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Thread: Bob's Column

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    Post Bob's Column

    This thread is Bob Higby's contribution to the 5solas.org Blog project.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Gospel Unity and Definite Atonement


    Among the institutional churches professing the system of doctrine known as Calvinism, there has never been a more severe famine than today of the pure Apostolic doctrine of Limited Atonement. Though Particular Redemption has been part of the confessional Reformed heritage from the beginning, only an infrequent tongue-and-cheek assent to the belief can be expected from most pastors. The 'L' in TULIP has become a source of increasing embarrassment to those seeking friendship with the world of professed evangelical churches. It is not likely that a clear and unashamed teaching on the subject will be heard from the pulpit on ANY Sunday, much less on the day that the world designates as Easter! Yet the gospel of the incorporation of a saved people into Christ's resurrection is the very matter that is supposed to ring forth with clarity!

    I have been a defender of the Gospel as the only basis of Unity for the last 25 years. Contrary to many denominations, I do not accept the notion that a valid form of Christian unity is a day of the week, an exact and precise administration of water, a form of church government, tithing, or similar external practices. Most conflicts on such matters are a symptom of ignorance of aspects of the gospel, yet men try and find solutions by passing laws. When true gospel unity is achieved, there is no issue on any such matter that cannot be resolved with study of the Word and submission to the Holy Spirit. Naturally, some differences on these issues will always have to be accommodated in the Christian community.

    Is Definite Atonement a part of the gospel? Most definitely! Therefore it is a paramount issue of gospel unity. We cannot worship and commune unreservedly with those who promote the destructive doctrine of Amyraldianism, any more than we can worship and commune freely with those who promote the heresy of free-will. The Calvinistic world has largely become accepting of both Arminians and Amyraldians as our brothers and sisters in Christ within orthodoxy. This is a sad and very dangerous trend, because it compromises the sum and substance of the gospel itself.

    The cherishing of the false doctrine of Common Grace is the most prominent cause of the destruction of the teaching on Limited Atonement. In the teaching of Common Grace, a universalist element is introduced into the proposed benefits of the atonement. The daily blessings given to non-elect persons are proposed to be purchased by the blood of Christ. Once ANY teaching of universal non-redemptive grace is introduced into the reasoning of atonement doctrine, the end-result after generations will be the full confession of Amyraldianism. It matters not how many respected teachers of the past supported such a perversion. If the New Testament doctrine of Particular Redemption is ever to shine forth with clarity, the damnable doctrine of Common Grace must be condemned and renounced. Until it is, teachers believing it will inevitably return to ‘4- point Calvinism’ as their cherished belief. But that is only one-step down in the slippery slope of unbelief. Ultimately, if life lasts long enough, a full return to the Justinian heresy of free-will will be the outcome.

    It is one thing to be ignorant of the full implications of Definite Atonement to the gospel for a time. A new Christian might exercise faith in Christ's person and work of salvation--yet fail to discern the error and inconsistency of many universal atonement shibboleths. It is certainly possible that excellent teachers of the past on other matters have been deceived on aspects of this matter. But it is a different matter altogether for those who know the truth to embrace as brothers those who teach universal atonement as their gospel. We can pray for them and dialog with them if it doesn't involve compromise. But as to the true believers in their midst, our mission—if we love the gospel in its fullness--is to call them out of Babylon. We must boldly proclaim the truth of the atonement as it relates to the gospel; exposing the fallacy and deception of a message that proclaims a non-redemptive redemption and an atonement for those who are in hell.

    The doctrine of universal salvation, if grounded in the true gospel, would be greatly less of a heresy than the teaching of a universal atonement that is powerless to save. We can imagine the efforts to reason biblically that would be taken to correct a person deceived by gospel universalism. Let us be tenfold as determined to correct those deceived by free-will or Amyraldian universalism!

    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Re: Bob's Column

    The Destructive Teaching of Hypothetical Universalism

    Many professed Calvinists see no harm in the doctrine that Christ potentially saved all humankind through his atoning work. The number of popular theologians and pastors holding to an Amyraldian position is as high or higher than it has ever been. The salaried Calvinist teachers of the land reverence these celebrities with extremely unholy laud, while never preaching Bible predestination to the lost and rarely preaching it to their own congregations. Of course, no high-grace Calvinist will ever be quoted publicly by these men. Yet week after week, they laud popular evan-jelly-fish teachers from the pulpit and put their books on table display in the lobby. This is happening almost universally in churches that profess to be 100% Reformed in doctrine!

    I, for one, am never convinced that an interest in hypothetical universalism is the fruit of Spirit-filled Bible study. The paradox hermeneutic used to support it is the same as that used to bolster free-will Pelagianism, Roman Catholicism, Lutheran sacramentalism, Wesleyan Arminianism, and gospel (Barthian) universalism. The exceptional and idomatic verses in scripture are quoted and dissected in such a way as to cast doubt upon aspects of the core gospel of the New Testament. Since I am convinced that all desire to cast disrepute on the apostolic kerygma is wicked, I believe that promoters of these teachings are searching the scriptures (like the Pharisees of old) to prove that the presuppositions they want to believe are true.

    The motive behind Calvinistic hypothetical universalism has always been ecumenical. Roger Nicole admitted this in a Ph.D. dissertation on Amyraut written at Harvard in 1966. If the perceived ‘harshness’ of Calvinism could be tempered with a sense of God’s universal love and grace, Amyraut reasoned, then a basis for ecumenical worship and mutual acceptance would exist between Calvinists, Arminians, Lutherans, and Catholics.

    Some who don’t want to go ‘all the way’ with 4-point Calvinism have often asked, "What is wrong with at least proposing that Christ’s atonement is sufficient for all humankind?" Well, where does the Bible ever argue in this terminology? If God purposed to save a specific people through Christ’s atoning sacrifice, why are we posing ‘what if’ questions to try and potentially extend the atonement to others: "What if God purposed to save everyone—the atonement is sufficient to achieve this, right?" Ironically, in the Western theology of Anselm, the fact that God is bound to honor his own justice is what prevents him from saving all persons! Some must be passed over to honor the law. The bottom line is, if Christ’s atonement is sufficient to save every person, then God in the end sends billions of redeemable people to hell. Such a paradox does not bid well for perceiving Christ as the wisdom of God in his eternal and glorious purposes.

    If the doctrine of God’s exclusive purpose of atonement toward his elect is in any way compromised, the stage is set to compromise more and more:
    1. The blessed assurance of salvation to the individual elect soul will suffer, since God is proposed to exercise a measure of redemptive love and grace to the non-elect also. How does a Christian know that his sense of God’s acceptance is not ‘common assurance’ proceeding from ‘common grace’ purchased by a ‘common atonement’? He doesn’t, if the position is followed through to its logical end. Unless God’s immutable and exclusive grace toward an elect people in Christ is grasped in faith, assurance is watered-down and cannot survive forever.
    2. The confidence of the immutability of God’s character and purposes in the plan of salvation will suffer. In the pernicious doctrine of common grace, God cherishes and loves emotionally the reprobate for a time, earnestly desiring their salvation. But because the law will not allow him to save them, his emotions change at some point when great sin is committed. God’s anger then burns hot, he condemns and kills them, and the justice of the law is carried out in their everlasting torture in hell. Of course, the same scenario is true in reverse with the damnable doctrine of common wrath—God emotionally hates his people for a time because of original sin and only later turns his emotions to love them and extend his grace for eternity.
    In the end, according to the Schaff-Herzog encylopedia, it appears that Amyraut came to see the folly and irrationality of his entire position and renounced it. But those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it--OVER AND OVER AND OVER. Why not learn from the example of Amyraut himself and avoid going down that road ever again? I believe that if we learn from the Holy Spirit and study the Bible with a hermeneutic based purely on the gospel of grace, we will.



    Comments: http://www.predestinarian.net/showth...0729#post30729
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Calvin on God's Unitary Will

    Many expositors claiming the name of Calvinism today hate the doctrine of God’s unitary will. Great effort has been taken to find snippets of material from Calvin that harmonize with later Puritans, Spurgeon, and Dabney who taught a synthesis of paradoxical and conflicting wills in God. I am going to post a section of Book I, chapter XVIII from Calvin's Institutes that unquestionably make his doctrine clear on this matter. Calvin condemns in no uncertain terms the very arguments of low-grace Puritans and Fullerites who name themselves after him.

    A very important distinction that Calvin enumerates is the difference between will and precept in scripture. The WILL of God (boulemai and thelo in the Greek) does not refer to the the COMMANDMENTS of God. God’s will is his purpose, his passion, his lust, his determination to carry out all that he wishes. That is the meaning of the biblical usage. Yet most expositors today carelessly refer to the precepts of God and the will of God as equivalent entities.

    Some will point out that there are those who are ‘outside’ of God’s will according to statements of Christ in the synoptic gospels and a few other NT verses. It is important to understand the extreme difference between the concept of God’s will involving a limited scope, as taught by certain NT scriptures, and the doctrine of paradoxical and conflicting wills of God. Gordon Clark in his Predestination has done an excellent job of explaining the synoptic use, which basically means God’s KINGDOM WILL. Some miss God’s passion in his kingdom purposes simply because they are not predestined to enter the kingdom. However, in no way does this mean that reprobates are outside of God’s sovereign will in the broader sense—as testified to by many other passages of scripture.

    The proposition being defended is that God has one unified purpose for all created things and his passions are never in conflict. In other words, God always gets everything he wants in the events of history and has no contrary passion. Here is Calvin:

    Their first objection--that if nothing happens without the will of God, he must have two contrary wills, decreeing by a secret counsel what he has openly forbidden in his law--is easily disposed of. But before I reply to it, I would again remind my readers, that this cavil is directed not against me, but against the Holy Spirit, who certainly dictated this confession to that holy man Job, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away," when, after being plundered by robbers, he acknowledges that their injustice and mischief was a just chastisement from God. And what says the Scripture elsewhere? The sons of Eli "hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the Lord would slay them," (1 Sam. 2:25). Another prophet also exclaims, "Our God is in the heavens: he has done whatsoever he has pleased," (Ps. 115:3). I have already shown clearly enough that God is the author of all those things which, according to these objectors, happen only by his inactive permission. He testifies that he creates light and darkness, forms good and evil (Is. 45:7); that no evil happens which he has not done (Amos 3:6). Let them tell me whether God exercises his Judgments willingly or unwillingly. As Moses teaches that he who is accidentally killed by the blow of an axe, is delivered by God into the hand of him who smites him (Deut. 19:5), so the Gospel, by the mouth of Luke, declares, that Herod and Pontius Pilate conspired "to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done," (Acts 4:28). And, in truth, if Christ was not crucified by the will of God, where is our redemption? Still, however, the will of God is not at variance with itself. It undergoes no change. He makes no pretence of not willing what he wills, but while in himself the will is one and undivided, to us it appears manifold, because, from the feebleness of our intellect, we cannot comprehend how, though after a different manner, he wills and wills not the very same thing. Paul terms the calling of the Gentiles a hidden mystery, and shortly after adds, that therein was manifested the manifold wisdom of God (Eph. 3:10). Since, on account of the dullness of our sense, the wisdom of God seems manifold (or, as an old interpreter rendered it, multiform), are we, therefore, to dream of some variation in God, as if he either changed his counsel, or disagreed with himself? Nay, when we cannot comprehend how God can will that to be done which he forbids us to do, let us call to mind our imbecility, and remember that the light in which he dwells is not without cause termed inaccessible (1 Tim. 6:16), because shrouded in darkness. Hence, all pious and modest men will readily acquiesce in the sentiment of Augustine: "Man sometimes with a good will wishes something which God does not will, as when a good son wishes his father to live, while God wills him to die. Again, it may happen that man with a bad will wishes what God wills righteously, as when a bad son wishes his father to die, and God also wills it. The former wishes what God wills not, the latter wishes what God also wills. And yet the filial affection of the former is more consonant to the good will of God, though willing differently, than the unnatural affection of the latter, though willing the same thing; so much does approbation or condemnation depend on what it is befitting in man, and what in God to will, and to what end the will of each has respect. For the things which God rightly wills, he accomplishes by the evil wills of bad men,"--(August. Enchirid. ad Laurent. cap. 101). He had said a little before (cap. 100), that the apostate angels, by their revolt, and all the reprobate, as far as they themselves were concerned, did what God willed not; but, in regard to his omnipotence, it was impossible for them to do so: for, while they act against the will of God, his will is accomplished in them. Hence he exclaims, "Great is the work of God, exquisite in all he wills! so that, in a manner wondrous and ineffable, that is not done without his will which is done contrary to it, because it could not be done if he did not permit; nor does he permit it unwillingly, but willingly; nor would He who is good permit evil to be done, were he not omnipotent to bring good out of evil," (Augustin. in Ps. 111:2).

    4. In the same way is solved, or rather spontaneously vanishes, another objection--viz. If God not only uses the agency of the wicked, but also governs their counsels and affections, he is the author of all their sins; and, therefore, men, in executing what God has decreed, are unjustly condemned, because they are obeying his will. Here will is improperly confounded with precept, though it is obvious, from innumerable examples, that there is the greatest difference between them.14
    [2] When Absalom defiled his father's bed, though God was pleased thus to avenge the adultery of David, he did not therefore enjoin an abandoned son to commit incest, unless, perhaps, in respect of David, as David himself says of Shimei's curses. For, while he confesses that Shimei acts by the order of God, he by no means commends the obedience, as if that petulant dog had been yielding obedience to a divine command; but, recognising in his tongue the scourge of God, he submits patiently to be chastised. Thus we must hold, that while by means of the wicked God performs what he had secretly decreed, they are not excusable as if they were obeying his precept, which of set purpose they violate according to their lust.

    How these things, which men do perversely, are of God, and are ruled by his secret providence, is strikingly shown in the election of King Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:20), in which the rashness and infatuation of the people are severely condemned for perverting the order sanctioned by God, and perfidiously revolting from the family of David. And yet we know it was God's will that Jeroboam should be anointed. Hence the apparent contradiction in the words of Hosea (Hosea 8:4; 13:11), because, while God complained that that kingdom was erected without his knowledge, and against his will, he elsewhere declares, that he had given King Jeroboam in his anger. How shall we reconcile the two things,--that Jeroboam's reign was not of God, and yet God appointed him king? In this way: The people could not revolt from the family of David without shaking off a yoke divinely imposed on them, and yet God himself was not deprived of the power of thus punishing the ingratitude of Solomon. We, therefore, see how God, while not willing treachery, with another view justly wills the revolt; and hence Jeroboam, by unexpectedly receiving the sacred unction, is urged to aspire to the kingdom. For this reason, the sacred history says, that God stirred up an enemy to deprive the son of Solomon of part of the kingdom (1 Kings 11:23). Let the reader diligently ponder both points: how, as it was the will of God that the people should be ruled by the hand of one king, their being rent into two parties was contrary to his will; and yet how this same will originated the revolt. For certainly, when Jeroboam, who had no such thought, is urged by the prophet verbally, and by the oil of unction, to hope for the kingdom, the thing was not done without the knowledge or against the will of God, who had expressly commanded it; and yet the rebellion of the people is justly condemned, because it was against the will of God that they revolted from the posterity of David. For this reason, it is afterwards added, that when Rehoboam haughtily spurned the prayers of the people, "the cause was from the Lord, that he might perform his saying, which the Lord spake by Ahijah," (I Kings 12:15). See how sacred unity was violated against the will of God, while, at the same time, with his will the ten tribes were alienated from the son of Solomon. To this might be added another similar example--viz. the murder of the sons of Ahab, and the extermination of his whole progeny by the consent, or rather the active agency, of the people. Jehu says truly "There shall fall unto the earth nothing of the word of the Lord, which the Lord spake concerning the house of Ahab: for the Lord has done that which he spake by his servant Elijah," (2 Kings 10:10). And yet, with good reason, he upbraids the citizens of Samaria for having lent their assistance. "Ye be righteous: behold, I conspired against my master, and slew him, but who slew all these?"

    If I mistake not, I have already shown clearly how the same act at once betrays the guilt of man, and manifests the righteousness of God. Modest minds will always be satisfied with Augustine's answer, "Since the Father delivered up the Son, Christ his own body, and Judas his Master, how in such a case is God just, and man guilty, but just because in the one act which they did, the reasons for which they did it are different?" (August. Ep. 48, ad Vincentium). If any are not perfectly satisfied with this explanation--viz. that there is no concurrence between God and man, when by His righteous impulse man does what he ought not to do, let them give heed to what Augustine elsewhere observes: "Who can refrain from trembling at those Judgments when God does according to his pleasure even in the hearts of the wicked, at the same time rendering to them according to their deeds?" (De Grat. et lib. Arbit. ad Valent. c. 20). And certainly, in regard to the treachery of Judas, there is just as little ground to throw the blame of the crime upon God, because He was both pleased that his Son should be delivered up to death, and did deliver him, as to ascribe to Judas the praise of our redemption. Hence Augustine, in another place, truly observes, that when God makes his scrutiny, he looks not to what men could do, or to what they did, but to what they wished to do, thus taking account of their will and purpose. Those to whom this seems harsh had better consider how far their captiousness is entitled to any toleration, while, on the ground of its exceeding their capacity, they reject a matter which is clearly taught by Scripture, and complain of the enunciation of truths, which, if they were not useful to be known, God never would have ordered his prophets and apostles to teach. Our true wisdom is to embrace with meek docility, and without reservation, whatever the Holy Scriptures, have delivered. Those who indulge their petulance, a petulance manifestly directed against God, are undeserving of a longer refutation.

    Comments: http://www.predestinarian.net/showthread.php?t=2065

    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    The Incomparable Joy of Predestinarian Faith

    Dr. George Ella states this most timely and relevant truth in the Letters section of the April/May issue of New Focus magazine:

    One conventionalism in professedly ‘Reformed’ magazines, is to regard themselves as the yardstick of what ‘Calvinistic’ means throughout all their changing expressions of it. Their modern fashion is to use Freudian psychoanalysis to bring down our Sovereign God nearer to the ruined psyche of man, speaking of His will being different from his desire. They even declare that God’s behavior and His Word reflect His paradoxical nature. They tell us that God’s sunny-side has designed a gospel of salvation for all but His shadowy side will not allow men to receive it. This, they say, is the Reformed faith as taught by Paul, Augustine, and Calvin. The corollary these Job’s comforters give us is that because the gospel significance of God’s nature as a means of grace is rendered ineffective, obedience to the Mosaic law as an unchanging standard must be emphasized all the more. Man needs a guide and this must be found in law as grace is a mere psychogenetic paradox The trustees, editors and writers of these new divinity publications have thus published articles recently condemning Go Publications and its organ New Focus as Hyper-Calvinistic and Antinomian, pathologically diagnosing that such as ourselves do not "confront their hearers with the immediate responsibility of trusting Christ, directly encouraging them to trust him, and appealing to them to do so now!"

    Happily, on examination, these sub-evangelists’ definitions of Hyper-Calvinism and Antinomianism indicate that their Hyper-Calvinists are more Bible-oriented than they are and their Antinomians are, in fact, Anti-Legalists. So these Freudian stones thrown at us lose their hurting power.
    Such a psycho-neurotic gospel which describes God as being eternally in conflict with His own nature, with His basic instincts contradicted by His controlling power, is a dangerous psychosis at best and a blasphemous religion at its worst. We therefore feel ourselves fully justified in preaching the old-time religion of a Trinity of Unity and an infallible Bible which enable us to go into all the world preaching the full gospel to all men everywhere so that God might add daily to His Kingdom such as are saved. Only by preaching the full gospel of our immutable God can full salvation ensue. What use is a ‘free-offer’ if it is a mock-gospel which is freely offered?

    Dr. Ella in this letter defends the incomparable gospel truths of sovereign grace that we at 5solas are trying to uphold! He does so with a brilliance, conviction, and passion that exceed the writings of most men. What a contrast between this gospel truth and the nauseous shibboleths of neo-Spurgeonism and Dabneyism--which have become the supposedly ‘irrefutable’ standard of the immensely dark and apostate times of post-modern 'Calvinism (?)'!

    I enjoy my predestinarian faith! Being grounded in the eternal grace of Jesus Christ that was purposed by a most wonderful and sovereign God, this faith exposes the doctrinal wares of the churchmen described by Dr. Ella as mere drivel. I do not need to be scolded for having ‘too high’ of a view of election--one that needs to be balanced by a sense of the ‘fearfulness’ of ‘responsibility.’ Neither does anyone else! There is nothing that exalts my love for Christ and desire to serve him more than the glorious realization of his grace in election without works! I pity those who claim that their prayer life, zeal for evangelism, and desire to serve God is hindered by a high view of grace and predestination. May the Lord grant them repentance and the true joy of the everlasting gospel!

    Comments: http://www.predestinarian.net/showthread.php?t=2143
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    The Travail of Christian History

    The history of formal Christian witness is rich with extreme sorrow and disappointment. The record of what we know as ‘Christianity’ is an entity that reminds us, more than anything else, of the truth expressed by the Psalmist that man’s days are filled with trouble and sorrow (Ps. 90:10). After the great apostasy prophesied by Paul to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20 came to fruition, mankind experienced (though not usually acknowledged!) a horrible event characterized by the greatest time of trouble mankind has known or will ever know (Dan. 12:1). This is the great tribulation, so unrecognized and passed over by ignorant humans. The incredible and ‘foolish’ gospel revealed to Paul, which was and is the ultimate revelation of truth by God in all history past, present, or future; was trampled underfoot by wicked and ungrateful men. How could members of the human race that ‘accepted the word with joy’ (Mk. 4:14) end up fighting against the gospel with all their might? This is the mystery of iniquity!

    The scholars of Christianity search for and covet an indisputable and documented succession of continuous witnesses to gospel truth in history. Reformed theologians are certainly no exception to this rule. Both confessional Reformed / Presbyterian teachers AND ‘trail of blood’ Baptist nonconformists have earnestly sought to find such a line of faithful testimonies. But there is no such documented line of witnesses! Men search in vain for such proof of man’s loyalty to the gospel. Anyone who claims that such an unbroken succession of written truth exists is promoting historical revisionism. There is a great desire to bolster a notion of historical loyalty by a large number to the doctrine of free and sovereign Grace. This event never took place.

    We do not have the written testimony of many gospel believers throughout Christian history. The Papacy MAY possess some of their writings sealed in their vaults, although there is certainly no guarantee of this speculation. But if we examine the published writings of what are commonly known as the ‘fathers’ of Christianity after the apostles, we come up mostly empty on the gospel. Reformed and Lutheran scholars have taken mere snippets of gospel language in these writings and promoted them as evidence that the ‘fathers’ were loyal to the gospel itself! But this claim of loyalty is baseless. Unless the PRIMARY passion of an ordained teacher is the gospel of justification by grace through faith in Christ’s person and work, in the context of Divine election, he is not speaking the truth. He is rather speaking awful lies and deception leading many persons to damnation.

    Justin Martyr had and wrote NO truth of the gospel whatsoever. He promoted the deceptive lies of free-will Platonism in his first Apology. No scholar of institutional Christianity will admit and confess this fact. If such an awful admission of the truth actually materialized, teachers would have to admit that their notion of the ‘pure and absolute truth’ of the confessions is false. The Protestant confessions contain eloquent defenses of gospel truth--but are at the same time contrary to the gospel in many elements of sacramental and nomian baggage that distort the glory of pure and exalted Grace.

    No published ‘church father’, especially from the 2nd and 3rd centuries, promoted the true and unadulterated gospel with holy passion! When will we finally admit this truth? Until we do, little progress can be made toward recovering the doctrine of the apostles.

    Comments: http://www.predestinarian.net/showthread.php?t=2171
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    God's Sovereignty in Hardening Reprobate Hearts

    "Therefore he has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens." (Rom. 9:18)

    "Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?" (Rom. 9:21)

    "Then I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, so that he will pursue them; and I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD." (Ex. 14:4)


    What is involved in God’s act of hardening the hearts of reprobate souls? Is it merely a withdrawal of external worldly constraint, as so many expositors would have us believe? Those who labor diligently to uphold such a position are operating with the long-cherished assumption that God does not create evil or wickedness in the hearts of creatures. So the only way to explain away the biblical assertion that God hardens hearts is to propose that God could not possibly have actually done anything within the heart! Supposedly, the Lord took away restraining circumstances that kept Pharoah’s heart "in check."

    The ‘removal of restraint’ interpretation would actually have us believe the opposite of what scripture explicitly teaches regarding God’s actions in the Exodus event. The Lord multiplied plagues and misery upon Egypt and Pharoah. The external circumstances sent were those that have caused the humiliation of many otherwise proud men into the dust, fearing even greater retribution and sorrow. But in conjunction with the increasing judgments that God sent upon Pharoah, the Lord correspondingly hardened Pharoah’s heart more rigidly against even a nominal repentance that would avoid temporal suffering. The hardening was separate from the sending of terrible calamity. The more suffering that Pharoah endured, the more determined he became to rebel against God in his thoughts and actions.

    It is precisely the Lord’s constant determination of the condition of each and every heart that is the basis of the foreordaining of evil. If evil is unleashed merely by a removal of restraint, the exact course of that evil is somewhat unpredictable. So the doctrine that God merely permits or allows evil by removing his restraining presence must logically view history as a synthesis of God’s predetermination and mere foreknowledge of what will happen (in the case of evil bearing fruit), as does the Arminian. Such a synthesis completely fails to reconcile the paradox that the lack of pre-determination of the precise course of evil, which would be accomplished by controlling the exact sentiments of the hearts of creatures at all times, makes the pre-determination of a desired part of history (the triumph of Grace and salvation) in jeopardy. There can be no reconciliation between a teaching of absolute foreordination and one of partial ‘abstract’ foreknowledge, ever.

    To all eternity, the Lord never abandons his sovereign determination of every sentiment of every creature. He presently sustains Belial in his work of deception, insuring that every desire of the devil’s heart will result in the exact course of thought and action that has been determined beforehand. Although the seed of reprobation is present in the non-elect from the very beginning of existence, God directs the sentiments of reprobation in such a manner that there is an increase in wicked desire and action. The seed is planted, watered, grows, and comes to fruition. This is how God hardens hearts, he makes the heart more wicked. As in the case of Pharoah, all such action by God is for the ultimate purpose of bringing glory and pleasure to himself and all his saints!

    Replies: http://www.predestinarian.net/showth...2827#post32827
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    John's Gospel vs. Low Grace Evangelicalism

    But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. John 20:31

    John is the only book of scripture addressed to the world at large, including unbelievers. Therefore we would do well to examine the typical methods and emphases of evangelicalism and compare them to the apostolic testimony.

    1. Pious special pleading.

    Evangelicalism is full of the use of persuasive technique, the most common of which consists of a pious special pleading for the salvation of souls. The evangelist sheds public tears over the prospect of a single soul being eternally lost, then pleads and urges all to receive Jesus Christ as the only savior from sin and hell. In some churches this occurs at every service. A strong belief exists that souls must be COMPELLED into the kingdom or we have failed in our testimony. Some go so far as to say that our own salvation lies in doubt if we do not agonize publicly and plead personally for any soul who is not yet a believer.

    The gospel of John has no such emphasis. The facts regarding Christ’s identity as God and saving work on behalf of sinners are plainly stated for all to read and believe or scorn. A passionate hope is expressed that the reader will believe and enter life everlasting. An acknowledgment is also stated by Christ himself (John 10:24-26) that those not ordained to life WILL DISBELIEVE these plain facts. We should not expect that all will believe; God wants to be glorified by a damned people as well as a saved people. It is due to a miracle of God’s sovereign grace that ANY person believes to whom we communicate gospel realities. There are undoubtedly Christians in history who never witnessed a single soul believing their testimony.

    2. Hell evangelism.

    Nothing characterizes evangelicalism more than the emphasis of accepting Christ to escape hell. This is really another form of pious special pleading. If the fire is heated hot enough and the extreme pain of unending torture is made vivid enough to the hearer, it is believed, the way of escape will be so desired that the message of Jesus will be welcomed with inestimable gratitude.

    Hardly anything is more disgraceful than the preaching of hell as a tool of evangelism. The word ‘hell’ is not even found in the gospel of John. There is only one passage focused on the destiny of reprobates:

    For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. John 5:26-29

    This is all that the lost world needs to know about cosmology as related to the damned. Those who do evil and laugh at the gospel will face a resurrection of damnation. It is enough to state that reprobates will stand before God to receive their just condemnation. We don’t need to explain further what this condemnation involves. No preaching of hell-fire ever converted a single soul. Instead, God works the miracle of regeneration through his constraining love joined to the incomparable gospel of grace in Christ! The preaching of eternal life to those that believe the gospel is the focus and message of John.

    3. Avoid election.

    Loraine Boettner is typical of evangelicalism’s awful poppycock on this subject. The quotation to follow represents low-grace Calvinism at its worst, extracted from a book which is otherwise excellent on many issues:

    The doctrine of Predestination is a doctrine for genuine Christians. Considerable caution should be exercised in preaching it to the unconverted. It is almost impossible to convince a non-Christian of its truthfulness, and in fact the heart of the unregenerate man usually revolts against it. If it is stressed before the simpler truths of the Christian system are mastered, it will likely be misunderstood and in that case it may only drive the person into deeper despair. In preaching to the unconverted or to those who are just beginning the Christian life, our part consists mainly in presenting and stressing man’s part in the work of salvation, –faith, repentance, moral reform, etc. These are the elementary steps so far as man’s consciousness extends. At that early stage little need be said about the deeper truths which relate to God’s part. As in the study of Mathematics we do not begin with algebra and calculus but with the simple problems of arithmetic, so here the better way is to first present the more elementary truths. Then after the person is saved and has traveled some distance in the Christian way he comes to see that in his salvation God’s work was primary and his was only secondary, that he was saved through grace and not by his own works. The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination (Presbyterian and Reformed, Philadephia, 1971), pp. 348-349.

    I cannot express in words what terrible nonsense this is. The statement condemns itself purely by its own utterance in light of the message of grace.

    John’s gospel is very clear on the truth of election to eternal life by God’s grace apart from the will of man (1:13, 6:37-40, 10:14-16,27-30, 17:6-23). Apparently, Jesus and John were not aware of the ‘great wisdom’ of Spurgeon and Boettner on this subject! Neither Jesus nor John tried to institute a code of silence on the doctrine of predestination when teaching the unconverted. The truth that Christ came only for his sheep given to him by the Father is openly taught. In addition, there is no teaching that the sheep were unjustified prior to regeneration. Christ proclaims that he NOW has sheep not of the Jewish fold that ALL sheep hear his voice when it is sounded. They were always sheep in God’s election and predestined plan. This completely abolishes the ridiculous and absurd doctrine of common wrath. God loves and justifies his sheep TRANSCENDENT of time and at all moments WITHIN time.

    4. Avoid reprobation.

    This examination would not be complete without a look at the doctrine of reprobation in John. The evan-jellyfish world (including low-grace Calvinism) denies positive reprobation entirely. God supposedly wants all to be saved and mourns at the damnation of the lost. What saith the scriptures?

    I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. John 8:39-47

    Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. 25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. 26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. John 10:24-26

    The seed of the devil does NOT consist of the sheep of Christ in their sins and rebellion BEFORE they are called and hear his voice. The doctrine of common fall is completely absent from the teaching of John. The seed of Satan consists of reprobates who were NEVER the sheep of Christ and whom God does not purpose to save. They have the same spirit of sin and rebellion as their father Satan; not merely the substance or essence of sin and rebellion that the elect have before conversion.


    The gospel is a joyful, powerful, and simple testimony. At stake is eternal life vs. eternal death. We are to announce or publish the truth of Jesus Christ to a lost world, knowing confidently that the Lord will gather all of his sheep to the resurrection of life and all the devil’s children to the resurrection of damnation. God takes pleasure in BOTH destinies!

    Comments:

    http://www.predestinarian.net/showth...3908#post33908
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    A Fresh Examination of Bible Truth on Christ's Final Advent

    Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Acts 1:11

    And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. Heb. 9:27.28

    After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. Mt. 25:19

    And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Mt. 25:10

    Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Mt. 24:44

    Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. Mt. 23:34-36

    Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Mt. 24:32-39

    And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns. The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth. Rev. 17

    And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. Rev. 19:11-16

    For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thess. 4:16-18

    And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. 2 Thess. 1:7-10

    Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thess. 2:3-12

    There is no teaching of scripture more sure and certain than that of Christ’s final advent, which will end the present world and consummate all things. More than any other phenomenon, the Preterist movement has caused many Christians to doubt the certainty and reality of cosmic redemption. But the whole premise of the Preterist system is faulty. It is based on a doubtful interpretation of he genea haute (this generation) in Mt. 24:34. If the interpretation is wrong, the whole system falls to the ground. Robert Morgentaler writes of the expression as used in the New Testament:
    In these passages the demonstrative has a pejorative character, i.e. the reference is to a class of people who in this world stand over against the children of light and are further described as faithless (Mk. 9:19), faithless and perverse (Matt. 17:17), adulterous (Mk. 8:38), evil and adulterous (Mt. 12:39), evil (Lk. 11:29), crooked (Acts 2:40), crooked and perverse (Phil. 2:15). The Song of Moses in Deut. 32 (vv. 5 and 20) seems here to have had a certain influence on the wording. In these passages the temporal, ‘genealogical’ element is completely absent. The emphasis lies entirely on the sinfulness of this class, this type of people. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 2, (Zondervan, 1976) p. 36.

    The expression refers to a race or class of people that will not pass away until the events prophesied by Christ have been fulfilled. It has nothing to do with a promise that at least one person then living would still be physically alive on earth when all of the prophesies reach fulfillment.. Such a notion goes against the very statement of Jesus that no one knows the day or hour of the events surrounding his final advent, nor of the advent itself. In the estimation of this writer, Christ is referring to the race of unbelieving and scoffing Jews. This race will be preserved to the very end and will continue to suffer the temporal wrath of God until the eschaton; Jerusalem (representing Talmudic Judaism) will be trampled underfoot throughout the entire gospel era.

    Some Preterists are so dogmatic on the meaning of ‘this generation’ that they propose the Zacharias mentioned by Christ in Mt. 23 to be the father of John the Baptist! This is because Christ accuses the Pharisees (‘this generation’) of his Zacharias’ death and promises that judgment for the guilt of such murders will come upon them. But such strained interpretation is only necessary when a faulty view of a ‘generation’ is adopted. Again, the reference of a generation strictly referring to ‘those now living’ is foreign to the meaning of Christ.

    Another teaching that needs to be challenged, to a lesser degree, is Futurism or ‘last generation’ dogma. This is the notion that the ‘showdown’ of the ages between the gospel and its enemies will concentrate in a short time-span in the last days prior to Christ’s final advent. The premise of futurism is largely based on passages such as Rev. 17, which refers to a future resurrection of a beastly kingdom after its present manifestation (in the time of John) is destroyed. But this passage is only evidence that the great pseudo-Christian apostasy prophesied by Paul would finally become united with the power of government and carry out a great persecution of true Christians. That manifestation of beastly power had not yet occurred in the first century. So the issue of this prophecy has to do with a future dimension to the persecuting power of government: the rise of pseudo-Christian religion to the level of state-sanctioned murder.

    There is no unfulfilled prophecy in the Bible except the final appearance of Jesus Christ. In the very hour that man thinks the Lord cannot come, he will descend from heaven with all his saints and angels. History will suddenly come to its predestined climax! The kingdoms of both light and darkness will continue to grow and bear additional fruit until that moment. How much further each will grow none can tell. The world today looks very much like the situation that Christ describes will exist on the day of his coming. We can only remain prepared and anxious to see Christ’s face at any time–whether at our personal death or at the eschaton. But all things will not forever continue as they have since the beginning of creation. History has its appointed goal, the glorious appearing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!


    Comments: http://www.predestinarian.net/newrep...uote=1&p=34849
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Dabney's Bipolar God

    The false teachings of Robert Lewis Dabney on the doctrine of God have become almost the universal rule of doctrine in the massive number of churches professing the Calvinist name. Dabney proposes more extensively than any other theologian that God is not worthy of worship if his wisdom is in perfect harmony with his desire to show mercy. Thus we have a multitude of souls today professing Calvinism who affirm that they CANNOT and WILL NOT worship a God whose sovereign will AND DESIRE is unitary. They dogmatically claim that the God whom WE worship is like unto the devil.

    Here are a few brief excerpts from Dabney’s Discussions, Volume One in the chapter "God’s Indiscriminate Proposals of Mercy":

    Do all the solemn and tender entreaties of God to sinners express no more, as to the non-elect, than a purpose in God, uncompassionate and merely rectoral, to acquit himself of his legislative function towards them? (NO and we do not believe or teach this). To speak after the manner of men, have all these apparently touching appeals after all no heart in them? We cannot but deem it as unfortunate logic which constrains a man to this view of them. How much more simple and satisfactory to take them for just what they express?–evidences of a true compassion, which yet is restrained, in the case of the unknown class, the non-elect, by consistent and holy reasons, from taking the form of a volition to regenerate . . . The plain Christian mind will ever stumble on this fatal question, how can a truthful and consistent God have two opposite wills about the same object? It is far more scriptural, and, as we trust has been shown, far more logical to say, that an immutable and sovereign God never had but one will, one purpose, or volition, as to this lost man; as a faithful God would never publish any other volition than the one he entertained; but that it was entirely consistent for God to be compassionate where he never purposed nor promised to to save, because this sincere compassion was restrained within the limits God announced by his own wisdom.

    Some better solution must be found, then, of this wondrous and blessed paradox, of omnipotent love lamenting those whom yet it did not save . . . The plain and obvious meaning of the history gives us the best solution; that God does have compassion for the reprobate, but not express volition to save them, because his infinite wisdom regulates his whole will and guides and harmonizes (not suppresses) all its active principles.

    Does he [God] not glorify his justice by punishing the evil, after he has overruled it for good? It is, then, but the application of this method when God makes the sincere offer of mercy through Christ to a Judas{why not Satan too?}first glorify his infinite love and placability, and then, when it is slighted, as was permissively decreed, {Dabney here totally denies his ‘one will of God’ affirmed earlier, promoting more paradox theology} illustrate the stubbornness of Judas’s sin as a deadly voluntary evil, and also God’s clear justice in destroying him. This is just what God says he does under the gospel . . . Thus, we can take all the gospel declarations concerning Christ’s sacrifice to mean just what they express, and we are relieved from the necessity of all tortuous exegesis.

    Some online passages from Dabney further revealing his impassioned commitment to Common Grace & 4 ½ point Calvinism can be found at the following link to Phil Johnson’s website:

    http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/dabney/st5.htm

    The arguments of Dabney are a subtle re-affirmation of the old proposition of Anselm that God owes his actions to a ‘higher principle’ of eternal law, justice, and wisdom. Therefore he is unable to do what he really wants to (save all men) but sincerely offers salvation nonetheless. In this view, God is required by this higher principle to obey and honor the eternal law against his own desire and will; forever mourning over the wicked whom he was forced to send to eternal torture in spite of his desire to show mercy. God does not accomplish all of his pleasure and all things (i.e., reprobation) were certainly not created for his pleasure! But out of his infinite love, Christ suffered the tortures of the cross to purchase a split second of temporal (earthly) mercy to those otherwise condemned by eternal law to a certain sentence of endless misery.

    Until this false doctrine of a bipolar God is renounced and condemned, we can be sure that there will be no new reformation.

    Comments: http://www.predestinarian.net/showth...5215#post35215>
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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