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.

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!

16 Comments:

Blogger Nathan White said...

Just as Martin Luther said, the doctrine of Justification is "the main hinge on which religion turns."

Dare we say something is heretical if it conincides with a proper view of justification: the imputated righteousness of Christ to all those who believe on His name.

SDG

10:33 AM  
Blogger Daniel said...

Andrew,

Good thoughts! The word "heresy" gets thrown around way too much. A heresy is something in direct defiance to the central tenets of Christianity. We need to be cautious with this term.

10:42 AM  
Blogger J.R. Freiberg said...

thanks for your caution and taking the time to define your terms. I often find that in the Christian world so many unnecessary divisions and dissension comes from assuming someone's definition and understanding of a particular word or doctrine just from a few buzz words that may set off red flags in our minds. I also like your approach to Arminianism. I feel like most Arminians are really more Calvinist than they realize in practicality, they just haven't taken the time or had it all explained to them in an understandable fashion. Of course there are always those die hards that I would take serious issue with, but even then error is the enemy not the individual.

press on

p.s. are you coming out to the Shepherds Conference? What about Together for the Gospel?

8:08 PM  
Blogger paul said...

Andrew,

True Christians never condition their salvation on themselves, or believe that other people are Christians who condition their salvation on themselves. Arminians believe that their "christ" died for everyone without exception. Under this false gospel, it is not the blood of Christ that makes the difference between salvation and damnation but the conditional work of the sinner to have "faith" in order to make this "christ’s" sacrifice effective towards them, which is blasphemy. They believe that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception including those who end up in hell. However, if Christ died for those who end up in hell, then what did the blood of Christ actually accomplish for that person in hell? It accomplished nothing, and what was the reason that Christ’s blood was not effective for that person in hell? An Arminian would say that it was because that person did not have “faith”, or because that person rejected Christ. Therefore, under their view, we see that it is NOT the work of Christ alone that makes the difference between salvation and damnation, but rather the conditional WORK of the sinner.

You said that you believe Arminianism to be "seriously in error", but that you do not believe that all Arminians are lost. You are an unregenerate person.

11:02 PM  
Blogger ajlin said...

j.r.
I am going to Together for the Gospel!
If you're going, I'd really like to get the chance to meet you there.

Your brother in Christ,
-Andrew

11:54 PM  
Blogger J.R. Freiberg said...

Lord willing, I'll see you there!

1:44 AM  
Blogger ajlin said...

As I was reading through maki's comment above, I missed the important second phrase in the first sentence- "or believe that other people are Christians who condition their salvation on themselves."
->And so, as I was reading through his comment, I was thinking, 'wow, this guy's making several interesting points- I wonder how Daniel and Nathan will respond to them.'
->Then imagine my surprise when I came to the end of the comment and discovered that because I was not in agreement with maki- which apparently, by his view, I should have been in agreement with him even before I read any presentation of his position- that I am an "unregenerate person".
->At first note, I must ask why maki even bothers to ever try to communicate his position to others at all. Apparently, as indicated by further comments in the last thread, knowledge is not "a prerequisite for salvation, but rather that knowledge is an immediate fruit of being saved." By this statement, maki admits that by the "knowledge" he is imparting, he is giving us nothing that is prerequisite to our salvation and furthermore that he has no need to share this "knowledge" with us if we are already saved, as this "knowledge" is somehow supernaturally imparted to us immediately at conversion. So, whether we are saved or lost, there is no use in maki bothering to comment here, as his act of imparting "knowledge", by his own schema, effectuates nothing in our lives.
->Furthermore, maki's latest comment serves to fully demonstrate the veracity of Nathan's previous comment:

"So to say that if one must understand the ‘deep oracles’ of God in order to posses saving faith essentially brings the self-effort part of the equation back into the picture..."

Because we believe that justification is by faith in Christ alone. And so, "if you confesses with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved" (Romans 10:9). But, under maki's schema, we must not only confess and believe in the risen Lord Jesus Christ, but we also must "confess with our mouth that Arminians are heretics and believe in our hearts that they are all going to hell." So maki adds to the Gospel, becomes truly knowledge-focused rather than Christ-focused- believing perfect knowledge rather than the persfect work of Christ alone in the definitive factor in our salvation- and he imagines some kind of supernatural communication of this knowledge, which does not come by the rational proclamation of the Gospel message- the means of the spread of the Faith and growth in discipleship that is ordained by God. All of the traits mentioned in the last sentence are hallmarks not of Christianity, but of Gnosticism.
->And here's the rub: If we find that we do disagree with maki in the slightest bit- if his views are shown to deviate from the purity of Scripture in the tiniest degree- then, by his own confession, not only is he "unregenerate," but we must (following, again, his schema) avoid any further friendly communication with him as well lest we be found to be outside the Faith.

SDG

7:09 AM  
Blogger paul said...

Andrew,

First of all, I was happy to share and discuss Scripture, and I only asked you a question in my original post in hopes to further discussion. However, how did you respond? Well, you immediately called my position heresy. You said, "I Call it Heresy!" Now, what exactly did you call heresy? Well, you said,

"'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!' ...”


You believe that to say that Arminians are heretics is actually heresy. So, what does this say about your belief/understanding of the gospel? Well, wherein do you disagree with this:

1) All who believe a false gospel are not saved.
2) Arminianism is a false gospel.
3) Thus, all who believe Arminianism are not saved.

Do you believe that people who believe that Jesus is NOT God are regenerate people? If you say no, they are not regenerate people, then why do you not say the same regarding those who believe in Arminianism? Why do you not say that those who believe that Jesus died for everyone without exception are not necessarily unregenerate? The answer is this, because you do NOT believe that universal atonement is a false gospel. It is because you do NOT believe that Arminianism is a false gospel. Think about it.

Now, you also disagreed with me that individuals who call other individuals Christians who believe in heresies actually show themselves to be lost (i.e. unregenerate). However, the Bible says this very thing. It is written,

“9 Everyone transgressing and not abiding in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. The one abiding in the doctrine of Christ, this one has the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bear this doctrine, do not receive him into the house, and do not speak a greeting to him. 11 For the one speaking a greeting shares in his evil works.” – 2Jn 1:9-11 (LITV)

Now, what is said of those who do not abide in the doctrine of Christ? Also, what is said of those who speak a greeting to the ones who do not abide in the doctrine of Christ? Do you see how serious this is? The gospel is a life and death issue, because only those who believe the gospel are saved people. The gospel is God’s promise to save His people conditioned exclusively on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone totally and completely apart from the sinner’s efforts. For you to call Arminians (i.e. people who do not believe this gospel) Christians is to speak a greeting to them (i.e. you are speaking peace to them). You are telling them that they are Christians and should be at peace with God, when actually they are the enemies of God. What does the Bible say about such a person? The Bible says that he or she SHARES IN HIS EVIL WORKS, which means that both individuals are equally lost (i.e. unregenerate).

I tell you the truth about your condition in hopes that God would cause you to believe the gospel. The ONE GOSPEL is the power of God unto salvation to every one BELIEVING (Ro 1:16). There is only ONE GOSPEL, and every other "gospel" is accursed.

Next, knowledge is in NO WAY a prerequisite for salvation. The apostle’s certainly did not believe that knowledge was a prerequisite for salvation either, but did they stop preaching the gospel because knowledge was not a prerequisite for salvation?? … No, for God uses the foolishness of preaching to save them which BELIEVE (1Cor 1:21). God must give the increase (1Cor 3:7). God gives the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ upon regeneration, as it is written,

“3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost (i.e. unregenerate): 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which BELIEVE NOT, lest the light of the glorious GOSPEL OF CHRIST, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts (i.e. regeneration), to give the light of the KNOWLEDGE of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” – 1Cor 4:3-6

You said that you believe that, "justification is by faith in Christ alone", and then you went on to define "faith" by quoting Romans 10:9 as if to say that anyone who confesses the Lord Jesus with their mouth must automatically be a Christian. The Bible also says this,

“Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” – 1Cor 12:3

Is everyone who says, “Jesus is the Lord” a regenerate person? Obviously not. To believe in Jesus Christ is believe in the gospel, which is a belief in the person and work of Christ. Those who do not believe in the gospel do not believe in Jesus Christ and they do not confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus, but “another jesus”.

I'll stop there for now in an effort to keep it short(er). Anyway, if you want me to address a specific issue then I would be happy to do so. I hope that you, Andrew, and everyone else reading this will consider these things carefully. The gospel is a life and death issue. Jesus said, “...he that believeth not shall be damned." – Mk 16:16.

10:36 AM  
Blogger Daniel said...

Andrew,

Wow! You might not be elect. Ouch!

Maki,

I'm glad that you have everything so figured out.


I realize that everyone, Calvinist or Arminian, limits the atonement to some extent. However, what do you do with passages like 2 Peter 2:1?

Peter writes, "But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves."

The false prophets deny the Sovereign Lord who bought them. As a result, the Lord will bring swift destruction on them. This sounds like there will be people in hell that the Lord bought.

11:07 AM  
Blogger Nathan White said...

Daniel,

2nd Peter 2:1 does not discuss the atonement, Christ’s propitiation, or even Jesus Himself. ‘Lord’ is better translated ‘Master’, ‘bought’ does not necessarily mean ‘atone’, and we can open this can of worms at a later time.

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.

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).

To hear you blindly label all men who do not call Arminianism heresy is simply judging by external matters instead of judging the heart. "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."

We can look to the Pharisees for another example of this, for: "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. “Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. “For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers…For shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in…For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. “Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

Funny, justice, mercy and faith are mentioned, but nothing in regards to knowledge, the atonement etc.

1:42 PM  
Blogger ajlin said...

maki said:

-"Well, you immediately called my position heresy. You said, "I Call it Heresy!""

-"You believe that to say that Arminians are heretics is actually heresy."

I guess that it was providential that you misunderstood the intent of this post, as your misunderstanding has exposed some of your- um- rather extreme postitions.
Actually, though, the 'new theological position' to which I was referring has very little direct connection to your belief system, or any other form of hyper-calvinism. I was simply utilizing your comment to begin to focus on the word "heresy" so as to begin developing an argument that the 'new theological position' that I WILL be examining (Lord willing) is in fact heretical and contrary to the Gospel call.

6:01 PM  
Blogger J.R. Freiberg said...

This might be in bad taste but thought you might get a chuckle. check out this link

http://www.scottzeller.com/2006/01/17/i-just-cant-stay-away-any-more/

8:45 PM  
Blogger Nathan White said...

Hey J.R.

I'm going to the Chepherds Conference this year and have yet decided on a place to stay. I have some friends at Masters but am having trouble getting in touch. I really don't want to pay for a hotel room; and grace church family housing is full. Any suggestions? Do you know anyone who would be kind enough to accomodate a young guy?

Thanks, -visit my blog and you can find my email.

5:11 PM  
Blogger Doug E. said...

Sounds interesting!

Looking forward to your thoughts. Heresy is on a continuum and when we start to call it such is a fine line to distinguish.

God bless,

Doug

7:33 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Andrew,

What in the world did you do? It's not like you to stir up this much controversy:)

Well, personally, I have no problem with stating that Arminianism is heresy. However, I would say that there are many truly born again believers who do not correctly understand the doctrines of grace. Does that make them, in maki's words "unregenerate"? No. It simply means that they need to have their thinking transformed. Maybe Maki is really not alive on the earth since his understanding of all things is perfect.

Let's not be so backwards about things. Remember the Lord Jesus rebuked Peter for clearly going against the truth of the gospel when He said, "Get behind me Satan." Was Peter one of the elect? Of course he was, but his understanding had to be straitened out. Therefore, my advice to Maki is this: Don't make such strong accusations such as you did towards Andrew, unless you are willing to have yourself examined likewise.

Simply put, Arminianism is heresy, but there are many true brothers who are "arminian" in some of their thinking. I would clearly distinguish between someone who is inconsistent with an arminian "bent" and those who are openly arminian who depart from substitutionary atonement.

So........how bout those Panthers?:)

12:27 PM  
Blogger Nathan White said...

Maki,
Not only did you take 2 John extremely out of context, but I think we need to take a closer look at the 1 Cor (actually, you quoted 2 Cor) 4:3-6 passage.

You said: God gives the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ upon regeneration, - And then you backed up that claim with 2 Cor 4:3-6.

But again, you have taken a very shallow view of this verse and in the process have taken it way out of context. Let me explain:

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." (2 Corinthians 4:3-6, NKJV)

You misunderstanding lies in what exactly is being veiled, and what exactly is being revealed to those who believe. This has nothing to do with soteriology, as in some mystical knowledge explaining the nature of faith, the nature of the atonement etc suddenly filling those who believe. This, like 2 John, again touches on the Deity of Christ. V6 explains this very clearly: God commanded light in the beginning, God has now shone the ‘light of knowledge of the glory of God in…Jesus Christ’. All this is referencing is the Deity of Christ. God, through the Holy Spirit, opens our eyes so that we may understand that Jesus is indeed the Christ. This is perfectly explained here:

"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)

If perfect knowledge of the nature of faith and the extent of the atonement were necessary, why did Jesus stop here? Why did He, like what is taught all through the gospel of John, stress the Deity of Christ instead of stressing the extent of the atonment?

Again, 2 Cor is clear, knowledge of Jesus being the Christ is what is being revealed to those who believe. There is no perfect knowledge of each and every doctrine. However, to those being saved, there is knowledge of Christ’s Deity. Thus, just like the 2 John passage, you take a passage that stresses the Deity of Christ and add all sorts of stuff to it that is definitely not in the context itself.

SDG

1:38 PM  

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