Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Was Luther Guilty of anti-Semitism?

I was watching the above video in which at 35:45 minutes the following question was asked:

“Was Luther guilty of anti-Semitism?”

To this Stephen Nichols gives the following reply:

“You know, this is a question you hear a lot, and I think we have got to look at the broad context to Luther, and then we need to say that we need to understand him in that context, but we also need to not give him a free pass. So the first thing that we see in Luther is, his initial writings to the Jewish people are very favorable. He actually is counter-cultural in that, and he goes against the current consensus, and actually favors a good treatment towards the Jews.”

That was very kind of him, I am sure! While it is true that initially he appeared to be favorably disposed towards the Jews, it was not without ulterior motives, and it didn’t last very long. When he discovered that he could not get what he wanted, he soon turned against them, became more anti-Semitic than people generally were at the time, and got worse and worse as time went by until his death (as the quotes below will demonstrate). His anti-Semitism was in the extreme. It was murderous and criminal. 

His initial support for the Jews was not so much “counter-cultural” as it was counter-Catholic. That was his way of finding something else on which to disagree with the Catholic Church—in the hope that the Jews in turn would return the favor and support his false theology. But when he discovered that they didn’t he turned against them, and became more vicious, venomous, and hateful in his anti-Semitism than the Catholic Church had ever been. Stephen then continues:

“And as the Reformation went on and a few years went on, Luther fully thought that that good treatment towards the Jews would result in their paying attention to the gospel and coming to Christ, and he was not seeing that happen; and he began to question that perhaps he was too easy on them in his initial writings, and should have pressed more in order for them to be more aware, and perhaps be challenged, and then come after the gospel.”

LOL! He advocated murdering the Jews, burning down their homes, confiscating their goods, putting them in concentration camps, and driving them out of the country. He was not out to do them any favors. “Join my (false) religion or die” is not God’s way of converting people. Stephen then continues:

“So his early writings are very favorable. He begins to think through this though in his later writings; and the writing that really trips Luther up is his On the Jews and Their Detestable Lies; and it is in that writing that Luther unleashes his rhetoric against the Jews, and is very forceful in his rhetoric.”

That is painting a very rosy picture of it. It was more than just rhetoric. He advocated a murderous persecution of the Jews which was carried out by his followers both in his lifetime as well as after his death. There is a direct link between Luther and the Nazi persecution of the Jews. The following quotes are are taken from an article in Wikipedia titled: “Martin Luther and antisemitism”. (The article includes links to other articles in Wikipedia that provide more information on Luther’s writings.)

“In a paragraph from his On the Jews and Their Lies he deplores Christendom’s failure to expel them. Moreover he proposed ‘What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews:’

  • ‘First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools … This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians …’
  • ‘Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed.’
  • ‘Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them.’
  • ‘Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb …’
  • ‘Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside …’
  • ‘Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them …’
  • ‘Seventh, I recommend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow … But if we are afraid that they might harm us or our wives, children, servants, cattle, etc., … then let us emulate the common sense of other nations such as France, Spain, Bohemia, etc., … then eject them forever from the country …’”

• • •
“Luther successfully campaigned against the Jews in Saxony, Brandenburg, and Silesia. In August 1536 Luther’s prince, Elector of Saxony John Frederick, issued a mandate that prohibited Jews from inhabiting, engaging in business in, or passing through his realm. An Alsatian shtadlan, Rabbi Josel of Rosheim, asked a reformer Wolfgang Capito to approach Luther in order to obtain an audience with the prince, but Luther refused every intercession. In response to Josel, Luther referred to his unsuccessful attempts to convert the Jews: ‘… I would willingly do my best for your people, but I will not contribute to your [Jewish] obstinacy by my own kind actions. You must find another intermediary with my good lord.’ Heiko Oberman notes this event as significant in Luther’s attitude toward the Jews: ‘Even today, this refusal is often judged to be the decisive turning point in Luther’s career from friendliness to hostility toward the Jews.’

“Josel of Rosheim, who tried to help the Jews of Saxony, wrote in his memoir that their situation was ‘due to that priest whose name was Martin Luther—may his body and soul be bound up in hell!!—who wrote and issued many heretical books in which he said that whoever would help the Jews was doomed to perdition.’ Robert Michael, Professor Emeritus of European History at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, writes that Josel asked the city of Strasbourg to forbid the sale of Luther’s anti-Jewish works; they refused initially, but relented when a Lutheran pastor in Hochfelden argued in a sermon that his parishioners should murder Jews.”
• • •
“Luther’s main works on the Jews were his 65,000-word treatise Von den Juden und Ihren Lügen (On the Jews and Their Lies) and Vom Schem Hamphoras und vom Geschlecht Christi (Of the Unknowable Name and the Generations of Christ)—reprinted five times within his lifetime—both written in 1543, three years before his death. It is believed that Luther was influenced by Anton Margaritha’s book Der gantze Jüdisch Glaub (The Whole Jewish Belief). Margaritha, a convert to Christianity who had become a Lutheran, published his antisemitic book in 1530 which was read by Luther in 1539. In 1539, Luther got his hands on the book and immediately fell in love with it. ‘The materials provided in this book confirmed for Luther that the Jews in their blindness wanted nothing to do with faith and justification through faith.’ Margaritha’s book was decisively discredited by Josel of Rosheim in a public debate in 1530 before Charles V and his court, resulting in Margaritha’s expulsion from the Empire.”
• • •
“In 1543 Luther published On the Jews and Their Lies in which he says that the Jews are a ‘base, whoring people, that is, no people of God, and their boast of lineage, circumcision, and law must be accounted as filth.’ They are full of the ‘devil’s feces … which they wallow in like swine.’ The synagogue was a ‘defiled bride, yes, an incorrigible whore and an evil slut …’ He argues that their synagogues and schools be set on fire, their prayer books destroyed, rabbis forbidden to preach, homes razed, and property and money confiscated. They should be shown no mercy or kindness, afforded no legal protection, and these ‘poisonous envenomed worms’ should be drafted into forced labor or expelled for all time. He also seems to advocate their murder, writing ‘[w]e are at fault in not slaying them’. Luther claims that Jewish history was ‘assailed by much heresy’, and that Christ swept away the Jewish heresy and goes on to do so, ‘as it still does daily before our eyes.’ He stigmatizes Jewish Prayer as being ‘blasphemous’ (sic) and a lie, and vilifies Jews in general as being spiritually ‘blind’ and ‘surely possessed by all devils.’ Luther has a special spiritual problem with Jewish circumcision. The full context in which Martin Luther advocated that Jews be slain in On the Jews and Their Lies is as follows, in Luther’s own words:

‘There is no other explanation for this than the one cited earlier from Moses—namely, that God has struck [the Jews] with ‘madness and blindness and confusion of mind’ [Deuteronomy 28:28]. So we are even at fault in not avenging all this innocent blood of our Lord and of the Christians which they shed for three hundred years after the destruction of Jerusalem, and the blood of the children they have shed since then (which still shines forth from their eyes and their skin). We are at fault in not slaying them.’”
• • •
“Shortly before his death on February 18, 1546 Luther preached four sermons in Eisleben. He appended to the second to the last what he called his ‘final warning’ against the Jews. The main point of this short work is that authorities who could expel the Jews from their lands should do so if they would not convert to Christianity. Otherwise, Luther indicated, such authorities would make themselves ‘partners in another’s sins’.”
• • •
“In 1543 Luther’s Prince, John Frederick I, Elector of Saxony, revoked some of the concessions he gave to Josel of Rosheim in 1539. Luther’s influence persisted after his death. John of Brandenburg-Küstrin, Margrave of the New March, repealed the safe conduct of Jews in his territories. Philip of Hesse added restrictions to his Order Concerning the Jews. Luther’s followers sacked the synagogue of Berlin in 1572, and in the following year the Jews were driven out of the entire Margravate of Brandenburg. In the 1580s riots led to expulsion of Jews from several German Lutheran states.

“Nevertheless, no ruler enacted all of Luther’s anti-Jewish recommendations.

“According to Michael, Luther’s work acquired the status of Scripture within Germany, and he became the most widely read author of his generation, in part because of the coarse and passionate nature of the writing. In the 1570s Pastor Georg Nigrinus published Enemy Jew, which reiterated Luther’s program in On the Jews and Their Lies, and Nikolaus Selnecker, one of the authors of the Formula of Concord, reprinted Luther’s Against the Sabbatarians, On the Jews and Their Lies, and Vom Schem Hamphoras.

“Luther’s treatises against the Jews were reprinted again early in the 17th century at Dortmund, where they were seized by the Emperor. In 1613 and 1617 they were published in Frankfurt am Main in support of the banishment of Jews from Frankfurt and Worms. Vincenz Fettmilch, a Calvinist, reprinted On the Jews and Their Lies in 1612 to stir up hatred against the Jews of Frankfurt. Two years later, riots in Frankfurt saw the deaths of 3,000 Jews and the expulsion of the rest. Fettmilch was executed by the Lutheran city authorities, but Michael writes that his execution was for attempting to overthrow the authorities, not for his offenses against the Jews.

“These reprints were the last popular publication of these works until they were revived in the 20th century.”

If this is not anti-Semitism, I don’t know what else it is. Stephen Nicholas then continues his comments as follows:

“Now, we need to say that he was an equal opportunity offender. It wasn’t just … that rhetoric was not just reserved for the Jews. He used the same rhetoric for the Papists, for the Anabaptists, for the nominal Christians that he used for the Jews; but he was wrong. He spoke harshly, and I think he abused his influence that he had in speaking harshly, and so we need to say that Luther was wrong in that. But this isn’t necessarily anti-Semitism.”

That is exactly what it is—anti-Semitism! Calling his language “harsh” is the understatement of the year. He advocated the murder and persecution of the Jews, which was carried out by his supporters in his lifetime as well as after his death, culminating in the Nazi persecution and the Holocaust. They were carrying out Luther’s instructions. And two wrongs don’t make one right. Luther’s anti- anything else does not make his anti-Semitism a less serious offence. Luther was anti-Semitic by any stretch of the imagination—no matter how much you try to sugarcoat it or make it sound palatable. Stephen Nicholas then continues his comments as follows:

“That [anti-Semitism] is really a twentieth century phenomenon, and what Luther was interested [in] is really following the lead of the Apostle Paul, and following the lead of the New Testament. He saw this as a betrayal of Christ, as a betrayal of the gospel, as a failure to recognize Jesus’ coming as the Messiah, and so it was not an ethnic motivation that prompted Luther to this; it was a theological one.”

LOL! That is a joke. That is a travesty of the gospel ethics exemplified by Paul, Jesus, or the New Testament. That is not how Jesus and Paul tried to convert people. You don’t convert people by persecution, murder, hatred, using abusive language, or inciting to violence. You don’t “love” people on condition that they convert, otherwise hate, persecute, and murder them when they don’t. Nowhere in the Bible is such a practice condoned, recommend, encouraged, or approved. That is not how the Christians tried to convert the Romans! They would not have stood a chance if they had tried it that way. They were persecuted and reviled; they were not the persecutors and revilers. Paul’s way of converting people was like this:

1 Corinthians 4:

11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place;
12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
13 Being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

2 Corinthians 6:

3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:
4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;
6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,

Luther was the antithesis of all of that. He was a bully. The reason why he took the stance against the Jew as he did, was because he knew he could get away with it. The Jews were a powerless, defenceless, persecuted minority whom he knew he could abuse with impunity and get away with. The Apostles’ way was different:

Galatians 5:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Colossians 3:

11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

Luther was the opposite of that in every respect. Whether you hate the Jews because of their ethnicity or because of their religion, that is still anti-Semitism. He hated the Jews because they were Jews. You convert people by loving them, not by hating and inciting violence against them. “Gospel love” is not conditional on people’s conversation. That is not the Bible’s way of converting people. Stephen Nicholas then concludes his comments as follows:

“So the answer to this is, we need to understand him in his context, but we should not give him a free pass; and we need to recognize that he has legs of iron, but feet of clay; and in this … this is one of those instances where his feet of clay do in fact come through.”

There is no “context” that can justify Luther’s anti-Semitism, or portrays it as anything other than what it is. Luther should be identified for what he is: a false teacher and a heretic. He was anything but a true servant of God, and exemplified none of the essential characteristics, such as humility, meekness, patience, or love. Paul wished that he himself would be damned if it could bring about the conversion of his fellow kinsmen, the Jews (Rom. 9:3). He did not try to convert them Luther’s way! Luther was anti-Semitic without a question.

The whole of Christian Europe was anti-Semitic at that time, and persecution of the Jews was common. The Crusades were as much an act of violence against the Jews as they were against the Muslims. Luther became more anti-Semitic than the rest, got worse and worse as time went by, and never softened his stance or changed his mind. He was more anti-Semitic on the day he died than he had been the day before.

When the Nazis persecuted the Jews, they were carrying out Luther’s recommendations. The Nazis did not persecute the Jews out of nowhere. The initial seeds were down by Luther and his supporters. He lit the fuse that caused it to happen. The following is an unabridged copy of an article by Cecil Adams, published in Washington City Paper in December 21, 2016. The article is in response to the question: “Did Martin Luther, founder of the Protestant Reformation, instigate the Holocaust with his anti-Jewish writings, including his infamous On the Jews and Their Lies?” The article is titled: “Does Martin Luther Bear Some Responsibility For The Holocaust?” and is as follows (punctuation slightly revised):

“Did Martin Luther instigate the Holocaust? Call me a traditionalist, but I figure that accomplishment can stay on Hitler’s rap sheet. What we can safely say, though, is that (a) yes, the father of the Reformation did express starkly anti-Semitic sentiments in print and at great length. In the treatise you name, he explicitly advocates the persecution of German Jews, saying at one point, ‘We are at fault in not slaying them’. And (b) the Nazis couldn’t get enough of it. Luther hardly invented anti-Semitism; but as a towering presence in German culture, he proved very useful in legitimizing the aims of the Third Reich.

“Always opposed to the practice of Judaism, he couldn’t understand why anyone would take a pass on the Christian promise of salvation. Luther initially adopted a honey-not-vinegar approach toward its adherents. His 1523 treatise, That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew, condemned the Catholic Church for its mistreatment of Jews—not for humanitarian reasons, mind you, but because he felt it made Jews less likely to convert. On the basis of this position, a Jewish advocate solicited Luther’s aid in 1537 after Jews had been banned from the state of Saxony. Luther, by this time seemingly enraged at the failure of his conversion efforts, vehemently refused to intercede.

“Luther’s anti-Semitism reached full boil with the 1543 publication of On the Jews and Their Lies—basically a 65,000-word blast of what nowadays we’d call hate speech. After roundly condemning Jews as prideful, deceitful, indolent blasphemers, ‘possessed by all devils,’ Luther sets forth a program of action: he calls for the burning of synagogues; forbidding rabbis from teaching; banning Jews from owning homes; denying them legal protection; confiscating their texts and money; and setting them to manual labor. This diatribe wasn’t a one-off, as Luther followed it up with further, equally combative treatises and a later series of anti-Semitic sermons before his death in 1546. And its arguments weren’t ineffective—a reprint helped stir up a Frankfurt pogrom in 1614.

“In his classic, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William Shirer argues that here Luther had basically drafted the blueprints for the Holocaust, concluding that his ‘advice was literally followed.’ We have no proof the young Hitler was aware of Luther’s anti-Semitic writings (the strongest stuff had been omitted from some editions of Luther’s collected work), or that they had a formative effect on his thinking; thus we can’t draw a direct line from Luther to Hitler to the Holocaust.

“However, it’s broadly true that Luther contributed to the culture of anti-Semitism that was especially virulent in Germany (although hardly unknown elsewhere—for example in Russia, where Luther had no comparable influence). And by the 1930s at least, the Nazis were well aware of Luther’s anti-Semitic work and used it to justify their actions. On the Jews and Their Lies was displayed prominently in a glass case during the Nuremberg rallies, and Nazi bigwigs regularly cited Luther as a kindred spirit. ‘No judgment could be sharper,’ Heinrich Himmler said of Luther’s writings against the Jews; ‘With Luther,’ according to Hans Hinkel of the Reich’s Propaganda Ministry, ‘the revolution of German blood and feeling against alien elements of the Volk was begun.’ Bishop Martin Sasse, prominent in the pro-Nazi German Christian movement, published a collection of Luther’s anti-Semitic writings, noting with satisfaction in its preface that ‘on November 10, 1938, on Luther’s birthday, the synagogues are burning in Germany,’ and calling Luther ‘the greatest anti-Semite of his time.’ Nazi newspaper publisher Julius Streicher, who had received a first edition of On the Jews and Their Lies from the people of Nuremberg as a birthday present, referred to that work in his own defense while on trial in the same city after the war: ‘Dr. Martin Luther would very probably sit in my place in the defendants’ dock today, if this book had been taken into consideration by the prosecution.’

“Luther’s defenders emphasize that his prejudice against Jews was theological, rooted in their refusal to embrace Christianity, rather than strictly racist. But the relentless vigor with which he hammers away at ‘these base children of the devil, this brood of vipers,’ suggests more than a purely doctrinal bone to pick. As noted Lutheran scholar Eric Gritsch pointed out, Luther’s description of how Jews’ collective guilt for their supposed sins ‘still shines forth from their eyes and their skin’ certainly implies some racial component to his animus.

“In Luther’s example, Shirer suggests, Hitler found a traditional justification for not just anti-Jewish policy, but also for authoritarian rule; he contends that Luther’s own ‘passion for political autocracy ensured a mindless and provincial political absolutism’ in German society. The Nazis organized Luther Day celebrations, calling Luther ‘the first German spiritual Führer,’ and enlisted his teachings to support the idea that German exceptionalism and anti-Semitism were inseparable. We have no reason to think Luther would have approved of the Holocaust. But—and this is always the danger with rabble-rousers—he set his followers on the path.—Cecil Adams”

An intelligent search on Google for the connection between Luther and the Nazi persecution of the Jews or the Holocaust will yield much useful information that confirms that connection. As Cecil Adams has noted, it is unlikely Luther himself would have approved of the Holocaust (although given the vicious, relentless, and unrestrained nature of his attacks, especially towards the end of his life, makes one wonder about that too); but he lit the fuse that led to it.

The persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany did not occur in a vacuum. The reason why the Nazis were able to do as they did was because a strong anti-Semitic culture already existed in German society which made it possible. Without the existence of that culture in German society at the time the Nazis would not have been able to do what they did, and get away with it. And the chief architect of that culture in German society at that time had been Martin Luther. He was the one chiefly responsible for creating the cultural environment which made that persecution possible. He laid the egg that Hitler hatched.

Interestingly, the Book of Mormon also has something to say about the persecution of the Jews among the Gentiles:

2 Nephi 29:

5 O ye Gentiles, have ye remembered the Jews, mine ancient covenant people? Nay; but ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them. But behold, I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people.

Indeed, one of the purposes of the Book of Mormon is to bring about the gathering of the scattered remnants of the house of Israel, and their restoration to the lands of their inheritance in fulfillment of the covenant God made with their fathers:

2 Nephi 29:

1 But behold, there shall be many—at that day when I shall proceed to do a marvelous work among them, that I may remember my covenants which I have made unto the children of men, that I may set my hand again the second time to recover my people, which are of the house of Israel;
• • •
14 And it shall come to pass that my people, which are of the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in one. And I will show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever.

The “marvelous work” mentioned in verse one refers to the Book of Mormon.

3 Nephi 29:

7 Yea, and wo unto him that shall say at that day to get gain, that there can be no miracle wrought by Jesus Christ; for he that doeth this shall become like unto the son of perdition, for whom there was no mercy, according to the word of Christ.
8 Yea, and ye need not any longer hiss, nor spurn, nor make game of the Jews, nor any of the remnant of the house of Israel; for behold, the Lord remembereth his covenant unto them, and he will do unto them according to that which he hath sworn.
9 Therefore ye need not suppose that ye can turn the right hand of the Lord unto the left, that he may not execute judgment unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the house of Israel.

Mormon 5:

14 And behold, they [the words of the Book of Mormon] shall go unto the unbelieving of the Jews; and for this intent shall they go—that they may be persuaded that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God; that the Father may bring about, through his most Beloved, his great and eternal purpose in restoring the Jews, or all the house of Israel, to the land of their inheritance, which the Lord their God hath given them, unto the fulfilling of his covenant;

See also Romans 11:25–26. Luther was not an inspired servant of God, and should be rightly identified as such. He was a heretic, like the many others who had gone before him. “Faith alone” is a heresy. It is a doctrine of the devil. It is not inspired of God, and it is not supported by the Bible.

It might be worth mentioning that the Jews during the Middle Ages and after received far better treatment among the Muslims and in the Islamic territories than among the Christians in Europe. Many Jews who suffered persecution at the hands of Christians fled to and found refuge among the Muslims. Jews who had special gifts, talents, or skills rose to prominence among Muslims, and received accolades from kings and rulers, and rose to high positions in the courts of kings. Maimonides is a particularly interesting example. After this Robert Godfrey adds the following comment:

“Just to add one little thing. That is exactly right. But the one little thing that should be added is, Luther all his life longed that Jews should be converted and join the church. Hitler never wanted Jews to join the Nazi party. That is the difference between anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish. Luther wasn’t opposed to the Jews because of their blood. He was opposed to the Jews because of their religion, and he wanted them to join the Christian church.”

How very kind of Luther! Join my (false) religion or be murdered! I am sure the Jews appreciated that kindness very much. Godfrey then continues:

“If you are really anti-Semitic, you are against Jews because of their blood, and there is nothing Jews can do about that. There is no change they can make to make a difference. You are absolutely right. Luther’s language should not be defended by us because it is violent against the Jews; but it was not against an ethnic people, as you said, but against a religion that he reacted so sharply.”

Whether you are against the Jews because of their race or religion, that still counts as anti-Semitism. Anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic amounts to the same thing. Religion is a matter of personal choice and a fundamental human right. One of the essential civil liberties enshrined in the US Constitution is the freedom of religion. You don’t hate, persecute, or discriminate against people because of their religion. You don’t force people to change their religion against their will. You don’t murder, persecute, burn their homes, or drive them out of town because they don’t want your religion. That is what the Romans did to the early Christians. How was Luther any different? Jesus said, “by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matt. 7:15–20). Luther did not manifest the fruits of a true follower, disciple, or servant of Jesus Christ. He was a heretic, and should be exposed as such.

Revised January 19, 2018.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Will we Ever See the Full Glory of God?

In the Q&A video that I had discussed and commented on in my previous post, another question was raised that is worth discussing. At 44:02 minutes into the video a question was addressed to John MacArthur, framed by the host as follows:

“‘John, will we as Christians, saved by the blood of Jesus, and trusting in Jesus alone by faith for eternal life, ever see the full glory of God?’ I think we have been whetting people’s appetite for the glory of God, and this question comes along that line.”

To this John MacArthur gives the following reply:

“Well, we will see as much of the glory of God in heaven as our redeemed and glorified humanity could take without being incinerated. I am not sure—that is a very difficult question. Even the angels, RC was talking about last night, referring to them back in Isaiah six, with two of their wings cover their faces. Even those holy creatures recognize some need to cover themselves in the in the face of the full glory of God.”

That is a mistaken reading of Isaiah chapter 6. In that passage Jehovah makes use of the wings of the living creatures to cover himself, or his full glory, from the gaze of Isaiah. The winged creatures are not covering themselves. The reference is to the following passage:

Isaiah 6:

1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.

In this passage “he” in verse 2 refers to Jehovah, not the winged creatures. There was more than one of those creatures. If the reference was to the creatures, it should have used the plural form “they,” not “he”. “He” refers to the nearest antecedent, which in this case is Jehovah.

There are several points to be noted in that passage. Firstly, Jehovah appears to Isaiah in human form. He is anthropomorphic. He appears as a man, seated on a throne, and dressed in regal attire. “His train filled the temple” means that the hem of his garment filled the temple. He was dressed in a robe as a king. Secondly Jehovah used the winged creatures, or their wings, to cover himself, so that his full glory would not be completely visible to Isaiah. The “smoke” in verse 4 served the same purpose, to obscure the visual appearance of Jehovah so that his full glory would not be apparent to Isaiah. This motif goes back to a much earlier time. It goes back to Exodus and Leviticus. The most sacred object that God commanded the Israelites to construct was the Ark of the Covenant, which was a large rectangular wooden box (covered in gold), which housed the most sacred objects that the Israelites possessed, which were the two “tables of stone” containing the Ten Commandments, plus a few other sacred artefacts. This Ark was placed in the most sacred chamber in the Tabernacle of the Congregation (and later in the Temple), called the Holy of Holies. The Ark had a cover or a lid on it which was called the Mercy Seat, which was also covered in gold. This Mercy Seat served more than one purpose. Apart from the obvious purpose of covering the ark, it also served as a seat, or footstool, on which Jehovah stood when he appeared once a year in the Tabernacle (and later in the Temple) before the High Priest. On this Mercy Seat was constructed the figures of two cherubims facing each other, with their wings stretched out “on high:”

Exodus 25:

20 And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.
•  •  •
22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

Exodus 37:
9 And the cherubims spread out their wings on high, and covered with their wings over the mercy seat, with their faces one to another; even to the mercy seatward were the faces of the cherubims.

(See also Numbers 7:89; 1 Samuel 4:4; 2 Samuel 6:2; 2 Kings 19:15; 1 Chronicles 13:6; Psalms 80:1; 99:1; Isaiah 37:16). The purpose of these two cherubims, or their wings, was to cover the “feet” of Jehovah (or the lower part of his body or legs), as he stood on the Mercy Seat to converse with the High Priest once a year. If you do an image search on Google for “Ark of the Covenant,” or the “Mercy Seat,” you will see many artistic depictions of the Ark of the Covenant, with the two cherubims constructed on it facing each other—except that none of the artistic images are realistic. They depict the cherubims too small, and in a manner not intended by the text. That is because the artists don’t know what the real purpose of the cherubims were. They think that they were just for decoration. That of course isn’t correct. They had a practical purpose, which was to cover the feet (legs) of Jehovah as he stood on the Mercy Seat, as he appeared to the Priest once a year. Exodus 25:20; 37:9 say that the cherubims stretched out their wings on high and covered the Mercy Seat, which means that the wings were raised much higher than the artists normally depict them, and they visually masked or obscured (covered) the Mercy Seat.

The High Priest had to take another precaution as he entered the Holy of Holies once a year to commune with Jehovah on behalf of Israel. Apart from ritually purifying himself and so on, he had to enter in with an incense burner, putting a large quantity of incense on it. The purpose of the incense was to create a plume of thick smoke, again to obscure the visual appearance of Jehovah so that his full glory would not be apparent to the gaze of the High Priest:

Leviticus 16:

12 And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail: 
13 And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not:

All of these elaborate precautions were taken in order to obscure the visual appearance of Jehovah as the Priest appeared once a year in the most holy place to commune with Jehovah.

After the temple of Solomon had been built (which was larger and more spacious than the Tabernacle of the Congregation had been; and was also stationary, not portable); it appears that two much larger and separate cherubs were built whose wings covered the entire ark, not just the Mercy Seat; and would have been raised much higher to cover the whole appearance of Jehovah as he stood on the Mercy Seat to commune with the High Priest:

1 Kings 8:

6 And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims.
7 For the cherubims spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above.

The imagery portrayed in Isaiah 6 is simply a live enactment of what is depicted in static form on the Mercy Seat and in the temple covering the Ark. The cherubs on the Mercy Seat and in the temple were sculpted out of gold by human hands, whereas the ones Isaiah saw were real living creatures in heaven who served that purpose. John MacArthur then continues his commentary as follows:

“I mean obviously that is a spiritual imagery, but no creature can ever see God and live, it says in Exodus.”

Firstly, that was not just a spiritual imagery. There are such living creatures in heaven. Secondly, while it is true that it says in Exodus 33:20, that “no man see me and live,” there are other passages of scripture that tell a different story. In Isaiah chapter 6, he sees Jehovah in anthropomorphic form, seated on a throne, and dressed in regal attire. Although his full appearance was masked by the wings of the cherubs and by the smoke, he still saw Jehovah in human form, sitting on a throne. “Mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts, he declares. In Exodus 24:10–11, seventy of the elders of Israel saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. … they saw God, and did eat and drink”. Again it was a visual appearance, and it was anthropomorphic. We also have this account:

Numbers 12:

8 With him [Moses] will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?

“Similitude” means the very shape, form, likeness, and visual appearance, as the following verses make clear:

Deuteronomy 4:

12 And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice.
•  •  •
15 Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire:
16 Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female,

Daniel 10:

16 And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: …

See also Acts 7:55–56. When discussing scripture, it is always best to be honest, and tell all sides of the story; rather than just tell the bits that you like, or that suits your theology, and hide the rest. John MacArthur then continues his commentary as follows:

“So I guess I don’t know what unlimited glorified humanity would be like. I don’t know how far our capacities will go. But we will certainly see God’s glory in ways that are relatively infinite to what we experience at this point in life. We see the glory of God veiled. You know, you follow it along from the time of the Fall, and the glory of God appears as a cloud, or a pillar of fire, or it appears in the in the Holy of Holies at the building of the tabernacle, and again at the temple, and it is unveiled in the Transfiguration for a moment in blazing glory shines on the upon the apostles, and always it is limited. Moses is tucked in the rock in Exodus 33 and he says you can’t see my glory and live, but I’ll let my afterglow my back parts past before you. I think we will see a greater glory; certainly at the New Jerusalem the incredible display of light shining out of the middle of that city through transparent gold and all of the jewels is indicating to us a blaze of glory the likes of which is incomprehensible to us, but to what degree? When you say do we see the full glory of God as still being created, even if newly created, that there may be some limitation to that.”

While it is true that since the Fall, the appearance of God to man has often (to a greater or lesser degree) been veiled; but that was not the case before the Fall; and it has not always, and at all times been the case even after the Fall. As we have seen, Moses was permitted to enter into the presence of the Lord without a veil; and from the Book of Mormon we have the following interesting account:

Ether 3:

13 And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him and said, Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you.

And according to John the Revelator, in heaven we will see God as he is (1 John 3:2). That doesn’t leave much room for ambiguity. At 48:50 minutes into the video RC Sproul adds the following comment:

“I think the greatest promise we have is the promise of the beatific vision, the vision of God that even Jesus promises to the pure in heart, which we are not now, but we shall be. But one of the first doctrines we teach in the doctrine of God theology proper is the incomprehensibility of God—not that we can’t know anything about God, but that we cannot have a comprehensive knowledge of God, is again theology 101.”

That is Reformed theology 101, not Revealed theology 101! In Revealed theology 101, it is possible for man ultimately to comprehend God:

D&C 88:

49 The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not; nevertheless, the day shall come when you shall comprehend even God, being quickened in him and by him.

RC Sproul then continues his commentary as follows:

“But often the question arises, what after we enter into glory and we are glorified, then will we get past the barriers of incomprehensibility. But we will still be finite; we will still be creatures; and Calvin I believe was right—I promised no more Latin, but that is in my lessons, not in this thing!—You know that axiom: finitum non copox infinitum; the finite cannot contain or grasp the infinite. And we are not going to be deified in heaven. We are going to be glorified creatures, but creatures we will remain, and therefore finite beings; and no finite being will ever have the capacity to comprehend the infinite glory of God. So the word he is picking up on I agree with. We won’t see the full glory in God; will see the unveiled glory of God; and so on to the greatest capacity that we as glorified creatures will have. But there will be still a transcendent dimension of God that will elude us. I think.”

Like I said, that is his “Reformed” theology 101! According to all the Church Fathers, as well as modern revelation, we will be deified, and we will also be able to comprehend God.

It is a pity that RC isn’t with us anymore, to enjoy reading my posts; but I bet he can still read them in heaven! I think that God has given him a special iPad in heaven where he can still read my posts, and learn great theology from a Mormon! 😇

Revised January 22, 2018.

Friday, December 15, 2017

R.C. Sproul (1939-2017)

My condolences and sympathies to the family and friends of R. C. Sproul, who passed away on December 14, 2017; he will be greatly missed. While I had my disagreements with his theology, I recognize him as a great theologian, possibly the best in his time; and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching, listening to, and reading (and occasionally responding to) his theological talks, sermons, conversations and writings, and learned a lot from them. A theologian does not always have to be right in order to be a good theologian. He wasn’t always right, but he was a great theologian all the same. I believe that his commitment to Jesus Christ was sincere and genuine, and he will receive a great reward in heaven.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sin Unto Death!

I was watching the above Q&A video in which some interesting theological issues were raised and discussed. The first question asked related to the “openness of God movement,” or “open theism” as it is more commonly known, as follows:

“Does the openness of God movement have any impact on the holiness of God? Does it diminish the concept the holiness of God?”

“Open theism” is a relatively recent theological movement in Evangelical circles that advocates the idea that God’s foreknowledge is limited by our freewill. In other words, since God has created man free to do as he wills, he doesn’t know ahead of time what decisions they will make, or what actions they will take. He is in the dark about that like everyone else, and has to wait to see what happens before deciding what to do next. There is an interesting article in Wikipedia about open theism that does a good job of explaining it. It may be a backlash against the absolute determinism of Calvinism, which has gained momentum within the Evangelical movement, and among Baptist churches during the past few decades—but takes it to the opposite extreme. 

Open theism is not compatible with Mormon revelation (any more than Calvinism is)—although it has its advocates within Mormonism. Blake Ostler is an advocate of open theism in Mormonism. He speaks for himself of course. As far as I know the LDS Church has not expressed an opinion on the subject. If they did, I am guessing that they would reject it. According to my studies, open theism is not compatible with Mormon revelation. There are many passages in modern scripture that would contradict it. I know the end from the beginning,” says Jehovah to Abraham (Abr. 2:8); and the great visions of the future that God gave to Nephi in the Book of Mormon (1 Nephi 11–14), or to Moses and Enoch in the Book of Moses, all contradict that notion.

At 15:16 minutes into the video a question was addressed specifically to John MacArthur, as follows:

“John MacArthur mentioned the sin unto death, and how some Corinthians were dead at God’s hand so the church is spared their wickedness, and they are taken to glory. How do we reconcile these comments with Hebrews: ‘There is a holiness without which no one will see the Lord’? How do we reconcile the sin and the holiness, and God removing them and taking them to glory?”

The Question relates to the following passage of scripture:

1 John 5:

16 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.
17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.

The question lacks clarity because it is in relation to something that John MacArthur had said previously relative to that scripture, which is theologically incorrect. His answer to the above question (skipping the initial part, and starting at 18:27 minutes in the video), is as follows:

I take it that the sin unto death is some sin, not a particular sin, but whatever sin causes you to die [naturally], whatever sin God uses as a point of judgment. 1 Corinthians 11, it was how they were treating the table of the Lord. They were coming without judging themselves first. They were coming without an appropriate confession of sin, and they were trivializing the table of the Lord; and some of them were weak, and some of them were sick, and some of them were asleep because of that specific thing. And I think there could be a number of different sins. It could be any sin that the Lord says, ‘That is as far as it can go, and it can go no further;’ and I think that is the kind of sin John says that you know, it is really not going to do any good to pray for that, because you not going to get a positive answer. The Lord is going to do what he needs to do to protect his church.”

His answer is that the “sin unto death” is any kind of sin that causes one to die naturally. It is any kind of sin that God determines it would be better for the sinner to be dead rather than be alive, and thus God decides to put an end to their life (in this world). That is his interpretation of 1 John 5:16–17. He teaches that such persons are still “saved,” even though God decides to put an end to their lives prematurely (hence the question being asked). The problem with that interpretation is that it leaves unanswered the question of how would anyone know if someone had committed, or was committing that kind of a sin—to decide whether to pray for them or not? If the only way you would know would be if they dropped dead, then why would you want to pray for them anyway, after they were dead? 1 John 5:16–17 teaches that we should pray for those who sin “not unto death,” that God may “give [them] life”. If the alternative is the “sin unto death” (natural death), how would we know if someone had committed that kind of sin, or was committing that kind of sin, unless they were already dead, in which case why would anyone want to pray for them? The scripture suggests that it is possible to know whether someone is committing that kind of sin, and thus to decide whether to pray for them or not. If the “sin unto death” means a sin that leads one to die naturally, then how would anyone know if someone was committing that kind of sin—unless they were already dead—in which case why would you want to pray for them? Once they are dead, why would anyone want to pray for them? And if they are still alive, how would anyone know if they were committing that kind of sin—to decide whether to pray for them or not?

The correct interpretation of that scripture is that by the “sin unto death” is meant spiritual death, which is the unpardonable sin leading to damnation. The following scriptures suggest that it is possible to know if someone is committing that kind of sin:

Matthew 12:

31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

Hebrews 6:

4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
7 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:
8 But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.

Hebrews 10:

26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Jude 1:

10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.
11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.
12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.

All of these passages refer to the unpardonable sin, or “sin unto death,” and suggest that it is possible (at least some of the time) to know if someone was committing, or had committed that kind of sin. We may not always be able to tell, or not everyone will be able to tell. It may require a certain kind of spiritual discernment to be able to know for sure. But evidently it is possible to know; and when that is discovered, we are required not to pray for them.

Another relevant question is, How can we tell if someone has committed the unpardonable sin, or the “sin unto death”? What does it entail? How does one commit such a sin, and how can one know if someone has? There is a lot of misunderstanding even among LDS about the nature of the unpardonable sin, and what it entails. Some think that to commit the unpardonable sin, one must receive some great vision or revelation from God, and then turn against it. But that is not borne out by the scriptural passages that relate to the subject. For example, Jesus accused the Pharisees of committing the unpardonable sin (or coming close to it), when they accused him of casting out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of devils. The Pharisees hadn’t received some great vision or revelation from heaven, so how were they committing the unpardonable sin (or risked committing that sin)? Likewise the Book of Mormon informs us that the religious leaders of our time who reject the message of the restored gospel, and declare it to be evil and of the devil, and say that God no longer works by revelation and so on, will be committing the unpardonable sin. Here is a quote:

3 Nephi 29:

5 Wo unto him that spurneth at the doings of the Lord; yea, wo unto him that shall deny the Christ and his works!
6 Yea, wo unto him that shall deny the revelations of the Lord, and that shall say the Lord no longer worketh by revelation, or by prophecy, or by gifts, or by tongues, or by healings, or by the power of the Holy Ghost!
7 Yea, and wo unto him that shall say at that day to get gain, that there can be no miracle wrought by Jesus Christ; for he that doeth this shall become like unto the son of perdition, for whom there was no mercy, according to the word of Christ!

There are religious leaders in our day who are doing just that. They are in the same situation as the Pharisees were who accused Jesus of casting out devils by the prince of devils. They are committing, or take the risk of committing the unpardonable sin. If they have not already committed that sin, they are coming perilously close to it, as the Pharisees were. The Book of Mormon gives us more insight into what it entails to commit that sin:

Alma 39:

6 For behold, if ye deny the Holy Ghost when it once has had place in you, and ye know that ye deny it, behold, this is a sin which is unpardonable; yea, and whosoever murdereth against the light and knowledge of God, it is not easy for him to obtain forgiveness; yea, I say unto you my son, that it is not easy for him to obtain a forgiveness.

It is impossible to commit the unpardonable sin in ignorance, by chance, or by accident. Those who have committed the unpardonable sin know that they have. It is always a conscious decision. So here is the question: What were the Pharisees doing that meant they were committing, or risked committing the unpardonable sin? The answer is that they were accusing Jesus of casting out devils by the prince of devils against their own better knowledge. They had enough scripture knowledge, and knowledge of their own divine Law, and also of the holiness of Jesus Christ whom they observed, and the Holy Spirit that bore witness to it, to know that the accusation they were making against him could not be true. They were ascribing evil to that which was holy against their own better knowledge. And when somebody does that, they come perilously close to committing the unpardonable sin. Once they have crossed a certain red line, there is no way back. They have burned their bridges with God, and their damnation is made sure. Repentance is no longer possible. Praying for such a person would be like praying for the devil. Praying for the devil is not going to do anybody any good, including the devil. Apart from that we are required to pray for everyone, sinners and saints alike.

The same is true of the many Christian leaders, ministers, pastors, and preachers of today who accuse Mormonism and the restored gospel to be evil and of the devil, when they are in a position to know better. They are in the same situation that the old Pharisees were. They are speaking and acting against their own better knowledge. They have enough scripture knowledge, gospel knowledge, and theological training to know better. When they go that far, then they are coming perilously close to committing the unpardonable sin—and I dare say some of them may have already crossed that line. Other passages of LDS scripture that explain how one may commit the unpardonable sin are as follows:

D&C 84:

40 Therefore all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father which he cannot break, neither can it be moved.
41 But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come.

D&C 132:

27 The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which shall not be forgiven in the world nor out of the world, is in that ye commit murder wherein ye shed innocent blood, and assent unto my death, after ye have received my new and everlasting covenant, saith the Lord God; and he that abideth not this law can in nowise enter into my glory, but shall be damned, saith the Lord.

These relate more to those who apostatize from the Church rather than those who had never joined it; but the underlying principles are the same. To commit the unpardonable sin, or the “sin unto death,” means to knowingly and willfully turn against God, with the full knowledge of the fact, whichever way one does it—as a member of the Church or as a non-member. It is a higher level of sinning than just breaking God’s commandments. And it always involves a witness of the Spirit that something is true and of God. That is why it is also called the “sin against the Holy Ghost”.

Scripture informs us that fallen man, in his fallen state, is already an “enemy to God” (Romans 8:7; James 4:4: Mosiah 3:19); but that is a different kind of “enmity” compared to someone who commits the unpardonable sin, or sins against the Holy Ghost. In the first instance, it is out of ignorance. Fallen man is an enemy to God because he does not know God. He is completely oblivious to the existence of God, and so does many things that are contrary to the nature and will of God. Someone who commits the unpardonable sin, however, becomes an enemy to God with full knowledge of the fact. It is Satan’s way of being an enemy to God. For the first, there is hope of redemption through faith, repentance, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. For the second there is no hope of redemption, only “a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries” (Heb. 10:27). Praying for the first is efficacious; praying for the second is pointless, if not positively harmful.

“Sin unto death” also negates the Calvinist and Evangelical false doctrine of “once saved, always saved”. The biblical doctrine is that nobody is “saved” until they have “endured to the end,” and have entered into the kingdom of God in heaven. Anytime before that in this life, they can change their minds, commit the “sin unto death,” and go down to hell. Nobody is assured of salvation until they have “endured to the end”.

There is an element of truth, however, in the doctrine of the “perseverance of the saints”. The saints who persevere are assisted by the grace of God to continue, and not succumb to the snares of the adversary (Rom. 8:37-39; 1 Cor. 15:57; Jude 1:24–25). But it doesn’t work like it says in Calvinism or Evangelicalism. Nobody is predestined to be saved. The choice is still theirs at any time, if they will, to turn against God, “sin unto death,” and be damned. That choice is not taken away from anyone in this life until they are dead. Instant salvation is a figment of the Evangelical imagination. Nobody is “saved” until they are in the kingdom of God in heaven. As long as they are in this world, the option is available to them to “sin unto death,” and be damned.

At 53:31 into the video Sinclair B. Ferguson makes the following comment:

. . . and if my family were around, because I love my family so deeply; but the thought of parting with them even for a season is as mysterious as the idea that there is no marriage in heaven. That is one of the most mysterious—I understand that text; but if you are married, that is a very—the opposite of the privilege of the love, is the horror of the parting. And I personally found great help in this area in some things that John Owen says about the soul’s movement from this world to the world to come, in the way in which as we progress on the Christian life, at that stage we are actually laying down the things that are most precious to us, and we are brought to what is really a totally new challenge, except to come suddenly to us, that we have to give up wife, and our husband, children, ministry, everything; and the only thing that is going to get us through the period of struggle into glory, is our absolute dependence on Jesus Christ.”

If that is how he feels about his wife, family, and marriage, then he needs to take Mormonism a bit more seriously. In Mormonism, not only is there “marriage in heaven,” but also “families are forever”. This does not negate Matt. 22:30; Mark 12:25; but puts a different interpretation on it.

It is also correct to say that in order to be a true follower and disciple of Jesus Christ, one must be willing to give up all that one has, including wife and family etc., and even one’s own life:

Luke 14:

26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
 •  •  •
33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

But that pertains to this life, not the next. The following verses provide the needed clarification:

Matthew 10:

39 He that findeth his life [in this world] shall lose it [in the next]: and he that loseth his life for my sake [in this world] shall find it [in the next].

Matthew 16:

25 For whosoever will save his life [in this world] shall lose it [in the next]: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake [in this world] shall find it [in the next].

Mark 8:

35 For whosoever will save his life [in this world] shall lose it [in the next]; but whosoever shall lose his life [in this world] for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it [in the next].

Luke 9:

24 For whosoever will save his life [in this world] shall lose it [in the next]: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake [in this world], the same shall save it [in the next].

Just as in order to gain one’s life in heaven, we must be willing to give it up in this world for the sake of Jesus and the gospel; so likewise in order to gain our marriage, wife, family, or anything else that is worth having in this world as well as in the next, we must be willing to lose them, or give them up in this world for the sake of Jesus and the gospel. It doesn’t mean that we will lose them permanently. It means that in order to obtain them and retain them in heaven for eternity, we must be willing to give them all up, or lose them in this life for the sake of Jesus and the gospel if need be.