David Westerfield

Gospel. Culture. Technology.

Tag: John

A Niebuhr Kind of Day

Update: To her credit, Rachel Held Evans has come out and apologized for jumping the gun and assuming the worst about John Piper’s motives. I still maintain this brand of evangelicalism is on the Downgrade, but it’s good to see her admit a wrong committed and seek reconciliation (based on a number of tweets to that effect). http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/forgive-me

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I fail to see how Rachel Held Evans theology (and others like her) escapes this assessment of liberal theology in the 19th and 20th centuries by H. Richard Niebuhr:

“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.” – H. Richard Niebuhr, The Kingdom of God in America.

The “universal acid” (Mohler) of skepticism and doubt eventually swallows up every doctrine of Scripture. Just ask Shelby Spong or Marcus Borg, they’ll tell you what they think. “Did God actually say ______?” (Gen. 3:1). This is the fundamental root of all sin, a doubting that God would actually speak clear truth in love toward us. What could be more loving than God giving us His words, preserved through centuries for our salvation? Maybe giving His own Son to suffer in our stead? Then again, penal substitutionary atonement is probably interpreted as “divine child abuse” (Chalke) to her. (Mohler)

For the postmodern, everything having to do with Scripture is vague or unclear and left to interpretation and therefore any interpretation is a go, or at the least entertainable, even though multiple ecumenical church councils over many centuries may have denied it, since that was merely their interpretation. But don’t worry, Rachel Held Evans and crew are here in their vast knowledge and research to rescue you from… Christianity, with its archaic, repressive doctrines and symbols that need a liberal, feminist, egalitarian, postmodern, 21st century makeover. James White is right to say that every generation must fight its own version of the Downgrade Controversy. This is ours and it’s here.

Interesting how the explanation of why Piper tweeted what he did and his response to what can only be described as cynical, hyper-emotional, unthinking criticism didn’t seem to make the presses though. But so goes Rachel Held Evans. Whatever fits the meme that Reformed people or conservative evangelicals in general are bad people, I guess. Smear the character, don’t actually engage the argument or the position. Sounds like far-leftist politics is invading the theological world. Eh, whatever gets blog hits right? Celebrity leftist evangelicalism at it’s finest, letting the Xian PR machine take over. Boy did this get her some traffic.

Also interesting to note is that Evans cites a sermon by open theist Greg Boyd after updating her blog post. Explains much. “Escaping the Twilight Zone God

Evans represents a brand of evangelicalism that sits atop shaky ground; building a house on the sand. It’s been a long time coming and looks to be giving way. In my absolute frustration at what I read from her and other likeminded individuals is utter sadness. Once emergent theology started blending more with average evangelical churches, it was only a matter of time and tilt of the slope. Unfortunately it won’t end well.

Douglas Wilson gives Rachel Held Evans a well-deserved response for such sloppiness and avoiding the glaring problem that remains: http://dougwils.com/s16-theology/rachel-held-evans-denies-the-cat.html. Don’t miss it.

Calvin on Man’s Righteousness Compared to God’s

Aroused consciences, when they have to do with God, feel this [free justification in Christ alone] to be the only asylum in which they can breathe safely. For if the stars which shine most brightly by night lose their brightness on the appearance of the sun, what do we think will be the case with the highest purity of man when contrasted with the purity of God? For the scrutiny will be most strict, penetrating to the most hidden thoughts of the heart.

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There is No Such Thing as Fortune and Chance – John Calvin

Excerpt from the Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book I, Chapter 16, Section 2, by John Calvin.

That this distinction may be the more manifest, we must consider that the Providence of God, as taught in Scripture, is opposed to fortune and fortuitous causes. By an erroneous opinion prevailing in all ages, an opinion almost universally prevailing in our own day, viz., that all things happen fortuitously, the true doctrine of Providence has not only been obscured, but almost buried. If one falls among robbers, or ravenous beasts; if a sudden gust of wind at sea causes shipwreck; if one is struck down by the fall of a house or a tree; if another, when wandering through desert paths, meets with deliverance; or, after being tossed by the waves, arrives in port, and makes some wondrous hair-breadth escape from death – all these occurrences, prosperous as well as adverse, carnal sense will attribute to fortune. But whose has learned from the mouth of Christ that all the hairs of his head are numbered, (Matt 10:30) will look farther for the cause, and hold that all events whatsoever are governed by the secret counsel of God. With regard to inanimate objects again we must hold that though each is possessed of its peculiar properties, yet all of them exert their force only in so far as directed by the immediate hand of God. Hence they are merely instruments, into which God constantly infuses what energy he sees meet, and turns and converts to any purpose at his pleasure.

No created object makes a more wonderful or glorious display than the sun. For, besides illuminating the whole world with its brightness, how admirably does it foster and invigorate all animals by its heat, and fertilise the earth by its rays, warming the seeds of grain in its lap, and thereby calling forth the verdant blade! This it supports, increases, and strengthens with additional nurture, till it rises into the stalk; and still feeds it with perpetual moisture, till it comes into flower; and from flower to fruit, which it continues to ripen till it attains maturity. In like manner, by its warmth trees and vines bud, and put forth first their leaves, then their blossom, then their fruit. And the Lord, that he might claim the entire glory of these things as his own, was pleased that light should exist, and that the earth should be replenished with all kinds of herbs and fruits before he made the sun. No pious man, therefore, will make the sun either the necessary or principal cause of those things which existed before the creation of the sun, but only the instrument which God employs, because he so pleases; though he can lay it aside, and act equally well by himself: Again, when we read, that at the prayer of Joshua the sun was stayed in its course, (Josh. 10: 13) that as a favour to Hezekiah, its shadow receded ten degrees, (2 Kings 20: 11) by these miracles God declared that the sun does not daily rise and set by a blind instinct of nature, but is governed by Him in its course, that he may renew the remembrance of his paternal favour toward us. Nothing is more natural than for spring, in its turns to succeed winter, summer spring, and autumn summer; but in this series the variations are so great and so unequal as to make it very apparent that every single year, month, and day, is regulated by a new and special providence of God.

Spurgeon on Universal Atonement, John Wesley, and George Whitefield

Some persons love the doctrine of universal atonement because they say, “It is so beautiful. It is a lovely idea that Christ should have died for all men; it commends itself,” they say, “to the instincts of humanity; there is something in it full of joy and beauty.” I admit there is, but beauty may be often associated with falsehood. There is much which I might admire in the theory of universal redemption, but I will just show what the supposition necessarily involves. If Christ on His cross intended to save every man, then He intended to save those who were lost before He died. If the doctrine be true, that He died for all men, then He died for some who were in hell before He came into this world, for doubtless there were even then myriads there who had been cast away because of their sins.

Once again, if it was Christ’s intention to save all men, how deplorably has He been disappointed, for we have His own testimony that there is a lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, and into that pit of woe have been cast some of the very persons who, according to the theory of universal redemption, were bought with His blood. That seems to me a conception a thousand times more repulsive than any of those consequences which are said to be associated with the Calvinistic and Christian doctrine of special and particular redemption. To think that my Saviour died for men who were or are in hell, seems a supposition too horrible for me to entertain. To imagine for a moment that He was the Substitute for all the sons of men, and that God, having first punished the Substitute, afterwards punished the sinners themselves, seems to conflict with all my ideas of Divine justice.

That Christ should offer an atonement and satisfaction for the sins of all men, and that afterwards some of those very men should be punished for the sins for which Christ had already atoned, appears to me to be the most monstrous iniquity that could ever have been imputed to Saturn, to Janus, to the goddess of the Thugs, or to the most diabolical heathen deities. God forbid that we should ever think thus of Jehovah, the just and wise and good!

There is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrines of grace than I do, and if any man asks me whether I am ashamed to be called a Calvinist, I answer—I wish to be called nothing but a Christian; but if you ask me, do I hold the doctrinal views which were held by John Calvin, I reply, I do in the main hold them, and rejoice to avow it. But far be it from me even to imagine that Zion contains none but Calvinistic Christians within her walls, or that there are none saved who do not hold our views. Most atrocious things have been spoken about the character and spiritual condition of John Wesley, the modern prince of Arminians. I can only say concerning him that, while I detest many of the doctrines which he preached, yet for the man himself I have a reverence second to no Wesleyan; and if there were wanted two apostles to be added to the number of the twelve, I do not believe that there could be found two men more fit to be so added than George Whitefield and John Wesley.

The character of John Wesley stands beyond all imputation for self-sacrifice, zeal, holiness, and communion with God; he lived far above the ordinary level of common Christians, and was one “of whom the world was not worthy.” I believe there are multitudes of men who cannot see these truths [Doctrines of Grace], or, at least, cannot see them in the way in which we put them, who nevertheless have received Christ as their Saviour, and are as dear to the heart of the God of grace as the soundest Calvinist in or out of Heaven.

Excerpt taken from A Defense of Calvinism by C.H. Spurgeon: A Defense of Calvinism

Related article, what a defense! For Whom Did Christ Die? & What Did Christ Actually Achieve on the Cross for Those for Whom He Died? – John Piper

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