Prodigious Misrepresentation Ought to be a Crime!

I must confess my inability to understand how some bloggers can find what they find in the statements others have made. What is an even greater mystery to me is how those who read their blogs can think they have such great insight. If you think I have great insight because I can see in someone’s statement something you can’t see, it is likely that I have simply misinterpreted the statement. I spent months debating with a certain blogger over his misinterpretations of statements made by “New Calvinists.” I continued commenting on that blog as long as I did in an effort to help some who might be reading his bilge and being deceived by it. I finally came to realize I was fighting a losing battle.

Please understand I don’t claim to be a New Calvinist. There are a number of elements within that movement I find to be disturbing. What I find more disturbing are the statements made by their detractors that have no resemblance to reality whatsoever. Let me give you just one example. This time, the quote is not from a New Calvinist but from Calvin himself. Calvin wrote, “D: “In the Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul says not that the beginning of salvation is of grace, ‘but by grace are ye saved,’ ‘not of works, lest any man should boast’ (Eph 2:8,9).”

As I read Calvin’s statement, his meaning is clearly that all of salvation, from eternity to eternity, is by the grace of God, and for that reason, boasting is excluded.

The blog Guru found the following in Calvin’s statement:

“Calvin is clearly making sanctification part of the justification/salvation process. He makes no distinction between God’s grace in sanctification and justification. The grace of God based on the works of Christ to declare us righteous is not a finished work, though Christ Himself said it was.”

His statement contains the following elements:

1. Calvin is making sanctification part of the justification/salvation process.

My response: Which is it, “the justification ‘process,’” or “the salvation process?” His huge blunder here is that he fails to distinguish between justification and salvation. One, justification, is a decisive, legal declaration about believers based on the redemptive work of Christ alone; the other, salvation, describes all God’s salvific activity from eternity to eternity. Salvation does indeed involve a process; justification does not.

2. Calvin is confusing [or “fusing”, to use one of the Guru’s favorite terms] justification and sanctification.

My response: For Calvin to state that not only the beginning of salvation but its entirety is by God’s grace does not involve a conflation of justification and sanctification at all. If I should say, “My life is has been comprised of four stages, infancy, childhood, adulthood, and old age,” would anyone think I was confusing infancy with adulthood? Of course not! How could anyone ever think that saying all the multifaceted aspects of salvation are by the grace of God conflate or fuses those aspects?

3. Calvin is saying Christ’s redemptive work is not finished. “The grace of God based on the works of Christ to declare us righteous is not a finished work, though Christ Himself said it was.”

My response: This statement confuses Christ’s accomplishment of redemption with the application of that redeeming work. First, Calvin’s statement makes no reference at all to the issue of the completion/non-completion of Christ’s work of redemption. The truth is, the grace of God, by which I would understand the application of Christ’s finished work, is not finished and will never be finished as long as we live. Jesus never said the application of his redeeming work was finished. I, for one, am grateful it isn’t.

This is my point; don’t buy into everything you read on the various blogs you visit. Put everything to the test. Analyze statements for yourself to determine if they are saying what is claimed. If they are not, have the courage to confront the accuser graciously and patiently but firmly. “Gurus” like this are doing damage to the cause of God and truth.


5 Responses to “Prodigious Misrepresentation Ought to be a Crime!”

  1. April 4, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Excellent advice! today Idownloaded what was billed by the referer as a ‘great comparison’ of Calvinism and Arminianism. I’ll have to forward it to you. Have some pedalling to do at the moment. (Bicycle that is)

  2. 2 jimmiedon
    April 5, 2012 at 2:34 am

    Alas! What can one expect in this day of careless reading, in this day of seeing everything through the filters others have placed in the minds of such readers, in this day of failure to diligently research and study subjects.

  3. 3 Ariel D. Moya Sequeira
    April 9, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    One must not only be aware of such statements while reading blogs, but also while listening to what preachers say. I find false prophets more dangerous than ordinary bloggers, because everything the former say is mingled with the Scriptures, so it may “sound” right, when it isn’t.

    I have one question, though. The Guru’s statement “He makes no distinction between God’s graces in sanctification and justification.” was left untouched, yet I find it quite strange to talk about two distinct graces. I understand that God’s grace is *manifested* in various ways, but isn’t it unique in nature?

    • April 10, 2012 at 2:05 am

      When the “Guru” talks about making a distinction between God’s grace in justification and sanctification, in reality, he doesn’t believe that sanctification is by grace at all. In his view, justification is something God has done by grace, but now it is our duty to produce sanctification by our own obedience to God’s Law. God will help us if we are trying to obey, but in his view, sanctification is not a matter of grace. My view, as is yours, is that salvation from eternity to eternity is by the soveriegn grace of God.

  4. April 18, 2012 at 1:22 am

    That “guru” is such in his own mind. He does, as Randy has pointed out in several places and I’ve seen quite a few myself, make much of whole cloth, without regard to the author’s intention. He seems to be a post-modern reader – one who determines the meaning of a text as he reads it, rather than one who attempts to determine the author’s meaning when he wrote it. From such a man, turn away and have nothing to do with.

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