Saturday, October 27, 2007

Aside from the Celebrity Aspect ...

... what's wrong with this:

"Take a few minutes and write a note to Britney Spears," pastor John Weece
said in a sermon and in a blog on the church Web site. "No preaching. No
criticizing. Just love. As a church, let's love Britney the way Jesus loves



Jesus has a lot of love for his people.

Nevertheless, the way Jesus expressed that love during his earthly ministry was by preaching and criticizing! To wit, Jesus preached Repent and Believe for the kingdom of God is at hand!

Mark 1:14-15
14Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Matthew 3:1-2
1In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Mathew 3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
[John is cast into prison]
Matthew 4:12-17
12Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; 13And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 14That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 15The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. 17From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

The Light of the Gospel exposes sin: proclaim the gospel!

And Ms. Spears, if you happen to read, that means that these dear people should be loving you by explaining to you that you should enjoy the good things that God has made, in moderation. Yet more importantly, thank God, praise him for his blessings, for life is short, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Join the king, or be crushed at his return. All your wealth will be worth nothing, for there is only one lawyer that can represent you before God, if you don't have Him you'll lose, and he cannot be bought: Christ Jesus, the mediator between God and man.

Turn to him, for no one will be ashamed who does.


Response to Dave's "Debate/Informal Discussion" Offer

I) Whereas at sundry times, mostly recently,

1) Dave Wrote: "Tyhe debate ain't about justification, but about why anti-Catholics think Catholicism ain't Christian." (all errors/irregularities in original)

[But of course the issue of justification is central to Christianity proper.]

2) And again: "I will resist all attempts to pigeonhole this into yet another Reformed preaching crusade, whether it be focused on TULIP or sola fide or anything else. This is about why y'all claim that Catholicism as a system theology does not deserve to be classified as Christian." (all errors/irregularities in original)

[But of course sola fide is a core Christian doctrine of justification.]

3) And again: "I couldn't care less about all the formal nonsense of how to set up a debate. It's just an informal discussion (I think, between Christians who have an honest disgareement; you think, between a Christian and an infidel / apostate). My opponent gets to grill me for 90 minutes. I grill him for 60."(all errors/irregularities in original)

[Although I had been led by the previous title to suppose that I had been challenged to a debate, not to an informal discussion.]

4) And likewise: "Technically speaking, the debate won't be directly about doctrine, but about the definition of "Christian" and why "Catholicism" supposedly is excluded from that category. Doctrine will surely be discussed as a part of that large discussion, but no particular doctrine would be the main thing in focus, or to be debated. But, of course, whoever I debate will try to talk about doctrines, because that is what Protestants almost always do. They get inside the self-contained circle of their own thought and fire away, never dreaming that there might be something outside the circle that is also Christian." (all errors/irregularities in original)

[But of course it is doctrine, namely the Gospel, that defines Christianity.]

II) And whereas, as best understood, the following will, in essence, be Dave's argument:

1) To wit, first:
The contradiction, however, lies in the assertion that great men of the past "agreed with Rome on almost everything" yet were still somehow Christians. Today, the standard anti-Catholic line is that in order to be a good Christian, a man has to be a bad Catholic; i.e., dissent on any number of doctrines that Protestants don't like. If I am a good Christian, then I can't possibly believe all that Rome teaches, or I am no Christian at all. And those who are regarded by these same folks as likely or possibly Christians who are Catholic are invariably the ones who dissent and don't fully accept Catholic doctrine, because it is thought that the Council of Trent anathematized the gospel and defined Catholicism (as a theological system) out of Christianity.

(all errors/irregularities in original)
2) And, to wit, second:
Or, of course, people like Martin Luther (due to his beliefs in the Real Presence and baptismal regeneration), John Wesley, C.S. Lewis, and entire denominations such as Methodists, Anglicans, Lutherans, Churches of Christ, various Pentecostal groups, and the Salvation Army can be read out of the Christian faith due to their "unorthodoxy," as defined by the self-proclaimed "mainstream" evangelicals such as Baptists, Presbyterians and Reformed (even so the last two groups baptize infants, although they vehemently deny that this causes regeneration, whereas Baptists don't). Since most Protestants are unwilling to anathematize other Protestants, perspicuity dissolves into a boiling cauldron of incomprehensible contradictions, and as such, must be discarded or at the very least seriously reformulated in order to harmonize with the Bible and logic.

(all errors/irregularities in original)
III) And whereas I have carefully reviewed Dave's web site the best that I can, and I have not seen any definition of Christianity in anything close to explicit terms,

IV) And whereas Dave asserts contrary to many Roman Catholics that Scripture does not have equal (link) or lesser (link) but instead (like a Protestant) asserts that Scripture has greater authority;

V) And whereas Dave asserts
(like a Protestant) contrary to many Roman Catholics that salvation is sola gratia (link);

VI) And whereas Dave asserts
(like a Protestant would about the God whom Protestants worship) contrary to many Roman Catholics that Muslims do not worship the same god as Roman Catholics (link) (or CCC 841);


1) If it's not to be a debate, I guess I have not been challenged to a debate;

2) If the point is to be able to label me as an "anti-Catholic" the debate is pretextual;

3) Any debate on the Christianity (proper) of Catholicism must involve a discussion of the specific doctrinal reasons for excluding Catholicism from Christianity;

4) The Gospel is summarized by: Repent and Believe and Trust in Christ, or Perish for Your Sins!

5) Dave has never, to this author's knowledge defined Christianity to the exclusion of other religions;

6) Dave's apparent line of argument would attempt to refocus the debate away from the central issue to a claim of hypocrisy;

7) Dave's defense would not be a defense of Roman Catholic dogma but a Protestantized version thereof (especially considering Dave's apparently anti-Tridentine acceptance of Reformed Christians as Christians rather than as anathema),


I ask the reader to judge, what would be the point of the debate at this time?

Trent already anathematized (literally, not figuratively) sola-fideans, and sola fide is the Gospel. Can Dave argue with that now?

Does Dave now have a definition of Christianity that would include those anathematized by Rome?

Why doesn't Dave now agree with many Roman Catholic on issues that would be core to any debate?

My conclusion is that Dave is not now prepared to do a debate, and consequently I will await information suggesting that Dave has either stopped calling himself a Roman Catholic (in which case I will decline the debate, because I have no desire to debate whether Roman Catholicism is Christian with someone who is not fully Roman Catholic), or until Dave has accepted that:

  • Trent denied Sola Gratia by Denying Sola Fide;
  • Trent, Vatican I, and/or Vatican II exalted the authority of the church to at least the level of Scripture; and
  • Vatican II asserted that Roman Catholicism worships the same god as Islam,

and until Dave has provided

  • some counter-definition for what is Christianity proper, that includes (apparently) those who are under Rome's Anathema and the wrath of "God," "Peter," and "Paul."

Before anyone launches the usual "You just don't know what Catholicism is" and/or "Catholicism is inscrutable to outsiders like yourself," (go here, if that's your opinion) I ask that such a person ask themselves what they think makes them a better interpreter of Roman Catholic documents than me? Does being an American make you a better interpreter of the U.S. Constitution than a Frenchman (or vice versa)?

Why is your opinion about what Roman Catholic documents mean more authoritative than what other Roman Catholics think, or even than what educated outsiders think?

Why should we reject Rome as apostate if she is not? Do we anathematize all who disagree with us on any point? Why would I pass up gaining one billion brethren? Do we not accept a vast number of denominations as Christian, even when they disagree with us on many points? You, dear reader, know the answer.

The answer is that we give primacy to Scripture and consequently reject as innovations many of the doctrines and traditions of Rome that are not taught by Scripture. But that still does not force us to assert apostacy, only corruption, arrogance, and deception.

What is more significant, though, is that we reject the gospel of Rome, because it is not the Gospel of Christ: the answer to "What must I do to be saved," is not simply "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" in official Roman Catholic soteriology.

That is not to say that there are no priests or bishops of Rome who follow Scripture on this matter rather than Roman Catholic dogma, and praise be to God if such is the case. On the very issues identified in my post, while many Roman Catholics follow the official church dogma, many do not. As Dave's comments above seem to indicate, there may well be "bad Catholics" who are Christians.

Far from being "anti-Catholic" we continue to call on Rome to reform her ways, remove the corruption, and embrace the gospel of Christ. We call those Christians who are in the Roman Catholic church to consider whether Reformation is still possible, and - if not - to leave for an evangelical church, where the gospel is preached.

To God alone be the Glory for my salvation, by grace alone not cooperation therewith,


P.S. Thanks to the many folks who provided advice and encouragement. Obviously, for now, the debate is on hold, pending Dave's decision about whether to follow Roman Catholic dogma or not label himself Roman Catholic. I sincerely hope that Dave chooses the latter approach, because there is only one way to heaven: by grace through faith in the gracious God revealed in Scripture. That is the truth whether anyone accepts or not.

UPDATE (6 December 2007): Dave continues to lie about the matter (and insult the present author) here (link) and here (link). Dave wishes I would refuse to debate him, but wishing doesn't make it so. (FURTHER UPDATE: Dave has subsequently edited his posts (linked to earlier in this paragraph, with an apology for their being overly harsh. While I appreciate that apology, I continue to stand by my original point that I have not refused to debate Dave, and I wish he'd stop trying to claim that I did. There are some things that need to be ironed out before a debate takes place, and Dave has actually made progress, by posting an attempted defense of Vatican II's comment regarding Islam. That has actually reduced the barriers to meaningful discussion.)

Caps Doffs to a Few Deserving Posts

Some great recent posts on Free Will

Steven J. Camp: Quoatations regarding Free Will

Peter Pike at Triablogue: Arminibot.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Dave's Debate Challenge

I wonder whether Dave would be willing to stipulate for the purposes of the debate that Catholicism includes:

- the dogmatic denial that the impious man is justified by faith alone (Based on Trent);

- the dogmatic denial that Scripture is of greater authority than any council or pope (Based on Trent and Vatican I); and

- the dogmatic affirmation that the god of the Muslims is the one true God (Based on Vatican II).


Question to Lucian

Apologies to folks with a feed reader who got my misplaced post intended for the debate blog.

That said, Lucian, you seem to think that Basil the Great holds similar views to you.

Yet, you also seem to think that "oral tradition" was not secret.

Basil, however, suggests that the oral traditions were unwritten to preserve their secrecy.

Would you care to explain yourself?


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Saved by Whose Faith?

One reader wrote in:

I have a quick question that I am hoping you could help me on. It is about faith and the Arminian view of it. The Arminian side says that we must have faith before we are saved and that is what election is based on, I hope at least that that is what they say. I have been reading [a writer] and he states that we live by the faith of Jesus, not by our faith [in] Him. Meaning it is not our faith that saves us, but rather his faith/faithfulness that saves us. Would you agree to that? It seems like most of the Bible translations have those Scripture verses read our faith. Some that were in the book Gal. 2:20, Rom. 3:22, Philippians 3:8,9.

He also wrote that the last part of Romans 8:1 should not be included as it is in the KJV. I have looked at the Geneva Bible that you recommended and it has the last part of the verse in there as well. “… that walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” He argues that the writer’s eyes moved to verse 4.

If it is not our faith that saves us, but rather our Lord’s faith/faithfulness that saves us then I wonder how the Arminian side can stand? Would the argument be that it should not read His faith, but it should read our faith?

Thanks for the time and for shedding more light on this for me.
I respond:

It is the righteousness of Christ, his faithful obedience to God's law, that saves us.

His work is imputed to us by faith. In other words, we trust in the work of Christ.

Thus, faith has an instrumental role.

One important problem with the Arminian position is that it fails to recognize what faith is: faith is trusting in the work of Christ.

Arminian theology tends to change faith into a work, something we do in order to be saved: as though we are saved on account of our faith (the thing itself) rather than on account of Christ's righteousness (the object of faith).

Because Arminian theology views faith as the meritorious cause of our salvation, Arminian theology also often asserts that the elect are chosen on account of foreseen faith.

There is a serious flaw with the Arminian argument though: faith is one of the fruits of the Spirit: it is something that the Spirit produces in us. Scripture says so.

How does the Spirit do so? By opening the spiritually blind eyes, and the spiritually deaf ears. Do you honestly think any person in their right mind prefers eternal punishment to eternal blessedness? Do you honestly think that any person does the calculus and decides that the pleasure of rebellion against God is worth eternal damnation?

Surely not.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

People do not seek the physician because they do not believe they are ill. Some people may not have looked to the brazen serpent, because they doubted the efficacy of that course of treatment for snake bite. Few people believe that Christ can save them, and few trust in Him to do so.

But note that we do not "trust in trust" or have "faith in faith" instead we trust in Christ, we have faith in the Son of God.

What saves us? It is not our faith, though it is by faith that Christ's righteousness is imputed to us. It is Christ's righteousness that saves us.

Regeneration is the reason we see our sinful condition, our need of a Saviour, and the Identity of that Saviour, the Saviour of the World (for there is no other saviour in the world, nor is there one saviour for Whites and another for Blacks, but one saviour for all nations). With our eyes wide open, what choice do we have?

In one way of looking at it, we have no choice at all. It is a no brainer. We either Worship God or Die. It is the most extreme form of threatening coersion possible, for there is nothing more fearful than Him who can place both body and soul in hell for all eternity.

Those who do not repent of their sins and trust in Christ are blind and deaf to the warnings of the Gospel. "Repent and Believe or Perish," it says.

"I'll take my chances," answers the fool.

So then, it is God that saves us from beginning to end. It is the Spirit that works faith in us, as Scripture says, by opening our minds to the light of the truth so that we may be converted and God would save us.

Is faith a means to the end of our salvation? Certainly.

Is faith obedience to the command of God? Surely.

Yet is faith the meritorious cause of our salvation? God forbid! For salvation is by grace through faith. It is not of ourselves, but a gift of God, lest anyone should boast.

God does not choose to save those who first choose him. God chooses to save some, and consequently arranges so that they choose him. Just as the disciples were chosen by God (not the other way around), so are all the disciples even to the present day. He chooses us, not we him (though we do choose him, and though the disciples did choose him).

I do not think the Arminian position can stand. We do not distinguish ourselves (assisted or unassisted) from those who are lost by a superior exercise of our will - we are distinguished from those who are loss by the grace alone (sola gratia) of God, who has mercy on whom He will.

Praise be His Glorious and Holy Name!


P.S. As for the textual issue, it's not a particularly significant variant, as far as I can tell, because the meaning is about the same whether "who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit" is present once or twice. Without more detailed investigation I'd be inclined to accept it as genuine despite some early manuscripts that omit it, because I think scribes are more likely to omit material than add material. On the other hand, without more investigation (and I have not investigated this variant in much detail) the argument in favor of omission being proper is slightly strengthened by the proximity of the repeat phrase. Still, the phrase really seems to fit the flow of the passage in both cases, and so I don't see a big reason to think it was not original. I'd want to dig deeper before being dogmatic. Is it important? I don't think so: it doesn't significantly change the meaning of the passage whether it is included or omitted (which may be why some scribes omitted it).

Biblical Miracles

Dear TheoJunkie,

I'd really love to hear your thoughts (either in the combox here or on your own blog) regarding these recent posts:

Biblical Miracles I
Biblical Miracles II
(UPDATED 25 October 2007)
Biblical Miracles III


Debate Challenge by Dave Armstrong

Dave Armstrong, a well-known Roman Catholic apologist has challenged the present author to debate the topic of "Is Catholicism Christian?" and/or "What is Christianity?" (link to challenge)
I wonder what my readers (Catholic or non-Catholic) think about whether I should accept.
Frankly, I'm not sure that the discussion would really qualify as a debate, because questions are not resolutions. But that's just a formal matter, that perhaps Dave could accomodate by providing a resolution such as: "Resolved: Catholicism today is at least part of the Christian religion."
Assuming that some mutually acceptable resolution could be found (either for me or Dave to affirm), what do my readers think of the idea?
In a multitude of counsellors there is wisdom.

Dave, thanks for the invitation, I'm mulling it over.


UPDATE (25 October 2007):

Dave has suggested:

"Resolved: the Catholic Church (led by the pope) is Not Properly Classifiable as Christian."


"Resolved: Only (Some Species of) Protestantism Can Be Properly Regarded as 'Christian'".

(with, one would think, the latter resolution being interpreted to mean that the only thing that can properly be regarded as Christian is some particular species of Protestantism, to the exclusion both of other species of Protestantism and all non-Protestantism)

Obviously, those would be resolutions for the present author to affirm, and Dave would take the negative position.

Thanks to Dave for these suggestions, which should make the issue much more concrete.

Neither of the resolutions appears to require my asserting that all Roman Catholics are necessarily unsaved, or that Roman Catholicism is not classifiable as Christian in some sense (after all, the RCC claims to be a (and perhaps "the") Christian church). Instead, the resolutions appear to relate to the proper (i.e. technical) definition of "Christian."

Obviously, as well, one would assume that the question is phrased from the standpoint of things the way they are now, not 100 years ago, or 200 years ago, or 500 years ago, or 1000 year ago, or even 1950 years ago.


Second UPDATE (same day):

Dave has provided some further clarification (his words, not mine, and not adopted by my quoting them):

"If one can't be saved by adhering to what the Catholic Church teaches (about Jesus, faith, the way of salvation, the sacraments, etc.), then obviously it isn't Christian."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Which is worse - Homosexuality or the Occult?

I'm sure you can guess which has been more seductive to Christianity.

That's my two cents on the topic of the week.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Request for Clarification from TheoJunkie

TheoJunkie wrote:

"any utterance TODAY that attempts to institute a new rule of faith or practice is false prophecy on its face. For that would violate Sola Scriptura."

TheoJunkie was asking me to confirm my agreement (or was confirming his agreement with me - I don't want to be stickler about the purpose of the comment), but I'm afraid I still don't understand his position well enough to know whether I agree.

One aspect of Sola Scriptura is that Scripture alone is an infallible rule in matters of doctrine and the only conscience-binding authority in matters of practice. In other words, any doctrine that is not rooted in Scripture is not properly dogma, and any rule of behavior that is not rooted in Scripture is a matter of preference.

But this doctrine is not in a vacuum. There is a reason for this doctrine. The reason for this doctrine is the perfection of Scriptures. Scriptures have always been the supreme authority even in the age of the prophets, but the word of God from the mouth of a true prophet was as infallible as the same word from the pen of the same prophet. Furthermore, Peter (for example) received new rules of behavior in a vision from God and properly conveyed them to the church before Luke completed the Acts of the Apostles in which they were recorded. Same goes for the counsel of Jerusalem.

Sola Scriptura is a practical reality more than a positive doctrine. Scripture is supreme because Scripture is known (by faith) to be the Word of God. Thus, both Paul's writings and preaching were subject to confirmation by the Word of God.

Indeed, precisely because of the primacy of Scripture, we can reject Mohamed as a false prophet because of his denial of the death and resurrection of Christ, without regard to a view on cessationism and even without regard to the fact that Mohamed lived after the time that Scripture was completed.

Similarly, we can reject the Gnostic's writings (even those purporting to be early) not simply because of the historical evidence that they were written much later, but also because they are inconsistent with the known (by faith) Scriptures.

Ever since Moses was given the law (part orally and part in writing) and placed the unwritten portion in writing, that writing has been the measure of all prophecy. The Scriptures grew as more revelation was provided. The Scriptures are now complete.

But if God speaks today, what (except for an a priori commitment to Sola Scriptura) would constrain him to reveal nothing new in terms of doctrine or practice? Presumably nothing.

But then why commit to Sola Scriptura a priori? What is the justification for Sola Scriptura if there are still prophets of God?


Tradition - What does it Mean?

If you have the chance to address those who seek to defend "tradition" from Scripture, you will find them appealing to Scriptures and fathers who say that the apostles passed some things on orally, rather than in writing.

Let's be clear on one thing: even if the "tradition" advocates were right that the was material communicated that was important and was not in Scripture, that still does not bring us to the "tradition" position.

Why not?

Because the "tradition" position is not just that some (or all) bishops get the whispered secrets of the apostles passed down orally over the centuries Kaballah-style. Instead, it is that "the church" (meaning the RCC if you ask a Catholic, the EO if you ask an Orthodox, etc. etc.) has the ability to avoid doctrinal error (or perhaps any error - depending who you ask).

In other words, "tradition" in the sense that it is usually used has little to do with "oral tradition" passed down from the apostles.

Instead, "tradition" is simply the aggregated teachings of whatever church one adheres to. It is this sense of "tradition" that Jesus criticized with respect to the Pharisees - and it is this kind of "tradition" that is particularly dangerous. While we should respect previous Christian men, we should still test their doctrine by Scripture, lest we fall (with the Orthodox, Catholics, and Pharisees) into the trap of making the Word of God of none effect by our traditions.

Will we have traditions? Of course. Sola Scriptura is not amnesia. We simply subject our traditions to Scripture.

Praise be to God, who has given us the fullness of His revelation in these latter days,


Traditionalist Caveat

If you are opposed to Sola Scriptura, supposing that tradition is necessary to provide authoritative tradition, you need to make sure you have the right authoritative tradition.

While you have no doubt heard the usual anti-Sola-Scriptura argument that there are ba-zillion (it's a technical term) Protestant denominations, possibly you are unaware that there are good deal more than one "tradition" group.

The largest "tradition" group (by headcount of supposed members) is the Roman Catholic Church (typically claiming to be about 1 billion strong). There are, however, some within the Roman Catholic Church who claim that it has been hijacked (see the discussion here) - and it would not be the first time such a claim has been made: at one time there were three different men claiming to be the "real pope" and of course denouncing the other two as anti-popes.

On top of that there is Eastern Orthodoxy (which claims to have about 300 million members).

And then there are the Coptics, Nestorians, Armenian Catholics (not to be confused with Roman Catholics), most of which generally hold to different traditions than the EO and RCC folks, but sometimes getting subsumed in the head count of one group or the other. Also, there seem to be at least some Anglicans who hold to "tradition."

So - which "tradition" is the correct one?

One usually hears the claim that a "referee" is necessary to decide competing interpretations of Scripture. If that's so, isn't it also necessary there be a "referee" to decide competing claims of "tradition"?

Of course, a consistent Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox or Sedavacantist Roman Catholic will deny that a referee is needed: and we cannot fault them there. Instead, we fault them for claiming that our epistemology is flawed on the basis of a lack of referee, when it turns out the same criticism applies to their own position.


History of Gifts?

I've been enjoying various discussions with TheoJunkie (link), who appears to have taken the position that the extraordinary gifts (the so-called Charismata) have not ceased. I still consider him a Christian brother, and I value his thoughts.

That said, I disagree his apparent views on the charismata.

My impression of the history of things is that the charismatic movement is of relatively recent origin, and that it is rather well known among Reformed Christians that Christians (including Christians who preceded the Reformation) have not had the extraordinary gifts since the time of the apostles.

Sure, I recognize that there are legends among the Catholics and Orthodox of miracles of the Saints. I'm not talking about those - for a variety of reasons, most principally because they are poorly documented (in my opinion - and I recognize that if you are Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox you probably will disagree with me about how well documented they are).

Let me be more specific, though:

I'm not aware of any Reformed Christian between say 1650 and 1850 (200 years) that claimed to be a prophet, a tongues-speaker, or a miraculous healer.

Can anyone, particularly brother TheoJunkie, identify historical documentation to the contrary?
I suppose that I've got my history right (but I'm open to correction). If I'm wrong:

Were such men excommunicated or welcomed by the Reformed churches?

If I'm right:

What's the explanation for the lack of extraordinary gifts in that two-hundred year period in which the Spirit of God was active in bringing many to salvation?

If I'm wrong, but the men were all excommunicated, I'll have a follow-up question.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Open Apolegetic Challenge to T.J. Pennock

Dear T.J. Pennock,

I had the pleasure of reading through many, though I confess not all, of the posts on your blog (Liver and Onions) - an enormous percentage of which relate to Calvinism, apparently from a less-than-favorable George Bryson-esque perspective.

I notice that in your most recent post you go after Calvinist apologists. As a Calvinist apologist, I didn't find the portrait particularly compelling - but then I'm clearly biased. I'd like the chance to demonstrate which of those characterizations are true, which are meaningless, and which are incorrect.

So, if you have interest, perhaps we could explore one issue that you believe particularly highlights the weakness/heresy/what-have-you of Calvinism.

If it is hard for you to pick something, perhaps we could focus on your June 30, 2007, post in which you suggest that the great Reformer Jerome Zanchius was a child of the devil because of his comments on election and reprobation.

You would take the affirmative position that Zanchius' following statement contains heresy:

As the future faith and good works of the Elect were not the cause of their being chosen, so neither were the future sins of the reprobate the cause of their being passed by, but both the choice of the former and the decretive omission of the latter were owing, merely and entirely, to the sovereign will and determinating pleasure of God.

But perhaps you have a better suggestion.

I have a debate blog set up where we could conduct this debate in a formalized manner. At the moment I'm wrapping up a debate on Sola Scriptura with an Eastern Orthodox opponent, but I'd be happy to find time to accommodate an edifying debate with you on a Calvinism topic of your choosing.

Please don't leave me hanging.