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)

Friday, February 03, 2006

Absurdities in Action

Traditionalists are very funny to watch, often funny to read, yet, to use a phrase from Daniel of Doulogos, we must watch in "morbid fascination".

Take for instance Jonathan Moorhead's discussion over at his blog.

He wants to talk about "certainty" (something those of the Reformed persuasion necessarily can't have with relation to their knowledge of their own election or reprobation) and "boasting" as if someone receiving a free gift can now boast. He seems to not realize that there is a difference between legitamate boasting and absurd boasting. That we receive eternal life through the instrumentality of our faith precludes us from legitamate boasting; faith is not a work, as it is held in Reformed theology, but the intermediate agency, the instrument by which we receive the absolutely free gift of eternal life.

In his discussion of certainty, he implies that the word "certain" meant something different to Calvin than it does in "post-enlightenment" thought.

Come see the absurdities in this post and comment thread:

Are you 100% Certain?

The anti-intellectual musings here are repugnant! He asks what certainty is.

My dictionaries all say that it is "freedom from doubt" which has resulted from being convinced/persuaded upon consideration of communication and/or evidence. (By the way, being convinced that something is true passively brings faith which IS certainty--freedom from doubts).

Of course he is just rehashing the same position of the Traditionalistic religion: that one can have "infallible assurance" yet at the same time cannot be 'certain' (in the post-enlightenment sense, lol) that one has eternal life. If this is not absurd, please tell me what is.

In the comment thread I quoted John Calvin, who is at variance with modern Traditional doctrine and thought in these senses: Calvin's definition of faith and his declaration on where assurance comes from is lightyears away from the modern anti-intellectual thoughts on the same.

What was Jonathan's response? Certainty ≠ freedom from doubt but = something less than being certain. Click on the link above and view the absurdities.

Next we have the newest post by Jon Moorhead concerning boasting (which will quickly turn into a discussion on the nature of what 'faith' is; actually it is already turning out that way) where he says that to believe in the gospel is tantamount to "works-salvation".

Arminians (me and you) believe in Works Salvation

Along the lines of our beloved Rose~, who has instituted a blogger award for not being pig-headed, I must seriously consider instituting an award for blatant absurdity. The Bible says that we receive the Spirit by "the hearing of faith" (Gal 3:2, 5); that we are in the present state of already having been saved (the Greek perfect-periphrastic participle in Eph 2:8) through faith; that faith is in contradistinction from works (Eph 2:9); that boasting is precluded by "the law of faith" (Rom 3:27).

No. But believing the gospel for eternal life is works-salvation where we can legitamately boast that we saved ourselves, so goes Jon's logic.

Jonathan Moorhead, these posts deserve my Most Absurd Blogger Award (If I had one...)

Lastly, we have a chat room, message board thread that I want you to view. I often check where people are linking to my blog from and I found this thread. It is at Derek Webb's message board.

Anyone Here a Zane Hodges fan?

The topic started with the question : Did John Piper disavow a comment he made. Which comment? A comment that I quote often of him that the OP author read on my blog. The quote:

"...we must also own up to the fact that our final salvation is made contingent upon the subsequent obedience which comes from faith." (John Piper "TULIP: What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism...", pg 25)

Many Traditionalists rightly distance themselves with this statement, finding it utterly repulsive and anti-biblical.

But still many others wish to identify with this quote and others from men like A.W. Pink:

"There is a deadly and damnable heresy being widely propagated today to the effect that, if a sinner truly accepts Christ as his personal Saviour, no matter how he lives afterwards, he cannot perish. That is a satanic lie, for it is at direct variance with the teaching of the Word of truth. Something more than believing in Christ is necessary to ensure the soul's reaching heaven." (A.W. Pink as quoted by Iain H. Murray in "The Life of Arthur W. Pink" pgs 248-249)

In this thread the contributers are arguing that salvation is conditioned on works, but these works are non-meritorious. Where does that unbiblical and absurd notion come from?

Gerstner, in his book attacking dispensationalists, writes that virtually all dispensationalists do not see the elementary difference between non-meritorious "requirements," "conditions," "necessary obligations," "indispensable duties," and "musts," as the natural outworking of true faith, in distinction from faith in the Savior plus meritorious works as the very basis of salvation (Wrongly Dividing... 226).

Guilty as charged! I confess, I do not see this distinction in Scripture. In fact it isn’t there. It exists in Classical Calvinist/Lordship Salvation theology, but not in the Bible. Works are works; they either are or are not necessary for salvation. With the apostle Paul, I say they are not; we are saved "by grace…through faith…not of works" (Eph 2:8-9). If salvation is in any sense conditioned on works then "grace is no longer grace" (Rom 11:6).

Antonio da Rosa
Lakeside, CA

30 Comments:

Blogger Bhedr said...

This is why I agreed with you, but now I see why my Sunday School teacher was right as you mock.
You have bitterness or something in your heart.

You need to repent!

I'm just going to ask you Antonio point blank as you mock others, are you sure that you know Him and not just know about Him?

February 03, 2006 7:20 PM  
Blogger Bhedr said...

Are you sure you don't believe in Jesus through the lens of Zane Hodges? That too is Popery

February 03, 2006 7:22 PM  
Blogger H K Flynn said...

Antonio,

Let me tell you, I love how you don't get bogged down in nonsense and see the arguments made for what they truly are.

I'm still a little under the weather but looking forward to getting back in a blogging groove.

God bless you in your work, brother,

Jodie

February 03, 2006 7:58 PM  
Anonymous bobby grow said...

It seems that Antonio makes assertions then subtantiates with reasoned coherent responses--how is this mocking, bhedr? Just because you don't agree with his conclusions, doesn't mean he's mocking.

Maybe Antonio is just passionate about what he believes to be true. Maybe this excitement overflows a bit, but it doesn't seem, to me, that Antonio engages in ad hominem; rather he seems to be attacking the unsubstantiated ideas being presented by some. OK I'm going to stop, I'm starting to feel like an Antonio Apologist, which he surely doesn't need ;-).

February 03, 2006 9:00 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Antonio,
I'm very new to both Calvinism and Free Grace - how the differ and perhaps even how they agree. So please forgive my questions if they sound ignorant. Can you help to clear up some things for me?
I don't understand exactly what you mean when you write: "...'certainty' [something those of the Reformed persuasion necessarily can't have with relation to their knowledge of their own election or reprobation]' "
Don't Calvinists believe that God predestined their salvation in Him? Their inheritance as children of God? That God foreknew and chose them before the foundation of the Earth? So why can't those of the Reformed persuasion have certainty in relation to the knowledge of their own election? I would think that believing in God's predestination of the elect would grant all the more assurance.
And secondly, you write: " 'boasting' as if someone receiving a free gift can now boast."
But isn't salvation by Christ's dying for us and our acceptance of that death in our place a free gift? And can we not boast about the cross, as Paul writes?
Thanks for clearing up these points for me.
I'm getting a lot out of the discussions at Daniel's and Jonathan's blogs, as well as your own.
I'm guessing what bhedr means about the mocking is this: When I read someone citing someone else by name and then picking apart their theologies, sometimes the two get confused - the person with the theology. That can leave the impression of a personal attack (which sometimes is indeed there, sometimes not). The medium of writing leaves much to be desired.
As for myself, I would prefer to see more emphasis on the theology and less on adherents' names. There's enough division in the family of Christ. Must we really start giving one another labels of 'absurd' and 'pig-headed'?

February 04, 2006 6:06 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Fiery stuff, Antonio, but well-reasoned. There is a lot of absurdity about.

God Bless

Matthew

February 04, 2006 9:40 AM  
Anonymous bobby grow said...

Susan,

The reformed indeed believe in predestination and election, the problem is they don't know whether they are one of the elect that Christ died for, thus the constant need to prove, by the doing of particular works, to prove that indeed they are one of the elect--and not just a recipient of so called "temporary faith". This historically has been labeled "experimental predestinarianism".

This view is also tied to their understanding of limited atonement--since Christ only died for the elect, and not for everyone, there is only a particular group that indeed is elect--thus the consequence of trying to "prove" ones election; more like obsession--which this ongoing discussion only seems to bare out.

Hope this helps clarify, I'm sure Antonio can provide a good word here too . . .

In Christ

February 04, 2006 10:43 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Brian, there is no repentance in faith, nor is repentance a theological requirement for eternal life.

I have already stated that repentance can come before faith, at the same time as faith and afterward.

But your view of repentance is not the same as the New Testament view. Repentance in not a mere change of mind. Repentance is a change of behavior as well.

Repentance never, ever, ever is a THEOLOGICAL requirement for eternal life.

But, depending on the person, there may be logical requirements.

The atheist will have to be persuaded in theism LOGICALLY before he can believe in Jesus for eternal life.

There is a difference between theological and logical requirements.

Jesus says, "Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life."

Why would I want to believe Jesus' promise here?

Because He died for the sins of the world and rose bodily from the dead.

How can a mere man take the sins of the whole world?

Because He was both God and Man.

How could He be that?

The virgin birth, etc.

People need to have some questions answered logically before they can believe in Christ for eternal life.

Repentance in no way is theologically necessary for eternal life.

February 04, 2006 11:29 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Susan,

Thank you so much for your participation here and your questions.

The Calvinist knows that all who are elect will certainly enter heaven. But they cannot know with certainty that they are elect. For them, it would take a revelation that is beyond scripture. You see, they cannot tell with certainty that they will persevere in faith until the end.

Two articles I wrote on this will help you tremendously:

Calvinism and Assurance of Election

This article has been the most controversial of the articles I have written so far.

Next is:

If you believe in Christ today, You may not believe in Him tomorrow, for you are just a Reprobate with God Given temporary faith; in the words of John MacArthur, You may be a spiritual defector who hasn't defected yet

You wrote about boasting.

Of course we can boast in the cross.

But to the Calvinist, who believes that God sovereignly imposes regeneration and faith on the elect person who hated God, those who are not Calvinists believe in Works Salvation because we say we believe in Christ for eternal life!

They say that this is the order of someone getting saved:

God chose the person.
God makes a person give the elect one the gospel
God effectually calls
God imposes sovereign regeneration
God imposes faith
God saves

But I say, along with the Bible, that one is saved by believing in Jesus through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in cooperation with the convicting Word of God.

I say that men are saved by grace through faith, and my position to the Calvinist is tantamount to works-salvation, because I had to "do" something to receive eternal life.

Antonio

February 04, 2006 11:42 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Hi Antonio.
J. Moorehead? I saw your comment on his blog about a month ago when you told him you love him. So, I will take it that although your post sounds harsh to my "ears", you are only labeling his ideas as absurd, and not the man himself. I get your point. One thing about Moorehead, he likes to "push the envelope".

February 04, 2006 12:23 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

'Push the envelope'
What does that actually mean, Rose~?

February 04, 2006 12:41 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Rose, may I?

"Push the envelope"

This simply means to push the boundaries of accepted thinking, action, or practice. It is used when one wants to stimulate discussion, or argument in a provocative sense.

Matthew,

I would love to read a post about all the colloquial sayings native to the English tongue. That would be rather entertaining.

Cheerio mate,

Jim

February 04, 2006 12:50 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Antonio,

You popish fiend! :~)

February 04, 2006 12:52 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Aww, Jim beat me to it, Matthew. He keeps going behind my comments and explaining them to you! thanks Jim! :~)

I was going to give Matthew this link:
Pushing the envelope: what does it mean?

But now I don't have to.

February 04, 2006 12:57 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Sorry Rose, maybe we should put together a list of colloquial definitions for our good friend.

Your definition here is probably much more scientifically accurate anyways.

February 04, 2006 12:59 PM  
Anonymous bobby grow said...

Moorhead, from my perspective unkowingly contradicts himself, on his most recent article on certainty. I'm not quite sure I would agree that he is pushing the envelope, he's outside of it.

I think we must be comfortable with tension, relative to things salvific in scripture, rather than needing to find logical coherence such as the TULIP presents.

That’s what I find ironic about Jonathan Moorhead’s most current article and perspective on rational certainty–he seems to naively embrace a theological construct that affirms (rational coherence and thus certainty, ie.Calvinism, TULIP is a logical syllogism)what he supposedly denies, when it comes to assurance and salvation–i.e.mathematical/rational certainty. I appreciate Jonathan, I just think he misses the fact that much of his soteriological foundation has been built upon a system that integrates Aristotelian rationality with Christian lingua franca/theology. Thus the irony of his position, at least from what I’ve seen of it . . .

February 04, 2006 1:10 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Antonio and Bobby,
I deeply appreciate your explanations. It's going to take me some time to digest them, more than just a quick read on my monitor. I often have to print out these discussions and read them at night, highlighting points and referring to growing number of new books on my shelves, thanks to y'all. (For our friend over the pond, that's "you all" in Southern US colloquial speak; I'm a displaced northerner - from Pgh, Pa -, and "y'all" is really just one step up from "yu'uns," i.e., "you ones." Go Steelers!)
Ahem. Sorry.
Antonio, I shall print your articles from the links you provided to think through and digest.
Matthew, I am grateful for the reading recommendations you gave to Anonymous over on Rose's blog. They're now printed to consider as possible reading sources in the future and are serving as a bookmark in "The Story of Christianity" (Justo L Gonzalez), in which I'm learning a few things about the names I've only recently learned about through the blogosphere (Arminius, Calvin, Hobbes, oops, not the last one).
Thank you all for addressing my questions so respectfully and generously.
If you don't mind, I'll be asking more...

February 04, 2006 1:17 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Well, Susan, Thomas Hobbes might be worth reading for a better understanding of political philosophy.

Not so good for theology, though.

God Bless

Matthew

February 04, 2006 1:26 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

My brother-in-law is from Seattle so I guess I'll be throwing my weight behind the Seahawks.

Who am I kidding, I couldn't care less who wins. Just ask Matthew, he would say they aren't even playing football. :)

February 04, 2006 1:33 PM  
Blogger Shawn L said...

Susan,

If you want to learn about calvinism from a baptist perspective read some from John Piper and John MacArthur's websites.

www.biblebb.com - John MacArthur
www.desiringgod.org - John Piper

Antonio might have some sites from traditional dispensationalists who believe calvinistic thought as well.

I don't think you can adequately learn about calvinistic thought at this blog however you will see some of the possible errors in it's thought just like I can't learn about Zane Hodges' theology from an Anti-Zane website however you will find some of the possible errors in it's thought.

February 04, 2006 1:34 PM  
Blogger Bhedr said...

Antonio,

I think both of us knee jerked last night. I as well as you. Forgive me.

Perhaps passion and zeal inhibits us from seeing this. You remind me much of myself. So to get angry with you is to get angry with myself.

Take care

February 04, 2006 1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Susan, instead of going to the sites Shawn mentions why not plunge into the wonderful world of historical theology yourself.

Three very good books, not to technical, are an Historical Theology" author Geoffrey Bromiley; "The Age of Reform" author Steven Ozment; "Early Christian Doctrines" author J.N.D. Kelly; and one more for good measure, more technical too, is called "Listening to the Past:The Place of Tradition in Theology" author Stephen Holmes.

I think approaching this issue through looking at the grand sweep of Church History and History of Ideas will provide you with a much better vantage point to then go on and read Piper and MacArthur with a more informed and critical eye. I.e. You'll better be able to avoid indoctrination that you'll receive by reading such authors, at this point.

In Christ,
Bobby Grow

February 04, 2006 2:04 PM  
Blogger Shawn L said...

Antonio/Rose,

I think you guys forget that Moor is sleepless in his house with a new little child. I wonder if this affects any of the pushing of the envelope because the brain is pushing then?

Bobby,

It can go both ways. So you are suggesting not to read from those who oppose your theological position? That seems weird, why else do I like reading Antonio's site. That statement you wrote might be better than your first statement because it is good to study the history of theological thought and learn about the reformation, etc.

My point is it is good to go to the source of what someone is saying and why they are saying it rather than just reading "anti" sites. I think calvinists should be reading Antonio as well as other free grace sites.

Susan,

I hope this makes sense, but to me it's always best to get the information through the person's who believes the theology rather than someone filtering it for you. I've learned this at Antonio's site.

Many times I read what J Mac said, but I think I have learned about the free grace position better by reading antonio and other free grace websites online even though I disagree with aspects of it. Also I would suggest as well that the internet is not the best way to learn theology directly. It's always good to read theological books because theology on the internet seems to sometimes be short and superficial rather than exhaustive and clear. For example, Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem is a good introduction into theological differences. He clearly is a calvinist, but discusses the differences between theological positions rather well and such. I am planning on buying that soon.

February 04, 2006 2:12 PM  
Anonymous bobby grow said...

Shawn,

My encouragement to Susan was to go ahead and equip herself, before going to teachers, such as Piper and MacArthur, so she might have a more critical eye when approaching their teaching; given the fact that she admittedly is new to all of this discussion.

If you'll remember I said "before" she goes to those sites, and teachers you mentioned; I think it's invaluable to go to the sources--that's why I challenged her, and you too, BTW, to go to the sources (i.e. read Luther, Calvin, Perkins, Turretin, Aquinas, etc). This will allow her to realize how much of "our" interpretation is actually read through the lenses provided by such characters in church history.

The problem I see with Piper and MacArthur, is that when they supposedly do pure exegesis of the text of scripture, they in fact, conscious, or not, interpret it through the theological categories provided by, say for example, the Synod of Dort--thus providing a hybrid interpretation of the text--such as Calvinism/Arminianism both provide. It's not until a person becomes aware of these informing theological interpretive traditions that he/she can then stand back and "read out" of the text of scrip. more; thus "reading less into it".

I'm the last one to say not to go to the source--but IMO Piper and MacArthur (they are by-products) aren't the source in this instance--the Reformed interpretive tradition is . . . that's all I was trying to say. Hopefully that helps clarify :)!

BTW I have an article at my site that deals with the differences between Calvin and Luther's approach to establishing a soteriological framework.

February 04, 2006 9:19 PM  
Blogger Gordon Cloud said...

At the risk of sounding overly-simplistic here, we might try reading our Bibles and interpreting them ourselves. I know, I know, there is a lot to be said for learning what others say about Scriptures, but if we yield our spiritual right to let the Holy Spirit guide us into the truth of the Word, then we forfeit one of the most precious blessings of being a child of God.

On another note, does anyone here know of a Calvinist who would willing admit that some of his family may not be in the elect?

February 04, 2006 10:36 PM  
Anonymous bobby grow said...

Gordon I agree, we need to rely on the Holy Spirit--but I think it's important to remember that we are apart of the "body of Christ" that includes the past and present. In other words the Holy Spirit has spoken through His body for centuries, and it behooves us to honor that. Obviously there are positive and negative things to glean from the past. We are all products of interpretive communities/traditions--we don't live in a vaccuum.

We, as Protestants need to recognize that ,and be aware of that so we don't unconsciously imbue scripture with something it might not be saying. We also want to observe what questions the Bible asks, and then allow it to answer those questions on its own terms; and not artificially impose our questions, thus manipulating our answers from the text.

February 04, 2006 11:00 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Matthew, actually I was referring to Hobbes the stuffed tiger, a friend of a little animated guy named Calvin in the comic strip "Calvin and Hobbes." I see someone (candyinsierras) has grabbed up an image of Hobbes as her avatar; You can see the Hobbes to which I referred in the comments section on Daniel's (doulogos') site.
I did, however, order one copy each of books that share the same name: Systematic Theology - one by Louis Berkhof and the other by Wayne Grudem. I suspect I'll have to start with the latter, since it's probably more at my level. One step up (okay, maybe more) from comic strip.
Thanks for the links, Shawn. I'm taking everything slowly and digesting and praying over what I read. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit speaks my language in a way I can understand. Not always, but usually.
Bobby, I greatly appreciate the reading suggestions. I'm going to print them out and take a careful look at them before purchasing. My bookshelves are becoming quite full with printouts from blogs, as well as new book purchases.
I do agree with Shawn that I'll continue reading blogs that are Calvinist in theology as well as those that don't agree. Simply because I'm not sure which way I lean at the moment; it's all new and interesting to me at this point, although the back-and-forth proving of why 'the other guy' is wrong grows wearisome.
I find predestination discussions of greatest interest; I hear so little of that in churches. In the book "The Story of Christianity" (Justo Gonzalez), it states that although Calvin and Arminius were actually in agreement on predestination, they debated the basis on which predestination takes place. In fact, all the controversy wasn't as much between Calvin and Arminius as it was between their followers (or so this book says).
I also just got "Calvin for Armchair Theologians" cuz it dumbs down the language to my level.
I will definitely be asking more questions here, and I thank you all for your patience and gracious understanding. As well as advice.

February 05, 2006 6:19 AM  
Blogger Shawn L said...

Gordon,

Your point is the best point in all. Better than what I said.

Spend the most of your time in your bibles, praying and contemplating throughout the whole year. That is why I try to encourage all people I know to read the bible in a year. In my area it seems very few people do this, but I don't know if that is true.

February 05, 2006 6:44 AM  
Blogger Shawn L said...

Susan,

For a simplified version of Systematic Theology by Grudem, I would suggest Bible Doctrine by Grudem.

Our church in a sunday school type class went through Substitutionary Atonement with that book. Very good ideed. I really enjoyed that the 16 and up could understand it.

I need to buy both of them, but my pastor recommends everyone to get Bible Doctrine for 16 and up. I was so suprised the sweet joy of the 20 - 26 year olds that read through this book on substitutionary atonement. It was quite an encouraging time for them to really study all of the scriptures on substitutionary atonement. Our foundations in the faith group will be buying that book for more people to use at our church

February 05, 2006 7:10 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Susan, I was joking. I knew you were referring to Calvin and Hobbes.

God Bless

Matthew

February 05, 2006 8:44 AM  

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