Archive for August, 2011

James Jordan or Joseph Smith?

August 31, 2011

Here’s the quotation: “We shall no longer be under the Father — except in the more general sense that as creatures we shall always be “under” God. As the fully mature Son sits with his Father on his throne, so shall we (Revelation 3:21; John 17:21-22). We shall be co-elders with the Father and the Son. In this final phase, the Spirit will be with us not only as the Spirit of the Father and as the Spirit of the Son, but then fully as the Spirit of Glory. He will fully give us his own Divine property of glory. He will no longer be conveying us either to the Son or to the Father, except as he is the bond of this everlasting fellowship.”

You tell me if that’s James Jordan of “Biblical Horizons” or Joseph Smith of “The Book of Mormon,” “The Doctrines of Salvation,” etc.

How about this one?

“The Father has promised us that through our faithfulness we shall be blessed with the fulness of his kingdom. In other words we will have the privilege of becoming like him. To become like him we must have all the powers of godhood … . We will become gods and have jurisdiction over worlds … .”


Examining Bryan Cross’s Christology

August 31, 2011

I’m no fan of James Jordan or his branch of the Federal Visionists. Nor do I in any way endorse Jordan’s recent speculation regarding the alleged eternal maturation of the Son. Nevertheless, I found it interesting that Called to Communion’s Bryan Cross demonstrated his lack of familiarity [UPDATE: see further comments / retractions below] with Christology while attempting to deal with Jordan’s trinitarian musings.

Cross: “Christ’s being eternally begotten of the Father refers to the procession of the Son from the Father. That is, the Logos eternally proceeds from the Father.”

Bryan Cross is a member of the Roman communion and putatively some sort of teacher of his church’s doctrine via his website, Called to Communion.

Roman theology, however, actually makes a distinction between begetting and procession. The Spirit proceeds from the Father (and the Son) but the Son is begotten of the Father. In fact, the Council of Florence defined things this way:

Whoever wills to be saved, before all things it is necessary that he holds the catholic faith. Unless a person keeps this faith whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish eternally. The catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in the Trinity, and the Trinity in unity, neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the holy Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the holy Spirit is one, the glory equal, and the majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the holy Spirit. The Father uncreated the Son uncreated and the holy Spirit uncreated. The Father infinite, the Son infinite and the holy Spirit infinite. The Father eternal, the Son eternal and the holy Spirit eternal. Yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal. As also they are not three uncreateds nor three infinites, but one uncreated and one infinite. Likewise the Father is almighty, the Son is almighty and the holy Spirit is almighty. Yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty. Likewise the Father is God, the Son is God and the holy Spirit is God. Yet they are not three gods, but one God. Likewise the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord and the holy Spirit is Lord. Yet they are not three lords, but one Lord. For just as we are compelled by the Christian truth to acknowledge each person by himself to be God and Lord, so we are forbidden by the catholic religion to say there are three gods or three lords. The Father is made by none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is from the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten. The holy Spirit is from the Father and the Son; not made nor created nor begotten, but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three fathers; one Son, not three sons; one holy Spirit, not three holy spirits. And in this Trinity nothing is before or after, nothing is greater or less; but the whole three persons are co-eternal together and co-equal. So that in all things, as has been said above, the unity in Trinity and the Trinity in unity is to be worshipped. Whoever, therefore, wishes to be saved, let him think thus of the Trinity.

The council goes on to reemphasize this: “The Father alone from his substance begot the Son; the Son alone is begotten of the Father alone; the holy Spirit alone proceeds at once from the Father and the Son.”

The implication of the Council of Florence’s statement is that someone like Cross, who alleges that the Son proceeds from the Father (“the procession of the Son from the Father”) might not be saved, because he doesn’t think of the Trinity the way the Council of Florence did. To some extent, that’s Rome arrogance with respect to the Filioque, as though they get to define the gospel so as to exclude the Greeks from it. But we can address Rome’s arrogance another time.

On another tangent, while Jordan doesn’t appear to commit the identical basic problem, Jordan does seem to confuse “begotten from all eternity” with “eternally begetting” (see Jordan’s comments in the comment box), in other words he is confusing a fait accompli with an on-going action. Thus, Jordan makes bizarre statements like “The Son eternally becomes mature” and “The Spirit eternally causes the Son to mature,” neither of which appears to have any legitimate basis in the Scriptures (or in Tradition, i.e. church history, for that matter).



Bryan Cross has written a follow-on in which he appeals to Thomas Aquinas, who describes the “generation” of the Son as a type of procession. The only problem with this, of course, is that Thomas died in 1274, and the Council of Florence was in the mid-1400s.  Bryan Cross can’t appeal to Thomas Aquinas in order to deny the immaculate conception against Ineffabilis Deus, and he can’t appeal to Thomas in order to deny something that Florence said.

Nevertheless, this way of speaking on Bryan’s part is not entirely without precedent in Roman theology post Florence.  John Paul II used the term “procession” to refer to the eternal generation of the Son in a general audience on 20 November 1985. There, JP2 distinguishes between spiration and generation but describes both as “procession.”  So, perhaps I am being unduly harsh on Bryan in insisting that he maintain the distinctions set forth in Florence when even the second most recent pope doesn’t keep them straight.

At least, shall we say, JP2 and Cross do not maintain the exclusive use of “procession” with reference to spiration that Florence did.  For example, note in Session 6, the following explanation:

The Latins asserted that they say the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son not with the intention of excluding the Father from being the source and principle of all deity, that is of the Son and of the holy Spirit, nor to imply that the Son does not receive from the Father, because the holy Spirit proceeds from the Son, nor that they posit two principles or two spirations; but they assert that there is only one principle and a single spiration of the holy Spirit, as they have asserted hitherto.

To wrap up, I think my words “demonstrated his lack of familiarity” may be unduly harsh and unjustified, so I retract them in favor “demonstrated a departure from the dogmatically defined distinctions employed by the Council of Florence.”  After all, perhaps Bryan is more familiar with Aquinas’ usage than with the subsequent dogmatic definition of Bryan’s church, or perhaps Bryan is influenced by John Paul II’s usage

One assumes that Florence, on the other hand was more influenced by Isidore of Seville’s ancient distinctions (either directly or indirectly), for the second item posted above seems to be almost a verbatim quotation from his Etymologies (The Etymologies VII.iv.4; see also VII.iii.6-8).

Baptista Mantuanus on Scripture’s Self-Attesting Authority

August 30, 2011

Baptista Mantuanus (17 April 1447 – 20 March 1516), lib. de Patientia, cap. 32, 33 (as found in the Works of John Own, Volume 18, in A Vindication of Animadversions on Fiat Lux, Chapter VII).

Saepenumero,’ saith he, ‘mecum cogitavi, unde tam suadibilis esset ista Scriptura, ut tam potenter influat in animos auditorum; unde tantum habeat energiae, ut non ad opinandum sed ad solide credendum omnes inflectat.’

‘I have often thought with myself whence the Scripture is so persuasive, whence it doth so powerfully influence the minds of the hearers; whence it hath so much efficacy, that it should incline and bow all men, not to think as probable, but solidly to believe, the things it proposeth.’

Non,’ saith he, ‘est hoc imputandum rationum evidentiae quas non adducit, non artis industriae et verbis suavibus et ad persuadendum accommodatis quibus non utitur.’

‘It is not to be ascribed unto the evidence of reasons, which it bringeth not, neither to the excellency of art, sweet words, and accommodated unto persuasion, which it makes no use of.’

Sed vide an id in causa sit quod persuasi sumus earn a prima veritate fluxisse.’

‘But see if this be not the cause of it, that we are persuaded that it proceeds from the prime verity.’

He proceeds, ‘Sed unde sumus ita persuasi nisi ab ipsa, quasi ad ei credendum non sua ipsim trahat authoritas. Sed unde quaeso hanc sibi authoritatem, vindicavit? Neque enim vidimus nos Deum conscionantem, scribentem, docentem; tamen ac si vidissemus, credimus et tenemus a Spiritu Sancto fluxisse quod legimus: Forsitan fuerit haec ratio firmiter adhaerendi, quod in ea veritas sit solidior quamvis non clarior. Habet enim omnis veritas vim inclinativam, et major majorem, maxima maximam. Sed cur ergo omnes non credunt Evangelio? Respondeo quod non omnes trahuutur a Deo.’ And again, ‘Inest ergo Scripturis sacris nescio quid natura sublimius, ‘id est inspiratio facta divinitus et divinae irradiationis influxus certus.’

‘But whence are we persuaded, that it is from the first verity, but from itself? its own authority draws us to believe it. But whence obtains it this authority? we see not God preaching, writing, teaching; but yet, as if we had seen him, we believe and firmly hold that which we read to have come from the Holy Ghost. It may be that this is a reason of our firm adhering unto it, that the truth in it is more solid, though not more clear’ (than in any other way of proposal),’ and all truth hath a power to incline unto belief; the greater the truth the greater its power, and the greatest truth must have the greatest power so to incline us. But, why then do not all believe the gospel? I answer, Because all are not drawn of God. There is then in the holy Scripture somewhat more sublime than nature, that is, the divine inspiration from whence it is, and the divine irradiation wherewith it is accompanied.’

Thomas Aquinas’ Fictional Adoption of the Immaculate Conception

August 28, 2011

It ought to be well-known that Rome’s dogma of the Immaculate Conception was denied by her leading medieval saint, Thomas Aquinas (as outlined here). This has been something of a thorn in the side of those contending that Mary was immaculately conceived. They have tried to explain Aquinas’ position away in various ways – such as by arguing that Aquinas didn’t believe that life begins at conception (which is true, but not particularly helpful to their case). Another theory sometimes set forth (recently, for example, by Taylor Marshall) is that Aquinas came to hold to the dogma of the immaculate conception late in life, even after writing the portion of the Summa Theologica that denies it.

Réginald Marie Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. is (or, I suppose I should say, “was”) one of the leading Thomist theologians of the 20th century. In his Discourse II on Mary’s Immaculate Conception, published in “The Mother of the Savior” (1948), Garrigou-Lagrange wrote:

In the final period of his career, when writing the Exposito super salutatione angelica—-which is certainly authentic [39]—–in 1272 or 1273, St. Thomas expressed himself thus: ‘For she [the Blessed Virgin] was most pure in the matter of fault (quantum ad culpam) and incurred neither Original nor mental nor venial sin.’

The problem is this:

The “neither original” in that quotation is an interpolation. Gibbings pointed that out long ago in his “Roman forgeries and falsifications” but you can see for yourself if you get a modern critical text of the work.

The Latin actually says “Ipsa enim purissima fuit et quantum ad culpam, quia ipsa virgo nec mortale nec veniale peccatum incurrit.” (“For she [the Blessed Virgin] was most pure because the Virgin herself incurred neither mortal nor venial sin.”)

What is especially shameful about this lie (perhaps I should be reluctant to call it a lie when Garrigou-Lagrange may simply have been working from a corrupted text, but it is hard to attribute ignorance of Thomas to a Thomist of his stature) is that the same work earlier explained:

“Sed Christus excellit beatam virginem in hoc quod sine originali conceptus et natus est. Beata autem virgo in originali est concepta, sed non nata.” (“But Christ excels the Blessed Virgin in this, because he was conceived and born without original [sin]. Therefore, the Blessed Virgina was conceived in original [sin] but not born in it].”)

No, Aquinas died believing that Mary was conceived in original sin. Garrigou-Lagrange is to be blamed for perpetuating a falsehood about Thomas and Taylor Marshall is to be blamed (much less, of course) for perpetuating Garrigou-Lagrange’s error. Does that make Thomas a modern Protestant? Of course not. He disagreed with us on many matters, even about Mary.

How can you cash out this fact? Well, Rome insists today that you must believe in the immaculate conception of Mary. The immaculate conception of Mary is not taught in Scripture and it was not taught by any father prior to Augustine. It was denied by numerous men who were or became bishops of Rome. Even Garrigou-Lagrange states (a little above his attempt to resuscitate Thomas for the immaculatist position):

The Council of Trent (Denz., 792) declares, when speaking of Original Sin which infects all men, that it does not intend to include the Blessed and Immaculate Virgin Mary. In 1567 Baius is condemned for having taught the contrary (Denz., 1073). In 1661 Alexander VII affirmed the privilege, saying that almost all Catholics held it, though it had not yet been defined (Denz., 1100). Finally, on December 8th, 1854, we have the promulgation of the solemn definition (Denz., 1641).

It must be admitted that in the 12th and 13th centuries certain great doctors, as, for example, St. Bernard, [29] St. Anselm, [30] Peter Lombard, [31] Hugh of St. Victor, [32] St. Albert the Great, [33] St. Bonaventure, [34] and St. Thomas Aquinas appear to have been disinclined to admit the privilege.

29. Epist. ad canonicos Lugdunenses.

30. De conceptione virginali.

31. In III Sent., dist. 3.

32. Super Missus est.

33. Item Super Missus est.

34. In III Sent., dist. 3, q. 27.

Thomas and the others help to show that Rome’s demand that we believe in Mary’s immaculate conception is really a demand for us to have implicit faith in the church of Rome. The dogma cannot be established from Scripture, it cannot be established from the fathers of the first three centuries, and it is opposed to the testimony of folks like Thomas Aquinas, who could hardly have been unaware of an apostolic tradition of an immaculate conception, if one existed.

Therefore, Rome is claiming the ability to simply define dogma that cannot be proven from Scripture or Tradition (History) and make that dogma so central to the faith that to deny is to – well – hear for yourself:

Hence, if anyone shall dare–which God forbid!–to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment; that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the unity of the Church; and that, furthermore, by his own action he incurs the penalties established by law if he should dare to express in words or writing or by any other outward means the errors he think in his heart.

(Ineffabilis Deus – 1854)

That is sola ecclesia for you. If you implicitly trust Rome, the testimony of about 10 bishops of Rome and about half a dozen doctors of the church (Gregory the Great, Albert, Bernard, Aquinas, Anselm, and Bonaventure) will not matter. Yet, if you will critically consider Rome’s claims, perhaps this issue of the Immaculate Conception can help you to see that Rome’s claims about itself are false. She had no right to define the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, and no good reason to think it true. She cannot establish it from Scripture and it is not an apostolic tradition.

– TurretinFan

Dordt and Common Grace

August 26, 2011

The expression “common grace” has an historical connection to the Remonstrants. That has led some Calvinists to reject entirely the term “common grace,” and to make this a shibboleth of “true Calvinism” or “classical Calvinism.” Such a shibboleth is foolish and mistaken, both because folks like Matthew Henry, Thomas Manton, and Jonathan Edwards used the term approvingly, but also because the Savoy Declaration and the London Baptist Confession use the term approvingly.

The term gets mentioned in the Canons of Dordt. The mention is in the context of the rejection of a Remonstrant error. The specific mention is this (at 3/4:V):

Who teach that corrupt and natural man can make such good use of common grace (by which they mean the light of nature) or of the gifts remaining after the fall that he is able thereby gradually to obtain a greater grace– evangelical or saving grace–as well as salvation itself; and that in this way God, for his part, shows himself ready to reveal Christ to all people, since he provides to all, to a sufficient extent and in an effective manner, the means necessary for the revealing of Christ, for faith, and for repentance.

For Scripture, not to mention the experience of all ages, testifies that this is false: He makes known his words to Jacob, his statutes and his laws to Israel; he has done this for no other nation, and they do not know his laws (Ps. 147:19-20); In the past God let all nations go their own way (Acts 14:16); They (Paul and his companions) were kept by the Holy Spirit from speaking God’s word in Asia; and When they had come to Mysia, they tried to go to Bithynia, but the Spirit would not allow them to (Acts 16:6-7).

(bold is the error being rejected)

Notice that the Canon does not say “Those who say ‘common grace’ are anathema.” Instead, it is a particular view of the sufficiency of common grace that is at stake. This is significant, because it means that it is not the phrase itself that is rejected.

Note that “common grace” is defined to mean “the light of nature.” The same synod, however, positively expressed the view of the synod on “common grace” or “the light of nature” in this way:

Article 4: The Inadequacy of the Light of Nature

    There is, to be sure, a certain light of nature remaining in man after the fall, by virtue of which he retains some notions about God, natural things, and the difference between what is moral and immoral, and demonstrates a certain eagerness for virtue and for good outward behavior. But this light of nature is far from enabling man to come to a saving knowledge of God and conversion to him–so far, in fact, that man does not use it rightly even in matters of nature and society. Instead, in various ways he completely distorts this light, whatever its precise character, and suppresses it in unrighteousness. In doing so he renders himself without excuse before God.

Notice that the synod positively affirms that man has the light of nature, it just rejects the sufficiency of that light of nature for salvation.

I would be remiss if I did not point out that the synod says of this common grace, that “man does not use it rightly even in matters of nature and society.” That is a serious blow to those who today are departing radically from the teachings of the Reformers and asserting the sufficiency of the light of nature for matters of society.

There is not a symmetry between Scripture and the light of nature, such that the light of nature is sufficient for nature and society whereas the Bible is sufficient for faith. Instead, the light of nature is utterly insufficient. So taught the Reformers, so teach the Scriptures, and so ought we to believe.


Ponter and Paul on Sincerity (revisited)

August 25, 2011

David Ponter is a Unicornucopia of error in his attempt to challenge the “sincere offer.” My friend Paul has already provided a general response pointing out that a flaw of Ponter’s analogy is denial of omnipotence. Let’s take it a step further.

Ponter’s idea is expressed through this analogy:

David says to his friend Paddy,

Paddy, if God were to say to me, “David, I want to offer you a green polka dotted unicorn for your next birthday, all you have to do, David, is to believe and embrace my offer, you will get a green-spotted unicorn for your birthday,” God would be thoroughly sincere in this offer.

Paddy, the Irish Leprechaun, says to David,

But that would be impossible David, because everyone knows that green spotted unicorns don’t exist in this world. God could not sincerely offer to give you something that does not exist.

Ponter has tried to bias the example by picking something very fanciful. Let’s pick something less fanciful. Suppose that God simply promises 1 ounce more gold than currently exists. Well, in that case, I think we would all recognize that God would not be challenged to fulfill that offer simply because of the present non-existence of the last ounce of gold, since God can easily make more gold. It doesn’t even require omnipotence to make a finite amount of gold. So, the intuition that God cannot offer what he doesn’t presently have is mistaken.

Moreover, Ponter’s analogy seems flawed for another reason. The gospel (in its primary sense) doesn’t promise to give you a thing or object. It promises salvation from your sins. God is saying that if you trust in Christ and repent of your sins, you will be forgiven, adopted, justified, and so on.

Maybe you will say, “but what about our heavenly mansions?” Maybe you have something there! Will heaven be a ghost town of empty mansions of folks who were offered the gospel but didn’t accept? Or does God actually only prepare mansions for those who trust in Christ? Intuitively, one would not expect heaven to be full of unoccupied mansions. But is that what Ponter thinks is necessary to make God’s offer sincere?


Sincere Offer, Election, and Limited Atonement

August 24, 2011

My friend Paul has posted a response to David Ponter’s response to James Anderson’s comments on Limited Atonement and the Free Offer. It’s a very detailed and worth reading. Allow me to post some shorter thoughts on the topic, namely the objection:

Is the “free offer” of the gospel really “sincere” if Jesus only died for some men and not all? If there is no atonement available for them, the offer seems insincere.

This is a frequent objection, particularly from Amyraldians and Arminians. If you think that the gospel is “Jesus died for you,” then this objection makes a lot of sense. If we’re supposed to tell people indiscriminately that Christ died for them, but he didn’t, that doesn’t seem very sincere.

Scriptures, however, don’t present the gospel that way. In Scripture, the gospel is expressed in terms of repenting of your sins and believing on (i.e. trusting in) Jesus Christ for salvation. If you trust in Christ and repent of your sins, God will have mercy on you.

There is a world of difference between those two messages. One message makes an unconditional assertion regarding what Christ has done. The other message makes a conditional assertion about what God will do.

Yet, even among those who will grant to us that the gospel is not, “Jesus died for you,” some people still don’t like the idea of salvation being offered to those for whom God has not made any provision. Indeed, our Amyraldian and Arminian friends sometimes urge on us the idea that such a conditional offer is not “sincere” unless God has made preparations for those people.

The mere absence of enough provision for everyone to be saved, however, doesn’t explain this objection. Suppose a company offers to “anyone who is willing to come down here and listen to us explain the benefits of our new tractor,” an incentive of “$5, just for coming down and listening to the talk.” No one would consider it “insincere” if the company doesn’t actually have $5 times the number of people who will hear the offer, so long as they have $5 times the number of people that they think will accept the offer.

So, as long as the provision is sufficient for those who will “accept” the offer, we don’t view the offer as insincere. Since, under the Calvinist framework, God has made provision for all who will come to Christ, the offer of the gospel should also be considered to be sincere by this standard.

The intuition behind the objection that remains, however, is that an “offer” doesn’t seem sincere, if you have no intention of giving the offered thing to the person to whom you are offering it. For example, when a child offers to share an ice cream cone, it sometimes happens that this is simply an imitation of a parent’s offer to share the parent’s cone. If the parent were to try to accept the child’s offer, the child might greedily refuse to allow the parent to have a bite. So, the child has only offered to share the cone because the child thought the offer would be refused. Such an offer is insincere.

Of course, by this time we are now dealing with the kind of objection that an Amyraldian, or someone like Ponter, cannot consistently make. After all, the problem with the child’s offer is not that he doesn’t have a cone to share, but that he does not intend to give up the cone. The Amyraldian admits that God does not intend to save the non-elect. Therefore, whether or not a provision is made seems utterly moot.

Nevertheless, for those who insist that God must intend to save, we may still legitimately question the weight of this objection. Isn’t it enough that God intends to save everyone who “accepts” the “offer”? The idea that God must intend to save all those whom he knows will refuse seems absurd when expressed that way. Thus, we may conclude that while such an objection may have some limited intuitive appeal, it does not hold up to intellectual scrutiny.


Roots of the Samaritan Religion

August 22, 2011

A further evidence for the fact that Jeroboamic worship of the golden calves was an attempt to worship the Lord by images can be seen from the unusual post-exilic religion in the region of Israel, from which the Samaritan religion appears to have been derived.

The account of that religion’s origin can be seen in the following account (2 Kings 17:22-41)

For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them; until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.

The “sins of Jeroboam” refers to a collection of sins of which the principle examples were the golden calves and the unauthorized priesthood. From the time of Jeroboam, until the destruction of Israel with the permanent exile of the ten tribes, the Israelites (as a nation) never gave up this ungodly worship of the Lord.

And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.

The Assyrians were, in some ways, smart. By reshuffling and intermixing the people, they avoided the ancient loyalties and helped to reinforce an Assyrian empire identity. The result, however, was that there were essentially no “native” Israelites in Israel.

And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the LORD: therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which slew some of them.

Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, “The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land.

Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, “Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land.”

The people of the land recognized that they were receiving divine judgment in the form of these lions. Being from other places that each had its own “god,” they assumed that there must be some local deity in Israel that they needed to appease. However, no one knew how to appease the local deity. So, they begged for the king of Assyria’s help.

The king of Assyria had a solution. Send one priest back to teach them how to worship this local deity.

Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the LORD.

So, from this unauthorized Israelite priesthood, a single priest returned to teach them how to worship the Lord – not how to worship Baal, but the Lord. This suggests that the worship of the Jeroboamic religion was a faulty worship of the Lord.

And unsurprisingly, this one priest taught them how to worship the Lord, but did not teach them to worship the Lord alone. While God seems to have accepted this fundamentally unacceptable co-worship in terms of stopping the lion attacks, the text makes clear that this joint worship of God and other gods was not acceptable:

Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt. And the men of Babylon made Succothbenoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima, and the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim.

So they feared the LORD, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places.

They feared the LORD, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence. Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the LORD, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the LORD commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel; with whom the LORD had made a covenant, and charged them, saying,

Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them: but the LORD, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice. And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods. And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods. But the LORD your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.

Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner. So these nations feared the LORD, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.

Did God save these pagans who worshiped the Lord? God does not tell us that explicitly. It seems that the people did not continue to cry out to the king of Assyria for something more, nevertheless it is clear from the text that we should not view what they did as good enough.

I should also point out that there is a slight apparent contradiction you may have noticed “they feared the Lord” and “they fear not the Lord.” The resolution of this apparent contradiction is seen in the fact that while they do outwardly give worship to the Lord, nevertheless they do not do so according to the way that the Lord commanded. This single priest of Israel was not one of God’s appointed priests. He did not properly instruct the people of the land, nor – if he did – did they properly follow his instruction.

I suppose we ourselves can take a warning from this. The warning would be to be mindful that we are not content simply to have some general worship for God, but also to follow his commandments. After all, it is one thing to be afraid of God’s lions, but it is another thing to love the law of God.

– TurretinFan

Facing the Shame

August 19, 2011

Upon reading a saddening post from the Bayly brothers, I would like to join in agreement with the point of his post regarding the necessity of fathers facing the shame that can come from dealing with family-on-family crime. I would like to bolster that with the moral example we are given in the case of Amnon, Jonadab, and Tamar and the disharmony that David’s mishandling of that situation led to in terms of David’s relationship to Absalom.

2 Samuel 13:1-39 (the whole chapter)

And it came to pass after this, that Absalom the son of David had a fair sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her. And Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin; and Amnon thought it hard for him to do any thing to her. But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David’s brother: and Jonadab was a very subtil man.

And he said unto him, “Why art thou, being the king’s son, lean from day to day? wilt thou not tell me?”

And Amnon said unto him, “I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.”

And Jonadab said unto him, “Lay thee down on thy bed, and make thyself sick: and when thy father cometh to see thee, say unto him, ‘I pray thee, let my sister Tamar come, and give me meat, and dress the meat in my sight, that I may see it, and eat it at her hand.'”

So Amnon lay down, and made himself sick: and when the king was come to see him, Amnon said unto the king, “I pray thee, let Tamar my sister come, and make me a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat at her hand.”

Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, “Go now to thy brother Amnon’s house, and dress him meat.”

So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house; and he was laid down. And she took flour, and kneaded it, and made cakes in his sight, and did bake the cakes. And she took a pan, and poured them out before him; but he refused to eat.

And Amnon said, “Have out all men from me.” And they went out every man from him.

And Amnon said unto Tamar, “Bring the meat into the chamber, that I may eat of thine hand.” And Tamar took the cakes which she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother.

And when she had brought them unto him to eat, he took hold of her, and said unto her, “Come lie with me, my sister.

And she answered him, “Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not thou this folly. And I, whither shall I cause my shame to go? and as for thee, thou shalt be as one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, I pray thee, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee.”

Howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her. Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, “Arise, be gone.”

And she said unto him, “There is no cause: this evil in sending me away is greater than the other that thou didst unto me.” But he would not hearken unto her.

Then he called his servant that ministered unto him, and said, “Put now this woman out from me, and bolt the door after her.”

And she had a garment of divers colours upon her: for with such robes were the king’s daughters that were virgins apparelled. Then his servant brought her out, and bolted the door after her.

And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of divers colours that was on her, and laid her hand on her head, and went on crying.

And Absalom her brother said unto her, “Hath Amnon thy brother been with thee? but hold now thy peace, my sister: he is thy brother; regard not this thing.” So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom’s house.

But when king David heard of all these things, he was very wroth.

And Absalom spake unto his brother Amnon neither good nor bad: for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar.

And it came to pass after two full years, that Absalom had sheepshearers in Baalhazor, which is beside Ephraim: and Absalom invited all the king’s sons. And Absalom came to the king, and said, “Behold now, thy servant hath sheepshearers; let the king, I beseech thee, and his servants go with thy servant.”

And the king said to Absalom, “Nay, my son, let us not all now go, lest we be chargeable unto thee.” And he pressed him: howbeit he would not go, but blessed him.

Then said Absalom, “If not, I pray thee, let my brother Amnon go with us.”

And the king said unto him, “Why should he go with thee?” But Absalom pressed him, that he let Amnon and all the king’s sons go with him.

Now Absalom had commanded his servants, saying, “Mark ye now when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say unto you, ‘Smite Amnon;’ then kill him, fear not: have not I commanded you? be courageous, and be valiant.” And the servants of Absalom did unto Amnon as Absalom had commanded.

Then all the king’s sons arose, and every man gat him up upon his mule, and fled.

And it came to pass, while they were in the way, that tidings came to David, saying, “Absalom hath slain all the king’s sons, and there is not one of them left.” Then the king arose, and tare his garments, and lay on the earth; and all his servants stood by with their clothes rent.

And Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David’s brother, answered and said, “Let not my lord suppose that they have slain all the young men the king’s sons; for Amnon only is dead: for by the appointment of Absalom this hath been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar. Now therefore let not my lord the king take the thing to his heart, to think that all the king’s sons are dead: for Amnon only is dead.”

But Absalom fled. And the young man that kept the watch lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came much people by the way of the hill side behind him.

And Jonadab said unto the king, “Behold, the king’s sons come: as thy servant said, so it is.”

And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of speaking, that, behold, the king’s sons came, and lifted up their voice and wept: and the king also and all his servants wept very sore. But Absalom fled, and went to Talmai, the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son every day.

So Absalom fled, and went to Geshur, and was there three years. And the soul of king David longed to go forth unto Absalom: for he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead.

As you can see, the consequences of failing to do justice in the case of these kinds of situations can have devastating effects. It can even lead to “self help justice” of the kind that Absalom provided. It’s better for fathers to just bite the bullet, face the shame, and see that justice is done properly. (of course, that’s easier said than done, but the Baylys have pointed to someone who has done exactly that)


Why it is Important to Go Back to the Sources, Illustrated.

August 19, 2011

The following is a transcript of about four minutes from an informal radio debate from the Bible Answer Man program (source):

James White: I think it was God’s purpose to preserve the children of Israel alive in Egypt. So it was his purpose to send Joseph and he did so by having him sold into slavery in Egypt.

George Bryson: Well, let me answer that with a question. Let me ask you this question – and this will put in perspective to show the difference. When a child is raped, is God responsible and did He decree that rape?

White: If he didn’t, then that rape is an element of meaningless evil that has no purpose. What I’m trying to point out, by going to Scripture —

Hank Hanegraaff: So what is your answer there? Because I want to understand the answer to that question.

White: I’m trying to go to Scripture to answer it. The reason —

Hanegraaff: But what is the answer to the question he just asked, so that we can understand what the answer to the question is.

White: I mentioned to him, yes, because if not then it’s meaningless and purposeless and though God knew it was going to happen He created it without a purpose. That means God brought the evil into existence, knowing it was going to exist, but for no purpose, no redemption, nothing positive, nothing good. I say —

Hanegraaff: So, he did decree and if he decreed it, then there’s meaning to it.

White: that he – it has meaning, it has purpose, suffering (all suffering) has purpose, everything in this world has purpose. There is no basis for despair. But if we believe that God created knowing all this was going to happen, but with no decree. He just created and there is all this evil out there, and there’s no purpose, then every rape, every situation like that is nothing but purposeless evil and God is responsible for the creation of despair. And that is not what I believe.

Bryson: For years, I’ve been trying to figure out why it is that in order for rape to exist – or – unless God caused it to happen – there can’t be any purpose in it. God can use evil and he does. But to blame God, which is what a decree does, to blame God for the rape of a child is a horrible attack on the very character and love of God.

White: How about to blame God for the destruction of the heart of a father, thinking his son has been killed for many years – the weeping that he underwent. Genesis 50:20 has not been answered yet. And Acts chapter 4 tells us that the early church believed that Pontius Pilate and Herod and the Romans and the Jews in the crucifixion of the sinless son of God ( which I believe we would all agree is the greatest evil that man has ever committed) that that took place on the basis of the sovereign decree of God (Acts 4:27-28). If you could tell me both what you believe Acts 4:27-28 means and —

Bryson: Let me ask you if you think that rape is a sin.

White: I believe that — Can we use a biblical example, Acts 4:27-28?

Bryson: Rape is a biblical issue, is rape a sin?

White: Just as the crucifixion was a sin, yes.

Bryson: Ok. So, does God decree, and therefore is God the cause of, sin?

White: Again, as you well know, having read all of these things, let me just read this into everyone’s hearing, so they can see it. The early church said: “For truly in this city there were gathered against your holy servant Jesus, whom you annointed, both Herod, Pontius Pilate, along with the gentiles and the peoples of Israel to do whatever your hand and your purpose predestined to occur. And so here is an example where men committed evil and they did so at the predestining purpose of God. God is glorified. His intention is positive and good. The intention of Herod – the intention of the Jews – These were not innocent people and God’s standing behind them with a big gun, pushing them down the road, going “Be evil, be evil.” In fact, how many times did God restrain them!

Hanegraaff: So, they’re making a choice in the process, in your view.

White: They’re not only making a choice.

Hanegraaff: So, they have the ability to choose.

White: Within the realm of their nature, since they are fallen. Remember, God restrains men from committing evil. Let me ask you, do you believe that?

Bryson: Why are men fallen? That is the question.

White: Do you believe that?

Bryson: The question is, why are men fallen?

White: Could I ask – could I finish a point – Do you believe that God can keep someone from sinning?

Bryson: I would like to ask you the question, is God the cause of that sin? That’s the issue. God can do anything.

White: I’ve already pointed out, Genesis 50, that God’s decree is based upon his good intention. Can God keep a person from sinning? Will he violate libertarian free will, to keep a person from sinning, yes or no?

Bryson: That’s not a yes or no question.

The above (presumably – since it seems to be the closest section) got summarized this way by John Rabe (source):

And IMHO, White got his clock cleaned. Granted, the deck was stacked against him, as he had to debate both Bryson and Hanegraaff, who was certainly less than an impartial moderator.

White let Bryson frame the terms of the debate from the git-go, which doomed him. The general thrust of it came across like this:

BRYSON: Calvinists believe that God is an evil potentate who causes sin and tyranically damns people for no good reason and causes babies to be raped.

WHITE: Yes, and here’s why I believe that. Genesis 50 says…


Then, that converted by a lady named Barb into this (source):

A loose paraphrase from the James White and George Bryson debate on Bible Answer Man:

begin paraphrase:

BRYSON: Calvinists believe that God is an evil potentate who causes sin and tyranically damns people for no good reason and causes babies to be raped.

WHITE: Yes, and here’s why I believe that. Genesis 50 says…

end paraphrase

Yikes! With friends like this who needs enemies?

Then, it got quoted in Bryson’s book (The Dark Side of Calvinism, p. 372) this way:

Even more pointed, in comments found on the Internet in a section called “Whilin’ Away the Hours,” the Calvinist John Rabe offers what he calls:

“A loose paraphrase from the James White and George Bryson debate on the Bible Answer Man:

“begin paraphrase:

“BRYSON: Calvinists believe that God is an evil potentate who causes sin and tyrannically damns people for no good reason and causes babies to be raped.

“WHITE: Yes, and here’s why I believe that. Genesis 50 says …

“end paraphrase[.]

“Yikes! With friends like this who needs enemies?”612

Remember what the apostle James says:

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (James 1:17)

If the Calvinist is right, then James could and perhaps should also have said:

Every good and bad gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights and darkness.

I can understand why the admission of White is so disturbing to Calvinists. In his defense, however, White is only admitting what should be obvious to all Calvinists.

Finally, Micah Coate turned this into (A Cultish Side of Calvinism, p. 283)

In debating George Bryson, leading Calvinist James White admitted to Calvinism’s view of God. The following is a loose paraphrase from this debate:

BRYSON: Calvinists believe that God is an evil potentate who causes sin and tyrannically damns people for no good reason causes babies to be raped.

WHITE: Yes, and here’s why I believe that. Genesis 50 says …

BRYSON: Yikes! With friends like this who needs enemies? 558

I ask you whether you could provide a better of example of why it is important to go back to the original sources to see what a person actually admitted and actually did not admit.


UPDATE: Dr. White has provided to the use of this material here:

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