Monday, December 30, 2013

Keeping Good Habits ("Put That Mutha Down")

There are good habits to develop and maintain. . . . A great reflex to develop (in my opinion) is to quickly stop and take note if you are feeling hurt, slighted, unfairly acted against, especially where it can be swiftly ascertained that what is hurt or offended is your pride.  Follow the pride and you will almost always come to a place where a part of you is trying to rise from the dead (assuming you are already "dead in Christ".)  Put that mutha down!  Shine the light of your awareness of its vain attempts ON it.  Things like that like to grow in the dark.  It is painful, more hurt pride, but catch that sneaky interloper in your heart and put him down, remembering the Gospel.  The pride usually comes in where somehow, someway . . . you feel entitled or deserving of better treatment than you got or are getting.  Remembering the Gospel reminds you that you deserve NOTHING--are ENTITLED to nothing . . . except Hell and casting to outer darkness. . . . Ah, but here is where many don't really realize the depth and horror of their sin--their rebellion against God.  They have a low view of God and a high view of themselves. . . .

Pray then to realize the depth of your transgressions--just how serious and profound it is that you/we reject the God who made us, gives us life, blesses us with individuality, choice (within our natures), and so much else.  Even to just EXIST! . . . is such a profound wonder and gift.  And we just ignore it, assume it, and scurry off to satisfy the lusts of the flesh and the pride of that very (gifted) life.

On the heels of this habit is another great one.  When looking down subtly on another . . . being disgusted by them . . . even by the treacherous liars and murderers who are mostly running our governments, media and industry . . . remember, all that separates you from them is THE GRACE OF GOD!  You are no better and would be just as bad WERE IT NOT COMPLETELY FOR THE DIVINE, UNMERITED GRACE OF GOD.

Unless, of course you think you ARE a little better, on your own merit and so, have some right to sneer and condemn those other wretches. . . .

But the Bible teaches us that "none are good, no not one" . . . and that God's Grace is just that:  Grace.  Unmerited.  A gift is not earned, or then it is not a gift but wages.  His Word says faith . . . belief . . . repentance even (having a spirit of repentance) IS A GIFT, unearned.

So, when I look at others and feel "better" because I am not doing the ugly, lawless things THEY are doing, I only have to remember when I DID do those things . . . and that I would be again to some degree . . . . BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD of which I am wholly unworthy. . . . .

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Brief Geocentric Swerve

Ok, here's my dilemma. . . . I usually don't have time to correspond via email AND write my blog, so I almost always just write the blog; which is why sometimes I include in the blog subjects and writings that come from that lone and random email encounter I am able to squeeze in, ie., my past little series with my friend "J" who was investigating Christianity.

Well, I must do that again briefly here, as I'm having an exchange with a fellow that sort of has swerved into the geocentrism debate.  He is a quite brilliant young man, very polite, knowledgeable and, so far as I can tell, very solid Biblically.  He also is further ahead than me in some of the scientific apologetics especially related to the evolution/creation debate.  And like Patrick (who I will be continuing to engage through the "P" series of posts) he is very sharp and pays close attention to detail and logic in argumentation--which I love--which I take as "iron sharpening iron."

He is not convinced of geocentrism . . . and I myself am still only in the early stages of studying it with far to go (science not ever having been my "thing") . . . so I simply take this as a great opportunity to analyze the matter closer, hone the issues and learn more, amidst the Body.

Here is a snippet of some of the initial discussion ("C"s comments will be in blue, my responses black):

"C" WROTE:  And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.
-Joshua 10:13

There are two general perspectives the Bible uses: God's perspective or man's perspective. From man's perspective, the sun rises, and the sun sets. Notice at the end of the verse it says the sun "hasted not to go down." If the sun was revolving around the earth in this verse, how exactly is it going down?

>>>Well, this would actually be the example of a man's perspective to me. Let's say the sun IS going around the earth. From the ground, looking straight up at noon, the sun appears highest in the sky. It "goes down" from there to the horizon to "set". I'm imagining the person who knows the sun actually circles the earth and how they would otherwise describe the "setting" sun . . . ? Your question seems to imply that the phrasing "hasted not to go down" is not what someone would say in such a case. But what would they say? What would God say to a man in such a situation? The sun "was halted in its orbit"? The sun "stopped moving"? Where, from a person on earth's observation, the sun appears to "go down" . . . to move "down" to the horizon (as it's in its geocentric orbit . . . why is not quite apropos to say "the sun hasted no to go down"?

The verse DOES say "the sun stood still" . . . does it not? If the sun is not moving, why would THAT language be used? Why not just say, "the earth stood still"? Does God lie? Does He mislead? You maybe could say that there is progressive revelation where God reveals more of His plan and character as The Word is written in the flow of time. But does He ever at first say one thing (ie., "the sun stood still") according to man's level of understanding at the time BUT THEN later reveal something quite the opposite ("Oh, actually the EARTH stands still, but I didn't think you could handle that truth yet, so I told you something almost the opposite and contrary: "the sun stands still"....)?

. . . or don't we see indeed that God builds and expands upon His revealed truths . . ie., the picture of the perfect lamb sacrifice . . . which later is shown to be a shadow, a type of the perfect Son's sacrifice?

Note, Joshua also told the sun to "stand still". Does that have to mean that the sun was literally "standing" . . . as opposed to "sitting" or "lying"? No. It is a figure of speech perfectly in line with the reality of the situation, just as "hasted to not go down".


"C" WROTE:  Unless someone wants to go through some complex mental gymnastics, it's fairly simple just to take it written in the form an earth-bound observer giving an historical account. (under the inspiration of God) This isn't any different than the weather report in the newspaper says "Sunrise at 6:30," it doesn't mean they believe in geocentrism, it just means they're giving an account as an earth-bound observer. (There's lots of places in the Bible like that.)
The Bible talks about the four corners of the world, but that doesn't mean the world is flat, it just talks about the world from the perspective from someone who would view it on a map.

>>>I don't see how it takes any sort of "mental gymnastics" to read that verse from Joshua and conclude "THE SUN STOOD STILL IN THE MIDST OF HEAVEN, AND HASTED TO NOT GO DOWN." The sun stopped moving. Which means, previously, the sun was moving. So, of course . . . it stayed where it was for a while and didn't go "down". On the contrary, it looks to me like YOUR position is the one straining the language. . . .

Next, yes, the weathermen say, "sunrise at 6:30". . . . Why? How about because the sun actually DOES rise (moves) in the sky, "coming up" over the Eastern horizon, just as it appears to do? Now, what a weatherman says . . . verses what God says in His Word . . . I would not put on the same level. Even though I believe the weatherman is more correct in his speech than he realizes, for the most part, I expect "men" (as opposed to God) to misspeak, lie, be confused, twist, blur . . . what the truth actually is . . . UNLESS they are quoting from God's Word, which is infallible. I WOULD expect God to speak the simple truth to us, whether it fits with "man's" ideas and beliefs from so-called "science" or not. And just because in some places He does use metaphor or types or poetic language, it doesn't mean He ALWAYS does.

Creation done in 6 days? Many say that is not to be read as 6 literal days, but more of a type or generalization of longer periods of time. I don't have references with me at the moment . . . but just as Young Earth Creationists are able to show that the Hebrew word "yom" ("day") actually means a normal day when used with ordinal numbers like it is . . . the way the moon is described as being made to stand still is the same as how the sun was so described to be still. We all agree the moon moves. If the sun does not move also, why would the same language for both be used in the same way?

If saying "earth stand still" would have simply applied to both moon and sun "stopping", why not just say that? I think because it was known from the earliest revelations that the earth was the center of creation, it did not move, and the rest of creation revolved around it.

Friday, December 27, 2013

"Tolerant" meddlers and their cold shoulders, heh

Weird . . . Youtube would not bring up this video when I searched it to insert here in the blog.  I suspect more anti-Christian bigotry and subtle censorship as the word "Christian" is in the title.  I searched it several different ways and it simply wouldn't come up in the queue.

In a tangential way it reminds me of the extended "family" experiences at Christmas.  The liberals of the bunch know we are born again Christians . . . . We always are pleasant, friendly, generous--"Christian"--when we see them or are in the midst of a big family falderal . . . . Havn't treated anyone different than we ever have, ie., when we were "Hindu" versus now Bible thumpers. . . . but THEY--the "tolerant" liberals are now suddenly snarky, sneering, cold, aloof, judgmental and make a point of no longer getting us gifts.  Not that getting gifts is a deal or not . . . its just kinda funny to note.  We always have kept up our traditions of sending or buying little thoughtful things for everyone, but since we went full bore "Christian" now it's the cold shoulder from the "diverse loving tolerant liberals" lol. . . . My favorite is how some have gone behind our backs to try and divide away and encourage our youngest son against us because of our concern over his becoming a Mormon.  Ironically, these are mostly atheists, who normally would have no fondness for Mormonism any more than Christianity . . . but just because we are Christian (and have Biblical views and concerns and, as the parents, have a very deliberate, prayerful, thoughtful approach we are taking for the long term . . . which is none of their business . . . ) and they hate Biblical Christianity (of course) more than Mormonism, they hurried (starting a year or so ago) to sneak back door and support our youngest son against us in subtle ways.  Creepy.  Disrespectful.  I would NEVER do that to them and THEIR children, ie., if and when one of their kids goes AWAL or goes against their parenting--no way would I go behind the parents back to encourage the child privately......

But it isn't working.  Our loving, thoughtfully and spiritually deep parenting continues, and we have good relationships with all our boys, including the Mormon. 

Anyway, here is a powerful testimonial video clip from comedian Jeff Allen:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Introducing "T.I.C.G.E.O."

Merry Christmas Eve . . . . . yay it's almost over, lol, juuust joking..... sorta..... heh. . . . .

Hey, I just posted a new important Youtube video that some may want to take a look at.  It's the first of what will be an occasional random series called T.I.C.G.E.O. ("Things I Can't Get Enough Of")....

Consider it a little Christmas present to one and all, addressing such a critical theme as--well, take a look if you get a chance and see if you do not agree with the sentiment. . . . :)

God blesses you,
your brother one way or another, thomas

(hopefully this link works, if not my channel is there on the side bar--click on the teeny little avatar/icon in the upper right corner of the YouTube Channel boxy thingy. . . . )

Monday, December 23, 2013

P6--"Free" To Choose According To Our Nature

P wrote: There is a similar problem with pre-destination.  Clearly the Bible speaks of the elect and those who are predestined for salvation, but it also speaks of evangelism and repentance, choosing God and believing on the Gospel of Jesus.  God also sent prophets to the people of old (not just to Jews, but also the Greeks at least – ref: Epimenides quoted in Acts 17 and referenced as a prophet in Titus 1:12).  Joshua talks about choosing the God each family will serve.  The Bible goes on and on with examples of people being presented a choice to believe God (as Abraham) or to reject God (as Demas 1 – 2 Tim 4:10).

Today I was listening to some reports literally from the front line . . . from Frontline Fellowship headed by the brave, tireless, selfless missionary Dr. Peter Hammond who continues to go into the most dangerous countries throughout Africa to preach and reach and serve for Christ's sake. 

He is Reformed, a "Calvinist."  He is has been imprisoned in squalid jails, interrogated, put before firing squads--his life many times on the line to bring the Gospel straight into the midst of warzones, dictatorships, Muslim and communist tyrannical and violent strongholds . . . and . . . he believes in Election.  In part of the audio I heard, he gave a quick list of all the great Reformed missionaries and open air preachers, who, contrary to Arminian style analysis would suggest that the Reformed view does not engender missionary work, prophesying and preaching.  Calvin himself was responsible for thousands of evangelists who swarmed throughout Europe and beyond to preach and teach the Gospel--to spread the Good News and call men to repentance.

It is simply just not the case that understanding that God elects who He will leads to apathy and nonchalance where spreading the Gospel is concerned.  Why?  Because the Elect are the MEANS God uses to reach the savable, draw them, convict them . . . and also the MEANS by which He heaps additional condemnation upon those who continue to reject and hate His message of grace.

Yes, the Bible speaks of "choosing and believing on the Gospel of Jesus" as is said.  The big question, which we will always continue to come to is . . . ARE YOU ABLE TO BELIEVE AND CHOOSE OF YOUR OWN, SELF SUFFICIENT ABILITY . . . OR DOES GOD MAKE YOU ABLE? 

I know for myself that no way . . . NO WAY . . . would I have ever "seen the Light" . . . "chosen" Jesus . . . or been ABLE to believe . . . EXCEPT that God made me able to do so.  Not just nudged me in His direction . . . not just gave me a little push or pull . . . BUT THAT, without His complete, utter, sovereign, whole, direct ABSOLUTE intervention . . . I would have remained deluded, dead, blind, deaf, lost etc!!!  Who wants to take a little bit of God's glory and say "I had something to do with it?"

That thought is abhorrent to me!  No, no, no!  GRACE is unmerited!  There is nothing I did, do, or ever could do . . . in my fallen, dead, utterly lost and sinful condition . . . to recognize my absolute need and dependence on JESUS the SAVIOR, EXCEPT THAT God Himself rescued me, raised me from death, and gave me the Eyes to See and the Ears to Hear . . . His Revelation!

Does that make me want to not preach?  Nope.  Does that make me want to not write . . . nearly every day, year after year, about God and His revealed truth . . . and to talk to strangers and family and friends . . . who are unbelievers, to try and tell them of the amazing, saving, live-giving Truth of His Word?  Nope. 

I've never been more fired up to try and serve Him on this earth at this treacherous time . . . and same for my family who also understand and recognize the "Reformed" "view"--which I continue to assert is nothing other than the Biblical "view."

Yes, "Joshua talks about choosing the God each family will serve". . . . But why? How?  Because he was a better, more intrinsically "spiritual" person than someone else based on his own merit?

What merit?  How on heaven and earth can ANY creature claim to have more--let alone ANY merit--to choose God above another who doesn't . . . EXCEPT THAT GOD GIVES THEM THAT ABILITY?  Where in the world could such merit or ability come from to "choose God" OTHER than God? 

Is there some quantum, mysterious, oblique store of merit or special ability  "out there" in the universe or residing in some (unconnected to God) dimension of "inner space". . . that "free will" creatures are able to access OUTSIDE/BESIDES God that science may some day discover?  No! Can't be! God is the author of ALL goodness, ALL merit, ALL ability!  Omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent. . . .

Yes we make choices.  Yes we choose.  Yes we have individual "will."  But the Word is clear that we CANNOT make "free" choices outside OF OUR NATURE--either our SINFUL nature or our SAVED and regenerate nature.  No way. 

So, yes, we make a choice.  We are even Called to make a choice.  But which choice we make MUST be dependent on God's sovereignty, not our own, otherwise we have something to "boast" of.  How is this not clear?  ALL glory belongs to God and God alone!

We are "free" to choose and act according to our nature.  The Pelagian heresy says we are not COMPLETELY depraved--not QUITE dead in our sin. . . .

But the Bible says we are.  Dead in our sin.  Dead.  ONLY UNTIL GOD regenerates us, gives us the unmerited gift of faith, life, a new "heart of flesh" will we then be able to choose the God we will serve.

  "[Salvation is] not a result of works, so that no one may boast."  --Eph. 8:9

"So for any man or church to promote works wither morally or ceremonial is a direct assault on the Grace of God and His son Jesus Christ. Mankind namely the Jewish nation was given a 4 thousand-year test span, to see if natural man could fulfill only 10 commandments, and they not only fail but the man in His quest to work out their own salvation added hundreds of more laws. I know of no man would could keep the First commandment. ” You shall have no other God’s before me”  A good portion of people in the Church today worship the god of their mind. By that I mean they worship what they think God should be and how they have been conditioned to believe."  --Greg Lane

"According to the free will scheme, the Lord intends good, but he must wait like a lackey on his own creature to know what his intention is; God willeth good and would do it but he cannot because he has an unwilling man who will not have God’s good thing carried into effect. What do ye, sirs, but drag the Eternal from his throne and lift up into it that fallen creature, man; for man, according to that theory, nods and his nod is destiny. You must have a destiny somewhere; it must either be as God wills or as man wills. If it be as God wills, then Jehovah sits as sovereign upon his throne of glory, and all hosts obey him, and the world is safe; if not God, then you put man there to say, “I will,” or “I will not; if I will it, I will enter heaven; if I will it, I will despise the grace of God; if I will it, I will conquer the Holy Spirit, for I am stronger than God and stronger than omnipotence; if I will it, I will make the blood of Christ of no effect, for I am mightier than the blood, mightier than the blood of the Son of God himself; though God make his purpose, yet will I laugh at his purpose; it shall be my purpose that shall make his purpose stand or fall.” Why, sirs, if this be not atheism, it is idolatry; it is putting man where God should be; and I shrink with solemn awe and horror from that doctrine which makes the grandest of God’s works—the salvation of man—to be dependent upon the will of his creature whether it shall be accomplished or not. Glory I can and must in my text in its fullest sense. “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Romans 9:16).


A note from just a bit of Dr. Peter Hammond's amazing, courageous missionary efforts:

"Unavoidably Detained It was quite a contrast from my first visit to Livingstone in Zambia. In 1987 I had been arrested and abused. The Frontline Mission team I was leading had been arrested at Kazangulu after refusing to bribe Zambian officials. After an excruciating day and night of abuse at the hands of the Zambian security forces, we were thrown into filthy cells where the overpowering stench was nauseating. After a night of being attacked by swarms of mosquitos, my skin had been turned into relief maps of angry red bumps and bites. Then blindfolded and shackled, we were taken to Lusaka where weeks of interrogations and incarceration followed. That was October 1987, when Zambia was a one-party dictatorship under Kenneth Kaunda's UNIP. Their official policy was socialist humanism. Transformation Zambia went through a dramatic transformation in October 1991, as 26 years of Kaunda's dictatorship came to an end in the country's first free multi-party elections since independence. The new president, Frederick Chiluba declared Zambia a Christian country and initiated national days of Repentance, prayer and thanksgiving. I have had many wonderful opportunities for ministry, fellowship and worship in Zambia since then, ministering in churches, schools, teacher training colleges, to members of Parliament and Cabinet Ministers, meeting with the President of Zambia, the ministers of Home Affairs, Information, Education and Foreign Affairs and ministering on radio and television, in prisons and military bases."

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Homefront and Steampunk

It's a strange Christmas this year . . . but then, I think we've saying that every year for a while.  This one, though seems especially rapid in coming (I think partly because Thanksgiving was later than usual) and . . . well "truncated" is a word that applies.  'Twil be a modest affair; which is fine as we are staying well focused above all on the "reason for the season" so-to-speak. . . .

Al got a winter job (wildfire season being a summer deal) driving a school bus on call, heh.  His first day on the job happened to be on the day of one of the worst, weirdest ice/rain/snow storms we've had in years.  Quite an adventure with 85 junior high kids on the bus, lol.  But he did great. 

Sky's still pluggin' away in the meat department at the big store . . . and Isaac, is . . . well being Isaac. 

Jackson's band's album I think has come out.  At least the first single.  They are called Westward The Tide and he is on the cover in a very artsy, cool photo.  They are on ITunes. . . .

Patrick, the fellow with whom I am engaging on the semi-Calvinist debate/discussion . . . sent me a note that he is using the "fjording stick" I made and sent him a couple years ago in the church Christmas pageant--awesome! :)

While out and about yesterday I met the owner/"scientartist" of a local "steampunk" store we have here.  We talking briefly of Tesla, geocentrism and steampunk.  An quite pleasant an interesting fellow.  I would love to get into making some steampunk items myself--I really dig it and have for several years now though.  It's just so cool looking. . . . It's a long, ongoing home project that we are attempting (though haven't got far yet, having only painted a few walls) to have a sort of cowboy and indian/steampunk theme to our family room/kitchen and dining area.  I think that is why I liked the early orgone craze a few years back and made some jewelry out of it .... I realize now it has that steampunk look and feel. . . .

Well, just a little homefront news and general ramblings. . . . Gotta go get ready for church.  One of my favorite parts of church is watching various folks in the congregation being moved by the Spirit--the Spirit in the room . . . overwhelms me sometimes and I'm usually half crying all through the praise and worship period . . . . I just love seeing and being with people who love Jesus!

Oh, and here's a little pit of steampunk for those who may not be familiar with it:

Saturday, December 21, 2013

P5--The "Whole World", Jew AND Gentile

"'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' John 3:16

P writes:  'The only way this can be turned into Christ’s blood only paying for the sins of the elect is by redefining what “World” means (commonly done by Calvinists), misunderstanding the atonement and imposing an external system of logic onto the text to force it to behave according to the desire of the authors because it doesn’t support their core thesis.'"
Well, of course I would say that it is exactly the opposite:  Those who oppose the doctrine that God sovereignly elects who He will are the ones who "redefine" what "world" means in John 3:16 and impose THEIR tradition and beliefs on scripture to force it to mean what it doesn't.
The word "world" in this verse does NOT mean "all people without exception."  And it is misleading translation to say that "anyone who freely chooses to believe in Him will have everlasting life."
Here is the forced, acontextual and redefined reading of John 3:16:  ‘For God so loved all men without exception, that he gave his only begotten Son to die for all men without exception, with the desire that all men without exception be saved, so that whosoever believeth in him, of his own free will, should not perish, but have everlasting life.’
In John's Gospel the word "world" is used (at least) in 10 different ways--has at least 10 DIFFERENT meanings besides the monolithic, all-inclusive, forced meaning of "all men without exception".  [*See below for a list of these, collected by John Samson.] 
In context and taking the time and thought to see how John uses the word in other verses, it is not that difficult, nor forced, nor any alien interpretation to see that what he means in 3:16 is that His saving love will extend to those from every tribe and tongue, Jew and Gentile alike (not JUST the Jews). [**See below for examples of how John uses the word "world" to mean different things in different contexts.]
"Now the first thing to note in connection with John 3:16 is that our Lord was there speaking to Nicodemus, a man who believed that God’s mercies were confined to his own nation. Christ there announced that God’s love in giving His Son had a larger object in view, that it flowed beyond the boundary of Palestine, reaching out to ‘regions beyond.’ In other words, this was Christ’s announcement that God had a purpose of grace toward Gentiles as well as Jews."  --A.W. Pink
As to the "whosoever believeth" . . . again we must find out what the writer actually meant and wrote.
There is no Greek equivalent to the word "whosoever".  What was said in the Greek is "those believing" . . . "the believing ones".
Exegeted properly, looking at the original Greek and in context John 3:16 means:  "For God so loved the world (men from every tribe and language, people and nation), that He gave His only begotten Son, that                  whosoever (everyone believing) believeth in Him should not perish, but
                                      have everlasting life."
Further context shows that Jesus was talking to Nicodemus . . . a Jew, a Pharisee and letting him know that NOT ONLY the Jews of Palestine were to be saved, but that He came for the "whole world"--Jew AND gentile!
"Sometimes the passages we know best we know least. That is, when we hear a passage repeated in a particular context over and over and over again, we tend to lose sight of its real meaning in its original setting. This is surely the case with John 3:16, for it is one of the most commonly cited passages in evangelical preaching. And yet, how often is it actually subjected to exegesis? Hardly ever. Its meaning is assumed rather than confirmed."  James White
I'm sorry, but what I see in most cases, is that people have a traditional understanding of a verse like this--what they were simply taught in church or "just grew up believing" . . . and stick to that . . . without ever taking the time and humble receptivity to what the scripture (in context and original meaning) actually says. . . .
*Different Meanings of the word "world" in John's Gospel
 1.The Realm of mankind         
           2.The entire universe                 

           3.All humanity minus believers
                           "He was in the world (1), and though the world (2) was made
                           through Him, the world (3) did not recognize Him."
                                                                             John 1:10
           (Here, the word "world" has three different meanings in a single sentence).

          4.The physical earth
                           "It was just before the Passover Feast.  Jesus knew that the
                           time had come for Him to leave this world (4) and go to the
                                                                            John 13:1

          5.The world system
                          "Now is the time for judgment on this world (5) ...
                                                                          John 12:31a

           6.A big group, but less than all people everywhere
                        "Look at how the whole world (6) has gone after Him."
                                                                          John 12:19b
          (Obviously, not every single person in the whole world went after Jesus, but many
            people had).

         7.The elect only (people from every tribe, language, people, and nation - Rev 5:9)
                        (The elect are God's chosen people from all over the world.)

                       "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, TO GOD'S ELECT, strangers in the
                        world, ... who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God
                        the Father, through the sanctifying work of the  Spirit, for obedience to
                        Jesus Christ and sprinkling by His blood ... " 
                                                                                         1 Peter 1:1-2
                        (Jesus said), "For I did not come to judge the world (7), but to save it."
                                                                                                  John 12:47b
                       (Jesus said), "For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven
                                           and gives life to the world (7)."
                                                                                                 John 6:33

        8.The non-elect only

                      (Jesus prayed), "I pray for them.  I am NOT praying for the world (8), but for
                                                those you have given me, for they are yours."
                                                                                                John 17:9

           Jesus intercedes with the Father only for His people, not for the rest of the world.

9.Jews and Gentiles (not just Israel but many Gentiles too)
                    " ... now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is
                      the Savior of the world (9)."
                                                                                               John 4:42

          The Jews thought they were the only ones who could be saved, but Jesus taught
     them that the gospel and salvation was for all people, including Gentiles.

10.The general public (as distinguished from a private group) - not those in small
           private groups

                  "Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world (10)."
                                                                                              John 7:4b
**John's Different Meanings of the Word "World"
"John 1:29: ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.’ Did Christ by His death take away the sin of all men without exception? If He did, all men without exception shall be saved.
John 6:33: ‘For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.’ Does Jesus give life (not, ineffectually offer life, but, efficaciously give life) to all men without exception? If He does, all men without exception have eternal life.
John 17:9: ‘I (Jesus) pray not for the world.’ Does Jesus refuse to pray for all men without exception?

This last text points out that the word, world, in the gospel of John does not always have the same meaning. In John 3:16, the world is loved by God, with a love that gives the Son of God for its sake; in John 17:9, the Son of God refuses to pray for the world. The saints must not come to an understanding of the world of John 3:16 by a quick assumption, but by careful interpretation of the passage in the light of the rest of Scripture."  --from David Engelsma


Friday, December 20, 2013

No Sugar, Please

woo hoo . . . another debate between Michael Brown and James White at the end of January.  I'm kind of a debate geek--have listened to hundreds of them by now. . . .

"Avoid a sugared gospel as you would shun sugar of lead. Seek the gospel which rips up and tears and cuts and wounds and hacks and even kills, for that is the gospel that makes alive again. And when you have found it, give good heed to it. Let it enter into your inmost being. As the rain soaks into the ground, so pray the Lord to let his gospel soak into your soul."  Spurgeon

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Proof Of Devolution and Ether note


The old "man" slated for extinction ......................         ................The rising "New Man" of the USSA


P.S. re the question on ether...... the word "ether" is not there, just like the word "Trinity" isn't there, nor the word "Bible" for that matter . . . but the "firmament" I believe relates directly to the "ether".

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

P4--Ability To Believe in the Propitiation

P said:  "This atonement or propitiation was NOT directed towards men; it was and has always been directed towards God as payment to appease His wrath towards sin."

I agree, God's wrath was satisfied by the propitiatory sacrifice of the perfect lamb, the Son.  I don't ever recall being taught the contrary by Reformed elucidators. . . .

"Christ paid the penalty for sin to God and God alone.  All who believe in His covering are covered by it as well.  Our salvation requires us to believe / obey the Gospel - that His sacrifice paid the penalty for us and paid for the wrath due us ALONE and that by no merit or work of our own were we able to pay this debt."

"Our salvation requires us to believe". . . . Here is the crux, putting everything else aside for a moment.  Do you BELIEVE because you, of yourself, from your own ability, are able to freely choose to believe?  You are not SO depraved, not QUITE so "dead in sin" . . . that you can't recognize God and the need for a Savior and . . . decide to believe in His propitiatory sacrifice?

OR, are you . . . as the Bible says, "15 To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed."  Titus 1:15-16

The unbelieving are said to be defiled in both mind and conscience, "worthless for ANY good deed."

Would not BELIEVING be a "good deed"?  But the Unbelieving are worthless for ANY good deed.

"7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so," --Rom. 8:7

"It"--the unbelieving mind set on the flesh--is NOT ABLE to subject itself to the law. . . .

10 as it is written,
There is none righteous, not even one;
11 There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one.”  --Rom. 3:10-12
Well, there are many scriptures that show that man, in his fallen condition, is dead . . . DEAD! . . . like Lazarus . . . and completely hostile to God--he does not seek God (regardless of his claims to the contrary) . . . he is incapable of CHOOSING the "good deed", the "worthy" act . . . etc. of BELIEVING . . . UNTIL he is GIVING THE GIFT OF FAITH!
"By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not by works, so that no one may boast"  --Eph. 2:8-9
Paul, who in 1 Timothy 1:13-14 made it clear that his own faith was by the GRACE of God (not his own ability) also made clear to other believers (the Philippians) that THEIR belief was also A GIFT:  "29 For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,"
How can it not be . . . that the person who believes they are somewhat free and able to choose God . . . does not also then have a little to "boast" of compared to the person who, also somewhat free and able to choose to believe DOESN'T?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Readings As Requested

As per the commenter's request, here are some of the books I read and found most enjoyable and helpful when looking at the Reformation period, especially around Calvin and Geneva . . . though I also found it useful and adding to the overall context at the same time to look into Luther, and so I've included a couple of those in this list as well.  As a note, to that end, I also found it interesting to study Wesley, his life along with George Whitefield's, Jonathan Edwards, D.L. Moody and the development of the Arminian Methodists and Charismatic movements as a counterpoint within my investigation, but I'll just address the more specific request you made relating to Calvin and reiterate that these are authors from both sides, pro and con, so-to-speak and this doesn't cover all the stuff I've read online.

-- As I said, my favorite book in this line is "Calvin: A Life" by Emanuel Stickelberger.  Of all I have read on the man, this book to me is the most genuinely insightful, edifying and I believe accurate.
-- "Calvin and the Calvinistic Tradition" by Albert-Marie Schmidt  (French reformed author)
-- "John Calvin, The Man And His Ethics" by Georgia Harkness  (liberal Methodist viewpoint)

More generally (the historical context)
-- "The Reformation" by Owen Chadwick  (from the Penguin History series)
-- "A Popular History of the Reformation" by Philip Hughes  (Catholic historian)
-- "The Spirit of Protestantism" by Robert McAffee Brown  (Oxford Univ. press)

-- "Chosen By God" by R.C. Sproul
-- "Debating Calvinism" by Dave Hunt & James White  (This book was a bit frustrating because Hunt couldn't seem to stay on topic, tended to ramble and kept veering off into emotional tangents and flame throwing at "straw men", lol, but still a helpful overview of the basic "debate" and the first book I read on the subject.)
-- "Calvin:  The Institutes of the Christian Religion"  (This is quite a tome and I have read every word, but I find it easier to read and follow than I would have thought and the sections relating to what people would later come to call particularly "Calvinistic" I find quite entertaining and easy to read)

Related context (Luther)
-- "Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther" by Ronald H. Bainton
-- "Young Man Luther" by Erik H. Erikson

P3--"Definite Atonement"

P3 contention "Limited Atonement":
" . . . my biggest contention with Calvinism is with the idea of Limited atonement.  This is to me where the true fallacy of Calvinism is revealed.  I believe Calvinism to be a logical construct created by men that is then forced upon scripture.  I don’t believe you can find the idea of limited atonement, as it’s stated by Calvinists, ANYWHERE in scripture and I believe it shows a complete lack of understanding of the cross and the mediation and propitiation made by Christ!"

The term "Limited Atonement" fits well into the acronym "T.U.L.I.P." . . . but most Reformed folk I know prefer terms such as "Particular Redemption" . . . or, better yet "Definite Atonement".  The phrase "Limited Atonement" sounds slightly pejorative and does not really capture the clear teaching of scripture on the matter.

First off, unless you are a "universalist" believing that EVERYONE eventually gets "saved" and makes it to Heaven, then, whether "Arminian" or "Calvinist" . . . BOTH SIDES actually teach and must believe in so-called "Limited Atonement."

The question is whether the LIMITATION is one of EXTENT . . . or one of POWER?  Was/Is God's POWER to atone limited (in that many are not saved)? . . . or Was/Is God's EXTENT of atonement limited (in that it only extended to the Elect, the "sheep"?)

"Calvinism" (better termed, the "Doctrines of Grace") says the Bible clearly states that God's atonement/redemption is COMPLETE.  He saves EVERYONE for whom He died.  His POWER to save is perfect and accomplishes exactly what He intended, willed, decreed . . . to do.

The other side says He wanted that everyone be redeemed--be atoned for--but the extant of His atonement is limited . . . by the free will of man.

Of course, I disagree that  "Calvinism" is a "logical construct created by men . . . forced upon scripture" and would say that it is by using basic logic the obvious and clear meaning of what scripture simply says.  No "force" is necessary.  It's right there!  In abundance, by the way. . . .

"15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep . . . 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. . . ."  --John 10:15,27

Who are the "sheep" that Jesus says He laid his life down for?  Everyone in the world?  Does the whole world "hear" His voice?  Does the whole world "follow" Him? 

No.  Only His "sheep" hear His voice and follow Him, for whom He laid down His life.  This is a clear, plain depiction of "limited atonement" . . . or, better termed "definite" or "particular" atonement.

Furthermore, let me ask, does Jesus ALWAYS do the will of the Father?  Or does He only partly or sometimes do the will of the Father?

Jesus states (and all Christians know and believe) that:

"The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him."

—John 8:29
"‘My food’, said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work’."
—John 4:34
"For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost."  --Math. 18:11
Does Jesus always do the will of His Father?  Yes.  Did He finish his work?  Yes, perfectly.  Did He "save that which was lost" or save only SOME of "that which was lost"?
And so what is the will of the Father that Jesus accomplished, FINISHED?
39 This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” --John 6:39-40
No artificial logical construct need be put on this.  The statements are plain.  The Father gave the Son His sheep . . . who hear His voice . . . and it was the Father's will that the Shepard lose NONE of the sheep, and since Jesus ALWAYS does the will of the Father . . . HE LOSES NONE.

So, if ALL were to be redeemed, yet we know that many still stay lost and go to Hell, it cannot be that the atonement was for everybody.  If it were then Christ failed to complete the Father's will, which we know He didn't.  No, instead we see that He "finish[ed] His work." 

"It is finished."

Now, this is why I have asserted that getting this wrong generally leads to error beginning to stack upon error.  It is why I asked, for instance, Shawn McCraney on his t.v. show if he were a "universalist" (which he denied, by the way, even though now he is teaching that very thing "universalism".)

Because, it is usually the case that "Arminians" believe as they do because they simply cannot accept or understand how a "loving God" would ever decree and create some that He intended for eternal punishment.  So, I asked the question, "how is then better or more 'loving' that God would create a world . . . knowing (with 'foreknowledge') that so many would choose to go to Hell and be lost forever?"  And thus, that there is no sovereign purpose in the lost being lost, but rather, it is more just a kind of unfortunate, tragic side-effect of men being allowed free will?

Which is why, then what often happens . . . is that the proponent of man's "libertarian free will" starts sliding into a belief in "universalism".  They say, "no, that is too horrible too--that many, on account of their own fallen natures, stumble into Hell . . . so . . . maybe there really is no Hell . . . but just a place of temporary 'purging' . . . and, happy-happy-joy-joy-kumbaya . . . EVERYBODY makes it to Heaven eventually, because that is what a 'loving' God would do.  If Christ died for the whole world . . . and it says He finished His work . . . then . . . well . . . then ALL are His 'sheep'!"

The problem is . . . that regardless of personal sentiments . . . and what I would say are actually the artificial logical constructs foisted on the plain Word, we have verses that say:

"My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you"  --John 17:9

"for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins."  --Math. 26:28.   

[NOTICE it says His blood is poured out for "THE MANY" . . . not "all"!]

 I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep."  --John 10:11

[NOTICE He "lays down His life "FOR THE SHEEP" . . . NOT for the GOATS and sheep . . . not for the WOLVES and sheep, etc.]

"All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left."  --Matt. 25:32,33

So, unless a person is a "universalist", claiming that everyone will be saved in the end, then MOST Christians believe in "Limited Atonement."  The question becomes, WHO does the LIMITING?

I believe scripture is clear that God is absolutely Sovereign; that He perfectly accomplishes His will, which is to save those He determined to save . . . that Christ's atonement was completely EFFECTIVE . . . that He saves ALL for whom He died and loses NONE. . . .

And, on the contrary, I would suggest that it is MAN'S traditions, sentiments, opinions and fallacious "logical constructs" etc., that subvert, twist, change, eisegete . . . what the Word of God clearly states in this matter.

[Eisegete: To place meaning on a text which is not originally or inherently present in the text itself.]

Friday, December 13, 2013

Mathemagics and book note

"Mathemagics" . . . not mathematics . . . . but mathmagical equations are what the relativity, quantum guys use so far as I can tell . . . looking into a lot lately....will be reporting on my findings:)

Re the comment about literature about Geneva . . .

My favorite so far, which I think was fair and just a great read with insight is "Calvin: A Life" by Emanuel Stickelberger ..... Here is a blurb from Amazon:

"Few great men have been so consistently misunderstood as Calvin and the eminent Swiss man of letters, Emanuel Stickelberger, throws a vivid light upon both the man and his times. Stickelberger sees the pale, frail man of Geneva against the background of the tumultuous times in which he lived. His iron will, constant struggle with ill health, utter dedication to his task, almost super-human capacity for work and indifference to financial reward, are all arrestingly portrayed. Stickelberger paints his portrait with a remarkable economy of words and with a fine sense of drama. The result is a vivid and fascinating study of a man and an epoch, that holds the reader's attention from the first page to the last."

But I just noticed apparently it is a bit of a rare book (the good ones tend to be, heh) . . . but findable....An excellent book with great reviews....

I will look over my bookshelf for the others I have read and list those next chance...... I read books from both sides of opinion on Calvin and Geneva, pro, anti . . . and some that were fairly well just neutral and about the facts without a big bias either way....
God bless

Thursday, December 12, 2013

"The Universe Is A Hologram"

“I view this idea as a model, but it’s a model that gives a mathematical description of quantum spacetime,” he said in a previous interview. “So we should take it seriously until someone refutes it, or comes up with something better.”

The latest theoretical, anti-God, nonsense based on Einstein's "relativity" baloney (there is no truth, all is relative) . . . suggesting that the universe may be a hologram!

"For one study, physicist Yoshifumi Hyakutake and his colleagues created a computer model of a black hole – which is formed when a large amount of mass is concentrated in a tiny region of space and creates a gravitational pull so strong that not even light can escape."

NOTE.... a "computer model of a black hole" . . . .

It's all creative math, the kind now being taught under Common Core, so that all the kids can believe in atheist, "naturalist", "big-bang" fairy tales. . . .

Dark matter?  A THEORY to compensate for the problems with the pseudo-science high priests to explain things they can't accept in the God created universe.

“They have numerically confirmed, perhaps for the first time, something we were fairly sure had to be true, but was still a conjecture — namely that the thermodynamics of certain black holes can be reproduced from a lower-dimensional universe,” said Leonard Susskind, a theoretical physicist at Stanford University."

Note . . . "they have NUMERICALLY CONFIRMED" .  .  . blah blah blah........ Not REALLY confirmed, through ACTUAL science!..... No.... but by using their skewed, made-up equations based on biased hypotheses . . . based on false assumptions . . . based on . . . their desperate need to excise GOD from His creation and insert ..... er . . . HOLOGRAMS!   THAT'S IT!  HAHAHAHAHAHA!

P2--In Calvin's Time . . . .

Patrick mentions:  "There is also much history that shows the error and evil that was born under Calvin’s rule in Geneva, some intentional and some not, but I won’t spend any time on that here.  Needless to say, it’s worth reading and understanding to shed light on the fruit of these doctrines."

First off, I think saying that what was going in Geneva and all through Europe at the time of Calvin is a "fruit" of the Doctrines of Grace is fallacious.  Context is critical in understanding what was already happening and common cultural, politically, socially at that time.  It would be more accurate to look at the birth of America, the Constitution, the freedom and flourishing that existed in early America and the revival of the Church and sound Biblical teaching, Capitalism (which has produced the greatest material good for the common man above all other economic systems, contrary to current Communist/Socialist propaganda) as the fruits of Reformed theology.

It is a common mistake to judge past eras and people according to modern morays and sentiment.  Calvin was a man of his times.  Anarchy, unfettered libertinism, witchcraft, state and church violence (Catholic & Protestant) were rampant, and the religious leaders of the day considered heresy the a grave danger and threat to an already chaotic and unstable civil society.

In the famous case of the execution of Servetus, it is notable that Servetus himself believed in the execution of heretics, of whom, he considered John Calvin to be one.  Calvin also was not the head of the civil government in Geneva, which was run by "The Council" and it was THEY who tried and convicted and sentenced Servetus.  Yes, Calvin agreed, as did other of the top and well respected leaders of the Reformation, including Bucer, Melanchthon, as well as, on the other side the Roman Catholic councils.  Calvin, in fact tried to intervene, begging Servetus to recant his heretical statements and promotions, and when this failed (Servetus would NOT recant) Calvin urged the magistrates he be not burned, but beheaded instead, but he was overruled by The Council.

The execution of heretics had been going on for centuries and was in it final heyday at the time of Calvin.  Certainly, such attitudes and practices predated Reformed theology and cannot seriously be called its "fruits."

As for some of the other executions, which numbers have been inflated by anti-Calvinists, some of these included those accused of witchcraft.  But not just witchcraft, but there are records that show that there were a group anarchists, occultists and libertines who were deliberately spreading the plague around the city--serious stuff in a day when the plague, if it took hold, could have WIPED OUT the population of the city, including many innocent men, women and children.

The CONTEXT of the times, which were tumultuous, dangerous, and a product of centuries of  war and disease, anarchy, superstition, and violent oppression by secular and ecclesiastical tyrants . . . is often conveniently OVERLOOKED and swept aside by those who want to paint the worst possible picture of Calvin and Reformed theology.

This is similar to what militant atheists do when they decry the "violent God of the Old Testament" pointing to genocides, slavery and massacres that occurred in those days (wholly missing, ignoring the context.)

Anyway, I HAVE read a number of histories of Calvin and the Reformation period, which is interesting and complex and easy to caricature with a modern lens; but regardless, even IF Calvin were the malevolent character that some say he is, Reformed theology stands on its own merit, which merit, I contend is nothing less than being a clear, consistent rendering of what the Bible itself says. 

I'm not necessarily contending that P's argument is this exactly (that because Calvin was a bad guy, "Calvinism" is bad), but if it is, it is the "genetic fallacy", which others often make, to say that "because Calvin was a bad guy, his theology is thus also bad."

This quote from Jim McClarty is what I have usually found to be the case, though I don't know how extensively and un-biasedly P has looked into the full history to arrive at his own opinion.  There is also "much history" that shows Calvin was not the raging religious maniac that some portray him as, but more  . . . a reluctant product of his times.  Nevertheless, the "genetic fallacy" overall, I say applies:

"While John Calvin and I certainly have areas of agreement in questions of theology and soteriology, we have significant differences in our ecclesiology. My understanding of the New Covenant causes me to argue that the crimes of Servetus required excommunication, but the Church has no authority to put a man to death. 

But, my understanding of the historic context and political situation surrounding the execution of heretics in Geneva also forces me to conclude that John Calvin was not a murderous man, nor was the Council acting against its conscience or its laws. Any effort to paint John Calvin as a power mad authoritarian who ruled the church and the city with an iron fist and the threat of death simply belies the ignorance and lack of historical research on the part of the man who makes such a biased claim."


Genetic Fallacy: The genetic fallacy, also known as fallacy of origins, fallacy of virtue, is a fallacy of irrelevance where a conclusion is suggested based solely on something or someone's origin rather than its current meaning or context. This overlooks any difference to be found in the present situation, typically transferring the positive or negative esteem from the earlier context. (wiki)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

P1 final remarks & McCraneyism Update

[P1 First Contention continued and wrap-up]

Another angle came to my while I was at work yesterday, pondering. . . .

Briefly, regarding naming, defining a systematic understanding of doctrine . . . I think I can make a case why it is good and helpful to use names like "Arminianism" or "Calvinism".

BECAUSE there is such a proliferation of UN-Biblical teaching and so-called "doctrine" being promoted as "Biblical" . . . it is helpful to have some words that more specifically represent the different positions.  As it is . . . there are doctrines being called "Biblical" which are contradictory, some heretical, some simply misguided, some actually humanistic etc., so saying "I just follow the Bible" . . . or "I believe in 'Biblical' doctrine" . . . doesn't really say anything.  It's practically meaningless. 

But if you say, "I'm basically Arminian" . . . or "I'm Calvinist" . . . or "I'm Charismatic" . . . well, then, I instantly have a good idea what you believe.  It's a given that a person saying one of these things believes they are being "Biblical" . . . according to their understanding, but at least now I know roughly where they are coming from.

Shawn McCraney has recently been saying he is not "Calvinist", nor is he "Arminian".  He claims though to be preaching "TRUE Christianity." 

We, thusly, call it McCraneyism.  It is his own, individual position.  Unfortunately, and somewhat alarmingly, however, this is usually how cults start out.  The "inspired" leader/teacher/preacher/"prophet" or whatever . . . has a "NEW" take on the Bible.  "It doesn't really quite fit in" (supposedly) with what's gone before."  He is bringing something "new" . . . which nobody else has quite figured out before.  So, you need to follow the cult leader (not the Bible or traditional understandings of the Bible) . . . to get this "unique" . . . "novel" . . . "new revelation".

Another thing I have noticed with "no labels" type approaches, is that they often are nothing more than "liberalism" disguised as "neutral" or "no label" . . . seeking really to undermine or defeat the
"traditional" or "conservative" position.  For instance, in politics, there is a growing movement and party called "the no labels party".  They claim to be "problem solvers" . . . who are tired of the "bickering" . . . and tired of those who insist on maintaining "principled" stances.

When you scratch the surface, however, what you find is that the so-called "no labels" people are really just liberal, big-government, same old collectivists hiding under a new purportedly "non-partisan" label. 

Regarding politics, at least, give me a socialist like Bernie Sanders who ADMITS what he is and wants . . . or an unapologetic "right winger" who openly states what he/she is/wants . . . and STANDS for it . . . any day over the fa├žade of this "no labels" pretending to be neutral, "non-biased" etc., where they actually have a very specific, biased agenda.

BTW, a Shawn McCraney update . . . . . . On his show last night he announced an ambitious new plan he is about to unfold where he is going to start running a 24/7 "Christian" t.v. station . . . locally first, but with hopes of getting into the cable market.  I . . . we . . . find it interesting . . . that he is going to allow homosexuals and atheists to have their own night during the week of programming . . . to spout their agendas and ideas . . . to promote "dialogue" and discussion . . . alongside the rest of the "Christian" programming . . . but he was emphatic that no "Calvinists" would be allowed on his network!  THAT will NOT be allowed!  Lol. . . .

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Left-Wing "tolerance" coming soon to a church near you!

Are you ready . . . America?  Are you willing to stand . . . Church?  Believer?  To carry your cross and be hated?  God, as He has from the beginning, will continue to clean out His Church, sifting wheat and tares . . . until the final sifting.  If He did not, there would be nothing left of it, for it would die in lethargy, worldliness, affluent rot. . . . Like He said to those following Him after being fed, "you do not want me, you just want what's on my table" and they left discouraged.  That is a paraphrase . . . but makes the point.

This is disturbing to watch, so warning . . . but Believers ought to be realistic and somewhat prepared for what is coming to many in the Faith, or even those simply bearing the trappings of the Faith.  Indeed, it is already happening . . . and the God-hating spirit is spreading like wildfire--a judgment upon the people and much of the Church . . . for abandoning God for comfort's sake. . . .

The spirit of these Argentinian feminist pro-death protestors reminds of the pro-abortion/death "Hail Satan" mob shouting down the Christians singing "Amazing Grace" from a while back. . . .

The tolerance and compassion of the Left is a wonder to behold . . . . .

P1 continued (What's in a name?)

[Patricks' first contention continued]

P says:  "Let me start by saying, my first contention with Calvinism is that it is a belief system began and started by a man, John Calvin.  Matt 15:9 states “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”  This, along with Arminianism and other denominations are NAMED after men, is this not what Christ warned of!  To me, this should be our first warning sign that we may be in dangerous territory."


I want to briefly mention something regarding "This, along with Arminianism and other denominations are NAMED after men, is this not what Christ warned of?"

Well, just the fact that people have ascribed a name to a doctrinal position does not necessarily mean that the doctrine is incorrect or "the commandments of men." 

If someone is teaching, for instance, pure, excellent, correct Biblical doctrine . . . but calls it "Banana", the most important thing is what the doctrine actually is, not what it is called.  So just being called "Calvinism" (usually by detractors, btw) doesn't necessarily mean so-called "Calvinism" doesn't represent what is actually just generally true Biblical teaching.  [I say "generally true" to acknowledge that probably NONE of us . . . here . . . as fallible, fallen, limited humans are able to completely exegete or relay PERFECT Biblical teaching.]

For instance, there are all kinds of heretical, wacky, wonky, UN-Biblical doctrine and teachings taught under the name "Christianity" . . . right?  The Catholic church claims to be the one true church teaching the infallible "word of God".  They claim to be "Christian", as do the Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.  Calling themselves "Christian" is irrelevant, however to what is actually taught and what their doctrine actually consists of.

Mormons claim to preach "THE Gospel".  We, as Biblical Christians also claim to preach "The Gospel".  Same name in both cases.  The name is beside the point.  What IS the doctrine being taught? 

So, just because people after Calvin, have grown into calling what he taught "Calvinism", that title is really beside the point.  Is what he taught "Biblical"?  I assert yes, as far as I have understood it.  It is NOT the "commandments of men" (which, note "commandments of men" are and have often been taught under the name "Christianity").

So, no, of course I would not agree that this is what Christ warned of.  Christ warned of FALSE doctrine, regardless of what it is called.  He said many would come in His name preaching false doctrine.  The first "warning signs" I would thus be looking for, would not necessarily be what a set of doctrine is called (though I agree that might be a clue) . . . but what the doctrine actually asserts and whether it is contrived or whether it accurately reflects, states what the Word states. . . . .

I am reminded of certain people (not you) but often the less than studiously inclined, who wave away doctrinal controversies and almost shun theological discussion, saying "I just follow Jesus and the Bible" . . . as if that settled the issue.

But . . . WHAT Jesus?  WHAT interpretation of the Bible?  Does the person follow the Mormon Jesus?  A "new agey" kind of Jesus?  The Catholic Jesus?  The Muslim Jesus?  The Hindu Jesus?  Does the person believe the Bible is infallible?  Or just a good guide?  Do they believe Genesis?  Believe in actual miracles . . . or just metaphorical types? . . . .

Saying, "I just follow Jesus and the Bible" immediately brings in theology and doctrine whether the person saying this means it or not.  What Jesus?  What does the Bible actually say?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Intro's and the First Contention (P1)

Ok, so below is Patrick's mini dissertation of his stance on "Calvinism" (or what I think is more properly termed the "Doctrines of Grace" . . . or "Reformed Doctrine" . . . or . . . actually what most of us so-called "Calvinists" call simply Biblical Christianity or Biblical teaching/doctrine or what the Word actually says. . . . Ah, but there is the first issue, isn't it?  (Btw, I will use the denotation such as "P1" in the blog titles to show which blog entries are related to this specific issue, ie,. "P1" means this is the FIRST post related to Patrick's contentions/dissertation).
And just above P's writing is my first response in agreement that these need not be divisive matter amongst the Body . . . where we both agree that differences do not necessarily mean that one or the other holding to such differences determine who is "in or out of the Kingdom". . . .
Now, back to P's first contention:  "Calvinism is that it is a belief system began and started by a man, John Calvin."
I do not agree.  If you had walked up to Calvin and said, "Now, Johnny, about this "TULIP" business. . . . "  He would not know what you were talking about.  The "five-points" (TULIP) were later systematized, of course, as part of a formal response to the Arminian "Remonstrant" (the five contentions offered by the followers of Arminius challenging the prevailing "Reformed" doctrine that was taking hold.
Anyway, all the so-called "Calvinists" I know and know of . . . do not consider themselves as "followers of Calvin."  "Calvinism" is just a term, like "Christian" that quickly references a general set of beliefs and doctrine.  We, of the "Reformed" position, assert unequivocally that what we are professing is nothing other than what the Bible teaches . . . and what was taught by Jesus and the Apostles and various early church fathers . . . through Augustine (versus Pelagius) . . . never totally lost . . . through the centuries . . . returning again and again to take on religion, doctrines of men, tradition and ever-budding new and old recurring heresies. . . .
We would say that "Calvinism" is NOT a "belief system began and started by a man" . . . but that Calvin simply clarified and rediscovered (like others before him) WHAT THE BIBLE ACTUALLY TEACHES.  I do not "follow" Calvin.  I had already determined many of the Reformed analysis on my own, from my own study of the Bible . . . before I really knew much or anything about Calvin and so-called "Calvinism".  What I DID find was that Reformed theology ("Calvinism") confirmed what I was already discovering . . . through study, prayer, inspiration and Holy Spirit leading.
So, that is my answer to the first contention, briefly. . . . And, quoting you, Patrick, I turn this phrase back on you where you said "I don’t think the counter position portrayed has been appropriately represented" (that is, that "Calvinism is a belief system began and started by a man. ")
I will pick up the other points going forward . . . and again reiterate my appreciation for this engagement . . . iron sharpening iron . . . for the glory of God . . . always! . . . and . . . back in a bit....God bless:)
Thanks Patrick for getting this to me . . . . . . quickly glancing at the intro I appreciate and share the same sentiments that these issues need not be divisive nor intervene in Christian brotherly fellowship and love, for sure!  Jesus is the all in all, I agree and HE saves, not "doctrines" or even full understanding of doctrine...but Jesus alone through faith alone, repentance.. . . being born again in Him.
Thanks for the time and thought you've put into this--I love thinking and thinkers, heh . . . and iron sharpening iron indeed--one of the great pleasures I find in this life! .... It will take me a minute to respectfully and seriously respond... so thanks for your patience moving forward, but I am excited and way interested to do so . . .and WILL get to it all . .  as able and God willing :)  God bless you bro and your family--especially through the sometimes frenetic and challenging "holidays" :) T
Brother Thomas,
We’ve had some brief exchanges and I’ve posted a few comments of retort on the blog concerning Calvinism and I have needed to take the chance to fully disclose my views on the subject so you and see them plainly and they can be refined.  I apologize that this has taken so long to write… 
I have found that my refutations of Calvinism are not the straw-men composed in your blogs and in that, I don’t think the counter position portrayed has been appropriately represented. What follows below are some of my main objections to Calvinism and what I believe about some of its central assertions. 
Let me start by stating that I am NOT an Arminian, NOR a Calvinist.  My views do not fit neatly into a particular systematic theology, albeit I have much doctrine and belief in common and fellowship with conservative, Bible-believing Christians.  I regard the Bible as the ultimate standard of Truth and find its light revealed by the indwelling Spirit whose purpose is to Glorify Jesus the Christ.  I affirm the Gospel as preached and taught by Jesus and the Apostles and stand with the Saints throughout history who have walked with Christ, suffered for His Name and revealed His truth and Glory.   
Additionally, the point of this paper is not to stir up controversy or debate or to in any way denigrate followers of these theologies.  You know my love and respect for you (and others who hold different Christian theologies) and I only offer this as a counterview for the edification of the body, for both of our refinements and that in the end we would all understand more of the truth.  I do NOT believe these doctrinal differences demark those who are in or out of the Kingdom or any basis for division in the body, but different views among brethren and I believe they should be treated that way.  I have not arrived, but I do believe the Lord has shown me some things that I offer here, hopefully in the spirit of humility and submission.
Let me start by saying, my first contention with Calvinism is that it is a belief system began and started by a man, John Calvin.  Matt 15:9 states “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”  This, along with Arminianism and other denominations are NAMED after men, is this not what Christ warned of!  To me, this should be our first warning sign that we may be in dangerous territory.  There is also much history that shows the error and evil that was born under Calvin’s rule in Geneva, some intentional and some not, but I won’t spend any time on that here.  Needless to say, it’s worth reading and understanding to shed light on the fruit of these doctrines.  (This in no way is meant to cast a shadow on his faith, he clearly was a committed Christian and used of God, but it is worth looking at the fruit of his systematic theology because just because someone is a Christian, does not mean all they teach or believe is of Christ)
Firstly, we should define Calvinism and to do so, I will keep it simple with the acronym; TULIP.  This is commonly used by Calvinists to define their position and I’ve outlined it below:
T – Total Depravity
U – Unconditional Election
L – Limited Atonement
I – Irresistible Grace
P – Perseverance of the Saints
For those who don’t understand the technicality of these terms, you can review them in more detail here:
This the foundation stone of Calvin’s systematic theology and form the logical progression of salvation according to Calvin.  
Many people focus the debate around the concept of Unconditional Election; free will vs. pre-destination.  I do have some things to say on that topic, but my biggest contention with Calvinism is with the idea of Limited atonement.  This is to me where the true fallacy of Calvinism is revealed.  I believe Calvinism to be a logical construct created by men that is then forced upon scripture.  I don’t believe you can find the idea of limited atonement, as it’s stated by Calvinists, ANYWHERE in scripture and I believe it shows a complete lack of understanding of the cross and the mediation and propitiation made by Christ!
The purpose and point of the cross was to make an end of sins and reconciliation for iniquity:
“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy.” Dan 9:24
This atonement or propitiation was NOT directed towards men; it was and has always been directed towards God as payment to appease His wrath towards sin.
Christ was the perfect sacrifice, the unblemished lamb, perfectly eternal and able in His ability to lay down one sacrifice for all time that would pay the penalty to God for ALL sin and appease the wrath of almighty God.  Subsequently, because of the atonement, He could be a covering for all who believe in Him (reference Passover - the blood protected those who put it on, including Egyptians who listened and condemned all who ignored it, including Israelites).  This, I believe, is the fallacy of limited atonement as it directs the atonement towards redeeming man instead of towards payment to God. 
Christ paid the penalty for sin to God and God alone.  All who believe in His covering are covered by it as well.  Our salvation requires us to believe / obey the Gospel - that His sacrifice paid the penalty for us and paid for the wrath due us ALONE and that by no merit or work of our own were we able to pay this debt.  Propitiation means to appease God's wrath through payment / sacrifice, it does not mean saving men.
From scripture, it’s clear that this propitiation paid the penalty for all sin for all time.  The Bible states:
“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:2
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16
The only way this can be turned into Christ’s blood only paying for the sins of the elect is by redefining what “World” means (commonly done by Calvinists), misunderstanding the atonement and imposing an external system of logic onto the text to force it to behave according to the desire of the authors because it doesn’t support their core thesis.
There is a similar problem with pre-destination.  Clearly the Bible speaks of the elect and those who are predestined for salvation, but it also speaks of evangelism and repentance, choosing God and believing on the Gospel of Jesus.  God also sent prophets to the people of old (not just to Jews, but also the Greeks at least – ref: Epimenides quoted in Acts 17 and referenced as a prophet in Titus 1:12).  Joshua talks about choosing the God each family will serve.  The Bible goes on and on with examples of people being presented a choice to believe God (as Abraham) or to reject God (as Demas 1 – 2 Tim 4:10). 
How do we reconcile these competing, conflicting ideas?  Calvinists reject free-will and embrace complete election.  Arminians reject election and embrace free-will.  They both can’t be right.  Again, I think this is where the danger sets in, instead of embracing the teaching of scripture EVEN IF IT SEEMS CONTRADICTORY to our minds these theologies impose a system of logic to it that’s comprehensible to men but does not represent the fullness of God’s revelation. 
However, the scriptures teach us that God’s thought is far superior to our own and exhorts us to take on the whole counsel of God:
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” - Isa 55:9
God’s logic and justice is so much higher than ours and yet we would presume to constrict him by our puny minds!  This is the danger that these doctrines of men lead us to and is what we must be on guard against at all times, creating a god who obeys our logic instead of submitting to His.  Bro T – I know you often present pre-destination deniers as doing this same thing, but it is also what Calvinists appear to be doing, too!  It’s idolatry, plain and simple…
I do believe the ideas of pre-destination and free-will can be unified when viewed outside of time (from man’s view – we have free will; from God’s view – we are pre-destined).  However, I don’t want to get burdened down with theories, but I do want to highlight a modern, perfect example of seemingly contradictory facts that are both provably true that can give us a construct for understanding God’s nature more and embracing the totality of scripture.  I believe God has put this in nature and revealed it in His time for us to discover and to again humble man and show him that He is so much more than we can conceive…
Most of us have heard of some of the new revelations of physics and maybe even read or studied about quantum physics and particle physics.  These discoveries are turning our concept of reality and logic completely upside down.  Objects, particles and waves behave in ways that seem completely impossible by our 3D minds and macro-existence.  The only problem is that these strange behaviors (“spooky actions at a distance” – Einstein) have been proven over and over again in experiments and are undeniably the way God has engineered our sub-atomic world.  Not wanting to get too deep into the weeds, I want to highlight just one example: light.
Since the 1700’s, various scientists, including Newton, have debated about whether Light was a particle (photon) or a wave.  Various experiments through the nineteenth century highlighted and confirmed that light behaved both like a particle and like a wave AT THE SAME TIME.  This effect, called wave-particle duality, is an underlying property of all matter and is easily confirmed and observable by experiment.  The point here is to highlight as prime example, that in God’s creation (and in Light of all things – used to show God’s nature), that it demonstrates two mutually exclusive behaviors AT THE SAME TIME!
This is why I exhort all of us to embrace the entirety of Scripture and let the text stand and speak for itself!  If we begin to impose logical systems onto the text to help bridge perceived conflicts in our understanding we corrupt God’s teaching and His character and are in danger of judgment:
“And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” – Rev 22:19
I have found other problems with Calvinism and reformed theology, but they all tend to gravitate around these common errors; man-centered soteriology, logical imposition and scriptural re-interpretation. 
I would probably have more to say on the matter, but I think I will rest with these particular points.  I would look forward to your review and response on them and see if, as iron sharpens iron, we can both be taught and grow in our knowledge of Him. 
Thank you for your time and consideration and as always, blessings to you and your family in Christ!

Brother Thomas ©2015

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