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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How the "warning passages" of Scripture end up leading to Calvinism's own apostasy.

One of the most humorous (and maddening) doctrines to discuss with a Calvinist is how Calvinism deals with the subject of apostasy (i.e. falling away from the Christian faith). Since Calvinism teaches that the 'true believer' can never lose his salvation, this naturally leads one to ask how Calvinism deals with the "warning passages" in Scripture. The "warning passages" are all those passages which warn about the danger against turning to sin, particularly grave sins which can cause one to be damned. An excellent example of this is Galatians 5:19-21, where Paul (for the second time) warns the Galatian Christians that if they commit grave sins they will be in jeopardy of not entering the kingdom of Heaven. 

Calvinists approach the "warning passages" with a sort of double standard. On the one hand they say that anyone who commits those sins was probably "never saved in the first place," while on the other hand they admit a 'true Christian' could fall into those sins but that God has pre-forgiven all their sins since the moment of their conversion and justification. (I discuss this inherent-contradiction in my Lordship Salvation post.) But there is yet another damning contradiction to go along with this, and this stems from the fact Protestants in general (and Calvinists in particular) reject the Catholic distinction between mortal and venial sin

The problem the Calvinist is in is simply this: if there is no distinction between mortal and venial sin, then all sin is equally grave and thus equally damning. And if even Christians sin in "small" things many times each day (Prov 24:16), this leads to the terrifying realization that they're committing damnable sins throughout each day. This error and failure to follow the Church caused Luther to be deeply distressed, and logically so, which in turn was passed onto Calvin and eventually most all Protestants. This forced Luther and Calvin into having to invent the doctrine of the "Imputation of Christ's Righteousness," where Christ's Righteousness would "cover" the believer and effectively hide their daily repeated (mortal) sins from God's sight. Protestants call this God "not imputing" sin, meaning God knows you commit all these grave sins each day, but since you're "covered" by Jesus' righteousness then God will graciously not count you guilty for them. But this only compounds the problem at hand rather than alleviate it. 

Since the Calvinist Christian is committing the very damnable sins warned against in places like Galatians 5:19-21, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Ephesians 5:3-5, and 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6, the Calvinist really cannot explain how these are "warnings" at all if they're virtually inescapable even by Christians. This all but makes these "warnings" complete jokes and naturally should lead one to reject the Calvinist view in virtue of the fact Calvinism reduces to absurdity on this point. The only way to explain these texts is to recognize the mortal and venial sin distinction, which is why these texts are clearly singling out certain grave sins and not speaking of every sin being damnable. But that would require Protestants to reject Sola Fide, which isn't going to be easy for them to do.

64 comments:

Steve Martin said...

For us Lutherans, there is no distinction (for righteousness sake) in sins. One little sin is enough to ban you to hell, because God is perfect and just and cannot have ANY impurity in His heavenly realm.

So He sent One to live perfectly, for us. To love us sinners and to forgive us and die for us.

When God forgives...He gives of Himself. Completely, fully...with NO strings attached.

That's good news to those who believe it, no matter what church you belong to.

Anonymous said...

Major problems with the reasoning here. One is that the Roman Catholic wants to reduce God's perfect standard to a human standard. That is something they can achieve. Secondly, diminishing sin by making some sins not that serious. We could also get into purgatory which is another unbiblical doctrine.

If the righteousness of Christ is not imputed to us and our sins imputed to Him then we still in our sins and in a state of condemnation.

Restless Pilgrim said...

Steve,

Could you please explain the following passage?

If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal - 1 John 5:16

Thanks,

RP

Restless Pilgrim said...

Sorry, I missed the next verse:

"All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal"

Restless Pilgrim said...

(Anonymous could also have a go at explaining those two verses)

Anonymous said...

Restless,
Here is a better translation from the NASB:
16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this.
17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.

The sin "leading to death" could be any sin that premeditated and unconfessed. We see an example of this in Acts 5 where Annias and his wife were killed by the Lord.

Some sins in this life are judged more severely than others. Some sins as stated above can eventually lead to death.

Hapax Paradidomi said...

The sin "leading to death" could be any sin that premeditated and unconfessed. We see an example of this in Acts 5 where Annias and his wife were killed by the Lord.
====

So your entire argument is that this is only talking about physical death? So can you tell me which sins certainly lead to PHYSICAL death?

Hapax Paradidomi said...

And since you think there are some sins that lead to physical death, does that not mean you see that some sins are judged by God as being worse than others?

cwdlaw223 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cwdlaw223 said...

Anonymous -

You obviously don't understand Roman Catholic Theology. Purgatory is more of a process of cleansing the stain of sin from those who are going to heaven. Nothing impure can enter into heaven.

Do you believe sin has not stained your soul?

Where you get this thought that Catholics think they can live Christ's perfect standard is beyond me or scripture. If you are going to make stuff up, just say so.

cwdlaw223 said...

An even better question for anonymous is whether there is a temporal effect of sin on this earth? The answer is overwhelmingly yes if your a RC.

Anonymous said...

cwdlaw223,
The only thing that cleanses us from sin is the blood of Christ. (1 John 1:7). Purgatory does nothing for your soul.

No one can live up to the perfect standard of Christ. When we don't, its called sin. That's why we need forgiveness and the cleansing of the blood of Christ all the time.

cwdlaw223 said...

An even better question for anonymous is whether there is a temporal effect of sin on this earth? The answer is overwhelmingly yes if your a RC.

There is no good news if the Bride of Christ failed! All of his teachings would be worthless and he would just be another

Hapax Paradidomi said...

No one can live up to the perfect standard of Christ. When we don't, its called sin. That's why we need forgiveness and the cleansing of the blood of Christ all the time.
=====

Anon,
Yes "we need forgiveness and the cleansing of the blood of Christ all the time.". But that simply is not the issue. The issue is, are some of your sins mortal while others are not?

Asserting that all sin is equal and then asserting that God punishes some sin with death while not others fails to help your case.

You have way too many loose ends but yet you point fingers at the catholic church. Can you spell log? :P

Anonymous said...

What are the temporal effects of sin?
Examples?

Anonymous said...

All sin is missing the mark. Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point breaks the whole law. James 2:10.

Not all sin equal in terms of its evil. There are varying degrees of punishment in hell.

Hapax Paradidomi said...

An even better question for anonymous is whether there is a temporal effect of sin on this earth? The answer is overwhelmingly yes if your a RC.
===

I believe that Anon. classified the example of Ananias and Sapphira as a temporal effect example.

cwdlaw223 said...

If you steal someone's wallet do you need to return it? That's an easy example of the temporal effect of sin. Guys like RC Sproul would claim it's a " work" to rectify the temporal effect of sin and return the wallet.

So what happens about the temporal effect of sins like fornication? No punishment either? Just forgiven in your head without any punishment?

Anonymous said...

Sin is serious business. It grieves the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is grieved when a true Christian sins and the Christian will feel regret. IF he persists in his sin, he will be disciplined by Christ. See Hebrews 12:4-11.

Nick said...

Anonymous, it would be nice if you used a name. You can type a name without having to log in or register.

You said: "Major problems with the reasoning here. One is that the Roman Catholic wants to reduce God's perfect standard to a human standard. That is something they can achieve. Secondly, diminishing sin by making some sins not that serious. We could also get into purgatory which is another unbiblical doctrine."

Response: How on earth does this address the case I made? It's the red herring fallacy of changing the subject. The point is, there is a distinction in severity of sin, and to deny that forces you to conclude all sins are mortal, and thus even the Christian commits mortal sins all day.


You said: "If the righteousness of Christ is not imputed to us and our sins imputed to Him then we still in our sins and in a state of condemnation."

Response: This is 100% a tradition of men. Nowhere does the Bible teach imputation of Christ's righteousness to us, nor does it teach our sins are imputed to Him. Nowhere.

Anonymous said...

Nick,
Is there a list of these "mortal sins" that Rome has made? I'd like to know specifically what they are as I'm sure you would.

Secondly, all sin is deadly. In fact what you consider to be a venial sin is quite serious. Consider what James said:"For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all." James 2:10

The imputation of the righteousness of Christ is not a doctrine of men but of the apostles: "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
2 Cor 5:21

"For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." Gal 3:27

"I will rejoice greatly in the Lord,My soul will exult in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." Isaiah 61:10

You can call me Ralph

cwdlaw223 said...

Ralph -

Do you believe in the temporal effect of sin on this earth?

Who believed like you do in history? Please name one person prior to the Reformation who believed the way you do when it comes to imputation.

Let me guess, you have better exegesis than those who came before you and practice Catholicism for 1,400 years.

Anonymous said...

cwdlaw223,
If by "temporal effect of sin on this earth" that there is suffering and pain then yes. Even though an adulterer can be forgiven by his wife the relationship will take time to heal and build trust again. In David's life we see some clear examples of the effects of his sins on himself and others.

Isaiah and Paul for example believed in as Protestants do who believe in penal substitution. See Isaiah 53 and 2 Cor 5:21 for examples.

You assume that because your church has taught some doctrine for a long time that it must be true. Many people believe like this. The problem is that this is not always true and it is not true when facts don't support a doctrine even if its been taught for centuries.

Ralph

Steve Martin said...

I think it was James who said, "if you broken one commandment, you've broken them all."

Here's another one," the wages of sin are death".

If we could skate by on our own and avoid "mortal sin"...then why the cross? Why bother? Just line us up and judge us upon our performance.

Well...here's why (from Romans) "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."

Sounds like we all need a Savior.

Anonymous said...

The JUST Man falls seven times a day. The just man, not the evil man. These seven fallings certainly aren't mortal sins or the man couldn't be called just. Zachary, Joseph, Noah, etc. etc. were just men, not mortal sinners. Nuff said, James

cwdlaw223 said...

Ralph -

You don't have any evidence that someone believed the way you did in history for 1,400 years. Doesn't that concern you? Do you truly believe your exegesis is that much better than history? That's the sign of scholasticism and pride.

You assume that you're correct without any historical evidence for your position. I do not believe that one person can possess all knowledge to properly interpret scripture. You do. That's pride at work.

Anonymous said...

cwdlaw223,
What are you talking about?

We should be better exegetes today because we have more resources and more qualified people interpreting the Scripture than at any time in history. We also know more about the ancient writings via archaeology and other methods.

Ralph

Clint said...

Steve:

It says in James 2:10 that the one who keeps the whole law becomes guilty of it all if they fail in one point of it.

Challoner, in his commentary on this verse, wrote, "he becomes a transgressor of the law in such a manner, that the observing of all other points will not avail him to salvation; for he despises the lawgiver, and breaks through the great and general commandment of charity, even by one mortal sin."

As to your second scriptural quote, it is Romans 6:23. It reads, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

All of us have committed sin against our infinitely good and just Creator. Each sin, mortal and venial, is evil and morally offensive in His sight because He is holy and the moral order comes from Him. Whenever an offense is done against a person, that person usually wants recompense or satisfaction. In ancient Iceland, (if memory serves me correct) one had to pay a fine to the victim if one offended them with insult, violence, etc. It was to make satisfaction for wrong-doing. All of us, sinful human beings, have offended God. Would any of us be able to fully make satisfaction to Him for our own sins? I totally doubt that I would be able to. If satisfaction is not made, the criminal must be sentenced to prison, exile, or whatever. In our case it's death, Hades, and being deprived of our own loving Creator. As you said, "we all need a savior." The good news is that Jesus Christ made satisfaction on our behalf. We do not owe satisfaction to God, Heaven is freely ours, and we will be where Christ is rather than where the Devil will be.

Even if one were to successfully avoid all mortal sin, one would still be guilty of venial sin. And as you know, the wages of sin is death. That is why the Cross was necessary.

We who belong to our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, must now yield ourselves to righteousness rather than what we used to yield ourselves to --- impurity and iniquity. We who are justified by faith need to be like our God who is love. Let's love our fellows, forgive our fellows, and clothe ourselves with compassion. His Kingdom is for His own kind, and that is why all men will be judged according to their works.

Pax Tecum!

Clint said...

Steve:

You wrote, "For us Lutherans, there is no distinction (for righteousness sake) in sins. One little sin is enough to ban you to hell, because God is perfect and just and cannot have ANY impurity in His heavenly realm."

I would like to let you know that I used to be a Lutheran, as in, I adhered to the Augsburg Confession and Luther's Catechisms. I was even baptized in a Lutheran church about five months after my conversion to Christ. There is only one thing I wish the Catholic parish I attend had which the Lutheran one had --- communion rails. That is all. :p

If you believe 1 John 5:16-17 is God-inspired, you must believe then that there actually is distinction in sin.

"He that knoweth his brother to sin a sin which is not to death, let him ask, and life shall be given to him, who sinneth not to death. There is a sin unto death: for that I say not that any man ask. All iniquity is sin. And there is a sin unto death." - 1 John 5:16-17

See that? There are sins to death (mortal) and there are sins not to death (what we call 'venial'). A mortal sin is a sin committed by you that will keep you out of the Kingdom of God (St. Paul affirmed it can happen!). Idolatry, sorcery, fornication, and murder are four examples of mortal sin. The Christian who commits a mortal sin is basically saying to God, "I renounce you." Actions speak louder than words, eh? If we renounce Him, He will renounce us and say "Depart from me" in the end. This is why the Sacrament of Confession exists for us. When we renounce God through mortal sin, we detach ourselves from the Body of Christ. One of His priests will gladly hear our confession, absolve us, and we will be completely reconciled with God and His Church, the mystical Body of Christ. And remember, if you are truly sorry for your mortal sins because they are trespasses against the God whom you love above all things, and you intend to go to Confession, your mortal sins are forgiven already. Venial sins --- those which do not damn us, for they are not a renunciation of the Lord --- are simply forgiven when we say things such as "forgive us our trespasses" in prayer.

It is out of love that I say to you, please consider the Catholic faith, get rid of the misconceptions you have about it, and receive the Sacraments in a parish that is a member of the visible Church founded by our Lord Jesus Christ. Do not try to justify being a sinner who is not in need of Confession. The Father sent His Son on earth to forgive sins. His enemies of course questioned him, asking, "By whose authority do you do these things?" In John 20, our Lord said to His apostles, "As the Father has sent me, so now I send you. If you forgive the sins of any person, that person's sins are forgiven, and if you retain any person's sins, that person's sins are retained." According to Acts and the Pauline letters, the Apostles ordained men to be shepherds of the Church and even they ordained men to follow. The Church still has shepherds and thus the authority to absolve sins.

Pax Tecum!

cwdlaw223 said...

Ralph -

You are a scholastic and delusional if you believe that there is better exegesis today than those who studied directly under the Apostles or one person removed from the Apostles. Not one Church father or writing supports your exegesis. In fact, the Mass was in place before much of the cannon of Sripture was written.

Steve Martin said...

Clint,

I was raised a Catholic (35 years).

When I became a Lutheran, I was never re-baptized.

Lutherans don't believe in that (since God is the Baptizer). My baptism as a Roman Catholic infant is perfectly good.

We see Christ as forgiving all our sin. Sin(s) is not so much the problem (as they are symptoms)...but 'sin'.

And if Christ didn't accomplish everything n that cross for us, then we all are in big trouble.

We just aren't up to the task of cleaning ourselves up. In fact...we usually make matters much worse when we try.

Thanks.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick,

I don't think you have the slightest concept what the Calvinist position is on most things, much less apostasy.

For the sake of argument, let's adopt your definition of apostasy: "falling away from the Christian faith." Would a Calvinist say a genuine Christian could commit it? I don't see why not. We would simply say that no true Christian (i.e., the elect) ever dies in this state.

If someone were to die in a state of apostasy (and if we could ever verify this for certain), then we would not be able to affirm that such a person was ever a believer in the first place.

I don't see why you would find that problematic, much less comical. After all, the Roman Catholic tradition says virtually the same thing with respect to knowing who the elect are. There are certain signs of election that are indicators (though no one can really know for sure except by a special revelation).

What would an RC say about a baptized Roman Catholic who dies in what appears to be a state of apostasy (or some other mortal sin)? The RC would have to say that it looks like such a person is lost, but that because only God knows for sure, we are in no position to know for certain, one way or the other.

Makes sense to me. After all, the elect are known ultimately to God alone.

Keep in mind that apostasy is notoriously difficult to verify. Even if we're fairly certain that someone is in it now, that does not mean that's how they'll end up, as God is "patient" not wanting "any" to perish (cf, 2 Peter 3:9).

Michael Taylor said...

Nick,

You also misunderstand/misrepresent the Reformed understanding of the purpose of scripture's warnings.

You seem to believe that we believe they are only hypothetical. I honestly have no idea what leads you to that conclusion.

For the record, the we believe the warnings are real. We also believe they have a two-fold purpose. First, the elect will ultimately heed them. Think of a stop sign that is obeyed. The reprobate, however, will not ultimately heed the warnings. In this case, their secondary purpose will kick in: to harden those in unbelief and to function as an indictment. This of those who run the stop sign.

But once again, as with the case of apostasy, only God knows who will finally heed the warnings and who will not.

The Reformed believe that warnings are one of the many means by which God preserves his elect. In most cases they prevent the elect from sinning against God. In some cases, they are occasions for the elect to repent after having failed to heed them.

So contrary to your misrepresentation, warnings are real in Reformed theology. They function exactly in the way God intends them to function.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick,

On the mortal/venial sin distinction, I'm not sure I understand why you think our rejection of that distinction leads to problems for us regarding apostasy. Could you walk me through your reasoning on that one more time.

But since we're on the subject, perhaps you or another RC could answer the following questions:

1. If there are some sins that are mortal (rather than venial), then do you believe that Christ made atonement for these?
2. If yes, then would you agree that Jesus the High Priest failed in his intercessory work and in fact has lost (and will continue to lose) souls for whom he died and is now offering his sacrifice as (a useless and ineffective atonement, that fails to atone)?
3. If no, then would you agree that Christ's atonement on the cross was insufficient for the salvation of everyone (given that you have admitted that he did not atone for all sin).
4. If, on the other hand, you believe that Christ atoned for all sin, then how is it not a manifest injustice on the part of God to demand further atonement for sin? How would this not be an instance of double jeopardy, whether for those making purification in purgatory or those in hell suffering eternally?

cwdlaw223 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cwdlaw223 said...

Michael -

What historical evidence do you have (or can point to), outside of scripture, of Calvin's theology being taught/practiced on before the Reformation?

I'm not asking for your interpretation of scripture as evidence, I'm asking for ANY evidence of some person (preferably a body of believers) in history that believed anywhere close to the John Calvin.

Please don't use Augustine as he died a Roman Catholic and would have been utterly disgusted by Calvin's liberal theology.

If were's going to talk apostasy, we might as well get to the heart of the matter which is what is Christianity. Christianity cannot be some ever changing theology. It didn't start out correct, fail and then was magically discovered again in 1,400. If you're going down that route of Church failure, why not be a Mormon???

cwdlaw223 said...

Michael -

I'm sure Nick will answer your questions, but you need to define the word "atonement."

Not sure how Jesus "loses souls" given man's ability to cooperate or not with grace. We aren't puppets (unless you view scripture with a Calvinistic lens).

cwdlaw223 said...

Michael -

You really should read Nick's article on penal substitution and how Protestants incorrectly view/define the word atonement:

http://catholicnick.blogspot.com/2010/07/atonement-according-to-scripture-more.html

Michael Taylor said...

Cwd>> What historical evidence do you have (or can point to), outside of scripture, of Calvin's theology being taught/practiced on before the Reformation?<<

I'd point mainly to the Augustinian tradition. I just posted an article on my blog that shows that Aquinas' interpretation of "God desires the salvation of all men" (1 Timothy 2:4) is essentially identical to that of the Reformed tradition.

But that only makes sense, because both Aquinas and Calvin were essential Augustinians with respect to the doctrine of election.

I'm not asking for your interpretation of scripture as evidence, I'm asking for ANY evidence of some person (preferably a body of believers) in history that believed anywhere close to the John Calvin.

>>Please don't use Augustine as he died a Roman Catholic and would have been utterly disgusted by Calvin's liberal theology.<<

Sorry to disappoint, but you really can't get around the fact that the TULIP issues, Calvin and Aquinas and Augustine are in far more agreement than disagreement.

>>If were's going to talk apostasy, we might as well get to the heart of the matter which is what is Christianity. Christianity cannot be some ever changing theology.<<

Then why do you believe in a church that routinely changes ("develops") its theology, adding doctrines that have no basis in either scripture or tradition?

>> It didn't start out correct, fail and then was magically discovered again in 1,400.<<

Agreed. But here you're assuming that the Roman Catholic church was the church that "started out correct." I don't share your view of history. Yours is an apostate church that long ago stopped preaching the gospel. But *the* church has never failed. It's always been there. For wherever the Word of God is preached and wherever there are believers, there is the one, true church that Christ founded.

Anonymous said...

Calvin wrote a lot. Have you read his works?

Do you disagree with the 5 points of Calvinism? If so, which ones?

cwdlaw223 said...

Michael -

Augustine and Aquinas lived and died Roman Catholics steeped in sacerdotal worship. Augustine and Aquinas are so far removed from Calvin that only someone who is delusional (which I used to be) would try to use the back of Rome to create a new religion known as Protestantism out of thin air

Assume that Rome as an apostate church from the beginning. Where is this Church and/or body of believers in history from Pentecost until the Reformation that got it right? Where is there any historical evidence that someone believes like you do? There has to be some evidence and you most certainly should be able to point to a church in history and name it. You don't even recognize that before Calvin there was no TULIP being preached. That means that there was no true gospel being preached for 1,400 years.

You can't and you know it. Where is this Church/body of believers in history that believes in a non-sacerdotal form of worship?

Adding doctrines? You mean like the doctrine of the Trinity that was formed and given through Rome? You have no idea what you're talking about when it comes to Rome. You want a world where you can reject Rome and be your own pope/priest/church and have Christ on your own terms, not his.



cwdlaw223 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clint said...

Steve:

I do not recall mentioning your Baptism. All of us have valid Baptisms. :)

You wrote, "And if Christ didn't accomplish everything n that cross for us, then we all are in big trouble."

I totally agree with you! He accomplished everything. We have the forgiveness of sins and the new life in Christ, for our faith is in Him.

You also wrote, "We just aren't up to the task of cleaning ourselves up. In fact...we usually make matters much worse when we try."

If by 'cleaning ourselves up' you mean attempting to make satisfaction for our every sin in order to avoid eternal death, then I fully agree. Our Saviour did it on our behalf. However, if you mean it's not up to us to turn away from sin, avoid the works of the flesh/world, and to love one another in heart, word, and deed, then I disagree. These things are intimately tied to our Baptism according to Romans 6. Jesus said in John 15:5, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." Those fruits are repentance, love, and well-doing.

We do not have to be 100% perfect in this life. It's impossible, and we know it. All our Lord asks is that we trust in Him, turn away from sin, and love one another. Don't worry about the number of good works you do. A faithful heart with the love of the Holy Spirit in it will naturally demand the members of the body to do what is right.

Yours in Christ,
- Clint

Pax Tecum.

cwdlaw223 said...

Michael -

You stated: Then why do you believe in a church that routinely changes ("develops") its theology, adding doctrines that have no basis in either scripture or tradition?

Rome does not routinely change is theology. It might become more refined, but the essential basis of the theology doesn't change.

So what doctrine has no basis in scripture or tradition? How about you name one? (Protestants have no tradition unless it's stolen from Rome).

The one doctrine that has no basis in scripture or tradition is sola scriptura so you should be careful about slinging around such statements.

Where are these non-sacerdotal true believers in history? WHERE? Not one Protestant can answer this question, let alone tie these "true believers" from Pentecost until the Reformation when I can only presume you believe the Church was restored with the "true" gospel.

cwdlaw223 said...

Anonymous -

Read this article about Christ allegedly dying for the elect:

http://catholicdefense.blogspot.com/2011/05/did-christ-die-for-all-or-just-many.html

I'm not going to get into debating ever heresy stated by Calvin.

Anonymous said...

cwdlaw223,
The reason you won't debate Calvinism is because you don't know what its about. Sad.

cwdlaw223 said...

I'm a former Calvinist and drank the poison of RC Sproul for years. You have no idea what you talk about. There's so much heresy by Calvin that it would take awhile. In the end, Calvinism preaches Church failure and a gospel message that is just as dangerous as Mormonism or all the other man made religions off the back of Catholicism. If Christ failed with Rome, he was a liar and certainly not the Messiah.

cwdlaw223 said...

The reason you avoid history is because it's sacerdotal to the core with none of the man made concepts such as sola Scriptura, sola Fide, etc. to skew scripture and allow you to be your own priest, pope or church. You know Christ created a physical church on this earth and if this physical church failed then Christ failed. You know the Mass preceded a lot of scripture and yet the Mass was an abomination according to Calvin. You 'be deluded yourself into thinking you are intellectually superior to men who studied directly under the Apostles or one person away. You turn away from Christ like the followers did in John 6.

Why not be Mormon? At least they admit the Church failed (but was corrected by Joseph Smith and new revelation).

Steve Martin said...

"The entire life of the Christian is one of repentance."

- Luther

"All of our righteous deeds are as filthy rags".

The O.T. - Isaiah

It's ALL Jesus.

But that's ok. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Not after we cleaned up our acts.

cwdlaw223 said...

Steve -

You espouse a form of easy believeism. It's not just Jesus, you have to respond to grace and make some effort/work. Most people don't want to hear about how hard it is to be Christian life and they must constantly work at living a Christian given the pull of sin. You espouse a world where only your mind/thoughts count. That's easy believeism!!!

The fact that I can do any good work is by the grace of God. Luther was a mad man and liberal/progressive who gave the masses what they wanted which is freedom for selfishness and pride. That's the allure of the poison known as Protestantism. You can feel like you're Christian without any connection to Orthodoxy and history. A new religion made out of thin air.

If Christ failed with Rome he's a liar and not the Messiah.

Clint said...

Steve:

Allow me to show you that passage in Isaiah.

"4 From of old we have not heard, neither have our eyes seen a God beside thee, and thy works which thou wilt perform to them that wait for mercy. 5 For these blessings shall happen to them that work righteousness, and they shall remember thy ways: behold, thou wast angry and we have sinned; therefore we have erred, 6 and we are all become as unclean, and all our righteousness as a filthy rag: and we have fallen as leaves because of our iniquities; thus the wind shall carry us away." - Isaiah 64:4-6

Look carefully at the end of verse 4 and at the beginning of verse 5. Those who wait for God's mercy are those who work righteousness. This is affirmed throughout the Old and New Testaments.

St. Paul wrote, "11 For the grace of God our Savior hath appeared to all men; 12 Instructing us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly, and justly, and godly in this world, 13 Looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ." - Titus 2:11-13

Those who wait for the Second Advent of the Lord Jesus, waiting for His good judgment and the entry into His Father's Kingdom, live soberly, justly, and godly lives.

Returning to the passage in Isaiah, look at the end of verse 5 and all of verse 6. Isaiah was not stating that all the good works of all human beings are as filthy rags. He was simply stating that his people sinned so badly that they angered God and their righteousness became as a filthy garment or rag. Otherwise, what would be the point of Jesus having given himself to redeem from all iniquity and to purify a people for himself who are zealous for good deeds (Titus 2:14)? Why should we be zealous for good deeds if each one of them is polluted?

You wrote, "It's ALL Jesus."

And as I wrote in a previous comment, He made satisfaction for sins on our behalf and was raised for our justification. Therefore, we have the free forgiveness of sins and we are new creatures in Him who love one another. So yeah, let the one who boasts boast in the Lord!

But, as cwdlaw233 wrote, you have to respond to grace and make some effort. "It's ALL Jesus," if taken quite literally, is a bad view. What good would the atonement do for you unless you put your faith in the one who did it on your behalf (Romans 3:23-25)? How would you enter the Kingdom unless you do the will of your new Father (Matthew 7:21)?

Jesus made reconciliation with the Father and entrance into Heaven available for you. God is love, and only those who love will be with Him. The Father's will is that we love one another, as Jesus commands us.

Have a pleasant Lord'd Day.

Pax tecum.

Anonymous said...

No one can come to Christ unless the Father draws. No one can believe in Christ unless the Spirit gives that person the faith to believe. It is all of God in salvation.

John W said...

Honestly Steve.

Have you ever heard "a text without a context is a pretext"?

Isaiah is speaking of apostate Israel.

Nick said...

Wow, lots of responses on this thread. I'm trying to catch up on reading them all.

Michael asked me:
"Would a Calvinist say a genuine Christian could commit it [apostasy]? I don't see why not. We would simply say that no true Christian (i.e., the elect) ever dies in this state."

It's impossible in Calvinism for a believer to lose faith for even a second. A believer can backslide, even severely for a long period, but at no point does this affect his justification.


Michael also said:
"You seem to believe that we believe they are only hypothetical. I honestly have no idea what leads you to that conclusion."

Because the believer in virtue of his regeneration, justification, and sanctification will be producing good works and gradually lose desire to commit such sins. Such grave sins mark out who is unregenerate. So the texts are hypothetical warnings in that no regenerate - by definition - will ever violate them.


You also asked me:
"I'm not sure I understand why you think our rejection of that distinction leads to problems for us regarding apostasy. Could you walk me through your reasoning on that one more time."

The reason is because all sins are equally damnable in Calvinism, which erases any principled distinction between the sins Paul lists and any other unmentioned sin. So when Paul warns against committing adultery, the Calvinist might very well avoid that sin. But the Calvinist cannot avoid every type of sin 24/7, meaning he falls into some sin at least once a day. And since all sins are equally damnable, the Calvinist is committing just as damnable of a sin as an unregenerate committing adultery. If living in open adultery is a mark of someone outside God's favor, how is that any less apostate living than a regenerate Calvinist who commits small faults throughout the day which are nonetheless just as damnworthy as open adultery?


As for your questions on Christ's atonement. Yes, Jesus died to atone for all sins, mortal, venial, and original sin. But a Protestant cannot understand what this means if they don't follow the Bible, specifically the Bible's teaching on what it means to make atonement. Protestants don't know what the Bible's definition of atonement is, so they unwittingly project a man-made definition. Did you read the article that cwdlaw linked to?

Anonymous said...

Nick,
It is incorrect to claim that " Protestants don't know what the Bible's definition of atonement is, so they unwittingly project a man-made definition."
Here is what atonement means and how the Bible uses it:
"In the OT, atonement is mainly expressed by the verb kāphar, whose root meaning is “to cover over.” In secular use, for example, Noah “covered over” the woodwork of the ark with pitch (Gen.6.14). The noun related to this verb, kōpher, while it has its secular use (Gen.6.14; niv “pitch”), is mainly used of the ransom price that “covers” an offense—not by sweeping it out of sight but by making an equivalent payment so that the offense has been actually and exactly paid for (e.g., Exod.30.12, “ransom”; Num.35.31; Ps.49.7; Isa.43.3). Arising from this use of the noun, one whole section of the verb (in Heb. the Piel and Pual forms, kippēr and kuppar) came to be set aside to express only the idea of removing offense by equivalent payment and so bringing the offender and the offended together. The only secular uses of this word (in Gen.32.20; Lev.5.16; Lev.16.30, Lev.16.33; Lev.17.11) show also that the means of atonement—the actual price paid as equivalent to the sin committed—was the sacrificial blood, the life laid down in death.".......

"In Christian theology, atonement is the central doctrine of faith and can properly include all that Jesus accomplished for us on the cross. It was a vicarious (substitutionary) atonement. On the Day of Atonement, the goat that was substituted was in some sense not as valuable as a person, though the goat had never sinned; but God in his matchless grace provided a Substitute who was infinitely better than the sinner, absolutely sinless and holy, and dearer to the Father than all creation. “The wages of sin is death” (Rom.6.23) and “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2Cor.5.21)." http://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/atonement

Nick said...

Ralph,

That's an excellent and 100% true Biblical definition of atonement. But it also contradicts PSub 100%, since never does atonement mean to transfer a punishment. It means to offer up something as a sufficient price to make up for an offense.

Most Protestants don't know that definition of atonement, and even those who do end up ignoring it in favor of a man-made (i.e. transferring punishment) definition anyway.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>It's impossible in Calvinism for a believer to lose faith for even a second. A believer can backslide, even severely for a long period, but at no point does this affect his justification.<<

Agreed. If, however, apostasy is falling away fron the faith (as in falling away from fellowship and repudiating one's beliefs), then I don't see why this can't be a temporary arrangement. In other words, where do we draw the line between backsliding and apostasy? Or are they the same thing?

Personally, I don't see a distinction between them except perhaps in terms of degree. Two people can look "apostate." If one dies, we say he was apostate. If one repents, we say he was "backslidden."

Therefore, I don't see why apostasy can''t be committed and later repented of, unless apostasy is by definition a sin that cannot be repented of.


Nick>>Because the believer in virtue of his regeneration, justification, and sanctification will be producing good works and gradually lose desire to commit such sins. Such grave sins mark out who is unregenerate. So the texts are hypothetical warnings in that no regenerate - by definition - will ever violate them.<<

No, Nick. We believe the warnings are real, which is why they have the power to keep us from disobeying them. If they were only hypothetical, they would have no teeth.

Your confusion, it seems to me, is that you're mixing up the orders of knowing and being. In the order of being, no regenerate person will fail to heed the warnings. In the order of knowing, however, we simply do not know for certain who the regenerate are. This is why the warnings are real--for one can really never know who will/will not heed them.

Another way of getting at the problem is this way: We have apriori knowledge that the elect cannot be deceived (and so die in an apostate state). But we only have aposteriori knowleddge of who the elect are. Thus it is not the warnings that are hypothetical, but rather our certainty concerning the identity of the elect.


Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>The reason is because all sins are equally damnable in Calvinism, which erases any principled distinction between the sins Paul lists and any other unmentioned sin. So when Paul warns against committing adultery, the Calvinist might very well avoid that sin. But the Calvinist cannot avoid every type of sin 24/7, meaning he falls into some sin at least once a day. And since all sins are equally damnable, the Calvinist is committing just as damnable of a sin as an unregenerate committing adultery. If living in open adultery is a mark of someone outside God's favor, how is that any less apostate living than a regenerate Calvinist who commits small faults throughout the day which are nonetheless just as damnworthy as open adultery?<<

I think I've lost the thread of this particular discussion. Yes, we think all sin is mortal (I think this is what you're saying). Yes, we continue to sin even after regeneration (Simul justus et pecator). No, our post-regenerational sins are not counted against us; rather we are the blessed ones to whom the Lord imputes no guilt. That's the gospel, bro. Embrace it.

Nick>>As for your questions on Christ's atonement. Yes, Jesus died to atone for all sins, mortal, venial, and original sin.<<

Good. And so if a Christian commits apostasy, would you say Christ has atoned for this sin? If so, then how can the Christian be lost? And if he is lost (or has to suffer in purgatory), then how is it *not* a travesty of justice for Christ to have born that sin on the cross, when the Trinity knew full well that the sinner himself would have to make personal atonement for that sin, either in purgatory or in hell?

Nick>>But a Protestant cannot understand what this means if they don't follow the Bible, specifically the Bible's teaching on what it means to make atonement.<<

Which you have grossly misrepresented by giving a very one-sided interpretation, when scripture gives us a very multi-faceted understanding of the atonement, but I digress...

Nick>> Did you read the article that cwdlaw linked to?<<

Yep. Like I said, it's one-sided. It's one long either/or fallacy: either Christ made satisfaction by paying a price (which Protestants affirm) or he made satisfaction by taking our punishment (which we also affirm, but which you reject).

Nick said...

Michael,

From a Reformed perspective, apostasy would refer to losing faith, which is impossible, where as backsliding would refer to (temporarily) turning back to a life of sin. Apostasy is an impossible category in the Reformed system, since it is never possible to LOSE faith. Once regenerate, always regenerate.

If a person who looks "apostate" dies, the Reformed don't say they were apostate, but rather they were never saved in the FIRST place.

In the Biblical/Catholic view, where salvation can be lost, then a person can be apostate temporarily, and after repenting we'd call it backsliding.

The very reason why the Gospel is so "refreshing" for Calvinism is because every Calvinist knows their salvation cannot be lost. They know it's not up to themselves to save themselves. A Calvinist knows that no matter what slip ups they might have along the way, their salvation is secure, because it's not based on what they do. The very idea that salvation could be in jeopardy by any sin is a repudiation of the very Gospel they originally affirmed.

If you are trying to say that it's impossible to know whether you yourself are part of the elect, then I'd agree with you, but then there goes the entire Reformation

Onto your second post, since every sin is mortal, the only thing that really differentiates the unbeliever committing mortal sins throughout the day versus a believer committing mortal sins throughout the day is God not imputing the guilt to the believers.

So when Paul says "I say that whomever does these sins will not inherit the kingdom," the point isn't that Calvinists are avoiding these sins, but rather that God simply wont impute guilt to them when they commit them.

You asked me: "And so if a Christian commits apostasy, would you say Christ has atoned for this sin? If so, then how can the Christian be lost?"

This depends on how you're defining "atone". If you define it according to Calvinism, then what you're saying is Jesus took the punishment for sin X, so the punishment for sin X can never be inflicted on the believer. That makes perfect sense and that's where Limited Atonement comes from.

But if you're defining atonement according to Scripture, then it's not about a punishment being transferred. Rather it's about restoring favor, and with favor restored the possibility of forgiveness is opened up for all those who would repent. So in making atonement, Jesus opened up the channel between man and God for forgiveness to take place, conditioned upon repenting.

The Bible never ever speaks of atonement in terms transfer of guilt/punishment. So that's a completely man-made doctrine, and a very dangerous one at that. The whole reformation really comes down to different views of the Cross.

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>From a Reformed perspective, apostasy would refer to losing faith, which is impossible, where as backsliding would refer to (temporarily) turning back to a life of sin.<<

I disagree. Apostasy means "falling away" from fellowship, or repudiating beliefs, not loosing "faith" as in the gift of faith to believe in Christ as Lord.

Many can and do turn away from Jesus and fellowship and even renounce beliefs *temporarily.* As I've said many times before, Reformed theology does not deny that we have the natural ability to apostatize; rather we say that God will prevent the elect from finally doing so. In other words, none of the elect will die as apostates.

Nick>>Apostasy is an impossible category in the Reformed system, since it is never possible to LOSE faith. Once regenerate, always regenerate.<<

But we don't define apostasy as the loss of regeneration. You're confusing categories here.

Nick>>If a person who looks "apostate" dies, the Reformed don't say they were apostate, but rather they were never saved in the FIRST place.<<

We say both. Scripture describes our churches as being filled with both true and "false brothers." False brothers can and do "fall away" (apostatize). If they die, then we know they were never regenerate in the first place. If they repent, and are restored to fellowship, then we we would probably interpret their "apostasy" as "backsliding." But what is the substantive difference between the two? I certainly don't know.

Nick>>In the Biblical/Catholic view, where salvation can be lost, then a person can be apostate temporarily, and after repenting we'd call it backsliding.<<

You've just described the opposite of what you're claiming: Since the person repented, then clearly he never "lost" his salvation, as if the Good Shepherd could ever lose any of those whom the Father has given him.

continued...

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>>The very reason why the Gospel is so "refreshing" for Calvinism is because every Calvinist knows their salvation cannot be lost. They know it's not up to themselves to save themselves.<<

We believe that we *will* never lose our salvation because we first believe that God has promised not to let that happen. What we cannot say with infallible certitude is that we are elect.

Nick>> A Calvinist knows that no matter what slip ups they might have along the way, their salvation is secure, because it's not based on what they do.<<

Preach it! It's based on what God does and his fidelity. If we look to ourselves, we are lost. Our assurance is based on he who has promised to keep us firm to the end.

Nick>>The very idea that salvation could be in jeopardy by any sin is a repudiation of the very Gospel they originally affirmed.<<

Right. If there is a sin that could undo salvation, then it's not salvation.

Nick>>If you are trying to say that it's impossible to know whether you yourself are part of the elect, then I'd agree with you, but then there goes the entire Reformation<<

Which only shows your ignorance of the Reformers. The elect are known but to God alone.

Nick>>Onto your second post, since every sin is mortal, the only thing that really differentiates the unbeliever committing mortal sins throughout the day versus a believer committing mortal sins throughout the day is God not imputing the guilt to the believers.<<

Yep. The wrath of God remains on those who do not believe. John 3:36, baby.

Nick>>So when Paul says "I say that whomever does these sins will not inherit the kingdom," the point isn't that Calvinists are avoiding these sins, but rather that God simply wont impute guilt to them when they commit them.<<

Not at all. Paul is warning the Corinthian church in which there are both true believers and false brothers, just like very church. For the true believer (the elect) the warnings function as the means by which they will avoid such sins. The elect heed the warnings, ultimately. For the false brothers (the ones still practicing such sins), the warnings are an indictment showing that they will not inherit the kingdom, not that they have lost their inheritance (which they never had to begin with).

Remember that Paul also says, "such were some of you" (1 Cor 6:11), meaning that he is also writing to those who have been declared righteous. Those who practice the vices he lists are called "unrighteous," i.e., the false brothers within Corinth (such as the incestuous brother of chapter 5). But he also has in mind true believers who have been "washed, sanctified and justified." These he warns precisely because it is within their ability to commit such vices. But it is also within God's power to prevent them from doing so and to restore them if they do. That's the piece you're forgetting--you know--the Gospel!

Michael Taylor said...

Nick>><><< ...But if you're defining atonement according to Scripture, then it's not about a punishment being transferred. Rather it's about restoring favor, and with favor restored the possibility of forgiveness is opened up for all those who would repent. So in making atonement, Jesus opened up the channel between man and God for forgiveness to take place, conditioned upon repenting.<<

Your very unbiblical theory amounts to an atonement that doesn't actually atone, but only has the potential to do so so long as something else is added to it.

Nick>>The Bible never ever speaks of atonement in terms transfer of guilt/punishment. So that's a completely man-made doctrine, and a very dangerous one at that. The whole reformation really comes down to different views of the Cross.<<

Here is where you err. Not every facet of the atonement has to do with guilt-transfer, which is why it is easy to knock down this straw man by arguing as if this is what the Reformation taught. But in point of fact there are many passages that clearly teach penal substitutionary atonement. By the way, vicarious atonement is not a Protestant-only concept--no more so than is unconditional election, as Thomas and Augustine taught.

RCs usually speak in terms of "vicarious atonement or satisfaction." While this is not quite the same thing as PSA, there is quite a bit of overlap. Unfortunately, too many RCs and Arminians distort PSA into a caricature and then attack the caricature as if this were our position. Not only is this uncharitable on your part; it also inadvertently undercuts those in your own tradition who teach substantively the same thing.

Jesus' atonement is "vicarious" in the sense that it is made on behalf of another who rightfully deserved the punishment required for sin. (This is the "penal" part of PSA). Jesus' atonement is also satisfactory in that it propitiates wrath. God's justice must be satisfied. Jesus' atonement provides that satisfaction. But how are the benefits of that atonement applied to the believer apart from imputation? I can think of no way for us to be spared the guilt due to sin unless God has sovereignly chosen not to impute it to us. But it is not enough to simply overlook guilt (by not imputing it to us); rather the guilt must be satisfied (as justice demands). This Christ has done on our behalf, not simply making it *possible* to be forgiven, but to *actually* forgive those for whom he offers his work on the cross as an atoning sacrifice.

Nick said...

Michael,

The basic distinction is that I believe apostasy entails a loss of faith and thus a loss of salvation, even if only temporary. In the Reformed view, it doesn't matter how 'bad' a regenerate believer backslides, they never lose their salvation.

So when Paul says Alexander and his friend "made a shipwreck of their faith" (1 Tim 1:19), this is to be understood as loss of faith and loss of salvation, even if they miraculously/graciously recover it later on. In the Reformed view, these men either were simply being disciplined without affecting their salvation, or they were never saved in the first place.

You said:
"You've just described the opposite of what you're claiming: Since the person repented, then clearly he never "lost" his salvation"

A person can fall into grave sin, lose their salvation (justification), and not get it back unless they repent. Think of salvation as being in relationship with God. If you leave that relationship, you lose salvation.

You said:
"What we cannot say with infallible certitude is that we are elect."

As I've said before, you're one of the few Reformed who will say this. Most Reformed would never say this, and for good reason. If you cannot know if you're elect or not, you're in a worse position than Catholicism, and there is nothing comforting whatsoever about your Gospel if you cannot know if Jesus died for you.

The ONLY way the Gospel can be relevant in any sense to you is if you believe Jesus died for you. If you do, then you must assume you're elect. If you say you cannot know, then there is no Gospel.

You said:
" For the true believer (the elect) the warnings function as the means by which they will avoid such sins. The elect heed the warnings, ultimately."

But the Believer is committing mortal sins throughout his life, even every day. Every time you commit the "tiniest" sin you're offending an infinitely holy God, and thus the only thing keeping you out of hell is God's gracious non-imputation.

Let's say you have a roommate who is an unbeliever and is fornicating with his girlfriend. The sin he's doing will exclude him from Heaven. But let's say you lied to him about how big of a fish you caught on your fishing trip. That lie is just as grave and deserving of hell as his fornication. So the idea he is committing grave sin while you are not is simply untrue.


You said:
"Your very unbiblical theory amounts to an atonement that doesn't actually atone, but only has the potential to do so so long as something else is added to it."

It atones, but one does not share in the benefits of the atonement unless they repent. What you are espousing is salvation apart from repentance and faith, since those would be 'human conditions'. This is why some Reformed theologians have taught Eternal Justification, where an elect person is justified the moment they're born since Jesus already atoned for their sins.


You said:
"But in point of fact there are many passages that clearly teach penal substitutionary atonement."

This is the clincher, because I completely deny that. I don't believe there is a SINGLE indisputable passage teaching PSub. None. And without that, you cannot say there are 'other facets'. Each 'facet' must be individually biblically verifiable. Otherwise, I could make up anything, even say one 'facet' of Jesus' atonement was free pizza for the elect.

Steve Finnell said...

APOSTASY DENIAL?

Apostasy denial is one of Satan many deceptions.
Satan told Eve that she would not die if she ate from the forbidden tree. Eve ate and died, and Satan is still lying today.

Hebrews 6:4-6 When you find men who have been enlightened, who have experienced salvation and received the Holy Spirit, who have known the wholesome nourishment of the Word of God and touched the spiritual resources of the eternal world and who then fall away, it proves impossible to make them repent as they did at first. For they are re-crucifying the Son of God in their own souls, and by their conduct exposing him to shame and contempt.(The New Testament in Modern English by J.B. Phillips)

Hebrews 6:4-6 But what about people who turn away after they have already seen the light and have received the gift from heaven and have shared in the Holy Spirit? What about those who turn away after they have received the good message of God and the powers of the future world? There is no way to bring them back. What they are doing is the same as nailing the Son of God to a cross and insulting him in public!(Contemporary English Version)

Hebrews 6:4-6 After people have left the way of Christ, can you make them change their lives again? I am talking about people who once learned the truth, received God’s gift, and shared in the Holy Spirit. They were blessed to hear God’s good message and see the great power of his new world. But then they left it all behind, and it is not possible to make them change again. That’s because those who leave Christ are nailing him to the cross again, shaming him before everyone.(ERV-Easy to Read Version)

Hebrews 6:4-6 It is impossible to restore the changed heart of the one who has fallen from faith—who has already been enlightened, has tasted the gift of new life from God, has shared in the power of the Holy Spirit, and has known the goodness of God’s revelation and the powers of the coming age. If such a person falls away, it’s as though that one were crucifying the Son of God all over again and holding Him up to ridicule.(THE VOICE)

It takes a skilled professional, and willing subjects, to convince men that apostasy does not apply to Christians.

YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY CHRISTIAN BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com