Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Response to Jay Dyer on Calvinism (Part 5 of 13)

This is part 5 of the thirteen part series in response to Jay Dyer. The previous part may be found here (link).

Jay Dyer says:
4) "[A consistent Calvinist must be] A tri-theist, because God the Father cuts off His own Son in the crucifixion (and maybe the Holy Spirit as well?): but Jesus, in all orthodox Trinitarianism, shares the same divine will as His Father."

I answer:

a) The Calvinist Position (whether right doctrine or error let Scripture decide)

Daniel himself prophesied that the Messiah would be cut off (Daniel 9:26), and his prophesy was fulfilled in the death of Christ. So too, Isaiah prophesied that Christ would be cut off out of the land of the living (Isaiah 53:8), and this prophecy also was fulfilled in the death of Christ. The death of Christ was something that happened to his person, but was not something communicable to his divine nature. God cannot die. Jesus, in dying, was not removed from the Trinity, and there is no clear logical reason why Mr. Dyer would attribute such a view to Calvinism. Why Mr. Dyer thinks the Holy Spirit was somehow removed from the Trinity in Calvinism is so far from being what Calvinism teaches that it is mystifying to try to guess why he would say that.

Furthermore, Calvinism is monotheistic.

Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

And Calvinism is trinitarian, notice that, in the following verse, "name" is singular, not plural:

Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Although many people try to claim that because we say that the Father is God (John 5:18 and 6:27), that the Son is God (2 John 1:9, 1 John 5:20, and John 20:28), and that the Spirit is God (1 Corinthians 6:19 and Luke 1:35), that consequently we worship three Gods. But we deny this, affirming that there is but one God (James 2:19, 1 Timothy 2:5, and Galatians 3:20).

b) The Accusation Disputed

Tri-theism is the view that there are three gods. This view is the caricature of Christianity found in various places, especially in Islam (since the Koran itself suggests that those who worship both the Father and the Son are worshiping more than one god). Calvinism is strictly monotheistic, affirming that there is no God but God, even while affirming that there are three persons in the godhead. It is absolutely impossible for consistent Calvinists to be tritheists, because to do so would undermine the sovereignty of God, who is Lord over all (Romans 10:12).

c) The Accusation Redirected

Roman Catholicism is formally monotheistic. Practically, however, Mary is often treated as a goddess (being addressed by such absurdly exalted titles as "Queen of Heaven"), and the "saints" are often a "Christianized" equivalent to the pantheon of Greek/Roman lesser deities.

It is important to keep in mind that God alone can hear and answer prayers. Thus, when those in Catholicism offer prayers to the dead, they are implicitly attributing divine powers to them. Mary, for example, was and is a true human being. If she were living here on earth, no one would expect her to be able to respond to all the requests that are daily made of her, let alone understand the myriad of languages in which such requests are made. However, Mary is treated as though she were God: able to hear prayers of the heart, able to answer prayers, able to understand prayers in any language, and able to understand a vast multitude of prayers at the same time.

I realize there are two common rebuttals to these objections. The first common rebuttal is to say that no one is really praying to Mary, they are just asking Mary to pray for them. This is not misleading at best, and certainly not accurate in general. To illustrate, allow me to present a paragraph from the web biography of Simón de Rojas (circa A.D. 1552-1624) who was added to the list of "saints" by pope John Paul II on July 3, 1988:
His greatest joy was to visit Marian shrines, to pray to Mary and with Mary, to imitate her virtues, to sing her praises, to acknowledge her importance in the mystery of God and of the Church. Through profound theological studies, he came to understand even better the mission of Mary in cooperation with the Trinity for the salvation of the human race and the sanctification of the Church. He lived his religious vows in the imitation of Mary. He held that, for everyone to be completely of God, as Mary had been, it was necessary to become her slaves, or better, slaves of God in Mary; for this reason he established the Congregation of the Slaves of Mary for the greater glory of the Trinity, in praise of the Virgin, in the service of the poor. For him, to be a slave of Mary meant belonging totally to her: "Totus tuus" in order to unite oneself more intimately to Christ and in Him through the Spirit, to the Father.
(source at official Vatican web site)

With that kind of description of his life, can anyone blame us for saying that there are those in Catholicism who worship Mary? and that this is an officially sanctioned worship? But undoubtedly there will be some who will blame us for saying this.

The second rebuttal is to say that because Mary is in heaven with God, she either has effectively an eternity to learn all human languages and hear them and then respond to each of them, and/or God somehow communicates them all to her and enables her to answer them. Neither of these views has Scriptural support. Both of these views, instead, is simply "special pleading" of speculative ideas in an effort to support the unbiblical practice of prayers to Mary. Rather than invent ideas about the afterlife to accommodate practices of Marian devotion, a better solution is to simply reject Marian devotion as contrary to Scripture, which commands to worship and serve God only. Remember Jesus' words:

Luke 4:8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Somehow also Samuel's words to Israel (which perhaps are the words of Scripture that Jesus had in mind in responding to Satan) seem to be a fitting reminder to people today:

1 Samuel 7:3 And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.


Continue to Part 6


Acolyte4236 said...

Did a divine person suffer and die on the cross or no?

Turretinfan said...


Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross.


Anonymous said...

Is Jesus Christ identical to the Second Person of the Trinitiy the Logos?

Turretinfan said...

Acolyte4236 (aka energeticprocession):

a) I'm aware of the loaded nature of your first question ("did a divine person suffer and die on the cross or no"). That is why I chose to answer your question as I did. I don't feel compelled to answer loaded questions in the form they are presented.

b) Within a trinitarian context, I usually follow the baptismal formula taught in Scripture in Matthew 28:19, namely the "Son" (υιος) rather than the formula found in the Johannine Comma, the "Word" (λόγος).

c) But, of course, the Word (logos) and the Son (huios) are the same person.

d) And both the Word and the Son are titles of Jesus Christ. We can see this clearly taught in 1 John 1:1-3:

1 John 1:1-3
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) 3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

e) If your first question were not a loaded question, you would have thought it fully answered by my answer.

f) If your second question is not a loaded question, then you should consider this a full answer to it.


Anonymous said...

No, energeticprocession is me Photios. It was a straightforward question. Thanks for the reply.

Turretinfan said...

I must have missed that the "energetic procession" blog was a group blog. My mistake. How many of you are there?


Anonymous said...

There are several of us. I think you can see the contributors on the side of the blog. Perry and I started the blog back in '05. He does most of the writing (as I have little time for it anymore) and I pay the bills.


Acolyte4236 said...

To answer your question about how many of them there are,

"We are legion!" JK You can get an idea of how many there are of us by just visiting the site.

My questions weren't loaded but were rather shibboleths. I posted a response to this thread over at my blog.

Turretinfan said...

The fact that the question was (from your perspective) a shibboleth doesn't change the fact that it was a loaded question - in fact it reinforces that conclusion.


Anonymous said...

Hey T.F.,

You have a blog!

What a blast from the Crosswalk past. I see in your margin that Theojunkie has a blog now too. I hope you are doing well.

It isn't completely clear to me if "Son" of God and "Word" of God mean eternal God, one in essence with the Father to you from your explanation alone, but from what I remember of past conversations, I am resigned to not being completely satisfied that I have reached perfect clarity. Still, it's always intriguing.

Anyway, nice to see you among new friends, and please tell TJ hi if you get a chance.

Andrea Elizabeth, aka "Lightseeker"

p.s. to Perry, thanks for the more drawn out and clarifying explanation on your blog of the Son's taking up human nature.

Turretinfan said...


To be clear, the position of all the Reformed churches is that Jesus is of the same essence ("homoousious") as the Father.


Anonymous said...

Thanks. Missed you too. Keep smiling!

Anonymous said...

Dear Turretinfan, please forgive my silliness and snarkiness. I have always respected your scholarship.

Turretinfan said...

A.E. - I am glad you stopped by, and I was not offended in any way by your remarks, but gladly give you any forgiveness you would like.

I should note, however, that I don't stand on being a scholar - just a slave of Jesus with a copy of his Master's commands.