Archive for the ‘Wes White’ Category

Arminianism, Semi-Pelagianism, Wes White, and the real Francis Turretin

January 22, 2010

Pastor Wes White has an interesting post entitled, “Calvinism and Arminianism: A Middle Way?” He points out that one supposed “middle way” between Calvinism and Arminianism is just a restatement of Arminianism (and he provides a quotation from the real Francis Turretin to make his point). Although (like Pastor White) I’m a fan of Turretin and although he’s right in noting that the argument of the classical Arminians is what these supposed “middle way” folks are making, I want to take the opportunity to point out that it is even an older error than that. It is the error of the semi-Pelagian opponents of Augustinians such as Prosper of Aquitaine, as one can see from the passage below in which Prosper is writing to Augustine regarding his semi-Pelagian opponents and their arguments. Read carefully and see if you

Prosper of Aquitaine:

The opinion they hold is as follows: Every man has sinned in Adam, and no one is reborn and saved by his own works but by God’s grace. Yet, all men without exception are offered the reconciliation which Christ merited by the mystery of his death, in such manner that whosoever wish to come to the faith and to receive baptism can be saved. God has foreknown before the creation of the world who they are who will accept the faith and with the help of further grace persevere in it. He has predestined for his kingdom those who, called without any merit of their own, He foreknew would be worthy of their election and depart from this life by a good death. Accordingly, every man is urged by the teachings of Holy Scripture to believe and to work, and no one should despair of attaining eternal life, the reward prepared for those who serve God freely. But as to the decree of God’s special call by which He is said to have separated the elect and reprobate, either before the creation of the world or at the very creation of the human race, and according to His own good pleasure, so that some are born vessels of honor, others vessels of dishonor, this, they say, takes away from sinners an incentive for conversion and gives the pious occasion for lukewarmness. For both of them, exertion becomes superfluous if neither diligence can save a reprobate nor negligence ruin an elect. Whatever way they behave, nothing can happen to them except what God has decreed. With such doubtful prospects no man can follow a steady course of action, since all pains a man takes one way or another are of no avail if God’s predestination has decreed otherwise. To teach that the decree of God anticipates the wills of men is to invite them to cast aside all diligence and give up the effort for virtue; it is, under cover of predestination, to set up a sort of fatal necessity, or to say that the Lord has made men of different natures, if it is true that no one can change his condition of elect or reprobate in which he was created. To put their opinions more briefly and fully: the very objections which in your book On Admonition and Grace you took from the idea of your opponents and proposed to yourself, and the objections of Julian also which in your books against him you relate in this matter and which you answered fully, exactly these our good Christians greet with loud approval. When we show them the writings of Your Holiness which abound in countless unanswerable proofs from Holy Scripture, when we ourselves try, after the pattern of your tracts, to construct some new argument to counter them, they take cover for their obstinacy by appealing to the ancient teaching. The text of the Apostle Paul to the Romans, which you quote to prove that divine grace precedes the merits of the elect, they say was never understood by any of the churchmen in the sense in which you take it now. And when we ask them to explain it themselves according to the meaning given by the authors they prefer, they answer that they have found there nothing which satisfies them, and they ask us not to speak about things whose depth no one is able to fathom. Finally, in their obstinacy they go to such length as to assert that what we teach as being of faith is harmful to the spiritual good of those who come to hear of it; and even if it were true, we should not come out with it, because it does harm to preach what will not be well received, and there is no harm in not speaking of what no one can understand.

– Prosper of Aquitaine, Letter to Augustine, Section 3, translation by P. De Letter, S.J., Ph.D., S.T.D. in “Prosper of Aquitaine: Defense of St. Augustine,” pp. 39-41 (Newman Press, New York: 1963).

Notice, for instance, the allegations of universal prevenient grace, and the allegations that Augustinian theology will hurt evangelism. The answers from the real Turretin that Pastor White brings to bear are right on the money.

It’s also interesting to note that Prosper is relying on the authority of Scripture over against semi-Pelagian attempts to say that Augustine’s view was a theological novelty. We sometimes hear the same allegations about our views today – but ultimately we agree with Prosper that Scripture (not the forerunners of Augustine or even Augustine himself) is our rule of faith.


The Alternative to the Gospel of Justification by Faith Alone

January 13, 2010

“The Alternative to the Gospel of Justification by Faith Alone,” is the title of a recent post by Pastor Wes White. The answer, of course, is justification by faith plus works. Pastor White suggests that:

Now, when most people think of being justified by works, they think of someone staying up late at night saying prayers, giving up all their money, or watching scrupulously over every action to make sure they are accepted by God. But where are such people? Maybe there are a few here and there, but we don’t see many of them.

Pastor White goes on to suggest that the usual form of practical error with respect to justification takes on a different form: (read his post to find out).

Does God Punish Sin?

January 21, 2009

Wes White provides an excellent and thorough answer to the question, “Does God Punish Sin?” in this recent post (link). The answer, of course, is yes.

God punishes every sin. Either he punishes you, or he punishes Christ. Put your trust in Christ and He will bear the burden of your sins for you.


Wes White on the Sabbath

October 30, 2008

Pastor Wes White has, as usual, provided an excellent well-thought-out blog article, this time on the Sabbath (link). It helps to clear up a number of misconceptions regarding the Sabbath.


Wes White on the Regulative Principle of Worship

October 9, 2008

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Pastor Wes White’s blog post on the Regulative Principle of Worship (link). Obviously, Pastor White and I would disagree over some minor aspects presented in his article, but on the major points of the article, he hits the nail right on the head.

Pastor Wes White wrote:

Second, even if we only sang psalms, there would still be problems. You could still do a light, happy-clappy type worship just singing psalms. Indeed, many of the modern praise choruses are simply portions of psalms. Thus, I think that trying to use the RPW to solve everything is a dead end.

Indeed, that is so! RPW is the second commandment, but “happy-clappy type worship” that disrespects God is a violation not of the second commandment but of the third commandment. Just as it would be God-dishonoring to practice Exclusive Psalmody (EP) in a church that denied the Trinity (violation of the first commandment) or in a church that refused to meet weekly on the Lord’s Day (violation of the fourth commandment), so also it would be God-dishonoring to practice EP in a way that loses sight of the fact that worship is to be directed Godward, and to be suitably respectful to our great God and King.

Following the Second Commandment doesn’t get you off the hook with respect to the other three commandments of the first table!


Was Adam Offered Heavenly Life?

July 21, 2008

More specifically, the question is whether he was offered heavenly life before the fall. Pastor Wes White provides an illuminating discussion (link). Interestingly, this meshes well with another recent post of mine (Turretin cf. Goodwin). Naturally, Pastor White makes good use of Turretin in his explanation.


Wes White on Evangelism

May 17, 2008

Wes White has an excellent piece on Pauline evangelism (link), which emphasizes the importance of other avenues of evangelism than the weekly service(s).

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