Monday, June 2, 2014

Apostasy in Writing

Found this on a website of a home church which is using the study materials written by a former friend.
"[The sinner] is bought by Christ and is redeemed and saved at this point. This grace however, does not guarantee ultimate salvation. There is still a race to be run by grace through faith. Grace is the means by which the salvation which has been granted salvation might be sustained until the end of his life, for he who endures to the end will be he who is saved. This grace is that which causes the believer both to will and to do of God's good pleasure, resulting in the believer's justification, which will be reaffirmed again and again as the believer continues to exhibit an obedient faith...
 Should he fail in this endeavor by ongoing willful sin, or an ongoing departure from the exercise of faith and from the faith directed good works which God has ordained that he should walk in; or sustained slothfulness; or by any other means which would prevent him from finishing the set course laid our by God for him, he will fall from grace, being severed from Christ, having partaken of the grace of God in vain."

It is frightening how far from the truth one can fall. Pray God protect us all from this kind of apostasy.

The frightening thing is that this person was quoting John Owen approvingly elsewhere in his writing, but Owen himself wrote:

Q. In what doth the exercise of his priestly office for us chiefly consist?
A. In offering up himself an acceptable sacrifice on the cross, so satisfying the justice of God for our sins, removing his curse from our persons, and bringing us unto him. — Chap. xiii. 
That's right, John Owen believed that those whom God regenerates, he will not fail to save. This is the message of John 6, this is the message of the Bible and this is the message which believers must cling to.

I recommend the author read Owen on The Doctrine of the Saint's Perseverance freely available at Google Books.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

SBCToday - Calvinism - Pelagianism


This post is intended to address some comments by Doug Sayers on the sbctoday.com blog.  I'm posting this here because the owner of the sbctoday blog has an aversion to honest and robust debate from appearing on his blog. After posting several comments, having a couple of them approved, the blog owner went back and deleted them all. The author of the post then responded to one of them...  Needless to say, it seems like only one viewpoint is allowed at the sbctoday.com blog.

I also want to note that while I was a Baptist for many years, I have since left that position for one of paedobaptism, and have embraced Reformed theology as taught by the Continental Reformed position. That said, I believe that even in it's Credobaptist form, Covenant theology is fairly unified on several of the key issues that Doug Sayers brings up in his article. It is these I want to address.

Doug states that he is a former Calvinist. I'm always fascinated how those who claim to have once espoused a position and left it rarely get the details of their former position right, and seem unable to represent them without strawman argumentation. Doug is no exception. That said, I want to make it clear that I don't have any personal beef with Mr. Sayers, I don't even know him. I'm responding to the blog post.  I do have an issue with the owner of sbctoday.com, who deletes comments (apparently mine were not the only ones deleted) from those opposed to the position stated.

In his post, There's a Fire in Adam's HouseDoug Sayers attempts to suggest that there is a disconnect between how Calvinism views salvation and how it views the means.

Doug states:

How can salvation be “all of grace” and yet require a condition, which must be met by the sinner alone?
This is a very important, if not crucial question in understanding the biblical doctrines of salvation. It helps us to identify the differences between the biblical teaching of salvation by grace and the Calvinistic teaching of salvation by irresistible grace. The presence of any voluntary or independent human condition would suggest that salvation might be somehow “merited.” The problem, as most know, is that the word grace means “unmerited favor.” How you answer this second question will help determine whether you are a Calvinist.
Right here we start with our first problem.  Doug is going to agree that faith is a condition of salvation. Now knowing the SBC as I do, I'm quite sure that Doug doesn't believe that salvation is by works, or merited by human effort or action whatsoever. That said, the question he's posing is equally applicable to both Calvinists and Arminians. How they answer that question will in fact explain their underlying soteriological presuppositions.

If we agree that salvation is by grace alone, and grace is unmerited favor, then the requirement of faith in salvation cannot be contradictory to grace alone.  If faith is something man brings to the table of salvation out of his own ability or will, then salvation cannot be by grace alone.  If faith, however, is in fact a supernatural gift of God to those whom he has chosen out of the mass of rebellious sinners, then faith is gracious too and all of salvation can truly be said to be sola gratia.

The question therefore becomes, is faith a gracious gift of God, or something conjured up in the ability or will of man?  If faith is something that supposedly neutral man can conjure up, how is salvation by grace, and how is that not merit?

Doug continues:
I  have always felt some sympathy for kids who are told that they can’t do anything to be saved, but they are also told that they must repent of their sin and believe in Jesus, if they want to be saved. 
Doug has rightly identified a problem, but the problem is not with Calvinism, but with his understanding of the Gospel and how it saves sinners.  Doug seems to be acting on the presupposition that everyone is neutral, and equally able to make a rational decision about the facts of the Gospel.  But the Bible indicates otherwise. Being a former Calvinist, Doug should know that we believe in Total Depravity, that everyone comes into this world not neutral, but in a state of war with God.

Of this pre-conversion state, Paul the Apostle writes:
Romans 8:7-9
For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God,
for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.
Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit,
if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who
does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 
It's important to follow Paul's logic here. Paul is describing the "mind that is set on the flesh". That is, the same mindset that he speaks of elsewhere as being "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph 2:1-2). Of this mindset Paul says that  it "does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14). Paul is describing the unbeliever.

So of the person with this mindset Paul says the following:

  • They are hostile to God.
  • Do not submit to God's Law
  • Cannot submit to God's Law
  • Cannot please God.
  • The difference between a person in this mindset and a mind set on the Spirit is the indwelling Spirit of God
You cannot miss this point. The unbeliever, in his natural state, according to Paul, hates God and is unwilling and unable to submit to Him. How does a person who hates God and cannot submit to him come to believe in him?  Answer: they must be born again.

So this brings us back to Doug's conundrum: "kids who are told that they can’t do anything to be saved, but they are also told that they must repent of their sin and believe in Jesus, if they want to be saved."

What if, instead of viewing the Gospel as a thing that one must do, we view it as the message and the means that God has ordained by which people are saved.

What I mean is this: "the gospel... is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek... How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?" (Rom 1:16, 10:14)

The Gospel is the message and the means by which God saves. The Gospel is a supernatural message, used by the Holy Spirit to bring to life dead sinners and generate faith within them. Yes, the Gospel message includes the command to believe in it, yet, what God requires he provides, even faith.

So when a kid hears the Gospel preached to them, hopefully every week at church, every day at home and throughout their own study and life, they're not hearing a command to a neutral party to merely accept certain facts about Jesus, they're hearing the life-giving Word of God that raises dead sinners to life.  They, like Lazarus, are hearing Jesus say "Lazarus, come out!"  With that command comes the supernatural new life and ability to do so.  Thus, the faith commanded in the Gospel is that faith which God gives as part of bringing dead sinners to life anew in Christ.

This is what Paul was talking about when he said, " If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you."  Notice that connection back to Romans 8:9, that those who have the Spirit dwelling in them, are not God's enemies.

Doug continues:
Calvinists, and those influenced by them, often struggle with this question. Some Calvinistic teachers will scoff at the very notion that we each must meet a human condition in order to be forgiven.
I know of know Calvinist who denies that faith is a condition of salvation. Calvinism does not teach that the elect are saved apart from faith, or before they believe. A quote from Doug proving this contention might substantiate his claim, but let me provide the opposing evidence:

Caspar Olevian (1536-87). For this reason the distinction between law and Gospel is retained. The law does not promise freely, but under the condition that you keep it completely. And if someone should transgress it once, the law or legal covenant does not have the promise of the remission of sins. On the other hand, the Gospel promises freely the remission of sins and life, not if we keep the law, but for the sake of the Son of God, through faith (Ad Romanos Notae, 148; Geneva, 1579).

John Ball (1585-1640). The Covenant of Works, wherein God covenanted with man to give him eternal life upon condition of perfect obedience in his own person. The Covenant of Grace, which God made with man promising eternal life upon condition of believing.

Robert Rollock (c.1555-99). Whereas God offers the righteousness and life under condition of faith, yet he does not so much respect faith in us, which is also his own gift, as he does the object of faith, which is Christ, and his own free mercy in Christ, which must be apprehended by faith; for it is not so much our faith apprehending, as Christ himself, and God's mercy apprehended in him, that is the cause wherefore God performs the promise of his covenant unto us, to our justification and salvation (Select Works, 1.40).

Francis Turretin (1623-87). he federal promise is twofold: either concerning the end or the means, i.e., either concerning salvation or concerning faith and repentance (because each is the gift of God). (4) The covenant can be considered either in relation to its institution by God or in relation to its first application to the believer or in relation to its perfect consummation (Institutes of Elenctic Theology; 12.3.2)...  Third, if the covenant be viewed in relation to the first sanction in Christ, it has no previous condition, but rests upon the grace of God and the merit of Christ alone. But if it is considered in relation to its acceptance and application to the believer, it has faith as a condition (uniting man to Christ and so bringing him into the fellowship of the covenant). If, however, in relation to its consummation with faith (obedience and the desire of holiness), it has the relation of condition and means because without them no one shall see God (Institutes of Elenctic Theology; 12.3.5).

Charles Hodge (1797-1878). The Condition of the Covenant. The condition of the covenant of grace, so far as adults are concerned, is faith in Christ. That is, in order to partake of the benefits of this covenant we must receive the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God in whom and for whose sake its blessings are vouchsafed to the children of men... But in other cases, by condition we merely mean a sine qua non. A blessing may be promised on condition that it is asked for; or that there is a willingness to receive it. There is no merit in the asking or in the willingness, which is the ground of the gift. It remains a gratuitous favour; but it is, nevertheless, suspended upon the act of asking. It is in this last sense only that faith is the condition of the covenant of grace. There is no merit in believing. It is only the act of receiving a proffered favour. In either case the necessity is equally absolute. Without the work of Christ there would be no salvation; and without faith there is no salvation. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life. He that believeth not, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him (Systematic Theology).

So to explain: It is the testimony of historic Calvinism that salvation (the outcome of the Covenant of Grace) is dependent upon faith, as Hodge explains faith is a sine qua non. This condition however is a supernatural gift of God, as Turretin writes, that both faith and repentance are gifts from God and they come from God supernaturally using the means of the preaching of the Gospel to bring dead sinners to life.

Robert Rollock, first principal of the University of Edinburugh stated (quoted above) "God offers the righteousness and life under condition of faith, yet he does not so much respect faith in us, which is also his own gift, as he does the object of faith, which is Christ, and his own free mercy in Christ, which must be apprehended by faith".

This is historic Calvinism, and Doug should know this, being a former Calvinist.

Next Doug states an analogy:

Adam’s house is on fire and all of his descendants are to blame for starting the fire. They are all overcome by the fire; in fact, they have already died in the fire. God simply chooses some of Adam’s deceased family to be rescued and brought back to life. Jesus drags them from the inferno and leaves the rest to burn. End of story.
In this brand of Calvinism, it is not about having an opportunity to be saved. It is only about God’s choice of whom to save. This understanding is sometimes called “Hyper (or Extreme) Calvinism.” The chosen sinners played no essential role in their own salvation.
Let's rewrite this analogy to make it more Biblical.

Adam listened to his wife, who listened to the serpent and chose enmity with God. Adam's entire race is also therefore at war with God.  They were born at war with God and are willing participants in the war from before they can even make a fist. (Ps. 51:5, 58:3, Ecc 7:20, Job 14:1-4) They hate God and his law, they invent ways of sinning against it. (Rom 3:23,5:19, 8:7-9) God's decree against this mass of evil, rebellious sinners is clear, death. (Rom 1:32) But God, gracious and merciful as he is, sent his own Son to live among them and tell them about him. (John 3:16) They in turn killed God's Son, unknowingly providing a sin-offering according to God's plan. (Matt 21:33-42) God therefore graciously applies that sacrifice to some of the unworthy mass of sinners who hate him. (Eph 2:1-9)

Doug is correct that in Calvinism, it's not about having an opportunity to be saved. The Gospel is not an opportunity, it's not a time share, it is not a used car any one can get cheap.  The Gospel is the proclamation of Christ's life, death, burial and resurrection for sinners and it actually saves those who believe in it. And that's not an opportunity, it is a divinely instituted appointment, that no sinner wants, but desperately needs.

Everyone already has used their opportunity, they've all chosen sin over worshiping the one true God. If the Gospel were merely an opportunity, we'd all throw it back in God's face. We don't need an opportunity, we need mercy and grace from the declaration of guilt already against all of us.

Again, the key point to keep in mind here is that we're all, already condemned. We don't need an opportunity, we need a divine rescue.

As to Doug's claim that this is "hyper" (or to use Geisler's mythological nonsense word, "extreme") Calvinism, it flies in the face of the historical facts of Reformed beliefs for over 500 years. Doug is simply wrong here.

Doug continues:
Most Calvinists will also scoff at the notion of a conditional salvation in one sermon, but then in another sermon, they teach that salvation has a necessary human condition. Thus, they implore sinners to repent and trust Christ, but they really don’t like the idea of an independent condition, which must be met by the chosen sinner. 
I know of no confessional Calvinist who scoffs at the notion that faith is a condition of salvation. It would be nice, again, for Doug to support his assertion, but none is provided.  I think I've already provided ample evidence that the historic position of Reformed theologians is that salvation is by grace, through faith, and it is all a gift of God.

Again Doug attempts analogy:
Every person is trapped by the fire in Adam’s house, which they helped to start. These Calvinists also assume that everyone has already died in the fire. Jesus rushes in and commands everyone to cry out to Him if they want to be rescued. He promises that if they do, then He will take them to safety. However, no one answers because dead people can’t hear and answer the call. So God resuscitates the chosen souls in such a way that they can now cry out for help. 

Notice again that the supposed predicament for the human race is that they're "trapped by fire".  Let's again note that the Biblical language places the blame for human condition with the human's themselves. Sin is the condition and the curse, open rebellion against God.

We're not trapped by a fire, we've killed the home owner and set the place on fire ourselves in a drunken orgy.  The house has burned down around us and we're smoldering bones that if possible would shake our fist at God. Jesus comes and commands those dead, dry bones to come to life and they do... not of any will or desire of their own, but because they've been supernaturally given new life and desires.  The response of these formerly-dead bones is to cry out in faith and thankfulness.

Doug now offers a "personal confession":
Personal confession: When I was a Calvinist, I had more trouble fending off hyper-Calvinism than non-Calvinism. I really didn’t want to be a hyper-Calvinist, but I came to see that there wasn’t any real and substantive difference.
Historically hyper-Calvinism is a strange, heretical offshoot of Calvinist thought that unBibically denies that sinners are commanded to repent, and that evangelism is pointless.  One site rightly states that hyper-Calvinism is: "the belief that God saves the elect through His sovereign will with little or no use of the methods of bringing about salvation." For more information about this unBiblical viewpoint, one can read here.

As can be seen by the historic quotes I provided earlier, hyper-Calvinism is not traditional historic Calvinism, and if Doug had trouble keeping that straight, the problem is his own, not Calvinism's.

Doug's unBiblical analogy and emotionalism now drives the rest of his post:
A Calvinistic pastor teaches that those who are not chosen (the reprobate) will not receive the ability to have faith; therefore, they cannot meet the “condition” which is attached to salvation and they will be consumed by the fire in Adam’s house. They weren’t chosen for rescue. They won’t enjoy God forever. God never really wanted them to enjoy Him forever. They were created as “vessels of wrath” to be eternally destroyed. They would never have a genuine opportunity to be saved. If God had wanted them to trust Him, then He would have given them the ability to trust Him.
Let's again clarify from the Biblical and Calvinistic perspective:

A Calvinistic pastor has no idea who God has, out of all the rebellious, murderous sinners, God has graciously chosen to have mercy on.  A Calvinistic pastor knows that the Gospel is God's means of salvation for those who he has chosen, and thus, must preach the Gospel every week.

(Side note: The Calvinistic pastor's primary focus is his flock, by the way, not unbelievers. Unbelievers are to hear the Gospel from the flock that has heard it from their pastor.)

No one, at all, can meet the conditions of perfect righteousness required by God to save themselves. Everyone is already under God's wrath (Eph 2:1) and apart from believing the Gospel will get what they justly deserve.

God is not obligated to show mercy to anyone, but has graciously chosen some of the wrath deserving hell-bound to bestow mercy and grace upon.

Those who do not believe, who continue in their sin, who get the punishment they deserve for their willing sinfulness are certainly "vessels of wrath" (in perhaps his only quote of the Bible, Doug here mentions Romans 9:22), created, as Paul states that Pharaoh was, for God to show his glory through.  That is, that we who do believe in Christ, seeing with sadness the mass of mankind who go to their graves shaking their fist at God, will recognize how merciful and gracious God was toward us, who deserved the same punishment.

Consider what Doug is saying here.  It is somehow unfair for the Potter to do with the clay that he made whatever he wishes.  It is somehow unfair that God give some sinners the punishment they deserve while graciously saving others.  If God saves whomever he wishes, Doug claims it is God who is unfair. Notice here, Doug has put God in the dock, rather than the sinner.

Doug again mentions this "genuine opportunity" for salvation that he feels God owes everyone... but what of those who never heard the Gospel?  What of those who God never sent the Gospel to?   Was God powerless to send the Gospel to New Guinea or Madagascar? Was God's plan and purpose thwarted because the steam engine hadn't been invented?  All the native Americans who never heard the Gospel until the Pilgrims and Puritans brought it, was God wringing his hands because he couldn't save them?

In a comment on the blog I mentioned that in the Old Testament God only sent the Gospel to Abraham.  Not because Abraham was better than others, or more spiritually apt, but for His own purpose. God didn't send the Gospel to the Egyptians, or to the Phoenicians, the Cushites or any of the other people groups.  He sent it to one, undeserving pagan named Abram.  See, the God of the Bible does exactly what he plans. He gets whatever he wants and is Sovereign over every atom in the universe. (Isa 46:9-11)

Doug's story goes on:
A non-Calvinist pastor, on the other hand, insists that God’s offer of mercy is genuine for every sinner, since it is backed up by the death of Christ for everyone in the whole world. He teaches that God has given everyone the capacity to repent. In his system, everyone is trapped by the guilt of their own actual sin in Adam’s burning house. They didn’t start the fire, but they have thrown gasoline on it and cannot escape on their own. They cannot put the fire out, but they can actually cry out for help. If they do, then Jesus will drag them to safety. This pastor teaches that God has sovereignly decreed that the individual sinner will play a vital, meaningful, and co-operative role in his/her eternal destiny. 
So, to be clear, what Doug's non-Calvinist pastor is actually saying is this:

Jesus's death never actually saved anyone, it only made them save-able if they, of their own initiative, will, intelligence and ability recognize the truth of the Gospel and believe it.

That God has made salvation a golden-ring, that if you can grasp it with your own ability he, he'll give you salvation.

In this system rebel sinners are not worthy of the death they'll eventually receive, they're merely trapped by accident, one that God could not prevent.  They're all crying out for help, none of them want to die, but only some who are smarter, wiser, more spiritual, or in some way better than others are able to of their own free will grasp that golden ring and win the prize!

In this system this God is somehow bound by time, unable to truly save anyone but instead, requires these poor defenseless people to jump through hoops to be saved.

Doug now reiterates:
Again, the Calvinistic position is simple:
If God chose you for salvation, then you can’t resist choosing life. If He did not choose you for salvation, then you cannot resist choosing death.
 The Calvinistic position IS simple but that's not it:

If God chose you for salvation, you didn't deserve it and in fact you hated God and Christ until God graciously chose you and sent the Gospel to you.  You were dead in your trespasses and sins, deserving wrath just like everyone else.  But God, who is rich in mercy, even while you were still in rebellion and sin, rescued you by making you alive with Christ through the Gospel. It was therefore by grace you were saved, through the means of faith, which is all a gift of God, and not of your own works.

If God hasn't chosen you for salvation, then, you get the wrath you justly deserve as a sinner and a rebel against the most holy God.

Doug goes on:
In the Reformed system, it is not about having an “opportunity” to be saved. Either you will be saved by God or you will not. An opportunity suggests there would be a meaningful condition for salvation.
Doug is partially correct, Biblically speaking salvation is not about an opportunity, it is about a gracious God saving rebel sinners who justly deserve death.

But God does require the sinner saved by grace to believe in his Son, but this is a condition which God provides to the sinner. He not only gives them Christ's spotless robe of righteousness, but also gives them a persevering faith which clings to Christ alone for their salvation.

Doug concludes with:
The beauty and brilliance of the biblical gospel is that sinners must meet a condition – one that is impossible to be proud of. The nature of the law of faith assures that “boasting is excluded” (Rom 3:27).

Indeed, but in Doug's system why shouldn't one be proud?  Doug has provided no reasoning by which the believer cannot boast!  In fact, if it was I who chose God, given the number of people who do not believe in him, why shouldn't I boast?  There was something about me, maybe I was smarter, or heard a better presentation, or saw a better actor in the role of Jesus during a play, or perhaps I was more spiritual than others... but there was something about me by which I believed, whereas so many others do not.

Right?  What else could it be?  If God has given everyone equal ability to believe... the only deciding factor in who does and does not believe is within the individual.

Finally, after writing several replies to Doug's post, Doug admitted that he denies that Adam's guilt is applied to his offspring, thus denying Original Sin.  This of course means that Doug is a full Pelagian.  The fact that Doug also acknowledges that sinners play a vital role in their salvation also adds evidence to this.

Here's what Doug said:
I would agree that Adam’s sin has brought sin and death onto the entire race. We are born in sin and in need of a Savior. Although, you did not explicitly assert otherwise, I would disagree that the Bible teaches that everyone is born *guilty” of Adam’s sin. He opened the door that leads to hell but nobody was irresistibly pushed out the door into hell as a result of his sin.

 Theopedia defines Pelagianism as:"Pelagianism views humanity as basically good and morally unaffected by the Fall. It denies the imputation of Adam's sin."

Doug acknowledges that Adam's fall did something to Adam's posterity, but what exactly he doesn't clearly define. Here he attempts again:
It is biblically and rationally unsustainable that the guilt of Adam’s sin could be imputed to his posterity, which is what most Reformed creeds teach. We know that sin is not imputed where there is no law and where there is no law there is no transgression. (Rom 5:13;4:15) Therefore, by His own sovereign decision, God does not impute the guilt of sin via arbitrary decree or natural generation.... We all suffer the consequences of Adam’s sin but not the culpability.

So, to clarify, according to Doug, we are all "born in sin" (whatever that means)... but not guilty. We suffer, for some reason, because of Adam's sin, but we're not guilty of it. So God, for some unknown reason, has cursed us even though we bear no guilt!

Since God does not impute the guilt of our federal head Adam to us, how does He impute Christ's righteousness to us? See, if you deny that Adam's guilt is our guilt, you can never acknowledge that Christ's righteousness is ours by faith.

The Bible however states it like this, "through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men" and "through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners" (not potential sinners, btw.) Elsewhere Paul states: "In Adam, all die..."  See, the reason everyone dies is because of our guilt in Adam! If we're not guilty of Adam's sin, then we neither need a Savior when we're born, nor should we die.

Finally, consider the Apostle Paul, writing on these issues:

Romans 5:6-10
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved  by His life. 

(Historic Reformed quotes collated by Prof R Scott Clark of Westminster Seminary California.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ergun Caner Addresses the United States Marine Corps post 9/11



This is the video that Ergun Caner sued to have removed. This is the video in which Caner claims to have been trained in Jihad, born in Turkey, etc.  This is not doctored, edited or otherwise manipulated.

Ergun sued fellow Christians to keep this video off the Internet claiming copyrights to the video even though the video was obtained using the Freedom of Information Act and posted in Fair Use. A recent lawsuit brought by Caner was dismissed by the judge in the case.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Peter Lumpkins Keeps Pumping the Sandy Creek Myth.

Quoting Emir Caner, brother of the legally-challenged-and-found-wanting Ergun Caner, Peter Lumpkins states:

In the essay, Caner shows how Baptists in the south, both preceding and following the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention, were hardly as strongly Calvinistic--not to mention virtually singularly Calvinistic as many Founders-type Calvinists insist today...

Just take one look at the Sandy Creek Association's principles of faith:

Principles of Faith of the Sandy Creek Association (1816)
 
I. We believe that there is only one true and living God; the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, equal in essence, power and glory; and yet there are not three Gods but one God.
II. That Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the word of God, and only rule of faith and practice.

III. That Adam fell from his original state of purity, and that his sin is imputed to his posterity; that human nature is corrupt, and that man, of his own free will and ability, is impotent to regain the state in which he was primarily placed.

IV. We believe in election from eternity, effectual calling by the Holy Spirit of God, and justification in his sight only by the imputation of Christ's righteousness. And we believe that they who are thus elected, effectually called, and justified, will persevere through grace to the end, that none of them be lost.

V. We believe that there will be a resurrection from the dead, and a general or universal judgment, and that the happiness of the righteous and punishment of the wicked will be eternal.

VI. The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful persons, who have obtained fellowship with each other, and have given themselves up to the Lord and one another; having agreed to keep up a godly discipline, according to the rules of the Gospel.

VII. That Jesus Christ is the great head of the church, and that the government thereof is with the body.

VIII. That baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances of the Lord, and to be continued by his church until his second coming.
IX. That true believers are the only fit subjects of baptism;, and that immersion is the only mode.

X. That the church has no right to admit any but regular baptized church members to communion at the Lord's table.


That's a solid Calvinistic confession if ever one was written.

revival meetings and altar calls have been in our bloodstream for two hundred and fifty years

That may be, but that doesn't make them any more Biblical, nor historic.  You know, maybe you should just acknowledge that the Sandy Creek folks were Calvinistic as late as 1816 and that you're outside of the historic Baptist lineage.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

ERGUN CANER LOSES LAWSUIT AGAINST FELLOW SBC PASTOR AND BELIEVER

 FINAL JUDGMENT:...  All of Dr. Caner's claims of copyright infringement against Smathers are hereby DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE... All costs of court under 28 U.S.C. § 1920 are taxed against Plaintiff. (Ordered by Judge Terry R Means on 4/17/2014) (mdf) (Entered: 04/17/2014)

"Smathers claims that he posted he videos featuring Dr. Caner as a religiously based criticism of a public figure and, thus, his posting constituted fair use. The Court notes that Dr. Caner haS apparently conceded this issue since he has offered no argument in his response with respect to Smathers’s assertion of fair use. See Boswell v. Dep’t of Treasury, Office of Comptroller of Currency, 979 F. Supp. 458, 465 (N.D. Tex. 1997) (Solis, J.). Dr. Caner’s concession notwithstanding, the facts of this case support the application of fair use."

Not only did Caner lie, but he brought a lawsuit against a fellow SBC pastor and member. He attempted to cover up the truth of his past so as to continue to reap income from his lies. And this is a seminary president?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ergun Caner's Ever Changing Biography

2005 - Ergun Caner's website

Things to note: Claims to have debated Hindi, Muslim, Buddhist and Bah'ai scholars.
Claims to have converted in 1982 "after emigrating to this country".

2009 Liberty University - Ergun Caner Biography
Things to note: Rightly notes he was born in Sweden.
Incorrectly states he immigrated in 1979 (vs 1969)

Lutheran Baptism

Lutheran Baptism

This is meant to be a basic overview of the conservative understanding of Baptism from a Lutheran perspective.

When studying the Lutheran understanding of baptism one must keep in mind that Lutheranism did not have an early formalized doctrinal thesis such as Calvin’s Institutes, and that over time, several men besides Luther (Melancthon, Martin Chemnitz, John Gerhard, etc.) helped shaped early Lutheran doctrine. Thus, current Lutheran doctrine isn’t necessarily identical to that which is found in Luther’s voluminous writings.

Also, keep in mind that Lutheranism, like the Reformed denominations, has been affected by the enlightenment, post-modernism as well as other liberalizing movements.  The largest Lutheran denomination is the ELCA – which is very liberal, ordaining homosexuals and even including ‘herchurch’ within its ranks a pagan church offering a weekly ‘goddess rosary’ as well as other bizarre teachings.

The LCMS is the next largest Lutheran denomination in the US, and is generally conservative, much like the PCA for Presbyterians, but they do have some liberal groups in their midst. Other denominations include WELS, ELS as well as others, who part company with LCMS over missional issues.

Many modern Lutheran churches diverge from historic Lutheran doctrine, and their views vary widely. So in this lesson I’m sticking with what has been historically believed.

Historic Lutheran sacramental theology has often said by the Reformed to be a “middle way” between the Roman Catholic and Reformed views of the sacraments.  In all honesty, the Lutheran view is closer to the Reformed view, although generally missing (even rejecting) covenantal structure and attributing some superstitious views to the sacrament, once peeled away, they’re very much orthodox with some reservations.

Francis Pieper (1852 – 1931)– Lutheran scholar – in his book Christian Dogmatics states
“The difference between the Lutheran Church and the Reformed in the doctrine of Baptism is fully and adequately defined by saying that the former believes God’s Word regarding Baptism, the latter not” (vol. 3, p. 269). 


I recalled, however, that this kind of statement in regard to the sacraments goes back to the sixteenth-century debates between the Lutherans and the Reformed. In his debates with the Lutheran Joachim Westphal, John Calvin was almost driven to distraction by Westphal’s repeated claim that Jesus’ words “This is my body” allowed of no interpretation. One either believed them or one disbelieved them. In the historical context of the Lutheran-Reformed debates, then, Pieper’s statement is not terribly unusual. – Keith Matheson

Lutherans therefore can be very dogmatic and brash about their specific positions.
(Explain Lord’s Supper – in/with/under.)

1) Traditional Lutheran doctrine is rooted in their confessional statements found in the Book of Concord or Concordia. It contains 10 creedal documents including the three ecumenical creeds, the Augsburg Confession of 1530, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles of Martin Luther (an apologetic work against Roman Catholicism), The Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, the Small Catechism, the Large Catechism, the Epitome of the Formula of Concord,  and the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord.

Sacraments
2. Lutherans have three sacraments: Baptism, Lord’s Supper, and Absolution
(repentance and forgiveness, usually done corporately during the service, much like we have. But some have visible confession/absolution.) They believe sacraments are “rites that have the command of God, and to which the promise of grace has been added.”

3. The central theme of the Lutheran understanding of the sacraments is that they are “the word made visible”.
Philipp Melanchthon wrote, in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession  - "Surely our hearts ought to be certain that when we are baptized, when we eat the body of the Lord, and when we are absolved, God truly forgives us on account of Christ. And God moves our hearts through the word and the rite at the same time so that they believe and receive faith just as Paul says [Romans 10:17], 'So faith comes from what is heard.' For just as the Word enters through the ear in order to strike the heart, so also the rite enters through the eye in order to move the heart. The word and the rite have the same effect. Augustine put it well when he said that the sacrament is a "visible word" because the rite is received by the eyes and is, as it were, a picture of the Word, signifying the same thing as the Word. Therefore both have the same effect."

Thus baptism can have the same effect as the preached word to an unregenerate sinner (specifically an infant).  Thus they hold to a sort of baptismal regeneration, but not as the Roman Catholics do.  Lutherans specifically reject the ex opere operato view of the sacraments, noting that it is the Spirit who, through the sacrament, does the work.

Thus, the combination of the rite and God’s word (read as his solemn promise or vow) is what Lutheran’s believe is what the Spirit uses in the sacraments. Similar to the way we believe that God uses preaching to form faith in a person by the Spirit.

Again the Apology states:  Here we condemn the whole crowd of scholastic doctors, who teach that the Sacraments confer grace ex opere operato, without a good disposition on the part of the one using them, provided he do not place a hindrance in the way. This is absolutely a Jewish opinion, to hold that we are justified by a ceremony, without a good disposition of the heart, i.e., without faith.

Reading Luther on the sacraments can be challenging because as one might expect, coming out of Roman Catholicism, one’s views change over time. Some of Luther’s works sound downright ‘baptist’ in their theology – elsewhere he states:

A person can believe although he is not baptized; for Baptism is no more than an external sign to remind us of the divine promise… or where the Gospel is there Baptism also is and everything a Christian needs, because damnation follows upon no sin except unbelief alone. This is also the reason why the Lord says: "He that believeth not shall be damned." He does not say: He that is not baptized; but is silent about Baptism. For Baptism is useless without faith. It is like a letter to which seals are attached but in which nothing has been written. Therefore he who has the signs (which we call Sacraments) and not faith has seals only, seals attached to a letter without any writing.”

Yet 4. as Lutheranism began to encounter Anabaptist views it seemed to cling tighter to a sacramental system.

Augsburg Confession IV : [Lutheran churches]-  “Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered the grace of God, and that children are to be baptized who, being offered to God through Baptism are received into God's grace.”

Small Catechism:  What is Baptism?  Baptism is not simple water only, but it is the water comprehended in God's command and connected with God's Word.

It works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.

It is not the water indeed that does them, but the word of God which is in and with the water, and faith, which trusts such word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is simple water and no baptism. But with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Ghost.

Through baptism, they say, “God actually washes away our sins.” What makes baptism different than a bath is that “water is combined with God’s word… together make a Christian baptism.”
“Baptism is not just plain water, but it is the water included in God’s command and combined with a God’s word”, the placement of God’s promise and His name upon the person.

Since Infants are sinful baptism takes away sin and regenerates – by the power of the Spirit.
The Small Catechism states:

What does such baptizing with water signify?--
Answer.
It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

So the Lutherans view baptism much like we view the preaching of the word. God uses the work of the person to graciously regenerate the individual and/or bring them to faith.  Luther did not tie the work of the Spirit necessarily to the moment of administration, but rather the rite was a visible promise of the Gospel which through the hearing of the Word might bring about regeneration by the Spirit then, or later in life.

5. Lutheran baptismal regeneration is rooted in the Spirit’s work rather than the water or the work of a priest, and acknowledges a distinction between the act and the time the Spirit makes it effectual.

Fides infantium -  Lutherans hold the view that in baptism, God can graciously grant the baptized infant faith through which they are saved. They don’t believe it is necessary to explain this rationally and argue that Calvinists improperly attempt to rationalize the Bible.  

Thus 6. Lutherans believe that in baptism an infant is regenerated by the Word preached and the “word made visible” and that infants are given the gift of faith

This differs from the Roman view as well as the Pelagian Anabaptist (Church of Christ) view by neither allowing the water itself to be the sole instrument, nor the work of the human being in being baptized as that which regenerates. 

Luther therefore recognizes that because of original sin, an adult is no different than an infant in regard to their inability to believe. Thus he viewed that just as God gave faith through the preaching and hearing of the Word, God could (and did) produce faith in an infant just as easily, through the application of the “Word made visible” and the preaching of the Gospel.

Arguing from circumcision (though not necessarily picking up the covenant nature thereof) as well as the examples of John the Baptist leaping in Elizabeth’s womb, Luther expressed the idea that infants could be granted the gift of faith, prior to being able to elucidate that belief.

If [inclusion in the kingdom, justification] was brought about with the Jews in the Old Testament through the medium of circumcision, why would God not do the same thing with the Gentiles through the medium of the new covenant (novo pacto) of baptism? The command pertains to all (praeceptum universale est):"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them ... "Hence whereas circumcision was commanded only to the descendants of Abraham, baptism is commanded to all the nations, with the promise of salvation if they believe."

The nature of this faith, what it consisted of, was confessed to be a mystery.  While many modern Lutherans hold to this, and quote Luther positively in regards to this, later Lutherans (Melanchthon, Chemnitz, Gerhard etc) held diverse views.  Chemnitz, for example, taught that it was on the basis of the parent’s faith (called fides aliena) that an infant could be baptized and saved.

Chemnitz later wrote: "Through the washing of water in the Word there is no doubt that Christ works and is efficacious by His Spirit in the infants who are baptized, so that they may receive the kingdom of God, even though we do not understand how this takes place.”

Lutherans claim is that baptism is “God’s work”, not a work of man. It’s God’s Word, God’s promise, God’s washing, etc.

"To be baptized in God’s name is to be baptized not by men, but by God Himself. Therefore, although it is performed by human hands, it is still truly God’s own work. From this fact everyone may readily conclude that Baptism is a far higher work than any work performed by a man or a saint. For what work can we do that is greater than God’s work?" – Larger Catechism

Thus there’s no sense of Pelagianism (that man’s efforts save) in the Lutheran view, rather 7. Lutherans  believe that God works through the sacrament to save graciously just as He uses the Word to bring about faith.
Liturgy

The baptismal liturgy of Lutheran churches resembles the Roman rite in many ways.  The Lutheran baptismal is usually 8-sided, representing the 8th day on which an infant was circumcised, pointing to the Lord’s Day being the 8th day, the new Sabbath.


The baptismal font is normally at the entrance to the worship area, rather than the front, representing that the entry into the church is through baptism.

Older Lutheran liturgy (occasionally used in some churches) includes an exorcism where the pastor makes the sign of the cross on the infant and says “Depart, evil spirit! Make way for the Holy Spirit.”

                The pastor stands at the font and the family brings the child forward
                He questions them regarding their responsibilities and they respond “With God’s help, we do.”
The pastor address the congregation, asking for their prayers for the child and family, then the profess their faith through a recitation of the Apostle’s Creed.
The pastor prays:
“Holy God, mighty Lord, gracious Father: We give you thanks, for in the beginning your Spirit moved over the waters and you created heaven and earth. By the gift of water you nourish and sustain us and all living things.
By the waters of the flood you condemned the wicked and saved those whom you had chosen, Noah and his family. You led Israel by the pillar of cloud and fire through the sea, out of slavery into the freedom of the promised land. In the waters of the Jordan your Son was baptized by John and anointed with the Spirit. By the baptism of his own death and resurrection your beloved Son has set us free from the bondage to sin and death, and has opened the way to the joy and freedom of everlasting life. He made water a sign of the kingdom and of cleansing and rebirth. In obedience to his command, we make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Pour out your Holy Spirit, so that those who are here baptized may be given new life. Wash away the sin of all those who are cleansed by this water and bring them forth as inheritors of your glorious kingdom.
To you be given praise and honor and worship through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and forever.”
                Water is poured over the child’s head three times (tripartite infusion)
                Candle is lit and given to the parents  - “Let your light shine before others…”
                Child is taken up through the center of the church.

The Lutheran churches have some individual leeway as to how this goes exactly.

Acceptance
8. Reformed churches recognize Lutheran baptisms as valid and accept those baptized in Lutheran churches without requiring rebaptism.


Final thoughts
Keep in mind that 9. though Lutheranism has similar categories and preaches the same gospel as Reformed theology, they do not agree with us completely. Lutherans are not Calvinists… but they’re not Arminians or Roman Catholics either. 
Their view of the sacraments doesn’t take into account the covenantal nature of the signs and seals, thus they have some superstitious views about the sacraments. In the supper, for example, they believe that the body and blood of Christ are “in, with and under” the bread and wine, but have no actual Biblical basis for arguing this way, apart from “well Jesus said ‘this IS my body’.”  When pressed they generally retreat to the idea that “it is a mystery” and warn that we shouldn’t ponder into such things. 

While Lutherans agree with us on original sin, and unconditional election, 10. Lutherans believe in universal “objective” justification (Christ died for all, but it must be made subjectively yours by faith). They also believe that Christians (that is, those baptized into Christ) can fall away.  That said, they do acknowledge election and reprobation, however they claim it is a mystery and seem intent on not delving into the matter, even taking generally Arminian views of Romans 9 etc.