Friday, December 05, 2008

Double Jeopardy Doubles as no JBFA

I am still continuing on the rise of Calvinism in Evangelicalism.

The nice thing about the Web is that it has made the world a lot more smaller. With it we can know what is happening in a remote section of the world. So I have been reading on the storm brewing in SBC regarding the subject of Calvinism and the recent John 3:16 Conference last October 2008. Hopefully this does not finally divide the denomination but right now it is a source of controversy. What is controversial is the attaching of the label hyper-calvinist to some Calvinistic promoters within SBC.

More than a year ago, I came to the conclusion that most Calvinists in the popular evangelical scene are really Owenian rather than Calvinian. I mean they are Owenian in their staunch defense of Limited Atonement.

Before I go on, we may need the input of the following in this conversation: JK, who happens to be a Southern Baptist, and David who writes about Calvin and Calvinism.

OK, back to the argument of Owen for Limited Atonement.

John Owen, that revered awesome Puritan theologian, offered the following argument in favor for believing in Limited Atonement:

He puts the universal atonement believer on the stand and asks this question.



You will say, “Because of their unbelief; they will not believe.” But this unbelief, is it a sin, or not? If not, why should they be punished for it? If it be, then Christ underwent the punishment due to it, or not; if so, then why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which he died from partaking of the fruit of his death? If he did not, then did he not die for all their sins? Let them choose which part they will.


But as Pr. Neil Chambers pointed out in his Th M thesis (an acquaintance of mine), Owen's position leads to the elect being justified already at Calvary. Here is what Rev. Chambers' said


What needs to be seen is that Owen’s argument defeats itself by proving too much. If, in Owen’s terms, Christ died for all the sins of some people, the elect, then he must also have died for their unbelief, where ‘died for’ is understood to mean having paid the penalty for all their sins at Calvary. If this is the case, then why are the elect not saved at Calvary? If Owen replies that it is because the benefits of Christ’s death are not yet applied to them, then I would ask what it means for those benefits not to be applied to them? Surely it means that they are unbelieving, and therefore cannot be spoken of as saved. But they cannot be punished for that unbelief, as its penalty has been paid and God, as Owen assures us, will not exact a second penalty for the one offense. If then, even in their unbelief, there is no debt against them, no penalty to be paid, surely they can be described as saved, and saved at Calvary. That being the case, the gospel is reduced to a cipher, a form of informing the saved of their blessed condition.


Notice I highlighted the portion which is of interest to me. Owenian Limited Atonement therefore leads one to believe that the elect are already justified at the Cross. Therefore that means the elect are justified with out faith. But then, this means that this is not JBFA.

Now does not that sound familiar to you? Does not this Limited Atonement conclusion lead to something we are familiar with and have been discussing for some time (hint look at the few posts below on justification)?

I am amazed and struck at the similarity of conclusion.

45 comments:

takingthoughtscaptive said...

LP,

Another wonderfully interesting post, as usual! I can certainly affirm the staunch defense of an Owenian Reformed theological stance in SBC circles, as in seminary I drank deeply from the font of SBC Calvinism...before realizing Luther was right.

I'd love to read Pr. Chambers' entire paper, as this little teaser is fascinating. The comparison with UOJ in Lutheranism is really incredible too...so for your next trick you need to link Owen with the grandfathers of UOJ. That would be some kind of dissertation!

T.C.

L P Cruz said...

T.C.

Thanks bro.

Truly the controversy at SBC is getting heated if the blog world is indication of the flames and arrows being exchanged.

Here is Pr. Neil's ThM thesis...
http://www.tren.com/e-docs/search.cfm?oid=x&exact=TRUE&author=CHAMBERS%2C%20Neil%20A%2E&action=query


I also heard of of the explanation of someone defending Owenian LA against no JBFA, they go to the category of so called prescriptive commands etc. I hope to discuss that some more but it is reducible again to what Pr. Neil says.

JBFA people have no anomalies such as justified people being in hell or justified people being such before faith etc.

Simply from our Lutheran point of view, it hinges on what we understand imputation to be.

2000 years ago, our sins have been imputed to Christ, this is God's reconciliation to us. But the imputation of Jesus' righteousness to us does not happen until we are led by Means of Grace, at the point of faith. People who reject the reconciliation of God do not receive the righteousness of Christ applied to their soul.

Hence, people (from JBFA point of view) in hell are there not because Jesus did not die for them but because they have rejected the righteousness of Christ, which is received by faith in that imputation of sins.

People in hell are there because they rejected the imputation of their sins to Christ, which in effect never received the imputation of righteousness of Christ.

The ministry of reconciliation is still happening today - Word and Sacrament are in effect and there is no revocation yet of that ministry (which is the ministry of our God through the HS).


LPC
ps. Hmm, re: link is striking too because Pietism and Puritanism are quite the same.

takingthoughtscaptive said...

LP,

Yes and amen! I completely agree with you. Because of the false dilemma presented in American Evangelicalism, i.e. you're either Calvinist or Arminian, your thoroughly biblical statement that, "People in hell are there because they rejected the imputation of their sins to Christ, which in effect never received the imputation of righteousness of Christ" would be dismissed by the Calvinists in question as "clearly Arminian."

It's a shame that the proponents on both sides have created such a situation where the biblical tension is not allowed to stand in its seeming inconsistency...all for the sake of allegiance to a theological system. One of my criticisms of Lutheranism is that we keep too much to ourselves and don't engage the popular discussions in Evangelicalism where Calvinism is surging. It's too bad, because of course we have it all figured out (grin)...haha.

T.C.

L P Cruz said...

It's too bad, because of course we have it all figured out (grin)...haha

Yeah, right tell me about it - heheeheeehawhaw (LOL).

LPC

J. K. Jones said...

LP,

Please be patient with my verbose comment, as the content’s relevance will be seen in the end.

First, could this be an admission that there is a high degree of mystery and unresolved tension in the Calvinist view as well as the Lutheran view? Maybe we all have some mystery to be fond of.

The idea is that Christ’s death paid the penalty for sin, but not all sin. The unrepentant sins of unbelievers were not atoned for on the cross and will be punished forever in eternity. Why? Because the unbeliever never repents of his sin and trusts in Christ. It’s his own fault, for he has been given every reason to repent and believe. One way to think of it is that the atonement is limited by faith, or the lack thereof, and only indirectly by God’s choice.

The believer’s sins are atoned for because he does repent of his sins and turn to Christ. We are saved “by grace…through faith(!)…” (Ephesians 2:8-9). No one is saved without true faith in Christ. The believer puts his faith in Christ because God gives him a new heart.

The believer is chosen by God in eternity past without regard to anything in himself. He is given a new heart in the present by the Holy Spirit Who persuades him over a period of time using the Word of God to believe in Christ’s past work on the cross as the atonement for his sins. He is in this sense chosen by God before he chooses God. We are saved “by grace (!) … through faith…” (Ephesians 2:8-9). The part that is determined by God in eternity past is regeneration, not the part of saving faith. Faith is a result of regeneration. Your objection is dependent on faith and regeneration being the same thing and not different.

Is this Owenian Calvinism? I am not sure. Owen is hard to read, and his logic does not follow in all places as far as I can tell. I am just a layman, although reasonably well-read.

What I describing above is the type of Calvinism affirmed by E. Y. Mullins, a well-known SBC theologian, and the first one to train me through his little book “Baptist Beliefs.” I would also argue that this is the position of Andrew Fuller, another well-known Baptist from the past.

Is this the type of Calvinism affirmed by most of those Calvinists in the SBC? I am not sure. There is a string of ‘High-Calvinism’ in much of what is currently being taught in the Calvinistic SBC churches. (When pressed, they would not technically be ‘High-Calvinists,” it’s just that they are often not different in a practical sense.) “High-Calvinism” affirms the doctrine of JBFA / personal responsibility; it just de-emphasizes personal responsibility so that it is in some ways no different from Hyper-Calvinism.

High-Calvinism teaches that, since no one can be held responsible for something he is not able to do, we cannot command those who are not regenerate to repent and believe.

Armenian SBC teaching is that, since no one can be held responsible for something he is not able to do, God must make all men’s hearts able to respond to the gospel for us to be able to command all men to repent and believe.

Both sets of teaching rely on the human logic that no one can be held responsible for doing something that he cannot do.

Andrew Fuller’s logic is that, since nothing outside a man keeps him from repenting and believing, he is responsible for his rejection of the gospel and can be commanded to repent. Nothing outside of a man keeps him from believing; only his own sinful heart keeps him from faith. We can command all men everywhere to repent just like the apostles. I think that is the biblical position.

Again, when pressed, few educated Calvinists in the SBC (and in the Presbyterian church for that matter) would affirm ‘High-Calvinism.’ But when you read some of the stuff written by the less-precise Calvinists on the web and in print, they are writing as High-Calvinists. They don’t fill in the rest of the logic, and they are resistant to it. They don’t have a teaching of ‘free-will’ or ‘free-agency’ that comes to grips with all of this. They don’t split enough hairs.

Andrew Fuller is the best corrective we Baptists have, and he is credited with the practical theological destruction of historic ‘High-Calvinism’ among the Baptists. He should be read by all in the current SBC debate.

Besides, Fuller is hard to read just like Owen and Edwards, so that should appeal to the intellectual pride of the Calvinists. It is easier to feel intellectually superior when you read difficult things. ;)

As for Piper, he is the one who introduced me to Andrew Fuller. He is one of the more precise Calvinists on this particular topic. David Dockery and the group from Union University would be in this category as well. So would Timothy George and the group from Beeson Divinity School. Ditto R. C. Sproul and John Gerstner for that matter. Gerstner’s “Primer on Free Will” clears up this stuff. (They might use different wording, and might even argue with me when I call regeneration a “persuasive process.” But that is a different issue. It’s the place where, in general, the Puritans were right to the exclusion of the John Murray inspired modern group. See Peter Master’s “Physicians of Souls.”) The Calvinist’s problem is not at the top of the ‘theological food chain,’ the problem is really at the bottom.

As for the John 3:16 Conference crowd, they arbitrarily lump all Calvinists into “High/Hyper-Calvinism.” They do not listen to what we say or address the more precisely formed arguments. They do not mention the Calvinist doctrine of free-agency, and they act like we don’t even have one. It’s a near-perfect example of theological irresponsibility. Far from winning my heart, it makes me mad as [heck].

I hope this helps and once again apologize for the comment’s length.

JK

L P Cruz said...

Actually JK, I like the dialogue. No need to apologize, it is important.

Mind you I am not convinced of the argument of Dr. Allen either.

However, I believe Owen's logic is flawed because he was importing his understanding of his present legal matters into the picture of the atonement.

When I was studying Calvinism, I came to the conclusion that if the Sovereign Decrees of God (SDG)is your prime axiom, then there is no choice but become Supra-Lapsarian.

I am interested if you agree with my conclusion, I think you will, if the SDG is your axiom too.

What is lacking in Calvinism and specially the Baptistic Calvinism is the idea of Means of Grace.

For example One way to think of it is that the atonement is limited by faith, or the lack thereof, and only indirectly by God’s choice.

We will not speak of it in such a fashion. The atonement is not limited by anything because it happened before we were born, and it was promised to the human race before Calvary etc.

What is limited is justification. Remember Lutherites are JBFAers ;-)

Calvinists IMHO make the same mistake as the UOJers in our camp. They reduce and philosophize and reproject events and collapse categories.

So here is where the means of grace comes in - Law & Gospel - this delivers what God commands of man. For example - we are commanded to repent and believe, God supplies what he demands through the Word and Sacrament.

This ministry of reconciliation is still going on, it is still in progress.

People in hell are there because they have not been reconciled to God, though God has been reconciled to them. So the problem is never with God, never. He is the merciful and humble creator who pleads with people, as Paul said 'be reconciled to God'.

So we do not have to go through some systematics, it is simply telling the narrative, the story of God's rescue mission, God's reconciliation with us. It is telling people what the real score is. We do not go through an ordo salutis either, it is the story - the Gospel that deals with those mechanics. For us Faith in the Gospel is tanatmount to the presence of the HS. How does that occurs? Well we put the mystery there in the Means of Grace.

We do have mysteries even Calvinists admit, the difference is where we attribute or locate the mystery to be. This is where Lutherans differ. In Calvinism, they answer the question why people are in hell by positing - because Jesus did not die on the Cross for them - effectively faith is an after thought - so Pr. Neil is correct, it violates JBFA doctrine. There are people who are already saved they have not come to faith yet, that is the conclusion that comes from Owen.

This can cause us to be pre-occupied with pre eternity questions. Where as in the Lutheran, thought - you are caught up in the concrete here and now. Where is God for you - we answer here - look at the Word - it promises forgiveness in Christ's death - here in the bread and wine - eat it drink it and as surely your senses can sense this bread and wine - your salvation is sure - Christ death is for you. You have been paid for.

Can you see the difference? Lutheranism makes you look here in your present space in time.

In my observation, today Calvinism has suffered the death of 1000 qualifications. This situation is severe in comparison with Lutheranism. We have managed to be cohesive. Have you H O J Brown's book Heresies? Brown (himself a Reformed) argues that between the two, Calvinism produced more heresies than Lutheranism. He was also impressed that 8000 theologians and pastors signed the BoC.

So I see something dogging or plaguing Calvinism - it is its pardigm.

As a fellow Christian, of course, I am sad at the division going on -even though I am not a Calvinist (not anymore).

What I am arguing is this - perhaps people should give an ear to what the Lutherans have discovered of long ago - perhaps they should critically read the BoC. Such paradigm will stop plaguing them.

LPC

Augustinian Successor said...

Dear Kuya,

Thank you for adding me as your friend over at Wittenberg Trail! I'm sorry I've forgotten about you. I know that you are at WT, but each time I am there, I wasn't mindful of that.

On limited atonement, there is a danger that the Gospel becomes a theory to be believed. Thus, the Gospel is turned into Law, a common feature in the off-shoot of the Reformed wing of the Reformation, i.e. evangelical-ISM.

L P Cruz said...

A.S.

I was thrilled to see you getting active again and specially at the trail.

the Gospel is turned into Law,

You hit it in the head, I believe you are correct.

In fact that is what I notice in the articulations else where, they miss the distinction between Law and Gospel. The discussion leaves you away also from the narrative, the story of God's reconciliation to us. That story brings us to him through Christ.

Also it does not really give comfort in fact it does not assure one of his salvation, I see this as collapsing categories again, atonement collapsed with justification. Here the leap is backwards, from justification to atonement.

LPC

J. K. Jones said...

LP,
“When I was studying Calvinism, I came to the conclusion that if the Sovereign Decrees of God (SDG)is your prime axiom, then there is no choice but become Supra-Lapsarian…This can cause us to be pre-occupied with pre eternity questions…”

I understand Luther himself was Supra-Lapsarian. Oh well, nobody’s perfect.

There have been many theologians of note from the Calvinistic tradition that are not Supra-Lapsarian. I am Infra-Lapsarian to a point, but I think that the whole notion of logical priorities in the mind of an infinite Being that cannot learn any new information (an omniscient Being) is so surrounded in mystery as to be beyond discussion. Doesn’t the process of inductive reasoning involve learning new information by definition? We only know what that Being has revealed. Beyond that, we should cease to ponder.

I think one old theologian’s response to the question of what God was doing in eternity past is entirely relevant. His response was that God was “making hell for the curious.” Another is that “Where God closes his holy mouth, we should decease from inquiry.”

As for the ‘Means of Grace,” we have discussed issues of the ordinances of the church in other places. I am not a sacramentalist as per Rome. I do believe in the spiritual presence of the Spirit in the ordinances. I do see baptism and the Lord’s Supper to be sources of sanctifying power given by the Holy Spirit through the union of a person with Christ in faith. We are saved “by grace…through faith(!)” (Ep. 2:8-9).

If “justification” is limited, then the atonement must be limited as well. The atonement does not justify everyone. In that sense, it must be limited by something(s), namely God’s choice and ours. In another sense, the atonement is not limited: Christ, the Infinite God-Man, suffered infinitely in His soul. This infinite suffering very well could have paid the penalty for all sin. The ‘free offer of the gospel’ (read “command to repent and believe”)is a very real offer. It’s not bait and switch on God’s part.

“…we are commanded to repent and believe, God supplies what he demands through the Word…”

We agree at this much. For the sacrament thing, see above.

“People in hell are there because they have not been reconciled to God, though God has been reconciled to them. So the problem is never with God, never. He is the merciful and humble creator who pleads with people, as Paul said 'be reconciled to God'…”

How can you possibly be reconciled with someone who is not willing to stop fighting you / rebelling against you? God is not reconciled with the unrepentant. It’s their fault for being in rebellion against Him. Does He plead? Of course, and we should plead with the lost on His behalf as His representatives (see the discussion of the ‘free offer’ above).

“…it is simply telling the narrative, the story of God's rescue mission, God's reconciliation with us. It is telling people what the real score is…it is the story - the Gospel that deals with those mechanics…look at the Word - it promises forgiveness in Christ's death .. “

I’d like to get off this discussion at some point and get back to sharing the story, the real narrative of God’s saving work in the world.

“In Calvinism, they answer the question why people are in hell by positing - because Jesus did not die on the Cross for them - effectively faith is an after thought…”

People are in hell because they freely chose to reject either the gospel or the general revelation presented to them in nature. It’s their choice; all God does is honor that choice. That’s the very part I wish the SBC Calvinists would stress more.

“There are people who are already saved they have not come to faith yet, that is the conclusion that comes from Owen.”

I was not taught Calvinism that way. I was taught that no one is saved who does not have faith in Christ.

Besides, if baptism of an infant somehow contributes to his salvation, doesn’t that mean in a sense that the infant is saved without faith?

“Lutheranism makes you look here in your present space in time.”

So does the better version of the Calvinistic Baptist stream. Witness: C. H. Spurgeon. Yet Spurgeon was the very man who once said he never preached a sermon on divine election without someone coming to faith and repentance.

“H O J Brown's book Heresies”

I will get a copy either through inter-library loan or buy one when I get a job. This unemployment thing is really putting the damper on my continuing theological education by keeping me from new books. Of course, I am catching up on the books I have bought in the past.

“…Calvinism produced more heresies than Lutheranism. He was also impressed that 8000 theologians and pastors signed the BoC. So I see something dogging or plaguing Calvinism - it is its pardigm.”

I cannot throw stones at the other traditions because of the glass house I live in. The Baptists have created many heresies as well, most notably in relation to the truthfulness of Scripture. But I do recall many things from that Lutheran Church in America group that I think you would not be proud of.

I understand that some Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Methodists even think that the reformation is over. There’s enough crud to go around.


Augustinian Successor,

“…there is a danger that the Gospel becomes a theory to be believed…”

We are saved by faith, and faith in order to save, must accent to certain facts. Maybe not many facts, seeing as how even a small child can understand the necessary content, but there is something to be believed.


All,

At this point I am inclined to get back to the work of breaking down every stronghold that raises itself against the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. I have not posted on the gospel’s content or on apologetics in some time, and I think I’ll get back to it.

Thanks for the usual stimulating discussion. Great post and comments.


In His Service and For His Glory,

JK

J. K. Jones said...

LP,

I keep the note below in my e-mail when I post to your blog.

From: Mail Delivery Subsystem
The above "From:" address may be forged. Save Address Reminder

To:
Subject: Returned mail: see transcript for details
Date: Tuesday, December 9, 2008 3:36:43 PM [View Source]



----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----
lito@csse.monash.edu.au
(reason: 550 5.7.1 lito@csse.monash.edu.au: Recipient address rejected:
Mailbox does not exist)

L P Cruz said...

JK,

First thanks for catching that - it is an old address which is confusing blogger.

On Luther being Supra-Lapsarian, I believe you are correct, at least in the early part of his theological development, however, where he differes is that it was never his hermeneutic, which in Calvinism - SDG is.

If “justification” is limited, then the atonement must be limited as well. The atonement does not justify everyone. In that sense, it must be limited by something(s), namely God’s choice and ours.

Here again is where I believe the collapsing or equating of two different categories happen.

This is to me a category mistake. Justification is not the same as atonement, we must speak properly - you hear this in Lutheran circles/BoC all the time - "properly speaking" it is not correct to equate justification with atonement. The atonement can not be rejected per se by man, because man had no part in it. However, man can reject the benefit of that atonement. The thing itself and the benefit of the thing are two distinct categories.

Besides, if baptism of an infant somehow contributes to his salvation, doesn’t that mean in a sense that the infant is saved without faith?

We do not contribute to our salvation, both child and adult are dependent on God for faith to be formed in their hearts.

Word and Sacrament are God's tools to create faith and to sustain faith in the heart - this is what Lutherans who subscribe to the BoC teach, believe and confess.

Indeed one of the reasons why Lutheranism is weak in America is because a.) on the liberal side -they have not received a good publicity by some liberal tendencies b.) on the orthodox side - its sectarianism/separatism is horrible making them appear cult like fundamentalists.

However, if I were in USA I will still worship in a Lutheran church somewhere because when all is said and done, the Synod plays little part in what goes on in my local church. In the local church is where the action is.

There are more important things to do so I understand, we will talk more later.

LPC

Augustinian Successor said...

Dear Brother JK(!),

Rest assured I'm still a 5-Pointer! ;-) Yes, I'm a Lutheran on christology, Lord's Supper and Baptism, Law-Gospel distinction, etc. But on predestination, I'm a supralapsarian as was Luther. I'm a pre-confessional Lutheran in the sense of the Bondage of the Will.

Keep up the good work, my fellow Reformational brother!

L P Cruz said...

The thing I notice is that people who prove that Luther believed in Double Predestination confine their support from the Bondage of the Will.

The truth is that he wrote more on than the Bondage of the Will.

Also the charge that Lutherans deviated from Luther on this is not convincing to me.

See this http://www.orlutheran.com/html/mlpredestination.html

which even Luther himself quotes his Bondage of the Will!

Clearly his SupraLapsarian view, if it is that, never becomes his Hermeneutic.

Luther's hermeneutic was the Gospel.


So I still believe the counsel of the Concordians - Chemnitz and his gang, found in the FC and SD. I believe they properly applied there how the doctrine of predestination is to be used.


LPC

Jeff said...

Hello,

I must ask, what is the point of making atonement for every single individual if God knows who will believe (as he has decreed such) and grants faith so they will believe. Why make atonement for those who will never be given the gift of faith?

I assume you wouldn't deny that God grants saving faith (a gift of God) to those he wishes and that He doesn't grant saving faith to all.

Thanks,
Jeff

L P Cruz said...

Jeff,

what is the point of making atonement for every single individual if God knows who will believe (as he has decreed such) and grants faith so they will believe

This the richness of God. That is the Biblical testimony, John 3:16.
No matter what I do, I am not able to say that the word "world" is limited to those who would believed.

Atonement and faith are separate categories, it is when one collapses the two that things go nasty. Collapsing them also reductionistic and not a proper way of describing what God is doing in our salvation.

Even the creeds do not allow us to have that interpretation.

Let me give an example, Nicene Creed
who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man;

Canons of Orange II
We not only do not believe that any are foreordained to evil by the power of God, but even state with utter abhorrence that if there are those who want to believe so evil a thing, they are anathema.

Lastly most Calvinists and Romanists are the same (I said most) in that they separate the Grace of God from the Means of Grace.

Sure we believe faith is a gift Eph 2:8-10, but we believe that faith is created by God through means and faith is created by God by declaring the promise of forgiveness in the Gospel to the sinner - Rom 1:16-17.

Christmas peace,

LPC

Jeff said...

Thanks, LPC. I appreciate your comment. Hopefully my question did not sound harsh or negative :) It was not intended to be as such.

Can you identify any biblical text that states the atonement was made on behalf of all men without exception?

Also, having granted that faith is a gift, would you agree that not all are given this gift by God?

Thanks again for your time!

Regards,
Jeff

L P Cruz said...

Jeff,

I wish to assure you that it will take a lot more to offend me. I am trained in university settings and questioning is part and parcel of it. Also I engage in apologetics (this blog is like that) so I cannot be sensitive and take things personally.

Jeff, 1 Jn 2:1-2. I have never been satisfied exegetically by the answers given by Owenians on this passage.

Yes, not all have faith.
2 Thessalonians 3:2
and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith

But if ever they are going to have faith it has to be done through the Means of Grace - Law/Gospel.

It will be a pleasure to dialogue further should you have more things you want me to clarify.
Some of the questions help me sharpen my understanding of scripture too so it works bothe ways.

Shalom,


LPC

L P Cruz said...

Jeff,

I wish to assure you that it will take a lot more to offend me. I am trained in university settings and questioning is part and parcel of it. Also I engage in apologetics (this blog is like that) so I cannot be sensitive and take things personally.

Jeff, 1 Jn 2:1-2. I have never been satisfied exegetically by the answers given by Owenians on this passage.

Yes, not all have faith.
2 Thessalonians 3:2
and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith

But if ever they are going to have faith it has to be done through the Means of Grace - Law/Gospel.

It will be a pleasure to dialogue further should you have more things you want me to clarify.
Some of the questions help me sharpen my understanding of scripture too so it works bothe ways.

Shalom,


LPC

Jeff said...

Thank, LPC,

I appreciate your desire to hash these things through.

One thing that still has me thinking is the statement you make regarding faith:


But if ever they are going to have faith it has to be done through the Means of Grace - Law/Gospel.


I do not deny that for faith to mean anything it must be grounded in an object (and, of course, the right obect). Hence, apart from the Law/Gospel faith is meaningless. The question I raise does not address the necessity of the object of faith but the ultimate source or motive for that faith.

So I don't see (at least from what you've presented, and with my limited knowledge) any inconsistency between the reformed understanding and your Lutheran (I presume) viewpoint.

You have admitted not all have faith. But you have not gone so far as to admit why that is so.

Take a simple fictitious scenario: you and your neighbor both have the law/gospel preached to you (this, I believe, is the means you mention). You come to believe and your neighbor doesn't. My simple question is why? Or in other words, who makes you to differ?

Again, do you maintain that faith is a gift of God? I may have missed your answer to that one.

I recall Jesus' words to Peter in Matthew 16:

Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

Thanks for taking the time with me!

Regards,
Jeff

L P Cruz said...

Jeff,

Faith is created by God through the Means of Grace, we do not believe that it simply drops out of the sky or you come to believe in the Gospel by looking at a beautiful sunset, hence, some Reformed folk agree with us on this.

You come to believe and your neighbor doesn't. My simple question is why? Or in other words, who makes you to differ?

I answer it this way: if a person comes to faith in the Gospel he owes it to God for God owns the means of grace; if the person rejects the Gospel, we blame it to man.

It is always a miracle when we come to the Gospel.

In this we differ with the Reformed, because to the Reformed, the answer to both is God.

We are not permitted to say that God was the one making the neighbor reject the Gospel because that is making God the author of sin - unbelief is sin, or making God predestining someone to hell. The Council of Orange which I quoted limits that manner of speaking.

LPC

L P Cruz said...

PS, Jeff...

I know it sounds logically inconsistent but it is consistent with the Biblical data. So we would rather be inconsistent with perceived reason rather than the Bible.

I do not know intrinsically why God granted me repentance and faith, the other one he did not. All I know is that he granted it to me. It is a mystery, only I know and am glad he did.

LPC

J. K. Jones said...

LP,
“We are not permitted to say that God was the one making the neighbor reject the Gospel because that is making God the author of sin - unbelief is sin, or making God predestining someone to hell. “
I was not aware that I had ever said that, and I am about as Calvinist as they come.

The classic teaching from Particular (read: Calvinistic) Baptist teaching is that God works in the hearts of the elect to bring them to faith and repentance. God passes over those who are not elect. That is: He leaves them in their unbelief. He does not work unbelief in them; they are unbelievers all on their own. God does not force anyone to not repent and believe.

JK

L P Cruz said...

JK,

because to the Reformed, the answer to both is God.

Sorry I should have been more specific, I meant the Owenian ones would attribute to God to both questions.

LPC

Anonymous said...

Thanks, LPC

We agree then as it pertains specifically to faith (which I agree is a distinct category from atonement) that God does not act the same for all people. As time permits I may venture into how this relates to the atonement.

As to your attributing Owen (by implication) the ideas in your comments:

Sorry I should have been more specific, I meant the Owenian ones would attribute to God to both questions.

When you say "both questions", I believe that is from a previous comment or yours:


I answer it this way: if a person comes to faith in the Gospel he owes it to God for God owns the means of grace; if the person rejects the Gospel, we blame it to man.

It is always a miracle when we come to the Gospel.

In this we differ with the Reformed, because to the Reformed, the answer to both is God.


Are you saying that Owen's theology makes God the author of sin? Or that his theology leads one to conclude that man can blame God for his sin? I'll have to be honest and admit that I do not get that from reading Owen. But then again, I have not read all of his works. Owen would agree that man is to blame for his unbelief and not God. And to my knowledge, he would agree that God passes over the non-elect and brings the elect to faith. I own his volumes and would be happy to check out any specific writing or quote of his you have in mind that has led you to conclude this of him. And if I have misread you and that is not what you are saying with respect to Owen, I look forward to the clarification.

Also, I'm a bit curious/puzzled as to why you would narrow down to and single out Owenians (but more importantly, and by implication, John Owen) in this regard? I know your overall post deals with Owen and limited atonement etc. and so one would find it quite natural and right to single out Owen in that regard as his work is the premiere work on the subject. But the comment "Owenian ones would attribute to God to both questions" deals with predestination. It would seem strange to narrow your comment down to Owenian ones as you have done. Is there a reason for this? Again, if you could clarify what you're asserting of Owen and possibly provide citations from Owen I'm happy to look it over.

Thanks! I've enjoyed the discussion and do appreciate your time!

Kind Regards,
Jeff

L P Cruz said...

Jeff,

I single out Owenians because there are a number of Calvinists who are just as bothered with Owen.

Here is a link

http://www.bpc.org.au/about.php

Here is Pr. Neil's ThM thesis...
http://www.tren.com/e-docs/search.cfm?oid=x&exact=TRUE&author=CHAMBERS%2C%20Neil%20A%2E&action=query

Pr. Neil is a Presbyterian pastor friend of mine. He studied in USA for his ThM.

Have a read at his critique.


LPC

Jeff said...

Thanks, LPC. When I free up some spending money I wouldn't mind downloading this critique.

Probably kicking a dead horse here, but in your estimate:

What did Christ's death accomplish specifically for the non-elect?

Regards,
Jeff

L P Cruz said...

Jeff,

Good question. I will confess what Scripture confesses...

1 John 2:1-2. The atonement for the sins of the world. Since that passage does not make any categories of elect and non-elect, I have to confess what Scripture confesses and let all the pieces fall where they may.

Lutherans have a different paradigm, they start at the middle and work backwards. They do not start at the Eternal Decree of God.

The Glory of God is seen not in showing his justice, it is seen in showing his mercy.

This is also the difference between the Christian God and the God of Islam.

LPC

Jeff said...

Thanks, LPC!

As you might expect, I would not agree with the assessment that 1 John 2:1-2 is not particular. There is no requirement exegetically and contextually to make this universal (that is, apply to all individuals without exception). I argue that taking terms like atonement, propitiation etc. for what they mean necessarily precludes a universal scope. As well as the intended design of this passage as a consolation to believers.

Also, I do not believe it is proper to limit God's glory as being displayed/shown in the attribute of mercy alone. I believe God's glory is shown in the exercise of all his attributes, justice included.

What I am not really grasping yet is what atonement does from your viewpoint. What would you say is the result or effect of atonement (per 1 John 2:2)? What does atonement accomplish?

Jeff

L P Cruz said...

Jeff,

In 1 John 2:1-2, the critical word is "world", I can give you more passages but we can lock ourselves here. I have seen the works of Palmer and Steele here and they never convinced me. Also I recommend the evidences that Reformed folk run counter against Owen, you can see these from http://http://calvinandcalvinism.com/ a site dedicated to dispel that Calvin and Calvinists in general believed in Limited Atonement in the sense of Owen, i.e. in the sense that the atonement is not for all. You must understand that Limited Atonement is not a term formulated or invented by Calvinist it was an appelation by the Arminians but some Calvinists defend the term which is not found in the Council of Dort documents.

The onus is on those who will limit that interpretation of the word "world" . I gave examples that the Nicene Creed does not interpret the Bible that way and I believe the Nicene Creed as an Ecumenical creed is accurate expository summary of Biblical teaching.

What does atonement accomplish?


The Atonement paid for the sins of the whole world. In this sense, the salvation for man is finished already by Jesus. Paid in full.

The category of faith is now another issue.

I believe in JBFA that is, man receives the benefit of that Atonement through faith alone.


Also when you use the word "accomplish", from my Lutheran perspective, it is the Means of Grace that delivers the benefit of that Atonement to the sinner in our space and time. So the proper question is - what vehicle God uses to deliver the benefits of that Atonement to sinners.

The richness of God is seen in his mercy; and correct, that is where we differ. To me, the richness of God is found in providing for Atonement for all - even those who would not believe.

As Jesus said Mk 16:16, those who do not believe are condemned.

As Lutheran, the issue for us is always the same - Faith. It is now the problem of Faith because all that is needed i.e. Atonement has been provided already.


LPC

Jeff said...

Thanks, LPC. I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

You said,

The Atonement paid for the sins of the whole world.

If Jesus paid the very last cent of all the sins of the whole world, then what sins are the condemned paying for?

Regards,
Jeff

L P Cruz said...

Jeff,

Their own sins and I believe I am not being illogical here for
Jesus said this...
John 8:24
I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins."


Unbelief is treating God to be a liar. The testimony of God is that his son died for the sinner, the sinner says that is a lie, either he says, I may be a sinner but I can pay for my sins, or he says he is not a sinner and so no one need to die for him.
IIRC 1 John 5:10-12.

AT the Cross, God imputed our sins to Christ. But Christ's righteousness is not imputed to us if we reject the message that at the Cross our sins have been paid for. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to us through faith alone.

This is what the means of grace does for the sinner, it delivers the benefit of the Cross in to his space and time. It also confirms his condemnation when he rejects what is being delivered.

LPC

Jeff said...

Hi LPC,

Did Christ's death make satisfaction for the sin of unbelief?


Regards,
Jeff

L P Cruz said...

Jeff,

I was in a hurry so I better rephrase my answer.

Mk 16:16.

The unpardonable sin is unbelief against Christ, so apparently so is not forgiveable. Otherwise it becomes universalism, all are saved which is not true.

Jesus is the author of faith.

So how would you answer your own question?

Not dying for some sins vs not dying for people are two different things.

I need to do set theory here but at any rate, how would you answer that question, based on your understanding at the moment?


LPC

Jeff said...

Hi LPC,

I would say that if Christ has not paid for my sin of unbelief (having spent too many years in unbelief) I will be bound to pay for this sin eternally.

So since some men are saved, all their sins are expiated. Or that is to say that Christ paid for all the sins of some people (the elect). "the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin," I John 1:7

The issue is did Christ's death actually accomplish the full work of satisfaction for sin or not?

If it did, I see 2 options
1. If some men are ultimately saved, then He didn't make satisfaction for all men.
2. If all are saved, then he made satisfaction for all men

On the other hand, if His death didn't accomplish full satisfaction for any man
1. None are saved.

This goes back to propitiation in 1 Jn 2:2. This speaks of ACTUAL propitiation. Not hypothetical. God is truly propitiated. The objective work is finished at Calvary. He actually paid the real price for real sins as a penal substitute for his people.

Jeff

L P Cruz said...

Jeff,

I would say that if Christ has not paid for my sin of unbelief (having
spent too many years in unbelief) I will be bound to pay for this sin
eternally


Precisely as what the Bible teaches, Jesus said to the Jews, if you do not believe that I am he, you will die in your sins.

So since some men are saved, all their sins are expiated. Or that is to say that Christ paid for all the sins of some people (the elect). "the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin," I John 1:7

I would say this is a leap of logic.


The Bible says Jesus died also for people - he gave himself a ransom for all 1 Tim 2:6.

Jesus death is accomplished for all men. They have been paid in full as people bound for wrath. This is to be received by faith to experience its benefit.

You talk about Jesus dying for some sins, but also the Bible says that Jesus died for people. We should not abstract away sins and people who posses those sins. These are people who happened to be sinners.

I take it you are saying that the fact that a person does not believe means Jesus did not die for him.

This is a leap of logic and to me misses in actuality JBFA. So I would say that here Pr. Neal's criticism is correct.

The imputation of the sins of people unto Christ has already been accomplished, but the imputation of righteousness upon people is still ongoing and still being performed by the HS through Word and Sacrament. This is not yet finish in delivering the benefit.

So, then if you believe that Jesus died only for some people, may I ask a practical question?

What evidence do you have that you are one of those people that Jesus died for?

LPC

Jeff said...

I am working on a response to your last post, but let me see if I understand you correctly from a previous comment you made.

You don't believe that Christ made satisfaction for the sin of unbelief for anybody, specifically the elect? Or put another way, you believe that Christ paid for all sins (except the sin of unbelief) of all people?

Is that an accurate representation of your view?

Thanks,
Jeff

L P Cruz said...

Jeff,

Yes, I believe that Jesus died for the whole human race and paid for their sins at the Cross except for the rejection of that sacrifice/atonement he made for them.

I believe also our issue here is how to avoid universalism. On the one hand, the Owenian method is to limit the dying of Jesus to the elect as a solution to the problem of universalism, on the other, I for one says it is the lack of faith or unbelief, that answers the issue of universalism - i.e JBFA.

Unbelief, by my definition is treating God to be a liar, i.e. it negates the testimony of God that Jesus paid and died for the sins of the whole world. This is not the same as doubt, unbelief is suppressing the truth into unrighteousness, it is active denial, it is not passive but vigorous. It is treating God's universal Gospel of forgiveness to be a lie, i.e. in regards to the Gospel.

Mt 12:31; Mk 16:16;

In other words today, man is not damned because of his sins, he is damned because of his unbelief. This boils down to the category of faith in the Gospel and unbelief in the Gospel which the Scripture distinctly treats on their own ontological natures.

I believe that man is justified through faith alone in the Gospel.

I do not believe anyone is justified prior to faith nor justified without faith.

If you believe that the answer to universalism is Limited Atonement in that Jesus died for some people only, then what is your proof that Jesus died for you?

LPC

Jeff said...

Hi LPC,

If you believe that the answer to universalism is Limited Atonement in that Jesus died for some people only, then what is your proof that Jesus died for you?

I'll take this as proof, which is as sure as God is God:

Romans 8:16, The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God

It's ironic you would ask that question as you are in the same boat as I am. I might ask you a similar question: What evidence do you have that you are one of the elect? This is a rhetorical question as I really don't desire an answer to this, but the question does show you are not exempt from the problem you present to me when asking how I know Christ died for me.

Your question is more rightly lodged against unconditional election. In both our viewpoints, you would agree, the same exact number of individuals are ultimately saved (the elect). So whether or not he died for all or some is really a non-issue as it pertains to the question you ask. I assume you don't dispute election.

But assuming your viewpoint, there is no advantage to know or maintain that Christ died for you (all people without exception). Because, in the final analysis, you may be one of the ones who are not given the gift of faith by the Spirit unto justification of life. So according to your viewpoint Christ died for you but you may not be saved. But at least you know Christ died for you? I'm lost on what benefit/consolation/love that supposedly demonstrates above and beyond the view of definite atonement? I do not mean disrespect here, but I see nothing to commend that view.

You stated,

Yes, I believe that Jesus died for the whole human race and paid for their sins at the Cross except for the rejection of that sacrifice/atonement he made for them.

I apologize for the repetition here, but I want to make sure I understand you. So I'll rephrase with a question below. And when I say "your sin of unbelief", I am referring to that period before you came to Christ.

Are you saying that Christ did NOT pay for your sin of unbelief at the cross?

Regards,
Jeff

L P Cruz said...

Jeff,

Actually, no, we are not in the same boat.

What is my assurance that Jesus died for me? - is this - because he died for all, that means he died for me.

If Jesus died for some, how do you know he died for an individual down the street? How do justify that your preaching to him is not superfluous?

How does Rom 8:16 act out in practice? Do you hear a voice saying Jesus died for you? Or do you hear a voice saying you are a child of God? If so, what is the HS saying to you? That you are a child of God? And on what basis is he saying that you are? Is it because you had a conversion experience?

As a Lutheran, I am enjoined to find all of my evidences outside me. For the Bible says we are prone to lying to ourselves and to others. The WOrd and the Sacraments tell me that I am a sinner and Jesus died for sinners, that means I am one of them that Jesus died for. These are all objective.

Faith needs an object to grasp on, and faith in the Gospel is the presence of the HS. Limited Atonement is not good news, and faith cannot lodge itself on something it is not promised. It shoots itself in the foot. In fact, it does not strengthen ones faith in the Gospel, rather LA gives reason to the individual for saying that God has not given an him eternal life in Christ.

Actually, your answer is something I have heard from the many Calvinists I have spoken to (I am an ex-Calvinist btw). They always point to something internal or experience to find out if they are elect.

Also, notice my question - I asked how you know Jesus died for you, not how you know you are elect. But to you, you think I was asking how you know you are elect. This is understandable because in your system, you collapse the two.

Indeed I am may not be one of the elect, but I am not concerned with that, because my assurance is not in the fact that I am elect, my assurance and rejoicing is in the fact that Jesus died for me. There is no other thing I know from God except this fact that Jesus died for me, all my experiences may be a fake, but if I am asked if Jesus died on the Cross for me, I have to say yes because the Bible says so, it is a unequivocal declaration of Scripture. This is my confession of faith according to Gods Word and Sacraments. This is where I look, at the Cross all the rest of my Christian life. Phil 3:9.

Are you saying that Christ did NOT pay for your sin of unbelief at the cross?


Let us go back to Paul, did not Paul at first hunted down Christians? Was he not an enemy at first? Was Paul a believer prior to his Damascus encounter? No.

The Gospel is the declaration that Jesus died for you and now God is reconciled to you ie your sins have been given to Christ. When God brings this promise to me and I say - no, that is not true, no one needs to die for me for I am not a sinner or no, I may be a sinner but I can pay for my sins, then these answers are the rejection of the Gospel a denial of Christ's work. This is unbelief, I will not have the benefit of that Cross because I am rejecting the very reconciliation that God wants to give to me. SO I am damned not because Jesus did not die for me, but I resisted the reconciliation or forgiveness that God wants to give to me, i.e. I am rejecting his offer of peace, thus I am not reconciled to him though he is reconciled to me.

In another aspect when the Gospel is believed, the Bible says this is a gift wrought by the Gospel. Belief is the effect, the cause of belief is the Gospel.

Everyone is in the state of ignorance when we start, God delivers the benefit of the Cross through Word and Sacrament, that is why faith is the presence of the HS. He turns our non-belief to belief by the Gospel (with means), when we reject the testimony of God through Word and Sacrament then we fall under Mk 16:16 and Jesus says condemnation remains.

Jesus says - If you donot believe that I am he (the Messiah) you shall die in your sins.

Notice that unbelief in Christ is related to dying in one's sins. In a sense, Jesus did not die for the sin of rejecting him.

Again, LA is an answer to universalism and I believe it is a bad answer because it hits the Gospel, it does not promote faith in the Gospel rather elicits doubt in it.

JBFA is the answer to universalism and the proper answer because it puts the Gospel at the center, and the Gospel is not ours but it is God's both judgmnent and acquital at the same time to sinners.


LPC

Jeff said...

Hi LPC,

I did not see a direct answer to the question I posed. So I'll ask it again below.

I believe the Scriptures teach that Christ made real satisfaction for real sins of real people as a real penal substitute. The elect are not believers at birth, so they have real sin (unbelief) that needs satisfaction in Christ at the cross.

So again, I ask:

Are you saying that Christ did NOT make satisfaction for your sin of unbelief at the cross? Meaning you, specifically, and assuming you are one of the elect?

Christ either did or he didn't. There is no middle ground. Which do you choose?

Regards,
Jeff

L P Cruz said...

Jeff,

I thought I was clear...

I confirm that my position is that Jesus did not die for my sin of unbelief in the Gospel at the Cross, my reason for this is because of Mk 16:16;Mt 12:31; So NO Jesus did not die for my sin of unbelief towards him. So NO Jesus did not die for my sin of unbelief in the Gospel. For that would mean that everyone goes to heaven without faith.

Is that clear now?

I affirm positively however, that Jesus died for me, I, as a human being. It happened before I was born.

When you say The elect are not believers at birth, so they have real sin (unbelief) that needs satisfaction in Christ at the cross.,

OK if this is your position, then Jesus died for the sin of unbelief in the Gospel by the elect, this means that he died for their sin of unbelief in the Gospel forever- i.e. he paid for their unbelief in full, therefore they are saved be they have faith or abandon their faith in him the future. Would my representation of your position be correct? Would you not agree with my conclusion? If not why not?


I also did not get an answer, when you say your proof that Jesus died for you is Rom Rom 8:16, how does he testify to you that you are a child of God, what does he use? Do you hear a voice? Do you just know that you know that you know you are a child of God? Are there words you hear him say? What are they.


LPC

Jeff said...

Hi LPC,

Thanks, that response is clear and helps me see not only precisely where we disagree but why I must disagree.

I would say that Christ rendered perfect satisfaction to the law for His elect and is their perfect righteousness. For His sheep, there was left no sin unsatisfied. This is redemption accomplished.

This righteousness is imputed to the elect in time through the instrumentality of faith alone. This is redemption applied.

I don't agree with your conclusions because for two main reasons that I am convinced the bible is very clear on:

1. Christ made complete and perfect satisfaction for all the sins of His elect at the cross.

2. The elect are justified when they are brought to faith by the Spirit.

Any view that espouses Christ did not make full payment for ALL the sins of His people makes redemption unobtainable. But since we know Jesus came to save sinners, that he will indeed see His seed, any such view must be abandoned.

Also, I see no necessary problem (logically or biblically) with the accomplishment of redemption and the delay of its application to the believer.

Those for whom it is accomplished it will be certainly applied.

The benefits of the death of Christ to those for whom it is rendered preclude a univeral atonement. I absolutely love Romans 8:32:

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

I know men of that day like Richard Baxter had objected to Owen's Death of Death at similar points that you and the professor bring up. So this is not a new controversy as I understand it. I am aware Owen did address these objections in a later work (volume 12 of his works) I have yet to read. I also know that Carl Trueman addressed that issue in the preface to the single volume reprint of Owen's 5th volume "Faith and Its Evidences". The reprint has a different title. His synopsis is helpful.

If you would require further explanation of this issue regarding the timing of justification, I would have to leave you to read the explanations offered by those two fine men.

You had asked,

I also did not get an answer, when you say your proof that Jesus died for you is Rom 8:16,

I was not aware that the gospel required any person to believe that Christ died for him "in particular". That Christ died for sinners is sufficient unto the business of coming to Christ. My assurance is that all who come will be saved.

Be that as it may, proof that Jesus died for me and the testimony of the Spirit are indeed distinct things you are asking for. While I maintain a connection between the two (those for whom Christ died experience in time the testimony of the Spirit), they are different questions. So if you are asking how I know Christ died for me in particular, I may argue back from the fact that the Holy Spirit dwells in me. And by my view (or yours for that matter) he died for me. As to the question of the Holy Spirit's testimony, see below.

how does he testify to you that you are a child of God, what does he use? Do you hear a voice? Do you just know that you know that you know you are a child of God? Are there words you hear him say? What are they.

No, I hear no audible voice. Don't see visions. The simplest answer is that though "once I was blind, now I see". I am aware that there is exegetical dispute in the phrase: bears witness "with our" spirit", some adopting "to our spirit". I don't claim sufficiency to adjudicate between either without further study(though I would at this time favor the concept "to our spirit"). But though it may be debatable as to whether that idea is taught directly in Romans 8:16, the weight of the testimony of the whole of God confirms the notion in general. So what I'm saying is one cannot have the Indwelling Holy Spirit and remain unchanged in the inner man. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God (Romans 8:14). That someone may have a false subjective experience does not invalidate the fact that there is a real subjective testimony of the Spirit of which Christians partake. Now that question, though a fascinating study, is of a different nature than the question surrounding the objective nature of the atonement which we have been addressing.

I have appreciated the discussion. It helps me to reason out some of the finer points. I have not intended to be frustrating by repeating questions. I hope you will pardon me if it has been. But my limited brain may require more clarity than some :)

Jeff

L P Cruz said...

Hi Jeff,

Our discussion has allowed me to ask a few questions myself.

You said...
I don't agree with your conclusions because for two main reasons that I am convinced the bible is very clear on:

1. Christ made complete and perfect satisfaction for all the sins of His elect at the cross.

2. The elect are justified when they are brought to faith by the Spirit.


The point of my question is to show some how that faith in your position is irrelevant. If Jesus died for the elect including their sin of rejecting him and his Gospel then there is no need to deliver the Gospel to them, the concept of application becomes a mythical construct. Why? Because by your stance, Jesus died for their unbelief in the Gospel as well, so even if they disbelieve they are still saved, meaning even the rejection of that application Jesus has paid as well so they are saved, before the Cross, after the Cross, before faith, and after abandoning faith.

Of course, you can say that they will never disbelieve once they believe. To this I have 3 replies

1. From the Biblical evidence, any professor may commit apostasy, Heb 6:4-6. You may reject this for whatever reason and argue that it is not a warning for believers etc.

2. If you reject 1) then the question is how one knows Jesus died for him and so one of the elect. Your answer in So what I'm saying is one cannot have the Indwelling Holy Spirit and remain unchanged in the inner man.

Hence, a changed life. Yet, if you ask a Mormon, they will tell you they know that they know that they had an experience of God because they have seen moral transformation and burning in the their bosoms. Why is your testimony genuine and the Mormon's not?



That someone may have a false subjective experience does not invalidate the fact that there is a real subjective testimony of the Spirit of which Christians partake.

I do not deny subjective experience, but it is not reliable. To this the Lutheran confessions point the believer to the Means of Grace - Word/Sacrament. Thus when Luther was assailed by the devil regarding his salvation - he did not point to his conversion experience, nor his changed life , nor to his faith as evidence, he pointed to his Baptism.

3. Which boils down to this -- long ago, the Lutherans criticized Calvinists re: the Means of Grace. Lutherans claimed that Calvinists do not accept the efficacy of the Means of Grace. This discussion has made me realized why Lutherans say that. Why? Because if Jesus died for the sin of rejecting the Gospel for the elect, then the Means of Grace is irrelevant. Why? The Means of Grace (Word/Sacrament) is actually that delivery of the Gospel and since by your position,, that Jesus also died for that rejection, the acceptance or rejection of that delivery makes the MoG of no account so this explains why the Sacraments are turned to Ordinances in the Calvinist circles. They do not recognize, MoG, hence, one is saved without MoG. On the other hand,

Likewise, I have appreciated the discussion. However,I am not so sure if my fellow Lutherans would have agreed the way I have answered your question. I think I could have articulated what I have seen in Scripture much better; I have suspicion I failed in that department. Consequently I wish to post this as a blog article without personal reference to you, if you do not mind. I want others to examine my answer and so correct me in my exposition.

One of the reasons I have suspicion about my answer is because of the starting point. Somehow there is something in me that needs to check with colleagues the paradigm operating in the question "did Jesus die for the sin of unbelief"?

Thank you so much for the dialogue Jeff, I am extremely grateful. Though I am not entirely satisfied at my answers nevertheless, the dialogues has moved me forward in my thinking.


LPC

Jeff said...

Hi LPC,

I have much appreciated this dialogue as well. You have been very gracious and I have appreciated that very much. You are certainly welcome to post the dialogue.

I realize more now that we disagree on a number of other fundamental issues as well so by my asking the questions surrounding the atonement, I've gotten too far down the line without addessing preliminaries.

And even at other basic levels, such as terminology.

For instance, if one says God was reconciled to every single man at the cross, I would have to ask what exactly that means? If some of those same people experience God's wrath in eternity, then they weren't reconciled in any meaningful sense at the cross. Terms must mean something. Reconciliation that is temporary, hypothetical, etc. is no reconciliation. Same thing with propitiation, satisfaction, justification, etc.

When two sides argue over a large matter (like atonement, for instance) and meanwhile don't agree at a fundamental level on the terms employed, the argument truly can't go very far. So for the case of 1 Jn 1:1ff, I believe the terms employed necessarily preclude a universal sense. I take satisfaction/propitiation for what it is. Doing that limits world to those for whom propitiation is real and actual. Again, what is propitiation if God is really not propitiated in eternity with regards to a sinner? Mind you, we BOTH create categories in that verse. I qualify world, I believe, necessarily. You qualify sin to be every sin but unbelief. As I've said, with respect to the elect, unbelief has been satisfied or they cannot be saved. Straight forward logic. Besides, unbelief lies at the root of every sin.

Thanks, again. I have appreciated the conversation! By the way, if you want to follow a very helpful blog debate, I recommend this:

http://turretindebate.blogspot.com/

This debate is regarding penal substituationary atonement. TurretinFan does a great job and is much clearer than I am.

Jeff

L P Cruz said...

Jeff,

I feel likewise in every respect.

In case you might be also interested in hearing the other side from a Reformed perspective, I also recommend

www.calvinandcalvinism.com

This has been cataloging all the expositions on the extent of the atonement and wishes to show that a majority of Calvinists are not Owenian.

I post for discussion purposes.

But briefly, I think Pr. Neil is correct still because by the result of our discussion, if the unbelief of the elect has been paid for by Christ, then the elect are saved without faith and prior to faith. This is tantamount to collapsing and equating reconciliation with justification. From my end, and my approach, the two are not equivalent and not the same categories.


LPC