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The Magnum Opus of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, Part 7: Martin Luther’s Unveiling of the Bondage of the Will

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 14, 2015

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Welcome truth lovers to Blog Talk radio.com/False Reformation, this is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, part 7 of “The Magnum Opus of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, Martin Luther’s Unveiling of the Bondage of the Will.”

Greetings from the Potters House and TANC ministries where we are always eager to serve all of your heterodox needs. Our teaching catalog can be found at tancpublishing.com.

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Tonight, we continue in our sentence by sentence evaluation of the HD [Heidelberg Disputation] after addressing some asides in parts five and six. We hear a lot about Martin Luther’s bondage of the will. Tonight, we are looking at the very conception of Luther’s beliefs on the human will. What we are going to find is that Luther’s explanation of human will derived from his position of mortal and venial sin.

Simply stated, if one believes that every act they perform is mortal sin, even their good works, their life is forgivable. Man must not believe he can do a good work. Let’s use theses 11 and 12 to segue into thesis 13 which is the first unveiling of Luther’s bondage of the will.

Thesis 11: Arrogance cannot be avoided or true hope be present unless the judgment of condemnation is feared in every work.

This is clear from Thesis 4. For it is impossible to trust in God unless one has despaired in all creatures and knows that nothing can profit one without God. Since there is no person who has this pure hope, as we said above, and since we still place some confidence in the creature, it is clear that we must, because of impurity in all things, fear the judgment of God. Thus arrogance must be avoided, not only in the work, but in the inclination also, that is, it must displease us still to have confidence in the creature.

Here is something that I haven’t talked about enough in this series: the Reformers were masters of doublespeak. So far, it is obvious that Luther disavowed any value in regard to human life. Yet, in some sentences, he sort of makes it sound like that the issue is life without God. This isn’t the case at all; this is a strict dichotomy between 100% evil and 100% good with nothing in-between.

In contrast, God makes new creatures of mortal men. This flies in the face of Reformed ideology and all of the theology that flows from it. Note that, like all good Gnostics, Luther saw impurity in “all things.” And of course, that includes mankind.

Hence, as stated in this thesis by Luther, man must not have any confidence in self. In other words, God’s creation of man has no inherent ability. The natural ability to do anything is the glory story. Anything that brings glory to man diminishes God. Listen, as one example, the Puritans didn’t dress like they did for no good reason. To wear something with a little color or style would have been the glory story. By the way, do you want to help people? Know this: EVERYTHING people do they do for a reason. Logic drives action. If you want to help people, find the logic behind the action.

So, Reformed ideology splits reality into a strict either/or dichotomy; it’s either the glory story or the cross story. The glory story, or the story of man, can only bring about arrogance.

Let’s pause here to look at the foundational ideology of the Reformation which deals primarily with metaphysics. Like I said, everything people believe and do flows from their logic, so what is the logic that all of this stuff flows from? This is a very simplified version, but it really boils down to this: God does everything that He does because of His self-love. And because God loves Himself, He created evil as a contrast to His holiness. In other words, evil helps to define His holiness by contrast.

This leads to the essence of state of being, or metaphysics, or why things are, or their state of being, according to the metaphysical narrative. What’s a metaphysical narrative? Simply stated: state of being is a story written by God. Everything that is happening in the world today, right down to what people decide to wear, is predetermined by God in His historical prewritten narrative.

All of this benefits God’s self-love. Everything is for His glory. And according to this story, man thinking that he has freedom of choice on any level is evil, and what is he doing? Right, he is writing his own story. If you think that it was your decision to wear what you wore today, you are writing your own glory story. Either you are writing your own life story, or God is writing your life story. You are either god writing your own reality, or God is writing your realty.

Of course you don’t have freedom of the will—that would be writing your own reality—that would be making yourself God. We can also stop here and talk about how the Bible fits into this. The Bible becomes a prototype or model for interpreting reality according to God’s story which is primarily about redemption. The Bible is therefore a tool for interpreting reality according to the cross story, or God’s prewritten metaphysical narrative. And folks, this is everywhere. This way of using the Bible saturates the institutional church.

An example, one of myriads, is the Bible Mesh study material. Listen carefully to what these guys are saying in this promo for the study:

Notice the constant theme of Bible as story, and everything in the Bible being about Christ; ie., redemption. Notice that the Bible is also “your story” and this study enables you to put yourself in the story. You have heard me talk often about the redemptive historical method of interpreting the Bible and this is what it is. They make the Bible a tool for interpreting all of reality according to Martin Luther’s cross story metaphysics. And frankly, 90% of the evangelicals occupying the pulpit in the institutional church take this approach to the Bible.

Thesis 12: In the sight of God sins are then truly venial when they are feared by men to be mortal.

This becomes sufficiently clear from what has been said. For as much as we accuse ourselves, so much God pardons us, according to the verse, »Confess your misdeed so that you will be justified« (cf. Isa. 43:26), and according to another (Ps. 141:4), »Incline not my heart to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds«.

So, if you look at two slides on the program slide show, you see two contemporary illustrations published by the Reformed camp that explain where we have come to this point. The two man chart explains the metaphysics,

the-fetus-of-cog2Cross Chart WB

and the cross chart explains the application as stated in this thesis by Luther: “For as much as we accuse ourselves, so much God pardons us…” His use of Isaiah 43:26 pretty much puts it in a nutshell: confession of sin leads to ongoing justification which can only be found in the institutional church. If we believe man has no will to choose good, and that everything we do is sin, we qualify to be forgiven for purposes of ongoing justification. It’s not complicated.

Thesis 13: Free will, after the fall, exists in name only, and as long as it does what it is able to do, it commits a mortal sin.

The first part is clear, for the will is captive and subject to sin. Not that it is nothing, but that it is not free except to do evil. According to John 8:34,36, »Every one who commits sin is a slave to sin.« »So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.« Hence St. Augustine says in his book ›The Spirit and the Letter‹: »Free will without grace has the power to do nothing but sin«; and in the second book of ›Against Julian‹, »You call the will free, but in fact it is an enslaved will,« and in many other places.

The second part is clear from what has been said above and from the verse in Hos. 13:9, »Israel, you are bringing misfortune upon yourself, for your salvation is alone with me,« and from similar passages.

Again, we will take note of something Luther was accustomed to in his doublespeak. Though he quotes Augustine saying that the will can do nothing but sin without grace, we know that Luther also believed that the will can do nothing but sin WITH grace. This is just another example of his doublespeak. This seems to be very indicative of Reformed teachers; they sow seeds of doubt that they are stating outrageous ideas, but after a space of time the outrageous, tempered by a contradictory statement, will be accepted through repetition. The doublespeak is a red herring until you are fully indoctrinated.

Luther is stating here that the will is “not free except to do evil.”

Thesis 14: Free will, after the fall, has power to do good only in a passive capacity, but it can always do evil in an active capacity.

An illustration will make the meaning of this thesis clear. Just as a dead man can do something toward life only in his original capacity (in vitam solum subiective), so can he do something toward death in an active manner while he lives. Free will, however, is dead, as demonstrated by the dead whom the Lord has raised up, as the holy teachers of the church say. St. Augustine, moreover, proves this same thesis in his various writings against the Pelagians.

Here is where we will employ some help from one of the leading Reformed scholars on Luther’s theology of the cross. This is from Gerhard O. Forde’s “On Being a Theologian of the Cross” which is a commentary on the HD.

Theses 14 and 15 are an attempt to define a little more closely what sort of ability may be ascribed to the will. If, as we have seen in thesis 13, the will is not nothing and is not forced or determined, and if, as we might say, we are not puppets, how then may the power of the will be described?

Pause.

Stop right there. This is the Reformed, “But of course we are not puppets, so how do we explain this?” But the only logical conclusion to Reformed ideology is that we are in fact puppets. In classic Reformed teaching protocol, the brainwashing technique is to deny the logical conclusion while hoping that you will function according to the very logical conclusion and goal that they are seeking.

Listen, according to their very own redemptive-historical hermeneutic, we are nothing but characters in a narrative. No, no, no, we are not puppets, rather, we are mere characters in a metaphysical narrative who are penciled in. And we have a choice, and this is a paraphrase, “…join the plot of the divine drama that includes your story, or attempt to be your own god and write your own glory story.” That’s it. That’s it in a nutshell.

I have been learning a lot from Susan about Jonathan Edwards, and she has so much data already accumulated that I don’t know whether she is going to be able to find this or not, but she was sharing with me about Edwards’ view of the will. Basically, he believed that before a person performs an action, God puts the thought, idea, will, and decision to act in one’s mind beforehand. This kind of goes hand and hand with Edwards’ belief that God is recreating reality at every moment. So, in essence, everything you do is a recreation of reality when it gets right down to it.

So this is how this works: the Reformed will continue to deny that we are puppets while teaching all of the elements of puppeteering. If you teach all of the elements constantly while never speaking of the logical conclusions, people will eventually function according to the logical conclusions which is what they are after. Functionality is the goal—not understanding. Reformation ideology is vehemently opposed to reason and understanding.

Here is another example: the official Reformed doctrine of already not yet. So classic. Sure, sure, you are already saved, of course you are! But not yet. So you think: “Well, sure, our salvation will be fully realized when we are resurrected. That makes total sense.” Well guess what? You just bought into progressive justification. See how this works? Salvation doesn’t have a beginning and an end. It’s a conception. Conception is a onetime final event that completes its work in an instant. You didn’t exist, now you do—end of story.

Let’s continue with Forde’s quotation.

If the claim is that we are to “do what is in us,” then the question quite naturally follows: What then is in us? What sort of capacity do we have?

Pause. Stop right there. Let me shortly answer that question according to 1John chapter 3 before we move on: God’s seed. God’s DNA. We are literally born of God and have His seed IN us. We are new creatures born of God.

To get at the question Luther here uses a distinction current in his day between what our translation has called a “passive capacity” and an “active capacity.” What does that mean? In its passive capacity the will can do good when it is acted upon from without but not on its own, not in an active capacity. A commonly used physical analogy is water. Water has a passive capacity to be heated, but it can’t heat itself. It has no active capacity to do that.

The example Luther uses in his proof is even more to the point because it deals with death and life. On the one hand, corpses could be said to have a passive capacity for life because they can be raised from the dead. But not, of course, on their own power, not in an active capacity, not even in the slightest. Not even by doing their best! The capacity they have is strictly passive. They can be raised, but only by divine power. On the other hand, it is of course true that while a people live they have the active capacity to do something about life and death. They can take life, either their own or some other, but they can’t create or give life. Yet, that only demonstrates that, after the fall, will in its active capacity can only do evil. Since will after the fall is dead and bound to do deadly sin, it can be rescued only from without, as indicated by the fact that it could not bring life out of death but could only be commanded from without by our Lord.

Thus, the fact that even after the fall the will is not nothing means that there is something there. What is it? It is a strictly passive capacity, not an active one. That means that it can be changed but it will not change itself. To be changed, it will have to be accessed “from without.” But it will take radical action. It will take death and resurrection. So we are again pointed toward the cross.

Here, we have plunged the depths of Martin Luther’s bondage of the will. Man is dead, and death is defined as the waters of mortal sin. The waters of mortal sin are not only what man dwells in, he is those waters. He is passively dead. The only active works he can do is dead works. The material realm is man’s glory story of death. He ebb and flows between dwelling in death and experiencing resurrection resulting from him being acted upon from the outside. Being acted upon is completely determined by God’s decision and good pleasure. The long and short of being saved is merely giving testimony to this fact and seeing it for what it is. Saving faith is giving testimony to what you see only, and not anything that you do.

To think you are not dead is mortal sin that cannot be qualified for forgiveness. And again, do see what these guys do? No, no, we are not puppets, right? A question: what do we know about puppets? Well, we know that they are dead. We know that they cannot do anything until they are acted upon, right? This Gerald Forde guy is just like all of the Reformed; he will deny that he is saying that we are mere puppets, and then will describe our Christian existence as puppetry.

This is what annoys me so deeply about people who listen to these yahoos because, “they say some good things.” Why would anybody spend any time investing in this intellectual dishonesty?

So, what is the biblical view of the will? Romans chapter 6. Before one is saved, they are enslaved to sinful desires and free to do good works. Slavery indicates the type of wages that the slave gets—only wages for death. Unsaved people are also indifferent to the law that they will be ultimately judged by. They do not love God’s law. But, they definitely have a free will to follow their God-given conscience and receive rewards for doing so. A person who lives a good common sense life will of course suffer fewer calamities than the foolish. But in the end, this only means less condemnation.

The saved person also has a free will. They are enslaved to righteousness, but unfortunately free to commit sin. However, they do not receive wages of death because they are no longer under the condemnation of the law. They can only receive wages for life. They are no longer indifferent to the law, but love God’s law and its truth. The chart below may help:

romans-6

The new birth is a reversal of sin and slavery resulting in a change of direction. No one sins perfectly, and no one loves perfectly. It’s a direction, not perfection. But if you look at the Reformed cross chart again, neither is it a downward direction of sinful perfection resulting in making the cross bigger.

That’s the end of our lesson tonight—let’s go to the phones.

Sabbath “Rest” Soteriology

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on July 14, 2015

Just more evidence of the error of Reformed theology. Sorry boys, the Christian life is not equal to the sabbath “rest”. We are to work! Our “rest” comes when we receive our rewards at the Bema of Christ!

Andy
tripp rest

 

Zero Sum Life

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on June 21, 2015

Choice and Evangelism

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 10, 2015

Freewill is a major metaphysical pillar of God’s creation. We like to talk about the “attributes of God,” but we must also be careful that God is not erroneously limited by our own definitions of Him.

Below, you will hear a very formidable thinker of our day decry God for creating the world a certain way; specifically, the allowing of suffering and evil. In other words, he believes God should have predetermined goodness in order to prove Himself good.

God indeed created the world according to good, but obviously, God did not predetermine choices and possibilities. Does that make freewill an evil concept? Clearly, John Calvin believed that God predetermined evil while God Himself is good, and the subject speaking in the following video states that God is evil because He didn’t predetermine an exclusion of evil. Hence, in both cases, freewill is deemed evil.

When mankind sinned, it was God’s choice to redeem mankind. Man could not choose to be reconciled to God, nor was it possible for man to devise a way of reconciliation. That could only be accomplished by God. Once man sinned, he was ashamed and hid from God. But God sought him out, and offered a solution for sin. I believe man is capable of making that choice.

What is evangelism? It is doing what God did in the garden on His behalf. Man is ashamed and hides from God, but as His ambassadors, it is our job to seek them out and present God’s plan of reconciliation. Man’s aloofness from God because of shame does not equal an inability to choose. Man’s resentment towards God because God is not predeterminist does not preclude an ability to be persuaded.

God does predetermine a happy ending through intervention, but that is not plenary determinism. God invites all men to choose God’s plan of intervention. Instead of all men being doomed, God intervened.

Wrestling with this issue creates lots of accusations. In the video, the subject accuses God of being completely selfish. And in fact, many of God’s most popular self-proclaimed pundits advocate the centrality of God’s self-love. An example of that would be Dr. John Piper and this fellow here. The same advocate the idea that God predetermined evil as a way to better highlight His holiness and bring more glory to Himself, and as another means of self-love through that enhanced glory.

God predetermined the means of salvation, and He seeks all men out and implores them to choose life. I believe every good thing and enjoyment comes from God and beckons man towards eternal life. The goodness of God and the love of God is not merely God sporting with mankind, it is meant to lead us to repentance and the full experience of God’s eternal goodness.

God clearly takes no pleasure in the death of man, so we should diligently seek out men on God’s behalf because God sent His only Son into the world…not to condemn the world, but that through His Son the world might be saved.

paul

Predestination and Fatalism: “How Much?” is the Question that Only Leaves Two Choices

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on January 26, 2015

HF Potters House (2)

Originally published May 30, 2014

“This speaks to conditional and unconditional promises by God, cause and effect, and hope. What is at stake is our very understanding of reality itself.”

“What am I saying? A am saying that predeterminism is not a paradox in and of itself, I am suggesting that we consider the idea in our study that predeterminism is a slippery slope to making all of life a paradox. In other words, it makes objective truth unknowable.”        

This is part 6 of our series on predestination. We are in the process of evaluating predestination from the viewpoint of love, promises, judgment, cause and effect, hope, commandments, obedience, fear, foreknowledge, freewill, choice, ability, total depravity, evangelism, the gospel, Bible doctrine, paradox, and salvation. In most cases, determinism creates a strained understanding of what some of these words mean to us in real life.

For instance, if God loves the world and man does not have the ability to choose, why does God choose some and not others? He is impartial, no? Why will God judge those who never had a chance to escape judgment? Would God really command us to do things that He knows we are not able to do? How is God’s love really defined? Paradox is a reality, but to what extent do we except paradox as a replacement for the common understanding of life concepts and the words that describe them? Are the simple concepts of commands, love, and choice really a paradox in spiritual matters but necessarily taken literally in the milieu of life? Does whosoever will really mean whosoever has been chosen? And if it does, why doesn’t God simply state that accordingly?

In part one, we established an important starting point: the doctrine of predestination has always been primarily framed and assimilated by Reformed theologians. That’s a problem because they had/have the gospel wrong. This is a matter of simple theological math; they were on the wrong side of the law and gospel. Therefore, the doctrine must be reexamined.

In part 2, we examined God’s will in regard to the lost and the relationship of evangelism and paradox. Evangelism is another word that becomes paradoxical in light of predestination. Obedience is a paradox, love is a paradox, judgment is a paradox, and evangelism as well because the legitimacy of the offer of salvation is called into question. Whosoever will becomes whosoever has been elected. If election is a paradox, all of the concepts connected to it are paradoxical as well.

In part 2, we established that God does not desire that any person perish. He does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked. Which brings up another paradox: does God plead and exhort man to be saved while knowing that he is unable to respond? When God states, “come, let us reason together,” is he saying that while knowing that man is unable to reason?

At any rate, we concluded in part 2 that God does not desire the death of the wicked—He desires that all would be saved.

In part 3, we established that predestination was not unique with the Reformers. In fact, determinism is an ancient concept that has dominated human history. We also examined the historical bad fruit produced by its ideology, and biblical contradictions as well.

In part 4, we looked at the means by which God seeks man. Man is created with intuitive knowledge of God, man begins life in the book of life and must be blotted out if he/she perishes, and Christ died for all men, not just the elect. Though not in the study, the fact that all sins are imputed to the Old Covenant, and belief in Christ eradicates the Old Covenant and all of the sin imputed to it, it implies a readiness and desire of God to vanquish one’s sin. The imputation of all sin to a covenant is sort of the opposite of starting life in the Book of Life; God wants to keep you in the one book and get rid of the other one.

Moreover, God sent the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin and the judgment to come while the works of God’s law are already written on the heart of every person. On the one hand, God has set up a gargantuan infrastructural reality to facilitate the salvation of man, but in all of this, who enters in is ultimately predetermined by Him. Why all the drama? Why all of the paradox? Why all of the confusion? Yet, another paradox that could be added is the Holy Spirit’s warning in regard to judgment along with all of God’s prophets; why offer this incentive to escape judgment to those who are unable to respond? This speaks to conditional and unconditional promises by God, cause and effect, and hope. What is at stake is our very understanding of reality itself.

In part 5, we begin to answer the question, “How much?” Let’s say that man is unable to choose God initially, but what about post new birth? Is man then able to make choices? Curiously, the Reformers say, “no.” We looked at the Reformed redemptive-historical hermeneutic that interprets all reality as a gospel metaphysical narrative. We simply put ourselves in the narrative by believing everything in life points to a truth about Christ and is predetermined. We called this plenary determinism. Also, while discussing this, we introduced the possibility that certain things are predetermined by God, while other things are not. We used the following chart to illustrate this:

Election Final Draft

Granted, we want some things to be predetermined by God. We want a happy ending. We want justice. We want the good guys to win. We want everyone to live happily ever after. In times of danger, we want our fears tempered by knowing that God is control. In the book of Revelation, for certain, the opening of the six seals will make it seem like the earth is in complete chaos and spinning out of control, but the fact will be that God is in control of every bit of that. Will that temper the fear of those who know that at the time? Sure it will.

But is everything predetermined? Does man have any role in reality at all? The main source for predestination doctrine has always been the Reformers, at least in Western culture, and they disavow choice in both the saved and unsaved state. Consequently, from an eschatological view, there is only one judgment in which both believers and unbelievers stand in to determine one’s eternal fate. Opposing eschatological views posit a separate judgment for believers and unbelievers, one for reward (believers), and one that condemns (unbelievers).

Obviously, the idea of reward strongly suggests that the reward is for something earned by making a right choice. In Reformed circles, rewards spoken of in the Bible are attributed to salvation (the reward[s] is salvation), but now we have yet another paradox because it is not really a reward that we get for something that we did! What am I saying? I am saying that predeterminism is not a paradox in and of itself, I am suggesting that we consider the idea in our study that predeterminism is a slippery slope to making all of life a paradox. In other words, it makes objective truth unknowable.

However, the Reformers state that truth can be known, and that there is no paradox at all: Man and history were created to glorify God. Everything that happens is predetermined by God (cause), and everything that happens is for God’s glory, and in fact, does glorify Him (effect). Hence, man has no ability to choose in being the cause for anything that happens. Judgment reflects God’s glory alone in simply revealing what God has preordained via good or evil. If this is not true, then how much choice does man have? That must be determined. If true, then how much choice does man not have? This must be determined as well.

At the T4G 2008 conference, John MacArthur stated the following:

The sum is that man is evil and selfish, unwilling and unable because he is dead. He loves his sin. He loves the darkness. He thrives on selfish lust. He’s happy to make a god of his own, manufacturing and convinced himself that he is good enough to satisfy that god. He may see his sin in his sin, but he does not see his sin in his goodness, and he does not see his sin in his religion, and it is his sin in his goodness that is most despicable for there is the deception and it is his sin in his religion that is most blasphemous because there it is that he worships a false god…

The contemporary idea today is that there’s some residual good left in the sinner. As this progression came from Pelagianism to Semipelagianism and then came down to sort of contemporary Arminianism and maybe got defined a little more carefully by Wesley who was a sort of a messed up Calvinist because Wesley wanted to give all the glory to God, as you well know, but he wanted to find in men some place where men could initiate salvation on his own will. That system has literally taken over and been the dominant system in evangelical Christianity. It is behind most revivalism. It is behind most evangelism. That there’s something in the sinner that can respond.

Notice how MacArthur combines ability with goodness. Ability is made to be a moral issue. Why does an ability to choose something, or make a wise choice, or desire to have something that is rooted in anthropology, have to be an issue of inherent goodness? If unregenerate man can make wise choices, or at least correct choices, and certainly he can, why couldn’t one of those wise choices be that of salvation? Yes, certainly the Bible teaches that man’s inclination is away from God, but once God seeks him out and confronts him, does he have the ability to be persuaded? Why is man able to choose to stop at a red light (cause) to prevent an accident (effect), but unable to choose God?

Throughout the same message, MacArthur asserts the following like points:

Wesley wanted to give all the glory to God, as you well know, but he wanted to find in men some place where men could initiate salvation on his own will.

Here, MacArthur makes an ability to choose equal with initiating the means of salvation and initially seeking God. Our previous lessons assert that man doesn’t initially seek God, but once God seeks him by various means, man has the ability to choose. Man has many abilities that are morally neutral, even in his weakness, why can’t the ability to choose be one of them when he/she is aided by God and convicted by the Holy Spirit? In Scripture, we have instances of men being nearly persuaded (Mark 12;34, Acts 26:25-32); what are we to surmise from this, that man has the ability to be partially persuaded, but not the ability to be fully persuaded? James suggested that some men can believe in God, but fall short of believing in a saving way (2:19). This means man has an ability to believe in God intellectually, but is unable to understand saving truth about God and make his own choice? Why would man then have the ability to believe in God at all?

According to MacArthur,

A new wave followed as people struggled to hang on to human freedom which said that Adam’s sin had “in some measure” affected and disabled all men, but sinners were left with just enough freedom of the will to make the first move of faith toward God. And then God’s grace kicked in. But sinners made the first move, and that’s what became known as semi-Pelagianism. Some would call it prevenient grace. There’s a component of grace in all human beings that gives them in the freedom of their own will the ability to initiate salvation. The idea is that depravity is real, but it is not total. Saving grace from God then becomes a divine response rather than the efficient cause of our salvation. This view is denounced, as you know, by several councils starting around 529.

How does an ability to choose equal the initiation of salvation? How does an ability to choose, or the freedom of the will to choose equal us making the first move? We by no means made the first move! Clearly, God made the first move by supplying the means of salvation, and the second move by calling all men unto salvation. After this, how does our abilty to choose constitute the “first move”? It’s not the first move, it’s a response to God’s love. And in regard to the point of our first lesson, throughout his message, MacArthur validates his points by citing St. Augustine; that is very problematic in and of itself. MacArthur then moves on in the same message to make the new birth synonymous with our ability to choose. If we have an ability to be persuaded, that is supposedly like giving birth to ourselves:

When the Bible speaks about the condition of the sinner, with what words does it speak? Well, when the Bible speaks of the sinner’s condition, it is usually in the language of death, sometimes darkness, sometimes blindness, hardness, slavery, incurable sickness, alienation, and the Bible is clear that this is a condition that affects the body, the mind, the emotion, the desire, the motive, the will, the behavior. And it is a condition that is so powerful no sinner unaided by God can ever overcome it… John 3, you are very familiar with it, Nicodemus, and no one is going to be able to see the kingdom of God unless he’s born again, Jesus said in verse 3, very interesting. Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” He is not stupid. He’s a teacher in Israel. He’s speaking metaphorically. He’s picking up on Jesus’ born again metaphor and asking the question, how does that happen? How does it happen? You can’t do it on your own. You can’t birth yourself. That’s his point. He gets it. He understands that man has no capability to bring birth to himself. Jesus follows up by saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the spirit,”

First, MacArthur’s concession, perhaps unwittingly, that “it is a condition that is so powerful no sinner unaided by God can ever overcome it” is exactly what we are saying, and not by any means that man can choose God solo. God supplies the means of salvation and seeks after man with the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the word of God. But in the end, man is able to neglect this great salvation, and to his own eternal detriment. Also, the new birth is part of the means of salvation totally out of man’s control; the new birth is a promise to those who believe, and obviously not man giving birth to himself.

When you start thinking about these things apart from Reformed orthodoxy, some observations become interesting. MacArthur used the following proof texts to make one of his points:

But let me just work you through John for a minute, John 1:12-13. “But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become the children of God even to those who believed in his name who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of men, but of God.” That is unmistakable. Unmistakable. Salvation being the work of God.

First, notice that man’s role is simply to receive, and then man is “given” the “right” to become the children of God. Then MacArthur bemoans the following:

It is behind most revivalism. It is behind most evangelism. That there’s something in the sinner that can respond. And this is sort of like the right in a free country. You have to have this right. This wouldn’t be fair if God didn’t give the sinner the right to make his own decision so that the sinner unaided by the Holy Spirit must make the first move. That’s essentially Arminian theology. The sinner unaided must make the first move. And God then will respond when the sinner makes the first move.

This is exactly what the proof text that MacArthur stated says, that those who receive Christ do in fact have the “right” to become part of God’s kingdom. Also, in stating his Reformed logic in another way, he suggested that hearing the gospel message and receiving it was the same thing as preaching ourselves:

What can remedy that? We do not preach ourselves, verse 5, we preach Christ Jesus as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. We preach the gospel of Christ as lord and ourselves as slaves. And what happens? Verse 6, God who said light shall shine out of darkness, that’s taking you back to creation, God who created, who spoke light into existence is the one who has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Aside from the fact that having the ability to be persuaded is not preaching ourselves rather than Christ, note that MacArthur equates creation with the gospel which insinuates that the fall was built into creation itself. This is part and parcel with the supralapsarianism that we discussed in previous lessons.

But the thrust of this lesson centers on the “how much” when it comes to any role at all for man in salvation and the logical end of it, and in the final analysis how God’s love is defined. This is a sobering consideration. In both the 2013 Shepherds’ Conference and T4G 2008, MacArthur presents the idea that John 3, regarding the new birth, is something that is done to the individual without any participation on the part of the believer. The clear message in both cases was that any decision or belief on the part of the believer was excluded also. It was very much like the following rendition of the same text:

When we consider the great teachings of Scripture, they are not there just to give us information and they are not to teach us what we can do in our own strength. In Musings 34 (http://www.godloveshimself.org/?p=2018) we looked at how believing that the doctrine of justification is true is not the same thing as being justified. The new birth was also mentioned at the end. In the passage above (John 3:3-5) Jesus speaks pointedly and with power in a way that reflects on the issue being mused on here. Jesus did not tell Nicodemus that he must know the truth about the new birth in order to enter the kingdom. Jesus also did not tell Nicodemus that he must believe the truth about the new birth in order to enter the kingdom. Instead of that, Jesus told Nicodemus that he must actually be born again in order to enter the kingdom. There is a huge difference between believing what is true and what is true actually happening to you.

If we take this as a picture or even as an example of the teachings of Scripture, we can view what it means to believe something with different eyes or with a different perspective. Neither Jesus or Paul declared that a person must believe the facts about justification in order to be justified, but simply that a person must be justified (God Loves Himself .wordpress .com: Musing 35; February 10, 2014).

So, if reality is a prewritten metaphysical narrative for the sole purpose of glorifying God in all that happens in the narrative, it only stands to reason that God is motivated by self-glorification and self-love as the highest purpose for all that he does:

Perhaps this concept that Edwards gives just above cannot be stated too strongly or emphasized too much since all true Christianity depends on the truth of it. If God is not centered upon Himself and He does not do all for His own glory, then God Himself is not holy and acts against the perfection of His own nature, wisdom, holiness, and perfect rectitude. If God Himself does not love Himself and do all He does out of love for Himself (as triune), then He does not keep the same standard that He commands all others to do. If God does not love Himself and do all He does out of love for Himself, then the both the great Commandments and the Ten Commandments are not a transcript of the character of God. If God Himself does not love Himself and do all He does out of love for Himself (as triune), then He does not do what He requires of others in the first three petitions in the Lord’s Prayer. If God Himself does not love Himself and do all He does out of love for Himself (as triune), then He does not do all in His own name as He requires others to do so. If God Himself does not love Himself and do all He does out of love for Himself (as triune), then He does not do all for His own glory which He requires others to do (God Loves Himself .wordpress .com: Edwards on the God Centeredness of God; 11 December 7, 2013).

Add yet another paradox in regard to love. God didn’t send His Son to the cross because he loves mankind, he sent His Son to the cross because He loves Himself. The list of commonly understood words in a grammatical reality that have been redefined by the doctrine of determinism is now very lengthy. Why indeed did God even bother to write the Bible in a grammatical format? No wonder that Rick Holland, a former associate of John MacArthur has stated that good grammar makes bad theology. No kidding? Add yet another paradox: the idea that God is not a God of confusion. Of course, the Reformed would say that there is no confusion at all—ALL things are predetermined for God’s glory and completely out of our control—end of story.

Let’s pad this point a little more with some quotes from John Piper:

I would like to try to persuade you that the chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy himself forever. Or to put it another way: the chief end of God is to enjoy glorifying himself.

The reason this may sound strange is that we tend to be more familiar with our duties than with God’s designs. We know why we exist – to glorify God and enjoy him forever. But why does God exist? What should he love with all his heart and soul and mind and strength? Whom should he worship? Or will we deny him that highest of pleasures? It matters a lot what God’s ultimate allegiance is to! (Desiring God .org: Is God for Us or for Himself?; October 23, 1984).

Actually, the Bible states that the chief end of man is to obey God, and that God takes more pleasure in obedience than sacrifice (Ecc 12:13,14 1Sam 15:22). I am not sure that the Bible ever states any “chief end” of God. Really? God’s life has a primary purpose that we can understand? And its narcissism?

Though there seems to be many Scriptures that bolster determinism, it requires the redefining of many commonly understood word meanings, and inevitably leads to an unavoidable illogical outcome. If the doctrine of predetermination in and of itself was the only paradox, that would be different, but the problem we see here is that it makes all of reality a paradox unless you accept the mythological Reformed metaphysical narrative.

Redefinitions

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