08 September 2011


"All" Always Means ALL. Right?
Hermeneutics and common sense.

(First posted 16 December 2008)

by Phil Johnson

sually when someone wants to argue that the word all is inflexibly comprehensive, it's an Arminian who wants to put a universalist spin on biblical statements such as "one has died for all, therefore all have died" (2 Corinthians 5:14) or "[Christ] gave himself as a ransom for all" (1 Timothy 2:6).

The last conversation I had on that subject, however, was an e-mail dialogue with a radically pacifist anabaptist, who insisted that Jesus' command in Matthew 5:34 ("Do not swear at all") rules out all oaths of all kinds, including legal oaths, swearings-in, marriage vows, and formal covenants.

His argument was simple: "All" means all, full stop.

What follows is taken verbatim from the e-mail dialogue that ensued. (I've put my interlocutor's words in blue, to make it easier to follow the dialogue):

Me: The word "all" is not necessarily (or even usually) meant to be taken in an absolute sense. We understand this perfectly well in everyday speech:
  • "He travels overseas all the time."
  • "I have tried all kinds of shoes, but I like these the best."
  • "Solving that puzzle was no trouble at all."

In each case, "all" plainly expresses something less than a sweeping, comprehensive, all-inclusive, woodenly literal "all."

Him: Phil, you know I can't let this one slide by, well-intentioned though it was. It is of course possible that the first man is always overseas, and the second has tried all kinds of shoes, and that the third instantly saw the entire solution to the puzzle (as God always would). Barring these, however, all three would be lying.

Me: Don't be ridiculous. In normal discourse, no one would imagine that the speaker means all in the exhaustive sense in any of those examples. If you tried to press that sort of woodenly literal meaning into the words of people you dialogue with, you would never be able to communicate sensibly. We all frequently employ the word all in all kinds of contexts where the meaning is clearly not meant to be exhaustive. See? I just did it twice.

Him: Like it or not, using the word figuratively like that is a form of lying, and we know that our God and His Prophets are/were not liars.

Me: Now you're being worse than ridiculous. None of those would be a lie. People use expressions like that all the time, and they are not lies. See? I just did it again.

And consider this: Jesus said, "The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me" (John 12:8). If you insist on the absolute sense of "always," Jesus got it exactly backward! Because He is the one who is always with us in the absolute sense (Hebrews 13:5); the poor are "with us always" only in a non-absolute sense. He has existed from before the foundation of the world, and He will exist for all eternity, and he is omnipresent at (exhaustively) all times. By comparison, "the poor" aren't even a blip on the screen. They are here today, gone tomorrow. So if you insist parsing Jesus' statement with absolute meanings, you must conclude that He got it wrong—or else (by the standard you are insisting on) He lied.

Him: The statement "Do not swear at all" doesn't need a whole lot of parsing. Either all kinds of oaths are sinful, as I believe, or Jesus and James lied (or at least exaggerated), which I am disinclined to assume.

Me: You need to do some more careful thinking about what constitutes a "lie," and what words mean in their normal usage.

Him: It sounds to me like you are claiming "all" never means all at all.

Me: On the contrary, the word all always means "all." What I am actually claiming is that the word has all kinds of possible meanings. Look up "all" in an unabridged dictionary if you want to see the semantic range of the word.

Him: How then do we know that all (without exception) have sinned and fall short of the glory of God?

Me: Simple. The context makes that clear. Similarly, we know that the word in Matthew 5:34 is not an absolute "all" because of the contextual reasons I have already cited. Namely, we have biblical examples that prove this is not an exhaustive prohibition. Jesus Himself testified under oath. Paul included an oath in 2 Corinthians 1:23 under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In the context of Matthew 5, What Jesus forbade was the casual use of flippant oaths in everyday speech.

This is not complex hermeneutics. I'm guessing you make sense of the various ways people use words like all and always all the time in everyday speech. All you need to do is apply the same standards of common sense and context when you read Scripture, and it will all make better sense.

Phil's signature


Randy Talley said...

Dinner conversation at his place probably continues long past the meal... and may even ruin some appetites.

Brian said...

Ahhh, it’s like a breath of fresh air. I’ve been dialoging with a five point Arminian and apparently the correct way to exegete any given passage is to filter it through the Five Articles of Remonstrance.

naturgesetz said...

All I can say is, this is a fine post, showing that the word "all" is subject to interpretation — which should be carefully pondered by all.

Anonymous said...

That's all you got?

You've got it all wrong.

But still, I think you're all right.

What a clear demonstration of what happens to an idealogue when pushed to the logical conclusions of what they are saying.

They go there. And stay there. At least until the conversation is over. And then they (I hope) go back to normal thinking.

I hope this guy is single...

Robert said...

I kept thinking context and then saw you write that at the end. Are people really illiterate in the sense of reading the context of a statement?

Again, I think way too many people fail to work out the implications of what they say and do...as you aptly tried to show this gentleman via your e-mail correspondence.

Robert Warren said...

"Barring these, however, all three would be lying."

"All three" who? All Three Stooges, all Three Amigos, all Three Tenors?

That sentence must stand on its own; we can't let the context of the rest of the paragraph determine who the "all three" are.

Sheldon said...

I notice he chose not to engage you on the subject of Jesus and the poor and what happens when we take the literal meaning of "always" without considering the context.

I guess maybe Jesus gets the benefit of the doubt in his mind?

Or maybe there was just no way to tackle that and also still contend for the exhaustive meaning of "all" in all contexts.

Mike Westfall said...

"All Three" would of course mean every possible grouping of three people or things. Not "some three" but "ALL three". All means ALL. Who needs context?

100 Mile Pants said...

Great post! Brought a smile to my face! :)

The issue of breadth of meaning in "all" or "every" can have great exegetical value. One verse that often comes up in such discussions is Eph 1:3. Have we been blessed with "every spiritual blessing" in an absolute sense? And if there are limits, what are they contextually?
Always a great verse to debate with Pentecostals and other "second blessing" folks!

P. Trey Rhodes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
P. Trey Rhodes said...

Once again, the Bible is being held to a standard of interpretation that no conservative Bible expositor uses...literal interpretation. We have always interpreted Scripture contextually and historically. A single word cannot be removed from it's context and used to establish a position...in my humble opinion.

donsands said...

Nice job Phil. Good teaching. It's difficult to change when you grow up in a fundamentalist atmosphere and have these kinds of errors nailed down. I know those who still go to court, and will not take an oath, because they say to the judge, "I don't swear." It's ingrained from the crown of their head to the sole of their feet.

Solameanie said...

I have a sick headache.

Mel said...

I always love your posts!

I will let you determine if 'always' is exhaustive, if 'love' is phileo or agape, and if 'posts' are blogs or fences.

Enjoy the combinations!

Alex A. Guggenheim said...

Your comment here...:

"And consider this: Jesus said, "The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me" (John 12:8). If you insist on the absolute sense of "always," Jesus got it exactly backward! Because He is the one who is always with us in the absolute sense (Hebrews 13:5); the poor are "with us always" only in a non-absolute sense."

Speaks to one of the many reasons why modern Calvinists like yourself and historical Calvinism itself, will forever be erring on essential points.

You took our Lord's comments out of context. Did our Lord mean to use double speak? No, He meant plainly and literally about his immediate presence, not His spiritual, yet real, presence after His resurrection and our baptism into Him and His residency in us as the Holy Temple of God.

You, just as you accuse your opponent, took a passage out of context. This is not to say I agree with your opponent nor that you do not have some valid points but I believe this is a case of you finding a weakest opponent or even in the best light, one with obvious fallaicies.

donsands said...

"Speaks to one of the many reasons..."-Alex

Does many really mean many here?

If so, could you share a few of the many of Reformed, modern and historical, Calvinists are in error?

Alex A. Guggenheim said...

Why don't we simply consider the erring use of the text cited and its impications then, if a topic is created for the other "many", I happily will cite them. However I am sure discussing the "many" is not the purpose of the article (but if invited by the author I will engage as such). So the erring use of the text remains as a failing point in Phil Johnson's response. Feel free to counter it.

ANiMaL (richard) said...


You quote Phil who shows the problem with taking it so literally as to make it double speak. Then you said, "you dang Calvinists".

How did you show a contrast? You state that in context what Jesus said makes perfect sense, which is all Phil said.

donsands said...

Real quick question Alex. So many means many? And you can back up the many errors Calvinists, such as Calvin, Knox, Edwards, Spurgeon, and others have made?

I was thinking the word many here might mean some errors.

As far as Phil's error, I'll allow him to deal with that if you agree.

Alex A. Guggenheim said...


I wouldn't assert what I cannot argue (though it is not uncommon to find this in many places by people discussing theology or any topic for that matter). So yes, I can and have supported my position of the many and if the occasion presents itself in an article or forum I certainly will make my case. In the mean time with respect to the OP I will stick to the topic at hand unless permitted otherwise. You are free to email me for a detailed discussion and my email is available via blogspot.

Gerry Andersen said...

"How then do we know that all have sinned (without exception) and fall short of the glory of God?" Even Romans 3:23 requires all be limited to mean "all Christians" by the context of verse 22 and verse 24.

naturgesetz said...

"Even Romans 3:23 requires all be limited to mean 'all Christians' by the context of verse 22 and verse 24." It doesn't if you're a universalist. Maybe the guy Phil was having the discussion with is a universalist.

James Scott Bell said...

@Alex, perhaps so, but the gist of Phil's commentary is correct.

BTW, I love Romans 5:18 for just that reason, the context is clear that "all" means "all" all the way through!

Jugulum said...


Even if we incorporate your "immediate physical presence vs omnipresence" critique, it doesn't require a significant change to Phil's use of the verse.

Yes, the literal/absolute sense of "always" is valid in "you do not always have me", if Jesus was contextually referring to his physical presence.

But the literal sense of "always" is not valid in "The poor you always have with you". There will eventually be no poor. We have to contextually limit "always" to "on this earth". As Phil said, that's a blip in eternity.

If Phil was only trying to make a point about the absolute sense of "always", he should tweak his example. On the other hand, if we have to use context to limit "you do not always have me" to Jesus' physical presence, then that still supports his point about context indicating whether to read using the absolute sense of words.

Henry said...

excellent post, thankyou.

Dave Miller said...

Mark 1:5 - "And all the country of Judea and allJerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins."

So every single human being in Judea and Jerusalem was baptized in the river Jordan, right? Who was left to give Jesus such trouble later on?

Mark 1:32 - That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons.

So NOBODY was sick the next day, right? How was it that there was a leper around to be healed a couple verses later?

Mar 1:33 - And the whole city was gathered together at the door.

So the entier city was deserted and every solitary sould was at the door?

Ex N1hilo said...

Great comments, all.

And by "all" I mean every human being on Earth, of course. Starting with Adam.

Michael Lawmaster said...

Excellent post Phil. Thanks!

Nash Equilibrium said...

Such conversations are always a hallmark of pacifist anabaptists, because their black and white view of things is how they became pacifists in the first place.

Go to youtube and look up the video series by woot, featuring "Ben the Over-Literal Dermestid Beetle"

Eric said...

Mike Westfall....FTW!

Steve Drake said...

Phil Johnson:
Me: The word "all" is not necessarily (or even usually) meant to be taken in an absolute sense.

The same claim of universal global Flood deniers who argue for a local flood from Gen.7:19:
And the water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens (or, 'which were under all the heavens') were covered.

Yet context is key as you rightly state:
Me: Simple. The context makes that clear.

I think a distinction between when 'all' is used in an exhaustive sense, and when it is not, is important, and does bear out in the comments and dialog of this post. Thanks for the clarification to all.

R.C. said...

Were I to go back for more punishment, I might encourage our anabaptist friend to explain how Jesus could atone for any man's sins, since He Himself is a sinner, since "all have sinned."

Stefan Ewing said...

This has been an interesting discussion, but I have to ask something, as it's been bugging me for years.

It is plainly evident from Scripture (especially if one takes the totality of what Paul wrote to the Romans), that all humans since Adam and Eve are sinners and none can stand justified before God except as God the Father regenerates a person through the Holy Spirit and forgives that person's sins through the person and work of Jesus Christ.

That being said, how do we reason our way through Paul's parallel all/all and many/many constructions in Romans 5:18-19?

"Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous."

In verse 18 (all/all), a superficial reading would suggest that one must either negate the doctrine of total depravity (to avoid affirming universalism), or interpret the verse universalistically (to avoid rejecting total depravity).

In verse 19 (many/many), there's no risk of universalism...but also no clear statement of total depravity there. And the constructions Paul uses in both verses superficially suggest a parallelism between the two parts of each verse that is not justifiable based on the rest of what Scripture teaches.

In the context of the total biblical witness, then, how do we explain to a pelagian or a universalist that in verse 18, the first "all" is absolutely exhaustive, while the second "all" is not? And in verse 19, the first "many" is actually exhaustive, while the second "many" is correct (not exhaustive)? And how do we make this distinction without appearing as if we are over-parsing for the sake of our theology?

I am a TULIP Calvinist and proudly so. But I am hoping that if someone can explain this, it may help to strengthen the theological underpinnings of what we believe soteriologically.

Zachary Bartels said...

Reminds me of the awesomely long and over-emphasized section in "Amazing Grace," when D. James Kennedy does this for like five mintues.

P. Trey Rhodes said...

Here's a question...does never fall into the same category as "all"? I think I'm asking, are the absolutes of the Bible as absolute as we have assumed? Are we now trying to allow for wiggle room? Here's my two cents worth, we must assume that the absolutes are absolute and allow for the Spirit of God to take the word of God and speak to our hearts. Isn't that why we remind ourselves...others may, but I cannot. It's about us and not the text. That is why we ask the Spirit to interpret the passage to us that we might know how we are to live in light of the command of Christ.

Dave Miller said...

I'd love to read an article on Pyromaniacs addressing Stefan's response.

Jim Kirby said...

The matter of the usage of "all" is not just a matter of opinion. E.W. Bullinger in his massive volume "Figures of Speech in the Bible" classifies it as a Synecdoche (of the Genus), pp. 614ff. It is either hubris or ignorance to deny this fact.

James Scott Bell said...

Stefan, you ask exactly the right question concerning Romans 5:18, which I referenced earlier. It is absolutely overpowering. If the "all" applies all men in the first part, it must also in the second. Any attempt to get around this lessens the power of the Cross! That simply must not be done. This does not lead to universalism, BTW. The key concept is the end of the "reign of death" which is the context (see vv. 12-14). And the key teaching is that as far as Adam's sin reached, the obedience of Christ reached farther, overcoming it entirely. To lessen that impact is to denigrate both Christ and Scripture. Which is why Limited Atonement must be given up.

May I suggest you start with Adam Clarke's commentary on this? It begins: "The consequences of Christ’s obedience extend as far as the consequences of Adam’s disobedience. The consequences of Adam’s disobedience extend to all mankind; and therefore, so do the consequences of Christ’s obedience."

P. Trey Rhodes said...

It's interesting to read about the word "all" (pas, Gr.) as I am currently doing. It can be understood as "oneness". Hence the idea of all in the region were healed or came to hear Jesus is here used metonymically. Or it can indeed be used as an absolute as in Mark 9:49, "all salted" or Heb. 2:9, "taste death for all." It goes back to context and understanding in a historical grammatical sense what was to be understood. I still say, accept as an absolute unless context dictates otherwise. Or else we get into Bill Clintonisms by saying it depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is. But it can mean many things depending on context and articles and prepositions used. I can see why it matters...much of our theology and praxis depends on this small 3 letter word.

Robert Warren said...

"I am a TULIP Calvinist and proudly so."

Stefan: If I might offer a small piece of good-intentioned advice - maybe you should say you're not ashamed.

A couple of the cavils and ad hominems that many (though not all) opponents of Reformed Theology tend to deploy is "Calvinists are full of pride and arrogance." If you deprive them of this silliness, they might be forced to follow the example of Johnny D and actually use Scripture for their arguments.

Aaron said...

Get rid of limited atonement? You can't get rid of it without denying the other four (or putting God at odds with Himself).

Sir Brass said...

A wonderful example of when a literal meaning figuratively (not literally :P) rips the literary and intended meaning right out.

[Bandito voice]Context? We don't need no stinkin' context. Now hand over all the money.[/Bandito]

Jugulum said...

I like the image Phil put before the dialogue.

A blue truck (i.e. the anabaptist's blue text), running out of control and crashing into a red car (i.e. the red letters).

Robert said...


Do you believe in annihilationism? Or maybe limbo? If Jesus paid the price for everybody's sin, then nobody goes to hell...the wrath was already taken by Jesus. Now to get to heaven, there also has to be the imputation of the righteous life that Jesus lived for us as well. I also don't see why Paul wouldn't have written that Jesus canceled out the handwriting of requirements that was against the world and has taken it away, having nailed it to the cross (Col. 2:14). Paul says it was for us (the elect), not for the world.

Stefan Ewing said...

Johnny and Robert:

Thanks for the responses.

Robert: Don't worry...I'm a free Gospel offer kind of guy, and keep
my theology "in house" (as it were), except where it touches on our plight as humans, God's gracious response, and our understanding of God's grand redemptive plan.

Unknown said...

As Popeye always says, "That's all I can stand, I can't stands no more!"

donsands said...

"Which is why Limited Atonement must be given up."-JD

I don't. I see Christ as the Lamb of God, who died for the world, and for His sheep alone. He took the just wrath of God and bore every sin of His sheep, those who believe, and so our sin was paid for on that Day, although He was the Lamb of God slain before the foundation of the world.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd, who laid down His life for His sheep. No greater love than this.

It's a deep doctrine JD, and it may fit within the boundaries of the post's subject.

It is Finished. Thank You Jesus. Thank You Lord.

Kyle said...

That wasn't helpful at all...

Brendt said...

By this ALL people will know that you are my disciples, if you celebrate publicly your logic-driven smackdowns, and then rehash them three years later.

Eddie Eddings said...

Phil, your comments were ALL right!

I used to dialog with a man who believed there was no such thing as a joke. He said everything a person "joked" about had a direct meaning or insult to it.

He didn't have many friends.
If you take things too literal, without considering the context, you isolate yourself and others.

Strong Tower said...

Stefan, you might be interested in this sermon by Phil excellently explaining imputation. It is important to divide between the comparisons and contrasts of Romans 5. It isn't as difficult as our weak minds make it. We have no problem with saying that all the foolball players were on the field and saying many were on the field, nor do we have any problems with saying that many football players are on the sidelines and understanding that all were on the sidelines but some were on one sideline and others on the other because they belong to one team and not the other. The federal headship of Adam is coextensive with all those in Christ, but not vice verse. One comparison being made is in the fact that Adam was a type of Christ. It is the comparison of headship. And following the logic of the passage, all those in Adam sin. Also all those in Christ are justified. The key is in the in. But what that means is that just as one was crucified, so those in him were crucified with him. That also means that as Adam, all who would ever be born were in Adam in his incarnation were accounted as having sinned, and that all those who are in Christ at his incarnation were also those who were crucified with him, or as Luther said, were his bride purchased by his blood and taken into heaven with him at his ascension. Which is why we can say with Paul in Ephesians that we are in heaven with him, many blessed above all with a blessing that is not properly given to all but only those for whom the intecession in Christ's blood was made.

Of course, Brendt, we practice our love for one another by rehashing docrine. Sometimes difficult to understand, it is good that we reissue, restate, and reform, so that we might impart some spiritual gift, building up one another.

Strong Tower said...

Forgive the spelig errers. I really have nothing agin foolsball. Even if it is ov da debil.

Brendt said...

Strong Tower, reading comprehension FAIL. I said nothing about rehashing doctrine, and you do not do well to try to re-interpret what I said.

Even if we assume that everything in the OP is doctrinally sound (and my theological leaning is that it is), this does not mean that re-hashing the smackdown is acceptable. Or even "hashing" it the first time. There are plenty of non-narcissistic ways to convey truth.

Strong Tower said...


hash is hash.

The format that Phil used is what you're concentrating on? You call it a logic driven smack-down. But you miss the forest for the trees. I offered to Stefan a fuller look at Phil's reasoning. You offered what? Vinegar in the eye?

I would suppose that reiteration in Scripture appalls you, and perhaps merely the printing of the bible and its numerous smack downs that would have to earn your condemnation for precisely the same thing, republishing it.

Sheesh. Take a deep breath, om your self calm, and come back with something other than your condemnation of logically formatting the argumentation in a way that is quite a common literary devise.

I'll accept your fail, if you accept the fact that your bitterness has blinded you to the benefit that others received in this rehashing of a conversation precisely because it was in this format.

It is obvious from you calling it narcicism you are implying Phil is sinning. But I wonder, what would have been Christ's motive of rehashing the whole of Scripture concerning himself? Do you think that the disciples never once used, he said then I said, then he said, to expose the fallacious? Or do you think that they did not once say anything other than what we have recorded in Scripture?

The point is, Brandt, you want to talk about the means that Phil used and not the post when in fact there is no narscisitic reality about it except in your imagination. If the verbatim exercise exposes to others similar conversations that they might have while exposing the fallacies and deeping the understanding of the doctrine, what is wrong with that?

As far as I can see I might be a poor reader, but that is better than seeing every thing I read with a jaundiced eye.

WV: ommativ... no joke!

Brendt said...

I officially rescind my "reading comprehension FAIL" classification. When that many incorrect conclusions/assumptions are reached about an author given such a short span of text, that's not an issue of reading comprehension. I'm not sure what it is (maybe a jaundiced eye), but regardless, my apologies.

I will focus on one of the few things that you got right about me, though. You stated that I "want to talk about the means that Phil used and not the post". In that, you are absolutely correct. To use a similar word, I am more interested in the methodology used in the OP than its content, the latter having been sufficiently lauded in earlier comments.

(As an aside, let us not dwell on the fact that you conveniently ignored my statement that my theological leaning is that the content of the OP is doctrinally sound.)

Ephesians 4:14 describes a very dire issue that Paul is trying to correct:

so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

While I personally do not see the anabaptist's position as being as extreme as what Paul is referring to, I am comfortable with those that might classify it thusly.

Paul's solution to the problem (in verse 15):

Rather, speaking the truth IN LOVE ...

While there are certainly McLaren-esque confusions of the term "love" in which others wrongly state that anything that isn't Mr-Rogers-nice is unloving, there is an equally incorrect assumption that merely speaking the truth, regardless of methodology, is inherently, sufficiently -- and always -- loving. If that was true, then that prepositional phrase is both unnecessary and redundant.

So is it your contention that there are parts of Scripture that are both unnecessary and redundant, or will you concede that it is possible (not necessarily in this post -- I won't ask you to go that far -- but just in general) to present good content with bad methodology?

James Scott Bell said...

One does not need to use extra-biblical language to get the point. It's as if Paul has a hammer and our heads are the anvil. He says it over and over. It's inescapable: whatever Adam's sin brought to all mankind, Christ overcame with no limitation whatsoever. Just read 5:12-21 without any system noise in the background. Then look carefully at the conclusion of Paul's argument, v. 21. You will find the real key there.

Strong Tower said...

I didn't over look nuttin.

There is nothing unnecessary in Scripture, but redundancy is the method more often than not used to convey meaning in Scripture. Redundancy doesn't necessarily mean something bad. It simply means to do again and is used to mean to add to, to insure that there is sufficient means, to provide for the security of one thing by duplication of it.

You assumptions and your prejudices are still showing.

The subject of the post wasn't who was being spoken to. The subject is bad exegetical reasoning. The method is to show the illogical flow of a conversation while explicating the meaning of the words. In short, Phil is showing how this person, even if he were a Martian and not a rapanapist, doesn't know the language usage well enough to make such a dogmatic statement. Prejudice and presupposition color his interpretation, and though the mention that he is a rapanapist might be unnecessary, it might just be pertinent. Regardless, the format is not the problem. And the substance isn't either. But, yes, bad methodology is possible with good content.

Then again, bad methodology might just be the format that draws attention. That doesn't justify the methodology inherently, but it may justify it for its very contradiction, or seeming contradiction. Such as Jesus, the king, humble and contrite, ridding the fole of a ass, whipping the commoners and throwing over tables, destoying legal commerce, in being so gentle and humble and kind, and mild.

The context allows us some latitude, and in this one, there is nothing at all wrong with the presentation except with those who take exception to it.

The Jews were up in arms at Jesus' presentation of his kind and gentle ways. He retort, "By what authority do you do this?" Well, they weren't.

So what? Was he wrong? If what he did was righteous, how about his disciples? Did his disciples learn from it? Atypical as it was? What of others?

What I am not saying is that anything goes, but the reality is, your restrictions are based upon you own prejudicial reading of Scripture. You have called Phil to account. But for what? How did he sin? How can telling a story about a conversation with a real person that didn't reveal the identity of that person even come close to not loving him seeing that by not naming him he was as much, just a myth? And, that was not really your position was it? It was Phil's loving himself of which you were critical. The only way you can get to that is to find something in this post that paints him into that corner. However, the mention of who was being spoken to, as I said above, was merely to indicate that this kind of argumentation can come from many sources and is always the same for all use the wrong logic by not knowing the usage of the words they speak. So this still remains a good exercise, a good way to show the logical morass, and a good way to develope in the original hearer, and the reader about hearer, a sense of how the words should be used.

Matt Burke said...

It seems the real objection is not the methodology but the alleged motivation: a narcissistic desire to show off his superior debating and exegetical skills.

But unless you have inside access to Phil's mind, you're going to have a difficult time making that charge stick.

Brendt said...

I must first apologize for saying "unnecessary and redundant", as the latter implies, as part of its definition, the former. How redudant of me.

I am fully aware of the use of repetition for the sake of emphasis, particularly in Scripture. But there is a difference between repetition and redundancy. But, regardless of that fact, are you actually implying that "in love" is redundant (or even repetitive) to "speaking the truth"?

I never stated nor implied that the "subject of the post [was] who was being spoken to." Given the fact that you mention this seems to point (once again) to emphasis on the content to the dismissal of the methodology.

Frankly, I'd be lying if I said that I understood the relevancy of your illustrations about Jesus. The only thing I can glean is Brendt:Phil::Pharisees:Jesus -- and I'm not sure who should be more bugged by that idea, me or Phil.

Brendt said...

Matt, the real objection is the methodology, though I will admit to privately questioning the motivation.

As to motivation, your statement that one must have "inside access" to another's mind is -- at best -- interesting given all the assumptions made about my motivations allegedly shown by a few comments in one afternoon, relative to those I assume (but try not to air) based on reading years of blog posts.

Matt Burke said...

I haven't made any assumptions about your motivations.

What precisely is your objection to recounting an old discussion?

It seems you are claiming it to be unloving and/or narcissistic.

Brendt said...

Matt, I was not referring to any assumptions you made.

And I have no "objection to recounting an old discussion". Nor with re-re-counting it.

Although, as an aside, I always thought it was considered poor netiquette to quote someone else from a private conversation (e.g. email) without their permission. Not saying that such permission was not granted, but if it was, that's one masochistic anabaptist. ;-)

Regardless, though, this does not come across as merely the "recounting an old discussion".

donsands said...

"One does not need to use extra-biblical language "-JD


“I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give THEM eternal life, and THEY will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.”-Jesus

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for US, who can be against US? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for US ALL, how will he not also with him graciously give US all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's ELECT? It is God who justifies."-Paul

Stefan Ewing said...

Thanks for everyone's interaction.

It looks like there are only two ways to square the circle:

1. The respective federal headships of Adam and Christ;

2. Or something akin to Amyraldianism.

I note that the only person advoctating for (2) here is an Arminian, but nevertheless, these seem to be the only two ways to read Romans 5 in a way that is both internally consistent and within the realm of biblical orthodoxy.

As for Brendt's opinions, I disagree with the idea that the original post was a "smackdown."

I am concerned, however, when we marvel at others' failure to grasp the finer nuances of doctrine (such as differing meanings of "all"), without giving due consideration to the places where we ourselves as biblical Calvinists insist upon the non-negotiable exhaustiveness of "all" in places where it really DOES mean "all," such as in the doctrine of total depravity (e.g., Romans 3:9-20).

Brendt said...

Stefan, you're allowed to disagree with my content and/or my methodology. ;-)

My use of the term was based largely on things like "common sense" being used in the post sub-title, accusations of being "ridiculous" and "worse than ridiculous", and enough bold and italics (hear the voice behind them -- even if you attribute things as generously as possible) to keep the HTML squad busy for a week.

But you raise a very good point in your last paragraph. When I first started embracing Calvinism, some (apparently) Arminian friends were very upset and told me that I was going to become smug, condescending, unbending and overly-certain. I looked at them like they'd grown 2nd and 3rd heads. "Dude, it's me. Remember?"

These days, I know what they're talking about. And I'm finding it harder and harder to find examples that disprove their suspicions.

Regardless, though -- while you're probably too gracious to use the phrase, what you are describing is classically known as a double standard. And you're right -- it is concerning.

Anonymous said...

After stumbling across this article it re-enforces the sickness of christianity I already feel. Look at the amount of time from many peoples lives that has been wasted arguing over the bible and its multiple interpretations. Turn your stupid computers off and spend this time with your family or trying to figure out who the non-elect are.
I appreciate that you think your the real christians but i am quite sure the Creator has not NEVER vindicated your stance as being the chosen ones. Take for instance that a majority of missionary work is performed by people not of your flavor. Seems like if you were the True Christians that the Almighty would have arranged for you guys to be spreading the gospel.Right? Why would God want all these people over seas so confused by all the flavors?

Reality clearly dictates that your flavor of christianity is the wrong one regardless of how well you can make it jive with scripture. You are certainly an educated group which allows you to argue with people quite well. But what good does that do or has ever done? Here we are a group of people that becomes more fractured by the day. I told my wife last week that protestantism is the land of extremes.

Pyromaniacs is yet another site were countless hours are spent arguing and debating with little to show for it.Hey i have an idea, lets spend hours arguing over theology. Gee sounds like fun.

Matt Burke said...

Craig clearly doesn't have the capacity for self-reflection.

Brendt said...

Matt, your comment about Craig (as opposed to your response to him) was pithy, clever, concise, and useless. Are you familiar with the word "microcosm"?