Friday, July 30, 2010

Peter Lumpkins Negotiates the Calvinist Whitewater Fallacy Gorge

Peter Lumpkins made my day with one of his comments on his site. It is worth saving and keeping for a rainy day.

... I have to tell you, the swelling community of neo-Calvinists who "look smart" by citing logical fallacies, the definitions of which, they more than likely learned not from university logicians in basic philosophy classes.  Instead, they read the quicknotes from wikepedia and assume they can then bead the bullseye on every logical fallacy-formal or informal--that's ever been recorded:

Calvinist:  You "equivocated"!

Peter:  Uh?

Calvinist: You also have a "genetic fallacy"!

Peter:  Is this a disease? Is it serious?

Calvinist: Can't you make a clear statement without committing a "Not a true Scotsman fallacy"?

Peter: I'm from West Georgia

Calvinist: "Red Herring"!

Peter:  I prefer catfish—fried…

Calvinist: Yeah, right.  "Weak analogy"!

Peter: But…

Calvinist: "Straw Man"!

Peter: I was just going to say,…

Calvinist:  "Subjectivist fallacy!" Scripture alone!

Peter: Don't you think you're going a little too far?

Calvinist: "Complex question"!

Peter: Now, hold on a minute, I'd like to…

Calvinist: "Ad Hominem." Personal attack!

Peter: Perhaps others could assist us in coming to an agreement

Calvinist: "Bandwagon fallacy"!

Peter: But isn't our getting along worth it?

Calvinist: Nope. "Gambler's fallacy!"

Peter: Look. Other Calvinists are…

Calvinist: "Hasty Generalization!"

Peter: Generalization or not, I

Calvinist: "Begging the question!"

Peter: Maybe if we pray for…

Calvinist: "Appeal to authority"!

Taking up a tin can collection for the goat herding ministries

Well after a month since Liberty University settled the Ergun Caner matter to their satisfaction, the handful of antagonists who flamed this war in league with their Muslim bedfellows continue to resurrect the issue and repost the same stuff over and over. Some things never change .... "MY inconsistencies are mistaken misrepresentations and YOUR inconsistencies are LIES!!!!". 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Divorce & Remarriage Within the Church

C. Michael Patton wrote an interesting blog post the other day that reminded me of a similar exercise I went through with this same topic.  I posted the following here a few of years ago and Br Patton's inquiries into the same subject matter gave me enough incentive to resurrect it for another scripture study I am currently involved with. My opinions on the matter remain essentially the same although I think I am probably more accommodating for those who differ from my conclusions now than I was at the time even though I have never held this as a fellowship matter.

Reposted from 2007 …
From the start I acknowledge that I hold to a minority position in today's church regarding remarriage. However I do believe the body of scripture supports my opposition to Christian remarriage as long as the prior spouse is still alive. In any event, this is not considered an essential doctrine in my view and I would not let this interfere in my fellowship with the saints of God.

If I could identify any issue that offers widespread discomfort in the modern church that even pastors themselves shun from an honest and open dialogue it might be the issue of marriage and divorce in the church, especially the issue of remarriage. There are so many divorced and remarried people in society today that it is becoming very much the norm to be on a second or even a third marriage as opposed to the minority of couples who claim a lifelong bond to the same partner. This is especially true of the young and middle-aged and we find many of these same people turning to Christ. Looking at a ministry I once attended I can only guess unfairly at how many people among the congregation as well as among the elders and deacons have divorced and remarried. In all fairness I suspect many of them remarried before being saved. Yet, if I listen to the teachings among many churches today, what I hear is the justification of remarriage regardless of circumstances it seems.

Let's ask ourselves what marriage is from a biblical perspective. God demonstrates a fundamental purpose of matrimony in Genesis. It is not good for man to be alone, He tells us. So much so that God created woman from man to be a helpmate for him. Now if the relationship were to stop there we might suppose that there would be no great matter of concern which woman we have as a helpmate or when but the Lord reveals something more profound about this relationship. A man and a woman leave their parents and they become one with another. Once joined in this fashion, they are one in a spiritual union. In fact God shows us a wonderful revelation concerning this matrimony. What is the saint who is in Christ? Is he not one with the Lord in this sense? When we begin examining various words we take for granted in the bible sometimes we can marvel at what is revealed. Every child of God who walks faithfully in His light and in His truth has a fellowship with Him that cannot be understood by the world. "While fellowship is expressed in several different words throughout scripture I think one of the better choices is the Greek term koinonia which means the share which one has in anything, participation, intercourse, intimacy. It is used in 1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. " That word koinonia means a lot. It even refers to intercourse which in a matrimonial relationship is an act or closeness that is about as personal as a relationship can be. Now I know some folks might squirm a bit to relate spiritual fellowship with Christ in such a manner but that is just the carnal man thinking in place of the spiritual. I am not referring to a physical act when I make mention of this in regard to fellowship, instead I am pointing out the degree or magnitude of the personal nature of this fellowship, this oneness with Jesus Christ. So in this sense, matrimony itself was established as not only a personal comfort for men and women with regard to companionship but also as a shadow of the relationship we are to have with Christ, with God Himself.

One of the most difficult things to settle amicably with regard to this issue is a proper understanding of God's desires. It is far easier to settle or reconcile our own desires especially when we view them from our fleshly or selfish motives. We all would like to believe that God wants us to have whatever makes us happy without realizing that sometimes to be happy in a carnal sense is to throw an incendiary upon a simmering fire. God desires that we have one wife or husband. That is what He desired from the very beginning. Matthew 19:8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. The scriptures also tell us Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: While the excesses the Lord allowed under the law might seem reasonable even in this age, we are held to a higher spiritual standard, that found in the spirit of the law, the actual intent and purpose of God's law which is that a man and a woman come together and become one flesh. What is the mindset we face today among men and women both in circumstances associated with this quandary and as bystanders and observers of this theological question? Most often I hear the declaration that God would not want any of us to go through life without a spouse, that God would never want us to remain with a spouse who has abused us, that Jesus would never require a woman to remain with a husband who is not compatible. Yet when we test the Word, what do we find? Matthew 5:32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. Not only do we find this, but we find it repeated elsewhere in scripture. Matthew 19:9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. Usually when the Holy Spirit repeats something it is to be taken seriously. Now I don't see additional reasons for divorce granted here other than for fornication which in the context of the passage is referring to a lifestyle of specific sins. The Lord was not referring to specific individual acts of sin nor was He referring to a wide plethora of actions that could constitute fornication in a spiritual sense such as spiritual idolatry. The Lord was referring to a lifestyle of specific sins, sexual sins that would place a spouse in an impossible position of being one with a husband or wife AND a harlot or fornicator. This is spiritually unacceptable and therefore grounds for divorce. Now what are the circumstances of a woman who has divorced her husband due to a lifestyle of fornication?

Most modern pastors and teachers turn to the marriage chapter in the bible, 1 Corinthians chapter seven. I am not different in this case. It is a wonderful instruction and unsettling for those who preach remarriage to their congregations. In this chapter, Paul the Apostle is instructing on the position of marriage and it's expectations within Christian settings. Let me point out the obvious. It is not written to the unsaved. The unsaved are heavy duty sinners, expert fornicators and often remarried without so much as a second thought unless it crowds upon selfish motives. No, Paul is addressing saints in this instruction and these instructions are poignant. If a saved woman is married to an unsaved man who is inclined to live with her, then let her stay with him, Paul instructs. Otherwise she is free if the spouse departs. I don't think there is much disagreement with this teaching. The scriptures tell us 1 Corinthians 7:15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. This where we run into trouble. The modern church is full of pastors and laity who have taken this "not under bondage' passage and given it license for remarriage. How they missed what came before that passage is bewildering. 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. What are the two choices the Lord has offered to a divorced woman? Remain unmarried or reconcile with her husband. What did Jesus say about divorce earlier? Matthew 5:32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. Why would any pastor tell anybody to go ahead and remarry when it is so clear that doing so causes adultery? I suggest it is pure selfish motive. In the Old Testament we discover that even under the permissiveness of the law a husband could not remarry his former wife after she had joined to another man. Why? Because she had defiled herself (Deut 24:4). The difficult thing to grasp here is not the clear intention of scripture. Pastors and teachers have long misinterpreted scripture out of convenience or tradition or even ignorant haste. The difficulty here is explaining why God does not sanction remarriage. Perhaps it is best explained by stating a clear character trait of God. He hates divorce! Malachi 2:15-16 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously. If God hates divorce, why does the modern pastor offer such a conciliatory mindset to it and it's cousin, remarriage?

The pastors and teachers who teach these things have a burden to bear but what of the young woman who loves the Lord whose husband has just left her for a harlot? As scripture states she is under no bondage in this case meaning she is free of that particular yoke. Does this mean she is free to yoke herself again? The teachings of Paul in 1 Cor. 7 seem to suggest otherwise with the statement by the Lord that she is to remain unmarried or reconciled with her husband. This is a hard thing yet our salvation was a hard thing. If this young woman loves the Lord, let her turn her mind to the things of God. This is why divorce is so wicked and why God hates it so. It robs both partners. If we think this is difficult, we are thinking correctly. Sin carries a high price even among the saved. Look at the example of Aaron, the priest and brother of Moses. He lost two sons after they offered unholy or "strange" fire to the Lord yet the Lords instructions were clear.Lev 10:6 And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the LORD hath kindled. Aaron could not mourn nor grieve the loss of his sons. The Bible is full of examples where transgression is paid for with personal loss and grief, lifelong grief. Yet we listen and heed to calls for exception for young and middle-aged divorced who desire to mate again, to remarry, to become one with another. This is a church that needs to repent and understand that divorce is an expensive lifelong proposition that the Lord hates.

There is a particular area that I must address before concluding this letter. What of the saint who divorced prior to being saved? So far I have limited my comments to the actions and demands placed upon believers with regard to divorce and remarriage. The words Christ conveys to us are given to the body of Christ even though the penalty for disobedience will be fully borne by the unbelieving. The person who comes to Christ becomes a new creation in Christ. The old man, or person, is now dead. That person no longer exists. As such, we can apply the analogy the Holy Spirit used in the beginning of Romans chapter seven to that new creation in Christ. He or she has no past, no bondages, no chains which are carried over to the new creation. That person is certainly free to remarry so long as she does not yoke herself to unbelievers. I want to make this clear so that there is no mistaken belief that I am saying saints previously divorced in a sinful past are still obligated to law or the demands placed by the law. That is not the case. If you are a new saint in Christ who has divorced from a husband or wife while lost in the ways of the world, never despair. You are reborn. That old divorced you was buried with Him in crucifixion. Marry for the first time as a child of God if the Holy Spirit directs you. But bear in mind the lessons taught above regarding divorce and remarriage as it regards those in Christ. Those teachings then come into play.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

When the Dirt Creeps up the Ankles

Not being able to speak for the experiences of other Christians, I can only relate to my own experiences regarding how and when we interact with the world we each came out of. I love to get in the trenches so to speak. The political battles and social commentaries intrigue me. They always have and I've been across the political spectrum over the years first being far to the left and now fiscally conservative and socially libertarian. Being quick to the political fight brings its own pratfalls as it is far too easy to get in the mud of the pit and at the end of the day look just like the opponent, sound like him and admittedly act like him. Christ gave us a heart and mind to do better and although having been washed by his grace and sacrifice, there are two feet that pick up a lot of debris. The scriptures teach us of foot washings but I don't know if a lot of Christians really contemplate the significance of it. Peter objected. Christ admonished him for it and in my case, with mud creeping up my ankles for the time spent in the pit, I do not want to make Peter's mistake. In David's case it took hyssop. With Peter, it was the very presence of Jesus Christ. With myself, it is to be my own repentance for allowing Christ to be second... and letting the muck cover my knees.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The God Haters

During my recent experience with the "Sky Betty" goddess worshippers and its accompanying group think mentality, one of the adversaries took issue with the description of these souls as "God haters". At first I dismissed the notion as not well thought out by the fellow but thinking further on the matter, I recognized his point. Here are his comments.

Anyway, I think the term "God haters" could only really apply to Satan worshippers, and I would be surprised to find any of them on this thread. I've met one or two over the years, and they are some of the saddest individuals ever. They are not pagans, or anything like it, they are Christian heretics. You have to first buy into the cosmology of the Christian belief system, and then reject it, saying "Lucifer Was Right - Darn You Anyway, God!"... Pathetic. … There are no "God haters" here, Mr. Mallett, just people who see the universe and the Divine differently than you.

In a carnal sense, he is right. For the man who sits comfortably in his unbelief, there is no recognizable hatred of God from his perspective. He cannot relate to such an identifier and naturally rejects anything that challenges a nature he only sees as good. Natural man believes he is good or at least he is able to convince himself in the face of undeniable evidence otherwise so to refer to him as a "God hater" surely evokes a defense mechanism, a challenge to be met with whatever turns the accusation. Unfortunately, the response is vitriolic more often than not and therein is the rub. The Bible instructs us that such natural men are at enmity with God and we can witness this all around us. Indeed, it was demonstrated with the offense taken at the mention of Christ in the discussion I am referring to. Yet was it wise for me to state such a thing? Directly to the man or woman I would have to state no however I refer to such as God haters only in the confines of this theological endeavor, a semi private enclave of ecclesiastical and ecumenical discussions and thoughts. The natural man who seeks this out, however, doesn't take the time to realize that nor would he be expected to. He found a statement made by myself and ran with it. I might have done likewise. Yet, to fellow Arminians and others who understand the theological issues involved, I can state natural man is a God hater and be well understood. I can suggest a portrait of the face beneath the fa├žade of civility that is both revealing and frightful and while the theologically inclined man would grasp its implications, the carnal man suffering unknowingly from unbelief takes offense. In the context of theological discussion, natural man is a God hater. On the evangelical field, natural man is a soul in need of redemption and one for whom the LORD Jesus Christ gave His life. Knowing this truth, I made a mistake and can understand the fellow's objection to "God hater". A wise preacher once stated something to the effect that if you tell a man he is going to hell, he is just as likely to tell you to go to hell. I forgot that in the midst of sparring and allowed meat to spoil, so to speak, for lack of milk.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sky Betty Worshipper Attacks Sky Bubba God of Abraham

Once in a while one of those crazy discussions pop up that just demands a little introspection. While reading and posting on a small, very liberal weekly social paper recently, I seem to have encountered the wrath and indignation of one of the local "God haters". This particular paper draws a lot of interest among atheists, agnostics and those generally inclined to despise religion, especially the faith of Christians. So when a recent letter excoriated a local Catholic affiliated hospital for refusing to violate it's particular religious policies and beliefs, it was certainly expected that a local chorus of antagonists would join in and find fault where there was any to be found and mostly where none was to be seen. There was certainly no disappointment in that regard. Asheville, NC, the community in which this discussion was centered, is known locally as something of a magnet for crackpot types. Perhaps it isn't the general agnosticism and unbelief that fuels these reactions as it is the voraciousness with which the "God haters" beat upon anything identified as of Christ. The story line of the letter was the indignation that a Catholic hospital would not perform a tubal ligation or sterilization following the removal of an ovarian cyst. Now, I might disagree with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on this matter but it's not my hospital and I do not set policy for them. For that matter neither does the patient who made the original objection. This leads me to the title of my post.

One of the more vocal of the antagonists found the occasion to turn a discussion of the hospital's decision away from whether it was appropriate or reasonable given their religious beliefs. In place of that, the commentator launched into a caricature laced diatribe attacking everything associated with the "male dominated" "Sky Bubba" God of Abraham, whether it was Jewish, Christian or Muslim. Well, as a Christian, I expect most of the conscience seared world in that part of the country to take every opportunity to attack anything associated with Christ or religion in general. What I didn't expect and I don't really know why this would surprise me given the community was that the antagonist has embraced the pagan and heathenish notion of worshipping an unknown Goddess of some sort, undefined as it is. While slandering and libeling the Christian community as having a perverse and immoral attitude and practices toward women (all of which is rather absurd and unfounded), this person was embracing pagan religion and not disclosing (either though ignorance or design) the horrific abuses women and infants suffered through its many ancient derivatives. Human infant sacrifice and rape were not at all uncommon in several pagan "goddess" societies. Archeologists have uncovered evidence at the site of ancient Carthage of mass infant graves. The practice of rape in the course of sexual ritual has been documented over the years. The heinous practices of the various goddess worship cults since the dawn of mankind overwhelm any comparison to the offenses of men and women acting under the banner of Christendom. Most of those who claim to worship some undefined goddess are really doing nothing more than toying with their imaginations. If they comprehended what those societies represented and practiced, few could with good conscience embrace such but then, we are dealing with seared consciences in this matter, real, hardcore haters of Christ.

In any event, I am left with the self described image of the antagonist who posits her pagan goddess (Sky-Betty?) against her caricature of God as "Sky Bubba" while decrying the religious rights of an organization dedicated to the merciful care of the sick and injured. It reminds me of the crafty retort "God is Dead – Nietzsche 1882 … Nietzsche is Dead – God 1900". I would be curious to know how many facilities for the sick, injured and elderly "Sky Betty" has established over the millennia. 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Arminius on the Divinity of the Son of God

THE DIVINITY OF THE SON OF GOD

With regard to the Divinity of the Son of God and the word autoqeov both of which have been discussed in our University in the regular form of scholastic disputations, I cannot sufficiently wonder what the motive can be, which has created a wish in some persons to render me suspected to other men, or to make me an object of suspicion to themselves. This is still more wonderful, since this suspicion has not the least ground of probability on which to rest, and is at such an immense distance from all reason and truth, that, whatever reports have been spread abroad respecting this affair to the prejudice of my character, they can be called nothing better than "notorious calumnies." At a disputation held one afternoon in the University, when the thesis that had been proposed for disputation was the Divinity of the Son of God, one of the students happened to object, "that the Son of God was autotheos, and that he therefore had his essence from himself and not from the Father." In reply to this I observed, "that the word autotheos was capable of two different acceptations, since it might signify either "one who is truly God," or "one who is God of himself;" and that it was with great propriety and correctness attributed to the Son of God according to the former signification, but not according to the latter." The student, in prosecution of his argument, violently contended, that the word was justly applicable to the Son of God, principally according to the second of these significations: and that the essence of the Father could not be said to be communicated to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, in any other than in an improper sense; but that it was in perfect correctness and strict propriety common alike to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost." He added "that he asserted this with the greater confidence because he had the younger Trelcatius of pious memory, [but who was then living,] as an authority in his favor on this point; for that learned Professor had written to the same purport in his Common Places." To these observations I answered, "that this opinion was at variance with the word of God, and with the whole of the ancient Church, both Greek and Latin, which had always taught, that the Son had His Deity from the Father by eternal generation." To these remarks I subjoined, "that from such an opinion as this, necessarily followed the two mutually conflicting errors, Tri-theism and Sabellianism; that is,

1. It would ensue as a necessary consequence, from these premises, that there are three Gods, who have together and collaterally the Divine essence, independently of this circumstance — that one of them (being only personally distinguished from the rest) has that essence from another of the persons. Yet the proceeding of the origin of one person from another, (that is, of the Son from the Father,) is the only foundation that has ever been used for defending the Unity of the Divine Essence in the Trinity of Persons.

2. It would likewise follow as another consequence, that the Son would himself be the Father, because he would differ from the Father in nothing but in regard to name, which was the opinion of Sabellius. For, since it is peculiar to the Father to derive his Deity from himself, or (to speak more correctly,) to derive it from no one, if, in the sense of being "God of himself," the Son be called autotheos, it follows that he is the Father." Some account of this disputation was dispersed abroad in all directions, and it reached Amsterdam. A minister of that city, who now rests in the Lord, having interrogated me respecting the real state of this affair, I related the whole of it to him plainly, as I have now done: and I requested him to make Trelcatius of blessed memory acquainted with it as it had actually occurred, and to advise him in a friendly manner to amend his opinion, and to correct those inappropriate words in his Common Places: this request the minister from Amsterdam engaged to fulfill in his own way. In all this proceeding I am far from being liable to any blame; for I have defended the truth and the sentiments of the Catholic and Orthodox Church. Trelcatius undoubtedly was the person most open to animadversion; for he adopted a mode of speaking which detracted somewhat from the truth of the matter. But such has always been either my own infelicity or the zeal of certain individuals that, as soon as any disagreement arises, all the blame is instantly cast upon me, as if it was impossible for me to display as much veracity [or orthodoxy] as any other person. Yet on this subject I have Gomarus himself consenting with me; for, soon after Trelcatius had published his common places, a disputation on the Trinity having been proposed in the University, Gomarus did in three several parts of his theses express himself in such terms as were diametrically opposed to those of Trelcatius. The very obvious difference in opinion between those two Professors I pointed out to the Amsterdam minister, who acknowledged its existence. Yet, notwithstanding all these things, no one endeavored to vindicate me from this calumny; while great exertion was employed to frame excuses for Trelcatius, by means of a qualified interpretation of his words, though it was utterly impossible to reconcile their palliative explanations with the plain signification of his unperverted expressions. Such are the effects which the partiality of favor and the fervor of zeal can produce!

The milder and qualified interpretation put upon the words of Trelcatius, was the following: "the Son of God may be styled autotheos, or may be said to have his Deity from himself, in reference to his being God, although he has his Deity from the Father, in reference to his being the Son." For the sake of a larger explanation, it is said, "God, or the Divine Essence, may be considered both absolutely and relatively. When regarded absolutely, the Son has his Divine essence from himself; but, when viewed relatively, he derives it from the Father." But these are new modes of speaking and novel opinions, and such as can by no means consist together. For the Son, both in regard to his being the Son, and to his being God, derives his Deity from the Father. When he is called God, it is then only not expressed that he is from the Father; which derivation is particularly noted when the word Son is employed. Indeed, the essence of God can in no manner come under our consideration, except it be said, "that the Divine Essence is communicated to the Son by the Father." Nor can it possibly in any different respect whatever be said, that this essence is both "communicated to him" and "not communicated;" because these expressions are contradictory, and can in no diverse respect be reconciled to each other. If the Son have the Divine Essence from himself in reference to its being absolutely considered, it cannot be communicated to him. If it be communicated to him in reference to its being relatively considered, he cannot have it from himself in reference to its being absolutely considered.

I shall probably be asked, "do you not acknowledge, that, to be the Son of God, and to be God, are two things entirely distinct from each other?" I reply, undoubtedly I subscribe to such distinction. But when those who make it proceed still further, and say, "since to be the Son of God signifies that he derives his essence from the Father, to be God in like manner signifies nothing less than that he has his essence from himself or from no one;" I deny this assertion, and declare, at the same time, that it is a great and manifest error, not only in sacred theology, but likewise in natural philosophy. For, these two things, to be the Son and to be God, are at perfect agreement with each other; but to derive his essence from the Father, and, at the same time, to derive it from no one, are evidently contradictor, and mutually destructive the one of the other.

But, to make this fallacy still more apparent, it must be observed, how equal in force and import are certain double ternary and parallel propositions, when standing in the following juxta-position:

God is from eternity, possessing the Divine Essence from eternity. The Father is from no one, having the Divine Essence from no one. The Son is from the Father, having the Divine Essence from the Father. The word "God" therefore signifies, that He has the true Divine Essence; but the word "Son" signifies, that he has the Divine Essence from the Father. On this account, he is correctly denominated both God and the Son of God. But since he cannot be styled the Father, he cannot possibly be said to have the Divine Essence from himself or from no one. Yet much labor is devoted to the purpose of excusing these expressions, by saying, "that when the son of God in reference to his being God is said to have his essence from that form of speech signifies nothing more, than that the Divine essence is not derived from any one." But if this be thought to be the most proper mode of action which should be adopted, there will be no depraved or erroneous sentiment which can be uttered that may not thus find a ready excuse. For though God and the divine Essence do not differ substantially, yet whatever may be predicated of the Divine Essence can by no means be equally predicated of God; because they are distinguished from each other in our mode of framing conceptions, according to which mode all forms of speech ought to be examined, since they are employed only with a design that through them we should receive correct impressions. This is very obvious from the following examples, in which we speak with perfect correctness when we say, "Deum mortuum esse," and "the Essence of God is communicated;" but very incorrectly when we say, "God is communicated." That man who understands the difference existing between concrete and abstract, about which there were such frequent disputes between us and the Lutherans will easily perceive what a number of absurdities will ensue, if explanations of this description be once tolerated in the Church of God. Therefore, in no way whatever can this phrase, "the Son of God is autotheos," ["God of himself," or "in his own right,"] be excused as a correct one, or as having been happily expressed. Nor can that be called a proper form of speech which says, "the Essence of God is common to three persons;" but it is improper, since the Divine Essence is declared to be communicated by one of them to another. The observations which I now make, I wish to be particularly regarded, because it may appear from them how much we are capable of tolerating in a man whom we do not suspect of heresy; and, on the contrary, with what avidity we seize upon any trivial circumstance by which we may inculpate another man whom we hold under the ban of suspicion. Of such partiality, this incident affords two manifest examples.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Why Doesn't He Believe??

Arminian Kevin Jackson provided an interesting post on the SEA site today with several questions and answers that are of interest in the never ending struggle between Calvinist and non-Calvinist ideologies. It is well worth reading. In particular, the first question is of personal interest having addressed this matter recently. Kevin posits why does one person believe and not another? Often asked by Calvinists as if this is a showstopper of all things non-Calvinist yet Arminians often struggle to answer the inquiry. I have tried several times and Kevin offers his answer as well … "This question assumes a deterministic framework. Each person is a unique being who has the God given capability to make his own choices ex nihilo. One person believes and not another because one chose to believe, and the other did not." From my perspective this begs the question further. Why does one choose to believe and another given the same Gospel chooses not to? I have tried to reply by turning the question back on the inquirer and asking why does he continue in sin knowing his LORD and Master disapprove? The reply is usually a dismissal of the question however it should be the same as Kevin's response, he chose to sin. Yet we are still left with some mystery to ponder and in all truthfulness, I do not have an answer. I do not know why I chose the LORD when He called and why my neighbor continues to reject Him. Boiling the dross and fat away from the Calvinist perspective, he must reply because God made him for the glory of hell but that does nothing to settle the matter. The Calvinist must deal with his own antinomy between his concept of divine determination and my neighbor's accountability for sin and rejection. For my own comfort, I find less conflict from my inability to explain why somebody would continue to reject God than the Calvinist must have with his contradictory mystery. I can remember well my own rejection of Christ and looking back have some understanding of why my neighbor continues to reject Him… understand yet still marvel at it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hollywood Apologetics

In throwing "Do Unto Others?" together, I had a particular despondent soul in mind and browsing through a couple of sites earlier, I came across the following comment by the same fellow.

Arminians assure us that the Arminian God is more loving than the Calvinist God. But does the Arminian God do whatever it takes, at any cost, by any means necessary, to act in the best interests of sinners? 

I cannot state for certain that I have never heard an Arminian or like- minded Christian state such a thing. I suppose there are some that would. I might suggest the caricature Calvinists paint of the LORD emphasizes a mistaken application of sovereignty at the expense of God's goodness and character. Fortunately for the Calvinist, however, the "Arminian  God" we love and worship is the very same God that Calvinists also worship. Some people have a lot of trouble grasping that truth. Now, as for the second point of inquiry, that of whether or not God will go to any length to act in the best interests of sinners, clearly the answer is no. The LORD allows men of both Calvinist and Arminian persuasion to engage in sin and rebellion. The LORD will cast many sinners into eternal damnation and of course that is not in a sinner's best interest. The LORD is not going to transgress His own Holy character in order to put a wayward Calvinist on the right path. There are a LOT of things God is not going to do in order to serve our best interests. The LORD certainly did not stop the poor soul from making such an ill-thought inquiry.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Do Unto Others?

"Do unto others as you think they are doing to you". That is a strange position for one who claims Christ. Of course those words might not be directly used although among some of the more acerbic and zealous advocates they say just that. There is a pride in their actions and words that I cannot find in scripture. Instead I find a call for measured responses marked by charity, meekness, humility and a genuine concern to bring correctness with the compassion of Christ. Now, the LORD certainly knows I can dig a ditch just as effectively as the most talented ditch digger but I can also state I do not desire it. Standing in my own trench on occasion, the conscious voices concern as it should. There is a Holy presence in each of us who abide in Christ. It is not only comforting but convicting as well. 

The passage from which the twist is taken is well known … "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." (Mt 7:12 AV).  Those who pervert the passage to pursue the twist might claim they desire the carnal responses they react to, that they are concerned only with naked truth as they perceive truth to be. Perhaps they find it convenient to practice their former devices when opportunity presents yet to even consider such to be opportunity rather than avoidance flies in the face of scriptural instruction. If one replies to a sot comment with loutish commentary and with relish, can it be said he is attempting to restore one with meekness. Quite the opposite should be expected. The loutish response will lead to the respondent's own temptation as the  scriptures tell us (Ga 6:1). The scriptural instructions to the saint who desires to live a Godly life and faithfully interact with his fellows so overwhelms the notion of replying in like kind that there is no excuse to do otherwise except sinfulness (Eph 4:1-3, Col 3:12-17, 1 Tim 6:11, Tit 3:12, Jas 3:13, 1 Pet 3:15).

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Captain of the Host

"And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the LORD'S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so." (Jos 5:13-15 AV)

How many times do we act as if the LORD is doing our bidding against those we oppose? The LORD is not a Calvinist. He is not a member of Calvary Chapel. He does not place any allegiance with the Assemblies of God. He is not a Christian. Who and what He is can be described as Holy. Note Joshua's question and the LORD's reply of no. The opposing question could be assumed here (with some risk). Is He against us? I believe He would answer again , "nay" but our response had better be the same.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Arminius on the Creation of Man after the Image of God

Arminius presented a well thought out view of man's creation as a dichotomous and creationist (as opposed to the traducianist) event expressing the image of God. Wesley would later build on this with his tri-fold perspective of this image (see this commentary for his particular thoughts). The following were Arminius's comments …

DISPUTATION 26 … ON THE CREATION OF MAN AFTER THE IMAGE OF GOD

1. Man is a creature of God; consisting of a body and a soul, rational, good, and created after the divine image — according to his body, created from pre-existing matter, that is, earth mixed and besprinkled with aqueous and ethereal moisture, — according to his soul, created out of nothing, by the breathing of breath into his nostrils.

2. But that body would have been incorruptible, and, by the grace of God, would not have been liable to death, if men had not sinned, and had not, by that deed, procured for himself the necessity of dying. And because it was to be the future receptacle of the soul, it was furnished by the wise Creator with various and excellent organs.

3. But the soul is entirely of an admirable nature, if you consider its origin, substance, faculties, and habits.

(1.) Its origin; for it is from nothing, created by infusion, and infused by creation, a body being duly prepared for its reception, that it might fashion matter as with form, and, being united to the body by a native bond, might, with it, compose one ufisamenonproduction. Created, I say, by God in time, as he still daily creates a new soul in each body.

4. Its substance, which is simple, immaterial, and immortal. Simple, I say, not with respect to God; for it consists of act and power or capability, of being and essence, of subject and accidents; but it is simple with respect to material and compound things. It is immaterial, because it can subsist by itself, and, when separated from the body, can operate alone. It is immortal, not indeed from itself, but by the sustaining grace of God.

5. Its faculties, which are two, the understanding and the will, as in fact the object of the soul is two-fold. For the understanding apprehends eternity and truth both universal and particular, by a natural and necessary, and therefore by a uniform act. But the will has an inclination to good. Yet this is either, according to the mode of its nature, to universal good and to that which is the chief good; or, according to the mode of liberty, to all other [kinds of] good.

6. Lastly. In its habits, which are, First, wisdom, by which the intellect clearly and sufficiently understood the supernatural truth and goodness both of felicity and of righteousness. Secondly. Righteousness and the holiness of truth, by which the will was fitted and ready to follow what this wisdom commanded to be done, and what it showed to be desired. This righteousness and wisdom are called "original," both because man had them from his very origin, and because, if man had continued in his integrity, they would also have been communicated to his posterity.

7. In all these things, the image of God most wonderfully shone forth. We say that this is the likeness by which man resembled his Creator, and expressed it according to the mode of his capacity — in his soul, according to its substance, faculties and habits — in this body, though this cannot be properly said to have been created after the image of God who is pure spirit, yet it is something divine, both from the circumstance that, if man had not sinned, his body would never have died, and because it is capable of special incorruptibility and glory, of which the apostle treats in 1 Corinthians 15, because it displays some excellence and majesty beyond the bodies of other living creatures, and, lastly, because it is an instrument well fitted for admirable actions and operations — in his whole person, according to the excellence, integrity, and the dominion over the rest of the creatures, which were conferred upon him.

8. The parts of this image may be thus distinguished: Some of them may be called natural to man, and others supernatural; some, essential to him, and others accidental. It is natural and essential to the soul to be a spirit, and to be endowed with the power of understanding and of willing, both according to nature and the mode of liberty. But the knowledge of God, and of things pertaining to eternal salvation, is supernatural and accidental, as are likewise the rectitude and holiness of the will, according to that knowledge. Immortality is so far essential to the soul, that it cannot die unless it cease to be; but it is on this account supernatural and accidental, because it is through grace and the aid of preservation, which God is not bound to bestow on the soul.

9. But the immortality of the body is entirely supernatural and accidental; for it can be taken away from the body, and the body can return to the dust, from which it was taken. Its excellence above other living creatures, and its peculiar fitness to produce various effects, are natural to it, and essential. Its dominion over the creatures which belongs to the whole man as consisting of body and soul, may he partly considered as belonging to it according to the excellence of nature, and partly as conferred upon it by gracious gift, of which dominion this seems to be an evidence, that it is never taken wholly away from the soul, although it be varied, and be augmented and diminished according to degrees and parts.

10. Thus was man created, that he might know, love and worship his Creator, and might live with him for ever in a state of blessedness. By this act of creation, God most manifestly displayed the glory of his wisdom, goodness and power.

11. From this description of man, it appears, that he is both fitted to perform the act of religion to God, since such an act is required from him — that he is capable of the reward which may be properly adjudged to those who perform [acts of] religion to God, and of the punishment which may be justly inflicted on those who neglect religion; and therefore that religion may, by a deserved right, be required from man according to this relation; and this is the principal relation, according to which we must, in sacred theology, treat about the creation of man after the image of God.

12. In addition to this image of God, and this reference to supernatural and spiritual things, comes under our consideration the state of the natural life, in which the first man was created and constituted, according to the apostle Paul, "that which is natural was first, and afterwards, that which is spiritual." (1 Corinthians 15:46.) This state is founded in the natural union of body and soul, and in the life which the soul naturally lives in the body; from which union and life it is that the soul procures for its body, things which are good for it; and, on the other hand, the body is ready for offices which are congruous to its nature and desires. According to this state or condition, there is a mutual relation between man and the good things of this world, the effect of which is, that man can desire them, and, in procuring them for himself, can bestow that labor which he deems to be necessary and convenient.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Andy Heer’s “Does God Know the Future?”

The Spring 2010 edition of The Arminian Magazine has a short article by Andy Heer entitled "Does God Know the Future" challenging the notions of open theism that seems to make some inroads among a few of our Arminiam and non-predestinarian brethren. It is a profitable read and provides a well thought out synopsis against open theology. Following is an extract from that article and the rest of it can be found here.

… There is no question that Open Theology is not the position of historic Wesleyan Arminianism. Thomas Noble concluded that Pinnock's view is different from ours. "The immanence of God within the time-space creation is emphasized at the expense of his transcendence. God is not fully transcendent over time since he cannot know the future."

Classical Arminian theology has historically affirmed God's exhaustive foreknowledge of the future. While Open Theology is an attempt to reject Calvinistic determinism, both Open Theology and Calvinism have tied predestination and foreknowledge together. It seems for Open Theology to reject predestination one must also reject foreknowledge as well.

John Wesley, in his sermon "On Predestination," argued that the foreknowledge of God is the first point to be addressed in considering God's whole work in salvation. Wesley said that, "God foreknew those in every nation who would believe," and that, "In a word, God, looking on all ages, from the creation to the consummation, as a moment, and seeing at once whatever is in the hearts of all children of men, knows every one that does or does not believe, in every age or nation."

For Wesley this did not create a conflict between human moral freedom and divine foreknowledge. He affirmed that though God knew the future, he did not determine it. Wesley believed that we must not think that things are because God knows them; rather, God knows them because they are. Wesley said, "I now know the sun shines. Yet the sun does not shine because I know it: but I know it because he shines. My knowledge supposes the sun to shine, but does not in any wise cause it. In like manner God knows that man sins; for he knows all things. Yet we do not sin because he knows it: but he knows it because we sin. And his knowledge supposes our sin, but does not in any wise cause it."

Calvinism conflates foreknowledge with predestination, claiming that God foreknows the future because He has predetermined it. Wesley, like Arminius, saw God's divine foreknowledge as the ground of his predetermination to save those who believe and damn those who do not believe. Open Theology is a denial, not a development of historic Arminian theology. For that matter Open Theology is a denial of the historic position of the church. Open Theology seems to want to remove the mystery or the paradox of human freedom and divine foreknowledge, but in this attempt to limit God's knowledge they have created bigger problems and a smaller God. …

Open Theology, while I believe in error, should not be used as a wedge to deny fellowship to those who subscribe to it's tenets. Arminius stated something in one of his lectures I continue to view as profound and a wise choice for us to follow.

… first, it is very difficult to discover truth and avoid error; second, people who err are more

likely to be ignorant than malicious; third, those who err may be among the elect; and

fourth, it is possible that we ourselves are in error. (The Works of James Arminius, D.D., (American edition of 1956; Works), I, 183. Cited by Bangs, Op. cit.,276)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wesley on the New Birth

By some accounts, John Wesley preached one of his more powerful and theologically distinct sermons in May of 1743. He preached on the subject of the New Birth, the born from above experience of the saint in Christ. I believe it is essential reading for all saints who wish to understand and be equipped to articulate why it is that we are to be born from above, to experience the New Birth, to be regenerated. As I read through this sermon earlier, the first paragraph stuck in my mind, particularly Wesley's note that justification precedes being born again in the manner of thinking. His logic is convincing and while I haven't questioned it, I ask only how it could be otherwise, God's wrath being turned away before the Spirit of God can work upon our hearts. The following is Wesley's opening to the sermon found here.

… If any doctrines within the whole compass of Christianity may be properly termed fundamental, they are doubtless these two, -- the doctrine of justification, and that of the new birth: The former relating to that great work which God does for us, in forgiving our sins; the latter, to the great work which God does in us, in renewing our fallen nature. In order of time, neither of these is before the other: in the moment we are justified by the grace of God, through the redemption that is in Jesus, we are also "born of the Spirit;" but in order of thinking, as it is termed, justification precedes the new birth. We first conceive his wrath to be turned away, and then his Spirit to work in our hearts….


 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Arminius on the Confidence of Eternal Security

On one of the discussion boards there is a thread making some rather rash statements regarding what Arminians believe and adhere to regarding the eternal security of the believer. The author of the thread stated the following that I thought was rather telling of his particular ignorance in this matter.

How does an Arminian have a true-pure-peace of mind knowing at any moment one could lose his/her eternal life and become damned?

Arminians believe salvation is lost depending upon what one does, or doesn't do. How can an Arminian have any peace knowing his/her salvation rests upon what they do, or don't do?

Arminius addressed these matters in his Nine Questions as noted below.

May everyone who is a true believer be assured in this life of his individual salvation; and is it his duty to have this assurance?

Does justifying faith precede, in the order of nature, remission of sins, or does it not? And can any man be bound to any other faith than that which justifies?

ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION

Since God promises eternal life to all who believe in Christ, it is impossible for him who believes, and who knows that he believes, to doubt of his own salvation, unless he doubts of this willingness of God [to perform his promise.] But God does not require him to be better assured of his individual salvation as a duty which must be performed to himself or to Christ; but it is a consequence of that promise, by which God engages to bestow eternal life on him who believes.


 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Presuppositional Excuses

Arminian Chronicles recently posted on presuppositionalism here. I have never been a fan of presuppositional apologetics and from what I have observed those who are tend to be anti-evangelicals. That is certainly not always the case. I am sure there are evangelicals who resort to basing their arguments on the premise that God and scripture are true and therefore they might proceed to arguing their case out of their own logic and assumed powers of persuasion. However, if we turn to the word of God, is there a case to be made for allowing the assumption of it's truth and setting it aside to allow our own intellectual prowess to have some measure of primacy? There is none that I know of. The LORD tells us  "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." (Isa 55:11 AV). Should we make an assumption that this truth should be set aside and we substitute our own words for those of God, whose power is evident in the very words we set aside? I cannot imagine an evangelical properly serving the kingdom of God through his own devices making the assumption that the Word of God is true and he can proceed without it. Paul clearly stated otherwise in several passages including this "For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!" (1Co 9:16 AV). What woe could possibly fall upon Paul should he have substituted the gospel of Jesus Christ in favor of what I am sure were considerable intellectual capabilities? We do not know but woe be to those as well who shuck the Gospel of Jesus Christ aside to impress the world with intellectualism so as to make a temporal name for themselves. No souls are saved by a man's intellectual pursuits.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Reformed Presbyterians Jump Deep into Extreme Liberalism

A couple of misguided souls have recently suggested that Arminians are on a hard liberal path based on the theology we espouse. However, given the news out of the Calvinistic Reformed Presbyterian Church USA, I would suggest that perversion has set in deep among the Calvinists.

Presbyterian Church – USA votes to ordain practicing homosexuals and lesbians as pastors

Funny bunch of folks those Presbyterians are with their finger pointing and accusations and all.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


Anti-Caner Websites?


James White posted the following today on his anti-Caner website.

Norman Geisler has posted a statement that, though unsigned, is supposed to represent a statement from Kregel Publications. It is the standard party-line statement, but it includes this amazing line: "Moreover, evidence presented on anti-Caner Web sites, such as the legal documents related to his parents' divorce proceedings, confirm that his father was a devout Muslim who did his utmost to insure his sons' training in the Muslim faith." There is no question of the fact, provided by Mr. Smathers' research, that Ergun's father was a Muslim who wanted his sons raised as Muslims. Such has, of course, never been in dispute. But truly, how balanced and fair is a statement that makes reference to "anti-Caner websites"? Anti-Caner websites? What on earth is that? 

What on earth is that? Well, it might be a site that has posted well over thirty negative attacks against a man he has never met, has no overseer or elder responsibilities for and can't seem to sit down and shut up after losing his bid to totally trash Dr. Ergun Caner's life.



As a side note, here is Dr. Norman Geisler's further defense of Dr. Ergun Caner, something that probably chews at Mr. White and will draw a few more meows, I am sure.

Disclaimer: this is an "anti-Whitehead mentality website", well, occasionally, for now at least and I am not going to claim God is making me do it opposed to my desires. This is probably my last or next to last comment regarding White's absurd hypocrisy on this issue.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Dr. Norman Geisler’s Defense of Dr. Ergun Caner

In light of the continuing and disgusting antichrist attacks by James White, his Islamic bedfellows and his likeminded sycophants against Dr. Ergun Caner, Liberty University and its leadership and now the respected Dr. Norman Geisler, I think it is appropriate to keep a link to Geisler's defense of Dr. Caner handy. White's self serving website has posted a new attack against Dr. Geisler in the hope of fanning the flames of their defeat even further. The reality here is that Liberty University, Dr. Ergun Caner and its Seminary body are putting this matter behind them, healing any rifts that might have occurred and moving back onto the path of serving the work of our LORD and Savior. The extreme Calvinists as Geisler considers them and their Islamic friends in this matter are doing their best to attack these efforts and sow even greater discord in the body of Christ.

Geisler's defense of Dr. Caner can be found here.

Perhaps It Is Time to Throw James White under the Bus

With Liberty University concluding its inquiry into James White and his Islamic bedfellows crusade against Dr. Ergun Caner, the results of that inquiry are not sitting well in some of the schismatic Calvinist camps. While I have no doubt White would be satisfied with nothing short of a summary dismissal of Caner from his employment along with LU prostrating itself before the White shrine, it seems LU took the appropriate Christian action by removing Caner from the Dean's post while allowing him to continue serving the LORD as a professor within the Seminary at LU. There is no doubt Dr Caner has been humbled by this experience and both he and LU will need to work to ensure each has the other's trust as well as that of the student body at LU. It is certainly expected that Dr. Caner's commentary and work going forward will be scrutinized heavily and that can only be a good thing. He is a fine apologist with legitimate credentials. What neither Dr. Caner or Liberty University need be concerned with are the near rabid frothing and carnal mudslinging dressed up as moral indignation that seem to be the hallmark of White's constant crusade. White has referred to Liberty's decision as an evangelical whitewash. He goes further in slandering and libeling the University by referring to its decision as "… obtuse, confusing, political language (that) has provided the basis upon which a cover-up has now been launched in Caner's service". White is essentially so disturbed with himself for not succeeding in destroying Dr. Caner he has resorted to calling Liberty University and its leadership nothing other than a pack of liars. While I do not think Liberty is concerned with Mr. White's indignation (and they certainly should not be), his fellow Calvinists should be greatly concerned. This is a man who wedded himself to Islamic enemies of Christ because of his personal feud with Caner over the past few years. He is a man who has consistently misrepresented the beliefs and faith of that many and greater body of Christ.

Given his penchant for aberrant doctrine, in particular his determinist Calvinist views, I am only surprised that he would consider it his God inspired duty to continue his personal vendetta in light of God's ordination of Liberty's decision (assuming White's doctrine is even remotely correct). In White's myopic theological world view he is kicking against the shins of God and he hasn't the modicum of sensibilities to recognize it. It is time to throw the carnal ministry under the bus, theologically speaking of course.