182 Comments
  1. Adam,

    Group 1 and Group 2 were totally generic in my post, but somehow you read it as if I was putting you in one of the groups. I was not putting you, or Dr. White, or Tony Byrne in any particular camp as much as making a generic statement.

    What do you don’t know about is the private emails I receive from folks branding Dr. White: 1) a top Calvinist theologian; 2) a hyper-Calvinist; 3) an inconsistent Calvinist; 4) a hell-bound, not real Calvininst (because he recognizes my salvation!) — and then the emails from others within other Calvinist groups, each branding the others position not true to historic Calvinism.

    So, it is FAR bigger than SBC issues or a John 3:16 conference, although you seem to be (erroneously) interpreting my comments in those contexts.

    This has nothing to do with political games for me and the many people emailing me!

    So, I’m neither defending nor criticizing Tony Byrne here as much as asking him to articulate his views, and I personally will not post anything which could be perceived as a personal attack on Dr. White.

    That being said, perhaps you should go back to my statements and re-digest them. The issue is actually deeper and more widespread than you might realize.

  2. “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil which He said He would do unto them; and He did it not.” Jonah 3:10

    “At this some of the Torah-teachers said, “Rabbi, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.” He replied, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign? No! None will be given to it but the sign of the prophet Yonah (Jonah). For just as Yonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea-monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the depths of the earth. The people of Nineveh will stand up at the Judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they turned from their sins to God when Yonah preached, but what is here now is greater than Yonah. The Queen of the South will stand up at the Judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Schlomo (Solomon), but what is here now is greater than Schlomo.” Mattityahu (Matthew) 12:38-42

    The message is clear, going out to all generations: Repent, repent, turn from your sins to God and He will have mercy and abundantly pardon. There is nothing “fatalistic” about this — you may choose death or you may choose life. Choose Life! Amen

  3. Hello Dr Brown

    Sorry about repeating the long post — I cut and pasted without thinking. My question is: In your experience do Calvinists end up dealing with life’s challenges in a way that does not actually match the Calvinist system? Or can they really live as if the world is neatly divided into the elect and the damned?

    Thank you for your attention. I was tardy in responding since 2pm where you are is 7pm here — dinner and bedtime story time!

  4. I haven’t read all the posts; honestly, the black and white hurts my eyes if I look at it too long. Anyways, I have a comment to make to you, Dr. Brown.

    You asked Dr. White if he could name one single verse that says (or at least implies I would assume) that God elects individuals. I believe that is the question you asked. Dr. White mentioned 2 Thess. 2:13-14. This is God’s election of those in that city who had embraced the gospel in repentance and saving faith. I think that passage does lend itself to God’s electing individuals, but I think there is an even clearer one.

    Romans 16:13: “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well.”

    This text says at least two things: (1) An individual person, Rufus, was chosen or elect, and (2) this individual was chosen “in the Lord.”

    Now, it is my understanding that the corporate view of election is that God chooses the group of believers, and that individuals merely participate in that choice of the group. But if that is the case, could you ever really say an individual is chosen or elect? I suppose you could say it in a derivative sense, but not in a personal sense.

    The corporate view doesn’t communicate to someone that he himself is personally and individually chosen; rather, the group is chosen and he happens to be among the chosen group.

    So I think this text at the very least strongly implies that God elected an individual person named Rufus, and indicated it was an election unto salvation by saying he was chosen in the Lord. Your thoughts?

    Wesley

  5. Wesley,

    I just finished writing a book refuting TULIP theology in which I deal with the supposed Scriptural strongholds of Calvinistic philosphy. One of those is Election. Without trying to reproduce the entire chapter here in this post, let me give you the condensed version.

    As I present in my book, there are two types of election. First is national (or corporate) election which refers to the nation of Israel as seen throughout the Old Testament and also, as Dr. Brown correctly pointed out in the debate with Dr. White, in Romans 9-11. Even though Israel was elect, or chosen by God, it would appear that the majority were not saved.

    The other type of election, as seen in much of the New Testament, is individual election. Here comes the real kicker. Individuals are not elected to be saved, but rather individuals become elect, or chosen, when they are saved.

    The case is easily proven, as I have done in my book, by looking at many New Testament passages. I will not go into all of the Scripture as presented in the book but will look at the text you give Dr. Brown, Romans 16:13.

    You mention that you believe Rufus was chosen unto salvation. First, I would ask, does the verse say he was chosen unto salvation? Second, does the verse say that Rufus was “chosen in the Lord”? Or does the verse say Rufus was “chosen to be in the Lord”?

    If the verse stated that Rufus was chosen to be in the Lord, then you would be correct and election would be unto salvation. However, because the verse says that Rufus was “chosen in the Lord” then Rufus was chosen when he was put into the body of Christ, “in the Lord” and not before.

    Again I state, no one is chosen, or elect, to be saved but become the chosen, or elect when they become saved. Rufus is one such example.

    Thanks

  6. Wes,

    Neither of those texts imply individualistic election. In the first, corporate langauge is used in Greek, speaking to the church as a group of their election.

    As for Rom 16:13, this is unlikely to refer to Rufus’ election to salvation. A great many scholars have taken this as the NASB takes it, in the sense of “choice”, “distinguished” , “eminent” (a possible meaning of the adjective), identifying Rufus as a distinguished Christian, since all Christians are elect in a saving way and there would be no point to single Rufus out with this designation. Some think it refers to his election to a service not mentioned in the text but that would have been well known to the readers. But even if one were to take it in the sense of saving election, it still fits in with the corporate view since his election is qualified as being “in the Lord”, which would then hinge Rufus’ election on being in Christ, and the corporate election view holds that individuals are chosen because they are in Christ, thereby sharing in his election.

    You seem to misunderstand the corporate view, which actually does hold that idividuals are personally elect, but only as members of the elect people. But that does not make their election or salvation impersonal. They experience election and salvation personally because they are in Christ and part of his people. You should read this article that Dr. Brown recommended earlier in this discussion: Brian Abasciano, “Clearing Up Misconceptions about Corporate Election”, which you can find here: http://evangelicalarminians.org/Abasciano-Clearing-Up-Misconceptions-about-Corporate-Election .

  7. As to the issue raised by Dr. Brown of calvinists having confessions, etc.,

    I have spent most of my life in a church without a confession and without any Calvinist tendency whatsoever, so I know that sort of environment very well.

    My take on the issue is that there can be up sides and down sides to having or not having a confession and/or knowing a little church history.

    It can be very helpful to have a confession of accepted by the church because it can help to be explicit about what we mean by the words of Scripture. Thus it encourages the persuit of a right understanding of the Scriptures to be has so that one may rightly and distinctly say with clarity what the Bible says. This can help to keep unclarity about what the church believes to come about. It also can help unity. Last, I think it is especially good for Christians to know that the church didn’t start just a few hundred years ago, as some Christians seem to have the impression. So it causes the Christian to have an awareness of God’s faithfulness to the Church down throughout the centuries. (I have personally apreciated this.)

    It also can be a bad thing if the church begins looking to these documents as the source its self for doctrine and practice, rather than looking at the scriptures whence their only authority is derived.

    Not having a confession can also be a good thing if it encourages a deep study of the word. It removes all tendency to look to authority outside of the Bible. So it can be helpful to have only the word preached as a statement of the truth of the word.

    So also there is a definite downside to not having a historical and confessional rooting of a church. The downside is that there may tend to be a more fuzzy understanding of the word because there is no outer encourgement to cause people to check to see if their doctrine is from the word very carefully.

    So there are up and down sides to having confessions and references to Christians of centuries gone by. I apreciate its benifits in the american, no-roots culture that is broad.

    Thanks to anyone who has any thoughts on that.

  8. Harold,

    Yes, there are ups and downs re: confessions of faith. For me, whatever gets us more in love with Jesus, more devoted to God’s Word, more committed to holy living, more intimate with God, and more active in touching this lost and dying world is what I advocate!

    Each one will have to work that out in their own lives in terms of confessions or lack thereof.

    To be sure, there are confessions of faith in the NT itself (not to mention the OT), and those are foundational for us as believers. It’s the overdefining of things to me that becomes a distraction.

  9. Wesley,

    I believe Don and Arminian have adequately addressed your question, which I appreciate. Again, Arminian and I recommend reading the paper that we both linked.

    I would also emphasize the absurdity of listing a number of believers in Romans 16 and identifying just one of them as elect! Obviously, the sense of the verse must be different than that.

    This, however, should point out to you what I stated in the debate: Nowhere does the Bible speak of a specific individual being elect to salvation.

  10. Anthy,

    I have seen Calvinists sustained through difficult times because of their beliefs in the sovereignty of God, and I have seen Calvinists ask like non-Calvinists at certain times. But the same could probably be said of believers in different camps: Sometimes they are consistent and sometimes they are not.

    That being said, there was much in your post that I agreed with and found to be insightful, even if you don’t Greek. 🙂

  11. I just spotted a discussion of my debate with Dr. White on a heavily Reformed website, featuring some classic comments which illustrate the extreme positions that so grieve me (and which I do NOT attribute in any way to Dr. White).

    How about this one? “In the end, I’m sad to say that Michael Brown’s conception of the Gospel is really no Gospel at all in my estimation.” No Gospel at all? This almost sounds like our divisive, hyper-exclusivistic friends who recently explained to me that I, along with C. S. Lewis, Billy Graham, and John Wesley are all hell-bound (since we’re not Calvinists) and that Dr. White is hell-bound too for recognizing me as a brother. May the Lord help these poor, deluded souls.

    And then this, “He [meaning me] also made statements repeatedly to the effect that God is a victim to evil just as much as we are except that He’s better at making lemonade from lemons than we are.” Really? What do you say to folks like this?

    And then there was this oft-cited quote from Arthur Pink: “A ‘god’ whose will is resisted, whose designs are frustrated, whose purpose is checkmated, possesses no title to Deity, and so far from being a fit object of worship, merits nought but contempt.”

    Is this not a complete caricature of what non-Calvinists believe?

    Anyway, this is a reminder to all sides of the debate: Let’s do our best not to caricature one another and, in the midst of our differences, let’s do our best to understand one’s another’s positions with as much as charity as possible.

  12. Mike Brown said:
    “It appears to me that Arminians think much more in terms of sola Scriptura than do Calvinists, since we’re not quoting Confessions or theological terms (for the most part),”

    Me now:
    It should be noted that when Calvinists quote confessions or refer to certain theological terms, it’s not because these things are more important than the authority of scripture, or even coequal norms. Granted, there are some Calvinists who seem to function that way, as if the Westminster Confession, for instance, is virtually inerrant, needing no updates or corrections. That is always a danger. But, when Calvinists quote Confessions or historic/theological terms, it is because they 1) view Christian history as playing an important secondary role in doctrinal statement; and 2) they frequently want to clarify for “non-Calvinists” what their secondary authorities teach as they came together to form doctrinal consensus. Since Calvinism is frequently caricatured, this becomes particularly important, so that others can see what well-trained and gifted teachers have taught, instead of paying attention to the young, anonymous Internet buffoons who are very immature, condescending and uncareful in speech. Richard Muller, who is an example of a top-notch Reformed historian, clarifies the traditional understanding of Sola Scriptura:

    “Finally, it ought to be noted that sola Scriptura was never meant as a denial of the usefulness of the Christian tradition as a subordinate norm in theology. The views of the Reformers developed out of a debate in the late medieval theology over the relation of Scripture and tradition, one party viewing the two as coequal norms, the other party viewing Scripture as the absolute and therefore prior norm, but allowing tradition a derivative but important secondary role in doctrinal statement. The Reformers and the Protestant orthodox held the latter view, on the assumption that tradition was a useful guide, that the trinitarian and christological statements of Nicaea, Constantinople, and Chalcedon were expressions of biblical truth, and that the great teachers of the church provided valuable instruction in theology that always needed to be evaluated in the light of Scripture. We encounter, particularly in the scholastic era of Protestantism, a profound interest in the patristic period and a critical, but often substantive, use of ideas and patterns enunciated by the medieval doctors.” Richard Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology (Baker, 1985), 284.

    I might also add that you’re using a traditional Latin theological term [Sola Scriptura] in your words above. So, if Calvinists use that theological term and others as well, why should they be faulted? Moreover, in appealing to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, you’re appealing to a certain Reformational understanding of those terms, which illustrates our perspective of the importance of Christian history.

    Mike Brown said:
    “neither are we beholden to certain theological giants of the past (for better or worse; e.g., we’re not prone to quote Arminius or Wesley),”

    Me now:
    We don’t think we are “beholden” to these giants of the past either, if by “beholden” you mean subject to them as binding authorities. But, if by “beholden” you mean “indebted to, as from gratitute” then we’re all “beholden” to gifted Christian teachers of the past. If we’re not paying attention to these men whom the Holy Spirit gifted to teach, then I think we’re guilty of pride. Shouldn’t we pay attention to what the so called “church fathers” delivered to us in terms of correct biblical Trinitarianism and Christology? I think we should, even as we “test all things and hold fast that which is good,” as the scriptures command. Calvinists do this with the Reformers and Puritans as well, particularly since we frequently need to show what mainstream Calvinism teaches, as over against the fringe kooks. Since Arminianism, whether Wesleyian or otherwise, is also subject to historical and theological misunderstanding, Roger Olson and others see the need to cite Arminius and Wesley at times, so that tradition is not caricatured.

    To be continued…

  13. Mike Brown said:
    “and we tend not to *glory* in doctrine or boast of a *system*.”

    Me now:
    I think I know what you mean here, but, as James White reminded you in some of your initial two-day interaction, pride exists on all sides. I don’t think we should digress in to a discuss as to which party has the greater amount of prideful people. Nevertheless, Dr. Brown, I do not want to downplay what you are saying either. Oftentimes, Calvinists seem to behave like Peter did after the Lord gave him insight about his identity. Even though Jesus reminded Peter that flesh and blood did not reveal to him that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” Peter quickly moved in to a prideful state of mind, even rebuking Jesus about going to Jerusalem to suffer. Peter’s behaviour at that point, though he was a Christian, was devilish. I want to let you know that I see it in plenty of Calvinists as well, and they seem to be puffed up by their newly found soteriological insights, which may just be sophistry. On the other hand, I have had friends who were abused and slandered by very hostile “non-Calvinists” in local churches, as these “non-Calvinsits” boastfully claimed to understand Calvinism. One particular friend of mine who experienced this is just as moderate in their Calvinism as I am.

    I think Spurgeon summed up what you may perceive in some Calvinistic Christians. He said:

    “What is doctrine after all but the throne whereon Christ sitteth, and when the throne is vacant what is the throne to us? Doctrines are the shovel and tongs of the altar, while Christ is the sacrifice smoking thereon. Doctrines are Christ’s garments; verily they smell of myrrh, and cassia, and aloes out of the ivory palaces, whereby they make us glad, but it is not the garments we care for as much as the person, the very person of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Charles Spurgeon, MTP, vol. 8, p. 339.

    We acknowledge that the doctrinal garments smell of myrrh and cassia and aloes out of ivory palaces, whereby they make us glad, but only in so far as they point to the person we love, i.e. Christ, who is precious to us.

    Since we know that truth coheres and is ultimately grounded in the one who is the key to all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, we are glad to form a “system.” I don’t think there is anything wrong with seeking to systematically understand God’s revelation, as we arrange topics in logical fashion. As you know, God wants us to think logically, which necessarily involves thinking systematically. However, I know that you also have in mind the danger of being system-driven in our interpretations of God’s word. Rationalism and reasoning top down from a system [what some call “deductive”] is always a danger, but that can happen on both sides of the soteriological aisle. Still, we must think systematically, especially as we seek to compare Christianity *as a whole system* with alternative ungodly conceptual systems in our highly syncretistic culture, in order to demonstrate the superiority of Christ in all things. Since you’re even more active in this than I am, I trust you agree 🙂

  14. Dr. Brown,

    I see that one of those quotes is from Rich, on the “Puritan Board.” That place is anything but a “Puritan” board. There is hardly anyone left there who even believes in a well-meant gospel offer in the Murrayite tradition. They’ve been taken over by Hoeksemians, Clarkians and a few Gillites. People with my moderate Calvinist views are not even allowed on that board. When the moderates are discovered, they are eventually banned. So, if those kinds of people think my theology “reeks,” don’t be surprised when the same kooks say that you have no gospel at all. Incidentally, I believe that same Rich as called in to the Dividing Line in the past and said similar things about other evangelical non-Calvinists, without any rebuke.

    The Puritan Board is hardly the place to go to understand Puritanism or mainstream Reformed orthodoxy. I could produce hundreds of quotes from the Puritans to sustain this claim, but then I would be charged with being “beholden” to these men 😉

  15. Mike said:
    “This is not to say that Calvinists don’t love the Word, but they seem to be much more into their theological terms and names and distinctions than Arminians.”

    Me now:
    This may be true, I don’t know. I am in the broad house of Calvinism and it does seem like that at times, but I have never been an Arminian. Soon after my conversion [in 1990] I was exposed to quotes from Matthew Henry in a study bible [The People’s Study Bible, ed. Harold Lindsell]. This, in combination with radio preachers like John MacArthur persuaded me of the moral inability of the natural man, unconditional election, etc. It is true that Calvinists delight in indepth mental activity and Christian history. I think that is part of the reason for all the obscure terms, names and distinctions. Part of it may also be pride, since many desperately want to be considered intellectuals. This makes them all too eager to use fancy terms like “eschatology,” “supralapsarianism,” “traducianism,” etc.
    However, look at some of the most well-known Christian thinkers of the past who reshaped the world. They were well aware of sophisticated terms/distinctions and with the teachings of previous men. I think it is good to try to emulate their example, so long as we don’t indulge in the life of the mind to the neglect of other biblical duties. The last thing our culture needs is anti-intellectual simpletons or Christians with a very sophisticated but dead orthodoxy. I think most Calvinists want to pursue the contemplative life, but often err in the direction of inactivity, condescending pride and doctrinal sectarianism. I would say that Christians need to exercise their minds to their maximum capacity with the motive of pleasing God and bearing fruit, while always being cautious of the aforementioned dangers.

    Mike said:
    “Does this seem to be a fair observation to you, or do you feel that it is a gross caricature?

    Me now:
    I think there is some truth in your observations, but I hope I have clarified other matters that may have been biased. May the Lord grant us all the virtual of impartiality, mutual understanding and sound judgment.

    Grace to you,
    Tony

  16. Hello all

    Thanks Dr Brown, for your comments on the topic I raised. This was not a “debating society” issue for me; a couple of years ago the Lord began tugging at my heart regarding the falling away of our young people — not for personal reasons, as my own children were at that time too young to dress themselves, let alone be apostate!

    I also want to thank the person who replied to me earlier — I think it was Harold. With the time differences and my husband having his turn on the computer, I did not spot his comment at first.

  17. Doctrines of the goodness of God

    In the event that any C charges Dr. Brown with Universalism, let it be clear that both A’s and C’s reject Universalism, with both sides fully agreeing that God is *too good not to punish wickedness*. As Dr. Brown emphasizes, C theology degrades the goodness of God, rather than overthrowing it altogether. (A select group of hyper-sensitive C’s will overlook this point, no matter how strenuously Dr. Brown emphasizes it.) I would imagine that any fair-minded C would have to concede that the doctrine of Preterition does weigh, to whatever degree, weigh on the goodness of God, even so much so, that Dr. White himself, has conceded that God does not have a universal saving will, to which Tony Byrne rightly pointed out, on the basis of John 5:34/40, is flatly contradicted by Scripture.

  18. Regarding Christophe’s comment: “I found it very troublesome when in attempt to exegete an assigned and agreed upon portion of the text from John chapter six you have proceeded to mention approximately thirty different texts from all over the bible in no less than eight minutes of time… I really do not know what was your purpose in doing that. This could not possibly be of any value if seriously attempting to exegete the text at hand from John 6 nor could possibly be of value in understanding any of those texts mentioned by you and their correlation as perceived by you. Certainly not in the amount of eight minutes… This can only create a volume of information but does it really help in proper analysis of mentioned texts and their content? I do not think so and from what I heard from different folks (not reformed) from UK to New Zealand it was not helpful for them either and in fact they perceived it rather as a tactic and not at depth attempt to exegete text from John 6.”

    …..so was it helpful for Dr. Brown to cite the surrounding Johannine context for verse 6:44, to those who would otherwise engage in simple proof-texting? I think so, and we find support from none other than Dr. White himself!

    Calvinist, James White, writes: “If the overall discourse is ignored, an improper interpretation of individual texts can be offered. This is one of the most oft-missed elements of correct exegesis, normally due to the presence of traditions in the reader’s thinking.” (Scripture Alone, p.87)

    Of course, Dr. White had John 3:16 in mind, but why wouldn’t the same point apply, whether we’re talking about John 3:16 or John 6:44?

  19. Dr. Brown asks: Is their prior biblical precedent in the Scriptures (before John 6) that speaks of a predestined group, based on no decision or response in themselves, being “given” to the Messiah?

    In the debate, White hinted at Romans 11:2-5. In other words, even if John 6 speaks of a faithful remnant being given by the Father to His Son, in which Israel, as per Isaiah 6:9-10, is permitted by God to come to His only on His terms, which I believe is absolutely correct, Dr. White seems to respond that such a remnant would be a remnant “by grace,” which to Dr. White, would mean grace without human choice. It appears that to C’s like Dr. White, faith is a work that is opposed to grace. Yet, nowhere in Romans does the apostle Paul pit grace against faith. Rather, the apostle Paul sets grace/faith against works.

  20. The contrast of A vs. C at John 6, appears to be a drawing of believers (that being the OT faithful like Simeon, Anna, Nathaniel, ect.) vs. C which teaches that it is a drawing of un-believers, who through said drawing, *become* believers. I do not believe that there is any meaningful exegesis of the context which would support the latter C view. I’m astonished that Dr. White would suggest that there is no meaningful, contextual exegesis by A’s of John 6, when Dr. White asked the questions and Dr. Brown clearly laid it out. See for yourself:

    Dr. Brown explains: “I see it as the fulfillment of the promise. In other words, up until now, the distinction was that there were people that were right with the God of Israel, and those who were not, and now Jesus becomes the full reflection of the God of Israel among the people, so those who were truly His, will be identified as the ones that will follow Jesus. It’s not that He now creates a whole new people, because there were those longing for His coming, like Simeon and Anna that were ready to receive Him when He came.” (James White vs. Michael Brown)

    In terms of the unbelieving, Dr. Brown explains: “They looked to be just like everybody else, ‘We’re devoted followers of God.’ ‘No,’ He says, ‘You’re really not, because if you believe Moses, you’d believe Me. If you were listening to the Father, then by all means you would come to Me. The proof that you’re not listening to the Father is that you won’t come to Me.’ He is now…the diving line.” (James White vs. Michael Brown)

    In support, notice what C John Piper stated about the context of John, relative to the drawing:

    “I’m leaving you. You have resisted Me; I’m backing away from you; I’m not going to draw most of you.” (Skeptical Grumbling and Sovereign Grace, 11/29/2009)

    In other words, God is not drawing unbelievers, but believers. Controversy resolved.

    Dr. White asks: “Why must the Father draw men to Christ if they are able in and of themselves to come to Christ?” (Debating Calvinism, p.296, emphasis mine)

    Answer: Remember Isaiah 6:10: “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.” God is indignant with the unrepentant state of Israel and will have her come to His Son only on *His terms.* Moreover, it should also be pointed out that there are those whom the Father did not give and draw to the Son, and who had not come to believe in the Son, but whom Jesus told, in spite of this, to consider the sign of the miracles anyway: “Though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” (John 10:38)

  21. Richard,

    Thanks for all your posts and for transcribing parts of the debate. As for the drawing in John 6, I’m perfectly happy to say that unbelievers are drawn but that those who respond to the drawing, the remnant of which I spoke, are “given” to the Son. Your observations, however, are also worth considering.

    As for your response to our friend Christophe, I find it utterly fascinating that he finds fault with the exegetical method that: 1) exegetes John 6 by first reading John 1-5; 2) looks for related truths expressed elsewhere in the Bible, especially before John’s Gospel; and 3) carefully analyzes the use of key, uncommon terms to see how they are used elsewhere in Scripture.

    So, I guess I used too much of the Word in interpreting the Word. 🙂

  22. Tony Byrne,

    Thanks for all the posts and comments. A few brief replies:

    1) Yes, there is certainly pride in all parts of the Body and on all sides of doctrinal disputes. My point remains, however, that there seems to be more *doctrinal* pride among Calvinists than Arminians. Now, if you said in response that there is often more doctrinal sloppiness (not necessarily error, but sloppiness) among Arminians, I would agree.

    2) By being “beholden” to giants of the past, I meant the tendency, related to my first point, to glory in either the fact that so and so believed such and such (whereas, for Arminians, we’ll put to a Wesley or C. S. Lewis more by way of defense) or to glory in their greatness and/or learning. I just don’t find that problem among Arminians in the same way (but, I’ll be quick to add, I’ve written far more criticizing weaknesses in the Arminian-Charismatic camp — FAR MORE — than I’ve ever written or spoken about weaknesses among Calvinists.)

    3) Thanks for your caveat about the “Puritan” board. I’m actually a love of the Puritans and quote them all the time. I own the works of John Bunyan (as well as Edwards, for that matter); Thomas Watson is one of my favorites. Gurnall’s Christian in Complete Armor remains classic, and my saintly, old, late friend Leonard Ravenhill never tired of recommending Gurnall in the original as well as Isaac Ambrose’s Looking Unto Jesus. These and many more related books grace my library, which is one reason I’m not a Calvinist basher — and certainly not a Puritan basher. Who could bash a lover of Jesus like Samuel Rutherford?

    My reason for calling it a “Puritan” board was because I didn’t want to link to the actual website, since I was quoting some very negative comments from it and didn’t want to give the impression that the entire website was like that (I just discovered it late last night), and I try to be fair in my citations.

    That being said, thanks for giving me an opportunity to boast in the Puritans!

  23. Dr. Brown,

    In responce to what you said about Christophe’s comments:

    While I understand limited time in the debate, it did seem to me that you spent a bit too much time outside the text that it seems that you really didn’t have such a great dealing with the text as a piece its self. In other words, I have no problems with comparing Scriptire with Scripture, but it seemed that you didn’t spend enough time in the actual text at hand for you to walk through the text and grammatically show how your understanding gotten from other Scripture fits with the text. So in short, I was a bit surprised by how much time you spent outside of the text, and I would like to hear you do a bit more in depth walk through of the text sometime.

    Just my impression,
    Thanks.

  24. Dr. Brown,

    As to your comments about the Puritians, I just wanted to say that your comment made me smile that said, “Who could bash a lover of Jesus like Samuel Rutherford?”

    My goal is to do all things for the upbuilding of the Body out of love fore her, so thanks for your approach to these issues. I just want to be half the knower and communicator of Jesus you’ve been. (Interestingly enough I am a charismatic Calvinists, so might agree with you a little more than some of my Calvinist brothers. 😉 )

  25. Harold,

    Thanks so much for your sharing your impressions, and I realize different hearers will view the discussion differently. My reason, however, for emphasizing the larger context of John 6 is that, if any passage should NOT be isolated from its larger context, it is that passage. Once it is put in its proper context, the “mystery” of some predestined, never-before-mentioned, secretly-elect group disappears. But again, I appreciate your perspective.

    As for your closing comments — bless you for graciousness! You can be assured that if your fire for the Lord burns bright and the anointing and power of the Spirit are on your life, our differences over Calvinism will be all the more minimal.

  26. Richard,

    To respond to your statement, I’d like to try to clarify one issue that’s brought out in what you said,

    “Dr. White seems to respond that such a remnant would be a remnant “by grace,” which to Dr. White, would mean grace without human choice. It appears that to C’s like Dr. White, faith is a work that is opposed to grace. Yet, nowhere in Romans does the apostle Paul pit grace against faith. Rather, the apostle Paul sets grace/faith against works.”

    To be clear, I don’t think Dr. White ever means that salvation is without human choice. What he means is that human choice is not the decisive or determining ultimately in who is saved. He would say, I am rather sure, that we most certainly choose Christ, however it is simply the case that we only choose Christ because He sets our will free from hardness, blindness and slavery to sin.

    As to faith being a work, of course calvinists such as Dr. White do not think faith is a work, BECAUSE OF the way in which the Bible defines it. We think that some non-Calvinists describe faith in terms that would make it a work–that is, some define it as the action or work undertaken by the sinner that determines whether or not any one will be saved, no matter what God does. Hence, it were as if God were dependent on the deed of placing one’s trust in God.

    Calvinists in contrast see faith (the receiving of Christ for who He really is) to be had, chosen, undertaken (or, whatever) as a result of God making that person’s will free from bondage to sin so that it can see the beauty of God.

    Much confusion is had by many non-Calvinists on this issue, which makes it difficult for some such people to discuss issues in a meaningful way. So I just hope I’ve been helpful to someone in understanding the issue.

    Thanks.

  27. Robert,

    I do appreciate your comments. (I want you to know that I don’t mean to say that you’ve not meaningfully discussed the issues in the above post, but I was just making a general statement.)

    Thanks.

  28. Richard,

    Don’t know why I said “Robert” lol, but I meant to say to you,

    “I do appreciate your comments. (I want you to know that I don’t mean to say that you’ve not meaningfully discussed the issues in the above post, but I was just making a general statement.)

    Thanks.”

  29. Could someone be “In Christ” prior to His ascension?

    Ephesians 4:7-8 states, “7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore He says:“ When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.”

    Also, 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

    Thus, if a pre-ascension position in Christ is not possible, then you have many NT people confessing Christ that were NOT, at that time, “New Creations.” If you are NOT a new creation in Christ, then you are not spiritually reborn.

    Comments?

  30. Dr. Brown,

    Re: John 6.

    I do not have a problem with your procedure of first reading John 1-5 before jumping to John 6. This is good and sound. For you to employ arguments from them is quite sound. We Lutherans call this procedure, Scripture interprets Scripture.

    On the drawing of the Father. Whereas exegesis is primary step, it should not end there. A hermeneutic must come afterwards and from the Lutheran perspective, we will miss the intent of scripture and hence go into a plethora of philosophical mishaps which with respect, we believe Calvinism and Arminianism are prone to do.

    The hermeneutic I refer to is the so called Law/Gospel distinction that should come after the exegesis. For example as to the drawing of the Father, the Father is drawing all men. Even now I can say this. But unlike Calvinism, Lutheranism says that God creates faith by using tools, which they nominate is the Word (Law/Gospel) and the Sacraments (visible Gospel).

    For example, in John 6. The Father draws all men, how? By reaching and preaching the Gospel to them. This is also typical of Jesus. Jesus came to the Jews. It is not that God is not willing to reconcile people to himself. But as we learn, Jesus was rejected by men (or some are rejecting the drawing of the Father). So there is no problem on God’s side. On the other hand, when a person does believe in the Gospel, Scripture calls that a gift and should not be called otherwise than a gift.

    Our difference with Calvinism is that Calvinism, starting from Calvin, weakened or even denied the concept of the Means of Grace. This is the key to understanding God’s grace and the responsibility of man. It locates properly the real issue.

    Lutherans do not believe that faith in the Gospel comes down to us from thin air. Hence, some muslim guy who says, I got saved and believed in Jesus by looking a a beautiful sunset, we would judge as suspect. This is called in our circle Enthusiasm. Enthusiam, is a belief that God does not use any means to bring faith in the sinner. Hence, God zaps people with faith, with conversion etc etc. We do not believe this though we do not deny that God can do things as he like, but it is God who limits himself to these means —- for one and only one thing — to guarantee to us his love and his desire that no one should perish but all might repent and receive what was won by Christ – the forgiveness of sins.

    Calvin denied the means of grace – and he is confusing. That is why today you take two Calvinists, one will claim that Calvin taught baptism regenerates, and the other will claim, Calvin did not teach such a thing. Take the case of Roger Nicole, who claim that Calvin was a Calvinist. I reject that. For example, as Tony Byrne said, Calvin believed in some way unlimited atonement. But Calvin is not straightforward at times. This where Luther and his pastoral experience is a lot more insightful which I commend to you/your readers here.

    LPC
    Ps. I was like you, I was a Calvinist for 4 years too.

  31. LPC,

    Thanks so much for providing a Lutheran perspective to the discussion. Yes, there are more than two sides to the debate!

    At some point, I’d love to explore the Law/Gospel perspective (hence, a certain level of discontinuity) with the Messianic Jewish perspective which emphasizes continuity and fulfillment.

    Yet another issue to chew on!

    Again, thanks for the added perspective.

  32. Dr. Brown,

    Just a corrective, Law/Gospel we do not mean OT and NT. No that is not what we mean. The Law/Gospel theme is found in the OT as well as in the NT.

    By Law we mean passages that speak of our problem of sin and the Gospel promise how that problem is solved by Christ. The Law and Gospel hemeneutic was used by the early Christian, even St Paul used this in Galatians.

    Please study Law and Gospel from our perspective and not from the Calvinists Covenant theology point of view.

    BTW, Lutherans are not into Covenants, we are into testaments as – last will and testament, it is a Testamental theology.

    A testament is one sided. We execute the testament of Jesus, it is Jesus who leaves us his last will and testament.

    God demands faith, but even that faith God freely supplies. He supplies this by using tools – the Word, the Sacrament.

    Since you come from a Jewish perspective, I think it would be a good study on how circumcision and passover have been viewed from your point of view. I believe since the Lutheran view affirms some traditional concepts, I expect it to comport with some Jewish understanding. I could be wrong, but I would be interested in any study you might bring up in this regard.

    LPC

  33. LPC,

    Yes, you are quite correct in terms of the Lutheran distinctive between Law/Gospel, and Luther was apt to find “Gospel” throughout the OT. Messianic Jews would still have a somewhat different take on it, but your points of clarification and further inquiry are most welcome.

    I’ll try to respond as time permits. Thanks!

  34. Arminian, Don, and Dr. Brown,

    Thanks for the responses. Four things:

    (1) To Don: You said, “Does the verse say he was chosen unto salvation?” Does it have to say so explicitly? No. What else does chosen mean in Romans, especially when it’s linked to the Lord? And whether it says chosen “in the Lord” or chosen “to be in the Lord” is not the point. It says “in the Lord,” which indicates what kind of election it is, namely, unto salvation. What else does chosen in the Lord mean?

    Finally, Don, you said, “Again I state, no one is chosen, or elect, to be saved but become the chosen, or elect when they become saved. Rufus is one such example.” That some of the Thessalonians were chosen or elected for/unto salvation is explicitly stated in 2 Thess. 2:13-14. To say these people were elected unto salvation as a group and not individually, and comprised a mere pocket group of the whole corporate group is more than a stretch in my opinion.

    Read Acts 17:1-4; 1 Thess. 1:4-6, 9-10; and 2 Thess. 2:13-14. This is clearly not corporate election but individuals elected and gathered together into a group called a local church.

    (2) To Arminian: You said “As for Rom 16:13, this is unlikely to refer to Rufus’ election to salvation. A great many scholars have taken this as the NASB takes it, in the sense of “choice”, “distinguished” , “eminent” (a possible meaning of the adjective), identifying Rufus as a distinguished Christian.” A great many? Name five. I find that position, personally, to be completely unsatisfying and terribly weak. I would need to see some documentation and some good arguments from these scholars before I can form a definitive position however.

    You said, “Since all Christians are elect in a saving way and there would be no point to single Rufus out with this designation.” Why would there be no point?? That is an enormous assumption. Are you seriously willing to say there is no point in exclaiming that someone is elect? Go through the list in Romans 16 where Paul is commending, extolling, and celebrating various people. He says some things about some people and not others that are applicable to far more than just that individual. Was there no point to his doing so? Certainly not.

    (3) To Arminian: You said, “You seem to misunderstand the corporate view, which actually does hold that idividuals are personally elect, but only as members of the elect people. But that does not make their election or salvation impersonal.”

    Why is it always that we just don’t understand? Some of us do understand, and that’s why we reject it. Respectfully, I think you have misunderstood the corporate view, or have carved out your own version of it. Salvation is extremely personal, but election is not salvation in the Bible. Without having read the article to which you linked, here is what I know about the corporate view of election:

    The corporate view holds, by definition, that God elected not individuals, but Jesus and the group or corporate body of all those who believe into Jesus. Jesus is the chosen one, and an individual becomes elect when he includes himself in that group of those who believe into Jesus. And of course the only way into this chosen group is by grace through faith alone. This election of the group is unto salvation and takes place before the foundation of the world. Those who believe into the chosen group become elect personally only by participating in the election of Jesus, just as they become righteous by participating in the righteousness of Jesus.

    This is the corporate view. It is specifically designed to deny individual election unto salvation! By definition, an individual’s election is merely derivative and participatory, just as I said in my initial post. No one is personally and individually chosen for salvation qua individual/person. And yet Paul says Rufus the individual person is chosen, which runs contrary to the corporate view. Adding the words “in the Lord” indicates the nature of the election, namely, it is a Christian election; a salvific election; an election in covenant union with the second Adam, the appointed Head of the Redeemed.

    (4) To Dr. Brown: Saying that the way I understand the verse is an absurdity and that it obviously means something else is not a little insulting. I asked you for some honest feedback, and instead you insult me. You didn’t treat Dr. White that way. I’m not sure why you did here. You offered nothing, no response whatsoever. You mentioned the responses of others, and I appreciated their interaction, but those two don’t even agree with one another over the essence of the corporate view.

    I had hoped for a good response, even a brief one; one I that would challenge me and force me to change my view of the text. “That’s absurd, and it obviously doesn’t mean that!” is all I got. This was a highly disappointing and discouraging encounter, Sir.

  35. We can find the Gospel in the OT because it has been promised, now that we know the Messiah has come, we use that information. No one got saved in the OT who did not believe in the promised Messiah. Even Abraham believed in Christ and so was justified by faith. Jesus said Abraham rejoiced to see his day.

    Meaning Abraham believed that Christ was also going to die for him and pay for his sins. This is what Abraham believed and St Paul says Abraham believed God (quoting Genesis) and this faith was counted as righteousness, God imputed the righteousness of Christ to him.

    In terms of your debate, the question is this – Is GOD today talking to people? Yes, he is – through Christ’s Word of Law/Gospel (as St Pauls says in Galatians).

    One who receives this message from God can do this a.) they can say, thanks very much, but I am no sinner (hence, denies the Law) and no one needs to pay for my sins, b.) they can say yes I am a sinner, but thanks, I will pay for my own sins by my works (hence denies the Gospel).

    Such a thing is called unbelief – it is calling God a liar – denying the testimony of God- unbelief is calling God a liar.

    But when the person trusts what God says that God through his Son paid for his sins, the Scripture calls this faith, a gift.

    For example, if Bill Gates went to the bank and deposited money to your account, then I he told you what he has done, what is there for you to do? Nothing. You can rely on it, use it or leave it to waste.

    It is a gift because it was not self generated The means that God used to generate that faith was his Law/Gospel. Jesus did the atoning 2000 years ago, now through the HS using his Word/Sacraments, God is now delivering that atonement to human beings. We are ambassadors St Pauls says, and hence, it is we are carrying only the last will and testament of Jesus, we are executing it, using the tools that God is giving us – his Word – both invisible and visible.

    To say that such a faith which Arminianism and Calvinism imply as self generated is a category error, it is to fall into the their paradigm. Arminianism focuses on his decision, Calvinism focuses on his faith – whether he has it or not (which I have met wondering if they are truly elect etc, for after, all it is possible that the faith they have is a fake self deluded faith, besides by Limited Atonement, it is possible they are hypocrites and not one Jesus died for), Lutherans focus on the means of grace, i.e., The fact that Jesus paid for your sins before you were born, this is the testimony of God. God did not consult you, nor asked for your opinion nor for your agreement, he did this on his own without our involvement. Now he is giving what his Christ has won – to sinners, this great benefit. This benefit has a delivery mechanism (if you will), the HS uses God’s Word to create this faith.

    I hope this makes sense

    LPC

  36. Wesley,

    I’m truly sorry you felt insulted by my comment, and I apologize for anything in my response that conveyed an insulting tone. I was simply pointing out that, in my view, it seems quite absurd to list a number of believing individuals and to single out one of them as “elect” to salvation. Do you not see the problem your view presents? For example, to Timothy, Titus, Matthew, John, Peter, Rufus (chosen to salvation), Silvanus, Junia, etc. I trust you grasp the point.

    That being said, please do understand that I am able to respond to only a small proportion of the posts that go up in this forum — although from time to time, I can get more involved — since this forum is primarily for others to interact with subjects discussed on the show rather than for me to interact with everyone. Time simply doesn’t permit that.

  37. Wes said: That some of the Thessalonians were chosen or elected for/unto salvation is explicitly stated in 2 Thess. 2:13-14. To say these people were elected unto salvation as a group and not individually, and comprised a mere pocket group of the whole corporate group is more than a stretch in my opinion.

    **** It uses corporate language talking about a group that has been chosen. So it pictures their election as a group. Moreover, if the ESV (among others) is right to take the verse as their election as firstfruits, as I think it is, then the corporate image is strengthened all the more. They are indeed pictured together as a group as the first in the city to be chosen. Otherwise, the verse itself would not give any details about how the group and the individual are related, though its language would still focus on the group. And since corporate language is used, corporate election is clearly the view of the OT, it is clearly taught elsewhere in the NT, and Paul’s culture and background was collectivist, 2 Thes 2:13-14 is best understood from a corporate perspective of them coming to share in the election of the people of God. Another important thing to note about this passage is that it explicitly contradicts unconditional election. It actually states that they were chosen through faith! That’s right, election is by faith.

    Wes said: “Read Acts 17:1-4; 1 Thess. 1:4-6, 9-10; and 2 Thess. 2:13-14. This is clearly not corporate election but individuals elected and gathered together into a group called a local church.”

    **** There is nothing in any of these passages that suggests individualistic election. Indeed, they use corporate language, though Acts one does not even speak specifically of election.

    Wes said: “A great many? Name five.”

    **** Are you kidding? It seems a bit odd that you would challenge a straighforward fact like that which you obviously do not know about. Morris, Fitzmyer, Barrett, Bengel, Sanday and Headlam, Lagrange, Murray, Black. There’s more than 5 with doing very little checking, not to mention scholarly translations that take this view such as the NASB, RSV, and NEB. As Cranfield (p. 794) notes, “there has been a very widespread tendency” to take this view. And again, I mentioned that others take it as a reference to some srot of Christian service that would have been obvious to the readers.

    Wes said: “I find that position, personally, to be completely unsatisfying and terribly weak. I would need to see some documentation and some good arguments from these scholars before I can form a definitive position however.”

    **** Ok, but that does not advance discussion much. I find it to make excellent sense along with a great many scholars.

    Wes said: “You said, “Since all Christians are elect in a saving way and there would be no point to single Rufus out with this designation.” Why would there be no point?? That is an enormous assumption. Are you seriously willing to say there is no point in exclaiming that someone is elect?

    **** That is a misleading way to put it. It is not pointless to say that someone is elect. But it is pointless to say they are elect in distinguishing them among a group of elect people. And that is what Paul does with such comments in this list of greeting. He appends certain descriptions to some that he knows which portray his knowledge of them and distinguishes them.

    Wes daid: “Go through the list in Romans 16 where Paul is commending, extolling, and celebrating various people. He says some things about some people and not others that are applicable to far more than just that individual. Was there no point to his doing so? Certainly not.”

    **** Yes, go through the list. While they may be applicable to more than one person, they are not applicable to the whole group. That is the point. If someone sent a letter to a church and said to say hi to Mark the carpenter, there may be more than one carpenter in the church, maybe a number of them if the church is large enough, but the designation still serves to distunguish that individual from the group.

    Wes said: “Why is it always that we just don’t understand?”

    **** I say it because you clearly misharacterizeds the position.

    Wes said: “Some of us do understand, and that’s why we reject it. Respectfully, I think you have misunderstood the corporate view, or have carved out your own version of it.

    **** I ascribe to a standard view of it as represented by scholars such as William Klein and Brian Abasciano. Now I will say that much of the description you went on to give in your response to me is accurate, but notice that you contradict your former claim about the corporate election view when you say “Those who believe into the chosen group become elect personally only by participating in the election of Jesus, just as they become righteous by participating in the righteousness of Jesus.” I objected to your earlier claim that Christians are not elect “in a personal sense” in the corporate view. But as you acknoweldge here, that is just not the case. But then you go on to muddle the issue again when you say that “No one is personally and individually chosen for salvation qua individual/person.” It is true that no one is chosen personally alone in the view, but that does not make those who are chosen as part of the group not chosen personally. It is undeniable that someone can receive a benefit both derivatively and personally at the same time. As you correctly said, “Those who believe into the chosen group become elect personally only by participating in the election of Jesus, just as they become righteous by participating in the righteousness of Jesus.”

    Wes said: And yet Paul says Rufus the individual person is chosen, which runs contrary to the corporate view.

    **** This has already been dealt with.

    Wes said: “Adding the words “in the Lord” indicates the nature of the election, namely, it is a Christian election; a salvific election; an election in covenant union with the second Adam, the appointed Head of the Redeemed.”

    **** Which makes it a corporate election, since it is conditioned on union with the covenantal/corporate head of God’s people. As I said, even if one were to take it in the sense of saving election, it still fits in with the corporate view since his election is qualified as being “in the Lord”, which would then hinge Rufus’ election on being in Christ, and the corporate election view holds that individuals are chosen because they are in Christ, thereby sharing in his election.

  38. Greg,

    Could someone be “In Christ” prior to His ascension?

    Yes, all the OT saints such as Abraham believed in the promised Messiah so they were in Christ. Being born again is a turning over from no faith in Christ to the presence of faith in Christ, i.e. justification through faith in the finished work and person of Christ. There are only two kinds of sinners in this world – one who is trusting CHrist for the forgiveness of sins and the one who does not. The former has been born again, justified.

    So some may ask, what about those people in China in AD 830? Could they have heard of the Messiah, I of course could not comment as I have no data, that would be arguing from silence.

    I leave that to the mystery in God.

    LPC

  39. Thanks for your response LPC.

    You said, “Yes, all the OT saints such as Abraham believed in the promised Messiah so they were in Christ.”

    With regard to all of the OT saints Hebrews 11:39 says, “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did NOT receive the promise,”

    If these saints were already “In Christ” before His Resurrection or Ascension, what is the “promise” that the author of Hebrews is saying that these saints did NOT receive?

    I mention these things because I believe there is difficulty with having people believing in Christ prior to Calvary, which causes me to question the Calvinist position regarding TD.

    God Bless,
    Greg

  40. Greg,

    I truthfully do not think that this question of OT Saints being in Christ.

    If you have studied Hebrews chapter 11, you obviously know that it’s all about faith. The whole chapter is basically for the purpose of showing the Jewish Believers to whom it was written and Christians in general an example of faith. So it is a parallel between our faith in Christ and their faith in Christ.

    Verses 1-3 say, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for , the evidence of things not seen . 2 For by it the elders obtained a good report . 3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear .” So you have them having faith and then us having faith.

    So did these examples of faith (which we are to follow) have faith in a general salvation? No! They were not without the promises, because they saw them.

    Verse 13 sums up the experience of the first number of people who had faith that are mentioned, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. ”

    They had not received the promise, that is, they did not receive the fulfillment of the promise in their lifetime. BUT, they did see the promises “afar off” and they were not only persuaded of them but they embraced them. Not only that, but they had a confession that they did not belong this the kingdom of this earth, but to God’s.

    So these people were saved in Christ because they looked forward to Him. Part of the reason Jesus had to come was so that God would be shown righteous in the forgiveness of the sins in Christ before Christ had come. This is shown in Romans 3:25, which says, “God put forward [Jesus Christ] as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith…to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.”

    Therefore all who were ever saved were saved in Christ, those before Him, those until now, and those forevermore. All things are by Him, for Him, and through Him, to Him be glory forevermore.

  41. Greg,

    I should also mention that in one sense we ourselves as followers of Jesus our Messiah have not “received the promises,” that is the promises of glory and joy from God. However, we have the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of the promise.

    So in that sense we are still hoping for the promises, looking forward toward them, being persuaded of them, and embracing them; and we are confessing that they we’re strangers and pilgrims on the earth because God is our inheritance.

    Thanks.

  42. Greg,

    Sorry, I had a typo. It should have said just above,

    “So in that sense we are still hoping for the promises, looking forward toward them, being persuaded of them, and embracing them; and we are confessing that we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth because God is our inheritance.”

    Does that help to answer your issue?

  43. Blessings, Dr. Brown.

    I wanted to tell you what a blessing it was to listen to the debate between you and Mr. White on March 25th and how I look forward to your next debate later this week. I understand you are a very busy man, but I hope and pray you have the time to consider and respond to the following.

    In regards to the debate, especially to the portion on John 6, it continues to amaze me how Calvinism is a theology of “exclusion” and not one of “inclusion”. Calvinists, specifically the leaders and teachers of this theology, seem to relish the “closed door policy” of this school of thought. Even White made the comment of “the church shrinkage movement”. I continually heard the gospel throughout your exegesis of the text, but only heard more “bad news” from White.

    In John 6:44 our Lord said “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

    White obstinately stated that all that drawn are raised at the last day. You were quick to correct him and clarified that not all who are drawn come, but those who both are DRAWN and COME will be raised at the last day. Jesus said in verse 40….

    “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to (or sees) the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

    Does Jesus raise everyone who looks to, or sees, the Son? No, because Jesus had just said in verse 36….

    “But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.”

    Only those who both see and believe does he raise at the last day.

    In verse 45 Jesus says “It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.”

    Again, White believes that everyone who is taught of God comes to Jesus. But was not all Israel taught of God in the OT?

    White again confuses listening and learning with drawing. “Hearing” is not the same as “learning”, just as “seeing” is not the same as “believing”. If both “hearing” and “learning” parallel “draw” then according to Calvinism Jesus is saying “Everyone who has been drawn and drawn from the Father, comes to Me.” That interpretation speaks for itself. Hearing definitely parallels drawing, but learning parallels coming. But only those who BOTH hear and learn come to Christ. Jesus said “And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, AND hath learned of the Father, COMETH UNTO ME.” Clearly, ALL Israel was taught of the Father, and ALL heard, but ALL did not learn. In Hebrews 4:2 it says “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word (of God) preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that HEARD it.” The point is NOT ALL who “see”….believe. NOT ALL you “hear”…..learn. AND NOT ALL who are “drawn”…come.

    John 6 is probably one of the key chapters Calvinists use to support “unconditional election to salvation”. However, ironically, it is just another chapter that refutes it along with the notions of Calvinism’s limited atonement and regeneration precedes faith.

    Blessings to you and yours.

    wingedfooted1

  44. Thanks for your response Harold. It’s great to hear from you again.

    You said, “Therefore all who were ever saved were saved in Christ, those before Him, those until now, and those forevermore.”

    If everyone (OT saints, John the Baptist, etc) that was saved prior to the Resurrection of Christ could be identified as “In Christ,” then why do the scriptures state that they were in “Abraham’s Bosom?”

    If a person is already “In Christ,” and is experiencing all of the benefits of His Kingdom (seated in heavenly places, etc), then there is absolutely NO need to be located in Abraham’s Bosom, which is traditionally identified as being somewhere in Sheol; a location for ***DEAD*** spirits.

    Thus, these individuals were NOT new creations “In Christ,” and were therefore not “spiritually reborn” even though, in varying accounts, they both demonstrated faith in God and even directly professed faith in Christ (e.g. Martha). Thereby, refuting the Calvinist error that men must first be regenerated in order to believe because before His Resurrection, and possibly His Ascension, spiritual rebirth (i.e. regeneration) was impossible.

    If OT saints could receive the benefits of the Cross in a “forward” manner then their spirits would NOT have been in Abraham’s Bosom (Sheol) – an abode for DEAD spirits.

    Blessings,
    Greg

  45. Greg,

    First, it is not me alone that is saying that those who were save were saved by Christ’s life, death, burial, and resurrection. The texts that I discussed above say that clearly. You must teke these into account.

    As to your point summerized, “If OT saints could receive the benefits of the Cross in a “forward” manner then their spirits would NOT have been in Abraham’s Bosom (Sheol) – an abode for DEAD spirits.”

    I do not say that they received ALL of the benifits THEN. The texts that I above discuss say that they looked forward to Jesus resurection. However, their faith and repentence was purchased on the cross just as was their forgiveness. Again, they did not receive all what was promised just as we have not yet received all, but we do have a benifit over old testament saints in that we know the secret in the Messiah more fully.

    Do think that those of OT times were saved apart from Christ? If so, then why does Rom 3 say that Christ died for
    the forgiveness of the sin of those already dead?

    It simply seems strange to me that you would argue that thos of OT times were saved outside of Christ. If that was the case then why did Christ ever need to come anyways? I just don’t see any biblical support for the idea that all things are not by, for, and through Christ.

    Thanks.

  46. Hi Greg,

    I see where you are coming from.

    If these saints were already “In Christ” before His Resurrection or Ascension, what is the “promise” that the author of Hebrews is saying that these saints did NOT receive?

    For the case of Abraham, he did not see physically his seed (Christ) and the many nations that came from him, like us(since he is the father of faith). He saw him only through the eyes of faith. Is it not the same with us, we have not seen Jesus and we believe in him? That is faith, correct?

    Faith is so fascinating – it simply believes the promise, the same is true for our justification. Hence, those who has faith in Messiah are the true children of Abraham (be they Jew or Greek).

    TD says that when it comes to going to God we are not able to come to him, we do not want to, unless aided by the HS. However, from my perspective, the Lutheran point of view, God has a way of making us come to him, and it is by preaching to us the Law that convicts us of our sins, and the Gospel that answers our guilt. This is how God overcomes our total inability. His Word is efficacious. God supplies what he demands, and he does this by using the means of grace to us – Word and/or Sacrament.

    LPC

  47. “I just finished writing a book refuting TULIP theology”

    Refute it all you want. His sheep hear HIS voice.

    Thank you James White for the faithful testimony of Scripture.

  48. I respectfully disagree with the posters who have unsuccessfully attempted to say the drawn don’t come, or the hearing ones are not taught.

    John 6:60
    Many therefore of his disciples, when they had *heard* this, said, This is an hard saying: who can *hear* it?

    The first hearing is a hearing only with physical ears. The second hearing in the same verse is a completely different kind of hearing.

    The context of being taught of God, all those also hear, learn. To bring in a verse out of context from Hebrews about Jews who heard with their ears (only physical), and try to apply it to this context is absolutely eisigesis of the worst kind.

    John 5:24
    Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

    These are not two separate things that one can do and still have eternal life. They both go together. Hearing and believing. Silly attempts to caricature it as a reduction to believing and believing.

    Does Jesus raise everyone who looks to, or sees, the Son? No, because Jesus had just said in verse 36….

    “But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.”

    They saw him with physical eyes, but they still did not believe. They saw the miracle – which the context for this passage started with. Jesus told them you follow me not because of the miracle, but because your tummy got full, don’t live for the bread that perishes.

    Jesus is saying the same thing to them that their fathers should have known. (the Elect / Remnant did) . . . Moses did not give the bread, it was God. They ask Jesus what they can do, Jesus says it is not what you do, it is what God does. The Spirit quickens or makes alive, the flesh (you) profit nothing.

    Everyone who is invited to a party can come, if they come. Only thing is, that is not the context of John 6.

    v37
    All the Father gives *shall* come *to* Christ
    v40 Everyone who seeth the Son and believeth
    v44 The Father draws everyone that comes *to* Christ – same folks are also raised up at the last day
    v45 Still talking about those that *cometh unto me* – they have heard and have learned of the Father
    no change in context, or who is being spoken of
    v47 He that believeth on me has eternal life – very same folks that come to him
    thru vs 61 those that come to Christ, live off of Christ.
    v65 is parallel to v 37 starts with the same beginning, compare “except drawn” with “except it were given unto them”.

    Dr Brown or none posting have said what this whole context is about.
    The ones that were offended v61, that went away v66. Why?
    They were *not* drawn, they did not hear, did not learn, were not taught, were not quickened, were not given.

    It is only Arminian / Synergistic tradition – that keeps folks from *seeing* [ 🙂 meaning understanding] what is plainly taught.

    God Bless,
    Although we differ from our brothers in lots of areas, we proclaim
    with the Apostle Paul (do not think I am accusing anyone of preaching in pretence part – I just mean the rejoicing part)

    Phil 1:18
    What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in . . . or in truth, Christ is preached; [and I know Dr Brown loves the Lord and many others too, who don’t theologically cross a T in Tulip the way I would :-)] *Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice*, yeah, and will rejoice.

    Bro. Pat
    (if anyone wants to email me @ grampaquick@yahoo.com to speak further, I would love to whether you agree or not)

    I will be praying for both Dr. Brown and Dr White for this Thursday.

  49. Pat,

    I have been meaning to write an exigesis on the text but haven’t had the time.

    Good points.

    It would be pretty hard to say that the Father’s giving to the Son and the Father’s drawing mean very different things.

    Dr. Brown understands that those the Father gives the Son are simply those who are already worshipers of God of the Old Covenant. So he understands Jesus simply to be saying that if these people had been of the group of people who already worshiped God and were so given to the Son, then they would come.

    The problem I see with this is that this does not explain the why Jesus would say, “No one can come to me unless it is granted to him by the Father.” If these people were already worshipers of God, then why would they need to be granted to come to the Father? Those who are worshipers of God (according to Dr. Brown’s interpretation) will just come to Jesus because they are already worshiping God. Why would they not have the capacity to come to Jesus unless he gives it, unless He grants it.

    This is just one issue with Dr. Brown interpretation that I’ve seen so far, as I’ve been considering it.

    Thanks.

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