16 January 2007

Just Stop and Think

by Phil Johnson



et me start by saying I'm amazed at the amount of debate, the level of rancor, and the degree of polarization over a 15-minute film that appears to have been around for more than a year.

Actually, some of the questions that have been raised in this discussion are good ones (and important, too). The discussion itself is by no means pointless.

But in my judgment (based mainly on what has been posted right here in the comments section of this blog), the way some of the various arguments are being set forth is an utterly fruitless approach to discussing differences between people who in fact do already agree on all the essential points of gospel truth.

Let me be specific about what troubles me. Some of the labeling we've seen (replete with fatuous references to Finney and Pelagianism) appears to be little more than thinly-disguised name-calling devoid of any cogent argumentation. Moreover, the rapid (and rabid) polarization on both sides is disturbing. Almost as soon as this issue was raised, two opposing squads took their respective sides, with people on both teams exaggerating their differences, overstating the importance of those differences, and hyperbolizing the egregiousness of the other side's "error." Some of the commenters here leapfrogged completely over the civilized exchange of opinions and went straight to DEFCON 1. Rhetoric of that type unwittingly and unnecessarily supports the prejudices of those who imagine that there's a sinister principle in Calvinism that automatically makes Calvinists harsh and cantankerous. (See here for more on that subject.)

Now, remember: I'm not opposed to vigorous disagreement, appropriate labeling, or even ridicule and sarcasm in contexts where such things are clearly warranted. Elijah did not sin by mocking the Baal-priests and their followers, and Paul was perfectly right to employ über-harsh language about the Judaizers (cf. Galatians 1:8-9; 5:12).

But Elijah was dealing with pagan priests and Paul was dealing with wolves in sheep's clothing. Surely we ought to deal differently with evangelical brethren when our chief complaint is that their Calvinism is short by a point or two, or that they neglected to make explicit mention of this or that truth in an evangelistic context—especially when it is clear that they have no obvious agenda to downplay any essential gospel doctrine and have in fact clearly affirmed the "missing" point somewhere else in the immediate context.



There's a lot that I'd like to say about the doctrinal issues under discussion in this conflict. And I'll probably devote a couple of follow-up posts to that. In the process, I hope to make one thing clear: Some of the questions raised in this discussion have no easy, obvious answers, and those who think otherwise usually lose their balance. I see three examples of that in this discussion:

  1. We have a few commenters who lean toward Arminian theology (or worse) and insist that God loves everyone just the same and with equal fervor, and whether anyone gets saved or not is ultimately beyond God's power to determine. They think He's done everything He can possibly do to save everyone, and now the choice is left up to each individual. Meanwhile, God is helpless to do anything other than beg sinners to make the right choice.
  2. Then we have some Calvinists who think it's obvious that God's only attitude toward those whom He did not elect unto salvation is pure and undiluted hatred. These people think anyone who speaks of divine "love" toward the reprobate are only pseudo-Calvinists, and are actually undermining the truth of the gospel itself.
  3. Then there's a third group: Calvinists of the very softest sort, who think anyone who denies that there's a redemptive intent in God's attitude toward the reprobate are hyper-Calvinists and utter miscreants who have a deliberate agenda to undermine the gospel in a totally different direction. Theirs is a minority opinion, perhaps, but their rhetoric is equally harsh and their position equally narrow.
I side with none of those views, and my position has in fact been either misinterpreted or misrepresented by all three sides at various times and in various ways.

But setting the doctrinal issues aside for the moment, this post will just address some more immediate issues, which are relatively trivial and easy to answer. Let me give my opinions under three headings:

1. Regarding Francis Chan and TMS

I don't know Francis Chan personally. Aside from having watched the video in question, I have had zero personal exposure to him or his preaching. In fact, the first time I saw the video, I didn't even realize whom I was watching. (Nothing on this page or in the video's opening sequence tells you anything about the person who is doing the talking.) I'd heard of Francis Chan, of course, because he pastors in Simi Valley, a short half hour from where I live and work. I have had a few friends involved with his ministry. For some reason, I envisioned him as an older man.

Pastor Chan has a fine reputation as a pastor and communicator. Everything I have ever heard about him from people who have worked with him and attended his church is completely positive. I know nothing about the nuances of his theological persuasion other than what I have gleaned from his website. His doctrinal stance seems to reflect substantial if not complete agreement with the doctrinal statement of the Master's Seminary. Although he is apparently not as rigorous in his Calvinism as I would be, that would be true of lots of men whom I nevertheless respect, including a few men who have been major influences in my life.

See: No matter what you may have heard about me from the dark side of the blogosphere, I have never anathematized anyone merely for being less Calvinistic than I am. In my assessment, the vital litmus test of whether someone is sound in the gospel or not is the question of whether he acknowledges Christ's righteousness as the sole and sufficient ground of justification rather than trying to fudge on the principle of sola fide or making something the sinner himself must do a part of the ground of final justification.

(Incidentally, by that measure, which I believe is biblical, one's view of imputation and penal substitution would be vital; but one's view of the extent of the atonement would be less so. That is precisely my perspective. More on that in a subsequent post, perhaps.)

Last week I was asked privately by an individual who is fairly new to the blog whether there is some kind of "political" pressure on me not to be critical of anyone who has earned a degree from The Master's Seminary. This guy wondered if I was trying to avoid jumping into the fray for that reason. My answer: Absolutely not. Anyone who reads the blog can see that I have never given TMS alums a free pass. If anything, some of my most forthright and vigorous polemical remarks have been aimed at some doctrinally freewheeling TMS graduates—especially a few who seem enthralled with certain currently-stylish flavors of epistemological skepticism.

But notice the disclaimer at the bottom of my original blog. It applies here at the group blog, too. I bear sole responsibility for what I post here. Some of my opinions on peripheral issues may not necessarily reflect the views of my pastor, my employer, my wife, my children, or my friends. Only my beagle, Wrigley, always agrees with me.

I should note that neither John MacArthur, the elders of Grace Church, nor anyone on the faculty at TMS has ever raised a peep of protest about anything I have posted on my blog, though I am certain virtually all of them could find things they would disagree with if they read the blog exhaustively. But even when we disagree, we respect one another's positions, and we grant one another the privilege of speaking candidly.

We do, however, emphatically agree on what is essential to the gospel.

2. Regarding the Video

As I said, when I first watched Francis Chan's video, I did not even realize I was watching Francis Chan. My initial reaction in the first two minutes or so was, Here we go again. This is a Nooma knockoff, and it's going nowhere. So my initial expectations were less than nil.

But when Pastor Chan began talking about God as Creator, the Ten Commandments, sin, the justice of punishment for sin, how Christ's atonement vicariously paid the penalty of others' sin, the holiness and wrath of God—and several other aspects of the gospel that are often denied or deliberately sidestepped nowadays—my perspective changed, and I came away with a much higher opinion of the video. Its production values are (to my eye) superb. Pastor Chan's delivery is engaging. His passion is infectious. And he said some things that did make me "stop and think." That's pretty much what Frank Turk said in his response to the video, so when I read Frank's comments about it, I wasn't the least bit surprised or puzzled. That's why I'm on Frank's side here. I think I understand what he was saying and why—and I do agree with him.

I likewise agreed with Dan Phillips's post-mortem on the original flap the other day. That (plus the fact that I really am busy) is why I haven't posted anything about it until now. I thought my teammates had already said everything that really needed to be said.

That doesn't mean I liked everything about the video. In all candor, there were some things in it that made me cringe. Most of these were essentially the same faults James White highlighted last week on his Webcast. In fact, I would pretty much agree with the objective content of most of the criticisms that have been leveled at the film.

But I'm embarrassed by the shrill tone and dismissive attitudes of some of the critics in our meta. Specifically, I think those who insist that the film's defects amount to a fatal and deliberate compromise of the gospel are pretty far over the top. Histrionics without an actual argument don't ordinarily sway me.

Anyway, while I understand and agree with some of the main points that have been made by both admirers and critics of the video, at the end of the day, if Pastor Chan's video hadn't become a matter of heated controversy in the blogosphere (with several persistent people practically demanding that I declare my opinion) I personally would not have singled the video out either for special praise or special criticism.

If I'd been handed the script to Pastor Chan's video before he filmed it and asked to give editorial input, I would have offered several significant suggestions. But of course, that's what I do all the time. It's the nature of being an editor. Rarely do I see anything I don't feel compelled to tweak just a little—including my own blogposts after I've posted them. (Sorry, Challies.)

So I won't list everything I might have changed about the video, because this post is running long already. But here are a couple of typical examples: I absolutely agree with whoever said the expression "God is crazy about you" is stunningly inappropriate. I also don't like some of the language and imagery the film uses to describe God's well-meant proposals of mercy to sinners. I especially think it bungles and confuses the point of the church as Christ's bride (and the Father's role in choosing and presenting the bride to His Son) by making God the Father sound like a desperate suitor seeking sinners' love for His own sake.

On the other hand, I strongly disagree with those critics who claim it is inappropriate ever to portray God as pleading with sinners for their repentance and reconciliation. (And I hope to follow up on that point in a future post.)

My point here, however, is that none of my complaints about the video would have warranted a major blogpost or a public protest about the film. I seriously think it's a stretch to accuse Francis Chan of denying any essential Christian doctrine or deliberately twisting the gospel.

In fact, I have a much higher opinion of the way Pastor Chan is doing evangelism than I have of the way some of his critics are neglecting it. Chan and his congregation, by all accounts, are actually reaching out to their community. Some of his critics seem to be focusing their ministries more and more to an increasingly narrow and theologically inbred audience—preaching more and more to the choir and saying less and less to a lost and needy world.

Dan Phillips said something to me about all this that I think is absolutely spot on: The sad thing is that whereas a lot of people might be prone to look at the natural and easy way Pastor Chan speaks to unbelievers about Christ—and think, I could do that; the feeding frenzy of overweening critics is likely to make them think the opposite.

3. Regarding the Proper Proclamation of the Gospel

I'm concerned about the increasing number of Calvinists in this generation who seem to bristle and balk whenever they hear someone speak of the love and compassion of God for all humanity. Some of them in effect seem to deny every aspect of God's love other than God's redemptive purpose for the elect alone. I think that's a serious mistake. (See yesterday's Spurgeon excerpt.)

Push that view too far, deny that God's indiscriminate pleas to sinners are well-meant, and you corrupt the gospel message just as badly as those who want to eliminate the wrath or righteousness of God from the message.

This, I think, is the most important question that has been raised in the flap over Francis Chan's video. I want to talk about it in some upcoming blogposts. In the meantime, let me give everyone a reading assignment that I think will be immensely helpful. Erroll Hulse wrote a wonderful book called The Great Invitation: Examining the Use of the Altar Call in Evangelism. In it, he discusses the question of whether it is ever appropriate to tell sinners indiscriminately that God loves them and wants them to repent and be reconciled to Him. It's a marvelously balanced approach to the whole question, from a Calvinist who is defending the doctrines of election, the sovereignty of God, and the inability of sinners to choose Christ unaided by God's grace. I commend it to you.

Audubon Press has the book for $12.99, which is a real bargain. Get it, read it, talk amongst yourselves, and we'll take up this issue in the days to come.

In the meantime, especially until everyone has taken time and given an honest and fair-minded reading of Hulse's book, please exercise some restraint in your comments in the meta here. I'm going to start automatically deleting comments that I think are pugnacious, unbalanced, unnecessarily accusatory, or otherwise out of line.

I realize some may not even agree with me about whether this issue is merely an intramural difference of opinion between brethren or a serious threat to the gospel. But I am the blog-boss here, so now that I have taken time to explain my position, you need to respect my conviction on this and bend over backward to be polite and gracious, or else your comments will be deleted.

Thanks.

Phil's signature

83 comments:

isaiah543 said...

Yay! I was so hoping this was where you were going.

Matthew said...

So with that out of the way, howzabout you take on Paedobaptism? ;)


...but seriously: great points, excellent post.

Steve said...

Superbly stated (and edited), from start to finish. You said what needed to be said.

Here's hoping the kids don't misbehave again and bring the bus to a screeching halt.

Steve said...

Oh, and the Headline news graphic sums up the recent rancor perfectly. You could've been a political cartoonist.

YnottonY said...

Hi Phil,

I've been meaning to make sure these quotes get into your hands for future reference. Here are two from Charles Spurgeon:

"Besides, it is no derogation for God to beseech His creatures. You say we make God beg to His creatures. Assuredly that is how the Lord represents Himself—“All day long have I stretched out My hands to a disobedient and gainsaying generation.”

Taken from Charles Spurgeon's sermon on 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 entitled "GOD BESEECHING SINNERS BY HIS MINISTERS"

This next one is more implicit, but he still says that the Lord is begging some to given him their hearts:

"Remember, wherever we speak about the power of grace we do not mean a physical force, but only such force as may be applied to free agents, and to responsible beings. The Lord begs you not to want to be crushed and pounded into repentance, nor whipped and spurred to holy living. But “My son, give me thine heart.” I have heard that the richest juice of the grape is that which comes with the slightest pressure at the first touch. Oh, to give God our freest love! You know the old proverb that one volunteer is worth two pressed men. We shall all be pressed men in a certain sense; but yet it is written, “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” May you be willing at once!"

The above is an excerpt from a sermon by C. H. Spurgeon on The Heart: A Gift for God

I also found this one from Samuel Rutherford, but I don't have the original to check the context:

"It is ordinary for man to beg from God, for we be but His beggars; but it is a miracle to see God beg at man. Yet here is the Potter begging from the clay; the Savior seeking from sinners!"

I found it online HERE

I enjoyed reading your post. I look forward to future installments :-)

Ebeth said...

Thanks, Phil, for both this and the Spurgeon selection.

candleman said...

Glad that you found the time to write this important piece to this controversy sooner rather than later. When I was deeply struggling with Calvinism, about a year and a half ago, I found a sermon of yours dated Oct. 23, 2005, entitled The Story of Calvinism:
A Historical Survey
, and it was comforting to hear you state that you struggled yourself with these issues for over 10 years before you have come to the conclusions you have. I have also found Dealing with Election another must have, available for whatever one can afford, from your ministry.

Also as an aside, for someone who may be struggling with the issue of Calvinism, my best advice to you is to devour .mp3’s, articles, books, and of course the Bible and the many passages found therein concerning these issues. Listen, read, and pray and God will honor your prayers and guide you to the understanding of the deep things of Gods word. Stay off the debate boards, they will get you nowhere, except to show you how quickly supposed brothers in Christ (on both sides of the issue) can turn on one another and engage in the most ridiculous divisiveness and rancor, as they tear each other to shreds. It is shameful, and a blight to our testimonies as Christians.

Go it alone, it the quietness of much prayer, Gods word, good source materials (from both sides of the isle) and God will lead you as you truly seek after the deep things of scripture.

{{{Candleman}}}

Andrew and Carolyn said...

Great stuff. If nothing else this whole debacle of recent days is forcing me to consider balance in my views.

A preacher I greatly respect once said 'there's a hyper-viper in every one of us'.

God bless you Phil for your carefully worded and biblically balanced caveat to all that has transpired in the comments. I trust that your tone will strike a keynote for all who discuss this subject here in coming days.

Douglas said...

Brothers and Sisters,

is this the same terrifying WRATH of God that Francis Chan briefly mentions in his gospel message, he uses the word “wrath” twice in his video but he fails miserably to expound upon the meaning of God’s wrath, he fails to explain why God is angry with the wicked every day, why God hates the workers of iniquity, why God is a consuming fire, why God cannot look upon sin? >>>>


The wrath of God

(Thomas Boston, "Human Nature in its Fourfold State")

"The wrath of God abides on him." John 3:36

1. The wrath of God is IRRESISTIBLE, there is no standing before it; "Who can stand in Your sight, when once You are angry?" Psalm 76:7. Can the worm or the moth defend itself against him who designs to crush it? Can the worm, man, stand before an angry God? Foolish men, indeed, bid a defiance against God; but the Lord often, even in this world, opens such sluices of wrath upon them, as all their might cannot stop--they are carried away thereby, as with a flood! How much more will it be so in hell!

2. The wrath of God is INSUPPORTABLE. What a man cannot resist, he will try to endure. But who shall dwell in devouring fire? Who shall dwell with everlasting burnings? God's wrath is a weight which will sink men into the lowest hell. It is a burden which no man can endure.

3. The wrath of God is UNAVOIDABLE to those who continue impenitently, and die in their sinful course. "He who, being often reproved, hardens his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed--and that without remedy!" Proverbs 29:1. We may now flee from it, indeed, by fleeing to Jesus Christ. But those who flee from Christ, will never be able to avoid it. Where can men flee from the avenging God? Where will they find a shelter? The hills will not bear them. The mountains will be deaf to their loudest supplications, when they cry to them to "hide them from the wrath of the Lamb."

4. The wrath of God is POWERFUL and FIERCE. "Who can comprehend the power of Your anger? Your wrath is as awesome as the fear You deserve." Psalm 90:11. We are apt to fear the wrath of man more than we ought; but no man can apprehend the wrath of God to be more dreadful than it really is. The power of God's wrath can never be known to the utmost; for it is infinite, and, properly speaking, has no utmost limit. However fierce it is, either on earth or in hell, God can still carry it farther. Everything in God is most perfect in its kind; and therefore no wrath is so fierce as His. O sinner! how will you be able to endure that wrath, which will tear you in pieces, Psalm 50:22, and grind you to powder! Luke 20:18.

5. The wrath of God is PENETRATING and PIERCING wrath. It is burning wrath, and fiery indignation. There is no pain more intense than that which is caused by fire; and no fire so piercing as the fire of God's indignation, which burns unto the lowest hell, Deut. 32:22. The arrows of men's wrath can pierce flesh, blood, and bones--but cannot reach the soul. But the wrath of God will sink into the soul, and so pierce a man in the most tender part.

6. The wrath of God is CONSTANT wrath, running parallel with the man's continuance in an unregenerate state; constantly attending him from the womb to the grave. There are few days so dark--but the sun sometimes looks out from under the clouds. But the wrath of God is an abiding cloud on the objects of it; John 3:36, "The wrath of God abides on him" who believes not.

7. The wrath of God is ETERNAL. O, miserable soul! if you flee not from this wrath unto Jesus Christ; though your misery had a beginning--yet it will never have an end! Should devouring death wholly swallow you up, and forever hold you fast in the grave--it would be kind. But your body must be reunited to your immortal soul, and live again, and never die; that you may be ever-dying, in the hands of the ever-living God. Death will quench the flame of man's wrath against us, if nothing else does. But God's wrath, when it has come on the sinner for millions of ages, will still be the wrath to come! Matt. 3:7; 1 Thess. 1:10. While God is, He will pursue the quarrel.

8. However dreadful it is, and though it is eternal--yet it is most JUST wrath! It is a clear fire, without the least smoke of injustice. The sea of wrath, raging with greatest fury against the sinner, is clear as crystal. The Judge of all the earth can do no wrong. "Is God unrighteous to inflict wrath? Absolutely not! Otherwise, how will God judge the world?" Romans 3:5, 6. The Judge being infinitely just--the sentence must be righteous. Therefore, stop your mouth, O proud sinner! Still your clamor against your righteous Judge!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath!" 1 Thessalonians 1:10

"For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ!" 1 Thessalonians 5:9

Martin Downes said...

Phil

It has been a pleasure to read this sane and thoughtful post this morning

centuri0n said...

Douglas:

At what point do you tell someone Jesus is teh savior from wrath? You know -- I just did a series at my own blog for Christmas about why Christmas is about the wrath of God. But at some point, you have to admit something: the Gospel is not only about wrath, but about what lengths God has gone to in order to spare men from wrath.

Your point is fine, I suppose. The problem is that your point is not the Gospel. The wrath of God is the reason we need the Gospel.

Kim said...

Excellent words. Thank you.

I love it when someone uses the word "egregious."

kerux said...

A good word, Phil. Thanks for addressing the issue.

Jeremy Weaver said...

Phil,
I have a bone of contention with something you said,

Only my beagle, Wrigley, always agrees with me.

Yet compare this to what you said over here.

Jeremy Weaver agrees (mostly) with Wrigley.

I've caught you in one now!

DJP said...

Douglas: I have this fundamental question for you.

Did you even read Phil's post before your cut and paste job? Or did you just have that saved in Notepad, waiting for the moratorium to be lifted?

Because now, it just looks foolish.

donsands said...

Very good post.

"there's a hyper-viper in everyone of us"

Yep. And yes we were once even "vipers-in-diapers", as the saying goes.

Candleman,

"stay off the debate boards, they will get you nowhere"

I agree with what you are saying, about reading and studying the Word prayerfully, however, deabtes can be a good thing as well.
They are not always overly contentious, but do produce fruit.

Kevin Jones said...

Phil, thanks so much for this post and bringing some sanity back to the discussion.

voiceofthesheep said...

Phil,

Excellent post! I'm not going to describe it using the word 'balanced', because that so often seems to hint at a middle-of-the-road stance on an issue (which more than not means a person isn't really taking a position), and you certainly have not done that here.

For those who have indicated a struggle now or in the past with some of the finer 'points' of Calvinism, may I suggest an interview of Dr. MacArthur on the doctrine of election, conducted by the blog boss of this very site.

Phil, keep up the good fight, and I look forward to your subsequent posts on this topic.

Steve Weaver said...

Great post! I'm with Wrigley on this one!

Hayden said...

Phil,

Great post! It was worth the wait. My initial impressions on the video were the same as yours (being in Michigan near the "epicenter" of NOOMA), but I too left with a different impression.

I know a couple of guys that work with Pastor Chen in Simi that I went to TMS with and they are far from being doctrinally unsound. The work that they are doing at their Bible Institute is excellent. It is allowing many a student to get a sound Christian foundation and still be able to go to college in the very expensive Southern California life.

I look forward to your future articles.

Hayden Norris

Jonathan Moorhead said...

You raised a lot of good points, Phil. Although I haven't commented on this debate yet, your post goes to show that there are bigger fish to fry. Yes, there are valid points of criticism here, but some of the rhetoric here says more about the commenters than about Chan.

Connie said...

Ahhhhh, now maybe we all can get back on the bus and continue down the road together!

I appreciate your manner--and all of TeamPyro--because you encourage me to continue thinking rather than simply "dig my heels in" on various issues/positions. Thanks.

JSB said...

Excellent post, Phil. I have to pause and say the graphics are amazing, as usual. The headline EXTRA! TURK NOT REFORMED cracked me up.

I feel about the video the same way you do -- things I would change, but overall no need to "vipe."

On the other points, there does seem to be a persistent strain within Calvinism itself, one I think that is forced by the interior logic of the system (if one truly buys into it). That is fodder for debate that I am truly interested in. The Calvinism you uphold here is one I respect. The tone you set here is just right, IMO, for a theological blog. I would hope that your opponents will conduct themselves civilly in the days to come.

YnottonY said...

"I have fancied I have seen in certain hyper-Calvinists a sort of Red Indian scalping-knife propensity; an ogre-like feeling with respect to, reprobation; a smacking of lips over the ruin and destruction of mankind; as to all of which, I can only say that it seems to me to be “earthly, sensual, devilish.” I cannot imagine a man, especially a man who has the spirit of Christ in him, thinking of the ruin of mankind with any other feeling than that which moved the soul of Christ when he wept over Jerusalem, crying, “How often would I have gathered thee as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings!” Let no one imagine that the spirit of Calvinism is a spirit of hostility to universal humanity. It is not so. It is a perversion and a caricature of the expositions of Calvin and Augustine, and of the Apostle Paul, and of what our Master preached, to represent us as thinking with complacency of the ruin of any one of the human race."

C. H. Spurgeon, MTP, Vol. 60, page 390.

p.s. Centurion, I enjoyed reading what you said in another post regarding why we should evangelize. We should not do so merely out of duty to a bare command. It's also about loving our neighbor even as God does. It's God-like to compassionately seek the well-being of those perishing around us, and Christianity is all about conforming ourselves to the image of God in Christ.

ron said...

"In fact, I have a much higher opinion of the way Pastor Chan is doing evangelism than I have of the way some of his critics are neglecting it."

Amen, and amen.

The Clinging Vine said...

Perfect, Phil.

Just perfect.

Thank you!

YnottonY said...

Phil said:
"Erroll Hulse wrote a wonderful book called The Great Invitation: Examining the Use of the Altar Call in Evangelism...I commend it to you."

Hulse says:
"The Bible declares clearly and unmistakably that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live (Ezek. 33:11). This pleasure is in people, not an abstract principle. In other words God is declaring of any sinner whatsoever that he has no pleasure in his destruction or punishment, but rather pleasure in his turning and living. He is not saying that he is delighting in a principle as an engineer might delight in equations and formulas. This pleasure is in people personally as individuals."

Erroll Hulse, The Great Invitation (Evangelical Press, 1986), p. 64.

The above quote is significant because some "Calvinists", in seeking to avoid the idea that God desires the salvation of all (even the non-elect), try to say that God delights in the principle of repentance, but not that he wants John Doe Non-Elect (a particular person) himself to repent.

Here's a quote for Centurion:
"The motivation and strength to show real love for those outside the church is surely found in God himself. If he does not love them, we cannot expect to find the resources in him for us to love them!"

Erroll Hulse, The Great Invitation (Evangelical Press, 1986), p. 74.

Dr. Curt Daniel sent a copy of Hulse's book to me for free :-)

It's a shame that the Reformed Baptist movement these days seems to be moving away from the influence of Hulse into significantly higher versions of Calvinism.

Barry Wallace said...

Great post, Phil. I think this excerpt from J.C. Ryle, who, as your readers know, was thoroughly Reformed in his doctrine, is very appropriate:

"...the doctrine of Election was never meant to prevent the fullest, freest offer of salvation to every sinner. In preaching and trying to do good we are warranted and commanded to set an open door before every man, woman, and child, and to invite every one to come in. We know not who are God’s Elect, and whom he means to call and convert. Our duty is to invite all. To every unconverted soul without exception we ought to say, “God loves you, and Christ has died for you.” To everyone we ought to say, “Awake, — repent, — believe, — come to Christ, — be converted, — turn, — call upon God, — strive to enter in, — come, for all things are ready.” To tell us that none will hear and be saved except God’s Elect, is quite needless. We know it very well. But to tell us that on that account it is useless to offer salvation to any at all, is simply absurd. Who are we that we should pretend to know who will be found God’s Elect at last? No! indeed. Those who now seem first may prove last, and those who seem last may prove first in the judgment day. We will invite all, in the firm belief that the invitation will do good to some. We will prophesy to the dry bones, if God commands us. We will offer life to all, though many reject the offer. In so doing we believe that we walk in the steps of our Master and His Apostles."

The full article, entitled "Election" is available online.

centuri0n said...

Tony:

Exactly.

FWIW, I would refuse to accept that this is a "higher" form of Calvinism, unless "higher" has a technical meaning which connotes an elevation above the things we are supposed to do with our lives. If we accept the maxim that Calvinism is the Gospel, Calvinism cannot have a "higher" view of what God is doing than the Gospel does. It has to have the same view -- and this is it.

Finrod said...

Phil wrote:

But I'm embarrassed by the shrill tone and dismissive attitudes of some of the critics in our meta.

In addition to my overall appreciation of this post - a well-reasoned and balanced essay - I am particularly grateful for the aforementioned sentence and it's underlying attitude. I am sure that such attitudes as you identify are embarrassing to you, but imagine being on the receiving end of said shrill tones and dismissive attitudes. It is why some of us, who have been declared to be outside Camp Tulip, are very selective and careful about those Reformed brothers - for they are brothers, even if they think us bastards - with whom we interact.

Again, my thanks for this post.

SolaMeanie said...

I think you might post a link (if available) to a streaming version of your interview with John MacArthur on the doctrine of election. I thought it handled the tension in this issue very well i.e. God's attitude toward the lost and the need for evangelism.

Phil Perkins said...

Phil et. al.,
Two quick things. First, on the manners thing. I have thought long and hard because people make so much of the manner of one speaking God's truth these days. So, I have come up with a standard I would like to offer for criticism and evaluation:
To believers in error, speak directly to the error without perjoratives. To unbelievers speak directly to their need for repentance and faith without perjoratives. To false teachers, speak directly to the error with the use of only those perjoratives that communicate something useful and true. I think that is following biblical example. Correction invited on this point.

Second, as to the video, stop and think just how long it would take to accurately cover all the fine points of the gospel and all related theology. Could it even be done?

I do not believe that every gospel presentation should even try to be theologically inclusive on every point. One has to consider the time restraints and the audience. If I have three minutes, I don't have time to cover the doctrine of election. I have to get to the wrath of God and to the sacrifice and resurrection rather quickly.

And as fas as audience is concerned, if I were to talk to an old time, practicing Catholic, my presentation would so emphasize "faith only" that one could easily accuse me of not asking for repentance. But if I were to seek the salvation of a Baptist, my entire presentation may be a rant against "faith without works."

After all, Jesus told the rich young ruler to go and sell all that he had. Apart from the context of all the rest of Jesus' teaching, Jesus could be accused of heresy.

Phil's right. We should go a little easier on our brothers and sisters that are doing the work while we just blog.

In Christ,
Phil Perkins.

The Western Seminarian said...

"I'm going to start automatically deleting comments that I think are pugnacious, unbalanced, unnecessarily accusatory, or otherwise out of line.
[...] But I am the blog-boss here, so now that I have taken time to explain my position, you need to respect my conviction on this and bend over backward to be polite and gracious, or else your comments will be deleted."

My impression is that a defining characteristic of this blog is pugnacity... ...That's why I link here.

And while we are on pugnaciousness, what's with "We have a few commenters who lean toward Arminian theology (or worse)"? Sounds like a pugnacious treatment of good theology to me.

Peace,
TWS

YnottonY said...

Hi Centuri0n,

I'm not sure if my point about "higher versions of Calvinism" was clear. What I was saying is that there are some in the Reformed Baptist movement who have gone higher in their Calvinism than Erroll Hulse. If they're not willing to explicitly and passionately say what he says on the free offer and God's love for all, then that's a problem. Furthermore, Hulse's interpretations of key passages is significantly different that the popular Calvinstic interpretations on the internet. I could quote further from his book, but I don't want to pack the comment section with extensive quotes.

Incidently, when I spoke about "higher versions of Calvinism", I didn't have you or your positions/statements in mind. I'm not sure if there was confusion on that.

YnottonY said...

This:
"Here's a quote for Centurion:"

Should have been put this way:

"Here's a quote that Centurion will like:"

Daniel said...

Phil - that photoshopped news stand photo is hilarious! Well done!

The post was great too, but it was almost like going to see a whodunnit movie after someone spilled the beans - I expected an even handed handling of both the strengths and weaknesses of the video, and a word or two about those players whose shrillness in histrionics is balanced only by the lack of substance behind their position. Well done sir, well done.

Denise said...

What gospel was proclaimed in the video? Without the resurrection of Christ the Lord and that Jesus Christ is God and Lord, there is no gospel.

Rom 10:9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

2Ti 2:8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!

And regarding this romantic suitor begging for you to decide to accept Christ:

Isa 40:25 To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.

I'm saddened to see such man-centeredness all over the place in Blogland. Where is the appeal to the living, inerrant Word of God?

YnottonY said...

Denise,

1) Do you accept the idea that God loves all mankind, though not equally?

and

2) Do you accept the idea that the gospel is a well-meant offer by God to all?

3) Also, did you see this picture in Phil's post?

4) If Chan wants people to come into a relationship with Christ, doesn't that presuppose that Christ is alive today, hence he's been resurrected?

YnottonY said...

Denise quoted Isaiah:
"Isa 40:25 To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One."

It's possible to so overemphasize God's transcendence that we do not give due balance to his immanence. After all, human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. That presupposes some degree of similarity. Scripture draws analogies between God and man, so there is both transcendence AND immanence. R. L. Dabney is instructive on this balance:

"None will deny that the discussion of God's nature and activities should be approached with profound reverence and diffidence. One of the clearest declarations concerning him in the Scriptures is, that we may not expect to "find out the Almighty unto perfection" [(Job 11:7)]. Should a theologian assume, then, that his rationale of God's actings furnished an exhaustive or complete explanation of them all, this alone would convict him of error. It must be admitted, also, that no analogy can be perfect between the actions of a finite and the infinite intelligence and will. But analogies may be instructive and valuable which are not perfect; if they are just in part, they may guide us in the particulars wherein there is a true correspondence."

centuri0n said...

Tony:

I didn't think you were at me about that stuff, and I agree with what you said.

There's just a lot of talk in this discussion right now about "higher calvinism", and the adjective "higher" is not defined.

Now, about your failure to use the words "repent" and "resurrection" in your comments ...







:D

DJP said...

Denise, now, for the second time in this thread, I find myself asking someone:

Did you actually read Phil's post before commenting? All of it?

granttheslant said...

Great post Phil

I have found that book at ICM Books for £3.95 for those of us who are in the UK.

DJP said...

Let me say, too, instead of just saying it "backstage" to Phil, that I also think it's a great post. It's classic Phil: articulate, reasonable, sane, forceful, well-put. And the graphics are right in the ten-ring. Characteristically great stuff.

LeeC said...

I think a lot of debate would go much slower and reasoned if we would read 1 Timothy 5:19 before posting.

1 Timothy 5
" 17 The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” 19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. 20 Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning. 21 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality. 22 Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin."


To quote Treebeard, "Let's not be hasty."

Phil Johnson said...

Here are two items that I hope to follow up on:

1. Rileysowner makes an important point: The 15-minute video in question was originally designed to be a point of contact with neighbors, introducing them to the church and its website. Nowhere is the claim set forth in the video or on the website that this video is meant to be a full presentation of the gospel. Instead (as I mentioned but some evidently missed) if you follow the links around the website, there's enough sound and biblical info there about the cross and the resurrection for a person to find the way of salvation, assuming that person is being drawn by the Holy Spirit.

2. Greg Welty, whom I greatly respect and who is one of my favorite Baptist historian/theologians, wrote me an e-mail this weekend making some worthy observations about the free offer of the gospel and the scope of God's love. With Greg's permission, I'm going to post some excerpts from his e-mail in the next few days (or perhaps try to coax him to edit it into a guest blogpost). But he makes this significant point: None of the most important historic Reformed confessions say very much one way or the other about the question of God's so-called "desire" (or lack thereof) for the repentance of the reprobate. We know these issues were raised and argued over by the Westminster Assembly (and others who drafted later confessions). Surely that means something: Historic Calvinism has always been broad enough for dicvergent views on some of these questions to coexist.

I agree completely with that point. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm strongly committed to the idea that God in some meaningful sense seeks and "desires" the repentance of every sinner. (Note: I use the d-word advisedly, acknowledging that optative expressions when used of God are always problematic and never quite accurate. But I don't know a better way to say it; and denying it outright would seem to suggest that God's commands and beseechings are not well meant.) Anyway, I believe God expresses a bona fide preference and sincere plea for the salvation of sinners rather than their damnation, and that it's perfectly appropriate to tell any sinner that God loves him or her. Yet I know some Calvinists would prefer to call this common-grace love of God something other than either "grace" or "love." Neither view, in and of itself, ought to be grounds for automatic anathemas. Both are historic strains of Calvinist belief. Having studied this issue for nearly two decades, I think my view has a stronger pedigree than the other, but both sides ought to understand that this dispute is an ancient one, and none of the major historic Calvinist confessions of faith expressly rules out either position, even though the men who drafted those confessions were fully aware of the disagreement.

That surely ought to count for something, and this is my main point in this whole dispute: It's OK if we disagree on a question like that; but we don't have to accuse one another of fatally compromising the gospel over it. At some point in our careful refinement of gospel truth, we have to stop anathematizing those who disagree with us and we can't keep labeling every different opinion as "deliberate" apostasy, or we will have in fact become true and living examples of the very caricature that some of our critics like to employ as a calumny against us.

I've said I think the principle of sola fide is that dividing line, and I'll stand by that, because it seems to me that's what the Apostle Paul was saying in Romans and Galatians.

One other item: ynottony--please send me your private e-mail if you don't mind. I would like to forward a reply that was prompted by some of your comments.

centuri0n said...

Dan --

May I say that your comments was the best of classic Dan comments as well.

Turgonian said...

'[i]In my assessment, the vital litmus test of whether someone is sound in the gospel or not is the question of whether he acknowledges Christ's righteousness as the sole and sufficient ground of justification rather than trying to fudge on the principle of sola fide or making something the sinner himself must do a part of the ground of final justification.[/i]'

I've been raised a Calvinist and still believe in [i]sola fide[/i]. However, recently I've started to doubt whether it is necessary to know about it, because I heard that the doctrine was only developed in the 12th century, whereas the older church fathers did not speak about it. That would leave us with three options: I) I'm factually wrong (even though my information comes from people who have really been reading the old documents); II) the Church went apostate very early and the majority was damned (not very likely); III) whether [i]sola fide[/i] is true or not, belief in this principle is not required, as long as you trust and follow.

I really don't know what to think about this issue and would appreciate comments.

Jon said...

"assuming that person is being drawn by the Holy Spirit."

Um, is there another way? ;)

Ken Fields said...

Two words: GOOD POST.

And, by the way, Phil, it's good to see you practicing what you preached in that "walk the line" post.

Your willingness to do so is refreshing!

TheBlueRaja said...

If anything, some of my most forthright and vigorous polemical remarks have been aimed at some doctrinally freewheeling TMS graduates—especially a few who seem enthralled with certain currently-stylish flavors of epistemological skepticism.

Amen! I've been missing the punishment lately! ;)

ron said...

a) It's good to study and know our doctrine. I call myself a Calvinist because of that.

b) It's not good to think that someone who knows they have sinned, are truly sorry for their sins, trusts Jesus and lives in obedience to him is lost.

We can and should study and debate it's how we mature, but let's not forget that Jesus seemed to often commend those who showed the simplest faith (see Mark 41-44). When you think about Luther, it all boils down to him simply understanding and trusting that God is the one who saves through faith in Jesus alone. That moment of salvation does not require exhaustive understanding of election, or how the Spirit draws. It's incredibly simple, and at the same time amazingly profound.

YnottonY said...

Phil said:
"ynottony--please send me your private e-mail if you don't mind. I would like to forward a reply that was prompted by some of your comments."

Uh oh. I hope the reply is positive. *gulps* lol

So do I email Phil R. Johnson, or Phil E. Johnson? lol jk :-)

I wholeheartedly agree with what you said here:

"I'm strongly committed to the idea that God in some meaningful sense seeks and "desires" the repentance of every sinner. (Note: I use the d-word advisedly, acknowledging that optative expressions when used of God are always problematic and never quite accurate. But I don't know a better way to say it; and denying it outright would seem to suggest that God's commands and beseechings are not well meant."

I'll be in touch.

TheBlueRaja said...

If anything, some of my most forthright and vigorous polemical remarks have been aimed at some doctrinally freewheeling TMS graduates—especially a few who seem enthralled with certain currently-stylish flavors of epistemological skepticism.

Amen! I've been missing the punishment lately! ;)

TheBlueRaja said...

If anything, some of my most forthright and vigorous polemical remarks have been aimed at some doctrinally freewheeling TMS graduates—especially a few who seem enthralled with certain currently-stylish flavors of epistemological skepticism.

Amen! I've been missing the punishment lately! ;)

DJP said...

So, what are you trying to say, TBR?

TheBlueRaja said...

Man, blast this (formerly) beta blogger. I shouldn't have kept hitting the button when it stalled out!

Not that I can really ever know whether I really hit the button several times or not. I remain skeptical about my button pushing.

John Haller said...

Good post, but it pales in comparison to those graphics. I think I could do a sermon on the purgatory bus. Great stuff.

The Clinging Vine said...

When I mull over how the LORD loves all His creation, including the people presently on the planet, what strikes me is that the key factor is we aren't dead yet.

Judgment comes after death (barring the Second Coming, which'll speed matters up considerably), not before.

So long as we're here, and we're breathing, we've not been judged, and He loves us.

Mind, He loves those who have turned to Him in faith and trust in a deeper, richer, lasting way, but still, He loves all His creation while it's alive and kicking.

Now, if we want Him to keep loving us we'd best throw ourselves onto His mercy through the Savior He provided in the Person of His Son, Jesus.

Once we die all bets are off and the chickens come home to roost in a hurry.

But until that happens, it's absolutely legitimate to tell someone God loves them.

It would not, however, be legitimate to tell them God will love them for all eternity.

That is a gift given only to those who have received "life for a look at the Crucified One", as Spurgeon put it in the post yesterday.

Phil Johnson said...

Someone asked me if there's a conflict between me and James White in the subtext of this exchange. Not as far as I can see. I listened to "The Dividing Line" today, and I don't really disagree with anything James said.

(Yes, I even share James's contempt for the pooling of grossly ignorant opinions and the trolling for blog-traffic that often occurs in the comments-thread of this blog. Then again, the same thing, and worse, sometimes occurs in Christian IRC channels. I presume James keeps his IRC channel open anyway for the same reason I keep the comments open here: it's an opportunity to interact with our readers, to discover who is actually listening, and—when the opportunity arises—to correct some of that gross ignorance. Plus, thankfully, we have a lot of commenters who aren't ignorant at all and have some extremely valuable things to add. So we'll keep the comments open until the wackos completely outnumber the sane and sensible people.)

Anyway, on the issues related to the gospel, contemporary corruptions of it, and videos designed to reach surfer-dudes, if it seems like James and I are in stark disagreement, I think it's primarily (if not completely) a difference in emphasis. He is (rightly) concerned about people who run too far with the notion of imploring sinners to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5) and who imagine that this justifies the ridiculous imagery of God on his knees, begging sinners to have a relationship with Him. Remember: I already said I don't like that aspect of the video, either.

And the concern James has raised is certainly justified by this fact: in our culture, for every individual who veers in the direction of hyper-Calvinism, there are probably 10,000 people (and perhaps even ten times that) who go too far in the opposite direction. They seem to want to put God, ultimately, at the mercy of sinners rather than vice versa, and thus they turn a major point of truth on its head.

So I'm happy to acknowledge emphatically that the problem James has focused on is (in numerical terms, anyway) a much bigger problem than the issue that I've focused my concerns on. There should be little question about that.

But let's be clear: I'm still arguing for equilibrium. Don't lose sight of that.

Here's my thinking about this: In the immediate context of my blog-audience, because I'm often defending a Calvinistic soteriology and attacking the contemporary tendency to corrupt and cheapen the gospel, I tend to attract an audience that doesn't precisely reflect the prevailing mood in the world.

And if there's a sinister tendency that seriously needs to be checked among my friends and fellow-Calvinists, it is this tendency to chafe and protest every time someone suggests that God's attitude toward fallen humanity includes any aspect of genuine love, good will, or a well-meant plea for their repentance.

Although hyper-Calvinism may not be the more popular of the two extremes on the continuum of error that we are talking about, I am convinced it is just as full of mischief as its counterpart.

So for the record, I'm not disagreeing with James; I'm just warning against a different—and opposite—danger. My warnings don't nullify his, or vice versa.

Barry Wallace said...

TO the clinging vine:

Hi. I mean these comments to be cordial, and welcome your response. I agree that it's perfectly legitimate to tell sinners that God loves them, as you might discern from the J.C. Ryle quote I posted earlier in this discussion thread.

However, I don't think it's wise to say that those who haven't repented have not been judged. Ironically, a couple of verses after John 3:16, Jesus says that "whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." I could quote many other verses that convey the same idea.

So I think it's best, and more Biblical, to say both that God's wrath rightly burns against sinners, and that they already stand condemned; but that God also loves them, and that because he does, he has provided a refuge from his wrath for all who trust Christ.

As is so often the case, it's not a matter of either-or, but of both-and.

Blessings to you!

ajlin said...

shouldn't phil's last comment be its own post?

The Clinging Vine said...

Barry, you make a valid point, you do indeed. ;^)

Shan't quarrel with your improvement to my words. Thanks ever so!

Oh, and I'm Anne.

Beth said...

I normally am all over this blog and don't have a problem with most things that are criticized here, but I didn't like the Francis Chan bashing. I've listend to a few of his sermons at TMC chapels on tape and think he has a gift for showing us glimpses of God we haven't seen before.
I'm glad you have seen you have re-evaluated!

SB said...

Thanks Phil for serving us and really all three of you on this blog-I have been really convicted and encouraged by the temperance, gentlenss and reverence that has been communicated.

I hope that all of us do the work of an evangelist. I pray that God would give up a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that we can preach the Lord Jesus accurately.

Greg Welty said...

Phil says: "Greg Welty, whom I greatly respect and who is one of my favorite Baptist historian/theologians, wrote me an e-mail this weekend..."

For the record, my wife laughed out loud at this. "Historian? You've never been called that before."

She's still laughing :-)

Rich Barcellos said...

Greg who?

Phil Johnson said...

One of the first e-mails I ever read from Welty was one he sent to a mailing list in 1996 (more than 10 years ago now!) outlining a succinct chronicle of the baptism debate. If I had a hard question about the history of Baptist or anabaptist opinions on the sacraments, Greg is the first guy I would e-mail.

I'd copy the e-mail to Haykin just in case.

CalvDispy said...

B. B. Warfield comments on John 3:16:

"The passage was not intended to teach, and certainly does not teach, that God loves all men alike and visits each and every one alike with the same manifestations of his love: and as little was it intended to teach or does it teach that his love is confined to a few especially chosen individuals selected out of the world. What it is intended to do is to arouse in our hearts a wondering sense of the marvel and mystery of the love of God for the sinful world – conceived here, not quantitatively but qualitatively as, in its very distinguishing characteristic, sinful."
From, “God’s Immeasurable Love”, [i]Biblical and Theological Studies[/i].

freshwords said...

Thanks Phil for that great article! First up, i have not seen the video and only follow this discussion because it narrows in on a vital point in our circle of influence.

I think your comments on our (yes, our) readiness to saddle our war horses, battling for pure and undefiled truth is worthwhile preaching. I have seen this in many people, in many of the churches i visit. It is as if our Christianity consists of seeking out error and (very selflessly) ironing it over.

Much can (and should) be said about defending the truth (reading 'Contending for our all' now), but at the cost of speaking the words of life to lost people? I doubt that is God's plan for us ...

Another issue that come up and is in the process of actually making me 'stop and think' is the extend of God's love.

I guess growing up in Baptist Churches can make one a little lopsided at times on that one. Thanks again for your comments on that (and those in the meta by others on that issue).

Faithfully reading on ...

Douglas said...

The wrath of God is the reason we need the Gospel.

True.

But what if the sinner hasn't a clue what the wrath of God is? We cannot assume they do. Do you teach unrepentant sinners the fact that the wrath of God abides upon them and that if they died right this minute in that unrepentant state they would be cast into the lake of fire forever? What do you proclaim to them, preach to them, to make them aware of the state they are in? Not just using the word "wrath" here and there a couple of times, but explaining to them what exactly the wrath of God is and why He is wrathful and who He is wrathful against? What gospel do you preach to people who have no idea of what the bad news is in the first place?

Do you say to the degenerate sinner; "God loves YOU sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much that He's down on bended knee, begging YOU, pleading with YOU, weeping and sobbing and wailing, waiting for YOU to repent?' Is God down off His throne proposing to the sinner, screaming out to them; "Here's a ring, I LOVE YOU, I want to spend the rest of My life with YOU, I want to spend the rest of eternity with YOU?" "I need YOU so much my heart is just breaking." "I really do LOVE YOU that much, I've got this feeling that I just want to hug YOU, I just want to squeeze YOU to death?" What is that? Is God that desperate towards the sinner? Is God that emotional towards the sinner, that crazy about them and head over heels in love with them? Do you tell the sinner “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life?”

Do you first use the whole Law of God skillfully, like the surgeon uses the scalpel, and allow the word of God, like a two-edged sword, pierce to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, joints and marrow and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart? To make the sinner aware of the exceedingly sinfulness of sin, allowing the mirror of the word of God to reveal to them their hearts of stone, a heart that is deceitfully wicked who can know it? To make them aware of the fact that they are war with God. Not "at" war but ARE war with God? Do you preach the bad news in all it's severity first, before you preach the good news of the gospel, so instead of having heaps of spurious false converts all over the place you have genuine ones? Do you use the Law as a tutor to lead them to Christ?

God makes men sensible of their misery before He reveals His mercy and love
by Jonathan Edwards

------------------------------------

I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offense, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early. Hosea 5:15

------------------------------------

"Who’s afraid of the wrath of God when we preach that God loves us unconditionally?" ~ R.C. Sproul

The Realty of God’s Wrath
by Erroll Hulse

God bless you, centuri0n

Douglas said...

DJP said...
Douglas: I have this fundamental question for you.

Did you even read Phil's post before your cut and paste job? Or did you just have that saved in Notepad, waiting for the moratorium to be lifted?

Because now, it just looks foolish.


HORRORS!!!

Dan, God is my judge.

As if this beautiful viper had no poison fang!

(Philpot, "The Appeal and Prayer of a Waiting Soul" 1843)

"Deliver me from all my transgressions!" Psalm 39:7

Ah! how rarely it is that we see sin in its true colors—that we feel what the apostle calls, "the exceeding sinfulness of sin!" O how much is the dreadful evil of sin for the most part veiled from our eyes! Our deceitful hearts so gloss it over, so excuse, palliate, and disguise it—that it is daily trifled, played, and dallied with, as if this beautiful viper had no poison fang!

It is only as the Spirit is pleased to open the eyes to see, and awaken the conscience to feel "the exceeding sinfulness of sin," and thus discover its dreadful character, that we have any real sight or sense of its awful nature.

Sins of heart,
sins of lip,
sins of life,
sins of omission,
sins of commission,
sins of ingratitude,
sins of unbelief,
sins of rebellion,
sins of lust,
sins of pride,
sins of worldliness!
As all these transgressions, troop after troop, come in view, and rise up like spectres from the grave, well may we cry with stifled voice, "Deliver me, O deliver me from all my transgressions! Deliver me from . . .
the guilt of sin,
the filth of sin,
the love of sin,
the power of sin, and
the practice of sin!"

Douglas said...

Here's the trancript of Francis Chan's video I typed out. It took me a couple of days and a night to do. I am copying and pasting it, but I originally typed it into my documents. I am a slow man now, both mentally and physically, the ravages of sin, we reap what we sow.....

I cannot see or hear the biblical gospel at all, in the video or the transcript and it's been around for a year or so, people are still exposing error that arose in the church in the 1st century:

A fifteen- minute film that may change your life forever

A mentor of mine once warned me not to get so busy in life that I just kinda rush through everything and not think. I have a tendency to, to just kind of wake up in the morning then go on in my tasks, kind of rush from one thing to the next without really stopping to think about what I am doing, you know, whether I actually should be doing what I’m doing or whether I want to be doing what I’m doing, I just kind of do it, you know, you just get into the day. Man, like every once in a while I need just kinda to get away from my own little world and just pull away and escape and think for a moment, I mean stop and think about life right now. Stop and think about the fact that right now, you and I are standing on a giant ball that's spinning at a thousand miles an hour, and we want to think this weird? See, the fact that we’re flying around this ball of fire that like is a million times our size, we're flying around this thing at 67,000 miles an hour and we just go; 'yeah, just another day, just another day,' there's nothing normal about it. This place is amazing. It’s gorgeous. Don’t miss it. Think about these bodies we’re living in right now, I mean the way we were created to feel, do you know the feelings you get when you first fall in love and you just want to scream to someone, you feel like something inside you is welling up or, or the feelings you get in relationships, like, for me it’s with my daughters and I tell ya, when I hug 'em, you know, it’s, it's like I, I got all this emotion inside where I just want to squeeze them to death and scream out how much I love them, I’m just crazy about them, what is that and, and even, even things like laughter, ok, I, I just want to say some people never even think about laughter but to me it’s like, you know when you laugh, whether you’re a person that just, you know just laughs your head off or you’re one of those people that who kinda goes, ghimmhhh, himmmm, himmmh, you know, you’re trying to hold it in, I mean what is that, I mean, what something for me, that points to God, that makes me think, you know what, that is amazing that God would create something like laughter. The Bible says; 'there is no way you can experience those, feel all this and see all this then go, ‘arrr, I think this is all just an accident, I think it just came from nowhere. There's no way. The Bible says; ‘that you have no excuse, no excuse, for not believing in God, because you can see God in everything.’

And I know when I talk about the Bible people cringe because it seems just like every time you hear someone talk about the Bible you get this feeling like they’re trying to take something from you, you know and some will flat out say yeah yeah we want your money but you’ve got to understand it’s 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, I mean the fact that the Creator is the one who made all this actually loves us and wants to give to us and, and if you miss out on that you are going to miss the whole point of your life.

The message of the Bible isn’t about how there is this awful beating up in heaven, He’s given us these harsh commands that, that he just forces us upon us, I mean even His commands, people talk about them like they are a bad thing, when his commands are a gift to us, they are a necessary thing, when He says; ‘thou shalt not murder’ he’s just saying; ‘Look, you know I think your life on earth would be better if you don’t kill each other.’ When He says don’t steal, don’t rip each other off , He’s saying o this will be such a better place to live if you guys didn’t rip each other off, you didn’t lie to each other, you just kinda were honest with each other and then, then He says; "you know if you could love each other as much as you love yourself this place would be amazing." But when we look at these commands like they’re an awful thing when in reality we know in our hearts that these are good laws. They’re necessary. That’s, that's when we get annoyed, we get angry when, when someone violates these laws because it is a violation of us, it's, it’s hurting us, it’s hurting someone else, we get angry, we, we don't want to see justice (we want to see justice?). You know, there are times when you just want, you almost want to see the wrath of God poured out on someone for, for violating these laws, because, it's destructive and God's saying; "no, these laws are for you,' I, I think where it gets tough is when we start looking at ourselves and we start thinking ok, what about me, like when I think about my self I know I have broken these commands, I've, I've broken a lot of the commands and honestly there is a side of me that freaks out thinking, you know, what would it feel like to stand before this, this awesome, amazing God one day and, and have Him question me. I, I used to not think about it a whole lot because I used to feel like I was a pretty good person, I said like, you know, compared to a lot of other people I'm good.

You know, it's kinda like when you're in high school and ya remember when arh, when you get in a classroom and the teacher would say I'm going to grade the class on a curve, and you, and you look around the class you see some people that, you know, just kinda sharpens you and ya kinda breath a sigh of relief because you know that compared to them you're totally fine. I feel like we do the same thing with governments. It's like we, we look around and we try to find the most evil people we can find in the world and we'll think, gosh they're so wicked God's gonna judge them and what it does it makes us feel ok about ourselves because compared to them we look pretty good. The problem with this though is that, God is not going to grade us on a curve, it's not like God's gonna line us all up and say; 'You know what, you guys are more wicked than those guys so you guys are the bad people, you're gonna go to hell and you guys are the good people you're gonna go to heaven, that's not what God's judgment's all about, it's about Him lining us up to His law and as He goes through His law, it's really not gonna take a whole lot of time before you realize that you’re guilty.

So think about this, God created you and I, He gives us these laws, we break His laws, so at the end of our lives, He has every right to punish as severely as he sees fit, He is the creator, and so if our lives ended that way with His punishment, that would be perfectly fair, perfectly just.

I am going to tell you the most amazing truth in the world and ya gotta get this.

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 he doesn't want to punish you, in fact in the greatest act of love ever, God Himself had His Son come down on the earth, take the form of a man and be nailed to a cross, because you see Jesus was taking the punishment for our sins, if no one was punished God would have been unfair because a crime was committed but the crazy thing is, is that you and I are guilty, we're the ones that messed up and then God has His own son punished for us. Why? The Bibles says it is because He loves us that much, because, this is the most amazing truth in the world, the God of the universe loves you. I used to think that I understood the love of God, I used to think that I, I believed this stuff and then I, and then I had kids and one day the thought crossed my mind, what would it feel like if I saw one of my daughters nailed to a cross, it absolutely drov, it made me sick, it drove me crazy, I mean try to think about the person that you love the most on this earth and think about them being nailed, being crucified on a cross. It's horrifying and to think that God, God the creator, went through that for me, It, it's amazing, think about it, what else in life even compares to this, seriously. I, I mean it feels so good just to be loved by anyone but to think that the creator of all of this loves me that intensely because that's what makes life worth living. This is awesome.

So you have to make a choice, see God right now wants to have a relationship with you, he wants to forgive you, regardless of anything you've done in your life He wants you, but you've got to choose to accept Him. Now there's a lot of people who think that they're good, think that they, are quote unquote, "good people," the problem is that we're not gonna get to judge ourselves, doesn't matter what you think about yourselves, it is a matter of what does God think about us, it's not it's like there's this little old man at the end of your life that's gonna, just stand on this, you know, this little pedestal and go 'hey what do you think of yourselves?' and you go arggh I thought I did a pretty good job. No. But when the Bible talks about God and what we face up to at the end it says there's, there's this massive God on this throne, and even the angels are covering themselves up with their wings and screaming out how holy He is, we stand before that God and it's that God that's gonna look at you, look at his law and I'm telling ya, you're not gonna come out innocent, it's not, not this partially guilty, no, it's either guilty or innocent and we are all gonna be found guilty. It's that same God that's saying I don't want to punish you, I want to forgive you, I want a relationship with you.

What I am talking about isn't a religion, it's not about joining some cult, or, really it's just talking to your Creator, having a relationship with him and in fact, God says, we become His bride, He gives that picture of a bride, it's a picture of intimacy, it's a picture of love, it's a picture of a relationship that's, that's greater than any relationship that we can experience as human beings. It's intimacy with our Creator. It's almost as if though the God of the universe is proposing to you right now, saying; "look I love you, I want to forgive you, I want to spend eternity with you, man, I'll wipe out everything, you just look, to forgive you as far as the east is from west, all the way to the depths of the ocean because that where all the garbage from the past is , we'll just put it behind us and lets start this new relationship." God's begging you, it's like He's on a knee, you know, handing you this ring and saying; "will you take me and will you enter into a relationship with me, Almighty God," and you have to say; "I do," that's it, saying; "Yes God, I do." If you hear anything I'm saying, don't go running to some minister or this and that, just, just get on your knees, or just go, get alone with God and just say to your creator; "you know what, I love you, I know that I've messed up but now I understand you're son paid for that, that blows my mind, I want to spend eternity with you, I wanna begin this relationship, I wanna follow you." But don't just say it, don't just say; "OK God, I'll follow you," because I tell you, there are people all across America right now that say; "Yeah I believe in God, yeah I follow Him" and then you look at their lives and it doesn't show. Jesus said; "If you really knew me, you would obey my commands." I mean its, it's, it's this idea of trust, saying you know what, I trust this guy, he's done everything for my good, He's given me life, He's given me His laws, He's given me forgiveness and so I believe His commands are gonna be for my good. See that 'ill show by your lifestyle.

Look, this isn't my message, this is the message of the Bible, it's God's love letter to you. You see these just aren't random thoughts that you can casually give or take, your whole eternal destiny rides on this, you can know today for sure that you're going to heaven . It's not Jesus plus good works, it's not Jesus plus rituals, it's just Jesus alone, it's not Jesus or something else, God's provided one way to escape His wrath and enjoy friendship with Him forever. The God of the universe is crazy about you and screaming out for your attention. But don't just walk away and go back to your routine, this could be the greatest day of your life, stop and think.


I'm thinking, Mr. Chan, I'm thinking. I don't know if I can stop, tho, bro! The greatest day of my life will be the day I pass from this world into the next. I do not like this life very much at all, especially because of illness, due to one cause and another, and being on meds to help keep me sane and stop me from topping myself. Mind you, I fear God to much to carry that out.

donsands said...

Very nice quote from Benjamin Breckinridge.

Evangelical books said...

Well done, Francis Chan, you have made readers of Pyromaniacs "Stop and Think"!

DJP said...

It's not Jesus plus good works, it's not Jesus plus rituals, it's just Jesus alone, it's not Jesus or something else, God's provided one way to escape His wrath and enjoy friendship with Him forever.

How might we express those thoughts in a few terse Latin phrases?

Douglas said...

It's not Jesus plus good works, it's not Jesus plus rituals, it's just Jesus alone, it's not Jesus or something else, God's provided one way to escape His wrath and enjoy friendship with Him forever.

How might we express those thoughts in a few terse Latin phrases?


How about Hebrew, I can't read Hebrew.

Why should sinners want to escape God's wrath when they do not know that God is wrathful towards them? Why tell them? They don't see themselves as being all that bad, they see themselves as pretty good folks in fact. Like Francis Chan says; "I think where it gets tough is when we start looking at ourselves and we start thinking ok, what about me, like when I think about my self I know I have broken these commands, I've, I've broken a lot of the commands and honestly there is a side of me that freaks out thinking, you know, what would it feel like to stand before this, this awesome, amazing God one day and, and have Him question me.

Like; "I have broken a lot of the commands", but I'm not all that bad, I have NOT broken them all, so when I stand before this AWESOME God, it won't be all that bad, a bit freaky but I'll be OK because I said; "I DO!!!" "I made the choice." "I made the decision, the deciding factor, I did the 1% and God did the other 99% so I'll be ok, mate." "I used to think I was a good person, but not a totally depraved person, not radically corrupt, not sinful to the very core of my being." "Jesus loves ME!!!" "If Jesus loves me, he aint gonna have me cast into the lake fire now, is He?" "That would be unjust, wouldn't it?"

".....because you see Jesus was taking the punishment for our sins, if no one was punished God would have been unfair because a crime was committed but the crazy thing is, is that you and I are guilty, we're the ones that messed up and then God has His own son punished for us."

So if The LORD Jesus Christ wsa NOT punished for our sins God would have been unfair? Where does Chan get that piece of theology from? The Bible?

If the LORD Jesus Christ was NOT punished for our sins, we ALL would be punished for our sins, every single human being, and be cast into the Lake of fire and God would still be perfectly fair and perfectly just. God owes no one grace and mercy. We all deserve death and justice, in the fullest and cast into the lake of fire forever.

It is of God's tender graceful mercies anyone is saved and that we are not all consumed in an instant!

centuri0n said...

Douglas:

I have read your very loud response on the matter of "is God waiting for us to repent?"

I enjoyed it.

Will you answer a few questions for me, since you now have the transcript for the whole video in this thread?

[1] What is the Gospel, in 150 words or less?
[2] If a man is presented with the Gospel, is he expected to do anything?
[3] Who is expecting this from this man?
[4] In what manner is this expectation framed? That is, If there is someone with an expectation of the man presented with the Gospel, in what way(s) is he expecting this "to do"?

Thanks -- it will help me understand what you are talking about.

centuri0n said...

I think I agree with this:

It is of God's tender graceful mercies anyone is saved and that we are not all consumed in an instant!

However, it turns out that this is true of all men and not just of the elect. So clearly: God loves all men -- he has tender mercy on all men.

The question, then, is what is the purpose of being this merciful to all men?

donsands said...

"what is the purpose?"

Here's one purpose I think.

"Now when He arrived at the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and many people were with her.
And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion [felt sympathy] for her, and said to her, Weep not. .... And He delivered him to his mother." Luke 7:12-15

Surely our Lord did this for the glory of God, that's without question. However, what initiated Jesus seems to be His compassion for this woman, and for her dead son.

Turgonian said...

'".....because you see Jesus was taking the punishment for our sins, if no one was punished God would have been unfair because a crime was committed but the crazy thing is, is that you and I are guilty, we're the ones that messed up and then God has His own son punished for us."

So if The LORD Jesus Christ wsa NOT punished for our sins God would have been unfair? Where does Chan get that piece of theology from? The Bible?'

Douglas, you seem to have a desire to see some kind of heresy in everything...

Tell me, where did Chan say that God would have been unfair if Jesus Christ had not been crucified? He didn't say that at all. He just said, 'If no one was punished, God would have been unfair because a crime was committed.' In more Calvinistic-sounding words: 'Since God is just, He requires punishment for sin.' Is that true or not?

Always try to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Rich Barcellos said...

Is the Douglas transcript accurate?

PastorDave13 said...

Phil,

Thank you for your recent post. I as a Calvinist (4 point, student of Dr. Bruce Ware, SBTS), get so tired of the pejorative and negative approach that many of my Calvinistic brothers take in our “discussions”. Now I am not a “can’t we all just get along” type who wants to jettison any semblance of a backbone (or doctrinal conviction) at the first hint of disagreement, but I don’t believe name calling and hurtful character assassination does anything positive in advancing knowledge, understanding, convincing etc,; nor does it in any form glorify our awesome God. So thank you brother for this post. You are a highly respected theologian, teacher and blogger and it is my prayer that our pejorative Calvinistic brothers who read this post will be convicted and repent.

As I read your post I was especially taken with your comment, “In fact, I have a much higher opinion of the way Pastor Chan is doing evangelism than I have of the way some of his critics are neglecting it. Chan and his congregation, by all accounts, are actually reaching out to their community. Some of his critics seem to be focusing their ministries more and more to an increasingly narrow and theologically inbred audience—preaching more and more to the choir and saying less and less to a lost and needy world.”

Phillipians 1:18

Keep up the good work, hope shake your hand at the upcoming Shepherds Conference.

Dave Richards
Pastor
Pleasant Heights Baptist Church
Indianapolis, IN

PastorDave13 said...

Sorry guys for the double post I am a novice blogger and didn't think my comment had posted the first time.

Dave Richards