Archive for the ‘liberals’ category

Letter to My Local Pca Pastor

October 13, 2017

Last night I went to see Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames, a program co-sponsered by you and your congregation. What I saw and heard was a false gospel and a false Christ.

The cross was presented as something that the devil did to Jesus. There was no presentation of “sin” as that which demands the justice of God so that God gives the Son to satisfy justice for the sins of His people.

The cross was presented in the first five minutes as something that MADE NO DIFFERENCE at the end. Since it was clearly said several times that Jesus died for every person, nobody in the audience could conclude that the difference between saved and lost was Christ’s death on the cross.

(Big deal! he died for those in hell too)
Time after time, the difference was said to be what the listeners did. So there was no good news at all last night, but only commands to believe in a false Christ and a false gospel.

In the end Satan gets people for whom Jesus died. That ideas brings dishonor and reproach to Jesus and His work. Care you more for the approval of other clergy persons than do you do for the honor of Christ?

The entire presentation was one long appeal to the flesh, to the natural mind. Sample statements:
You all got a “knower”.
You got to humble yourself.
You got to have the courage to say the prayer.
It’s up to you in the next 60 seconds.
He’s the path, but you are the chooser.
You got to really mean it.
If you will stand up, you will be a “special person”.
God will not throw it in your lap.
It’s God’s gift, but your accepting the gift is the difference.
If you say this after me, your name will be written in the book.
And most infamously: “just do it!”
And then people clapped when they did it.

And I cried.

Before I was converted, I was more theologically sophisticated than other folks, and I would have been “righteously offended” . But I cried, helpless, not knowing what to do or to say. “God, do you want me to stand up and interrupt when they say that Jesus died for those who go to hell?” Maybe I should have. I don’t want to be a fatalist. I don’t want to shirk my responsibility to the truth. But then again, I want people to be offended at the gospel, not at me. It wasn’t my meeting. It wasn’t my church. It wasn’t my Christ who was being “pitched”.

The trouble is that you don’t preach the gospel because you don’t preach particular redemption. Thus you avoid the offense of saying that the difference between saved and lost is the death of Jesus (and that all those for whom Jesus died will be brought to faith in the true gospel and saved from the sin of idolatry involved in believing the false gospel.)

You may on occasion talk in code language that reassures some people that you believe what the WCF says about particular redemption. But you avoid the antithesis. Thus you avoid the truth. You agree that you only have another interpretation but speak peace to those who say that God is neither wise nor holy nor just in saving all for whom Jesus died.

I think you tolerate and sponsor what you really believe. If you think of Heaven’s Gates as the gospel, or even as “pre-evangelism”, then you do not really believe the gospel. “Unconditional grace” without preaching the just and effective death of Christ is not the gospel, but merely lawlessness. Romans 1:17–“in the gospel a righteousness is revealed”…

What was “sin” in the presentation? Doing drugs, social drinking, not going to church, and, ultimately, not accepting Jesus. But Romans 10:3 teaches us that it is sin to try to establish our own righteousness instead of submitting to the righteousness of God. The righteousness of God is not out there to be taken at people’s discretion.

The righteousness of God demands that those for whom Christ died will not only stop hating God and His righteousness but also that all of the elect be forgiven for their sin of hating God and His righteousness. When you abridge the gospel, you substitute your own wisdom for that of God.

What am I to do when nineteen clergymen say to the town in which I live that this is the gospel? I am not a pessimist: I do not believe that Satan ultimately rules even this present age. . But I know that Satan is behind the presentation I saw last night. Satan does not wear a red cape. He substitutes a false gospel for the real one and calls it grace

If God’s sovereignty causes it to happen, it must be grace-which is why you were born a Christian and an American

February 14, 2017

Douthat–“That’s not who we are.” So said President Obama, again and again throughout his administration, in speeches urging Americans to side with him against the various outrages perpetrated by Republicans. And now so say countless liberals, urging their fellow Americans to reject the exclusionary policies and America-first posturing of President Donald Trump. The problem with this rhetorical line is that it implicitly undercuts itself. If close to half of America voted for Republicans in the Obama years and support Trump today, then clearly something besides the pieties of cosmopolitan liberalism is very much a part of who we are.”

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/kingdom-through-covenant-a-review-by-michael-horton

Mike Horton–Hebrews assumes a category of covenant members who are in some sense beneficiaries of the Spirit’s common work through the means of grace. They are covenant members “who have once been enlightened” (ancient church documents use “baptized” and “enlightened” interchangeably), “who have tasted the heavenly gift [the Supper], and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away” Specifically, they have fallen away from the new covenant… Through their covenant membership they have shared in God’s common grace, and now, if they respond in unbelief, they will bear the curses of the new covenant. A Baptist interpretation cannot account for this category of common covenant beneficiaries of grace who spurn the objective common grace delivered to them and fall away. It is only covenant theology that accounts for this tertium quid between “foreigners to the covenant” and “elect members.” Some non-elect brothers and sisters share the new covenant in common with the elect.

Mike Horton—”Covenant theology does not teach that the covenant of grace itself is “breakable”. God promises his saving grace in Christ to each person in baptism, whether they embrace this promise or not… The word proclaimed and sealed in the sacraments is valid, regardless of our response, but we don’t enjoy the blessings apart from receiving Christ with all of his benefits. …..To be claimed as part of God’s holy field comes with threats as well as blessings. Covenant members who do not believe are under the covenant curse. How can they fall under the curses of a covenant to which they didn’t belong? ”

We did not choose to be born in America, so doesn’t that prove that it’s grace to be born in America?

If God’s sovereignty causes it to happen, it must be grace—This is why you were born a Christian and this is why you need to become a Christian?

Was the election of Obama and Trump an accident OR was it OUR mistake?

If American cannot become some better, isn’t that saying that America is equivalent to what America always was?

We made some bad decisions, but that’s not who we are?

If America did something terrible even one time, does that mean that American could maybe do it again?

When we go to the meetings, we say, We are Americans, it’s been four years since we voted

But we were born here, and so we cannot say that we are not Americans anymore (we are not baptists anymore)

We can watch everybody else, but nobody but us can watch us

having a king was not God’s idea
your idea, God told them, but God is still king
and what will happen now with your king
is not God’s will but then again not against God’s will
call it a “hand over”

Since you did not choose your parents, and you did not choose where to be born
therefore it must be all grace, not a choice

so why do you hear so many sermons commanding you to “become what you are”?

Do this because of who you are now or because of who you will become—Those appeals makes sense.

But become what you are?

If we are x, we do not need to become x unless of course there is some kind of “as if fiction” happening.

Because you are justified, become thankful

If you are justified, you stay justified, unless you are in a covenant where Christ is not the mediator.

if you are justified, you don’t become condemned, unless you are in a covenant which is not governed by election and take as good news an atonement which is not governed by election.

Nobody has always been justified, but those who have been justified are not still being justified, unless they are in a covenant where law is grace and grace is law.

http://www.samstorms.com/all-articles/post/four-views-on-eternal-security

Sam Storms: “The contention is that the blessings listed in Hebrews 6: 4-5 are experienced neither by the “saved” nor the “unsaved” but by those persons who belong to the covenant community but who have not been regenerated or come to saving faith in Christ. The contention is that to such persons the warning passages, threatening the consequences of apostasy, are addressed. Other views are faulted for failing to recognize “a category for a person who is in the covenant but not personally united by living faith to Jesus Christ”

Sam Storms– I find this entirely unpersuasive. There is no indication in the New Testament that anyone was regarded as a member of the New Covenant (as promised in Jeremiah 31 ) apart from faith in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. …

Paul—I am a Citizen of the Occupation

March 3, 2016

Martin was the son of a Lutheran pastor and a submarine commander in World War I. By the time World War II came, Martin had become a pastor like his father. Martin spoke positively of his country—“When this great nation was formed, God gave it Christianity for its soul, and from these Christian roots it has grown.” Martin joined the army with his two sons.

Martin’s allegiance should have to be Christ’s kingdom, not to the earthly nation where he lived. Martin Niemoller was a German citizen. He volunteered to serve in the Nazi army in submission to his earthly nation.

I am often told that the apostle Paul “used his Roman citizenship” and that this means that I have a duty to vote in the “democracy” which is the American empire. Back during the situation of Romans 13, I am told, we Christians were not citizens of Rome, but now things have changed and we Christians are now ourselves the magistrate, and so now we only submit to ourselves. And then I am told that submission to the powers, in this new situation, means becoming part of the powers, so it’s my duty to vote or even to kill for the American empire.

What is being left out of this story is the fact that the Roman empire was an occupation force within Israel. Did only Roman citizens have a duty to support or kill for Rome? Or did non-Roman citizens also have a duty to obey the Roman empire?

When we are reminded that “Paul used his citizenship”, should we conclude that only Paul needed to submit to Roman occupation? More importantly, is it true that those with an extra ‘citizenship” are in a better position to live as Christians in the world?

pastor Martin Luther–“When Christians went to war, they struck right and left and killed, and there was no difference between Christians and the heathen. But they did nothing contrary to Matthew 5;38-39 because they did it not as Christians. but as obedient subjects, under obligation to a secular authority.”

Click to access Secular-Authority-To-What-Extent-It-Should-Be-Obeyed.pdf

I Corinthians 7—I don’t need to be out of jail, but also I don’t need to be in jail, therefore there is nothing I could gain if Roman citizens had the vote about occupying Israel.

Paul used his Roman citizenship twice:
Acts 16:37 The first time was after being beaten and imprisoned in Philippi. He used it to no apparent benefit to himself. He announced his citizenship after his beating and humiliation. The effect was to put the public authorities on the spot. Paul got a severe beating-and then an apology. He didn’t get, or try to get, an audience with the powers. They wanted him to leave town, and he did.

Acts 22:25-27.The second time Paul used his Roman citizenship was after the Jews had tried to kill him, but BEFORE he was flogged. The consequences of this dragged on for the rest of Paul’s life. It did not keep Paul from being killed. Most likely Paul was never ‘free’ again, spending the rest of his time in the Roman legal system/under arrest..

Paul did not use his Roman citizenship as a means to spread the gospel, because there was nothing about his being Roman that could add to the gospel or create an “apologetic” for the gospel. For Paul the crucial issue was being in Christ, not the various options on how one can be in the world. Being Roman didn’t make being in Christ more significant or effective. Being Roman didn’t create opportunities for the gospel. God’s effectual calling does not depend on what liberal political theory likes to call “religious liberty”.

Acts 21—You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law. 21 But they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to abandon Moses, by telling them not to circumcise their children or to walk in our customs. 22 So what is to be done? They will certainly hear that you’ve come. 23 Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have obligated themselves with a vow. 24 Take these men, purify yourself along with them, and pay for them to get their heads shaved. Then everyone will know that what they were told about you amounts to nothing, but that you yourself are also careful about observing the law. 25 With regard to the Gentiles who have believed, we have written a letter containing our decision that they should keep themselves from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from what is strangled, and from sexual immorality.”
26 Then the next day, Paul took the men, having purified himself along with them, and entered the temple, announcing the completion of the purification days when the offering for each of them would be made. 27 As the seven days were about to end, the Jews from Asia saw him in the temple complex, stirred up the whole crowd, and seized him, 28 shouting, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people, our law, and this place. What’s more, he also brought Greeks into the temple and has profaned this holy place.”

Acts 26: 29 “I wish before God,” replied Paul, “that whether easily or with difficulty, not only you but all who listen to me today might become as I am—except for these chains.” 30 So the king, the governor, Bernice, and those sitting with them got up, 31 and when they had left they talked with each other and said, “This man is doing nothing that deserves death or chains.” 32 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been released if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

Paul could have simply gone to Rome. God had been able to direct Paul before without having to resort to such convoluted arrangements. Paul had enough popular appeal that people, influential people, wanted to see and hear him. But Paul didn’t go to Rome: he went to Jerusalem. The prophetic word his brothers and sisters received before he went there led them to strongly urge him not to go. He rejected their counsel. Their wisdom was driven by their concern for Paul and was under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Even if one has a “word from God”, that word does not have self evident meaning— it must be evaluated.

The chief men of the church in Jerusalem were concerned about appearances, so they had Paul do something which was unnecessary in an attempt to improve his standing with the Jews. They had him take four men through the rite of purification with him, a practice the Jews might appreciate but which had no value for the maturing of the church in Jerusalem. In fact, it seems more like accommodation to the religious culture than anything. This is the event that caused the problem; not Paul or the men being there, but the assumption by some Jews that Paul had gentiles in the temple. This might be a good example of what results when we are concerned with appearances. Paul accepts the counsel of those in Jerusalem he is not particularly close to, of whose high standing he professes to have no particular regard, and who are motivated by their concern for appearances.

http://www.englewoodcc.com/NLArchive/504JA.html

Martin Luther —I will not oppose a ruler who, EVEN THOUGH HE DOES NOT TOLERATE THE GOSPEL, will smite and punish these peasants without offering to submit the case to judgement. For he is within his rights, since the peasants are not contending any longer for the Gospel but have become faithless, perjured, disobedient, rebellious murderers, robbers, and blasphemers, whom even heathen rulers have the right and power to punish….

Luther—If the ruler can punish and does not, then he is guilty of all the murder and all the evil which these fellows commit, because, by willful neglect of the divine command, the ruler permits them to practice their wickedness, though he can prevent it, and is in duty bound to do so. Here, then, there is no place for patience or mercy. It is the time of the sword, not the day of grace. Therefore will I punish and smite as long as my heart bears. Thou wilt judge and make things right.’ Thus it may be that one who is killed fighting on the ruler’s side may be a true martyr in the eyes of God…On the other hand, one who perishes on the peasants’ side is an eternal brand of hell…

The Magisterial Reformers insisted that the problem was with “anabaptists” sneering at the benefits the “natural order” which has been preserved for us by those whose vocation for God is to kill. The problem is not German or Genevan lesser magistrates at war against emperor and pope or peasants. Though the earth in the age to come will be the Lord’s, to be practical in this present age the earth must be kept from the parasites and preserved for the invisible hand of providence. And this means we can vote (and be glad that other people don’t vote, democracy does not depend on majority consent). Only idealists cannot compromise between two evils, and we can accuse such people as those who immanentize the eschaton…

So when we fear the Muslim Turks, we do not need to tempt God by only relying on the second coming of Christ, because we have our American citizenship. And we can either make alliances with them or bomb them. And in the same manner as Paul was saved from death by the hands of the Romans (because he was a hybrid, both Roman and Christian) , we too will not tempt God by trusting God to save us, even though two swords may not be enough,

Hitler (after the failure of the assassination plot)—“it was providence that spared me. This proves that I am on the right track. I feel that this is the confirmation of all my work.” But all things happen because God predestined them to happen not because God approves these things. God works all things for the good of the elect does not mean that all things are good. Job’s friends— all suffering is evidence that God does not like you?But Psalm 7318 speaks of the prosperity of the non-elect. “Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin.”

George Eliot describing a preacher loyal to the status quo or tradition “Let him be ardent and imaginative on the coming advent of Christ, but cold and cautious toward every other infringement of the status quo. Let him be hard and literal in his interpretation only when he wants to hurl texts at the heads of adversaries, but when the letter of the Scriptures presses too closely on hi genteel Christianity, let him use his spiritualizing alembic and disperse the letter of the Scripture into impalpable ether. ” http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/42612/

Stop Your Doing is NOT the Gospel

September 18, 2015

The new evangelical often has an either/or mindset. Either the fundamentalism we left, or what we are now. The truth is that there are many false gospels, many ways to be lost, and just because you have rejected one wrong way does not mean that you now believe the true gospel.

When one has abandoned the scoldings of “first legalism” (no wine or TV) for the moral pep talks of “ordinary attendance in a confessional community” preachers, one has only exchanged one form of moralism for another.

The evangelical who used to be a fundamentalist now often thinks that grace means that theological doctrine doesn’t matter when it comes to saved and lost.

In a “covenant of grace” where grace is conditional but not merited, it’s not helpful to judge individuals saved or lost based on their gospel doctrines.

Unless we tell all people without exception, without respect of persons, that God demands a perfect righteousness and that God provided this righteousness only for the elect, then we still have a man-centered legalistic cult. It may be a happier kind of cult. But it still is not submissive to God’s gospel.

But don’t I understand that “covenant of grace” people are given grace to meet the conditions? And in the PCA (as opposed to Reformed Baptist) set of conditions, it all begins with the Chuck Swindoll idea that God does not demand righteousness but only the faith to “not-perform”.“

“Start stopping your doing”

Where the old legalism said that it was saved because it out-performed others, the new legalism claims to have done it the right way now by not doing, and to have performed not-performing where others were still trying to perform. Very often in both cases the finished death for the elect of Jesus Christ is not even in the picture

BE A MAN Kill your Enemies

September 2, 2013

Freddy, you are the one who’s queer
How could you do this to me?
Why do you seek the living among the dead?

Derek Webb, singing to Fred Phelps about graveyard protests

“A man who cannot defend his wife and family from an attacker because he ‘equally loves’ the attacker is hardly a man. We do not respect such a person. There is a time to love and a time to hate just as there is a time for war and a time for peace. An inability to discriminate in such a matter is a sign of sickness in a man. We despise and shun those who are cowards in times of war. We have no respect for the man who cannot make sound and proper decisions in these matters. “ , one of my theonomist friends

I Peter 1:21—“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you would follow in his steps. When He reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly.”

mcmark: now the sarcasm alert:

First of all, let us notice that Jesus never had a wife or children. If Jesus had a wife and children, then surely he would have been a queer, a fairy, or possibly effeminate, not to kill any and all sinners who might pose a threat to His family. We could not respect Jesus if He had been unwilling to kill to protect his mother.

His inability to tell the difference between the Roman occupation and the constitutional government of Israel does call into question his idea that the true kingdom on earth comes by power and not by fighting. (John 18:36)

Second of all, since God loves some of His enemies but not all of His enemies, we must despise the man who waits for God to justly judge enemies. In some cases, when the enemies are far away (or don’t live next door), the best way to prove one’s non-homosexuality is pre-emptive killing .

Even though God loves some of His enemies, for us it is wise to love only those who return the love. Why put your own life at risk when someone attacks your wife, when you could own a gun and simply kill them if they need killing?

Third of all, while it is true that Jesus ended up dying at the hands of His enemies, we need to remember that Jesus did not love all sinners but only some sinners. Even though God has from before the creation of the ages by election united to Christ SOME of His enemies, we who believe in sovereign grace don’t need to discriminate when it comes to enemies.

Since we are not God, and only pansies wait for God to protect our wives (when we could use means and do it ourselves) or to provide vengeance (we can do that also) for our wives, it’s best simply to kill more enemies.

This includes also of course all the enemies of Israel, and all the enemies of Israel’s servant-nation, the USA. If you want to be thought of as a man, if you want to be respected, then you will kill even women and children if they live in a country that might attack the USA.

Even though we do not have a specific command to do that kind of thing in the new covenant, we know God did command this in the old covenant. And since there is only one God, only one gospel, only one covenant, only one church, only one circumcision, and since God has not said to stop bringing slaves into the covenant, and since God has not said to stop killing enemies, there is no need to get in a sweat about the example of the person who died on the cross for the sake of some of His enemies.

Since our deaths would not save anybody, why should we die when we could grow a pair and act like men who love our wives in a way that does not pretend to love the wives we kill in Syria…

Romans Thirteen

July 22, 2013

“Christians cannot measure whether we should revolt against the state, as if a certain states could fall short on the status of being states, and therefore need to be revolted against. Nor can we measure by this yardstick whether a nation-state has been ordained by God, because all nation-states have been predestined by God. All the powers that be are subject to the sovereignty of God, and Christians are to be subject to them all.

It is not by accident that the imperative of verse 13:1 is not literally one of “obedience”. The Greek language has good words to denote “obedience”. What the text calls for, however, is subordination. The Christian who refuses to worship Caesar but who is put to death by Caesar, is being subordinate even though he is not obeying.

The motives of this subordination are found not in fear or in calculations of how best to survive, but “in the mercies of God” (12:1) or in “conscience” (13:5). If the reason of our subordination is not God’s having legitimated the wrath of the state (or delegating the wrath to the state), what is our reason? Further attention to the motif of subordination as it is urged upon the slave ( I Peter 2:13) or upon family members (Col 3:18), shows the reason to be that Jesus Christ himself accept subordination and humiliation (Phil 2:5).

The willingness to suffer is then not merely a test of our patience or a dead space of waiting for Jesus to return. Willingness to suffer instead of killing is an imitation of God’s victorious patience with the rebellious powers of his creation.

John H. Yoder, Politics, p 213

Orthodox on the Gospel, But Still Hating Enemies?

September 27, 2012

Some of the most “orthodox on the gospel” folks I know are also the same folks who read Chronicles (if my people) as if it were talking about a covenant of works with America. And some of the folks who agree with me that Muslims don’t care if they are being killed for Christian reasons or secular ones, well, these folks have no clue about what the gospel is.  Here I am talking about quaker and mennonite and roman catholic pacifists. They don’t believe the gospel, they don’t know the gospel, but they do know we shouldn’t kill.

That is not only a disappointment to me, but a puzzle. People who have the same gospel have different politics, and people who have the same politics have different gospels. And I ask myself, how can they know so much about the grace of God and think the way they do about their enemies? And they ask themselves about me, how can he be so “conservative” when it comes to gospel doctrine, and still not see the right of America to do whatever it takes to protect Israel from the Muslims?

I could say there are different kinds of “conservative”. Neo-cons who want their version of ” economic liberalism” are not the same as Luther and Calvin when it comes to politics. But what I usually say is this–you can believe the gospel without wanting to “conserve” that which has come about with the passing of time..

Psalm 109 Be not silent, O God of my praise!
2 For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me,
speaking against me with lying tongues.
3 They encircle me with words of hate,
and attack me without cause.
4 In return for my love they accuse me,
but I give myself to prayer.
5 So they reward me evil for good,
and HATRED FOR MY LOVE.
the enemy  6 “Appoint a wicked man against him;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.
7 When he is tried, let him come forth guilty;
let his prayer be counted as sin!
8 May his days be few;
may another take his office!
9 May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow!
10 May his children wander about and beg,
seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!
11 May the creditor seize all that he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!
12 Let there be none to extend kindness to him,
nor any to pity his fatherless children!
13 May his posterity be cut off;
may his name be blotted out in the second generation!
14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord,
and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out!
15 Let them be before the Lord continually,
that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth!
16 For he did not remember to show kindness,
but pursued the poor and needy
and the brokenhearted, to put them to death.
17 He loved to curse; let curses come upon him!
He did not delight in blessing; may blessing be far from him!
18 He clothed himself with cursing as his coat;
may curses soak into his body like water,
like oil into his bones! 18 He wore cursing like his coat—let it enter his body like water

and go into his bones like oil.
19 Let it be like a robe he wraps around himself,
like a belt he always wears.”  (end of enemy’s speech)

20 Let this be the Lord’s payment to my accusers,
to those who speak evil against me.

21 But You, Yahweh my Lord,
deal kindly with me because of Your name;
deliver me because of the goodness of Your faithful love.
22 For I am afflicted and needy;
my heart is wounded within me.
23 I fade away like a lengthening shadow;
I am shaken off like a locust.
24 My knees are weak from fasting,
and my body is emaciated.[f]
25 I have become an object of ridicule to my accusers;[g]
when they see me, they shake their heads in scorn.

26 Help me, Lord my God;
save me according to Your faithful love
27 so they may know that this is Your hand
and that You, Lord, have done it.
28 THOUGH THEY CURSE, YOU BLESS.
When they rise up, they will be put to shame,
but Your servant will rejoice.
29 My accusers will be clothed with disgrace;
they will wear their shame like a cloak.
30 I will fervently thank the Lord with my mouth;
I will praise Him in the presence of many.
31 For He stands at the right hand of the needy
to save him from those who would condemn him.

When Christians attempt to act as God’s agents in holy war, they have confused  the American nation with a church. It is inconsistent with the new covenant law of Christ for citizens of the kingdom of heaven to kill for the sake of another kingdom. Those being killed might not even know they are being killed for “secular” (not “holy”) reasons.

We don’t drown you for your views on baptism but rather for your political sedition in sharing those views publicly and acting on them. The Magisterial Reformation praxis is not inherent in being Christian.

We don’t kill your for being Muslim. We kill you before you can kill us, because you would kill us simply because we are Christians. There is no other reason you could possibly have for killing us except that we are not Muslims.

Psalm 58:6 O God, break the teeth in their mouths;

tear out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord!
7 Let them vanish like water that runs away;
when he aims his arrows, let them be blunted.
8 Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime,
like the stillborn child who never sees the sun.
9 Sooner than your pots can feel the heat of thorns,
whether green or ablaze, may he sweep them away!
10 The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance;
he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked.
11 Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous;
surely there is a God who judges on earth.”

Are you being Arbitrary When You Say that God is Arbitrary?

August 26, 2012

Steve Chalke–“why did God command us to forgive without demanding
punishment, but then God Himself wouldn’t forgive but instead demands
punishment (even if it was from Himself) to Himself? ”

The argument seems to be that either Jesus is our example and thus not unique, either that, or that Jesus is unique and thus not our example. Either Jesus accepting the unjust punishment is our example, OR the punishment of Jesus was the last final unique punishment and there is no more example, in which case you can do what you want because His death is not an example but unique.

But of course there is one more reading, and that’s from Romans 12 (leave the vengeance to God, don’t do vengeance yourself) and Hebrews (the violent sacrifice of Jesus does work, but it’s the only one that ever worked or will work, so don’t do sacrifices yourself).

Charles Bradlaugh–“What did Jesus teach–unto him that shoots your
wife, let him shoot you also? Surely it would be better to teach that
‘the one who tempts God and courts oppression shares the crime’, and
if one person is shot to shoot that person who shot to prevent future
shooting.” This argument says “if Jesus was a pacifist for you, then you don’t need to be a pacifist yourself” and it’s not only atheists who use this argument but many Christians.

Romans 3:3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Let God be true though everyone were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” 5 But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) 6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world? 7 But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? 8 And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slander us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

I know some Calvinists (I was one of them) who think it is enough to say that God is sovereign. In this emphasis, sometimes they even project their own ego onto God, and sound like they think of themselves as sovereign also.

But the truth of the gospel is not only God’s sovereignty but also God’s righteousness. This means that the gospel is not only about the justification of the elect sinner but also about the justification of God.

I have no use for the “freewill theodicy”. But that does not mean that I am dismissive of efforts to justify God. To justify God does not of course mean that we make God just. Rather, it means that we declare that God is just.

When God justifies an elect sinner, it’s not only God’s sovereignty that declares the sinner just. God is justified in justifying the elect sinner because 1. Christ died because of the imputed guilt of that elect sinner and 2. God then righteously counted that elect sinner to legally share in that death. Because of these two facts of history, God is justified in justifying elect sinners.

But It certainly doesn’t look just. The elect sinners go free. Christ, who did not sin, died. Why doesn’t that just make things worse?

This is why we are tempted to say that the whole thing is only about God’s sovereignty and then tell people to shut their mouths and ask no questions.But the Bible itself does not take that attitude. The Bible tells us how God thinks. The Bible justifies God.

Romans 9 does not only ask: “who are you to talk back to God”. Romans 9 explains that it is inappropriate for that which is made to sit in negative judgment on the maker. That which is made is instead to make the positive judgment that God has the righteous right to harden as many as God hardens. Since God is our Creator, it’s not completely “arbitrary” for God to govern and judge us. It’s not the same as you being a parent and thinking that gives you the right to tell your (adult) children what to do.

Romans 6 deals with the objection that God justifying sinners will cause sinners to rationalize their sins, so that they not only say that their sins were predestined but also that they say that more sins result in more grace.

The Romans 6 answer is that grace is either grace or not. There is not more or less grace, but either grace or no grace. More sin does not get the elect more grace, because all those God justly justifies have all the grace any other elect person has. If you have grace, then you are justified from sin, and if you don’t have grace, you are a sinner “free from righteousness” (6:20).

While unbelievers trust in God to help them to sin less, those who have been delivered to the gospel know that there are only two kind of sinners, —guilty sinners and justified sinners .

The theodicy of Romans 3 announces that God is true even if every man is a liar. We justify God because God has revealed Himself. And God has revealed that God is more than sovereign. God’s words reveal God to be Righteous and Just. And God’s word is justified in history by what God did when Christ gave Himself up to death on the cross because of the imputed guilt of the elect.

We were wrong: God was right and God is still right. God prevails, but it is not only a matter of “might makes right” or “sovereignty always wins”. One. We have no right to make a negative judgment on God. Two, it is God who will be making a negative judgment on many sinners. Three. we are called to make a positive rational judgment about God’s justice.

But how do these three points connect and cohere?

What God pleases to do is right. And there is no better proof of that than the way God justifies elect sinners. The wisdom of the cross shows God’s righteousness. It is just for God to not only let elect sinners go free but also to give them faith and all the other blessings of salvation. The death of Jesus was not only “one more bad thing”. That death without resurrection might have been, but Christ’s death plus resurrection , despite the sins of those who killed Jesus, was to God a good thing which reconciles and makes things right.

Yes, it is grace to those sinners saved by it, but also it was just for God to do it, because of what Christ did in his obedience even unto death. As Isaiah 53 explains, the righteous servant will be satisfied. God will be just to Christ. And God is just to justify elect sinners for the sake of Christ.

Psalm 116:11—“I said in my alarm, ‘All mankind are liars’” Not only is God justified, but sinners are condemned. We see this in Romans 1:25 . All of us have been people who “exchange the truth for a lie”.

It is idolatry to only know a God who is sovereign. The true God is also righteous. It is rebellion against the Creator to deny that God is just. Psalm 51:4-6—“Against you have I sinned and done what is evil, so that you are justified in your words and blameless in your judgment..Behold you delight in truth…” Two things go together: God tells the truth, we are false.

The gospel is good news for the elect, but not without also being first bad news. You can call it “law before gospel” if you wish. But part and parcel of justifying God (and trusting God’s true gospel) is taking sides with God against our-selves. We can’t both be right. God is right, and we are wrong. If God is right, then we are wrong.

If we ever get to thinking that God is only being sovereign but not being fair to us, then we show not only that we are wrong but also that God has not yet called us by the gospel to the truth. We should not only confess that God is going to get God’s way, that God is going to win. We need to learn to confess that the way God acts and judges is just. We make a positive judgment about God. That is a result, and not a condition of God having justified us.

To reject the righteousness of God (His attribute, not only Christ’s saving work and gift) is to reject the true God. Romans 3:3 tells us that God’s faithfulness proves that God is the true God. Isaiah 42:3—“He will faithfully bring forth justice.” Isaiah 45:19—“I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness. I did not say to the seed of Jacob, seek me in vain. I the Lord speak the truth. I declare what is right”.

Getting in a dispute with the true God shows not only that we are foolish to fight with the Almighty. Getting in a debate with God shows just how arbitrary we ourselves are! The irony every time is that our lies, rationalizations, self-deceptions only result in the truth of God being more declared. And then, when we try to say, “well at least our falsehoods are making God look more faithful”, we are brought face to face with the fact of Romans 3:5—God is the righteous judge of us. God is not only “the boss of us”, because God is judging us and will judge us.

God takes sides with Himself. God takes sides against sinners. God is not neutral arbitrator. God is one of the parties in God’s lawsuit against sinners. The God we have offended by being sinners (exchanging truth for idolatry) is the God who will judge all sinners.

If you Remember that Somebody Has Something Against You, Then You are not the Forgiver

May 12, 2011

Matthew 5:23–“If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go First be reconciled to your brother.”

Some liberals have a difficult time reading this command correctly, They cannot think of themselves as needing any forgiveness, so they “interpret it” as saying “go to the person who has hurt you and make peace. (Michael Hardin, The Jesus Driven Life, p96)

We are not the ones who reconcile ourselves to God (by not being like Calvinists or other Christians we know). God is the one who reconciles. God is the subject of Reconciliation, But this does not mean that we need to become Socinians who deny that God is also the object of His own Reconciliation.

Romans 5:17 speaks of “receiving the reconciliation”. Why do we “receive the reconciliation”? Why not just say, we were reconciled? In other words, why not just get changed, so we are not at enmity? Why do we receive something?

If there is never legal enmity in God, then there is no wrath, and if not, there is no propitiation, and no need for it. But the problem is not only in our own hearts, at the altar. God has a problem with us, and only God can solve that problem.

Romans 5:17 does not mean overcoming your enmity in order to overcome your enmity! It means to passively receive by imputation what Christ did.

Matthew 5:24 (sermon on the mount) commands “leave your gift there before the altar and first be reconciled to your brother.” So, even though sinners are the objects of reconciliation, though sinners receive it, this reconciliation is not only the overcoming of the hostility of the elect, but what God has done in Christ to overcome God’s own judicial hostility to elect sinners.

John Murray: “In the Scripture the actual terms used with reference to the reconciliation wrought by Christ are to the effect that we are reconciled to God (Rom. 5:10) and that God reconciles us to Himself (II Cor. 5:18, 19; Eph. 2:16; Col. 1:2-22). Never is it expressly stated that God is reconciled to us.

It has often been stated, therefore, that the cross of Christ, insofar as it contemplated reconciliation, did not terminate upon God to the removal of His alienation from us but simply and solely upon us to the removal of our alienation from Him. In other words, it is not that which God has against us that is dealt with in the reconciliation but only our enmity against Him. It is strange that this contention should be so persistent, that scholars should be content with what is, to say the least, so superficial an interpretation of the usage of Scripture in reference to the term in question.

It is not to be denied that the reconciliation is concerned with our enmity against God. Reconciliation, like all the other categories deals with sin and the liability proceeding from it. And sin is enmity against God. But, when the teaching of Scripture is properly analyzed, it will be seen that reconciliation involves much more than that which might appear at first sight to be the case.

When in Matthew 5:24 we read, “Be reconciled to thy brother,” we have an example of the use of the word “reconcile” that should caution us against a common inference. In this instance the person bringing his gift to the altar is reminded that his brother has something against him. It is this grievance on the part of the other that is the reason for interrupting his act of worship. It is the grievance of the other that the worshiper must take into account, and it is the removal of that grievance, of that alienation that the reconciliation which he is required to effect contemplates.

He is to do all that is necessary to remove the alienation of the other. It is plain, therefore, that what the reconciliation must effect is the change of (forensic, judicial) declaration on the part of the other, namely, the person called the brother. Thus we are pointed in a very different direction from that which we might have expected from the mere formula “be reconciled.”

And although it is the “against” of the brother that is in view as requiring a change, the exhortation is in terms of “be reconciled to thy brother” and not at all “Let thy brother be reconciled to thee.” By this analysis it can easily be seen that the formula “reconciled to God” can well mean that what the reconciliation has in view is God’s alienation from us and the removal of that alienation. Matthew 5:23, 24 shows how indefensible is an interpretation that rests its case upon what, at best, is mere appearance.

Infant Baptism Will Save the World?

February 7, 2011

Stanley Hauerwas, A Better Hope, p43–“Gerald Schlabach sent me criticisms of my work that another Mennonite had posted on an e-mail forum. The critic argued that my work is far too Catholic and thus incompatible with an Anabaptist perspective: ‘Hauerwas has a Constantinian fear of Christian liberty. He wants the clergy to tell us the story and the church to have the sanctions to enforce it.’ In his response Schlabach agreed that this is an accurate (although insufficiently nuanced) summary of my views but defended the position nevertheless. ”

Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom , Peter Leithart, IVP, 2010

Leithart is a high church theonomist. He teaches at Doug Wilson’s little school in Idaho. Like others in the anti-federal “federal vision”, he teaches justification by works, with a particular emphasis on “sacrament”. His book is endorsed by Anglicans who teach justification by works: Stanley Hauerwas, John Milbank, and NT Wright.

Leithart believes that infant baptism will save the world. Constantly caricaturing one side against the other, he calls John Yoder an “anti-realist”, then puts the Niebuhrs on the other end, and then sits himself in the middle. “In the end it all comes down to infant baptism.” P341.

When we ask how Constantine and infant baptism will save the world, Leithart asks us to stop being so impatient. Baptism has happened, and it will change the world, because justification by works has worked and will work.

Make no mistake: Leithart is still a theonomist, and the ritualism of James Jordan has not changed his dogmatic agenda that “the Old Testament is normative for politics”. (p131). When somebody like James Carroll (Constantine’s Sword) complains about the anti-semitism of Augustine, Leithart is quick to defend the good old days of the middle ages. The Jews were merely not allowed to proselytize, and besides, he is pro-Jewish because he thinks the OT is normative for politics. And he’s against all kinds of sectarian proselytizing, except of course his own proselytizing for one universal church.

Leithart very much opposes the “John Locke” Protestantism in which separatists (isolationists) “hold opinions that divide them from the general public”. We are reminded that theonomy is not about a combination of church and state but about having one church (with bishops) which can stand up to the state. He quotes Rushdoony (p181) about Trinitarians resisting imperialism. If you won’t support killing heretics, then you are left with “invisible churches”.

Of course we could ask all kinds of questions here, like which kind of visibility? Which church? Which bishops? Whose ordination? But Leithart cautions us to be patient about all such details. All we need to know for now is that infants are being baptized in the name of Trinitarianism. It’s happening, no matter what kind of “nominalist” objections and theories are being suggested. And Leithart himself is still ordained by the PCA, and if the PCA were to become a sect and disqualify him, then he would simply move on to the one church which remains the one church.

If you won’t defend Augustine for killing Donatists who “re-baptise”, then you simply show that you are a baptist at heart. True Anglicans still know that it’s a sin not to have your infants baptized by the one church. We cannot say that Constantine had no mission, because his mission was the empire, and in order to become a citizen in that empire, you also needed to be baptized (and have your infants done, along with your wife and slaves) and if you object to that, you show yourself to be modernist plain and simple.

Indeed, argues Leithart, Constantine really subverted the empire (you see) because he used his great power in the empire to change the empire! How could he have ended the gladiatorial shows, if he had retreated from cultural engagement like the quietists and separatists? If you can vote, you must, and if you can kill for a more civilized culture, then the killing itself becomes civilization!

If Joseph and Daniel can dream for the emperors, doesn’t it stand to reason that you also must become emperor if you can kill enough people to do so? And shame on Constantine for refusing to wear the purple when he thought he was near death, as if being emperor and being Christian were in competition. There is a bad justification by works, like when you do stuff not commanded, or stop doing stuff not forbidden, like stop killing, but then there is a good justification by works, when you can baptize the nations in the name of the Trinity.

Leithart knows that anti-Constantinianism is a cover for liberalism, or even worse, for pacifism. And so he argues simply, for those of us who are too dumb to get it. Augustine was a Christian. Augustine was not a pacifist. Therefore Christians do not need to be pacifists. Christians need only to reject “their wars” (that of the Marxists or the Anabaptist sectarians). But when Constantine becomes a Christian, then his wars become Christian wars, and thus our wars.

Leithart explains to us that John Yoder was effected by his social location: writing in Europe against the state churches of Europe, Yoder could not see that this kind of sectarian nation-building is not the same thing as the medieval achievement of cultural unity. In other words, with Milbank and Hauerwas, Leithart is accusing the ecclesiology of Yoder of still being “modernist”. Even if we can’t be quite Roman Catholic yet, we must all agree now that justification by faith is mere Gnosticism and that justification is by obedience to God’s law, and for that we need both character and community.

And of course Constantine’s history Is somewhat messy (especially his family life) but the alternative is the impatience of perfectionism. Leithart appeals to all us who grew up in dispensationalism and now see ourselves as superior to all that. Surely, “church history is not an empty parenthesis.” (p325) We need to work with that which has come about with the passing of time, and if we resist the gradualism of the Magisterial Reformers, we will end up with no church at all, and no conservative culture!

In order to “de-sacrifice the empire” and thus eliminate the confusion of patriotism and religion, we need to do two things, according to Leithart. First, we need to sacrifice (kill) the enemies of Rome. Second, we need to move the patriotic rituals out of the realm of the empire and move them into the church (which will support the empire). And one great immediate effect of this is that blood sacrifice is ended in the Jewish temple in Ad 70. Sure, in theory, the blood in the temple never worked, certainly not after Christ died, but if you want to see the real coming of the Christ, see it there in the Roman invasion of Jerusalem in Ad 70. (No wonder the theonomists and the preterists like NT Wright’s “end of exile” theology so much!)

If you are patient enough, you can make a nation Christian in the same way that you make an infant a Christian. You baptize it. And the great commission is for you who baptize, which is to say, first you say to a nation that it is Christian, and then you can talk to it like you do to Christians. But if you do not agree that the Romanists and the Americans are all already Christians, already baptized, then what can you say to them about what they should do?

You may think that my sarcasm has simply got the best of me, and that there’s no way that Leithart can be saying any of the things I think he is saying. To that, I say: read him for yourself. If you don’t have time to read the other theonomists (Rushdoony, Doug Wilson, James Jordan, Greg Bahnsen, Andrew Sandlin) or the preterists ( American Vision, Gentry), begin with Leithart’s earlier book: Against Christianity.

I quote from Leithart’s page 333: “The Creator made man to participate in and prosecute His wars.” Of course he is not only describing what God has predestined; his concern is ethics. Mine two. No triangulation needed here. Either he is right or we pacifists are right. According to him, Adam’s problem was that he was a pacifist in regard to Satan. If Leithart is right, as we get to newer covenants (or, “newer administrations of the one covenant”, as the ideology likes to say it), then the newer the covenant, the more responsibility all of us have to kill for the sake of the covenant.

And thus Leithart contextualizes Jesus, so that His dying at the cross rather than killing, is particular, specific, and unique, and not an example for anybody. I remember the old days when theonomists mocked Ron Sider for his leading questions: is God a Marxist? Ron never said he was, but he kinda implied it. And so today, the theonomists ask the leading questions: is turning the other cheek a rebuke of self defense or the defense of others?

How could we possibly think that what Jesus said in the Sermon was for all Christians in all places and for all times? We know that church history is not an empty parenthesis, and we know that Augustine was a Christian, and thus we know that Augustine’s version of Just war (not like that of Bush and Rumsfield) was also the politics of Jesus.

It’s sad that IVP published the book. What’s next for IVP? Will one day they even publish a book defining Calvinism in way that you don’t have to believe the doctrines of “tulip” to be a Calvinist?