1/31/04: The Dark Side of Calvinism
Well, it finally arrived.
George Bryson's The Dark Side of Calvinism is finally
sitting on my desk. Despite only having "seen it from
afar," so to speak, I finally had a chance to look over the
work today. The sub-titles are great: "A
Biblically-based examination, evaluation, and refutation of
the Reformed Doctrine of Redemption and Reprobation" appears
at the top of the cover, and under the title we have, "The
Calvinist Caste System." Very briefly: it is not a well made book.
It is an 8.5 x 11 photocopied "Kinkos" style binding, hence,
not overly easy to handle. It has no Scripture index,
so, to find out what the book says about any single passage
can be very difficult to determine. I likewise noted a
number of sections repeated material found earlier in the book
(something demonstrating the need of those wonderful folks
Of course, the big question everyone is waiting for an
answer for: when George Bryson told me to "read the book" to
find the answers to Genesis 50:20, Isaiah 10, and Acts
4:27-28, was it because we just didn't have time for him to go
over his in-depth exegesis of these key passages, or was
something else involved? Now, WallyBalt, the
Australian/Hawaiian Astrophysicist Guy, had already scanned
the book and informed me that there was not a single reference
to Genesis 50 or Acts 4 in the book. I certainly trusted
someone of Balt's scholarly abilities, but I also wanted to
see it for myself, and I wanted to look for Isaiah 10 as well
(though, obviously, if someone skips the others, they aren't
going to tackle that one!). Having now scanned the
entirety of the book, I can say without hesitation that Mr.
Bryson showed not the first inkling of interest in exegeting,
let alone mentioning, the three passages that I presented on
the BAM debate. They were never mentioned, cited,
quoted, or allowed to wave from the bleachers in the far left
field. I will be playing relevant cuts from the BAM
debate regarding this on next Tuesday's Dividing Line.
Now, I saw a lot of really bad argumentation
going by as I was checking each page for citations of those
three passages. It is clear that since our debate in
2002 Mr. Bryson has determined it would be best to create some
kind of defense regarding John 6. Numerous pages in
different sections are devoted to a very passionate, yet
utterly muddled and incomprehensibly vain attempt to get
around the teaching of the Lord in the synagogue in Capernaum.
And though he directly quotes numerous Calvinists, all of whom
point to the same textual issues (especially the fact that
John 6:44 says all those who are drawn are also raised up),
his tradition is so thick and so impenetrable that he
continuously misses the point. In fact, he can go on to
make these claims (p. 126):
Only in the
imagination of a committed Calvinist do we see that all who
are drawn by the Father come to Christ or believe in Christ.
Only in the
imagination of the committed Calvinist do we see that being
drawn by the Father means that the one drawn must come to
Only in the
imagination of the committed Calvinist do we see that those
who do not come to Christ were not drawn.
I invite the reader
to review John 6:37-44 for a tremendous example of the power
of tradition displayed in these incredible statements.
Is it my committed Calvinist imagination that those given by
the Father and those drawn by the Father are the same group?
Is it my committed Calvinist imagination that all the
Father gives to the Son as a result of being given come
to the Son (Bryson rejects this simple grammatical and textual
fact). Is it just my Calvinist imagination that the
"him" who is drawn in 6:44 is the "him" who is raised up
(another plain textual fact Bryson ignores)? One thing
is for certain: the words of the Lord Jesus recorded for us in
this passage continue to refute every vain effort made by men
to mute their testimony to God's utter sovereignty in the
matter of salvation.
I should, however, note one positive thing: there are
so many citations of good, solid Reformed sources in this book
that I truly believe Mr. Bryson has unwittingly lent us a hand
in "getting the word out." Evidently he feels his
replies are compelling, but in fact, most of the time, he
simply does not provide a comprehensible, let alone a
compelling, reply. Therefore, I truly believe we will
see more folks coming to see the importance of rightly
handling God's truth in the matter of His sovereignty as a
result of this book.
Sungenis on Keating on Matatics on Wheat with Mayo and Lots of
No need to comment on this one. Just read it and try
not to drool.
1/30/04: Contrast: Excellent Means of Making a Point
I have often noted
these amazing words:
When the priest announces the
tremendous words of consecration, he reaches up into the
heavens, brings Christ down from His throne, and places Him
upon our altar to be offered up again as the Victim for the
sins of man. It is a power greater than that of saints and
angels, greater than that of Seraphim and Cherubim.
Indeed it is greater even than the power of the Virgin
Mary. While the Blessed Virgin was the human agency by which
Christ became incarnate a single time, the priest brings
Christ down from heaven, and renders Him present on our altar
as the eternal Victim for the sins of man—not once but a
thousand times! The priest speaks and lo! Christ, the eternal
and omnipotent God, bows his head in humble obedience to the
Of what sublime dignity is the office of the Christian
priest who is thus privileged to act as the ambassador and the
vice-gerent of Christ on earth! He continues the essential
ministry of Christ: he teaches the faithful with the authority
of Christ, he pardons the penitent sinner with the power of
Christ, he offers up again the same sacrifice of adoration and
atonement which Christ offered on Calvary. No wonder that the
name which spiritual writers are especially fond of applying
to the priest is that of alter Christus. For the priest
is and should be another Christ. (O’Brien, The Faith
of Millions, 255-256)
Which is why I find
"Protestants" who toss out Chesterton quotes so amazingly
inconsistent, like this one:
Church is like a thick steak, a glass of red wine, and a good
if so, then the steak will give you Mad Cow, the glass of wine
contains just a few drops of cyanide, and the cigar is laced
with radioactive materials.
When we have brilliant, godly, Scripturally sound men
like Edwards, or Spurgeon, or Warfield to read, who never once
profaned the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ with words and
beliefs like those expressed above by O'Brien, and whose
insights to this day are compelling and convicting, why do we
play games with quotes like Chesterton's? Play with a
loaded gun long enough, and it may well go off.
1/29/04: More on Machen via Mr. Johnson
in response to the Machen citation below, has now accused
me of mis-quoting both Calvin and Machen. Perhaps Mr.
Johnson should look up the meaning of "mis-quoting" in an
English lexicon, just as looking up pseudadelphoi in a
Greek lexicon would have assisted him as well? He cannot
show where the citation is inaccurate or in error: so, he
confuses disagreeing with him on its meaning with a mis-quotation.
The fact is Machen interprets Galatians 2 the same way I do.
He said, "thus
a false brother is a man who claims to be a Christian or is
thought to be a Christian and yet is not." Those are his
words, not mine. Now, the really sad thing (and this
should concern everyone who seeks to proclaim the gospel of
grace to those who have been given a false hope within Roman
Catholicism), Mr. Johnson then says:
Dr. White has also
failed to deal with the fact that even if we agree for the
sake of argument that false brothers are indeed not Christians
(and never were), that still doesn't prove that Roman
Catholics should be considered as such. His argument remains
unproven and will until he seriously deals with these and
There was a time
when Kevin knew why Rome's gospel was false. But
evidently monocovenantalism and a dash of NPism has removed
that knowledge, or at least, that conviction, and now
Trinitarian baptism is sufficient to overthrow Rome's denial
of the sufficiency of the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ
upon the cross. Baptism trumps sacerdotal forgiveness by
priests. Baptism covers over the blasphemous sacrilege
of the Mass, when the priest, the alter Christus,
commands Christ to come down, and Christ bows in obedience!
Trinitarian baptism covers over purgatory, satispassio,
prayers to saints and Mary...all of this is now rendered
secondary by the all-powerful act of Trinitarian baptism!
The Judaizers in Galatia never dreamed of the
perversions of the gospel of grace promulgated by Rome.
Mr. Johnson had better take care. One more step backward
and he will find himself neck deep in the Tiber River.
Throwing exegesis to the wind has a way of leading folks that
The Plain Meaning
The Gobbler (don't ask, we won't tell) pointed out to me today
the ironic words of J. Gresham Machen in his notes on
Galatians...ironic because they appear under the subtitle
"Plain Meaning" as I recall. Please don't ask me where
Machen absorbed these radical Anabaptistic, post-modern,
discrete, separated from the space-time continuum
propositions, but it is truly tragic, isn't it? :-)
Paul here calls the Judaizers "false brethren,"
and the meaning of that term is clear. 'Brother' in Paul's
epistles means 'fellow-Christian,' and thus a false brother is
a man who claims to be a Christian or is thought to be a
Christian and yet is not, or does not show himself by his
present actions to be a Christian at all. It is not a
pleasant term, but the reason why it is not a pleasant term is
that the thing that is designated is not a pleasant thing.
These Judaizers might have seemed to a superficial observer to
be true disciples, but in their heart of hearts, Paul seems to
mean, they were Pharisees rather than disciples of Jesus
Christ. They were depending on their own works for salvation,
and according to the apostle Paul a man cannot possibly do
that if he is to be saved. So, Paul calls them false
brethren. Unlike the leaders of the modern Church the apostle
Paul believed in calling things by their true name.
Machen's Notes on Galatians, John Skilton, Editor. p.
I know, I
know, I promised, so here is a paragraph from the discussion
of 2 Thessalonians 2:15 in the upcoming book:
The burden lies squarely on the shoulders of
the one who would insist that Paul communicated to the
Thessalonians beliefs and doctrines nowhere found in
Scripture. If the Roman Catholic wishes to use this
passage, then he must show us how the Thessalonians were
taught such things as purgatory, the Papacy, and the
Immaculate Conception and Bodily Assumption of Mary, all
dogmas without sound exegetical basis in Scripture. Yet it is
clearly obvious that these were much later developments,
beliefs utterly unknown to the Thessalonians (or anyone else
in the Apostolic period for that matter). If a Latter-day
Saint wishes to find in such a passage a basis for temple
ceremonies and priesthoods and exaltation, the same burden of
evidence must be met.
Deadlines Are Us
I used to get all
of my books done early. That was a decade or more ago.
Doesn't work that way anymore. Bethany House is
expecting a book very soon, and I have a tremendous amount of
work to do. So, instead of even wandering off into the
web so as to experience the temptation of investing time in
replying to folks, I'm going to just post little snippets of
the work as I go along as a teaser....and as a means of
keeping myself on track. One of the chapters deals with
the "gnostic gospels." It begins:
You have seen it
as you stand in line at the grocery store. One of those
scholarly journals with the picture of a space alien dressed
as Elvis also has a big, bright headline that screams out,
“Bible Scholars Discover Jesus Lived in India” or some other
such wildly strange claim. If you are brave enough to
actually pick it up, or if the line is moving very slowly
anyway, you discover that these “Bible scholars” are basing
their conclusions on all sorts of books you have never heard
of before. You’ve never seen “The Gospel of Thomas” or “The
Ascension of Isaiah” in your Bible! And when did the
“Gospel of Mary” make it into the Bible?
1/27/04: Back from the Arctic
Sorry for the delay in getting back to the blog. Arrived
home late Sunday night from New York, and the day after you
get home is always very busy. Anymore it takes you an
hour just to delete all the spam in your mailbox....
Very briefly: the "blog wars" have devolved to the
level of "oh yeah!" I shall allow the various folks out
there to slap each other on the back and congratulate each
other on their ability to repeat their a-contextual traditions
ad nauseum. Those who desire to be subject to
Scripture and derive their beliefs from the text have
already come to their conclusions on the meaning of Galatians
2:4-5. Here is a tremendous example of how tradition can
overthrow exegesis. Oh, by the way, did anyone else
notice that no one bothered, in offering allegedly sound
meanings for "false brethren," to note the only other place it
is used in Scripture? The only other reference is 2
journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers,
dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the
Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness,
dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;
context makes it plain that Paul was not using the term in a
favorable light here, just as in Galatians 2:4. What
kind of dangers would false (but actually covenantally true)
brethren offer to Paul? But looking at cross-references
is really irrelevant when, in the final analysis, the
Scripture is subject to your inescapable traditions anyway.
Let the wise person take note.
1/21/04: Blogging in NY
Greetings from the frozen tundra of Long Island! I watched my
little Weatherbug thingy last night and saw it down around 0
windchill. For a survivor of the last summer in Phoenix (which
set four new records for heat), that's COLD. I am happy to
report one of my Christmas presents, a long leather coat,
handled the wind and cold just fine, however.
Yes, I know, [Pete] is
right, there are better things to be doing than fighting the
blog wars, and given the very close proximity of a book
deadline, I truly must be brief. However, there is benefit to
continuing the conversation simply because it is this very
kind of exchange that, if the issue is left unresolved, leaves
people believing the Word is incapable of communicating truth
with clarity and force.
Part of the current
problem has to do with the fact that those pontificating upon
the issue either did not participate in the original
conversation so as to know the topic ("Saul") or, if they did,
seem to be willing to shift the grounds (pun intended). Let's
refocus and in so doing see that 1) the text is clear, and 2)
those who are claiming to be dealing with the text have
already leapt off into the realm of tradition.
Quick refocusing: The
question that prompted the discuss was, "Are Roman Catholics,
by their Trinitarian baptism, properly called our brothers?"
Some defended the concept. I denied it, and pointed to
Galatians 2:4-5 as basis for not granting such a precious and
important term as "brother" to one who does not embrace the
gospel of grace. Now, if someone wishes to argue that this is
an improper comparison, feel free: the fact that Rome's
"gospel" makes the Galatians heresy pale in comparison is not
to my thinking even an argument. Should someone think
otherwise, please take the time to read Indulgentiarum
Doctrina, the Apostolic Constitution on Indulgences, and
ponder how such words could be called "Christian." Further, if
the argument is, "I don't mean brother as in 'brother or
sister in Christ,' but I mean it as in 'fellow baptized person
about whom I will not make any comment as to whether you share
with me the most foundational, basic, and vital elements of
Christian commitment,' then we are on different planets as
well. Ironically, I'm on the same planet John Calvin was on
when reading this passage:
Now we see in effect why
Saint Paul blameth the Galatians for falling away like
perjured persons towards God, and towards our Lord Jesus
Christ, as having given him the slip, and forsaken the faith
which they had plighted unto him. And by this example we be
warned to hold us to the pure doctrine and simplicity of the
Gospel, without wavering one way or other. For it is not
enough to have the name and title of Christians, no nor yet to
bear the mark of baptism: but we must continue steadfast in
the doctrine of the Gospel. Calvin’s Third Sermon on
Purity of the gospel
seemed, as the two previous citations of Calvin further
indicate, to be the true mark of the faith, not the mere
possession of an "objective" marker, i.e., baptism. That is
certainly the point of Paul in Galatians 2. Ironically, one of
the TR's (truly Reformed) noted:
But why were they called
"false brethren"? Dr. White would have us believe it is
because they did not possess the gospel. And finally Dr. White
gives us his definition of what a brother is, "A brother is a
brother in the bonds of the gospel".
Yes, I believe they were
false brethren because true brethren do not sneak into the
church (hey, they were baptized! That's not
sneaking....unless, of course, you only enter the church by
God's work of regeneration, not by means of any sacramentalism)
seeking to take God's children captive to themselves! False
gospels have a nasty habit of creating havoc that way. But it
does seem Calvin said the exact same thing, so, I wonder how
it is Calvin became (momentarily) infected with Anabaptist
presuppositions disconnected from the space-time continuum?
Unless, just maybe, the text is really as clear as it seems?
Nah, too easy.
Now let's briefly respond
to the ruminations offered today. We were told today that
noting the difference between a noun that indicates action
(“teacher”) and one that indicates relationship (“brother”) is
“of little value.” Ah, well, I feel very refuted! I wonder why
so much of the best exegesis in print makes note of just such
things? This explains how “Saul” can miss such an obvious fact
as Paul’s never addressing the Judaizers/false teachers in
Galatia directly. It is a well known fact that he refers to
them in the third person, never in the second. Hence, his
entire discussion about calling the Galatians his “brothers”
completely misses a rather obvious point: Paul was not talking
about the Galatians when referring to the false brethren who
crept into the church to which he makes reference in that
passage. This is basic level material, but none of
Saul’s cheering section seems interested enough in sound
exegesis to note it and call him on it. He likewise opined:
It is also interesting that
White concedes (as he must) that the pseudadelphoi (false
brothers) were in the Church.
Concede? It has been part
and parcel of everything I’ve said from the start (one of the
problems with coming into the conversation late, I guess).
But, as I have likewise repeatedly noted (and, if you are
actually interested enough in this conversation to follow the
blog entries flying around out there, you will note a
consistent inability to respond to the entirety of the
comments I have made, including the coherence of the passage
shown in the verbs Paul uses to describe the false brethren as
having gained such entrance stealthily and in an
illegitimate manner), they were such falsely. They
“crept in.” Does that really mean they were truly a part of
the church? This is why the visible/invisible distinction,
coupled with the biblical teaching of the nature of the New
Covenant, drives my position (not some external tradition). As
to whether these men performed baptisms or not, I have never
even considered the point, nor does the text. The point is
that they themselves would have been baptized: obviously, you
do not invite brand new proselytes to the inner circle of the
Apostolic band to which Paul makes reference. They may well
have been in the formal fellowship of the church for quite
some time. In fact, it is plain as day they claimed to be
followers of Jesus Christ, had been baptized, and gave forth a
confession of faith. Which is what makes the passage all the
more important: despite all of the credentials, Paul
declares them false brethren. He rejects their profession,
and does not own them as his brothers in the faith.
They are, in fact, his enemies. (And if you are like most
folks at this point you are pulling your hair out wondering
why on earth anyone would want to so read this passage as to
ignore this clear element just to make sure these men are
still called “brothers.” Some are simply contumacious and like
to argue about such things. But for most, there is a one word
answer: tradition. Saul likewise wrote:
One of the key points White
was disputing to begin with was the supposed non-validity of
the baptism of the Church of Rome.
Non-validity? Please, I’m
not nearly as nuanced as that. My argument has been, from the
start, the non-validity of Rome’s gospel. Baptism is
secondary to the gospel, and if Rome does not possess the
gospel, then arguing about her baptism is, obviously,
secondary. Of course I deny the “validity” of Rome’s baptism:
I do so because baptism separated from the truth of the gospel
is an empty act, not the divinely instituted mark of the
follower of Christ. Let’s hope no one will seriously argue for
baptism devoid of truth, separated from the gospel.
Kevin Johnson has chimed
in as well:
Given that, what is the
significance of using "adelphos"/"brother" with
"pseudo"/"false" if not to indicate some sort of relationship
both to the Galatians and to the Church?
Possibly, in light of the
use of the verbs pareiserchomai and kataskopesai
and the adjective pareiskatos, all of which contain
elements of secrecy and dishonesty, the relationship is one of
false and deceptive profession? :-)
The influence of NPism
and other such traditions is clearly seen in Kevin Johnson’s
Please Dr. White, tell us
what the bonds of the gospel are. Do you mean that a brother
is one who has legitimately professed faith in Christ?
No, a brother is one in
whose life the Spirit of God has worked the miracle of
regeneration, has taken out a heart of stone, giving a heart
of flesh, a new nature, resulting in repentance and faith and
confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As such, we
serve a common master, share a common faith, and neither of us
is seeking to enslave the other to a false gospel (does that
seem just a tad…obvious?). The depth to which one will go to
avoid these plain truths is seen in the follow-up:
Where in Galatians is the
word "brother" defined as one "in the bonds of the gospel"?
Hmm, am I seriously being
asked to defend the idea that the term “brother” is
consistently used by Paul in Galatians for those who are, in
fact, opposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and are seeking
to enslave believers? Would Mr. Johnson likewise defend such a
viewpoint in Acts 20:29-30, where we have the very same kind
of false brethren noted, men who are obviously “in” the church
as well, but seek the destruction of God’s people? What would
cause anyone to desire to call such a person
“brother”…outside of some external tradition, that is? But in
answer to the question, do we really have to invest effort in
supporting the supposition that Paul believed the purveyors of
“another gospel” to be outside the realm of the faith (cf.
1:8-9)? No, Galatians does not offer us a dictionary
definition of adelphos: it gives us, instead, a clear
use of the term, both positively and negatively, that we can
allow to have its full impact upon our thinking
if we are willing to be
Mr. Johnson likewise
falls into the same pit as Saul in ignoring the fact that Paul
never addresses the false teachers directly in Galatians, but
is instead writing to the church about them. The direct
rebukes contained therein are to those who were in danger of
abandoning the truth for their sham gospel. Again, this is
basic material, but it seems to disappear in defense of
“baptism makes everyone my brother---quit with all this
‘gospel’ stuff, I want objective certainty based upon human
Well, much more to be
said, but I have duties here on the Island to take care of.
I’m sure my absence from my blog till next week (classes start
Monday evening, teaching both Systematic Theology II and
Development of Patristic Theology Through Augustine in a 5
hour block!) will be touted as my complete capitulation in the
face of the overwhelming insights of the Truly Reformed. Alas,
such is life! I personally will not sweat much over it…in
fact, out here, I won’t be sweating at all!
Headed to NY, but One Thought
Last night I was
directed to the comments of someone with whom I have discussed
the "baptism as sign of objective covenant, Roman Catholics
are our brothers" issue a number of times. I was left
speechless when this person claimed that when he tries to
discuss this with Reformed Baptists, and presents "exegesis"
to them, "there really is little if any response.
Challenges disappear into thin air." To call this
"self-deceptive" is to be very, very kind.
The comments of another were offered on the passage.
I found them fascinating:
Cf Galatians 2:4, speaking of
"false brothers" (Greek pseudadelphos). For those who wish to
know: when pseudo is prefaced to a noun, it does not
necessarily turn that noun into its opposite. That is,
pseudadelphos does not necessarily mean: "they appeared to be
brothers, but in truth they weren't really, really brothers."
Pseudo also prefaces teachers in 2 Peter 2:1. Were they not
really teachers? Of course, they were teachers; but what they
taught was false and faithless. An adulterer is a false
husband, not because he is "not really married," but precisely
because he is untrue to what he is. That, by definition, is a
Let's see if we understand
this...a false teacher is still a teacher, hence, a false
brother is still a brother? Let's remind ourselves of
what Paul said. These are men who were "secretly brought
in." Into what? They "snuck in." Into where?
They snuck in "to spy out our liberty." Our liberty?
Is it not their liberty as well? Why did these
false brethren do this in this secretive, dishonest, hidden
fashion? "In order to bring us into bondage."
Us again? Not them?
A quick review of the facts of this single sentence in
Greek reveals that these were secretive men who snuck in from
outside; they had devious, dishonest, evil motivations, and
sought to bring the very leadership of the Christian Church
into bondage. Now, what is the natural meaning of "false
brother" in this context? A Christian, or a
Next, the comments cited above miss one important
point: it is said that in 2 Peter 2:1 the same prefix is
used of "false teachers." That is quite true.
However, there is a fundamental difference between the meaning
and significance of "teacher" versus "brother." A false
teacher is one who is actively involved in promulgating false
teachings. But what is a false brother? Brother is
a state, a status, a relationship, not an activity, something
the comments above ignore completely. If we say that you
have false teeth, are they really teeth? A noun that
speaks of a state or relationship that has "false" in front of
it would indicate that the relationship really doesn't
exist. And in Galatians 2, in light of the deception
of these men and their nefarious desires, this is clearly the
Were these men "in" the church? Yes, they even
had access to the leadership of the church itself.
Obviously, they were baptized men who made a profession of
faith in Christ. But despite their actions (baptism),
and their words, Paul knew they were false brethren.
And how did he know? Because they did not possess the
gospel. A brother is a brother in the bonds of
the gospel. That is what Paul means.
Now, one of the most amazing efforts to get around this
simple, clear fact is to abandon the context, ignore the text,
and run to a completely different context and a
completely different usage of the term "brother." Paul
referred to the Jews as "my brethren, my kinsmen according to
the flesh" (Romans 9:3). Of course, a brief
consideration of the text reveals that the term "brethren"
here is being used of fleshly relationship, Paul being a Jew.
There is no logical or rational connection to the use in
Galatians 2, nor can such a connection be forged.
My dear friend David King noted the following words
from John Calvin that are obviously quite relevant to this
topic. Note in the first quotation the definition of
"false brethren" as "counterfeit Christians."
(Commenting on Psalm 83:8): But it
is, as it were, the destiny of the Church, not only to be
assailed by external enemies, but to suffer far greater
trouble at the hands of false brethren. At the present day,
none are more furiously mad against us than counterfeit
Christians. See Calvin’s Commentaries, Vol. V, trans. James
Anderson (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, reprinted 1979), pp.
Accordingly he enjoins them to
regard as devils those who shall dare to bring forward a
gospel different from his, — meaning by another gospel, one to
which the inventions of other men are added; for the doctrine
of the false apostles was not entirely contrary, or even
different, from that of Paul, but corrupted by false
additions. To what poor subterfuges do the Papists resort, in
order to escape from the Apostle’s declaration! First, they
tell us, that we have not in our possession the whole of
Paul’s preaching, and cannot know what it contained, unless
the Galatians who heard it shall be raised from the dead, in
order to appear as witnesses. Next, they assert, that it is
not every kind of addition which is forbidden, but that other
gospels only are condemned. What Paul’s doctrine was, so far
as it concerns us to know, may be learned with sufficient
clearness from his writings. Of this gospel, it is plain, the
whole of Popery is a dreadful perversion. And from the nature
of the case, we remark in conclusion, it is manifest that any
spurious doctrine whatever is at variance with Paul’s
preaching; so that these cavils will avail them nothing. See
Calvin’s Commentaries, Vol. XXI, trans. William Pringle (Grand
Rapids: Baker Book House, reprinted 1979), pp. 30-34.
1/18/04: We Chatted with a JW Last Night
We had one of Jehovah's Witnesses come into #prosapologian
last night. Someone asked him to comment on John
2:18-21, and specifically Jesus' words about raising His own
body from the dead. We were told that "the temple of His
body" was actually a reference to the church! Now, it is
interesting to speculate on how some of our very vocal critics
would respond to this JW. Would they discuss medieval
categories with him, and eschew the discussion of the actual
text due to the inability of anyone to truly disassociate
themselves from their "presuppositions"? Or, would they
avoid the text by attempting to press some extra-biblical
source of authority, like the Nicene Creed?
Well, we went straight to the inspired text and pointed
out a few things to our JW friend. We pointed out that
John never uses the Greek term swma of the
church---that is Pauline. So why does he assume Paul's
use here? We then pointed out that the text speaks of
that point in time when Christ was raised from the dead, and
with that event as the trigger, the disciples remembered "that
He said this" with the emphasis upon that term "this."
Our JW friend had come up with a whole bunch of imaginative
ways to explain what it was the disciples remembered, but had
a hard time explaining how the specific words of Jesus raising
the temple in three days could at all be relevant to the
subject of the church. And though he had claimed
Kittel's TDNT supported his view, we were able to counter-cite
from the same source (something that went unanswered from his
side). Now, did he repent and believe? No, but the
folks in channel that watched the hour long conversation were
equipped to respond to the most developed forms of JW internet
apologetics, and, hopefully, had their faith in the deity of
Christ and the bodily resurrection strengthened. So you
see, the issues we have been discussing, especially when it
comes to the exegesis of God's Word, are central to practical
apologetics. Let the mockers mock: when it comes to
actually doing the work of apologetics, what will they rely
upon when the challenges arise?
TGE blew a fuse and came unglued
because I dared to contextualize my comments in providing a
calm, reasoned response to a point raised by Alastair (below).
Compare what I said with this kind of vitriolic ad-hominem:
I think, rather, that you're just
one more arrogant little Modern pretending to be better than
everything and everyone who's come before you, and that your
attitude toward those who disagree with you is one of the most
un-Christlike things I've ever seen or heard on this Internet.
Hey, love ya Tim! I'll keep
praying you'll regain your balance someday. I'll keep
replying to Alastair as time allows (though I'm leaving next
week), but you know what...all I have to do is let you vent
your spleen like that, and it makes my points for me.
1/17/04: The Great Amazon Conspiracy
Ol' [Pete] has dug up
another conspiracy! While safely ensconced in his
super-secret hideout in the wilds of Nova Scotia, he
discovered that if you look for the new debate book with Dave
Hunt, due out next month, you will find that it is a
co-authored work, with my name, in the US and, of all places,
Japan. However, if you look up this book in Canada, the
UK, Germany or France via Amazon, Dave Hunt is the only
author! Evidently he was debating himself. As Pete
said, he's really looking forward to the upcoming Debating
Spurgeon: One Quote, Two Meanings book.
Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide
I recognize that there
is a fair amount of confusion on the part of some regarding
the current controversy noted in the recent blog entries.
It is my hope that over time that confusion can be cleared up,
and in the process, some of God's people will be blessed.
Even with the gaseous cloud of vituperative sarcasm being
belched out by "Purist," his rank humor can be used to
illustrate many points in the debate.
Going back to the response offered by "Alastair," I
note again the utter absence of exegetical interaction with
the invitation I offered Mr. Enloe, that being to explain the
presence of "false brethren" amongst the baptized members of
the leadership of the church. He, and other AAPC
devotees, have expressed the idea that the Roman Catholic is
my brother merely because of the "sign" of Trinitarian
baptism. This text seems to contradict such a
conclusion. Next, I have no interest in debating
Alastair's peculiar take on NPism. Yes, the comments I
have made on NPism are focused on Wright for the obvious
reason that it is his work that is impacting the churches in
the United States more than anyone else. Moving on to
the sub-section "Christian Knowledge" Alastair quoted from my
Folks, the foundation of the
Christian life is knowing who God is, what He has done in
Christ, and that I have peace with God not because of anything
I have done but solely because of what Christ has done. Until
that relationship of peace is established and understood, the
rest is just window dressing. You can sprinkle water on
somebody’s noggin until they drown, but without that
foundation you will never build a proper, balanced Christian
For those who recall what I was
talking about, I was responding to the constant denigration in
TGE's writings of my deep, constant, and abiding concern for
the doctrine of justification, the importance of the
imputation of Christ's righteousness, etc. I was saying
that outside of the establishment of that divine condition of
eirene, shalom, peace which comes about only through
the much-maligned truth of sola fide, faith alone apart
from works of righteousness, all the rest of TGE's "Second
Christendom" rhetoric has no meaning. Alastair missed
The foundation of my Christian
life is not my knowledge of who God is, what He has
done in Christ, and that I have peace with God not because of
anything I have done but solely because of what Christ has
done. My Christian life is founded upon the reality of these
things, not upon my knowledge of their reality. This is no
small distinction. Someone can taste of the reality without
being able to articulate it in an orthodox manner.
I never said it was my
knowledge, but how can I have a Christian life if I am
ignorant of my justification before God? Here again
the text steps in: what comes after Romans 5:1 and the
establishment of peace is, in fact, the rest of the Christian
life itself. But that life comes about as a result of
justification by grace through faith alone, and that standing
as a justified person is what gives rise to all the rest of
Romans 5:1-10. Where does the text tell us about those
who are ignorant of their peace with God? Since
the text says by faith (not by baptism, which is the
key here), what, or more properly, who, did they
believe in? All the Christian characteristics noted in
the following verses assume the state of justification exists,
by faith, so that peace exists between the individual
Christian and their Lord. Despite all the cries of
"individualism!" and "Donatism!" that might be raised, the
fact is that these are personal terms. No
Christian society will ever exist outside of the regeneration
of the individuals that make it up. Hence the
problem with TGE's sacralistic usage of the Oak of Geismar: no
one is justified by destroying their idols as long as they
remain an idolater at heart. Cut down their idol,
then stand there with a garden hose and sprinkle them down in
the name of the Trinity if you wish: such is not Christian
evangelism. The tragic element of that section of
TGE's comments was placing the action of chopping down
the oak in opposition to the proclamation of the very
heart of the gospel message. And that was my point.
Anonymous Bloggers (Update)
Our less-than-brave (read
"cowardly") mole seems to have constant access to his website:
Fight on O Great White Warrior!
Lift your sword as we ride on and stand shoulder to shoulder
to battle these great heresies and the wretched souls who will
Why thank you, so much! I
will do my best. However...how about having the, well,
guts, to come out from behind your anonymity, and join me on
The Dividing Line so that we can discuss these issues
one-on-one? Seems your ilk...sorry, type, prefers
monologues rather than dialogues. It is so much easier
to blather on without having to worry about actually
interacting with answers to your position. Perhaps
you, who are obviously able to express yourself forcefully in
print, would be able to engage the exegetical and theological
issues, to the benefit of all who would hear? So how
about it, Purist? Is there more to you than sarcastic
Hey, you know that show,
"Celebrity Mole"? We have an IRC mole now. This
morning a conversation broke out in channel about the
importance of exegesis, the rules of hermeneutics, and
eventually the entire concept of creeds, Scripture,
inspiration, etc. Well, hardly any time later we find an
anonymous blogger named "Purist" who is intent upon going
after yours truly posting something that borrows directly from
the logs of the discussion (or so it seems to us anyway).
Whoever this guy is, he has a lot of less-than-repressed
See for yourself. Bring your asbestos gloves.
Anyway, I do wonder what it is like to hide behind pseudonyms
like that. Strange, very strange. :-)
I just got an e-mail wherein someone recounted showing Angel's
recent work to Dave Hunt. His response, rather than
explaining his continued misrepresentation of Spurgeon, was to
allege that I was not able to get the "required" three
endorsers for our debate book (which we will soon be listing
here on the site). Hey Dave, Multnomah asked me ONCE for
names, and that as I was leaving town. The only person I
felt I could actually subject to the experience of having to
read the book as an endorser was Phil Johnson!
Otherwise, why are we looking for endorsers on a debate
book? Aren't the readers supposed to be the judges
of a debate book? What is an honest endorser supposed to
say, "Uh, well, this isn't even a close one"? I repeat
my call to Dave Hunt: let's make this book worthwhile by
debating the issues openly in a moderated, public debate, and
then adding that video/DVD to the book! I'm open to it,
and every time one of your fans writes to me to complain, I'm
going to be reminding them of my invitation to you. You
know you agreed, more than once, to do so. Let's set it
up! You have my number!
Alastair Replies for TGE
I do not have any idea who "Alastair"
is outside of his being a big fan of NT Wright, NPism
(wait...another connection between AAPC and NPism?) and the
author of a very poor "review" of
J. Ligon Duncan's
article in response to NPism. But he has decided to take
up the cause for TGE, and in the process has given us much to
think about regarding the wide differences that exist
between us. Unfortunately, not an iota of exegesis is
offered by Alastair in fulfillment of the challenge to deal
with the text of the New Testament. This is, sadly,
the commonality of this movement: when challenged to get
beyond sophistic formulations and get down to the vital matter
of dealing with the text, these folks just fall apart.
If these wonderful sounding axioms and credos are so divinely
wonderful, why do they cripple their users when it comes to
handling the text?
More to come. This could be useful to a lot of
folks, and as time allows today, I'll try to add some more
What's with Galatians 2:4-5?
Some may be confused about the comment I made below regarding
Galatians 2:4-5 and the issue of whether the Roman Catholic is
my "brother." Part of the controversy, of course, goes
back to the nature of the New Covenant, Hebrews 8, and all the
many discussions focused thereon (I will have a full-length
article on Hebrews 8 and the Newness of the Covenant in
Christ's blood in the next edition of the Reformed Baptist
Theological Review, www.rbtr.org).
But part also goes to the concept, emphasized by those
associated with the AAPC movement, of the "objectivity of the
covenant." A person "properly baptized" is now
objectively a part of the covenant according to this view,
whether regenerate, repentant, elect, etc. In the end,
such a non-elect person can only find covenant curses, never
true salvific covenant blessings. Be that as it may, if
one believes Trinitarian baptism makes one a member of the New
Covenant, then the issue is, 'Who am I to not refer to such a
person as my brother (or sister), and encourage them to
covenant faithfulness?' Hence, the assertion is made
that the Roman Catholic is my brother.
Of course, I do not believe baptism joins anyone
to the covenant in Christ's blood, and I truly wonder about
any concept of baptism that separates it from faith. The
reason Galatians 2:4-5 enters the conversation is simply due
to the fact that it speaks of "false brethren" when making
reference to individuals who were inside the fellowship
of the church. These were obviously baptized men, and
yet, Paul identified them as false brethren. The
relevance to the question "is the Roman Catholic my brother"
is almost too obvious for comment, given the issue of the
false gospel promulgated both anciently by those false
brethren, and the gospel of Rome today. While you would
think such a biblical example would be forefront in the
discussions, my experience has been that rather than offering
a contextually accurate, grammatically insightful,
exegetically sound response, we hear all about Platonic forms
and medieval Christendom and discrete theological propositions
and cutting down oak trees---oh, along with one of the
standard sacralistic slams like "Donatist" or "Anabaptist" or
some such. Yes, most folks do wonder a bit when
theological students refuse to engage the text in such a
fashion when given the opportunity to do so, especially when
those same folks, only a few years ago, before all this new
hyper-or-mono-covenantalism came back into vogue, would not
have hesitated to engage the text in just such a fashion.
1/15/04: Hey, Let's Make This Worthwhile?
Tim Enloe says he's not going to
respond, and then he responded. :-) In part:
So go ahead, Dr. White. Blog some
more about my "discontent with truth". You're only preaching
to a very narrow choir. Which is, of course, exactly how your
very narrow, very much Donatist-like theological tradition
For those not familiar with the
digs used by sacralists, you might want to get hold of a copy
of Leonard Verduin's The Reformers and Their Stepchildren.
There is a whole chapter on the use of that term as a
derogatory remark. Be that as it may, I have a
suggestion for Mr. Enloe. It seems that despite his hard
work on his thesis, TGE has lots of time for writing other
stuff, especially on this topic. So, how about we
benefit everyone and actually address an issue in a formal,
written format on this website? How about we address the
issue, "Is the Roman Catholic My Brother"? I think our
readers would find such an encounter, with specific
limitations on lengths, most useful. How about it, TGE?
Galatians 2:4-5 revisited? You say I'm "courting
heresies," so lets obey the concept of Isaiah 8:20, and see
who handles the Word of God aright?
To the law and
to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word,
it is because they have no dawn.
And the response was quick:
The answer to Dr. White's debate
challenge to me is "No". There are far more credible men out
there who can stand against Dr. White--why doesn't he seek
them out? I am just a layman and an undergraduate student who
sometimes has a little bit of time to post informal, rambling
stuff on a blog. Why a Doctor of Theology with a
well-established, public ministry would care to publicly and
formally debate with an undergraduate student who wrote some
rambling stuff on an out-of-the-way blog on the hind-end of
cyberspace seems very strange.
Why should it seem strange?
TGE has been active in Internet apologetics for quite some
time; has been associated with a number of ministries, and I
have said many times he is one of the sharpest folks I've ever
met. But the answer to the question is not far to be
had: I have said from day one the issue is exegetical.
Mr. Enloe has repeatedly (and falsely) asserted I believe I am
immune from external influences in my interpretation of
Scripture. Myself, and others, have attempted to explain
that the proper practice of sound hermeneutics is designed to
identify those external influences and filter them so that the
actual meaning of the original text can first be ascertained
before it is then transferred into the context of the modern
situation. An exegetically based discussion of the
issues would demonstrate this for all to see, to the benefit
of any follower of Christ. Sadly, Mr. Enloe's response
to a challenge to engage the biblical text is:
But at the end of the day, the
problem is less with his actual views than it is with his
horrible, sectarian ATTITUDE. Can't get him to understand
that, though. He just wants to run formal debates and piously
intone "To the law and to the testimony and if they speak not
according to [my sectarian exegetical conclusions] they have
Big words that would be easily
proven, if true. Odd that the one avoiding the demonstration
would make them. In any case, my invitation remains open.
And as to seeking out others,
well, I know of some who are doing just that. :-)
N.B. One of the greatest
ironies is found in one of the comments posted in response to
TGE's blog, from one of the more notorious of Rome's
self-congratulatory defenders, Dave Armstrong:
Very short-lived promise from
yesterday, Tim. :-) But hey, I can relate totally.
For once we agree on something. When it comes to your
criticisms of Dr. White, we're like two peas in a pod.
Now you can see the frustration I've had trying to
interact with the man, since 1995.
1/14/04: This is a Book You Must Read If You Honor the
the Lord Jesus Christ
Few books have been written that are as
insightful on the subject of the deity of Christ as this one. B.B. Warfield, one of the greatest theologians of the modern
era, provided this wonderful work long ago, but it continues
to speak with power to this day. I have written a strong
commendation for the book which is
cited on the back. This is a book you will want for your
own library, and, you may wish to encourage your elders with
copies as well! See our
bookstore for ordering information. We now have this
wonderful work in stock, and when you get these resources from
aomin.org, you are helping to support the debates, the
Dividing Line, and everything else we do.
OK, I've made glancing comments on the Dividing Line
without getting specific, mainly due to respect for the
individual (I still like this guy!) and out of hope that some
semblance of balance might be regained. But today's
rambling comments by Timothy Enloe (see
the blog entry for 1/14/04) simply demand a brief
response. Seemingly, unless you believe it is God's intention
to create another "Christendom," i.e., a Christian society
(and hence hold to a particular form of post-millennialism),
you separate the gospel out from the "rest of life." The
result? Well---and Mr. Enloe says this repeatedly---specifics regarding the doctrine of justification do not seem
anymore to be relevant to the gospel itself (if you are
wondering where you heard that before, let me remind you: it's
Evangelicals and Catholics Together). The example
used by Enloe in the current blog is quite insightful: the
destruction of the Oak of Geismar by Boniface in the 8th
century. Enloe narrates it briefly, and then makes the
amazing statement, "Boniface preached the Gospel by chopping
down a tree, not by thundering about Justification By Faith
Alone." So, that was the extent of the proclamation?
Cut down the tree and then sprinkle the amazed and awed
pagans, and now you have a Christian society? Does not
history tell us what happens when this kind of "societal
evangelism by baptism" is practiced? You end up with wet
paganism. What happened to following the Apostolic
example found in the New Testament? Why didn't Paul
knock over the altar to the Unknown God? Why am I a
Platonist for noting that the Apostles seemed quite concerned
about the details of their proclamation of the gospel?
Have all those statements about "watch your doctrine!" from 1
and 2 Timothy and Titus fallen out of the canon up in Moscow,
Folks, the foundation of the Christian life is knowing
who God is, what He has done in Christ, and that I have peace
with God not because of anything I have done but solely
because of what Christ has done. Until that relationship
of peace is established and understood, the rest is just
window dressing. You can sprinkle water on somebody's
noggin until they drown, but without that foundation you will
never build a proper, balanced Christian life. Whether
justification involves imputation or infusion may sound like a
war over words, but it isn't, anymore than saying there really
is no difference between saying Jesus is God or "a god."
The issue of whether there is, in fact, a positive imputation
of Christ's righteousness or not (the issues relating to New
Perspectivism) is vital to how we view ourselves, our
relationship to God, our standing in Christ, and any number of
pastoral questions and issues. And whether the mere act of
Trinitarian baptism actually joins one to the covenant in the
blood of Christ so that one so baptized is in fact to be
considered a "brother" (contra Galatians 2) is likewise of
vital importance to our evangelism, our view of the gospel,
and our apologetics. These are vitally important issues, with
great importance to the faith. I can only hope that
those who once seemed to be balanced in their understanding of
these things will regain that balance, all to God's glory.
Angel Finds Spurgeon Bound and Gagged!
Now for our contingent of
humorless Calvinists: Angel's cartoons come from listening to
the Dividing Line and other tapes and materials presented by
this ministry. They are meant to make a point.
They do so with humor and yes, sarcasm. That's how
they get the message across in a way it will be remembered.
Dave Hunt grossly misrepresented Spurgeon (see the
documentation in my entry for 1/07, now in the blog archive). Despite being
corrected repeatedly, Hunt has remained adamant in his error.
So think about it, which is more likely to make the point
and get remembered: the blog entry with its nice
table, or the wonderfully composed cartoon above?
Further, it is apologetically relevant as well: if we
do not call folks on "our" side like Dave Hunt to be accurate
in his handling of such materials as the sermons of Spurgeon,
how can we complain when our enemies mishandle documentation?
If Hunt is willing to stand behind such obviously erroneous
statements, despite the corrections of his friends, what does
this say? In case you are wondering, Dave has called
myself, and numerous other Calvinists, "elitists" many times
(lots of documentation on that one), and as to the high praise
for the book, well, I personally have always found it
outrageously funny that Tim LaHaye, after saying Calvinism
comes "perilously close to blasphemy" (would I debate LaHaye
on the issue? At a moment's notice! Think of how
many folks would get to hear about the doctrines of grace!),
would say of a book copyrighted in 2002 that "This may well be
the most important book written in the 21st century."
Comments like that are begging for an "Angel-ic" response.
Finally, one of our regular participants in channel,
Mark Ennis, really summed it up well. He said, "The way
he is handling Spurgeon is the ultimate example that proves
Dave Hunt has no idea what language Calvinists speak."
Exactly! Spurgeon was talking about the merit of the
cross, not the intention of the cross, and as in so
many other situations, those who oppose the doctrines of grace
do so by not listening to what is being said to them.
BTW, if you would like to join the conversation in the chat
channel, click on the "A&O Chat" button to the left.
Now to quote folks from the chat channel when I first
posted this, "Angel r0x0rz!"
1/10/04: Just Two House-Keeping Chores
waiting, interminably it seems, on Drawn by the Father,
we have been promised it will arrive this week. Thanks
for your patience.
Also...skip the DVD stuff as yet. All this silly
-r +r stuff is driving us nuts. More work to do before
we get that perfected (if it is perfectible). If you got
a DVD and your player can't play it, we will send you a video
to replace it. Every DVD we send out plays on ours, but,
sadly, that doesn't mean a lot.
Oh, hey, for those of you who, like me, love tweaking
the look of your systems (I use WindowBlinds on my XP desktop,
and SilverScreen on my Tungsten T3), I found a real nice
looking skin today for WindowBlinds...called "Smyrna."
It not only looks nice, its biblical. :-)
1/09/04: A Worthwhile Review of What Love Is This?
Click here for the review. It begins, "The
debate over God’s sovereignty in salvation has reached a new
low with the publication of this book." Nice to hear others
saying the same thing.
Norman Geisler Resigns from the ETS
Norman Geisler has resigned from ETS
(Evangelical Theological Society) in light of the
organization's inability to remove Dr. Pinnock and Dr. Sanders
from its membership. Here are his reasons:
1/07/04: Dave Hunt and Spurgeon
Anyone who has taken the time to
read much of Charles Spurgeon knows he believed in, and
preached, the dreaded doctrine of "limited atonement," or as
many of us prefer to put it, "particular redemption." I
took the time last year when Dave Hunt's new book came out to
read a sermon from Spurgeon that made the point rather clear.
Many have pointed out his glaring error in asserting that
Spurgeon denied limited atonement in "unequivocal" language.
Hunt has waffled on the subject (the term "unequivocal"
doesn't really leave you much meaningful wiggle room), and
about as close as he's gotten to an admission he was wrong is
to say that perhaps he was somewhat "strong" in his language.
It would be very nice if Dave would just say, "OK, sorry, I
blew it," but that does not seem a possibility.
Well, a few weeks ago Phil Johnson of
spurgeon.org pointed out
the probable source of Dave's error. He points to Samuel
Fisk's book, Election & Predestination. Hunt
lists Fisk as one of his sources (Hunt relied heavily upon
such secondary sources, and I have always surmised, given the
character of the quotation, and how the sermon goes on to
identify limited atonement as Christian doctrine, that Hunt
had simply grabbed this from somewhere else). Compare
these two citations for yourself:
Fisk, p, 149-150
Hunt, p. 19
But it is best to let
Spurgeon speak for himself here. And that he did in
strong words: "I know there are some who
think it necessary to their system of theology to limit the
merit of the blood of Jesus: if my theological system needed
such a limitation, I would cast it to the winds. I cannot, I
dare not allow the thought to find a lodging in my mind, it
seems so near akin to blasphemy. In Christ's finished work I
see an ocean of merit; my plummet finds no bottom, my eye
discovers no shore. There must be sufficient efficacy in
the blood of Christ, if God had so willed it, to have saved
not only all in this world, but all in ten thousand worlds,
had they transgressed their Maker's law. Once admit infinity
into the matter, and limit is out of the question.
Having a Divine Person for an offering, it is not consistent
to conceive of limited value; bound and measure are terms
inapplicable to the Divine sacrifice. The intent of the
Divine purpose fixes the application of the infinite
offering, but does not change it into a finite work."
Spurgeon himself, so
often quoted by Calvinists to support their view, rejected
Limited Atonement, though it lies at the very heart of
Calvinism and follows inevitably from its other points ---
and he did so in unequivocal language: "I know there are some who
think it necessary to their system of theology to limit the
merit of the blood of Jesus: if my theological system needed
such a limitation, I would cast it to the winds. I cannot, I
dare not allow the thought to find a lodging in my mind, it
seems so near akin to blasphemy. In Christ's finished work I
see an ocean of merit; my plummet finds no bottom, my eye
discovers no shore. ...
Having a Divine Person for an offering, it is not consistent
to conceive of limited value; bound and measure are terms
inapplicable to the Divine sacrifice."
And then read what both authors
somehow missed on the very next page:
Blessed be God, His elect on
earth are to be counted by millions, I believe, and the days
are coming, brighter days than these, when there shall be
multitudes upon multitudes brought to know the Saviour, and
to rejoice in Him. Some persons love the doctrine of
universal atonement because they say, "It is so beautiful.
It is a lovely idea that Christ should have died for all
men; it commends itself," they say, "to the instincts of
humanity; there is something in it full of joy and beauty."
I admit there is, but beauty may be often associated with
falsehood. There is much which I might admire in the theory
of universal redemption, but I will just show what the
supposition necessarily involves. If Christ on His cross
intended to save every man, then He intended to save those
who were lost before He died. If the doctrine be true, that
He died for all men, then He died for some who were in hell
before He came into this world, for doubtless there were
even then myriads there who had been cast away because of
their sins. Once again, if it was Christ's intention to save
all men, how deplorably has He been disappointed, for we
have His own testimony that there is a lake which burneth
with fire and brimstone, and into that pit of woe have been
cast some of the very persons who, according to the theory
of universal redemption, were bought with His blood. That
seems to me a conception a thousand times more repulsive
than any of those consequences which are said to be
associated with the Calvinistic and Christian doctrine of
special and particular redemption.
Could someone help me with the
meaning "unequivocal"? :-)
1/06/04: Angel Reads About Dan Corner
Lots of folks ask us about Dan
Corner, the fellow who has been so kind as to give me the
Skull and Crossbones Award for bad theology, and who says I
won't debate him. We have exposed Dan Corner, the great
opponent of "OSAS," on our website.
Now, we have photographic proof that Dan Corner will not
debate the real issues. :-)
1/06/04: The Impromptu E-mail
For some odd reason someone unknown
to me recently posted to a discussion forum one of those
e-mails you write because you really feel strongly about
something. I had forgotten, but a few years ago Marc
Carpenter, one of the more famous Internet Hyper Calvinists,
had sent out one of those unsolicited e-mails to a large group
of folks (you know the type that has a huge 'cc' list?).
I actually took the time, for some reason, to sit down and
write a fairly full reply.
I'm not sure why the person who reposted it did so, but I
thought my reply was worth providing to a larger audience.
The issue does come up frequently, and real Calvinists are
often unfairly painted with the hyper-Calvinist label,
so here are some thoughts on the
subject. I don't know if the follow up he wrote is on his
website or not, but since this isn't his website, but mine,
you can look for his response if you are so inclined to do so.
1/05/04: The Arminian
A fine young
fellow that I've been seeing a lot of lately (has something to
do with my lovely daughter, I do believe) showed me a
periodical titled "The Arminian." I was first amazed that
there are still folks left on planet earth that willingly,
gladly, without a word of remonstrance, accept the name of
themselves. But what was far more interesting was the fact
that there was an article in it by Steve Witzki written
against "eternal security." You can see the
article here. Right at the beginning you will find the
author quoting James Akin, staff apologist for Catholic
Answers, from the debate notes he posted on his website from
our radio debate from many years ago. This is the
debate where Akin misidentified various elements of the
Greek language, as we documented in a previous
was so strange is that this Arminian writer seemingly has no
problem borrowing from a Roman Catholic when he is arguing
that church history stands opposed to a belief in the
perfection of the work of Christ. Of course, would the author
likewise follow Akin’s historical arguments on such topics as
the Mass, purgatory, or the Marian dogmas? We think not. But
for those who get all upset when I point out the confluence of
Arminianism and Roman Catholicism (based upon the centrality
of synergism to both systems), please take up your complaint
with Mr. Witzki.
1/04/04: The Cultic Side of KJV Onlyism
Nine years ago now a panel
discussion featuring three KJV Only advocates (Sam Gipp, Joe
Chambers, and Thomas Strouse) and five non-KJV Only advocates
(Dan Wallace, Don Wilkins, Art Farstad, Ken Barker, and
myself) was recorded in the studios of the John Ankerberg
Show. During the taping of the 4th episode, a
complete non-event took place that I knew, given the wild-eyed
fanaticism of some of the KJV Only advocates, would end up
being twisted into absurdity. I wrote about it shortly after
KJV Only folks began telling tall stories about it (click
here). Much to my amazement, a quick Google search
reveals that many years after the truth about the incident was
told, KJV Onlyists continue to peddle a lie as if it were the
truth. I was recently made aware of the fact that the entire,
uncut, unedited 4th program is available for
viewing online. I just watched the whole thing, and 1)
remain amazed that KJVO folks continue promoting their fable
in light of the documentation available; 2) laughed to note
that Thomas Strouse’s voice sounded worse than Don Wilkins’
did (was that God striking him down?); 3) that if this is
divine intervention, can’t God overcome a sip of water? and 4)
I was once thin as a rail (I was riding more than 5,000 miles
a year on a bicycle at the time), had hair (yeah, it was
thinning), and man, where did I get those glasses??? It was
fascinating to watch the unedited program. I had forgotten
that John Ankerberg stopped the whole thing and basically
chided everyone for taking too long to answer questions.
Having done radio for years, I did my best to be fast, fast,
fast. Dan Wallace simply made Sam Gipp look silly, and I
remember feeling sorry for Strouse as Gipp made some of the
comments that he did. It is definitely worth the 30 some odd
minutes to watch it. One thing is for sure. You see why the
leading KJV Only advocates prefer monologues to dialogues!
1/3/04: Two Important Notes
I noted on 12/29 that I had preached a brief sermon on the new
Mel Gibson movie. I heard from John Piper that he has
written a small book embodying the very concerns I voiced in
that sermon. If you would like to get hold of it, you
can see it and order it (when it comes out) at
I had realized the need for such a work, had considered trying
to do something in a flash, and am very thankful someone else
has far more foresight than I do!
Secondly, I have neglected to let folks know that the
Reformed Baptist Theological Review is now accepting
subscriptions. For details on this new publication, see
www.rbtr.org. I will
be contributing an article on the exegesis of Hebrews 8 to the
second edition, due out in July. You might wish to
subscribe for yourself, and then buy a second for one of your
elders. I did!
We received a phone call at PRBC this weekend. A
woman in northern Utah called, seeking help. Seems
someone from a "Reformed Baptist Church in Phoenix" had given
some literature to her husband years ago outside the Salt Lake
City Temple. She had read these books and wanted to know
more about what she had now come to believe was true (we have
contacted fellow believers in Utah to follow up in a more
personal manner than we can from Arizona). What books
had this man been given? Drawn by the Father and
God's Sovereign Grace. Those not familiar with
the books should know both are presentations and defenses of
Reformed theology, i.e., Calvinism. Drawn is
about John 6:35-45, and God's Sovereign Grace is my
friendly presentation of the doctrines of grace (both have
been reprinted and are available in our bookstore). Now,
many, many folks would find passing out clearly, openly,
unashamedly Reformed literature in Salt Lake City at the
General Conference of the Mormon Church to be sheer
lunacy. But we have known for a long time that the God
of Scripture is so far beyond the anthropomorphic "exalted
man" of Mormonism that the contrast of divine truth to human
error can be used by God to draw His people unto Himself.
It is such a joy to not have to worry about shaving off the
rough edges of truth so as to mollify the "libertarian will"
of man. Christ's sheep hear His voice. We just
need to proclaim His truth with clarity and leave the rest in