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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Karl Barth and Universalism

I still find myself bothered by the comments of a seminarian from an allegedly "conservative" Southern Baptist seminary I will not name. The seminarian contended that he "had no problem with saying that Karl Barth was saved."

While the legitimacy of Barth's theological work does not necessarily depend on whether or not he was a genuine Christian, since the natural gifts given in the divine image and likeness of God in humankind gives great intellectual ability to even the non-elect, it is very significant that Barth was more than once accused of an "implicit" universalism in his theology. More importantly, Barth never denied this charge. While many accuse those of us who are concerned by Barth's theological errors of being "certain without knowledge," it is general knowledge readily available in quotes and in many secondhand sources on the internet and in theological journals that Barth indeed had universalist themes underlying his theology.

Thus, it is not a logical fallacy to come to legitimate conclusions about a theologian's work based on "common" knowledge, that is, knowledge that is generally known to be accurate. It's rather like knowing the Protestant Reformation happened in the 16th century or that John Calvin was an advocate of double predestination. One may quibble about the details, but the general facts do not change any more than gravity will disappear.

Thus, those of us who are orthodox, confessing Evangelicals within the Protestant mainstream are rationally justified in doubting Barth's salvation. Why? First off, universalism is a heresy that says that people who do not make a conscious conversion to faith in Jesus Christ as God our Savior are able to be saved regardless of whether or not they have converted to Christian faith. If this is not true, then it leads even more people who do not know Christ away from conversion and thus to hell. It follows, then, that Barth led people astray with a false sense of security when they should have been evangelized with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is particularly true of theological liberalism which utilized Barth's theology to shore up their own universalist and inclusivist theologies.

Thus, I have to doubt the salvation of anyone who would "have no problem" with a theologian who deliberately led people astray. Even more telling is the fact that Barth consciously and deliberately rejected the Gospel as understood by Evangelical and Protestant Christians. Barth practically mocked Evangelicalism at times. Pride goes before destruction. I wonder if Barth is so proud now? I suppose only God knows the answer to that question.

It is not popular to "earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints." However, the apostles all gave their lives for the Christian faith. Jesus Christ himself died a sinner's death on the cross to atone for all our sins, even though he was an innocent man. Furthermore, Jesus said that anyone who is not willing to forsake all and follow after him is not worthy of the kingdom of God.

Those who seek intellectual prestige among godless and liberal scholars and theologians more than seeking after the truth and defending the faith have committed a form of idolatry where man's opinion takes precedence over divine revelation in Holy Scripture, which is the final authority in all theological matters. It is to exalt reason above revelation. Barth's major fallacy is to do the same despite his denials of such. Barth's theological method essentially places his own reasoning and philosophical views above the written word of God's revelation in Holy Scripture.

May we never forget that God gave us our intellect as part of the image and likeness of himself. Let us use it to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

54 comments:

Charlie J. Ray said...

I have never doubted that the Bible is the final authority in theological disputations. Those who distort and twist Scripture to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:15-16) deserve what they get. I take Scripture at it's plain meaning while the liberals and neo-orthodox distort it to their own destruction. It's hardly a matter of "pride" to take God's written word as God's literal and final word on all matters of faith and practice.

I'm hardly a mirror of Karl Barth. Sorry but you're on the wrong track.

Charlie J. Ray said...

It's rather obvious that you have never read Karl Barth firsthand and even more obvious that you have not read my article carefully. Evangelicals have always believed that those who deny the Gospel of Jesus Christ are unsaved and therefore separated from God for eternity. This is a fact if one accepts the Bible as the final authority. I would suggest that you try reading John 3:16-21.

Also, please note that these comments are moderated. Serious responses are required and I am under no obligation to post baiting, red herrings, and non sequiturs.

Anonymous said...

Most "christians" of the first few centuries are by your reckoning not really christians, as the majority believed in a wider hope (as atested by Augustine himself). No where in the early creeds is a belief in a cruel and torturing God made a necessary belief for salvation!

Elliot

Charlie J. Ray said...

The Christian church from its inception has always believed in a doctrine of hell and eternal punishment for those who reject the Gospel message. This is event in the Bible itself and also in the writings of the majority of the church fathers, though tradition is fallible.

Secondly, God is just and is able to render the punishments fitting to rejecting His absolute holiness and sovereignty. Eternal separation from God is indeed a just punishment. We do not know exactly what hell is like since the Bible uses metaphorical language to portray it. However, we do know that it will not be blissful or enjoyable to any degree at all.

Shamby said...

Passing by and read your article. "It's rather obvious that you have never read Karl Barth firsthand" Mr. Ray, have you ever read Barth firsthand and understood him.
#1 Barth was not a "theological liberal", he was an opponent of them. Theological liberals hated Barth's theology.
#2 The universalism you defined is not the universalism for which Barth advocates. He seemed to advocate universal salvation for all, but most definitely through the event of Jesus Christ.
#3 Barth was a major critic of people who made an "idol" out of the Bible, in order to excuse their pseudo-Gospels. I.E. Barth was affirming the Gospel and your self-righteous posture towards scripture comes dangerously close to what Barth was talking about.

Check out his Church Dogmatics, vol. 4 part.1

Just thought I'd let you know.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Thou has betrayed thyself, Shamby. You're an Asbury graduate, obviously.

First off, I am well aware of the formal distinctions between neo-orthodoxy and theological liberalism. However, since I'm a "self-righteous" fundamentalist, I happen to agree more with the theological critique of neo-orthodoxy which is offered by Carl F. H. Henry in his magnum opus, God, Revelation and Authority. Yes, I actually believe that Holy Scripture is propositional truth and not some subjective existential encounter that changes with the wind and is more like jello than truth. Pinning jello to the wall would be easier than determining exactly what Barth's understanding of revelation actually is. If truth is not objective and logical, then we all might as well give up science, philosophy and theology.

Futhermore, your comment about the universal salvation views of Barth are not accurate. I hardly believe that Barth's view is Arminian as you are trying to suggest. That's obviously not true since Barth loosely claims to come from the Reformed tradition.

However, I would agree with you that Arminianism logically leads to universalism since it is a position that basically accuses God of being unjust for sending sinners to hell. If that is true, then universal salvation would be a position that you think God is morally obligated to take.

Unfortunately, that position leads to antinominism since if everyone is going to heaven then why do we need to obey God's moral law? I might also mention that Arminianism and Wesleyan Arminianism in particular has to lower the standards of God's moral law so that it can appear to human eyes as if you are actually being holy which you are not. All human beings fall way short of God's perfect moral law. This is precisely why the vicarious merits of Christ's perfect life must be imputed to us as if we were obedient. It is also precisely why a penal substitutionary atonement is absolutely necessary for our justification, which is by faith and faith alone. Faith is not a work that you do so God will accept you. It is a gift that precedes your justification.

Just thought I would let you know--just in case you had not read Carl Henry's excellent systematic theology. I highly recommend it to you.

Shamby said...

I've not read Carl Henry, thank you for the recommendation.

"some subjective existential encounter" I think this is a bit to zealous of a critique to attach to neo-Orthodoxy. Barth wanted nearly every aspect of Christianity, including its morality, the doctrine of sin, and human anthropology to find their definition in Jesus Christ. That is hardly subjective, if by that you mean relative to human opinion.

My comment on universal salvation was not espousing Arminianism. You may have got that from the "for all", as knock on "limited atonement". Granted, Barth did not buy this doctrine, but that does not make him Arminian. We both agree there. I mean that for Barth, Jesus Christ's proclamation is universal and inescapable by humans, and therefore, THROUGH CHRIST ALONE, he seems to be inciting a form of universal salvation. You have raised the right issues about the doctrines of hell and the reprobate in light of this doctrine. But at the same time, are you going to be offended if it so happens that everyone by faith alone, receives Christ's salvation? In your tradition, it is quite tempting to take the position of the day-laborer who worked all day for the same wage.

Incidentally, Barth also advocated for the penal substitution theory of atonement. He also agreed that faith is not a work to merit God's acceptance, which you are picking up from Calvin.

To call out my biases, I am Wesleyan-Arminian and I do go to Asbury. On your tangent...do you think that Arminianism is a form of Antinomianism? Checking our our pneumatology might clarify a few things as I think you are misreading the other side.

I'll continue this exchange over email if you like. I've enjoyed the thought exercise. Thanks again for Carl Henry.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Shamby, I think you need to be more careful. If you will read my bio, I have a master of divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary. Oddly enough, though I was once a hardcore Arminian on the Pentecostal side of things, I converted to Calvinism while a student at Asbury. I did so after taking a seminar on Calvin's Institutes which was taught by Professor O'Malley.

Calvin believed that regeneration precedes faith and conversion so therefore faith is a gift that precedes repentance and conversion. In other words, salvation is all a gift of God from beginning to end. It's monergism and not the Arminian view of synergism.

I might add that in my opinion Asbury is headed in a neo-orthodox direction and eventually will end up in outright liberalism. That is historically what has happened in most seminaries. They start out as fundamentalist then move toward a moderate Evangelicalism. Then they move toward neo-orthodoxy and finally end up totally liberal. I'll give Asbury about 30 more years and it will be completely liberal.

Call me a prophet.

Btw, I have a very good understanding of the traditional Wesleyan holiness pneumatology and have read widely in both wesleyan holiness theology and in pentecostal theology. However, I must say that Asbury doesn't hold to the traditional views on holiness theology. It has become decidedly more "moderate" and even "neo-orthodox" in its orientation.

Finally, I would recommend that you re-examine the doctrine of prevenient grace since that essentially negates the doctrine of total depravity. Essentially prevenient grace is a semi-pelagian view.

I might also mention that the Wesleyan Arminian view has a rather low view of the moral law and attempts to lower the standards of God's law so that the believer can meet it. Sin is more than a violation of a known law of God. Sin is also falling short of the mark of God's perfect moral law. Sin includes not just sinful actions but sinful thoughts and sins committed in ignorance. It would also include sins of omission (See James 4:17).

You might want to check out A.A. Hodge's Outlines of theology where he gives an excellent critique of the Arminian view on sanctification. I believe in the 5 points of Calvinism as exposited in the Canons of Dordt. Anything else is merely an anthropocentric and idolatrous compromise of God's total sovereignty.

May the peace of God be with you,

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

Shamby, I would never be offended anytime God saves anyone by His unconditional election and regeneration. However, since I read the Bible I know that universal salvation is not going to happen. I also know that in past history that not all have been saved.

Arminianism holds out the possibility of salvation for all who will believe. Calvinism would agree with that from below. We as humans do not know who is elect and who is reprobate. The difference is that we believe God not only foreknows the elect but also elects them unconditionally by divine decree before creation.

The idea that all men will be saved is heresy. You seem to be confusing conditional election with a universal salvation of all men. Please don't tell me that Asbury is now teaching univeral salvation as opposed to a univeral atonement with conditional election????

Shamby said...

Your responses seem to have left off talking about Karl Barth. My effort here has not been to debate Calvinist and Wesleyan-Arminian theology, but to set the record straight on Barth. Have I done that?

My response to you about Karl Barth does not have to do with Asbury or what it teaches. If I'm a heretic, it is not because Asbury made me one, but I've heard other prophets saying the same thing. If Asbury is liberal, the wearing pants is lingerie.

If you want to talk about Calvinism and Arminianism, let's do so biblically. That is probably the best way and I assume you'd agree.

Furthermore, let's not start somewhere in the middle, or, in the case of double predestination, in the back of Calvin's Institutes. Let's examine presuppositions.

So I have a question. As a whole, Scripture is a story which traces God's history of salvation (that's how I read it). So I think from that that we should start with our doctrine of God. Here's my question: Where from Scripture does it tell you that God's sovereignty is his primary and defining characteristic? Where is that characteristic revealed instead of or over, for instance God's desire to relate with human beings or God's love for humans?

That's my question asked two different ways. If would rather not commit to an extended conversation, I understand. Just let me know. But if we are going to talk about personal theology, let's do it Biblically and systematically.

Cheers.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Shamby, hold your horses. First off, you have to clarify whether you are talking about universalism or are you talking about universal atonement and conditional election?

Second off, this is MY blog so don't come in here and act as if you're not a guest here.

Third, in answer to your question, the Bible presupposes the sovereignty of God from the get go. In the beginning GOD.... Genesis 1:1. Furthermore, the Bible over and over again details God's absolute power and authority. Hey, didn't you study systematic theology? What are the attributes of God? Omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, etc....

Unless you're some sort of deist or open theist or process theologian, then it logically follows that God is absolutely sovereign. Anything else is idolatrous anthropocentristic theology.

Let me guess? You're on one of those silly Asbury blog "ministries" and you're out to confuse the world with your man centered focus?

I prefer to worship God and to glorify Him. If you wish to put your trust in your own abilities, be my guest. As for me, God is quite able to do everything necessary to get me to heaven... and every single one of the elect.

So if you are serious, then clarify yourself. Are you or are you not a universalist??? Or are you an Arminian?

It only takes a simple yes or no.

Peace,

Charlie

jsrobbo said...

As a disullusioned former fundamentalist evangelical who loves jesus but hates nearly all of the 30,000 protestant denominations that have set themselves up since the reformation - each claiming its own exclusive corner of the truth market - and all arrogantly defending their pathetic little parochial belief systems. Why is it that Jesus seemed to be able to discover faith in the least likely places - "oh woman how great is your faith" and "I have not found such great faith no not in all Israel" - Its wonderful how Jesus was not tied to some institutional system like Calvanism. He always operated outside of all these institutions and man made systems discovering faith in the most unlikely places within people who hadn't even been "converted" in the normal sense of our narrow minded biggoted evangelical protestantism.

In relation to the reality of hell and who goes there or who doesn't go there my question is - why should you arrogant debaters who support so avidly the reality of hell whilst making your nasty comments back and forth to each other in this debate - why should you be part of the "elect" and why should you be part of the saved elite and someone else not be saved? Why should you who obviously shows so little grace to those you debate with be part of the saved elite whilst others who haved not accepted the salvation formulae be damned for eternity when it is so obvious that you are just as sinful as they are and yet you will claim to be part of the pious elite "elect" sitting up in heaven with all of the other elect piously watching all the damned writhe in hell for all eternity,whilst you praise God for His wonderful justice in sending people to a Christless eternity whilst he keeps you in heaven. Where is the justice in all of that?

I heard an atheist debate recently and he said that God was worse than Hitler because Hitler at least only persecuted the Jews over a period of several decades in relation to their suffering in the concentration camps and then they were sent to the gas ovens and then to the crematoriums. This would at least only have lasted for a set length of time and yet we are to believe that God is going to sit up in heaven with His pious elite and watch the damned burn in Hell not just for a few decades but for ever and ever writhing in eternal agony and the elect and God apparently are going to rejoice at His incredible justice in confining people to hell. Where is the justice in all of that especially when so-called christians who are supposed to be part of the "elect" seem to be just as bad as the damned - especially in their attitude to their fellow man.

John

Charlie J. Ray said...

John said, "Where is the justice in all of that especially when so-called christians who are supposed to be part of the "elect" seem to be just as bad as the damned - especially in their attitude to their fellow man."

>>> Well, at least you understand the doctrine of original sin. You're correct. ALL of us deserve eternal torment in hell. That would include the elect! So the fact that God does not give everyone what they deserve is MERCY. JUSTICE requires that God would damn us all down to every last individual. God is not obligated to save even ONE of us since we are all born guilty of Adam's original sin and we are corrupt by nature. We sin from the time we are able to make choices. Thus, you're mad that God saves the elect even though He by all rights should damn everyone? What kind of logic is that?

The elect are only progressively and imperfectly sanctified as you say. However, the one unforgivable sin is refusing to accept Jesus Christ as the only way of being reconciled with a Holy and just God.

You do it your way. I will accept God's way.

Shamby said...

Hi Mr. Ray and John.

"You do it your way. I will accept God's way."

I think it is a comment like this which stifles debate. I have even at times (no specifically talking about here) made these comments. I am learning better. Mr. Ray, it is a phrase like this which is incurs John's comment that we are arrogant.

I sympathize with John's feelings about understanding God as a vindictive fanatic bent on justice for some, and yet apparently, and without any previous relationship, merciful saving others, and especially when those supposed others treat it so tactlessly.

With that said, John, in an effort to show my good will to Mr. Ray, I think that he might adapt your comments just a bit by pointing out that "the elect" do not know that they "have salvation". We do not receive assurances about our election, but supposing that we know the right path (Jesus Christ) and have believed in it, all signs on a cognitive level point to the situation that we are.

As I said, my position is Wesleyan-Arminian, and I am not scared off by the idea of synergism, because I operate theologically, with the understanding that God is primarily loving, and not primarily sovereign. Doesn't mean God isn't, but methodologically, it is secondary in my theologizing.

Thank you for pointing out that good debates should be had with the graciousness which Christ reflected for us.

Mr. Ray, I succeeded in "pressing your buttons". What does responding about your ownership to your blog say about you as a person? I think that might be the sort of question which John might want you to think about. John?

For me, John, I called Mr. Ray "self-righteous" which in our culture is a negative sentiment. What does my offense at Mr. Ray's cavalier attitude say about me as a person, especially since I do not even know him personally?

Blessed are the peacemakers, John.

Mr. Ray, I've used your forum to accomplish what I thought might be a good thing. I hope that that is alright.

Jason

Charlie J. Ray said...

Jason, your comment is laughable at best. Actually, your view is "self-righteous." My view is that only God is righteous and the rest of us deserve hell. If anyone is saved it is not because of his or her own righteousness. It is because of the righteousness of Christ.

Arminianism is similar to universalism and is in fact has more in common with universalism than with the Gospel. Arminianism makes man his own savior while Reformed and Calvnistic theology emphasizes Scripture, revelation, and God's sovereignty. Either God is God or He isn't.

While you may not like what I say, I'm not interested in "debating" or "dialogue." This is my blog and I tell it like I see it.

Arminianism is a heresy or split from the Dutch Reformed position and is really a move back in the direction of semi-pelagianism. Furthermore, Arminianism is illogical since it has God foreknowing what is uncertain. If God foreknows the future, then the future is not contingent from God's perspective. And if God upholds time and the universe, it naturally follows that God is completely sovereign and providentially in control of all that happens by means of both primary and secondary causes.

That would not remove human culpability or accountability by any means since we act freely as moral agents.

The problem with Arminianism is that it tries to justify God before wicked and evil men who are in fact in rebellion against God. The real problem is that mere creatures try to make God justify Himself to them. How foolish is that???? Rather we ought to be asking how we wicked and sinful human beings can justify ourselves before an ultimately holy and just God who will not and cannot tolerate evil, wickedness or sin to any degree at all.

Furthermore, Arminianism is illogical because it ignores the very Scriptures which say that God is angry with sinners and that sinners are God's enemies. Scripture in fact says that God loves only those whom He has determined to save. The elect.

Salvation is all of God and none of man.

Shamby said...

"Scripture in fact says that God loves ONLY those whom He has determined to save."

"For God so LOVED the WORLD that he gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16

Syllogistically, if you hold your statement as well as Scripture's to be true, then you are a universalist. Show me the Scripture where it says God loves only the elect.

"God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him, might be saved." John 3:17

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Ephesians 5:1-2

Accordingly, God's love extends through us to the world. Where in your post is this love which I read about?

"The problem with Arminianism is that it tries to justify God before wicked and evil men who are in fact in rebellion against God."

Historically, Arminianism was NEVER developed to solve the theodicy problem.

Furthermore, I find it perplexing that you can accuse Arminianism (and implicitly for you, universalism) of being both anti-nomianism AND semi-Pelagianism. Think about that a second. Pelagianism, an extremely ethical heresy, historically, is hardly against the Law. Yet, I hear you saying that Arminianism, second only to Satan itself, can be both at the same time.

Now that is a heresy! Incidently, since we come from the Reformation, we are by definition, heretics (Council of Trent, as you know).

I have a few questions, since you still want to debate the MERITS of Arminianism and Calvinism (which is not the same as "according to Calvin"...more like according to Grotius and Gomarus). What if God regenerates someone who has not yet believed, and they die before they believe in faith? IF you say it is not possible, then God is not sovereign to elect without merit. IF you say it is possible, then they have died without faith alone in Christ alone--a central tenet of the Reformation.

Those deal with the theological content, but if you will also accept on your post this more serious matter.

"This is my blog and I tell it like I see it." How can you see the truth? Are you not depraved in your capacity to see the truth, so that even if you willed to know the truth, you could not? IF you say that you are able to know the truth, then you are claiming to be God, who only knows the truth because only God is righteous. IF you do not know the truth, then why do you carry yourself with such certainty. Most Reformed theologians approach God with epistemic humility.

You, on the other hand, and to use a phrase from Karl Barth, "imprison God in His own majesty". You yank Him around by His nose and rub Him in the faces of anyone who disagrees with you. You forsake His call to missions by immolating your opponents on the altar to your petrified God.

You claim that "Holy Scripture is propositional truth" but you are "not interest in 'debating' or 'dialogue'".

You do not recognize a gesture of peace or reconciliation when it is attempted. Instead, you call me "foolish" and worthy of laughing. Do you hear the lack of love in your words? People will read this exchange and acknowledge that this right here is why they are not a Christian, and all you will say is that God did not elect them then. THAT, my brother, is why we Christians have blood on our hands, and God will not judge us lightly for it.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Your patronizing attitude was far from a so-called display of generosity and grace. Rather it was a rather thinly veiled attempt at triumphalism.

You seem to forget that I have both and undergraduate degree and a master's degree from Arminian theological schools and therefore I am absolutely familiar with your arguments having once foolishly believed them myself.

Let me take you arguments one at a time and demonstrate the illogical nature of your position.

First you say: >>>"For God so LOVED the WORLD that he gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16

Syllogistically, if you hold your statement as well as Scripture's to be true, then you are a universalist. Show me the Scripture where it says God loves only the elect.

"God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him, might be saved." John 3:17<<<

This is rather easy to refute. Even Arminians acknowledge that not everyone will be saved since some reject Jesus Christ who is the only way of salvation. Thus, God does not love every single individual in the world. Thus, the verse you quote, "For God so loved the world..." cannot possibly refer to every person in the world. Rather it is a reference to persons distributed throughout the world in every nation, tribe, and people (See Revelation 7:9). In heaven the elect are finally gathered into one congregation before God.

Furthermore, you are ignoring the context of verse 16. Verses 15, 17-21 clearly place conditions on God's love and God's forgiveness. Only those who believe are under God's love. Those who love darkness and wickedness are condemned already because they love their sin more than God. And clearly in verse 36 those who refuse to believe are not under God's love but under his wrath:

"that whoever believes in him may have eternal life." (John 3:15, ESV)

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him." (John 3:36, ESV)

I might add that in the Old Testament God destroyed the entire world with a flood. Loving God we have, huh? What kind of God would destroy the entire world, including men, women and children and the elderly? Especially if they are really "innocent"? You seem to think God would be unjust for doing such a thing. Clearly, your view is closer to the atheist or universalist view. Perhaps you should join a Unitarian Universalist congregation? That would be perfect for you.

However, the Bible I read says that NO ONE is innocent. All have sinned. And the reason God destroyed the earth with a flood was that ALL were wicked in his sight. Even the 8 souls who survived SINNED again AFTER God spared them! So the point is that WE ALL deserve God's wrath and we are ALL his enemies and remain under his wrath unless we believe. Even the elect are under God's wrath until God irresistibly draws them, regenerates them and gives them the gift of repentance and faith. This is basic Bible. I'm surprised that you don't know this.

The Bible over and over again says that God loves only Israel, only His people, only those who believe, only those for whom Christ died. Jesus came to save "His people" from their sins. This can only be the elect. In Acts 20:28 the text says that Jesus shed his blood for the church. And in Galatians 6:16 the "Israel of God" is clearly a reference to the new testament church yet this can also be understood as a reflection of God's means of salvation in the old testament as only coming through the nation of Israel.

Clearly, in both the OT and the NT salvation is not universal but specific and particular. God elects a few, not everyone. Broad is the way that leads to destruction but narrow is the way that leads to eternal life.

You said: >>>>"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Ephesians 5:1-2

Accordingly, God's love extends through us to the world. Where in your post is this love which I read about?<<<<

Again, your obvious ignorance of even basic exegetical methodology astounds me. Ephesians 5:1-2 is addressed to Christians within Christian churches. "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (Ephesians 1:1-2, ESV)

Thus, the verses you mention are in context of Christian conduct within the church and family. In fact, chapter 5 goes on to give ethical guidelines for Christians which include being separate from the wicked:

"For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light" (Ephesians 5:5-8, ESV)

"Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them." (Ephesians 5:11, ESV)

I'm obligated to love God and my neighbor and to give benevolence even to my enemies. However, that does not entail that I must compromise the truth in order to do so! We are to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. (Jude 3).


You say also: >>>"The problem with Arminianism is that it tries to justify God before wicked and evil men who are in fact in rebellion against God."

Historically, Arminianism was NEVER developed to solve the theodicy problem.<<<

Unfortunately, you're not familiar with the history of Arminianism. The Remonstrandts in fact came up with 5 points of disagreement with the Reformed/Calvinist view. The entire debate began over the issue of the logical (NOT the temporal order) of God's decrees for creation, fall, election and redemption. BOTH supralaparianism and infralapsarianism take place temporally BEFORE creation. The argument had to do with whether God decreed election and reprobation logically prior to his decree to create OR did God logically decree election AFTER the decree to allow the fall of man? This debate was absolutely about the issue of theodicy. Unfortunately, the Arminians/Remonstrandts took the argument too far and in fact turned back in the direction of pelagianism.

You said: >>>>Furthermore, I find it perplexing that you can accuse Arminianism (and implicitly for you, universalism) of being both anti-nomianism AND semi-Pelagianism. Think about that a second. Pelagianism, an extremely ethical heresy, historically, is hardly against the Law. Yet, I hear you saying that Arminianism, second only to Satan itself, can be both at the same time.<<<<

Arminianism, like pelagianism, rejects the total depravity of mankind. While Wesley's theology does lip service to doctrine of depravity, Wesley in fact rejects total depravity and only acknowledges a general "bent toward sinning." Wesley's perversion of the 39 Articles, Article 10, is obvious. Wesley takes Augustinian and Calvinistic understanding of prevenient grace (which is really irresistible grace in the 39 Articles) and instead makes "prevenient grace" some sort of medicine that magically cures original sin and total depravity so that mankind is no longer "completely" enslaved to sin but only partly enslaved. They only have a bent toward sinning but now they have a choice to accept or reject Jesus Christ so that man is now sovereign in his own salvation. God is bound to let the chips fall where they may and sits in heaven wringing his hands hoping someone will elect him.

The fact of the matter is the Bible says man is completely and totally corrupted by sin and his thoughts are only wicked at all times. In other words, the problem is that man has more than just a bent toward sinning. He is a total captive to sin and his desires are only for wickedness at all times. This is precisely why God destroyed the earth with a flood!

Pelagianism is not ethical at all. Rather, pelagianism denies original sin and says that man is born innocent and only becomes wicked by following Adam's example. No one is a sinner until they actually sin. Modern Arminians are less faithful to original Arminians because many follow Charles Finney's theology which is essentially pelagianism. Most Arminians believe children are born innocent and only become sinners at the age of accountability, whatever that is!

Psalm 58:3 and 51:5, however, clearly show that we are sinners from birth. Romans 3:1-21 likewise condemns us all, (cf. Genesis 6:3ff).

Arminianism is antinomian in at least one aspect. Especially Wesleyan Arminianism. Wesleyan theology says that sin is only a violation of a known moral law. However, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which Wesley supposed embraced, includes two confessions of sin which admits sins of omission, commission, sins in the thought life, and sins of ignorance. Thus, Wesley's view of sin is not only sub-biblical but not in accord with the Church of England's official liturgy or the confession of faith, the 39 Articles of Religion.

The Bible and the Reformed view, however, acknowledges that sin is anything that offends a holy God, any falling short of the mark of God's absolute moral law and perfection. Thus, Arminianism and the holiness movement low balls the moral law so that before man other men may "appear" to be more holy than they actually are.

Reformed theology, on the other hand, acknowledges a practical holiness that also admits imperfection and the need for a constant and continual progression toward a goal that we never reach in this life. Thus, Reformed theology often leads to honest self examination and real progress while Arminianism simply gives folks a false security in their own self-righteousness.

We are saved by faith and faith alone and not by our sanctification! Sanctification is the fruit of true conversion and is sometimes up and sometimes down.

You said: >>>>Now that is a heresy! Incidently, since we come from the Reformation, we are by definition, heretics (Council of Trent, as you know).

I have a few questions, since you still want to debate the MERITS of Arminianism and Calvinism (which is not the same as "according to Calvin"...more like according to Grotius and Gomarus). What if God regenerates someone who has not yet believed, and they die before they believe in faith? IF you say it is not possible, then God is not sovereign to elect without merit. IF you say it is possible, then they have died without faith alone in Christ alone--a central tenet of the Reformation.<<<<

Actually, Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, according to the 39 Articles of Religion, are heresies and churches in error. So, since Arminianism is more in agreement with semi-pelagianism with its synergistic views of the ordo salutis, etc., Arminianism is actually closer to Rome than to the Protestant Reformation on many issues. Despite Wesley's adherence to justification by faith alone, Wesley just could not bring himself to fully accept either Lutheran or Calvinist views on perseverance or election. Even Whitefield took Wesley to task for his inconsistencies and irrational departures from Augustinian theology.

As for your contention that modern Calvinists are dependent more on Grotius and Gomarus, it's obvious that you have not read Calvin. The Calvinists I know are well versed in the Institutes and Calvin's commentaries. In fact, I read the Institutes in a seminar at Abury Seminary under the church history professor, Thomas O'Malley. That seminar was one of the things which eventually convinced me that Calvinism was more logical, consistent and congruent than Arminianism.

Regarding your idea of regeneration occurring prior to belief and someone dying before believing yet supposedly being regenerate? That is a complete strawman and would only convince someone on your side of the fence. The Bible AND the Calvinist/Reformed position is that regeneration occurs prior to conversion BUT it is simultaneous! Thus, as you say, it would be impossible for someone to be regenerate and die in unbelief. This is not only illogical but it is unbiblical. When Jesus said, "Ye must be born again," he was NOT giving a condition to conversion! Rather he was stating that unless God regenerates the unbeliever first, (the Spirit comes and goes at His own sovereign will), he or she cannot believe at all. (See John 3:3-8; John 6:33, 37-39, 44, 63-65).

Not only is your question unbiblical, and a strawman, but it is also a non sequitur. Why would God regenerate someone and then withhold the gifts of conversion, faith and repentance??? Surely you do not believe God is illogical since God is a perfect being?

You said: >>>"This is my blog and I tell it like I see it." How can you see the truth? Are you not depraved in your capacity to see the truth, so that even if you willed to know the truth, you could not? IF you say that you are able to know the truth, then you are claiming to be God, who only knows the truth because only God is righteous. IF you do not know the truth, then why do you carry yourself with such certainty. Most Reformed theologians approach God with epistemic humility.<<<

Well, no. I'm no longer totally depraved. Jesus said that "whom the Son makes free shall be free indeed." While it is true that I do not know all truth in totality--I'm not omniscient--that does not entail that I am obligated to some sort of agnostic Reformed view. I am fully committed to what I DO know from the bible, which is able to make me wise unto salvation (2 Timothy 3:15). The doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture and the doctrine of sola Scriptura, both of which seem to be unfamiliar to you because of the gross rejection of the basic tenets of the Protestant Reformation by modern Arminianism and by Asbury in particular, teach that I and all other Reformed believers CAN have sufficient knowledge of God through His revelation in Jesus Christ and Holy Scripture that I can be absolutely certain of the truth of the Reformed/Augustinian position. Your assertion that I claim to be God is a non sequitur and a strawman. It's also an ad hominem against my person rather than a logical argument against the Reformed position.

As for epistemic humility? Well, I certainly don't claim to know everything. But the one thing I DO know is that Reformed theology, despite its various weaknesses, beats Arminianism, semi-pelagianism, pelagianism, universalism, open theism and various other "heresies" hands down.

It seems to me that your own position is somewhat lacking in humility. I've been around enough Wesleyan holiness folks to know that humility is the one virtue they are in complete lack of. Self-righteousness is based on your own vain appraisal of your own level of sanctification. Perhaps from God's perspective your level of sanctification is more along the lines of Luther's analogy of a fresh pile of manure covered with a fresh layer of pure white snow?

You said: >>>>You do not recognize a gesture of peace or reconciliation when it is attempted. Instead, you call me "foolish" and worthy of laughing. Do you hear the lack of love in your words? People will read this exchange and acknowledge that this right here is why they are not a Christian, and all you will say is that God did not elect them then. THAT, my brother, is why we Christians have blood on our hands, and God will not judge us lightly for it.<<<<

Well, the Bible says that the reason people are not Christians is that they born enslaved by sin. Furthermore, the reason they go to hell is that they go by their own choice. So when they stand before God, the excuse that "Charlie J. Ray offended me" won't work. I always find this attempt at false guilt a ridiculous attempt at best. When we stand before God we will either hear him say, "Well done thou good and faithful servant," or "Depart from me I NEVER knew you." Excuses won't cut it.

I think warning people that they are commanded by God himself to repent is sufficient. The law drives us to Christ because it reveals that we are sinners. I'm doing more good than you are. I point out the law to them. Only when they understand WHO they need saving FROM can they ever be saved. We are saved FROM God. God is our enemy unless and until we are regenerated, converted and led to repentance by the Holy Spirit. Salvation is all of God. He saves His elect through the appointed means of grace: preaching the law and the Gospel and through the church and a proper administration of the sacraments.

It is my opinion that modern Arminianism has more in common with pelagianism than with biblical Christianity. There are exceptions, of course. However, judging by your complete misunderstanding of both the Calvinist position and your own Arminian position, I have to wonder if you're even a Christian???

Christians have blood on their hands because they do not preach the law or the Gospel. Until sinners recognize that they have offended God and they are His enemies they cannot cry out for mercy or forgiveness. Only the merits of Christ's perfect life and his atoning death justify us. Imputed righteousness is what saves us, not the inherent righteousness taught by Rome and pelagianism. This is a lie from hell. The Bible clearly teaches that we are all sinners in need of salvation.

These days most Evangelicals are preaching a Christless Christianity. Perhaps you should try listening to The White Horse Inn and the Michael Horton crew? You might learn something.

Honestly, I wasn't impressed by Asbury at all. I think Asbury has gone in a neo-orthodox and even a liberal direction. When higher criticism means more than sola Scriptura it isn't long before theological liberalism dominates. I'm sure Asbury has gone even more "moderate" since I left in 1995.

My views are more in line with the classical Protestant Reformation the confessions of faith arising out of it.

May God grant you the grace to understand the Scriptures which are able to make you wise unto salvation.

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

Shamby said>>>You, on the other hand, and to use a phrase from Karl Barth, "imprison God in His own majesty". You yank Him around by His nose and rub Him in the faces of anyone who disagrees with you. You forsake His call to missions by immolating your opponents on the altar to your petrified God.<<<

God is who He is. I nor you have any authority over God at all. Perhaps you're unfamiliar with the attributes of God? Aseity? Self-existence? God's divine nature/being is unchangeable and because of this we can have confidence that God is not capricious or wicked. He is omnibenevolent. I do not yank God around. I simply accept what the Bible says about Him. You, on the other hand, seem to think God needs defending from the fallacious assaults of atheists?

I understand that if I cease to exist today or tomorrow God will still be there. I am merely a creature who will have a rather limited existence here on earth. What really matters is eternity and not the here and now. God was here eternally before I got here and He will be here forever after I'm gone. I have the understanding of the Bible to know that God does not need me to accomplish His providential will or His divine decrees. However, if God decides to use me as an instrument of His grace, that is His prerogative.

I'm not here to apologize to atheists for the violence expressed in Holy Scripture. I'm here to proclaim the glory of God and to enjoy Him forever. If the wicked are offended, only the irresistible grace of God can change their hardened hearts. And it is preaching the law and the Gospel which will make the difference for the unsaved elect. The reprobate, as Luther said, will continue to blaspheme and curse God until they die and suffer eternally in hell. (See my sermon on Predestination at: http://reasonablechristian.blogspot.com/2009/01/predestination-confidence-of-election.html#links).

When you begin to see God's wrath then and only then will you understand what the Gospel is all about.

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

Shamby, if you wish to make comments, I suggest you do it here. If you had bothered, I have posted several other articles on Barth which cite several secondary sources indicating a general acknowledgment that Barth was indeed a universalist in his later theology, though not earlier on. His Dogmatics were written over a long period of time during which his views were evolving.

Secondly, the Arminian doctrine of universal atonement is a heresy condemned by the Canons of Dordt and the Formula of the Consensus of Helvitica, which also condemned Amyraldianism. Not only is Arminianism illogical but it is a return back in the direction of the Roman Catholic view. This would also explain why modern Arminians have no problem accepting Roman Catholics as genuine Christians, despite the fact that the RCC view promotes various forms of idolatry, works righteousness, etc., etc.

If Asbury is any indication, Evangelicalism is headed for liberalism.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Shamby, obviously, you're enamored with neo-orthodoxy, which does not surprise me since you're at Asbury. First off, Barth's view of Jesus Christ cannot be definitive since Barth rejects objective revelation in Holy Scripture. For Barth, Scripture only "contains" the Word of God and is not literally God's written word. Thus, the Bible is merely a book where one existentially encounters a subjective and ineffable word or revelation through an existential experience.

Which Jesus does Barth refer to? The Jesus revealed to us in the written word? Or another Jesus of his own imagination?

Shamby said...

Hi, and thanks for your replies. I'll be able to post again with more depth when I finish up a paper.

If you are interested in some loose thoughts, I agree with you that some Arminians are open to dialogue with the RCC. I, like many Arminians, cannot go fully in the direction of the RCC, but I think many are open to ecumenical dialogue out of a recognition of God's intent that the Body of Christ be a unified body. I am aware of the visible-invisible Church dialectic. But I think that Church unity is sometimes "over-spiritualized" in that, as I read Acts, Paul's corpus, and the Apostolic Fathers, the Church was meant to be a concrete entity of Christ's presence for mission in the world. I am not denying the practical reality of the wheat and tares, but renewal and reconciliation begins, in my view, through openness to dialogue in the belief that my reading of Scripture and understanding of the Truth can always be sharpened by the insight the Holy Spirit has given to others, such as what I hope is happening between me and yourself...or at least for me.

I could be optimistic, but I just do not see many people, who do not have a vested interest in the Church, trying to "get in" any more. That said, while liberalism is still a pretty insidious issue especially among higher education--I think most of the damage has already been done. Liberalism is so...80's. Asbury's being Wesleyan-Arminian does not make it anthropocentric or liberal. These are different than synergism, in that I think they represent the extremes while synergism, as I perceive it, is a moderate view between libertarian freedom and hard determinism. Even among "synergists" there is considerable variety (open theism and soft determinism to name a few). Theologically, though, I'm just not scared off by the word synergism, but as an Wesleyan-Arminian I am interested in qualifying it.

I'm telling you the truth about Asbury when I say it has done more to anchor the United Methodist Church in conservative (and I think Orthodox) doctrine, than many of its other schools...Drew for instance.

Most Asburians do not know what neo-orthodoxy is, but yes, I do find Barth's neo-orthodoxy an intriguing idea, but applying the theological system has problems for some of the reasons you offered. In practice, it would be a pretty subjective affair. I think Barth's problem was that he did not develop a robust pneumatology to mediate his Christology. That said, I do not throw out neo-orthodoxy since I think it might be rescued for Evangelicals and Ecumenists who want to affirm Christ at work in others and the world.

I understand why you might dislike neo-orthodoxy. Barth saw liberals interpreting Scripture abusively and said that Scripture and their interpretation of it had become an idol. It is not inconceivable that a "conservative" could incur the same guilt. Barth saw that the principle behind Scripture, indeed the one who substantiated Scripture, was Jesus Christ himself. Accusing Barth of espousing a subjective relationship with Scripture is not the correct conclusion. Instead, the man emphasized such an objective view of Scripture, that it is hard to conceive of how we may understand God, who is Scripture's (and theology's) object at all. That is how, practically, Barth does not solve anything...because even you recognize that there is a subject (a human) who must read and interpret Scripture.

In answer to your question, Barth would answer "the Jesus revealed to us in the written word." Even if one sees holes in his methodology, when Barth read Scripture, he was after the right person.

I've studied Barth. He is a complex thinker and cannot be dismissed in lapidary fashion. Honestly, from talking to you, I think you would find that you have more agreement with him than you realize.

I really need to get to work. Talk to you later.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Shamby, it is obvious to me that you have not read Carl F.H. Henry's critique of neo-orthodoxy and of Karl Barth. Barth's theology of Scripture is that Scripture cannot convey revelation to us directly through the written word. For Barth Scripture is NOT revelation but only "contains" revelation through an existential encounter. Barth's understanding of the Reformed confessions of faith is way off. I read his theology of the Reformed confessions and he reads his own biases into the texts instead of letting them speak for themselves.

While I might agree that Barth is one of the most popular theologians, I don't agree that he is great. I think he's simply rehashing Kierkegaard and Kant in biblical clothing. For Barth, like Kant, metaphysical revelation is impossible, hence his view that we can only "experience" revelation directly and not through the biblical text itself.

Carl Henry was a student of Gordon Clark, who was also an adamant critic of neo-orthodoxy.

When I was at Asbury the OT department was enamored with Von Rad and Walther Eichrodt, both neo-orthodox theologians. Lawson Stone advocated that Genesis 1-11 was "myth," which is essentially a neo-orthodox view of the biblical account.

The trouble is most students at Asbury have little to no prior training in bible and theology and most wouldn't recognize either neo-orthodoxy or liberalism if it hit them between the eyes.

I, on the other hand, was trained at a conservative college prior to going to Asbury. I can tell you that Asbury is not as conservative as it pretends to be. I suspect the firing of the last president had to do with the battle between the more conservative and the more liberal side of the faculty members.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Shamby, regarding ecumenical dialogue with Roman Catholics, I have to strongly disagree with such an approach since the end result is usually compromise with Rome rather than dialogue. True dialogue does not compromise one's own position but that is not what we see these days. Rather we see documents like Evangelicals and Catholics Together which sells out the doctrine of justification by faith alone.

What is needed more than anything these days is a solid dogmatics and polemics offered by Evangelical and Reformed Christians. What we need are those who are willing to debate with Roman Catholics and to evangelize them with the true Gospel. This is one of my beefs with Asbury. Asbury seems to assume that liberal theologians and Roman Catholics are already saved and do not need to be evangelized. This could not be further from the truth.

I am well aware of Asbury's relationship with a certain Roman Catholic seminary in the Louisville area. What we need is a return to a solid neo-fundamentalism along the lines of J. Gresham Machen and not a sell out to the ecumenical movement, which inevitably leads back to liberalism.

Shamby said...

Charlie,
I shall do my best to respond to your lengthy reply.
My attitude was patronizing because I feel the strength of your own ungraciousness. That does not condone my own ungraciousness to you. I am sorry for being ungracious.
I admit that I am indignant towards your language, but maybe I should tell you why.
Even if I’ve been ungracious, I don’t think it should stop you from confessing your own failure to respond more kindly to me or others on your blog. Epistemic humility, in my opinion, means that we do not equate our conceptions of God or Scripture with Scripture’s message itself. We may only ever approximate the Truth and we, since we are fallible, could be wrong. Faith is not reason nor is it assent to right doctrine (though practically, one must assent to some things in order to have faith), so I do not think that this is too much to ask from you. As a Christian, I think I can legitimately say this to you, because you yourself say that you are a Christian.
You have called my theological position “foolish” and “heretical”. I assume you’d only say this if you doubted my Christianity, which you did later on. In this, your posture is similar to the posture of the patristic councils who decided what was orthodox—but I think it is unwise to take the full authority of the Church upon yourself as a single person. Why don’t you instead say that “according to such a confession, this view is heretical” or “I feel foolish for having once believed this” or “I read Scripture to be saying that”? This would help me find a more palatable conversation with you. I shall attempt to do the same.
In your point about John 3:16:
In saying the “world” is limited: First, you mentioned context. The context for John 3:16 is the entire book and all the occurrences of “world” (kosmos) in it. John uses “world” more than any other book on the NT. I think most definitively for the context of “world” in John is John 1, in which John creates a strong allusion with the Genesis account of Creation—a creation which included the entire world and not world in the limited sense. In other words, the Logos came for the antecedent Creation which God made In the Beginning. This sort of cosmic opening for all the concrete events of Jesus’ life which follows is designated and hinges very strongly on John’s opening use of “world” and the understanding of “world” as referring to the “heavens and earth” spoken of in Genesis one. “Heavens and earth” itself is a hendyades expression referring to the universe, and not a particular element of it. John 1:10 seems to describe the world spatially, which I conclude from the spatial use of the preposition “in” (en). However, John also personifies “world” with active verbs such as “knew” which gives “world” a dual meaning of both the spatial world and the rational beings which it contains. This is also consistent with the allusion to Genesis 1 which expresses “the earth and all that is in it”.
A further note on John 1 is that it pitches the work of salvation towards the Logos (vicariously), which is to say that the Logos, as the Creative Word who does God’s will, is the one through whom all things became because he, as the Logos, is the principle of right knowledge which is necessary for our salvation. This Logos is paralleled with knowing (gnosis), which has a second analogy to express the work—Christ is Light with enlightens (vv.4-5). The problem is expressed in that the Logos is not known, nor the Light seen. Thus Christ came into this world for the purpose (hina) of enlightening humankind. We know that “humankind” is meant because the singular term “panta anthropon” is used. This places significance on Christ’s incarnation as an illuminating force upon the condition of humanity as a whole race.
This is significant for what follows in vv.11-12. All Creation, Jews and Gentiles alike, did not know Christ. So Jesus Christ, the Logos, by his incarnation came to “his own” which is plural. This means the Jews as will be borne out in v.13. John says that his own, the Jews, rejected him BUT there are a number who will. V.12 says “osoi”—an unhelpful word to either of our cases. In context, it refers to a quantity, but the quantity is marked by those who do the particular action, in this even , “as many as took him (the Logos)”. We both recognize the exclusivity of the elect. This same sense is reiterated in the last clause of v.12.
V.13 puts it together a bit for us because the manner of our birth in salvation is not of blood, flesh, or human will, because each of these occasion our earthly existence, whereas, our salvation implies a spiritual family. SO Jews and Gentiles, without distinction of culture (blood, flesh, or will), can equally receive the Logos.
If this explanation of the work of the Logos is carried over to John 3, the preceding verses (ch.1) seem to parallel what he says here (ch.3) quite well. The enigmatic expression, “Jesus knew what was in a man” which transitions the story to Nicodemus “Now there was a man” insinuates the illumination and knowledge which Christ had of humanity and its condition.
I say all of this to acknowledge that there IS exclusivity and limitation in what John says. Only those who believe (faith alone) will be saved (explicit in 3:18). However, the use of “world” to express that exclusivity is foreign to John’s language. Instead, the cosmic language of “world” corresponds to the cosmic element of Christ’s work in John 1. To describe the difference just once further, in 3:17, Jesus says “so that the world might be saved”. The verb is subjunctive, expressing a condition/contingency upon which the world will be saved (esp. since this is a dependent clause), but when John talks about those who are or will be saved, he uses the substantive participle “all the one(s) believing”—herein, is where exclusivity can be understood to emanate from the texts meaning. Why would John use the subjunctive mood in a purpose clause, if the whole “world” was indeed going to be saved? If the whole “world” were going to be saved, he ought to have used the indicative (the mood which states a fact). The condition of the worlds salvation is meted out into two categories, the believing and the unbelieving. To describe their judgment or salvation, he does indeed use the indicative (in v.18).
Thus “world” is an inclusive term which represented both the faithful and the unbelieving, the elect and the non-elect. God therefore loves the entire “world”—believers and unbelievers—even though some will choose judgment over believing in God’s Son.
Another problem with “world” in a limited sense, as I see it, is that it is not supported by biblical and extra-biblical usage for its meaning. World is an inclusive term as far as I can tell from its synchronic and diachronic development. I looked this up (TDNT) and found it to be true except for in the time of Homer’s Illiad where it had a composite sense, which is still technically not “limited” in the sense that I think you are talking about here.
Also, while I’m not willing to say that we cannot use theology found elsewhere in Scripture to illumine a particular text, I do think that this should be done last (after exegeting the text on the basis of authorial intent). You seemed to be saying that because God rejects those who do not believe, that he does not love them, and therefore this “world” must be limited. That is not an exegetical approach but a hermeneutical one and it should probably be done last in order to see if the text bears the weight of this interpretation. I do not think that it does.
If I could ask a question: Why do you think that God has to hate those whom he rejects? Not necessarily “why does he reject them?” I am with you there, but I do not correspond God’s rejection with God’s hatred, and I would like to know why you think that is necessary. (This has to do also with your reading of John 3:36 which for you implies God’s hatred because of his wrath.)
To move on (and quickly):
I do agree that none are innocent and that all need to be regenerated and believe. I believe that the Holy Spirit gives this faith. I believe that God gives grace without our meriting it. I believe we all deserve God’s wrath and have postured ourselves as enemies of God. However, I do not believe that because we call God our enemy that he is REQUIRED to call us his enemy. Can I influence the immutable will of God? “This is basic Bible. I'm surprised that you don't know this.” I think you are being disingenuous.
“Clearly, your view is closer to the atheist or universalist view. Perhaps you should join a Unitarian Universalist congregation? That would be perfect for you. “ It is especially this, which bothers me about your comments. I do not hear the love in it which Christians ought to have.

“Again, your obvious ignorance of even basic exegetical methodology astounds me.” It is because of this which I have provided a fuller account of my reading of John 3:16’s use of “world”. Besides, what I had done where I did it was not “exegetical methodology”, I quoted two Scriptures and wrote a sentence.
On your point about Eph. 5:1, are you saying that Christians, because of the particularity of Paul’s letters, are only held to the standard of imitating God among other Christians? I.E. that Christians ought only to love their own, and not love unbelievers? If you do not mean this, then I am misunderstanding you. Could you explain a little more?
On my historical comment on Arminianism, you are correct with regard to the occasion of Arminius’ rejection of Calvinism. But Arminianism doesn’t rely on its antithesis to Calvinism in order to espouse free will. Arminius made a Scriptural case for his rejection of Calvinism, even citing some scripture in the Five Articles. This is only half a defense though. I’ve gone back and read Arminius and am less than thrilled with his philosophical bent in theology…but it is the same critique which I’d give to many of the Calvinists. Calvin had a Platonic streak in his Institutes for instance, so I can’t be surprised at the form which the debate took. That said, I concede my point.
Commenting on Wesley would take too long right now, but I think your bias is obfuscating your representation of him. “Magical” is not a word which Wesley would use to describe prevenient grace and he would not say that it cured original sin or depravity.
“Pelagianism is not ethical at all.” It was an ethical heresy. Augustine recognized the piety of Pelagius and Pelagius traveled to Rome and then North Africa as an ethicist and moralist. Pelagius, because of his concern for good works, wanted to enflesh how they should be done, esp. given moral relaxation post-Constantine. It was still a heresy, but one which historically, was very concerned with following the ethical code of Christianity.
“Reformed theology, on the other hand, acknowledges a practical holiness that also admits imperfection and the need for a constant and continual progression toward a goal that we never reach in this life.” With this statement, you have also succinctly stated Wesleyan theology on sanctification.
“The Bible AND the Calvinist/Reformed position is that regeneration occurs prior to conversion BUT it is simultaneous!” My point (according to logic) is this, if any part of salvation (before or after regeneration) is contingent on human action, it is synergy. (Regeneration cannot be isolated as the moment of salvation. I think Scripture even treats salvation as a process.) If synergy does not obtain, then at any given moment human action must be overridden by God’s sovereign activity in each human being, to the degree that we are controlled by him and never truly free, neither in capacity nor in will.
If you are going to emphasize God’s sovereignty to such a high degree, then I at least desire an exploration of where it leads. Why should it not be that God even controls people’s minds? In saying that we incur God’s wrath by our action, are we not exercising some influence upon God? Are we not synergistically affecting our damnation? If God is sovereign, then how can any of us pluck ourselves from His hand? How could we defy such a God in the first place?
Calvinism, it seems to me, is uncomfortable with mind control, does say that God justly condemns sinners for their OWN evil choices, we cannot affect God’s will, that even the elect were under wrath at one point, and that God allowed free choice before the fall. Between these two, I see logical contradictions which prevent me from taking this view.
I am a Wesleyan because I read Scripture and have found my theological interpretation of it to be justifiable. But I am a Christian, not because I understand soteriology, but because I read scripture and have believed that Christ has extended grace to save me from sin and called me to transform my life. I do not question your Christianity, Charlie. From what I have seen, you are extremely concerned with right doctrine in an age of relativity and pluralism. I see that you are not given over to some irrationality as a reason for rejecting the faith. I will continue to dialogue with you as I have time, but it will help me if you do not impugn me so virulently.
You do not have to accept my view, but if I am a Christian, then certain degrees of rejection of me, will proportionally be rejecting Christ who lives in me.
As a final note, I do not really want to talk about Asbury. You may have your views right or wrong. It is not for me to speak on Asbury’s behalf, but for your information, the faculty do not make those sorts of staff decisions. With that said, I respectfully ask that you not gossip with me any more.
Peace Charlie,

Charlie J. Ray said...

Shamby, the last time I checked, that which is spoken and written openly and in public is not "gossip." Lawson Stone has openly taught what I said about him in his classes and he has said as much to me in person. I'm quite sure I could back it up from his written papers as well.

Regarding the sovereignty of God and the use of kosmos in John, I must say that your diatribe was the lengthiest red herring and non sequitur I've seen in ages. The fact that you think that man regenerates himself by having faith from himself by his own choice is the clearest example of pelagianism I have ever seen.

And, again, I must say your theology is obviously upsidedown that I don't know quite what to say. You act as if we call God our enemy and that God does not call us enemies. First off, God answers to no man. Not even you. Thus, if we ignore God and treat him as our friend, that in no way removes the fact that we are enemies of God by the mere fact that we refuse to acknowledge him or to bow before him in humble obedience.

No, we are object of God's wrath and remain under the wrath of God and are counted as God's enemies because the Bible says so. See John 3:36; Romans 5:8-10; Ephesians 2:3, etc. We are also in complete bondage to sin until Jesus sets us free (John 8).

God is not "required" to do anything at all. God does what he does precisely because he is God and is subject to no man. Therefore, when the wicked rebel, they will answer to a just Judge who judges perfectly because he is by very nature holy, perfect, good, and just. God's justice requires that he will not allow evil to go unpunished, which is why there must be a vicarious/substitionary atonement for sin.

Your very response proves that your view is not even in accord with Arminianism but with pelagianism because you think that we treat God as our enemy rather than the other way around. There are those who do not even acknowledge there is a God but in their conscience they have the basic intuition that there must be a God. Rather, God treats all of mankind as His enemy simply on the basis of the fall of Adam. The Bible does not require that God treat us as his enemy. The Bible simply states that that IS the state or condition of things and that God by very nature cannot tolerate evil creatures.

God's justice would require that he would annihilate and punish forever in hell the entire human race from Adam down to the end of time. The fact that he does not do so is mercy.

I might also mention that you seem to misunderstand the Reformed/Calvinist position. God does not control the free actions of free moral agents. The fact that he turns mankind over to a reprobate mind and the sinful nature is an act of his justice against Adam and all of his progeny. Otherwise, what are we saved from except God Himself?

Our sins make us deserving of God's justice, which is eternal punishment in hell. God is not obligated to show mercy to anyone, otherwise it isn't mercy. According to your view, God would be unjust for destroying mankind in the flood, or ordering genocide in the holy wars of the Old Testament, or sending plagues and famines to destroy multitudes of people.

You're running from God as he really is. You're rather like the man who pretends to look into the face of God but really does not.

If you saw God as he really is, you would drop dead from fright because of your sins. I find it humorous that you accuse me of reading my own views into my understanding of God while pretending that you yourself are somehow superior or above being wrong.

The fact is, the Bible is the final authority above theologians, seminaries, etc. Asbury is not the magisterium and I for one will think for myself. Sola Scriptura, however, does not mean that we are free to reinvent Christianity as the theologians do. No, we are bound by the confessional statements of the Protestant Reformation and by the ecumenical creeds precisely because they express what the Scriptures teach and what the church universally agrees IS the teaching of Scripture.

To say otherwise is to depart from orthodoxy, which it seems to me you have already done.

Regarding the "mind" of man, you misunderstand the distinction between the primary and secondary causes God utilizes to accomplish his will among his creatures. The reprobate he merely turns over to do according to their evil nature. While the elect, God gives the particular grace to believe and who he calls effectually by the means of the hearing of the Gospel.

I would not disagree with Arminians on the issue that we must respond but I differ in that I believe Scripture teaches that the response itself is God's grace working particularly in the elect. Your view makes salvation a crap shoot while mine makes salvation sure, certain and guaranteed for the elect. Not one of the elect will be lost. Your view makes salvation subject to capricious human beings who are slaves to sin. My view makes salvation all of God and most certain and sure for every single person he determined to save from the foundation of the world.

Your view makes God weak and subject to change. My view understands that God knows all, sees all, and determines everything that happens from beginning to end. My view understands that God permits evil and that is why it is here. Your view makes evil somehow God's equal because God cannot overcome it.

No, God decreed the fall prior to the fall and God decreed that evil would exist by His permission, even though evil goes against his prescriptive will and revealed will in the Bible. (Deuteronomy 29:29).

Arminianism is inconsistent and illogical. How can God foreknow who will choose him as Savior if the future is contingent and uncertain? And if the future is uncertain, then salvation is uncertain and there is no good news at all.

If mankind is "free" as you contend, then why are the vast majority of them "slaves to sin"? Why do they refuse to see or hear the Gospel even when it is openly published and preached to them?

And if it is God's will to save everyone, then why do many not even hear the Gospel in the first place? The Bible clearly says that the only means of salvation is Jesus Christ and the Gospel preached. To say otherwise is to deny Scripture and to appeal to human reason in its place.

No. You sir are the compromiser. I stand on Scripture and what it plainly says while you appeal to Karl Barth and your false understanding of Scripture and who God is. This is why Asbury is headed in a liberal direction. The seminary is producing pelagians like yourself who think they are good but inwardly they are dead. You're like a whitewashed sepulchre. You impress your Arminian friends with your seeming holiness but inside you know you fall short. You know you would not stand a chance if you were standing before God Himself in the judgment.

As Luther put it, you're a pile of fresh manure. But are you covered with the blood of Jesus? This is the only justification which can make you acceptable to God. All of your righteousness is as filthy rags before God. Even if you gave your body to be burned it would not merit your salvation or justification one whit in the judgment.

Even if you read all the books in the world, you would not equal God's omniscience. When will you acknowledge that God gave you your very life? That God gave you your breath and your heartbeat? That God gave you your gender and your ethnicity? That determined the geographical and temporal location of your birth? That determined who your parents were and every ancestor in your lineage all the way back to Adam?

God knows every hair on your head and he will cut your life short at any time he chooses. You, my friend, are not in control of any of that. But you arrogantly assume that you are somehow your own little god. But you will die like a mere mortal. Psalm 82:6-7.

The theologians rise in their towers of Babel. But in the day of judgment they will tremble in God's very presence. Of this I am certain. I fear no man. But I fear the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell. (Luke 12:4-5; Matthew 10:28).

Does it bother you that I have little regard for the false security of higher education? I have been there and done that. I have no doubt that there are endless rabbit trails that you may chase. But in the end the Gospel is so plain and simple that even a child can understand it and be saved (2 Timothy 3:15-17).

I am by no means an anti-intellectual. However, know the limits of reason and rationalism. Only revelation has authority in matters of faith. God has appointed the Holy Scriptures as the final authority, not reason. In the Wesleyan quadrilateral, Scripture sits at the apex, not on equal par with tradition, reason, or experience. Calvin himself understood that Scripture will judge the church and not the other way around.

Peace,

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

1. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: (Eph. 1:11, Rom. 11:33, Heb. 6:17, Rom. 9:15,18) yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, (James 1:13,17, 1 John 1:5) nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. (Acts 2:23, Matt. 17:12, Acts 4:27–28, John 19:11, Prov. 16:33)

Ch. III, section 1.

The Westminster confession of faith : An authentic modern version. 1985 (Rev. EPC ed.). Signal Mountain, TN: Summertown Texts.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Shamby, the last time I checked, you have not answered any of the biblical texts I've cited in favor of the Reformed view. I can only conclude that you are blinded by sin and refuse to acknowledge the plain meaning of the text. The Bible quite clearly says that God will destroy the sinner in hell. How you reckon that to be "love" is beyond me.

Quoting John 3:16 and Matthew 5:46-48 does not do away with numerous other texts which clearly show God's wrath against sinners. You have failed to answer even the point I made about the universal flood. And Romans 1:18-21; Romans 9 both clearly show that God's wrath is revealed against sinners, i.e., all those who are not believers. John 1:12-13 speaks to the fact that only believers are authorized as children of God. The others are objects of His wrath (Ephesians 2:3).

It might sound sophisticated to throw out the trinity anytime God's wrath against sinners is mentioned but what does that have to do with anything? Clearly you're bending over backwards to defend God from being accused of injustice.

God needs no defense. He is sovereign over both good and evil and evil exists only by God's decree to permit it to exist. And Isaiah 47:9 clearly says that God is in control of natural disasters and calamities. I suppose it troubles you that God might have sent hurricanes and earthquakes to judge the peoples of the earth? Katrina and the sunami of 2004 perhaps?

The fact that you view pelagianism as a positive "heresy" speaks volumes about your lack of understanding of the Gospel.

Furthermore, Augustine dates all the way back to the 4th century and was the first to contend against the pelagians in favor of the Gospel of grace and God's sovereignty. But you, on the other hand, openly side with Pelagius.

Amazing.

Perhaps you should re-examine John Newton's famous hymn, "Amazing Grace"?

Charlie J. Ray said...

"I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things." (Isaiah 45:7, ESV)

"The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies." (Psalm 58:3, ESV)

[1]
[1] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Shamby said...

"The last time I checked, you have not answered any of the biblical texts I've cited in favor of the Reformed view." Then you didn't check. I quoted John 3:16 in response to your statement at the beginning of this second exchange between us when you said, "Scripture in fact says that God loves only those whom He has determined to save. The elect." I've looked, and you did not, as far as I can see, quote or offer any specific Scripture in support of the Reformed view prior to this comment.

Therefore, I am taking one at a time, namely the first Scripture that is contested in its interpretation between us. Again, I ask you to show me my error. What I hear you saying at this point is YES,BUT...and then you've cited the Scriptures that you use to support your view. I'm willing to examine your exegesis in due course, but right now I stand by my interpretation of John 3:16 until you give your assent or show me where I'm wrong.

Furthermore, you have not yet answered why God's wrath implies God's hatred from Scripture. Why haven't you answered this question?

I desire to make the point that God's wrath is justifiable, but Scripture does not require it to imply his hatred. The flood therefore demonstrates God's wrath, but not His hatred.

"The Bible quite clearly says that God will destroy the sinner in hell. How you reckon that to be "love" is beyond me." The Bible also quite clearly says that unbelieving humans bring hell upon their own heads. Some people freely choose hell, but "God demonstrated his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." He did not love us after we had come out from under His wrath, He loved us in the midst of His wrath. This "love" is beyond you, yes; it is beyond all of us.

As for our using the "God's wrath" logic for hurricanes and earthquakes in modern times, we do not have the privilege of inspiration such as the Biblical authors had, and it would be conjectural to point to these events as "judgments". Maybe yes, maybe no; but God has not inspired us with that insight.

Jesus Christ qualifies the sorts of conclusions on natural disaster-dispensations of judgment. The Tower of Salome did not kill the unjust only, death is indiscriminate and all are sinful. The blind man was not blind because he or his parents had sinned more than others. The rich man was not blessed of God for his righteousness. These mediate texts like Isaiah 47:9. God controls/allows and can use these things to accomplish his purposes, but they do not fatalistically imply God's acute judgment whenever they strike.

Again, I ask your view on Christian ethics. Are we to love only the elect, or are we to love all human beings?

Anyway, if you are looking for an answer to a point you made and I haven't commented (such as the Flood) I will try to comment if you can just remind me. Content runs long in these things and I'm a bit busy.

Oh, and no one is disagreeing that belief is necessary to be children of God (John 1:12-13 comment), nor that unbelievers are objects of wrath (Eph. 2:3 comment). I'm not sure how these texts show that God does not love unbelievers, so let me know if your making a connection which I'm not aware of.

I never said that Pelagianism was a positive heresy. Common on Charlie. I was commenting on its historical context, in which it was extremely conscious of morality. Recognize the difference. "You...openly side with Pelagius." If you can't interpret what I am saying better than that, how can you ever expect to be interpreting Scripture correctly?

Charlie J. Ray said...

Shamby said>>> As for our using the "God's wrath" logic for hurricanes and earthquakes in modern times, we do not have the privilege of inspiration such as the Biblical authors had, and it would be conjectural to point to these events as "judgments". Maybe yes, maybe no; but God has not inspired us with that insight. ......

Jesus Christ qualifies the sorts of conclusions on natural disaster-dispensations of judgment. The Tower of Salome did not kill the unjust only, death is indiscriminate and all are sinful. The blind man was not blind because he or his parents had sinned more than others. The rich man was not blessed of God for his righteousness. These mediate texts like Isaiah 47:9. God controls/allows and can use these things to accomplish his purposes, but they do not fatalistically imply God's acute judgment whenever they strike."

My response>>> SO... IF all are sinners, then would God NOT be JUST IF He sends natural disasters to punish mankind? Simply because ALL are equally sinners, would God then be unjust for executing His wrath against general populations, particularly when the majority of them are unbelievers? You seem to think God is uninvolved in the details of day to day events, history, natural disasters, etc. In fact, your view is closer to deism than biblical theism.

The Bible teaches that God sustains the very universe from one moment to the next. How you can think that God is not in control of natural disasters or that God does not execute His wrath against sinners in this life is beyond me. The tower at Siloam demonstrates that God can and does execute His wrath against us and those who died in the tower collapse are not worse sinners. The implication is that WE could face a similar judgment. WE are NOT as good as we think we are. In fact, we deserve what those killed at Siloam got. That is the point Jesus is making. He isn't saying it was just another random event and God's wrath had nothing to do with it. In fact, he's saying exactly the opposite! God DID execute His wrath against sinners... And IF they were not worse sinners than we, then the same could happen to us If we are depending on our own good works to justify us before God.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Regarding your misinterpretation of John 3:16, I have already answer that point but you conveniently ignored it. John's Gospel over and over particularizes the elect over against the unbelieving world as does Matthew's Gospel. When John says that God loves the world, he then particularizes and qualifies that to say that those who do not believe are CONDEMNED ALREADY BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOT BELIEVED IN THE NAME OF THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD. That verse alone blows your interpretation straight out of the water. EVEN a consistent ARMINIAN interpretation cannot ignore the fact that God's love is qualified and conditional to FAITH. Thus, your view that God loves every single individual in the world is not even consistent with the Arminian view. Unless and until a person believes, they are condemned already. HELLO!

John 1:11-12 says that only those who believe have the right to be called the children of God. Again, the world is not a generic term for every single individual in the world. Rather, the term "world" in John 3:16 refers to the the elect throughout the world.

Also, I have already shown that in John 3:3-8 the act of regeneration is a sovereign act of God the Holy Spirit who comes and goes like the wind. Unless He regenerates the sinner the sinner cannot see the kingdom of God. "Ye must be born again" is not a conditional statement telling us what we must do to be saved. On the contrary, Jesus is stating the fact that unless the Holy Spirit regenerates us we cannot see the kingdom. To confirm this, Jesus says flatly that the second birth is analogous to the the first birth. Just as we cannot cause our first birth, and as we cannot enter our mother's womb to be born a second time, we are born again only by God's sovereign will. God alone can raise the dead or make a man be born anew.

Jesus knows the sheep by name (John 10:1-10) and calls those who are not yet part of the flock, those who are scattered throughout the world (John 10:16).

And to clarify it even more, NO ONE can come to Jesus EXCEPT he be drawn by the Father (John 6:37-39, 44, 65). Those who do not come to Jesus were unable to come and refuse to come and are NOT drawn to Him. Only the elect actually come to Jesus. (Matthew 22:1-14).

The Reformed view beats the Arminian view hands down. Arminianism naturally leads to deism, open theism, or even atheism since it cannot answer the problem of evil and instead seeks to cater to the rebellious objections of rebels and sinners who could care less that they are mere creatures in the hands of an angry and just God.

Cry out for mercy before it is too late. Be sure that your sins will find you out. All have sinned in thought, word and deed... in what we have done and what we have left undone. We have sinned in ignorance and we have sinned willingly and knowingly. We have not fulfilled the law of love. To deny this is to ignore the perfect law of God which requires perfect obedience. God does not grade on a curve. You either score 100% or you fail. If you fail, then you can only deserve hell.

Who then can save you from your sins?

Christ Jesus our Lord!

Charlie J. Ray said...

Fatalism has nothing to do with God. In fact, fatalism is a pagan concept based on an agnostic or atheistic belief that fate is a blind determinism and capricious at best. It is an attempt to deal with the problem of evil without appealing to the Christian theistic worldview.

The Reformed view, and I would say the Lutherans would agree, is that God sovereignly controls by His providence everything that happens. His secret will is beyond our view at this time. However, God is a perfect being who is just, holy, and benevolent toward even His enemies. But He most certainly never acts capriciously or in some blind rage. Rather, God's wrath is calculated, logical and yet based on His justice and His hatred and disapproval of evil.

Your comment that God is fatalistic shows your complete lack of understanding of the personality of God, who is perfect in nature and three in personhood. This is the weakness of Arminianism. It cannot comprehend the doctrine of God.

Charlie J. Ray said...

God does not love unbelievers. He shows benevolence toward them. Even if we contend that God loves the wicked, there is no way that we can say that God loves the unbeliever the same way He loves the believer. The believer is a child of God and has been adopted as part of God's family.

How can you deny that Scripture says God hates the wicked and that God hated Esau and loved Jacob before they were born and before they did either good or evil?

Shamby said...

As for the Tower of Salome, I know. I said, "The Tower of Salome did not kill the unjust only, death is indiscriminate and all are sinful." It should have read "...did not kill the only unjust..." I realize my wording was awkward and misleading...it sounded right last night. I hear what you are saying that all sinners deserve death. The logical question which I am led to ask regarding the Tower of Salome is, "Why have I, a sinner, been allowed to live?" Hence, death is indiscriminate. Not all sinners die from an experience of God's earthly judgment, hence why we should not view Salome as an isolated incident of God's judgment. To be sure, God will issue judgment in the end.

I'll talk about John 3:16 later, not enough time right now.

Fatalism--while all that you said may be true, I'm not sure why you are arguing with me about it. I said, "God controls/allows and can use these things to accomplish his purposes, but they do NOT fatalistically imply God's acute judgment whenever they strike." I did not adopt the term, I opposed it.

God's hatred of Esau and love of Jacob. I was waiting for you to bring that up. Exegesis is so important. The language is covenantal. It is consistent with the context. When two partners in Ancient Mesopotamia, they used the language of love. To keep the conditions of a covenant was to "love" the other party. It was not a pathological term of endearment, but a euphemism for obedience and loyalty to the relationship. Hatred was the opposite. To hate the party in the covenant, was to break the conditions of the covenant.

SO God made His covenant with Abraham and Isaac. When it came to Isaac's two sons, God kept His covenant with the one and not the other. He 'hated' Esau because he did not keep covenant with him. He 'loved' Jacob because He did keep his covenant with him. "Inheritance" language is in Mal. 1 so I think this interpretation is legitimate. God's salvation purpose was to be fulfilled through Jacob (elected, yes--Rom 9:11). But again, this "hatred" is not pathological hatred.

In Rom.9, Paul is explaining why salvation has been extended to the Gentiles. God's mercy is not excluded from them because He is free to save whom He will save. Again, in Rom.9, the language of hatred and love is covenantal. I do not deny any of this.

"Beloved, let us love one another, for God is of love and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for GOD IS LOVE." I do not hear John saying that 'God is hate'.

So, are we supposed to love everyone, or only the elect?

Jason

PS Charlie, you frustrate me. I admit that. However, I do appreciate that you are willing to dialogue with me. I really don't care whether you think I'm a Christian or not. I have assurance of my faith in Jesus Christ. So you can compare Arminianism to all sorts of nasty things. So thank you, if that is worth anything to you.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Shamby said: >>>>SO God made His covenant with Abraham and Isaac. When it came to Isaac's two sons, God kept His covenant with the one and not the other. He 'hated' Esau because he did not keep covenant with him. He 'loved' Jacob because He did keep his covenant with him. "Inheritance" language is in Mal. 1 so I think this interpretation is legitimate. God's salvation purpose was to be fulfilled through Jacob (elected, yes--Rom 9:11). But again, this "hatred" is not pathological hatred.<<<<

There is only one problem with your exegesis. It is not in the TEXT! The text clearly says that BEFORE they were EVER born, BEFORE they had done good or evil God loved Jacob and hated Esau. This means that God did not reject Esau on the basis of his evil choices. Rather the text flatly says that BEFORE Esau was born and had sinned God hated him. While I would agree with you that this is not the human sort of hatred, it does mean that God did not accept Esau. Whether you view this covenantally or not Esau was on the outs with God and God on the outs with Esau prior to his birth or doing good or evil.

What is the explanation? Easy. Covenant. Adam broke covenant with God and brought the curse upon all of his progeny. Thus, simply on the basis of original sin God is just in rejecting anyone. This is God's sovereign choice and not fatalism or capriciousness. God has mercy on whom He will have mercy and owes not even one of us mercy. He could justly damn all of us.

And thus, the tower of Salome proves that God can justly cut our lives short. He answers to no sinful creature. God woke you up this morning and he will lay you down to sleep tonight. The fact that you are still alive is God's mercy. He doesn't owe you anything. Thank God for your very life.

When will you bow to God and acknowledge that everything comes from God and not one iota is due to your own goodness or to any debt you think God owes you. Thank God for grace.

Pelagianism is not ethical at all simply because it refuses to acknowledge original sin and the sinful nature. Thus, pelagianism is a lie. How can a lie be an "ethical" heresy????

Pelagianism implies there is no need for a savior and that man is inherently good. Pelagius was the first theological liberal. Thank God that Augustine rose up against it. Everything later, including Rome's return to semi-pelagianism and Arminianism's departure from Augustinian theology and the Council of Orange, etc., is just a departure from the Gospel.

Salvation is all of God as Charles Spurgeon put it.

Charlie J. Ray said...

We are to show benevolence to all mankind, including our enemies. But we do not love every single individual in the same way. I love my wife more than my mother, etc.

Likewise, we have a special love and affection for those in the household of faith. But we only have a general benevolence for the homeless, the prisoner, the rebel, and our enemy.

Surely you don't love a terrorist on the same level that you love God? God deserves our single and undivided love, affection and loyalty. We do not love the wicked that way. Rather, we pity them and pray for them and show them kindness, charity and benevolence. It's not the same thing at all. We're not in covenant with the wicked. We're in covenant with God.

Again, you try to muddy the waters but wind up shooting yourself in the foot. God shows charity and kindness even to the reprobate during their time on earth but in the end this kindness and mercy only leads to their greater condemnation because they reject God's benevolence and the Gospel.

Shamby said...

I recognize that God's election of Jacob and rejection of Esau was prior to their birth. It was not because of their deeds that God selected the one and not the other for His covenant. I do not think that this precludes the remarks which I've made--I said nothing about merit. I'm not sure then, what is wrong with my exegesis since it seems like we are for the most part, in agreement.

As to Pelagianism, perhaps you are reading categorical acceptance of Pelagianism when I say it was an ethical heresy. I agree that Pelagianism was a heresy. By its concern for ethics, I do not mean that it is useful for salvation, but that it attempted to follow strict moral guidelines in an attempt to achieve righteousness (which they could not). Pelagius was a revered moralist (Augustine called him a monk). I am not speaking theologically when I say it was an "ethical" heresy. I am speaking historically and in contradistinction to Christian ethics post salvation. I think I am strong biblical grounds...but I am not sure why we are arguing about it, since we both agree that it is properly a heresy.

Although I would make a correction on the idea that Pelagianism viewed humanity as morally good. I think it viewed humanity as morally NEUTRAL, and actions formed ones disposition one way or the other. That is what Pelagius taught to my knowledge--not good, neutral. But here, please hear that I am speaking HISTORICALLY, and NOT making a theological statement about what I think is the case. I do NOT think it is the case, since I think we are inherently fallen.

Shamby said...

Thank you for answering the last question. You've stated it well, I think. I am trying to figure out whether I can reconcile what you have said with my own views. I’m hung up on what you mean by “benevolence, kindness, and charity” in distinction to “love”. Scripture speaks to our conduct with unbelievers as well as believers, and they are not treated equally. I think we can agree on this. However, I hear Scripture saying something stronger on love for sinners than I think I hear you speaking to.
Paul deals so much with harmonious living within the Church, that the particularity of his letters implies that his injunctions to love are within the Church setting. However, I do not for that reason, read all of these injunctions to be reductionistic—that is, isolated to commands to love the Church only. Is Paul in Philippians 2, for instance, telling them to consider other Christians better than themselves, or all people everywhere? I would say all people everywhere because this command is coming in the midst of persecution and Paul desires the Philippians to have pure motives and to express love even to their oppressors. Ephesians seems like more of an injunction to love directed within the community of believers specifically, especially because the end deals with harmonious living in Christian relationships. So there is both. (I am not necessarily saying this because I think you are making the argument. I can’t quite tell.)
To further may case, consider Galatians 6:10 “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially those who belong to the family of believers.” This follows Paul’s explanation of our faith being perfected through love. This is helpful because the good which we do is considered the same regarding its ethereal value and it is the priority—our obligation to the community of believers—which brings the distinction.
Also, Jesus Christ taught us to love God and love our neighbor for instance. Who is our neighbor? The very person who was supposed to be our enemy! The Samaritan.

Jesus Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. He loved us and displayed that love for us, while we were still his enemies.

Philippians 2 says we are to have the mind of Christ and Eph.5 says we are to be imitators of God, and in both cases, since I read God's love to be more inclusive, I submit that God desires that we love even those who are not elect.

Benevolence strikes me as missing the heart issue, which Jesus Christ was frequently concerned with addressing. Our love for our enemies is not to be disingenuous but heartfelt. Though it may smell of death to the perishing, it is nonetheless sincere. I do not see scripture precluding this sincerity and humility toward unbelievers.

The OT traces these same themes. The Israelites were not to rape the women of the nations which they fought and they were supposed to tolerate foreigners. For their context, this was radical stuff.

I think that Calvinism erodes this ambitious and robust form of love. It is not a pathological love, as you have said. But it is a heartfelt posture of goodwill and unselfishness toward all people regardless of their being in covenant with God.

Christ's own example demonstrates this. I give Calvin the benefit of the doubt that he did not intend this to be the case. If God can treat different human beings differently regarding His grace, than so can the Elect according to that same grace, which implicitly leads to a sense of elitism, which I do not find Scripturally warranted, when so much of Scripture suggests that human beings are equal, equal with regard to sin, but also equal regarding gender, race, and despite social status. This does not become an ontological reality only within Christianity. It is the way it is supposed to be according to Creation. However, when this is undermined by rank according to salvation, it allows all sorts of unintended consequences. I will leave them unmentioned because I do not wish to accuse.

Shamby said...

It is not, therefore, out of pity, which we show kindness to the sinner. It is rather out of a love for God and for God's sake that we love what God also loves and loved first.

It is not so much that I love others more than I love God. I love others for God's sake just as I love God for God's own sake. In so far as I am loving others, I am loving God, and so my love for others can never exceed or replace my love for God. This is the ideal, but I admit that I am still being perfected in love by the Holy Spirit.

Augustine says that we are to love sinners for what they can be potentially. I think this informs how Christians are to love quite a bit.

How much of this would you affirm? I think you desire to preserve the term “love” as a specifically salvific term akin to grace, which you also correspond in an exclusive sense with salvation. For me, “love” is an operative posture towards Creation as a whole because God loves all of Creation. Likewise, grace is operative in all of Creation, through salvation history, preservation of Creation, drawing someone to Christ, saving them, sanctifying them. In short, I see God’s grace working more dynamically, and so loving all, more inclusively, is not something I find repugnant but actually holy. I know you will disagree with this, but it will probably be because you find the “wasting of His grace” distasteful to the idea of God’s sovereignty. However, I do not see God’s essence being diminished by human rejection of His grace. It is rather, the rejection of this grace, which forms the essence of sin and enjoins God to justly punish sinners.


As a final thought, which I really can't develop fully right now, is that the Trinity, in its ontology, expresses loving community. This is what drives me as a theologian to think paradigmatically with the lens of God's love in tension with and not predicated by God's sovereignty. God, as loving community, is the paradigm for all love. Thus, by the very fact that God has commanded us to love all people (our neighbors), there is something of that image of love which we convey in our love for sinners.

I wish to affirm that I agree with you that "We have a special love and affection for those in the household of faith." But I think, as you might agree, that this love is in the bonds of covenant (under grace), which is why it is special. However, I distance myself from the idea that love is strictly "covenant" love. Otherwise, I do not see the point for even benevolence and charity towards sinners, since it precludes relationship until once within the bonds of the Church. God's loving reciprocity within Himself and also with us in the economy of salvation, does not seem to have those sorts of conditions, rather it is sin which erodes this relationship and makes it less than it could be in potential.

At the risk of digressing, I at least wanted to express how a theological approach with God’s love as a contending paradigm can operate in what I think is a coherent way and a Scriptural way. I’ve written much, and I know you will not agree with all of it. I do not mind your chastening me, but I appreciate when it is not so polemical because I think at those points, I can understand you better. Your last two posts were helpful as well as what you said about ecumenism a while back. Can I ask where the Reformed view justifies these differences regarding love and benevolence in Scripture? This is not a challenge, but genuine curiosity.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Shamby, I was an Arminian for most of my life. Except as a young boy I did attend a Presbyterian church a few times. However, I did not understand the differences at that time.

What troubled me about the Arminian position over time was the idea of God's being all powerful, all knowing, and everywhere present. We are all natural born pelagians and as Christians, Arminianism is the natural inclination until the grace of God awakens the sinful Christian to the fact that he or she has not progressed very far in sanctification. In fact, it is nowhere near perfection. Sanctification is a lifelong process with many ups and downs along the way and it is only God who can keep us in that process (Philippians 2:11-13). It is God working in us although we are to work on ourselves. Sanctification is a gift.

That being said, I think your understanding of grace is lacking. By your own admission grace can be rejected (in the Arminian view, that is). So by your own admission grace is therefore ineffective and cannot change even one person since the will can trump grace. That in effect is a return in the direction of pelagianism, which is why it is a "semi-pelagian" view. So the possibility exists that everyone presently living could reject Christ. Such grace is mostly ineffective. Such grace is not "wasted." It is a grace that does not accomplish anything and leaves God weak and helpless to save anyone at all. Salvation is left up to capricious sinners.

Your view denies that sinners are in total bondage to sin when the facts show otherwise. Out of the vast majority of humans living on earth today at least 80% are unconverted to any form of Christianity at all. So your efforts to extend God's love to all is a miserable failure. So what is your point? You give a great show, facade but the reality is Arminianism does not deliver what it allegedly wants to give.

You asked about God's love. God loves those who are presently in hell? Since creation sinners in rebellion have gone to hell by way of the soul and in the future there will be a resurrection of the body and soul together for a final judgment where they will be cast body and soul into hell. Is this the same kind of love God has for the elect? Surely you don't eternally torment an object of your love? The reason God created mankind was to glorify Himself and that the creature could glorify and worship God and enjoy God forever. Surely you cannot confuse God's love for the wicked who suffer in hell eternally with his love for the elect who enjoy Him in His presence forever?

This goes without saying. God does not "love" the wicked. He shows them mercy and patience until they are cut off. And they are condemned not because they were not elect but because they refuse to worship God and accept Jesus Christ (Romans 1:18-21).

If one accepts the doctrine of God, then the Reformed position is unavoidable. While Arminianism attempts to circumvent the implications of a all powerful and perfect God, the attempts are irrational and fail at almost every point.

God's grace is particularly given and never fails to accomplish precisely what God intends for it to accomplish:

"“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it." (Isaiah 55:10-11, ESV)

Does God love Egypt the way God loves Israel? Does God love Esau the way God loves Jacob?

I think not.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Shamby, morally "neutral" implies that mankind is born "good." In the original creation mankind was created good. Pelagianism taught that man only "became" a sinner after giving in to temptation and committing "actual" sins. The unavoidable implication is that each man is born good and only becomes sinful in following after Adam and not by the federal guilt of original sin or by the corruption of the human nature, image and likeness through the natural generation of all Adam's progeny.

We are born guilty of original sin because Adam is the federal representative of all mankind (Romans 5:12-18). If Adam does not represent us all, then neither can Christ vicariously represent the elect in his atoning death for sinners.

Likewise, Scripture clearly says that we are sinful from birth:

"The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies." (Psalm 58:3, ESV)

"Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." (Psalm 51:5, ESV)

"You have never heard, you have never known, from of old your ear has not been opened. For I knew that you would surely deal treacherously, and that from before birth you were called a rebel." (Isaiah 48:8, ESV)

God does not foreknow that we will choose Christ. He foreknows that left to ourselves we would all choose rebellion! So God predestines the elect and foreknows that they will repent because He has determined to give them the effectual call. Again, this is not elitism but grace! (Romans 4:4-5; Romans 9:18).

Rather the holiness movement provokes spiritual pride, elitism, and a false sense of security based on sanctification rather than in an absolutely objective understanding of the active and passive obedience of Christ and in His substitutionary atonement for elect sinners. Jesus dies for His sheep and saves His people who do not deserve it. This is mercy, not elitism!

Justice would require that we get what we deserve. Mercy is we get what we don't deserve!

As for God's perfect community in the divine nature/being among the persons of the trinity, you have ignored the holiness of God which is absolute. An absolutely holy God cannot fellowship with sinful creatures which is why we are separated from God and God needs to be reconciled to us and His wrath needs to be propitiated. Not only so but sinners need to be redeemed from the penalty of the moral law and their sins need to be atoned for and covered.

Your view has it backwards as if we need to be reconciled and appeased so we will accept God. The situation is quite the opposite. GOD needs to be appeased and HE needs to be reconciled to us, who are sinful creatures. So Christ died for us beforehand so that God could be reconciled to us and not that we could be reconciled to God.

God does not need to answer to us but we to God.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Shamby said, "...rather it is sin which erodes this relationship and makes it less than it could be in potential."

In other words, you're saying that where grace did abound, sin did much more abound? Sin is more powerful than grace at least 80% of the time? (Judging from the percentage of professing Christians in the visible churches?)

Scripture clearly says the opposite:

"For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more," (Romans 5:19-20, ESV)

I'm more than willing to lighten up on the rhetoric. However, theology is by nature polemical as your own language has shown. I don't consider all Arminians "lost." However, when Arminians are not consistent even with the Arminian position I do call them on it.

I was an Arminian for at least 10 years or more and was well versed in the Arminian position. I don't think I was "lost." I was just "inconsistent" and "irrational." Anyone reading the Bible from cover to cover enough times can only come away rejecting the Arminian position and accepting the Augustinian position. I would include Lutherans, Calvinists, Zwinglians as being in the Augustinian camp. The Protestant Reformation by and large was based in Augustinianism, which is inherently opposed to Arminianism and implicitly to Amyraldianism.

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

I also notice that you only see salvation as a "potential". Meaning that salvation is a crap shoot. God gives grace to all mankind and hopes someone is strong enough to reject sin.

Looks like it isn't working very often. If it really were just a matter of accepting Jesus and rejecting sin, surely more folks would respond to the "love" you have for them and the "love" God has for the "world" you seem to think he does?

Or could it be that Luther was correct in his diatribe against Erasmus? Maybe there is no free will after all?

Charlie J. Ray said...

Shamby said, "Augustine says that we are to love sinners for what they can be potentially. I think this informs how Christians are to love quite a bit."

Your remark about "potential" is misleading. From God's perspective there is no "potential." God knows the future and has in fact determined it and will providentially bring it to pass. From Augustine's perspective, and by implication Calvin's as well, the "potential" you refer to applies to the elect who have not yet been effectually called, regenerated, converted, etc. We do not know who the elect are among the mass of unconverted individuals in the world. God does know. Thus, we must love all indiscriminately and we must preach the Gospel to every individual possible knowing that God can and will save His elect through the preaching of the Word and the administration of the sacraments.

God's means of grace are the instruments by which he saves, justifies, and sanctifies His elect.

william said...

this is absolutely ridiculous. how can a person be so narrow as to consider Barth a non-christian. what an jerk.

Charlie J. Ray said...

I base my assessment on the overall writings of Karl Barth. Furthermore, we must start with the premise that orthodoxy means we hold to the plain meaning of Holy Scripture as perspicuous. On that basis alone Barth falls short because his doctrine of Scripture is that it is merely a collection of writings in human form and that the Scriptures are not direct revelation from God nor directly inspired of God but that Scripture only "becomes" or "contains" the Word of God or revelation in an existential encounter with individual subjects.

However, the Bible is the divinely inspired and objective revelation or Word of God to man in written form. Even the heathen may read it and understand what it says even if they then reject it. Thus, the Bible is not an existential encounter between the believer and God but an objective revelation of who God is, what God's revealed will is, and of man's fallen condition and need for a Savior.

The real basis of fellowship among Christians can only be soundly developed confessions of faith which are drawn from God's written word or revelation to man. I adhere to the Reformed confessions of faith on the sidebar of this blog.

Those who are outside the pale of orthodox, confessing Evangelicals are questionable and thus their public writings and speaking must be tested by the Scriptures to see whether or not those things which they say and write are in line with God's Word. Karl Barth, while a major influence in modern liberal churches and even in Evangelical circles, fails the test in my estimation. I'm not alone in this assessment as indicated by the critiques offered by the late Dr. Gordon H. Clark and Dr. Carl F. H. Henry.

I might add that I am not swayed by ad hominem remarks by those who are less informed on the particulars of a theological debate on dogmatics. Likewise, I'm not a generalist when it comes to ecumenical relationships. The extent of my ecumenical commitments are "narrow" in that I am Evangelical, Reformed, Anglican, and Calvinist. And even in conservative circles serious compromises with neo-orthodoxy and liberalism are becoming more and more popularized such that broad Evangelicalism is losing its confessional commitments to the Bible and the principles of the Protestant Reformation. It is for this reason that my main ecumenical commitment is to the Confessing Evangelicals movement and to conservative Reformed Anglican circles.

Hope this helps.

Peace.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Shamby, for some reason the following post you made would not publish because of the length of the post or something. So I am publishing it here in two parts.

>>>>>

"Regarding the sovereignty of God and the use of kosmos in John, I must say that your diatribe was the lengthiest red herring and non sequitur I've seen in ages. The fact that you think that man regenerates himself by having faith from himself by his own choice is the clearest example of pelagianism I have ever seen."

I am not convinced that you have dealt with the implications of what I've said. It is not a red herring or non sequitur since it has been mentioned by both of us previously. If God loves the entire world, then he therefore does not hate it, nor those in it. I was not making a case at that point for a particular ordo salutis--rather God's posture toward us a priori. If you think that my interpretation is false, please do not distract yourself from showing me why it is false--so that we both may arrive at the truth.

In reflecting on John a little further, I notice that later in John's Gospel, world is also used in the opposite manner as you have described, i.e. not as the elect, but as those who are 'outside'. Everyone belonged to the world (it would seem from John 1), but in salvation, we do not belong any longer, in a spiritually essential way, to it. Take for instance, what Jesus said in John 15:18-19.

This distinction between those outside the world and the world itself is a unique theological point for John. It might be said in this sense, that the world is "limited" to unbelievers, but this might not be the most appropriate way to see it, in my view. John has established a dichotomy between those who remain in darkness, and those who are brought to a different realm of existence (as a mode of being so to speak) in God. That said, I do not see this as contradicting John's cosmic explanation of the Logos and God's posture toward the world prior to His economic work of salvation. He loved the whole world, though all were in a condition of darkness by being a part of the world. It seems clear to me that God extends his love to all.

I invite you to show me my error by citing your exegetical method--rather than chastening me on the principles of Reformed theology and listing your accusations.

As to being "God's enemies" your points remind me to clean up my language a bit, but I think my question is still the same. Yes, as you have noted, we can actively attempt to thwart God's plan for salvation. In this sense, we are all God's enemies. I'm not sure that the appropriateness of the language of "enemies" is what I was after. Why is it necessary, in your view, for God to "hate" those he does not "elect"? (as I stated in my original question)

Charlie J. Ray said...

Part 2 of what Shamby said:

>>>>>

Also, I would like to know whether we, as Christians, should love only those who are "elected" or if we ought to love all human beings? As per your comments on Eph.5:1 and what followed.

I do not disagree that God could justifiably annihilate we creatures, nor do I negate God's sovereignty. However, I read in Scripture that God tempers His sovereignty with His love--even allowing us to understand God in very human terms--God's self-condescension.

I think you might be misreading my reflections on Calvinism. If we are free moral agents, then God's sovereignty is not over us and He cannot justifiably exercise His wrath on the reprobate. Even Calvin recognized that God could not justifiably damn those to hell who were not aware of Him, which was why a natural theology provided plausible means. So, even the reprobate are contingent upon God's sovereignty, which means they deserve God's wrath and have actively worked themselves into this position, and therefore, they synergistically enable God's damnation of them. This is a contradiction to holding both God’s radical sovereignty and human culpability for sin.

I never said God was unjust and I'm not sure where you are getting this from. I do think that there are aspects of God's justice and grace which we do not fully comprehend.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Part 3 of Shamby's comment:

"while pretending that you yourself are somehow superior or above being wrong." I thought I have made it clear that I can be wrong. Please show me where I expressed the converse.

"To say otherwise is to depart from orthodoxy, which IT SEEMS TO ME you have already done." Thank you for saying "it seems to me". By "church universally" you mean the Reformed Church? Ironically, the ecumenical creeds were written by men who were very friendly with the idea of human free will.

Your representation of my "view" is erroneous. I am not a "liberal" who desires to see humanity exert independence from God.

"Your view makes God weak and subject to change." God became weak in Jesus Christ, and He was described sometimes as having changed His mind.

"If mankind is "free" as you contend, then why are the vast majority of them "slaves to sin"?" We are "slaves to sin" until the Holy Spirit gives us faith to believe that Jesus Christ as the Son of God, offers us salvation. God has given us grace by preventing the full weight of sin to incapacitate our ability to choose to believe. The particular relationship between the Holy Spirit and our own free choice is not a subject which I am prepared to delineate. I don't know. I haven't given it enough thought. I am sympathetic to the role of the Holy Spirit as discussed by Martin Luther, which is why I do not abandon that the Holy Spirit is the author of faith.

I do not believe that God has pre-temporally determined the elect. As I think about such a scenario, I am troubled by its lack of Trinitarian interdependence. As a matter of course, what Scripture's do you read for the pre-temporal selection of the elect? (You happen to be correct that I am unfamiliar with the broad swath of conversation happening in Reformed Theology.)

Many do not choose salvation, then, because they spurn the work of the Holy Spirit and because of the potency of sin. God's grace is enigmatic and His justice and love deals with each person as God's justice and love knows best. However, these are not abstract characteristics of God, but are in fact incarnate in Jesus Christ, and therefore, I am helped to reflect on that incarnation.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Part 4 of Shamby's comment:

>>>>

"How can God foreknow who will choose him as Savior if the future is contingent and uncertain?" Many Arminians will say that these two are not mutually exclusive. God's foreknowledge does not imply His pre-determination of events. From humanity's perspective, it is free to accept or reject Christ. I tentatively accept this position, but I really think its a waste of time to discuss it (even with Arminians). God has not revealed the extent of His omniscience--He has revealed Himself in salvation history and in Jesus Christ as He desired us to know Him. This is therefore my interest in theology.

"And if it is God's will to save everyone, then why do many not even hear the Gospel in the first place?" Because of sin. God's justice and grace knows how to handle this problem. Anything I propose would be conjecture, which I sometimes do, but it is not relevant here.

"your false understanding of Scripture and who God is" I think Scripture teaches that Jesus Christ is Lord and the Son of God who offers salvation. Do you call this false? (1 Cor. 12:3)

"Does it bother you that I have little regard for the false security of higher education?" No, but it would bother me if you did not have any regard for where Christ is present and working in its midst.

"But you arrogantly assume that you are somehow your own little god." It is easier to dismiss me when you tell yourself that this is the case, isn't it?

Gossip is not conditioned by its publicity, but by its speaking ill of another or others. In any case, I still sense that your responses are belligerent, as I hear in your name calling. That it has biblical or historical precedent does not make it better. Christ saw the hearts of people and discerned deadness more acutely than we and Luther's polemicism was no justification for his derision. Have you shown loving kindness toward me by calling me manure and a sepulcher?

I think I shall reserve my peace and return to you yours, it is false while you disbelieve the genuineness of my faith in Christ.
Jason

Charlie J. Ray said...

In the future, please limit all comments to less than 4,000 characters as it will not publish on the blog system.

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

Shamby, I was please to note how many times you appealed to "mystery" and "ignorance" regarding foreknowledge, election, and the "potency of sin" or the sinful nature. Funny, but that was the very criticism leveled against Calvin's Institutes by Dr. Thomas O'Malley during the seminar we did there in the early 1990's.

You really should go back are read Luther's Bondage of the Will in its entirety. Luther is a double predestinarian, unlike Melanchthon who reneged on predestination and went back in the semi-pelagian direction.

I also like the fact that you attributed the potency of sin to the rebellion of sinners who reject Christ. It seems to be your view that sin is more powerful than grace and that your view of a prevenient grace given to all without exception cannot overcome the "potency" of sin. In other words, you're saying that God cannot overcome the potency of sin.

What a weak view of God you have.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Shamby said: "Even Calvin recognized that God could not justifiably damn those to hell who were not aware of Him, which was why a natural theology provided plausible means."

Well, Calvin recognized that Scripture says that natural revelation is enough to condemn those who have not heard the Gospel. The Apostle Paul says that in Romans 1:18ff. But Paul goes on to state that this refusal to acknowledge God's natural revelation of Himself is not only a justification for condemnation but that this refusal to glorify God leads to rebellion in general and all sorts of wickedness. The root of it all is in the human nature corrupted by sin. Paul further particularizes this argument in Romans 3.

Again, you have all backwards. The only justification God needs to damn sinners is the fall of Adam. He could have justly damned everyone just because they are born evil.

You seem to be bending over backwards to make God appear just to sinners. What you should be doing is bending over backwards to show sinners that they are rebels and sinners in the hands of a holy and just God. We have no standing before God at all. Thus, the only option we have is total submission to God. God demands absolute surrender and in fact commands all men everywhere to repent. (Acts 17:30). It isn't a "free offer" but a divine imperative.

Charlie J. Ray said...

And read, rather....

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