True Calvinism

Here is a great post on Owen’s theology that demonstrates the folly of the Arminian position and the logical certitude of the Calvinist position.

Jude 5

Yet another passage abused in favor of FV theology is Jude 5:

“Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.”

Steve Wilkins (ab)uses this passage on page 15 of his exam, where he says, “Thus Jude 5 can speak of the Israelites as having been ‘saved,’ and then destroyed, because they did not persevere.”

Two points need to be addressed: the first is that this was a physical salvation from Egypt. To make an automatic parallel to our spiritual salvation from this needs to be argued, not simply asserted.

Secondly, the context indicates that Jude is talking about the false teachers, not about people in the congregation. This is clear from verse 4: “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” That they “crept in” indicates that they certainly do not belong to the flock. In fact, they were predestined (“long ago were designated”) for this condemnation. They never were part of the flock. That is the point of the illustration. That this is the correct interpretation is proved decisively by the continuation in verse 8, which speaks again of those false teachers (“these people also”). He speaks of them not as members of “us,” but as “them.” Therefore, Wilkins’s interpretation does not follow from the text at all.

Wilkins’s exam, part 9

I think we have a very telling remark on page 15 of the exam just where Wilkins is on the distinction between the elect and the non-elect in the visible church. Here is the full quotation:

First, differs in its duration. (emphasis his) The elect person perseveres and remains in a state of grace until the end of his life. The non-elect eventually forsakes his faith and falls away from the state of grace. And second, it differes qualitatively. (emphasis his) The elect person’s forgiveness in time is an anticipation of his final vindication at the last judgment. The non-elect’s “forgiveness” is not. Although the non-elect person has standing for a time in the church which is (the) “realm” of the forgiven, his justification is not the judgment he will receive from God at the last day. Ultimately, it seems to me to be impossible systematically to define and enumerate what all these qualitative differences may be. (emphasis mine) To the degree that we can even identify any differences, we can only do so retrospectively, after an individual has moved significantly along the path of rebellion and unbelief toward apostasy.

Contrary to what Mark Horne has been saying in the comments to previous entries, Wilkins’s saying that there are differences between the elect and the non-elect is highly compromised by the italicized wording in the text. Impossible systematically to define? What in the world is the ordo salutis if not a systematic enumeration of the qualitative differences between the elect and the non-elect? Now, to be fair to Wilkins, he says “all these differences.” It is not as if he hasn’t listed any differences. However, he is by no means clear on whether the ordo salutis is only for the elect. He fudges on it, especially in Federal Vision, pp. 58ff. The ordo salutis is only for the elect, and that systematically and clearly defines the boundary between the elect and the non-elect. The last sentence of the quotation indicates why Wilkins has this confusion. He thinks that these differences have to be differences that one can see. However, Wilkins does not acknowledge that the Bible also speaks from God’s point of view, enumerating very clearly the differences between the elect and the non-elect. Here are some of the things that the elect have that the non-elect don’t have: eternal election, ultimate forgiveness of sins, justification, regeneration, adoption as sons, sanctification, glorification. According to Wilkins, saying this is impossible. Nevertheless, what I have said is precisely what the WCF says in 3.6. Impossible? Hardly.