Sunday, April 12, 2009

James White on really believing the Gospel

Dr. James White has written an excellent article on the topic of really believing the Gospel. Some excerpts:

One is either convicted that the gospel is something that matters or not. There really isn't any middle ground. Saying the gospel is important, but, not really definitional, is absurd. It is no wonder that so many today find Paul a disagreeable character, because as far as I can see, I am following very closely in his footprints on this issue. There is a divine gospel whereby God glorifies Himself in the salvation of His elect, and anything less than that isn't the gospel at all. It's a sham, a fraud, a deception. Now that kind of thinking doesn't sit well in a post-modern world, to be sure, where it smacks of "epistemological arrogance." But to say otherwise is to insist that God has not spoken with clarity and that the Lord has not preserved the gospel for His people.

The fact of the matter is that most "Protestants" in the world today are Protestants of taste rather than Protestants of conviction. They just prefer their religion the way they have it. Maybe they don't like old cathedrals, or they don't like backwards collars, or the smell of candles. Maybe they think the Pope's hat is funny. Whatever the reason, they are not Roman Catholics basically because they don't feel like it. They are not convinced that Rome's gospel is false or that her theology is blasphemous. No, they have never really given all of that much thought. They might find the Marian dogmas a bit odd, but in the final analysis, their current religious affiliation is just a matter of taste, nothing more. And let me tell you: those folks are ripe for conversion: either conversion to Rome, or, conversion to apostasy, either one. For if they have no passion for the gospel, they have no passion for Christ, and hence no foundation of faith.

...

A true Protestant is a person who has made that act of will, that act of faith, in purposefully embracing the gospel of grace in opposition to a gospel of works and who recognizes that what he has embraced is fundamentally opposed to what he has rejected.

Someone who is truly convicted of the Gospel must not be merely positive, but also negative; not only loving [the truth] but hating [the lie]. A merely "positive" faith and Gospel is insufficient! As Dr. White has said:

Saying the gospel is important, but, not really definitional, is absurd.

To what extent does the New Calvinists with their insistence on being together for the Gospel are as such? Will they follow Scripture in all its fullness, or desire to be merely "positive" and refuse to refute heresy as heresy. It is simply not enough to just say "This is not right", but also "This is wrong!"; to say "This is not what the Scriptures teaches", but also "This is against what the Scriptures teaches"; or to say "You are not preaching in line with the Scriptures" instead of saying "You are preaching heresy"! Such an attitude which focuses on the positive while ignoring the negative is a blight on Christianity and contrary to the spirit and tone of Jesus and the Apostles.

To my grief, I have been given an impression by at least one of my New Calvinist friends that we should focus on the positive; on merely teaching the truths of Scripture, but not to rebuke error. In his/their viewpoints, our teachings/ blogs should be focused on teaching people the truth, and error should only be dealt with when they crop up and done so personally. Besides being unbblical and ahistorical (no significant group of Christians has ever adopted this attitude until the last 100-200 years in Church History), this attitude of being only positive and negative just does not work, since positive presentation without negative refutation leaves the way open for men to follow error without knowing it and by the time the error has leavened the loaf, there is nothing any man can do about it. Also, it is possible to be merely positive? I dare anyone to try teaching Christology without reference to any of the Christological heresies in all their forms (including the terms and concepts used) present in the early history of the Church, and see whether such would help people to evade the errors of Arianism or even Modalism. Such people would do well to read Church History of events such as the Downgrade Controversy to find out what happens when people desire to be positive and not contend for the faith — apostasy of the churches.

I have been researching into the New Calvinist movement for some time, and what I have discovered and discerned greatly disturbs me. I am very troubled by what I have found out and sincerely hope I am wrong, but what I have seen is the seeds of apostasy planted in the YRR movement. Those who have read and rejected the philosophy of New Evangelicalism will find the conclusion familiar, for the fruits of New Evangelicalism can be seen around us today: Prostituting of the Gospel for material gain, adding of corporate principles to the idea of Christian ministry, creation and toleration of heresies ie the Openness theology, increasing worldliness in the churches, compromise of the Faith in ecumenism, feminism and other -isms. What the Church does NOT need now is Neo-Evangelicalism version 2,which would do as much if not more damage to the Faith! May God have mercy on us all.

6 comments:

Beng said...

I think it was Phil Johnson who protested: "I'm not a pessimist! I'm a Calvinist!"

What he meant, of course, is that God is still sovereign and in total control of human affairs. So no need to worry.

But, yes, we must contend for the faith, and the truth, and do so faithfully. This is what God would have us do.

And yes, God will have mercy, on all His elect.

PuritanReformed said...

SB:

this is not an article of worry, but an article of sadness and grief.

Joel Tay said...

Quote: "I dare anyone to try teaching Christology without reference to any of the Christological heresies in all their forms (including the terms and concepts used) present in the early history of the Church, and see whether such would help people to evade the errors of Arianism or even Modalism."

Well said.

Also the comparison with neo-evangelism is pretty accurate. There is practically no difference apart from a belief in calvinism/pop-calvinism

PuritanReformed said...

Joel:

Ssadly to say, this seems to be the case. The trigger for me to consider this seriously was Challies' terrible article.

Joel Tay said...

Terrible indeed.

The article did not sound like him at all.

He'll probably get less 99cent subscriptions now. :P

PuritanReformed said...

Joel:

Yup, it was terrible. While in principle Tim later conceded to Phil, I think the fact that that horrible one-sided article ever appeared showed a certain softness towards error.