Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Question: Application of judgments of the early church councils

This is something I have been thinking about recently, and I would like some help from my readers. The question is:

The various early church councils, especially the ecumenical ones, took a stand on various positions, contra Arianism, Pelagianism etc. On top of that, they pronounce anathema on adherents of the various heresies. Now, since their position is biblical, and they were written and signed by the elders, bishops, pastors etc. of the early church to be made binding on all Christians, to what extent are their judgments authoritative for us now?

What I mean by this questions is this: As Christians, are we to follow the judgments of these councils, since their position is bilbical (as opposed to something like the Council of Trent which is unbiblical)? Since these early church leaders unaminously pass judgment on all who follow these heresies, are we to follow their lead and anathemize all who follow those same heresies, i.e. Arianism, Sabellianism, Gnosticism, Pelagianism, monothelitism, monophysitism etc.? I mean, after all, these judgments were pronounced by elders, pastors, and bishops, as an expression of the universal and visible Church of Christ at a certain period in history! As an application, are we at liberty to anathemize T. D. Jakes unless he repents of his false Gospel?

Do think about this, tell me your answer, and why you think your position is correct according to the Scriptures.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Statement regarding anti-Catholicism: How it ought to be written

Someone has feedbacked to me regarding this post of mine, suggesting that I did not differentiate from anti-Catholicism in the religious aspect (a polemical expression from the mouths of Catholic apologists which mean nothing), with anti-Catholicism in the sociological aspect, which the document I am critiquing is standing against. Note that I am definitely against discriminating against Catholics sociologically, however, this is not what the document is saying only. To stand against discimination of Catholics ≠ also stating that they are brother and sisters in Christ, which they are not, and which this document also do. Just for those who may not get it, I am hereby rephrasing this document to show that it is possible to stand against anti-Catholic sociological discrimination while never elevating them to brethren in the Lord, with the changed portions in red.


As Protestant Christians and as Americans, we condemn the grotesque anti-Catholic bigotry that is now on display as a result of the Supreme Court's recent decision upholding the constitutionality of the federal law prohibiting partial-birth abortion.

We denounce as particularly odious a cartoon published by the Philadelphia Inquirer depicting the five justices who formed the majority in the case wearing Catholic bishops' mitres. Scarcely less offensive were the comments of law professor, and former University of Chicago Law School Dean, Geoff Stone identifying the Catholic religious affiliation of the justices forming the majority and accusing these distinguished and honorable jurists of imposing their religion rather than faithfully interpreting the Constitution.

We believe it is our particular duty to condemn the bigotry we are now witnessing in view of the history of anti-Catholicism in our nation. It is a stain on the Protestant Christian conscience that at one time many of our people accepted the vile teachings of Paul Blanshard in his book American Freedom and Catholic Power, and supported the anti-Catholic agenda of the group founded by Blanshard and others that now styles itself "Americans United for Separation of Church and State" (formerly known as Protestants and other Americans united for Separation of Church and State).

Just as Pope John Paul II acknowledged past injustices committed by Catholics, or committed in the name of Catholicism, against Protestants, Jews, and others and pledged to work against any revival of these injustices, we acknowledge past Protestant prejudices against Catholics and pledge to fight against the anti-Catholic bigotry we are now witnessing. Our Catholic brothers and sisters friends will not have to wait to hear our voices forcefully raised against the bigotry now directed against them.

Because evil begets evil, we are not surprised that bigotry would emerge among those who have placed themselves in the service of the moral abomination known as partial-birth abortion. For our part, we praise any judge, statesman, or citizen—irrespective of religious affiliation—who steps forward to tell the truth about the injustice of this horrific practice, or to expose the lie that baby-killing is somehow protected by our Constitution.

We call on our fellow Protestant Christians of every denomination — including those denominations that do not share our view that the life of the child in the womb must be honored and protected by law — to join with us in condemning the new anti-Catholicism that has, in the aftermath of the partial-birth abortion decision, reared its ugly head. We hope that no Protestant Christian will bring shame on himself or herself and on the great tradition of Reformed Christianity by participating in this appalling bigotry or remaining mute in the face of it.

We also call on groups that present themselves as enemies of prejudice, including "Americans United for Separation of Church and State," to join with us in condemning the Philadelphia Inquirer cartoon and other manifestations of anti-Catholic bigotry. This is a time of testing for them. Are they selective opponents of prejudice? Do they regard anti-Catholicism as an acceptable form of bigotry? Are they content to see Catholics treated in ways that they would be the first to condemn if the victims were members of other religious traditions or minorities? By responding or failing to respond to our plea to them to join us in condemning the injustice being suffered by our Catholic fellow citizens, we will soon know whether their claim to oppose prejudice and bigotry is an honest one or mere hypocrisy.

Oh, and definitely Jim Tonkowich's statement is definitely VERY ecumenical. Just to alter it in order to render it biblical would alter perhaps half of his statements, so nevermind even trying.

Letter to NUS CCC

This is a letter I have posted to the Campus Crusade community in NUS (National University of Singapore) Science region. I am sharing this openly in the hope of encouraging the brethren.


Dear beloved brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:7b)

I am sharing this with you as an expression of my gratitude to all of you and as a service rendered unto our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is my hope that God will use this to encourage you and minister unto you.

I am graduating from NUS CCC this semester, and definitely I have mixed feelings. I joined Campus Crusade when I was in year one four years ago, and definitely I was much different then than I am now. Four years have come and gone, and many things I have endured, seen and experienced.

I would like to first of all thank the ministry and all of you for the love and kindness shown to me over these 4 years, and not to me only, but to many others. This was so especially during the purpose-driven crisis in my life (year 2-3), when I was shattered and hurt deeply emotionally by those whom I have placed my trust in, causing me to sink into systemic depression. I would like to thank all of you, especially those whom I have confided to in some extent or another, for the counsel and support you have given. Though I do know that some may not agree with me and even may think evil of me, and none could sympathize with me, yet you do not brush me aside as many others do, or just sprout forth useless, cheap platitudes which show the insincerity of the ‘counselor’. (Believe me when I say that I can discern whether you are sincere or not!)

During these four years, amidst much trials and testing, God has molded me and use various situations like the purpose driven crisis to break and purify me that I may grow in Him. I am forever grateful to NUS CCC for the love and support you have given me during this period of my life, and I would exhort all of you to continue to do the same to each other, and to the new freshmen who will join us, especially to the household of faith (Gal. 6:10).

Even as I graduate also, I would like to exhort each of you to godly living in Christ Jesus. In a world growing increasingly more and more wicked with each passing movement, with a widespread apostasy in the making, let us continue to shine forth for Christ and strive to win others for our Lord. As someone who has been called by the Lord as a watchman, I would like to warn all of you of the incoming tide of heresy encroaching into the churches under the guise of ‘tolerance’. I am sure many of you know that our culture is becoming enamored of the anti-Christian philosophy known as postmodernism, where absolute truth is denied. However, there is another postmodern ‘Christianity’ that Satan has synthesized for consumption in the churches, and of this I fear for all of you. It is so much easier to oppose postmodernism when its proponents are outside of the church blaspheming Christ with every breath they take, but what would you do with one who smiles and claims to belong to Christ, yet denying Him by constantly casting doubt on the Word of God? When such ‘angels of light’ appear (2 Cor. 11:14), will you give them an audience? The American churches are starting to self-destruct already due to the injection of this toxin into it as their shepherds sleep, and Singapore would follow them if we are not careful. Do we care enough about God and His truth to fight these heretics; and their new spirituality, which is just as much Christianity as salt is cheese? Take note of these ‘teachers’ and avoid them like the plague. The new movement is calling itself the ‘Emerging Church movement’ and is marked by logically nonsensical statements like “We can never know for sure whether what we think concerning the Scriptures is absolutely true”, yet they are dogmatically certain that this statement of theirs is absolutely true. Consider the implications of such theological postmodernism on steroids; you can never be sure that Christ died for you; maybe that’s not what the Bible verse was meant to mean. In fact, it is a well-documented fact that the most prominent ‘pastor’ in this movement thinks that people can go to heaven even if they do not believe in Jesus Christ (Why do evangelism, may I ask?), as written in his books A Generous Orthodoxy and The Secret Message of Jesus. (And we should demand to know from our Christian bookstores why do they sell such trash!). For more information about this movement, do check out Pastor John F. MacArthur’s new book The Truth Wars.

I hope that I have not lost any of you so far, but the fact of the matters is that we ARE fighting a spiritual war; and that on all fronts. While we are out trying to evangelize others, to share with them the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ, we better make sure that we still have a Good News to proclaim! While we want to disciple others, we better make sure that we still have a Christianity to disciple them to! Going against the tide may not be pleasant, but I would like to ask of you how much do we actually love our Lord? Do we love Him enough to be persecuted for His sake? Or do we just pay lip service and only love Him in our songs but not our actions? The culling process has already begun in the Western churches; to separate the wheat and the chaff. Will we prove ourselves faithful, even when the world and nominal ‘Christianity’ turns against us? Are we willing to pay the price where it hurts the most? Remember that Jesus Himself warns us that nobody who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God (Lk. 9:62), and that if your love for Christ does not make your love for your own parents seem like hate (Lk. 14:26), you CANNOT be Christ’s disciple.

And this brings us to the last point: the Christian life is impossible to live! It was never meant to be lived … on your own strength alone. Even as you continue serving our Lord, it is imperative that you continue to be filled with the Holy Spirit, as apart from Christ, no one can do anything (Jn. 15:5)! I sincerely pray to our Lord for all of you that you will always remain surrendered to Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit, knowing that apart from Him, you can do no good work! In fact, your attitude should be of one who knows that you cannot live without the Holy Spirit for even one second, and despair should that ever occur.

So therefore, my brethren dearly beloved in the Lord, continue to love and care for each other, of which I am indebted to all of you for your kind and loving support. Do take note of and avoid the postmodern ‘christianity’ coming towards us, as an expression of your love for Christ our Lord. Last of all, continue to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and earnestly desire Him to the extant that you cannot live without Him in your life. It is my sincere hope that NUS Campus Crusade may continue to shine forth for Him who has called us out of darkness into His glorious light, and do the work our Lord has given to her in reaching out to the lost who do not know Christ and building believers up in the Truth. I implore you on Christ’s behalf: Do not let your light go out by succumbing to the world, or to heretics. Stand firm and contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3), saving others by snatching them from the fire; to others showing mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh (Jude 1:23)

Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling, to the only wise God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Him be all glory now and forevermore, worlds without end. Amen!

Pro Rege, Soli Deo Gloria (For the King; For the glory of God alone),
Daniel Chew.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Benny Hinn removing evidence (via legal force)

Seems that word-faith heretic Benny Hinn has used legal means to remove damning evidence from the web regarding his scam ministry. Oh well, at least one video is still present and could not be removed, here. See it to expose that charlatan while you still can.

[HT: Christian Research Net]

Reversing the Reformation....

Just when we thought the ECT accords were bad enough, here comes another piece of trash. No, you anti-Protestants, Catholics were and are never brothers and sisters in Christ! They are no different from the Mormons down the road, and would be in eternal perdition unless they receive Christ as their personal Lord and Savior and get out of the RC communion. And any born-again Christians who remain in the RC communion is like a Christian who insists on worshipping God in a Wicccan ritual, just as detestable and abominable. To these people, repent of your sins against the Lord Almighty, or be prepared to face His wrath for your compromise.

[HT: Christian Research Net]

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Article: The handwriting on the wall

Here is a good article on Dan. 5 on the incident of God's handwriting on the wall which passes judgment on King Belshazzar of the Babylonian Empire. I agree with Mike in his application of the passage to post-evangelicalism today. The handwriting is already on the wall for these apostate ministers, and terrible will be the day of God's wrath against them, unless they repent.

The doctrine of separation (part 2)

[continued from here]

The doctrine of second-degree seperation states that we are to seperate from believers who compromise and are in a state of disobedience before God. It is the most controversial aspect of the doctrine of seperation since it calls for believers to seperate from other believers who compromise with the world

Now, since these errant believers are not immoral, nor do they hold on to serious doctrinal error, such seperation seemed strange and even sinful. After all, we as the body of Christ ought to be united, since Jesus did prayed for unity among believers, and that this unity is a testimony to the world that they may believe that Jesus is of God (Jn. 17:21). However, unity is not an absolute good, since unity with the world is an anathema before God. We are told in Rom. 12:18 to live peacefully with all, so far as it depends on us; or in other words, as much as we are able to. Unity is good, but unity is not something that we should work for, but something which we are to work towards. Put simply, unity is found in Christ, and we must be united to Christ, THEN united with each other, not the other way around.

The question is to be asked as to the rationale behind second-degree seperation from compromisers of the faith. The rationale behind second-degree seperation is the same behind that of first degree seperation — holiness. Second degree seperation is done because of holiness. As much as we should want unity within the body of Christ, unity is not to be purchased by compromising our obedience to God in holiness. When we collaborate with unbelievers in ministry, our witness for God is compromised, and that's why it is wrong to do so. Similarly, when we collaborate with compromisers in ministry, instead of reproving them, we are sharing in their sins. Our witness for God is sullied, as we are then associated with the heretics they work with. Furthermore, by not rebuking them for their sins, we actually hate them rather than love these compromisers (Prov. 27:5-6).

Now, there are a few concerns with regards to this doctrine. The first is the example of the present-day group of Fundamentalists, who have embraced the doctrine of seperation with an unnatural zeal, to the extant of distortion into seperatism. What, then is the difference between seperation and seperatism? Separatism is the promotion of the doctrine of seperation to the extant that we are to cut ourselves off and isolate ourselves off from any taint of evil and/or compromise. In other words, for the separatist, the principle stated in Jn. 17: 11-16 should read "Be not of this world nor in this world" instead of "Be not of this world though in the world". Yes, to a certain extent, we should 'isolate' ourselves from the world (Jude 1:20-23), but such isolation is only with regards to holiness, not that we are to 'let the world go to hell'. What is the difference, then? We are to be holy in the sense that we do not compromise our own walk with God nor our witness before God, but we should be actively reaching out to others for God (Mt. 28:18-20; Jude 1:22-23), and the latter makes the difference between the two. Another thing distinctive of seperatism is the fact that the doctrine of unity is neglected. Unity is important, and we are told to be united as much as we can (Jn. 17:21 ; Rom. 12:18). The working principle for all Christians is that we should be as united as much as it is possible to be so; not a unity at all costs, but we should desire unity if possible without compromise. Somehow, seperatism neglects this and in fact may even promote schism, instead of asking us to preserve the unity of the church where possible.

The second legimitate concern is with regards to its implementation. If second-degree seperation is practised, then wouldn't this cascade into third-degree, fourth-degree, or higher degree seperation, and if such, there would be no end and then wouldn't we have to seperate ourselves from almost all Christians? This question, however, betrays a misunderstanding of the doctrine of seperation in its implementation, which would be addressed here.

Remember earlier that the doctrine of second-degree seperation is due to a need for holiness and the need for an unsullied witness before God and the world. Therefore, conversely, if something does not cause one to sully his/her witness for Christ, then there is no need to seperate from the other person. How this works out is that we may need not separate from compromising believers in every situation, only in a situation whereby the compromise is made. For example, if a person compromise in the area of working with heretics in i.e. preaching ministry, then we should seperate from the person in all forms of public ministry. However, this does not preclude that we could not meet up privately and we should definitely urge the person to repent of his/her behavior. If a person compromise in the area of collaborating with an organisation which allows heretics in, in prayer events like the GDOP (Global Day of Prayer), then we should seperate from the event itself, as joining it would link our witness with the global GDOP event and the compromise that is associated with it. However, that does not mean that we seperate from them in other forms of ministry which does not involve the GDOP.

In all these things, it must be noted that our primary motive must be the glory of God in our witness for Him. This is what second degree seperation is about, not a seperation for seperation's sake but for the glory and honor of our Lord Jesus Christ. Note also that all these is related to compromising leaders, since they are the ones who are publicly related to the act of compromise. For ordinary followers, since they are not publicly related to the act of compromise, we should not separate from them as there is no need to. If they are in error, following the stand of their errant leaders, we should all the more desire that they also turn away and reject such compromise as a blemish on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and thus teach and correct their errant ways, as obedience to Christ our Lord (Mt. 28:20; 2 Tim. 2:24-26), as an act of love for our brethren (Prov. 27:5-6), and all for the glory of God as His bride is edified and build up (Eph. 4:12-16)

Therefore, the question of third of higher degree seperation is a red herring which misses the entire focus of the doctrine of seperation. We should not focus on how many degrees of seperation is correct, but whether by being part of the event or by working together with a compromiser in this particular ministry, that our witness for Christ would be sullied. If so, we should seperate; otherwise, we should not. When we embrace such a principle, the name of Christ would be exalted through our actions, and our testmony would not be dragged through the mud by deluded ministers who have an unbiblical view of unity and work for it at all costs.

The doctrine of separation (part 1)

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

"I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Therefore, go out from their midst, and be seperate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you,

and I will be father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty."

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. (2 Cor. 6:14 - 7:1)

The doctrine of seperation does not have a very illustrious past. It has been abused by fundamentalists and ignored by neo-Evangelicals. In this pertinent times in the last days, it is imperative that we recover a proper biblical perspective of seperation, and implement it. Between the seperatism of persent-day Fundamentalism and the ecumenism of Neo-evangelicalism, the cause of Christ and the Gospel has suffered tremendously. If we are to glorify God in our dealings with others (both believers and unbelievers), we must come to know and embrace the biblical doctrine of seperation.

So, what is the doctrine of seperation? The doctrine of seperation is basically the doctrine that tells us how we are to behave when relating to unbelievers and compromising believers, and seperate from them if the need arises. For this doctrine, let us first look at the principle text of 2 Cor. 6:14 - 7:1.

The first thing that we are to establish from this text is that the entire doctrine of seperation is based on a desire of holiness in the fear of God (7:1). It is because God is holy that the doctrine of seperation should be taken seriously and implemented. Closely linked to this is of course the fear of God. Only a person who fears God will obey Him when He commands us to "Be holy, as I am holy" (1 Peter 1:16). Consequently, non-implementation of this doctrine shows a lack of the fear of God in the lives of the individuals and churches who do not so implement this doctrine.

Now, this passage definitely does apply to holy living. In 6: 14b-15a, we are told that light and darkness should not mix, nor Christ and Belial (or Satan). Throughout the passage, everything which is mentioned is definitely consistent with the notion of holy living, and we ARE to live lives holy and seperate from the world for God. However, is that all there is to this passage, as neo-Evangelicals would have us believe?

In 6:14a and 15b, we are told that we believers are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. An obvious application would be in marriage. However, it goes beyond that to the area of ministry also. The words 'partnership' and 'yoked' suggest coorperation in working towards a common goal. And the terms 'temple of God' and 'idols' in verse 16 shows even further that we believers are NOT to be involved with unbelievers in any form of Christian ministry. This is further seen also in 2 Jn. 10-11 whereby we are not to allow non-Christians into our homes to teach or instruct us. Primary seperation from heretics and blasphemers is therefore demanded of all Christians, and is the first part of the doctrine of seperation. For far too many post-evangelicals, this doctrine has even been neglected, and that's why people have no problem with working with i.e. anti-Trinitarian heretics such as the Saballian 'Bishop' T.D. Jakes.

The epitome of the outworking of primary or first-degree seperation is in the example of national Israel during the OT times. Throughout the OT, Israel was to be seperate from the other nations in her national identity, her ethinicity, her religion (e.g. Deut. 7:1-5, Ez. 9), and her customs and practices (whole book of Lev.). Of course, such seperateness was necessary for the preservation of the purity of the faith until the first advent of Christ and the establishment of the Church, and the preservation of the bloodline of Jesus to be within that of the covenantal family. With regards to the issue of seperation, however, there are lessons that could be learned from Israel's example. We as the Church, spiritual Israel, are similarly a people who are set apart by God for Him (1 Peter 2:9-10). Similar to OT Israel, we are to seperate from unbelievers in order to preserve our distinct identity from the world. Between us and unbelievers, our beliefs are different, there should be no intermarriage between us and them (unless the person is converted after marriage — 1 Cor. 7:10-16), and our practices and customs are different from the world. Similar to Israel, we are to seperate from heretics and blasphemers also, as how the prophets seperated from the false prophets (i.e. of Baal).

First-degree seperation also involved seperation from those who are disobedient towards God in situations such as belivers in a serious state of sin, or even in embrace of serious doctrinal error.

At least some neo-evangelicals do practice seperation from unrepentant sinners, following the example of the Corinthian church in 1 Cor. 5:1-13 to purge the evil within her by excercising church discipline against the unrepentant immoral sinner. However, for the more serious crime of serious doctrinal error, churches tend to be more 'forgiving'. This, however, should not be the case, as doctrinal error is actually more serious than moral error, since doctrinal errors, especially serious ones, damn the soul and whoever believes it (Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Thess 2:11-12; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 18-22; 1 Jn. 2:4). Of course, moral corruption could be evidence of an unregenerate heart and thus the sinner is damned, but the act itself is not damning per se. Furthermore, compared with moral corruption, spiritual corruption is less easily identifiable (our conscience warns us against immorality — Rom. 2:15), and therefore we should be sterner against those who are in serious doctrinal error, especially if they are in a position of leadership within the body of Christ.

The doctrine of first-degree seperation having thus been established, we shall now look at the more controversial one — the doctrine of second-degree seperation.

[to be continued]

Sermon: The Gospel of Accomodation

Here is an excellent sermon by Rev. David Wilkerson entitled The Gospel of Accomodation, and here is a video that applies it legitimately to the seeker-sensitive, purpose-driven movement.

Nice video...

Poor Rick! aLittleLeaven.com has came out with a special video calling on Rick Warren to discipline Robert Murdoch, as Rick Warren has proclaimed himself to be Murdoch's pastor, over Murdoch's promotion of pornography in his TV channels, and his publishing of the Satanic Bible.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Will God bless people who out of ignorance violate His commands?

After I had posted my post warning people of the Global Day of Prayer (GDOP), and talked with some of my friends to warn them about it, one carnard which some of them tried to put up in defense of people who go for the event is that God will bless the prayers of the people who go, especially since they do it in ignorance. In this post, I will look into this excuse and analyze it according to the Scripture.

Now, I would assume here the rightness and necessity of the Doctrine of Seperation, and that seperating from the GDOP is a proper application of this doctrine, of which I will talk about later. If such is the case, then first of all, those people whom I have warned about this event are commanded by the Lord NOT to go for this event, of which going for them would be a violation of God's command. Furthermore, since they are warned against it, the have no excuse for their disobedience against God and in fact would be held accountable and punished more for their disobedience, no blessed. As it is written,

And that servant who knew his master's will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. (Lk. 12:47-48)

So the question that now arises is only applicable to those who are truly ignorant of the rank compromise in the GDOP event, NOT those who have been warned or those in the committees involved in the event (since they have been warned before by me anyway), which woud be most of the rank and file Christian 'laity' in the neo-Evangelical not-yet-post-evangelical churches. To this, let us remember the verses we had just looked at earlier, Lk. 12:48a.

But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating.

From that, we can see that ignorance DOES not mean that God will bless the people who attend the event. In fact, God punishes people based on their actions more than their motives. Between actions and motives, wrong actions deserve punishment even if supplemented with good motives. According to this passage, therefore, motives at the most serve a mitigaing factor in delivering you to a lesser punishment than if you do know but still disobey. Those people who do attend the GDOP are therefore all being disobedient to God and do not deserve God's blessing but his punishment for taking part in this compromise event, regardless of whether they know it or no. And God is not unfair in this, because believers are already called to examine everything according to the Scripture (Acts 17:11; 1 Thess. 5:21; 1 Jn. 4:1), and thus their ignorance shows a contempt for Scripture and heeding the biblical call to discern. Their pastors and leaders are of course held even more responsible for such an attitude in their congregants, because they have failed to fulfil their responsibilities as under-shepherds in shepherding and teaching and protecting their flock (Acts 20:28-32; 1 Tim. 6:2ff; 2 Tim. 2:14-15, 4:1-5; Titus 1:9, 11, 13; Titus 2:1).

Now, we would come to the issue whether God will hear their prayers. Yes, God will punish them, and yet, will He still in His mercy forgive their ignorance and still bless them? After all, it is 'all for the "global glory of God"'. As far as the ordinary Christian is concerned, he/she is doing it for Christ. To this, we look at the Scriptures and pose a question: Where in Scripture is it stated that God will bless and answer the prayers of the disobedient? Looking at 2 Chron. 7:14, the favorite text for intecessors, the verse reads that

If my people who are called by My Name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land. (2 Chron. 7:14)

The four conditions stated for God to hear our prayers is that we are to (1) humble ourselves, (2) pray, (3) seek His face, and (4) turn from their wicked ways. Now, the people going to the GDOP in ignorance ideally fulfil conditions 1,2 and 3. However, as what they are doing is a violation of Scripture, they violate condition 4, as the event itself is wicked. Therefore, are we to believe that God will violate His own Word and answer the prayers offered at this event?

Now, note that I did not say that God will not answered all prayers offered at this event, since some of the prayers may be those which are offered up in their personal prayer times too. However, all prayers for so called 'unity', 'peace' and for the expansion of the "global glory of God" would be despised by God and therefore NOT answered.

And speaking of intercession, check out this passage found in Ez. 14: 12-20

And the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, when a land sins against me by acting faithlessly, and I stretch out my hand against it and break its supply of bread and send famine upon it, and cut off from it man and beast, even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness, declares the Lord God.

“If I cause wild beasts to pass through the land, and they ravage it, and it be made desolate, so that no one may pass through because of the beasts, even if these three men were in it, as I live, declares the Lord God, they would deliver neither sons nor daughters. They alone would be delivered, but the land would be desolate.

“Or if I bring a sword upon that land and say, Let a sword pass through the land, and I cut off from it man and beast, though these three men were in it, as I live, declares the Lord God, they would deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they alone would be delivered.

“Or if I send a pestilence into that land and pour out my wrath upon it with blood, to cut off from it man and beast, even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, declares the Lord God, they would deliver neither son nor daughter. They would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness. (Ez. 14: 12-20)

Noah, Daniel and Job are well known for their righteousness. Furthermore, they were also known for their prayerfulness (at least for Daniel and Job). In this passage, God is pronouncing judgment on faithless Israel in the immediate context and stressing that even the intercession of righteous people would not save her. Translated into our context, the prayers of righteous people, even though they are said to be effective (Jas. 5:16b), do not avail much for the wicked whom God has destined for destruction. And therefore, while intercession is beneficial and even commanded, we must always keep in mind that ultimately whether God answers prayers DOES not depend on us or anyone else, but solely on His good pleasure.

This realization ought to temper our inordinate so-called 'passion' for prayer, and tell us that prayer alone does not mean that God must bless us, and therefore just because the GDOP is on prayer does not mean that it is a good thing. Prayer is only as effective as the God who is pleased with it wills it to be! Prayer alone sans the approval of God, in fact in violation of His commands, is an abomination and detestable before the Lord God of Hosts. And He will not bless it nor the people involved in it.

Quote: The reason why Christianity is not advancing

The reason why Christianity does not advance with a mightier stride is simply this: that professors are in a large measure a disgrace to religion; and many of those who are joined to the church have no more godliness than those out of it.

— Charles Haddon Spurgeon

[HT: Christian Research Net]

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Gospel and its proclamation (part 7): Finale

[continued from here, here, here, here, here and here]

We have seen that the Gospel is to be proclaimed in words, especially through the medium of preaching, and we have also seen the wrong way of sharing the Gospel message by the Amyraldians, neo-Amyraldians and the crypto-Arminians. So how exactly are we to proclaim the Gospel?

First of all, the proclamation of the Gospel must contain the Gospel, which includes elements such as the sinfulness of Man, the wrath of God against sin, the death of Christ on the Cross and His resurrection from the dead, the command to repent of our sins and believe in Jesus, and the consequences of doing so and of NOT doing so. We are to, like the apostle Peter, implore others to turn to Christ (Acts 2:40) and plead with them regarding their salvation from the coming judgment of God. The sincere promise of the Gospel, that ALL who turn to Christ will be saved, must be made known.

Note the difference between such a presentation and the presentation which the Amyraldians would give if they are consistent with their theology. Nowhere in the Gospel presentation should we tell others that God loves them, or that God loves them despite everything which they have done, which the Bible does not do so anyway. Our exhortation to sinners is along the lines of 'Repent and save yourselves', not 'God loves you and please accept Him'. The basis of our exhortation is thus also different: we should implore others based upon the fact that they are in danger of hellfire, rather than the 'fact' that God wants them to turn to Him. The former puts God in charge, and pleads for Man to escape hellfire, whereas the latter puts Man in charge as it elevates human autonomy to accept God or not, even in the decision to escape hellfire.

The reason why this is so important in the Gospel presentation is that only the sick would need a doctor (Mt. 9:12; Mk. 2:17; Lk. 5:31). Unless and until we expose the sinfulness of Man, no one would see their need of a Savior to save them from their sins. If we just present Jesus as anything less than a Savior from the utter wickedness of our sins, then we diminish the message of the Gospel. If Man is made to believe that they can somehow help themselves, even in being given the choice to decide to accept Christ or not, then they have not seen the gravity of their own sins and thus the Gospel message is compromised. Only when they know that they are helpless and doomed before the wrath of an Almighty God would they realize the awfulness of their sin and cry out to God for mercy.

The Gospel presentation must be one of urgency also. Since the Gospel is the only things that saved, then we should show urgency in bringing the message to dying sinners. God wants His people saved (2 Peter. 3:9), and we are the instruments (Mt. 28:18-20) that He uses to accomplish His mission of saving all His lost sheep (Mt. 18:10-14). Yes, their salvation ultimately does not depend on ourselves, since Christ has already said that all that the Father has given to Him would come to Him (Jn. 6:37) and would not be cast out (Jn. 6:37), but that doesn't mean that we can be disobedient to God's commands. Furthermore, we should all the more go out and evangelize since we have the confidence that all of God's people WILL respond to the Gospel sooner or later, unlike the synergists who have no assurance that their proclamation of the Gospel would save anyone.

Last of all, the Gospel presentation should be passionate. If you don't even believe in the Gospel, or show no sign of really believing it, how can you share it with others?

In conclusion, the Gospel message is to be proclaimed in such a way that the glory and holiness of God is lifted up, and the sinfulness of Man is exposed. Only then will the grace of God towards sinners shine and people would eagerly turn to Jesus Christ, if they are convicted of their sins. We should present the Gospel urgently too, knowing that time is short and we should do so with the passion of truly believing this truth of the Gospel. Such a Gospel presentation would be one that honors God, and would thus be blessed and used of God mightily in the salvation of His people and the condemnation of the reprobates (2 Cor. 2:16a).

[THE END!]

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Gospel and its proclamation (part 6): Baneful effects of Amyraldism and crypto-Arminianism on Evangelism

[continued from here, here, here, here and here]

When one embraces neo-Amyraldian, Amyraldian or even cryto-Arminian soteriological views, which expresses itself logically in the theories of 'Common salvific grace' and the 'Free Offer of the Gospel', this would then translate into various practices in Evangelism which would compromise the message of the Gospel.

An example of such a distortion of the Gospel message could be seen in the evangelistic video at the center of the 'Just stop and think' controversy, where the statements that 'Despite all you have done, God still loves you', 'Regardless of anything you have done in your life, God still wants to love you', '...the God of the universe is proposing to you right now: I want to forgive you, I want to spend eternity with you', 'God is begging you; it's almost like He is on a knee begging you', 'The God of the universe is crazy about you and screaming out for your attention' are made. Central to all of this is the theory of the Free Offer of the Gospel, taken to its extreme of course. After all, only if you believe that God has some sort of favorable disposition towards all Man and sincerely desires their salvation can you make such statements which appeal to Man at Man's level. Instead of proclaiming the holiness of God and commanding their repentance, the Gospel message has been reduced to an anthropocentric message based upon the supposed love and grace that God has for all Man.

Now, of course, embracing the ideas of Common salvific grace and the Free Offer of the Gospel does not necessarily translate into such a distortion of the Gospel message (which is still a mild distortion compared to others which come from a purely Arminian, Semi-Pelagian or Pelagian perspective, however). However, that is its logical consequence. Due to the contradictory nature of the theories of Common salvific grace and the Free Offer of the Gospel with the Doctrines of Grace, the Amyraldian and neo-Amyraldian position can only be maintained by celebrating irrationality and deprecating logic, which is what people like Dr. Cornelius Van Till has done when discussing such matters[1]. However, as history has shown, compromise begets more compromise and heresy, and as such, the Gospel message would tend towards more and more distortion. Also, it is this tendency towards greater and greater corruption of the Gospel message that should be of grave concern, even more so than the slight distortion as seen in that video.

In conclusion, the embrace of Amyraldism, neo-Amraldism, or crypto-Arminianism would cause a distortion of the Gospel message along the lines of shifting the focus of the Gospel from the theocentric God's command for repentance to the anthropocentric need for Man to respond to the love for God. Of course, it is granted that repentance may be also present in the Gospel message of the Amyraldians, but the emphasis has shifted from God's command to Man's response and an unbiblical emphasis on and exageration of the love of God towards all Man, to the extent that God's special love for His elect could even be used of all Man in general, as can be seen in that 'Just Stop and Think' video. This, thus, is the baneful effect of Amyraldism on the presentation of the Gospel. If not halted, the downgrade of the Gospel message would continue as later generations would be more consistent with their theology and would tend to move towards the embrace of Arminian error, with the corresponding decline in the message of the Gospel.

We would now look more in detail into the proper way in which we should proclaim the Gospel message of our Lord Jesus Christ.

[to be continued]


References:

[1] W. Gary Crampton, Cornelius Van Till: An Analysis of his Thought, The Trinity Review, July 1996. (http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=167)

Rick Warren: The accuser of the brethren

Well, Rick Warren just seem to can't stand having opposition to his social gospel. After facing oppositon from various quarters, he now accuse Christians who oppose him as not being true Christians and churches that do not implement his 5 purposes (according to how he define them, of course) as true churches. According to Chris Rosebrough, that means that

Fulfiling 5 purposes +False doctrine = True church

NOT fulfiling 5 purposes + True doctrine = False church

Go figure this one out. The first equation is proved right by his having 'purpose driven catholics' and 'purpose driven synagogues', and he just said the second one. With more and more rhetoric and polemics being directed against faithful Christians, I guess it is time to just kick Warren out of the visible Church; i.e. disown him. Not considering his various doctrinal errors and compromises too, which can be seen in my book and my review of his 2006 PDC conference message in Singapore here. OK, Rick Warren is from now on, as far as I am concerned, NOT to be considered as a Christian at all (de facto excommonuicated).

[HT: Christian Research Net here and here]

The Gospel and its proclamation (part 5): Common salvific grace and the Free Offer of the Gospel?

[continued from here, here, here and here]

When one embraces either Amyraldism or neo-Amyraldism, one necessarily embraces a 'two wills of God' theory. God is thus desiring that all Man to be saved. Depending on how one wants to go about describing that particular 'will' of God for all Man to be saved, one could very likely embrace a type of 'common grace' which I would termed 'commn salvific grace' whereby God has a favorable and gracious deposition towards all Man, as opposed to 'common providential grace' or to put it simply, providence, which is how at least some reformed folks think common grace refers to[1]. Such benevolence of God expresses itself in for example sunshine and rain for all Man, regardless of their obedience to Him (Mt. 5:45), and also in things like the restraint of the total depravity of sinner on this earth etc and thus show forth the gracious character of God towards His Creation. However, this is not the idea of 'common grace' which Amyraldians and neo-Amyraldians refer to when speaking of 'common grace'. For such people, common grace actually refers to a favorable and gracious operation of the Holy Spirit which includes a desire for the salvation of all Man, somehow[2], and which sounds exactly like the Arminian 'universal prevenient grace'[3] except that it does not play a part in the Ordo Salutis whereas universal preveient grace does. So far, Pastor John Piper has not taken his neo-Amyraldism to its logical conclusion and embraced the next logical step of common salvific grace, as far as I know, which is good.

The idea of common salvific grace is thus the next logical step in Amyraldism and is a step towards the Arminan position. Next, it then logically follows from this that, if it be true that God sincerely desire the salvation of all Man (in some fashion or another; whether it be through the one-will of God in Arminianism or the two-wills of God in Amyraldianism), then the Gospel is be preached likewise (the so-called 'free offer of the Gospel') . Consequently, if the theory of common salvific grace is proven to be unbiblical, then the 'Free Offer of the Gospel' is also wrong and it would be wrong to tell anyone in a Gospel presentation that God desires their salvation.

So now we have two theories to evaluate: the theory of common salvific grace and the 'Free Offer of the Gospel'. If both of these theories are shown to be unbiblical, which I will prove that they are, then it is wrong that God desires the salvation of all Man, and we should not be telling people that God desires the salvation of all Man or its corollary that God offers salvation to you freely (and it is up to the person to accept or not).

With regards to the theory of Common salvific grace, the prooftexts used to support this theory are mainly the same prooftexts that Arminians use to attempt to prove their doctrine of universal atonement, and thus subject to the same refutation. Texts which speak of God blessing unbelievers (i.e. God placing the Egyptians under Joseph's rule (Gen. 41: 52-57), protecting and blessing Hagar and Ismael (Gen. 21:8-21)), cannot in any way prove this theory, as these blessings DO not speak of any form of salvific grace whatsoever. Therefore, the consistent Amyraldians would slip into a weak form of Arminianism as they resort to the same type of arguments Arminians use and the same prooftexts supposedly referring to 'all man', 'the world' etc being somehow the intent of God's salvific love and grace[4]. In fact, this sort of cryto-Arminianism would in the end ruin those who propose it. For the reason that the proponents are generally bright and logical and would thus bring their position to its logical conclusion, and if not their successors would do so, the Amyraldians and/or cryto-Arminians would soon either throw away their Amyraldian novelties, or slip further into embracing the Arminian heresy, and from there move on towards rank heresy in Semi-Pelagianism.

The related theory of the 'Free Offer of the Gospel' may sound confusing to some. First of all, let it be clear what the 'Free Offer of the Gospel' is NOT. It is NOT the idea that the Gospel is to be preached promisciously to all. It is NOT the idea that God promises that IF anyone repents, they would be saved. It is NOT the idea that we can preach the Gospel in such a way that we implore people to repent of their sins and turn to Christ. All these are NOT what the 'Free Offer of the Gospel' teaches. Granted, the 'Free Offer of the Gospel' does agree with all these, but the key point of the 'Free Offer of the Gospel' is that God favorably desires the salvation of all Man, and the Gospel is to be preached in such a way that the sinner must be told that God wants you to be saved. The first part of the Free Offer of the Gospel, that of Common salvific grace, is erronous, of which we have seen earlier, and the second part must therefore of necessity be wrong also. After all, if it be wrong that God desires the salvation of all Man, then how can we tell others that God desires their salvation, since it would then be a lie if the person is not of the elect?

Just to show that I am not misrepresenting the doctrine, here is the definition of the Free Offer of the Gospel' by the neo-Amryaldian John Murray[5]:

... [the] disposition of lovingkindness on the part of God pointing to the salvation to be gained through compliance with the overtures of gospel grace. In other words, the gospel is not simply an offer or invitation but also implies that God delights that those to whom the offer comes would enjoy what is offered in all its fullness.

In his forward, R. Scott Clark lambasted traditional Calvinists by derogatorily referring to them as 'hyper-Calvinists' and call them rationalists because they (Herman Hoeksema, Gordon Clark, John Gertsner etc.) reject this doctrine he embraces as they have found it wanting both scripturally and logically. Notwithstanding this, the truth is that this doctrine is based on a flawed, abberational doctrine (common salvific grace) which is a step toward Arminianism and Pelagianism and therefore also abberational.

To round off the refutation of Common salvific grace and the Free Offer of the Gospel, let us look at a quote from the Prince of Puritans, Rev. Dr. John Owen, which was used against the ideas of Amyrald and could be applied equally to these ideas[6]:

First, God doth not proffer life to all upon the condition of faith, passsing by a great part of manking without any such proffer made to them at all.

Secondly, If by God's proffer they understand His command and promise, who told them that these things were declarative of His will and purpse or intention? ... I thought always that God's commands and promises had revealed our duty, and not His purposes; what God would have us to do, and not what to do. His promises, indeed, ... indefinitely proposed, they reveal no other intention of God but what we before discovered, which concerns things, not persons, ...

... If He [God] intend it, why is it, then, not accomplished? doth He fail of His purpose? (p. 200, Italics original, Bold added)

Also,

If we take the command to believe, with the promise of life upon so doing, for an offer of mercy, there is an eternal truth in it; which is, that God will assuredly bestow life and salvation upon all believers, ... and not at all of God's intention towards the particular soul to whom the proffer is made. (p. 272)

In the first passage, Own clearly states his opposition to the idea of any form of Common salvific grace, as he contends that God's will is different from his commands and promises (against the two wills of God), and that God does not proffer or intend salvation for all Man. Owen then shoots a rhetorical question regarding whether if God intends it, then why it is not accomplished, and thus destroy whatever is left of the unbiblical theory of Common salvific grace. In the second passage, Owen first affirms the 'sincere promise of the Gospel', that God promises to all Man that ALL who repent and believe will have eternal life, and then in the later part denies the Free offer of the Gospel, as he denies that this promise does not say anthing at all of whether God intends anything towards 'the particular soul to whom the proffer is made'.

We can thus see that the modern day crypto-Arminians and neo-Amyraldians contradict the Scriptures, and they furthermore go against at least the Prince of Puritans, John Owen. It is my further contention that they contradict all the Reformers and Reformed Creeds and Confessions before them, which can be seen if one learns how to distinguish between the two doctrines of the 'Sincere promise of the Gospel' and the 'Free offer of the Gospel', of which the former is affirmed while the latter is denied. The inability of these people to distinguish between the two lead to them thinking that the witness of the historic Reformed community is on their side, when it is actually not.

In the next post, we will look at the baneful effects the embrace of such theories have on Evangelism.

[to be continued]


References:

[1] This is the view taken by theologians such as Loius Berkhof in his article Common Grace (http://www.mbrem.com/calvinism/commongrace.htm)

[2] This view of common salvific grace is taken by the group of complainants led by Dr. Cornelius Van Till against the ordination of Gordon H. Clark in the OPC (Orthodox Presbyterian Church) during the 1940s. Taken from Garrett P. Johnson, The Myths of Common Grace, The Trinity Review , Mar/Apr 1987. (http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=28)

[3] "Universal Preveninent Grace", Entry on Theopedia (http://www.theopedia.com/Universal_prevenient_grace)

[4] As an example, see John Murray's exegesis of 2 Peter 3:9 in his essay The Free Offer of the Gospel, found at http://public.csusm.edu/public/guests/rsclark/Offer.html . Note well that his "exegesis" is no different fundamentally from that of the Arminians.

[5] John Murray and Ned B. Stonehouse, The Free Offer of the Gospel (found at http://public.csusm.edu/public/guests/rsclark/Offer.html)

[6] John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, Reprinted by The Banner of Truth Trust, 1999.

More apostasy in post-evangelicalism

Nothing much to say about Frank Beckwith's conversion to Romanism (Roman Catholicism), of which Christianity Astray Today published a symphtathetic interview that would made its founders and all the Reformers spin in their grave, except that may God have mercy upon his soul and save him before he follows that women on the seven hills (Rev. 17:9) into eternal perdition.

[Oh, btw, Rome has not changed on her definition of Justification. Her soteriology, similar to the Judaizers, damm all RCs to hell if they believe them. To Frank Beckwith and likeminded folks, you have voluntarily placed yourself under the anathema of God as stated in Gal. 1:8-9, and thus you are to be treated as heretics, until and if you repent. Whoever does not seperate himself from Frank Beckwith now is guilty of disobedience against God in not following the command of seperation stated in 2 Cor. 6:14-18.]

[HT: Christian Research Net]

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Gospel and its proclamation (part 4): Refutation of Amyraldism and neo-Amyraldism

[continued from here, here and here]

Before analyzing the systems of Amyraldism and neo-Amyraldism, it would be interesting to note Piper's rationale for holding such a view in the first place.

In terms of rationale, Piper is on record in his article for saying that the reason why he postulated that God does indeed desires the salvation of all is primarily because of dissatisfication with the exegesis of typical Arminian prooftexts offered by Calvinists. This type of thinking is totally unfounded, especially since he offered no exegetical proof at all why the traditional Calvinist understanding of these texts are wrong, and gives perhaps a hint that Piper is reading into Scripture here instead of reading out of Scripture, which I would prove by dismantling his system.

The commonality between the Amyraldian and the neo-Amyraldian system is the belief that God has two wills with different saving desires and intentions. On the surface, this makes God a schizopreniac as these two wills operate against each other in one person. Piper has correctly pointed out, however, that the reality is that there are at least two-fold wills in God which are stated in Scripture[1],[2], and thus the charge does not stick on the surface. However, this charge does stick at a deeper level against both neo-Amyraldism and Amyraldism, as unlike the other examples given of the two wills of God, the two wills of God mention here are both at the same level of God's active willing with regards to soteriology; one part of God's will wills to save all while the other part doesn't will to save all but only the elect. Whereas in the example of Christ's death, God did not actually 'will' that the people obey the Law and thus not put Him to death (He decreed in the Law, but it was a command rather than a will), and thus the paradox can be resolved by stating that it was God's command according to the Law that Jesus would not be crucified, but that it was God's will to put Him to death. The Amyraldian could not resolve the paradox they have created in any logical manner, and therefore their position face a logical impossibility.

Besides being illogical, let us look into the implications of such a view on our view of God and the logical heresies that follow.

The first implication of the 'two wills of God' theory is that God would be forever unhappy and miserable since one of His will is destined to be forever frustrated. As Dr. C. Matthew McMahon says[3],

This would make God sin. He would sin in that He would violate His own mind and omniscience. He would go against that which He knows is true. He would desire the salvation of men which He will never regenerate. This would make God frustrated. He would be the ever-blessed, ever-miserable God.

Another implication would be that this would create a conflict between the will of God the Father and the will of God the Son. This would be a serious problem for classic Amyraldianism since in that system, the Atonement was intended by God the Father for all Man. However, Christ's atonement according to His expressed will is only for His sheep and not for the whole world (Mt. 25:33; Jn. 10:15). Amyraldism is therefore a logical absurbdity and contradicts Scripture.

With regards to neo-Amyraldism, the latter problem is of course, avoided. However, it still faces the logical coherence problem and the problem created by the implication of such a view on the nature of God Himself, which is enough to invalidate the entire theory already as abberational.

Now, with regards to Piper's take on the typical Arminian prooftexts, the only thing that seems likely to support his interpretation is that on the passage of Ezekiel 18:23, 32. Although the passage and verses are directed towards Israel which is symbolic of the people of God of all ages, yet the verses cannot be limited to just saying that God does not delight in the death of the wicked within the communion of believers. Since the death of the wicked within the visible communion of believers in that state would mean that these people are not saved in the first place (1 Jn. 2:19; Heb. 12:14), this means that God does not delight in the death of at least certain reprobates, and the word 'anyone' in Ez. 18:32 makes this action of 'not delighting in the death of the wicked' to be applied to an indefinite number. So, I can agree with Piper's exegesis on these two verses[4]. However, to infer from the fact that God does not delight in the death of the wicked to the theory that God desires to save all is an unfounded leap in logic which I totally reject.

From all this, we have refuted both Amyraldism and neo-Amyraldism according to logic and Scripture. We will look now more into detail into the theories derived from it; 'Common Salvific Grace' and the 'Free Offer of the Gospel'.

[to be continued]


References

[1] Are there two wills in God? (http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Articles/ByDate/1995/1580_Are_There_Two_Wills_in_God/)

[2] I wouldn't use the term "will"' to describe things like "God's moral will", as I think it is not proper terminology, but I do agree and subscribe wth the meaning and intent of the terms used.

[3] Hypothetical Universalism (http://www.apuritansmind.com/PuritanWorship/Amyraut%20Universalism.htm). Although this article is a good resource, it is my opinion after reading though it that there are a few errors in it. Amyraldianism does NOT believe in all man having a equal chance to 'become Sons of the living God', at least not in the manner understood by Semi-Pelgianism or Arminianism, contrary to what McMahon thinks it believes. Another thing to take note is that McMahon tend towards hyper-Calvinistic thought patterns in his disregard of the sufficiency of the Atonement for all who would believe (Particularism), which is deduced from Scripture passages such as Jn. 3:16 whereby the atoning sacrifice of Christ is said to be effective for an indefinite number 'all', 'the world'.

[4] I DO agree that God ultimately delights in the destruction of the reprobates due to their sins, and Piper does too, and such delight also occurs on this earth (1 Sam. 2:22-25). What I believe regarding this issue is that God does not delight in the death of the wicked when viewing them as humans, but God delights in the destruction of the wicked when viewing them as depraved rebel sinners.

The Gospel and its proclamation (part 3): Sincere desire for the salvation of all?

[continued from here and here]

Does God honestly desire for all Man to be saved? Is there biblical evidence for or against the idea? Secondly, regardless of the answer: Is it biblical to tell everyone that Christ desires your salvaion during the Gospel proclamation?

It must be admitted fist of all that the idea of God desiring all men to be saved is not a Reformed idea; it comes from the Arminian tradition. In this article, I would assume the Scriptural fidelity and orthodoxy of Calvinism, which I have proven from the Scriptures elsewhere[1]. Anyway, calvinists of all stripes unanimously affirm that Christ intends to die for only His elect (Definite or Limited Atonement), as a cursory look at the major Reformed creeds like the Canons of the Synod of Dordt, the Wesminster Confession of Faith etc shows. Since God intends for the salvation of the elect, and of them only, it seems strange, even contradictory, to say that God intends to save the elect while desiring the salvation of all. The only middle way proposed during the Reformation era which strives to hold on to unconditional election and predestination while postulating universal atonement was Amyraldism, named after the unorthodox French theologian Moses Amyrald. Only in this system, which denies Limited atonement, could a statement be made that God desires the salvation of all but only particularly save the elect. However, it still remains to be seen as of then how one can hold to TULIP[2] while arguing that God desires the salvation of all.

In Amyraldism, the doctrine of Definite or Limited Atonement was denied in favor of universal atonement, while the other four points (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Particular Redemption & Perseverance of the Saints) were kept. This was done by making the intention of Christ's atonement that Christ would make a hypothetical universal atonement for all, but logically after that God decreed to save only the elect as no one could by and of themselves avail of the benefits of the atonement due to the Fall[3]. Now, all of these decrees are not temporal but logical and happen only in the mind of God before the Creation of the world. By using such mental gymnastics, Amyrald could consistently preseve the other 4 points of Calvinism while holding on to universal atonement[4]. Such mental gymnastics would of logical necessity split the will of God into at least two parts, of which one part of God's will would desire the salvation of all Man and Christ's atoning work was made available on their behalf, while the other part would intend somehow for the salvation of the elect who would appropriate the merits of the atonement by faith, which can be termed the sine qua non of Amyraldism (trying to be Calvinistic but being not quite there). Granted, these two parts of the will do not function at the same level, as one is logically antecedent to the other, but both of them would be present at the same time in the mind of God.

Through a sophisicated look at the decrees of God, Moses Amyrald has seemingly made it possible for Christians to accept Calvinism (minus the hard truth 'L') while still embracing Universal atonement. It is only through this supposedly reformed scheme that it would be possible for God to be said to sincerely desire the salvation of all Man.

In modern times, Pastor John Piper has embraced just such a view. Due to his reformed leaning convictions, Piper has attempted to incorporate the tenets of Calvinism with such a view of his, thus giving rise to his views concerning the two wills of God[5].We would look at his arguments for his position soon, but suffice it is to say for now that his view is quaintessentially Amyraldian, and the only difference is that somehow he holds to Limited Atonement. This could be probably be due to the fact that, instead of putting God's atoning work as 'sufficient for all', he shifted it to the 'efficient for the elect' part. In other words, whereas in Amyrald's system God desired the salvation of all through making available the partaking of the merits of the Atonement, and then applied to the elect only, Piper's system would mean that God desired the salvation of all, and then intending and giving the merits of the Atonement to the elect. In both systems, the two wills of God are operative, while the intention of the atonement changes from being linked to one will to the other will.

Now, of course, the two views are definitely different, as Piper affirms TULIP while Amyrald denies 'L', making it TUIP, but fundamentally they are the same. Piper's view can therefore be termed pseudo- or neo-Amyraldism (I prefer the latter term) as it is more in line with Amyrald's position than the Calvinist one. That doesn't necessarily makes it wrong of course, but at least it could be identified correctly and not be confused to be that believed by true Calvinists.

In the next post, I would like to analyze the compromise positions of Amyraldism and neo-Amyraldism according to Scripture.

[to be continued]


References:

[1] For proof from Scripture, see my articles here and here.

[2] TULIP stands for Total Depravity, Unconditional election, Limited Atonement, Irrisistable grace, and Pereseverance of the Saints

[3] Notes on supralapsarianism and infralasarianism http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/articles/sup_infr.htm

[4] Of course, this creates other problems in terms of consistency in theology, but at least all seems well within the narrow scope of TULIP.

[5] Are there two wills in God? (http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Articles/ByDate/1995/1580_Are_There_Two_Wills_in_God/)

Rick Warren up to his old tricks again...

OK, not exactly Rick Warren per se, just his spin doctors. Apparently, being called on to discipline Rupert Murdoch didn't go down too well for this 'humble' and 'god-fearing' pastor and his PR machine.

[HT:: Christian Research Net]

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Gospel and its proclamation (part 2)

[continued on from here]

The Gospel is be proclaimed for the salvation of sinners, and the message of the Gospel is derived from Scripture. However, what about the method? Do the ends ever justify the means in Gospel proclamation and Evangelism?

The answer is definitely no. God Himself has ordained the means by which we are to evangelize within the texts of Scripture, which is via proclamation of the Gospel in God's Word (Rom. 10:17). Since Man is saved via believing, which requires understanding, any method which does not proclaim the Gospel is definitely wrong. This would definitely rule out so-called 'lifestyle evangelism' (lifestyle pre-evangelism is fine) which does not communicate the Gospel at all and any so-called 'evangelism' activity where the Gospel is not presented; of which the worst is the 'seeker-sensitive circus church' phenomenon whereby unbelievers come to the church to be entertained and the most they ever get to a Gospel message is a pep-talk saying that 'God loves you and thus please accept Him (otherwise He is very lonely)' type of anti-Christian message which you WILL NOT find anywhere in Scripture (more on this later).

Rom. 10:17 thus summarizes the entire method by which Scripture dictates that Evangelism be done, which is through proclaiming the Gospel in words, since spiritual hearing is 'through the Word of Christ'. In the Great Commission in Mt. 28:18-20, teaching was central to making disciples, and the apostles in the narrative of Acts always proclaimed the Gospel through the method of preaching. In 1 Cor. 2:1-5, the Gospel was said to be proclaimed in speech. Through all this, we can see that words is the God-ordained medium for the transmission of the Gospel, not music, drama or whatever else that can be thought of. Therefore, without the sharing of the Gospel in words, there is no evangelism, regardless of the 'atmosphere' of the place or the 'professionalism' of the performers.

Now, as to whether music or other devices could be used to 'supplement' Evangelism, the question to look at is in what ways they are being used. If they are used in such a way that the message is undermined, by drawing attention to them instead of the message, then obviously they are not to be used. Similarly, if they are used as 'enhancers' for the message in order to 'manipulate' people into a more receptive state to make a 'decision' for Christ, then its use is similary heinous. Since no one can come to God unless the Father draws him (Jn. 6:44), there is nothing anyone can do which ultimately alters a person's destiny and therefore to attempt to do so would tend to create false converts by bringing these people at the most to a point of worldly grief which leads to death (2 Cor. 7:10). Not to mention the fact that it may cause a receptive person to confess Christ before he/she is prepared to do so and in so doing, the person may be discouraged by the promised persecution (2 Tim. 3:12) and leave hardened against the faith. We should therefore present the Gospel as it is instead of trying to soft-peddle it to make it more palatable to the masses.

Speaking of soft-peddling the Gospel, to present only half the Good News is definitely wrong, because it would alter the Gospel message in some way or another and thus bring down the curse of God upon that person (Gal. 1:8-9). Another detestable method is the bait-and-switch method of evangelism, whereby something 'attractive' is presented (the bait), and then substituted with the Gospel when the person has took interest in the bait (Assuming that they did indeed go to the Gospel). Such a method would of course end up presenting the Gospel, but then the people who are only interested in the bait you are offering would feel cheated and cause the church to bear reproach. More seriously, it betrays a fundamental distrust in the power of the Gospel in reaching out to those are lost. Practically, such a move often give rise to a very strong temptation to NOT even present the true Gospel to these people after baiting them out of a fear of them leaving the church, and down goes the tithing along with them, thus tempting these churches to compromise the Gospel message.

With the basics of the Gospel and its proclamation covered, let us look into a specifc area of the Gospel proclamation — Firstly, is it true and biblical that God loves everyone and earnestly desires their salvation, and secondly, should we present the Gospel to everyone in this manner?

[to be continued]

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Gospel and its proclamation (part 1)

[continued on from here]

The Gospel is the message of salvation; the Good News that is to be proclaimed to evey creature under heaven. It proclaims to all the way of salvation for all who believe (Rom. 1:16), such that all who hear and obey the message will be saved; and apart from it no one can ever be saved (Rom. 10:14-17). Therefore, it is imperative that we get the Gospel message correct, as a wrong 'gospel' would damn others instead of saving them (Gal. 1:6-9).

So what exactly is the Gospel? In its broad sense, the Gospel is the entirety of Scripture, because ALL of Scripture is Good News and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting an training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16 -NIV). However, the Gospel most definitely have a narrower and more popular sense, in that it demarcates the basics of the faith that is to be proclaimed and believed in order for people to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. It is this sense which is prevalent in the NT Scriptures, whereby it is distilled into a one-sentence message of 'Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit' (Acts 2:38); 'if you confess with your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved' (Rom. 10:9), or into proto-creeds as can be seen in 1 Cor. 15:3-8. Thus, we can see that the Gospel consists of propositional truth statements that are to be understood and believed in (not merely paying lip service), which results in the salvation of all who will do so. Such biblical passages definitely seems minimalistic; with the Gospel proclamation being reduced to one statement or a collection of statements. Or is that so?

What then does the Gospel consists of? The Gospel proclamation as found in Scripture is actually very simple and can be succintly stated as: calling on all Man to repent of their sins and believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior (Lk. 24:47; Acts 20:21). Together with the other passages we have looked at earlier, this seems to suggest that the Gospel message is very simple and easy, and it is. However, Man, due to sin and our own creaturely limitations, complicate matters. God intended the Gospel to be simple, but then it is only able to be effective in communicating its message if it is understood, which mankind fail to do so due to our own sinful, creaturely nature. Our hearts are darkened (Rom. 1:21) due to the rebellion of our depraved nature against God, and we have became blind to spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14) and without understanding (Is. 6:9-10; Eph. 4:18). Therefore, when given a simple Gospel presentation, rebel Man cannot understand it, and if they do, they would attempt to distort it. It is precisely because of this that the context of the various passages and the entire Bible itself is employed for the sake of the Gospel; that the meaning of the simple Gospel message can be made abundantly plain and clear (perspicuous); such that all Man would be able to understand it and be without excuse as to their rejection of the message.

This suggest, therefore, that the Gospel message is a simple message which must be understood in the way of how God wants it to be understood. In other words, the Gospel message is the simple message of repentance of sins and belief in Christ as Lord and Savior; according to the definitions of the terms and concepts as dictated in Scripture. For example, what is 'sin'? Sin must be understood in the biblical sense of a rebellion and crime against God which Man commit against God by breaking His holy Law and thus incurring wrath and punishment. Any other definition like being just 'wrong choices which prove that we are human' would constitute a denial of the Gospel message, even though the word 'sin' may be used. This goes for the other words like 'Jesus Christ', whic must be understood as being the name of the Second person of the Trinity which was incarnated on Earth by being born of the virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, and suffered and died on the Cross for our sins etc, and definitely NOT the New Age 'Jesus Christ'.

Now, such an exercise of the definition of words used could theoretically go on ad infinitum ad nauseum, leading to a semantic 'turtles all the way down' infinite regression scenario (which seems to be the rage within Emerging church circles, I may add). However, the Bible does not lend itself to such skepticism, as God has created Man in His own image (Gen. 1:27) and has even written the work of His Law on the hearts of all Man (Rom. 2:14-15), and has also revealed Himself to them through the work of Creation in what is known as General Revelation, thus Man are all born with a recognition of God but reject Him anyway. Part of the image of God that Man has is the capacity to communicate, and therefore there would not be an infinite regression scenario whereby Man could never understand anything of the Gospel at all, though our sinfulness do mar our understanding. It is because of this General Revelation that the Gospel proclamation, and all communication, is possible. With sufficient clarification, the Gospel could be communicated and understood, and the amount of clarification needed for the Gospel message to be sucessfully communicated would vary between different persons.

The next important question is with regards to how many truths are therefore needed to be communicated in order for the Gospel to be understood exactly as the Scriptures meant is to be? This would definitely depends on the audience. For simple folks, the basic message of repenting of sins and believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior would suffice, as their conscience could aid in the understanding process. However, such is not the case for most people who have bought into the philosophy of the world and have therefore suppressed the truth (Rom. 1:18-19) and seared their conscience against the Truth of God. For example, a consistent evolutionist would already have suppress the general revelation given within him/herself regarding the Creation of the world and thus the existence of sins, and therefore cannot understand the Gospel message with regards to sins (which furthermore removes the need for a Savior). Therefore, the Gospel message must include the entire account of the Creation and the Fall in order to 'fill up the gaps' he/she has created through his/her embrace of the evolutionary worldview.

The contents of the Gospel proclamation therefore is a modular one based on the core truth: 'Repentance of sins and belief in Jesus Christ', and explanations which clarify this truth. Typically, most people are not so degenerate as to require detailed understanding of correct doctrine in order to be saved, except for those in cults. What is meant by this is that a typical non-Christian wouldn't be thinking that perhaps the Gospel message is a commitment to a demigod whose name is Jesus Christ, or to Michael the Archangel when he/she hears the Gospel message, unless they are from a cult who teaches that. Occam's razor does apply to our thinking process too, and therefore human beings do not normally unnecessarily multiply ignorance by trying to make a message more complicated than it actually is. The Gospel message thus can normally be commuicated and clarified without trying to do the equivalent of giving the unbeliever a crash course in soteriology in a Gospel presentation.

So what are the truths to be included within a Gospel presentation? The truths to be included within such a presentation would be those which most people do not believe in and would be a stumbling block to their coming to faith. It is for this reason that the reality and awfulness of sin MUST of necessity be proclaimed, since Man typically either disregard or downplay sin. With this in mind, the reality of Creation, the Fall, the Substituionary Atonement of Jesus Christ are the key doctrines which must be covered so that the Gospel could be clarified. (For a reasonable Gospel presentation, check this out) Other doctrines like the Trinity are important too, but they would be important only if the person being witnessed to comes from an anti-Trinitarian cult.

With this in mind, let us look more in-depth into the proclamation of the Gospel.

[to be continued]

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Naming heretics: The accuser of the brethren?

Yes, since when naming heretics = being the accuser of the brethren? Only in the eyes of the naive and foolish New Evangelicals, and their progeny the Emergents and Emerging Church movement. My brother Vincent has ambly proved that naming names is biblical here and thus in fact, not doing is unbiblical! It is sad that this mindset has even permeated conservative, reformed circles ...

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The essence of Neo-Evangelicalism

Something I have came to a realization to today:


The essence of Neo-Evangelicalism is the inability to even see a need to obey Jude 1:3 as seen in the refusal to name and warn against names of 'Christian ministers' and 'Christian' events and movements that blaspheme the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Virgilicious...

Look at the video clips found in here. If such "satire" rap is the humor that conservative Lutherans can come up with, then I have nothing much to say. Some parts look sexually improper also.

Check out the feedback here.

Back from trip

OK, I have just came back from my grad trip to Pulau Redang thi morning. It was fun, anyway, though a bit sunburnt. Now, time to restart where I have left off...