Monday, December 31, 2007

On the Common Grace controversy: Preliminary thoughts

I currently have an oustanding challenge from Tony Byrne, with regards to my views on the matter of 'Common Grace' and the 'Free Offer of the Gospel'. I have previously enunciated my position briefly in a short article here. Please do note that in this controversy, terms are very important. As such, I have clearly differentiated between the concept of 'Common Salvific Grace' and the concept of 'Common Providential Grace', of which I deny the former and affirm the latter. I took note also of the fact that the naming of these two are probably novel (coined by me), which I have need to do as there seems be a lot of confusion over the term 'Common Grace'. It seems to me especially that ancient theologians such as Loius Berkhof used the term differently from how modern 'common gracers' like John Murray uses the term. Therefore, to clearly differentiate between the two beliefs, and to describe them better, I have separateed the two beliefs and named them 'Common Salvific Grace' and 'Common Providential Grace' respectively. It is therefore my contention that historic Christianity believes only in Common Providential Grace, while the Neo-Amyraldians believe in both types of Common Graces.

This need for clarity applies also to the idea of the Free Offer. It must be affirmed that the Gospel is offered to all without discrimination, such that whosoever would believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior would be saved (Jn. 3:16), without any necessity of delving into the decrees of God on salvation. Thus, historic Calvinism has always affirmed this concept of the free offer (small 'f' and 'o'), while Hyper-Calvinism has always denied it and have made various attempts to insert the secret decrees of God into the concept of the Gospel call. It doesn't take a genius to note that such would fly in the face of the entirety of Scripture with its call to all without exception to repent of their sins. Similarly, we would legitimately be correct, nay even commanded, to proclaim this Gospel to all men without distinction or exception and offering them salvation through faith in Christ. This as such has never been the issue of contention between us and the Neo-Amyraldians. If they were to harp on this issue, this shows either their ignorance of our position, or a delibrate poisoning the well as well as commiting the strawman fallacy. The issue of contention has always been whether such an offer reflects a genuine, sincere offer by God that He would desire that they repent (the Neo-Amyraldian position), or whether such an offer reflects an obligation which God desires to be made known that Man should repent because they are obligated to, by the requirements of God's Law which they have violated and thus having injured God's majesty (the orthodox Christian position).

Having cleared the air somewhat, or at least as much as I can, it must be maintained that this issue cannot be decided by just blanket quotation of the writings of early Reformers, Puritans, and Reformed Scholars and Pastors. A glance through several of Tony's posts on his blog would reveal that to be his standard modus operandi, as can be seen in for example here, here and here for starters. I'm sorry, Tony, but I am not impressed. The problem with such quotations are as follows:

1) The Bible take precedence. If the Bible denies the teaching of Common Salvific Grace, then the teaching is unbiblical no matter how many Puritan writers wrote in its favor.

2) Flowing from this, if the Bible teaches it, then it is morally wrong to call it Hyper-Calvinism. Altough technically correct IF Tony's interpretation of the Reformed source material is correct, the term 'Hyper-Calvinism' has a derogatory connotation, and it also does have a certain technical meaning of which we do not subscribe to (God being the author of sin; denial of the necessity of preaching of the Gospel)

3) Tony's method of quotation looks more like how Roman Catholics quote the early church fathers. Even if the exact same terms are used, proof must be offered to show that the writer then, be it Calvin, Beza, Bates etc, use the terms to mean the same thing as what the modern interpretor interprets them to mean. For example, the term 'Real Presence' was used by some of the early church fathers when talking about the Lord's Supper. Do these early church fathers therefore believe in the 'Real Presence' as defned by modern-day Rome? Of course not! Similarly, what Tony has so far done seems to be quoting a Puritan or a Reformer who mentions the term 'offer', 'free offer' or something to that effect and then thinking that would prove his case. Curt Daniel, whom he quote a lot, seems to be doing the same thing too with the Reformers, Puritans, and Reformed Scholars, or at least Tony through such quoting makes him out seemingly to be.

4) Just some trivia here, but I can't help noticing the ratio of blog space catered to this particular topic, as if this was a pet topic of his. I'm sorry, but this does not seem to indicate a healthy interest in the topic. No matter what, this topic is NOT as serious as other topics more pertinent to the church such as the apostasy within 'Reformed' churches (ie Federal Vision) or mainstream Evangelicalism (Word-faith heresy, New Perspectivism, Warrenism etc.) or even issues such as the Doctrines of Grace or Cessationism/ Continualism. After finishing this up, I wouldn't be revisiting this unless some new development has happened. As such, I wonder why Tony seems to devote a significant portion of his blog to this topic to the neglect of others. Such is similar to the PRCA who seems to talk about this issue every now and then. Tony thus seems to be their opposite number; keeping up a steady flow on this relatively minor subject.

With that said, let us consider what each side has to do to prove the biblical validity and historical backing of his position.

For Tony and the Neo-Amyraldians, scripturally, they must not only prove that it is described that God treats the reprobate well, but that He meant to do them well, for their salvation. Therefore, appeal to God desiring the salvation of all Man, or even God desiring the salvation of the wicked, proves nothing at all (since the class of wicked people ≠ the class of the reprobate). Similary, they must prove that God desires to save the reprobate, or that he desires to save every single person without exception (NOT distinction) in this world. Hiding behind the collective of 'world', 'all Man', even 'wicked' does not help their position at all, since none of these classes are equal to the class of the reprobate. With regards to the Free Offer (captial 'F' and 'O'), they must be able to prove that God sincerely offers salvation to the reprobate or the class of reprobate , which as I have mentioned earlier, is NOT the same as the class of the wicked.

Historically, Tony has to prove that the ancient saints and divines whoever they may be, NOT only use the term '0ffer', 'free offer', 'common grace' etc, but to use them with an eye to what people like John Murray meant them to be. In other words, Tony must prove that they teach in their writings the presence of a common grace which has certain salvific interest to all Man without exception (again NOT 'without distinction'). Also, he must prove that they teach that God sincerely offers to the class of reprobates salvation, and NOT just to the class of 'the world', 'all Man' or 'the wicked'. The quotes he has provided so far do not fulfil this criteria, and therefore is invalid as to proving his point, which I will show later.

As for me, in order to prove my position, I would need to substantiate my position with Scripture to prove that (1) God does not desire the salvation of the reprobates or the class of reprobates and (2) that God does not teach that there is a given common 'pool' of common grace of which the reprobate can and do partake as well which have salvific benefits. The rest would consist in refuting the 'proofs' that Tony have and probably would bring against my position. Now, since Tony and other Neo-Amyraldians claim that God does not intend to save the reprobate but yet they at the same time also claim that God earnestly desires their salvation, which is paradoxical at best and irrational at worst, the onus is on them to defend such absurdity. Therefore, I would only need prove that they have no proof for their position in order to validate my position, as theirs seem clearly oxymoronic.

With all these cleared, I would like to go on in exegeting one of the interesting texts Tony brought up to attempt to prove his position; Rom. 2:4, and let us see if Tony's reading of the text is correct. Also, since he has quoted the Reformer John Calvin to attempt to prove his point, let us see whether Calvin actually teaches this, or rather is this blog article of his a misrepresentation of what Calvin actually taught.

And barring Tony noticing this, we will start our debate after my next post on this topic with the exegesis of Rom. 2:4 and an answer to his interpretation of Calvin's exposition of the text.

[to be continued]

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Article: Cindy Jacobs and the spirit of Jezebel

Interesting article here by Joseph Chambers, and I concur.

Editor's Note: This article is not about the appearance of Cindy Jacobs, nor about her character. This article is about the Jezebel spirit or culture that has taken almost complete sway in the Charismatic church world. It is an effeminate spirit that has no masculine qualities of absolute truth or clear lines of Biblical authority.

...

The prophecy given about Zimbabwe is an excellent example of the insane ideas coming from Cindy Jacobs’ distorted mind. The world is headed toward Armageddon and its darkest hours of human history, and these “Dominion Theology” thinkers are prophesying lies instead of warning for men to turn to God in repentance. Instead of winning souls for the coming Christ, they are building armies for the coming Antichrist. This woman’s prophecies are the most blatant expressions of Satan’s dark lies preparing for his false Christ I have yet to read.

...

The Bible is incredibly plain about these kinds of human inventions. As you read about the great prophets of Scripture, you will see that their greatest enemies were always the false prophets that prophesied lies. Isaiah dealt with these false prophets and called them “wizards” just like I’m calling Rick Joyner, Cindy Jacobs, and others. Listen! “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward. And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness.” (Isaiah 8:19-22).

This passage is beautiful. Isaiah plainly stated, “If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Not one thing I have quoted in Cindy Jacobs’ prophecies has relevance to Scripture. She “peeps” and “mutters” and the Charismatic world loves it because it sounds exhilarating to the flesh. It also fits the new theology of “taking possession of the political world and the wealth of the world.” It will end in darkness. Many will be destroyed.

We often forget the multitudes that are destroyed by those false teachers and the great organizations they build. Listen as Isaiah warns of judgment on both leaders and false prophets and those who listen to them. “For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the LORD of hosts. Therefore the LORD will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day. The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail. For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.” (Isaiah 9:13-16).

Those words break my heart, “They that are led of them are destroyed.” The church world, leaders of our major denominations and many, many others that tolerate or promote this insanity are going to be destroyed in the process. That’s God’s Word, not mine. The above quote said that the Lord will cut off the ancient and the lying prophets. He then identifies the ancient as those who are the “head” or the “leaders.” When I am criticized for speaking the truth, my only reaction is, “I have no other choice.” To publish a prophecy publication and then refuse to identify the false would place me in line for God’s judgment. In fear before God, you can watch for truth and nothing but truth to the best of my ability in our prophecy publication and on our radio broadcast, “Open Bible Dialogue.”

Anyone want to know why I am no friend of Charismatism should see why now.

Defending the doctrine of Active Obedience against New Covenantal Theologians (part 4)

[continued from here, here and here]

EXEGESIS OF 2 COR. 5:21

The verse 2 Cor. 5:21 would prove to be the flashpoint, since it is hereby asserted that this verse is the most explicit verse teaching the active obedience of Christ and furthermore of Christ's righteousness. Let us now look at the verse in its context of v. 16-21.

From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says,

“In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”

Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Cor. 5:16- 6:2; v. 17 in bold.)

As it can be seen, the context here is talking about salvation. Verse 17 is a wonderful statement of our new being in Christ which we have gotten through God's grace in regeneration. Verses 18-20 talk about God reconciling the world to Himself and giving us the minitry of reconciliation; in bringing people to salvation in Him, as it can be also seen in 6:3, while verses 1 and 2 are exhortaion to believers not to trifle with the grace of God (not to receive the grace of God in vain) but to receive it in a reverent manner as manifested in a changed life, which is seen in the larger context of the 2nd epistle to the Corinthians.

Since the context of the passage talks about salvation, how then should we interpret verse 21? The verse reads:

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The first part clearly teaches the imputation of our sins to Christ, and thus emphasizes the 'passive' obedience of Christ when he took the penalty of sin on our behalf. Such was done 'for our sake', Christ was said to 'knew no sin', in the sense that He was sinless, yet He was 'made sin' on our behalf. Since Jesus was personally sinless, He can only be 'made sin' either by infusion or imputation, and of course the book of Romans makes it clear that it is via imputation (ie God justified the ungodly cf Rom. 4:5). Thus, it is most definitely the teaching of Scripture that God imputes our sins to Christ.

The second part of the verse states simply 'so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God' is hotly disputed by those who deny the Active Obedience of Christ. The phrase however is clear within its context. The phrase is used 'that... we might become' shows that we would become actually righteous, either through imputation or otherwise. In other words, it is not just we are not evil, but that we are to be reckoned as positively righteous before God.

Looking further into this sentence will reveal the parallel being drawn here. The first part mentions the imputation of our sins to Christ, while the second part talks about 'making us the righteousness of God'. If this sentence is intended to be a parallelism, and I don't see why not, then this would prove that just as the first part teaches Christ's passive obedience and the imputation of our sins to Christ, the second part teaches Christ's active obedience and the imputation of Christ's righteousness to out account. Clearly, the sentence structure is conducive to such a rendering. The New Covenantal Theologian reading would create an insurmountable difficulty. How can we be said to become not only righteous, but the righteousness of God if only our sins are imputed to Christ? Surely then, it is only Christ who is the righteousness of God and we can only be said to be the ones make righteous or the recipient of the righteousnes of God, but never that we are also the righteousness of God, because we cannot be said to actively possess righteousness before God but only passively considered righteous because of Christ's sacrifice for us. To put it simpler, if NCT is right, they can say that we are passively righteous before God, but not actively, which is what the phrase 'become the righteousness of God' states.

As stated, the context of this verse is regarding salvation. Therefore, it is invalid also to state that the phrase 'becoming the righteousness of God' refers to a life of active obedient living as a manifestation of our regenerate nature. For the entire context is on what salvation, which is NOT by works (Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 4:5), accomplishes, and therefore works should not be in the picture here at all. Unlike certain people who put works somewhere in the picture, in for example the equation of "Salvation +Works = Faith" or something to that effect, works should not be seen anywhere in the equation. Rather, works are the proof of a regenerate heart, and thus is linked only with a manifestation of salvation, nowhere in the salvation process itself. Therefore, it is invalid to read this as a remark on the manifestation of righteousness in active obedient living.

CONCLUSION

Therefore, in conclusion, 2 Cor. 5:21 is an excellent text teaching both the passive and active obedience of Christ and the doctrine of double imputation. The wording thus mitilate against any other position such as the NCT, just by itself. If we take into account the requirements of the Law, and the Covenant of Works, then the proof for the doctrine of Active Obedience is overwhelming. Clearly, it can be seen that the erroneous hermeneutics employed by New Covenantal Theologians such as Lehrer and Volker are to blame for such an error of theirs. Let us therefore strive to avoid their mistake and learn how to rightly divide the Word of Truth.

[THE END]

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Defending the doctrine of Active Obedience against New Covenantal Theologians (part 3)

[continued from here and here]

ACTIVE OBEDIENCE OF CHRIST

The main focus of this article is focused on attempting to disprove the doctrine of the Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ to believers. The authors firmly believe that Christ's 'passive obedience' is sufficient to save believers, and firmly believe that this is what the Scripture teaches. However, is this truly the case, or is it another case of the authors denying the hermenuetical principle of Necessary Consequence?

The first proof-text used by the authors to attempt to disprove the doctrine of Active Obedience is Heb. 10:11-14, which states thus:

And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Heb. 10:11-14)

Since it is here stated that Christ's sacrifice on the Cross, his passive obedience, perfects all believers, the authors firmly believe that the text teaches that Christ's passive obedience is sufficient for believers. Instead of putting us in neutral, and thus we must be saved by Christ's active obedience, they believe that this text teaches the sole sufficiency of Christ's passive obedience without the need to invoke the doctrine of active obedience. However, is that so?

It would do well to note the context of this particular passage., and the later one in Heb. 10:15-22. This passage is from the book of Hebrews with its theme of the supremacy of Christ and His sacrifice over that of the Old Testament types and shadows. As such, the author of Hebrews was hardly looking to discuss such issues, and thus to infer that Christ' passive obedience was what the author of Hebrews had in mind when he penned down those words is wrong. The contrast here is being drawn between the inability of the Old Testament multiple sacrifices offered by priests to save and perfect the OT saints as compared with the one sacrifice offered by Jesus which is effective in its working. Therefore, the whole issue was related to the theme of priesthood, not to forensic issues such as the active and passive obedience of Christ. The failure to notice the context and interpret accordingly to the context and genre of the book lead Lehrer and Volker to interpret the passage wrongly. Forenstic issues are frequently alluded to in the book of Romans, so they should look to places like Romans instead of Hebrews with regards to this topic.

And to this, the authors have directed us to. In Rom. 3:21-4:12, the authors wrote pages of exegesis to prove that the righteousness of God here is mainly talking about Christ's passive righteousness, and there is no necessity of 'positive' law-keeping involved or mentioned in this passage. Indeed for the latter, there are absolutely correct, for salvation is through believing in Christ apart from works. However, to say that this righteousness is talking about Christ's passive righteousness is to read into the text something which is not stated. The fact of the matter is that the righteousness spoken in this passage here is talking about both active and passive righteousness. We can note that nowhere in this passage are we told as to what exactly this righteousness of Christ refers to. Although the passage talks about the sacrifice of Christ and His propitiation for our sins, this still dos not say anything about the reality of Christ's righteousness except that it includes His passive obedience. Therefore, Lehrer and Volker's point will only hold true if the texts were isolated from the entirety of Scripture. Of course, the question will be legitimately posed to to where I have gotten the idea that Christ's righteousness here encompasses both active and passive obedience, and this would be shown later in the exegesis of 2 Cor. 5:21, the most explicit verse teaching that concept.

The authors followed up with analyzing passages such as Rom. 5:18-19, Phil. 3:9, 1 Cor. 1:30, 2 Cor. 5:12 and Rom 8:3-4. We will reserve 2 Cor. 5:21 till later, but we can immediately note that passages such as Rom. 5:18-19 and 1 Cor. 1:30 suffer from the same problem as Rom. 3-4 passage they were analyzing, in their use of the term 'righteousness'. The righteousness in the passage in Phil. 3:9 also talks about both active and passaive obedience, and the reason why this is so can be seen when we talk about the Law, which was mentioned there in contrast. Similary, in Rom. 8:3-4, it is strongly disputed that only passive obedience is taught here, but both active and passive obedience. This can be clearly seen when we look at the Law.

The Law stated here, and the reference to its righteousness in the phrase 'righteousness under the law' always refer back to the laws instituted under the Mosaic Covenant. Paul's frequent comparison of Law compared to Gospel, and the righteousness or salvation derived from them, shows that the Gospel can save while the Law can't. Also, Paul made it clear in Gal. 3:10-13 that salvation through the Law can only be gotten if all the Law was fulfilled without even one small violation. Also, in Jas. 2:10, we can see that salvation via the Law must involve keeping the whole of it. (This of course shows the error of the New Covenantal Theologians who reject the fact that the Mosaic Covenant has a salvific or gracious character to it.) Nevertheless, the fact of the matter is that salvation can only be acheived by total obedience to God. Therefore, Paul by contrasting the righteouss under the Law as compared with the righteousness that comes from faith was showing that this righteousness that comes from faith delivered what was obliged by Man under the Law; perfect law keeping and sinlessness. The sinless part was satisfied by Christ's passive obedience, while the law keepig part was satisfied by Christ's active obedience. Seen in this way therefore, Phil. 3:9 and Rom. 8:3-4 actually do not help the NCT position but rather undermines it.

Of course, the New Covenantal Theologians would ask for support for the Mosaic Law being taken into account here. Note however that Paul is the one who uses it, and a consistent reading of the text would show that Paul, the Pharisee and Hebrew of Hebrews, have that in mind when he penned those words down. The entire neglect of the Law is a result of the NCT position of the 'discontinuty of covenants' position, which we have already dispose of earlier on when discussing the Covenant of Works. Such Dispensational tendencies are certinaly not helpful and it is seriously doubted whether Paul have such thoughts when he mentioned the Law. Certinaly, he did not think that the Mosaic Law was obselete since he told the Judaizers that there can be saved through works, in the impossible event that they are perfect keepers of the Law that is (Gal. 3:10-11).

Lastly, let us discuss the text of 2 Cor. 5:21, the most explicit proof-text for the Active Obedience of Christ, and Double Imputation, outside of a consideration of the Covenant of Works. If the Covenant of Works, which we have already shown to be biblical, is added, then the Active Obedience of Christ is firmly grounded and self-evident, based on the parallel drawn between Adam and Christ in Rom. 5:12-21 and 1 Cor. 15:21-22. Nevertheless, let us now exegete 2 Cor. 5:21, to show that this verse does teach the Active Obedience of Christ and the doctrine of Double Imputation.

[to be concluded]

Defending the doctrine of Active Obedience against New Covenantal Theologians (part 2)

[continued from here]

The denial of the Active Obedience of Christ and also of the Covenant of Works is a result of a flawed hermeneutical method used by the New Covenantal Theologians Steve Lehrer and Geoff Volker. We would now look and analyze the verses used to support their position, to see whether their arguments against the two positions hold.

THE COVENANT OF WORKS

In this article, Lehrer and Volker treated the Covenant of Works almost as an afterthought, as they didn't make much of the topic. Nevertheless, they mention what they felt were key pointers in Scripture which occasion the rejection of this doctrine. In summary, they reject it because it is not found in the Bible, the word 'covenant' indicates discontinuity of which the Covenant of Works is not, and the word 'covenant' was never used to describe the relation between God and Adam in the Bible and such a theory is mere speculation.

First of all, contrary to their assertion, the Covenant of Works is abundantly found within the pages of Scripture. As I have shown in an earlier article, the Covenant of Works is implicitly stated in Scripture. Lehrer and Volker certainly did not dispute for example the argument that the elements of a covenant (parties, stipulation, promise, threat) were present. They disputed the rendering of Hosea 6:7 as talking about Adam as a person, or as talking about the covenant being with Adam, which is not supported exegetically. Regardless, we can concede that to them, since the Covenant of Works, and Covenant Theology, does not depend on only one single text for support. Nevertheless, this verse still stands as not been sufficiently addressed and the point still remains.

A fundamental issue with Lehrer and Volker is their view of the various biblical covenants being an indication of discontinuity. As stated, this is more in line with the views of Dispensationalism. Nevertheless, let's look and see whether such a view is supported by Scripture. Lehrer and Volker certainly did not defend this point of theirs in this article, which is regrettable. And it can be seen abundantly within the pages of Scripture just the opposite; that the biblical covenants indicate continuity in Scripture. For example, the Mosaic Covenant was made to the people of Israel as a continuation of the Abrahamic Covenant to bless them as God's Covenant people. And such continuity can be seen in the doctrines of grace, which the New Covenantal Theologians profess to believe. The Covenant of Grace runs throughout the entire history of the OT and the NT, and the entire history of the world. Most definitely, seen in that light, the Abrahamic Covenant with its promise that all the nations would be blessed through Abraham, and the Davidic Covenant of the eternal throne of David's line, would find fulfilment in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. And the New Covenant instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh certainly is the full revelation of the Covenant of Grace. Since that is so, what kind of discontinuity is possible with the introduction of the differing covenants? If the doctrine of grace with its attendant Covenant of Grace be admitted, how can anyone find any discontinuity in the covenants? Unless you are talking about surface differences, or difference in the way they are administered, but then if you use that, then virtually anything done in a different era would be a discontinuity. Since the worship of God before and after the exile was different (compare the worship of God during David's time with Solomon's time with Nehemiah's time), are there any true discontinuities? Or how about God's plague upon Israel for immorality (Num. 25:1-9) compared with God's seeming indifference (as in no direct punishment) against it later, especially in the times of prophets like Jeremiah and Isaiah? Was there a disconinuity then? We can thus see that the assertion that covenants mark discontinuity to be a position totally unsupported by Scripture.

Regarding the Covenant of Works being not described as a covenant, Lehrer and Volker concedes that even if is not being described as such in Scripture, the term is valid if it is taught in Scripture. However, since the concept of 'covenant' has an important place within theology, and they think that the Covenant of Works does not have ample evidence to warrent it being a covenant, thereby the term should not be used. Thus, they reject it being a covenant while labeling the central concept the "Principle of Works". So the question before us is whether it is truly a covenant. Certainly, their acknowledgement of the central concept and the various elements that make it a covenant, while renaming it the 'Principle of Work' is logically suspect. Most definitely, since the concept describes a covenant by definition, it is wrong to deny it being called a covenant; the only thing before us therefore is not whether it is or is not a covenant, but what part and importance does this covenant have in Scripture. To think otherwise is logically inconsistent, and would be analogous to saying that it is wrong to call Rick Warren a heretic even though it may be admitted that he denies the Gospel. Or to make it simpler, it would be to say that sodium chloride on a chemical bottle is not salt because the label on it contains the words 'Sodium Chloride'. Ridiculous.

So, for the importance of such a covenant, which is also tied in with the objection that such is theological speculation on par with 'What is the weather in heaven like', I would most definitely submit that this Covenant of Works is definitely not as unimportant or as speculative as the authors would have it to be. The parallels made between Christ and Adam, an important evidence for the Covenant of Works, seen in for example Rom. 5:12-21 clearly shows the importance and non-speculative nature of the doctrine. As Christ is the federal representative of the New Covenant, so was Adam of the Covenant of Works. The denial of the Covenant of Works therefore undermines the parallel being built between Christ and Adam, and thus of the nature of the New Covenant as well.

Seeing as to how much proof has been offered for the Covenant of Works, perhaps the only reason why such proofs are refused it because of the NCT (New Covenantal Theology) hermeneutic. More specifically, it is the denial of the theory of Necessary Consequence that would allow the authors to deny the Covenant of Works while embracing its concepts, and to insist that unless it is explicitly stated as such, and not being a necessary consequence. Logically, what they are asking for is that in the conditional 'If p then q', they would only admit it (q) as biblical if the Bible says 'q', but would not if the Bible says 'p'.

Thus having defended the doctrine of the Covenant of Works, let us look into their denial of the doctrine of Active Obedience, which suffers from the same error.

[to be continued]

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Defending the doctrine of Active Obedience against New Covenantal Theologians (part 1)

With the growth in the Reformed Baptist movement, and the corresponding adherance to New Covenantal Theology, problems have started to emerge. One of these is the denial of the imputation of the active obedience of Christ, thus espousing some sort of theory of single imputation only. In this missive, I will briefly address this issue, through a review of the article Examining the Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ — A Study in Calvinistic Sacred Cow-ism, by Steve Lehrer and Geoff Volker which can be found here, and the Appendix here.

Now, it must first be stated that not all Reformed and Particular Baptists believe in New Covenantal Theology, as distinguished here. Neither is it true that New Covenantal Theologians would necessarily go along with Lehrer and Volker in denying the Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ to believers. Nevertheless, it is my opinion that such a denial flows naturally from the hermeneutical framework of New Covenantal Theology (NCT), which I will address later, and therefore must be addressed.

The authors in this article of theirs argued against the concept of the active obedience of Christ, stating that it is unnecessary and superfluous. Along the way, they deny the Covenant of Works, with such a denial being one of the NCT distinctives anyway.

Now, it must first be acknowledged that the authors have posted a disclaimer to deflect criticism that they have jettisoned the Gospel. Although they reject the imputation of Christ's active obedience to our account, they maintain their belief in the pasive obedience of Christ upon the Cross. This doctrine of single imputation, while abberant, is not heretical and therefore we must not think that they have thrown out the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ altogether, although they have truly thrown out something important.

Unlike the approach of the authors, who approach the issue first from various isolated texts and then to the paradigm of Scripture, I think it is much better to approach the topic from the broader perspective of the overall paradigm of Scripture first. This is because the biblical grammatico-historical method of interpretation of the Scriptures is to interpret the entirety of Scripture by itself. Therefore, interpretation should be done using the whole 'picture' painted by the whole of Scripture, and this 'whole picture' would thus constitute the governing paradigm of Scripture. Therefore, the method of interpretation of Scripture is first to discern the overarching metanarrative or governing paradigm of Scripture, before looking at individual texts, especially when it comes to finer theological issues such as the ones currently under discussion.

And therefore, the first issue to be looked at is the doctrine of the Covenant of Works, which is a much broader theological issue than the doctrine of active obedience. The authors of the article have stated their belief that the proof texts and exegetical work supporting this theological doctrine of the Covenant of Works to be sparse, and strongly believe that Scripture is being used as a prop to hold up the system, instead of the system being derived from Scripture itself. In other words, the authors believe that Covenant Theology (of which the Covenant of Works is an important distinctive) is a Tradition (with a capital T) which functions as colored glases coloring the interpretation of Scripture of Covenantal Theologians to make it say what it does not actually say. However, is such a charge actually valid?

Before we look any further, we should look deeper and analyze the hermeneutical method utilized by the authors in particular, and New Covenantal Theologians in general.

HERMENEUTICAL METHODS

The hermeneutical method utilized in this article has various errors in it. If such a method is indeed the hallmark of NCT, then this is indeed very troubling. We have already mentioned one which is to interpret individual verses without a functional Scriptural paradigm and then utilizing insights supposedly gained from them to attempt to disprove one particular governing paradigm, Covenant Theology. To be fair to the authors, they do not think that there are any valid proof-texts for Covenant Theology as represented by the Covenant of Works, which will be disputed and shown to be false later. Nevertheless, that they move from discussing individual texts to a broader governing principle seems to suggest a violation of the grammatico-historical hermeneutical grid, especially since the texts do not have anything whatsoever to do with the broader governing principle of the Covenant of Works. Also, it is not as if nothing whatsoever has been written about the subject, and Scripture verses have not been utilized by Covenant Theologians to support the theological paradigm of Covenant Theology. Therefore, a failure to interact with even the verses used to support the Covenant of Works (I'm not a stickler for interactions with human works and interpretations, but verses from the Bible? That should be the least required) does not suggest that the authors have at least shown that they have rejected the governing principle of the Covenant of Works by its Scriptural merits or demerits.

The failure to construct or just state any governing paradigm by the authors (important especially since they are critiquing another governing paradigm) also suggests a rather disjointed method of interpreting Scripture, as if Scripture has no one governing paradigm or that if there is, it is non-uniform. This is much more similar to the hermeneutical method of Dispensationalism than it is to Scripture. Of course, the authors can always question whether there is such a thing as ONE governing paradigm, and their statement that "Scripture uses the term [covenant], almost witout exception, to illustrate discontinuity" seems to show that they do deny the existance of ONE governing paradigm of Scripture. We would examine this statement later, but clearly, how can the assertion that there be no ONE governing paradigm stand in the light of Scripture? We can see how the various biblical themes run within the entirety of Scripture, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the theme of salvation, whereby salvation was initiated before the foundation of the world within the Godhead, and historically initiated at the time of the Fall as seen in the proto-Evangel in Gen. 3:15 (which is in the first book of the Bible), and is consumated in the last book of the Bible (Revelation) in the coming of Christ and the new heavens and the new earth. Clearly, there is in some sense a governing paradigm within Scripture. It may of course be objected that the paradigm may be uniform mostly, but discontinuous in the 'minor' or detailed parts, but then there is no Scriptural proof for that, nor for the distinction as to which parts are 'major' and which 'minor'. Using the descriptive narrative to prove which parts are 'minor' by showing discontinuity is just not going to work, in the same way as to why it is wrong to prove God actually repents because the narrative account states Him as doing so (Open Theism).

As one reads the article, one can see the strange manner of how the authors interpret Scripture. They seem to be strict literalists, as they refuse to connect and string various Scriptural truths unless there is explicit mention of such a linkage named and described in Scripture. For example, they believe in the basic concepts of the Covenant of Works but refuse to name it a covenant because they Scripture does not so name it (besides Hosea 6:7 in which they dispute the rendering). In the Q&A section at the end of their article, they wrote:

Q: Do you mean to say that you actually need a specific text from the bible to establish a biblical doctrine or practice?

A Yes. For if by "establish a biblical doctrine or practice" you are saying that this is something God wants me to believe or do, then you must have the clear and unambiguous witness of Scripture to back that up. If you don’t have a text from scripture to establish your view, you have no word from God and therefore no view worth defending.

Such strict literalism leads us to the next error which the authors fall into: the denial of the Scriptural-ness of valid logical deductions from Scripture; the theory of necessary consequence. In fact, this is by far the governing principle of their exegesis, thus leading to believing in specific 'local' doctrines while denying their logical conclusions. Thus, they can say that they believe in the Principle of Works (which comprise the 'local' doctrines in the Covenant of Works without it being termed a covenant ('global'), with all the logical conclusions that follow) but not the Covenant of Works.

To such, I would just state plainly that such a practice is inherently wrong and is in fact anti-Scriptural, though it is perfectly fitted for the irrational times we live in. Christ is the Logos (Jn. 1:1) and to hate logic; misology, in theology is therefore demeaning to Christ. This denial of the theory of Necessary Consequence is thus irrational and unbiblical (as well as against the Wesminster Confession of Faith). That NCT as expressed in the authors' rejection of the Covenant of Works and the Active Obedience of Christ involved such a denial immediately cast a shadow over the entire enterprise, so to speak.

The NCT hermeneutic as seen in this article thus suffers from 3 major errors: 1) Rejection of an overarching theological paradigm by appeal to isolated texts; reversal of interpretive direction, 2) Denial of or ignoring the application of ONE hermeneutical matrix for all of Scripture, and 3) Denial of the theory of Necessary Consequence. Such major faults in hermeneutics would have consequences, which can be seen in the various doctrinal errors in the article by Lehrer and Volker, which we shall now turn to.

[to be continued]

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The roots and fruits of the New Apostolic Reformation

Here is a very good article by Pastor Bob DeWaay on the deception called the New Apostolic Reformation. This is especially needful in Singapore since a lot of these false prophets and apostles are popular here. And the main reaons why I am definitely against Charismatism in Singapore is because almost all Charismatic churches or charismatic-influenced churches here are involved in this heretical movement. When my former church transited from a traditional to a charismatic church, the leaders openly embraced the New Apostolic movement, with all the talk about 'prayer warfare', 'spiritual mapping' etc. Been there, done that. And I can testify from personal experience that growing deeper into that movement destroys the personal walk of the believer and makes him more and more alienated from God. So please do avoid this heretical movement.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

On the Covenant of Works (Amended)

Well, after a break, I think it is good to go back to the topic of the Covenant of Works. In my review of a Piper sermon on Rom. 2:6-10, I have touched a little bit on the Covenant of Works, as I am certain that contrary to Piper's assertion, Rom. 2:6-10 is a restatement of the Covenant of Works, and flows much smoother than read that way in its context rather than to read it as believers fulfiling those conditions by works done through faith (a dangerous proposition indeed bordering on Romanist synergistic soteriology).

With this brief introduction, I would like to go deeper into this topic; to indeed show that the Covenant of Works is indeed biblical. In fact, I hope to show that not only it is biblical, denial of it logically undermines the foundation for the doctrine of the free grace of God, and thus showing it to be an important (though non-cardinal) doctrine indeed.

In Robert Reymond's A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith[1], Reymond states the Covenant of Works this way:

... it [the covenant between God and Adam] is called either a covenant of works ([Westminster] Confession of Faith, VII/ii; XIX/i) or a covenant of life ([Westminster] Larger Catechism, Question 20; Shorter Catechism, Question 12), the former chaterization emphasizing that the confirmation in righteousness which God would give Adam upon the latter's successful sustaining of his probationary test He would necessarily give to Adam in justice and that what Adam would receive he would receive as reward or merit for his obedience, the latter characterization specifying the nature of the reward which Adam and his posterity would receive if he obeyed God. (p. 431)

Reymond further defends the concept of the existence of the Covenant of Works in the few pages in this book of his against various attacks. The first thing he does is to show the concept from Scripture, and this he did excellently. First, he showed that the Hebrew word for covenant does not have to be present for a covenant to be present (the Davidic Covenant in 2 Sam. 7 cf Ps. 89:19-37). Secondly, the covenant elements (parties, stipulation, promise, and threat) are present. Thirdly, he defended the traditional rendering of Hosea 6:7 on exegetical grounds to show that it reads that Adam transgressed the covenant. And fourthly, he shows that the New Testament parallels between Adam and Christ (especially in Rom. 5) imply that just as Christ was the federal (foedus: covenant) representative of the New Covenant, so also Adam acted as a federal representative of a covenant arrangement (p. 430).

All of this are solid reasons for the existance of a covenant arrangement between God and Adam before the Fall, and the fourth reason should have the most persuasiveness among Evangelicals who tend to focus more on the New Testament, and especially so since the Apostle Paul stated it so clearly in the book of Romans (chapter 5). Therefore, exegetically, there should be no contest as to the existance of the Covenant of Works between God and Adam.

Reymond uses the works of Daniel P. Fuller as a foil as one which seeks to undermine the existance of the Covenant of Works. Noting that Fuller sees grace in God's dealings with Adam, insisting upon a 'continuum' of divine grace in all God's dealings, Reymond shows that Fuller, for all his talk about grace, actually "winds up with true grace nowhere and a kind of works principle everywhere" (p. 431). This is definitely true, since if grace is everywhere, then the differances between the efficacy of various 'graces' must lie in something else which is not grace (i.e. the instrumentality of faith, and faith as a human autonomous work). Although Reymond concedes that Fuller is quick to point out that "such good works are not meritorius" (p. 431), this just shows that an insistance on grace everywhere logically leads to the denial of the Reformation principle of Sola Fide. Just because Fuller refuses to be consistent with the logical direction of his theologizing does not make such an error less dangerous.

Reymond later touches a bit further on the 'Fuller approach', quoting Meradith G. Kline who showed that the Fuller/Norman Sherpherd theology, consistently developed, would result in the fact that

... the work of obedience performed by Jesus Christ did not merit a verdict of justification from his Father. The justification of the second Adam was not then according to the principle of works in contrast to grace, but rather found its explanation in the operation of a principle involving some sort of grace — a grace required because of the inadequacy of Christ's work to satisfy the claims of justice. (quoted in p. 432)

And this indeed is devastating to the doctrine of justification. Reymond correctly states that "if Christ's obedience has no meritorius value, neither has a penal substitution been made for our sins nor is there a preceptive righteousness available to be inputed to us' (p. 433). It is also interesting to note that Kline has made a similar observation regarding the denial of the Covenant of Works. Building on the parallel between Adam and Christ as the Second Adam, I have combined it with elements of Christology as previously written,

If truly indeed the Covenant of Works does not exist, then Jesus could not himself merit eternal life while living on earth, and thus he is in some sort of salvation limbo as with regards to his humanity. Is anyone going to seriously say that Jesus did not merit salvation with his sinless life; that Jesus because of His bearing a human nature cannot go into heaven unless He Himself died on the Cross to earn salvation for his human nature? Yet, that is what the denial of the active obedience of Christ, and to a lesser extent the Covenant of Works, will lead to. If righteousness can only come to Man via the death of Jesus on the Cross, then Jesus with regards to His humanity must also be redeemed via the Cross, which is a blasphemous notion indeed.

Enough has been said to prove the existance and importance of the Covenant of Works. Now what is the relation between the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace?

The Covenant of Grace is often used to describe the historical expression of the covenant that God the Father made with God the Son to save the elect before the foundation of the world (the Covenant of Redemption), in the entire plan of salvation running throughout Scripture, promising eternal life to all who believe in Jesus Christ by grace through faith. That such a covenant exist is exceedingly plain from Scripture and is automatically included when the topic of Election and Predestination is believed upon. As such, there is no contest, at least within Calvinists, as to the existance of the Covenant of Grace. Less discussed is the relation between the Covenant of Grace and the Covenant of Works. However, as I will show, they are actually logically connected. Without the Covenant of Works, the Covenant of Grace would be less stable in its foundation.

Now, the reason why this is so is along the same line as to how Reymond states why Fuller is in error. Without the Covenant of Works, there is a logical deficiency in the Covenant of Grace. Besides the undermining of the active imputation of Christ' righteousness to our account, as we have shown earlier, a more fundamental problem is that denial of the Covenant of Works undermines the justice of God in His dealings with Man. How can Man be said to fall foul of the justice of God when the Covenant of Works is denied? (Yes, you can do based on Scripture; what I am saying is that it is illogical for these biblical texts to be there if you do deny the Covenant of Works)

Of concern also is with regards to God being the author of evil; in the sense that He is culpable for it. For if the Covenant of Works is denied, then God is not fair towards Man. Yes, God does not need to be fair; if He is fair, we ought to all go to hell in judgment. That however does not solve how God can be said to not be culpable for evil, seeing how is it that no one is given a chance. It can of couse be 'resolved' by semantics (by definition, what God does is good and not evil), by postulating secondary causes, which are all legitimate. However, the problem is not well resolved. If the Covenant of Works is believed upon, it is sincerely believed that a stronger case could be built to show that God is not culpable of evil (author of evil), since God has given everybody a sincere chance, and it is hypothetically achievable but for the fact that we have all sinned in Adam as our covenant representative.

In conclusion, we can see the importance and the Scriptural proof for the Covenant of Works. Although not cardinal, nor even important on the surface, the logical implications of this doctrine has shown it to undergird and support many other important doctrines. As such, let us learn of it and hold to it, even when the New Covenantal Theologians in ignorance try to get rid of it.


REFERENCES:

[1] Robert L. Reymond (1998), A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 2nd Ed., Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Loony Liberals and Feminists

Look at this article:

A “Gay Man” Trapped in a Woman’s Body and Other Nonsense

Truly, Liberalism, with its attendent philosophy of Homofascism and Feminism, is a social and mental disorder, but what can you expect from depraved, unregenerate Man anyway?

Article: Rick Warren counsels Jews on Recruiting Congregants

Read this. Can we say abomination? After all, which true Christian pastor will help non-believing "faith communities" grow?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Calvin's Institutes: Election - Contrary texts?

[Continued on from here]

After showing how Calvin dealts with the issue of Election and Reprobation, let us look into how he deals with some so-called 'Arminian proof-texts', which the synergists read as a proof-text against Calvinism.

The first 'proof-text' to analyze is that of Ez. 18:23. Here is the verse:

Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?

On the surface, this seems to show that God does not in any way declared the death of any single person. However, that is to read into the text. Calvin maintains that "God is undoubtably ready to pardon whenever the sinner turns. Therefore, he does not will his death, in some far as he wills repentance" (Calvin, Institutes, Vol. 2, p. 254). Calvin further states:

Let us therefore hold the doctrine of the prophet, that God has no pleasure in the death of the sinner: that the godly may feel comfortable that whnever they repent God is ready to pardon them; and that the wicked may feel their guilt doubled, when they respond not to the great mercy and condescension of God. The mercy of God, therefore, will ever be ready to meet the petinent; but all the prophets, and apostles, and Ezekiel himself, clearly tell us who they are to whom repentance is given. (Institutes, p. 254)

Of course, such may seem confusing to some. Clearly Calvin is of the opinion that this command and plea is effective only for those who do repent. However, how this is seen from the text is not clearly seen. Perhaps it would help us to see that God is here showing his pleasure in repentance of people, and thus repentance as a virtue is here stated. Therefore, sinners are here told to avail of the promise of God that since God regards repentance as a virtue which leads to eternal life, they should therefore repent and thus live. Such an exhortation would thus be seen to consistently fit in with the context and the nature of that plea in Ez. 18:23; that sinners are exhorted to repent and turn back to God.

The next passage to look at is 1 Tim. 2:4, where is is written:

who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

This is an evern easier 'proof-text' to dispose of, because as Calvin mentions,

[Paul] had commnded Timothy that prayers should be regularly offered up in the church for kings and princes; but as it seemed somewhat absurd that prayer should be offered up for a class of men who were almost hopeless (all of them being not only aliens from the body of Christ, but doing their utmost to overthrow His Kingdom), he adds, that it was acceptable to God who will have all men to be saved. By this he assuredly means nothing more than that the way of salvation was not shut against any order of men; ... (Institutes, p. 255. Bold added, Red lettering indicate added clarification texts)

And lastly, with regards to 2 Peter 3:9,

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Calvin here treat this text similarly to how he treats Ez. 18:23. This may be a possibility. However, as for me, I think a better interpretation of this passage would be follow John Owen in his Death of Death in the Death of Christ who interprets this passage within the context of the letter as talking about the elect, as in God not willing that he wished all the elect to come to repentance in Christ Jesus before the Last Day of Judgment.

In conclusion, we have disposed of these so-called 'Arminian proof-texts', as showing that they actually mean something differen and more consistent with their contexts, and in actuallity not promoting the Arminian error of Universal Atonement.

Calvin's Institutes: Election and Reprobation

I have finally gotten to the section of Calvin's Institutes dealing with the topic of Election and Reprobation, being found in Chapters XXI-XXIV in Book Three of Calvin's Institutes (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, tr. by Henry Beveridge, Eerdmans, Vol. 2, pp. 202-258).

Contrary to what some people may say, Calvin did not seem apologetic or terrified of the doctrine of election and reprobation. Those who say so probably are relying on secondary sources which distort Calvin's message. Neither is Calvin apologetic about the doctrine of reprobation, as if it were a pity that the reprobates are not saved. Here are some excerpts from Calvin's Institutes to that regard:

For Scripture is the school of the Holy Spirit, in which as nothing useful and necessary to be known has been omitted, so nothing is taught but what it is of importance to know. Everything, therefore, delivered in Scripture on the subject of predestination, we must beware of keeping from the faithful lest we seem eithern maliciously to deprive them of the blessing of God, or to accuse and scoff at the Spirit, as having divulged what ought on any account to be suppressed. (Chapt. XXI, p. 205)

All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestined to life or to death. (Chapt XXI, p. 206)

If election precedes that divie grace by which we are made fit to obtain immortal life, what can God find in us to induce Him to elect us? What I mean is still more clearly explained in another passage: God, says he, "hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we might be holy andwithout blame before Him in love: having predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will" (Eph. i: 4,5). Here he opposes the good pleasure of God to our merits of every description.

... By saying that they were elected before the foundation of the word, He takes away all reference to worth. For what ground of distinction was there between persons who existed not, and persons who were afterwards like them to exist in Adam? But if they were elected in Christ, it follows not only that each was elected on some extrinsic ground, but that some were placed on a different footing from others, since we see that all are not members or Christ. In the additional statement that they were elected that they might be holy [Rom. 8:29], the apostle openly refutes the error of those who deduce election from prescience [philosophical foreknowledge], since he declares that whatever virtue appears in men is the result of election. Then, if a higher cause is asked, Paul answers that God so predestined, and predestined according to the good pleasure of His will. By these words, he overturns all the grounds of election which men imagine to exist in themselves. (Chapt XXII, p. 214)

... "For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election mightstand, not of works, but of Him that calleth; it was said unto her [Rebecca[, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated" (Rom. ix. 11-13). If foreknowledge had anything to do with this distinction of the brothers, the mention of time would have been out of place. Granting that Jacob was elected for a worth to be obtained by future virtues, to what end did Paul say that he was not yet born? Nor would there have been any occasion for adding that as yet he has done no good, because the answer was always ready, that nothing is hid from God, and that therefore the piety of Jacob was present before Him. If works procure favour, a value ought to have been put upon them before Jacob was born, just as if he has been of full age. But in explaining the difficulty, the Apostle goes on to show, that the adoption of Jacob proceeded not on works but on the calling of God. (Chapt. XXII, p. 216)

We come now to the reprobate, to whom the Apostle at the same time refers (Rom. ix. 13). For as Jacob, who as yet had merited nothing by any good works, is assumed into favour; so Esau, while as yet unpolluted by any crime, is hated. If we turn over our view to works, we do injustice to the Aspotle, as if he has failed to see the very thing which is clear to us. Moreover, there is complete proof of his not having seen it, since he expressly insists that when as yet they had done neither good nor evil, the one was elected, the other rejected, in order to prove that the foundation of divine predestination is not in works. Then after starting the objection, Is God unjust? instead of employing what would have been the surest and plainest defense of his wickedness — he is contented with a different solution — viz, that the reprobate are expressly raise up, in order that the glory of God may thereby be displayed. At last, he concludes that God hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth (Rom. ix. 18). You see how he refers both to the mere pleasure of God Therefore, if we cannot assign any reason for his bestowing mercy on his people, but just that it so pleases him, neither can we have any reason for his reprobating other but His will. When God is said to visit in mercy or harden whom He will, men are reminded that they are not to seek for any cause beyond His will. (Chapt. XXII, p. 223-224)

We have already been told that hardening is not less under the immediate hand of God than mercy. (Chapt XXIII, p. 226)

Therefore, when it is asked, why the Lord did so, we must answer, Because He pleased. But if you prceed farther to ask why he pleased, you ask for something greater and more sublime than the will of God, and nothing such can be found. (Chapt. XXIII, p. 227)

Accordngly, when we are accosted in such terms as there, Why did God from the first predestine some to death, when, as they were yet in existence, they could not have merited sentence of death? let us by way of reply ask in our turn, Wha do you imagine that God owes to man, if he is not pleased to estimate him by his own nature? As we are all vitiated by sin, we cannot but be hateful to God, and that not from tyrannical cruelty, but the strictest justice. But if all whom the Lord predestne to death are naturally liable to sentence of death, of what injustice, pray, do they complain? ... If all are taken from a corrupt mass, it is not strange that all are subject to condemnation. (Chapt. XXIII, p. 228)

Here they recur to the distinction between will and permission, the object being to prove that the wicked perish only by the permission, but not the will of God. But why do we say that He permits, but just because he wills? ... as if God has not determined what He wished the condition of the chief of his creatures to be. I will not hesistate, therefore, simply to confess with Augustine that the will of God is necessity, and that everything is necessary whch Hs has willed; just as those things will certainly happen which He has foreseen (August. de Gen. ad Lit., Lib. vi. cap. 15) (Chapt. XXIII, p. 232)

First, the sense in which Scripture declares that God is not an acceptor of persons, is different from that which they suppose: since the term person means not man, but those things which, when conspicuous in a man, either procure favou, grace, and dignity, or, on the contrary, produce hatred, contempt, and disgrace. ... It is asked, how is it happens that of two, between whom there is no difference of merit, God in His election adopts the one, and passes by the other? I in my turn, ask, Is there anything in him who is adopted to incline to God towards him? If it must be confessed that there is nothing, it will follow, that God looks not to the man, but is influenced entirely by His own goodness to do him good. Therefore, when God elects one and reject another, it is oweing not to any respect to the individual, but entirely to His own mercy, which is free to dislay and exert itself when and where He pleases. ... so far is God in the exercise of His favour from showing any respect to persons. (Chapt. XXIII, p. 234)

Christ, then, is the mirror in which we ought, and in which, without deception, we may contemplate our election. For since it is into His body that the Father has decreed to ingraft those whom from eternity He wished to be His, that He may regard as sons all whom He acknowledges to be His members, if we are in communion with Christ, we have proof sufficiently clear and strong that we are written in the Book of Life. (Chapt. XXIV, p. 244)

For while we maintain that none perish without deserving it, and that is is owing to the free goodness of God that some are delivered, enough has been said for the display of His glory; there is not the least occasion for our cavilling. The Supreme Disposer then makes way for His own predestination, when depriving those who He has reprobated of the communication of His light, He leaves them in blindness. (Chapt. XXIV, p. 251)

[John Calvin, Institutes, Bold added, Red lettering indicate added clarification texts]

On p. 205, it can be seen that Calvin thought that the doctrine of Election is not to be kept hidden from God's people. Echoing 2 Tim. 3:16-17, he thought it neccessary to teach these doctrines, adding that not to do so would deprive God's peole of blessings, and that would accuse the Spirit of revealing what should not be revealed. Following that, in p. 206, Calvin states the doctrine of double predestination, stating that God has both predestine people to life and others to death. Further on in p. 232, Calvin states that it is ridiculous to state that reprobation is bare permission, as if God was not in control of it somehow. And in p. 226, Calvin sumarized this argument by stating that God is personally involved in Election and Reprobation.

With regards to election, in p. 214, Calvin showed from Scripture that Election is not basd on any foreseen merit, since in Rom. 8:29 we are told that we are elected/ predestined to be holy, therefore all virtue must come because we are elected, not the other way round. Summarizing this part, in p. 227, Calvin teaches that the reason why we are elected to eternal life is that God is pleased to do so.

Along the same vein, in p. 216, 223-224, Calvin showed how the apostle Paul handled the opposition to the doctrine of election and reprobation. In Rom. 9, instead of saying that Esau was hated and reprobated because of his evil, Paul seemingly went off in a tangent by stating that the reprobate are raised up for the expression of the glory of God. From the mention of the mention of time and the emphasis on the babies (Jacob and Esu) being not yet born, yet one was loved and the other hated, Calvin showed that only an election and reprobation not based on works or anything in the person makes sense, otherwise the mention of time is out of place.

Now, although Calvin taught reprobation, he never taught that God actively make people reprobates. In p. 228 and 251, Calvn states that the reprobates deserve their punishment, that they are naturally liable to sentence of death and that they are already blind, thus God did not make people who are God lovers into God haters. This has always been a strawman made up by Arminians, Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians. The decree of Reprobation is indeed personal, since God wills it, yet He wills it in such a manner, passively, that the reprobates were already God haters and thus God did not make them sinners, only to leave them to their sin.

In answer to the objection that such a doctrine would make God a respector of persons, contrary to God's express command in Jas. 2:1 not to do such a thing and thus God would be seen to violate His own law, Calvin shows in p. 234 how this actually means, within its context, that this refers to things about the person which make them differ, of which the context makes it plain that this is what the apostle James was saying all along. However, God is truly not a respector of person even in election and reprobation, since the reason why he elects one and not the other is not based on anything within the person, but purely because of His good pleasure, and hence God does not contradict Himself.

Lastly, Calvin in p. 244 shows that we should not be enquiring into whether we are elected or not. Since Christians are elected into Christ, the question that we should be asking ourselves is whether we are in Christ. If we are elected, we would be in Christ, and therefore knowing that we are in communion with Christ will answer the former question. As such, those who make much regarding whether they are elected or not fail to understand the doctrine of Election fully, to their spiritual detriment.

In the next installment, we would carry on with looking into three texts which Calvin tackled, which all synergists abuse in an attempt to refute the doctrine of election and reprobation; namely Ez. 18:23 and 1 Tim. 2:4, and also 2 Peter 3:9.

Christmas Special: Celebrating Christmas, or X'mas?

And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” — Mk. 11:15-17

This Christmas season, even as we celebrate Christmas, I believe it is imperative that we refocus on what is important. While the rest of the world treats this as holiday and a time of merry making and shopping, what should our focus and attitude be as Christians?

In the passage of Mk. 11:15-17, we read of the account of Jesus cleansing the temple. In this passage, Jesus entered the temple, and was filled with righteous indignation at what was going on within it. While the temple was supposed to a place for prayer to God, Jesus found a marketplace thriving within the temple courts. Instead of prayer, commerce prevails, and Mammon is King. Such prostitution and desecration of the place of worship incurs the wrath of Jesus, who overturned the tables of the merchants there and stopped the entire commercial endeavor in its tracks. Jesus likened this enterprise to making the house of God into a 'den of robbers', castigating the people involved.

One immediate application can be immediately seen is that we should not allow anything which is of the world; any commercial interest to be present within the church. Church should be a place for prayer and worship, and fellowship, NOT for networking, marketing, and definitely not the selling of insurances. Whoever does any of these things ought to repent immediately of profaning the house of God by such activities of theirs.

Another point of application which more pertains to this season is with regards to the focus of our hearts during this season. As Christmas approaches, which is supposed to be a celebration of the birth of our Lord, we ought to prepare our hearts to worship Him. As such, the celebration of Christmas ought to be marked by worship of the One who came 2000 years ago through His incarnate birth to be our Savior, to save us from the wrath of God against sinners such as us. This is totally incompatible with the world's celebration of X'mas, with their carnal celebration of a holiday without Christ, or shopping and more shopping, and of Christmas trees and Santa Claus and presents upon presents. We as the sons and daughters of God should have no part in such carnality. We ought not to introduce and mix the profane things of this world with the sacred things of our God.

Therefore, as the season approaches and is now upon us, let us examine our hearts. Are we ready to worship Christ and remember his Incarnation? Or are we caught up in the preparations common to the world? Do we celebrate Christmas, or X'mas? Perhaps it would be instrumental for us to remove all the so-called Christmas decorations, and instead focus on the things which are truly important; the conditions of our hearts before our Lord.

Prayer: Lord, please help us during this season of Christmas. Help us, O Father, to remember the sending of Your son Jesus Christ 2000 years ago, and the purpose of His coming. May we meditate on Your great love towards us, that You have send us Your Son to die for our sins, in order that we might be saved from Your fiery wrath poured against us sinners. Give us this heart of quiet meditation to meditate on Your truths, and may we not be caught up in the world's profane and carnal celebration of X'mas. Help us also, Lord, to be ready to give an answer to all whom we meet this season, to tell them of the Good News of Your Son, to show them the true reason for the Season. In Jesus' name, we pray, Amen.

Satire

Here are some nice satirical articles from TBNN:

Advertisement: The Nokia 1611, The Only Phone You'll Ever Need

Church Christmas Bonuses Based on Number of Souls Won

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Video: Homosexuals are the real bigots

Here is a good message from Dr. Alan Cairns of the Free Presbyterian Church of North America on the subject of homosexuals bigots.

I guess it is time to start exposing the homofascists for what they are. It is time to expose their wicked, perverse and hypocritical strategy of claiming to be the victims of hate while hating, defaming and attacking those who disagree with them.

And I agree with Dr. Cairns. "No one who practices homosexuality can be saved. He may repent from his sins and be delivered from his pervasion by saving grace, ... , [but] he cannot hold on to his homosexuality and be a Christian". And this applied equally to lesbians too, for those egalitarians who are complementarian-impaired.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Song: A Broken Spirit

On the heels of the posts on worship with regards to Exclusive Psalmody, I would like to offer up a beautiful, meaningful modern song primarily based on Ps. 51:17. Just for the record, here is Ps. 51:17

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

And here is the song:

A BROKEN SPIRIT
by Marty Nystrom, Don Harris © 1993 Integrity’s Hosanna Music

A broken spirit, and a contrite heart
You will not depise, You will not despise
You desire truth in the inward parts
A broken spirit and a contrite heart

Lord my heart is prone to wonder
Prone to leave the Lord I love
Here's my heart,
Lord, take and seal it
Seal it for Your courts above

I love this song. Too many times my heart have wandered from my Lord, and truly we need to constantly go back to Him in brokenness and contriteness, repenting of our sins against Him who is pefectly pure and holy, and would not tolerate even a speck of sin.

Article: Death threats can't stop her from being a Christian

This article ought to put us to shame. An iman's daughter in UK is threatened with death by her family and yet she remains firm in her faith, resolved that she is not afraid to die for her Lord.

On Pastor Alexey Ledyaev (part 2)

[continued from here]

And so, we come to Alexey Ledyaer's handling of Scripture to prop up his Neo-Apostolic Dominonism.

Ledyaer wrote:

When Jesus was coming into Jerusalem, the people cried out “Hosanna”, tore off their garments, and spread them on the road before the coming King. But Jesus wept…

Why?

Oh but because the revival “from below” is a temporary and fragile phenomenon.

When people with so little impact on the society cry out “Hosanna” to Jesus, it’s not bad. But for some reason He is sad and even weeping.

Why?

Oh but because in this exultant multitude He couldn’t notice officials, deputies, ministers and representatives of the supreme authority. They have kept aloof. Tomorrow they will drown this revival in blood, because the power is in their hands.

God’s plan is to bring the revival “from the top”; then it will not be bogged down in couple of years.

Such is a complete misrepresentation of the biblical narrative. Let's look at the reason why Jesus said that he wept:

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” (Lk. 19:41-44)

As the biblical narrative states, the reason why Jesus wept is because the Jews and specifically Jerusalem did not realize that her King is visiting her. And as judgment against the Jews and Jerusalem in general for rejecting their King, the city was destined for destruction, which was aoomplished by the Romans in 70AD. Nowhere is it stated that the reason why Jesus wept is because the leaders were going to "drown this revival in blood", with the only blood being shed later being that of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was destined to die on the Cross for our sins anyway, not lead some great revival in history!

Ledyaer carries on with a total misrepresentation of the text of Scripture in 1 Ki. 18:1 concerning the command to the prophet Elijah. Far from that being an example of how the "river of prophetic annointing will flow in presidents' offices", the fact of the matter is that Elijah was not employed by King Ahab nor was he his personal prophet such that "the prophetic annointing flow" in Ahab's office palace. Elijah was hated by King Ahab, and although God and Elijah won in the battle at Mount Carmel, the evil queen Jezebel attempted to hunt down Elijah to kill him later. Even more fatal to such a comparison was that the Northern Kingdom of Israel, although a monarchy and have long turned apostate, as the Old Testament Church is analogous only to the New Testament Church. As such, Elijah's dealings with Ahab cannot be transferred over to the Church's dealings with secular leaders, as Israel was under obligation to obey God, or face Covenantal curses.

The Eschaton features quite heavily in this article, and although I would prefer not to comment on it, it seems that Ledyaer has no qualms doing so. He quotes a lot of verses talking about how every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is God, of course conveniently ignoring that such will only be fulfilled when Christ comes back in the Final Judgment.

Ledyaer continues:

The task of church is to divide the light from the darkness, the grain from the tares, the sheep from the goats.

Really? I must have miss this in my Bible. According to the Scriptures, Jesus in His parable of the weeds (Mt. 13:24-30) says that He Himself will do it on the Final Judgment. The Church's job is not to divide the grain from the tares, but only to judge the profession and life of Christians by their fruits (Mt. 7:20), and not for the sole purpose of exposing them, but to correct them, and if not possible, to protect the Church against their perverse influence, which is something very different from dividing the grain from the tares (a heart issue).

Ledyaer then misuses the example of Paul's confrontation with the false Jewish prophet Bar-Jesus in Act 13:4-12, to make it some sort of normative behavior for Christians to advise government leaders. Such is most definitely an eisegesis of the text, for the text made it plain that Paul rebuke and judge Bar-Jesus not because they wanted to convert the proconsul. First of all, Paul and Barnabas did not invite themselves to the proconsul, but were summoned by him (Act. 13:7). Secondly, Paul rebuke and pass judment on Bar-Jesus only after he seek to turn the proconsul from the faith. Therefore, the focus of this encounter was not that we should go around seeking to rebuke and remove the non-Christian advisors and take ther place, or to reunite church with state, as Ledyaer would have us believe. In fact, the fact that Paul and Barnabas did not decide to either stay or send another Christian to relace the now blinded Elymas as his advisor speaks volumes about the eisegetical error of Ledyaer in interpreting this particular passage.

The example of Daniel's three friends in the fiery furnace resulting in Nebuchadnezzar praising God and ordering no one who blasphemed God to be left unpunished (Dan. 3:8-30), and the examples of King Darius and King Ahasuerus (book of Esther) are used by Ledyaer to prove that the "The dialogue between church and state will revive and transfigure the latter beyond recognition". However, this is false. All of such changes are of the Lord's doing, not the Church's doing. What the people did were to remain steadfast and commit their lives to God as a witness to Him, not to have a "dialogue between church and state". Ledyaer would very welll read the texts himself to know that it is God who does the work and that for a specific purpose, and Him alone, not the Church.

And now, I would like to close off with a final remark by Ledyaer.

If Jesus is the head of church, then His dominating position in the world is a legitimate position of church.

Such form of reasoning is utterly ridiculous. Using such a trajectory, can we say that since Jesus is the head of the Church, His position as the Mediator between God and Man in the world is a legitimate position of the Church? That of course would be blasphemy, in setting up other christs like what the Romanists do with their priests being Alter Christus (another Christ).

Thus, in conclusion, we have seen Ledyaer's seeming embrace of the "river" concept, and have refuted his embrace of Instituional Redemption, which resulted in his twisted methodoloy of "revival from the top down". We have also seen how it leads to Dominionism and the likely formation of a Church-state reminiscent of Roman Catholicism during its heyday before the Reformation. Also, Ledyaer has been shown to misinterpret the Scriptures to teach and/or support his own pet doctrines. As such, Ledyaer is not to be trusted spiritually. He is a Neo-Apostolic Domionist and such teaching of his is heresy. May God help us that we would not fall into the heretical positions he advocates.

On Pastor Alexey Ledyaev (part 1)

Recently, a friend of mine asked me with regards to one person Alexey Ledyaer, who is said to lead one New Generation Church. I haven't heard about this person, so I decided to google his name and see what I could garner. What I found was rather interesting. You can read about his church here on Wikipedia. While not authoritative, the information there generally tends to be correct. Furthermore, the Latvian's church website can be seen here and the site for the American church in Sprinfield, Massachusetts can be seen here. (Alexei's own biography can be read here) From there, we can see that Ledyaer believes that his church has an "apostolic mandate" and from the looks of it, Alexey (or Alexei) Ledyaer is the de facto pope of his network of New Generation churches.

Seraching for further data will reveal that Ledyaer have beliefs that are very similar to that held to by the Third-Wave New Apostolic Reformation; people made up of "Apostle" C. Peter Wagner, "Apostle" Ed Silvoso, "Intercessor" Cindy Jacobs, "Apostle" Dutch Sheets etc. In an article posted on his US church's website, which is based on his most famous book New World Order, Ledyaer displays two distinctive Neo-Apostolic doctrines, the notion of a 'river' and 'revival from the top down' with its promotion of the related doctrine of what I call Institutional Redemption, as defined in my review of Ed Silvoso's sermon.

Here is what Ledyaer says about the concept of River:

All rivers flow into the sea. Admit it or not, but that’s the way God created this world. This is the law. The intrusion of Christian outlook into the deep waters of any society’s political, social, economical and spiritual life is however just as natural.

The rivers of living water are a strategic revelation for the intrusion of the Kingdom of God into the territory of our unsettled cursed world.

The usage of the word 'river' here is problematic. Of obvious reason is that its usage in charismatic circles (read Neo-Apostolic and Latter Rain charismatic circles) refers to a river of blessing purportedly symbolizing revival, probably being dervied partly from the prophetic text found in Ez. 47:1-12 , and which can be seen in this song by Andy Park of Vineyard (© 1997 Mercy/Vineyard Publishing):

Down the mountain the river flows
And it brings refreshing wherever it goes
Through the valleys and over the fields
The river is rushing and the river is here

Chorus:

The river of God sets our feet a-dancing
The river of God fills our hearts with cheer
The river of God fills our mouths with laughter
And we rejoice for the river is here

The river of God is teeming with life
And all who touch it can be revived
And those who linger on this river’s shore
Will come back thirsting for more of the Lord

Up to the mountain we love to go
To find the presence of the Lord
Along the banks of the river we run
We dance with laughter giving praise to the Son

As it can be seen, Ledyaer uses it in ways similar to the Neo-Apostolic usage of the phrase. Whereas the charismatics did not use the term to talk explicitly about the instrusion of the Church into matters of the State, the Neo-Apostolic leaders have no qualms talking about such matters openly, what with all the "spiritual mapping", "spiritual warfare", and of course the entire matter of Institutional Redemption, which will be covered soon.

Now, definitely, Christians are not to be uninvolved with the world; we are not to abdicate our responsibility to be salt and light of the world. Yet, the Neo-Apostolic model, and Ledyaer's, seem to twist the sense in which such is to be done. Christians are just to be witnesses of the truth in every area of life, NOT to attempt to impose "Christendom's rule" over others. And that is where the error is. Being salt and light does not mean that the Church as an institution intrudes a Christian outlook into the 'society’s political, social, economical and spiritual life', let alone having so-called "Apostles" governing the city, even spiritually! Haven't they read that Jesus' Kingdom is not of this world? (Jn. 18:36) Yet they behave otherwise.

And an even more disturbing problem with the usage of the word 'river' is its use for the transformtion of the world into a new world order, whether used by New Agers to talk about the Aquarium Age or in this case by networking churches to bring about the 'new-paradigm' churches, as what Ledyaer seems to be doing. As Herescope reports some time back

“The River” is also “emergent” – the birth of a new spiritual creature upon the face of the earth representing unparalleled global ecumenism, cooperation and syncretism. This spiritual anomaly is rapidly gaining strength and volume. It is devouring everything in its sight, reaching into vast uncharted territories beyond the Church body itself. It intends to flood across the culture – changing the tide of economic systems, governments, education, the arts, health care, and much more -- all streams merging into a behemoth Corporate Spiritual State with unprecedented power.

...

Transform World is dominionist, serving as a high-powered catalyst for collaborations between church and state worldwide under the guise of missionary activity. Its leaders include Luis Bush, Ed Silvoso, Graham Power, and a host of other well-known leadership in the mission arena. Its “transformation” agenda, achieved via networking, has to do with changing governments, the workplace, society, culture and ultimately restoring paradise to the planet Earth.

This is definitely very disturbing, as this seems to bring about the one-world religion with syncretic false 'christianity' being 'victorius' over all others (read Mystery Babylon) and then persecuting true Christians.

Anyway, let us look into the topic of Institutional Redemption as stated in Ledyaer's article, where he wrotes:

At the very moment the blood of Jesus was shed on the cross, which meant the price for the redemption of the whole human kind was paid, all the nations of the earth with no exception ceased to be the property of the former owner.

As soon as “It is finished” had sounded, the spiritual seal “paid for” was set on the territory of every country, state and government.

If they are paid for, it means that Satan is legally deprived of power over them.

Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and all Middle East countries are “paid for,” so they are God’s property.

The African peoples from Cape Town up to Cairo are “paid for,” so they are God’s property.

The European countries are “paid for”, so they are God’s property.

China, India, Japan and the entire Eastern Asia region are “paid for,” so they are God’s property.

USA, Russia and all that are with them are “paid for,” so they are God’s property.

And the paid goods are immediately taken from the territory of the pagan market to the address of the Buyer – the territory of the Kingdom of God. It is legal, rightful and well founded.

The understanding of the Redemption is the foundation and driving force of the Great Commission.

Jesus had paid the price and He commissioned church with taking the paid goods to the territory of God’s Kingdom. Therefore, He gave church grace and apostleship to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and for obedience to the faith among all nations.

As with any pervason, the doctrine of Institutional Redemption have enough truth in it to catch the unwary (of which most 'evangelicals' are so gullible that they would probably fall for a heresy much larder than this anway, but I disgress). It is true that the Great Commission is not that the Gospel is not to preach to all except those in power. Also, when Jesus died on the Cross, He has purchased the power to save all His people, however many they may be, even the whole world. And most definitely, He would save people from every nation and tribe and tongue (Rev. 5:9). However, Ledyaer here is talking about the concept of Institutional Redemption, whereby Jesus dies for Countries and Institutions, more than "merely" individuals. Institutional Redemption is unbiblical, since Jesus died for people as a substitute for our sins (Penal Substitionary Atonement) and therefore if He died for countries and Institutes, how could such a substitution ever occur in the first place? Moreover, since all the countries and empires would be demolished and brought to an end by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in His second advent (Dan. 2:44), how can they be said to be redeemed when they are destroyed by Christ?

Later on, Ledyaer presses home one application for this theory of Institutional Redemption; that

In cutting ourselves off from the world, we degenerate into an ugly sectarian organization, just like Pennsylvanian Amishes

The initial response is that it is true that Christians are to be witnesses where we are, not cut off from society. Yet the historic Protestant position has always been to be involved wth society, in seeing all of us as the priesthood of believers shining as lights for Christ everywhere we are; in our families, workplaces, even politics (just look at the Magisterial Reformers Luther, Zwingli and Calvin, and the Scottish Covenantors also). Therefore, we do not need this new doctrine of Institional Redemption in order to be light and salt in this earth. What Ledyaer and the Neo-Apostolic seem to be fighting against is the Dispensational tendency of being pre-occupied with the end-times, which I likewise think is ridiculous (Imagine telling God you didn't have time to do the works of God because you were too busy waiting for His Second Coming).

Anyway, before we analyze Ledyaer's use of the Scriptures, it would be insturctive to show that he advocates for the return back to the Roman Catholic model of the Church-State, with the rule of the Church over the state. Elsewhere in his article, he wrotes,

Heaven has always ruled over the earth, and the priesthood over kings.

And if rulers separate church and state and declare war against church – they are doomed to defeat.

The dialogue between church and state will revive and transfigure the latter beyond recognition.

Church will have the mind of Christ; will think as He does; reason as He does; act as He does; claim, overcome and dominate as He does.

"Priesthood over kings"? "Transfigure the latter (the political sphere) beyond all recognition"? This is the idea of Dominionism, of having "super-Apostles" controlling the city. As stated in the last red, bold statement, what this amounts to is the Church reigning as if she were Christ on earth, controlling and dominating society externally. Instead of the biblical view of people in the nations turning to Christ and submitting to Him in all their dealing, including politics, Dominionism is the heresy which would have us return back to the Roman Church-state. The outcome of such an experiment in turning the Church into a political organization has already been seen in history; the burning of "heretics", real or otherwise, on the stake, Inquisitions, persecution of true Christians and ultimately taking the Bible away from the people because of its "subversive nature", and having to obey our "pastors/ Apostles" as their "ex-cathedra" teachings acheive infallible status. Do we as Christians want to see a return back to the Dark Ages? Why should we support a movement that would ultimately undermine the authority of Scripture, and bring about a totalitarian government who governs and persecutes anyone who disagree with them in the name of Christ; the perfect Antichrist?

And that is precisely the problem with the top-down approach. Will it bring about persecution of all but the particular sect whom the king/president converts to? Instead of focusing evangelism on leaders in the misguided hope that somehow they would change society, why is it that we distrust God who said:

The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will. (Prov. 21:1)

Nothing can happen to us except by God's will and permission. Even if the whole world is against us, as long as the Lord is with us, we shall triumph, so why this pre-occupation with those on top? Yes, we need to reach them, but to regard them as more important than others? Such higher status is not supported by the Scripture and is in fact refuted by the Apostle James (Jas. 2:1-7). How dare we think of them as more important than normal people?

In the next installment, we would analyze several examples of eisegesis which Ledyaer makes, in his quest to push his Dominonist agenda forward.

[to be continued]