We Believe, Therefore We Speak

Lately, I have been musing on a baffling question that concerns the concealment of truth. The question is why would anyone conceal what he truly believes? The apostle Paul, echoing the words of the inspired psalmist, wrote “we believe, therefore we speak.” This would lead one to think that a person would have no difficulty verbalizing his heart-felt beliefs.

Now, I can understand a person’s hesitance to own theological labels. Over the years, the standard answer I have given to the question, “are you a Calvinist?” has been, “What do you mean by that?” I gave that answer not to conceal my true, heart-felt convictions, but to avoid errant conclusions on the part of the inquisitor. For example, if one means by that question, do you believe God is the cause of all the sin that occurs in the world and that sinners have no responsibility to obey him, then I am not a Calvinist. It is impossible to have a meaningful discussion of such issues apart from accurate definition. Such is the case with the issue of “free will.” When that subject comes up in conversation, I always ask what the person means by it. Whether I believe it or not depends on how one defines it.

I have had discussions this week with Paul Dohse Sr. about a possible debate on the issue of “Progressive justification.” Specifically, the issue was to have been whether Calvinists believe in progressive justification. Only an idiot could read the literature available on the subject of justification and conclude that Calvinists believe such a doctrine. For example, Louis Berkhof, in distinguishing between God’s work of justification and sanctification, wrote in his Systematic Theology,

Justification takes place once for all. It is not repeated, neither is it a process; it is complete at once and for all time. There is no more or less in justification; man is either fully justified, or he is not justified at all. In distinction from it sanctification is a continuous process, which is never completed in this life.

How could a person read that statement and conclude that Calvinists believe in progressive justification, and why would a Calvinist deny he believed in progressive justification if that were truly his view?

Reformed theology has spoken as with one voice concerning this matter. It has consistently stood against the Roman Catholic doctrine of progressive justification. The matter that baffles me is why Paul D. would think we Calvinists would wish to deny that we believe such a doctrine if that is truly what we teach. Should we attempt to explain that we believe the exact opposite of that damnable doctrine, Paul and his ilk will be quick to accuse us of “doublespeak.” Doublespeak is any language that pretends to communicate but actually does not. Now, I ask you, is there anything about Berkhof’s statement above that fails to communicate the precise doctrine of justification that we believe? No! He encapsulates in his brief statement exactly what we believe. I can only conclude that one of two things must be true. Either he and his merry band of men and women are abysmally ignorant of the literature available on this issue, or they are being deliberately dishonest in their campaign to smear and sully those doctrines they despise.

I offered the following as rules for a proposed debate. They were rejected out of hand. What baffles me is why anyone would object to such guidelines.

1. The Scriptures are solely authoritative.
2. Each participant must be able to state his opponent’s position to his satisfaction before being able to comment on it.
3. Every assertion must be supported by direct quotations, in context, that indicate the veracity of the assertion. (For example, you may not assert that Calvinists believe that matter is inherently evil, or that justification is progressive unless you can quote a Calvinist who explicitly states such a belief. A title from Calvin’s institutes will not be sufficient to establish that he taught what is stated in the title).
4. Each participant must define the terms he is using according to some accepted standard.
5. Though not a rule, the debate needs to center as much as possible on presuppositions, not on conclusions, since faulty conclusions are based on faulty presuppositions

I can only conclude that a person would refuse such rules if he intended to be dishonest and disingenuous in his presentation.

I invite you to explain to me why any honest person would object to such rules.

2 Responses to “We Believe, Therefore We Speak”

  1. June 1, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    Good to hear from you, my brother. Once again, you’ve gone into the pit known as Paul Dohse – one who speaks without knowledge. Scripture is authoritative, clear on the essentials, necessary, and sufficient. Dohse is in dire need of humility and and wisdom.

    • June 2, 2013 at 12:25 am

      Good to see you here. I keep promising myself that I won’t engage Dohse again, then yield to the temptation to see what straw man he is stuffing now. Then ” I cannot but speak.” It is heart-breaking to see how many of his readers are accepting his prodigious lies.

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