Omnibus Reply

Doug Wilson has taken up the discussion again in three posts, responding to my three posts. I will respond in one post, so as to make things a bit easier.

In the first post, Doug talks about the visible/invisible (v/i) church distinction as being a different distinction than the historical/eschatological (h/e) distinction. Great. I’m glad we agree on this. My position is that Doug has changed his position. In the 2002 AAPC lectures, Doug talked about tipping over the v/i distinction on its (diachronical) side, and voila, you get the h/e distinction. Forgive us for thinking that the h/e distinction (in the minds of the FV) was then supposed to supplant, not merely supplement, the v/i distinction. What does “tipping over on its side” mean but elimination of the v/i distinction? Now, keep in mind that I claimed that Doug’s position has changed. After all, we did admit (even in a retraction!) that Doug does believe in the v/i distinction. But I would argue that Doug did not articulate that in RINE, or in the 2002 AAPC lectures. Certainly, the trend in his thought at that time was towards the elimination, or at the very least, the down-playing of the v/i distinction in favor of the h/e distinction. That being said, I have this question: what Reformed theologian has ever denied that the church is militans and triumphans? I often get the impression that the FV folk get it into their head that there is an imbalance somewhere in Reformed theology, and then they seek to correct it. There are two problems with this. The first is that usually there is no such imbalance. It is an imagined imbalance. The second problem is that there is a tendency to over-correction. However, I must take issue with this quotation:

Well, another way of saying largely the same thing is to describe the visible church as the church throughout history, and the church of all the regenerate as the eschatological church.

Despite the qualifier “largely,” this quotation still assumes way more overlap between the v/i distinction and the h/e distinction than is warranted. Here are some important differences between the two distinctions: one is synchronic, and the other diachronic. That is, one is a cross-section of the current church, whereas the other is not a cross-section at all, but rather a view of the progressive, unfolding character of the church. Secondly, the v/i distinction has to do with the church as composed of individuals, either elect or non-elect, whereas the h/e distinction has to do with the church as a whole as it matures and has its wrinkles gradually eliminated. Thirdly, the v/i distinction has to do with a straight verticle line (reaching from heaven to earth) separating the believers from the non-believers, whereas the h/e distinction has to do with a ramp upon which the church travels from this world to the next. The only point of similarity between the two distinctions, in fact, is that both distinctions look at the same church, which is one, not two. But they are completely different perspectives, not largely the same.

I agree with Lane entirely that the position of the Baptist proper is to define the visible church as consisting of the regenerate only. But what we mean when we talk about “baptyerians,” for example, is that the same logic in presbyterian circles draws the same kind of line at the Lord’s Table, and not at the Font.

Maybe I can get at the real issue by asking this question: given that the vast majority of the Reformed world in its entire history has not been paedo-communion, is it even remotely fair to say that Reformed folk who are not paedo-communionists are also Baptistic in their thinking when it comes to the Table? Doug goes on to claim that “Lane believes that the standard for communicant membership in the visible church is a regenerate status.” I have never said this, and in fact do not believe this, nor do most Presbyterians of whom I am aware. The standard for communicant membership in the visible church is a credible profession of faith. Note the very key difference between those two things. That is the difference between Baptists and Presbyterians when it comes to the table. Presbyterians freely admit that many children are Christians from a very early age (I would argue that it is possible for them to be regenerate in the womb, though I would not want to presume that). But the church has to be the body that discerns this as well as it can do so. The only that can happen is by talking with the child, and asking them about their heart. All the church can go on is a profession of faith (which is, of course, connected to their baptisms). But since so many who are baptized are not regenerate, it is not unreasonable at all to require a profession of faith. This is not Baptistic.

The second post deals pretty much with the law-gospel hermeneutic. Doug says that he agrees with the law/gospel distinction as it applies to the human heart, but not with the law/gospel hermeneutic that separates one verse into law, and another verse into gospel. In other words, the distinction is not in the text, but in the application to the human heart. Doug seems to give the impression that I didn’t understand this before. I really think I did. Now let me say that of course I agree that the law/gospel distinction affects the human heart, and is a part of the application of a text. Where we disagree is in saying that the distinction is also in the text. In the Reformed theologians, I would point to these three articles (part 1, part 2, part 3, and also to Scott Clarks’s posts on the topic) which prove fairly conclusively that the law/gospel hermeneutic is Reformed. And if you look carefully, you will also see that these quotations come out of their exegesis of texts, not from thin air. Given this state of affairs, I think that the burden of proof does not rest with me to show that the Law/Gospel hermeneutic is scriptural or Reformed. It is the burden of the FV to show that it is neither Reformed nor scriptural. Now, to anticipate Doug’s reply, he will probably say that most, if not all, the quotations do not deal with the interpretation of Scripture, but rather with the application to the heart. I will simply reply that such a distinction did not exist in the time of the Reformers. Therefore, discussions about the law/Gospel distinction apply also to how they read their Bibles.

The third post argues that I have completely misunderstood the FV definition of covenant. My exact words were: “The covenant of grace is undifferentiated between the elect and the non-elect (used in a decretal sense). This is the FV definition of the covenant.” Doug argues that I have thereby completely misunderstood the FV position on this, and cites his own position as rebuttal. Let me talk about ale for a moment. The pale ale (self-described) tells the world that the dark ale is really pale ale when it comes toa particular issue. On the one hand, it accuses the world of never differentiating among the various ales, and then complains when the world does in fact differentiate among the various ales. When ale is attacked as being dark, the pale ale defends the dark ale by pointing to itself, claiming non-differentiation. However, at other times, when the world says that all ale is ale, the pale ale says that the world hasn’t been nearly careful enough in its distinctions. Which is it? It should have been clear (with the retraction made earlier about the v/i distinction within the church, which has to do with decretal election) to Doug that I recognize that his position is that the church is made up of believers and unbelievers. Therefore, when one connects the dots, I am differentiating his position from the other FV’ers on this point. For instance, I have read or listened to almost everything of importance to the FV in Steve Wilkins’s literary and auditory output. When he is not being pressed on his position, he argues that there is no distinction between the decretally elect and the non-decretally elect within the covenant. What is true of the one is true of the other, head for head (see his church Sunday School lectures on the covenant). When pressed on his position, however, he will admit a distinction without a difference by asserting that there is a distinction between the elect and the non-elect in the covenant. However, for the life of him, he can NEVER articulate what that difference is. He has never done so. Ever. It wouldn’t be that one is regenerated and the other isn’t, would it? No, that would be way too simple and direct. Instead, he abuses John 15 to say that what is true of one is true of all.

Lastly, let me just put forth my understanding of John 15. A knowledge of horticulture is handy here. There are branches that are called “suckers.” They grow straight up, never bear fruit, and simply steal away sap from the productive branches. They are parasitic, not vital. The fundamental point in John 15 is NOT the undifferentiated nature of the branches, but rather the contrast between the kinds of branches, namely, that some are fruit-bearing by their very nature, and others are not. John 15 never deals with mere branches without qualification. The branches are of two types: fruit-bearing and non-fruit-bearing. The point of John 15 is not that non-fruit-bearing branches have a vital relationship to Christ, but rather that they are as good as dead (vs 6). The FV’ers over-read the phrase ἐν ἐμοὶ to make it say something of which it cannot bear the weight. One cannot harp on the “in me” phrase to the exclusion of everything else in the passage, which clearly differentiates between fruit-bearing and non-fruit-bearing. We can ask the question this way: what constitutes life in John 15? Is it sap, or is it fruit? It is clearly the latter.

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97 Comments

  1. tim prussic said,

    November 20, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Pr. Lane, good first post response. I’m looking forward to Pr. Wilson’s answers to your questions.

    Second post: I agree with you that the law/gospel distinction in the person is an application of the text. I also agree with Pr. Wilson that the distinction the Bible often speaks of IS that application, not the hermeneutic. I think you can clearly see from Pr. Wilson’s second post that he’s reacting to a fairly narrow view of the l/g hermeneutic. He doesn’t like the sorting out of individual verses into two piles – frankly, neither do I. I think a more workable notion of the l/g hermeneutic is something along the lines of mood analysis: imperative tends to equal law and indicative tends to equal gospel. Or, more simply, what God demands of us is law and what he’s done for us is gospel. If we approach is in a descriptive fashion and less of a prescriptive one, I think that you and Pr. Wilson will find you’re much closer that you might think at present. The funny little issue that flows from that is how is one to take the command to believe the gospel? Clearly that is law. The “gospel” aspect of that must be that God gives faith… just a thought.

    FWIW, in my experience, the l/g hermeneutic has come across to me (from Westminster West guys specifically) as quite strong-armed, synthetic, and imposed upon the text. I can remember multiple profs from WW during a week-long conference about 10 years ago saying that one of the first things one does as one approaches a text of Scripture is to ask oneself, “Is this law or is this gospel.” That hit me sideways and frankly turned me off to the l/g hermeneutic; it felt very imposed and non-organic. I’ve never been turned off, however, to the application of that distinction to individual people.

  2. Peter Jones said,

    November 20, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    Lane, I am not sure what Baptist would demand absolute knowledge of regeneration before allowing someone to the table. Most baptists I know would allow a credible profession of faith, which for them is usually followed by baptism, to be the entrance to the table.

  3. Peter Jones said,

    November 20, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    As for John 15, I am not sure what you are getting at. They are still branches that are cut off and thus must have been connected somehow or they are not branches at all. While the sucker analogy is nice, it is not in the text. Of course, some bear fruit and some do not. That is the differentiation between the branches in the end. But they all begin as branches. Some destined for fire, some for fruit, but all still branches.

    I attended a reformed seminary and the l/g distinction as Tim described it was there in full force. I think that perspective is what Pastor Wilson is attacking.

  4. Reed Here said,

    November 21, 2008 at 8:56 am

    Peter:

    I find Lane’s point helpful in understanding John 15. Note that by sucker branches Lane is not talking about a plant with a different root whose branches so intertwine with the vine that it is impossible to tell one from the other. No, the sucker branches are actually branches growing out of the vine.

    This is helpful because in view is, as the FV’ers say themselves, the covenantal relationship between Christ and those professing faith in Christ. All the branches, both fruit-bearing and non-fruit-bearing share the covenantal relationship with the vine. The FV, however, blurs (eliminates in some FV’ers) the distinction between a mere covenantal (physical-external only) relationship and a vital (spiritual-internal also) relationship. The FV wants to maintain that both kinds of branches have some degree or some kind of vital life-giving relationship with the Vine (Christ).

    The FV then puts the onus for lack of fruit on the branches, rather than on the lack of a vital relationship. This is another example of what is so frustrating when dealing with the FV. This blurring results in at least language that implies (states for some FV’ers) that the warning is to prove yourself to be a fruit-bearing branch, through some pursuit of obedience.

    I am aware that many FV’ers wil turn around and say, “no, the warning is to prove yourself a fruit-bearing branch by pursuing evangelical obedience, the gift of obedience given to those in vital relationship with Christ.” To which I will add my “amen,” and then ask why the necessity of the blurring, a blurring that leads to so many other problems in the FV project?

    Lane’s point is a good one. The sucker branches have a covenantal only relationship, they do grow out of the vine. Yet they are as good as dead, branches not connected to the vine. The warning is to not settle for for mere covenantal relationship with Christ, but to seek the vital relationship, to seek the fulfillment of the promise of new birth.

  5. curate said,

    November 22, 2008 at 4:14 am

    Hello Reed. A difficulty with your post 4 is that suckers are indeed vitally connected to the tree. The word vital means living, alive, lively, and a sucker is a living branch in that it receives the life-giving sap from the tree. It is dead in another biblical sense, namely, that it bears no fruit or seed. Abraham was dead in this sense when Isaac was born, as Paul teaches. So then, a sucker is a dead branch that is vitally connected to the tree.

  6. David Gadbois said,

    November 22, 2008 at 6:19 am

    I guess I don’t have much patience for the kind of theology that relies so heavily on the gospel parables, especially when it must read into the details of the parable of which the text makes no effort to interpret for us (either from the words of Jesus or the gospel writer). FV assumes that the “in me” language of John 15 must refer to a vital or existential union, rather than doing the legwork of using other Scripture to interpret Scripture. FV’s interpretation is just a lazy, surface-level reading of the text since the “in me” and “in Christ” language often is used in reference to vital/existential union, relying on the false assumption that this terminology is loaded with the same meaning in every instance of its NT usage.

    Romans 11 is the obvious parallel to the John 15 passage. But here Paul is talking about Israel being the broken-off branch. In what sense was Israel “in Christ”? Israel was the covenantal community or visible church of God. But if you’d been paying attention to Paul’s message in Romans up to that point, you’d know that all of Israel was not existentially or vitally united to God and Christ. Their union was covenental – “Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises.” But the recipients of those benefits, imputed to Israel in Romans 9, were NOT recipients of the Golden Chain benefits in Romans 8. Indeed, the very question that prompts Paul’s explanation of election in Romans 9 is “why doesn’t Israel have all of the great salvific blessings I was just talking about in Romans 8?” Wilkins missed the mark profoundly on this.

    Please, please, please, let Scripture interpret Scripture. It can’t be said enough.

  7. November 22, 2008 at 7:03 am

    I am just a wee lil’ lay person here, but I found Pastor Keister’s analogy of the suckers, and especially the elucidation of the analogy by Mr. Here very helpful – thank you both. And Mr. Gadbois’s admonition/reminder to let Scripture interpret Scripture, as the Reformers taught, and to not to overly literalize parables equally valuable.

    My concern, though, is that we don’t become “baptistic” in the sense of making the reality of the i/v church distinction and our practice of communicant membership cause us to preach doubt to our covenant children. As a father, I take pains to not err on the other side and preach presumption to my children.

    But it seems good and right to teach faith (as opposed to doubt): “you have been baptized; God’s promises are for you; Jesus loves you; your sins are forgiven through Christ — believe it!” I pray with my children in faith that God has forgiven them and that they are Christians. But I also pray with them that the Holy Spirit will indwell them, grant them life, and cause them to be holy as their Savior is holy. I don’t know if they have been regenerated (yet), but I hope they are, thus preaching faith, not doubt.

    It is on this score, among others, that I left a great Reformed Baptist church. The emphasis in teaching our children was very much on the side of doubt. And by that I mean the presumption was very much that they aren’t saved. But I happen to believe that God’s promises (“to me and my children…”) mean something.

    And this seemed to be what Michael Horton always used to teach, very much in line with Doug Wilson (leaving aside the paedocommunion question; and I don’t know Wilkins/Lusk enough to say). My fear is that TR presbyterian response to the FV sometimes seems, in rhetoric or in logical extension/implication of said rhetoric, to swing back towards preaching doubt as it concerns our children. Not saying this is intentional. But perhaps this is part of the impulse the FV is working against (and from reading Wilson, it certainly seems to be at least for him). Some/many of the FVers may have gone too far, leading to the error of presumption and/or of seeming to bring works into their soteriology. I don’t think Wilson is guilty of this, but perhaps others are (NAPARC certainly says so). My concern is that the response doesn’t swing back too far the other way, towards preaching the doubtful navel-gazing I saw in my previous Reformed Baptist circles. And my concern is that we don’t become so wooden in our teaching of i/v that we forget to preach about God’s promises to our children and about the need for parents and children alike to have faith (itself a gift from God, of course!) in those promises.

  8. Reed Here said,

    November 22, 2008 at 8:07 am

    No.5:

    Hey Roger. While I appreciate your point, no I don’t think that’s a problem. The problem is reading too much into the metaphor. This is a common mistake in reading metaphors in Scripture (parables in particular). Ordinarily a metaphor is intended to make one big point. Reading into the details, especially details not stated, only leads to problems.

    Remember too that Scriptural metaphors usually are a use of a material element to represent a spiritual realities. Of course there will be some disconnects; there is never a 1 to 1 correlation.

    Finally, as to the vital relation of the suckers, note two things: 1) that is not expressed in the passage, and 2) that contradicts what the Bible says elsewhere. While physical suckers may have a vital relation, covenantal only branches never do. We know this because the Scripture says so (e.g., John, “they went out from us because they never were of us.

  9. GLW Johnson said,

    November 23, 2008 at 9:10 am

    So Doug now thinks the ‘differences’ are resolved? Hmmm, I think it’s so groovy now that people are finally getting together-reach out in the darkness …

  10. curate said,

    November 23, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    no. 8.

    Reed, I certainly agree that there are people who are never vitally connected to the tree, and who are dead branches in the sense you describe from the word go. In my experience that describes the majority of baptized persons. However, Hebrews 6 and 10 describe the other scenario, where those who had been justified and sanctified fall away. IOW let us keep the range and diversity of Christian experience in mind. There are more than two diagnoses.

  11. Jonathan T said,

    November 23, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Eric – I am wondering how preaching to children with the intent that they do indeed confess Christ one day and are regenerated can be called preaching doubt? That surely wasn’t the preaching of the great Reformed / Calvinistic Baptist of the past like John Gill, C H Spurgeon, etc. Salvation for all of us is not to be found in looking backward (to baptism), inward (works), but outward to Christ … alone.

    You also say, “But I happen to believe that God’s promises (”to me and my children…”) mean something.” Why not quote the last of that promise: “…and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”? Does not God ‘call’ through the faithful proclaiming of His gospel whether to our children or to those “afar off”?

  12. Reed Here said,

    November 24, 2008 at 9:08 am

    No. 10:

    Thanks Roger for the reply. I remain convinced that the Scriptures describe only the two ways: covenant-vital connection or covenantal-only connnection. I think we’ve already gone over the exegesis of such passages as Heb. 6 & 10, and have disagreed on the nature of temporary faith (your take? a temporary version of the vital relation; my take a non-vital relation demonstrating similar but not the same characteristics as the vital relation).

    No disrespect intended at all Roger, but unless we’ve got some new exegesis to cover, I feel kind of like I’m debating the baptism issue with someone who’se already heard it all and just isn’t persuaded. :)

  13. curate said,

    November 24, 2008 at 10:09 am

    no. 12

    Following up a previous discussion, I now have volume I of Turretin’s Institutes. Volumes II and III still to come. Given the length of time it took to arrive, it will be many months yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if they wait ’til they have enough orders before doing a run.

  14. Reed Here said,

    November 24, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Wow! I didn’t know this was oop. Blessings of this season to you and yours Roger.

  15. David Weiner said,

    November 24, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Hi curate,

    I’ve been here sitting on my hands to avoid irritating you again on this subject of loss of salvation. So, I just kept reading what you and Reed were saying. Alas, my fingers got free . . . Something about fools rushing in, etc.

    Triggered by your post, I reread Hebrews 6 and would like to offer a somewhat different take on what the passage is presenting. A category of people is indeed being described there; they are truly saved individuals who lose their salvation. There is then no way back for them.

    I think that making the assumption, based on this passage, that there are actually people who fall into this category is a problem. The passage does not teach this. In fact in verse 9, the writer explicitly says that he is firmly convinced of better things, things, having to do with real salvation, for the people to whom he is writing. He intimates that this is his real view even though he has written in the previous verses about these hypothetical people who lose their salvation.

    Anyway, it might help me correct the errors of my thinking if you could just show me where in Scripture it teaches (other than in some figurative language) that there are actually real flesh and blood people in the category described in verse 4.

  16. November 24, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    I posted an extensive look at the orthodox Reformed view on John 15:2-8 in John 15:2 – The Same Sap? I also posted on falling away in Hebrews 6 in The Unregenerate in the Visible Church – Part 2, showing that both the author of Hebrews and Calvin relate it back to the Parable of the Sower.

    On paedocommunion, I wrote a number of posts, including Federal Vision and Paedocommunion and Federal Vision Lingastics. The latter posts directly addresses Federal Visionists’ absurd exposition of 1 Cor 11:28.

    As long as Federal Visionists exist in the PCA, this debate will not go away. Same erroneous stuff, different day.

  17. jared said,

    November 24, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    I’ll say the same thing(s) I said when Lane posted about the vine however many months ago: the issue isn’t whether unregenerate covenant members are in the vine, rather it is how deep their connection goes. I don’t care who the commentator is (be it Calvin or no), Jesus says “those branches in me…” so that is indisputable. You can finagle the metaphor/analogy however you want (vital vs non-vital, sap vs no sap, sucker branch vs non-sucker branch, “in the vine” vs “in the vine”, etc.), but there it is; unregenerates in the vine and summarily being cut off/out of it. While they may be in Him He is not in them and that is the important distinction. I’m not entirely sure what is controversial about this in particular, especially given that this is virtually identical to the visible/invisible church distinction. Are there unregenerates in the visible body? Yep. So what’s the problem with unregenerates in the vine? Is not the church the body of Jesus? In this metaphor an unregenerate is like a wart; sometimes easy to remove and sometimes not. But in the end the body will be without blemish, just as the vine will have only fruitful branches. This is a place (one of several) I feel like snub-nosed Reformers can actually learn from the Federal Vision project/conversation/controversy/boondoggle/whatever.

  18. Reed Here said,

    November 24, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Jared: the question is with how one defines the covenantal nature of the relationship that one has with Christ. Your use of the “wart” analogy doesn’t help answer this question.

    Does being in covenant mean that one is spiritually united to Christ in any degree, or is the nature of the relationship one of promise upon fulfilled condition?

    Your description here sounds like you are holding that to be in covenant means to have some nature of a spiritual union with Christ, albeit one by degrees so that the “dead branches” had little of Christ. This is the kind of construction (from the FV) that we believe goes against the express teaching of Scripture (e.g., they went out from us because they were never of us).

    A covenantal relationship is not the same as a spiritual relationship. The former is a promise of the latter, a sign and seal awaiting fulfillment of the conditions. In the case of one in the covenant of grace via baptism, the one baptized (in covenant relation with Christ) is awaiting the keeping ot the covenant’s terms by the Spirit in the work of regeneration-spiritual union with Christ. Until that occurs, the one in covenant only is not spiritually united to Christ.

    Understand it this way:

    Before regeneration –> a baptised member is only in covenant relation with Christ, and shares no spiritual relation, no spiritual union with Christ.

    After regeneration –> a baptised member also partakes of the spiritual relation, is now for the first time spiritually united to Christ.

    This position, as you know, is what the FV disagrees with. We’ve debated long here our conviction that this is what the Bible teaches and that this is what the Church has professed. We won’t gain any ground be merely re-hashing the old debate we already disagreed upon.

  19. tim prussic said,

    November 24, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Reed, would you please elaborate on what you mean by “no spiritual relation” of the unregenerate? It seems like the language is a bit sloppy. First, regeneration doesn’t connect us with Christ savingly, God does that thru faith – regeneration being a necessary precondition to belief, of course. Second, if by “spiritual” connection, you mean unto eternal blessing, I certainly agree. However, if you mean something less than that (which I think you do), I’d like to know where you draw the line. I think that a reprobate who gets baptized has a different spiritual status than before and a significant spiritual consequence because of it (Heb 10:29).

    Maybe it’s easy to focus in on this: FVers want to make much of base covenant membership, while the opposition folks seem to want to make little of it. It seems to me that some careful definition and communication would cure *most* of our ills in this arena.

  20. Reed Here said,

    November 24, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Tim: spiritual relation, as in spiritual union, as in vital union, as in the saving presence of the Spirit by which one is united to Christ.

    The problem is in the word relation. I am in relation to many peole and things in my life. The nature of the relation is the question. The FV wants to argue that the covenantal relation entails some degree of the vital relation, i.e., that which one has when one is united to Christ by the saving presence of the Spirit.

    Not talking about the mechanics, e.g., faith, just about particular question question of relation.

    No disrespect Tim, but lot’s of digital ink has been shed on careful communication. The FV keeps equivocating on definitions. The rejoinder is that folks like me keep missing it an not hearing them rightly. Unless you’ve got something new to add to a rather lengthy discussion, I’ve peace to leave my conscious on this with the Spirit.

  21. tim prussic said,

    November 24, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    Good enough, Reed. I can respect the frustration, but not every interlocutor is the same:

    See, I’m not FV and I’m not TR. I’m a seminary grad with an MDiv and an MTS. I’m licensed to preach in my Presbytery. More than that, I’m thoughtful and I love to read. I’m turned off by the FV mantra: “You haven’t understood me.” I’m equally turned off by the TR mantra: “We’re done talking, here.” I can understand frustration talking to, say, Pr. Wilkins on the one hand and, say, Dr. Clark on the other. I, however, stand in the middle and try to learn. I am neither Wilkins nor Clark.

    All teaching always involves repetition. Repetitio est mater studiorum. The teacher unwilling to repeat the lesson one more time loses the student.

  22. Reed Here said,

    November 24, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Tim: no, I don’t want to be heard to say “done talking.” It was out of respect for FV brothers and a healthy fear of God’s command to those of us called to teach in His church that over a year ago I decided to engage in this conversation. I had been reading and listening to FV’ers sinnce the first AAPC conference. I wanted to make sure I understood what I thought I understood.

    No, I’m all for further discussions and interaction. E.g., I’m hoping to make a post I think is relevant to regeneration of children, in hopes of exploring FV thoughts in this subject.

    What I don’t have time for (simply because I’m too busy for it) is to walk over ground already traversed, with folks I walked with (e.g., Roger and Jared). With these brothers, there is nothing new I might say (at least so far), so out of respect for their differing convictions I’m not going to repeat myself.

    That’s all.

  23. tim prussic said,

    November 24, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    You’re a good man, Charlie Brown. And I can see you’ve been reading your Jordan, as you referred to the FV mess as “a conversation”! :)

  24. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    November 24, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    Re: #16

    On John 15, even one of the sources you quote connects this passage to Rom. 11, by way of the language of ingrafting. But in Rom. 11:17, the ingrafted branches do partake of the root of the fat–i.e., the life-giving food that supplies the whole tree. And yet those branches may be cut out, even if they partake of that “fat,” if they do not “abide” (epimenes, v. 22, echoing John 15’s repeated meinate). And while the FV puts a great deal of weight on one prepositional phrase, they do at least put that weight on the actual phrase in the passage (“in me), rather than repeatedly asserting that the fruitless branches were in something else completely (“in the visible church”).

    The entirety of your response to the FV view of 1 Cor. 11:28 was to cut and paste from NT lexicons, and then assesrt that the reflexive meant that the nature of the testing or proving was introspective. But look at the context of 2 Cor. 13:5–Paul begins by citing the law on witnesses, which already puts this into a public context. Now, the possible result of the testing of v. 5 is failure: the Corinthians may be “counterfeit,” or “unapproved” (adokimoi) and Paul goes on to say in v. 6 that the Corinthians should realize that he is not “counterfeit” or “unapproved.” But if the testing (v. 5) by which one is proved is one of introspection, how on earth are the Corinthians supposed to recognize that Paul passes the test? How do they know what Paul’s introspection has revealed to Paul? This makes an introspective “testing” highly dubious here, if not nonsensical. Gal. 6:4 also gives a parallel to 1 Cor. 11:28, with the same 3rd person imperative: “let each one test his own works…” But notice that this is contrasted to what a man thinks of himself in 6:3, and all is in the context of how the body relates to one another, 6:2-6:10 (on a side note, 6:2 is the same grammatical construction as 1 Cor. 11:28–imperative + kai outos + imperative–and the first imperative is clearly not a precondition for the second, as 1 Cor. 11:28 is usually taken). The theme of dokime, or proof, runs througout the Corinthian epistles, through various word-forms, noticing especially the following:

    -1 Cor 11:19 makes it clear the “approved” (dokimoi) are made public, cf. 2 Cor. 13:7, where a public status is clearly in question (even the verb “appear” is found)

    -2 Cor. 10:18: being “proven” or “approved” depends not on one’s self, but on the Lord’s commendation.

    -1 Cor. 3:13: the proving or testing here is clearly in the public view.

    So, this may not be a knock-down argument for the paedo-communion view of 1 Cor. 11:28 (of which I am not totally convinced myself), but it seems to me that the argument requires more careful consideration than dismissal as “lingnastics.”

  25. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    November 24, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    It is the case, however, that there may a relation to Christ that is not merely external-covenantal, but yet is short of saving. That is how Heb. 6:4-5 reads: they have some share in the Holy Spirit, the same one that is the seal of the truly elect, and in the powers of the age to come, which is the full salvation-order of the eschaton. So, there is some spiritual, or at least Spiritual relation, since they do have some measure of the Holy Spirit (isn’t this what some theologians call “miraculous faith,” i.e., a faith that results in signs and wonders, but is not saving? Nevertheless, it is more than mere profession). I apologize, Reed, if I’m one of those with whom you’ve gone around on this before–I don’t recall if it was you, but I seem to remember discussing it with someone here.

  26. November 24, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    Joshua, RE #24,

    Thank you for your comment. For John 15:2, your argument in favor of FV’s view sounds a lot like the RCC’s reading of “This is my body.” FVers would do better to build on the shoulders of our orthodox Reformed fathers than take a Biblicist approach devoid of orthodox historical backing.

    It doesn’t seem like you really read my post on 1 Cor 11:28, nor the post to which I replied in that piece. The original FV author based his piece on his novel interpretation of the Greek δοκιμάζω. I answered that line of argument while looking at the entire phrase in context, then went on to see how Calvin and some of the Divines interpreted the passage rather than rely on my own private interpretation.

    You said about 2 Cor 13:5, 6:

    But if the testing (v. 5) by which one is proved is one of introspection, how on earth are the Corinthians supposed to recognize that Paul passes the test? How do they know what Paul’s introspection has revealed to Paul?

    I (and a number of Reformed commentators) believe that you missed Paul’s point in this passage. The context of 2 Cor 13:5 is similar as far as examining oneself (introspectively) for faith. In my post, I looked again to our orthodox Reformed forebearers take on Paul’s point in the passage. Paul is talking about the relationship between his preaching and their faith. The Geneva Bible note on this verse captures the sense well:

    He confirms that which he spoke about the power of God appearing in his ministry, and he gathers by the mutual relation between the people’s faith and the minister’s preaching, that they must either reverence his apostleship, upon whose doctrine their faith is grounded, or they must condemn themselves of infidelity, and must confess themselves not to be of Christ’s body.

    The JFB comment on this verse takes the same approach:

    Examine—Greek, “Try (make trial of) yourselves.”
          prove your own selves—This should be your first aim, rather than “seeking a proof of Christ speaking in me” (2Co 13:3).
          your own selves—I need not speak much in proof of Christ being in me, your minister (2Co 13:3), for if ye try your own selves ye will see that Christ is also in you [CHRYSOSTOM], (Ro 8:10). Finding Christ dwelling in yourselves by faith, ye may well believe that He speaks in me, by whose ministry ye have received this faith [ESTIUS]. To doubt it would be the sin of Israel, who, after so many miracles and experimental proofs of God’s presence, still cried (Ex 17:7), “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Compare Mr 8:11).

    Likewise, on 2 Cor 13:6, the Geneva Bible notes:

    He appeases that sharpness, trusting that they will show themselves towards their faithful apostle, able and willing to be taught. And he also adds this, that he does not seek his own fame and estimation, so that they may serve their saviour, which is the only mark that he shoots at.

    The JFB fleshes this out a bit more:

    we . . . not reprobates—not unable to abide the proof to which ye put us (2Co 13:6). “I trust that” your own Christianity will be recognized by you (observe, “ye shall know,” answers to “know your own selves,” 2Co 13:5) as sufficient “proof” that ye are not reprobates, but that “Christ speaks in me,” without needing a proof from me more trying to yourselves. If ye doubt my apostleship, ye must doubt your own Christianity, for ye are the fruits of my apostleship.

    So, the passage isn’t about the Corinthian Christians looking to prove Christ in Paul by examining Paul’s heart as you indicate in your questions, but by examining themselves (introspection) as the fruit of Paul’s ministry and preaching.

    Again, I base this not on my own private interpretation, but by examining the passages in light of the wisdom of orthodox Reformed commentators who have stood the test of time. I’d say that this works as “careful consideration.”

  27. November 24, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    Jonathan, RE #11,

    I think that you’re reading too much into what Eric is saying. I believe that Eric is simply making an appeal not to throw out the covenant promises with the Federal Vision bathwater. Certainly our orthodox Reformed forebearers, along with the apostle Paul, et al, had no problem using the judgment of charity when addressing their congregations. Federal Visionists have railed against that same judgment of charity because it is no friend of their errors.

  28. jared said,

    November 24, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    Reed,

    How does my wart analogy not answer the question? You ask,

    Does being in covenant mean that one is spiritually united to Christ in any degree, or is the nature of the relationship one of promise upon fulfilled condition?

    I’m not sure why or how these two notions are exclusive. Being in the covenant means that one is spiritually united to Christ (“in the vine”) to some degree; otherwise what does it mean to be in covenant with Him? To what degree is wholly dependent upon God’s election; some (such as the disciples) are given the Word and hears to hear and eyes to see, while others (such as Judas) are not. Though they hear and see, it is not with eyes gifted to them by the Father through the Spirit. Does this mean the relationship isn’t spiritual? I’m not sure how you could conclude such. You continue,

    Your description here sounds like you are holding that to be in covenant means to have some nature of a spiritual union with Christ, albeit one by degrees so that the “dead branches” had little of Christ. This is the kind of construction (from the FV) that we believe goes against the express teaching of Scripture (e.g., they went out from us because they were never of us).

    I would say that, in a very important sense (obviously), the dead branches have none of Jesus (who is Life), hence why they are dead. I think a distinction can (and should) be made between covenant believers being in Him and Him being in covenant believers. The unregenerate is spiritually united to Jesus but that relationship is one way: take, take, take. The unregenerate member gets some amalgamation of “non-salvific” blessings because he is in Christ, in His body, in the Vine. But he does not get the Word, he does not get Christ in him, the Spirit in him and, thus he is “not of us.” Does this make sense? You say,

    A covenantal relationship is not the same as a spiritual relationship. The former is a promise of the latter, a sign and seal awaiting fulfillment of the conditions. In the case of one in the covenant of grace via baptism, the one baptized (in covenant relation with Christ) is awaiting the keeping ot the covenant’s terms by the Spirit in the work of regeneration-spiritual union with Christ. Until that occurs, the one in covenant only is not spiritually united to Christ.

    I think I can agree that a covenantal relationship is not the same thing as a spiritual relationship. I’m not sure this distinction can be drawn from Scripture in a way that is helpful for you, though, because I think a covenantal relationship is a type of spiritual relationship that also has physical elements (e.g. circumcision and baptism). But if the former is a promise of the latter then there can be no such thing as an unregenerate covenant member, so something’s wrong with how your structuring this, it seems. You continue,

    Before regeneration –> a baptised member is only in covenant relation with Christ, and shares no spiritual relation, no spiritual union with Christ.

    After regeneration –> a baptised member also partakes of the spiritual relation, is now for the first time spiritually united to Christ.

    This clears things up a little bit, but you still have the problem of the former supposedly being a promise of the latter. It is incoherent to say that the former is a promise of the latter and to say that some who have the former, then, don’t get the latter. I like understanding the vine analogy in the same vein as the visible/invisible church situation: members of the visible church who are also members of the invisible church = branches that are pruned and produce ever greater quantities of fruit. Members of the visible church who are not also members of the invisible church = branches that are dead and will eventually be cut off. So what’s the problem again? Being in Jesus (however you want to describe that) is a matter of degrees but ultimately either you get pruned (and the degrees are that some branches produce significantly more fruit than others and will be rewarded accordingly) or you get cut off (and the degrees are that some branches stay attached much longer than others and, presumably, will be punished accordingly).

    Of course I agree that no ground will be made by rehashing the same old debate, but here (as elsewhere,, though not everywhere, and as Tim has pointed out) it’s a lot of semantics (or rhetoric, perhaps is better) and not a lot of content.

  29. curate said,

    November 25, 2008 at 2:01 am

    no.15

    Hello David. Laying my cards on the table, I do not believe that minds are going to be changed, so I am not trying to persuade you anymore. I’ll just say it as I see it, plain and simple.

    I once explained Hebrews 6 and 10 in the ways that you do. That understanding was the only way I could reconcile them with my theology, or be compelled to admit that the Arminians had a good point, which I was (and am) unwilling to do.

    But it worried me, because a little voice told me that I was making an accommodation with the text. The same voice told me that something was wrong when I had to explain Mark 1.4 about John’s baptism of repentance for the remission of sins as NOT being for the remission of sins. My then Baptist theology gave me no other option.

    What has changed for me is the ability to take the disputed texts at face value without finding a tortuous theological exit from apparent difficulties.

    I am still a believer in election and predestination. I still believe that the full number of the elect will be infallibly saved, not one more and not one less.

    However, I no longer have to explain Bible texts away, or force them into the five points.

    The Lord says that he is the vine. That vine is the tree that Paul describes in the letter to the Romans. That vine is an OT image of Israel. The branches that do not bear fruit are the one that Paul describes as unbelieving Jews whose branches are broken off to make room for the believing Gentiles.

    Non-bearing branches may be suckers or dead wood. In both cases they do not bear fruit. In both cases the vine-dresser removes them.

    There are those who believe for a while, stop bearing fruit, and are removed. There are those who were sanctified by the blood, who partook of the Holy Spirit and the powers of the age to come, and who fell away. Their punishment is real, not hypothetical. It is more severe for once having shared in the blessings.

    The grammar is as plain as can be. These passages are not hypothetical. They are dire warnings and threats. They are intended to provoke us to fear. They frighten my ten-year old. They provoke us to endure for the sake of the glory that is laid before us.

    If it pleases God to permit some of the non-elect to share in the blessings for a time, then that is the way it is. He is glorified in it. The end.

    FWIW, that is my reading of the texts.

    Grace and peace.

  30. curate said,

    November 25, 2008 at 2:04 am

    no. 14

    Reed, please, what is oop?

    Seasons greetings to you and yours too. :)

  31. David Weiner said,

    November 25, 2008 at 6:59 am

    curate,

    re: # 29

    I really appreciate the tone and content of your response. All I can say is that I am not interested in changing your mind; I am interested in finding out where I am going wrong. Honestly. Of course, presuppositions may make this impossible.

    My post to you dealt with only Hebrews 6; I didn’t touch Hebrews 10 or John 15 or Mark 1. Your response was much more expansive and I think I understand your overall view. In my post (#15) I asked you just one question because I felt that its answer would force me to question my view. I would still appreciate your answer to that question.

  32. jared said,

    November 25, 2008 at 8:41 am

    curate,

    If I am not mistaken, oop = out of print.

  33. Reed Here said,

    November 25, 2008 at 10:11 am

    Roger:

    Jared has got it, out of print.

    Jared: I think I would say the problem, in at least how I hear you (I think fairly, but please tell me if otherwise). You said (and repeated later in slightly different words):

    “Being in the covenant means that one is spiritually united to Christ (”in the vine”) to some degree;”

    My response is that this the key difference. I do not believe this is what Scripture teaches, as I hope the rest of my comments made clear. The unregenerate have no spiritual relation (as defined to Tim Prussic), that is they have no vital or life-giving relation to Christ. This is not to say they have no relation to Christ (the Trinity); it is merely to affirm they have no life-giving, they in no way share in any degree in the life-giving person of Christ via the presence of the Spirit.

    To move down to your other concern here, being in covenant is not the same as being spiritually united. To use a Venn diagram, consider two circles, one completely inside the other, but not continuous with the circle. The larger contains all those in covenant. The smaller contains those in covenant (inside larger circle) for whom the conditions of the covenant have also been met (inside smaller circle).

    This should not be a problem. It is fairly standard in covenantal structures to note that the covenant is only good to the degree that the conditions are met. In the covenant of grace, these conditions are only met in the experience of the regenerate. Thus the unregenerate do not meet the conditions of the covenant and therefor do not experience its fulfillment.

    Admittedly this is a flattened description. I am not bringing up the whole discussion we had on the nature of temporary faith, in which the experience of the unregerate-in-covenant folk experience a work of the Spirit that is analogous to but not an extension of the spiritual union experience of the regenerate-in-covenant.

    The FV, consistent with your sentence quoted above, would argue that the analogy between the unregenerate-in-covenant is an extension of the spiritual union experience of the regenerate. As we’ve noted, there is some degree of conflation (equivocation) what it means to be in covenant. This is at the crux of our disagreement with the FV. We believe this conflation flows from (at least) a missing of the biblical distinctions between these two.

  34. curate said,

    November 25, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    no.31

    David W, you asked “Anyway, it might help me correct the errors of my thinking if you could just show me where in Scripture it teaches (other than in some figurative language) that there are actually real flesh and blood people in the category described in verse 4.”

    Please don’t think that I am being awkward when I say that Hebrews 6 is precisely such a passage. Here is how I am reading it:

    First, I notice that this passage is not about the invisible church, but the visible church. The passage is not a perspective on eternity, but addresses a situation in history.

    It is about what happens to two groups of people before the revelation of the invisible church, IOW, it is about two groups of people within time and space, in this present age.

    It is about the historical covenant.

    That is the first and most important thing.

    Some people who have tasted the Holy Spirit fall away. You insist that they are a hypothetical group. What indicates that within the passage? Nothing. It is your particular take on election that is forcing you to that conclusion, not the text.

    There is nothing wrong with applying the analogy of scripture, but here we are not dealing with a dark and difficult text, which is the usual reason for bringing it in as an exegetical tool.

    The text before us comes first. It is plain and unfigurative. It doesn’t need to be deciphered. It says what it says.

    What it says is that those who have tasted the Holy Spirit, and then fall away, cannot be restored. Who cares whether a hypothetical group can be restored? No-one. It is a non-question, a meaningless proposition. So scratch it.

    The hearers of the letter should take it seriously, because they are taking flack from the unbelieving Jews for their faith, and some have already fallen away. Make sure that you are not next, because there is no way back from that kind of sin. It is unforgivable.

    Why does the author say that he is confident of better things in their case? Because they are still standing. He is not implying that they are the true truly elect. How could he possibly know? Maybe some of them will fall. He is simply exhorting them in the normal way that language is used.

    Peter in his second letter speaks of the same thing by exhorting us to make our calling and election sure. How do we do that? By standing firm in the face of false teachers, and trials of many kinds, and persevering in obedience.

    Same scenario facing the Hebrews, same teaching. Same topic.

    Peter says that many will fall away. The author of Hebrews is saying the same thing, but make sure it isn’t you.

    There is nothing strange or unusual about Hebrews 6.

    Speaking in a friendly but critical way, I think that you are forcing the passage out of shape. Just take the text at face value. That is the real art of exegesis.

    Grace and peace

  35. tim prussic said,

    November 25, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    As to Heb 6, I think it’s strange that those who fall away fall into an impossibility or return – they cannot be reinstated. That’s beyond even Arminianism! From a Reformed, covenantal view, what’s strange is that it is not in keeping with the typical covenantal workings of God, who cuts off then brings back in (e.g., Dt 28, Hosea, Rom 11 et al). I think the historical contexts provides us with a solid answer. Since the Old Cov’t structure was on the cusp of disappearing (Heb 8:13), we know this was written just prior to AD 70. Those who apostatize back to Judaism just before that massacre, would certainly die as Jews in Jerusalem and not escape, as did the Christians. Thus, they couldn’t be renewed again, but would die in apostasy.

    Any thoughts on that?

  36. rfwhite said,

    November 25, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Tim, I initially thought your hypothesis was plausible, but then it occurred to me that, arguably, Hebrews mimics 2 Chron 36:15-16: “The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, until there was no remedy.”

    Striking words: “there was no remedy.” It looks to me that the Chronicler is telling us that the condition of apostates was irremediable, incurable, not as a matter of divine power, but as a matter of divine will.

    Isn’t it the case that apostates in the nation were, in fact, never restored (apostasy being an incurable state), but that the nation was restored in the remnant?

  37. David Weiner said,

    November 25, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    # 34

    curate,

    I see now that my question made no sense. I say this because it seems clear that we don’t share the same view regarding who is being addressed in 6:4. So, I’d like to try to understand some of the other points you made.

    Does tasting the heavenly gift and becoming partakers of the Holy Spirit mean that the person has been indwelt by the Holy Spirit (i.e., justified)? I can only think of two answers to this question, yes or no. I’ll babble very briefly about each option while I wait for your answer.

    If no, then the people in 6:4 are not yet saved. They don’t need to fear falling away, they need to be saved. So the rest of the passage would have no meaning to them. They may be members of the actual, historical, visible church which first receives the letter; but, the verse is not really addressed to them.

    If yes, then the people in 6:4 are saved and need to fear losing their salvation. Since, if they lose their salvation, there is no way for them to be ‘re-saved.’ You go on to say that these people are told to:

    “Make sure that you are not next, because there is no way back from that kind of sin. It is unforgivable.”

    So, unless there are two unforgiveable sins, you must hold that this is what Jesus meant by blapheming the Holy spirit in Mark 3:27?

    To summarize, if the answer is yes, then the group being addressed is made up of saved and unsaved real historical people but the warnings are addressed to those who are saved and risk losing the salvation they possess by changing their minds about what they believe.

    I struggle to keep this short so I’ll only ask about one other comment you made:

    “The author of Hebrews is saying the same thing, but make sure it isn’t you.”

    Are you saying that maintaining one’s salvation is up to the efforts of the individual (i.e., it up to the individual Christian to ‘make sure’ that they don’t become apostates)? I thought that was God’s job (e.g., John 6:39-40)?

  38. jared said,

    November 25, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    Reed,

    Thanks for further clarifying. You say,

    My response is that this the key difference. I do not believe this is what Scripture teaches, as I hope the rest of my comments made clear. The unregenerate have no spiritual relation (as defined to Tim Prussic), that is they have no vital or life-giving relation to Christ. This is not to say they have no relation to Christ (the Trinity); it is merely to affirm they have no life-giving, they in no way share in any degree in the life-giving person of Christ via the presence of the Spirit.

    I get that, and to a great extent I agree with you. If we define spiritual relationship so that it can be nothing other than saving, then unregenerate covenant members, obviously, have no spiritual relationship. But if, as the FV has done, we broaden our concept of spiritual relationship as a result of broadening our understanding of covenant membership and its relative benefits, what have we lost except “tradition” (and I don’t mean this wholesale) and some ambiguity? It seems to me that Scripture teaches two (at least) forms of unregenerate status. The first involves outright pagans; not in the body, not hearing the word, etc. The second involves those who, to some extent, have (or are currently) tasting a portion of that life which ultimately does not/will not belong to them (common operations of the spirit and so on). Now maybe I’m just completely off base, but isn’t any tasting of that life contingent upon some spiritual relationship and not just an outward physical participating in the covenant? You continue,

    To move down to your other concern here, being in covenant is not the same as being spiritually united. To use a Venn diagram, consider two circles, one completely inside the other, but not continuous with the circle. The larger contains all those in covenant. The smaller contains those in covenant (inside larger circle) for whom the conditions of the covenant have also been met (inside smaller circle).

    I get the concept “in but not of”; I was raised Reformed and have my degree from a Reformed college. I think your Venn diagram needs some labels to show you something interesting. Let’s call the big circle “Covenant Members” and the little circle “Saved Covenant Members”, I will presume this is quite agreeable. If the two circles are not continuous then there are two different covenants being diagrammed. This, I’m sure, is not agreeable but you said they weren’t continuous and I just wanted to point that out. The unregenerate member is a member of the very same covenant as the regenerate member, is he not? Okay, so I was being unfair and picky. If we label the circles “Unregenerate Covenant Members” and “Regenerate Covenant Members” then there isn’t really a problem in this vein. It seems the only problem is figuring out what all they both actually have in common. Back to the subject, the FV wants to say the whole covenant is “in Christ” and the only way to be “in Christ” is via spiritual relationship (not narrowly defined as you have it above, of course). This makes sense to me, especially since we call those common factors common operations of the Spirit. So if the unregenerate member of the covenant has no spiritual relationship with Jesus at all, how does he experience (or gain access to) those operations of His Spirit?

    At any rate, I am perfectly content to agreeing to disagree since I think we are in fundamental agreement: only the elect get salvation. This is what the FV says and that’s why I think this is only a “problem” and not a problem. I want to honor your desire/request not to re-hash old debates, so I’ll stop. Thanks for briefly indulging me.

  39. Reed Here said,

    November 25, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    I think you and I are closer than you may suspect. Note you want to talk about some spiritual relation for those unregenerate in covenant. All we need to do is determine whether the relationship in view is either:

    > a variation of the same type of relation experienced by the regenerate (a subset), or

    > an analogous type that is not a variation (not a subset).

    I think the Bible teaches the latter. This follows, at least in part, from the nature of election, preservation, et.al.

  40. Reed Here said,

    November 25, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    P.S. I’m copacetic too.

  41. jared said,

    November 25, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    Reed,

    Good usage! Is that the word of the day? I check dictionary.com but, oddly enough, the word of the day there is “reprobate.” If we ever get a chance to meet in person we should definitely play a game of Scrabble. ;-)

  42. curate said,

    November 26, 2008 at 1:13 am

    no. 37
    David Weiner said, November 25, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Does tasting the heavenly gift and becoming partakers of the Holy Spirit mean that the person has been indwelt by the Holy Spirit (i.e., justified)

    Yes. Hebrews 10 makes this explicit by saying that apostates had been sanctified by the blood. In this context it is widely agreed that in context the verb to sanctify means to justify.

    Note: the Bible often gives words a wider semantic range than we do in our systematic and confessional formulations.

    If no, then the people in 6:4 are not yet saved.

    They are addressed as saved Christians because they have been baptized, and have therefore been justified and received the Holy Spirit. They are confessing Christians. No doubt about it. Why else are they exhorted to stand and not fall away?

    Are they a mixture of truly saved and not truly saved? The text does not say. Since it is silent on the matter, we must be too. Thus, to make it a condition for understanding the passage is exegetically unjustified.

    Perhaps they will all without exception stand to the end. Perhaps every single one will fall. Who knows? Only time will tell.

    If yes, then the people in 6:4 are saved and need to fear losing their salvation. Since, if they lose their salvation, there is no way for them to be ‘re-saved.’ …
    So, unless there are two unforgiveable sins, you must hold that this is what Jesus meant by blapheming the Holy spirit in Mark 3:27?

    Exactly. At the end of chapter 6 the author explains why they cannot be saved again. Christ has died once for sins, and since it is given to man to die once only, he cannot die for us again. Hence, if you have squandered the benefits of the once-off cross, there cannot be another atonement for you.

    To summarize, if the answer is yes, then the group being addressed is made up of saved and unsaved real historical people but the warnings are addressed to those who are saved and risk losing the salvation they possess by changing their minds about what they believe.

    The whole letter is addressed to the entire congregation. There cannot be any real controversy about that. To me this is another indication that your exegesis is forced and unnatural. No offence.

    Are you saying that maintaining one’s salvation is up to the efforts of the individual (i.e., it up to the individual Christian to ‘make sure’ that they don’t become apostates)? I thought that was God’s job (e.g., John 6:39-40)?

    Isn’t that what the letter demands? Over and over? It is up to us to obey by enduring trials and persecutions, to stand firm in the full armour of God, to make our calling and election sure, to remain faithful to the end so that we will share the crown of glory, …

    … for it is God who works in us to will and to act according to this good pleasure.

    Your adopted Gentile brother, a co-citizen with you in the Commonwealth of Israel, and a co-heir of the covenants of promise.

  43. curate said,

    November 26, 2008 at 1:14 am

    Reed, please correct the italic dog’s breakfast above! Thanks.

  44. David Weiner said,

    November 26, 2008 at 11:01 am

    no 42:

    curate,

    Thank you for that excellent response (italics were no problem). Much clarity! And, in no way does anything you say insult or offend me; quite the opposite. I’m just not the sharpest tack in the barn and letting go of my ‘baptistic’ understandings are obviously difficult for me.

    If I understood your points, then I agree with you that:
    1) the people in 6:4 are saved
    2) in the context of ch 10, the word sanctified also carries the meaning justified
    3) the saved status of those addressed in ch 6 should not be a condition for understanding the passage
    4) we don’t know how many of those receiving the letter will ultimately stand firm
    5) a saved person (one of the elect) who loses his/her salvation can never regain that position
    6) the cross was a one time event that is never to be repeated
    7) the letter is addressed to the entire congregation which may have both saved, unsaved, elect and non-elect members present at its reading.

    Likewise, if I understood you, then I need help with your assertions that:
    a) ch 10 says “apostates had been sanctified by the blood.”
    b) those in 6:4 have been “justified and received the Holy Spirit” because “they have been baptized”
    c) the writer addresses those in 6:4 as saved because “they have been baptized”
    d) those in 6:4 are “confessing Christians”
    e) the unforgivable sin of Mark 3 and what is being discussed here are the same sin
    f) a saved individual’s works determine their ultimate destiny

    While your patience lasts, I would really like to look with you more deeply at some of these areas that are difficult for me to grasp. But, first, have I captured your thoughts accurately?

  45. curate said,

    November 26, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    no. 44

    David, fantastic to have so much agreement. Yes, you have captured my thoughts.

    On point 7 I would like to clarify that until the Great Day no-one can or will know whether the people being addressed in Hebrews are elect or not, whether they are all elect, whether none are elect, or if they are a mixed group. Therefore that cannot be a criterion for interpreting the text.

    My patience is lasting well, and I am very happy to look at those passages with you, but from Friday I will be in Ireland for the weekend.

    a) In reply, this quote from Heb. 10:29: Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?

    Just take it at face value.

    I am not saying that ALL apostates were sanctified, just this class described here. There are many who have never had a living experience of salvation.

    b) Heb 6.4: For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened … F.F.Bruce inter alia takes this to be a reference to baptism.

    What you have to realize is that until the last two hundred years it was agreed among every strand of Reformed teaching that baptism is the normal and usual means of grace, whereby Christians are justified and receive the Holy Spirit – (are enlightened). Puritans not excluded. Indeed, the Puritans shared the same perspective, and, if anything, took them more seriously as the two means of transmitting and conveying saving grace than other Calvinists did.

    Please note also, that I am NOT saying that we are saved because of baptism, but that we are saved by means of it. The cause of our justification is the gracious cross alone.

    c) In the Bible and in the entire history of the church, until evangelicalism blighted our view of the sacraments, it has been assumed in the judgement of love that those who have been baptized and profess faith in Christ are in a state of grace. The word because must be read in the lower case, not the upper case. It is a secondary cause in the sense of being the means of conveying the Holy Spirit.

    The first cause is that Christ the King, having sat upon the throne of David at the right hand of Power, has poured it out upon the church.

    d) I have spoken to this issue already. This is not a hypothetical group. No-one cares if a hypothetical group falls away. It is meaningless and pointless to say that they do.

    e) Hebrews 6 and 10 make it clear that there is no way back from falling away. I don’t know what else to say. It is on the face of the text. Thus it is an unforgiveable sin.

    f) Paul teaches us that without holiness no-one will see God. James says that a faith that does not work cannot save us.

    This is not salvation by works as the Jews and Rome teach.

    Faith without works is dead, and therefore our works are an essential part of our salvation. They have no part at all in our justification and election, but they are the outworking of the indwelling of God in us.

    Salvation is a big word. It may or may not include justification and election.

    Another way of putting it is to say that without sanctification we cannot be saved. In this universally agreed Reformed sense our works determine our destiny.

    Grace and peace.

  46. Reed Here said,

    November 26, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    Jared: one of my favorite words. Scrabble will be fun.

    Roger: is that the fix?

  47. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    November 26, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    Re # 26:

    1. Guilt by association is a logical fallacy. Just because you think that the FV view of John 15:2 sounds like the RC view of a totally different passage does not mean that the former is wrong, so more argument is required. If all we are allowed to do is build on the tradition, and never try at least to come at the text afresh, then how is our view of tradition different from Rome’s? See, I can play the association game, too–but it’s still an honest question. Again, Mike Horton’s article on theological development is an interesting and relevant read: http://www.wscal.edu/faculty/wscwritings/08.05.php

    2. I did read the piece, or at least skim it, since I don’t need to re-read every lexicon entry on dokimazo (sorry, no Greek font on this computer), and that was the bulk of the piece. My point is that the FV reading of that verb, while it may be novel according to the tradition, actually is worth considering from a lexical point of view, and is not, as you labeled it, simply absurd. The issue with the Corinthians is their behavior, especially in public and communal contexts (1 Cor. 11:17-21), and this is what Paul is concerned with (the “proof”–dokime–of their love is to be obedience, outward actions: 2 Cor. 2:9, 8:24, 9:13)., praying that they do what is right (2 Cor. 13:7), i.e., stop the factions and infighting (2 Cor. 12:20). And it is this doing good that will be witnessed by Paul himself when he comes (13:1). So, it is worth considering that the kind of testing or proving is meant to be visible and external. I would take the verse this way (differing punctuation, I realize):

    Test yourselves! If you are in the faith, prove yourselves (i.e., demonstrate that you are in the faith, through doing good, v. 7)! Or don’t you know that Christ is in (among?–given the reference to 2-3 witnesses, echoing Matt. 18?) you, unless the proof is absent.

    This, interestingly, brings Paul very close to Jacob (James) at this point, where simply internal certainty (which the Corinthians had–measuring themselves by themselves, 2 Cor. 10:12, which led to a lack of understanding) or profession is not sufficient, but rather a demonstration of that faith in love (although it is not by that love that the faith is justifying).

    So, just quoting to me the notes from the Geneva Bible does not constitute sufficient proof. I am open to falsification, by the way: if I try as hard as I can to make 1 Cor. 11:28 mean something other than introspection, and it fails, then that is clear proof for the introspective view. Again, [i]I am open to this possibility[/i], not being a convinced paedo-communionist. But it does no good to simply dismiss a reading of the text as absurd when it can be shown to have significant grounding, both lexically and contextually, which I think I have done. I have healthy respect for the tradition, but I’m not willing to answer every question simply by quoting it.

  48. David Weiner said,

    November 26, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    No 45:

    curate,

    Since I too like agreement, let me say before I begin that I fully agree with what you provided here as clarification regarding point 7. I think we are still rock solid on that one.

    I trust your weekend in Ireland will be profitable and enjoyable. Alas, now I have to deal with envy . . .

    I don’t know how far I’ll get but I’ll try to lay out what I still find difficult (I’ll use the a), b), c), . . notation of the previous post to help keep us together):

    a) I understood that you were NOT saying that all apostates had once been sanctified. But, that ch’s 6 and 10 were talking about people who had been sanctified and later chose apostasy. Now, two of my presuppositions: 1) once elect, always elect and 2) only the elect are justified. (Do you share these views?) So, does this then mean that ch 6 and 10 are discussing people who are NOT elect? Now, if you answer yes to that, then I am faced with getting my mind around what seems like a really startling proposition. For that would imply to me that God saves some who are not elect and then takes back that regeneration, saving faith, justification, sanctification, indwelling of the Spirit, eternal life, etc. from them based on certain of their sinful choices.

    Alas, I was trying to stay with ch 6 since it was easier to understand and now you bring in 10:29 which is really hard!!! Oh well, here is what I see and I do desire your reaction:

    Verse 10:10 says that because Jesus did the will of the Father, we are sanctified by His once for all sacrifice. It seems to me that the ‘WE’ in v10 refers to saved (justified) individuals. Now v14 adds that one who is sanctified (justified) is perfected for all time. (We have previously agreed that ch 6 is talking about sanctified (justified) individuals.) So, just considering these two verses, I don’t see how one can conclude that a truly saved individual can commit apostasy. Help?

    Now we get to the thought introduced by v26. What seems key to me is the adverb ‘willfully’ and the verb ‘to sin’ which is in the present tense and conveys the idea of continual activity. So the ‘WE’ here are ones who habitually and willfully choose sin. Does the text say that they are saved? Not that I can see. What it says is that these people have ‘received the knowledge of the truth.’ Do you think that is a description of a saved person? We have no idea if they have received what those in ch 6 have received (i.e., a taste of the heavenly gift, or been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, etc).

    Now we get to v29 and I agree with you that this is talking about the severe punishment to be received by those who trample on Jesus and what He has done. However, the problem in this verse is deciding on who it is who was sanctified (justified). Seem to me that it could either be Jesus or the one who is to receive the severe punishment. Can you explain to me how to definitively say which it is from this verse or does one have to bring in their presuppositions to get the answer? From simple grammar, the nearest reference is the Son of God. But, if one takes that to be the reference then they would not be able to sustain the idea that this verse teaches that saved people can commit apostasy. Looks like a real dilemma to me!

    Well, this seems like plenty to chew on so I’ll stop for now to let you respond. b) thru f) will just have to wait until you return from Ireland.

  49. curate said,

    November 27, 2008 at 1:52 am

    No.48

    Hello again.

    a) 1) once elect, always elect and 2) only the elect are justified. (Do you share these views?)

    No, I don’t. It pleases God to regenerate and justify some who are not elect. Hebrews 6 and 10.

    So, does this then mean that ch 6 and 10 are discussing people who are NOT elect?

    The whole letter addresses the ENTIRE congregation or congregations of Hebrews. As a whole. The division of them into elect and not-elect for exegetical reasons is an artificial, unnecessary, and unjustified imposition.

    Anyway, every one of them is nationally elect.

    It is also addressed to every other confessing Christian Gentile who hears it, even though we are not the primary audience.

    Now, if you answer yes to that, … that would imply to me that God saves some who are not elect and then takes back that regeneration, saving faith, justification, sanctification, indwelling of the Spirit, eternal life, etc. from them based on certain of their sinful choices.

    Exactly. Hebrews, John 15, the parable of the sower, II Peter and Jude, and so on. This is a topic that is addressed over and over in the Bible, in great detail.

    V10v14 adds that one who is sanctified (justified) is perfected for all time. (We have previously agreed that ch 6 is talking about sanctified (justified) individuals.) So, just considering these two verses, I don’t see how one can conclude that a truly saved individual can commit apostasy. Help?

    Justification is for all time, provided that you do not betray God and Christ. Isn’t that obvious mate?

    And, yes, the elect will persevere by grace. But that teaching is not in view here.

    Now we get to the thought introduced by 10v26. … So the ‘WE’ here are ones who habitually and willfully choose sin.

    The WE here and everywhere else means all of us, any of us, without distinction or exception, who deliberately sin. It is an undifferentiated plural. If any one of us betrays Christ, we are dog meat.

    Now we get to 10v29. However, the problem in this verse is deciding on who it is who was sanctified (justified). Seem to me that it could either be Jesus or the one who is to receive the severe punishment.

    10.29: Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot?

    An ingenious reading! But there is no doubt that the pronoun he is the one who tramples the Son of God underfoot. He is the the subject of the sentence, and the SoG is the object. Two different people. No doubt about it.

    Did I miss the point?

    Till next week. :)

  50. curate said,

    November 27, 2008 at 1:57 am

    Reed, thanks. Sorry to be a pest, but please fix no.49 as well. I’ll just go and eat some worms.

  51. Reed Here said,

    November 27, 2008 at 7:28 am

    Gobble, gobble.

  52. rfwhite said,

    November 27, 2008 at 10:07 am

    In the warning of Heb 6:4-6, the writer, at least ostensibly, numbers apostates among those who receive the blessings of eternal salvation from God (5:9; cf. 6:7). In 6:8 the same writer ascribes eternal judgment to apostates. Question: don’t the assertions in the warning of 6:4-6 implicitly affirm the apostate’s eternal salvation while explicitly denying it?

    In Heb 10:14 (cf. 10:10) the writer attributes eternal perfection and forgiveness (10:17) to those who have been sanctified. In 10:29, the same writer, at least ostensibly, numbers apostates among those who have been sanctified and attributes eternal punishment to them (10:27, 30-31). Question: don’t the assertions in the warning of 10:29 implicitly ascribe eternal perfection and forgiveness to apostates while explicitly ascribing eternal punishment to them?

  53. David Weiner said,

    November 29, 2008 at 11:11 am

    No. 49

    Hi curate,

    I apologize if I should have gotten this sooner but I now think I can grasp what you have been trying to tell me. Please let me know what I am still missing:

    God gives exactly the same gifts (i.e., saving graces) to some non-elect individuals that He gives to all elect individuals. God graciously ensures that the elect individuals will persevere. This He does not do for the non-elect and they will eventually choose to willfully and habitually sin. At that point, He takes back the gifts of salvation and these people will receive even more severe punishment than if they had never been ‘saved’ in the first place.

    As I re-read your previous posts, I can see that you have been consistent in saying that this is an obvious biblical message. I am sorry to say that I still don’t see this message in the text.

    Nevertheless, the following conclusions would seem to follow from your view:

    1) Individuals in these two groups (elect / non-elect) who have been justified are indistinguishable (humanly speaking) until God takes back these gifts from the non-elect. And, these spiritual gifts include: regeneration, saving faith, justification, sanctification, indwelling of the Spirit, eternal life, etc.

    2) Regardless of ones affections or concerns or efforts, no living person who believes that he/she has been justified and who also shares your views really has any reason to feel secure concerning their eternal destiny. That is, nothing in their experience confirms whether they are among the elect or the non-elect.

    3) God’s character (i.e., His faithfulness and truthfulness) is trashed! He says in many places that He guarantees the eternal security of the ones He saves. [e.g., John 5:24 -- “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”] Now, it turns out that there is a category of individual never explicitly identified in Scripture that is only temporarily given eternal life – whatever temporary eternal might mean.

    What I see in Scripture is that God is indeed sovereign and has made the elect / non-elect decision long ago. Neither of these types of people have any say in their destiny (i.e., they can’t obtain it on their own and they certainly can’t lose it on their own); it is all up to God. Further, nobody will be able to boast that their eternal place of abode has anything to do with their abilities or efforts (Eph 2:8-9). On the other hand, based on the message of 1 John, for example, one can KNOW NOW that they are elect. Based on your reading, one can NOT know. My dear brother, don’t you realize that your interpretation makes it impossible for either of us to do anything in this life but wish for, and never be sure of, where we are going to spend eternity?

    p.s. the solution is to realize that the verses we have been discussing have to do with fruit (as does John 15 also) and not with salvation.

    p.s.s. You said “Justification is for all time, provided that you do not betray God and Christ.” Absolutely. However, what must be included in your assertion is that God is the one who saves and the one who ensures that those that He saves never betray Him. He never gets it wrong and never has to take back the salvation that He gives.

  54. Reed Here said,

    November 29, 2008 at 11:40 am

    David:

    This particular slice of the FV discussion comes down to how you define the nature of the spiritual relationship of the temporary “Christians”. From the perspective of salvation, i.e., a vital or saving spiritual relationship, we all agree that we begin with two classes of humanity:

    Regenerate: have a vital saving spiritual relationship with God.
    Unregenerate: do not have a vital saving relationship with God.

    The question comes down to how do you define the spiritual relationship of thos who appear to be regenerate for a time, but eventually fall away (John 15, Heb 6:4-6 being critical passages).

    Are they: a sub-class of the regenerate, sharing temporarily in the beneifts of salvation, excepting perseverance (the FV position)? In this case these folks have a temporary experience of the same thing the regenerate eternally experience.

    Or are they a sub-class of the unregenerate, experiencing blessings from the Spirit that are similar to but not the same as those experienced by the regenerate (the anti-FV position)? In this case these folk experience something in no way related (ontologically) to what the regenerate experience.

    Is this a fair summary of the state of things Roger?

  55. David Weiner said,

    November 29, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Reed,

    The question comes down to how do you define the spiritual relationship of those who appear to be regenerate for a time, but eventually fall away (John 15, Heb 6:4-6 being critical passages).

    If there are really only two classes then there is no class – ‘appearing to be regenerate.’ One must either be regenerate or unregenerate. I dont’ want to speak for Roger; but, I don’t think he is defining a sub-class. He seems to define a third class ‘temporarily fully regenerate.’ I believe he confirmed that in the following exchange in #49:

    me:
    . . . that would imply to me that God saves some who are not elect and then takes back that regeneration, saving faith, justification, sanctification, indwelling of the Spirit, eternal life, etc. from them based on certain of their sinful choices.

    Roger:
    Exactly. Hebrews, John 15, the parable of the sower, II Peter and Jude, and so on. This is a topic that is addressed over and over in the Bible, in great detail.

    I don’t see any sharing in some version of salvation in his presentation. It is a full-fleged justification; but, only temporary. In any case, the problem starts with us (humans) saying that somebody ‘appears’ to be regenerate and then no longer ‘appears’ to be regenerate. I don’t find the Scriptures dealing with appearances in the case of salvation. It does however deal with the sinful choices of regenerate people and the resulting punishment. Equating this punishment with loss of eternal life is the error. Just my opinion, of course.

  56. David Weiner said,

    November 29, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    rfwhite, re: #52,

    Well, since nobody has chosen to respond to your question, I’d like to take a crack at it, if you don’t mind.

    In 6:8 the same writer ascribes eternal judgment to apostates

    I really can’t find the words ‘eternal’ or ‘judgment’ in my copy of that verse. What I find is an analogy about a field (believer) which produces thorns and thistles (works of self and not the Holy Spirit) and the field is worthless and close to being cursed (hardly a worthwhile witness of the power of Jesus in the live of the believer). Burning a field that has not produced useful crops but only thorns/thistles is a reality that would have been quite clear to the Hebrews. Burning was not intended to eternally destroy the field but rather to clean it out to give it a chance to produce a good crop in the next planting.

    Again, in verses 10:27, 30-31 I don’t find any mention of eternal punishment or loss of salvation. Severe punishment, yes. Loss of salvation has to be read into the verses. Did Ananias or Sophira lose their salvation? Did they get severely punished?

    So, to your question. The Scriptures would indeed have to be contradicting themselves in these passages which some interpret as talking about loss of salvation and eternal punishment for those who had once been saved and given eternal security.

  57. Reed Here said,

    November 29, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    David:

    You’re right. Roger is not saying that the unfruitful branch shares a version of salvation. I’m not trying to say that. Rather, the FV holds that the unfruitful branch shares in the same salvation as the regenerate, but only temporarily.

    I’ll let Roger speak for himself, but I don’t belieive most Fv’ers would argue for a third class, at least on ontological grounds. They want to maintain that the unfruitful branch really and truly shares in the same salvation as the regenerate, excepting for a key gift, that of perseverance. If you prefer, this would create a larger set of regenerate: eternally regenerate and temporarily regenerate.

    To be sure, some FV’ers will shy away from the starkness of this latter summary. Yet I’m confident that careful listening demonstrates that this is indeed their position.

    It is not fair to call it simple Arminianism, because FV’ers are insistent on maintaining that all this ultimately is the work of a sovereign electing God. The rub comes down to the practical applications, how the people inn the pew apply this to their own experience of salvation. This is where the kinds of problems you note come into play.

    It might be helpful if you review the discussions we had a while back on the nature of temporary faith.

    Justifying Faith distinguished from Temporary Faith (part 1)

    Justifying Faith distinguished from Temporary Faith (part 2)

    Justifying Faith distinguished from Temporary Faith (part 3)

  58. curate said,

    November 30, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    no. 53

    Just got back from Ireland. Had a fab time.

    It seems that you have understood me fairy well. However, some of the implications that you find in my position I don’t agree with, because I don’t agree that they necessarily follow, and I don’t believe some of the implications that you think you have identified.

    Comments below.

    1) Individuals in these two groups (elect / non-elect) who have been justified are indistinguishable (humanly speaking) until God takes back these gifts from the non-elect. And, these spiritual gifts include: regeneration, saving faith, justification, sanctification, indwelling of the Spirit, eternal life, etc.

    Yes, I think that I go along with that. That is the point of the parable of the wheat and the tares, is it not? Tares look exactly like wheat, and it is only at harvest that they become identifiable.

    2) Regardless of ones affections or concerns or efforts, no living person who believes that he/she has been justified and who also shares your views really has any reason to feel secure concerning their eternal destiny. That is, nothing in their experience confirms whether they are among the elect or the non-elect.

    Not so. Every person who truly believes and repents has assurance that he is saved, and will be saved. Those who fall away have only the assurance of the fire that consumes. Assurance of salvation is for repenters only.

    One qualification is that there are different degrees of assurance, that depend upon the amount of faith one has, and diligence in obeying God’s commands.

    3) God’s character (i.e., His faithfulness and truthfulness) is trashed! He says in many places that He guarantees the eternal security of the ones He saves. [e.g., John 5:24 -- “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”]

    You are confusing things that must be kept distinguished. God’s character is most certainly upheld by the FV doctrine. Look at the passage you quoted. It says that he who hears and believes Jesus’ word, and believes in the Father, has eternal life.

    We are saying the exact same thing.

    We are emphasizing the condition of remaining within God’s grace, which is faith and obedience. Those who endure will infallibly be saved. Those who do not will infallibly be destroyed.

    Surely you are not quibbling about that?

    Now, it turns out that there is a category of individual never explicitly identified in Scripture that is only temporarily given eternal life.

    This individual is not only explicitly identified, but scripture uses up a great deal of ink in describing him, and warning us not to follow his example. Hebrews, II Peter, Jude, etc. etc. etc. …

    – whatever temporary eternal might mean.

    The word translated as eternal is literally of the age, or, the life of the age to come, or, the ages of ages.

    In the commonly accepted sense it doesn’t mean eternal at all. That other definition of eternal means outside of time and space.

    The one who hears and believes has the life of the age to come. What does that mean? It means that the believer will be raised immortal, to live here on earth, in the age that will succeed this present evil age, without an end.

    It is about unfathomable amounts of time, not being outside of time.

    Thus to say that one has the life of the age to come means that one will be raised immortal. But it is not without reference to faith and works. The condition is perseverance in faith and obedience. As James says, faith without works cannot save.

    Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. Take another look at that passage. It doesn’t say nothing can separate us from God’s love, period. There is a qualifying clause – the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. if you remove yourself from Christ Jesus you have removed yourself from God’s love.

    Grace and peace.

  59. rfwhite said,

    November 30, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    David Weiner, re: #52 and #56,

    Thanks for interacting.

    Here are some of my reasons for interpreting the judgment on apostates as eternal in 6:8 and its context. There is a clear link in the immediate context between the “judgment” parable of 6:7-8 and the “eternal judgment” doctrine in 6:2. Also, the imagery of divine fire is used three more times in Hebrews: describing the apostates’ judgment (10:27); describing Mt. Sinai (12:18); and describing the eschatological conflagration of the present creation (12:25-29). In carrying out his fiery judgment, God consumes his adversaries, who include apostates.

    If I’m reading you correctly, you interpret the illustration in 6:7-8 as teaching that the ultimate telos of the apostate’s punishment is restoration, not condemnation. According to this interpretation, the imagery of the parable is taken from the ancient agricultural practice of burning useless growth from fields that would otherwise remain unfruitful. The end envisioned for the fields thus burned was their restoration as producers of useful vegetation. Applying this imagery to the condition of apostates, it has been reasoned that the apostates’ punishment is disciplinary suffering designed by God to restore the apostate to fruitfulness.

    Initially, this interpretation of the parable in 6:7-8 seems illuminating to me too. On closer inspection, however, it seems to me that the correspondence between the author’s illustration and the ancient agricultural practice breaks down at the most crucial point of all. The text’s explicit witness to the worthless land’s destiny under divine curse and its end in fire exposes the eisegetical nature of a reading that would discern a destiny under divine blessing and an end in fruitfulness.

    The telos envisioned for the unprofitable field in 6:8 is not restoration under God’s blessing, but incineration under God’s curse. F. F. Bruce, rightly, it seems to me, sees a parallel to Heb 6:7-8 in Isaiah’s use (ch. 5) of the vineyard parable to portray Israel’s cursed destiny. Westcott refers us to Virgil, Georgics, 1:84ff., for the ancient agricultural practice but in the end he discounts the applicability of the practice to the exegesis of the parable in Hebrews 6. I can’t rehearse their comments here. I take it, then, that the parable teaches that the apostate’s ultimate destiny is to be cursed, not blessed, by God, while his telos/end is to be consumed, not refined, by theophanic fire.

    On the eternality–or, better, finality–of the judgment on apostates in 10:27, 30-31, their punishment is said to be a judgment more severe than a death without mercy–a concept inconsistent with any merely temporal or physical death, much less disciplinary death (which is, by definition, in part, merciful). The context of Heb 10 is reflecting on the prospects of final reward and punishment (10:35-36; cf. 9:15) at Christ’s second advent (10:37-38; cf. 9:27-28; 12:25-29). In keeping with these observations, the NT lexical evidence shows that, in contexts invoking one’s prospects for judgment or salvation, apōleia (10:39) invariably connotes eternal condemnation. Given their occurrence in an eschatological context, then, it seems best to say that peripoiēsis (10.39) designates the believer’s eternal reward, apōleia (10.39), together with krisis (10.27), timōria (10.29), and ekdikēsis (10.30), designates the apostate’s eternal punishment.

    I agree with you that no one in Hebrews loses their salvation or eternal security.

  60. David Gadbois said,

    December 1, 2008 at 4:06 am

    Curate said It pleases God to regenerate and justify some who are not elect. Hebrews 6 and 10.

    Proof positive that Anglicanism is not Reformed, even for all of the overlap that may exist in some sectors of Anglicanism. If you can’t get past the Rejection of Errors in the Canons or Dordt, you aren’t Reformed. These folks belong in Lutheran or Anglican pulpits, not in the pulpits of Westminster Standards churches or 3 Forms of Unity churches.

  61. rfwhite said,

    December 1, 2008 at 8:22 am

    Granting for the sake of discussion that God regenerates and justifies some who are not elect, is there a biblical or theological basis for explaining why God is pleased to regenerate and justify only some and not all of the elect?

    If, as you say, it pleases God to permit some of the non-elect to share in the blessings for a time, then that is the way it is. He is glorified in it.

    Help us out by explaining how God is glorified by permitting the non-elect to share in the blessings for a time.

  62. David Weiner said,

    December 1, 2008 at 9:27 am

    curate, re: # 58,

    Glad you got back save and sound so that we can finally reach agreement on the truth. (a little humor; at least I was smiling)

    Tares look exactly like wheat, and it is only at harvest that they become identifiable.

    Tares seem a little off the subject but I can’t resist commenting. The tares were the sons of the devil and never had any of the spiritual gifts we have been discussing. At least, I can’t find any way to support that they did from the text. So, no, the tares are not like the ones who are saved and then, according to your view, ‘throw it away.’ And clearly they were identifiable as soon as they appeared and that was well before the harvest (Matthew 13:28).

    The mountain I am trying to scale is that we agree that none of us can save ourselves and yet you say there are some of us who can throw it away. While you say there are many passages that support this view, Hebrews 6 and 10 have been our focus here. We both agree that the individuals discussed there are saved at the time of the warnings (else, what’s the point?) and that the warnings sound like they involve dire consequences. So far so good. Now, you see the warnings being about salvation and I see the warnings being about fruitlessness. Are there specific phrases in these passages that actually provide the warrant for interpreting the context as being about loss of salvation?

    “Assurance of salvation is for repenters only.” Yes, but, how does one know that he/she has actually repented. According to you, God gives the elect and some non-elect the same spiritual gifts initially. Don’t you think that both types think their repentance is genuine? So, if both types understand your view, then on what basis can either of them feel secure? The only time that I can see the elect being secure is when he/she looks back and says, ‘AHA, I persevered!’ (note the foolish use of ‘I’).

  63. rfwhite said,

    December 1, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Sorry. Let me rephrase the first line of #61: “Granting for the sake of discussion that God regenerates and justifies some who are not elect, is there a biblical or theological basis for explaining why God is pleased to regenerate and justify only some and not all of those who are not elect?”

  64. curate said,

    December 1, 2008 at 10:23 am

    no. 61

    God is glorified by demonstrating his punitive justice.

  65. curate said,

    December 1, 2008 at 10:24 am

    no. 62

    I think that I have answered all these questions already David.

  66. curate said,

    December 1, 2008 at 10:33 am

    no. 63

    We have to deal with the biblical text as it is. The text speaks of those who have been sanctified by the blood of Christ who afterwards trample it underfoot. We have to take the text as it is, and deal with it.

    I suspect that the answer to your question is the same one that it always is – it pleases God to do as he pleases. The why is that it pleases God to harden whom he hardens, and no-one can turn back his arm, or say to him, what have you done? The pot does not have the right to interrogate its maker.

    The temporary believers are still the non-elect, and the purpose of their creation is the glorification of God’s justice in their destruction, as Paul teaches us.

  67. David Weiner said,

    December 1, 2008 at 11:09 am

    rfwhite, re: #59,

    Wow! a superb post. Bottom line, I have been focused on dealing with temporal salvation as an error and had not really focused on the details of judgment on the believer who falls away. So, I want to deal with your post before blurting out any (more) foolishness.

    There is a clear link in the immediate context between the “judgment” parable of 6:7-8 and the “eternal judgment” doctrine in 6:2.

    I see this and I also see that ‘eternal judgment’ is but one of the doctrines in the list of what these Hebrews had received when they had been saved. So, I am unsure of what weight to give this phrase.

    In carrying out his fiery judgment, God consumes his adversaries, who include apostates.

    I am having trouble seeing those Hebrews who ‘fall away’ as being equated with god’s adversaries in any of the Hebrew passages. The fury of the fire of judgment is the same; but, the use seems different.

    If I’m reading you correctly, you interpret the illustration in 6:7-8 as teaching that the ultimate telos of the apostate’s punishment is restoration, not condemnation.

    Thank you, I was sloppy there. Indeed, the ultimate end of the field is not agricultural. It is burned because the owner decides that it is not going to ever produce anything but thorns and thistles. It is not destroyed; but, it is useless as far as producing fruit is concerned. I believe that Hebrews is teaching that the one who truly falls away suffers severe punishment at the Judgment Seat of Christ ( not to mention any temporal consequences that he may also face ). In the mean time, since we don’t know what the end is, we should be about restoration.

    I agree with what you put forth about the apostate’s eternal punishment. The question still in my mind is can a believer (justified) in fact become such an apostate. The writer says that those to whom he is writing (I believe he was writing to those Hebrews who had truly been saved) ‘are not of those who shrink back to destruction.’ Shrink back, possibly; to destruction, no. I guess I keep coming back to – it is God who saves; and it is God who preserves. But, preservation may indeed involve severe punishment when we choose sin. Yet, sin that has been paid for regarding the believer.

  68. rfwhite said,

    December 1, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    David Weiner, re: #67, thanks again for the interaction. On the “question still in [your] mind,” my answer would be, “no, a believer (one justified by faith) cannot become such an apostate.” I would add that, since the one justified by faith cannot become such an apostate, he is not liable to and will not suffer the punishment that an apostate suffers, though the Lord will not leave him without discipline (Heb 12:5-11).

  69. rfwhite said,

    December 1, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    curate, re: #64

    Forgive me, but I’m not following you. You have said that God is glorified by permitting the non-elect to share in the blessings for a time. When asked to explain how God is glorified by permitting the non-elect to share in the blessings for a time, you answer, “God is glorified by demonstrating his punitive justice.”

    It seems to me that your answer tells us how God is glorified in judging the non-elect. You haven’t, however, told us how God is glorified by permitting the non-elect to share in the blessings of salvation for a time.

    Additional question: how do the non-elect appropriate the blessings that they share with the elect for a time?

  70. rfwhite said,

    December 1, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    curate, re: 66, thanks for taking a stab at my questions. I think we all agree that we should take the biblical text as it is and deal with it. But what are you driving at with such statements: do you mean to say that presupposition-less exegesis is possible for finite and sinful interpreters?

    Certainly we can agree with you that the purpose of the creation of the non-elect is the glorification of God’s justice in their destruction, as Paul teaches us. But, when it comes to asking for the biblical or theological explanation for why it pleases God to regenerate and justify non-elect (but not all of them), let me give an example of what I’m asking. We ordinarily hear affirmations such as Christ purchased the benefits of regeneration and justification for His elect. More broadly, we say that Christ died for the elect. One point we make when we say this is that the regeneration and justification of God’s elect is based on the work of Christ for them. So my question to you might be reworded: did Christ purchase regeneration and justification for the non-elect? Did Christ die for the non-elect? In other words, what is the basis of God’s regeneration and justification of the non-elect?

  71. Curate said,

    December 2, 2008 at 1:24 am

    no. 69

    How (is) God is glorified by permitting the non-elect to share in the blessings for a time

    I get it now. Sorry. I always think eschatologically about God’s glory. Probably because that is when Paul locates the final revelation of both God’s mercy and wrath in the context of election and reprobation.

    I had not thought about this question before, and I can’t think of a passage offhand that does directly, except that the Lord of creation always does what is right, being who he is.

    Bottom line is that we have to deal with texts that ascribe the benefits of salvation to some who fall.

    Additional question: how do the non-elect appropriate the blessings that they share with the elect for a time?

    Through the normal means of grace, which are the word and the sacraments, just like everyone else.

    You will probable reply that these are effective for the elect only, to which I will reply that the Bible does not agree, by necessary implication, since it attributes justification and the gift of the Spirit to some of those who fall away.

  72. Curate said,

    December 2, 2008 at 1:51 am

    no. 70

    do you mean to say that presupposition-less exegesis is possible for finite and sinful interpreters?

    Nothing so sophisticated. I mean to say that the texts are as plain and as clear and as simple as can be. They require very little comprehension when they are taken in their grammatical and historical sense.

    That is the sum of everything I am saying.

    Take II Peter as a fresh example. He predicts that many saved people will run after false teachers and be lost.

    2Pet. 2:18   For when they (false teachers) speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error.

    You will say that they never were saved, yet the inspired apostle says that they actually escaped from those who live in error. No ifs or buts, no hypothetical cases here, but real people in a real situation.

    Without intending offence, it is your overly-rigid idea of election that is preventing you from accepting what is in front of you, so that you have to are compelled to force the texts to deny their plain meaning.

    Let the Bible modify your doctrine of election. I once thought as you do, but in teaching Hebrews and Acts, the text forced me to a better understanding.

  73. Curate said,

    December 2, 2008 at 3:04 am

    no. 70

    In other words, what is the basis of God’s regeneration and justification of the non-elect?

    Hebrews 10 says that these apostates were sanctified (justified) by the blood.

    I cannot speak about the non-elect at large, except to observe that they share in the wider blessings of the cross, such as the general improvement in society that the elect bring about.

  74. rfwhite said,

    December 2, 2008 at 8:37 am

    Curate, re: 77, 72, 73, thanks for responding to my questions. The most striking and arresting part of your comments, for me at least, is that you have told us that your understanding of the text is better (plainer, simpler, clearer) than that of others. Validation of one’s interpretation is sought by every interpreter I’ve known or read. In that light, can you tell us how you came to the knowledge that your understanding is better than that of others?

  75. Curate said,

    December 2, 2008 at 11:38 am

    no. 74

    It is a pleasure to answer real questions.

    The most striking thing from my side is that people with your reading are not exegeting the text using the grammatical and historical method at all. Not at all.

    Please don’t take that as a personal dig, but as an honest opinion made without rancour.

    It seems to me that all of you come to the text with a particular take on election, namely, that only the truly elect receive any benefits of the cross, and then try to find a way to read the text that confirms that preconceived idea.

    I think that I will name your exegesis the Doctrinal Makeover Method.

    What kind of validation do you have in mind? Have you shown me to be ungrammatical and unhistorical? I don’t believe that that has been your approach. Most of your assertions and probes are doctrinal, not exegetical.

    My argument is that the numerous texts that are quoted in this debate say plainly what they mean. I think that all of you have vastly over-complicated the text. Most of the Bible is really simple and straight-forward. Very little of it is difficult.

    Read the text like a child. Take it at face value unless the text itself gives you a reason for a different reading.

  76. David Gadbois said,

    December 2, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Note that since Curate thinks that we can ditch the P in TULIP (Perseverance of the Saints), we unsurprisingly find that the L (Limited Atonement) is the next to go.

  77. Curate said,

    December 2, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    No. 76

    Just for the record, TULIP describes the elect, not the others, and we have been talking about the others.

  78. curate said,

    December 2, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Actually, please delete my previous comment.

  79. rfwhite said,

    December 2, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Curate, re; 74, given what you have said, I anticipate that it will come as a complete surprise to you that I am inclined to agree substantially with you that the blessings attributed to apostates in Hebrews include blessings common to all (elect or not) as well as blessings that literally belong uniquely (specially) to the elect.

  80. rfwhite said,

    December 2, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    curate, re: 74 — more briefly and more to the point, I agree substantially that the blessings attributed to apostates include aspects of a true conversion experience.

  81. rfwhite said,

    December 2, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    curate, re: 75, turning to what you asked, “What kind of validation do you have in mind?” Actually, I was referring to validation as discussed in E. D. Hirsch’s Validity in Interpretation. I only meant to make a statement that is common to all of us who endeavor to interpret the text responsibly, namely, we all seek assurance that our conclusions are sound.

    You also asked, “Have you shown me to be ungrammatical and unhistorical? I don’t believe that that has been your approach. Most of your assertions and probes are doctrinal, not exegetical.” I agree. There is little discussion of evidence of any kind by any of us; there is a lot of discussion of conclusions.

  82. Curate said,

    December 3, 2008 at 1:46 am

    no.81

    I am indeed surprised at no’s 79 and 80. How do you differ then?

    On validation as you describe it, I have found back-up for my readings from one of the best Presbyterian theologians and exegetes alive today – Steve Wilkins.

    Then there are the other FV men who have found the same things in scripture, as well as the many others, like the Lutherans and the English delegation to Dort, who have been quoted ad nauseam.

    On the FV itself, it is one of the most helpfully articulated exegetical tools of the modern time. Almost all of the Bible is written from the historical/covenantal/federal point of view. Seeing this enables the Calvinist to read the Bible on its own terms, freeing him from imposing the so-called eternal perspective where it is not relevant.

    As a biblical theologian, one who already read the Bible historically, I have found it to be a most useful aid in exegesis.

    Puritan exegesis is an example of non-historical/topical exegesis. Texts are mined for doctrines, or, eternal truths. This explains in part the present controversy.

    Both methods are doctrinal in the end, but the Puritan method largely ignores the history and narrative of the Bible by imposing a primarily topical imperative.

    There is little discussion of evidence of any kind by any of us; there is a lot of discussion of conclusions.

    Actually, I have been using texts as proofs and conclusions in and of themselves. I understand myself to have been arguing from proof texts – texts as proofs, not arguments as proofs. The most recent one was II Peter, which has not been answered to date.

    I have found over and over that powerful arguments have been side-stepped by my debating partners, or answered by non-sequiturs and new assertions.

  83. GLW Johnson said,

    December 3, 2008 at 7:25 am

    …. curate you are a insufferable boor.

  84. GLW Johnson said,

    December 3, 2008 at 8:19 am

    … sorry, curate , that was too harsh-you have my apologies…I just find you a bit overbearing in your smugness.

  85. rfwhite said,

    December 3, 2008 at 8:28 am

    curate, re: 81, I am afraid that it is too evident that I am of too little use to you for whatever purposes you are pursuing here. So I will bow out for now with just a couple of comments.

    For one thing, you asked how I differ from you: it hangs on my answer to the question, is the experience of those saving blessings attributed literally or figuratively to apostates? If you’re interested, you can see my answer in “Covenant and Apostasy,” in E. Calvin Beisner, ed., The Auburn Avenue Theology, Pros & Cons: Debating the Federal Vision. Also, I have discussed my view here and there on this blog.

    Beyond that–and this is my second observation–in my view, we are regularly talking past each other to such a degree that the chasm cannot be bridged in this medium. To this point, our interaction has consisted, in large measure, of quoting texts and calling it argumentation. I suspect both of us can and should find better ways to redeem our time in these evil days.

  86. Curate said,

    December 3, 2008 at 11:07 am

    No. 84

    Apology accepted. I am trying plain straight talking. Sorry that it seems like smugness.

    My intent is to avoid subtlety and confusion, and to try to point out where I believe you chaps have gone wrong.

  87. Curate said,

    December 3, 2008 at 11:14 am

    no. 85

    I too have had my say.

    is the experience of those saving blessings attributed literally or figuratively to apostates?

    Please point out from the relevant texts the figurative indicators, if you are still in.

    To this point, our interaction has consisted, in large measure, of quoting texts and calling it argumentation.

    When texts are clear, quoting them is argumentation indeed. They are the supreme authority after all!

    You seem to imply that the explanation of the text is better than the text itself at conveying its meaning. It implies that the text is the source of theology, not theology in its purest form.

  88. Reed Here said,

    December 3, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Roger, no. 87:

    No disrespect, but you seem to be ingoring in your own arguments (“proof-texting”) the same kind of presuppositional errors your read in Dr. White’s responses.

    Dr. White is not offering a mere explanation of the text. He is offering an explanation of the text informed by other texts. I know you agree with the only valid hermeneutical principle, Scripture interprets Scripture. To say that your “text alone” interpretation is more valid than Dr. White’s “informed by other texts” interpretation is more valid is pleading your presupposition of the accuracy of your own position (not the meaning of the text).

    As has been pointed out in prior conversations, exegesis of the text, informed by the exegesis of other texts, is the way we arrive at accuracy in interpretation.

    Neither Dr. White no you have offered that in this format. You indeed are merely asserting without proof. You may be right (I disagree as you know), yet it is not right for you to simply claim your interpretation is accurate, unless/until disproven by others.

  89. curate said,

    December 3, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    no. 88

    I have cross-referenced many texts that all teach similar things, namely Hebrews 6 and 10, II Peter, Jude, the parable of the sower, the vine and the branches, and there are many others.

    Therefore I have been using the very method that you suggest – scripture explaining scripture.

    Having said that, some of these passages are so clear that they do not need extra validation.

    By the text alone I do not mean the verse alone, which I am hearing you say, or the pericope alone, but the Bible alone. Sorry for that misunderstanding.

    If you or anyone else can show me the literary indicators for a figurative reading of Hebrews 6 and 10, which R.F. White suggests are there, I would be eager to hear them, and adjust my reading accordingly.

  90. Reed Here said,

    December 3, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Again, roger, no disrespect, but siting other verses is nothing more than proof-texting . You have offered some brief insights to the meaning of the text, as has Dr. White.

    My point is not to get into the exegetical discussion. Rather, my only point was to challenge you for calling the kettle black. That’s all. Dr. White is right; the work involved on both sides to work through the exegetical issues is hampered by both this setting and our time commitments.

  91. rfwhite said,

    December 3, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Reed, perhaps it is worth repeating this once that the exegetical discussion (or at least a major portion of it) desired can be found in the essay and posts I already mentioned in #85. Perhaps I need to add that I am not so naive as to believe that it will satisfy all. In any event, as the saying goes, “Tolle lege.”

  92. Reed Here said,

    December 3, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Dr. White,

    Yes, I was intending to re-emphasize that and forgot to do so. Thanks!

    Roger, as Dr. White’s exegetical arguments have been out there for sometime now, might it be valuable for you to demonstrate where he is wrong?

  93. curate said,

    December 4, 2008 at 1:32 am

    Again, roger, no disrespect, but siting other verses is nothing more than proof-texting.

    Proof-texting is a valid way to argue Reed.

    I remember at College making a disparaging remark about it, with the attitude that it was simplistic, and the Principal corrected me.

    If one considers the biblical text to be a mine from which nuggets of truth are collected and re-arranged systematically and topically, it suggests that those results are the highest form of theology.

    This is the Puritan and scholastic method.

    If, on the other hand, one thinks of the Bible as the end result of the theological process, being theology in its purest form, a different approach will be taken – the historical and grammatical method.

    Plain assertions of scripture can then be held up as final.

    Difficult passages will naturally require work, as we all agree.

    My assertion is that the pericopes that we have discussed on this thread fall into the clear category, first, and that they corroborate and confirm one another, second.

    The conundrum is how to explain texts that are self-explanatory! (No sarcasm or snideness intended, with compliments to GLW).

    That is the impasse.

  94. Reed Here said,

    December 4, 2008 at 9:24 am

    Roger:

    No, I’m not dissing proof-texting, I’m challenging merely proof-texting.

    I do recognize that you have referenced other verses that you believe support your interpretation of a given verse. Yet that is nothing more than a second layer of proof-texting.

    I think a better process would be to exegete a passage, beyond the confines of the point you believe you’ve found, and then square that with the exegesis of other passages dealing with the same subject.

    This is the process that has led us to the doctrine of election that you are suggesting needs revision. This is not the process I have yet to see in any of the FV writers. Or, what I have seen is decidedly unconvincing.

    If I want to study the Arminian concept of Free Will (have done this, thanks presbytery ordination committee), I don’t want to limit myself to merely interacting with their proof-texts. At that level all I’m am able to do is throw proof-texts back at them. No, I need to examine their in-depth exegesis of the critical passages, and then see how well they’ve woven their cloth, and how well it matches the cloth I see woven in Scripture.

    This was Dr. White’s final point to you. At this point, in this setting, the discussion cannot rise to the level of interaction needed to address the differences.

    As to your observation that these are clear passages, no sarcasm either :), but I think I’m comfortable with the majority of the Church that believes these passages are not as clear as you think.

  95. curate said,

    December 5, 2008 at 1:50 am

    I think I’m comfortable with the majority of the Church that believes these passages are not as clear as you think.

    Is that the one, holy, catholic, and Presbyterian Church of North America? :)

    Thanks for spelling out the exegetical method you have in mind. Here is example of what I have in mind.

    I have two Bramley apple trees in my garden.

    How difficult is it to exegete this sentence? Not at all, moderate difficulty, or very hard? I would suggest that it is very easy, and requires simple comprehension at the level of a young child.

    I could add detail to the sentence, but the basic facts will remain the same.

    Any child reading this sentence immediately knows its meaning without resort to the method you propose.

    Peter says that false teachers lead astray those who have actually escaped, and that many Christians will run after them.

    Comprehension difficulty level? Very easy.

    I propose to you that you are asserting that Peter’s meaning is the OPPOSITE of what he actually says, so that he REALLY means is this:

    False teachers do not and cannot lead astray those who have actually escaped, and no Christians will run after them, except for those who only thought that they had escaped, but had never really done so.

    I also propose that it is not your exegetical method that leads you to that conclusion, but your prior commitment to a particular view of election and salvation.

    If you followed your exegetical method you would arrive at the same conclusion as me, but via the long way home.

    You have simply given the text a doctrinal makeover.

  96. Reed Here said,

    December 5, 2008 at 7:37 am

    I do understand what you think is the flaw I use in my exegetical method. I think you are imputing flaws that do not exist.

    Look Roger, this is a discussion where you are going to keep saying, “it’s straightforward,” I’m going to say, “you’re just asserting,” you’re going to say, “no I’m not, you’re making it too difficult,” I’m going to say,

    “no I’m not and I don’t have time to do the work needed to demonstrate that.”

    As to the (friendly) accusation of my narrow catholic church, next we dive into quoting various scholars, and then disagreeing over what they meant.

    Sorry Roger, I really do not have time to go any further.

  97. GLW Johnson said,

    December 5, 2008 at 8:42 am

    curate
    After the ink blot test, what did the doctors do next?


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