Friday, March 21, 2008

Calvinist Free Will at Work

This interesting video, which I found thanks to the JollyBlogger, provides an excellent illustration of the fact that man's will chooses according to reasons, which call "causes."

We would not say that the men in this video were forced to choose the advertising scheme they selected, nevertheless, their choices were clearly not free in a "Libertarian Free Will" sense, but rather in a Calvinist sense.


Vengeance Belongs to Our God

As my friend TheoJunkie points out, (link), vengeance belongs to our God. That's why, even though we may view the pope as a leading enemy of the gospel, nevertheless we do not threaten his life, or encourage others to do so.

There is, of course, no more precarious state than to be an open enemy of the gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.. The Bible states:
Matthew 18:6-7
6But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 7Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

Mark 9:42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.

Luke 17:1-2
1 Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! 2It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Turretin Resources

I recently came across an interesting, French-language web site called Calvinisme, that has some helpful resources.

(link to index page for Turretin)

Gerrit Keizer biography of Turretin, "François Turrettini, Sa Vie et Ses Oeuvres, et la Consensus"

Sermon 1 by Turretin, "Le Bonheur du Peuple de Dieu"

Sermon 111 by Turretin, "Le Réveil et la Résurrection du Pécheur"

I hope that perhaps the owner of the web site may scan some additional sermons of Turretin into PDF form, so that the world may benefit.


Passage of Laurus

Archbishop Laurus, who was (until his death) the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, has passed from life to death. I did not know the man, nor whether he had faith in Christ alone for salvation. May God bless the flock he left behind, with greater knowledge of the truth, and with salvation if they are trusting in something other than Christ alone for salvation. (link)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Objections Regarding Original Sin Answered

An anonymous poster provided some comments regarding this earlier post on the natural depravity of children (link). The comments by the anonymous commenter are in italics, with all the typos being as submitted.

"I think some thoughts are being omitted from your interpretation of Psalms 58. First off, they go astray after they are born. They were not born lost."

No. They are already estranged in the womb, and they stray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.

Psalm 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.

"Secondly the whole point of the Psalm, describing the eickedness of certain people, is to contrast them with the righteous, those that did not stray but remained faithful. They will be avenged when God judges men according to their deeds (Matt 12:36-37, Rom 2:6, 2 Cor 5:10, Rev 20:12, 1 Peter 1:17). "

The whole point of the of the Psalm is actually to call for judgment on the wicked. The "righteous" (as such) is not even mentioned until the next-to-last verse. There's nothing about a comparison between the righteous and wicked. In short, your claim about the verse is plainly incorrect. The righteous (singular) may even here be a reference to Christ. Regardless of whether it is Christ himself, or someone to whom Christ's rigteousness has been imputed, the string citation of other passages doesn't solve the anonymous commenter's problem.

"Ezek 18:1-4 The word of the LORD came to me again, saying, “What do you mean when you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying: ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? “As I live,” says the Lord GOD, “you shall no longer use this proverb in Israel. “Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die.

Ez 18:14-17 “If, however, he begets a son who sees all the sins which his father has done, and considers but does not do likewise ... but has executed My judgments and walked in My statutes— He shall not die for the iniquity of his father; He shall surely live!"

This appears as if no matter how evil the father is, the son does not bear the iniquity of the father. Adam's sons would not bear the quilt of their fathers. "

They would not bear the guilt of their fathers IF they repent of their fathers' sins. The error that the prophet is correcting is the sense of hopelessness. There is hope for those who repent, regardless both of their own prior sins and the sins of their fathers. That is the gospel message: Repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. It was the same message preached by Ezekiel, and it is the same message we preach.

"Ezek 18:19-20 “Yet you say, ‘Why should the son not bear the guilt of the father?’ Because the son has done what is lawful and right, and has kept all My statutes and observed them, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself."

Presumably this is intended to be grouped with the Ezekiel passages above. It is already answered.

"The gospel requires action a baby can't do:
"Unless you repent you will perish": Lk 13:3
"Repent and be baptized ... for forgiveness of sins": Acts 2:38
"Work out our own salvation": Phil 2:12"

The gospel requires repentance from sin and faith in Christ. That faith and repentance is evidenced in baptism, confession of the Lord (not listed above), and progressive sanctification. That a child can have faith in Christ seems to appear from John the Baptists miraculous reaction to the voice of Mary, the greatly blessed mother of our Lord.

"Man is capable of making choices himself:
- Gentiles do by nature the good things of the law: Rom 2:14-16
- Cornelius was devout, feared God, righteous, Acts 10:1-4, 22 yet unsaved: 11:14
- Man has a freewill and can choose to do good or evil: Josh 24:15 "Choose this day...""

Doing those things "by nature" refers to the light of nature, not to the nature of the Gentiles. The obedience of the Gentiles is still not righteousness, because it is not motivated by love for God.

Cornelius was already a worshiper of Jehovah. He simply had not yet heard that the Messiah had come. Like others in a similar position, when he heard of Christ, he (and all his house) believed on him immediately. This is dramatically different from the Jews who had an outward show of worshiping God, but who did not believe on Christ.

Man certainly does have a "free will," in the sense that he makes decisions and moral choices. The choice by Israel to serve God (mentioned in Joshua 24:15) was a moral choice. The fact that men do make choices, and that some of those decisions are free, does not mean that they are free in the sense required by Arminian, Molinist, or Open Theist interpreters.

"God said that the king of Tyrus was "blameless in your ways from the day you were created, until unrighteousness was found in you." (Ezek 28:15) This would not be possible if he was born in sin. "

One might think that. Nevertheless:

a) That verse is frequently referred to Satan, who was created innocent and fell.
b) If that verse refers to man who was the king of Tyrus, it also says (in the immediately preceding verse): "Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire." If that doesn't clue you in to the fact that the verse is speaking poetically (assuming it is speaking of a mere man), then I'm not sure what would. The use of "blameless" or "perfect" as relative terms in the Old Testament is not rare.

"Sin is committed by individually breaking God's law. (1 Jn 3:4) Infants have done nothing. Isa 59:1-2, "Your sins have separated you from your God", not Adams. In Exodus 32:31­33 this passage, Moses wanted to receive the punishment for someone else's sin. In verse 33, the one who sinned is removed from the book, not the one whose parents have sinned."

a) All mankind (and the whole creation) is punished for Adam's sin.
b) God visits the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto multiple generations of those that hate Him.
c) Infants are themselves sometimes punished for the sins of their father, recall the death of David's first son by Bathsheba.

"Newborns do not know the difference between good and evil. God allowed the children to enter Canaan but not the parents: "your little ones who...have no knowledge of good and evil shall enter". (Deut 1:34-39)"

Newborns don't have a developed understanding of the moral law. I don't think many people would suggest otherwise.


Premature Exultation - Semi-Augustinianism

David Waltz seems excited by a quotation from R.C. Sproul regarding labeling Roman Catholic doctrine.

Waltz writes: "The fact that the Catholic Church maintains that it is impossible to accept the gospel without grace (gratia praeveniens), this separates Her teaching from “all forms of semi-Pelagianism”; instead, embracing “moderate-Augustinianism, or of what might be called Semi-Augustinianism, in distinction from Semi-Pelagianism.”" (first quotation is from Sproul, second quotation is from Schaff, and the emphasis was provided by Waltz) (source)

Waltz's exultation at being distinguished from "all forms of semi-Pelagianism," is a bit premature. You see, Sproul - like the others we've examined (link) (link) - is careful to distinguish between Augustine's correct position and Rome's incorrect position - although I do not think that Sproul was necessarily thinking of Rome in the discussion he was conducting.

What one wishes to call the position is the wrapper: Semi-Augustinian with Sproul or Schaff (in his narrowest sense, see here, for example); Semi-Semi-Pelagian with Warfield; or Semi-Pelagian with Schaff (in the broadest sense in which he uses the term). The content inside the wrapper is the problem: the erroneous position of Rome. It's not wrong because it disagrees with Augustine, of course. It's not wrong because it leans toward Peliagius, either. It's wrong because it disagrees with Scripture, as noted here (link).


The Real Turretin on: the Fall

The Reformed Reader has some very brief excerpts from the real Turretin on the faith of Adam before compared to after the Fall (link).


Monday, March 17, 2008

In Praise of Slavery and Piracy

Joseph's brethren famously sold Joseph into slavery:

Genesis 37:28 Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.

Later Joseph explained that this was intended as evil by the brothers of Joseph, but was intended by God for good.

Genesis 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

It's not the only time God has used slavery to achieve His ends for the good of a nation.

Around the turn of the 5th century, a man named Maewyn Succat was taken prisoner by Irish raiders: pirates/slavers. God worked in this providence to make of that man a missionary to the Irish nation, leading ultimately to the Christianizing of the island of Ireland.

God's Providence is mysterious. It is said that Mawyn, or Patrick as he came to be called, believed that his enslavement was a punishment for a particular sin that he had committed. Perhaps, in part, that was true. But in hindsight, God's greater purpose in the event was to save Irish souls by the voice of a Welsh preacher.

There are still today many Irish souls in need of salvation, and there are no more Irish pirates to import Christian slaves. In some ways, the Irish condition today is more dangeous now than it was then, for there are many lost who call themselves Christians, whereas then there were few if any. Any modern-day Patrick has an enormous challenge, to shed the light of the gospel in place that thinks it knows what Christianity is, and yet is trusting not in Christ alone for salvation, but in some human system.

While much of Ireland, and much of America as well, celebrates the day with drinking large quantities of green beer, perphaps a sober prayer to God for renewed missionaries to the Irish people is in order. Whether they are brought as slaves (which seems doubtful), or however God chooses to send them, let us be eager that God's flock be gathered unto Him.

May God's will be done on earth, as it is in heaven,