Tempted By the Tiber?

All of the hoopla surrounding Stellman has reminded me of the importance of this question: how do we build our theology? And if we are tempted by the Tiber, how do we go about resolving the questions that arise?

I think that the Bayly brothers have some excellent advice. I would modify it a bit by saying that anyone tempted by the Tiber should concentrate on two issues: justification and Scripture.

On either of these issues, a person should scour the Reformed tradition to see if there are good answers to their specific questions. Do not neglect the older authors, either. On justification, one should read (at least!) the following three books: Owen, Buchanan, and Fesko. It wouldn’t hurt either to do some digging in the OPC study committee report to learn why union with Christ does not make imputation redundant, but rather ensures that imputation is not a legal fiction. These resources would be a bare minimum of what a person should read.

On Scripture, I cannot even stress the importance of Whitaker strongly enough. If you read no other book on Scripture, read Whitaker. This is BY FAR the best book ever written on Scripture from the Protestant perspective. And there are plenty of other great books out there. I would also recommend volume 2 of Muller’s Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics (which is out of print, so you’ll have to find it on Bookfinder or ABEBooks). Pay particular attention to the perspecuity of Scripture, as this is the primary sticking point between Rome and Geneva.

One final word to young theologians: build your theology from the older masters. The reason for this is two-fold: 1. Not only are their works tried and true, having been analyzed more often than modern works, but also, 2. The fountain of the Reformed faith is less likely to be quirky than later theologians. So build your theology on Calvin, Turretin, a’Brakel, and Bavinck. This is not to say that modern theologians like Horton and Kelly should not be read. They should be. However, those guys would be the first to admit that you should read the older theologians first. This will give you a stronger and more centered root to your theology.


  1. smpsndj said,

    June 6, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Whitaker is gold. I might also add to the list William Goode’s 3 volume The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, which was written in response to the Tractarian movement at Oxford. Unfortunately, I have only found it on Archive.com or Google books, and I wish someone like RHB would publish it.

  2. greenbaggins said,

    June 6, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Yes, Goode is on my reading list. It is very hard to obtain. Also, since it is so long, I didn’t put it on the list. But I agree that it is a very important set.

  3. Richard said,

    June 6, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Do you know when Kelly’s second volume is due to be published?

  4. locirari said,

    June 6, 2012 at 11:34 am


    Excellent advice and solid reading recommendations! Thanks.

  5. Devin Rose said,

    June 6, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    “The fountain of the Reformed faith is less likely to be quirky than later theologians.”

    Why is that?

  6. jedpaschall said,

    June 6, 2012 at 1:24 pm


    For the same reasons that Catholics give more weight to theologians such as Aquinas, their theology has had the chance to stand the test of time, answering long-asked questions. Modern theologies do not have the privilege of knowing if the questions asked in their generation will be asked by later generations – some issues dealt with in modern times might be idiosynchratic and localized to the modern era alone.

  7. Richard said,

    June 6, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    @Devin: Whilst I am not convinced that the term ‘quirky’ is the best adjective, I think we need to consider the body of knowledge available to us now when compared to what was available to them then. In the pre-critical era things were much simpler and that is reflected in their dogmatic statements and formulation, how can one write a post-critical reformed dogmatics today in such a way that it would resemble pre-critical works? I am not sure it is possible, but maybe I am being overly pessimistic.

  8. Jeff Meyers said,

    June 6, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    A different perspective:


  9. theogothic said,

    June 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    As someone who strongly felt the pull of the East, I would encourage people to read historical, Scholastic reformed sources. (The magisterial Reformation today can only be defended magisterially) Do nothing but Read Richard Muller’s works for a few months. If a person simply reads a few “pop” Reformed works by keller, Piper, and Driscoll, how will he stand against Perry Robinson or Bryan Cross?

  10. RubeRad said,

    June 6, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    I bet Stellman read most, if not all, of that recommended reading list.

  11. Jim said,

    June 6, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Reading books isn’t the solution, at least not the whole solution. One must study the Scriptures deeply on the topic. Books will help. But be prepared to still have questions. Reading some list of “great” Reformed works doesn’t guarantee agreement with the doctrines therein, even if you really want to agree. The list Lane gives will convince one group every time: the group that is already convinced.

    There is this belief among the hyper-Confessional crowd that is so well represented on this blog, that one should not have questions, at least after you’ve read enough. If you don’t have deep questions that sometimes cause you to doubt things you know, you’re not studying the Bible enough.

    The Bible is messy. Too many Reformed folks, in fact, the Reformed world in general, wants to makes it all neat and tidy. It’s not. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense; sometimes there is no good answer; and *GASP* sometimes the old, dead guys don’t have the answer or have the wrong answer.

  12. Paul Buckley said,

    June 6, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    No doubt James Jordan’s much despised hereabouts, but if it weren’t for his writings on worship, I’d probably be Orthodox by now. He’s kept me from going East. (Though there are Catholic writers I appreciate, I’ve never felt the existential pull toward Rome.)

  13. Nathanael said,

    June 6, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Perhaps you haven’t seen yet but Peter Leithart has weighed in on this situation:

  14. June 6, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Jim (#11): I agree. It’s been my experience that Reformed people, when wanting to answer a theological or exegetical question, will almost automatically head for the Westminster Standards or some book by some old dead guy first, instead of picking up their Bibles first. Now, I don’t want to denigrate either the Standards or the old dead guys, but I sometimes get the idea that, although Reformed people may respect and love the Scriptures, they’re absolutely obsessed by the confessional standards. I’ve been told, at least once, that not only can the Westminster Standards not ever be changed, they can’t even be questioned. Fortunately, the vast majority of Reformed folks haven’t gone *that* far, but there does seem to be, in my opinion, too much focus on creeds and confessions (as helpful as they are) and not enough on the Scriptures. After all, the Bible is inspired, inerrant, and infallible. Creeds and confessions are not.

  15. June 6, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    Yep, Jeff, Barlow’s and Leithart’s posts are real pieces of work. It doesn’t sound like some really understand the importance of confessionalism and how it keeps denominations like the PCA largely on the gospel path. Why do people with a low view of confessionalism remain in the PCA until finally blasted out by the SJC? And why to their presbyteries continue cover for them? I repeat, at least Jason had the courage and integrity to do the right thing when his views were clearly out of accord with the Standards. Oh that others would display that same integrity.

  16. Paul Buckley said,

    June 6, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    I’d also like to piggyback on what Jim (comment No. 11) said about books not being the whole solution:

    Pastor Lane, your required-reading list is probably great for people of a certain intellectual/theological bent who’ve got lots of time. I’m not sure it’ll work for, say, a busy college student who is starved by the meagerness of evangelical worship and who finds that the Orthodox or Anglo-Catholic priest down the street is of more pastoral help — in part because he doesn’t think all the answers come in books, in part because he has more time to give — than her evangelical pastor. Said someone or other: “When I go to my priest friend for help, he prays with me. When I go to my Reformed pastor, he gives me books.”

    I’m not suggesting that you, Pastor Lane, think all the answers come in books. And of course there’s no reason to oppose prayer and books. Why not both?

    But there is truth to this caricature about “us” Reformed. And a student such as I describe will, I suspect, need more than Bavinck, even if she gets around to reading all four volumes. I’ve seen or known of such situations more than once. Someone attracted to another tradition — not necessarily in its errors or distortions, but *at its best* — will find it hard to resist the pull.

    By all means, make clear what’s at stake doctrinally in the debates between traditions. But evangelicals also need to see that in some areas, particularly worship and sometimes spiritual direction, people are asking for bread, and we’re serving stones.

  17. greenbaggins said,

    June 6, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Paul, my list was for pastors who are thinking of leaving. If they can’t handle reading those kinds of books that I suggested above, then they shouldn’t be in the ministry in the first place. The list would be quite different for a lay-person. William Webster has some great stuff along those lines, as does David King.

  18. Ray D. said,

    June 6, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    All these books may be great, but I suspect that you are on the wrong track.

    Of the people I know of who have left the Reformed faith for Rome or Constantinople, theology itself didn’t appear to be the actual reason, though it may have been a symptom.

    These people started out as ideologues. They were looking for the “best” church, and worked to convince others that the denomination or theology they were part of was the best, and if everyone believed like them, the Church’s problems would be solved. People like this often are promoted as teachers, because they appear to know their stuff. They often appeared to be good apologists because of their zeal, and often we cheered them when they switched from Baptist to Presbyterian, and then wondered what happened when they went from Presbyterian to RC. Then, when doubts crept in, they moved to another theology. Eventually they found themselves at Rome or Constantinople, and that was sometimes a stop on the way to leaving the faith entirely.

    What they lacked was a sense of the Church as home, where they have brothers and sisters that they need to love, and are more or less stuck with. If you have that sense, then Rome is simply not a temptation, even if your theology is far from perfect.

    I don’t know how you instill that sense, especially among pastors, who are at a church but not really in it, and who are, in Reformed polity, rather easy to uproot.

  19. darrelltoddmaurina said,

    June 7, 2012 at 12:27 am

    Paul, I’m surprised by your comment on priests having more time than Protestant pastors to pray with people and do pastoral work.

    If that’s true, it involved an unusual priest or a grossly overworked pastor.

    My read is that Rev. Keister is saying Reformed ministers, who are supposed to be not just students of theology but teachers, need to be reading Reformed books so we can counteract the aberrant theology of Rome when it rears its head, either in their parishioners or in their own hearts. He’s writing to people who **ARE** attracted by the theology of Rome, and need to be equipped to deal with that theology.

    For a layperson who is not theologically inclined, I realize that may not be the best answer.

    However, we need to be teaching our people. Failure to feed sheep results in them wandering into strange places looking for food, and sometimes what looks like food to a hungry sheep is not good for their digestion.

    Church members aren’t required to be theologians, but we need to remember that the Heidelberg Catechism and the Westminster Shorter Catechism were written for **CHILDREN.** How many of our members think even those documents are “too hard?”

    If people don’t know the basics of the Reformed faith — i.e., that to live and die in the comfort of Christ they need to know how great their sin and misery are, how they are set free from all their sins and misery and how they are to thank God for such deliverance — pastors and elders have only themselves to blame. Rome should hold little allure for a properly catechized layperson who knows the basics of the Reformed faith, provided that the layperson understands the enormity of his personal sin and the need for a divine Savior.

    We fail to educate our people at their peril.

  20. David Reece said,

    June 7, 2012 at 1:02 am


    Bavinck teaches that God is ultimately unknowable.

    How can you recommend him in good conscience?

  21. theogothic said,

    June 7, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Right or wrong–and I am not really a Bavinck fan–he is simply summarizing the Reformed scholastics and most of post-Reformation tehology

  22. theogothic said,

    June 7, 2012 at 9:11 am

    And Bavinck teaches that God’s essence is ultimately unknowable, but since person and essence aren’t identical, we can still know God.

  23. michael said,

    June 7, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Jim, putting aside some of the old living guys soon to be dead like some dead guys I know that were living a couple ten or twenty years ago, and putting aside some of the up and coming dead guys still alive and not convinced they, too, are dead, I have to say beside’s Lane’s advice, you seemed to have about as square a peg in a square hole of a comment in here about all this hoopala, especially this: “… It’s not. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense; sometimes there is no good answer; and *GASP* sometimes the old, dead guys don’t have the answer or have the wrong answer.”

    For certain none and I mean none of those old dead guys you speak about wrote about this phenomenon we are experiencing in these days seeing they did not have the speed of the internet or the ability to obtain and read such great volumes of things we have to *GASP*! :)

    What is this old world coming to? Well I, for one, with certainty and assert that this old world is coming to what the Bible says it is coming to.

    It is coming to it’s end, “soon”! :)

    Now, can anyone define how long the length of time “soon” is and means in the Bible?

    Putting it more bluntly, asking, “how soon is soon”?

  24. locirari said,

    June 7, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Richard @ #3:

    I wonder about that too. I’m looking forward to further installments in both Douglas Kelly’s and Richard Gamble’s systematics series.

  25. colin samul said,

    June 7, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    How about some people in our midst are unregenerate, and they will drift towards dead orthodox apostate churches because they came to the reformed faith in the first place because they were attracted to clericalism and formalism. There’s no simple formula to fix this, other than to keep preach the Gospel and pray that God preserve his elect and the church

  26. Mark Kim said,

    June 8, 2012 at 12:16 am

    I honestly don’t know what the temptation is in regards to crossing the Tiber. Having studied some of the theologies coming out of Rome and even being taught by some RCC profs at my school I can honestly say that Rome has lost it when it comes to the gospel.

    I guess some people find the formalism, legalistic morality, and ritualism enticing and that is why they leave places like Dallas, Grand Rapids, or Louisville for places like Rome.

  27. aquinasetc said,

    June 8, 2012 at 8:46 am


    One reason that many formerly Reformed folks cross the Tiber is that they become convinced that the Catholic Church is in fact the Church that Christ founded.

    Another reason they do so is that they become convinced that what the Catholic Church teaches is true.

    These are not the only reasons why people swim the Tiber, but (especially for many of us who were formerly Reformed) they are frequently the most important ones. Speaking for myself, I would never have done so for any less reason than the ones I’ve mentioned.



  28. darrelltoddmaurina said,

    June 8, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Mark Kim said on June 8, 2012 at 12:16 am: “I guess some people find the formalism, legalistic morality, and ritualism enticing and that is why they leave places like Dallas, Grand Rapids, or Louisville for places like Rome.”

    I can’t speak to Dallas or Louisville, but as a Grand Rapids native who went to Calvin College and Calvin Seminary, I can say that the liturgical stuff being taught there is worse than Rome. Traditional Catholics cared about theological integrity and conformity to tradition, and had a centuries-long history of dedication to artistic excellence in music, painting and sculpture. They knew what they were doing, why they were doing it, and were pretty adamant about making sure the right things got done. While there has been a lot of post-Vatican II nonsense in the Roman Catholicism, the last two Popes have done a pretty good job of enforcing the standards of their church, and bishops like Weakland are being replaced by men who have a much more conservative view of the liturgy and of doctrine.

    By contrast, the Grand Rapids style of liturgical worship, as evidenced by the Calvin Institute for Christian Worship, is anything but Reformed and Calvin would repudiate the school that bears his name. See this link: http://worship.calvin.edu/ There are a few good things there, but nothing close to the Reformed view of the regulative principle.

    Catholic worship is idolatry, but at least they have some taste. That’s more than I can say for many of their Protestant imitators.

  29. Ray D. said,

    June 8, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Mark (#26), in some ways I understand what you are saying. My religion professors who were RC were liberals, and getting them to think of heaven was almost as hard as getting them to explain how sinners get there.

    But formalism, legalistic morality, and ritualism are not limited to Rome, so the situation is not so simple for many people.

    For example, I was looking at the “Christian Life” requirements of a Christian college my daughter was considering. The rules at that college would cause her to receive “demerits” if she danced, or if she even touched a drop of alcohol, as she could easily do by going to a church that serves wine in communion. Enough demerits, and you get fined or expelled.

    For a Protestant raised in that sort of environment, JBFA is already sigificantly obscured, and Rome doesn’t seem legalistic at all.

  30. Jeff Cagle said,

    June 8, 2012 at 12:34 pm


    Check out the “anchor” tag for HTML, here.

    (Of course, the full URL did have the rhetorical effect … :) )

  31. Sean Gerety said,

    June 8, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Not to keep sounding like Negative Nancy, but you can read all the great old Reformed stalwarts until you’re blue in the face, but unless the Holy Spirit first regenerates you and causes you to believe the truth of Jesus Christ and His finished work alone on behalf of the elect for whom He lived, died, and now lives again, all your posturing and brilliance, even it’s coming from the pulpit and in a denom like the PCA, would be nothing more than the theological equivalent of a Potemkin Village.

  32. Doug Sowers said,

    June 8, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Sean! Now you sound just like Douglas Wilson! Keep up the good work bro, very evangelistic.

  33. Sean Gerety said,

    June 8, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Thanks Doug. I guess I had better humble myself and sit under Wilson’s feet like Stellman should prostrate himself before Lietheart, right? Though Wilson is a great example of someone who can sound like a Reformed man and even a Christian without being either. Must be all that book learnin’ you boys in Moscow are fillin’ yo heads with. But where else would you want to find a Potemkin Village anyway except in Moscow. :)

  34. Doug Sowers said,

    June 8, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Sean, I wish you wouldn’t be so quick, to call Douglas Wilson a non Christian; that’s like calling him a reprobate. Lane doesn’t feel that way. Lane has even said he would happily have dinner with Pastor Wilson. Why aren’t you *just* as mad at Lane, for thinking Douglas Wilson IS a Christian? In fact, you’re the only one I know calling Wilson a straight up reprobate, which is hard language. A wise man would tremble at making such a pronouncement; you just a man not God, so please cease and desist.

    You use this forum to bash Wilson and the big bad FV. Well, truth be told, I am sympathetic to *some* FV stuff, but I wouldn’t label myself FV. I learned my systematic theology from Greg Bahnsen, who was one of Van Til’s best students, as you very well know. Are you going to call Bahnsen a reprobate as well?

    While I admire and enjoy many of Douglas Wilson’s books, I have also enjoyed some of his sermons; I don’t live in Idaho, and don’t attend his Church. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting him in person. But I think I’ll see him in heaven. Oh, and Sean? I’m praying you’ll be up there with us :) Just quit beating the sheep.

    P.S. And Sean, you do realize that you’re in discord with most of you’re reformed brethren on the three uses of faith? And when we disagree with you, you call us reprobate. Please quit that!

  35. olivianus said,

    June 8, 2012 at 4:08 pm


    “One final word to young theologians: build your theology from the older masters.”

    The biggest problem I see with this is that the older Protestant Scholastic masters (Though they deserve their due attention) were flaming Neoplatonists and I figure that when someone immerses himself in them, he will inevitably feel the urge to be in a hierarchical system. They are inevitably going to bring you to Monad worship and then the thought surfaces: How can I worship the Monad without a hierarchy? These are some passage that completely dis-enchanted me from the protestant scholastics:

    Turretin says, Volume 1. 3rd Topic. Q 7

    “Proof that God is perfectly simple. IV. This proved to be a property of God: (1) from his independence, because composition is of the formal reason of a being originated and dependent (since nothing can be composed by itself , but whatever is composed must necessarily be composed by another; now God is the first and independent being, recognizing no other prior to himself) ; (2) from his unity, because he who is absolutely one, is also absolutely simple and therefore can neither be dived nor composed; (3) from his perfection, because composition implies ***********IMPERFECTION******************* inasmuch as it supposes passive power, dependency and mutability. ” Institutes of Elenctic Theology Volume 1 (P & R Publishing: Phillipsburg, NJ, 1992), pg. 191

    And Muller in an exposition of Bonaventure (Not a PROTESTANT Scholastic but someone Turretin was no doubt operating off of), in explaining the Scholastic doctrine of Simplicity says, “there is something prior to every imperfect or composite being.” (Muller Vol. 4, pg. 41) Do you admit that both of these authors are operating directly off of Plotinus where this thinking led him back ultimately to an absolute Monad?

    So I guess that is why I choose Gordon Clark for my Christian Philosophy and avoid the trap of HYPER Tradition.

  36. Sean Gerety said,

    June 8, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    @Doug. I don’t know what Lane thinks of Wilson’s eternal state, but anyone who holds to a scheme of justification that includes a combination of faith plus works along with a conditional covenant as Wilson does is no Christian. Sure, he uses a lot of Jesus words and Reformed sounding jargon, but that hardly warrants anyone referring to Wilson as a brother in Christ — or any of the other FV men for that matter. I would suggest you read the reply I wrote with John Robbins in response to Wilson’s diatribe against the Christian faith in RINE; Not Reformed At All.

  37. June 8, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    you’re the only one I know calling Wilson a straight up reprobate, which is hard language.

    Doug, not sure if Sean is alone. A former blogger used to regularly go off half-cocked and refer to Wilson as the “Mullah of Moscow”. Would that qualify as calling one a reprobate?

  38. olivianus said,

    June 8, 2012 at 6:24 pm


    “a conditional covenant as Wilson does is no Christian”

    You with your Hyper Calvinistic think tank fundamentally don’t have a clue what you are talking about.

    I suggest this to you by Samuel Rutherford:

    “How Faith is the Condition of the Covenant of Grace Against the Arminians and the Antinomians”


    or to the same effect by Rutherford:

    “Faith the Condition of the Covenant of Grace; Against the Antinomian Tobias Crispe.”


    A condition as an instrument of application is not the same thing as a meritorious cause. Not a Christian?!

  39. Doug Sowers said,

    June 8, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Sean, we *both* know that Lane considers Wilson a brother in Christ. So why are you being dishonest? You were around when Lane critiqued RINE! Come on Sean, fess up.

    After Lane finished his examination of RINE in around 08 he said, “Douglas Wilson is not a heretic” You *know* that’s true, so quit acting coy, and pretending you don’t how he feels. He’s recently said he considers Douglas Wilson a brother in Christ and would have dinner with him, if invited. Plus, I’ve read the back blogs at Greenbaggins from 06, 07, 08, and 09 I remember *you* getting furious, and lashing out, because you could see Douglas Wilson was getting the better of Lane. Remember check mate? I do.

    So here’s a question, since Lane believes in the three aspects of faith, is he a Christian? Is that getting the gospel wrong?

  40. Reed Here said,

    June 8, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    All: drop the Wilson line and return back to the point of the post. Thanks!

  41. Sean Gerety said,

    June 8, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    @Doug. Since the mods want the Wilson trail shut down I’ll just refer you too: http://godshammer.wordpress.com/2010/03/29/lane-keister-doug-wilson-denies-justification-by-faith-alone/

  42. olivianus said,

    June 8, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    I am waiting for someone to do that myself. Why won’t green baggins address post 36?

  43. June 8, 2012 at 11:07 pm


    Hard as it may be to believe, blogging is not our lives. Not by a long shot. It’s impossible to answer every comment on the blog. We have the privilege to shepherd God’s flock as He has granted, and though a joyous calling, it consumes considerable time. Lane will get to it when he has the time if he so desires. Thanks for your consideration.

  44. Mark Kim said,

    June 9, 2012 at 1:12 am


    I think you’re being too hard on Doug Wilson. I have my issues with the FV, NPP, Baptist mono-covenantalists, etc. but I would be careful to label all of them reprobate. For instance, even if I have some issues with Wilson’s approach to soteriology I think he’s the most orthodox of the bunch. He is in his own way saying that faith and works, though distinct, can never be separated in the life of the truly redeemed. This is the view of the orthodox Reformed throughout history.

    I think the problem comes down if someone denies the full efficacy of the penal-substitutionary death of Christ. I don’t know who exactly but one FV proponent once exclaimed awhile back that a person who is truly justified can later be unjustified if the sin is serious enough (because that sin causes that person to be dis-united from Christ). To me that is heresy and really no different from the Roman Catholic error of transformative justification. In a situation like that, I would seriously question the legitimacy of the person’s salvation. I have yet to hear or read Wilson go that far.

    This is where it gets interesting with Jason Stellman. If Stellman has sincerely (and I don’t doubt his sincerity on this) that the traditional Reformed position of justification that sinners are justified by faith alone in Christ’s work alone (along with complete forgiveness and once-for-all imputation) then we do need to seriously pray for his soul hoping that by God’s grace he will repent of his fall into heresy.

  45. Sean Gerety said,

    June 9, 2012 at 5:47 am

    @Kim. Perhaps the Mods will allow a response to your objection to slip by (although I agree a discussion of Wilson’s rejection of the Christian faith is better suited to Lane’s previous post; “Stellman, Leithart, and Wilson”).

    You wrote: “I don’t know who exactly but one FV proponent once exclaimed awhile back that a person who is truly justified can later be unjustified if the sin is serious enough (because that sin causes that person to be dis-united from Christ). To me that is heresy and really no different from the Roman Catholic error of transformative justification. In a situation like that, I would seriously question the legitimacy of the person’s salvation. I have yet to hear or read Wilson go that far.”

    I recommend you read Not Reformed At All because Wilson does go that far repeatedly. Here are just a few examples from the book:

    What emerges from Wilson’s view of the covenant is that what saves a man is a combination of faith and works. This is where Wilson’s “eschatological” view of the church comes into play and where the Romish substance of his objective covenant shows through its Reformed veneer. In baptism (in Wilson’s covenant), God imposes obligations on the baptized, and how they fulfill those obligations decides their salvation. Wilson repeatedly tells us this relationship is much like an unfaithful husband who, even while mired in infidelity, still has “all the obligations of marriage.” The lesson is: In order to be finally saved, sinners must do their part. Salvation is not the result of Christ’s work alone outside of them and on their behalf, but something worked in the church “corporately” as church members persevere and live out their lives in covenantal faithfulness. For Wilson, Christians are saved by fulfilling the conditions of the covenant:”In the historic Protestant view, good works are inseparable from biblical salvation. They are not a condiment to flavor a “raw” justification, but rather are definitionally related to justification…like the terms husband and wife” (173, emphasis in the original).

    As we might expect, Wilson quotes no “historic Protestant” who teaches that our “good works are definitionally related to justification.” Wilson expects us to accept this proposition because Wilson says so. In Wilson’s theology, good works and justification are equals and correlatives, like husband and wife. Justification is not prior to, nor the cause or ground of sanctification and good works, but an equal and corresponding aspect of salvation….

    In Wilson’s theology, the good news of salvation by belief of the Gospel alone is replaced by the unspecified duties of “covenantal faithfulness” in order to keep the grace and salvation conferred by one’s baptism. After all, argues Wilson, returning to his addled analogy, “No one assumes that every husband will automatically have a successful marriage. Nor should we assume that every Christian will go to Heaven.” In Wilson’s theology some Christians will go to Hell.

    Wilson’s covenant is not only conditional, but sinners must meet the conditions of salvation. He quotes Randy Booth: “This covenantal act of baptism brings the person into a conditional relationship with God. Individual election is unconditional; but individual election is part of the secret decretal will of God, no ‘list’ of elect individuals having been revealed” (106). Because the list is secret, the fallacious argument goes, the doctrine of individual election is irrelevant to us here on Earth. In Wilson’s reworking of the covenant, not only should the church be thought of as “historic and eschatological,” but election should be thought of in these terms too, as is evident from Wilson’s quote of Joel Garver’s “A Brief Catechesis on Covenant and Baptism”: “[I]t is precisely in our ‘covenantal’ election that ‘special’ election is realized and made known. Thus we should not drive a wedge between ‘special’ and ‘covenantal’ elections, for special election simply is covenantal election for those, who by God’s sovereign electing grace, persevere. For those who fall away, covenantal election devolves into reprobation” (139, emphasis added).

    …. According to Wilson, “both the true and false son are brought into the same relation” to Christ. So what is the determining factor that separates the sheep from the goats? Wilson explains that “faith in the biblical sense is inseparable from faithfulness…. But when we have faith that works its way out in love, which is the only thing that genuine faith can do, then the condition that God has set for the fulfillment of His promise has been met” (186 187, emphasis added). The ones who, through their faithfulness, “meet the condition that God has set for the fulfilment of His promise,” become sheep. In the objective covenant in which the sinner meets conditions and fulfills his covenantal obligations, thus qualifying himself for the salvation God has promised, Wilson confuses works with sanctification, and both with justification. Wilson’s conditional objective covenant is an outright denial of the Covenant of Grace and the doctrine of justification by faith alone:Those whom God effectually called he also freely justified; not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous: not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone: not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience, to them as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith: which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God [WCF, 11:1].
    Both the sole condition of God’s blessing perfect obedience and the fulfillment of God’s promises have already been met in Christ.

  46. theogothic said,

    June 9, 2012 at 6:58 am

    @43 and 44

    Drake’s question really needs to be answered. Is it or is it not the case that post-Reformation scholastics built off of neo-Platonism ala divine simplicity?

    the answer to that question determines most of one’s theology. I’m not quite as bothered by the implications as Drake is, but I also admit it should be a very pressing question. Also, it will be one of the first questions a sharp Orthodox apologist will ask and if one hasn’t thought twice about it, that debate can get ugly quick.

  47. Frank Aderholdt said,

    June 10, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    I’ve written before that William Whitaker is my 13th-great-grandfather (if I’ve counted correctly). I inherited his view of Scripture, but not his gifts. Shame on me for not reading the Disputations all the way through.

  48. greenbaggins said,

    June 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Olivianus, I fail to see how a defense of the simplicity of God resolves into Monadism, let alone Neo-Platonism. Turretin defends a perfectly ordinary, run-of-the-mill Trinitarianism elsewhere in the IET. Or have you forgotten? How can the Trinitarian God be divisible? The three persons of the Trinity share the same essence by means of perichoresis. Therefore, you cannot divide God into three parts. Or are you denying the simplicity of God, which all orthodoxy maintains? Are you accusing Turretin of being grossly inconsistent with himself?

  49. greenbaggins said,

    June 11, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Reed has shut down the Wilson thing, and I agree. But I will answer by saying that I have not retracted my retraction. I hold that Wilson’s theology contradicts JBFA by his particular denial of the law-gospel distinction, which turns faith into Golawspel.

  50. June 11, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    @49: What he means is that the post-Reformation scholastics defined the simplicity of God in the same way that Plotinus did: if the essence is absolutely simple and admitting no distinctions, how are not the attributes not simply identical with each other?

    What Drake is not saying is that the Eastern tradition has an alteranntive to this. Now, I’m not as bothered by this construction as Drake is, but I would like to see an answer to his challenge.

  51. greenbaggins said,

    June 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Jacob, if that is what he means, then he has completely misread the scholastics. They didn’t say that the essence admitted no distinctions (especially among the persons!). Rather, they said that the essence admitted no divisions. Turretin’s take on the attributes is brilliant, since, for Turretin, the attributes are various ways of looking at the essence. You cannot put a division between the attributes and the essence. My favorite illustration of this is the various facets of a diamond. Each attribute is like a distinct facet of the same diamond. No doubt that illustration could be pressed too far (as almost any earthly analogy of God can be!). Turretin really helped me understand how the attributes are not divided from the essence.

  52. olivianus said,

    June 11, 2012 at 6:02 pm


    “I fail to see how a defense of the simplicity of God resolves into Monadism”

    >>>By simplicity are you referring to the idea that God does not have physical parts (Per Shaw, Reformed Faith) or are you referring to the definition I gave above: “because composition implies ***********IMPERFECTION…there is something prior to every imperfect or composite being” ?

    A friend of mine, Justin Meulemans, messaged me recently that Johannes Cocceius used the exact same definition of simplicity.

    “let alone Neo-Platonism.”

    >>>Ok, depends on your def. of simplicity so I’ll wait to see you commit. However, if there is something simpler behind every composition, then how do you not end up with a monad?

    “Turretin defends a perfectly ordinary, run-of-the-mill Trinitarianism”

    >>>I strongly disagree. David Waltz (Through Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God) has proved exhaustively that the Trinitarianism after Constantinople 381 is vastly different than the Nicene Creed 325 Triadology. These articles are the meat of it:





    “elsewhere in the IET. Or have you forgotten?”

    >>>I haven’t forgotten that the Scholastics (Protestants included) operated off a totally pagan ontological theory.

    “How can the Trinitarian God be divisible?”

    >>>There is no such thing as a Trinitarian God. That is like saying there is a 3 personed-person, which is the whole issue (Alla Van Til-Clark). The reason why the Quaternity heresy sprang up after 381 is precisely because of ADS and the change that happened with and after 381.

    “The three persons of the Trinity share the same essence by means of perichoresis.”

    >>>If by essence you mean Aristotle’s substance you do not have three persons you have one person; by definition substance = subject in Aristotle. If you don’t mean Aristotle and you don’t mean Clark, you basically don’t have an understanding of the Trinity which has led me again to the conclusion that the contemporary would-be Scholastic Reformed don’t know what they believe. If you say that person is not subject but relation, you fail to provide three persons because I am as are you a single person with multiple relations.

    “Therefore, you cannot divide God into three parts.”

    >>>If by “God” you mean THE ONE GOD, the monarch-auto-theos, I am not dividing God into three parts. The One God is the Father. There is no such thing as a Triune God; a three personed person-alla Van Til and the Quaternity heresy. I am saying that there is an ontological distinction between nature and will within the divine persons, there are real mindS (Take note three minds, not one) that ontologically constitute the divine persons with real ontological distinctions between their thoughts and subject and predicate within each thought and there are ontological distinctions between the divine persons themselves. It seems to me you don’t understand the monarchy of the Father and you fundamentally do not understand the multiple ways the word “God” is used in Triadology. I have found that the word “God” can mean at least 6 things in this context: 1. The Father/Monarchy; Concreted person; 2. The Divine Nature; abstract substance; 3. Godhead 4. Source of operation; 5. Auto-theos: that is uncaused 6. An indirect sense in that the Logos and the Holy Spirit are called God as they inter-dwell (perichoresis) and are consubstantial with the Father.

    And by the way the Eastern Church, as an institution understands the Trinity in the same way you do (precisely because they are under the same influences of Neo-Platonism). Just read the way Damascus explains it in his treatise on Holy Images.

    “Or are you denying the simplicity of God, which all orthodoxy maintains?”

    >>>Depends on your definition and if you are making the mistake of saying that the Greek Fathers and Western views of simplicity agree I have proven this wrong for some time now:

    “Are you accusing Turretin of being grossly inconsistent with himself?”

    >>>No. Turretin is very clear to admit he believes in Neoplatonism. Every time I have asked contemporary Presbyterian theologians or clergymen where the principle of “because composition implies ***********IMPERFECTION…there is something prior to every imperfect or composite being” is taught in the Bible or implied by necessary inference they just fold right away. When I spoke with Robert Letham about this he just said he wasn’t a Plotinus scholar and avoided the issue completely. Modern day people are ashamed of the doctrine but find no courage to challenge it because you get completely ostracized. I respect Turretin and the Scholastics for admitting that their theology proper was pagan. At least they had the guts to admit it.

    I had a 122 page dialogue with Jim Dodson on all these issues but he will not let the dialogue be made public. Maybe someone can convince him to help the Reformed community face the music.

  53. June 11, 2012 at 6:04 pm


    I’m closer to Dabney on this one so I’m not arguing the point. Most of these “absolute divine simplicity” discussions are usually between Orthodox and Catholics. I’ve never really seen this debate in a protestant context.

  54. olivianus said,

    June 11, 2012 at 6:33 pm


    “They didn’t say that the essence admitted no distinctions (especially among the persons!).”

    >>Of course they admitted there were distinctions, they were just not ontological but modal.

    Turretin says, 3rd Topic Q. 27

    “Thus the person may be said to differ from the essence not really…but modally as a mode from the thing (pg. 278)…the Orthodox hold…Against the Tritheists they reject the real or essential distinction because although there are more persons than one mutually distinct, yet there is only one essence. But they hold TO A MODAL DISTINCTION because as the persons are constituted by personal properties as incommunicable MODES OF SUBSISTING, so they may properly be said to be distinguished by them. (pg. 279)”

    Sure they appealed to the eminent-virtual distinctions but as was already admitted those distinctions would themselves display IMPERFECTION. Those distinctions need to be sewn up into the monad to achieve perfection.

    “Rather, they said that the essence admitted no divisions.”

    >>>Let me translate that for any onlookers. What that means is that the essence that is shared among the divine persons is numerically one with reference to cardinal numbers. There is only one subject there. Not three persons.

    “Turretin’s take on the attributes is brilliant, since, for Turretin, the attributes are various ways of looking at the essence.”

    >>>So the attributes are not the essence they are representations of the essence. This is going to require either an essence and energy distinction to keep the attributes from being considered created or it’s an all out nominalism. Either way it is pretty ugly.

    “You cannot put a division between the attributes and the essence.”

    >>>What kind of division? I didn’t say that the attributes were not the essence. I believe the attributes are the essence. You do not.

  55. olivianus said,

    June 11, 2012 at 6:37 pm


    “I’ve never really seen this debate in a protestant context.”

    That mistake is exactly why Clark has not yet risen to the top of the apologetical world as of yet but I’m trying to change that. The ADS issue is the fundamental source of the disagreements between Van Til and Clark. Clark says in Three Types of Religious Philosophy by Gordon Clark (The Trinity Foundation: Jefferson, Maryland, 1989), pg. 63,

    “Thomas developed the theory of analogy far beyond the simple observation of Aristotle, and it took on major proportions when the subject was God. Thomas held that the simplicity of the divine being required God’s existence to be identical with his essence. This is not the case with a book or pencil. That a book is and what a book is are two different matters. But with God existence and essence are identical. For this reason an adjective predicated of God and the same adjective predicated of man are not univocal in meaning. One may say, God is good, and one may say, This man is good; but the predicate has two different meanings. There is no term, not a single one, that can be predicated univocally of God and of anything else.”

  56. June 12, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    So would *Three Types of Religious Philosophy by Gordon Clark (The Trinity Foundation: Jefferson, Maryland, 1989)* deal with the divine simplcity debate? Are there other Clark works that do this as well?

  57. olivianus said,

    June 12, 2012 at 5:47 pm


    No, Dr. Clark does not get into the debate. I combed through all of his books for the issue and compiled what i found here: http://olivianus.thekingsparlor.com/theology-proper/divine-simplicity-and-scripturalism-part-2-by-drake

  58. June 12, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Thanks. I wonder if Carl F. H. Henry, who was influenced by Clark, ever gets into it.

  59. olivianus said,

    June 12, 2012 at 10:05 pm


    He speaks to the issue but he fundamentally didn’t get it. I thought that too and he didn’t get it. I spent many days at the Southern Library here in Louisville looking for anything he might say on it. Here is an article I wrote while I was at the Library looking for his commentary:


  60. michael said,

    June 13, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    olivianus, I am intrigued with your comments that I read in here. Having just a few months ago been to Louisville, Ky., I clicked on the link above. I came to this ending and the simple statement you made from there to here, for me that is, “YOU CANNOT BE A SCRIPTURALIST AND BELIEVE IN DIVINE SIMPLCIITY.

    How can we hold to both the simplicity of the Gospel and the complexity of the Scriptures?

    Just to spin some of the complexity I note Ruth, as descendant of incest, a Moabite woman from whose womb came King David to Abigail whose words kept him from sinning against her husband and God and us so that in the end she becomes his wife, too to King Saul using a witch for a Word, a Word that came about by suicide! “Rth 4:10 Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.”
    …………………………….1Sa 25:28 Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live.
    ………………………………………..1Sa 28:19 Moreover, the LORD will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me. The LORD will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines.”
    1Sa 28:20 Then Saul fell at once full length on the ground, filled with fear because of the words of Samuel. And there was no strength in him, for he had eaten nothing all day and all night. “
    And we preachers of the Truth are to stand up to the simplicity of the Gospel and prevail? I don’t think so!

    Especially when we see how it came down with Christ, too, Who came fulfilling the words of Moses:

    Deu 32:39 “‘See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.
    Deu 32:40 For I lift up my hand to heaven and swear, As I live forever,
    Deu 32:41 if I sharpen my flashing sword and my hand takes hold on judgment, I will take vengeance on my adversaries and will repay those who hate me.

    Oh the depth and complexity of the simplicity of the Gospel! Surely one doesn’t find any rest in the previous citation I make because of your words published from the Seminary at Louisville on your day off! :)

    2Co 1:12 For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.
    …………………………………………….1Ti 1:5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
    1Ti 1:6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion,
    1Ti 1:7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

  61. olivianus said,

    June 13, 2012 at 4:42 pm


    >>>Ok, are you using the word “simplicity” here to refer to ADS? If so you are not understanding the conversation. I have to say that had to have been one of the most nonsensical replies to this issue that I have ever read. Normally I am fuming with people after their nonsense but I just feel sorry for you.

  62. Reed Here said,

    June 13, 2012 at 4:46 pm


  63. olivianus said,

    June 13, 2012 at 4:50 pm


    Are you ever going to give me a reply? Are you rummaging through your systematic texts desperately looking for something to say? I have spent over 3000 hours looking for that information GB and it doesn’t exist. This is what you are going to find from Muller:


  64. michael said,

    June 13, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    olivianus, ok, maybe so, nonsensical.

    Clarity for me what this is “ADS” before i parse out what I mean.


    And, also, why should you be fuming anyway?

  65. theogothic said,

    June 13, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    ADS = Absolute Divine Simplicity. It is the Scholastic and Reformation doctrine that God’s essence is identical with each of his attributes.

  66. olivianus said,

    June 13, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Theogothic’s comment is correct but there is much more behind it though. The fundamental issue is that on this thinking there is an eternal hierarchy of being that terminates at a monad; that is there is an asserted principle that behind or antecedent to every ontological composition or distinction is something more ontologically simple (oneness) to unify it or hold it together. There has to be a collector for every collection. AS one’s composition decreases one moves more towards one-ness/THE GOOD. As one becomes more distinct one moves away from one-ness/The Good. For example, Anchoretics believe that sex itself is evil because it creates a hostility between the flesh and the spirit in the soul. Instead of the soul being at one or in harmony with the spirit in celibacy the soul becomes attached to fleshly appetites thereby producing fragmentation in the soul. Thus sex brings composition while celibacy brings Absolute Divine Simplicity or as Ace Ventura would say “Omnipresent Supergalactic Oneness” at which one receives the medallion of spiritual accomplishment.

  67. michael said,

    June 13, 2012 at 8:48 pm


    I am not commenting now to prove or disprove anything.

    I was following your comments in here and after I clicked on the link to the library time in Louisville, Ky that you provided us at your comment @ 60 above, where, on your day off that day you were doing some research reading through volumes by Carl Henry I made some follow on comments to yours.

    I read what you wrote at the end of your citation on page 63, something from Gordon Clark’s book and found what you wrote at the end of it ( YOU CANNOT BE A SCRIPTURALIST AND BELIEVE IN DIVINE SIMPLCIITY. Why is it that I am an exiled common man with only a year of seminary training and I get this while these widely known Scholars don’t? Oh, maybe that’s why I’m not too excited about going back to seminary. God help us. ) interesting. I was not trying to be problematic, just complex and oxymoronic in pointing out the complexities of the bloodline Christ came into the world through.

    I made the follow on comments spinning those verses playing off the two words in the citation that I cited you make after your studies found out the reality of both the “simplicity” and “complexity” of Scripture.

    The Gospel is simple food, milk, to the babe. The Gospel grows into this very complex weave of Truths, sometimes a complex thread of difficult ideas and seeming contradictions in and of its own right in light of the simplicity of the Gospel we are weaned from, that we preach, if God permits.

    The truth is that from the Gospel representation as I spun it off from those several odd complex realities, I did it for the benefit of those who might come in here and read your comments, who, in these days are struggling because they are caught in these sorts of sin hoping to convey to them that they might have hope to be delivered from such sins by the power of God’s Work and Word. It is hard to believe that God can forgive such sinners, right? I have met some of those, a product from incest who were struggling to believe God would or could ever forgive them; or for this sort of sin, murder, which clearly King David was up to doing, not only to Nabal but to all those men except for Abigail’s intervention; or King Saul’s practice of witchcraft, all these are important realities that need to be faced in our day which some of the Elect are facing today wanting deliverance from these sorts of sins that carry such a harsh stigma and treatment from pharisiacal men upon them. Seeing there is no partiality with God we must see to it others do not fail to obtain the Grace of God. What is impossible for us is not for God when He is molding that “different” one, being the God of all Grace Who personally is promising to restore, confirm, strengthen and establish “all” His Elect, Elect indeed chosen and called to live in His Faith as we, too.

    I am sorry olivianus if my wording wasn’t catching up to your rationalization and thinking seeing I was simply building off your words apparently poorly demonstrating both the clarity of the simplicity of the Gospel and the complexity of the Scriptures we hold so dear. I apologize.

    So, why were you fuming?

  68. June 13, 2012 at 9:22 pm


    You are equivocating on the word “simplicity.” Drake is using it to mean there are no parts in God. He is not denying that the gospel can be “simple” for the “simple” man. The word “simple” is being used in two different senses.

  69. michael said,

    June 14, 2012 at 9:59 am


    in what way do you see I am misleading or equivocating on the word simplicity in my responses to olivianus?

    I am not following or understanding what you mean or imply by your comments.

  70. June 14, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Because he isn’t using the word simplicity in the way you are. Read any Reformed textbook on this matter.

  71. michael said,

    June 14, 2012 at 1:27 pm


    let me ask you to go back to any of my comment and show me where I was using the word simplicity in the way olivianus was?

  72. Andrew said,

    June 14, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Anyone read James Dolezal’s recent book on Divine Simplicity?

  73. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 14, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    I have it at home, on my “to-read” list. I would also be interested to hear if anyone else has. Maybe I’ll start tonight…

  74. June 14, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    Michael: that’s the point. You and Drake were talking on two different wavelengths.

    #73. I listened to a podcast. It was quite interesting. I don’t think he fully escaped some of the implications for which Origen was condemned, but he did his homework for the most part.

  75. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 15, 2012 at 1:31 am

    So Dolezal is speaking about Doctrine of Divine Simplicity, which is different than Clark’s ADS? I will keep reading Dolezal. Blessings.

  76. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 15, 2012 at 1:45 am

    Can it be further said, Michael and outlaw, that the equivoction over the simplicity of God, or the simplicity of the Gospel? Olivianius speaks of the former, michael, the latter? No matter. dolezal will help any of you reading this thread. I’m getting back to it. Maybe time for olivianus or outlaw to start their own thread over simplicity? I know there are many. Any specifically in regard to Dolezal? I can’t find reviews of the book. So far, quite lucid, I must confess… this post was originally about a pca guy who is crossing the Tiber, I think…

  77. June 15, 2012 at 6:08 am


    Dolezal affirms Absolute Divine Simplicity. From what I gather Clark seems to deny it, or at least not read it as heavily as the Reformers and Thomists did.

  78. olivianus said,

    June 15, 2012 at 6:30 am

    Andrew B,

    Clark never commits to ADs and IMO clearly denies it: http://olivianus.thekingsparlor.com/theology-proper/divine-simplicity-and-scripturalism-part-2-by-drake

  79. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 15, 2012 at 7:34 am

    Alright, thanks. Gonna read some Dolezal. Enough from me.

  80. michael said,

    June 15, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Andrew Buck….,

    yes, the latter.

    And yes, I was looking to the simplicity of the Gospel as a possible cause for Stellman’s move, that is, a possible reason he misses it seemingly bogged down in the complexities of God?

    I saw something somewhere reading yesterday about it that the RCC band has started up and their singing has begun believing that Stellman is putting on his RCC swimming trunks to swim across the Tiber. This person was also requesting prayers for Stellman and his family in this time of discord they must be suffering?

    Anyone whom the Lord gets a hold of with His Hands like we read about King David never puts on RCC trunks and swims the Tiber. I can see those on that side of the Tiber swimming across to Grace and Mercy and Peace; that is why my focus has been and will remain on the simplicity of the Gospel because, as I have indicated with the Scriptures I included in my comments above, the simplicity of God is far more complex.

    Here’s why RCC trunks are not necessary for the Elect:

    2Sa 22:17 “He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters.
    2Sa 22:18 He rescued me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.
    2Sa 22:19 They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the LORD was my support.
    2Sa 22:20 He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.

    It is the Lord who sends from on high and takes His own drawing us out of the many waters one can find themselves swimming in these days.

    It is the Lord who rescues us from the strong enemy.

    If God does not delight in Stellman, should we?

    Nevertheless we should pray for him and treat him with all due respect as we are admonished to treat everyone, even our enemies:

    Rom 12:17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
    Rom 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
    Rom 12:19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
    Rom 12:20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
    Rom 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

  81. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 15, 2012 at 10:28 am

    I think my only point is….

    Does anyone here golf? Does the Pope or moderator golf? Handicap scores anyone?

    I don’t mean to be a jerk. But can we get past psychanalzying or theo-angelizing Stellman? I dontknow the issues. I’m newb. But a man stands before God. Check Galatians 4. Tell a man he is wrong, and let it go. I’m thinking Jeremiah 23( see last half, I will read too). I think Galatians 4 is worth checking. Im no trained exegete. Just let Stellman go, God give us grace and peace. Thanks Michael for your thoughtful response.

  82. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 15, 2012 at 10:39 am

    I’ll certainly keep reading Dolezal. Appreciate all,y’alls patience with me. I will listen to some stellman sermons too. I will pray for him. But I can only imagine what he must be going through. Unless he likes the attention?

  83. Doug Sowers said,

    June 15, 2012 at 11:02 am

    @Michael #23

    How soon, is soon, to mankind? Great question!

    The answer of course, is context, context, context! In the book of Daniel, God tells Daniel about the 70 weeks or (490) years. And that Daniel is to go about his business because there is a lot of time left. In other words 490 years is not soon! In the book of Revelations, John is told that the impending judgment is near, or at hand! Two or three years, tops?

    Can the term “soon” ever mean thousands of years, according to the Bible? No, of course not! If you look at time texts in the Bible, soon is *never* used to mean thousands of years. Therefore, no one knows when He’s coming again.

    Why? He already did! He *came on the clouds*, in judgment over his covenant Nation, in 70AD! Which is what “soon” was referring to! Once we realize that 70AD was the end of the old age, things start making sense.

    To miss apply time texts and say that the “last days” or “coming soon” is referring to our day and age, is to miss understand “soon” in a Biblical context.

    This is why so many Christians are confused, and say we are living in the last days. When in fact, we are not; in my humble opinion. We are living in the kingdom of God!

    This perspective is called partial preterism, held too by RC Sproul among many others.

    BTW Jesus is coming again, but none of us can say when, let alone soon.

  84. michael said,

    June 15, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Doug, thanks!

    I am of the opinion that we can “hasten” that day, that is, speed up the day of the coming of the Lord’s return. I would hope we would begin hastening that day, “soon”! :)

    2Pe 3:11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,
    2Pe 3:12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!

    I also can say, having come into the Light in July of 1975 in such a way so as to understand I was “lost”; and, to come into the experience of the “salvation” of the Kingdom of God “now” and “now” being from now on until the day I breathe my last in this corrupted totally depraved tent, I should expectantly “soon” be breathing my last. Now, would I like it that the Lord would come back before I go the way of all flesh just as I am and you are hoping He will come back any moment from now on? Yes, yes, yes.

    Although, if you have ever read or hear anything Dr. J Sidlow Baxter has written or preached, you might like his contemplation on that score.

    He said something like this or of this effect that because he loved Jesus so much he wanted to die before Christ returned so that he went to Him and not He to him!


    Well, he said if he was around on the earth on that great and notable day, there would be so many more Saints around to meet and greet Him at that very moment, he didn’t think he would have any one on one time with Him as he thought he would if he simply breathed his last going the way of all flesh then being absent from the body he would be able to be present with the Lord for some one on one time with Him! :)

    For me, either way works, as long as I am found in Him when either one occurs!

    I know because of my age, if He does not come back riding on the clouds with thousands and thousands returning with Him in my lifetime I will go to Him soon enough if not today?

    Until that day I can still hear His voice and as you said, I, too, can be a sort of firstfruits of His living in the Kingdom on earth as in Heaven!

    Rom 8:22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
    Rom 8:23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
    Rom 8:24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?
    Rom 8:25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

  85. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 15, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Just my musings…

    Still thinking about your post, michael. But I will say this:

    “I am of the opinion that we can “hasten” that day, that is, speed up the day of the coming of the Lord’s return. I would hope we would begin hastening that day, “soon”! :)”

    I don’t know our ages (I’m 30) but I’m not in the mind of wanting to speed things up here. It’s always struck me that God’s patience is amazing. I always want more patience from Him, to me, and amazingly, he’s more patient than I can imagine. I may have totally missed to boat. But let’s praise God for being more patient than any of us can ever be or imagine?

    I may be off in the weeds. You seem to end with a note on patience. So I see two sides here. But I don’t really understand the context. I think we all as Christians, “yet saints their watch are keeping; their cry goes up, “How long?”


  86. July 7, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    […] Tempted By the Tiber? – Recommended resources that address critical issues concerning Reformation Protestantism in contrast to Romanism. Filed under Uncategorized Tagged Family, Linux, Miscellany, Productivity, Programming, Theology Comment (RSS)  |  Trackback  |  Permalink […]

  87. August 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm


    Regarding my last comment.

    “Anyone tempted by the Tiber should concentrate on two issues: justification and Scripture.”

    Nevermind my concerns. You got it. You are all over this like hot fudge on a sundae.

    Let’s keep those C2C people talking. I’ll shut up, and let you professional do the clean up. You guys are good, i bet you write blogs in your sleep :-)

  88. August 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    PS three and a half years of constant back and forth email discussion, with someone who is a Paul Tillich fan, leads one to shore up one’s doctrine of Scripture. I will indeed shut up, but wcf chapter 1 is really where its at,folks.

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