Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Musing: Eternal life is Absolutely Free!

I am wondering what is so odious about salvation/eternal life actually being "absolutely free"? It is offensive to most how something so precious, so valuable can nevertheless be so free!

I guess people are just so conditioned to the cliche "You can't get something for nothing." Or maybe it is their pride. At any rate, it remains most certainly distasteful to them to consider that God actually bestows His great salvation on them apart from some commitment on their part.

For these reasons (or other reasons, can you think of any more?) most people are apt and disposed to add to Christ's message of the free offer of eternal life. They want to make eternal life the agreed upon result of a contract between the sinner and God: whereby the sinner's responsiblity is to "commit himself totally to God", "submit everything to God", "repent" and "promise to obey"; and God's end of the bargain is to dispense eternal life when the sinner fulfills his end of the contract. Furthermore, they will require that one perseveres in faith, obedience, and works until the end of life.

Salvation is "Absolutely Free!" What do I mean by absolutely free?

No strings. No caveats. No provisos. Just:

...let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. (Rev 22:17)

Why don't most people see this? Why are most ashamed of the doctrine of the absolutely free gift of eternal life (by grace!)? I believe because:

...narrow is the gate and constrained is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matt 7:14)

Every religion in the world conditions their Nirvana, englightenment, salvation upon one's own commitment and faithfulness, Reformed and Arminian theology included! The world is on the broad and wide road.

Salvation by grace through the intermediate agency of purposeful faith in Christ alone for eternal life apart from works, commitments, faithfulness, etc, is the narrow and constrained gate, the only way, and there are few who find it.

God forbid that He gives anything for free, by grace. You pay for it one way or the other, right? Either on the front end or the back, but usually both. (Note: sarcasm)

Matt 7:21-23
"Not everyone who says to Me,'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

(John 6:40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.)

Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'"

This is the lot of those "Christians" who suppose that entrance into the kingdom is conditioned on works.

They did "this" in His name, and "that" in His name and "these" in His name, but, they did not do the will of the Father, which is to receive eternal life as an absolutely free gift by faith alone in Christ alone, apart from works.

Those who state that obedience, commitment, etc., is necessary for final salvation have frankly admitted that works are required for eternal salvation. Reformed? Nay. They have successfully transported themselves back to Rome.

There is a story told of a boy whose family was immersed in poverty. His father was very ill due to a lack of essential nutrients found in fruit. The land they lived in was barren of produce. One day as the boy travelled by the rear of the palace, he came upon a gate, and looked in. The princess was basquing in the fertile groves of imported soils, trees, and luscious fruit. The princess learned about the father of the boy's disposition and immediately had her servants gather up several baskets of the yield of her orchards. The boy searched in his pockets and found the few bits that was the sum total of his family's income and offered it to her.

She replied, "The fruit is either free, or you can't afford it."

"To him who works, the wages ARE NOT counted as grace, but as debt. But to him who DOES NOT WORK but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness" (Romans 4:4,5)



Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Great post!

God Bless

December 18, 2005 11:15 AM  
Blogger bluecollar said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

December 18, 2005 11:17 AM  
Anonymous Nate said...

Hey Antonio,
Who are a few systematic theologians who have had the most impact on your theology? I really like LEwis Sperry Chafer but I don't know many other "Free Grace" systematic Theologians, any suggestions?

December 18, 2005 3:52 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

My favorite theologians have not written systematic volumes.

Ryrie is a nominal free grace systematic theolgy writer.

Thiessen has a good systematic volume.

I am teaching a 1 year class in "Theology Survey" at a Bible college right now, and we are using the Chafer (Revised Walvoord) Major Bible Themes.

But, my all time favorite theologian is Zane Hodges. He has written MUCH material, and has impeccable credentials. Although he has not written a systematic treatise, his work in writing includes much if not all doctrines, worked out quite systematically.

As far as systemaic theology is concerned, if you have LS Chafers 8 volume work, the only supplement you would need is Zane Hodges soteriology (and some of his dispensationalism).


December 18, 2005 4:04 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

I never get tired of hearing the Gospel, or in this case, reading it. Wonderful message!

December 18, 2005 5:38 PM  
Blogger H K Flynn said...

...She replied, "The fruit is either free, or you can't afford it."


December 18, 2005 6:50 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

I appreciate your insistence on the free nature of salvation so much! My pastor talked about this today. He said that offereing anything to God as a part of our salvation would be like insisting on paying $20 for a blank check that Bill Gates wants to give you. It is absurd and it is an insult, he said. That story is kind of similar to the story you provided here. Thanks!

December 18, 2005 8:40 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I highly recommend Thiessen's 'Lectures on Systematic Theology'. Very useful.

That said, it is not really his work. It was revised by V. Doerkerson who considerably altered the theology of the original work. Thiessen rejected the Calvinist view of election, but Doerkerson made the book actually argue for moderate Calvinism, with just a footnote to indicate that this was not Thiessen's position.

Also, the section on repentance seems to suggest that sorrow for sin is essential to salvation.

Every Blessing in Christ


December 19, 2005 1:15 AM  
Anonymous nate said...

Hey Antonio,
What do you think about "Beyond Calvinism...." By C. Gordon Olson? He actually just revised the book and its smaller and called "getting the Gospel Right". WHat do you think about the book "Free and CLear" by Larry Moyer? That's one I've really enjoyed.

December 19, 2005 5:59 AM  
Blogger Dorothy said...

Great Blog antonio! Thanks for coming to mine. I agree with Eternal life being free but what about faith without works is that really true faith? Or what about Works without true trust in the Lord. I think we need both! Is it really enough just to have trust in the lord shouldnt it be lived out through works as well? Did that make sense?

December 19, 2005 6:39 AM  
Blogger torn_aclu said...


I am still waiting for you to post on where you got the Carson quote you had mentioned while on another site. I would also be interested in your interpretation of this passage from John 2.

23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

If mere "belief" in Jesus is all that is needed for salvation for salvation to be free, then would you say John distinguishes two different types of belief in this passage?

December 19, 2005 3:56 PM  
Blogger ajlin said...

You seem to separate faith from repentance, concepts that are inseparably joined in the Gospel call of Scripture in the words of the Lord Jesus:

"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:15)

as well as in the testimony of the Apostle of the Lord, that the content of his message consisted in:

solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:21)


December 19, 2005 9:37 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Torn ACLU,

I have the reference, but I am tired. I will look it up tomorrow.

As pertaining your verses, I really need to make some rules around here. Let me first address Andrew.


Thank you for visiting my site. I appreciate it. Please continue to do so and make your mind known.

Now to some rules, or suggestions:

When we quote scripture, it would be nice to try to demonstrate our interpretation of the verses by some observations and expressions that are drawn out of the verses and their context.

Also, when we use terminology, we may talk around each other and wrongly understand what each other is saying.

Andrew, you use "gospel call". What do you mean by gospel? and what do you mean by "gospel call"?

And are you making an argument that just because the words repent and faith and repent and believe are used in the same sentence that this means that they are "inseperably joined"? Comon, lets be more of a critical thinker than that!

I have a post on repentance that you may want to read.

I will be happy to respond to you guys. I am tired and got to wake up at 3am.


December 19, 2005 10:23 PM  
Blogger ajlin said...

By "Gospel call" I mean the proclamaton of the Good News of the person and work of Jesus Christ, which Good News always requires a response on the part of the listener- the response of repentance and faith, as demonstrated by the verses that I quoted.

December 19, 2005 11:26 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Andrew, thank you again for visiting my blog.

I do not think at all you "demonstrated" that the good news about the person and work of Jesus Christ "always requires a response on the part of the listener- the response of repentance and faith"

You merely quoted a couple of verses and did not give an ounce of support to your contention.

What you have done is the same as me quoting these verses:

John 14:28
My Father is greater than I.

Col 1:15
[Christ is]the firstborn over all creation.

And stating: Jesus Christ is not God.

If I would do this, I would be contending much, but demonstrating and supporting nothing.

As for your contention about Jesus preaching what you say he did:

was He preaching "the gospel" from 1 Cor 15:3ff?
In other words, His work? His death and resurrection?

This is highly unlikely. The word "gospel" merely means good news. Jesus was speaking about the good news of the kingdom of God being at hand. He was offering to Israel the institution of the kingdom of God.

As with many other times in the history of God's dealings with the Jews, Jesus was requiring of them to turn from their sins in order for good to come to them: in this case the setting up of the kingdom of God. Likewise, he required it as a second condition that Israel recognize Him as the Messiah.

Let us please not compare apples and oranges.

As with your verse from acts, my contention would be that repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are just two different things Paul preached, for different reasons, with different results.

But I guess as it stands, my contention is no better than yours (left unsupported) for neither of us backed it up. But as soon as you make a case that it is as you say it is, I may feel more obliged to do the work of persuasion.

It may be well for you to do your homework in the matter, and give us something substantial, something to sink our teeth into, rather than a verse or two attached to a contention.

It is not that I am not willing to do such. But I do not feel compelled to do so until you make a case that would necessitate me responding to.

And by the way. Did you read my post on the gospel of John and repentance? It may do well to further the discussion.

Merry Christmas and have a wonderful time of study!


December 20, 2005 6:11 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

"Whoever said, 'The Calvinist knows that he cannot fall from salvation but does not know whether he has got it,' had it summed up nicely" (D.A. Carson Westminster Theological Journal (54 [1992]:21))

The Article was entitled "Reflections on Christian Assurance"

Zane Hodges nimbly and surgically dissects this article in his own Journal article entitled:

The New Puritanism Part 1: Carson on Christian Assurance

Which if you click on, will send you there for reference! Please do read it, Torn ACLU. It may be good for you to get another perspective, especially in light of Carson's misrepresentations of Free Grace theology (where I am guessing is the only place you have ever learned anything about Free Grace theology).

As to your quote from John chapter 2. I am really chomping on the bits to talk about that one. But I will be patient for you to give us here the benefit of your reasoned, contextual observations, expressions, and interpretations that you have drawn out of the text.

For you have merely just given us a text that you say imlies something. Demonstrate is so that it is no longer an implication, but an interpretation based upon your well-reasoned exposition. (Or at least your attempt at observations and implications of those observations!)

Otherwise, this barb of yours is no better than the proof-texting of the JW's and Mormons.


December 20, 2005 6:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Torn ACLU,

A few things that might interest you regarding the quote from D.A. Carson. First, the quotation that Antonio gave you was not actually Carson--it was Carson quoting I. Howard Marshall, who is an Arminian. Perhaps you knew that already--sounds like you and Antonio have discussed this elsewhere--but to others it may seem as if Antonio is quoting Carson. Second, Marshall's original statement is followed by this: "But this can be counterfeit and misleading." In other words, not even Marshall agrees with this statement in an unqualified way. Third, Carson gives a lengthy analysis of Marshall's quotation. Antonio has told you where to find it--you ought to give it a read. I would hate to think that you (or anyone else) would read Zane Hodges to find out what D.A. Carson believes rather than reading Carson himself.


Matt Waymeyer

December 20, 2005 7:50 PM  
Blogger torn_aclu said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

December 20, 2005 8:27 PM  
Blogger torn_aclu said...

1. How many times do I have to tell you that I have read Zane Hodges. There are people who still disagree with him even though they have read him thoroughly.

2. If Matt is correct, then I laugh. Very loudly. Then I cry. Honestly, Antonio have you read Carson's original journal article? Maybe you have and I give you the benefit of the doubt for now. I wish you had done the same with me.

3. Do I have to write a thesis for you to respond to my question on John 2? It was simply asked, and can be answered simply. So please do so.

December 20, 2005 8:36 PM  
Blogger Mowens said...

Thanks for saving me the time it would have taken to dig up that reference.


December 20, 2005 9:05 PM  
Blogger ajlin said...

There aren't two or three different Gospels preached in the Word of God. There is only one Gospel, which is revealed in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And Jesus certainly preached His death and resurrection prior to these events- though often in parable form (cf. Matt. 20:18-19; John 12:32-33). But Jesus' proclamation that He would be raised from the grave three days after His death was so well known that after He died His enemies said, "we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, `After three days I am to rise again'" (Matthew 27:63).

-P.S. Did I read something wrong, or were you asserting that the "kingdom of God" proclaimed by Jesus at the outset of His ministry was a hypothetically political kingdom?

December 20, 2005 10:14 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...


Thank you for your snippet, but this has already been discussed. That which was in the quotes is the Arminian I. Howard Marshall, and I had already said as much. What I said is that that D.A. Carson quotes him approvingly; using with these words:

"I think this analysis is largely correct"

And Matt,

my suggestion to Torn ACLU to read Zane Hodges assessment of Carson in this journal article was to show how Carson, HIS ADVISOR, mischaraterizes, misrepresents, and at some levels, straight out shows his ignorance of Free Grace theology.

And Matt.

Shame on you. You should know better having gone to the Master's Seminary, under John MacArthur.

There is no certain assurance to those who are Reformed of faith who look to works as a leg of assurance. Certainty is impossible in that system. Quite frankly, I am surprised that you don't come out and say so, as MacArthur has.

Certainty of assurance of salvation is impossible as long as perseverance in faithfulness is a test to it. MacArthur (in line with Reformed tradition) is quite verbal to the notion that not all will persevere. If this is a fear and a warning, the stated implication is that you cannot be sure.

Please see my article in my "Featured Posts" section entitled "Reformed Theology: Assurance Impossible"


December 20, 2005 11:28 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Torn ACLU,

What of Zane Hodges have you read?

As pertaining your question in John 2, as I said, I am more than willing and able to discuss it.

For me, though, to discuss it at this point, would be premature. Your question betrays many unfounded presuppositions.

I am asking that you tell me FIRST what you believe it to mean by a reasoned discourse.

Why should I bother wasting my time and energy involved in something that you are not willing to do yourself?

I find this to be a popular tactic of those who detract from Free Grace theology: to give me superficial implications drawn from Scripture so that some burden is placed upon me to somehow overcome it in relation to my theology.

No more. If you are going to bring scripture into the mix here, you must first give reasoned exposition to support your interpretation of it before using it as a means of contradicting Free Grace theology.

Are you retiscent to expound those verses, even if it is to merely give your opinion of them? At the very least do that, if you expect me to give a sufficient answer with defense to your question!

Otherwise why should I bother to put in the time you are unwilling to expend yourself?



December 20, 2005 11:40 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

You write:
There aren't two or three different Gospels preached in the Word of God. There is only one Gospel, which is revealed in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is quite unfounded.

There is no evidence that Jesus spoke to the crowds concerning his death for sin and resurrection at any time.

And when Jesus was preaching this:

Mark 1:14-15
Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."

This shows that he has not yet revealed the nature of his death and resurrection EVEN TO HIS DISCIPLES:

Matt 16:21
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.

Jesus was preaching a "gospel" before He revealed and predicted his death and resurrection, and there is not even one indication that He taught anyone but His disciples this information anyway!


I didn't say that the kingdom of God was hypothetical, but CONTINGENT at that moment in history on Israel's national repentance and acceptance of Christ as Messiah.

December 20, 2005 11:51 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I hope you got my email, Antonio.

God Bless

December 21, 2005 12:52 AM  
Blogger Mowens said...

For the sake of fairness to Dr Carson, here is the complete sentence that begins his response to Marshall's statement:

"At a merely mechanistic level, I think this analysis is largely correct" (pg. 21).

Carson then proceeds to present "three caveats" that critique Marshall's overall position. Of note in Carson's critique are the following:

1) Carson suggests that Marshall does not adequately treat passages that discuss "the security of the believer"; 2) Carson suggests "the security of the believer finally rests with God" (pg. 21)

Carson clearly does not agree wholeheartedly with Marshall's analysis of passages on this issue.


December 21, 2005 7:22 AM  
Blogger Daniel said...


What do you think that the position that treats "repentance" as meaning a change of mind? If that is the case, then repentance and faith are synonyms and the "Lordship" argument from repentance is mute.

December 21, 2005 9:25 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Yes, Carson's concession is grudging.

He rocgnizes that the Puritan doctrine and the corresponding Arminian doctrine are essentially the same in that at the bottom line:

If one does not persevere in faithful obedience he goes to hell.

And what kind of effect does this have on assurance, the topic of his article? There can be no certainty. Anyone who presently is in the faith has the potential to only have temporary faith and fall away in the future where hell will be his destiny.

It is a grudging concession, but one nevertheless, and it is demonstrable that he agrees that "The Calvinist knows that he can't fall from salvation but does not know whether he has got it."

Carson’s discussion (following his concession on p. 21), is simply an effort to salvage some superiority for the Puritan view over the Arminian one. But doubt, discouragement, and despair are the frequent fruits of a lack of assurance in both of these branches of professing Christendom.


December 21, 2005 9:58 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hi Daniel,

Many good Free Grace people believe that way. I at one time did as well. But the more I studied and followed other's on their study, the more I came to grips that repentance is essentially what the Lordship people say it is.

I like to say that repentance is exactly how John the Baptist describes it as making the crooked straight, the high and low come on level ground, and the rough ways smooth. It is a turning from sin.

Yet I deny with every bone and hair in and on my body that repentance is a condition for eternal life.

Repentance (for both the unsaved and the saved) stops or averts the temporal discipline of God's wrath for sin.

Repentance for the saved includes the idea of turning fom sin that has beset him for a period of time for the purpose of regaining harmonious relations with God, whereby fellowship can resume.

Zane Hodges has a chapter in his book "Absolutely Free" (chapter 12) that discusses repentance, and this is ONLINE here:

Chapter 12: Repentance

In the comments section here, I obviously can't even begin to give justice to this view. But Zane begins to in this chapter of his book, and finishes his work on the subject in his book "Harmony with God" which is a book dedicated to the doctrine of repentance, which can be found in the online back journal area of Chafer Seminary


December 21, 2005 10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I promised myself I would go cold turkey and not comment anymore, but I simply can't help myself. I have to ask the same question that Torn ACLU asked earlier: Have you even read the original article by D.A. Carson? The reason I ask is that I suspected that you hadn't, and then I read your comments above about Carson's concession (in your comment at 9:58 a.m.) and I realized that I had probably misjudged you and that you probably had read Carson's article after all. Then your comments about Carson's concession started to sound familiar, so I went back to Zane Hodges' response to Carson's article and found that your entire paragraph is word-for-word from Hodges' article. So I ask you, have you read the article? Tell me that I'm shameful, accuse me of being a distraction, and remind your readers that I went to The Master's Seminary under John MacArthur--and anything else that you feel you must say--but PLEASE answer the question. A simple yes or no will do. I really am dying to know.

Hoping I'm wrong,

Matt Waymeyer

December 21, 2005 10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. And you're not allowed to go and read it now and act like you had read it before! :)

December 21, 2005 11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems to me that rather than answering the implications of Lordship Theology's fatal blows to assurance, those who espouse it would rather attack Antonio.

Seems to me that he has hidden nothing. He provided the reference to Mr. Carson's article for anyone to look up, and linked to Mr. Hodges article on Carson for anyone to click on.

I'll tell you. I would be frustrated if this were my post and blog.

Anyone who has read Reformed literature on assurance knows that there is no such thing as certainty, apparently D.A. Carson as well.

But seems to me that the runaround has been instigated.

December 21, 2005 2:10 PM  
Blogger Mowens said...

I for one am not trying to attack anyone and I'm sure Matt isn't either. Everyone involved in this discussion obviously has a passion for truth. In my view (and probably Matt's also), that passion should extend not just to statements written in the Bible but also statements written by those who seek to explain the message of the Bible. Should we not all strive to fairly represent the views of godly men and women, regardless of whether or not we agree with them? I would dare say the answer is obvious. That said, it is I believe it is appropriate to ensure the views of men like Dr Carson are fairly represented. Finally, if I'm not mistaken, Antonio himself has questioned whether others have read Dr Hodges. Should others not be allowed the same opportunity to question him?


December 21, 2005 3:12 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...


how right are you. Thank you for visiting the blog.

The implications of Reformed "assurance" lies unexplored, but my character, my sincerity, and genuineness is the issue.

Matt. I have read the journal article more than once. I even have it in hard-copy. And am happy to say that you are wrong.

I don't always have time to chase these rabbit trails. This discussion does not really have any bearing on the post it is attached to. It is the after-glow of a conversation on another blog. If I can get things on this diversion clamped up quick by pasting something from Zane that I already gave the link to, I would, and did.

As anonymous stated, I am not running from anything, but have been open from the beginning.

This post was on the absolutely free nature of eternal life.

Torn ACLU and Andrew came and read (which I appreciate) and added their comments with some texts that were left untouched, as if the mere referencing to them damaged my position.

Although the ignorant may be moved by this type of argument, the critical mind knows that the JWs, the Mormons, and every cult on the block does the same thing.

The substantive issues raised by my post, and, for the matter from D.A. Carson's Reformed view of assurance, are really left untouched, while diversion turned its attention upon me, rather than stick to the issues.


December 21, 2005 7:45 PM  
Blogger J. Wendell said...

Hi Antonio~
you said, "Those who state that obedience, commitment, etc., is necessary for final salvation have frankly admitted that works are required for eternal salvation. Reformed? Nay. They have successfully transported themselves back to Rome."
I have always had a problem with such appeals from some popular evangelists, or men's movements, but at least now I can see how consistent they are in other compromises with Rome!

Good post,
brother John

December 21, 2005 8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


This may be hard for you to believe, but I am sincerely glad to find out I was wrong. I would have bet my last nickel that you hadn't read Carson's article prior to your comments about it, but as you said, I was wrong.

As for chasing down rabbit trails, I can certainly sympathize with you. You are willing to interact with far more comments than I ever would if I were you. And all of this on top of the busy stuff of everyday life!

I fully realize that you are not looking to me for advice, but I would suggest that you pick and choose and only respond to people when you think it would guide the dialogue in what you believe is the most profitable direction. (You're probably thinking that that would mean ignoring my comments!) After all, this is your blog.

I would also recommend slowing down long enough to give credit to Zane Hodges when you cut and paste from his works. When you quote from him--especially when you do it word-for-word and for paragraphs at a time--and do not give him credit, it really does become an ethical issue. Take that for whatever you think it's worth.

Lastly, I really had no intention of commenting on your blog again until I saw what appeared to be a quote from D.A. Carson. I, along with most of your readers, was not privy to anything else you may have written elsewhere about this quote, but as it stood, it appeared that you were saying that D.A. Carson himself made the statement. Then it appeared that you were saying that D.A. Carson endorsed the statement. Neither of these things is true, and therefore I saw them as misleading and unhelpful to your readers as they sort through these difficult issues.

Frankly, it is disappointing to me when people misrepresent the position of their theological opponents, regardless of what side they are on. This serves nobody, and it wreaks of seeking to win an argument at the expense of truth. I was disappointed to read Carson's article and find that he misunderstood and misrepresented Hodges' position on repentance (i.e., he was assuming that Hodges takes the position of Ryrie--change of mind instead of turning from sin), and I was also disappointed to see Hodges' treatment of Carson's response to I. Howard Marshall (the quickest and easiest thing to point a finger at would be Hodges' use of an ellipsis to leave out the crucial disclaimer of Marshall's: "But this can be counterfeit and misleading"). All of us need to be careful about this kind of thing, and I would include you.

Anyway, I'll leave it at that for now, and probably for good. Just make sure you don't draw me into the conversation again.

OK??? :-)

Matt Waymeyer

December 21, 2005 8:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. And I would also recommend deleting comments that are posted anonymously. If Bob Wilkin wants to comment on the discussion, let him sign his name like the rest of us!!! :)

December 21, 2005 8:56 PM  
Blogger Larry said...

"Musing: Eternal life is Absolutely Free!", December 18, 2005 10:05 AM.
Antonio was saying,
Salvation is "Absolutely Free!" What do I mean by absolutely free?

No strings. No caveats. No provisos. Just:

...let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. (Rev 22:17)

OK. Let's hold each other to it.

One of the things that describes English Calvinism according to R.T. Kendall -- and correctly so, I think -- is a particular kind of "'reflex' act of faith" (p. 3, Calvin and English Calvinism).

By reflex, he means that some of the English Calvinists were testing themselves like a doctor checks your knee for a reflex. This would come after the "'direct' act of faith (p. 3)," which, for the time being, let's associate with with taking the water of life freely in Rv 22:17.

Anyway, the English Calvinists were often testing themselves and making conclusions about themselves using this reflex test. Kendall gives some examples of this test.

"I believe in Christ, I renounce my selfe, all my joy and comfort is in him ... therefore I am the childe of God." (p. 71). This is the writer William Perkins, 1558-1602, that Kendall is quoting.

We note the two (or three) additions, "I renounce my selfe," "all my joy is in him," and similarly comfort.

The question of whether such additions are agglutination -- that is, pasting things onto faith which are different than faith -- or attribution, that is, describing things which are attributes of faith -- is the whole Lordship Salvation issue in a nutshell, and I don't want to talk about that here, except to say that I "vitriolically disagree" with Lordship Salvation (nice phrase, Antonio! I can't remember what post that was in.)

On that same page (p. 71) is quoted a smaller version of this "practical syllogism," again by Perkins:

"Everyone that beleeves is the child of God:
But I doe beleeve:
Therefore I am the child of God."

Notice the additions are not there. If we were to talk to Perkins, saying, "why do you say only 'everyone that beleeves' in one place, and in another place, say 'I beleeve in Christ, I renounce my selfe, all my joy and comfort is in him'," he might say "of course that's what it means to beleeve: to have all your joy in Christ, to have all your comfort in Christ, to renounce your selfe." In other words, he would be on the "attributive" side, what we call the Lordship Salvation side, that faith includes the kitchen sink, all kinds of things.

But here's what happens to the kitchen sink. It gets fuller and fuller. (My actual kitchen sink happens to be pretty full right now....) On that same page (71), Kendall quotes Perkins again:

"I beleeve in Christ and repent: at the least I subject my will to the commandment which bids me repent & beleeve: I detest my unbeleefe, & al my sinnes: and desire the Lord to increase my faith. Therefore I am the child of God."

What happened to "Everyone that beleeves is the child of God"?

Repenting, subjecting your will, having desires are all, in this version, members of the kitchen sink. Also detesting "my unbeleefe", and detesting "all my sinnes" is listed.

What would be Perkins' rebuttal? That these are all attributes of faith.

I would like to notice for further discussion later, the sliding scale: "at the least." Believing in Christ is seen as a collection of things, a collection, for Perkins, that had a minimum. The idea that faith is a collection of things with a minimum is a very common presupposition, and I don't think it should go unnoticed.

Anyway, we see also that in that same quote of Perkins, Perkins has changed his first sentence of the syllogism. "He that beleeves and repents, is Gods child. Thus saith the Gospell: But I beleeve in Christ and repent: at the least, ..." etc.

So, were we to ask Perkins, imaginatively, why he in two places has "whosoever beleeveth in Christ," and "everyone that beleeves", and in a third place has "he that beleeves and repents", he might say that repenting is an attribute of believing.

In Lordship Salvation parlance, the phrase is "repentant faith." Attributive.

Now, Antonio, please consider the implications for your own attribute you have given to faith in this post. "Purposeful."

December 23, 2006 7:52 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hey Larry,

you sure do put alot in before you make your point!

Great stuff though!

Let me ask you a question.

I wonder what you think I mean when I say "purposeful". How do you think I use it that it would modify what faith is?

I believe that you are wrong here, and this is an issue I would die on.

Are you implying that I am distinguishing a category for a type of faith like the LS do?

Thanks for the interaction! Merry Christmas!

Oh yeah, about your question and verse you bring up in 1 Cor 15. I don't see how that verse gives would give a problem with my view about the Pauline intended audiences.

As a side note, can you point to a passage where an unbeliever is addressed?

It would make a good study and article, though.


Merry Christmas and blessings! May your Christmas yield a significane that will be remembered by you and your family for life!


December 23, 2006 3:37 PM  
Blogger Larry said...

Hello Antonio!

On Christmas Eve, I also want to thank you for your invocation of blessings toward me and my family.

Can I throw in an opinion about that? The world wants us to celebrate Christmas up until Christmas (and on Christmas if we must). Since it doesn't gain monetarily while we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Day without further shopping, all its influence (to paint it with a broad brush, generalizing) is geared toward the days before Christmas, because of shopping.

But I think we can be a testimony by engaging in great celebration on Christmas day itself, and afterwards, as the Lord provides opportunity for the world to see us celebrating afterwards, because of the event, irrespective of their gain.

I also believe that assurance is of the essense of faith, as I think you do, and the Reformers. That doesn't make us wrong or right, because we agree, but I wanted to clear up anything related to that in which you could have come to some conclusion such as "I believe that you are wrong here, and this is an issue I would die on."

Speaking as you do about dying for things, I would hope that if the time came for that, I also (without bragging like Peter did in the gospels) would consider it an honor to uphold the sufficiency of Christ to that personal extent. Assurance being of the essense of faith is a corollary of the sufficiency of Christ. If Christ's work is sufficient to fully save me, then there is no insufficiency in it to compel me to look for something else to assure me.

December 24, 2006 6:33 AM  

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