Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Sidenote: "maki"

Introduction
At the outset of this post, I would like to emphasize that this is NOT the beginning of the "mini-series" that I mentioned in my last post.

But if you read in the comment threads of the previous two posts, you should realize that comments left by an individual called Maki require some formal response.

Maki has asserted- basically- that all Arminians are outside the true, biblical Christian faith and are thus in a spiritually dead condition and bound for Hell. He has furthermore asserted that any Calvinist who even admits the possibility that an Arminian could be a brother in Christ is likewise unsaved and unregenerate.

How does Maki reach these unusual conclusions?

Examination
1. First, Maki wrongly and unreasonably imputes to anyone from an Arminian tradition all of the logical consequences of their beliefs rather than taking their beliefs themselves at face value. For I would agree that logically the Arminian position would yield the belief that individual salvation is somehow dependent upon a human work- as Maki asserts- and thus Arminianism logically leads to rank heresies such as Open Theism, and this is why we oppose Arminianism so vigorously. But every Arminian with whom I have ever spoken firmly denies that salvation is in any way dependent upon any human work and they affirm that God receives all glory in our salvation. So what can we conclude from the realization that the facts of Arminianism seem to point in one direction, while the beliefs of actual Arminians seem to point in the opposite direction? Well, in the words of Stan Reeves, an elder of my congregation, Grace Heritage Church, "people aren't logically consistent, so we can't assume that they always see the implications of what they believe." When the Lord saves us from our sins, He does not turn us into the Vulcans from Star Trek- we do not immediately see all of the logical inconsistencies of our beliefs or in the traditions handed down to us, we still must have our minds "renewed" (cf. Eph. 4:23).

2. But Maki argues that "God gives the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ upon regeneration" and by this, he means to indicate that all the doctrines of soteriology, including unconditional election and limited atonement, are supernaturally and perfectly communicated to a person when they are "born again". In order to make this claim, Maki abuses the text of II Corinthians 4:3-6.

This passage reads:

But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (NKJV)

As Nathan White pointed out in the comment thread of my last post, Maki's "misunderstanding [of this passage] lies in what exactly is being veiled, and what exactly is being revealed to those who believe". These verses do NOT declare that God reveals every facet of systematic soteriology to every believer upon their "regeneration", but, as Nathan points out, what IS being supernaturally revealed is the deity of Christ. This fact is directly indicated by verse 4, which speaks of the "light of the gospel [that is, the "Good News"] of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God". This "light" is the same as the "knowledge" proclaimed in verse 6. This supernaturally-imparted knowledge is the revelation that Jesus of Nazareth is indeed the Christ- the anointed one of God, who fulfills all Old Testament prophesy- and that He is divine- as the "image of God".

Just compare II Corinthians 4:3-6 to the Gospel account of Matthew 16:15-17-

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 16:15-17, NKJV)

As in the II Corinthians passage, specific knowledge is here declared to be given by God and this knowledge is, again, that Jesus is the Christ and that He is divine- "the Son of the living God".

Trying to read the knowledge of "limited atonement" into II Corinthians 4:3-6 is just that- reading into the text a concept that is not present in the text itself nor demanded by the immediate context.

3. Based upon these first two faulty premises- that Arminians in particular and people in general carry all their beliefs to their logical conclusions and that perfect soteriological knowledge is supernaturally imparted to the elect upon regeneration- Maki procedes to conclude that Arminians are not Christians at all. Then, assuming all Arminians to be unsaved, Maki asserts that anyone who would admit the possibility that an Arminian could be saved is themself unregenerate.

How does Maki substantiate this leap in logic?

Maki abuses the text of II John 9-11.

This passage reads:

Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. (NKJV)

Maki takes this passage to mean that anyone who would call any Arminian a Christian is sharing in the evil deeds of an unregenerate person and is thus proven to be unregenerate as well.

But Nathan pointed out how faulty Maki's use of this passage is as well, commenting,

"Maki,
Your quotation of 2 John 9, which seems to be your ‘life verse’, is sadly taken out of context. Who is John referring to when he commands us not to share in the evil deeds? Look two verses back: For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. [II John 7]

Interesting enough, the extent of the atonement, and the origin of faith is not mentioned here or anywhere else in scripture as a primary doctrine. John is actually commanding us to refrain from associating with those who deny Jesus as the Christ (ie: the doctrine of Christ)."

Conclusion
As the brief examination above is meant to illustrate, Maki is a highly unreliable guide when it comes to the Holy Word of God. I would like to also add that Maki is associated with a group that hosts the "Heterodoxy Hall of Shame", which labels ministers of the gospel such as Charles Spurgeon as "unregenerate God-haters". For these reasons, Maki is permanently banned from posting comments on this blog.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Preview: "Heresy?"

In the comment thread of my last post, a blogger called "maki" asked- or, rather, asserted in the form of questions-

My question is this, since salvation and faith is in no way obtained by a man's own efforts, then would you conclude that Arminians (or anyone else for that matter) who profess that their faith was a prerequisite for salvation (i.e. regeneration), are all actually in fact lost people (i.e. unregenerate)?

If someone professes a faith that is contrary to the faith given to God's elect upon regeneration, doesn't it follow then that this person must not have true faith, and is therefore unregenerate?

With this statement, by direct implication, "maki" would have us to understand that Arminianism is heresy and that all Arminians- as Arminians- are actually heretics outside of the Faith.

In the first post of my next planned mini-series, which I hope to title "I Call it Heresy!", I plan to make the case that a certain new theological system that is currently popular in some corners of the blogosphere is actually a heresy that is directly contrary to the gospel call. In this upcoming post, I plan to give a defense for my use of the word "heresy" in regards to this 'new theological system' and I also plan to briefly explain why I usually would NOT refer to theological positions such as Arminianism as heresy- nor would I usually refer to someone as a heretic simply because they come from an Arminian tradition- even though I DO believe Arminianism to be seriously in error on some major issues concerning God's grace.

Anyway:
I thought that this "preview" might interest some of you and give you something to think on in regards to the Good News of our Lord.

God bless!