Saturday, July 04, 2009

A Rebuttal to Churchwork/Parture

Note: This is my rebuttal to the response given by Churchwork/Parture from Biblocality to my defense of the doctrines of grace. Normally, I would not bother answering such posts, especially when the person in question begins to resort to attacking my character rather than my arguments. In this case, however, I am compelled to give an answer. Though I will not take the time to address every single issue, I will answer most of the key points in Parture's response. (Link to his post here.)

First off, I would like to say that I am scandalized by the presumptuous nature by which you assume that anybody who disagrees with you is automatically excluded from salvation. Do you even know who I am? If not, then you do not have any grounds to judge whether a certain brother in Christ is truly saved or not. Remember the words of the apostle Paul: Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand (Romans 14:4). I can assure you that I have truly repented of my sins. I have already come to Christ, and I have placed my faith in Him alone for my salvation. Why do you assert otherwise when you do not even know about my relationship with God? This you cannot dispute; you may only look into your own heart, so work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). I have not accused you of being unsaved or reprobate, Parture, so I would like to ask that you refrain from arrogantly assuming whether me, Aldo, Dr. White or any other brother in Christ is truly among the saved or not, as it is not your place to make that assumption.

Now, you make much of much of passages that say salvation is a free gift. And I would gladly say, "Amen to that!" Salvation is offered for free indeed. As a matter of fact, Ephesians 2:8-9 is actually one of my favourite verses in the entire bible. However, understand what the word δωρεάν, which is translated in most of our bibles as "free," does not mean unimposed, but rather undeserved. If you look at any Greek dictionary, you would know that this word means gratuitously, or without cost[1]. Our salvation is free because it costs us nothing, for God already paid that cost with His own blood (Acts 20:28).

On that note, you mention John 3:16. It is a well-loved verse, and rightly so. Yet once again, you must pay close attention to the meaning of the phrase "whosoever believes." The phrase πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων simply means "everybody who is believing." Nothing in that phrase states or even implies that everybody is capable of such belief.

Also, you complain about my quotation of Romans 11 and Israel's hearts being hardened, claiming that they chose by their own accord to stray from God's path. And yet, this again is an assumption that is not found in scripture, and is in fact contradicted by it. After all, it is not for no reason that Isaiah asks: Why, O LORD, do You cause us to stray from Your ways And harden our heart from fearing You? (Isaiah 63:17).

You also deny that those who are chosen by God for salvation have been predestined from the beginning. Once again, your statements run afoul of scripture, for those who have been saved have been chosen before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4 ff).

As for those who draw back unto perdition in Hebrews 10:39, what does this mean? It simply means that there are those who are not truly among those who are saved, and as a result of this fall away or apostatize, for they are the thorny ground that chokes out the seeds of the gospel, as Jesus Christ once said in His parable (Matthew 13:7).

Next, you speak of God's desire to save all, or the whole world. These words speak of unlimited geographic extent. This means "the world" indeed means that those who are saved come from all parts of the world. It is not intended to mean "every single individual who has ever lived without exception." In fact, this interpretation does not even originate from John Calvin, but from Saint Augustine. For example, when he comments on 1 John 2:2:

What is this, brethren? Certainly “we have found it in the fields of the woods,” we have found the Church in all nations. Behold, Christ “is the propitiation for our sins; not ours only, but also the sins of the whole world.” Behold, thou hast the Church throughout the whole world; do not follow false justifiers who in truth are cutters off. Be thou in that mountain which hath filled the whole earth: because “Christ is the propitiation for our sins; not only ours, but also the sins of the whole world,” which He hath bought with His blood. [2]

Fulgentius, the 4th century bishop of Ruspe and contemporary of Augustine, makes the same interpretation in his epistles, where he writes his commentary on 1 Timothy 2:4. When he expounds on the meaning of "all," he writes:

All those are predestined whom God desires to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. They are called ‘all’ because they are saved from both sexes, from all kinds, classes, ages and conditions of men. The will of God Almighty is always fulfilled, because his power is never defeated. [3]

And this is true. The God of the bible is not a God who tries and fails, but a God who succeeds and accomplishes what He has in His sovereignty planned out to do. Remember that sovereignty is something that from you ascribe not to the will of man which has been enslaved to sin, but to the all-knowing and all-powerful God who has planned all the days of our lives (Psalm 139:16). As it is written, our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3). See also Isaiah 46:10 and Isaiah 55:11. Unless you can provide biblical support for your idea of the sovereignty of man, my statement stands.

Finally, when I commented on your statement as being nonsensical, I never referred to salvation by faith. This we both affirm and agree on. What I disagree on is your assumption that Calvinists worship a God other than the God of the bible. Again, that is false, and you are in no position to make such a judgment on a fellow-Christian.

Understand that this is not an extreme view. I hold to this not out of arrogance or pride, but out of reverent obedience to the words of sacred scripture and to an understanding that we have received a salvation which we neither merit nor deserve, but is offered to us by His own good grace. If you dispute this, fine. But let us go about this disagreement as Christians ought to, and I hope that should you choose to respond to this, you would do so in an attitude of charity of love, which is the true Christian attitude. Of course, if you do not act in a charitable manner, don't be surprised if I refuse to respond to your brazen remarks. Until then, I pray that you have a good day.

Yours in Christ,


End Notes
1. Strong, James. Strong's Greek Dictionary. #G1432.
2. Augustine of Hippo. Homilies on the First Epistle of John.
3. Fulgentius of Ruspe. Epistles. 15:15.

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