Archive for the 'Bonfire–Daily Straw Man' Category

08
Aug
13

The Death of Reason

There is a series of Direct TV commercials that are deliberately based on logical blunders called “Non sequiturs.” A non sequitur is an inference that does not necessarily follow from the premises that have been stated. You can view all of these on you on YouTube, Direct TV-Get rid of cable commercials. The following is the text from one of them.

When you have cable and can’t find something good to watch, you get depressed. When you get depressed, you attend seminars. When you attend seminars, you feel like a winner. When you feel like a winner, you go to Vegas. When you go to Vegas you lose everything. And when you lose everything, you sell your hair to a wig shop. Don’t sell your hair to a wig shop. Get rid of cable and upgrade to Direct TV.

Every time I visit blogs like Paul’s Passing Thoughts, expreacherman.com, or unreformingtheology.com, I feel as if I have been trapped in one of these commercials. What is humorous in a TV commercial, is tragic in theological discussion. The difference between these commercials and the above mentioned blogs is that the commercials at least begin with valid premises and then “reason” to illogical conclusions. In the case of these blogs and others like them, even the premises are usually flawed.

27
Jul
13

Rabid Anti-Calvinists

I have been strolling around the blogosphere this morning reading the comments of rabid anti-Calvinists and would like to make a few observations.

Firstly, it appears to me these people are really angry at God. They are people who don’t love God. They clearly have a deep-seated love for the god they have created in their own image, but they don’t love the God who has revealed himself in the Scriptures. They unabashedly state they could not love a God who would choose some to be saved and pass over others, leaving them in their sins. If God is going to be a God they can love and worship, he must love everyone equally and in the same way. He must do his best to save everyone. A god who does his best and fails isn’t worth worshipping. Our God is in the heavens, and he has done whatsoever he has pleased.

Secondly, these people almost never refer to the Scriptures apart from a few proof-text they have taken out of context. They will tell us what the Bible doesn’t say and in some cases are correct. For example, they will tell us John 3:16 does not say “For God so loved the elect.” I, for one, never though it did. John’s point in that verse is that the love of God is not confined to his covenant people, Israel; he loves vile sinners of every nation. The original Arminians seemed to be much more biblical. Still. even they quoted verses that did not prove their point. For some unknown reason they thought Acts 7:51 “you do always resist the Holy Spirit” disproves the doctrine of irresistible grace. No Calvinist argues that sinners are unable to resist the Holy Spirit. We argue the same fact the Scriptures argue—sinners in a state of nature ALWAYS resist the Holy Spirit.

Thirdly, these people almost never grapple with real issues. Their arguments are almost always against “straw men.” Sometimes they simply tell outright lies. For example, “Calvinists don’t believe in eternal security.” That came as quite a shock to me. Of course, Calvinists believe in the eternal security of true believers. What we deny is the eternal security of everyone who walks an aisle, signs a card, prays a prayer, punches a code into his iphone etc. Interestingly, our position happens to coincide with quite a number of Scriptures on this issue. For example, John 10:28 clearly tells us that Jesus gives his sheep eternal life and they shall never perish, but we must also consider how he describes his sheep in verse 27—“my sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me.” There is no indication that those who refuse to hear his voice and follow him are eternally secure. God’s people are kept by the power of God, but we are not saved apart from divinely produced persevering faith.

Fourthly, because they don’t have the exegetical ability to answer bona fide arguments, they resort to name calling. [Please note that referring to someone as an Arminian or as a Semi-Pelagian is not name calling. These are theological designations for those who believe in synergistic as opposed to monergistic salvation. That they are logically inconsistent concerning the doctrine of eternal security does not affect the issue one way or the other. If a person who believes in hypothetical universalism wishes to call himself a “four point Calvinist,” why should we not refer to these people as “four point Arminians?] The saddest part is they have resorted to calling God nasty names like “cruel bully.”

Fifthly, they deal falsely by not posting comments that make it clear they don’t know what they are talking about. This is blatantly dishonest. I will post any comment made here that follows the blog rules I have posted. If I refuse to post your comments, it is because you have not followed the rules, not because I disagree with your comment.

Let’s talk. I am ready to discuss the Scriptures with you people. Let’s have a real discussion of biblical texts in their contexts. Name a topic and let’s discuss what the Scriptures have to say about it.

04
Jul
13

Heretics Indeed.

Paul Dohse Sr. has the unmitigated gall to call Calvinists “heretics.” Yet, the following is a sample from the comments made by those who regularly comment on his blog and attend his “conferences.” These people who deny the inspiration and authority of Scripture, the Trinity, the distinct personalities of members of the God-head, Jesus’ mission to bring glory to the Father etc., are Paul’s close associates. Additionally, like Paul, they continue to make outrageous claims that don’t even come close to accurately representing what Calvinists believe. Here is an example:

Here, this is as close as I can come to the Holy Spirit’s “mission statement”.

“When He is come, He will
reprove(or convict) THE WORLD of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”

Oops, I forgot, the Holy Spirit can’t convict the unregenerate according to you…””

(Who believes that?)

In the above comment, a woman named Lydia Malone is quoting a comment from A. J. Butler who calls himself “freegracefull.”

Then she writes:

EXACTLY!!! Those who will be convicted have already been chosen so the work of the Holy Spirit was done before the foundation of the world. Which is why the whole convo is MOOT with a Calvinist since man has no input at all. They cannot be “convicted” except by force and that was done before Adam sinned. It has all been determined. So why would Randy even be debating? What would be the point? It has all been determined. He knows truth and we are incapable of getting it. That was predetermined for us. We have no volition, remember?

What is missing in Calvinism? LOVE. There is NO love relationship within the Triune God nor between God and man. It is all force. How do they get around this? They redefine the word “love”.

I challenge anyone to find anything like this in anything I have written here or elsewhere.

Of course, I believe all has been determined but that does not mean God has directly caused everything that has occurred. He does not need to “force” sinners to sin. Who denies that sinners possess volition? Do these people relish lying or are they simply speaking out of the abundance of their ignorance?

One of Paul’s buddies named Argo who has a blog called “Unreforming Theology” denies both the Trinity and the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures. He wrote,

The whole argument of the trinity could be avoided by simply denying it. It isn’t in the bible, and so it seems fairly irrelevant. What we know is that God is infinite and absolute. Thus, ANY attribute of God is by definition ALL God. You cannot have “part” God or “part” infinite. Any manifestation of God is God. Whether one, three or five, etc. His “finger” in Exodus is logically ALL God.

There is no trinity. Which is why it isn’t in the bible. Argo (emphasis and italics mine)

I’m not a fan of Paul (the apostle…I am a huge fan of Paul Dohse) either. He is all over the map metaphysically in his epistles. But John Immel makes the case for lightening up on him a bit. The context he was operating in was exceedingly difficult for any one man…he was doing the hard work of going up against some of the most consistent and entrenched philosophies of the time. (Emphasis and italics mine)

Still…yeah, you gotta take his “doctrines” with a grain of rational salt and realize that on some things, taken at face value anyway, he just gets wrong.
Argo

(Emphasis and italics mine).

Lydia denies the distinction between the three persons of the Trinity in a statement that sounds very much like Modalism. She wrote,

This is one of those assumptions that sounds pious but has no real meaning. Jesus’ “mission” was to bring Glory to the Father? But isn’t Jesus, God? The Holy Spirit, God?. God is God. So bringing “Glory” to the Father is the same as bringing Glory to Himself.

Lydia

Yes, Jesus is God, but he is not the Father. The Spirit is God but he is neither the Father nor the Son. God is one but he does not merely “manifest” himself in one of these modes. He is not one God with three hats.

Another guy named James Jordan wrote,

Romans 8:30, eh? If any of this crap were true why is there never any mention in the Old Testament that there is coming some day a scheme of salvation based on predestination from before the world began? Paul is just Gnostic trash. (Emphasis and italics mine).

One wonders why Paul doesn’t call these people “heretics” since they truly are. You don’t suppose the motive could be money do you?

Such statements should make any right minded believer avoid these people. Paul wrote, “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather reprove them.”

24
Feb
13

The Bonfire–Straw Man Argument #6

Today’s prize goes to a woman who calls herself “trust4himonly.” Her comment occurred over at expreacherman.com. The nifty think about their blog is they can tell all the prodigious lies they wish, but don’t allow comments that disagree with their slanderous statements. Her comments are basically a mindless regurgitation of Paul Dohse’s enigmatic pronouncements. He has little idea what he is talking about and his followers are even more clueless. Even after being told numerous times that he is misrepresenting the Calvinistic position, he continues to spew his vitriolic comments. Since he has been told so often that he is misrepresenting our position, I can only conclude his persistence in doing so is a deliberate and malicious act. I only say this to warn you about him, much like I would warn you about a mad dog in the street. He cannot be taken seriously by anyone who understands what we really believe, but for those who depend on him to tell them the truth, his comments can be extremely damaging. The following is what she wrote:

Calvinists look at Christ being outside the picture of the believer then [rather than?] being inside of the believer (this is the reason you do not hear of the Holy Spirit being in taught in the context of molding and shaping within the believer). Everything is in the context of the “Christian” not being fully saved until they have persevered in the faith- which means this is an oxymoron because they contradict themselves continually by saying that only one can rely on Christ for that salvation. Calvinists are really no different then [from] the Arminianist [Arminian] (even though they would aggressively disagree) because they view a work that must be done instead a ONE TIME justification based on Christs death and ressurrection. The Calvinist believes that Jesus Christ had to live a life of perfect obedience and [is] STILL obeying for us so that we could be saved.

I have written quite a lot on this blog that answers many of the issues she has raised. I would simply refer you to my posts about “progressive justification,” “the gospel,” and “the imputation of Christ’s righteousness,” to learn what I believe. I believe my views on these issues are consistent with the classic Calvinistic position.

The Westminster Confession of Faith States

Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness, by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

Let me simply list the issues I believe she is raising and then briefly comment on them.

1 “Calvinists look at Christ being outside the picture of the believer then [rather than?] being inside of the believer.”
This erroneous statement is likely based on Mr Dohse’s misinterpretation of Calvinistic statements about the basis of the believer’s justification. That believers are not justified based infused grace or internal righteousness, but on a righteousness that is not theirs being imputed to their account does not mean God does nothing in believers or that “Christ is outside the believer.” Salvation involves more than justification. To say that the judicial declaration the Scriptures refer to as justification as a declaration outside of us, does not mean every work of God is outside of us.

2. “this is the reason you do not hear of the Holy Spirit being in taught in the context of molding and shaping within the believer.”

I am not sure what brand of Calvinism she has been exposed to, but most Calvinist pastors I know are committed to expository preaching. Typically, such pastors deal with whatever text is before them. If the passage concerns the ministry of the Spirit, the message will expound the ministry of the Spirit. If the passage deals with the redemptive work of Christ, the message will concern his work etc. Calvinists have no aversion to teaching about the Holy Spirit.

3. “Everything is in the context of the “Christian” not being fully saved until they have persevered in the faith-”

Here, of course, whether this is a straw man argument depends on what she means by ” fully saved.” Typically, such people use “saved” and “justified” synonymously. If that is the sense in which she is using the word “saved,” her statement has no validity whatsoever. We believe sinners are as righteous in the sight of God the moment they first believe as they will ever be. In that sense, be believe the newest believer is “full saved.”

There is another sense in which she is right. We do not think believers are “fully saved” simply because we have been declared completely righteous. Paul speaks of our salvation being “nearer than when we believed” (See Romans 13:11). Also, in more than one passage he uses the present tense to describe our salvation. The present tense in Greek is intended to express continuing action. A good translation would be “being saved” (see 1 Cor. 1:18; 15:2). We have been saved from sin’s penalty; we have been saved from sin’s reigning power; but we have yet to be saved from remaining sin in us, and from the presence of sin around us. We have yet to be conformed to Christ’s glorious image. When we stand in his presence at last, wholly conformed to his image, we will stand there as those who are “more than conquerors, through him who loved us.”

4. “they view [justification as ?]a work that must be done instead a ONE TIME justification based on Christs death and ressurrection.

I would probably be willing to offer a huge reward to anyone who could show me a Calvinist who believes our justification is based on anything other than the redemptive work of Christ. If you have any doubt about what we believe on this subject, please refer to the Westminster Confession above.

5. “The Calvinist believes that Jesus Christ had to live a life of perfect obedience and [is] STILL obeying for us so that we could be saved.”

Though we do believe Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience to the Law and, thus, provided for those united to him by faith a perfect righteousness, we do not believe he is STILL obeying for us. The period of his obedience is over. The period of his sojourn under the Law has come to an end. His current ministry is one of intercession in which he applies his finished work to his people.

20
Feb
13

The Bonfire–Straw man argument #5

Tracking down “straw man” stuffers and burners is a target-rich environment. I have seldom seen such vitriol spewed by those who claim to be fellow believers in Christ as I have found on several of the blog sites I have visited. My suspicion is that not one of them has ever read anything a Calvinist has written. One almost gets the impression they haven’t studied the Scriptures very much either. I have not yet seen one of them offer an exegetically sound argument to prove their positions. It appears they are content to gather around their bonfire and toss their straw men into the fire. In our search for such “straw man burners, today’s prize goes to—
Kenneth Groenewald | February 11, 2013 at 8:41 am |

(Posted at http://www.expreacherman.com)

He wrote,

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 2 Cor4:4. The Calvinists would have us believe that it is God who blinds the minds of the unbelievers and not Satan. The Calvinists have created an Ogre for their God who blinds the minds of the unbelievers so that He prevents them from ever being saved. Sick.

On the page where I found this comment, I left a request for some kind of substantiating citation from a real Calvinist, but, of course, my comment wasn’t posted. I don’t think it is too much to ask to request a real quotation of a person’s actual remarks. Who is the phantom Calvinist who makes all these wild statements that no other Calvinists seem to believe? If only we could get recorded statements or excerpts from his writings, perhaps we could show him the error of his ways.

The truth is, no such Calvinist exists. No Calvinist “would have us believe that it is God who blinds the minds of unbelievers.” No Calvinist would have us believe “God. . .prevents them [sinners] from ever being saved.” We believe sinners are blind by sinful nature. Through Satan’s (the god of this age) temptation, Adam, the representative of all in him, fell into sin, and thus all his offspring became bind in unbelief. In this way, the god of this age has blinded those who believe not. It would be unnecessary for God to blind anyone, even if he wished to do so. Sinners are blind already. It is the work of God’s Anointed One to open the eyes of the blind, not to close them (See Isa. 35:5; 42:7). God never prevents anyone being saved who wishes to be saved. He delights in showing mercy to sinners (See Micah 7:18).

It is true, God blinds sinners as an act of judgment (See Isa. 6:9-10) and John 12:39-40), but he does so in the sense that he judicially determines to leave them in their blindness due to their persistent unbelief in the face of abundant revelation (cf. John 12:37). Still, this is not a belief that is exclusively Calvinistic, but the belief of anyone who believes the teaching of Scripture.

11
Feb
13

The Bonfire–Straw Man Argument #4

The following question was asked in response to a statement made by a Calvinist regarding the relationship between the sinner’s choice and God’s choice.

“We are free to choose the flavor of ice cream we want, color of socks that we are going to wear today, and what we want for breakfast, but not God?”

This question is obviously based on the straw man argument that Calvinists don’t believe sinners are able to make active and free choices but, like puppets or robots, are controlled by God apart from conscious and culpable decisions they make.

In answer to this argument I would invite you to read my post “Arminian Presupposition #s 11 & 12.”

The answer is, sinners are as free to choose God and Christ if they want to as you are to choose the flavor of ice cream you wish, the sock color you wish, or what you wish for breakfast. No one believes sinners can’t choose what they wish. What Calvinist believe is that sinners are unable to choose what they hate.

11
Feb
13

The Bonfire–Straw Man Argument #3

Straw Man Argument #3 Calvinists don’t believe in assurance of salvation.

Last week on another blog, the comments of a Calvinist were posted in response to a specific question about why Calvinists preach the gospel to people even though they may not be among the elect. His answer was that we cannot know who the elect are until the final judgment. For that reason, we proclaim the good news to people indiscriminately. The blog owner took from that answer that this man does not believe it is possible for believers to enjoy assurance of salvation. It did not seem to matter to anyone commenting on that post that the question he was answering had nothing whatsoever to do with the assurance of salvation. They were all convinced that Calvinists don’t believe assurance of salvation is possible. One of them wrote on another blog, as if he were stating the Calvinist’s position, “You see, no one can know if they are truly elect or not until they stand before God and He pronounces His arbitrary and subjective judgment upon them.” This is clearly a straw man argument. Though we do not believe that assurance is of the essence of faith, we believe assurance is possible and desirable. I would refer you not only to my article on this blog re: the assurance of salvation but to the two Calvinistic statements below. Please observe that the standard of judgment is anything but “arbitrary” and “subjective.” The first statement is from the original formulation of the doctrine we call Calvinism, “The Canons of Dort”– 1619. The second is from “The Westminster Confession of Faith,” universally acknowledged to be a Calvinistic confession.

Canons of Dort
FIRST HEAD: ARTICLE 12. The elect in due time, though in various degrees and in different measures, attain the assurance of this their eternal and unchangeable election, not by inquisitively prying into the secret and deep things of God, but by observing in themselves with a spiritual joy and holy pleasure the infallible fruits of election pointed out in the Word of God – such as, a true faith in Christ, filial fear, a godly sorrow for sin, a hungering and thirsting after righteousness, etc.

Westminster Confession of Faith (Chapter 18)

CHAPTER 18
Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation

1. Although hypocrites and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favor of God, and estate of salvation(a) (which hope of theirs shall perish(b): yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him in sincerity, endeavoring to walk in all good conscience before him, may, in this life, be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace,(c) and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed.(d)

(a) Mic 3:11; Deut 29:19; John 8:41
(b) Amos 9:10; Matt 7:22-23
(c) 1 John 5:13; 1 John 2:3; 1 John 3:14,18-19,21,24
(d) Rom 5:2,5

2. This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope;(e) but an infallible assurance of faith founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation,(f) the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made,(g) the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God,(h) which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption.(i)
(e) Heb 6:11,19
(f) Heb 6:17-18
(g) 2 Pet 1:4-11; 1 John 2:3; 1 John 3:14; 2 Cor 1:12
(h) Rom 8:15-16
(i) Eph 1:13-14; Eph 4:30; 2 Cor 1:21-22

3. This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties, before he be partaker of it(k) yet, being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation, in the right use of ordinary means, attain thereunto.(l) And therefore it is the duty of everyone to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure,(m) that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, the proper fruits of this assurance;(n) so far is it from inclining men to looseness.(o)
(k) 1 John 5:13
(l) 1 Cor 2:12; 1 John 4:13; Heb 6:11-12; Eph 3:17-18
(m) 2 Pet 1:10
(n) Rom 5:1-2,5; Rom 14:17; Rom 15:13; Eph 1:3-4; Ps 4:6-7; Ps 119:32
(o) 1 John 2:1-2; Rom 6:1-2; Titus 2:11-12,14; 2 Cor 7:1; Rom 8:1,12; 1 John 3:2-3; Ps 130:4; 1 John 1:6-7

4. True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as, by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin which woundeth the conscience and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation, by God’s withdrawing the light of his countenance, and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light:(p) yet are they never utterly destitute of that seed of God, and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart, and conscience of duty, out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may, in due time, be revived;(q) and by the which, in the meantime, they are supported from utter despair.(r)

(p) Ps 51:8,12,14; Eph 4:30-31; Ps 77:1-10; Ps 31:22; Matt 26:69-72; Luke 22:31-34
(q) 1 John 3:9; Luke 22:32; Ps 51:8,12; Ps 73:15
(r) Mic 7:7-9; Jer 32:40; Isa 54:7-14; 2 Cor 4:8-10

I don’t think language could be plainer. It is true we don’t believe a person can be assured of eternal salvation simply by virtue of a public profession of faith he has made. John wrote his first epistle to professed believers so that they might know they know God. In other words, he wrote to them that they might obtain assurance of salvation. If every believer possessed assurance, John’s epistle would have been unnecessary. Still, this epistle along with other biblical passages makes it clear that assurance of salvation is possible for the child of God.