Friday, June 09, 2006

Dennis Clough and Luke 19:10

Readers of my humble blog are no doubt aware that a fellow named Dennis Clough has become a regular visitor here at Conversations. But readers here may not be aware that Mr. Clough is indirectly responsible for the recent increase in visitors to my blog because it was he whom I was responding to on Alan Kurschner's site when Alan graciously recommended my blog to his readers. There is tremendous irony in this because Mr. Clough hates Calvinism and has visited several reformed blogs of late making this known (see for instance Mr. Clough's post here and the many refutations he receieved in response). Despite his visits to these other blogs, Mr. Clough has decided to pitch his tent here, which is fine (that is, as long as he behaves himself) because Mr. Clough has given me much to blog about in the past week or so. Take for example Mr. Clough's assertions in regards to Luke 19:10. Mr. Clough has contended on both Alan's site and here that Luke 19:10 somehow refutes the Calvinistic interpretation of John 6:44. But as we are about to see, Mr. Clough's assertions are not justified.

Here is Luke 19:10 as it reads in the NASB:

For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Here, Luke records Jesus as saying that He has come to seek and to save that which was lost. This is a statement by our Lord in regards to His mission here on earth. The question that needs to be answered is just whom is Christ seeking to save? Is it all mankind or a specific group of people? Before we answer this, let's look at two other statements describing our Lord's earthly mission.

The first of these two will be Matthew 1:21 which reads:

She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. NASB

This was spoken to Joseph by an angel of the Lord. The angel is telling Joseph who Jesus is and what he is coming to do. Jesus' mission is to save His people from their sins. So again, who is it that Jesus saves from their sins? The text states that it is His people who is saved from their sins. So Mr. Clough has two options here. He can insist that all people are Jesus' people or he can say that only some are His. If Mr. Clough chooses all people, then Jesus failed in His mission because not all are saved. If he chooses some people, he must give an answer as to who these people are. The Calvinist of course, says this group is none other than the elect. If not the elect, then who? Mr. Clough might claim that the Jewish nation is in view here. But if this is so, again, Jesus failed in His mission because not all Jews are saved. Clearly, the Calvinistic interpretation is preferred.

The next verse I wish to look at before returning to Luke is John 6:38 & 39 which read:

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. NASB

Here in John 6, Jesus states that His earthly mission is to do the Father's will and that the Father's will is that Jesus lose none of those whom the Father has given Him and to raise them to life. Now, the first thing to notice is just who it is that Christ will not be losing. This is a specific group of people that the Father has given Him. If Mr. Clough tries to insert "all men" here, then what he ends up with is either Universalism or the notion that Christ failed to do the Father's will. Both of these are unacceptable so, what does Mr. Clough do here?

So far, Matthew states Jesus will save His people from their sin, and John says that Jesus will do the Father's will by raising to life all those given to Him. What then of Luke 19:10? We have already noted that v. 10 states that Jesus has come to seek and to save that which was lost. In light of the previous verses, those whom Jesus seeks are His own people. Further, these people are the same ones that the Father has given Him in order to raise them to life. But this is not all. Luke 19:10 falls within the story of Zaccheus the tax collector being converted. Jesus states in verse 19:9 that salvation came to Zaccheus because he was a son of Abraham. So in context, Jesus sought to save the Sons of Abraham. Undoubtedly, the non-Calvinist or perhaps Mr. Clough himself would object to gentiles being referred to as sons of Abraham. But this term is not limited to the jews for two reasons. First, if the term "son of Abraham" were limited to the jews, then Christ failed in his mission because all jews are not saved. This is clearly unacceptable. The second reason is that Scripture identifies Gentiles as also being the sons of Abraham thru faith (Gal. 3:7). So we see that Luke falls in line with Matthew and John on Christ's mission. Contextually, Jesus sought to save the sons of Abraham in Luke. The sons of Abraham are "His people" according to Matthew. And "His people" are the ones whom the Father has given to Christ for the purpose of raising them to life in John.

In looking at these statements of Christ's earthly mission, we have seen that all three refer to a particuliar group of people. This particuliarity in Christ's mission is in complete harmony with the Calvinistic interpretation of John 6:44 because there is no disjunction between those whom Jesus sought to save and those who are drawn to Him by the Father. In order for Mr. Clough's assertions in regards to Luke 19:10 to hold up, he will need to deal with the demonstrated harmony of all three accounts of Christ's earthly mission and then show an inconsistency with the Calvinistic interpretation of John 6:44.


Anonymous said...

You really don't know the scripture very well do you? I imagine that some of your better instructed Calvinist friends must shudder when you enter the scriptural fray!

For your edification, here are some scriptures dealing with who Jesus' people are that He came to save in regard to this latest posting of yours.

Matthew 15:24 (KJV)

24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Matthew 10:5-7 (KJV)

5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

John 1:11 He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.

I hope this settles who can rightly be called Jesus' people! Salvation is of the Jews as Jesus told the Samaritan woman in John 4, so it must begin with them.

As you can see by the text, He was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Were they then all saved? NOT! Just exactly as all are called and all are commanded to repent and yet some refuse.
Acts 17:30 (KJV) And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

Did Christ fail in His mission to save the lost sheep of Israel? Only the Calvinist's make Him a failure by their presumption that man has no part in his own salvation! As they cannot explain the willful rebellion of Satan, so the Calvinist cannot accept the plain truth of the Word of God that God has made it possible for all sinners to believe and given them that option.

Like Cain, sinners fail to believe in Christ even though they are presented with the truth of His Deity. That's called the Unpardonable Sin, the one sin Christ did not die for. It is the rejection of Jesus Christ after being drawn by the Spirit's teaching toward salvation.

After the rejection of Christ by the leadership of Israel, His larger mission (always in God's plan) was to "seek and to save sinners."

Lost in your misguided attack was my purpose in bringing up Luke 19:10.
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

That purpose was to show that you cannot use John 6:44 out of harmony with other verses dealing with salvation. Your simplistic insistence on one verse hermeneutics doesn't work when applied to Luke 19:10, for instance.

Obviously, FROM OTHER VERSES, we know that not every sinner Jesus sought is saved. Same for "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" His original target audience!

So again, any system that claims to be the Word of God must be validated by ALL of the Scriptures. Calvinism rests uneasily indeed on a select few, while contradicting a host of other, more foundational truths, in the Word of God.

Calvinism is not Christianity, but a gross misconception thereof.

We can all be glad that it has never replaced real Christianity which accurately portrays the God of love actively seeking the salvation of all men.
Dennis Clough (If you edit this, please be honest enough to say so)

J. Matthew Cleary said...


"You really don't know the scripture very well do you?"

True to form, you begin your post with a personal jab.

"I hope this settles who can rightly be called Jesus' people!"

No, it doesn't. Especially considering Paul's statements in Romans 9:6-8, Galatians 3:7,29,16.
There are two Israels, national Israel and the Israel of God. Christ was sent first to Israel to gather those within her who were His and to confirm national Israel's rejection of Him as Messiah. This is why Christ did not fail in His stated mission.

If you try to limit God's people to the Jews then Christ did indeed fail in His mission. Matthew stated that Christ's mission was to save His people. If you limit his people to national Israel, then Christ indeed failed because national Israel was not saved.

Further, you did not interact with my handling of the cited verses. You simply quoted other verses and applied an assumed meaning.

"As they cannot explain the willful rebellion of Satan, so the Calvinist cannot accept the plain truth of the Word of God that God has made it possible for all sinners to believe and given them that option."

Again, true to form, you are bouncing all over the place with your assertions. Please limit your comments to the discussion at hand.

"That purpose was to show that you cannot use John 6:44 out of harmony with other verses dealing with salvation. Your simplistic insistence on one verse hermeneutics doesn't work when applied to Luke 19:10, for instance."

How does this even begin to answer what I've written in this post or the previous post on John 12:32? What I have done is to show that the Calvinistic exegesis of John 6:44 is in complete harmony with the biblical understanding of John 12:32 and Luke 19:10. Where are your refutations?

"Calvinism is not Christianity, but a gross misconception thereof."

Mere assertion.

"(If you edit this, please be honest enough to say so)"

The comment moderation feature allows me to accept or reject posts in their entirety. So your jab at my honesty was unwarranted.

Anonymous said...

Here you have brought to light a major error of Reformation theology, the failure to distinguish between Israel and the Church.

One is an earthly Kingdom and the other is a Heavenly Body, the Bride of Christ.

All saved Jews are presently in the body of Christ. They are Christians. God has not replaced Israel with the church, since He has made eternal covenants with that nation that cannot be abridged.

Their fulfillment depends solely on Him. The Davidic Covenant cannot be bypassed as neither can the Abrahamic Covenant.

These promises are to be literally fulfilled to the saved, earthly descendants of Abraham.

The church cannot be described that way, We share Abrahams faith and blessings, but we are not his blood descendants.

On the other hand, God has made promises to the church that cannot be applied honestly to Israel.

You are confused because Christians are saved in exactly the same manner as Abraham was. He was saved before either circumcision or the Law was given to Israel. WE Christians are saved by grace like Abraham was and walk by faith as Abraham walked.

The difference is that the Holy Spirit now dwells forever in each Christian and has melded us all into a SPIRITUAL body. This is a new thing that Israel of the past never experienced. This distinguishing feature underscores that Israel and the church are separate in God's economy.

Israel has been temporarily "put on the shelf" until the church is complete. After the Bride of Christ, the church, is raptured home to Heaven, God will begin to deal with Israel again and "all of Israel will be saved".

It's a pity that the Reformers were so focused on salvation by grace that they neglected to study the formation of the church.

But after all, they were out to reform the Catholic church rather than renounce it completely and get back to the Apostolic church as written out in Scripture.

I am fully aware that you don't believe all of this, but that is a major factor in your misunderstanding of other Scriptures.

Back to recent points; Christ came to save His own as He clearly states. My last post shows the scriptural references that "his own" are the Jewish people. We do agree that not all Jews were saved.

Neither are all that are called saved. But you wish to divert attention from the fact that you are using ONE method to interpret your favorite verse your way and another method to interpret verses unfavorable to your system another way.

After the rejection of Christ by the leaders of Israel, their minds and hearts were judicialy blinded. Then Christ began to call individuals to Himself and then only announce that He would build His church.

So He came to seek and to save sinners, both Jew and Gentile.

Your system of Calvinism breaks down here and would show Christ as a failure if He doesn't save all He was seeking. So you stick with the system and jettison the truth.

The man who rejects Christ is personally responsible and will rightfully go to Hell.

His actions are on his own head and he will fully bear the responsibility for his own sin.

This is a SCRIPTURAL principal that has nothing to do with any supposed failure on God's part!

But the Calvinist, having begun to tweak the scriptures on one point must continue to wrest others so they support his nefarious system!

Gallons of ink are used by the Calvinist to refute what the Scriptures plainly say. "World" doesn't really mean WORLD, it means some in the World! Oh, thanks for clearing up what The Holy Spirit didn't know how to say! Silly me, I thought WORLD and ALL were intended to be understood in their usual common usage!

Presumptuous "correcting" of the MASTER WRITER!

I think any readers are intelligent enough to see that you are shifting in and out on your conclusions. These are based on a biased method of hermeneutics.

You dodge the truth, completely committed to preserving a system that only keeps you from a fuller appreciation and understanding of the whole counsel of God.

Dennis Clough

Bulldawgy said...

Wow! This dude just said that Calvinism is not Christianity. So, I guess he just said that I, my family, and many of my friends, whom I consider to brothers and sisters in Christ, are lost and without hope.

A brash statement, indeed. And I am certain, since Mr. Clough is so knowledgable of the Scriptures, that he took Ephesians 4:15-16 into mind when he posted this.

J. Matthew Cleary said...


Your post today is a combination of Dispensationalism and rhetoric. The rhetoric has become expected from you but your Dispensationalism I find to be ironic. That is, you have went on and on about me (supposedly) interpreting the Scriptures thru the "lens" of Calvinism and here, you have just demonstrated that you are interpreting the Scriptures thru the "lens" of Dispensationalism. Further, you have criticized me for not comparing "Scripture with Scripture", but this is precisely what I've done in my handling of verses that deal with Jesus' stated mission. You have offered no direct interaction with my handling of the cited verses nor have you offered an explaination of the differentiation of the two Israel's mentioned in Paul's writings. All you've done here is offer standard Dispensational understanding of Scripture in General.

So again, without direct interaction with my post, you are allowing it to stand unrefuted. Further, if you ever decide to actually interact with what I write, you are going to do it without your customary jabs or you will no longer be welcome here at Conversations.

J. Matthew Cleary said...


Thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts. In fact, I never thanked you for the kind words and encouragement in your previous post here. So, thanks x2!

By the way, what part of Georgia do you hail from?

Bulldawgy said...

I think I responded to this already, but maybe not....... hmmmm.......

Bulldawgy said...

Okay, maybe I didn't reply.....

I'm from John's Creek, Georgia. Do you know where that is?

From whence do you hail?

J. Matthew Cleary said...


No, I have never heard of it (I think).

I hail from the carpet capitol of the world. And I'll have to rebuke you if you say you don't know where that is!

Bulldawgy said...

Yup, I know where that is....

John's Creek is near Alpharetta - a suburb in North Atlanta......

Keep defending the faith, sir.

bristopoly said...

6 But [it is] not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are [descended] from Israel; 7 nor are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but: "through Isaac your descendants will be named." 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants...

...26 and so all Israel will be saved;

There goes Paul confusing the Church and Israel again. He should take a course on the Pauline Epistles from Darby.