Thursday, November 27, 2008

I am not a Hyper Calvinist


Over at Pyromaniacs, Phil Johnson is having some trouble with Arminians using his words to call solid brothers "Hyper-Calvinists" (HC). Phil provides a link to his original article. While reading that, I found his excellent article on "supralapsarianism".

I had heard of supralapsarianism before, but never really understood what it is. The third article has an excellent chart showing the continuity between supralapsarianism and Arminianism.

I am a supralapsarian. (All hyper-Calvinists are supralapsarian, but not vice-versa).

Phil argues the key to hyper-Calvinism is the subversion of the Gospel (isn't that always the case with heresy, and HC is heresy). The HC does not preach the whole Gospel, because he does not believe it will have any effect.

To sum up, supralapsarianism and infralapsarianism (both versions of standard Calvinism) are minor disagreements about the order of operations during the eternity before creation. These issues are minor, below the teaching doctrines of a local church.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Today it seems moral outrage can only be generated over the heinous war crime of "intolerance". That is, the champions of "tolerance" are "intolerant" of anyone who is "intolerant" (and like a White Ward, this effect somehow manages to not cancel itself).

Albert Mohler has an interesting take on the latest intolerant fury of the forces of tolerance.

Of course, any stand for truth requires intolerance (we call it "discernment"). "What communion hath light with darkness?" (2 Corinthians 6:14) In order to protect the truth, we must speak out against what is false.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Ever since reading Oden ("The Rebirth of Orthodoxy"), I am intrigued by the events leading up to the age of modernism. Oden places the beginning at 1789 (the Bastille), but clearly, a big influence was Darwin's "The Origin of Species" (1859). Then, there is Charles Lyell's "Principles of Geology" (1830-33) which so greatly impacted Darwin...

While Lyell and Darwin were doing their thing in Great Britain, Albert Mohler has found an interesting occurrence in America around the same time...

In 1838 (one hundred and seventy years ago!) Ralph Waldo Emerson (in "The American Scholar") made many of the statements we hear today from postmoderns.

I think the whole thing is summarized in one block:
"To this holy office you propose to devote yourselves. I wish you may feel your call in throbs of desire and hope. The office is the first in the world. It is of that reality that it cannot suffer the deduction of any falsehood. And it is my duty to say to you that the need was never greater of new revelation than now."
Emerson seems to understand what is at stake. Yet, he falls into the classic blunder.

The assumption that the new is better than the old.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Orthodox Study Bible

The Orthodox Study Bible is the first book I have received through the Thomas Nelson review program.

The book is quite beautiful. It is over 1800 pages - each page is very thin (which can add a sense of 'reverent patience required' when turning pages!). The Old Testament is a one of a kind translation of the Septuagint (LXX, Greek Old Testament). The New Testament is standard New King James (NKJV).

I won't comment on the Biblical text, the opportunity to read an English translation of LXX might be a selling point in itself. The advantages and disadvantages of NKJV are fairly well understood.

The Biblical text is two columns, and very easy to read. The pages are packed with information, as the study notes are often one-third or, even, one-half(!) of the page (notes are single column). There isn't a lot of room for notes in the margin, but the line spacing should be enough for under liners (I don't like writing in books, especially not Bibles :).

The notes are reflective of Orthodox (captial 'O') tradition. As a Protestant, I don't agree with everything, but it is good to see the defense of their doctrines. It's also interesting to note the differences with Roman Catholicism (which I am more familiar with). I can certainly see the draw for Evangelicals (tired of the silliness in many megachurches) exploring an older tradition. For those Evangelicals, I will be making note of differences in Orthodox doctrine from classic Reformed theology.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

End of Faith

Last month, I saw Christopher Hitchens. While talking with the atheists at my table, I was told Sam Harris' book "The End of Faith" was the most damning book to come from the new atheists. Of course, my local library (being a endless font of heretics and apostates) had a copy for me...

There is a lot to cover, and I have just started, so I will break the review up over several posts...

Harris starts with a rather bizarre proposition - on page 13 he says:
"criticizing a person's faith is currently taboo in every corner of our culture"
Um, hello, McFly? You just sold a New York Times bestseller criticizing every faith! I regularly criticize people's faith (whether it be in nothing or themselves). I have yet to be stoned or tarred and feathered. I don't even get that many nasty looks :) People are usually very open to talking about faith.

Harris reveals much of his assumptions in a statement on page 22:
"If religion addresses a genuine sphere of understanding and human necessity, then it should be susceptible to progress; its doctrines should become more useful, rather than less." [emphasis in original]
Two points here, one is an evolutionary assumption: everything is changing and getting better all the time. I think I've said enough about that...

The second is that I partially agree with him. Christian doctrine is more useful today - since it is most being ignored! Of course, it is doctrine which has been around for two thousand years...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gospel in Three

I'm going to switch from counting words to counting sentences, or at least ideas.

With three, we can start to get a progression to a story (two bad news, one good news):
  1. There is none good, none who seeks after God, all have turned away and become useless (Romans 3:10-12).

  2. God will by no means clear the guilty, an honest judge cannot be bribed, God owns everything, what can we give to Him? (Exodus 34:7)

  3. But God, demonstrates His great love for us, for while we were without strength, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6,8; Ephesians 2:5)
The law (primarily the ten commandments) shows us our true selves, that we are not good, but rather sinners.

Our good works are actually filthy rags in God's sight, and even if they had some value, what is that to an infinite God who owns everything? And even if they had value, you cannot bribe an honest judge.

At this point, you want to shout John 3:16 or Ephesians 2:5!

Monday, November 17, 2008

God's Test

God tests us:
"When Jesus then lifted up [His] eyes, and saw a great company come unto Him, He saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this He said to prove him: for He Himself knew what He would do." (John 6:5-6)
In our society, we are familiar with tests. Standardized tests; SAT/ACT, tests for public school performance; tests in class; driving tests; eye tests.

In these cases, the test is used to verify reality for the test maker. That is, do we meet the standard of the college, or the department of education, motor vehicles, etc.

But that is not why God tests us.

God already knows what we have done, why, and what we will do. He has no need to prove things to Himself.

God gives us tests to reveal our performance to ourselves.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Judgment on America

I've been looking for the results from the most recent election (apart from the presidential results).

I know about Prop 8 (in California), and all I can say is: meh.

I heard that life issues took a beating, but had no data.

Until now.

Mohler says "all three state ballot questions related to abortion were shot down".

This is a sad statement about priorities in America, even (perhaps especially) within the Church. That economic worries could lead to the election of a man with a 100% rating from NARAL, and that a rousing stand could be made about a minor issue like gay marriage, while pro-life issues fail across the board - and, our reaction is anything but sitting in ashes and weeping...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Donatists Alive and Well

According to CNN, the Catholic church in Brazil has apparently forgotten a hard earned lesson of orthodoxy - Donatism.

I covered this heresy over a year ago. Donatus believed that the effectiveness of sacraments was tied to the individuals performing them. The orthodox position is that it is God who is effective for everything in our lives.

Apparently, some things get forgotten after 1700 years:
"It said couples married by Santos must now seek a 'legitimate priest' to renew their vows."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Heresy Challenge

I am thankful to have both EWTN (Catholic) and TBN (evangelical) available on TV. It gives me a chance to find something edifying on TV.

Of course, it also requires a lot of discernment.

Sometimes, I like to play a little game I call "The Heresy Challenge".

The rules are kind of fast and loose. Is it based on which teaching is most contradictory to the Bible? or closest? Is the winner doing better or worse? Which makes it a lot of fun!

Yesterday, I turned on TBN at 7 pm (Way of the Master, season 3, oh yea!). Sadly, they were having a fundraiser...

They were using a passage from Kings (I forget where), to say that if you sent in $1000, God would give you whatever you want!

Ok, so, I figured, "we have a winner!" Then flipped it over...

On EWTN, a man was calmly explaining "this is why it is possible for you to lose your salvation"...


How does that guy sleep at night, knowing that in the morning he might not be saved, only to have a heart attack during breakfast and go directly to Hell. Wow.

Hard to pick a winner...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

New Books

I have been selected to receive books for review by Thomas Nelson! I am looking forward to my first book!

This will be very good, as I am running out of solid books at the library (although, there is a near limitless supply of heretics and apostates!).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Gospel in Two

Continuing the exploration of compact transmissions of the Gospel...

For a two word Gospel, I would say: "Repent! Trust!"

Again, this is straight from the Bible (Mark 1:15):
"And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel."
The Greek word translated "believe" is πιστευετε (pisteuo). This is better translated "trust".

It is when we turn from sin and turn to God (repent) and trust in the atoning death of Jesus that we are saved.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Tricks of Satan

Last episode, we saw that when Satan quotes the Bible, he often twists the meaning, or leaves out bits.

This should not surprise us, as Peter says:
"they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as [they do] also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction." (2 Peter 3:16b)
The Greek word translated "wrest" is στρεβλουσιν (strebloo). It has the notion of "turning" or "twisting", as of one being tortured on a rack.

This is an incredible metaphor! It says that people will "torture" God's Word until it gives the false confession they are seeking. We see this today, in the modern prosperity Gospel, among others.

The end of the verse tells us what to make of this. The end result of twisting Scripture is destruction.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Gospel in One

It has been very helpful for me to formalize and continually reprocess the Gospel message. This allows me to rapidly respond to questions people have, and to give a quick and concise message for any situation.

It this spirit, I am going to consider Gospel messages in limited formats. For example, what would you say given a limit of, say, one word!

This one is actually easy, because I pull it straight from the Bible:
"Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn [yourselves] from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations." (Ezekiel 14:6)
"Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 3:2, that's John the Baptist)
"From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I looked up, Behold! A mountain of skulls. Each skull was small, just one inch cube (about 2 cm).

The pile increased by eight hundred thousand per year, for one generation (twenty years).

The pile was a pyramid, square at the base - the length, width and height were equal.

800,000 x 20 x 2^3 = 1/3 b^3 = 726.85 cm

The pyramid was almost sixteen cubits along each side (almost twenty-four feet), and the same high.