Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Mosaic Covenant: Works or Grace?

Over at Reformation Theology, Nathan Pitchford writes about the relation of the Covenant of Works and Covenant of Grace in the Mosaic Covenant here. In light of some who call themselves Reformed yet deny the Covenant of Works, a grievous error, this is pertinent to show us the necessity of believing in the Covenant of Works.

The Westminster Confession of Faith, speaking of the unity of the Covenant of Grace from the time immediately after the Fall and forever thereafter, states, “This covenant [of grace] was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the Gospel” (WCF 7:5). In this brief summation, we may observe two things about the Mosaic administration of the Covenant: first, it was fundamentally an expression of the Covenant of Grace, and thus held forth the gospel to the people of God “by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come”; (WCF 7:5); and second, it was nevertheless in a sense utterly distinct from the New Covenant, even on so central an issue as the gospel itself. It was, in fact, appropriately designated a covenant of “law,” not just as acts of obedience flowing from gratefulness for the gospel, but as contradistinct from the very “Gospel” itself. In other words, it was, in one sense, in full continuity with the gospel first proclaimed to Abraham and consummated in Christ; and in another sense, of an entirely different legal principle.

...

So then, the covenant made on Sinai was in some sense an administration of and advance upon the Covenant of Grace; but in some other, equally notable ways, it was a republication of the Covenant of Works. When we look to the Pentateuch with an unjaundiced eye, nothing could be clearer than the works-principle breathed out everywhere in its pages, that the one who does all of the things written in the Law will live by them; and similarly, nothing could be more clear than the fact that Paul also sees a definite works-principle at work in the Mosaic Law, which is utterly distinct from the faith-principle at work in the gospel and the Abrahamic Promise (see Romans 10 and Galatians 3:1-5:6). The nature of the Mosaic administration as a Covenant of Grace cannot overturn its distinctive character of Law; on the contrary, the legal, binding principle of “Do this and live” lays the foundation apart from which the Covenant of Grace cannot function. It shows, in a word, how God can both “be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).

...

The Law principle, set forth in uncompromising terms throughout the Pentateuch, showed the desperate need for the gospel principle of a federal head who would satisfy the curse and merit the blessing that the Law held forth. Which is nothing less than to say, the very manner in which the Sinaitic Covenant was an advance upon the Covenant of Grace demands that it also be a most uncompromising republication of the Covenant of Works as that which, in our desperate need, the coming Seed would fulfill for us.

This dual “law/gospel” nature of the Mosaic Covenant, in that it demands for the Law to be fulfilled but freely promises a Savior to fulfill it, is not only clearly seen in the harmonious but antithetical principles summed up in Leviticus 18:5 and Deuteronomy 30:1-14; it is also the only assessment that makes sense of Paul's complex (and superficially contradictory!) treatment of the Pentateuch in Romans 10 and Galatians 3-5.

(Bold added)

Is it any wonder that in churches who deny the Covenant of Works and embrace some form of mono-covenantalism, some form of Legalism or Antinomianism (depending on whether they emphasize the grace or law aspects of their mono-covenant more) inevitably sets in? While brilliant but irrational pastors and theologians may be able to keep these tendencies in check, the state of the members are another different story altogether, swinging from Legalism to Antinomianism or mixtures of both depending on which sins are currently under discussion or emphasized.

It is vital to maintain the Law/Gospel antithesis which is fundamental to the Gospel message, otherwise the entire epistle to the Galatians among other can make no sense whatsoever. The growth of Biblical theology has corrected for the previous over-emphasis on Systematic Theology, which has ceased becoming true Systematic Theology but Philosophical Theology as Scriptural texts are interpreted in light of metanarrative constructs such as Supralapsarianism or even Election, instead of letting the contexts determine the sense of the passages of Scripture and then building a systematic theology based on these. As Pitchford states: "nothing could be more clear than the fact that Paul also sees a definite works-principle at work in the Mosaic Law, which is utterly distinct from the faith-principle at work in the gospel and the Abrahamic Promise". It simply amazes me that those pushing for the denial of the Covenant of Works can be so blind that they cannot see the clear denunciation of the Law by Paul in his epistle to the Galatians.

This does not of course mean that there is a Law/Grace antithesis, contrary to the Antinomians. Law and Grace are never antithetical to each other, as the many approval of the right use of the Law in the Scriptures prove (eg. Rom. 7:22; Jas. 2:8).

Law and Gospel. Law and Grace. When one commits oneself to understanding the biblical covenants, then a wrong understanding of the Covenant scheme can have disastrous consequences. New and young believers in Christ are in some sense exempt from these struggle, as somehow they instinctively through the Spirit interpret Scripture properly in its proper context though logically inconsistently. When one moves into trying to understand the Covenant schema and be consistent in his theology, the struggle then begins, for having a wrong Covenant schema would cause one to change one's hermeneutical principle and thus giving rise to the specter of denying a plain biblical truth based upon one's errant metanarrative hermeneutical framework. Bad Covenant schemata therefore is worse than no Covenant schema at all, and thus an errant "reformed" church (e.g. the Federal Vision) is worse off than an infant evangelical church on the issue of the Gospel

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Persecution of Christians...

Here are two news of Christians undergoing persecution, one in a supposedly secular non-discriminatory Singapore, and the other in supposedly Christian America.

It has been reported previously that a couple, ONG Kian Cheong and his wife Dorothy CHAN Hien Leng, were charged for sedition under the Sedition Act in Singapore for distributing booklets deemed to be offensive to Muslims. Recently, the couple has been convicted by the Court as being guilty of sedition. The hypocrisy is simply amazing. As I have shown in a satire, the supposedly non-discriminatory Singapore government seemingly has no problems with the showing of the blasphemous Da Vnci Code movie, in which Christianity was insulted. I wonder if anyone were to similarly charge MDA under the Sedition Act, would we see a guilty conviction or would the court instead throw out the case immediately?

In "Christian" America, a couple, Pastor David and Mary Jones, was ordered to halt Bible studies conducted at their home by the San Diego County unless they pay thousands of dollars for a permit to do so. The couple has decided to contest the ruling, failing which they would sue the county in a federal court.

As the end time draw near, the persecution of Christians continue to grow in earnest. Let us pray for God to be with our persecuted brethren that He may comfort them in their trials, and that they will witness for Him despite their hardships.

P.S.: Check this out for some comic relief.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Jacob, Laban's cattle and genetics

He [Laban] said, “What shall I give you?” Jacob said, “You shall not give me anything. If you will do this for me, I will again pasture your flock and keep it: let me pass through all your flock today, removing from it every speckled and spotted sheep and every black lamb, and the spotted and speckled among the goats, and they shall be my wages. So my honesty will answer for me later, when you come to look into my wages with you. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats and black among the lambs, if found with me, shall be counted stolen.” Laban said, “Good! Let it be as you have said.” But that day Laban removed the male goats that were striped and spotted, and all the female goats that were speckled and spotted, every one that had white on it, and every lamb that was black, and put them in the charge of his sons. And he set a distance of three days' journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob pastured the rest of Laban's flock.

Then Jacob took fresh sticks of poplar and almond and plane trees, and peeled white streaks in them, exposing the white of the sticks. He set the sticks that he had peeled in front of the flocks in the troughs, that is, the watering places, where the flocks came to drink. And since they bred when they came to drink, the flocks bred in front of the sticks and so the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted. And Jacob separated the lambs and set the faces of the flocks toward the striped and all the black in the flock of Laban. He put his own droves apart and did not put them with Laban's flock. Whenever the stronger of the flock were breeding, Jacob would lay the sticks in the troughs before the eyes of the flock, that they might breed among the sticks, but for the feebler of the flock he would not lay them there. So the feebler would be Laban's, and the stronger Jacob's. (Gen. 30: 31-42)

One passage used by the occultic Word-faith teacher David Yonggi Cho to proof-text his creative visualization theory (the belief that you think thoughts which create your reality and thus you can change your circumstances by visualizing your desires into reality) is Gen. 30: 31-42 [1]. However, does this passage actually teaches what he claims it to teach?

When one looks at the passage, one most certainly does not see what Cho teaches. Most certainly, Jacob is acting strangely, yet nobody can get Cho's interpretation from merely reading the text of this passage. Whether Cho is right or not therefore cannot be decided by this passage of Scripture at all. Cho's view of creative visualization is shown to be false as it depends on his view of creative faith which is totally false, as I have documented in this article.

Nevertheless, what other explanations of this phenomenon can we give? Certainly, this whole thing can be a miracle, of which Jacob's sticks were the instruments which God uses. Even naturalistically, a possible explanation could be given as follows:

... the pure bred cattle could probably have separate genotypes (ie AAgg and aaGG), which can be crossed to form the F1 genotypes AaGg, which can then interbreed to form the F2 genotypes AAGG, AAGg, AAgg, AaGG, AaGg, Aagg, aaGG, aaGg and aagg in the Mendelian ratio of 1:2:1:2:4:2:1:2:1 , and the ratio of those which are homozygous on both alleles compare to those who are heterozygous on one or both alleles is 4:12 . Assuming incomplete dominance of the A and G allele, all the different genotypes in the following F2 genotypes would have different coat color or pattern; different phenotypes, and the ratio of offspring with pure color coat (denoted by homozygosity in both alleles in the genotype ie AAGG or AAgg) to that of mixed color coat would be 4:12 or 1:3. So therefore, it is no wonder that Jacob's flock would increase in numbers. A larger variety of genes would also increase the genetic vitality of Jacob's flock, thus making his flock stronger.

Another factor which plays to his advantage is probably the presence of Barr bodies which would contribute to the spotted or speckled coat color in heterozygous females. Assuming that one coat color gene is located on the X chromosome, heterozygous females would have the genotype XBXW for example. To avoid overexpression of the X chromosome, females cells typically silence one of their two X chromosomes in an entirely random manner, therefore approximately one half would silence the XB chromosome, while the other half would silence the XW chromosome. The coat cells which silence the XB chromosome would express the coat color coded by the XW chromosome and vice versa, thus explaining the spotted or speckled coats of the female cattle. That Jacob choses these heterozygous animals [would] means that he would chose those with higher genetic variety and hence vitality. [2]

As it can be seen, Cho's case is untenable in any sense whether supernaturally or naturally.

References:

[1] David Yonggi Cho, The Fourth Dimension Vol. 1: Discovering A New World of Answered Prayer (Bridge-Logos, Alachua, FL, USA), pp. 44-47

[2] Daniel H. Chew, An Examination of the Word-faith teachings of Korean 'pastor' David Yonggi Cho. Accessed here.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Death is not Dying

This is a video of Rachel Barkey’s talk at the Women’s Event hosted by Westside Church at the River Rock Show Theatre in Richmond, BC, Canada, held on March 4, 2009. Rachel is a terminal cancer patient on the brink of death. When one faces death, everything becomes much much clearer and things of eternal value becomes central to us. Do listen to the dying words of this Christian sister. As Dr. James White says:

There are so many worthless things that take up our days. Put some of them aside for just under an hour and listen, or watch. Don't do so listening for imperfections, do so listening for words of life. ...

Death is not Dying

[HT: AOMin.org]

Comments, and a brief book review

As those who have accessed the blog recently may have noticed, I have switched back to the default Blogger commenting system. The previous one wasn't working, with serious character limits per post (not even reaching the theoretical limit of ~5000 characters per comment; maybe not even 1000 characters), and a nightmare scenario whereby all previous Blogger comments on any post were hidden by the IntenseDebate system. The number of comments per posts sometimes weren't showing up properly on the blog's main page, while notification was rather reliable but not 100% as what I had expected. Commenting oftentimes was a headache all by itself with comments posted lost somewhere in cyberspace and not appearing in the blog post's meta even though the IntenseDebate system showed that it was posted.

Due to all this, I have decided to discontinue using the IntenseDebate system, as it did more harm than good.

On other news, I have just finished reading an interesting book entitled New Covenant Theology by Tom Wells and Fred Zaspers.

Here is my brief review of the book which I have posted on Amazon.com among others:

This book by Wells and Zaspel is indeed an excellent book on the growing New Covenant Theology paradigm. It outlines and attempts to show from Scripture the rightness of its position, which is claimed to be the natural teaching of the text of Scripture when interpreted in context.

Upon examining the arguments for New Covenant Theology as outlined here (and also in [John G.] Reisinger's book Tablets of Stone), NCT appears to be the child of Biblical Theology with its idea of progressive revelation, and depends on it for its substance. While Biblical Theology is indeed important, the over-reliance on Biblical Theology at the expense of Systematic Theology creates theological problems and logical contradictions within the system. One such example of a logical contradiction is the teaching of OT believers being not part of the Church (p. 52), yet part of the Church (p. 63). A theological problem found in NCT is that OT believers are not saved by the Gospel (p. 31), but if so then they cannot be saved by God's grace through Christ's atonement for all believers either (Rom. 1: 16), not to mention that this explicitly contradicts Gal. 3:8

Since the topic of study is that of the biblical metanarrative and transcendental truth, the revelation of biblical truth in history (Biblical Theology) cannot be used to derive transcendental biblical truth (Systematic Theology). The outworking of God's truth in time is definitely important, but such cannot be used to infer anything about transcendental truths of God. NCT oversteps the boundary of Biblical Theology by making Biblical Theology the framework for understanding metanarrative truths when it is not designed to do so. Rather, metanarrative truths are to be attained through Systematic Theology done through logical inference from all of Scripture (Tota Scriptura), with the role of Biblical Theology limited to the HOW of its outworking in redemptive history. It must be said here that is is regrettable that this overemphasis on Biblical Theology with its teaching of the logical priority of Jesus' teaching, while true, is unwittingly used to undermine the authority of Scriptures by pitting the physically uttered teachings of the Incarnate logos (λογος) against the revelatory logos (λογος) or the entirety of Scripture, and thus make the "red letters" in the Bible to be of much higher authority and "more inspired" than the normal black letters of the rest of Scripture.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sermon: Tim Keller on Idolatry

I have just finished Tim Keller's sermon on The Gospel and Idolatry which he gave at the recent 2009 Gospel Coalition conference, and it was indeed a good sermon. Keller exegeted the text well and expounded it for our benefits, and it would do us good to examine our lives to see if there are indeed any idols we still harbour in our hearts.

[As it can be seen, I give credit when credit is due. Just because Keller compromised the Gospel in the area of Creation and Apologetics does not mean he is the Devil incarnate. I also respect him more than the other prominent New Calvinist pastor, Mark Driscoll. At least Keller is biblical here and exegeted the text he based his sermon on.]

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Article: The Federal Vision and the Covenant of Works

It has been personally heard from (a) certain PRCA (Protestant Reformed Churches of America) pastor(s) that the Federal Vision affirms the Covenant of Work, as part of the PRC's polemic against the teaching of the Covenant of Works. My recollection on this matter at that point was that the Federal Visionists deny (not affirm) the Covenant of Works as traditionally formulated, though I did not have much proof then to dispute the allegation.

Recently, I chanced upon an article by a certain Dr. J. V. Fesko, pastor of Geneva OPC, entitled The Federal Vision and the Covenant of Works. Through this article, Dr. Fesko showed that Federal Vision DOES in fact deny the Covenant of Works, and such denial parallels the confusion of Law and Gospel within the Federal Vision movement. The PRCA minister therefore is in error with regards to the relation of Federal Vision with respects to the idea of the Covenant of Works. On a side note, it is interesting to note that the Federal Vision as least in the teachings of James Jordon on the "Adamic Covenant" sounds eerily similar to the PRCA's teaching on the Adamic Covenant.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The nature of justification with regards to Mt. 12:36-37

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Mt. 12:36-37)

εκ γαρ των λογων σον δικαιωθηση, και εκ των λογων σον καταδικασθηση. (Mt. 12:37)

What is justification? With the Roman Catholics' confusion on the one side to "Protestant" infatuation with the New Perspective doctrine and Federal Vision on the other, the Church has came full circle back to the foundational doctrine of the Gospel — the doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone. That RCism in her blindness cannot perceive its truth is sad, but it is tragic that those who are supposed to be children of the Reformation are falling away.

Once upon a time, students of the Bible understand that context is key. The Christan would interpret the verse in context, and while the meaning and etymology of the word in the original language may be helpful at a deeper level, they cannot and should not overturn the basic contextual meaning of the verse in context. Such is to commit an exegetical fallacy, of which the most common encountered so far is the fallacy of unwarranted adoption of an expanded semantic field or abuse of the field of lexicography, as described in D.A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies (Grand Rapids, MI, USA: Baker), p. 60-61. When using a reliable translation of the Bible, we can trust that we have God's Word with us, and therefore we can read the Scripture for ourselves and learn what it desires to teach us.

The historic Protestant doctrine of justification is "the gracious act of God the Father through the perfect work of Jesus Christ whereby I have been pardoned and made right before God" [James R. White, The God who Justifies (Minneapolis, MI, USA: Bethany House, 2001), p. 31. Emphasis original]. It encompasses the process of double imputation as its logical corollary, whereby our sin is counted as Christ's, while his righteousness is credited to our account, so that we are considered righteous before God and acceptable unto Him though we are still materially sinful and God is holy. This understanding of Justification flows from a look at the book of Romans, as shown by Dr. James R. White in his book The God who Justifies.

Being biblical, we know that Scripture proclaims for itself inerrancy and especially verbal plenary inspiration and authority. Since that is the case, all of Scripture must be systematized into a coherent whole, for God does not lie so contradictions cannot exist. The doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone is so explicit in Romans that the only way to avoid its teaching is either to attempt to subjugate its message using counter proof-texts as what RCism traditionally has done, or to shift the entire reading and hermeneutical framework as what New Perspectivism has done.

We have previously addressed James 2, and have exposed the exegetical fallacy involved in reading acontextually all forms of the dikaio- word groups legal justification. In Mt. 12:36-37, this fallacy seems to be involved as well. However, if so, then what exactly is Mt. 12:36-37 teaching if not legal justification? Since it alludes if not refers to the last Day of judgment, shouldn't the context be referring to justification before God in the legal sense, and thus justification has a future aspect to it as well?

To address this issue, we will look to the immediate context of the verse, and then to the larger context of the Scriptures using the Analogy of Faith (Analogia Fide).

Immediate context

The context of this passage is the teachings of Jesus regarding various sundry issues in Jesus' contention against the false teachings of the Pharisees. In the immediate context however, the teachings of Jesus in verse 33 on the good and bad tree (echoing back to Mt. 7:17-20), and verses 35 on the treasures indicate for us an emphasis on practical Christian living. This can be seen in verse 34 which states that "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks". Therefore, the entire focus of the immediate context is on the practical manifestation of Christian living.

Verses 36 and 37 should thus be interpreted in this light. The "justification" here is the manifestation of the nature of genuine faith in true Christians, while the condemnation is the manifestation of the judgment of God against sinful men.

Entirety of Scripture or Systematic Theology

When one looks at the entirety of Scripture, it can be clearly seen that justification is a one-time event when a person exercises faith in Christ, a fact defended by Dr. James R. White in his book The God that Justifies.

Jn. 3:18 teaches that condemnation is already a reality before the final judgment even now for all Man unless they are saved. The parallelism, which is very striking in the Greek, thus hints that conversely, justification in this verse is something which is a present reality in people even before the final judgment.

Putting the two lines of thought together would yield us the correct Protestant interpretation of the verses — that the words we speak reveal or manifest our nature as believers or unbelievers; whether we are righteous or unrighteousness, justified or condemned. We are not justified by our words or works as taught in Mt. 12:36-37, but we are shown to be previously justified at the final judgment.

There is therefore no future aspect of justification. God knows His people and as Sovereign, does not need to defend and contest with anyone who his justified elect are. and the validity of the justification process in any one individual. When we are justified, we have already been justified (past tense), and move along the golden chain of salvation (in Rom. 8:29; not the exact Ordo Salutis) to the next step so to speak, which chronologically is glorification. When believers stand before God, God does not have to check his "record-book" to confirm that any believer is indeed justified (past tense), but he would welcome us in without any need of assessment, giving us glorified bodies fit for our new habitat and status.

In conclusion, Mt. 12:36-37 does not teach legal justification or anything of the sort. Context matters, and when the texts are interpreted in context, the true biblical meaning always surfaces. Despite mention of the day of judgment, Mt. 12:36-37 does not teach legal justification by works at all. Amen.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Misquoted verses: James 2:23-24 (Bonus!)

and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. (James 2:23-24)

In its larger context:

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. (James 2:18-26)

Although not on the list of misquoted verses, this common passage of Scripture is often misquoted to support the false notion of salvation by faith and works. Certainly, verses 23-24 by themselves seem to teach that justification is not by "faith alone" but by faith and works done in faith. However, is that really the case?

Context of James 2

James 2 is located in the context of the epistle of James, which historically as a letter from James is supposed to be read in one setting. The practical bent of this epistle is easily seen in the epistle itself, thus showing it as written more for practical Christian living rather than doctrinal instruction. As the introduction to the Epistle of James in the ESV Study Bible states:

Literary Features

...

The most pervasive technique in the book of James is the proverb or aphorism, in the mode of ancient wisdom teachers. Next in frequency is the rhetorical device of direct command, expressed in the imperative mood of the verb (e.g., “be doers of the word, and not hearers only,” 1:22). In fact, there are over 50 imperatives in the book's 108 verses. This abundance of commands is a signal that the writer has a practical bent and is interested in action rather than mere belief as the distinguishing characteristic of Christians.

The most important aspect in biblical interpretation is the context of the verse; it has been said that the three most important things in the interpretation of a text is context, context and context! The context in James therefore shows the entire letter to be of a most practical nature, one more interested in examining the lives of Christians rather than the particular of their beliefs.

Viewed in context, James 2 teaches that true faith will lead to good works. Practically speaking, anyone can profess to have faith, and thus true and false faith is indistinguishable from each other in terms of profession. James in his epistle therefore takes on the concept of how to differentiate between true and false faith, which lies in the area of good works. Just as Jesus says, a "healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit" (Mt. 7: 17), James challenges the person who claims to have faith to show forth his "fruit". In the words of James 2:18

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:18)

It must be noted that even here, James does not inject any form of works righteousness. James challenges the professed believer to show forth his works, but he state he will show forth his faith by his works, not show forth his faith and his works. Works is the method of proving the genuineness of faith, not a separate element which may or may not be present where faith is present.

As the ESV Study Bible remarks on this passage (James 2:14-26):

James 2:14–26 Faith without Works Is Dead. James continues the theme that hearing/faith must lead to doing/works. Although it may seem as if James is contradicting Paul's “by grace you have been saved through faith . . . not a result of works” (Eph. 2:8–9), in reality there is no dichotomy between faith and works, for Paul and James would agree that the basis of salvation is grace alone through faith, with works not the basis but the necessary result thereof (Eph. 2:10).

The issue of the quotation of Gen. 15:6

A RC apologist may counter that the quotation of Gen. 15:6 in James 2:23 proves that legal justification must be in view here in some sense. After all, doesn't Gen. 15:6 teach legal justification, and is quoted as such in passages such as Rom. 4:3 and Gal. 3:6? Since such is the case, shouldn't we interpret James 2 as teaching a legal aspect of justification here?

God = Zeus?

Such a hermeneutical gymnastics leads one to a parallel in Paul's sermon to the Athenians. Consider this excerpt from Paul's sermon:

that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for

“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;

as even some of your own poets have said,

“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’

(Acts 17: 27-28)

The first quote "appears to be from a hymn to Zeus by Epimenides of Crete" (c. 600 BC), while the second quotation is from the poem Phainomena by the Stoic poet Aratus (c. 315–240 b.c.). In both of these cases, the original meanings applied to Zeus, the mythological Greek father of the gods.

Now, since the Apostle Paul utilizes verses from these pagan hymns and poems to describe God, therefore can it be said that God (YHWH) is co-extensive and similar to Zeus in some sense? Of course not! The mere quoting of a phrase does not mean that everything it teaches is necessarily endorsed and taught. Rather, the context determines why any particular text is quoted and to what effect, and then only is the issue of the correspondence of the sentence to the way it is utilized asked.

In the case of James 2:23, the key phrase there are the words "Scripture was fulfilled". Going along with the practical bent of James, James 2:23 quotes Gen. 15:6 as an example of what righteousness really is. In other words, James is saying: "If you want to know what true faith and righteousness is, look at Abraham's life". True faith manifests itself in good works, and the very point of quoting Gen. 15:6 in Jas. 2:23 is not to make James 2 into a passage on legal justification, but of how a person who is truly justified will behave.

Exegetical fallacy: Illegitimate Totality Transfer

The chief fallacy involved in the RC argumentation is the fallacy of an unwarranted adoption of an expanded semantic field, oherwise known as illegitimate totality transfer or abuse of the field of lexicography, as described in D.A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies(Grand Rapids, MI, USA: Baker), p. 60-61. Just because the dikaio- (δικαιω) word group is used in James 2 does not mean that legal justification of any sort is taught and mentioned.

Conclusion

James 2:23-24 teaches that true believers have a living faith, not a mere professed faith which does not work. Against the Romanists among other synergists, James 2 does not teach any legal justification, and neither does Jas. 2:23 through its quotation of Ge. 15:6 teaches that either. Gen. 15:6 was applied in James' argument as stating that Abraham was righteous and this is how righteousness functions, which is to say the nature of righteousness in Christian living rather than the reason(s) for it. Truly, we are not justified by a faith that is alone but by a living faith alone. Amen.

See also

Rutherford: Why Justification in James is not by works

An explanation of Rutherford's argument on James 2

Faith and Works: Illustration from the miracle drug Chlorozoetin

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dr. Robert Reymond on Secular Humanism

Interesting piece of argumentation from Dr. Reymond demolishing the irrationality of the Secular Humanists:

The problem that all secular humanism must face, however, is this: Can an empirical, purely descriptive philosophy, a philosophy that repudiates theology and concerns itself only with a description of what is in human experience, provide a ground for the oughts of universal moral prescriptions, indeed, for any moral prescriptions whatsoever? A negative response is obviously the only response: One can never derive "oughtness" from "is-ness". No doubt many humanists disapprove of the brutality and murder perpetrated by Soviet Communism, urging that the world should "make love, not war", but Joseph Stalin showed a personal preference for murder when he thought it appropriate and contributory to the propagation of worldwide communism, as did Chairman Mao. And many moderns have a personal preference for adultery over monogamy and for theft over labor. Thus murder, adultery, and theft, as much as friendship, fidelity, and honest labor and private property, have on empirical, descriptive grounds a claim as values because they have been discovered as values in human experience. How then can a theory of ethics that restricts itself to descriptive facts provide a ground for normative prescriptions? ...

Probably most humanists today attempt to avoid this problem by speaking of moral obligation as a social demand. Instead of looking to theology for the imposition of moral sanctions, they look to society for the imposition of such. Apart from the fact that this appeal does not really avoid the problem of ground (where is the argument to establish an individual's obligation to any society?), it must address this question: If morality is a demand of society, which society? Is it the demand of the family, the church, the nation, or all humanity? ... But then morality becomes loyal to the State, and we are right back where we begin — with murder, adultery, and theft becoming moral obligations when Nazism, Fascism, and Communism demand them.

On purely empirical grounds how can society obligate any man to sacrifice his personal preference and ease for the improvement of others? If there is no God and men are simply products of an impersonal beginning plus time plus chance, why should not every man say as the student said to Francis Schaeffer, "I want to destroy." If there is no God why should not every man step out of the line and join the student in his bent to destroy or, at least, in his "dropping out" of society. And if humanism can do no better than to call such people social sponges, social misfits, and other derogatory names, it has abandoned rational argument and can provide no ground for moral education.

... In an empirical philosophy, one may find the verb is, but the verb ought has no logical standing.

— Robert Reymond, Faith's Reasons for Believing (Ross-shire, Scotland, UK: Mentor, 2008), pp. 413-414. Bold supplied.

Secular Humanism, and in fact all forms of empiricism, will always fail to provide a coherent meta-ethical theory, and the epistemic ground for the existence of their ethical declarations. All of them commit David Hume's "is-ought" fallacy, as there is simply no way an "ought" or ethical imperative can be derived from an "is" or ethical norm or description. This is why the postmoderns have rightly discerned that the entirety of Modernism, of which Secular Humanism is a major actor, has feet of clay, and that such humanist ethical pronouncements are, in [Michel] Foucault's view, a form of power play. After all, if there is no ground or basis for one's ethical pronouncements, then all the utopian pontifications of the secular humanists are just merely opinions just as subjective as all other views, and no more authoritative than the views of any other person. To say that the humanist view is correct therefore is a form of epistemic subjugation of the majority who are non-Secular humanists to the Secular humanist "bourgeois", though I must add Foucault is not necessarily adverse to the latter.

Secular Humanism and all forms of empiricism are meta-ethically and epistemologically bankrupt, being unable to provide a coherent and logical framework to understand the world. [Other more sophisticated philosophers have continued coming up with more and more complex theories, but besides throwing Occam's Razor, we would not be going there since it is too academic anyway, plus I would then need to do much reading for little effect] Post-modernism understands this failure and therefore denies that such framework exists at all (the denial of the metanarrative). Of course, this does not solve the problem, but I digress.

The Secular humanists and New atheists should focus on Post-modernism, as post-modernism has destroyed their entire epistemic foundations, or at the very least gives the impression of destrying it. People like Dawkins et al can rant how much they want, but in the overall scheme of things, they are on the losing side. The winners are the post-moderns and neo-pagans (ie Cosmic humanists) who will take over the culture (barring reformation and revival), and these are the ones who we Christians need to face in the future. To put it bluntly, Secular humanism is so passè, and while there is certainly need to refute their false belief systems, their numbers are generally on the decline. Writing more "God Delusion" books is not going to help increase their numbers by much.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Robert Reymond on Christian ministry and the Inspiration of the Bible

Here is a very interesting quote by Dr. Robert Reymond on the topic of the Inspiration of Scripture as it relates to Christian ministers:

The candidate for Christian ministry who does not believe that the Bible is God's inspired Word should not enter the ministry. He does not belong there. If he is already in the ministry he should either quit because he should never have entered it or at the very least he should tell his congregation that he does not believe the Bible is God's inspired Word so that those who have the sense not to submit to his authority, stripped bare as it is of the authority of God's Word, can leave and listen to a pastor who does believe it, because all the other doctrines of the true Faith are derived from the divinely inspired Bible and rest upon it for their authority. The doctrine of inspiration is the bedrock — the mother and guardian — of all the other doctrines of Scripture! It is that important!

— Robert Reymond, Faith's Reasons for Believing (Ross-shire, Scotland, UK: Mentor, 2008), p. 111

Do keep in mind Dr. Reymond's view of the Inspiration of Scripture is the biblical idea of Verbal, Plenary Inspiration and Inerrancy of Scripture, not the subjective inspiration of Neo-Orthodoxy or the mythological kerygma of the Neo-liberals.

Misquoted verses: Heb. 10:24-25

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Heb. 10:24-25)

This passage is one of the proof-texts I have seen used to push for inclusion in a Local Church, and especially regular church attendance. However, does this passage actually teach that, and if so, in what sense?

On the surface, the verses themselves call upon us to

1) Stir each other to love and good deeds

This means that believers are exhorted to be actively provoking or stirring up each other as we meet, that such is to be geared towards growing in love and the doing of good deeds. We are to encourage each other towards godliness, through the practical outworking in being more loving towards the brethren and others and doing good to all.

2) Meet together for encouragement

Believers are exhorted to meet together for encouragement, which is to say that our meetings are not just a social gathering for catching up with each other, but we would also be intentional in desiring to help and encourage our brothers and sisters in their spiritual walks with God. The outflow of love which we have in Christ must be first and foremost directed towards our brothers and sisters in Christ, to seek their good.

3) Do so regularly

Believers are exhorted to meet together regularly to encourage each other in our respective walks with God. We are to do so eagerly, as the text says, especially as the Last Day approaches.

Does the passage therefore speaks about the necessity of regularly going to church? Not directly, for the passage does not tell us how often and in what manner are we to meet up as such. The eagerness to meet up with our brethren however would mean that we would meet up as much as able. To use this to apply to regular Sunday attendance is too restrictive for this passage, yet it certainly should not be less than that. After all, how can it be said that we are eager to meet up and encourage each other if the most basic of gatherings on the Lord's Day is not maintained?

So it does seem that this passage teach us the necessity of being involved in a community of believers, in their lives, and of coming together regularly, which should not be less regular than the weekly Sunday services. That said, there are a few cautions we should take note of when applying this text, which would distort it into a weapon used against believers.

Cautions:

1) We must understand these exhortations in light of their previous indicatives

The larger context of this passage talks about how Christ has come to offer the perfect sacrifice for sins once for all (Heb. 10:14), and how we therefore can have full assurance of faith because of Christ's perfect sacrifice on our behalves. This background of what Christ has already done FOR us (indicative) is what give rise to the imperative to come together as brothers and sisters in Christ in encouraging each other and stirring each other to love and good deeds. The exhortation does not exist in a vacuum and is therefore not a moralism which we must do merely because it is the correct Christian thing to do.

The indicative always comes before the imperative. The danger here lies in trying to short-circuit the process and calling on believers to come to church because the Bible says so (often with self-serving reasons ie tithing). The Scripture is abundantly clear that we join a Local Church, participate in it and come regularly for service and even perhaps more, not because of duty and obligation, but because we want to and love to.

What this practically translates to in teaching and biblical counseling of those who have lapsed in church attendance etc is not hammering them with the commands of Scripture for regular church attendance, probably bringing in the 4th commandment also to strengthen our case. The Law can be of help in showing the standard, but it can never function as the impetus for correction. Ministers and leaders who use Heb. 10:24-25 as a club to promote Church attendance are not preaching the Gospel, but Law, and the Law brings death. We must therefore reason from the indicatives of Scripture to exhort believers to come together regularly, and make the Gospel real to ourselves and to others instead of proclaiming loudly the Christians' duty to join a Local Church and attend regular services, as if anyone will ever be converted by the Law!

2) The call to meet does not give any visible church the right to command absolute fidelity to that church

We are called to meet together for encouragement and exhortation, and such commitment would necessitate commitment to a Local Church. Yet such does not give any particular visible church the right to demand of its members absolute commitment and fidelity to the church such that all members MUST go for all prayer meetings, and cannot contemplate change in church without what the leaders think are good reasons (ie going abroad to study or work etc) without "incurring the curse of God" and possible excommunication.

The Church exists for her members, not the other way around. The pastors/elders and lay leaders (if any) in the church should be desirous of building up the Kingdom of God and of feeding the sheep in their particular fold, not in building their own kingdoms and/or "Gospel Empire"! Therefore, their concern should be of what is best for the spiritual health of the sheep, not the possible impact any decisions have on their coffers and their pet [ministry] projects, or worse still their reputation.

This therefore means that pastors/elders are to even recommend that a particular sheep in the church who has doctrinal differences or irreconcilable conflicts with certain people in the church, who have exhausted all other means of reconciliation, to leave the church and join another Bible-believing church. If such people decide to leave for another church even without exhausting all possibilities of reconciliation, the pastors and elders are to release them and guide them to another biblical church where they can settle. In all things, the spiritual health of the sheep is to be considered. The church that is only interested in "keeping people" at all costs, or even cursing all who leave for what they consider errant reasons, have abused their authority as undershepherds. Heb. 10:24-25 cannot be used to support such lording over Christ' flock, and any who do so distort the text in support of their anti-biblical agenda.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, let us desire to spend time with our fellow believers in encouraging and exhorting each other towards "love and good works". Yet let us do so with the proper motive of the Gospel rather than of legalism. For church leaders, do so with the proper motive of care for the flock instead of self-aggrandizement. Amen.

Driscoll's sermon at the Gospel Coalition: A total disappointment

Mark Driscoll has recently given a sermon at the Gospel Coalition 2009 entitled Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, supposedly based on 2 Tim. 2:14-26, which can be downloaded from the Gospel Coalition website here. (You can see Driscoll's notes here)

After listening to the sermon, I am rendered nearly speechless. Is this the type of eisegesis encouraged by the Gospel Coalition, which is supposed to be Gospel-centered? Driscoll's points are so far from being taken from the text that it cannot even be called biblical in any remote sense of the term. In fact, coming from mainstream apostatizing Evangelicalism, what Driscoll is teaching in my opinion is no different from the typical "life application sermons" that are in vogue in such "evangelical" churches.

Even worse than this is the divisiveness of this sermon. This sermon encouraged pastors to distrust their flock, and to exercise dominion over the sheep and categorize them as "positive", "negative" or "neutral", contra the command of Christ to feed His sheep! The passage in 2 Tim. 2:14-26, and in fact in all parts of Scripture, are NOT attacks on "negative" people but on those who subvert the faith — heretics and schismatics. The only categorizations a pastor/elder can come up with is sheep, goats or wolves, and all this is based upon whether the person believes the Gospel and is saved (ie based on the objective criteria of Scripture). To come up with a list of 20 types of "negative people" is eisegetical, divisive and unloving. Such a disgusting attitude towards the flock is more akin to the false prophets of Ezekiel's time (Eze. 34:1-10) rather than a biblical shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep.

The book by Dan Southerland, Transitioning, a Purpose-driven paradigmatic book endorsed by Rick Warren which develops in concrete form the attack-the-PD-resistors methodology, is a resource which brings Driscoll's concept to its logical conclusion. Judging by Driscoll's closeness to PD pope Rick Warren, will this mean the entrance of this divisive technique into the New Calvinist community? If such is the case, this would make the Shepherding Movement of the last century like child's play with the widespread abuse of Heb. 13:17. I shudder to think what a "reformed-minded" abuse of Heb. 13:17 could do in destroying the spiritual lives of the flock.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Pastor Bob DeWaay on Donald Whitney and Spiritual Disciplines

Pastor Bob DeWaay has read Donald Whitney's book on Spiritual Disciplines and what he has found alarmed him greatly, resulting in an article detailing his find. After reading it, what it reveals disturbs me too. If in fact Whitney is in a position influencing the New Calvinists, then the New Calvinist movement is in a trajectory towards certain shipwreck. As DeWaay writes:

Thus I am very alarmed about Donald Whitney bringing spiritual disciplines and implied human ability into Reformed theology. If the trend for syncretistic spiritual disciplines and spiritual formation takes over the Reformed versions of evangelical education there will be very few options for young people who want an education grounded in the solas of the Reformation. Scripture alone and grace alone are compromised—if not rejected outright—when spiritual disciplines are adopted.

Mark Driscoll is on the record of practicing "contemplative disciplines", as he mentioned in his Confessions of a Reformission Rev (p. 169). Is there therefore a (so-far underground) current of contemplative spirituality existing in the New Calvinist movement?

In my article on New [Evangelical] Calvinism (now removed), I have mentioned the issue of embracing the material principle of the Reformation without the formal principles of Sola Scriptura. The idea of contemplative spirituality most definitely fall into this category. Will the New Calvinists really follow Scripture and Scripture Alone? The example of Whitney does not seem to show that this is the case.

Spiritual disciplines vs. Means of Grace. This is what we are left to decide upon, as DeWaay shows. Are we willing to follow Scripture and use the means God has given to us for our sanctification and as means to communication with God, or do we desire to be "open source" and bring in other humanistic "disciplines" as long as they do not explicit contradict the Scriptures? Geneva or Rome, Jerusalem or Babylon, let us decide.

Faith and works: Illustration from the miracle drug Chlorozoetin

Dan Phillips in the TeamPyro blog has posted an excellent article on the relation of faith to works, using a hypothetical anti-cancer miracle drug called Chlorozoetin which has two effects:

  1. The Cancer starts shrinking
  2. Your skin begins to turn green

His adaptation of passages in 1 Jn. and James is rather illustrative in demonstrating the relation of faith to works:

Everyone who has taken the Chlorozoetin has green skin, and overcomes cancer. If anyone says "I've taken Chlorozoetin," but does not have green skin, and still has growing cancer, he is a liar. By this you know that you have taken Chlorozoetin: your cancer is beaten back, and you have green skin. What use is it to say you've taken Chlorozoetin, but your skin isn't green? Will that cure your cancer?

You can read the full article here.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

An explanation of Rutherford's argument on James 2

In my previous post quoting Rutherford's argument for why James 2 is not teaching salvation by works, the argument by Rutherford is rather convoluted, thus making it hard for probably most people to grasp. In this post therefore, I would like to simplify and put forward Rutherford's main argument so that it can be better appreciated.


Let us suppose that the passage in James 2 is indeed talking about legal justification. Therefore,

1) From the text of Scripture, verse 21 teaches that Abraham was justified by his work of sacrificing Isaac on the alter. Therefore, verse 21 teaches that the act of sacrificing Isaac caused Abraham to be justified.

2) From verse 23 (quoting Gen. 15:6), it is taught that belief caused Abraham to be justified.

Scenario one shows us that Abraham was justified by works, while scenario two shows us that Abraham was justified by his faith. Both must be true since both are "derived from Scripture" (assuming James 2 is about justification in the legal sense), yet the two contradict each other, an impossibility if one believes in the inspiration of all Scripture.


I may add here that justification being considered in a legal sense means that before it, the person is not justified, and after it he is. Roman Catholics may say that initial justification (by faith) does not preclude subsequent justification (by works), and that is true only if we ignore the fact that we are talking about the legal sense of justification. Being legal, such means that prior to that justification, the person was NOT justified at all. If James 2 teaches that justification happened only after the work (of Abraham sacrificing Isaac), then justification DID not happened after faith as stated in Gen. 15:6, James 2:23.

The only recourse for the logical Roman Catholic would be to deny the legal aspect of justification here. However, that would effectively concede our case — that justification is not to be considered in the legal sense in the passage of James 2.

Secular vs secularism

With the now-ended AWARE saga, the anti-Christian liberals with their allies in the Media had been playing the religious card to discredit the ex new exco. A common mantra parroted over and over again was the need to keep religion out of the secular sphere, and that the ex new exco had violated the secular nature of a secular NGO. However, is that really the case?

What exactly do we mean by the word "secular"? According to Dictionary dot com, as based on the Random House Dictionary, a good definition of secular is:

not pertaining to or connected with religion (as opposed to sacred)

To say something is secular means that it has nothing to do with religion; it is blind to religion and does not take religion into consideration. It does not therefore mean that it is anti-religious or opposed to religion. Rather, that describes the philosophy of secularISM, which can be defined in either or both of these two ways:

1. secular spirit or tendency, esp. a system of political or social philosophy that rejects all forms of religious faith and worship.

2. the view that public education and other matters of civil policy should be conducted without the introduction of a religious element. (Dictionary.com)

Secularism is a philosophy which focus on meta-ethical issues as like developed philosophies and religions. As such, it is a partisan philosophy and is not neutral at all. Under the guise of "neutrality", it imposes its view of what is right or wrong even if their values contradict the beliefs and values of other religions. Thus, secularism is NOT secular at all, but a "religion" defined broadly-speaking in the sense of it being a comprehensive worldview (Weltenshauung) for life. (A belief in deity is not necessary for a belief to qualify as a religion, otherwise Buddhism would immediately disqualify as one). As defined in the broadest sense of the term, religion is:

a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects (Dictionary.com)

When the idea of not regarding religion is absolutized into a positive censoring of religion, then the line has been crossed from being a virtue in a multi-religious society into a totalitarian anti-religious paradigm, as we can see happened very clearly in the AWARE saga.

Confusing the issues of "secular" and "secularism", the liberals attacked the religious beliefs of the ex new exco, as if that should be an issue in the first place. Being a secular NGO, the religious beliefs of the leaders and members should be of no concern whatsoever. As it has been excellently said:

"Secular" does not mean atheism or "no religion"; it simply means "not religion-conscious", i.e., the individual's competency should not be judged by his religion.

So in a secular organisation like Aware, why should Exco members' religious affiliations matter? But The Straits Times disregarded this and emphasised daily for the 35 days, that 6 (and not even all!) Exco members attend the same church. Try emphasising the religion/race of a particular cabinet minister and see what happens to you in this country where an ISA code is in effect.

The end result of this false neutrality is totalitarianism and fascism, in which the reigning philosophy is Secular Humanism, with all others tolerated as long as they do not violate the tenets of Secular Humanism. With regards to the Christian, what this translates to is persecution under the guise of "tolerance". The results of such secular humanism can be seen as written in this article at the Faith Defenders website:

Modern humanists do not believe in the historic meaning of the freedom of religion. If the humanists have their way, the freedom of religion will be limited to believing what you want but not the freedom to practice it!

As we document in The New Atheism and the Erosion of Freedom, modern humanists do not believe that Christians have the “freedom” to teach their religion to their children, witness, pass out tracts or show any public signs of religion. The only “freedom” they will allow is freedom from religion.

Modern laws which legalize such things as abortion come from humanists who are legislating their view of morality. They are legalizing their pagan life style while trying to criminalize Christian education, church camps and orphanages, personal evangelism, Christian TV and radio programs, etc. Their understanding of religious freedom is the same as found in the Soviet Union!

God help us before society degenerates into such a state.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Rutherford: Rebuttal as if in anticipation of the "faith" and "grace" heresies

While reading Rutherford's excellent but extremely taxing book, The Covenant of Life Opened, I came across a rebuttal which Rutherford apparently meant to use against the Antinomians of his time, which is still relevant, in fact more relevant, for us today:

21. It were good to pray much, and to be dead to prayer; One of the main causes why we cry and pray much and are not heard, Psalm 22:2; Psalm 69:-3, is, because that which is proper to God the hearer of prayer, to wit, confidence and hope, we give to prayer which is not God. We pray to our own prayers and to our own wrestling [in earnest prayer] often, rather than to God: and we believer [sic believe] praying does the business and works the charm, as if prayer were Omnipotency itself.

22. Nor are we dead to faith and hope, but we believe in faith an [sic] in believing, and we hope in our own hoping in God. But [sic] was crucified for you? How many fetch peace, pardon and righteousness, not from Christ, but from their act of believing? Hence a case, whether some may not fervently pray and believe strongly, and yet be disappointed in the particular they pray for and believe they shall have? Certain it may be, especially when we are dead to Omnipotency and alive to praying and believing, and lay more weight on faith in God than on God, and on praying to God then [sic] on God himself. What Antinomians say unjustly we give to works, to wit, or peace with God, they and many unduly give to faith, not to Christ.

— Samuel Rutherford, C. Matthew McMahon (Ed.), The Covenant of Life Opened (New Lenox, IL, USA: Puritan Publications, 2005, Original 1654), p. 397

Sounds like an exact description of the "faith" (Word-faith) and "grace" (Joseph Prince and NCC) movement today, doesn't it? Truly, there is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9).

See also:

On the efficaciousness of Prayer— Does prayer operates Ex Opere Operato?

Monday, May 04, 2009

Rutherford: Why justification in James is not by works

The Puritan Samuel Rutherford has a very interesting argument on why James 2 cannot teach that we are justified by works:

How could the Scripture conclude from Abraham's being justified by works, whence he offered his Son [sic] Isaac, unless by works here we understand a working faith, the Apostle must mean the same by works, [James 2] verse 21, that he meant by faith, verse 23, for he cannot say in verse 23 the Scripture was fulfilled (in Abraham' being justified in the work of offering his son, verse 21) which said, Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness: Except it must be meant, that the work of offering his son Isaac was counted to him for righteousness. Now the letter of the Text expressively verse 23 saith that believing God was counted to Abraham for righteousness, then the work of offering his son must either be the believing declared by offering his son, and faith working by that act of offering, or if they be two sundry things, he must then say this in effect, Abraham was justified by the work of sacrificing, verse 21, causatively before God, Ergo, the Scripture is fulfilled, verse 23, and Abraham is justified by believing causatively before God, verse 23, which we cannot ascribe to the Apostle, according to their mind who make faith and works the two collateral and joint causes of Justification before God: as if one would say Peter wrought the miracle. So Abraham was justified by works, verse 21. Ergo, Abraham was justified by faith, verse 23.

— Samuel Rutherford, C. Matthew McMahon (Ed.), The Covenant of Life Opened (New Lenox, IL, USA: Puritan Publications, 2005, Original 1654), pp. 239-240

What Rutherford did here was to construct a reductio ad absurdum argument to prove that the justification in James is not the legal justification which Paul talks about. For if that were so, then according to verse 21, Justification would be because of works, while according to verse 23, justification would be because of believing, and this would lead to a contradiction. Since such is the case, the justification in James cannot be a legal justification, but the outward manifestation of true faith in a working faith.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

An "Evil as Entertainment" watchblog

It is no secret that I find Tim Challies' criteria for "evil as entertainment" watchblogs to be totally subjective. However, since the New Calvinists want to play the game of subjectivity, two can play the game.

I have just discovered the blog of a Driscoll fan, who has published quite a lot of posts denouncing the Faith Defenders blog and Stephen Macasil in particular. Between fawning over Mark Driscoll and attacking the Faith Defenders, I guess such stuff make up about 70-80% of his blog. As of today May 3rd 2009, I have counted (with some overlap) 16 posts attacking Dr. Bob Morey, Faith Defenders and the Biblical Thought blog, 16 posts promoting Mark Driscoll, and 4 neutral from Apri 3rd 2009 onwards. That turns out to be 44.4% on Dr. Bob Morey et al, 44.4% on Mark Driscoll and the remaining 11.1% on other issues.

According to Tim Challies' criteria therefore, the "True Faith Defender" blog is a watchblog which dispenses "evil as entertainment". I'll let the New Calvinists and their allies play catch-up here if they so wish to.

[Come to think of it, I sortof like playing the AODMers' role for once. All thanks to Tim Challies for his "enlightening" posts]

The ridiculous arguments in Local Church centrism

For quite a long time, I have been hearing a clamour in the mainly Baptist dominated calvinist blogosphere of the primacy of being and serving in the Local Church, with Frank Turk even stating that the focal point and center of discernment ought to be in the local church. At the expense of probably being misunderstood, let me pose a few questions to these Baptists.

Given that

1) The Baptists at their inception during the time of the Reformation were never regarded as true churches by either the Roman Church or the Protestant churches. Anabaptist clergy appointed themselves, while the situation was not better for the Particular Baptists. I don't think it need to be reminded that the American Puritans weren't too kind to these itinerant unordained preachers either.

2) The Baptists, especially the Anabaptists, form Local churches by gathering a group of like-minded Christians of which they became the pastor for that group. Needless to say, there was no ordination involved at all.

Therefore,

1) If the emphasis is to be placed on importance of the Local Church, what is there to stop person X from gathering probably 10 like-minded friends, give themselves a church name, call himself the pastor and appoint two others as elders, practice the 'ordinances' and voila! You have a new church! What argument(s) can Baptists who over-emphasize on the importance of the Local Church muster to say that this is wrong? Or perhaps they have no problem with such a scenario?

2) Since Mr. Turk and his fellow Baptist ecclesia localis centrists says that if a person wants to practice discernment, then they should do so in the context of the local church, so therefore would he accept the scenario of "watchbloggers" follow the example of person X in forming new churches "ex nihilo" (as many churches as needed), and then Mr. Turk will then allow them to exercise discernment? Will Mr. Turk then keep quiet if such were to happen?

In other matters, ...

On a blog post attacking my [Baptist] friend Stephen Macasil, it is written:

Since the closing of FCCOC, the Biblical Thought blog has become local biblical church-less not that FCCOC was ever a true local biblical church in the first place due to its lack of a true biblical church government (lack of elders). Too many of the mad attack dog postings on Biblical Thought are done by individuals that are not accountable to any local church and that now includes Stephen Macasil.

So can I surmise that all FCCOC has to do is find some Christians who they think fit the criteria of eldership as stated in 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1, appoint them elders, and then "rzhblog" will stop attacking Biblical Thought and Stephen Macasil? Somehow I doubt it.

Anti-religious bigotry of the MSM

In the AWARE (Association of Women for Action and Research) saga, which ended last night with the ouster of the (ex) new exco by the liberals and their supporters, a common method that is used to attack the ex new exco is that they are Christians fundamentalists. One such variant goes as follows:

The [newspapers] rightly give prominence to the AWARE saga BECAUSE the takeover of a secular NGO by the Christian fundamentalists... (Source, in comment)

Now, let us deconstruct that statement, and expose it for the anti-religious bigotry it espouses.

The AWARE saga started off because the Old Guard (and now new new exco) were voted out of office and replaced with a group of people who did not share their views on the promotion of lesbianism. In point of fact, the ex new exco decided to expose the old guard for the promotion of such sexual perversion. The liberal Mainstream Media (MSM), in a rare move decided to undertake investigative journalism on former president Josie Lau and her (ex) new exco, while some outraged liberals issued death threats to them.

The charge is made that the ex new exco were trying to mix religion into the secular sphere. The question is then asked: Did the ex new exco quote Scripture etc in their work? NO. So who was the one who brought up the topic of religion to begin with? It was the MSM and her liberal allies. So who was the one who is responsible for bringing in religion into the secular sphere, except the MSM and the liberals!

The sad fact of the matter is that one side has given to itself rights which it denies to the other. It is the liberals who have violated the secular clause, who have attacked and discriminated against Christians and Christianity. If the ex new exco were all Buddhists or all Muslims, can we state that there is a takeover by "Buddhist fundamentalists" or "Muslim fundamentalists"? Guess the outrage if the latter were to happen? Imagine the headlines: "Muslim fundamentalists take over secular NGO"? In fact, since the new new exco is pro-LGBT, why can't we broadcast this headline: "pro-LGBT fundamentalists take over secular NGO"?

The liberal hypocrites are on the march in Singapore. Unless we do something about it, this country will be lost. Singapore in her creed professes to believe in meritocracy "regardless of race, language, and religion". Judging by the anti-Christian hatred on display recently, perhaps a suggestion could be made to modify it into "regardless of race, language and sexual preferences, and most definitely with regards to religion".

New Evangelical Calvinism: Ambassador for Christ or embarrassed of Him?

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


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. (2 Cor. 5:18-20)

As Christians, we are called to be ambassadors for Christ; to represent our King as His messenger to proclaim His Word. In the secular world, ambassadors represent not themselves or their interests but the interests of their respective countries. Even if they personally feel a certain way, they do not express their personal feelings (or at least aren't supposed to do so), but only such as benefits their countries' interests.

The Christian is an ambassador for Christ, and thus represent Christ to his fellow men. This of course has many implications for our behavior, including how we live our lives and our witness for Christ to those who do not know Him. We will however focus on the aspect that is at contention here in the New Calvinism: The focus on being an ambassador in our attitudes in Gospel and Truth proclamation.

An organization that has became the de facto flagship of the New Calvinism, The Gospel Coalition Network, epitomized the mood of the New Calvinism in its handling of the truth, an improvement over the older New Evangelicalism half a century ago which jettisoned the importance of truth in her outreach. Instead of the perceived opposites found within "Fundamentalism" and the Postmodern Emerging Conversation, the Gospel Coalition has came up with a "mood" or approach to truth which they call a "chastened correspondence theory of truth", as stated

We adopt a “chastened” correspondence–theory of truth that is less triumphalistic than that of some in the older evangelicalism. But we also reject a view of truth that sees truth as nothing more than the internally coherent language of a particular faith– community. So we maintain, with what we hope is appropriate humility, the principle of sola Scriptura. (I.4.1) [42]

The older evangelicalism is considered "more triumphalistic" with its uncompromising proclamation of the Truth which is perceived to not take into account the fact that we perceive the Truth only partially and infallibly. Since our perception tints our view of the Truth (perspectivism), we are to be humble in our proclamation of the truth as we may be wrong. Such humility or a chastened attitude precludes the prophetic proclamation of Truth as being definitely THE truth, unless it be accompanied by disclaimers that we may be wrong and therefore invite others to correct us if they are able to; to show us that our perception may not be totally true. So says the New Calvinism and the Gospel-centered movement. However, is this view of ourselves and our knowledge of truth biblical?

First of all, it must be conceded that we are most definitely not neutral with regards to Truth, and therefore we may not be definitely true. Sometimes even what we strongly think is true may be wrong, and we should welcome criticism and evaluate our theories accordingly. However, to extrapolate this fact "We are not always definitely true" to "We are always not definitely true" is a logical fallacy, a fallacy hat the Gospel-centered movement and New Calvinism are in fact committing.

How do we Christians come to know biblical truth? We know biblical truth through God's revelation in the Scriptures, which are objective and absolute truths free from all human perspectives. The Truth therefore is present with us, and this truth being free from human perspectives and biasness will never be wrong and needs no apologizing. After all, this is what is meant when we say that Scripture is the ultimate authority for all of life.

The next step has to do with internalizing the external Truth into our minds, which of course is not an infallible process due to sin. In point of fact, the unregenerate cannot receive the truth of Christ, and are not able to perceive them as truth but only as seeming folly (1 Cor. 2:14). However, the same passage informs us Christians that we can and do definitely understand God's Truth. As it is written:

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. ... The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor. 2:12, 15-16)

Those who are truly believers, the regenerate, will have the mind of Christ and the Holy Spirit (cf Jn. 16:13; 17:17) and understand God's truth. No doubt new believers have to grow in Christ and renew their mind (Rom. 12:2), but definite knowledge of the truth can be achieved, otherwise the passage in 1 Cor. 2 makes absolutely no sense, giving us the contradiction that even with the mind of Christ and being able to judge all things, the truths we obtained through having the mind of Christ are not necessarily true. We must here differentiate between definite and exhaustive knowledge of the truth: Definite knowledge of truth deals with the quality of our knowledge of the truth as being 100% confident to be true, while exhaustive knowledge of truth deals with the quantity or depth of our knowledge of the truth. We most definitely cannot obtain exhaustive truth since we are finite and God is infinite, but there is nothing to prohibit the definite acquisition of truth especially since we have the mind of Christ.

All of this ties back in to the issue of being an ambassador for Christ. Ambassadors are to represent their countries, not themselves. Similarly, in Gospel and truth proclamations, we represent God and not ourselves. We are still not perfect and are still sinful, but we are NOT representing our own human frailties but the perfect, infallible and sinless God whose greatness surpasses our puny human frames. Having given the mind of Christ, and thus able to definitely know truth, are we then to shrink back and adopt a "chastened" attitude with regards to truth? We are jars of clay containing the truth of Christ (2 Cor. 4:7). Is the value of the treasure fundamentally affected by the type of jar it is in? So why are we so focused on ourselves rather than the Christ who uses us weaklings to proclaim His truth?

We are therefore to be bold in our proclamation, because the message we have does not depend on the state of the vessel for its existence and truthfulness. Our job is in presenting it clearly through faithful exegesis of Scripture, and thus let the Scriptures speak for themselves, and we need not ever apologize or try to be humble in its proclamation. In fact, since this is God's truth we are talking about, humility is portrayed in proclaiming it authoritatively, and the "chastened" attitude is in fact false humility which devalues the Word of God by making its proclamation less authoritative than what it actually is.

Will the New Calvinists reject this new "chastened" attitude towards the Truth of Scripture? Will we rather let Scripture and Scripture alone dictate to us the relative definiteness of the various truths of Scripture, and react accordingly, instead of allowing philosophical and cultural analyses to shape our epistemology?

Conclusion

We have seen five major issues of concern with New [Evangelical] Calvinism. All of these are serious in their own right and have the potential to derail the entire movement from the Scriptures. On top of this, the issue of pragmatism (part of New Evangelicalism) has lately reared its ugly head, seen especially when it comes to defending Driscoll and Keller from criticism by pointing to how successful they have been in reaching the lost and church planting. Now each one is a serious concern in its own right, but compounding them all together and it seems that the New Calvinism is fraught with many problems as they continue in the errors of their predecessor the conservative wing of New Evangelicalism. Will we and the New Calvinists be willing to listen to Scripture and be willing to biblically re-evaluate New Evangelicalism, or will we continue in the deluded thinking that as long as our doctrine and our Gospel narrowly defined is orthodox, our larger worldview and ministry philosophy are irrelevant? Will we learn from Scripture and from history, or will we repeat the same mistakes over again?

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. - George Santayana

May God be with us and open our eyes to see the truth and rejects the errors in the New Evangelical Calvinism. Amen.

References:

[42] Theological Vision for Ministry, The Gospel Coalition Network (http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/about/foundation-documents/vision)


Check out the full article available in PDF format here.

New Evangelical Calvinism: The New Evangelical infatuation with positivity

[continued from here, here, here and here]

This is a more extensive section evaluating the New Evangelical idea of positivity compared to the review of Challies' articles here.


The idea of being positive or seen as positive was one aspect of the New Evangelical movement [33] which is however not as easily recognized as demarcating New Evangelicalism per se. The New Evangelical/ Fundamentalist divide is remembered more for the divide over the doctrine of separation, if it is remembered at all. The apostatizing mainstream "evangelicals" in our day have long since jettisoned treasuring and proclaiming the truth, and therefore the New Calvinists do not seem to be New Evangelical in the aspect of truth as compared to the "Evangelicals" nowadays. However, this has not been the case. The early New Evangelicals like Harold Ockenga and Edward Carnell personally treasure the truth [34] and desire that biblical Christianity experience a revival in the land. Trying to have their cake and eat it, the New Evangelical strategy of infiltration backfired and it was the world that turned the church upside down instead of the other way round. But it must be remembered that the early New Evangelicals do indeed treasure the truth and were appalled by the fruit of their compromise [35].

The desire to be loving and positive, both New Evangelical traits, have never been repudiated by the New Calvinist movement, a successor of the conservative wing of New Evangelicalism. In fact, these twin related traits manifests themselves in the blogosphere in New Calvinist Tim Challies' blog post attacking so-called watchbloggers [36], of which the false accusations are soundly refuted by both Phillip R. Johnson [37] and Steven J. Camp[38]. We would not be doing a lengthy rebuttal of his attack and his subsequent clarification here [39], but just to focus on his attack post as a microcosm of the New Calvinist seeming infatuation with positivity.

The most revealing passage in this regard is seen as follows:

I want to say a word today about watchblogs or discernment blogs or whatever you want to call them. I am referring to blogs that specialize in sharing bad news. ... They may vary what they offer a little bit, but what is true of them is that they offer a steady diet of negative content related to the church in general or perhaps related to just one person or one ministry. [40]

Negativity

These statements by Challies perfectly illustrate the New Evangelical and now New [Evangelical] Calvinists' infatuation with positivity. Negativity is to be shunned as much as possible, while being positive is extolled as a virtue, all without biblical proof for such an assertion. Worse still is the fluid notion of what constitutes "positivity" and "negativity" as utilized by Challies, concepts which he did not and have not elucidate. With such a dynamic notion of "positivity" and "negativity", Challies' attack becomes wholly subjective and comes across as a holier-than-thou self-righteous proclamation of how "positive" and thus good he is compared with the "watchblogs".

What then does the Scripture teaches about our attitude? Doesn't the Scripture tell us to think about what is good, as it is written:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Phil. 4:8)

Indeed it does, but it is a false assumption that focusing on what is good necessarily implies positivity. The former denotes our attitudes and focus as Christians, while the latter denotes the way we act and conduct ourselves. Certainly, having an attitude which focuses on God and on what is commendable would have an impact on the way we ourselves act, but to absolutely correlate attitude with behavior is fallacious, as we cannot judge a person's motives based upon the appearances of his actions. This is especially so since appearances can be deceiving, as a cursory look at the prophetic books in Scripture would show. Would we when reading the book of Lamentations or Jeremiah for example think that the prophet Jeremiah was focusing on what is bad; that his attitude was to treat "evil as entertainment"? Most certainly not!

So how then should we act and conduct ourselves in light of Scriptural exhortations like Phil. 4:8? Personally, we are to strive to praise God in our lives and to proclaim the glory of His Name, treasuring the good things of Scripture and of God in our hearts. Our actions however are determined not according to some arbitrary standard of "positivity", but on how we can bring glory to God and honor Him. If praise is needed, we praise and glorify our Lord. If refutation of errors is needed, we do such a seemingly "negative" action for the positive defence of God's truth so that He would be glorified as error is overthrown and truth is enthroned. The biblical focus therefore is not whether an action is "positive" or "negative", but whether we "positively" do all for the glory of God and the defence of His truth, even as we treasure His name and glorify it in our lives and actions, whether positive or negative.

Scripture itself shows us that we must be both positive and negative in antithecal living, as it is written:

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2 Tim. 4:1-5)

Note the pattern here: Verse 1-2 are "positive" verses, which is followed by "negative" verses in verses 3-4, and capped with a "positive" statement in verse 5. Such patterns are in fact found throughout the Scripture, and this antithetical teaching and lifestyle should characterize the lives of Christians. We are to be positive and negative; positive towards godliness and truth and negative towards ungodliness and error, but in all we should focus on and glorify God "positively".

Challies with his view of being loving and his infatuation with positivity manifests his New Evangelical convictions and has done damage to the cause of Christ, with legitimate discernment ministries de-legitimized and the enemies of the Truth emboldened [41]. Just like New Evangelicalism historically, such an infatuation with positivity will slowly but surely destroy the Church. Will we reject this infatuation with positivity? Historically, New Evangelicalism threw out the need to be negative, while Fundamentalism in general tend to throw out the need to be positive. Biblical Christianity is both, and may we therefore embrace both, to the glory of God.

References:

[33] Pickering, p. 8

Early New Evangelical leaders took great pains to emphasize the fact that fundamentalists were too much "against" and not enough "for". Their plea was "Let's be positive and not negative". While this statement has an emotional appeal to many, it is not a biblical philosophy. Scripture is both positive and negative — it is for some things and against others. We must strive for that same balance.

[34] Murray, p. 20

[35] Pickering, pp. 78, 96-97

[36] Tim Challies, Evil as Entertainment, Blog post dated April 6, 2009 (http://www.challies.com/archives/articles/evil-as-entertainment.php)

[37] Phil. R Johnson, Turning a Blind Eye to Evil is Evil Too, Blog post dated April 9th, 2009 (http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2009/04/turning-blindeye-to-evil-is-evil-too.html)

[38] Steven J. Camp, Blogging, Watchblogging and Ministry, Blog post dated April 8th, 2009 (http://stevenjcamp.blogspot.com/2009/04/bloggingwatchblogging-meta-and.html)

[39] See Appendix I for a fuller rebuttal to Challies' errors in both his posts and further proof of his infatuation with positivity.

[40] Challies, Evil as Entertainment. Bold added.

[41] One just need to glance at the meta of Challies' two posts to see Warren apologist Richard Abanes and Chris Lyons of the anti-Christian watchblog CRN.info praising Challies and attacking the watchblogs, to see the damage Challies has done

Saturday, May 02, 2009

New Evangelical Calvinism: Rational and Lifestyle consistency

[continued from here, here and here]


Will we aim for rational and lifestyle consistency?

The inclusion of two emerging-leaning pastors in The Gospel Coalition, Mark Driscoll and Tim Keller, creates cause for concern as to what degree this Gospel-centeredness extends to. Will we aim for rational and lifestyle consistency even in our profession of the Gospel, or will we settle merely for outward compliance to the Gospel and perhaps agreements on the major flashpoints of the culture wars like homosexuality, complementarianism, racism and missions? What makes these flashpoints more worthy of contending for as compared to the other doctrines and practices of Scripture?

In terms of rational consistency, Keller is on the record of supporting the error of Theistic Evolution [25], an anti-biblical theory which undermines the Gospel [26], [27], especially in its belief in death before the Fall, thus falsifying the biblical teaching that death is a consequence of sin (Gen 2:17; Rom. 5:12) and destroying the foundation of the Christian faith. The internal evidence for the historicity of the Genesis account of Creation is so strong and the dependence of other parts of Scripture on the historicity of that account, including our Lord's teaching, that to deny its historicity is to severely undermine the authority of the entire Scriptures[28]. As Dr. Robert Reymond has said:

Scripture in its entirety regards the Genesis account of man's early beginnings and doings as reliable history. The Genesis account of creation is referred to many times elsewhere in the Old and New Testament Scripture ... To call into question the historical reliability of Genesis 1 and 2 is to call into question the trustworthiness of the entirety of Scripture testimony on the issue of origins. The fall of Adam is referred to in Job 31:33, Isaiah 43:27, Hosea 6:7, Romans 5:12-19, Corinthians 11:3, and 1 Timothy 2:14. Cain's murder of Abel is referred to in Matthew 23:35, Luke 11:51, Hebrews 11:4, 1 John 3:12 and Jude 11. Finally, the Genesis flood is referred to in Isaiah 54:9, Matthew 24:37-39, Luke 17:26-27, Hebrews 11:7, 1 Peter 3:20, and 2 Peter 2:5, 3:6. To call into question the historicity of Genesis 3-11, then is to call into question the trustworthiness of a great deal of later Scripture testimony..[29]

The Westminster Confession of Faith, which Keller is supposed to believe in since he is in the PCA, states:

It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create or make of nothing the world, and all things therein, whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days, and all very good (WCF, Chapt IV, Of Creation, Para 1. Bold added)[30]

Keller is rationally inconsistent in his belief in Theistic Evolution. At the same time, what he believes is contrary to the official creed of his denomination, which incidentally brings up the issue of confessional integrity but we should not digress. Since Keller is obviously a leader within the New Calvinist movement, this is a serious issue to be considered. This is so especially in light of the call to be Gospel-centered, and the insistence that such would not lead to being Gospel-only. But if the claim is made that Gospel-centeredness precludes Gospel-onlyness because the implications of the Gospel precludes such, then the willingness to be rationally consistent is necessary since that argument (that Gospel-centeredness precludes Gospel-onlyness) assumes logical and rational consistency. The example of Keller in compromising the doctrine of Creation however should give us pause to ask the New Calvinists whether they will practice what they preach, or the proclaimed fidelity to being Gospel-centered is mere lip service than actual belief and commitment, and only has bearings on certain flash-point subjects while neglecting the other essential areas of the Christian faith and practice.

The issue of lifestyle consistency would come to the fore in the case of Mark Driscoll, the most controversial figure in American Christianity nowadays due to his penchant for inappropriate language. Just a cursory look at one of Driscoll's book [31] would be sufficient to cement on most people's minds the reputation of Driscoll as being crass, and Pastor John MacArthur's series on Pulpit Magazine[32] complete with actual links to and citations of Driscoll's sermons on the Songs of Solomon confirms it. Scripture calls us to be holy, as God is holy (1 Peter 1:16). What is the point therefore of professing orthodoxy when our lifestyles do not match our doctrines?

In both of these leaders in the New Calvinist movement, we have seen both rational and lifestyle inconsistencies which undermine the Gospel they claim to believe in, not to mention the authority of Scripture over all of life. Will the New Calvinists therefore strive to be consistent in both these areas, and not just pay attention to their profession of the Gospel and the flash-point issues they want to focus on?

References:

[25] Tim Keller, The Reason for God — Belief in an Age of Skepticism (New York, New York, USA: Penguin Group, 2008), p. 87-93

[26] Ken Ham, The Lie: Evolution (Green Forest, AR, USA: MAsters Books, 1987)

[27] Robert Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 2nd Ed. (Nashveille, TN, USA: Thomas Nelson, 1998), p. 116-126

[28] Ibid., p. 118

[29] Ibid., p. 118

[30] Philip Schaff, Creeds of Christendom (3 Vol.) Volume 3, as accessed on e-Sword.

[31] Driscoll, Confessions.

[32] John MacArthur, The Rape of Solomon's Song: Part 1 (http://www.shepherdsfellowship.org/pulpit/Posts.aspx?ID=4168), Part 2 (http://www.shepherdsfellowship.org/pulpit/Posts.aspx?ID=4169), Part 3 (http://www.shepherdsfellowship.org/pulpit/Posts.aspx?ID=4172), Part 4 (http://www.shepherdsfellowship.org/pulpit/Posts.aspx?ID=4174), The Shepherds' Fellowship Pulpit Blog