November 30, 2006

"Eisegesis Gets Nasty" or "Arminians Gone Wild"

Perhaps I wasn't watching closely enough, but I don't remember any time in my life when the Calvinism/Arminianism debate has burned so hotly with such nasty, unChristlike rhetoric. It shocked me some years ago when a man desiring to become a preacher told me that he had never heard Calvinism presented and defended in a way that was God-honoring. My understanding of Calvinism is that it is a systematic theology that seeks to give all the glory to God (soli Deo gloria!), so I had trouble getting my mind around his objection.

Now, quite a few years later, I see a tremendous effort underway, especially in the Southern Baptist Convention, to discredit and destroy men who preach Calvinistic doctrine from the pulpits of their churches. Yes, I intentionally said that the effort is an attempt to destroy the men who preach this doctrine—not an effort to overcome the doctrine itself through valid debate.

The action on the part of these vocal Arminians (most of whom will not own up to the title) that causes me to say that they are attacking the men (ad hominem) rather than the doctrine is that they are intentionally misrepresenting the claims of Calvinism to make it appear to be a wholly vile theological system that makes God into a monster. If these men are not intentionally lying about Reformed theology and what it proclaims, then they are terribly incompetant and our concerns should rest more fully on our seminaries than on them. Many Reformed brethren have chosen to give these men the benefit of the doubt and say that they just simply don't understand what Calvinism stands for and therefore cannot explain it properly to their people. But several exchanges over the past few years have led me to believe that this is an intentional campaign to spread lies about the beliefs of Calvinists with the intention of removing the very possibility of valid consideration of these doctrines from the minds of their hearers. These men have seen that they cannot defend their Arminian position from scripture, which opens the people in their congregation up to the possibility of accepting Calvinist teachings since Calvinists tend to present their beliefs with a solid biblical exegetical hermeneutic. Bible believers are persuaded by the clear text of scripture, so to keep their people from considering the clear text of scripture these Arminian church leaders are making a monstrous caricature of Calvinism to scare their people away from the text of Scripture.

This activity has been demonstrated over the past five or so years by the somewhat famous anti-Calvinism rants and publications by such notables as Dave Hunt (What Love Is This?) and Norman Geisler (Chosen But Free). Just this year another example came from the horrific saga of the "Calvinism and Baptists" debate that was to take place on the campus of Liberty University and the Thomas Road Baptist Church. President Ergun Caner of Liberty Theological Seminary has shown himself to be virulently anti-Calvinist, even proclaiming that Calvinists are more dangerous than radical Muslims. Doctor Caner agreed to debate James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries about this topic after Dr. White called him on the carpet for making such terrible statements. When a debate was finally arranged, Dr. Caner's side continually reneged on its commitments and continually misrepresented the negotiations with the intent of making James White the fallguy for the debacle. The entire e-mail exchange leading up to the debate and its eventual cancelation is available in PDF format for those who want to know the truth.

Why am I bringing this up at this time?

The most recent example of horrific (and I believe intentional) misrepresentation of Calvinistic doctrine was recently posted at The Christian Index by Interim Pastor Nelson Price of Marietta, Georgia. What follows is an example Mr. Price has used from the pulpit of his church and is presented in this Christian Index article:

A mass of people are gathered at a bus stop marked “Planet Earth.” Along comes the Celestial Bus marked “Destination Heaven.” It pulls up and stops. The driver, who is God, opens the door, and says, “All destined for heaven get on board.” A number do. A missionary couple who with zeal have served Christ all their lives start on and God says, “Step aside. You haven’t been chosen to ride this bus.” A couple of infants start on and God tells them to step aside. Persons who from youth have loved and ministered in Christ’s name are told to step aside. As the bus is about to depart and the door is closing God says to those not on board, “Catch the next bus.” “No,” they plead, “here comes the next bus and it is driven by Satan and marked ‘Destination Hell.’”

“Sorry,” says God. “I didn’t choose to save you. Your love and commitment to Jesus doesn’t matter.”

Such intentional misrepresentation is inexcusable. We must pray that God will convict the hearts of these men before they cause any more damage to the members of their flock who have been placed in their care.

More blog-chatter about Norman Price's example:

Angelz cartoon answer to the whole thing. Check out Angelz' blog "Torched by an Angel—it's a good one.

Effectual Grace - Thursday

The Holy Spirit Saves

Scripture shows that each member of the Trinity is involved in the work of salvation. The dispensing of efficacious grace (grace that has an effect) is the work of the Spirit. This is sometimes known as "the Holy Spirit's call" and the famous TULIP version is "Irresistible Grace."

Effectual Grace from the text of Scripture

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
Romans 8:14

For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
1 Corinthians 2:10–13

November 29, 2006

Particular Redemption - Wednesday

Jesus actually saves

The Scriptures describe the end intended and accomplished by Christ's work as the full salvation of his people (actual reconciliation, justification, and sanctification):

Definite Atonement/Particular Redemption from the text of Scripture

She will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save His people from their sins.
—Matthew 1:21
italics added for emphasis

November 28, 2006

Their foolish minds were darkened

This article took me by surprise. I realize that people promote the theory of evolution with passion, but I truly did not realize that they actually view their theory as more worthy of consideration than other theories. I guess I gullibly thought that proponents of scientific thought would be open to all theories and would honestly consider each one based on its adherence to the scientific process and observable facts. How wrong I was.

Read it for yourself.

Unconditional Election - Tuesday

A Chosen People

There are general statements in Scripture that God has an elect people, and that He predestined them to salvation, and thus to eternal life.

Election from the text of Scripture

Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day."
—Deuteronomy 10:14-15
italics added for emphasis

November 14, 2006


What Would Jesus Do? or What Does Scripture Say?

I've been bothered by the trite WWJD saying ever since it became popular. In order to know what Jesus would do, we must know Jesus. And the only way to know Jesus is by reading scripture.

But knowing what Jesus would do does not necessarily tell us what we should do. We are not the Creator God. We are not sovereign. We are not the High Priest.

So then, what do we do to determine our course of action. A currently more recognizable way of asking this question is, "How do we find out God's will for our lives?"

Again, the answer is found in scripture. And John MacArthur has put together a list of scripturally-based questions we should ask ourselves to determine if we should do anything. This list may be found on MacArthur's blog, but it is so good that I'm not just linking to it—I'm republishing it here. But please check out (and bookmark) his blog. It's worth a daily read and you will benefit greatly from his insight

Glorifying God in Gray Areas

If the issue you are wondering about is not specifically addressed in the Bible, then it’s helpful to ask these questions from 1 Corinthians to help you in deciding what to do. Asking these questions (and others like them) will help you make a wise decision based on sound biblical principles.

  • Will it benefit me spiritually? First Corinthians 10:23 says, “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.
  • Will it put me in bondage? First Corinthians 6:12 says, “All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” Any questionable practice that can be habit‑forming is not wise to pursue.
  • Will it defile God’s temple? First Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” We should not do anything with our bodies that would dishonor the Lord.
  • Will it cause others to stumble? First Corinthians 8:8‑9 says, “Food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. But take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.” One should refrain from using his freedom in an area which might cause others to sin. For “by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore,” Paul said, “if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, that I might not cause my brother to stumble.”
  • Will it help the cause of evangelism? First Corinthians 10:32-33 says, “Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved.” We must think of the effect any practice might have on our testimony to the lost.
  • Will it violate my conscience? First Corinthians 10:25‑29 contains three references to abstaining from a certain practice “for conscience’ sake.” And Romans 14:23 says, “He who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.” If we are not sure whether an action is pleasing to God, we should not do it. That way our conscience will remain clear and our relationship to God will not be hindered.
  • Will it bring glory to God? First Corinthians 10:31 summarizes all these principles by saying, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”