Sunday, April 15, 2007

This is from Campus Crusade's 4 Spiritual Laws. There are better gospel outlines than this; however, the above diagram is pretty good.

Consider: John 20.31 (read in our church last Sunday)

John 20:31

31 but these are written so that you may believe (fact) that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing (faith) you may have life (feeling) in his name.

The liberal reconstruction of this has been - experience, trust that experience is from God, and a description of that experience - the opposite of the bible order.

Way to go Campus Crusade!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

How To Share Your Faith
I'll be examing Dave Burke's tips, along with the guidance of others.

Here are 5 things he says:
  • Make friends
  • Pray
  • Make it obvious you are a Christian
  • Bring your Christian and not-yet-Christian friends together
  • Learn to tell your story
Plus, for my Episcopal friends. Yes, we do consider a person a Christian at baptism. However, the enjoyment of that covenant established at Baptism requires repentance and faith on the part of the baptized. So, when we ask whether or not a person is a Christian, we mean, has this person repented and believed and entered into the promises conveyed at Baptism. In short, is this person a Christian.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

James White coming to All Saints' on Thursday, April 26 @ 7 pm to speak on Pulpit Crimes.

Dr. James White is the director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is a professor, having taught Greek, Systematic Theology, and various topics in the field of apologetics. He has authored or contributed to more than twenty books, including The King James Only Controversy, The Forgotten Trinity, The Potter's Freedom, and The God Who Justifies. He is an accomplished debater, having engaged in more than sixty moderated, public debates with leading proponents of Roman Catholicism, Islam, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Mormonism. He is an elder of the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church, has been married to Kelli for more than twenty-four years, and has two children, Joshua and Summer.

B.B. Warfield on I Believe...

I believe that my one aim in life and death should be to glorify God and enjoy him forever; and that God teaches me how to glorify and enjoy him in his holy Word, that is, the Bible, which he has given by the infallible inspiration of his Holy Spirit in order that I may certainly know what I am to believe concerning him and what duty he requires of me.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Calvin’s Theory.

Calvin elaborated the doctrine of predestination with greater care and precision than his predecessors, and avoided their "paradoxes," as he called some extravagant and unguarded expressions of Luther and Zwingli. On the other hand, he laid greater emphasis on the dogma itself, and assigned it a higher position in his theological system. He was, by his Stoic temper and as an admirer of Seneca, predisposed to predestinarianism, and found it in the teaching of Paul, his favorite apostle. But his chief interest in the doctrine was religious rather than metaphysical. He found in it the strongest support for his faith. He combined with it the certainty of salvation, which is the privilege and comfort of every believer. In this important feature he differed from Augustin, who taught the Catholic view of the subjective uncertainty of salvation. Calvin made the certainty, Augustin the uncertainty, a stimulus to zeal and holiness.

Calvin was fully aware of the unpopularity of the doctrine. "Many," he says, "consider nothing more unreasonable than that some of the common mass of mankind should be foreordained to salvation, and others to destruction … When the human mind hears these things, its petulance breaks all restraint, and it discovers a serious and violent agitation as if alarmed by the sound of a martial trumpet." But he thought it impossible to "come to a clear conviction of our salvation, till we are acquainted with God’s eternal election, which illustrates his grace by this comparison, that he adopts not all promiscuously to the hope of salvation, but gives to some what he refuses to others." It is, therefore, not from the general love of God to all mankind, but from his particular favor to the elect that they, and they alone, are to derive their assurance of salvation and their only solid comfort. The reason of this preference can only be found in the inscrutable will of God, which is the supreme law of the universe. As to others, we must charitably assume that they are among the elect; for there is no certain sign of reprobation except perseverance in impenitence until death.

Predestination, according to Calvin, is the eternal and unchangeable decree of God by which he foreordained, for his own glory and the display of his attributes of mercy and justice, a part of the human race, without any merit of their own, to eternal salvation, and another part, in just punishment of their sin, to eternal damnation. "Predestination," he says, "we call the eternal decree of God, by which he has determined in himself the destiny of every man. For they are not all created in the same condition, but eternal life is foreordained for some, and eternal damnation for others. Every man, therefore, being created for one or the other of these ends, we say, he is predestinated either to life or to death."

This applies not only to individuals, but to whole nations. God has chosen the people of Israel as his own inheritance, and rejected the heathen; he has loved Jacob with his posterity, and hated Esau with his posterity. "The counsel of God, as far as concerns the elect, is founded on his gratuitous mercy, totally irrespective of human merit; but to those whom he devotes to condemnation the gate of life is closed by a just and irreprehensible, though incomprehensible judgment." God’s will is the supreme rule of justice, so that "what he wills must be considered just for the very reason that he wills it. When you ask, therefore, why the Lord did so, the answer must be, Because he would. But if you go further and ask why he so determined, you are in search of something higher and greater than the will of God, which can never be found. Let human temerity, therefore, desist from seeking that which is not, lest it should fail of finding that which is. This will be a sufficient restraint to any one disposed to reason with reverence concerning the secrets of his God." Calvin infers from the passage, "God hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will, he hardeneth "(Rom. 9:13), that Paul attributes both equally "to the mere will of God. If, therefore, we can assign no reason why God grants mercy to his people but because such is his pleasure, neither shall we find any other cause but his will for the reprobation of others. For when God is said to harden or show mercy to whom he pleases, men are taught by this declaration to seek no cause behind his will."

Predestination, therefore, implies a twofold decree—a decree of election unto holiness and salvation, and a decree of reprobation unto death on account of sin and guilt. Calvin deems them inseparable. "Many indeed," he says, "as if they wished to avert odium from God, admit election in such a way as to deny that any one is reprobated. But this is puerile and absurd, because election itself could not exist without being opposed to reprobation … . Whom God passes by, he reprobates (Quos Deus praeterit, reprobat), and from no other cause than his determination to exclude them from the inheritance which he predestines for his children."

God bestows upon the reprobate all the common mercies of daily life as freely as upon the elect, but he withholds from them his saving mercy. The gospel also is offered to them, but it will only increase their responsibility and enhance their damnation, like the preaching of Christ to the unbelieving Jews (Isa. 6:9, 10; Matt. 13:13–15). But how shall we reconcile this with the sincerity of such an offer?

Infralapsarianism and Supralapsarianism.

Within the Calvinistic system there arose two schools in Holland during the Arminian controversy, the Infralapsarians (also called Sublapsarians) and the Supralapsarians, who held different views on the order of the divine decrees and their relation to the fall (lapsus). The Infralapsarians adjust, as it were, the eternal counsel of God to the temporal fall of man, and assume that God decreed, first to create man in holiness; then to permit him to fall by the self-determination of his free will; next, to save a definite number out of the guilty mass; and last, to leave the rest in sin, and to ordain them to eternal punishment. The Supralapsarians reverse the order, so that the decree of election and reprobation precedes the decree of creation; they make uncreated and unfallen man (that is, a non-ens) the object of God’s double decree. The Infralapsarians, moreover, distinguish between an efficient or active and a permissive or passive decree of God, and exclude the fall of Adam from the efficient decree; in other words, they maintain that God is not in any sense the author of the fall, but that he simply allowed it to come to pass for higher ends. He did not cause it, but neither did he prevent it. The Supralapsarians, more logically, include the fall itself in the efficient and positive decree; yet they deny as fully as the Infralapsarians, though less logically, that God is the author of sin. The Infralapsarians attribute to Adam before the fall the gift of free choice, which was lost by the fall; some Supralapsarians deny it. The doctrine of probation (except in the one case of Adam) has no place in the Calvinistic system, and is essentially Arminian. It is entirely inapplicable to infants dying in infancy. The difference between the two schools is practically worthless, and only exposes the folly of man’s daring to search the secrets of God’s eternal counsel. They proceed on a pure metaphysical abstraction, for in the eternal God there is no succession of time, no before nor after.

Calvin was claimed by both schools. He must be classed rather with the Supralapsarians, like Beza, Gomarus, Twysse, and Emmons. He saw the inconsistency of exempting from the divine foreordination the most important event in history, which involved the whole race in ruin. "It is not absurd," he says, "to assert that God not only foresaw, but also foreordained the fall of Adam and the ruin of his posterity." He expressly rejects the distinction between permission (permissio) and volition (voluntas) in God, who cannot permit what he does not will. "What reason," he asks, "shall we assign for God’s permitting the destruction of the impious, but because it is his will? It is not probable that man procured his own destruction by the mere permission, and without any appointment of God. As though God had not determined what he would choose to be the condition of the chief of his creatures. I shall not hesitate, therefore, to confess with Augustin, ’that the will of God is the necessity of things, and what he has willed will necessarily come to pass; as those things are really about to happen which he has foreseen."

But while his inexorable logic pointed to this abyss, his moral and religious sense shrunk from the last logical inference of making God the author of sin; for this would be blasphemous, and involve the absurdity that God abhors and justly punishes what he himself decreed. He attributes to Adam the freedom of choice, by which he might have obtained eternal life, but he wilfully disobeyed. Hence his significant phrase: "Man falls, God’s providence so ordaining it; yet he falls by his own guilt." Here we have supralapsarian logic combined with ethical logic. He adds, however, that we do not know the reason why Providence so ordained it, and that it is better for us to contemplate the guilt of man than to search after the bidden predestination of God. "There is," he says, "a learned ignorance of things which it is neither permitted nor lawful to know, and avidity of knowledge is a species of madness."

Here is, notwithstanding this wholesome caution, the crucial point where the rigorous logic of Calvin and Augustin breaks down, or where the moral logic triumphs over intellectual logic. To admit that God is the author of sin would destroy his holiness, and overthrow the foundation of morality and religion. This would not be Calvinism, but fatalism and pantheism. The most rigorous predestinarian is driven to the alternative of choosing between logic and morality. Augustin and Calvin could not hesitate for a moment. Again and again, Calvin calls it blasphemy to make God the author of sin, and he abhorred sin as much as any man ever did. It is an established fact that the severest Calvinists have always been the strictest moralists.

Infant Salvation and Damnation.

Are infants dying in infancy included in the decree of reprobation? This is another crucial point in the Augustinian system, and the rock on which it splits.

St. Augustin expressly assigns all unbaptized children dying in infancy to eternal damnation, because of original sin inherited from Adam’s transgression. It is true, he mitigates their punishment and reduces it to a negative state of privation of bliss, as distinct from positive suffering. This does credit to his heart, but does not relieve the matter; for "damnatio," though "levissima" and "mitissima," is still damnatio.

The scholastic divines made a distinction between poena damni, which involves no active suffering, and poena sensus, and assigned to infants dying unbaptized the former but not the latter. They invented the fiction of a special department for infants in the future world, namely, the Limbus Infantum, on the border region of hell at some distance from fire and brimstone. Dante describes their condition as one of "sorrow without torment." Roman divines usually describe their condition as a deprivation of the vision of God. The Roman Church maintains the necessity of baptism for salvation, but admits the baptism of blood (martyrdom) and the baptism of intention, as equivalent to actual baptism. These exceptions, however, are not applicable to infants, unless the vicarious desire of Christian parents be accepted as sufficient.

Calvin offers an escape from the horrible dogma of infant damnation by denying the necessity of water baptism for salvation, and by making salvation dependent on sovereign election alone, which may work regeneration without baptism, as in the case of the Old Testament saints and the thief on the cross. We are made children of God by faith and not by baptism, which only recognizes the fact. Calvin makes sure the salvation of all elect children, whether baptized or not. This is a great gain. In order to extend election beyond the limits of the visible means of grace, he departed from the patristic and scholastic interpretation of John 3:5, that "water" means the sacrament of baptism, as a necessary condition of entrance into the kingdom of God. He thinks that a reference to Christian baptism before it was instituted would have been untimely and unintelligible to Nicodemus. He, therefore, connects water and Spirit into one idea of purification and regeneration by the Spirit.

Whatever be the meaning of "water," Christ cannot here refer to infants, nor to such adults as are beyond the reach of the baptismal ordinance. He said of children, as a class, without any reference to baptism or circumcision: "Of such is the kingdom of God." A word of unspeakable comfort to bereaved parents. And to make it still stronger, he said: "It is not the will of your Father, who is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish" (Matt. 18:14). These declarations of our Saviour, which must decide the whole question, seem to justify the inference that all children who die before having committed any actual transgression, are included in the decree of election. They are born into an economy of salvation, and their early death may be considered as a sign of gracious election.

But Calvin did not go so far. On the contrary, he intimates very clearly that there are reprobate or non-elect children as well as reprobate adults. He says that "some infants," having been previously regenerated by the Holy Spirit, "are certainly saved," but he nowhere says that all infants are saved. In his comments on Rom. 5:17, he confines salvation to the infants of pious (elect) parents, but leaves the fate of the rest more than doubtful. Arguing with Catholic advocates of free-will, who yet admitted the damnation of unbaptized infants, he asks them to explain in any other way but by the mysterious will of God, the terrible fact "that the fall of Adam, independent of any remedy, should involve so many nations with their infant children in eternal death. Their tongues so loquacious on every other point must here be struck dumb."

And in this connection he adds the significant words:, It is an awful (horrible) decree, I confess, but no one can deny that God foreknew the future, final fate of man before he created him, and that he did foreknow it, because it was appointed by his own decree."

Our best feelings, which God himself has planted in our hearts, instinctively revolt against the thought that a God of infinite love and justice should create millions of immortal beings in his own image—probably more than half of the human race—in order to hurry them from the womb to the tomb, and from the tomb to everlasting doom! And this not for any actual sin of their own, but simply for the transgression of Adam of which they never heard, and which God himself not only permitted, but somehow foreordained. This, if true, would indeed be a "decretum horribile."

Calvin, by using this expression, virtually condemned his own doctrine. The expression so often repeated against him, does great credit to his head and heart, and this has not been sufficiently appreciated in the estimate of his character. He ventured thus to utter his humane sentiments far more strongly than St. Augustin dared to do. If he, nevertheless, accepted this horrible decree, he sacrificed his reason and heart to the, rigid laws of logic and to the letter of the Scripture as he understood it. We must honor him for his obedience, but as he claimed no infallibility, as an interpreter, we must be allowed to challenge his interpretation.

Zwingli, as already remarked, was the first and the only Reformer who entertained and dared to express the charitable hope and belief in universal infant salvation by the atonement of Christ, who died for all. The Anabaptists held the same view, but they were persecuted as heretics by Protestants and Catholics alike, and were condemned in the ninth article of the Augsburg Confession. The Second Scotch Confession of 1590 was the first and the only Protestant Confession of the Reformation period which uttered a testimony of abhorrence and detestation of the cruel popish doctrine of infant damnation.

But gradually the doctrine of universal infant salvation gained ground among Arminians, Quakers, Baptists, Wesleyans, Presbyterians, and is now adopted by almost all Protestant divines, especially by Calvinists, who are not hampered by the theory of baptismal regeneration.

Zwingli, as we have previously shown, was equally in advance of his age in regard to the salvation of pious heathens, who die in a state of readiness for the reception of the gospel; and this view has likewise penetrated the modern Protestant consciousness.

Defence of the Doctrine of Predestination.

Calvin defended the doctrine of predestination in his Institutes, and his polemical writings against Pighius, Bolsec, and Castellio, with consummate skill against all objections, and may be said to have exhausted the subject on his side of the question. His arguments were chiefly drawn from the Scriptures, especially the ninth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans; but he unduly stretched passages which refer to the historical destiny of individuals and nations in this world, into declarations of their eternal fate in the other world; and he undervalued the proper force of opposite passages (such as Ezek. 33:11; 18:23, 32; John 1:29; 3:16; 1 John 2:2; 4:14; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9) by a distinction between the secret and revealed will of God (voluntas arcani and voluntas beneplaciti), which carries an intolerable dualism and contradiction into the divine will.

He closes the whole discussion with this sentence: "Now while many arguments are advanced on both sides, let our conclusion be to stand astonished with Paul at so great a mystery; and amidst the clamor of petulant tongues let us not be ashamed to exclaim with him, ’O man, who art thou that repliest against God?’ For, as Augustin justly contends, it is acting a most perverse part to set up the measure of human justice as the standard by which to measure the justice of God."

Very true; but how can we judge of God’s justice at all without our own sense of justice, which comes from God? And how can that be justice in God which is injustice in man, and which God himself condemns as injustice? A fundamental element in justice is impartiality and equity.

Practical Effect.

The motive and aim of this doctrine was not speculative but practical. It served as a bulwark of free grace, an antidote to Pelagianism and human pride, a stimulus to humility and gratitude, a source of comfort and peace in trial and despondency. The charge of favoring license and carnal security was always indignantly repelled as a slander by the Pauline "God forbid!" and refuted in practice. He who believes in Christ as his Lord and Saviour may have a reasonable assurance of being among the elect, and this faith will constrain him to follow Christ and to persevere to the end lest he be cast away. Those who believe in the perseverance of saints are likely to practice it. Present unbelief is no sure sign of reprobation as long as the way is open for repentance and conversion.

Calvin sets the absolute sovereignty of God and the infallibility of the Bible over against the pretended sovereignty and infallibility of the pope. Fearing God, he was fearless of man. The sense of God’s sovereignty fortified his followers against the tyranny of temporal sovereigns, and made them champions and promoters of civil and political liberty in France, Holland, England, and Scotland.

Confessional Approval.

The doctrine of predestination received the official sanction of the pastors of Geneva, who signed the Consensus Genevensis prepared by Calvin (1552). It was incorporated, in its milder, infralapsarian form, in the French Confession (1559), the Belgic Confession (1561), and the Scotch Confession (1560). It was more logically formulated in the Lambeth Articles (1595), the Irish Articles (1615), the Canons of Dort (1619), the Westminster Confession and Larger Catechism (1647), and the Helvetic Consensus Formula (1675). On the other hand, the First Helvetic Confession (1536), the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), the Second Helvetic Confession (1566), and the Anglican Articles (1571, Art. XVII.) indorse merely the positive part of the free election of believers, and are wisely silent concerning the decree of reprobation and preterition; leaving this to theological science and private opinion. It is noteworthy that Calvin himself emitted the doctrine of predestination in his own catechism. Some minor Reformed Confessions, as that of Brandenburg, expressly declare that God sincerely wishes the salvation of all men, and is not the author of sin and damnation.


Schaff, P., & Schaff, D. S. (1997). History of the Christian church. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.