prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates.
pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.
Friday, June 30, 2006
This Threads for You - Take Two
A couple of weeks ago I attempted this because I have seen it done on other folks blogs which brought some good discussion. I realize that sometimes what I write about may not have much relevance to you, or if it does, you might not have a comment. Furthermore, I like to know what is going on in the minds of others, that is, what they are thinking about, interested in, etc.
CONSEQUENTLY, I have decided to give this a second try. This thread/post is for anything and everything you want to talk about (that is of course for civil discussion). Do you have anything that you want to discuss or talk about? Do you have any possible questions that you would like to ask me (or others)? Feel free to chime in. And please do not think it has to do with theological, philosophical, or ecclesiological matters (it doesn't have to have -ical or -ology either). While I rarely take the time to write about the various idiosyncratic ways that constitute my life outside these few sentences, I assure you I have a life outside this computer screen. :)
If any of you choose to comment, I hope to answer any questions or reply in the next couple of days. I will be leaving Sunday for a week long family vacation (at the beach), so I will not have my computer with me. Therefore, if you would like me to respond, please know that I will be able to until Sunday. Thank you, and come join the conversation!
This was taken last month at a wedding I shot with my good friend Dan. It is located about an hour away from Louisville in a small town called Brandenburg. The venue was quite nice and the weather that day was perfect. This little bridge lead to the woods and an outhouse (which I had just visited). However, what strikes me about this image was that shortly after taking it, my lens defaulted and has not been the same since! :( It is operational but not without personal frustration and frequent mechanical failure. Oh well, I guess I need to get used to shooting prime lenses better anyway. This next week I will be at the beach for a family vacation. It will be my first opportunity to shoot some beach landscapes and possibly some sunsets/sunrises. By this time next week I hope to have something to show of the week (that is, if my lenses work!). Have a great weekend everyone!
Our Judgment-Driven Culture and the Schizophrenic Quest for Reality
It was 1948 when the first reality show called Candid Camera debuted on television which attracted scores of people with pulling pranks on unsuspecting people and their subsequent reactions.Since then, the phenomena of reality shows has ballooned over the last decade.One list reveals that there have been at least 317 reality shows since Candid Camera including the likes of Cops which is currently into its 19th season.According to Amazon.com, DVD’s of reality shows have outranked many of the popular movies and drama series in their popularity and sales.One does not have to get click-happy with the remote to realize the dominating appeal reality shows have not only on network television, but also on some of the most obscure cable television channels as well.
After having watched a couple of these reality shows, I reflected on what this all this is saying about our culture (and me).More and more, reality shows are consisting of three judges who will judge a person’s performance whether it be comedy, singing, dance, modeling.Of course, these judges are penultimate as the final authority of these candidates weigh in the balance of the judgment of the American people.In almost all and every area of life, we have only to call an 800 number or text a couple of digits to cast our vote or place our judgment upon those participating in the reality show.
This has intrigued me since we are told that we live in an age where it is politically incorrect to judge anyone.It has been said that while our elder generation’s favorite verse is John 3:16, which has been replaced with the often misquoted and misinterpreted verse Matthew 7:1 which says, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”As our culture has become increasingly pluralistic, it is said that a Christian is immoral, arrogant, and bigoted to say that those who do not believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord will go to hell.I am told that I cannot judge those people who want to believe something else.It appears that our culture and its thinkers have decided to judge the areas in which we are allowed to place judgment—all areas except matters of ultimate reality and absolute truth.In the areas that don’t really matter, it is a judgment free-for-all, but in the weightier matters of life, we are told that we are to keep our opinions to ourselves.Furthermore, while we are all too quick to dial that number to judge another person, we would not dare to allow anyone to judge us—including ourselves.
Yet there is a judgment upon us whether we realize it or not.Jesus Himself said, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil” (John ).And the writer of Hebrews reminds us that “it is appointed for man to die once and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews ).The Holy Spirit has come to convict us of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8-11), and ultimately there will be a judgment by the eternal and just Judge at the judgment seat of Christ and the Great White Throne Judgment.And lest we forget, our God is a judging God as the Father (John ), the Son (John ,27,29-30) and the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-11) all participate in judgment.
There is no greater reality than the judgment of God, but we are told that we are not allowed to speak of such reality.Our culture, having been jaded by the fictional drama of melodramatic script, has actively been in pursuit of reality through the tube while at the same time disallowing anyone to judge them as a sinner and the reality of God's justice and holiness. This schizophrenic quest of reality is a journey in a real-life fairy tale where the ending is worse than being booted off a reality television show.It is being cast into an eternal hell where sinners will be tormented for an eternity.The “American Idol” is not Taylor Hicks or Carrie Underwood—it is us.The idol of self has led us to so affectionately worship ourselves that we are functionally incapable of judging ourselves.We believe we are the captain of our own ship, entitled to our own rights of self-determination, and free to chart the course of others in our judgment all the while we are suffering eternal shipwreck.
About 2000 years ago there was a reality show in Jerusalem.No, it wasn’t scripted on television.It was “live” in the courtyard of the high priest.Caiaphas, the high priest, and the scribes and elders took their seats to judge Jesus as a blasphemer.The question posed by Caiaphas rang louder than 40 million callers as he asked, “What is your judgment?” (Matthew 26:66).The whole Council answered, “He deserves death.”Ironically, Jesus was blameless in every way—indeed sinless in perfection regarding the law, yet he took upon the judgment that hell-bound sinners deserved by dying on the cross to become a curse for us.Jesus did not deserve death—we did.
Not much is different these days as the judgment-driven culture of the 1st century is much like that of the 21st century.The same question is being asked today, “What is your judgment?”on almost a daily basis.And while we mourn over our favorite singer, dancer, or comedian being booted off some television show where they hoped to win a million dollars, we have failed to mourn over lost souls who are being booted straight to hell for an eternity without any hope of heaven or the reward of knowing Jesus.More than that, while we are competent to place judgment on reality shows, we have succumbed to the pressure of a schizophrenic culture as incompetent Christians to place judgment on sinners in the greatest realities of life, truth, and salvation.Christian friend, we who deserve death and judgment and who have received life abundant in Christ should be faithful and true in a confused and confounded culture to show that the end of their quest for reality is not in the television tube but in the cross of Jesus Christ.
Addressing Omnibenevolence Part IV: 'Constrained Impassibility' and Anthropopathisms
It has been a couple of weeks since my last post in the “Addressing Omnibenevolence” series.For those new to the discussion, I am providing some research and thoughts about the idea of an “omnibenevolent God” in response to the debate thesis of Ergun and Emir Caner which says:“Resolved: That God is an Omnibenevolent God to all of humanity through salvation and opportunity.”
Having discussed much of Carson’s work The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, this post has to do with a section in which he argues for what he calls “constrained impassibility” and refutes the case for anthropopathisms.Because these terms are somewhat technical, I have provided some definitional background to them (anthropopathism is often lumped into anthropomorphism).The main idea here is in what sense is God loving?Is there a distinction between the nature of God’s love and a passionate love?Does God suffer?Because God has emotions, does this make him weak, vulnerable, and capable of being overcome?These are important questions tied to the love of God.Let’s look at a few definitional background statements:
Impassibility of God – The doctrine that God is not capable of being acted upon or affected emotionally by anything in creation.
Passibility, Thomists argued, involved potentiality and potentiality involves change.Unrealized potential and change in the Deity seemed to contradict their understanding of God’s immutability, transcendence, self-existence, self-determination, and perfection.
“We do not worship . . . an apathetic God.Just as God perfectly uses his intellectual and volitional powers, he perfectly uses his emotional powers.Negatively, God has no physical pains, and no emotions, inconsistent with all his other attributes.God is not overcome by emotions, has no emotions out of control, out of balance, or inappropriate.God does not suffer emotional disorders.Affirmatively, the God of the Bible has appropriate, healthy, self-controlled emotional experience.As exhibited by Jesus, the Father may be viewed as weeping with those who weep and rejoicing with those who rejoice.”
(G.R. Lewis, EDT, 553).
Anthropomorphism – Assignment of human attributes to nonhuman things.Biblical anthropomorphisms are used primarily in reference to God, who is neither visible nor human.The use of human terminology to talk about God is necessary when we, in our limitations, wish to express truths about the Deity who by his very nature cannot be described or known.From biblical times to the present, people have felt compelled to explain what God is like, and no expressions other than human terms are able to convey any semblance of meaning to the indescribable.
Akin to anthropomorphisms are anthropopathisms used to refer to God’s emotions.God is a jealous God (Ex. 20:5) who hates (Amos ) and becomes angry (Jer. ), but also loves (Ex. 20:6) and is pleased (Deut. 28:63).Anthropomorphisms and anthropopathisms are figures of speech that transmit theological truths about God to humankind.Only when taken literally are they misconstrued.Taken as metaphorical expressions, they provide by analogy a conceptual framework by which the God who is beyond our comprehension becomes a person—a person whom we can love.
(Keith N. Schoville, EDBT, 26-27)
Note: Calvin argued that anthropomorphisms and anthropopathisms are God’s way of accommodation to the capacities of the human mind and heart.The important thing to note is that it is God who accommodates himself through human thought and language.
Now to a few quotes from Carson:
“It is no answer to espouse a form of impassibility that denies that God has an emotional life and that insists that all of the biblical evidence to the contrary is nothing more than anthropopathism.The price is too heavy.You may then rest in God’s sovereignty, but you can no longer rejoice in his love.You may rejoice only in a linguistic expression that is an accommodation of some reality of which we cannot conceive, couched in the anthropopathism of love.Give me a break” (59).
We must ask the following question:
“If God is utterly sovereign, and if he is utterly all-knowing, what space is left for emotions as we think of them?”
Carson points out two critical points in understanding what he calls “constrained impassibility”:
God exercises this love in conjunction with all his other perfections, but his love is no less love for all that.
His love emanates from his own character; it is not dependent on the loveliness of the loved, external to himself. (63)
“Closer to the mark is the recognition that all of God’s emotions, including his love in all its aspects, cannot be divorced from God’s knowledge, God’s power, God’s will.If God loves, it is because he chooses to love; if he suffers, it is because he chooses to suffer.God is impassible in the sense that he sustains no ‘passion,’ no emotion, that makes him vulnerable from the outside, over which he has no control, or which he has not foreseen.Equally, however, all of God’s will or choice or plan is never divorced from his love—just as it is never divorced from his justice, his holiness, his omniscience, and all his other perfections” (60).
“In that framework [that God’s passions are displayed in conjunction with the fullness of all his other perfections], God’s love is not so much a function of his will, as something that displays itself in perfect harmony with his will—and with his holiness, his purposes in redemption, his infinitely wise plans, and so forth” (61).
“God does not ‘fall in love’ with the elect; he does not ‘fall in love’ with us; he sets his affection on us.He does not predestine us out of some stern whimsy; rather, in love he predestines us to be adopted as his sons (Eph. 1:4-5).The texts themselves tie the love of God to other perfections in God” (61).Emphasis original.
Note: For a lengthy discussion on impassibility, anthropopathism, and divine suffering, see John Frame’s contribution in No Other God, 179-90 and The Doctrine of God, 608-16.
Many of us are aware of the seven “I AM’s” in the gospel of John, and some of us may be aware of the seven signs (semeion) as well.Others may have listed the seven symbols of Jesus.But have you ever considered the seven witnesses in the gospel of John?
Actually, witnessing is a big deal for John as he used the word 14 times as a noun and 33 times as a verb in his gospel account.To put this in perspective, the other Gospel combined only used it 4 times as a noun and 2 times as a verb.As a matter of fact, the whole gospel is written as a sort of gospel tract to unbelievers as the Evangelist states:
“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name”
To bear witness or testify is something we cannot gloss over.The Scriptures show us that we are not only to have a first-hand account of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but we are to “go on record” by committing ourselves to the truth in the midst of the jury of our world who wants to know if there is enough evidence to believe in Jesus.We testify as those who seek to provide reliable and trustworthy accounts of the living reality of Christ in us.Can we be charged as guilty for confessing Christ?Have we remained neutral or silent in our commitment to the glories and beauty of our Savior?
Consider the first six witness to Jesus Christ as laid out in John’s gospel:
The Father (-32, 34, 37; )
“And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me.”John 5:37
“I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.”John 8:18
Jesus Christ (himself) (,18; ,32; )
Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going.”John 8:14
The Holy Spirit (; )
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.”John 15:26
The works of Jesus (; ; )
“But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John.For the works the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.” John 5:36
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe.The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me.”John 10:25
“Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.”John 14:11
The sacred Scripture (, 45-46)
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.”John 5:39
John the Baptist
“There came a man sent from God whose name was John.He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.” John 1:6-8
John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’” John 1:15
And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.”John 1:32
“And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”John 1:34
And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John 3:26
“You sent John, and he has borne witness to the truth.”John 5:33
Now, who is the seventh witness you might ask?It is ordinary people like you and me.Consider the Samaritan woman at the well as she ran back to testify about the Messiah.The commentary states thus:
Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world” (John 4:39-42).
The woman’s testimony was the bridge of belief for those in that town.But what about the man born blind?See him testifying before the Pharisees again and again of Him who alone can open the eyes of the man born blind (John 9:1-41).Finally, the Evangelist himself goes on record by concluding his gospel account by saying:
“This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.”John
The early church of course knew of the call to witness as early as Peter and John was before the Jerusalem Council in Acts 4.The pathos in the profession is compelling:
So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge,for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:18-20).
Christianity has for 2000 years been filled with the faithful and reliable of witnesses who, out of absolute necessity, could not stop speaking of what they have seen and heard—many of whom sang their songs of worship while the flames devoured their flesh.I take great comfort and encouragement from the words of Jesus when he told us, “And you will also bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning” (John ).We will also bear witness because the Spirit of Christ will not allow us to remain silent.The question for me, and I hope for all of us, is what have we seen and heard of Christ lately?What have we to tell?
Tom Wells, in his book A Vision for Missions, stated that “those who know the most about God are the most responsible and best equipped to tell of Him.”This reality is glorious and terrifying because what we know we should share with others, and when we don’t the more knowledge we attain and do nothing with, the more we will be held accountable for.When we drink deeply from the Fountain of Delights, the effulgent joy should bring an exuberant witness that can’t help but speak sweetly of Him who has satisfied us with none other than Himself.
I just wanted to encourage you today to think about these seven witnesses.We are that seventh witness.The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in a Triune testimony bear witness to Jesus Christ.The Scripture and the works of Jesus both testify to Jesus.John the Baptist Witness testified some 19 different occasions alone in this gospel account.Ordinary folks like an adulterous and a blind man have shown us the impact of a witness when someone commits to the truth with a public and unapologetic testimony.So when the record books are unfolded in eternity, I pray that we will have such a constraining that we too “cannot help but speak of what we have seen and heard.”
Brothers Caner and the Unassailable Doctrine of Omnibenevolence
When I read this last Friday, I simply could not believe the double standard and historical inaccuracies being purported by Ergun Caner.After several long weeks without any response, James White was able to communicate with the moderator as well as Caner concerning the upcoming debate this October.As you may already know, the debate thesis has been the following:
“Resolved: That God is an Omnibenevolent God to all of humanity through salvation and opportunity.”
Before I interact with some of the comments made by Caner, let me reiterate the folly of such a thesis.First, the brothers Caner are seeking to debate an undefined topic.Is there a definition objectively or universally understood? Now, as you find out in their recent email exchange, they changed their thesis from the aforementioned thesis to simply “the omnibenevolence of God”.So what exactly about the omnibenevolence of God do you want to debate?How vague, obtuse, and nondescript can one get?The Caners agreed to debate Calvinism.If that is the case, then why don’t they put a thesis out there that at least resembles the purpose of the debate rather than omnibenevolence?
Below are just a few points about what Ergun Caner recently said and my response to them:
Ergun said:You stated that the topic has been “demonstrated to be incoherent.” Actually, the moderator, who has won almost twenty national debate championships, has noted the topic was valid. The large number of encouraging e-mails we have received have seen this as coherent. Apparently the only people who imagine the topic as incoherent are those who simply do not want to debate God’s omnibenevolence. So, if you and your people do not want to debate, simply say so. We want to debate the topic. Just because you do not LIKE the topic does not mean it is invalid.
So simply because a champion debater agrees that the topic is good makes it valid?There have been many that have debated God’s omnibenevolence in the past.Do you know who they are?Atheists.One does not have to look far or Google much to find this to be the case.In all the philosophical and theological journals out there, I have found one, yes one article that deals with omnibenevolence.And do you know who wrote it?An Open Theist.Where?In a philosophical journal.There is a huge assumption with the Caners that the doctrine of omnibenevolence is valid—one that I believe will prove such when the evidence is laid out.
Ergun said:You continue to use man-made terms that you and those of your ilk want to revise (monergism and synergism, hyper Calvinism, etc.). You continue to prove our point-MOST evangelicals, including the millions who support Dr. Falwell, do not adhere to a 16th century movement , or 17th century Dortian parameters. We use biblical terms, in the biblical context.
Caner argues that monergism and synergism are man-made terms devised by Calvinists.Well, how about the word trinity?Monergism and synergism have substantial historical and theological backing having been addressed by both Arminians and Calvinists throughout church history.However, has omnibenevolence been addressed?Talking about a man-made term!“We use biblical terms in the biblical context.”Give me a break!If that is the case, then why build a three hour debate on a philosophical, synthesized construct?Why not just discuss the biblical passages such as John 6, Ephesians 1, or Romans 9?As a matter of fact, Dr. Caner has addressed Romans 9 and defends his eisogesis in spite of what the text says.He asserted, “The full biblical context of Esau, and others that you can cite, is clearly in OUR court.”Here is what Romans 9:10-13 says:
“And not only so, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac,though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”As it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’”
Now consider Caner’s explanation:
“Why did God hate Esau?Because of what Esau did.”
This statement is simply indefensible.Considering the illogical nature of Caner’s defense about Esau, how is one to understand his conviction that his thesis is a biblical term in a biblical context?Having seen how Dr. Caner addresses the Bible, it may be better for him to debate the philosophical construct of omnibenevolence than to deal with exegeting Scripture.
Ergun said: You e-mailed that Dr. Geisler had NOT adequately answered you, which either illustrates your lack of clarity or blind adherence to your philosophical system of Augustinian predeterminism.
It is said over and over that Calvinism is a man-made system either theologically constructed by Calvin (a la Frank Page) or a philosophical system developed by Augustine.If this charge is to hold weight, then Calvinism must be refuted with Scripture.Isn’t that what this debate is supposed to be about?Debating Calvinism?With Scripture?Here’s a great opportunity for Dr. Caner to prove that his argument attack is true.But why is resorting back to philosophy?Why avoid Scripture?Hmmm . . .
Ergun said: James, you claim that we do not understand doctrines? Well, if that is the case, we stand in the stream of the vast majority of evangelicals who will not accept your doctrines of reprobation. In truth, we clearly understand, and we do not buy into it. We refuse to be categorized as Calvinism or Arminianism, Augustinianism or Pelagianism. I am a biblicist and a Baptist.
This must be the new sound-byte for closet Arminians.I am not a Calvinist or Arminian.I am a Biblicist.What is a Biblicist then?One who believes the Bible and develops their doctrines from the Bible?Both Calvinists and Arminians do this.To simply say that one is a Biblicist is to stake a “purist” claim that one is above the “philosophical systems” of Calvinism and Arminianism, that is, to say that not only they don’t need it but are superior to it.Being Baptist is not in the same category of being Arminian or Calvinist, so I really don’t know where he is coming from here.However, one can clearly argue that the founding of the SBC was predominately by Calvinists (for example, take W.B. Johnson, P.H. Mell, James P. Boyce, Basil Manly Jr., John L. Dagg, B.H. Carroll, John A. Broadus, et al.).Here’s my advice to the closet Arminians who want to call themselves Baptist and Biblicists:If you can prove that you are not an Arminian by stating your doctrinal positions on soteriology, then I can assure you that no one will call you an Arminian.Baptists who are Reformed have no problem being called that dirty “C” word.The semantical play of “I know you are but what am I” is good for ambiguity, but there comes a time where, if you don’t want to be defined by others, you must define yourself and your theological construct/conceptual framework.
Ergun said: Until then, I shall just smile, every time I receive some e-mail. Every single e-mail proves our point. Neo-Calvinists cannot answer our points, so you attack us. Classic ad hominem. If our system of theology has brought disrepute to Christian theology, because we do not believe in neo-Calvinism, then we will gladly stand in that stream. From Norman Geisler and C.S. Lewis all the way back, we have church history, and logical biblical thought on our side.
Dr. Caner argued that “Neo-Calvinists” cannot answer his points, so we attack them.Do you see the hypocrisy here?Neo-Calvinists.Why not just call us “hyper-Calvinists” or “super-duper Calvinists”?Any other title works I guess.The Caners did this very same thing on the notorious thread on Tom Ascol’s blog where dozens of folks answered their questions but not to their liking.Here’s what I said in reply:
I am beginning to think that the reason why the Caners' are saying that "the Founder boys" are not answering their questions is because we are not giving them the answers they are looking for. They are playing the tactic, "You have not YET answered any of our questions" as an equivocation to "You are not giving us the answer we want to hear."They want to control the conversation by intimidation, rhetoric, delay, and bait-n-switch tactics. The only thing they have yet to due is speak the truth - which unfortunately doesn't seem like is going to happen.The only explanation left to be shared is silence.
If one looks at the comments to the Ascol’s post, you will find that the Caners can teach us a lesson or two in ad hominem attacks.For example, consider the following:
Have any of you done ANYTHING accept kill your churches with sermons expounding the Westminster Confession?
I would guess that, unlike William Carey, most guys who are hyper about Calvinism use it to justify your laziness.
I BEG of you- PLEASE bring another name to the floor of the SBC. I would be thrilled to watch that person go down in flames, as we enjoy another conservative who has not adopted semi-Presbyterianism. On the positive side, you can always just "punt" and say it was predestined for you to lose.
I do not think of five-pointers as liberals. I will, however, state firmly: Five-point Calvinism is a VIRUS. It saps the evangelism of every church it infects.
The only thing you have in common is what I call the BARNACLE PRINCIPLE- charismatics and calvinists creep into vibrant churches and attach themselves. They do not grow their own movements- they attach themselves to others.
Calvinism has NEVER grown a church. You get transfers, and grow numerically sometimes, but it always peters out, because the people you GET were the people we wanted to get rid of!
NO. Calvinism (5 point) is a Scholastic Theological system. We will NOT let you bogart the term "Gospel." Especially since the five-point system of Beza (don't blame Calvin) is not "good news." It is only good news to those who happen to be in the club.
Do I see as synonymous 5-point Calvinism (supralapsarian) and "Hyper-Calvinism?"
OF COURSE I DO.
In the end- we will NOT go away, and neither will you! That is what makes this discussion good. We have hurdles to leap, and so do you- You guys are mules- you make much noise, but cannot reproduce.
Like the last ad hominem?
No, Dr. Caner, I did not like that ad hominem, but given that you feel like you have the license to say such, then I felt as thought I have the license to post this directly under your statement that all Calvinists do is avoid questions and throw ad hominem attacks.Addressing someone’s statements or critiquing someone’s position is not an attack.Name-calling, lying, slandering for the purpose of insulting or demeaning, this is ad hominem.
“From Norm Geisler and C.S. Lewis and all the way back, we have church history, and logical biblical thought on our side.”I am looking forward to hearing about this.I love church history and try to be a decent student of it.I also love the Bible and try to think logically through it.However, I am not a Calvinist because of history or logic.I am a Calvinist because of the Bible and because of its God-centered focus in salvation and the glory to follow.
Of course, there is much more which could be said about all these points and others which I chose not to address.You have seen the thesis and its basis.You have seen the avoidance of Scripture, the ad hominem attacks, the false labeling, the double standards, the blanket generalizations and assumptions, and uncritical and unfair reference to Calvinism.And all this you have heard from a seminary dean I might add.As Christians who should respect one another and treat each other fairly, why does it have to go to the gutters?Whether you call yourself the intellectual pit bull of evangelical Christianity or not, this is not the way to go about dealing with a debate.We need good, healthy debate in our evangelical world today, and it can be done.But as long as act as middle-schoolers in the cafeteria, people will continue to loathe debates and think less of those who do.
In the meantime, I am going to continue to post my research on omnibenevolence.In case you want to know where I am going with this, here is my four part outline:
Preliminary Considerations (laying the framework/foundation)
I found this unposted pic in my April archives. Most of my Louisville cityscapes comes late at night with long exposure (usually at least a minute long). I liked this pic as the electric blue sky came out right after the sun had set. This is usually my favorite time of the day to shoot downtown. More and more people are joining the Friday Photo Community which is great. If you are on board and I don't have you linked, please let me know. Also on the Friday menu is some poetry and history. This Fridafolio really has some potential. :)
For the past six months, one of the greatest joys for me has been to get to know Jason Meyer.Having first met Jason at UPS, we talked about his doctoral dissertation and had a great conversation about the continuity/discontinuity of the old and new covenant.Since then we have met almost weekly for breakfast after work once a week to prayer and encourage one another in our passion to glorify Jesus in our lives, marriages, ministries, and work.
Two weeks ago, Jason went to Louisiana College upon invitation concerning a position on the faculty.I had the privilege of preaching for the past two Sunday’s at the church which Jason has pastored for the past three years.He notified me last week that he has accepted the position at LouisianaCollege and will be leaving in August.Jason will be teaching New Testament and Greek his first semester while revising his dissertation in the meantime.I know that LC knows this by know, but they are getting a gift in this man and his family.More than a great student, scholar, and professor, Jason is a humble man whose obscure service in the shadowlands of anonymity has made indelible impressions on young ministers like me concerning faithfulness in ministry and godliness in character.
I must say that his leaving Louisville is bitter sweet for me because I feel like our friendship has just begun, but as we both have agreed, we have resolved to continue what the Lord has begun in our friendship.Having heard Jason speak of LC, I cannot be more excited for him.This school in recent years has undergone a radical reformation in bringing the school under a confessional, conservative orthodoxy through courageous and godly leaders.Two leaders which have really impressed Jason are Dr. Joe Aguillard, the President of LC, and Dr. Charles Quarles, VP of Integration of Faith and Learning and Chair of the Division of Religious Studies.What I have compelling is that I have heard from several sources outside Jason about the incredible leadership and passion of these two men.Let me encourage you to read the “Identity and Mission of Louisiana College” by Dr. Aguillard as he expresses the direction and distinctives of LC through John 14:6 – the way, the truth, and the life.Dr. Quarles, in his commentary on John 18:33, addresses the question made by Pilate when he asked, “What is truth?”Quarles writes:
My question to all of us here at LouisianaCollege is this: who will be the God of our ideologies and what will be the book to which we make our appeal for the ultimate questions in life? Who will be the God and what will be the book that will determine your worldview? In a sense both our mission and our doctrinal standard answer that question for us, for our mission is offer “an educational program grounded in the liberal arts tradition, informed by the Christian faith, and committed to academic excellence.” We are to offer an education “informed by the Christian faith.” The Christian faith looks to Jesus Christ and the Christian Scriptures for truth. Who will be the God and what will be the book that defines our ideologies? Jesus and the Bible. Jesus is our most valuable professor and the Bible is our most valuable textbook. Other people may instruct us and other books may inform us but the claims of all other people and all other books are trumped by the claims of Christ and His Word.
Having benefited from a solid, private, undergraduate college and impacted by a few professors there, I have no doubt that God will use Jason to make a huge impact in LC.It was in those years when I was in college that my theological framework began to be established, my first real exposure to international missions took place, and a passion to know God was nurtured.While many of our state schools are liberal and fickle on Scripture and biblical fidelity, I am grateful for schools like Union, UM, LC which are not just exceptions but exceptional.Having men of the caliber like Jason will prove to enhance the excellent work being done at LC as well as change the lives of students both in and out of the classroom.I have truly been blessed to have such friend and mentor as Jason and pray that the Lord continues to use him to call thousands of students to humbly display the greatness God and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in Louisiana and around the world.
Get thy heart into a panting and breathing frame; long, sigh, cry out.
- John Owen in Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
- Jonathan Edwards, Resolution no. 6 (1722)
Over the past year I have been asked by several people why my blog is called “Provocations and Pantings.”In March of 2005, I started this blog not having any idea what a blog was.Naming my blog wasn’t something I spend a lot of time trying to come up with, but for some reason Provocations and Pantings came to my mind.I will answer the “Pantings” part in this post, and I will explain the “Provocations” part in a follow up post.
It is rare when someone refers to my blog that they get the “pantings” part right.I have seen everything from “paintings” to “panties.”According to Merriam Webster, to “pant” means to “long eagerly or yearn.”The point behind this whole idea is that I write from the heart.Anyone who knows me knows that I am a passionate person in whatever I do, including in what and how I write.As a mentor prayed one time, he asked that “our affections would rise to level of our affirmations.”This is a constant cry for me.The truths I have believed about the excellencies of Jesus Christ, the glory of God, the marvelous mercy and grace which I have received deserve nothing less than the utmost of my affections—and them alone.When I think about the cries of David in the Psalms, the singular pursuit of Paul, and ultimately the death of my Savior and His passion for the Father’s will and the redemption of sinners, I see that Christianity thrives among a panting people.Of course, this does not come with a harnessing of such passion by the Holy Spirit and His control in our lives, for often we can find ourselves with the confession of on our lips, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” only to shortly thereafter be on the receiving end of a rebuke, “Get behind me Satan!”In this vapor called life, I want to daily be set into a panting frame in which I am continually drawn into deeper love and communion with God and amazement of what He has done for me through the cross of Jesus Christ in which I exult.
Maybe the best thing for me to do is to share some verses and conclude with a quote from J.C. Ryle which profoundly impacted my life early in my studies.It is my prayer and earnest desire to spend and be spent for my Savior in the display of his glory, his beauty, and his gospel truths so that my world can taste and see that indeed He is good.
One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,serve the Lord.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.
2 Corinthians 12:15
I beseech you to hold fast your zeal, and never let it go. I beseech you never to go back from your first works, never to leave your first love, never to let it be said of you that your first things were better than your last. Beware of cooling down. You have only to be lazy, and to sit still, and you will soon lose all your warmth. You sill soon become another man from what you are now. Oh, do not think this is a needless exhortation!
It may be very true that wise young believers are very rare. But it is no less true that zealous old believers are very, very rare also. Never allow yourself to think that you can do too much, that you can spend and be spent too much for Christ’s cause. For one man that does too much I will show you a thousand who do not do enough. Rather think that “the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4), and give, collect, teach, visit, work, pray, as if you were doing it for the last time. Lay to heart the words of that noble-minded Jansenist, who said, when told that he ought to rest a little, “What should we rest for? Have we not all eternity to rest in?”
Fear not the reproach of men. Faint not because you are sometimes abused. Heed it not if you are sometimes called bigot, enthusiast, fanatic, madman, and fool. There is nothing disgraceful in these titles. They have often been given to the best and wisest of men. If you are only to be zealous when you are praised for it, if the wheels of your zeal must be oiled by the world’s commendation, [then] your zeal will be but short-lived. Care not for the praise or frown of man. There is but one thing worth caring for, and that is the praise of God. There is but one question worth asking about our actions: “How will they look in the day of judgment?”
- J.C. Ryle in Practical Religion, 208-09.
Confusing and Annoying: The Art of Pointing Fingers in Making a Point - Sort Of
There has been a flurry of articles (I mind you not blogs because blogs are of the devil) of late that have left me scratching my head. Does it every bother you when you hear people make blanket charges and don't validate or substantiate their charges? We have heard this sort of thing before when the whole "Hypercalvinists are destroying our Convention" in all these lovely white papers and sermons without giving definition or providing explanation. What befuddles me all the more is the implicit attitude that bloggers are biased, illegitimate sources of information not worthy of being read by the larger public while I have read "scholarly" papers from professors and "journalistic" articles from state papers that are incredibly suspect. Let me explain:
The first article came from Dr. Danny Akin. In particular I want to draw your attention to the close of his article where he says the following:
Not Forgetting Our HeroesFinally, I shared at our meeting that I will not allow a new generation of Southern Baptist to forget our heroes. We today stand on the shoulders of giants like Boyce and Broadus, Carroll and Truett. More recently it is Criswell and Rogers, Vines and Draper, Smith and Elliff, Pressler and Patterson. For some reason there are today those who want to attack and malign some of these men, question their motives and actions. Are these men perfect? No. Are they good godly men who love Jesus, the Bible, the lost and our Convention? Yes!I often remind our students, and myself, that it is never right to do even the right thing in the wrong way. Some of those throwing grenades at these heroes of faith would be well served to think on this. The intemperate nature of their rhetoric is too often shameful and dishonoring to the Christ they serve. Any truth in their diatribes is lost in the bitterness and sarcasm that flows from their keyboard. (emphasis mine)
In my initial response which I made on the Founders' Blog, I said, "I have to assume that he is either talking about students at Southeastern or bloggers he reads on the Internet. My guess is the latter. If this is the case, then who and what is he exactly referring to? Who are those 'throwing grenades at the heroes of our faith?' That's a pretty serious charge to make. Of course, his warning and admonition is well received in that it should remind us that none of what we enjoy as conservative Southern Baptists would be possible if it weren't for the Founders like Boyce and Broadus and for the Resurgence from men like Patterson and Pressler. If anything, I see this younger generation more interested, more passionate, more concerned about the SBC than the elder generation was at large. Are there points where there is legitimate disagreement? Yes. Are there times where that disagreement is publicly expressed in a poor manner? Yes. Does this mean that we should not express our concerns and thoughts in a public forum or medium such as blogs? No."
Now after doing a little more reading, it could be that he is referring to one person or possible a couple of people. But my point is, "Who knows?" Who is "they?" I just don't understand that such strong words from such an influential person in the SBC can be so vague and nondescript. I am not asking for name calling, but at least when making such statements some specificity would be helpful.
Now the second article (which comes in a series from Florida Baptist Witness). Jeremy Green wrote an editorial piece called "'Young Leaders,' Follow Example of Past SBC Leadership" in which he said the following:
However, there appears to be a mindset among some “younger leaders” today that they are entitled to, or can demand, a position of leadership within our convention. Some may be infatuated with the ideas of holding office, receiving recognition from others, and climbing the denominational ladder. After all, how does one have time for sermon preparation with all of the new requirements for “younger leaders,” such as networking and web logging? Younger leaders are especially susceptible to a revolutionary mentality — one that is on a mission for change. Change is both good and necessary when appropriate. Nevertheless, this mentality sometimes results in a desire to change anything and everything for the sole sake of change itself – leading a rebel without a cause.
Furthermore, the manner in which some “younger leaders” are seeking to bring about change, make names for themselves, and assume their “rightful” leadership roles is disturbing: childish attempts to get one’s own way and to force one’s own voice to be heard no matter who it hurts and how it reflects on the SBC.
Again, there is this idea that this guys has the inside scoop on the secret agendas of "some" young leaders? How so? If this guy can go on record and call "some younger leaders" childish and "rebels without a cause," the least he can do is do some good journalism and get some facts. Anybody can say anything about anybody and make print? Where's the verification and vetting of some sources? Could it be that his only source is his imagination? Who are the ones demanding a position in leadership or holding an office? All this vague and ambiguous talk is worse than anything I have read in the blogosphere. Sure, it may be an editorial - but it is not good editorial.
I realize that there has been quite a swell of interest after Greensboro about who these SBC bloggers and "young leaders" are and why they feel and write as they do. Over the past year, I have had the privilege of reading many of their blogs (not web logging Mr. Green) on almost a daily basis. Have there been articles written that probably shouldn't have been posted? Maybe. Could things at times been said in a different way? Sure. But these are brothers and sisters in Christ and fellow SBCers who do not have a chip on their shoulder, on a power kick, or simply want to rant. They are making good points, some bad points, but whether you fall in agreement or disagreement, it does not give anyone the license to make charges that are either coded for the insiders or blindly made. We are called to responsible writing and should seek to be credible, reliable, and trustworthy in what we say. Grenades are going off from both sides; unfortunately, we are not the enemy and neither are they.
More than a Blog . . . and the Blessings of Friendship
“and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.”
Over the past couple of months, I have had the privilege of meeting several bloggers here in Louisville.Of course, the highlight was the Band of Bloggers Fellowship where I was able the shake the hands and hug the necks of many men with whom I have a kindred spirit and God-centered passion.However, since then I have been able to continue to meet many bloggers either in passing or intentionally.For instance, it has been a joy for me to be able to meet bloggers who are new students at Boyce and Southern via P&P.In addition to new friends, I have become reacquainted with some old friends from college days at the University of Mobile.
If you are a blogger and coming to Louisville for a visit or planning on attending Boyce or Southern, feel free to drop me an email at gospelcentral [at] yahoo [dot] com as I would love to take you out for breakfast or lunch.Tonight, I had the privilege of having dinner with one such blogger – Steve Weaver.Steve is in Louisville this week while taking a class on Baptist Theologians with Dr. Michael Haykin.We enjoyed some good fellowship and BBQ at Smokey Bones.If you are a pastor, let me encourage you to check out Steve’s blog as he has provided many of his expository sermons in print.Interestingly enough, Steve’s brother and father blogs as well.Ain’t that somethin’?
Another blogger new to Louisville I have enjoyed getting to know is Kelly Bridenstine.Kelly not only is starting here at Southern but also works 3rd shift with me at UPS.I have been greatly encouraged by our edifying conversation and warm-hearted fellowship.And although he is not new to Louisville, my friendship with Kenan Plunk is relatively new.Funny thing is we first met while working in the nursery at our church trying to control a room full of three year olds.Now we do this at least once a month together.
Why do I take the time to mention this?Well, there are some people who think that bloggers don’t have a life outside the blogosphere, that we don’t have real community and real relationships.It is a misconception to assume that bloggers don’t do anything but blog when the only exposure you have of them is when you come across them on your computer screen.I find it utterly ironic, however, that none of these relationships I have these brothers would have existed had it not been for blogging.God, in his providence, has used P&P and other blogs to direct me to godly men with whom I have experienced some great fellowship.I think I can speak for most bloggers by saying that we do not believe that we need to vindicate our social lives and ministries within our churches and our world by giving commentary about who we are and what we do.I for one don’t want to promote myself like an Annual Church Profile after a person’s nomination.It is not about me/us; it is about Jesus and His Church and His truth.So when God uses us outside our blogs to win people to Jesus or to encourage a struggling Christian or ministering to someone in need, be it known that God sees in secret and rewards in secret.In the meantime, I am going to continue to enjoy the blessings God has provided through relationships established and growing because of blogging—relationships that include some great BBQ with great guys like Steve Weaver.
“If civil freedom is so precious and is to be maintained, how much more is spiritual freedom, the freedom wherewith Christ make a man free!A freedom dearly purchased by the blood of Christ!We esteem our civil freedom the better as we remember that it cost so much of the blood of our ancestors to obtain it.It would be baseness in us to be careless of that which cost them their blood.How much more then should we esteem our freedom which was purchased by the precious blood of Christ!You are redeemed, not by silver and gold, but by the blood of Christ, says the apostle.Our freedom is dearly bought, mercifully revealed, freely bestowed, and fully conveyed to us by the Spirit of Christ.We have many and great reasons therefore for maintaining it, and for keeping ourselves clear of the yoke of bondage” (219).
“Maintain your Christian liberty against men, as well as against the law.That liberty is a precious jewel and we must suffer none to rob us of it.Let us never surrender our judgments or our consciences to be at the disposal and opinions of others, and to be subjected to the sentences and determinations of men.We must allow neither power nor policy, neither force nor fraud, to rob us of it” (220-21).
“We must never give up ourselves to the opinions of other men, though they be never so learned, never so holy, merely because it is their opinion.The apostle directs us to try all things and to hold fast that which is good (1 Thess. ).It often happens that a high esteem of others in respect of their learning and piety makes men take up all upon trust from such, and to submit their judgments to their opinions, and their consciences to their precepts.This should not be so.Men will suspect a truth if a liar affirms it” (221).
This is but one reason why I have such a profound sense of indebtedness to the Puritans and find their writings to have such relevance today!
Mark Lauterbach (Gospel Driven Life) has recently completed a series of posts timely fashioned during the big discussion of legalism, license, and Christian liberty. Here are his five posts in the series:
I first met Mark at the T4G Band of Bloggers fellowship and have really gleaned a lot of wisdom from him since then. I encourage you to check out his blog on a regular basis for some really solid, God-centered blogging.
HT :: JT
I was also led in my thoughts to a Puritan Paperback called The True Bounds of Christian Freedom by Samuel Bolton. I have not had the time to plunge into this book yet, but I hope to in the near future (the last subsections in his book are entitled "The Duty of the Believer to Maintain Christian Liberty" and "The Duty of the Believer not to Abuse Christian Liberty"). During 17th century English Puritanism, there were real issues that needed to be addressed such as antinomianism, nonconformity, dissent, and the sufficiency of Scripture (in light of the Book of Common Prayer). There is much I would like to expound here as the Puritans were masters in dealing with the Christian conscience. This morning I re-read a chapter in The Reformation of the Church: A Collection of Reformed and Puritan Documents on Church Issues called "The Grounds of Nonconformity of the Ministers who were Ejected" by Edmund Calamy. Furthermore, I came across a book in the bookstore on campus called A Geneology of Dissent: Southern Baptist Protest in the Twentieth Century by David Stricklin. As one will quickly see, dissent is nothing new in the SBC nor in church history.
Finally, let me provide you with some books by the Puritans on the matter of the conscience:
William Ames - Conscience with the Power and Cases Thereof
Richard Baxter - A Christian Directory, or A Sum of Practical Theology, and Cases of Conscience
William Fenner - A Treatise of Conscience
John Owen - The True Nature of a Gospel Church
Other Puritans to consider: Richard Sibbes, John Bunyan, William Perkins, and Thomas Goodwin.
This morning I have spent a considerable amount of time reading, researching and rehashing some of my Puritan notes from this past semester. Since I have written on the SBC a lot lately, I thought I'd change the programming a bit. (I have at least three more articles, however, concerning the SBC and will probably post them shortly.) As some of you know, I have been posting a series called "Addressing Omnibenevolence." I am sharing some of my research on the topic of omnibenevolence, the central thesis of Ergun and Emir Caner's debate with James White and Tom Ascol. I have scheduled at least 15 more posts on this series, including how it relates to hyper-Calvinism, Universalism, Pluralism, Hell, Intent of the Atonement, Open Theism, Anthropopathism, and a few other issues. Hopefully, I will be able to blog a couple more series before the summer is over.
One of the encouraging things I have noticed over the past year of blogging is the number of professors who have joined the blogosphere. This is encouraging because I know that in the minds of some professors the blogosphere is an unacceptable medium for communication as it does not carry the legitimacy of a theological journal or academic paper. However, those who have realized what blogging can offer are reaping the benefits of it with more students and readers than they could ever imagine from a classroom setting. While I disagree with some of these professors on many points, I applaud their efforts to bring academia where it should be--among the masses.
Although I have searched the blogosphere carefully to find evangelical professors, I know that I have left out some. If you know of one I missed, please include the name and blog in the comment section. Here are the blogging professors I have rounded up thus far:
Scot McKnight – Jesus CreedReligious Studies @ North Park University
After having looked at this list, my questions is, "Where are all the Southern Seminary profs?!" Toronto Baptist Seminary is leading the pack with three, and SEBTS and SWBTS have two respectively. Now, before SBTS gets a bad rap, let me be quick to mention that we do have what is called the SBTS metablog which currently has 80 blogs by students affiliated with Southern. Maybe we can start to rub off on our profs. Maybe not.
Last Updated: 07.12.06