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Thread: Common Grace?

  1. #41
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    Precisely My Point

    That is exactly my point! Every manner of theological compromise is read into postings here. Assumptions and conclusions are drawn perpetually that are inaccurate. That is what I mean by a "seige mentality." It is theological paranoia. It reminds me of how the Pharisees (this is also an illustration, not a linkage) made all manner of laws as a "hedge" around the Mosaic laws. Transgressing the hedge law was equated with transgressing the Mosaic law. I see this mentality creeping in. Trangressing a hedge theological point is equated with transgressing a true theological point (in this case particular election).

    I have no doubt that Bill T and I are struggling with the same issues and have similar backgrounds and have arrived at very similar positions. I understand his concern for theological and biblical accuracy. I share that very concern. This is, after all, a family discussion.
    2 Peter 3:13

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    HJ:

    Ans: The Sabbath has been abrograted. I hold to the ethical teachings of the OT as passed on to me by the hands of Christ. I would refer you to this by a thorough re-reading of New Covenant Theology by Wells and Zaspel.
    Hebrews 4:8-9 For if Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken afterward of another day. 9 There remaineth therefore a sabbath rest for the people of God.

    The teachings and mode take different forms, but what is right has always been right and what is wrong has always been wrong.

    Ans: Then deal with Acts 17:28. Judgment Day is still future. Until then the good things God does for the lost pile up on them, awaiting judgment day.
    Acts 17:28 for in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain even of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

    As far as He is the creator we are all His offspring. This does not say that He loves each one of us or speak of any change in that regard.


    PILGRIM:

    You made a post, but I don't see that you addressed the point of my post. Why are all these commands from Christ (directly) in Mt. 5? What are we to do with them? If we strive to live them are we not striving to be like Him? That is, showing love to the unlovely, showing love, kindness, mercy to those that oppose themselves, those that are God haters. Since we 'were' God haters at one time, shouldn't we show more mercy, grace, kindness, etc. to those outside the fold, since we 'know' where they are at, and where they are headed, unless the Lord of Glory appreends them?
    I apologize for not giving a clear answer, if I don't address what you want me to this time let me know.

    Matthew 5:43-45 Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy: 44 but I say unto you, love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you; 45 that ye may be sons of your Father who is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.

    The Scriptures say here that we are to love our enemies because God sends good gifts to both the just and the unjust. It does not say love your enemies because God loves both the just and the unjust. If it were, it would be rather scarry. We would have to conclude that those who received more sunshine and more rainfall were loved more by God.

    I do think there is more to it however. I do think that the passage is calling us to love our enemies because God shows love to His enemies. He does not show love to all His enemies. But all, prior to conversion are the enemies of God, apart from a love of God towards His enemies none would be saved.

    We stand in a different relationship to our fellow human being than God does. We share a common place. God stands over them as judge however, and does not love all of His enemies. If we are to conclude from this passage that God loves all His enemies, then He must also give some sort of common grace to the Devil and have a general love towards him as well.

    Even in our own case, sometimes we are called by God to hate people.

    Psalm 139:21-22 Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? 22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.

    Sola Gratia,
    WildBoar
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

  3. #43
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    Originally posted by wildboar
    Matthew 5:43-45 Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy: 44 but I say unto you, love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you; 45 that ye may be sons of your Father who is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.

    The Scriptures say here that we are to love our enemies because God sends good gifts to both the just and the unjust. It does not say love your enemies because God loves both the just and the unjust. If it were, it would be rather scarry. We would have to conclude that those who received more sunshine and more rainfall were loved more by God.
    as was said before, this is probably something we will not agree on (or we'll have to agree to disagree). i think the reason for the 'talking past' eachother is that one side is pressing the concept of grace and the other is pressing the word CARIS. there does not seem to be a meeting of the minds here and there will therefore be little understanding until this difference in manner of communication is recognized and embraced.

    furthermore, in Mt 5:44-45 there is a definite correlation in Jesus words in what God does (v. 44) to what we are to do (v. 45). the definite implication is that the reason we are to love our neighbor is because God (in some sense) loves even the unrighteous. in fact, God is love (1 John 4:8). if God absolutely hated the unrighteous in every way (without any qualifiers), then this saying would have little effect.

    anyway, rather than entering into more quarreling over words, i would just direct you to two very helpful works on the subject: 1) Love of God by John MacArthur, 2) The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by DA Carson. you can read the first chapter to Carson's book here. here is an excerpt:

    At first thought, understanding the doctrine of the love of God seems simple compared to trying to fathom other doctrines like that of the Trinity or predestination. Especially since the overwhelming majority of those who believe in God view Him as a loving being.

    That is precisely what makes this doctrine so difficult. The only aspect of God's character the world still believes in is His love. His holiness, His sovereignty, His wrath are often rejected as being incompatible with a "loving" God. Because pop culture has so distorted and secularized God's love, many Christians have lost a biblical understanding of it and, in turn, lost a vital means to knowing who God is...
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

  4. #44
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    A Bad Illustration

    To begin with, I will confess that my illustration of the restaurant 'exchange' was poorly chosen. I should have realized that it would seem to HJ that I was comparing him to the Castro sympathizer.

    From now on, if I ever tell this story again to make the same point, I will leave out the details of what the 'exchange of ideas' was about and get to the 'punch line'--which was my real point. The spontaneous 'conclusion of the matter' that the restaurant owner verbalized was one of those rare jewels that we don't encounter very often. "Let me serve you, because we are not going to agree on that." For me, that is the right--not wrong way to relate to those whom God has given very different thoughts (whatever the reasons) than myself. God wants every man and woman thinking exactly as he/she does at the present time. Recognizing that fact makes all of this a lot easier. I have to remind myself of it over and over.

    What I would like to say is that I will never be able to conclude in my own thinking that the 'common grace' doctrine actually makes God out to be a 'nicer deity,' which seems to be the real motive behind the idea. When all the facts of God's sovereignty and immutability are considered, it just doesn't hang together. I believe that the truth of God's revelation is reasonable and logical. When a viewpoint seems out-of-harmony with the overall teaching of the Bible, due to its irrational conclusions, it usually is wrong.

    I think that WB has given us some very good insights on the meaning of 'rain upon the just and unjust' that we need to consider. Many who today are unjust are nonetheless elect of God. This is the main motive for us doing good to our enemies: some of those enemies are God's chosen.

    However, even if we reach this wonderful conclusion, it does not answer everything on the issue. God in his sovereignty does good to the non-elect. The most blessed non-elect soul prior to the final judgment, in terms of external advantage and lack of suffering, is certainly the devil. I believe that our theology must explain this somehow as God does not leave the great big issues completely in mystery. Common grace doctrine has no explanation for this; it only deals with humanity. Most evangelical teaching has historically ended up with a strange distinction between devils and non-elect humans. But no such distinction exists in the Bible. So there has to be another way.
    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

  5. #45
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    Response

    Bill wrote: “…makes God out to be a 'nicer deity,' which seems to be the real motive behind the idea”

    Ans: No one has the right nor the ability to determine motives in these postings.

    Bill wrote: “…and immutability are considered, it just doesn't hang together…”

    Ans: Bill I think that your immutability emphasis is mistaken. I do not deny God’s purposes are fixed, but His methods are not. I think that is a major difference between NCT and CT. By your definition (and by WildBoar’s) immutability would prevent any progressiveness in revelation. WB postings relative to the Sabbath reveals that immutability prevents the Sabbath (as a set day of the week) as being abrogated. I will leave you to the NCT writings for development of this. Immutability would require (if God does not change how he relates to the human race, lost included) that the sacrificial system must remain intact. After all, God does not change! WB in an earlier post said that hating our enemies is imitating God. Well, I think Jesus abrogated that too. I believe that those who teach otherwise are not following the Lord’s direct instructions. It looks like mere rationalization of bad behaviors toward the lost. If WildBoar and others insist on using older revelation to override new revelation, then it may reveal a poor understanding of the progressiveness of God’s Word.

    "You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Mtt 5:43-48).

    God’s character is immutable. His decrees are immutable. However, He does change things (covenants, priesthoods, sacrifices and even commandments!). After all, isn’t that one of the main points of the Book of Hebrews?

    Heb 8:7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.

    We are not good to the lost because some of them might be the elect in disguise! We are good to the lost because we are commanded to be like our Heavenly Father.

    Bill wrote: “Most evangelical teaching has historically ended up with a strange distinction between devils and non-elect humans. But no such distinction exists in the Bible.”

    Ans: The distinction is Biblically valid.

    Heb 2:16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants.

    God has His purposes and His timing. The issue of devils and demons is not germaine to this discussion.

    We are not told to feel good about our enemies. We are told to act good toward our enemies. Love here is not an emotion, but an action. God is not “loving the lost” when he gives good things to them! We are told to love our enemies. We are not told to like them, but to act well or benevolently toward them. Love is not the opposite of wrath. Positive action is opposite to positive inaction. My view of Common grace does not view God loving people he eventually sends to hell. My view simply says that God ACTS benevolently toward all. Love as an emotion is not the issue (and, consequently, neither is wrath). I am never commanded to feel “oogly googly” or have “sloppy agape” toward the lost. I am only told to act better than the OT saint. I think once that idea is implanted, the whole issue dies off since God is not waffling between loving and hating them, but consistently does good things for them and they consistently are ungrateful.
    2 Peter 3:13

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    HJ:

    I'm not denying progressive revelation at all. I think you are misunderstanding me. Let's lay aside the Sabbath issue for a bit, since I don't think it is relevant to the current discussion. For the time being I'll assume that the sabbath is no longer to be celebrated on a specific day of the week.

    Immutability has to do with God's being. If God is immutable and He loves someone, He will always love that person. If He does not, He is not immutable. Grace is a bestowal of God's love toward a person. Wrath and love are not mutually exclusive, but love and hate are. Examples are often pointed to which show that when someone is said to hate someone else in the Bible that person also has a certain love for that person which is less than it is for another person. This is true for people but not for God. In fact, the explicitly states in one passage that when God hates someone, he does not love them. God loves and hates absolutely.

    Sola Gratia,
    WildBoar
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

  7. #47
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    The Nexus

    WildBoar wrote:"Grace is a bestowal of God's love toward a person."

    Ans: This is the nexus of the issue. I maintain that Common Grace is not God's bestowal of love. It is His kindnesses toward even the lost. For you, grace can have NO modifier. It is always Redeeming grace, always Special grace. All I am saying is that God does NOT show His love (as if he loves and hates simultaneously the same lost person) but demonstrates His kindness toward the lost. It is precisely the narrow definiton that creates the issue. I am not to love the lost as I love my Christian brother or sister, but I am to "love" that person as God "loves" that person by showing kindnesses to them and treating them better (as the Lord does) than they deserve.
    2 Peter 3:13

  8. #48
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    Re: Response

    Originally posted by HolidayJim
    We are not told to feel good about our enemies. We are told to act good toward our enemies. Love here is not an emotion, but an action. God is not “loving the lost” when he gives good things to them! We are told to love our enemies. We are not told to like them, but to act well or benevolently toward them. Love is not the opposite of wrath. Positive action is opposite to positive inaction. My view of Common grace does not view God loving people he eventually sends to hell. My view simply says that God ACTS benevolently toward all. Love as an emotion is not the issue (and, consequently, neither is wrath). I am never commanded to feel “oogly googly” or have “sloppy agape” toward the lost. I am only told to act better than the OT saint. I think once that idea is implanted, the whole issue dies off since God is not waffling between loving and hating them, but consistently does good things for them and they consistently are ungrateful.
    HJ, that is a very good post. i think it is crucial to define concepts here...especially love and grace. we could trip over not seeing a specific word in the text but as i said before, language and communication is much bigger than mere words. just because the term omnipresence is not in Scripture doesn't mean God is not omniscience. just because the term Trinity is not in Scripture doesn't mean God is not triune. the question is not "is the word present?" but "is the concept present?"

    i also wanted to comment on BT's comment: "What I would like to say is that I will never be able to conclude in my own thinking that the 'common grace' doctrine actually makes God out to be a 'nicer deity,' which seems to be the real motive behind the idea". i think that's a bit unfair. i can tell you that's not my motive (though as i said before, i don't know that i'd choose the terminology 'common grace' since it carries so much baggage with it) and if you read macarthur's and carson's books, you'd see that clearly wasn't theirs (though they probably don't use that term either). the motive is to be faithful to Scripture and to adequately account for passages such as Mt 5:43ff allowing the texts to speak for themselves without imposing our theology on them.

    so perhaps the 'common grace' view which says that God gives prevenient grace that is potentially salvific is motivated by trying to have a 'nicer deity' but i will guarantee that this is not the motive behind those that see 'common grace' as God being kind, good, gracious, etc. to all though not in a salvific way. as i said before, it is crucial to distinguish the two ways of viewing 'common grace' in a positive way if communication and understanding is to occur. if you lump them all in one group then there is no wonder the misunderstanding and namecalling occurs*. this type of logic is guilt by association and is a logical fallacy. it does nothing to promote mutual respect and understanding*.

    *Note: this is not necessarily directed at WB and BT but is a general statement of what i see is the result of not seeing a distinction of the different understandings of 'common grace.' misunderstanding is the inevitable result. many of the arguments and objections proposed thus far, apply only to the prevenient grace type.
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
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    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

  9. #49
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    WB
    The Scriptures say here that we are to love our enemies because God sends good gifts to both the just and the unjust. It does not say love your enemies because God loves both the just and the unjust. If it were, it would be rather scarry. We would have to conclude that those who received more sunshine and more rainfall were loved more by God. I do think there is more to it however. I do think that the passage is calling us to love our enemies because God shows love to His enemies. He does not show love to all His enemies. But all, prior to conversion are the enemies of God, apart from a love of God towards His enemies none would be saved.
    With all due respect, boar, you say in the first few sentences that we are to love our enemies because God gifts all.....sorry but I don't see that. True it does say love your enemies and we know that God loves His enemies, whom and when He chooses, just as he chooses judgment at His appointed times. I see where the Scripture say 'for' God sends rain etc. I understand that to mean 'setting the example'....reading 'because' in place of 'of' just isn't there. A few verses further states 'be ye perfect as I am'....again setting the example we are to strive for.
    Pilgrim

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    Boar
    Grace is a bestowal of God's love toward a person
    I too, think the problem lies in the 'terms' and 'definitions'. As shown above Boar defines Grace as God's love towards a person, when in fact most definitions of Grace are 'unmerited favor'. There is a huge difference if one changes the standard meaning, for it usually changes the meaning to fit the theology.
    Can we atleast agree that when we holding to 'common grace' term 'grace', we mean it as unmerited favor? This is exact as to what we are terming God's kindness towards sinners (elect or non elect) It is His gracious caring and keeping of His Creation. All of it undeserved, unmerited.
    Pilgrim

  11. #51
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    Various Responses

    HJ:
    Bill wrote: “…makes God out to be a 'nicer deity,' which seems to be the real motive behind the idea”

    Ans: No one has the right nor the ability to determine motives in these postings.


    I respectfully disagree. In this instance, I would also add that I was not judging whether any person's motive was good or evil in and of itself, but whether it is based on certain historical dogma.

    The 'motive' I referred to is not specifically that of any contributor to this board. In context, I was referring to the motive determining the theology of infralapsarianism and its logical and inevitable child, common grace. Of course, if one agrees with this dogma, then further explanation is needed if a different motive than the usual argument is the reason. I'm not saying that these 'common grace' teachers are deliberately deceptive. They certainly believe that their views are based on scripture. I'm just saying that I'm convinced they are very wrong. Two examples are all that I have time to give right now, but the notion expressed in these is what I have encountered in virtually every common grace theologian:

    Charles Hodge (Systematic Theology, Part III--Soteriology, Chapter I, Section 2--Supralapsarianism):

    It is a further objection to the supralapsarian scheme that it is not consistent with the Scriptural exhibition of the character of God. He is declared to be a God of mercy and justice. But it is not compatible with these divine attributes that men should be foreordained to misery and eternal death as innocent, that is, before they had apostatized from God. If passed by and foreordained to death for their sins, it must be that in predestination they are contemplated as guilty and fallen creatures.

    Lorraine Boettner (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, Chapter XI--Unconditional Election, Section 6--Infralapsarianism and Supralapsarianism):

    It is not in harmony with the Scripture ideas of God that innocent men, men who are not contemplated as sinners, should be foreordained to eternal misery and death. The decrees concerning the saved and the lost should not be looked upon as based merely on abstract sovereignty. God is truly sovereign, but this sovereignty is not exercised in an arbitrary way. Rather it is a sovereignty exercised in harmony with His other attributes, especially his justice, holiness, and wisdom.

    I radically disagree, of course, with the way both of these men characterize their opposition. But it is clear that they believe a more biblical view of the character of God is at stake in the position they espouse.

    Disciple:
    i think that's a bit unfair. i can tell you that's not my motive (though as i said before, i don't know that i'd choose the terminology 'common grace' since it carries so much baggage with it) and if you read macarthur's and carson's books, you'd see that clearly wasn't theirs (though they probably don't use that term either). the motive is to be faithful to Scripture and to adequately account for passages such as Mt 5:43ff allowing the texts to speak for themselves without imposing our theology on them.

    I would be interested in knowing why you think Carson and MacArthur would argue differently than the two men above. I, for one, have personally listened to MacArthur preach the same above emphasis of Hodge and Boettner on a number of occassions.

    It is not name-calling to point out the motive behind these views: those who teach this say that the infralapsarian view does more justice to the benevolence, fairness, and mercy of God than the supralapsarian. Even with the further explanations, so far, it all comes down to this in my mind.

    These common grace theologies do state that they are trying to do justice to Mt. 5:43ff. But as I have stated before, my conculsion is that they end up teaching the opposite of what Mt. 5:43ff is really saying. WB pointed out the interpretation I would accept: We are to be merciful as God is merciful (the Lukan parallel to Matthew's 'perfect as God is perfect')--primarily because God has many elect among those who are presently unjust (unbelievers). So I believe that the common grace exegesis of this passage is wrong. We cannot show mercy that is not grounded in God's mercy (grace) toward the elect in some way.

    As Paul stated, we do good to all men in order to save some (humanly speaking, of course--it is really God that does the saving). Our mercy imitates God's purposes of election and grace.

    There are also biblical limits to 'doing good to all' that I might discuss, which are grounded in the principle of God's severity (not his goodness). I may get into it in a future post if this discussion goes on. Suffice it to say that God does not send rain upon all the unjust of humanity (only some). Neither does he expect us to be absolutely indiscriminate in the level of our merciful dealings with every member of humanity.

    HJ:
    My view of Common grace does not view God loving people he eventually sends to hell. My view simply says that God ACTS benevolently toward all. Love as an emotion is not the issue (and, consequently, neither is wrath). I am never commanded to feel “oogly googly” or have “sloppy agape” toward the lost.

    I certainly agree with the point that God does not exercise agape toward all. However, I do believe that we are to exercise agape toward at least many of those who are currently unbelievers. Since God is immutable, the elect who have not yet believed are still loved by him (in the agape sense)--from eternity past until now. So we have to imitate this love in some way, although we cannot know who all of the elect are like God does.

    Bill I think that your immutability emphasis is mistaken. I do not deny God’s purposes are fixed, but His methods are not. I think that is a major difference between NCT and CT. By your definition (and by WildBoar’s) immutability would prevent any progressiveness in revelation. WB postings relative to the Sabbath reveals that immutability prevents the Sabbath (as a set day of the week) as being abrogated. I will leave you to the NCT writings for development of this. Immutability would require (if God does not change how he relates to the human race, lost included) that the sacrificial system must remain intact. After all, God does not change!

    This is a misunderstanding of my view of immutability (WB has already responded to this also). Immutability has to do with God's disposition, not his actions at every moment. Christ used both the grass of the field (inanimate) and the sparrow (animate) as an illustrations. Both the goodness and severity of God are illustrated in the conception, prosperity, and eventual death of all living things. God makes the grass green today, then burns it up tomorrow. But his disposition toward the grass never changes: he purposes to exercise both goodness and severity.

    I am totally NCT in my view of biblical ethics (contrary, sadly, to the views of the man whose picture is on my posts!). I am also a hard supralapsarian on soteriology (in agreement with Dr. Twisse). I realize that this 'mix' of teaching is rare and will be viewed by most as spiritual whoredom. But both convictionsare based equally on a study of scripture and the history of dogma for the last 25 years.
    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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    Pilgrim:

    Every theologian I have ever read in support of common grace has equated it with a general non-saving love towards all mankind, so that is why I assumed you did as well, my apologies.

    However, I still fail to see how favor can be bestowed apart from love and how favor can be bestowed upon someone who is absolutely hated.

    With all due respect, boar, you say in the first few sentences that we are to love our enemies because God gifts all.....sorry but I don't see that. True it does say love your enemies and we know that God loves His enemies, whom and when He chooses, just as he chooses judgment at His appointed times. I see where the Scripture say 'for' God sends rain etc. I understand that to mean 'setting the example'....reading 'because' in place of 'of' just isn't there. A few verses further states 'be ye perfect as I am'....again setting the example we are to strive for.
    I'm sorry, I don't understand what you are saying here.

    Sola Gratia,
    WildBoar
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Let me take a stab at this one.

    Boar wrote in response to Pilgrim: "I still fail to see how favor can be bestowed apart from love and how favor can be bestowed upon someone who is absolutely hated."

    Ans: If you are correct in assuming that common grace means love, then it is impossible to reconcile. That is what I have been harping on for people to see. Common grace is kindness. God can be kind to those who are the non-elect. He obviously is kind in that he blesses (with food, clothing, etc. as the Apostle Paul said in Acts 17). He call us to do the same exact thing...to be kind to our enemies. That is how we imitate Him. He is kind to His enemies and expects us to do the same. He is NOT saying that I am to trust, commit myself to, confide in, feel good about, or have an emotional commitment to the lost at all. I am to imitate HIM. Kindness is NOT love. Kindness is treating another person who is my ENEMY better than he deserves to be treated and SURPRISE OF SURPRISES, that is how God treats His enemies. It is only in this sense that I speak of Common Grace. Because God's kindness is hard for us to grasp...as your posts so clearly show you have a hard time grasping...only shows how amazing God is and how difficult it is to follow His command to be like Him.


    Boar wrote:"Every theologian I have ever read in support of common grace has equated it with a general non-saving love towards all mankind..."

    Ans: I don't think Berkhof equates it that way. But, regardless, who cares? The only issue is if the concept is biblical. Do you believe the Scriptures teach that we are to be kind to our enemies and by so doing, imitate God? Do you also believe that being kind to our enemies is not something they deserve? If it is not deserved, it is gracious. I cannot see how you can reconcile Christ's command with any other view. You quoted the Psalms a few posts ago about hating our enemies. Do you really think that is what Christ wants you to do? Who rules your ethics??
    2 Peter 3:13

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    Seems as though some don't think the MT. verses are clear enough as to the command of Christ. Maybe the Luke verses are clearer?


    Luke 6:27 ¶ But I say unto you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you,
    28 bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.
    29 To him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and from him that taketh away thy cloak withhold not thy coat also.
    30 Give to every one that asketh thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
    31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
    32 And if ye love them that love you, what thank have ye? for even sinners love those that love them.
    33 And if ye do good to them that do good to you, what thank have ye? for even sinners do the same.
    34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? even sinners lend to sinners, to receive again as much.
    35 But love your enemies, and do them good, and lend, {1} never despairing; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be sons of the Most High: for he is kind toward the unthankful and evil. {1) Some ancient authorities read despairing of no man}
    36 Be ye merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
    37 ¶ And judge not, and ye shall not be judged: and condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: release, and ye shall be released:

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    Pilgrim and HJ:

    I think you are both misunderstanding me. I'm saying we certainly must bestow mercy upon those who hate us. We do this because our Father in heaven bestows mercy upon those who hate Him. However, it does not follow from this that God bestows mercy upon every single person who ever lived.

    Sola Gratia,
    WildBoar
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Limited Atonement=Limited Mercy?

    Boar Wrote: "...it does not follow from this that God bestows mercy upon every single person who ever lived."

    Ans: I refer once again to Acts 17:28 ("...for in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain even of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.") I see no distinction in Paul's quote of a pagan poet (even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in awhile!) of any restriction of God's mercy not going out to all. I would understand the "we" of the verse above to be "humanity" (certainly all in the group that Paul was addressing that day, and most did not accept the Gospel once they heard of the resurrection). Limited Atonement does not mean limited mercy, nor does it imply it. I am not called to imitate God if my understanding of God's mercy is that God shows mercy selectively in general blessings because he knows His people prior to their regeneration. It is not that I am to show mercy on all because some MAY be elect. I am to show mercy on all because the Father shows mercy on all. Nowhere is any restriction of God's mercy implied in either occurances of the Sermon on the Mount.

    Regarding the Infra vs Supra debate, I quote from Berkhof who wrote, "Our confessional standards embody the infralapsarian position, but do not condemn Supralapsarianism. It was felt that this view was not necessarily inconsistent with Reformed theology...while it is not permissible to represent the supralapsarian view as the doctrine of the Reformed churches of the Netherlands, it is just as little permissible to molest any one who cherishes that view for himself." (page 125 Systematic Theology, New Combined Edition)
    2 Peter 3:13

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    Illogical Compromise

    As an introduction, I do apologize for my earlier statement that those who espouse the ‘common grace’ position do so because they want to defend an ideal of ‘nicer deity.’ This is due to the fact that some have viewed this statement as directed toward board contributors--plus two members of this board have stated that this is not their motive. I still am very unconvinced, due to reasons already cited, that the historic and present defense of the dogma by doctors of theology does not have this as its motive.

    If any have doubts regarding this, listen to R.C. Sproul on the topic if you ever have a chance! MacArthur and others teach the same perspective. That is, the notion that supralapsarianism makes God out to be a tyrant and that only infralapsarianism honors the fairness and mercy of God. In this they are only defending 450+ years of Protestant ‘orthodoxy.’ I have already given quotes by Boettner and Hodge.

    ‘Nice deity’ was a poor choice of words. I am a native Missourian who likes to cut through the fine-sounding interpretations and get to the point. Common grace theologians have talked about the character of God, fairness and mercy of God, etc. being at stake in defending infralapsarianism over supralapsarianism. To me, this is the same thing as stating that common grace makes God out to be a ‘nicer’ deity.

    HJ states:

    Regarding the Infra vs Supra debate, I quote from Berkhof who wrote,"Our confessional standards embody the infralapsarian position, but do not condemn Supralapsarianism. It was felt that this view was not necessarily inconsistent with Reformed theology...while it is not permissible to represent the supralapsarian view as the doctrine of the Reformed churches of the Netherlands, it is just as little permissible to molest any one who cherishes that view for himself."

    My conviction is that the statement of Berkhof in this regard, great and spiritual man that he was, does not face the facts honestly. Here are the reasons:

    1. Truth is propositional. Opposite propositions cannot both be true; logic and mental reasoning is a gift of God. Therefore, the view of Berkhof attempts to circumvent the reasonable mind given to us by God. It would propose that an undesirable view--spurned by a confession of faith--can still be consistent with that faith, which is impossible.

    2. Only infralapsarians teach that the issue separating themselves from supralapsarians is a mere definition of the ’order of divine decrees.’ In reality, it involves two different views of God’s sovereign will--plus differing perspectives on the plan of salvation in Christ. Even Karl Barth recognized this! Strangely, the universalist Barth acknowledged that supralapsarianism was closer to the truth. Contrary to scripture, he taught a ‘Calvinistic’ sort of universalism as the final solution. But he did have a far better understanding of the ‘essence’ of the difference than most teachers who call themselves ‘infralapsarian.’

    3. Those of differing persuasion on this issue--who nonetheless confess the sovereignty of grace in Christ--may still worship and commune together in the same congregation. But respect for the convictions of others must certainly include a true understanding and faithful reciting of what those convictions really are. Teachers like R. C. Sproul are in no wise obeying this reasonable standard.

    Lorraine Boettner stated in the “Reformed Doctine of Predestination“ (Chapter on ‘Unconditional Election‘, section 6):

    Supralapsarianism goes to as great an extreme on the one side as does universalism on the other. Only the infralapsarian scheme is self-consistent or consistent with other facts.

    I truly believe that 98% of Calvinists would say a hearty ’amen’ to the above statement of Boettner. One of these was Louis Berkhof. So he is not honest in his contradictory evaluation of supralapsarianism. Neither are all the other Protestants with the same view. If the doctrine of true election (as opposed to ’selection’) is as bad as universalism, as Boettner asserts, it cannot possibly be assimilated into the community of faith.

    On the other hand, if true election and the unitary nature of God's will is the genuine biblical doctrine, we are accountable to it.
    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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    Help Me, Really!!

    Bill:

    I want to plumb this subject (infra and supra) as thoroughly as you have. Really! You may indeed be right. So, you can see that I am open to modifying my thoughts (although my application may be divergent from yours). Can you suggest some clear (help my studpidity here). Do you have sources that clearly lay out the infra and supra views? Reading Berkhof doesn't help much. Do you have web links that spell it out clearly???

    Isn't the biggest hurdle with supra the possible impugning of God's character? That is what Berkhof seems to be saying.
    2 Peter 3:13

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    Introductory Link

    HJ:

    On supralapsarianism,

    I will respond with further observations in the near future. As a good introduction I would recommend this website--most specifically the contributions of Dr. Willam Twisse on TULIP:

    <http://members.aol.com/graceordained>

    There are things lacking here on the nature of the controversy but it is at least an introduction to many of the historical writings.

    Grace and peace,
    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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    Although, I have a number of problems with the book, Robert Reymond gives one of the best modern defenses of the supralapsarian position in his book "A New Systematic Theology". He does also hold to some form of common grace, although he does not really spend any time defending the doctrine or stating what it is or is not.

    Sola Gratia,
    WildBoar
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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