11/2/12

Bahnsen Cubed

This is my third posting regarding the late Dr. Greg Bahnsen and his apologetic methods. In this episode, I will cover Bahnsen's argument that neutrality is not only a myth, but is downright immoral due to the presuppositions its adherents adopt. So, let us hear from Dr. Bahnsen.

"Attempting to be neutral in one's intellectual endeavors (whether research, argumentation, reasoning, or teaching) is tantamount to striving to erase the antithesis between the Christian and the unbeliever. Christ declared that the former was set apart from the latter by the truth of God's Word (John 17:17). Those who wish to gain dignity in the eyes of the world's intellectuals by wearing the badge of "neutrality" only do so at the expense of refusing to be set apart by God's truth. In the intellectual realm they are absorbed into the world so that no one could tell the difference between their thinking and assumptions and apostate thinking and assumptions. The line between believer and unbeliever is obscured.

Such indiscrimination in one's intellectual life not only precludes genuine knowledge (cf. Prov. 1:7) and guarantees vain delusion (cf. Col. 2:3-8), it is downright immoral." (Bahnsen, Always Ready, pp. 7-8)

How can the good Doctor make such a claim? I mean, don't most Christians try to find some sort of common ground with the unbeliever when speaking to them? Isn't this what we are supposed to do? Most Christians would answer this in the affirmative, seeking to find a common ground to relate to the unbeliever. But, this is precisely what not to do. "What fellowship has light with darkness?" (2Co 6:14), the Apostle Paul asks. Bahnsen continues,

"In Ephesians 4:17-18, Paul commands the followers of Christ that they "no longer walk as the Gentiles also walk, in the vanity of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance in them, because of the hardening of their heart." Christian believers must not walk, must not behave or live, in a way which imitates the behavior of those who are unredeemed; specifically, Paul forbids the Christian from imitating the unbeliever's vanity of mind. Christians must refuse to think or reason according to a worldly mind-set or outlook. The culpable agnosticism of the world's intellectuals must not be reproduced in Christians as alleged neutrality; this outlook, this approach to truth, this intellectual method evidences a darkened understanding and hardened heart. It refuses to bow to the Lordship of Jesus Christ over every area of life, including scholarship and the world of thought." (Bahnsen, Always Ready, p. 8)

Dr. Bahnsen lays it on thick here. In essence, his argumentation in this regard is very much saying "A man cannot serve two masters" (Matt 6:24). Granted, the original sermon on the mount statement made by Our Lord was in reference to God and money (or mammon), but the same principle is applicable here. The apologist cannot serve Christ in the realm of theology but adopt secular presuppositions (which cannot account for anything rational or universal) in order to find a neutral common ground with the unbeliever in the apologetics arena.

"One has to make this basic choice in his thinking: to be set apart by God's truth or to be alienated from the life of God. It cannot be two ways. One shall be set apart, set against, or alienated from either the world or the word of God. He will stand in contrast to that intellectual method which he refuses to follow. He either refuses to follow God's word or he refuses to follow the vain mind-set of the Gentiles. He distinguishes himself and his thinking either by contrast to the world or by contrast to God's word. The contrast, the antithesis, the choice is clear: either be set apart by God's truthful word or be alienated from the life of God. Either have "the mind of Christ" (1 Cor. 2:16) or the "vain mind of the Gentiles" (Eph. 4:17). Either "bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5) or continue as "enemies in your mind" (Col 1:21)." (Bahnsen, Always Ready, p. 9)

Now Dr. Bahnsen really gets rolling. His point is clear. Either a person will submit to the Lordship of Christ in all areas of their life or they will not. He continues,

"Those who follow the intellectual principle of neutrality and the epistemological method of unbelieving scholarship do not honor the sovereign Lordship of God as they should; as a result their reasoning is made vain (Rom. 1:21). In Ephesians 4, as we have seen, Paul prohibits the Christian from following this vain mind-set. Paul goes on to teach that the believer's thinking is diametrically contrary to the ignorant and darkened thinking of the Gentiles. "But you did not learn Christ after this manner!" (v. 20). While the Gentiles are ignorant, "the truth is in Jesus" (v. 21). Unlike the Gentiles who are alienated from the life of God, the Christian has put away the old man and has been "renewed in the spirit of your mind" (v. 22-23). This "new man" is distinctive in virtue of the "holiness of truth" (v. 24). The Christian is completely different from the world when it comes to intellect and scholarship; he does not follow the neutral methods of unbelief, but by God's grace he has new commandments, new presuppositions, in his thinking." (Bahnsen, Always Ready, p. 8-9)

These are cutting statements, especially in light of the fact that most professing Christians do in fact adopt the vain thinking of the Gentiles that Paul refers to in Ephesians 4. They do in fact adopt the same modus operandi as the unbeliever, seeking to prove God from secular presuppositions that in fact are an attempt to suppress the truth. So Bahnsen concludes,

"Therefore, the Christian who strives after neutrality in his thought is found actually to be endeavoring to efface the fact that he is a Christian! By denying his distinctive religious commitment he is reduced to apostate thought patterns and absorbed into the world of unbelief. Attempting to find a compromise between the demands of worldly neutrality (agnosticism) and the doctrine's of Christ's word results in the rejection of Christ's distinctive Lordship by obliterating the great gulf between the thinking of the old man and that of the new man.

No such compromise is even possible. "No man is able to serve two lords" (Matt. 6:24). It should come as no surprise that, in a world where all things have been created by Christ (Col. 1:16) and are carried along by the word of His power (Heb. 1:3) and where all knowledge is therefore deposited in Him who is The Truth (Col. 2:3; John 14:6) and who must be Lord over all thinking (2 Cor. 10:5), neutrality is nothing short of immorality. "Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God" (James 4:4)." (Bahnsen, Always Ready, p. 9)

And there we have it. A Christian who refuses to submit to the Lordship of Christ in his intellectual endeavors is someone who is as of yet holding hands with the world -and not Christ- in a very key area. Instead of proclaiming the truth in this manner, they actually end up joining the unbelieving world in suppression of the truth (Rom. 1:18-23). Sadly, most apologists do indeed adopt this line of thinking when it comes to apologetics in an attempt to speak from a neutral (read: worldly, agnostic) position in an effort to prove God, never stopping to think that nothing can be proved apart from God, since the absence of God destroys the presence of certainty (e.g. absolute truth). Without the Christian God, we cannot know anything and cannot prove anything, for there is no basis for anything abstract, universal, or uniform (uniformity of nature) in a universe apart from the Christian God.

11/1/12

The Evangelical Obsession With Satan

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. ~1 Peter 5:8

In addition to the excellent book on apologetics I have been reading, authored by Dr. Greg Bahnsen, I have also had my nose in another book written by John MacArthur entitled Our Sufficiency in Christ. In it, he exposes the modern day obsession of Christians with Satan. His analysis, in my judgment, is spot on.

MacArthur opines, "I am amazed at the number of Christians being drawn into the burgeoning "spiritual warfare" movement. I am convinced it represents an unhealthy obsession with Satan and demonic powers. Judging from the turnouts, thousands of Christians really believe that if they don't attend a spiritual warfare boot camp and learn some strategy for fighting demons, Satan will have them for breakfast." (MacArthur, Our Sufficiency in Christ, p. 214)

Now take careful note what MacArthur is and is not saying. He is saying that he believes that this participation in the spiritual warfare movement is unhealthy and represents a foolish obsession with Satan within the Christian community. He is not saying that spiritual warfare is a fiction and does not exist.

He continues: "Is that true? Is there some secret strategy to be learned from "experts" in the art of spiritual warfare? Do Christians need to study mystic teachings for confronting and commanding evil forces, "binding" the devil, "breaking the strongholds" of territorial demons, and other complex strategems of metaphysical combat? Is it simplistic to think that the basic armor described in Ephesians 6 is sufficient to keep us from being breakfast for Satan?" (MacArthur, Our Sufficiency in Christ, p. 215)

The short answer is, why do we need to be trained by certain incantations to get rid of Satan? I will also propose another idea that needs to be considered. Is Satan omnipresent like God? That is, is Satan available to be everywhere all at once? If so, then many evangelicals may be right, Satan attacks them all the time. However, what Scripture do we have that supports this idea? Simply put, we have none. Scripture never tells us that Satan is omnipresent. It does tell us, however, that God is. My conclusion is that yes, Satan does go after the saints, but not all at once at the same time.

MacArthur continues, "Absolutely not. One of the glorious truths of our sufficiency in Christ is that we are alredy more than conquerors in the great cosmic spiritual warfare (Rom. 8:37). Satan is already a defeated foe (Col. 2:15, 1 Pet 3:22)."  (MacArthur, Our Sufficiency in Christ, p. 215)

Why then are we so obsessed with Satan? Is he our enemy? Yes, absolutely. Are we supposed to seek him out and defeat him? Nope. In fact, Christ already defeated him via his work. Let us see what the Scriptures have to say about this topic.

Colossians 2:15: He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Matthew 12:25-29: Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can someone enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.

In fact, I would argue strongly that Christ already has bound Satan. That does not mean that Satan doesn't exist or that Satan doesn't stir up strife or attack the saints. But it does mean that Christ, through His work, has defeated him already. The idea that God is trying really hard to defeat Satan and He needs our help to do it is absurd. Satan is already defeated. He is already bound. He has not once been able to rally the whole world together to make war against the saints since the work of Christ was completed at Calvary.

MacArthur continues, "Certainly we are involved in an ongoing "struggle...against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12). But Christ is already the Victor in this spiritual war. When the apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian Christians, he was not suggesting that they view their conflict with the powers of darkness as a battle whose outcome still hung in the balance. He was telling them they needed to "be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might" (v. 10); to "stand firm" (vv. 11, 13); to use the spiritual armor - truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and God's Word - to resist the schemes of the devil. They were to fight from a position of victory, not out of fear that Satan might make them toast." (MacArthur, Our Sufficiency in Christ, p. 215)

How different this is than what is commonly portrayed and practiced today!

"Nor was the apostle suggesting that the church should infiltrate confrontations with evil principalities and powers. There's no need for Christians to seek to engage Satan in combat. Nowhere in Scripture are we ever encouraged to do so. On the contrary, we are to "be of sober spirit, [and] be on the alert," for he (Satan) prowls around like a roaring, devouring lion (1 Pet 5:8). After all, who is after whom?" (MacArthur, Our Sufficiency in Christ, p. 215-216)

Excellent insight here from MacArthur. We are never commanded to seek out Satan and engage him. Why would a Christian ever want to do that? I'll let MacArthur have the final word.

"Since Satan is pursuing us, how do we keep from becoming instant breakfast? Certainly not by chasing after him, hunting him down, attempting to bind him, commanding him, or rebuking him with some incantation. We simply "resist the devil and he will flee" (James 4:7). Why? Because the One who indwells every believer is greater than the devil (1 John 4:4) - and all the powers of hell know it (Matt 8:28-32).


That a movement so obsessed with Satan and his minions could suddenly gain popularity among Bible-believing Christians is proof of the influence mysticism has had in the church. Many of the tactics these self-styled experts in spiritual warfare are advocating have no Scriptural warrant whatsoever. They are the fruit of mysticism run amok. Those who advocate them speak as if they had great authority, but the truth is you won't find biblical support for most of the techniques they recommend. Where does Scripture indicate, for example, that Christians should band together to wage prayer wars against crime and traffic jams or exorcise phenomena like the Bermuda Triangle?

Worst of all, such teaching actually encourages Christians to dabble in demonic affaris or to live in fear and superstition. That is exactly contrary to God's design. We are to equip ourselves for spiritual warfare by becoming experts in righteousness, not by focusing our thoughts and energies on the enemy and fearing his power (Phil 4:8, Rom 16:19).

To put it another way, our sufficiency in Christ fits us for the battle. The spiritual resources we gain in Him are sufficient to sustain us in the face of the enemy - apart from any maneuvers that might be learned in some spiritual warfare seminar. "We are not ignorant of his schemes" (2Cor 2:11); we have a greater power indwelling us (1 John 4:4); and we have God's own promise of absolute security in Christ (Rom 8:38-39)." (MacArthur, Our Sufficiency in Christ, p. 216-217)

Indeed, it is Christ alone who has won the victory over Satan, sin, and death. Only in Him - and not by seeking out Satan and engaging Him - are we victorious. Precisely because He alone is the Victor. It's not "me and God against the devil." Satan is not sovereign, God is. Christ alone has already won.

10/31/12

More Bahnsen on Apologetics

Here Bahnsen continues to defend his presuppositional method on the basis that the non-presuppositional method of apologetics is not only immoral, but in fact attempts to use a lie to defend the truth! He also argues for the foolishness of supposed autonomy in reasoning by the apologist. That would be an adoption of a secular methodology in order to try to defend the truth. So, here is Bahnsen again. He says it better than I.

"Apologists are prohibited from using a non-presuppositional method in defending the faith under the excuse that thereby truth might abound. The obedient Christian does not lay aside the authority of Christ in the realm in order to argue on the basis of autonomous "scholarship." To do so would be to operate with a lie (namely, the Satanic lie that knowledge can be determined apart from God: Gen 3:5; cf. Rom 1:25) in order to defend the truth! The faithful witness to Christ will not behave as an unbeliever (debying Christ's Lordship) in order to make him a believer.

Evil men cannot speak good things (Matt 12:34); the evil treasure of the unbeliever's thought is where his heart is (Matt 6:21; Luke 6:45), from which proceeds evil, deceitful, foolish thoughts (Matt 15:18-19; Rom 1:21; Jer 17:9). Hence his tongue is full of iniquity and an unruly evil (James 3:5-8); with it he uses deadly deceit (Rom 3:13-14). He thinks that he alone is lord over the use of his lips (Ps 12:4), leading him to speak falsehood (v. 2). Obviously then, the apologist must not think and speak after the manner of the unbeliever. Instead his thoughts and words must be rooted in God's Word which is pure and eternally valuable (Ps. 12:6-7). It is this word which alone stops every mouth (Rom 3:19) and leaves men speechless (e.g. Job 40:4). We must guard the apostolic deposit (Scripture) by turning away from the vain claims of pseudo-knowledge (1Tim 6:3-5, 20; cf. 2Tim 2:14-18). Before God and His Word all the world must be silent (Isa 6:5; Dan 10:15; Hab 2:20; Zeph 1:7; Zech 2:13). We, then, must rely upon God and not our own wisdom (Isa 50:4-9); only then will we see apologetic success as He enables us not to be confounded and makes none able to contend with our message (Isa 50:4-9). Therefore, we conclude that the apologist must be transformed by a renewed mind and not fashion his thinking according to the world (Rom 12:2). He must not lie or abandon God's presupposed truth in order to bring acceptance of that truth by evil speakers." (Bahnsen, Always Ready, pp. 101-102)

In short, the Christian apologist must not borrow from and think in the same manner as the secular worldview, which is hostile to his own. To do so would be to use a lie to try to defend the truth and presuppose the same exact presuppositions as the unbeliever. Sadly, this method is used more often than not in Christian apologetics.

10/30/12

Bahnsen on Apologists

I've been reading an apologetics book by Greg Bahnsen lately entitled "Always Ready." Of course, Bahnsen was a presuppositionalist in his apologetics (contra W. L. Craig, Ravi Zacharias, R. C. Sproul, et al). I am convinced that the presuppositional method of apologetics is the most God-honoring method of apologetics. While I utterly respect and admire the apologetics of the aforementioned men, I think they leave a lot on the table in some areas, and even concede to worldviews that are hostile to their own in the process. Here is an excerpt from the book. Bahnsen is commenting on apologetic method in general.

"A source of great disappointment to the Christian scholar in the present day is the refusal of many apologists to reckon with certain hard but indisputable facts taught in God's Word. The impression is often given that these men as theologians want to admit what Scripture says about the nature of fallen and the utmost and necessary authority of God's revelation in any field of knowledge; however, as apologists they want to act in oblivion or temporary suppression of these truths. Such duplicity is dishonoring to the Christian's calling.

Saving faith cannot be grounded in human wisdom or seular presuppositions: it must be generated in the power of God (1Co 2:4-5). Accordingly the apologist does not speak the wisdom of this world (which is brought to nothing) but the wisdom of God (1Co 2:6-7). Recognition of Christ as the wisdom of God stems not from presuppositions which deny, ignore, or undermine this fact; instead, such recognition results from the inward work of the Holy Spirit (1Co 2:10) Who alone can enable us to gain a knowledge of the things of God (v. 12). Because only the Spirit of God knows these things (v. 11), the Christian does not speak or rely upon autonomous philosophy, history, or science as the world teaches (v. 13). To follow secular presuppositions incapacitates one from discerning the truth about God (v. 14), for they can be understood only by the enlightenment of the Spirit (vv. 15-16). The pseudo-wisdom of the world, then, is most unsuitable as a foundation or standard for the defender of Christian faith; it cannot improve upon the mind of the Lord (v. 16) but instead leads one inevitably to challenge the truth of God's revelation. Apologetic success is precluded, then, by dependence upon or catering to unauthoritative human foolishness which is unalterably inclined to crucify the Lord of glory rather than bowing before His sovereign demands (cf. v8)." (Bahnsen, Always Ready, pp. 99-100)

9/12/12

How Serious is it to get Original Sin and the Fall of Man Correct? Deathly Serious.


I’ve been aware that there has always been a group of persons claiming the name of Christ who deny original sin and the fall of man. It's not like these ideas are new. What I was unaware of is just how openly prevalent it is now days. I’ve run into many of these folks online lately, so I am compelled to speak about this topic. The more I think about the topic, the bigger of a deal it clearly becomes. Not that it’s becoming any worse than it already is, but you see quite clearly what other foolish stances people derive from this denial of these core Christian doctrines.

If I can see OK, what I have been seeing lately is that a denial of original sin and the fall of man results in an entire superstructure of theology that is completely wrong and unbiblical. For the sake of ease here, I will stick to the core belief superstructure at the root of this denial: Pelagianism.

Pelagianism basically can be summed up in six points. Here they are.

1.       Even if Adam had not sinned, he would have died.

2.       Adam's sin harmed only himself, not the human race.

3.       Children just born are in the same state as Adam before his fall.

4.       The whole human race neither dies through Adam's sin or death, nor rises again through the resurrection of Christ.

5.       The Mosaic Law is as good a guide to heaven as the Gospel.

6.       Even before the advent of Christ there were men who were without sin.

These were the six main ideas espoused by Pelagius, a 5th century English monk, and his close associate, Caelestius. Now, when we look at them as a whole, they all make sense within the framework of Pelagian theology. Namely, if we deny original sin and the fall, they fit together.

#1: Even if Adam had not sinned, he would have died.

This assertion disregards the integrity of the original creation. God said it was good, but He created Adam in a body of death anyways. Scripture tells us that death itself is part of the curse that was rendered to the whole creation as a result of Adam’s sin.

Yet this assertion makes sense within Pelagianism due to the fact that Pelagians deny that the fall of man affected everyone else post-Adam. Why? It’s based on evidence of the fact that everyone post-Adam has died (save for Enoch and Elijah). Thus, death cannot be a result of sin, since that would mean that there would be zero people who have ever lived perfectly and never sinned. Thus, Adam had to be mortal pre-fall to account not only for sinless living, but also to account for the fact that infants and small children, who are not sinners, die all the time. So, this makes sense in Pelagianism because death cannot be the result of sin, since Adam’s sin does not apply to anyone other than Adam, and people who are innocent die all the time.

#2: Adam's sin harmed only himself, not the human race.

This is explained mainly in the last point, but again, within Pelagianism, this makes perfect sense. This is in essence a denial of the Christian doctrine of the fall of man. Adam had his own fall, which began a process of spiritual dying (but not physical, because that has nothing to do with sin). Likewise, we all have our own personal falls that starts our own process of dying spiritually. But we certainly are not sinners by nature, we’re only sinners after we choose to sin.

#3: Children just born are in the same state as Adam before his fall.

Here is the blatant and outright denial of the doctrine of original sin. Not much else needs to be said here, but this ties in directly with the first two.

#4: The whole human race neither dies through Adam's sin or death, nor rises again through the resurrection of Christ.

I will allow Pelagian writer Lewis Loflin to answer this one: “This is the real reason why Christianity needs the Original Sin doctrine. If Original Sin is false as the Old Testament shows and there are clearly men who overcame sin without faith in Jesus, then by our own efforts we can achieve this task. Thus we don't need Christianity, its institutions, and leaders to control our lives. One is Jesus' own relatives prior to His birth.”

In short, we don’t need Christ to save us. We enter into life by keeping the commandments. Loflin also accuses the apostle Paul of inventing the “inherited sin” doctrine. In short, Paul is wrong, in his view. He also denies the bodily resurrection, saying: “Adam was expelled from the Garden for the express purpose he would not be made immortal. It seems God never intended humans to be immortal, which throws any idea of life after death (bodily resurrection) into question. Pelagius was right on this count.”

Pretty much (in his view) everything Paul said was wrong and was nothing more than a perversion of the Old Testament.

#5: The Mosaic Law is as good a guide to heaven as the Gospel.

Of course it would be, because we are capable of keeping it perfectly in Pelagian theology. Thus, there is no need for Christ unless you first go and screw it up by sinning and then after you sin, you still retain all that natural and moral ability to throw yourself on Christ for forgiveness. This is a denial of the Gospel. It opens up an additional way of salvation.

#6: Even before the advent of Christ there were men who were without sin.

Pelagians will quote a couple Old Testament references to try to prove this, but none of the references they quote say anything of the sort. Numbers 14:24 is invoked, which says “But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.” Next up is 2 Kings 22:2: “And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.” This one is speaking of King Josiah. The Pelagians will even go as far as to say that Abraham was sinless pre-Christ because God called Abraham His friend (Isa 41:8) and Daniel “beloved” (Dan 9:23, 10:11)

So those are the six major points in Pelagian theology. Zero of them are historically Christian and zero of them get the human condition, or God, correct. In short, the Pelagians, just like any other false religion, wrest passages everywhere from their context, force them to mean more than they are actually saying, or make them mean something they aren’t saying at all.

Regarding the Apostle Paul’s writings, I have seen Pelagians take two approaches. One approach is the one Loflin takes; to say that Paul was just dead wrong. Loflin sees, then, that Paul does teach original sin and the fall of man. The other approach, which is more common, is to try to reinterpret Paul to fit with Pelagianism. I’ve seen a couple efforts in this regard and it just doesn’t work.

Here is a sampling of what some councils and confessions have said about Pelagianism over the years.

Council of Carthage (418 AD)
That whosoever says that Adam, the first man, was created mortal, so that whether he had sinned or not, he would have died in body—that is, he would have gone forth of the body, not because his sin merited this, but by natural necessity, let him be anathema. (Canon 1)

Council of Orange (529 AD)

If anyone denies that it is the whole man, that is, both body and soul, that was "changed for the worse" through the offense of Adam's sin, but believes that the freedom of the soul remains unimpaired and that only the body is subject to corruption, he is deceived by the error of Pelagius and contradicts the scripture which says, "The soul that sins shall die" (Ezek. 18:20); and, "Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are the slaves of the one whom you obey?" (Rom. 6:16); and, "For whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved" (2 Pet. 2:19). (Canon 1)

If anyone asserts that Adam's sin affected him alone and not his descendants also, or at least if he declares that it is only the death of the body which is the punishment for sin, and not also that sin, which is the death of the soul, passed through one man to the whole human race, he does injustice to God and contradicts the Apostle, who says, "Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned" (Rom. 5:12). (Canon 2)

And thus according to the passages of holy scripture quoted above or the interpretations of the ancient Fathers we must, under the blessing of God, preach and believe as follows. The sin of the first man has so impaired and weakened free will that no one thereafter can either love God as he ought or believe in God or do good for God's sake, unless the grace of divine mercy has preceded him. (Conclusion)

Augsburg Confession (Lutheran 1530 AD)

Our churches condemn the followers of Pelagius and all others who deny that original sin is truly sin. Such people argue that humans can be justified before God by their own strength and reason. This lessens the glory of Christ’s work and its benefits. (Art 2, 3)

We condemn the Pelagians and all others who teach that without the Holy Spirit, by the power of human nature alone, we are able to love God above all things. Or that by our own power we can do the commandments of God according to the substance of the act. (Art 18, 8)

Belgic Confession (Reformed 1561 AD)

We believe that by the disobedience of Adam original sin has been spread through the whole human race.

It is a corruption of all nature-- an inherited depravity which even infects small infants in their mother's womb, and the root which produces in man every sort of sin. It is therefore so vile and enormous in God's sight that it is enough to condemn the human race, and it is not abolished or wholly uprooted even by baptism, seeing that sin constantly boils forth as though from a contaminated spring.

Nevertheless, it is not imputed to God's children for their condemnation but is forgiven by his grace and mercy-- not to put them to sleep but so that the awareness of this corruption might often make believers groan as they long to be set free from the "body of this death." (Rom 7:24)

Therefore we reject the error of the Pelagians who say that this sin is nothing else than a matter of imitation.

Canons of Dort (Reformed 1618-19 AD)

Who teach that in election to faith a prerequisite condition is that man should rightly use the light of nature, be upright, unassuming, humble, and disposed to eternal life, as though election depended to some extent on these factors.

For this smacks of Pelagius, and it clearly calls into question the words of the apostle: We lived at one time in the passions of our flesh, following the will of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in transgressions, made us alive with Christ, by whose grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with him and seated us with him in heaven in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages we might show the surpassing riches of his grace, according to his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith (and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God) not by works, so that no one can boast (Eph. 2:3-9).

So how serious are the denials of original sin and the fall of man? Deathly serious. Serious to the point where the followers of such grievous errors are preachers of another Gospel and peddlers of something far outside of Christianity. When these core doctrines are incorrect, an entire superstructure of false theology slides in to take the place of the Scriptural report, as we have seen above. Getting the beginning wrong, the rest falls like dominoes in a row, and you end up getting everything wrong. And it amounts to an outright denial of Christianity.

 

8/24/12

The Near Misses - Listing #32 - #26 On My Jersey List


So here we go. These are all of my jerseys that were very close to making the cut of the top 25. I have listed all of those that are within 2 points. Here are all the 78s and 79s in my collection, in reverse order - 32 up to 26.

#32: Philadelphia Flyers White Reebok Premier Winter Classic Jersey

Jersey Type: 17. It’s a Reebok premier, so this one is set in stone.

Jersey Condition: 19. I’ve only worn this pristine jersey a couple times. It looks new.

Logos: 17. I do like the Flyers logo and scheme, but it can’t go higher than 17 here, as there are numerous ones I like better and rank higher. Yet, a 17 is a good score.

Personalization: 0. Well, it’s a blank, what can I say? Now, if I were to personalize this jersey with a fair to decent player, it would be knocking on the door of the top 10. If I were to personalize it with a really good player, it leaps into my top 10 - as it should. Imagine a Chris Pronger on the back of this jersey. That would be a solid 8 and put it at an 86. That would put it at #6 on my list. But for now, it remains blank.

Color Scheme: 8. I like the orange, white, and black color scheme they have going in Philadelphia, and I especially like that they are making more use of the orange these days. Orange, black, and white isn’t the best though, in my opinion, so it gets an 8.

Tradition/History/Longevity/Rarity: 17. It’s a classic team, but not original 6. That being said, it has to get an extra point or two here simply for being a Winter Classic jersey, even though the Flyers immediately made this jersey their standard road jersey in the years following the Classic in Boston.

Total Score: 78

#31: New York Islanders White CCM 4 Hamrlik Jersey

Jersey Type: 15. It’s a CCM replica. Enough said.

Jersey Condition: 18. It’s in really good shape, but I bought it used and it’s been worn a few times. Overall though, no flaws, so 18 seems right here.

Logos: 16. I like the Islanders logo and scheme (other than the orange thing they trotted out in the mid 2000s). It’s not great, but it’s still a pretty decent logo and scheme. I like the Flyers logo slightly more, so 16 here for the Isles. They also have some interesting shoulder patches on these jerseys. It’s like an orange and blue bar code. Different, to be sure, but it works.

Personalization: 6. Roman Hamrlik has been around forever it seems. He’s a good solid defensive defenseman. A 6 might be a small slight here, but he’s definitely not more than a 7 here. I went with 6, since he’s certainly above average. Anyone that stays in the league that long has to be.

Color Scheme: 8. Pretty much similar to the Flyers. Orange, white, and navy blue this time. Not too bad, but not the best either. They do well with it on their white jerseys - and their home blues.

Tradition/History/Longevity/Rarity: 15. The Islanders aren’t an original 6 team, but they’ve been around for some time and had a sweet run of Stanley Cups back in the early 80s before Gretzky, Messier, and Coffey and the Edmonton Oilers took over. 15 works here for me. It’s not a rare jersey by any stretch and the tradition, history, and longevity don’t rival some other teams.

Total Score: 78

#30: Detroit Red Wings Red CCM Home Jersey

Jersey Type: 15. A standard CCM replica. Nice jersey.

Jersey Condition: 19. This one is in great shape. It looks new.

Logos: 18. I like the Winged Wheel. Hate the team, but that’s irrelevant. I’m trying really hard to be objective here! It’s a good classic Original 6 logo with staying power. One of the best in the league.

Personalization: 0. As we speak I’m getting this one personalized with a 24 Probert. He’s gotta be worth 8, as he is the best goon in NHL history. Not a Hall of Famer though, so I can’t go more than 8. This jersey rockets way up the list with the personalization.

Color Scheme: 9. Well done. Really well done. They do the 2 color look just about as good as you can in Detroit.

Tradition/History/Longevity/Rarity: 17. Original 6 home and away jerseys get a standard 17 in this category. This one is no different. Slap a Probert on the back and give it 8 more points and this guy shoots up into the top 10. I am anxiously awaiting the completion of it. If I went with Yzerman, Gordie Howe, or Nick Lidstrom I would have to add 10. I just wanted a Probert. How can you not?

Total Score: 78

#29: Vancouver Canucks Blue CCM Vintage Stick and Rink Jersey

Jersey Type: 17. CCM Vintages get 17 here. They’re a good heavy jersey; well made.

Jersey Condition: 18. I got it new and have worn it a fair amount. It has no major flaws - it’s just been worn a fair amount.

Logos: 17. I like the old simplicity of this logo. It’s not top notch, but it’s pretty darn good. 17 is a good number here.

Personalization: 0. It’s blank, so it gets el zippo. Bruce has this same jersey with Luongo on it. I can’t imagine that one not hitting his top 20, but we shall see.

Color Scheme: 8. I like it of course, but on the other hand, blue, green, and white isn’t the greatest combination. Thankfully, they minimized the green on this jersey (not a fan of blue and green combo) and ended up with a jersey that is a majority dark blue with white. 8 is right here.

Tradition/History/Longevity/Rarity: 18. This one has to get a high score, it’s a throwback jersey, although the Canucks recently trotted out a similar version of this jersey as their alternate jersey. By no means can this score perfectly, but I’m certainly not afraid to slap a big number on it here. And I did.

Total Score: 78

#28: Montreal Canadiens White Reebok Premier Away Jersey

Jersey Type: 17.It’s a Premier, so 17 is the set in stone score here.

Jersey Condition: 17. I got this brand new and it now has some light staining on it. For some reason, white Reebok premiers tend to pick up dust and stains like it is their job. Other than that, this one is pristine. I need to give it a good cleaning and see if the score here cannot go up. If it does, this jersey is in the top 25.

Logos: 19. Anyone that argues that the Canadiens C with the H is not one of the best logos in the NHL needs to have their head examined. I don’t think it’s the absolute best logo in the league (Bruce, I think, does), but it’s definitely top 3 in my book. 19 all day on this one.
 
Personalization: 0. I really should slap a player on this one and disrupt my top 10.

Color Scheme: 9. I’d give it a 10, but I can’t, since I am of the firm opinion that the Canadiens look better with the horizontal striping around the jersey (like on their home reds). So, 9 it gets. The red, white, and blue works. That’s probably why it’s a common scheme in the NHL.

Tradition/History/Longevity/Rarity: 17. I gave all the Original 6 standard jerseys a 17 here for consistency. The only thing they aren’t is rare, but the tradition and longevity for them are unrivaled.

Total Score: 79

#27: Chicago Blackhawks Black Pro Player Mid 2000s Alternate

Jersey Type: 16. This is one of those heavyweight Pro Player jerseys that I love. 16 is the number that Bruce and I agreed upon for the Pro Player.

Jersey Condition: 18. I got it used, but there really isn’t a thing wrong with it. It’s just been worn. Love this jersey. Did I mention I am a Blackhawks fan?

Logos: 19. I would give it a 20, but I won’t. I think the two best logos in the NHL are the Indianhead of the Chicago Blackhawks and the Maple Leaf in Toronto. The only thing holding me back from slapping a 20 on this one is that I think the Hawks logos look best on red or white. Those two jerseys both got 20s in this category.

Personalization: 0. Sadly, this one is blank. It would be sweet with Patrick Sharp and the assistant captain’s A on it, right?

Color Scheme: 9. I love the Hawks color scheme. The way they use it is done to perfection. However, the red and white versions of this jersey are better than the black one. Thus, this gets a 9.

Tradition/History/Longevity/Rarity: 17. It’s an Original 6 alternate jersey that looks exactly like the regular jerseys. Easy 17 here. I’m interested to see where Bruce’s black jersey here lands. He’s got it personalized with the captain, Jonathan Toews.
 
Total Score: 79

#26: San Jose Sharks White Reebok Premier 14 Cheechoo Jersey

Jersey Type: 17. Reebok Premiers score 17.

Jersey Condition: 19. This one is in great shape. I got it brand new and have only sported it 5 or 6 times. It’s essentially new.

Logos: 16. The Sharks logo is OK. It’s actually pretty good, but it’s not top of the line as far as NHL logos go. So, a 16 seems right here.

Personalization: 7. Jonathan Cheechoo would get a 5 or a 6 from me here if it weren’t for one season where he potted 50 goals. The 50 goal season is enough to bring him up to a 7. Other than that one season, he didn’t do much.

Color Scheme: 7. It’s not a bad color scheme, but the addition of the golden orange-ish color as a highlight brings the scheme down a point in my book. My favorite Sharks jerseys ever are the original ones they skated with back in the 90s. Don’t get me wrong, the golden orange-ish highlight actually works with this jersey. But it’s not the greatest color scheme in the world. 7 is OK.

Tradition/History/Longevity/Rarity: 13. It’s the Sharks. First of all, the franchise is what, 20 years old or so? Secondly, what have they done? They’ve went on a run of playoff appearances, but they’ve garnered a high seed and choked more often than not. I love this jersey. It’s sharp looking and personalized, but it’s a near miss to the top 25.

Total Score: 79

Those are all of the near misses. All of them are excellent jerseys in their own right and many would surely vault up the rankings if they were personalized. Time will tell on the final rankings of these jerseys.

8/23/12

Hockey Jerseys! How I Rank Them


One of my favorite hobbies, as well as pastimes, is the sport of hockey. I never actually played organized hockey, but we played a lot of local ice rink hockey and pond hockey growing up. But I’ve always been a fan of the sport. What better trophy is there in sports than the Stanley Cup? What other sport openly allows players to police themselves with legal fighting within the game? A buddy of mine and myself are going to stack up our top 25 jerseys against each other and see where they come out. It should be a pretty close race. This first post is going to lay out my rating scale for jerseys and give you an example of how I would rate a jersey.

My rating scale is a numerical value assigned to 6 different categories that add up to an aggregate score of 100 points that I deem to be important in the worth of a hockey jersey. Without further adieu, here is my rating scale I have concocted.

Category #1: Jersey Type: 15 Points

As you know, there are many clothing manufacturers and not all of them are the same quality. The same is true for hockey jerseys. Here are my rankings.

To score a perfect 15 in this category, a jersey must be an on the ice authentic. Sadly, I don’t own any of these, and Bruce I believe has only one. Thankfully, there are some pretty high quality replica jerseys out there. Jerseys that would score a perfect 15 in this category are the current NHL on-ice jersey the Reebok Edge, as well as older on-ice versions, such as a CCM Ultrafil, CCM Authentic, or Koho Authentic. These jerseys are the highest quality and almost always come with a fight strap.

The next rung down the ladder are the top notch replica jerseys. The current Reebok Premier is a good one. I have a bunch of these as will be shown when I reveal my ranking list. I also assign CCM Vintage jerseys, CCM/Reebok replicas (that’s one jersey they made for a short time when the NHL was transitioning from CCM to Reebok), and the excellent heavy duty Koho replicas with the vented sides. Jerseys in this category are not authentic, but they’re good. I also chuck in good old replica CCM jerseys and pro player jerseys here. I give jerseys in this category 13 points a piece - only a 2 point deduction.

I slot the overseas CCM jerseys in a 12 point category along with the good knock-off jerseys.

I assign 11 for Maskas and 10 for Starters. Both are lesser quality.

I also reserve another category for other jerseys made by other companies. I have a Finland national jersey made by who knows who. So, I assign a numerical value based on its quality.

Category #2: Jersey Condition: 15 Points

The condition a jersey is in is a big deal.  I leave a little room for subjective play in this category, but not much. If a jersey is brand new with the tags still on it, it gets a 15. And that is the only way it gets a 15. Since I wear my jerseys (yes, all of them), I only have one of these right now. 

If a jersey is in pristine condition and is mint, I give it 13-14 points, depending on just how flawless the jersey is. These jerseys will have no noticeable flaws and will, for all intents and purposes, look pretty much new.

If it is in good to very good condition, I’ll slap it with 11-12 points. The jerseys here might be just worn from age or have some minor blemishes, but nothing major. They’re in nearly excellent condition and to the untrained eye, not viewing the jerseys up close, they will appear to be nearly new.

If a jersey is in OK condition with some blemishes, I’ll give it 8-10. If it has some noticeable flaws, it scores 5-7 in the fair range. It takes a pure rag to score between 1-4 in the poor range. I have a couple of these, but rest assured, they’re nowhere near my top 50.

Category #3: Logos/Layout/Scheme: 20 Points

This is where it starts getting subjective. In this category I look at how the logos used on the jersey, including front patch, shoulder patches, and other “special” patches, and how they work with the jersey. I score them based on the logo itself as well as how it works with the overall layout of the jersey. Essentially I take the entire collection of patches on the jersey and grade them as a whole. I don’t dock points from a jersey for having only one patch (the Montreal Canadiens normal home and away jerseys have only one, for instance), but I may add points to a weaker jersey if it has some sort of special patch(s) on the sleeves or chest.

This tends to get subjective because there are certain logos and patches I like a heck of a lot more than others. I tend to favor simplicity, although I’m biased towards traditional logos and such. Original six teams get a high nod from me. I love the Chicago Blackhawks, Montreal Canadiens, and Toronto Maple Leafs logos and layouts - and even the Detroit Red Wings (even though I despise the Red Wings). If you want a non original six team that I like regarding their logo, look no further than the Calgary Flames. I think the Flames have put out some excellent jerseys over the years. I can’t stand the new metallic arena football looking jerseys with gaudy logos. I don’t like the logos of the Nashville Predators or Carolina Hurricanes.

I put a big number on this too, because with hockey jerseys, looks are important.

Category #4: Personalization: 10 Points

Of course, the majority of my jerseys are not personalized and have no name or number on them. They will score a 0 in this category. I didn’t want to put too big of a number on this category, since it could then skew the rankings too much for my liking. For instance, I could have a personalized jersey of the Carolina Hurricanes or something (I don’t) end up being ranked higher than a sharp looking Winter Classic jersey with no name or number on the back. But in this system with a low number on personalization, that won’t happen.
 
So how do I score this? Fairly simple, really. If the player on the back is a Hall of Famer or an All-Time Great, the jersey will get a 9 or a 10. A jersey with Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux is an obvious 10. I’ll give a 9 to other Hall of Fame players who are not in the Gretzky/Lemieux class.

A current NHL star or excellent player will get a 7 or 8 from me in this category. Not only do I take into consideration how talented the player is, but also if they’ve won the Cup, performed in the playoffs on a high level, and things like that. I may make an exception for a player that has been playing for many years in the league and is still playing - but only if that player is a slam dunk Hall of Famer. I may give that one a 9. For example, I have a Capitals Alex Ovechkin jersey. By anyone’s standards, love him or hate him, he’s a superstar in the league now. He gets an 8. I also have an old Canucks alternate jersey with Todd Bertuzzi on it. Bertuzzi is a good player, but he’s an example of a 7 for personalization.

A good NHL player who is average to above average past or present gets a 5 or 6 here, while a common player will get a 3 or 4. I have a penguins Winter Classic jersey with Max Talbot on the back. Even though Talbot has some serious sentimental value for me (he scored 2 goals in game 7 at Detroit in the Cup finals and the Pens beat the Wings 2-1), he still gets a 5. He’s a 3rd line player who has never been considered to be a star in the league.

Personalization is important and really completes a jersey, but that does not mean that there will be no blank jerseys (logos and patches but no name and number) in my top 25. A hockey jersey collection is an evolving process and list, but at last count, 7 of my top 25 jerseys are not personalized, although if I did get any of them personalized, it would blow up my top 10 (there is only one blank in my top 10. The first blank jersey makes an appearance in the #7 spot). The blank jerseys that hit the top 25 are excellent jerseys that will be awesome when a name and number are added.

Category #5: Color Scheme: 10 Points

This is quite subjective too, which is why I only slap a maximum of 10 points on this category. Simply put, I take into account not only the colors on the jersey, but also how they use them. For instance, the New York Islanders skate out with blue, orange, and white more or less. That’s a decent color combination, but I prefer the blue home and white road jersey over the orange alternate they trotted out not so long ago. Simplicity and classic color schemes trump some of the newer gaudy foolishness that some teams have resorted to.

Category #6: Tradition/History/Longevity/Rarity: 20 Points

This is the category that separates the best from the best. I take into account the tradition of the jersey here, so I’ll be more apt to score the blue and orange Oilers jersey higher than the navy and copper one they wore for around a decade. I’ll also take into consideration if the team hoisted the Stanley Cup in that jersey, had winning seasons, or were perennial contenders. The history and longevity of the jersey counts here too. Has the jersey been around for 50 years or 2?

Finally, I take into account the rarity of the jersey. If I were ever to get a hold of a Cleveland Barons jersey, that would be super rare. I won’t deduct points for a jersey not being rare if it scores well in the other criteria in this category, but I will add some points to a jersey that scores poorly in the other criteria if it is rare and tough to get your hands on.

Category #7: Wearability: 10 Points

This is a catch-all category. how does the jersey look on? How does it feel?

8/9/12

Lookin' Through the Corridor of Time - Or Not

Without question, one of the biggest battleground texts in the entire Bible between predestinarians and non-predestinarians is Romans 8:29-30. What does this passage teach? Does it teach that God looked through time and then predestined certain individuals based on what he foresaw? Or does it teach that God chose to know certain individuals in a salvific sense and thus predestined them based upon His choosing to know them relationally? There is also a third (albeit rare) interpretation of the passage that holds that the passage is talking only about those whom had lived and subsequently died in Christ before the epistle to the Romans was written. For sake of brevity, I will only be treating the two major interpretations, since the third also defaults to something very similar to the advance prescience view. Does the passage teach an advance prescience of God, who looks through time and then predestines based on what He has seen and infallibly knows? Or does it teach sovereign election here?

The text in question reads, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” -Romans 8:29-30 (ESV)

The battle is fought mainly around the word “foreknew.” This word by itself in our English translations of Scripture can easily be interpreted in either manner to support either interpretation. The problem is that in English we have the words “know” and “knew,” and these words can mean both “head knowledge” as well as “intimate relational knowledge” as well as “personal knowledge.” So the word can be used, and indeed is used, to mean “have knowledge of” as well as “to know relationally” or “to love intimately.” Scripture uses the latter quite liberally. Matthew 7:23 where Jesus says “I never knew you,” is a prime example. It is only when we look at a) what the Greek language states in the original writing, and b) the rest of the passage, does the proper interpretation come to light.

First, if we look at the Greek here, we see that every action word that Paul uses here is what is called an aorist active indicative. In English terms, these are active verbs that occurred in the past that have a permanent significance. Simply put, God is the active agent here and the words foreknew, predestined, called, justified, and glorified are all the actions done by God. God foreknows, God predestines, God calls, God justifies, and God glorifies. And, whoever He has foreknew, predestined, called, justified, and glorified stand in those states as well. Paul’s usage of the aorist here is an interesting choice; most likely used to show that the predestination of God’s elect is as good as done, since it is grounded not in our actions but in God’s actions. This fact alone speaks volumes against the advance prescience view since if this were talking about God’s omniscience the word foreknew would be a noun (and that still could swing to either view depending on interpretation - see 1Peter 1;2 for example), not an active verb; and if it were talking about God looking through time the action would be “looking” or “seeing,” as opposed to “knowing.” But it does not say that God looked and saw the actions of persons and that is His basis for predestining them. Simply put, if parts of speech have any say in the proper interpretation of this passage (and they do), the meaning is clear. God is making a choice to know certain persons. Those he foreknew. God chose to know people. God does not need to look through time to see and find out something that He already knows. He is God. He does not learn from outside sources by observation.

Second, if we look at what the verse is saying it creates major roadblocks for the advance prescience viewpoint. We can point out from the beginning of the verse that the passage is speaking about persons, not the actions of persons. It does not say “That which he foreknew.” Thus, it is not referring to God looking and seeing actions of persons. Namely, it is not saying that God looked and saw that certain persons would exercise faith. Faith would be an action on the part of the person. But the passage says that God knows persons themselves.

Next, we can point out that there is a problem with the advance prescience view here when we analyze the relationship between “called” and “justified.” Advance prescience advocates would claim that God calls everyone. Yet the passage here says that “…those whom he called he also justified…” Therefore, we can conclude that the persons who are called are also justified, which means this can only be referring to the regenerate and not the unregenerate, since the unregenerate are not justified. It cannot be referring to what theologians refer to as the external call, which is the preaching of the Gospel. Not everyone who hears the Gospel is justified. In fact, most people reject it.

We also can point out that predestination precedes calling in this passage. If calling preceded predestination, then a much better case could be made for the advance prescience view. We could then assume that predestination is based upon calling (even though the external vs. internal call would still be a problem). But the text places predestination first, meaning that it precedes calling. Since those who he predestines are called, justified, and glorified, we can then conclude that only those who are predestined are called. This creates the idea that not everyone receives this internal call. The advance prescience view claims that persons are predestined based on the faith that God knows they will exercise. But we can also conclude from the passage that not only are all the predestined called, but all the predestined are also justified and all the predestined are also glorified. Since justification is by faith, we conclude that only the predestined will ever have faith, since clearly from the passage, only the predestined are justified and only the predestined are glorified.

Herein lies the biggest fundamental difference between all forms of non-Reformed theologies and Reformed theologies. Reformed theology sees faith as the result of God’s predestination, not the cause of it. R.C. Sproul sums up the Reformed view. “Reformed theologians understand the golden chain as follows: From all eternity God foreknew His elect. He had an idea of their identity in His mind before He created them. He foreknew them not only in the sense of having a prior idea of their personal identities, but also in the sense of fore loving them. When the Bible speaks of “knowing,” it often distinguishes between a simple mental awareness of a person and a deep intimate love of a person. The Reformed  view teaches that all whom God has foreknown, He has also predestined to be inwardly called, justified, and glorified. God sovereignly brings to pass the salvation of His elect and only His elect.

Thus far, I have dealt directly with Romans 8:29-30, but I would be remiss to not point out that the advance prescience view suffers from drastic topical theological problems as well. Namely, if the advance prescience view is true, God is looking through time to get information on who will follow His plan of salvation. This is more than just a small problem. In short, this view has God gaining information from His creatures. This means that God, in a real sense, gains information from us. Gaining information is called learning. Does God learn from his creatures? I certainly hope not, because that means God gains information and learns from sources outside of Himself! That, I would assert is to make God imperfect and in all actuality, destroy His omniscience. If this is true, is God really perfect in all His ways and attributes?

We can also rightly raise the question: “What’s the point of predestination?” If God looks through time and sees who will come to Him and then bases His predestination on that, why does God need to predestine at all? Whether or not God predestines, these same people are going to come to Him either way, right? Advance prescience advocates may respond to this in one of two ways. The first way is to respond that God predestines the plan of salvation. He predestines those that will come to Him to glory. The obvious problem here as it pertains to Romans 8:29-30 is that it conflicts what the passage is saying. The passage is clear: “Those” He foreknew. And then, “those He predestined He also called…” It is speaking of persons here, not of a general plan. The advance prescience advocates would be correct to point out that the goal of predestination is the glorification of his people. They are to be conformed to the image of Christ. However, the passage indicates that God predestines persons to this goal, as opposed to predestining the goal and then the persons based on His prescience, knowing they will cooperate with Him.

The second manner in which the prescience folks can answer here is that God looks through time, sees who will cooperate with Him, and then predestines these people to hear the Gospel and be called to Christ. But this defaults to sovereign election and no prescience advocate should use this argument, as it proves the Reformation doctrine - the exact position they are kicking so hard to disprove. Does God predestine an advantage to the elect because He knows they will cooperate? How could this be anything other than sovereign election?

The main objections to the Reformed view of Romans 8:29-30 (as well as Romans 9 and Ephesians 1:3-14 and 2:1-10 for that matter) are that this view makes God arbitrary as well as a capricious despot. I will allow R.C. Sproul to answer this charge as the final word in this entry:

“Paul reminds the Romans of what God had declared to Moses: ‘I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.’ The principle is that of the sovereignty of God’s mercy and grace. By definition grace is not something God is required to have. It is His sovereign prerogative to grant or withhold it. God does not owe grace to anyone. Grace that is owed is not grace. Justice imposes obligation, but grace, in its essence, is voluntary and free.

The ground on which God chooses the objects of His mercy is solely the good pleasure of His will. Paul makes this clear: ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will…’ (Eph 1:3-5)

That God chooses according to the good pleasure of His will does not mean that his choices are capricious or arbitrary. An arbitrary choice is one made for no reason at all. Though Reformed Theology insists that God’s election is based on nothing foreseen in the individuals’ lives, this does not mean that He makes the choice for no reason at all. It simply means that the reason is not something God finds in us. In His inscrutable, mysterious will, God chooses for reasons known only to Himself. He chooses according to His own pleasure, which is His divine right. His pleasure is described as His good pleasure. If something pleases God, it must be good. There is no evil pleasure in God.”