Think About IT: The Battle We Cannot Ignore

Francis Schaeffer (1912 – 1984) was a Christian pastor and apologist. He is responsible for helping countless pastors and Christian leaders to think more broadly and deeply about God and our world. He considered himself an evangelist. The following is a timely quote by him from almost thirty years ago.

“Make no mistake. We as Bible-believing evangelical Christians are locked in a battle. This is not a friendly gentleman’s discussion. It is a life and death conflict between the spiritual hosts of wickedness and those who claim the name of Christ . . . It is a conflict on the level of ideas between two fundamentally opposed views of truth and reality. It is a conflict on the level of actions between a complete moral perversion and chaos and God’s absolutes. But do we really believe that the part we play in the battle has consequences for whether or not men and women will spend eternity in hell? Or whether or not in this life people will live with meaning or meaninglessness? Or whether or not those who do live will live in a climate of moral perversion and degradation? Sadly, we must say that few in the evangelical world have acted as if these things are true. Rather than trumpet our accomplishments and revel in our growing numbers, it would be closer to the truth to admit that our response has been a disaster.”[1]


 

[1] Francis Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1984), 31-32.

Think About IT: Thinking Has Changed

Today longstanding shared presuppositions about reality continue to evanesce. We not only think about different things, but we think differently. The scientistic worldview that continues to expand legitimate science beyond its legitimate domain normalizes relativism. This relativism is not arrived at through philosophical reasoning, but rather by viewing life as either only understood or best understood by what science can tell us. Thus, each aspect of life, marriage, morals, child rearing, etc., are merely experiments, and as experiments, they are neither right nor wrong, but rather they either work or do not.

Christian apologist and evangelist Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984) wrote similarly about the importance of this shift, “So this change in the concept of the way we come to knowledge and truth is the most crucial problem, as I understand it, facing Christianity today.”[1]


 

[1] The Francis A. Schaeffer Trilogy, Book One: The God Who Is There, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1990), 6.

Think About IT: Free Speech Unless It Is Against Homosexuality

The mantra of our day is equal rights and free speech unless of course one is expressing biblical morality. Equal rights really are more equal for some than for others.

“[I]n 2002, police were called to a disturbance in Brighton, England, in which an elderly man had been assaulted, knocked to the ground, and pelted with soil and water. The police arrested the man, and he was eventually convicted of harassment. His crime? Displaying a placard that read, “Stop Immorality, Stop Homosexuality, Stop Lesbianism.” No action was taken against his assailants. His right to protection from physical assault was regarded by the authorities as less important than the right of homosexuals to protection from criticism.”[1]

Coming to America soon!


[1] Simon DeBruxelles, “Preacher Fined for Anti-Gay Sermon,” The Times, April 25, 2002, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-278222,00.html. Accessed at http://www.kairosjournal.org/document.aspx?DocumentID=6145&QuadrantID=4&CategoryID=6&TopicID=43&L=1 9-24-13

Can Man Endowed with Libertarian Free Will Live Righteously Forever in Heaven?

Humans are created in the image of God with soft-libertarian (incompatible) free will. This means that humans can choose, within the range of choices, to act or refrain, and whatever they do in fact choose they could have chosen otherwise. Many have argued that it is impossible to create such a being and guarantee that he will never use his freedom to do wrong—sin; thus, God could not be in sovereign control, nor could He guarantee that created man would never sin either in the Garden of Eden or eternity. It is obvious to all that man did choose to sin, and that all subsequent humans inherit a sin nature, with the exception of the God-Man our Lord Jesus Christ. However, many have asked me how can it be possible to guarantee those in heaven will never sin if Adam had libertarian free will and chose to sin? Stated a little differently, is it possible for God to create a truly otherwise choice human being who will never choose to sin, and if it is possible, then why did He not so create Adam and Eve, which would have avoided sin and its consequences. Continue reading →

Below is a blogger’s response to an article I wrote for SBC Today

I begin by quoting the statement he used from my article and then note his assessment. My response follows.

You quoted me, “the gospel, according to Calvinism, is that God ‘loves to save some sinners and equally loves to damn most sinners to eternal torment.”

You said that my statement was “patently false” and that I had “wrongly characterized… brothers and sisters and actually obscured the discussion instead elucidating it.”

My response to him was, I use the word “love” in the context of speaking of God’s relationship with the non-elect because this is the word Calvinism uses ubiquitously. Please feel free to look at any major Calvinist’s systematic theology. They work arduously and relentlessly to demonstrate how God loves the non-elect (though differently). There are entire books written by Calvinists seeking to communicate this. Consequently, I use the word love to discuss this point because Calvinists do. Continue reading →

Response to an SBC Today article I wrote

Below is my response to a blogger regarding an article I wrote for SBC Today. His statements come first, followed by my brief responses.

He said, “In this case, we see that it was God’s desire to allow Adam to freely disobey if that was what Adam wanted.”

My response: The disquieting reality of Calvinism is that according to Calvinism and compatibilism, this was the only thing Adam could possibly want, and it was therefore his predetermined free and only choice. He chose freely, but did not have a choice. That is the disagreement between Calvinism and non-Calvinism, and what I believe is a disquieting reality of Calvinism as demonstrated by Calvinists either not understanding that reality or eliding it. Continue reading →

A Calvinist asked me this question, and my reply follows

“In his book, Dr. Rogers writes, “…I mean that by grace, God gave man the ability to believe the gospel or not believe the gospel;…(thus the person has real free choice)” (p1) If God were to “equally” enable each person to believe the gospel then all would make the same decision, either all would choose to believe or all would choose not to believe. If God enables people to believe the gospel but in an unequal manner (whatever that might be), then we can get the result that some choose to believe and some choose not to believe. BUT, this is election by God – the Calvinist conclusion that Dr. Rogers wants to reject. Grace-enablement necessarily leads to election in the Calvinist sense.”

My dear brother, I must admit that each time I read your comments regarding my position, I am perplexed indeed. Maybe I am communicatively challenged. If you have seriously read my book and draw the conclusions that you do, I doubt that I can say anything that will help (although I did so yesterday and now). It is one thing to disagree, but your path is quite different than simple disagreement.

  1. You have clearly misrepresented my position and the options available outside of Calvinism. I assume that you have done so unintentionally. God created man with a libertarian free will not a compatible will as Calvinists believe. When God by grace enables man to have a real choice, unlike Calvinism’s compatibilism, if man chooses to believe, he also could have done otherwise, and if he chooses to reject the gospel, he could have done otherwise. Thus, man is not only grace enabled to believe, but to also disbelieve with full knowledge. To wit, man is enabled and not caused.
  2. Total depravity is not incompatible with either Adam or fallen man being grace enabled to have a choice to believe or not believe. Please do not superimpose the entailments of Calvinism on me because it is absolutely unwarranted. Of course it would be if I accepted compatibilism, which I do not.

As long as you evaluate other views through the prism of Calvinism, you will always reach false conclusions about others’ positions because it is Calvinism that we reject; hence, of course our position is different. To argue that there is no position but Calvinism that can believe in biblically defined total depravity is symptomatic of the inability of some Calvinists to have serious soteriological discussions, thereby helping them and others.

Full article and comments are on SBC Today at http://sbctoday.com/2013/04/05/one-mans-suggestions-for-calvinists-and-non-calvinists-part-2/

A Calvinist response to an article I wrote for SBC Today

My disregard for Calvinism’s deterministic view of God’s sovereignty leaves a Calvinist to respond in the following manner, as if there is no option but God according to Calvinism.

His statement, “It may not be as pleasant to view God’s sovereignty in this way, but what is the opposing view…that God is unaware of who will be in hell? Or that no one will be in hell?”

My response: Neither of the two options that you offer is acceptable. God has always known who would spend eternity in hell. The vast majority of people will go to hell; further; the issue of how “pleasant” something is cannot enter into the conclusion.

Calvinists view God as sovereign over beings that can only salvifically choose as He predetermined that they could (compatibilism), whereas, non-Calvinism believes God is sovereign over beings who, before sin, could choose to sin or not sin, and after the fall can only choose to trust Christ by God’s gracious enabling work, but they can also choose to reject (libertarian). Trying to understand non-Calvinists through the prism of Calvinism’s compatibilism, causal sovereignty, etc., will always lead to misunderstanding. We reject the notion that God can only be sovereign over beings whose end is predetermined by their nature.

The option is a libertarian view of free will that means Adam could have chosen to sin or not to shin and whatever he did in fact choose, he could have chosen otherwise. Fallen man is in need of a loving God who will provide everything including “grace-enabled” faith before he can choose to accept the gospel, but even grace-enabled, man can still reject. This is what the vast majority choose; hence, the discussion has nothing to do with and does not even come close to espousing universalism.

Full article and discussion is on SBC Today at http://sbctoday.com/2013/04/04/one-mans-suggestions-for-calvinists-and-non-calvinists/

A Calvinist asked me this question, and my reply follows

“If all men are under the same propensity to believe and under the same affects (sic) of the fall, what would make a believer better than a nonbeliever that he should choose Christ?”

1.         The issue is not that a believer is better (that idea may arise from viewing my position through the lens of compatibilism, which I reject). With a Libertarian free choice, it simply means that one can choose to believe the gospel or not believe the gospel, and whichever he did in fact do, he could have done otherwise. No one is better. They are not under the same  “propensity,” but rather have the grace enablement of God to have the same freedom to choose to believe or not believe.

2.         Extensivism believes (as would other approaches that do not accept Calvinism) that God created Adam with the ability to choose to obey or distrust God and disobey—such salvific choices do not exist in Calvinism. Of course, God knew what man with true otherwise choice would do, and that is why God’s sovereign choice to create such freedom included coextensively creating and providing redemption.

3.         I simply believe the Scripture is quite ubiquitously clear that God graciously offers the gospel to all unconditionally, but requires the reception of the gospel to be by grace enabled faith. Faith is not the reason for salvation but the means of receiving salvation. Man did not determine his fate by himself, but rather God determined (because of what is in God, i.e. perfect love, mercy, etc., and not what is in man) to create man with otherwise choice; hence, God sovereignly chose this path.

4.         I do give a host of Scriptures in my book. Others who neither claim to be Calvinist nor Arminian do likewise in their writings. There are several things that God does that I categorize as grace enablements. To mention just a few: we believe the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16-17) and the conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-11) and that God really does love His created humanity and both desires and provided for their salvation through grace enabled faith (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-10) and provides a sufficient call to salvation to all who hear. Any freedom that man exercises redounds to the glory of God since He sovereignly created man as He did, and just as sovereignly chose to grant him to be sufficiently able to be delivered from his just dessert. Total depravity, biblically defined, does not require regeneration prior to faith. The necessity of that order is Calvinism’s embracing of compatibilism.

We simply believe that when Jesus came preaching the gospel (Mark 1:14-15) and calling on the hearers to repent and believe, that the gospel was good news to everyone because everyone to whom He spoke could be delivered from their just dessert by the grace of God. Further, that Jesus really desired them to be saved and believed they could be saved; therefore, Jesus had not helped develop a plan that excluded many hearers, which would not be good news.