CLASSICAL ARMINIANISM

What, exactly, is meant by "Classical" Arminianism?

ARMINIUS vs. WESLEY

Understand the distinctions between Classical Arminianism and Wesleyan-Arminianism.

CALVINISTS MISREPRESENTING ARMINIANISM

Discover which Calvinists tend to misunderstand and misrepresent Arminius or Arminianism.

DUTCH REFORMED LITURGY

Discover the liturgical traditions of Arminius' Dutch Reformed church.

ARMINIUS AND THE REMONSTRANTS FOR RELIGIOUS TOLERATION

Unlike Dutch Calvinists, Arminius and the Remonstrants sought for religious toleration in Holland.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Blogging Anonymously

I've decided to blog anonymously. I've been thinking about this, asking the opinions of others about this, and have decided to do just that. What that means, however, is that I cannot offer a link to my new site, which is up and running now, as you read this. That would defeat my purpose. Why am I doing this? 

Like it or not, the hard and sad reality is that I've tainted my name. When some people see the name "William Birch" online, they dismiss the blog and/or the post, no matter if the material is actually worth noting -- no matter the degree of remorse and repentance I have experienced, by the grace and mercy of God. Blogging anonymously will bring a quick solution to that problem. 

Also, having been so open about my same-sex attraction has cost me some credibility as well. Another hard and sad reality is that some people, knowing that a same-sex attracted individual has written a post -- especially someone that has committed a grievous and very publicly-known sin -- they dismiss what is written, no matter if the material is actually worth noting. Blogging anonymously will bring a quick solution to that problem. 

My blogging habits will remain the same on the new site. I will still write on the subjects of Anglicanism, Calvinism, Arminianism, devotional issues and sexual ethics. If you ever find the site, and you think that I may be the author -- my writing is obvious to some people -- then just read and comment without asking for my name or addressing me personally. I will not be admitting that I am the author of the site. 

This Classical Arminian site will remain up, but I will shut off the comments option by the end of this week. Some of you have been very encouraging to me, and I won't soon forget it! I can still be reached at the email remonstrants@hotmail.com. May the Lord bless each of you greatly. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Findings in Arminianism


Findings in Arminianism -- March 21, 2014
"Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart." (Psalm 32:11 NRSV)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Work Around Your Abyss

"There is a deep hole in your being, like an abyss. You will never succeed in filling that hole, because your needs are inexhaustible. You have to work around it so that gradually the abyss closes. 

"Since the hole is so enormous and your anguish so deep, you will always be tempted to flee from it. There are two extremes to avoid: being completely absorbed in your pain and being distracted by so many things that you stay far away from the wound you want to heal." 

Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Inner Voice: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom (New York: Image Books, 1998), 3. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Why Some Calvinists Are Not Reformed

The Reformed document of 1562 (revised in 1566) referred to as the Belgic Confession, penned by Presbyterian Guido de Brès, and revised by Franciscus Junius (who debated Jacob Arminius in several letters on matters of the Reformed faith, particularly the doctrine of election), maintained the Reformed principle of baptizing infants as a sign of the covenant. Those who could not subscribe to this baptism formula were not deemed "Reformed":   
For this reason we believe that anyone who aspires to reach eternal life ought to be baptized only once without ever repeating it -- for we cannot be born twice [an implied nod toward baptismal regeneration, at least in liturgical language1]. Yet this baptism is profitable not only when the water is on us and when we receive it but throughout our entire lives.

For that reason we detest the error of the Anabaptists who are not content with a single baptism once received and also condemn the baptism of the children of believers. We believe our children ought to be baptized and sealed with the sign of the covenant, as little children were circumcised in Israel on the basis of the same promises made to our children. (emphases added)
How, then, can credobaptist Calvinists (those who believe in adult- and/or believers-only baptism) call themselves Reformed? Merely being a Calvinist or Calvinistic does not make someone Reformed. Therefore, credobaptist Calvinists are in serious error ecclesiologically with regard to what it means to be Reformed. The Reformed document of 1563, known as the Heidelberg Catechism, considered one of the most highly regarded and influential of the Reformed catechisms, teaches the same (emphases added):
74. Q. Should infants, too, be baptized?
A. Yes. Infants as well as adults belong to God's covenant and congregation.[1] Through Christ's blood the redemption from sin and the Holy Spirit, who works faith, are promised to them no less than to adults.[2] Therefore, by baptism, as sign of the covenant, they must be grafted into the Christian church and distinguished from the children of unbelievers.[3] This was done in the old covenant by circumcision,[4] in place of which baptism was instituted in the new covenant.[5]
[1] Gen. 17:7; Matt. 19:14. [2] Ps. 22:11; Is. 44:1-3; Acts 2:38, 39; 16:31. [3] Acts 10:47; I Cor. 7:14. [4] Gen. 17:9-14. [5] Col. 2: 11-13.
We understand from history that the Belgic Confession was one of the documents that the Dutch Calvinists used against the Arminians at the Synod of Dort (1618-19). The Canons of Dort included doctrinal standards commensurate with the Belgic Confession, and all three confessions, known as the Three Forms of Unity, comprise Reformed principles and dogma.

According to the Three Forms of Unity, particularly with the Canons of Dort, Arminius, the Remonstrants, and Arminianism were viewed as insufficient and in error with regard to Reformed standards. While Arminians who are also pædobaptists are considered far more Reformed than are credobaptists -- including Calvinistic credobaptists -- Dutch Calvinists still considered Arminianism -- the anachronistic theology of the early Church fathers2 -- to be in error.

Even the Calvinist articles of the Canons of Dort refute credobaptist Calvinistic ecclesiology:
Article 17: The Salvation of the Infants of Believers.  
Since we must make judgments about God's will from his Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature but by virtue of the gracious covenant in which they together with their parents are included, godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom God calls out of this life in infancy. (emphasis added)
Credobaptist Calvinists cannot accept these Dortian views, and, therefore, cannot be considered "Reformed." Baptists belong to what is known as the Radical Reformation of the Anabaptists, not to the Reformation of Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli, the latter of whom would have drowned all credobaptists, regardless of their adopted Calvinistic views, for their credobaptist heresy.

Many credobaptists also cannot accept the Reformed documents of the Three Forms of Unity because they are Presbyterian in nature, not Congregational ecclesiologically. Not only would the Reformers have rejected their credobaptistic views, but also their ecclesiological errors of congregationalism (a model that has no Church support historically, contradicts the Presbyterian and Episcopal models of Reformed principles, as well as Scripture, cf. Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5).

Even the Westminster Confession of Faith is a Presbyterian document, and not a Baptistic or Congregational confession. Again, merely being a Calvinist does not make one "Reformed." Calling credobaptistic Calvinists "Reformed" is tantamount to calling a hammer a car merely because it is found in a garage.

__________

1 The Heidelberg Catechism answers: "73. Q. Why then does the Holy Spirit call baptism the washing of regeneration and the washing away of sins? A. God speaks in this way for a good reason. He wants to teach us that the blood and Spirit of Christ remove our sins just as water takes away dirt from the body. But, even more important, He wants to assure us by this divine pledge and sign that we are as truly cleansed from our sins spiritually as we are bodily washed with water."

2 Kenneth Keathley, Professor of Theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, comments, "What is called Arminianism was nearly the universal view of the early church fathers and has always been the position of Greek Orthodoxy." See Kenneth D. Keathley, "The Work of God: Salvation," in A Theology for the Church, ed. Daniel L. Akin (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2007), 703. Dr. Keathley's accurate assessment is merely another reminder of how so many theologians of the Church drifted into theological error due to the influence of St Augustine's errors of the early fifth century. These theologians include but are not limited to Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, Martin Bucer, Heinrich Bullinger, Peter Martyr Vermigli and John Knox.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The "Old Testament God" vs. Jesus (Part Two)

Some scholars believe that Jesus was "the Angel of the LORD" in the Old Testament (cf. Gen. 16:7-11; 21:17; Exodus 3:2, 14, 15; Joshua 22:22-35), though not in each reference (cf. Zech. 1:9, 11, 12, 14, 19; 2:3; 3:1, 3, 5, 6; 4:1, 4, 5; 5:5, 10; 6:4, 5; 12:8), which is also known as a theophany (an appearance of God) or a Christophany (an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ). This "angel," lit. messenger, assumes the Name of God, YHWH, for Himself and speaks on His own authority.

Let us assume that these scholars are correct. If so, we find an unmistakable identity of the pre-incarnate Jesus with the so-called inglorious actions of God in the Old Testament. For example, we read:
So the LORD sent a pestilence on Israel from that morning until the appointed time; and seventy thousand of the people died, from Dan to Beer-sheba. But when the angel [i.e., the Angel of the LORD, cf. 2 Sam. 24:16] stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD relented concerning the [calamity], and said to the angel who was bringing destruction among the people, "It is enough; now stay your hand." The angel of the LORD was then by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. When David saw the angel who was destroying the people, he said to the LORD, "I alone have sinned, I alone have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let your hand, I pray, be against me and against my father's house." (2 Samuel 24:15-17 NRSV)
God was angry with Israel, and so He allowed an adversary to incite David's pride and ambition in taking a census (cf. 1 Chron. 21:1) -- conscripting an army in a time of peace -- something which demonstrated a lack of trust in the God of Israel and a growing trust in his own efforts (a sad state which even Joab noted; cf. 2 Sam. 24:3), and thus this act itself was one of judgment. So the LORD gave David an option of judgment from which to choose for his disobedience: he chose "the pestilence," which manifested itself as the Angel of the LORD -- i.e., the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus Christ -- destroying some seventy thousand of the people of Israel that day.

But why was God the Father, and the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus Christ, killing off people in the Old Testament by the hundreds and thousands? If God does not do so today then why did He do so back then? We must always remember the historical context of life in Israel's theocracy (a government, such as Israel, ruled by God). God instructed the Israelites: "When you draw near to a town to fight against it, offer it terms of peace." (Deut. 20:10) So, God was not interested in war merely for the sake of war. Eugene Merrill comments:
In the context [Deut. 20:10] this refers to any places outside the parameters of the land the Lord had promised to Israel as an inheritance (cf. v. 16). These peoples were not subject to hērem [terms of war, expulsion, boycott] . . . but many of them would constitute a threat to Israel from time to time and so had to be preemptively or defensively attacked; in addition, all were hostile to the purposes of God and so were subject to his punitive wrath.1
But were not even some women and children killed as a result of the wars sanctioned by God? Yes, this is, even to this day, a tragic reality concerning war; but women and children are not typically targeted as casualties of war. Moreover, the children, especially, are, against their will, entangled in an unfortunate web of national politics due to the actions of their fathers as well as their nation.

What is known as the Canaanite Conquest tends to garner much attention from atheists and agnostics in an effort to undermine belief in a God who would not merely allow but actually command the killing of even infants and women. This perspective, however, is shortsighted, dishonest and naïve. The Canaanites were a detestable and deplorable people who practiced and celebrated "idolatry, incest, temple prostitution, adultery child molestation and sacrifice, homosexuality, and bestiality. Each of these has been extensively documented. . . ."2 Clay Jones informs us:
Molech was a Canaanite underworld deity represented as an upright, bull-headed idol with human body in whose belly a fire was stoked and in whose arms a child was placed that would be burnt to death. It was not just unwanted children who were sacrificed. Plutarch reports that during the Phoenician (Canaanite) sacrifices, "the whole area before the statue was filled with a loud noise of flutes and drums so that the cries and wailing should not reach the ears of the people.3
So, when we read of the conquest of the Canaanites, we are not referring to an oppressed people on whom anyone should look with pity. But God did not judge only ungodly sinners like the Canaanites -- He disciplined Israel time after time, even sending them into exile in Babylon, which the Israelites so very much despised (cf. Psalm. 137:8, 9). Jones notes that often the truth is ignored that God at times dealt with Israel with even more severity than He did with other nations (cf. Lev. 18:28; Deut. 28:25-68). Odd, is it not, that critics of the God of Israel do not question His integrity on this fact?4

The rhetoric of "ethnic cleansing" and "genocide," used predominantly by atheists, agnostics, and skeptics, is entirely unwarranted with regard to Israel and the Canaanites, as Israel's conquest of the land of Canaan was "not motivated by racial superiority or hatred."5 God, as inherently, eternally holy in essence and nature, is incapable of being unjust, or ever doing anything worthy of the judgment or critique of His creatures. We incite an affront on the integrity, grace, mercy and patience of God when we insist (and not merely question) that God has behaved in any manner whatsoever such as that which would undermine His very nature, essence, and justice.

__________

1 Eugene H. Merrill, Deuteronomy, An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary), ed. E. Ray Clendenen (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1994), 285.

2 Clay Jones, "Is God a Genocidal Bully?" in Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists, eds. Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2010), 177.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid., 178.

5 Ibid. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

God is (Not) Dead

Oxford philosophy professor Vince Vitale, in the video short below, references (atheistic) philosopher Quentin Smith, saying that, in the year 2000, Smith wrote an article in which he "blasts his fellow atheist philosophers for having lost so much ground to Christian philosophers. He says, 'God is not dead in academia. He is alive and well in His last academic stronghold: philosophy departments.'

"And he goes on to say that if you took atheistic philosophers, who don't specialize in religion, and you lock them in a room with theist philosophers, who do specialize in religion, and debates ensued, he suspects that you would have to conclude that the theists -- the believers in God -- definitely had the upper hand in every single argument or debate."



I found this video first on Triablogue, and then uploaded it from YouTube.  

The "Old Testament God" vs. Jesus (Part One)

This question was posed to me: "If Jesus is indeed a reflection of the Father, then what's up with the God of the Old Testament killing people off?" The question is an excellent one, and one that is asked often. I want to attempt a reasonable answer. I encourage others to join the conversation in the comments section, clarifying, adding to or correcting what I offer. 

Jesus, Son of God, is "the reflection of God's glory and the exact imprint of God's very being," admits the author of Hebrews. (Heb. 1:3 NRSV) To have seen Jesus is to have seen God, admits Jesus Himself. (John 14:7, 9, 10, 11) Jesus was "with" God from eternity past and He is God. (John 1:1) What can be confessed of Jesus can be confessed of God, except confessing that Jesus is the Father, since He is the Son. 

Is there duplicity in God? Why does God seem to behave in such harsh manners in the Old Testament, while Jesus came "meek and mild," to serve and not be served? (Matt. 20:28) Pop-atheist Richard Dawkins complains: "What makes my jaw drop is that people today should base their lives on such an appalling role model as Yahweh,"1 meaning God. Perhaps modern societal perspective is distorted, not entirely with its view of God, but regarding its view of Jesus. Perhaps part of the alleged problem with the "bully" or "genocidal God" of the Old Testament is due to an improper view of Jesus in the New Testament.

Yes, Jesus was the perfect example of humility, full of compassion and a tireless willingness to help others. But in some sense He was also a cultural rebel who challenged the religious right of His day (John 2:13-22) as well as the Jewish-cultural norm of His own hometown (Matt. 13:57) and the governing officials (Luke 19:28-38). He admits that a prophet is not honored in His own village and yet He returns to His own village. (Luke 4:14-27; John 1:11) He challenged the fundamentalist religious right of His day on numerous occasions (Matt 23), concluding that they were hypocrites (Matt. 23:13, 15, 16, 23, 25, 27, 29), snakes, brood of vipers (Matt. 23:33) and sons of the Devil himself (Matt. 23:15). Finally, Jesus
entered Jerusalem during a great festival, in full view of adoring crowds, as a king come home to rule. Riding the colt, heralded by the people with cloaks and branches, accompanied by the royal anthem (Psalm 118), he rode in to claim Jerusalem for God and himself as God's anointed. The Roman overlords and the Jewish leaders watched this seditious act and prepared for a crucifixion.2 
Perhaps neither of these actions is deemed offensive to our modern sensibilities. Though Jesus' actions, reactions and words were very offensive in His first-century context, we do not sense the same impact as did His opponents. So, let us move directly to an act that will place Him in a skeptical light -- to some people, at least:
When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and there came a great earthquake; the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree drops its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll rolling itself up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the magnates and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" (Rev. 6:12-17 NRSV, emphases added) 
Jesus is here associated with the pouring out of judgmental wrath on sinners. The picture becomes even more bleak at His return: "From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty." (Rev. 19:15, emphases added) This reminds us of what Paul wrote concerning the same: "And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming." (2 Thess. 2:8) In the same letter he writes:
For it is indeed just of God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to the afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, separated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes to be glorified by his saints and to be marveled at on that day among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. (2 Thess. 1:6-10, emphases added)
Even during His earthly ministry He painted a very disturbing picture regarding someone who does not remain faithful to Him (Matt. 24:45-51), the conclusion of which portrayed Him as cutting that person "in pieces" and placing such a one among "the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt. 24:51) With a much fuller portrait of Jesus, the apparent disconnect between "the God of the Old Testament" and Jesus Himself is properly corrected. 

__________ 

1 Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008), 281.

2 The Episcopal Handbook, ed. Kristofer Skrade (New York: Church Publishing, 2008), 174. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Remember Therefore From Where You Have Fallen

I've been in a strange "place" for the last few months. I think I've erred in some ways; and I can sense in my spirit that I'm not exactly where I should be spiritually. As I've been thinking about it, and praying about it, I awoke today, Saturday, March 15, still thinking about it when a verse of Scripture came to my remembrance: "Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent, and do the deeds you did at first" (Rev. 2:5 NASB). The emphasis was placed in my mind on just that: "do the deeds you did at first." 

Sometimes, in order to move forward, you have to look back. Not look back to the life prior to coming to faith in Christ (Luke 9:62); not look back to all the mistakes and sin (Eph. 4:17-20). I'm to look back to what I did "at first," having first come to faith in Christ, that time when the grace of salvation first visited my soul with the promise of eternal life. I have to rediscover the mystery of the faith, the beauty of salvation, the glory of God in Christ through the Spirit. 

So I picked up my New American Standard Bible, and my CD of Margaret Becker's Grace , and I looked back. I remembered from where I had fallen, and began to do the deeds I did at first, when I first came to faith in Christ. My focus had shifted (Col. 3:1, 2, 3). My gaze had turned earthward. I had become so earthly-minded, that I was no heavenly good, as the saying goes. Sometimes, in order to move forward, you have to look back.

Change, repentance, can be difficult. But if we are to experience genuine change, genuine repentance, we must trust in the One who desires, seeks, and effects our conversion and transformation. Henri Nouwen asks, "Do you really want to be converted? Are you willing to be transformed? Or do you keep clutching your old ways of life with one hand while with the other you beg people to help you change?"1 Those are hard-hitting questions. As difficult as change may be, we have to confront and answer them. He continues:
Conversion is certainly not something you can bring about yourself. It is not a question of will-power. You have to trust the inner voice that shows the way. You know that inner voice. You turn to it often. But after you have heard with clarity what you are asked to do, you start raising questions, fabricating objections, and seeking everyone else's opinion. Thus you become entangled in countless often contradictory thoughts, feelings, and ideas and lose touch with the God [who lives] in you. And you end up dependent on all the people you have gathered around you.2
Well, he might as well have confessed to be writing about me, personally. In a brief seven sentences, Nouwen described my journey over the last few months.

God's "inner voice," if you will, has graciously and gently been leading me back on course. At least, that is my perspective so far. I realize I'm not giving details, and that is intentional. This is not a private on-line journal, after all (which is quite the contradiction: "private" and "on-line" are not synonyms). But I write this today in case others may be experiencing much of the same tone with the Lord's "inner voice" graciously and gently leading them back on course. Just remember, sometimes, in order to move forward you have to look back.

__________

1 Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom (New York: Image Books, 1998), 6.

2 Ibid.  

Christians Beheaded by Extremists in Somalia

Baptist Press reports: "NAIROBI, Kenya (BP) -- Islamic extremists from the rebel Al Shabaab militia last week publicly beheaded a mother of two girls and her cousin in southeastern Somalia after discovering they were Christians, Morning Star News reported from sources inside the country.

"In the port town of Barawa, the extremists March 4 called residents to the town center to witness the executions of the 41-year-old mother, Sadia Ali Omar, and her 35-year-old cousin, Osman Mohamoud Moge, the sources said.

"Before killing them, an Al Shabaab militant announced, 'We know these two people are Christians who recently came back from Kenya. We want to wipe out any underground Christian living inside of mujahidin [jihadists'] area,' according to an area resident whose name is undisclosed for security reasons."

 Read more . . . 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Findings in Arminianism


Findings in Arminianism -- March 14, 2014
God speaking: "For I desire mercy [lovingkindness, loyalty, deeds of devotion] and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings." (Hosea 6:6 NKJV)

The Idolatry of a Denominational God

To know Him, in and through the person of Jesus, is eternal life (John 17:3). Sadly, though, such a conclusion only creates fear in some people. They stake their eternity on maintaining the objectively biblical view of God on all matters and all related issues. They would rather live in deception than to understand that not all of their views of God are entirely biblical; and so they will bark their theology at us all the live-long day. My fear is that such people are guilty of idolatry, and idolaters (even very religious ones) will never enter heaven (1 Cor. 10:7; Rev. 21:8; 22:15).

Read more . . . 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Faith, Works, and Salvation in Arminian Theology

"Now to the one who works," writes the apostle Paul, "wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness." (Rom. 4:4-5 NIV) Q. According to the apostle Paul, for what does his subject work? A. The person, taken contextually, is attempting to work for (or earn) his or her salvation. But Paul is proclaiming that the plan of salvation excludes one's works, or merit, vying instead for complete trust in the righteous merit of Christ alone.

In the gospel "the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith." (Rom. 1:17 NASB) The person who desires to earn salvation by performing good works (e.g. works of the Law) is insisting that Christ's righteous life and atoning death and subsequent resurrection was needless, gratuitous; it is ultimately blasphemous. 

The apostle informs us that the application of God's righteousness is not applied or accredited to one who tries to work for salvation (through performing legalistic works of the law) but to the one who trusts solely in Christ (by obeying the gospel command to trust in Christ), the conclusion of which is that faith in Christ is not a work. Faith is opposed to works. However, faith works. In other words, the one who has faith in Christ will perform good works, since the born again believer is created in Christ Jesus for good works (Eph. 2:10).

For certain Calvinists, to suggest that Arminianism promotes a works-oriented salvation -- that Arminians essentially make faith a work (which, according to the apostle Paul is an impossibility, cf. Rom. 4:4-5, 16) -- or leaves room for boasting (another impossibility, cf. Rom. 3:27), is nothing short of slanderous and displays an ample amount of ignorance on their part regarding Arminian theology proper. Dr. Leroy Forlines writes the following:
Arminians believe that faith is the condition of justification [Rom. 5:1]. Calvinists also believe that faith is the condition of justification. The problem comes . . . in Calvinists' claim that regeneration must precede faith and give birth to faith [contrary to Scripture, cf. Col. 2:13]. Since Arminians believe the sinner can believe without first being regenerated, the Calvinists tend to view faith in Arminianism as being a work. Thus they have charged that Arminians believe people are justified by works.1
Though there is a vast difference between the Calvinistic doctrine of God allegedly "giving" His unconditionally elect faith to believe in Christ, in His sovereign time, and the Arminian's doctrine of God enabling (John 6:44, 65) or granting (Phil. 1:29) someone to have faith in Christ, the latter cannot in any way whatsoever be admitted as a work.

Scripture does not make the argument that in order for faith to not be a work it must be irresistibly "given" to God's unconditionally elect. Christ Jesus told a crowd of people, "This is the work of God [i.e., the work which is required of God], that you believe in Him whom He has sent." (John 6:29, emphases added). If regeneration precedes faith, Jesus should have said, "This is the work of God, that He will give you faith to believe in Him whom He has sent." Calvinists, thus,  have people saved and regenerated prior to faith in Christ (or so that the unconditionally elect will have faith in Christ, as they would state the matter).

But Scripture does not teach that God saves people in order to give them faith. Scripture teaches that God saves people by regeneration (Titus 3:5), not on the basis of good works (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:10; Eph. 2:9; Titus 3:5), but by grace through faith in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:8-9; Col. 2:13). Moreover, salvation by grace through faith excludes all boasting. The ground of our justification is the person and work of Jesus Christ. Again, Dr. Forlines comments:
In Classical Arminianism, the ground of justification is the imputation of the death and righteousness of Christ to the believer's account. The condition of justification is faith in Jesus Christ. Faith in no way whatever gets any consideration as any form of merit that would form the smallest part of the ground of my justification. The only ground of my justification before God is the penal death of Christ and His life of absolute obedience to the Father.2
We believe this summation to be the biblical view of all matters pertaining to salvation by grace through faith in Christ, and such is what Arminianism proper tenaciously holds. Hence there is no room or cause for boasting: "But he who boasts is to boast in the Lord." (2 Cor. 10:17). Dr. Forlines' conclusion is my own:
If when I stand before God He should ask me, "What is your hope of acceptance based on?" I would not mention anything that I have ever done or not done. I would say, "My hope is built on nothing less and nothing more than the death and righteousness of Christ." I would not even say, "I had faith in Christ." When I declared that I was basing my hope of acceptance on the death and righteousness of Christ -- that and that alone would be a manifestation of my faith. . . .3
__________

1 F. Leroy Forlines, Classical Arminianism: A Theology of Salvation, ed. J. Matthew Pinson (Nashville: Randall House Publications, 2011), 266.

2 Ibid., 267-68.

3 Ibid., 268.

Sermon on the Mount: Filled with Justice and Righteousness

As any homeless person can testify, to be in hunger and thirst is a desperate situation. When some homeless people hold signs that read "Will Work for Food," some of them, the really desperate ones, really will work for some food. Their deep desire for food and drink drives them to do whatever they have to do in order to find satisfaction. The same is true spiritually, so admits Jesus. Those who are desperate enough to see what God deems right come to fruition will be satisfied. 

Read more . . . 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

God is Not Allah: Allah is Not the Christian God

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is not Islam's Allah. The Jesus of first-century fame is not the mere man and alleged prophet of the Koran. The Holy Spirit of inerrant Scripture is not the angel Gabriel as portrayed in the Koran. To claim that the Christian God and the Islamic God refer to the same God is asinine at best and blasphemous at worst. 

GOD AS TRIUNE 

The Koran insists, "They have certainly disbelieved who say, 'Allah is the third of three.' And there is no god except one God. And if they do not desist from what they are saying, there will surely afflict the disbelievers among them a painful punishment" (Surat Al-Mā'idah 5:73). This quote is enough evidence to distinguish between the two Gods; meaning, they are not the same Person.

All orthodox Christians defend the biblical doctrine of the Triune God, making Unitarian and Modalist views of God heretical: "He therefore that will be saved must think thus of the Trinity," states the Athanasian Creed. There is one God who exists in Three Persons. Not three gods, nor one Person, but one God in Three Persons.

What is God but essence? Essence is:
1. The intrinsic or indispensable properties that serve to characterize or identify something.
2. The most important ingredient; the crucial element.
3. The inherent, unchanging nature of a thing or class of things.
4. a. An extract that has the fundamental properties of a substance in concentrated form.
    b. Such an extract in a solution of alcohol.
    c. A perfume or scent.
5. One that has or shows an abundance of a quality as if highly concentrated: a neighbor who is the essence of hospitality.
6. Something that exists, especially a spiritual or incorporeal entity. (link)
The essence of God has always existed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This "tri-union," as stated in the Athanasian Creed, "neither confounding [confusing, nor conflating] the persons nor dividing the substance." The Creed continues:

And in this Trinity none is afore, or after another; none is greater, or less than another;
But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal.
So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
He therefore that will be saved must think thus of the Trinity.

In Islam, the essence God can only exist in One Person, while in orthodox Christianity the essence God exists in Three Persons. One Person and Three Persons do not signify the same God.

GOD THE SON

In Islam, Jesus is merely a man and a prophet; while in orthodox Christianity He is the Son of God and the Son of Man. Though Muslims revere Jesus as a virgin-born, miracle-working prophet of Allah, they deny Him Sonship and deity, making Islam heretical, damnably so, and Allah a false god; since the living and true God (1 Thess. 1:9) begat a Son named Jesus Christ -- Himself divine and worthy of all worship and obedience.

Moreover, Islam denies to Christ Jesus His propitiatorial role as Savior of sinful mankind by His crucifixion as well as His subsequent resurrection!
And [for] their saying, "Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah." And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain (Surat An-Nisā' 4:157).
This Islamic portryal is a different Jesus. Again, we must concede that Islam is a false (not orthodox) religion advocating a false god. God's Son, Jesus Christ, is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world by crucifixion (John 1:29; Luke 24:7), so that those who will trust in His blood sacrifice and subsequent resurrection can be saved (John 3:16; Rom. 10:9-10).  

GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT 

In Islam, the Holy Spirit is the angel Gabriel (link), while in orthodox Christianity He is the Third Person of the Triune Godhead, who, as the Nicene Creed affirms, proceeds from the Father and the Son, and "with the Father and the Son He is worshiped and glorified."

In essence He is God, and as God He sovereignly works in the hearts of people (1 Cor. 12:11), searches the heart (1 Cor. 2:10), testifies with our spirit (John 15:26), bears witness (1 John 5:6), teaches us divine truths in our spirit (John 14:26), convicts us of sin (John 16:8-11), prays and makes divine intercession for us (Rom. 8:26), guides the believer inwardly into all truth (John 16:13), brings about one's regeneration (John 3:5, 6; Titus 3:5), strives inwardly with people (Gen. 6:3), sends out messengers (Isa. 48:16), calls people into ministry (Acts 13:2; 20:28), directs people to the service of Christ (Acts 8:29; 10:19; 16:6, 7), and imparts spiritual gifts at His will (1 Cor. 12:7, 11) -- all divine attributes of which an angel is inherently incapable of performing.  

ANOTHER GOD, ANOTHER CHRIST, ANOTHER SPIRIT, ANOTHER GOSPEL

If Christians concede that Islam's false god is synonymous with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 3:6; Matt. 22:32), the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 1:3; 1 Pet. 1:3), then we deny and blaspheme Him.

The apostle Paul complained about the Corinthian believers being all too eager to heed other voices proclaiming another Jesus, receiving a different spirit from the one that they had already received, and for adopting and promoting a different gospel from the one they had originally accepted (2 Cor. 11:4).

He also wrote to the Galatian believers regarding his astonishment that they were so quick in deserting God, who had called them in the grace of Christ, in turning to a different gospel (Gal. 1:6-8). He insisted: "As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed!" (Gal. 1:9)

There is no other gospel (Gal. 1:7) and there is no other God besides our Triune God (Isaiah 45:5, 6, 14, 21, 22; 46:9; 47:8, 10). All other versions of God are false gods, and God will judge all who worship false gods, which are nothing in reality (Isaiah 46:1-2; 48:5), though the worship of such is demon-worship (cf. 1 Cor. 10:20).

If such is true -- that all worship of false gods is tantamount to demon-worship -- then worshiping Allah is demon-worship. The same came be said of any other false god that is worshiped in the earth since the dawn of mankind. The living and true God (1 Thess. 1:9) states: "I am the LORD, and there is no other; besides me there is no god" (Isaiah 45:5). 

Sermon on the Mount: The Humble Believer Will See God

"God blesses those who are humble [meek, gentle], for they will inherit the whole earth" (Matt. 5:5 NLT), says Jesus to the gathered people listening to Him teach. Most of us, no doubt, are used to reading the word "meek," or even "gentle," here instead of "humble." This Greek word, praus, is of uncertain origin, but is, according to Verlyn Verbrugge, thought to refer to a disposition of one being gentle (mild, kind), humble, considerate, yielding and forbearing.

Read more . . .