Monday, February 16, 2009

Response to Jay Dyer on Calvinism (Part 12 of 13)

This is part 12 of the thirteen part series in response to Jay Dyer. The previous part may be found here (link).

Jay Dyer says:

11) [A consistent Calvinist must be] An agnostic, in that human reason is so damaged by the fall and total depravity, it cannot accurately reason about God and ever attain certainty.

I answer:

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

Scripture has been given so that we may know God and believe on the Son of God (John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.). Through faith we understand the things that Scripture teaches (Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.). The unregenerate man's faculties are hopelessly ruined in the fall (Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?) Thus, Jesus spoke of the unregenerate Jewish leaders as "blind guides" (Matthew 23:24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.). Indeed Jesus went so far as to say that without regeneration one cannot see the kingdom of heaven (John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.)

b) The Accusation Disputed

Agnosticism is a lack of belief in the existence of God. No consistent Calvinist can be an agnostic, since faith in Christ is a central tenet of Calvinism.

Calvinism denies that unregenerate man comes to God of his own abilities, rejecting this Pelagian error in favor of the Scriptural teaching that God changes the hearts of men and opens their spiritual minds to see the truth. However, in regeneration, there is a restoration of the spiritual faculties of man: this is variously described as giving site to the blind, making the lame walk, curing the leper, and raising the dead to life. Jesus performed physical miracles in illustration of these principles, and each of these physical miracles Jesus performed pointed to the spiritual work that the Holy Spirit does.

Thus, Calvinism consistently affirms the total depravity of man and denies that unregenerate man can come to know God, even though God can be clearly seen:

Romans 1:19-20
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

c) The Accusation Redirected

Of course, Catholicism is not inherently an agnostic religion: it does acknowledge the fact that God exists. Practically speaking, however, Catholicism tries to instill a lack of confidence in people, in their ability to read and understand the Bible (even though, the Bible itself teaches otherwise). They suggest this for one obvious reason: if people weigh each doctrine of Catholicism in the scales of Scripture many doctrines (papal infallibility, the immaculate conception of Mary, Purgatory, etc. etc.) fall short and are seen to be unbiblical and even anti-Biblical.

Furthermore, the teachings of Catholicism, while not formally imbuing agnosticism do lead one to distrust human senses/reasoning (whether or not this related to the fall), not only for the unregenerate but for all men. Thus, the founder of the so-called Society of Jesus, Ignatius Loyola, stated: "I will believe that the white that I see is black if the hierarchical Church so defines it." The only path to certainty is apparently the definition of "the hierarchical Church." But such certainty is not obtained by reasoning, and really cannot be. Thus, if Calvinists were guilty for the reasons Dyer alleges (which, of course, they are not) then those in Catholicism would be similarly guilty, if they followed in the footsteps of Ignatius Loyola.

As you must already know, the difference is that Calvinism places faith in the Bible (the written and unchanging Word of God), whereas Catholicism places faith in Rome (that they allege is the true Church of God, but which has abandoned the true gospel). That may seem harsh because those in Catholicism claim to believe the Bible. On the other hand, they have the order of authority reversed, so that they will simply accept whatever teaching Rome gives (even when it is contrary to the plain sense of Scripture) and understand the Bible in light of that teaching, rather than the other way around - accepting only those teachings that jive with Scripture.

-TurretinFan

Continue to Part 13

3 comments:

natamllc said...

I have recently purchased a book by Dr. J.V. Fesko.

In it he picks up something in regard to Rome's polemical stance against Calvin personally launching an attack against his Institutes.

Your comment here: "....As you must already know, the difference is that Calvinism places faith in the Bible (the written and unchanging Word of God), whereas Catholicism places faith in Rome (that they allege is the true Church of God, but which has abandoned the true gospel)...."

Fesko develops this very contention with keen acumen.

I would paste some of his work in attesting to your comments. I do not wish to sully the RCC, as I believe, as you or someone has already observed, if the RCC would relinquish their nicolaitan type rule over their followers, there most likely would be no one left to them, the RCC, but some very highly educated men and women with no one to lead.

Here is some of what is in the book:

After Calvin's revision of his 1539 Institutes, I believe he had several, in 42 and his most complete Institutes, volumns more than the original 512 pages, his 1559 addition, yet before that addition, Roman Catholic Church officials reviewed his didactic on Predestination.

They conscribed Albert Pighius, 1490-1542 to review Calvin's work as well. Pighius wrote a response to justify Rome's elite position over the "elect" this way:

Pighius on Calvin's view: ".... the view that we sin necessarily and that it is impossible for us to live good and just lives or to obey God's commandments".

In his first chapter he writes also: Pighius, "....It is only when we know that our wills are endowed with free choice, and that it is put within our power whether or not to obey the commandments, to refrain from evil and to do good, that we can understand that the judgment of God is just."

Calvin rebutted Pighus by saying that "believers cannot perfectly fulfill the law because they are always restrained by their sin nature". He says that "saints always walk when they should be running, often with a limp. It is as a result of this, I say, that there has never been a good work which was entirely pure and perfect, which lacked any blemish at all".

Pighus then picked up on this point and asked "why the reformers bothered with instructing believers if they could not perfectly obey God?"

This gives some insights into why the RCC believes they can better serve the flocks than the Bible! At the end of the day, you end up with what is now known to be the Modern RCC.

It seems to me when Pighius says this to Calvin:

Pighius: "....if we cannot think of anything good or evil or plan our ways, whether good or evil, but everything is in God's control and happens necessarily in accordance with it, why do we not snore and sleep for ever?"

Again, you can sense the core of the RCC, minimizing man's apt ability to stand on their own feet, read the Bible and make judgments according to what the Holy Ghost speaks within.

Sadly, as this debate attests, this polemic is not going away.

Contrary to the encouragement of the RCC to rely upon the Papacy, Calvin, after those remarks of snoring and sleeping for ever, quoted Proverbs 16 to rebutt Pighius and really the RCC!

Pro 16:1 The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
Pro 16:2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit.
Pro 16:3 Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.
Pro 16:4 The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.
Pro 16:5 Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished.
Pro 16:6 By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the LORD one turns away from evil.

natamllc said...

Oh yeah, the title of the book is:
"Diversity Within the Reformed Tradition: Supra- and Infralapsarianism in Calvin, Dort, and Westminster", J.V. Fesko, 2001ISBN 1-884416-49-7

Matt Esmay said...

Dude, did you just make "jive" a theological term? That's awesome.