC. No, No, No - Lets not pursue the things that bring us together as brothers and sisters in Christ, lets continue in man-made "intellectual" debates that don't forward the cause of Christ, but keep us distracted and missing the mark.

I've come to believe that the real problem with the SBC, is that most of its Preacher/Pastors are not truly called by God. They are merely seminary graduates who believe that their Baptist seminary diploma quailifies them to preach the Gospel and publically grind up the reputation and unity of the Baptist people through continuous, fruitless arguments and controversies.

Drew Scott said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
pastorleap said...

Greetings brethren:

As always Tom, a very stimulating post. I commend you for yet again getting us talking about the "real issues" of our day.

I pastor in one of the unique areas of our country (Eastern KY, Appalachia) where TRUE HYPER-CALVINISM still exists, and I battle it daily. It is NOT however, among Southern Baptist brethren, but rather in rural Appalachian "Holler-churches" known as either "Old Regulars" or "Enterprise Baptist Churches". They have little to no influence, except over small handfuls of faithful elderly folks and their children, and they are dying out by and large because of their refusal to evangelize or cooperate with other churches. One particular group in my area travels each Sunday to one of four different "church buildings", all of which USED to be independent churches, but which now do not have crowds even big enough to open the doors. Their leaders are EXTREMELY anti-intellectual, uneducated, and think that "liberal" Southern Baptists like me (tongue in cheek...Im a 1689, Abstract, and 2000 BFM supporter) are the scourge of the earth.

I recently was asked to speak at a funeral for a man whose son is a member of my church. I had visited him in the hospital before death, and the family honored me by asking me to read scripture, share the obituary, and pray at the beginning of the service. I gladly obliged. The lions-share of the service though, including the "preaching" was done by one of these "hardshell" preachers. On the night before the funeral, while calling on the family and viewing the deceased, I was verbally accosted by this preacher who wanted to set me straight for having a visitation and outreach program and for supporting missions. He mocked me and spoke in very perjorative terms about SBC missions life.

The next day during the "sermon" (he preached for 45 minutes on Romans 8:28-30), instead of preaching Christ and offering hope, he decided to set straight the crowd (and presumably me) by giving the TRUE ordo salutis of salvation. He actually stated (pay close attention sports fans...) that "faith in the heart of the elect precedes either the preaching or the hearing of the gospel!" I know this because I wrote it down. It shocked me that much. To be fair, he was at least logically consistent with his hardshell beliefs. Because he believes faith is supernaturally just "there" in the heart of the elect at birth, he sees no reason for the preaching of the gospel to the lost.

This is true hyper-calvinism. I deal with it every day in Eastern KY. I abhor it. I also resent the fact that Ergun and Emir (and others) continually mischaracterize my beliefs by using the term "hyper-calvinist." They are being intellectually dishonest when they do so, and I believe that they know this. They are steadily achieving their goal however, which is (through slander) to create a ripple of fear throughout the ranks of mis-informed SB preachers so that they will cringe at the very sound of words like "sovereign grace," "Calvinist," or "election."

What they continue to do is dishonest and unethical, and it should be called such. Hyper-calvinism still exists, but not among Southern Baptists. They know this. They and others in their ranks should be honest about it.

I am open to fair and honest debate about the doctrines of Grace. I am even willing to call a brother one who does not fully agree with me on these doctrines. What is unacceptable however, is attempting to create a new vernacular and completely redefine well established theological terminology in order to curry favor with the misinformed masses.

I love this site, and pray for the Founders movement often.

Drew Scott said...

Dust,
It's one thing to criticize division for the sake of division. I agree that such efforts are foolish. However, an understanding of grace and how it works isn't a fringe issue, although it is no reason to break fellowship. I think a lot of reformed people would be happy if they were simply given a seat at the discussion table without having to defend themselves all the time.

What is another thing entirely is the way your post seems to call into question the calling of anyone who is discussing the issue. Your jest at the idea of "calling" in paragraph one and the last paragraph seems to be your way of drawing a question mark over the character and calling of the pastors posting here. I do not think you meant to be so bold without knowledge. Would you care to rephrase?

LivingDust said...

Drew,

I see where these "discussions" of Calvinism (which are happening throughtout the SBC) are taking us - to a deeper and further divide among the ranks of Southern Baptist Preacher/Pastors and congregations. You probably know and observe that it is already beyond mere "discussion". Its affecting the lives of real people and real congregations.

Do we really need, as Southern Baptists, another issue that divides us. Must we even argue and debate about God's grace to the extent that another fissure is created. Does the drive for an intellectual understanding of God's grace justify destroying unity within the church. Can you not see Satan at work?

I do not call into question the "calling" of any specific Pastor discussing Calvinism on this post, but share this observation:

The Southern Baptist people are very weary of the so-called leaders of the SBC who thrive on controversy and intellectual debates that drive deep the wedge of disunity. This "discussion" of Calvinism will bear no good fruit.

GeneMBridges said...

Do we really need, as Southern Baptists, another issue that divides us. Must we even argue and debate about God's grace to the extent that another fissure is created. Does the drive for an intellectual understanding of God's grace justify destroying unity within the church. Can you not see Satan at work?

Not all debate and division is spoken of poorly in Scripture. I think you're overcharacterizing the nature of the debate. If this is, in point of fact, the biblical worldview, should it not be discussed and taught. The material principle of the Reformation is at stake. It's the difference between functional Unitarianism and Trinitarianism.

There is nothing wrong with division per se. The Bible speaks about division in the church in positive and negative light.

1 Cor. 11:18-19, "For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part, I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, in order that those who are approved may have become evident among you."

1 Cor. 1:10, "Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and there be no divisions among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment."

1 Cor. 11:19 uses the Greek word "haireses" for "factions". We get the English word heresy from this Greek word. A heresy is a false teaching, something that deviates from orthodoxy. If we see that the Scriptures declare something clearly (orthodoxy), and if someone teaches contrary to that clear teaching, then he or she is teaching heresy.

The Scriptures teach that there is a place for division and that is when opposing teachings that are contrary to sound doctrine. But division can only occur when the truth is known and those who abide with the truth should correct those who do not.

The question that needs to be asked is "How will this debate be handled?" If folks leave churches but the churches are preaching truth, then what's the problem exactly? Afraid of a denominational rift? Isn't this ironic after the recovery of inerrancy? Why is inerrancy worth dividing over and not the material principle of the Reformation?

As to Dr. Caner's article, I've written on it here: http://triablogue.blogspot.com/
2006/06/caner-on-calvinism.html

See also www.strangebaptistfire.com

centuri0n said...

My only comment is "for such a one I was once also," or words to that effect. The sad truth about such views is that they are what come from a historically-limited, biblically-slanted kind of "theology".

Is there any word on the debate this fall? Have any of the principles had any further exchanges?

Tom said...

Tim:

You are right and I have edited the title of this post. Thanks for helping me correct this mistake.

centuri0n said...

A just scanned down the page and saw Living Dust's comments about this debate being "man made".

I find it disturbing that the definition of the Gospel is determined to be a "man made" debate by anybody. Here's one of the questions at stake, Dusty: did Christ only make it possible to be saved (meaning: salvation is now available in His blood, but not secured) or did Christ once and forever actually save anyone at the cross (meaning: salvation is secured in His blood, being unrevocable and a source of comfort for those who are in Him)?

If there is a debate over this point, I would also call it "man made", but not in the sense that you do. This is not posturing and bickering: this is about whether God is passive or active in the saving of men, and that is the dividing line between all other religions and the faith once delivered to the saints.

Greg B said...

As for the splitting of churches. I will not name names because I am not a member of one of any of the 3 churches that I allude to. In 1999-2000 the same 2 pastors served in 2 SBC churches (upstate SC) and both split. One after they left, the next they pastored the new split church. Having talked to members of the 1st split off church, in their opinion, many were open, but they were heavy handed.
2d example was in a large church in Southern AL. I am again, not a member of either the original or the Reformation minded new church, but, the Founders Journal and many church press members reported on it. In this case it appears that the Pastor was on the page that most Founders Friendly folks endorse (let the Biblical truth of God's soveriegnty come out in expositional preaching and ministry), but a large section of the church rebelled. As I posted in the 3d or 4th post, this new church is unapoligetically reformamtion minded and evangelical/outreach minded which counters many of the assertions made against the pastor and those who started the new church.
If you look on the FF church pages you can probably put 2 and 2 together or there maybe folks who are more comfortable giving details than I am (due to closer knowledge of the situations).
Greg B
(Powhatan VA)

Greg B said...

Pardon me. My first example was muddled to say the least. The 2 pastors were judged to be heavy handed by even the reformation minded members who established the new reformed church.
Calvinism can divide churches. Often times becuase of poor judgement by pastors, often times because of the congregation not understanding what Reformed theology is (like Dr. Caner), sometimes because as a DOM in upstate SC told me "the problem is unsaved people are running our churches."

Scott said...

Tom,

Reading the comments by livingdust has brought back some memories when I was on staff at FBCW. Let me be clear that I and others welcome the words of livingdust though we disagree but he carries himself well on the blog. You can talk with people who disagree with you that really want dialogue. His comments bring some things to mind.

1. Alot of Southern Baptist view the convention as above the commands of Scripture. They would never admit to this statement but we have read other blog comments that seem to refer to not rocking the boat within the SBC. It's like the Mormons( The Mormons will say that they believe in Jesus but you and I know that what is really important is what does one believe about Jesus that seperates us). So alot of Southern Baptist will say that we should just " Love Jesus" rather than looking at Why have I come to love Jesus . Example: Most Southern Baptists will use language like " Thank God I'm saved" and I agree with them but when we teach Calvinism( The Scriptures) and teach people all the things that God has done for His Elect to bring about Salvation( Election, the gospel call, Effectual Calling) we are accused of " Just being Academic" like the comment by livingdust about our degrees. The reason why I can say" Thank God I'm saved" is because I have been made to see in Scripture all that God has done to bring about His salvation within me. I used to hear Dr. Johnny Hunt say all the time when preaching " I may not be great at pronouncing words or a theologian or be the deepest but praise God I at least use what I got and tell people about Jesus" and the crowd would go absolute wild while he ran back n forth on the platform or stood on a chair. I would agree with Dr. Hunt that even a converted child or the simplest converted man can be used to glorify God but it's almost attacking Calvinist because if we explain what Scripture says about these things like Paul did we are accused of being just " Intellectual" " Just want to sit around and read" and not care about the souls of men. So livingdust comments almost remind me of the mentality at FBCW of just give them Jesus rather than are we really giving them the Jesus of the Bible. Dr. Graham has made comments about Calvinist " This elitist Theology or People". The comments by livingdust just prove how much more praying and teaching needs to be done by " Faithful men" in shepherding our churches.

2. The comment by livingdust about division is another sign that we don't understand biblical evangelism. Though he never said this but I bet you can trace it to this because most Southern Baptist would say we have a world to reach for Christ( And Calvinist agree) so we don't have time to get into this " Calvinist Stuff" though Paul's letters are dominated with it. Dr. Roy Hargraves book AN IDOL CALLED EVANGELISM is a must read. Just the title will make people "Freak Out" and charge Calvinist with not wanting to Evangelize. At FBCW you rarely heard in Evangelism Training or the pulpit about what brought about our salvation and what actually needs to be said to sinners about themselves and what does it mean to follow Christ but we continually heard " Just ask Jesus into your hearts" rather than why we need to ask Jesus into our hearts.So, livingdust comments are a product of what they get from majority of our pulpits. All of this has produced in the SBC large unregenerate members, godless behavior within churches and families, and a placing of the Convention over truth in our local churches.

3. I hope the comments by livingdust show us why we need to confront men like Drs. Caner, Hunt, Graham and etc that we stand to protect our churches from what has been going on.

I'm afraid that the Independent Baptists like Curtis H, John Rice, and the Sword of the Lord group was right about the SBC on one thing " The SBC Political Machine" is killing us and we wonder why are seminaries, agencies were filled with " False Teaching" and how professors had tenure and could not be touched because they were protected by the Machine . The Convention has made men worry about status, job, and not rocking the boat and I'm afraid the line of " Not dividing us anymore" will continue to be our downfall.

Livingdust,

Please know that I don't question that you are a Christian or that you don't want things to get better in the SBC but I do disagree with you but that's why we have the blog to openly and lovingly discuss things that might make us more sharper for the KIngdom.

Darel said...

This is likely lost in the ether....

I've come to see that the overly degreed Mr. Caner is not alone in his willful ignorance, in spite of his "education". This is not a shot at Caner as much as the reality that simply being "well read" or educated does not mean you don't have holes in your knowledge.

If you can read through the histories and doctrinal books of Baptists from just 100 years ago, you will realize that while they were certainly Calvinist, they also weren't believing the things men like Caner accuse them of. And we are of that strain of particular (Particular) Baptists.

I had a short discussion with an Arminian pastor last evening and he was surprised to find that I (as a Calvinist) believed in the Doctrine of Justification by Faith. He holds a Doctorate. (He also found it strange that I value Matthew Henry above any other commentary... but that's a different matter altogether)

I wonder, honestly, if we are not being confused with other Baptists? After all, aren't the group that holds up the "God hates fags" signs calling themselves Baptist? Perhaps the problem with Calvinism is the same... we are being accused by confused name-association.

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

Tom said:
“Actually, we did that 10 years ago.”

Ah, I knew it was too obvious for me to be the first with the idea :) Please forgive my ignorance and youthful zeal. I was but 15 years old at that time - just another teenager rebelling against God and fulfilling Jeremiah 17:9.

I will pick up a copy of that Founders Journal and also the Iain Murray book. I can pass out copies to some of the younger anticalvinist pastors in my area:)

Tom said...

Centuri0n:

You asked, "Is there any word on the debate this fall? Have any of the principles had any further exchanges?"

Answer: All is quiet on the eastern front...despite numerous attempts to have the moderator clarify the thesis and parameters of the debate.

volfan007 said...

i agree with dr. caner. i am not a five-point calvinist. i am not an arminian. i am a christian. i am a biblicist. i am a baptist.

whats sad is that some of you five pointers are so into calvinism that you dont even realize you are off the deep end. you have blinders on your eyes and cannot see the truth about yourselves. i do understand what you believe, and you are into an extreme. you dont want to admit it.

God bless you. i pray that you will grow in your understanding of the bible. i pray that the Lord will lead you into His glorious truth.

Christopher Redman said...

volfan 007 -

Thank you for your prayers. We'll do the same for you, that you might grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ unto a perfect and mature believer.

BTW, can I ask a question? If God did not intend to communicate His sovereignty in salvation for the glory of His grace alone, why did He use words like election, predestination, and chosen? God knows that these words would be divisive so what was His reason for using them?

Another question, is a man born again by an act of his will?

CR

Greg B said...

Likewise Volfan (I want to joke about saving you from Big Orange):
I will pray that you see our interpretation of scripture as one that captures the truth of the Gospel as God created and communicated it. God honoring at its core.
Off the deepend. I see very few "Calvinists"that cut off fellowship because of disagreements on this issue.
Greg B

YnottonY said...

Volfan007 said:
"i agree with dr. caner. i am not a five-point calvinist. i am not an arminian. i am a christian. i am a biblicist. i am a baptist."

A biblicist is also a rational person. They seek to sort things out carefully, and to deal with historical differences accurately. They would realize that under the large umbrella term "Christian," there are baptists and non-baptists. Then, under the subgroup "baptist," there are those that share soteriological and exegetical viewpoints in common with Calvin (Calvinists), and those who do not (non-Calvinists). Sometimes the non-Calvinists are classified as Arminians since they share certain soteriological and exegetical viewpoints in common with that system. People in each group are not labeled Calvinists or Arminians because they entirely agree with the system of thought associated with each man, but because they have alot in common with the soteriological positions of either person. Many "Calvinists" on this board are higher than Calvin himself, yet they are still called Calvinists. Some who comment on this board do not go as far as Arminius, but they still maintain a free will viewpoint, conditional election, resistable grace and an equal universal redemption. In so far as their views overlap with Arminius, they may be accurately labeled Arminians for the sake of theological shorthand.

When a Calvinist calls another an "Arminian," they are NOT saying the person is not a Christian, or not a baptist, or not a biblicist. I hope that you would be historically honest enough to say the same about some of us Calvinists, i.e. that we are Christians, baptists and biblicists.

In addition to being a baptistic Christian who seeks to follow the bible in all things, I hope and pray that you would also seek to be rational in all things. Such is the biblical mandate for any disciple of Christ.

God bless you. I pray that you will grow in your understanding of the bible. I pray that the Lord will lead you into His glorious truth.

Jeremy Weaver said...

I'm a Vol fan and a Calvinist.
Don't let one bad egg ruin it for the rest of the Vol fans.:-)

Byroniac said...

Volfan:

I hate to ask a really stupid question, but what does "Vol fan" mean? I kept hoping someone would say enough so I could read and figure it out, and not have to embarrass myself by asking, but all to no avail. :)

BTW, when it comes to sports, I am cave boy. Mr. Cave Boy, now that I've grown up, in fact. I didn't even know exactly who the Mavericks were until recently.

David B. Hewitt said...

Volfan, you wrote:
whats sad is that some of you five pointers are so into calvinism that you dont even realize you are off the deep end. you have blinders on your eyes and cannot see the truth about yourselves. i do understand what you believe, and you are into an extreme. you dont want to admit it.
The deep end? Blinders? Cannot see the truth about ourselves? We are into an extreme?

Honestly, I'm not entirely sure what you mean by any of those statements. Off the deep end as in what? Such a term can be used positively ("He's gone off the deep end in His passion for God") or pejoratively ("He's gone off the deep end; he's lost his mind").

May God strip away blinders from me and others. Indeed, we all come with preconceptions, and by God's grace we must distance ourselves from them when we interpret the Bible. Much prayer is indeed required for this, and often God uses others to speak to us. Might I ask, what blinder do we have that you are aware of but we are not? If you can truly be of help to us, we would welcome it, and consider it the providence and power of God that spoke through you to help us.

What truth about ourselves are we not seeing? What is this "extremism" that we possess? All I want to do is divide the Scriptures rightly, live them out, and encourage others to do the same. On what level have I and the others here failed to do that? In this post at least (there may be others that I either haven't seen or have forgotten about to my shame), you have not provided the Scriptures we have abused (either doctrinally or in attitude) and then the correct interpretations of them. The Word of God is inerrant; it must be what we use when determining the results of such things. Would you not agree?

Indeed, what people such as myself call for frequently in our churches is for the inerrancy of the Scriptures to be held to in practice and not just in name. If we hold to the Word being inerrant, then it should be the focus our of preaching, and we should endeavor strongly to dive into it and bring out its meaning, for only it and not my own ideas is the trustworthy revelation of God.

That is part of the reason I fervently believe what is often called "Reformed Theology" to be biblical Christianity. There are many things that I do not understand fully, especially things relating to the Doctrine of Providence. Yet, I cannot deny that the Scriptures teach these things that I cannot reconcile in my mind. However, the Scriptures are inerrant; my understanding is not, and therefore I go forward proclaiming the truth of them while taking my lack of complete understanding as yet another manifestation of the awesome glory of my God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

For the Glory of the Name,
David Hewitt

Caddiechaplain said...

David,
What a logical, well-thoughtout response to the last caller. May your tribe increase, may you catch the big ONE, dude!

Greg B said...

If I am correct, and I would bet the farm I am, VolFan007 is one of those folks who get up at Ohhhh-dark 30 every fall Sat to drive I40 from Memphis to Knoxville to watch some very large and fast young men chase a pig bladder around a field with lines on it. He is a fan of the University of TN athletics. UT folks are great fans. The type that opponents think are obnoxious, but their players and coaches really appreciate.

volfan007 said...

i am a huge ut fan. i wish that i could attend more games. i dont face paint, but i get close.

now, i mean by extreme that you all are into an extreme of theology...a tangent. just as the landmarkers are off into an extreme. just as the charismatics are off the deep end. i believe that you are christians. i believe that you are very sincere. i believe that you seek to live for the Lord. you are just off on a tangent.

by the way, i believe that God planned to save me from eternity past. He foreknew me. He chose me. He is sovereign.

does that blow yall's minds?

with equal zeal, i believe that man has to make choices and has responsibility. i believe that man has to respond to God in order to be saved, and he can reject God.

i can see yall's eyes twitching now. i can see yall's typing fingers getting itchy. i can see yall's blood pressure going up. calm down. it's ok.

matthew 23:37....you would not....not that God would not...that you would not!!!!

Christopher Redman said...

I think that volfan007 is not interested in answering my ?'s -

I said,

"BTW, can I ask a question? If God did not intend to communicate His sovereignty in salvation for the glory of His grace alone, why did He use words like election, predestination, and chosen? God knows that these words would be divisive so what was His reason for using them?

Another question, is a man born again by an act of his will?"

My thoughts since vf007 has not replied -

I suppose vf007 is either not interested in anything except arguing phrases and labels (ie: calvinist, arminian, christian, baptist, biblicist) so as to redefine their meanings or he is not interested in discussing meaningful and straightforward questions about the text of scripture.

Perhaps vf007 is a bit intimidated to actually consider the text?

So, in vf007's conspicuous absence, I will provide the answers to my own questions:

1) God inspired specific words including election (to make a choice, select out of), predestination (determine one's destiny beforehand -ie: in eternity past), and chosen (to make a divine choice or selection) because that is precisely what God does/did/and wills to reveal about Himself and ourselves in relationship to Him.

2) A man is not born again by an act of His will but only by God's power alone...

John 1:13 "who were born (spiritually), not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God"

John 3:3,8 "Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God...The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

Romans 9:16 "So then it is not of him who wills nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy." (ie: God's purpose in election)

CR

YnottonY said...

Volfan007 said:
"by the way, i believe that God planned to save me from eternity past. He foreknew me. He chose me. He is sovereign.

does that blow yall's minds?"


No, it doesn't. The fact that you think that such words would “blow our minds” reveals that you do not yet sufficiently understand the historical issues. Both the Calvinists and the Arminians can affirm the above words, i.e. “God planned to save me from eternity past. He foreknew me. He chose me. He is sovereign.” The crucial questions concern the nature of God’s plan to save human beings, the nature of foreknowledge, the basis for his choosing anyone, and the meaning of his sovereignty. It seems that you delight in theological ambiguity. You’re making assertions that don’t further the discussion, and you’re describing yourself in a very ambiguous way.

Volfan007 said:
"with equal zeal, i believe that man has to make choices and has responsibility. i believe that man has to respond to God in order to be saved, and he can reject God."

Once again, both Arminians and Calvinists can affirm all the above words. The questions concern the nature of man’s choices, whether they are determined or undetermined. All believe that man is responsible. I don’t think that there are even heretics who would deny that. It’s only the hyper-Calvinists who like to say that man is accountable but not responsible. Everyone on this board also believes that man has to respond to God in order to be saved (i.e. justified). We also believe that man can reject God, but we insist that God is able to so change a human heart that they (the elect) will not ultimately reject him.

Volfan007 said:
"i can see yall's eyes twitching now. i can see yall's typing fingers getting itchy. i can see yall's blood pressure going up. calm down. it's ok."

Your visions of people with eyes twitching and fingers itching are only in your own mind. You are not saying anything controversial, but you think that you are. You’re only displaying a remarkable gift for persistent ambiguity. We are calmly watching you type things that are very vague. I am just baffled by the display of historical and theological ignorance.

You seem to be rebuking and admonishing us for things you have not yet studied, apparently. This does not describe the behavior of a biblicist.

Charles said...

Volfan007, Hello!

These "Founders" types are more Calvinistic than Calvin and nothing like C. H. Spurgeon. Keep that in mind.

Charles

David B. Hewitt said...

Charles:

Your words have a sprinkling of truth, but in reality are false. Are we "more Calvinistic than Calvin"? Well, maybe, but anymore we need to define what "more Calvinistic" means with all of the confusion there is out there about the term. Again, and perhaps it is just me (forgive my slowness of understanding), but I'm not completely sure what you mean. Do you mean a "higher" type like ynottony has mentioned, or do you mean something altogether different? Having read a few things on your blog in weeks past, I honestly don't know which it is.

Secondly, we are not completely like Spurgeon; indeed, who could be. I doubt I'll ever be as good a preacher or theologian as he. However, to say that we are "nothing like C.H. Spurgeon" is simply not true. From my meager understanding, it would appear that the majority of the regular contributors to this blog are more like Spurgeon theologically than not like him -- a far cry from being "nothing" like him. Even if it were the other way, your term "nothing" remains untrue. As your brother in Christ, I admonish you -- be careful how you use words such as that. They tend to communicate the wrong things unless they are carefully employed; it definitely appears that you have failed to use such care.

volfan:
ynottony responded to your words better than I could have for sure; I'll simply allow my response to be his. :)

SDG,
David Hewitt

Kennith said...

I was introduced to the Doctrines of Grace over 15 years ago. When the Pastor and elders discipled me, I was shown certain scriptures that I tried and tried to argue with. The more I tried to disprove Calvinism, the more the HOLY SPIRIT (Not hollering, it is just my habit to capitalize, anything refering to God) proved them to be true.

The Pastor and Elders helped in such a loving way and at the same time encouraged evangelization to the extreme. Romans 10:17 was pounded into my heart and memory, for we must present the Gospel to all, and the WORD will not return void, but will accomplish what the FATHER has intended it to do.

BUT, I understand where a lot of our brothers and sisters are misled. There was a couple within the church that tended to be arrogant and proud of their doctrine. There was no humility whatsoever. Later on, I found myself becoming like them. My wife would reprimand me often because when I meet a new pastor my first question was "Are you a Calvinist?". If not then I proceded to berate them.

There are many young men that are coming to the knowledge of the Doctrines of Grace, but are not being equipped how to lovingly present them. At least that is the case in my area.

I rejoice in the fact that many are looking into the Scriptures and seeing these particular doctrines. This is the work of GOD. The Word will cleave asunder, but we will we be filled with the SPIRIT enough to be gracious and not allow the old cliches to reign?

eklektos said...

I'm sorry, I don't see much hopeful in Caners comments. Looks rather to me like he has painted himself into a corner and refuses to correct the problem. I'm sure there are some over the top Calvinists in the SBC, but they're not prominent as far as I can tell. Certainly nothing to warrant the ahistoric and false characterization he has made of those in the SBC who hold to the doctrines of Grace. Having mischaracterized those who hold to historic particular baptist soteriology as "hypercalvinist" he seems now to imply that the historic view of election is even worse, it's neo-Calvinism. He also continues to hold that his position is "moderate calvinism", which it's not. He further wants to imply that five point Calvinist are not loving enough because they won't make the fate of infants certain:
2. Not all babies who die go to heaven. They do not say outright that "non-elect babies who die go to hell." They simply say that they leave such issues to the sovereignty of God. This raises the issue of the very nature of God, doesn’t it? Thankfully, most theologians through the centuries have denied this teaching.

Leaving a matter that scripture is silent on to the judgement of God, what were we thinking? Thank goodness that there are brave theologians like Caner around to correct God's omissions. I'd like to see how he solves this knotty dilemma short of the pelagian heresy of denying all have sinned in Adam. I don't have this problem of course, for I believe God can really accomplish his goals in the salvation of man (or infant). I'm afraid I see little if anything hopeful in Caners post.

bristopoly said...

Volfan,
has Christ made us to be irrational? Does the Spirit of God lead us to chaotic thoughts instead of ordered ones? Answer me this then:

Does God alone cause a man's belief in Him (Calvinism/Monergism) or does man cooperate with God in order to believe (Arminian/synergism)?

You can't say neither or both. That is a flat out contradiction, not a paradox (please note the difference between the two). They are not seemingly contradictory. They are contradictory. Either God alone causes belief or God and man together cause it? Which one?

And please don't say, "I'm a Baptist" or a "Biblicist." That's the equivalent of saying I'm not purple or blue. I'm a triangle.

Deb Jones said...

Well Volfan, your comments don't blow my mind, but the use of that many y'alls in one comment sure does. My head is still spinning. Are you an LU student by chance? Just wondering, because I'm positive about 85% of Caner's fan club resides there.

Anyways, does anyone else find it disturbing that Caner likened the disagreement over Calvinism to disagreement over the color of a carpet or the placement of a fountain? As if it is that trivial?

I was also disturbed by the way he implied that Calvinism is just a phase that will pass, when it has been around since the beginning of the church (although not under the same name).

Just making some observations...:)

YnottonY said...

Charles said:
"These "Founders" types are more Calvinistic than Calvin and nothing like C. H. Spurgeon. Keep that in mind."

Charles,
You even reject the Calvinism of Spurgeon as it touches irresistable grace, so why are you associating yourself with him? Even Spurgeon was higher than Calvin. Actually, the "Founders types" have ALOT in common with Spurgeon. How then can you be so careless as to say they have "nothing" (clearly an irresponsible word of exaggeration) in common with Spurgeon?

There is alot more continuity between the "Founders types" and the thought of Calvin and Spurgeon than you have with either of these men. I wonder if you even share the soteriological views of Bob Ross. Who knows. Just because you paste Ross' material, it doesn't follow that you even agree with him, except in his criticisms of others. If Bob Ross agrees with Spurgeon's Calvinism, then he himself is higher than Calvin, so what are you complaining about?

eric said...

ssoydQuestion on the issue of the Salvation of Babies or election of Babies.
Am I correct that The Freewill position (loosely stated) is that God doesn’t force someone to have saving faith? Our favorite Bible Answer Man loves to say something to the effect that “love isn’t love if it’s forced”.
I suppose the general Baptist position is that all babies go to heaven.
1. If freewiller’s say all babies go to heaven and those babies can’t really understand “saving faith”
2. And only those who have saving faith go to heaven.
3. Does this mean that God “forces” a baby to have saving faith? (from the mindset of a freewiller)
4. Is it consistent to scream that god will not “force” an adult to have saving faith but will
“force” a baby?
Statistically, very few persons have been redeemed up to this point in time. So isn’t it fair to say – statistically - that many of those babies would have chosen to be lost if allowed to live? If souls have “freewill” and God doesn’t force saving faith, does this mean that Babies have the opportunity to reject Salvation after death?

Troy Hurdle said...

Volfan007,

I have read your comments on a couple of comment threads, and it seems you have a real distaste for Dr. Tom Nettles. I too attended Mid-America Seminary and had Dr. Nettles for the History of Christianity. It was a fantastic class, no doubt the best class of my whole seminary experience, but I don't recall him making it a platform for advancing Calvinism. In fact, I was disappointed in that respect because it was at Mid-America that I was first exposed to Calvinism through other students and I wanted Dr. Nettles to discuss it in class.

I am ashamed to say that I never spoke to Dr. Nettles one on one because it appeared to me that Calvinists were held at arm's length by the administration, and I didn't want to be labeled by the association. Like I said above, it was at seminary that I was first exposed to Calvinism, and even though it answered some of the struggles I was having in my heart, I didn't quite trust myself to be objective, so I decided to listen to both sides, study the Scriptures, and observe the behavior of the Calvinists as well as the self-described biblicists.

jdlongmire said...

by the way - "neo-Calvinism" is a fairly well defined systematic - wonder if this is Dr. Caner's reference or if he is making up the definition on the fly?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-Calvinism

volfan007 said...

for anyone to say that dr. nettles is not a hyper...whoops...five pointer on a mission to convert the world to calvinism is an incredible statement. i had him for the history of christianity, and that's all he talked about. everyday.

also, 99% of the five pointers i have met, and i have met a lot of them, are very, shall we say, arrogant and militant about the five points. they seem to be more intent on winning christians to calvinism than in winning souls to the Lord.

deb, i am from tennessee. yall is the way we talk down here. sorry if that offends you.

i leave you all with the statement of the Lord Jesus in matthew 23:37...how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and YOU would not.

you, the people, not the Lord. the Lord wanted to gather them under His wings, but they would not.

God desires that all men be saved according to I timothy 2. and the context is all men there...not just the elect.

and, there are many other verses that show that God desires to save all men and takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He earnestly desires to save all men.

and, if they get saved, its only because God chose to save them...God called them...God did the saving work...all men must do is surrender in faith. and, God will even give them the power to repent and the faith to beleive the moment they are willing to surrender.

if i am saved, then its only by the grace of God....if i am lost, its only because i rejected the light and the calling of God.

halelujah, the Lord Jesus saved me.

God bless yall.

centuri0n said...

Would it be wrong to send Dr. Caner an e-mail asking him to read and accept the historic definition of Hyper Calvinism?

ErgunIsMyHero said...

Dr. Ascol,

Usually I am the troublemaker. However, I do want to thank you for this posting.

This was the first time I felt like Calvinism was explained in a very intellegent fashion - thank you ynottony - without all the debating, questions for answers, book writing and product advertising.

And, this is the last time I miss a blog! Now my cheek hurts from all the sunflower seeds I have been eating since 8!

I do want to raise some questions and comment as well.

But I wanted to get this "Thank You" out first so that it is not muddied up in the rerst of the conversations.

-EIMH

ErgunIsMyHero said...

First, let me get the nastiness out of the way.

Deb Jones - After reading your blog and facebook groups - As an Alum of Liberty University I think you need a lesson in civility and respect. You are in NO position to question a man like Dr. Caner. Just as probably most of us are in NO postition to debate Drs. White and Ascol.

ErgunIsMyHero said...

Dr. Ascol - serious question. I am having trouble balancing your and tony's comments with "Irresistible Grace" and "Total Depravity":

Tom said:

We believe in the absolute responsibility of unbelievers to trust Christ and be saved.

Ynottony said:
All believe that man is responsible. I don’t think that there are even heretics who would deny that.

If the Spirit's call in Irresistible, and man has NO power to choose because of the nature of sin, how then can man truly choose to trust Christ and be saved? which I am sure we get into the question election and God doing something miraculous for man to be able to choose...? Its very confusing. This is not a punch...I am trying to understand. If anything, I have learned that there is much more merit in trying to understand the other side, than to debate it.

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

The Westminster Confession of Faith

Chapter IX

Of Free Will

I. God has endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that is neither forced, nor, by any absolute necessity of nature, determined good, or evil.[1]

II. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom, and power to will and to do that which was good and well pleasing to God;[2] but yet, mutably, so that he might fall from it.[3]

III. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, has wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation:[4] so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good,[5] and dead in sin,[6] is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.[7]

IV. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, He frees him from his natural bondage under sin;[8] and, by His grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good;[9] yet so, as that by reason of his remaining corruption, he does not perfectly, or only, will that which is good, but does also will that which is evil.[10]

V. The will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to do good alone in the state of glory only.[11]

To examine the prooftexts http://www.reformed.org/documents/wcf_with_proofs/ch_IX.html

Jeff Fuller said...

"Also for the sake of fairness, I must add that one cannot solely blame our Reformed brothers, either. Baptists are notorious for "fighting and fussing" over such issues as the color of the carpet and the location of the water fountains."

Wow! I never realized that discussing the Doctrines of Grace compares to fighting over the color of the carpet and the location of the water fountain. It is truly sad when the fight for Biblical doctrines and against heresy becomes such a secondary non-issue!

YnottonY said...

E-Hero asks:
“If the Spirit's call in Irresistible, and man has NO power to choose because of the nature of sin, how then can man truly choose to trust Christ and be saved? which I am sure we get into the question election and God doing something miraculous for man to be able to choose...? Its very confusing. This is not a punch...I am trying to understand. If anything, I have learned that there is much more merit in trying to understand the other side, than to debate it.”

Me:
What can get confusing is the terminology. It’s necessary to unpack the sense of irresistable and choice or ability. Let me start with the idea of Total Moral Inability. The fall has not completely wiped out the image of God in man. Mankind, even after the fall, is a creature of option (just as Leonard Verduin points out in his excellent book Somewhat Less Than God – Ergun would like this book). The problem with unbelieving sinners is that they lack moral ability, not natural or constutional ability. The problem is their WON’T power, and not with their will power, so to speak. Sin has corrupted their affections so that they are BY NATURE children of wrath. They crave sin and not holiness. Rather than desiring to come to God to be clothed in righteousness, they flee from him and make coverings out of fig leaves. They are voluntary slaves of unrighteousness and their master is the prince of the power of the air. In order to be made free to desire the things of God, their hearts/affections must change. This is something God must do in order for them to perceive the beauty of Jesus Christ. One can only be attracted to Christ when one’s moral affections have been changed. Without this work of the Holy Spirit changing the heart, the corrupt affections drive the will to unrighteousness.

Also, without the restraining power of the Spirit working in common grace, men would run to the depths of depravity and civilization would not be possible. All men are receiving this common grace, but only some receive special grace. By “special grace,” I mean Irresistable Grace. This latter term can be misleading because it sounds like violence is done to the will of man. That’s not the case at all. A good analogy would be a strong love of a man for a particular woman. When his affections are toward her, his eyes bulge and he is captivated by her beauty. He wants to be around her. He longs to embrace her. She is, as it were, IRRESISTABLE to him. So, when God works in special grace to change the affections or heart of a dead sinner, they now long after Christ like a deer pants for the water brooks. They inevitably choose to come to him since the new affections influence the will. The beauty and significance of Christ is now discernable, and the perceived contrast of one’s own unrighteousness to his perfections makes one come to him in faith to receive righteousness.

All sinful men are response-able in the sense that they are equipped with wills, i.e. they have constitutional ability. But, being dead in trespasses and sins, their corrupt affections and shame cause them to flee from Christ in self-reliance. They lack moral ability to come to him since they are slaves of sin. So, man is responsible and yet they lack moral ability. Sin is crippling their capacity to desire Christ, but the Spirit can change their heart and give them leg power to flee to Christ. The Spirit grants all common grace, but only some receive this special grace to come to Christ. We maintain that those who receive this special enabling grace (moral ability) are the elect alone to the glory of God’s eternal purpose in Christ Jesus.

It’s not the case that men have “NO power to choose.” They have wills that are constantly making choices, but the will is not neutral. It is not as if the fallen will is in equal balance between the good and evil. The power of sin in the heart tips the scale so that the will chooses evil. God alone can free a man from this bondage, but he is under no necessity to do so. If God chooses to free a man, it’s totally his gracious prerogative. Some men receive justice, others receive mercy. No one receives injustice.

I hope that helps.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Tony

Tom said...

Ergun is my hero:

Thanks for your encouraging words. Like you, I much prefer to discuss the things of God without acrimony. Brothers should be able to disagree without writing each other out of the kingdom and we must avoid justifying sinful speech and attitudes in the name of defending truth.

Your question is a very serious one and gets to the heart of an important difference between Reformed and non-Reformed understandings of how the Gospel works in salvation. You ask:

"If the Spirit's call in Irresistible, and man has NO power to choose because of the nature of sin, how then can man truly choose to trust Christ and be saved?" Your question arises in light of my and Tony's affirmations that all men are responsible.

This was at the heart of the big debate between Luther and Erasmus in the 16th century. In his response to Erasmus' book on the Freedom of the Will, Luther said, in his Bondage of the Will, that Erasmus had addressed the real heart of the matter in the debate with Roman Catholicism. This issue of man's will is the hinge on which all else turns, Luther said.

I have written a little article showing the difference between hyper-Calvinism, Calvinism and Arminianism at just this point. You can read it here. There are 2 points that I want to make in response to your question.

First, as the linked article notes, I understand the Bible to teach that God is absolutely sovereign and man is absolutely responsible in salvation. In other words, fallen man's ability is not co-extensive to his responsibility. Sometimes we hear things like this: "God will never ask you to do what you cannot do." But that statement, without qualification is not true. Jesus calls us to be perfect, to sin no more. What God calls us to do is impossible...apart from His grace. As sinners, we are thrown back on the grace of God at every step.

Sometimes it is argued that this position is irrational--for God to hold us responsible for that which we have no ability to do. Yet, our lost spiritual ability is our own fault (in Adam's fall we sinned all--Romans 5:12, 19, and note carefully the grammar of those 2 verses). Our sinfulness does not lessen God's requirements of us. Instead, we find ourselves completely thrown back on His grace and mercy and power because we cannot do what we must do.

Second, I believe that man is responsible to choose salvation but, because of his fallen nature, is *morally* or *spiritually* unable to do so. Verses like Romans 8:7,8 and John 6:44 and Eph. 2:1-3 lead me to this conclusion. I have been helped by remembering that "can" is a word of ability, even though we often use it interchangeably with "may" as a word of permission. When Scripture uses "can" or "cannot" it is speaking in terms of ability.

Historically, this has been understood by distinguishing between moral/spiritual ability and physical ability. It is obvious that human beings have the power of choice and, that human beings can choose salvation--because it happens everytime someone is converted. No one gets saved without repenting and believing and these are, in part, acts of the will. God does not repent and believe for us. However, because of sin, our wills are enslaved rendering us spiritually/morally unable to repent and believe. Passages like Matthew 23:37 lead us to this conclusion. Jesus would have gathered them but they "were not willing." Also, John 5:40 locates the problem in their wills: "You are not willing to come to Me that you may have life."

Some do come to Jesus--showing that it is not a *human* or physical (sometimes called "natural") inability, but, by nature no one comes to Him (Romans 3:11) or *can* come to Him (see verses above). The inability is located in the moral/spiritual condition of our wills which are limited by our natures which are completely sinful before conversion.

At this point, our Lord's teaching from John 3:1-8 is very instructive. Jesus shows the utterly impossible situation that Nicodemus (and everyone else!) is in when He says that we must be born again in order to see and enter the kingdom. "Unless one is born again he cannot [inability] see the kingdom of God" (3). In verse 5 He says a person cannot "enter" the kingdom without being born of the Spirit. Our Lord is saying that something radical must happen in order to enable a person (so that he "can") to see and enter the kingdom, to be saved. That radical work is analagous to being born and it is the work of the Spirit.

This is how it all works out. The Spirit uses the Gospel message to give life when He owns that message with saving power. He quickens a sinner, gives new birth to the sinner through the ministry of the Word, at which point the sinner is for the first time in his life immediately enabled to see and enter the kingdom; or to repent and believe the Gospel. It is in this way that the Spirit creates faith, or that God gives repentance (Acts 11:18; 2 Timothy 2:25) and faith (Eph. 2:8-9; Philip. 1:29).

This is what so-called irresistible grace (I prefer "effectual calling") entails. It is not that a person is saved against his will, but rather that his will is changed by the powerful work of the Spirit, owning the Word to that end. And when the Spirit opens a person's eyes to see the beauty, glory and loveliness that is in Jesus Christ, that person cannot help but run to Christ and bow in repentance and faith.

Every person is responsible to trust Christ in this way, but no one is spiritually or morally able to, because of the enslaving power of sin. This perspective shows us the greatness of our need and the greatness of God's grace and power. It helps us make sense of those passages that teach that salvation is all of grace and those passages that teach that everyone is responsible to repent and believe.

EIMH, thanks for your comments and question. I have taken you seriously and tried to give you a serious answer. This is without a doubt the longest comment I have ever made on a blog. In fact, I fear someone might now confuse me with Gene! :-)

If you would like to discuss this further privately, email me. I would be happy to do so.

ErgunIsMyHero said...

JD - so in that respect, does God convert BEFORE you can be responsible to willingly accept Him?

eklektos said...

Let me make an observation, as the matter of credentials has been broached. I greatly appreciate the counsel and wisdom of learned men, for they are a gift from God. Having said that however I will never bow to credentials, nor would I imagine that most educated men would expect me to. Contrary to the assertion of ergunismyhero I am in a position to evaluate the comments of Dr Caner, Dr. Ascol, or any other holding a PHD. If simply having a degree were all it takes then we should all follow Dominic Crossan and join the Jesus seminar. Luther said words to the effect that "The lowliest laymen armed with scripture is mightier than the greatest pope without it”. That statement would apply to PHD’s as well. One of the driving forces behind the reformation was a return to the authority of scripture. Holding a degree doesn't make one learned, Godly, or correct. To claim that we cannot criticize someone’s arguments because the have a phd is an abuse of authority and hence a logical fallacy. I'm sure that Dr. Ascol has far more technical knowledge than I do, but when he writes he does so in most instances in way in which I can evaluate his statements. My experience is that those who lade their arguments with technical and pedantic rhetoric usually do so to hide the fact that what they're saying is wrong, or worse. So I must humbly disagree, I am in a position to evaluate Dr. Caners arguments, for I follow the example of the Bereans.

YnottonY said...

Volfan said:
"also, 99% of the five pointers i have met, and i have met a lot of them, are very, shall we say, arrogant and militant about the five points. they seem to be more intent on winning christians to calvinism than in winning souls to the Lord."

Me:
I don’t doubt that there are people like that out there, but it by no means falsifies Calvinism anymore than the jerkish qualities of some free-willers falsifies that position. Study the issues carefully and calmly, and be careful of committing ad hominems (so and so is a jerk, therefore their position is false).

Volfan said:
"i leave you all with the statement of the Lord Jesus in matthew 23:37...how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and YOU would not.

you, the people, not the Lord. the Lord wanted to gather them under His wings, but they would not."


Me:
Personally, I have no problem with seeing the Lord Jesus Christ, as expressing the divine nature, longing to gather people who were not gathered. Some Calvinists make a valid distinction between the leaders and the children in the context, but that does not negate the fact that Jesus longed to gather some who were not gathered. The “children” are the Israelites in general, and not just the eternally elect Israelites.

John Murray and other free offer Calvinists take the interpretation I take, and associate this passage with the revealed will of God, rather than trying to force a decretal sense on the passage. According to the revealed or preceptive will of God, Calvinists can say the common grace of God is resistable. God is good to all in order that all repent:

NKJ Romans 2:4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

However, this Matthew 23:37 passage cannot be used to negate God’s special/decretal will. There is an efficacious will of God as well. If one denies it, then passages such as Romans 9:19 makes no sense.

NKJ Romans 9:19 You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?"

So, once again Volfan, you are not saying anything different than what some Calvinsts say when you cite Matthew 23:37. It’s not a defeater for Calvinism. We can account for it by making valid biblical distinctions in God’s will.

Volfan said:
"God desires that all men be saved according to I timothy 2. and the context is all men there...not just the elect."

Me:
I would agree with you Volfan. I dealt with the 1 Tim 2 passage HERE. Again, I would put this passage to the revealed will of God. Since Paul is talking about God’s precept that we pray for all etc., I think a revealed will reading makes the most sense. Tom Ascol may disagree with my interpretation of this passage, but even he can agree with the theological idea that “God desires that all men be saved.” We have no problem with that concept. But, again, we do not use that concept to negate God’s efficacious/decretal will like you may. Beware of half-truths used to negate the whole truth. We must account for the totality of the biblical teaching, and that includes the doctrines concerning God’s secret will.

Volfan said:
"and, there are many other verses that show that God desires to save all men and takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He earnestly desires to save all men."

Me:
We do not deny this. Now, I grant that many Calvinists have a problem with passages that you would appeal to in order to prove this point, but I wouldn’t. Try reading Calvin on 2 Peter 3:9. I think you would like it. He puts the passage to God’s revealed will and says that God desires to save all mankind. Such ideas are not antithetical to Calvinism.

ErgunIsMyHero said...

eklektos said...

Let me make an observation, as the matter of credentials has been broached. I greatly appreciate the counsel and wisdom of learned men, for they are a gift from God. Having said that however I will never bow to credentials, nor would I imagine that most educated men would expect me to. Contrary to the assertion of ergunismyhero I am in a position to evaluate the comments of Dr Caner, Dr. Ascol, or any other holding a PHD. If simply having a degree were all it takes then we should all follow Dominic Crossan and join the Jesus seminar. Luther said words to the effect that "The lowliest laymen armed with scripture is mightier than the greatest pope without it”. That statement would apply to PHD’s as well. One of the driving forces behind the reformation was a return to the authority of scripture. Holding a degree doesn't make one learned, Godly, or correct. To claim that we cannot criticize someone’s arguments because the have a phd is an abuse of authority and hence a logical fallacy. I'm sure that Dr. Ascol has far more technical knowledge than I do, but when he writes he does so in most instances in way in which I can evaluate his statements. My experience is that those who lade their arguments with technical and pedantic rhetoric usually do so to hide the fact that what they're saying is wrong, or worse. So I must humbly disagree, I am in a position to evaluate Dr. Caners arguments, for I follow the example of the Bereans.


Dearest Eklektos - one of the members of the Xmen

ok...I'm a little confused. Didn't we argue over church committees outing Calvinistic pastors and how wrong it was because they were Shepherds in another post? A God ordained position? Is that any different. Don't you see the similarities. Is it only because you dislike Dr. Caner that you make such strong statements?

Another thing IN LOVE :)...I just posted on Deb Jones' blog - Pastors, BE CAReFUL whose blogs you post on. If my wife knew I was posting on a college girl's blog - whether innocent or not - she would have a problem. BE CAREFUL PLEASE! You may think that I don't give a rip about you...but that is untrue.

Dr. Ascol & Ynottony - I have been reading some today. I am formulating an argument. I most likely will post it tomorrow on my own site as I am trying to get my wording right and I'll post it to you tomorrow. Thanks for your insight...we DO agree on many things...except the work of the Holy Spirit. BUt I CAN see where you draw your conclusions. Again, thank you for answering in love and with scripture.

jdlongmire said...

ErgunIsMyHero said...
JD - so in that respect, does God convert BEFORE you can be responsible to willingly accept Him?
.........................

Well, to start:

In the Reformed camp, the ordo salutis is 1) election, 2) predestination, 3) gospel call 4) inward call 5) regeneration, 6) conversion (faith & repentance), 7) justification,
8) sanctification, and 9) glorification. (Rom 8:29-30)

http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/topic/ordosalutis.html


.........................

So - to answer your somewhat leading question - We are ALL EQUALLY responsible to willingy accept God's Lordship from birth, but because of imputed original sin - through the first Adam - we are ALL EQUALLY UNABLE to respond of our own inborn fallen will - (google Spurgeon Arminian Prayer) - so unless we are spiritually Regenerated (born again) first, then we will NEVER willingly accept Him as Lord of Lords.

-JD

eklektos said...

Ergunismyhero,

What strong statement? That you were misusing an appeal to authority? I pretty much included all phd's in my comment. Dr Caner is out on par with all others, and then only in the abstract.Could it be that your pathological need to defend Ergun Caner has blinded you to what I actually wrote? Further, do you assert ordination makes one immune from scrutiny? Then why aren't you following the Pope? Another misuse of an authority argument. And why the snide xmen comment? (which btw has nothing to do with my nick) Do you think you're argument is stronger because of it? I notice you hide behind personal polemic and ignore the actual messy business of dealing with arguments. Why don't you try dealing with the issue instead of trying to be clever?

LivingDust said...

The tone of this "discussion" reinforces my thoughts about the source of the major problems we have within the SBC. I took time to read the vitrolic exchange between the seminarisees and Dr. Caner. That was quite a flow of venom for Christians. Some here have the outright gall to justify their words and tone because this "discussion" is about important spiritual issues like election, grace, salvation and the sovereignty of God.

If what I have read here is representative of a cross section of SBC Pastors, we are in deep, deep trouble.

Lord, I know you wanted us to "be made perfect in one" but our 1 Timothy 3 overseers are too busy slicing each other up over doctrinal issues.

eklektos said...

Livingdust,

I can only go by the implications of what you wrote, particularly the use of the term "seminarisees" while describing one side, and the use of the title "Dr. Caner" of the other, to infer where you are coming from. And if that inference is correct you must be reading the exchanges in a way not supported by what was written. This of course is the real problem in the SBC. That and the fact that we have in place a view that is man centered. You might try also avoid using mock appeals to the Lord as a rhetorical device.

LivingDust said...

eklektos,

To clarify, Dr. Caner showed himself to be one of the "chiefs among seminarisees."

Can you see how far away we are from the will of our Lord as it pertains to unity?

One day there will be an accounting for this ugly behavior amongst those who call themselves Pastors. This "calvinist vs. non-calvanist" debate is only the tip of the iceberg.

Cap Pooser said...

I would like to get a definition of a biblicist. How does one differ from a Calvinist , Arminian, and semi-Pelagian? All the ones I have talked to seem to end up looking like a semi-Pelagian.

I would suggest too that the problems we have in our discussions stem from our lack of preciseness in definition. Most speak of salvation when they mean regeneration. For instance he chose us to salvation, Jesus came to save his people from their sin, he saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy ghost, godly sorrow works repentance unto salvation, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, being justified by his blood we shall be saved from wrath, from the beginning he chose you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit, we are kept through the power of God unto salvation. We have a great salvation. The problem comes when we say believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be born again, or repent and you will be born again. The real dividing point in the theologies is over the question : does repentance and faith produce the new birth or does the new birth produce repentance and faith? The BFM states that repentance and faith are responses to the new birth. If SB do not believe that, they should stop putting forth the BFM as a statement of faith . Also the third article of the remonstrance confesses that the new birth precedes saving faith.

I hope this will be helpful in our discussions. BTW, I sent Dr. Caner a copy of Pink’s Sovereignty of God, a copy of the Biblical and Historical Faith of Baptists on God’s sovereignty, and my little reply to Dr. Wiley Richards, Why I am Still a Calvinist. I can’t make him read them, but I do what I can do and pray the Lord will do what He must do. All these are available without charge from my Berean House ministry.
Cap Pooser

eklektos said...

Livingdust,

Thanks for the clarification. I desire unity, but I see little chance of it. I'm afraid what I see is that any tactics will be employed to maintain a doctrinal position and behavior that is unbiblical. This extreme reaction seems to be motivated by fear, for they seem to recognize the weakness of their position and tend to compensate by methods that are unsavory. I agree however that it is a sad sight to see.

YnottonY said...

Cap requests:
"I would like to get a definition of a biblicist."

A biblicist seems to be either:

1) A person who wants to avoid labels, or being associated with certain men in history because of the bad conceptual baggage that tends to come along with that. They may fear being misunderstood with the use of any other label.

2) One who may delight in theological ambiguity and evasiveness in debates while professing to believe the bible. Being a "biblicist" is a kind of cloak.

3) One who is honestly trying to follow scriptural teaching in all things.

I suppose these are the alternatives, although #1 and #3 may not be mutually exclusive.

As a historic Calvinist in my soteriological views, I would hope that Caner would read Calvin himself (Ad Fontes!) rather than Pink. Pink's book The Sovereignty of God is quite distorted. He was too influenced by Gill (who was a hyper-Calvinist that rejected offers and duty-faith) when writing that book, so it's bordering on hyperism. You can even see Pink associating our duty with God's decretal will, rather than God's preceptive will in that book. It's not good.

YnottonY said...

I just saw this on White's blog:
"I note parenthetically that I have been informed Dr. Caner teaches his classes that Spurgeon was an Amyraldian, a "four-pointer."

I thought I saw a signature by Caner where he said he was a "fan of Amyraut," or something to that effect (on this blog?). Not only does he not understand historic Calvinism or Spurgeon's views, he doesn't even understand Amyraut. Spurgeon was DEFINITELY not Amyraldian. Spurgeon was basically Owenic (he uses some of Owen's theological arguments, but may differ in his exegesis) in his views on the death of Christ, as any honest student can see. Also, Amyraut was staunchly Calvnistic. The point in his theology where that is disputed is in his atonement views. In the other areas, it’s not questioned so much, except in his faculty psychology touching the mind's relationship to the will etc. Even Roger Nicole admits his staunch Calvinism in his thesis (if you want the page number, I can provide it here). So, if Amyraut were around today, he himself would be refuting some of Caner’s views, albeit in a more moderate way.

However, not only does Caner not understand Amyraut, neither does James White. After saying "Amyraldian," he says "four-pointer." It's obvious that White is totally relying on unreliable secondary sources that perpetuate a mythological Amyraut. White needs to read Amyraut's Brief Treatise on Predestination (it's the only work of his translated into english that I know of, and Dr. Curt Daniel sells it), Brian Armstrong's doctoral thesis on Amyraut from Princeton, and Roger Nicole's doctoral thesis from Harvard. It's clear that he has not read these works, and yet he can't help but speak as dogmatically as Ergun Caner about it.

Amyraut was a dualist on the atonement, and not an unqualified universalist on the point. If one reads John Quick's Synodicon in Gallia Reformata: or, The Acts, Decisions, Decrees and Canons of the Seven Last National Councils of the Reformed Churches in France (1692), they will see this:

"They (the Amyraldians) declared That Jesus Christ died for all Men sufficiently, but for the Elect only effectually: and that consequently his Intention was to die for all men in respect of the Sufficiency of his Satisfaction, but for the Elect only in respect of it's quickning and saving virtue and efficacy; which is to say, that Christ's will was that the sacrifice of his cross shold be of infinite price and value, and most abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world (Tony: unlimited expiation); yet nevertheless the efficacy of his death appertains only unto the elect (Tony: limited special intent and application); so that those who are called by the preaching of the gospel, to participate by faith in the effects and fruits his death, being invited seriously, and God vouchsafing them all eternal means needful for their coming to him, and showing them in good earnest, and with the greatest sincerity by his Word, what would be well-pleasing to him, if they should not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, but perish in their obstinacy and unbelief; this cometh not from any defect of virtue or sufficiency in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, nor yet for want of summons or serious invitations unto faith or repentance, but only from their own fault. And as for those who who do not receive the doctrine of the gospel with the obedience of faith, they are according to the irrevocable promise of God, made partakers of the effectual virtue and fruit of Christ Jesus's death; for this was the most free counsel and gracious purpose both of God the Father, in giving his Son for the salvation of mankind, and of the Lord Jesus Christ, in suffering the pains of death, that the efficacy thereof should particularly belong unto all the elect, and to them only, to give them justifying faith, and by it to bring them infallibly unto salvation, and thus effectually to redeem all those and none other, who were from all eternity from among all people, nations, tongues, chosen unto salvation."

Quoted in Roger Nicole, Moyse Amyraut (1596-1664) and The Controversy on Universal Grace: First Phase (1634-1637), page 110.

Most Reformed men today present Amyraut as if he was an unqualified Arminian on his atonement views (even Nicole tends to do this throughout the majority of his thesis, unlike Armstrong), and White is irresponsibly perpetuating that myth. It’s the Owenists who want to say that those who differ from their STRICT particularism are not Synodists (following Dort), or that they are un-Calvinistic. Not all Calvinists or Reformed men have agreed on the details of the point, but the Owenic propaganda persists to this day. Amyraut, like many others, saw no limitation in the satisfaction itself, but put the limit in the special decree and application. Furthermore, he said the unlimited sufficiency of Christ’s satisfaction was INTENDED for all (ordained sufficiency), but not to the negation of the special decree/intent concerning the elect. Thus, he was dualistic on the point. He was not a “four pointer,” unless you falsely think that Owenism is the only true traditional/Reformed perspective on “limited atonement.”

White and Caner BOTH have homework to do, but neither seem to be able to restrain from dogmatism in the areas in which they are unstudied, unfortunately. Of course, this is much more true of Caner than with White.

jdlongmire said...

ynottony,

I think Amyraldism has become a "term of art" for 4 pointers or "leaky Calvinists" (as my pastor puts it) much as "hyper-calvinism" has.


Thanks for the post, though - more reference on Wikipedia (caveat emptor, of course)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amyraldism

BTW - even though you qualified your post, it still came across as - "compared to me, both of these guys are ignorant."

Did'nt know if that were your intent, but...

-pax-

-JD

Kennith said...

The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. Proverbs 16:4

Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. John 10:25-26

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27

You will say to me then, "Why does HE still find fault? For who can resist HIS will?" But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this? Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show HIS power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of HIS glory for vessels of mercy, which HE has prepared beforehand for glory- Romans 9:19-23

First off, I guess call me hyper or whatever for believing that these Scriptures mean exactly what they say.

I understand the reality of a lot of 5 pointers being militant about the Doctrines of Grace. I was once one, but the Holy Spirit has tempered me. But one of the reaons that I was so militant was the fact that others were constantly ridiculing me. I tried and still have fellowship with other brothers of a different mindset, BUT they never miss the opportunity to harrass me. And the fact remains that we are NEVER given a fair chance to defend our beliefs, we are shouted down and called heretics and that we are not true Southern Baptists. I know this to be true from very personal and hurtful experience.

I was once asked to fill the pulpit for a brother of mine. I gladly accepted, but he was amazed that the message was so evanglistic. I STILL BELIEVE IN ROMANS 10:17 "So Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the WORD OF CHRIST."

Many of my 5 point brothers are MORE evangelistic than those in the other camp, because we do believe in the power of the Word. We don't know who are the elect, but we leave that up to Almighty God. But we are called and commanded to present the Gospel to ALL! His WORD will not return void.

I resent being lumped in with a supposed 99%, when 80% of the other camp around here are only concerned about getting numbers of baptisms. Is there evangelization for love of the sinner? My evangelization stems from my love of my GOD who has called me, I love because HE first loved me. I desire simply to worship in obedience, not for the sake of numbers.

David B. Hewitt said...

ynottony, you said:
Thus, he was dualistic on the point. He was not a “four pointer,” unless you falsely think that Owenism is the only true traditional/Reformed perspective on “limited atonement.”

Nah, not the only one, just the biblical one. ;-D (grin)

Thank you brother for the excellent explanation. I certainly learned some useful history!

SDG,
David Hewitt

Jon Unyan said...

Dr. Ascol,

I would be interested in Dr. White's response to the substance of Tony Byrne's (ynottony)argumentation posted above. In case he doesn't read this comment thread, could you request a response from him? That would be much appreciated. Thank you! I really enjoyed your gracious post........

--Jon Unyan

YnottonY said...

Someone just brought a typo to my attenion. In the quote by Quick, this:

"And as for those who who do not receive the doctrine of the gospel with the obedience of faith, they are..."

should read as:

""And for those who do receive the doctrine of the gospel with the obedience of faith, they are...."

Hi David B H,

Cute ;-)

Troy Hurdle said...

One last comment to Volfan007,

In my previous comment to you, I never said that Dr. Nettles never tried to advance the Doctrines of Grace. I said he did not do it when I took History of Christianity, specifically in the spring of 1987.

I also want to address your comment about five-point Calvinists being arrogant and abrasive. I readily admit that I have met some too. I like to call them head Calvinists because they see the logic of Calvinism, but they apparently haven't felt the force of Calvinism's truth in their hearts.

That being said, the most humble preachers and laymen I've ever met have also been Calvinists. I remember ten years ago I attended a Ligonier Conference in Orlando. The speakers included R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, Allister Begg, and James Montgomery Boice. At that time I had attended three Southern Baptist Conventions, so I expected the atmosphere at the the Ligonier Conference to be similar. Boy, was I wrong. At this conference, the spirit was one of great humility. No self-promotion anywhere. No politics. It was all about God and His glory. And what was really strange to me at the time was when they asked people to identify their denominations by a show of hands. I would say 80% of the 3,000 in attendance identified themselves as Baptist.

James White said...

The following comment was posted here:

White and Caner BOTH have homework to do, but neither seem to be able to restrain from dogmatism in the areas in which they are unstudied, unfortunately. Of course, this is much more true of Caner than with White.

< sigh > For some odd reason, this particular individual is incapable of reviewing my own writings or statements with a scintilla of accuracy or fairness. I was repeating Caner's statement, Caner's viewpoint. I was NOT giving a summary of Amyraldianism and its many forms and permutations, which are clearly way beyond Ergun Caner's reading, but not beyond my own. Why anyone would for a moment assume that a single sentence parenthetical statement reflecting what Liberty students have told me is sufficient ground for this kind of comment I cannot begin to understand; however, given that I have had to correct this particular writer's personal errors regarding my views in the past, I guess it is just a massive case of bias and prejudice, one I do wish he would deal with.

James>>>

Jon Unyan said...

Hi Dr. White,

Thanks for responding per my above request. Tony's position is that Christ died sufficiently for all men, but only efficiently for the elect. He believes what is called "dualistic Calvinism", recognizing a distinction between God's revealed will and his secret will. His position is that Christ died for all men, but especially for the elect (as stated in 1 Tim 4:10). He has said this is a moderate or classical Calvinism, as opposed to high Calvinism that states that Christ only died for the elect. Do you believe that Christ died for the non-elect as well? I think Amyraut articulated such a position. I am wrestling through these issues at the moment and would appreciate your input. Thanks for your ministry, brother...

--Jon Unyan

YnottonY said...

Hi James,

I was just quoting the statement from your blog, which seems ambiguous. One cannot tell if you are stating that Amyraldism is "four point" Calvinism, or if Caner was saying it. It seems to me that most Calvinists seem to summarize Amyraldism as "four point" Modified Calvinism. That's standard practice. In fact, in an article on your own site, this comment is made in a footnote:

"Modified Calvinist, as Long implies, are those who are "four pointers" and inconsistently hold to an Amyraldian view of the atonement."

Also, you describe your previous views this way in the article, Was Anyone Saved at the Cross?:

"There was a time when I called myself a "four-point Calvinist." There are a lot of people who use that term, and, almost all the time, the one point of the five that they reject is the terrible, horrible, "L". Limited atonement."

Now, you don't say that Amyraldism is four-point Calvinism in the above quotes, but most Calvinists know that it's the usual short-hand way of describing Amyraldism. I am sure the readers of this blog realize that.

If you don't think that Amyraldism is "four-point" Calvinism, it seems that you could have said that without making personal comments about me. You could have said, "Tony has misread my blog, but it's understandable given the ambiguity. However, let me correct the record. I was saying that Caner was saying Amyraldism is 'four-point' Calvinism, and not that I believe that." Why were the personal attacks and exaggerated statements ("this particular individual is incapable of reviewing my own writings or statements with a scintilla of accuracy or fairness") necessary?

If you don't think Amyraldism denies the doctrine of "limited atonement," then I am interested in hearing about what you think it is sometime.

Also, in another post on the Founders Blog, I asked if you thought God wants/wills/desires the salvation (in the evangelical sense) of the non-elect. Ascol, in a careful and wise way, answered in the affirmative. You may have missed that question since there are over 300 comments. Would you care to respond here?

Grace to you,
Tony

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

(one more time - need an EDIT option!)

ynottony said...

"However, not only does Caner not understand Amyraut, neither does James White."

"It's clear that he has not read these works, and yet he can't help but speak as dogmatically as Ergun Caner about it."

to which James White responded...

...given that I have had to correct this particular writer's personal errors regarding my views in the past, I guess it is just a massive case of bias and prejudice, one I do wish he would deal with.


To which ynottony took umbrage...

Why were the personal attacks and exaggerated statements ("this particular individual is incapable of reviewing my own writings or statements with a scintilla of accuracy or fairness") necessary?

........................

Obviously there is some history here I am unaware of, but I think if you review your initial statements, I believe you would see the origination of why JW's response is very...direct.

You were very direct in drawing a parallel between Caner and White's understanding - based simply on a parenthetical reference.

You were also very direct in your assertion that Dr. White was "dogmatic" concerning Amyraldism from that one statement. Some additional prooftexting and more particular evidence in JW's writings, etc...would have been helpful to make your case.

It is reasonable to assume he would respond to your assertions very directly, yet when he does you take offense?

Finally, you expect him to apologise for your assertion of ambiguity? While he may extend the courtesy, it is not his responsibility. Particularly when in response to a confrontationalist (is that a word?).

speck, plank, my brother...

-pax-

-JD

YnottonY said...

JD said:
"You were very direct in drawing a parallel between Caner and White's understanding - based simply on a parenthetical reference.

The parallel was this and only this: Caner thinks Amyraldism if “four point” Calvinism and so does White. If White does agree with Caner on saying it is 4 point Calvinism, then the parallel is valid. The question now is, does White really think that, despite the fact that he was quoting what was said about Caner? Frankly, I think White does think Amyraldism is 4 point Calvinsm, just as most Calvinists today think. It’s just common practice to use “Amyraldian” and “four pointer” interchangably as the footnote comment from an AOMin article above plainly indicates.

Since it’s very difficult to acquire and read Nicole’s thesis from Harvard, I think it’s safe to assume that he hasn’t read it. It’s even more difficult to get Amyraut’s Brief Treatise on Predestination in English. Dr. Curt Daniel is the only one I know of who sells it. I think it’s safe to assume that he hasn’t read that either. Brian Armstrong’s book on Amyraldism is still in print, so that is not so hard to get. Still, the vast majority of Calvinists have not taken the time to read it. I think it’s safe to assume that White hasn’t read it. Does that make him a bad person? Of course not.

However, if it’s the case that he thought (or thinks) that Amyraldism is “four point” Calvinism as 99.9999999% of Calvinists today think, then he needs to study the important works above. The vast majority of Calvinists today are VERY DOGMATIC in what they say about Amyraldism, yet few have studied it. Go out and ask any of them. It’s common knowledge. Mostly, they just read unreliable secondary sources on the internet. Those are my points and they are quite valid.

And JD,
I didn't ask White to apologize. I just asked why those sorts of comments were necessary here. It was totally unnecessary. I gave an alternative way he could have replied.

At this point, I am interested in talking about historic Calvinistic ideas. Let's stick to that and avoid character comments and related topics. That's what is profitable.

jdlongmire said...

ynottony said...

"I gave an alternative way he could have replied."

Perhaps I should give an alternate way you could have approached your assertion.

...but I will honor your request:

"At this point, I am interested in talking about historic Calvinistic ideas. Let's stick to that and avoid character comments and related topics. That's what is profitable."

So, as I seek to understand - do you feel this wiki entry accurately represents Amyraldism?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amyraldism


-JD

YnottonY said...

JD asks:
"So, as I seek to understand - do you feel this wiki entry accurately represents Amyraldism?"

In the top and bottom parts, no. It illustrates the exact thing I am talking about. The overall article proves my points above. The Schaff extract in the middle on the historical background is much better.

The descriptive words "hypothetical universalism" and "four point" Calvinism are smear words for the Amyraut system. It's identical to how some Reformed people call some of you Baptists "ANAbaptists." You are not really REbaptizers since you reject the first "infant baptism" as really being a NON-baptism. You can see how "anabaptist" label presupposes the validity of the viewpoint of the Reformed critic, and thus begs the question. The same thing can be said about the labels "hypothetical universalist" and "four point" Calvinist. Amyraut's critics put those labels on him.

I noticed that one of the footnotes in the third section links to Herman Hanko's article on The History of the Free Offer. For those who don't know, he's a rank Protestant Reformed Church Hyper-Calvinist who rejects well-meant offers and common grace. The PRC people are notorious for really poor and severely slanted historical analysis.

YnottonY said...

JD,

I see that you link to the 5solas.org forum on your blog. You do realize that they are also severely hyper-Calvinistic, right? The place is loaded with PRC and Gillite hypers, just as Phil Johnson himself observes.

jdlongmire said...

Thanks for the response, ynottony, helps me understand your views - I assume that you are indeed a true Amyraldian and are working to "desmirch" the classificarion?

ynottony said...

"I see that you link to the 5solas.org forum on your blog. You do realize that they are also severely hyper-Calvinistic, right? The place is loaded with PRC and Gillite hypers, just as Phil Johnson himself observes."

Oh, yeah - I keep the link and visit from time to time - seek to understand - what better way to understand the weaknesses?

You'll note I have also linked to the Internet Infidels...

Maybe I'll add - "these links are not an endorsement of the worldviews contained within the sites"

:D

-pax-

-JD

YnottonY said...

JD said,
"I assume that you are indeed a true Amyraldian and are working to "desmirch" the classificarion?"

I am an Amyraldian in so far as Calvin was. When "Calvinists" today throw out the shibboleth "Amyraldian," they assume that it's not Calvinism. It's mostly smear tactic. If you wonder how to label my soteriology, I am content with being called a Calvinist or a Synodist. My only interest in "desmirching" the Amyraldian classification is to deal with the historical differences accurately, which seems to be a rare thing in Calvinistic circles today, touching this subject at least.

When you assume and/or ask whether I am a "true Amyraldian," what do you mean by that term?

jdlongmire said...

In the sense that you want to give fidelity to the classification and resonate with the doctrinal positions.

-pax-

-JD

jdlongmire said...

"When "Calvinists" today throw out the shibboleth "Amyraldian," they assume that it's not Calvinism."

hmmm...I don't have enough experience with what other "Calvinists" do or how often "Amyraldianism" shows up in dialogue (too durn hard to pronounce! :)), but I just came to an agreement with my pastor that he would be more classified as an Amyraldian and I would probably resonate more with High Calvinism - in that we are both Baptists and Calvinist - he says he is a "leaky" Calvinist...so...

-JD

YnottonY said...

Well, I don't have it all figured out, but I wouldn't call my view "leaky" Calvinism. On the contrary, I would reckon my view to be consistent Calvinism, unlike the popular Owenic version. Since the Owenists like to call Amyraldism "hypothetical universalism," then I will describe the Owenists as holding to a "hypothetical sufficiency."

Here's a funny puzzle for the readers to try to figure out. I agree with R. L. Dabney's "Limited Atonement" and W. G. T. Shedd's "Unlimited Atonement" at the same time :-)

bristopoly said...

ynottony and Volfan,

I wrote a lengthy response to Volfan's comments a few days ago, but it didn't load and I lost it, so here are just a few things to think about:

Volfan you are an Arminian. That's not a curse word. Everything you have stated in the following is the perfect summary of the Arminian position. Arminians believe exactly what you do. Hence, if you are to classify yourself with a theological word that describes your theological position, Arminian would be it. Ynottony answered you a certain way that perhaps even Luther would. Here however is my answer as a different kind of Calvinist. As far as I can see, a more consistent one, but I'm willing to see if he can exegetically and theologically explain his position.

You said: "i leave you all with the statement of the Lord Jesus in matthew 23:37...how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and YOU would not.

you, the people, not the Lord. the Lord wanted to gather them under His wings, but they would not.

1. "you" in the context is Jerusalem, which is usually used for the authorities, not all the people. The fact is in this context, Christ is speaking to the Scribes and Pharisees/religious leaders (that's not a guess. look at the entire context). So the "you" who are unwilling to let the Lord gather their children (not them) up are the religious leaders.
2. Even if He had been speaking about everyone, Calvinism believes that everyone is unwilling to begin with. It is God who makes men willing. The verse says nothing concerning whether Christ accomplished what He wanted to do or not. It only says that the religious leaders (and even if you want: the people) are unwilling, so this verse still would not conflict. However, it is the leaders because their house is left to them desolate (not all Jews since many believe).

God desires that all men be saved according to I timothy 2. and the context is all men there...not just the elect.

and, there are many other verses that show that God desires to save all men and takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He earnestly desires to save all men.

This is where I feel you two did not deal with some exegetically information that is vital to, not only these passages, but many others.
1 Tim 2:4 is giving the reason why even Kings should be prayed for. Many in the 1st Cent felt that secular rulers were just persecutors of Christianity and pagan. Paul tells them that God desires pas "all" men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. The key word here is pas and its use in context. We have multiple words to use when we want to clarify our "alls." We say "all [meaning everyone or everything without exception]," "all [hyperbolically used of a huge amount representative of a larger group of people or things]," "every," "any," "all classes," "all kinds," "all [of you to whom I'm speaking]. Greek has one word: pas. Here in the context, because a class of men is being spoken of, I think pas as "all classes," which is more the use in the Pastorals as well, is more appropriate. It is also consistent with the verses I will give you at the end of my comments here.

The second text, to which I think you are alluding, is 2 Pet 3:9, which is another use of pas, but here speaking of "all [to you/the group to whom I am speaking]. If God is talking about everyone here, then we would have to conclude that the reason why He is waiting is not that the elect must be born and hear the Gospel and be reborn to faith, but He is waiting because TIME itself may somehow produce repentance in dead men. It seems far more probable in the context to be speaking about the Church to whom Peter makes his address. Notice that God is patient toward YOU (not all men) wishing the none perish (who are the none? The YOU toward whom He is patient and waiting).

The 3rd passage, to which I think you are alluding is Ezek 18.
1. I think we have to realize here that equating a punishment of death with hell is a stretch. People are punished in the NT as a form of discipline and not eternal punishment, and since this is talking to God's covenant community, I would be careful there.
2. There is a difference between what God has pleasure in and what He wants/wills to be done. God does not have pleasure in killing someone for evil, but He wants/wills/desires to do it for other reasons than pleasure. So this passage doesn't really have much to do with whether God wills that some perish.

You said: "and, if they get saved, its only because God chose to save them...God called them...God did the saving work...all men MUST DO is SURRENDER in FAITH. and, God will even give them the POWER to repent and the faith to beleive the moment THEY ARE WILLING to surrender."

So you are saved because you were willing? You were saved because something in you chose to cooperate with God's empowering grace? What was it in you that had such a good capacity to do so? This is where Arminian theology implies Semi-Pelagianism. Was it some undefiled good in you? Intelligence? Spiritual insight? What was it that worked with God's grace to surrender in faith?

if i am saved, then its only by the grace of God....if i am lost, its only because i rejected the light and the calling of God.

This is the perfect Arminian position. If all men are hostile toward God and God saves them against their initial will (until He makes them willing), why would anyone reject? God is making them willing, not themselves. If God is doing all of the work, why would He fail? The answer is that He doesn't. He saves everyone He wants to save. He is the one who causes faith, so He can bring about in anyone He wants. He doesn't need cooperation from dead men, who can't cooperate anyway.

"halelujah, the Lord Jesus saved me."

Yes, but why did he save you and not others? Why did you accept and Bobby-Joe down the street reject. What is the difference between you?

Here are my questions and verses for you:

If God wants everyone to be saved, why does He CHOOSE to harden men not based on anything they have done (Rom 9). Why are the Jewish leaders not chosen to be His sheep so that it would fulfill the prophecy said about them in Jn 12:36ff
"37 But though He had performed so many signs before them, [yet] they were not believing in Him. 38 [This was] to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: "Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" 39 For this reason THEY COULD NOT believe, for Isaiah said again, 40 "HE has blinded their eyes and HE hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them."

Why does every Gospel report that He spoke in parables in order to blind the people further because "the mystery of the kingdom has not been granted to them?"

Why does God send a deceptive influence (lit. energeian planes "a supernatural work of deception") SO THAT they will believe what is false? If God wants everyone to be saved, shouldn't he be working against our falsehood and rebellion? We're all rebellious. We all don't believe the truth. Why does He turn some and not others if He equally desires all men to be saved (or even desires the non-elect to be saved at all--at least then you would think He would remain passive)?

Why does Rom 9 say that He makes some vessels for different uses when contrasting those who believe vs. those who do not? The vessels of honor upon which you eat your food and the vessels of common use upon which you "return" your food?

For Ynottony:
Help me understand your position.
If God is truly Sovereign, and therefore in control of all things, how could anyone be lost if God wanted them saved? AND if He wants them saved, why do the verses above indicate that He is working against that?

I'm open to hearing your interpretation. I ask these things as one who is really trying to learn whether your position is consistent both exegetically and theologically/logically. thanks in advance.

Volfan:
I just want to know if you are willing to acknowledge that you are an Arminian via your position? If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, it's not an elephant. There is really no third option as you can see. You have explained the synergistic/Arminian position, and I thank you for answering my question. You believe that man must cooperate with God's grace in order to be saved. One last question though:
If Eph 2:8-9 states that we are saved by grace through faith and that all three of those are THE gift of God, so that no one can boast, how is it that your position cannot lend itself to a little boasting? Afterall, you are saved because of something in you that was not in Bobby-Joe down the street. Even if it's 1% your doing, that 1% got you into heaven, whereas his 1% threw him into hell, did it not?

bristopoly said...

Oh I forgot, John Unyan quoted 1 Tim 4:10 as stating that Christ died for all men but especially the elect. Actually the verse reads as follows:

"For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, malista of believers."

The word malista, if you look at it in all of its contexts, does not mean "especially" as in "not only for this group but even moreso of this one." The word actually means "in other words," or "more specifically speaking about." The verse basically says that God (notice not Christ) is the Savior of all men (notice this is talking about Him being Savior, not just propitiation since that would have Christ as subject), that is to say believers." If I were Greek and said, "The government is on my back, namely the IRS," I would use the word malista. I don't mean the entire government is on my back including and especially so the IRS, and that is not what malista means either. Just to clarify.

YnottonY said...

Bristopoly said:
”YnottonY answered you a certain way that perhaps even Luther would. Here however is my answer as a different kind of Calvinist. As far as I can see, a more consistent one, but I'm willing to see if he can exegetically and theologically explain his position.”

I didn’t answer him as a Lutheran (except in so far as Luther would agree with Calvin), but as a historic Calvinist. Also, I answered him according to his ambiguous words. Since he didn’t specify what he meant, I didn’t impose my own thought structures on them. Whether he is Arminian or not isn’t my concern. I am just going to deal with his bare statements as they are. That seems to be the wisest course of action at this point. He doesn’t need to be beat down and hastily labeled, but rather persuaded by careful theological reasoning. Furthermore, he may be reacting to a caricature of Calvinism rather than to the real thing. If that’s the case, I want to distance myself from the caricature as I present the truth carefully. He may be taking half-truths as the whole truth, so I want to capture those half-truths for the cause of Christ and present the whole truth. I don’t want to dismiss any true propositions he may believe just because I want to stress other true biblical propositions that he may not believe yet. That’s the point.

Now, concerning Matthew 23:37. I have written about this text here: Matthew 23:37 Calvinistically Considered

Bristopoly said:
”1. "you" in the context is Jerusalem, which is usually used for the authorities, not all the people. The fact is in this context, Christ is speaking to the Scribes and Pharisees/religious leaders (that's not a guess. look at the entire context). So the "you" who are unwilling to let the Lord gather their children (not them) up are the religious leaders.”

Volfan appealed to this text because it seems to present an inefficacious will to gather people who were not gathered. Also, it presents God as having sincere passion for all who are lost, even the severely disobedient. Both of these ideas are theologically valid. God does have an inefficacious will, and He has a passion to save those who are lost, no matter who they are. We do not have to dismiss these true propositions in order to prove other true biblical propositions being neglected. We can present God’s efficacious will at the same time that we present his inefficacious will. That’s the way to approach the differences, just as I said above.

Now, in your explanation of the “context,” you seem to want to dismiss any notion of an inefficacious will of God in the text at hand. It’s exegetically valid to see a distinction between the leaders and the general population. The “you” and the “children” do represent distinct groups, and both constitute Israel. However, it’s absurd to suggest that Jesus wanted to gather the children BUT NOT the leaders (not that you have said this). He wanted to gather the children as well as the leaders, and probably by means of the leaders. They were supposed to be the shepherds of God’s people. Rather than working with God to gather the lost children, they were stubborn and stiff-necked, even to the point of blasphemy. For this reason, the context primarily concerns judgment.

Even though we can distinguish between the “you” and the “children,” we cannot assume that God only wanted to gather one group and not the other. The previous verse says:

NKJ Matthew 23:34 "Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city,

Why did God send prophets and wise men to the leaders from generation to generation? To gather them all, but they sinned against God’s goodness and were judged accordingly. Such an idea is not antithetical to Calvinism. It’s just antithetical to those so called “Calvinists” who are busy suppressing the preceptive or revealed will for the sake of the decretal or secret will. It is God’s will that they keep his commandments. Are we to believe that God doesn’t want/will/desire compliance to his commandments? Isn’t it the case that he sent prophets and wise men to warn and teach them to comply? The resulting anger and judgment demonstrates how good God was to them. The same principle is in Romans 2:4-5:

NRS Romans 2:4 Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.

And in Romans 10:21:

NKJ Romans 10:21 But to Israel he says: "All day long I have stretched out My hands To a disobedient and contrary people."

This stretching out of the arms to a disobedient and contrary people is what went on in Jesus' day, particularly at the leadership level. Was God only stretching out his arms to the children but not to the leaders in every generation? I think it's to both, and I think the bible is clear on that. I would also add that God wants to gather the children THROUGH the leaders since he normally works through authority structures scripturally.

Bristopoly said:

”2. Even if He had been speaking about everyone, Calvinism believes that everyone is unwilling to begin with. It is God who makes men willing. The verse says nothing concerning whether Christ accomplished what He wanted to do or not. It only says that the religious leaders (and even if you want: the people) are unwilling, so this verse still would not conflict. However, it is the leaders because their house is left to them desolate (not all Jews since many believe).”

The verse says nothing concerning whether Christ accomplished what he wanted to or not? So it says nothing about whether or not the “children” were gathered? I don’t think the children were gathered, particularly if the “children” are all the Israelites in that day. I think that may be soundly inferred. It would certainly be quite a stretch to assume that the “children” were the elect within Israel, and not the general population under the leadership.

As you say, the people being unwilling is not antithetical to Calvinism, but the idea of God willing what does not come to pass may be antithetical to your “Calvinism.” I would draw your attention to the preceptive will of God. In the context, God is not judging them because they were disobeying his decretal will, but rather his preceptive will. In the revealed will of God, he wills their compliance. They were not compliant, therefore they were judged. This passage doesn’t discuss God’s secret will, wherein he grants moral ability (willingness) to some and not to others, not that you were saying that it does necessarily.

YnottonY said...

Now, concerning 1 Tim. 2:4. I wrote about this passage here: Contextual Cow Patties

Bristopoly said:
”The key word here is pas and its use in context. We have multiple words to use when we want to clarify our "alls." We say "all [meaning everyone or everything without exception]," "all [hyperbolically used of a huge amount representative of a larger group of people or things]," "every," "any," "all classes," "all kinds," "all [of you to whom I'm speaking]. Greek has one word: pas. Here in the context, because a class of men is being spoken of, I think pas as "all classes," which is more the use in the Pastorals as well, is more appropriate. It is also consistent with the verses I will give you at the end of my comments here.”

The key word is pas, for those who want the passage to comport with the decretal will of God. For those who take a revealed will of God reading, Paul’s use of pas is not difficult to figure out. Is Paul talking about all kinds or classes of men? Sure he is. But he’s not talking about all kinds or classes of elect men. He’s just talking about classes of men in general who were alive and ruling over the Christians in that day in particular locations. So, the sense of pas is not “all without exception” in the sense of all human beings who will ever exist, even of those already in hell. That’s a straw man argument. Neither is the passage talking about “all without distinction” in the sense of all elect kinds or classes of men, which is really “some of all (the elect) without distinction.” Both of these options represent a false either/or dilemma. Rather, Paul’s sense is “all without deception,” or all kinds or classes of men existing as rulers over Christians in that day in various locations. In this sense, all without exception is not different from all without distinction. Paul is talking about all kinds men, of various classes, who were existing in that day. One can then draw a valid application for our day and say that God will have all kinds of men over us to be saved as well, no matter who they are, whether elect or non-elect. Since Paul is discussing God’s will that men repent and our need to pray for them, the passage falls in line with God’s revealed will.

YnottonY said...

Now, concerning 2 Peter 3:9. I have written about it here: 2 Peter 3:9 and the Letterhead Argument

Bristopoly said:
”The second text, to which I think you are alluding, is 2 Pet 3:9, which is another use of pas, but here speaking of "all [to you/the group to whom I am speaking]. If God is talking about everyone here, then we would have to conclude that the reason why He is waiting is not that the elect must be born and hear the Gospel and be reborn to faith, but He is waiting because TIME itself may somehow produce repentance in dead men. It seems far more probable in the context to be speaking about the Church to whom Peter makes his address. Notice that God is patient toward YOU (not all men) wishing the none perish (who are the none? The YOU toward whom He is patient and waiting).

Once again, the “all without distinction” vs. “all without exception” issue arises. You appeal to the “context” or the letterhead to understand who the “you” are. Peter says that he is writing to “those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” Are you saying that these believers (what you call “the Church”) were in danger of perishing and needed to repent?

Peter is writing to believers, but he’s writing to them as fellow sinners, albeit justified ones. These believing sinners may wonder why God seems to be delaying His coming. The wicked in the world seem to be doing quite well, and some of them even mock the Christian faith. Peter is saying that we should not be surprised by God’s great patience. Just as he was patient with us who have now come to believe, so he is being patient with other sinners, even as he was in the days of Noah. He is good and patient to all, but he will eventually come in flaming fire and sweep the earth with the broom of destruction.

Just as Calvin says, this passage concerns the revealed will of God. Various letterhead arguments used to do away with the idea that God wills all sinful humanity to repent in this passage do not work. If you click the link above, you can see where I point out some equivocation fallacies.

YnottonY said...

I will address these questions before moving on to others.

Bristopoly said:
”For Ynottony:
Help me understand your position.

1) If God is truly Sovereign, and therefore in control of all things, how could anyone be lost if God wanted them saved?

AND

2) if He wants them saved, why do the verses above indicate that He is working against that?”


Me now:

1) What do you mean by “wanted”? Are you referring to God’s decretal will? Or to his preceptive will? Or do you even see a distinction? If you see a distinction, do you even think of the preceptive will as really being a “will”? God, being sovereign and in control of all things, still wills things that do not in fact come to pass. He wills for us to be thankful in all things, yet we are not. He wills for us to be sexually pure, yet we are not. He wills for us to be honest, yet we are not. When these commands are expressed, there really is in God a desire for compliance. He moves and acts in history to seek our compliance as expressed in the bible. He sends us words of warning and pricks our consciences. The revealed will of God is an “active principle,” just as R. L. Dabney argues. Please read that article, as well as this one by John Frame. They will help you to see the distinctions I am making.

God may will someone’s salvation in the revealed will who do not get saved. However, all those that God has decretally willed to be saved, will be saved.

2) The verses you mention are underlining God’s purpose to harden the disobedient. It doesn’t negate the truth that he wants them to comply with his commandments. If they sin against his well-meant goodness and gospel appeals, then he justly hardens them. It’s not like God is hardening the non-elect without a cause, as in a supralapsarian conception. God has determined to punish the non-elect when considering them as sinful and rebellious. Even if some humans haven’t matured to commit actual acts of sin, they are all still reckoned as being in Adam (i.e. fallen and sinful by nature) when God determines to harden them.

Basically, your questions concern the logical problem of evil. If God really wants what is good, how can he decree evil to come to pass? Is it really the case that he desires creaturely compliance when he decrees their disobedience? We will never be able to completely comprehend how God can both will our obedience and not will our obedience, but in different senses. If you emphasize the revealed will to the exclusion of the secret will, then you will end up in either Arminianism or Open View Theism (with their treatment of the problem of evil). If you emphasize the secret will to the exclusion of the revealed will, then you will end up in hyper-Calvinistic blasphemy (with their treatment of the problem of evil). The goodness and sovereignty of God need to be kept in equal balance. We should not favor one attribute of God over another.

I hope that helps,
Tony

David B. Hewitt said...

Hey, YnottonY! I read over your entry about 2 Peter 3:9. I've written one too, but I wanted to highlight something from what you wrote and comment about it:
1) The “us” refers to all the elect who will ever exist, whether born or not yet born

This would be my position, as Peter may very well be referring to elect people in general. I'll explain more below.

More of your comments:
This is a very abstract way of thinking of the idea of the “elect.” Does Peter have this theological abstraction in mind? What does it entail? I don’t think the letter was written to people who don’t yet exist, so the letterhead argument seems to rule it out from the start.

Of course Peter isn't writing to people who don't yet exist. However, it seems likely that he would be addressing his current audience and saying that God is patient, waiting for the rest of the elect to come in, others like you that God wants to save. Peter isn't addressing those elect who haven't been born yet, but is using them as his argument for why Christ hasn't returned to encourage his current audience. Not only that, but there is more than one letterhead that we should consider, but I deal with that a bit over in my article I linked to above.

The argument you put forward here seems to border on a cavalier dismissal and definitely sounds like a fallacy based on equivocal argumentation. (Reference DA Carson, Exegetical Fallacies, pp. 118-119)

More of your comments:
Peter is clearly writing to people who exist. Furthermore, he says that God is “longsuffering” toward this existing group. The idea of longsuffering suggests a patient forbearance towards those who are provoking God to wrath.

Sure. We're all by nature children of wrath anyway, as I think has been noted before in this thread:

Ephesians 2:3 (ESV) among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

More of your comments:
He’s demonstrating patience towards the ill-deserving. Is God being provoked by non-existent entities?

Well, of course God wouldn't be provoked by non-existent entities. However, God isn't bound by time as I'm sure you are very well aware. Since the elect were chosen before the foundation of the world and predestined at that time, these people, though not yet born, are not really "non-existent" in the purest sense. They will exist for sure; God has planned it out, and will turn each of those pages in history at the proper time. So then, to say that God is "patient with you" and to say that all elect are in mind isn't really that much of a stretch at all. He may merely have wanted his readers to recall that God was patient toward them them, and that He will be just as patient toward the rest of the elect.

The last of my quoted comments:
Option #1 seems as absurd as option #3 above for at least these reasons (thanks go to David P. for pointing out the problem with option #1). I believe options 1 and 3 are defeated and shown to be absurd positions.

I would politely disagree with you. :) Furthermore, you didn't deal with one other thing in the passage, namely the fact that God delays so that "all should reach repentance." Well then, why not forever delay then, if this part of God's revealed will is dealing with every single person who ever has been or ever will be born? Something to consider. :)

SDG,
David Hewitt

YnottonY said...

Hi David H,

Thanks for your gracious reply. I will be reading through your 2 Peter 3:9 material as soon as possible.

If you're interested, the Calvin and Calvinism list may be a better place to discuss the issues at length. Let me know if you decide to join ;-)

bristopoly said...

Hi Ynottony,

Let me first say that if I came off as trying to beat Volfan down, that was not what I was implying. I even try to say that it is not a curse word to identify with a position. Part of the problem here is that everyone wants to claim to be a Biblicist without understanding that we often place texts into our theological context/framework in order to interpret them.

Secondly, I have to point out that 1) You didn't really deal with the text. You set quotes around the word "context" when I used it as though I had made something up. Please show me where I just made something up that was not in the text. If anything I could put quotes around your "context" because you just kept restating your position: "Why does this text speak of God wanting to save the non-elect? Because we know He does." There is nothing in the text that says those who He wants to gather are non-elect. You cannot say that it infers that. It does no such thing. YOU are inferring that when you place it into your theological framework. One important thing that we need to remember when doing exegesis is letting the text say what it says and not add too much to it. If you had dealt with words the texts use, or grammar or historical background, that would be one thing, but importing foreign ideas into it is not helpful.

You claimed that God sending prophets to Jerusalem therefore means that He wants to save everyone. Where is that stated in the text? That is what you believe, but the text doesn't say that. You're using circular reasoning here. This text must say A because A is what it says: This text speaks of God wanting to save everyone because God wants to save everyone. That's not a really an argument. If I've misunderstood your comments here, please point out where I may have missed a Biblical point that you made.

As for God's means for reaching people (authorities or not), I don't see how that has anything to do with what we're talking about.

I found the dismissal of the uses of pas to be a bit empty. If you look at my argument, I didn't create a false dichotomy that either the text says all without exception or all with distinction. I gave multiple uses for the adjective and stated why according to contexts it held a specific meaning. For instance, you did not deal with the argument I made concerning whether God thinks TIME itself might cause men to repent in 2 Pet. Do you believe if God stretches time out a little more, more people will repent? I don't think you believe this, nor should someone since the Bible has us believe otherwise. So either Peter's argument is misinformed about the nature of man and the need for regeneration, or pas is referring to the generic people group to which he is referring "the church." As David said, he's not talking to people who don't yet exist. That is a strawman. He is stating that God has not ended the world yet because "all of you---generically the elect" have not come to repentance (and indeed have not yet even been born). To take pas out of context, not let it refer to the people to whom he makes his argument, and then apply it to a people that he is not talking about in the context is once again eisegetical.

Your 1 Tim argument was a bit ambiguous. You took the tone of disagreement, but I couldn't see how you said anything different about the use of pas than I did. You simply applied it extracontextually (because God wants everyone to be saved in your view) to all people of that class rather than understanding that "all" when used for classification doesn't mean "all people within a class." It means "all classes" meaning people from all categories of life. I felt that you may not be aware of this distinction. If you can find a verse that speaks of pas meaning "all people within a class at the time and local of writing," I would appreciate seeing it. Either way, I would think Paul is using it the way he uses it in Titus 4:11, where it speaks of all classes, meaning people from all classes, not all people within a class. I was confused as to whether this is what you were saying or not.

Finally, I can't really see how your position does not have God contradicting Himself. Do you acknowledge the contradiction and see it as mystery? You seemed to indicate that in your dealing with the problem of evil.
You didn't really deal with the verses I gave you except to say that God hardens people because of their rebellion. If you'll note, I said the same thing. My point to you is that we all have rebelled and are in sin and deserve to be hardened. If He really wanted everyone to be saved despite their evil, He would have saved everyone. He chose to not save the non-elect, not only passively, but according to these verses, actively to work against their believing. I understand the distinction your making between the two wills. I don't agree. I would make a distinction between what God wills/wants/desires in salvation from what He desires all men to do in obedience and law. We're not talking here about whether He likes evil. We're talking here about whether he wants all who do evil to be saved from its consequences. Those are two different issues.
I further have a problem equating God wanting all men to be saved with his goodness. His goodness would be fully intact if all men went to hell. I think again that this is a case of confusing what God wants in Law vs. what God wants in Gospel.
So having not provided exegetical information to the contrary when it comes to these texts, nor an explanation for the verses I provided other than appealing to mystery, (which is fine, but these things are revealed to us, so they are not really a secret that is not for us to know), I haven't yet seen whether your position can stand exegetically and logically when all of these verses come into play. Have I missed something?

I can't see where your view does not imply that God is passive in men's damnation when the verses I gave you state the exact opposite. If He is active, then saying He desires all men to be saved is kind of empty, since if He really desired it with any action on His part 1: He would not be passive, but give them the same grace He gives to the elect (unless you believe that He doesn't desire it on the same level); and/or 2. He would not be active in making sure that those who don't believe NEVER believe. These are not the actions of someone who wants all men to believe. If I wanted one of my children to believe in Christ, I not only would not be passive and just let them be, I definitely would not try to give them as much misunderstanding and demonic influences so that they never believe. Your saying that God does it because of their evil sounds like your saying that He desires them to be saved only according to their actions. If their actions are really rebellious, then He no longer desires to save them so much. I doubt you were trying to say this, but it sounded sort of like this. AND we need to remember that God does CHOOSE to harden them in the way they will go before they do anything good or bad according to Rom 9. He states that He will harden whom He hardens. That doesn't seem to be based on how bad a person is, but on God's choice.

I therefore cannot see how God desires the salvation of all men, since the verses used as prooftexts for it say something else, it is inconsistent with what God reveals and does, and your argument to the contrary confuses what God wills for Law and what He wills for Gospel.

I look forward to your response as I am trying to grapple with this issue. I once believed in God's passivity in damnation, but these verses as well as quite a few things in the OT threw me for a loop. thanks in advance.

bristopoly said...

I wanted to add that there is a need to make a distinction concerning the way that God speaks to His covenant community (made up of both believers and unbelievers, but physically indistinguishable) and those outside His community. God uses statements like "All day long I have stretched out My hand to an obstinate and disobedient people" in order to persuade the elect to repent. This same type of persuasion is used throughout the Bible (eg. Hebrews and its warning passages to people who won't be losing their salvation). It has nothing to do with a desire for the non-elect to be saved. Once again, that seems to be reading too much into it.

Benji Ramsaur said...

Assertion: "whats sad is that some of you five pointers are so into calvinism that you dont even realize you are off the deep end."

Then nor reason(s) for your assertion.

Assertion: "you have blinders on your eyes and cannot see the truth about yourselves."

Then no reason(s) for your assertion

Assertion: you are into an extreme."

Then no reason(s) for your assertion

Assertion: "you dont want to admit it."

Then no reason(s) for your assertion

Volfan007,

You should do better than this.

David B. Hewitt said...

bristopoly:

The issue I think that you are trying to grapple with is that what kind of role God plays in man's hardening, right?

Since we all have Adam's sin, we are all condemned from the start. God's restraining grace keeps us from being as bad as we could be. Arguably (and this is simplistic, but I don't have time right now to go into it), all God does to harden someone (which is an active choice on His part for their sin to increase) is remove His restraining grace from that person to some degree in a particular way.

I think that was Edward's argument too. Anyway, good night everyone. :)

SDG,
David Hewitt

David B. Hewitt said...

Oh yeah, YnottonY:

Probably won't head over there; I take too much time blogging and whatnot the way it is. :) Thanks for the offer though!

DH

bristopoly said...

Hi Dave, thanks for the reply. Yeah that is the issue I think I'm grappling with in those texts. However, the hardening seems to be more than just taking away grace which restrains from doing evil (since I'm looking at hardening when it comes to exercising faith in the Gospel and not just doing good). It seems that He actually sends the supernatural work of deception so that they do not believe (so the reason for Him sending the work of deception is to cause further unbelief). I also look at OT texts like 1 Kgs 22:19-23, where God's sovereignty at work over wicked men is accomplished, not simply as passive, but by commanding evil spirits to go and deceive this unbelieving king.
So John says that the Pharisees could not believe because God chose to harden them. I do agree with you that God gives over as we see in Rom 1, but I think that giving over seems to be consistent with what we see God doing in the OT concerning the way He commands the devil and the evil spirits. I don't know. What do you think of 2 Thes 2:11-12?

bristopoly said...

The Westminster Shorter Catechism

Comments under Q103.

"Reformed theology has traditionally spoken of the will of God under two categories: the secret or decretive will of God, and the revealed or perceptive will of God. If you think about it carefully, you will realise that these two categories really refer to two different things altogether. The decretive will of God is about what God has decreed and will bring to pass sovereignly. The revealed will of God, in terms of His written or spoken precepts, on the other hand, is God’s rule of duty for man. This is why it can be that God has ordained everything including the sinful acts of men (i.e., the acts of men which are contrary to His revealed will), and yet remains consistent and not having two contrary wills. Knowing this fact will save us from much confusion and enable us to answer Arminians and Amyraldians who would posit a third category of the will of God, namely, the desire of God, or the desiderative will of God. These may say that since God’s revealed will and secret will are often contrary, why can’t it be that God desires everyone to be saved, but saves only the elect. We do not have any real quarrel with those who speak of God’s desire in terms of His precepts in that He commands men without exception to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, but the fact is that most who propounds the desiderative will of God are speaking about the affection of God, and an emotional desire to save even the reprobate. This thought is most unworthy of God, and does make God possess two contrary wills: desiring something, but decreeing something else."

YnottonY said...

Bristopoly,

So I can understand where you are coming from theologically:

1) What is your church affiliation? Are you a part of a Protestent Reformed Church?

2) Do you believe in the universal love of God?

3) Do you believe in common grace?

4) Do you believe in well-meant gospel offers, or that the gospel is an offer?

Thanks,
Tony

YnottonY said...

Bristopoly,

Also, who wrote those "comments" on Q103 of the Shorter Catechism? Be sure to cite your sources carefully. Thanks.

bristopoly said...

Hi Ynottony, what does my church affiliation have to do with the questions I asked? You have not answered them. Why do I feel an ad hominem coming on.:) I'm not a hyper-Calvinist if that is what you are asking. I believe in common grace, in the universal love of God applied differently to the non-elect and elect, and that the Gospel is an offer to all men to whom it is given without exception. I don't know what you mean by well meant? If you mean that God is really hoping that the non-elect believe it, then no. I don't believe He is hoping that they do when He works against them believing it according to the Scriptures I gave you.
I grew up in Arminian and SBC confused churches (basically Arminians that believed you could never lose your salvation). My background is basically everything you can imagine. I now am closest to OPC because of my change in theology more than anything, but I'm not really committed to a denomination at the moment since I would really be apart of most reformed churches regardless.

But I'm really asking you to grapple with these texts and tell me how your position interprets what they say more than I'm wanting some dismissal based on denominational or historical grounds. You entered this thread by saying how inconsistent High Calvinists are with Calvin. I've seen no inconsistency exegetically and logically however except that there SEEMS to be a contradiction (not just a paradox) in your view. I'm just trying to find out if your view has a consistent answer, or if it must posit that God has two contradicting wills/desires on the exact same issue? And if the only prooftexts it has are the same as the Arminian ones?
thanks again for the time you take to address these things.

YnottonY said...

Bristopoly,

I will get to your questions soon enough, but also needed to know your theological background. It's not a move to an ad hominem. If it was the case that you rejected the universal love of God (which you don't), or common grace (which you don't) or that the gospel is an offer (which you don't), then I would have to approach the conversation in a significantly different way.

Also, I don't want to presume on Tom and his blog to keep posting lengthy replies. I am more than willing to engage people on these subjects, but the blog format is clearly not the best place. It's not like a discussion board or an email list. I don't know if Tom has to spend the time to proof-read these posts etc. I think all of us should be sensitive those possibilities.

There was one question you did not answer. What was your source for your comments on the Shorter Catechism question?

p.s. The "well-meant" or "sincere" qualification in front of the "offer" term is necessary to convey the idea that God is not a hypocritical commander. He's not pretending like he wants compliance when he reall doesn't. When he indescriminately commands all to believe through the external gospel call, HE DOES IN FACT WANT THEIR COMPLIANCE. So, either the gospel offer is well-meant or it's ill-meant in the case of the non-elect who hear. Certainly it's not non-meant. If it's well-meant, then God must will them to comply. If it's ill-meant, then he's just presenting the gospel to them to heat hell hotter for them. It's no small issue! The idea of ill-meant offers amounts to blasphemy.

bristopoly said...

Hi Ynottony,
I quoted the comments because I thought they were particularly interesting to our conversation. They spoke of the exact thing you and I had been speaking about. I didn't quote them as some sort of authority if that is what you were taking it to be. I gave the only reference I had which was they were comments given to the Westminster Shorter Catechism on Question 103. I don't know who wrote them otherwise, except that whoever wrote it was savy to the issues we are talking about. Do you know who wrote them?

I would also like an historical reference in the Church when it met and declared an ill-meant offer as blasphemy. You seem to use the word a lot with positions you don't agree with. If you answer my questions, I would like to see how you take all the passages together and come out with the idea that God really wants the non-elect to comply when He works against their complying. That's like saying to someone, "I really want you to get an egg out of that bird's nest at the top of the tree," and then you kick them into a hole they can't climb out of. Now if God does not want the non-elect to be forgiven for their rebellion (He has mercy on whom He has mercy and hardens who He hardens), then the kicking in the hole is a part of the punishment for their rebellion. Why is that blasphemy when it just displays God's justice?

peter lumpkins said...

Hey, Brothers

I had a few moments before dosing off. Today, I have toured at least four Churches dating to 1100-1200 AD. Incredible sites...

Just a question about the SBC, if anyone would care to comment:

Suppose Founders got to GRB and mysteriously found themselves in the overwhelming majority position of registered messengers.

And, consequently, you could write the ticket for not the next twelve months; rather, you were in a position to change it all indefinitely. Everything. Think of it as a wish list, if you like. What would you do?

Any takers? With that and from Norrkoping, Sweden, I am...

PeterFrank

thunderbeard said...

I just want to point out that not only does Caner misrepresent Calvinism, but he also grossly misrepresents "neocalvinism." I haven't had an opportunity to read all of the comments here (though I've skimmed through them), and I have not read one explanation of what neocalvinism really is.

Historically, neocalvinism is the school of thought, theological discource, and cultural engagement brought about by those in the Reformed church late in the 19th century or so. Most notably, Abraham Kuyper was a neocalvinist. I've also heard of people referring to Cornelius Van Til as a neocalvinist in the same vein.

Just wanted to mention that. Obviously Caner not only needs to better research Calvinist doctrine, but also recent church history.

David Ponter said...

G'day Bristopoly,

I don't want to get bogged down into this discussion, but 3 things you said bothered me:

1) bristopoly said:

The word malista, if you look at it in all of its contexts, does not mean "especially" as in "not only for this group but even moreso of this one." The word actually means "in other words," or "more specifically speaking about." The verse basically says that God (notice not Christ) is the Savior of all men (notice this is talking about Him being Savior, not just propitiation since that would have Christ as subject), that is to say believers." If I were Greek and said, "The government is on my back, namely the IRS," I would use the word malista. I don't mean the entire government is on my back including and especially so the IRS, and that is not what malista means either. Just to clarify.

David says:

Can you supply any lexical sources for this definition youve cited? Ive looked up a few and couldn't find it. I have a high respect for my A&G, and it gives the reading you deny. Can supply lexical witnesses?

What is more, Paul uses the word here: Gal 6:10, Ph 4:22, 1 Tim 4:10, 1 Tim 5:8, 1 Tim 5:17, 2 Tim 4:13, Tit 1:10. I don't find it reasonable to insert the meaning you allege into the verses verses. So far, malista does not mean, namely, or that is.

2) You said:

I wanted to add that there is a need to make a distinction concerning the way that God speaks to His covenant community (made up of both believers and unbelievers, but physically indistinguishable) and those outside His community. God uses statements like "All day long I have stretched out My hand to an obstinate and disobedient people" in order to persuade the elect to repent. This same type of persuasion is used throughout the Bible (eg. Hebrews and its warning passages to people who won't be losing their salvation). It has nothing to do with a desire for the non-elect to be saved. Once again, that seems to be reading too much into it.

I say: that sounds very odd and a little shallow. The text says to a disobediend people, namely the Jews. And in the same chapter it says he called them, but they did not come. The context indicates that the calling is a description of his out-stretched hands. What is more, Paul in Roms 10:21 directly cites this verse referring it to God's call to Israel, who did not find salvation.

3) Regarding the comments on the SC 103, the original poster oversimplifies the matter. Its true that for the Protestant Scholastics the will of God was neatly split between the decretive and preceptive, with the latter containing no volition. But its not true that the Arminians and Amyraldians invented a third category. Its evident in Calvin that for him the revealed will was a will that motivated and induced God to act, to determine, and which expressed an emotion in God to save the reprobate. See him on John 3:16, 12:47-9 and Mat 15:24 etc. For him, it was not merely some preceptive will. And its also true that many post-Protestant Scholastics were unable to retain the artificial bifurcation of the Protestant Scholastics, as they could not refrain from saying God "desires" the salvation of all men, eg, William Cunningham down to John Murray.

And the closing comment:

"...We do not have any real quarrel with those who speak of God’s desire in terms of His precepts in that He commands men without exception to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, but the fact is that most who propounds the desiderative will of God are speaking about the affection of God, and an emotional desire to save even the reprobate. This thought is most unworthy of God, and does make God possess two contrary wills: desiring something, but decreeing something else."

Is the writer saying, A) there is no issue if his desire is merely his command; or B) there is a desire as well as a command, that men repent? If he meant A, thats fine, but lets all admit that the idea that God "desires" the salvation of all was only temporarily obscured by the Prostestant Scholastics. If he meant B, then the oddity is, God desires that a reprobate man repent, but has no affection to save that man. Which is very odd.

But then he says, its unworthy that God could desire something but decree something else. I would like to know why he thinks so.


Take care,
DavidPonter

bristopoly said...

Hi David,

You must be an Aussie. You might want to make yourself a vegemite sandwich before you take time to read this. :)

Re: malista
I tend to do my own lexicography, since I’m trained to do it, and I don’t trust lexicons as infallible. It’s better to learn the languages along with linguistic principles of lexicography, have the lexicons as a help, but do your own as well. With that said, I would look at the relevant commentaries on these passages. I know a lot of the Pastoral commentaries discuss the term. I posit its meaning as “more specifically speaking of” “particularly” “namely” etc. The adverb makes a more generic statement more specific. A malista B means that B belongs to the generic group A, but when A is referred to, really only B is meant. It does not, in the phrase A malista B, make B a subset to the generic group A. So the example I gave, “The government is on my back, malista the IRS.” I don’t mean that the entire government is on my back especially the IRS. I mean the government (a generic group to which the IRS belongs) is the IRS, so when I say government I mean more specifically the IRS.

Gal 6
Actually, the context of Gal 6 is speaking about doing good to the brethren, so that is a great example of the context showing the meaning. Paul’s exhortation there is to do good to all people within the household of God (based upon what he had just said in the immediate context about taking care of the brethren as well as the larger context of Gal where a Jewish/Gentile rift has taken place). It would be a bit out of context for him to all of a sudden be talking about doing good to the world when that has not been his point throughout the text.

Phil 4:22
You don’t really think that “all the saints greet you” means all the saints around the world, do you? Again, malista is a restatement that specifies what was meant in the preceding statement. “All the saints” malista “specifically speaking” means the saints in Caesar’s household.

1 Tim 4:10 is a great example, since we know that God is not the Savior of all men, but only of believers. So Paul qualifies his statement by saying malista “what I mean to say is, believers.” I noted before that this is not a verse about atonement. God is subject and the word soter Savior is used, not propitiation.

You listed these verses, but where was your defense that they mean “especially.” I guess if BAGD is an infallible authority, then the burden of proof would just be on me, but since I’ve been trained to do lexicography and question the lexicons (as they should be since they are wrong concerning many words), I don’t just accept traditional definitions. There is a reason why BAGD has been updated so many times and only the recent revision has taken into account new advances in linguistic data and its bearing on lexicography.
The reason I say this is that you provided to me 1 Tim 5:8 as though it didn’t warrant the definition I gave, but it clearly warrants no other definition. Look at the parallel: “his own” with “his household.” Now who else are “his own” that he is obligated to take care of? Do you mean to say that you interpret this verse to mean that he has to take care of a larger group that belongs to him that is not a part of his family or he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever? Who is this larger group to which he is financially obligated and are called his own? I’m sure we could make something up, but it would be simpler to take malista as it should be: “his own” are “his household.”

1 Tim 5:17 This is probably the passage you should look to in the commentaries. The elders here who are worthy of double honor are those who work hard at preaching and teaching. I don’t believe in the lay elder and frankly there’s not a whole lot of evidence that the early church ever had them historically. So there is not a larger group of elders within which a smaller group preaches and teaches. Look at the qualifications given earlier in the book. You have to be able to teach and (in Titus) refute those who contradict (1st Cent description of a rabbi) in order to be an elder in the first place. Why would that be a necessary (dei) qualification if there are elders who don’t need to preach or teach? So positing two groups here is a stretch.

2 Tim 4:13 Here the books are the parchments once again. Paul isn’t telling Timothy to bring a larger group of books he left at Troas, but then to especially bring a specific group within that. If one is bringing something anyway, how does one especially bring it? He’s telling him to bring the specific books he left: i.e., the parchments.

Titus 1:10 is speaking about the Hellenistic Jews who are upsetting households. The evil talkers he is referring to are the Jews, not a smaller group within a larger one.

Also see Acts 20:38; 25:26; 26:2; and 2 Pet 2:10

I think the issue here, David, is that we are used to reading the word “especially” and because that word carries an idea of specificity, it retains some of the original meaning. The problem is that the word “especially” also conveys that the person speaking from generics to specifics is including all of the generics in the statement. That really does not add up when the evidence is looked at in the above verses.
One last thing on this, the language you used to describe my use was that the meaning was being “inserted.” I don’t know if this was unintentional or a rhetorical way of demeaning my lexicography. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt on that, but ask you to treat my argument as one being made from the texts and lexicographical data gained therein, not something that is “inserted.”

Regarding the OT passage “I’ve stretched out My hands all day long to a disobedient and obstinate people.”
There are actually numerous ways to answer this objection. I gave but one, which I still think is valid even if you think it is “shallow and empty.” I’m not sure that is an exegetical or theological reason for denying something, but your other comments have more substance.
I should have looked at the passages concerning why God speaks in such a way to His covenant community before I commented. I just figured it was the type of language God uses often for his elect. I stated that it is primarily to persuade his elect to repent. He does this many times in the OT as well as the New (see Hebrews or even better Revelation). He tells people that He is going to judge them, knowing full well that they are going to repent and they will not be judged. But invitations are given by God to everyone as well. However, this is not an invitation. But even if it were, simply because God offers an invitation, and then declares that those who do not accept it are disobedient, is not contradictory to the position I was advocating. You would have to show that God’s giving an offer means that He wants/wills everyone to accept that offer. Hence, I brought the appropriate Scripture to bear on the subject which indicates that He does not want everyone to be redeemed from their sin. Instead, it seems clear in these passages that He wants some men to be saved from their rebellion and others to be judged for their rebellion. Perhaps you can answer these verses for me as well, David, if you would be so kind to take the time?

BUT this particular phrase “stretch out the hand” “an outstretched hand” “extending the hand/arm” is terminology implying judgment, not calling or invitation. The idea that this is a calling or invitation is a bit oblivious to the OT context in which it is given and to Paul’s argument in Rom 10-11. It trades the immediate context as well as the historical context of the term with the remote context, which although related to the discussion, is not related to the term. An outstretched hand/arm is one where God judges a people (given first to the Egyptians, but then applied to Israel). So Rom 10 is talking about how God has judged Israel because of their obstinent stance and disobedience. That’s why he has to then go on to explain why all of Israel has not been rejected by God. So the statement: “The context indicates that the calling is a description of his out-stretched hands” is not the case. So 1. I don’t think it is empty and shallow for God to use repentance rhetoric to the visible community, able to then use it as a warrant for His judgment against the non-elect within that community and 2. to therefore use the phrase as a term of judgment, not invitation to the disobedient.
So you’re right in a way that the people to whom this is said don’t repent. But it wasn’t stated to cause them to repent. It is a term of judgment, usually reserved for other nations in the deliverance of Israel, but now used per Isa and Rom as a judgment upon Israel for the deliverance of other nations (role reversal).

Re: the Quote.
I really can’t answer for the author what he was driving at. I simply introduced it as an interesting part of the discussion. I believe God wills what he desires (i.e., He wills what He wills) and not what He does not desire. I’m not sure what the motive is for determining something that you have the power to change and that you don’t want to happen. What is your take on that? Do you believe that God wants one thing to happen, but wills another?

Thanks for your commenting, David. I’m not sure I have the time and energy to put everything into this dialogue, but I’m sure I will anyway if I can.

bristopoly said...

Oh I forgot to give you reference to articles on malista. This discussion has gone on for awhile now among scholars. I didn't really get the idea from them. I actually noticed it before there was a discussion. Great minds think alike.:)

Skeat, T.C. “Especially the Parchments: A Note on 2 Timothy IV.13,” Journal of Theological Studies NS, Vol. 30 (1979): 173-177

I. Howard Marshall also takes this view in this ICC commentary on the Pastorals.

thanks again

David Ponter said...

G'day Bristopoly,

You say: Re: malista I tend to do my own lexicography, since Im trained to do it, and I dont trust lexicons as infallible. Its better to learn the languages along with linguistic principles of lexicography, have the lexicons as a help, but do your own as well. With that said, I would look at the relevant commentaries on these passages. I know a lot of the Pastoral commentaries discuss the term. I posit its meaning as more specifically speaking particularly namely etc. The adverb makes a more generic statement more specific. A malista B means that B belongs to the generic group A, but when A is referred to, really only B is meant. It does not, in the phrase A malista B, make B a subset to the generic group A. So the example I gave, The government is on my back, malista the IRS.I dont mean that the entire government is on my back especially the IRS. I mean the government (a generic group to which the IRS belongs) is the IRS, so when I say government I mean more specifically the IRS.

Me now: Okay, lets agree to disagree.

You:

Gal 6 Actually, the context of Gal 6 is speaking about doing good to the brethren, so that is a great example of the context showing the meaning. Pauls exhortation there is to do good to all people within the household of God (based upon what he had just said in the immediate context about taking care of the brethren as well as the larger context of Gal where a Jewish/Gentile rift has taken place). It would be a bit out of context for him to all of a sudden be talking about doing good to the world when that has not been his point throughout the text.

Me: Well I guess this just shows the point. I dont find this convincing. It does seem to come down to authorities at this point, you verses the entire lexical and exegetical tradition of the church. ;-) Ill go with the latter. :-)

Phil 4:22 You dont really think that all the saints greet you means all the saints around the world, do you?

Me: But that's silly. Why should I think its all the saints of the world versus your reading? Why can't I take it to mean, greet all the saints you meet, especially the saints of the household of Caesar

You: Again, malista is a restatement that specifies what was meant in the preceding statement. All the saints malista specifically speaking means the saints in Caesar household.

Me again: Your authority versus that of the translations, church history and the lexicons. :-)

You: 1 Tim 4:10 is a great example, since we know that God is not the Savior of all men, but only of believers. So Paul qualifies his statement by saying malista what I mean to say is, believers. I noted before that this is not a verse about atonement. God is subject and the word soter Savior is used, not propitiation.

Me: Again, I don't find this convincing. I would like to see some other authority speak to confirm your "take".

You: You listed these verses, but where was your defense that they mean especially. cut

Me: Is it then the case of your infallibility versus the lexicons? :-) Of course not. I just would like to see your authority credentialed in some way, by solid lexical works that confirm your reading. I don't thinks wrong to ask: "else you are saying, trust me on my own authority."


You: 1 Tim 5:17 This is probably the passage you should look to in the commentaries. The elders here who are worthy of double honor are those who work hard at preaching and teaching. I dont believe in the lay elder and frankly theres not a whole lot of evidence that the early church ever had them historically. So there is not a larger group of elders within which a smaller group preaches and teaches. Look at the qualifications given earlier in the book. You have to be able to teach and (in Titus) refute those who contradict (1st Cent description of a rabbi) in order to be an elder in the first place. Why would that be a necessary (dei) qualification if there are elders who donĂ¢ need to preach or teach? So positing two groups here is a stretch.

Me now: Well once again, its Bristopoly versus the rest of Church. :-) Well humour aside, I come from the tradition that sees a distinction between elders who labour in the word, and elders who rule. This distinction can either be fluid and functional, or institutionally and ordinationally. So I don't see any reason why I need to accept your reading, other than now I am being told to also buy into your wider assumptional view regarding elders. You can see where this is taking us.

You: 2 Tim 4:13 Here the books are the parchments once again. Paul isnt telling Timothy to bring a larger group of books he left at Troas, but then to especially bring a specific group within that. If one is bringing something anyway, how does one especially bring it? Hes telling him to bring the specific books he left: i.e., the parchments.

Me: it seems to me that you are making it harder than it really is. 'Timothy when you bring my scrolls, be sure to bring bring the membranas too.' I have not searched yet, but what evidence is there that membranos meant biblion, or had that sort of interchangeability?

You: Titus 1:10 is speaking about the Hellenistic Jews who are upsetting households. The evil talkers he is referring to are the Jews, not a smaller group within a larger one.

Me: Again I see no reason to think this. 1 Tim 1:9, we see the word disobedient used again clearly in the context of a wider group. I wonder what a search of the other words would show? Anyway, again, what evidence is there that there is not a wider group, with an especially hostile sub-group? You are just asserting it. What should convince me other than your word, over and against the lexical and translational traditions?

cut cut

You say: One last thing on this, the language you used to describe my use was that the meaning was being inserted. I dont know if this was unintentional or a rhetorical way of demeaning my lexicography. Ill give you the benefit of the doubt on that, but ask you to treat my argument as one being made from the texts and lexicographical data gained therein, not something that is inserted.

Me now: Well you should always give the benefit of the doubt, that's called being Christian. :-) But all I meant was, inserted into the fields of meaning given by A&G and the other lexicons. One should now add that field, if you are right.


You: Regarding the OT passage Ive stretched out My hands all day long to a disobedient and obstinate people. There are actually numerous ways to answer this objection. I gave but one, which I still think is valid even if you think it is shallow and empty.

Me: Hey, I didn't say "shallow and empty" don't pull and Eve on me.


You continue: I not sure that is an exegetical or theological reason for denying something, but your other comments have more substance. I should have looked at the passages concerning why God speaks in such a way to His covenant community before I commented.cut cut edit

...But even if it were, simply because God offers an invitation, and then declares that those who do not accept it are disobedient, is not contradictory to the position I was advocating. You would have to show that Gods giving an offer means that He wants/wills everyone to accept that offer.

Me now: I the idea I would think of out-stretched hands is a fatherly metaphor, indicating that the "father" seeks to gather others to himself. Have you read Calvin on these verses? I think he captures the thought very well. That fits Isaiah's and Paul's use well.

You continue: Hence, I brought the appropriate Scripture to bear on the subject which indicates that He does not want everyone to be redeemed from their sin. Instead, it seems clear in these passages that He wants some men to be saved from their rebellion and others to be judged for their rebellion. Perhaps you can answer these verses for me as well, David, if you would be so kind to take the time?


You: BUT this particular phrase stretch out the hand an outstretched hand extending the hand/arm is terminology implying judgement, not calling or invitation.

Me: sure, the arm of the Lord stretches out in Judgement. I have no problem. But here its pretty clear that its meant to be fatherly and inviting, hence their greater culpability.

Some cutting, The html you use makes it hard for me read, and cos this is long and cos this is side-bar, I am cutting some of this.


You: I really cant answer for the author what he was driving at. I simply introduced it as an interesting part of the discussion. I believe God wills what he desires (i.e., He wills what He wills) and not what He does not desire. Im not sure what the motive is for determining something that you have the power to change and that you dont want to happen. What is your take on that? Do you believe that God wants one thing to happen, but wills another?

Me: Yes. I believe God can desire something that he decrees not to bring to pass. Have you read Dabney on this? Indiscriminate Proposals? Have you read Edwards? The issue is a Greek view of person, especially divine, versus a biblical view.

you continue in the second post:

Oh I forgot to give you reference to articles on malista. This discussion has gone on for awhile now among scholars. I didn't really get the idea from them. I actually noticed it before there was a discussion. Great minds think alike.:)

Ill scope out this article.

Skeat, T.C. Especially the Parchments: A Note on 2 Timothy IV.13, Journal of Theological Studies NS, Vol. 30 (1979): 173-177

I. Howard Marshall also takes this view in this ICC commentary on the Pastorals.

Particular verses?

Take care,
David

bristopoly said...

You: "It does seem to come down to authorities at this point, you verses the entire lexical and exegetical tradition of the church. ;-) Ill go with the latter. :-)"

Me: Oh, David, please. The entire lexical and exegetical tradition of the church? You mean serious lexicography that has only taken place within the last 150 years? How about the last 30 years? Are you aware of the amount of criticisms of the older methods of lexicography that has been leveled against it by scholarship. The new advances came about in the late 60's early 70's. I think the majority of modern scholarship would agree with me that the old definitions of any word need to be verified by the new advances in linguistics applied to "word studies." Let's not plead special authority when you really don't have it.

You: "Phil 4:22 You dont really think that all the saints greet you means all the saints around the world, do you?

But that's silly. Why should I think its all the saints of the world versus your reading? Why can't I take it to mean, greet all the saints you meet, especially the saints of the household of Caesar"

Me:
1. Because Paul is saying that the saints with him in the passage greet you. He's not telling them to greet other saints in vs. 22 (you're thinking of the preceding verses). Did you even read this passage? It sounds like your just trying to defend a position no matter what. I am just looking to handle the text responsibly.

2. Notice how you have supplied "you meet." Now had this been an imperative to greet other saints, you would be adding to the text by supplying the words "you meet." Of course adding extra words would change the meaning, but that isn't exegesis. You have to deal with what is said, not what you want it to say if you add a few words here and there. But as I said, you misconstrued to whom this is referring.

You:
I the idea I would think of out-stretched hands is a fatherly metaphor, indicating that the "father" seeks to gather others to himself. Have you read Calvin on these verses? I think he captures the thought very well. That fits Isaiah's and Paul's use well.

Me: David, having now looked at the verses concerning the imagery as well as remembering what one of my old professors, James Hoffmeier, said about the terminology being Egyptian, I can say without a doubt that it is judgment terminology. You seem to just be guessing at a meaning based on what it "sounds like" to you. That's not really lexicography. You need to look into the contexts in which the phrase is used and then note that Paul is clearly speaking of a judgment upon Israel that the Gentiles might be blessed (like I said a reversal from the OT theme where the nations/Gentiles are judged by the outstretched hand/arm and Israel is saved).

You: But here its pretty clear that its meant to be fatherly and inviting, hence their greater culpability.

Me: David, you seem to just be holding on to this no matter what, but why hold to what it sounds like to you against the evidence of the term? What is the evidence that it is being used here in a completely contrary way than its OT use and even from the context of Paul's argument? I guess we'll have to agree to disagree, but I can see no reason for your argument other than you want to hold a certain position.

You: Is it then the case of your infallibility versus the lexicons? :-) Of course not. I just would like to see your authority credentialed in some way, by solid lexical works that confirm your reading. I don't thinks wrong to ask: "else you are saying, trust me on my own authority."

Me: No, that's why I gave you evidence. You seem to be the one wanting to just cite someone as an infallible authority. I went through the verses to show you some of the reasoning of the passage, which was not refuted except to say that you don't believe it or find it convincing (which if you want to hold to a particular position, you would NEVER find it convincing), but you didn't offer any reason why "especially" was the preferred meaning except that the old lexicons told me so.

You: The issue is a Greek view of person, especially divine, versus a biblical view.


Me: Actually, I think its a matter of who is interpreting the Bible for what they consider the "Biblical view." I don't really buy the "that's just a Greek view of things" regardless of what issue it is usually employed to support." That's not really an argument to me since Greek ideas are used in the NT to convey divine theology. I have read Dabney. Can you give me the sources in Edwards. I would like to see what he says as well. I think the problem i have with the two wills is not a view of persons, but the understanding that the words for will/desire are the same words (thele and epithumia), so to me, it is like saying "God wills what He doesn't will." "God wants what He doesn't want." If we say this on the exact same issues (i.e., the Gospel) I think we have a contradiction here, not just a paradox.

The verses in Marshall would be the ones we looked at in the Pastorals: 1 Tim 4:10; 5:17; 2 Tim 4:13; Titus 1:10.

I still haven't heard how your position takes the verses I cited. I'm starting to think that your position simply ignores those verses and just holds to a passive stance of God in the damnation of men, but I don't know. Can one of you offer me a consistent exegetical and theological explanation within your view? I really want to see if your view is a viable option for people Biblically or if its just a philosophical view that uses the Bible, but cannot explain anything that does not support or contradicts it?

I have to say, David, both you and Ynottony (so far) have just given me the arguments that sum to either: I don't agree and here's my position again and again or I don't agree because this sounds better to me. I'm looking for something more. I can tell your probably a systematics guy and I'm not. My degrees are all in Biblical Studies, ANE background and language. I know some systematics, but usually have to ask "what do you mean by that." Having said that though, I often get frustrated with systematics guys because they're not trained to discuss the text in a linguistic and contextual framework, but rather in a philosophical framework, which to me is eisegetical in nature (and I mean that for all sides of systematics, not just those who don't agree with me). I'm saying this because I don't want to ask more of you than you can give to me, but I also don't want to pretend that we all are arguing from the text either. I have not really heard any exegetical/linguistic arguments from the text yet, but this is what I mean by the fact that systematics doesn't usually do that. So if you can give me exegetical answers, then that would be great, but I don't really want philosophical argument after philosophical argument, since it just presupposes your position and doesn't really ever tell me what the authorial intent of the author is.
I do appreciate your time and effort in the conversation.

David Ponter said...

G'day Bristopoly,

Well, I am already sensing you are getting senstive here. Ive tried to put some smilies and and use words like humour to be communicate friendliness as much as I can. Youve already put me in a box, and you've already flagged your credentials in a very ambiguous sort of way at that (I mean by that in terms of degrees or profession: that information is absent.) I am not impressed by credentials like that. Ive had theological and biblical studies profs say outrageous things to me and I react the same the way: I want to see some credentialed confirmatory evidence.

I don't think its in ordinate to ask you for some lexical sources for your take on malista. The translations quite apparently and uniformly have "especially", the lexicons I scoped out had especially. You, originally cited no confirming sources. You then basically cited yourself as an authority. Thats fine Bristopology, I guess. I just don't buy it on the evidence you've given so far. Its not a personal attack on you, its just the way I see it. Ive not had time to scope out the article you cited. I will this arvy.

Also, I take umbrage that you boxed me as a systematics guy. That speaks to me that you are now talking to a perception of me, and not me as I am. Its not helpful when those things begin to surface and are communicated.

I am an academic, primarily focused on historical theology. But in no way should that mean my rather simple request that you show me lexical or authoritative support for your claim, which is contrary to the standard lexical reading so far, as far as I can gather, was improper. If as you say this is cutting edge, that's fine. I am not saying new is bad just because its new. I just like to see some grounds for it. But you shoot back with "oh please David..." That does not communicate friendliness to me, but paternalism. Could you agree?

Then other thing that I noticed is that your arguments that malista means "that is" seem to me to presuppose a wider theological, even systematic package, eg what is the NT teaching on elders. I don't share that tradition, so I don't find the argument from yours as compelling. I simply tried to be honest with you here. I get the impression that you were not happy with that. I am not sure your unhappiness is just, as this is a conversation.

For example, take these snippets from you: "David, you seem to just be holding on to this no matter what, but why hold to what it sounds like to you against the evidence of the term?"

And: "I have to say, David, both you and Ynottony (so far) have just given me the arguments that sum to either: I don't agree and here's my position again and again or I don't agree because this sounds better to me."


I really don't see how this stuff is helpful. I simply posed three basic points: what is your authority for your reading of Malista. To this you gave answers that to me only presupposed your own "authority" and your own wider presuppositional framework; which I dont share. Therefore to me, they lacked evidential value. Its not that hard.

I then commented on your read of Isa 65:2. You said it was a call to the elect, to persuade them. You apparently denied that it was a call properly and directly to wicked Isreal. Then you apparently conceded my point, retracted your original statement and then modified it. Here is a snippet from you:

"I should have looked at the passages concerning why God speaks in such a way to His covenant community before I commented. I just figured it was the type of language God uses often for his elect. I stated that it is primarily to persuade his elect to repent."

Me: I naturally took that as a retraction, saying, I was wrong there David, you were right. But then you modified your argument saying its a hands outstretched in judgement. It was to that I said, sure in some cases this holds, but here I doubt it. And again I say I doubt it, because of the context, as I read Isa 65. The calling is meant to be expressive of the out-stretched hands. And this calling is gracious. It is because the they reject this, that judgement comes. The judgement comes because they reject the outstretched hands, not that the outstretched hand is the act/decree of judement itself. You don't agree. Thats fine. I can live with that, but no one needs to get bent out of shape.

The third thing I asked was with regard to the allegation that Arminians and Amyraldians invented a third distinction in the Will of God. This is historically false, given what we find in Calvin, other contemporary Reformers, and in folk like Charles Hodge, Dabney, Shedd, and even folk like Cunningham. No one can live with the simplistic bifurcation of the Protestant Scholastics on this. You asked me if God can desire that which he does not decree to bring to pass (my words) I answered in good faith. I even recommended some authors, made a comment that it depends on what view of divine psychology one has.

In none of this do I think I have been inordinate, nor do I think some of your demands are helpful. Like:

David, you seem to just be holding on to this no matter what, but why hold to what it sounds

and this:

"I still haven't heard how your position takes the verses I cited. I'm starting to think that your position simply ignores those verses and just holds to a passive stance of God in the damnation of men, but I don't know. Can one of you offer me a consistent exegetical and theological explanation within your view?"

Bristopoly, what my gut tells me is that now suddenly I should be on the defensive, that I must justify all my assumptions, when all I asked was for some justification for your claims. Why should I give my opinion on all those verses when all I did was ask you a few questions.

So honestly, wisdom says bow out. I feel already that I am being boxed in, motives challeged, and forced to answer issues I was not even discussing with you. Dont be offended, but the overall tone of your replies to me, along with the demands and boxing comments, tells me we are not going to get anywhere today, and in this context.

Take care,
David

David Ponter said...

I read the article by Skeat, and I actually didnt find it convincing. I do have some reasons, but that aside, to help out. I did a quick seach and came up with these 3 articles:

The Meaning of malista in 2 Timothy 4:13 and Related Verses By: Poythress, V. S. Source: Journal of Theological Studies, 53(2, 2002)523-532.

Basically Poythress savages Skeat's arguments.

Kai malista oikeion -- A New Look at 1 Timothy 5.8 By: Campbell, R. A. Source: New Testament Studies, 41(1, 1995)157-160
This author seems to fairly uncritically assume Skeat's conclusions.


The interpretation of malista in 1 Tiomothy 5:17 By: Kim, Hong Bom Source: Novum testamentum, 46 no 4 2004, p 360-368.

This guy challenges Skeat's conclusions and adds a little comment that some may be theologically motivated to translate malista as "that is" because of their ecclesiology (my paraphrase).

My first concern with Skeat is that in a nifty footnote he concedes that malista often has the normal meaning. Great, and given that he is speaking about parchements and books, not about 1 Tim 4:10, how does one know that in that verse malista means "that is" for its not the case that malista means, per se, that is, as Bristopoly first strongly implied.

Skeat's comment about Timothy having to have to lug around a huge library is gratuitous. I was glad to see Poythress making the same basic crit.

Secondly, some of his citations, even I can see that the second meaning of A&G holds, ie most assuredly, most certainly. The others are ambiguous as best.

One small comment, Skeat says it malista must be "that is" as he interacts with the loopy translation of the verse as "God gives salvation..." Thats a stretching of the text for sure. Kim also challenges that sort of reading, which was good to see too.

So, while trying to be as open-minded as I can be, I conclude at this stage that Brists claim:

"The word malista, if you look at it in all of its contexts, does not mean "especially" as in "not only for this group but even moreso of this one." The word actually means "in other words," or "more specifically speaking about,"

is not substantiated. Even his cited course says, even implies that there are a large selection of instances where malista has the normal meaning (footnote 1, p., 174).

At best, we could say, perhaps malista does mean "that is" (as based on obscure readings) but on what grounds should I choose that reading over and against the normal meaning of "especially" or "particularly"? that what now interests me.

As I thought a little more, my point about wider assumptions was actually an echoe of the baptizo debates: according one, the word, reading through their assumptional grid, means to submerge, to another, reading through their grid, it means to sprinkle. I was looking for something beyond that, a reading that was self-evidencing, if you like. I havent seen any yet. Its all ambiguous at best, as far as I can determine at this point.

Anyway, I am out of this discussion, I only popped back in cos I thought this may be helpful to other readers.

Take care,
David

bristopoly said...

David, the "oh David" comments are coming from the fact that I don't think you're being fair with my arguments. You keep saying that I'm appealing to my own authority as opposed to some ghostly magisterium of scholarship and the tradition of the church (as though the church as a whole ever pondered at length over this word or lexical methodology in general---what was often appealed to was diachronic information---like word division and etymological data). I gave you evidence within the Biblical text. You just didn't want to see it. You never really answered the evidence I gave you except with this, which seems to me to be a bit of an ad hominem ("well you're getting testy," "you're appealing to your own authority" "you're putting me in a box" etc). I'm just pointing out what you have done and what is consistent with a systematics/historical theology expert to do. I realize you've had some biblical studies, David. I've had some historical theology as well, but that doesn't mean I'm an expert in the field. I'm sure there are many things you could point out to me that could correct perhaps an unrefined methodology in my historiography or systematic expressions. Whether you like it or not you have argued the way that systematics usually does.

You: Then other thing that I noticed is that your arguments that malista means "that is" seem to me to presuppose a wider theological, even systematic package, eg what is the NT teaching on elders. I don't share that tradition, so I don't find the argument from yours as compelling. I simply tried to be honest with you here. I get the impression that you were not happy with that. I am not sure your unhappiness is just, as this is a conversation.

This is kind of what I mean. I didn't say, "I don't believe lay elders exist because of my theological tradition." I said they don't exist: 1. historically in the early church, 2. the necessary dei qualifications for any elder is that he be able to teach and refute those who contradict, which is ridiculous if there are elders who don't have to teach, and 3. because the word malista is used in the other passages I gave you to specify, not subset. Simply saying that your not committed to such a presupposition is a red herring. I gave you evidence within the text.

You:
I really don't see how this stuff is helpful. I simply posed three basic points: what is your authority for your reading of Malista. To this you gave answers that to me only presupposed your own "authority" and your own wider presuppositional framework; which I dont share. Therefore to me, they lacked evidential value. Its not that hard.

Me: I think anyone who reads this can see that I didn't go on my own authority. I answered you with ALL of the texts in the NT that use the word. I don't think my saying, "Let's not be baby fed information by lexicons that have been criticized for their fallacious lexicography. Instead, let's just look at the passages themselves and see why "more specifically" or "namely" are more appropriate translations for these texts." You came back with not having even taken time to look at what some were saying (eg. your comments on Phil 4:22). That tells me you're not doing serious exegesis, David. You're trying to hold to the "traditional" interpretation uncritically. I really do feel bad for NT profs that you've had that try to say something to you that is not according to the lexicons. I've got news for you. The guys who wrote those lexicons were NT profs. Why are choosing them over yours? You know that most of them agree with each other (especially on lesser known words)because they're often getting their info from a single source or just an uncritically, commonly accepted definition. Either way, I'm never really said, "David, you should trust me. I know what I'm talking about more than those scholars, so go with my definition." I simply asked you to take a look at the evidence in the texts. If you don't agree, you don't agree, but don't claim that I just appealed to my own authority. That's basically an underhanded way of saying someone is appealing to special authority (when in fact, you're the one who has done that this entire time). I saw no exegesis from you--only the "well that's not what my lexicon and Bible translations say."

You: The judgement comes because they reject the outstretched hands, not that the outstretched hand is the act/decree of judement itself. You don't agree. Thats fine. I can live with that, but no one needs to get bent out of shape.

David, I'm kind of laughing here just because I think you're reading too much emotion into my comments. I'm not bent out of shape. I just argue very directly and I'm not OK with an argument if there are still issues which would refute it. If I am going to say that your position has a valid argument, I want to say that with integrity and not just feel like I'm conceding to error. I want to know if it could be true myself, so I'm not just going to give it a pass when I'm trying to analyze it.

Secondly, the problem with your interpretation is that the terminology itself is not given as an invitation to repent. It would be the equivalent of me saying that the terminology "you're going to burn in hell" in a context with both judgement and salvation, is talking about salvation. I think in context with both in it, the stretching out of God's hands/arm signifies judgment to the Israelite reader, but I guess will just let this one lay where it is.


You: You apparently denied that it was a call properly and directly to wicked Isreal.

This I never said. I was going to include something about God's rebuke being also to the wicked within a community as a secondary purpose, but didn't think it necessary. I never conceded your point because your point was that it was a call or invitation and its not. What I said was that I didn't look at the phrase and just answered off the top of my head that it may be the type of language God often uses toward His elect. I was wrong with this phrase because its not terminology for invitation.

David, the third thing you asked was of the commentator of the Shorter Catechism. I will defer to you on historical theology. I asked you for the source in Edwards because I wanted to read it, not because I was challenging you or anything. I also said that it may depend on the psychology of God for some, but it depends more on the words used and how the NT presents the case. I don't agree that God can be contradictory. I beleive that He is often paradoxical, but not contradictory. If He is, then even our logic has little basis.

I really think that you're the one getting sensitive, David. And again, maybe its the nature of the blog thing. It's hard to communicate a friendly tone in writing when you are being direct, but I was not being hostile. I promise. I thank you for the time that you have taken. I am disappointed though since I have not yet received an explanation for the verses I gave, and since you and Ynottony are the only ones I've seen on the internet who defend this view (I'm sure there are more, but it's the first time I've heard this view), I'm not sure I'll ever get a solid explanation for these.

One last thing, we are all in a box. The problem in academia today is that everyone wants to speak about everybody else's box. I was just identifying your way of arguing, which if you sit back for a moment and look at the way both of us have argued, there is a huge difference here. I think the most important thing any academic can do is admit their expertise in their area of primary study, and their lack thereof in their secondary areas of study. I read a lot of historical theology. I read a lot of systematics (although less than historical), but when men like you come along, I have to defer. I don't know as much. I don't think it's a crime to admit such, nor do I think it an arrogant thing for one to point out the limits of another.
I hope to speak to you some other time, David. I have a feeling we probably agree on more than we disagree on, and in the end what God wants is up to God, we are to preach the same message to all men.
Thanks again and God bless.

David Ponter said...

One more thing, every time I posted I kept forgetting to ask this, Bristopoly, can you give me the source of that savvy quotation regarding the will of God and the alleged invention by Amyraldians and Arminians. I know you said you know who posted it, but I would like to check it out as best as I can. We know that without citations anyone can post anything as authoritative when it is not.

Btw, sorry for the typos in what I write. I am not writing on the fly and flapping quickly.

Thanks for your patience,
David

David Ponter said...

dang....

corection, I know you said you dont know who wrote it...

extremely self-abasingly sorry for my sloppiness.

David

bristopoly said...

David, if you will remember, I offered these sources because you wanted others who said things like I did. I made it real clear that they are not my sources for my conclusions. I did not say, "hey, all these guys say this so it must be true and all of their arguments are convincing and impeccable." I guess you will have to deal with my arguments if Skeats is unconvincing to you. Of course, I'm not quite sure what you would find convincing? What are you looking for? Give me an example, will you. The Bible is obviously not going to say, "malista means specifically," so what's the criteria? I really want to know what it would look like?
Poythress was actually one of my profs. I love him, but he's wrong here. You have to remember that he is committed to the Presbyterian idea of the lay elder and therefore he is predisposed to be adverse to Skeat's conclusions. Please read Marshall as well and perhaps he can give you more sources there. I don't have it in front of me, so I can't look at it myself. thanks again.

David Ponter said...

G'day there,

Hate to sound bullish, can you give me a url, or bibliographical reference for the savvy quotation. I am interested in that very much, even more than the malista issue.

Take care,
David

ErgunIsMyHero said...

Dr. Ascol and ynottony -

I have published my first question:

please see:

http://ergunismyhero.blogspot.com/

bristopoly said...

Here you go, David. I don't think this will help much as it didn't help me discover who said it, but anyway...

http://www76.pair.com/lbc/westminster/WSCShortComments/WSC103.htm

I did want to say something to something you said though. I didn't quote this as authoritative. I quoted because I thought it spoke to the issue. In that regard, it really wouldn't matter if my 5 year old said it. What is important is whether it is accurate or not. You don't think it is. I am in no position to argue with you since this area of historical theology is yours. In any case, I hope this helps.

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

OK this is weird. it keeps cutting off the last part of the url. Let me try this:

http://www76.pair.com/lbc/

then add

westminster/WSCShortComments

then add

/WSC103.htm

YnottonY said...

I have withdrawn from this present conversation. I have plenty of other things to do elsewhere at this time (regarding 2 Peter 3:9). My comments above regarding James White have resulted in arguments being made elsewhere. I will read and ponder some of the comments that have been made here on that same passage. I realize that there are questions that I have left unanswered, so I apologize for negligence. Nevertheless, I will try to seriously consider what was said and return to read what is here. I hope I haven't deliberately misrepresented people in what I have said above or in what follows here. If so, I ask your forgiveness.

In the meantime, I would like to post some things on the will of God. I posted this material last year on my blog:

Dabney and Other Theologians on Volitional Complexity in God

Quotes from R. L. Dabney, Charles Hodge, Paul Helm and John Frame are there. Here's one from Hodge:

"A judge may will the happiness of a man whom he sentences to death. He may will him not to suffer when he wills him to suffer. The infelicity in such forms of expression is that the word "will" is used in different senses. In one part of the sentence it means desire, and in the other purpose. It is perfectly consistent, therefore, that God, as a benevolent Being, should desire the happiness of all men, while he purposes to save only his own people."

Some people complain that there's a contradiction in the position that says that God wills what he does not will at the same time. The law of contradiction does not say that A cannot be both B and non-B at the same time. It says that A cannot be both B and non-B at the same time and in the same sense or relationship.

Anyone reading the bible has to say that God wills what is against his will. The key question here is whether or not God really wants the non-elect to comply with his commandment that they repent. Given what Bristopoly has said, I don't see how he could answer yes to that question. Either God wants or does not want compliance to what he has commanded. If he does not want compliance to what he has commanded, then what does that say about his character? Doesn't it suggest that he's a hypocritical commander because he seems to present himself as desiring the complaince of the disobedient?

Before we start to ask ourselves what is logical, it seems that we must first come to terms with what the bible says in totality. Does the bible in fact teach that God wills what he commands? Is he commanding all who hear the gospel call to repent and be saved? I think so.

I tend to doubt that the anonymous Bristopoly thinks that God desires the salvation of the non-elect (as Dr. Tom Ascol believes). One wonders if he thinks God sincerely wants the non-elect to repent.

I have heard that James White doesn't think that God desires to save the non-elect, but I don't want to go by hearsay testimony alone. He has read my question on that and has not answered for some reason.

If one thinks that God does not want/will/desire the salvation of the non-elect, then the theological and hermeneutical ramifications are quite profound.

While I have Bristopoly's 2 Peter 3:9 question about time in mind, I would like to say that I don't think that God is waiting for time to somehow produce a change in people. I think God gives room for all to repent because he's expressing his goodness. In delaying his judgment, he is expressing the perfections of his patience, forebearance, goodness, mercy etc. He is also determined to leave sinners without any excuse. Those who hear the gospel call really have a sufficient remedy available in Christ's satisfaction. God indescriminately promises forgiveness of sins for anyone who repents, even to the non-elect. The benefits of common grace are granted to them to stimulate them unto repentance, as Romans 2:4 suggests. In granting common grace to all, God is deliberately loving all with a view to spurring them to repentance. God didn't wait in the days of Noah merely so he could have time to build a boat. God waited in the days of Noah because he willed to be longsuffering and patient to give room for repentance. Noah was a prophet and told them to repent. He, by the Spirit of Christ in him, warned them to repent to escape coming wrath. I see 2 Peter 3 as referencing this same sense of patience in God today. That's how I would explain the time issue, but I doubt that will satisfy Bristopoly :-(

Grace to you,
Tony

bristopoly said...

Hi Tony,
You're right. I'm not satisfied.:) But here's a few reasons why:

I think this is what I mean by answering me philosophically. You just restated your position without dealing with the verses I gave you. You seemed to dismiss the verses as things that I believe in my own view, rather than statements made in Scripture. I asked for an explanation of these verses within your view. You told me a couple different times that you would answer these. You took time out to restate your position, why can't you take time out to explain these verses? You're objections are philosophically based on your confusing what God wants with Law and what God wants with Gospel. There is no need to come up with two different definitions of God's will which are conflicting. Does God want all people to obey His law and be/do what is good? Yes. Once they don't do that and are under judgment, does God want all people to turn and be saved from that judgment? Since the Scriptures I gave you say that He does such and such SO THAT THEY DO NOT TURN THAT I SHOULD HEAL THEM, then the answer is no. Do you have another answer for these verses? He wants some to be forgiven for their rebellion against what He commands in the Law and He wants some to be judged for their disobedience of His commands. There is no need here to accuse God of wrongdoing, frankly in an effort to poison the well, simply because you've confused law and gospel and the purposes of each. I think that is also assuming that God must want people to be forgiven according to His goodness. I see no logical reason why however. Why is a good Being obligated by His goodness to not punish evil? Why is He obligated to want everyone to escape the punishment for their evil? I don't get it I guess.

My argument of time in 2 Pet isn't really answered by stating that God is being patient to be benevolent. The text first says that He's being patient toward YOU. I know you don't like contextual arguments because for some odd reason you feel that they are trump cards, but context is king. I could gain a lot of different interpretations from what you've said if I ignored the context. I am amazed that you are one who wants so much precision when we discuss with one another, but won't allow for a thorough examination of the Biblical text. I read your "Contextual Cowpaddies" argument and it just seemed that you were arguing for "alternative" interpretations, which of course you would need then to dismantle the context in order to do leave it open for more interpretations. I see this as illogical and poor exegetical practice. I'm sorry if I've misconstrued what you were saying here. Let me know if this is not what you meant.

However, back to 2 Pet:
How would God be demonstrating a hope for everyone to be saved by waiting a longer time? God knows that time does not bring someone to Him. He does not offer more time to children, teenagers, 20 somethings, who die. Was He not being patient with them? Was He not wishing that they would be saved? As James White pointed out, the reason why time is mentioned here is because you are dealing with an eschatological passage answering the question, "Why has Christ delayed in coming?" Your answer about accountability has nothing to do with this verse. The passage is talking about God desiring those to come to repentance, not wishing any of them should perish. So it's about God wanted whoever these people are to be saved, not held accountable. I believe God gives no men excuse because of the law which is written within them, not because they are not given sufficient time. God knows that all time would produce is more sin. More sin would produce more condemnation. If God knows this, He is actually giving more rope for them to hang themselves with. That doesn't sound like the position of benevolence you're advocating. Time for the rebellious isn't a part of God's benevolence, but of His further judgment (and this passage is not about judgment, but the desire for salvation). I really don't think you can adopt this verse unless you, in a very contradictory way, adopt some free will idea that a man over time might repent (i.e., that time itself would create the chance that men might repent without God regnerating them to do so). There really is no other solidly Reformed answer to this passage, but that it cannot be speaking about those who will not repent, but about those who will (i.e., the elect).

And I hate to appeal to the context in 1 Pet, but the entire letter is about enduring suffering under the presence of the wicked in the world while God does His work with the redeemed. The patience of God in the days of Noah is clearly for Noah and his family in the context. He does not wipe out the world, but longsuffers it for the sake of Noah and the eight who are saved. Peter's exhortation then is that both Christ and ourselves will be patient with/tolerate the wicked world as it is while He saves/is saving His people. I'm not sure where you get the idea that God is patient because He is wanting to save the world around Noah. Note that the patience of God was waiting DURING THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE ARK. His patience, His not wiping out the world sooner, is due to His wanting the ark contructed so that the eight could be saved. To say otherwise is really reading a philosophical idea into the text that's not there.

I'll agree that there may be a way to differ on what "will" means. I just see that as more of a philosophical position once again and don't see that in the Scripture (I appreciate the theologians you mentioned, but I really want to deal with Scripture first since I am not an historical theologian and am not in the position to argue one way or the other about what they've said). It fails to explain the verses I gave and up to this point, I've not heard any exegetical, direct dealing with those verses. To me, Tony, these verses are more devestating to your position than trying to defend your interpretation of 2 Pet. Neither you nor David could answer these because they explicitly describe God's actions in the damnation of men for their rebellion as active, not passive. And your view seems to need a passive idea of God's dealings with the condemnation of the non-elect. I think that's my biggest problem with this position. It doesn't explain the numerous verses that describe God as doing things SO THAT THEY DO NOT REPENT.

I have to note again, Tony, that your comments was a lot of what you think and assume about God, but offered no Biblical support of those assumptions. I need people to give me arguments from the Bible, which the Bible is teaching. I think philosophy is interesting, but in the end, I've seen too many valid arguments/syllogisms that are Biblically/theologically untrue. That's why exegesis is so important. We're all going to be using logic in what we argue, but that logic needs to be from the Bible, not read into it. So far, I see a lot of maneuvering around context (or even the idea that context determines meaning) and ingoring of any verses that conflict with your position. If I'm wrong, please take the time to look at the verses or point me to someone in your camp who has dealt with them exegetically.

I know, Dr. White has you busy with other things, but I appreciate the time you've taken here to at least attempt an answer. I thought you had forgotten little ol' me for a minute.:)
take care,
bristopoly
(a.k.a., Bryan Hodge)

thunderbeard said...

i take it that no one cares about what a real neocalvinist is. i'll just retreat back to my little hole in the wall while you all keep trying to rehash the battles of the 16th century.

Jon Unyan said...

Bristopoly,

Well said. I've been wrestling through some of these issues of late as I have not wanted to minimize certain passages of Scripture (such as Heb.2:9) because of holding to a theological system. Your argumentation here has really articulated what I've been thinking and praying through. Certainly context is king with regard to hermenuetics. Thanks to you and Tony (and others)for the healthy debate.

God bless you, brethren

--Jon Unyan

bristopoly said...

Thanks for your encouragement, Jon. The Lord bless you.

David Ponter said...

Bristopoly said:

"Neither you nor David could answer these because they explicitly describe God's actions in the damnation of men for their rebellion as active, not passive. And your view seems to need a passive idea of God's dealings with the condemnation of the non-elect. I think that's my biggest problem with this position. It doesn't explain the numerous verses that describe God as doing things SO THAT THEY DO NOT REPENT."

I am not sure why you are trying to drag me into this alleged question of an alleged inability on the part of God. I never even raised that issue, never even hinted that I would try to deal with it. I never even read any comment regarding it before I first posted. And you imply that I am unable to deal with. Please dont do that, its not necessary.

I am more interested in the 'savvy quotation.' What bothers me there is that its another anomynous authority posted as if it has declarative authority. How does one engage in peer-review analysis of such a quotation?

The only way I could imagine how one could, apart from doing the same by merely asserting my own 'authority' which would be wrong, is by engaging pre-1620s Reformation theologians. And we would have to agree that men like Calvin and Bullinger were Reformed and so representative of Reformation theology.

Given that men like Calvin and Bullinger both held that God loves mankind and that this love induces God to seek the salvation of all mankind, here is a case of divine willing that does not fit into the narrow either/or categories of the Prostestant Scholastics (either decretive or preceptive). But you are not interested in historical theology, so there is no reason to continue the conversation.

Ps, as to malista, 2 things: which specific Marshall references do you have? And also I am also chatting with a greek prof over this. It will be interesting to see what he says.

But please dont drag me into conversations I am not in. Dont imply things not known by you, not even true. In other contexts I could be inclined to discuss those broader issues, but not here in this context, on someone else's blog.

Thanks,
David

bristopoly said...

David,

1. You brought yourself into this conversation. You asked me specific questions. Why should I be obligated to answer you? Courtesy. Why should you then in turn answer mine? I would think the same. You don't mind writing books of info on this blog, but for some reason you don't care to answer my questions? Fair enough.

2. You keep pressing this issue for some reason when I already stated that it was not quoted as a source of authority. I think you're pressing this because its the one thing you can answer. If you prove how wrong the quote is, then maybe you won't feel so bad about your position not holding so much biblically? I can't understand why you would be pressing this otherwise. Can you tell me?

Once again, I don't have Marshall's commentary in front of me. I think Knight in his commetary on the Pastorals also noted the use. If you can get a copy of either, just look at their discussions on the relevant verses we already noted. I wish I had access to an online library where I could check everything in an instant, but not all of us have such opportunities.

You: But please dont drag me into conversations I am not in. Dont imply things not known by you, not even true. In other contexts I could be inclined to discuss those broader issues, but not here in this context, on someone else's blog.

Maybe you can point me then to where these verses have been discussed exegetically, by your position, elsewhere?

I'm glad you're discussing this with a NT prof, but like I said: 1) If you're reliant on lexicons, then if he disagrees with you, will you believe him? and 2) I didn't appeal to special authority (something you seem to do an awful lot---historical theologians, lexicons, translations, your NT prof), so my arguments are substantive whether all your professors agree or not. I appreciate your pursuing the issue further however.

Finally, I never said I wasn't interested in historical theology. That's kind of backhanded, don't you think? It's kind of like saying "I can see you're not interested in climbing out of your limited little box." David, this is the stuff that is really not helpful: when we make up what others say, rather than dealing with what they've said. I said that I am not an expert and am not in the position to agree or disagree---the same thing you should have said to me if you weren't an expert in Biblical studies and lexicography. I can't believe that I was offering you up a note of humility on my part and you slammed me for it. Oh well, now that the slamming is out of the way, perhaps you can give me an exegetical argument concerning these texts?

Thanks again, brother. And I don't want this to sound like an issue we ought to divide over. I can't for the life of me see why this should divide our fellowship and ministries, can you? So I don't want anyone to think this is an issue of heresy vs orthodoxy. Do you think it is?

David Ponter said...

G'day Bristopoly,

Oh man, there is so much in what you said I could reply to. You had me chuckling at times. :-)

We could shoot back and forth shots of defence and attack, but there is no point.

Ill try and explain a few things so that you may be able to know where I coming from.

Its funny. The first thing the prof did when I mentioned that you discarded the A&G readings on malista was to roll his eyes. :-) It didnt look well for your take. :-)

Lets just leave me out of conversations I am not involved in. And I say this because have you ever been in a conversation where you felt like you were in a leaky boat? You answer one point, or just try to focus on one, but then another point, quite disparate, is drawn into the discussion, and then another. Thats what I feel is happening here. Im more interested in first nailing down chewable bits first and then move on to the next topic.

Also I think I am rather more Kuhnian than most folk. I sense in you that you actually have a whole lot more 'systematic' theological categories operating in your thought structures than you may think. So when I read it, I see that its really a problem of clashing paradigms, not a verse here or a verse there, not even biblical theology versus systematic theology. So unweaving all the mutual assumptions in our respective paradigms will take a lot of time.

Further, this forum just screams to me as the wrong place. There is so much for potential misunderstanding. And its forum that belongs to someone else. I have no idea how Tom feels about an extended, potentially empassioned discussion.

By empassioned, look at this. You say this regarding my motives:

"I think you're pressing this because its the one thing you can answer. If you prove how wrong the quote is, then maybe you won't feel so bad about your position not holding so much biblically? I can't understand why you would be pressing this otherwise. Can you tell me?"

Do you see, youve attributed cowardly motives to me. You have not thought the best of me, but something less than the best. Youve done this a few times now. Eg, its a case that I _could_ not answer your question. This you have just reasserted, and without warrant as I see it. But it is funny, it did make me laugh. :-)

I hope you can see this. Thats why my gut tells me so strongly its not worth it. I am not interested in either of us attacking one another's motives.

As to the other stuff, I was only trying to bring you up to speed on how far Ive gotten... but now I am shooting off defensive remarks...

If you want to email feel free: Flynn000@bellsouth.net

Just leave me out of stuff I am not involved in.

Take care,
David

bristopoly said...

Fair enough, David. I weep over the idea that your NT prof thinks BAGD is infallible (what revision does he use? does he know that it was recently updated because of the recognition that it was not linguistically up to par?). Is A&G the Australian way of referring to BAGD or are you using one from the fifties?:) For some reason I am hesitant to place my academic confidence in someone who rolls his eyes before he hears evidence presented. That's just me.

I think I only attributed motive to you when you kept pressing a point about the quote when I told you on several occasions that I did not quote it as a source of authority. You continued to hound me on it. I figured there was no other motive for such a thing. I apologize if there is some other reason.

I have to laugh myself at the idea that I'm working off of systematics when I'm the one in this conversation that has gone to the texts lexically and contextually. I know you feel that you need to nail down a single issue, but that's all and good while it places me in the defensive (having to defend what I said), but places you always on the offense (you don't have to defend a position on the relevant texts I pointed out). If you look, David, you never defended the position that malista means "especially." You just appealed to special authority. Therefore, you never had to be placed on the defensive for your position (you just assumed it). I think everyone can see here what really is going on.

Finally, I have to mention this, I'm not a 5 point Calvinist. So on texts like 1 Tim 4:10 and such, I don't really have a bias except that I think the Biblical text should be handled appropriately (this is not talking about propitiation, but salvation). I believe that, where two or three are gathered in His name around the Scripture, you have the Church as well, but I wouldn't use Matt 18 to justify it. So I'm more concerned about abuses of the text than just making some argument that uses the texts to support my preconceived ideas.
Until this conversation, I was unaware of any position like yours. I was open to it. Who wouldn't be when it expresses the love of God for everyone in desiring everyone to be saved? But you have not given sufficient arguments from the text. You have not demolished my arguments. In fact, you haven't really dealt with them at all (I'll note again that you didn't even take time to read Phil 4:22, so that you got what it was saying backward). You really didn't even touch them except to appeal to numerous logical fallacies (appeal to special authority, ad hominem, strawmen, etc.). You can blame my comments on emotion and I guess that makes my position the wrong one somehow, but in the end such is not well reasoned exegesis if you are going to establish a position one way or the other. And again, I think your reading too much "passion" into my comments here. You should think the best of me and take me as direct, but not emotional. Again, I have no reason to be emotional, and I think once again this is a red herring to detract from what has been presented (that's not a judge of your motive, it's an observation---this takes us away from the issues). It's funny that you want to remain so firmly on an issue and then detract from it with these statements of how "empassioned" I'm getting. Can you see this and at least laugh at the irony?
Again, however, this is not a matter of orthodoxy vs heresy, nor does it really effect much that I can see in one's ministry, so there is no reason to get "empassioned." I'm sorry you don't feel it's worth it. Can you point me to someone who has dealt with the verses I mentioned, so I can read him and gain some understanding? That's really only question I hope for you to answer at this point? I don't have the desire to go back and forth on the emotion thing. thanks again.

YnottonY said...

Bristopoly said:
"Finally, I have to mention this, I'm not a 5 point Calvinist."

What do you mean by saying that you are NOT a 5 point Calvinist? What point(s) do you have a issues with? Why?

Also, you said:
"I'm not sure where you get the idea that God is patient because He is wanting to save the world around Noah. Note that the patience of God was waiting DURING THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE ARK. His patience, His not wiping out the world sooner, is due to His wanting the ark contructed so that the eight could be saved."

NKJ 1 Peter 3:20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.

In this passage, Peter is saying that God waited in the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared. It does NOT say that God only waited so that the ark could be prepared. That's being imposed on the passage. Now, before you retort and say that "the passage doesn't say that God waited during the construction of the ark so that the world could be saved," I need to add that I didn't appeal to that passage to prove that point. You referenced it as if it proves your point, i.e. that God only waited because he wanted to save the eight. Such an inference is not warranted from the passage itself. That's a systematic assumption of yours.

Bristopoly,
I frankly have a hard time believing that you believe in common grace and/or the universal love of God, even though you said that you did. I could easily transform myself into a Protestant Reformed hyper-Calvinist for the sake of argument and propose that what you call love is really hate. The good things that God gives to the non-elect are further rope to hang themselves with. I could say, "sure, the water and rain they receive are intrisically good, but they're only given to them with hateful motives. God just wants to heat hell hotter for them when he gives them good things."

To illustrate my point, I may just become a PRC hyper when engaging you theologically. I don't yet see how you could thwart their conclusions, but I don't know enough about you yet. You are only starting to reveal yourself little by little, such as in saying you're not a 5 point Calvinist now.

There is some theological conflict between us because we're functioning with different paradigms. The issues are not as simple as going to various passages and examing the "bare facts" of the grammar etc. There are significant theological assumptions undergirding our differing viewpoints.

For instance, I keep proposing that God wants us to keep his commandments. You say that I am confusing the Law/Gospel distinction. I'm not confusing the law/gospel distinction. I'm just saying that God commands all men everywhere to repent. That commandment is distinct to the gospel call, but it's still a commandment. And, being a sincere commandment, God wants compliance of all those commanded. It seems to me that you deny that point. I have yet to get any indication from you that God wants compliance to gospel commandments. As I said above, that seems to entail that God is a hypocritical commander. Either he does or does not want compliance to gospel commands. Which is it for you?

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

NKJ 1 Peter 3:20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.

This passage says the following:

1) Some humans now in prison were disobedient in Noah's day

2) God waited when the ark was being prepared

3) 8 souls were saved through water by means of the ark

That's it. In that passage, I see no discussion of God's motive(s) as to why he waited, either to:

1) only save the elect 8

or

2) to save the world

#1 and #2 cannot be inferred from that verse alone. You put a spin on it as if God ONLY (as if it was his exclusive motive) waited so that the 8 could be saved by means of the ark. Your system is telling you that, and not the text.

I say that just to clarify my point above, in case it wasn't clear.

bristopoly said...

Hi Tony,

When I say I’m not a 5 point Calvinist, I mean that I still hold to unlimited atonement, but am working to see if my view on that is consistent with the rest. I don’t believe in unlimited atonement as an Arminian defines it (not for the purposes the Arminian sees). So I am still working on my view of that whole thing: whether Christ’s sacrifice is a provision for anyone and actual payment for the elect or ONLY an actual payment for the elect. I say that then because I’m not committed to interpreting a passage either way. I want to go where the text goes. I see a good argument in 1 Jn 2:2, but know that there are good arguments the other way as well (definition of “world” in John, the us meaning Apostles in the context, etc.). The provision is not because God wants all men saved, however (I don't see that in the verses taken out of context usually), but for the purpose of giving no excuse. But, like I said, I probably need to have a good debate on that with someone knowledgable in that area, so I can see if there are major flaws there.

Let me be clear on the 1 Pet passage. I am inferring that the waiting is for the purpose of the preparation of the elect for salvation from the context of 1 Pet. I stated that this is the entire theology of the letter. So I did not infer that patience is for the elect from my systematics. I have preached through this text and have written a paper on this specific passage in seminary, so I guess I just assumed the context. You seem to want to just rip the verse out and say, “well, that’s not explicit here.” OK. I agree. It’s not explicit there (although I don’t believe spirits in this passage is talking about humans, but the angels who were cast into hell ---according to 2d Temple theology--- during the time of Noah. The proclamation is one of victory, not a salvific offering to people in hell, but that’s another issue). So I don’t see either in the passage or in the context of the passage, God waiting for people to repent. I do see Him in the OT wait until people’s sins are complete before judging them, but that’s not a hope for them to repent. It seems like more criteria for Him to base the justification of His judgment upon them. Once again, that’s not the argument of 2 Pet though. 2 Pet is about salvation, not judgment.
Furthermore, if you look at Gen 6, God is waiting to destroy the world. He wants to judge the world, but is waiting while the Ark is constructed. So the waiting is based on the eight for whom the Ark is being built. He's tolerating the wicked until the Ark is finished. He then is going to wipe them out.
So there is both the letter's and narrative/background context of what Peter is saying. All that to say that you cannot use this then as a prooftext that God wants all men to be saved and is patient toward them. You're not only reading that into the passage, you're reading it againt the context.

You said, “Bristopoly,
I frankly have a hard time believing that you believe in common grace and/or the universal love of God, even though you said that you did. I could easily transform myself into a Protestant Reformed hyper-Calvinist for the sake of argument and propose that what you call love is really hate. The good things that God gives to the non-elect are further rope to hang themselves with. I could say, "sure, the water and rain they receive are intrisically good, but they're only given to them with hateful motives. God just wants to heat hell hotter for them when he gives them good things."

Well this might be a problem with not dealing with the text again and just trying to lump people into boxes. You seem to be worried about not becoming something. Where as I am worried about not engaging the text. I think that is the main systematic presup that we have conflict on here. AND using language like this of your opponents position is not helpful. Ultimately, if my view is correct, you just committed blasphemy. I would wait on the judgments concerning those things before such indictments are brought down.

Notice that I never said that God gives good gifts to give them more rope with which to hang themselves. I said, God knowing time does not turn men, but only corrupts them further, could not be then offering up more time with a hope that men might repent (that sounds almost Open-Theist to me). I said, if anything, it gives them more rope with which to hang themselves. I believe God gives good gifts to all mankind to demonstrate His goodness and love, and, in the face of that goodness and love, men rebel and do evil against Him anyway. He then is under no obligation to desire for them to escape judgment. And frankly, Tony, I’m not really seeing how your view makes Him less “hateful” toward men if in fact He knows all who will rebel as well as knowing that they will not accept the Gospel call, but then lets them live out more sin and hear the Gospel so as to be damned all the more when they reject it. How is that loving according to your definition of love? More time and hearing the Gospel is going to place them in a far worse condemnation than before.

I think we’re functioning off of different views of love as well here. What is your definition of love? Does God ever take it away? If He does, does He no longer wish men to be saved in your view? Does that mean He no longer loves? This seems worse than what I am saying? If goodness always implies God desiring for people to be saved, then I’m not sure how you answer the verses I gave you above (which I’ll note again that they have not been answered). Goodness to me is connected to either justice or mercy. So I see God as capable in His love to go either way. He does good to all men. They rebel. His goodness does not imply that He must have mercy, since it also allows Him to desire justice instead. You’re creating a dilemma for yourself that does not allow you to even consider the point. You already assume that if God does not desire for all men to be saved, then He is not good and therefore a monster. I don’t share those limitations in my definition of good or even of love, so I’m not really bound in such a way here.

You said: "There is some theological conflict between us because we're functioning with different paradigms. The issues are not as simple as going to various passages and examing the "bare facts" of the grammar etc. There are significant theological assumptions undergirding our differing viewpoints."

Is this the postmodern way of not having to deal with the passages I gave you?:) I'd be more inclined to accept this if all that split us on the passages was differing avenues of exegesis, but I haven't seen any yet. The one thing that I'm glad you did with 1 Pet is look to what the verse says and does not say. Unfortunately, you did not get your theological idea (that God is being patient toward the non-elect because He wants them saved) from either the passage or the context of the passage. I also have not yet received differing exegesis on the hardening passages I cited explaining why people in those texts don't believe.

You said,"For instance, I keep proposing that God wants us to keep his commandments. You say that I am confusing the Law/Gospel distinction. I'm not confusing the law/gospel distinction. I'm just saying that God commands all men everywhere to repent. That commandment is distinct to the gospel call, but it's still a commandment. And, being a sincere commandment, God wants compliance of all those commanded. It seems to me that you deny that point. I have yet to get any indication from you that God wants compliance to gospel commandments. As I said above, that seems to entail that God is a hypocritical commander. Either he does or does not want compliance to gospel commands. Which is it for you?"

This is kind of over simplifying things here. I want to step back and ask why God wants us to comply to commands. Why? Because He desires good (that's "good" the way I defined it above) and not evil. Does He want all men to do good? Yes. Does that mean once they do evil that He wants all men to escape the judgment for that evil? You need to answer the verses I gave you and give me an exegetically valid reason for still saying "Yes."
I guess what I see here is that the blinding of the non-elect SO THAT they do not repent is the beginning of their judgment for their sin. Do you have a view of judgment that is merely eschatological? Do you see that God wants in judgment that men do not comply to the invitation to be forgiven as a part of their judgment?

I'm just rambling here, so if I'm unclear then let me know so I can clarify. But please don't charge me with saying that my view of God's love and goodness is hate and evil. That sounds a lot like the Arminian outrage toward the doctrines of grace because they don't allow for a broader use and application of love and goodness.

thanks again, Tony, I look forward to whether or not we've come closer to common agreement on some things or not.

YnottonY said...

Either God does or does not want compliance to gospel commands. Which is it for you?

You seem to not think that God EVER wants compliance to gospel commands from the non-elect. It's one thing to think that at one point he does, but then works to judge the disobedient if they do not comply at another point (I wouldn't have a problem with that). I don't see that you affirm that God EVER, at any point, wants the non-elect to comply with his gospel commands.

In your view, does God EVER, at any point in history, desire/want or will that at that the non-elect comply with GOSPEL commandments?

I am about to go into work, so I will just remark on this issue briefly.

YnottonY said...

Just to clarify while I have a few minutes before work:

1) I do not say that God EQUALLY loves all. There is a special love for the elect that issues in an efficacious application of Christ's satisfaction to them alone via the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.

2) I do believe that God can take away some sense of his love from some, according to Hosea 9:15.

3) I believe that God can work against and actively harden the disobedient so that they don't receive the knowledge of the truth. He blinds their eyes and sends them strong delusions. I just don't think this idea negates that God wants compliance, at some point, from the non-elect with respect to gospel commandments. The idea that I am rejecting is that God AT NO POINT wants gospel compliance from the non-elect. He wants them to believe in Christ and repent at some point.

bristopoly said...

Hi Tony,
Thanks so much for answering. I think we finally have come to an interpretation of the Scriptures I gave you. It seems that you are saying that you do now believe that God does not want the compliance of all men AT ALL TIMES, but rather that He hardens them after their decision to not accept the Gospel, is that right? So these verses are talking about God hardening, so that they do not believe and repent, as a judgment for their initial disbelief? I think this is a viable option, and I really appreciate the answer as an attempt to deal with the Scripture, but have some concerns for it below which maybe you can answer for me?

1. I'm not sure if your view has God changing His mind (and then smacking against His immutability). Can you see if this might be a problem for your answer?
God wants these to be saved. Then He changes His mind because of their lack of faith in an initial gospel call. I realize God redirects His favor upon someone, but I would say that this turn of events occurs because of His divine will, not in a change of it.

2. If you are saying that God initially wants men to comply at some time to the gospel command, but then may not after their rejection of the initial call, how does that destroy the whole ethos of the argument you have been making?

The argument has been
A. that God would be a hypocrite for commanding something that He does not want compliance on. But He would still be commanding them to believe whenever they heard the Gospel, not just the first time. So does God then not want compliance after they reject the Gospel? How does that work against the "God as hypocrite" argument?

B. If the goodness of God is connected to His desire for everyone to be saved, and He after they reject initially, then no longer desires them to be saved (and actively works against it), then is He no longer good?

So adoption of the view that God at ANY TIME (i.e., that He does not AT ALL TIMES desire compliance) destroys the two objections above. What is left to the argument then?

I think a more consistent Biblical stance is just to back up one command (i.e., the point of judgment is not after the Gospel command, but at the Gospel command---so that they do not repent and believe). Your just making it one command later after the Gospel command, but it still runs into the objections you initially cited.

Does the idea that God, as though in time, wants/wills salvation to occur in all people until He sees their action of rejection, hold up to Rom 9?

"10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived [twins] by one man, our father Isaac; 11 for though [the twins] were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to [His] choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, "The older will serve the younger." 13 Just as it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." 14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16 So then it [does] not [depend] on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth." 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. 19 You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?" 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And [He did so] to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 [even] us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles."

It seems here that He chooses from His will before anything is done good or bad. Now He knows all will rebel against Him, so this choosing is about who He will have mercy on and who He will harden (i.e., who is chosen to believe/be forgiven for their rebellion and who is chosen to not believe/not be forgiven for their rebellion. So the decisions for both seem to be coming from His eternal decree and will/desire, not as a result of some unbelief that occurs in time. The text seems to indicate that this choosing (having mercy or hardening) is not based on the person, but on God's desires.

Thanks again, Tony. I appreciate now that we are at least alluding to the text. God bless.

YnottonY said...

Bryan,

At this point I believe you are engaging in evasive moves. I have asked this question several times.

In your view, does God EVER, at any point in history, desire/want or will that at that the non-elect comply with GOSPEL commandments?

When I feel like I am trying to pull teeth just to get an idea where someone else is at theologically by asking questions, I would rather withdraw from the conversation.

Your questions above seem to indicate a no answer. In fact, your comments above would seem to indicate that you don't think the elect were ever under God's wrath since that would entail mutation in God. Also, in some of what you say, you're putting words into my mouth.

At this point, you would be better off interacting with someone else. I no longer think it's worth spending my time here.

Farewell Bryan,
Tony

bristopoly said...

Tony,

You said "In fact, your comments above would seem to indicate that you don't think the elect were ever under God's wrath since that would entail mutation in God."

You clearly do not understand what I said. God does whatever He wants to do. He has wrath upon all sin because He is good. He wants compliance to His commands to do good because He is good. He is angry when people do not comply. That has nothing to do with whether He chooses to have mercy before the foundation of the world, knowing their sin and the wrath He would have against it. So I don't think you get the difference between God wanting a person to be saved from sin that He is angered by and God no wanting a person to escape the punishment of His wrath.

I'm sad to see you withdraw from the conversation when I thought we were making progress toward the text. Your response is much like one who is arguing from the noetic effects of the Fall rather than from the text. I have repeatedly tried to move us to the text. You have repeatedly tried to move us away from it so that we engage each other on systematic "positions" we might hold to. I honestly have never made up my mind on whether God does or does not ever want compliance to the Gospel invitation in the "hopes" that the non-elect might be saved. Do you understand that I want to work through the texts? You seem to not want to deal with them and are aboslutely determined to hold your position NO MATTER WHAT. At this point, it has become clear to me that there are two attitudes in this conversation. Mine is that I could go either way based upon the Biblical evidence. Yours is that you can only go one way and refuse to go the other. It's sort of like talking to a Roman Catholic on an issue which the Church has declared official. There is no way the RC will agree with you no matter what you present. I find the same to be true here.
You act as though, if one were to conclude that God's judgment of the non-elect does include God not wanting them to turn, that that would be a horrific heresy. Who can argue against such an attitude. Perhaps, you think you would have to take on a view that you have demonized, so you just are unable to go there. I can explain no other reason for such resistance. You ask me questions. I try to answer you with "what does the Scripture say" (I'm pretty sure that's how Jesus answered. I don't think I'm out of line there). You instead want a systematic theological position. You want me to have a dogmatism on a dogma I do not yet hold dogmatically. I think we have to go to the Scripture to get our systematic theology, not start with certain philosophical presuppositions about God first and then try to cram the Bible into them. That's what I meant before when I said systematics tends to be eisegetical.

I don't see then how I have been evasive when I am trying to work through the passages. I offered you Scripture to answer. You have not offered alternate answers except with a view that would conflict with Rom 9.
Perhaps, it's not worth it for you because you're not used to being challenged by the Scripture, but instead engage people on philosophical grounds. I think philosophically you could probably make a lot of sense and run over other positions. The problem is the weakness of your position is exposed, not by mere logic or systematics, but by the verses that contradict your position.

BTW, I view the statement "not worth it," which I also received from David as a nice way of flipping someone off. It's very derogatory and demeans the other persons humanity as though they're not worth your time. In the future, I would simply just appreciate a "I can't answer your questions. I haven't worked all that out. I don't know. Maybe you should talk to someone else who has worked that out. It's so deep I have to recommend this book to you instead, etc." Rather than implying it's due to some evasiveness on my part. Give me a break. I asked you in almost every response I gave to deal with these texts. When you (apparently) just stumble onto their ground and I call you on it, you suddenly want to retreat from the conversation. Fair enough. I'll let any who are still here judge for themselves, however, who has been evasive.

I pray that eventually whichever of these ideas are true, yours or mine, that God would bring us all into the truth for His kingdom and glory.

Faretheewell.

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

I just caught up with this thread. I really thought this exchange had the potential to become fruitful until one party insulted the other and suddenly withdrew.

My understanding of God’s will is very similar to yours, Bryan, although my thoughts are not so well articulated. I was able to follow your responses and learned a few things. So please do not regard your time spent in discussion as a total loss. It must have been infuriating for you to spend so much time on thoughtful dialogue only to be abandoned. I too, was frustrated by the abrupt “You are not worthy of interaction with me” departure.

It seems that Tony was pitting the verse in Ephesians about the “children of wrath” against the rest of Scripture. In isolation, this verse seems to say that God elects individuals at a certain point in their lives at which they move from wrath to grace. But rest of Scripture (including that same epistle) clearly teaches that God’s choice took place before time began. The apparent contradiction is resolved if we understand that Paul is speaking about our salvation from the perspective of human experience. So I look back at my (walking-corpse) life of unbelief and say, “I was a child of wrath, just like the rest.” I deserved the same wrath that they now receive. I am no different from them. The only difference between the children of wrath and me is the sovereign grace of God.

If Tony wants to bring up this subject again then I submit that he pick up this conversation where he left off. No more tossing philosophical sticks into the spokes of the wheels of Berean conversation. If a system cannot be tested by Scripture, then it is unacceptable.

YnottonY said...

Andrew,

Apperently you misunderstood my point about the passage in Ephesians. I was not saying that "God elects individuals at a certain point in their lives at which they move from wrath to grace." My point is that the eternally elect individuals pass through various stages in history, i.e. from a state of being under God's wrath to a state of peace with him. This idea no more negates the immutability of God than the idea that God desires the salvation of the non-elect at some point in history, and then finally withdraws his loving appeals to them when they disobey. If we push a scholastic view of God's immutability too far, then we can end up thinking that the elect are eternally justified and the non-elect are never loved. That which transpires in history is made unreal.

It's not merely that we perceive that we were once under God's wrath, but we actually were just as Paul clearly says. This is not just his perspective based on experience. It's the Holy Spirit's perspective as he speaks through Paul. It's God's perspective and description of our pre-conversion state.

Now, even though I am not a high Calvinist, I know that they are even willing to say that God wills the salvation of all. It was the hyper-Calvinists who have denied this historically. Their denial stems from the eclipsing of the revealed will by the decretal will. The revealed will is no longer a "will" at all. Eventually, some of them relate our duty to the secret will, instead of the revealed. When asked if God wills for us to obey him when we disobey, they deny that he does. Think about that carefully. Think about the implications of saying that God does not will for men to obey him when men disobey. That is patently unbiblical and antinomian. God plainly declares that he requires all who hear the external call of the gospel to repent and believe in Jesus Christ. This is called the will of God. Who are we to deny that he wills that the non-elect repent and believe? I admit that I am sickened by any kind of theology that suggests that he doesn't want their compliance at any point.

There's a reasons why I withdrew from the conversation. First, there are no controls in this kind of context. Anonymous people can come out of the woodwork and claim anything without being held accountable. They might even pretend to be something they are not.

All kinds of misrepresentations can occur as well. For example, if I say that we are all biased in coming to the text of scripture in order to deal with a priori or presuppositional issues, then I am misconstrued as being epistemologically postmodern. If one appeals to some lexicon, they are represented as if they are implying the lexicon is "infallible." If I say that the elect were once under the wrath of God when in unbelief, then I am represented as saying that they were elected in time. If I attempt to withdraw from the conversation before things get out of control, then I am represented as if I am saying "You are not worthy of interaction with me.”

These sorts of misrepresentative comments can easily occur on a blog, but not in a more controlled context. I am inclined to believe that even the things I say in this post will be miscontrued, but I can do nothing about that here. The wise thing to do in such contexts is to simply withdraw, especially when it is not my blog but Dr. Tom Ascol's. If people would like to discuss these issues elsewhere, then I would invite them to join us on the Calvin and Calvinism list. Such formats are much better to carry on prolonged and indepth theological conversations.

Ascol agrees with my position that God desires the salvation of the non-elect in the revealed will of God, but purposes to save the elect alone in the secret will. Historic Calvinists, whether high or moderate, have agreed on that point. Even Turretin and Owen (strict particularist Calvinists) agreed that God wills the salvation of the non-elect. John Calvin's own view is quite clear and beyond dispute. It's the hypers who have historically disagreed and say that God has no desire to save the non-elect, just as I stated above. Even though Ascol agrees with me, I don't think he has time to moderate the comments that are made here (and hold people accountable to answer questions). Since that is the case, I would rather move on. I attempted to do that in a good way, but the misrepresentations persist, unfortunately.

I would ask that the provocative comments and misrepresentions stop. If you would like to talk to other people, then feel free to do that. There's no need to continue to ask me questions after I withdraw, as Bryan did above. Let it go. Drop it and move on.

Tony

Andrew said...

Tony said:
"It's not merely that we perceive that we were once under God's wrath, but we actually were just as Paul clearly says. This is not just his perspective based on experience. It's the Holy Spirit's perspective as he speaks through Paul. It's God's perspective and description of our pre-conversion state."

I probably don’t understand your point on the Ephesians passage. But I think I understand your interpretation of it, and I disagree. God’s wrath is directed at uncovered sin. The sin of the elect is paid in full at the cross. God will chasten the elect because of His love for them, but if He poured out one drop of wrath against COVERED sin then that would demonstrate that Christ’s blood is not a sufficient propitiation of wrath.

My view of plenary verbal inspiration allows human authors to describe their salvation experience from their own perspective. There are so many examples of this in the NT that you can hardly get through a chapter without coming across one. Just try reading the NT while repeating your statement, "It's the Holy Spirit's perspective as he speaks through Paul." after each verse. Any view that does not allow for a human perpective is absurd.

Are you returning to the converstaion or not? I think you want to leave only if others abide by your terms.

First you said:

“At this point, you would be better off interacting with someone else. I no longer think it's worth spending my time here.”

This are your departing/concluding words. You weighed “interaction with someone else” versus the “worth of spending your time here”. If I misunderstood you, then please accept my apology. Because it sure sounded like you were saying, “Dialog with Bryan is not worth my time. I will find someone else who is.” I am glad to know that is not what you actually meant.

Then you said:
“There's a reasons why I withdrew from the conversation. First, there are no controls in this kind of context. Anonymous people can come out of the woodwork and claim anything without being held accountable. They might even pretend to be something they are not.”
And:
“These sorts of misrepresentative comments can easily occur on a blog, but not in a more controlled context.”
And:
“Even though Ascol agrees with me, I don't think he has time to moderate the comments that are made here (and hold people accountable to answer questions).”

I’m not sure why these reasons for withdrawal wouldn’t also apply to the preceding dialogue and to blogging in general. It seems inconsistent. The topic of the original post centered on the distinctives of Calvinism vs. Hyperism. This discussion seems germane to Tom’ post, and he encourages discussion within stated guidelines. However, I will of course give you the benefit of the doubt and respect your reasons for withdrawal.

You also said:
“There's no need to continue to ask me questions after I withdraw, as Bryan did above”

I find that claim to fall somewhere between ridiculous and unfair. You demand that Bryan answer your questions and engage in sincere multi-leveled interaction with him, and then slam the door shut. Now it’s “Hey com’on you guys. Quit asking me questions.” I’m not going to take offense on Bryan’s behalf. But if he chooses to add some concluding thoughts and take-away questions, he should not be hindered from doing so.

“I attempted to do that in a good way, but the misrepresentations persist, unfortunately.
I would ask that the provocative comments and misrepresentations stop.”

I’ll go out on a limb and assert that it is moderator’s prerogative to determine whether to allow “provocative comments” on his own blog. This is a standard I can hold to consistently. It sounds as though you want to moderate this blog for him (according to your preferences). You decide when a conversation must end, and then even after you leave we may interact with what you’ve already posted only if according to your guidelines. Surely that is not your intention, but that’s exactly how it sounds.

That “misrepresentations persist” is an empty assertion until you provide a new example. All of the ones you mentioned (“infallible lexicon”, “postmodern epistemology”, “not worthy of interaction”) have been clarified and corrected.

As for the “Calvin and Calvinism” list, I don’t know where to find it and I will only go there if you have actually dealt with the texts the Bryan repeatedly put before you. If you have dealt with those texts in a meaningful and exegetical way then just post the link and I’m there. I’ve read enough philosophical objections and I (like him) want to see how your position deals with Scripture.

YnottonY said...

I posted the link to the Calvin and Calvinism list above. See the blue underlined words.

Here it is again:

Calvin and Calvinism
^^Click on that

Feel free to start a new discussion thread there and/or ask a question.