05 January 2007

Before I am banished for posting at BHT ...

by Frank Turk, Missionary to the Curious

Yeah, OK: by now you have seen my first (and, if all things work out for good for those who Love God, last) post at BHT about Francis Chan's evangelism video and whether Calvinists who bristle at the statement "God doesn't want to send you to hell" are right-minded or not. And I promised a sign of good faith to the Tavernistas here at TeamPyro, so here is that sign of good faith.

So ... have I jumped the shark here? Have I gone mad with blogging? No -- I'm trying to do some good here both for the sake of those who have a grudge against "Calvinists" and those who are calvinists (note the small "c") against which there may be some grudges.

So let's start here: What is the Gospel? Seriously -- what is it? Do you know? If you have been following this discussion over the last 2 years at my blog, it is "Christ died for our sins in accordance with Scripture; he was buried, he was raised on the third day in accordance with Scripture", right?

Now, the Calvinist makes the following point: "us" is not everybody -- "us" is a particular group, which the Bible calls "the elect". In that, Christ died for the sins of the elect. The intention of the Cross is for the elect. And, I think, it's hard to argue against that -- even though some people do. And that's an argument which I am not going to take up here.

What I am going to take up here is this: "us" may be a fixed number in the eternal sense, but it is a growing and fluid number in the immediate sense. That is: right now, today, no matter how calvinistic you are, you do not know the number or the phone numbers of the elect. And in that, the great commission is not a telemarketing scheme by which we only call the phone numbers of the elect.

We are to preach the Gospel to all nations, people. All nations. Yes: the elect will come -- and amen! Praise God that the elect will come. But the message is not, "and the elect will come": the message is "Jesus died for sin, and was resurrected because God said it would be that way! Repent and believe!"

Now, the prickly calvinist will come forward, a little angry at this point, and say, "Frank, dude: slow down. Does that really mean we can just say, 'God doesn't want to send you to hell'? Isn't that formula a little vague or a little loose for the discerning disciple of Jesus Christ?"

The answer, of course, is, "Yes". And "NO." The example in play is actually a video by Francis Chan, and the question you have to ask yourself is this: does pastor Chan only present a weak-tea view of God's opinion about sin? That is, is "God doesn't want to send you to hell" a summary of his whole theology, or a summary of the good news of Jesus Christ to sinners?

If the video was 00:01:30 long, and that's all that Francis Chan said, of course that's not good theology -- of course that's not the Gospel. But pastor Chan has done far more than simply limp out the God of Precious Moments on the beach: he took great pains to spell out the problem of sin and implicit in his presentation is the affirmation that the consequence of sin is hell. The statement from him that "God doesn't want to send you to hell" is seasoned with the clear implication, but that's where you're headed, bub.

The Gospel is the message that all men are going to hell, but Christ is the savior of those who believe in him -- we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

And that's the message of the video in question. If you're a calvinist and you can't deliver that message to every man, your learning is in the way of your loyalty to Christ. You're too worried that you will make a false hope out of Christ, when in fact He is the only hope any man can have. Listen: preach the good news of the only name by which men must be saved, and then you can make calvinist pots out of them in Sunday school or something. Make the appeal God has sent us to make. Implore all men to be reconciled to Christ. The offer is real, and if the only way you can think of to make it is to say, "God doesn't want to send you to hell," as long as you have made it clear that hell is where the person is going right now, what have you done that Ray Comfort doesn't do?

In all of that, be with the Lord's people in the Lord's house on the Lord's day, and try to muster up the courage to tell people that Christ is the savior from their sins.








69 comments:

janelle said...

I'm curious about why Chan can make that statement. Wouldn't the more "correct" statement be that God HAS to punish sin, in order to remain holy? So wouldn't it be irrelevant about what He WANTS to do, because wouldn't he WANT to do what he HAS to do?

centuri0n said...

Janelle:

Have you watched the video?

John H said...

Or read Ezekiel 33:11?

donsands said...

Encouraging thoughts.

We need to preach John 3:16 for sure.

The Father draws sinners to His Son's Cross and empty tomb. He brings us to repentance and faith. He does it all, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The wind blows where it will, and the Spirit is the same in the way He regenerates a sinful soul and heart.

Thanks for the uplifting post.

centuri0n said...

Thanks, John.

Janelle --

My point in asking is that I think it's easy to take any sentence out of context and criticize it.

http://juststopandthink.com/movieextras_moviesm.php

In your view, pastor Chan doesn't ever deliver the "God is a judge" message. But watch the video. He says, "the commands are a necessary thing"; he says, "We know these laws are good and necessary"; he says, "sometimes we want to see the wrath of God poured out on others"; he says, "what would it be like to stand before this awesome God?" He says, "God's not going to grade us on a curve ... [God's judgment] is about Him libing us up to His law"; he says, "He has every right to punish us as severely as he sees fit."

That's hardly a soft-soaking of the message. Go watch the video and then decide for yourself if he said something wrong. But judge the whole message and not one sentence you think someone mind mistake for the whole message.

Pastor Rod said...

Frank,

Excellent post.

I'm interested in your reaction to my view that Calvinists (who think like you do at least) must do evangelism (and live in general) as if Arminianism were true.

I'm not trying to be argumentative or "clever." I'm genuinely interested in your response.

Thanks,

Rod

P.S. If posting at BHT won't get you banned, my approval of what you said here may do the job.

centuri0n said...

Rod --

That's a great question -- because it gets asked all the time.

I think it's a mistake to believe that Calvinism doesn't teach that man acts under his own willingness. That idea is a classic misrepresentation of calvinism, and "arminians" aren't the only ones who make this mistake -- "new" calvinists make it all the time.

It's sorta tough to believe that man just walks around like a puppet with either God's left hand (they go to hell) or God's right hand (they go to heaven) stuck in the back of his head. Why? Because we're talking about you and me.

See: I have this petition over at my blog about Pat Roberston's phony gift of prophecy -- asking him to apologize for misrepresenting "what God said". The reason this petitionmmeans anything is that we all know it is not a common experience to have God actively and overtly direct your actions. We know it! Even the Continualists know it!

But if we know that when it comes to "daGifts", why don't we know that when it comes to salvation? See: what happens in the second birth is not that God slips His hand into the back of my head and makes me mouth the syllables, "God-for-give-me-for-my-sins": what happens is that over nature is changed and we, who were sinners by nature now are in Christ by nature.

In that, we are now able to see sin as evil and repulsive; we are able to see repentence not only as a good idea to avoid wrath but the right thing to do; and we are able to hear the word of God which offers us forgiveness for repentence, and beauty for ashes.

That's not calvinism acting on a functional arminianism: that's knowing that the Gospel is the power to save, and that no one can hear unless someone is sent.

I understand why an arminian wants to say such a thing: I deny it is a valid way to see it. However, it does prove that you want us to like you, and we do. Now be reconciled to God. :-)

JSB said...

Great message, Frank. As an Arminian, I say amen to your post. Let us boldly preach the gospel to ALL men and we honor God, no matter what view we hold.

The Clinging Vine said...

Excellent post, Frank. I bookmarked the video back when you first linked to it, hoping to get some quite stubborn nonbelievers (to whom I happen to be related) to watch it.

John Hollandsworth said...

A few comments (since this will be the last post I will ever read here since cent posted at BHT):

1. whenever we present the gospel, it is always going to be less than perfect due to limits of time and human weakness. I think what we ought to be asking is "Is this glorifying to God? Does it get anything REALLY BADLY WRONG?" I would say that the video does get a concept or two a little skewed, but for crying out loud I've never seen anything else in this format even come close to it for giving the gospel accurately and passionately.

2. When you think about it, when he says "God doesn't want YOU to go to hell", anyone who's elect will understand that message and get saved, and anyone who's not elect will ultimately not understand the message because they've not been illuminated by the Spirit and so the message ultimately won't apply to them anyway. ?Hmmmm....?

centuri0n said...

I didn't know hollandsworth was a semi-hyper-calvinist ... I say good riddance ...

centuri0n said...

Gosh, this two-blogger-accounts thing is going to make me crazy ...

LeeC said...

Great post Cent.
Classic Calvinism as Calvin would understand it, and the Bible teaches it.

GeneMBridges said...

I'm interested in your reaction to my view that Calvinists (who think like you do at least) must do evangelism (and live in general) as if Arminianism were true.

If you ask me, this observation turns on the view that if a Calvinist is somehow "consistent" he should be a navel gazer and that Arminians are the evangelistic ones. But I've actually read Post-Reformation Dogmatics by Arminians and Calvinists, and what we find in history is that consistent Arminians with their doctrine of prevenient grace often wind up not doing evangelism and missions, because they come to believe that men can be saved based on whatever light they have, even if it does not involve Christ. That's why many descended into Socinianism. When Amyraldianism entered Geneva, Armininianism and latitudinarianism entered in the next generation, and you find men like Jacob Vernet making that very argument. In one more generation, they were denying the divinity of Christ. So, in the end, Arminianism and hyper-Calvinism turn on the same principle and will logically lead tot the same place. Clark Pinnock, for example, is already there, and one of the writers of "Why I'm Not A Calvinist" has even been, if I am not mistaken, consorting with the idea of post-mortem encounters like Pinnock. These things happened in Geneva, not when Calvinism was consistently followed but when it was "softened" into Amyraldianism and then Arminianism. Likewise, hyper-Calvinism arose when folks started thinking that that covenant of grace is unconditional in terms of both merit and instrumentality, which consistent Calvinists, like Turretin openly denied. From there, they started thinking that ability or knowledge limits responsibility, and that's when Tobias Crisp and his followers came into the picture. The result was antinomianism and anti-missionism.

One of the problems with these Calvinists that so emphasize the doctrine of election is that they tend to collapse the decrees into a single decree, which gives you absurdities like eternal justification and searching for warrants to believe based on a subjective sense of your own election. That's the gist of hyper-Calvinism, and will wind up in Tobias Crisp territory. I've been having an email conversation with one of these people lately, and it's terribly ugly to see somebody so hardened that they even say that a Calvinist who "tolerates" Armininianism is unregenerate. Of course, I gather he actually believes Marc Carpenter is "outside the camp," too, which I find rather amusing, since Carpenter puts anybody that doesn't agree with him "outside the camp."

There's a danger in so emphasizing the ontological order in Dogmatics, which should be taught after a person understands the doctrines of grace and not really before, with the Pauline order of knowing (teleology).In short, we must differentiate between the order of being in God and the order of knowing, that is the way we come to understand them and even experience them. For example, Paul moves from sin to justification to sanctification and then to election as the underwriting prinicple of salvation, in Romans. So, a truly consistent Calvinist, one who is following Sola Scriptura, will, in fact, follow that order in his presentation of the gospel, because that's the order Scripture uses. I find that the Calvinists that follow the ontological order most often are those who are paying more attention to theology books which discuss both orders anyway than the actual order of presentation in Scripture. A person may, the back of his head understand the ontological order, but that doesn't mean that he lives by that order as if it he has access to it for each and every individual, nor does he need to be compelled to "get out the message," every time he puts his fingers on the keyboard.

One of the reasons, of course, that some Calvinists are sensitive about this, I realize, is that they've heard this sort of thing from sloppy theologians all their lives in these pragmatic, functionally Pelagian churches that, I might add, my Wesleyan Arminian friends find as repulsive as we do. There's a danger in imputing the statements issued from those pulpits to the pulpits of everybody else. You have to consider the source and the context.

Likewise, they tend to do a lot of defending of passages like 1 Timothy 2:4. In fact, in the history of theology on this issue, that's been discussed over and over, and the Augustinians have generally answered in the same way. Questions about the antecdent and consequent wills of God in Aquinas were then modified in Reformed theology into what many "low Calvinists" and, as a general rule some Infralapsarians (but not all), like John Murray, interpreted as God's sovereign decree and preceptive will. As Richard Muller notes, in Aquinas, these aren't the same ideas, but Reformed theologians modified the general idea in Aquinas, and this is why, today, this crops up. As responses go, then, appealing to this distinction finds its terminus in Scholastic tradition, not so much further back. So, the point I'm making is that, even in Reformed polemics, there's some tradition involved in the way these texts are handled.

I find myself often pointing to these texts and agreeing with the more restrictive "universality of kinds," or in , the restriction to the elect/believers, because the dual will concept is not there in those text, and these ideas make more sense of the text. However, as John H has noted, is a text that could not be more explicit. There is a sense in which God does not "want" any sinner to go to hell. You can take that statement in a more Pelagian direction, or you can so bury it under a mountain of discussion about the scope of election that you lose it and become a hyper-Calvinist.

I'd also say that Arminians are the ones being inconsistent here too, for they pray for God to change hearts all the time. I never really hear them saying, "Lord, do everything you can to say so and so, except don't violate their 'free will.'" Ergo, from my perspective, it's generally the Arminian (meaning anybody that includes libertarian action theory as an integral part of their soteriology) that is inconsistent. It's hard to see how, for example, doctrines like particular redemption, are "less evangelistic," since, in Arminian theology all, some, or none might believe. In Calvinism the result is 100 percent assured and there is no 'failure.' Men are told to order their lives according to God's commands and not according to their subjective sense of His secret, sovereign decrees.

It's also rather interesting to note that the tendency of those who get these subjective leadings are, in fact, falling into this same trap. There is no real difference between the hyper-Calvinist preacher that teaches his hearers that they must find a subjective "warrant to believe" and that of Joe preacher who tells his people to find "the dot" when making decisions about their daily lives by lining up the Bible, prayer, signs, etc. These activities turn on the same principle. I think that's of much greater concern than getting the exact ontological order of things right (or not).

centuri0n said...

Somehow, nobody has said anything about the very smooth "God of Precious Moments" line. I'm a little put off by that -- that's a good line.

Mike-e said...

Great post Frank. Even the most staunch Calvinist at times is tempted to become inconsistent in his evangelism and go the "God loves you and doesn't want you to go to hell" route. That's why I appreciate your reminder as to what the gospel really is.

SJ Camp said...

Dear Frank:

The video was a "God of Precious Moments" - and yes, you gave us all a great line. (Do you have a pic or graphic to go with it?)

First of all, I agree with you that the "hell" quote in context can be understood as you have rightly explained it.

But, my problem with the video is that it presents the gospel in these romantic tones and language. "God is crazy about you..."; "Its like the whole universe is proposing to you..." it's the whole "fall in love with Jesus".

He also presented that God wants to save you, He doesn't want to punish you, He loves you, He wants to forgive you, but He's waiting for you to accept Him. Again, this reduces God to being a spectator in the saving of souls. God, as pastor Chan presented Him, is the groom at the altar waiting for the bride to come... IOW, it's up to us--God is the divine Lover and is wanting to marry us, but is powerless to save unless we make the move and choose Him or accept Him.

The emphasis to the listener seems to be "how could you reject such an amazing God who has done all this cool stuff for you and loves you so much" with no mention at all that unregenerate people are completely dead in their trespasses and sins. He came close when speaking of God's laws; but simply left it to "we've broken them" God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life if you accept Him.

The cross was not first and foremost about us and our sin, it was about God and His holiness being satisfied (Rom. 3:21-26). Remember the song "We Are the Reason" or even more currently, "Above All"? In AA Smitty gives this punchline at the end by saying, "He took the fall, and thought of me above all." That just is not true (Eph. 1:4-14). This makes man the focus of the song--the focus of the cross rather than the Lord Himself. He should have said, "He took it all, and honored God above all." Now it is all about Him and not about us. Remaining Christocentric in evangelism is very difficult in today's evangelical culture.

In our passion to proclaim His gospel and see others respond in repentance by grace through faith in salvation, we must fight, even in its proclamation, to not make God out to be some passive Lover of our souls.

While Chan says some good things here this is clearly an Arminian approach to evangelism.

When I present the gospel to gatherings of almost completely nonChristians (especially in prisons), they appreciate it not being watered down or dumbed-down to a touchy feely "God is the groom... let's get married" as Chan has done. We need to be in the marketplace heralding the gospel of grace fearlessly and unashamedly. But let's not succumb to romanticizing the truth.

If you read Edwards, Whitefield, etc. the great evangelists (or as presented in Romans or the Gospels) we don't find a sensual appeal being made--ever.

I appreciate your enthusiasm for the gospel--it is much needed in reformed circles. But this video isn't the answer; it's part of the problem. IMHO, it was a huge emotional appeal that God is waiting for you to decide the fate of your eternal destiny.

centuri0n said...

Campi --

I knew you'd say that.

Mark said...

OK, Cent, I'll bite...

I thought your Precious Moments line sucked...

There, now someone's commented on it. ;) JK'ing.

You know I luv you for your wit, not your Calvinism.

centuri0n said...

Sorry -- this new blogger thing has me a little out of sorts.

Campi, I knew you'd say that, and I have a series of questions for you:

[1]Does God love sinners?

[2]How do we know the answer to that question? That is, by what evidence do we know the answer to that question?

[3]Is it wrong to tell sinners the answer to that question?

Particular redemption is not at stake here; penal substitutionary atonement is not at stake here; the exclusivity of Christ is not at stake here. What is at stake is the character of God.

Yes: God is Holy and Just and also Merciful. But does He do all that -only- for His own sake, or does He do it in order that we can in some way experience those things? If it is the former, then our response to the Gospel is metaphysically irrelevant: God is glorified by both the saved and the damned, and we will be in one of those groups, and blessed is the name of the Lord.

But think on this: Christ died for our sins, Steve. That is the Gospel. What brings us to God is a multi-faceted fact of good news. Yes: God is glorified. Yes: the highest purpose of the Cross is the Glory of God. But the immediate purpose of the cross is the saving of sinners.

Paul thought so at pentecost: his plea to the Jews who heard his preaching, and who knew they were guilty of sin, was that if they repent and are baptized, they would receive forgiveness. And his exhortation was to save themselves from this crooked generation.

But if "from" that, then "to" what?

You know I reject the "Jesus is my boyfriend" view of "praise and worship". I think it stinks -- but that's because it ignores the gross consequences of sin in favor of sentimentalism. What Chan has done in this video is not just an appeal to one's emotions -- though I admit he has done that. He has made an appeal which is the same in class as the Way of the Master, but instead of leveraging an argument (which is what WOTM is: it's winning an argument), he leverages the human need to be loved.

Why is it wrong to leverage that if the message of the consequences of sin are clearly in view? Why is it wrong to tell people, "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us," and God shows His love for us in this way?

Jesus loves, Steve! And the size of Jesus' love is the size of the price He paid for sin. God is glorified to show that much Love -- and He doesn;t just show it in a museum: He shows it to us.

To Us.

Why is it wrong to phrase what God has done as an act of love when that is a clear and unavoidable message in Scripture?

It is a cause to rejoice -- not just inwardly, but as we deliver this message. Sinners ought to know that the wages of sin is death, but death is swallowed up in victory. It is Good news.

centuri0n said...

Oh brother: Peter thought that at pentecost. Paul was making a pile of rocks to throw at peter at Pentecost. Sorry for the Typo.

centuri0n said...

Mark:

You have that pink PM Bible, don't you? You people are the ones we should be contending with -- you make the Pomos look serious a rational.

centuri0n said...

Last thing before I go home from work:

[1] Bill -- most people can't look me in the eye because it's like looking into two black, burning coals of holy justice. Believe it or not, I got told that on a job interview once. I think the guy was trying to break my concetration -- I just stared at him.

The eyebrow thing is simply my way of telling people to take it down a notch.

[2] BHT Readers: I consider Campi a friend in an extended way, and if you construe this discussion in any other way, you are only demonstrating what kind of people you are, not what kind of people we are.

[3] Today is a landmark day: I have found myself agreeing with both Dave Armstrong and iMonk, but on vastly different topics. Fortunately, I was able to call DA a "dope" and not have to have too many conscience pangs, but I think that somehow iMonk is not going to get the same treatment on this one.

I can call him a "dope" if it will make your weekend, but check with him to make sure he doesn't have any family plans I'll be spoiling before I pull that one out.

Let's take a poll: should I call iMonk a dope? Cast your votes here; polls close at 6 PM PT.

[Bill: I got the eyebrow workin'. tell Matthew this one's for him]

centuri0n said...

See?

Sharon said...

OT:

Many of you know Dr.Al Mohler, President of Southern Seminary. One of his trustees just called Grace Church to ask for immediate prayer as he was rushed to ICU with pulmonary embolism (one or more blood clots of arteries to the lung) in both lungs. This could be fatal and they are asking God's people to fervently pray.

Please join them.

Mark said...

"You have that pink PM Bible, don't you?"

Looks like I've been 'outted'. Yes, I keep my pink precious moments bible on the mantle, right under my signed Thomas Kincade 'Secret Cottage' limited edition print.

Curse you Cent, Curse you!

Steven, said...

Well, Frank. Here's my two cents, but who am I?

I have never called myself a "Calvinist". I think it gives people who I am around most often ( and don't know any better) the impression that some guy named Calvin "made up" a buncha stuff about Jesus. I do however, subscribe to the monergistic view. I hold to a reformed view of soteriology- because thats what the Bible clearly teaches.

Having said that, I have no problem with either Pastor Chan's video or your article. i find it to be balanced. I agree.

If we really believe that God's grace enables people to respond to the Gospel message, than we can be confident that if we preach as the Apostles, then the elect will respond.

We can also be sure that tares will sprout with the Wheat, no matter what we do to prevent it. Don't worry, I have confidence in Him who works in us that He will know.

We should always strive to be clear and use as much Truth as we can.

I felt Will Metzger's "Tell The Truth" did a profound job of explaining proper evangelism.

I dunno. I am no expert, and still learning.

Seth McBee said...

Good post and great reminders

Lou Martuneac said...

Frank,

You wrote,

Now, the Calvinist makes the following point: ‘us’ is not everybody – ‘us’ is a particular group, which the Bible calls ‘the elect’. In that, Christ died for the sins of the elect. The intention of the Cross is for the elect.”

The position you are esposuing here is Calvinism’s Limited Atonement. A few weeks ago I pulled a defintion of Calvinism’s Limited Atonement from a web site, but I can’t recall the site address (sorry). Here is that definiton.

“Christ's redeeming work was intended to save the elect only and actually secured salvation for them. His death was substitutionary endurance of the penalty of sin in the place of certain specified sinners.”

I trust that is a definition you can agree with.

In discussions on the Lordship Salvation controversy I have already stated that I reject all five points of T-U-L-I-P as I understand them. This one, (limited atonement) however, I find the most disturbing.

I am familiar with a number of men who are Calvinistic in their theology, and the limited atonement makes many of them squirm.

Calvinism’s Limited Atonement says that Christ died only for the elect; Christ's death was only for those He elected and ordained to go to Heaven. A limited atonement means the shed blood of Jesus and His atoning death is not “for the sins of the whole world.”

And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)

In the following verse (Isaiah 53:6) you read the word. “all.” It appears twice: once at the beginning and at the end of the verse.

The first appearance speaks to the fact of universal sin. All mankind is lost and in sin. The second appearance speaks to the fact of the sins of the whole world were laid on Christ. Jesus Christ bore and died for the sins of the whole world.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)

His atoning death was not a limited act. His salvation is available to all, but only imparted to those who receive Him by faith.

More than any of the other five points of Calvinism this one disregards Scriptures that plainly contradict a limited atonement.

LM

www.indefenseofthegospel.blogspot.com

SB said...

Solid Frank...Solid all around

BTW

It seems both Piper and Chan did a good job at Passion 07

here are some links:

From Worship.com links to free streaming video of Piper Chan Moore and Giglio's messages(-hurry becuase the videos will only be up for a few more hours).

Todd Bolen(Master's College(John MacArthur is the president)professor and alumnus commenting about Francis Chan with other TMC alumni.

A missions minded bro who was at the conference.

SB said...


some comments I made on Chan & the offending video from December & link to the Passion07 podcast(interviews of John Piper & Francis Chan).

Phil Johnson said...

In case anyone's wondering, Frank raised this issue (of God's attitude toward the reprobate and the nature of His entreaty toward those He will ultimately condemn) without asking what I thought of it. Perhaps Frank simply knew me well enough to know my opinion, though I don't recall that we have ever talked about it.

But for the record, I agree with Frank completely. And I think it's both ironic and significant that we have Arminians and Calvinists attacking Frank's position with equal fervor. One side excoriates him for believing in substitutionary atonement, and people at the opposite end of the spectrum accuse him of making God into a Precious Moments figurine. In and of itself, the fact that he's getting attacked from both sides with contradictory accusations is not conclusive proof of anything, but it may be a sign Frank's achieved a kind of balance here.

For the Calvinists who have trouble with the concept that God would in any sense have goodwill towards those He intends to damn; that He would express any form of "love" toward them, namely through a well-meant and bona fide plea for their repentance; or that He would want us likewise to plead with sinners indiscriminately to be reconciled with their God—here's my reading assignment for the weekend. It's from an author whose credentials as a Calvinist are impeccable. I think he nails an important issue that far too many late-20th-century Calvinists have utterly lost sight of.

And for the Arminians who think substitutionary atonement is the root of all evil, take your pick of any article on this page. When you have an argument better and more biblical than "substitutionary atonement makes people cringe," come back and we'll talk.

Lou Martuneac said...

Phil:

May I remind you that I referred to a "limited atonement."

Which parts of 1 John 2:2 and Isaiah 53:6 are, as you seem to suggest, not enough of a "biblical argument?"

LM

JSB said...

"Cast not away this confidence which hath great recompense of reward; or if you have not yet begun to place this confidence in the assurances of the gospel, lay hold of them now—they are addressed to each and to all of you. It is not a vague generality of which I am speaking. Let every man amongst you take up with Christ, and trust in Him for yourself."

Thanks for that Chalmers piece, Phil. That's the way it should be done, an example for us all.

Phil Johnson said...

Lou: "May I remind you that I referred to a 'limited atonement.'"

May I remind you that you yourself defined that term (correctly) this way:

"Christ's redeeming work was intended to save the elect only and actually secured salvation for them. His death was substitutionary endurance of the penalty of sin in the place of certain specified sinners."

Lou: "Which parts of 1 John 2:2 and Isaiah 53:6 are, as you seem to suggest, not enough of a 'biblical argument?'"

Those are Bible verses. An "argument" would involve taking the propositions those verses declare and explaining clearly and convincingly why they are necessarily inconsistent with the above definition. Since I have cited those very same verses to demonstrate the truth of particular atonement, quoting such a verse and misinterpreting it doesn't really work as an "argument" for your side in my mind.

(Repeating the easily-disproved and oft-refuted Arminian mantra of "All means all" doesn't really count as a cogent arument in the context of this blog. We've covered that ground too many times in the past, starting here, a post I wrote within my frst month in the blogosphere.)

But, technically, this post isn't the place to take up that issue. Frank himself said this about the extent-of-the-atonement question: "that's an argument which I am not going to take up here." So you and I should not hijack his thread.

I'll tell you what: You do the reading assignment, and I'll make a post sometime in the near future whose meta can be devoted to the extent-of-the-atonement issue, K?

Gummby said...

I'm just glad to see Frank use the phrase "jump the shark."

Lou Martuneac said...

Phil:

I read your post from the first month in the blogosphere. I’ll reply here and drop it so there is no perceived hijack of the thread.

If there is a misrepresentation of Scripture, it is not mine. The misrepresentation is due to the Calvinists rationalistic, fatalistic approach to the Bible.

The Calvinist embraces a rationalistic fatalism rather than biblical faith in his approach to his theology. This is how he arrives at the conclusions found in Calvinism.

Rationalistic fatalism is understandable in light of dictionary usage. According to Franklin's Dictionary & Thesaurus, “rationalistic” is literally: “reliance on reason as the basis for the establishment of religious truth,” and “fatalism” is the “belief that fate determines events.” Of course “fate” is a cause beyond human control to determine.

Looking at the statement in this light demonstrates that those referred to rely on reason rather than revelation as the basis for their theological moorings. The “circle logic” of five-point Calvinism is just that for the whole system crumbles when a single link in the chain is broken. One must approach the system with reason rather than faith.

This of course leads to the fatalism just mentioned, which holds that God has predetermined the destiny of human souls and that all the witnessing, praying, and missionary effort in the world will not change the outcome.

A limited atonement is a broken link in the “circle logic” of Calvinism.

LM

goodnightsafehome said...

Why is it that some professing Calvinism seem to be more interested in keeping the non elect out than gathering the true elect in?

JSB said...

We have a radio talk show host out in L.A. named Dennis Prager, whose refrain is that he prefers clarity over agreement. A great sentiment for those interested in real debate and not just drum beating. Thus, it would behoove the "sides" to truly understand each other. I would urge Calvinists to thoughtfully read Roger Olson's new book, Arminian Theology, as it clears up several misconceptions that are sometimes held as settled dogma (e.g., Arminians can't believe in substitutionary atonement). For a systematic work, I highly recommend Jack Cottrell's The Faith Once for All.

Heavy Calvinist tomes abound, but for popular treatment I've looked to Grudem, Edwin Palmer and R. C. Sproul. Phil, would you say these are good representatives? If you have some specific differences with them, that might be good fodder for a future post, bringing in more of that good clarity stuff.

donsands said...

goodnight,

All the Reformed/Calvinists I know are not like that.

Not all Christains, be they Reformed, or Non-Reformed, are genuine Christains.

I agree with Lou, that the five points fall if one point falls. And I believe all five points stand firm, and stand firm in the Holy Scriptures. Even limited atonement.

Sojourner said...

I hate it when Calvinists get all rational with the Bible.

Terry Rayburn said...

Much can be resolved here if we come above the "fog of technicality" to the One Whom the technicalities are about.

An honest observer will admit that myriads of people have come to Christ under the preaching of what we would loosely call The Gospel, as preached by Arminians.

And myriads of people have come to Christ under the preaching of what we would loosely call The Gospel, as preached by Calvinists.

The common factor is "Christ, and Him crucified" [and buried, and risen].

A secondary common factor is, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved."

Having said that, I would add:

1. Chan (and Frank) are right that God loves all to whom we may be preaching. If we leave out His love for all sinners, we are misrepresenting him.

2. Campi is right that God is not wringing His hands, desiring in His heart-of-hearts that all those will be saved (if He wanted *that*, He would, by God!, *have* it).

3. Preaching the Gospel ultimately means preaching Jesus Christ, it doesn't mean preaching the hearer. Hold Jesus up [and His death, burial and resurrection] and His sheep will hear His voice, and will flock to Him, with or without Arminian trappings (though I welcome the falling away of Arminian trappings for the simple sake of Truth).

4. Let's preach Him. As one evangelist once said, after being criticized in his methodology, "I prefer the way I'm DOING it to the way you're NOT doing it."

goodnightsafehome said...

Lou,

I know of a few of the hyper Calvinist variety (hence my wording "professing" Calvinism)They are forever dotting i's and stroking t's and attacking those whose preaching throws open the door of Heaven and bids all to enter in.

There is a very interesting book on the various controversies within Calvinism over the doctrine of "Limited Atonement" in the Welsh scene published by the Banner of Truth. It deals with how to preach the Cross and the free offer etc.,
I remember one illustration of men entreating those who had been trapped underground and were now afraid to venture further. You don't have to say to them: "There's fresh air up here if you will breathe it." You just have to say "There's fresh air up here." Lloyd Jones highly recommended the book which has only recently been translated out of the Welsh. Good solid stuff.

Doulos said...

No comments on the video as I haven't watched it. I have to agree with the gist of the post, though. As one who is throughly Reformed in my theology (avoiding the Calvinist label for reasons that can be clearly seen in this thred of comments) I wholeheartedly concur with particular redemption and the elect. However, this is actually an encouragement to evangelism, at least evangelism rightly understood as proclaiming the Gospel of Christ, to any and all and leaving the results to God. Either to bring to repentance and faith in Christ, or to harden for judgment. It's not about me and my doctrine, it's not about them and their "decision" or "acceptance", it's all about God and His sovereign grace.

Doulos

mjbeasley said...

I would suggest that two things should be kept in mind here - 1st, the only infallible Gospel presentations to be found are those that are in God's Word. All others must stand in line after the standard of God's perfect revelation. Second, the pattern of Gospel preaching in the NT shows us that there is a need to proclaim truth with some understanding of the audience itself. When the Apostles preached to Jewish audiences, their messages were much more theologically direct (e.g. Acts 2, 3, 4, 7, 13) than when they preached to the Gentiles (Acts 10, 14, 17). It was the same Christ-centered Gospel, but presented according to the theological knowledge, or ignorance, of the audience. In fact, all of these Gospel presentations have their distinctions, but they are all directed to the target of Christ and Him crucified for our sins. With this in mind, the video certainly isn't Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards. But we ought to keep in mind that Edwards had an audience of mostly unconverted religious people who needed to understand that the works-righteousness that they were holding on to so dearly would only sink them to everlasting hell. Edward's message carried more of the fire of Acts 2; but this video is more like the Basic Theology 101 as is presented in Acts 17 by the Apostle Paul to the Athenians. Acts 2 and 17 are both Gospel presentations (without compromise), but they were delivered to very different audiences. For most people in our day, who think that "The Gospel" is a musical genre, they need to hear a simple presentation like this video. Let's face it, there will be many people in our lives who will need us to walk with them in their "Mars hill" existence with a gradual, but faithful, presentation of truth.

The thing I can't get over, Frank, is that you posted in a bar.

Lou Martuneac said...

Terry:

”A secondary common factor is, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved’.”

Before I comment on what you call, “The Gospel as preached by Calvinists,” I will say that I reject the Mental Assent only type of gospel message.

The problem with the Calvinist's approach to the verse (Romans 10:9), in my experience, is typically finding the Lordship interpretation of the passage.

That means more than believing on the Lord is necessary to be born again. What is required is an upfront commitment to: surrender, submit, deny-self, cross bearing and following in “exchange” for salvation.

This then becomes a man-centered gospel, which corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3), and frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21).

You wrote, “The common factor is ‘Christ, and Him crucified’ [and buried, and risen].”

This passage (1 Cor. 15:1-4) defines the gospel: Jesus, God's Son, died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. This is the gospel message, which the Corinthians received from the Apostle Paul.

Please allow for a closing question. If, as the Calvinist contends, salvation is all of and by God, why then does the Lordship Calvinist condition salvation on a lost man's upfront commitment to “forsake himself” and “follow Jesus in submissive obedience?”

LM

centuri0n said...

Terry --

Campi's complaint is not that poor God can't save sinner: it is that extolling God's love is somehow a violation of the Gospel when it is presented to sinners.

There's no question: I'm ready to go to theological blows with anyone who wants to say, "You cast the deciding vote". But I am also willing to go to the theological mat with anyone who says that man does not willing receive the Gospel, and willing to take it outside with anyone who says that God doesn't love sinners.

Campi's view -- that telling sinners that God loves them is always a soft-soak -- simply under-appreciates the beauty of the Gopel. It's as if only the saved can appreciate such a thing and therefore we only talk about it amongst ourselves, and even then only if we duly abrogate the love we receive to the Glory which is due to God.

And look: I still will call him "Campi" (unless he objects). He's not an outcast for making this mistake -- and he's not the only one who makes this mistake. And its because we have adopted a view of evangelism that it must be a fight -- an apologetic argument. Apologetics is good -- but we are not called to only make a logical argument for Christ: we are called to preach the Gospel -- declare it. God's love is evident in the Gospel, and the fact of God's love for sinners does not change the matter of the horrible problem of sin.

centuri0n said...

Lou --

You have just earned yourself the opportunity to ask your question in the DebateBlog.

Let's make the topic "the definition of salvation in reformed theology", and I'll defend.

Lou Martuneac said...

Centurion:

Is this a good thing? Have I somehow arrived? ;-)

I am not familar with your blog. I'll have a look-see.

LM

Jerry Morningstar said...

A good book on this topic and in agreement with Frank's post is D. A. Carson's, 'The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God.'

He says, "If the love of God is exclusively portrayed as an inviting, yearning, sinner-seeking, rather lovesick passion, we may strengthen the hands of the arminians, semi pelagians, pelagians, and those more interested in God's inner emotional life than in His justice and glory, but the cost will be massive . . . at its worst [we] end up with a God so insipid He can neither intervene to save us nor deploy His chastening rod against us . . . If the love of God refers exclusively to his love for the elect, it is easy to drift toward a simple and absolute bifurcation: God loves the elect and hates the reprobate." [p. 22]

Lou Martuneac said...

I clicked on your DebateBlog link and it went nowhere. Can you give me a site address?

LM

Gummby said...

Lou: here's a working link.

Cent: new picture is cool. I guess I need an avatar upgrade. Can you help with that?

donsands said...

Excellent quote from Mr. D. A. Carson.

centuri0n said...

Gummby:

I have been saving this one for you, bro.

Terry Rayburn said...

Lou,

You wrote, "The problem with the Calvinist's approach to the verse (Romans 10:9), in my experience, is typically finding the Lordship interpretation of the passage. That means more than believing on the Lord is necessary to be born again."

First, it is a misrepresentation to say that Calvinism gives requirements to be born again. Most Calvinists, including myself, see the Scripture as teaching that regeneration (being born again) comes first, before faith, even if only a millisecond.

Frankly, I don't want to clutter up this Chan video discussion with that debate, but at least you should understand what we believe in that respect.

Since regeneration comes first -- along with a New Creation and a New Heart -- "believing in Jesus Christ" encompasses a totality that not only goes beyond mental assent, but includes recognizing and following Him as one's Lord and Savior. This is not a difficulty for the new-hearted believer, it is actually a joy, since the regenerate person now *loves* Jesus.

All this, of course, falls apart if regeneration is seen as coming *after* faith, a biblically unsupported view.

As Jesus told Nicodemus, unless a man is born again, he cannot even *see* the Kingdom of God (let alone believe in the King).

jerryb said...

DA Carons is interesting at John 3:16 in Pillar NTC, he says:

"...it is clear that it is atypical for John to speak of God's love for the world, but this truth is therefore made to stand out as all the more wonderful."
and
"God's love is to be admired, not because the world is so big, but because the world is so bad"

later he says that God loves the very world that is under His judgment. He calls it a "dual stance".

I like to put it this way, The world is under judicial wrath from God rather than emotional wrath. In this way God both loves and hates at the same time.

goodnightsafehome said...

John Bunyan's Calvinistic appeals to the lost:

"Don't let Jesus lose his longing, since it is for thy salvation, but come to him and live." (Author's preface to the Jerusalem Sinner Saved)

SJ Camp said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
SJ Camp said...

Frank, I am very sorry that it has taken some time to respond to your follow up comments—been a busy, but yet home focused weekend. Thanks for your patience. I am so sorry for the length of this comment, but I wanted to be faithful and honoring as possible with your words to me.

First of all, whatever my concerns were, were not meant to be directed to your article—but had to do with Chan’s movie presentation. Pastor Chan certainly did present some things well—. BUT I thought his overall delivery was still wrapped in some sort of romantic sentimentalism. It’s obvious he has a tremendous passion for lost people and heart desiring them to come to Christ. He seems to be a very loving and gracious brother. I would very much like to visit his church sometime—I am sure I would enjoy it and be ministered to in many ways. Per the video, if he didn’t live in Southern Cal and this was made from say the backdrop of Lake Michigan in Chicago; I am certain it would have had less romantic tones to it and more of an urgent biblical edge.

I also appreciate that Pastor Chan in his own church has the priority of a high view of God; the authority of God’s Word; and that we are to live out daily the two great commandments in very tangible, visible, and practical ways in our lives. That is refreshing to hear and I deeply respect him for the uncompromising stand he brings to the foundation for Cornerstone Community Church.

Now, on to your questions:

[1] Does God love sinners?
Yes. I am one—the chief of sinners; and He did/does love me.

Rom. 5:5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Rom. 5:6 ¶ For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Rom. 5:7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. Rom. 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

[2]How do we know the answer to that question? That is, by what evidence do we know the answer to that question?
By the authority and veracity of the Scriptures.

1Cor. 15:3 ¶ For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 1Cor. 15:4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

[3]Is it wrong to tell sinners the answer to that question?

I assume you mean the first question. No. But the answer must be given in the context of “for whom Christ died.” Otherwise it can be confusing to unregenerate people to hear what seems to be a duplicitous message of “God loves you, but you’re going to hell.” The gospel call does not begin biblically with telling sinners about the love of God. It begins with just the opposite; it begins by proclaiming to them the law of God, the reality of their sin and sinful state, and the certain doom that awaits them. I realize that “love” is the chief attribute of God being promoted today. I call it the Oprahfication of the church.

But in the book of Acts, the record of the unfolding of the early church and the spread of the gospel to both Jew and Gentile, the love of God is not mentioned one time. It was not the key hinge on which the gospel swung. In fact, the proclamation of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, sola fide, and repentance was the key hinge of the gospel call (Acts 2:35-41).

Particular redemption is not at stake here; penal substitutionary atonement is not at stake here; the exclusivity of Christ is not at stake here. What is at stake is the character of God.
What’s at stake here is the character and integrity of biblical evangelism.

Pastor Chan says, “…you gotta understand the whole message of the Bible is not about this God in heaven who wants to take from you, it’s about this God who wants to give to you. The fact that this Creator, the one made all this actually loves us and wants to give to us and if you miss out on that you’re gonna miss the whole point of your life.”

That's imbalanced and just isn't true...

He then makes the point: that the reason God gave us the Ten Commandments is that if we don’t steal or murder this would be a much better place for us to live. Is that really the chief purpose of the law—to make this world a better place? Or, is it to reveal that this is what pleases God and to measure man’s complete inability or depravity within himself to keep those laws and merit by his own righteousness eternal life? Sometimes while watching this very well made video, I felt like I should sing: “We are the world, we are the children; we are the ones who make a brighter day so lets start giving.” ☺.

He also makes this claim, “Listen, if you haven’t heard a single thing I’ve said this whole time you’ve gotta hear this, despite everything you’ve done in your life, God still loves you and doesn’t want to punish you…”

Is that true Frank? God really doesn’t want to punish us? Of course not. This is the “sloppy agape” that is being presented. He could have said, “God does want to punish us, His wrath abides on us, He is angry with the sinner every day, and there is nothing we can do about it—we cannot save ourselves. His holiness and justice demands our punishment; His law requires it; BUT, God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were sinners Christ died for us…” Otherwise, God is presented as a one-attribute Deity by love alone – I would call this “the gospel according to Barry Manilow.”

Yes: God is Holy and Just and also Merciful. But does He do all that -only- for His own sake, or does He do it in order that we can in some way experience those things? If it is the former, then our response to the Gospel is metaphysically irrelevant: God is glorified by both the saved and the damned, and we will be in one of those groups, and blessed is the name of the Lord.
Again, the primary purpose and praise of the cross is for His sake; we are the secondary thought (Eph. 4:4-14).

Your last statement is true… if taken in isolation.
Rom. 9:20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Rom. 9:21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? Rom. 9:22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? Rom. 9:23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, Rom. 9:24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.”

Our experience to that reality is secondary; it is not irrelevant—but it is not primary; it is only a matter of grace first granted to the believer in Christ as I know you would also believe. IOW, regeneration must precede faith in salvation. It is all of God—all of grace; and our response is simply the visible sign of His already working within those whom the Father has drawn, the Spirit regenerated and Christ has redeemed (1 Cor. 12:3). This is precisely where his whole marriage analogy breaks down in regards to the gospel call and salvation. Marriage between a man and a woman is a dual covenant. Both are equal; both must vow; both must say “I Do.” Scripture uses the marriage model to describe our life in Christ and relationship with Christ (Eph. 5:22-26) but not in the gospel call of salvation. We don’t bring anything to our salvation “accept the sin that makes it necessary” (Edwards). We are not dressed in white when we come to Christ--we are not spiritual, chaste virgins. We are sinners and by nature children of wrath. We are not lovely, but sinful and depraved.

I know that Chan is not a semi-Pelagist or a closet Romanist (God does His part, we do our part and voila… we have a Christian). The whole point of the gospel is that “…He saved us…” There is no cooperation in that divine sovereign work between God and man in salvation. Sanctification is another thing altogether—but none in salvation.

I’m glad that Chan didn’t ask everyone at the end of the video to raise their surfboards and catch a wave of faith if you want to accept Christ as your personal Savior. ☺.

But think on this: Christ died for our sins, Steve. That is the Gospel. What brings us to God is a multi-faceted fact of good news. Yes: God is glorified. Yes: the highest purpose of the Cross is the Glory of God. But the immediate purpose of the cross is the saving of sinners.
I almost totally agree Frank. The highest purpose of the cross is not only the glory of God, but the satisfaction of God—propitiation. God had to be satisfied, before He could save me, before He could really love me. The love of God is not this arbitrary thing; it is reserved for His own. It is not casual, nor general. The love of God is inextricably inseparable from the cross of Christ. BUT, as you rightly assert, the primacy of the cross was that Christ died for God (Roms. 3:24-25)—and we are the benefactors of the cross; not the primary reason for the cross.

Chan’s video didn’t bring that tension of those biblical truths to light in his production. Again, I thought there were some positives to his video. I guess I didn’t see this short-film as instrumental, essential or as weighty as you did.

Paul thought so at Pentecost: his plea to the Jews who heard his preaching, and who knew they were guilty of sin, was that if they repent and are baptized, they would receive forgiveness. And his exhortation was to save themselves from this crooked generation.
That is the essence of the promise of the call; not the complete essence of the atonement. I just don’t think Chan went far enough. And notice in those verses you quoted from, the love of God was not the issue nor mentioned. It was the dual emphasis of repentance and forgiveness. It would have been nice to hear him drive whatever audience he is directing this video to back to the authority of Scripture in his romantic surfboard appeal. Balance.

You know I reject the "Jesus is my boyfriend" view of "praise and worship". I think it stinks -- but that's because it ignores the gross consequences of sin in favor of sentimentalism.
I know that and agree completely with you. Please forgive me if you thought in anyway whatsoever I implied the contrary. I am with you brother.

What Chan has done in this video is not just an appeal to one's emotions -- though I admit he has done that. He has made an appeal which is the same in class as the Way of the Master, but instead of leveraging an argument (which is what WOTM is: it's winning an argument), he leverages the human need to be loved.
I think the greatest human need is not to be loved; but to be forgiven which is the greatest expression of love. That’s the difference. He’s leveraging the wrong thing biblically, but is leveraging that which pushes all the key buttons. He’s tapping into the emotional need for love, not the cognitive need to be forgiven of our sins. BTW, he referred to sin as “messing up.” In his quest to relate, I think he toned down the nomenclature unnecessarily. Biblical love is not unconditional: it is unfailing, unmerited, undeserved, unreciprocated, and self-sacrificial—but not unconditional. AND, it is not conditioned upon a response—it is not an emotion. God demonstrated His love for me in that Christ died for sinners. His love is not conditioned by my response, but by His sovereign action. My response is only generated by His grace. Faith is a gift—not a product of my own will.

BTW, I like some of the WOTM material—but I’ve never heard them present sola fide—justification by faith—once in their gospel call. I know that you would agree that the biblical use of the law is not to present pedestrians a 30 second spiritual pop-quiz. It is to bring conviction upon the soul; that as sinners we continually fall short of God’s holy appraisal of our lives (Roms. 3:23) then to be followed by the balm of sola gratia found only in the sinless life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Here’s my greatest concern about this movie: Chan never once brought up and explained the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. And as you know, without the resurrection you have no gospel and all our preaching (and videos) are in vain. 1Cor. 15:13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 1Cor. 15:14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain..

Why is it wrong to leverage that if the message of the consequences of sin are clearly in view? Why is it wrong to tell people, "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us," and God shows His love for us in this way?
Because 1. he never said that and 2. love is not the primary essence of the gospel; it is the primary motivation of the gospel. It can, if left unbalanced and unexplained, muster false hope to the nonelect. As one nonbeliever told me after I proclaimed the gospel to 7,000 gays, lesbians, transsexuals and transvestites at a World AIDS Day concert in Oakland, CA, “if God already loves me, then I must be OK; how am I in need of anything more? How could God at the same time let me go to hell if He really loves me?” That is the logical conclusion that many unsaved people come to. I like how Jonathan Edwards approached this (whom I know you deeply appreciate as well) when he called his powerful sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. Why didn’t Edwards simply call it: “Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God?” We must include in any gospel presentation and call of repentance for the forgiveness of sin with His holiness, justice, wrath and the depravity of man and make the total life and ministry of Jesus Christ the object of that call.

Jesus loves, Steve! And the size of Jesus' love is the size of the price He paid for sin. God is glorified to show that much Love -- and He doesn’t just show it in a museum: He shows it to us.
No argument there and I am eternally grateful that He loves me for I deserve nothing but to be sanctioned to a living hell forever and ever in unmitigated fury and gall.

Luke 24:46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, Luke 24:47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

I love you man. You are always a blessing in my life and a challenge to my thinking, which I need and appreciate greatly. Thank you for your questions and thoughts and a chance to respond. I don’t know if my answers were as adequate as what you presented.

Stephanus Campius
2 Cor. 4:5-7

Lou Martuneac said...

Terry:

I'll have more for you tomorrow. For now: You wrote,

"First, it is a misrepresentation to say that Calvinism gives requirements to be born again. Most Calvinists, including myself, see the Scripture as teaching that regeneration (being born again) comes first, before faith, even if only a millisecond."

1) It is not a misrepresentation and I can demonstrate this from the writing of men who hold to LS.

2) I am aware that Calvinists believe regeneration must precede faith. I have written on this. Please visit my blog and read these two articles:

Impossible Decision
Lordship's Out of Order Salvation

Maybe we should move our discussion of this narrow topic there.

I did leave this question for you in my post above:

If, as the Calvinist contends, salvation is all of and by God, why then does the Lordship Calvinist condition salvation on a lost man's upfront commitment to “forsake himself” and “follow Jesus in submissive obedience?”

Those quotations are from a Calvinist/Lordship advocate who requires those things to be born again.

LM

centuri0n said...

Steve:

I'm putting on my armor to go to a Baptist business meeting tonight. I'm sure that'll put me in the right frame of mind to re-read your answer here and reply.

If not, I'll be back in the morning sometime to add a few things.

Antonio said...

Frank says:

"The offer is real"

What is the offer, Frank?

How is it real?

“Paul teaches us that the ruin of the wicked is not only foreseen by the Lord, but also ordained by his counsel and his will... not only the destruction of the wicked is foreknown, but that the wicked themselves have been created for this very end -- that they may perish” (Commentaries Romans 9:18)

“... he arranges all things by his sovereign counsel in such a way that individuals are born, who are doomed from the womb to certain death, and are to glorify him by their destruction...God ... arranges and disposes of them at his pleasure... all events take place by his sovereign appointment” (Institutes III, xxiii, 6)

What is an offer?

My dictionary gives this as a definition of the verb:

"to present for acceptance or rejection"

What is 'real'?

My dictionary gives this:

"true; not merely ostensible, nominal, or apparent"

Is the Calvinist 'gospel' a real offer for everyone?

I would argue that it is a real offer to not a single soul (note the use of that word soul, denoting the temporal person).

The reprobate:

Christ did not die for him. God chose him for hell.

What can be offered him? How is your Calvinist message a 'real offer' to him?

Only in the realm of that fantastical deductionistic theological framework called "Calvinism" could one attempt to say with a straight face that a 'real offer' is given to the reprobate.

Does God wish to give a 'real offer' to those who are 'doomed from the womb' unto destruction, apart from any consideration of them whatsoever? There is no offer to the reprobate. His fate was sealed in the counsels of God's all-encompassing decree.

There is no offer to the elect:

The elect have salvation sovereignly imposed upon them. They are deaf, dead, and blind until God sovereignly imposes His 'grace' upon them, regenerating them.

Were the offered anything? They didn't even have ears to hear!

By the time they can hear, they don't have a choice, in that they, apart from any desire whatsoever (actually they desired to stay in their sins and rebel against God, right?) they were regenerated.

No offer here. Just the whim of a God who thinks he will be glorified by creating people in order to populate hell and heaven.

Imagine the glory God receives, Frank:

To God be the glory for creating a sub-division of humanity He made for the express purpose and pleasure of torturing in hell forever!

Such a notion inspires praise on MY lips (I hope you sense the sarcasm).

Antonio da Rosa

Terry Rayburn said...

Campi wrote, "His love is not conditioned by my response, but by His sovereign action."

Steve,

His sovereign action (the Cross) is not a *condition* for His love. It is the *demonstration* of His love. As Romans 5:8 says "But God *demonstrates* His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

See how the love was there first, not needing a condition, but being the *cause* of the action of the Cross?

Blessings,
Terry

SJ Camp said...
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SJ Camp said...

Terry:

Good to hear you weigh on this...

What you said is not what I meant for you only quoted me in part which altered the meaning of my words--but what you concluded I do agree with.

You're confusing the two issues: 1. God's love was demonstrated through Christ on the cross for us (Roms. 5:8) (for which I completely agree) and did exist before the cross for His elect (Eph. 1:5); and 2. with thinking that His love is appropriated in my life or made effectual to me by my response to it (John 13:1).

Again, I fully agree that God's love does already exist for His own that He foreknew and chose before the foundation of the world - "in love He predestined us..." (Eph. 1:4-5); and "because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us". (Roms. 5:5). HIs love for me is not something that is conditioned upon my response to it--

But at the same time, God could not fully love me apart from the cross. Why? Because the cross was more than just a demonstration of His love; it was also the place that His justice was met; His law and righteousness fulfilled; the guilt of our sin expiated; and the wrath of God propitiated and whereby we are justified, and the perfect righteousness of Christ is imputed to us by faith (Roms. 3:21-26, Heb. 2:9-18; Roms. 5:21; Phil. 3:6-12). The cross was the righteousness of God put on display and the expression and evidence of God's love for His own (Roms. 3:24-25; 1 John 3:1) because Christ satisfied God in all things pertaining for the redemption of His elect (Heb. 2:17).

IOW, if Christ did not become our divine substitute and atonement satisfying God on behalf of the sins of the people, His love would never be realized in actuality. We cannot separate, dissect, or splice the love of God from the cross of Christ anymore we can His grace and mercy. If you do, you reduce His love to something that is humanly accommodating (God loves everybody the same, but only saves some that He loves with an extra special love), but is not divine (His love was shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us - Roms. 5:5).

And that love He has for His own elect vessels of mercy (Roms. 9:16-24) is by His own sovereign free will and realized in salvation as adopted sons in Christ (Eph. 1:4-5). "We love Him because He first loved us..." (1 John 4:19).

Gummby said...

Cool!

I wonder if this is how Batman feels every time he upgrades the Batmobile...

Gojira said...
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centuri0n said...

When Antonio answers the 23 examples of exegetical inconsistencies he has ofered regarding the use of "sozo" in the NT, I'll answer some more of his questions.

Lou Martuneac said...

Terry:

I don't know if you visited my site and read my articles on the regeneration before faith issue.

In any event, let's look at this statement.

"Regeneration is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit by which the divine nature and divine life are given (John 3:3–8; Titus 3:5). It is instantaneous and is accomplished solely by the power of the Holy Spirit through the instrumentality of the Word of God (John 5:24), when the repentant sinner, as enabled by the Holy Spirit, responds in faith to the divine provision of salvation."

In your opinion: Does this statement support regeneration preceding or following faith?

LM