Sunday, July 05, 2009

Response to Jenson on Ponter's Bunyan shuffle

Over at Ponter's "theology" site, Jenson Lim has decided to leave a comment there which briefly states:


May I say that this whole discussion is getting quite fruitless? Studies in Bunyan is complex, and not for the faint hearted. Amyraldianism is an even bigger subject. I am surprised at the liberal use of Bunyan in these exchanges. (Like Scripture) It is easy to quote Bunyan and say what one wants him to say.

Is this how one “defend the faith”? Are souls going to be won and saints built up with this type of rhetoric? I did not leave a similiar [sic] comment at Daniel’s blog for good reasons, but perhaps leave the chap alone, don’t respond to his posts and get on with Kingdom work.

Yours in Christ, Jenson

While Jenson's comment indeed shows a concern for us to spend more productive time on Kingdom work, I would like to respond with a few points on this topic.

  1. I agree that this discussion will be fruitless IF I am trying to convince Ponter and Byrne. However, that was never my aim. My aim was to silence their foolish prattling on things they know nothing about.
  2. This all started with Byrne's slanderous attack on Dr. James White by calling him a hyper-Calvinist, leading to a slanderous accusation against Dr. White by David Allen in the Arminian John 316 conference late last year 2008.
  3. The Neo-Amyraldians have thus graduated from being a nuisance to a force of destruction against godly ministers and against the act of Gospel proclamation itself.
  4. They have not stopped their endless crusades against orthodox Calvinism but have instead continue their endless tirades and attacks on godly ministers and undermining the truths of Scripture, all under the guise of "Reformed and Puritan scholarship".

As Dr. White, who has given up on those one-note ponies to do REAL ministry, said in his excellent article On Squeamish Calvinists and Hyper Arminians:

"Unless you impute human-like irrationality to God, I will call you names." This seems to be the attitude of many squeamish Calvinists on the net these days. Unless you are willing to drag God down to the level of a flummoxed suitor, who is torn between contradictory desires, you will be called to repent and labeled with terms meant only to damage your ministry, nothing more.

Those who have not been on the frontlines find it amenable to sit in their comfy computer chairs and opine away at the keyboard. They know they will never be called upon to present a consistent defense of the faith, especially in the face of competing world religions. So they have little concern about the use of words like "tension" and "mystery," which are so often used to do little more than cover over contradiction and irrationality. Some actually think they are giving a meaningful apologetic when they openly confess the contradictions in their proclamation.

There is everything right in pointing out that God is God and is under no obligation to explain Himself beyond what He feels is appropriate, right, and self-glorifying. Man has no grounds upon which to demand further explanation than God in His sovereign power and grace deigns to give. But it is quite another to take the revelation He has given and turn it on its head, forcing it into self-contradictory and absurd stances. And to what end?


Now, if you dare to question this perspective, the response will be swift, and predictable. The reply will not be based upon providing sound biblical exegesis that overwhelms you with evidence that God is, in fact, deeply conflicted, and has been, eternally. It is hard to come up with that kind of idea from the descriptions of the Triune Yahweh in the Bible. Oh, sure, there are a few anthropomorphisms that can be shared gleefully with the open theists and the inclusivists and the universalists, etc., but you won't be in any danger of getting hit with a ton of sound exegesis on all the passages that plainly state that God is pursuing an eternal purpose that will result in His own singular glory. No,the retort you will receive will have little to do with exegesis, and everything to do with monikers. Nick-names. Associations.

Want a modern example? Consider Robert Reymond, a fine theologian, teacher, and godly man. Hyper-Calvinist! is the cry when he dares to point out the absurdity of attributing to God a self-imposed internal conflict that results, inevitably, in His own eternal unhappiness and lack of fulfillment. If you ask, "But, how do you respond to his actual argument?" you get back, "Hyper-Calvinist!" Evidently the very harshness of the phrase (especially its association with various and sundry nutcases on the Internet) is meant to stun your thought processes and cause you to curl up in the theological fetal position. You are to immediately run for cover, or join the growing throng that is gathering wood and fire to rid the earth of such a vile creature. The idea that the phrase has historical meaning is not in the forefront. The fact that it had a meaning in Spurgeon's England that is different in many respects from modern day America is likewise cast to the wind. No, once the Hyper epithet has been used, you might as well try naming your kid Hitler and get away with it. The argument is over.

What has this mini-Reformed-jihad gotten us? Well, thanks to these folks most are afraid to even admit to owning a single volume of John Gill's works. Here's how the conversation goes.

"Well, I noted that on that particular text relating to the resurrection John Gill said....

"JOHN GILL!!?? You're a hyper-Calvinist!"

"What? I was talking about his comments on the resurrection."

"But he was a hyper-Calvinist, and every person who has ever read a word he wrote is a hyper-Calvinist, and every person with one of his books in their library is a hyper-Calvinist, and every person who has ever owned a John Gill book believes and lives and thinks exactly like John Gill, and is therefore a hyper-Calvinist. And to agree with anything John Gill ever said is to prove, beyond all dispute and argument, that you are a hyper-Calvinist!"

"But...John Gill masterfully defended such things at the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the inspiration of Scripture, the resurrection....

""I can't believe you are a hyper-Calvinist! I had so much respect for you before!"

About the only positive thing I can see that has come from the SC movement (Squeamish Calvinists) has been the sale of plain book covers---used to hide The Cause of God and Truth so that you don't offend them when they are scanning your library shelves for evidence of unorthodoxy. But the general fear that exists in those writing for the Reformed community at running afoul of one of these self-appointed label-makers is most lamentable. If you dare disagree with the comments of Spurgeon or Murray (never mind being able to fairly, soundly cite others who have done the same) your reasons for doing so will not matter. Labels defy reason, they defy argument, they defy consistency. Allow me to throw myself upon the sacrificial pyre in hopes of edifying the reader.

This is the reason why the Neo-Amyraldians must be silenced! They can of course continue to sprout more and more irrational nonsense, but at least now I have a suitable counter against their pernicious errors, which I have made my own. The next time any of such nonsense comes along in undermining the Gospel message and attacking ministers of God for being "hyper-Calvinists", I will have a proven rebuttal against their slanderous attacks.

And by the way, yes, historic Amyraldism is a heady topic. I have read Brian G. Armstrong's Calvinism and the Amyraut Heresy (Euregon, OR, USA: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1969) and it is an academic book, not a popular book. Not to mention it is one of those "scholastic Calvinists have distorted the real teachings of Calvin" humanistic treatment of Moses Amyraut and his teaching. Regardless, the issue here is not historic Amyraldism but their theological offspring the Neo-Amyraldians, who must be opposed in the same way Amyraut was opposed by Huguenot minister Pierre du Moulin. Incidentally, the book itself states the motive of Amyraut and James Cameron his mentor was to go back to Calvin's thought. This should give us some pause when we see the same reason given by these self-proclaimed scholars who desire to bring back "our theological tradition" to what they also think is historic "moderate" Calvinism.

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