Friday, October 12, 2007

A Very Odd Rebuttal

According to the Reformed Covenanter, E. Calvin Beisner wrote:
Original Arminianism affirmed that Christ died as a substitute to pay for the sins of all people. The Federal Visionists will affirm that Christ died to pay the penalty for the sins of all in “the covenant”, including some who will end up in hell. One’s “election” ultimately depends on whether he is “faithful” to “the covenant”, and one can be “justified” and wind up in hell through apostasy. Foreword to G.P. Waters, The Federal Vision and Covenant Theology, Presbyterian and Reformed, p. viii
In response, Doug Wilson wrote:
As I have pointed out elsewhere, this new "Arminianism" holds to God's exhaustive sovereignty over all things, and teaches absolute predestination and maintains that the number of the decretally elect cannot be increased or diminished. If this is Arminianism, then maybe Arminianism is Calvinistic . . . or something. But that is just by the way, a topic for another time.
This is a very odd rebuttal. The accusation is: you teach that Christ's death is partially ineffective, the response is discussion of other issues. What's worse, a Molinist like William Lane Craig would probably be willing to describe his own views as teachings of "absolute predestination and [the position] that the number of the decretally elect cannot be increased or diminished." In other words, it appears that Mr. Wilson either did not read the actual objection, does not understand the historical Calvinism/Arminianism issues, or simply does not take the matter seriously.

Regardless of the explanation, it's very odd.

-Turretinfan

15 comments:

Albert said...

Hi Turretin Fan. I am not an American so I am not really familiar with the events that followed the FV controversy. My question: What measures have the Reformed denominations done to counter this heresy? Thanks.

God bless you in your debate with the "sola eclessia" advocate, "orthodox." :)

Turretinfan said...

Two of the larger relatively "conservative" Reformed denominations have issued public statements of some sort or other in opposition.

I'm not aware of the activity of the many smaller Reformed denominations, and I don't think the issue would particularly matter to the largest (PCUSA, CRC), as they sadly don't seem intensely focused on doctrinal purity these days.

Meanwhile, though, some churches affiliated with Doug Wilson seem to have formed a sort of quasi-presbytery that may one day constitute a new "Reformed" denomination.

The interesting thing here is that both sides claim to represent the historic position, and there is a sound argument to be made that at least some (DW being an example) simple are unable to appreciate the doctrinal nuances involved.

Incidentally, ECB's criticism may be overstated (I sure hope it is overstated), but the failure of DW to meaningfully respond is scary.

-Turretinfan

EgoMakarios said...

The whole strawman argument of claiming that someone teaches "that Christ's death is partially ineffective," is disproven by the very plain Scripture, Isaiah 55:11, "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." Although speaking of the word not the cross, the principle is clear. The cross is just as effective on the unsaved as it is on the saved, although it effects something else in them.

Turretinfan said...

EM:

That passage does defeat the ineffective atonement position.

Let's see if it is a straw man: was Christ's purpose in coming to the world and dying to save "each and every person" or not?

If so, did/will Christ accomplish that purpose?

Those are yes/no answers.

If you answer "no" to the first one, please tell us for whom Christ died.

-Turretinfan

Turretinfan said...

EM:

I'll summarize your comments:

Answer 1: No.

Answer 2: Moot, answer to (1) was no.

Answer 3: Christ's purpose was to make salvation universally possible.

I'd rather not post your argument, when I just asked a simple question. Is my summary above a fair characterization of the answer portion of your comment?

If your answer "yes," then I have a follow-up question. If your answer is "no" - I'll ask you to explain your position to me, so I can understand it.

-Turretinfan

Turretinfan said...

Incidentally, thanks EM, for your comments on the debate blog. They have been archived for later. If you think of additional comments/ questions, feel free to leave them at any time.

-Turretinfan

EgoMakarios said...

"Let's see if it is a straw man: was Christ's purpose in coming to the world and dying to save 'each and every person' or not?" As an actual fact rather than as an offer? No. I hope that's short enough for you.

Turretinfan said...

A "no" would have been fine, but ok.

And does offering of salvation to people itself save anyone, or can people choose whether or not to accept the offer?

I think your answer is "no, it does not itself save anyone, people have to choose."

Is that a fair characterization or am I straw-manning you?

-Turretinfan

EgoMakarios said...

I'd say it's fair.

GeneMBridges said...

Our Campbellite friend simply does not understand the Reformed view of the atonement.

The reason particular atonement is effacious is that it does two things:

1. When applied to the believer by the Holy Spirit, it serves to, in a negative sense, blot out their transgressions. Meanwhile, in a positive sense, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to them - a benefit that comes by way of the cross as well.

2. It also sets up a covenantal obligation within the Godhead. The "prize" for Christ is not simply His people, but the application of the benefits of redemption to those people. This is a product of His Vindication. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son and must infallibly apply the benefits of redemption secured by the cross to them, or else God has failed Himself. Because of this, the atonement's efficacy is intrinsic.

3. General Atonement, because it requires saving faith to actualize any specifically redemptive benefits for the individual, therefore has no intrinsic efficacy. It's value lies in the person who, by saving faith, "actualizes" its efficacy. Until then, it's efficacy is, at best, hypothetical. At most it "makes men savable" or makes their salvation "possible." Substitutionary Atonement itself is a holdover from Reformed theolog - The Arminians therefore generally prefer the Moral Government Theory.

It would, therefore help our friend here if he would acquaint himself with the opposing position. We are well acquainted with his.

I'd also add that General Atonement makes God look foolish. Why would God, knowing infallibly who would believe and who would not, design the atonement generally? Wouldn't it make better sense to design it for the elect alone, even if election finds its grounding in foreseen faith?

What's happening here is evident: the General Redemptionist is making the atonement a warrant to believe, but where is the supporting argument for that move? This is no different than Hyper-Calvinism which does the same thing with a subjective sense of election.

EgoMakarios said...

Gene You say that your Calvinist view of atonement as automatic salvation for whoever Jesus particularly died for is different from the view that says Jesus died for everyone but only those who accept his sacrifice are saved, in the the following ways: (1) The Holy Spirit has to apply it to the individual (2) It sets up a covenantal obligation within the Godhead, and (3) that General Atonement has no real efficacy because faith is required.

Interesting analysis, especially since faith is required either way, and a covenantal obligation is generated by Christ's death either way, and the Holy Spirit must apply it either way. The gospel is simple. We sinned and would be damned. Jesus died to provide remission of those sins. A covenantal obligation is generated thereby in that God has promised he will save those who by faith receive that sacrifice of Christ by being baptized into Christ as believers, and has promised that the Holy Spirit will apply that sacrifice of Christ to them therein. (Col 2:12, Acts 2:38-39) The gospel, you'll recall, was given to fishermen to teach, not to rocket scientists and Platonic philosophers. Calvinism makes it much more complicated that its supposed to be. And as to the foolishness of "general atonement," God has chosen foolish things to confound the wise. But more particularly he wants to show his love for ALL MANKIND, as John 3:16 makes plain. He would save everyone if everyone would beleive. Therefore, God has provided for all, because he loves all, and man therefore must either accept or reject God's provision. God is as a hen gathering his chicks. Some chicks may not come, yet he has provided the food for all of them because he loves them all.

Turretinfan said...

I tire of this "fisherman" argument. Peter and his brother were fisherman. Sure. But Luke was a physician, Matthew was a publican, and Paul was essentially a Rabbi (having studied at the feet of Gamaliel) and quoted Greek philosophy.

And who were inspired to write the bulk of the NT?

-Turretinfan

TheoJunkie said...

I tire of the bastardization of John 3:16... to the ignorance not only of John 3:18 and John 3:20, but even the term "believe" within verse 16 itself.

God may very well have loved the whole world, but the reason he sent his only son is so that whoever believes should live... and NOT so that the whole world should live. And He sent Him not so that somebody "could maybe" live... but that those who believe SHOULD.

EgoMakarios said...

Although Paul studied Greek philosophy, he says he did not use enticing words of man's wisdom, which means he checked his philosophy at the door. He didn't use philosophy to make the gospel complicated. Yeah, he quoted a poet on Mars hill and the "all Cretians are liars" quote, but by neither of them did he complicate the gospel.

Turretinfan said...

EM:

Peter's review of Paul's writing was not: "it's simple and easy to understand."

-Turretinfan