Monday, October 9, 2017

Roger Olson’s Critique of Calvinism



I came across a series of four interesting lectures by Roger Olson in defense of Arminianism, and in critique of Calvinism, the first of which can be seen above, and the rest below. I thought they were informative and well presented, and worth watching. The theology that he presents as an alternative to Calvinism is not perfect, but it is quite a remarkable achievement all the same.




Friday, September 1, 2017

What is Wrong With This Message by Matt Slick?



I came across the above video by Matt Slick, teaching the predictable “Reformed” theology of Evangelicalism, of which the following is a brief extract. At around 2:40 minutes into the video he says this:

“No law is a law without a penalty. The penalty for breaking the law of God is eternal damnation. Ezekiel 18:4 says: ‘The soul who sins will die.’ Isaiah 59:2 says: ‘But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God.’”

The implication of the above, in the context of his message, is that once you have “sinned,” you have had it! There is nothing that you can do to be rescued from that predicament, and escape eternal damnation, except to “believe” in Jesus, and rely on him to save you from it. Those scripture quotes, however, are one-sided, taken out of context, and do not tell the full story. The OT prophets never say that once you have sinned, you have had it, and you have no hope until you “believe”. They never teach the “faith alone” doctrine. What they consistently teach is that once you have sinned, you have had it unless you repent! The emphasis is always on repentance, rather than on “faith”—repentance meaning to turn away from evil and sin. Ezekiel for example says the following in the same chapter:

Ezekiel 18:

20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
22 All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.
23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

No “faith” is mentioned in there at all. Isaiah says the same thing:

Isaiah 1:

16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, [when you repent] they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, [when you repent] they shall be as wool.
19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:
20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

In the above passage, verse 18 is often quoted out of context, which distorts the meaning. It requires the context of the previous and succeeding verses for the meaning to be made clear. In other words their sins will be forgiven, and become “white as wool,” provided that they repent. Repentance is the only criterion that is mentioned. No faith, or anything else. A measure of faith may be implied, but it is not the primary element. Repentance is always the deciding factor. The emphasis is always on repentance, not faith. And that is what is taught by all the Old Testament prophets. They all teach the same thing. Here is an example from Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 22:

3 Thus saith the Lord; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.
4 For if ye do this thing indeed, then shall there enter in by the gates of this house kings sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people.
5 But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself, saith the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation.

None of them ever taught a “faith alone” doctrine. A particularly interesting example is the case of Jonah. The people of Nineveh were not even Israelites. They didn’t believe in the “God of Israel. They believed in their own generic version of a supreme Deity, whatever that was. Jonah did not preach to them “faith”. He did not try to “convert” them to the Israelite religion. He did not tell them to “believe in Jehovah” to be saved. He preached to them repentance. And when they repented, God forgave them. If they had any kind of “faith,” it was more like faith in the words of Jonah rather than anything else.

“Faith alone” is not biblical. In the Bible, it doesn’t matter what religion you are in. If you genuinely and sincerely repent of your evil doing, you will be forgiven. Daniel taught the same thing to King Nebuchadnezzar, who was a heathen:

Daniel 4:

27 Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.

He didn’t try to “convert him to Jehovah;” just advising him to repent. That is what they all teach, in the Old as well as the New Testaments (e.g. Rom. 2:6–16; Gal. 6:7–10; Acts 10:34–35). “Faith alone” is the doctrine of the devil. It is Satanic. It is an abomination. It is a heresy invented by the arch heretics of the Reformation, like Luther and Calvin and the rest. It damns anybody who goes anywhere near it.

Friday, July 21, 2017

“Free Grace”—John Wesley vs. George Whitefield



I came across the above video in which at around 40:30 minutes into the discussion RC Sproul Jr makes reference to a sermon preached by John Wesley in 1740 called “Free Grace” (Sermon 128), and a response given to it by George Whitefield in these words:

“What is interesting about the question is that it contrasts across time; and we actually have a powerful historical illustration of what Dr Sproul was saying if we connect with one of those guys: Wesley and Whitefield—had in their own lives the outworking of I think … an appropriate response to this issue. As you know, the two of them worked very closely together in the whole Methodist movement; they worked together very well in the great revival; but eventually Wesley ended up preaching a sermon that was not quite as bad as Jimmy Swaggart’s, but it was rather strongly condemnatory of the biblical doctrine of election. Whitefield responded with one of the actual best historical arguments against the Arminian position. It is short, it is well written, it is easy to read, and it is just really powerful. Whitefield’s response to Wesley was just magnificent and gracious. But it was strong. …”

Both Wesley’s sermon as well as Whitefield’s response are freely available on the Internet (see links below). I became interested, so I read both, and found that Wesley’s argument was far more cogent, coherent, logical, biblical, and persuasive than Whitefield’s. Whitefield’s argument is often circular and inconsistent, and boils down to accusing Wesley of teaching “universalism” which he doesn’t. On further research I have found no evidence that Wesley was a universalist, or ever believed or taught universalism. Belief in a universal or unlimited Atonement does not translate into “universalism”—much as Calvinists and Reformed theologians would like to portray it as such. This particular sermon by Wesley is in fact a very cogent and persuasive argument against the Reformed doctrine of predestination and unconditional election etc. It shows how well Wesley understood the Bible. George Whitefield doesn’t even come close to answering it properly. Wesley’s sermon is a logical, biblical, and damning indictment of Calvinism and Reformed theology which Whitefield basically does not have a good answer to.

Wesley’s original sermon (Sermon 128) is available in various formats from several places such as in html here, and an audio version of it on YouTube hereHis collection of sermons (including Sermon 128) are also available in PDF format from here and hereGeorge Whitefield’s response to John Wesley is available from several places on the Internet such as a PDF version here, and an audio version here. I recommend John Wesley’s sermon as an excellent refutation of the heresy of Calvinism and Reformed theology. George Whitefield does not have a valid answer to it. I also found a documentary about the life of John Wesley that can be seen here. It doesn’t discuss his theology, only his life story, which is also interesting and worth watching.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Tension Between Calvinism and the Gospel



I came across the above interview with John MacArthur, titled: “The Tension Between Calvinism and the Gospel”. That is a strange title. Describing the relationship between Calvinism and the gospel in terms of a “tension” is curiously optimistic. Calvinism is the antithesis of the gospel of Jesus Christ; it is the very negation of it. And an analysis of this interview in that regard will prove instructive. The interviewer begins by asking him the following question:

“Well, speaking of that; and it is perfect transition into the first question that we had several of, and that relates to last night in your discussions about the atonement; and the question is, If that is true [i.e. the Calvinistic doctrine of limited atonement, unconditional election, and predestination to salvation and damnation], then why witness [i.e. proselytize]? How do we tell people God loves them, and that Jesus Christ did not die for them? Or do we tell them that?”

To this John MacArthur gives the following reply:

“Well, you tell them whatever the Bible tells you to tell them; and the Bible tells you to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. And that is what you do because that is what the scripture says.”

That is a disingenuous response, and dodges the question. The question being asked is, What kind of gospel message do you give them? Do you tell them that Jesus died for, and atoned for their sins, or don’t you? What if they are not among the “elect,” according to Calvinistic theology; and Jesus didn’t in fact die for them, and didn’t atone for their sins? Then you would be lying to tell them that he did! That is the question that is being asked. Dodging the question doesn’t help.

The commandment of God in the Bible is, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). And the “gospel” is the good news that Jesus has died for, and atoned for their sins. If in fact he didn’t (according to Calvinism), and you tell them that he did, then you are lying, and making God to be a liar too. If Calvinism makes God a liar, then it cannot be of God. If the Bible tells you to go and preach the gospel to everyone without exception, telling them that Jesus died for and atoned for their sins—when in fact he didn’t according to Calvinism—that is preaching a lie according to Calvinism. Either God is lying, or Calvinism is false, take your pick. You can’t believe the Bible and Calvinism at the same time. He continues:

“Any tension you have between that and the nature of the atonement; any tension you have between that and the doctrine of divine election and predestination; any tension you feel in those areas, I feel. I feel the same tension. I ask the same question.”

I am sure he does; but that doesn’t get him off the hook for accepting and preaching a false theology. There is no “tension” in the Bible. The “tension” exists when you believe in a false theology that is contrary to the Bible. When that happens, the solution is to ditch the theology, not endure the “tension”. And his smug, self-confident, “I am right” attitude isn’t going to help him either. He continues:

“I don’t know that there’s some kind of quick answer to the question.”

There is! The quick answer is that Calvinism is false. It is not biblical. He continues:

“I am, however, happy to concede that God can resolve things that I can’t. Really!”

Even God can’t resolve Calvinism. The only way to resolve Calvinism is to ditch it. And that is what he needs to do, not God. God didn’t invent Calvinism; he picked it up from somewhere else. He continues:

“I don’t expect of you, and you shouldn’t expect of me, to be able to unscrew the inscrutable. You really don’t think that I’m going to solve all the vast theological dilemmas that have existed since the scriptures were penned.”

Calvinism is not a “theological dilemma” that needs to be “resolved;” it is a heresy that needs to be abandoned. Calvinism is heretical and false all the way through. There is absolutely nothing right about Calvinism. Ditching his false theology of Calvinism is the only option he has. At this point the interviewer retorts: “Actually some people do!” to which John MacArthur replies:

“Yeah! The best answer to this question is, My brother, I feel your pain! That is the best answer to that question.”

That is his pain, not my pain! I believe what the Bible teaches; and there is no “pain” in that. The pain comes when you try to reconcile his false theology with the Bible, and the two are irreconcilable. I don’t have that problem, so I don’t have any “pain”. His attempt at imputing his “pain” to everybody else doesn’t solve his problem. Nobody can take painkillers on his behalf. He will have to take them for himself. He continues:

“I’m not here to give you an answer, but I will tell you this: I do not believe that Jesus died for nobody; I believe he died for somebody; and I believe he died specifically for those who would believe in him. And those who believe in him are those who are regenerated by the Holy Spirit based upon the eternal sovereign electing purpose of God.”

The Bible says that he died for everybody; and that “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). How hard is that to understand? He continues:

“I think his atonement was an actual one, not a potential one. I don’t think it was a general one, I think it was a specific one. I think it was a real death for sin. The issue here is the nature of the atonement.”

No idea where he gets those strange words and ideas from. Calvinism has led him far astray! The Atonement is actual and potential, specific and general, and everything else that it can be and needs to be. Some aspects of the Atonement are indeed universal. The resurrection is universal. Everybody will be resurrected, the wicked as well as the righteous: “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). Salvation and eternal life, however, depends on their faithfulness. Jesus’ Atonement makes it possible for everyone to be saved. The choice is theirs: “they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:29). The choice, the decision is theirs. That is why the gospel is preached to everyone, not just to the “elect”. How hard is that to understand? He continues:

“Forget the dilemma; you are going to have the dilemma no matter what you do.”

No you don’t! The dilemma exists only if you believe in Calvinism, and try to reconcile that with the Bible: which are irreconcilable. There is no “dilemma” within the biblical teaching. He continues:

“The dilemma is, Why didn’t he send everybody to heaven? The dilemma is, Why is there hell, and why are people going there? That is a legitimately difficult question to ask.”

That is Calvinism’s dilemma. It is not the gospel’s dilemma, or the Bible’s dilemma. The Bible tells you why there is a heaven and a hell, and why there are people going there. John 5:29 quoted above (and lots more scriptures like it) gives the answer. Why that is so hard for Calvinists to understand, I have no idea. He continues:

“The only answer I can give you is that if God purposed to do that—Romans 9—who are we to question his purpose? If he gets glory from judgment the way he gets glory from salvation, who are we to question that?”

But what if he doesn’t? What if it is his Calvinistic theology that is wrong? His real difficulty is that he is too sold out to Calvinism to allow for that possibility, and get in line with the Bible. He continues:

“The other issue is, nobody goes to hell for any other reason than that they are guilty of sin and unbelief. How that fits, I don’t know.”

He doesn’t know because his theology has led him astray. If one sticks with the Bible, that question doesn’t even arise. That problem is the byproduct of Calvinism and predestination, which are not biblical. He continues:

“But there are a lot of things I don’t know. I’ve said this so many times. I don’t even know how my own spiritual life works. I don’t! Look, Paul says in Galatians 2:20, I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I. He didn’t know either. He didn’t know! So you know if you have I asked you the question, who lives your spirit, who lives your Christian life, who lives your spiritual life, who is in charge of your spiritual life? Well some of us are going to rise and say, Well it is the Holy Spirit. I don’t really think you want to blame him! And if it is all the Holy Spirit, what are all the commands in the Bible about? And yet … you know, you must obey; and the Spirit must work; and it is the mystery of how that comes together. It is the same issue between the security of the believer held in the father’s hand, and the necessity of perseverance of faith, a persevering faith. It is the same issue that we have in the in the volitional aspects of salvation and in the sovereign aspects. There is a sort of a resolution in the center of that that is known only in the mind of God. But I will not resolve the problem of the lost any other way than to do what the scripture tells me to do, and that is that the Bible affirms to me that God loves the world, the specific people in the world, the specific human beings. I don’t know who they are. Spurgeon said, If you will pull up their shirts and show me an E stamped on their back, and I know the elect, I’ll limit my work to them. But since there is no such stamp, I am committed to obey the command to preach the gospel to every creature.”

The reason why the commandment is to preach the gospel to “every creature,” is that every creature is capable of being saved. That is why the “preaching” has two effects: it not only saves those who believe (and repent); it also damns those who don’t. That is why the responsibility is to preach the gospel to everyone, not just to the “elect”. If the gospel was only preached to the “elect,” the rest would have an excuse. They would say on judgement day, “We never heard!” “Nobody told us!” Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17). If they never heard the word of God, they would have an excuse for not believing. That is why the “elect” are not “predestined”. The “elect” become the “elect” by their own choice—by hearing, believing, and repenting. That is why there is no “E” stamp on anyone’s back. No one is “predestined” to be the elect. All have the ability to be, if they would believe and repent. It is their choice. That is why the gospel is preached to everyone, so that the “unbelievers” (by their own choice) are left without excuse—while the “believers” (by their own choice) are saved. The fact that God knows ahead of time who will believe and who won’t (and “elects” them accordingly), does not make them “predestined”. He continues:

“And I can say to them that the love of God has been expressed through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross, and you will know and experience that love if you put your faith in Him.”

Unless they are among “reprobate” rather than the “elect,” in which case they are out of luck before they start, according to Calvinism! He continues:

“And if you don’t do that, you’ll perish in your sins; and Jesus said, You will perish in your sins because you believe not on me.”

Unless they are among the “elect,” in which case they won’t have to worry about that, and he will be wasting his time! He continues:

“I am very comfortable to just take the biblical aspect; but I don’t think it is a good solution to diminish the nature of the atonement, and have Jesus dying for everybody.”

What “diminishes the nature of the Atonement” is to say that Jesus didn’t die for everybody, when the Bible says that he did. That is the greatest “diminution” of the Atonement that has been invented so far. He continues:

“If you say that he paid in full the penalty for all the sins of all the world, then what does anybody doing in hell?”

Because the Atonement saves people on condition of repentance. There is no scripture that says that the Atonement saves people unconditionally. Faith and repentance are necessary prerequisites. And repentance is a volitional act. We decide whether to repent or not; God doesn’t do it for us. And repentance is made possible by the Atonement. If there had been no Atonement, no one would be saved, with or without repentance. The Atonement brings about the condition of repentance, which makes it possible for people to repent and be saved. But the choice is theirs.

The reason why he thinks that a universal Atonement would necessitate a universal salvation is because his theology is based on predestination. The will of the creature plays no part in his salvation or damnation. All has been predestined and predetermined by God beforehand. God has predetermined who will be saved and who will be damned, and there is nothing that anybody can do to change that. And God has only atoned for the sins of the “elect” who are “predestined” to be saved. Under those criteria, a universal or unlimited Atonement would necessitate a universal salvation. The only trouble with that is that it is not biblical. Predestination is a damnable heresy. There is no other way to describe it. It is false. He continues:

“That is double jeopardy. That doesn’t work.”

Why? He needs to explain that. He continues:

“So people don’t want to say that, so they say, Well, he died a potentially saving death. In that sense he died for nobody in particular, and everybody in general; and the sinner who is depraved is the one who activates the potential atonement. Well that is impossible.”

People “don’t want to say” what? And what is “impossible”? He died for everyone in general, and everyone in particular. There is no sense of the term in which he didn’t “die for everyone”. The Bible places conditions for salvation and redemption. It is not unconditional. That is written all over the Bible. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5). “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven …” (Matt. 7:21–22). “… they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life …” (John 5:29). The list is endless. The Bible does not teach Calvinism. Calvinism and the Bible are diametrically opposed. Calvinism is abhorrent to everything that is taught in the Bible. He continues:

“So I just don’t want to find the answer to the dilemma of the death of Christ by diminishing the nature of the atonement.”

He has already diminished the nature of the Atonement by denying its universality and unlimited nature. He continues:

“It is a real death for those who died in him. That is what the text says. ‘I lay down my life for my sheep,’ and we looked at that.”

There are two answers to that. Firstly, a primary rule of sound biblical exegesis is that you don’t take a verse in isolation. You examine it in the context of other biblical passages that have a bearing on the same subject; and there are many more verses in the Bible that teach an unambiguous universal or unlimited Atonement, such as these:


Secondly, although Jesus’ Atonement is unlimited and universal, only those benefit from it who will believe and repent—whom he calls his “sheep”. The rest don’t. Therefore when he says that he “lays down his life for his sheep,” that is a rhetorical way of acknowledging his sheep. It does not mean that the Atonement was limited to his sheep. He continues:

“So it is a good question to answer because you guys want to be very careful in the tensions that are in this; and it flows through every major doctrine in Scripture that connects the sinner with God.”

The “tension” only exists when you believe in his false theology. There is no “tension” in the biblical narrative. He continues:

“You don’t want to resolve that tension by asking philosophical questions. You always want to live in that tension by being obedient to Scripture, okay?”

That is his way of saying, “Don’t ask hard questions which challenges my false theology which I don’t have answers to!” He continues:

“But I do feel your pain because I don’t have an answer to all those questions; and I’m at times profoundly exercised over the non-resolution, because I like to find the resolution to things.”

That is his “pain,” not my pain. And the cause of his pain is his false theology. The Bible does have an answer to those questions; it is his false theology that stands in the way. Ditch that, and his “pain” will disappear fast. At this point the interviewer asks him this question:

“But the issue on why witness, you wouldn’t suggest bringing up the discussion of the limitations of the atonement in a witnessing context?”

To this he replies:

“I think we have to be careful of what we say. I think there are unlimited benefits tied into the atonement. You can show in the New Testament that you know the expression of God’s love in the atonement is the expression of the same love that is demonstrated in common grace. He rains, you know, on the just and the unjust. There is common grace, there is a kindness of God; there is even a salvation of God, demonstrating in the temporal way. He is the Savior of all men, temporally, physically, in this sense that the world is full of sinners who aren’t dead. What is that? That God is saying to them, You don’t get what you deserve, when you deserve it; that is my nature. So that demonstration is there for them to see temporarily.”

I see! So those who are predestined to be damned should still be grateful to God because he did not damn them fast enough! How very generous of God! I am sure those who are predestined to be damned will be very appreciative of God’s generosity and goodness towards them. LOL! What a joke. He continues:

“But especially of those who believe, he is the Savior of them not temporarily and not physically, but eternally and spiritually. But he puts his saving nature on display even in the gospel offer, and in common grace, and in the withholding of judgment. And so I think we can say to sinners that God is merciful, and God is compassionate, and God calls you to repent, and calls you to believe, and he has offered his son as a sacrifice for those who do, and that is the way I would say it.”

Unless they are predestined to be damned, and know that there is nothing that they can do to change it! I wonder what his answer will be to Acts 10:34–35: “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.”

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

“A New Apostle!”—R.C. Sproul



In a message board in which I occasionally post, my attention was drawn to a podcast in the “Renewing Your Mind” series on the Ligonier website called “A New Apostle” seen above, in which RC Sproul tries to argue that there cannot be any true Apostles today in the biblical sense, because no one today meets the criteria. But the argument he brings in support of that is a hypocritical one. At first he says that there are three criteria that need to be met before one can legitimately claim to be an Apostle, which he says none of the modern “claimants” to that office now possess. Then he proceeds to admit that Paul was a true Apostle who also did not fulfill that criteria—which invalidates the earlier claim. Then he continues with his original claim which he has just invalidated as if nothing had happened. LOL! He is kidding, right? That simply exposes the hypocrisy and dishonesty of his argument. If his argument is valid, then Paul was not a true Apostle either. If, however, Paul was a true Apostle, then his argument against modern Apostles by the same token becomes invalid. He is exercising sleight of hand. He knows that the story of Paul would invalidate his argument, so he tries to pre-empt that by telling us about it ahead of time in the hope of forestalling that objection before it is made! He thinks that people are stupid and can’t see though that. Well, Evangelicals and Calvinists may be, but nobody else is.

Now that does not mean that there may not be many false claims to the apostolic office today. That may very well be the case. But just because there are false Apostles today, it does not follow that there cannot be true ones; just as the existence of false prophets today does not mean that there cannot be true ones. But his argument that there cannot be true Apostles today is invalidated by his own logic, which makes it both hypocritical and dishonest. As an aside, he may have also overlooked the following verses:

Ephesians 4:

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

In these verses the office of Apostle is listed along side the other offices as required for the ministry of the Church. You can’t argue that the office of Apostle was abolished, but the rest of them remained. That would be an arbitrary assumption without any scriptural validation. Why pick on the offices of Apostle and prophet, but not on the offices of evangelist, pastor, or teacher? Either all of them were done away, or none of them were done away. The scripture says that all of them are required “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”. You can’t arbitrarily pick the ones you like, and leave out the ones you don’t. And notice that they are listed in the order of importance. The most important offices come first, and the less important ones come last. You can’t cut out the most important offices, and leave the less important ones remaining. You either cut out all of them, or keep all of them—unless, of course, you have lost the most important ones, and have no way of getting them back!

Actually, they have lost all of the offices, and have no way of getting them back. The reason why they have kept the lesser officers (in name) is because they are easy to fake; but the offices of Apostle and prophet are not so easy to fake; so the solution is to deny them altogether. The truth of course is that all of the ecclesiastical officers mentioned in Ephesians 4:11–13 require divine appointment and authorization. The original ones were called and ordained, by the spirit of prophecy and revelation, by the original Apostles, who had the legitimate authority from God (see 1 Tim. 4:14). Where there are no genuine Apostles, there cannot be genuine evangelists, pastors, or teachers either, because there is no one with proper authority to appoint and ordain them. The authority was lost when the original church apostatized, which authority has now been restored in the LDS Church.

Also, the Apostle Paul was almost certainly called to succeed James, who was put to death by Herod. There is no historical data that suggests that the latter came before the former, contrary to RC Sproul’s claim.

That podcast, by the way, is an abridged and jumbled up version of an earlier talk he gave, the full version of which be found here.
_________________

P.S.

After I had posted the above message, it was brought to my attention that in his original lecture RC Sproul had not attempted to “pre-empt” the challenge of Paul’s conversion; but that his original lecture had been poorly edited for the purpose of the “Renewing Your Mind” podcast that made it look like that! Therefore my accusation of dishonesty on his part was unjustified. After listening carefully to his original lecture, I came to the conclusion that that was a valid observation. That is not how it had been in his original lecture. Those who had edited it for the podcast had done him a disservice by making it look like that. The bits that were edited out occur in the following passage, with the cut-out bits highlighted:

“There is a reason why three times in the book of Acts Paul’s call to be an Apostle is recited as we will look at when that occurs in the text, when Christ himself directly and immediately calls Paul to be an Apostle. But even then—you see, that is why people say today, ‘Hey, Paul got to be an Apostle without being part of the entourage of Jesus during his earthly ministry; Paul got to be an Apostle without being an eyewitness of the resurrection; why can’t I? Why can’t Benny Hinn be an Apostle?’ People claim all the time that they have the credentials of an Apostle today because God called them, or God spoke to them; and God said, ‘You can be my Apostle to this generation.’ But even when Paul did not have the first two of the criteria, he was instructed to go back to the Jerusalem to be confirmed in that office by those about whom there was no doubt of the fullness of their credentials. You see, I can say I have a call to be an Apostle today; but there is nobody left to confirm me. That is why the early church by the end of the first century, the sub-apostolic fathers clearly understood the difference between their authority in the church, and the authority of the original Apostles; because after the last Apostle died there were still teachers, there were ministers, there were preachers, there were evangelists, but no more Apostles.”

So I take back the accusation of dishonesty. That was not his original intent. The cut-out bits distort what he had originally said. Those who had edited his lecture for the purpose of the podcast had done him a disservice. They had made him look more dishonest than he is! But the rest of the criticisms that I had made of his main argument, that there cannot be any true Apostles today because no one can fulfill the necessary requirements, are still valid. Just as Paul was able to fulfill the requirements, so can people today, when they are properly called and appointed by Jesus Christ as Paul had been.

But to briefly comment on the above passage, however, it is not correct to say that Paul had not fulfilled the second criterion for being an Apostle by not being an “eyewitness” of Christ’s resurrection. He was an eyewitness, although not at the same time as the original Apostles; but he was still an eyewitness, because Jesus appeared to him more than once after his resurrection. The “timing” is not important. Anyone who has the experience of Jesus appearing to him after his resurrection, is an eyewitness of his resurrection, it makes no difference when that happens. If Jesus appeared to me tomorrow, I can claim to be an eyewitness of his resurrection, even though it is 2,000 years afterwards.

As far as the legitimacy of the apostolic claims of people living in our time is concerned, I can only vouch for the LDS claims, not anybody else’s. There is only one true Church on earth today that has true prophets and Apostles, and that is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Nobody else does. And they got their authority originally by a revelation to Joseph Smith, and subsequently by succession to the present day. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received their ordination under the hand of Peter, James, and John, who appeared to them as resurrected beings and ordained them; and they in turn ordained others. Since then the office has continued in the Church by succession. Since the authority already existed in the Church to ordain new Apostles, it could be perpetuated indefinitely without the need for a new ordination by a special revelation from heaven. That is how we have true Apostles today. And they have the same authority that the original Apostles had; no difference.

Monday, June 26, 2017

“Predestination” and “Faith-alone”—the Twin Pillars of Calvinism



Calvinism may have five “points,” but it actually has two pillars on which it rests: they are predestination, and justification by faith alone without works. Demolish these two, and you have destroyed Calvinism forever—which is not at all difficult to do. Both concepts are deeply unbiblical and heretical, and can be easily disproved with reference to the Bible, as I have already demonstrated in my previous posts. Every verse and every passage in the Bible which directly or indirectly exhorts mankind to do good and refrain from evil, with the promise of a reward or punishment, in this world or the next, is a verdict against both predestination and faith-aloneand there are hundreds of them. Every one of them is a nail in the coffin of Calvinism. When Isaiah says:

Isaiah 1: 

19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:
20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

That is a verdict against both predestination and faith-alone, and a nail in the coffin of Calvinism. When Jesus says, “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5), that is a verdict against both predestination and faith-alone, and a nail in the coffin of Calvinism. When Jesus mourns over Jerusalem and says: 

Matthew 23:

37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

That is a verdict against both predestination and faith-alone, and a nail in the coffin of Calvinism. The whole of the Sermon on the Mount is a verdict against predestination and faith-alone, and a nail in the coffin of Calvinism. Every verse in the Bible that says that mankind will be judged according to their “works” (John 5:28–29; Rom. 2:6; 1 Cor. 4:5; 2 Cor. 5:10; Col. 3:25; 1 Peter 1:17; Rev. 20:12–13; Psalm 62:12; Prov. 24:12), is a verdict against both predestination and faith-alone, and a nail in the coffin of Calvinism. The whole of the Bible, Old and New Testaments, from the beginning to the end, from Genesis to Revelation, is a verdict against predestination and faith-alone, and a nail (hundreds of nails in fact) in the coffin of Calvinism.

There is actually a third pillar that holds up Calvinism; but it is an invisible one; and it is not theological. The third pillar is dishonesty, deception, hypocrisy, subterfuge, aggression, and guile. Those are the pillars that hold up Calvinism. Demolish those, and you have destroyed Calvinism for good—which is an easy thing to do.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Why We Can Choose God!



I came across the above video clip, recently published by Ligonier Ministries, and taken from an older teaching material by RC Sproul, in which he discusses the doctrine of freewill from a Reformed or Calvinistic point of view. The title of the clip is, “Why We Can’t Choose God”. I think, however, that we can choose God! And I will be happy to show him how. The video contains the typical Calvinistic theological errors dealing with the subject of freewill. The video, plus a written transcript of it can also be seen on the Ligonier website hereBut the transcript appears to have been taken from YouTube’s automatic transcription algorithm without proper editing, and therefore contains a number of errors that I had to correct. It is a short video clip, so I will quote the entire transcript as I discuss it. This is what he says:

“I was interviewed yesterday for a series of programs that were being presented about Reformed theology, and the person who was running this program asked me what the basic issue was between Augustinian theology or Reformed theology and historic semi-Pelagianism? I said I think it comes down to a different understanding of freedom and of freewill. I think the principle problem that people have with divine sovereignty, with divine election, is immediately they say, ‘Well, we believe that man has freewill.’ Well, I don’t know any Augustinian in all of church history who didn’t strongly affirm that we have freewill. We are volitional creatures. God has given us minds and hearts, and He has given us wills. And we exercise that will all the time. We make choices every minute of the day, and we choose what we want. We choose freely. Nobody’s coercing us, putting a gun to our head—we’re not robots. Robots don’t have minds. Robots don’t have wills. Robots don’t have hearts. We’re human beings. We make choices.”

That is a disingenuous, if not less than honest statement. The Calvinistic idea of “freewill” is nothing more than a pretense. It is a fake freewill. It pretends to be freewill, when it isn’t. The Calvinistic idea of freewill (as articulated by RC Sproul himself; see my most recent previous posts) is that people are free to make choices; but their choices are driven by, and hence limited to, those which they have an “inclination” towards—which is another way of saying that they don’t really have a choice! There are two kinds of choices that people can make: moral choices and a-moral choices. Moral choices are those which have moral implication: they are either “right” or “wrong”. A-moral choices don’t have moral implications​, such as which tie I should wear when I go to work this morning. This discussion is about moral choices. RC Sproul’s argument amounts to saying that people are incapable of making moral choices. The choices they make are determined by their “inclination” towards that choice, rather than based on a moral judgement of the “rights” and “wrongs” of the case—which is another way of saying that they don’t have a choice at all. They don’t have a moral compass which tells them which choice is morally “right” and which is morally “wrong,” and decide for themselves which one to take on that basis. They​ go by whichever choice they are “inclined” towards. That amounts​ to a denial of moral agency of the creature altogether. It means that they are incapable of acting as free moral agents—which is a complete negation of “freewill,” and contrary to both experience as well as the teachings of the Bible.

Calvinists are not honest in the presentation of their theology. They try to paint a respectable picture of it by hiding its true character. The truth is that in Calvinism there is no freewill at all, not even of the a-moral kind! It is predestination and predetermination all the way through. Its tenets demand absolute predestination at the most basic level. That is what Calvinist theology inevitably leads to when carried to its logical conclusion. The Calvinistic doctrine of “divine sovereignty” and “divine election” necessitate predestination of the most extreme kind. RC Sproul knows this, but he doesn’t want to admit it. He wants to sugarcoat it to make it more palatable rather than present it in its true colors. He continues:

“That’s why we’re in trouble with God, because the choices that we make in our fallen condition are sinful choices. We choose according to our desires which are only wicked continuously, the Bible tells us; and that we are as it were dead in sin and trespasses, even though biologically we are very much alive. And we are walking according to the course of this world, according to the Prince of the power of the air—fulfilling the lusts of the flesh is what the Bible tells us.”

That is what Calvinism teaches, but not what the Bible teaches. What the Bible teaches is very different from what Calvinism teaches. This is what the Bible teaches:

Romans 2:

6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;
13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law [i.e. pagans, unbelievers, like the Greeks and Romans of his day], do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another;)
16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

Galatians 6:

7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Acts 10:

34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
35 But in every nation [and religion] he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

That does not square with Calvinism which RC Sproul is articulating. It is a complete negation of it. He continues:

“And so the Bible makes it very clear that we are actively involved in making choices for which we are responsible, and which expose us to the judgment of God. And yet at the same time, the Bible teaches us that we are enslaved. We are free from coercion, but we don’t have what Augustine called “royal liberty.” We are not free from ourselves. We’re not free from our own sinful inclinations, and our sinful appetites, and our sinful desires. We’re slaves to our sinful impulses. That’s what the Bible teaches us again, and again, and again.”

That is what Calvinism teaches “again, and again, and again,” not the Bible. Confusing Calvinism with the Bible is not a good​ idea. He continues:

“The humanist doctrine of freewill, the pagan view of freewill, says that man is free not only from coercion, but man is free in the sense that his will is indifferent. It has no predisposition, or inclination, bias, or bent towards sin because the pagan and the humanist deny the radical character of the fall.”

That is just a slander against those who have a different theological perspective from him. He is basically saying, “If you disagree with me theologically, you are a humanist or a pagan!” Not so! I don’t have to be a humanist or a pagan to disagree with his false theology. I don’t know what the “pagan” or “humanist” doctrine of freewill is, and I am not interested either. What I do know, and is obvious to see, is that If you strip the slander out of that statement, what you are left with is a statement that says: “Mankind are fallen, therefore they are incapable of making right moral choices.” If that was true, nobody in the world would be making any right moral choices—yet we know that they do. The majority of mankind for the most part are making right moral choices. If that statement was true, Rom. 2:6–16; Gal. 6:7–10; Acts 10:34–35 could never be true; yet the Bible says that it is true. James says, Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17) To sin, you must know that you are sinning. You must sin wilfully. If you don’t know that you are sinning, then you are not sinning. If you don’t know the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, and choose the wrong, then you are not sinning. That is what James says.

All mankind are endowed by their Creator with a moral compass which enables them to discern good from evil, right from wrong, moral choice from immoral choice; and which makes them accountable before God for the choices that they make. It is the “light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (John 1:9). If that were not the case, they could not act as free moral agents, nor could they be held accountable before God for the decisions that they make. Their ability to make right moral choices can be impaired by their upbringing, or by their cultural environment. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). But it cannot be completely lost. In general, most mankind have a basic understanding of right and wrong which enables them to act as free moral agents, and which makes them accountable before God for the choices that they make. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (see Matt. 7:12; Luke 6:31; Mark 12:31). That is known as the “Golden Rule” that everyone instinctively understands; a variation of which exists in every major culture and religion. He continues:

“But the Bible teaches us that we are fallen creatures who still choose and make decisions, but we make them in the context of our prison of sin. And the only way we can get out of that prison is if God sets us free.”

That is not true. The Bible belies that statement. It is a negation of Rom. 2:6–16; Gal. 6:7–10; Acts 10:34–35, and of everything else that is taught in the Bible. If that statement was true, nobody would be making right moral choices. Throughout the Bible, however, mankind are enjoined to do good and refrain from evil, with the assurance that God is “no respecter of persons,” and that he will judge everyone on an equal basis according to their “works”: “they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5: 29). That is written all over the Bible. The underlying implication of that is that mankind are capable of making such moral choices, otherwise the exhortations become hypocritical and deceitful, and make out God to be a dishonest hypocrite. Calvinists have to disregard 99% of the Bible in order to arrive at their heretical false theology based on a few misconstrued passages of Paul.

Going back to the title of the video clip, however: “Why We Can’t Choose God,” I think we need to examine some biblical passages with reference to that:

Acts 17:

26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

That “seeking” (choosing), and “finding” is available to everyone without exception. No one is exempted or excluded. There is no “partiality” with God. He does not have any “favorites”. He is “no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34–35). But seeking and choosing God is not something​ that happens in a vacuum. There has to be some preliminary introductions. Before you get to know somebody, you normally have to be introduced:

Romans​ 10:

14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent?

To be “sent” in verse 15 means sent directly by God. Nobody “sends” himself. No one “taketh this honor unto himself” (Heb. 5:4). There are no “self-appointed” ministries​ here. Those who are thus ordained and “sent” from God speak with power and authority from God, and the Holy Spirit bears witness to the truth of their message. That instils faith and conviction in the hearts of those who hear—unless they choose to “harden their hearts” (Heb. 3:8). But the choice is entirely theirs. There is no coercion, compulsion, or predestination. And everyone can choose God. There is absolutely no bar to anyone “choosing God”. It is the abominable heresy of Calvinism which says that nobody can “choose God” unless God makes them to.

Calvinism is the greatest perversion of the gospel that has ever been invented since Christianity came into existence. It is Satanic. It leads to utter ruin and damnation of anyone who goes anywhere near it—unless they repent of the evil, and never go back to it again.