Sunday, January 27, 2008

I popped back into an old haunt last night just to take a look around. I found Paltalk several years ago after the demise of Firetalk and a growing disgust with the text chat of AOL Online. The funny thing about Paltalk is that it was just as bad if not worse than the theological neophytes fueling so many "cock fights" on AOL but like so many of my fellow internet addicts, I hung around, an observer and occasional commentator. I never did have much to say but I sure typed a lot! Well, last night was the advent of an epiphany of sorts. It's still the same as when I left! Imagine that. Willy 162, the Calvinist character that "woke up saved" was still there with his theological "no slop" room and the poor souls who don't realize that Jesus is the LORD were still trying to entice room numbers in competition with the Universalist All Paths To Jesus Eternity folks who have their own revised bible consisting of three verses. It was too late in the evening for Matt Slick to be there telling listeners that he knew what he was talking about because he has a Masters degree from Westminster Seminary and you don't! There was no James White aka Dr. Oakley chastising people for suggesting he debate people who do not have the theological pedigree he enjoys even though he acquired his out of the seminary equivalent of a large box of CrackerJack. Yet, there were several familiar names I had long forgotten. There was still the "kick back" Christian room with many new names and a smattering of old familiar ones. I did not see Gina Dee around who was one of the sane voices nor Potters Freedom, a reasonable Reformed pastor. Most disappointing was that I did not see any sign of that old curmudgeon Promoe conducting one of his infamously absurd circuses parodying Oneness Pentecostalism or some giant straw man construction of Calvinist doctrine. After a few minutes, I clicked Paltalk off and went to bed. I might return but now that I've had a vision of what Paltalk is still like, it might be a while.

Edited to add: I did run across Promoe on Paltalk last night and he has tamed himself somewhat. I enjoyed the brief discussion and he was quite cordial towards me and I wish him nothing but blessings in Christ. 2/8/08

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Who's Your Theological Daddy?

Now I've gone and done it. My next step is to go to Barnes & Nobles or Amazon and find a good read concerning Karl Barth. I must admit I have read next to nothing of the gentleman so I cannot speak for his theology however in taking this test I discovered that Barth must be my theological daddy of sorts. Now I generally do not take these kinds of exercises with any great seriousness but my curiosity is piqued. I wonder what I shall find. I ran across this test from a link on another wonderful blog located at Arminian Perspectives.

The results of my test?

Which theologian are you? You scored as a Karl Barth The daddy of 20th Century theology. You perceive liberal theology to be a disaster and so you insist that the revelation of Christ, not human experience, should be the starting point for all theology.

Karl Barth




Martin Luther


John Calvin


Jonathan Edwards


Friedrich Schleiermacher


Charles Finney




J├╝rgen Moltmann


Paul Tillich


Take this Test

Monday, January 14, 2008

Choosing to Obey and Irresistible Too?

As is often the case during my lunch break today I found myself exchanging questions with a Calvinist fellow over another never ending word game topic. For as long as I have been exploring the often sharp differences between Calvinists and Arminians I have been fascinated with the concept of choice. Not being a libertarian free will advocate, naturally I shy from the phrase free will if it is attached to the baggage of libertarian thought as it drags me uncomfortably close to Charles Finney's over stuffed and under supported armchair of Pelagian discomfort. In any event, the issue was about choice and the inevitable question "Does man make moral choices?" I have found that unless the person is a hard determinist of an extreme position, every Calvinist will answer in the affirmative, that men make choices particularly choosing to obey the Gospel (if they happen to be regenerated in the Calvinist sense). I think I asked the question "What are the choices that such men have?" to which the reply was "limited or "very limited". Aside from not being an answer to the question, it also revealed a mindset that is common when logic interferes with one's presuppositions. This person could not or would not allow himself to address the question. An answer to the question would have required at least a provision for an alternative. To choose "A", there must be at a minimum one alternative to decline otherwise it was not a choice. So I am left to ask my Calvinist friends "What is the alternative to choosing to obey the Gospel if you truly believe man chooses to do so?"

To be fair, I must state that I believe every man who chooses to obey the Gospel may also choose not to do so and most who hear the Word of God choose the latter. It is this truth that denies the doctrine of irresistible grace and presents the quandary Calvinists place themselves in when they state that men choose while at the same time affirm their doctrine of irresistible grace. The two thoughts are not compatible.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

By Whose Stripes Ye Were Healed

"Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." (1Pe 2:24 AV)

This wondrous statement carries such importance in our Christian lives that to understate it is to do an injustice to the faith we live. It was the passion of Christ that brought life to each of us, restoring our spiritually dead condition to that of a healed servant of God whose every thought should now turn to the things of God. We were healed of every spiritual affliction in that moment that faith brought us into the Kingdom of God. The Apostle Peter was teaching the saints through his epistle to endure and trust completely in what Christ had done for them. The particular verse above comes near the end of a passage encouraging obedience and humility toward whatever powers we find ourselves under all the while knowing that while we may suffer indignities as servants of Christ, we can be comforted in knowing that Jesus suffered worse and fully for our benefit. It was this suffering endured by Christ that healed us through the faith we have in Him.

Lately I have been heatedly engaged in a running dispute with a Calvinist fellow who has taken upon himself the disingenuous task of subjecting this passage as a support for the unique notion that Jesus performed the actual work of healing all elect souls at Calvary 2,000 years ago before any of us ever existed. Aside from the Gnostic inclinations of such a theory, the idea lends itself to the doctrine of a pre-existent soul or at a minimum a healing occurring in the past that is only effectively manifested when one is saved. Further, when pressed on the matter, identifying what specifically was healed at that time becomes a gymnastics exercise in illogic finally settling on "mystery" as the only answer that can be submitted. Of course this doctrine the fine gentleman is promoting is silly at best and heretical if carried to its logical end. We know what we were healed of when we were saved and there is no mystery in that knowledge. We know as well that the doctrine of a pre-existent soul has no scriptural basis except among the Mormon fellows and other various cultic entities. Now, I cannot state with clarity that the Calvinist with whom I was conversing endorses the pre-existence of the soul for the discussion meandered into a time and eternity exploration and the topic soon muddied into a tangled morass. In any event I am certain we will not see eye to eye on this matter and I have resolved to let the matter go between us. However, it may be profitable to formulate a proper Christian exposition on the passage to offer a sound Christian understanding. Suffice to state however that such a doctrine as employed by this fellow offers no legitimate support for his Limited Atonement position (that being the true motive for his eclectic manner).

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Is Jesus Blood Wasted On Those Not Saved?

It has been some time since posting to this blog having abandoned it in a manner of speaking. Hopefully, I can make better use of the resource in the coming months. While perusing several threads on the Arminian-Calvinist board on CARM I came across a somewhat rhetorical question presented by one of the Calvinist participants. It was asked in response to an Arminian challenge to a posting related to limited atonement. These sorts of arguments are a routine occurrence on the board as are the standard rhetorical replies. However there was a response to the question that struck me as absolutely wonderful and I cannot get it out of the way without first offering some thoughts on the matter.

The question was "Is Jesus' blood wasted on those not saved?" This is not the first time I had seen the question asked nor will it be the last. I can think of several occurrences over the years where that question or one similar had been asked as if the question itself was a showstopper, a ringer if you will that is intended to bring to a grinding halt any intellectual challenge of one's opinion. Another participant answered the question with a question of his own. "How much of Jesus' blood was needed to save just you?" Now, Calvinists have long argued that if the atonement is not limited in some fashion, it must logically follow that Jesus either failed in his mission or some aspect of His finished work was wasted on those not intended to benefit from that work. The initial question was an extension of that common argument. Yet, by turning the question around, the premise of the original inquirer is stripped of any importance. How is a single drop of Christ blood wasted if it is applied to you and I?

The clear answer to the second question is "all of it". Yes, all of Jesus Christ's blood was needed to save just one single soul without a single drop of it going to waste. Whether for one or one hundred million souls, every single ounce or drop of the shed blood of the Lamb of God was put to a perfecting use. Not a single spec of His poured out life left His body without being applied for the benefit of mankind. Now, we can argue limited atonement vs. unlimited atonement until the second advent of Christ and I am sure we will however whether unlimited or not, the blood of Christ is not wasted under either opinion.

This is often the case with rhetorical devices employed against rational discourse. Such questions make for a good sound bite in a debate format but as the reply demonstrated they fall just as quickly and loudly as when uttered.