Saturday, February 06, 2010

Assurance in Calvinism - a Response to Edward Reiss

Steve Hays been responding to Lutheran (I'm not sure of which stripe he is) Edward Reiss (link to Steve Hays).

Edward Reiss wrote: “There is no promise we will know we have eternal life.”

I'm not sure what constitutes a "promise" in Edward's mind:

1 John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Edward Reiss wrote: “We are told that we may deceive ourselves that we are elect when we are not”

Calvin explains it this way:
I am aware it seems unaccountable to some how faith is attributed to the reprobate, seeing that it is declared by Paul to be one of the fruits of election; and yet the difficulty is easily solved: for though none are enlightened into faith, and truly feel the efficacy of the Gospel, with the exception of those who are fore-ordained to salvation, yet experience shows that the reprobate are sometimes affected in a way so similar to the elect, that even in their own judgment there is no difference between them. Hence it is not strange, that by the Apostle a taste of heavenly gifts, and by Christ himself a temporary faith, is ascribed to them. Not that they truly perceive the power of spiritual grace and the sure light of faith; but the Lord, the better to convict them, and leave them without excuse, instills into their minds such a sense of his goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption. Should it be objected, that believers have no stronger testimony to assure them of their adoption, I answer, that though there is a great resemblance and affinity between the elect of God and those who are impressed for a time with a fading faith, yet the elect alone have that full assurance which is extolled by Paul, and by which they are enabled to cry, Abba, Father. Therefore, as God regenerates the elect only for ever by incorruptible seed, as the seed of life once sown in their hearts never perishes, so he effectually seals in them the grace of his adoption, that it may be sure and steadfast. But in this there is nothing to prevent an inferior operation of the Spirit from taking its course in the reprobate. Meanwhile, believers are taught to examine themselves carefully and humbly, lest carnal security creep in and take the place of assurance of faith. We may add, that the reprobate never have any other than a confused sense of grace, laying hold of the shadow rather than the substance, because the Spirit properly seals the forgiveness of sins in the elect only, applying it by special faith to their use. Still it is correctly said, that the reprobate believe God to be propitious to them, inasmuch as they accept the gift of reconciliation, though confusedly and without due discernment; not that they are partakers of the same faith or regeneration with the children of God; but because, under a covering of hypocrisy, they seem to have a principle of faith in common with them. Nor do I even deny that God illumines their minds to this extent, that they recognize his grace; but that conviction he distinguishes from the peculiar testimony which he gives to his elect in this respect, that the reprobate never attain to the full result or to fruition. When he shows himself propitious to them, it is not as if he had truly rescued them from death, and taken them under his protection. He only gives them a manifestation of his present mercy. In the elect alone he implants the living root of faith, so that they persevere even to the end. Thus we dispose of the objection, that if God truly displays his grace, it must endure for ever. There is nothing inconsistent in this with the fact of his enlightening some with a present sense of grace, which afterwards proves evanescent.


Edward Reiss wrote: “This means looking for fruit runs the serious risk of us deceiving ourselves into thinking we are elect when we are not.”

1) Although we are to look for fruit for assurance, we are not to trust in our fruit. We are always to trust in Christ.

2) The fact that something is not perfectly reliable does not mean that it is not generally trustworthy. Does Edward refuse to believe his eyes at all because he once attended a magic (sleight-of-hand) show?

Edward Reiss wrote: “The spiritual danger of this should be readily apparent.”

The spiritual danger appears to flow from trusting in one's fruit rather than in Christ. Otherwise, it is impossible to see how spiritual danger arises simply from human falibility.

Edward Reiss wrote: “Examining ourselves for our fidelity and obedience is different from examining ourselves to ‘prove’ we are elect, which we cannot know anyway.”

One wonders how Edward would explain this passage in view of his comment above:

2 Peter 1:10-11
Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Edward Reiss wrote: “We can know that when we hear the Gospel in e.g. baptism or communion that we are truly receiving what God promises because God does not lie--as opposed to our looking into our own lives for proof.”

This simply a false dichotomy. We can rely on God's promises and engage in self-examination.

Edward Reiss wrote: “No one has second party knowledge of my eternal state.”

No one except for God has certain knowledge of that. However, others are invited and even exhorted to judge us by our fruits.

Edward Reiss wrote: “And I don't think I even have first party knowledge (see 1 above). Given this, and the theological commitments of TULIP Calvinists, a TULIP Calvinist cannot say Christ died for him, or anyone else. I do however have first hand knowledge of receiving communion, being absolved and I have proof I am baptized.”

Edward seems to mean that a Calvinist cannot consistently claim to know that Christ died for him. This is simply a rehash of his claim above. Being unable to say that Christ died for some particular person only seems to be a problem for those who make "Christ died particularly for you" part of their evangelistic message.

Edward Reiss wrote: “You have ‘demonstrated’ something we have not claimed: that Sacraments guarantee everyone who receives the sacrament eternal salvation.”

...

Edward Reiss wrote: “What we have claimed is that the grace offered in Sacraments is real grace…”

Reification of grace is a real problem, and seems to be a problem in Edward's explanation here.

Edward Reiss wrote: “…and not actually a withholding of grace, as is the case in the Calvinist system where grace is only offered to the elect, because offered grace must be 100% ‘effective’ for it to be real.”

Saving grace saves. The grace of regeneration is given, not "offered." The forgiveness of sins is offered to all, but conditionally. Only the elect become qualified by the working of the Holy Spirit.

Edward Reiss wrote: “Finally, it is not the Lutherans who look at their navel, but the TULIP Calvinists looking within themselves to prove they are really elect.”

Calvinists don't normally go around trying to prove that they are elect.

Edward Reiss wrote: “If we can be deceived into believing we are elect even if we are not, where is the assurance in that?”

It seems that Edward is complaining that the level of assurance is not high enough.

Edward Reiss wrote: “But baptism and communion go one better--they promise the forgiveness of sins.”

The butcher down the road promises to give me meat for money. Comparing delivery of meat to forgiveness of sins would be a strange comparison - but it is a stranger comparison to compare forgiveness of sins (a kind that is apparently at least potentially temporary) with eternal life. So what if Lutheran theology does promise that someone can know that their sins are forgiven or if the butcher promises that someone can know that their meat has been delivered. Knowledge of such facts falls in an inferior category.

Edward Reiss wrote: "The standard "Protestant" syllogism works like this: All those who have faith in Christ are saved[;] I have faith in Christ [;] Therefore I am saved"

Steve has already demonstrated that this is Scriptural. Further to that explanation, as James explains, our works demonstrate that our faith is a true faith.

Edward Reiss wrote: "The "Lutheran" Syllogism works like this: Christ said "I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit"[;] Christ never lies and always tells the truth[;] Therefore I am baptized"

1) See above about the comparisons (comparing baptism to salvation is like comparing meat to baptism).
2) Christ does not personally baptize Lutherans, which throws something of a wrench in the syllogism.

Edward Reiss wrote: “If you object to a sacramental view of baptism feel free to insert "Christ said I died for you..." in lieu of baptism.”

Christ doesn't come down and tell individual believers that - though if he did, we ought to believe him.

Edward Reiss wrote: “The point is that there is no ‘if’ embedded in the Lutheran syllogism, where the Protestant syllogism has an ‘if’ embedded into it--do I really have faith?”

That formal point is truly without merit. We can remove that "if" from the "Protestant" one by saying "those who repent and believe are saved" rather than "if I repent and believe I am saved." Alternatively, we can rephrase the Lutheran one as "if Christ said... then it is true, because he doesn't lie; he did say ...; therefore it is true."

Edward Reiss wrote: “Do we ever keep his commandments? St. John himself allows for the forgiveness of sins for Christ's sake which presupposes disobedience. I certainly don't see how we can get some sort of assurance of perseverance from our obedience as there is always the possibility we will not be obedient. In other words, it does not cut against the Lutheran position.”

If Edward thinks that perfect obedience is what Calvinists are looking for, he's mistaken. What cuts against what he calls the Lutheran position is the failure to recognize the inseparability of the love of God from the objects of that love.

Edward Reiss wrote: “Getting back to the larger issue, no one has really said I got the Reformed position wrong.”

Between Steve and myself, the number of such people seems to be at least two.

Edward Reiss wrote: “Calvinist assurance: You are assured of eternal salvation and under no circumstances will you lose it.”

You can lose assurance but you can't lose eternal life. If you could, it wouldn't be eternal life.

- TurretinFan

22 comments:

Coram Deo said...

Given his emphasis on the assurance imparted by the sacraments over and against "naval gazing introspection" one wonders how Reiss understands 2 Cor. 11:28 - Let a man examine himself and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

In Christ,
CD

Coram Deo said...

TF,

Here's an interesting piece that compares FV with Romanism, but what struck me, even before reading the combox discussion that followed, were the striking similarities between FV, Romanism, and Confessional Lutheranism, at least as it's being understood and expounded by Edward Reiss over at Triablogue.

Check it out when you have a minute...it's well worth the read:

The Federal Vision's Roman Catholic Doctrine of Assurance

I think it's arguable, as even a Lutheran pastor in the combox asserts, that FV's doctrines of assurance and perseverance run closely alongside Romanism and Confessional Lutheranism - and by extension evangelical Arminianism.

In Christ,
CD

Coram Deo said...

Addendum to the above post, see also Introspection and Assurance.

Lockheed said...

Having spoken with Lutherans at length about this topic over the years, I've come to see this same concept emerge in most discussions. Since salvation is by grace through faith (alone) therefore, they claim, works can play no part in it what-so-ever, even as evidence of one's salvation.

When confronted with the Apostle John's claim of "by this we know" they retreat into their constructed argument that the only assurance we can have is based on baptism and the promises of God therein. Of course since they believe that a true believer can fall away, one has to wonder what kind of assurance that is. Of course they respond that because on is relying solely on God's work of regeneration in/evidenced by (they claim that God baptizes through the minister) baptism.

I believe this whole line of thinking is somewhat new, honestly. For you do not see Luther denying that good works are the fruit of faith, and even Kretzmann's Lutheran commentary states (re: 1 John) that "Our life as Christians is the mark of our fellowship with God... Of the true, honest Christian St. John writes: But whoever keeps His Word, in this person the love of God is truly completed; in this we know that we are in Him. Out of the knowledge of God in faith there flows the true love of God. This love finds its expression in this, that the Christian keeps the Word of God, that we do what we know to be His will, that we refrain from everything that is contrary to His will. If this is our attitude, if this is brought out in our entire conduct, in our whole life, then our love toward God is really perfected, gives a proper, live account of itself, presents unmistakable proof of the right condition of our heart. A real Christian life is the mark of fellowship with God, it shows that our life is bound up with Him, that we obtain all our strength from Him."

So perhaps this particular theological slant is something based on a specific pastor/theologian's work rather than the consensus of Lutheran thought. I must confess, however, that I've not met a Lutheran lately who doesn't follow it.


Yet even Luther

natamllc said...

Lock,

do you believe Lutherans have saving Faith?

TF,

that long portion up front, the citation of Calvin's elucidates for me something about the word "full" he uses repeatedly therein.

I was struck with a message I listened to recently from a decidedly Reformed Preacher's point of view that centered on that word "full" and the context he brought his message from that the Elect are fully united to Christ in this life by the Hand of God and not of man:::>

Exo 12:1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt,
Exo 12:2 "This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you.
Exo 12:3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers' houses, a lamb for a household.
Exo 12:4 And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb.
Exo 12:5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats,
Exo 12:6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.

We realize, those who are the Elect, that we "must" be born again. There is absolutely no compromise.

"If you do not die and go to Heaven before you die, you do not go to Heaven"!

If there is one bit of "self" in our relationship with God as our meritorious standing for acceptance before the Throne of Grace, we are not "enlightened" nor are we His Elect.

Also, as for the "mysteries" of God that have been "given" to the Elect whereby we can navigate through this life, whatever befalls us, I was thinking of a couple of Psalms that make it plain just what those mysteries are:::>

Psa 89:8 O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD, with your faithfulness all around you?
Psa 89:9 You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them.
Psa 89:10 You crushed Rahab like a carcass; you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
Psa 89:11 The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it, you have founded them.
Psa 89:12 The north and the south, you have created them; Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name.
Psa 89:13 You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand, high your right hand.
Psa 89:14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
Psa 89:15 Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O LORD, in the light of your face,
Psa 89:16 who exult in your name all the day and in your righteousness are exalted.

and the complete, entire Psalm 143.

One who is of the Election and the Calling protest that Heaven is Our Home and we are just passing through this temporal life. There is for some, not all, a different outcome, troubles unfolding, tribulations without any rest of body or soul and in some instances, being put to death, denied any more livelihood from this life.

Oh, how true the Words of Jesus:::>

Mat 7:15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
Mat 7:16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Mat 7:17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.
Mat 7:18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.
Mat 7:19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Mat 7:20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
Mat 7:21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Anonymous said...

A being who will send people to hell on a dice roll will also lie. Therefore, there is no assurance of anything in Calvinism except eternal damnation for all.

Lockheed said...

"A being who will send people to hell on a dice roll will also lie. Therefore, there is no assurance of anything in Calvinism except eternal damnation for all."

This is a gross misrepresentation of our beliefs and the God of Scripture. I'd take you to Scripture and ask you to explain your rudeness, but clearly the authority of Scripture has no meaning for you.

natamllc - Yes I believe that Lutheranism is a proper basic representation of the facts of Scripture and rightly understands the nature of faith and salvation.

Turretinfan said...

Anonyous aka Beowulf2k8:

I see that Marcion's modern-day followers are not any more truthful than his ancient followers.

Christopher said...

TF,

Forgive my ignorance of certain aspects of Calvinism, but from what Calvin seems to be saying in the above paragraph, God implanting the knowledge of temporal mercy (on the reprobate) and sense of grace (on the elect) seems to treat grace as if it is a created thing...it seems to be treated as a force.

Could it be fair to say that because Calvinists (to the best of my knowledge) believe in created grace and fully subscribe to the penal satisfaction theory of the atonement, that this necessitates an eternal movement within God to save some, and that since some are not saved, Christ could not have paid their penalty on the cross?

If this is so, what reason is there to discuss a heavenly sacrifice and petitioning of Christ if "it is finished" at the cross?

As a former Lutheran, I think I understand where Lutherans come from on this issue which your post addresses, and as an Orthodox Christian I'm interested in Protestant treatments of grace over-against Rome's.

Chris

Christopher said...

I apologize ahead of time. I mistyped that Calvinists believe in "created grace." I mean to say I was under the impression that Calvinists believed in "UNcreated grace."

Turretinfan said...

"Could it be fair to say that because Calvinists (to the best of my knowledge) believe in uncreated grace and fully subscribe to the penal satisfaction theory of the atonement, that this necessitates an eternal movement within God to save some, and that since some are not saved, Christ could not have paid their penalty on the cross?"

Grace in Calvinism isn't a thing - it isn't a sort of spiritual substance - it is the unmerited favor of God. One expression of God's favor is the atonement, by which Christ redeemed his people.

"If this is so, what reason is there to discuss a heavenly sacrifice and petitioning of Christ if "it is finished" at the cross?"

It's unclear what you mean by a heavenly sacrifice. Christ's sacrifice has been offered for us once for all. Christ prays for us on the basis of that sacrifice.

Christopher said...

TF,

Thank you for the clarification, but it still represents a problem I'm wondering about.

Grace as unmerited favor would have to be an internal movement in God in eternity (I assume this would make it simply an aspect of the Divine Will). What is the distinction between redemption and creation then? If this is an internal movement in eternity (that is, "before the foundations of the world") and it is an aspect of will and it is internal to the nature of God, what is the distinction between creation and begetting the Son? - Orthodox Question

How can you lose assurance without losing eternal life? That seems to say you can have eternal life but not have faith. You would seem to say we are saved by grace alone, potentially apart from faith. - Lutheran Question

Nick said...

Ed's argument in its essence is solid and irrefutable, and realizing this argument myself a few years ago prevented me from turning Reformed in the first place.

The issue of whether one knows they are elect is central to Calvinism. Unless one is elect, then nothing relating to Christian life and doctrine applies to them. And just so people don't get confused, this is about whether the INDIVIDUAL knows they are elect, NOT what 3rd parties think.

The fact is, there is no way to know one is elect, and instead one must assume they are, but this obliterates any foundation for Assurance. (assumption and assurance cannot co-exist)
What makes matters worse is that Calvin went further than that (as the quote TF gave shows) to say God gives a special "grace" to make reprobates THINK they are elect when in fact they are not.

All reasons a Calvinist can give are ultimately subjective, because unless they are truly elect their fruits, faith, etc, etc, are of a deceived (unregenerate) individual.

This brings rise to an even worse problem, that of ordaining ministers in Calvinism, because if there is no objective way of measuring election, one cannot know if their own minister is unregenerate or not, and if he's unregenerate then he cannot be a minister by definition.

Turretinfan said...

Chris:

You asked: "What is the distinction between redemption and creation then?"

Creation is God's act of making all things of nothing in the space of six days and all very good.

Redemption is God's act of purchasing to himself an elect people.

Chris: "If this is an internal movement in eternity (that is, "before the foundations of the world") and it is an aspect of will and it is internal to the nature of God, what is the distinction between creation and begetting the Son?"

The begetting of the Son is not an act - the Son did not come to be. Creation is an act - the created order came to be.

"How can you lose assurance without losing eternal life?"

Assurance has to do with the state of your mind. Your state of mind doesn't always reflect the objective reality of your judicial standing before God.

"That seems to say you can have eternal life but not have faith."

We don't intend for you to get that impression.

"You would seem to say we are saved by grace alone, potentially apart from faith."

Again, that's not our position and not an impression we want you to get.

Nick:

You wrote: "Ed's argument in its essence is solid and irrefutable, and realizing this argument myself a few years ago prevented me from turning Reformed in the first place."

Obviously, I disagree.

"The issue of whether one knows they are elect is central to Calvinism."

No, it is not.

"Unless one is elect, then nothing relating to Christian life and doctrine applies to them."

That's actually not true. Moral doctrine, for example, is universally applicable.

"And just so people don't get confused, this is about whether the INDIVIDUAL knows they are elect, NOT what 3rd parties think."

Understood.

"The fact is, there is no way to know one is elect, and instead one must assume they are, but this obliterates any foundation for Assurance. (assumption and assurance cannot co-exist)"

As we've noted above, one can know.

"What makes matters worse is that Calvin went further than that (as the quote TF gave shows) to say God gives a special "grace" to make reprobates THINK they are elect when in fact they are not."

That's not what Calvin says. You ought to read him more carefully.

"All reasons a Calvinist can give are ultimately subjective, because unless they are truly elect their fruits, faith, etc, etc, are of a deceived (unregenerate) individual."

The investigation of whether a particular subject is elect is inherently subjective. In fact, whether a particular subject is [x] is a subject question in general.

"This brings rise to an even worse problem, that of ordaining ministers in Calvinism, because if there is no objective way of measuring election, one cannot know if their own minister is unregenerate or not, and if he's unregenerate then he cannot be a minister by definition."

No, neither Calvinists nor even Romanists require that a minster be regenerate to be a minister in fact. We both recognize that some ministers are hypocrites, nevertheless they are still within the definition of ministers.

- TurretinFan

Coram Deo said...

Nick said: Ed's argument in its essence is solid and irrefutable, and realizing this argument myself a few years ago prevented me from turning Reformed in the first place.

Actually it's full of holes, like Swiss cheese, as TF and Steve Hays have demonstrated.

He's guilty of conflating Biblical doctrines (expiation and propitiation to name two).

He's guilty of the flat-out denial and/or contradiction of scripture (e.g. 1 John 5:13; 2 Peter 1:10-11; 2 Cor. 11:28)

And he's guilty of grossly misrepresenting historic Calvinism/Reformed theology (see TF's and Steve Hays' original posts).

If arguments like this are exemplary of what "prevented you from turning Reformed" then you might reconsider the arguments.

In fact it appears to me based on your short comment here that you don't know the first thing about Calvinism/Reformed theology except for falsehoods and straw-man arguments.

As a general rule it's worthwhile to at least have a basic grasp of the subject being addressed before offering unhelpful and fallacious criticisms.

In Christ,
CD

natamllc said...

Nick,

hmmmmm?

"...."This brings rise to an even worse problem, that of ordaining ministers in Calvinism, because if there is no objective way of measuring election, one cannot know if their own minister is unregenerate or not, and if he's unregenerate then he cannot be a minister by definition."

Well, that's interesting.

Would you parse this then:::>


Mat 23:1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples,
Mat 23:2 "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat,
Mat 23:3 so practice and observe whatever they tell you--but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice.
Mat 23:4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.
Mat 23:5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long,
Mat 23:6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues
Mat 23:7 and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.
Mat 23:8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Mat 23:9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.
Mat 23:10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ.
Mat 23:11 The greatest among you shall be your servant.
Mat 23:12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Mat 23:13 "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.

Jesus pointed that out nearing the end of His 3.5 years of public, objective Ministry.

Here's how He dealt with it at the beginning:

Mat 7:1 "Judge not, that you be not judged.
Mat 7:2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
Mat 7:3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
Mat 7:4 Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye?
Mat 7:5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

Here's an objective test Jesus gave us to exercise:::>

Mat 7:15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
Mat 7:16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?



Nick, let me ask,

"What do you think?" "Is it a log or a speck that I see in your eye?"

Anonymous said...

A god who will damn men on a dice roll will also lie. Therefore there can be no assurance of anything in Calvinism but damnation for all.

Lockheed said...

"A god who will damn men on a dice roll will also lie. Therefore there can be no assurance of anything in Calvinism but damnation for all."

Repeating your folly only shows your ignorance more clearly.

Christopher said...

TF,

My questions are not me wanting to "get an intention" of what the Reformed teach, but I am interested in what you REALLY teach. The issue of assurance is huge in this regard, as faith without assurance isn't really faith at all.

You point regarding the distinction of begotten versus created is true with regard to time, but in eternity, is there a difference? It seems to me Origen fell into this same problem, noticing a difference in his "de Principiis" between creation of souls and the begottenness of the Son but being unable to make a real distinction in his thought. It just seems to me that this remains at least a potential in Reformed thought. What about eternity?

Turretinfan said...

"You point regarding the distinction of begotten versus created is true with regard to time, but in eternity, is there a difference?"

Yes, there's a difference. Christ is begotten, not made. The Arian error is to treat Christ as though he were created, and to suggested that "created" and "begotten" are equivalent concepts is precisely the Arian error.

Nick said...

N:"The issue of whether one knows they are elect is central to Calvinism."

TF: No, it is not.


Nick: If you don't know if you are elect, you don't know if you're saved.

N:"Unless one is elect, then nothing relating to Christian life and doctrine applies to them."

TF: That's actually not true. Moral doctrine, for example, is universally applicable.


Nick: This is beyond moral doctrine, it's about things such as whether one has *real* faith in Jesus or not.


TF: As we've noted above, one can know.

Nick: I've read the opening post twice and I don't see where this is directly answered.

N:"What makes matters worse is that Calvin went further than that (as the quote TF gave shows) to say God gives a special "grace" to make reprobates THINK they are elect when in fact they are not."

TF:That's not what Calvin says. You ought to read him more carefully.


Nick: Where have I misread him? He speaks of men being led to believe they are elect, act elect, and even calls the grace 'evanescent'.

N:"All reasons a Calvinist can give are ultimately subjective, because unless they are truly elect their fruits, faith, etc, etc, are of a deceived (unregenerate) individual."

TF: The investigation of whether a particular subject is elect is inherently subjective. In fact, whether a particular subject is [x] is a subject question in general.


Nick: If it's inherently subjective then my point is conceded: the so called infallible assurance and peace championed against Catholics cannot be true.

N:"This brings rise to an even worse problem, that of ordaining ministers in Calvinism, because if there is no objective way of measuring election, one cannot know if their own minister is unregenerate or not, and if he's unregenerate then he cannot be a minister by definition."

TF: No, neither Calvinists nor even Romanists require that a minster be regenerate to be a minister in fact. We both recognize that some ministers are hypocrites, nevertheless they are still within the definition of ministers.


Nick: That's not correct: One cannot receive ordination in Catholic unless one is a Christian (which in Catholicism occurs at baptism, marking initial salvation). A similar thing must be true in Calvinism, because a non-Christian cannot hold (in any genuine sense) ecclesial office by definition. The problem is that there is no objective grounds by which to judge one's salvation status (be it 1st or 3rd person).

Christopher said...

TF,

I know the difference between Orthodox Christianity and Arianism. My point is that you saying they are different don't solve the problem. If creation and redemption/reprobation are decisions of God in eternity and the will is some internal movement on God's part, there is absolutely NO difference between the begetting of a son or the building of a house! You are left with the problem of Origen who realized he was in this corner and responded that the difference between the creation of souls in eternity and the begetting of the Son in eternity is a divine mystery. He takes it to its logical conclusion and something tells me he realized he had a problem just based on how he writes.

Chris