No Gospel Without Predestination, but You can Have Predestination Without the Gospel

I just read a good book from Trinity Foundation about Knox seminary breakup (Reymond and Sproul out) called Imagining a Vain Thing by Steven Matthews.

Matthews challenges biblical theology’s “interpretive maximalism” and James Jordan and the federal vision and Vos. He attacks the mysticism of “Christ is in every verse of the OT” which sets itself up against “rationalism”. He shows the papist origins of a Sensus Plenior hermeneutic. (p66)

A current professor at Knox Seminary, Warren Gage, got his PHD (in political philosophy) from Roman Catholic University of Dallas, and taught that Protestants slandered the pope by identifying him as the antiChrist.

Matthews observes that James Kennedy’s willingness to be ecumenical with Romanists in “his eagerness to fight the culture wars”. (p102) Many (not all) Reformed people tend to care a lot less about tulip (Gage called unconditional grace rape) but want to “hold the culture”. (p51)

One reservation I have about the book is Matthews saying that “predestination is not the gospel” (p104). I would say that it’s part of the gospel, that election is good news, and that you cannot teach the nature of the atonement without teaching its extent–sufficient only for the intended).

But I think I agree with the larger point of Matthews: a person can sincerely believe in predestination, and still be clueless about how God is just and justifier. I believed in predestination long before I was converted (when God handed me over to the doctrine of the gospel, Romans 6:17).

In other words, a false gospel can teach that God predestinates and monergistically enables a sinner to be justified by works. A false gospel can teach that the death of Christ was sufficient for everybody but not effective until the predestinated work of the Spirit causes the elect to by faith make the atonement effective in their case. And so on…

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2 Comments on “No Gospel Without Predestination, but You can Have Predestination Without the Gospel”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    Job 40: 6 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: 7 “ I will question you, and you make it known to me. 8 Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?

    Habakkuk 1:13 You who are of purer eyes than to see evil
    and cannot look at wrong,

    Carl Trueman: Owen’s insistence on absolute necessity of the cross could well be construed as a denial of God’s freedom to act in any other way, and thus of his omnipotence. Owen’s defense of God’s liberty against the background of such views is twofold. First, it is clear from his argument that God’s vindicatory justice is not absolutely necessary, but as its relational nature shows, it is contingent on the existence of rational, sinful creatures and, thus, on the creation. Creation, as an uncoerced act of God’s will, is not necessitated by his own being but is an act of free choice; thus, no act involving the creation is, in an absolute sense, necessary.

    Secondly, Owen denies that God’s freedom requires that God BE ABLE TO CHOOSE whether to punish sin or not but simply that such punishment must be performed with a concomitant liberty, i.e., in a way that is entirely consistent with his own nature. To assert that Owen denies God’s freedom by arguing for the necessity of atonement is simply to betray a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of that freedom. One might as well argue that the fact that God cannot tell a lie makes him less than all-powerful. God’s justice is the sum of all his perfections and has priority over his will; all of his external acts are to be consistent with this; given the existence of sinful creation, God must punish because failure to do so would amount to a denial of the necessary relationship that exists between creature and creator.” (Calvin Theological Journal 33 (1998): pg. 95-96)

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Some “Calvinists” believe in a “limited atonement” in that they say that “”Jesus only died for those He knew He would enable to ask Him to die for them”
    ie, if you ask Jesus to die for you, He will
    that is “limited atonement”, but it’s not what the Bible teaches about the nature of propitiation for the imputed sins of the elect


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