Monday, July 20, 2009

Great Calvinist Post About Assurance of Salvation and the Extreme Fundamentalistic "Faith Alone" Position of Virtual Antinomianism

My Reformed friend over at The Porter's Lodge blog has written a great post, that I feel can be very educational to many Catholics (and Protestants as well) who have an improper understanding of mainstream, classical Reformed Protestant (Calvinist) soteriology. It's very aptly entitled "Preserve Us From Our Sins, O Lord." I made a strong affirming comment there. It won't show up for a little while, because the comments are moderated. But here it is:
I agree with this post. This is how an informed Reformed Protestant views his faith. The radically faith alone position where one signs a dotted line and proceeds to do whatever he likes, is not the mainstream position, but a radical innovation of the last two centuries or so, and of post-Enlightenment fundamentalistic distortions of the original 16th century Calvinism and the best proponents of it to this day.

I agree that both Catholics and Calvinists have a reasonable assurance of one's own position and relationship with God. It works out pretty much the same in practice. I don't worry any more about my ultimate salvation as a Catholic, than I did as a Protestant. If anything, I feel more assurance, because I know that if I mess up (as long as it is not something extremely serious, or mortal sin) that there is purgatory to take care of that, which means I am saved.

Related papers of mine:

John Calvin Taught That Good Works Are Part of Every Christian's Life and the Inevitable Manifestation of a True Saving Faith and Justification

Biblical Evidence Regarding a Vigilant, Pauline, Catholic Moral Assurance of Faith With Perseverance, in Hope

When either a Catholic or a Calvinist is serious about being a disciple of Jesus, the practical, outward consequences will be the same: a showing forth of the love of Christ and fruits of the Holy Spirit, evident in piety, charity, and good works (and an absence of sins, at least major, ongoing ones).

I'd much rather fellowship and talk things over with a devout Calvinist than a lukewarm Catholic, any day of the week. I'd even say the former probably has a better shot at getting to heaven, all things considered.
Note: the same is true of Martin Luther's position as well (which is often caricatured and misunderstood by Catholics). See my paper: Martin Luther on Sanctification and the Absolute Necessity of Good Works as the Proof of Authentic Faith.

49 comments:

Randy said...

This is a little like Mark Shea's recent comments. That Calvinists live much more Catholicly than their creeds would lead you to think. That was my experience as a Calvinist for my first 35+ years. Predestination and external security were things we believed but not really. They were truths that made sense when you saw the world from God's side. From our side it would look like free will and perseverance were key. So TULIP was something you learned in catechism but not something you lived.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Randy said...

"Predestination and external[sic] security were things we believed but not really."

Oh, I believe them. Really. These doctrines are also something I live every day because they inform all my decisions in life.

Randy makes a good point about perspective; that is, God's and ours. I don't think in terms of being among the elect (God's purview and perspective) as much as in terms of being a disciple of Christ (the believer's perspective).

God has only revealed to us so much about Himself and His plan. Our creaturely minds should take nothing for granted. This is why Reformed folks take to heart what Peter says about making our calling and election sure, that is, sure to ourselves (2 Peter 1:3, 10). The idea is not to make oneself elect; that we cannot do. But we are to examine the fruits of our lives that we may have assurance that we are in Christ Jesus. Believers are to be known by their fruits (Mt. 7:16, 20).

Dave said...

"I'd much rather fellowship and talk things over with a devout Calvinist than a lukewarm Catholic, any day of the week. I'd even say the former probably has a better shot at getting to heaven, all things considered."

Well at least I have a shot! That's better odds than some folks give me! Thanks, Dave! And thanks for the post and the links.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

A couple more important points...

I would also add that "faith alone" in Reformed thought is shorthand for salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. In this system, faith is belief as it is evidenced by good works. This is where James comes in:

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves (James 1:22).

When speaking of a Fundamentalist (non-Reformed) Evangelical Protestant position, I would be inclined to call their system "belief alone," or "decision alone," as any idea of works which can be in any way connected to God's plan of salvation is abhorrent to them.

And not realising, of course, that in their system they make "belief" a work which they do meritoriously, regardless of any other works that may attend their walk with Christ.

Dave Armstrong said...

Aren't some Calvinists (hyper-Calvinists) of that extreme, unbiblical belief, too, though?

Not all fundamentalists are Arminians, by any stretch.

Dave Armstrong said...

Wasn't the Lordship salvation controversy (and I came down firmly o the side of Lordship as an evangelical in the 80s) within the ranks of Calvinists as well as between Calvinists and other Protestants?

Rene'e said...

Dave, your the subject of blog rant over at:

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/


You must of hit a nerve or something.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

You may be right in saying that hyper-Calvinists believe they can live their lives any way they wish without eternal consequence. I don't want to go into much detail regarding them because I think I would probably not represent their views accurately. I need more study on the issue. I don't think they believe in evangelism, although I couldn't tell you how they get around the Scriptures on that. I can tell you, though, that Calvinists get their dander up when accused of being hyper-Calvinists.

If we're speaking historically of the "Fundamentalist-Modernist" controversy of the early 20th century, then this covers, more broadly, conservative Evangelical Protestants as a whole, which include Arminians and Calvinists.

The first controversy of my denomination in 1937 was over the nature of its character. A group of conservative individuals (Reformed faculty) at Princeton Seminary and elsewhere, having fought years of sweeping liberalism in the Presbyterian Church USA and elsewhere, began anew with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Those conservatives were both Arminians and Calvinists. It was decided that the new work would follow Reformed (Calvinistic) principles as opposed to American Evangelicalism (Arminian) principles.

Today when we refer to fundamentalists, it is Evangelical Protestantism of the Arminian character (admittedly the majority report today) that is in view. Reformed people generally don't refer to themselves as "fundamentalists" for this reason, since Reformed principles are those that are popularly known as "Calvinistic." So by these historic definitions, all fundamentalists are Arminian, at least by their official creeds.

In addition to being an issue between Calvinists and Arminians, the Lordship Salvation controversy was, to some degree, also an intra-mural problem. In popular writings, John MacArthur, apparently, needed to be corrected on some matters by others who are better informed by Reformed theology. MacArthur is a curious one; he is considered a "progressive dispensationalist," which is not exactly Reformed and not exactly Arminian, though more Reformed than not. Dispensationalism is somewhat different than Covenant theology.

Just as a kind of humourous side note:

My former Pastor (now with his Lord) once said that where prayer is concerned, all Arminians are Calvinists. He meant that when everyone is in a room praying for the salvation of someone, they drop all pretense of offical creed:

"Lord, please break through Joe's hard heart! Bring him to Yourself, Father. Remove that stony heart of his and make his heart a heart of flesh, in Jesus' Name, Amen!"

How Arminians can reconcile asking God to intervene and override the human will without seeing the irony of their request is quite astonishing.

Dave Armstrong said...

You must of hit a nerve or something.

As usual. Thanks! :-)

Dave Armstrong said...

Oh, so you are OPC? I read that book by J. Gresham Machen years ago. It had a big influence on my thinking (also , Francis Schaeffer).

I have a local friend who is in the OPC. He has come to a lot of my group discussions.

Thanks for the comment. I didn't know some of those details.

I'm curious. Some of the people I've interacted with (ha ha) are young earth creationists and also Reformed. Would you classify that as "fundamentalist" or do you think that is that a different issue altogether, that crosses theological lines?

Ken Temple said...

The Lordship Salvation controversy was mostly among Baptists and independent Evangelicals who are Baptistic and yet, emphasized, based on an experience or decision, "Once Saved, always Saved" which is a distortion (being incomplete) of "Perseverance of the Saints". John MacArthur rightly recognized the truth of the historic doctrine of the "Perseverance of the Saints"; but many American Evangelical Baptists had drifted into, (as someone has mentioned) a "decisionism" salvation or I had this experience in the past, (walking the aisle, saying the sinner's prayer, raising your hand), as if those things in themselves bring justification or salvation. They do not.

MacArthur and Reformed Baptists and Presbyterians were correct.

Michael said...

Two questions:

Is salvation predicated on a man's decision? Or is salvation something that God does, from first to last?

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Thanking Dave in advance for letting me post a very short and imperfect/incomplete explanation of the Protestant doctrine to Michael:

In a nutshell from the Reformed Protestant perspective:

Justification
Justification is a one-time declaration by God that the sinner is not guilty based on the imputation of the active and passive obedience (righteousness) of Christ to that sinner.

This righteousness is appropriated by grace through faith in Him.

God overrides the sinner's natural inclination to hate God (regeneration) in order that the sinner might become a disciple of Christ (choose/decide to follow Him). This is monergistic (God's work).

Sanctification
Sanctification (growing in grace and becoming more Christ-like in thought and behaviour) is synergistic; that is, we cooperate with the Spirit in that growth process.

Glorification
Glorification of the believer's mind, body and soul will occur when Christ returns at the consummation of history to call His church home to heaven to be with Him forever.

Summary
So salvation belongs to the Lord on our behalf from first to last, but the subset of sanctification involves our deep cooperation our whole life long. Any decision we may have made to follow Him was prompted by His giving us a heart of flesh that we may do so.

Dave Armstrong said...

Is salvation predicated on a man's decision? Or is salvation something that God does, from first to last?

Salvation is entirely caused, enabled, brought about by God's grace alone. This is Catholic teaching. We also teach that a person has to cooperate with this salvation and accept it. It's not irresistible grace; it is grace that can be refused. But salvation itself comes entirely through God's grace.

Dave Armstrong said...

We also don't separate sanctification from justification, as Protestants do. They are organically connected, because we believe in infused justification, which means the sinner is actually, literally transformed and can grow in sanctity by God's grace. This is not formally separated from justification and salvation, as in Protestantism.

Ben M said...
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Ben M said...
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Michael said...

I see. So the consensus among the theology of Rome is that "salvation is entirely caused, enabled, brought about by God's grace alone."

My response to this teaching is this: If it is God who saves sinners, then who might arise and declare unjust what the Lord of Glory has made anew? If it is God who regenerates (1Pet 1:3), if it is God who justifies (Rom 5:1), and if it is the Lord Jesus Christ who keeps His people and decrees that no one (not even one's self) can snatch them out of His hand (John 10:28) then who dares usurp the CLEAR teaching of scripture regarding the perseverence of God's people? This doctrine of Rome that supposes one might loose their salvation by some greivous sin or other action is ad hock and divorced from the text of scripture. In fact, the concept of the loss of one's salvation after regeneration undermines the effectiveness of the Lord Jesus Christ's atonement.

Any and all who profess The Name should immediatley repent of such nonsense and rest in the assurance of what has been done on Calvary alone.

Ken Temple said...

Sanctification is not completely separated from justification in Protestant thought.

Sanctification and glorification are the results of being justified by Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ. But true faith is not mere mental assent ( James 2:19) nor mere profession ( Matthew 7:21-23) but true faith does not stay alone, it results in good works and fruit and change.

They are distinguished so as to understand the event of justification vs. the process of sanctification and growth, but they are not separated.

Dave Armstrong said...

As to the possibility of falling away from faith and justification and salvation:

1 Samuel 11:6; 18:12 And the spirit of God came mightily upon Saul when he heard these words, . . . Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him but had departed from Saul.

Ezekiel 18:24 But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity and does the same abominable things that the wicked man does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds which he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, he shall die.

Ezekiel 33:12-15,18-19 And you, son of man, say to your people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him when he transgresses; and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall by it when he turns from his wickedness; and the righteous shall not be able to live by his righteousness when he sins. Though I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, yet if he trusts in his righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds shall be remembered; but in the iniquity that he has committed he shall die. Again, though I say to the wicked, `You shall surely die,' yet if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has taken by robbery, and walks in the statutes of life, committing no iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. . . . When the righteous turns from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, he shall die for it. And when the wicked turns from his wickedness, and does what is lawful and right, he shall live by it.

Matthew 7:21 Not every one who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 13:19-21 When any one hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in his heart; this is what was sown along the path.
As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.

Matthew 24:10-13 And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most men's love will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved. (cf. 10:22; Mk 13:13)

Mark 4:5-6,14-19 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it had not much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil; and when the sun rose it was scorched, and since it had no root it withered away. . . . The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown; when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word which is sown in them. And these in like manner are the ones sown upon rocky ground, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns; they are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the delight in riches, and the desire for other things, enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

Dave Armstrong said...

PART TWO

Luke 8:5-14 “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell along the path, and was trodden under foot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns grew with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew, and yielded a hundredfold." As he said this, he called out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy; but these have no root, they believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.”

1 Corinthians 9:27 but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 10:12 Therefore let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

Galatians 4:8-9 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were in bondage to beings that by nature are no gods; but now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits, whose slaves you want to be once more?

Galatians 5:1,4 . . . stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery . . . You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.

Philippians 3:11-14 that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own . . . I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 1:21-23 And you, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him, provided that you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel which you heard, . . .

1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.

1 Timothy 5:15 For some have already strayed after Satan.

2 Timothy 2:12 if we endure, we shall also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;

Hebrews 4:14 . . . let us hold fast our confession.

Hebrews 3:12-14 Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day . . . that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we share in Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end.

Dave Armstrong said...

PART THREE

Hebrews 6:4-6 For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God, and the powers of the age to come, if they then commit apostasy . . .

Hebrews 6:15 . . . Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise.

Hebrews 10:26,29 For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, . . . How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace?

Hebrews 10:36,38-39 For you have need of endurance, so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised. . . . but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him." But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and keep their souls.

Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one fail to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” spring up and cause trouble, and by it the many become defiled;

James 1:25 But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing.

2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election, for if you do this you will never fall;

2 Peter 2:15,20-21 Forsaking the right way they have gone astray; they have followed the way of Balaam, . . . For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.

Revelation 2:3-5 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what you have fallen, repent and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

Revelation 2:10-11 Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who conquers shall not be hurt by the second death.

Revelation 2:25-26 only hold fast what you have, until I come.
He who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, I will give him power over the nations,

Revelation 3:3 Remember then what you received and heard; keep that, and repent. If you will not awake, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you.

Revelation 3:5 He who conquers shall be clad thus in white garments, and I will not blot his name out of the book of life; I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. (cf. “blot” motif: Ex 17:14; 23:23; 32:32-33; Deut 9:14; 25:19; 29:20; 2 Ki 14:27; Ps 9:5; 69:28)

Revelation 3:11 I am coming soon; hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.

Test

Dave Armstrong said...

And of course, what we know from Scripture about how God judges us in the end is completely in accord with justification and sanctification being intertwined and organically related, and opposed to the strictness and separationism of sola fide:

Final Judgment in Scripture is Always Associated With Works And Never With Faith Alone (50 Passages)

Also, Paul's constant teaching shows how they cannot be separated:

St. Paul's Teaching on the Organic Relationship of Grace / Faith and Works / Action / Obedience (Collection of 50 Pauline Passages)

You reformed folks will be in big trouble if we delve into Scripture too deeply. All kinds of difficulties for your position arise. :-)

Michael said...

Oh my. What a tangled web we weave. And by "we" I mean you Mr. Armstrong.

Regarding the texts you provided from the OT:

Your use of the OT is absolutley ludicrous, and it is a departure from the Christian interpretation of the texts of the Old Covenant. You see, the author of Hebrews has made this clear, and yet you have failed to see that. The Old Covenant was a shadow of what was to come. It was not a sufficient covenant to provide atonement for sin, and therefore apostasy was indeed a possibility because the Old Covenant was insufficient to begin with. This New Covenant is sealed with the guarantee of the perfect work of Christ Himself: Heb 7:22-8:13. The New Covenant is better simply because it is monergistic in it's inception and theocentric in it's effectiveness, unlike the Old Covenant.
And also, your citing of Saul's loss of the Spirit was a loss of his special annointing as king. For the Spirit had not yet been at work as in the New Covenant.

Regarding the texts you have provided from the NT:

Warnings do not undermine the Gospel of grace. As we are told to ensure our calling and election, we are also told that it is God who elects and effects salvation. We do not know who the elect are, and therefore we, as the means by which God uses to carry His message and His conviction through the church and individually (in conjuction with the Holy Spirit) it is only appropriate that an all loving God would warn and chasten when neccessary. If a man who is under the false impression that he has saving faith in the Lord Jesus, but yet does not have the fruit that such faith produces, it is only expected that our Lord might warn such an individual. After all, it is God's perfect will (that is not His permissive will) that all should repent.

A couple of texts for you to chew on as you consider the theocentric nature of salvation, which I believe you affirmed in part:
Rom 5:9-11,6:1-14,11:29, and Phil 1:6,

Surley you have heard Dr. White's debate on this topic. Perhaps his more polished presentation would suit your understanding better. I am also sure that the decimation inflicted to this doctrine of Rome by Dr. White will humble you sufficiently and will make you think twice before saying things like this: "You reformed folks will be in big trouble if we delve into Scripture too deeply. All kinds of difficulties for your position arise. :-)"

Ken Temple said...

Dave wrote:
You reformed folks will be in big trouble if we delve into Scripture too deeply. All kinds of difficulties for your position arise. :-)

So, it seems you have not studied deeply enough to know the Reformed answers to all those verses you put up. That is why "Perseverance of the Saints" is deeper and more Biblical than the modern American Evangelical revivalism of "once saved, always saved". ("I walked the aisle when I was 10"; "I said the sinner's prayer at a Billy Graham "crusade", "I got baptized", etc.-- these things in themselves do not convert/save people.

On "not every one who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven . . . " Matthew 7:21-23 -- it is not those who say "Lord, Lord", but those who are truly submitted to Jesus as Lord, and as a result of real justifying faith, grow and submit, sometimes sin; but repent and are restored and keep growing and keep abiding. ( I John 1:5-10)

Same for James 2:14-26, the difference is those that "say" that they have faith, but have no works that give no evidence for their faith. There is no contradiction between any of the passages you cited and the Reformed view of Justification and Sanctification. Some of them are on the surface, harder to understand and harmonize than others, but there is a way to exegete them properly and they don't contradict the Reformed view.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Hey Dave,

Don't you ever post anything, you know, short? You're killing me here! ;-)

I'd love to post responses but I'm a bit overwhelmed by the volume of material presented and under time constraints, of course. I think what I'll do is take one thing at a time, make a few brief comments on it, then move on to the next point. In any case, I doubt I'll be able to respond to everything, and certainly not all at once.

Quoting Scripture you said...

1 Samuel 11:6; 18:12 And the spirit of God came mightily upon Saul when he heard these words, . . . Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him but had departed from Saul.

I gather from what you are saying the following premise: anytime we see the Spirit of God coming upon someone we should understand this to mean that that person is among the elect, or "saved." And if the Spirit should remove Himself, this indicates that a saved or elect person can lose his salvation.

I would argue that not every intervention in the lives of individuals (or whole peoples) by the Spirit of God means that they were regenerated by Him, that is, chosen, elect or saved, even those whom He has appointed to positions of authority within the Church (see my previous comments on Judas).

A good example of this in the Old Testament is to be found in Genesis 20. Abraham tells Abimelech that Sarah is his sister instead of his wife, so Abimelech takes Sarah as his wife. When Abimelech finds out about Abraham's treachery, he has a discussion with the Lord Himself:

5 Did he not himself say to me, 'She is my sister'? And she herself said, 'He is my brother.' In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this." 6 Then God said to him in the dream, "Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. 7 Now then, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours" (Genesis 20: 5-7 ESV, emphasis mine).

This is a good OT example of the Holy Spirit of God intervening in a non-elect gentile's heart and life to spare both His people and His non-people from His judgement. The Spirit essentially overrode Abimelech's will in order that God's purposes would be obtained. Of course, the Spirit can remove His restraint on the sinner for God's purposes as he did with Pharoah in Exodus 9:12. This verse says that God actively hardened Pharoah's heart. I think that no one would make the case that either Abimelech or Pharoah were among those who would be saved. For one thing they were outside the covenant, and for another, their fruits or lack thereof do not give us confidence to view them as saved persons.

Interestingly, this is also a good verse to illustrate to some who would object to the idea of original sin. Adam is seen as the federal head of the human race. God does treat kings as a federal head of his people, and holds those people responsible for their king's behaviour. In this verse not only Abimelech was in danger but all his subjects as well. Thankfully, everyone was spared.

Ben M said...
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Pilgrimsarbour said...

I admit at first blush that these quotes are troubling, based on what I think the Scriptures teach on these matters. However, I would need to see them in their context for clarification before I comment further.

I would say, though, my decision to be a Protestant is because of my reading of the Scriptures. It's not because I follow some flawed man or another; such as Luther, Calvin or anyone else. As it is, I find a number of things with which I would disagree with both Luther and Calvin. That does not change my admiration for their keen minds and evident love for their Lord Christ.

If by posting such things the goal is to encourage me to renounce Protestantism, I should recommend sticking to theological arguments based upon sound Scriptural teaching.

Michael said...

Was Luther saved? Did he believe the gospel? And by that I mean the real gospel and not the corrupt gospel of Rome? Of Course.

There is a large gap between essential Christian doctrine and secondary Christian doctrine. Luther was a great man, but even a great man is a man at best. When you consider the entirety of a man's life, it is easy to point out his sin and folly. However, to understand a man's life and his circumstance is another thing entirely. By the way, is not Luther granted the same courtesy as we espouse ourselves in retrospect? Or shall we be the first to cast stones at a dead brother? I find it quite convenient for Catholics to criticize the lives of the reformers in light of mid-evil Catholicism, and the many corrupt popes who smeared the name of Christ with their abominations.

And Luther was not the greatest preacher since Paul, no I would argue for either Calvin, Edwards, or Spurgeon.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

If we're speaking of the greatest pastoral and practical preacher, I'm partial to Spurgeon, myself.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

By the way, Dave, I've been wondering...am I a great Calvinist, or is it my post that's great? And if I'm great, how come I don't get a nifty blog post picture to go with your post?

(Maybe I should be careful what I wish for...)

Ben M said...
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Michael said...

I will not argue for the morality of a man that I do not know. I will however say that Luther, although he did propogate certian bad doctrines, none of them were damning. Since when does a sinner need to attain perfection to speak truth? Your attempt at arguing for a holy Rome during the 16th century is a joke. What then prompted the RC reformation? Was it not corruption? And this corruption continues today in the Roman church, in just the same way that it continues everywhere else because of sin. Ben, you clearly missed the point of my last post. Perhaps you should remove your rosary colored eye glasses and refrain from equating a man's down falls with his message.

The bottom line is this: what gospel does the scripture teach? Luther's or Rome's? There is no argument to be made. In fact Rome must resort to their inconsistent traditions to support their false gospel.

Mr. Armstrong,

You gave me a bit of a laugh today as I was scrolling past your response to my previous comment. You cited Matt 7:21 as a proof text for you position. How funny. And I don't mean to be insulting, but can't you see the self refutation in your arguments? Tell me Mr. Armstrong, what does the Lord Jesus say to those false converts? I NEVER knew you. And might I also point out these people tried to justify themselves by an acknowledgment of Jesus as Lord and by the quanity and brevity of their works. . . Sometimes you have to wonder.

Dave Armstrong said...

The bottom line is this: what gospel does the scripture teach?

The Foolishness of the Commonly Heard Charge That Catholics Supposedly Never Hear the "Gospel" or "About Jesus" at Mass

The Gospel, as Preached by the First Christians

Good News: An Evangelical / Catholic Presentation of the Gospel Message

What is the Gospel?

Ben M said...
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Michael said...

"Well, what exactly is your definition of the “gospel?” "

This is a question I am bound by Him to answer.

The gospel can be seen here:

http://onenessheresy.blogspot.com/2009/05/gospel.html

In short, to be saved, one must acknowledge their sin before their Holy God. They must repent of their sin and confess before Him. Then they must place their faith and trust in not what they have done or can do, but what the Lord Jesus Christ has already done.

Repentance and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ is the requirement for salvation.

Ben M said...
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Michael said...

"Heresy and schism are sins also! ;)"

Need you say things like this? Really. These comments wreak of pride.

"How often?"

Repentence is not an event, as you assume. But instead it is situational; it is a way of living. The scripture describes it in terms of a position or a relational dynamic with God. 2Pet 3:9, Heb 6:6,2Tim 2:25
That is not to say that it is also an act. We must repent daily, but also live a life in keeping with repentence. Acts 26:20

"Christ never spoke this way of salvation when preaching the Gospel;"

My response to this is John 6:28-29, and Hebrews 11:6. Faith in the Son and His work are the basis by which men are saved.

Regarding faith and works...

Both James and Paul contend that real saving faith PRODUCES works. This real faith is faith that saves by virtue of God's grace. If I were you, I would not debate this point. Your position is inarguable and irreconcilable with the text of scripture.

Ben M said...
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Michael said...

"On the contrary, neither James nor Paul contends any such thing! Rather, Christians have to be instructed in the faith, have to be catechized. They have to be taught (and taught continuously) very explicitly what the are, and are not to do. Otherwise, how will their uninstructed faith produce any works? Fact is, it won’t! No, my friend, you are very much mistaken here."

This is interesting indeed. I think you have contradicted yourself into a corner:

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

The entire tenor of this passage concludes that it is through personal study of the scriptures that Timothy will increase in wisdom and knowledge for the Christian life. You see, it is through the narrative accounts and the didactic passages of scripture, in addition to the other accounts, that one is instructed. People recieve faith by hearing the word and they are catechized by hearing and studying the word. This is why we place a pulpit in front of our church; to put forth the word of God as the pinnacle of our worship. Paul is emphasising perseverance in personal scriptural study, not submission to church dogma or church dictation in this text.

"The basis by which men are saved is the INCARNATION!"

The basis of the salvation of men is the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. Not simply His incarnation. Men have sinned by nature and by choice and they need to be atoned for. The atonement did not occur, although immenant, until the cross.

2 Timothy 1:8-10 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,


"For it is the by the Incarnation that men’s works are made meritorious, and thereby (through grace) transformed into sons of God and made partakers of the divine nature, and thus saved."


This is so twisted and man centered. Isogesis in it's full strength. The text of scripture knows nothing of this heresy.

Romans 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

Galations 2:16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified


Romans 3:21-25 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Notice here Paul speaks of a salvation by faith that produces works; not the other way around.

Please explain this text:

Ephesians 1:11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,

Dave Armstrong said...

Isogesis in it's full strength.

FYI, the word is eisegesis. Since you are clearly a master of the technique, you ought to at least know how to spell it correctly.

Michael said...

Mr. Armstrong,

Why did you not respond to my clear refutation of your man centered eisegesis? Perhaps you were too busy? That couldn't be it, being that you weren't to busy to correct my spelling error. What was it then? The sharpness of the scripture you twist? Or perhaps the reference to Dr. White?

What about your clearly bogus use of Matt 7:21? You remember, the text that concludes with I NEVER knew you...

Dave Armstrong said...

The reason I don't is because I no longer bother trying to engage in theological debate with anti-Catholics (those who believe that Catholicism is not a Christian system of theology). It's a complete waste of time.

Ben M said...
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Ben M said...
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Ben M said...

Please explain this text:

Ephesians 1:11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.


Would like that fallibly or infallibly? ;)

But really, wouldn't you just reject my personal interpretation? Yet, who's interpretation will you accept? Calvin's? Luther?

You see, it's hopeless. Luther, for example, discovered this in his quarrels with those who denied the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist (though not in the sense of Transubstantiation).

Listen to what he says:

“For as soon as Christ says: ‘This is my body,’ his body is present through the Word and the power of the Holy Spirit. If the Word is not there, it si mere bread; but as soon as the words are added they bring with them that of which they speak. Moreover, we believe that Christ, according to his human nature, is put over all creatures [Eph. 1:22] and fill all things, as Paul says in Eph. 4 [:10]. Not only according to his divine nature, but also according to his human nature, he is lord of all things, has all things in his hand and is present everywhere.

"If I am to follow the fanatics who say that this is not fitting, then I must deny Christ. We read of Stephen in Acts 7 [:56] that he said: “I see the heavens opened, and Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father.” How does he see Christ? He need not raise his eyes on high. Christ is around us and in us in all places. Those people understand nothing of this….

“They speculate thus, that he must ascend and descend from ht heavens through the air, and that he lets himself be drawn down into the bread when we eat his body. Such thoughts come from no other source than from foolish reason and the flesh. We must understand that it is not the words which we speak that draw him down. They have been given to us rather to assure us, that we may know we shall certainly find him.

“Although he is present in all creatures, and I might find him in stone, in fire, in water, or even in a rope, for he certainly is there, yet he does not wish that I seek him there apart form the Word, and cast myself into the fire or the water or hang myself on the rope. He is present everywhere, but he does not wish that you grope for him everywhere.

"Grope rather where the Word is, and there you will lay hold of him in the right way. Otherwise you tempting God and committing idolatry. For this reason he has set down for us a definite way to show us how and where to hind him, namely the Word.

“Those people, who say that it is unreasonable for Christ to be present in the bread and wine, do not know or see this at all, because they also do not understand what Christ’s kingdom is, and the sitting at the right hand of God. If Christ were not with me in dungeon, torture, and death, where would I be? He is present here through the Word, although not in the same way as here in the sacrament.

"If we believe the one, it is easy also to grasp and believe the other. Heaven and earth are his sack; as wheat fills the sack, so he fills all things. And as a seed bears a stalk, an ear, and brings forth a tree which bears many blossoms, leaves, inner and outer bark, and cherries; or again, as my voice reaches so many ears; much more is Christ able to distribute himself whole and undivided into so many particles.

"Now because the fanatics do not see this, they come up with their man-made opinion to the effect that God is thereby performing some kind of hocus-pocus."

The Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ –Against the Fanatics, 1526.

Luther’s Works, vol. 36: Word and Sacrament II, Abdel Ross Wentz, ed., Fortress Press, Philadelphia, ISBN 0800603362, pp. 341-343.

http://books.google.com/books?q=luther%20%20%22performing%20some%20kind%20of%20hocus-pocus%22&hl=en&lr=&filter=0&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wp

Now, how does your private interpretation square with that of Luther's here?