Friday, April 27, 2007

All Too Typical Exchange

The following is an exchange I had several months ago with a long-time poster over at Zola Levitt's message boards. This exchange began due to some rather interesting statements made by an individual who calls herself "Littlesooz" (the very same Littlesooz that made this insightful statement). The exchange starts out well enough but as the reader will notice, Littlesooz becomes more and more defensive until she finally just shuts down. To me, this exchange highlights the problem that far too many professing Christians are not willing to honestly and accurately interact with opposing viewpoints and when called on it, will resort to personal attack. This brief exchange begins here and can be viewed by simply scrolling down thru the various posts.

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Littlesooz,

I wish to address some of the things that you have stated in this thread and in another over in the debates section. You are a long-time member here and people seem to like and respect you. This means that things you say could carry weight with others here and some of the things you are saying in regards to Calvinism are simply not accurate. So, my interest here is to curtail any misconceptions of what I believe from spreading. For instance, this statement...

I totally reject the Calvinistic view of Limited Atonement and so cannot go along with Mog's view that certain babies are chosen to die in their sin and go to Hell.

...does not represent Calvinism en toto, nor does it represent moG's views or mine. The doctrine of Limited Atonement does not necessitate that all babies automatically go to hell. Many Calvinists hold the view that those who die in infancy have Christ's atonement applied to them. Moreover, this issue has more to do with the doctrine of Original Sin than it does with the purpose and extent of the atonement. Thus, you are attacking the wrong doctrine.

And this statement:

Tron, it speaks of nonsense to me. Any teaching where one needs a degree in theology to understand is a nonsense also.

I personally have no degree in theology but I understand Calvinism just fine. All one has to do in order to understand Calvinism is to read what Calvinists say about what they believe. One does not do what you have done here, namely, getting their definitions of what Calvinists believe from people who are strongly opposed to Calvinism such as D.A. Waite. For example, if someone were to criticize your belief in the Trinity, and used a non-trinitarian's arguments and definitions to prove their points, you would vigorously object, would you not? But this is precisely what you have done. Waite gives two mischaracterized definitions of Limited Atonement and proceeds to criticize the doctrine. The problem is that the one that's labeled "mixed-up", is the view that most Calvinists with whom I am familiar believe in, including myself. Calvinists believe that since Christ is deity, His sacrifice has unlimited value. If God had so chosen, He could have redeemed the whole of mankind 100 times over. The issue is over the *intent* and *purpose* of Christ's atonement. Waite is merely muddying the waters with his presentation. Also, this goes into your statements in the debates section that were indirctly pointed to me. That is, you seem to be basing your knowledge and opinions of Calvinism on the writings of men such as Dave Hunt and D.A. Waite. This is fundamentally no different than a juror rendering a guilty verdict based solely on the prosecutor's presentation. Surely, you see the inconsistency in this.

Also, in regards to your request for a definition of double predestination, when non-Calvinists go to critique "double predestination", they are actually referring to a notion called "active reprobation". Active reprobation is the belief that God *actively* reprobates men, meaning that God is directly causing men to sin for the purpose of damning them. This view is held by some *hyper-Calvinists*, but not main-line Calvinists.

Having said all this, I sincerely hope that you will follow Jan's example and try your best to understand what Calvinists believe and why, so that, if you continue to disagree with them, you can at least accurately represent their views. Moreover, I wish to apologize here and now if my post seems a bit pointed. It is not my intention to disparage you personally. And I would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have in regards to Calvinistic doctrine.

I think it is unwise to compare me to Jan.

It wasn't a comparison really, rather, a recommendation. Jan knows what Calvinists believe and she does her best to accurately represent those beliefs when discussing them. She has went as far as to defend those beliefs (that she doesn't agree with) from misrepresentation which is comendable and, I think, the Christian thing to do.

If you read the short testimony I gave then you might (if you try) to see my heart on the subject of Calvinism.

If you are referring to your loss, then yes, I have read it and I offer my condolences. But I must point out that scriptural truth cannot be judged in this way. I say this because your testimony suggests that you are rejecting Calvinistic theology because of this episode in your life. Moreover, you were proceeding on the false assumption that Calvinists all taught and believed the same thing in regards to infants. As moG and myself have pointed out, we do not. And as you yourself said, there is not much to go by in scripture to say dogmatically what happens to those who die in infancy. One can only speculate on the available data.

I am not totally ignorant on the subject...

Nor did I mean to imply that you were. You obviously have read something on the subject. My concern is that you may have not read enough or, you may have been reading the wrong stuff. If all you have read is Hunt's book and articles by D.A. Waite, then my example of a juror hearing only one side of the case is accurate.

The fact that I had to ask Tron for a definition of "double predestination" shows that Calvinism itself is a multiplicity of beliefs within the system.

All theological systems have a "multiplicity of beliefs". No theological subject is as simple as it first seems. Take Christ's deity for example. If you examine the controversy at Nicea, you will find that the discussions got long and deep into many questions and these questions have not been completely resovled to this day. To criticize Calvinism on the basis that it can be "deep", is overly simplistic and inconsistent when the whole of Christian theology is considered.

I have often quoted something that Calvinists believe, "Limited Atonement" for example and someone will say "oh but we don't hold to that view" we believe something else. You have just done it.

If you have always used D.A. Waite's presentation, I can see why. But this does not accurately represent my objection to your use of Waite's material. You seem to be suggesting that Calvinists are "shifty" on their views. Is this what you are suggesting? If so, I would of course object on the basis of your choice of sources for what we believe. If you are getting bad information of what we believe, then you will certainly get the response you have mentioned.

My walk with Jesus is simple and I believe that it is my duty to point out to others that they needn't feel pushed into a belief system that has no relevance to their faith.

I see no one here pushing anyone into believing the doctrines of grace. In fact, I have never seen a Calvinist "pushing" their doctrine on anyone. Further, if Calvinism is true, then it does indeed have relevance to one's faith.

I see it as an elitist doctrine.

And did you get this opinion from Dave Hunt?

I respect the way you guys debate it and I admire your understanding of it and your knowledge of church history.

If so, then did you accept my explanations in my previous post? Your comments above in regards to Limited Atonement along with your post to Stronghold would seem to suggest that you didn't.

For myself, I believe I am qualified to speak into it.

I suppose that would depend on what you mean by "qualified". Everyone has a right to their own private opinion of course. But if you are claiming this based on reading Dave Hunt, then I respectfully disagree.

Not because I understand the letter of it but because I have studied it enough to know I reject it as part of my life in Christ.

Okay, so who have you studied? Piper, Sproul, White? I ask because to claim to be studied on Calvinism requires that you read those who espouse it. For instance, one does not become studied in history by reading books on physics.

I have quoted two men on the subject whose knowledge you have rejected.

And I have stated just *why* I reject those two men's explanations of my beliefs.

I have read other books on the subject and I'm sure you didn't come to your own views through reading the Scriptures alone.

And were these books pro or con? I can't emphasize enough that one must listen to both sides of a debate in order to make an informed decision on the truthfulness of any given topic.

My post stands as it is. It speaks for me and my beliefs.

As does mine.

That is all that is required and I do not have to answer to you.

Forgive me, but, this is a cop-out. I do not believe that you must "answer to me". What I do believe is that folks should accurately represent my beliefs before they critique and/or rake them over the coals as you have done here on this thread. This statement to Stronghold...

Watch this! They will deny it is like I am saying and come up with something that says, "oh it is not like that, only some Calvinists believe that or the hypers or the partials or the Lutherans or the others believe something else.

...is a canard. What you are doing is intimating that Calvinists are deceptive in their beliefs and when called on it, you fall back to saying that you don't have to answer for the things you put in print.

Your reply concerning my testimony reveals to me that you do not have the faintest idea of what I am talking about.

If I am as off as you claim here, then by all means demonstrate it. As it is, I do not know what it is like to lose a sibling, true. But I do know that you do not use this to brow-beat other's viewpoints, especially without the benefit of accurate supporting argumentation.

We might as well come from different planets.

In regards to how we go about critiquing the viewpoints of others, then yes, we do.

You would recommend that I become like Jan. I would recommend that you receive the heart from the Lord that is in Dave Hunt.

If Dave Hunt were a better man than I, then I would welcome it. But you don't know him or me, so you have no real basis to make such a statement. Sure, you've met him, but does that mean you know him personally? Do you visit him often? Perhaps have dinner with him and his family on occasion? Moreover, my differences with Hunt are not about Hunt's personality; they are about his argumentation.

I am not intimating that Calvinists are deceptive. I am saying that there are aberrations to the Calvinistic doctrine.

Of course there are aberrations in Calvinism. But this is true of any and every Christian doctrine. Thus, for you to argue successfully against Calvinism, you would need to demonstrate that I, or moG, or whoever, is engaged in aberration by using source material from Calvinistic writers. This would take us back to my points in regards to your sources for what you believe about Calvinism.

I can only argue from the points of Calvinism of which I have read.

Okay, so again, who have you read besides Dave Hunt and articles by D.A. Waite?

If you choose to distort the meaning of Calvinism itself, then there is no discussion.

In order to suggest this, you would have to have knowledge of Calvinism from Calvinistic sources so that you could distinguish between what I say, and what Calvinism says. Thus far, I see only your suggestion that I'm distorting Calvinism based on your reading of Dave Hunt and D.A. Waite. I will continue to belabor the point that what you are doing is no different than, say, an atheist attacking christianity based on nothing more than the writings of other atheists.

You tell me to demonstrate where you are "off".

Yes I do. It is easy to make an assertion. It's altogether a different story when one has to substantiate that assertion when challenged.

All I can say is that you debate from the letter, I discuss from my heart.

And this is a fine example of an assertion that you will not, and cannot, substantiate. You have no idea if I discuss these issues "from my heart" or, if I'm here to debate for the thrill of it. As it is, I am here to defend the truth of the doctrines of grace against those who would attack and misrepresent them.

I discuss this because I believe Calvinism as it is generally understood to be an erroneous teaching not for one upmanship as a debater. I would lose in that field every time.

Generally understood by whom? Dave Hunt? Again, where does your knowledge of Calvinism come from? You have been challenged on your statements in regards to Calvinism by four different people on this thread and two of them are not even Calvinists themselves. Yet you continue to suggest, without benefit of argument or documentation from Calvinistic sources, that we are wrong and you are right in our understanding of the issues. Further, you continue to suggest that I'm not sincere about the truth but are only interested in winning an argument. But again, you cannot substantiate this since you don't know me from Adam's house-cat.

Your post demonstrates nothing that warrants a reply from me.

Fin

31 comments:

Bob said...

"All I can say is that you debate from the letter, I discuss from my heart.

And this is a fine example of an assertion that you will not, and cannot, substantiate. You have no idea if I discuss these issues "from my heart" or, if I'm here to debate for the thrill of it. As it is, I am here to defend the truth of the doctrines of grace against those who would attack and misrepresent them."


Yeah this is generally one of the most popular lines you here. "I just know in my heart Calvinism is wrong." This is a form of anti intellectualism, like Christians aren't supposed to think we are just supposed to drop out and take trips with God.

All I want to say is that I am a 5 point Calvinist and I am hearty for God. I love Jesus, I get teary in worship. I worship God with my heart. And because I love God heartily I do my homework and study His word, study church history, and theology. Honestly, woe is me if I approach these subjects with no heart for God. But also woe is me if I justify my laziness in doctrine as not wanting to be "of the letter but of the heart".

Anonymous said...

I was doing a little surfing, came across Tron's name, so I did some reading.
Now the kool-aid drinkers that populate Zola's board not only haven't read any Calvinism, I doubt they have the patience to read a book. IOW; you're playing with your food. FYI, I've never read Waite, and I dismissed Hunt as a charlatan long before he decided to raise money attacking Calvinism.
Tron is another matter. I've known him for 10+ years, but only on the net and by occasional phone call. While we disagree, I find him quite learned for a layman.
Limited Atonement began as a seed under Calvin (his commentary on 1John is one of the few places he addressed it), pushed its stalk up under Beza's reign, and became a full flowering tulip at Dordt.
Now you'll look at the atonement, as well as everything I write, through the juridical prism that Western scholasticism has wrought on the theological world since Anselm published "Why God became Man." But I am addressing the subject of Christ's atonement ontologically; that is His incarnation, life, death, descent into Hades, and resurrection should be viewed as a unitary whole, as well as viewing His works as a sort of bonding action between God and man, His and ours being and existence.
He became consubstantial with human nature in Mary's womb, lived His life purely and taught the gospel.... I think we agree so far. It's the meaning and purpose of His death where we'll part. I will say He took upon human nature and death so as to destroy death; death being the object, not necessarily guilt. I have no problem with guilt mataphors and paradigms, I just find them weak as they have a tendency to break down when pressed too far. He also vanquished death in Hades in His descent, and raised humanity to the heavenlies in His resurrection and ascension.
Now let's get to where we'll really disagree. All men, women, infants (and yes, even Calvinists) will rise from the dead. Why? Christ's resurrection. To segregate the reprobates from Christ's atoning work begs the question; by what means do they rise from the dead apart fom Christ's resurrection?

Cheers!
Don Bradley

Anonymous said...

I need to make a correction; well, sort of. I was commenting on Limited Atonement as it is used in Reformedom. I believe there was some usage of LA prior to Calvin (I believe Luther dabbled in it for a time), but LA earlier on was with reference to ecclesiology; i.e. those outside the Church, mostly stuff in the Middle Ages. You won't find reference to it in any kind of detailed form despite the best efforts to torture the Fathers by guys like Horton in "Putting Amazing Back into Grace", etc (note how Horton failed to provide the references for the quotes in the back... ever wonder why?). On the scale of historical theology, Dordt's LA is new. Isn't it trite how they made an acronym just to bolster sales of their flowers?

BTW, nice icon of Calvin. But I thought Calvinists were iconoclasts?

Anyway, a toast.... a pint of ale to Calvin, wherever he is!

Don Bradley

J. Matthew Cleary said...

Hi Bob,

How are things at The Puritan's Sword?

"Yeah this is generally one of the most popular lines you here. "I just know in my heart Calvinism is wrong." This is a form of anti intellectualism, like Christians aren't supposed to think we are just supposed to drop out and take trips with God."

Too true. Whenever I run up on someone arguing like this I'll simply throw the argument back at them and ask how we are supposed to know who is right? In other words, if one person says that he feels from his heart that something is wrong, and the other guy says the same thing to say it's right, how are they to determine who is correct? Ultimately, it leads right back to where it should never have left, namely, the scriptures.

J. Matthew Cleary said...

Hello Don!

Thank you for taking the time to post your thoughts here.

"Tron is another matter. I've known him for 10+ years, but only on the net and by occasional phone call. While we disagree, I find him quite learned for a layman."

Yes, Tron is quite knowledgable. The thing that I always respected him most for though was the fact that he would vigorously defend Calvinism from the emotional tirades that is so typical of those who post at ZB even though he is a Lutheran. To defend a viewpoint that you don't agree with from misrepresentation is a distinguishing virtue in my opinion.

"Now you'll look at the atonement, as well as everything I write, through the juridical prism that Western scholasticism has wrought on the theological world since Anselm..."

Of course, I would disagree that my view of Christ's atonement comes by way of "western scholasticism". Being the Prot that I am, I would say that my view of the atonement is derived by way of scriptural reference only.

"I will say He took upon human nature and death so as to destroy death; death being the object, not necessarily guilt. I have no problem with guilt mataphors and paradigms, I just find them weak as they have a tendency to break down when pressed too far."

If by this you mean to deny the penal substitutionary theory of Christ's atonement then yes, we do disagree.

"Now let's get to where we'll really disagree. All men, women, infants (and yes, even Calvinists) will rise from the dead. Why? Christ's resurrection."

I don't want to misunderstand you here so I need to ask if you are endorsing some form of universalism?

"To segregate the reprobates from Christ's atoning work begs the question;..."

I suppose that it would beg the question only if penal substitution is not the true nature of the atonement. That is, what seperates the elect from the reprobate in time is Christ's imputed righteousness which comes only by way of His atoning work. Once imputation has taken place, the sinner is justified and justification leads necessarily to sanctification and glorification.

"You won't find reference to it in any kind of detailed form despite the best efforts to torture the Fathers by guys like Horton in "Putting Amazing Back into Grace", etc (note how Horton failed to provide the references for the quotes in the back... ever wonder why?)."

I haven't read Horton's work so I can't comment on his use or misuse of references.

"Isn't it trite how they made an acronym just to bolster sales of their flowers?"

Unless you're kidding, I'm not quite following you here.

"BTW, nice icon of Calvin. But I thought Calvinists were iconoclasts?"

Well, the icon of Calvin is decorative in nature only. I attach no religious significance to it otherwise. That is, I don't venerate it in any sense whatsoever outside of thinking that it looked "cool" on my blog. This is "Conversations in Calvinism" afterall!

Anonymous said...

"Of course, I would disagree that my view of Christ's atonement comes by way of "western scholasticism". Being the Prot that I am, I would say that my view of the atonement is derived by way of scriptural reference only."

You provided two examples of what I was referencing in one paragraph.
A. Luther's big breakthrough came about 1515, in which he split justification and regeneration in the ordo salutis. The ordo salutis itself is a Western scholastic development that never occurred until the Middle Ages, and Luther and Calvin were at the end of that development, not the beginning. The split Luther made in the ordo was never before offered, nor even contemplated, in the mind of any man prior to Luther (that is a paraphrase of Alister McGrath, Iustitia Dei, vol.1, last page). First you would have to make a good case for doctrinal devlopment, and then you would have to reason a way around not tossing overboard 15 centuries of Christians prior to this devlopment.
B. Sola Scriptura itself arises from Luther's response to the Diet of Worms. The ability to offer such a defense only came about by the invention of the printing press.
Both of these you inherited in a philosophical grid or lens through which you now read scripture and say, "Ha! There it is!" None of us come to scripture with a blank slate; we come with presuppositions, all of us.

"If by this you mean to deny the penal substitutionary theory of Christ's atonement then yes, we do disagree."

If by penal and substitutionary you mean Christ dies for you particularly then yes, we disagree. In becoming consubstantial with our humanity, humanity that He took from Mary, His divine nature and His human nature formed a hypostatic union, and in that union He became one with all mankind for all time. In that union, He became consubstantial with every human being.

"I don't want to misunderstand you here so I need to ask if you are endorsing some form of universalism?"

If I had your atonement theory, then I would be a universalist. So the answer to your question is no.

"That is, what seperates the elect from the reprobate in time is Christ's imputed righteousness which comes only by way of His atoning work. Once imputation has taken place, the sinner is justified and justification leads necessarily to sanctification and glorification."

Which has to be in your juridical scheme. However, man's foundational problem is not guilt, but death. Adam sinned and died. You, however, inherited not guilt, but death, and because of that you sin (precisely opposite of Adam). Your view of the atonement only addresses the symptoms (sin and guilt) and not the problem (death). In fact, since you segregate the reprobate from the atonement, I am not quite sure you even see death being conquered at all. Why does anybody rise from the dead? Every man, woman, child, and zygote will rise from the dead (let me be clear; every graveyard will be emptied physically), and the only reason I can fathom is that we all rise because Christ has risen. You are glossing over the main tenet of the gospel; Christ destroyed death.

""Isn't it trite how they made an acronym just to bolster sales of their flowers?"
Unless you're kidding, I'm not quite following you here."

It's always been a huge export of Holland, which is why they chose the tulip to make the acronym; it wasn't a coincidence. I was making a playful jab. BTW, for future reference, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to make humorous jabs; so if you think something can be taken as a joke, it is.

Don Bradley

J. Matthew Cleary said...

Hi Don,

"First you would have to make a good case for doctrinal devlopment, and then you would have to reason a way around not tossing overboard 15 centuries of Christians prior to this devlopment."

First, why would I have to do any such thing? I mean, I didn't know that we were debating my viewpoints here Don. But if I wanted to establish my assertion that my views are derived from consideration of holy writ alone, then it seems to me that it would be enough to simply establish those views by referencing scripture only. Also, I have not delved too deep into historical theology so I cannot comment one way or another on your statements about Luther and Calvin or what you've stated about "overthrowing 15 centuries of christians". But I will say that if the scriptures are what they themselves claim to be, then there is no higher source of authority for appeal in reference to my views. Thus, whether or not I'm contradicting "15 centuries of christians" is a secondary matter to me.

"Both of these you inherited in a philosophical grid or lens through which you now read scripture and say, "Ha! There it is!" None of us come to scripture with a blank slate; we come with presuppositions, all of us."

So if we all read scripture thru some presupposed grid or lens, then what about you? What is your presupposed philosphical grid or lens by which you come to scripture? As for myself, I am quite comfortable with presupposing the authority of scripture to guide my theological viewpoints.

"Which has to be in your juridical scheme."

Well then, what "has to be" in your "scheme" of things?

"However, man's foundational problem is not guilt, but death."

I disagree. Death is the result of sin and guilt. This means that sin and guilt are more foundational than death itself.

"You, however, inherited not guilt, but death, and because of that you sin (precisely opposite of Adam)."

Again, I disagree. If we were all counted as sinners from Adam onward as Romans 5:19 explicitly states, then the problem for us is the same as Adam and not the opposite. If we were counted as sinners, then we were indeed counted guilty.

"Your view of the atonement only addresses the symptoms (sin and guilt) and not the problem (death)."

But since we do in fact inherit sin and guilt then these are indeed the problems and death is the symptom.

"In fact, since you segregate the reprobate from the atonement, I am not quite sure you even see death being conquered at all."

I would say that it is God who does the segregating through eternity past. And of course I do see death as being conquered. But I would draw a distinction between physical and spiritual death. Spiritual death is conquered at regeneration while physical death will be conquered at the final consummation.

"It's always been a huge export of Holland, which is why they chose the tulip to make the acronym; it wasn't a coincidence."

I also disagree with how you are characterizing Dort's motivations. According to your statements, it would appear that Dort formulated the doctrines of grace into 5 points for the express purpose of monetary gain. The reality however, is that T.U.L.I.P. would not have come into existence if not for the Remonstrance. But I suspect that you already know this.

"I was making a playful jab. BTW, for future reference, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to make humorous jabs; so if you think something can be taken as a joke, it is."

There is nothing wrong with playful jabs and humor per se. However, you and I do not know each other at all thus making your "playful jabs" somewhat inappropriate at this juncture. That is, since we do not know each other, offense may be unintentionally given and such would kill any attempt at civil dialogue.

Anonymous said...

"But I will say that if the scriptures are what they themselves claim to be, then there is no higher source of authority for appeal in reference to my views. Thus, whether or not I'm contradicting "15 centuries of christians" is a secondary matter to me."

The problem isn't with scripture, it's with the individual reading them. Ever wonder why ten people read a verse and come away with 15 different opinions? You read a section, filter it through your theological/philosophical grid that society and culture has given you, and your mind grasps at an outcome it already had planned when it opened the book. You put more weight on some verses, less on others; everybody does it, because nobody can approach it with a blank mind (except the Zola people, whose minds are always blank). In sola scriptura, you are the authority, the infallible interpreter. Only your interpretation of what you read is infallible.

"What is your presupposed philosphical grid or lens by which you come to scripture? "

That which has been believed always, everywhere, and by all. If it is new, if I can pinpoint its origin at any point after the Apostles, I dismiss it as a novelty. If it is localized to one area of the world, is regional, etc.; I dismiss it as a quirk of that society. Believed by all, or to say at least most, of all Christians of all time. I used to drink in Luther and Calvin like water, and how they went on and on about how Rome changed everything. But when I went back and read the very men they quoted, I found something neither Roman nor Reformed.

"Well then, what "has to be" in your "scheme" of things?"

As I said, ontology. Christ had a divine nature from His Father, and took on a human nature from His mother; the incarnation. He took on death to destroy death, and to share the life of the Trinity with humanity. If you're looking for who is saved, and who is not, or some other such formula from me; I find it a stupid game. Calvin himself would have wretched over the system people have made of his works.

"I disagree. Death is the result of sin and guilt. This means that sin and guilt are more foundational than death itself."

For Adam, not you. Adam sinned, and then he died. You, as a baby, inherited death in all its forms; physical, separation from God, even your mind that you use to interpret scripture is marred by death as brain cells die at an astounding rate. Death passed to all men, not guilt. Otherwise, Christ is guilty as well.

"Again, I disagree. If we were all counted as sinners from Adam onward as Romans 5:19 explicitly states, then the problem for us is the same as Adam and not the opposite. If we were counted as sinners, then we were indeed counted guilty."

Go up 7 verses to 5:12. I sin because I have death in me, separation from God, which makes me fill the emptiness in my imago Dei with the emptiness of sin and can then be labelled a sinner. Having this backwards produces ungodly doctrines like a god that takes pleasure in barbequeing babies for his good pleasure, because after all they are sinners.

"But since we do in fact inherit sin and guilt then these are indeed the problems and death is the symptom."

Christ is human, and so am I. We both recieved our humanity from Adam. If I am guilty solely because I am a man, then so is Christ. That He had no human father does not negate His full humanity. Impugning human nature is to impugn Christ who will retain a human nature forever. Human nature is good, because God created it so, and God assumed a human nature in the incarnation. The T of tulip either negates the incarnation or makes Christ guilty.

"I also disagree with how you are characterizing Dort's motivations. According to your statements, it would appear that Dort formulated the doctrines of grace into 5 points for the express purpose of monetary gain. The reality however, is that T.U.L.I.P. would not have come into existence if not for the Remonstrance. But I suspect that you already know this."

It's cute and sells flowers. Listen, I have no idea how old you are, but if you hang around churches long enough you'll find money has a lot to do with religion; from the snake-handlers here in East TN to the Pope. The rich get "more grace" and "more say". It's a fact of life. I have seen priests, pastors, Bishops slober all over some semi-apostate because they write big checks. None thinks their guy does it....... rrrrriiiiigggghhhhtttt. I have been in every form of church this country has, and have seen it in them all. Do flowers impeach tulip? Not at all. It was a cheap swipe, but it has some truth.

"That is, since we do not know each other, offense may be unintentionally given and such would kill any attempt at civil dialogue. "

If I tick you off, I'll stop in and buy you a brew. I am a long haul trucker, so I get everywhere. Actually, it was Luther and Calvin that inspired my return to beer. Luther was a lush (not a swipe, but an observation), and Calvin used to do something similar to bowling after liturgy on Sunday and wash a few down.

My favorite swipe of history comes from Spurgeon. Moody went to visit, and Spurgeon came to greet him in a smoking jacket smoking a stogie. Moody exclaimed, "Smoking is a sin!" Spurgeon looked at Moody's rotund belly and replied, "So is gluttony."

Don Bradley

Anonymous said...

"Thus, whether or not I'm contradicting "15 centuries of christians" is a secondary matter to me."

I would like to further elaborate on this point. Where did you get the scriptures from?

For 3+ centuries there were competing lists of what people thought the scriptures should look like; and even then we're talking about which pile of scrolls, as there was no bound volume in which to point to. To this day there is no such animal as a closed canon, because who has the authority to close it? If you say "God", well, I agree. The trouble is there has been no voice from heaven dictating to all the table of contents for what books should be included. In 367 Athanasius gave his opinion about which books belong, but his list differs from every list in existence today. Augustine gave his opinion in 393, which Trent ratified and closed the canon for the Roman Catholics in the late 16th century, but that is only binding if you are a Roman Catholic. Luther openly challenged Revelation, 2Peter, and James. The Orthodox and the Lutherans don't have a closed list, though the Anglicans do. The Westminster Confession closed it for the Presbyterians, but their list differs from others. The Coptics have like 90+ books in their list. Nobody, I mean nobody, believed in a 66 book canon until the 16th century. Today publishers close canons by printing, binding, and selling something that says "Bible" on the cover. If you want to still say "God" closed it, please tell me when He said it, and to whom did He communicate His decision. My point is when you reach for your Bible you are presupposing what you are picking up is accurate and complete, and that you have the ability to interpret it how you choose.

Now, to discard the Christians of the past so glibly is to be less than thankful for those who hand copied and preserved it for centuries so you could have one. The average life of a copy was less than a century, and it was hand copied thousands of times. Do you know how many people died in the 3rd century alone for failing to surrender manuscript copies for destruction?

The first time it was bound into one volume was in the 8th century. The first printing was in the 15th.

My point is you didn't recieve the scriptures in a vacuum for you to do with them as you please. We have a responsibility to be one as Christians; with those of the past as well as those of the future.

Who would be a better interpreter of scripture; you, or Ignatius of Antioch who was discipled by the Apostle John? Who is closer to the source..... you or Irenaeus who lived in the 2nd century? The further in time, geography, and culture you get from the source, the less reliable the interpretation of any document becomes. Who is a better interpreter of the Civil War; me who has studied it and lived here, visited the sites, knows the culture; or a Chinaman 5 centuries from now reading it in a textbook? It's simple logic; all men err, but error is diminished greatly when there is a continuum of interpretation for 20 centuries. That which is new is the product of somebody's imagination, and can be then easily spotted when compared with the scope of history.

Martin Luther observed, "There was a time when there was one Pope on the seven hills of Rome, but now there are seven popes on every dunghill in Germany." The originator of sola scriptura is here decrying what he started, as every man did what was right in his own eyes. The situation is infinitesmally worse today. Now an unschooled teenager is told they have all authority in their hands because they "Got saved", and they make it up as they go along. It also gave a lot of out-of-work folks the excuse to start their own "church" as a modern franchise, all the while saying that nobody interpreted right until they came along. Or, "We're just recovering what Rome covered up." But when you look for a time in the past when their doctrine existed, you'll find a null set.

Don Bradley

Turretinfan said...

Don Bradey,

"That which has been believed always, everywhere, and by all. If it is new, if I can pinpoint its origin at any point after the Apostles, I dismiss it as a novelty. If it is localized to one area of the world, is regional, etc.; I dismiss it as a quirk of that society. Believed by all, or to say at least most, of all Christians of all time."

How do you determine whether a person is a Christian: are Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, Oneness Pentacostals, Copts, Eastern Orthodox, Papists, Mormons, Sedavacantist papists, and Anglicans all Christians?

Let's assume you find a non-bootstrapped way to determine who the Christians are.

You still cannot really use the "all time" claim, because you have only the past in view. In 10,000 years, the first two millenia may seem like a flash in the pan in the history of Christianity.

-Turretinfan

Turretinfan said...

P.S. to Don Brady,

Ah yes, and is the "believed by all for all time" methodology something that itself is "believed by all for all time"?

-Turretinfan

J. Matthew Cleary said...

Hi Don,

I've already been told that you are Eastern Orthodox and everything you've posted here seems to point in that direction. If you are, then why haven't you come right out and said so? And if you are in fact Eastern Orthodox, then I must tell you that I am not interested in pitting my views agianst yours and there are several reasons for this. For starters, I know next to nothing about Eastern Orthodoxy. Thus, I am not able to argue against something that I have little knowledge of to begin with. Surely, you can appreciate this. At best, I would be interested in learning about your doctrine only at this juncture. Also, it seems to me that all your arguments are reducible to appeals to authority and or tradition. And in viewing debates between prots and catholics, I have never found the catholic appeals to tradition and authority for determining scriptural truth convincing and I would more than likely view your appeals in similiar fashion. As I said previously, if the scriptures are what they claim, then there is no higher authority by which we come to our doctrine and thus tradition and authority are determined by scripture. Irregardless of all this, I will still offer a few responses to the things that you have stated here.

"You read a section, filter it through your theological/philosophical grid that society and culture has given you, and your mind grasps at an outcome it already had planned when it opened the book."

If this is true for me Don, then it is also true of you since you have previously stated that we all approach scripture with certain presuppositions.

"You put more weight on some verses, less on others;..."

Well, if this is intended as a criticism then it is a self defeating one because it is just as applicable to you.

"In sola scriptura, you are the authority, the infallible interpreter. Only your interpretation of what you read is infallible."

I disagree with your characterization of sola scriptura here. I have heard of no one who holds to sola scriptura make the claim that they are an infallible interpreter. Also, they do not make the claim of authority, rather, they merely recognize the authority inherent in scripture itself.

"That which has been believed always, everywhere, and by all."

I find this to be an odd statement. I assume that you believe in the Trinity yes? If so, then how is that doctrine compatible with your stated view here? I mean, the trinity as it was defined at Nicea has not been believed always, everywhere, and by all.

"Go up 7 verses to 5:12."

I did. I find no support for your contentions there because of how Romans 5:12 reads. The latter half of the verse explicitly states that "death spread to all men, because all sinned". Death due to sin. Thus, as I have stated previously, death is the result of sin and guilt and not vice-versa.

"If I am guilty solely because I am a man, then so is Christ."

But this isn't the view that I hold. I do not think that I am guilty solely because I'm a man. I'm guilty because I'm a man *who is decended directly from Adam*. Christ cannot be counted guilty by way of federal headship because He had no human father.

"That He had no human father does not negate His full humanity."

Who is claiming otherwise?

"Human nature is good, because God created it so,..."

It was "good" only when God first created it. But as far as all men go, I have seen no scriptural warrant to suppose that human nature is good especially when explicit statements within holy writ state otherwise (Romans 3:10-12)

"...and God assumed a human nature in the incarnation."

Yes, God assumed a human nature but I do not see how this necessitates Christ taking sin and guilt within himself in light of the fact that he did not descend from Adam thru a human father.

"It was a cheap swipe, but it has some truth."

I don't see that it does. In order to establish that your "cheap swipe" has some truth to it, you would have to have knowledge of Dort's motivations. Do you?

"If I tick you off, I'll stop in and buy you a brew."

heh, I don't drink Don. In fact, I've never drank any alcoholic beverage. I suppose you might think of me as a "stiff" now, right?

"I am a long haul trucker, so I get everywhere. "

Really? Then you and I have something in common except I'm not long haul!

"Now, to discard the Christians of the past so glibly..."

This is not accurate Don. I said that I would consider the matter a secondary issue. This is not a discarding of anything.

"My point is you didn't recieve the scriptures in a vacuum for you to do with them as you please."

And it isn't my view to do with the scriptures as I please. I do not. I treat them as what they claim to be, God's word to mankind.

"We have a responsibility to be one as Christians; with those of the past as well as those of the future."

And I would say that we have a greater responsibility to sound doctrine first and foremost.

Bob said...

"For 3+ centuries there were competing lists of what people thought the scriptures should look like; and even then we're talking about which pile of scrolls, as there was no bound volume in which to point to. To this day there is no such animal as a closed canon, because who has the authority to close it? If you say "God", well, I agree. The trouble is there has been no voice from heaven dictating to all the table of contents for what books should be included."

That's a rather overly simplistic manner of describing how we arrived at the cannon of scripture which we have today. The thing is that there really wern't all these "competing" books and people just arbitrarily decided which one's would be baptized into the canon. You try to describe the arrival at a canon of scripture in this slapstick fashion because you have a different authority then sola scriptura.

You also make it seem as though there was a great deal of confusion among men like Athanasius and Augustine over the canon as you write:

"Athanasius gave his opinion about which books belong, but his list differs from every list in existence today. Augustine gave his opinion in 393, which Trent ratified and closed the canon for the Roman Catholics in the late 16th century, but that is only binding if you are a Roman Catholic."

Well, from what I gather it seems that Augustine and Athanasius were in agreement on the canon. Not only that but the Athanasius canon contains the same NT books protestant Bibles contain today.

I got the following wuote off of this article on the canon: http://www.inplainsite.org/html/how_we_got_our_bible.html

"b. Athanasius (A. D. 296-373) With his Festal Letter for Easter in 367, Athanasius gave the first full and final declaration on the extent of both Old and New Testament canons. The twenty-seven books he listed as New Testament Canon are the same twenty-seven books in our Bibles today. He also said, “Let no one add to these; let nothing be taken away.”

c. Council of Hippo (A. D. 393) This was probably the first church council to lay down the limits of the canon of Scripture (Bruce, The Canon of Scripture, p. 323). The limits of the canon as discussed here were approved by Augustine and verified what was set down by Athanasius.

Anonymous said...

"How do you determine whether a person is a Christian"

Belief in the Trinity. It is merely an opinion of mine with no basis of authority to back it up.

"Ah yes, and is the "believed by all for all time" methodology something that itself is "believed by all for all time"?"

If you're really interested, read St. Vincent of Lerins. It takes about 2 hours. If you do, and read "Rome" every time you see "Catholic", you're misreading him.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf211.iii.html

Don Bradley

Anonymous said...

"I've already been told that you are Eastern Orthodox and everything you've posted here seems to point in that direction. If you are, then why haven't you come right out and said so? "

You never asked.

"If this is true for me Don, then it is also true of you since you have previously stated that we all approach scripture with certain presuppositions."

Amen.

"I find no support for your contentions there because of how Romans 5:12 reads. The latter half of the verse explicitly states that "death spread to all men, because all sinned". Death due to sin. Thus, as I have stated previously, death is the result of sin and guilt and not vice-versa."

What sin has a dead baby committed?

"But this isn't the view that I hold. I do not think that I am guilty solely because I'm a man. I'm guilty because I'm a man *who is decended directly from Adam*. Christ cannot be counted guilty by way of federal headship because He had no human father."

You are classifying this in juridical terms, not an ontological one. Just because Christ had no human father does NOT make Him less human, as all of His humanity still comes from Adam through Mary. To place guilt in humanity does not exempt Christ from such guilt. The failure here is a truncated ecclesiology. Unless, of course, you place sperm as the carrier of sin and guilt, which is to repeat the gnostic heresy of making a material substance evil like Augustine did.

"It was "good" only when God first created it. But as far as all men go, I have seen no scriptural warrant to suppose that human nature is good especially when explicit statements within holy writ state otherwise (Romans 3:10-12)"

Human nature is GOOD because Christ assumed it in the incarnation. He was not anything less than human, or different than human, otherwise He could not destroy death for us, which is the root of sin.

"Yes, God assumed a human nature but I do not see how this necessitates Christ taking sin and guilt within himself in light of the fact that he did not descend from Adam thru a human father."

You are arguing that He was of a different order of humanity than we are because He lacked a human father. You have made him a "superman" rather than one of us.

"heh, I don't drink Don. In fact, I've never drank any alcoholic beverage. I suppose you might think of me as a "stiff" now, right?"

It means you need to read some more Luther.

"And I would say that we have a greater responsibility to sound doctrine first and foremost."

If two people read the same book, the same verse, and have two contradictory opinions, how do you establish which is sound being both appealed to the same source?

Don Bradley

Anonymous said...

"That's a rather overly simplistic manner of describing how we arrived at the cannon of scripture which we have today. The thing is that there really wern't all these "competing" books and people just arbitrarily decided which one's would be baptized into the canon. You try to describe the arrival at a canon of scripture in this slapstick fashion because you have a different authority then sola scriptura. "

I don't want to risk carpal tunneling giving the entire history, which is why I truncated it. And of course I have a different authority than sola scriptura, which is but an easy way to give authority to private opinions that it otherwise wouldn't have.

"You also make it seem as though there was a great deal of confusion among men like Athanasius and Augustine over the canon as you write:"

They weren't confused. They had their opinions. I disagree with both of them if they are going to be cited as "closers of the canon" or "binding upon all men for all time". The FACT is they both had different lists.

"Well, from what I gather it seems that Augustine and Athanasius were in agreement on the canon. Not only that but the Athanasius canon contains the same NT books protestant Bibles contain today."

I like the qualifier "NT". Had you included "OT", your statement would be inaccurate. But WHY do you accept his opinion on the NT anyway? He was but a man. Did you read the NT prior to accepting it as canonical? Or did you accept it as canonical prior to reading it?

Athanasius and Augustine had a vastly different OT canon. Who would arbitrate between them if they had ever met?

"I got the following wuote off of this article on the canon: "

Why not cite the original authors rather than this article? Hippo and Athanasius differed; that is just a fact. But why do YOU care what Ahanasius said, Augustine said, whomever? Who told YOU what the limits of the canon are?

Don Bradley

Anonymous said...

"I find this to be an odd statement. I assume that you believe in the Trinity yes? If so, then how is that doctrine compatible with your stated view here? I mean, the trinity as it was defined at Nicea has not been believed always, everywhere, and by all."

You cannot be serious.

The Nicene Fathers never saw themselves as superior exigetes, or putting forth new doctrine. They were defending the faith against the Arian novelty, the new doctrine attacking the old.

You prove Vincent's dictum here:

The belief in God as Triune was the one ALWAYS believed by the Church, as opposed to the new of Arius.

The belief in God as Triune was the one that spread EVERYWHERE the gospel went; Africa, Asia, Europe.... as was witnessed to by the Bishops that came from throughout the world to attend the Council. The Arian doctrine had a local origin that spread; the Trinitarian had a universal quality.

The Nicene doctrine had an appeal to BY ALL, or at least most, of the Fathers which Christians to that date held in esteem.

The synthesis of the Council, however, did not lie in Sola Scriptura; as they went to the extrabiblical term homoouisis to defend the faith. The Arians cried foul and demanded only "biblical terminology" and said the Council went beyond scripture. Here is a case where tradition defines orthodoxy, and sola scriptura led to heresy.

Don Bradley

Turretinfan said...

TF wrote: "How do you determine whether a person is a Christian"

DB wrote: "Belief in the Trinity. It is merely an opinion of mine with no basis of authority to back it up."

I reply: Obviously then, your entire system of theology collapses to being merely your opinion. Plus, it is doubly weak, because identifying which people are trinitarian and which are not is also going to be based on your opinion.

TF wrote: "Ah yes, and is the "believed by all for all time" methodology something that itself is "believed by all for all time"?"

DB replied: If you're really interested, read St. Vincent of Lerins. It takes about 2 hours. If you do, and read "Rome" every time you see "Catholic", you're misreading him. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf211.iii.html

TF responded: A pseudonymous book alleged to post-date the council of Ephesus, at best gets that formulation back to the fifth century.

But surely, even if that formulation was believed by all at that time, or until that time, it should be clear that such a formulation is no longer held today by all trinitarians.

So, the formulation fails itself, both because it is founded in your opinion of who the "all" should be, and because you must also exercise your opinion in deciding who are trinitarian, and finally because even those who meet your definition of trinitarian do not all agree that the formulation is doctrinally correct.

Thus, the proposed formulation fails triply, despite the testimony of "The Commonitory of Vincent of Lerins" Chapter II, section 6.

-Turretinfan

J. Matthew Cleary said...

Don,

"You never asked."

That would be because I knew what viewpoint you held before I began interacting with your comments. I have asked several questions of you that gave ample opportunity to divulge where you were coming from. So I'm still left wondering why you have not been more forthcoming.

"What sin has a dead baby committed?"

Don, your question does not address the actual wording of Romans 5:12. Thus, a better question would be, "how is eastern orthodoxy's view of man's nature compatible with the actual wording of Romans 5:12?" Indeed, how is your contention that sin and guilt are not passed to all men thru Adam compatible with Psalm 51:5 where David says that he was a sinner from birth? How about Psalm 58:3 where it states that the wicked go astray from birth and that they speak lies from the womb?

"Just because Christ had no human father does NOT make Him less human,..."

As I'm sure you know Don, I do not believe nor have I made the argument here that Christ was "less human". I affirm, as do all Calvinists with whom I am familiar, that Christ was the God-man. He was fully human and fully God.

"To place guilt in humanity does not exempt Christ from such guilt."

But this is just an assertion and I see no reason for me to accept it. The incarnation was a supernatural event that is beyond our ability to explain. We will likely never know how it happened. Thus, it is not a stretch whatsoever to posit that Christ's humanity was kept pure from the sin and guilt that flows thru normal procreation. In fact, Luke 1:35 suggests as much.

"Human nature is GOOD because Christ assumed it in the incarnation."

Again, there is no reason to accept this line of reasoning especially when verses that have been brought forward here testify against your notion of human nature being basically good.

"He was not anything less than human, or different than human,..."

Again Don, it isn't my position or argument that Christ was less than human. You know this. But yes, Christ was different from us in that he was without sin. He did not inherit defiled human nature from Adam due to the miraculous actions of the Holy Spirit during the incarnation.

"...otherwise He could not destroy death for us, which is the root of sin."

Again, there is no reason to believe that death is the root of sin when you have not dealt with the actual wording of certain texts of scripture that contradict your assertions.

"You are arguing that He was of a different order of humanity than we are because He lacked a human father. You have made him a "superman" rather than one of us."

I have done no such thing. Unless of course you you are willing to argue that Adam was a "different order of humanity" and a "superman" due to his state of goodness before the fall. That is, my view holds that Christ was without sin and guilt as Adam was without sin and guilt. No more, no less. To posit that I make Christ any more or less than Adam before the fall is to stuff the ol' straw-man.

"It means you need to read some more Luther."

For what reason? I don't drink because I don't have a desire to. Never have. In fact, the smell of beer makes my upper lip curl upwards uncontrollably.

"If two people read the same book, the same verse, and have two contradictory opinions, how do you establish which is sound being both appealed to the same source?"

Ah, and here's the part where you appeal to your eastern orthodox tradition and authority. Just as I stated previously, your arguments are going to lead back here everytime. Thus, I'll say it again Don, I'm not interested in pitting my views against yours since your arguments will reduce to an appeal to eastern orthodox tradition and authority. I reject that tradition and authority whenever they would contradict holy writ. You would likely say that it does not contradict holy writ but thus far, you have not dealt with the actual wording of certain texts that have been brought forward.

"You cannot be serious."

I most certainly am. Your statements about Arianism only confirms my point about the Trinity not being "believed always, everywhere, and by all". I suggest being a bit more specific with your stated criteria as I'm not the only one taking issue with it here.

Anonymous said...

"I reply: Obviously then, your entire system of theology collapses to being merely your opinion. Plus, it is doubly weak, because identifying which people are trinitarian and which are not is also going to be based on your opinion."

No kidding. But it is only reasonable to limit what is a Christian and what is not based upon what God they worship. For instance, a Mormon is not a Christian because they are polytheists, nor is a JW because they are Arians. Some Calvinists go so far as to make soteriology a lithmus test for what is a Christian, as do some Arminians. But once an opinion is stated, as I did, it is easy to attack while offering none of your own.

"So, the formulation fails itself, both because it is founded in your opinion of who the "all" should be, and because you must also exercise your opinion in deciding who are trinitarian, and finally because even those who meet your definition of trinitarian do not all agree that the formulation is doctrinally correct."

The ALL must include the previous ALWAYS and EVERYWHERE. You want to dismiss Vincent by truncating his formulation to merely be the third leg. His critique is aimed at private interpretation.

You want to impeach what I said regarding trinitarians; fine. Do you, or would you, ever accept somebody being a non-trinitarian Christian? It is an oxymoron.

Don Bradley

Anonymous said...

"So I'm still left wondering why you have not been more forthcoming."

What is the big deal? I still have no idea what you are. Baptist? Continental Reformed? Presbyterian? Congregationalist? What's more, it never occured to me to even ask.

"Don, your question does not address the actual wording of Romans 5:12. Thus, a better question would be, "how is eastern orthodoxy's view of man's nature compatible with the actual wording of Romans 5:12?" "

You start with the conception that we have something, some substance called sin and guilt that we are born with. I contend that in Romans 5:12 it is expressed that we lack something, an emptiness of something that should be there (death), and that is what causes us to sin and thereby become guilty.

I'll repeat: Is a dead baby guilty? A dead fetus?

"Indeed, how is your contention that sin and guilt are not passed to all men thru Adam compatible with Psalm 51:5 where David says that he was a sinner from birth? How about Psalm 58:3 where it states that the wicked go astray from birth and that they speak lies from the womb?"

Hyperbole. Even you'll admit that a fetus doesn't speak lies in the womb. Do you think David committed sin as a newborn infant?

"Thus, it is not a stretch whatsoever to posit that Christ's humanity was kept pure from the sin and guilt that flows thru normal procreation. In fact, Luke 1:35 suggests as much."

You are separating His humanity from ours by your logic. That sin and guilt flow during is a hypothesis of yours, while that death comes to every human is a fact verifiable by visiting any graveyard.

"Again, there is no reason to believe that death is the root of sin when you have not dealt with the actual wording of certain texts of scripture that contradict your assertions."

The problem comes from variant translations of Romans 5:12. The West has always translated "eph'ho pantes hemarton" as "in whom all sinned". The East has always seen the preceeding word thanatos (death) as modifying "eph 'ho, so the East translates the phrase as "because of which (death) all have sinned." The West and the East both have legitimate translations, but with drastically different outcomes soteriologically. So when the East reads this verse they read:

"...and so death passed upon all men, because of which all have sinned."

"To posit that I make Christ any more or less than Adam before the fall is to stuff the ol' straw-man."

Do you believe Christ got all of His humanity from Mary? If so, He is as guilty or innocent in His birth as she was in hers. If He got any of His humanity from a source other than her, He is not of Adam which presents all types of Christological and soteriological dilemnas.

""It means you need to read some more Luther."

For what reason? I don't drink because I don't have a desire to. Never have. In fact, the smell of beer makes my upper lip curl upwards uncontrollably."

Joke.

"Ah, and here's the part where you appeal to your eastern orthodox tradition and authority. Just as I stated previously, your arguments are going to lead back here everytime. "

You keep wanting to go there, not I. I could care less, as I am not a recruiter for Orthodoxy. I am trying to get you to see the fallacy of Sola Scriptura. Who is the infallible interpreter in Sola Scriptura? Who's interpretation is authoritative? I am sure you are more substantive than to reply "God" because none of us can speak for Him. For example: Calvin ridiculed non-paedobaptists, while Spurgeon preached against paedobaptism. Who arbitrates seeing how they both appeal to Sola Scriptura?

"I most certainly am. Your statements about Arianism only confirms my point about the Trinity not being "believed always, everywhere, and by all"."

Were the Apostles trinitarian? Ignatius? Irenaeus? The Church from Pentecost to Nicea? Absolutely. The novelty was Arius. The Nicene Fathers defended the doctrine of God and did not originate another doctrine of God as Arius was trying to pull.The Bishops were asked 2 questions at the Council: What faith was confessed at your baptism? What did the Bishop that preceeded you teach you? As a result, Arianism was dealt a serious blow. But what did Arius and Co. retort? That Nicea went beyond scripture to refute them. Adherance to scripture is not a guarantee of doctrinal soundness, because many who adhere strictly to scripture become heretics. Look at the oneness and arians who believe every bit as much as you in a 66 book canon, but they are heretics.

Adherance to "Bible" is a poor yardstick as to what a Christian is, because it is not a god, and because many adherants end up believing in something other than Trinity. I measure by whether somebody worships the same deity as I do; which is God the Holy Trinity. If you have a better yardstick, I'm open to suggestions.

Don Bradley

Turretinfan said...

Dear Don,

My critique, in essence, is that your epistemology is personal preference, nothing more.

While I do agree with a slightly narrower limtus test for Christianity than bare "Trinitarianism" that's not the issue.

The issue is that the "all" (whether all Trinitarians or all five-point Calvinists) is going to vary on virtually every doctrine outside the litmus test, whatever that test is.

Thus, your range of knowledge is reduced to the litmus test, which is quite bare.

Furthermore - in your case - the litmus test itself is just your opinion, which should make you question whether you even got the litmus test correct.

In any event, though, the "believed by all" formula produces no useful knowledge at all. The addition of the "everywhere" and "always" just further ensures that there will be disagreement.

Example:
If it was just "all the folks in my house today," the epistemology could provide oodles of knowledge, because most of the people in my house today would tend to agree with each other on many things.

If, one changes "today" to "since the time I built the house," the range of unanimous agreement is going to shrink.

If one changes "my house" to "my block" the range will shrink again.

If one replaces "people" with "trinitarians," and "my house" with "everywhere," the pool of unanimity will correspondingly shrink until the only thing in common is trinitarianism.

Thus, as can be seen from the example, "Vincent"'s formula yields zero knowledge.

That's the bottom line, Don. I am not disputing that Trinitarianism is essential to Christianity. I am criticizing Vincent's formula because it yields zero knowledge.

Pick a doctrine, any doctrine, that is not itself a part of Trinitarianism, and you will almost certainly find Trinitarians holding various views on that doctrine.

As a result, if you apply Vincent's epistemology, you will not gain knowledge.

-Turretinfan

J. Matthew Cleary said...

Don,

"What is the big deal? I still have no idea what you are."

You knew coming into this discussion that I was a protestant and a Calvinist. That is all you really needed to know in order to discern what I believed and why. My particuliar denominational preference is irrelevant after that fact. I, on the other hand, didn't know you or anything about your beliefs outside of being told by a third party. If the situation were reversed, I think you might object just the same. But since I cannot know your motivations (if any) for not divulging your viewpoint, I won't push this issue any further.

"You start with the conception that we have something, some substance called sin and guilt that we are born with."

No Don, I am merely taking Romans 5:12 for what it explicitly states. The only presupposition I am bringing to the text is that the scriptures are the highest authority for determining tradition and doctrine.

"I contend that in Romans 5:12 it is expressed that we lack something, an emptiness of something that should be there (death), and that is what causes us to sin and thereby become guilty."

But again Don, your contention is just a restatement of what you think the text means. But there is an obvious disconnect between the wording of the text and what you keep insisting it means. And until you overcome this disconnect, you will not be successful in your stated goal of showing me the fallacy of sola scriptura.

"I'll repeat: Is a dead baby guilty? A dead fetus?"

You already know the answer to this question Don. Yes, infants are guilty by way of Adam's sin. There is nothing in the texts that we have looked at thus far that suggests otherwise.

"Hyperbole. Even you'll admit that a fetus doesn't speak lies in the womb. Do you think David committed sin as a newborn infant?"

Let's grant for the sake of argument that you are right. Psalm 51:5 and 58:3 are hyperbole. Now, a hyperbole is a "A figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect, as in I could sleep for a year or This book weighs a ton" (per the American Heritage Dictionary). Given the examples in the provided definition the statements made by David still support my position. David's point in saying that he is a sinner from birth is communicating the fact that he is counted guilty as a sinner because of Adam. This is more clearly expressed in David's statement about telling lies in the womb. A baby isn't literally speaking lies inside the womb but is in fact a liar because of his sin nature. It is it's nature to speak lies. Indeed, I had always heard it said that children are not taught to lie. They simply do it as soon as they learn to speak. Since becoming a parent myself I have personally found this to be true. Hyperbole only exagerates a point being made and that point being, namely, we are counted as sinners from Adam onward and are thus guilty as Adam was guilty. Nowhere do these verses even hint at your stated views here. So in light of all this, I conclude that positing hyperbole for these verses is no help to you.

"You are separating His humanity from ours by your logic."

The only seperation I am positing Don, is sin. We are sinners whereas Christ was not. You are still trying to use *your* logic to make out that I'm saying Christ was somehow sub-human due to the fact that he was sinless. But that isn't what I'm saying and you know it.

"That sin and guilt flow during is a hypothesis of yours,..."

If it is a hypothesis as you say, then it is one that is firmly grounded in the scriptures that have been brought forward thus far.

"...while that death comes to every human is a fact verifiable by visiting any graveyard."

And who is claiming otherwise? Where have I denied that death comes to all men?

"The problem comes from variant translations of Romans 5:12...and so death passed upon all men, because of which all have sinned."

Which varient translations are you referring to? I personally own about six different translations and they all read the same. I also checked several other translations online and found more of the same. Also, your statement about the east and west having legitimate tranlations is a bit odd. That is, both cannot be right since they lend to two opposing viewpoints. Either one translation is right or, neither is right. And it seems to me that the only reason that you would raise a translational issue here is so that you can ease the tension between your view and the actual wording of the text. Also, the "western translation" of Romans 5:12 agrees in wording with Romans 5:19. I find this to be highly significant in determining which interpretation to apply to v.12.

"Do you believe Christ got all of His humanity from Mary? If so, He is as guilty or innocent in His birth as she was in hers."

Again Don, this is just a re-statement of your view and there is no reason for me to accept it until the scriptural issues are resolved.

"You keep wanting to go there, not I. I could care less, as I am not a recruiter for Orthodoxy. I am trying to get you to see the fallacy of Sola Scriptura."

I don't buy this Don. You are basically saying here that you are only interested in leading me away from sola scriptura. But lead me away from there to...what? Let's say that you are successful in making me see that sola scriptura is fallacious. What then? Would you just leave me floundering in a sea of uncertainty, content to gloat in your victory? Or, will you take me by the hand and lead me to what you believe to be a better way? If you say that you would be content to only destroy my belief in sola scriptura and leave it at that, then this is unchristian. If you say that you would indeed lead me to orthodoxy then you are in fact "recruiting".

Anonymous said...

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world,"

Adam.

" and death by sin;"

Adam sinned, then he died.

" and so death passed upon all men,"

Notice, death passed to all men.

"for that all have sinned:"

Which comes after you have recieved death from Adam. You recieved death, THEN you sinned as a consequence of death, just like the passage says. Where is the mention of guilt in the entire chapter of Romans 5? Notice how Paul reinforces it in verse 14 by saying death reigned from Adam to Moses. Why not guilt?

The west, both Catholic and Protestant, makes sin a substance that passes in procreation from generation to generation. That is why Augustine, Aquinas, and yes even Calvin have no problem placing an impersonal guilt on every human baby, and why all 3 say that unbaptized babies go to hell. Augustine went so far as to place the problem in the substance of human sperm.

If I am guilty solely because of Adam, Christ is guilty as well because He shares in that very same humanity. The only difference here is sperm. How else could it be transmitted? Materializing sin into sperm is nowhere to be found in scripture. And if you make sin and guilt fall into the category of federal headship in Adam, you still haven't exempted Christ because in His humanity He falls under that headship. But He does as far as death, now doesn't He? That Christ was without sin has more to do with the hypostatic union of the 2 natures, as opposed to giving Him a DIFFERENT human nature than we have.

Sola Scriptura.....

I could care less if you follow "my tradition". The fact that 2 Calvinists can bitterly disagree about something as major as paedobaptism speaks for itself. How could 2 people with the same mindset, appealing to the same source, arrive at 2 radically different conclusions? Only one can be right, and it really isn't negotiable. One followed sola scriptura, only to be led into error. How could this be if sola scriptura is the correct methodology?

I believe the canon to be open. I see no grounds for accepting a 66 book canon, a 78 book canon, or any other limitation. A limited canon is strictly an opinion, just like my opinion of an open canon is. I listen to opinions all the time on why people think it's closed; I find none of them satisfactory. The canon evolved, and it is loosely held to say the least. If you have an opinion on why it should be authoritatively closed in a binding way upon all men for all time, I'd love to hear it.

Recruiting......

Ask whomever told you I am Orthodox if I ever asked them to be Orthodox. I have encouraged many people to visit an Orthodox liturgy for the purpose of education, but I have never asked anybody to convert. But on multiple occasions I have tried to talk people out of converting to Orthodoxy.

Don Bradley

J. Matthew Cleary said...

Don,

Much of your most recent post is a re-statement of previous points. Also, you did not directly interact with my previous post so I will take the liberty of focusing on what I think are the most interesting arguments/statements.

"Notice, death passed to all men."

Yes, death passed to all men. It was never my argument that it didn't. Death is a necessary consequence of sin per God's decree. So I do not see how this particuliar clause in 5:12 can be a problem for my view.

"for that all have sinned:"

Well, since you didn't state which translation you are referencing here, I'll go ahead and assume that this is the KJV since the wording is identical. Now, this clause is the focal point of our dispute in regards to Romans 5:12 and I can see why you would reference the KJV here. The wording can lend itself to your view. The problem I see with the KJV's rendering however is that the clause could go both ways. That is, the KJV is ambiguous. Indeed, you seem to have alluded to this when you stated that the east and west have legitimate translations. At any rate, I have in front of me several other translations that are not ambiguous in how they read at v.12 For instance:

"...because all sinned..." -NASB

"...because all sinned..." -NIV

"...because all sinned..." -ESV

"...because all sinned..." -NKJV

"...because all have sinned... -NRSV

These examples provide clear, unambiguous attestation to my viewpoint, namely, that death spread to all men *because* all sinned in Adam. This is further strengthened by 5:19 that states the many were made sinners by the one man's disobedience. And at this point, I would also submit Romans 6:23 where it is stated that "...the wages of sin is death...". A clear causal relationship is presented by Paul in 6:23 just as he did in the previous verses we just looked at. Thus, when all these scriptures are considered (including those from the Psalms), I am forced to conclude that my viewpoint is, by far, the strongest viewpoint scripturally speaking.

"Where is the mention of guilt in the entire chapter of Romans 5?"

Guilt does not need to be specifically referenced in Romans 5. It is implicit in Paul's statements about sin. That is, if I am a sinner, then I am guilty. Likewise, if I am guilty, then I am a sinner. There is no such thing as a guiltless sinner.

"Materializing sin into sperm is nowhere to be found in scripture."

And it isn't necessarily my argument that sin is materialized in this way. You seem to be asking me to substantiate a naturalistic mechanism for the transference of sin but I don't even see this as a reasonable request. What if I asked you to substantiate the infusion of the soul to the human body by way of naturalistic mechanism? Would you consider that a reasonable request? Can you explain the incarnation itself by way of a naturalistic mechanism? How about the resurrection? As it is, I have no problem with appealing to mystery here. I simply do not know how sin and guilt is transfered.

"Ask whomever told you I am Orthodox if I ever asked them to be Orthodox. I have encouraged many people to visit an Orthodox liturgy for the purpose of education, but I have never asked anybody to convert. But on multiple occasions I have tried to talk people out of converting to Orthodoxy."

Okay, so you aren't here to lead me to Orthodoxy and you aren't here to learn about my view. Then what are you doing here? Debating for the sake of it?

Anonymous said...

"Death is a necessary consequence of sin per God's decree. So I do not see how this particuliar clause in 5:12 can be a problem for my view."

It is an assumption that death came "per God's decree". You look at Genesis 3 and assume death is punishment by decree, as opposed to looking at it as a divine warning. Adam ignored the warning and brought death, but that doesn't mean death came from God, but was a consequence of Adam's action he brought on himself. We put death here, not God.

"As it is, I have no problem with appealing to mystery here. I simply do not know how sin and guilt is transfered."

But you are willing to assume that it is present. Is sin a thing itself, or is simply a lack of good? You assume there is a thing, a substance, an "object" that is sin that makes it into humans and makes them bad. But if you were to look at it as a lack of something, an absence, then we have a different ballgame. Am I guilty for something I wasn't given? It's real easy to de-personalize this and talk about somebody else's babies being guilty like Calvin did. What about yours? Does God hate your baby? You love your baby; does that make you better than God if He did not atone for their sins per Limited Atonement?

"What if I asked you to substantiate the infusion of the soul to the human body by way of naturalistic mechanism? Would you consider that a reasonable request?"

We have 3 options. If you can offer another, I'd be interested:

A. Pre-existence; that souls exist prior to conception and then unite with the body. Platonism, bad stuff.

B. Traducianism; that souls are formed from the union of the parents. Real good for explaining original guilt, real bad because it implies identical twins share souls, and it has a materialistic view of the soul.

C. Creationism; that God creates each soul at conception and places it into each person Personally. Real bad option for those that believe in original guilt, as it has God as the originator of evil in each individual human being. Since I don't believe in original guilt, I don't have this problem.

"Okay, so you aren't here to lead me to Orthodoxy and you aren't here to learn about my view. Then what are you doing here? Debating for the sake of it? "

Call it public service. Why are you so sensitive? I like to tell Calvinists I have no choice in embracing Orthodoxy, as God predestined me to be Orthodox before the foundation of the world. I also have no choice in posting here, as it must be the will of God because in the words of the Westminster Confession whatsoever comes to pass is predetermined by God. So we are both on this blog because we cannot do otherwise.

Ultimately, you are beyond Arminian in your epistemology, and are fully Pelagian. You confess the fall in terms of guilt, but in your approach to scripture you deny the fall because you think your mind has the capacity to interpret scripture privately (thereby denying you have a fallen mind) though scripture nowhere says you have that authority, you simply assume it and take it because you bought a book that says Bible on the cover. You take what appeals to you amongst the buffet of doctrines, and de-emphasize what doesn't suit your tastes.

"Can you explain the incarnation itself by way of a naturalistic mechanism?"

I can explain it in terms of a union of the human and divine natures in one Person, so when it is challenged I can defend it. But you propose impersonal guilt based solely on my humanity, yet you have no mechanism by which to exempt Christ. Really, why do you think the Roman Catholics have such a dilemna on their hands and devised the Immaculate Conception to cover for it? And from Immaculate Conception sprung the need to define Papal infallibility. It all flows from original guilt.

"How about the resurrection?"

Christ was used like bait when you go fishing. God baited death, and when that fish came along to swallow Him up it encountered divine life and was destroyed by it. Death and hades were not able to hold Him, and He ruined both when both encountered all that He is.

So, when a Reformed Baptist and a Presbyterian disagree over paedobaptism, who arbitrates? There is no explicit paedobaptism passage, nor is there an explicit prohibition. It's a stalemate. Do you just go with how you feel? That is all Sola Scriptura leaves you with; every man does what is right in his own eyes.

Cheers,
Don Bradley

J. Matthew Cleary said...

Don,

"It is an assumption that death came "per God's decree"."

Whether or not I'm assuming God's decree here is not the point I was pressing. It was your insinuation that the phrase "death passed to all men" was somehow problematic for my view. Since death is the necessary result of sin, then the aforementioned phrase isn't a problem for my view.

"You assume there is a thing, a substance, an "object" that is sin that makes it into humans and makes them bad."

What sin is or isn't, is a secondary issue to the primary point of dispute, namely, the correct interpretation of Romans 5:12. In other words, if Romans 5 is in fact teaching that all men are counted as sinners through Adam, then this is what we should believe. Only then do we try to discern just what sin is and how it is transferred.

"It's real easy to de-personalize this and talk about somebody else's babies being guilty like Calvin did. What about yours?"

The truth of election is not overturned by human emoting. If my child is not elect, I can accept it no matter how painful the thought. Did you really think that I haven't thought about the implications of my own doctrine Don?

"We have 3 options. If you can offer another, I'd be interested:"

But none of the three options explains the infusion of the soul by way of a naturalistic mechanism. That is, we can explain how the human body can contract and dispel viruses via naturalistic means. But I don't know how we can account for the infusion of the soul or even detect it's presence by way of naturalistic means and, apparantly, neither do you. Thus, my point about the reasonableness of asking me to account for the transference of sin and guilt by way of some naturalistic means or mechanism stands.

"Call it public service."

A public service to whom? Unless you're joking again, this statement implies that you are arguing against my views for the benefit of a third party. If so, who? Most of the readers of this blog are, themselves, Calvinists and are probably more interested in seeing how you deal with scriptural references since they presuppose sola scriptura. And in regards to sola scriptura, I'm not interested in debating this with you. As I've said previously, your arguments (while interesting) are reducible to appeals to authority and/or tradition. And I firmly believe that tradition and authority are subject to scripture rather than the reverse. If you are so bent on debating sola scriptura, why not do it with someone who is both willing and familiar with your own views? Indeed, Eastern Orthodoxy is a current topic at Triablogue. I'm sure that Jason Engwer and Steve Hays would be happy to field your arguments against sola scriptura.

"Why are you so sensitive?"

Why are you so evasive?

"I like to tell Calvinists I have no choice in embracing Orthodoxy, as God predestined me to be Orthodox before the foundation of the world. I also have no choice in posting here, as it must be the will of God because in the words of the Westminster Confession whatsoever comes to pass is predetermined by God. So we are both on this blog because we cannot do otherwise."

You can make such statements only by first assuming that a choice can only be defined in terms of libertarianism. If you know as much about Reformed theology as you've intimated, then you should know that Calvinism affims that things do not happen apart from the willing choices of men.

"But you propose impersonal guilt based solely on my humanity, yet you have no mechanism by which to exempt Christ."

I have attributed Christ's exemption to the Holy Spirit's activity during the incarnation. This does not mean that I don't have a mechanism, rather, I cannot explain it due to the unique and supernatural nature of the incarnation itself. Just because an explanation cannot be given on any given thing, doesn't mean that the thing itself isn't there.

Anonymous said...

"The truth of election is not overturned by human emoting. If my child is not elect, I can accept it no matter how painful the thought. Did you really think that I haven't thought about the implications of my own doctrine Don?"

No, you haven't apparently contemplated it fully. You should embrace the idea of God fully venting His unquenchable wrath on a deceased infant if you are to be consistent. After all, God would be doing it freely, because if He is acting under compulsion.... then by definition He ceases to be God. And if He is roasting a dead infant solely for the crime of birth, and doing it freely, you should embrace with joy all of God's actions, even if it is your own child.

Of course it is abhorent, which is why I reject inherited guilt.

Been a little busy. The reason I come here is because I detect that you are a good sport (even though we disagree), which is rare in cyberspace.

Don Bradley
StAthanasius373@aol.com

J. Matthew Cleary said...

Don,

"No, you haven't apparently contemplated it fully."

What justification do you have for making such a statement? Do you really mean to say that just because I don't come to the same conclusions as you that I'm not fully contemplating my own doctrine?

"You should embrace the idea of God fully venting His unquenchable wrath on a deceased infant if you are to be consistent."

Why should I? There is no consensus in Reformed theology that I'm aware of on the question of what happens to those who die in infancy nor do I personally take a dogmatic stance on this issue. I simply trust in my God that He will work all things for the benefit of His people.

"And if He is roasting a dead infant solely for the crime of birth,..."

This statement contains a gross miscaricature of Reformed thinking. Those Calvinists who do believe that God does not save all those who die in infancy do not believe that God 'roasts' them solely for the crime of being born. Birth in and of itself is not a sin nor does God damn anyone for merely being born.

"The reason I come here is because I detect that you are a good sport (even though we disagree), which is rare in cyberspace."

I appreciate the kind words even though I don't think that I've always been as tactful or patient as I could have been with folks I have interacted with. At any rate, you are welcome here Don.

Richard P said...

Strangers pass by blogs and learn things from verbal exchanges such as these. Even though the exchanges may irritate the blog owner,they have value to those looking to learn.

beowulf2k8 said...

Romans 5:12 is mistranslated. All the translations that say "because all have sinned" are biased mistranslations. The Greek phrase is EF W (EPI W) which means either "upon which" (clearly not applicable here) or "because of which." To translate simply "because" is wrong because you are then ignoring the W which means "which."

It has to be translated, therefore, as follows:

"Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, even so death spread to all, because of which all have sinned"

Just as Heb 2:15 speaks of us being kept in bondage to sin by the fear of death, so here Paul indicates that our mortality is the cause of our sins (via the fear of death) and not that we (who did not exist) sinned in Adam (which is laughable Satanic stupidity).